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By Peter Clifford                  ©            (


Earlier today, Wednesday, Opposition fighters in Quneitra province, advancing from Qahtaniyah, south-west of Quneitra city, have taken the border crossing between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights.

The Opposition side, which included units of the Al-Nusra Front, lost 4 men in the fighting while killing 20 of the Assad regime’s troops.



Israeli Troops Near the Quneitra Border Crossing

After 6 Stray mortar shells landed in Israel “moderately wounding” an Israeli Defence Force officer during the clashes, Israel retaliated with 2 confirmed direct hits on Syrian Army positions said to be the source of the fire.

The Opposition had briefly held this crossing before in June 2014 before it was recaptured by the Syrian Army.

Video footage shows sight of the current attack on the frontier post,HERE:  Fighting continues at nearby Juba and a hill overlooking it.

The Assad regime, having lost the Tabqa airbase in Raqqah province to the Islamic State last weekend, also seems to be in trouble in Hama province.

Despite sending in 500 troops from its elite “Desert Hawks” brigade, who were trained by the Iranians and responsible for recapturing Observatory Hill 45 in Latakia province, the Syrian Government has made no headway.

In fact some unconfirmed reports suggest that 200 of the “Desert Hawks” have already been killed.

In contrast the latest information from the Opposition side says that the Al-Nusra Front (ANF) has sent in 1,500 fighters of its own to reinforce the current fronts around Helfaia and Mhardeh in Hama province, destroying an Assad tank and a rocket launcher and killing 13 Government soldiers.

The capture of Mhardeh would further strengthen the Opposition assault on Hama city to the south-east and nearby Hama Military Airport which they continue to pound with Grad rockets making it largely inoperable. Local sources say the Opposition are within 600 metres of Mhardeh and that they hit it with more than 100 shells on Sunday.

Hama Military Airport is considered vital to the Assad regime for the production and distribution of barrel-bombs and for conducting bombing raids throughout Syria.

The regime has tried to stir up reaction by pointing out that Mhardeh is largely a Christian town, but ANF has issued instructions to treat the resident population well, its track-record at its previous capture of Christian Ma’aloula in Damascus province holding it in good stead.

The Opposition is also reported to be continuing its shelling on Wednesday of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine to the north-west of Hama city and to have captured 9 Shabiha (Assad armed militia) at Kafr Al-Toun nearby. in addition a further 10 regime troops are reported killed on the Morek frontline.

Once again, with all this successful Opposition activity in central Hama province, the Alawites in Latakia province, which borders it, are getting nervous. You can read more, HERE:


In Aleppo province east of Aleppo city, the Islamic State is shelling the Quwaires airbase with US GPS enhanced howitzers captured from the Army in Iraq, HERE:



Islamic State Using US Made Howitzers to Shell Assad Base at Quwaires

A new more moderate Opposition coalition formed in Aleppo province specifically to fight the advance of the Islamic State has recaptured several village back from them in the north,HERE: and HERE:

More shelling with tanks on Islamic State positions at Ihtaimlat village, due north of Aleppo city, HERE:

Near Damascus, the Al-Nusra Front has captured a total of 5 regime checkpoints or barriers near Zabadani, killing 20 of Assad’s troops in the process.

In the Harasta district, Opposition fighters shelled the Ministry of Irrigation, HERE:

Near Damascus International Airport the Opposition say they have killed Abu al Fadl Al- Abbas, a pro-Assad militia commander.

In Deir Ez-Zour province, a number of tribal leaders issued a video pledging allegiance to the Islamic State on Sunday, in return for the Jihadists forgiveness of the Shaitat tribe who had rebelled against them. So far the Islamic State are reported to have killed 700 of the Shaitat tribe in retribution for “disobedience” and another 1800 are missing.

The Islamic State has apparently deemed the Shaitat as “hostile apostates” (despite the fact they are, like the Jihadists, nominally Sunni) designating Sheitat villages as a “military zone” and seizing, property, personal belongings, livestock, as well as demolishing houses as a punishment. You can read more, HERE:

Yesterday, Tuesday, the Assad regime carried out 12 pinpoint airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) positions across Deir Ez-Zour province hitting a training camp and “destroying arms and ammunition stores” according to Syrian state media.

At least 7 Jihadists were killed in the raids, the first time the Syrian government has carried out such intense attacks in the province on IS positions.

Some sources said the US government has provided the Assad regime with IS location and intelligence data via Iraqi and Russian intermediaries, but the US has today, Wednesday, denied this.

The US is however gathering intelligence data on the Islamic State in Syria for itself, US drones overflying the country after President Obama gave permission for such covert activity on Monday.

Obama is said to yet to be “making up his mind” on whether to strike IS targets inside Syria as well as Iraq, though military sources are indicating that it is “only a matter of time”.

There are also reports that the Syrian Government has asked Moscow to help it with airstrikes against the Islamic State, just to complicate the matter further, and Russia is apparently “considering this request”.

Members of the Alawite community, from which President Assad comes, are said to be angry at the lack of Syrian state media coverage of the fall of the Tabqa airbase in Raqqah province, where hundreds are said to have been killed, especially after videos appeared on Islamic State associated websites showing at least 7 Assad soldiers being executed. Many more are still thought to be in IS captivity. You can read more from Reuters Syria news.

Passport of American Killed Fighting for Islamic State


Passport of American Killed Fighting for Islamic State

Nervousness in the United States about the whole Syria/Iraq scenario has also been compounded by the confirmation that another American Jihadist, Douglas McAuthur McCain, of San Diego, California, has killed fighting for the Islamic State.

He was killed in fighting against moderate Opposition brigades in Aleppo province, along with 3 other foreign Jihadists. Rifling through his clothes afterwards, the Opposition fighters found $800 and his US passport. You can read more about his background in NBC Syria news.

Peter Theo Curtis, a journalist held by the Al-Nusra Front for 2 years, is now back in the United States (scroll down – see below) but it is reported from Israel that the Islamic State are now demanding a ransom of $6.6 million for the release of a 26 year-old US female humanitarian aid worker, as yet unidentified at the request of her family.

The BBC interviewed a Pentagon official on the subject, HERE:

At the UN today, Wednesday, the Commission charged with looking at human rights abuse in Syria issued a report damning both the Islamic State and the Assad regime, the former for “executions, beheadings and floggings”, and the latter for its use of barrel-bombs and using “chlorine gas on villagers 8 times over a 10 day period in April of this year”, among many other abhorrent acts. The detail of the report is, (pdf) HERE:

In Turkey, the press is reporting that the Netherlands, who along with Germany and the US are manning NATO Patriot missile emplacements near the border with Syria, is to end its support of the project, set up nearly 2 years ago, next January. The Netherlands, while acknowledging that it is still necessary, says it no longer has the resources to continue.

And lastly, a good news story for Syria. A young Syrian woman, who got stuck in Nottingham in the UK while studying English at the outbreak of fighting in Syria has just been reunited with her Father.

Her Father had been arrested by the Assad regime and the family never thought they would see him again, assuming that after 18 months that he must be dead. In fact, he had escaped to Sweden, thinking that his daughter Doaa, aged 20, was dead as well.

The Red Cross Missing Persons Bureau has united them by telephone and Doaa is flying to Sweden soon. The BBC has the video report, HERE:


In Iraq, as in Syria, the Islamic State are using captured M198 US-made howitzers in their assault on the Baiji oil refinery west of Mosul, which has still not fallen completely into their hands.



Islamic State Fighters Pose With Captured Armoured Personnel Carriers

The Jihadists have also been displaying Iraqi Army Pandur 8×8 BTR-4E armoured personnel carriers, originally made in Austria and supplied to the Iraqi Army by Ukraine.

On the other side of the coin, 9 countries have now agreed to send weapons and equipment to the Peshmerga forces in Kurdistan, including for the first time Germany which normally does not get involved in such requests, this time sending 4000 bulletproof vests, 200 radios and 680 night vision devices.

The UK is sending a further £10 million worth of aid to Iraq on top of £13 million already donated.

On the ground, US airstrikes have targeted today, Wednesday, the Bashiqa area north of Mosul destroying 2 armed Islamic State vehicles and damaging another near Erbil, bringing the US total to 98 attacks.

North of the besieged Turkman town of Amerli, Shia militia have been gathering in large numbers to try and break through the Islamic State (IS) lines and the Iraqi Air Force has struck IS positions with rocket fire and bombs, carrying out 9 strikes on Tuesday.

12,000 people are thought to be still trapped in Amerli with little food or water and no electricity, the only way in or out via helicopter. Reports from the US say that the Government there is still considering whether to implement air strikes near Amerli and arrange aid drops.

The UK and Australia may also be considering entering into the attacks against the Islamic State, with British Royal Air Force (RAF) jets on standby in Cyprus and already carrying out surveillance, and RAAF Super Hornet strike fighter jets on standby at their base at Amberley near Brisbane.

The Australian Government says that around 60 Australians are thought to have joined the fighting in Syria and Iraq, with as many as 15 already killed.

In northern Iraq, the Iran has sent its 81st division, including tanks and helicopters across the common frontier and also agreed to supply the Peshmerga with weapons.

In Kirkuk, the Iraqi Police and the Kurdish Peshmerga are working together in an uneasy alliance to monitor everyone who comes and goes following a series of deadly bomb explosions within the city.

Some residents think that the Islamic State already has militants within the city hiding among the Arab community. Al Jazeera has a video report from Kirkuk, here:


The Institute for the Study of War also has an illustrative update, here:



Written by altahrir

August 28, 2014 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Peter Clifford

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Gaza: Medical care through war and truce

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For 50 days, Gaza’s Al Shifa hospital has lived to the rhythm of fighting followed by ceasefire followed by fighting again. Then on 25 August, an open-ended ceasefire came into force, bringing a massive sense of relief to MSF teams and to the population of Gaza as a whole. But activity in the largest hospital in Gaza continues unabated. Until yesterday, the hospital was still receiving people wounded in recent bombings, as well as people injured over previous days who were unable to come for treatment until now.

MSF surgical teams continue to work shifts at Al Shifa hospital, alongside Palestinian Ministry of Health staff, as they have been doing since the Israeli army launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July. As one MSF surgeon leaves, another one takes their place. Maurice, a thoracic surgeon, has just returned from Gaza. “I was operating on patients with chest and abdominal injuries,” he says. “Most were shrapnel wounds. Even a small piece of shrapnel less than 1 cm long can tear everything in its path and cause massive wounds to the lungs. More than half of the patients I operated on were women and children. “

Two other MSF surgeons are currently working in Al Shifa hospital, operating on patients with severe burns who require multiple surgery, doing plastic surgery and carrying out skin grafts, amongst other things. They are also called on to assist with especially difficult or long operations. The 60-bed Al Shifa hospital receives patients from across the Gaza Strip, and includes six operating theatres, an intensive care unit where burns victims are cared for, and an emergency room. The Palestinian medical staff are very experienced, but a number of hospitals in Gaza have been destroyed or damaged, and the workload in Al Shifa is so heavy that they still need outside support.

From 28 July to 10 August, MSF had three surgical teams working in Al Shifa hospital. There was a constant influx of wounded to the hospital during the ground offensive. The emergency room was overwhelmed, as were the operating theatres, with 30 to 40 seriously wounded patients arriving each day.

“Many patients had multiple shrapnel wounds caused by explosions, with chest, vascular and limb injuries,” says Kelly, an anaesthesiologist who spent almost four weeks in Gaza. “People in the vicinity of an explosion are burned by the heat, while the blast destroys their lungs and shrapnel penetrates their body. The shock wave can destroy the leg bones of a person who is standing, and both legs then need to be amputated – it’s terrible, but there’s no other solution. “

In seven weeks, MSF has sent 37 international staff to Gaza, including surgeons, doctors, nurses, administrators and project coordinators. Currently MSF has two surgeons, two anaesthetists and one intensive care nurse working in the hospital.

MSF also runs a clinic in Gaza City providing post-operative care to patients who have undergone surgery, who come to have their dressings changed and to attend rehabilitation sessions with a physiotherapist.

Activities in the post-operative care clinic over the past seven weeks have been dependent on the intensity of the attacks. At the height of the war, the clinic closed for 11 days, as it was impossible for patients either to reach the clinic on their own or to be fetched by MSF car. During this time, the team provided dressing kits for patients. When the clinic reopened, 20 to 40 percent of patients were able to come for their appointments. A number of patients, however, have still not been traced. Now the clinic is full. “It’s like a beehive,” says Dr. Abu Abed, MSF doctor. “As well as our former patients, we have been caring for new patients who were injured during the war. We saw more than 100 new patients between 1 July and 25 August. “

The medical aid MSF is providing in Gaza takes a number of different forms. As well as working in Al Shifa hospital and the post-operative care clinic, MSF has also ​​donated drugs and medical supplies to the central pharmacy in Gaza, to Al Shifa hospital, to Nasser hospital in Khan Younis and to Kamal Edwan hospital in Beit Lahiya. Perhaps most significant has been the successful collaboration between MSF teams and teams from the Palestinian Ministry of Health. With the blockade cutting off the entire population of Gaza from the outside world, in recent years Palestinian medical staff have been deprived of opportunities to share skills with international colleagues, to gain practical experience or to travel to medical conferences abroad. As a result, they have been appreciative of the chance to learn new surgical, anaesthetic and medical practices from MSF’s teams.

(Source / 27.08.2014)

Written by altahrir

August 27, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Posted in Zorg / Health

Tagged with ,

Rebuilding Gaza and the politics of subjugation

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By Ramona Wadi

Ramona WadiAs Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated the continuation of “Operation Protective Edge”, discussions about the rebuilding of Gaza resurface once more within a brief period since the collapse of the Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire, this time from UNICEF official Pernille Ironside.

With Israel surpassing all estimates in terms of inflicted damage, Ironside was reported by the New York Times to have stated that it would take at least “18 years to rebuild destroyed housing” if the settler-colonial state adheres to its imposed restrictions on the enclave.

While rebuilding Gaza is perceived as an unavoidable circumstance, scant attention is given to the dynamics that render such action an immediate concern that is repetitively side-lined as Israel embarks upon additional destruction. Rather than alleged revenge for the disappearance and deaths of the three Israeli settlers, or retaliation for the compromised unity government, “Protective Edge” is an exercise in colonial expansion. Hence, destruction remain a priority for Israel to be fortified in combination with the already existent blockade, as well as the imposition of further restrictions upon Gaza that ensure the permanent displacement of a considerable percentage of Gaza’s population.

Given the precedent of decades of forced displacement, 18 years as a timeframe for rebuilding may also turn out to be inadequate. The parameters through which rebuilding would commence are eliminated from the discussion, once again attempting to isolate Gaza and reconstruction from external impositions, hindering the process. Reconstruction, as with other initiatives regarding Gaza, departing from the ceasefire negotiations, will present itself as another form of control over the Palestinian population.

Egypt’s 11 clauses for a ceasefire, rejected in the past weeks by Hamas, would have rendered Gaza subservient to Israel and the international community under the guise of rebuilding. Apart from the fact that Egypt aided Israel in destroying Gaza’s tunnels, thus providing additional hardships for the population, the rejected plan allowed the Palestinian Authority, Israel and “international aid groups” sole authority in the reconstruction process.

In addition, the incessant process of settler-colonialism in Palestine ridicules the concept of time frames and estimates. Ironside reflects upon the fact that children aged seven in Gaza have now suffered the trauma of three “wars” – an inaccurate term that avoids the ramifications of Israel’s colonial violence. The incomplete process translates into the certainty of additional massacres and destruction to be perpetrated by Israel, thus ensuring that the rate of displacement and usurped territory is of a greater ratio than the remnants approved for rebuilding.

Within the current framework, rebuilding Gaza will become another lengthy process dictated by the ever-present links between humanitarian aid and human rights abuses. Discourse concerning the rebuilding of Gaza is a process of alienation, constructed in a manner that reproaches criticism about implementation as an affront to alleged international altruism. Beneath the veneer of aiding Palestinians, collective punishment in various distinct guises supersedes any attained benefits due to the international community’s constant displacement of Palestinian reality – namely the insistence on separating Israel’s colonial violence into sporadic bouts of aggression.

(Source / 26.08.2014)

Written by altahrir

August 26, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Posted in Ramona Wadi

Tagged with

Allahu akbar

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Ik zal het maar onmiddellijk zeggen: ik ben een terrorist, dan hoeft u nu niet meer verder te lezen, scheelt tijd en kunt u naar het volgende artikel.
Ik ben een moslim (dus een terrorist volgens aanhangers van de PVV), ik steun de Palestijnen in hun strijd (dus een terrorist volgens rechts Nederland, de Joodse lobby en de zionistische bezetter van Palestina) en ik sta achter het verzet van Hamas tegen de bezetting van Palestina (dus ik verheerlijk geweld volgens Sybrand van Haersma Buma).

Verheerlijking van geweld
Duidelijker kan ik het toch niet zeggen. Zou ik een Hamas vlag meedragen in een demonstratie? Ja, als ik hem zou hebben, ja. Zou ik de Palestijnse vlag meedragen in een demonstratie? Ja, en die heb ik en kan dus mee.
Maar verheerlijk ik nu geweld, zoals Van Haersma Buma de wereld doet geloven? Neen, meneer van Haersma Buma, sterker nog: ik ben tegen geweld. Maar ik vind het zo ‘vreemd’ dat u spreekt over aanhangers van de Islamitische Staat en dat ik u niet hoor als in Saoedi-Arabië mensen worden geëxecuteerd of wanneer de bezetter van Palestina meer dan 2100 mensen vermoord door middel van bombardementen op het Palestijnse volk.

Held versus terrorist
Als ik in de Tweede Wereldoorlog had geleefd, dan had men mij een verzetsheld genoemd. Als ik in Amerika had geleefd en uitgestuurd was naar Afghanistan, kreeg ik bij terugkomst een onderscheiding. Als ik nu in Oost-Oekraïne had gewoond, was mijn bijnaam een separatist of rebel. Echter aangezien ik een moslim ben, krijg ik onmiddellijk het etiket terrorist opgeplakt.
Jongeren die uitreizen naar Syrië, worden het moeilijk gemaakt want ze zijn een potentieel gevaar; daarentegen worden jongeren van Joodse afkomst geen strobreed in de weg gelegd om duizenden Palestijnen te (laten) vermoorden. Zelfs politici reizen af naar Israël om daar hand- en spandiensten te verrichten voor de zionistische bezettingsmacht.

In Nederland mag je als politicus roepen: “Willen jullie meer of minder Marokkanen?” om daarna het gehoor op te hitsen, zodat ze roepen: “Minder, minder, minder”. Volgens juristen zou dit tot aanzetten tot haatzaaien kunnen horen. Maar als je spreekt over het feit dat “Het Israëlische regime dezelfde methoden gebruikt heeft als de nazi-onderdrukkers deden, zoals collectieve bestraffing, raciaal gebaseerde wetgeving, gelegaliseerde massale folteringen en etnische zuiveringen inbegrepen” (, staan de Nederlandse politicolgen op de achterste poten. Zoiets zeg je niet, want dan ben je anti-semiet. Maar als je de foto’s  naast elkaar legt van datgene wat de Nazi’s hebben aangericht en wat de zionistische bezetter van Palestina in Gaza heeft aangericht, zie ik erg weinig verschil. Het artikel spreekt over het feit dat Gaza het nieuwe Warschau ghetto is, maar het zouden bijna foto’s kunnen zijn van Rotterdam na het bombardement van 14 mei 1940.

Fake of echt?
Een groot deel van Nederland hebben laten weten dat het onthoofding van een Amerikaanse journalist door een IS-strijder walgelijk is en terecht, ik vind het ook walgelijk, mits … datgene echt is geweest wat IS heeft laten zien op het filmpje. Er duiken momenteel net zo veel berichten op die zeggen dat het filmpje nep is (trucage) als berichten die zeggen dat het echt is. Maar als men al kijkt naar het filmpje, zou je het etiket mee kunnen krijgen van ‘verheerlijking van geweld’. Dat is pertinent niet waar, daar iedereen het recht heeft om aan vrije nieuwsgaring te doen. Tegenwoordig komt het nieuws vele malen sneller via de social media en daar moet je dus proberen een evenwicht in te vinden, wat waar is of niet. Maar dat bepaal ik altijd nog zelf, dat is  mijn vrijheid.

Eerlijk gezegd zal ik zo’n filmpje ook niet zo snel kijken, maar van de andere kant: waarom hoor ik niemand over de baby’s en kleine kinderen die worden gedood door zionistische bezettingstroepen in Palestina? Ik heb foto‘s gezien waarbij ik de ogen niet droog heb gehouden. Sterker nog, ik wordt steeds vaker pisnijdig dat niemand van onze gekozen politici zijn mond open doet en tegen de bezettingsmacht eens een keer zegt: “En nu is het genoeg en terug in je hok.”

Kapitale blunder
De westerse gemeenschap heeft een kapitale blunder gemaakt om de joden toe te staan een eigen land te vormen in het gebied waar de Palestijnen reeds woonden. En men kon er vanuit gaan dat het gebied voor de Joden te klein was en dat ze land zouden gaan jatten via bezetting, annexatie en illegale nederzettingen.
Het westen heeft na de oorlog bewust gekozen om de Joden te compenseren voor wat hun is aangedaan door de nazi’s in de Tweede Wereldoorlog door hen uit Europa weg te halen en een ‘eigen land’  te geven. Wat dus nu blijkt, is dit een kapitale blunder geweest daar dit uitgelopen is op oorlog, moorden, land illegaal innemen middels nederzettingen en ga zo maar door. En de kapitale blunder wordt door het westen in stand gehouden door achter de zionistische bezettingsmacht te blijven staan, met woorden als “Israel is een democratische staat en mag zich daarom verdedigen” (M. Rutte). Maar ook de meest grote pleitbezorger voor de Palestijnse zaak, de SP, heeft – nu ze overal het regeer pluche heeft geroken – het Palestijnse volk als een baksteen laten vallen.

KhamakarPress Persbureau

@ KhamakarPress


Written by altahrir

August 26, 2014 at 4:46 pm

Posted in Redactie

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By Peter Clifford                               ©             (


The United States has revealed that it attempted an operation earlier this summer to rescue James Foley and other hostages but although the US special forces fought their way into the designated location, no prisoners were found.

Two dozen soldiers from a mixed team from Delta Force and other specialist military agencies were dropped by helicopter on Syrian territory and engaged in fighting with members of the Islamic State, some of whom were killed.



James Foley Speaking About His Work in 2011

One soldier from the US team was injured and one of the aircraft that took them away afterwards was shot at. They were not sure if they the hostages had been moved hours before or days.

The location of the secret operation is variously given as “near an oil refinery” and the Ukayrishah district of Raqqah city, the Islamic State stronghold in Syria.

The Boston Global Post, who employed James Foley, have released, with the permission of his family, the text of an email they received a week before the American journalist was executed.

The email stated that it was “a message to the American government and their sheep like citizens”. It went on to say, “You were given many chances to negotiate the release of your people via cash transactions as other governments have accepted” or to exchange prisoners for “Muslims currently in your detention.”

“Now you return to bomb the Muslims of Iraq once again”, the email continued, “This time resorting to Arial attacks and ‘proxy armies’, all the while cowardly shying away from a face-to-face confrontation!”

The email ended with a statement that Foley “will be executed as a DIRECT result of your transgressions towards us!”

According to the Global Post, the Foley family “was not ‘given many chances to negotiate’ for Jim’s release”.

After hearing nothing for more than a year after Foley’s capture, they received a message on the 26th November 2013 asking for money – $132 million no less, or the release of unspecified prisoners held by the US. The FBI helped the Foleys craft a response calling for mercy in regard to their son but they heard nothing more.

President Obama commenting on the brutal killing of James Foley said, “No just god would stand for what they did yesterday and every single day …. ISIS has no place in the 21st century,” and called on America’s allies to help defeat a “cancer so it does not spread.” You can hear Obama’s full statement, HERE:

A spokesman for the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, called Foley’s murder “barbaric” and Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Minister, said it exposed ISIS as the “caliphate of barbarism”.

John Kerry, Obama’s Secretary of State for Defence was more blunt saying that “ISIS must be destroyed”, a view echoed by General John R. Allen, a senior military officer who has led US forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan.



Another Destroyed Islamic State Vehicle Near Mosul Dam

Allen said in an article, “IS must be destroyed and we must move quickly to pressure its entire “nervous system,” break it up, and destroy its pieces”.

General Allen’s “bottom line” is“The president deserves great credit in attacking IS. It was the gravest of decisions for him.

But a comprehensive American and international response now — NOW — is vital to the destruction of this threat.

The execution of James Foley is an act we should not forgive nor should we forget, it embodies and brings home to us all what this group represents.

The Islamic State is an entity beyond the pale of humanity and it must be eradicated. If we delay now, we will pay later”.

You can read the whole article, HERE:

In a press conference yesterday, Thursday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said the United States was “keeping its options open” and would not commit to attacking Islamic State bases in Syria.

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sitting beside Hagel said that while it is possible to “contain” the Islamic State in the short run, a broader international effort will be required to eventually defeat it.

“Can they be defeated without addressing that part of their organization which resides in Syria?”, he was asked.“The answer is no. That will have to be addressed on both sides of what is essentially at this point a nonexistent border. And that will come when we have a coalition in the region that takes on the task of defeating ISIS over time. ISIS will only truly be defeated when it’s rejected by the 20 million disenfranchised Sunni that happen to reside between Damascus and Baghdad.”

General Dempsey however is well known for being opposed to US direct action in Syria because of the threat to American airmen by Syria’s air defences. There are now suggestions that the West will have to have direct (“over or under the counter”) talks with President Assad. Al Jazeera has a video report, HERE:


In the UK there has been much speculation as to the identity of the masked Islamic State fighter speaking with a British accent in the Foley video. Voice analysts say he is either from London or the south-east of England.

MI5 and MI6, the British intelligence agencies, are trawling through their lists of suspects. A former French hostage in Syria, Didier François, who was held with Foley and others, plus other sources, have suggested that the British man in the video is known as “John”.



“John” the British Jihadist Murderer?

Apparently 3 British Jihadists were allocated by the Islamic State to look after foreign hostages and the were referred to as “The Beatles”, “John, Paul and Ringo”, a play perhaps on their British origins and the “beetle blackness” of their garb and manner.

Other analysts have suggested that as the actual killing of Foley is not shown in the video, it’s a compilation of various frames apparently, the Jihadist in the video is not the actual killer and the small knife he holds (scroll down – see earlier report) is not the one he uses.

(EDITOR: Either way it is difficult to understand why anyone with a shred of humanity can behave like or be involved in this in any way.)

The last word on the Islamic State’s murder of Foley goes to President Obama:

“People like this ultimately fail. They fail, because the future is won by those who build and not destroy and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley, and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.”

On the ground military action against the Islamic State continues, with 6 US airstrikes on Islamic State personnel and their vehicles in the region of the Mosul Dam, bringing to 90, the number of US airstrikes in Iraq in the last week, two-thirds of them near the Dam.

Al Jazeera has a good video report from the Dam earlier in the week, HERE:

Kurdish Peshmerga forces have since removed 250 explosive devices from the area near the Dam and are still combing the shoreline of the 40 mile lake along the route of the Tigris river. You can read more detail of the Mosul Dam operation, HERE:

Boosted by their success at the Dam, Kurdish and Iraqi forces, backed by the Iraqi Air Force, are advancing on 2 towns held by the Islamic State near the border with Iran and Kurdistan, Jalawla and Saadiya, both around 115 kilometres (70 miles) north-east of Baghdad.

Jalawla was taken by the Islamic State more than a week ago but the Kurdish Peshmerga are said to have now penetrated the eastern side with loss of life of both sides.

Grandmother in Amerli Defends against Islamic State


Grandmother in Amerli Defends against Islamic State

110 kilometres north of Badhdad is the Turkman majority town of Amerli, a settlement of 20,000 that has been fighting off the Islamic State for 70 days now.

No electricity, and running out of water and food, they are relying on irregular helicopter flights from the Iraqi Army to bring in supplies and fly out 30 or so people at a time when conditions allow.

All the towns and villages around have already fallen to the Islamic State, but Amerli by mobilising everyone, including grandmothers and children is desperately holding on.

Iraqi forces are trying to fight a way through to the town but it is by no means certain that they will make it in time. You can read more at the BBC’s Iraq news.

Latest reports emerging from Iraq this morning, Friday, say that Shia militia, perpetuating the sectarian violence that has torn Iraq apart since 2003, have opened fire inside a Sunni mosque in or near Baquba in Diyala province, killing between 30 and 73 at the latest count.

Fighter jets have are also being reported as hitting Islamic State targets in Salahaddin province. More details awaited.


Following on from the James Foley killing in Syria, the Islamic State are reported to have kidnapped 4 more hostages in Aleppo in the last week, taking the total number of Western hostages they hold to 20.

The last victims include 2 Italian women, a Dane and a Japanese man. All those held are believed to be journalists, photographers or aid workers and reports suggest they have all been transferred to Raqqah.

Apart from anything else, this has turned into a lucrative business for the Islamic State. In the last 6 months 10 hostages, including a Dane, 3 French nationals and 2 Spaniards, have been released after lengthy negotiations involving demands for ransom money. The US and the UK have however been resilient so far in not paying ransoms.

Lord Dannatt, Britain’s former military Chief of Staff, has suggested that Britain and the West may have to come to some arrangement with Syria’s President in order to deal effectively with the Islamic State, but the UK’s Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, has since said that working with Assad to fight Islamists “would poison what we are trying to achieve”.

“We may very well find that we are fighting, on some occasions, the same people that he is but that doesn’t make us his ally,” Hammond said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) yesterday, Thursday, published new figures claiming that the death toll in Syria was now more than 180,215, 58,805 (32.6%) of those being civilians, including 9,428 children and 6,036 women.

49,699 (27.6%) of the Assad armed Opposition have been killed, including the Islamic State and 66,365 (36.8%) from the pro regime forces – 40,438 from the military, and 25,927 members of a pro-regime militia.

561 members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement have been recorded killed and 1,854 from Shia and other non-Syrian militia. The total also included 2,931 unidentified people whose details could not be verified.



Navi Pillay Stands Down As UN Human Rights Commissioner

To more than confirm SOHR’s estimates, Navi Pillay, the UN’s outgoing Human Rights Commissioner today, Friday, said the UN records show 191,369 deaths in Syria since 2011, almost doubling their last published figure a year ago.

Pillay, a South African, wrapping up her 6 year stint as the UN’s Human Rights chief, lashed out at the UN Security Council saying it “lacked resolve in ending crises” and that the dwindling global interest in Syria was “scandalous”.

“It is scandalous that the predicament of the injured, displaced, the detained, and the relatives of all those who have been killed or are missing is no longer attracting much attention,” she said.

“I deeply regret that, given the onset of so many other armed conflicts in this period of global destabilisation, the fighting in Syria and its dreadful impact on millions of civilians has dropped off the international radar,”adding,“The killers, destroyers and torturers in Syria have been empowered and emboldened by the international paralysis.”

“There have been serious allegations that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed time and time again with total impunity” but the deadlocked UN Security Council had failed to refer the case of Syria to the International Criminal Court “where it clearly belongs,” Pillay said in her concluding remarks.

On the ground in Syria, the battle by the Islamic State (IS) for control of the Tabqa airbase in Raqqah province has continued, but with reports of very heavy casualties on both sides. Unconfirmed reports give deaths on the IS side anywhere between 30 and 150, while the Jihadists are claiming that they have killed 300 pro-Assad troops and militia.

IS also claims that they have killed the Tabqa base commander, Brigadier General Ali Sarhan. The Assad regime apparently flew in reinforcements to the base last night, but the Islamists also pounded it with dozens of Grad missiles. More information awaited in what is a very volatile situation.

In Hama province, Opposition fighters have repelled an an attack by members of Assad’s National Defence Force at Tel Sharaya, killing 15 of them, and north-east of Hama city, members of the Al-Nusra Front have taken over the village of Al-Rahjan.

In Damascus province, it is reported that there is heavy fighting once again at the Tameco Pharmaceutical factory in Mlieha, including the Opposition claimed death of Major General Adnan Omran, Assad’s Chief of Staff for Air Defence.

In Hasakah province clashes continue between the Islamic State (IS) and the Kurdish militia, the YPG, with reports that IS has driven the Kurds out of Jazaa in the north-east, killing a large number of Kurdish fighters, including some of their female ones according to gruesome photos published on the Internet.

Lest we forget, yesterday, August 21st was the 1 Year anniversary of the hideous Assad sarin gas attack on Opposition areas near Damascus, killing as many as 1400, including 400 children. As Human Rights Watch (HRW) points out, despite Assad’s “declared” chemical weapons stock being destroyed, the victims of his attacks have yet to receive justice, HERE:

Lastly, in a sign of hope for the persecuted Yezidi community and in stark contrast to their bloodthirsty killing by the Islamic State, a 27 year old Syrian Yezidi woman, having fled from the Islamic State Jihadists approaching her home in Iraq, has given birth last week to quintuplets by caesarian section at a hospital in Kurdish-controlled Qamishli – 2 boys and 3 girls.

Tamam, who hails from Qamishli, had married a Iraqi man last year and moved to be with him in Mosul. When the Islamic State fighters approached they first fled to safety in Sinjar and then fled again, spending 2 days walking to the Syrian border. The babies were born 2 months premature but they and the mother are all doing well and receiving practical support from the UNHCR.

Hoorah! Five New Born Yezidi Quintuplets

Hoorah! Five New Born Yezidi Quintuplets


Written by altahrir

August 22, 2014 at 9:34 pm

Posted in Peter Clifford

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The Historical Perspective of the 2014 Gaza Massacre

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protective edge

Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ against the occupied Gaza Strip.

People in Gaza and elsewhere in Palestine feel disappointed at the lack of any significant international reaction to the carnage and destruction the Israeli assault has so far left behind it in the Strip. The inability, or unwillingness, to act seems to be first and foremost an acceptance of the Israeli narrative and argumentation for the crisis in Gaza. Israel has developed a very clear narrative about the present carnage in Gaza.

It is a tragedy caused by an unprovoked Hamas missile attack on the Jewish State, to which Israel had to react in self-defence. While mainstream western media, academia and politicians may have reservations about the proportionality of the force used by Israel, they accept the gist of this argument. This Israeli narrative is totally rejected in the world of cyber activism and alternative media. There it seems the condemnation of the Israeli action as a war crime is widespread and consensual.

The main difference between the two analyses from above and from below is the willingness of activists to study deeper and in a more profound way the ideological and historical context of the present Israeli action in Gaza. This tendency should be enhanced even further and this piece is just a modest attempt to contribute towards this direction.

Ad Hoc Slaughter?

An historical evaluation and contextualization of the present Israeli assault on Gaza and that of the previous three ones since 2006 expose clearly the Israeli genocidal policy there. An incremental policy of massive killing that is less a product of a callous intention as it is the inevitable outcome of Israel’s overall strategy towards Palestine in general and the areas it occupied in 1967, in particular.

This context should be insisted upon, since the Israeli propaganda machine attempts again and again to narrate its policies as out of context and turns the pretext it found for every new wave of destruction into the main justification for another spree of indiscriminate slaughter in the killing fields of Palestine.

The Israeli strategy of branding its brutal policies as an ad hoc response to this or that Palestinian action is as old as the Zionist presence in Palestine itself. It was used repeatedly as a justification for implementing the Zionist vision of a future Palestine that has in it very few, if any, native Palestinians. The means for achieving this goal changed with the years, but the formula has remained the same: whatever the Zionist vision of a Jewish State might be, it can only materialize without any significant number of Palestinians in it. And nowadays the vision is of an Israel stretching over almost the whole of historic Palestine where millions of Palestinians still live.


Palestinian refugees, 1948.

This vision ran into trouble once territorial greed led Israel to try and keep the West Bank and the Gaza Strip within its rule and control ever since June 1967. Israel searched for a way to keep the territories it occupied that year without incorporating their population into its rights-bearing citizenry. All the while it participated in a ‘peace process’ charade to cover up or buy time for its unilateral colonization policies on the ground.

With the decades, Israel differentiated between areas it wished to control directly and those it would manage indirectly, with the aim in the long run of downsizing the Palestinian population to a minimum with, among other means, ethnic cleansing and economic and geographic strangulation. Thus the West Bank was in effect divided into a ‘Jewish’ and a ‘Palestinian’ zones – a reality most Israelis can live with provided the Palestinian Bantustans are content with their incarceration within these mega prisons. The geopolitical location of the West Bank creates the impression in Israel, at least, that it is possible to achieve this without anticipating a third uprising or too much international condemnation.

The Gaza Strip, due to its unique geopolitical location, did not lend itself that easily to such a strategy. Ever since 1994, and even more so when Ariel Sharon came to power as prime minister in the early 2000s, the strategy there was to ghettoize Gaza and somehow hope that the people there — 1.8 million as of today — would be dropped into eternal oblivion.

But the Ghetto proved to be rebellious and unwilling to live under conditions of strangulation, isolation, starvation and economic collapse. There was no way it would be annexed to Egypt, neither in 1948 nor in 2014. In 1948, Israel pushed into the Gaza area (before it became a strip) hundreds of thousands of refugees it expelled from the northern Naqab and southern coast who, so they hoped, would move even farther away from Palestine.

For a while after 1967, it wanted to keep as a township which provided unskilled labour but without any human and civil rights. When the occupied people resisted the continued oppression in two intifadas, the West Bank was bisected into small Bantustans encircled by Jewish colonies, but it did not work in the too small and too dense Gaza Strip. The Israelis were unable to ‘West Bank’ the Strip, so to speak. So they cordoned it as a Ghetto and when it resisted the army was allowed to use its most formidable and lethal weapons to crash it. The inevitable result of an accumulative reaction of this kind was genocidal.

Incremental Genocide 

The killing of three Israeli teenagers, two of them minors, abducted in the occupied West Bank in June, which was mainly a reprisal for killings of Palestinian children in May, provided the pretext first and foremost for destroying the delicate unity Hamas and Fatah have formed in that month. A unity that followed a decision by the Palestinian Authority to forsake the ‘peace process’ and appeal to international organizations to judge Israel according to a human and civil rights’ yardstick. Both developments were viewed as alarming in Israel.

The pretext determined the timing – but the viciousness of the assault was the outcome of Israel’s inability to formulate a clear policy towards the Strip it created in 1948. The only clear feature of that policy is the deep conviction that wiping out the Hamas from the Gaza Strip would domicile the Ghetto there.

Since 1994, even before the rise of Hamas to power in the Gaza Strip, the very particular geopolitical location of the Strip made it clear that any collective punitive action, such as the one inflicted now, could only be an operation of massive killings and destruction. In other words: an incremental genocide.


The Allenby Bridge, 1967.

This recognition never inhibited the generals who give the orders to bomb the people from the air, the sea and the ground. Downsizing the number of Palestinians all over historic Palestine is still the Zionist vision; an ideal that requires the dehumanisation of the Palestinians. In Gaza, this attitude and vision takes its most inhuman form.

The particular timing of this wave is determined, as in the past, by additional considerations. The domestic social unrest of 2011 is still simmering and for a while there was a public demand to cut military expenditures and move money from the inflated ‘defence’ budget to social services. The army branded this possibility as suicidal. There is nothing like a military operation to stifle any voices calling on the government to cut its military expenses.

Typical hallmarks of the previous stages in this incremental genocide reappear in this wave as well. As in the first operation against Gaza, ‘First Rains’ in 2006, and those which followed in 2009, ‘Cast Lead’, and 2012, ‘Pillar of Smoke’, one can witness again consensual Israeli Jewish support for the massacre of civilians in the Gaza Strip, without one significant voice of dissent. The Academia, as always, becomes part of the machinery. Various universities offered the state its student bodies to help and battle for the Israeli narrative in the cyberspace and alternative media.

The Israeli media, as well, toed loyally the government’s line, showing no pictures of the human catastrophe Israel has wreaked and informing its public that this time, ‘the world understands us and is behind us’. That statement is valid to a point as the political elites in the West continue to provide the old immunity to the Jewish state. The recent appeal by Western governments to the prosecutor in the international court of Justice in The Hague not to look into Israel’s crimes in Gaza is a case in point. Wide sections of the Western media followed suit and justified by and large Israel’s actions.

This distorted coverage is also fed by a sense among Western journalist that what happens in Gaza pales in comparison to the atrocities in Iraq and Syria. Comparisons like this are usually provided without a wider historical perspective. A longer view on the history of the Palestinians would be a much more appropriate way to evaluate their suffering vis-à-vis the carnage elsewhere.

Conclusion: Confronting Double-Standards

But not only historical view is needed for a better understanding of the massacre in Gaza. A dialectical approach that identifies the connection between Israel’s immunity and the horrific developments elsewhere is required as well. The dehumanization in Iraq and Syria is widespread and terrifying, as it is in Gaza. But there is one crucial difference between these cases and the Israeli brutality: the former are condemned as barbarous and inhuman worldwide, while those committed by Israel are still publicly licensed and approved by the president of the United States, the leaders of the EU and Israel’s other friends in the world.

Israel Gaza Dead Children 03

Gazan child, 2014.

The only chance for a successful struggle against Zionism in Palestine is the one based on a human and civil rights agenda that does not differentiate between one violation and the other and yet identifies clearly the victim and the victimizers. Those who commit atrocities in the Arab world against oppressed minorities and helpless communities, as well as the Israelis who commit these crimes against the Palestinian people, should all be judged by the same moral and ethical standards. They are all war criminals, though in the case of Palestine they have been at work longer than anyone else. It does not really matter what the religious identity is of the people who commit the atrocities or in the name of which religion they purport to speak. Whether they call themselves jihadists, Judaists or Zionists, they should be treated in the same way.

A world that would stop employing double standards in its dealings with Israel is a world that could be far more effective in its response to war crimes elsewhere in the world. Cessation of the incremental genocide in Gaza and the restitution of the basic human and civil rights of Palestinians wherever they are, including the right of return, is the only way to open a new vista for a productive international intervention in the Middle East as a whole.

(Source / 21.08.2014)

Written by altahrir

August 21, 2014 at 8:47 pm

Posted in History

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Water shortage adds to Gaza misery

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Displaced Palestinians wait to collect water at a U.N. school where their families are taking refuge during the war, in Gaza City. (Source: AP)

Displaced Palestinians wait to collect water at a U.N. school where their families are taking refuge during the war, in Gaza City.

Feriel al-Zaaneen hasn’t had a shower in more than a month. Like thousands of Palestinians, she does not have enough water to wash, adding to the miseries of life in war-battered Gaza.

In searing summer heat, where temperatures can reach 34 degrees Celsius, (93 Fahrenheit), Feriel is one of more than 218,000 refugees sheltering in 87 UN-run schools from a conflict that has killed at least 1,980 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side since July 8.

“There’s no water here and the toilets are very dirty, this is no kind of life,” she said.

Zaaneen, her children and grandchildren, some 50 people, fled the Israeli bombardment of their homes.


She says she faces a daily struggle to get water, a precious resource in the Hamas-controlled enclave which has been under Israeli blockade since 2006.

The UN says that 365,000 Palestinians are still displaced in Gaza, like 37-year-old Faten al-Masri, who has to wash her children with bottles of drinking water.

As she sprinkles cold water on her two-year-old daughter, the toddler screams, her skin covered in angry red blotches.

“All my children got sick here because of the dirt and the lack of hygiene, they’ve all got skin infections and scabs,” Faten said.


“There is no water in the bathrooms, and they were so dirty that we couldn’t even go inside,” she said.

“I have been bathing my sons every three days here in the classroom with bottles of water.”

She herself has not taken a shower since arriving at the school two weeks ago.

“Some people use water bottles inside the class, but I can’t bring myself to do it. It would feel like I was taking a shower in the street if I did that. Anyone could open the door and come in, there’s no privacy,” she said.

“I feel really bad. Not being able to shower makes me feel restricted and anxious,” she said.

Muntaha al-Kafarna, a mother of nine who has been living in a small tent she set up in the courtyard of the same school, near the toilets, managed to shower at a nearby hospital in the northern Gaza Strip.

“The water was cold, and there wasn’t very much of it, but I didn’t have any other solution,” she said.

Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesman for the health ministry in Gaza, says skin diseases, rashes and itchiness have been reported in shelters housing refugees.

Among the children, there have been “many cases of chronic diarrhoea” and “several cases of meningitis reported”, he added.

Adnan Abu Hasna, a spokesman for the UN Relief and Work agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), says there are water shortages not only in shelters for the displaced but across the entire enclave.

(Source / 18.08.2014)

Written by altahrir

August 18, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Posted in Zorg / Health

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