Tag Archives: syria

Four Reasons Why Liberation of Aleppo Would Mean an End to the Syrian War

As the Syrian army advances in the jihadist-ravaged city of Aleppo, Russian political analysts explain why the once-vibrant metropolis, formerly home to 2.3 million people, is of prime importance to all the parties of the conflict and can play a key role in settlement of the ongoing crisis.

The first group of residents trapped in Aleppo’s militant-occupied eastern neighborhoods has started to escape through a humanitarian corridor created with Russia’s help, according to reports broadcast by Al Mayadeen TV.

Leaflets were dropped on Thursday over the city with instructions on how to approach checkpoints and a map showing the corridors.

Those who want to leave are supposed to wave the leaflet with their right hand raised above their head and the other hand either around their head or holding a child’s hand, the leaflet reportedly says. While approaching checkpoints the residents are advised to move slowly and to follow the commands of the Syrian military.

Once near checkpoints, they will be required to turn around to demonstrate they do not have explosives on them.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday that Russia and the Syrian government have jointly launched a large-scale humanitarian relief operation in Aleppo, establishing three corridors for civilians and one for militants wishing to lay down arms.

Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Thursday that President Assad has issued a decree granting amnesty to all militants who surrender within three months. This prompted “scores of terrorists” to turn themselves in and lay down their arms.

Meanwhile, local media reports suggest that the Syrian government forces are ready to retake the desperate city; they’ve already re-established full control over two more strategic districts along the last access road into opposition-held east Aleppo: the neighborhood Bani Zeid and a second rebel-held district adjacent to Bani Zeid.

A military source told SANA that army engineering units had dismantled the explosives and removed mines from its streets and squares, with the Syrian army establishing full control over the Efrin bus station, youth housing and all the building blocks and factories in al-Liramoun in the northern outskirts of Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Shapovalov, the Director of the Institute of Political Science, Law and Social Development has explained to RT why Aleppo, Syria’s most important economic and geopolitical center, might become a key to fully resolving the Syrian conflict.

Aleppo — Syria’s most important economic and trade center with advantageous geopolitical position

“Aleppo is of prime importance to all the parties of the conflict as it is Syria’s most important economic and trade center; the city lies on the crossroad of the country’s trade routes and holds a very advantageous geopolitical position,” he said.

“Full control over Aleppo allows one to control not only all of northern Syria but the whole territory along the border with Turkey, the district inhabited by Kurds, and the territory of northwestern Iraq,” the political analyst explained.

“Aleppo is the dominating center of this whole region. And for the Syrian government forces, for their adversaries, for Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the US it is the key to control over the whole Syrian territory and adjacent regions.”

Hence, Shapovalov said, there’s no wonder that since the very start of the military conflict in the country there has been fierce fighting for this city.

It is the key to control over the whole Syrian territory and adjacent regions

Another political scientist, head of the Center for Middle East and Central Asia Studies Semyon Bagdasarov, also explained that Aleppo is the top strategic point, the economic capital of Syria and its clean-up could be a grandiose victory for Syria and Russia.

“However the liberation of Aleppo without closure of Syrian-Turkish border crossings, first and foremost in the city of Azaz, will be a hard task,” he said.

It is essential for cooperation with the Syrian Kurds

“Azaz — is a Turkish crossing gate and a whole load of arms, ammunition and thousands of militants have got into Syria through this crossing. It must be closed and it could be dome only in alliance with the quasi-state [known as] the Federation of North Syria – Rojava, or otherwise the Syrian Kurds,” Bagdasarov explained.

The political analyst further said why the territory under the control of the Syrian Kurds will play a vital role in the recapture of Aleppo:

“There are over 2,000 NATO servicemen on this territory, including the American special forces and its engineer-sapper battalions and the Danish, UK, French and German units. There is no clear border among them and during an offensive there might be undesirable clashes.”

Vladimir Shapovalov also noted the Kurds, more than anyone else are interested in the liquidation of the jihadists and might become a key ally to President Assad.

“For the Kurds, the most important thing is the fight against the Islamist militants, which are their major adversary in establishing Kurdish autonomy,” he said.

“In such a context, the alliance with the Syrian government is of primary importance to the Kurds, as it is Assad who could ensure the security of the Kurdish areas, not only from the terrorists but from Turkish claims as well,” he added.

Control over Aleppo would allow for the completion of the restoration of the Syrian government’s authority over most of the country

Semyon Bagdasarov also agreed that Aleppo is a sweet spot for Turkey, as it is the gateway to the whole north-west of Syria, including Aleppo Province.

“Turks historically regard Aleppo as their city and think that the population of the city gravitates more towards Turkey, but it is not the case,” he said.

The political analysts agree that the liberation of the city would mean the liberation of Syria and the end of the war.

“Control over Aleppo would allow for the completion of the restoration of the Syrian government’s authority over most of the country, the most densely populated and the most economically developed part of the country” said Vladimir Shapovalov.

“After establishing control over Aleppo, control over the rest of Syria would only take a couple of weeks”, he concluded.

US asks Russia not to target Al-Qaeda branch in Syria – Russian FM Lavrov


Washington has asked Moscow not to conduct airstrikes against al-Nusra Front, which is Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, for fear that members of the “moderate opposition” could also be hit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has reported.

“They [the US] are telling us not to hit it [al-Nusra Front], because there are also ‘normal’ opposition groups [on those territories],” Lavrov said in an interview with local Russian media that was published on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

The minister also stressed that “such opposition groups should leave terrorist positions,” adding that “we have long agreed on that.” Russia first set a deadline for the “moderate” opposition to leave territories occupied by al-Nusra Front extremists, but then agreed to give them more time to withdraw.

In the interview, Lavrov said that Russia believes that taking specific and more effective measures to fight the Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) and al-Nusra Front terrorist groups should be the top priority for Russia and the US if the Syrian crisis is to be resolved.

“It is important to provide humanitarian access to the settlements blocked by one side or another, to secure the ceasefire and to prevent its violation, as well as to launch the political process… but, as important as these goals are, terrorism is our common threat, and there should be no doubt about that,” he said, adding that, in the meantime, al-Nusra Front has been attempting to merge with other armed opposition groups.

Lavrov also said that the political process in Syria is being held back by radical opposition groups that refuse to come to the negotiating table and set preconditions for peace talks. He added that it is important to set aside these demands and focus on the fight against terrorism.

The minister also emphasized that Russia and the US are involved in a close and intensive dialog on Syria that includes regular telephone calls between Lavrov and his US counterpart, John Kerry, and a video-conference channel set up between the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria located at the Khmeimim airbase in Latakia and the US base in the Jordanian capital of Amman, as well as a joint US-Russian center in Geneva.

Lavrov had held a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry at the initiative of the US side earlier the same day, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement

The two ministers discussed “the fight against ISIS and the need to urgently distance the moderate opposition from the Jabhat al-Nusra group, as well as efforts to cut off the flow of weapons and militants coming from abroad to beef up terrorist organizations,” the statement said.

In the meantime, Kerry, who is in Paris, told journalists that he had discussed the upsurge in violence in Syria during the phone call with Lavrov, explaining that the two had worked specifically on “ways to try to strengthen the enforcement and accountability for this cessation,” AP reported.

In the meantime, the US State Department said that Washington has asked Russia to be “more careful” in targeting its airstrikes against al-Nusra Front, as hitting civilians or opposition groups while attacking the jihadists could eventually give more support to the terrorist groups.

“[The US State] Secretary conveyed to Russia and the Assad regime that they need to carefully distinguish between these terrorist groups operating on the ground and those parties to the cessation of hostilities,” US State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said during a briefing on Friday, adding that the US agrees that IS and al-Nusra Front “pose a real threat to the security on the ground in Syria.”

Al-Moallem: De Mistura Can’t Talk about Syria Presidential Elections

Syrian Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem said Saturday UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura has no right to talk about Syrian presidential elections, noting that the Syrian Arab Republic delegation will not wait in Geneva forever for other parties to decide to show up.

During a press conference, al-Moallem said the Syrian Arab Republic delegation received a letter from de Mistura  scheduling Monday as a date for meeting at the UN HQ in Geneva within the Syrian-Syrian dialogue.

“Meeting with our delegation at first is a good thing,” he said, adding however that the Republic’s delegation “will not repeat the same mistake that happened in the previous round. They are going to wait for 24 hours only.”

“We are looking forward to having dialogue with the broadest spectrum of opposition groups in implementation of de Mistura’s mandate by the UN Security Council and the Vienna and Munich communiqués, particularly the national opposition…that is not linked to any foreign agendas,” al-Moallem added.

He commented on the UN Envoy’s recent statements setting up a schedule for Geneva talks which he said will discuss the regime, the constitution and the parliamentary and presidential elections, saying de Mistura doesn’t have the right to set a schedule, which is something up to the dialogue parties.

He went on saying that de Mistura must be aware, when he talks about the constitution, that it is the national unity government, the subject of discussion in the future, that will appoint a committee to draft a new constitution or amend the standing one, stressing that any outcome will be subject to referendum for approval.

Regarding the presidential elections, al-Moallem stressed that neither de Mistura nor anyone else whomsoever can discuss this issue as it is “an exclusive right of the Syrian people,” dismissing what the envoy said as “a deviation from all the UN documents.”

“We will no longer accept that [de Mistura] gives up objectivity to please this or that party, and our delegation will reject any attempt to put this issue on the schedule,” he added.

As for the upcoming parliamentary elections, al-Moallem said fulfilling the elections is part of the constitution, stressing that this issue should be respected where no reservations can be accepted by anyone, calling for a high turnout of Syrian voters.

Al-Moallem stressed that Syria is committed to the cessation of hostilities agreement, noting that there have been breaches of the agreement by the armed groups that were responded to by the army sometimes and overlooked in other times.

“We affirm out armed forces’ right to respond to breaches,” he added.

He used this opportunity to urge those who have taken up weapons to utilize the agreement of the cessation of hostilities and engage in reconciliations.

The crisis, he affirmed, is coming to an end, and we hereby welcome all those who want to join our armed forces in the fight against ISIL, al-Nusra Front and the terrorist organizations linked to them,” added al-Moallem.

In his comments on the talk about foreign ground intervention in Syria that came up in the past period, al-Moallem reaffirmed that “No one dares to intervene in Syria in a ground war, and that this talk has receded, noting that US President Barack Obama’s recent speech proved that he is not going to such a war.

“I say with confidence that our people will reject any attempts at dividing [the country],” he said.

Al-Moallem referred to the recent statements about a federal model in Syria made by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov as circulated by the media, clarifying that the statements were not quoted objectively because Ryabkov made it contingent on the Syrians’ approval.

“I say as a Syrian citizen, and I’m sure you are with me, that we reject the talk about federalism and we are with the unity of Syria,” he added.

The Foreign Minister reiterated in comments on statements by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir that the latter is always repeating his talk at all occasions and what he said “was worthless”. “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones,” al-Moallem said.

He asserted that the Syrian people are optimistic about the talks in Geneva, adding however that while the Syrian Arab Republic’s delegation is going to Geneva with the intention to made the dialogue a success, this issue depends also on the other parties as well.

“If those have illusions of taking over power through Geneva after they failed in the battlefield, they will fail once again,” he added.

He made it clear that nowhere in the UN documents there is something that talks about a transition period of presidency, “which is why there should be agreement on the definition of transition period.”

“As far as we understand it, transition is to move from a standing constitution to a new one and from a standing government to another that involves the other party,” he said.

Al-Moallem went on saying that the standing constitution will remain in place until holding a referendum by the Syrian people on a new or an amended one, reiterating again that there is no link between the legislative elections and what is going on in Geneva.

“We are going to Geneva and we do not know with whom we will have dialogue,” he said, reiterating that the Republic’s delegation will wait only 24 hours for the other parties to show up and if the other parties don’t show up by that time, the delegation will leave Geneva and the other party will be held responsible for the failure of the talks.

Al-Moallem affirmed that the Republic’s delegation does not put preconditions for the dialogue in Geneva, adding that those who know Syria and the Syrian leadership well realize that “we do not bow to anyone, whether states or groups.”

“We will not have dialogue with any side that discusses the position of the president. This is a red line and it is up to the Syrians alone,” he reiterated.

Asked about the Kurds in Syria, al-Moallem affirmed that “Our brothers, the Kurds, are Syrian citizens, and they are with us in the same trench against ISIL.”

‘Dirty Bargain’: Turkey, EU Forge Deal With Syrian Blood on Their Hands

As the Turkish government continues its crackdown on the free press, columnist Kemal Okuyan speaks to Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear to expose how this relates to Ankara’s deal with the European Union to stem the flow of refugees.

“I have to say that this is a real dirty bargain,” Okuyan, a leading columnist with Turkish newspaper SoL, tells Loud & Clear host Brian Becker. “The refugee crisis, I think, is an outcome of the terrorist acts of NATO, Turkey, and other reactionary forces in the region.”


According to Okuyan, Ankara is manipulating the crisis in order to achieve its own ends with the European Union.”This was on purpose, by the Turkish government,” he says. “And we know that Turkey encouraged people to go by boat through the sea to the Greek islands.

“Now they are using this to blackmail the European Union.”

As part of negotiations with the EU, Ankara wants over 3 billion euros, visa exceptions, Western ground forces in Syria, as well as the enforcement of a terrorist-free zone in neighboring Syria.

While Turkey may be taking advantage of a humanitarian crisis for its own gains, the European Union isn’t entirely innocent, either.

“The European Union is also one of the actors in the Syrian [conflict],” Okuyan says. “Especially Germany, France, Britain. They have their hands in Syria, so they are also responsible for this big human tragedy.”

While the Erdogan government may have sights on joining the EU, it could face problems due to its harsh press laws.

“Nearly three-fourths of the daily newspapers printed in Turkey are in the hands of Erdogan,” Okuyan says.

“There are a lot of journalists in prison in Turkey,” he adds. “There is also blackmailing, [where] you are not arrested, directly, but they say if you have another problem, then you will be put into prison.”

Still, as all sides use the refugee crisis for their own political gain, millions of people are suffering.

“In Turkey, the refugees are in terrible conditions,” Okuyan says. “When you see photos of people [who have] died when crossing to the Greek islands, these are not only accidents, they are killed on purpose for their money.

“They sabotage the boats.”

رسميا.. مصر ترشح أبو الغيط لمنصب امين عام جامعة الدول العربيه

وقال نائب الأمين العام للجامعة، أحمد بن حلي، إن “الأمانة العامة للجامعة قامت بتعميم المذكرة المصرية على الدول الأعضاء بالجامعة بشأن المرشح المصري”

وحتى الآن فإن أبو الغيط (74 عاما)هو المرشح الوحيد لتولي المنصب، وسينتخب الأمين العام الجديد يوم 15 مايو المقبل، وفقا لوكالة أنباء الشرق الأوسط المصرية

وشغل أبو الغيط منصب وزير خارجية مصر منذ عام 2004 وحتى عام 2011 حين أقيل بعد أسابيع من ما سمى ثورة 25 يناير 2011

وقبل توليه الخارجية شغل عدة مناصب دبلوماسية مهمة من بينها منصب مندوب مصر لدى الأمم المتحدة

ومنذ تأسيس جامعة الدول العربية عام 1945 شغل مصريون منصب الأمين العام باستثناء التونسي الشاذلي القليبي، الذي شغل المنصب عام 1979 بعد نقل مقر الجامعة إلى تونس احتجاجا على اتفاقات كامب ديفيد بين مصر وإسرائيل، وعادت الجامعة العربية إلى القاهرة عام 1990

وتولى العربي (81 عاما) وهو أيضا وزير خارجية مصري سابق منصبه الحالي يوم 15 مايو 2011 وستنتهي ولايته يوم 30 يونيو القادم


Pope Francis says ‘Arab invasion’ is social fact … and a good thing

Europe is facing an ‘Arab invasion’, Pope Francis mused while addressing a French Christian group, adding that the trend is actually a positive one.

We can speak today of Arab invasion. It is a social fact,” the pontiff said, according to extracts from his address earlier this week which were published by the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano on Thursday.

He then added: “How many invasions has Europe experienced in the course of its history! But it’s always been able to overcome them and move forward, finding itself complimented and improved by the cultural exchange they brought about.

The Pontiff also reflected on the history of migration into Europe and the positive impact it has had on European culture as we now know it.

The Pope also declared that Europe is “the only continent that can bring some unity to the world”. He then added, that in order to fulfill its “universal role”, Europe must “rediscover its cultural roots”.

Europe continues struggling with an unseen influx of asylum seekers. The number of Syrians seeking asylum doubled to 362,800 last year and the number of Iraqis jumped to 121,500, as the European Commission said Friday.

This news came after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused Austria and other Balkan countries of “killing Europe” by imposing border restrictions in a move that’s led to an approximate 30,000 asylum seekers now being stranded across Greece.

What those countries agreed on and decided goes against all of the rules and against the whole of Europe and we regard it as an unfriendly move,” Tsipras said in an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper. “It cannot be that after something is adopted at an EU summit, some decide to simply close their borders. These countries are killing Europe!

In the course of the past 2 weeks, an enormous makeshift refugee camp has sprung up on the Greek border with Macedonia, after the latter stopped letting in migrants following the so-called ‘Balkan route’ into Europe.

Over 11 thousand people are now waiting for Macedonia to reopen its border so they could move forward into Europe and seek asylum there, the most craved destination being Germany. The country, which has accepted over one million refugees in 2015, has been an outspoken supporter of mandatory migrant quotas for EU member states.


‘Inhumane’: Europe Yanks Welcome Mat Out From Under Its War Refugees

On Thursday, European Council President Donald Tusk, dismissing refugees fleeing war-torn Syria as “economic migrants,” stated, “Do not come to Europe.” Middle East analyst Hafsa Kara-Mustapha sat down with Sputnik’s Brian Becker to discuss the dire status of Middle Eastern refugees in Europe.

What will be the impact of European Council President Tusk’s Statements?

“First of all, I have to talk about the wording he used,” Kara-Mustapha told Loud & Clear. “He insisted on using the word migrant and specifically using the phrase ‘economic migrant’ when all the people presently coming into Europe are actually war refugees fleeing conflict.”

Kara-Mustapha expressed concern that by rebranding the refugees as economic migrants, the EU aims to alter the requirements of member states to provide asylum.

“In effect, when he says that Europe should stop welcoming economic migrants he is actually changing the whole subject and making the issue about economy and migration when simply it is about refugees,” she noted, adding that, “if you insist that these people are refugees then you have a duty to welcome them under all EU constitutions.”

By contrast, “if you refer to them as migrants then you have no duty towards them because these people are just coming for financial gain and nobody owes them anything,” observed Kara-Mustapha. In reality, however, “these people are coming to Europe for safety and to avoid the horrors of war.”

She also noted that the current aim of European leadership appears to be to fundamentally change public opinion toward refugees by referring to them as “migrants.” The wording, she said, “makes the topic less acceptable to ensure people turn against these refugees… the underlying meaning is that they are coming here for the benefits, to raid the welfare system, and to make money.”

The burden placed on cash-strapped Greece is worse than others — why is that?

“Greece is geographically very close to the warzone, it is close to Syria, and close to Turkey, where most of the refugees are coming from, so it is geographically bearing the brunt as the natural gateway to Europe,” explained Kara-Mustapha. “The moment they set foot in Greece they can actually claim asylum legally, but Greece is also geographically close so it is the first port of call for most refugees.”

The Greek social infrastructure, however, is ill-equipped to take on the pressures of the burgeoning refugee influx in light of austerity measures and a crippled economy. “The problem, of course, is that Greece is already a struggling country facing a difficult financial situation, it faces a lot of problems irrespective of the refugee crisis, and the fact that they have to cater for, at minimum, 2,000 people coming through its border means an extra burden on Greece’s finances.”

Despite Greece facing acute financial difficulties, largely as a condition of maintaining EU membership and managing an onerous debt, their European colleagues have largely turned their backs on the Athens government. Kara-Mustapha noted that, “sadly, Greece has to face up to the refugee crisis almost on its own because, despite repeated requests that other EU nations accept strict quotas to help Greece cope with the situation, the other EU nations continue to pass the buck and refuse to take responsibility.”

What will happen with the 10,000 refugees stuck at the Greek-Macedonian border?

“The situation is dire and the refuges don’t know what will happen next,” said Kara-Mustapha. “The countries where they are stranded cannot afford to keep them so it is a very difficult and inhumane situation.” She believes that the refugees have been stranded on purpose as a means to slant public opinion. “Europe is leaving a humanitarian crisis on the Greek-Macedonian border to fester because the more it festers the more local populations will turn against these refugees, the more it will impact local governments, and the more borders will close.”

“I believe there is a concerted effort to allow the situation on the Greek-Macedonian border to fester in order to poison the refugee crisis further to make it far more difficult for public opinion to accept the idea of welcoming more refugees,” she stated.

Will the situation trigger the collapse of the European Union?

“Yes,” Kara-Mustapha noted, suggesting that, “all it would take is for one country to close its borders and say that they do not sign up to the Schengen Agreement anymore for all of the others to say ‘well, why should I respect the deal?’”

This existential threat to European unity, however, did not begin with the Syrian crisis. “This is something that has been happening for a while with the scourge of Islamophobic sentiments brewing throughout Europe since the 9/11 attacks in the United States.”

Kara-Mustapha believes the situation in Europe has only become more untenable since the Paris attacks only months ago. “You have some European countries now saying that specifically they do not want Muslim refugees, that they’ll accept Syrian Christians but that they do not want any part of Muslim refugees.”

What has the impact of the refugee influx been on domestic politics in Germany?

“About a year ago, Angela Merkel, had an approval rating of 75%, today it is down to 47%, so the current public opinion polls show that the German people have turned against her due to her decision to welcome refugees.”

Specifically, while other European countries remained reticent about accepting refugees, Merkel’s administration committed the German people to taking in over 1 million asylum-seekers.

“Perhaps the decision came from a genuinely good place, she saw the humanitarian crisis and felt her country could lend a helping hand,” commented Kara-Mustapha. She added that, “there is also the stain of Nazi Germany and this was also an opportunity for Germany to correct a previous wrong.”

Nonetheless, despite “Nazi Germany’s impacts on the national psyche of the German people,” Kara-Mustapha sees the decision by Merkel as one that has been increasingly unpopular with the German people. The analyst cites the growing influence of many German neo-fascist groups, as well as those throughout Europe, as an increasingly vocal influence attempting to steer public opinion against pro-refugee policies.

How did the situation devolve to the worst humanitarian crisis in 70 years, and how do we fix it?

Kara-Mustapha sees the Syrian refugee crisis, as well as preceding refugee crises related to the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a consequence of Western neoconservative policy. The key, in her opinion, is to create stability in the region by defeating Daesh and ending the fascination with deposing Middle East leaders who are not friendly to multinational petroleum corporations. She suggests that this will stop the flow of Syrian refugees and allow people to return to their countries.

Kara-Mustapha calls on the West to accept that Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad is the legitimate leader of the Syrian people and to help his government in the fight against Daesh, rather than continue the increasingly futile attempts to depose the Syrian President by funding anti-government extremist militias.


Dozens of Turkish military vehicles cross Syria border, dig trenches

Turkish military vehicles have crossed into a Kurdistani area in Syria, Afrin, just over the border, a Kurdish news agency reported adding that the troops started to dig a trench near Meidan Ekbis, a town in Aleppo province.

Dozens of Turkish military vehicles advanced 200 meters into the Syrian Kurdish region in Aleppo province on Thursday, ANHA news agency reported.

It added that the troops started digging a trench between the towns of Sorka and Meydan Ekbis. According to the agency the construction of a concrete wall on the Syrian border in the area is ongoing as well.

The agency posted photos of ongoing operations on its website.

The Syrian Afrin district bordering Turkey is predominantly Kurdish with a population estimated to be of more than 170,000 people according to a 2004 census. The area is part of a de facto autonomous region of Rojava, or Syrian Kurdistan since 2013.

A Turkish security source told Reuters that they country’s military shelled Kurdish YPG militia positions in northern Syria on Thursday. The source added that the shelling came in response to cross-border fire.

The developments come as Turkey accused forces linked with the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia of an explosion in Ankara that killed 28 and injured 61 more. On Thursday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu vowed to continue the military efforts against Kurdish groups in Syria. The Syrian Kurds, in turn, denied responsibility for the attack and put the blame on Islamic State militants (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

Turkey has been stepping up military activity if the areas with a predominantly Kurdish population, which include its own territories in the southeast as well as areas in northern Syria and Iraq.

Turkish military has been intensely shelling Syrian Kurds despite UN Security Council (UNSC) warning on Tuesday which urged Ankara to comply with international law.
The Kurdish region in northern Syria is a stronghold of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its activists, as well as YPG militia. Turkey has claimed that PYD is affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is considered to be a terrorist group by Ankara and its ally the US.

Although Turkey views the PYD as merely a Syrian branch of the PKK, the US has backed the Syrian Kurds which have been one of the key forces fighting against the IS in the region. Ankara has been sending diplomatic signals to Washington that it is discontent with Washington’s support of Syrian Kurds.

On the other hand, Washington has been mounting pressure on Ankara to seal its frontiers with Syria. In December, Davutoglu stated that closing the country’s border with Syria is extremely difficult, despite the fact that most of it is “under Islamic State control.” He added that instead Turkey is putting countermeasures in place, which include physical barriers on the entire border.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry has recently released images and satellite intelligence proving the illegal oil supplies are being delivered across the Turkish-Syrian border on three main routes leading to Mediterranean ports, Batman oil refinery on the Turkish territory and a large transfer base in Turkey’s Cizre, respectively. Russia claimed that those oil supplies widely benefit Turkish President Recep closest relatives and help funding IS militants in Syria.


Syrian army destroys leader of “Syrian Revolutionaries Front” in Damascus province

The Syrian army has destroyed the leader of the “Syrian Revolutionaries Front” Mohammed al-Masaalm, Syrian Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Gen. Ali Maihub said on Sunday.

Maihub told journalists that al-Masaalm was killed in the province of Damascus. “A large number of terrorists were destroyed, including the leader of the so-called ‘Syrian Revolutionaries Front’ Mohammed al-Masaalm,” he said.

“The Syrian army destroyed armored vehicles with terrorists and three vehicles equipped with heavy machine guns to the south of the Al-Manchiya district in the city of Daraa, and delivered strikes at terrorist groups in a refugee camp to the south of the Busra Square, to the south of a boy’s school, to the south of the Energy Company building, along the road of Daraa-Mahapta,” Maihub added.

Daesh Leader’s Mobile Phone Holds Proof of Turkey’s Support

An Iraqi volunteer force commander said a mobile phone found on the person of a deceased Daesh militant proves that Turkey’s intelligence agency is providing support for the group.

“The mobile phone was found with one of the killed ISIL leaders in the Northern parts of Salahuddin province two days ago,” Jabbar al-Ma’mouri told Soumeriya news on Monday.

He said the phone contains messages from Turkish intelligence proving that Ankara supports Daesh, also known as ISIL/Islamic State, by providing security at the points used by militants traveling from Turkey to Iraq.

“The mobile phone also contains other important information which cannot be disclosed now, and it has been delivered to the specialized security groups for further scrutiny,” Ma’mouri said.

Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov in November revealed that Turkey has played an “ambiguous” role in the campaign against Daesh while acting as an accomplice to the terrorist group’s activities.

Last month, former US State Department senior advisor David Phillips said Turkey provided material support to Daesh because Ankara shares an ideological connection with the group, along with a mutual enemy in Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“Turkey’s role has not been ambiguous – it has overtly supported the ISIL,” said Phillips, who currently serves as director of Columbia University’s Peace-building and Rights Program. “It has provided logistical support, money, weapons, transport and healthcare to wounded warriors.”

Phillips said Turkey has been supporting Daesh to remove Assad from power and because of a “spiritual bond” that exists between Turkey’s governing party and the jihadists.