#AceNewsServices –UNITED STATES (Washington) – September 13 – While the Islamic State group is getting the most attention now, another band of extremists in Syria – a mix of hardened jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe –
poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States, working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target U.S. aviation, American officials say.
At the centre is a cell known as the Khorasan group, a cadre of veteran al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan who travelled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there, the al-Nusra Front.
But the Khorasan militants did not go to Syria principally to fight the government of President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say.
Instead, they were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials.
Known as Lashkar-e-Khorasan (LeKh), the group’s only purpose is to identify, capture and execute people allegedly working for what is described as a web of local spies created by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
#AceWorldNews – SYRIA (Hama) – September 12 – Syrian government troops have captured the town of Halfaya in central Hama province that has changed hands several times during the war, AP said, citing the military and activists.
By retaking the key town, troops will be better positioned to defend nearby Christian and Allawite communities that support President Bashar Assad.
The army command said that the current offensive aims “to wipe out terrorists in northern parts of Hama.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Halfaya was captured by the army on Thursday.
#AceWorldNews – SYRIA – June 03 – Waving photos of President Bashar Assad and dancing with flags, tens of thousands of Syrians pledged renewed allegiance to President Bashar Assad as they voted Tuesday in a presidential election that excluded a vast swath of the pre-war population and was decried by the opposition as a charade.
Some stamped their ballots with blood after pricking their fingers with pins supplied by the government in a symbolic act of allegiance and patriotism.
Others chose to vote in full sight of other voters and television cameras — rather than go behind a partition curtain for privacy.
Men and women wore lapel pins with Assad’s picture and said re-electing him would give the Syrian leader more legitimacy to find a solution to the devastating three-year conflict that activists say has killed more than 160,000 people, about a third of whom were civilians.
#AceNewsServices – WASHINGTON – May 31 – State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki confirmed on Friday the identity of Moner Mohammad Abusalha, an American who had travelled to Syria last year and carried out a suicide bombing there, Reuters reported.
Psaki said US agencies had been aware of Abusalha’s travel to Syria with the intent of joining a militant group embroiled in the country’s civil war, though she declined to offer any further details.
The American, also known as Abu Hurayra al-Amriki, took part in one of four suicide bombings on May 25 in Syria’s Idlib province as part of Jabhat-al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda affiliate group intent on the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.
An American citizen fighting for an Al Qaeda-backed militant group in Syria carried out a deadly suicide bombing in the first such case in the war-torn country, US officials said.
The attack first surfaced on Tuesday in Twitter messages from the Nusra Front, an Islamist extremist group aligned with Al Qaeda in the fight against the government in Syria.
Abu-Salha, 22, from South Florida is of Middle Eastern descent. Psaki expressed concern about the flow of foreign fighters into and out of Syria, saying “We’re engaged in a focused outreach effort with key partner governments regarding our shared concern over the flow of foreign fighters to the Syrian conflict”.
“Our partners across the region and Europe are also gravely concerned. That’s an effort that’s been ongoing for months now but it’s one that we will continue to put effort into,” she said in response to a question.
The US, she said, is closely tracking and closely working with its partners and allies about their concern about the growth of foreign fighters and the growth of extremism.
“We are stepping up our efforts to address threats where we see them coming from, and that’s an example of our effort to do that,” she said.
According to officials, Abu-Salha is believed to have travelled to Syria more than once. US authorities are investigating a network of recruiters who officials believe are funnelling money and young fighters to Syria, according to the CNN.
Syria is facing a civil war that has left more than 160,000 people dead.
CNN – Fox News
Ace Related News:
- Fox News – 31/05/2014 – http://tinyurl.com/px8htzh
#AceWorldNews – EUROPEAN UNION – May 29 – The EU said on Thursday it was renewing economic sanctions against Syria until June 1, 2015.
They include an oil embargo and asset freezes against allies of President Bashar Assad, AFP said.
The measures affect 179 people “associated with the violent repression in Syria,” and 53 entities, including the Central Bank of Syria (CBS), according to an EU statement.
#AceWorldNews – DERAA – Syrian rebels shelled a tent being used for election campaigning in the southern province of Deraa, killing more than 20 people, Reuters reported, citing a monitoring group.
At least 11 civilians, including a child, were among those killed in the attack in the al-Matar district of Deraa city on Thursday night, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.
Syria is holding an election next month that is likely to give President Bashar Assad a third seven-year term.
About 30 people were seriously wounded in the attack, the Observatory said.
Reuters – AP – RT – SOHR
#AceWorldNews – BEIRUT – May 07 – Exhausted and worn out from a year-long siege, hundreds of Syrian rebels on Wednesday left their last remaining bastions in the heart of the central city of Homs under a cease-fire deal with government forces.
The exit of some 1,200 fighters and civilians will mark a de facto end of the rebellion in the battered city, which was one of the first places to rise up against President Bashar Assad’s rule, earning it the nickname of “capital of the revolution.”
Gaining full control of Syria’s third largest city is a major win for Assad on multiple levels. Militarily, it solidifies the government hold on a swath of territory in central Syria, linking the capital Damascus with government strongholds along the coast and giving a staging ground to advance against rebel territory further north.
It cited Al-Jadeed television as saying that an aid convoy was prevented from entering the villages of Nubl and Zahraa in Aleppo. The two Shia villages are besieged by rebel forces, and the deal to evacuate the rebels in Homs was contingent on aid being allowed into the villages.
The convoy had been stopped by an Islamist brigade, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Politically, gains on the ground boost Assad’s hold on power as he seeks to add a further claim of legitimacy in presidential elections set for June 3.
Daily Star – Syrian Observatory of Human Rights – Al-Jadeed TV – AP
Ace Related News:
1. Lebanon Daily Star – May 07 – http://tinyurl.com/pfof8xb
#AceWorldNews – SYRIA – April 01 – The situation in Syria’s Christian majority town of Kassab, which was reportedly attacked by Al-Qaeda-linked militants, must be discussed at the UN Security Council, the Russian Foreign Ministry says.
“The UN Security Council should discuss the situation in Kassab and give it a principled evaluation,” it stated.
On March 21, Jihadists reportedly crossed into Syria from Turkey and seized the town in Latakia province, home to over 2,000 ethnic Armenians.
The attack caused hundreds of local families, mainly Armenian, to flee their homes and seek shelter in the city of Latakia.
SYRIA – April 30 – (TS) – Rebels seized control of Kassab on Sunday after launching an attack two days earlier in the coastal Syrian province of Latakia. The fighters were from an array of conservative and Islamic groups, including the Al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front.
The province has an ancient Armenian presence, but is better known as a bastion of support for President Bashar Assad. It is his ancestral home and that of followers of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, that he belongs to.
The clashes led most of Kassab’s estimated 2,000 residents to flee some 57 kilometres to Latakia city, emptying out a village that boasted a Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant church.
“We had to flee only with our clothes. We could not take anything, not even the most precious thing — a handful of soil from Kassab. We could not take our memories,” said a woman to Syrian state television. She identified herself as Kassab resident, but did not give her name.
Middle Eastern News
#AceWorldNews – LEBANON – 23 March – Gun battles between armed men loyal to embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad and rivals have left one dead and 13 people wounded in the Lebanese capital, say local security forces.
As a result of the clashes, the Lebanese authorities have deployed troops to bring the situation under control.
The unrest began when Sunni gunmen opened fire with rocket-propelled grenades in the neighbourhood of Tariq Jadideh, early on Sunday morning.
Middle East News Sources
#AceWorldNews says 29-year old Ali Moustafa from Toronto was killed in a bomb attack in Aleppo on Sunday, an activist told AP.
Moustafa was reportedly killed in a blast, as a crude barrel bomb landed near to where he was standing with a group of fire-fighters.
Dozens of journalists have been killed or kidnapped in Syria, both by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and rebels trying to overthrow him.
#AceWorldNews says Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday issued a statement saying that it was surprised by some of Russia’s foreign partners presenting radical Islamists in Syria as the “moderate” opposition.
“The international public has recently been shocked by reports coming from the Syrian city of Raqqa, which has been under total Jihadists’ rule for nearly one year.
There, the so-called ‘fighters for the bright future of Syria’ from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have imposed a head tax – jizya – on all the remaining Christians.
According to the information posted on the website of this gang, all ‘unbelievers’ who refuse to convert to Islam will be forced to pay tax in gold,” the ministry’s statement said.
“Within the given context, Moscow is puzzled by attempts of some of our foreign partners, who like to reason on respecting human rights in all the corners of the world, to flirt with Islamist gangs in Syria, presenting some them as ‘moderate’ powers fighting the ‘regime’ of `Syrian President Bashar Assad ‘” the statement said.
#AceWorldNews says around 3,300 people have been killed in fighting between rebel factions trying to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad since the start of the year, Reuters said, citing the
#Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Al-Qaeda splinter group, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been caught up in clashes with other insurgents in Syria, including Al-Qaeda’s official Syria branch, the Nusra Front, the group said Wednesday.
The fighting started over power struggles and territorial disputes.
#AceWorldNews says the US Secretary of State John Kerry criticized Russia on Monday for “enabling” Syria’s President Bashar Assad to stay in power. Geneva peace talks broke off without result at the weekend.
The Syrian regime “stonewalled” at the talks and continue to “destroy their own country,” Kerry said during a visit to the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
“They’re doing so with increased support from Iran, from Hezbollah and from Russia,” AFP quoted him as saying. “Russia needs to be a part of the solution and not be distributing so much more weapons and so much more aid,” he said.
#AceWorldNews says Tehran, who are not due to take part in the #Geneva2-Peace-Conference next week, says the gathering must not redistribute power towards radical factions among the country’s opposition. “Participants in the Geneva 2 forum must adopt a realistic view and remember that their decisions should not lead to the strengthening of extremist movements in Syria,” Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahi said. Iran, which has strongly supported the regime of President Bashar Assad throughout the conflict, was invited by the US to participate “on the sidelines” of the talks, but turned down the offer.
#AceWorldNews says the intelligence services of some Western countries have visited Damascus to discuss security cooperation with his government, Syria’s deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday. “I will not specify [which countries] but many of them have visited Damascus,” Faisal Mekdad, told the BBC. The contacts appeared to show a rift between the political and security authorities in some countries opposed to Syrian President Bashar Assad, Mekdad said. “Frankly speaking the spirit has changed,” he added.