Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

Pakistan’s bombs death toll rises to 50 — Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, frequent partner of Islamic State, claims credit

June 24, 2017

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By Saud Mehsud | DERA ISMAIL KHAN, PAKISTAN

A faction of Pakistan-based sectarian militants Lashkar-e-Jhangvi on Saturday claimed responsibility for twin bombs that hit a market in the northwestern town of Parachinar, killing at least 50 people ahead of the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

LeJ’s Al Alami faction said in a statement it was targeting minority Shi’ite Muslims and threatened more attacks over Pakistanis fighting against Sunni militants in Syria’s civil war.

Video footage after the attack showed civilians dragging bleeding victims outside to waiting ambulances in the chaos that came when the bombs exploded before the sundown meal breaking the daily Ramadan fast.

“We have received 50 bodies so far, and 250 were wounded,” said Sabir Hussain, medical superintendent of Parachinar Hospital. Sixty of the seriously wounded had been transferred to the larger city of Peshawar, he added.

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A man who was injured in twin bomb blasts in Parachinar, is brought to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, Jun. 24, 2017. EPA/ARSHAD ARBAB

LeJ Al Alami, which has previously partnered with Middle East-based Islamic State to carry out attacks in Pakistan, said it has previously “warned the Shia community of Parachinar … to stop staining your hands with the blood of Sunnis in Syria”.

It repeated the demand in the statement, saying that “otherwise in the coming days you will face such hate-fueled and deadly attacks that you will not be able to stand them”.

Hundreds of Pakistanis – many of them Shi’ites believed recruited by Iran – have gone to fight in Syria to defend the government of Tehran’s ally, President Bashar al-Assad.

Assad’s government is also supported by Russian air strikes and fighters from Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia, against an array of Sunni rebels backed by Turkey and Arab states.

 A man who was injured in twin bomb blasts in Parachinar, is brought to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, Jun. 24, 2017. EPA/ARSHAD ARBABA man who was injured in twin bomb blasts in Parachinar, is brought to a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, Jun. 24, 2017. EPA/ARSHAD ARBAB

The United States, Turkey, Arab and European powers are also participating in a coalition bombing Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim militant group.

The market bombings in Parachinar late on Friday afternoon came on a particularly deadly day for Pakistan as both Sunni and Shia Muslims prepared to mark the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Another bombing in the southwestern city of Quetta killed 13 people and a drive-by shooting killed four police officers in the southern megacity of Karachi on Friday. Both of those attacks were claimed by another militant group, the Jamaat ur Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban.

Islamic State also claimed the Quetta attack through a messaging network. It had not commented on the Parachinar attack by Saturday afternoon.

Sunni-majority Pakistan also has a sizeable Shi’ite minority and has sought to avoid being dragged into sectarian strife that is rife in Syria and also the recent rift between Qatar and Saudia Arabia-led Sunni states that have cut off ties with Doha in part over its relations with Iran.

Pakistan’s military said late Friday it had tightened security across the country, including at the Afghan border, following the attacks.

“Enemy trying to mar festive mood of nation through such coward acts. Shall fail against resilience of Pakistan,” Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was quoted as saying in a tweet from the chief military spokesman.

(Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

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Pakistan: Bombings Kill At Least 45 Victims in Twin Blasts; 261 wounded, 62 listed in critical condition

June 24, 2017

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The death toll from twin blasts in the northwestern town of Parachinar climbed to 45 overnight, bringing the overall death toll from three separate attacks in Pakistan on Friday to 61, with several others in critical condition, officials said.

Shahid Khan, a government official in Parachinar, confirmed the toll Saturday, saying residents who had been preparing to celebrate the end of Ramadan were now in mourning. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group, claimed the twin bombings at a crowded market in the Shiite-dominated town, linking them to sectarian fighting in Syria.

Dr. Sabir Hussain, an official at a government-run hospital in Parachinar, said they had received 261 victims of the twin blasts, with 62 listed in critical condition.

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Parachinar is at the far west of Kurram, in the Tribal Areas of Pakistan, near Afghanistan.

Another 12 people were killed Friday in a suicide car bombing near the office of the provincial police chief in the southwestern city of Quetta, in an attack claimed by a breakaway Taliban faction and the Islamic State group. On Friday evening, gunmen in the port city of Karachi attacked police officers at a roadside restaurant, killing four of them before fleeing, senior police officer Asif Ahmed said.

Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, a military spokesman, linked the attacks to alleged militant sanctuaries in neighboring Afghanistan and promised greater border security. The two countries often accuse each other of turning a blind eye to militants.

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Pakistani police officers examine the site of an explosion in Quetta, Pakistan, June 23, 2017. AP

Security forces raided a militant hideout in the northwestern city of Peshawar before dawn Saturday, triggering a shootout in which three Pakistani Taliban were killed and two police officers were wounded, senior police official Sajjad Khan said. He said the militants were making bombs that likely would have been used to target holiday festivities.

Khan said the identity of the slain militants was not immediately known. But intelligence officials said one of the men has been identified as a wanted militant commander linked to the IS group. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attacks, which came just days before Eid-al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Friday’s car bombing in Quetta could be heard across the city, and shattered the windows of nearby buildings, said police spokesman Shahzada Farhat. TV footage showed several badly damaged cars and a road littered with broken glass.

Hours after the attack, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility. Later Friday, the IS group said in a competing claim that it was behind the attack, adding that one of its followers targeted the police post in Quetta, detonating his suicide belt there. It also released a photograph of the alleged attacker, identified as Abu Othman al-Khorasani.

Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, which has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch nationalists and separatists, who want a bigger share of the region’s resources or outright independence. Islamic militants have also carried out several attacks in the province.

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Associated Press writer Abdul Sattar in Quetta, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

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Twin blasts tore through a market crowded with Eid shoppers in a mainly Shia town, a suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden car and militants opened fire on police in separate attacks in Pakistan’s three major cities on Friday, killing 62 people and wounding nearly 100.

The blast was claimed by both the local affiliate of the Islamic State terror group and by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a splinter group of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.The suicide bomber blew up his explosives-laden car near Inspector General of Police Ehsan Mehboob’s office in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, killing at least 13 people, including seven policemen, and wounding 21 others.

Thirteen people, including seven policemen, died in the suicide car bombing, officials said.

Hours later, two back-to-back blasts tore through a market crowded with the people shopping for Eid in the Shia-dominated Parachinar city in the Kurram tribal region, killing at least 45 people, mostly Shias, and injuring 75 others.

The first blast occurred during rush hour in Turi Market, where a bus terminal is also located. The second blast took place as rescuers and bystanders rushed to aid those who had been hurt in the first explosion.

At least 45 people have been killed and 75 others injured in Parachinar, an official from the Parachinar administration told PTI.

Earlier, Medical Superintendent of the District General Hospital, Parachinar, Sabir Hussain, confirmed the death of at least 25 people and injuries to over 100 in the blasts. More than 20 of the injured were in critical condition.

No group claimed responsibility for the blasts. However, Sunni militant groups have claimed responsibility for several attacks in the area in the past.

On Friday evening two armed men on a motorcycle, with their faces covered with helmets, opened fire on police officers at a roadside restaurant in Karachi and killed four of them.

An assistant sub-inspector was among those killed in the attack, said Superintendent of Police Asif Ahmad.

In Parachinar, officials said the blasts on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramazan targeted people shopping in the area and those heading out of the city ahead of Eid.

The emergency and rescue services shifted injured to Agency Headquarters hospital Parachinar. The security forces cordoned off the entire area and started search operation.

Pakistan Army contingents and FC personnel reached the site of the attack to aid in rescue efforts.

“Two Army aviation helicopters have taken off from Peshawar to Parachinar for the speedy evacuation of the injured to Peshawar”, the army said in a statement.

“Rescue operation in progress,” it added.

Pakistan Army, meanwhile, launched a countrywide intelligence-led military operation against militants.

Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said that security has been tightened across the country.

“Special Intelligence-Based Operation (IBOs) and search operations (were) launched in coordination with intelligence and other Law Enforcement Agencies”, he said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attacks, saying that terrorists involved in the attacks will be taken to task and all out efforts will be taken to eliminate terrorism.

President Mamnoon Hussain, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Governor of Balochistan Muhammad Khan Achakzai and former president Asif Ali Zardari, among others, also condemned the attack.

Balochistan government spokesperson Anwarul Haq Kakar told Geo News that the suspected Quetta bomber tried to break a security perimetre to target the police offices but blew up after policemen standing guard attempted to stop him.

Kakar blamed India for the Quetta blast.

An initial investigation report by Civil Defence Director Aslam Tareen revealed that 75 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the Quetta blast.

DIG Quetta Abdul Razzaq Cheema, addressing the media, said they are examining CCTV footage to determine the details of the incident.

 http://www.firstpost.com/world/pakistan-bombings-62-killed-100-injured-in-multiple-attacks-in-quetta-karachi-parachinar-3740407.html

Published Date: Jun 24, 2017 09:48 am | Updated Date: Jun 24, 2017 09:51 am

Suicide Bomber Blows Himself Up as Saudis Foil Mecca Plot

June 24, 2017

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — A suicide bomber blew himself up near the Grand Mosque in Mecca as police disrupted a plot to target the holiest site in Islam just as the fasting month of Ramadan ends, Saudi security forces said Saturday.

The Interior Ministry said it launched a raid around Jiddah, as well as two areas in Mecca itself, including the Ajyad Al-Masafi neighborhood, located near the Grand Mosque.

There, police said they engaged in a shootout at a three-story house with a suicide bomber, who blew himself up and caused the building to collapse. He was killed, while the blast wounded six foreigners and five members of security forces, according to the Interior Ministry’s statement. Five others were arrested, including a woman, it said.

Saudi state television aired footage after the raid Friday near the Grand Mosque, showing police and rescue personnel running through the neighborhood’s narrow streets. The blast demolished the building, its walls crushing a parked car. Nearby structures appeared to be peppered with shrapnel and bullet holes.

The Interior Ministry said the thwarted “terrorist plan” would have violated “all sanctities by targeting the security of the Grand Mosque, the holiest place on Earth.”

“They obeyed their evil and corrupt self-serving schemes managed from abroad whose aim is to destabilize the security and stability of this blessed country,” it said.

The ministry did not name the group involved in the attack. The ultraconservative Sunni kingdom battled an al-Qaida insurgency for years and more recently has faced attacks from a local branch of the Islamic State group. Neither group immediately claimed involvement, though IS sympathizers online have urged more attacks as an offensive in Iraq slowly squeezes the extremists out of Mosul and their de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria comes under daily bombing from a U.S.-led coalition.

The disrupted attack comes at a sensitive time in Saudi Arabia. King Salman earlier this week short-circuited the kingdom’s succession by making his son, Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, first in line to the throne.

The newly appointed 31-year-old crown prince is the architect of Saudi Arabia’s stalemated war in Yemen against Shiite rebels. He has also offered aggressive comments about the kingdom confronting Shiite power Iran.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday condemned the Mecca plot and said it remains willing to work with other countries in confronting terrorism.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have cut diplomatic ties to neighboring Qatar and are trying to isolate the energy-rich country over its alleged support of militants and ties to Iran. Qatar long has denied those allegations.

As the Interior Ministry announced the raid, over 1 million Muslim faithful prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina to mark the end of Ramadan. In July 2016, a suicide bombing there killed four members of Saudi Arabia’s security forces.

Millions of Muslims from around the world visit the mosque, the burial site of the Prophet Muhammad, every year as part of their pilgrimage. The same day in July, separate suicide bomb attacks targeted a Shiite mosque in eastern Saudi Arabia and near the U.S. Consulate in Jiddah.

The Grand Mosque has been the target of militants before, in part because it represents a symbol of the ruling Al Saud family’s clout in the Islamic world. The Saudi monarch bears the title of “custodian of the two holy mosques.”

In 1979, some 250 militants seized the mosque and held it for two weeks as they demanded the royal family abdicate the throne. When Saudi troops stormed the mosque, the official death toll was 229, including extremists and soldiers.

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Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Associated Press writer Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

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Suicide bomber blows himself up near Mecca’s Grand Mosque as terrorist attack thwarted

Staff writers, APNews Corp Australia Network

A SUICIDE bomber blew himself up near the Grand Mosque at Mecca as police disrupted a plot to target the holiest site in Islam just as the fasting month of Ramadan ends, Saudi security forces said.

The Interior Ministry said it launched a raid in Jiddah province, as well as two areas in Mecca itself, including the Ajyad Al-Masafi neighbourhood, located near the Grand Mosque.

There, police said they engaged in a shootout at a three-storey house a suicide bomber, who blew himself up and led to the building’s collapse on Saturday.

REVEALED: Bali bombing ‘mastermind’ charged

According to police the bomber shot at them and blew himself up during the confrontation. Picture: AP

According to police the bomber shot at them and blew himself up during the confrontation. Picture: APSource:AP

The scene of the suicide bombing after a police raid in Mecca. Picture: AP

The scene of the suicide bombing after a police raid in Mecca. Picture: APSource:AP

He was killed while the blast wounded six foreigners and five members of security forces, according to the Interior Ministry’s statement.

Five others were arrested, including a woman, it said.

Saudi state television aired footage after the raid near the Grand Mosque, showing police and rescue personnel running through the neighbourhood’s narrow streets.

The blast demolished the building, its walls crushing a parked car as what appeared to be shrapnel and bullet holes peppered nearby structures.

The Interior Ministry “confirms that this terrorist network, whose terrorist plan was thwarted, violated, in what they would have perpetrated, all sanctities by targeting the security of the Grand Mosque, the holiest place on Earth.”

“They obeyed their evil and corrupt self-serving schemes managed from abroad whose aim is to destabilise the security and stability of this blessed country,” the statement said.

The ministry did not name the group involved in the attack.

The ultraconservative Sunni kingdom battled an al-Qaeda insurgency for years and more recently has faced attacks from a local branch of the Islamic State group.

Neither group immediately claimed those arrested, though Islamic State sympathisers online have urged more attacks as an offensive in Iraq slowly squeezes the extremists out of Mosul and their de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria comes under daily bombing from a U.S.-led coalition.

Muslim worshippers pray at the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Mecca. Picture: AFP

Muslim worshippers pray at the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

NEW CROWN PRINCE

The disrupted attack comes at a sensitive time in Saudi Arabia as King Salman earlier this week short-circuited the kingdom’s succession by making his son, Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman, first in line to the throne.

The newly appointed crown prince, 31 years old, is the architect of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen against Shiite rebels, now stalemated.

He has also offered aggressive comments about the kingdom confronting Shiite power Iran.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries have cut diplomatic ties to neighbouring Qatar and are trying to isolate the energy-rich tiny country over its alleged support of militants and ties to Iran. Qatar long has denied those allegations.

As the Interior Ministry announced the raid, over one million Muslim faithful prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina to mark the end of Ramadan.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Picture: AFP

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Picture: AFPSource:AFP

In July 2016, a suicide bombing there killed four members of Saudi Arabia’s security forces. Millions of Muslims from around the world visit the mosque, the burial site of the Prophet Muhammad, every year as part of their pilgrimage to Mecca.

The Grand Mosque has been the target of militants before, in part as it represents a symbol of the ruling Al Saud family’s clout in the Islamic world.

King Salman is known as the “custodian of the two holy mosques,” a title used by the monarchs before him as well.

In 1979, some 250 militants seized the mosque and held it for two weeks as they demanded the royal family abdicate the throne.

When Saudi troops stormed the mosque, the official death toll was 229, including extremists and soldiers.

http://www.news.com.au/world/middle-east/suicide-bomber-blows-himself-up-near-meccas-grand-mosque-as-terrorist-attack-thwarted/news-story/ead53cb1d0c6c2c2ad1f885959351ec3

Hezbollah Says Future Israel War Could Draw Fighters From Iran, Iraq, Elsewhere — “Hundreds of thousands of fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world [would] participate.”

June 23, 2017

BEIRUT — Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Friday that a future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon could draw thousands of fighters from countries including Iran, Iraq and Yemen.

His comments indicated that the same array of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias – but not countries – currently fighting in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad could take part in any future conflict with Israel.

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Tensions have risen between Hezbollah and its longtime foe Israel in recent months since Donald Trump became U.S. president with his tough talk against Iran. Israel’s air force chief said his country would use all its strength from the start in any new war with Hezbollah.

“The Israeli enemy must know that if an Israeli war is launched against Syria or Lebanon, it is not known that the fighting will remain Lebanese-Israeli, or Syrian-Israeli,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech.

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Iraqi Shiite militia. AFP photo

“This doesn’t mean there are states that might intervene directly. But this could open the way for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world to participate,” he said.

Nasrallah has repeatedly warned Israel against attacking Lebanon, where the Iran-backed Shi’ite group is based, and from where it sends fighters to support Assad against insurgents. He says Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal can hit any military target in Israel, which is Lebanon’s southern neighbour.

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He said any Israeli war with Lebanon or the Gaza Strip, which is run by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, would be “very costly” and that Israel would not be able to win.

Israel has targeted senior Hezbollah commanders in air raids on Syrian soil. But there has been no major confrontation between Hezbollah and Israel in Lebanon since a month-long war between the two sides in 2006.

(Reporting by Laila Bassam and John Davison; Editing by Gareth Jones)

David Stockman Warns “A Great Big Coup Is On The Way” — Intelligence agencies and political operatives in the Obama White House could have been a party to unconstitutional interference in the election process

June 23, 2017

Submitted by David Stockman via The Daily Reckoning,

So let’s start with an obvious point about the whole Russia fiasco…

Namely, there is no “there, there.” First off, the president has the power to declassify secret documents at will. But in this instance he could also do that without compromising intelligence community (IC) “sources and methods” in the slightest.

That’s because after Edward Snowden’s revelations in 2013, the whole world was put on notice — and most especially Washington’s adversaries — that it collects every single electronic digit that passes through the worldwide web and related communications grids.

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Washington essentially has universal and omniscient SIGINT (signals intelligence). Acknowledging that fact by publishing the Russia-Trump intercepts would provide new knowledge to exactly no one.

Nor would it jeopardize the lives of any American spy or agent (HUMINT). It would just document the unconstitutional interference in the election process that had been committed by the U.S. intelligence agencies and political operatives in the Obama White House.

That pales compared to whatever noise comes out of Langley (CIA) and Ft. Meade (NSA). And I do mean noise.

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Yes, I can hear the boxes on the CNN screen harrumphing that declassifying the “evidence” would amount to obstruction of justice! That is, since Trump’s “crime” is a given (i.e. his occupancy of the Oval Office), anything that gets in the way of his conviction and removal therefrom amounts to “obstruction.”

Given that he is up against a Deep State/Democratic/Neoconservative/mainstream media prosecution, the Donald has no chance of survival short of an aggressive offensive of the type I just described.

But that’s not happening because the man is clueless about what he is doing in the White House. And he’s being advised by a cacophonous coterie of amateurs and nincompoops. So he has no action plan except to impulsively reach for his Twitter account.

That became more than evident — and more than pathetic, too — when he tweeted out an attack on his own Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein. At least Nixon fired Elliot Richardson (his Attorney General) and Bill Ruckelshaus (Deputy AG):

I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.

Alone with his Twitter account, clueless advisors and pulsating rage, the Donald is instead laying the groundwork for his own demise. Were this not the White House, this would normally be the point at which they send in the men in white coats with a straight jacket.

Indeed, that’s essentially what the Donald’s so-called GOP allies on the Hill are actually doing.

RussiaGate is a witch hunt like few others in American political history. Yet as the mainstream cameras and microphones were thrust at one Congressional Republican after another following the Donald’s outburst quoted above, there was nary an echo of agreement.

Even Senator John Thune, an ostensible Swamp-hating conservative, had nothing but praise for Special Counsel Robert Mueller, that he would fairly and thoroughly get to the bottom of the matter.

No he won’t!

Mueller is a card-carrying member of the Deep State who was there at the founding of today’s surveillance monster as FBI Director following 9/11. Since the whole $75 billion apparatus that eventually emerged was based on an exaggerated threat of global Islamic terrorism, Russia had to be demonized into order to keep the game going — a transition that Mueller fully subscribed to.

So he will “find” extensive Russian interference in the 2016 election and bring the hammer down on the Donald for seeking to prevent it from coming to light. The clock is now ticking. And his investigatory team is being packed with prosecutorial killers with proven records of thuggery. They’re determined to find crimes that create fame and fortune for prosecutors — even if the crime itself never happened.

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FBI Director Robert Mueller in a 2013 file photo by  J. Scott Applewhite AP

For example, Mueller’s #1 hire was the despicable Andrew Weissmann. This character had led the fraud section of the department’s Criminal Division and served as general counsel to the F.B.I. when Mueller was its director. And more importantly, Weissmann was the driving force behind the Enron task force — the most egregious exercise in prosecutorial abuse and thuggery in 100 years.

Meanwhile, the GOP leadership could not be clearer about what is coming down the pike.

They are not defending Trump with even a hint of the vigor and resolve that I recall from the early days of Tricky Dick Nixon’s ordeal. Of course, Nixon didn’t survive anyway.

Instead, it’s as if Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, et al. have offered to hold his coat, while the Donald pummels himself with a 140-character Twitter Knife that is visible to the entire world.

So there should be no doubt. A Great Big Coup is on the way.

But here’s the irony of the matter: Exactly four years ago in June 2013 no one was seriously demonizing Putin or Russia. In fact, the slicksters of CNN were still snickering about Mitt Romney’s silly claim during the 2012 election campaign that Russia was the greatest security threat facing America.

But then came the Syrian jihadist false flag chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013 and the U.S. intelligence community’s flagrant lie that it had proof the villain was Bashar Assad.

To the contrary, it subsequently became evident that the primitive rockets that had carried the deadly sarin gas, which killed upwards of 1500 innocent civilians, could not have been fired from regime held territory. The rockets examined by UN investigators had a range of only a few kilometers, not the 15-20 kilometers from the nearest Syrian base.

In any event, President Obama chose to ignore his own red line and called off the bombers. That in turn paved the way for Vladimir Putin to persuade Assad to give up all of his chemical weapons — a commitment he fully complied with over the course of the next year.

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Needless to say, in the eyes of the neocon War Party, this constructive act of international statesmanship by Putin was the unforgivable sin. It thwarted the next target on their regime change agenda — removal of the Assad government in Syria as a step toward an ultimate attack on its ally, the Shiite regime of Iran.

So it did not take long for the Deep State to retaliate. While Putin was basking in the glory of the 2014 winter Olympics at Sochi, the entire apparatus of Imperial Washington — the CIA, the National Endowment for Democracy, the State Department and a long string of Washington funded NGOs — was on the ground in Kiev assisting the putsch that overthrew Ukraine’s constitutionally elected President and Russian ally.

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From there, the Ukrainian civil war and partition of Crimea inexorably followed, as did the escalating campaign against Russia and its leader.

So as it turned out, the War Party could not have planned a better outcome — especially after Russia moved to protect its legitimate interests in its own backyard resulting from the Washington-instigated civil war in Ukraine. That included protecting its 200-year old naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea.

The War Party simply characterized these actions falsely as acts of aggression against Russia’s European neighbors.

There is nothing like a demonized enemy to keep the $700 billion national security budget flowing and the hideous Warfare State opulence of the Imperial City intact. So why not throw in an allegedly “stolen” U.S. election to garnish the case?

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In a word, the Little Putsch in Kiev is now begetting a Great Big Coup in the Imperial City.

This is a history-shattering development, but don’t tell the boys and girls and robo-machines on Wall Street.

Pathetically, they still think it’s game on.

So if there was ever a time to take advantage of the day traders and robo-machines which linger in the casino, now would be the occasion to sell, sell, sell. Once the breakdown starts there will be no respite from the implosion.

 http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-22/stockman-warns-great-big-coup-way

Russian Navy Launches Missile Strikes on IS Target in Syria: RIA

June 23, 2017

MOSCOW — Russian naval vessels launched missile strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria’s Hama province, destroying command points and weapon and ammunition stores, RIA news agency cited the Russian defense ministry as saying on Friday.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Christian Lowe)

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Published time: 23 Jun, 2017 05:35
Edited time: 23 Jun, 2017 06:40

Two Russian Navy frigates and a submarine have fired six Kalibr cruise missiles on Islamic State targets in Syria, the Defense Ministry said. Militants who survived the attack were later killed in airstrikes.

© Russian Defence Ministry / Global Look PressRussian frigate & submarine fire 4 cruise missiles at ISIS targets near Palmyra – MoD

The missiles were launched from Russian Navy frigates, the Admiral Essen and the Admiral Grigorovich, as well as a submarine, the Krasnodar, from the eastern Mediterranean, the Defense Ministry said in a Friday statement. The submarine fired its missiles while submerged.

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Russian Navy frigate Admiral Essen

The strikes targeted Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) command and control centers, as well as ammunition depots in the Syrian province of Hama.

Today’s precision strike hit a large IS ammunition depot near the town of Aqerbat, which detonated after receiving a direct hit, the Defense Ministry statement noted.

The remaining targets were destroyed in subsequent airstrikes, the ministry said. Russia warned Turkey and Israel about the attacks via military-to-military hotlines, it added.

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Over the past week, Islamic State militants made numerous attempts to escape the besieged city of Raqqa and head towards Palmyra using a “southern corridor,” according to the Russian military.

The terrorists are moving forces through rugged terrain to the Hama province during the night and setting up command posts and ammunition depots in large buildings there, it added.

The movements of IS militants in the area are being monitored by Russian surveillance assets operating round the clock, the military said, adding that any potential targets detected will be subject to precision strikes by the Air Force.

Earlier in May, the same warships fired four cruise missiles that hit combat vehicles and militants outside the Syrian city of Palmyra.


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According to the Defense Ministry, “[the ships] targeted an area east of Palmyra, where the militants’ heavy weaponry and manpower were located. The militants had moved there from Raqqa. All targets were destroyed,” it said.

The strike was launched after a large Islamic State convoy, comprising 39 vehicles and 120 militants, was spotted outside the city of Raqqa, a Defense Ministry source told RIA Novosti at the time.

“The terrorist convoy of 39 pickup trucks was detected and destroyed by the Air Force on its way to Palmyra,” the source said, adding that the vehicles had been equipped with large-caliber machine guns.

Back in August of last year, the Russian Black Sea Fleet also fired Kalibr cruise missiles over unpopulated areas to destroy a command post and munitions production site of another terrorist group operating in Syria, the Al-Nusra Front, the Russian military said.

https://www.rt.com/news/393667-russian-navy-isis-cruise-missiles/

Arab states send Qatar 13 demands to end crisis, official say

June 23, 2017

Reuters

Four Arab states boycotting Qatar over alleged support for terrorism have sent Doha a list of 13 demands including closing Al Jazeera television and reducing ties to their regional adversary Iran, an official of one of the four countries said.

The list, compiled by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain as the price for ending the worst Gulf Arab crisis in years, also demands the closing of a Turkish military base in Qatar, the official told Reuters.

Qatar must also announce it is severing ties with terrorist, ideological and sectarian organizations including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State, al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Jabhat Fateh al Sham, formerly al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, he said, and surrender all designated terrorists on its territory,

The countries give Doha 10 days to comply, failing which the list becomes ‘void’, the official said without elaborating. The demands were handed to Qatar by Kuwait, which is mediating in the dispute, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The four Arab countries accuse Qatar of funding terrorism, fomenting regional instability and cozying up to revolutionary theocracy Iran. Qatar has denied the accusations.

U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a tough stance on Qatar, accusing it of being a “high level” sponsor of terrorism, but he has also offered help to the parties in the dispute to resolve their differences.

Turkey has backed Qatar during the three-week-old crisis. It sent its first ship carrying food aid to Qatar and dispatched a small contingent of soldiers and armored vehicles there on Thursday, while President Tayyip Erdogan spoke with Saudi Arabia’s leaders on calming tension in the region.

(Reporting by William Maclean; Editing by Rania El Gamal and Paul Tait)

France’s special forces not specifically targeting French-born jihadis fighting for Islamic State in Mosul

June 22, 2017

PARIS — The head of France’s special forces said on Thursday his units were directly involved in street battles in Mosul’s Old City but denied they were specifically targeting French-born jihadis fighting for Islamic State.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that French citizens had been killed by Iraqi artillery and ground troops using location coordinates and other intelligence supplied by French special forces during the battle to drive the extremist group from the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Image result for France, special forces, photos

About 700 French nationals are fighting in Islamic State ranks in Iraq and Syria. French officials have in the past said their priority on the ground was to ensure they did not return to their homeland to carry out attacks.

“We don’t do specific targeting. It makes no sense,” Vice-admiral Laurent Isnard, who heads up the Special Forces Command (COS), told reporters in a rare exchange.

“We’re facing fighters. We’re in tiny streets, districts and are attacking the medina. We’re on the frontline and are dealing with people who we come across. How are you supposed to know who is in front of you beforehand? They don’t stand exposed with their biography,” he said.

France, the first country to join U.S.-led air strikes in Iraq, carries out aerial operations against Islamic State from its bases in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. Image result for France, special forces, photos

It also has dozens of special forces operating in the region, provides weapons to Iraqi Kurds and has deployed artillery to support Iraqi troops.

“The objective is to take back streets, districts and houses,” he said.

Isnard said French forces were sharing intelligence with Iraqis, but solely to assess “how the enemy was organized.”

The “liberation” of Mosul from Islamic State will be announced in a few days, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Thursday.

(Reporting by Sophie Louet; writing by John Irish; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres: We need the U.S. not to reject its leadership role

June 21, 2017

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned the Trump administration on Tuesday that if the United States disengages from many issues confronting the international community it will be replaced — and that won’t be good for America or for the world.

Guterres made clear to reporters at his first press conference here since taking the reins of the United Nations on Jan. 1 that proposed cuts in U.S. funding for the U.N. would be disastrous and create “an unsolvable problem to the management of the U.N.”

But the U.N. chief stressed that he is not afraid to stand up to President Donald Trump, citing his vocal opposition to the U.S. leader’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement. He said the mobilization of U.S. business and civil society in support or the climate deal is “a signal of hope that we very much encourage.”

Looking at the array of global crises, Guterres expressed concern that there could be a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia over Syria and urged a de-escalation of the dispute between Washington and Moscow over the U.S. downing of a Syrian jet.

This is very important, he said, “because these kind of incidents can be very dangerous in a conflict situation in which there are so many actors, and in which the situation is so complex on the ground.”

“So, indeed, I am concerned, and I hope that this will not lead to any escalation of the conflict that is already as dramatic as it is,” Guterres said.

The U.N. chief said he has been actively involved in trying to promote “effective mediation” in a large number of global conflicts including South Sudan, Congo, Central African Republic, Syria, Libya and more recently Afghanistan and Cyprus.

“That doesn’t mean that problems are easy to be solved,” he said. “In a world where power relations are unclear and where impunity and unpredictability tend to prevail, what we see is that the capacity of prevention and conflict resolution of the international community as a whole, but also of the U.N. in particular, are today severely limited.

Nonetheless, Guterres said: “I intend to go on very actively engaged in these kind of contacts.”

He reiterated, however, that he thought the most likely successful mediation of the dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries should be regional like the current effort led by Kuwait.

But he said if the United States gets involved in mediation, “that, of course, will be welcome if they are able to do so in an effective way.”

He also said the U.N. has not taken any initiative in mediation of the North Korean nuclear dispute, leaving the effort at the moment to the Security Council.

“We know that there are important talks taking place by different countries that have leverage and influence in relation to the countries in the region,” Guterres said.

The secretary-general, who served as U.N. high commissioner for refugees for 10 years, chose World Refugee Day for the press conference and appealed to all U.N. member states not to refuse entry to those seeking asylum and deserving protection.

He also urged rich countries to do much more to support the 80 percent of the world’s refugees living in the developing world — and to increase the number of refugees they will give new homes to.

The United States is “by far the largest resettlement country in the world” with a “very generous and positive policy,” Guterres said.

But Trump is moving to significantly reduce the number of refugees allowed to enter the United States, even as his bid to temporarily suspend admissions is stalled in the courts. His budget proposal calls for a 25 percent cut in funds for resettling refugees on American soil.

Guterres said he has strongly encouraged the United States “to come back to the levels of resettlement that we witnessed until two or three years ago.”

The secretary-general announced that he plans to visit Washington soon to engage “positively and constructively” with members of Congress on the need for the United States as the largest contributor to U.N. budgets to maintain support for the 193-member world organization.

Asked about a new world order sparked by the Trump administration’s actions, Guterres said: “I believe that if the United States disengages in relation of many aspects of foreign policy and many of international relations, it will be unavoidable that other actors will occupy that space.”

“And I don’t think this is good for the United States and I don’t think this is good for the world,” he said.

– See more at: http://wtop.com/government/2017/06/un-chief-us-will-be-replaced-if-it-disengages-from-world/#sthash.k6zRvrvh.dpuf

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U.N. Chief Warns U.S. of Risks of Rejecting Leadership Role

Australia to Resume Airstrikes Against IS Targets

June 21, 2017

CANBERRA, Australia — Australia’s defense chief says Australian F/A-18F Super Hornets will soon resume airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria after operations were suspended as precaution because a U.S. fighter jet shot down a Syrian warplane earlier this week.

Australian Defense Force Chief Mark Binskin says the six Australian warplanes suspended operations in Syria while the Australians examined what was happening in what he had described as a “complex piece of airspace” over Syria.

Image result for Australian Defense Force Chief Mark Binskin, photos

Australian Defense Force Chief Mark Binskin

He told reporters in the Australian capital Canberra: “It won’t be long before you start to see the operations again.”

Binskin says the warplanes had been occupied recently supporting Iraqi security forces in retaking the city of Mosul.