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Unprecedented Israeli Strikes Target Iraqi Shia Militias In Syria

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 06/18/2018

A day after a mysterious airstrike close to the Iraq-Syria border reportedly killed over 30 Syrian government soldiers and Iraqi paramilitary forces backed by Iran, a US official has told CNN the attack was carried out by Israel and not by the US coalition.

Syrian state media blamed the strike on the US-led coalition — though in the immediate aftermath any level of confirmation or evidence was hard to come by. The claims prompted the US coalition spokesman to issue a formal denial, calling Syria’s accusation “misinformation” as US-backed SDF forces are only operating east of the Euphrates, and not near Abu Kamal, which lies west, according to the statement.

If confirmed it would mark the first time in the war that Iraq’s paramilitary forces have been targeted by Israel. The Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU, or PMF) have increasingly coordinated with the Syrian Army as well as pro-Syrian irregular Shia fighters during anti-ISIS operations along Syria’s eastern border of late.

The incident marks the second time in three weeks that the Syrian Army has accused the US Coalition of bombing their troops in southeast Syria; however it is uncertain as yet how Damascus will respond to this new claim of Israeli responsibility.

The CNN source is an unnamed US official, who gave no other details on the strike, including how many jets conducted the mission or the flight path into the Iraq-Syria border area, though CNN notes, “The area is some distance from Israel and Israeli jets would have had to overcome significant logistical hurdles to strike that area.”

And as Al Masdar News points out, Israel “has never attacked the Syrian military this far from their border, so if they were behind this – this would be the first time they have every bombed the Deir Ezzor Governorate.” 

The last confirmed Israeli strike in Deir Ezzor was in 2007, when Israel destroyed an alleged nuclear reactor in al-Kibar. Up until now in the war confirmed there have been acknowledged Israeli attacks in western Syria, around Damascus, and in the Homs desert (T-4 airbase).

Syrian military sources initially told Reuters that the strikes were conducted by attack drones flying from the direction of U.S. lines. Syrian forces did not respond to the attacks which left dozens of Syrian Army, allied National Defense Forces (NDF), and Iraqi paramilitary troops killed and wounded in the town of Al-Harri, in the Abu Kamal countryside.

Though casualty numbers have varied slightly — with opposition media site SOHR citing 38 and pro-government sources citing well over 40 — it marks a significant escalation given the high death toll against units which were in the midst of battling remnant ISIS pockets in Syria’s east.

The attack came the same day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a cabinet meeting, “We will take action – and are already taking action – against efforts to establish a militarily presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria. We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria.”

Netanyahu’s words follow similar statements made last week wherein he accused Iran of importing 80,000 Shia fighters into the Syrian conflict from places like Pakistan and Afghanistan in order to both “covert” Syrian Sunnis and prepare attacks against Israel, claiming that a broader “religious war” would emerge. 

“That is a recipe for a re-inflammation of another civil war – I should say a theological war, a religious war – and the sparks of that could be millions more that go into Europe and so on … And that would cause endless upheaval and terrorism in many, many countries,” Netanyahu said before an international security forum in Jerusalem last Thursday.

“Obviously we are not going to let them do it. We’ll fight them. By preventing that – and we have bombed the bases of this, these Shi’ite militias – by preventing that, we are also offering, helping the security of your countries, the security of the world,” he said.

Currently, new reports of a “massive build-up” of Syrian Army troops and their allies in Syria’s south continue to emerge after Assad recently reaffirmed his desire to liberate “every inch” of sovereign Syrian territory. As the army conducts operations increasingly close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the likelihood of more direct Syria-Israel clashes to come is high.

June 19, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Houthis say Saudi-led forces bogged down outside Hudaydah

Press TV – June 17, 2018

Yemen’s Houthi fighters have dismissed reports that Saudi-led forces have seized the airport in the port city of Hudaydah, saying the aggressors are on the retreat on all front lines.

Militants and foreign mercenaries armed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are attempting to capture the well-defended city and push the Houthis out of their sole Red Sea port in the biggest battle of the war.

“A battle of attrition awaits the Saudi alliance which it cannot withstand. The Saudi coalition will not win the battle in Hudaydah,” Houthi spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam told Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen TV.

Saudi Arabia on Sunday conducted airstrikes on the airport, to support forces attempting to seize it. The official SABA news agency said warplanes carried out five strikes on Hudaydah – a lifeline to millions of Yemenis.

Ground troops including Emiratis, Sudanese and Yemenis have surrounded the main airport compound.

Mohammed al-Sharif, deputy head of Yemen’s civil aviation, said images circulated online about the airport had been taken in October 2016.

A fence shown as proof of the airport’s capture is actually situated near the al-Durayhimi district, on a piece of land belonging to a Yemeni lawmaker, the official SABA news agency quoted him as saying.

Ahmed Taresh, the head of Hudaydah airport, also denied news of the airport’s capture, but said that it has been completely destroyed in airstrikes conducted by the Saudi-led coalition.

Abdulsalam warned that the Saudi-UAE offensive against the port city would undermine chances for a peaceful settlement of the Yemen crisis.

The rebuttals came after the media office of the Saudi-backed Yemeni forces loyal to ex-president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi said on Twitter that they had “freed Hudaydah international airport from the grip of” the Houthis.

Reports on Sunday said Saudi-backed forces had been surrounded in the al-Durayhimi Bayt al-Faqih district and at least 40 Saudi mercenaries killed by Yemeni sniper fire over the past two days.

Al-Mayadeen, meanwhile, cited informed sources as saying that the invading forces had retreated from all fronts in Hudaydah’s west.

A Yemeni military source said clashes had left 50 Saudi-backed forces dead and destroyed 13 of their armored vehicles in southern Hudaydah.

Yemeni forces have also managed to confiscate a French or American ship off Hudaydah’s coast, president of the Houthi Revolutionary Committee Mohammed Ali al-Houthi tweeted.

The UAE, a key member of the Saudi-led coalition waging the war on Yemen, launched the Hudaydah assault on Wednesday despite warnings that it would compound the impoverished nation’s humanitarian crisis.

Le Figaro newspaper on Saturday reported that French special forces were present on the ground in Yemen supporting the operation.

According to the Houthis, British and French warships were also on standby on Yemen’s western coast to launch missile and aerial attacks on Hudaydah.

Fighting on Saturday closed off the city’s northern exit, blocking a key route east to Sana’a and making it harder to transport goods from Yemen’s biggest port to mountainous regions.

The UN World Food Program and the World Health Organization have both expressed concern over the situation.

More than 70 percent of Yemeni imports pass through Hudaydah’s docks and the fighting has raised fears of a humanitarian catastrophe in a country already teetering on the brink of famine.

On Saturday, the UN envoy for Yemen Martin Griffiths arrived in Sana’a to hold emergency talks on Hudaydah. He was believed to be pushing a deal for the Houthi fighters to cede control of the Red Sea port to a UN-supervised committee.

June 17, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

The World Must Work to Peacefully De-nuclearise the “Israeli” Regime

By Adam Garrie | EurasiaFuture | June 14, 2018

Now that the DPRK, a former signatory to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) which later withdrew has agreed to a full de-nuclearisation process, it is time to focus on other nations that possess nuclear weapons that have yet to sign the NPT.

Of all the world’s nuclear powers only “Israel”, India and Pakistan have refused to sign the NPT and of these three only “Israel” refuses to officially declare its nuclear capability even though unofficially, officials of the Tel Aviv regime have boasted of their illegal nuclear arsenal. While India and Pakistan only became nuclear capable in the late 1990s, Tel Aviv’s first successful nuclear tests came in the early 1960s and were privately a bone of contention between US President John F. Kennedy and the Tel Aviv regime. Even more worryingly, Tel Aviv maintains a plan to launch a large scale nuclear war on its neighbours and the wider region should it fear that it is on the verge of losing a traditional conflict. The award winning journalist Seymour Hersh first revealed the existence of the Samson Option – a classified “Israeli” military doctrine advocating for the use of nuclear weapons on a wide scale should the regime feel sufficiently threatened. As the regime recently stated that it feels threatened by the kites and balloons being flown by Palestinains to attempt and disrupt airstrikes on Gaza, it is clear that Tel Aviv has a very low threshold for what it considers “threatening”. Against this background, the existence of the Samson Option should be incredibly worrying to the so-called international community.

Not only has “Israel” had its illegal stockpile of nuclear weapons for longer than India or Pakistan, but “Israel” has been at war with and has occupied more countries over the last 50 years than either south Asian nuclear power. Since its inception, the Tel Aviv regime has been at war with Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and Syria. It has occupied Palestine since 1947 and part of Syria since 1967.

The regime also occupied part of Egypt between 1967 and 1982. 1982 was also when “Israel’s” full scale occupation of southern Lebanon began while hostile regime forces only vacated in 2006, subsequent to a  partial withdrawal in the year 2000. The regime had also occupied parts of Lebanon as early as 1978 while in 1981 the “Israeli” air force launched an illegal aerial assault on Iraq. While continually occupying Syria, recent years have seen ever more unprovoked “Israel” bombardments of south-western Syria which have increased in terms of their frequency and intensity in recent months.

While India and Pakistan have had a hostile relationship ever since both nations became independent of UK imperial rule, they have nevertheless engaged in fewer conflicts than those inaugurated by “Israel” and this fact in and of itself is quite remarkable. Furthermore, in spite of an alliance dating back many decades, “Israel” has also engaged in hostilities with the United States.

In 1967, the American Naval Ship USS Liberty came under a sustained attack from the “Israeli” air-force and torpedo boats without any warning or justification. In spite of Liberty’s commanders sending communications informing “Israel” that they were an “allied” US ship, the attack persisted for hours. Archival material has revealed that some of the pilots were aware that the ship was American, but that they were ordered by their superiors to keep attacking. Ultimately, 34 Americans died in the attack while 171 were severely wounded. The incident was systematically hushed up by the US government and media. Many researchers suspect that “Israel” had attempted to stage a false flag incident that would later be blamed on Egypt, in order to coerce the US into attacking Egypt and its Soviet ally. Because “Israel” was not able to kill all the men on board, the plan failed as the survivors knew full well that it was “Israel” and not Egypt nor any other Soviet ally that had attacked their ship.

While the ultimately non-lethal incident of the American Navy ship USS Pueblo being captured by the DPRK in 1968 received a great deal of attention in the US media, the USS Liberty incident from the prior year was quickly hushed up. Later, many scholars and journalists accused then US President Lyndon B. Johnson of covering up “Israel’s” wanton aggression upon a US flagged ship.

With Donald Trump publicly declaring that the DPRK no longer poses a threat to the United States, it remains clear that the undeniably aggressive “Israeli” should be the next nation to de-nuclearise for the benefit of wider global peace. While nuclear weapons in south Asia are indeed a worrying prospect, no regime has been so wantonly aggressive, so frequently in violation of UN resolutions and so threatening to all of its neighbours than the “Israeli” regime has been since its dubious inception.

With the DPRK out of the equation, it now remains a matter of focusing on countries which continue to stockpile nuclear weapons without signing the NPT. Of all such nations, “Israel” is by far the most dangerous and should be the next to be pressured by the wider world to give up its nuclear weapons.

Unfortunately, the close and frequently sycophantic US relationship with Tel Aviv means that this might not happen until it is too late. Such a worrying prospect ought to galvanise a wider support throughout the world for such a peaceful de-nuclearisation process to begin at once.

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Press TV interview with Syria’s President Bashar Assad

PressTV | June 13, 2018

June 14, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine denounces Indonesian clerics’ participation in interfaith conference

Palestine Information Center – June 13, 2018

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, has strongly denounced the participation of some Indonesian religious figures in the Zio-American interfaith conference in Occupied Jerusalem.

In press remarks, Sheikh Hussein described the conference as part of Israel’s systematic misleading campaigns that are intended to embellish it and make it appear as a country that advocates for peace and rapprochement between religions.

He condemned the Indonesian delegation’s visit as “a crime against the Palestinian cause and against the Muslim nation,” and said it ignored the international boycott campaigns against the occupation and its racist practices, especially after the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The Mufti also slammed the visit as “shameful and unacceptable” and “contradicting the official and popular Indonesian position that support the Palestinian people and their just cause.”

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

US-Backed Kurds Agree To “Unconditional Talks” With Syrian Government After Pentagon-Turkey Deal

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 06/12/2018

We’ve long predicted that the US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces currently holding a vast chunk of land in Syria’s northeast with the help of American coalition air power will naturally drift toward striking a deal with Assad, as the two sides have throughout the war exercised some degree of quiet cooperation against ISIS, foreign jihadists, and Turkish expansionism.

In a huge weekend development which has gone largely unnoticed by mainstream media, the political wing of the US-trained and supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced it is open to entering into unprecedented direct negotiations with the Assad government over the future of the country.

The Syrian Democratic Council, or SDC, is the political arm of the powerful alliance of mostly Kurdish and Arab fighters that make up the SDF, and on Sunday declared willingness to enter into “unconditional talks” with the Syrian government. 

The London based international Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reports the following:

In a statement on Sunday, the SDC said it was committed to resolving Syria’s deadly conflict through dialogue, and would not “hesitate to agree to unconditional talks”.

“It is positive to see comments about a summit for Syrians, to pave the way to start a new page,” it said.

Leading SDC member Hekmat Habib told AFP that both the council and the SDF “are serious about opening the door to dialogue” with the regime.

“With the SDF’s control of 30 percent of Syria, and the regime’s control of swathes of the country, these are the only two forces who can sit at the negotiating table and formulate a solution to the Syrian crisis,” he said.

As Syria analyst Joshua Landis confirms, the surprise SDC announcement comes just days after a controversial deal reached between Turkey and the US for the withdrawal of Syrian Kurdish forces from Manbij.

Syrian Kurdish leaders were enraged by the agreement, announced over the weekend, which allows for US and Turkish forces to patrol the northern Syrian city — though the Syrian Kurdish SDF wrested the city from ISIS in a major 2016 offensive. Turkey has consistently demanded Kurdish withdrawal from Manbij after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan invaded northern Syria in his non-ironically named ‘Operation Olive Branch’ early this year, aimed primarily at annexing Afrin canton.

Increasingly, America’s incoherent policy regarding the Kurds and Syria more broadly has put the more than 2000 US troops occupying northeast Kurdish heavy regions of the country in the middle of a Kurdish-Turkey-Damascus final showdown for the future of Syria.

As we remarked after Mattis’ weekend comments stating his desire to keep troops in Syria, Syria looks to be going the way of other major US wars: an open-ended situation short of success in which officials simultaneously are unable to come up with a plan to “win,” but will resist any pullout so they never completely lose.

Both the Syrian government and Syrian Kurdish forces understand this well, and know that Syrians alone are the lasting stakeholders in the country — something increasingly obvious as the US appears to be handing over sovereign Syrian territory over to expansionist NATO ally Turkey.

A Syrian Kurdish SDC official further stated of weekend developments, “We are looking forward, in the next phase, to the departure of all military forces from Syria and the return to Syrian-Syrian dialogue” — in a reference to both Turkish and US occupying forces.

We predicted this almost year a year ago in our analysis of Pentagon goals in northern Syria as it became clearer that Assad and Russia were emerging victorious in the 6-year proxy war:

Though the US endgame continues to be the ultimate million dollar question in all of this, it appears at least for now that this endgame has something to do with the Pentagon forcing itself into a place of affecting the Syrian war’s outcome and final apportionment of power: the best case scenario for American power in the region being permanent US bases under a Syrian Kurdish federated zone with favored access to Syrian oil doled out by Kurdish partners, and we could now be witnessing the early phases of such negotiations. 

But if indeed the Kurds are cutting separate deals with Russia, a US exit from Syria could be forced sooner rather than later.

Notably, in a wide-ranging interview with RT News last month, President Assad issued an ultimatum to Syrian Kurdish militias backed by the US: “We’re going to deal with it by two options: the first one we started now opening doors for negotiations, because the majority of them [SDF] are Syrians. Supposedly they like their country, they don’t like to be puppets to any foreigners,” Assad said.

“If not, we’re going to resort … to liberating those areas by force. It’s our land, it’s our right, and it’s our duty to liberate it, and the Americans should leave. Somehow they’re going to leave,” Assad added while speaking to RT.

While it appears the Pentagon is now (predictably) selling out the Kurds to Turkey, Assad has consistently taken a pragmatic approach in dealing with the US-backed SDF, reminding them that no foreign supporters could possibly have Syrian best interests in mind: “either you have a country or you don’t have a country” he said in the RT interview of the foreign invasion of Syrian soil over the past years of war.

Should SDC-SDF and Syrian government negotiations come to full fruition, this could mark lasting peace and the final exit of foreign forces, American troops foremost among them.

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

US-led warplanes strike northeastern Syria, kill four civilians

Press TV – June 13, 2018

Four civilians have been killed when the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group conducted an airstrike against Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that the aerial attack targeted residential buildings in al-Hardan village, which is located in the southeastern part of the province, on Wednesday, causing the fatalities.

A dozen civilians lost their lives and several others sustained injuries on Tuesday, when US-led military aircraft bombarded Tal Shayr village in the same Syrian province.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in two separate letters addressed to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the rotating President of the UN Security Council Vasily Nebenzya on June 5, condemned the continuing attacks by the US-led coalition against innocent Syrians, and its assaults on the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the conflict-plagued Arab country.

The letters further noted that the “illegal” US-led coalition continues to perpetrate massacres against Syrian civilians, leaving scores of people, including elderly people, women and children, dead over the past few days and destroying homes as well as civilian properties and infrastructure in targeted villages.

The Syrian foreign ministry added that the US-led coalition is devoid of any international legitimacy, and has bombarded people in the provinces of Hasakah, Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr after they did not agree to support US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militants.

“The United States has organized these militants in a bid to target the positions of the Syrian army, and recapture areas liberated by the Syrian army soldiers and their allies from the menace of terrorism,” the letters pointed out.

They noted, “The United States has on occasions offered direct support to Daesh Takfiri terrorist group – the latest of which was on May 24 when US-led fighter aircraft struck Syrian army military sites between Albu Kamal border town and Hmeimim Air Base less than 24 hours after government forces thwarted Daesh assaults on its positions.”

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Israel branded ‘illegal state’ by Spain’s Podemos party leader

RT | June 11, 2018

Israel has been branded an “illegal state” by the leader of Spain’s third-largest party, Podemos, for conducting an apartheid-like massacre at the Gaza fence bordering Palestine.

“We need to act more firmly on an illegal country like Israel,” Iglesias Turrion told Spanish RTVE channel. Accusing the country of violating international law and resorting to what he called apartheid-like policies, the leader of the left-wing party questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel.

“Israel’s actions are illegal. The apartheid policies of the state of Israel are illegal,” the politician said, adding that when it comes to international politics he and his party would continue to “defend international rights.”

Iglesias Turrion’s comments came mere days after a local faction of Podemos on Valencia’s city council “condemned” Israel’s illegal assassinations and declared that the third-largest Spanish city would be an “Israeli apartheid-free zone” from now on.

Valencia’s condemnation of disproportionate violence against Palestinians and the decision to refrain from any contact with Tel Aviv was supported by other Spanish cities, including Madrid, Barcelona and Andalusia, which decided to distance themselves from Israel in an expression of solidarity with the “boycott Israel“ movement.

While the number of casualties on the Israeli-Palestinian border is over 120, Israel has been trying to legitimize its bloodshed by portraying it as a lawful response to the presumed Palestinian violence and Israel’s attempt to protect its borders.

However, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence that no Palestinian was killed “intentionally” and that “people died accidentally” revealed a disturbing inconsistency with an earlier statement by the Israel Defense [sic] Forces.

Tel Aviv’s oppression of the Palestinians, along with the US’ controversial decision to move its embassy to the disputed [illegally occupied] city of Jerusalem, have been openly condemned by the EU. Seeing no better solution to stop bloodshed at the Gaza border, the European Union, represented by Federica Mogherini, has insisted on a two-state solution with Jerusalem remapped as the capital of “both of the state of Israel and the state of Palestine.”

June 11, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

President Assad interview with Mail on Sunday (10 June 2018)

Following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, as of the 31st of March 2018, the total sum of funding that the British government supplied to the White Helmets, also known as the Syrian Civil Defense, is GBP 38.4 million. At the same time, Russia accuses Britain of helping stage the attack that took place in Douma via this organization, the White Helmets. Do you, as Syria’s President, believe that’s true?

President Assad: Definitely, without a doubt. Britain, France, and the US are following and adopting the same policy. That said, to be completely frank and stark, Britain and France are political satellites to the US. The UK publicly supported the White Helmets that are a branch of Al Qaeda, al-Nusra, in different areas of Syria. They (Britain) spent a lot of money, and we consider the White Helmets to be a PR stunt by the UK. So yes, definitely, it was staged by these three countries together, and the UK is involved.

Question 2: British Prime Minister Theresa May said she had no doubt the Syrian regime was behind the April 7 chemical attacks and told her critics that Britain’s participation had been right and legal and permitted under international law to alleviate humanitarian suffering. Do states not have a responsibility to protect against war crimes? How is the UK participation in strikes against Syria not justified under international law?

President Assad: So, according to her statements, when Britain and the US attacked Iraq illegally in 2003, killed millions, caused mass destruction, let alone the number of widows and amputees – according to May’s logic, any government has the right to attack the UK or the US if it thought the act was justified, legal and allowed under international law to alleviate human suffering. This is first.

Second, they told a lie; they didn’t provide their own public opinion – the British public – any evidence. After we liberated al-Ghouta, where the alleged attack happened, many foreign journalists, some of them against the Syrian government, asked local people about the chemical attack, and they said “we didn’t see any chemical attack, it didn’t happen.” It was a lie, especially after we liberated that area, our information confirmed that that attack did not take place. The British government should first prove with evidence that the attack happened, and then they should prove who is responsible – of course this did not happen.

There was no attack; this is where the lie begins. Again, it wasn’t about the attack; the crux of the issue is that they need to undermine the Syrian government, as they needed to change and topple the Syrian government at the beginning of the events of the war in Syria. They keep failing, they keep telling lies, and they continue to play a war of attrition against our government.

Question 3: Unconfirmed reports have circulated that the Syrian government captured Western regular forces, as well as British fighters. Can you confirm this or shed light on these reports?

President Assad: There are fighters from all over the world helping the Jihadists. I wouldn’t say we have British fighters who are alive. Most of those fighters, they are dead, they came here to die and to go to paradise, that’s their ideology.

Journalist: But you confirm that they’re dead, and they were from these countries?

President Assad: Yes.

Question 4: Have there been any attempts, even through mediators or third parties, by the British government or its intelligence branches to establish communications with Syria for intelligence for whatever reason?

President Assad: No. We did have communications from different intelligence agencies in Europe, but it was stopped recently because they’re not serious. They want to exchange information despite their governments being politically against ours, so we said when you have a political umbrella for this kind of cooperation, or let’s say when you change your political position, we’re ready. Now, there’s no cooperation with any European intelligence agencies including the British.

Question 5: But there’s been no attempts by Britain to try and open lines of communication, as far as you know, even through mediators?

President Assad: Even if there is a kind of an attempt, we don’t discuss it; it’s trivial, whether there is or not.

Question 6: What are your views on May and Trump’s handling of issues in the Middle East, and in Syria specifically, and what’s the difference between their interventions in the region and those of Putin?

President Assad: Big difference: The Russians were invited by the Syrian government, their existence in Syria is a legitimate existence, the same for the Iranians. While for the United States, the UK, it is illegal, it is an invasion, they are breaching the sovereignty of Syria – a sovereign country. So, their existence is not legal at all, it is an illegitimate existence.

Journalist: But in your view, how have they handled Syria, both May and Trump?

President Assad: It’s not about May and Trump; it’s about the Western politicians in general, the Western regimes in general. They don’t accept anyone who has a different point of view, any country, any government, any personality. That’s the case with Syria; Syria is very independent in its political positions, we work for our national interests, we’re not a puppet state. They don’t accept this reality. So, the whole approach toward Syria in the West is “we have to change this government, we have to demonize this president, because they don’t suit our policies anymore.” This is the situation, everything else is like flavors; they tell lies, they talk about chemical weapons, they talk about the bad president killing the good people, freedom, peaceful demonstration; all these lies are flavors for the main goal, which is regime change.

So, my answer to your question about how I see it is: this is colonial policy, that’s how we see it, and this is not new. They have never changed this policy since the old way of colonialism that existed in the beginning of the 20th century and the 19th century and before, but today it’s covered by, let’s say, a new mask, or different masks.

Question 7: Your main global adversaries today are Trump, Netanyahu, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, a lineup of unusual, unpopular characters. Are you suddenly looking good by comparison?

President Assad: I cannot compare myself to anyone, because I wouldn’t be objective judging myself, so you better ask this question to others. But when you want to have an objective answer, you have to look for the real facts, not the propaganda that’s been circulating in the Western media now for seven years. So, at the end, for me I don’t care how I look in comparison to those; for me it’s important how I look in the eyes of the Syrian people, that’s my focus.

Question 8: In 2013, you told me “Syria lies at the fault line geographically, politically, socially, and ideologically,” and warned that playing with this fault line will have serious repercussions across the Middle East and Europe.

President Assad: Yes, we’re at the fault line, the last five years have proven that I was right, because look at the repercussions all over the world, look at the terrorism spreading all over the world because of the chaos that is supported by the West in Syria. Look at the different attacks in Europe, in UK, in France, other countries. Look at the refugee crisis in Europe. That’s because of the fault line that I talked about five years ago.

Question 9: Five years on since you told me this, or since you said that, during which ISIS was born, you seem to see yourself as the main bulwark against it, why is that?

President Assad: For ISIS, we are the main party who’s been fighting ISIS with support by the Russians and Iranians during the past years. No other party is doing the same, even partially. If you want to talk about the West and the Western military alliance led by the Americans, actually it has been supporting ISIS, because they’ve been attacking the Syrian Army whenever we attack or we’ve been attacked by ISIS; the last incident happened only days ago, when ISIS attacked the Syrian Army and of course we defeated them, and in response the Americans attacked our troops in the eastern part of Syria.

Question 10: Was the world wrong in isolating you for the last seven years?

President Assad: The concept of isolating a country in general is wrong. In the world, in the modern politics, even in the olden days’ politics, you need communications. When you isolate a country, you isolate yourself from the reality in that country, so you’re becoming politically blind. So, the concept is wrong.

Question 11: Mr. President, some regard you as an international pariah, a dictator, with blood on your hands, give me an argument for why you are not, when in the past seven years, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been killed, arrested, imprisoned, and even tortured?

President Assad: So, the story that you’re talking about, or let’s say the Western narrative, that this is a bad president; he’s killing his own people, and the whole world is against him because he’s an international pariah, but he’s been in his position for seven years while he’s fighting everyone in this world. Can you convince your readers about this story? It doesn’t even hold together, I mean the different factors of this narrative, it’s not logical, it’s not realistic. So, this president is in his position because he has the support of his own people, so how could he have this support while he’s killing these same people? So, the story is not correct. We are fighting the terrorists, and those terrorists are supported by the British government, the French government, the Americans and their puppets whether in Europe or in our region. We are fighting them, and we have public support in Syria to fight those terrorists. That’s why we are advancing. We cannot make these advances just because we have Russian and Iranian support; they cannot substitute the popular support, and the proof of what I’m talking about: Shah of Iran, the Western puppet, he couldn’t withstand the backlash of the Iranian people, and he collapsed, the whole system collapsed in a few weeks, and he had to flee his country.

Question 12: But despite having support of many Syrians, the fact remains that there are thousands, tens of thousands of people that were killed, and have been imprisoned.

President Assad: Of course, you’re talking about a war; there is no good war, there is no peaceful war. That’s why war is bad. So, when you talk about war, the natural and the self-evident result is death and blood everywhere, but the question is: who started this war, and who supported this war? The West. The West supported the war from the very beginning, and it supported the terrorists who started exploding everywhere and killing everywhere and everyone and beheading. The West supported Al Qaeda. So, it’s not enough to say there is killing. Of course, there is killing; that’s self-evident, but who started? The West is responsible first of all.

Question 13: The West is responsible, but some also say that Mr. Assad or President Assad should bear responsibility as well.

President Assad: Any Syrian could bear responsibility because of what’s happening in Syria. That’s another issue, this is a Syrian issue, we don’t discuss it with the West. It’s not the role of the West to tell us who’s responsible in Syria, the president or the government or the army or the terrorists, this is a Syrian issue; we decide who. The West is in no position to tell us, at the end, it’s not its role, but it interfered in a sovereign country and is responsible of the killing in our country, regardless of its narrative and its lies.

Question 14: Russia appears to be making a lot of decisions about Syria, whether about foreign troops withdrawing to deals being struck with Israel over southern Syria, to which weapons you may or may not have. Does Russia now make your decisions?

President Assad: Russia is fighting for the international law, and part of this international law is the sovereignty of different countries, of the sovereign countries, Syria is one of them. Their politics, their behaviors, their values are not about interfere or dictate; they don’t. We’ve had good relations with Russia for more than six decades now, nearly seven decades. They never, during our relation, try to dictate, even if there are differences; because there is a war and because there’s high dynamism now in the region, it’s natural to have differences between the different parties, whether within our government or other governments; Russia-Syria, Syria-Iran, Iran-Russia, and within these governments, that’s very natural, but at the end the only decision about what’s going on in Syria and what’s going to happen, it’s a Syrian decision. No one should have any doubt about this, regardless of the statements that you may hear, because I know on which base the question is.

Journalist: Based on various statements.

President Assad: Exactly.

Question 15: So, why has Russia not given you the S300 they promised for years, at a time when Israel is striking Syria practically every week, and why is Russia coordinating these strikes’ targets behind the scenes with your enemies?

President Assad: Russia never coordinated with anyone against Syria, either politically or militarily, and that’s contradiction; how could they help the Syrian Army advancing and at the same time work with our enemies in order to destroy our army?

Journalist: But they usually know in advance where the attacks are going to happen…

President Assad: No, no, that’s not true, that’s not true, definitely. We know the details. Regarding the S300, why they announced it and then they stopped talking about it, you better ask the Russian officials. It’s a political statement, they have their own tactics. But whether they send it or they’re going to send it or not, this is a military issue; we don’t talk about it.

Question 16: Senior Pentagon officials have warned they will militarily retaliate should you mess with their alliance. Are you ever going to get rid of the US military presence in Syria, are you prepared to fight them directly?

President Assad: Since the beginning of the war, the Americans and their allies haven’t stopped threatening Syria, they haven’t stopped supporting the terrorists, and they haven’t stopped attacking us directly on numerous occasions. But in spite of this we have been advancing against the terrorists, and we have said that we’re going to liberate every inch of Syria regardless of any statement or any attack. This is our land and this is our duty; it’s not a political opinion, it’s a national duty. We’re going to advance in that direction regardless of the military or political position of our adversaries.

Question 17: You’ve said that you will take back every inch of Syrian territory, how long you anticipate this will take you?

President Assad: This is not only about the Syrian Army and the terrorists, or about the events within the border of our country, otherwise I would have given you, let’s say, maybe a precise timeframe. But I have always said that in less than a year we can solve this conflict, it’s not very complicated. What has made it complicated is the external interference. The more we advance, the more support the terrorists have from the West. Look, for example, we were about to achieve reconciliation in the southern part of Syria only two weeks ago, but the West interfered and asked the terrorists not to follow this path in order to prolong the Syrian conflict. So, we think the more advances we make politically and militarily, the more the West, especially US, UK, and France, will try to prolong it and make the solution farther from the Syrians. But in spite of this, we are closing the gap between the two.

Question 18: Mr. President, in three years’ time, you will come to the end of your presidency term now, and it’s been a long seven years and the next two years, do you think you will be running again as president, or you will call it a day and decide that it’s time for you to take a break?

President Assad: It’s still early to talk about it; you’re talking about three years from now. Three years on, no one knows how the situation is going to be in our country. If I’m going to run for the presidency, there are two factors: First of all, will – personal will to take responsibility, and second – which is the most important, the will of the Syrian people. Do they accept that person? Is the mood about me as president still the same, or will the Syrian people change their position? So, in three years, we will have to look at these two factors and then decide whether it’s appropriate or not.

Question 19: How do you think history will remember you?

President Assad: It depends on which history: The Western history? It’s going to be skewed; it’s going to tell lies and lies and lies; the same lies that we have heard not only about our present but also about the past. Our history on the other hand, which I care about, I hope it will remember me as somebody who fought the terrorists to save his country, and that was my duty as president.

Question 20: With the World Cup around the corner, do you have a favorite team?

President Assad: In these circumstances, yes, my favorite team is the Syrian Army, to fight the terrorists.

Journalist: Any favorite British teams, football teams?

President Assad: No, I don’t follow.

Question 21: It’s been seven years of war, what do you do to let off steam, any hobbies?

President Assad: Sports is not a hobby, it becomes a part of your health, and a part of your daily routine, because good health is important to staying active. So, we cannot look at it as entertainment; there’s no time or mood for entertainment. You’re living with the war, the killing, with terrorism. So, this is the only hobby that has become a habit, a daily habit depending on the time and circumstances.

Question 22: Your wife is British, and you’ve lived in London for many years, is there anything in particular that you miss from your days there?

President Assad: I lived in London, I learned as a doctor. It’s impossible for you to live in a city and you don’t feel there is a special link with that city or with the people that you work with on a daily basis. So, you miss maybe this relation, but you live sometimes in contradiction; that the same city that you like is the same country that’s been attacking your country, which is not good.

Journalist: Thank you very much Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you.

June 10, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Video, Wars for Israel | , | Leave a comment

‘Civilians deaths increased due to rise in use of US assassination drones’

Press TV – June 9, 2018

Delegation of authority to field level military commanders to use “US assassination drones” has resulted in a surge in the number of innocent civilians being killed.

Media sources reported recently that US President Donald Trump has delegated to battlefield commanders the authority to order lethal drone strikes.

The authority to call for assassination drone strikes was limited to the White House or Washington security officials when Trump’s predecessors, namely, George Bush and Barack Obama were in office.

Trump’s decision to delegate the decision-making process to the military resulted in the number of drone strikes increasing, and in turn, the number of innocent civilians getting killed going up, according to Michael Burns, a political and military analyst in New York.

Burns made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday while commenting on the US military’s illegal extrajudicial killings by using assassination drones in some Muslim states, and now planning to expand the practice to other regions across the globe.

“The reason it [the use of assassination drones] has increased so substantially is because more decision-making authority is being given to military commanders to use these systems.”

Burn says the increase in the use of drones aims to project US military power worldwide.

“The increase in the use of drones — which are officially known as ‘unmanned aerial systems’ to mask their vicious ability — to project power in other regions of the world has increased substantially under the Trump administration.”

The analyst also links the increase in the use of drone systems to other reasons including the cost-effectiveness of the weapon compared to other means available to the US government to project its military power across the globe.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Afghan Taliban announce three-day ceasefire for Eid holiday for 1st time

RT | June 9, 2018

Taliban militants in Afghanistan have announced they will suspend hostilities with the government forces for three days to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid. Foreign forces in Afghanistan are excluded from the truce, however.

The announcement comes after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Thursday declared his own unconditional, week-long ceasefire against the Taliban, but not against other militant groups. The armistice will coincide with Eid celebrations at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan, which comes next Thursday.

Ghani’s ceasefire comes after the recommendation from a group of Islamic clerics, and it will last until June 20. The Taliban have not specified when their ceasefire will begin or end, Reuters reports.

This is the first time that the Taliban have ever extended an offer of this kind to the Afghan government, while Ghani previously declared an unconditional truce in 2014.

The Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist militant group, are estimated to control 30 to 50 percent of Afghan territory, and they have a presence in up to 70 percent. US-led foreign combat troops withdrew from the country in 2014, but foreign personnel still remain there in training and support capacities. Airstrikes by the US have been continuing, though, and have risen sharply under President Donald Trump, as did the civilian casualties they caused.

Afghan President Ghani has been pushing for peace with the Taliban. In April, he suggested that the group should run in parliamentary elections as a legitimate political party.

The Taliban previously disapproved of the idea of holding direct talks with the Afghan government, insisting on negotiating with the US first. In February, the Taliban published an open letter to the “American people” and “peace-loving congressmen,” urging US troops to withdraw and calling for negotiations with US officials. However, Washington believes the conflict should be settled through direct talks between the insurgents and Afghan officials.

It was reported in late May that the Taliban held secretive talks with Afghan officials to discuss the prospects of a ceasefire. The talks, according to the US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, featured international organizations and foreign representatives. The Taliban denied the reports, calling them “a false claim” by the US side.

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

Hundreds Flee US-Held Refugee Camp in Syria to Government-Controlled Areas

Sputnik – June 9, 2018

Damascus has repeatedly called the US presence in the southern Syrian town of al-Tanf “illegal” and has insisted that American forces withdraw from the region immediately.

Hundreds of refugees from the US-led coalition-controlled Rukban refugee camp bordering Jordan have traveled several hundred kilometers west to the Damascus suburbs seeking assistance from Syrian authorities.

Speaking to journalists, some of the refugees said the lack of humanitarian aid drove them to make the journey west. Students from a Damascus university are helping to organize the provision of food and shelter for the refugees.

“We thought we would be saved there [at the Rukban camp] but as a result nearly died of hunger. It turned out that there was nothing there; nothing at all,” Muttrah Ramadan Houdour, one of the refugees, said. “Even the food and medicine we did have were brought to us by friends from Damascus, and we paid for it. We gave everything we had,” she added.

Others confirmed that the Rukban camp has problems with the supply of food and water.The Rukban refugee camp is located in the Al-Tanf district in Homs province and surrounded by opposition militants. Tens of thousands of civilians fled to the area in 2014, hoping to cross into neighboring Jordan, when Daesh (ISIS) began its assault into eastern Syria. Jordanian authorities did not let them into their territory, resulting in the creation of the Rukban camp.

An estimated 60,000 refugees are presently based at Rukban and the US-occupied al-Tanf military base. There have been numerous reports of militants creating problems for the refugees, from blocking them from leaving to preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid. The United Nations has described the situation at the camp a “humanitarian disaster.” The US has been training Syrian opposition militia (some of them presumed to be ex-jihadists) at al-Tanf since 2016. Damascus and Moscow have repeatedly accused Washington of “spewing Daesh mobile groups” from the area and turning southern Syria into “a 100-kilometer ‘black hole’ on the Syrian-Jordanian state border.”

Last week, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem slammed the continued US military presence in the region and called on America to withdraw. Last month, senior Syrian diplomat Bashar Jaafari called the US presence at al-Tanf and Rukban “pure aggression and occupation.”

June 9, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment