Syria forces totally liberate vital airbase in Idlib says Army

Syria says it has totally liberated the strategic military airbase of Abu al-Duhur in the northwestern province of Idlib, wresting full control over the key airbase after flushing out militants from the area.

“After a string of special operations, units from our armed forces in coordination with allied fighters succeeded in their military operation and took control of the Abu Duhur military airport in Idlib province,” read a statement released by the Syrian Army on Sunday.

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The important airbase was seized by militant outfits on September 2015, some three years after foreign-backed militants laid siege to it.

“Engineering units are now dismantling and clearing mines, explosives, and bombs planted by terrorists in the area,” the statement further said.

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As they further press ahead with their offensive in multiple fronts against militant groups, Syrian ground forces, backed by aerial cover from the air force, also managed to recapture several villages following heavy clashes with the terrorists of al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri group, previously known as al-Nusra Front.

Russian military on Sunday also confirmed that Syria’s government troops were at the time in full control of the airport.

The photo, taken on January 21, 2018, shows planes at the Abu al-Duhur military airport area in Syria’s Idlib province. (Photo by AFP)

 

To further complicate the already convoluted situation in the Arab country, Turkey launched the so-called Operation Olive Branch in the northern Syrian city of Afrin on Saturday in a bid to eliminate the US-backed Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The latter has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

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Shortly after commencement of the Turkish military intervention, Damascus “strongly condemns the brutal Turkish aggression on Afrin, which is an inseparable part of Syrian territory.”

The Syrian government also said that Ankara did not obtain any official authorization from Damascus regarding the ongoing offensive.

“Syria completely denies claims by the Turkish regime that it was informed of this military operation,” it added.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

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Ohio teenager Joseph Haynes killed by police in court!

A teenage boy has been shot and killed by police after a juvenile hearing at an Ohio court during an altercation, local officials said.

Joseph Haynes, 16, was appearing for a hearing about a firearms charge against him at the Franklin County court in Columbus on Wednesday when a deputy sheriff struck him with a bullet in a hallway.

The teenager was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“At some point as the hearing was concluding there was an altercation that ensued involving the deputy and some of the family members,” Franklin County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Rick Minerd told reporters.

Jennifer Brisco, Haynes’ lawyer, said the scuffles broke out when the officer threatened to arrest her client.

“Joseph was a little out of sorts because of how things went at the hearing,” Brisco told The Columbus Dispatch, a local newspaper.

“The officer threatened to lock him up and a scuffle broke out,” she added. “Joseph was resisting, and that’s when there was a scuffle.”

READ MORE

Kameron Prescott: Anger as police kill Texas child

The deputy, who has not been identified for security reasons, suffered a black eye, bruises and abrasions after he was knocked to the ground, Minerd said.

The boy’s grandmother acknowledged that her grandson grabbed the deputy’s shoulder, but told the newspaper that the deputy should have used a taser instead of a gun.

“There was no reason why that cop would have been terrified of Joey,” Geraldine Hayes said.

Meanwhile, Keith Ferrell, executive vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police lodge that represents Franklin County deputies, defended the officer, saying “he had no choice.”

“This was a fight for (the deputy’s) life at some point,” Ferrell told reporters on Thursday.

Police shootings

The incident is the latest in a series of deaths at the hands of police officers in the US.

A total of 987 people have been shot and killed by US police in 2017, according to the Washington Post’s Fatal Force database.

Victims of police brutality are often children.

In May, police officers in a Dallas suburb shot and killed Jordan Edwards, a 15-year-old black American, for “aggressively reversing” towards them. Video footage later contradicted the officials’ claims.

Gun violence and fatal police encounters have led to widespread protests in recent years.

According to the Guardian newspaper’s The Counted database, at least 1,092 people were killed by police in the US in 2016.

In a high-profile case in 2016, the aftermath of the shooting of black motorist Philando Castile by a Minnesota officer was streamed live on Facebook.

The killing of another black man, Alton Sterling, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana by white police led to a wave of protests across the country.

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS

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USA nowhere near the democracy it claims to be….

The US political system is not a real democracy because it allows the minority group to take over and rule, says an American analyst, citing the current power clash in Congress over a government shutdown as an example.

“We have a very odd form of government in the US,” Gordon Duff, an Ohio-based senior editor of Veterans Today, told Press TV on Sunday. “We were set up to look like a democracy but it is not a democracy.”

He made the remarks while discussing President Donald trump’s call on the Republican members of Congress to resort to the so-called nuclear option in order to end the ongoing chaos over government shutdown.

In yet another controversial tweet on Sunday, Trump accused Democrats of sacrificing military and border security in exchange for concessions on immigration laws and commended Republicans for hitting back.

The nuclear option, which requires the Senate majority leader to change the parliamentary rules, means Republicans would no longer need 60 votes to pass legislation and can do so with a simple majority.

Noting that Trump’s 2016 election was “impossible” given his loss of the popular vote, Duff said it was the Electoral College that elected the US president and not the American voters.

US President Donald Trump thinks Republicans should bend Congress rules and end the ongoing shutdown by reducing the voting threshold required to pass next year’s budget.

 

It was the same story with the US Congress, where according to the analyst Republicans were in control despite having just 37 percent of the vote.

“They do that because Congress… makes incredible rules that allow it to violate any law,” he argued. “You cannot sue or arrest people in Congress.”

He predicted that Democrats would strip Republicans of their majority in the upcoming midterm elections and use the opportunity to “cover up the crimes of Congress,” something he said the legislative body has done “in better than a decade.”

“So, America is not a democracy by any means,” he said, adding that Trump’s actions were making clear the fact that the Republican Party “is nothing but the Israel lobby and organized crime.”

Body Cameras Hidden Costs

Despite having a 51-49 majority in the Senate, Republicans have had a hard time delivering on Trump’s campaign promises due to resistance from Democrats and a deep-running division within the party over whether they should distance themselves from the businessman-turned-president.

The GOP’s failure to line up behind Trump and his budget bill, which asks for a dramatic increase in military funding and border security, coupled with strong demands from Democrats for protecting immigrants, led to the government’s shutdown on Friday.

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Iran calls for immediate cessation of Turkey’s operations in Syria

(this could be tricky?)

Iran says it is closely monitoring Turkish military assault on Syria’s northwestern region of Afrin, calling for the swift cessation of the operation in the Arab country.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Sunday the Islamic Republic hoped the operation in Afrin would end immediately to prevent the escalation of crisis in Turkey-Syria border areas.

“The continuation of the crisis in Afrin may lead to restrengthening of Takfiri-terrorist groups in Syria’s northern areas and once again fan the flames of war and destruction in this country,” he added.

Turkey launched a new air and ground operation, called “Operation Olive Branch,” around the area of Afrin on Friday to oust the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terror organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Sunday condemned Turkey’s military operation in Afrin, stating that the offensive was part of Ankara’s support for Takfiri terrorist groups operating inside the conflict-plagued Arab country.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad slams Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militants in Afrin, says it is part of Ankara’s support for terrorist groups.

“The brutal Turkish aggression on the Syrian town of Afrin cannot be separated from the Turkish regime’s policy from the first day of Syria’s crisis, which was essentially built on supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations, whatever their names,” Assad said in statements carried by Syria’s official news agency SANA.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson further stressed the importance of preserving Syria’s territorial integrity, respecting its national sovereignty and preventing any measure, which would intensify humanitarian crisis in the country.

Iran expects all countries, particularly Turkey, to pursue the settlement of the Syrian crisis through political approaches and continue to play a constructive role and fulfill their responsibilities in this regard, Qassemi said.

He emphasized that the crisis in Syria is rooted in the illegal meddlesome approaches of extra-regional powers and the Israeli regime.

Qassemi said Syria’s humanitarian crisis would go on as long as the US and its allies continued their illegal presence in the Arab country contrary to the will of its legitimate government.

In a statement on Saturday, the Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concern about the Turkish military operation in Syria’s Kurdish-controlled Afrin, calling on the sides to exercise restraint.

Russia says it is sticking to its position on solving the Syrian crisis based on safeguarding the country’s territorial integrity and respecting its sovereignty.

“Moscow is concerned at this news. We call on the opposing parties to show restraint,” it said.

Russian jets have been conducting air raids against Daesh and other terror outfits inside Syria at the Damascus government’s request since September 2015.

The airstrikes have helped Syrian forces advance against anti-Damascus militants, who have been wreaking havoc in the Arab country since 2011.

Turkey, Iran and Russia are the guarantors of a countrywide ceasefire in Syria. The three have been mediating a peace process since January 2016 among Syria’s warring sides in Astana, Kazakhstan.

As part of the Astana format, four de-escalation zones have been established across Syria amid ongoing political efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

The zones have helped reduce fighting significantly, while giving Turkey a breath to beef up security along its southern borders.

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Ground phase of Turkish attack on Afrin will start on Sunday (21 Jan) – PM

Following an intense shelling and bombing attack on Kurdish positions in Afrin Saturday, Turkey’s PM announced the ground phase of operation ‘Olive Branch’ will kick into gear Sunday.

“From tomorrow [Sunday], depending on developments, our ground units will perform the necessary activities [as part of the Operation Olive Branch],”Binali Yildirim told reporters. He claimed the first phase of the aerial campaign destroyed “nearly all” of the targets.

READ MORE: Turkish planes bomb Syrian Kurdish targets as Ankara-backed rebels enter Afrin (VIDEOS)

Several military trucks carrying tanks and other armored vehicles were already sighted at the border post of Oncupinar, ready to cross into the Turkish-controlled Syrian town of Azaz, footage provided by the Dogan news outlet showed.

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‘US managed to betray both Turks and Kurds’

There is nothing to be gained from carrying out the bidding of the US in Syria, and right now Turkey and the Kurds alike are learning this the hard way, independent political analyst Dan Glazebrook told RT.
The situation is clear, how treacherous the ‘western allies’ are now.

Ankara maintains that UN Security Council Resolutions 1624, 2170, and 2178 allow it to conduct operations against terrorists in Syria while preserving the territorial integrity of its neighbor.

RT discussed Turkey’s move and what provoked it with several analysts.

Dan Glazebrook, independent political analyst, said it is difficult to tell how the situation will evolve further in the Syria’s Afrin region, “but so far, Erdogan has been true to his words.”

“I have to admit, I initially suspected perhaps there would be some cross-border shelling, but they would not go as far as airstrikes or a ground invasion. And I was proved wrong,” Glazebrook told RT.

“It does look like Erdogan is determined to go all the way.  And it really does highlight the dangers of the Anglo-American strategy in Syria for the last seven years, which has been to basically turn Syria into a complete free-for-all: all the states in the region to sponsor their own proxy militias and get involved and carry out airstrikes – Israel, Turkey, the US, anyone else. It is a really dangerous situation,” he said.

Last week, the US announced its plans to create a new armed force with the Kurds close to the Turkish border. After Turkey reacted with outrage to US plans, the Pentagon said it was not creating “a new ‘army’ or conventional ‘border guard’ force.”

Glazebrook noted it is amazing that the US in the past week has managed to “completely betray both its rival allies in this conflict.”

“First, betrayal of Turkey – announcing this Border Security Force, made up primarily of Kurds, without any consultation with Turkey. And then, as soon as Turkey makes an issue of it, immediately drop the Kurds altogether, saying ‘we have nothing to do with them’ and basically give Turkey a free hand to slaughter them. Betrayals left, right and center,” he added.

“I hope that the rest of the world really is paying attention that there is absolutely nothing to be gained from offering yourself up to carry out the bidding of empire, as Turkey is learning a very hard way right now and so are the Kurds, actually,” Glazebrook pointed out.

‘Crisis between two traditional NATO allies US and Turkey’

Ali Rizk, expert on Middle Eastern affairs and contributor to Al-Monitor, told RT the Turkish offensive against the Syrian Kurds “is a very significant development, and where it might lead is unknown.”

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© Goran Tomasevic

Rizk said that this undoubtedly means a crisis between two traditional NATO allies, the US and Turkey.

“It is a problem for Turkey, but it is also a major dilemma for the US: it is very likely that they were not expecting Turkey to follow through on these threats,” Rizk explained.

Ever since the American remarks about a “border army” in Syria, Turkey has been threatening to take action. Rizk said he doesn’t think that these words were taken very seriously by Washington.

“At the same time, it is also something that the Syrian government would object to – the Syrian government considers this to be a violation of its sovereignty,” he continued.

According to Rizk, “the reactions could come from everywhere: we have the US-Turkish dispute, as a result of what is happening, at the same time you have a dispute between the Syrian government and Turkey because the Syrian government has expressed its categorical rejection for any such steps. This could lead even to a confrontation between Syria and Turkey. There are a lot of possible scenarios which do lead to escalation, and now that it’s begun I think it might be very difficult to seize control of the situation.”

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‘Executed’ North Koreans come back to life

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is famous in Western media for executing people that fall out of his favor – though some seem to have found the knack of returning from the dead.

Reports regularly surface on Kim’s latest means of execution, ranging from the relatively mundane firing squad to the theatrical, or even cartoonish – such as feeding foes to packs of starving dogs or roasting them with flame-throwers.

The pop star and ‘former lover’

North Korean pop star Hyon Song-wol was spotted alive and well on TV in 2014, despite reportedly being executed by firing squad in a purge of singers, musicians and dancers, a year before.

The performer was allegedly killed along with 11 other people, including members of her group, the Moranbong Band, the head of Unhasu Orchestra, and several dancers from the Wangjaesan Light Music Band.

The 12 victims had allegedly been accused of, among other offenses, recording themselves having sex and selling the footage. Hyon Song-wol, with whom Kim was reportedly romantically entwined, most recently publicly resurfaced on Saturday to inspect Olympic venues in South Korea ahead of the Winter Games.

The military chief

Back in 2016, N. Korean army chief Ri Yong Gil was reportedly executed for “factionalism, misuse of authority, and corruption.” As with a lot of information emanating from the isolated country, this turned out to false.

South Korean intelligence officials seemed to take his removal as head of the army as confirmation of his execution. The only problem was that a couple of months later Ri Yong Gil apparently returned from the dead, with an array of new senior-level positions, when he attended the Workers’ Party Congress in May that year.

The uncle ‘executed by a pack of dogs’

Apparently Kim really has it in for his older relatives, if Western media reports are to believed. So much so, it seems, that Kim was willing to execute his own uncle, by setting a pack of 120 starving dogs on him as part of yet another purge back in 2014.

Though it appears that Jang Song Thaek was indeed executed, the ‘ripped apart by dogs’ story was a complete fabrication that first raised its head on a satirical Chinese microblogging website.

READ MORE: NK leader’s uncle executed by dogs story came from Chinese satire piece

The aunt ‘poisoned on request’

Further to ‘feeding his uncle to dogs’, as mentioned above, he reportedly then turned his murderous gaze towards his aunt, Kim Kyong-hui.

Kyong-hui, Kim’s father’s sister and the wife of uncle Jang Song Thaek, was reportedly executed by poisoning on the leader’s orders.

However, once again these reports turned out to be false. South Korean news agency Yonhap reported last year that she is very much alive, although she is being treated for illnesses ranging from depression to cancer.

RT

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