Archive for July 24, 2018

Turkey told U.S. it opposes sanctions on Iran: foreign minister

July 24, 2018

by Reuters Tuesday Jul 24, 2018 The Foreign Desk

Source Link: Turkey told U.S. it opposes sanctions on Iran: foreign minister

{Who you are has a lot to do with who you hang out with. – LS}

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey has told American officials it opposes U.S. sanctions on Iran and is not obliged to implement them, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump has pulled the United States out of a 2015 nuclear pact with Iran and ordered U.S. sanctions on Tehran, while a senior State Department official said Washington has told allies to cut imports of Iranian oil by November

Turkey has criticized Trump’s move to withdraw from the nuclear pact and has publicly resisted the U.S. call to cut oil imports from Iran.

“We do not have to adhere to the sanctions imposed on a country by another country. We don’t find the sanctions right either,” Cavusoglu told a news conference in Azerbaijan.

“We held meetings with the United States in Ankara and told them openly: Turkey gets oil and gas from Azerbaijan, Iran, Russia and Iraq. If I don’t buy from Iran now, where am I supposed to meet that need from?” Cavusoglu said.

Last week U.S. Treasury and State Department officials met Turkish counterparts in Ankara to discuss sanctions on Iran. Ankara said authorities were working to prevent Turkey being hurt by the measures.

Turkey depends on imports for almost all of its energy needs. In the first four months of this year, Turkey bought more than 3 million tonnes of crude oil from Iran, almost 55 percent of its total crude supplies, according to data from the Turkish energy watchdog (EPDK).

Ties between Ankara and Washington, NATO allies, have been strained over a host of issues including several legal cases.

A Turkish court last week ruled to keep American pastor Andrew Brunson in jail, in a case that has deepened existing rifts and jeopardized the procurement of Lockheed Martin F-35 jets by Turkey.

The U.S. Senate passed a bill last month including a measure that prohibits Turkey from buying the jets because of Brunson’s imprisonment and Turkey’s purchase of Russia’s S-400 air defense system, which are incompatible with NATO systems.

Cavusoglu, however, said there were no issues with the procurement of the jets and the United States could not exclude Turkey from the project.

“The United States needs to understand that it is not possible to get a result from Turkey through sanctions. They will see results if they approach Turkey with dialogue and respect,” he said.

“We will not bow down to such pressures, sanctions or threats. Everyone will get used to the new Turkey.”

(Reporting by Ali Kucukgocmen and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Humeyra Pamuk and Dominic Evans)


Israels NIS 30 billion plan to thwart missile strikes

July 24, 2018

Source: Israels NIS 30 billion plan to thwart missile strikes

New 10-year plan entails bolstering Israel’s missile defense, covering the entire country, amid assessments next war will include massive missile fire at Israeli home front; this is the most expensive plan in IDF and Israeli security history.

The Security Cabinet is set to approve on Sunday a new NIS 30 billion ($8.225 billion) plan to arm the IDF with defense weapons to thwart missile strikes amid the rising tensions on both the northern and southern fronts.

The multi-annual plan, which is expected to start in 2019 and end in late 2028, is the most expensive plan in IDF and Israeli security history.The plan will allocate massive resources to the IDF for the protection of the entire Israeli home front from the north to the south, increasing the IDF’s missile arsenal and developing and purchasing advanced defensive measures.

Iron Dome (Photo: Ministry of Defense Spokesperson and Public Relations Department)

Iron Dome (Photo: Ministry of Defense Spokesperson and Public Relations Department)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, the heads of the National Security Council and other senior defense establishment officials have been holding secret discussions about the details of the plan in recent months.

A senior government official described the plan as unprecedented in scope. “There hasn’t been such a plan, certainly not at such a massive cost and scope. This is a wide scale defensive and offensive plan,” he said.

IDF Chief of Staff Eisenkot, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Lieberman (Photo: Shaul Golan)

IDF Chief of Staff Eisenkot, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Lieberman (Photo: Shaul Golan)

According to assessments in the defense establishment, the next war will include massive fire of advanced missiles at the Israeli home front. In order to prevent mass casualties and significant damages to the home front, Israel will have to neutralize these missiles immediately upon their launching.

To that end, the defense establishment will increase Israel’s missile defense apparatus by hundreds of percents under the new plan.

Arrow 3 (Photo: Defense Ministry Spokesman)

Arrow 3 (Photo: Defense Ministry Spokesman)

In addition to bolstering the Israeli home front in time of war, the new plan will add work to Israel’s defense industries factories, requiring the recruitment of additional employees and the allocation of resources to increase the production in these factories.”The plan will particularly increase the country’s emergency resilience, even in the case of multiple fronts,” the senior government official said. “The plan will increase and expand defensive measures for Israeli citizens and allow the IDF to have the strategic depth it needs to bring to a clear military victory quickly.”

David's Sling (Photo: Defense Ministry)

David’s Sling (Photo: Defense Ministry)

The allocation of NIS 30 billion for the plan reflects “the long-term governmental thinking, while setting long-term national goals, which are budgeted as part of the national expense based on the gross national product (GNP),” according to the plan’s explanatory note.

The plan will be implemented over the next decade at the cost of some NIS 3 billion a year on average. It will be funded with money saved in significant streamlining processes inside the army as well as with additional funding from the state budget. The intention is to use tax surplus money and make cuts in places that won’t harm citizens—meaning, not from the education, health or welfare budgets.

Netanyahu accuses Erdogan of massacring Syrians and Kurds

July 24, 2018

Source: Netanyahu accuses Erdogan of massacring Syrians and Kurds

After Erdogan says Nationality Law shows Israel is ‘the most Zionist, fascist and racist country in the world,’ adding ‘Hitler’s spirit has re-emerged’ in Israel, PM Netanyahu responds, saying cynically: ‘This great democrat’s criticism of the Nationality Law is the greatest compliment it could be paid.’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday rebuked Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, accusing him of massacring Syrians and Kurds after Erdogan strongly criticized Israel.

Erdogan said the new Nationality Law, which declares that only Jews have the right of self-determination in Israel, legitimized oppression and showed that Israel is a fascist and racist country.Netanyahu replied: “Erdogan is massacring the Syrians and the Kurds and is jailing thousands of his own people. This great democrat’s criticism of the Nationality Law is the greatest compliment it could be paid.”

Erdogan; Netanyahu (Photo: Reuters, MCT)

Erdogan; Netanyahu (Photo: Reuters, MCT)

Speaking to members of his ruling AK Party in parliament, Erdogan said the law showed Israel was “the most Zionist, fascist and racist country in the world,” and called on the international community to mobilize against Israel.

“The Jewish nation-state law passed in the Israeli parliament shows this country’s real intentions. It legitimises all unlawful actions and oppression,” Erdogan said.

“There is no difference between Hitler’s Aryan race obsession and Israel’s mentality. Hitler’s spirit has re-emerged among administrators in Israel,” he said.

Erdogan said Israel had shown itself to be a “terror state” by attacking Palestinians with tanks and artillery, adding that the move would “drown the region and world in blood and suffering”.

The law, backed by Israel’s right-wing government, passed through the Knesset on Wednesday after months of political argument.

“This is a defining moment in the annals of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel,” Netanyahu had told the Knesset.

Turkey and Israel, former allies, expelled each other’s top diplomats in May during a row over clashes in which dozens of Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces on the Gaza border. However, the two sides continue to trade with one another.

The two countries have long been at loggerheads over Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians and Jerusalem’s status. Erdogan has called for a summit of Muslim leaders twice in the past six months after US President Donald Trump decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

IDF Patriot Missiles Shoots Down Syrian Sukhoi Warplane Over Israel

July 24, 2018

The Sukhoi T-50 fifth generation test aircraft. (Illustration photo)

Photo Credit: Maxim Maksimov via Wikimedia

At 1:42 PM on Tuesday, the rocket alert went off along Israel’s northern border with Syria. Two Patriot missiles were fired at the target which had been tracked crossing into Israel.

The IDF released a statement that a Syrian Sukhoi warplane crossed over into Israel, flying two kilometers within Israeli territory. The plane took off from the T4 airbase. The IDF believes it was an SU-22 or SU-24. Syrian sources say it was an SU-22.

The Patriot missiles targeted the warplane and took the plane down. The plane crashed in Syrian territory.

The IDF added a statement, “The IDF is on high alert and very prepared, and will continue acting against violations of the 1974 Separation of Forces agreement.”

News outlets connected to the Syrian rebels report that a Syrian warplane went down in the Yarmouk basin in southern Syria. Local Syrians report that the pilot, a colonel, ejected in ISIS-held territory.

Syria confirms that Israel shot down a Sukhoi-22.

IDF shoots down Syrian fighter jet that entered Israeli airspace 

July 24, 2018

Source: IDF shoots down Syrian fighter jet that entered Israeli airspace | The Times of Israel

Two Patriot missiles fired at Sukhoi aircraft that penetrated two kilometers into Israeli territory, military says

Smoke trails from two Israeli Patriot interceptor missiles that Israel says shot down a Syrian fighter jet are seen in northern Israel on July 24, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Smoke trails from two Israeli Patriot interceptor missiles that Israel says shot down a Syrian fighter jet are seen in northern Israel on July 24, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The Israeli Air Force shot down a Syrian fighter jet that traveled two kilometers into Israeli airspace on Tuesday afternoon, the military said. Syrian state-run media confirmed the jet was shot down but said it was inside its own airspace.

“Two Patriot missiles were fired at a Syrian Sukhoi-model fighter jet,” the Israel Defense Forces said in a statement.

The IDF said the aircraft was monitored as it approached the border with the Golan Heights.

“It penetrated two kilometers into Israeli airspace and was shot down,” the army said.

According to Sky News Arabia, the plane crashed inside southwest Syria, in the Yarmouk Basin, an area still under the control of the Islamic State terrorist group. It was not immediately clear if the pilots ejected before the fighter jet was shot down or what their condition was.

The official Syrian news outlet SANA claimed the plane was inside Syrian airspace at the time it was targeted.

According to SANA, Israel fired at “one of our war planes, which are leveling [terrorist] encampments in the Saida region on the outskirts of the Yarmouk Basin, in Syrian airspace.”

A military source quoted by SANA accused Israel of aiding “terrorists” in the country’s southwest, where the Syrian air force has been conducting extensive bombing raids throughout the day against a number of opposition groups.

This was the first time that Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet since 2014, when another Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jet entered Israeli airspace and was targeted with a Patriot missile.

File: A Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber lands at the Russian Hmeimin military base in Latakia province, in the northwest of Syria, on December 16, 2015. (Paul Gypteau/AFP)

It was not immediately clear if the plane was a Sukhoi-22 or a Sukhoi-24, two different types of Russian-made fighter jets in use by the Syrian Air Force, the Israeli military said.

The IDF said it had noticed increased air force activity in southwestern Syria, near the border, since the morning.

“We have passed a number of messages, in a number of languages, in order to ensure that no one violates Israeli air space,” IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told reporters.

The spokesman said Israel has been in regular contact with the Russian military, which operates extensively in southwestern Syria, in order to prevent any conflict with Moscow.

According to the IDF, the fighter jet took off from the Iran-linked T-4 air force base in central Syria, which Israel has bombed in the past, and traveled “at high speed” toward the Golan Heights.

Conricus said there was no “confusion” about the fact that this was a Syrian fighter jet. In the past, Israel has hesitated in shooting down incoming aircraft out of concerns they might belong to Russia.

Israel stressed that it will continue to enforce the 1974 Separation of Forces Agreement, which requires Syria to abide by a demilitarized zone between the two countries

Minutes before the plane was shot down, Syria’s state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV was broadcasting footage from the fence demarcating the UN buffer zone between Syrian and Israeli forces inside the Golan Heights. A UN observer post could be seen just on the other side of the fence.

The camera showed an Israeli post 400 meters (440 yards) away.

A Syrian fighter jet is seen in flames after it was hit by the Israeli military over the Golan Heights on September 23, 2014. (photo credit: AFP/JALAA MAREY)

“Israel has a very clear policy: No plane, and certainly not a Syrian plane, is allowed to enter our airspace” without the appropriate authorization, Israel’s former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin told Army Radio soon after Tuesday’s incident. “Any plane identified as an enemy plane is shot down,” he said.

In February of this year, the Syrian military shot down an Israeli F-16 fighter jet as it was taking part in a bombing raid against an Iranian-linked airfield in central Syria after an Iranian drone penetrated Israeli airspace, according to the IDF. The F-16’s pilot and navigator were injured as they bailed out of the aircraft, which crashed to ground in northern Israel.

Tuesday’s breach of Israeli airspace and the interception set off incoming rocket alert sirens throughout northeastern Israel, sending thousands of residents rushing to bomb shelters for the second day in a row.

An Israeli man watches the smoke trail of a David’s Sling interceptor missile in the northern Israeli city of Safed after the interceptor was fired toward a Syrian SS-21 missile, on July 23, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Residents of northern Israel reported seeing white trails in the sky.

The Safed municipality told residents that air defense systems in the area had fired interceptor missiles and said there were no special safety instructions in light of the situation.

The alarms could be heard in the Golan Heights and Jordan Valley regions, the army said.

The sirens came a day after Israel launched two David’s Sling interceptor missiles at a pair of Syrian surface-to-surface missiles carrying approximately a half ton of explosives each that appeared to be heading toward Israel, but ultimately landed inside Syria. The Israeli interceptors did not strike the Syrian missiles: one was self-detonated by the IAF; the second reportedly fell to earth inside Syria.

The military’s air defense systems that detect and track incoming missiles and rockets are less accurate immediately after a projectile is launched, as they have less information on its trajectory. As the missile or rocket flies, the systems can better predict where it is likely to land.

Monday’s incident, which ultimately turned out to have been a false alarm, was the first known operational use of the David’s Sling system, which was declared operational last year.

The David’s Sling makes up the middle tier of Israel’s multi-layered anti-missile defense network.

In recent weeks, sirens in northern Israel have been triggered by the military shooting down unmanned aerial vehicles entering Israeli airspace from Syria.

On July 13, the Israeli military used an anti-aircraft Patriot missile to shoot down a Syrian army drone that was flying over the demilitarized zone separating Israel from Syria. Two days earlier, a Syrian military unmanned aerial vehicle penetrated some 10 kilometers (six miles) into Israeli territory before it too was shot down by a Patriot missile. The IDF said it had allowed the drone to fly so deeply into Israeli territory as it was not immediately clear if it belonged to the Russian military.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Israel fires Patriot missiles against Syrian jet in Golan Heights 

July 24, 2018

Source: Israel fires Patriot missiles against Syrian jet in Golan Heights – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

For the second time in three days, Israel fired interceptor missiles against Syrian missiles.

 JULY 24, 2018 14:22
A Patriot anti-missile system deployed in a joint U.S. and Israeli military outpost in Jaffa, south

While the military did not clarify if the jet had been shot down, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit stated that two Patriot missiles were launched from Safed after the jet penetrated 2 kilometers into Israeli airspace.

According to Sky News Arabic the plane fell in the area of the Yarmuk basin, a triangular border area between Syria, Israel and Jordan where there is intense fighting against the Islamic State group.

Incoming rocket alert sirens blared throughout northern Israel around 1.30PM in the Golan Regional Council, Jordan Valley and in the city of Katzrin.

“The air defense system was activated in our region, [but] there are no new guidelines,” read a statement from the Safed Municipality spokesperson.

It was the second-such incident of interceptors being fired in two days opposite Syrian areas where Damascus’s forces have been routing rebels.

In recent weeks Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air-power, have been retaking large swathes of territory on the Syrian Golan Heights from rebel groups along the Israeli border. Iranian forces and affiliated Shiite militias are also said to be playing a minor role in the offensive.

Due to the offensive and the Shiite forces creeping steadily to the border, the IDF has reinforced the Golan Division with additional artillery.

On Monday the Israel used it’s David Sling interceptor system for the first time, launching two missiles against two SS-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missiles launched from Syria. When the system determined that neither would hit Israeli territory, one of the interceptor missiles was ordered to self-destruct over Israel’s southern Golan Heights. The second David Sling interceptor missile meanwhile fell inside Syria without intercepting the second SS-21.

Israel spurns Russia’s “100km offer” after 8 pro-Iranian militias reach its doorstep 

July 24, 2018

Source: Israel spurns Russia’s “100km offer” after 8 pro-Iranian militias reach its doorstep – DEBKAfile

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chief of Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov were turned away from Jerusalem empty-handed on July 23 by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gady Eisenkot.

They had come with an offer to distance Iran and its allied forces in Syria to a point 100km from the Israeli border, according to leaks from Moscow to the Western media. A high-placed Israeli source said Israel’s answer was:  No dice! Every last Iranian and their militia pawns, including Hizballah, must be removed from every inch of Syria and they must take their precision ballistic missiles with them.  Furthermore, the Syrian-Iraqi border crossings must be blocked as a conduit for Tehran to inject Iraqi militias into Syria; so too must the crossings from Lebanon, through which Hizballah pumps weapons consignments from Syria. In a word, Israel demanded that Russia shut down the land bridge which Iran had been allowed to lay in the past week from Iraq into Syria.

DEBKAfile’s military sources disclose that, on July 18, just two days after President Vladimir Putin had sat down in Helsinki with President Donald Trump, their understandings on Syria, were broken. Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) were pushing military convoys loaded with fighters and arms from western Iraqi into eastern Syria. They were seen refueling at Abu Kamal, where Al Qods chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani maintains a command post for his regular visits.

Putin’s emissaries, despite their high rank, had little hope of talking Israeli leaders around when the evidence of his perfidy was in full sight. Contrary to his pledges to the US and Israel, Hizballah and Shiite militias loyal to Tehran were operating freely at this moment on the Syrian-Israeli Golan border. DEBKAfile has obtained a detailed list of these hostile forces:

  • International Brigade 313 – a mix of Shiite militias under IRGC officers, that was transferred to Quneitra last week after fighting for Bashar Assad in Daraa.
  • The “Quneitra Hawks”, made up of several hundred Hizballah commandos, which is attached to the Syrian Army’s 7th
  • Three foreign Shiite militias fighting under IRGC officers, which are deployed in southern Syrian areas close to the Israeli border.
  • Several hundred Hizballah fighters, who are posted at Khan Arnebeh near Quneitra as an operational reserve and are attached to the Syrian army’s 5th
  • The “Al Ghith Force,” an armored unit of the Syrian Army’s 4th Division, has taken up position inside the buffer zone (demilitarized under the 1974 accord) opposite the northern Golan town of Majdal Shams.

Israel’s leaders confronted their Russian visitors with the charge that, if they can’t – or won’t – remove these hostile forces from Israel’s doorstep, how can they be trusted to keep their pledge to hold them at a distance of 100km?