Up to 380,000 barrels of crude oil were previously produced by wells around the city of Raqqa and in the desert region to its east that are now in rebel hands – in particular Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda off-shoot which is the strongest faction in this part of the country.
Now the violently anti-Western jihadist group, which has been steadily extending its control in the region, is selling the crude oil to local entrepreneurs, who use home-made refineries to produce low-grade petrol and other fuels for Syrians facing acute shortages.
The ability of Jabhat al-Nusra to profit from the oil locally, despite international sanctions which have hindered its sale abroad, will be particularly worrying to the European Union, which has voted to ease the embargo but at the same time wants to marginalise the extremist group within the opposition.
In the battle for the future of the rebel cause, the oil-fields may begin to play an increasingly strategic role. All are in the three provinces closest to Iraq – Hasakeh, Deir al-Zour, and Raqqa, while the Iraqi border regions are the homeland of the Islamic State of Iraq, as al-Qaeda’s branch in the country calls itself.
It was fighters from Islamic State of Iraq, both Iraqi and Syrian, who are thought to have founded Jabhat al-Nusra as the protests against the rule of President Assad turned into civil war. Continue reading »
Syria’s embattled leader Bashar al-Assad has used a rare interview – carried out amid the sound of artillery fire resounding through his presidential palace in Damascus – to warn the United States and Russia that their efforts to bring about talks will do little to halt the civil war laying waste to his country, and that he has no intention of stepping down.
In an exclusive interview for the Argentinian newspaper Clarín, shared with the Observer, Assad says he welcomes attempts at dialogue, but believes that western states are looking for ways to fuel the violence, rather than stop it, and are seeking to topple his regime regardless of the toll.
Moscow and Washington have been in dispute over the anti-Assad uprising since it began in March 2011 but are now trying to find common ground to quell the bloodshed and destruction as its effects continue to reverberate across the region. If successful, there are hopes talks could take place at the end of this month and lead to a multilateral summit attended by key protagonists.
MOSCOW, May 14 (Alexey Eremenko, RIA Novosti) – If fresh media reports are true, Russia, Syria’s longtime supplier of military equipment, may soon provide Damascus – or already has – with advanced S-300 air defense systems, tipping the balance in the devastating 26-month conflict in the Middle Eastern country. But the “if” is a big one.
The missile batteries would give Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime a powerful weapon against foreign air strikes – one of the options being bounced around as a form of international intervention – and could fracture the fragile accord on Syria reached last week between Moscow and Washington, which hope to get the warring sides to negotiate.
Americans (at least the ones who know where Libya is) are understandably confused and angry about the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack that killed US ambassador Chris Stevens in Benghazi.
If they are looking to the current congressional hearings to clarify what really happened, they will be greatly disappointed.
Despite accusations by Republican leaders that Obama committed has treason and is trying to cover it up, they have no more interest than Democrats in bringing out the truth. No one wants the dirty little secret coming out that Stevens was involved in a covert CIA operation to funnel Libyan weapons and jihadists to Syria to fight the Assad regime.
The funding, arming and training of Al Qaeda terrorists for geopolitical ends is a well-established pillar of US foreign policy. (National Counterterrorism Center Report on Terrorism 2011). This isn’t a partisan issue, as CIA support for jihad has received equal levels of support from both Obama and his predecessor George W Bush.
This morning, the government of Israel contacted President Assad of Syria. They did so as the leader of a coalition now openly at war against Syria and Iran, with plans to broaden the conflict. Assad was told he would be allowed to continue his rule, but on the “Jordanian model,” as a puppet of Israel and Turkey.
ISRAELI ARTILLERY, “SHOCK AND AWE” FOR SYRIA’S ARMY
Israeli armor is now inside Syria, not just the occupied zone, but has closed the distance to Damascus and has that city under artillery fire.
The claimed air attacks are a ruse; Israel has been using 155 and 175 mm artillery, mobile howitzers of extreme range, enhanced by arms expert Gerald Bull, who was assassinated by Israeli agents in 1990 as his reward.
The artillery attacks on Syria, using time delay and cluster munitions, are in direct support of military actions with fire control and communications being supplied by Israeli UAV aircraft operating in Syrian air space in support of Al Qaeda led rebel group.
Israel’s real air force, from deep inside Syria
These terrorist groups, aided by extremists from Libya and the Gulf States are being trained and supplied in Jordan and Turkey. It is hard to ignore the fact that US troops, on a secret mission to verify Israeli claims of chemical weapon use by the Syrian government, are fully complicit in aiding Al Qaeda operations against the Syrian government.
As for chemical weapon use, a report from United Nations human rights investigators, according to Reuters, has verified that it is rebels who have been using these weapons, in particular, deadly Sarin Gas.
Former Swiss attorney general, Carla Del Ponte, representing the United Nations independent commission of inquiry, based in Geneva, is quoted in a televised interview:
“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of Sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated.
This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities.”
TEHRAN (FNA)- Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, while in Shanghai, was given a sharp dressing-down by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a warning that Russia would not tolerate further Israeli attacks on Damascus and would respond.
Putin did not say how, but he did announce he had ordered the acceleration of highly advanced Russian weapons supplies to Syria.
Israeli Debkafile’s military sources disclosed that the Russian leader was referring to S-300 anti-air systems and the nuclear-capable 9K720 Iskander (NATO named SS-26 Stone) surface missiles, which are precise enough to hit a target within a 5-7 meter radius at a distance of 280 kilometers.
In his phone call to Netanyahu, the Russian leader advised the prime minister to make sure to keep this in mind.