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Levant crisis - III

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 18 Dec 2017 17:32

the battle for Idlib has started on many fronts.

the RUAF if they want to stay clear of this, needs to transfer and train 3 squadrons of SyAF Frogfoots which will be very useful.

or if they want to take part than rotate out the fencers and platypuses and fly in frogfoot and attack helicopter units.

its quite nearer to the coast.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 18 Dec 2017 17:33

case of attempted rape and murder of the british lady it seems...
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/ki ... de-beirut/

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 18 Dec 2017 20:57


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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby viveks » 22 Dec 2017 02:01

deleted

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 25 Dec 2017 15:55

4 replies 59 retweets 145 likes
Reply 4 Retweet 59 Like 145
The'Nimr'Tiger Retweeted

F G
@FGunay1
Dec 17
More F G Retweeted Brenda Stoter Boscolo
Seems ISIS commanders that were airlifted from AlbuKamal starting to reappear in Afghanistan, just like Russian MOD claimed. InterestingF G added,
Brenda Stoter Boscolo
Verified account

@BrendaStoter
French and Algerian fighters, some arriving from Syria, are now in Afghanistan, where they have established new ISIS bases. https://www.thelocal.fr/20171210/french ... ssion=true
5 replies 166 retweets 125 likes

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby deejay » 27 Dec 2017 11:18

Biet Jinn, rebel held (HTS/ Al Nusra) pocket in Western Damascus near Golan Heights has been fully cleared by SAA after about a month of sustained operations with no Russian assistance. This being close to Israel border, SAA was on its own.

The surviving rebels have surrendered. HTS manpower will take green buses to Idlib. Non HTS, Saudi backed manpower will take green buses to Daara. All this will happen in next 48 hrs as 24 of the 72 hrs window has elapsed.

A SyAF fighter jet has crashed near Hama killing its pilot. HTS claims the kill, SyAF says mechanical failure.

SAA has begun the Idlib offensive with some gains. Immediate target is to reach the Abu Duhur airbase and they are taking a 02 pronged approach - one westward from Khanasser and one Northwards from NE Hama (Abu Dali village battle here is crucial). Lot of preperatory Arty fire and air attacks on rebel targets.

On the social media a literal war is ongoing attacking or defending the White Helmets.

Visit this tweet to see the stellar rescue work of White Helmets:

https://twitter.com/VanessaBeeley/status/945340669408800768

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby deejay » 27 Dec 2017 11:43

An interesting first look in Syria:

https://twitter.com/southfronteng/status/945662768689979392

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Russia Battle Tested Cutting-Edge Tornado-S Multiple Rocket Launcher System In Syria http://dlvr.it/Q7fzMV


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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby deejay » 28 Dec 2017 15:37

Read up

https://twitter.com/MSuchkov_ALM/status/946035433229766657

Maxim A. Suchkov‏
@MSuchkov_ALM
Follow Follow @MSuchkov_ALM
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THREAD: 1. (Almost) Everything you wanted to know about #Russia's military operation in #Syria. Rus Chief of General Staff Army Gen. Valery Gerasimov reveals sensational details @kpru. I summarized major points in ENG:

2. Start of #Russia/n operation in #Syria in Oct 2015 was thoroughly planned. Experience of 1962 when USSR transferred troops to Cuba was studied & partly replicated. SYR operation was extremely secretive,up to 50 aicrafts flying to Hmeymim.

3. The very combat forces were transferred about a month before the start in late September. It took much longer with inventory and logistics to create the infrastructure.Use of ground forces was ruled out from the beginning because..

4.(a)#Syria/n army,“patriotic militias”were combat-capable despite big losses (b) primary tasks were target detection,fire damage,disruption of enemy’s control systems – airforces tailored for it better.Yet to organize management of all forces command post was set up in Hmeymim

5.#ISIS was very combat competitive. Some of their commanders ex-Iraqi army chiefs,some trained by instructors from across the Mideast.Had about 1500 tanks,1200 canonry,seized weapons from SYR & IRQ armies,used combat tactics,so weren’t just a terrorist group but a regular army

6.Before #Russia entered #US-led coalition was delivering 8-10 strikes a day. Rus were launching 60-70 strikes on average, the highest was 120-140 strikes per one day. Gerasimov sasy "it makes sense since their top priority was toppling #Assad, not fighting IS"

7.#Russia had some progress w #US – deconfliction, southern de-escalation zone but #America declined all other Rus proposals which were joint planning,surveillance, joint strikes on terrorists."If it had materialized we'd have been much more successful by now in a shorter time"

8.BIG ONE:Al Tanf used to train 350 militants.Besides,there're 750 militants from east bank of Euphrates at the Kurds-controlled Al-Shaddadi camp.Virtually it’s ISIS people under names like “New Syrian Army”their goal is to destabilize SYR. #US wont allow access to Rukban camp.

8.Rus still has forces in SYR capable of delivering adequate offensive if needed. Situation unstable but #Russia's MAIN MILITARY OBJECTIVE in SYR now is eliminate Nusra/HTS which continues to operate in some de-escalation zones. Naval presence in the Mediterranean 2B maintained

9.Most difficult aspect at initial stages of operation was to organize coordination of airforce w Syr gov forces&“ace-deuce groupings.” There're far too many “patriotically-oriented armed units” who we urged to take the gov side.But we came to learn how to do it,now it's smooth

10. Total of 48,000 Rus soldiers&officers been rotated - most for3 months – in Syr w 90% of divisions,more thanhalf of regiments&brigades having served there over course of 2+ years.200 types of weapons tested. We made giant leap in drones technology now integral part to our mil

INTERESTING:Gerasimov reports on state of affairs in #Syria to Defense Minister #Shoigu morning and evening &Shoigu reports to #Putin once or twice a week.Sometimes the three sit down to plan together.Gerasimov says "Putin sets goals, tasks, knows all the details on every level."

11.#Russia/n estimates:by Sep.2015 there’re total of 59K fighters in all #ISIS groupings& they recruited about 10K more along the way after it,2,8K - from Russia. Now IS militants going back to countries of origin.Most go to #Libya, some to #Afghanistan, others- to South-W Asia

The end. Thanks for reading and sorry it came out longish.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby deejay » 29 Dec 2017 14:32

Will ISIS ressurect? A good article on the topic.

https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/down-but-not-out-isil-will-regroup-and-rise-again-1.690559


...
The purpose of the 55-page treatise was to “plan and prepare” for the departure of American forces in 2011. ISIL's war minister at the time, Abu Hamza Al Muhajir is quoted as saying that other parties in Iraq were preparing for the troops’ withdrawal two years later. “They shoot one rocket and store ten others.”

The preparation phase, as outlined in the document, involves various tactics to enable the group to consolidate itself within Iraq and abrade the capabilities of its rivals. The group would focus on preventing the emergence of local structures able to fill the vacuum after the withdrawal. Such tactics included the targeting of police and army units, to “maximise the cost” of joining their cadres.

This war of attrition would take years, during which the group would focus on former allies who had turned against them and would therefore be competitors for popular legitimacy in Sunni areas. Over the years, ISIL has succeeded in eliminating or absorbing its former rivals in Iraq, and that may play out in its favour as it embarks on a similar phase of attrition.

“After our emancipation from the circumstances around the Sahwat (Awakening Councils) and with the end of that phase, in which the Sahwat presented a real danger to the dawlah (ISIL),” the document stated, “this period emerges as a period of planning and preparation for what comes after the American withdrawal … the real victor of this battle will be the one who knows how to plan and prepare for the post-withdrawal period.”

The authors of the Strategic Plan then argue against allies who regard the goal of an Islamic state as unrealistic. It is in this section that another theme becomes clearer as the extremists proclaimed an Islamic state in 201 — namely the state of savagery.

They cite Ibn Khaldoun, the 14th-century Arab sociologist, saying, "Savage nations are better able to achieve superiority than others … savage groups are braver than others. They are, therefore, better able to achieve superiority and to take away the things that are in the hands of other nations.”

In 2014, two sources from inside ISIL revealed that the Management of Savagery, a 2004 jihadi book attributed to an Egyptian militant by the name of Mohammed al-Hakayma, was being read by the group. The claim was later confirmed by another insider source.

One of the book’s themes is that major victories in history, specifically naming the Muslim battle of Hattin against the crusaders, came about because of minor battles that preceded them. Attacks against enemy convoys or castles by small bands of fighters as part of a ceaseless and depleting insurgency made the final outcome more possible. By the time ISIL emerged again, its former enemies would be much weaker and the power vacuum would allow the capture of large swathes of Iraq and Syria.
...

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby chanakyaa » 29 Dec 2017 20:36

I had a tough time deciding a dhaga for the following. It touches Afghanistan, Syria, Russia, Iran, Donbass, DPRK, and Venezuela...Saker-style.

2018 – war or no war?

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 30 Dec 2017 10:54

Chief of Russian General Staff Gerasimov: The US is training al-Qaeda & ISIS type terrorists in their illegal base at al-Tanf to destabilize Syria

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Philip » 31 Dec 2017 08:42

Good news items.We need those 120km MBRLs whatever they're called to pound Pak. every time they act with terror.

The Russians should simply exterminate the New ISIS HQs set up with air strikes and Kalibirs.No let up in the post-victory clean up.Keep hounding them and the anti- Assad forces supported by the US who will now seek to gain advantage in the aftermath of ISIS.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 05 Jan 2018 08:57

major activity in syria

- SDF is trying to capture the leftover ISIS tract along the iraqi border north of al bukamal

- Hezbollah and local militias are trying to secure the vast 'badiah' deserts between humaymah and al bukamal. this area still sees sporadic isis attacks so they must be lurking around

- opposition has gone all-in on damascus suburb hasrata military base. it is surrounded but holding out. relief columns are making progress. shades of the concerted attack on ramouseh

- tiger forces and elements of 4th mech div are marching into Idlib via north hama.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 05 Jan 2018 09:47

2 Personal Killed and few Su-24 Aircraft damaged to Mortar attack at the Khmeimim-feyk airbase , MOD denies any loss of complete aircraft though

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 05 Jan 2018 11:59

Could have been done with vehicle mounted mortar from inside a van as was done for 10 diwning st by ira

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 08 Jan 2018 13:55

abu al duhur airbase is the target in box. will liberate a big chunk of territory
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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby deejay » 08 Jan 2018 14:43

^They are 14 kms from Abu Duhur now. That town - Al Khiyyarah (just north of the red finger extending into Idlib) is already under SAA. They have moved further north now with Ajaz town on the western flank of the finger and Saraa village on the Eastern edge of the finger as of early morning today.

Cutting off Abu Duhur practically isolates the SW Aleppo pocket of rebel areas with the Jihadis left with options to either withdraw or fight till they can surrender for green buses to escape the pocket.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 08 Jan 2018 21:15

Seven drones in Syria were destroyed by Russian air defense, six more were intercepted by electronic warfare
01/08/2018 18:19:16 http://militarynews.ru/story.asp?rid=1&nid=470772
Moscow. January 8. Interfax-AVN - Attempts by terrorists to attack Russian facilities in Syria with the help of drone were repulsed by electronic warfare and Pantsir-S air defense systems, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

"Seven unmanned aerial vehicles were destroyed by the regular anti-aircraft missile and gun complexes Pantsir-S of Russian air defense units carrying round-the-clock combat duty," the military department said.

According to the Ministry of Defense, six more drones intercepted Russian electronic warfare units. "Of these, three were planted in controlled territory outside the base, and three more unmanned aerial vehicles detonated during the landing from collision with the ground," the Defense Ministry said.


Russian military prevented 13 attack drone attacks on Russian bases in Syria

01/08/2018 18:18:46
http://militarynews.ru/story.asp?rid=1&nid=470771
Moscow. January 8. Interfax - Militants in Syria used 13 drone drones in an attempt to attack the Russian bases "Khmeimim" and "Tartus" on the night of January 6, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

"The system of ensuring the security of the Russian airbase Khmeimim and the logistics center of the Russian Navy in the city of Tartus on the night of 5 to 6 January successfully thwarted an attempt to attack terrorists with the massive use of shock unmanned aerial vehicles," the military department said.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Russian air defense facilities at a considerable distance identified 13 small-sized air targets of unknown origin approaching Russian military targets.

"Ten drone unmanned aerial vehicles were approaching the Russian airbase" Khmeimim "and three more - to the point of material and technical support of the Russian Navy in the city of Tartus," the Defense Ministry said.
1ff ag


Against the Russian Federation bases in Syria, aircraft-type drones were launched, launched from a range of more than 50 km
http://militarynews.ru/story.asp?rid=1&nid=470770
01/08/2018 18:18:19
*** The data of the intercepted UAVs was deciphered, their place of launch was determined by

Moscow. January 8. Interfax-AVN - Terrorists used aircraft-type UAVs to attack Russian military targets in Syria, the RF Defense Ministry reported.

"Terrorists for the first time massively used unmanned aerial aircraft, launched from a range of more than 50 km with the use of modern guidance technology on the satellite GPS coordinates," - said the Russian military.

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation stated that the data of intercepted UAVs had been deciphered, the exact location of their launch was determined. "Currently, Russian military experts are carrying out a detailed analysis of the design, technical stuffing and homemade ammunition of captured unmanned aerial vehicles," the Defense Ministry said.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 08 Jan 2018 21:29

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation
58 mins ·
#SYRIA
Security system of the Russian Khmeimim air base and Russian Naval CSS point in the city of Tartus successfully warded off a terrorist attack with massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) through the night of 5th – 6th January, 2018.

As evening fell, the Russia air defence forces detected 13 unidentified small-size air targets at a significant distance approaching the Russian military bases.

Ten assault drones were approaching the Khmeimim air base, and another three – the CSS point in Tartus.

Six small-size air targets were intercepted and taken under control by the Russian EW units. Three of them were landed on the controlled area outside the base, and another three UAVs exploded as they touched the ground.

Seven UAVs were eliminated by the Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile complexes operated by the Russian air defence units on 24-hours alert.

The Russian bases did not suffer any casualties or damages.

The Khmeimim air base and Russian Naval CSS point in Tartus are functioning on a scheduled basis.

Currently, the Russian military experts are analyzing the construction, technical filling and improvised explosives of the captured UAVs.

Having decoded the data recorded on the UAVs, the specialists found out the launch site.

It was the first time when terrorists applied a massed drone aircraft attack launched at a range of more than 50 km using modern GPS guidance system

Technical examination of the drones showed that such attacks could have been made by terrorists at a distance of about 100 kilometers.

Engineering decisions applied by terrorists while attacks on the Russian objects in Syria could be received from one of countries with high-technological capabilities of satellite navigation and remote dropping control of professionally assembled improvised explosive devices in assigned coordinates. All drones of terrorists are fitted with pressure transducers and altitude control servo-actuators.

Terrorists’ aircraft-type drones carried explosive devices with foreign detonating fuses.

The Russian specialists are determining supply channels, through which terrorists had received the technologies and devices, as well as examining type and origin of explosive compounds used in the IEDs.


The fact of usage of strike aircraft-type drones by terrorists is the evidence that militants have received technologies to carry out terrorist attacks using such UAVs in any country.
https://www.facebook.com/mod.mil.rus/po ... 8563787556

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 08 Jan 2018 22:29

Seems 15 soosai drone launched from 50 km on a one way mission had they suceeded even with 1 of 15 UAV on any S-400 TEL it would been a major morale booster , But another dimension in Aerial Drone Warfare by Jihadis

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby deejay » 09 Jan 2018 10:23

Houthis claim a direct hit on a Saudi F 15. They have released a thermal imagery video of the same. Check the tweet and embedded video:

https://twitter.com/sayed_ridha/status/950461102072066048

Also check this tweet:
https://twitter.com/sayed_ridha/status/950460524067606528

Hassan Ridha‏
@sayed_ridha
Following Following @sayed_ridha
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Jet increases speed as anti-air rocket approaches it, drops fuel tanks (red) & then is hit by anti-air rocket (green), but is still flyable


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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Aditya_V » 09 Jan 2018 10:29

I doubt the aircraft would have made it back to base, Pilot would have made sure he crosses the border and ejects

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 09 Jan 2018 16:55

wow this must be the first swarm drone bomber raid in history. instead of the P2 it was the jihadis doing it.

truly a epochal moment imo.

cracking stuff by the russians. hope our republic day airborne hawks are also on the lookout.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby habal » 09 Jan 2018 18:14

swarm technique is how usa wants to defeat the S400 defences. They were testing this out in guise of terrorists. Everyone knows that terrorists and usa in Syria and Iraq mean one and same thing. There is a Nato video on how some 200 projectiles together can defeat s400 and similar Russian ABM systems.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby vinod » 09 Jan 2018 18:56

I hope India prepares for such a swarm drone attack against its bases by the terror babies of our friendly neighbour!!!

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 09 Jan 2018 20:14

Defining Asymmetrical Warfare: Extremists Use Retail Drones to Attack Russian Air Base in Syria

https://theaviationist.com/2018/01/08/d ... -in-syria/

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby rsingh » 09 Jan 2018 20:20

vinod wrote:I hope India prepares for such a swarm drone attack against its bases by the terror babies of our friendly neighbour!!!


Not a specialist but drones fly at low speed . Is it possible to shoot them with cannon fire from some old plane? or some kind of laser technology to disable them at safe distance.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 09 Jan 2018 20:23

US Spy Aircraft Flew Between Russian Bases in Syria During Drone Attack - MoD

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/2018 ... ses-syria/

The US Navy's Boeing P-8 Poseidon was on a patrol mission in the area between the Russian Hmeimim airbase and Tartus naval base in Syria when militants attempted to attack the facilities using 13 drones, the ministry revealed on Tuesday.

"… This forces us to take a fresh look at the strange coincidence that, during the attack of UAV terrorists on Russian military facilities in Syria, the Navy reconnaissance aircraft Poseidon was on patrol over the Mediterranean Sea for more than 4 hours at an altitude of 7 thousand meters, between Tartus and Hmeimim," the ministry said.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 09 Jan 2018 20:29

https://iz.ru/693220/2018-01-09/v-sovfe ... iskikh-baz

the US was accused of delivering drones to militants to attack Russian bases

The supplier of drones, fired at Russian bases in Syria, could only be the United States. Such a statement was made by the head of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, ex-commander of the Russian Air Force Viktor Bondarev.

"Whoever stands behind the militants, I think, is clear to everyone. The supplier of bombarded our bases of drones could only be a technologically strong state. There, satellite navigation, and barometric sensors, and remote control of the discharge of professionally assembled explosive devices in assigned coordinates, "- quotes Interfax Bondarev.

The senator noted that the US military is in Syria without permission from the UN, and more than once were seen in the aid of retreating terrorists.

"The US, first under the pretext of fighting the totalitarian regime <...> invaded without a UN sanction in a sovereign country, began to fuel a civil war, arm, finance and train terrorist organizations. Then, after the defeat of the main bandit formations, rescues of shortages. Now, together with subordinate countries supply terrorists with high-tech UAVs, "Bondarev emphasized.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 10 Jan 2018 09:24

jihadism has entered a new and potent phase with this development. no longer can simple gunfire take down simple quadcopters , these are large UAVs with a payload of atleast 10-20 grenades which can cause havoc on parked aircraft and fuel / munitions in open before executing a suicide dive. no less than harpy/harop types.

what is to prevent them from attacking high value targets baghdad or damascus from the rural areas.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 10 Jan 2018 10:58

Singha wrote:what is to prevent them from attacking high value targets baghdad or damascus from the rural areas.


After this incident nothing , This attack although prevented takes drone warfare by Jihadis to a different level , The air base was still protected by multiple asset which managed to detect these small drone perhaps flying under the radar on time and deal with it for any lesser protected but strategic targets they wont be lucky.

Good Planning by Jihadis was Bolt from Blue type attack , had they succeeded we would have Janes and Western Magazine cursing the Russian Military equipment and passing left hand compliments to Jihadis.

Russians are Professional and Lucky this time but for the Jihadis there is always a next time at their time of choosing

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 10 Jan 2018 13:15

damascus has been given a pantsyr system i believe. one of these shot down a Lora TCS rocket launched from israel.

baghdad is wide open. the iraqis are building a long berm with check gates on the western rim i believe to catch sleeper cells bringing in explosives and deter svbied.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Philip » 10 Jan 2018 13:55

Posting this here becos Malta is in the Meditt.,and plays a vital role in the region tx. to its geo-strategic location,best illustrated during WW2. While the needle of suspicion of the assassinated journo should fall upon the govt. in power,for the expose on their alleged money-laundering dealings with shady entities,an attempt to being in an outlandish Russian connection is being touted by Britih intel through its paid media.As usual,"Putin is responsible for the world's ills"! However,it illustrates what Malta has become in the meditt.,a warning to what Sri Lanka will become with the Chinese "soft" invasion of the island and their shady connections to the Rajapakse "familia".


Murder in Malta: How Daphne Caruana Galizia's death exposed corruption and shady Russian connections on the holiday island
*(actually only Azerbaijananis are mentioned)

Daphne Caruana Galizia outside the Libyan embassy in Valletta, 2011 – she had investigated fuel smuggling between the north African country and Malta CREDIT: REUTERS

Colin Freeman
10 JANUARY 2018 • 6:00AM
Anyone who thinks the pen is mightier than the sword may have their faith shaken by visiting the spot where Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered. Malta’s most influential journalist was driving from her home in the village of Bidnija one afternoon last October when a remote-controlled bomb detonated inside her car.

The blast was so powerful that it tossed her vehicle far into a nearby field, where her son Matthew found his mother’s body amid the blazing wreckage. Three months on, a banner demanding ‘justice’ still flutters over piles of withered bouquets left by mourners. ‘Daphne, your pen is mightier than Semtex,’ one tribute says. ‘What you wrote and what you uncovered cannot be blown to bits.’

Galizia’s rented Peugeot hatchback wasn’t the only thing destroyed that day. Also shattered was Malta’s international reputation as a safe, stable outpost of southern Europe, where journalists could operate without fear of intimidation or assassination. It is fair to say that Galizia, 53, had already done much to undermine that reputation through her blog, ‘Running Commentary’.

Likened to a one-woman WikiLeaks, it shone a harsh light into Malta’s shadier corners, painting a very different picture of the country most Britons think of as a picturesque holiday destination. Britain has strong links to Malta – it was a British colony for 150 years – and the island still boasts red pillar boxes. In its capital, Valletta, a museum displays the George Cross the island won for holding off the Nazis in the Second World War. But the Malta that Galizia wrote about had rather less to celebrate.

The murder of a journalist has exposed Malta’s dark side - from rampant corruption and shady Russian connections to an out-of-control elite on the holiday island CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Over the years, she chronicled what she saw as its alarming moral decline, detailing everything from corruption among Malta’s small, incestuous political elite through to concerns that the tiny island had become one of the world’s most popular havens for dodgy money.

‘People marvel at the way the Maltese economy always seems to be thriving,’ she wrote. ‘Only a fool would think it is all legitimate.’ Last summer, her pen even triggered a snap general election, when she alleged that the wife of Joseph Muscat, Malta’s centre-left Prime Minister, had an off-shore bank account to launder money for the family of Ilham Aliyev, the authoritarian President of Azerbaijan.

‘Whether it was fuel smuggling, drug barons or our shady government, the list of suspects in her murder is endless,’ says fellow Maltese investigative journalist Caroline Muscat (no relation to the Prime Minister). ‘Daphne’s voice was unique, speaking out in a climate where we are facing the collapse of the rule of law.’

At the end of last year, just as fears were growing that Galizia’s killers had disappeared without trace, three men were charged with her murder – brothers Alfred and George Degiorgio, and Vince Muscat (also no relation). But while all three are reported to be members of the local criminal underworld, none had ever appeared in Galizia’s blog, or had obvious cause to bear grudges against her. Police now suspect that if they did carry out the killing – which they deny –they did so for someone else. Who though?

For the island’s 430,000 people – crammed into a space the size of the Isle of Wight – the case has become a compelling, claustrophobic whodunnit, a Scandi-noir political thriller with better weather. Was it the secret arm of the state, keen to silence a critic? A local Mafioso, angry at having his political connections exposed? A hit squad from Azerbaijan, a country notorious for taking revenge on unfriendly journalists? Or a player in a scandal that Galizia hadn’t even published yet, and which now may never be revealed? Prime Minister Muscat enlisted the FBI amid claims that Malta’s small police force was neither experienced nor competent enough to get to the bottom of what happened. But, even after the arrests at the end of last year, Galizia’s family believes the government is not interested in discovering who employed the ‘trigger men’.

From drug barons to our government, the suspects are endless
They suspect that whoever ultimately ordered the killing was connected to Malta’s ruling class, and that suspects ‘in or close to government’ may be being protected.

‘A culture of impunity has been allowed to flourish by the government in Malta,’ says Galizia’s son Matthew, himself an investigative journalist. 'If the institutions were already working, there would be no assassination to investigate – and my brothers and I would still have a mother.’

At the time of her death, Galizia’s family point out, she had 42 outstanding writs piled up against her in the local law courts, including one from the Prime Minister himself. Nor was their confidence in the inquiry boosted by comments from a Maltese policeman who wrote, ‘Everyone gets what they deserve’ on Facebook within hours of her death.

Indeed, for the thousands who demonstrated after her death, Galizia is already a martyr to the truth. In the words of the makeshift memorial to her in Valletta – set up opposite the law courts’ neoclassical façade – ‘she was killed because she mattered’.

The case has also caused alarm in the upper echelons of the European Union, which is due to celebrate Valletta this year as European City of Culture.

After her death, the European Parliament passed a motion on ‘serious concerns’ about democracy and the rule of law in Malta. Yet to complicate matters further, not every Maltese citizen subscribes to the narrative of Galizia as a slain journalistic icon. The President of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, who attended her funeral in November, said she ‘epitomised everything that is good about that profession’. But critics say she represented much that was bad about it too.

While her blog was witty and perceptive, much was based on hearsay, not facts, her detractors say. She was partisan, disparaging Muscat’s ruling Labour party, but less so the rival centre-right Nationalist Party representing Malta’s ‘old money’ Anglophile elite. She was also prone to delivering vicious personal attacks, not just on the great and not-so-good but on the rank and file, whom she often dismissed as hamalli (Maltese for ‘chav’).

According to Saviour Balzan, editor of Malta Today, if police wanted to question everyone who bore a grudge against Galizia, ‘they would have to arrest thousands of people. Everyone describes her as a journalist, but I wouldn’t even count her as that. She copied and pasted, and was a magnet for gossip, who would publish anything people told her.’

Yet Galizia’s blog did reflect a wider unease that Malta, 60 miles south of Sicily and 200 miles north of Libya, has attracted unsavoury players in recent years. Since 2015 there have been six other car bombings, all unsolved but mostly linked to fuel- smuggling rackets from Libya. Malta has always been a place where Libyans have done a certain amount of dirty work – in 1988, it was where the suitcase that carried the Lockerbie bomb was first introduced into the airline system.

Malta’s Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle, voting in the June 2017 snap election sparked by Galizia’s accusations CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Since Colonel Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, Libyan smuggling militias have become much more active, sometimes using Malta as a rendezvous point to forge links with Sicilian Mafia gangs. The island has also become a major hub for online casino firms, some of them, it’s claimed, fronts for money laundering.

In 2015, six alleged Mafiosi were arrested on suspicion of using such casinos to process £2 billion from cocaine trafficking, amid concerns that Maltese gaming authorities were not monitoring the gambling sector closely enough. Galizia’s most incendiary story, though, was her claim that one of Malta’s many private banks was being used to launder money for the family of President Aliyev of Azerbaijan, who had signed energy deals with Muscat’s government.

She said that Pilatus Bank, a boutique finance house catering for clients needing ‘extreme secrecy’ (according to Galizia’s blog), had a safe containing documents showing that Muscat’s wife, Michelle, owned Egrant, a shell company first identified in the 2016 Panama Papers scandal. Egrant, it was alleged, had been used to receive more than $1 million from a firm owned by Mr Aliyev’s daughter, Leyla.

To illustrate the point, Galizia posted an official photo of Michelle Muscat hosting Leyla at Girgenti Palace, the Prime Minister’s 17th-century official residence. While the bank itself denies that the Muscats were even clients, the blog led to Joseph Muscat being forced to call a snap election last June to shore up confidence in his leadership. As one Maltese journalist put it: ‘That story upped the ante a lot.’

Was it enough to get Galizia killed though? After all, there is no conclusive proof that her story was true. Galizia based it on testimony from a former Russian employee at Pilatus, Maria Efimova, who said she had seen the documents but did not actually provide them.

Efimova’s credibility as a whistleblower is also open to question, as at the time she was charged with stealing from the bank, which she in turn says had failed to pay her wages. She has now also fled the island, claiming to be in fear for her life, making it even less likely that the truth will come out.

Galizia’s son Matthew (centre) walks by the wreckage of her car.
Galizia’s son Matthew (centre) walks by the wreckage of her car. CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES
Yet, ultimately, the political fallout from the Egrant affair proved limited. June’s election saw Muscat’s party – riding high off strong economic growth – improve its majority. It hardly seems a motive for a murder four months later. Balzan, the newspaper editor, also doubts the Azerbaijanis would have done it.

‘Whatever money they might be putting into Malta is crumbs for them.’ What about fuel smuggling? In October, Sicilian magistrates said they ‘could not rule out’ a link between Galizia’s death and several people arrested over a fuel-smuggling network. Among them was Darren Debono, a former Maltese football player whom Galizia had once warned might become a victim of a car bomb himself because of his ‘business activities’ in Libya.

According to Italian wiretaps, Debono was also heard cursing an ‘asshole’ journalist who had written about fuel smuggling. Debono, however, denies any involvement in her death or in fuel smuggling, while the journalist concerned turned out to be a Wall Street Journal reporter, not Galizia.

‘Daphne wasn’t the person who broke new ground on this subject,’ said one fellow Maltese investigative reporter. ‘Besides, I doubt professional criminals, whose aim is making money, would risk drawing attention to themselves like this.’ So who did do it? Maltese police are not giving interviews, and nor is Galizia’s family, due to security concerns. However, a source close to the family said: ‘The police aren’t telling us anything. All we know is that someone wanted to send out a message, saying: “We can do this.”’

Might it be possible, though, that Galizia died not for exposing wrongdoing in high places, but for some personal attack that went a step too far? Michela Spiteri, another local columnist, points out that in a country as small as Malta, no-holds-barred blogging is a potentially dangerous activity.

‘Daphne was good and I am shocked that she was killed, but Malta is a small place, and people have a Mediterranean temperament, a short fuse. It’s more like Sicily than England: the humiliation element has to be considered,’ she says.

Certainly, reading Galizia’s blog, Malta comes across more like a provincial town than an European Union state. Everyone in public life and business seems to know each other. Many are linked by family or marriage and 75 per cent of the population share the same 100 surnames, notably all those Muscats.

Galizia’s bombed car is examined by forensic experts. CREDIT: REUTERS
And, as well as exposing conflicts of interest, genuine and otherwise, Galizia also revealed details of who her targets were allegedly having affairs with, which restaurants they’d been seen in, and what clothes they were wearing. To Galizia’s followers, such reporting was a necessary challenge to a culture of tame journalism, in which those who reported on close-knit Malta felt pressured not to confront the malaise in public life.

Yet while some laughed Galizia’s attacks off, columnist Spiteri says that others were driven to the brink of suicide and mental breakdown. One target of Galizia’s ire says he even has to have police protection as a result. Franco Debono, a criminal lawyer and former Nationalist Party backbencher, fell out with both Galizia and his own party over his proposed reforms of Malta’s creaking legal system.

There is no suggestion that Debono had anything to do with Galizia’s death, but in a corner of his office behind the law courts, he has a foot-high pile of printed blogs that Galizia wrote about him. One shows a picture of him as a young schoolboy, captioned by her: ‘When I grow up, I want to be a prick.’ In another she said, ‘He should be taken out and shot.’

Galizia said only a fool would take her comments seriously: Mr Debono finds it hard to see the joke. ‘It is thanks partly to her comments that I still have a policeman outside my house,’ he says. ‘I received death threats, people saying they’d cut off my head.’

Part of the problem, he argues, is Malta’s libel laws, which limit damages to €11,000, which Galizia’s army of supporters would hold whip-rounds to help pay for. ‘There is no protection for reputation here,’ he adds. ‘She made a profession out of that.’

Still, if Galizia’s killer was an ordinary Maltese citizen provoked by a smear, the result would probably have been a stabbing or shooting in the heat of the moment, not a car-bombing bearing the hallmarks of a professional hit. So with no explanation that appears to hold water, what would otherwise seem like conspiracy theories are also gaining traction.

One is based on reports that the CIA and M15 feared that Efimova, the Egrant whistleblower, was part of a Kremlin ‘fake news’ operation to discredit Prime Minister Muscat.

If Russia wanted to sow chaos, killing Galizia was a way to do it
He has been in Moscow’s bad books since 2016, when he refused to let Russian warships refuel in Malta en route to Syria. When Muscat then failed to lose the snap election sparked by the Egrant story, the theory goes, the Kremlin went one step further and had Galizia killed.

‘If you want to sow chaos, then killing the government’s chief critic is a good way of doing it,’ said one Maltese journalist. Ahead of the June poll, Muscat did say he had been warned by Western intelligence agencies to expect retaliation for his decision over the warships. But there was, the government said, no proof linking Efimova to the Kremlin. Critics of the Russia theory also say Mr Putin is much too big a player to worry about who runs little Malta. :mrgreen:

On the other hand, Russia has a long history of ‘black ops’ in foreign countries and, in light of claims of Russian interference in the US election, some cannot help speculating that Putin might want to destabilise a government that had crossed him.

Whoever was responsible for her murder, Galizia remains as big a presence in death as she was in life. Weeks after her death, readers were still instinctively clicking on her blog to get her take on any given topic. And, like her investigations, her murder is forcing Malta to take a long, hard look at the country it has become.


Austin
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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 10 Jan 2018 16:08

Singha wrote:damascus has been given a pantsyr system i believe. one of these shot down a Lora TCS rocket launched from israel.

baghdad is wide open. the iraqis are building a long berm with check gates on the western rim i believe to catch sleeper cells bringing in explosives and deter svbied.


These systems have very limited coverage and a narrow funnel as Pantisir systems are point defence system ( ~ 15 km ) , it will just deal with protecting targets when deployed in adequate numbers like Air base

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Austin » 10 Jan 2018 16:08

Russian MoD Releases New Photos of Drones That Attacked Hmeymim Base

Image

Singha
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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 10 Jan 2018 16:50

what used to be al tofayh village in latakia, backtraced as the launch point of the drones.

the ruaf platypuses paid a visit

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 10 Jan 2018 16:56


deejay
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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby deejay » 10 Jan 2018 16:58

^^ (The Pic of the Platypus) :eek: :(( I will never drone the Russians.

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby Singha » 10 Jan 2018 16:59

tiger forces are making decent progress in their usual slice and dice tactics in southern idlib, slowly forcing the jihadis to abandon the areas near khanasser highway and withdraw to the west or risk getting cut off. no major attack has been launched from western aleppo as yet.

syrian intel are also using sleeper cells, mercenaries, moles and car bombs to eliminate jihadi leaders in various parts of Idlib.

turkey has complained to the iranian and russi ambassadors about these syrian advances into Idlib and darkly promised they will attack and punish the kurds for this gustakhi

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Re: Levant crisis - III

Postby deejay » 10 Jan 2018 17:08

^The map changes by the hour. Also advances from near Ithriya and Hader towards Abu Duhur. Yesterday Turkmen militia ran away from defending Al Rahjan near Ithriya and today another group of militants vacated high ground south of Hader.

The communication lines and roads are closing and the militants who don't have a death wish are pulling back.


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