Aletho News


Iranian Axis Of Resistance Falls Victim To US-Israeli Covert Campaign

South Front | August 25, 2020

A large explosion rocked the Arab Gas Pipeline in Syria on August 24 causing a blackout in the country’s capital Damascus and multiple other cities and towns.

The explosion occurred between the towns of Ad Dumayr and Adra the a result of a ‘terrorist attack’, according to Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Ali Ghanem. The incident led to a pressure drop and cascading shutdowns of the country’s power stations. Authorities almost immediately extinguished the fire, but as of August 25 morning blackouts were still seen in many towns and even in the capital, with some power restored to hospitals and government buildings.

This is the sixth time that stretch of the gas pipeline has been hit by an explosion over the course of the Syrian conflict, Kharboutli added, refusing to speculate about possible causes of the latest blast. The US envoy for Syrian affairs James Jeffrey insisted that the explosion was likely an attack by ISIS.

Earlier, ISIS claimed responsibility for several drone and rocket attacks on Syria’s oil and gas infrastructure in the Homs desert. In April, a mysterious explosion also erupted on a natural gas pipeline near al-Shadadi in the province of al-Hasakah. This area is in the hands of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces and the US-led coalition. Then, some sources also accused ISIS cells operating in the area. However, there are many more than just one suspect.

In January, Damascus said divers had planted explosives on offshore pipelines belonging to the Banias refinery on the Mediterranean coast, but the damage had not halted operations. This attack was likely conducted by Israeli forces.

The terrorist attack in Syria took place two days after a top Iranian nuclear official has for the first time described the July 2nd fire at the Natanz nuclear facility as sabotage.

“The explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility was a result of sabotage operations,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said adding that “Security authorities will reveal in due time the reason behind the blast.”

The fire at Natanz caused severe damage, setting back the development of advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges. On top of this, Iran was targeted by a series of strange explosions and fires at various military and industrial sites across the country.

These developments together with the attacks in Syria and the blast in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, raise more and more concerns that Iran and countries from the Iranian-led Axis of Resistance became a target of a major Israeli-led or even US covert destabilization campaign.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Poisoning protest leader Navalny ‘would not benefit’ Moscow, says Russian Foreign Ministry, labels Western allegations ‘offensive’

RT | August 25, 2020

Moscow does not stand to benefit from the alleged poisoning of anti-corruption activist Alexey Navalny, the Russian Foreign Ministry has said, noting the haste with which Western media and governments made the insinuation.

The ministry issued a statement on Tuesday evening, following a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, during which the subject of Navalny was raised, among other issues.

Lavrov pointed out the “suspicious haste” with which the narrative about Navalny’s alleged poisoning was picked up in Washington and Brussels and instantly compared to the “poisonings” of Alexander Litvinenko and the Skripals – which were blamed on Moscow before any investigations happened.

“The question inevitably arises – who benefits from it? The Russian leadership clearly does not.”

The ministry added that accusations of a ‘cover-up’ made against the Russian doctors who first treated Navalny were untrue.

“We consider deeply offensive the accusations of ‘covering up the truth’, directed from some Western capitals to the doctors in Omsk, who immediately rendered highly professional aid” to Navalny, the ministry said.

“They gave the patient’s complete medical history to the team of German doctors,” the statement continued. “We hope that the German doctors will show the same professional approach and will not allow the results of their laboratory tests to be used for politicized purposes.”

Navalny fell ill during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow on Thursday, and was taken to a hospital in the Siberian city of Omsk, where his condition was stabilized. He was airlifted to Germany on Saturday for further treatment, at the request of his wife and associates.

On Monday, German doctors said Navalny was poisoned by a substance from the group of cholinesterase inhibitors, but were unable to say which. However, the Omsk hospital unit chief Dr. Alexander Sabayev told reporters the same day that the activist tested negative for any drugs, including cholinesterase inhibitors.

The European Union has already called for a “comprehensive investigation” of Navalny’s alleged poisoning. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo seconded that on Tuesday, saying that “Navalny’s family and the Russian people deserve to see a full and transparent investigation carried out, and for those involved to be held accountable.”

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters the German doctors were “rushing” to use the term poisoning, and that an investigation was premature.

“There must be a reason for an investigation. At the moment, all you and I see is that the patient is in a coma,” Peskov told reporters. He added that any suggestions Putin was involved in Navalny’s condition were “hot air” and the Kremlin would not take them seriously.

Meanwhile, the security committee of the Russian parliament has begun an investigation into whether foreign governments were involved in harming Navalny’s health “in order to create tension within Russia, as well as formulate new accusations against our country,” according to its Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Russophobia | Leave a comment

UNRWA calls for unimpeded passage into Gaza for vital goods

MEMO | August 25, 2020

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) called on Tuesday for all vital goods to be granted unimpeded passage into the besieged Gaza Strip, including fuel for electricity. UNRWA made the appeal against the background of 14 years of an illegal blockade and the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The agency in Gaza is extremely concerned about the closure of the lone power plant since last Tuesday, 18 August,” UNRWA said. “The closure of the plant has caused the power feed to decline to two or three hours per day, followed by 20 hours of interruption.”

This, explained UNRWA, will have a negative impact on the wellbeing and safety of the people of Gaza and devastating effects on the Strip’s vital services, including hospitals. “Thus, this puts at risk the lives and health of nearly two million people, including 1.4 million registered Palestine refugees.”

The official statement from the UN agency pointed out that, “Under international humanitarian law, the passage of all relief consignments, in this case fuel for electricity, should not be prevented.”

Commenting on the situation in the Gaza Strip, the Director of UNRWA Affairs in the Palestinian territory, Matthias Schmale, said that the call is being made to all concerned parties to maintain a supply of electricity that is sufficient to meet the basic needs of the civilian population. “UNRWA is, furthermore, concerned about other measures perceived as punitive to the civilian population, such as closing down the fishing zone, as well as the escalating tensions and military activities.”

Gaza, Schmale pointed out, has now been hit by air raids for more than ten nights in a row. “All parties must show utmost restraint and protect the civilian population with full respect for their dignity and human rights.”

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Pompeo Lands in Sudan to Push Normalization with Israel

Palestine Chronicle | August 25, 2020

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in Sudan on Tuesday on a tour urging more Arab countries to normalize ties with Israel, following the US-brokered Israel-UAE agreement.

Pompeo, the first American top diplomat to visit Sudan since 2005, arrived on a historic “first official non-stop flight” from Tel Aviv, he tweeted from the plane.

Israel remains technically at war and has no formal diplomatic relations with Sudan, which for years supported hardline Islamist forces under its former strongman Omar al-Bashir.

But its new transitional government has vowed to break with the Bashir era following his ouster last year amid popular pro-democracy protests.

Pompeo was to meet Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sovereign Council Chair General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan to discuss continued US support for the civilian-led transitional government “and express support for deepening the Sudan-Israel relationship”, the State Department said.

Sudan, which has launched sweeping social and political reforms, now hopes Washington will soon take it off its blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism as it seeks to fully re-integrate into the international community.

Closer ties with US ally Israel would help, and both sides have already taken a series of steps, muddied however by mixed messaging from Sudan.

The Pompeo visit comes as Sudan is in deep economic crisis — having suffered decades-long US sanctions and the 2011 secession of the country’s oil-rich south.

Grappling with high inflation and the coronavirus pandemic, the country badly needs to attract more foreign aid and investment.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment

US Benefits From Terrorist Efforts to Disrupt Syria’s Reconstruction, Russian MoD Says

By Ilya Tsukanov – Sputnik – 25.08.2020

The Russian military has repeatedly accused the Pentagon of training ‘former’ terrorist militants to continue the fight against Damascus at the at-Tanf base in southern Syria, and has cited intelligence reports on US forces’ evacuation of Daesh (ISIS) commanders from the country. Washington has strongly denied the allegations.

Terrorists operating in the vast desert area of central Syria continue to disrupt the region’s reconstruction, and the US is the primary beneficiary of this state of affairs, as it allows Washington to justify its continued illegal military deployment in the country’s northeast, a spokesman for the Russian military grouping in Syria announced in a briefing Tuesday.

“Through their actions, the terrorists disrupt the process of socio-economic reconstruction of Syria and the establishment of relations between local Arab tribes and Damscus. Such a situation primarily benefits the United States, and allows them to justify their presence in the country’s east,” the spokesman said.

Pointing to a recent uptick in terrorist activity in the Syrian Desert, a vast region accounting for about 55 percent of the Arab Republic’s total area, the spokesman said it could be attributed to an ‘amnesty’ program for former militants by Washington’s Kurdish allies.

“Over the past month, the Syrian Desert area has seen a significant increase in the activity of militants consisting of former Daesh terrorists. Most of these militants appeared in this area following the ‘amnesty’ conducted by so-called ‘Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria’,” the spokesman said.

The spokesman also pointed to efforts by the militants to commit acts of sabotage. Earlier this month, a Russian major general was killed after an improvised explosive device (IED) laid by militants went off, he recalled.

“By sabotaging transport communications and carrying out acts of sabotage against Syrian oil and gas industry facilities, by attacking patrols and the posts of Syrian Army units, militants are destabilizing the situation in the region. On August 18, an explosion of an IED planted by terrorists in Deir ez-Zor province killed senior Russian military advisor Maj. Gen. Vyacheslav Gladkikh,” the spokesman said.

Gladkikh was killed and two other servicemen were injured after the vehicles they were traveling in were hit by an IED near the At-Taim oil field, about 15 km outside the city of Deir ez-Zor.

Combined Russian-Syrian Operation to Clear Desert of Terrorists

The spokesman said that Russian forces and their Syrian allies conducted an operation to clear the Syrian Desert region of the terrorist remnants in a major operation conducted between August 18 and 24, and promised that the operation would continue until the complete destruction of all US-controlled armed groups in the area.

According to the official, the operation by Russian and Syrian air power, combined with artillery and work by reconnaisance and special operations forces, has led to the elimination of 327 militants, 134 of their hiding places, 17 observation posts, 7 warehouses and 5 underground weapons and ammunition storage facilities.

Russian Military’s Allegations of US Support for Terrorists

The Russian military and media have repeatedly accused the US of training as many as 1,200 former terrorist militants at the at-Tanf garisson in the southern Syrian province of Homs, with Moscow alleging that the US intended to use these fores to create a so-called ‘New Syrian Army’ to continue to destabilize the war-torn country after Daesh was defeated. The Pentagon has dismissed the allegations as “false and absurd.”

In 2018, Gen. Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, pointed to at-Tanf as being one of two staging areas for the continuation of an armed struggle against Damascus by the jihadists, with the other said to be located at Camp Shaddadi, under the control of US-allied Kurdish forces operating in the northeast.

In addition to these training facilities, the Russian, Syrian and Iranian militaries have accused the US anti-Daesh coalition of evacuating Daesh commanders and members of their families by helicopter. In March 2018, late Quds Force Commander Qasem Soleimani urged Iranian officials to ‘slap the West in the face’ with Iranian intelligence on alleged US cooperation with the terrorists, and to inform Washington that Tehran knows what the US is up to in Syria and Iraq. Soleimani, who assisted both Syrian and Iraqi forces in their battle against Daesh, was killed in a US drone strike in Baghdad in January 2020.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

UAE snubs three-way meeting with US, Israel over F-35 spat

Press TV – August 25, 2020

The Emirati envoy to the UN has reportedly snubbed a meeting with his Israeli and American counterparts after Tel Aviv spoke out against Abu Dhabi’s potential acquisition of American F-35 warplanes despite a normalization deal between the two sides.

The meeting had been scheduled for Friday at the UN headquarters in New York among Lana Nusseibeh, Gilad Ardan, and Kelly Kraft as a means of celebrating the August 13 deal that enabled “full normalization” of relations between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the occupying regime.

Israel’s Walla news site, however, reported on Monday that the Emirati official had opted out of the meeting a week after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he had opposed the sale of F-35s and other advanced weapons to any country in the Middle East, including Arab countries that have peace agreements with Israel.

Netanyahu also rejected earlier reports that he had given the green light to such sales to the UAE as part of the normalization deal.

Walla further said Emirati officials would refrain from holding any such high-level meetings with Israeli officials until Netanyahu “clarifies” his position on potential sales of the F-35s to Abu Dhabi.

Tel Aviv claims to have a “military edge” in the region and invariably pressures Washington into helping it retain the self-proclaimed primacy.

The UAE says the peace agreement with Israel should remove “any hurdle” for Abu Dhabi to purchase the advanced jets.

“We have legitimate requests that are there. We ought to get them,” said Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargashin an interview with the Atlantic Council on Thursday. “The whole idea of a state of belligerency or war with Israel no longer exists” following normalization.

Observers say the complications that have followed the UAE-Israel normalization agreement point to the flimsy nature of their relations, which have been received with uniform opposition from all Palestinian factions and many other countries.

Speaking alongside Netanyahu during a trip to the occupied city of Jerusalem al-Quds, US Secretary of State, reiterated America’s commitment to protecting Israel, while suggesting that Washington could rethink selling the warplanes to the UAE.

“The United States has a legal requirement with respect to [Israel’s alleged] qualitative military edge, and we will continue to honor that,” Pompeo said, adding the US “will now continue to review” its military ties with the UAE.

As per America’s Israel policy, Washington has to take protecting Israel’s security into consideration before selling any weapons to countries in the Middle East region.

With that in mind, the US has so far sold 16 of the warplanes to the occupying regime and plans to add dozens more to the fleet.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Reports say the explosion at Iranian nuclear plant had a criminal cause

By Lucas Leiroz | August 25, 2020

A new focus of tensions and uncertainties appears to be emerging in Iran. Recent reports from the Iranian authorities have concluded that the explosion at the Natanz nuclear plant had a criminal cause, most likely caused by a sabotage operation. Not many details have yet been provided about the completion of the investigations. The Iranian government has announced that more information about the case will be released soon but made clear the authorities’ certainty about the criminal nature of the plant’s fire.

In July, a major explosion hit the Iranian nuclear power plant at Natanz, used especially for enriching uranium – an essential activity for the development of nuclear technology. The explosion sparked a huge fire that caught the attention of the media around the world at the time. After the incident, no fatalities or leaks of radioactive materials were reported in the region, so the damage was considered low.

Immediately after the explosion, several rumors were spread about the real nature of the event, as it is common on such occasions. Some of the rumors claimed that Israel had triggered the explosion with the intention of damaging Iran in its nuclear development plans. At the time, all rumors were denied and no “conspiracy theory” was highlighted. Now, after the result of the investigations, such rumors have surfaced, but the Iranian government remains silent about them, stating that the investigations’ data will be revealed later.

Despite the uncertainties surrounding the case, the proximity of the date of the explosion in Natanz with other similar events in Iran brings us intriguing reflections and leaves many questions unanswered. In fact, since June, a series of repeated explosions at Iranian plants has been reported. In June, there was a major explosion at the nuclear power plant at Parchin’s military base in Tehran. This plant is the largest explosive factory for Iranian forces and is therefore a place of great strategic value for the country. Shortly thereafter, there was the event in Natanz, after which, in July, another major explosion occurred at the Isfahan power plant in central Iran. Still, not only plants have been victimized by mysterious explosions in Iran, but also several other facilities: on June 30, an explosion at a clinic in Tehran left 19 dead; in July, two people died in an explosion at a factory also in Tehran; also in July, a major fire in the port of Bouchehr destroyed several vessels, but left no victims. All these incidents have had no well-defined explanation and are therefore the subject of rumors.

The most curious thing is to note that the explosions occurred shortly after Iran intensified its uranium enrichment project. The withdrawal of the US from the 2015 nuclear agreement led Tehran to reconsider the national nuclear plan and to announce the resumption of the uranium enrichment program in the first half of June, on a date coincidentally close to the beginning of the series of explosions. Whether or not there is a causal relationship between both facts, the proximity of the dates is minimally interesting and justifies the suspicions and hypotheses raised by several experts. This is not a mere “conspiracy theory”: the possibility that foreign powers are sabotaging Iran’s nuclear program through some secret operations is quite plausible, regardless of whether it is factual or not.

Since the resumption of the uranium enrichment program, Iran has received several accusations from other countries, mainly from Israel, that it is planning to acquire an atomic bomb. Tehran vehemently denies such accusation, as it has done on many other occasions – according to various statements by Shiite religious leaders, the building of a nuclear bomb is condemnable according to the Islamic religion, so Iran, as an Islamic Republic, could not undertake such project. However, Iranian military progress remains intense and the results are visible. The country recently announced the development of a new long-range ballistic missile, causing even more negative reactions in the West and Israel, where the speech about a possible Iranian nuclear bomb is gaining strength.

In fact, we should expect the Iranian authorities to provide more information about the case and only then express opinions about it. For the time being, the most interesting thing to note is the war of narratives around Iran: even with several pronouncements denying the accusations, the United States and Israel maintain the claim that Tehran is building an atomic bomb as an official state discourse; on the other hand, the opinion of experts on possible sabotage against strategic installations of the Iranian government is classified as a “conspiracy theory” or “false rumor” and is immediately rejected.

There is, of course, an information war around the case. We do not know if it was foreign sabotage – and we may never know – but we do know that such subversive activities really exist and often happen.

Lucas Leiroz is a research fellow in international law at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

August 25, 2020 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment