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Showing posts from February 4, 2016

‘Dangerous precedent’: Turkey denies Russian observation flight along Syrian border

The Treaty on Open Skies which came into force in 2002 allows unarmed aerial observation flights over the territories of its 34 signatories, which includes Turkey. However the Russian An-30B plane was banned from conducting its surveillance flight over Turkish territory which was scheduled for February 1-5, without any prior warning.

“After the arrival of the Russian mission to Turkey and the announcement of the desired itinerary, the Turkish military officials refused to allow the inspection flight citing an order from the Turkish Foreign Ministry,” the head of the ministry’s National Nuclear Risk Reduction Center, Sergey Ryzhkov, said in a statement.

This is the first time that Turkey has refused a Russian observation flight over its territory. Since 2006 under the Treaty on Open Skies, Russia conducted approximately two observation flights a year. Turkey has flown over Russian airspace approximately four times a year.

But as tensions between Turkey and Russia intensified following the…

SAA CUTS OFF REBEL "LOC" WITH NORTHERN ALEPPO

As SST had forecast yesterday, the junction between SAA controlled Aleppo and the Shia enclaves of Nubl and Zahra, located some 7 miles North-West of the city's outskirts, was completed by armoured units of the R+6 in a matter of 24 hours. Despite the rebels throwing everything they got at the advancing SAA and NDF forces, the last village standing in the way of total junction was taken a couple of hours ago.

It had been four years since the enclave was cut off government controlled areas in Aleppo. Gaining access to it already represents a huge symbolic victory for the R+6, after the previous major siege they lifted around Kuweires airbase in November 2015. Additionally, and this is much more important in military terms, the R+6 will now make sure they can secure these territorial gains, withstand a probable rebel counter-attack, and then expand the area under their control, so as to make sure the rebels' Northern LOC with Azaz and Turkey is definitely interdicted.

With R+6 gai…

SHORT AND SHARP: SHOWDOWN AT ALEPPO

It is basically happening as you are reading this post. The SAA has launched further operations in Northern Aleppo which could prove decisive in cutting off what is left of the rebel forces of NW Syria from their LOCs and bases in Turkey. This new offensive had been building up for the past few days. The only thing uncertain was which main direction it would take ...

Well, it looks like the SAA and its allies decided and try and open the way to the Zubl and Zaara enclave, a small Shia area North-West of Aleppo that has been encircled for quite some time. The move into Zubl, which is actually a two pronged offensive, as the troops inside the enclave are also pushing towards SAA lines, will cut off the rebels' main LOC towards Azaz, the border-post to Turkey, thus preventing any resupply in manpower, weapons and ammunition getting into Aleppo, or Idlib, from that direction.

In combination with another ongoing operation aimed at retaking the power plant East of Aleppo, currently in the…

Oil Price Treachery: Are the Saudis Blackmailing Putin for Concessions on Syria?

By Mike Whitney

Here’s what you need to know about the Syria peace talks: Four of the most powerful militias currently operating in Syria have been excluded from the negotiations. The Islamic State (ISIS), Jabhat al Nusra, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have all been banned from the talks. What this means is that even if all the delegates agree to a ceasefire, it’s not going to matter. The fighting is going to continue. Everyone in the Obama administration already knows this, which is why we think the peace talks are a fraud designed to conceal Washington’s real objectives. (More on this later.)

The meetings that were supposed to begin on Friday, did not actually start until Monday following a series of diplomatic miscues over the weekend. As it happens, the main Syrian opposition groups, most of who operate under the aegis of the High Negotiations Committee, refused to come to Geneva until Russia met their demands concerning humani…