Archive for February 20, 2018

Pentagon to Release Ballistic Missile Defense Review in Coming Weeks

February 20, 2018

The Defense Department has awarded a $6.56 billion contract to the Boeing Company to oversee another expansion of the missile defense base at Fort Greely in Alaska. (Photo/KUAC/

OAN Newsroom UPDATED 8:34 AM PT — Tues. February 20, 2018

Source Link: Pentagon to Release Ballistic Missile Defense Review in Coming Weeks

{Peace through strength. – LS}

The Pentagon is expected to release a major review on ballistic missile defense in the coming weeks.

$12.9 billion is requested for ICBM defense in the Pentagon’s 2019 budget proposal.

The White House budget proposal says more funding will go toward the capability and capacity for the U.S. to detect, defeat, and defend against North Korea.

The budget includes over nine billion dollars for the Missile Defense Agency.

It also requests billions more for interceptor missiles, an additional missile field in Alaska, and an increase in deployed interceptors by 2023.

Turkey will lay siege to Syria’s Afrin in coming days — Erdogan

February 20, 2018
Turkish troops will encircle the Kurdish-held Syrian city of Afrin “in the coming days,” effectively starting its siege, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told ruling party MPs, local media reported.

Speaking to members of the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) on Tuesday, Erdogan said the city center of Afrin will soon be besieged by advancing Turkish troops and allied Syrian militias, according to Hurriyet.

Read more

Turkish forces are seen at Mount Barsaya in northeast of Afrin, January 28, 2018 / Khalil Ashawi

“Preparations in the field take some time. In the coming days, we will lay siege to Afrin city; it’s very important that everywhere we go should remain secure,” Erdogan said, as cited by Hurriyet. He added: “Thanks to the siege, the YPG will have no room for bargaining with the Syrian regime.”

Erdogan’s statement comes as Turkish troops are advancing towards Afrin, “liberating” village after village. The offensive, codenamed Operation Olive Branch, was launched in January this year with the stated goal of driving the Kurdish YPG militia group – deemed a terrorist organization in Turkey – out of the area.

On Tuesday morning, the Turkish military said the troops had “neutralized” 74 Kurdish and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) fighters, increasing the number of slain militants to 1,715.

“The ground operation, supported by air- and ground-based fire support assets, continues successfully as planned,” it added.

Earlier this week, media reports emerged suggesting an agreement has been reached between the local Kurdish administration and Damascus, under which Syrian pro-government forces would be allowed to enter the area. On Monday, Syrian media reported that government troops would arrive in Afrin “within hours.”

However, no official confirmation of the news has been announced, with Kurdish officials denying that such an agreement exists. “There is no agreement; there is only a call from us for the Syrian army to come in and protect the borders,” YPG spokesman Nouri Mahmoud told Reuters by phone on Monday.

Ankara has threatened to confront Syrian forces if they come to the aid of the Kurds, and also dismissed reports on the Kurdish-Syrian deal.

READ MORE: Erdogan: Turkey’s Syria op will move to Idlib after mission completed in Afrin

“If the regime enters [Afrin] to clear out the YPG, then there is no problem,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Monday, as cited by state news agency Anadolu. However, he added: “If they are entering [Afrin] to provide protection to the YPG, then no one can stop Turkey or Turkish soldiers.”

Meanwhile, experts say Syrian leader Bashar Assad and his government are now playing a key role in stabilizing the situation in and around Afrin. “It is ironic because both the Kurds and the Turks at different times stated their absolute condemnation of the Syrian government and unwillingness to deal with President Assad or his government,” Danny Makki, Syria commentator, told RT.

Now both regional actors are looking at Assad as “some sort of peacemaker,” Makki said. While Turkey, which is losing soldiers and armor, is desperate to end the fighting, the Kurds would prefer to do a deal with Damascus rather than make one with the Turks “on very weak terms,” he suggested.

‘We will level Tel Aviv to the ground’ senior Iranian official warns Israel

February 20, 2018

By Juliane Helmhold February 20, 2018

Source Link: We will level Tel Aviv to the ground’ senior Iranian official warns Israel

{Loose lips sink Iranian nuke programs. – LS}

“The US and Israeli leaders don’t know Iran and don’t understand the power of resistance and therefore, they continuously face defeat.”

Any attacks carried out against Iran will result in the destruction of Tel Aviv, Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran’s Expediency Council, warned Israel on Monday, according to the Fars News Agency.

Quoted by Iran’s semi-official government news site, Rezaei, in response to Netanyahu’s comments at the Munich Security Conference, asserted that “If they [Israel] carry out the slightest unwise move against Iran, we will level Tel Aviv to the ground and will not give any opportunity to Netanyahu to flee.”

“The US and Israeli leaders don’t know Iran and don’t understand the power of resistance and therefore, they continuously face defeat,” he was quoted as saying in an interview with Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated Al Manar News.

“Today, the situation of the US and Israel indicate their fear of the Zionist regime’s collapse and the US decline,” he added in the interview.

Israel came in direct conflict with Iran on February 10, when an IAF attack helicopter shot down an Iranian operated drone, and later took out its command center in Syria.

According to the Iranian Mehr News Agency, Rezaei also highlighted that, while it is true that Iran supports what it calls the “Resistance Front” which stretches from Tehran to Gaza, the regime does not interfere in the Palestinian Territories and Lebanon but merely offers advisory help.

He added that Iran never wants to dominate the countries in the region, it wants them to stand on their own feet.  {LOL – LS}

Rezaei’s pointed comments came in response to Netanyahu’s speech at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday where the Israeli prime minister warned Iran, “not to test Israel’s resolve.”

Netanyahu said at the conference, which was attended by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, that Israel “will act not just against Iran’s proxies that are attacking us, but against Iran itself.”

Commenting on the Islamic Republic’s influence in region, Netanyahu emphasized that through nefarious moves in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Gaza, Iran is trying to change the status quo. If they do change the status quo, he said, the rule he will follow is one established by the early Zionists when dealing with problems: “They said nip things in the bud, stop them before they get big. That’s basically what our policy is.”

Zarif, who addressed the conference later in the day, dismissed Netanyahu’s presentation as a “cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response.”


Lavrov issues rare rebuke of Iran for calling for Israel’s destruction

February 20, 2018

Source: Lavrov issues rare rebuke of Iran for calling for Israel’s destruction – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

 FEBRUARY 19, 2018 20:12
“We have stated many times that we won’t accept the statements that Israel, as a Zionist state, should be destroyed and wiped off the map.”
 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting in Moscow, Russia
 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov attends a meeting in Moscow, Russia. (photo credit: SERGEI KARPUKHIN/REUTERS)

“We have stated many times that we won’t accept the statements that Israel, as a Zionist state, should be destroyed and wiped off the map. I believe this is an absolutely wrong way to advance one’s own interests,” Lavrov said in Moscow at the Valdai International Discussion Club conference entitled “Russia in the Middle East: Playing on All Fields.”

The two-day conference brought together heads of think-tanks throughout the Middle East, from Libya to Iran, including Dore Gold, head of the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs, and Amos Yadlin, who heads the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv.

Gold, a former director-general of the foreign ministry, was in the audience for Lavrov’s statement, and deemed it – being said in the presence of Zarif – as very significant, “because it is blatant criticism by the foreign minister of Russia of their Iranian ally.”

Asked how Zarif responded, Gold said the Iranian diplomat just smiled, adding that, “he is very good at smiling.”

“By the same token” Lavrov continued, “we oppose attempts to view any regional problem through the prism of fighting Iran.”

According to Lavrov, the US position on issues such as Syria, Yemen, and “even the latest developments around the Palestinian issue – including Washington’s announcement of its decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital – are largely motivated by this anti-Iranian stance.”

Zarif, in his comments, referred to last week’s incident on the northern border where the incursion of an Iranian drone led Israel to shoot it down and attack Syrian and Iranian installations inside Syria. An Israeli F16 was shot down during those attacks.

“Israel has violated Syrian sovereignty. So for the first time in 36 years, Syrian defense forces managed to bring down an Israeli plane. Is this a catastrophe? Is this a strategic complication, or is the fact that Israel violated the airspace of a sovereign state a strategic catastrophe?” Zarif asked.

He continued: “Israel has to put a stop to its aggression. Don’t look for excuses, such as drones. We need to stop this aggression, and if anyone takes such an action against another country, it is possible to react.”

On Sunday at the Munich Security Conference, which Zarif also attended, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu displayed a piece of the downed drone and confirmed that Iran has been denying that it sent the unmanned aerial vehicle.

“Well, here’s a piece of that Iranian drone, or what’s left of it after we shot it down,” Netanyahu said. “I brought it here so you can see for yourself. Mr. Zarif, do you recognize this? You should – it’s yours.”

AWESOME: Israel successfully tests Arrow-3 Missile Defense system

February 20, 2018

Source Link: AWESOME: Israel successfully tests Arrow-3 Missile Defense system

{Not a moment too soon. – LS}

Israel has successfully tested it’s newest Arrow-3 missile in it’s Arrow Missile Defense System:

FOX NEWS – Israel successfully tested its new Arrow missile defense system Monday, the Defense Ministry announced in a tweet, the accomplishment capping a program that’s seen a series of delays and cancellations.

The test was carried out in cooperation with the United States’ Missile Defense Agency.

“A short while ago, the Defense Ministry and American MDA carried out a planned flight test of its Arrow weapons system, with an Arrow 3 interceptor,” the Defense Ministry tweeted. “The Arrow 3 interceptor was launched and carried out its mission.”

The test came after several aborted attempts in recent months. In January, an exercise was called off because of a communication glitch that resulted in a data transfer problem. In December, a test was canceled after safety concerns arose when the Anchor-type target missile — which was fired from a jet — experienced a malfunction.

“The experiment we conducted today was very complex,” Boaz Levy, Deputy CEO of Israel Aerospace Industries and manager of its Systems, Missiles & Space Group, said in a statement. “In the experiment, the interceptor simulated a full military scenario and the rocket did the route in full. And, if it had a real target, would have hit it. We are very pleased with the result.”

Israel Aerospace Industries worked together with Boeing to develop the Arrow-3.

Moshe Patel, the director of Israel’s Missile Defense Organization, said in a statement that a more advanced test is scheduled in Alaska later this year.

“The Arrow-3 is designed for long-range threats, as well as unconventional threats,” said Patel, appearing to hint at Iran’s ballistic capabilities. “We are aiming for 100 percent success rate.”

Sweet! It’s awesome to see Israel successful in testing its defense systems in order to protect itself against ballistic missile threats from Iran.

Defense Minister: Israel destroyed a 5th Hamas terror tunnel

February 20, 2018

February 19, 2018

Inside a Hamas underground tunnel (AP/Jack Guez)

As the Israeli Air Force pounds Hamas targets for the second time in 48 hours in reaction to a rocket attack, Defense Minister Liberman confirmed that Israel destroyed a fifth Hamas tunnel.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Hours after a rocket landed in open territory in Israel after being shot from the Gaza Strip Sunday night, Israel hit back with several airstrikes, including hitting what the IDF called “underground infrastructure.” The euphemism was clear to those used to reading between the lines of military-speak, but Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman openly called it what it was later in the day.

“Last night, we destroyed a terror tunnel near Kerem Shalom,” he said Monday at the weekly meeting of his Yisrael Beytenu faction in the Knesset.

No other details about the target were forthcoming.

This was the second day in a row that a terror tunnel was struck. On Sunday, the IDF confirmed that 18 Hamas targets were hit overnight Saturday following the wounding of four Israeli soldiers by explosive devices hidden at the Gaza Strip’s border fence earlier that day. According to Palestinian reports, Israeli jets fired around 10 missiles at a Hamas tunnel located in an agricultural area east of Rafah.

This is by now the fifth time in recent months that Israel has destroyed such an underground passageway emanating from the Hamas-ruled territory. In October, the IDF used explosives to blow up an attack tunnel belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, killing 14 terrorists, including two senior commanders. In December, using unspecified means, the army demolished a kilometer-long Hamas tunnel that began in Khan Younis and extended hundreds of meters into Israel. And just last month, the military destroyed a Hamas tunnel that crossed into Israel under the Kerem Shalom Crossing, through which hundreds of trucks bring goods into Gaza every day.

Over the past year, the army has been constructing an underground barrier around the Gaza Strip that is meant to block attempts to dig into Israel. The discovery of existing tunnels has been credited to a combination of unspecified cutting-edge technology and intelligence work