Syrian government denies President Assad in poor health

Reports claim Syrian president in poor health; Office of the President denies reports, claiming they are a result of “changing circumstances in the field and politically”


Reports have surfaced in the media that Syrian President Bashar Assad has been suffering from poor health and has been hospitalized, Assad’s regime officially denying the reports on Tuesday claiming the President is in “excellent health”.

Reports released on Monday claimed that Assad may have suffered from a stroke and that the Syrian government is hiding his illness to the public, the Syrian government denying the reports claiming  that rebel forces and opposition orchestrated the reports for political reasons.

Other reports surfacing claim that Assad was stabbed in an assassination attempt by one of his bodyguards.

The Office of President Assad released the following statement on Tuesday, “The presidency denies all these reports. President Assad is in excellent health. They [the reports] coincide with the changing circumstances in the field and politically.”

Assad, who has been in his position of power for over 17 years, was last seen meeting with Russian and Turkish officials in Kazakhstan last week during talks for continuing a ceasefire in the region.

The Syrian President was last reported to have spoken with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on the phone on Monday.

Iran conducted ballistic missile test, violating UN resolution

Trump Administration confirms reports that Iran tested medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday; Netanyahu in February meeting with Trump to “raise the renewal of sanctions against Iran”



Iran carried out a ballistic missile test again violating the United Nations resolution banning such missile tests.

According to reports Tuesday and following confirmation by the Trump Administration, Iran carried out a medium-range ballistic missile test on Sunday east of Tehran in the region of Semnan. The test was of a Khorramshahr ballistic missile, reports claiming the test failed after reaching 600 miles and exploding.

Iran is prohibited from testing ballistic missiles under United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231, as well as under the nuclear deal made between world powers and the United States.

In May of 2016, Iran reported that it successfully tested a medium-range ballistic missile, the missile tested reported to be capable of reaching over 1, 240 miles. Iran’s Tasnim news agency quoted Iran’s Deputy Chief of Army, Brigadier General Ali Abdollahi at the time who stated “We tested a missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers and eight meters error margin two weeks ago. An eight-meter error margin means …full accuracy.”

In March of last year, Iran tested two ballistic missiles with “Israel must be wiped out” written on the missiles. Head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Division, Brid. Gen. Ali Hajizadeh, confirmed the test stating at the time “The reason we designed our missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers is to be able to hit our enemy the Zionist regime from a safe distance.”

Iran denies its missile development and tests violate any UN resolutions, claiming its military advances are not subject to investigation nor any violation of the nuclear deal made with world powers.

Israel has repeatedly called on the international community to hold Iran accountable for its violations. Iran insists that advancing its missile program and carrying out missile tests are in no violation of international law.

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Iran’s missile test on Tuesday, stating that during his upcoming meeting with President Trump he will “raise the renewal of sanctions against Iran.” Netanyahu stated Tuesday “Iran has launched a ballistic missile again. This is a flagrant violation of a UN Security Council resolution. At my upcoming meeting with President Trump in Washington, I intend to raise the renewal of sanctions against Iran in this context and in other contexts. Iranian aggression must not go unanswered.”

ISIS chemical weapons arsenal discovered in Mosul over the weekend

Weapons arsenal discovered in eastern Mosul; Chemical agents likely to have been smuggled from Syria; Investigation underway–

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Iraqi and French forces discovered hidden mustard chemical warfare agents and Russian-made surface-to-surface missiles belonging to ISIS in eastern Mosul over the weekend.

The weapons arsenal was uncovered in an abandoned storage warehouse close to the Tigris River near the Nineveh ruins, the weapons likely to have come from Syria. An investigation is currently underway as well as coordinated military efforts to search the area. Authorities believe that ISIS intended to use the chemical agents in the missiles.

Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of the Iraq’s special forces stated following video footage released of the weapons that “We know that they were using this place to experiment with chemical weapons.”

ISIS continues its efforts in gaining more territories in Syria and northern Iraq and as rebel forces manage to penetrate into the most secure part of Damascus. The region has been under extreme fighting with ISIS continuing to expand its grasp in the region despite Iraqi, Kurdish and US forces.

Meanwhile, Israel has issued a travel warning for Israeli citizens in Egypt, particularly in the Sinai Peninsula. Jihadist groups in Egypt launched a campaign/hit list with the names and information of hundreds of Egyptian military and police personnel, calling on Islamic extremists groups to murder them. ISIS is believed to be behind the campaign which surfaced on the internet last week.

The Islamic State is active in Egypt, the Egyptian military focusing its efforts on combatting terror cells and plots in the region. ISIS has claimed responsibility for seven attacks in Cairo in 2016 and four in 2015.



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Communities worldwide commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Communities worldwide commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day; PM addresses Holocaust during ceremony held at Yad VaShem; Netanyahu and Trump discussed Iran and “the nature of this nuclear agreement and the danger it poses”

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Friday marks the International Holocaust Remembrance Day with Jewish communities worldwide commemorating the six million Jews killed during the Holocaust.

The International Holocaust Remembrance Day is commemorated on January 27, the day that Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated (in 1945) and the day in which the United Nations chose to be an international day of remembrance. The United Nations passed Resolution 60/7 in 2005, designating International Holocaust Remembrance Day as a global remembrance day of the Holocaust.

Israel holds its national Holocaust memorial, Yom HaShaoh, in April/May each year since 1953. Each year, two minutes of silence are given, each year sirens heard through out Israel, its population pausing and standing in silence. Ceremonies as well as educational programs are held through out the day in remembrance of the Holocaust, with testimonies and stories shared by Holocaust survivors.

There are currently close to 250,000 survivors living in Israel.

The United Nations held a ceremony on Friday, where speeches were given by Secretary- General Antonio Guterres, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon and an Israeli Holocaust survivor and journalist Noah Klieger.

Israel held a ceremony at its national Holocaust memorial museum, Yad Vashem on Thursday, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressing the International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The Prime Minister began by stating, “Today the world observes International Holocaust Remembrance Day. We are fulfilling our obligation – to remember and not to forget. To remember that every victim had a story, a family, a childhood, and a future cut short. We will never forget the victims of the Holocaust and we will never allow another Holocaust to occur. May the memory of the victims of the Holocaust be a blessing and may they be rooted in our hearts forever.”

He stated “In a few short years, six million of our people were wiped away, literally incinerated. And the forces of evil had built an industry of mass murder. So, as we remember the victims, and this crime, we must never forget the roots of our greatest disaster – the insatiable hatred for the Jewish people. This hatred culminated in murder, but it began with intolerance. The Holocaust, thank God, is behind us, but the hatred and intolerance that drove it is not.”

Speaking of anti-Semitism, Netanyahu stated “anti-Semitism which is the world’s oldest hatred, is experiencing a revival in the enlightened West, you can see this in European capitals, just unbelievable. The rise of anti-Semitism, the resurgence of anti-Semitism that is happening, and few would have imagined that this would be possible a few years ago.” Speaking of the rise of global anti-Semitism, he stated “It’s true that governments have shown responsibility, and on the whole have taken this up, in Eastern Europe and in Western Europe alike. But it is also true that this hatred is bubbling, coming out of these cracks, coming out in the open again.”

Netanyahu then went on to speak about Iran as the current threat to the Jewish people, stating “Yet, as disturbing as this is, the greatest danger that we face, of the hatred for the Jewish people and the Jewish state, comes from the East. It comes from Iran. It comes from the ayatollah regime that is fanning these flames and calling outright for the destruction of the Jewish state.”

Netanyahu spoke of his recent conversation with United States President, in which both leaders spoke about Iran. Netanyahu stated that he spoke with Trump “about the Iranian aggression. He [Trump] spoke about Iran’s commitment to destroy Israel. He spoke about the nature of this nuclear agreement and the danger it poses. We spoke about it together.”

He went on to speak of his duty as Israel’s Prime Minister, and his commitment to not remain silent on the Holocaust, stating “As Prime Minister of Israel, I will not be silent, I haven’t been silent, and we don’t intend to be inactive either. We don’t merely intend to speak out but we will take all the measures we need to defend ourselves, and we will take all the measures necessary to prevent Iran from getting the means of mass murder to carry out their horrible plans… We cannot and will not be silent in the face of Iran’s stated aim of destroying Israel. But we also know that the issue is not merely the Jewish state or the Jewish people. Because we’ve seen that this hatred, when it goes unchecked, spreads around the world, and in fact, in many ways, that is what is happening.”

He called on the “forces of civilization”, referring the global community, to unite and end Iran’s threat against the Jewish state. He stated “So it’s up to the forces of civilization, the forces of conscience, the forces of responsibility to join together to stop this process. The regime that spawned the Holocaust ended up in the dustbin of history. That’s a lesson for Iran. It’s a lesson to every enemy of the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

Finishing his address, he stated “I take comfort in a lot of foreign leaders who have come to this place, to Yad Vashem. We go through the halls, we see the exhibits; they’re visibly shaken. And when we come out, I say to that leader or whoever it would be, I say, you know, as Prime Minister of Israel I have one job: to make sure that we will never need more institutions like Yad Vashem. And that’s what we all have to be committed for.”

US and Israel successfully test David’s Sling missile defense system

Newly advanced David’s Sling to be operational this year; Tests carried out over the week in Israel; New multi-missile radar technology successful


Both Israel and the United States successfully completed testing of an advanced David’s Sling missile defense system.

It is the system’s fifth-joint testing, both the US Missile Defense Agency and Israel’s Missile Defense Organization reporting the tests successful on Wednesday after days of testing in Israel.

David’s Sling, also known as the “Magic Wand”, is a missile interceptive system used for mid-range rockets. David’s Sling can intercept rockets and aircraft, including drones, with a range of up to 125 miles. The system is an “advanced multi-mission, multi-platform interceptor designed for insertion into integrated air and missile defense systems.”

David’s Sling is one of three defense systems designed to defend Israel against rocket attacks. The Iron Dome system protects against short to medium-range rockets , the Arrow 3 missile defense system which can intercept rockets beyond earth’s atmosphere with high altitude capabilities. It can intercept more than five ballistic missiles within 30 seconds after its launch and can reach altitudes as far as over 62 miles.

Israel’s Defense Ministry and the Israel Air Force confirmed that the system will be operational this year and that the recently added multi-missile radar technology as a success. The Ministry stated “During the series of tests, after incoming missile detection, the MMR (multi-missile radar) located the targets and transferred the data to the central firing program, which calculated interception protocols.”

The US Missile Defense Agency confirmed that the “The success of the test is part of the development on the future threat deterrence system,” and that the “interceptors were successfully launched, performed all flight phases and engaged the targets as planned. Preliminary analysis indicates that test objectives were successfully achieved.”

Last week Israel received its first anti-missile interceptors for the Arrow 3 missile defense system. The Arrow 3 has been in development by both the Israel Aerospace Industries and the US Missile Defense Agency. Both Israel’s Defense Ministry and the US Missile Defense Agency delivered the first shipment of advanced rockets to the Israel Defense Forces last Wednesday.