16

Sep

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16

Sep

by lasilencia

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Poll: Vets Say Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Weren’t Worth It

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United States Army recruits undergo a chemical weapons training session during basic training at the Fort Sill Army Post in Fort Sill

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Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro talks to National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello during a meeting with members of the United Socialist party in Caracas

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MIDEAST ISRAEL PALESTINIANS

HAARETZ

REUTERS – The United Nations, Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reached a deal to allow reconstruction work to begin in the war-torn Gaza Strip with UN monitoring of the use of materials, UN Middle East envoy Robert Serry said on Tuesday.

Serry told the UN Security Council that the United Nations had brokered the deal “to enable work at the scale required in the strip, involving the private sector in Gaza and giving a lead role to the Palestinian Authority in the reconstruction effort, while providing security assurances through UN monitoring that these materials will not be diverted from their entirely civilian purpose.”

Fifty days of conflict in Gaza between Hamas militants and Israel, which ended late last month, has left swathes of the Mediterranean enclave in ruins.

The Palestinian Authority said in a study recently that the reconstruction work would cost $7.8 billion, two and a half times Gaza’s gross domestic product, including $2.5 billion for the reconstruction of homes and $250 million for energy.


syrian

Report says regime must compromise with mainstream opposition to block jihadists who are spreading terror across country

Times of Israel

The UN commission investigating war crimes in Syria blamed President Bashar Assad’s government for committing the bulk of atrocities inside the war-torn country, exceeding the toll from the horrific massacres perpetrated by Islamic State fighters.

The head of the UN commission, Brazilian diplomat and scholar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, described the Islamic State extremist group and anti-government armed groups capturing the world’s attention as “agents of death and destruction,” but emphasized the government’s sieges and attacks in Syria’s civil war which has killed over 190,000 people and destabilized the region.

The Syrian government remains responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties, killing and maiming scores of civilians daily, both from a distance using shelling and aerial bombardment and up close, at its checkpoints and in its interrogation rooms,” Pinheiro told the 47-nation UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

He lamented the regime’s “starvation or submission” strategy through drawn-out sieges and indiscriminate attacks.

From left to right, United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Vitit Muntarbhorn, Carla del Ponte, Karen Abuzayd and Chairman Paulo Sergio Pinheiro are seen during their presentation of the commission's latest report on the situation in the war-ravaged country to the UN Human Rights Council on September 16, 2014 in Geneva. (photo credit: AFP/FABRICE COFFRINI)

From left to right, United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Vitit Muntarbhorn, Carla del Ponte, Karen Abuzayd and Chairman Paulo Sergio Pinheiro are seen during their presentation of the commission’s latest report on the situation in the war-ravaged country to the UN Human Rights Council on September 16, 2014 in Geneva. (photo credit: AFP/FABRICE COFFRINI)

Checkpoints meanwhile “are often the starting point of a horrific journey of disappearance, torture, sexual abuse and, for many, death,” he said, calling the barriers “a source of terror to the civilians they encircle.”

Pinheiro strssed that the Syrian government and mainstream opposition must seek compromise to end three and half years of bloody civil war and block the rise of murderous jihadists.

“The rise of (Islamic State fighters) has emphasized the need for the government and mainstream opposition to find common ground and to commit to making compromises,” he said.

‘We have charted the descent of the conflict into the madness where it now resides’

Presenting the commission’s latest report on the situation in the war-ravaged country to the UN Human Rights Council, Pinheiro said he had grown weary of standing before world diplomats and begging for action that never came.

“We have charted the descent of the conflict into the madness where it now resides,” he said, lamenting that he and his three commission colleagues had in vain “implored the parties and influential states to forge a peaceful settlement.”

“This inaction has allowed the warring parties to operate with impunity and nourished the violence that has consumed Syria,” he said.

“Its most recent beneficiary is ISIS,” the jihadist group calling itself Islamic State, Pinheiro added.

While the widespread abuses — including what rights organizations say amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity — carried out by Assad’s regime and opposition groups have not subsided, the parties and the international community should find common ground in ending the “terror” delivered by IS, he said.

A Fighter of the Islamic State group waving their flag from inside a captured government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria on Sunday. (photo credit: AP/Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)

A Fighter of the Islamic State group waving their flag from inside a captured government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria on Sunday. (photo credit: AP/Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)

In its report, the commission detailed a litany of horrors committed by Islamic State, the group that has declared an Islamic “caliphate” in an area spanning northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

Massacres, beheading boys as young as 15 and amputations and lashings in public squares as residents, including children, are forced to watch, figure on the list, as does the widespread use of child soldiers and stoning women to death for suspected adultery.

Referring to the group’s recent beheadings of two US journalists and a British aid worker, Pinheiro stressed that IS “has continued to subject scores of Syrians to the same fate in public squares in the north and east of the country.”

Outrage over the group’s actions spurred US President Barack Obama last week to order expanded airstrikes against the militant group in Iraq and threaten the same on the Syrian side of the border.

Pinheiro reiterated Tuesday the commission’s stance that the Syrian conflict “will not be resolved on the battlefield,” insisting dialogue was the only way forward.

“As military action on ISIS positions seems increasingly likely, we remind all parties that they must abide by the laws of war,” he said, demanding that “serious efforts must be made to preserve civilian life.”

Pinheiro also stressed that the jihadists were not “the sole agents of death and destruction” in Syria, where the UN says nearly 200,000 people have died since the conflict erupted in March 2011.

“I have run out of words to depict the gravity of the crimes committed inside Syria,” Pinheiro said.


nasrallah

Official from Shiite group says fighters will remain in war-torn country until jihadists are completely stamped out

Times of Israel

Troops from Hezbollah will fight alongside Syrian regime forces for as long as necessary in order to eradicate Islamic State combatants in the embattled country, the deputy head of the Shiite organization’s executive council said Monday.

“There could never be a war of words between ISIS and us, but there is the field where we will defeat them,” Nabil Qaouk maintained, according to the Daily Star, a Lebanese media outlet.

“Day after day, it is becoming clear to Lebanon, the Arab, Muslim and international communities that there is a great need for Hezbollah to remain in Syria. The current situation today imposes on Hezbollah to stay in Syria more than any other time,” he added.

Qaouk, speaking during a ceremony in the village of Aita Shaab, claimed that Hezbollah, along with the Shi’ite Amal movement, has played a key roll in containing sectarian tensions in Lebanon in recent weeks, after two Lebanese soldiers were reported to have been brutally beheaded by Islamic State jihadists last week.

The beheading of soldiers by ISIS was aimed at inciting strife between Sunnis and Shiites but Hezbollah and Amal succeeded in eliminating such strife, not just putting out the blaze,” he said, using an alternative abbreviation for the Islamic State group.

On Saturday, an apparent Islamic State supporter posted a photo to Twitter showing a masked man wearing black, holding the severed head of a bearded young man over his body. The corpse is lying in a pool of blood and, in the background, a man is holding up the black Islamic State flag. An Islamic State commander later told the Turkish Anadolu news agency Saturday that his group beheaded the Lebanese soldier for attempting to escape.

The image emerged four days after DNA testing confirmed that the body of a man whom jihadists had said they beheaded was that of Lebanese soldier Ali Sayyed. Sayyed had been captured by jihadists from the Al-Qaeda affiliated Al-Nusra Front and the IS, along with some 30 soldiers and police in the eastern town of Arsal last month.

Qaouk said Hezbollah would fully support any effort by the Lebanese government to reclaim the border city of Arsal, adding that the Lebanese people would have to commit to tighten “the noose on the takfiris [the infidels] and strengthen the army so that it could free the soldiers [that remain in Islamist captivity].”

“Any delay in drafting a national defense strategy or in using strong cards would endanger the lives of soldiers and paves the way for takfiris [to launch] more attacks and provocations,” he said.

Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to Syria over the past two years in a bid to bolster its ally Bashar Assad, who is combating opposition forces, many of them Islamist.

On Sunday, a senior IDF officer warned that Hezbollah could briefly capture a chunk of the Galilee, including some border communities, in an upcoming war with Israel.

The senior IDF official warned Sunday that while Hezbollah has no immediate plan to attack Israel, a minor security incident could erupt into a full-fledged war on Israel’s northern front.

In the event of a confrontation with Hezbollah, the fighting would likely last some four months, would have the Israel Defense Forces face some 30,000 troops, would incur extensive civilian casualties on the Lebanese side, and may see infiltration into northern Israeli towns to carry out attacks, the IDF official predicted.