Kremlin condemns Israel for attacking Iranian targets in Syria calling it ‘Irresponsible’

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Russia Demands Israel Unconditionally Stop ‘Unacceptable’ Airstrikes in Syria
  • Moscow on Monday demanded that Israel stop its “categorically unacceptable” airstrike campaign against Iranian-backed targets in Syria, signaling a further breakdown of ties between Jerusalem and the Kremlin.
  • “We strongly condemn such irresponsible actions that violate the sovereignty of Syria and the basic norms of international law, and we demand their unconditional cessation,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said following an alleged Israeli airstrike on Saturday near a Russian stronghold in Syria.
  • Syria accused Israel of launching an “air aggression” from the Mediterranean with several missiles hitting near the Syrian city of Tartus, where one of Russia’s main naval bases is located.
  • Last month, Russia condemned an alleged Israeli airstrike on June 10 targeting the Damascus International airport. Israel had accused Iran of smuggling weapons to its proxies in the region on civilian flights.

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Israel targets Iranian forces in Syria: Russia response firing S-300 for the first time

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • In first, Russian military said to fire S-300 missiles at Israeli jets over Syria
  • The report said the Syrian military fired off dozens of anti-aircraft missiles, which have been largely ineffective at halting the hundreds of Israeli strikes on Syria in recent years.
  • However, this time the S-300 batteries also opened fire as the jets were departing the area, Channel 12 said. The report noted that Syria’s S-300 batteries are operated by the Russian military and cannot be fired without their approval.
  • The Masyaf area is thought to be used as a base for Iranian forces and pro-Iranian militias and has been repeatedly targeted in recent years in attacks attributed to Israel. Satellite imagery taken after the strike showed that an underground facility had been completely destroyed.
  • The report comes amid a deterioration in ties between Israel and Russia over the invasion of Ukraine. Israel has tried to walk a fine line between Moscow and Kyiv but has recently become more critical of Russia as evidence emerged of Russian atrocities and growing antisemitic rhetoric from Russian leaders.
  • Defense Minister Benny Gantz said “The State of Israel will continue to act against any enemy that threatens it, and prevent the transfer of advanced capabilities from Iran that endanger the citizens of Israel and harm the stability of the entire region”

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Iran is supplying proxies in Syria, Iraq also stockpiling ballistic missiles

Revelations 6:3-4 “ when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Iran has 3,000 ballistic missiles, many that can reach Israel – US general
  • In Gen. Kenneth McKenzie’s written statement, he called Iran’s missile force the greatest threat to the region’s security.
  • “At a military level my concern is first of all that they do not have a nuclear weapon but I am also very concerned about the remarkable growth and efficiency of their ballistic missile program,” McKenzie told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
  • “They have over 3,000 missiles of various types, some of which can reach Tel Aviv,” McKenzie said in response to a query by the senate committee. “None of them can reach Europe yet.”
  • US CENTCOM assessed…Syria and Iraq will continue to be used as supply routes and hubs to forward its “campaign against Israel.”
  • This is in part to arm its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah. It was estimated last year that Hezbollah has 130,000-150,000 rockets that can reach deep into Israeli territory. This arms stockpile also includes Iranian ballistic missiles.
  • He said that the US remains steadfast in its commitment to Israel’s security and to support Israel’s right to defend itself

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IDF response to Anti-Aircraft missile entering its air space

Zechariah 12:3 “ And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.

Important Takeaways:

  • IDF: Syrian anti-aircraft missile explodes over Israel, no interception needed
  • An anti-aircraft missile fired from Syria exploded in the air over northern Israel early Wednesday morning, setting off warning sirens in the town of Umm al-Fahm and communities in the northern West Bank, the army said.
  • Shrapnel landed near the Homesh outpost, causing a small fire, according to Rescuers Without Borders, a Jewish emergency service operating in the West Bank
  • The anti-aircraft missile had apparently been fired in response to an Israeli airstrike on sites near Damascus
  • The IDF said that in response to the Syrian anti-aircraft missile entering Israeli airspace, Israel struck several Syrian air defense batteries inside Syria, including the “Syrian radar and anti-aircraft batteries that launched missiles at IAF aircraft.”
  • “The IDF will continue to protect Israel’s airspace and security,” the military’s statement said.

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ISIS leader blows self up before US Military capture

Zechariah 12:3 “ And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.

Important Takeaways:

  • ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi dies in US military raid in Syria
  • Al-Qurayshi detonated a bomb that killed himself and several other people, including his wife and children, as U.S. special operations forces approached with the intention of capturing him, Biden said.
  • U.S. forces landed in helicopters and assaulted a house in a rebel-held corner of northwest Syria, clashing for two hours with gunmen, witnesses said.
  • The commandos were aided by helicopter gunships, armed Reaper drones and attack jets.
  • Biden described al-Qurayshi’s decision to set off the bomb as U.S. forces approached as “a final act of desperate cowardice, with no regard to the lives of his own family or others.”

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Syria denounces Israeli plans to double number of Golan settlers

BEIRUT (Reuters) -Syria on Monday condemned Israeli plans to double within five years the number of Jewish settlers in the Golan Heights captured from Syria in 1967 as a “dangerous and unprecedented escalation,” Syrian state media reported.

Israel’s cabinet approved a blueprint on Sunday to build some 7,300 additional housing units on the strategic plateau in a move that could tighten its hold on the territory.

“Syria strongly condemns the dangerous and unprecedented escalation by the Israeli occupation authorities” in the Golan, the state-run SANA news agency said, adding Damascus would seek to use all legally available means to retake the territory.

Speaking to Syrian TV station al-Ekhbariya, foreign minister Faisal Mekdad called Israel’s actions against Syria “criminal” and said they violated the 1981 U.N. Resolution 497 declaring Israel’s effective annexation of the Golan as “null and void.”

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it describes as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s war.

Israel annexed the 1,200-square-kilometre (460-square-mile) Golan Heights in 1981, an action not recognized by the international community. Syria demands the return of the Golan, which also overlooks Lebanon and borders Jordan.

(Reporting by Omar FahmyAdditional reporting by Lilian Wagdy Writing by Ahmad Elhamy in Cairo and Timour Azhari in Beirut; Editing by Howard Goller)

U.S.-led troops end Iraq combat mission, as planned – military officials

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -U.S.-led forces have ended their combat mission in Iraq, a move that transfers all remaining troops into a training and advising role, Iraqi military commanders and officials from the coalition led by the United States said on Thursday.

Western security officials and diplomats say privately that this will make little difference to the number of troops stationed in the country – currently more than 2,000 – since those forces have had limited involvement in any combat operations for the last couple of years.

The U.S.-led coalition began its mission in 2014 to defeat Islamic State, after the militants took over vast areas of Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Since the group’s military defeat in 2017, Islamic State fighters have been unable to hold territory but are waging a continued low-level insurgency that regularly kills Iraqi soldiers and civilians in remote mountain and desert areas.

The coalition has also come under dozens of rocket and drone attacks by Iran-backed Shi’ite militias that helped defeat the Sunni extremist Islamic State and which say there is no longer a justification for Western forces to be in Iraq.

“As we complete our combat role, we will remain here to advise, assist, and enable the ISF (Iraqi security forces), at the invitation of Republic of Iraq,” coalition commander Major General John W. Brennan, Jr. said in a statement.

Iraqi commander Lieutenant General Abdul Amir al-Shammari said Iraqi forces were ready to handle the Islamic State threat.

“Today, we renew our partnership with the Coalition, who are now serving in a new capacity – with a mission to advise, assist, and enable our brave military warriors,” he said.

U.S. President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi sealed an agreement in July to formally end the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021.

Iraqi Shi’ite militants have vowed to wage new attacks against coalition forces in 2022.

Western security and diplomatic officials say that calling the shift a withdrawal, as it has sometimes been characterized by the Iraqi government, is misleading because it changes little in terms of the number of forces based in Iraq.

The U.S. has kept around 2,500 troops in Iraq since 2020. The Western officials say that most of those forces have been operating only in a training and advising role for some time.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed in Baghdad, John Davison in Erbil; additional reporting by Enas Alashray in Dubai; Writing by John Davison; Editing by Alex Richardson)

Germany jails Islamic State member for life over role in Yazidi genocide

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -A German court on Tuesday jailed a former Islamic State militant for life for involvement in genocide and crimes against humanity against minority Yazidis in Iraq and Syria, including the murder of a five-year-old girl.

It was the first genocide verdict against a member of Islamic State, an offshoot of al Qaeda that seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014 before being ousted by U.S.-backed counter-offensives, losing its last territorial redoubt in 2019.

In a landmark ruling, the court in Frankfurt found Taha al-Jumailly, 29, an Iraqi national, guilty of involvement in the slaughter of more than 3,000 Yazidis and enslavement of 7,000 women and girls by IS jihadists in 2014-15.

This, the court ruled, included the murder of a five-year-old girl the defendant had enslaved and chained to a window, leaving her to die in scorching heat in 2015 in Iraq.

Al-Jumailly, who entered the court covering his face with a file folder, was arrested in Greece in 2019 and extradited to Germany where relatives of slain Yazidis acted as plaintiffs supporting the prosecution.

“Today’s ruling marks the first ever worldwide confirmation by a court that the crimes of Islamic State against the Yazidi religious group are genocide,” said Meike Olszak of Amnesty International’s branch in Germany.

The defendant’s German wife, identified only as Jennifer W., was used as a prosecution witness at his trial. She was sentenced to 10 years in prison last month for involvement in the enslavement of the Yazidi girl and her mother.

The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority in eastern Syria and northwest Iraq that Islamic State viewed as supposed devil worshippers for their faith that combines Zoroastrian, Christian, Manichean, Jewish and Muslim beliefs.

Islamic State’s depredations also displaced most of the 550,000-strong Yazidi community.

(Writing by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Syria executes 24 people over deadly forest fires

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi

AMMAN (Reuters) – Syria executed 24 people it said had set fires that swept swathes of forests mainly in the coastal province of Latakia, the ancestral home of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, the justice ministry said on Thursday .

Those executed on Wednesday were charged with committing “terrorist acts that led to death and damage to state infrastructure, public and private property,” the ministry said.

It said 11 others were sentenced to life in prison on the same charges from dozens arrested at the end of last year who confessed to igniting the fires that began in September 2020 and lasted until mid-October.

Although executions are common in the tightly run country with a powerful security apparatus, it is rare to publicize such a large number of executions on a single day.

The justice ministry statement said tens of fires swept forests and farmland and burnt homes in dozens of villages and towns in Latakia and Tartous provinces and also the central province of Hama.

No details were provided on where and how the executions took place in a country where international human rights groups says many detainees are executed without trial and where security prisons have tens of thousands of detainees.

Assad visited the devastated rural areas near his ancestral home of Qardaha in Latakia, inhabited mainly by his minority Alawite sect that dominates the higher echelons of power in the security forces and army.

The huge fires caused tens of millions of dollars of losses in cultivated plots of mainly citrus, apples and olive trees that many poor Alawite farmers rely on to supplement meager low paid state jobs.

It also damaged a main part of the state-owned tobacco company that is a mainstay of the coastal area’s economy.

State television showed alleged confessions of some of the culprits who said they were paid to set the deliberate fires.

The authorities had at the time blamed Syria’s foreign and internal enemies for igniting the fires as part of what it said was economic warfare. The country’s decade-old war has led to tens of thousands of deaths, displaced millions, and led to a refugee crisis.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

U.N. issues new Syria war death toll, says 350,000 is an ‘undercount’

By Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) – At least 350,209 people have been killed in the decade-old war in Syria, the United Nations human rights office said on Friday in its first report since 2014 on the death toll, adding that the tally was an “undercount.”

The figure includes civilians and combatants and is based on strict methodology requiring the full name of the deceased, as well as an established date and location of death.

“On this basis, we have compiled a list of 350,209 identified individuals killed in the conflict in Syria between March 2011 to March 2021,” U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told the Human Rights Council.

One in every 13 victims was a woman or a child, she said.

“It indicates a minimum verifiable number, and is certainly an under-count of the actual number of killings,” she added.

Her office was working on a statistical model to provide a more complete picture, which could also help establish accountability for some killings, she said.

The largest number of documented killings, 51,731, was recorded in Aleppo governorate, long held by the opposition, which became a flashpoint in the conflict.

The war, which spiraled out of an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, sparked the world’s biggest refugee crisis. Syria’s neighbors host 5.6 million refugees, while European countries are hosting more than 1 million.

Assad has recovered most of Syria, but significant areas remain outside his control: Turkish forces are deployed in much of the north and northwest – the last major bastion of anti-Assad rebels – and U.S. forces are stationed in the Kurdish-controlled east and northeast.

Bachelet said the previous update by her office, in August 2014, reported that at least 191,369 people had been killed in the war.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that 500,000 people have been killed in the war and that it is examining a further 200,000 cases.

“It is very difficult to give a statistic that is close to reality,” Rami Abdurrahman, director of the British-based group, told Reuters in Beirut. “There are a lot of names and there has to be documentation to make sure.”

Karen Koning AbuZayd, a member of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria investigating war crimes, told the council on Thursday that incidents of unlawful and incommunicado detention by government forces remain “unabated.”

“This is no time for anyone to think that Syria is a country fit for its refugees to return. The war on Syrian civilians continues,” she said.

(Additional reporting by Maha El Dahan in Beirut; editing by Timothy Heritage)