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Thread: Syria

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    Default Re: Syria

    Ryan... I think the phrase is "bated breath" - not that I am "correcting you" but "bated" means "held".

    Baited means you ate a worm (or perhaps some calamari) hahahaha

    BUT... you're right. Using WP on vehicles, weapons systems, even buildings is something other than using it on civilians. Which is what they are doing.

    In the videos I saw played, the shit was hitting in residential areas.

    Apparently Scuds have a roughly 50% chance of hitting a "50 meter radius" which means they aren't very "precision weapons".

    Sorry for the "correction" but over the years I've gotten more and more anal about correct spelling (and I know for SURE I misspell things often enough that I wish people would point it out to me! LOL)
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    Default Re: Syria

    Assad's forces fire Scuds in Syria escalation: U.S. official

    Tue, Dec 11 2012


































    WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS | Wed Dec 12, 2012 6:53pm EST

    (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have fired Scud missiles at rebels trying to overthrow Syria's government, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday, a step seen as an escalation in Assad's struggle to retain power.
    U.S. officials said they were unaware of any previous instances in which Scuds were used against the rebels since the start of the 20-month-old uprising, which has killed more than 40,000 people.
    White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to confirm the reports, saying he was aware of them but could not discuss intelligence matters.
    "If true, this would be the latest desperate act from a regime that has shown utter disregard for innocent life," he said. "The idea that the Syrian regime would launch missiles in its borders at its own people is stunning, desperate, a completely disproportionate military escalation."
    A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Scuds had been used.
    In Brussels, a NATO official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said a number of "Scud-type" short-range ballistic missiles had been launched inside Syria in recent days.
    "Allied intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets have detected the launch of a number of unguided, short-range ballistic missiles inside Syria this week," the official said.
    "Trajectory and distance travelled indicate they were Scud-type missiles," the NATO official said.
    Thomas Houlahan, a military analyst at the Center for Security and Science, said the weapons were probably North Korean-made Hwasong-6 missiles, an improved variant of the original Soviet Scuds.
    "In terms of the short-range battlefield missiles, they produce a pretty good missile and because of North Korea's constant need for hard currency, they sell them pretty cheap. So they have moved a lot of missiles around and Syria has ended up with a lot of them," Houlahan said.
    "MORE ACCURATE"
    He said the Hwasong-6 was more accurate than the original Scud, could carry a warhead of about 1,800 pounds (820 kg) and had a range of about 450 miles.
    But he said the use of the weapon raised questions as to why the Syrians were not using their air force instead, which was a better alternative.
    "If I want to dump 1,800 pounds of explosives on somebody with fairly decent accuracy and I have an air force and they don't, why the hell am I not using a plane?" Houlahan said.
    "If you see a country or an army that has much better options not using them, you start to ask yourself why," he added. "Is it the old problem where dictators can't always trust their air forces?"
    NATO agreed last week to send Patriot anti-missile systems to alliance member Turkey to reinforce its air defenses and calm its fears of coming under missile attack, possibly with chemical weapons, from neighboring Syria.
    The NATO official said the Syrian missiles had landed inside Syria and no missiles had hit Turkish territory. He said the Western alliance had no information about what casualties or damage the missiles had caused.
    Asked if there was any evidence of Syrian use of chemical weapons, he said: "We have no information concerning the payload."
    U.S. President Barack Obama warned Assad last week not to use chemical weapons against Syrian opposition forces, saying there would be unspecified consequences if he did so.
    The United States, Germany and Netherlands have all agreed to send Patriot missiles to protect Turkey, but the missile batteries are not expected to arrive for several more weeks.
    The New York Times, which initially reported Syria's use of the missiles, quoted one official as saying more than six had been fired at the rebels. Another official said the missiles had been launched from the Damascus area at targets in northern Syria, the Times said.
    U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters they would not dispute the Times report.
    News of Syria's use of Scud missiles broke as Western and Arab nations sympathetic to the uprising against Assad gave full political recognition to the opposition at a meeting in Morroco.
    (Reporting by David Alexander in Washington and Adrian Croft in Brussels; Editing by Michael Roddy and David Brunnstrom)
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  3. #683
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    Default Re: Syria

    voice of America:

    Syrian Strikes Heighten Urgency of Patriot Missile Deployment in Turkey




    NATO's Patriot surface-to-air missiles







    December 12, 2012


    NATO preparations to defend Turkey from potential Syrian attacks may find new urgency as Damascus begins to use missiles against Syrian rebels across the Turkish border.

    U.S. officials on Wednesday said Syrian troops fired Scud missiles at opposition forces for the first time in recent days, marking an escalation of longtime President Bashar al-Assad's fight against a 21-month rebellion.

    Turkey has long feared that an increasingly desperate Assad government may resort to striking Turkish targets with its Russian-designed missiles and warplanes, in retaliation for Ankara's hosting and support of Syrian rebels and refugees.

    IHS Jane's analyst Ben Goodlad says Syria has about 550 Scud missiles with a range of up to 800 kilometers.

    Last week, Turkey won approval from other members of the NATO alliance for the deployment of U.S.-made Patriot missiles to defend its southeastern region against the perceived Syrian threat.

    The Patriot is a ground-based defense system that fires missiles to intercept airborne threats, including aircraft and ballistic missiles.

    NATO preparations

    Alliance members Germany and the Netherlands have agreed to send two Patriot batteries to Turkey, while the size of the U.S. contribution is still being worked out.

    A U.S. Defense Department official told VOA the Obama administration is determining the best way to respond to Turkey's request and likely will announce details of the Patriot deployment within days.

    Speaking by phone from Brussels, a NATO official said the alliance expects the three nations to start shipping the large and heavy batteries to Turkey in the coming weeks.

    He said the costs of transporting and operating the Patriot system will be borne by the contributing governments, a typical practice in NATO missions. The Dutch government has estimated the cost of its two-battery mission in Turkey at $55 million for one year.

    The NATO official said Turkey will cover 'host nation' expenses such as electricity, accommodation and food for the hundreds of foreign troops needed to run the batteries.

    Turkish and NATO officials have been in talks to finalize the locations of the Patriot units. A NATO survey team visited southeastern Turkey late last month and early this month to scout possible sites, including key population centers and civilian and military installations.

    Strategic positions

    The NATO team visited Adana's Sakirpasa civilian airport and Incirlik NATO air force base, Iskenderun's commercial port, naval and army bases, a radar site at Kisecik village near Antakya, and air bases in Malatya and Diyarbakir.

    Ben Goodlad said he expects at least one Patriot unit to be deployed around Diyarbakir, a major regional city around 100 kilometers from the Syrian border.

    Patriot interceptors can hit incoming missiles up to 20 kilometers from a launching station. Goodlad said that means the launchers need to be relatively close to population centers to protect them from missile attacks.

    He said the interceptors also can target hostile aircraft as far as 160 kilometers away, enabling a Diyarbakir-based battery to shield much of Turkey's border region from possible Syrian air strikes.

    Border sensitivities

    For those reasons, Goodlad said there is little need to deploy Patriot units right along Turkey's more sparsely populated border with Syria. Russia, a longtime Assad ally, has expressed concern that positioning the interceptors on the border could threaten Syria and exacerbate the situation.

    "NATO is keen not to position its batteries on the border itself in order to maintain a defensive posture, rather than being viewed as an aggressive move toward Syria," Goodlad said.

    The NATO official said the alliance expects that any intercepts of Syrian ballistic missiles would occur over Turkish territory.

    "But the precise intercept location depends on many factors, including when the attacking missile is detected, and where the closest Patriot battery is," he said.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Donaldson View Post
    Ryan... I think the phrase is "bated breath" - not that I am "correcting you" but "bated" means "held".

    Baited means you ate a worm (or perhaps some calamari) hahahaha


    I had a feeling it was wrong but I was driving and didn't have time to check.


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    Default Re: Syria

    If you were driving you're forgiven.

    wait a minute, driving and texting?

    Oh, wait, you weren't really texting, you were posting to the web site!

    lo;
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    Default Re: Syria

    Exactly, that's why it's okay!

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    Default Re: Syria

    Just reported. US sending troops and Patriot batteries to Turkey....
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    Default Re: Syria

    Sounds like a set up for a no-fly zone....
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    Default Re: Syria

    United States to Deploy Anti-Missile Units in Turkey

    By THOM SHANKER, ERIC SCHMITT and MICHAEL R. GORDON

    Published: December 14, 2012


    INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey — Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta signed an official deployment order on Friday to send 400 American military personnel and two Patriot air defense batteries to Turkey as cross-border tensions with Syria intensify.



    The American batteries will be part of a broader push to beef up Turkey’s defenses that will also include the deployment of four other Patriot batteries — two from Germany and two from the Netherlands.

    All six units will be under NATO’s command and are scheduled to be operational by the end of January, according to officials in Washington.
    George Little, the Pentagon spokesman, said Mr. Panetta signed the order as he flew from Afghanistan to this air base in southern Turkey, close to the border with Syria.

    “The United States has been supporting Turkey in its efforts to defend itself,” Mr. Little said.

    The order “will deploy some 400 U.S. personnel to Turkey to support two Patriot missile batteries,” Mr. Little added, and the personnel and Patriot batteries will arrive in Turkey “in coming weeks.” He did not disclose where the Patriots would be located.

    After landing at Incirlik Friday, Mr. Panetta told a gathering of American Air Force personnel of his decision to deploy the Patriots.

    He said the United States was working with Turkey, Jordan and Israel to monitor Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, and warned of “serious consequences” if Syria used them, but he did not offer any specifics.

    “We have drawn up plans for presenting to the president,” Mr. Panetta said. “We have to be ready.”

    Turkey, which has been supporting the Syrian opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, has been worried it is vulnerable to Syrian missiles, including Scuds that might be tipped with chemical weapons. Those concerns were heightened by reports of increased activity at some of Syria’s chemical sites, though Mr. Panetta said this week that intelligence about chemical weapons activity in Syria had “leveled off.”

    The recent Scud missile attacks mounted by forces loyal to Mr. Assad against rebels in northern Syria have only added to Turkey’s concerns. The Scud missiles fired at the rebels were armed with conventional warheads, but the attacks showed that the Assad government is prepared to use missiles as it struggles to slow rebel gains.

    Syria denied Thursday that it had fired Scud missiles this week. But NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that the intelligence gathered by the alliance indicated that they were Scud-type missiles. “In general, I think the regime in Damascus is approaching collapse,” he said. “I think now it’s only a question of time.”

    NATO foreign ministers last week endorsed the decision to send Patriot batteries to Turkey. The details of how many each nation would send were not worked out until this week, officials said.

    In preparation for the deployment, allied officials had conducted surveys of 10 potential sites, mostly in southeastern Turkey, that could be defended by one or more Patriot batteries.

    But NATO nations do not have enough batteries to cover all of the sites. With tensions building with Iran and North Korea defying the United States and its Asian allies by launching a long-range rocket, American officials did not want to send more than a few Patriot batteries to Turkey, especially since it is not clear how long they will be needed.

    But NATO diplomats said that the goal was to show enough of a commitment to Turkey’s defense to deter a Syrian attack.

    It will take three weeks to ship and deploy the two American Patriot batteries, a Defense Department official said.

    One allied official said it might be possible to speed up the deployment of the German and Dutch batteries if necessary. Each of those nations will also send up to 400 troops.

    The United States, Germany and the Netherlands are the only NATO members that have the advanced PAC-3 Patriot system.

    The Patriot batteries in Turkey will be linked to NATO’s air-defense system. The response by the missile batteries would be nearly automatic, firing interceptor missiles to destroy the target by ramming into it, a tactic the military calls “hit to kill.”
    Last edited by American Patriot; December 14th, 2012 at 14:12.
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    Default Re: Syria

    Panetta signs order to deploy 400 U.S. personnel to Turkey

    Posted 12/14/2012 Updated 12/14/2012 Email story Print story

    by Cheryl Pellerin
    American Forces Press Service

    12/14/2012 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFNS) -- Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has signed an order that will deploy 400 U.S. personnel to Turkey to support the deployment that NATO agreed to recently of Patriot missile capability there, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

    Panetta signed the agreement en route to Turkey as he wrapped up a trip this week that included time in Kuwait and Afghanistan with civilian and military leaders.

    He visited the troops to thank them for their dedication and sacrifice, and for spending another holiday season away from family and friends.

    While in Kabul the secretary also met with Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, ISAF regional commanders and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

    "The United States has been supporting Turkey in its efforts to defend itself," Little said. "NATO has recently offered up Patriot missile battery capability to Turkey, [which] is a very strong ally of the United States."

    Little said he expects the troops to be deployed in the coming weeks.

    "I'm not going to go into precise locations at this time, he added, "but I wanted to let you ... know that we signed that order and that we are prepared in the context of NATO to support the defense of Turkey for an unspecified period of time."

    The personnel will deploy to Turkey to operate two U.S. Patriot missile batteries once they are in place, he said.

    "The purpose of this deployment is to signal very strongly that the United States, working closely with our NATO allies, is going to support the defense of Turkey, especially with potential threats emanating from Syria," Little said.

    Incirlik Air Base is an installation of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, a major command of the U.S. Air Force and the air component of the U.S. European Command, a DOD unified command.

    "Turkey also is a key NATO ally and we have a lot of U.S. forces stationed there to enhance our strong defense cooperation," Panetta told reporters traveling with him as the trip began.

    "Both the United States and Turkey share common concerns now about the violence in Syria and the threat that it poses to regional stability, he added.

    Panetta said DOD has been working closely with Turkey on humanitarian issues, chemical and biological weapons issues, and missile defense.

    "I'm pleased that last week NATO pledged to deploy missile defense systems to protect Turkey, and we will participate in that effort as well," the secretary said.

    Panetta said the United States and Turkey are committed to work together to strengthen defense systems and to put pressure on the Assad regime in neighboring Syria to end the violence in that country and help develop the political transition that must take place there.


    Pentagon to send missiles, 400 troops to Turkey


    Associated Press | Updated: December 14, 2012 17:51 IST


    File photo

    Incirlik Air Base, Turkey: The Pentagon says it will send Patriot air defense missiles and 400 troops to Turkey as part of a NATO force meant to protect Turkish territory from potential Syrian missile attack.

    Pentagon press secretary George Little said Defense Secretary Leon Panetta signed a deployment order Friday en route to Turkey from Afghanistan.

    The order calls for 400 U.S. soldiers to operate two batteries of Patriots at undisclosed locations in Turkey, Little told reporters flying with Panetta.

    Turkey is a founding member of NATO and requested that the alliance provide Patriots. They will be sent by NATO members Germany and the Netherlands as well as the U.S. for an undetermined period.

    During a brief stop at Incirlik Air Base, Panetta told U.S. troops that Turkey might need the Patriots, which are capable of shooting down shorter-range ballistic missiles as well as aircraft.

    He said he approved the deployment "so that we can help Turkey have the kind of missile defense it may very well need to deal with the threats coming out of Syria," he said.

    Panetta did not mention how soon the two Patriot batteries will head to Turkey or how long they might stay.
    Incirlik is about 60 miles from the Syrian border.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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    Default Re: Syria



    Washington, get ready for more Iranian influence after Bashar al-Assad falls in Syria


    After the fall of Bashar-al Assad in Syria, Iran will compensate for its lost ally by strengthening its influence in Lebanon alongside its affiliate Hezbollah – the Shiite militant group that now dominates the country. To prevent this, Washington must take a leadership role in the Lebanon
    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/...falls-in-Syria





    Last edited by falcon; December 16th, 2012 at 15:33.

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    Default Re: Syria

    Oh, Washington WILL take up leadership by making sure that the Muslim Brotherhood gets in like all the other places....after all we can't discriminate against ONE terrorist group can we?

    /shakes head
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia sends warships to Syria for possible evacuation
















    By Erika Solomon
    BEIRUT | Tue Dec 18, 2012 8:29am EST

    (Reuters) - Russia sent warships to the Mediterranean to prepare a potential evacuation of its citizens from Syria, a Russian news agency said on Tuesday, a sign President Bashar al-Assad's key ally is worried about rebel advances that now threaten even the capital.
    Moscow acted a day after insurgents waging a 21-month-old uprising obtained a possible springboard for a thrust into Damascus by seizing the Yarmouk Palestinian camp just 2 miles from the heart of the city, activists said.
    The anti-Assad opposition has posted significant military and diplomatic gains in recent weeks, capturing a series of army installations across Syria and securing formal recognition from Western and Arab states for its new coalition.
    Assad's pivotal allies have largely stood behind him. But Russia, his main arms supplier, appeared to waver this week with contradictory statements repeating opposition to Assad stepping down and airing concerns about a possible rebel victory.
    Russia's Interfax news agency quoted unnamed naval sources on Tuesday as saying that two assault ships, a tanker and an escort vessel had left a Baltic port for the Mediterranean Sea, where Russia has a port in Syria's coastal city of Tartus.
    "They are heading to the Syrian coast to assist in a possible evacuation of Russian citizens ... Preparations for the deployment were carried out in a hurry and were heavily classified," the Russian agency quoted the source as saying.
    It was not possible to independently verify the report, which came a day after Russia confirmed that two citizens working in Syria were kidnapped along with an Italian citizen.
    YARMOUK A "RED LINE"
    In Damascus, activists reported overnight explosions and early morning sniper fire around the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk. The Yarmouk and Palestine refugee "camps" are actually densely populated urban districts home to thousands of impoverished Palestinian refugees and Syrians.
    "The rebels control the camp but army forces are gathering in the Palestine camp and snipers can fire in on the southern parts of Yarmouk," rebel spokesman Abu Nidal said by Skype.
    "Strategically, this site is very important because it is one of the best doors into central Damascus. The regime normally does not fight to regain areas captured any more because its forces have been drained. But I think they could see Yarmouk as a red line and fight back fiercely."
    Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees, most living in Yarmouk, descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948, and has always cast itself as a champion of the Palestinian struggle, sponsoring several guerrilla factions.
    The battle in Yarmouk was one of a series of conflicts on the southern edges of Damascus, as rebels try to choke off the capital to end 42 years of rule by the Assad family, who belong to the minority Alawite sect, derived from Shi'ite Islam.
    Both Assad's government and the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels have enlisted and armed divided Palestinian factions as the uprising mushroomed from street protests into a civil war.
    Streams of refugees have fled Yarmouk, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday. Many have headed to central Damascus while hundreds more have gone across the frontier into Lebanon.
    MEDICAL SHORTAGES, EXTREME HUNGER
    More than 40,000 people have died in Syria's conflict, activists say. Around 200 died on Monday alone, according to the British-based Observatory, which has a network of activists across Syria. Violence has risen sharply, and with it humanitarian conditions are deteriorating.
    The World Health Organisation said around 100 people were being admitted daily to the main hospital of Damascus and that supplies of medicines and anesthetics were scarce.
    It also reported a rise in cases of extreme hunger and malnutrition coming from across Syria, including the rebel-dominated rural areas outside the capital, where the army has launched punishing air raids.
    Aid organizations say fighting has blocked their access into many conflict zones, and residents in rebel-held areas in particular have grappled with severe food and medical shortages.
    Fighting raged across Syria on Tuesday, with fighter jets and ground rockets bombarding rebel-dominated eastern suburbs of the capital and army forces shelling a town in Hama province after clashes reignited there over the weekend.
    Rebels overran at least five army sites in a new offensive in Hama on Monday, opposition activists said.
    Qassem Saadeddine, a member of the newly established rebel military command, said on Sunday fighters had been ordered to surround and attack army positions across Hama province. He said Assad's forces were given 48 hours to surrender or be killed.
    In 1982 Hafez al-Assad, late father of the current ruler, crushed an uprising in Hama city, killing up to 30,000 civilians.
    Qatiba al-Naasan, a rebel from Hama, said the offensive would probably bring retaliatory air strikes from the government but said that rebels were keen to put more strain on the army as living conditions deteriorated in the province.
    "For sure there will be slaughter - if the army wants to shell us, many people will die," he said by Skype. "But at the same time our situation is already getting miserable. "
    Syrian Vice President Farouq al-Sharaa said in a newspaper interview published on Monday that neither Assad's forces nor rebels seeking to overthrow him can win the war.
    Sharaa, a Sunni Muslim in a power elite dominated by Assad's Alawites, is not part of the president's inner circle directing the fight against Sunni rebels but is the most prominent figure to say in public that Assad would not prevail.
    (Additional reporting by Oliver Holmes, Erika Solomon and Dominic Evans in Beirut, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Afif Diab in Masnaa, Lebanon; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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    Default Re: Syria

    Terrorism & Security

    NBC's Richard Engel released in Syria, a journalist danger zone

    The Syrian conflict is making 2012 the deadliest year on record for journalists.


    By Whitney Eulich, Staff writer / December 18, 2012






    In this image made from video, NBC News Chief Correspondent Richard Engel exits a car after crossing back into Turkey, after Engel and his team were freed unharmed following a firefight at a checkpoint after five days of captivity inside Syria, in Cilvegozu, Turkey, Tuesday, Dec. 18.
    Anadolu via AP TV/AP




    The Christian Science Monitor
    Weekly Digital Edition




    NBC News Chief Correspondent Richard Engel and three members of his production crew were released safely from captivity last night, five days after being kidnapped in Syria, the news network reports. It is unclear who is responsible for the kidnapping, but the episode highlights the dangerous nature of reporting in war-torn Syria, a country the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) dubbed the deadliest place for journalists this year.
    NBC reports that Mr. Engel’s captors have not been identified but are “not believed to be loyal to the Assad regime.” Engel and his team went missing after crossing into Syria from Turkey last week, and there had been no communication with the network – neither requesting ransom nor laying claim for the kidnapping – while the team was in captivity.
    After entering Syria, Engel and his team were abducted, tossed into the back of a truck and blindfolded before being transported to an unknown location believed to be near the small town of Ma’arrat Misrin. During their captivity, they were blindfolded and bound, but otherwise not physically harmed, the network said.
    Early Monday evening local time, the prisoners were being moved to a new location in a vehicle when their captors ran into a checkpoint manned by members of the Ahrar al-Sham brigade, a Syrian rebel group. There was a confrontation and a firefight ensued. Two of the captors were killed, while an unknown number of others escaped, the network said.
    Engel and his team have since re-entered Turkey and say they were unharmed in the incident, NBC reports.
    Syria’s conflict began in March 2011 after a government crackdown on protests calling for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. The violence has spiraled into a bloody civil war that has claimed the lives of close to 40,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands of people, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
    Think you know the Middle East? Take our quiz.

    But, according to The Wall Street Journal, “the multiplying of militias on both sides of the conflict has quickly and vastly complicated the scenarios for how fighting might end or a political transition may be negotiated, and what may come next after the end of the regime.”
    "The civilian militias to come out of this conflict are going to make Hezbollah [in Lebanon] look like a walk in the park," Joseph Holliday, a senior research analyst at the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, told the Journal. Syria is not simply seeing a faceoff between government forces and rebel fighters, but the involvement of Al Qaeda-linked fighters and Iranian militants have also been noted.
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    CPJ projects that 2012 will be the deadliest year yet for journalists, with 67 journalist deaths registered through mid-December alone. The high numbers are in large part attributed to the conflict in Syria and how it has impacted local and international journalists trying to report there. Four international journalists were killed in Syria in 2012, but the majority of the 28 journalists killed there this year were local reporters, largely working online.
    “This feels like the first YouTube war,” BBC Middle East correspondent Paul Wood told CPJ. “There’s a guy with a machine gun and two guys next to him with camera phones.” Mr. Wood added that local journalists are facing multiple risks. “We’ve seen pro-regime journalists targeted by rebels – it is well known. But opposition journalists say the regime is intent on targeting them as journalists.”
    The number of fatalities related to the Syrian conflict approached the worst annual toll recorded during the war in Iraq, where 32 journalists were killed in both 2006 and 2007.
    Paul Wood … who covered Iraq and numerous other wars, said the Syrian conflict “is the most difficult one we’ve done.” Bashar al-Assad’s government sought to cut off the flow of information by barring entry to international reporters, forcing Wood and many other international journalists to travel clandestinely into Syria to cover the conflict. “We’ve hidden in vegetable trucks, been chased by Syrian police – things happen when you try to report covertly.”
    With international journalists blocked and traditional domestic media under state control, citizen journalists picked up cameras and notepads to document the conflict – and at least 13 of them paid the ultimate price. One, Anas al-Tarsha, was only 17 years old. At least five of the citizen journalists worked for Damascus-based Shaam News Network, whose videos have been used extensively by international news organizations.
    Engel is an experienced reporter who reported on the Iraq war in its entirety and has “covered wars, revolutions and political transitions around the world over the last 15 years,” according to NBC. But there are many factors making reporting by inexperienced journalists in high-risk countries like Syria increasingly common today.
    In addition to the rise of Internet journalism, there are other factors like “relatively cheap flights to some of the world’s trouble spots” and “shrinking budgets for foreign news” that “have dramatically reduced barriers to entry for would-be foreign correspondents,” reports the BBC.
    For organisations working to improve the safety of journalists it’s a cause for increasing concern.
    “There’s something of a worrying trend developing,” says Hannah Storm, director of the International News Safety Institute. “I’m hearing it from people that have recently graduated. I’m seeing it on Facebook. And I see it sometimes when I talk to students in universities.
    “It feels like now in places like Syria there are more and more people in their early or mid-20s with little or no experience - but with an overriding enthusiasm which makes them want to go out there and make a name for themselves, without taking the realities on board.”
    Many of these young reporters are working as freelancers, which can create an additional risk. Freelance reporter Austin Tice has been missing since August when he was kidnapped near Syria’s capital, Damascus. The Monitor reports that the number of journalists kidnapped has gone up, and "with the rise in the number of reporters operating in dangerous places like Syria – and with many parties seeing value in targeting them – many expect the threat to persist,” reports the Monitor. However, while all journalists reporting in conflict zones can expect to face threats, the increasing number of freelancers can make working in places like Syria “particularly acute, as they are often operating without significant institutional backing and experience.”
    "More and more of those journalists are freelancers because of the nature of the changing field," El Zein says, referring to the rise in the number of freelancers reporting in dangerous places, traditionally more a world for journalists on the staff of major publications.
    "Especially in Syria, the risks are very high for journalists, and a freelancer going in there without any support structure – it can be very risky and daunting."
    The Christian Science Monitor’s Tom Peter has been in and out of Syria over the course of the past few months and noted other distinct differences in reporting from Syria compared to other conflict zones in the past. “With Aleppo just a two-hour drive from Kilis [Turkey], many journalists have opted to drive into Syria each morning and return to Turkey to write stories and sleep. Not only is it safer, but electricity and Internet access are a sure thing,” he writes.
    The commute made my job of writing and filing stories easier, but it also made for a surreal reporting experience. In one afternoon, I might find myself taking cover as windows blew out around me in a bombing. By that evening, I'd be back in Kilis getting my hair cut in a barbershop where a miscommunication led to an accidental mud facial mask.
    I've always thought the hardest part of conflict journalism is the anxiety you feel before and after an assignment. When you're navigating a war, you're too busy to think about the what-ifs. Commuting in and out every day creates one of the strangest cycles of stress and decompression I've ever experienced.
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    Russia eyes Syria evacuation as rebels take Damascus district

    Mon, Dec 17 2012

    Homes destroyed in Syria airstrike

    Free Syrian Army fighters from Al-Farooq battalion celebrate after the fighters said they fought and defeated government troops in Halfaya, near Hama December 18, 2012. REUTERS/Samer Al-Hamwi/Shaam News Network/Handout

    By Erika Solomon

    BEIRUT | Tue Dec 18, 2012 11:27am EST

    (Reuters) - Russia sent warships to the Mediterranean to prepare a potential evacuation of its citizens from Syria, a Russian news agency said on Tuesday, a sign President Bashar al-Assad's key ally is worried about rebel advances now threatening even the capital.

    Moscow acted a day after insurgents waging a 21-month-old uprising obtained a possible springboard for a thrust into Damascus by seizing the Yarmouk Palestinian camp, an urban zone just 2 miles from the heart of the city, activists said.

    The Syrian opposition has scored significant military and diplomatic gains in recent weeks, capturing several army installations across Syria and securing formal recognition from Western and Arab states for its new coalition.

    Despite those rebel successes, bloodshed has been rising with more than 40,000 killed in a movement that began as peaceful street protests but has transformed into civil war.

    Assad's pivotal allies have largely stood behind him and Iran, believed to be his main bankroller in the conflict, said there were no signs of Assad was on the verge of being toppled.

    "The Syrian army and the state machine are working smoothly," Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said in Moscow on Tuesday.

    But Russia, Assad's primary arms supplier, has appeared to waver with contradictory statements over the past week stressing opposition to Assad stepping down and airing concerns about a possible rebel victory.

    Russia's Interfax news agency quoted unnamed naval sources on Tuesday as saying that two armed landing craft, a tanker and an escort vessel had left a Baltic port for the Mediterranean Sea. Russia has a naval maintenance base in the Syrian port of Tartus, around 250 km (155 miles) northwest of Damascus.

    "They are heading to the Syrian coast to assist in a possible evacuation of Russian citizens ... Preparations for the deployment were carried out in a hurry and were heavily classified," the Russian agency quoted the source as saying.

    Assad and his minority Alawite sect retain a solid grip on most of the coastal provinces of Tartus and Latakia, where their numbers are high. But the mostly Sunni Muslim rebels now control wide swathes of rural Syria, have seized border zones near Turkey in the north and Iraq to the east, and are pushing hard to advance on Damascus, Assad's fulcrum of power that sits close to the western frontier with Lebanon.

    It was not possible to independently verify the Interfax report, which came a day after Russia confirmed that two citizens working in the Latakia province were kidnapped along with an Italian citizen. About 5,3000 Russian citizens are registered with consular authorities in Syria.

    YARMOUK A "RED LINE"

    In Damascus, activists reported overnight explosions and early morning sniper fire around the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk. The Yarmouk and Palestine refugee "camps" are actually densely populated urban districts home to thousands of impoverished Palestinian refugees and Syrians.

    "The rebels control the camp but army forces are gathering in the Palestine camp and snipers can fire in on the southern parts of Yarmouk," rebel spokesman Abu Nidal said by Skype.

    "Strategically, this site is very important because it is one of the best doors into central Damascus. The regime normally does not fight to regain areas captured any more because its forces have been drained. But I think they could see Yarmouk as a red line and fight back fiercely."

    Syria hosts half a million Palestinian refugees, most living in Yarmouk, descendants of those admitted after the creation of Israel in 1948. Damascus has always cast itself as a champion of the Palestinian struggle, sponsoring several guerrilla factions.

    The battle in Yarmouk was one of a series of conflicts on the southern edges of Damascus, as the rebels try to seal off the capital in their campaign to end 42 years of rule over the major Arab state by the Assad family.

    Both Assad's government and the rebels have enlisted and armed divided Palestinian factions.

    Streams of refugees have fled Yarmouk. Many have headed to central Damascus while hundreds more have crossed into Lebanon.

    "We walked out on foot without our belongings until we reached central Damascus. We got in a taxi and drove straight for the border," said 75-year-old Abu Ali, speaking at the Lebanon's Masnaa border crossing.

    Abu Ali said around 70 percent of Yarmouk residents had fled and many had slept rough on the streets of Damascus.

    MEDICAL SHORTAGES, EXTREME HUNGER

    Around 200 people died in Syria on Monday alone, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists across the nation. Violence has risen sharply, and with it humanitarian conditions are deteriorating.

    The World Health Organisation said around 100 people were being admitted daily to the main hospital of Damascus and that supplies of medicines and anesthetics were scarce.

    It also reported a rise in cases of extreme hunger and malnutrition coming from across Syria, including the insurgent-dominated rural areas outside the capital, where Assad has unleashed warplanes to try to dislodge rebel units.

    Aid organizations say fighting has blocked their access into many conflict zones, and residents in rebel-held areas in particular have grappled with severe food and medical shortages.

    Fighting raged across Syria on Tuesday, with fighter jets and ground rockets bombarding rebel-controlled eastern suburbs of the capital and army forces shelling a town in Hama province after clashes reignited there over the weekend.

    The Syrian government severely restricts media access into the country, making it difficult to report events on the ground.

    An news team for the American NBC network who were kidnapped after entering Syria through the rebel-held northern border returned to Turkey on Tuesday after being freed in a gunfight.

    NBC chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel said his team was held by an unidentified band for five days, and the men were subjected to psychological torture including mock shootings.

    He said he had a "very good idea" who his captors were.

    "This was a group known as the shabbiha. This is a government militia. These are people who are loyal to President Bashar Assad," he said on NBC, adding that the kidnappers spoke openly about their allegiance to the Damascus government.

    (Additional reporting by Oliver Holmes, Erika Solomon and Dominic Evans in Beirut, Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Afif Diab in Masnaa, Lebanon, Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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    Default Re: Syria

    Russia considers nuclear missiles for Syria, Baltic
    Russia is planning to install Iskander surface missiles in Syria and its Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, in a response to United States missile interceptors in Poland and U.S.-Israeli military aid to Georgia, an Israeli news agency reported on Monday.



    Moscow seems to be eying Poland, the Middle East, and possibly Ukraine, as the main arenas for its reprisals, as Russia is reported to plan arming warships, submarines and long-range bombers in the Baltic and Middle East with nuclear warheads, DEBKAfile reported.The plan includes the establishment of big Russian military, naval and air bases in Syria and the release of advanced weapons systems withheld until now to Iran, with the S-300 air-missile defense system, and the nuclear-capable Iskander to Syria.

    Shortly before the Georgian conflict flared, Moscow promised Washington not to let Iran and Syria have these sophisticated pieces of hardware.

    The Iskander's cruise attributes make its launch and trajectory extremely hard to detect and intercept. If this missile reaches Syria, Israel will have to revamp its anti-missile defense array and Air Force assault plans for the third time in two years, as it constitutes a threat which transcends all its defensive red lines.

    Moscow's military planners know this and are therefore considering new sea and air bases in Syria as sites for the Iskander missiles, DEBKAfile reported. Russia would thus keep the missiles under its hand and make sure they were not transferred to Iran, it added.

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad will be invited to Moscow soon to finalize these plans in detail, according to the report.

    Military spokesmen in Moscow also said at the weekend that Russian military planners started redesigning the nation’s strategic plans as a fitting response to the U.S. decision to install 10 missile interceptors in Poland and over the recent clashes in Georgia, DEBKAfile reported.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



  17. #697
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    Default Re: Syria

    Geez.

    The Mayan's got it wrong, today wasn't the day. But it's coming and soon....
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    Hidden US-Israeli Military Agenda: “Break Syria into Pieces”
    A timely article in the Jerusalem Post in June brings to the forefront the unspoken objective of US foreign policy, namely the breaking up of Syria as a sovereign nation state –along ethnic and religious lines– into several separate and “independent” political entities. The article also confirms the role of Israel in the process of political destabilization of Syria. The JP article is titled: “Veteran Kurdish politician calls on Israel to support the break-up of Syria‘ (by Jonathan Spyer) (The Jerusalem Post (May 16, 2012)
    The objective of the US sponsored armed insurgency is –with the help of Israel– to “Break Syria into Pieces”.
    The “balkanisation of the Syrian Arab Republic” is to be carried out by fostering sectarian divisions, which will eventually lead to a “civil war” modelled on the former Yugoslavia. Last month, Syrian “opposition militants” were dispatched to Kosovo to organize training sessions using the “terrorist expertise” of the US sponsored Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) in fighting the Yugoslav armed forces.
    Sherkoh Abbas, President of the US based Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNA) has “called on Israel to support the break-up of Syria into a series of federal structures based on the country’s various ethnicities.” (Ibid)
    One possible ”break-up scenario” pertaining to Syria, which constitutes a secular multi-ethnic society, would be the formation of separate and “independent” Sunni, Alawite-Shiite, Kurdish and Druze states: “We need to break Syria into pieces,” Abbas said. (Quoted in JP, op. cit., emphasis added).
    “The Syrian Kurdish dissident argued that a federal Syria, separated into four or five regions on an ethnic basis, would also serve as a natural “buffer” for Israel against both Sunni and Shi’ite Islamist forces.” (Ibid.).
    Ironically, while Islamist forces are said to constitute the main threat to the Jewish State, Tel Aviv is providing covert support to the Islamist Free Syrian Army (FSA).

    Map 1
    Meeting behind Closed Doors at the US State Department
    A top level US State Department meeting was held in May with members of the Syrian Kurdish opposition. In attendance were representatives of the Kurdish National Council (KNC), Robert Stephen Ford, the outgoing US ambassador to Syria (who has played a key role in channelling support to the rebels) as well as Frederic C. Hof, a former business partner of Richard Armitage, who currently serves as the administration’s “special coordinator on Syria”. (Ibid). The delegation also met with Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman.
    Frederic C. Hof, Robert Stephen Ford and Jeffrey Feltman are the State Department’s key Syria policy-makers, with close links to the Syrian Free Army (SFA) and the Syrian National Council (SNC).


    Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman

    Frederic C. Hof, The Administration’s “special coordinator on Syria”

    Robert S. Ford, outgoing US Ambassador to Syria
    The public statements of KNA leader Sherkoh Abbas in the wake of the State Department meeting suggest that the political fracturing of the Syrian Arab Republic along ethnic and religious lines as well as the creation of an “independent Kurdistan” were discussed. “State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner described [the meeting's] purpose as part of ‘ongoing efforts… to help the Syrian [Kurdish] opposition build a more cohesive opposition to Assad.’” (Ibid).
    The KNA leader called upon Washington to support the creation of a separate Kurdish State consisting of “an autonomous region in Syria; joining the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq – which borders the Kurdish region in Syria; or perhaps an even larger Kurdish state” [Greater Kurdistan].
    “The Kurdish people, in all parts of Kurdistan, seek the right to form an independent Kurdish state. We can only achieve this cherished goal with the help of the western democracies, and first and foremost the U.S.” said Sherkoh Abbas. (Syria: An Alternative, Choice, Ekurd.net, May 22, 2012)
    It is worth noting, in this regard, that the creation of a “Greater Kurdistan” has been envisaged for several years by the Pentagon as part of a broader “Plan for Redrawing the Middle East”.(See map 2 below)
    This option, which appears unlikely in the near future, would go against the interests of Turkey, a staunch ally of both the US and Israel. Another scenario, which is contemplated by Ankara would consist in the annexation to Turkey of parts of Syrian Kurdistan. (See map above).
    “Greater Kurdistan” would include portions of Iran, Syria, Iraq and Turkey as conveyed in Coronel Ralph Peters (ret) celebrated map of “The New Middle East” (see below). (For Further details see Mahdi Nazemroaya’s November 2006 Global Research article).
    Colonel Peters taught at the US Military Academy.
    Detailed analysis on Syria.
    Over 30 chapters, available from Global Research at no charge
    SYRIA: NATO’s Next “Humanitarian” War?
    ONLINE INTERACTIVE I-BOOK
    - by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky – 2012-07-15
    Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”
    - by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya – 2006-11-18
    Towards the balkanization (division) and finlandization (pacification) of the Middle East
    Map 2. The New Middle East


    The following map was prepared by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters. It was published in the Armed Forces Journal in June 2006,
    Peters is a retired colonel of the U.S. National War Academy. (Map Copyright Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters 2006).
    Although the map does not officially reflect Pentagon doctrine, it has been used in a training program at NATO’s Defense College for senior military officers.
    This map, as well as other similar maps, has most probably been used at the National War Academy as well as in military planning circles.
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/hidden-...o-pieces/31454

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    Default Re: Syria

    You know... if that were A plan it would be better than NO plan in my opinion. They are killing their civilians right and left.

    To me, it's merely "the shape of things to come" to America.
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  20. #700
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    Default Re: Syria


    Reports: Russia sends another naval ship to Syria




    MOSCOW (AP) - Russian news agencies say the navy is sending another ship to the Syrian port of Tartus, where Russia has a naval base.

    The reports Sunday by the ITAR-Tass and Interfax news agency cited an unidentified official in the military general staff as saying the Novocherkassk, a large landing ship, has set sail from the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk. The ship is expected to arrive in the Tartus area in early January.

    The reports gave no information on the ship's intent. But Russian diplomats have said that Moscow is preparing a plan to evacuate thousands of Russians from Syria if necessary. The Defense Ministry announced two weeks ago that several ships were being dispatched to the Mediterranean.

    Read more: http://www.myfoxdc.com/story/2046856...#ixzz2GeTCfByi
    Follow us: @myfoxdc on Twitter | myfoxdc on Facebook
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