Assad calls on West to “cut their relations with terrorism”

Syrian president gives televised address, announces no security cooperation for Western countries that support “terrorism”; Criticizes Turkey and Israel

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Syrian President Basher Assad gave a televised address Sunday, speaking to journalists and diplomats, announcing that cooperation with the West would not occur until it ended its support of “terrorism”, referring to support of rebel forces.

Assad praised Iran, China, Russia and Hezbollah/Lebanon in his address, highlighting them for their political, economic and military support in Syria’s six-year civil war. He stated, “Their direct support-politically, economically and militarily – has made possible bigger advances on the battlefield and reduced the losses and burdens of war,” adding that “they are our partners in these achievements on the road to crush terrorism”.

He criticized the West, clarifying regional support for his regime, stating “We [Syria] are not isolated like they think,” referring specifically to the United States he added, “it’s their arrogance that pushes them to think in this manner.”

He announced that embassies would not be reopened nor any security cooperation considered until states “cut their relations with terrorism”, Assad stating “There will be no security cooperation nor opening of embassies or even a role for some countries that say that they want to play a role in ending the crisis in Syria before they clearly and frankly cut their relations with terrorism. At that point maybe we can speak about opening embassies.”

Majority of European countries and the United States closed their embassies in Damascus in March of 2011.

On Israel, he stated that “Israel is still the enemy that occupies our lands” referring to the Golan Heights, and added that the “Palestinians are still a key issue from our point of view.”

The Syrian president also criticized Turkey, calling Erdogan a “political beggar” and supporter of terrorism, stating “Erdogan is playing the role of political beggar after his support for terrorists was exposed. We don’t consider the Turkish side to be a partner nor a guarantor nor do we trust it.”

Netanyahu to meet with Putin in Sochi Wednesday, talks to center on Syria and Iran

Following security delegation meetings centered on Syria and Iran in Washington, PM to meet with Putin to discuss “latest developments in region” as part of military coordination on Syria between Israel and Russia

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Prime Minister Netanyahu will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, their meeting to center on Iran and Syria.

Netanyahu will travel to Russia on Wednesday to discuss “the latest developments in the region” with the Russian president, the Prime Minister’s Office confirming the talks will center on the ceasefire and developments in Syria, as well as Iran’s efforts in the Middle East.

The office also noted the ongoing military coordination on Syria between Russia and Israel, stating “in the last two years Prime Minister Netanyahu has met with President Putin every few months to discuss bilateral and regional issues with the intention of preventing any clashes between Israeli and Russian air forces in Syria, with success until now.”

Last month, Netanyahu and Putin held a conversation by phone, the Kremlin summarizing their meeting as “Mr. Putin and Mr. Netanyahu continued their exchange of opinions on topical issues of Russia-Israel cooperation. In the context of joint efforts against international terrorism, they discussed the Middle East settlement and the situation in Syria.”

The prime minister last traveled to Russia to discuss Syria and Iran with Putin in March of this year, warning of Iran’s efforts in the region and spread of radical Shiite Islamic terrorism, stating, “We do not want this terrorism to be replaced by the radical Shiite Islamic terrorism led by Iran. The threat of radical Shiite Islam threatens us no less than it does the region and the peace of the world, and I know that we are partners in the desire to prevent any kind of victory by radical Islam of any sort.”

This week’s meeting comes following an Israeli security delegation that met with security and White House officials in Washington on Thursday. The delegation was led by Mossad Director Yossi Cohen and included meetings with Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell.

The meeting comes following Cohen’s intelligence report to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Iran’s ongoing rush for territory in the region. In his report, Cohen showed Iran’s territorial gains, mainly in Syria, but also in Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as on the Islamic Republic’s economic growth following the nuclear deal. According to Cohen, “The areas where Daesh [ISIS] presence is decreasing, Iran is working to fill the void.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the Mossad Chief’s report, stating on Sunday evening to the press “I’ll give you a summary in one sentence—ISIS going out, Iran coming in. Simple. We’re mostly talking about Syria. Our policy is clear: We firmly oppose to the military buildup of Iran and its proxies, primarily Hezbollah, in Syria. And we will do whatever it takes to protect Israel’s security.”

 

Iran’s military chief held meetings with counterpart, Erdogan in Ankara Wednesday

First visit by Iranian military chief of staff to Turkey since Islamic Revolution; Meeting centered on Syria, Kurds; Russian military head to visit Turkey

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Iran’s military chief of the Revolutionary Guard, General Mohammad Bagheri, visited Turkey on Wednesday, meeting with Turkish military and political officials, the meetings centered on Syria, the Kurds and “counter terrorism”.

It was the first visit by an Iranian chief of staff to Turkey since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Bagheri met with his counter part as well as Turkey’s Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli,, followed by a private meeting with President Tayyip Erdogan. Turkey announced that Bagheri’s meeting comes ahead of a scheduled meeting in Turkey with “the Russian chief of staff”.

The meetings were reportedly centered on Syria and Kurdish forces on the Iranian and Turkey borders and follows a meeting held in early August between Turkey, Russia and Iran on Syria. Last week, a meeting was held between Russia and Iran on increasing military cooperation, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan meeting to discuss additional sales of Russian arms to Iran.

Additionally last week, Iran, Turkey and Russia had all signed a deal on investment in oil and gas fields. According to the Shana News Agency, companies from all three states “have signed an agreement on joint investments in oil and gas fields’ development projects… to finance projects both in Iran and outside the country”.

This week’s visit is just another sign of the rapidly increasing relations- economic, political and military- between Turkey, Iran and Russia.

Baqeri stated on his visit “There have been no such visits between the two countries for a long time, but considering regional developments and security issues, border security and the fight against terrorism, there was a need for such a visit.”

As reported earlier this week, Prime Minister Netanyahu was given an intelligence report by Mossad regarding Iran’s ongoing territorial gains in the Middle East, mainly in Syria, the Islamic Republic taking over territory previously taken by ISIS. Chief of the Mossad, Director Yossi Cohen, gave an update to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Sunday, Cohen reporting on Iran’s ongoing rush for territory in the region. According to Cohen, “The areas where Daesh [ISIS] presence is decreasing, Iran is working to fill the void,” referring to Iran’s increasing presence mainly in Syria, but also in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Iran constructing long-range missile factory in northwest Syria

Satellite imagery shows construction of long-range missile factory in northern Syria; Underground storage for missiles seen in photos

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Photo: Satellite image of the factory, GoogleMaps 

 

Iran is building a long-range missile factory in northwest Syria.

The factory, located near the town of Baniyas, reportedly includes underground storage to avoid destruction by airstrikes.

Evidence of the factory’s construction was provided to Israeli media and includes satellite imagery that was taken recently. According to reports, the Scud-missile factory has been under construction for a year and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Last month, the IDF confirmed that Iran has been constructing underground weapons factories in Lebanon. The Iranian weapons factories built in Lebanon are funded by the Revolutionary Guard to provide terrorists organizations, mainly Hezbollah, with weapons. The factory’s locations in Lebanon are intentional as to avoid Israeli strikes preventing weapon transfers.

In March, intelligence was released of several factories having been built and funded by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Lebanon. According to reports at the time, Iran gave the factories and productions lines to Hezbollah which has been running them since January of 2017.

The factories reportedly produce guns and rockets and missiles with capabilities of reaching as far as 500 kilometers. Hezbollah has also been reportedly testing some of the weapons in Syria’s civil war, several of the tests reported successful as Hezbollah continues to grow its rocket supply.

Hezbollah’s rocket arsenal is reported to be 10 times larger than during the Second Lebanon War.

Last week, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed Iran’s efforts, warning “ISIS going out, Iran coming in. Simple. We’re mostly talking about Syria. Our policy is clear: We firmly oppose to the military buildup of Iran and its proxies, primarily Hezbollah, in Syria. And we will do whatever it takes to protect Israel’s security.”

Israel first responder to humanitarian crisis in Sierra Leone

Israel’s IsrAID working on the ground with Red Cross and local efforts; PM instructs to send humanitarian aid Monday, supplies arriving Tuesday

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Israel has acted as a first responder to the humanitarian crisis in Sierra Leone sending much needed supplies and support teams just hours following the devastating mudslides.

Israel’s main humanitarian relief organization, IsrAID, has been working on the ground in Sierra Leone, supporting the country during this ongoing crisis.

Close to 3,000 have been displaced and humanitarian workers have collected over 400 bodies and are estimating around 600 still missing. IsrAID has been assisting by providing search and rescue assistance, medical care and much needed supplies alongside the Red Cross and local efforts.

The main concern is breakout of disease, mainly cholera and typhoid. According to UN Spokesman Stephane Dujarric “Contingency plans are being put in place to mitigate any potential outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea.”

Prime Minster Netanyahu instructed the shipment of food and supplies to Sierra Leone on Monday, the supplied delivered on Tuesday. The aid includes food, medical supplies and blankets.

Mossad chief, Israeli security officials to hold meetings in Washington later this week

Defense officials and Mossad Director to hold meetings with security and White House officials later this week; Talks to center on Syria and Lebanon; White House: The delegation’s arrival in Washington is a powerful sign of the trust between Israel and McMaster.

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A security delegation from Israel led by the Director of the Mossad will travel to Washington this week, holding meetings centered on Syria and Lebanon with top US security and White House officials.

President Trump’s special advisor Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt organized the meetings.

The delegation will be led by Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen and include Head of IDF Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Herzl HaLevi, and Zohar Palti from the Defense Ministry. Meetings will be held with Kushner, Greenblatt, Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell and Trump’s National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster.

The White House confirmed the meeting on Tuesday, emphasizing that the meetings will center on Syria and Lebanon and not the peace process or Palestinians, releasing the statement “Talks will focus on Israel’s security needs vis-a-vis Syria and Lebanon, and will not deal with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. The delegation’s arrival in Washington is a powerful sign of the trust between Israel and McMaster.”

The meeting scheduled for later this week follows Mossad Director Yossi Cohen’s intelligence report to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Iran’s ongoing rush for territory in the region on Sunday. In his report, Cohen showed Iran’s territorial gains, mainly in Syria, but also in Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as on the Islamic Republic’s economic growth following the nuclear deal. According to Cohen, “The areas where Daesh [ISIS] presence is decreasing, Iran is working to fill the void.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the Mossad Chief’s report, stating on Sunday evening to the press “I’ll give you a summary in one sentence—ISIS going out, Iran coming in. Simple. We’re mostly talking about Syria. Our policy is clear: We firmly oppose to the military buildup of Iran and its proxies, primarily Hezbollah, in Syria. And we will do whatever it takes to protect Israel’s security.”