Russia Begins Operations in Syria: End Game for the US Empire?


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
For those who haven't seen this video yet.

BBC shill get's schooled by Syrians, pity she didn't visit the 'moderate rebel' area. They are far more understanding about her views, if you support the 'rebels' so much, do us all a favor and be sure to bring them a visit.

The Press is Lying About Syria, We Support President Bashar al Assad! (2:20 min


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
A group of Turkish soldiers has been detained on suspicions of assaulting and berating a quartet of young Syrians who attempted to illegally cross the border to Turkey.

Leaked Video Shows Turkish Soldiers Beating Syrian Refugees (VIDEO) (1:57 min.)

The incident attracted outrage online when unverified video footage surfaced showing four Turkish soldiers attacking the Syrian youths. The incident, which took place on Friday, July 28 according to the Turkish military, was allegedly filmed by one of the soldiers.

The two minute video shows the soldiers surrounding one of the Syrians, punching and kicking him and shouting "Why are you crying? Huh?! Why are you crying?"

"Will you come to Turkey again?" one of the soldiers asks, before they strike the Syrian multiple additional times. He screams in pain, but one of the soldiers yells "Shut up! Don't cry."

The Syrians don't reply to the soldiers' questions, as one Turk asks "Why did you bring the refugees in? Are you a smuggler?"

The video ends with footage of a Turkish soldier repeatedly kicking a Syrian, throwing him to the ground and repeatedly hitting him while he's down.

The soldier that filmed the footage allegedly sent it to a friend in Germany, whereupon it was leaked online.

The Turkish military has reprimanded the four soldiers in the video. "The personnel in question were taken into custody and all administrative and judicial procedures have been immediately started against them," they said in a statement on Sunday.

The Syrians were medically cleared and then deported back to Syria, the statement added. However, frictions between Turkey and Germany also showed in the military's statement, as they added that the footage leak was "an act carried out deliberately to weaken and harm Turkey and the Turkish Armed Forces."

The ending of the Central Intelligence Agency's covert bankrolling of Syrian insurgent groups has produced a truly bizarre development – a number of rebels have defected to President Bashar al-Assad's forces, in a clear demonstration of just how fundamental US taxpayer dollars were to the war.
If You Can't Beat Him: Syria 'Rebel' Fighters Defect to President Assad's Forces

A number of fighters hailing from the Revolution Commando Army — formerly the New Syrian Army — abandoned their posts and defected to the government side during the week commencing July 24.

The group not only received CIA funds, but was also trained by US special operations personnel, under the direction of Pentagon.

The Amazon Washington Post fabricated the facts on my ending massive, dangerous, and wasteful payments to Syrian rebels fighting Assad…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
CIA backing of the NSA/RCA was long-suspected — in 2016, observers noted fighters belonging to the group were equipped with US-made small arms and tactical terrain vehicles other rebel groups typically lacked — although it was only when US President Donald Trump canceled the program it was effectively officially confirmed.

Despite their apparent advantage, the group's performance in Syria was surely underwhelming from a US perspective — despite US air support, its fighters failed to recapture the Syrian city of Al-Bukamal from Daesh in July 2016. Then, Jennifer Cafarella of the Institute for the Study of War told wire services the army was "definitely not off to a good start."

The NSA subsequently collapsed in December that year, with many giving up the battle entirely — those who remained formed the RCA.

Officially, the policy of backing "rebel" groups in Syria was initiated under Barack Obama's administration in 2013, although there are suggestions it began far earlier.

The goal was to train at least 5,400 "moderate" (i.e. non-Islamist rebels) to fight Daesh, while also opposing the legitimate Assad government.

While not overtly acknowledged, the policy — and its grave failure — was well known in Washington for years prior to Trump's cessation. Senior US officers have testified to Congress that an undetermined number of rebels ended up absconding withUS military equipment and joining Islamist groups, including Daesh.

Furthermore, in September 2015 then-CENTCOM commander General Lloyd Austin told the US Senate Armed Services Committee half a billion dollars of funding for military training of Syrian rebels approved by Congress had only produced only four or five opposition troops in the field by that point.

Critics have suggested the real purpose of the program was not to defeat Daesh, but to topple the legitimate Syrian government of President Bashar Assad — and its existence motivated other anti-Assad forces, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council, Turkey and assorted jihadists the world over, to step up their own destabilization efforts.

Whatever the truth of the matter, continued US support for rebel groups in Syria effectively blocked any moves to the conflict in Syria constructively — despite the six-and-a-half year war ravaging the country and costing over 600,000 lives. Moreover, while wedded to the policy, the US was effectively precluded from seeking a negotiated resolution to the crisis.

However, Trump's decision to end the CIA support program breathed new life into the Syrian peace process.

The termination of CIA funding for the rebels is perhaps the final tree to fall in the once vast forest that blocked peace and reconstruction in Syria.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ceased all territorial claims in the country, and is pursuing a constructive and pragmatic policy of reconciliation and rapprochement with President Assad, and the Russian Federation, which has produced an effective ceasefire in most parts.

Moreover, the clash between Qatar and other members of the GCC has distracted the latter, in particular Saudi Arabia, from the Syrian crisis.

Internationally, leaders that support regime change in Syria are dwindling with every passing week.

That rebel forces are now defecting to the government they once violently opposed is surely the clearest indication yet that President Assad is set to stay in place as the country's leader.

US District Judge Justin Quackenbush has ruled a civil action brought against a pair of psychologists who designed and helped execute the Central Intelligence Agency's savage post-9/11 torture program should go ahead. If successful, it will mark the first time anyone connected with the policy has been prosecuted for their actions.
Judge Rules Psychologist Duo Who Designed CIA Torture Program Will Face Trial

The trial is set for September 5 — while the judge could have, but refused to rule immediately in favor of the suit — the decision is significant.

The accused — psychologist duo James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen — have repeatedly attempted to shut down the lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of two survivors of the program — Suleiman Abdullah Salim, Mohamed Ahmed Ben Soud, along with the family of Gul Rahman (who died from hypothermia in CIA custody in November 2002).

✔ ‎@wikileaks

Judge rules two psychologists, Mitchell and Jessen, who made millions as consultants for the CIA's torture program can face trial. 5:23 PM - Jul 28, 2017

​Most recently, on July 28, their defense team issued a shocking filing that sought to have the case dismissed on the basis Mitchell and Jessen "simply did business with the CIA pursuant to their contracts" — just as contractors to Nazi Germany did. Their reasoning is hinged on a legal principle that even if the pair played an integral part in the supply and use of torture methods, they had no influence over the CIA's decision to use them, and thus can't be held accountable. (Article continues.)


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
While the third zone of de-escalation in Syria is being set up in the northern cities of Homs, expert Boris Dolgov, in an interview with Radio Sputnik, said that although the de-escalation zones are a positive development for the country, they also carry certain risks.

How US Aims to Snatch 'Safe Zones in Syria From Under Damascus’s Control'

Representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry and moderate Syrian opposition reached an agreement during their meeting in Cairo on operations of the third de-escalation zone in Syria, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.

"According to the agreements, today, on August 3 at noon local time the units of military opposition and divisions of the Syrian government troops are fully ceasing fire from all types of weapons," Konashenkov said.

He further said that the Russian military police would set up on August 4 two border checkpoints and three observation posts in Syria’s Homs de-escalation zone.

The spokesman added that 84 settlements with a population of more than 147,000 people were in the zone.

A senior researcher of Arab and Islamic Studies of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Boris Dolgov, said on Radio Sputnik that the creation of de-escalation zones in Syria is a positive trend, but also includes certain risks.

“It should be noted that the very trend of creating de-escalation zones in Syria is a positive moment, especially in Homs which is an industrial and densely populated area. However, here it must be said that the de-escalation zones are actually turning into autonomous regions, creating their own authority, sometimes separated from the central one. It even creates isolated military formations, which, if the conflict continues, could lead to a split in Syria,” Dolgov said.

In particular, the analyst said that the zone of de-escalation in the southwest of Syria, created with the assistance of the US, could turn into an independent territory from Damascus.

“Here I will recall the statements that were made by the US side, in which it was stated that they are not going to transfer the zones of de-escalation to the control of the Damascus government, after these zones are created,” Dolgov said.

Nevertheless, he said that despite the presence of these risks, negotiations on the creation of de-escalation zones should certainly continue.

The success of these talks, first of all, lies in stopping the military actions and in curtailing the suffering of the peaceful population,” the analyst concluded.

According to Konashenkov, the Committee of National Justice, including representatives of the opposition and major ethnic, political and religious groups, will be set up in the Homs de-escalation zone to ensure its effectiveness.

Konashenkov also stressed that the cease-fire regime in the Homs zone, as in the other two zones, does not cover the militants of the Jabhat Fatah al Sham, formerly known as Nusra Front and Islamic State (both terrorist groups are banned in Russia).

The spokesman added that in accordance with the reached agreements, the moderate opposition took a commitment to push out from the zone all the units that have joined the aforementioned terrorist groups.

Militants from Mahavir as-Saura group, financed by the United States, surrendered to Syrian governmental forces, according to a source.
Dozens of US-Financed Syrian Militants Surrender to Pro-Damascus Forces - Source

Dozens of Syrian militants from Mahavir as-Saura group, financed by the United States, laid down their arms and surrendered to Syrian governmental forces, a source familiar with the matter told Sputnik Wednesday.

"Everyone who surrendered said that they did not want to fight wars against the [Syrian government's] army, they had joined Mahavir as-Saura for money given to them by the United States. And they were waiting for the moment to surrender," the source added.

The arms surrendered by the militants were manufactured in the United States and Russia, and were previously used by Syrian government forces, according to the source.

Mahavir as-Saura was formed as part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Syria's major opposition force, in December 2016 with financial support of the United States. The militants had undergone military training in Jordan supervised by specialists from the US-led coalition against Daesh terrorist group (outlawed in Russia). The majority of Mahavir as-Saura's activities took place in southern Syria.

The reports that the US-led coalition fighting the Daesh terror group (banned in Russia) is leaving the training base near At Tanf in Syria are baseless, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesperson told Sputnik on Thursday.
US-Led Coalition Dismisses Reports of Leaving Base Near Syria’s Al-Tanf

Local media reported on Wednesday that the United States was planning to leave the training base near the Iraqi border, and the Russian military would take over it.

These reports are unfounded," the spokesperson said. "The coalition controlled area within the established deconfliction zone near al-Tanf remains an important area in which coalition special operations forces train and equip, advise, assist, accompany and enable Vetted Syrian Opposition (VSO) groups."

The spokesperson added that the training helps such groups as the Maghawir al-Thawra (MaT) to fight Daesh in the Jordan-Syria-Iraq border area in south Syria.

In June, the coalition said it would not leave the al-Tanf garrison until Daesh is defeated.

Clashes between the predominately Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and terrorists affiliated to the Turkish army in Northern Aleppo led to the destruction of one of the bases of the latter group in the region.
Kurdish Forces Destroy Turkey-Affiliated Terrorists' Base in Aleppo

According to the Kurdish-language Hawar news, the Turkish army and its affiliated groups stationed in the village of Kaljabrin and the town of Mare'a targeted the positions of Kurdish forces in the village of Shiekh Issa and the town of Tal Rafat by artillery and mortar fire on Thursday.

Meantime, the Turkish spy planes flew above the villages and towns of al-Shahba region.

The Turkish forces also launched strikes against the villages of Samouqeh, Tal Maziq, Harbal and Tal Jihan.

The SDF forces, in response, attacked the terrorists' positions in the village of Kaljabrin with missiles, blowing up one of their bases.

In a relevant development on Sunday, several militants, backed up by the Turkish army, were injured in exchange of heavy fire with the SDF in Northern Aleppo.

Artillery units of the Turkish army and its militant allies in the villages of Kaljabrin and Mare'a shelled the SDF strongholds in the villages of Ein al-Daqnah and Ming in al-Shahba region in Northern Aleppo.

Hawar news further added that two Turkish spy planes flew over Ein Daqna and Ming following the artillery attacks on the villages.

The report also said that the militants' artillery units also targeted the towns of Tal Rifat, Sheikh Issa, Harbal, Samouqeh, Shahba dam, Tal Maziqa and Haliseh.

The Kurdish news outlet further said that the SDF carried out retaliatory attacks and pounded terrorists' positions, leaving three militants injured and a vehicle destroyed.

The Turkish army dispatched a large cargo of light weapons and ammunition to its affiliated terrorist groups in al-Bab city in Northern Aleppo.
The Turkish army dispatched a large cargo of light weapons and ammunition to its affiliated terrorist groups in al-Bab city in Northern Aleppo.

According to Hawar news, sources in al-Shahba region in Northern Aleppo reported that the cargo was sent through al-Ra'i border crossing towards the village of Sousian and then was transferred towards al-Bab region in Northern Aleppo on Wednesday.

The sources added that the cargo was delivered to several militant groups affiliated to Sultan Morad terrorist group.

Turkey sent its military into Syria in August last year to prop up local militias allied with Ankara against ISIL and Kurdish forces. The confrontation with Syrian Kurd militias, which Turkey considers an off-shoot of the Turkish-based militant movement Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), put Ankara at odds with the US.

In relevant remarks in May, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said the country is considering establishing a base near the Syrian city of al-Bab, which was the focus of Turkey’s cross-border operation against the ISIL terrorist group.

Veysi Kaynak said location of the base currently being considered by the Turkish General Staff is Aqil Hill, West of al-Bab.

The Turkish military established a temporary base at the strategic site after capturing it in February and has been considering turning it into something more permanent since.

Speaking after a trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kaynak added that Turkish military presence in the area has been reduced from 8,000 at the peak of the Operation Euphrates Shield to 1,500.

He added that Ankara is also selecting a location for an outpost, which would be used to monitor the situation in Idlib province, where a safe zone has been declared by Russia, Turkey and Iran. The move would improve Turkey’s border security, he said.

Reports said the US Congress is preparing several defense bills, the provisions of which would require the Department of Defense to violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia through the development of medium-range missiles banned under the accord.
Report: US Congress Pushes for Development of Missiles Banned Under INF Treaty

The Senate will debate the new version of the defense bill that would reportedly set aside $65 million and require the Pentagon to reintroduce missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometers (300–3,400 miles), The Senate will debate the new version of the defense bill that would reportedly set aside $65 million and require the Pentagon to reintroduce missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometers (300–3,400 miles),

The bill in the House of Representatives will point out that while the new missiles would be conventional, they, along with nuclear missiles, would still be considered banned under the nuclear disarmament agreement, according to Politico.

Advocates of the bill believe that the move would be a response to Russia's alleged violations of the bilateral accord.

Legal experts criticized the possible move, saying that Congress will exceed its power as it can only ratify the international treaties while talks on agreements and withdrawal from should be decided by the president.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
The agreements of the Russian Defense Ministry with the moderate Syrian opposition on the establishment of a third safe zone in Homs province will help to preserve Syria's unity and resolve the military conflict with political means, the vice president of the Academy for Geopolitical Studies, Konstantin Sokolov, told Sputnik.

New Agreement on Safe Zone is 'Success of Russian Diplomacy in Syria'

On July 31, representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry and moderate Syrian opposition reached an agreement on the establishment of a third de-escalation zone in Syria during their meeting in Cairo, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.

The spokesman added that 84 settlements with a population of more than 147,000 people were included in the zone.

"The reached agreements enable a search for a real political solution to the conflict. It is clear that the moderate opposition's attitude toward the legitimate central government is not very stable. The most important thing, however, is that there is no division of Syria in sight and that the country will retain its unity," Sokolov told Sputnik.

According to the analyst, the process of de-escalation of the Syrian conflict is embracing new regions and thus bringing closer the end to the civil war and peace in the country.

From my point of view, the process that has begun — and successfully continues — can be quite productive. This is the success of our diplomacy and Russia's actions in Syria in general," the expert concluded.

Earlier, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that the Russian military police would be tasked with ensuring that the opposing sides stay apart, monitoring the cease-fire, ensuring humanitarian aid and transport of the injured and the sick.

According to Konashenkov, the Committee of National Justice, including representatives of opposition and major ethnic, political and religious groups, will be set up in the Homs de-escalation zone to ensure its effectiveness.

Konashenkov stressed that the cease-fire regime in the Homs zone, as in the other two zones, did not cover the militants of Jabhat Fatah al Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra Front and Daesh.

Authorities of the northern Italian town of Vagli Sotto on Sunday unveiled a memorial commemorating Russian 1st Lt. Alexander Prokhorenko, who in 2016 called an airstrike upon himself in Syria after being surrounded by Daesh terrorists, Mario Puglia, the town's mayor, told Sputnik.
Monument to Russian Hero Who Died in Syria Unveiled in Italy

According to a person attending the ceremony, over 100 people, including local officials and residents, as well as Russian diplomats participated in the event.

"A two-meter [6.5 feet] statue depicts Prokhorenko in a helmet and with an automatic rifle, peering at skies waiting for the aircraft that should conduct an airstrike hitting the position. We are also planning to create three small copies of the monument that will be handed by the staff of the Russian diplomatic mission to the ambassador in Rome, to Russian President [Vladimir Putin] and to Prokhorenko's family," Puglia said.

The politician said that Italy appreciated the Russian policy in the struggle against the Islamic State (IS, outlawed in Russia) terrorist group and would be happy to pay tribute to the memory of the hero, who had chosen not to surrender to terrorists, but to die instead of it.

"All the world should be proud of his deed," Puglia added.

Senior Lieutenant Alexander Prokhorenko, 25, was killed in March 2016 during the battle to recapture the ancient Syrian city Palmyra from Daesh terrorists. He was directing a military aircraft to the targets near Palmyra during the anti-terror operation in Syria. While performing a reconnaissance mission he became surrounded by the enemy and instead of surrendering called in an airstrike on his position, taking down a number of enemy fighters with him. He was posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Russia by the presidential decree for his courage and bravery in a combat duty. Prokhorenko’s body was sent back home and buried in the village of Gorodki in Russia’s Orenburg Region.

Carla del Ponte, a member of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria, has announced she is quitting the body as no success has been achieved so far due to inaction of the UN Security Council.
UN Independent Commissioner of Inquiry on Syria Del Ponte Quits Blaming UNSC

"We have not achieved any success. I cannot be a member of the commission, which does not do anything… I am quitting this commission, which is not backed by any political will. I have no power as long as the [UN] Security Council does not take any action. We are powerless, there is no justice for Syria," del Ponte told the Swiss newspaper Blick.

According to the media outlet, del Ponte has already prepared her resignation letter.

According to del Ponte, all sides of the Syrian conflict are fighting on "the evil's side."

"The government of President Bashar Assad perpetrated horrible crimes against humanity and used chemical weapons. And the opposition is now consists of extremists and terrorists," del Ponted stressed.

The independent international commission of inquiry created in August 2011 brings together officials from different countries and seeks to investigate and record all violations of international law in the country under a mandate of the UN Human Rights Council.

Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney general, joined the commission in September 2012.

The Syrian authorities have repeatedly said that they had never used chemical weapons against civilians or terrorists, and that the nation's entire chemical arsenal had been destroyed under the supervision of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

The issue of the increase of the capacity of a US hazardous substances warehouse in southwestern Germany, which has provoked protests among activists, must be discussed on the federal level, according to Matthias Joa, a member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) activist group.
US Chemicals Warehouse Extension in Germany Must Be Discussed - Activist

The issue of the increase of the capacity of a US hazardous substances warehouse in southwestern Germany, which has provoked protests among activists, must be discussed on the federal level, Matthias Joa, a member of the Alternative for Germany (AfD) activist group, told Sputnik.

"The civil activists have paid the attention to the fact that various procedures have not been implemented. For example, the environmental compatibility has not been examined … We believe that it is not correct to make such a decision on the municipal level, and we would like to discuss it on the federal level" Joa said.

Up to 200 residents of Germany's southwestern Rhenish Palatinate region have created the initiative group struggling against the US plans to extend the capacity of the warehouse from 70 to 1,900 tonnes, which will become the largest US warehouse of toxic chemicals in Europe.

Since the US Defense Logistics Agency has filed the application for the warehouse capacity increase with the German region’s authorities, the local residents have submitted over 40 complaints expressing their concerns over the possible threat posed by the chemicals to the environment as well as the lack of transparency from the US side in listing accurately all the substances which would be stored at the site.

In their inquiries, the local activists criticize the lack of the technical maintenance as well as emergency planning as part of the warehouse expansion application. The residents are also concerned that the local fire brigade which is not subject to expansion will not have enough capacity in case of emergency.

"I doubt that the US Army fire service and fire services of nearby districts… will be able to cope with an emergency situation under the condition of a twenty-eightfold increase in the storage capacity. And of course, if the do not know exactly what is being kept there," Joa added.

Michael Gauly, head of the local administration in charge of construction, environment and recycling, said that the inquiries of the local activists will be discussed by the German authorities on various levels including the federal government.

The US hazardous substances warehouse, located between the towns of Lingenfeld and Germersheim, has been supplying the US Armed Forces across Europe with such chemicals as fuel additive and anti-icing substances since 2013.

US Navy officials have called off the search for missing crewmen who were aboard a Navy Osprey tiltrotor aircraft that crashed into the sea off the eastern coast of Australia on Saturday.
US Navy Calls Off Search for 3 US Marines Missing in Australian Crash

A rescue operation was launched for the three missing US Marines, after the Osprey aircraft in which they were traveling crashed into the ocean while attempting to land, according to

In suspending the rescue operation on Sunday, the US Navy switched to a recovery effort, according to the US Marine's Camp Butler in Japan, indicating that the missing Marines are not expected to be found alive.

The base camp statement added that the missing soldier's next of kin had been told of their deaths, and that Australia's defense forces were working with the US Navy to expand the recovery of wreckage and remains.

The MV-22 Osprey took off from the USS Bonhomme Richard, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship, on Saturday to conduct routine operations when it crashed. The Bonhomme Richard's rescue boats and aircraft immediately commenced search and rescue, and 23 out of the 26 Marines aboard were pulled from the water.

According to the Camp Butler statement, "Recovery and salvage operations can take several months to complete, but can be extended based on several environmental factors," cited by Stars and Stripes.

"The circumstances of the mishap are currently under investigation," the statement added, noting that, "no additional information available at this time."

Marise Payne, Australia's Defense Minister, stated that the Saturday crash took place in Shoalwater Bay on the Queensland coast, some 500 miles north of Brisbane.

"I can confirm no Australian Defence Force personnel were on board the aircraft," Payne said, cited by

A tilt-rotor Osprey aircraft takes off and lands like a helicopter, and, once airborne, pivots its wings to fly like an ordinary propellor airplane. The aircraft have been involved in several high-profile accidents in recent years.

A US Osprey crashed in a 2015 training exercise in Hawaii, killing two Marines. In December 2016, another Osprey crash near the US airbase on Japan's southern island of Okinawa and five crew members were rescued safely. In January of this year, three US soldiers in Yemen were wounded following a "hard landing" by an Osprey.

The Pentagon has paid another $39 million for repairs of the parts of the controversial V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
US Navy Orders Nearly $39M More Repairs on V-22 Osprey Tilt-Rotor Aircraft

"Bell Boeing Joint Program Office, California, Maryland is being awarded [a] $38.8 million… contract for repair of various parts on the V-22 aircraft," the announcement stated on Thursday.

The V-22 Osprey flies farther and faster than traditional helicopters, overcoming traditional combat theater challenges.

The aircraft’s high speeds allow for rapid rescue of downed pilots and its longer range would allow for seamless fleet repositioning in a prospective Asia-Pacific theater.

However, the V-22 has had at least seven hull-loss accidents resulting in at least 36 fatalities. Thirty fatalities occurred during testing between 1991 and 2000, and at least six other fatalities occurred in combat after the craft became operational in 2007.

The Department of Defense said that the US Navy has awarded Bell-Boeing a more than $57 million contract to retrofit of one MV-22 in support of the aircraft’s readiness and modernization program.
US Navy Pays $57Mln for Single Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey Tilt Rotor

The US Navy has awarded Bell-Boeing a more than $57 million contract to retrofit of one MV-22 in support of the aircraft’s readiness and modernization program, the Department of Defense said in a press release.

"Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office [in] Amarillo, Texas is being awarded [a] $57,107,283… contract for… the retrofit of one MV-22 aircraft in support of the V-22 Common Configuration-Readiness and Modernization (CC-RAM) Program," the release stated on Thursday.

The MV-22 Block C upgrade incorporates weather radar, an improved environmental control system, troop commander situational awareness display, upgraded standby flight instrument and GPS repeater and additional chaff/flare equipment, according to published reports.

In mid-April, the US Navy ordered another $38.8 million worth of repairs on different parts of the controversial V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. However, the V-22 has had at least seven hull-loss accidents resulting in at least 36 fatalities.

The US high-speed reconnaissance helicopter S-97 Raider of Sikorsky Aircraft made a hard landing during a recent test flight. The development of the fifth generation helicopter has been ongoing since 2008 and has cost over $200 million. Is the cost and effort justified in this far from perfect new aviation project?
Hard Landing: How New US S-97 Military Chopper Failed to Impress (VIDEO) (0:46 min.)

The timing of the release of the S-97 keeps getting postponed and it is not clear when it will be finally put into production. But one thing is clear: the recent test flight has pushed the production date further away.

During the test flight at a Florida airfield, Sikorsky Aircraft's multipurpose high-speed reconnaissance helicopter S-97 Raider began to drastically lose altitude and performed a hard landing. At the time of the accident the chassis of the helicopter were closed.

The pilots allegedly did not suffer any injuries, however so far there is no information about the helicopter's damage and the reasons for the accident.

At the initial stages of its development, representatives of Sikorsky Aircraft stated that the S-97 with two pilots and six passengers on board would be able to reach a cruising speed of 426 kph and a maximum range of 1300 km.

The company began assembling the prototype in 2012 and planned to complete the work in mid-2013 with flight tests scheduled for 2014.

However, the first flight of the prototype of the US high-speed helicopter took place one year later than it was scheduled and the ambitious plans of the engineers did not get realized because during the first test flight the S-97 was able to develop a cruising speed of just 407 kph.

Expensive Piece of Technology - The S-97 Raider is by far not the first expensive development that US creators of military equipment cannot bring to realization.

The most expensive US combat system was the fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bomber. The program for its creation was estimated at $1.5 trillion. Despite the astronomical costs, the plane continues to reveal a number of issues.

In September 2016, the fighter-bomber caught fire during the launch of an engine at the US Air Force Base Mountain Home in Idaho. After that incident, the US Air Force was forced to temporarily suspend flights of 10 of its bombers.

Another expensive US military investment was the heavy F-22 fighter. The plane became the world’s first serial fifth-generation fighter, however US military pilots are still wary of flying it.

From 2008 to 2016, at least 25 cases of the oxygen system failure in the F-22 were recorded. In 2015, F-22 flights were suspended for five months, but the reason for this failure remains unknown to the public.

Image maintaining efforts - Military expert Alexei Leonkov in an interview with RT said that in the pursuit of the title of leader in the list of countries capable of creating revolutionary developments, the United States is increasingly showing the world its unfinished technology.

“Recently, it has become a sort of tendency for new developments in the US military aviation industry that expensive samples after being released into the series, turn out to be unfinished and have to be modified. They project wishful thinking, creating a lot of hype and PR around it. But in fact, it turns out that the claimed technological breakthrough does not happen,” Leonkov said.

According to Leonkov, the cause of these issues with new military developments lies in the human factor. In the 60s, 70s and 80s corporations of the US military-industrial complex employed highly qualified specialists but since then this industry has faced a shortage of good specialists.

Military expert Yuriy Kotenok also expressed a similar point of view. He believes that in order to create a truly revolutionary technology today highly qualified specialists in the military-industrial complex who can finish the product are necessary.

“Thanks to the Russian genius of the Sikorsky helicopter industry, the US, of course, got some head start in helicopter construction. This played a cruel joke on them. They got relaxed and now they face a lot of problems both during tests and when machines are put into mass production,” the expert said in an interview with RT.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
While this post is not directly related to Syria's struggle. I think it is nice to know how Putin may be coping with all the stress.

I just ran across this article that may explain how he is staying sane.

Putin goes fishing: How was the Russian president’s catch?
The Kremlin released video and pictures on Saturday, August 5, of Russian President Vladimir Putin taking part in a three-day fishing and hunting trip in southern Siberia.

Footage showing the 64-year-old spear-fishing, swimming and sunbathing alongside Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu in the republic of Tyva on the Mongolian border.

Mr Putin, who is also a fan of martial arts and ice hockey, has previously released publicity videos showing his outdoor skills.

The videos have previously helped his popularity ratings in Russia with this trip coming eight months before Russia’s presidential election next March, although Mr Putin has yet to announce his candidacy

“He went hunting underwater with a mask and snorkel … The president chased after one pike for two hours, there was no way he could shoot it, but in the end, he got what he wanted,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday (August 4).

Maybe Trump would be better off taking up more outdoor activities and martial arts training? :huh: :cool: :cool2:


The Living Force
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US-led coalition used banned white phosphorus on civilians in Syria – Damascus to UN

The Syrian foreign ministry has, in correspondence to the United Nations, accused the US-led coalition of new atrocities against its civilians. It includes an attack on hospital in Raqqa and the use of "internationally banned white phosphorus munitions" against the Syrian people.

Renewing its calls to "immediately dissolve" the coalition which Damascus considers illegitimate, the ministry wrote two letters; one addressed to the UN Secretary General and the other to the Chairman of the UN Security Council, Syria's state news agency SANA reported Sunday.

Citing the ministry statement, the report said the military alliance led by Washington had bombed residential neighborhoods and civilian houses, as well as destroying a national hospital in Raqqa, where the coalition is extensively backing the fight against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group.

Damascus also claimed the coalition had violated international humanitarian law by deploying white phosphorus munitions in its attacks which targeted "innocent Syrian people in the provinces of Raqqa, Hasaka, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and other Syrian cities," SANA reported.

Such actions represent war crimes and crimes against humanity, the agency cited the ministry as saying in its communication to the UN.

"Syria renews its call to immediately dissolve the coalition which was established outside the framework of the UN and without requesting permission from the Syrian government," the statement added.

Responding to the allegations, the coalition said it "routinely conducts strikes" on IS terrorists in Raqqa and also uses white phosphorus in its operations, the US Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) acknowledged in an emailed statement to RT.

However, its deployment of the weapons is not against international norms, the joint task force claimed.

"In accordance with the law of armed conflict white phosphorus rounds are used for screening, obscuring, and marking in a way that fully considers the possible incidental effects on civilians and civilian structures," the CJTF–OIR statement read.

It added that allegations of civilian casualties are being assessed and will be published in a monthly civilian casualty report.

On Saturday, a new series of attacks by the US-led coalition resulted in more civilian deaths in Raqqa, SANA reported. At least 43 civilians were reportedly killed and dozens more injured after airstrikes hit residential neighborhoods in the Syrian city, the news agency said. Mostly women, children and the elderly were among the victims, SANA added.

In its latest assessment of civilian casualties from airstrikes in Iraq and Syria released earlier this week, the US-led coalition claimed 624 people were "unintentionally killed" since the start of the campaign against IS in the region in 2014.

However, the UK-based Airwars group which monitors airstrikes and civilian casualties in Iraq, Libya and Syria based on open-source reports and military figures, contradict this claim. It suggests the civilian death toll in the bombing campaign is much higher. Data collated by the group indicates that more than 4,350 civilians have been killed in US-led military operations since June 2014.


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A CIA whistleblower and ex-Marine Corps captain are among the outspoken leaders of a campaign to stop the US bombing of Syria before a “nuclear apocalypse” erupts out of the conflict with Russia.

‘No US warplanes over Syria’: Congress & Pentagon hit with 68k petition signatures

The National Press Club in Washington, DC on Tuesday hosted a conference of five speakers opposed, morally and legally, to US intervention in Syria, especially the use of US warplanes and drones. Their presser centered around a petition addressed to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Congress.

Matthew Hoh, a former Marine captain who later became the top civilian representative in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, before resigning in 2009 in protest of former President Barack Obama’s “surge” of the war there, warned that much more is at stake in Syria than simply violations of international law.

“We are on the brink with a war with Russia,” Hoh said, noting that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had at least invited Russia’s military into the country.

Russia and the US both have warplanes flying missions against the Islamic State, but their definitions of what constitutes a “terrorist” differs, when US-backed so-called moderate Syrian rebels are targeted.

Author and activist David Swanson went further than the others on the panel, calling Assad an “exiled dictator” who had no right to call in any foreign country to conduct a war. Swanson held nothing back in condemning the US as well, however.

Since World War II, the United States has interfered, as we know, in at least 82 foreign elections, though not in the bad Russian way presumably,” Swanson quipped, “and bombed over 30 countries.”

“No one appointed the US to this role,” he added. “This is not enforcing law, this is violating law, so it has to end.”

Norman Solomon, executive director of Institute for Public Accuracy and coordinator for, agreed that the US’s bombing of Syria risks unintended consequences.

What is at stake includes the very real possibility that conflicts in the air could escalate into military clashes between Russia and the United States that could spiral into nuclear warfare,” he said.

Solomon also told RT America’s Anya Parampil that politics should be set aside in matters of preventing nuclear war.

“It doesn’t matter if people like or hate Trump, like or hate Putin,” he said. “We have one planet, we have thousands of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of each of those countries, and it is in some sense insane to believe that there’s something ethical about escalating the tensions.”

Those Americans who are aware of the potential peril must make themselves heard, Solomon said, and he added that US involvement in Syria amounts to “an almost invisible war” for most Americans.

CIA torture whistleblower John Kiriakou remained open to the US having some say in Syrian matters, but only through diplomatic means.

“The only way to save that country from becoming a failed state or an ISIS state, is to sit at the table with all of the stakeholders, including the Syrians, the Russians, and whether we like it or not, the Iranians,” he said.

The petition, which was launched over a month ago, surpassed its goal of 60,000 signatures. By Tuesday evening, the count was at 68,643. The message to Pentagon chief James Mattis and Congress reads: “We urge you to immediately remove all US military planes from Syrian skies and keep them out of that country's airspace.”


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angelburst29 said:
A CIA whistleblower and ex-Marine Corps captain are among the outspoken leaders of a campaign to stop the US bombing of Syria before a “nuclear apocalypse” erupts out of the conflict with Russia.

‘No US warplanes over Syria’: Congress & Pentagon hit with 68k petition signatures

The National Press Club in Washington, DC on Tuesday hosted a conference of five speakers opposed, morally and legally, to US intervention in Syria, especially the use of US warplanes and drones. Their presser centered around a petition addressed to Defense Secretary James Mattis and Congress.

Matthew Hoh, a former Marine captain who later became the top civilian representative in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, before resigning in 2009 in protest of former President Barack Obama’s “surge” of the war there, warned that much more is at stake in Syria than simply violations of international law.

“We are on the brink with a war with Russia,” Hoh said, noting that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had at least invited Russia’s military into the country.
Notice that the petition is addressed to Congress, the Pentagon and Pentagon chief James Mattis and not to President Trump. That says "volumes", as to, who's behind the war-drums and manipulating events.

One of the petitioners, former Marine Captain Matthew Hoh was stationed in Afghanistan. Recently, a report came out stating the U.S. had 100,000 troops and advisors in Iraq/Afghanistan, not 5000 - as claimed.

The Pentagon claims that in 2016, the number of American Troops in Iraq numbered around 5000. Military Times, through the Freedom of Information Act have discovered - the amount to be closer to 100,000 American personnel.

Operations in Iraq more extensive than officials let on (Video - 1:36 min.)
And ... as if 100,000 plus American military wasn't enough, US Senator Lindsey Graham wants an additional 3 to 4000 more troops and air power.

US Can Turn Tide of Afghan War With 3,000 Extra Troops, More Air Power - Senator

The United States can turn the tide of the war in Afghanistan with just 3,000 to 4,000 additional troops and boosted air capacity, US Senator Lindsey Graham said on Thursday.

If we do not listen to General McMaster and people like him, who have been fighting this war for 15 years, and adapt our policies, we're going to fail in Afghanistan," Graham said.
Graham's side kick, U.S. Senator John McCain is only "too happy" to help out? So, "why the push" for additional troops and air support?

McCain Vows to Add Afghan Strategy to US Defense Bill if Trump Fails to Do it

On July 14, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the US Defense Department was close to completing its policy review for a new strategy in Afghanistan.
Media reports later said that Trump was unsatisfied with the strategies presented to him and sent them back.

"I urge the President to… decide on a policy and strategy that can achieve our national security interests in Afghanistan and the region," McCain said. "If the President fails to do this by the time the Senate takes up the defense authorization bill in September, I will offer an amendment to that legislation, which will provide such a strategy."
Why the sudden increase in US-led coalition forces using "internationally banned white phosphorus munitions" in Syria and targeting civilians?

Quote from: Ant22
US-led coalition used banned white phosphorus on civilians in Syria – Damascus to UN

The Syrian foreign ministry has, in correspondence to the United Nations, accused the US-led coalition of new atrocities against its civilians. It includes an attack on hospital in Raqqa and the use of "internationally banned white phosphorus munitions" against the Syrian people.

Renewing its calls to "immediately dissolve" the coalition which Damascus considers illegitimate, the ministry wrote two letters; one addressed to the UN Secretary General and the other to the Chairman of the UN Security Council, Syria's state news agency SANA reported Sunday.
And why does the Pentagon - need to "expand" it's chemical warehouse on German territory - from 70 to 1,900 tonnes, making it - the largest US warehouse of toxic chemicals in Europe?

US Chemicals Warehouse Extension in Germany Must Be Discussed - Activist

Up to 200 residents of Germany's southwestern Rhenish Palatinate region have created the initiative group struggling against the US plans to extend the capacity of the warehouse from 70 to 1,900 tonnes, which will become the largest US warehouse of toxic chemicals in Europe.

Since the US Defense Logistics Agency has filed the application for the warehouse capacity increase with the German region’s authorities, the local residents have submitted over 40 complaints expressing their concerns over the possible threat posed by the chemicals to the environment as well as the lack of transparency from the US side in listing accurately all the substances which would be stored at the site.
What is the Pentagon's reason in establishing eleven (11) illegal permanently manned installations within Syria and then instructing US news outlets - not to reprint the information after Turkey spills the beans? Isn't 11 bases "excessive" and why hide the information from the US public?

Pentagon Establishes Ten Illegal US Military Bases in Northern Syria

Turkey’s state-owned Anadolu news agency has publicized the locations of 10 US bases in northern Syria, many of them previously unknown to the wider public.

Pentagon has asked US outlets not to reprint the information published by Anadolu and claimed doing so would endanger lives of US soldiers.

Along with the base at Al-Tanf the US now has at least 11 permanently manned installations on the territory of Syria — all of them illegal.
Some new toys to decorate the bases.

US Army Dispatches More Armored Vehicles to Syria's Raqqa

The photos and videos were uploaded by Syrian Kurdish activists who are known affiliates of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Sputnik reported.

The vehicles included Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, Mine-Resistant All Terrain Vehicles (M-ATVs) and armored bulldozers, the report said. The weapons were mounted on the backs of flatbed trucks and were filmed passing through Qamishli, 170 miles Northeast of Raqqa city, it added. ​All three vehicle types were previously mentioned in Pentagon reports as assets being supplied to SDF fighters.
Is the bilaterally agreement - just agreed upon between the Syrian and Russian governments, a protective counter measurement against the illegal intrusion and build up of U.S. collation forces (and possibly - Turkey) in preparation for a direct confrontation?

Russia’s military to remain in Syria for another 49 years

The proposal for the long-term deployment of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria has been approved by the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia.

The now in-effect protocol, bilaterally agreed on by the governments of the Russian Federation and the Syrian Arab Republic, will grant the Russian air group in Syria a 49-year deployment period via permanent bases within the country.

The protocol gives the Russian military forces in Syria the right to continue to carry out comprehensive activities throughout the country as granted to them by the Damascus government. The 49-year lease also has the option for being extended by another 25 years.
Is VP Pence - preparing NATO allies for coordinated attacks in "a First-strike" invasion of Syria - to reach Russian Borders and ultimately invade Russia?

US VP Visits Estonia to Reassure NATO Members over Russia

Pence, who will hold talks with Estonian officials on Sunday and Monday, will also visit Georgia and Montenegro later on during his trip, presstv reported.

In recent months, Estonia and fellow Baltic states Latvia and Lithuania have been reportedly frightened by Russia's frequent military drills near the region as well as the rejoining of Crimea to Russia after it broke free from Ukraine.

Pence will also meet Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and Lithuanian and Latvian leaders, Dalia Grybauskaite and Rajmonds Vejonis, in Tallinn.

The American official is also slated to visit troops from the Enhanced Forward Presence program, under which NATO has sent four battalions to the Baltic states and Poland to strengthen the Western defense alliance's Eastern flank.
In August 2008, Georgia launched a military offensive against South Ossetia and partially destroyed its capital. Russia sent troops to South Ossetia trying to protect local residents, many of whom had Russian citizenship. After five days of hostilities, Russia managed to expel Georgian troops from the breakaway region. In late August, Russia recognized independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In the early 1990s, Abkhazia and South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia. NATO and the Pentagon are busy in Georgia. VP Pence just made a visit on his tour.

Putin visited Abkhazia on August 8 that coincided with the anniversary of the 2008 Russo-Georgian war.

US Considers Putin's Visit to Abkhazia 'Inappropriate' - State Department

The United States considers the recent visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Abkhazia to be inappropriate, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a press release.

She added that the US fully supports Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and rejects Russia's recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The United States views the visit of President Putin to the Russian occupied Georgian territory of Abkhazia as inappropriate and inconsistent with the principles underlying the Geneva International Discussions, to which Russia is a party," Nauert said on Wednesday.

"The United States urges Russia to withdraw its forces to pre-war positions per the 2008 ceasefire agreement and reverse its recognition of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia," Nauert said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Abkhazia August 8, provoking condemnation from Western leaders - a NATO spokesperson said the visit was "detrimental" to efforts to find a "peaceful, negotiated" settlement in the region. The provocative nature of Western actions - both diplomatic and military - in states bordering Russia was unacknowledged.

NATO Slams Putin Visit to Abkhazia While Goading Russia in Eastern Europe

"President Putin's visit — on the ninth anniversary of the armed conflict — is detrimental to international efforts to find a peaceful and negotiated settlement," the NATO spokesperson said.

Moreover, it is perhaps ironic Putin's visit was excoriated by NATO, given US Vice President arrived in Tbilisi a mere week prior, offering strong affirmation of US support for the country's sovereignty, and stating that under President Donald Trump's administration, the US would object to "any claim at any time by any nation" that undermines the "enduring" principle of territorial integrity.

Western leaders are a common sight in Georgia. US and EU representatives flocked to the capital as the country waged war on its tiny neighbors in 2008, offering effusive support. Moreover, NATO's drive to immerse Georgia into its folds has seen the military alliance dispatch mouthpieces at frequent intervals ever since the country was first promised NATO membership during the bloc's 2008 summit in Bucharest.
Is all the media attention focused in North Korea's direction, with the back and forth verbal confrontations "a diversion" by the Pentagon while it tries to manipulate the new South Korean President Moon Jae-in to accept more THAAD Missile Systems - to protect the Pentagon's new $11 billion base in S.K.?

New $11bn US Base Opens in S. Korea

The US military inaugurated an $11 billion base in South Korea, boasting it as an small American city serving as new headquarters that no longer lies within the range of North Korean artillery fire, and expected to house over 45,000 service members, contractors and their dependents.

“We built an entire city from scratch,” Colonel Scott W. Mueller, garrison commander of Camp Humphreys, said as quoted in a Washington Post article on Saturday, , pointing out that the new 3,454-acre base represented “one of the US military’s largest overseas construction projects.” The base also holds four schools, five churches, a range of fast-food chain restaurants, a grocery store and a golf course.
Is the timing and prompting of this petition to address the U.S. Congress and Pentagon's push to side step and violate a 1987 INF Treaty with Russia?

Report: US Congress Pushes for Development of Missiles Banned Under INF Treaty

Reports said the US Congress is preparing several defense bills, the provisions of which would require the Department of Defense to violate the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with Russia through the development of medium-range missiles banned under the accord.

The Senate will debate the new version of the defense bill that would reportedly set aside $65 million and require the Pentagon to reintroduce missiles with a range of 500-5,500 kilometers (300–3,400 miles).

The bill in the House of Representatives will point out that while the new missiles would be conventional, they, along with nuclear missiles, would still be considered banned under the nuclear disarmament agreement, according to Politico.

Legal experts criticized the possible move, saying that Congress will exceed its power as it can only ratify the international treaties while talks on agreements and withdrawal from should be decided by the president.


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Murakhovsky: New US base notwithstanding, the Black Sea can no longer be turned into a NATO Lake

In late July, the construction of the Operations Center for a US military base on the Ukrainian coast. The base will be located in Ochakov in the Mykolayiv region. This is one of three construction projects carried out by the 1st mobile construction battalion of the US Navy in the Ukrainian Navy Ochakovo Base, where the 5th surface ship brigade of the Ukrainian Navy now officially is based. Earlier it was reported that the US is also going to supply Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine for about $ 50 million.

Pravda asked Victor Murakhovsky to comment on the situation. He is editor-in-chief of the journal Arsenal of the Fatherland, a member of the expert council of the board of the Military-Industrial Commission of the Russian Federation, and a reserve colonel.

- The Pentagon is building a military base in Ochakov. In your opinion, what are the global goals they are pursuing?

- The United States is everywhere trying to establish its presence, supposedly temporary, but, in fact, forever. We see this on the example of the base in Kosovo. This facility came in like a peacekeeping operation, but as a result this base turned into one of the largest in Europe. Now it is used for the transit of weapons and people to different regions, and Europe, and the Middle East, and so on. Therefore, even here, in the guise of the need to improve security during the annual exercises that NATO is carrying out with the participation of Ukraine, the Americans are trying to gain a foothold in a region that is of great interest to them. The United States is especially worried that the Russian inter-agency group is deployed on the Crimean Peninsula.

- That is, the Americans have failed with the Crimea, so they are struggling to catch on the Ukrainian Black Sea coast?

- Yes exactly. With the Crimea they have a failure, now they want to take revenge. In my opinion, the statement that this facility is being built to ensure joint action during the annual exercises is a cover for the purpose of information noise. It is possible that the center in Ochakov will be used by Americans to conduct reconnaissance. Firstly, radio engineering and cyber intelligence. All this is done in order to try to observe the situation in the Crimea and in the whole water area of the Black Sea.

- Is it likely that in the operational center of the Navy at the Ukrainian naval base the a base of Seal Teams will be located?

- I think that Americans will not do this on a permanent basis. There is no military meaning in this.

- How in general can the appearance of the Navy center at the Ukrainian naval base in Ochakov affect the situation in the region?

- Most of the Black Sea countries are now members of NATO. For us it was once friendly Bulgaria, once friendly Romania, Greece, as well as Turkey. These are all NATO countries. They tried at the time to include Ukraine in this process, so that the Black Sea would become an internal NATO lake. Now the situation in the military-strategic plan has radically changed. We demonstrated this during the operation in Syria.

And the fact that Crimea is part of Russia completely excludes the possibility of converting the Black Sea into a territory controlled by NATO.

* In June, over 20 Russian ships appeared to be 20 miles inland, while at sea
* Experts suggest that this was due to Russia testing a GPS spoofing system
* Such a system could be used by hackers to misdirect autonomous vehicles
* And if used by state operators, it could cause huge ships to collide
Is Russia developing a GPS spoofing system? Ships in the Black Sea may have been misdirected by a new cyber weapon, experts claim

Last month, the US Maritime Administration filed a bizarre report, in which at least 20 Russian ships appeared on trackers to be in the same spot 20 miles (32 kilometres) inland, despite being at various positions in the Black Sea.

While this initially appeared to be a glitch, experts now suggest that Russia may have been testing a new system for spoofing GPS.

If this is the case, it could be a worrying first step towards electronic warfare in which movements can't be traced.

The report was filed by the US Maritime Administration after the master of a ship off the coast of Russia discovered that his GPS had put him in the wrong spot. _

And after contacting other ships nearby, the captain discovered that the same issue had affected at least 30 other ships.

Speaking to New Scientist, experts have said that they think the incident is the first documented use of GPS misdirection.

Previous studies have suggested that the biggest threat to GPS is jamming, in which the satellite signal is masked with noise. But while this can be an issue, it is very easy to detect – unlike spoofing.

David Last, former president of the UK's Royal Institute of Navigation told New Scientist: 'Jamming just causes the receiver to die, spoofing causes the receiver to lie.' Other experts have been warning of such a threat for years.

In 2013, Dr Tod Humphreys, an associate professor in robotics at the University of Texas at Austin showed that a yacht could be lured off-course by GPS spoofing. Dr Humphreys said: 'The receiver's behaviour in the Black Sea incident was much like during the controlled attacks my team conducted.' Dr Humphreys suggests that Russia has been testing out a new form of electronic warfare.

Since 2016, phone apps, including Pokemon Go, have been mysteriously redirecting users from the Kremlin to Vnukovo Airport, 20 miles (32 kilometres away). And it seems that GPS spoofing has now extended beyond the Kremlin.

While Dr Humphreys' GPS spoofing system was technically very difficult to create, he says that more modern versions could easily be built with commercial hardware and software easily accessible online.

The amount of power needed for GPS spoofing is also not very high, and Dr Humphreys predicts that a transmitter would need just one-watt of power. And as GPS spoofing systems become easier to make, Dr Humphreys highlights that any hacker could make their own version. This could allow hackers to carry out a range of dangerous tasks, including diverting driverless cars or drones, or even hijacking ships.

The biggest threat, however, is GPS spoofing in the hands of a state operator, according to Dr Humphreys.

He said: 'It affects safety-of-life operations over a large area. In congested waters with poor weather, such as the English Channel, it would likely cause great confusion, and probably collisions. 'My gut feeling is that this is a test of a system which will be used in anger at some other time.'

Defense expert have warned that the multi-billion-dollar US missile systems may not be capable of defending the country against possible missile attacks, as the war of words is escalating between Washington and Pyongyang.
US missile systems not accurately tested against real threats: Report

In a report, Reuters cited defense experts as saying that the purportedly successful tests that the Pentagon conducted earlier do not accurately simulate the real wartime conditions, despite spending $40 billion over research and development within a period of 18 years.

On May 30, the US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) conducted 10 successful tests out of 18 attempts of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system.

The GMD is a network of radars, anti-ballistic missiles and other equipment aimed at protecting the US from intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

While the GMD tests took place in daytime to intercept a single missile, experts say the conditions do not match scenarios for possible missile attacks from North Korea.

In an interview with Reuters published on Thursday, Riki Ellison, the chairman of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, stressed that the GMD needs more strenuous tests against threats such as multiple warheads that use devices to confuse missile defense systems.

Physicist Laura Grego, who studies missile defense at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says the publicly available data cannot confirm the Pentagon's assessment that the GMD worked effectively under realistic testing conditions.

The latest test failed to consider the possibility of Pyongyang using complex countermeasures and decoys to confuse the anti-ballistic missile's "kill vehicle."

Kill vehicle pops off the top of the defending missile above the earth's atmosphere and tracks and destroys the warhead of the attacking missile.

Decoys and countermeasures confuse the kill vehicle to make it target the wrong object and allow the real warhead pass toward its objective.

The Pentagon plans to conduct the next GMT test in 2018 which aims to intercept multiple inbound warheads, instead of a single one.

The debates over the effectiveness of the US missile system come against the backdrop of an exchange of threats between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

An engine malfunction forced a US fighter pilot to eject from his aircraft during an emergency landing at Bahrain International Airport. The pilot had taken off from a US supercarrier in the Gulf before the incident on Saturday.
US fighter jet makes crash landing at Bahrain airport (PHOTOS)

Delays were reported by passengers at the airport following the incident. Images corroborated by show the F/A-18E next to the runway tipped on to one wing.

Breaking; just a few minutes ago a US-navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet has made a crash landing on runway 30 in Bahrain. Photos taken from the lounge at the main airport terminal, it shows the aircraft made a crash landing that left a long trail of debris along the runway and ended up on the side with the stabilators and landing gear apparently heavily damaged. Nobody seems to be injured fortunately, but the airport is closed for now. #news #crash #avgeek #aviationnews #aviation #flight #flying #aircraft #breaking #f18 #usnavy #aviationphoto #instaphoto #instanews #instadaily #instagramaviation @instagramaviation
The aircraft had planned to divert to Sheik Isa Airbase following the malfunction. When this could not be accomplished it made the landing instead at Bahrain International Airport, the US Navy’s 5th fleet said in a statement.

“Due to the malfunction, the aircraft could not be stopped on the runway and the pilot ejected from the aircraft as it departed the runway,” the statement said. Bahrain’s Ministry of Transport and Communications confirmed the incident, saying no injuries occurred.

For the second time in just over a year, the Marine Corps ordered all of the branch's aircraft to suspend flight operations for a 24-hour “operational reset” following two deadly aviation accidents in recent weeks.
Marine Corps orders 24-hour grounding of flights for all aircraft following deadly crashes

In a press release issued Friday General Robert Neller, Commandant of the US Marine Corps, directed all US Marine Corps aviation units to “conduct an operational reset for a 24 hour-period.”

The operational pause will affect all Marine Corps aircraft, including those stationed abroad as well as deployed units. However, officials said that “no operational commitments will be impacted” during the pause.

All units were directed to conduct the temporary pause over the next two weeks, but each unit commander was given the flexibility to carry out the pause at their own discretion, “based on their unit's operational commitments.”

Marine Corps spokesman Captain Christopher Harrison told USNI News that commanders of the deployed squadrons will be given an extension if the pause would cause them to sacrifice their operational obligations.

Neller ordered the pause in order to conduct a refresher course “on the fundamentals of safe flight operations, standardization, and combat readiness.”

“The intent is for flying squadrons to review selected incidents which occurred enterprise-wide and study historical examples of completed investigations in order to bring awareness and best practices to the fleet,” officials said in the press release.

The pause comes in the weeks after two major Marine Corps aviation accidents resulted in the loss of nearly 20 lives. Last week, three Marines died when a tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft crashed off the coast of Australia during a training mission.

In July, a KC-130T crashed in Mississippi after a transport mission, resulting in the death of 15 Marines and one Navy corpsman.

Harrison told USNI News that the Marines will study completed investigations and previous mishaps in order to “ensure all air wing Marines and sailors are informed of incidents happening across the enterprise and ensure they don’t happen again.”

On Friday, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said that the Marines’ decision to ground all aircraft is
“further, indisputable evidence that America’s military is in a readiness crisis, and that the crisis is costing lives.” “Washington has asked our military to do too much with too little for too long,” Thornberry said, according to the Marine Times. “As threats continue to grow, Congress must act as soon as possible to provide our military with all of the resources they need to repair what can be fixed and replace what cannot be repaired.”

The last time the Marine Corps ordered a 24-hour operational pause was in August 2016, after three F/A-18 Hornets with Marine pilots crashed in the span of two months. Two of those crashes were fatal.

Okinawa gov't sues Japan over US Marines base (6:21 min.)

Published on Jul 26, 2017 - The Japanese prefecture of Okinawa filed a new lawsuit against the government demanding a halt to construction work for the relocation of the US Futenma base, local media report. The relocation has been the target of protests among locals. Steve Rabson, professor of East Asian Studies at Brown University, joins RT America's Anya Parampil to talk about it.

On Guam, Resistance Grows to U.S. Military Presence as N. Korea Threatens Missiles Off Island Coast (24:46 min.)

The front page of Guam’s Pacific Daily News reads "14 Minutes!" That’s how long it would take missiles fired from North Korea to reach the U.S. territory in the western Pacific if there is an escalation of the threat of nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea. On Thursday, Trump again threatened North Korea, saying if it were to carry out an attack on Guam, the U.S. would retaliate with military action. The Pentagon controls about a third of all the land on Guam, which is home to 163,000 people and a sprawling complex of U.S. military bases, including the Air Force base where many of the United States’ B-2 bombers take off from before flying over the Korean Peninsula. For decades, residents of Guam have resisted the militarization and colonization of their homeland by the United States, which has now put them in the crosshairs of a possible nuclear war between the U.S. and North Korea. We go to Guam to speak with LisaLinda Natividad, president of the Guahan Coalition for Peace and Justice and a member of the Guam Commission on Decolonization, and with David Vine, author of "Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World."

There is ample evidence that American diplomats in various countries are leading the actions of the local opposition, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at the forum "Territory of Meanings."
Lavrov: the US stirs the broth, then seasons it with whatever they deem necessary

"Anywhere, in any country - in Eastern Europe, in Central Europe - the US embassy literally runs the processes, including the actions of the opposition," he said.

According to the minister, there are many Russians working at the US Embassy in Moscow. "According to the Vienna Convention, if you receive personnel in a country where you have an embassy, ​​this personnel can only be technical - drivers, typists, stenographers." They have no right to engage in diplomatic activities, including political aspects," the Foreign Minister explained.

Nevertheless, he stressed, the Russian side often identified cases when employees of the US embassy from among those hired in Russia traveled to regions, conducted population surveys - for example, on the attitude towards a governor or the federal center.

"In such situations, we simply politely ask our American colleagues to break off official relations with these people. Everything is allowable for them, in the first place and second, they have it in their blood, " Lavrov said.

He noted that not a single "color revolution" made a better life for people in the countries where they occurred, both in the territory of the former USSR and in other parts of the world. "I think that the experience of the last decade, 15 years, shows that the peoples themselves are beginning to understand this more and more" the minister explained.

"The Americans have such a philosophy: it is necessary to create tension, showing that they are working with the opposition." This is a miniature theory of controlled chaos - the more it bubbles, the more it is more convenient for them to look at this broth and season it with what they consider necessary, " Lavrov said.

The forum participants asked the minister whether to wait for US intervention in the presidential elections in Russia in 2018.

"I hope that after all the unfounded accusations in our address, and not a single fact was presented during those nine or ten months that Washington has been saying about our interference in these elections, the very sharpness of this topic for the American establishment will make them think again", - concluded Lavrov.

Around 200,000 US troops are stationed in 177 countries throughout the world. The forces use several hundred bases, more than 1,000 if the figure includes overseas warehouse and installations. The US may need more soon, with its presence and involvement in armed conflicts on the rise.
US Military Presence Overseas Mushrooming: Here, There and Everywhere

It was reported on August 7 that the Pentagon plans to conduct airstrikes on Islamic State (IS) in the Philippines. This move will be part of the effort to rout IS militants who occupied Marawi, a city in the south of the Philippines, in May, prompting President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in the entire southern region of Mindanao and ask the US for help. In June, the Joint Special Operations Task Force Trident joined the battle.

Just three days before that (on August 4), it was reported by the Pentagon that a Special Operations Forces (SOF) team was deployed to Yemen to support the ongoing United Arab Emirates (UAE) operation against the Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terror group. The amphibious assault ship Bataan with several hundred Marines aboard is also operating in the region. Close-air support missions in the current offensive against AQAP are not ruled out.

On August 7, the US was also reported to be sending dozens more Marines to Helmand Province in southwestern Afghanistan. Army Gen. John Nicholson as the US commander in that country has been lobbying for 3,000 to 5,000 troops in addition to the 8,400 US service members already on the ground.

In June, the US increased the size of its special operations advisory force embedded with the Syrian Democratic Forces as the group prepared its invasion of Raqqa, Syria. Around 1,000 US service members are believed to be operating there.

The SOF play a special role to implement the «here, there and everywhere» policy. In 2016, the US SOF teams conducted missions in 138 countries - roughly 70 percent of the nations on the planet. The Special Operations Command is tasked with carrying out 12 core missions. Last year, US SOF were deployed to 32 African nations, about 60 percent of the countries on the continent. Navy SEALs, Green Berets, and other special operators are now conducting nearly 100 missions across 20 African countries at any given time. They are deployed in Libya - the country, which has its future uncertain after the 2011 US-led NATO involvement.

The US war footprint grows in the Middle East with no endgame in sight. In his remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Donald Trump said that the last 15 years of US military action in the Middle East had been an almost incomprehensible waste of money – six trillion dollars – and that after all that US war and meddling the region was actually in a worse shape than before the operations were launched. So, the policy was wrong, the president understands that and…keeps on doing the very same thing on a larger scale!

The presence in Europe is on the rise. Troops are being deployed to countries they had no presence in before, such as Norway and Estonia. It’s not forces only but also the costly logistics infrastructure. The military wants more large-scale exercises in Europe to further boost the presence and expand infrastructure there. During his recent foreign trip, Vice President Mike Pence said the US Air Force would deploy twice as many jets during the Russian exercise Zapad-2017 to be held in September.

The US military is calling for even greater presence in Europe. Air Force Brigadier General John Healy, the director of US exercises in Europe, says he wants one comprehensive training maneuver would be crucial in testing NATO's preparedness for a global showdown with Russia. As he put it, «What we're eventually going toward is a globally integrated exercise program so that we (are) ... all working off the same sheet of music in one combined global exercise». The military leader believes the exercise should encompass all domains of war – land, sea, air, space and cyber and involve all nine US combatant commands.

Under President Trump, drone strikes worldwide grew 432 percent as of mid-March. Civilian death toll is significant in Iraq and Syria as a result of US bombardment.

A war with Iran appears to be imminent. An attack against North Korea is on the cards. There is a plan to spend $8 billion on bulking up the US presence in the Asia-Pacific region over the next five years by upgrading military infrastructure, conducting additional exercises and deploying more forces and ships.

All these facts make one recall the events that took place just a few months ago. President Trump said he would avoid interventions in foreign conflicts. Instead of investing in wars, he would spend money to build up America's aging roads, bridges and airports. But there was a loophole. He promised to stay away from all other conflicts except Islamic State militancy.

Everybody thought he meant only airstrikes in the Middle East. Now it looks like the president meant the other regions as well. The Islamic State is present in Afghanistan and Africa. The IS terrorists have recently staged a terrorist act in Iran. They take responsibility for terrorist attacks in Europe. Jihadists operate in Russia and Central Asia. Their presence is menacing in the Asia-Pacific region. They are almost everywhere to serve as a pretext for US invasions or war preparations in almost any corner of the globe.

The United States in actually one way or another involved in all hot spots on the world map. No doubt, it will expand the involvement in the Philippines, Somalia, Afghanistan, Yemen, and boost the naval and air force presence in the Asia Pacific to oppose China – a move not related to the IS by any stretch of imagination as well as the beefing up of forces in Europe.

So, it’s Europe, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa! It feels like the United States is always at war or preparing for a war somewhere. Yemen on August 4, the Philippines on August 7, perhaps some other place a few days later, you never know what to expect. It’s like the «perpetual war for perpetual peace» described by Charles Beard.

No matter how high the military expenditure is, the US military is doomed to be stretched thin until the policy is not changed. One cannot square the circle or embrace the boundless. The nation has a huge national debt. If the enemy is the Islamic State than the intelligence and military efforts should be concentrated on the mission to strike the group, not a number of tall orders to be accomplished by and large at the very same time.

With one mission accomplished, the US could review the priorities. The thing is - it will never be accomplished because the IS is not only militants, but rather the ideology that drives them. This evil cannot be defeated by the people in uniform alone. But that’s a different story to talk about in another article. Anyway, stretching the resources thin is not an effective policy. The United States will be following two hares catching neither instead of setting the priorities straight and focusing on what is the primary mission.


The Living Force
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A rebel group claimed it has shot down a Syrian fighter jet in the Syrian Desert while on combat mission.

US-backed rebels shoots down Syrian Army warplane

Osoud al-Shaqiyah, a rebel group backed by the US, said the MIG-21 jet fighter of the Syrian Army Air Force was downed in the eastern countryside of Swaida province in southern Syria.

According to the group’s account on social media, the rebels are now on search of the pilot who managed to eject before the plane crashed.

The Syrian pilot that was shot down over the southeastern countryside of Al-Sweida has been captured by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants in the area.
Syrian pilot captured by FSA militants near Jordanian border

Opposition media activists released the picture of the captured pilot, confirming he survived the crash after he bailed out near the Jordanian border.

The pilot’s name and rank have not yet been released by the Syrian military and will likely not be known for several hours. More details to come…

The mountainous region at Lebanon's border with Syria has almost been cleaned up of terrorists after Saraya Ahle Shame retreated from three main regions in Eastern Arsal following an evacuation deal with Hezbollah Resistance Movement, field sources reported Monday.
Vast Parts of Heights at Lebanon's Border with Syria Cleaned up of Terrorists

The sources confirmed that the Lebanon-Syria border heights have been partially emptied of terrorists after 395 militants of Saraya Ahle Sham along with their family members left positions in the regions of al-Malahi, Wadi Hamid and Wadi al-Ajram East of Arsal.

The sources also said that almost 1,000 gunmen, who refused to leave Arsal region for Syria, handed over their arms and equipment and returned the town of Arsal to the Lebanese army monitoring.

The Lebanese army is to kick off a large-scale anti-ISIL operation to purge the region of terrorists as soon as evacuation of gunmen and their family members in Arsal is completed.

Earlier reports said that Saraya Ahle Sham terrorists restarted retreat from the heights at Lebanon's border with Syria to Al-Qalamoun region in Damascus province under an evacuation deal with Hezbollah Resistance Movement.

A sum of 40 buses evacuated militants of Saraya Ahle Sham and their family members from Eastern Arsal to Eastern Qalamoun.

14 ambulances are accompanying the convoy of vehicles.

The gunmen and their family members are to be transferred to Syria's Fliteh region and later move towards al-Rahibeh in Eastern Qalamoun.

Over ten ISIL terrorists, including two senior commanders, have been killed in popular uprising in Southeastern Deir Ezzur, local sources reported on Tuesday.
Emirs of ISIL Terrorist Group Killed in Popular Uprising in Eastern Syria

The sources said that a number of youth attacked ISIL's centers in the towns of al-Mayadeen and Albu Kamal, killing Jadallah Abdul Ra'ouf and Ziyad al-Noubi, two Egyptian emirs of ISIL.

Also, a group of youth attacked a military vehicle of ISIL along the road connecting Albu Kamal to Hasibeh, destroying the vehicle and killing three terrorists. Another group of residents of al-Kataf region stormed ISIL's center near the old water treatment plant in Albu Kamal, killing seven ISIL terrorists, including four non-Syrian.

The sources went on to say that a group of ISIL terrorists along with their commander, Yusuf al-Marhoun, fled the region after the army took control over the town of al-Sukhnah in Eastern Homs and their advances towards Deir Ezzur.

Relevant reports said on Monday that the army soldiers engaged in fierce clashes with ISIL along the road connecting the village of al-Baqaliyeh to Panorama base in Deir Ezzur outskirts, killing a number of terrorists and destroying their military equipment.

A number of terrorists, including two senior commanders of Al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) were killed in bloody clashes with Jeish al-Islam terrorists.
Two Al-Nusra Commanders Killed in Clashes with Rival Terrorists in Eastern Damascus

A number of terrorists, including Abdul Rahman Sakhar Mahareb and Abdul Rahman Walid Rabi'a, two commanders of Al-Nusra, were killed in bloody battle between Jeish al-Islam and rival terrorists of Al-Nusra and Faylaq al-Rahman in the town of Beir Sawa, al-Ash'ari and al-Aftaris farms.

Field reports said that Jeish al-Islam imposed control over farms near the town of Beit Sawa after driving rival terrorists out of the farms.

Jeish al-Islam said in a statement on Monday that Reza Hariri, a notorious field commander of the terrorist group, was killed in a booby-trapped car bomb blast in Eastern Ghouta.

Jeish al-Islam terrorist group, in its statement, blamed Al-Nusra Front for the death of Hariri, nom de guerre Abu Abdullah 200 who was the commander of the sixth brigade of the group in region.

A news website affiliated to terrorist groups reported on Tuesday that militants in the Northern parts of Syria's Homs province have reached an agreement with the Russian delegation over ceasefire within the framework of a de-escalation zone.
Russian Delegation, Militants Reach Agreement on Ceasefire in De-Escalation Zone in Northern Homs

The website reported that representatives of the Negotiation Committee in Northern Homs held talks with the Russian delegation in the small town of al-Mohayedah near the town of Dar al-Kabireh and concluded an agreement. It added that the committee and the Russian delegation will hold new sessions to prepare a draft for a new agreement.

The website went on to say that both sides underlined commitment to ceasefire in de-escalation zone and ease of dispatch of UN aid convoys in al-Mohayedah agreement.

It further said that release of all the captives are atop the agenda of the al-Mohayedah agreement, adding several meeting will be held in coming days to assess the trend of the implementation of the agreement.

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) detained members of a terrorist group who have been plotting suicide bomber attacks in Moscow.
Russian FSB Detains ISIL-Linked Terrorists Plotting Suicide Attacks in Moscow

According to the FSB, the terrorist attacks were being prepared under the guidance of a Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) emissary from Syria, Sputnik reported.

In the course of an initial investigation it was established that "terrorist attacks' plots were organized by the leaders and emissaries of Daesh terrorist group in Syria." Those detained plotted terrorist attacks on Moscow's transport infrastructure and large marketplaces, the FSB said.

"Members of the terrorist group were detained, including the curator of the preparation of the crime — an emissary of Daesh, an explosive device maker and two suicide bombers," the FSB added.

A laboratory for the production of explosives, IEDs have been found and neutralized on Moscow's outskirts during a special operation.

The group of terrorists detained in the Moscow region comprises 3 nationals of Central Asian states and 1 Russian national.


The Living Force
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Syrian War Report – August 17, 2017: Iran Builds Long-Range Missile Factory In Syria

Government forces, led by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) captured more points north of the Sunbul gas station in the Ayn Tarma area in eastern Damascus. The advance came amid intense shelling of Faylaq al-Rahman positions in Ayn Tarma and Jobar conducted by the SAA 4th Armoured Division with “Volcano” and “Golan” heavy rockets.

Faylaq al-Rahman claimed that its members killed 17 SAA troops and damaged an SAA T-72AV battle tank in the recent clashes and once again accused the government forces of using chlorine gas in the area.

The chemical weapons usage accusations are a common part of PR strategy of any anti-government forces around Syria. The accusations have become especially frequent after the US missile strike on the Syrian Air Force’s Shayrat Air Base that followed the incident at Khan Shaykhun.

In Homs province, the SAA Tiger Forces liberated a gas station southwest of the Kawm oasis and advanced on the Minshar Mount and the nearby village of Taybah. Meanwhile, the SAA and its allies advanced against ISIS north of the Shair Mount. Both of the advances are a part of the wider SAA effort aimed at establishing control over entirety of eastern Homs which should create a foothold for further advance on Deir Ezzor.

The Israeli media reported that Iran is building a facility in northwest Syria to manufacture long-range missiles and showed satellite images allegedly depicting the site under construction. The images show an alleged missile factory near Baniyas which appears to be identical to Iranian factories built in Tehran. The construction on the site allegedly started last year and is expected to be finished by the end of 2017.

Earlier reports appeared that Iran was allegedly building subterranean weapons factories for Hezbollah in Lebanon. At least one of the factories was reportedly located near Hermel in the eastern Bekaa Valley and was used to produce Fateh-110 medium-range missiles.

If reports are confirmed, this will be just another indication of the growing Iranian influence in the region. Success of the Russian-Iranian-Syrian operations against ISIS and al-Qaeda are one of the reasons behind this progress.

Last week Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again stated Iran was strengthening its foothold in Syria as ISIS was losing ground in the country. He added that Israel was watching developments and would act against any threat to Israel’s security.

On Wednesday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry accused the US and the UK of supplying toxic agents to terrorists based on evidence found in Aleppo and a Damascus suburb. Sputnik Radio spoke with political scientist Dr. Kevin Barrett about the significance of this discovery and whether it could become a turning point in the Syrian conflict.
'History Will Show It Was the US That Introduced Chemical Weapons' to Syrian War

According to Syria's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the toxic agents found in Aleppo and a Damascus suburb were produced by one British company and two American companies. A corresponding statement was made by Syrian Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Faisal Mekdad during a press conference in Damascus.

He said that the riot control weapons discovered were limited to hand and rocket-propelled grenades which had been fitted with irritating toxic agents. The chemical ammunition had been produced by the US-based company Federal Laboratories, and toxic agents were produced by Cherming Defence (UK) and NonLethal Technologies (US).

Sputnik Radio discussed the issue with Dr. Kevin Barrett, a Doctor of Arabic and Islamic Studies and the co-founder of the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for Truth, who said that this discovery could be extremely important in exonerating the Syrian government of the accusations that they used chemical weapons against their own people.

"I am not going to hold my breath until the international community becomes honest about this whole issue, but in the long run, history will show that it actually has been elements of the so-called Syrian rebels and their foreign backers, including the US, that have been guilty of introducing chemical weapons into this conflict," he added. (Article continues.)

The US strikes in Syria without investigation prove that Idlib chemical attack was staged, Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad said on Wednesday during a press briefing in Damascus.
Lack of Investigation Into US Strikes in Syria Proves Idlib Attack Was Staged

US missile strike on a Syrian airfield three days after a chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun in April indicates that the strike was planned ahead of time and the chemical attack was staged, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told journalists.

Based on the fabricated facts of the terrorists who said that the Syria Arab Army was guilty of a chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, the United States immediately conducted a missile strike [at the Syrian governmental military airfield in Ash Sha’irat on April 7], even before the investigation began. They made the decision in advance, and this indicates that the attack was staged," he said.

The Syrian leadership will provide all necessary conditions for the work of the commission investigating the circumstances of the chemical attack in Idlib, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told reporters in Damascus.

The team to investigate the circumstances of the chemical attack will arrive in Damascus in the coming days. The Syrian government will ensure all conditions for its work," Mekdad said.

Damascus called on the UN Security Council to "stop the US-led coalition's crimes against Syrian citizens," a statement issued by the Syrian Foreign Ministry said.
Syria Calls on UN to 'Stop US-Led Coalition's Crimes' in the Country

"Syria calls again on the UN Security Council to fulfill its obligations for the sake of peace and security, and to stop the crimes of the US-led coalition against Syrian citizens," the document read.

In the statement released by the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Damascus once again accused the coalition of using white phosphorus, prohibited by international convention, to destroy infrastructure and kill civilians.

"[These actions] have become systematic. The coalition neglects the basics of international law, international humanitarian law and human rights," the statement said.


The Living Force
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The reestablishment of local authorities in Syrian settlements covered by agreed safe zones will be the next step toward national reconciliation, Deputy Commander of the Russian military contingent in Syria Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko has said.

Return of Local Authorities to Syria Safe Zones Next Step Toward Peace

The general's address aired by the Syrian state television was the first public speech by a member of Russia's Syrian reconciliation center since it was set up in Latakia in February last year. In his speech, Kuralenko called on Syrians to fight together against terrorism.

Russia is supporting the policy of national reconciliation in Syria. The dialogue between the opposition and the lawful government as part of the deals on de-escalation zones have given Syrians hope that violence in Syria will stop. The reinstallment of local authorities in the inhabited areas included in the de-escalation zones will be the next stage of the national reconciliation," Kuralenko said Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, Kuralenko also proposed to establish local reconciliation committees in Syria’s de-escalation zones comprising members of government and armed opposition.

More and more members of Syria's so-called moderate opposition are saying they are ready to engage in a political dialogue, the deputy chief of the Russian military in Syria has said.
Syrian Moderate Opposition Warming Up to Idea of Political Dialogue

Today when the Syrian territory is being liberated from terror groups, more and more members of the opposition are understanding the need for the end of the civil conflict and launching the political settlement," Lt. Gen. Sergei Kuralenko said in a televised address to Syrians on Thursday.

"In these areas hostilities have been ceased, Syrians are getting humanitarian aid, the reconstruction of roads has been started, conditions for refugees returning to their homes are being created. Monitoring posts manned by the Russian military police are being created around the de-escalation zones to rule out provocations of terrorists and to control the ceasefire regime," Kuralenko said.

The US-led coalition in Syria must be dissolved because forces backed by Washington have killed innocent people and destroyed vital civilian infrastructure in violation of numerous UN resolutions, Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari said in a letter to the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council president on Thursday.
Syrian Envoy to UN Calls for 'Prompt' Dissolution of US-Led Coalition

The letter accused coalition forces of killing innocent civilians while destroying hospitals, schools and infrastructure, and also interfering with anti-terror operations by rival groups.

"The Syrian Arab Republic once again calls on the States members of the coalition to distance themselves from the crimes that the coalition has committed in their name, and promptly to dissolve the coalition," Jaafari stated.

A military-diplomatic source in the International Syria Support Group task forces revealed that Russia has found an active regrouping of al-Nusra Front (Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at or the Levant Liberation Board) forces in Syria.
Source: Russia Notes Regrouping of Al-Nusra Front Forces in Syria

The military-diplomatic source within the ISSG task force said Moscow is also noting the flow of radical members of the militants to this terrorist organization, Sputnik reported.

The source added that the moves come as the terror grouping is trying to take over control of main border crossings with Turkey.

"Lately, an active regrouping of al-Nusra Front forces was noted, as well as the flow of radical members of the armed opposition to this terrorist organization," the source said.

"This endangers the general situation in Syria, as it strengthens terrorists’ positions. They are carrying out active actions to establish control over financing sources and are trying to take control of main border crossings with Turkey," the source concluded.

Tens of terrorists who were transferred to Idlib upon a recent agreement with the government asked for receiving amnesty to return to Damascus.
Tens of Terrorists in Idlib Demand Gov't Amnesty to Return to Damascus

Informed sources reported that tens of militants and a number of their family members who had left al-Zabadani and Madhaya in Damascus for Idlib almost three months ago after an agreement with the Syrian army, have demanded return to their previous residence in Damascus.

They want to be pardoned to return to the normal life in Damascus as they are "dissatisfied with the behavior, crimes and corruption of the terrorist groups in Idlib".

The militants have also disclosed that "the terrorists in Idlib kill each other for money".

US Navy said the bruised and beaten destroyer USS Fitzgerald will be traveling back home to with the help of a heavy lift ship in order to undergo more repairs.
Damaged Destroyer USS Fitzgerald to Be Transported Back to US for Repairs

According to Cmdr. Clay Doss, a 7th Fleet spokesman said that the destroyer will be towed states-side between mid-September and the end of October after its June 17 crash that led to the death of seven US sailors, RIA Novosti reported.

Though it's unknown where the battered Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer will dock, Doss indicated officials chose to transport the vessel in order to free up space along the Yokosuka naval base for other 7th Fleet ships going under maintenance.

"The main reason why the ship was not repaired in Yokosuka is because it would've tied up those resources and tied up the dry docks," he added. "We could do it in Yokosuka; it's just more cost effective and safer to go through heavy lift route."

The cost to repair the Fitzgerald has been estimated at about $500 million, according to naval analysts speaking to USNI News.

A US Navy destroyer commander has been relieved of duty following his ship’s collision with a Philippine cargo vessel off the coast of Japan in June, resulting in the death of seven sailors.
USS Fitzgerald Commander Dismissed Over Deadly June Collision

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Bill Moran said that several officials from the USS Fitzgerald will be relieved of duty, including its senior enlisted sailor, executive officer and commanding officers.

Moran told reporters, "They will be detached from the ship for cause, which [means] we've lost trust and confidence for their ability to lead in those positions and they will not return to the ship."

Overall, a dozen sailors will face administrative punishment for the affair.


The Living Force
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The Russian Aerospace Forces conducted eight intercepts of foreign spy planes near the Russian border this week.

US Spy Planes Still Haunting Skies Near Russia

According to a report by the Russian Defense Ministry, a total of 16 aircraft were involved in reconnaissance missions near Russia’s borders. None of the spy planes, however, breached Russian airspace, RIA Novosti reported.

Last week, the ministry said that Russia scrambled jets four times to chase off foreign reconnaissance aircraft. It was reported that 12 reconnaissance flights were conducted near the Russian border.

According to Russian aviation expert Viktor Pryadka, countries involved in aerial reconnaissance operations usually deny the fact.

"This is how it always was, even in the 1960s, when a Lockheed U-2 spy plane of the United State military flew over Russia and reached Sverdlovsk, Moscow and Leningrad. Washington denied its involvement until the plane was downed in 1960. The Pentagon was shocked that the Russians had an air-defense system capable of taking down a plane at an altitude of some 25 kilometers. Such facts are usually denied until a plane is shot down," Pryadka told Radio Sputnik.

According to Pryadka, aerial reconnaissance remains an important instrument despite the advanced capabilities of space surveillance assets.

"A reconnaissance aircraft allows for making much more accurate pictures than those taken from a satellite. Reconnaissance from space depends heavily on the weather conditions which can distort important details on an image. Earlier, the US used the Lockheed SR-71 plane in reconnaissance operations all around the globe," Pryadka added.

The number of US and NATO reconnaissance flights near the Russian border has spiked over the recent months.

"The number is unprecedented, especially taking into account the fact that there is no Cold War today. At that time, we saw an average of seven-eight intercepts a week. But today the number is much higher," Konstantin Sivkov, a Russian military analyst and president of the Academy for Geopolitical Problems, told Sputnik in late June.

Earlier this year, the Russian Defense Ministry expressed concern over the alliance’s intensified reconnaissance and intelligence activities along the Russian border. Moscow warned that such activities "undermines the balance of forces in the region and increases the risk of military incidents."

The Syrian Army has forward a long column of military hardware and equipment, including T-90 battle tanks, to Western territories of Aleppo province, video footage showed on Sunday. (+VIDEO)
Syrian Army Dispatches Modern T-90 Tanks to Western Aleppo

According to video footages, the army has sent a convoy of military vehicles, including T-90 tanks to the battlefield in Western Aleppo.

Considering that latest-generation military equipment of the army is generally located in areas where government offensives are underway, the spotting of this particular T-90 might serve as an indication that such an operation is in the works for Western Aleppo.

The T-90 is the most modern tank design available to army forces and in many ways it represents the military revival of the Syrian army that at the beginning of the war on terrorism in the country only possessed an aging fleet of T-55s, T-62s and monkey model T-72s.

Military experts reported on Saturday that the army recently started using the Russia-made MT-LB armored vehicles for the safe transfer of soldiers to the frontlines in the war-hit country.

The military experts said that MT-LB armored vehicles, manufactured in Russia, can boost the Syrian Army's strength for a safer dispatch of soldiers to the battlefields.

In the meantime, the Arabic-language page of the Russian news agency, Sputnik, reported that the MT-LB vehicles have been recently used for transfer of cannons and their crew.

Sputnik added that different weapons can be easily mounted on the MT-LB vehicles.

The Syrian Army troops continued to advance against ISIL in the provinces of Raqqa, Hama and Homs and completed the siege on the terrorists in the Central part of the war-hit country, a military source confirmed on Saturday.
Gov't Forces Complete Siege on ISIL Terrorists in Central Syria

The source reported that ISIL-held regions covering almost 3,000sq/km of area in Homs and Hama province are now under a full siege imposed by the army forces.

The source further added that the army men managed to advance against ISIL South of the town of Ithriya Northeast of Hama and reached their comrades that stormed ISIL's defense line from their positions North of al-Sha'er region in Eastern Homs and advanced towards Jabal al-Fasedah region in Eastern Hama.

The source went on to say that the army soldier have gained control over all the roads in the Eastern direction of the town of al-Salamiyah in Hama province, adding that ISIL withdrew a large number of its forces before the army gained control over the roads.

The source further said that most of the remaining pockets of ISIL terrorists in Aqayrabat region in Hama province are suicide attackers that are in their positions to carry out suicide raids on the government forces to delay the fall of the town of Aqayrabat to the army.

The ISIL terrorists are trapped in the circle of the army forces in Aqayrabat, one of their main strategic bastions in Hama, after they lost the town of al-Sukhnah in Eastern Homs to the army men.

Reports said earlier today that the pro-government forces pushed ISIL terrorists back from their positions in the Southeastern part of Raqqa province, Eastern Homs and Eastern Hama, a military source said, adding that the army soldiers managed to take control of 9,000sq/km, including 25 towns and villages and five oil and gas wells in five days of military operations against ISIL in Central Syria.

Hundreds of terrorists were killed or wounded, 8 armored vehicles, 30 military vehicles, 14 arms depots, 18 command centers and 1 missile Launchpad were destroyed in the operations.

Field sources in mountainous regions at Syria-Lebanon common border reported on Saturday that more ISIL terrorists have handed over arms to the Lebanese Hezbollah fighters and surrendered amid rapid advances of resistance fighters and the Syrian Army soldiers in the region.
ISIL Terrorists Continue to Surrender to Hezbollah in Heights at Syria-Lebanon Border

"ISIL militants began to surrender in Qalamoun (mountains in Arsal region bordering Syria) near the al-Zamrani checkpoint after the checkpoint came under the full control of Hezbollah," the sources said.

Earlier reports said that Ahmad Vahid al-Abd, a notorious field commander of ISIL, surrendered to the Syrian Army troops and Hezbollah after the terrorist group suffered heavy defeats in battle with the government forces in Western Qalamoun heights.

Western Qalamoun and imposed full control over Harf Makbash, Tal Masideh, Wadi al-Hamra, Khirbet al-Hamra, Sho'abh Beit Omar'ei, Qal'at al-Hammam, Harf Wadi Farah, Ra'as Sho'abah Maqarah, Qarnah Shamis Dawar Khanjar, Sho'abah al-Sowqi, Wadi Dawar Khanjar, Shamis al-Zamrani and Thanaya al-Hariq heights.

The army men and Hezbollah combatants, meantime, imposed full control over the strategic Mount al-Mosul in al-Brij Heights overlooking Fikheh and Mira passageways after hours of heavy fighting with ISIL.

Several groups of ISIL surrendered to the Syrian pro-government forces deployed in al-Zamrani passageway that is under the army's control now after the latters' advances in Western Qalamoun.

In the meantime, Ahmad Vahid al-Abd, the ISIL's commander in al-Zamrani, along with his forces, handed over their arms and equipment and surrendered to the army.

A Kurdish media outlet reported on Saturday that a large number of Ankara-backed militants were killed or wounded after the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) shelled the militants' positions in Northern Aleppo.
Turkey-Backed Militants Suffer Heavy Casualties in Exchange of Fire with SDF in Northern Syria

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported that missile and artillery units of the Turkish army and Ankara-backed militants targeted the village of Qastal Jandou in Afrin region and the villages of Ein Daqna, Sheikh Issa, Sha'alah, Nirbiyeh, Um Hawsh and Harbal as well as the town of Tal Rifat in al-Shahba region.

The news website further said that the the SDF in al-Shahba region retaliated and opened heavy fire at the positions of the Turkish army and militants near the town of al-Bab, wounding 11 militants.

In the meantime, SDF carried out mortar attacks on militants' gathering in the town of Mare'a, killing and wounding a number of them, Hawar news said, adding that Turkish ambulances arrived in Mare'a latter to transfer the injured militants.

The Kurds also shot down a drone of the Turkish army in the village of Bashmareh in Shirava, the news website added.

The Hawar news reported on Thursday that the Turkish forces launched artillery and missile attacks on the villages of Qastal, Jandou, Baflouneh and Marimin in Afrin.

The artillery and missile units of the Turkish army also pounded Tal Rafat region and the villages of Sheikh Issa, Harbal, Um Housh, Hasiyeh, Hariseh and Ein Daqneh in al-Shahba region in Northern Aleppo.

The Turkish army also flew its spy planes over the region.

In response, the SDF launched offensive against the positions of pro-Ankara militants in al-Shahba region.

Several commanders of the ISIL terrorist group have escaped from the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur with thousands of US dollars amid the Syrian Army troops' advances in Raqqa and Homs provinces towards Deir Ezzur, local source said Sunday.
Senior ISIL Commanders Escape from Eastern Syria with Hefty Amount of Money

The sources reported that a number of ISIL's notorious commanders, including Abu al-Hawra Tunisi, have escaped from the town of al-Mayadeen in Southeastern Deir Ezzur with $300,000. Al-Hawra Tunisi was the official in charge of releasing ISIL's statements.

The sources also said that ISIL has executed, Abu Esbat al-Sudani, one of its own commanders in al-Mayadeen.

In the meantime, the Syrian Army's artillery and missile units along with the country's Air Force targeted ISIL's positions and movements in Jonayd division base, al-Maqaber region, and the neighborhoods of Huweija Sakar, Panorama base, Huweija al-Mari'eiyeh, al-Hamidiyeh, al-Jabileh and al-Roshdiyeh, killing a large number of terrorists and destroying the military equipment.

The Russian Air Force targeted a number of ISIL positions in the Eastern city of Deir Ezzur and its outskirts on Saturday, destroying a large depot of arms and ammunition in the city's districts.

The warplanes bombed heavily ISIL's positions in Civil Defense region North of al-Mufti Grand Mosque in Deir Ezzur city, destroying a large weapons and munitions depot of the terrorists.

Syrian Industry Minister Ahmad al-Hamou underlined that the enemies who have supported the terrorist groups in the Arab country will play no role in reconstruction efforts in Syria, welcoming friendly states' partnership in this regard.
Industry Minister: Enemies to Play No Role in Syria' Reconstruction

"We don’t allow the enemies and the countries which have hatched plots (against the country) to participate in Syria's reconstruction and they will play no role," al-Hamou said after visiting the Iranian companies' booths in the 59th International Fair of Damascus on Sunday.

He, meantime, underscored that "the friendly states and allies will accompany Syria in reconstruction stage as they helped Syria to attain victory against terrorism".

"The friendly states will be prioritized in cooperation during the reconstruction time and all necessary possibilities will be provided to them," al-Hamou said.

The Public Establishment for International Fairs and Exhibitions (PEIFE), operating under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade of Syria, has organized the 59th International Fair of Damascus, which is due to be held at the Damascus Fairground on August 17-26.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
angelburst29 said:
Damaged Destroyer USS Fitzgerald to Be Transported Back to US for Repairs

According to Cmdr. Clay Doss, a 7th Fleet spokesman said that the destroyer will be towed states-side between mid-September and the end of October after its June 17 crash that led to the death of seven US sailors, RIA Novosti reported.

USS Fitzgerald Commander Dismissed Over Deadly June Collision

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Bill Moran said that several officials from the USS Fitzgerald will be relieved of duty, including its senior enlisted sailor, executive officer and commanding officers.
Well, I guess the U.S. Navy will be towing another "destroyer" - states-side?

US Navy Destroyer Collides With Merchant Ship Near Singapore

Five US sailors have been reported injured and 10 are missing after the USS John McCain collided with a merchant ship early August 21 near Singapore and the Strait of Malacca.

The US guided-missile destroyer crashed into the Alnic MC tanker while underway east of Singapore, the US Navy 7th Fleet reports. The extent of the five hurt sailors' injuries is not yet known.

The incident occurred at 6:24 a.m. local time as the ship was on its way to make a routine visit in Singapore. The McCain has been damaged on its port side aft, or left rear, the Navy says. The latest US Navy update has the ship sailing under her own power toward port. The status of the tanker is unknown.

A search and rescue operation has been launched, combining the efforts of the Singapore Navy and US ships in the area. The Singapore Navy ship RSS Gallant, Singapore helicopters and the Police Coast Guard vessel Basking Shark are currently in the area to render assistance, the 7th fleet reports, and Osprey aircraft and Seahawk SH-60 helicopters from the amphibious assault ship USS America are also joining the response.

The incident will be investigated, the Navy has said. The Twitter feeds of the US Navy and the Pacific Fleet are displaying a phone number for the families of crew members to call for information.

The USS John McCain is an Arleigh-Burke class destroyer belonging to the US Navy's 7th Fleet, and is home ported at the US Navy base in Yokosuka, Japan. The Alnic MC is described as a Liberian-flagged, 30,000 ton, 183-meter oil and chemical tanker by the Marine Traffic website. It appears to have been on its way to Singapore from Pyeongtaek port in South Korea.

"Our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew," Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a Twitter statement.

This accident comes only weeks after the June 17 collision of the USS Fitzgerald with the ACX Crystal container ship, in which seven of the Fitzgerald crew were killed and several others injured. A high level staff shakeup followed the crash.

The Straits of Malacca and Singapore are the world's busiest shipping lane and reached a new high of 83,740 transits in 2016, according to Seatrade Maritime News.

Updated 9:25 p.m. Eastern Standard Time
10 Sailors Missing, 5 Injured After Destroyer Collides with Tanker

The Navy is searching for 10 missing sailors and has reported five more injured after a U.S. Navy destroyer collided with a merchant ship east of Singapore.

Search-and-rescue efforts are underway in the Pacific hours after the collision -- the second such incident in two months.

Officials with U.S. 7th Fleet didn't immediately provide any information about the nature or extent of the sailors’ injuries.

The USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) collided with the Alnic MC, a Liberian-flagged oil and chemical tanker, around 6:24 a.m. Monday local time in the South China Sea east of Singapore and the Strait of Malacca, according to a statement from 7th Fleet.

The incident, which occurred while the ship was headed for a port visit in Singapore, caused damage to the port side aft, or left rear part, of the destroyer, the Navy said.

After the collision, the ship was sailing under its own power and heading to port, the service said.

Assisting with the response were MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters from the USS America amphibious assault ship; and various ships and aircraft from Singapore, including tugboats, the naval ship RSS Gallant, helicopters and the coast guard vessel Basking Shark, according to 7th Fleet.

The accident comes just days after the Navy fired the top three officials from the USS Fitzgerald for their role in a deadly collision with a cargo ship on June 17 off the coast of Japan.

Cmdr. Bryce Benson, commander of the Fitzgerald, and Cmdr. Sean Babbitt, the executive officer, were "detached for cause," meaning the Navy "has lost trust and confidence in their ability to lead," the service announced Thursday.

In addition, the top enlisted sailor aboard the Fitzgerald, Chief Petty Officer Brice Baldwin, and several other sailors on the watch crew will face nonjudicial punishment for their role in the accident in which seven sailors drowned and others were injured.

The latest incident marks the fourth mishap involving U.S. ships in the Pacific this year, Fox News reported.

The USS Antietam, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, ran aground and dumped oil in Tokyo Bay in January and the USS Lake Champlain hit a fishing boat off the coast of South Korea in May, according to the network.

US Navy Ship Collides with South Korean Fishing Boat 9 May 2017

Navy Probe Blames Captain’s Judgment in USS Antietam Grounding 1 Aug 2017
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