SYRIAN WAR REPORT – JAN. 23, 2019: SYRIA THREATENS TO STRIKE ‘TEL AVIV AIRPORT’

South Front

Late on January 22, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) repelled a major attack by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the Idlib de-escalation zone.

According to the Russian military, about 150-200 militants supported by 15-20 vehicles equipped with machine guns attacked SAA positions in the areas of Abu al-Duhur and Abu Sharja. They also employed at least one suicide vehicle borne explosive device. The militants overran the first line of defense and penetrated about 1.5-2 km deep into the SAA-controlled area.

Then, the military deployed reinforcements and with support of artillery units SAA troops repelled the advance and forced militants to withdraw from the recently captured positions.

According to pro-SAA sources, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham members suffered significant casualties.

12 service members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed in the January 20th Israeli airstrikes on Damascus’s International Airport, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on January 22. The SOHR claimed that the total death toll is 21 people: 6 Syrian Army troops, 12 IRGC service members and 3 other non-Syrian nationals.

On January 22, Syria’s envoy to the United Nations warned that if the UN Security Council did not put a stop to Israeli strikes on his country, Syria would retaliate on its own.

“Syria would practice its legitimate right of self-defense and respond to the Israeli aggression on Damascus International Airport in the same way on Tel Aviv airport,” Bashar Jaafari said.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that the strikes were aimed at Iranian targets in the country. According  to the very same version, IDF aircraft attacked Syrian military positions because they were responding ‘violently’ to Israeli strikes on Iranian forces. It should be noted that the SOHR claims contradict with the data provided by the Russian Defense Ministry. It said that 4 Syrian service members were killed in the attack.

The Russia-delivered S-300 system was not employed by the Syrian military during the encounter. According to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper, the reason is that Syrian S-300 crews are still not ready to operate the S-300 air defense system themselves. According to the report, the S-300 crews have not passed firing exams yet. The newspaper speculated that the crews would not be ready earlier than March 2019. Then, one battalion of the S-300 air defense system will reportedly be deployed in the T4 airbase area.

Citing its own sources, Kommersant stated that Russia is not going to change its current attitude towards Israeli strikes on Syria as long as Russian personnel are not near the targets being hit.

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ماذا سيسمع أردوغان من بوتين وماذا تبلّغ نتنياهو؟

يناير 23, 2019

ناصر قنديل

– تملأ الصحف والمواقع الإعلامية تحليلات ومعلومات منسوبة لمصادر «مطلعة» تدور حول ربط الغارات الإسرائيلية في سورية بالسعي التركي لمنطقة آمنة متفق عليها مع الأميركيين، واعتبار الحركة الجارية في جنوب سورية وشمالها لإضعاف مشروع الدولة السورية، وصولاً لإخراج إيران وحزب الله، وترتيب العلاقات التركية الكردية، بتوافق أميركي روسي، ويورد أصحاب «المصادر المطلعة» استنتاجاتهم بما يسمّونه الصمت الروسي على الغارات الإسرائيلية في ظل عودة اللقاءات بين وفود عسكرية إسرائيلية وروسية، من جهة، ومن جهة مقابلة بالتوافق الأميركي التركي بعد خلاف شديد على المنطقة الآمنة، والإعلان الكردي الإيجابي تجاهها.

– التدقيق في سياق المنطق الذي تُبنى عليه هذه الاستنتاجات، يمكن النظر إليها كجزء متمّم للاعتداءات الإسرائيلية والتهديدات التركية، الهادفتين لامتصاص بعض المخاطر المترتبة على الانسحاب الأميركي ومحاولة تقاسم ملء الفراغ الناتج عنه، والسعي لتطويق وقتل المناخ الذي يوحي بانتصار الدولة السورية ورئيسها، والتناوب التركي الإسرائيلي برعاية أميركية لتقاسم المسرح الإعلامي السياسي العسكري ليس إلا ترجمة لهذا البعد، فتخيّل روسيا العائدة لطلب الرضا الإسرائيلي بعد ترويض العسكرية الإسرائيلية وردعها، هو خروج عن المنطق، وأن يحدث هذا في زمن الانسحاب الأميركي، محض خرافة، والتمعّن في الرسائل الروسية التي نقلتها الصحافة الإسرائيلية تحذيراً من التمادي في اللعب العسكري والأمني داخل سورية، يقدم الكثير لمن يريد ألا يكون ضحية الحملات الإعلامية، والتدقيق في مفهوم المنطقة الآمنة يطرح سؤالاً جوهرياً حول كيفية إقامتها، بتوغل عسكري تركي تعتبره سورية عدواناً واحتلالاً، وهو مختلف كلياً عن الوجود التركي في إدلب الذي حاز بعد معركة حلب قبل عامين الغطاء الروسي الإيراني وفقاً لمسار أستانة، وهل تملك تركيا القدرة والإرادة على منع الجيش السوري من الانتشار في المناطق التي سينسحب منها الأميركيون بحظر جوي، في ظل الوجود الروسي، وهل يتبقى شيء من مسار أستانة إذا تم ذلك؟

– ما تسوقه «المصادر المطلعة» لا يعني إلا القفز فوق ما تقوله وقائع السنتين الماضيتين، لجهة أن تركيا لو كانت بوضع يتيح الانفراد، أو الاكتفاء بتغطية أميركية، لما كان مسار أستانة، الذي توّج هزيمة حلب لتركيا وجماعاتها المسلحة، وأن «إسرائيل» لو كانت بوضع يتيح لها الانفراد الموازي، أو الاكتفاء بتغطية أميركية، لما كان الامتناع عن دخول الأجواء السورية، الذي توّج هزيمة الجنوب السوري للجماعات المسلحة المدعومة من «إسرائيل»، كما كان الحال الأميركي في قاعدة التنف وهم يرون معقل الجماعات المسلحة في الغوطة يتهاوى أمام ضربات الجيش السوري تحت أنظارهم، من دون أن يقدموا لها شيئاً وهي التي كان اتصالها بقاعدة التنف عبر الصحراء يشطر سورية إلى شطرين، وكل ذلك جرى والأميركيون كانوا ما قبل حديث الانسحاب، والروس كانوا ما قبل تذوق طعم الإنجاز، فكيف يُعقل أن تقبل روسيا عملياً بتقسيم سورية، وتقاسمها بما يعني بقاء الحرب فيها مفتوحة، وهل تفك عقد التحالف مع إيران وسورية وقوى المقاومة، وتخاطر بهزيمة حضورها في المنطقة وهي تنتصر، خشية إغضاب تركيا و»إسرائيل»، وهي لم تفعل ذلك وهما في ذروة القوة، ترتضي فعله وهما مهزومتان؟

– اليوم سيستقبل الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين الرئيس التركي رجب أردوغان، والهدف التركي هو بحث المنطقة الآمنة، وسيسمع أردوغان كلاماً روسياً حاسماً حول احترام الشرعية السورية التي يمثلها الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد والجيش السوري، ورفض أي وجود عسكري على الأرض السورية خارج نطاق هذه الشرعية، وسيسمع كلاماً واضحاً وحاسماً عن التمسك بوحدة وسيادة سورية، وعن الضوابط التي تحكم مسار أستانة واستحالة التسامح مع انتهاكه، كما وصل لمسامع نتنياهو ما قاله المسؤولون الروس نقلاً عن الرئيس بوتين، بأن الحركة الإسرائيلية ستدفع المنطقة إلى مواجهة ستؤدي إلى تصادم إسرائيلي مع روسيا، وعندها يجب أن يكون كل طرف مدرك مسؤولياته، وثبات كلام الرئيس بوتين لكليهما يكفي إثباته بما يُقال لأحدهما، وطالما أن اللقاء اليوم سينتهي ببيان يمكن قراءة ما بين سطوره، سيكون مناسبة للإثبات والنفي لكل الذين يريدون التحقق.

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Palestinian Prisoners Announce Hunger Strike in Ofer

January 22, 2019

Ofer crackdown

Palestinian prisoners at Ofer detention center announced on Tuesday they were going on an open-ended hunger strike a day after IOF carried out a fierce crackdown on the prison cells, injuring about 100 Palestinian prisoners.

Prisoners’ committee of the of Islamic and National Powers in Gaza said that many prisoners are the victims of Israeli attacks and medical negligence in prisons.

“These Israeli attacks against the Palestinian prisoners won’t break the Palestinian prisoners’ will and persistence,” the committee stated.

The committee also warned of a Palestinian Intifada (uprising) across the Israeli prisons due to the aggressive policies committed by the Israeli Prison Service.

It also revealed that the first step to be followed in the prisoners’ combat program in Ofer is returning back meals, noting that more steps “are yet to come.”

For his part, Hamas lawmaker, Moshir al-Masri commented on the latest developments.

“If the occupation declared a war on prisoners, we’ll declare a war from our side,” al-Masri said.

Source: Palestinian media

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“Syria’s Retaliation against Tel Aviv Airport Non-negotiable of Self-Defense”and Return of Golan Firm, Non-negotiable Right

“Syria’s Retaliation against Tel Aviv Airport Legitimate Right of Self-Defense”

January 23, 2019Bashar Jaafari

Syria’s envoy to the United Nations warned Tuesday that if the world body did not halt Israeli aggression on his country, Syria would retaliate with an attack on Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv.

Speaking at the UN Security Council after a series of Israeli airstrikes on Sunday and Monday, Bashar Jaafari said the Zionist entity was only able to act freely in Syria because it had the backing of the US, UK and France in the Security Council.

“Syria would practice its legitimate right of self-defense and respond to the Israeli aggression on Damascus International Airport in the same way on Tel Aviv airport” if the UN Security Council didn’t adopt measures stop the Zionist entity, SANA news agency quoted Jaafari as saying.

“Isn’t time now for the UN Security council to stop the Israeli repeated aggression on the Syrian Arab republic territories,” Jaafari said.

The Syrian diplomat said meanwhile, that France, Britain and US’ stance that prevents Security Council from assuming its responsibilities will not affect Syria’s right to defend itself and work to restore the occupied Syrian Golan.

He stressed that the restoration of the Syrian Golan is a firm right for Syria which can’t be negotiable or abolished through prescription.

Jaafari noted that the Israeli occupation full withdrawal from Golan into the line of June 4th, 1967 is an issue that should be applied based on the international law principles and legitimacy resolutions including Security Council relevant resolutions No. 242, 338 and 497.

SourceAgencies

Al-Jaafari: Return of Golan to Syria’s Sovereignty Is Firm, Non-negotiable Right

 

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“Israel” Killing With Impunity, Lying Without Consequence?

 

The Guardian’s Editorial

In the last nine months of 2018, according to the United Nations, Palestinians – many of them children – were killed at the rate of around one a day while taking part in protests along “Israel’s” perimeter fence with Gaza about their right to return to ancestral homes.

They included medics and journalists. Most of the dead were unarmed and posed no danger to anyone, with little more than rocks in their hands and slogans on their lips. Yet “Israel” continued with an immoral and unlawful policy that sees soldiers of its military, which is under civilian control, shoot, gas, shell and kill protesters, including those who pose no credible threat.

Hospitals in Gaza, which already struggle under an “Israeli”-Egyptian blockade, have been stretched to breaking point in dealing with the flood of patients ferried in from the protests.

It would appear, sadly, that “Israel” wishes to conduct a war over the airwaves, as well as one on the ground, against the Palestinians. This blatant disregard for Gazan lives and the lack of accountability is underpinned by a politics of resentment and dissembling that has profound repercussions for “Israel.” If one can kill with impunity, then can one lie without consequence?

“Israel’s” Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, unexpectedly called for early elections in December in what seems a transparent bid to head off possible corruption charges. The decision by Netanyahu to dissolve the Knesset came days after the prosecutor’s office recommended that “Israel’s” attorney general indict Netanyahu on charges of bribery, which he denies. Netanyahu is not only running for a fifth term in office, he is also running for his political life. His lawyers, it is reported, are arguing that a possible indictment be delayed… Echoing his friend Donald Trump, Netanyahu has told reporters that “Israel” can choose its leadership only at the ballot box and not through legal investigations, which are a “witch-hunt”…

The novelist Amos Oz’s words that “even unavoidable occupation is a corrupting occupation” have been ignored for too long. Netanyahu’s nearest rival brags that he sent parts of Gaza “back to the stone age” when in the military. Netanyahu would dismiss Oz’s warnings; but perhaps he ought to take heed of the recent spat between the historian Benny Morris and the writer Gideon Levy. The former, who made his name by lifting the veil on the ethnic cleansings on which “Israel” was founded, but drifted rightwards to say that these heinous crimes did not go far enough, and the latter, a leftwing columnist, agree that the [so-called] ‘two-state’ solution is a fading prospect. Netanyahu lulls the public with the notion that a ‘two-state’ solution will wait until “Israel” deems the conditions to be ripe. He hints that new friends in Washington, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi will come up with a proposal the Palestinians will swallow. This is pure cynicism. There is no new plan – just a rebranding of the status quo, maintained by force by “Israel,” and with Palestinians within and without “Israel’s” [occupied] borders subjugated and dependent. “Israelis” must turn away from the occupation, which is debasing their society and suffocating the Palestinians.

Source: The Guardian, Edited by website team

IDF chief turned PM candidate touts body count & bombing Gaza into ‘stone age’ in campaign ad

IDF commander turned PM candidate touts body count & bombing Gaza into ‘stone age’ in campaign ad

IDF chief turned PM candidate touts body count & bombing Gaza into ‘stone age’ in campaign ad

Former Israeli Defense Forces chief turned political candidate Benny Gantz is touting the body count he racked up leading Operation Protective Edge with a campaign that boasts about bombing parts of Gaza “back to the Stone Age.”

Gantz has released a series of campaign ads for his “Hosen Le Yisrael” (Israel Resilience) party, glorifying the operation he oversaw as IDF commander as he attempts to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister in April’s election.

“Parts of Gaza were returned to the stone ages,” one clip boasts over footage of the bombed-out shells of Palestinian buildings. As chief of general staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, Gantz led the offensive that bombarded Gaza for 51 days, killing – as the ad boasts – “1,364 terrorists” and bringing “3.5 years of quiet.”

The second ad in the series shows a running tally of deaths over scenes of Palestinian funerals, and a third shows the targeted assassination of a Hamas leader whose car explodes in a ball of flame.

Gantz, whose campaign slogan translates to “Israel Before Everything,” seems convinced that Israeli voters pick their leaders by evaluating their death-dealing prowess – though he may be onto something, as recent polls have him trailing Netanyahu by just ten points. Hosen le Yisrael would win less than half as many seats as Netanyahu’s Likud party if the elections were held today, according to that poll.

Also on rt.com Israeli PM shows off beefed-up border fence in #10YearChallenge post

Palestinian and Israeli media have both taken issue with Gantz’s “terror” math. Using UN Human Rights Council figures, Electronic Intifada suggests that the ad tacitly admits that Gantz’s IDF targeted civilians, since less than 800 of those killed in Protective Edge were militants, while Haaretz notes that even the official Israeli military figures counts less than half of the Palestinian casualties as militants – meaning Gantz included close to 500 “uncategorized” casualties in his “terrorist” tally.

This accidental admission, EI points out, could help Palestinian-Dutch citizen Ismail Ziada in his lawsuit against Gantz – since Ziada’s suit alleges the bombing that killed his family was part of an official IDF policy to target civilian residences “in breach of international humanitarian law.”

Only the strong win,” the videos proclaim, echoing Netanyahu’s own militaristic rhetoric – though a fourth campaign spot features shots of Gantz looking thoughtful and platitudes about “striving and working toward” peace, seemingly beamed in from a parallel universe or someone else’s campaign.

israeli (apartheid state) Criminality, Hubris in Syria Invites Catastrophe

Israeli Criminality, Hubris in Syria Invites Catastrophe

Israeli Criminality, Hubris in Syria Invites Catastrophe

By Finian CUNNINGHAM | Strategic Culture Foundation | 22.01.2019

Israeli forces have shifted from a doctrine of “war by stealth” to openly declared aggression on its northern neighbor Syria. For two straight days, the Israelis bombarded Syria’s capital Damascus and its environs with dozens of air-launched cruise missiles. Many of the projectiles were reportedly intercepted by Russian-supplied air defense systems.

Nevertheless the Israeli blitzkrieg resulted in at least four Syrian military personnel being killed and damage to the civilian international airport near Damascus. That amounts to an outrageous war crime, as have countless air strikes carried out previously by Israel on Syria. Shamefully, the United Nations and Western governments maintain a hypocritical silence, while slapping sanctions on Syria, Russia and Iran over various alleged “transgressions”.

But what’s remarkable about the latest Israeli aggression is the public acknowledgement by the government in Tel Aviv. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while on an African tour at the weekend, openly acknowledged the Israeli air strikes, as did the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

“We have a set policy, to target the Iranian entrenchment in Syria, and to harm whoever tried to harm us,” said Netanyahu on a visit to Chad.

In a statement, the IDF said: “We have started striking Iranian Quds [Revolutionary Guards] targets in Syrian territory. We warn the Syrian Armed Forces against attempting to harm Israeli forces or territory.”

Earlier this month, Netanyahu bragged to his cabinet members in televised comments about the “success” of repeated air strikes on Syria purportedly against Iranian targets.

That was also around the same time the outgoing IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot boasted to Western media about “running a bombing campaign” against Syria with “thousands of strikes” over recent years on an almost daily basis.

One of those air strikes last September resulted in the death of 15 Russian aircrew when their IL-20 surveillance plane was mistakenly shot down by Syrian air defenses in what appeared to be a deliberate aerial trap set up by Israeli fighter jets. The incident sparked outrage in Moscow which then promptly delivered upgraded S-300 air defense systems to Syria. Those air defense systems may account for the successful interception of dozens of Israeli missiles in the latest barrage.

This change in Israeli policy from habitually issuing “no comment” responses after air strikes are reported in Syria to one where senior government figures are publicly exulting in the conduct of attacks is an extraordinary development.

Some observers have pointed out that it could be Netanyahu engaging in electioneering. He is seeking re-election in April and so may be playing the “tough guy” image to bolster his national security credentials among voters.

That may partly be the calculus. But there does appear also to be a bigger shift going in Israeli military strategy towards Syria and Iran.

No doubt the announced withdrawal of US troops from Syria by President Trump has thrown the various regional players into flux. Russia has emerged as the dominant military force in Syria and possibly the wider region due to its masterstroke of intervening in Syria to thwart the country’s foreign enemies waging their regime-change operation.

Of course, the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has emerged too with renewed confidence and respect in the region for its formidable defense. Syria’s allies Iran and Hezbollah have also gained immense kudos in helping the Arab country defeat the US-NATO-Israeli-Saudi axis and their terrorist proxy army.

Israeli paranoia over Iranian military presence in neighboring Syria has seen the Israelis lobbying Moscow to put limits on Iranian forces. Last month, Russian military officials were reportedly in Israel for discussions with Israeli counterparts. It is believed part of those talks – described as “tense” – were appeals by the Israelis to Russia to give guarantees about what they called “Iranian expansionism”. It appears that Moscow was not obliging.

In this context of flux, it seems that Israel is trying to desperately assert its influence over political and military developments in Syria that are viewed by the Israelis as negative. In trying to salvage its interests in the failed covert war for regime change in Syria, the Israelis are openly adopting criminal aggression with a hubris that is out of control.

The public admission of daily air strikes by Israeli leaders on Syria is an admission of war crimes. The strikes are wanton aggression and violation of international law. They can be in no way justified as “defensive” against “threats”.

Iranian and Hezbollah forces are in Syria legally at the request of the Damascus government, as are Russian military. Just because the Israelis have a paranoid obsession about Iran and Hezbollah does not give them any legal grounds to launch air strikes on Syria.

In the latest escalation it is openly admitted by the Israelis that they launched the missiles first. On Sunday morning, Israel attacked Damascus and southern Syria supposedly against “Iranian targets”.

Later, on Sunday afternoon, the Iranian forces fired a medium-range rocket from near Damascus aimed for Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israel’s Iron Dome air defense reportedly intercepted it successfully with no casualties among Israeli tourist skiers on the holiday resort slopes of Mount Hermon.

Then in the early hours of Monday, the Israelis launched more cruise missiles on Damascus. Syrian air defenses were warned by the Israeli’s to “hold fire”. When the Syrian air defense neutralized many of the incoming warheads, the Israelis turned around to target the Syrian army. Four Syrian military personnel were reportedly killed.

Evidently, even according to Israeli official accounts, it is the Israelis who are engaging in unwarranted first strikes. Their supposed “retaliation” to the Iran rocket on the Golan Heights is an oxymoron. Even more absurd, the Syrians are warned not to activate air defense systems while their country is being attacked. When Syria defends itself, its troops are then killed by enemy air strikes.

And let’s not forget, the Golan Heights are internationally recognized as Syrian territory which Israel annexed and has been illegally occupying since the 1967 Six Day War. Again, the Western hypocrisy is exposed with no sanctions on Israel, but Russia is being sanctioned for allegedly annexing Crimea in 2014.

Iran’s air force commander responded to the latest events, saying his nation was “ready for a war that will destroy the state of Israel”. Such a war could drag in the US and Russia – and lead to nuclear weapons being deployed. The Israeli regime with its 200-300 nuclear warheads is certainly criminally arrogant enough.

Israel’s reckless flouting of international law and its taunting of enemies may be just the kind of hubris that precedes a catastrophic fall.

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