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Showing posts from February 28, 2013

Insight: Syria rebels bolstered by new arms but divisions remain

(Reuters) - Syrian rebels have received advanced weapons aimed at narrowing the arms gap with President Bashar al-Assad's forces and reinforcing a new rebel military command which Western countries hope can dilute the strength of Islamist fighters.

Several rebel commanders and fighters told Reuters that a shipment which reached Syria via Turkey last month comprised shoulder-held and other mobile equipment including anti-aircraft and armor-piercing weapons, mortars and rocket launchers.

Rebels told Reuters the weapons, along with money for cash payments for fighters, were being distributed through a new command structure, part of a plan by foreign backers to centralize control over rebel units and check Islamists linked to al-Qaeda. However, in a sign of the difficulty in uniting disparate fighting groups, some rebels said they had turned down the arms and refused to submit to the new command.

While not nearly enough to tip the military balance against Assad, who is able to deploy ai…

Ecuador extradites wanted Russian to Russia

The Ecuadorian authorities have extradited Russian citizen Maxim Myasnikov, who was wanted by Interpol, to his homeland. He is charged with murder, illegal weapons possession and belonging to an organized criminal group. Myasnikov, 36, settled in the South American country in November of 2006. He was arrested in July of 2011 when he was living in a suburb of Quito called Cumbayá and where he had a business trading in building materials. In October 2011, an Ecuadorian court ruled Myasnikov could be released from custody and that he could await the results of his extradition hearings to Russia while he was free.

5 high-end Su-34 bombers join Russian air fleet

Another five cutting-edge Su-34 bomber jets have entered the Russian Air Force. They will be deployed with the air fleet of Russia’s Western Military District. During the week of test flights experts tested all their systems and deemed the aircraft operational. On Friday, the five brand-new bombers, produced by the Novosibirks Chkalov factory, will be taken to the Airport Baltimor in Voronezh, where they will enter the second squadron of a dozen Su-34 jets

40,000 killed by terrorists in Pakistan

Pakistan’s losses from terrorism include more than 40,000 deaths and almost $60 billion in economic damage. Such figures were released by the Speaker of the Pakistani Senate (the upper house of parliament) Syed Bokhari. "Our losses total more than 35,000 civilians casualties and 5,000 military personnel and our economic losses exceed $ 58 billion," said Bokhari. The high level of terrorist threat is bad for the economy, is an obstacle to foreign investment, and has a major impact on social and political harmony and stability in Pakistan.

Syrian rebels claim to kill Hezbollah deputy chief

Hezbollah's deputy chief was killed Tuesday when Syrian rebels bombed a convoy consisting of high-ranking Syrian government officers near the Lebanon border, news portal Now Lebanon quoted the Free Syria Army as saying on Wednesday. “It has been confirmed... that Hezbollah’s number two man died after [receiving] a serious injury,” the Free Syria Army posted on its Twitter account. Naim Qassem, reportedly killed in the attack, has served as the deputy to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Lebanese newspaper al-Mustaqbal quoted the Syrian rebels as saying mines placed on the Beirut-Damascus highway had detonated as the convoy returned from a high-level security meeting in Lebanon. The explosion reportedly took place near the town of Jdeidet Yabous near the Lebanon-Syria border. The al-Mustaqbal report made no mention of Qassem being killed in the attack, saying that he had merely been injured. Nasarallah was scheduled to make a televised address on Wednesday evening after it had be…

Suicide Bomber Targets Afghan Army Bus

A suicide bomber in Kabul has detonated his explosives near a bus carrying Afghan army personnel.

Kabul police say the attack wounded at least six soldiers and four civilians.

Defense Ministry spokesman Dawlat Waziri said the bomber attempted to get on the bus and when he was stopped, he detonated his explosives outside the bus.

A witness told the AP news agency that he saw man in a black coat slide himself under the bus before setting off a huge blast.

AP received a text message from Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claiming responsibility for the attack.

Taliban Attack On Afghan Police Checkpoint Kills 17

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

Afghan officials say a Taliban attack on a police checkpoint in the country's east has left 17 people dead.

The details of the predawn attack are unclear, and officials said they were investigating how the militants breached security at the post in Ghazni Province.

Provincial Governor Musa Khan Akbarzada said the attackers killed 10 police officers and seven civilians inside a police checkpoint in Andar district.

Two other provincial officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said all victims were policemen and had been poisoned before being shot dead.

"The New York Times" meanwhile quoted unnamed officials as saying the victims had been drugged by militants posing as policemen.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed the attack for the militants in a phone call to French news agency AFP.

Earlier in the day, a suicide bomber in the Afghan capital, Kabul, detonated his explosives near a bus carrying Afghan army personnel, wounding a…

Brazil to make 20 aircraft for Afghan air force

WASHINGTON (PAN): The United States on Wednesday announced a Brazilian
firm would supply 20 aircraft to the fledging Afghan air force months
before the scheduled 2014 completion of security transition.
The US Air Force has decided to award Sierra Nevada/Embraer a $427
million contract to provide light air support aircraft and associated
maintenance and training for the Afghan Air Force, a Pentagon official
Press Secretary George Little told journalists Deputy US Defense
Secretary Ash Carter called Brazilian Minister of Defence Celso Amorim
to inform him about the decision.
“Under this contract, 20 aircraft are scheduled to be delivered to
operational air bases in Afghanistan beginning in the summer of 2014
to conduct advanced flight training, surveillance, close air support
and air interdiction missions,” Little said.
The platform was critical to providing enabling support to the Afghan
National Security Forces as part of America’s enduring support to the
country following the completion of the…

Syrian troops kill dozens of gunmen on outskirts of Damascus

Syrian Army soldiers have killed dozens of foreign-sponsored militants during mop-up operations on the outskirts of Damascus, Press TV reports.

A number of gunmen were killed during intense clashes with Syrian troops in the town of Daraya, located 8 kilometers (5 miles) southwest of Damascus, on Tuesday, the state-run SANA news agency reported.

In addition, a unit of the Syrian Army killed several snipers in the town. Government troops also destroyed a car loaded with weapons and munitions in a separate operation.

Elsewhere, Syrian troops attacked gunmen and killed a large number of them in the town of al-Nabek, located some 80 kilometers (about 50 miles) northeast of Damascus, on Tuesday.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of t…

US to bolster support for Syrian rebels

The US will increase aid to the Syrian opposition in an effort to speed a political transition in Syria, according to the White House spokesman.

The remarks by Jay Carney came after the Washington Post newspaper reported on Wednesday that the White House was considering a shift in policy towards the nearly two-year-long conflict in Syria, such as sending the rebels body armour and armed vehicles and, possibly, providing military training.

"We are constantly reviewing the nature of the assistance we provide to both the Syrian people, in form of humanitarian assistance, and to the Syrian opposition in the form of non-lethal assistance," Carney said.

The US has sided with the Syrian opposition in seeking the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power.

"We will continue to provide assistance to the Syrian people, to the Syrian opposition, we will continue to increase our assistance in the effort to bring about a post-Assad Syria," Carney said.

Call for dialogue