World Leaders voice support for US strike against Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad bears “sole responsibility” for the US strike on a regime airbase, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said in a joint statement on Friday.

“After the chemical weapons massacre of April 4 on Khan Sheikhun in northwestern Syria, a military installation of the Syrian regime was destroyed by a US air strike last night,” the statement, issued after a morning phone call, said.

“President Assad bears sole responsibility for this development.”

They added that “France and Germany, together with their partners and within the framework of the United Nations, will continue their efforts to hold President Assad responsible for his criminal deeds”.

Berlin and Paris “jointly call on the international community to join forces for a political transition in Syria in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communique,” they said, referring to a statement issued on June 30 2012 by the UN-backed Action Group for Syria.

Merkel and Hollande were each informed “one to two hours before the strikes,” a source close to the French president’s office said.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel earlier said the strike was “understandable” after the UN Security Council was “unable to clearly and unequivocally respond to the barbaric use of chemical weapons against innocent people in Syria”.

His French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, with Gabriel on a trip to Mali, said he hoped the strikes would show Syria’s allies Russia and Iran that they should withdraw their support for Assad.

“The Russians and the Iranians must now understand that they cannot prop up Bashar al-Assad’s regime… it cannot go on, it makes no sense,” Ayrault told France Info radio.


Source: The Guardian

US-Russia relations under threat after US attacked Syrian air base

President Donald Trump ordered a massive military strike on a Syrian air base on Thursday in retaliation for a “barbaric” chemical attack he blamed on President Bashar al-Assad.

In a brief televised address delivered hours after the UN Security Council failed to agree on a prove into the apparent chemical attack, Trump confirmed the US strike on Syria and urged “all civilized nations” to unite to end the bloodshed in the country.

“On Tuesday Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent,” Trump said. “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.”

“Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types,” Trump said.

The US military fired dozens of cruise missiles at the Shayrat Airfield at 8:45 pm Eastern Time (0000 GMT), officials said.

A White House official said 59 “precision munitions” had been blasted at the base, while a US defense official said “dozens” of Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched.

The missiles were fired from the USS Porter and the USS Ross, which belong to the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet and are located in the eastern Mediterranean. A US official said the missiles targeted aircraft and runways at the base.

The sudden US military action against the Assad regime marks a stunning development in Syria’s brutal, six-year conflict and a sudden about-face for Trump.

It came despite a warning from Russia of potential “negative consequences” if Washington strikes Syria.

“All responsibility if military action occurs will be on the shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful tragic enterprise,” Russian Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov said.

A US official said Washington had informed Russia ahead of the Syria strike.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had earlier vowed an “appropriate response” to the attack in Khan Sheikhun in rebel-held Idlib province, which killed at least 86 people, including 27 children.

The White House official said the United States assesses that the Assad regime used a chemical nerve agent consistent with sarin in Tuesday’s attacks.


Source: AFP

BREAKING: US military responds to Syrian government with 59 cruise missiles

US President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered the launch of airstrikes in Syria.

Trump’s order was in response to chemical attacks allegedly ordered by Bashar al-Assad, Syrian President, against his people.

The chemical attacks killed several persons, including children and women.

The US fired 59 Tomahawk missiles from the USS Porter and USS Ross destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean against the Shayrat air base.

According to the US, the planes that carried out the chemical attacks lifted off from the air base.

The missiles were said to have targeted aircraft and aircraft shelters, ammunition, air defense systems and radars.

“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 U.N. Security Council,” Trump said, while speaking at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

“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.

“Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

Meanwhile, Russia, Syria’s staunch ally, says the strike violates international law

Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, on Friday said the US strike constituted “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law”.

Syria ‘chemical attack’ kills at least 35 people in Idlib province

Dozens of people have been killed in a suspected chemical attack in rebel-held northern Syria, in one of the largest mass casualty incidents using a toxic gas in the six-year conflict.

The death toll rose to 67 in the hours after the attack on Khan Sheikhun in Idlib province on Tuesday morning. Doctors said the victims exhibited symptoms apparently matching those caused by exposure to deadly sarin gas. Scores more people were injured.

The raids were carried out by planes believed to be loyal to the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Later, a series of airstrikes on the same town targeted a hospital and two emergency response centres that were recovering and treating victims of the initial strike.

The attack came a day after the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said the US government was no longer focused on Assad’s removal from office, and as a two-day conference on Syria’s future, hosted by the EU and UN, began in Brussels.

The international chemical weapons watchdog said it was gathering and analysing information. The French foreign minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, demanded an emergency UN security council meeting.

Khan Sheikhun houses thousands of refugees from the nearby province of Hama who have fled the fighting there.

“In this most recent attack, dozens of children suffocated to death while they slept,” said Ahmad Tarakji, the head of the Syrian American Medical Society, which supports hospitals in opposition-controlled areas in Syria. “This should strike at the very core of our humanity. How much longer will the world fail to respond to these heinous crimes?”

SAMS said its doctors had determined that the symptoms of the patients were consistent with exposure to organic phosphorus compounds like the nerve agent sarin, which is banned by the chemical weapons convention.

“Everyone is horrified and the children are in total shock,” said Mohammad Hassoun, a spokesman for civil defence rescue workers in the nearby town of Sarmin, which received 14 of the wounded.

US claims deadly north Syria strike, denies targeting mosque.

The US military says it carried out an air strike in northern Syria against an Al-Qaeda target, but denies deliberately targeting a mosque where at least 42 people were killed according to an independent monitor.

The US-led coalition has been bombing jihadist groups in war-torn Syria for several years, with hundreds of civilians unintentionally killed in the country and in neighbouring Iraq.

“We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target — which was where the meeting took place — is about 50 feet (15 metres) from a mosque that is still standing,” said Colonel John J. Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command.

The Centcom spokesman later clarified that the precise location of the strike was unclear — but that it was the same one widely reported to have targeted the village mosque in Al-Jineh, in Aleppo province.

“We are going to look into any allegations of civilian casualties in relation to this strike,” he added, when asked about reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that 42 people had died in the attack on the village mosque, most of them civilians.

The head of the Britain-based Observatory Rami Abdel Rahman said “the raids by unidentified warplanes targeted a mosque in Aleppo province during evening prayers, killing 42 people, most of them civilians”.

“More than 100 people were wounded,” he said, adding that many were still trapped under the collapsed mosque in the village of Al-Jineh, just over 30 kilometres (20 miles) west of Aleppo.

The village is held by rebel and Islamist groups, but no jihadist factions are present.

– Body parts in the debris –
Rescue workers struggled to pull survivors from rubble, and dozens of residents were still unaccounted for, the Observatory said.

Abu Muhammed, a village resident, told AFP that he “heard powerful explosions when the mosque was hit. It was right after the prayer at a time when there is usually religious lessons for men in it”.

“I saw 15 bodies and lots of body parts in the debris when I arrived. We couldn’t even recognise some of the bodies,” he added.

An AFP reporter at the scene said rescuers earlier left the wreckage site but were forced to double back when they heard moaning coming from the debris.

Footage published by Halab Today, an online media group focused on news in Aleppo, showed piles of rubble where the mosque allegedly stood.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began six years ago with anti-government protests.

A cessation of hostilities was brokered by rebel backer Turkey and regime ally Russia in December, but violence has continued across much of the country.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information, says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used.

But the skies over Aleppo province are busy, with Syrian regime and Russian warplanes as well as US-led coalition aircraft carrying out air strikes.

Russia began a military intervention in Syria in September 2015, and in the past has dismissed allegations of civilian deaths in its strikes.

The US-led coalition, meanwhile, has been bombing jihadist groups in Syria since 2014.

The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said earlier this month that its raids in Iraq and Syria had unintentionally killed at least 220 civilians since 2014.

Critics say the real number is much higher.


Source: AFP

Erdogan, Trump agree to act jointly against ISIS in Syria – Turkish sources

Presidents Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Donald Trump of U.S. agreed in a phone call overnight to act jointly against Islamic State in the Syrian towns of al-Bab and Raqqa, both controlled by the militants, Turkish presidency sources said on Wednesday.

The two leaders discussed issues including a safe zone in Syria, the refugee crisis and the fight against terror, the sources said.

They also said Mr. Erdogan had urged the U. S. not to support the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units or Yekîneyên Parastina Gel (YPG) militia.

Mr. Trump spoke about the two countries’ “shared commitment to combating terrorism in all its forms” and welcomed Turkey’s contributions to the fight against Islamic State, the White House said in a statement, but it gave no further details.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF, an alliance of U.S.-backed militias, started a new phase of its campaign against Islamic State in Raqqa on Saturday.

Turkey, a NATO ally and part of the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State, has repeatedly said it wants to be part of the operation to liberate Raqqa but does not want the YPG, which is part of the SDF alliance, to be involved.

Mr. Erdogan’s relations with former President Barack Obama were strained by U.S. support for the YPG militia, which Ankara regards as a terrorist organisation and an extension of Kurdish militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey.

The Turkish army and Syrian rebel groups it supports are meanwhile fighting Islamic State in a separate campaign around al-Bab, northeast of the city of Aleppo.

Ankara has complained in the past about a lack of U.S. support for that campaign.

The offices of both leaders said Mr. Trump had reiterated U.S. support for Turkey “as a strategic partner and NATO ally” during the phone call on Tuesday.

The Turkish sources said new CIA Director Mike Pompeo would visit Turkey on Thursday to discuss the YPG, and battling the network of U.S.-based Turkish cleric, Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkey accuses of orchestrating a July coup attempt; a charge he denies.

Turkey has been frustrated by what it sees as Washington’s reluctance to hand over Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999.

There was no immediate confirmation from Washington of Pompeo’s visit.


Source: Reuters

“I’m ready to negotiate”, says Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad

President Bashar al-Assad of Syria says his government is ready to negotiate on “everything” in the proposed peace talks in Kazakhstan.


Assad made the remarks in comments to French media that were published by the Syrian state news agency SANA.


He noted that it was not yet clear who would represent the opposition and no date had been set.


Assad also said a ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia, his most powerful ally, ahead of the talks was being violated.


He said the army’s role was to recapture an area near Damascus where insurgents control the main water supply for the capital.


When asked if the government was ready to discuss his position as president, Assad said he agreed but his position is linked to the constitution.


“If they want to discuss this point they must discuss the constitution,” he said.


He indicated that any constitutional matter must be put to a referendum, and it was up to the Syrian people to elect the president.

Turkish and Russian diplomats will meet as planned to discuss Aleppo amidst rift.

Diplomats from Turkey and Russia will meet as planned on Tuesday to discuss the situation in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, one day after the assassination of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey.

On Monday night, a Turkish police officer fired several shots at Andrey Karlov as the Russian envoy opened an art exhibition in Ankara, shouting “Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria.”
The assassination came at a time of thawing relations between Russia and Turkey, and at a pivotal moment for the war in Syria, where Russia has been instrumental in President Bashar al-Assad’s push to retake rebel-held areas.
Six people have been taken in for questioning in relation to the shooting, including five members of the gunman’s family and one flatmate, according to Turkish state news agency Anadolu.

Embassies closed in Turkey

All US embassy and consulates in Turkey were to be closed Tuesday following a separate incident, hours after the assassination.
Turkish police arrested a man who fired into the air with a shotgun outside the US Embassy in Ankara, Anadolu reported.
Video fed by Turkish video news agency IHA showed a handcuffed man being led by security officers into an unmarked police car as he shouted “I swear to God. Don’t play with us,” in Turkish. No one was injured.

How the shooting happened

The man who opened fire on the ambassador was identified as police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas.
He was killed soon after the Monday attack at the Cagdas Sanat Merkezi modern arts center in the heart of Ankara, at a neighborhood of foreign embassies including the US and Russia.
Karlov, envoy to Turkey since 2013, had been invited to speak at a photography exhibit opening featuring the work of Turkish photographers in the Russian countryside.
Altintas, wearing a dark suit, fired shots in rapid succession at Karlov’s back. The gunman circled his body, visibly agitated as he smashed photos hanging on the wall, said Associated Press photographer Burhan Ozbilici.
“Allahu akbar (God is greatest). Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria! Do not forget Aleppo! Do not forget Syria!” Altintas is heard shouting in video of the incident.
“Only death will remove me from here. Everyone who has taken part in this oppression will one by one pay for it,” he said.

Shooting a ‘provocation’

The brazen attack was immediately denounced by both Turkish and Russian leaders as an effort to derail relations between the two countries, which they said would not succeed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said the killing was clear “provocation” aimed at undermining not just the normalization of Russia-Turkish relations but the “peace process in Syria” promoted by Russia, Turkey, Iran and other countries.
“The only response we should offer to this murder is stepping up our fight against terror, and the criminals will feel the heat,” Putin said in televised remarks.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan echoed his sentiments, saying “the Russian government and the Turkish republic have the will to not fall into that provocation.”
Officials from both countries and Iran will meet to discuss issues in Syria Tuesday in Moscow.
On the same day, an 18-strong investigative team of Russia’s special agencies is scheduled to arrive in Turkey to help authorities with their inquiries, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state-run TASS on Tuesday.
“The important thing is to understand who is behind this crime,” Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
“We are convinced that the main goal of those who planned this barbaric act [is] to undermine the process of normalization of relations between Russia and Turkey, largely in order to prevent an effective fight against terrorism in Syria. This goal is futile. It will not work.”
Emergency vehicles respond to the shooting of the Russian ambassador to Turkey.

Russia and Turkey’s role in Syria

Russia has been denounced by human rights groups and several countries over its backing of the Syrian president.
It is the most powerful ally of Assad’s regime and has carried out airstrikes since September 2015 to prop up the embattled leader. As one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Russia has also used its veto powers to block a political solution to end the war.
Analyst: More violence to come in Turkey

Turkey’s deadly year

The shooting of the ambassador is the latest in a long string of attacks in Turkey this year, although it’s the first in recent memory to be directed at a foreign dignitary.
Russia slapped a raft of sanctions on Turkey after the deadly incident, hurting Turkish exports and damaging its tourism industry.
The relationship began to thaw in June, when Erdogan wrote a letter expressing “regret” to the dead pilot’s family.
When Erdogan faced down an attempted military coup in July, Putin was among the first world leaders to call and offer his support.
Erdogan and Putin have spoken several times on the phone in recent weeks as they worked to reach a deal to evacuate civilians from eastern Aleppo.

UPDATE: Russian Ambassador Shot in Turkey is Dead, Shooter Claims Revenge for Aleppo.

Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, is reportedly dead after he was shot by a gunman at an art gallery in Ankara. According to reports, several others were injured in the attack, which comes as protests are taking place in the country over Russia’s involvement in the Syrian civil war.



According to the BBC, the gunman, who was dressed in a suit, shouted, “Don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria,” and added: “Allahu Akhbar.” Karlov was speaking at an event (“How Turkey sees Russia”) at the gallery when he was shot from behind and collapsed.



CNN Turk reported that shots could still be heard from the area where Karlov was taken down, and that a shootout ensued between police and the attacker. According to his official bio, Karlov was an experienced diplomat who previously served in Russia’s embassies in North Korea and South Korea. He was in his current post since July 2013, and was married and had a son.

Putin Calls For Syria Ceasefire As #Aleppo Evacuations Continue

A nationwide ceasefire is the next step to restore peace in Syria after the recapture of Aleppo in the country’s north, Russian President Vladimir Putin told reporters at press conference in Japan on Friday.

As he spoke, thousands of civilians and rebel soldiers continued to flee Aleppo in convoys as the second day of evacuations within an agreed ceasefire began on Friday.
Up to 9,000 people have already been taken out of the besieged city in nine convoys since Thursday, including 108 wounded, according to Russian and Syrian state media.
For many of those leaving, their destination will be the rebel-controlled Syrian province of Idlib — likely the Bashar al-Assad regime’s next target.
An activist working inside the city broke down talking to CNN reporters on Friday, saying he wasn’t sure if his children would ever return to Aleppo.
“We waited for the international community and the United Nations to punish the criminal and not the victims (the people). Unfortunately the punishment was for the people. They have displaced us from our land,” he said.
“Honestly I don’t know if we can return back someday to our land or if it is going to be like the fate of the Palestinians.”
Read More: CNN

World Celebrities Stand For Syria, Campaign To Raise Relief Fund

Many world celebrities have stood up in unison to not just raise awareness regarding events unfolding in Syria, but to also raise fund for children who are unfortunately the most affected in the troubled region.

 Most of the celebrities are campaigning on their social media platform and pleading for assistance for the embattled kids in Syria. Below are some of their instagram posts soliciting for support and prayer for Syria.


Syria Now In Control Of 60% Of East Aleppo- Group

Syrian forces have retaken another district in the east of the city of Aleppo, now exerting control over 60 percent of the city’s militant-held eastern part, according to a monitoring group.

Joined by allied fighters, the Syrian military seized Aleppo’s Tariq al-Bab neighborhood from the militants, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday.

The advance also restored control on a road leading from Aleppo’s government-held western neighborhoods to the city’s airport, which is also under government control.

Foreign-backed militants amassed in the city’s eastern side in 2012. The government has been controlling its west and fighting to retake the east.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency said the military had also wrested back control over the Karam Al-Qaterji, Jazmati, and Halwaniyah neighborhoods in eastern Aleppo. An unspecified number of the militants were killed in the operations.

The government’s advances have taken by surprise many of the foreign states that have been channeling financial and military support to the militants since the onset of the foreign-backed militancy in Syria in 2011.

Amid the victories, some countries, including France, have called for the implementation of a ceasefire in Aleppo, citing a need for secure corridors for the transfer of humanitarian assistance to the city.

On Wednesday, Russia warned that the issue of aid delivery in Syria was becoming highly politicized as most UN humanitarian aid was going to the areas occupied by foreign-backed militants. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said only one percent of the UN aid supplies was being directed to the western city of Dayr al-Zawr, where at least 200,000 people trapped by the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group remain in desperate need of help.

Russia has, meanwhile, voiced outrage at the recent formation in Aleppo’s east of a militant umbrella group calling itself the Army of Aleppo, describing it a diversion tactic to shield a notorious terrorist group there.

The move, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday, was just an attempt to disguise and shield al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of al-Qaeda that has recently renamed itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and has claimed to have broken up with al-Qaeda.

Lavrov said nearly all the militant groups fighting in eastern Aleppo were controlled by the Takfiri terrorist group.

“I do not rule out that this is just another attempt to rebrand al-Nusra Front and shield it from righteous retaliation,” Lavrov said, referring to the formation of the so-called Army of Aleppo.

Also on Saturday, a unit grouping army forces and its allies destroyed the positions of al-Nusra, in the suburbs of the city of al-Rastan in the southwestern Syria Dara’a Province.

Credit: presstv

President Obama ‘not optimistic’ about Syria’s future

US President Barack Obama is “not optimistic” about Syria’s future and said the chaos could persist for “quite some time” as the UN warned time was running out to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in the city of Aleppo which has been pounded by air strikes for nearly a week.

Obama, who will be succeeded on January 20 by Donald Trump, said he told Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru that he was deeply concerned about the bloodshed in Syria and that a ceasefire was needed.

He warned that Syria’s second city was likely to fall, and that Russian and Iranian backing for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had made the situation untenable for the opposition.

“I am not optimistic about the short term prospects in Syria,” he said at a summit of Pacific leaders in Lima.

“Once Russia and Iran made a decision to back Assad and a brutal air campaign and essentially a pacification of Aleppo regardless of civilian casualties, children being killed or wounded, schools or hospitals being destroyed, it was very hard to see a way in which even a trained and committed moderate opposition could hold its ground for long periods of time,” he said.

On the ground in Syria, government forces launched a ferocious assault last Tuesday to recapture eastern Aleppo, killing 115 civilians so far.

In fresh fighting on Sunday, at least eight children were killed when rebel rocket fire hit a school in the government-controlled west Aleppo.

In Damascus, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura was rebuffed on a truce proposal that would allow the opposition to administer the city’s rebel-held east.

“We are running out of time, we are running against time,” de Mistura said after meeting Syria Foreign Minister Walid Muallem.

The Syrian foreign minister said he had rejected the proposal under which rebel forces would leave and the government would recognise the opposition administration in the east which has been bombarded by air strikes, barrel bombs and artillery.

“How is it possible that the UN wants to reward terrorists?” Muallem asked.

Aid agencies fear that instead of a humanitarian or a political initiative, there will be “an acceleration of military activities” in eastern Aleppo and elsewhere, according to de Mistura.

“By Christmas, due to military intensification, you will have the virtual collapse of what is left in eastern Aleppo,” he said.

“You may have 200,000 people moving towards Turkey and that would be a humanitarian catastrophe.”

The latest warnings from western leaders come as rebel forces add to the indiscriminate shellingof the Syrian government forces.

Sunday’s attack on a school that killed eight children came after at least 19 civilians, including five children, were killed in the east, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon condemned the indiscriminate shelling, saying it had killed and maimed civilians, destroyed schools and left the city’s east without functioning hospitals.

“The Secretary-General reminds all parties to the conflict that targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure is a war crime,” his office said in a statement.

“Those responsible for these and other atrocities in Syria, whoever and wherever they are, must one day be brought to account.”

Friday’s shelling destroyed one of the last hospitals in east Aleppo, and staff were also forced to evacuate the area’s only children’s hospital because of repeated attacks.

Russia, which intervened militarily last year, says it is not involved in the current assault on Aleppo, and is instead concentrating its firepower on opposition forces in neighbouring Idlib province.

French foreign minister calls for renewed Syria talks.

The French foreign minister has condemned Syrian government air raids on the beseiged eastern part of Syria’s Aleppo and called for the revival of talks aimed at ending the war.

Jean-Marc Ayrault’s comments to Al Jazeera came after he met representatives of the opposition Syrian High Negotiations Committee in Qatar’s capital Doha on Sunday.

“Today’s war is all out war. I condemn this in the name of France. I will take the initiative to bring together those who share the same vision for Syria’s future in the coming hours and days,” he said.

“You can’t stand there and wait for Aleppo to fall. Because it is not only Aleppo at stake, it is all of Syria, the ‘useful’ Syria as they say. If negotiations fail, those who will be defeated will radicalise, to join those we are fighting elsewhere like ISIL and al-Nusra.”

He was referring to the the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group and the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham group, which was formerly known as al-Nusra.

The city of Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial centre, has been divided since 2012, with the eastern half largely in rebel hands and the western half largely controlled by government forces.

More than 250,000 civilians are still trapped in the east, which is under near constant aerial bombardment, with dwindling food supplies and extremely limited medical care.

Children killed

Damascus launched a renewed assault on eastern Aleppo on Tuesday in a bid to seize full control of the city, a key battleground in Syria’s five-year civil war.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that relies on a network of informants in the country to monitor the war, said early on Sunday that 54 people had been killed over the last 24 hours, most of them civilians.

That brought to 103 the number of civilians killed, including 17 children, since the government renewed its bombardment of Aleppo, it said.

The Observatory also reported heavy fighting between government forces and rebels as the army sought to gain ground in the Bustan al-Basha and Sheikh Saeed neighbourhoods of the east.

More than 400,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government protests in March 2011. Successive attempts to find a peaceful resolution have failed.

Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s peace envoy for Syria, arrived in Damascus on Sunday for talks with Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem. International concern has grown over the renewed assault, which has forced the closure of hospitals and schools, destroyed rescue worker facilities, and left residents cowering in their homes.

Rebel fire on Syria’s Aleppo kills 7 children.

The news agency reported additional rebel fire on other parts of west Aleppo, which is regularly targeted by the opposition forces that hold the eastern part of the divided city.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, gave a toll of eight children killed, aged between six and 12.


An AFP photographer at the school shortly after the attack saw adults rushing children away from the building and trying to comfort crying infants.


State television showed some of the wounded being treated in a hospital, including a child in a blue top whose face was covered in blood being attended on a stretcher.


In a corridor, a young boy in a red T-shirt with his arm in a make-shift sling was shepherded by his distraught mother, as another boy with his head bandaged was carried in.


Government forces are currently waging a ferocious assault against east Aleppo, targeting it with air strikes, barrel bombs and artillery fire.


They renewed their fire on the east on Tuesday, after a period of relative respite, in a bid to recapture the rebel-held side of the city.


The Observatory says at least 103 civilians have been killed in east Aleppo since government forces resumed the assault.

Fight to the end, ISIS boss Baghdadi urges Mosul jihadists

The reclusive leader of the Islamic State group broke a nearly year-long silence as Iraqi forces closed in on Mosul Thursday, urging his jihadists to hold their ground.

It was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s first statement since Iraqi forces launched a massive offensive on October 17 to retake Mosul, where the IS chief declared the group’s “caliphate” two years ago.

“Do not retreat,” Baghdadi said in a purported message released by an IS-affiliated outlet. “Holding your ground with honour is a thousand times easier than retreating in shame.”

In June 2014, days after jihadist fighters swept across swathes of Iraq, he made a rare public appearance in Mosul and announced the creation of an Islamic “state” straddling Iraq and Syria.

The “caliphate” has been shrinking steadily since last year and Iraqi forces earlier this week reached the outskirts of Mosul, the jihadists’ last major stronghold in Iraq.

If authentic, the recording entitled “This is what God and his messenger have promised us”, would be Baghdadi’s first since December 2015 and a rare sign of life.

Rumours have swirled about the Iraqi jihadist leader’s health and movements but his whereabouts are unclear.

IS has fallen back when massively outnumbered in recent battles, giving up some of its emblematic bastions — such as Fallujah in Iraq and Dabiq in Syria — without following its own apocalyptic ideology of fighting to the bitter end.

– Eastern edge of Mosul –

In his latest message, which is undated but makes reference to events that are at most a few weeks old, Baghdadi also calls for attacks against Saudi Arabia — a favourite target — and Turkey.

Ankara has troops stationed at a base just outside Mosul and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s escalating rhetoric has raised fears of a unilateral Turkish intervention in Iraq.

Baghdadi also said that his followers who could not travel to Syria or Iraq should aim for Libya and urged all IS fighters to remain united in adversity.

He attempted to stir up sectarian resentment by referring to religious flags and slogans of Shiite fighters among Iraqi forces and by accusing other Sunni groups and politicians of treason.

The recapture of Mosul by Iraqi forces could spell the end of the group’s days as a land-holding force in Iraq and deal a death blow to the “caliphate”.

The US-led coalition supporting the Iraqi offensive estimates the number of IS fighters holed up in Mosul at 3,000 to 5,000 and has warned the battle for the city could be long and difficult.

Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul from three main fronts have retaken dozens of villages and towns scattered over hundreds of square miles.

Earlier this week, federal forces reached the eastern edge of Mosul and on Wednesday were clearing the most recently reconquered areas to set up a breach of the city.

Gunfire echoed across the village of Gogjali on Mosul’s eastern edge Wednesday as elite Iraqi forces worked to clear the area.

– ‘We went through hell’ –

An AFP reporter in Gogjali, on the eastern front line, saw larger than usual numbers of civilians walking to safer areas with little or no belongings.

“Some of the kids that arrive are barefoot, and they don’t have sufficient water and food,” said Alvhild Stromme, a media adviser for the Norwegian Refugee Council, one of the most active aid groups in Iraq.

Some were leaving Gogjali and others the eastern Mosul neighbourhood of Samah, in what may be a rare breach for civilians trapped inside the city.

All told tales of IS brutality.

“They confiscated my tractor and then threw me in jail for six days. They beat me and when I got out I couldn’t do my work anymore,” said Yusef Fariq.

The 40-year-old farmer, speaking from his home in Gogjali and surrounded by his mother and two sons, still had the long beard IS militants forced him to grow.

“They were killing us, always asking for money, we couldn’t go anywhere. We went through hell,” his mother said.

With an assault on the city looking imminent, aid groups said they were “bracing for the worst” and warned that the fate of a million-plus civilians still believed trapped inside Mosul was in the balance.

Turkish Army kills up to 200 YPG fighters in Aleppo.

The Turkish military said its fighter jets hit Syrian Kurdish targets in northern Syria, and killed up to 200 fighters, according to state media.

The jets hit 18 targets in Maarrat Umm Hawsh, a region north of the city of Aleppo, the official news agency Anadolu said.

Quoting the army, the report claimed that between 160 and 200 fighters from the YPG (People’s Protection Units) group were killed in the raids on Wednesday night.

A Syrian-Kurdish forces leader, however, said that while Turkish jets and artillery were attacking, no more than 10 fighters had been killed so far.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said at least nine YPG fighters were confirmed killed and 26 people were injured in some 20 raids.

Anadolu said nine buildings used as YPG headquarters, meeting points, shelters and weapons depots were destroyed as well as four vehicles.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the death toll.

The Anadolu report said the YPG had attacked Turkish-backed Syrian rebels. However, the Observatory said it had no information on such an incident.

In August, Turkey launched a ground operation in northern Syria, targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group and the YPG, and continues to maintain a military presence in the neighbouring country.

The US considers the YPG to be a key force in the fight against ISIL in Syria.

Turkey says the group is an extension of its own outlawed Kurdish fighters – the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – who have carried out a series of deadly attacks in Turkey over the past year.

US-Turkey tensions

Tensions between Turkey and the US have increased over the YPG, but Ankara has repeatedly said it will not allow a “terror corridor” on its southern border and wants to prevent the joining of the Kurdish “cantons” of Afrin and Kobane.

Turkey entered the Syrian war to try and remove ISIL from its border – which last month Ankara said it achieved – while also aiming to halt the westward advance of the YPG.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey would not “wait for terrorist organisations to come and attack us” during a speech in Ankara.

“These organisations, wherever their activities are, wherever they are nesting, we will go [there],” he said.

BREAKING: War? Russia ‘orders all officials to fly home any relatives living abroad’.

Russia is ordering all of its officials to fly home any relatives living abroad amid heightened tensions over the prospect of global war, it has been claimed.

Politicians and high-ranking figures are said to have received a warning from president Vladimir Putin to bring their loved-ones home to the ‘Motherland’, according to local media.

It comes after Putin cancelled a planned visit to France amid a furious row over Moscow’s role in the Syrian conflict and just days after it emerged the Kremlin had moved nuclear-capable missiles near to the Polish border.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has also warned that the world is at a ‘dangerous point’ due to rising tensions between Russia and the US.


Politicians and high-ranking figures are said to have received a warning from president Vladimir Putin (pictured) to bring their loved-ones home to the 'Fatherland', according to local media

Politicians and high-ranking figures are said to have received a warning from president Vladimir Putin (pictured) to bring their loved-ones home to the ‘Fatherland’, according to local media.

Russia is ordering all of its officials to fly home any relatives living abroad amid heightened tensions over the prospect of global war, it has been claimed

Russia is ordering all of its officials to fly home any relatives living abroad amid heightened tensions over the prospect of global war, it has been claimed

According to the Russian site, administration staff, regional administrators, lawmakers of all levels and employees of public corporations have been ordered to take their children out of foreign schools immediately.

Failure to act will see officials jeopardising their chances of promotion, local media has reported.

Pope Francis Begs For Immediate Ceasefire In Syria

Pope Francis appealed on Wednesday for an immediate ceasefire in Syria, calling for “at least” a truce enabling civilians, especially children, to be evacuated, after Aleppo came under fierce air assault.

“I want to underline and reiterate my closeness to all the victims of the inhumane conflict in Syria,” he said at his weekly audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican.

“It is with a sense of urgency that I renew my appeal, begging those responsible, with all my strength, for an immediate ceasefire to be imposed and respected at least long enough to consent the evacuation of civilians, especially children, who are still trapped under the ferocious bombardments,” he said.

On Tuesday, regime ally Russia carried out its heaviest air strikes in days on Aleppo, killing 25 civilians including four children according to a monitor, and causing massive damage in several residential areas of the city’s rebel-held east.

Syria’s army announced a bid last month to retake the city, which has been divided since mid-2012.

The assault began after the collapse of a short-lived truce negotiated by Washington and Moscow, and has seen the besieged east of Aleppo come under fierce aerial assault.

Read More:

U.N. Warns Russia Over Syria Air Strikes

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein warned Russia on Tuesday over the use of incendiary weapons in Syria’s besieged enclave of eastern Aleppo, and said crimes by one side did not justify illegal acts by the other.

Zeid said that the situation in Aleppo demanded bold new initiatives “including proposals to limit the use of the veto by the permanent members of the Security Council”, which would enable the U.N. body to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Such a referral would be more than justified given the rampant and deeply shocking impunity that has characterized the conflict and the magnitude of the crimes that have been committed, some of which may indeed amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Zeid said in a statement.

Syria’s government and its allies had undertaken a “pattern of attacks” against targets with special protection under international humanitarian law, including medical units, aid workers and water-pumping stations, he said.

Russia is a key player in the Syrian civil war by virtue of its military support for President Bashar al-Assad and its role as one of five veto-holding powers on the Security Council.

The use of indiscriminate weapons such as incendiary weapons in heavily populated areas was of particularly grave concern, Zeid said, drawing a parallel with the battles of Warsaw, Stalingrad and Dresden during World War Two.

There is no statute of limitations on international crimes, his spokesman Rupert Colville said.

“I remind all State parties to Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, including the Russian Federation, that they are strictly prohibited from using incendiary weapons in airstrikes on heavily populated areas, and that the use of such weapons by ground forces is severely restricted,” Zeid said.

The rebels’ use of inaccurate “hell-fire cannons”, homemade mortars that fire gas cylinders packed with explosives and shrapnel, was also totally unacceptable, he said.

Designating the enemy as a “terrorist organization” was not an excuse to ignore the laws of war, Zeid said.

Read More: reuters

Kerry Tells UN that Russia Must Ground Syrian Air Force

US Secretary of State John Kerry demanded on Wednesday that Russia force Bashar al-Assad’s regime to ground its air force in order to revive hopes of a ceasefire in Syria’s civil war.

Addressing the UN Security Council, including his Russian opposite number Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Kerry said efforts to find peace could yet be salvaged but only if Moscow takes responsibility for recent air strikes.

Kerry said that only Russian and Syrian war planes had been active in areas of northern Syria where on Monday a United Nations aid convoy had been destroyed from the air and on Tuesday a field clinic was bombed.

“I believe that to restore credibility to the process we must move forward to try to immediately ground all air craft flying in those key areas in order to de-escalate the situation and to give a chance for humanitarian assistance to flow unimpeded,” he said.

“And if that happens there’s a chance of giving credibility back to this process,” he said, referring to an agreement he reached with Lavrov in Geneva earlier this month to broker a cessation of hostilities.

“In Geneva, Russia related that Assad was prepared to live by the cessation of hostilities and would accept the idea of not flying over agreed upon areas,” Kerry said.

“But because of what’s happened in the past few days my friends we have no choice but to do that sooner rather than later, move immediately to restore confidence and implement a genuine ceasefire now.”

Moscow has rejected the idea that Russian or Syrian planes carried out Monday’s strike on the UN aid convoy, and Lavrov told the council that there would be “no more unilateral pauses” by Assad’s government forces.

He said that previous breaks in bombing by the government side had only allowed the rebels to re-arm and strengthen their positions and urged UN members to revisit the list of banned terrorist groups excluded from the ceasefire.

“If we can agree on this kind of comprehensive approach, and integrated multi-faced approach, the chances of a cessation of hostilities surviving and being successful will be better,” he argued.

US Blames Russia For Attack On UN Aid Convoy In Syria

The United States has blamed Russia for an airstrike that targeted a UN aid convoy near Syria’s Aleppo province on Monday, shortly after the Syrian military ended a ceasefire due to recurrent breaches by terrorist groups.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that at least 18 of 31 Syrian Red Crescent trucks carrying UN-provided food were destroyed in an airstrike in Aleppo’s Urm al-Kubra region.

Washington quickly held Moscow responsible for the attack, arguing that the Russian military was in charge of making sure that a shaky ceasefire, brokered earlier by the US and Russia, stays in place.

“The destination of this convoy was known to the Syrian regime and the Russian federation and yet these aid workers were killed in their attempt to provide relief to the Syrian people,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Read More: presstv

Syria: UN Suspends Aid Delivery After Convoy, Warehouse Attack

The United Nations is suspending its aid operations in Syria after a deadly attack on a convoy and warehouse carrying life-saving supplies in rural Aleppo on Monday night, a UN spokesperson said, leaving tens of thousands of people without desperately needed food and medicine.

“At the moment [the] aid operation remains suspended while we assess and reevaluate the situation on the ground,” the spokesperson said, adding aid convoys planned had come to a halt.
The convoy of 31 trucks was carrying life-saving aid to around 78,000 people when it was attacked near the embattled city of Aleppo, the United Nations and aid organizations said.
Officials from the UN and US said they were “disgusted” and “outraged” by the incident, which according to the UN saw 18 of the trucks in the convoy hit.
Twelve people involved in the aid delivery were killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organization that monitors the conflict in Syria.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks and it is unclear whether the convoy was hit by an airstrike or shelled.
Credit: CNN

Syria, Nuclear Arms & Refugees Top UN Assembly Agenda

World leaders are arriving at the United Nations headquarters for an annual confab with hopes of addressing everything from superbugs to climate change and a global anti-poverty drive that is already faltering in its first year.

Presidents, diplomats and their delegations must also broach impromptu items, such as North Korea’s recent nuclear test. A US air raid that allegedly killed at least 62 Syrian government soldiers on Saturday threatens a fragile truce in that country and sparked fresh rows at the UN.

On top of that, the United States, Russia, China and other UN heavyweights must see beyond their differences and agree on who will run the world body once the incumbent, Ban Ki-moon, steps down at the end of the year.

On Monday, the UN will host a summit for refugees and migrants that may have already failed – countries refused to commit themselves to a UN target of resettling 10 percent of refugees each year.

The outcome is a “watered-down version of what we had hoped for”, Erol Kekic, from the refugee aid group Church World Service, told Al Jazeera, adding that denying hope to the world’s 21 million refugees was “irresponsible and frankly dangerous”.

A separate meeting on refugees, to be hosted by US President Barack Obama on Tuesday, will probably gain more traction, not least because any leader showing up must come bearing gifts. Guests will be giving cash, letting more refugees into their countries or helping them find jobs.

Obama’s presence raises a question all of its own. His internationalism has buoyed UN meetings over the past eight years, but he leaves office in January and US voters have yet to decide who will replace him.

Read More: aljazeera


Politics Blamed For Delay In UN Aid Delivery To Syria

No humanitarian aid has entered Syria yet, the UN says, despite the de-escalation of violence across the country following the coming into effect of a nationwide ceasefire.

Al Jazeera has learned from diplomatic sources that no route for the delivery of aid has been agreed upon yet.

The Syrian foreign ministry on Tuesday said it would not allow any humanitarian aid to enter the rebel-held side of Aleppo without coordination with the Syrian government and the UN.

It said Turkish convoys in particular would not be allowed into Syria.

A diplomatic source, speaking to Al Jazeera on condition of anonymity on Wednesday, confirmed that the Turkish government’s involvement remains a major sticking point for the aid delivery.

“Politics is coming in the way of the delivery,” the source said.

Read More: aljazeera

Syria Denies Dropping Chlorine Gas On #Aleppo

The Syrian government has denied claims it dropped barrels of chemical weapons on an opposition-held neighbourhood in Aleppo city that has caused at least one death and dozens of cases of suffocation.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks daily developments in the Syrian war, said more than 70 people in Sukkari were left choking and needed treatment after the dropping of barrel bombs by Syrian government helicopters.

The Syrian government has vigorously denied using chemical bombs.

The UN said it was investigating this allegation.

“Accusations by the opposition that the Syrian government dropped chlorine gas in a barrel bomb on Aleppo are likely to further increase tension in the city that is now besieged by government troops,” our correspondent said.

“The UN said that they have been investigating reports of what they believed to be chlorine gas dropped on Aleppo; they say if those accusations are confirmed that would amount to war crimes.”

Read More: aljazeera

US, Russia Fail to Reach Syria Deal

Top diplomats from the United States and Russia on Monday failed to reach a deal to ease fighting in Syria, US officials said, after government troops encircled rebel-held parts of Aleppo.

A senior State Department official said a fresh round of crisis talks between Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the margins of the G20 summit in China had ended without agreement.

Washington and Moscow support opposing sides in the five-year conflict, which has killed around 300,000 people and forced millions to flee.

A deal to provide aid to Aleppo’s ravaged civilians and at least partially halt Russian and Syrian bombardments had looked likely on Sunday, before talks collapsed.

US officials accused Russia of backtracking on already agreed issues which Washington refused to revisit, but the talks seemed to have been overtaken by developments on the ground.

Syrian government troops renewed their siege of Aleppo on Sunday, with state media saying they had taken an area south of the city, severing the last opposition-held route into its eastern neighbourhoods.

Once Syria’s economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been ravaged by the war that began with protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s government in March 2011.

– Presidents meet –

Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin also met Monday on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou, but it was far from clear that they would try to revive the talks.

The White House has been reluctant to tether Obama personally to a deal that could well fail.

Earlier truces in Syria have rapidly deteriorated, and Obama warned Sunday that the US was approaching the talks “with some scepticism”.

“Our conversations with the Russians are key because if it were not for the Russians, then Assad and the regime would not be able to sustain its offensive,” he said, an acknowledgement that Putin, by sending troops and air assets to Syria, has made himself an indispensible player.

“But it is worth trying,” Obama went on. “To the extent that there are children and women and innocent civilians who can get food and medical supplies and get some relief from the constant terror of bombings, that’s worth the effort.”

The White House is also highly reluctant to offer Putin a high-profile stage to gain international legitimacy after his backing for a regime that has used chemical weapons on civilians.

Obama has steadfastly refused to meet Putin for official talks, instead talking with him in “pull-asides” at closed multilateral meetings.

That was again the case at the G20.

“The President is taking part in a pull-aside with President Putin of Russia,” said National Security Council spokesman Ned Price. “We expect to provide additional details of their discussion later today.”

US officials had hoped to build pressure on Moscow over its support for Assad’s government during the Hangzhou summit and upcoming UN General Assembly.

Washington has repeatedly said that Assad must step down in order for a lasting peace deal.

Turning up the heat in recent weeks, the White House has gone as far as to suggest Moscow is complicit in war crimes.

“You have the Assad regime which has been killing its own citizens with impunity, supported by the Russians and the Iranians,” Obama said on Sunday.

Both Putin and Obama are expected to give press conferences later Monday.

The failure to reach a deal is likely to heap pressure on Obama over his handling of the war in Syria.
Obama came to office vowing not to repeat the mistakes of his predecessor George W. Bush, who launched disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But as he prepares to leave office, critics say Obama’s failure to intervene in Syria has had similarly bloody results, allowing the conflict to fester for years.

A New Jihadist Threat Rises In Syria As ISIS Recedes

As the U.S.-led coalition has begun to gain ground against the Islamic State in Syria, officials have begun focusing attention on another jihadist group they fear may pose a more dangerous long-run threat there, the al-Qaeda affiliate known as Jabhat al-Nusra.

Jabhat al-Nusra has played a clever waiting game over the past four years, embedding itself with more moderate opposition factions and championing Sunni resistance to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The group has mostly avoided foreign terrorist operations and has largely escaped targeting by U.S. forces. Meanwhile, it has developed close links with rebel organizations such as Ahrar al-Sham that are backed by Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Credit: WashingtonPost

Humanitarian Aid To Arrive Syria After World Powers Agree To Ceasefire

Humanitarian aid may soon head to Syria, just hours after diplomats here reached a deal that could lead to a cease-fire.


Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced the temporary “cessation of hostilities” in Munich ahead of a security conference here that got underway Friday. Dozens of world leaders and senior diplomats were attending.


Kerry described the effort to achieve a cease-fire as “unanimous” and “ambitious.”
“The challenge now is to make sure that we can create the conditions on the ground for the cease-fire to take place,” Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s senior foreign affairs diplomat, told reporters in Munich.
“Cease-fires are not always respected,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.
Syria’s five-year-long civil war has killed more than 250,000 people, driven more than 4 million people from the country and led to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II.


But while the announcement marks a potentially significant development, it comes as President Bashar Assad’s military, backed by Russian air support, closes in on the Syrian opposition held city of Aleppo. Tens of thousands of new Syrian refugees fled for the border with Turkey amid the offensive. The deal also arrives as major differences remain between Russia and the United States over how to best achieve peace in Syria.

Russia is backing Assad, while the U.S. wants the Syrian president to step aside and is aiding some rebel groups. There was no immediate reaction to the cease-fire deal from the delegation representing Assad in recent peace talks in Geneva.

The cease-fire would not include the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Both are terrorist groups that a U.S.-led coalition is battling in Syria and Iraq.
David Miliband, president and CEO of aid organization the International Rescue Committee, and a former British foreign minister, said the agreement needs more detail and urgency, and that people in Syria should not have to wait for relief from bombings.

“We wait with eager anticipation to see whether this agreement is a turning point or a false dawn,” he said.



Credit : USA Today

Buhari Sympathizes With Syria At Donor Conference, Pledges Support In Spite Of Nigeria’s Difficulties

President Muhammadu Buhari is among the over 80 world leaders who converged on London on Thursday for the ‘Supporting Syria and the region’ conference holding at the Queen Elizabeth 11 Conference Centre in London.

In his speech, President Buhari applauded the initiative to protect the people of Syria from the vicious war.

He joined the world in condemning the violence and abuse of human rights and sheer destruction of lives and property.

He said that Nigeria shares the same experience with Syria following the experience from Boko Haram insurgency and therefore feels the pains the people of Syria feel.

He urged all the parties to engage in peaceful talks as only a political agreement would bring the tragedy to an end.

He said that military option would only prolong the war and killing of innocent civilians. He extended the sympathy of Nigerians to the suffering people of Syria.

He pledged to support in spite of the difficulties back home.

Also speaking, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki Moon, joined the host president and British Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, to condemn the human rights abuses going on in Syria.

Mr Cameron was passionate about the call to raise fund for the suffering masses in Syria but called for more action while the UN Secretary General Ban KI Moon said that at least seven billion dollars must be raised.

According to him, even if the war in Syria ends immediately, the suffering of the people would not end immediately. He said that only political dialogue can rescue the Syrian people.

Credit: ChannelsTv

Boko Haram’s Suicide Bomber Girls Often Unaware They’re Carrying Bombs — UN

A UN expert has said many of the young girls Boko Haram sends out as suicide bombers in Nigeria and neighbouring countries are probably unaware that they will be blown up.
Leila Zerrougui, the UN secretary-general’s special representative on children and armed conflict, suggested Tuesday that especially the children used in this way were in many cases not aware of what they were about to do.
“Many of them don’t know that they will be blown up with remote devices,” she told reporters, pointing out many of the girls are as young as 11 or 12.
“I personally doubt that the children know,”

 Zerrougui added that security forces had informed the UN that the bombs are often set off remotely.

“That means that it is not the person herself who did it,” she said.

Zerrougui lamented that the use of children as human bombs is one of the worst manifestations of an increasingly blatant disregard for the safety and security of minors in conflict situations around the world

.“This is the worst form where children are really put in danger and their bodies are really used as a weapon,”“I can say that 2015 was really a difficult year for children all over the world where conflicts are ongoing,” she said.The world is currently dealing with six major conflicts, including in Syria and Yemen, compared to one or two normally.And if you count protracted conflicts, a jaw-dropping 20 are currently impacting the lives of children around the world, “We have thousands of children killed, maimed, schools attacked and children by the thousands recruited in many places,” Children are not only affected, they are specifically targeted.”


Yemen’s Aden Governor Killed In Bomb Blast, As ISIL Says They Are Responsible

The governor of Yemen’s city of Aden, Major General Jaafar Mohammed Saad, and five of his bodyguards have been killed in a car bomb attack claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group. The incident happened on Sunday in Aden’s Tawahi district in the country’s south.

ISIL, in a statement posted on a messaging service, said it detonated a car laden with explosives as Saad’s convoy passed by.

The group promised more operations against what it called “the heads of apostasy in Yemen”.

ISIL also posted what it said were photos of the booby-trapped vehicle as a white van carrying Saad drove past, then two other photos of a huge ball of fire which it said were taken as the bomb exploded. How sad.

Flesh-Eating Bug On The Rise In Syria Caused By ISIS Dumping Bodies In The Street

WAR-ravaged Syria has a new enemy – a deadly flesh-eating bug caused by ISIS dumping bodies in the street.

The bug, known as Leishmaniasis, is caused by protozoan parasites.

It is usually carried by flies but experts warn that increase in rotting flesh in the street has triggered a dramatic rise.

Records suggest that 16 months ago around 500 people were affected by the disease, but that is now believed to have soared.

Dilqash Isa, head of the Kurdish Red Crescent humanitarian organisation , said: ‘As a result of abominable acts by ISIS that included the killing of innocent people and dumping their corpses in streets, this is the leading factor behind the rapid spread of Leishmanisis disease.’

The World Health Organization has warned that Syria’s health system has collapsed under five years of war, the Metro reports.

‘We did not have knowledge about this deadly disease before,’ a Syrian Kurdish fighter told news agencies. ‘We have been fighting on the battlefield for almost four years and this disease basically generated from embattled areas of Tal Hamis, Hon and Qosa,’

Credit: AP

US Issues Worldwide Terror Alert Over Fears Of Attack From ISIS, Al-Qaeda And Boko Haram

Americans have been issued with a global travel alert over fears of attacks from terrorists around the world.
The US State Department has warned all citizens to be vigilant citing threats from ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and “other terrorist groups”.
They have advised everyone to take caution in public places, during holidays and at large gatherings such as sporting matches or concerts.
The alert expires on 24 February next year, the State Department said.
It comes in the wake of the Paris terror attacks last Friday which claimed the lives of 130 people.

The alert on its website reads:

“Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions.  These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.  This Travel Alert expires on February 24, 2016.

Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq.  Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis.  Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services.  In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali.  ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.
U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation.  Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowed places.  Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.  U.S. citizens should monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.  Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country.  U.S. citizens should:
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.  Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Foreign governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions.  Authorities continue to conduct raids and disrupt terror plots.  We continue to work closely with our allies on the threat from international terrorism.  Information is routinely shared between the United States and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats”.

Paris Terror Attacks: ISIS Release Chilling Video Warning Countries Involved In Syria Airstrikes Will Suffer Same Fate

A chilling new ISIS video has warned countries taking part in Syria airstrikes that they will suffer the same fate as France.

In the footage the terror group also threatens an attack in Washington.

“We say to the states that take part in the crusader campaign that, by God, you will have a day God willing, like France’s and by God, as we struck France in the centre of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its centre in Washington,” one man in the video said.

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of the video.

French warplanes pounded Islamic State positions in its Syrian stronghold Raqqa overnight – its biggest such strike since it started assaults as part of a U.S.-led mission launched in 2014.

Arsenal Offer Aid To Syrian Refugee Crisis

Arsene Wenger has called the need to help those fleeing the war-torn country for Europe “immediate” as the Gunners team up with Save the Children.

Arsenal will donate £1 for every ticket sold for their Premier League meeting with Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium to Save the Children’s Refugee Crisis Appeal.

A number of football clubs, including Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich have all pledged money to aid those who have fled conflict in Syria and arrived in their respective countries.

Gunners boss Arsene Wenger has called for other clubs to contribute in a similar way in order to offer significant help to those in need.

“The need is immediate so we decided to be immediately helpful,” Wenger told the club’s official website.

“You know that we are always involved with a helpful attitude, we have our own foundations and charity and this is a special case where people are in the need of special help.

“It’s an exceptional circumstance and I’m very happy that our club contributes to help refugees to settle in countries where they come without anything. We’ll give £1 for every ticket sold [against Stoke] and if everyone can contribute like we do then I think we can give very, very strong help.”

Hundreds Of Muslims Convert To Christianity To Win Asylum In Germany

Hundreds of Muslim migrants  are converting to Christianity hoping that act would give them more chances to win an asylum in Germany.
German officials have begun registering 20,000 and distributing migrants and refugees across the country who have arrived in Munich in over the weekend. The majority of migrants are from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and civil-war-torn Syria. Some of them, mostly Iranian and Afghan asylum seekers have changed faiths at the evangelical Trinity Church in Berlin.

Many claim true belief prompted the move, but the decision undoubtedly improves their chances of
staying in Germany. Moreover, conversion to Christianity by a Muslim in Afghanistan and Iran could
be punished by death or imprisonment, that’s why refugees believe that Germany wouldn’t deport them back home.

Austria and Germany open borders to migrants offloaded by Hungary

Austria and Germany open borders to migrants offloaded by Hungary

Pastor Gottfried Martens from the evangelical Trinity Church recognises that some convert in the hope it will give them chance of winning asylum – but for the pastor motivation is unimportant. According to Martens, many are so taken by the Christian message that it changes their lives and only about 10% of converts do not return to church after christening.

Conversion to Christianity by a Muslim in Afghanistan and Iran could be punished by death or imprisonment

Conversion to Christianity by a Muslim in Afghanistan and Iran could be punished by death or imprisonment

“I know there are – again and again – people coming here because they have some kind of hope regarding their asylum. I am inviting them to join us because I know that whoever comes here will not be left unchanged,” he said. However, being Christian alone does not help an applicant, as usually priority given to those who already have relatives in the country.

Iranian asylum seekers Aref Movasaq Rodsari (left) and Vesam Heydari stand in the Trinity Church in Berlin

Iranian asylum seekers Aref Movasaq Rodsari (left) and Vesam Heydari stand in the Trinity Church in Berlin

No fewer that 340,000 arrivals have been accepted into Germany during the last 12 months. The 2015 European migrant criss arose through the rising number of refugees and economic migrants from the Middle East, Africa, the Balkans and South Asia, coming to the European Union and applying for asylum. The majority of the refugees come from Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

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Istifanus Yaro :On Europe And An Unprecedented Refugee Crises, My Take

Hordes and hordes of men, women and children are knocking on the doors of Europe in a manner never before experienced. These are adjudged to be people running away from war thorn Syria,   Saudi-shelled Yemen and the overall uneasiness characterising the Middle East at this very moment. This is even more so with ISIS expanding the frontiers of a new, resurgent Islamic state.

The policy of the West had a triggering effect, resulting in to the kind of humanitarian crises being witnessed today. The arming of rebels in Syria, the divided stance on the part of the permanent membership of the UN Security Council where one country supports the beleaguered Assad Regime while others support the rebels is a recipe for a protracted war.

One of the legacies of the Libyan war is an internal instability that has created a breeding ground for terrorists and lunching pad to the rest of the world. Libya now provides a window into Europe from an anarchical environment that is now the state of Libya.

With a policy that has consistently shown Africa as a jungle of disease, starvation, conflicts and failed states, it is little wonder that Africans increasingly become drawn to Europe. We have been inundated with stories of Africans ready to undertake the deadly journey across the Sahara desert into Europe. These dogged journeymen considered it far more dignifying to die in the desert or drown in the Mediterranean than to live in the throes of abject poverty. The allures of Europe is that attractive.

At the height of the Ebola scourge, ‘Ebola diplomacy’ was used to further undermine Africa. CNN ascribed numbers constituting those who lost their lives to the Ebola pandemic. Those numbers, affixed to west African countries, depicted a dehumanizing situation that was only expected to get worse, and the numbers bound to increase.

America was depicted as the great nation, whose citizens cannot be allowed to  die in the disease-infested jungles of Africa. An SOS mission was launched and the American doctor who was cured of the ailment read a pre-scripted note while proclaiming his recovery ‘a historic moment’ for America and for himself. When Nigeria, with lesser drama and showmanship, surmounted the scourge, America ate the humble pie and sent emissaries to understudy the methods employed by the most populous black country in the world. The Ebola diplomacy failed woefully. But in the minds of those fixated with thoughts of the West as eldorado, the systematic diplomacy of persistently downgrading Africa has resulted into an inferiority complex that even a feat such as Nigeria’s defeat  of Ebola cannot warrant any re-valuation.

Those that undertake the journey-of-no-return to Europe have lost every sense of rational thought that they wouldn’t bother to know that Europe today is dithering under great economic uncertainty. Just recently, David Cameron has embarked on foreign diplomatic shuttles to woo investors to the UK! By the year 2050, according to a recent PWC report, the UK would ease out of the World’s Top 10 Economies while Nigeria as one of the foremost world economy. It is really not surprising as close observers have since noticed the recurrent indices of an economy that is loosing steam on a number of fronts. This probably is the reason why Fareed Zacharia in an article in the Washington Post recently acclaimed that ‘the Great Britain has resigned as a World Power’. But our brothers and sisters that commit all they have including their lives to making it into Europe do not realise that it is far easier to be free on the shores of their ancestors than it would be elsewhere.

On the whole, the blame for the unprecedented scramble to European shores rests substantially on the West. Western policy often cast the rest of the world as either Third rate or Third World. Those who now want to make it at all cost into Europe are orphans of western policies. But it must be said that terrorist could also hide under cover of seeking political asylum to make to Europe thereby extending the frontiers of the Islamic State.

There is a scar on the conscience of the West, which ought to lead to a realization that the sooner a solution to the humanitarian crisis is found, the better it would be for the security of Europe and the world.

By Istifanus Yaro (public servant, researcher, writer and poet)

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of nor its associates

Pay Back! ISIS Militants Executed By Rival Rebel Group Called ‘The Mother State’

In a chilling case of an eye for an eye,a rebel group in Syria has responded to ISIS by beheading ISIS terrorists .. Hours after ISIS released a video where they beheaded 12 of their fighters, Jaysh al-Islam also released videos of their fighters capturing Islamic State fighters and slaughtering them.

In the video, the Jaysh Al-Islam soldiers,are dressed in the orange jump suits that are normally worn by prisoners of ISIS…The Islamic State’s captured soldiers, dressed in black and given something to drink before each of their faces are shown in the video ..They are forced to kneel as a commander announces:

“Allah did not make a disease without appointing a remedy to it.””The most serious calamity for our jihad today is a group of people who grow at a time of division among Muslims.
This group claimed to be the mother state and made Takfir [accused of apostasy] on other Muslims, shed their blood and looted their properties and dignities.They worsened… the ordeal of Muslims by corrupting their religion and livelihood and killing the jihadi leaders who did their best to help our stricken nation.

They wreaked havoc on our people in liberated areas and cut the supply route of jihadis.
They left… Tehran intact and instead they attacked our mosques.This is the penalty for what they have committed.We also call on their fellows to repent.”

  They are then shot in the back of the head at point blank range with shotguns.

ISIS Beheads Women For The First Time In Syria

Monitor says ISIS killed two women and their husbands in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province after they sought health remedies.  ISIS has beheaded two women for the first time, in eastern Syria’s Deir Ezzor province, a monitoring group said.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that ISIS beheaded the two women and their two husbands after accusing them of using “magic for medicine”.

It is not known what non-traditional health remedy the two couples had sought.  “It is the first time that the beheading of women, by the use of sword in public, has taken place in Syria,” the Observatory’s chief Rami Abdel Rahman told Al Jazeera.

The beheadings took place in the city of Deir Ezzor and the city of Mayadin. ISIS beheaded the first couple on Sunday and the second couple on Monday.

This is the first time the Observatory has documented the beheading of women in Syria. ISIS reportedly covered up both women and beheaded them, with many people watching, the Observatory said.

Credit: Al Jazeera

ISIS Executes 12 Rival Takfiri Militants In Syria

ISIS Takfiri terrorists have decapitated at least a dozen members of rival militant groups in Syria on charges of fighting against them. The ISIS extremists, in a video titled Repent Before You Are In Our Hands released on Thursday, claimed the murder of 12 captives near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The prisoners, dressed in orange jumpsuits, are seen pinned to the ground and kneeling in a field before masked ISIS militants force them to the ground and behead them with small knives.

ISIS said the 12 rival militants were captured following fierce clashes in Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus. Three of the men were identified as members of the foreign-sponsored terrorists group, Jaish al-Islam, which has been fighting Syrian government forces, and a fourth from al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.

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‘Elephant Rockets’ Kill Dozens In Damascus Suburb

The Syrian government has used the so-called elephant rockets in an attack on the Damascus suburb of Douma, killing at least 36 people, including children, according to activists. Aljazeera was there:

The rockets, named after the distinctive noise they make when they are launched, are improvised weapons made by attaching rocket motors to much larger bombs – a process that increases their destructive power while greatly reducing accuracy.

This greatly increases their destructive effect, while accuracy is lost and range is limited. On Wednesday, activists accused the government of using surface-to-surface missiles in Douma as clashes continued between opposition fighters and government forces. In video posted online of Tuesday’s attack, residents were seen scrambling to rescue a brother and sister trapped after a building was destroyed.

There were shouts of joy as the girl was pulled alive from the rubble while her brother could still be heard calling for help. More than 60 people, including many children, were injured in the bombardment, activists said.

Syria’s state-run SANA news agency said two shells struck Arnous Park in Damascus late on Tuesday as many people were out shopping ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, expected to begin on Thursday. It says the shells killed nine people and wounded 13.

Syrian Army Airstrikes Kill At Least 24

No fewer than 24 people, mostly civilians, were killed on Wednesday in airstrikes by Syrian army helicopters against two rebel-held areas in the north of the war-torn country, a monitoring group reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 16 people, including eight children, were killed when government helicopters dropped explosives-packed barrels on Tel Rifaat on the northern edge of Aleppo province.

The watchdog said the helicopters also killed eight civilians, including five from one family, with barrel bombs in the village of Latamneh on the northern fringe of Hama province.

The Syrian government has in recent years stepped up aerial attacks using barrel bombs against the rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The latest surge in the government’s air raids came after Bashar al-Assad’s overstretched troops suffered a series of setbacks by rebels, mainly jihadists.

Human rights organisations have repeatedly condemned the use of barrel bombs, saying they are indiscriminate in their targeting, cause many civilian casualties and that their use constitutes a war crime.

According to activists, no fewer than 220,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Syria’s conflict since it started in March 2011. (dpa/NAN)

Syrian, Iraqi Girls Shipped Naked After Being Sold At ISIS Slave Bazaars- UN

The United Nations says  ISIS terrorist group has been offering Syrian and Iraqi girls for sale by putting them on show “stripped naked” in “slave bazaars.”

Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Sexual Violence in Conflict Zainab Bangura made the harrowing revelation on Thursday while briefing journalists on her “scoping mission” to Syria, Iraq and some other countries in the region in April.

“Girls are literally being stripped naked and examined in slave bazaars” of ISIS, Bangura said, adding that the girls were “categorized and shipped naked off to Dohuk (Province) or Mosul or other locations to be distributed among ISIS leadership” and militants.

Bangura visited Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan from April 16 to 29 and interviewed girls and women who had escaped ISIS captivity and survived sexual violence.

“Women and girls are at risk and under assault at every point of their lives,” Bangura said, stressing that they are in danger at “every step of the way… in the midst of active conflict, in areas under control of armed actors, at check-points and border crossings, and in detention facilities.”

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Kassig’s Parents ‘Heartbroken’ by his Beheading

US aid worker Peter Kassig’s parents said they were “heartbroken” by the death of their son, after his beheading by Islamic State militants was shown in a video Sunday.

“We are heartbroken to learn that our son, Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, has lost his life as a result of his love for the Syrian people and his desire to ease their suffering,” Ed and Paula Kassig said in a statement posted on Twitter.

A video released by IS militants showed the beheading of Kassig, who took the name Abdul-Rahman after converting to Islam, and that of 18 men described as Syrian military personnel. His death was confirmed by President Barack Obama.

His parents said further that, “Fed by a strong desire to use his life to save the lives of others, Abdul-Rahman was drawn to the camps that are filled with displaced families and to understaffed hospitals inside Syria.”

“We know he found his home amongst the Syrian people, and he hurt when they were hurting.”

Kassig founded an aid group through which he trained some 150 civilians to provide medical aid to people in Syria. His group also gave food, cooking supplies, clothing and medicine to the needy.

“We are incredibly proud of our son for living his life according to his humanitarian calling,” the Kassigs wrote, using the Twitter handle @kassigfamily.

“We remain eternally grateful for the many, many words of support and prayers from all over the world on our son’s behalf.”

They said they were also “heartbroken” for the families of other Western captives beheaded by ISIS.

xpeter-kassig-isis.jpg.pagespeed.ic_.-XusGUM79k-650x333 peter-kassig

Credit: Yahoo News

UK Woman Jailed for Sending Cash to Jihadist Husband in Syria


A British woman who tried to send 20,000 euros ($25,000) to her husband fighting with Islamic State (IS) group in Syria was on Thursday jailed for 28 months and seven days.

 Amal El-Wahabi, 28, became the first person in Britain to be convicted of funding the jihadists following a trial in August, which heard how she persuaded a friend to smuggle the cash in her underwear.

The friend, Nawal Msaad, was found not guilty. She had been stopped in January at London’s Heathrow Airport, where she was trying to board a flight to Istanbul, with the bank notes concealed in a condom.

Sentencing El-Wahabi at England’s Old Bailey central criminal court in London, judge Nicholas Hilliard said her drug dealer husband Aine Davis had clearly gone to Syria to fight with IS.

“I am also satisfied that you knew he was engaged in violence with guns for extremist religious and ideological reasons and knew the money you were sending was destined for that purpose,” he said.

He said Davis had posted a profile picture on his WhatsApp social media account showing him brandishing an automatic weapon, and also sent El-Wahabi other similar photos.

The judge accepted that the jihadist had the idea to transfer the cash and El-Wahabi had agreed because she was “infatuated” with her husband, with whom she has two children under five. But he rejected calls to give her a suspended sentence.

“You even contemplated taking your children to Turkey to be nearer their father, when it should have been obvious to you it was in their interests they should be as far away from him as possible,” the judge said.

“He had no true regard for you. Any interest he had in you was only engaged when there was some advantage to him.”

Obama Seeks New Syria Strategy to Oust Assad & Defeat ISIS

President Barack Obama has asked his national security team to review US strategy toward Syria after concluding that the ISIS terrorist group may not be defeated with Bashar al-Assad in power, officials say.

Over the past week, the White House has convened four meetings of Obama’s national security team, which according to a senior official, were “driven to a large degree how our Syria strategy fits into our ISIS strategy,” CNN reports.

Obama’s long-contemplated strategy toward ISIS has come under sharp criticism as it has failed to halt the advance of terrorists in Iraq and Syria. The review is seen as a tacit admission that the strategy is not working.

“The president has asked us to look again at how this fits together,” a senior US official told CNN on condition of anonymity. “The long-running Syria problem is now compounded by the reality that to genuinely defeat ISIS, we need not only a defeat in Iraq but a defeat in Syria.”

Ben Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser, denied a formal strategy review but said Obama has joined with his national security team to discuss “what we’re targeting in Syria” and how “we’re supporting opposition and building them up as a counterweight to ISIS but also ultimately of course to the Assad regime.”

National Security Council spokesperson Alistair Baskey said Wednesday that “Assad has been the biggest magnet for extremism in Syria.” He emphasized that President Obama has made clear that “Assad has lost all legitimacy to govern.”

In a blunt memo to National Security Adviser Susan Rice last month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned that the Obama administration’s goal of ousting Assad was being undercut by its current military offensive against ISIS. The memo further said that the White House had no clear end game for the conflict.

The US launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq in August. A US-led coalition also began its military campaign against the group in Syria in late September.

In addition, the Pentagon plans to train and arm 5,000 “moderate” militants a year in Syria to battle both the government and the ISIS group.

A senior US official, however, told CNN that “it’s been clear for some time that supporting the moderate opposition in the hopes of toppling Assad, isn’t going to work.”

The ISIS terrorists– some of whom were amongst militants initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government– now control large parts of Syria and Iraq.

Credit: Press TV

I. S. ‘Retreating’ Kobane

Islamic State militants are retreating in parts of the strategic Syrian town of Kobane, a Kurdish official has said.

Idriss Nassan told the BBC IS had lost control of more than 20% of the town in recent days.

US defence officials say hundreds of militants have been killed around Kobane as US-led air strikes intensify.

The news came as US President Barack Obama and European leaders agreed on the need to do more to stop the IS advance in Iraq and Syria.

In a video conference, Mr Obama and the leaders of the UK, France, Germany and Italy agreed to step up support for an “inclusive political approach” in Iraq and training for local forces in Iraq and Syria, a statement by UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said.

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ISIS Eyes Rome!!!

ISIS has its sights set on Rome. The fanatical jihadists have published an image of their black flag with white Arab lettering flying above the Vatican on the cover of their English-language magazine Dabiq.


The cover story, “The Failed Crusade,” envisions the ancient Italian city under the rule of a Caliph and a hardline Sharia regime, according to the Jerusalem Post. The article in the online propaganda magazine calls on aspiring jihadists to target the Catholic Church and followers of the Christian faith. The Islamic State claims it will one day conquer Rome, threatening to “break [the] crosses” of infidels and sell and trade their women.

Main-ISIS tumblr_inline_n9yhf3sFEt1s39hja

Pope Francis has called for international action to stop the group and backed the US-led coalition that has been striking ISIS targets.

“It is lawful to kidnap the women of the infidels and use them as sex slaves,” the Dabiq piece said. Dabiq, named after a town in Syria where in 1516 the Ottomans defeated the Mamluks, establishing the last Islamic caliphate, also called on Muslims to kill “every Crusader possible,” according to a report in the Daily Mail.

Bosnian imam Bilal Bosnic, Italy’s most notorious jihadi recruiter, who admitted conscripting European Muslim converts to fight with ISIS, said extremist militants will bring Islam to the heart of Christendom, according to the Daily Mail.

“In time, the whole world will be an Islamic state,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure that even the Vatican will be Muslim.”

Kurds Hold off I.S. in Kobani as Fighters Strike in Iraq

 Kurdish defenders held off Islamic State militants in Syria’s border town of Kobani on Sunday, but the fighters struck with deadly bombings in Iraq, killing dozens of Kurds in the north and assassinating a provincial police commander in the west.

The top U.S. military officer suggested that Washington, which has ruled out joining ground combat in either Iraq or Syria, could nevertheless increase its role “advising and assisting” Iraqi troops on the ground in the future.

U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice said in a television interview that Turkey agreed to let bases be used by coalition forces for activities inside Iraq and Syria and to train moderate Syrian rebels in the fight against Islamic State.

A U.S.-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State fighters who hold swathes of territory in both Iraq and Syria, countries involved in complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.

After days of Islamic State advances, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said Kobani’s Kurdish defenders had managed to hold their ground. The Observatory said 36 Islamic State fighters, all foreigners, were killed the previous day, while eight Kurdish fighters had died. The figures could not be independently verified.


New Coalition Airstrike Around Kobane

An aircraft of the international coalition on Wednesday carried out a new air strike against Islamic State (IS) targets around the Syrian border town of Kobane, an AFP correspondent reported.

The air strike sent a cloud of thick black smoke billowing into the air from a hill on the eastern side of Kobane, the correspondent reported from the Turkish border.

It was the first air strike witnessed Wednesday after a flurry of strikes Tuesday which some sources said had helped Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) push back the IS militants.

Idris Nahsen, a Kurdish official from Kobane, said that the air strikes had been helpful.

“The situation has changed since Tuesday. YPG forces have pushed back IS forces,” said Nahsen, who himself moved to Turkey on Tuesday but now plans to go back.

The fighting for Kobane could still be heard on the Turkish side of the border and IS fighters could be seen moving around the edge of the city. The black flags planted by IS on Monday were still in place.

Meanwhile, the minaret of a mosque in the centre of Kobane that had been clearly visible from the Turkish side collapsed, the correspondent said. The cause was not immediately clear.

Rebels Seize Priest & 20 Christians in Syria

Jihadists in Syria have seized a priest and 20 other Christians in the latest abduction by militants in the war-torn country, the Franciscan Order said on Tuesday.

A statement from the order’s Custody of the Holy Land in Jerusalem said that parish priest Father Hanna Jallouf was seized on Sunday night in the village of Qunyeh, northwestern Syria.

It said that his abductors were “linked” to Al-Qaeda affiliate the Al-Nusra Front, and added that following the incident an unspecified number of Franciscan nuns took refuge with the villagers.

Senior Franciscan official Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, said the 62-year-old priest was seized along with 20 villagers.

“He has been kidnapped,” he told AFP in Jerusalem, expressing deep concern over the fate of the priest, a Syrian who has worked in Qunyeh for 12 years after a posting in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

“They are accusing them of being collaborators” with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Pizzaballa said, insisting that this was not true.

“We don’t know what to do. We don’t know with whom to talk, we’re totally unable to get in touch with anyone,” added Pizzaballa, the guardian of the Catholic Church’s sites in the Holy Land.

ISIS Seize Parts of Key Syrian Town

Islamic State jihadists pushed into the key Syrian town of Kobane on the Turkish border, seizing three districts in the city’s east after fierce street fighting with its Kurdish defenders.

Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, has become a strategic battleground between the IS group and its opponents, who include the United States and its Western and Arab allies.

Fresh air strikes by the US-led coalition on Tuesday hit positions held by Islamic State jihadists in the southwest of Kobane, according to an AFP journalist just across the border in Turkey. Taking Kobane would give the IS organisation control of a long stretch of the Syria-Turkey border.

The jihadists launched their latest assault on Kobane after a three-week siege with a wave of suicide bomb attacks, Mustefa Ebdi, a Kurdish activist from the town, said on his Facebook page.

After penetrating the city, they waged street battles against Kurdish defenders, sending hundreds of civilians fleeing towards the Turkish border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“They have taken the industrial zone, Maqtala al-Jadida and Kani Arabane in eastern Kobane after violent combat with Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters” who had far fewer men and arms, said the Observatory.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said street battles were now being fought in the south and west of Kobane.

IS jihadists had “retreated by a few streets in the eastern areas they seized yesterday, but the fighting has now spread to the south and west of the town,” Abdel Rahman said.

He said IS fighters had seized a number of buildings in the south and west of the town, including a hospital under construction on the western outskirts of Kobane.

Kobane activist Mustafa Ebdi said the latest air strikes had little effect.

“The strikes hit the Mishtenur area,” he said, referring to a plateau south of Kobane.

“But they (IS) aren’t gathered there. There are other places they should be hitting,” he said.

Kurdish fighters meanwhile ordered all civilians to evacuate Kobane, Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for Kurds in the city, told AFP, adding that some 2,000 people had left the city.

Parents of American held by I. S. Release Letter & Photos

The parents of an U.S. aid worker held hostage by Islamic State militants on Sunday released photographs of their son and parts of a letter he wrote them from captivity in which he says he is scared to die but at peace with his belief.

Peter Kassig, 26, was taken captive a year ago while doing humanitarian work in Syria, his family has said. He was threatened in an Islamic State video issued on Friday that showed the beheading of a British aid worker.

Ed and Paula Kassig of Indianapolis, Indiana, appealed for his release on Saturday in a video message.

kassig sea kassig child

On Sunday, they called for people to use the name he has taken since converting to Islam, Abdul-Rahman Kassig.

They also released photos of him working as a medic in Syria in 2013, fishing with his father on the Ohio River in southern Indiana in 2011, and – much younger – standing in his mother’s arms by a waterfall during a family camping trip in 2000.

Kassig’s parents said they were overwhelmed by the response from those who thought their boy was a hero for the humanitarian work he had been doing.

“We have also received many questions about our son’s conversion to Islam,” they said, adding that friends said his journey toward Islam began before he was taken captive, and that he voluntarily converted between October and December 2013.

Quoting from a letter he wrote them in June, they said he prays five times every day and takes the religion’s practices seriously, including adopting the name Abdul-Rahman. “We see this as part of our son’s long spiritual journey,” they said.

In the parts of the letter they released, Kassig thanked his parents and said it could not have been easy raising him.

“I am obviously pretty scared to die but the hardest part is not knowing, wondering, hoping, and wondering if I should even hope at all,” he wrote.

The letter added that he was in a “dogmatically complicated situation here, but I am at peace with my belief.”Kassig had been doing humanitarian work through Special Emergency Response and Assistance, an organization he founded in 2012 to treat refugees from Syria, his parents have said.

They have also said their son served in the U.S. Army during the Iraq war before being medically discharged. Pentagon records show he spent a year in the army as a Ranger and was deployed to Iraq from April to July 2007.

After leaving the army, Kassig became an emergency medical technician and traveled to Lebanon in May 2012, volunteering in hospitals and treating Palestinian refugees and those fleeing Syria’s civil war.

kassig work kassig

Kurds battle ISIS for Key Syria Town

Kurdish fighters backed by US-led air strikes battled Islamic State jihadists for control of a key Syrian town Sunday, while Turkey evacuated some border areas as mortar fire spilled over.

ISIS fighters seized part of a strategic hill overlooking the town of Kobane late on Saturday, a monitor said, but their progress was slowed by new strikes from the coalition of Washington and Arab allies.

A Kobane local official, Idris Nahsen, said ISIS fighters were just one kilometre (less than a mile) from the town and that air strikes alone were not enough to stop them.

He complained of a lack of coordination between the coalition and Kurdish fighters of the ground.

The dusty border town has become a crucial battleground in the international fight against ISIS, which sparked further outrage this weekend with the release of a video showing the beheading of Briton Alan Henning.

Turkey Backs Action Against ISIS

The Turkish government won parliamentary approval to deploy troops against the Islamic State group as Australia announced on Thursday that it was joining combat sorties against the jihadists in Iraq.

The vote by Turkish MPs came as IS fighters pressed an assault on a Syrian frontier town, whose capture would give the jihadists unbroken control of a long stretch of Turkey’s more than 900 kilometre (560 mile) border with Syria.

An AFP correspondent on the frontier saw huge plumes of smoke above the town of Kobane as outnumbered and outgunned Kurdish militia put up a desperate resistance.

Early Friday, the town’s defenders destroyed two IS armoured vehicles which had reached less than two kilometres (little more than a mile) from the town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Al Qaeda Threatens to Attack West

The head of Syria’s Al Qaeda branch said militants will attack the West in retaliation for U.S.-led air strikes in Syria and Iraq, and President Barack Obama acknowledged U.S. intelligence had underestimated the rise of Islamic State fighters.

U.S.-led air strikes hit a natural gas plant controlled by Islamic State fighters in eastern Syria, a monitoring body reported, part of an apparent campaign to disrupt one of the fighters’ main sources of income.

The monitoring group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said planes also struck a grain silo in northern Syria killing civilians. This could not be immediately confirmed.

U.S.-led strikes have so far failed to halt an advance by fighters in northern Syria on a Kurdish town: fighting raged between Islamic State militants and Kurdish forces near Kobani on the border with Turkey, where the past week’s battle caused the fastest refugee flight of Syria’s three-year civil war. Turkey returned fire after shells hit its side of the frontier.

The United States has been bombing Islamic State and other groups in Syria for nearly a week with the help of Arab allies, and hitting targets in neighboring Iraq since last month.

The head of Syria’s al Qaeda branch, the Nusra Front, a Sunni militant group which is a rival of Islamic State and has also been targeted by U.S. strikes, said Islamists would carry out attacks on the West in retaliation for the campaign.

“Muslims will not watch while their sons are bombed. Your leaders will not be the only ones who would pay the price of the war. You will pay the heaviest price,” Abu Mohamad al-Golani said in an audio message posted on pro-Nusra forums.

The U.S. strikes have created pressure on Nusra to reconcile with Islamic State, a move that would potentially create a single Sunni Islamist force in Syria and widen territory under its control.

Denmark Joins Coalition Against I. S.

 The Danish government says it is joining the U.S. led coalition to strike at the Islamic State extremist group, sending seven F-16 fighter jets to take part in airstrikes against the group in Iraq.

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt says her left-leaning government has a parliamentary majority backing the deployment of four operational planes and three reserve jets along with 250 pilots and support staff.

She said Friday a vote in Parliament is planned and is considered a formality. However, no date was immediately set for the vote.

The Netherlands has already agreed to join the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. Neither country plans to deploy in Syria.

Denmark has already contributed a transport plane to a U.S.-led humanitarian operation in northern Iraq.

FBI Identifies ISIS Executioner

Reports say that the United States has identified the masked Islamic State militant who murdered two kidnapped American journalists in separate videotaped beheadings.

FBI chief James Comey made this known to reporters at a briefing in Washington on Thursday, saying that,  “We believe we have identified the executioner…, I won’t tell you who it is.”

The British ambassador in Washington, Sir Peter Westmacott, had previously said that the allies were close to identifying the suspect.

Comey did not confirm or deny reports that the suspect in the killing is British, but said the FBI was concerned that another film from the Islamic State group features someone with a North American accent.

It features a masked militant in combat fatigues speaking in English.

 Comey said, “There’s no doubt that there’s someone speaking with a North American-accented English on that video, so that’s a big focus of ours right now.”

France Strikes I. S. in Iraq after U.S.-led Strikes in Syria

French fighter jets struck targets in Iraq on Thursday and the United States and its allies stepped up air raids in Syria against Islamic State militants who have taken over large areas of both countries.

France’s strikes were its first since Sept. 19 when Paris joined the United States military action against Islamic State in Iraq and followed the beheading of a French tourist, reported late on Wednesday, in Algeria in retaliation.

French government spokesman gave no details of the French raids on Iraq, and France has so far ruled out joining raids on Islamic State in Syria.

But Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian opened the door to possibly joining strikes in Syria, hours after a French tourist was beheaded by an Algerian Islamist group citing Paris’ military action against Islamic State in Iraq.

The death of French tourist Herve Gourdel, who was beheaded in Algeria 24 hours after an ultimatum was given to France to halt attacks in Iraq, appeared on toughen Paris’ resolve.


“The opportunity is not there today. We already have an important task in Iraq and we will see in the coming days how the situation evolves,” Le Drian told RTL radio.

US Strikes IS Oil Refineries in Syria

The United States bombed Islamic State-controlled oil refineries in Syria as President Barack Obama recruited more allies to fight the jihadist “network of death.”

US, Saudi and Emirati warplanes broadened their bombardment to target the oil installations in eastern Syria that have helped fund the jihadist group’s brutal rise from rebel faction to alleged global threat.

The strikes came as Obama urged leaders gathered at the UN General Assembly to join his coalition and convinced the Security Council to back a resolution to stem the flow of foreign fighters that has swelled the IS ranks.

Belgium and the Netherlands committed warplanes to Iraq and Britain said its parliament would vote Friday on following suit.

Obama told the UN about the Islamic State group, which has grabbed vast areas of Iraq and Syria that, “The United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death…,Today I ask the world to join in this effort.”

He added that “We will use our military might in a campaign of air strikes to roll back ISIL.”

Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly in New York

More Air strikes in Syria Hit Islamic State at Iraqi Border

U.S.-led forces carried out at least 13 air strikes in Syria close to the Iraqi border on Wednesday, a second day of targeting Islamic State militants who have seized land on both sides of the frontier, a group that tracks the Syrian war said.

Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told Reuters the raids had hit the border town of Albu Kamal and surrounding areas.

Albu Kamal, on the main Euphrates River valley highway, is one of the most important border crossings between Iraq and Syria, along a frontier that Islamic State wants to erase after seizing territory both sides and declaring a caliphate.

It links Islamic State’s de facto capital Raqqa in Syria with strategic front lines in western Iraq and militant-held territory down the Euphrates to the western and southern outskirts of Baghdad.

Obama to Face UN on Syrian Airstrike

Following the Tuesday airstrike in Syria, President Obama will face the United Nations General Assembly to defend his decision to bomb terror groups inside Syria without approval from the U.N. Security Council, Congress or an invitation from Syria.

Officials say that he will address the overall unease in the world given the new dangers posed by groups like ISIS and Khorasan, a senior administration.

Officials also add that more will be addressed by the president on the need to continue building the international coalition he and his administration have already begun to assemble.

U.S. & Arab Coalition Airstrike Hits ISIS in Syria


U. S.  and  Arab coalition have launched strikes from the air and sea against Islamic State militants in Syria on Tuesday, opening a new front in the battle against the brutal jihadist group.

The airstrikes focused on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, a U.S. official told reporters, though other locations were hit as well. 

The US Central Command said in a statement that Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates had joined Washington in carrying out the strikes.

 “Using a mix of fighter, bombers, remotely piloted aircraft and Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles” the coalition conducted 14 strikes against IS targets in Syria, it said.

The strikes “destroyed or damaged” multiple targets in the jihadists’ northern stronghold and near the border with Iraq including IS fighter positions, training compounds, command centres and armed vehicles.

They’re the first strikes against the terror group inside the country since President Barack Obama’s announcement this month that he was prepared to expand the American efforts beyond targets in Iraq.

All foreign partners participating in the strikes with the United States are Arab countries, a senior U.S. military official told reporters. Those nations are Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan. Diplomatic sources told reporters that Qatar was also involved, though it was not clear whether Qatar actually conducted airstrikes itself.

Damascus said that it had been informed by Washington of the air raids prior to the action on its soil. Syria’s opposition National Coalition welcomed the new strikes, but urged sustained pressure on Assad’s government.


130, 000 Syrian Refugees Fleeing ISIS to Turkey


Syrian refugees who have reached Turkey in the past 4 days, fleeing the advance of Islamic State militants now totals 130,000, Turkey’s deputy prime minister said Monday.

Numan Kurtulmus said Turkey is prepared for “the worst case scenario” should more refugees stream in.

The refugees have been flooding into Turkey since Thursday, escaping an Islamic State offensive that has pushed the conflict nearly within eyeshot of the Turkish border.

Although the numbers are high, Turkey says it is ready to react and respond to the conflict in Syria, which has pushed more than a million people over the border in the past 3½ years.


Al Qaeda Urges Branches to Unite Against US-led ‘War on Islam’


Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb urged their “brothers” in Iraq and Syria to “stop killing each other and unite against the American campaign and its evil coalition that threatens us all.”

Powerful Al-Qaeda branches in Yemen and North Africa issued an unprecedented joint statement Tuesday calling for jihadists in Iraq and Syria to unite against the common threat from a US-led coalition.

AQAP and AQIM also called on the people of 10 Arab countries that have joined the coalition against the Islamic State group to prevent their governments from acting against IS. And it promised “dark days” to the “alliance of infidelity and evil”.

Al-Qaeda’s leadership under Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egypt-born successor to group founder Osama bin Laden, has disavowed IS, which has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria. And it has its own branch, the Al-Nusra Front, fighting in Syria.

But the joint statement, released on two jihadist Twitter accounts, called for differences to be set aside in the face of the growing coalition.

“Make the unity of the infidel nations against you a reason for your unity against them,” it said, accusing Washington of “leading a Crusader campaign against Islam and all Muslims… Stop the infighting between you and stand as one against America’s campaign.”

The statement adds, “we call upon our people in… all the nations of this Satanic alliance… to stand before the face of their agent governments and prevent them — by all legitimate means — from going to war against Islam under the excuse of fighting terrorism.”

It also urged Syrian rebels to keep up their fight against President Bashar al-Assad, warning them to “beware of being tricked by America… and thus being diverted from your path” and becoming its “pawns”.

Both Yemen-based AQAP, seen by Washington as the network’s most dangerous branch, and AQIM have rejected IS’s declaration of an Islamic caliphate in June and said they remained loyal to Zawahiri.

Syrian Warplane Shot Down by I. S.

A group monitoring the civil war said said, Islamic State fighters have shot down a Syrian war plane using anti-aircraft guns on Tuesday,  which is the first time the group has shot down a military jet since declaring its cross-border caliphate in June.

According to a resident, the plane came down outside Islamic State’s stronghold of Raqqa city, 400 km (250 miles) northeast of Damascus, during air strikes on territory controlled by the group.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group which gathers information from a network of activists on the ground, reported five air raids on Raqqa on Tuesday. Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the organization, cited sources close to Islamic State as saying the plane had been shot down.

The Syrian air force has been bombing Islamic State-controlled territory in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir al-Zor on a near-daily basis since the group seized the Iraqi city of Mosul in June.

“We Will Degrade & Ultimately Destroy ISIL”- Obama


President Barack Obama has authorized air strikes against ISIL targets inside Syria for the first time, promising to destroy its fighters “wherever they exist”.

In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Obama also announced an expansion of strikes in Iraq, saying he would be dispatching nearly 500 more US troops to the country to assist its besieged security forces.

Obama called on Congress to authorize a programme to train and arm rebels in Syria who are fighting both the Islamic State group and Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Saudi Arabia, a crucial US ally in the Middle East, offered to host the training missions, part of Obama’s effort to persuade other nations to join with the US in confronting the self-declared jihadist fighters.

Obama said, “This is not our fight alone…”American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region.Our objective is clear: We will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL (Islamic State) through a comprehensive and sustained air strikes strategy.”


Breaking: Syrian Rebels Name New Leader


The new head of the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, once one of the strongest militias in the Syrian civil war, has urged fellow insurgents to fight on after a blast on Tuesday wiped out its senior leadership.

In a video on YouTube, Ahrar al-Sham said Hashem al-Sheikh, also known as “Abu Jaber”, had been named its new leader and Abu Saleh Tahan its new military chief. Another video showed a man identified as Abu Jaber exhorting his men to fight on. The explosion in northwestern Syria killed at least 12 including Ahrar al-Sham’s former leader Hassan Aboud, said the group which is part of the Islamic Front alliance fighting both the Syrian army and the now dominant Islamic State movement.

Reports have it that, the blast killed 28 of Ahrar al-Sham’s commanders, dealing a major blow to the organization that is believed to have received funds from Gulf states.

 Abu Jaber said on the video while eulogizing the dead that, “Jihadi men of our nation … do not let the crisis shake you or the calamity divide you… “Rise, let us die for what they have died for.”

Some 50 of the group’s leaders had gathered at a house when the blast went off inside. There has been no claim of responsibility for the blast, which took place in Syria’s Idlib province.

Obama Ready to Authorize Air Strikes in Syria


President Barack Obama is prepared to authorize air strikes in Syria as part of a strategy to battle the Islamic State. Obama is to lay out his strategy for fighting IS in a prime-time speech to the nation Wednesday evening.

Michele Flournoy, a former undersecretary of defense for policy under Obama who was among those who attended a dinner with him Monday, said the president is determined to fight the Islamic State “wherever their strategic targets are”, according to the Post.

Flournoy, who left the administration in 2012, that “this is not an organization that respects international boundaries…  “You cannot leave them with a safe haven..?.?. I expect him to be very candid.”

Syrian Rebel Leader Killed

The leader of one of Syria’s most powerful rebel groups has been killed along with dozens of other commanders in a bomb attack on a high-level meeting in Idlib province.

Hassan Abboud, the head of the Ahrar al-Sham brigade, was among up to 45 people killed on Tuesday at the meeting in an underground bunker near an ammunition dump outside Ram Hamdan. The Idlib meeting brought together Ahrar and a number of other brigades fighting as the Islamic Front alliance, such as Ahrar, Abdallah Azzam and the Iman brigades, to discuss a strategy to fight the Islamic State.

Activists named others killed in the attack: Abu Yazan al-Shami, a member of the Ahrar’s shura council, military field commanders Abu Talha al-Askari and Abu Yousuf Binnish, and Abu al-Zubeir, the head of the Iman brigade.

It is not known who staged the attack but Islamic State sympathisers hailed the death of Abboud on social media.

Iraq Air Strikes ‘Kill Top I.S Members’

Operation Iraqi Freedom II/ Operation Al Fajr

A top I. S military commander has been reportedly killed in an airstrike on the northern city of Mosul. Iraq’s defence ministry also reports that a top aide to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in a strike on Mosul, but neither death has been confirmed.

Iraqiya TV quoted defence officials as saying Abu Alaa al-Iraqi, head of the IS military council in the city of Tal Afar, had died in an air strike. Prior reports on social media had suggested that Al-Baghdadi himself had been killed in a separate strike on Mosul. But the defence ministry said intelligence suggested the strike had killed one of the leader’s senior aides instead.

It is however unclear whether the latest strikes were by US or Iraqi forces.

ISIS Post Photo of Baby with Rifle


ISIS militants have recently released a photo of a baby with a Kalashnikov rifle in Syria.

The photograph was posted by a British woman who has reportedly joined the ISIS in Syria and is currently married to one of the militants. The British woman’s parents say the picture may be of her new family. She also posted a picture of herself holding a shotgun.

David Cameron Reacts to ISIL’s Threat.

After the release of a gruesome video, showing another American beheaded by ISIL terrorist on Tuesday; the group also threatened to kill, David Haines, a British Captive.


Reacting to their threat, British Premier, David Cameron said, the ISIL Takfiri militants pose a threat to the British people, adding that,

“As I have said consistently over the last few weeks, ISIL terrorists speak for no religion. They threaten Syrians, Iraqis, Americans and British people alike and make no distinction between Muslims, Christians or any other faith…”

Last month, a footage showing the decapitation of US journalist James Foley by ISIL was released in retaliation to US airstrikes against the Takfiri group in Iraq. The video also warned that the group would slay Steven Sotloff, who was being held hostage by the militants, if the US president did not halt the airstrikes.

ISIL has executed Sotloff and posted the video displaying his beheading on the internet, the SITE Intelligence Group, a research organization that tracks terrorist web postings, said on Tuesday.

“If verified, this is a despicable and barbaric murder,” Cameron said, adding that he would hold a Cobra emergency meeting on Wednesday to “review these latest developments.”

The British Premier also added that the Bristsh government would do all it could to protect its people from the ISIL terrorists.

UN Peacekeepers Under Attack by Syrian Rebels


Filipino UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights have been attacked by Syrian rebels who are also holding dozens of Fijian troops hostage.

The Philippine Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin informed reporters on Saturday that Filipino troops operating in one UN encampment have been “extricated,” while soldiers in another encampment were “now under attack”. Gazmin said the attack started early on Saturday Syrian time.

Syrian rebels have seized 44 Fijian peacekeepers two days ago and have demanded for 75 Filipinos operating within two separate UN encampments to hand over their weapons, which they rebuffed.