[MAGHAREBIA] Convicted terrorist Amar Gharbia, (aka Moqatel Abou Jebel) received a life sentence Tuesday (January 8th) in Algiers for kidnapping 15 foreign tourists in 2003.
He was accused of working under the command of Amari Saifi (aka Abderrazak "El Para"), the leader of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb precursor GSPC.
Malian national Youcef Ben Mohamed was acquitted of the same kidnapping charge, but sentenced to seven years in prison for belonging to "an armed terrorist group".
El Para allegedly ordered the kidnappings.
The case dates back to February of 2003 when the GSPC kidnapped 15 foreign tourists, including 10 German nationals, near the border with Mali.
The defendants were also accused of "smuggling banned weapons" and financing terrorist groups with ransom payments.
The attorney-general at the Algiers Criminal Court sought the death penalty for Gharbia and life imprisonment for Ben Mohamed. Saifi has been in detention since his extradition in 2004 to Algeria from Chad.
The attorney-general noted that the "bloody acts that have been committed since 1996 by the accused terrorist group were "countless".
During the hearing, Gharbia denied any role in the operation although he admitted he was present while it was being carried out. He confirmed that El Para was also present. The defendant admitted that, since 1996, he had taken part in several bloody terrorist operations around the country, including the 1997 operations in Tamanrasset where six Sonatrach workers were executed and their vehicle seized and sold in Niger.
Gharbia also admitted to setting up an ambush for Swiss tourists in an area between Ain Saleh and Tamanrasset, seizing their vehicle and re-selling it in Niger.
Moreover, he confessed that his group was involved in the killing of a large number of migrant nomads to seize their weapons and sheep, as well as setting up ambushes for the People's National Army (ANP) personnel.
The defendant said he joined armed action in 1996 in Jbel Boukhil, Djelfa. He joined the group of Mokhtar Belmokhtar, aka Laaouar, the emir of Sahara brigade, in 1998. He then went with Laaouar to Niger for military training.
During the judicial investigation, Gharbia said that he was part of an gang that met in 2003 at the Malian border with Saifi who told them about the kidnapped German tourists who were held in Kidal.
At the end of this year, tribal chiefs negotiated the handover of those kidnapped hostages to the Malian government, and an agreement was reached on paying an amount of more than 4 million euros. The Germans were released and the terrorist groups used part of that ransom money to purchase military equipment.
The second defendant, Ben Mohamed, allegedly conducted arms deals under the supervision of El Para.
[Iran Press TV] Malian soldiers and forces of Evil occupying the northern part of the country have reportedly clashed in the central town of Konna.
"We have launched operations against the enemy, who attempted to fight back. We are going to oust them," a soldier told AFP on Wednesday from Konna near the town of Mopti, which is the gateway to the government-held south.
The resident in Konna said that the heavy fire exchanges between the forces of Evil and the army troops have lasted several hours.
"We are hearing a lot of gunfire. The army is shooting" and the forces of Evil too, said another resident by phone from the town.
The army says the rebels had previously tried to attack Konna on Monday night.
The army had stationed soldiers and extra weapons in one of its command posts near Konna in the town of Sevare.
In December 2012, the United Nations ...an idea whose time has gone... Security Council approved the deployment of foreign military forces in Mali to help the Malian government battle the forces of Evil controlling the northern part of the West African country.
The 15-member Security Council authorized an initial one-year deployment of African Union ...a union consisting of 53 African states, most run by dictators of one flavor or another. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established in 2002, the AU is the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was even less successful... forces in the country.
The resolution, drafted by La Belle France, also authorized all European Union ...the successor to the Holy Roman Empire, only without the Hapsburgs and the nifty uniforms and the dancing... member states to help rebuild Mali's security forces.
Chaos broke out in the West African country after Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was toppled in a military coup on March 22, 2012. The coup leaders said they mounted the coup in response to the government's inability to contain the two-month-old Tuareg rebellion in the north of the country.
However, if you can't say something nice about a person some juicy gossip will go well... in the wake of the coup d'état, the Tuareg rebels took control of the entire northern desert region, but the Ansar Dine gunnies pushed them aside and wrested control of all the northern desert regions, which are larger than La Belle France or Texas.
[MAGHAREBIA] A special gendarme battalion in eastern Mauritania on Wednesday (January 2nd) thwarted an attempt to smuggle arms to a terrorist network in northern Mali.
Four Kalashnikovs that disappeared a month ago from a 5th Military Region depot were reportedly seized in Amat Lakarish, near Nema.
Weapons that disappeared from another site -- the Bassiknou barracks near Mali -- remain missing, news hound Rajel Oumar cited military sources as saying. Intelligence sources said they entered Mali later and that a search was still under way.
Armed groups are eager to obtain more weapons smuggled across Sahel countries, said Mohamed Ould Kaabash, a former officer in the 5th Military Region.
"Smuggling networks try to lure in military personnel to obtain equipment from Mauritanian military barracks," Ould Kaabash told Magharebia.
The smugglers behind the disappearance of arms from the Nema and Bassiknou barracks are part of a network with cells in eastern Mauritania and Mali, the former army officer confirmed.
During the investigation into the incident, a number of soldiers and officers of the 5th Military Region were placed in durance vile Drop the rosco, Muggsy, or you're one with the ages! . Some were later released.
A Mauritanian officer training at the Ajrida military base near Nouakchott was also arrested in connection with the missing weapons.
The security operation came as part of efforts to counter the activities of Sahel smuggling networks that supply terrorist groups in northern Mali. The al-Qaeda linked Islamists are eager to secure weapons before West African troops intervene in Mali.
Meanwhile, ...back at the Senate, the partisans of Honorius went for their knives and the partisans of Stilicho went for the doors... the Mauritanian army opened an investigation in Aleg on January 1st to search for tank shells believed to have been lost from an armoured battalion in the area.
Fearing that more weapons might fall into the hands of terrorists, similar to what happened in Mali and Libya, NATO ...the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. A single organization with differing goals, equipment, language, doctrine, and organization.... has already funded a 2.25 million euro military project to destroy stocks of weapons in Mauritania.
The project covers 1,800 tons of ammunition, including 141 man-portable air-defence systems (MANPADs) distributed over 20 arms depots in Mauritania, Taqadoumy reported January 3rd.
[An Nahar] Armed Islamists who control northern Mali on Thursday captured a government town in the country's center and will push further south, an Ansar Dine official told AFP.
"We are currently in Konna for the jihad. We almost entirely control the town. Afterward we are going to continue" heading south, Abdou Dardar, who was reached by telephone from the capital Bamako, told AFP.
Dardar, whose remarks were translated by an interpreter from Niger, said he was speaking in the name of all the Islamists.
The north has been controlled for nine months by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), and Ansar Dine (Defenders of the Faith), who all promote the application of Islamic law.
The remarks by Abou Dardar, who said nothing more, were the first made by an Islamist official to AFP since the start of troop movements on Monday.
Asked by AFP, the Mali's army chief based in the city of Mopti, which is near Konna, declined immediate comment.
But residents of Konna confirmed to AFP the presence of Islamists in that central town, adding the intensity of fighting had declined in the middle of the day.
"I no longer see the Malian army. I don't know what's happening. But I know that the Islamists have left Bore to come to Konna," said a worried resident.
Bore, north of Konna, is a community controlled by Islamists who, according to a regional security source, engaged in fighting Thursday afternoon with the army in the area around Konna.
"The army is trying to resist, based on our information," the source said.
Another resident of Konna said he had seen the Islamists in the downtown of the locality. In Mopti, two witnesses said they saw an army helicopter take off, probably in the direction of Konna.
[Iran Press TV] A kaboom in Yemen's central province of Marib has brought to a halt oil flow via the country's main crude export pipeline.
The attack was carried out on Thursday morning by unknown orcs, who blew up the Ras Isa pipeline by placing a roadside kaboom near the line in Marib's Serwah area.
The bombing made Yemeni oil industry officials stop the crude pumping from the fields to the export terminal in the Red Sea.
The pipeline, once carrying around 110,000 bpd of Marib light crude, was repeatedly targeted in attacks that began in 2011.
Yemen resumed oil pumping on Dec. 31 at a rate of around 70,000 bpd after repairs.
The country's oil and gas pipelines have repeatedly been sabotaged by Death Eaters or angry rustics since a popular revolt against US-backed dictator President-for-Life Ali Abdullah Saleh ... Saleh initially took power as a strongman of North Yemen in 1977, when disco was in flower, but he didn't invite Donna Summer to the inauguration and Blondie couldn't make it... in early 2011.
The attacks caused fuel shortages and severely slashed export earnings for the impoverished country.
A long closure of the Ras Isa pipeline in 2011 shut down Yemen's main refinery at Aden, forcing the small producer to import fuel from neighboring Soddy Arabia ...a kingdom taking up the bulk of the Arabian peninsula. Its primary economic activity involves exporting oil and soaking Islamic rubes on the annual hajj pilgrimage. The country supports a large number of princes in whatcha might call princely splendor. When the oil runs out the rest of the world is going to kick sand in their national face...
Ayutla de los Libres in Guerrero state was ground zero for the armed leftist movements in the 1970s and 1990s, and the indigenous villagers in the municipality there have formed their own self defense groups to clear their municipality of organized crime.
It is illegal for them to have guns.
But there they are armed to the teeth, sporting balaclavas in a bid to bring peace to their communities
[Dawn] Three coppers and four children were maimed in two separate incidents in Bara tehsil of Khyber Agency on Wednesday.
Officials said that a khasadar ...a rural policeman in Pakistain or India... , Khan Akbar, and two personnel of Mehsud Scouts -- naib-subedar Ashraf and sepoy Asad -- were maimed when person or persons unknown attacked a convoy of security forces in Mohammedan Dhand area of Bara. The convoy was on its way to Levies centre in Shahkas when it was attacked.
In Sur Kas area of Bar Qambarkhel, four children were maimed when a mortar shell fell on the house of Askar Khan Malikdinkhel.
The injured children were shifted to Beautiful Downtown Peshawar ...capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province), administrative and economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Peshawar is situated near the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, convenient to the Pak-Afghan border. Peshawar has evolved into one of Pakistan's most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities, which means lots of gunfire. for treatment.
Meanwhile, ...back at the cheese factory, there was only one thought in the mouse's mind: I can do this! I can do this! Then the trap sprung... security forces with the help of Shalobar Peace Committee tossed in the clink Keep yer hands where we can see 'em, if yez please! four suspected beturbanned goons during a raid in Nawgazee Baba area. The arrested men, who were accused of having contacts with a Bara-based beturbanned goon group, included Dr Moeen, the owner of a clinic in the area.
Security forces in Ghundi area of Jamrud arrested five suspects during a raid on a house on Wednesday morning. The arrested men included Mohammad Jan, Khuga Jan, Marjan Khan, Jerman Khan and Zar Mohammad.
Relatives of the arrested men claimed that they had no affiliations with any bad boy group and all of them had suffered in the recent terrorist attacks carried out in different parts of Jamrud.
They said that almost all of the arrested men had lost their family members in kabooms and suicide kabooms in Jamrud in the recent past.
In Bannu, two cellular phone shops were blown up by unidentified persons at a market on Dera Road on Wednesday.
Sources said that unidentified persons planted improvised bombs near the shops of Zubair and Karimullah in a market at Taji Kallay Bus Stand that went off one after another at 1am, destroying both the shops.
The shutters of the shops and cellular phone sets were destroyed, inflicting heavy losses on the owners.
[Dawn] Unidentified gunnies killed Pakistain People's Party, Kurram Agency ...home of an intricately interconnected web of poverty, ignorance, and religious fanaticism, where the laws of cause and effect are assumed to be suspended, conveniently located adjacent to Tora Bora... president and noted physician Dr Riaz Hussain Shah in the busy commercial area of Dabgari Garden in Beautiful Downtown Peshawar ...capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (formerly known as the North-West Frontier Province), administrative and economic hub for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. Peshawar is situated near the eastern end of the Khyber Pass, convenient to the Pak-Afghan border. Peshawar has evolved into one of Pakistan's most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities, which means lots of gunfire. on Wednesday afternoon.
An official of the east cantonment cop shoppe said Dr Riaz was targeted in his car by two men armed with automatic weapons and riding a cycle of violence outside his clinic a few moments after he left for home.
He added that the physician was taken to Lady Reading Hospital but succumbed to critical injuries.
A hospital source said Dr Riaz had breathed his last before being shifted to the premises.
"Dr Riaz used to come to his clinic early in the day and was in the habit to go home at 1pm and return at 4pm," he said.
According to his friends, Dr Riaz was the president of PPP, Kurram Agency and a candidate for the National Assembly seat, NA-37, from there.
They said Dr Riaz and his family had always strived for peace in Kurram Agency. He had survived two suicide kaboom bids in 2008.
In Feb 2008, 63 people were killed and 200 injured when a bomb went off at his election office in NA-37, Kurram Agency.
Born on May 11, 1959, Dr Riaz was a graduate of Khyber Medical College. He was a specialist in gastroenterology and practiced at a private clinic in Habib Medical Centre, Dabgari Gardens. Dr Riaz is survived by his widow and three sons.
This was the second murder of a specialist doctor in the last few months. Earlier, noted cardiologist Dr Syed Jamal had also been killed by unidentified gunnies after three months of his kidnapping from Hayatabad.
His body was found in Khyber Agency.
A police source said following the killing of Dr Jamal and the kidnapping of some others, a number of senior doctors had hired services of private guards at their clinics as acts of terrorism had caused serious unrest among their visitors.
Meanwhile, ...back at the precinct house, Sergeant Maloney wasn't buying it. It was just too pat. The whole thing smelled phony, kind of like a dead mackeral but without the scales... police have claimed to have beefed up security in different areas after the killing, saying there are reports about a possible attack by suspected jihad boys.
"Our officers have strictly directed us to remain alert as the text messages about attacks on high-profile personalities have created unrest," a police source said.
Police said they had registered an FIR against unidentified killers after Dr Riaz's family said they had no enmity.
"Investigators will study different angles to ascertain as to who could be his killers whether his political opponents or those belong to the opposite sect," an official of East Cantonment cop shoppe said.
When contacted, a front man for Imamia Students Organisation Waseem Abbas said body of Dr Riaz would be shifted from his residence at Defence Colony, Peshawar to ancestral village in Parachinar for burial. He condemned the killing and said it showed the complete failure of the government as the physician was attacked on the main road in a busy commercial area.
[Dawn] The Pak military said Indian troops shot and killed a Pak soldier on Thursday, the third deadly cross-border incident reported in five days in the disputed Kashmire region.
"Pakistain Army soldier, Havildar Mohyuddin, embraced shahadat (martyrdom) due to unprovoked firing by Indian troops at Hotspring sector in Battal at 2:40 pm (0940 GMT) today," the military said in a text message to news hounds.
"Today, India troops resorted to unprovoked firing at a Pak post named Kundi," it added.
India alleged that two of its soldiers were killed by Pak troops on Tuesday, including one who was beheaded. Pakistain denied the accusation.
On Sunday, the Mighty Pak Army claimed Indian forces killed one of its soldiers and maimed another.
[NY Times] Bomb blasts in two Pak cities killed at least 115 people on Thursday and maimed more than 270, offering harrowing evidence of how the country's myriad internal conflicts could destabilize it as elections approach. Know that their problem is? Not enough Islam.
The worst violence occured in the southwestern city of Quetta, where two kabooms a few minutes apart in the evening destroyed a snooker hall in a neighborhood dominated by ethnic Hazara Shiites, killing at least 81 people and wounding more than 170, the police said. If they were more Islamic this sort of thing would never happen, because Islam is a religion of peace.
A jacket wallah detonated his explosives inside the hall, and a second attacker then blew up his vehicle outside the club as coppers and journalists arrived, a police brass hat, Mir Zubair Mehmood, told news hounds. Five coppers and one camer operators were killed in the second kaboom. Hospitals were overwhelmed as casualties arrived through the evening. Suicide boomers can't be Moslems. Everybody knows that. This was all obviously planned in New Delhi, because Pakistain beat them in a cricket match.
Hazara leaders said it was the worst sectarian attack in Quetta since attacks on their community started about 14 years ago. They'll turn out in a day or two and chant "Death to America! Death to the Great Satan!"
Quetta is no stranger to sectarian, nationalist or Islamist violence. Most violence against Shiites there has been directed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi ... a 'more violent' offshoot of Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistain. LeJ's purpose in life is to murder anyone who's not of utmost religious purity, starting with Shiites but including Brelvis, Ahmadis, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Rosicrucians, and just about anyone else you can think of. They are currently a wholly-owned subsidiary of al-Qaeda ... , a Sunni bad boy group with strong ties to the Pak Taliban, which grabbed credit for the snooker hall attack. Snooker is a variation of billiards. In a week or two it'll all be forgotten. It'll blend into the daily meat grinder of mindless Pak violence, that's all planned and financed in India and Israel and the U.S.A.
An ethnic Baluch separatist group grabbed credit for another bombing earlier on Thursday, aimed at paramilitary soldiers in a commercial part of Quetta, which killed 12 people. But really, it couldn't be them, because they're all Moslems.
The Hazara, minority Shiites who migrated from Afghanistan more than a century ago, have been the target of dozens of attacks from sectarian death squads led by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Quetta over the past year, but the snooker hall attack was by far the bloodiest. Any place there's a gathering of one or more persons is a legitimate target. It sez so right in the Koran someplace. You could look it up.
Human rights activists said the police and the security forces failed to protect the vulnerable community. "The callousness and indifference of the authorities offers a damning indictment of the state, its military and security agencies," said Ali Dayan Hasan, the Pakistain director at Human Rights Watch. What'd you expect? They're not proper Moslems. They're Shiites, fergawdsake... The other focus of violence on Thursday was the Swat The stomping ground of Mullah Fazlullah and his untraceable FM radio station. Mullah Fazlullah is the son-in-law of Sufi Mohammad, noted for his piety, his leadership of the TNSM, and the fact that he demanded and got the imposition of "shariah law" on Swat, which then grew a bolt in its neck and went off lumbering through the countryside terrorizing the populace, until finally it threatened Islamabad itself. In a moment of self-preservation the Mighty Pak Army cracked down, the TNSM turbans broke and fled, and now Mullah Fazlullah lives in Afghanistan and dispatches his minions to shoot teenage girls through the head. Valley, in the Hindu Kush mountains in northwestern Pakistain, where a kaboom in the basement of a religious seminary killed at least 22 people and maimed an additional 60. It was not clear why the seminary, run by the Islamic missionary group Tableeghi Jamaat, was a target. Tablighi Jamaat is a Taliban recruiting organization. Was the madrassa a target? Or was it a work accident? It's never a good idea to smoke where you store your explosives, y'know...
Initial reports said a gas leak had caused the kaboom, but police and hospital officials later said that there was clear evidence of a bomb. "Hey, Mahmoud! Watch this! [CLUNK!] Oops! [KABOOM!]"
Doctors at a hospital in Saidu Sharif, near the site, said blast victims were being treated for wounds caused by ball bearings, which are sometimes packed into suicide bombs to make them more deadly. Did they pack the ball bearings in rat poison, as usual?
"There was a smell of explosives," Muhammad Iqbal, a senior doctor, said by telephone. "And a cigar. There was the smell of a cigar, too."
Islamist violence in Swat drew international condemnation in October after Taliban gunnies shot a teenage schoolgirl and education activist, Malala Yosuafzai. The episode highlighted how Islamist fighters were slowly returning to the valley three years after a Pak military operation drove them away. The problem can't be too bad, or honest citizens would be hanging the bastards by their own turbans whenever they turn up. That's assuming there are any honest citizens in the area.
The violence underscores the fragility of state authority in parts of Pakistain as the country prepares for a general election that is scheduled to take place before June. Many Paks worry that increasing instability could cause the elections to be postponed. That's okay, as long as they have enough holy men.
Frustration about the violence among the Pak public has been stoked by anger toward the United States, which continued to press its campaign of drone strikes against bad boy targets in the tribal belt on Thursday. Toldja so. Zap a few turban compounds and sphincters tighten all through the land. A bomb goes up in the basement of a madrassa, a pool hall full of local tough guys gets blown up, a school bus is boarded and the kiddies shot up, it's tut-tut for maybe a week.
A C.I.A.-directed missile strike on a compound in North Wazoo killed five people, Pak officials said. It was the seventh such attack in two weeks. And, really, the guyz who're getting zapped, they've got nothing to do with kabooms or shoot-outs or little girls with gunshot wounds. We are just so damn mean!
[Dawn] An octogenarian hakeem, a recipient of the presidential award, was bumped off at his clinic in Federal B Area on Wednesday after the attacker failed to find the victim's son, a leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami ...The Islamic Society, founded in 1941 in Lahore by Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, aka The Great Apostosizer. The Jamaat opposed the independence of Bangladesh but has operated an independent branch there since 1975. It maintains close ties with international Mohammedan groups such as the Moslem Brotherhood. the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. The Jamaat's objectives are the establishment of a pure Islamic state, governed by Sharia law. It is distinguished by its xenophobia, and its opposition to Westernization, capitalism, socialism, secularism, and liberalist social mores... , there on a second consecutive day, police said.
Two men riding a cycle of violence arrived at the clinic, Barkati Matab, situated in Block-6 of F.B Area, the police said. One of them entered the clinic looking for Mujahid Barkati, but after failing to find him there went into the room of Hakeem Mehmood Ahmed Barkati, 87, and fired at him, the police said.
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[Dawn] A boom-mobilewent kaboom! near the Israeli defence ministry in Tel Aviv on Thursday, injuring several people, in what police said was an incident not linked to beturbanned goon groups.
The spokesperson for the police, Micky Rosenfeld said Thursday that he believed the kaboom near a bus was criminally motivated, though he could not definitively rule out that it was political violence.
"A boom-mobilewent kaboom! in Tel Aviv. Apparently it is a criminal incident, a settling of accounts," he told AFP.
A spokesperson for the Rescue services, Zaki Heller said that the preliminary reports from the scene indicated that seven to 10 people were maimed in the kaboom. However, Caliphornia hasn't yet slid into the ocean, no matter how hard it's tried... he added, there were no serious injuries reported.
Rebels fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad scored a significant victory on Friday when they took control of one of Syria's most important northern airbases, seizing tanks, helicopters and large amounts of ammunition.
Fighters had laid siege to the Taftanaz base near the town of Idlib for months. After seizing several buildings on Wednesday they stormed the sprawling complex on Friday morning. "As of now, the rebels are in full control of the air base," Idlib-based activist Mohammad Kanaan said.
A video from the scene shows jubilant rebels ripping down a large poster of Assad at the entrance gate. Others wave from the upper story of a barracks. Trucks carry off boxes of ammunition. The bodies of four government soldiers lay sprawled in a muddy pit.
In another video captured Sunni government soldiers claim their Alawite officers fled the base early on Friday, abandoning them to their fate. Government forces appear to have removed most of the 60 helicopters stationed at Taftanaz -- leaving behind around 20 that were apparently non-functional.
Update Syrian rebels: We're on our way to Assad
After seizing strategic airbase of Taftanaz, rebels turn to their main target: Presidential palace in Damascus. 'With Allah's help, we are headed in your direction Bashar,' websites affiliated with rebels state
The air base is a few miles from the Turkish border and 200 miles from Damascus. It took them 2 years of fighting to take the air base. At this rate, they'll take Damascus some time in the next 10 years.
[NY Times] Syria's government appeared to distance itself from further engagement with the special peace envoy of the United Nations ...aka the Oyster Bay Chowder and Marching Society... and Arab League ...an organization of Arabic-speaking states with 22 member countries and four observers. The League tries to achieve Arab consensus on issues, which usually leaves them doing nothing but a bit of grimacing and mustache cursing... on Thursday, declaring him "flagrantly biased" even as his efforts aimed at a political transition to end the nearly two-year-old Syrian conflict were accelerating.
The efforts by the special envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, include a planned meeting in Geneva on Friday with top diplomats from the two superpowers on opposite sides of the Syria conflict: the United States, which supports the insurgency, and Russia, which supports the Syrian government but has increasingly displayed ambiguity about support for Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad Before going into the family business Pencilneck was an eye doctor. If he'd stuck with it he'd have had a good practice by now... himself.
A statement from the Foreign Ministry in Damascus ...The capital of Iran's Syrian satrapy... denouncing Mr. Brahimi appeared to be a response to remarks he had made to Western news agencies the day before in which he suggested that President Assad must relinquish power and could not be part of any replacement government in Syria.
The verbal back-and-forth came as new flare-ups of insurgency violence hit Idlib Province in northwest Syria, where rebel fighters were reported to have raided an important air base housing helicopters and warplanes that Mr. Assad's military has been using to attack rebel-held territory and resupply soldiers.
One antigovernment activist said the military was blowing up those aircraft pre-emptively to prevent Islamic fascistifrom gaining access to them. Despite the increased range of weaponry used by the rebels, who include a number of air force pilot defectors, they have no aircraft.
New signs of civilian desperation were emerging on Thursday as well in the Syrian refugee camps of neighboring countries, particularly Jordan, where the United Nations children's agency issued an unusually blunt appeal for help at a mud-soaked encampment housing more than 54,000 Syrians, most of them women and kiddies.
The Syrian criticism of Mr. Brahimi, a veteran Algerian statesman who spent days talking with Mr. Assad and other Syrian officials in Damascus last month, raised the possibility that he, like his predecessor, Kofi Annan ...Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh and so far the worst Secretary-General of the UN. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for something or other that probably sounded good at the time. In December 2004, reports surfaced that Kofi's son Kojo received payments from the Swiss company Cotecna, which had won a lucrative contract under the UN Oil-for-Food Program. Kofi Annan called for an investigation to look into the allegations, which stirred up the expected cesspool but couldn't seem to come up with enough evidence to indict Kofi himself, or even Kojo... , could be sidelined into irrelevance by the antagonists in the conflict, who have shown little or no interest in dialogue as the violence has worsened. At least 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising against Mr. Assad began in March 2011, the United Nations said last week.
Mr. Brahimi told the BBC on Wednesday that Syrians want the Assad family to go after four decades in power. He told Rooters that he saw no place for Mr. Assad in any political transition.
Syria's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that such remarks were a surprise and showed that Mr. Brahimi "is flagrantly biased for those who are conspiring against Syria and its people." The ministry statement suggested that Syria's government had lost whatever faith it might have reserved for Mr. Brahimi. Still, it did not specifically declare unwillingness to work with him.
At the same time, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi of Iran, which is Mr. Assad's only friend in the region, expressed admiration for Mr. Assad and insisted that he must be part of any political solution to the conflict. Mr. Salehi made Iran's position clear during a visit to Egypt, which wants to see Mr. Assad deposed.
The Syrian jihad boy assault on the Idlib air base, the Taftanaz military airport, lasted for hours and included fighters from the jihadist groups Jabhet al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, according to accounts from antigovernment activists, rebel commanders and videos posted on the Internet. Rebel forces have ringed the air base for months but had never seized control.
The videos showed what appeared to be rebels in a commandeered armored vehicle driving near a fence on the base and firing at buildings, as well as fires raging near helicopters parked on the tarmac.
Abu Moyaed, the leader of a rebel battalion participating in the attacks, said in an interview from Turkey that the fighters had entered the airport, destroyed armored vehicles and aircraft, seized ammunition and withdrawn.
"It's very hard to stay there," he said, asserting that the government had used surface-to-surface rockets to attack their positions.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an anti-Assad group based in Britannia with a network of contacts inside Syria, said base defenders had also attacked the Islamic fascistiwith Arclight airstrikes. The observatory said more than 15 helicopters appeared to have been damaged and at least 24 soldiers and pro-Assad militia fighters had been captured by the attackers. Other rebel accounts claimed that 26 pilots had been captured.
Tarek Abdel-Haq, an activist in Idlib reached on Skype, said earlier that government forces had shelled the airport "to destroy the warplanes on the runway to make sure the rebels and people can't use them."
The fighting raged against the backdrop of brutal cold, snow and rain that have buffeted Syria and its neighbors for days. Winter flooding appeared to be worsening at the Zaatari camp run by the United Nations refugee agency and other groups in northern Jordan, where hundreds of tents were felled by storms earlier in the week. In a candid description of the conditions, Unicef, the United Nations children's agency, said it was working to help drain the flooding in the camp and replace waterlogged mattresses and clothes.
"The next 72 hours will be a critical test of our ability to meed the basic needs of children and their families at Zaatari," said Dominique Hyde, the Unicef representative in Jordan. She also appealed for more money, saying, "The resources in 2012 have been exhausted, and no fresh funds have come for this year."
There were conflicting reports about the possibility that Israel, the only country bordering Syria that has not accepted refugees in the conflict, might allow some to relocate in the Paleostinian territories of West Bank or Gazoo. Saeb Erekat ...negotiated the Oslo Accords with Israel. He has been chief Paleostinian negotiator since 1995. He is currently negotiating with Israel to establish a de jure Paleostinian state... , the chief Paleostinian negotiator, said the Paleostinian president, the ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas ... a graduate of the prestigious unaccredited Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow with a doctorate in Holocaust Denial... , had sought help from the ephemeral Ban Ki-moon ... of whom it can be said to his credit that he is not Kofi Annan... , the United Nations secretary general, in making such a request. Israeli officials had no comment.
Martin Nesirky, a United Nations front man, told news hounds that Mr. Ban "has expressed deep concern over Paleostinians in Syria" and had "called generally for assistance from countries in the region," but that he had no further comment.
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[An Nahar] Regime warplanes launched air raids Thursday on a military airbase in northwest Syria to try to dislodge rebels who have seized more than half of the compound amid fierce festivities on the ground, a watchdog said.
The strikes on Taftanaz military airport came after the hardline Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra Front battalions stormed it on Wednesday following a protracted siege, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Fighting continued inside the airbase on Thursday near the main buildings as warplanes and helicopters bombed the airport and surrounding areas, the watchdog said.
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How do you get rid of rebels crabs? Shave one half of your seized military base scrotum bald, dip the other half in gasoline, and set it on fire. When they run to the bald side, hit them with a baseball bat.
A multi-volume chronology and reference guide set detailing three years of the Mexican Drug War between 2010 and 2012.
Rantburg.com and borderlandbeat.com correspondent and author Chris Covert presents his first non-fiction work detailing
the drug and gang related violence in Mexico.
Chris gives us Mexican press dispatches of drug and gang war violence
over three years, presented in a multi volume set intended to chronicle the death, violence and mayhem which has
dominated Mexico for six years.