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Showing posts from October 6, 2015

ISIS BLOWN UP 'ARCH OF TRIUMPH' IN SYRIA’S 1,800-YEAR-OLD PALMYRA RUINS

The 1,800-year-old monumental arch, which framed the approach to the Roman city, was blown up Sunday, Syria's Directorate General for Antiquities and Museums said, citing witnesses in the local community. ISIS jihadists seized control of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the surrounding area from Syrian government forces in May. Since then, the Islamic extremists have beheaded the antiquities expert who looked after the ruins and set about demolishing their architectural riches. In August, they leveled two temples of immense cultural significance -- the Temple of Bel and the Temple of Baalshamin -- prompting outrage and condemnation from around the world. The Arch of Triumph, consisting of one large arch flanked by two smaller ones, opened onto Palmyra's elegant Colonnade. The top of the arch was decorated with "beautiful geometrical and plant ornaments," the Syrian antiquities directorate said. UNESCO, the United Nations cultural organization, describes the…

NATO TO RUSSIA: STOP AIR STRIKES OR FACE CONSEQUENCES

Nato has urged Russia to end air strikes “on the Syrian opposition (ISIS) and civilians”, days after Moscow began raids to support Syria’s government. Moscow says it is targeting Islamic State and other Islamist positions, but US-led allies and Turkey say government opponents are targeted. Turkish F-16 fighter jets were scrambled after a Russian plane entered Turkey’s air space on Saturday. Nato said Russia’s actions “have reached a more dangerous level”. Russia said the incident was a “navigational error”. The US said Turkey would have been within its rights to shoot the jets down. Saturday’s interception took place near Yayladagi in the southern Hatay region, Turkey says. The foreign ministry in Ankara said it had summoned the Russian ambassador to issue a “strong protest”. Turkish jets patrolling the border were also “harassed” by an unidentified plane on Sunday, Turkey said. A statement by Nato’s 28 members, that include Turkey, warned of “the extreme danger of such irresponsible …

RUSSIAN AIR FORCE DESTROYS 20 ISIS TANKS AT PALMYRA, NEAR THE MONUMENT ISIS DESTOYED

During the day, Sukhoi-34, Sukhoi-24M and Sukhoi-25 warplanes flew a total of 15 sorties from the Khmeimim airbase. Air strikes were delivered at ten targets of the Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] group in Syria,” Igor Konashenkov, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said in a statement on Monday. A pair of Su-25Ms (NATO reporting name: Frogfoot) together with an Su-24 (NATO reporting name: Fencer) carried out strikes on two IS targets in the eastern part of Homs province near the city of Tadmur, he said. “About 20 units of medium T-55 tanks, which were earlier seized by the militants from the Syrian army, have been destroyed [in the strikes],” as well as three multiple rocket launchers, he noted ( via rt.com ). A video released by the ministry also showed a strike against an IS ammunition depot in Homs. The ministry explained: “Bright flashes confirm detonation of munitions caused by direct hits of air bombs. Thick smoke provides evidence of fire in the depot.”

Syria crisis: Let's welcome Russia's entry into this war

Russia’s military intervention in Syria, although further internationalising the conflict, does however present opportunities, as well as complications. There are no simple solutions to this terrible war which has destroyed Syria. Out of a population of 22 million, four million Syrians are refugees abroad and seven million have been displaced inside the country.

I was recently in Kurdish-controlled north-east Syria, where the bomb-shattered ruins of Kobani look like pictures of Stalingrad after the battle. But equally significant is the fact that even in towns and villages from which Islamic State (Isis) has been driven, and where houses are largely undamaged, people are too terrified to return.

Syrians are right to be afraid. They know that what happens on the battlefield today may be reversed tomorrow. At this stage, the war is a toxic mix of half a dozen different confrontations and crises, involving players inside and outside the country. Intertwined struggles for power pit Assad …