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American Resistance To Empire

US Armored Vehicles Filmed Near Syrian/Turkish Border

[Turkish Jets Bomb “Obama’s Boys” (Now Trump’s Problem)]

Reports: US troops deploy along Syria-Turkish border

BEIRUT — U.S. armored vehicles are deploying in areas in northern Syria along the tense border with Turkey, a few days after a Turkish airstrike that killed 20 U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters, a Syrian war monitor and Kurdish activists said Friday.

Footage posted by Syrian activists online showed a convoy of U.S. armored vehicles driving on a rural road in the village of Darbasiyah, a few hundred meters from the Turkish border. Clashes in the area were reported between Turkish and Kurdish forces Wednesday a day after the Turkish airstrike which also destroyed a Kurdish command headquarters.

The Turkish airstrikes, which also wounded 18 members of the U.S.-backed People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in Syria were criticized by both the U.S. and Russia. The YPG is a close U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State group but is seen by Ankara as a terrorist group because of its ties to Turkey’s Kurdish rebels.

Further clashes between Turkish and Kurdish forces in Syria could potentially undermine the U.S.-led war on the Islamic State group.

A senior Kurdish official, Ilham Ahmad told The Associated Press that American forces began carrying out patrols along the border Thursday along with reconnaissance flights in the area. She said the deployment was in principle temporary, but may become more permanent.

A Kurdish activist in the area, Mustafa Bali, said the deployment is ongoing, adding that it stretches from the Iraqi border to areas past Darbasiyah in the largely Kurdish part of eastern Syria.

“The U.S. role has now become more like a buffer force between us and the Turks on all front lines,” he said. He said U.S. forces will also deploy as a separation force in areas where the Turkish-backed Syrian fighting forces and the Kurdish forces meet.

It is a message of reassurance for the Kurds and almost a “warning message” to the Turks, he said.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, did not dispute that U.S. troops are operating with elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) along the Turkish border, but he would not get into specifics. The SDF is a Kurdish-dominated alliance fighting IS that includes Arab fighters.

“We have U.S. forces that are there throughout the entirety of northern Syria that operate with our Syrian Democratic Force partners,” Davis said. “The border is among the areas where they operate.” He said the U.S. wants the SDF to focus on liberating the IS-held town of Tabqa and the extremist group’s de facto capital, Raqqa, “and not be drawn into conflicts elsewhere.”

Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the deployment seems limited and is aimed to “prevent fighting” between the two sides.

The U.S. has recently shifted from working quietly behind the scenes in Syria’s conflict toward overt displays of U.S. force in an attempt to shape the fight.

Last month, about 200 Marines rolled into northern Syria backed with howitzers, significantly widening America’s footprint in a highly toxic battlefield. The Marines’ deployment came days after another intervention, when dozens of army troops drove outside the town of Manbij, riding Stryker armored vehicles, following an earlier conflagration of fighting between Syrian Kurdish troops and Turkish troops. The U.S. deployment in Manbij intentionally put Americans in the middle of that rivalry, hoping to cool it down.

The SDF retook Manbij from IS control, and Turkey — with its troops nearby — said it won’t allow the town to be under Kurdish control, threatening to move on it. The American presence appears intended to reassure Ankara the Kurds don’t hold the town.

But the new deployment puts U.S. troops directly along the border with Turkey, another flashpoint, and immerses Washington into that increasingly hot fight.

Separately, the chief of the international chemical weapons watchdog said on Friday that he has a team of experts ready and willing to travel to the site of this month’s deadly nerve gas incident in Syria if their safety can be assured.

“We are willing to go to Khan Sheikhoun and we have undertaken some actions,” Ahmet Uzumcu of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told a small group of reporters in The Hague.

Syrian ally Russia has called for an international investigation into the April 4 attack that killed nearly 90 people. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov this week expressed regret that the OPCW turned down the Syrian government’s offers to visit the site of the attack and investigate. Russia has rejected Western accusations that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government was behind the attack.

Uzumcu said that the area of the town of Khan Sheikhoun where the incident happened is controlled by opposition rebels, adding that the watchdog experts will “need to strike some deals with them,” such as a temporary ceasefire, to assure the team’s safety before it can deploy.

The OPCW has been extremely cautious about sending investigators to Syria since a team of its experts came under attack there in 2014. Uzumcu said the organization is in daily contact with U.N. authorities over the security situation in Syria.

The Syrian president has categorically rejected accusations that his forces were behind the attack.

Uzumcu is not yet calling the April 4 incident a chemical weapons attack, but he has said that tests by his organization have established beyond doubt that sarin or a similar toxin was used.

Other nations, however, have already labelled it an attack and blamed the Syrian government.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said earlier this week that the attack “bears the signature” of Assad’s government and shows it was responsible.

Uzumcu said his organization is not yet in a position to confirm the French findings.

The OPCW’s team is already gathering evidence from victims and survivors and testing samples outside Syria. Uzumcu said he expects an initial report to be issued in about 10 days. The initial OPCW investigation will not apportion blame — that is left to a separate investigative mechanism made up of OPCW and U.N. experts.


Burns reported from Washington, DC. Associated Press writers Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.

SARAH EL DEEB and BOB BURNS

 

PKK Responds To Turkish Airstrikes w/Threats of Real War

 

 

A Syrian Kurd carrying a picture of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), takes part in a protest in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli this week, to denounce the Turkish raids on Kurdish positions in northeastern Syria. Photo: AFP/Delil Souleiman
A Syrian Kurd carrying a picture of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), takes part in a protest in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli this week, to denounce the Turkish raids on Kurdish positions in northeastern Syria. Photo: AFP/Delil Souleiman

 

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) warns that its armed forces will now fight against what they describe as the fascism of the Turkish ruling party everywhere following Turkey’s recent airstrikes against a PKK-affiliate group in the Shingal in the Kurdistan Region and some Kurdish fighters in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).
In a statement, the PKK says its armed wing, the People’s Protection Force (HPG) and its female counterpart YPJ-Star will be deployed to where they are needed.
It grouped together the Turkish Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), and ISIS as ones who have the same goal of crushing the will of the Yezidi people in Shingal, and the people of Syria.
“After the occupation of Jarablus and al-Bab, and the April 24th attack in Shingal and Rojava [Syrian Kurdistan], the PKK has the right to carry out its struggle against the fascism of the AKP and MHP wherever they are,” a statement from the PKK read, as published by its media affiliate ANF News Agency Thursday evening.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA), backed by Turkish armed forces captured the two Syrian cities of Jarablus and al-Bab from ISIS in late 2016, and early 2017,respectively.
The People’s Protection Units  (YPG) in Rojava also aimed at the two cities that are close to Turkey’s southern border.
“…the HPGP and the YPJ-Star will be present wherever they are needed,” the PKK declared, raising expectations that they may engage in armed fight against the Turkish forces in Kurdistan Region, and in Syria.
It said that the Turkish airstrikes, which the PKK said happened on Monday while in fact it was on Tuesday, coincided with the anniversary of the Armenian genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Turks that started on April 24, 1915.
The Turkish air force carried out simultaneous air strikes against the PKK-affiliate group Shingal Protections Units (YBS) and the US-backed YPG on April 25 citing what it described as the elimination of threats against the Turkish national security.
The Turkish fighter jets also bombed a Peshmerga position last Tuesday in Shingal that was in close proximity to the YBS units, killing six Peshmerga and injuring another eight.
Turkish President Erdogan and Prime Minister Binali Yildirim both called the Kurdish President Masoud Barzani on Tuesday, expressing their condolences over the killing of Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers in Shingal, emphasizing that the strike happened by “mistake” and that it was not “intentional.”
The United States whose forces are supporting the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Syria in their drive against ISIS said that the attacks were not approved by the US-led coalition in Iraq or Syria. The US revealed that the Turkish military informed them only 20 minutes before the attacks.
Turkey also said that they informed the Kurdistan Regional Government beforehand.
The PKK insisted that the attacks could not have happened if it did not have green light from regional and international powers, Kurdish authorities in Erbil.

3 ISIS Terrorists Went To Take A Crap On Kirkuk and the Hogs Ate/Killed Them

Wild boars rampage in Kirkuk, leave 3 Islamic State members dead

 

Wild boar (representational photo)

Kirkuk (IraqiNews.com) Three Islamic State militants died late Sunday when wild boars attacked them in southern Kirkuk, a local source was quoted saying.

The animals went on a rampage near a farmland in al-Rashad region, an Islamic State pocket 53 kilometers south of Kirkuk. They attacked the militants and left three killed, according to the source.

Alsumaria News quoted the source saying that “Daesh (Islamic State) militants took revenge at the pigs that attacked the farmland,” but did not clarify the method.

Since emerging in 2014 to proclaim a self-styled “Islamic Caliphate”, IS members have held areas in southwestern Kirkuk, where thousands of civilians had to flee the group’s rule to refugee camps in the province and neighboring cities. Local officials have repeatedly urged the government to hasten with security efforts to liberate IS-held regions in Kirkuk, but the Iraqi government is currently employing its full military power in the six-month-old campaign to retake Mosul, IS’s biggest stronghold in Iraq. It is expected that the government will launch further offensives against IS havens across Iraq once the campaign in Mosul concludes.

Islamic State militants have regularly executed civilians in Kirkuk over accusations of collaboration with security forces or attempting to flee the province to refugee camps.

Russian Intelligence Ship Sinks After Collision In Black Sea

Russian Navy Ship Sinks In Black Sea After Collision With Freighter

Almost 80 Russian Navy sailors were rescued off the coast of Turkey Thursday when a military intelligence ship collided with a freighter carrying livestock.

The Turkish coastal safety authority said the Russian ship, identified as the “Liman.” collided with the Togo-flagged “Youzarsif H.”

Image: The Russian reconnaissance ship Liman, pictured here in 2016 before it sank.
The Russian reconnaissance ship Liman, pictured here in 2016 before it sank. Murad Sezer / Reuters

The Liman is a former research vessel that the Russian navy has retro-fitted into a reconnaissance ship.

Turkish shipping agency GAC said that the collision was caused due to fog and low visibility 18 miles from Kilyos village, on the Black Sea coast just north of Istanbul.

According to the Turkish coastal authority website, a tugboat was dispatched along with three fast rescue vessels to bring the Russian sailors to safety.

In total, 78 were rescued and there were no injuries reported on the freighter.

Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait, which cuts through Istanbul, is one of the world’s most important waterways for transit of oil and grains. The 17-mile waterway connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

US Drone Kills David Headley Co-Conspirator In N. Waziristan

one of the dead militants as Abdur Rahman, a senior commander of the Pakistani Taliban.

Abdur Rehman retired in 2007 from the Pakistan army as a Major.[2] He worked closely with Lashkar-e-Taiba and coordinated the activities of a Chicago man, David Headley. He was arrested in 2009 in Pakistan on unspecified charges and later released.[3][4][5]”

Suspected U.S. Drone Strike Targets Pakistani Taliban Militants: Regional Official

 


By Saud Mehsud

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) – A suspected U.S. drone strike killed several Pakistani Taliban militants in North Waziristan close to the Afghanistan border, a regional government official and an Islamist militant said on Thursday, in a rare strike on Pakistani soil.

If confirmed, the air strike, which happened on Wednesday, would be only the second drone attack inside the nuclear-armed nation since U.S. President Donald Trump took office in January.

Kamran Afridi, a senior regional official in the tribal region of North Waziristan, told Reuters in a text message a “drone strike” had struck Pakistani Taliban militants close to the Afghanistan border and killed seven fighters.

Afridi, who holds the post of ‘political agent’ in North Waziristanl, identified one of the dead militants as Abdur Rahman, a senior commander of the Pakistani Taliban. Several other militant sources said Rahman was killed.

Abdullah Wazirstani, spokesman for North Waziristan Taliban, a group linked to the Pakistani Taliban, said the strike killed three civilian “laborers” and seven militants from the Pakistani Taliban, which is also known as TTP.

Malik Waheedullah, a local tribal leader, told Reuters he saw two missiles strike a mountain home which caught fire. “I drove away as fast as I could,” he said.

One Pakistani intelligence official and government source said they believed the strike to be a U.S. drone attack.

U.S. officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

North Waziristan was a Taliban stronghold until 2014, when Pakistan’s military launched a major offensive against the group and pushed many of its fighters across the border into Afghanistan.

U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan have become rare over the past few years. In its last high-profile attack inside Pakistan, the United States last May killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in the southwestern province of Baluchistan.

(Additional reporting by Javed Hussain, Jibran Ahmad and Haji Mujataba; writing by Drazen Jorgic; editing by Saad Sayeed and Ralph Boulton)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters.

Department of Justice Press Release
Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed (Abdur Rehman)
For Immediate Release
December 7, 2009
United States Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Illinois
Contact: (312) 353-5300

Chicagoan Charged with Conspiracy in 2008 Mumbai Attacks in Addition to Foreign Terror Plot in Denmark
Additional Charges Unsealed Alleging Retired Pakistani Major Conspired in Danish Plot

 

 

 

 

 

Abdur Rehman Hashim Syed (Abdur Rehman), aka Pasha

 

Abdur Rehman complaint

The two-count complaint unsealed against Abdur Rehman, which was filed on Oct. 20, 2009, charges him with conspiracy to murder and maim persons in a foreign country, and providing material support to that foreign terrorism conspiracy. Abdur Rehman allegedly participated in the planning of a terrorist attack in Denmark, coordinated surveillance of the intended targets, and facilitated communications regarding the surveillance and planning with a member of Lashkar and Kashmiri.

Abdur Rehman, who was not named previously but whose alleged participation was described in the initial charges against Headley and Rana, allegedly played the central role in communicating with Headley and facilitating contacts with other co-conspirators in Pakistan, including members of Lashkar. During Headley’s trip to Pakistan in January 2009, Abdur Rehman took him to the FATA region of Pakistan to meet with Kashmiri and solicit the participation of Kashmiri and his organization in the planned attack on the Danish newspaper, according to the complaint against Abdur Rehman. A search of Headley’s luggage when he was arrested revealed a list of phone numbers, including a Pakistani number that he allegedly had used to contact Abdur Rehman.

The count against Headley charging conspiracy to bomb public places in India that resulted in deaths carries a maximum statutory penalty of life imprisonment or death. All of the other counts against Headley carry a maximum of life imprisonment, except providing material support to the Denmark terror plot, which carries a maximum prison term of 15 years.

The conspiracy to murder or maim persons in a foreign country charge against Abdur Rehman carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and the count of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorism carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The prosecution of Headley and Abdur Rehman is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Daniel Collins and Victoria J. Peters from the Northern District of Illinois, with assistance from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. The investigation into the Mumbai attacks is continuing with the active participation of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

The public is reminded that criminal charging documents contain mere allegations that are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

It’s Time To Speak Of The Global Horror Wrought By Obama

 

Absent U.S. leadership, a large swath of the globe is now a lawless power-vacuum that NATO countries can no longer ignore

 

Afghan National Army soldiers, left, and American soldiers from Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Armored Division, destroy a Taliban firing position in the Layadira village of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2013. As American troops prepare to speed up their 2014 withdrawal, it is clear some of it will happen under fire, as Taliban fighters try to strike at departing soldiers. (Bryan Denton/New York Times/Getty Images)Afghan National Army soldiers, left, and American soldiers from Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Armored Division, destroy a Taliban firing position in the Layadira village of Kandahar province, Afghanistan, Feb. 14, 2013. As American troops prepare to speed up their 2014 withdrawal, it is clear some of it will happen under fire, as Taliban fighters try to strike at departing soldiers. (Bryan Denton/New York Times/Getty Images)

As Afghanistan continues to reel from last week’s assault on an army base in the northern province of Balkh—the bloodiest Taliban atrocity since 2001—it’s high time the NATO countries, Canada included, faced up to something awkward. However ill-tutored and imprudent Donald Trump may be, the catastrophe that has descended upon that great swath of the Earth, from Tripoli to Peshawar, is the legacy of eight years of Barack Obama’s fecklessness and wishful thinking.

It took the traumatic shock of al-Qaeda’s 9-11 attack to teach us all a lesson that we are all being forced to learn again in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Yemen: you can’t just walk away from the world. Abandon parts of the globe to mayhem, warlordism and lawlessness and the state-power vacuum will quickly fill with horrors that the NATO capitals will not be able to ignore.

It’s not just that the Obama-led retreat from a century’s worth of covenants on war crimes, chemical warfare and other crimes against humanity in Syria has already all but destroyed the values-based international order. Nearly a half million Syrians have been killed, and the shadow of millions of refugees pouring across the Mediterranean is darkening all hopes of holding together a 70-year consensus that had united Europe.

RELATED: Our day of reckoning for Syria is coming

Six years ago, France and the Arab League had to drag Obama into a NATO operation that aimed to prevent a Syrian-scale mass slaughter of Libyans by the lunatic dictator Moammar Gadhafi. After the collapse of the Gadhafi regime, Obama opposed a UN peacekeeping force that could have prevented Libya from falling apart, and following Obama’s fashionable lead, we all walked away. After more than two years of stumbling towards a secular, representative democracy, Libya eventually collapsed into pandemonium, becoming the Islamic State and human-smuggling haven that it is today.

In Yemen two years ago, Obama took the opportunity of what was then a ragtag, marginal and containable Houthi insurgency to close down the CIA station running operations against al-Qaeda in the country and shutter the American garrison entirely. Saudi Arabia immediately began a bombing campaign that has resulted in at least 10,000 deaths. Qasem Soleimani, who heads up Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, is supplying the Shia Houthis with military equipment and advisers in a proxy war waged against Yemen’s Saudi-backed Sunni forces.

This week in Geneva, the United Nations is appealing to international donors to help stave off the famine facing nearly seven million Yemenis in what UN officials now call “the largest humanitarian crisis in the world.”

This brings us back to Afghanistan, where at least 160 fresh Afghan Army recruits were murdered while they were concluding their Friday prayers last week at Camp Shaheen in Balkh. Two of the attackers blew themselves up in the crowds of soldiers outside the camp’s mosque, and the rest went on a shooting spree that lasted several hours.

(By way of comparison, last Friday’s death toll was pretty well the same as the number of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan—158—during the Canadian Forces’ entire 10-year sojourn in the country.)

Ever since May 2014, when Obama announced he intended to withdraw the last U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have been gaining ground. Reckoning it was only a matter of time before NATO was gone, the Taliban’s Quetta Shura in Pakistan went on the offensive. Lately they have been joined by jihadists aligned with ISIS in Iraq and Syria—the target of Trump’s April 13 GBU-43 Massive Ordnance Air Blast (“Mother Of All Bombs”), dropped on a cave complex in Nangarhar province adjacent to the border with Pakistan.

READ MORE: After the MOAB, Afghanistan reverberates still

After promising to pull American troops from Iraq—which he did, allowing ISIS to spread its gangrene from the outskirts of Baghdad to the Syrian town of Raqqa—Obama was so eager to make an impression on American voters in the 2014 congressional election season that he accelerated his troop drawdown in Afghanistan to a speed his own generals warned would invite disaster.

Disaster is exactly what unfolded. By last summer, the Taliban controlled more Afghan territory than at any point since 2001.

From its peak of 130,000 troops from 51 countries in the UN-sanctioned International Security Assistance Force (Canada’s last soldiers left Afghanistan in 2014), the international coalition backing Afghanistan’s nascent democracy and the Afghan National Security Forces has been reduced to 14,000 non-combat soldiers (about half of them American) from 39 countries, engaged mostly in troop-training.

On Monday, U.S. General John Nicholson, who heads up the NATO-led operation, stood beside U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis, who was paying a surprise visit to Afghanistan. They both hinted strongly that the Kremlin, which has played host to the Taliban in meetings in Moscow, might now be arming the Taliban as well.

This is exactly the kind of horror show that should be expected when NATO’s democracies, which have always been dependent upon American power, simply walk away from the world.

Canadian soldiers shed blood for Afghanistan, and the disaster unfolding there now is not something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan or Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland can simply ignore.

Iraq Intercepts $500+ Million In Cash At Baghdad Airport, From Qatar, To Iraqi/Syrian Rebels

Iraq considers next move after intercepting ‘world’s largest’ ransom for kidnapped Qataris

 

 

Exclusive: Prime Minister’s leaked memo reveals Baghdad’s anger as Qataris try to pay militias $500m in cash seized at Baghdad airport

 

Officials at Baghdad International Airport became suspicious earlier this month when their X-ray machines could not see into 23 large bags unloaded from a Qatari plane, producing only a black image because the contents were wrapped in a special material impenetrable to detecting devices. They were further amazed when they opened the bags to discover that they contained hundreds of millions of dollars and euros in cash worth a total of $500m (£389m), says an Iraqi source.

It is now clear that the money was ransom for 24 Qataris, several of them leading members of the Qatari royal al-Thani family, and two Saudis who had been hunting with falcons with official permission in supposedly safe southern Iraq when they were kidnapped 16 months ago by a Shia militia task force. A deal to get them released has been complicated by negotiations involving Qatar and Iran as well as Shia and Sunni militias over the simultaneous evacuation of people long besieged in four towns, two Shia and two Sunni, in northern and southern  Syria respectively.

The extraordinary story of the $500m ransom – perhaps the biggest ransom ever in history – and the release of the Qatari royalty is revealed in a confidential document sent by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and obtained exclusively by The Independent. In a special report dated 22 April, six days after the episode at the airport, he gives senior members of his ruling Dawa Party a detail account of actions by his government, Qatar and other players inside and outside Iraq though the precise identity of several is left vague.

Mr Abadi says that Qatar had requested the Iraqi government for permission to land an aircraft at Baghdad International Airport on 15 April on the understanding that it would take on board freed members of the kidnapped hunting party. But he says the airport officials were “surprised that there were 23 large heavy bags that appeared without prior notice or approval”. When these were put in the X-ray machine “the image appeared black”, which meant that whatever was inside was wrapped in a special impenetrable material.

Those on board the plane included the Qatari ambassador to Iraq and a special envoy from the Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, but they had not asked for the bags to be given diplomatic immunity. They apparently had not done so because they believed that the kidnappers or their emissaries had their own people at the airport who would take charge of the money.

Mr Abadi says that even before opening the bags Iraqi officials had become convinced, through overhearing the conversation of the Qataris, that they contained money. What they did not know was how much, so when they finally searched them and counted the cash they were astonished to discover that the amount totalled “hundreds of millions of dollars and euros”. By then the Iraqi government had been told, presumably by the Qataris, that the cash was a ransom payment. But its officials still confiscated it since their government had not been informed about what was going on and they were chary of seeing such a large sum paid to a militia that would inevitably be empowered by a massive cash injection. “Hundreds of millions for armed groups? Is this acceptable?” Mr Abadi asked later at a press conference.

The militia widely reported to have carried out the original kidnapping of the hunting party in Iraq’s southern Muthanna proince in December 2015 was the powerful Iranian-supported movement known as Ketaeb Hezbollah, which is distinct from Lebanese Hezbollah. But all Iraqi and Syrian militias both Shia and Sunni have links, often undeclared and unprovable but well known to most Iraqis and Syrians, to local politicians, political parties and foreign states. Sometimes, the militias are simple proxies of others but usually the relationship is more complex with a degree of mutual dependence.

Mr Abadi hints at this when he mentions in his report that, as news of the confiscation of the money at the airport spread in Baghdad, “third parties intervened strongly, some from the highest levels” and others threatened to use armed force. The Qatari envoy and the Qatari ambassador who had arrived on the plane had a bitter dispute over what had gone wrong.  What is not clear is why the kidnappers released their hostages on 21 April, though they had not yet received the ransom, unless they were confident that once it was in Baghdad airport it was as good as in their hands or replacement funds had been sent by Qatar. Mr Abadi says that the Qataris had been led to believe that “the sponsors of the kidnappers” had effective control of the airport and of the security forces there.

A second strong reason for the freeing of the hostages going ahead is that their release was part of a regional deal involving Qatar, Iran, Jabhat al-Nusra, formerly the al-Qaeda representative in Syria, as well as various Shia militias. This relates to the fate of two Shia towns, Fua and Kefraya, with a combined population of 40,000, that have long been under siege by Sunni Arab militia forces including al-Nusra in Idlib province in northern Syria, and two Sunni towns, Madaya and Zabadani west of Damascus, that are besieged by pro-Syrian government forces including Lebanese Hezbollah. Under an agreement all four towns were to see simultaneous and linked evacuations as a result of stop-go negotiations that have been going on for several years. On the day of the hunters’ release last Friday, an Iraqi source told AFP “the Qataris are now in Haider al-Abadi’s office following a deal between Jabhat al-Nusra and the kidnappers.”

The release of the hostages had earlier been stalled when busses carrying Shia evacuees from Fua and Kefraya were attacked on 15 April  by a suicide bomber in a vehicle, which exploded, killing 126 people, including 68 children and wounding a further 300. This was the same day that the Qatari plane landed in Baghdad. Given that all militias in Syria and Iraq are highly criminalised, the money would presumably have to be shared out among all of those involved as well as with some of their outside sponsors.

Mr Abadi is clearly angry at the way in which Iraq has been caught up in the complicated manoeuvres of foreign powers like Qatar, Iran, Lebanese Hezbollah and a variety of Iraqi and Syrian private armies. He says that “allowing [the Qataris] to deliver big money to armed groups in Iraq, and perhaps also to terrorist groups is to fuel the war.”

The affair has not ended since the Iraqi government now has half a billion dollars whom very violent paramilitary groups and their sponsors were expecting to be paid to them. These are often described as militias, though in fact they are heavily-equipped private armies who pose as community defenders, but are frequently guns-for-hire for foreign states and for their own enrichment. They will not resign themselves easily to the loss of the contents of the 23 bags confiscated at Baghdad airport.

Israeli Air Forces Destroy Weapons Depot Left By Retreating ISIS In Damascus

[Israeli missiles destroyed an ISIS arsenal, seized by Syrian Army, under pretext that these arms were destined for Hezbollah and others (Israeli strike hits Iranian arms supply depot in Damascus: source).]

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:55 P.M.) – On Tuesday, shock units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) sliced through ISIS-held desert territory, seizing 20 square kilometers from the hardline jihadist group.

The surprise government advance, some six kilometers in depth, was conducted east of the Tishreen Power Plant in a region not far from Damascus International Airport.

Islamic State contingents largely withdrew from the sparsely populated area over the past week amid a tactical retreat through the Syrian Desert towards Palmyra. US vetted Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters have also advanced in the area recently.

Strategically, this operation secures an important bufferzone around the East Ghouta pocket which speculations suggest that Jordanian-backed and US-trained Syrian rebels will try to reach in a bid to break its long-standing siege.

250+ Name Casualty List Compiled From Afghan Camp Shaheen Massacre

Credible sources have disclosed the death toll in Friday’s deadly attack on the Balkh military base was over 250.

While Afghans continue to reel from the Taliban’s deadly attack on 209 Shaheen Corps in the northern province of Balkh, the Afghan government has been accused of hiding the truth about Friday’s bloodbath.  

Sources however have told TOLOnews that the number of casualties was much higher than the figure announced by government.

Based on information gathered from different sources, so far the identity of 256 soldiers from ten provinces have been confirmed.

According to credible sources in Kabul and other provinces so far it is known that 68 soldiers from Badakhshan were killed, 50 soldiers from Nangarhar, 40 soldiers from Baghlan, 33 from Takhar, 24 from Uruzgan, 18 from Helmand, 13 from Kunduz, five from Samangan, three from Kabul and two soldiers from Parwan.

Sources have said that many more died – including soldiers from Laghman, Uruzgan and Helmand provinces.

“Unfortunately our wounded soldiers increased the level of our casualties. This is the main reason for the rising casualties. Soldiers were participating in Friday prayers,” said former army chief of staff Qadam Shah Shaheem, who stepped down on Monday following the attack.

According to sources, government decided to withhold the actual death toll.

“The people want information and government must respond; what government talks about is general information,” said Nasir Taimoori, a researcher at Integrity Watch Afghanistan.

“The government has always lied the people of Afghanistan, but this time Allah revealed his curse on them, we all know that initially government put the death toll at eight people,” said MP Arif Rahmani.

On Friday, ten Taliban insurgents all dressed in full military gear stormed the largest military base in the north. Three of them were suicide bombers and managed to gain access to where hundreds of soldiers had gathered. Most of the soldiers had been unarmed at the time.

Sources also said that the majority of victims were new recruits who had only recently joined the army.

Meanwhile a senior diplomatic source said: “If soldiers are killed inside your military base and you cannot count it, it makes you look even worse.”

Heavy ISIS/Taliban Infighting Near Site of Camp Shaheen Massacre

[Taliban Kill 140+ In Mazar e-Sharif, Despite On-site German Troops and US Special Forces Nearby–(Taliban claim 500 killed) ; Govt ‘Covering Up’ Actual Death Toll in Army Base Attack–(deadly attack on the Balkh military base was over 250)]

Nearly 100 dead as Taliban, Daesh clash in Afghanistan

Ongoing fighting related to opium crop, kidnap of drug smugglers in north

Nearly 100 dead as Taliban, Daesh clash in Afghanistan

By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan

Nearly 100 Taliban and pro-Daesh militants have been killed in fighting in northern Afghanistan, police said Wednesday.

Sporadic fighting in the Darzab district of Jowzjan province is ongoing, Rahmatullah Turkistani, a spokesman for the Afghan National Police, told Anadolu Agency.

He said a total of 91 militants had been killed in clashes over the kidnapping of drug smugglers who were to pay the Taliban as part of an opium deal.

“The clashes erupted when group of armed Taliban attacked Daesh militants [to secure] the release of three drug smugglers who came here to pay 10 million afghanis [$14,780] to the Taliban for a deal,” Turkistani said.

Raza Ghafori, a spokesman for the provincial administration, confirmed the casualties and said the Taliban had borne the brunt of the losses.

Taliban spokesman Zabehullah Mujahid acknowledged recent clashes between the two groups but did not provide further details.

Like many parts of northern Afghanistan, Jowzjan province is not a traditional Taliban stronghold.

The militants who have pledged allegiance to Daesh are strongest in the mountainous east, where a significant number of Pakistani militants fill their ranks.

Earlier this month, the U.S. dropped a huge GBU-43/B MOAB bomb in a network of tunnels in Nangarhar province, killing at least 90 Daesh militants.

However, Daesh sympathizers associated with the Uzbekistan Islamic Movement are gaining ground in northern provinces.

Last month, U.S. military spokesman Capt. Bill Salvin said the U.S. aimed to drive Daesh out of Afghanistan by the end of the year.

He told Anadolu Agency that the U.S. believed there are up to 1,000 Daesh fighters in Nangarhar and neighboring Kunar province.

Afghanistan’s girls show the dark side of America’s influence on the world

Afghanistan’s girls show the dark side of America’s influence on the world

Summary: Trump is committing America to the overthrow of a 4th secular regime in the Middle East, probably to be replaced (like the others) by a fundamentalist Islamic government (or chaos). Amidst the cheering for Trump, let’s look at what we have done for the women in Afghanistan. Let’s remember that before we wreck another country.

People say “you can’t turn back the clock.”
Islamic Fundamentalists have proven that you can do so.
You just can’t care if others see you as evil.

Afghanistan Women in the Burka

America has helped overthrow three secular regimes — Afghanistan in the 1980s (Operation Cyclone, “Charlie Wilson’s War”), Operation Iraq Freedom in 2003, and Libya (Operation Unified Protector in 2011). Fundamentalist Islamic regimes replaced them all (in Libya, with along chaos).

Now we are doing it again in Syria (Operation Inherent ResolveTimber Sycamore, etc.). See this mind-blowing ignorant advocacy at National Review by influential Middle East expert Matthew Brodsky. As with our first three interventions, we ignore the likely Islamic government that will replace Assad. We ignore the likely effects of this regime change on Syria’s people, as we have ignored our responsibility for the horrific effects of our past revolutions.

As a reminder, consider Afghanistan. It made great progress in the 1950s and 1960s. This continued in the turbulent 1970s, with a quiet coup in 1973 against the monarchy, the communist revolution in 1978. The communists accelerated the pace of modernization, with more rights for women.

The Mujahideen, largely fundamentalist Islamic warriors, rebelled. US propaganda told Americans they were secular western-loving rebels (we love being lied to). The Soviets sent troops to help the government fight the insurgents, as America has done so many times. We intervened to help the Islamic rebels (Operation Cyclone) — who won. (See details about our role at the end of the post.)

Afghanistan was not heaven before our intervention, or even Buffalo. For details see “Women in Afghanistan” by Amnesty International, October 2013.

“Afghan women were first eligible to vote in 1919 – only a year after women in the UK were given voting rights, and a year before the women in the United States were allowed to vote. In the 1950s purdah (gendered separation) was abolished; in the 1960s a new constitution brought equality to many areas of life, including political participation.”

We helped end that. The following photos show a nation working to join the world’s civilization. The first photo shows the fantastic change from then to now, with women’s role in society rolled back several centuries. At the College of Medicine in Kabul two Afghan medical students listen to their professor as they examine a plaster cast from a human body. Photo from The Atlantic: “Afghanistan in the 1950s and 60s“.

Women at the Kabul Medical School in 1962 - Afghanistan
AFP/Getty Photo.

A scene in a Kabul record store, date unknown (probably late 1950s or early 1960s). From a photo essay by Mohammad Qayoumi in Foreign Policy.

Women at a record store in Kabul, Afghanistan

A photo from Kabul in 1967 by Dr. Bill Podlich published in the Daily Mail: “Life before the Taliban“. Back then girls attended high school (shown here in their uniforms). See women at the park — in western clothes, with no male escort.

Kabul - 1967 - High School girls - Afghanistan

Women at a park in Kabul, Afghanistan - 1967

Here are photos of Kabul in the 1970s (validity, sources and dates are unknown).

Women of Kabul in 1970s - Afghanistan

Women at a Kabul Park - Afghanistan

For more of photos of this troubled country see the “Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan” page at Facebook.

Afghanistan today

Women in Afghanistan-Reuters

The Taliban enforce their version of Islamic Sharia law. Women and girls are tightly regulated. See some of the details in “Women in Afghanistan” by Amnesty International, October 2013.

  • Banned from going to school or studying.
  • Banned from working.
  • Banned from leaving the house without a male chaperone.
  • Banned from showing their skin in public.
  • Banned from accessing healthcare delivered by men (with women forbidden from working, healthcare was virtually inaccessible).
  • Banned from being involved in politics or speaking publicly.

“There were many other ways their rights were denied to them. Women were essentially invisible in public life, imprisoned in their home. In Kabul, residents were ordered to cover their ground and first-floor windows so women inside could not be seen from the street. If a woman left the house, it was in a full body veil (burqa), accompanied by a male relative: she had no independence.

“If she disobeyed these discriminatory laws, punishments were harsh. A woman could be flogged for showing an inch or two of skin under her full-body burqa, beaten for attempting to study, stoned to death if she was found guilty of adultery.”

For a more vivid picture see this photo of Bibi Aisha, punished for fleeing her husband’s house in Kabul, Afghanistan. From TIME: “Women of Afghanistan“. Forcibly married at 14. Fled at 18 after years of abuse. She was caught and mutilated by her family as punishment. This is the Afghanistan we helped build.

Bibi Aisha - TIME
Bibi Aisha. Photo by Jodi Bieber/TIME.

Conclusion

Afghanistan has been had civil wars running since 1978. We did not start these wars, and they would have run without us. But our years of interference have contributed to Afghanistan’s problems, not helped them. Nor can we claim bad luck, after making similar mistakes in Iraq and Libya. Interventionists talk about our Responsibility to Protect. If that is a valid reason for our help overthrowing those government, we should be prosecuted for malpractice.

Now we are doing so again in Syria. When will we learn to do better? How do the women of the Middle East see America’s interventions?

“Once is an accident. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is an enemy action.”
— James Bond in Goldfinger (1959). What is the fourth time?

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about women and gender roles, especially these…

  1. We destroy a secular regime in Afghanistan (& its women’s rights), then we wage war on the new regime to restore women’s rights. Welcome to the American Empire.
  2. Today’s propaganda: we must fight in Afghanistan to help its women.
  3. About our sudden concern for Afghanistan’s women (& the desperate search for a reason to fight).
  4. A non-violent crusade giving rights to the world’s women!
  5. Subjugation of women anywhere threatens US national security!
  6. Rambo & James Bond taught us about Afghanistan’s mujahideen.

Long afterwards we learn the truth about our role in Afghanistan.

But we don’t mind! That’s why our elites lie to us so often.

Some revelations from the book, by the publisher.

“By the latter years of the 1980s the CIA was not just providing arms to a half million Afghans, it had taken 150,000 of them and transformed them into what it called a force of “techno holy warriors.” “From today’s perspective,” Crile observes, “that may seem more than a bit ill advised-particularly when you factor in the specialized training in urban warfare that the Agency sponsored to include the use of pipe bombs, bicycle bombs, car bombs, camel bombs, along with a host of other tactics to wreak havoc with the army of a modern superpower.”

“The United States continued to fund the Afghan rebels long after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union. Incredibly, the subsidies continued despite the fact that one of the most important mujahid leaders sided with Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War.

“In addition to $200 million in aid from the U.S. and $200 million from Saudi Arabia, in 1991 and 1992 the rebels received Iraqi weapons captured by U.S. forces during the Gulf War. At the same time, the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union ceased to exist. The Cold War was effectively over but what began as a war against Communism was continuing to be funded.”

Trailer to “Charlie Wilson’s War”.

The book and the film.

Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times
Available at Amazon.
Charlie Wilson's War
Available at Amazon.

TTP Spokesman Confesses the Expected…Pak. Taliban Work For India, Afghanistan

[TTP Spokesman Sells-Out Former Mehsud Comrades For Drone Assassination In Paktika]

RAW, NDS fund Taliban: Ehsanullah Ehsan’s confession video

 

 

 

 

VIDEO LINK

Pakistan Army has released confessional video statement of prominent leader of the Pakistani Taliban’s Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (JuA) faction, Ehsanullah Ehsan, who has surrendered to security forces last week.

Ehsanullah Ehsan remained Tehreek e-Taliban’s spokesman and later JuA’s. Both groups have carried out some of the most violent attacks in Pakistan.

In his confession before security forces, the notorious militants said that TTP maligned Islam and misguided the youths, saying that the banned outfit has contacts with RAW and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS).

He said disputed with Taliban leadership after the group accepted Indian assistance against Pakistan.

Complete text of Ehsanullah Ehsan’s video confession:

“My name is Liaqat Ali and Ehsanullah Ehsan, I belong to Mohmand Agency. In early 2008, I joined TTP when I was a college student. I later became TTP Mohmand Agency spokesman and then central spokesman of TTP and Jamaat-ur-Ahrar.”

“In these nine years, I observed that TTP recruited youth by misleading them in the name of Islam. They did not follow whatever they preached. A handful of emirs who dominated TTP leadership used to receive extortion money from innocent people, massacre innocents by bomb blasts on public points, attack schools, colleges and universities… So, Islam doesn’t teach us this.”

“The internal disputes and battle for leadership raged within Taliban ranks after army launched operation in trial areas. Umar Khalid Khurasani, Khan Sayed Sajna and Mullah Fazullah were in the run. Their shura decided to hold draw that led to election of Fazullah.”

“What one can expect from such organizations that elect a leader through draw, and emir [Fazullah] was the one who forcefully married to his teacher’s daughter… such persons are not serving Islam.”

“When we moved to Afghanistan from North Waziristan, I saw that Taliban leadership fostered relations with Indian RAW agency that financed Taliban and even gave targets. Taliban received reward [from RAW] of every action in Pakistan. They left fighters to face Pakistan Army while they themselves sought refuge in safe hideouts.”

“When they started accepting Indian funds and NDS aid, I told Khurasani that this way we are supporting kufars (non-believers) by killing our own people, he said: for the sake of terrorism in Pakistan, even if Israel aided my, I will accept. So, I realized that they doing all this for their own interests and under a particular agenda.”

“Afghan security agencies have been facilitating Pakistani Taliban with documents and identity cards to move freely in Afghanistan,” he said.

“Jamaat-ur-Ahrar leadership is facing severe disappointment following Pakistan Army’s action on its camps along Afghan border.”

“Those who are stuck there, I want to give them a message that please stop it and back to a peaceful life,” he said.

“After coverage ban on Taliban, they turned to social media and attempted to mislead teen and innocent youths by propaganda and a wrong interpretation of Islam,” he said.

“I want to give a message to all social media users that beware of their [Taliban’s] propaganda. They are playing in hands of others… these were the reason behind my surrender to Pakistan Army,” he concluded.

Ehsan Ullah Ahsan Stills New 26-04

Background

Ehsanullah Ehsan joined TTP in 2008 and became its spokesman.

In December 2011, Ehsanullah disputed that the Pakistani Taliban was negotiating a cease-fire with the Pakistani government. He asserted that the individuals negotiating that cease-fire were doing so without the authorization of the Taliban’s leadership.

He was sacked on June 25, 2013.

Ehsan, along with other former commanders of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, such as Omar Khorasani, a senior leader in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan joined JuA.

The JuA was formed in August 2014 as a breakaway faction of the central TTP by chief Omar Khalid Khorasani [Khorasani became leader of ISIS mercenary faction in Afghanistan–ed.], the commander of its Mohmand district, and Ehsan, who left his post as a central TTP spokesman.

JuA rejoined the central TTP the following March but is known to operate independently of the central TTP leadership, which is led by Mullah Fazlullah.- Samaa

Saudi Spring Beginning To Boil…Real Reason For Kingfish Salmon’s Sudden Generosity

A Month Of Asia Tour – King Salman’s Mission & The Real Reason He’s Here

 

 

 

Muslim countries, especially those that subscribe to Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabism, broadcasted and printed a piece of great news over the weekend. King Salman issued a royal decree restoring “all allowances, financial benefits, and bonuses” for civil servants and military personnel on Saturday. Saudi claimed it was due to a recovery in oil prices and internal changes.

 

Last September, in what appeared to be the energy-rich Saudi’s most drastic move to save money, ministers’ salaries were cut by 20% and perks for public sector employees were scaled back. It was indeed a desperate measure after the kingdom hiked petrol prices by more than 50%, not to mention price increases for electricity, water, sewage, diesel and kerosene.

Saudis Pumping Petrol at Station

When Saudi announced the cuts on September 28, the crude oil had already recovered from its low of US$28 a barrel in January 2016 – to around US$45 a barrel. When King Salman announced the cancellation of the salaries and perks cut over the weekend, the commodity price was at US$50 a barrel. Does it make sense for the country to make a U-turn after just a 5 bucks recovery?

 

King Salman took the opportunity to also install two of his sons to key posts. Prince Khaled bin Salman, an F-15 pilot who has trained in the United States, was made ambassador to Washington. Another son and long-time oil policy official, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, was appointed state minister for energy affairs.

Prince Khaled bin Salman - Ambassador to Washington, U.S.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman - State Minister for Energy Affairs

What the mainstream media from Sunni Islam nations refused to tell you was the “April 21 movement” which hit the Twitter hashtag. The cuts, which affected about two-thirds of working Saudis, were so unpopular that the Saudis demanded for the reinstatement of their financial benefits since it took into effect in October last year.

 

The calls for protests in at least four Saudi cities have spooked the Al Saud monarchy of Saudi Arabia. Regime forces were reportedly lined the streets of central Riyadh over the weekend in anticipation of a demonstration by unhappy citizens. Saudis were upset that while the monarchy continues with its lavish public spending, the normal citizens were victimized.

Saudi Arabia - Public Sector Workers

Although Saudi Minister of state Mohammed Alsheikh said it was Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who recommended the change (cancellation of cuts in benefits and perks) after alleged better-than-expected budget figures in the first quarter of 2017, clearly the monarchy dared not take the risk and therefore caved in to the peoples’ demand.

 

The bonus cuts had caused widespread grumbling in Saudi Arabia. For two-thirds of employed citizens, the bonuses had accounted for a substantial amount of their total take-home pay. The public discontent could trigger a similar “Arab Spring” as the protestors were also calling for an end to Saudi’s absolute monarchy (disguised as constitutional monarchy) in the “April 21 movement”.

Protest Against Saudi Arabia Monarchy - April 21 Movement

Simon Henderson, Baker fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Institute’s Gulf and Energy Policy Program said – “They adjusted things; they claim they are adjusting things because the economy is in a better position, but that’s nonsense. It sounds as though they felt it politically necessary to do something, which is economically risky.”

 

The unpopular cuts did not only affect the civil servants but also the military personnel. To pacify the powerful military forces, the monarch also ordered an additional two-month salary bonus for regime forces involved in a brutal and inhuman aggression against neighbouring Yemen. Salaries and allowances accounted for 45% (or US$128 billion) of government spending in 2015.

King Salman - The Saudi Spring

The panicked King Salman also made another U-turn when he told the kingdom’s central bank to instruct banks to maintain the current favourable terms of consumer and property loans to low-income Saudis, after having ordered their rescheduling in autumn to aid Saudis affected by the cuts. Another demand was for a halt to the sale of shares of state oil giant Aramco.

 

Saudi Arabia is in a mess, despite the slight recovery in oil prices. Although Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tries to play down the problems, the kingdom is facing its worst economy growth since the world recession in 2008-09. New construction projects are scarce, and payments to builders got held up last year. Nowadays, even Saudi banks aren’t attractive to buyers.

Saudi Arabia - King Abdullah Financial District Riyadh

Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc has reportedly been seeking for years to sell its 40% stake in Alawwal Bank (formerly known as Saudi Hollandi), while Credit Agricole SA is considering a sale of its 31% stake in Banque Saudi Fransi. Alawwal Bank reported a 50% plunge in net income while Banque Saudi Fransi saw its profit down 13%.

 

Other Articles That May Interest You …

Trump’s Pentagon To Fire-Off Minuteman III ICBM Towards Asia, Overnight

MINUTEMAN III SCHEDULED TO LAUNCH

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. —

 

An operational test launch of an Air Force Global Strike Command unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile is scheduled for Wednesday, April. 26, between 12:01 p.m. to 6:01 a.m. from north Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The purpose of the ICBM test launch program is to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system, according to Air Force Global Strike Command.

Col. John Moss, 30th Space Wing commander, is the launch decision authority.

“Team V is once again ready to work with Air Force Global Strike Command to successfully launch another Minuteman III missile,” said Moss. “These Minuteman launches are essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities. We are proud of our long history in partnering with the men and women of the 576th Flight Test Squadron to execute these missions for the nation.”

The 576th Flight Test Squadron will be responsible for installed tracking, telemetry, and command destruct systems on the missile.

 

For more information, please call Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs at (318) 456-1305 or after hours at (318) 532-1215.

US tests missile in Pacific as it escalates threats to North Korea

By Mike Head

While demanding that North Korea halt its nuclear and missile tests—and threatening military attack if it does not—the Trump administration will today test launch a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from California across the Pacific, in a menacing show of force.

According to Air Force Global Strike Command, the operation will test the weapon’s “effectiveness, accuracy and readiness.” In the context of the mounting US military pressure on North Korea and its neighbour China, it is an unmistakeable threat of American preparedness to use nuclear-armed ICBMs.

Missile launches were “essential to verify the status of our national nuclear force and to demonstrate our national nuclear capabilities,” Colonel Chris Moss, the Vandenberg Air Force Base 30th Space Wing commander said.

For all the political and media hysteria about the danger presented by North Korea’s small and primitive nuclear and missile capacity, the provocatively-timed US test again underscores where the real risk of nuclear war resides—in Washington and the Pentagon’s unmatched arsenal of thousands of nuclear warheads.

No target was specified for today’s exercise, but an earlier US missile test, launched from a North Dakota base in February, travelled 6,760 kilometres to a test range at Kwajalein Atoll, part of the Marshall Islands in the northwestern Pacific.

The Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Marshall Islands is just one of the scores of US military bases throughout the Pacific, Japan and South Korea, as well as fleets of warships and submarines, from which devastating attacks on North Korea could be mounted.

On the same day as the missile test, President Donald Trump will hold a rare and suddenly announced White House briefing on the North Korean situation with all 100 members of the US Senate. Adding to the ominous atmosphere, the briefing will be delivered by the top four US war-related officials: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Joseph Dunford. (see: “Trump summons the Senate to the White House”)

In another sign of war preparations, Trump had a publicised dinner on Monday night with two key foreign policy “hawks”—Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. No information was released on what they discussed, but Graham tweeted the next day: “Donald Trump is NOT going to let the nutjob in North Korea develop a missile—with a nuclear weapon on top—that can hit the US.” The “nutjob” was an insulting reference to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

As these developments unfolded, Washington was encircling the Korean Peninsula with nuclear-capable warships conducting war games with Japanese and South Korean naval vessels.

The USS Wayne E. Meyer, a destroyer, began exercises yesterday with a South Korean destroyer in the Yellow Sea, west of Korea. Another destroyer, the USS Fitzgerald conducted drills with a Japanese destroyer in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, east of Korea.

The US Seventh Fleet said both exercises demonstrate “the US Navy’s inherent flexibility to combine with allied naval forces in response to a broad range of situations.”

In further chilling displays, the USS Michigan, a guided-missile submarine, docked in the South Korean port of Busan and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier task force, accompanied by Japanese ships, is due to arrive in the waters off the Korean Peninsula to stage a combined operation with the South Korean navy.

Despite incessant claims by the political elites and corporate media that North Korea was poised to conduct its sixth nuclear test yesterday, the country’s 85th anniversary of its army, Pyongyang reportedly only conducted live-fire artillery drills near Wonsan on the east coast.

On Monday Trump summoned ambassadors from the 15 UN Security Council members, including China and Russia, to demand they impose further crippling sanctions on North Korea, featuring an oil embargo, transport bans and punitive measures against Chinese banks allegedly doing business in North Korea. This was despite evidence, such as soaring oil prices in North Korea, that China is already severely constricting supplies.

Trump delivered what amounted to an ultimatum, declaring that North Korea was “a real threat to the world” and a “big world problem” that “we have to finally solve.”

Publicly, the Trump administration is holding out the prospect of applying enough pressure on China to compel North Korea to abandon its missile and nuclear programs. But Beijing is sending increasingly alarmed signals that it has “very limited influence” over the Pyongyang regime.

An editorial yesterday in the state-controlled Global Times warned that convincing Pyongyang to cease its nuclear activities was not “as easy as saying abracadabra.” The “game of chicken” between Washington and Pyongyang could “quickly get out of control” with terrible consequences that “no side will be able to stop.” It described the situation as “puzzle filled with bombs” and declared: “Pyongyang must not strike a match and detonate it.”

This was not the first time that Beijing has voiced dismay at the danger of a military conflagration that would have a severely damaging impact on China’s geo-strategic interests.

Two days earlier, a Global Times editorial openly criticised North Korea, and said Pyongyang was making a “mistake” if it thought China was “a sentinel and on guard duty for China.” The editorial declared that North Korea’s nuclear program was “jeopardising China’s major national interests” and preventing Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons was already “Beijing’s priority” in Northeast Asia.

China’s leaders obviously understand that their country, not just its erstwhile ally North Korea, is Washington’s target. A US assault on the Korean Peninsula could not only lead to the destabilising collapse of North Korea, near one of China’s major industrial regions, but install a US-backed regime on China’s border, as the US sought to during the 1950-53 Korean War.

The fact that China is in the firing line was highlighted yesterday by testimony at a US Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing on the Asia-Pacific region. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace senior fellow Ashley Tellis described North Korea as a “near-term” challenge, whereas “the challenges emanating from China are long term, enduring and aimed fundamentally at decoupling the United States from its Asian partners.”

These comments again point to the underlying driving force behind the Korean crisis. Not just in North East Asia but around the world, the ruling US capitalist class is intent on using America’s military might to offset its economic decline and block China, or any other potential rival, from challenging the global hegemony it established through victory over Germany and Japan in World War II.

Turkish Jets Bomb “Obama’s Boys” (Now Trump’s Problem)

Turkish jets bomb US-backed forces in Iraq, Syria, US officials say

 

 

 

 

TTP/ISIS Stage Revenge For MOAB Attack On CIA Base Chapman

Hakeemullah Mehsud (left), the Leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, and Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al Balawi (right), the suicide bomber who carried out the attack at Combat Outpost Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan.

[ONCE AGAIN, THE FOLLOWERS OF HAKEEMULLAH MEHSUD (CALLING THEMSELVES ISIS) HAVE STRUCK CIA BASE CHAPMAN IN REVENGE FOR A PRIOR BOMBING…THIS TIME FOR  BOMBING AT ACHIN…THE LAST TIME FOR KILLING BAITULLAH MEHSUD.]

Bomb attack hits U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan

 

Suspected Taliban insurgents on Monday attacked a U.S.-operated base in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Khost, officials said, but gave few immediate details of an assault that coincided with a visit to Kabul by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

The attackers had detonated a car bomb at an entrance to Camp Chapman, a secretive facility manned by U.S. forces and private military contractors, said Mubarez Mohammad Zadran, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

But he had little immediate information on any damage or casualties.

“I am aware of a car bomb attack at one of the gates in the U.S. base, but we are not allowed there to get more details,” the spokesman said.

A spokesman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan, Capt. William Salvin, confirmed the car bomb attack. He said there appeared to be a number of Afghan casualties but none among U.S. or coalition personnel at the base.

The attack came just three days after more than 140 Afghan soldiers were killed in an attack on their base by Taliban fighters disguised in military uniforms.

(Reporting by Ahmad Shah and Josh Smith; Writing by James Mackenzie; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

The Predictable Sunni Islamist Terrorist Path in Europe–PC Collateral Damage

Spanish Police Seize Huge Arsenal Intended To Arm 10,000 Euro Terrorists

Sweden and the Predictable Sunni Islamist Terrorist Path in Europe: PC Collateral Damage

 

Sweden and the Predictable Sunni Islamist Terrorist Path in Europe: PC Collateral Damage

Jibril Khoury, Chika Mori, and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

 

Sunni Islamist terrorism is a daily reality for Shia Muslims in several nations based on the Takfiri mindset that deems all and sundry to be either an apostate or that non-Muslims are infidels and worthy of killing. Europe is now witnessing the growing reality of Sunni Islamist terrorism, while the intrigues of the Muslim Brotherhood hope to utilise the naivety of certain European nations that are tolerating a major influx of migrants. After all, Gulf petrodollars and Takfiri versions of Islam are penetrating past indigenous Sunni Muslim traditions in Europe, thereby in some cities in Europe, it is noticeable that dress codes and mindsets are changing.

Indeed, this Salafi mindset is altering the dynamics of traditional Sunni Muslim forces in Indonesia and Malaysia respectively in Asia. Similarly, indigenous Sunni Muslim traditions in nations like the Cameroon and Nigeria (Christianity is a major force in both nations) are being supplanted by Sunni Islamist radicalism, emanating from Gulf Takfiri traditions and militancy in nations like Sudan. Therefore, it is essential for Europe to wake up because the politically correct mantra of “we are open, liberal, democratic, and united” is wearing thin.

In recent times the sword of Sunni Islamism is growing in visibility based on terrorist attacks in Berlin, Brussels, London, Nice, Paris, St Petersburg, and Stockholm. This follows on from past terrorist attacks from the same forces in Beslan, London, Madrid, Moscow, and others. However, the real and more threatening “ticking bomb” is happening in certain major cities in Europe where Sunni Islamist Sharia is ruling by stealth and the demographic balance is shifting quickly.

Of course, for the current Pope and the politically correct ruling elites, it appears that European victims to terrorism are nothing more than collateral damage. The same obviously applies to abusing taxpayers money on the politically correct agenda, the growing reality of higher crime, communities becoming more divided, the welfare state facing economic shortages, and a religious Sunni Islamist ideology that is focused on supplanting older European traditions.

In the latest terrorist attack in Stockholm that killed 4 people and injured many, it soon emerged that the same Sunni Islamist path happened once more. Like usual, the apologists will gloss over reality and adorable speeches will say, “We are all one and united.” However, this is an utter fallacy because in the cradle of Sunni Islam in Saudi Arabia not one Buddhist temple or Christian church is tolerated. Indeed, if a non-Muslim male desired to marry a Saudi Muslim female they would face prison or death in accordance with Islamic Sharia law. Despite this, the self-induced dhimmis in Canterbury and Rome will ignore this reality and the same applies to the politically correct that turn “a blind eye.”

Turning back to the latest terrorist attack in Europe that hit Stockholm, then Reuters reports, A 39-year-old Uzbek man being held in custody is the suspected driver of a hijacked beer delivery truck that plowed into crowds in central Stockholm, killing four people and wounding 15 in an apparent terror attack, police said on Saturday.”

Overall, it appears that Europeans are nothing more than fodder for Sunni Islamist terrorists based on the deluded egos of the politically correct. This applies to politicians, the mantra of the politically correct media circus, the educational sector, and other important areas ruled by the ruling elites. Therefore, not only will more terrorist attacks continue in Europe – and gradual Sunni Islamization will take hold in certain parts of major cities – but also the ruling elites will still not tackle the reality of Sunni Islamism. After all, the followers of Buddhism, Hinduism, the Shia faith, Sikhism, and other faiths impacting more on modern Europe, aren’t going around and killing people in the name of any other faith.

 

Zero Evidence Required For American Wars of Aggression

The Zero Evidence World of US Criminal Misleaders

zero evidence

For decades now, the US political & military ruling class have offered zero evidence and flimsy pretexts to invade, attack and conduct mass murder. You want evidence? Here: have a big fat zero.

Zero evidence

is required for the global bully, the US military, to do what it wants, when it wants, to whomever it wants. US political and military leaders (or as I prefer to call them, political and military misleaders) have one law – we do whatever the f*ck we want – in line with the black magic of Aleister Crowley, who declared that “do what thou wilt” was the whole of his law. The recent Trump Syria strike has taken their aggressive and criminal lawlessness to yet another level. Trump didn’t either bother to ask Congress for permission to attack another country, nor to put a case forward at the UN, nor to submit it to the scrutiny of international law, nor apparently to check with anyone except his own cadre of hawkish generals, Zionists and billionaires. Along with zero evidence, the US usually proffers pretexts such as “WMDs”, “chemical weapons” or simply just “he’s a dictator killing is own people”, all of which turn out to be lies to cover up the fact they have zero evidence. This phenomenon has been going on for literally decades. When is the international community going to stand up to the US and demand that enough is enough?

The Zero Evidence Phenomenon in Past US Aggressions

The history of USA aggression against other sovereign nations is egregious and long. Ever since the end of World War II, the US has taken it upon itself to be the world policeman – except it’s really the bandit posing as the sheriff, the tyrant posing as the protector and the violent terrorist posing as the righteous commander. Former US government official William Blum (who worked in the Department of State) and Dr. Zoltan Grossman have compiled lists of the 70+ nations which the US has messed with and attacked, by way of at least one of the following: foreign meddling & intervention, subversion, regime change, assassination, military strike or invasion. Here is a partial list of attacked nations up until 1999:

“China 1945-49, Italy 1947-48, Greece 1947-49, Philippines 1945-53, South Korea 1945-53, Albania 1949-53, Germany 1950s, Iran 1953, Guatemala 1953-1990s, Middle East 1956-58, Indonesia 1957-58, British Guiana/Guyana 1953-64, Vietnam 1950-73, Cambodia 1955-73, The Congo/Zaire 1960-65, Brazil 1961-64, Dominican Republic 1963-66, Cuba 1959-present, Indonesia 1965, Chile 1964-7, Greece 1964-74, East Timor, 1975-present, Nicaragua 1978-89, Grenada 1979-84, Libya 1981-89, Panama 1989, Iraq 1990s, Afghanistan 1979-92, El Salvador 1980-92, Haiti 1987-94, Yugoslavia 1999”

Since 2000, the following countries have been a victim of US aggression in one form or another:

“Afghanistan 2001-present, Yemen 2002, Philippines 2002-?, Colombia 2003-?, Iraq 2003-present, Liberia 2003, Haiti 2004-5, Pakistan 2005-?, Somalia 2006-?, Syria 2008-present, Yemen 2009, Libya 2011-present”

These lists are incomplete. There are more nations that have suffered US aggression which are not on these lists. Every single nation in the world has to either kowtow to the US, befriend it and fight alongside it in its stupid, ugly and violent wars, and submit to allowing US military bases on its sovereign soil – or else be aligned against it, be branded a “rogue state” by the MSM and live in constant fear that the US and its cronies will one day invade (a realistic and even probable outcome). There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground.

How exactly is this not world conquest? How exactly is the US not a sprawling empire which does whatever it wants, puts its military bases wherever it wants and invades whomever it wants? It’s an Empire, not a Republic. The republic has been dead for a long time now. The US is run by the New World Order – and they want it all. All.

US aggressionUS aggression has been relentless and unstoppable ever since the end of WWII.

Some Particularly Egregious Examples of Zero Evidence

Some appalling and atrocious examples of this “we do whatever we want” US foreign policy include the Vietnam War, which was started by the zero evidence Gulf of Tonkin incident (a false flag op of course), where there was literally zero evidence because there were literally zero Vietnamese ships involved. The US ships shot at empty space on the ocean and claimed they were being attacked! Then, in the false flag event of the millennium (9/11) there was zero evidence that Bin Laden ever did it, as the FBI tacitly admitted by not charging him with any crime. In the aftermath of 9/11, we were blessed with the wonderful and fake War on Terror™ (dreamt up by Zionist and neocon think tanks, including mass murderer and Israeli misleader Benjamin Netanyahu).

With the masses bamboozled by the neverending and impossible-to-win War on Terror, US misleader Colin Powell stepped up to the UN with zero evidence (in the form of a vial of powder) in support of invading a sovereign nation (Iraq). This time around the lie was WMDs. Later on in 2011, US misleader Obama stepped up to claim that a “dictator” (i.e. a legitimate leader named Gaddafi) was “killing his own people” (despite the fact that Libyans had a higher standard of living than all its surrounding neighbor nations in Africa). Thanks to the US and NATO invasion, Libya has become a hotbed of mayhem, terrorism, civil war and even now a center of slave trading. The truth is that it was only invaded because its leader stood up to US hegemony and tried to go against the petrodollar, but you wouldn’t know it if you listened to the MSM and the NGOs of George Soros (like Avaaz) who screamed for humanitarian intervention (aggressive invasion with no lawful basis under the pretext of saving innocent lives). Then in 2013, US misleader Obama again stepped up to claim that another “dictator” (i.e. an elected leader named Assad) was killing his own people with “chemical weapons” (despite the fact that UN investigators found zero evidence to back up this claim and instead found evidence that it was the US-backed rebels using them).

zero evidence 2Above: exactly this much evidence.

“Proof At a Distance”

Fast forward to 2017, and we have a different puppet in the White House, but the zero evidence phenomenon, and US military psychopathy, remain the same. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who like Vladimir Putin, has shown himself to be very level headed in face of extreme and repeated US-UK-Israeli-NATO provocation, talked about the zero evidence phenomenon at a recent press conference where he was discussing the Syria matter with his US counterpart Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State. Lavrov said:

” … accusations that are being made in respect to the Syrian government, come exclusively from those who have ‘proof at a distance’ … Another example, another dictator: Saddam Hussein, who was hanged after an invasion. We all know how it ended. I think Tony Blair said publicly that the while thing was a fake. All the reasons behind the invasions of Iraq … So experiments of these sorts, based on an obsession wth some kind of dictator, regime change of a totalitarian or authoritarian leader – we have already seen. We know all too well how it ends. Positive examples, when a dictator was removed and then everything went great – I don’t recall. If they exist, I would be grateful if you would let me know.”

One has to wonder how much longer the blatant warmongering and aggression can go on before enough people wake up to it. How much longer will the US military (tool of the international banksters and the New World Order) be able to literally get away with murder by offering zero evidence and flimsy pretexts? Will enough nations in the international community, as well as enough Americans themselves, stand up to the bullying American political and military leadership and force these tyrants to look in the mirror, so they can see themselves for the lying psychopaths that they are?

*****

Makia Freeman is the editor of alternative media / independent news site The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com, writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance.

Sources:

*http://freedom-articles.toolsforfreedom.com/trump-syria-strike-same-old-lies/

*http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Blum/US_Interventions_WBlumZ.html

*https://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html

*http://freedom-articles.toolsforfreedom.com/category/911-inside-job/

*http://www.truth-and-justice.info/origwat.html

*http://www.truthrevolt.org/news/slave-trade-alive-and-well-islamic-libya-west-african-migrants-sold-open-markets

*http://freedom-articles.toolsforfreedom.com/ngos-choice-tool-subversion-nwo/

*http://freedom-articles.toolsforfreedom.com/soros-hack-top-10-machinations/

*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2e9D_A6nxg

Spanish Police Seize Huge Arsenal Intended To Arm 10,000 Euro Terrorists

Spanish police seize weapons worth ten million euros

TOOLS OF JIHAD

Shocking police pictures reveal 10,000-weapon arsenal including howitzers, machine guns and grenades intended for the hands of terrorists in Europe

Police found the stash in Spain back in January but have only now released the terrifying images

A terrifying haul of more than 10,000 weapons has been revealed by continent-wide police force Europol

A terrifying haul of more than 10,000 weapons has been revealed by continent-wide police force Europol

Investigators reckons the haul was heading for the hands of organised crime gangs and terrorists throughout Europe

Investigators reckons the haul was heading for the hands of organised crime gangs and terrorists throughout Europe

Among the haul were automatic weapons, machine guns, howitzers and grenades

Among the haul were automatic weapons, machine guns, howitzers and grenades

Europol announced the vast haul in January but only now have Spanish police published images of the devastating arsenal.

Among the stash were 10,000 rifles, 400 howitzers, anti-aircraft guns, grenades, pistols and revolvers.

Much of the haul had been purchased at auctions, reactivated and then sold via a warehouse in Bilbao, northern Spain

Much of the haul had been purchased at auctions, reactivated and then sold via a warehouse in Bilbao, northern Spain

 

Police found the stash in January but have only now released the terrifying images

Police found the stash in January but have only now released the terrifying images

Sunni Islamic Scholars Meet In Grozny To Denounce Wahhabism…Chechen Pres. Apologizes To Saudi King

His Royal Highness Muhammad bin Salman received the Head of the Chechen Republic in the city of Damama

Final Communiqué of Ahlus Sunna and Jamaa (Grozny, Chechnya), Russian Federation

The World Conference of Muslim Scholars, held in the city of Grozny, the capital of the Republic of Chechnya, which lasted three days from 22 to 24 Dhu al-Qa’da 1437 AH, 25 to 27 August 2016, under the title: Who are the Sunnis and the group, a statement and a description of the approach of Ahl al-Sunnah and Jamaa And the effect of deviation from reality “

The scientists gathered a number of conclusions and recommendations, the most prominent of which are:

– Ahl al-Sunnah and the Jama’ah are Ash’ayr and Matridi in belief, and the people of the four schools of jurisprudence, and the people of Sufism net note and ethics and commendation in the way of the master of the sect Imam Al-Junaid and walked on the approach of the imams Huda.

The Holy Quran is surrounded by the sciences that serve it. It helps to develop its meanings, to understand its purposes, and to transform its verses into life, civilization, literature, arts, ethics, mercy, comfort, faith, faith, and spreading peace and security in the world so that different peoples, cultures and civilizations see that this religion is a mercy to the worlds and happiness. life and hereafter.

– This conference is an important turning point and necessary to correct the sharp and dangerous deviation that lasted the concept of “Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama’a” following the attempts to kidnap extremists for this noble title and restrict it to themselves and remove its people from it.

Recommendations:

 

1. The Conference recommended the establishment of a television channel at the level of the Russian Federation to communicate the image of the right media to citizens and to combat extremism and terrorism.

2. Increase the interest in the channels of social communication and allocate the necessary energies and experiences to the positive presence in these media a strong presence and active.

3. The establishment of a scientific center in the Republic of Chechnya to monitor and study the contemporary teams and their concepts and the formation of a documented database to help refute the scientific criticism of extremist thought, and suggested that the assembly to hold the name of “enlightenment.”

4. The return of major science schools and reference to the teaching of integrated science departments that graduate scientists and able to refute the manifestations of major deviation.

5. The need to raise the level of cooperation between the ancient scientific institutions such as Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the villagers, Zaytouna, Hadhramout, science and research centers among themselves and with the religious and scientific institutions in the Russian Federation.

6. The need to open educational platforms for distance learning to promote safe science.

7. Advise governments to support religious institutions and incubators based on the moderate middle curriculum, and warn against the danger of playing on the budget policy and strike religious discourse.

8. The Conference recommends that Governments legislate laws that criminalize spreading hatred, inciting sedition and internal strife, and attacking institutions.

9. Participants recommended the institutions of the Sunnis – Al-Azhar and others – to provide scholarships for those interested in studying the forensic science of the Muslims of Russia.

10. The participants also recommended that this important conference be convened periodically to serve these important objectives.

The participants thanked President Ramadan Ahmad Kadyrov for his blessed efforts in serving the Holy Quran and Sunnah. God’s guidance and help and paid his footsteps.

 

Issued in Grozny, Republic of Chechnya 24 Dhu al-Qa’da 1437 AH, 27 August 2016

Islamic conference in Chechnya: Why Sunnis are disassociating themselves from Salafists

 

 

The world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, Asharq Al-Awsat, reported that an international Islamic conference was organised in Grozny, a city in Chechnya with more than 100 top Muslim clerics from all around the world. The agenda was to take an uncompromising stand against the growing Takfiri terrorism that is playing havoc across the world.

The globally renowned Sunni Islamic scholars and clergy unanimously took a stand that the Takfiri terrorists, who loudly claim to belong to ‘Sunni’ Islam, are not from among the Ahlus Sunnah (the Islamic terminology for the mainstream Sunni Muslims in the world).

Addressing the conference, leading Sufi Sunni scholar and the current Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb, defined what is meant by ‘Ahlus Sunnah’ or Sunnism.

He stated: “Ahluls Sunna wal Jama’ah are the Ash’arites or Muturidis (adherents of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi’s systematic theology which is also identical to Imam Abu Hasan al-Ash’ari’s school of logical thought). In matters of belief, they are followers of any of the four schools of thought (Hanafi, Shaf’ai, Maliki or Hanbali) and are also the followers of pure Sufism in doctrines, manners and [spiritual] purification.”

منشور إعلامي

البيان الختامي مؤتمر أهل السنة والجماعة ( جروزني، الشيشان ) روسيا الاتحادية

أصدر المؤتمر العالمي لعلماء المسلمين الذي انعقد في مدينة جروزني عاصمة جمهورية الشيشان، والذي استمر ثلاثة أيام من 22 إلى 24 ذي القعدة 1437هـ الموافق 25 إلى 27 أغسطس 2016، تحت عنوان: من هم أهل السنة والجماعة، بيان وتوصيف لمنهج أهل السنة والجماعة اعتقادا وفقها وسلوكا وأثر الانحراف عنه على الواقع”

وقد انتهى العلماء المجتمعون إلى عدد من النتائج والتوصيات، وجاء أبرزها:

         أهل السنة والجماعة هم الأشاعرة والماتريدية في الاعتقاد، وأهل المذاهب الأربعة في الفقه، وأهل التصوف الصافي علماً وأخلاقاً وتزكيةً على طريقة سيد الطائفة الإمام الجنيد ومن سار على نهجه من أئمة الهدى.

         للقرآن الكريم حرمٌ يحيطه من العلوم الخادمة له، المساعدة على استنباط معانيه، وإدراك مقاصده، وتحويل آياته إلى حياة وحضارة وآداب وفنون وأخلاق ورحمة وراحة وإيمان وعمران وإشاعة السِّلم والأمان في العالم، حتى ترى الشعوبُ والثقافاتُ والحضاراتُ المختلفة عياناً أن هذا الدين رحمة للعالمين وسعادة في الدنيا والآخرة.

         هذا المؤتمر نقطة تحول هامة وضرورية لتصويب الانحراف الحاد والخطير الذي طال مفهوم “أهل السنة والجماعة” إثر محاولات اختطاف المتطرفين لهذا اللقب الشريف وقَصرِه على أنفسهم وإخراج أهله منه.

توصيات:

1.      أوصى المؤتمر بإنشاء قناة تليفزيونية على مستوى روسيا الاتحادية لتوصيل صورة الإعلام الصحيحة للمواطنين ومحاربة التطرف والإرهاب.

2.      زيادة الاهتمام بقنوات التواصل الاجتماعي وتخصيص ما يلزم من الطاقات والخبرات للحضور الإيجابي في تلك الوسائط حضوراً قويّاً وفاعلا.

3.      أن يتم إنشاء مركز علمي بجمهورية الشيشان لرصد ودراسة الفرق المعاصرة ومفاهيمها وتشكيل قاعدة بيانات موثقة تساعد على التفنيد والنقد العلمي للفكر المتطرف، واقترح المتجمعون أن يحمل هذا المركز اسم “تبصير”.

4.      عودة مدارس العلم الكبرى والرجوع إلى تدريس دوائر العلم المتكاملة التي تخرِّج العلماء والقادرين على تفنيد مظاهر الانحراف الكبرى.

5.      ضرورة رفع مستوى التعاون بين المؤسسات العلمية العريقة كالأزهر الشريف والقرويين والزيتونة وحضرموت ومراكز العلم والبحث فيما بينها ومع المؤسسات الدينية والعلمية في روسيا الاتحادية.

6.      ضرورة فتح منصات تعليمية للتعليم عن بُعد لإشاعة العلم الآمن.

7.      توجيه النصح للحكومات بضرورة دعم المؤسسات الدينية والمحاضن القائمة على المنهج الوسطي المعتدل، والتحذير من خطرِ اللعب على سياسية الموازنات وضربِ الخطاب الديني ببعضه.

8.      يوصي المؤتمر الحكومات بتشريع قوانين تجرِّم نشرَ الكراهية والتحريض على الفتنة والاحتراب الداخلي والتعدي على المؤسسات.

9.      أوصى المشاركون مؤسسات أهل السنة الكبرى – الأزهر ونحوه – بتقديم المنح الدراسية للراغبين في دراسة العلوم الشرعية من مسلمي روسيا.

10.  كما أوصى المشاركون بأن ينعقد هذا المؤتمر الهام بشكل دوري لخدمة هذه الأهداف الجليلة.

وتقدم المشاركون بالشكر لفخامة الرئيس رمضان أحمد قديروف لجهوده المباركة في خدمة القرآن الكريم والسنة المطهرة. وفقه الله وأعانه وسدد خطاه.

صدر في جروزني، جمهورية الشيشان 24 ذو القعدة 1437هـ، 27 أغسطس 2016م

BLA/BRA Militants Surrendering In Balochistan By the Hundreds–400+ Served

Over 400 militants surrender in Balochistan

Baloch militants carry their weapons as they prepare to surrender to Pakistani security forces in Quetta.
Baloch militants carry their weapons as they prepare to surrender to Pakistani security forces in Quetta.
QUETTA: As many as 434 militants belonging to different banned outfits have surrendered in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.

The militants, who handed over their arms to authorities here on Friday, belong to the Baloch Republican Army (BRA), Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) and other separatist groups alleged to have carried out attacks on security installations and personnel in the troubled province.

Commander Southern Command Lieutenant General Amir Riaz said on the occasion that those wanting to return to normal life were welcome to do so after surrendering.

“Anyone laying down their arms would be welcomed,” he said.

The militants pledged their allegiance to the state of Pakistan at the ceremony, which was also attended by the provincial chief minister.

Pakistan has been battling insurgency in mineral-rich Balochistan since 2004, with hundreds of soldiers and militants killed in the fighting.

A greater push towards peace and development by Pakistani authorities, including starting work on roads and infrastructure under the Chinese-assisted CPEC project — which connects Balochistan’s deep sea port Gwadar to China — has reduced the violence considerably.

“These militants had killed my own son and brother but I have forgiven them. The state of Pakistan also forgives them and I welcome them to be part of Balochistan’s CPEC project,” said Balochistan chief minister Sanaullah Zehri at the ceremony.

In Baloch everyone is militant, so how many surrender doesn’t matter. They will b separated from Pak in coming days.Manas Sarkar

“We will arrange employment for you. Nobody will be allowed to destroy peace in the province,” he said.

Balochistan is the largest of Pakistan’s four provinces, but its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth.

Proving Pakistan Right…Afghanistan Is Harboring Hostile TTP Terrorists

I offer the following of absolute proof that the Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan have taken refuge in NE Afghanistan, from Nangarhar to Paktika.  The giant bomb killed mostly TTP Taliban in Achin, Nangarhar, while the US drone assassinated TTP leaders in Paktika, after Pakistan’s ISI nabbed the TTP spokesman in Paktika…what more proof is needed?

[TTP Spokesman Sells-Out Former Mehsud Comrades For Drone Assassination In Paktika ; TTP Fighters Mostly Among The Dead In MOAB Bombing]

 

TTP Spokesman Sells-Out Former Mehsud Comrades For Drone Assassination In Paktika

[Between March 14-22, a US drone strike targeted the funeral ceremony of Keramat Khan,a Taleban local commander in Paktika,killing at least 29 Taleban insurgents

Major Pak Taliban Leader, Qari Yasin alias Ustad Aslam, was one of those killed in that drone attack.

Before taking over the Mehsud Taliban (which came after Hakeemullah’s drone death), Qari Yaseen was a leader of the “Punjabi Taliban,” specifically, the Lashkar i-Jhangvi, who themselves, represented the second incarnation of Sipah e-Sahaba, Pakistan’s original terrorist political party.]

If Ehsanullah Ehsan, the former spokesman for Hakeemullah Mehsud group, now spokesman of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, surrendered/was captured in Paktika on March 7 by agents of Pakistan’s ISI, it was under CIA supervision.   This would explain how a CIA drone later managed to target Qari Yasin and three members of the Khan Said Group for termination in Paktika, on March 19.

The Khan Said Group is the splinter TTP faction, led by Khan Said (Sajna) Mehsud.  They split with the main TTP, which was thereafter led by the insane psychopath, Fazlullah.]

A-Qaeda Commander Killed in US Drone Strike

A-Qaeda Commander Killed in US Drone Strike

Sailab Mahsud

March 20, 2017: Qari Muhammad Yaseen alias Ustad Aslam, a high-ranking militant commander associated with Al-Qaeda, was killed on Monday, along with three other militants, in the US drone strike in Laman area of Bermal district in Paktika province of Afghanistan….

Qari Yaseen aka Ustad Aslam belonged to Lodhran district and was associated global terror network of Al-Qaeda. It is pertinent to mention here that he was killed along with three militants associated with Sajna Group of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). This highlights that Sajna group of TTP have strong links with the global terror network of Al-Qaeda.

 

“We lost a brave man and the trainer of trainers in a U.S drone attack,” said Asad Mansoor, the spokesman of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaatul Ahrar ( TTP-JA)

Khan Said Group of Mahsud Taliban Re-joins TTP, Proclaims Allegiance to Fazlulla–February 06, 2017

Pakistani Taliban faction claims spokesman was captured in Afghanistan

On April 17, the Pakistani military said that Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesman of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a dangerous faction of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, voluntarily surrendered. Today, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar insisted that Ehsan was “arrested” in eastern Afghanistan and later turned over to the military.

Major General Asif Ghafoor, the spokesman for the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Public Relations branch, claimed that Ehsan “turned himself into our security agencies,” Dawn reported.

Pakistani authorities were eager to trumpet Ehsan’s alleged surrender as a victory. “There can be no bigger achievement for Pakistan than the fact that our biggest enemies are now realizing the error of their ways and are turning themselves in,” Ghafoor said.

However, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar disputes Ghafoor’s account. Earlier today, the group issued a statement attributed to Asad Mansour, its new spokesman, claiming that Ehsan was captured on March 7 by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI-D) along with “three other colleagues” and subsequently turned over to the Pakistani military. According to Mansour, Ehsan was captured in Afghanistan’s Paktika province, which borders Pakistan and is a known haven for multiple jihadist groups.

Mansour accused the Pakistani military of using “the Mujahideen prisoners to lure” other jihadists into negotiations and their eventual “surrender.”

Ehsan has been an influential spokesman and the face of Pakistani jihadist groups for the past decade. He served as the spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan up until 2014, when Jamaat-ul-Ahrar split off from the group and formed its own branch. Ehsan joined Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and became its spokesman. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar reunited with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan earlier this year, but has maintained a degree of autonomy.

As spokesman for both groups, Ehsan has taken credit for some of the more gruesome attacks and atrocities in Pakistan over the years. In 2011, Ehsan gleefully noted that his fighters kidnapped 25 young boys, as well as a group of parents and tribal elders in Bajaur.

Ehsan joined other jihadists in condemning the Pakistani Taliban’s assault on the Army Public School in Peshawar in Dec. 2014. More than 140 people, mainly children, were killed. However, Ehsan’s denunciation may have been merely a self-interested denial that was intended to distance himself and others from the unpopular slayings.

In March 2015, Ehsan tweeted that his comrades were responsible for the assassination of Samiullah Afridi, the lawyer for Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped the CIA track down Osama bin Laden.

After the 2016 Easter Day massacre in a park in Lahore, Ehsan proudly claimed the slayings, saying the “target was Christians.” At least 72 people, mostly women and children, were killed and more than 300 were wounded in the blast.

A dangerous jihadist group with global ambitions

Ehsan’s now former group, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, threatens the Pakistani state while supporting allied regional and global jihadist groups.

The leadership of Jamaat-ul-Ahrar is known to have ties to multiple jihadist organizations operating in the region. Omar Khalid al Khurasani, one of its top leaders, is closely linked to al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri. Khurasani has called for the imposition of sharia law and the establishment of a global caliphate. He has also said that a primary goal of the Pakistani Taliban is to obtain nuclear weapons. [See FDD’s Long War Journal reports, Taliban commander wants Pakistan’s nukes, global Islamic caliphate and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar celebrates 9/11 attack.]

After the US killed Mullah Mansour, the emir of the Afghan Taliban, in a May 2016 drone strike in Pakistan, Ehsan mourned his death and urged Muslims to intensify their efforts to wage jihad.

“With regret the Muslim world has lost a great mentor,” Ehsan said after Mansour’s death.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar also celebrated the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the US, saying it will continue to wage jihad until a global caliphate is established. This is a goal shared by al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.

Taliban Kill 140+ In Mazar e-Sharif, Despite On-site German Troops and US Special Forces Nearby

[Why didn’t $100,000,000 US Special Forces base in Mazar e-Sharif help defend the city (Army Taking Bids For $100,000,000 Special Forces Training Center In Mazar-e-Sharif)?]

[Why didn’t the German Army assist the Afghan troops?]

“The base in Balkh is home to the Afghan army’s 209th Corps as well as to a contingent from the German army. No German soldiers were affected by the attack.”

Taliban fighters attack Afghan army base, ‘killing 140’

Fighters dressed in military uniforms attack major army base in Balkh province as soldiers leave Friday prayers.

Afghan troops arrived near the site of the base in Mazar-i-Sharif [Anil Usyan/Reuters]

Afghan government officials say the death toll has jumped to 140 following Friday’s assault on an army base in the northern Balkh province.

Another 160 people were wounded in the attack, Mohammad Ibrahim Khair Andesh, the head of the provincial council, announced on Saturday.

The attack, responsibility for which was later claimed by the Taliban, happened at an army command centre a few miles from Mazar-e Sharif, the capital of Balkh.

Two of the attackers blew themselves up and seven were killed in the assault, which lasted several hours and targeted soldiers at a mosque and dining facility, the Afghan defence ministry said.

One of the assailants was detained.

Taliban fighters in three military vehicles with forged documents launched the attack by shooting a rocket at the entrance of the base, a military official told DPA news agency.

The source said 10 fighters first targeted the mosque, where army staff were performing Friday prayers, before moving on to the dining facility, the source said.

Several military helicopters hovered over the facility during Friday’s attack and ambulances later took away the bodies of the victims, an AFP news agency correspondent said.

Taliban’s claim

The Taliban claimed that more than 500 soldiers were killed and wounded.

The group also claimed that four of the attackers were soldiers who had served at the base and had knowledge of the facility.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from the capital Kabul on Friday, said: “The attack followed a familiar pattern with a suicide bomb ramming into the gates of the base and detonating.

“After that the attackers were able to get inside. The attackers were heavily armed with suicide vests and automatic weapons, trying to cause as much damage as they can.”

Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the assault.

“Our fighters have inflicted heavy casualties on the Afghan army stationed there,” he said.

The Taliban released a picture of the purported attackers, dressed in military gear, with their faces blurred.

The base in Balkh is home to the Afghan army’s 209th Corps as well as to a contingent from the German army. No German soldiers were affected by the attack.

General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, praised Afghan commandos for bringing the “atrocity to an end”.

‘Few thousand troops’

Nicholson in February told the US Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington, DC that he needed “a few thousand” more troops to help train and assist the Afghan forces.

The US has about 8,400 troops in the country, with about another 5,000 from NATO allies assisting a much larger Afghan force in the war against the Taliban and other armed groups.

The last major attack against a military site in Afghanistsan was in early March when fighters disguised as doctors stormed the Sardar Daud Khan hospital – Kabul’s largest military hospital – in Kabul, killing dozens.

Afghan security forces, beset by killings, desertions and non-existent “ghost soldiers” on the payroll, have been struggling to beat back the Taliban since US-led NATO troops ended their combat mission in December 2014.

According to US watchdog SIGAR, casualties among Afghan security forces rose by 35 percent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed.

Most of the MOAB Dead Were Reportedly Former TTP Converts To ISIS Cash

A source who asked not to be named said along with dozens of Pakistani nationals, twelve Tajikistanis and thirteen Indian nationals were also killed in the bombing

 

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Five days after U.S Forces dropped its most powerful conventional bomb on a system of tunnels and caves used by Daesh in the eastern province of Nangarhar, a security source told TOLOnews that the majority of insurgents killed in blast were members of Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and members of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group.

The TTP and Lashkar-e-Taiba members were from the Orakzai tribe.

According to the source, alongside dozens of Pakistani nationals, twelve Tajikistanis and thirteen Indian nationals who had joined Daesh were also killed in the bombing in Achin district.

The source said that at least 13 Daesh commanders were among the 96 killed in the “Mother of All Bombs”.

The following are names of some of the militants killed in the raid.

•             Shahid Omar, member of TTP

•             Welcome, brother of Hafiz Saeed

•             Commander Mukhtar, retired Pakistani army officer

•             Commander Abu Bakr, Daesh’s chief of operations

•             Sheikh Weqas, member of Lashkar-e-Taiba

•             Commander Mohammad, an Indian national

•             Geeta, an Indian national

•             Yasir, known as Khurasani, a member of Orakzai tribe

•             Commander Imran, a member of Orakzai tribe

•             Commander Aftab, from Pakistani province of Punjab

•             Hamza Orakzai, a member of Orakzai tribe

•             Commander Hanif Kunari, a member of the Orakzai tribe

•             Hajji Saad Kunari, a member of the Orakzai tribe

“When the central core of a group is destroyed, then the group is disintegrated and it also weakens their followers,” said Mohammad Radmanish, deputy spokesman for the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

Intelligence services in Tajikistan and India have confirmed the death of their citizens in the raid.

But Daesh activities are not restricted to only the eastern province of Nangarhar.

In recent months, Daesh operatives have also tried to gain footholds in provinces such as Kunar, Sar-e-Pul, Zabul, Ghor and Jawzjan.

“The MOAB bombing was a serious mission. If the bombing has eliminated Daesh, we welcome this, but we also need to consider the safety of people,” said former military officer Atiqullah Omarkhail.

“Daesh affiliates pose serious threats to the people; their operatives beheaded children in Sayyad district of Sar-e-Pul and set homes ablaze and plundered assets belonging to the people,” said MP Sayed Hussain Sharifi Balkhabi.

Commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission (RS) in Afghanistan, Gen. John Nicholson, said at a press conference following the MOAB bombing: “This operation is conducted on those enemy that are inside the borders of Afghanistan, so Daesh as we know, is constituted of fighters who were originally members of the TTP, who came from the ORCSI agency of Pakistan…they also have membership from the Islamic Movement in Uzbekistan, and some local Taliban have joined ISIS-K.

“So these primarily are who we are fighting inside Afghanistan. We obviously remain very concerned about enemy sanctuary and support that they receive from outside of the country.  However, this is not the focus of our military operations right now, we’re very focused on those insurgents and terrorists who try to operate inside Afghanistan and then we work with our diplomatic colleague to work with our neighbors and other nations in the region to reduce the external support and the external sanctuary enjoyed by these enemies”.

“Little Lion of Panjshir,” Massoud the Younger Warns Govt. of Civil War

 

 

Ahmad Zia Masoud Warns of Civil War

Furious over his highly publicized dismissal, Ahmad Zia Masoud, ex-representative for good governance, warn, his dismissal could spark another civil war in the country.

Presidential palace announced ‘bad performance’ his formal firing reason, Zia Masoud adds, the president do not have the authority to sack him.

“Based on the formal documents, the NUG and the president do not have the right to dismiss me. It’s a government formed for political goodwill, and if any group should eliminate of the government, could lead to further instabilities and civil war.” Masoud warned.

Masoud confesses that president has restricted many executive authorities of many governmental institutions including his office and had already decided to resign of his position early next month.

“People ask me why I have been sacked of my position. But, I don’t know my sin and it haven’t told me. No one in the government know exactly why I am dismissed.” Zia Masoud admited.

According to sources close to Masoud, rifts between president Ghani and Masoud arose after a trip to Northern provinces, where he intensely criticized the government. Since, that, president hasn’t meet him formally or informally.

Trump’s “Mother” Bomb Really Just An Open Lab Test w/Sufficient Number of “Rats”

‘MOAB’ Reportedly Did Not Target ISIS Cave Complexes

 

 

TFollowing the Mother of All Bombs ‘MOAB’ dropping on apparently ISIS cave tunnels in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan, some claims that the bombing was an arsenal test.

A team from Ariana News quotes military officials in the scene that MOAB has actually dropped in a remote village named Mommand Dara of ISIS controlled Achin district.

However, the officials told Ariana News that MOAB has actually targeted a number of tunnels being used by ISIS fighters.

Sources has told Ariana News that only in three targeted tunnels an estimated 100 ISIS fighters dead bodies have been found.

The military officials meanwhile confess that U.S. did not target main ISIS sanctuaries; adding that the insurgents’ main strongholds are far away of the attack areas.

“They just tested their missile. The main sanctuaries of ISIS didn’t destroyed,” said a soldier.

Meanwhile Mommand Dara is being controlled by ANSF while signs of the self-proclaimed Islamic state, widely known as ISIS could be seen everywhere.

“They have too many strongholds. They mainly use Masjids and schools as their hidden heavens, but we destroy them as well,” said an Afghan special force officer.

It is completely believed that ISIS has tens of strongholds in Achin district. They are using these centers for recruiting, training and commanding of their forces and most of them are Pakistani nationals.

“We have captured too many of their centers,” a soldier told Ariana News.

No military official has visited the bombing area yet. Often time Afghan and U.S. forces target the fighters via aerial; operations that caused a remarkable number of casualties to ISIS insurgents.

One of the critical missions for security forces in Achin district is to clear the district fully of the ISIS fighters, an area which deems to be center point of IS-K operations.

Reported by: Bais Hayat and Raz Mohammad Rawesh

Trump Making War Plans Around An Untested, Deployed, Anti-ICBM Missile System

Stopping a N. Korean Missile No Sure Thing, U.S. Tester Says – Bloomberg

Navy Ship Destroys Ballistic Missile for First Time from Foreign Range | Military.com–21 Oct 2015

“The Rota, Spain-based destroyer fired an SM-3 missile and shot down a Terrier Orion ballistic missile flying in space”

[The Rota, Spain test in 2015, and the Feb. 7, 2017 test at Wallop Island, VA, both tested their interceptors against 3-stage “sounding rockets”, capable of low-level (200 miles) ballistic flights at much slower speeds than an actual target.  This untested system is being deployed, advertised as a working product, even though it is the centerpiece of Trump’s N. Korean belligerence.]

[The United States’ missile defense system will never work – which is why we’re spending more money on it – ExtremeTech

The Technology Needed to Stop a North Korean Nuclear Missile – The Atlantic]

 

If Trump can intercept this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can he catch this?

 

 

The Pentagon will conduct two major high-stakes tests in May of its ability to shoot down missiles launched out of North Korea.

The long-scheduled tests in the Pacific are part of the US military’s overall ballistic missile defense program to defend against North Korean or Iranian threats — but are, for now at least, aimed at ensuring the US can defend against a threat from North Korea, US defense officials said.

One of the actions will involve test-firing an improved Standard Missile off a Navy ship, a defense official said. The tests are taking place over the Pacific because that’s where the test ranges are large enough to accommodate them.

The upgraded missile has only been tested once before. The new version has an improved booster and warhead. That means the missile could fire at longer ranges, presumably farther from the North Korean coastline, and have a greater chance of hitting the threatening incoming missile.

The program has been in development with Japan and is aimed at shooting down intermediate-range North Korean missiles that pose a threat to the US ally.

A separate critical test in the Pacific region, to be held at the end of May, will examine the ability of the US to shoot down a future North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile that could threaten the US.

That test involves long-range ground-based interceptor missiles based in Alaska and California. That program has also been in existence for over a decade, but only about half the tests have been successful, according to the Defense Department.

In the most recent Pentagon report on weapons testing across the department, the long-range system was criticized. The report said it “demonstrates a limited capability to defend the US homeland from small numbers of simple intermediate-range or intercontinental ballistic missile threats launched from North Korea or Iran.”

The report went on to say that the Pentagon continued to discover new failures during testing.

In the upcoming test, a missile will be launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and attempt to intercept a simulated missile over the Pacific Ocean.

As part of a broader National Security Council review of options for dealing with North Korea, the Pentagon has been considering its military options for more than a month in case the White House were to decide to take such action, a defense official said. The NSC effort is also looking at diplomatic and economic options.

The official pointed out the recent engagement with the Chinese, and the stronger language calling for more Chinese pressure on North Korea, is the most immediate impact of that review.

The review of military options is essentially “due diligence,” the official said. Top military and civilian Pentagon officials are “thinking through every course of action.”

That also involves updating any analysis on the latest thinking of how North Korea might militarily react if the US were to take military steps.

The official emphasized that all of the ongoing work doesn’t change the administration — and Pentagon’s — emphasis on the need for a peaceful diplomatic solution.

The official was adamant that the US is currently not anticipating pre-emptive military action against North Korea. Standard policy — which calls for shooting down of a North Korean missile after launch if the trajectory is deemed to threaten South Korea, Japan or the US — remains in place.

The review also is aimed at ensuring necessary military assets are properly situated if there is a need for military action. Multiple US officials said all current anti-missile ships and other ground-based interceptors in Alaska are available.

Even as the military options are reviewed and updated, Defense Secretary James Mattis is also underscoring the need for a non-military solution.

“You’re aware that the leader of North Korea again recklessly tried to provoke something by launching a missile,” he recently told reporters. “It was not an intercontinental ballistic missile, it failed on launch, and it shows why we’re working so closely right now with the Chinese.”

Both countries are trying “to get this under control and aim for a denuclearized Korean Peninsula,” he said. “China and the United States and South Korea, Japan, we all share that same interest.”

Pentagon’s “Murder In the Night” Returns To Afghanistan…8-50 Taliban Killed In Their Sleep

The Afghan Night Raids Resume–Murder In the Night Again the Norm
US Demands On “Night Raids” and Immunity Pushing Afghans Too Far
US commander defends night raids in Afghanistan

 

Dozens of helicopters and U.S aircraft reportedly participated in the night raid, which targeted Taliban’s key fighters in Baghlan.

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Mawlawi Lal, the Taliban’s shadow governor in Baghlan province, along with a number of fellow Taliban insurgents were killed in a night raid by Afghan and foreign forces in Dand-e-Ghori area of Pul-e-Khumre city, a source said.

According to the source, dozen of helicopters and U.S. aircraft participated in the night raid and the main aim of the raid was to target Taliban’s key fighters in Baghlan.

The operation started at 11 p.m. on Tuesday night and continued until 4 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Government officials did not comment officially but residents said that the bodies of eight of Taliban’s key members, including Mawlawi Lal, were seen in the area.

So far no exact figures on Taliban casualties have been released but a source from Baghlan provincial council said that more than 50 Taliban were killed in this raid.

Mawlawi Lal was the Taliban’s key commander for the north-eastern zone.

The source said that the operation was conducted while the Taliban was preparing for a big attack in which they hoped to over run Baghlan province.

Taliban did not comment yet.

Russia claims it can wipe out entire US Navy with a single ‘electronic bomb’

‘YOU DON’T NEED EXPENSIVE WEAPONS’

Russia claims it can wipe out entire US Navy with a single ‘electronic bomb’ in bizarre propaganda report

 

 

Russian news report claims electronic signal jamming weapon can render planes, ships and missiles useless

 

Russia claims it can disable US ships with cutting edge technology

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Russia claims it can disable US ships with cutting edge technology
A news report claimed a single Russian plane disabled a US warship

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A news report claimed a single Russian plane disabled a US warship

The newsreader says: “Today, our Russian Electronic Warfare (REW) troops can detect and neutralise any target from a ship’s system and a radar, to a satellite.”

The news report claims a single Russian war plane flew several times around American destroyer the USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea several years ago, disabling its systems and leaving it helpless.

The report also claims they are capable to creating electronic jamming domes over their bases that make them invisible on radar screens.

The propaganda piece even quotes top US General Frank Gorenc as saying: “Russian electronic weapons completely paralyse the functioning of American electronic equipment installed on missiles, aircraft and ships.”

The reporter adds: “You don’t need to have expensive weapons to win – powerful radio-electronic jamming is enough.”

The news comes after Donald Trump dispatched the USS Carl Vinson, powered by nuclear reactors, carrying almost 100 aircraft and accompanied by destroyers, a cruiser, and a submarine to the Korean Peninsula.

The propaganda piece also claimed the technology can disable missiles

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The propaganda piece also claimed the technology can disable missiles
It is claimed the technology can disable all kind of electronic equipment

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It is claimed the technology can disable all kind of electronic equipment

And the commander-in-chief is said to be bolstering American deployment in the region by sending the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Nimitz to the Sea of Japan next week.

Russia, along with China, is said to have sent a spy ship to the area to ward off the task force amid rising tensions in the region.

Trumps Schizophrenic White House

[SEE: Trump Has Lit the Republican/Conservative Funeral PyreThe Neoconservative Moment–Trimming the “Dead-Beats” from the National Payroll]

“I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”–Grover Norquist

Grover Norquist, the Happiest Man in Washington

 

The veteran conservative activist ought to be disturbed by the Trump administration. Why is he so optimistic—and what’s vaping got to do with it?

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
As Grover Norquist dug into his egg-white frittata, he could barely contain his glee.“If you try and explain American politics by looking at one election, even a presidential election, you miss the forest for the tree,” the founder of Americans for Tax Reform and longtime liberal bogeyman told me over an early-morning breakfast, spearing halves of grape tomato with his fork. “It’s the most interesting tree in the forest—it’s got orange hair!—but it’s still just one tree.”

The Trump administration has many traditional conservatives in despair, convinced the president is trampling the Constitution and turning the Republican Party into something they don’t recognize. Not Norquist. He was the picture of a man who believes his time has come.

The ginger-haired 60-year-old’s eyes sparkled behind his wire-rimmed glasses as he described the rosy future he foresaw under Trump. It isn’t just that tax reform, Norquist’s signature issue, has risen to the top of the agenda for both the president and Congress. The 2016 election, as Norquist saw it, was not a mandate for Trump at all—it was a mandate for old-school Republicans, virtually all of whom got more votes than Trump in their states. (There’s an exotic corollary to this theory involving a new voting bloc of vaping enthusiasts—more about that later.) According to Norquist, whatever might be distracting Trump at any given moment, nothing less than a revolution of conservative governance was happening under his nose.

“Trump’s regulatory regime is Reaganite,” Norquist told me. “His tax cut is Reaganite. He’s more aggressive than Reagan on labor issues.” All that other stuff—the crazy tweets, the chaotic White House, the Russia investigation, the travel ban—is just noise. What Trump was really elected to do, Norquist maintained, were the things Republicans had been coveting for years. And Trump is already doing just those things.

Norquist is certainly not alone among Republicans rooting for Trump. Yet I was shocked to find him, of all people, so sanguine. Norquist has a Muslim wife, has spent years battling his party’s anti-Muslim fringe, and is a strong proponent of comprehensive immigration reform. (His neatly trimmed beard has even been cited as proof that he is a secret Muslim.) Trump has welcomed into the White House Islamophobic conspiracy theorists and proponents of immigration restriction. His campaign was powered by a populist-nationalist vision that had more to do with shutting out Mexicans than hemming in the regulatory state.

So what, Norquist as much as told me. What mattered was that he believes he is closer than he has ever been, after decades of struggle, to getting his famous wish—a government small enough to drown in a bathtub. And he may be right.

Norquist had just been at the White House, he noted, with a group of conservative activists the administration had brought in to consult.

“We’re working with the administration on the major economic stuff, so I feel very comfortable with the way they’re going,” he said. “Some conservatives who aren’t helping to row the boat don’t feel as comfortable,” because they don’t get the same assurances from the inside.This was a veiled shot at the White House’s unhelpful conservative critics, but also a statement of Norquist’s strategy. By refraining from criticizing Trump, Norquist was positioning himself to continue to be in the rooms where policy is being made—unlike his unhelpful NeverTrump friends, who have reportedly been blacklisted.

He might be the cleverest man in the conservative movement. Or he might have sold his soul.

Norquist has never minded being liberals’ antichrist; being irrelevant is another thing entirely. Yet this was where he found himself for most of last year’s presidential campaign. While the political world was consumed with Trump, he rarely commented on the race, preferring to tweet about his daughters, state-level politics, vaping, or Burning Man, the annual countercultural festival in the Nevada desert he has attended for the past three years.

Before 2016, Norquist had long had a starring role in national politics as a villain to liberals, who blamed his group’s tax pledge for Republicans’ refusal to compromise. Many a GOP incumbent, stretching back to the first President Bush, has lost re-election after breaking the promise never to raise taxes. Many more, Democrats contend, refuse to consider initiatives that are in the public interest because they fear Norquist’s disapproval. Arianna Huffington has called Norquist “the dark wizard of the anti-tax cult”; Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader, said Republicans in Congress were being “led like puppets” by him.

The pledge not to raise taxes, Norquist contends, is a promise Republicans make to their voters, not to him. Republicans who won’t sign the pledge, Norquist likes to say, are like “rat heads in Coke bottles”: they ruin the brand’s reputation. As for the idea that he’s Republicans’ leader, he has joked, “I reject all conspiracy theories that have me sharing world domination with the Koch brothers. Sharing? Never.”In 2016, however, Norquist was relegated to the sidelines, and early.  His preferred presidential candidate, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, dropped out in September 2015. Norquist continued to pine for him nonetheless.

“Tonight I dine w/ 2016 GOP nominee, Gov. Scott Walker,” he tweeted. “He beat the union bosses, cut taxes, elected 3 times. Who would not nominate that.” This tweet was issued seven months after Walker left the race, shortly before Trump became the presumptive nominee.

Meanwhile, Norquist was fighting a personal, highly charged battle with his party’s Islamophobic fringe—a fight that continues to echo in the GOP’s post-election conflicts. Frank Gaffney, the head of an anti-Islam think tank, has spent nearly two decades attacking and harassing Norquist, claiming that Americans for Tax Reform is an Islamist front group tied to the Muslim Brotherhood. He also contends that Norquist is gay. There is no apparent truth to Gaffney’s claims, but they have circulated widely on the right, championed by the likes of Breitbart and Glenn Beck.

In the past, Norquist has mostly won this intra-movement battle: He kicked Gaffney out of his influential Wednesday meetings of conservative activists, and had Gaffney barred from the Conservative Political Action Conference. In early 2016, Gaffney tried to get Norquist removed from the board of the National Rifle Association. Norquist’s allies waged an intense campaign on his behalf, and in May, he narrowly avoided removal from the board on a 53-47 percent vote of more than 130,000 NRA members.This was the reason I was so shocked to find Norquist cheering on Trump. Beyond the exhausting and annoying personal ordeal, his feud with Gaffney seemed to represent the ongoing battle for the soul of the Republican Party, with Norquist’s abstract, libertarian, economically focused agenda on one side and Gaffney’s paranoid, racially tinged vision on the other.

There is no denying that Trump’s rise has empowered Gaffney and his allies. Gaffney’s views have been embraced by officials now serving in the White House, such as presidential adviser Sebastian Gorka. Gaffney himself was an informal adviser to the Trump transition team. A man who represents everything Norquist doesn’t think the GOP should or does stand for—tribalism, xenophobia, identity politics—now has the ear of the Republican president.

To many, including some of his own strategists, Trump won both the primary and general elections by ignoring conservative dogma and instead tapping into people’s resentment of minorities and foreigners. Many analysts, myself included, saw Trump’s success as evidence that perhaps the true mainstream of the GOP was always more Gaffney than Norquist, more Breitbart than National Review. Influential Trump advisers like Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller have declared that they want to reshape America’s political debate into one about American culture and nationalism, not the size of government.

Norquist dismissed my theory that the Gaffney-ites have gained the upper hand in Trump’s GOP. “The guys who make that case are a fringe,” he said. “I don’t think Trump will respond to that.” The travel ban, he claimed, was “temporary and limited.” Hostility to immigrants, Muslims, and foreign trade he chalked up to “a level of grumpiness in the electorate” that would subside once economic conditions improved—which they would, thanks to Trump’s Reaganite regulatory and tax initiatives.“You get tax cuts and growth, and a lot of the challenges that people have on both immigration and trade become much less of a challenge, in terms of voters’ levels of grumpiness,” he said.

Norquist professes to have zero interest in any kind of racial politics. When, at one point, I made a joke about his “Scandinavian heritage,” based on his name, he responded flatly, “I am completely detribalized.” (Norquist’s grandparents came to the U.S. from Sweden.) Americans for Tax Reform advocated strongly on behalf of the 2013 “Gang of Eight” immigration-reform bill that passed the Senate but stalled in the House of Representatives.

Norquist had polished off his frittata and was chewing on a toasted English muffin, pondering whether vitamin enthusiasts might be the next frontier in anti-FDA activism. He simply refused to accept that the libertarian goals he sought might come, under Trump, at the price of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim policies. It was impossible to tell whether his insistence on seeing only the parts of Trumpism he agreed with was willfully disingenuous or an act of extreme denial.

Or maybe Norquist is right. He makes a strong case that Trump is a mere anomaly—the orange-haired tree—while what’s actually having an effect is a Republican Party that, Trump aside, is more right-wing, and more powerful, than ever.

Americans for Tax Reform’s agenda of limiting the federal government is well under way as virtually every Cabinet agency rolls back regulations—one of the few actual accomplishments of the bumbling new administration. The EPA is being gutted, the Federal Communications Commission is in the hands of a hard-core telecom libertarian, financial rules are being loosened. To be sure, Congress’s disastrous attempt to repeal Obamacare was a setback. But in the wake of that fiasco, Trump declared that he would move on to focus on tax reform.

Just imagine what it must be like to spend 30 years as the founder and president of an organization called Americans for Tax Reform and to finally have a president and Congress committed to tax reform as a top priority. It is the Washington policy-dork equivalent of winning the lottery—and changing the American fiscal landscape in the bargain.

It’s not just what’s happening in Washington that gladdens Norquist. Republicans also have unprecedented power at the state level. Americans for Tax Reform produces a map after every election showing which party controls each state, and Norquist handed me the latest version. It was redder than a blood-soaked towel. Twenty-five states are now totally in Republican hands, with a GOP governor and Republican majorities in both houses of the legislature. Democrats can claim similar ownership of just six states.

Republican candidates down the ballot, Norquist argues, stood for the party’s traditional platform of supply-side economics, not Trumpist populism—and most of them did better than Trump. “Half the country lives in a completely red state, OK?” Norquist said. “This is a wave that Trump caught—it’s not a tsunami he created.”

If Republicans listen to Norquist—and they generally do, or face the consequences—all those red states will push his agenda forward: lowering taxes, eliminating regulations, expanding gun rights. The withering of the labor movement will further kneecap Democrats, keeping them out of power for a generation. Wisconsin and Michigan have both seen union membership plummet after the enactment of “right to work” laws that made joining a union optional for government workers. Other Republican states are considering similar moves, and a Supreme Court case is pending that could impose right-to-work nationally, crippling unions for good.

“Seven million public sector employees who pay between four and eight billion dollars a year in dues: a third of them will quit,” Norquist said. “Now try funding the modern Democratic Party without union dues—good luck.”Oh, and one other thing: The government will get its sticky hands off everyone’s electronic cigarettes.

Norquist does not smoke, e-cigarettes or the regular kind. But he views vaping regulation as a new libertarian cause and vapers as a new potential constituency. In fact, Norquist’s theory about why Republicans won in 2016 is not Hillary’s emails or Russia or James Comey or the forgotten white working class. He believes it was crossover votes from vapers.

Aside from his take on Trump, this was the topic I wanted to discuss at my breakfast with Norquist. Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, I noticed, Norquist’s very active Twitter account, which has more than 65,000 followers, popped up regularly in my feed with out-of-the-blue statements like, “VAPING is a political movement.” In March 2016, as Trump and Ted Cruz were locked in the final stretch of their battle for the Republican nomination, Norquist tweeted: “Vape…then Vote….Vape…then Vote….Then Vape again.”

There are 10 million e-cigarette users in America, and they are passionately anti-vaping-regulation, even if they’re liberal on everything else. Norquist is working to move them into the Republican tent.

Norquist’s square-jawed press aide, John Kartch, who was seated next to him at our booth in a downtown D.C. hotel restaurant, reminded him about a vape-shop owner they’d met during the campaign. “He told us he was a lifelong Democrat, very left wing—he personally hated you forever.”“He didn’t say hated,” Norquist said, sounding slightly wounded.

But the man’s political orientation completely changed when he opened a vaping business and encountered a bunch of burdensome regulations, Kartch said. “He came to D.C. and presented Grover with a T-shirt.”

“Which I wore at Burning Man!” Norquist recalled. “I have the picture!”

“So, we picked up a lot of people who were probably center-left, if they voted at all,” Kartch said, this being the moral of the story.

“They have more tattoos than I do,” Norquist said archly. How high a bar is that?

“I have no tattoos,” Norquist admitted.

I asked Norquist how he could be so sure that vaping ought not be regulated, given that experts disagree on its potential health effects and much research remains to be done. “It’s none of the government’s goddamned business if it makes your nose fall off!” he said. He later clarified that rather than banning dangerous substances, the government should warn people and let them make their own decisions, as it does with alcohol and tobacco.

The vapers, Norquist contends, were pivotal in at least two swing states in 2016—one that Trump won, and one that he lost.

An Obama-era Food and Drug Administration regulation, if it isn’t repealed, would retroactively ban the vast majority of e-cigarettes. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire’s Republican senator, refused to take a position on it. Although she led in most polls, Ayotte lost her bid for re-election in November by a minuscule margin—one-tenth of a point—and Trump lost the state.

Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, on the other hand, supports legislation to keep vaping legal. Johnson, who was behind in the polls, pulled off one of the election’s biggest upsets, winning reelection by 3.4 points. He arguably dragged Trump to victory in the state on his coattails: Trump won Wisconsin by just seven-tenths of a point.

Norquist believes the senators’ fates and their stances on vaping were not a coincidence. During the campaign, ATR sponsored a cross-country pro-vaping bus tour, and hammered the issue particularly hard in Wisconsin. “There’s a guy we worked with who went to every vaping shop in Wisconsin, reminding them that Senator Johnson was the number-one defender of vaping,” Norquist told me.

The idea that vapers were the key to the 2016 election struck me as exotic, to say the least. But this is Norquist’s theory of coalition politics, one he has pursued relentlessly for decades: There is always a new group to be brought into the tent of people who want to be left alone by the government. America’s 2 million homeschooling families. Fifteen million holders of concealed-carry gun permits, a number that’s triple the membership of the NRA. And now, 10 million vapers.

Later, I called Johnson’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, to ask if the vapers had been crucial to his win, expecting she would laugh me off the phone. But while she didn’t attribute victory to the vapers alone, she didn’t deny that they had helped. “It is something we got a huge swell of support around,” she said. The campaign targeted digital ads at vapers as a result.

Norquist’s trust in Trump has put him at odds with many other conservative organizations. Americans for Tax Reform supported the failed House plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, on the grounds that it cut taxes; Heritage Action, the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks, and the Kochs’ Americans for Prosperity all opposed the bill, despite a White House meeting at which the president personally asked for their support. Republicans in Congress didn’t take Norquist’s side. The other conservative groups’ opposition helped torpedo the legislation.

Yet Norquist is confident he will win the war. He told me he trusted Trump because of the time he had spent in his presence. He had met Trump four times: Once in 2012, when he viewed him as a potential donor. Once in July 2015, when Trump spoke at the libertarian FreedomFest in Las Vegas and met with Norquist privately. Once at a reception before Trump’s April 2016 foreign-policy speech at the Center for the National Interest. (This was apparently the same reception at which Trump notoriously met the Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak.) And finally, at the White House in January.

It was a conversation with Trump at their third meeting that stood out in Norquist’s mind. “He said, ‘Do you like my tax cut?’ and I said, ‘Yes, it’s a fine tax cut,’” Norquist recalled. “And then he pointed at me and he said: ‘I’m with you 100 percent. I’m with you 100 percent. I’m with you 100 percent.’”

Norquist smiled, an impish, purse-lipped, cat-that-ate-the-canary smile. “So, he’s with me 100 percent,” he said. “He said it three times. What could be clearer?”

Russia’s Ultimate Non-Nuclear Bomb, “Father” 4 Times More Powerful Than Pentagon’s “Mother”

 

 

A mushroom cloud, Russian army 'tests the father of all bombs'

A mushroom cloud rises over a plain as Russia’s military test their latest weapon 

Russia has delivered a belligerent message of defiance to the West after army generals claimed to have tested “the father of all bombs”.

Developed in secret, the unchristened bomb, a vacuum device capable of emitting shockwaves as powerful as a nuclear weapon, was unveiled with great theatre on state television’s main evening broadcast.

Boasting that the weapon had “no match in the world,” ORT First Channel television showed a Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bomber dropping its payload over a testing ground, followed by a massive explosion.

Pictures of what appeared to be crumpled multi-storey apartment blocks were also broadcast.

Although there was no independent verification of the Russian military’s claim, the test is likely to cause further consternation in the West after a series of bellicose statements by the president, Vladimir Putin.

According to Russian generals, the bomb is four times more powerful than the American Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb or MOAB.

Better known as the Mother of All Bombs, the MOAB is a descendent of the BLU-82 Daisy cutter used in Tora Bora during the war against the Taliban in 2001.

Although it has never been used, the US military says the MOAB is capable of destroying nine city blocks in one strike.

According to Gen Alexander Rushkin, the Russian deputy chief of staff, the new bomb is smaller than the MOAB but much deadlier because, due to nanotechnology, the temperature at the epicentre of the blast is twice as high.

“Test results of the new airborne weapon have shown that its efficiency and power is commensurate with a nuclear weapon,” he said.

“The main destruction is inflicted by an ultrasonic shockwave and an incredibly high temperature,” ORT added.

“All that is alive merely evaporates.”

Despite its destructive qualities, the bomb is environmentally friendly, Gen Rushkin said.

The test comes after weeks of increasingly belligerent rhetoric from the Kremlin.

Mr Putin has ordered his long-range nuclear bombers to mount patrols in international airspace for the first time since the Cold War.

Last week, Russian Tupolev bombers approached British airspace for the fourth time in two months and sorties have also been flown close to US military installations.

Since Mr Putin, an ex-KGB officer, came to power, Russia’s annual defence spending has been quadrupled.

In addition, the Kremlin has announced a £100 billion military modernisation programme.

The new bomb is further proof that Russia’s military has regained its technological edge. New ground and sea launched nuclear missiles have also been developed.

“Mysterious,” Massive Explosion At Spin Boldak Military Centre On Afghan Border

Fire at Afghan ordnance depot triggers series of blasts

 

 

A ‘mysterious’ explosion at a military ordnance depot in Afghanistan triggered a series of blasts, sending shockwaves in Pakistan’s border town of Chaman in Balochistan late Monday night.

Spin Boldak Military Centre, located in the Kandahar province of Afghanistan, is on fire, Afghan sources told the Express News. Rockets are catching fire, exploding and raining on the populated area near the depot.

Talks fail to solve Chaman border issue

Afghan security forces have cordoned off the depot. According to preliminary reports, 10 people have been injured and shifted to the Spin Boldak hospital.

The explosions could be heard in Chaman which has also been shaken by the thud.

Pakistani military sources told Express News that forces manning the Pak-Afghan border have been put on high alert. They added that if needed ambulances would be sent to Zero-Point to ferry any injured to the Chaman hospital.

 

Trump Adviser Dodges Questions On Possible NK Missile Sabotage

McFarland ‘no comment’ on reports US sabotaged North Korea missile launch, calls launch a ‘fizzle’

 

 

 

Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland on Sunday declined to say whether the U.S. cyber-sabotaged North Korea’s failed missile launch, saying only that it was “a fizzle.”

“You know we can’t talk about secret intelligence and things that might have been done, covert operations,” McFarland told “Fox News Sunday.” “I really have no comment.”

Still, McFarland, a former Fox News contributor, said the failed non-nuclear missile test Sunday by the rogue nation was one of about 30 failed attempts and that cyberwar is now a big part of the geo-political landscape.

“I do think we are entering a whole new era, not just with North Korea but with everybody,” she said, amid speculation the U.S. foiled the launch with a cyber-attack.

“With any country, major country, we are entering a cyber platform, a cyber battlefield. That is where a lot of the wars of the future are going to be fought.”

Pence says N Korea’s latest ‘provocation’ shows risk to military

President Trump and other world leaders are concerned about North Korea’s nuclear tests and efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.

And Trump has recently tried to improve his relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and solicit his help in reining in North Korea’s nuclear pursuits.

U.S. officials think Sunday’s test involved a medium-range ballistic missile that failed within 4-5 seconds after launch and that it did not involve an intercontinental ballistic missile.

And officials said “other actions would have been taken by the U.S.,” had the failed launch been a nuclear test.

The high-profile failure came hours before Vice President Pence arrived in South Korea and as an American aircraft supercarrier approached the Korean Peninsula in a show of force.

McFarland and other U.S. officials say they had good intelligence about the launch, in part because North Korea this weekend was holding one of its biggest propaganda events of the year — celebrations of the 105th birthday of late North Korea founder Kim Il Sung, grandfather of the country’s current leader, Kim Jong Un.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, including two last year. Recent satellite imagery suggests the country could conduct another underground nuclear test at any time.

“We all understand that the Korean peninsula should be denuclearized,” McFarland said Sunday.

She also declined to say whether she is being pushed out of the White House and its National Security Council now that Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has been replaced as National Security Adviser by Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.

“President Trump hired me,” said McFarland, who reportedly is being asked to become ambassador to Singapore. “There are changes coming. But I am not going to tell you what they are.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Indian Press Claims 500 ISI Support Personnel Killed In US MOAB Attack In Achin

500 Pakistanis including ISI officers blown up in mammoth Afghan bombing by US

 

Official sources have now confirmed that the Pakistani army was backing these IS operatives in Afghanistan.

Written by:

Atleast 500 Pakistani nationals have been killed in the US bombing that took place at Nangarhar province in Afghanistan. The area that was targetted was controlled by the Islamic State and protected by the Pakistan army, sources say.

The operation that was jointly coordinated by the 201 Selab Corps of the Afghanistan army targeted the caves and tunnels that were used as hiding places by the IS. It is now clear that the Pakistan army was backing these IS operatives in Afghanistan, official sources also confirmed.

Indian agencies who are coordinating withe counterparts in Afghanistan have learnt that there are no civilians living in the area. There were a large number of stooges of the Inter-Services intelligence who have been protecting the IS operatives in this area. The US action comes at a time when there was a huge build-up of IS forces in Afghanistan.

Indian agencies say that the Pakistan army and the ISI were nurturing these operatives. The entire area that was bombed was under the control of the ISI officials backing the IS, sources also said. The impact of the bomb was so huge that it blew up at least 500 Pakistanis and an equal number of IS operatives.

Did Trump Quietly Slide Spicer Out the Door?

Spicer reports to Pentagon for Navy Reserve duty

 
White House press secretary Sean Spicer reported to the Pentagon on Friday to fulfill his U.S. Navy Reserve duty in the Joint Chiefs of Staff office.

He reported in uniform to the Pentagon as part of his regular duties, the White House confirmed to the Washington Examiner.

President Trump was in Mar-a-Lago Friday with his wife, Melania, and a lean staff. Spicer, like many other senior aides, stayed behind in Washington for the Easter weekend.

Japan and China Making Visable Preparations For Nuclear Fallout

Japan and China visibly preparing for preventive strike fallout

Robert Park

Japan and China have already taken clear-cut measures to safeguard their nationals and interests in the event of a looming military confrontation.

Meanwhile, Korean civilians — who would suffer most devastatingly as “collateral damage” on account of preventive strikes against North Korea — remain singularly and inexplicably vulnerable as well as thoroughly unprepared for the possibility.

Bewilderingly, South Korea’s opposition to such strikes has yet to be delivered to the US in an unequivocal and unwavering manner.

As political scientist John Delury stated regarding the “pre-emptive strike” scheme for a March 10 report, “The role of a South Korean president, whether liberal or conservative, is to be the person who gently takes that option off the table. The South Korean president has to be saying, ‘If you take out their missile pad, they take out our capital.’ But that hasn’t been happening.”

Trump’s “unpredictability” renders South Korea’s present ambiguity on the vital matter all the more perilous. It is critical to immediately clarify with counterparts in the US the South’s stance.

Brian Bridges, an adjunct professor of Asian politics at Lingnan University, told Bloomberg for an April 12 report: “This has the potential to turn into a conflagration that Asia hasn’t seen since the Vietnam war. If anything, his unpredictability makes the situation more risky because the North Koreans aren’t 100 percent sure he won’t attack.”

Many analysts have stressed that the risk of miscalculated military operations — via adversaries misreading each other’s intentions — remains among the gravest and most credible dangers the Korean Peninsula and people face today.

South Korea should pay closer attention to relevant developments in Japan.

In March, Japan began civilian evacuation drills preparing for a North Korea-related contingency.

During a bilateral government meeting preceding last week’s Trump-Xi summit, Japan’s Kyodo News reports Washington informed Tokyo it is highly possible they will strike the North and that the US president intended to deliver this plan to Xi.

Following the US-China summit, the Huanqiu Shibao, one of China’s state-run newspapers, addressed war rumors relevant to the Korean Peninsula as of legitimate concern, calling for heightened vigilance over this particular period on Tuesday. Kim Jong-un is generally believed to be preparing a nuclear or missile test, or possibly another type of provocation this month for his grandfather’s birthday and/or for the foundation date of the North Korean armed forces on April 25.

On Wednesday, Japan’s Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported the US has accepted Tokyo’s request for bilateral consultation preceding military action against North Korea. Somehow, South Korea seems to be left out when the region, in the wake of US strikes, would be required to absorb the full force of Kim Jong-un’s reprisals while woefully unprotected.

KBS reported Tuesday a senior researcher at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies warned “a US pre-emptive strike against North Korea will cause massive civilian casualties in South Korea,” further pointing out that the North’s counterattack “would not deal a severe blow to US troops, however South Korea‘s capital region, with a population of 25 million, is within the range of the North’s artillery attack.”

Cheong Seong-chang, senior research fellow at the Sejong Institute, stated for an April 11 article: “If the US attacks the Yongbyon facility, it will open the curtains to the worst-case scenario — nuclear war — as North Korea could attack South Korea’s nuclear plants or Seoul using nuclear weapons. … Japan will support the US in attacking North Korea.”

On Sunday, former Japanese Cabinet Minister Shigeru Ishiba — who has openly advocated for his country to establish the capability to conduct “pre-emptive” strikes against North Korea, and may become prime minister — declared “Seoul might turn into a sea of fire,” while “calling for measures to rescue Japanese citizens in Seoul.” As Dong-A Ilbo pointed out in an editorial Tuesday, “Such a remark was publicly made by such an influential politician, which is simply petrifying.”

None can convincingly deny that Japan would be considerably more privy to what the US may or may not do, given the undisguised closeness of the Abe and Trump administrations.

As Joongang Ilbo pointed out in an April 10 editorial, Trump phoned Shinzo Abe before the Trump-Xi summit to discuss issues that would be raised, while no such conversation was held with Seoul.

Following the summit, Trump spoke for 45 minutes with Abe but only 20 minutes with South Korea’s Prime Minister and acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn.

We witnessed a similar disparity during Rex Tillerson’s time in Asia, and in other settings.

Most conspicuously and alarmingly, while Trump has appointed ambassadors to Japan, China and Russia, none has yet been named for Korea.

On Tuesday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga conveyed Tokyo’s support for Washington’s consideration of “all options” vis–a–vis North Korea.

Japanese media reports the return of Tokyo’s ambassador to the South was linked to the need for facilitating the evacuation of Japanese citizens in the event of war.

It seems both China and Japan are not quite convinced that threats of a US strike on North Korea are merely bombast. The fact that both countries’ leaders have had summit meetings with Trump — while South Korea has not — and are taking such substantial measures ought not to be dismissed by South Koreans.

In a March 20 commentary titled “Bombing North Korea is not an option,” Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times reminds that multiple “waves” of preventive strikes would be needed to achieve US stated objectives as “North Korean nuclear and missile programs are widely dispersed, including underground and underwater.”

“It is unlikely that the whole program could be destroyed in a single wave of strikes, which would immediately raise the prospect of nuclear retaliation by the North,” Rachman wrote.

A positive and commendable step in the proper direction is that Seoul’s unification minister, Hong Yong-pyo, has stepped forward to declare South Korea’s opposition to American military action against North Korea. Through a media conference Monday, Hong stated the government will need to “consult with Washington about a pre-emptive strike against the North considering the impact it would have on the security of South Korea.” The above suggests, however, that this conversation has yet to sufficiently take place. Hong added “South Korea cannot see eye to eye with the US on every military decision,” KBS reported.

The South Korean government must now deliver the equivalent message to US authorities and “gently” but categorically remove the US military strike option “off the table” — so that such a catastrophic misstep would never be left to chance nor a distressed, unprepared and precariously assailable populace abandoned to such agonizing speculation.

By Robert Park

Robert Park is a founding member of the nonpartisan Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea, minister, musician and former prisoner of conscience. He can be reached at wcsgnk1@protonmail.com. — Ed.

Russian Jets Pound Aleppo Bus Attackers In Retaliation For Mass-Murder War Crime

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (11:40 P.M.) – This evening, Russia unleashed its fiercest bombardment on northern Hama as airstrikes completely obliterated a number of rebel-held positions in the towns of Souran, Taibat Al-Imam, Halfaya and Lataminah.

A military source told Al-Masdar News that the air raids were conducted by a total of five Russian warplanes and two choppers that continuously returned to pound the Islamist strongholds with barely minutes in-between.

At least 50 Russian sorties were conducted beginning on Saturday morning, utilizing what appears to be a previously unused type of bomb, causing massive destruction in its wake.


The Russian bombardment is supposedly retalition for a massacre commited by an unknown rebel faction that killed over 75 Shi’ite civilians [Death toll from Aleppo bomb attack at least 112–ed.] whom were in the process of being evacuated from Fuah, a government enclave on the outskirts of Idlib city.

Souran, Halfaya and Taibat Al-Imam are expected to be the target of an upcoming Syrian Arab Army (SAA) ground offensive. Notably, Latamineh witnessed the most intense bombardment today; this town has long served as a gathering point for jihadist fighters to launch attacks on government-held areas of Hama province.

Moscow’s 11-Nation Peace Conference Boycotted By Both Taliban and Pentagon

US Wary of Russian Role in Afghanistan as Moscow Holds Talks

At Russia-Led Regional Talks, Afghanistan Says Talks With Taliban Can Only Be Held on Its Soil

Afghanistan Peace Conference in Moscow: Afghan crisis has no military solution

 

 

 

By Varonica Kharakov from Moscow for Dispatch News Desk news agency

Moscow, Pakistan: The first round of Afghanistan Peace Conference concluded here on Friday and participants expressed that Afghan crisis has no military solution.

Participants maintained that peace can (could) be brought to Afghanistan only through political process and dialogue between the Afghan government and fighting Taliban.

Participants also expressed their concern over rise of Daesh in Afghanistan.

Official experts from China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are attending Afghanistan Peace Conference hosted by Russia.

According to a statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry at the end of first day of Conference, experts on Afghanistan expressed concern over the growth of a terrorism threat in Afghanistan.

Statement maintains as:

“In the course of an honest and constructive exchange of views on the state and prospects of military and political situation in the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the parties expressed concern over the growth of terrorism activity, leading to further bloodshed and suffering of the Afghan people”.

Participants assured their support to Afghan government to assist in providing opportunities to Afghanistan.

Participants were of the view that international community should continue supporting Kabul to ensure stability because Afghanistan needs (needed) constant financial support.

It may be mentioned that Taliban refused to attend the conference at last minute and Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid said on Thursday night that they are not attending the conference.

“We cannot call these negotiations as a dialogue for the restoration of peace in Afghanistan”, said Zabiullah Mujahid while talking to US media on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, US also refused to attend the Peace Conference and called it “unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region”.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner commented on Peace Conference and said :

“It seemed to be a unilateral Russian attempt to assert influence in the region that we felt wasn’t constructive at this time”.

Karzai Blasts US For Testing Weapons of Mass Destruction On Living Beings In Nangarhar

 

Former president Hamid Karzai said he no longer recognizes the government as the representative of the country’s national sovereignty.

 

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An angry former president, Hamid Karzai, on Saturday lashed out at government and the U.S over Thursday night’s bombing of Achin district in Nangarhar.

Karzai said he did not recognize the government, and has decided to work to get rid of America in Afghanistan.

“Yesterday it was the third time that I decided to free Afghanistan (first time from Russia, second time from Pakistan and now) from America’s incursion, operation and violation.”

Comparing Thursday’s bomb to a nuclear weapon, Karzai asked “why did you drop an atom bomb in our country?”

He criticized government for “allowing the U.S to drop such a big non-nuclear bomb. If government approved it, the act is treason.”

He said the bombing was an insult to Afghanistan and that the U.S was just using Daesh as an excuse.

According to him Thursday’s bombing had been pre-planned and it had been to test a weapon of mass destruction.

Karzai also said it was a violation of Afghanistan’s sovereignty and a violation of the environment.

He implied that villagers in the region had over time been evacuated from the area.

He said that it was now apparent that locals had been moved ahead of the planned bombing and questioned why the U.S had waited two years to take action against Daesh.

It was around mid-2015 that the group first emerged in the eastern province.

“As a citizen of this country I have decided to stop America. Whether someone wants to stand beside me or not I have decided to stop America’s oppression. It was an insult to our sovereignty.

“We must ask about whether the U.S came here to fight terrorism but instead terrorism is increasing every day in the presence of the United States,” he said.

He said that government announced on Friday it had been aware of the bombing and that he, as a citizen of the country, does “not recognized this government as my representative and as representative of my goals, wishes and of my national sovereignty.”

“I have decided to oust American from this soil,” he stated.

Karzai’s remarks come just two days after the U.S on Thursday night fired off a Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB), commonly known as the Mother of All Bombs, against a Daesh tunnel complex in the remote area of Nangarhar.

The move was met with mixed reactions but the national unity government has confirmed it was aware of the plan ahead of the bombing.

The Un-Friendly Skies of the America’s Police State

‘Friendly Skies’ Look Much Like America’s Police State

Sadly, what happened to an Asian doctor on a United commercial jetliner has fast become the norm in the United States, where local, state, and federal law enforcement regularly side with the government and corporations and routinely abuse citizens.

By Sophia Meyer

Dr. David Dao was seated on United Flight 3411 Sunday night, prepared to fly from Chicago to Louisville on the last leg of an exhausting 24-hour journey. He was going back to work, with patients to see the next morning at 8.

When notified he was had been computer-selected to give his seat to a United employee needing to get to work in Louisville, Dao refused. After United employees were unsuccessful in convincing him to disembark, three Chicago Aviation Department security officers boarded the plane to remove Dao—willingly or not.

In a passenger’s video recording of the incident, Dao can be heard telling the officers: “I’m not going. I’m a physician. I have to work tomorrow at 8.” An officer threatens, “We’ll have to drag you off,” to which Dao responds, “Well then you can drag me. . . . I’m not going. I’m staying right here,” and then says, “I’d rather go to jail.”

Then, in what The Atlantic calls, “the ‘re-accommodation’ heard ’round the world,” the screaming Dao “was ripped out of his seat by uniformed officers and dragged down the aisle on his back like carry-on luggage, as several horrified passengers captured video footage of his bloodied face on their phones.”

Passengers can be heard expressing disbelief and disgust as he’s dragged away. “Hey, hey, hey, come on! Now you’ve busted his lip.” “Oh, my God! Look what you did to him! This is horrible!” And, sarcastically, “Good work. Way to go.”

The officers have been “placed on indefinite leave,” according to the Chicago Department of Aviation, which acknowledged the situation was not handled “in accordance with our standard operating procedure.”

It required three attempts for United CEO Oscar Munoz to apologize to Dao, his family, and the other passengers for the police-state tactics used aboard his plane. Finally—three days and three attempts later, and only after United stock had lost $255 million—Munoz told ABC News on Wednesday, “probably the word shame comes to mind,” in describing how he felt upon watching the video showing the handcuffed passenger being literally dragged off his plane. “It was a system failure,” he continued, blaming United’s policies, that do not enable employees to use “common sense.”

Munoz had initially outraged the public when he tweeted, “We apologize for the overbook situation,” and then in a statement blamed the victim: Dao, he said, had “raised his voice and refused to comply with crew member instructions” and “became more and more disruptive and belligerent.”

Now, similar to what often follows such police-state violence, USA Today reports “Videos from United Airlines flight incident may violate rules. . . . [P] assengers were in violation of United’s policies and could face legal repercussions in civil court or be barred from future United flights.”

If this series of events sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because time and again, innocent victims of police-state violence in America—like the young man shot to death in his own apartment while playing video games at 1:30 a.m. when police came searching for someone else, as reported by AFP in Issue 15 & 16, 2017—have their reputations smeared by the agencies and media, are themselves blamed for agency misconduct, and onlookers who document the carnage are themselves threatened and even arrested.

China’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, has been abuzz with the news, since Dao is of Asian descent. Ironically, one commenter noted United’s treatment of him is “a perfect illustration” of human rights in the United States.

Indeed, whether on land or in the sky, and whether such violent tactics are carried out by representatives of local law enforcement, federal agencies like the DEA, ICE or IRS, or remote drone controllers targeting unarmed American citizens for murder, the onus is focused on those who document such police-state tactics rather than on the criminals carrying them out.

In addition to a growing “Boycott United” sentiment, Dao has filed a lawsuit and the company’s stock has plummeted $1.4 billion as of this writing. Surely, one would assume, the company immediately changed its policies.

Au contraire!

A mere two days after Dao’s mistreatment, United first-class passenger Geoff Fearns was threatened with handcuffs if he did not give up his $1,000 bought-and-paid-for full-fare seat so that a last-minute, “higher-priority” traveler could have it. When Fearns stood his ground and refused to leave the plane, United finally “compromised” and moved him to a seat in economy class.

Once home, Fearns wrote Munoz requesting a full refund and a $25,000 donation from United to the charity of his choice for his mistreatment.

A week later, United’s “corporate customer care specialist” instead offered Fearns a refund of the difference between his first-class ticket price and economy fare as well as a $500 credit toward future travel on United.

When asked if he’ll ever “fly the friendly skies” again, Fearns laughed, “Are you kidding?”

Originally from the Midwest, Sophia Meyer is a freelance writer and editor and avid gardener now living on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

Former Afghan Pres. Karzai Denounces US Use of Afghanistan As Weapons’ Testing Grounds

Karzai, Zakhelwal denounce dropping of GBU-43 bomb on Afghan soil

KABUL (Pajhwok): Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai and incumbent government’s envoy to Pakistan Umar Zakhelwal on Friday denounced dropping of world largest non-nuclear bomb in eastern Nangarhar province.

In his social media account Afghan the ex-Afghan president in strongest terms condemned the dropping of latest weapon in Afghanistan.

“I vehemently and in strongest words condemn the dropping of the latest weapon, the largest non-nuclear bomb on Afghanistan by US,” Karzai wrote on his twitter account.

The former president deplored Afghanistan has become testing ground for new weapons and called on the people and Afghan government to stop US from further experiments.

“This is not the war on terror but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons,” he said.

Separately Afghan envoy to Pakistan and President Ghani special envoy Hazrat Umar Zakehlwal termed the bombing of mother of bombs as reprehensible and counterproductive.

“I find the use of the largest non-nuclear bomb, the so called “mother of all bombs” on our soil reprehensible and counterproductive,” he wrote.

The envoy questioned if big bombs were the solution to the Afghan conundrum, the war-torn country would have been the most secure place in the world.

The U.S. has dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb on a tunnel complex in Afghanistan

[NUKE ISIS!]

The U.S. has dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb on a tunnel complex in Afghanistan, the U.S. military said. The use of the GBU-43/B is a first for the battlefield, and was dropped in Nangarhar province on Thursday.

The U.S. has dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb on a tunnel complex in Afghanistan

The use of the GBU-43/B is a first for the battlefield, and was dropped in Nangarhar province on Thursday.

The U.S. has dropped one if its largest non-nuclear bombs on a tunnel complex in Afghanistan, the U.S. military said.

The use of the GBU-43/B is a first for the battlefield, and was dropped in Nangarhar province on Thursday. The target was a tunnel complex in Achin district being used by the ISIS-Khorasan group.

Known as the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, the bomb has been nicknamed “Mother of All Bombs.” Developed in 2003, the bomb has been tested but never used against an enemy. The bomb is 30-feet long and weighs 21,000 pounds. It’s been billed the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. inventory, but the GBU-57 Massive Ordnance Penetrator is larger, at 30,000 pounds.

“As ISIS-K’s losses have mounted, they are using IEDs, bunkers and tunnels to thicken their defense,” Gen. John “Mick” Nicholson, commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, said in a statement. “This is the right munition to reduce these obstacles and maintain the momentum of our offensive against ISIS-K.”

On Saturday, Staff Sgt. Mark R. De Alencar was killed in Nangarhar province while fighting the ISIS-Khorasan group. ISIS-Khorasan is an ISIS affiliate that operates in Afghanistan. Nangarhar province, on the eastern border near Pakistan, has been a base of operations for ISIS since 2015, the military said.

“Daesh [ISIS] seek to use the area to train, equip, disseminate propaganda, and expand their control over innocent Afghans,” U.S. Forces-Afghanistan said in September.

The military statement said the bomb was dropped from “a U.S. aircraft,” and the strike “was designed to minimize the risk to Afghan and U.S. Forces conducting clearing operations in the area while maximizing the destruction of ISIS-K fighters and facilities.”

 

Green Beret Killed By ISIS In Afghanistan Identified

Staff Sgt. Mark De Alencar Was Killed While Fighting The Islamic State Over The Weekend

https://i1.wp.com/www.khaama.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/4-heroin-factories-destroyed-in-Nangarhar.jpg

4 large heroin factories destroyed by Afghan forces in Nangarhar

 

666 Fifth Avenue–Centerpiece In Kushner Empire, Obstacle To White House Ambitions?

[Trump is trying to name his son-in-law as the next President.  In this way, his Jewish backers will not even have to “create awareness” of candidate Jared Kushner, Trump will ordain him next President by slowly sliding him into high-publicity roles, like his oversight of everything Israel (SEE:  Soros the Power Behind Jared Kushner’s Throne ).]

Front of 666 Fifth Avenue

What exactly is going on with Kushner Companies’ 5th Ave. ‘reinvention’?

 

 

We have no idea whether Kushner Companies’ plan to “reinvent” 666 Fifth Ave. as a 1,400-foot-tall tower of luxury condos, a hotel and top-end retail will ever get built. My colleague Lois Weiss first reported last week that Kushner’s prospective partner, China’s Anbang, had declined to go ahead with a deal. A Kushner rep told the New York Times Monday that the company still expected to line up $2.5 billion in equity from other sources.

But, entirely separate from issues regarding Kushner’s possible conflicts of interest or the propriety of getting a Chinese cash infusion while President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is a close adviser to Trump are more down-to-earth matters.

One reported number is especially baffling: a $4.1 billion construction loan supposedly needed to realize late architect Zaha Hadid’s design. For a very tall but skinny tower that will have floor plates of just 10,000 square feet for most of its height?

SL Green needed only a $1.5 billion construction loan for One Vanderbilt, the highly sophisticated office tower it’s building next to Grand Central Terminal that’s 100 feet taller than a new 666 Fifth would be.

None of the World Trade Center office towers required a construction loan of more than $3 billion on sites much more complex than 666 Fifth.

And, the entire Second Avenue Subway cost $4.5 billion — including three new stations along a new, mile-and-a-half-long right of way.

Syrian News Reports Massive Casualty Gas Event After Coalition Airstrike Near Deir Al-Zour

General Command: Hundreds killed,

including large numbers of civilians as a result of an air strike of the International Coalition on a warehouse containing toxic substances to organize “Daash” in the Deir Al-Zour

 

 

 

Damascus-Sana

The General Command of the army and the armed forces confirmed the deaths of hundreds of people, including large numbers of civilians as a result of a raid by the US-led International Alliance on a large warehouse of the terrorist organization “Da’ash” containing toxic substances in the village of Hatala in the eastern suburb of Deir al-Zour.

The General Command of the Army said in a statement received by SANA that the flight of the so-called “international coalition” carried out yesterday between 17:30 and 17.05 airstrike on the headquarters of the terrorist organization, which includes a large number of foreign mercenaries in the village of Hittila east of Deir al-Zour formed a white cloud Turned yellow turned out to be caused by a huge warehouse explosion containing a large amount of toxic substances.

The General Command of the Army: The air strike of the “coalition” led to “a fire that continued until 22:30 and hundreds of deaths, including large numbers of civilians as a result of bottlenecks caused by the inhalation of toxic substances.”

The General Command of the Army: This incident “confirms the fact of coordination between terrorist organizations and the forces supporting them to find excuses and accusations of the Syrian Arab army using chemical weapons and confirms the possession of terrorist organizations led by the organization” urged “and the Front for the victory of chemical weapons and their ability to access, transfer, Is well known in the region and this is what Syria has warned of every time terrorist groups use chemical weapons against civilians and the Syrian Arab armed forces. “

The General Command of the Army and the Armed Forces reiterated once again that “they do not possess any kind of chemical weapons or use them,” warning of “the dangers of the persistence of terrorist groups in the use of chemical weapons against civilians, especially after recent messages that provide them with cover that can escape impunity.”

On-Site Video of Syrian al-Shayrat Airbase Tomahawk Aftermath

 

ANNA NEWS

 

offered the following doctored Google Map, alleging to locate 59 craters at al Shayrat Airbase]

“59 Shayrat Hits: 1-24 Hangars; 25-53 C/C-Support; 54-59 Runways (Weapons Storage Bunkers Avoided)”

Satellite images show destruction of Assad’s air base as US says 58 of 59 Tomahawk missiles hit their target

– but Russia insists more than half of them MISSED

 

 

  • Before and after satellite images show how al-Shayrat military airfield was damaged in Thursday’s strike
  • The satellite pictures show damaged and destroyed aircraft shelters and massive blast marks on the ground 
  • Trump launched 59 Tomahawk missiles from over 30 minutes from Mediterranean Sea, 150 miles away
  • Attack was in retaliation to Bashar al-Assad’s use of Sarin gas on Syrian civilians, killing 80 including children

These before and after satellite images show the damage to al-Shayrat military airfield which was hit by US cruise missiles on Thursday night.

A US defence official said that 58 of the 59 missiles ‘severely degraded or destroyed’ their intended targets but Russian officials claimed that only 23 reached the base and the locations of the others were ‘unknown’.

Pictures from ImageSat International show how the missiles destroyed aircraft, workshops, hangars and bunkers. Russian and Syrian troops were warned of the attack so they could evacuate some of their planes and soldiers.

Before and after: This image shows five aircraft workshops before and after the strike on Thursday at 3.45am local time

After the strike: These satellite images show the damage to al-Shayrat military airfield which was hit by US cruise missiles on Thursday night

After the strike: These satellite images show the damage to al-Shayrat military airfield which was hit by US cruise missiles on Thursday night

Aircraft shelters: This image shows how the missiles struck aircraft shelters on Thursday night after Syrian troops were warned

Aircraft shelters: This image shows how the missiles struck aircraft shelters on Thursday night after Syrian troops were warned

Before and after: This image shows how three hangars were struck by the missiles. One (left) was destroyed but two (circled) remained intact

Before and after: This image shows a bunker was blown to smithereens by the strike which retaliated to Assad’s gas attack

Observers said al-Sharyat Air Base was ‘almost completely destroyed’ by the 1,000lb warheads in a 30-minute barrage of destruction that is said to have destroyed 20 planes, a dozen aircraft hangars and a fuel depot, as well as ripped up runways, storage sites and radars.

The missiles were launched from US destroyers 150 miles away in the Mediterranean Sea in response to Assad’s Sarin gas attack in Idlib on Tuesday, which killed 80 civilians, including children.

Footage and photos from the ground Friday morning showed some of the aircraft shelters – which appear to be made of thick concrete, with feet of sand piled on top – partially or fully collapsed.

Others had sunlight shining in through holes in their roofs, and black scorch marks on their walls. 

Destruction: These images show the extent of the destruction wrought on Syria's al-Shayrat military airfield by US Tomahawk missiles on Thursday

Destruction: These images show the extent of the destruction wrought on Syria’s al-Shayrat military airfield by US Tomahawk missiles on Thursday

Damage: The photos show that the missiles – which were launched from 150 miles away by US destroyers – were terrifyingly accurate, slamming down on the shelters and ripping up runways

Disabled: The damage sustained in the 30-minute attack was meant to disable the air base, near the city of Homs. This shot shows how far apart the main target zones were

Before the attack: This photo shows the base in October 2016. Russia claimed that only 23 out of the 59 rockets fired actually hit the base, but the US Navy said only one failed to find its mark

Before the attack: This photo shows the base in October 2016. Russia claimed that only 23 out of the 59 rockets fired actually hit the base, but the US Navy said only one failed to find its mark

Aftermath: This is the aftermath of one of the Tomahawk missile strikes, underneath one of the protective concrete plane shelters. US officials said that 20 Syrian jets were destroyed in the attack

Aftermath: This is the aftermath of one of the Tomahawk missile strikes, underneath one of the protective concrete plane shelters. US officials said that 20 Syrian jets were destroyed in the attack

Twisted: Twisted and shredded metal is all that's left of this ravaged plane after the bombardment. The Syrian government said at least seven soldiers were killed and nine wounded, though the US had tried to avoid barracks and populated buildings

Rubble: Shredded metal is all that’s left of this ravaged plane after the bombardment. The Syrian government said at least seven soldiers were killed and nine wounded, though the US had tried to avoid barracks and populated buildings

Detonated: These tanks - likely containing fuel - appear to have been blow up by the massive rockets. The Syrian media claimed nine civilians died even though the attack was launched at almost 4am local time on a military base

Detonated: These tanks – likely containing fuel – appear to have been blow up by the massive rockets. The Syrian media claimed nine civilians died even though the attack was launched at almost 4am local time on a military base

Shredded: Another plane shredded to pieces by the Tomahawk missiles, which have been updated many times since their use in the Gulf War. The modern missiles can be redirected en route to a target, and were launched 150 miles away 

Shredded: Another plane shredded to pieces by the Tomahawk missiles, which have been updated many times since their use in the Gulf War. The modern missiles can be redirected en route to a target, and were launched 150 miles away

Escaped: While many of the shelters were badly hit in the attacks, some - such as those visible far in the background - were not. Russian TV made a point of showing those shelters in their morning news reports

Escaped: While many of the shelters were badly hit in the attacks, some – such as those visible far in the background – were not. Russian TV made a point of showing those shelters in their morning news reports

Unscathed: This collection of five jets on al-Sharyat Air Base somehow escaped the bombing raid, despite being located out in the open, on a patchy grass plain

Unscathed: This collection of five jets on al-Sharyat Air Base somehow escaped the bombing raid, despite being located out in the open, on a patchy grass plain

‘Initial indications are that this strike has severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment at Shayrat Airfield, reducing the Syrian government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons,’ said Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis.

Two senior defense officials told Fox News that about 20 Syrian jets were destroyed in the strike, although footage screened on Russian television suggested that at least two had escaped the destruction.

Early reports put the figure at nine destroyed jets.

The US officials said that none of the planes had been able to scramble before missiles hit, and that no Russian aircraft were at the airfield. No helicopters were struck during the destruction, they said.

When asked why Russian TV footage showed an undamaged shelter and two apparently intact jets, an expert told CNN that the US had been precise in its targeting due to the size of the airfield so as not to waste missiles, and so not every area would be accountedfor.

On the ground: These damaged hangars, blackened by smoke, are at the entrance to the Syrian airfield bombarded by the US. The US targeted several such shelters across the military base, which it said held chemical weapons

On the ground: These damaged hangars, blackened by smoke, are at the entrance to the Syrian airfield bombarded by the US. The US targeted several such shelters across the military base, which it said held chemical weapons

Burnt out: Footage showing burnt out shelters and hangars and a damaged runway was cheered by tearful Syrians hoping that Trump's intervention would lead to Assad being overthrown

Burnt out: Footage showing burnt out shelters and hangars and a damaged runway was cheered by tearful Syrians hoping that Trump’s intervention would lead to Assad being overthrown

Shattered: Pictures show shards of shattered concrete strewn across the airfield at the Syrian military base this morning. The Syrian Army called it an 'act of 'aggression' 

Shattered: Pictures show shards of shattered concrete strewn across the airfield at the Syrian military base this morning. The Syrian Army called it an ‘act of ‘aggression’

Jets: Footage and pictures from the base screened on Russian TV appeared to show jet planes still contained in undamaged aircraft hangars

Jets: Footage and pictures from the base screened on Russian TV appeared to show jet planes still contained in undamaged aircraft hangars

Syria claimed that at least seven of its soldiers were killed and nine wounded in the airstrike. According to US intel, there were 12-100 personnel on the site that night. Efforts were made not to hit barracks, officials said.

SANA, Syria’s state media, also claimed that nine civilians, including four children, were killed – even though the airbase was attacked at 3:45am local time.

The satellite photos show a considerable distance between the base’s perimeter and the nearest built-up area.

US officials announced on Friday that they were investigating whether a drone seen just after Tuesday’s gas attack was in fact Russia-operated.

The drone returned late in the day as citizens were going to a nearby hospital for treatment. Shortly afterward, officials say, the hospital was bombed.

Officials said the hospital strike may have been an effort to cover up evidence of the chemical attack.

It’s not clear which hospital they were referring to, but local activists released photos of al Rahma hospital in Khan Sheikhoun, saying it was shelled by Russians on Tuesday.

The US said that only one of its missiles failed to land on-target after being launched by the USS Ross and USS Porter, although Russians released their own counter-claims, saying that only 23 of the 59 rockets hit the base.

But the photos released by the Department of Defense suggest that that the missiles – at least, the ones involved in the damage seen in the satellite images – were closely clustered around the aircraft hangars.

The US said the base was being used to store chemical weapons, like those used on civilians in the city of Idlib on Tuesday.

That attack, which killed 80 civilians and injured many more, was the fourth such atrocity in Syria since the conflict began in 2011. One chemical attack has been blamed on ISIS and the other three on Syrian forces.

An hour after the attack, Trump, speaking from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, where he is hosting the Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng as part of a two day summit, said the US had to act after the Syrian dictator launched the ‘horrible chemical weapons attack’ on innocent civilians.

‘Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack,’ he said. ‘It was a slow and brutal death for so many. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.’

He added: ‘There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the chemical weapons convention, and ignored the urging of the UN security council.

‘Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed and failed very dramatically.

‘As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.

‘Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.’

While Trump’s election victory marked the possibility of a ‘reset’ between the former Cold War adversaries, that optimism has since dissipated, with relations between the US and Russia hitting a new low in recent years as officials on both sides openly bashed each other Friday.

Putin this morning denounced the strike as an ‘illegal act of aggression’ and also ripped up an agreement to avoid mid-air clashes between Russian and US fighter jets over Syria.

Putin saw the US action as an ‘aggression against a sovereign nation’ on a ‘made-up pretext’ and considered it a cynical attempt to distract the world from civilian deaths in Iraq, according to Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev took to Facebook on Friday to declare US-Russian relations ‘completely ruined’. He also said the US was ‘on the verge of a military clash with Russia’.

Rex Tillerson also delivered some harsh words on Thursday and said Russia was either ‘complicit’ in the Sarin attack that killed more than 80 people or ‘simply incompetent’ in getting Syria to surrender its chemical weapons.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley echoed the sentiments at the UN Security Council and mocked Moscow for failing to rid Syria of chemical weapons under a 2013 deal.

WHY DIDN’T PUTIN’S GROWLERS STOP TRUMP’S MISSILES?

Trump’s missiles somehow managed to get past Vladimir Putin’s state-of-the art S-400 Growler air defense system, which covered al-Shayrat airfield.

The Growlers – which can intercept targets at a range of 250 miles and at heights of up to 90,000 feet – are stationed at Latakia Airbase, meaning al-Shayrat should be covered by them.

Russia was also given 30 minutes’ notice before the attacks.

Why the system did not protect the base – whether it was because they’ve never gone up against US technology or because Putin allowed the strike to occur – remains to be seen.

In the wake of the attacks, Russia said its service personnel were still protected by the Growlers, and vowed to step up protection of al-Shayrat.

‘It could be that the Assad regime is playing the Russians for fools,’ Haley said.

In response to the airstrikes, Russia said it will further strengthen Syrian air defenses.

And Putin ordered his Admiral Grigorovich frigate – armed with cruise missiles and a self-defense system – from the Black Sea to dock in-between the Syrian mainland and the US ships that launched the attack.

Russia’s foreign minister says no Russian servicemen have been hurt in the bombing raid. Its security council said it regretted the ‘harm’ done to relations between Washington and Moscow.

The country also demanded a special meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss what it called ‘aggression against a sovereign state’.

The meeting, called by Bolivia on Friday afternoon, saw Bolivian Ambassador Sacha Lorenti denouncing the United States as acting like ‘investigator, attorney, judge and executioner’.

The US was defended by France and Britain.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft praised President Trump’s decision, saying the attack was ‘an appropriate response to such a heinous crime, a war crime.’

And French Ambassador Francois Delattre expressed hope the US action would be a ‘game changer and help boost the political negotiations’.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres urged restraint and a renewed push for peace in Syria, saying in a statement that ‘there is no other way to solve the conflict than through a political solution’.

He said: ‘For too long, international law has been ignored in the Syrian conflict, and it is our shared duty to uphold international standards of humanity. This is a prerequisite to ending the unrelenting suffering of the people of Syria.’

WHO SUPPORTS WHO IN THE BATTLE FOR SYRIA?

PRO ASSAD

Russia – Gives military support, condemns the US airstrikes and suspends deal not to clash mid-air

Iran – Close strategic allies with Syria and has provided significant support including $8.69billion

North Korea – UN probe found that North Korea was supplying arms to Syria

Iraq – The Iraqi Government provided financial support and transported supplies

Algeria – Rumours suggest Algerian military aircraft is regularly landing in Syria

Venezuela – The South American country has shipped tens of millions of dollars worth of diesel to Syria

Lebanon – Police arrested family after they protested about the Syrian Government

Belarus – President Alexander Lukashenko supported Moscow’s involvement and offered air strike

Lebanese Hezbollah Party – Involvement has been substantial and has deployed troops since 2012

ANTI ASSAD

US – President Donald Trump launched first airstrikes since six-year civil war started

UK – Supports US cruise airstrikes as Theresa May said chemical attack was ‘despicable’

France/Germany – Both of the countries today said Assad bears ‘sole responsibility’ for US strike

Turkey – Opposed to Assad but objects to Syrian rebels and wants control of Kurdish area

Canada – Canada gave more than $4.97million to the Syrian opposition in 2013

Saudi Arabia – The Middle East country is the main group to finance the rebels and has provided a large amount of weapons

Israel – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was the first to praise the US’s retaliatory attack, saying he ‘fully supports’ Donald Trump’s decision to launch the cruise missile attacks

Qatar– It was reported Qatar gave the Syrian rebels $2.98 billion at the start of the civil war in 2011

The US was also branded ‘a partner of ISIS’ by al-Assad’s spokesman, calling the missile strikes ‘reckless and irresponsible.’

He also accused Trump of ‘naively falling’ for a ‘false propaganda campaign’ about the Idlib Sarin massacre.

A Pentagon official told DailyMail.com that the president ‘is dead-set against letting Assad labor under the illusion that the Syrian army can murder innocent people with impunity.’

A Syrian military source also claimed on Friday that Syria had already ‘learned of the American threat’ and that precautions were taken – but it did not say how they found out, or from whom.

‘We took precautions in more than one military point, including in the Shayrat airbase. We moved a number of airplanes towards other areas,’ the official said, adding they were forewarned ‘hours’ before the strike.

Those claims were belied by photographs and video that emerged Friday showing burned out planes underneath the targeted shelters.

Some planes – several of which had apparently been left out in the open air, at least two of which were still in shelters – were undamaged but on the base.

America had used a special military-to-military hotline to warn Russia about the airstrike around 30 minutes in advance – but the Trump administration did not ask Moscow for permission.

It is likely Russia alerted the Syrians about the incoming strikes but this has not been confirmed.

Russian warship the Admiral Grigorovich (pictured on recent deployment) - armed with cruise missiles and a self-defense system - was sent from the Black Sea to Syria today following the airstrike on al-Shayrat military airfield

Russian warship the Admiral Grigorovich (pictured on recent deployment) – armed with cruise missiles and a self-defense system – was sent from the Black Sea to Syria today following the airstrike on al-Shayrat military airfield

Block: Vladimir Putin ordered the Admiral Grigorovich will pass through the east Mediterranean waters where the USS Ross and USS Porter fired the 59 Tomahawk missiles that pounded Assad's al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs in the early hours of Friday

Block: Vladimir Putin ordered the Admiral Grigorovich will pass through the east Mediterranean waters where the USS Ross and USS Porter fired the 59 Tomahawk missiles that pounded Assad’s al-Shayrat military airfield near Homs in the early hours of Friday

In a joint statement on Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said, ‘President Assad bears sole responsibility for this development.

Hollande added that the US strike was what France had been calling for in the wake of another chemical attack in 2013.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, speaking alongside German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, added that they hoped this would not spiral into further conflict.

‘We do not want an escalation,’ Ayrault said. ‘We have to stop the hypocrisy. If Russia is acting in good faith it should stop and negotiate.’

Britain also stood staunchly behind its long-time ally and what it called an ‘appropriate response.’

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said: ‘The UK Government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.’

EU President Donald Tusk said in a tweet that ‘US strikes show needed resolve against barbaric chemical attacks. EU will work with the US to end brutality in Syria.’

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that ‘in both word and action’ Trump ‘sent a strong and clear message’ that ‘the use and spread of chemical weapons will not be tolerated.’

Bolivia called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council (pictured) in New York to discuss Trump's attack on Syria on Friday afternoon. The Bolivian Ambassador denounced the US as acting like 'investigator, attorney, judge and executioner'

Bolivia called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council (pictured) in New York to discuss Trump’s attack on Syria on Friday afternoon. The Bolivian Ambassador denounced the US as acting like ‘investigator, attorney, judge and executioner’

Defended: The UK defended its long-time ally, with British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft defending Trump's attack as 'an appropriate response to such a heinous crime, a war crime'

Defended: The UK defended its long-time ally, with British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft defending Trump’s attack as ‘an appropriate response to such a heinous crime, a war crime’

Predictably, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was less enthused.

He took to Twitter on Friday to denounce the strikes, saying: ‘Not even two decades after 9/11, US military fighting on same side as al-Qaeda & ISIS in Yemen & Syria. Time to stop hype and cover-ups.’

And Iranian news agency ISNA quoted foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi as saying: ‘Such measures will strengthen terrorists in Syria… and will complicate the situation in Syria and the region.’

Iran is a long-time supporter of the Assad regieme.

There has also been debate at home, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle complained that the Commander in Chief had authorized military action without consulting Congress.

‘The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate,’ said Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Libertarians such as Representative Justin Amash, a House Freedom Caucus member, want to stick tightly to the Constitution, which he argued on Twitter had been violated by Trump’s actions.

‘Airstrikes are an act of war’ he wrote. ‘Atrocities in Syria cannot justify departure from Constitution, which vests in Congress power to commence war.’

He continued: ‘Framers of Constitution divided war powers to prevent abuse,’ he wrote. ‘Congress to declare war; President to conduct war and repel sudden attacks.’

Nancy Pelosi, the House’s top-ranking Democrat, begged House Speaker Paul Ryan in a letter Friday morning to call back House members to DC as they begin their two-week Passover and Easter recess.

‘The President’s action and any response demands that we immediately do our duty. Congress must live up to its Constitutional responsibility to debate an Authorization of the Use of Military Force against a sovereign nation,’ Pelosi said.

All eyes will be on Tillerson next week when he becomes the first Trump Cabinet member to visit Russia. Tillerson may get an audience with Putin himself.

Despite the breakdown over Syria, where Russia has a significant military presence, U.S. officials insisted Tillerson’s highly anticipated trip was still on.

For Tillerson, the trip is even more delicate than before: He must find a way to show the U.S. can stand up to Russia and safeguard elements of cooperation at the same time.

He must also be prepared to deal with the notoriously unpredictable Putin, known for making guests feel uncomfortable when he wants to express displeasure.

‘Let him come and tell us what they have been up to today,’ Maria Zakharova, the Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, told Russian television. ‘We will tell them everything that we think on this score.’

If Putin is looking for a way to even the score, it might not be in Syria, said Julianne Smith, a former National Security Council and Defense Department official now at the Center for a New American Security. Faced with challenges to his country’s dignity, she said, Putin always thinks in ‘asymmetric terms’.

‘We should be watching eastern Ukraine, we should be watching for a cyberattack, another drip-drip-drip of WikiLeaks,’ she said. ‘There’s all sorts of things they can do.’

TIMELINE OF THE SYRIA CIVIL WAR AND US RESPONSE

The US attack on a Syrian air base came after years of heated debate and deliberation in Washington over intervention in the bloody civil war.

Chemical weapons have killed hundreds of people since the start of the conflict, with the U.N. blaming three attacks on the Syrian government and a fourth on ISIS. One of the worst yet came Tuesday in rebel-held northern Idlib and killed dozens, including women and children.

That attack prompted President Donald Trump, on day 77 of his presidency, to dramatically shift U.S. policy, with the first direct U.S. attack on the Syrian government.

Trump blamed Syrian President Bashar Assad for the attack and called on the international community to join him in trying to end the bloodshed.

A timeline of events in Syria leading up to Tuesday’s attack:

March 2011: Protests erupt in the city of Daraa over security forces’ detention of a group of boys accused of painting anti-government graffiti on the walls of their school. On March 15, a protest is held in Damascus’ Old City. On March 18, security forces open fire on a protest in Daraa, killing four people in what activists regard as the first deaths of the uprising. Demonstrations spread, as does the crackdown by President Bashar Assad’s forces.

April 2011: Security forces raid a sit-in in Syria’s third-largest city, Homs, where thousands of people tried to create the mood of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the epicenter of protests against Egypt’s autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Aug. 18, 2011: President Barack Obama calls on Assad to resign and orders Syrian government assets frozen.

Summer 2012: Fighting spreads to Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its former commercial capital.

August 20, 2012: Obama says the use of chemical weapons would be a ‘red line’ that would change his calculus on intervening in the civil war and have ‘enormous consequences.’

March 19, 2013: The Syrian government and opposition trade accusations over a gas attack that killed some 26 people, including more than a dozen government soldiers, in the town of Khan al-Assal in northern Syria. A U.N. investigation later finds that sarin nerve gas was used, but does not identify a culprit.

August 21, 2013: Hundreds of people suffocate in rebel-held suburbs of the Syrian capital, with many suffering from convulsions, pinpoint pupils, and foaming at the mouth. U.N. investigators visit the sites and determine that ground-to-ground missiles loaded with sarin were fired on civilian areas while residents slept. The U.S. and others blame the Syrian government, the only party to the conflict known to have sarin gas.

Aug. 31, 2013: Obama says he will go to Congress for authorization to carry out punitive strikes against the Syrian government, but appears to lack the necessary support in the legislature.

Sept. 27, 2013: The U.N. Security Council orders Syria to account for and destroy its chemical weapons stockpile, following a surprise agreement between Washington and Moscow, averting U.S. strikes. The Security Council threatens to authorize the use of force in the event of non-compliance.

Oct. 14, 2013: Syria becomes a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, prohibiting it from producing, stockpiling or using chemical weapons.

June 23, 2014: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons says it has removed the last of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons. Syrian opposition officials maintain that the government’s stocks were not fully accounted for, and that it retained supplies.

Sept. 23, 2014: The U.S. launches airstrikes on Islamic State group targets in Syria.

Aug. 7, 2015: The U.N. Security Council authorizes the OPCW and U.N. investigators to probe reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, as reports circulate of repeated chlorine gas attacks by government forces against civilians in opposition-held areas. Chlorine gas, though not as toxic as nerve agents, can be classified as a chemical weapon depending on its use.

Aug. 24, 2016: The joint OPCW-U.N. panel determines the Syrian government twice used helicopters to deploy chlorine gas against its opponents, in civilian areas in the northern Idlib province. A later report holds the government responsible for a third attack. The attacks occurred in 2014 and 2015. The panel also finds that the Islamic State group used mustard gas.

Feb. 28, 2017: Russia, a stalwart ally of the Syrian government, and China veto a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing sanctions against the Syrian government for chemical weapons use.

April 4, 2017: At least 58 people are killed in what doctors say could be a nerve gas attack on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in the rebel-held Idlib province. Victims show signs of suffocation, convulsions, foaming at the mouth and pupil constriction. Witnesses say the attack was carried out by either Russian or Syrian Sukhoi jets. Moscow and Damascus deny responsibility.

April 4, 2017: President Donald Trump issues a statement saying that the ‘heinous’ actions of Assad’s government are the direct result of Obama administration’s ‘weakness and irresolution.’

April 5, 2017: Trump says Assad’s government has ‘crossed a lot of lines’ with the suspected chemical attack in Syria.

April 6, 2017: The U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week’s gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians, U.S. officials said. It was the first direct American assault on the Syrian government and Trump’s most dramatic military order since becoming president. Trump said strike on Syria in the ‘vital national security interest’ of the United States.

 

Soros the Power Behind Jared Kushner’s Throne

George Soros is the secret financier behind Kushner-backed startup Cadre

 

 

Investor’s family fund issued $250M credit line: sources

 

From left: George Soros, Jared, and Joshua Kushner (Credit: Getty Images)

George Soros’ Soros Fund Management has quietly been financing the Kushner-backed real estate finance startup Cadre with a substantial credit line, according to sources familiar with the matter.

A source familiar with the financing arrangement told The Real Deal that “Soros has had a long and productive relationship with the Kushner family.” Another source told TRD that Kushner Companies TRData LogoTINY president Laurent Morali played a key role arranging the financing, but a Kushner Companies spokesperson disputed that account, claiming that “Kushner Cos. has never been involved in Cadre in any capacity

Business Insider first reported the existence of $250 million credit line in June, but didn’t mention its source.

Cadre, founded by brothers Jared and Joshua Kushner and Blackstone alum Ryan Williams in early 2015, is an online investment platform that connects institutions with real estate deals in major markets like New York.  Cadre generally invests in deals using the credit line before making them available to investors online.

It’s unclear what Cadre’s current valuation is. According to Pitchbook, which tracks venture funding, Cadre was valued at $99.9 million following its $18.3 million Series A round in late 2015. In January of last year, the company raised $50 million in a Series B funding round, bringing the total investment in the firm to more than $68 million. But it’s since been reincorporated as a Delaware-based entity, RealCadre LLC. It’s also unclear what deals they’ve sourced since being funded in 2015. Williams declined to name any deals the firm closed when TRD spoke to him in July, saying only that Cadre had closed over $200 million in deals in the first half of 2016.

Jared Kushner recently joined the White House as an adviser to his father-in-law Donald Trump.  Politico reported that he plans to sell his stakes in 35 companies to avoid conflicts of interest.

The irony of the Soros-Kushner connection is that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which Jared Kushner helped orchestrate, vilified George Soros. A November campaign video showed Soros’ face while Trump’s voice sounded off on “global special interests” who “don’t have your good in mind.”  The video was criticized by many for playing on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories targeting Soros, a wealthy former hedge fund manager who has long backed liberal causes around the globe.

Soros vocally opposes Trump. “I have described him as an impostor and a con man and a would-be dictator,” Soros told Bloomberg last week. “But he’s only a would-be dictator because I’m confident that the Constitution and the institutions of the United States are strong enough.” He donated $10.5 million to Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Center for Responsive Politics data cited by CNBC.

US Govt. Authorizes 17-Year Contract For Huge Super-Secret Drone Project Near Death Valley

U.S. Air Force Is Planning Something Big in the Nevada Desert

Unusually worded, multi-billion dollar drone services contract possibly points to a new, shadowy unmanned aircraft—and a lot of them.

By Joseph Trevithick

Google Earth

In June 2016, The War Zone’s own Tyler Rogoway wrote an extensive and thought-provoking analysis of why the U.S. Air Force either had yet to show off a fleet of advanced, combat-capable unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV), or didn’t have any at all. It’s a long but worthwhile read, especially since the service has just announced a massive and shadowy drone-related contract for work out in the Nevada desert.

On April 6, 2017, as part of the Pentagon’s daily announcement of any contract awards worth over $7 million, the Air Force revealed a deal with URS Federal Services, Inc. for nearly two decades of work regarding unmanned aircraft. The official details are unusual, so feel free to read them yourself:

URS Federal Services, Inc., Germantown, Maryland, has been awarded an estimated $3,600,000,000 indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract with award fee and award term portions for remotely piloted aircraft services. Contractor will provide testing, tactics development, advanced training, Joint and Air Force urgent operational need missions. Work will be performed at Nevada Test and Training Range, Nevada; Creech Air Force Base, Nevada; and Tonopah Test Range Airfield, Nevada, and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2034. This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with four offers received. Fiscal 2017 operations and maintenance funds in the amount of $2,875,894 are being obligated at the time of award. Air Force Test Center, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, is the contracting activity. (FA8240-17-D-4651).

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s start right at the top. This contract with URS Federal Services is worth $3.6 billion, but the program, whatever it is, isn’t expected to end until the spring of 2034. That’s 17 years for those keeping score. The math works out to more than $210 million per year, on average, over that period or $17.5 million every month.

That’s a big price tag for services. In 2013, the RAND Corporation estimated that it cost $435 million a year for the Air Force’s 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to operate three squadrons of F-16C/D Vipers. This calculation included everything associated with flying the fighter jets, such as pay checks for military personnel and supporting contractors, fuel, depot-level repairs, as well as indirect support from the Wing’s other elements, including security forces guarding the flight line, civil engineers maintaining facilities, and basic utilities and supplies, such as electricity in the barracks and food in the chow halls. A similar analysis of the 187th Fighter Wing, a unit in the Alabama Air National Guard with just one squadron of Vipers, produced a final price tag of just $63.6 million.

Boeing

In short, the URS Federal Services’ contract could potentially cover the full costs of running multiple squadrons of pilotless planes for nearly two decades. And remember that this deal likely only pays for just a portion of the total cost of this project. So, while we don’t know what unmanned aircraft—singular or plural—the Maryland-based company will be helping test, the money involved here suggests there are quite a few of them. Of course, none of this is surprising. The Air Force and defense contractors both repeated hint at the existence of multiple top secret “black” military air and space projects.

“We’re modernizing the Air Force, so you’ll see in the future new aircraft here on the ramps,” then Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said during a visit to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada in September 2016. “Then there are other things you also won’t see, because we like to have some surprises, also, for potential adversaries.”

These comments were squarely in line with the Pentagon’s much-touted Third Offset Strategy, a high-technology master plan to push development of revolutionary weapons and associated systems to counter rapidly modernizing near peers. On top of that, the idea has been to produce solutions to future threats that don’t necessarily require a lot of manpower or developmental funding.

Finlay McWalter/Wikimedia

A map of Nellis Air Force Base and its associated ranges, with Tonopah marked near the northwest corner.

But that 2016 trip to Nellis that seems especially relevant to this new arrangement with URS Federal Services. See, all of the sites mentioned in the contract announcement fall within or along the border of the base’s extended boundaries. The first of these, the Nevada Test and Training Range (NTTR), is a massive 4,500 square mile practice space with 5,000 square miles of restricted airspace for military exercise. The area hosts the Air Force’s biggest annual mock combat events, including Red Flag. Inside the zone, fighters and attack aircraft can fire missiles, drop bombs, fly mock dogfights, and tackle surface-to-air missile threats among various other scenarios. Creech Air Force Base, the Air Force’s central hub for Predator, Reaper, and Sentinel operations, sits along the southern reaches of the NTTR, which is collocated with the National Test Site.

And then there’s the matter of Tonopah Test Range and its associated airport. Regular readers of The War Zone are surely familiar with the Nevada test site’s history. Air Combat Command, the Air Force’s top warfighting command, owns the complex, but Sandia National Laboratory—which has the primary job of designing parts for nuclear weapons—technically administers the site. This obtuse arrangement and remote location make it a perfect place to test whole squadrons of shadowy aircraft and it has done so marvelously in the past.

From 1984 until 1992, the base hosted the Air Force’s first operational stealth jets, Lockheed’s F-117.  Officially, the 4450th Tactical Group was situated at Nellis. The cover story was that the unit was flying A-7D Corsair II attack planes to test new tactics and equipment – sound familiar?

USAF

An F-117 stealth jet.

In 2008, the Air Force officially retired the F-117s for good. However, the service kept a number of aircraft in so-called “Type 1000” storage at Tonopah, meaning crews had to keep them just serviceable enough to return to action in a relatively short period of time. For years afterward, there were numerous reports, along with photos and videos, indicating that at least a few of the jets were still actively flying, possibly for experimental purposes.

As the stealth jets moved into storage, Tonopah became home to Lockheed’s secretive RQ-170 Sentinel. The 30th Reconnaissance Squadron had at approximately 20 of the bat-wing unmanned spy planes sitting at the desert airport until 2011. Then it moved to the Air Force’s main drone hub at Creech Air Force Base and set up a separate detachment at Vandenberg Air Force Base in neighboring California.

USAF

432d Operations Group, 432nd Wing organization as of 2011.

It is very possible that some sort of Sentinel operations still occur at Tonopah as well, but clearly it is the USAF’s chosen home for secretive aircraft that have moved from the developmental stages to an early operational one. Eventually, once the programs are declassified, the programs move to a more convenient home. In the F-117’s case, that was Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. For the RQ-170, it’s Creech and Vandenberg.

Who’s running the program URS Federal Services will be supporting isn’t entirely clear, either. The Pentagon press release points to a confusing collection of units and bases. It says the Air Force Test Center (AFTC) awarded the contract, but adds that the specific contracting office was at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. AFTC’s headquarters is at Edwards Air Force Base in California and its website doesn’t mention a detachment at Hill, but it does has a strong connection to secretive aircraft projects and a long-standing relationship with Lockheed’s famous Skunk Works design group.

USAF

A picture of an RQ-170, another previously “black” aircraft, on Guam, which the author first obtained via the Freedom of Information Act.

Since the April 2017 contract announcement specifically cites “joint” requirements, other services or the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) could be involved in the project. In its budget request for the 2016 fiscal year, SOCOM asked for approximately $20 million for a hangar at a classified location somewhere in the contiguous United States, which would be large enough to conceal multiple drones. Based on the type of facilities the line items described, the Air Force Special Operations Command seemed to want the structure for an unspecified test project.

John Pike, director of the defense and security information website GlobalSecurity.org, agreed at the time that Tonopah was one possible location for the new, 36,000 square feet building. In addition, this budget proposal for the classified hangar came after work had already started on another massive hangar at the secretive Groom Lake test site, better known as Area 51, suggesting the two buildings were separate projects.

It may turn out that the Air Force moved the bulk of the RQ-170s out of Tonopah to make room for another top secret, joint drone program. We have seen official details and other hints about various secretive Air Force aircraft projects since the Sentinels came into the light.

In December 2013, veteran Aviation Week reporters Bill Sweetman and Amy Butler reported the existence of another flying-wing stealth drone, dubbed the RQ-180. Six months later, Air Force Lieutenant General Robert Otto, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, made the unprecedented move to acknowledge the program publicly during a speech sponsored by the Air Force Association’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. It took the service three years to cop to the existence of the Sentinel on the record.

USAF

In 2014, mysterious triangular planes appeared over Texas and Kansas. The next year, an Air Force report War Is Boring first obtained via the Freedom of Information Act suggested a still-unknown spy plane had already flown missions over the Pacific region two years earlier. You can read the relevant except above.

Still, the details we know of URS Federal Services’ contract point to work on an entire operational concept based around something more like a more numerous UCAV fleet than a handful of “silver bullet” pilotless spy aircraft and suggests that these aircraft already exist. There’s no indication of weapon system research and development or procurement money involved in this “services” contract. The Air Force pulled almost $3 million out of a so-called “operations and maintenance” account (funds services generally set aside for things like payroll) to get URS Federal Services quickly off to work.

Publicly, the Air Force has stutter-started and then canceled a number of such projects since the late 1990s as Rogoway’s piece details. Before dropping out in 2006, the Air Force had tested experimental armed unmanned aerial vehicles in partnership with the U.S. Navy under the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) program. Six years later, the Air Force curiously shuttered another next-generation unmanned aircraft project, which it referred to as MQ-X, ostensibly aimed at producing a pilotless attacker. In the meantime, in response to Navy requirements, Northrop Grumman has built the revolutionary X-47B and proposed an improved X-47C variant, Boeing has flown a derivative of the X-45C—the last of the J-UCAS aircraft—called Phantom Ray, and Lockheed has shown artwork of an enlarged RQ-170 it calls Sea Ghost.

USAF

An X-45A shows opens its bomb bay door during the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems program of the mid 2000s. The UCAV concept was proven to be extremely promising, then it just mysteriously disappeared. Today the USAF operates as if the technology does not exist.

All of this would seem to offer more hints of a “pocket UCAV force” like the one Rogoway posited in his earlier analysis.

“You have to imagine that if there has been such an amazing outburst of programmatic creativity in the unclassified world, that there would have been at least as much friskiness on the classified side of the house,” Pike told me back in 2015, referring to years with a nearly endless stream of public drone prototypes and concepts.

While there are just too many unknowns to be sure, given the history of the locations, the money involved, the time frame, and what we already know about separate developments, this contract suggests the Air Force is up to something big out in Nevada. We’ve already put in a Freedom of Information Act Request for documents related to the contract and we’ll be sure to follow up with any new details as we become aware of them.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

Syrian Nun, Honored By Trump, Defends Assad–“I like our president. He’s very close to us.”

Syrian nun honored by US says Assad is ‘not a dictator’

 

Syrian nun honored by US says Assad is ‘not a dictator’

First Lady Melania Trump poses for a photo with 2017 International Women of Courage Awardee Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh of Syria during a ceremony at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on March 29, 2017. (Credit: State Department photo/ Public Domain.)

Salesian Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh, from Syria, told reporters she doubts Syrian president ordered a chemical attack against civilians, and called the decision from the Trump administration to bomb an air base a “step back from peace.” On March 29 she received the International Woman of Courage Award from first lady Melania Trump.

Sister Carolin Tahhan Fachakh of the Salesian Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, who runs a nursery school in Damascus, Syria, told reporters Tuesday that she “likes” the Syrian strongman, and that he’s been very helpful and protective of Christians in the country.

Tahhan received the “International Woman of Courage Award” from the first lady Melania Trump on March 29 in Washington. She was nominated to receive it by the U.S. embassy to the Vatican, and spoke at an event sponsored by the embassy on Tuesday.

Tahhan also said he believes there’s no truth to the reports that it was al-Assad who used Sarin gas to target a civilian population last week, an allegation which prompted the Trump administration to bomb a military base in Syria.

The 13 winners of the award had been decided under the Obama administration, but held up until Rex Tillerson, current Secretary of State, approved them.

Tahhan described Trump’s decision to bomb the Shayrat Air Base, the alleged source of the chemical attack, as “a step back from peace.”

“Every time we say there is hope for peace, let’s move forward, something happens to set us back. The situation is ugly now,” Tahhan said, referring to Trump’s decision to bomb government military installations.

Yet she still harbors hope for peace, because at one point or the other, “everything ends.”

RELATED: Syrian bishops, other Catholic leaders protest U.S. missile strike

Tahhan also said that she doubts al-Assad launched the chemical weapon attack in April because he knew the eyes of the world were on him and Syria, and that the threat of the U.S. or another country bombing as a response was real.

The sister regretted the fact that Syrian children are being raised in a “culture of war,” capable of distinguishing from their sound the difference between a cannon shot or a missile.

She told the following story: “One morning [at school], I felt a buff. And I asked a teacher, ‘What is that?’ A four-year-old boy told me it was a cannon. I asked him, ‘how do you know it’s a cannon and not a missile?’ And he said: ‘Because, sister, when the missile is fired, it does ssss buff, while the cannon does buff.’”

Tahhan felt bad that morning, because this, she said, is the culture in which children in Syria are coming of age.

“What do we do in the future? How do we take this violence out of the heart of our children?”

The religious woman also said that children in Syria have all been “damaged by the war, they are afraid,” with some of them no longer speaking.

For this matter, together with other Franciscan sisters who run the school, they try to offer them a climate of peace and serenity, “where every child who is in need can play in the big courtyard and study.”

Asked about the international perception of al-Assad being a “monster” or a dictator, she responded: “I like our president. He’s very close to us, as is the first lady. They’re very close to the Church. Speak easily, call him a dictator, but to me, he’s not. We’re at ease.”

Regarding a possibility of Syria achieving peace without the president, as the G7 seems committed to doing, Tahhan said she didn’t know what that “would look like.”

The group, which includes the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan and Canada, met on Tuesday with its allies in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey, to try to isolate al-Assad, and agree on sanctions to his biggest supporter, Russia.

Tahhan’s position is in line with that of other Christian leaders in the region. None of them would say he’s an angel, but most prefer al-Assad to the alternatives, one of which would be ISIS.

“If we have to choose between ISIS and Assad, we choose Assad,” said Greek Catholic Melkite Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo. “It seems sometimes all the countries of the world are against Assad, but we feel we don’t have any other alternative. Honest to God, this is the situation.

“I’ve met Assad a couple of times and all my colleagues, my fellow bishops and the priests and nuns, appreciate him,” Jeanbart said, talking to Crux in 2015. “But that doesn’t mean he’s an angel.”

RELATED: Are Francis and Trump now at odds over Syria too?

Tahhan is not only defiant of the portrait of al-Assad given in the West. She also challenges the perception that Muslims and Christians cannot coexist peacefully in Syria, saying that to this day, six years into the war, most still get along.

The problem, she said, is terrorism, not Islam.

Beyond the school for children, the Salesians in Baghdad also run a school to train women in sewing and tailoring. In the past 7 years, more than 500 woman have attended class.

“The majority are Muslims. If I said we would only choose Christians, then I would become a fanatic myself,” Tahhan said.

“When a missile falls or there’s an explosion,” she continued, “many Muslims knock on our door and ask, ‘Sister, are you OK? Do you need anything?’”

Furthermore, Tahhan said at different point in the conversation, children see no difference between the two communities: “But they do feel the war, without a doubt.”

In recent years, many Christian leaders have raised their voices in warning, saying that if the war in Syria and Iraq continues, with extremist organizations such as ISIS continuously threatening the minority populations committing genocide, the presence of Christians in the Middle East is at risk.

Yet Tahhan is more hopeful: “The Church is working to preserve Christians. While the Church continues to exist, Christians will continue to have a presence.”

Trump’s Syria Attack Trampled Many Laws

Trump’s Syria Attack Trampled Many Laws

 

 

Exclusive: As the U.S. mainstream media hails President Trump’s missile strike on Syria, there has been almost no attention to either the truth about its justification or the myriad of laws violated in its execution, writes Marjorie Cohn.

By Marjorie Cohn

With 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, each armed with over 1,000 pounds of explosives, Donald Trump went from scoundrel-in-chief to national hero, virtually overnight. The corporate media, the neoconservatives and most of Congress hailed Trump as strong and presidential for lobbing bombs into Syria, reportedly killing seven civilians and wounding nine.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meets with members of the coalition at a forward operating base near Qayyarah West, Iraq, April 4, 2017. (DoD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Dominique A. Pineiro)

“The instant elevation of Trump into a serious and respected war leader was palpable,” wrote Glenn Greenwald. This sends Trump a frightening message: bombing makes you popular.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. The use of chemical weapons is illegal, immoral and intolerable. If it was an intentional attack, it constitutes a war crime. Anyone responsible for the horrific April 4 events in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed over 80 people, including at least 20 women and 30 children, should be brought to justice. But Trump’s bombing of Syria, a sovereign nation, was illegal, under both U.S. and international law.

Trump and the prevailing U.S. national discourse rushed to judgment about who was responsible for the chemical attack – the Syrian government. An investigation by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the implementing body for the Chemical Weapons Convention, was ongoing when Trump launched his missiles into Syria two days after the incident. The OPCW’s Fact-Finding Mission was already “in the process of gathering and analysing information from all available sources.”

As former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter pointed out, “chemical attacks had been occurring inside Syria on a regular basis . . . with some being attributed to the Syrian government (something the Syrian government vehemently denies), and the majority being attributed to the anti-regime fighters, in particular those affiliated with Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate.”

The Assad government has denied responsibility for the Khan Sheikhoun chemical attack, and some U.S. experts are also skeptical of the Trump administration’s supposed certainty that the Syrian military was responsible.

Philip Giraldi, former CIA officer and director of the Council for the National Interest, stated on the Scott Horton show that “military and intelligence personnel” in the Middle East, who are “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, call the allegation that Assad or Russia carried out the attack a “sham.”

Giraldi said the intelligence confirms the Russian account, “which is that they [attacking aircraft] hit a warehouse where al-Qaeda rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties.” Moreover, Giraldi noted, “Assad had no motive for doing this.”

Journalist Robert Parry concurs: “Assad’s military had gained a decisive advantage over the rebels and he had just scored a major diplomatic victory with the Trump administration’s announcement that the U.S. was no longer seeking ‘regime change’ in Syria. The savvy Assad would know that a chemical weapon attack now would likely result in U.S. retaliation and jeopardize the gains that his military had achieved with Russian and Iranian help.”

Regardless of who is responsible for the Khan Sheikhoun chemical deaths, however, Trump’s response violated both U.S. and international law.

Trump’s Missile Attack Was Illegal

Two days after Trump’s bombing occurred, the President sent a letter to congressional leaders informing them of his attack on Syria. The War Powers Resolution, passed in the wake of the Vietnam War, requires that the President report to Congress within 60 days of initiating the use of military force.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter conducts strike operations while in the Mediterranean Sea, April 7, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ford Williams)

The resolution, however, allows the President to introduce U.S. Armed Forces into hostilities or imminent hostilities in only three situations: First, after Congress has declared war, which has not happened in this case; second, in “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces,” which has not occurred; third, when there is “specific statutory authorization,” which there is not.

The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) authorized the President to use force only against those groups and countries that had supported the 9/11 attacks. The bombing in Syria was not authorized by any other act of Congress. Thus, Trump’s missile attack violated the War Powers Resolution. 

Regarding international law, the United Nations Charter prohibits the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” There are only two exceptions: when conducted in self-defense after an armed attack, or with the approval of the Security Council.

Syria had not attacked the United States or any other country before Trump ordered the missile strike. “The use of chemical weapons within Syria is not an armed attack on the United States,” said Notre Dame law professor Mary Ellen O’Connell. And the Security Council had not approved Trump’s attack. It therefore violated the Charter. In fact, under the U.N. Charter, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would have a valid self-defense claim since the U.S. initiated an armed attack on Syria.

So, Trump committed an illegal act of aggression against Syria when he lobbed his missiles. According to U.N. General Assembly Resolution 3314, an “act of aggression” is the use of armed force by a state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of another state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Charter. As stated above, Trump’s attack constituted an unlawful use of force under the Charter.

Moreover, treaties the United States has ratified, including the Charter, are part of domestic U.S. law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. That means a violation of the Charter also violates U.S. law.

Marines fast-rope out of an SH-60 Seahawk during an exercise on the USS Bataan at sea, March 29, 2017. The Bataan is supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the 5th Fleet area of operation. (Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Brianna Gaudi)

In his report to Congress, Trump wrote that he directed the attack to avert “a worsening of the region’s current humanitarian crisis.” So-called “humanitarian intervention” is not a settled norm of international law. As stated above, to be lawful, military force can only be conducted in self-defense or with the blessing of the Security Council. Neither was present in this case.

Trump’s humanitarian claim also does not pass the straight face test, in light of his Muslim Ban excluding all Syrian refugees from entry into the United States (halted by the courts, for now). Since the conflict in Syria began in 2011, more than 400,000 Syrians have been killed. Five million people are refugees. If Trump were indeed motivated by humanitarian concerns, Trump would embrace those seeking to escape the carnage in Syria, which he has emphatically not done.

The 1980 Refugee Act grants the President authority to determine how many refugees may be admitted to the United States. The President must consider whether “the admission of certain refugees in response to the emergency refugee situation is justified by grave humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest.”

When, during the presidential campaign, Trump said he wanted to ban all Syrian refugees from entering the U.S., he was asked if he could then “look children aged five, eight, ten, in the face and tell them they can’t go to school here.” Without skipping a beat, Trump replied, “I can look in their faces and say, ‘You can’t come’. I’ll look them in the face.” Spoken like a true humanitarian.

Trump’s new-found humanitarian concerns, including his lament about the terrible fate of Khan Sheikhoun’s “small children and even beautiful little babies,” also stand in contrast to the horrific death toll from other U.S.-allied bombings in recent weeks. The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq and Syria killed nearly 1,000 non-combatants in March alone, “a record claim,” according to Airwars.org, a non-profit organization that monitors civilian casualties from airstrikes in the Middle East. “These reported casualty levels are comparable with some of the worst periods of Russian activity in Syria,” the group said.

The coalition forces’ use of white phosphorous, a chemical weapon that burns to the bone, has been documented in Mosul, Iraq. And the U.S. Central Command confirmed that it has used depleted uranium, arguably a war crime, against ISIS in Syria.

Encouraging Trump to Use Military Force

Trump is obsessed with being liked. So, smarting from the healthcare loss and attacked by the media, the GOP’s right-wing and Democrats, Trump turned the tables. Now that he’s become Bomber-in-Chief, Trump is liked by nearly everybody – or so it seems. And what lesson will he learn from his missile attack? That being a strong, forceful leader makes people like you. And blowing things up makes you a “strong, forceful leader.”

Marine Corps Cpl. Justin Morrall prepares for night stalking during Korea Marine Exercise Program 17-6 near Camp Mujuk, Pohang, South Korea, March 30, 2017. (Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Ally Beiswanger)

Members of the Trump administration are sending mixed signals about whether they seek to forcibly change the Assad regime in Syria. That would violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which the United States has also ratified.

During the U.N. Security Council meeting following Trump’s missile attack, the ambassador from Bolivia declared, “The United States has not only unilaterally attacked . . . [it] has become that investigator, has become the prosecutor, has become the judge, has become the jury. Whereas the investigation would have allowed us to establish in an objective manner who is responsible for the attacks, this is an extreme violation of international law.”

Trump’s missile attack also has put a dangerous strain on U.S. relations with nuclear-armed Russia, which supports the Assad regime in the conflict with various opposition groups, including Al Qaeda’s affiliate and its spinoff, Islamic State or ISIS.

Following the April 6 missile strike, Russia suspended a memorandum of understanding designed to minimize collisions between U.S. and Russian aircraft over Syrian airspace. A statement issued by Russia, Iran and Assad’s forces said, “What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well.”

With his missile attack, Trump has made the world a much more dangerous place. “Make no mistake,” Norman Solomon wrote. “With 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons at the ready in the United States and Russia, pushing to heighten tensions between the two countries is playing with thermonuclear fire.”

Where Will Trump Bomb Next?

Meanwhile, Trump is taking provocative measures against nuclear-armed North Korea, deploying an aircraft carrier and several warships to the Korean Peninsula. Trump’s show of force is a response to North Korea’s recent ballistic missile test.

The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson travels in the South China Sea, April 8, 2017. (Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Matt Brown)

The Trump administration has indicated it may use pre-emptive strikes to prevent North Korea from developing a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead to the United States. Pre-emptive strikes violate the U.N. Charter, which specifies several non-forceful measures, including diplomacy, to maintain or restore international peace and security. But diplomacy doesn’t seem to be in Trump’s toolkit.

North Korea warned of “catastrophic consequences of [the United States’] outrageous actions.” Pyongyang said, “We will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms.” A foreign ministry spokesman said North Korea “is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US.”

When Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared on ABC’s “This Week,” he cited the U.S. strike on Syria as a not-so-veiled warning to North Korea: “The message that any nation can take is if you violate international norms, if you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point, a response is likely to be undertaken.”

By logical extension, Trump’s missile attack on Syria makes the United States vulnerable to retaliation from other countries that see the U.S. violating international law and committing acts of aggression.

What can be done to stop the Trump administration’s illegal use of military force in Syria and its dangerous provocation of Russia and North Korea?

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink, suggests doing things that will be “positive for the Syrian people.” She advocates immediately lifting the ban on Syrian refugees, providing the U.N. with its requested $5 billion to deal with the humanitarian crisis, and demanding that the Trump administration work with Russia toward a ceasefire and a political solution.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, and a member of the advisory board of Veterans for Peace. Her most recent book is Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues. Visit her website at http://marjoriecohn.com/ and follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/marjoriecohn.

U.S. SecDef Claims Trump doesn’t intend to get drawn into Syrian war

U.S. doesn’t intend to get drawn into Syrian war, defense chief says

 

WASHINGTON — After attacking a Syrian air base in response to President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged battlefield use of chemical weapons, the Pentagon intends to refocus on defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, without getting more deeply involved in the country’s civil war, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday.

“The military campaign is focused on … breaking ISIS, defeating ISIS in Syria,” Mattis told reporters in his first Pentagon news conference as President Trump’s defense chief. Last week’s cruise missile assault on a Syrian air base “was a separate issue” meant to demonstrate that the Trump administration will not tolerate what it believes are violations of international conventions against the use of chemical weapons, Mattis said.

The Syrian government has denied that it used chemical arms in an attack on a Syrian town last week.

Army Gen. Joseph Votel, who spoke alongside Mattis, said the cruise missiles targeted 59 locations on the airfield and struck 57 of them. Votel is commander of U.S. Central Command, whose forces executed the cruise missile attack, which Votel said “severely degraded” Syria’s ability to use the airfield.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, left, and Gen. Joseph Votel, listen to questions during a news conference at the Pentagon, Tuesday, April 11, 2017. Mattis said the campaign against the Islamic State group is still the main focus of the U.S. in Syria and remains on track. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Mattis said that if Syria were to use chemical weapons again it would “pay a very, very stiff price.” He declined to say exactly what sort of Syrian violation would prompt a U.S. military response, but he stressed that the administration has no intention of getting drawn into Syria’s civil war.

Mattis said the cruise missiles were aimed at the perpetrators of the chemical attack.

“The reason for the strike was that alone,” he said. “It was not a harbinger of some change in our military campaign.”

When asked why military force is justified in response to the killing of Syrian civilians with chemical weapons, but not when they are attacked with conventional arms, Mattis said “there is a limit … to what we can do” to stop the civil war, whereas the chemical attack could not go unanswered.

“We knew that we could not stand passive on this,” he said. “But it was not a statement that we could enter full-fledged, full-bore into the most complex civil war probably raging on the planet at this time.”

The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes in Syria since September 2014 and more recently has enabled a makeshift Syrian Arab and Kurdish force to isolate the city of Raqqa, which is ISIS’ self-declared capital. Mattis said the administration’s new plan for defeating ISIS is “being fleshed out,” suggesting that it will not be ready for implementation anytime soon.

20 US tanks and armored vehicles Penetrate S. Syria, Saving Obama’s Boys From ISIS

DAMASCUS, SYRIA – ISIS launched a surprise offensive on the Tanf Border Crossing between Syria and Iraq following a powerful car bomb attack on the border outpost which killed three insurgents from the FSA’s Osoud al-Sharqiyah (Lions of the East).

US-backed Syrian rebels were quickly surrounded by a group of ISIS fighters who have prowessed desert warfare and maneuvers prompting US and Jordanian troops to intervene hurriedly to lift the pressure off their Syrian allies. Some 20 US tanks and armored vehicles were allegedly involved in repelling the ISIS assault.

Jordanian jets were seen by eye witnesses; though it remains unknown whether airstrikes were carried out. Whether this is a minor intervention limited to protecting FSA fighters allied to the US-led Coalition or a prelude to a much more expansive operation aimed at expelling the Islamic State terror group from the Syrian Badiyah (desert) is yet to be seen.

Notably, a US-led effort last year with the now-disintegrated New Syrian Army (NSA) to seize Al-Mayadeen faltered pathetically as ISIS captured dozens of fighters, armored vehicles, and US equipment following a swift counterattack.

The new US administration may be interested in renewing such efforts against ISIS as the weakened terrorist group collapses on several fronts across Syria and Iraq losing grip of Mosul and inching closer to fated doom in its self-proclaimed capital of Raqqa as the predominantly-Kurdish SDF lays siege to the city.

The dirty little secret about health care reform is that it’s impossible.

by Michael G. Roskin

The dirty little secret about health care reform is that it’s impossible. Yep, can’t be done. No insurance can support an extremely expensive medical system at low cost. If it costs a lot, users must pay a lot, either as individuals, through insurance (paid by individuals) or through taxes (ditto). “Reform” just shifts from one basket to another. The nation cannot avoid its aggregate medical costs nor push them back, any more than King Canute got the tide to recede.

Republicans have a point: Obamacare is wobbling. Premiums and deductibles are soaring, and insurers are withdrawing from some states. If unmodified, it could put itself out of business. Some Republicans suggest that as a strategy, but they will catch mass blame for deliberately running it into insolvency. Democrats will accuse Republicans of  “sabotaging” Obamacare by denying funding.

But people forget that pre-Obamacare, our health care system was also collapsing. Costs zoomed out of control. Many people had neither insurance nor established physicians so they overloaded emergency rooms but were unable to pay. Hospitals tottered under uncovered costs. Businesses groaned under company health costs.

Health care costs devour 17 (some say 18) percent of GDP, and bringing costs down with federal caps would enrage powerful medical, hospital and pharmaceutical interests, who would withdraw their services. Basically, federal programs consist of trying to pay for ever-rising medical costs; they keep feeding the beast. Cost hold-downs have slowed growth but not reversed it.

We are in a high-stakes poker game in which consumers must put in all their chips. Across the table, Big Medicine, Big Hospital, Big Insurance and Big Pharma just grin and say, “I’ll see you and raise you.” There’s no way you can keep up with the big guys; they’ll always raise you.

Trump promised to replace Obamacare with something “far less expensive and far better.” Impossible, and the measure just pulled from a House vote would have delivered nothing of the sort. Fewer would be covered, and premiums and deductibles would rise. Actually, Maine’s Sen. Susan Collins proposes a more interesting and flexible health care plan — if anyone is listening.

Many years ago, a University of Chicago economist suggested turning health care into a market by making its participants compete. Doctors would advertise their medical-school ranking, their patient death rate and their fees, so consumers could shop for care and prices that suited them. Well, it works for toaster ovens. The late Nobel economist Kenneth Arrow, however, found that medical care does not form a market because its components do not compete.

Republicans claim they can be induced to compete. Led by Rep. David Brat (R-Virginia), who opposed Ryancare, they would strip away federal mandates and payments and let a market function. But this takes no account of technological advances in medical care, each costlier than the one before, and an aging population, which consumes more health care. Can we limit treatments to the proven and cost-effective and meds to generics? Try that on the public.

Dental care — because it’s not as vital — may be a bit more competitive than medical care. Patients are more likely to shop among dentists and treatments than they are to shop physicians and procedures. I could say no to dental implants but not to an aortic valve replacement.

In the 1970s, when our three kids were little, we had only catastrophic coverage. But our small-town family doctor charged $6 a visit, later raised to $10, and we often just phoned in our child’s symptoms, and the nurse, who knew all the illnesses going around, phoned an inexpensive prescription to the pharmacy 100 yards from our house. That’s how they cured my walking pneumonia in 1977. Sigh, but we ain’t going back to that. Those prices had to rise and medical insurance skyrocketed, pushing individual practitioners into group practices.

Most advanced countries have better outcomes at lower costs, but they have very different cultural and legal histories, namely, they’re more obedient than Americans. Most European systems combine private and public insurance. Singapore holds down costs by encouraging shopping for best deals. Japan limits the costs of tests and treatments. Where that’s done in U.S. Medicare, many physicians chafe under it and avoid Medicare patients.

With Obamacare still in place, Republicans could copy Britain’s Tories’ return to power in the 1950s. They did not repeal the National Health Service passed by a Labour government in 1948. Instead, they boast that they administer it better than Labour, adding some co-pays and supplemental private insurance. Brits like the NHS, and Conservatives have governed most of the time since.

The failure to repeal Obamacare has actually boosted Medicaid. Many of the 19 states that refused to expand their Medicaid programs with federal funds from Obamacare — Gov. LePage vetoed expansion several times — are reconsidering: Since Obamacare stays, take the money. A November referendum will let Mainers decide. Medicaid’s growth over 62 years moves the U.S. closer to a single-payer system. Hey, Republicans, meet irony.

S. Korean Politicians Vow To Prevent Military US Collision w/North

Moon expresses misgivings about possible military action on peninsula

 

South Korea’s presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in on Monday expressed concerns over a possible US strike against North Korea, saying there should not be any military action on the Korean Peninsula without Seoul’s consent.

The presidential candidate of the liberal Democratic Party also vowed to stop any armed conflict from breaking out on the peninsula.

“The recent conditions surrounding the peninsula are unstable. North Korea’s provocation continues while surrounding countries are showing signs of trying to take advantage of the current vacancy in the office of the South Korean president and resolve issues related to the peninsula without South Korea,” Moon wrote on Facebook.

Moon’s remarks followed a recent summit between the US and Chinese leaders in which the two discussed ways to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons.

Moon Jae-in (C), the presidential candidate of the liberal Democratic Party, shakes hands with a female supporter while visiting Gwanghwamun Square, the venue of weekly candlelight vigils in downtown Seoul that helped propel the recent ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, on April 10, 2017. (Yonhap)

“If I am elected, I will visit the United States at the earliest date possible and discuss ways to fundamentally resolve the North Korean nuclear issue,” the leading presidential candidate said.

“I will prevent a war on the Korean Peninsula with everything I have. Under no circumstances can we allow the fate of the Korean Peninsula to be decided by other countries,” he added.

Before his bilateral summit with China’s Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump said all options, apparently including military strikes, were on the table in dealing with the communist North.

Moon insisted any military action must first be cleared by South Korea, noting the country and its people will suffer the most should an armed conflict ever take place.

“We must be the host in dealing with issues related to the Korean Peninsula. We must lead the efforts to solve problems related to the peninsula and our allies and neighboring countries, including the United States, should take on a role to support our leadership,” he said.

Moon, who is often said to be pro-North Korea, also warned Pyongyang against any future provocations, saying such a move will threaten its very existence.

“Immediately following a provocation, North Korea will not be able to ensure its existence,” Moon wrote.

He also lodged a complaint against Beijing’s apparent economic retaliation against Seoul for the latter’s ongoing deployment of a US missile defense system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, though he has repeatedly hinted at seeking to scrap the installation if elected.

“I strongly call on China. The decision on the THAAD deployment is a matter of South Korea’s sovereignty, and any economic retaliation against the deployment must immediately stop,” Moon said.

“I, Moon Jae-in, will be a president that (North Korean leader) Kim Jong-un fears the most, a president the United States trusts the most and one that China may believe in the most,” he said.

“Issues related to the Korean Peninsula are our problems, and are international issues at the same time, and so I will not neglect my duty to resolve such issues under close cooperation with our ally, the United States, and our important neighbors China, Japan and Russia.” (Yonhap)

Palm Sunday Terrorist Bomb Rips Through Christian Congregation In Egypt–25+ Dead

Death toll rises to 25, 71 injured in explosion at Coptic church in Egypt’s Tanta

 

 

 

As Egyptian Christians headed to churches across the country to celebrate Palm Sunday, a deadly blast at Tanta’s Mar Girgis Church killed and injured dozens

 

Tanta

Snapshot from state TV of parishoners at Mar Girgis after explosion

 

Ahram Online provides live updates on the deadly attack at the Mar Girgis Church in Tanta, Gharbiya which killed and injured dozens of Egyptian Copts on Sunday morning, as well as local and international reactions.

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12:35 The health ministry in Gharbiya says the death toll in the Tanta church attack has risen to 25, and puts the number of injured at 71.

 

11:55 Security forces have started to question eyewitnesses about the attack, while securing surveillance cameras in the area in order to view video footage, with a view to quickly identify the attackers, a security official told Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

 

11:40 Al-Azhar, the world’s highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning, strongly condemned the attack, calling it an “outrageous crime” against all Egyptians.

 

“This terrorist attack is devoid of all the principles of humanity and civilization,” the Islamic body said in a statement, adding that “the aim of this cowardly terrorist bombing is to destabilize the security and stability of our dear Egypt and the unity of the Egyptian people.”

 

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb stressed Al-Azhar’s solidarity with the Egyptian Church in the face of terrorism and his great confidence in the ability of the security forces to track down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

 

11:35 Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail is heading to the scene of the attack.

 

“Egypt is determined to eliminate these terrorist groups,” cabinet spokesman Ashraf Sultan told state-owned TV channel Nile Live.

 

11:33 Political forces and activists have made calls for donations of blood to help the victims of the ‎attack. Health ministry spokesperson Khaled Megahed told state-run TV that donations of blood are ‎welcome, with one blood bank in Tanta and another in Cairo accepting donations.‎

Tanta

Snapshot from state TV of ambulances and rescuers at site of explosion

‎11:21 The official Twitter account of Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman says: “Terrorism ‎hits Egypt again, this time on Palm Sunday. Another obnoxious but failed attempt against all ‎Egyptians #united_on_PalmSunday” ‎

‎11:15 Khaled Megahed, the spokesperson for the ministry of health, told state TV the number of killed ‎stands at 21 and 69 injured. Hospitals continue to receive the injured.‎

Tanta

11:00 The General Prosecutor orders the formation of a prosecution team in Tanta to inspect Mar ‎Girgis Church and conduct initial investigations, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.‎

‎10:53 Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi orders the opening of military hospitals to treat those ‎injured in the Tanta attack, according to Sky News Arabia.

‎10:48 The Ministry of Health says the death toll in the Tanta church explosion has risen to 21. ‎

‎10:42 The explosion occurred in the main prayer hall of the church, with an ‎explosive device planted under a seat, a security official told Al-Ahram Arabic ‎website. Sixteen ambulances were sent to the scene of the explosion, with ‎‎40 injured people transferred to hospital.‎

‎10:35 A security source told Egyptian state TV an explosive device was planted inside the church.‎

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An explosion ripped through the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the central Delta city of Tanta on Sunday morning as parishioners attended a Palm Sunday service, leaving dozens killed and many more injured.

 

Dozens were killed and injured in the blast, the Health Ministry said.

 

The explosive device was planted in the church before detonating, causing deaths and injuries, a security official told the state-run news agency MENA.

 

The explosion occurred as Christians across Egypt mark Palm Sunday at the start of Holy Week, which concludes with Easter Sunday on 16 April, during which Christians celebrate the Resurrection.

 

This is the second major deadly attack on a Coptic church in the past five months. On 11 December, 2016, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the St  Peter and St Paul Church in central Cairo during prayer services,  leaving 28 dead and more than 40 wounded. The Islamist State group claimed responsibility for that attack.