Archive for April 15, 2018

US PRIORITY IS TO ENSURE IRAN DOES NOT ‘TAKE OVER’ SYRIA, HALEY SAYS

April 15, 2018

Haley acknowledged regional concerns and said, “We all know our work in Syria is not done.”

BY MICHAEL WILNER APRIL 15, 2018 20:48 Via The Jerusalem Post

Source Link: US PRIORITY IS TO ENSURE IRAN DOES NOT ‘TAKE OVER’ SYRIA, HALEY SAYS

{Removing the ‘welcome mat’ – LS}

WASHINGTON – Deterring Iran’s entrenchment in Syria is one of US President Donald Trump’s top three priorities there, guiding his policy-making on where to station troops in the war-torn country and for how long, US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley asserted on Sunday.

Her statement comes amid reports of strains between the Trump administration and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government over the US role in providing a buffer between Iranian troops and Israel’s border. Trump in recent weeks has vowed to pull US troops out of Syria entirely, prompting alarm in Jerusalem that Israel’s fight against Iran would be waged alone.

In interviews with a series of Sunday morning shows, Haley touted the success of a joint strike conducted by US, French and British forces over the weekend that sought to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for his use of chlorine and sarin gases against civilians in the town of Douma on April 7.

She said the strike was prompted by the president’s commitment to prevent the normalization of chemical weapons use, calling it a top priority of his administration.

A second priority, Haley said, was the complete defeat of Islamic State forces that once held territory in Syria.

“Then, thirdly, we want to make sure that the influence of Iran doesn’t take over the area,” she said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “They continue to cause problems throughout the region, and we want to make sure that there is a hold.

The allied strike on Assad’s chemical weapons infrastructure set the program back “years,” Haley said. The ambassador ruled out direct US talks with Assad over ending the conflict because of his “brutality” in targeting innocents throughout the course of the war.

Haley said the operation was not intended to overthrow the embattled dictator or “start a new war” in a country now seven years into a bloody conflict among forces loyal to Assad, opposition groups and terrorist organizations.

It was rather meant to send a message that “the president is watching,” Haley said. Assad, she continued, “now dictates his own life.”

Regional powers responded to the strike with a collective shrug, as even the Pentagon acknowledged the attack would not necessarily prevent Assad from continuing to deploy chemical arms.

Netanyahu, for his part, welcomed the strike, while adding that Iran’s march across Syria was of equal concern to Assad’s use of chemical weapons – and equally warranted military action.

Haley acknowledged regional concerns in her interviews and said, “We all know our work in Syria is not done.”

Friday’s precision strike volleyed more than 100 missiles at three targets that US officials said were critical to Assad’s chemical weapons program, including a research and development center, processing facilities and storage facilities.

“This was not muscle flexing,” Haley told CBS’s Margaret Brennan. “We set their chemical weapons program back years.”

Israel destroys ‘longest and deepest’ Gaza tunnel

April 15, 2018

BBC News April 15, 2018

Source Link: Israel destroys ‘longest and deepest’ Gaza tunnel

{Imagine if all that work had been for something good. – LS}

The Israeli military has disabled a major tunnel dug by militants which reached into Israel from the Gaza Strip, officials say.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said it was the longest and deepest tunnel of its kind Israel had discovered.

A military spokesman said it had been dug since the 2014 Gaza war, when Israel destroyed more than 30 tunnels which it said were meant for attacks.

Israel is using sophisticated measures to thwart tunnels dug by militants.

Military spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus said the tunnel had been dug by Hamas and began in the area of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. He said it penetrated several metres into Israel in the direction of Nahal Oz, but did not yet have an exit.

Map of Israel and Gaza

The tunnel stretched “several kilometres” into Gaza and connected with other tunnels from which attacks could be launched, he said.

Israel disabled the tunnel over the weekend, according to the military. “We filled the tunnel with material that renders it useless for a very long period of time,” Col Conricus said.

It was the fifth Gaza tunnel to be destroyed by the Israeli military in recent months, Col Conricus said.

Some of the tunnels have been built by Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad and others by Hamas, the Islamist group which controls Gaza.

Since last year, Israel has been using special equipment to detect the presence of tunnels, and is building a hi-tech barrier above and below ground along its border with Gaza to prevent new tunnels being dug.

 

Netanyahu Expresses Israel’s ‘Full Support’ for US-Led Syrian Strike

April 15, 2018

By: United with Israel Staff April 15, 2018

Source Link: Netanyahu Expresses Israel’s ‘Full Support’ for US-Led Syrian Strike

{Mutual respect…something Obama knew nothing about. – LS}

President Trump’s resolve and Israel’s support remain unchanged,” Netanyahu said, referring to a US-led attack on sites connected to Syria’s chemical weapons program.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday expressed Israel’s “full support” for a US-led attack on sites connected to Syria’s chemical weapons program.

US, United Kingdom and French forces on Friday fired more than 100 missiles at Syrian military sites in response to President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack on Douma, near Damascus, a week ago which killed some 200 civilians.

“A year ago, I declared Israel’s full support for President Trump’s decision to take a stand against the use and spread of chemical weapons,” Netanyahu said in a statement, referring to a previous US strike against a Syrian air base with a barrage of cruise missiles in April 2017, following a sarin gas attack by the Assad regime on Khan Sheikhoun that killed about 100 people and affected about 200 others.

“President Trump’s resolve and Israel’s support remain unchanged,” Netanyahu underscored.

“Early [Saturday] morning, under American leadership, the United States, France and the United Kingdom demonstrated that their commitment is not limited to proclamations of principle,” Netanyahu praised the Western allies.

Netanyahu further stated that “it should be clear to President Assad that his reckless efforts to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction, his wanton disregard for international law and his provision of a forward base for Iran and its proxies endanger Syria.”

On Sunday Netanyahu told British Prime Minister Theresa May that “the important international message of the attack is zero tolerance for the use of non-conventional weapons.”

He added that this policy also needs to be expressed in preventing “terrorist states and groups” from acquiring nuclear abilities, meaning Iran. He reiterated that the “main element that is subverting the Middle East more than any other” is Iran, and that Assad must understand that when he allows Iran and its proxies to establish a military presence in Syria, he “is endangering both Syria and the stability of the entire region.

“A perfectly executed strike,” President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday in the aftermath of his second decision in just over a year to attack Syria. “Could not have had a better result. Mission Accomplished!”

The strikes “successfully hit every target,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said at a briefing, referring to the following three targets: a chemical weapons research and development site in the Damascus area, a chemical weapons storage facility near Homs and a chemical weapons “bunker” a few miles from the second target.

The missile strikes on three chemical-weapons sites in Syria represent a relatively small-scale action, while US Defense Secretary James Mattis said it was a “one time shot.”
 

Former Mossad chief: We must take the Iranian threats very seriously 

April 15, 2018

Source: Former Mossad chief: We must take the Iranian threats very seriously – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

Yatom says the Iranian drone Israel shot down was an exact replica of a US drone that fell in Iran.

BY JPOST.COM STAFF
 APRIL 15, 2018 15:42
Israel should prepare for a possible conflict with Iran, former Mossad chief Danny Yatom warned a day after the US-led attack in Syria and hours after mystery explosions rocked Iranian bases there.

In an interview on Sunday on 103 FM Radio, Yatom referred to the American-British-French attack on Syria as “a symbolic move, without any strategic significance.”

 “We are on a collision course with the Iranians and I hope that this wont escalate into a direct confrontation. They have accused us of attacking Iranian targets and  killing of their people,” he said.
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“We must take the Iranian threats on Israel very seriously,” Yatom said. “My acquaintance with the Iranians and past cases tell me that when they issue threats, they follow up on them. Looking at Iran’s violent history will find that they were behind attacks on many Jewish and Israeli facilities. They could also instigate a local incident on the Golan Heights, we have no doubt that Hezbollah acts as an extension of Iran’s will. “

Yatom also addressed the Iranian attack drone that Israel destroyed after it penetrated Israeli airspace earlier this month.

“It was a sophisticated operation. The UAV was almost an exact replica of the US drone that fell in their territory,” the former head of Israel’s spy organization said. “If it had exploded somewhere in Israel, it may not have been possible to identify it as an Iranian-manufactured drone.”

“We are in a tough neighborhood, where there is no mercy towards the weak, so we have to stay strong and ever grow stronger to maintain our deterrence,” said Yatom. “We were alone in the battle… The attack over the weekend was purely symbolic and a drop in the ocean. The strike should have hit Assad’s palace in order to truly scar him.

Yatom stressed that Moscow does not share Israel’s interests when it comes to Syria.

“Once we thought the relationship between Bibi and Putin would succeed in overcoming the gap, but we were mistaken.”

UN Security Council rejects Russian condemnation of US “aggression”

April 15, 2018

Apr 14, 2018 @ 20:50 Debka File

Source Link: UN Security Council rejects Russian condemnation of US ‘aggression’

{The UN stamp of approval. – LS}

The UN security voted Saturday to reject the Russian resolution condemning “aggression” against Syria by the US and its allies. The emergency council session was called by Russia after the US, British, French missile strike Syrian chemical sites following a suspected Syrian army poison agent attack on Douma last Saturday. Only Russia, China and Bolivia voted in favor of the draft resolution. Eight countries voted against the draft, while four abstained. President Trump tweeted earlier, “Mission accomplished!” after the strike and Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May agreed it had been a success.

 

Syria attack: ‘Huge blast’ at Iranian military base in Aleppo after ‘fighter jet attack’

April 15, 2018

By MARK CHANDLER
PUBLISHED: 22:10, Sat, Apr 14, 2018 | UPDATED: 22:29, Sat, Apr 14, 2018
Via Express

Source Link: Syria attack: ‘Huge blast’ at Iranian military base in Aleppo after ‘fighter jet attack’

{Shouldn’t there be proof first?….just kidding. – LS}

A HUGE blast was heard near an Iranian military base in Syria this evening, amid unconfirmed reports it was attacked by unidentified aircraft.

The base was in the Jabal Azzan region south of Aleppo, a Syrian government-controlled rural region.

People claimed to have seen explosions at the site and there are unconfirmed reports of casualties.

Syrian media reported it was attacked by Israeli aircraft this evening.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, reported the blast but said the cause was unknown.

Media linked to Hezbollah later claimed there had been no airstrike, blaming explosives detonating in a warehouse.

Last week, Russia blamed Israel for an attack on a Syrian airbase that killed at least 12 people.

Moscow claimed morning that two Israeli fighter jets had launched the attack on the T4 base.

The Russian Defence Ministry said the F-15 planes had carried out the strikes from Lebanese air space.

And it claimed Syrian air defence systems had shot down five of eight missiles fired.

The Israeli military made no comment on the claims.

It comes after forces from the US, UK and France launched a series of strikes against alleged chemical weapons facilities in the country overnight.

The western powers said on Saturday their missile attacks struck at the heart of Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

The United States, France and Britain launched 105 missiles overnight in retaliation for a suspected poison gas attack in Syria a week ago, targeting what the Pentagon said were three chemical weapons facilities including a research and development in Damascus’ Barzeh district and two installations near Homs.

The bombing was the biggest intervention by Western countries against Assad and his superpower ally Russia, but the three countries said the strikes were limited to Syria’s chemical weapons capabilities and not aimed at toppling Assad or intervening in the civil war.