Rami Abdul Rahman, AKA Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

angelburst29

The Living Force
The Trump administration is prepared to again take military action against Syrian government forces if necessary to deter the use of chemical weapons and is concerned they may be developing new methods to deliver such weapons, senior US officials said on Thursday.

US not ruling out military strikes after new chemical attacks in Syria: Official Thursday 1 February 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-not-ruling-out-military-strikes-after-new-chemical-attacks-syria-official-1585117265

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have continued occasional use of chemical weapons in smaller amounts since a deadly attack last April that drew a US missile strike on a Syrian air base, the officials told reporters in a briefing.

If the international community does not act quickly to step up pressure on Assad, Syria's chemical weapons could spread beyond Syria and possibly even to the United States, one of the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It will spread if we don't do something," the official warned.

In late January, rescue workers in a rebel-held enclave east of Damascus said government forces had again used chlorine gas, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 13 people had suffered suffocation.

The White Helmets civil defense rescue force, which operates in rebel-held parts of Syria, said 13 civilians including women and children had been "injured after (the) Assad regime used chlorine gas in Douma city in Eastern Ghouta".

The EU last year blacklisted over a dozen high ranking Syrian military officials and scientists over chemical weapons attacks on civilians inside Syria.

At least 20 civilians were killed Thursday in Syrian government air strikes on rebel-held territory in the country's north, a war monitor said.

Elsewhere three children were reported killed in artillery strikes on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, while state news agency SANA said seven people died in apparent retaliatory shelling of nearby government-held Damascus.

The aerial bombardments in the north pounded several areas in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib, where government troops are waging a Russian-backed assault against rebels and militants.

Constitutional changes

Separately on Thursday, Syria’s opposition said it would cooperate with proposals made at a Russia-hosted conference this week to rewrite the country's constitution as long as the process remains under UN auspices.

Participants at Tuesday's meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in Russia - which is a powerful supporter of Assad - agreed to set up a committee to change the Syrian constitution, and called for democratic elections.

The main Syrian opposition negotiating group had boycotted the gathering, while the United States, Britain and France also stayed away because of what they said was the Syrian government's refusal to properly engage.

However, chief opposition negotiator Nasr Hariri said the Syrian Negotiation Commission would "work positively" with the proposed committee because responsibility for setting it up had been handed to the UN Syria envoy, Staffan de Mistura.

"If the constitutional committee is set up... within the UN process in Geneva, strictly consistent with UN resolution 2254, yes we will continue to work with the UN process in this regard," he told a news conference.

Damascus welcomed the results of the Sochi meeting.

"The final statement of the conference confirmed the consensus of Syrians on ... preserving the sovereignty and unity of Syrian territory and people, and the exclusive right of the Syrian people to choose their own political and economic system," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It made no mention of the decision to set up a committee to rewrite the constitution or the call for democratic elections.

Four years of on-off United Nations-mediated peace talks have yielded little progress toward ending the seven-year war, but De Mistura has pressed ahead with efforts for a political solution.

He said on Tuesday the constitutional committee agreed in Sochi "will become a reality in Geneva", where most of the UN-led Syria peace talks have been held. De Mistura also said he would decide the criteria for committee members and select about 50 people - from government, opposition and independent groups.


Comment - In this next article, an organization by the name Syria Direct seems to play a prominent role, next to the casual mention of Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in this story. This is the first time that I have come across Syria Direct and need to explore their background to see if they are connected to Soro's?

Thousands of Syrian army troops are missing in the war, leaving their families without financial support or knowing the fate of their loved ones

'Nothing for his sacrifice': Families of missing Syrian soldiers left in limbo Wednesday 31 January 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/nothing-his-sacrifice-families-missing-syrian-soldiers-left-without-benefits-566906934

When Tawfiq reached the bus station in central Syria’s Homs city on 12 February 2014, he called his wife Suad, as he always did after making the journey south from their home in Hama province.

Tawfiq, a commander in the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) who worked at a state security branch in Homs, told Suad that he had returned safely from his biweekly trip to visit her and their four children.

Later that evening, Suad called to speak to Tawfiq again, but received an out-of-service response. Immediately, she recalled a special army assignment he mentioned while at home.

She grew concerned and called one of her husband’s colleagues at the security branch. He confirmed Tawfiq was out on a mission and would call her back when he returned.

“My heart started racing,” Suad told Syria Direct. She continued to call her husband throughout the night, but he didn’t respond. The silence stretched into days. “I told myself that his phone was probably dead, or that he was somewhere without reception," she said.

Three days after Suad first tried to reach her husband, she said an employee at the security branch called Suad to let her know that Tawfiq still hadn’t returned and asked her to inform the branch if he showed up at home or tried to contact her.

Four weeks passed without a word from Tawfiq, and Suad noticed that his monthly salary, usually transferred to a government-issued bank card, did not arrive.

An officer at the Homs security branch where Tawfiq worked told Suad that because her husband was registered as a missing person, he would no longer be paid. “Pray for him to return,” she recalled the officer telling her. “We can’t register him as a martyr because he went missing.”

When Syrian Arab Army soldiers are confirmed killed in the ongoing civil war, they are officially registered as martyrs - a term used both colloquially and officially in Syria to describe victims of the war. Their families are entitled to an array of state benefits, including financial compensation, a monthly salary and medical care.

But for the families of SAA soldiers who disappear - who, together with civilians, are estimated to total around 60,000, according to the International Commission on Missing Persons - no such privileges exist.

Instead, three families told Syria Direct that they face both the pain of losing a loved one and the difficulty of navigating a legal system that offers little guidance or support.

‘No offices to visit’ - When employees at Tawfiq’s former workplace told Suad that her missing husband would no longer receive a salary, she said she was at a loss for what to do.

At the suggestion of friends, her next step was to visit the government’s Office for Martyrs’ Affairs in Homs city, but once there, she was told there was nothing they could do to help her. “Your husband isn’t a martyr, he’s missing,” she recalled them saying.

Like Suad, the other two families of missing SAA personnel whom Syria Direct spoke with said they are unaware of any government entity specifically devoted to the issue of missing soldiers.

There are no offices to visit - not even to enquire about the status of the missing person or their family’s rights,” said Khayrea, a 26-year-old Homs resident who lost contact with her husband, Emad, an army lieutenant, in late 2016.

Emad went missing as battles raged near a checkpoint where he was stationed in the Hama countryside, she said.

Firas al-Dimashqi, a Damascus-based lawyer who has worked on several missing persons cases, confirmed that there is, in fact, no office specifically dedicated to supporting families.

Instead, any available information regarding a missing soldier’s status is provided by “those who were with [him] on the battlefield, or from the army command”, he said.

Al-Dimashqi asked to be identified by a pseudonym due to the sensitivity of discussing government-related matters. For similar reasons, the relatives of missing soldiers whom Syria Direct spoke with for this report asked to be identified only by their first names.

Khayrea, who now lives with her two-year-old son and relatives in Damascus, said she frequently visits an SAA office in the capital to inquire about her husband and inform the office about the financial difficulties she faces raising a child in his absence.

All Khayrea has been told is that Emad’s death could not be confirmed, she said. At the SAA office, “they asked me: ‘Do you really want us to record him as dead just for the salary?’” “No one is concerned with our situation,” she said.

Syria Direct spoke by phone with the Syrian Ministry of Defense in Damascus six times over the course of two weeks before being told that a comment could not be given to an organization based in Amman.

Martyr benefits - More than 60,000 government troops have been killed during the war, the UK-based monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has estimated.

The Syrian government pledges to provide the families of these soldiers with various benefits including a full salary for parents of an unmarried martyr, job offers for widows and children, funds for burial, healthcare and free public transportation.

Before the war, the benefits were much more extensive including a one-time payout, housing and special schools for the children of martyrs, al-Dimashqi said.

But years of war have battered the Syrian economy, leaving the government with depleted resources as it deals with an increased number of martyrs. Salaries are minimal, schools are full and compensation packages are delayed, the lawyer said. “Now, the family of a martyr is given a wall clock, a goat or boxes of oranges as a tribute,” al-Dimashqi said. “The matter has become farcical.”

Still even the reduced entitlements for the martyrs' families surpasses anything provided to the three families who spoke with Syria Direct.

Suad said she received documents identifying her husband as a missing person following a visit to the Department of Social Affairs in Homs. She shows them to charities and sometimes they offer blankets and basic food products.

To support the family, she does handiwork from home while her teenage son, Adham, has dropped out of school to work as a carpenter’s assistant. But they are still struggling to get by.

‘No justice’ - One option for families of missing soldiers seeking access to government benefits is to have their relative declared dead through the courts. However, the process is lengthy and success rates are low, legal sources told Syria Direct. “Syrian law has been, overall, limited with regard to the topic of missing persons,” said Muhammad Nour a-Deen al-Hamidi, a former judge who defected from the Assad government in 2012.

Article 205 of Syrian personal assets law stipulates that if a person is missing “because of war operations or similar situations”, they will be considered dead after a period of four years.

In order to obtain a death certificate, however, al-Hamidi said families need to raise a court case which they can only do at least four years after their relative goes missing. “The families can obtain all of their rights,” added the former judge, “if they win.” Al-Hamidi said he presided over a successful case of this type before his defection.

Missing persons cases were relatively common prior to the outbreak of the war, al-Dimashqi, the Damascus-based lawyer, told Syria Direct. “They had a high success rate,” he said, “if the missing person’s security record was clean.”

But in recent years, both al-Dimashqi and al-Hamidi said the number of cases has declined, even as the number of missing people has increased. And of those cases that are tried, there's "a large chance" the family will lose. “The state is running from its financial obligations due to the war and the increase in missing persons and martyrs," said al-Dimashqi.

The lawyer believes that a decline in missing person cases may also be due to the possibility that a soldier who disappeared defected from the army.

Abu Saeed, a high school physics teacher in Damascus, told Syria Direct that he has faced doubts over his son Saeed’s loyalty to the government since he went missing in 2013.

Six months after Saeed first disappeared from a Syrian army base in Damascus’s East Ghouta suburbs, his father said he received a call from the army’s social affairs department. They asked if Saeed had been in touch with him. “They told me, ‘Maybe your son defected from the regime and joined the terrorists,’” he said. “To be honest, I wish that was the case. It would preferable to him being dead.”

While it has been more than four years since Saeed disappeared, his father doesn’t see going to court as a realistic option. He fears the fees required to raise a case would exceed any compensation he might receive. “Our country is at war and in chaos,” he said. “There is no justice.”

'Live with dignity' - For the families of the missing, the designation of “martyr” is significant not only for the privileges associated with it, but also for the recognition that a family member was lost for a noble cause - in this case, defense of the homeland.

“The wife of a martyr is respected and valued wherever she goes,” Suad said. Some days, she tries to imagine what life would be like if her husband’s body were found, and his name recorded on the list of martyrs. “We would be able to live with dignity,” she said.

The difficulties Suad now faces have led her to question whether her husband made the right choice to serve his country. “If [Tawfiq] had known that after all he did for the sake of the homeland, his life would be taken like this, would he have stood by the regime?” she said.

Abu Saeed, whose son was accused of joining the opposition, feels similarly betrayed. “My son went to serve his army, and maybe he died five years ago,” he said. “No one will admit that he gave his life to save the homeland.”
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
A unified opposition media body based in Aleppo has officially accused the often-cited Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor group for being a secondary intelligence tool of the Assad government.

Opposition media accuses Syrian Observatory for Human Rights of being pro-Assad intelligence arm 02/02/2018
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-opposition-media-accuses-syrian-observatory-human-rights-pro-assad-intelligence-arm/

According to a formal statement released by the opposition news conglomerate known as the Media Activists Union of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) watch group indirectly – but nonetheless effectively – assists the Assad government via its public releasing of statistical information that military intelligence is (apparently) unable to gather for itself.

Furthermore, the opposition media franchise extended its accusations against the SOHR, claiming also that the monitor group is responsible for ‘altering facts’ in its reports and that it espouses a pro-government narrative through its wording of communiques and use of terminology.

Particularly disturbing, according to Media Activists Union of Aleppo, is that information from the SOHR serves to be ‘the only source’ on Syria for many Arabic and global media channels.

The full statement released by the Media Activists Union of Aleppo is available below.


Video of the mutilated body of Barin Kobani circulated on social media.

Syria Kurds outraged over mutilated body of female fighter Friday 2 February 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/syria-kurds-outraged-over-mutilated-body-female-fighter-798649470

Syria's Kurds Friday accused Turkey-backed rebels fighting them of mutilating then filming the body of one of their female fighters after a video appeared of her corpse.

Turkey and allied Syrian rebels have since January 20 pressed an offensive against the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in northern Syria, whose Kurdish fighters Ankara views as "terrorists".

A Kurdish official identified the young woman as Barin Kobani, who took part in a US-backed campaign to drive the Islamic State militants group from the northern town of Kobane.

The Kurds in a statement blamed the "terrorist allies of the enemy Turkish state" for mutilating the body of Kobani, who was a member of the all-female Kurdish Women's Protection Units (YPG).

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said it received the video from a Syrian rebel fighting with Turkish forces in the Afrin offensive.

The rebel told the Observatory the footage was filmed on Tuesday after rebels found the young woman's corpse in the village of Qurna near the Turkish border in the north of the enclave.

In the footage, a dozen men, some armed, gather around the badly mutilated body of a woman lying on the ground.

The Kurdish community reacted with outrage and social media users shared online a portrait of Kobani smiling next to another shot of her brutalised body.

"Barin did not surrender, she fought to the death," said Amad Kandal, an official with the Women's Protection Units, vowing to avenge her comrade's brutal murder. "This kind of behaviour will only serve to reinforce our determination to resist until victory," said Kandal.

YPG male and female fighters have taken part in the battle by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to expel IS from large parts of Syria.

SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said the video of the fighter's body was reason to continue fighting back against Turkey and its allies.

"Imagine the savagery of these invaders with the bodies of our daughters. How would they behave if they took control of our neighbourhoods?" he wrote on Facebook. "All this hatred and barbarity leaves us with a single option: to continue the resistance," he said.

Afrin resident Hussein Cheikho, 65, said he was "deeply pained" when he saw pictures of Kobani's mutilated body but said her death will not be in vain. "The death of a young man or a young woman will not weaken us. Out strength will be bolstered every day," he said.


Civilians have been killed in Eastern Ghouta amid growing concerns over chemical attacks

Syria war: Civilians killed in government air strikes across rebel-held areas Friday 2 February 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/Syria-war-Civilians-killed-in-government-airstrikes-across-rebel-held-areas-2142828079

Syrian government warplanes killed seven civilians and injured dozens of internally displaced people in Aleppo as air strikes and shelling intensified across rebel-held areas in Syria.

Several air strikes and artillery shelling also took place in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the capital Damascus, on Friday as concerns mounted over chemical attacks by the Syrian government.

Images posted by the Syrian Civil Defenae Force (SCD), also known as the White Helmets, showed rescue volunteers helping refugees who were part of a convoy that was struck by the Syrian government in the village of Telahdiya in the West Aleppo countryside.

The air strike in Telahdiya took place hours after Syrian government warplanes killed three civilians in Arbin city in Eastern Ghouta on Friday afternoon. The SCD dispatched several rescue volunteers to help the wounded after government warplanes struck residential areas across the city.

The air strikes came minutes after artillery shells hit Douma city in Eastern Ghouta, which injured civilians. The SCD did not report any fatalities but said that its rescue operation inside Douma city was ongoing.

Images posted by the SCD showed volunteers rescuing a child who survived the government shelling in Douma. No fatalities were reported by the SCD but it said on Twitter that its rescue operation inside Douma city was ongoing.

Chemical attack concerns - This represents the third chemical attack reported in Douma, a suburb of Eastern Ghouta since the start of 2018, with two earlier attacks on 13 January and 22 January.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Friday that while he does not have evidence of the nerve agent sarin being used by the Syrian government, the United States was looking into reports about its use and was concerned.

Mattis, speaking with reporters, said the Syrian government had repeatedly used chlorine as a weapon. “We are even more concerned about the possibility of sarin use... I don’t have the evidence, what I am saying is, that other groups on the ground, NGOs, fighters on the ground, have said that sarin has been used, so we are looking for evidence,” Mattis said.

His comments come after the Trump administration on Thursday said it would take military action against Syrian government forces to deter the use of chemical attacks.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have continued occasional use of chemical weapons in smaller amounts since a deadly attack last April that drew a US missile strike on a Syrian air base, US officials told reporters.

A global campaign was launched this week to raise awareness about the successive chemical attacks that have taken place in Eastern Ghouta as Syrian government forces continue to fight to take control of the area.

Under the hashtag#DoumaSuffocating, people from across the world have been posting pictures of themselves placing a hand over their mouth to raise awareness about the chemical attacks.

Mohamad Katoub, an advocacy officer from the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), told Middle East Eye that two women and a 16-year-old child displayed symptoms indicative of chlorine from a suspected chemical attack on Thursday morning. "Thankfully there were no fatalities from yesterday's attack, but medical staff from our facility inside Douma confirmed that two women and a 16-year-old girl displayed symptoms indicative of chlorine," said Katoub.

In late January, rescue workers in a rebel-held enclave east of Damascus said government forces had again used chlorine gas, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 13 people had suffered suffocation.

The White Helmets civil defense rescue force, which operates in rebel-held parts of Syria, said 13 civilians including women and children had been "injured after (the) Assad regime used chlorine gas in Douma city in Eastern Ghouta".

A UN body in October 2017 held the government responsible for a Sarin gas attack on a rebel-held town that killed more than 87 people. "The panel is confident that the Syrian Arab republic is responsible for the release of sarin at Khan Sheikhun on 4 April 2017," stated the report seen by AFP.

Images from the immediate aftermath of the attack drew global outrage and prompted the US to fire dozens of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase where the gas was allegedly housed.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Syria rebels down Russian plane, capture injured pilot, says monitor Saturday 3 February 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1238866/middle-east

Rebel fighters shot down a Russian plane over Syria’s northwest Idlib province on Saturday and captured its pilot, a monitor said.

“Rebel factions shot down a Sukhoi 25. The Russian pilot came down in a parachute, before being captured,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He could not immediately confirm which faction had downed the plane but hard-line opposition groups and the jihadist Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) are active in Idlib. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Syrian troops launched a fierce offensive on Idlib in late December, with backing by Russian warplanes. “There have been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the past 24 hours. This plane was also carrying out raids there,” said Abdel Rahman.

Opposition factions have shot Syrian regime planes in the past, but downing Russian warplanes is much rarer.

In August 2016, a Russian military helicopter was shot down over Syria and all five people on board were killed.

Moscow began conducting air strikes in Syria in September 2015. Two months later, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane, leading to the worst crisis in ties between the two countries since the end of the Cold War.


Comment: Ten minutes after the above article was posted stating, "The Russian pilot came down in a parachute, before being captured,” the article was scrubbed from the site and replaced with the one below, with a revised title and stating, the pilot was killed, a monitor said.

Syria rebels down Russian plane, pilot killed, says monitor Saturday 3 February 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1238866/middle-east

Rebel fighters shot down a Russian plane over Syria’s northwest Idlib province on Saturday and the pilot was killed,a monitor said.

“Rebel factions shot down a Sukhoi 25. The Russian pilot came down in a parachute, before being captured,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

He could not immediately confirm which faction had downed the plane but hard-line opposition groups and the jihadist Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) are active in Idlib. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Syrian troops launched a fierce offensive on Idlib in late December, with backing by Russian warplanes. “There have been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the past 24 hours. This plane was also carrying out raids there,” said Abdel Rahman.

Opposition factions have shot Syrian regime planes in the past, but downing Russian warplanes is much rarer.

In August 2016, a Russian military helicopter was shot down over Syria and all five people on board were killed.

Moscow began conducting air strikes in Syria in September 2015. Two months later, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane, leading to the worst crisis in ties between the two countries since the end of the Cold War.


The Russian pilot managed to eject himself from the plane in a parachute

Syrian rebels shoot down Russian plane, pilot dead: Monitor Saturday 3 February 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/opposition-rebels-shoot-down-russian-plane-and-capture-pilot-monitor-71630068

Syrian rebels shot down a Russian plane over Syria's northwest Idlib province on Saturday, a monitor said, and the pilot was killed.

The pilot, who ejected himself from the plane, appeared to have died upon impact, according to photos shared by pro-opposition activists. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights could not confirm which faction shut down the plane, but opposition groups including the hardline Hayat Tahrir al-Sham are active inside Idlib.

"Rebel factions shot down a Sukhoi 25. The Russian pilot came down in a parachute, before being captured," said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian or Syrian armies.

Syrian troops launched a fierce offensive on Idlib in late December, with backing by Russian warplanes.

On Friday, Syrian government warplanes launched multiple air strikes on rebel-held areas across Syria in a bid to take control from opposition forces.

Seven civilians were killed in the village of Telahdiya, inside the West Aleppo countryside, after Syrian government air strikes targeted a convoy of displaced refugees attempting to flee the violence.

"There have been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the past 24 hours. This plane was also carrying out raids there," said Abdel Rahman.

Opposition factions have shot Syrian regime planes in the past, but downing Russian warplanes are much rarer.

In August 2016, a Russian military helicopter was shot down over Syria and all five people on board were killed.

Moscow began conducting air strikes in Syria in September 2015.

Two months later, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane, leading to the worst crisis in ties between the two countries since the end of the Cold War.


Report from Sputnik:

The Russian Ministry of Defense revealed the preliminary information on the incident, saying that the aircraft might be shot down with the help of a man-portable air defense system. The pilot survived the crash, but was killed during a fight with terrorists.

Russian Su-25 Downed in Syrian Province of Idlib, Pilot Dead - Russian MoD 03.02.2018
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201802031061332435-syria-su-25-idlib-syria/

"The plane was flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone," the military stated.

The Defense Ministry revealed that according to preliminary information as to the possible cause of the downing, the plane may have been shot down by a man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD).

The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the pilot managed to eject from the aircraft and survive, but was killed during a subsequent battle with terrorists.

The pilot reported on a bailout in an area controlled by rebels Jabhat Fatah al-Sham [previously known as al-Nusra Front]. When conducting a fight with terrorists, the pilot died," the Defense Ministry said.

According to the ministry, Russia and Turkey, peace guarantor in Syria's Idlib de-escalation zone, are taking all possible efforts to return the body of the killed pilot.

During the two-years long military operation in Syria, Russia lost four aircraft and four helicopters. According to Russian Defense Minister Yury Borisov, the country's air forces used modernized Su-25SM ground attack aircraft are being used in Syria.

The Su-25 attack aircraft is designed to destroy small-size mobile and fixed ground objects, as well as low-speed air targets.

The conflict took place on the territory controlled by the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham terror group amid the ongoing military operation against them conducted by the Syrian forces.

Among various terror groups operating in the area, there is also Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an umbrella terrorist group spearheaded this year by the former Al-Nusra Front. While some countries such as the United States have flagged HTS as a terrorist group, Russian officials continue to refer to the Salafist jihadist terrorist organization by its old Al-Nusra moniker. Al-Nusra was the official Syrian branch of al-Qaeda until 2016, when it ostensibly split from the world's most well-known terrorist network.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights - White Helmets - British NGO Hand in Hand for Syria

The destroyed hospital in Kafranbel had wards that tended to patients with cancer and lung disorders.

Suspected Russian air strikes destroy one of last remaining hospitals in Idlib Monday 5 February 2018
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/russian-air-strikes-destroy-last-remaining-idlib-hospital-surgical-facilities-2026292685

One of the few remaining hospitals with an intensive care unit in Idlib was destroyed after Russian and Syrian government jets were suspected of firing a series of air strikes on the Syrian province on Monday.

British NGO Hand in Hand for Syria, which runs the hospital in the town of Kafranbel, confirmed to Middle East Eye that four air strikes had wiped out the hospital, as opposition activists told Associated Press that Syrian government planes alongside their Russian allies had struck the hospital.

The news comes after reports that Russian jets intensified their raids on rebel-held towns and cities in Syria’s northern Idlib province on Sunday night, a day after militants shot down a Russian warplane and killed its pilot.

Along with an intensive care unit, the now-destroyed medical facility included a cardiology ward and a centre for dealing with cancer patients and others suffering from blood and lung disorders.

No fatalities were reported, while a representative from the British NGO told MEE that medical staff managed to evacuate all patients after the hospital began receiving reports of attacks on other hospitals in Idlib.

The facility in Kafranbel was the second hospital to be destroyed this month, after a hospital in Maaret al-Numan was also destroyed by Syrian and Russian warplanes on Sunday evening.

After being struck three times on Sunday night, the hospital in Maaret al-Numan was put out of service, according to the Syrian American Medical Society, which runs the facility.

Rescue workers and medical staff were forced to evacuate critically injured patients and premature babies without any incubators.

Commenting on the incident, Fadi Al Dairi, the Syrian country director for Hand in Hand for Syria, said in a statement on Monday: "We are devastated to have to close the doors of a hospital serving a community of over one million people.

"The timing couldn't be worse as this hospital had been supporting victims of the current escalation of ground and aerial attacks."

A representative from Hand in Hand for Syria told MEE that its Kafranbel facility had only recently been equipped to deal with chemical weapons attacks, after a series of suspected chlorine attacks struck Idlib and Eastern Ghouta in the last month.

Three chemical attacks took place in Eastern Ghouta, one of the other last remaining rebel-held areas, since the start of 2018 alone.

Images provided by Hand in Hand for Syria showed wards inside the Kafranbel hospital destroyed and no longer functioning.

An ambulance sent over by the Unity Convoy, an independent coalition of charities, was also destroyed in the round of air strikes on Monday, reported the charity.

Many of the evacuated patients were receiving treatment inside the hospital in Kafranbel after being injured by air strikes and artillery shelling by Russian and Syrian government forces.

In a statement on Sunday, the Syrian opposition coalition condemned what it described a "barbaric onslaught by the Russian occupation and the Assad regime forces."

The reports come as medical facilities across rebel-held areas continue to be targeted by Russian warplanes as they aid Syrian government forces in their efforts to take control of the rebel-held Idlib province.

Idlib is mostly controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former al-Qaeda affiliate, which claimed to have shot down the SU-25 fighter using a shoulder-fired weapon.

On Sunday evening, the Syrian Civil Defense Force, also known as the White Helmets, reported that several people suffered from breathing difficulties after a suspected chlorine gas attack on Saraqeb.

An apartment block in the city of Idlib was also destroyed, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The suspected chemical attacks come days after the Trump administration accused Bashar al Assad's government of producing and using "new kinds of weapons" to deliver poisonous gases.

The Syrian government has denied these claims.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights - White Helmets

Air strikes pound Syria’s last rebel strongholds, gas chokes civilians Monday 5 February 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1240046/middle-east

Warplanes launched heavy attacks on the two last major rebel-held areas in Syria, killing at least 29 people in the Ghouta suburb near the capital and choking people with gas in Idlib in the northwest, rescue workers and a war monitor said on Monday.

President Bashar Assad’s government has vowed to retake all of Syria from rebels who have lost large swathes of the territory they have held in a war now entering its eighth year.

A years-long siege on the last major rebel-held area near the capital Damascus, the suburb of eastern Ghouta, has tightened in recent months. In the northwest, the government and its militia allies have been trying to advance in mostly rural Idlib, the last province still largely under rebel control.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said warplanes attacking eastern Ghouta near Damascus had struck the towns of Zamalka, Arbaeen, Hazza and Beitu Soua, killing at least 29 people. State media said rebel fighters shelling the government-held capital killed a woman.

International concern has been growing over the fate of eastern Ghouta, where residents say they have been running out of food and medicine.

In the northwest, the other main battlefield in the war between Assad’s government and its main rebel opponents, bombing also intensified on Sunday night after rebels shot down a Russian warplane on Saturday.

Rescue workers said at least nine people had suffered breathing problems from chemicals dropped from the air. Aid groups and rescuers said three hospitals had also been struck.

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a charity which supports hospitals in Syria, said its doctors in Idlib reported 11 patients “with symptoms indicative to usage of chlorine.”

Two barrels containing chemical gasses had been dropped from helicopters on Sunday night, Radi Saad, from the chemical weapons team of the White Helmets civil defense group that operates in rebel-held parts of Syria, told Reuters.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the White Helmets and the US-based Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM) said health care facilities in northwestern Syria had been hit by air strikes.

“With the majority of hospitals no longer operating in these areas, these latest attacks will deprive tens of thousands of life-saving care,” the ICRC said on Twitter.

The Syrian government has consistently denied using chlorine or other chemical weapons during Syria’s conflict. Rescue workers and medical groups have accused government forces of using chlorine gas against the rebel-held eastern Ghouta at least three times over the last month, most recently on Thursday.

“ABHORRENT ACT“

Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons arsenal in 2013. In the past two years, a joint inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has found the Syrian government used the nerve agent sarin and has also several times used chlorine as a weapon. The inquiry also said the Daesh has used sulfur mustard.

The German government called on Monday for a thorough investigation into reports Syria had used chemical weapons in both Idlib and eastern Ghouta.
“If it is confirmed that the Syrian government has once again used chemical weapons, that would be an abhorrent act and an egregious violation of the moral and legal obligation to avoid the use of chemical weapons,” a German foreign ministry official said.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week that the Syrian government had repeatedly used chlorine as a weapon, and Washington was also concerned about the potential use of sarin.

The Syrian civil war has killed hundreds of thousands of people and driven more than 11 million from their homes. Neighbours and global powers have been drawn into the multi-sided conflict, sponsoring allied groups on the ground.

Turkish forces are in northwest Syria, entering Idlib under a “de-escalation” agreement reached with Assad’s backers Russia and Iran. They also expanded their operation two weeks ago into the nearby Afrin region to fight against Kurdish militias who hold that territory.

The Turkish army said on Monday its forces had set up a military post southwest of the Syrian city of Aleppo, the deepest position they have established so far inside northwest Syria under their deal with Russia and Iran.

The “de-escalation” in violence they were supposed to monitor has collapsed. In December, the Syrian army alongside Iran-backed militias and heavy Russian air power launched a major offensive to take territory in Idlib province.

The Observatory said the new Turkish observation post was near the village of Al-Eis. That would place it less than five km (three miles) from territory held by Syrian government forces and their allies, and deeper inside Syria than the three observation posts set up by the Turkish army so far.


Chemicals dropped from the air caused at least nine people to suffer breathing problems in an attack in northwest Syria, rescue workers and doctors said on Monday.

Rescuers, doctors in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib says chemical gas used Monday 5 February 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1239976/middle-east

The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a charity which supports hospitals in Syria, said its doctors in Idlib reported 11 patients “with symptoms indicative to usage of chlorine,” SAMS advocacy manager Mohamad Katoub said on his Twitter page.

Radi Saad, from the chemical weapons team of the White Helmets civil defense group that operates in rebel-held parts of Syria, told Reuters three of the nine people who suffered from “suffocation injuries” were rescuers responding to the incident.

Two barrels containing chemical gasses had been dropped from helicopters on Sunday night, Saad said.

The Syrian government has consistently denied using chlorine or other chemical weapons during Syria’s conflict, now approaching its eighth year.

Air raids intensified on rebel-held towns and cities in northwest Syria’s Idlib province on Sunday night, a day after rebels shot down a Russian warplane and killed its pilot.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, with the help of Russian air power and Iran-backed militias, has said he wants to take back control off all of Syria. Syrian government and allied forces have advanced into rebel-held areas of northwest Syria in recent weeks.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a number of cases of suffocation were reported after helicopters targeted the town of Saraqeb on Sunday.

Rescue workers and medical groups have also accused government forces of using chlorine gas against the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta district near the capital Damascus three times over the last month, most recently on Thursday.

Syria agreed to give up its chemical weapons arsenal in 2013. In the past two years, a joint inquiry by the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has found the Syrian government used the nerve agent sarin and has also several times used chlorine as a weapon. The inquiry also said the Daesh group has used sulfur mustard.

The German government called on Monday for a thorough investigation into reports Syria had used chemical weapons in both Idlib and Eastern Ghouta.
“If it is confirmed that the Syrian government has once again used chemical weapons, that would be an abhorrent act and an egregious violation of the moral and legal obligation to avoid the use of chemical weapons,” an official with the German foreign ministry said.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last week that the Syrian government had repeatedly used chlorine as a weapon, and Washington was also concerned about the potential use of sarin gas.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
From what I can determine, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), took the information from this first report by Andrew Illingworth and put their own spin on it - with the second article.

Breaking: 100+ Syrian troops killed by US ‘defensive’ airstrikes in Deir Ezzor – Reports 08/02/2018
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-100-syrian-troops-killed-us-defensive-airstrikes-deir-ezzor-reports/

Some one hundred or more troops of the Syrian Arab Army and allied paramilitary forces have been killed as a result of retaliatory airstrikes carried out by US-led coalition warplanes in the country’s east according to media sources claiming to cite American military officials.

US military officials speaking to Reuters have stated that ‘defensive’ retaliation strikes carried out by US-led coalition airpower has killed 100 Syrian pro-government troops in the province of Deir Ezzor.

The US military is claiming that so-called anti-ISIS coalition forces repelled a threatening Syrian Army-led attack consisting of five hundred troops – backed by artillery and tanks – during the night of Wednesday to Thursday against positions of Arab and Kurdish partner militias at oilfields near the town of Khasham on the eastern shore of the Euphrates River.

Apparently no American troops were killed in the engagement.

At the present time, the Syrian Army is yet to release a statement on the engagement.


Bloodiest day in 2018: Over 100 Syrians killed across the country 08/02/2018
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/bloodiest-day-2018-100-syrians-killed-across-country/

The war in Syria has reached its deadliest point in 2018, as more than 100 Syrians have been killed across the country.

The death toll took a large climb this morning, when the U.S. Coalition bombed the pro-government tribal fighters in the Deir Ezzor Governorate.

As a result of this bombing by the U.S. Air Force, more than 25 tribal fighters from the Euphrates River Valley were killed, making this attack the second deadliest assault by the Coalition on the Syrian government forces since September 2016.

Meanwhile, near the Syrian capital, the battle in the eastern suburbs has reached its bloodiest juncture, as both the Syrian Army and Islamist rebels trade attacks.

Caught in the middle of these attacks are the civilians living in both the opposition-held East Ghouta region and government-held Damascus city.

According to the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), 36 people have been killed in the ongoing bombing of the East Ghouta by the Syrian military; however, other pro-opposition monitors have put the estimated death toll between 40-80.

Inside Damascus, at least a half dozen civilians have been killed, today, by the ongoing shelling from the Islamist rebels in the East Ghouta.

With the situation becoming increasingly more violent in Damascus, the death toll is expected to rise in the coming hours.

Several other areas across the country are experiencing increased violence, including the Abu Dhuhour front in the Idlib Governorate and Afrin region of northern Aleppo.

Many civilians have been caught in the crossfire of the Turkish-led Operation Olive Branch, which has also seen a large amount of people killed in the 72 hours.

Despite the recent peace conferences in Sochi and Astana, it does not appear that the violence in Syria has dissipated, as the overall death toll has increased since February 1st.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Syrian regime kills 200 civilians; 100 pro-Assad men die in strikes Friday 9 February 2018
http://www.arabnews.com/node/1242546/middle-east

JEDDAH: Four days of Syrian regime raids on Eastern Ghouta have killed more than 200 civilians, a war monitor said on Thursday, as the Syrian
opposition denounced the “atrocities.”

Regime troops have since Monday waged an intense air campaign against Eastern Ghouta, the only significant opposition pocket near the capital Damascus.

Bombardment on Thursday alone killed 58 civilians, including 15 children, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The deadliest strikes hit a market in the town of Erbin, killing 21 civilians, including nine children.

“These are the worst four days that Eastern Ghouta has ever gone through,” said Hamza, a doctor at the local Erbin clinic who was treating wounded patients.

“From 2011 until now, there has never been the level of bombardment we’ve seen in the last 96 hours.”

The opposition condemned the air raids. “As long as Iranian militias and Hezbollah are there, Syria won’t see peace,” opposition spokesman Yahya Al-Aridi told Arab News.

Hezbollah has killed Syrians and worked “brutally” to keep the regime in power, he said.

Also on Thursday, the US-led coalition said it killed at least 100 pro-regime fighters to fend off an attack on its allies in eastern Syria, in one of its deadliest confrontations yet with forces backing Damascus.

The initial attack was carried out by pro-regime forces on key oil and gas installations in parts of Deir Ezzor province controlled by US-backed Kurdish forces.

Russia’s Defense Ministry said the ultimate US goal in Syria was not to fight Daesh but to seize economic assets, the Interfax news agency reported.

Al-Aridi said: “The Russians are working on finding all sorts of excuses to cover up the failure of the political process and their efforts to sideline any political process.”

The Russians are also trying to mask the savagery being inflicted in Eastern Ghouta, he added.

Turkish presidential sources on Thursday said Ankara, Moscow and Tehran will meet in Istanbul to discuss the Syrian crisis. Though the date is not fixed yet, the meeting is expected to take place this month.

In parallel, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met on Wednesday in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhani.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
The United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution calling for a 30-day cease-fire in Syria, following one of the bloodiest weeks of aerial bombardment in the war that has devastated the country.

U.N. Security Council Passes Syria Cease-Fire After Hundreds Killed In Bombing Siege February 24, 2018·
https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/02/24/588516461/400-000-people-live-in-hell-on-earth-bombing-of-damascus-suburbs-kills-hundreds

In the eastern suburbs of Damascus, a region called Eastern Ghouta, nearly 500 people have been killed in a deadly escalation by the Syrian government that began Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told The Associated Press. More than 120 of the dead are children, the group says.

The Security Council resolution aims to get humanitarian aid to Eastern Ghouta and other areas under siege. The resolution was delayed several times in an effort to get Russia's approval.

"Airstrikes, artillery shells and barrels filled with TNT are being dropped on neighborhoods that are heavily populated by civilians who have no way to escape," NPR's Lama Al-Arian reports. "They're being forced into bunkers, and many of them can't even find the time to bury their dead."

Syria's Civil Defense, a volunteer rescue group known as the White Helmets, told Reuters that it counted at least 350 deaths in a four-day span earlier in the week.

"Maybe there are many more," Siraj Mahmoud, a civil defense spokesman, told the news service. "We weren't able to count the martyrs yesterday or the day before because the warplanes are touring the skies."

Rescuers hurry to pull people from rubble, a difficult task amid the unrelenting barrage.

"But if we have to go out running on our legs and dig with our hands to rescue the people, we will still be here," Mahmoud told Reuters.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called for an immediate end to hostilities in the region so the sick and wounded can be evacuated.

"I am deeply saddened by the terrible suffering of the civilian population in Eastern Ghouta — 400,000 people that live in hell on earth," he said to the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday. "I don't think we can let things go on happening in this horrendous way. "

Syrian state media said rebel factions had fired shells at the Old City of Damascus on Saturday, Reuters reported.

The Security Council's resolution, which passed 15-0, demands "all parties cease hostilities" for at least 30 days throughout Syria to allow the safe delivery of humanitarian aid and evacuations of the critically sick and wounded.

The resolution, sponsored by Kuwait and Sweden, calls for all parties to immediately lift sieges of populated areas, including Eastern Ghouta. The cease-fire does not apply to military operations against ISIS, al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

A vote on the resolution was delayed Friday as its sponsors worked to get a version Russia would approve. As NPR previously reported, most members of the Security Council had wanted to require the cease-fire to go into effect within 72 hours, but Russia had pushed for a looser timeline.

The approved resolution simply says that hostilities must cease "without delay."

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley criticized Russia for the wait, saying it had cost lives, The Associated Press reports.

The break in fighting will come at a crucial time for Ghouta's civilians.

"There is no electricity, no water, no flour, no bread and no baby formula," paramedic Siraj Mahmoud told the AP. "There is nothing inside Ghouta."

A group of doctors and medical activists, from institutions including Harvard and Johns Hopkins, published an appeal on Friday to end the suffering in Ghouta. They urged citizens and health professionals to pressure government officials to act and for the U.N. Secretariat to use more effective tactics.

"Inaction in the face of unrelenting attacks on civilians represents an epic failure of world leaders," they write in The Lancet. "The UN Security Council has utterly failed the people of Syria. The UN Secretariat seems to operate without an effective strategy for political negotiations or aid delivery. These compounded failures are increasing frustrations with the UN as a legitimate interlocutor on human rights violations everywhere, and translate into deaths and suffering. We cannot allow this situation to continue."


Note: Same article as above but with different Headline and website.

U.N. Security Council Passes Syria Cease-Fire After Hundreds Killed In Bombing Siege Feb 24, 2018
_http://wamc.org/post/400000-peoplelive-hell-earth-bombing-damascus-suburbs-kills-hundreds
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION: British Media Publish Hoaxes on Syria (Photos - Photos - Video) Tuesday Feb. 27, 2018
https://en.insidesyriamc.com/2018/02/27/exclusive-investigation-british-media-publish-hoaxes-on-syria/

The Guardian article from February 6, 2018, titled “Biggest airstrikes in a year hit Syria after rebels shoot down Russian jet” claims that “Russian and Syrian jets have bombed up to 18 towns across north-west Syria, devastating civilian areas and forcing fresh waves of refugees to flee”. According to the journalists Martin Chulov and Kareem Shahee, a series of devastating airstrikes have been carried out in the northwest of Idlib province. “Nine people were treated for symptoms of chlorine exposure after a bomb was dropped on the town of Saraqeb by a helicopter”, they claim.

Inside Syria Media Center has tried to get to the bottom of the adequacy of this information and determine whether it is credible.

Fake No.1 Mission Impossible - According to The Guardian journalists, “as many as 150 airstrikes beginning on Sunday were recorded in 18 towns of Idlib province by Monday”. Trying to imagine the number of attacks carried out without interruption for 12 hours we came to the conclusion that Idlib Governorate, in the view of The Guardian, has suffered a saturation bombing. In fact, if these figures were accurate at least eight aircraft would have flown mission and dropped about 60 bombs at every town – based on an average maximum loading of eight FAB-500 general purpose bombs per one Su-25 jet.

At the same time, Business Insider reports that “the most recent satellite images of the Russian-operated Hmeimim air base in Syria show Moscow has 10 types of aircraft in the war-torn country, 33 jets in total and a smaller number of fixed-wing aircraft.” So, all the Russian aircraft are supposed to have taken off and landed 4 times, refueled, loaded weapons and once again set course for Idlib for the 12 hours.

If it really did happen, this military operation could be compared to the one-night air raid on London during WW2, which caused over, 500 deaths a night. But this has nothing in common with the casualties reported by The Guardian.

Besides, The Guardian’s figures vary substantially with those from other sources. Thus, The Washington Post referring to ВВС channel reported 25 airstrikes on 15 towns. It also claimed that about 20 militants in the area died in bombardment while The Guardian cited 300 people killed, mostly women and children.

Have analyzed Turkish mass media, we do not consider the Guardian’s ‘facts’ to be authentic. For example, Anadolu Agency reported on civilian casualties referring to White Helmets director in Idlib, Mustafa Haj Yusuf. This organization has already been involved in staging fake videos. Moreover, Turkish media claimed the only tragic case had happened in Masaran village with eight locals killed and about 40 wounded from Feb. 4 to Feb. 5, 2018. It was also reported that three mosques and a hospital had been destroyed in Maarat al-Numan without quoting the number of killed. So Guardian’s data on 300 civilians killed is also looking different.

Fake No.2 Has Termala actually been? - Covering the situation around Termala, The Guardian’s reporters refer to some monitoring groups. In our opinion, the source of this false information is the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Surprisingly, we have not found any photos or videos which could prove this airstrike. The Observatory’s representatives said Russian airstrikes had killed three people targeting the village of Termala in Idlib on February 6. This information was widely disseminated by the influential Western media like Anadolu and NYP. However, their data slightly varies. Some report three civilians deaths while others report five deaths.

Fake No.3 “Chemical explosion” - There is a particular interest in a new case of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. According to The Guardian, “nine people were treated for symptoms of chlorine exposure after a bomb was dropped on the town of Saraqeb by a helicopter.” However, some American sources like Business Insider say there were two bombs and 11 wounded. The Guardian’s journalists refer to the unnamed ‘medics’. This alleged fact causes major doubts because of several reasons.

First, we’ve analyzed the craters formed, according to locals, by the barrel bomb with chlorine gas dropped on Saraqeb.

The dispersion of soil fragments in craters doesn’t match with the barrel bomb drop. This is called a fragmentation effect. The detonating wave converts the shell and sends its fragments/splinters flying with high velocity in roughly three separate directions when the projectile reaches the surface and the explosive filler blows up.

The aperture of the craters formed and the amount of the splinters in them mostly depend on the shape and body of the shell, and also on the explosive filler inside. The directions of the splinters are affected by the velocity and the speed of rotation at the moment when the projectile explodes. Usually, the majority of the splinters are in the side cones (roughly 80 % of the splinters), and with the shells fired by cannons and howitzers, which have cylindrical projectiles, the aperture of the cone is usually between 40 – 50 degrees. The shells fired by mortars, are usually drop-shaped, giving the side cone an aperture of over 50 degrees. Below is the scheme of the dispersion of soil fragments.

The scheme shows that an artillery and mortar shell unlike a barrel bomb has a parabolic trajectory and coming in a shallow or a steep angle. At the same time, a vertically dropped barrel bomb has practically the similar dispersion of soil fragments in all the directions. The ammunition of different type and function can’t leave the same traces on the ground. (Videos)

We can see the craters of that kind which are equal to many others formed as a result of artillery or mortar shell. So, the video shows the mortar crater, not the barrel one. The crater is most likely to have been created due to the militant attack.

Second, Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) found out the location of the alleged attack. However, thoroughly looking at the older Google-maps pictures dated 01/10/16 we can assume that the craters had been formed long ago.

It is worth paying special attention to the use of chlorine effects radius. We can use the following formula to describe the process.
R = 2,52 √ Q/d,
Q=spread over materials (tons),
d= density (tons m-3).
The density can be measured on the basis of the bomb’s form appeared in the video. The bomb of such type was allegedly dropped on Saraqeb. We identified that the chemical warheads for this barrel bomb do not exceed 10 kilos. Consequently, two barrel bombs’ mass is less than 20 kilos.

The chloride density is d=0,001557 tons m-3. We can calculate the radius of possible damage using the formula: R =2,52*√0,02/0,001557=9 meters.

Thus, only the people standing around the epicenter could be wounded. The nearby houses couldn’t be ruined. Besides, the pictures of the bomb were taken in the different locations and not in the direct placement of the explosion. This fact can also confirm the falsification of The Guardian’s information.

The only house that could be affected is inhabited and half-constructed without roof and window-frames. The peak chlorine effects radius is laid down upon the map below. Moreover, the puddle of water inside the crater emerged after the rain. It gave us an idea to see weather forecasts in Saraqeb where the bomb had been allegedly dropped.

It turned out that a week before the video was posted on February 4, 2018, there had been no precipitations in Saraqeb. This proves that the video was made much earlier – for example, during the last rainfall on January 27, 2018.

The article was written by Syrians for Truth & Justice special report group allegedly provides evidence of a chemical attack and contains the statements by the supervisors of the so-called Aviation Observatory which monitors the movement of warplanes in Saraqeb skies. The officer said that a helicopter with a designation “Alpha 253” had taken off from al-Manjazrat School, located in Hama countryside at 9:00 pm on February 4, 2018, and headed towards the north of Syria.

That day the sun went down at 17:03 pm, so it was very dark at 9:00 pm, and according to the weather forecast, the sky was cloudy.

It is curious to find out how the representative of the so-called Aviation Observatory could see a helicopter and its designation.

Another issue concerns the reasonability of dropping two barrels of poisonous gas. What military task the Syrian president (if it was him) could seek to solve by giving an order to drop two barrel bombs of chlorine from the helicopter?

Chemical weapons are considered as weapons of mass destruction. Its use implies a massive loss of human life. Thus, in 1988, the using of chemical weapons in Halabja (Iraqi Kurdistan city) led to the death of five thousand people. We value every single life. However, taking into account only 11 victims, it cannot be called massive death.

So why the Syrian government needs to use chemical weapons if its amount cannot even kill? This quite differs from the narrative of the Western media that tries to present Assad as a bloodthirsty murderer.

By acting like this, the Syrian Arab Army would never drive ISIS out of the country or gain an advantage over the opposition. Such measures are ineffective but are good for a provocative act.

Shortly after this, the United States declared once again to the world community that it “would keep the right to launch attacks against Syria if it becomes necessary to prevent or stop the use of chemical weapons.” All this reminds of Khan Shaykhun incident and the U.S. missile strike on the Shayrat airbase.

In addition, it’s worth noting that we’ve never heard about the use of chemical weapons by Syrian troops against ISIS.

Fake No.4 “Destroyed Hospitals” - The Guardian also mentions Ahmad al-Dbis, the director of safety and security at the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM). He often makes public statements to The Guardian, The Telegraph, Reuters, Huffington Post, Der Spiegel, etc. His words are based on the statements of the White Helmets.

Nevertheless, we’ve found some more contradictions. One is “the fact” of an airstrike on the hospital in Kafr Nabl.

The analysis of the video of SMART opposition channel allows telling that the footages were taken at specially prepared places and from different angles as if the cameramen knew about the impending airstrikes and pre-selected positions for recording.

Here are the links to the videos:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzFAjvqC9uw&list=PLPC0Udeof3T4QmV4f9tEhDmQzr2Z_vTKZ&index=1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2a1eWc0xRqo&list=PLPC0Udeof3T4QmV4f9tEhDmQzr2Z_vTKZ&index=9

In addition, the hospital’s exterior questions the very fact of the medical personnel recently working in there. It looks like the hospital has been out of operation for a long time (since May 28, 2014.)

We have also found out that the hospital received most of the damage much earlier. In the course of the investigation, the media center stumbled upon other videos of hospital attacks in Kafr Nabl previously. In the video of the Syrian opposition YouTube channel Qasioun News Agency on March 25, 2017, you can see White Helmets volunteers putting out one of the single-story buildings on the territory of the hospital.

Near the building, we have found a burned diesel generator which previously supplied the hospital with electricity. The generator was destroyed by fire on March 25, 2017. The following video shows that the generator is out of order. Hence the hospital is out of operation since March 2017.

Apparently, the medical personnel left the building much earlier. The latest evidence that the hospital operates for its intended purpose is a video dated May 17, 2014.

On May 25, 2014, the hospital was attacked and partially destroyed. After that, it seems that it was occupied by militia groups that used the hospital building as their base. The video shows a special mound (1) that covers the windows; there are no windows in the entire building (2); there are grills (3) installed at the entrance and indoor; the defensive positions are based on the second floor (4). The hospital current state shows that there was a serious fight for the building, perhaps between local opposition groups. The walls have multiple bullets holes.

There are other burned buildings nearby that rather look like fortified positions of militants. Some of those buildings were seriously hit by artillery shells. Here is a small structure that has also been converted into a fire position after being partially destroyed.

The mentioned facts point out that Kafr Nabl hospital was already out of operation as of February 5 2018. Another curious detail is that an ambulance parked in front of the building has exactly the same location in each video dating from September 19, 2017.

The same ambulance is always parked in the same place in the video posted on September 19, 2017, and in the one dated February 5, 2018

Moreover, there is no fragment of glass around or in the vehicle which means that the ambulance, with no equipment inside the cabin, by the way, was more likely to have been damaged long before the strike cited by the Guardian.

Here’s another odd: rescuers are carrying out only two injured persons with no trace of dust on them. It means that these patients had been moved there to make a staged video about the aftermath of “an airstrike” on the hospital in February, 2018. The footage doesn’t show a real rescue operation through the hospital allegedly treats up to 200, 000 patients a year.

Thus, the claims about the hospital bombing are clearly a hoax. Speaking of the Maarat al-Numan hospital we can say that its interior also looks doubtful as there’s no wall damage while the hospital rooms and halls don’t seem to be used for treatment: many of them are full with trash and lack medical equipment.

Besides, one shot demonstrating the so-called bombing aftermath shows no material damage, dust or any other effect from an alleged air strike. And then, in other shots (2 min 12 sec) with the very same hospital after an “air strike”, the doors are pulled off and the building is damaged.

All this raises doubts about the veracity of information sourced from the director of safety and security at the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations Ahmad al-Dbis and the activist Hassan Mukhtar cited by the Guardian.

For instance, Hassan Mukhtar claims there are 300 civilian deaths in two cities without mentioning his sources. But the most unbelievable is that how “the activist” could get information on “600,000 refugees trying to find a safe haven towards the Turkish border” in such short period of time.

Summary - We’ve found out the following inconsistent facts, which are more likely to be concocted:
– The number of air strikes launched from Feb. 4 to Feb. 5, 2018, and the number of towns in Idlib province allegedly damaged due to the raids
– Information about civilian deaths in the village of Termala
– Data about a chemical attack on the town of Saraqeb
– Information about air strikes on the hospitals in Kafranbel and Maarat al-Numan
– The craters created by bombs
– Lack of warhead fragments in the craters

Based on the investigation, it comes clear that the largest Western media, like the Guardian, tried to cover a new provocative initiative concocted by the Syrian opposition and the White Helmets backed by the U.S. special services and their allies who seek to discredit the Assad government, Syria’s and Russia’s Air Forces.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Monday 9 April 2018 - ANALYSIS: Why would Israel strike a Syrian government airbase?
ANALYSIS: Why would Israel strike a Syrian government airbase?

In the dead of night, as Syrian civilians in Douma reeled from the effects of yet another chemical attack, an assault began on a government airbase just outside of Homs.

Fourteen fighters, including several Iranian troops, were killed in the attack on the Syrian Tiyan facility, also known as T4, on Monday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Forces from Russia and Iran, which are allies of the Syrian government, as well as personnel from Iranian-backed Hezbollah, are known to have had a presence at the base.

Moscow and Damascus say that Israel carried out the strike, something Israel has yet to say it did, although in the past it has admitted to carrying out attacks inside Syria.

Experts believe that the strike was less to do with events on the outskirts of Damascus - and more with Israel's desire to contain Iran. Here are three ideas behind that reasoning:

Leila al-Shami, the co-author of Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War, said that the attack was due to Israel's own internal security considerations rather than the massacre in Douma.

"Most of the time Israel has been involved [in Syria] it has been to do with their security priorities," she said. "Assad being in power has, by and large, been useful for Tel Aviv as it has been quiet on Israel's border.

"The Israelis have never had an agenda to see the fall of Assad, or support the Syrian people's calls for democracy. But I do believe it is concerned about Syria getting out of control, especially when the Syrian regime is being supported massively by Israel's enemy."

'This is nothing new' - In February, Israel said it launched multiple air strikes against air defences and Iranian targets inside Syria. Among the targets was the T4 airbase, after it said it had intercepted an Iranian drone on the Syria-Israel border.

A former Israeli security operative, who wished to remain anonymous, told MEE that a build-up of Iranian troops and weaponry is a "red line" for Israel.

"This air strike has nothing to do with the chemical attack, but if it is interpreted as such, then fine. Israel will benefit and be seen as the good guy," the operative told MEE.

"Israel has been bombing targets inside Syria throughout the civil war. This is nothing new. This base, in particular, is a hub for the Iranians. And for Israel, any build-up by Iran on its borders is an automatic red line."

The trilateral summit between Iran, Russia and Turkey in Ankara last week also raised the question of Iran possibly gaining further influence in the region.


Mehdi Beyad, a Middle East analyst who focuses on Middle Eastern geopolitics at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, believes the meeting helped solidify Iran's "strategic advantage" in the region.

"It's useful to see the strike in the context of the recent trilateral negotiations," Beyad said.

"Israel's strategic hopes of undermining a regional tilt towards Iran have been continually dashed, from relying on the US to relying on Russia to keep the balance of power in check."

Beyad said that Israel was now trying to address the deterioration of its strategic posture, and the consolidation of Iran's, through these sort of strikes.

"This strike, more than anything, is Israel's way of sending a message to Iran, and crucially, everyone else, that they are adamant to prevent the development of an Iranian military infrastructure in Syria."
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
02.05.2018 - Syria's Hama and Aleppo Bombed by Israel with US - Made Missiles - Reports
Syria's Hama and Aleppo Bombed by Israel With US-Made Missiles - Reports

According to reports by the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, 26 servicemen were killed in an airstrike on ammo depots in northern Syria on April 30. No country has claimed responsibility for the strike.

The Syrian Homs-based online media outlet Zaman al-Wasl has reported, citing unnamed military source, that US-made missiles were used by the Israeli air force in an airstrike that took place on April 30 in northern Syria. According to the source, the same type of missile has been used in previous Israeli strikes against the Arab country.

On April 30 reports started to surface that ammo depots in Hama and Aleppo were attacked in an air raid by an unknown power. Official Syrian sources haven't named any victims, but the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that 26 servicemen were killed, with many of them allegedly being Iranians. Iran has denied such reports, claiming that none of its military advisers stationed in Syria were killed.

The Israeli Defense Forces have refused to comment the allegations that Tel Aviv was behind the attack.

Relations between Israel and Iran have always been tense, with Tehran not recognizing Israel's right to exist. Israel claims that Iran has military forces in Syria that it intends to use against Israel. Tehran denies the allegations, claiming that it is only sending military advisors to the Arab Republic.

The Israeli air force conducted airstrikes against the Syrian T-4 airbase in February and April 2018. Tel Aviv announced that the strikes targeted "Iran's bases in Syria," which Tehran had allegedly been planning to use in order to attack Israel. Both Syria and Iran have slammed the attacks, saying that several Iranian military advisers had been killed in the strike in the beginning of April 2018.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Monday 14 May, 2018 - ‘Independent’ Syrian Observatory for Human Rights receives nearly £200k from UK – Peter Hitchens
‘Independent’ Syrian Observatory for Human Rights receives nearly £200k from UK – Peter Hitchens

The British government has given the self-described ‘impartial’ Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) £194,769.60 for a project to help fund “communications equipment and cameras,” according to journalist Peter Hitchens.

The Sunday Mail’s Hitchens, a regular critic of British foreign policy, tweeted on Sunday: “Boris Johnson's Foreign Office admits it gave £194,769.60 to the supposedly 'independent' Syrian Human Rights Observatory. How many other 'independent' bodies in the Syrian controversy aren't as 'independent' as they look?”


Peter Hitchens

@ClarkeMicah


Boris Johnson's Foreign Office admits it gave £194,769.60 to the supposedly 'independent' Syrian Human Rights Observatory. How many other 'independent' bodies in the Syrian controversy are'n't as 'independent' as they look?
http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2018/05/what-moral-standing-do-we-have-after-this-outrage-and-are-we-about-to-join-another-idiotic-war-like-.html …
3:04 PM - May 13, 2018

The SOHR declare on its website that it’s “not associated or linked to any political body.” Hitchens in his Sunday Mail blog asks: “Is Boris Johnson’s Foreign Office not a political body?” Hitchens appears to question the legitimacy of the relationship, in relation to the Syrian conflict “in which the British government clearly takes sides.”

Fellow Mail journalist and author of ‘Not the Chilcot Report,’ Peter Oborne has added that the “Syrian Observatory has been treated as a gold standard for information on Syria. Quoted by BBC all the time. Always described as independent.”



Peter Oborne @OborneTweets

Syrian Observatory has been treated as a gold standard for information on Syria. Quoted by BBC all the time. Always described as independent. Now we learn from Peter Hitchens it's funded by FCO.

Media Lens @medialens

Difficult to exaggerate the scale of this scandal. The Syrian Observatory is run by a clothes shop owner in Coventry who supports regime change in Syria. And yet it has become a key source for atrocity claims in Syria for corporate media across the globe http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-syria-idUKTRE7B71XG20111208 … https://twitter.com/ClarkeMicah/status/995741627040849920 …

3:58 AM - May 14, 2018

The group has come under criticism, being accused by some of being a tool of Western propaganda due to its location and lack of staff. Its operation is managed by one man in Coventry in the UK, Rami Abdurrahman, who fled Syria in 2000. He relies on a handful of Syrians to assist him in collating information from “more than 230 activists on the ground”, a network of people from his youth, reports New York Times.

Abdurrahman’s neutrality on the Syrian conflict came under fire when he told Reuters in 2011 he would return to Syria only “when Bashar al-Assad goes,” and according to CNN, was part of a delegation of Syrian opposition officials that met with the then-Foreign Secretary William Hague, that same year.

It’s not the only Syrian-focused human rights group to come under the spotlight with accusations of questionable neutrality because of UK government links. The White Helmets, officially known as the ‘Syria Civil Defence’ has also come under fire. Since 2011, the UK has provided the organization with £38.4m of funding, a freedom of information request has revealed, as reported in The Guardian.

The group operates in areas under the control of the Syrian opposition forces, including Islamist rebels such as Jaysh al-Islam, who controlled the city of Douma until recently, and the location of the latest alleged chemical weapons attack.

According to reports, Theresa May is preparing to increase funding to the White Helmets in response to media claims that President Donald Trump is to withdraw US support for the organization. In March, Trump froze a $200m (£148m) package of US aid to Syria, including money for the White Helmets.

The US President has said he would like to see his country relieve itself of military and humanitarian duties in Syria, calling on other countries to help fill the financial void to fund stabilizing and rebuilding projects in the country after the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), claims ABC news.

Addressing parliament on Wednesday, the UK PM said: “We do support them [the White Helmets], we will continue to support them and … the international development secretary will be looking at the level of support in the future.”

Two Syrian groups claim to be impartial, yet are happy to receive funding from the UK government who, as Hitchens says, are clearly taking sides on the Syrian conflict.

Omar Baggili, RT Journalist
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
Tue May 15, 2018 - Turkey-Backed Militants Continue Blackmailing Civilians, Looting People's Assets in Northern Syria
Farsnews

The Ankara-backed militant groups continued blackmailing civilians, expelling them from their residential units and looting their assets in Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo on Tuesday almost two months after the Turkish troops and allied militants occupied the town of Afrin.

Gunmen of Sultan Murat Brigade, affiliated to Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army, forced villagers in the village of Naza in Shera region to leave their homes.

In the meantime, a field source said that the Ankara-backed militants settled 20 families of Eastern Ghouta terrorists in the village of Kafr Jenah, adding that most of the villagers' assets and properties were looted by the Turkey-backed militants.

The source further said that even electrical cables have been stolen and a school in the village has been damaged by the Ankara forces.

Also, the militants captured a number of men that were Afrin residents near Tarnadeh checkpoint and later called on their families to pay ransom for their release.

In a similar development last month, the London-based pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said that the FSA militants started stealing and looting properties and assets of local people that were in Afrin region, adding that the FSA also was seizing assets of people that left the region after the start of Operation Olive Branch.

The SOHR further said that the FSA also embarked on accusing young people and men of fake crimes to detain and torture them.

Its went on to say that the FSA later called for a hefty amount of money as ransom to free the detainees.

The FSA has also embarked on expelling several families in Shera region in Northeastern Afrin, accusing them of affiliation with Kurdish fighters, the SOHR said, adding that the FSA is settling Eastern Ghouta terrorists in Afrin region after expelling the locals.
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
2018-07-13 - Airstrikes in east Deir Ezzor kill 54 people near Iraqi border
Airstrikes in east Deir Ezzor kill 54 people near Iraqi border

A number of airstrikes carried out over rural Deir Ezzor last night killed as many as 54 people, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) claimed.

According to SOHR report, the U.S. Coalition or Iraqi Air Force carried out targeted airstrikes over a town in eastern Deir Ezzor last night, killing at least 28 civilians and 26 Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists.


The incident occurred close to the border with Iraq, SOHR Director Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters on Friday, adding that Iraqis made up most of the civilian deaths.

The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State said it or its allies may have carried out air raids in the area, and it was investigating the alleged civilian deaths.

The pro-government National Defense Forces (NDF) said the attack was carried out by the U.S. Coalition over the town of Baghouz in east Deir Ezzor.

(2018-07-14 - Syria slams US Coalition for killing 30 civilians in east Deir Ezzor)
Syria slams US Coalition for killing 30 civilians in east Deir Ezzor
 

angelburst29

The Living Force
2018-09-30 - Faylaq Al-Sham begins withdrawal from Idlib buffer zone: monitor
Faylaq Al-Sham begins withdrawal from Idlib buffer zone: monitor

A large rebel group has begun withdrawing from the agreed upon buffer zone in the Idlib Governorate, today, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported.

According to the SOHR report, Faylaq Al-Sham “began pulling out of areas in the southern countryside of Aleppo and the western suburbs of Aleppo city with heavy weapons, including tanks and cannon.”

The SOHR report added that Faylaq Al-Sham has between 8,500 and 10,000 fighters, making them one of the largest groups in northern Syria.

On Saturday, one of Faylaq Al-Sham’s allies, Jaysh Al-Izza, announced that they would not be withdrawing from the buffer zone, adding that they reject the agreement because it favors the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies.

The reason it favors the Syrian Arab Army is because the buffer zone is not located inside any of the government’s territories in Aleppo, Latakia, Hama, and Idlib.


2018-09-30 - Faylaq Al-Sham says their forces have not withdrawn from Idlib buffer zone
Faylaq Al-Sham says their forces have not withdrawn from Idlib buffer zone

Faylaq Al-Sham released a statement this afternoon denying reports that their forces withdrew from the Idlib buffer zone.

The large rebel group said that their forces are still positioned at the front-lines in the Aleppo and Idlib governorates, adding that they have not agreed to withdraw.

Faylaq Al-Sham is one of the largest rebel groups in northwest Syria; they also make up a big portion of the new Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF).

Earlier today, their allies from Jaysh Al-Izza announced that their forces would not be withdrawing from the buffer zone because the agreement favors the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

Jaysh Al-Izza said that the buffer zone is completely within their territory, which means the Syrian Arab Army does not have to pull back their forces.
 
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