SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Armed groups inside Lebanon have shelled Syrian Army positions near the Lebanese border, where Damascus is beefing up its military forces, Press TV reports.
There have been no immediate reports of casualties from the attack, which occurred late on Saturday night, and no official comments have been made by officials in Syria or Lebanon.
Syria recently sent reinforcements to boost its troops in the Nahr al-Kabir border area.
Earlier in the day, Lebanese President Michel Sleiman ordered the army to prevent militants from crossing into neighboring Syria.
On Thursday, Damascus said that its troops would fire into Lebanon if terrorist groups continued to infiltrate into Syrian territory from the neighboring country.
“These past 36 hours, armed terrorist gangs have infiltrated Syrian territory in large numbers from Lebanon,” the Syrian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“Syrian forces are showing restraint by not striking these gangs inside Lebanese territory to prevent them crossing into Syria, but this will not go on indefinitely,” the statement added.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – The manager of an Apple store in Paris’s Opera district had a major headache to deal with on New Year's Day, but it had nothing to do with any partying the night before.
Armed robbers raided an Apple store in Paris’s Opera district on New Year’s Eve, making off with goods worth around a million euros ($1.32 million) in the process.
It seems the criminals chose their moment carefully, mindful of the fact that the police had their attention focused on the nearby Champs-Elysées where thousands were enjoying New Year celebrations.
Carrying handguns, around four or five masked raiders entered the store at about 9pm, three hours after it had closed for business. While some reports suggest they overpowered a security guard, others say it was a janitor who was targeted as he was leaving the store for the night.
The gang reportedly went for goods in the stock room rather than items on display, taking around 40 minutes to load up a waiting a truck. Items including iPhones, iMacs, iPads and laptops were taken in the raid.
“They prepared their coup pretty well,” Christophe Crépin of the French police Unsa told the media, adding that as “the essential bulk of police forces were mobilized to patrol the Champs-Elysées, the thieves clearly profited from the opportunity to make their move.”
Initial reports suggest goods worth a million euros were taken, though Paris police said the exact figure won’t be known until a full inventory has been taken. According to the Wall Street Journal, the New Year’s Eve crime marks the first time a major robbery of this nature has taken place at an Apple store in France. - www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - Pakistan is secretly racing to develop its own armed drones, frustrated with U.S. refusals to provide the aircraft, but is struggling in its initial tests with a lack of precision munitions and advanced targeting technology.
One of Islamabad's closest allies and Washington's biggest rivals, China, has offered to help by selling Pakistan armed drones it developed. But industry experts say there is still uncertainty about the capabilities of the Chinese aircraft.
The development of unmanned combat aircraft is especially sensitive in Pakistan because of the widespread unpopularity of the hundreds of U.S. drone strikes against Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the country's rugged tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
The Pakistani government denounces the CIA strikes as a violation of the country's sovereignty, though senior civilian and military leaders are known to have supported at least some of the attacks in the past. Pakistani officials also call the strikes unproductive, saying they kill many civilians and fuel anger that helps militants recruit additional fighters — allegations denied by the U.S.
Pakistan has demanded the U.S. provide it with armed drones, claiming it could more effectively carry out attacks against militants. Washington has refused because of the sensitive nature of the technology and doubts that Pakistan would reliably target U.S. enemies. The U.S. has held talks with Pakistan about providing unarmed surveillance drones, but Islamabad already has several types of these aircraft in operation, and the discussions have gone nowhere.
Inaugurating a defense exhibition in the southern city of Karachi last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf indicated Islamabad would look for help from Beijing in response to U.S. intransigence.
"Pakistan can also benefit from China in defense collaboration, offsetting the undeclared technological apartheid," said Ashraf.
Pakistan has also been working to develop armed drones on its own, said Pakistani military officials and civilians involved in the domestic drone industry, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the work.
Pakistan first began weapons tests seven or eight months ago with the Falco, an Italian drone used by the Pakistani air force for surveillance that has been modified to carry rockets, said a civilian with knowledge of the secret program. The military is also conducting similar tests with the country's newest drone, the Shahpur, he said. An unarmed version of the Shahpur was unveiled for the first time at the Karachi exhibition.
The weapons tests have been limited to a handful of aircraft, and no strikes have been carried out in combat, said the civilian.
Pakistan lacks laser-guided missiles like the Hellfire used on U.S. Predator and Reaper drones and the advanced targeting system that goes with it, so the military has been using unguided rockets that are much less accurate.
While Hellfire missiles are said to have pinpoint accuracy, the rockets used by Pakistan have a margin of error of about 30 meters (100 feet) at best, and an unexpected gust of wind could take them 300 meters (1,000 feet) from their intended target, said the civilian. Even if Pakistan possessed Hellfires and the guidance system to use them, the missile's weight and drag would be a challenge for the small drones produced by the country.
Pakistan's largest drone, the Shahpur, has a wingspan of about seven meters (22 feet) and can carry 50 kilograms (110 pounds). The U.S. Predator, which can be equipped with two Hellfire missiles, has a wingspan more than twice that and a payload capacity over four times as great.
Pakistani drones also have much more limited range than those produced in the U.S. because they are operated based on "line of sight" using radio waves, rather than military satellites. The Shahpur has a maximum range of 250 kilometers (150 miles), while the Predator can fly over five times that distance.
The British newspaper The Guardian reported Tuesday that Pakistan was working on an armed drone but did not provide details.
The market for drones has exploded in Pakistan and other countries around the world in recent years, as shown by the array of aircraft on display at the defense exhibition in Karachi. Hoping to tap into a worldwide market worth billions of dollars a year, public and private companies wheeled out over a dozen drones that ranged in size from hand-held models meant to be carried in a backpack to larger aircraft like the Shahpur.
All the Pakistani drones on display were advertised as unarmed and meant for surveillance only. One private company, Integrated Dynamics, even promotes its aircraft under the slogan "Drones for Peace." But several models developed by the Chinese government were marketed as capable of carrying precision missiles and bombs.
The Chinese government has offered to sell Pakistan an armed drone it has produced, the CH-3, which can carry two laser-guided missiles or bombs, industry insiders said.
Also being offered to Pakistan is a more advanced drone, the CH-4, which closely resembles a U.S. Reaper and can carry four laser-guided missiles or bombs, according to Li Xiaoli, a representative of the Chinese state-owned company that produces both the CH-3 and CH-4, Aerospace Long-march International Trade Co., Ltd.
Pakistan has yet to purchase any armed Chinese drones because their capabilities have yet to be proven, but is likely to do so in the future, said the civilian with knowledge of the Pakistani military's drone program.
Only a few countries, including the U.S., Britain and Israel, are known to have actually used armed drones in military operations.
"China is a bit of a tough nut to crack as you'd expect," said Huw Williams, a drone expert at Jane's International Defense Review. "They frequently wheel out exciting looking aircraft but are yet to really demonstrate anything earthshattering."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Armed forces carried out two qualitative operations against terrorists near al-Orouba and the Sports clubs in Bustan al-Basha Neighborhood in Aleppo.
The operations resulted in the killing of a number of terrorists.
The competent authorities confiscated 38,000 Liters of oil being prepared to be smuggled out near al-Barkoum Bridge in Aleppo.
Our armed forces direct painful blows to the armed terrorist groups in al-Hosn town in Homs countryside
The armed forces directed painful blows to the armed terrorist groups which were attacking the citizens and the law-enforcement forces in al-Hosn town and the adjacent villages in Homs countryside.
SANA reporter quoted a source in Homs province as saying that the armed forces killed and injured a large number of terrorists, among them a non-Syrian terrorist nicknamed “Abu Kassar”, the leader of one of the armed groups and terrorist Sameh Abdullah al-Daea who was injured.
Competent authorities also arrested terrorists Hlail Hamdan bin Shehadeh and Awad al-Bakri bin Khalaf while they were riding in a stolen car on al-Raqqa-Tal Abyad road.
Armed Forces Arrest Two Terrorists in Jaramana
A unit of the armed forces , in cooperation with the citizens, stormed a hideout for an armed terrorist group in Jaramana city, Damascus Countryside.
SANA reporter quoted an official source as saying that the armed forces arrested two terrorists and confiscated a counterfeit money machine and a sum of counterfeit foreign currencies with them.
Syrian forces air strikes targeted rebel-held police stations inside Aleppo city on Friday, ahead of talks between visiting peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and opposition groups in the 18-month conflict.
An AFP correspondent said three loud explosions were heard in Damascus, where Brahimi spent his first night ahead of meetings with the opposition groups tolerated by the government of President Bashar Al Assad.
Among those the UN and Arab League envoy is scheduled to meet is the opposition National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change, which brings together Arab nationalists, Kurds and socialists.
Hassan Abdel Azim, spokesman for the opposition bloc, said a delegation would meet Brahimi to inform him of their suggestions for a way out of crisis.
Brahimi, who was appointed earlier this month, said the conflict was getting worse, on arrival at Damascus airport on Thursday.
“We came to Syria to hold meetings with our Syrian brothers because there is a big crisis, and I think it is getting worse,” the Algerian veteran troubleshooter said, quoted by Syria’s Sana news agency.
Brahimimet Foreign Minister Walid Muallem on Thursday night. Muallem assured Brahimi of “Syria’s full cooperation” and stressed that any initiative must be based on “the interests of the Syrian people and their freedom of choice without foreign intervention”, Sana reported.
On the battlefront, Syrian forces on Friday used fighter jets and helicopter gunships to pound the city and province of Aleppo, where fierce clashes raged around a military airport, monitors said.
Warplanes bombarded the rebel-held towns of Al Bab and Marea near Aleppo city, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, adding that army forces and rebels fought around Minnigh military airport.
In the central Aleppo district of Midan, Syrian forces carried air strikes on two police stations which the rebels had taken over, according to Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
“Whenever the rebels take a police station, the government destroys them,” Abdel Rahman said by phone. “Now no one controls these posts,” he said, adding that “government forces have deployed throughout Midan to try and push out the rebels”.
In the Hanano district in the northeast of Aleppo city, air strikes destroyed another police station in the hands of the rebels, Abdel Rahman said.
Near the capital, at least 15 soldiers were killed or wounded in an attack on their vehicle in the restive town of Douma, where clashes broke out near the municipal building, the Observatory said.
In Damascus itself, three large explosions were heard in the late morning, according to an AFP reporter. The Observatory said that security forces swept its southern districts of Midan and Nahr Aisha.
The Observatory also reported “fierce clashes” inside the capital.
In Lebanon, Pope Benedict on Friday started a weekend visit with a call for an end to arms imports to Syria. “Arms imports must stop once and for all, because without arms imports, war cannot continue,” he told reporters on his plane.—www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Jafaria News
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — British armed forces’ morale has dropped since the coalition came to power in 2010 due to the government’s defence budget cuts, a new survey shows.
According to the annual Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS) by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), the number of people across the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, who think morale is high, has decreased by 10 percent, down from 25 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent in 2012.
The survey of 12,000 personnel, which was released on Thursday August 23, also found that the number of those who believe morale is low, has increased by 17 percent in the same period, up from 33 percent in 2010 to 50 percent in 2012.
Describing the figures as a “real worry and a terrible reflection” of the Tory-led government’s policy, Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said, “A botched review and cuts to vital support have made our Forces feel under-valued and over-stretched. Cutting the Army by 20,000 while we have so many of our Forces serving in Afghanistan is a real blow.”
Earlier in February, a research by the MoD found that the morale among British soldiers is at rock bottom as more of them feel insecure about their jobs since the British army is expected to shrink from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020.
A few days ago, British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond announced that the military’s “top-heavy” command will be slashed by a quarter under the new wave of defence cuts.—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — An Iranian lawmaker says “Israel” will be annihilated if it attacks Iran as the Zionist regime does not have the military ability to confront the Islamic Republic’s armed forces.
“A look at the past shows that whenever the Zionist regime [of “Israel”] has been cornered by domestic and international issues, it has resorted to threatening Iran and other independent countries of the world,” Hamid-Reza Tabatabaei said on Wednesday.
The member of Iran Majlis (parliament) Judicial and Legal Committee, emphasized that a practical threat against Iran by Israel will lead to the total destruction of the Zionist regime because Tel Aviv lacks the military might to withstand Iran’s response.
Tabatabaei further stated that international situation has changed and “Israel’s” neighbors are no longer its allies, adding, “The Islamic Awakening in the region has totally isolated the Zionist regime [of “Israel”].”
He said in spite of different viewpoints in Iran, in case of a foreign attack, the entire Iranian nation will be united against it.
On August 20, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi dismissed «israeli» officials’ threat of war as “worthless,” saying Tehran is capable of giving a crushing response to any aggression.
“Officials of the Zionist regime are having serious political disagreements and these remarks have no value,” the Iranian defense minister said.
Iranian authorities have dismissed the repeated «israeli» threats of military action against the Islamic Republic, warning that in case “Israel” makes the mistake of launching such an attack, it will spell the end of the «israeli» regime.
A number of senior Iranian military commanders have also emphasized that in case of any attack on Iran, the conflict is certain to expand well beyond the region.—www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: WR NEWZ
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — More than 250 men have taken up arms in Ghazni province and are fighting nearly daily skirmishes against determined Taliban attempts to retake the area.
Their armed campaign began in protest at insurgent edicts closing schools and bazaars, as well as resentment that the Taliban were outsiders taking orders from Pakistan.
In four months of fighting, the uprising has lost more than 20 members and claims to have cleared an enclave of Andar district which had previously been under tight Taliban control.
Its progress is being closely watched by Nato and Western officials who have long hoped the insurgents' repression might trigger a movement similar to the Sunni 'Awakening' brigades which turned against al-Qaeda in Iraq.
But they are doubtful over who is directing the revolt and wary it has been hijacked by leaders from other armed factions.
Many in the uprising seem as opposed to the international coalition and Hamid Karzai as they are to the insurgents.
Lotfullah Kamrani, a 24-year-old graduate who now commands dozens of anti-Taliban fighters, said his men were in daily clashes, some lasting up to 10 hours.
Since kicking out the insurgents from around a sixth of Andar's villages they had been able to reopen shops in the district centre and boys' schools which had been long closed.
Militiamen on motorbikes patrol their fields and villages armed with a jumble of their own weapons left over from the Russian occupation and ensuing civil war.
"The Taliban are very strong, but according to my belief the community is on our side and they cannot stand against us," Mr Kamrani said.
As he showed off his force, they received a call that Taliban had been spotted near one of their villages and several of his men took to their motorcycles to chase them away.
Frustration with the Taliban had grown in recent years, he said, as they appeared to be controlled more and more by outsiders from Pakistan.
"They were applying the law of Pakistan here in Afghanistan. They were creating their own rules on the orders of Pakistan," he said.
Mohammad Nazir, a 42-year-old father of four, said the Taliban had initially been welcomed in Andar, but had grown tyrannical.
"We were helpless in many things," he said. "The schools were closed, the shops were closed, my sons were not able to go to school. We had talked about what to do many times in the past, but we decided to rise up in the spring."
The Taliban deny the rebellion is a popular movement, saying it is funded and directed by America and the Afghan government. They have promised to retake the area and this week distributed letters again threatening to kill those who resist. Privately though, they have tried to negotiate.
"The Taliban have requested many times for us to talk with them," said Mr Kamrani. "There's no trust left though."
Many observers are still suspicious of who is really behind the uprising. Local MPs and Western officials say that Asadullah Khalid, Mr Karzai's southern security chief, had tried to take control and steer it to other areas.
Mr Khalid and Mr Kamrani both confirmed he was helping the uprising to find ammunition, but claimed he was acting independently of the government because his family was from Ghazni province. The government had no involvement in the uprising, they said.
Another fear is that the fighting may only be a power grab by a rival armed faction which had been disguised as a popular movement.
Mohammad Aref Shah Jahan, a former intelligence chief in the province, said the revolt had been orchestrated by members of Hizb-i-Islami, a powerful faction dating from the war against the Russian invasion of the 1980s founded by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and remembered for its brutality in the civil war. Hekmatyar has led his own insurgency against Nato and Mr Karzai since 2002.
Fighters conceded that many of their number had once belonged to this group, but denied they were organised along political lines.
Faizanullah Faizan, a former governor and senior Hizb-i-Islami commander now playing a leading role in the uprising, said: "It's a 100 per cent civilian uprising. It doesn't belong to any political party, but we are made up of all the old groups."
Nato commanders stress they are watching, but not giving support. Brigadier-General Lewis Boone, from the International Security Assistance Force, said: "The basic situation in Andar is they don't like us and they don't like the Taliban. They want to be left alone essentially. Are we looking at it closely? You bet we are. Is it another uprising like we saw in Iraq? I think that would be a leap."—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The armed men belonging to terrorist group of Sipah-e-Sahaba attacked Shia Muslims at a religious seminary in Ubauro area of Ghotki district on Sunday evening.
The believers were offering night prayers when notorious terrorists attacked them. Three Shia students were injured due to torture.
Police arrested two of the attackers but later they released them.
Shia leaders have condemned the attack and release of the terrorists. They said police have turned biased and partial. They demanded that these terrorists be arrested and punished for the attack.—www.shafaqna.com/english
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Following reports about Saudi Arabia’s attempts to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan, a political analyst says an “archaic, kleptomaniac and totalitarian” Riyadh armed with nukes is as much a danger as Israel.
“Saudi Arabia is as much a danger as Israel. Its stunted development means that it will always have aggressive feelings towards more successful societies and, in particular, it is terrified of any expression of democracy. It has already occupied Bahrain and Wikileaks revealed the Saudi desire to attack Iran,” Rodney Shakespeare wrote in an article published on Press TV website.
Shakespeare emphasized that Saudi Arabia, “which has no depth of culture, no political legitimacy, [and] no technological success,” feels threatened by the political, cultural and technological progress of Iran.
Describing the Saudi regime as “archaic, kleptomaniac and totalitarian” which has no place in the Modern world, Shakespeare added that, “Despite vicious suppression, democratic forces are stirring and have even reached the capital, Riyadh, where protesters [are] shouting slogans against the Saudi regime.”
“Saudi Arabia, of course, is also a player of the sectarian card considering Shias as inferior, even non-Muslim. Playing the sectarian card is mad arrogance which will rebound on Saudi Arabia some day.”
Citing German intelligence reports about Wahhabis committing Houla Massacre of over one hundred people in May 2012 in Syria, Shakespeare said Saudi Arabia is exporting bigotry and viciousness and sending terrorists to Syria.
“We must hope that the Americans - who indulge the Saudis in their every whim and cruelty - will have the sense to stop Saudi Arabia from getting the atom bomb,” he concluded. —www.shafaqna.com/english
Source: Press TV