SYRIA: ‘ Franciscan Priest and 20 Christians Kidnapped by Al-Qaeda Near Turkish Border ‘

#AceNewsServices – SYRIA – October 08 – A Franciscan priest and 20 other Christians have been kidnapped by Al-Qaeda-linked militants in a Syrian village near the border with Turkey, the Franciscan mission to the Holy Land said Tuesday.

The Custody of the Holy Land said it was not able to say where Fr Hanna and his parishioners were now

The Custody of the Holy Land said it was not able to say where Fr Hanna and his parishioners were now

“On the night of Oct. 5, Father Hanna Jallouf of the Custody of the Holy Land, parish priest at Qunyeh, Syria, was taken by some brigades linked to the Nusra Front,” AFP quoted a statement from the Custody of the Holy Land as saying.

Following their capture, an unspecified number of Franciscan nuns had taken refuge with the villagers, the statement said.

Catholic news agency Fides, quoting Bishop Georges Abou Khazen, the Apostolic Vicar of Aleppo in Syria, said around 20 Christians were taken along with the priest, Reuters reported. 

“Among the kidnapped are young people, both boys and girls,” he was quoted as saying.

Qunyeh is a village of several 100 people in the Syrian province of Idlib and lies some 8 kilometers from the Turkish border.

Franciscan official Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custody of the Holy Land, confirmed the kidnapping of the 62-year-old priest and 20 villagers to AFP.

“They are accusing them of being collaborators” with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Pizzaballa told AFP in Jerusalem, expressing deep concern over the fate of the priest, a Syrian who has worked in Qunyeh for 12 years after a posting in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

“We don’t know what to do.

We don’t know with whom to talk, we’re totally unable to get in touch with anyone,” added Pizzaballa, the guardian of the Catholic Church’s sites in the Holy Land.

AFP quoted a source linked to the Franciscan Order in Aleppo as saying that Nusra Front rebels had forced their way into the convent and “looted everything.”

The source said Nusra Front rebels were “angry with Father Hanna because he refused to give them some of the olives harvested from trees on the convent’s land.”

Source:

#ANS2014

#syrian, #al-nursa-front, #al-qaeda, #president-bashar-al-assad, #syria

‘ ISIS Threatens Vladimir Putin in Video ‘

#AceNewsServices (Opinion) – September 21 – Russia, which has criticized U.S. plans to launch strikes against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria, could soon become a victim of the militant group, whose members include extremists from Chechnya.

Courtesy of DAHBOO77

The Soufan Group, a New York-based intelligence firm, estimated in June that some 200 Chechen fighters were involved in the Syrian conflict.

Earlier this month, ISIS jihadists released a video threatening Russia shortly after they captured an air base in Raqqa, eastern Syria, and seized Russian-made fighter jets. 

In the video, a militant said: “This message is addressed to you, oh Vladimir Putin. These are your aircraft which you sent to [Syrian President] Bashar [al-Assad], and with the help of Allah we’ll send them back to you. Remember this. And with the permission of Allah, we’ll liberate Chechnya and all the Caucasus.”

Marvin Kalb, a senior adviser to the Washington-based Pulitzer Center, told Al Arabiya News: “Putin worries constantly about local insurgents getting field training in Syria, or now in ISIS, and then returning to Russia to implement their new skills.

“Putin doesn’t want them back in Russia, and this is a chronic nightmare for him.”

Alex Melikishvili, a senior analyst at U.S.-based research giant IHS, said it is “entirely conceivable” that returning ISIS fighters would wage war against Russia, just as Chechen insurgents have done over the last two decades.

The longer it takes to destroy ISIS, the higher the likelihood that some of its battle-hardened militants will make their way  to the North Caucasus,” Melikishvili told Al Arabiya News.

Read More: Source:

#ANS2014

#russia, #syrian, #allah, #caucasus, #chechen, #president-bashar-al-assad, #raqqa, #russian, #russian-president-vladimir-putin

` Syrian One-Sided Presidential Election Starts Amid Cries from Critics of it Being a Sham ‘

#AceWorldNews – DAMASCUS (SANA)- Presidential candidate Dr. Bashar al-Assad cast a vote Tuesday morning at Martyr Ma’asarani School polling centre in Damascus.

(BBC) – President Bashar al-Assad is widely expected to win a third seven-year term in office.

As Syria’s presidential election candidates started their campaign in the country, critics of the Syrian government have denounced the election as a sham.

The event comes after Supreme Constitutional Court issued the final list of candidates on May 10.

Maher Abdul-Hafiz Hajjar, lawmaker from Aleppo, Hassan Abdullah al-Nouri, lawmaker from Damascus, and Bashar Hafez al-Assad, incumbent president, are three candidates for June’s presidential election.


(Posters of candidates and their slogans are also visible all around the capital, Damascus)

(PressTV) – Under the Syrian law, each candidate needs to secure the support of 35 lawmakers in the 254-member parliament as each MP is allowed to back one candidate.

The vote must take place between 60 and 90 days before President Assad’s seven-year term comes to an end on July 17.

Damascus has insisted that it would hold the vote despite the foreign-backed militancy that has plagued the Arab country for more than three years.

Last month, Syria dismissed Western and opposition accusations regarding the presidential election, saying that it is planning to hold a free and transparent vote.

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since March 2011.

Over 150,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced due to the violence fuelled by the foreign-backed militants.

Press TV – Reuters – SANA – BBC News

#ANS2014

#aleppo, #damascus, #president-bashar-al-assad

` Thirty Syrian Government Fighters Were Killed When Rebels Set-Off a Bomb Beneath a Check-Point ‘

#AceNewsServices – SYRIA – May 07 – (Reuters) – About 30 Syrian government fighters were killed when rebels set off a bomb in a tunnel beneath a checkpoint in a north-western province, activists said on Tuesday.

Videos and images posted by opposition supporters online showed a massive plume of smoke and earth shooting into the air near a small town as men shouted “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest).

Rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad regularly carry out guerrilla attacks against his forces, but the size of the blast, which occurred on Monday, was unusual.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said the blast took place outside the town of Ma’arat al-Nu’man in the north-western Idlib province.

At least two officers were among those killed when insurgents from the Islamic Front and the Shields of the Revolution Council set off tons of explosives in a tunnel running from the road to the checkpoint, the group said.

More than 150,000 people have been killed in the three-year-old rebellion, which started as a peaceful protest movement and turned into a civil war after a government crackdown.

International powers have been deadlocked over how to resolve the conflict, further complicated by infighting between rebel groups that has killed thousands of fighters this year.

On Monday about 70 rebels were killed in clashes between a former Al-Qaeda affiliate, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) , and Al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch, the al-Nusra Front, and its allies in an eastern province bordering Iraq, the Observatory said.

Reuters – Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) –

#ANS2014

#al-nursa-front, #al-qaeda, #islamic-state-of-iraq-and-the-levantisil, #president-bashar-al-assad, #syria

` Saudi’s Intelligence Chief Steps Down and will be replaced by Gen Youssef al-Idrissi ‘

#AceWorldNews – SAUDI ARABIA – April 16 – Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, has been removed from his post “at his own request”, state media report.

Prince Bandar, King Abdullah’s nephew and a former ambassador to the US, recently returned to Riyadh after two months abroad for medical treatment.

The 65 year old has been replaced by his deputy, Gen Youssef al-Idrissi.

His departure comes months after he was quoted warning of a “major shift” from the US over its Middle East policy.

Largely in protest over Washington’s reluctance to get involved militarily in Syria, he reportedly told European diplomats in October that Saudi Arabia would be scaling back its co-operation with the CIA over arming and training rebel groups seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad (BBC).

#ANS2014

#cia, #european, #middle-east, #president-bashar-al-assad, #riyadh, #saudi-arabia, #syria, #us

` Syrian Fighters Reported to have Launched an Offensive against `Opposition Strongholds ‘ in Damascus ‘

#AceWorldNews – DAMASCUS – April 13 – Syrian jet fighters are reported to have launched a fierce offensive against a string of opposition strongholds, including Kafr Zita, a village north of Damascus that was recently hit by an alleged poisonous gas attack.

Other towns on the edges of the capital, including Eastern Ghouta area, were also hit by the bombardment, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday.

“Warplanes carried out two air strikes against areas of Douma” north-east of Damascus, the UK-based monitoring group said, adding that “at least five people including one child were killed and several others injured”.

One of the strikes on Douma, an opposition stronghold since early in the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, hit a crowded marketplace, according to the Syrian Revolution General Commission, a network of activists on the ground.

#ANS2014

#syrian, #damascus, #douma, #east-ghouta, #president-bashar-al-assad, #syrian-observatory-for-human-rights

` Mortar Attack on a `Damascus Opera House ‘ by Rebels has Killed Two and injured Five ‘

#AceWorldNews – DAMASCUS – APRIL 06 – (ALJ) – A mortar attack on the Damascus Opera House has killed two people, as regime forces intensify their campaign against rebels on the Syrian capital’s outskirts.

“Two people were killed and five others wounded by a mortar round that hit the Damascus Opera House” near key government and military buildings on Umayyad Square, the official SANA news agency said on Sunday.

The Opera House, officially called the Assad House for Culture and Arts, is located near a cluster of government and security buildings. The building, which was inaugurated by President Bashar al-Assad in 2004, was the venue for a defiant speech he made last year vowing to continue fighting rebels seeking his overthrow.

Rebels holed up in the city’s rural periphery have focused their efforts on hitting the area, an activist who uses the name Muaz al-Shami told the Associated Press news agency.

Syrian rebels often fire mortar shells into Damascus from outlying communities, but the fire has recently intensified as pro-Assad forces advance on the rural Ghouta suburb to the capital’s east, a long-held opposition area, Shami told AP in a Skype interview from the area.

AP – Al Jazeera – Reuters – SANA

#ANS2014

#syrian, #damascus, #president-bashar-al-assad

` Syria’s Bloody Conflict has Killed More Than ` 150,000 Men, Women and Children ‘ Since 2011 ‘

#AceWorldNews – SYRIA – April 01 – More than 150,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a new toll released on Tuesday.

It had documented the deaths of 150,344 people, 51,212 of them civilians, including nearly 7,985 children, AFP reported.

The monitoring group said 37,781 members of the armed opposition had been killed in the fighting, including Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

The Observatory added that 364 members of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollha movement were killed (ALN News)

The conflict started in 2011 when President Bashar al-Assad cracked down on peaceful anti-government protester’s.

#ANS2014

#al-nusra-front, #al-qaeda, #hezbollah, #human-rights, #islamic-state-of-iraq, #jihadists, #president-bashar-al-assad, #syria, #syrian-observatory-for-human-rights

Activists have said Islamists have Blown up the Revered ` Shiite Shrine ‘ in Eastern Syria ‘

#AceWorldNews – BEIRUT – March 26 – Activists said the Islamist fighter of Al-Qaeda splinter group blew up a major Shiite shrine in the city of Raqqa eastern Syria on Wednesday – Reuters.

The mosque was Ammar Ibn Yasser Al-Qami Uys and at one time a popular destination for Pilgrim’s from Iran , Lebanon and Iraq, before that it was controlled by opponents fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

The attacks have raised fears of those groups in neighbouring Turkey will be the next target.

Ace News Services

#ANS2014

#ace-news-services, #activists, #al-qaeda, #beirut, #iran, #iraq, #islamist, #lebanon, #president-bashar-al-assad, #raqqa, #reuters, #shiite, #syria, #turkey

#Geneva2 :” Peace Talks End without Any Hope of Progress – Date of Next Round Undecided ”

The UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi has apologised to the Syrian people after peace talks in Geneva ended without making progress.

He had held final discussions with both sides in Geneva in a last-ditch bid to break the stalemate between the Syrian government and opposition.

He said the main sticking point was the government, which refused again to talk about a transitional governing body.

The conflict in Syria has claimed more than 100,000 lives since March 2011.

The discussions on Saturday morning lasted just 27 minutes, after which Mr Brahimi emerged looking tired to address reporters, the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes reports from Geneva.

Mr Brahimi apologised to the Syrian people, admitting that the talks “had not come out with very much”.

Although the two sides had agreed on an agenda for the next round, Mr Brahimi said the government had rejected his suggestion to begin a third round by spending a day focusing on combating violence and terrorism, and a second day discussing a transitional government.

The opposition has long insisted on a transitional government that does not include President Bashar al-Assad or any of his loyalists.

The government has always rejected this and said there is no question of Mr Assad leaving power.

Mr Brahimi said both sides needed “to go back to their base” for consultations and to think about whether they wanted the process to continue or not.

#aceworldnews, #assad, #bbc, #geneva, #lakhdar-brahimi, #president-bashar-al-assad, #syrian-people

#Syria : “Bashar Al Assad’ says `Significant Chance’ he Will Stand in Next Election”

#AceNewsServices says Assad: Significant chance I will stand for next elections

Published time: January 20, 2014 09:48
Edited time: January 20, 2014 12:21
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (Reuters / SANA)

Syria‘s President Bashar al-Assad (Reuters / SANA)

President Bashar Assad said in an exclusive interview to AFP that he has decided to participate in Syria’s future presidential elections. He also stressed that the War on Terror should be the major focus of the #Geneva2peaceconference.

With the Geneva 2 peace talks starting on Wednesday, January 22, Assad set the record straight on what he and his government expect from the negotiations with the Syrian opposition in Switzerland.

“I see no reason why I should not stand [for elections],” said Assad, hosting foreign journalists at the presidential palace in Damascus.

Since “there is public desire and a public opinion in favor of my candidacy, I will not hesitate for a second to run for election,” he told AFP, adding that chances for his candidacy are “significant.”

After two days of heated debate, the Syrian National Coalition of opposition forces has voted in favor of going to Switzerland for peace talks scheduled for January 22.

But even moderate Western-backed political opposition group the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SNC), continues to insist that future transitional government should be “free of Assad and his inner circle,” as the head of the opposition group’s media office, Khalid Saleh, put it.

Assad dismissed this stance, saying the objective to oust him was imposed on the moderate opposition by Western sponsors.

Speaking about the second major demand, that the position of PM in the future transitional government should be allocated to one of the key opposition leaders, Assad labeled these propositions as “totally unrealistic,” but “a good joke.”

“How could they be ministers in the government?” asked the Syrian president, if all they are capable of is coming to the Syrian border “for a 30-minute photo opportunity,” after which they prefer to flee.

Assad has no illusions about the conflict in Syria continuing, but he acknowledged that government troops are making a positive progress in the conflict, which has raged since March 2011.

“What we can say is that we are making progress and moving forward. This doesn’t mean that victory is near at hand; these kinds of battles are complicated, difficult and they need a lot of time,” said Assad, warning that if Damascus is going to lose the battle, that would mean the “spread of chaos throughout the Middle East.”

Assad particularly stressed that “The Geneva conference should produce clear results with regard to the fight against terrorism in Syria.”

“This is the most important decision or result that the Geneva conference could produce. Any political solution that is reached without fighting terrorism has no value,” he said.

President Assad also ashed out at France, accusing Paris of selling principles in return for petro-dollars from the Persian Gulf monarchies.

“France has become a proxy state implementing Qatari policies. This is also what we see happening now between France and Saudi Arabia,” he said, accusing French politicians of selling “the principles of the French Revolution in return for a few billion dollars.”

What’s more, Assad claimed that all policies of the Western states and the Gulf monarchies working on exporting terrorism into Syria are essentially an implementation of a single policy of only one state – the United States of America.

“Ever since 2001 and the terrorist attacks on New York, there has been no European policy-making to speak of,” Assad said, adding that “in the West there is only an American policy, which is implemented by some European countries.”

“I don’t think that France will play a role in the immediate future, unless it changes its policy completely and from its core and returns to the politically independent state it once was,” he said, rejecting France’s playing any significant role in the peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis.

 

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#acenewsservices, #assad, #bashar-al-assad, #bashar-assad, #damascus, #france, #french-revolution, #geneva, #national-coalition-for-syrian-revolutionary-and-opposition-forces, #president-assad, #president-bashar-al-assad, #presidential-elections, #switzerland, #syria, #syrian-opposition, #transitional-government, #united-states

“Israel Decides to Stop Issuing `Gas Masks’ that was Started During the 1991 Gulf War”

#AceWorldNews says Israel decided Sunday to end a decades-old policy of issuing gas masks to the public. Since Israel was hit by Iraqi Scud-Missiles in the 1991 Gulf War the authorities have handed out gas masks, although in recent years Syria’s chemical arsenal was of greater concern. That changed when Syrian President Bashar al Assad agreed last year to give up his chemical weapons stockpile. The distribution of masks to the public will stop by February, after which they will be given to the rescue services only.

#chemical-weapons, #gas-masks, #iraqi, #israel, #president-bashar-al-assad, #scud-miissles