SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Anti-war groups will protest at the UK airbase from which the country has begun controlling its fleet of assassination drones in Afghanistan. Previously, the remote pilots were deployed only in the US.
Four anti-war groups – including CND, the Drone Campaign Network, Stop the War and War on Want – are staging a nonviolent protest on Saturday over drone use by the Waddington base in Lincolnshire.
The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has opened drone control stations at the base located south of Lincoln this week to work in tandem with those already in place at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. In 2010, the Ministry of Defence decided it needs the capability to remotely operate its armed drones from its own soil following a strategic security review.
Waddington is home to the new 13 squadron created for this purpose in October last year. The unit consists of about 100 personnel, including pilots, systems operators and engineers.
Together with the Nevada unit, the squadron will be remotely controlling UK's drones, including the armed Reaper drones, which can drop laser-guided bombs and launch Hellfire missiles.
"We aren't flying any more operations than we were before, but with the time differences between the US, Afghanistan and the UK, it is now possible for pilots at Waddington to work in relay with the those in the US," a source told the Guardian while explaining the rationale behind the new unit.
The UK deploys a relatively small, but still sizable, drone fleet in Afghanistan, mostly consisting of surveillance aircraft. There are five British Reapers deployed in the region, and the MoD plans to double that number this year.
Protesters expressed fears over the UK's development of the drone program, which is marred by its association with its US counterpart. Washington uses CIA-operated drones in the targeted killings of suspected militants, which critics say results in an unacceptable number of civilian deaths and has shaky legal and moral grounds.
"Drones, controlled far away from conflict zones, ease politicians' decisions to launch military strikes and order extra-judicial assassinations, without democratic oversight or accountability to the public," Rafeef Ziadah, War on Want senior campaign manager said. "Now is the time to ban killer drones – before it is too late."
The British military insist that their use of drones saves soldiers' and civilians' lives, and is no different from that of piloted aircraft.
"UK Reaper aircraft are piloted by highly trained professional military pilots who adhere strictly to the same laws of armed conflict and are bound by the same clearly defined rules of engagement which apply to traditionally manned RAF aircraft," an MoD spokesman said. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –The Taliban in Afghanistan vowed on Saturday to start a new campaign of mass suicide attacks on foreign military bases and diplomatic areas, as well as damaging "insider attacks", as part of a new spring offensive this year.
The offensive was announced via emails from Taliban spokesmen. The Islamist group has made similar announcements in recent years, which have sometimes been followed by spikes in violence after Afghanistan's harsh winter months.
The announcement of more mass suicide and insider attacks will likely be greeted with concern by the NATO-led military coalition, which is in the final stages of a fight against the Taliban-led insurgency that began in late 2001.
However, there was no immediate reaction to the Taliban's statement from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
After announcing their spring offensive last year, the Taliban launched a large attack in Kabul involving suicide bombers and an 18-hour firefight targeting Western embassies, ISAF headquarters and the Afghan parliament.
The start of the traditional "fighting season" is particularly important this year, with ISAF increasing the rate at which it hands security responsibility to Afghan forces before the withdrawal of most foreign troops by the end of 2014.
The Taliban statement said this year's offensive, named after Khalid bin Waleed, one of the companions of the Islamic prophet Mohammad, will involve "special military tactics" similar to those carried out previously.
"Collective martyrdom operations on bases of foreign invaders, their diplomatic centers and military airbases will be even further structured while every possible tactic will be utilized in order to detain or inflict heavy casualties on the foreign transgressors," the statement said.
Insider attacks, also known as "green on blue" attacks, involve Afghan police or soldiers turning their guns on their ISAF trainers and counterparts. They have grown considerably since last year and have strained relations between Kabul and foreign forces.
However, there is considerable debate over how many can be attributed to infiltration by insurgents and how many are by disgruntled members of the Afghan security forces.
Last August, then ISAF commander, U.S. General John Allen, said about a quarter of such attacks involved the Taliban.
The spring offensive was coordinated to begin on April 28 to coincide with a national holiday to mark the overthrow of the Soviet-backed government of Mohammad Najibullah in 1992, the statement said.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –The Kurdish rebel group the PKK has announced it will withdraw its thousands of fighters from Turkey starting on May 8.
The rebels from the Kurdistan Worker's Party (PKK), who have been fighting the Turkish government for the last three decades, will move to northern Iraq after leaving Turkish territory.
During the announcement, the armed group warned Turkey's powerful military against "provocations" which would result in the end of the pledged withdrawal.
Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from the Qandil mountains where the news conference was held, said the withdrawal would take a phased approach.
"It will be a phased withdrawal from Turkey. They won't put a number on how many fighters are coming but speaking later the PKK officials estimated that it will take several months for them to withdraw," she said.
"That's partly because this will be conducted as a guerrilla operation. One of the keys here is that they intend to keep their weapons. There will be no laying down of weapons in Turkey before they withdraw.
"They say they'll go undercover of night with their weapons and eventually, once they're all gathered in northern Iraq, they say with the approval of Kurdish authorities here they will discuss disarming."
The pro-Kurdish Firat news agency says rebel commander Murat Karayilan made the withdrawal announcement on Thursday at a news conference in northern Iraq where the PKK's leadership is based.
"As part of ongoing preparations, the withdrawal will begin on May 8, 2013," Karayilan said.
"Our forces will use their right to retaliate in the event of an attack, operation or bombing against our withdrawing guerrilla forces and the withdrawal will immediately stop."
New constitution demanded
The announcement comes after the PKK's jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan ordered on March 21 a historic ceasefire following clandestine negotiations with the Turkish secret service aimed at disarming the rebel group.
Karayilan also outlined "obligations" the Turkish government needs to meet for peace to be achieved, including enacting a new constitution, the dismantling of special security units established to fight the rebels and an amnesty for all imprisoned fighters, including Ocalan.
Karayilan said the PKK's leader, nicknamed Apo, had "fulfilled all of his responsibilities."
"The total dismantling of weapons and the disarmament of the guerrillas will come to the agenda when everyone, including our leader Apo, reaches their freedom," he said.
"Apo has fulfilled all of his responsibilities, now it is the Turkish government and our turn."
A nationalist party is strongly opposed to the peace efforts and objects to freedom for Ocalan, whom it calls the "monster of Imrali," in reference to the prison island where he is held.
"The only thing the PKK must do is to lay down its arms and give itself up to justice," Oktay Vural, a legislator from the Nationalist Action Party, said.
"There isn't a single concession the Turkish people can give the PKK terrorist organisation."
The PKK, blacklisted as a terrorist group by Turkey and other countries, started an armed rebellion in the Kurdish-majority southeast in 1984.
The group had originally demanded full independence for a Kurdish state in southeastern Turkey, but has moderated its goals to broader political and cultural autonomy. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Fighting between Nigeria's military and the armed group Boko Haram has left at least 185 people dead in a fishing community in the nation's far northeast, officials said on Sunday.
The fighting in Baga began on Friday and lasted for hours, sending people fleeing into the arid scrublands surrounding the community on Lake Chad, according to the AP news agency.
By Sunday, when government officials finally felt safe enough to see the destruction, homes, businesses and vehicles were burned throughout the area.
The assault marks a significant escalation in a long-running insurgency in the predominantly Muslim north, where Boko Haram has mounted a coordinated assault on soldiers using military-grade weaponry.
Boko Haram, which means "Western education is forbidden" in the Hausa language of Nigeria's north, has said it wants its imprisoned members freed and Nigeria to adopt strict Islamic law.
Authorities had found and buried at least 185 bodies as of Sunday afternoon, said Lawan Kole, a local government official in Baga. Officials could not offer a breakdown of civilian casualties versus those of soldiers and fighters.
Many of the bodies had been burned beyond recognition in fires that razed whole sections of the town, residents said.
Brigadier General Austin Edokpaye said the Boko Haram fighters used heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in the assault, which began after soldiers surrounded a mosque they believed housed members of the group.
Edokpaye said they used civilians as human shields during the fighting, implying that soldiers opened fire in neighbourhoods where they knew civilians lived.
"When we reinforced and returned to the scene the terrorists came out with heavy firepower, including [rocket-propelled grenades], which usually has a conflagration effect," the general said.
However, local residents who spoke to a journalist who accompanied the state officials said soldiers purposefully set the fires during the attack.
Violence by security forces in the northeast targeting civilians has been widely documented by journalists and human rights activists.
A similar raid in Maiduguri, Borno state's capital, in October saw soldiers kill at least 30 civilians and set fires across a neighborhood.
On Sunday afternoon, the burned bodies of cattle and goats still filled the streets in Baga. Bullet holes marred burned buildings. Fearful residents of the town had begun packing to leave with their remaining family members before nightfall.
"Everyone has been in the bush since Friday night; we started returning back to town because the governor came to town today," grocer Bashir Isa said.
"To get food to eat in the town now is a problem because even the markets are burnt. We are still picking corpses of women and children in the bush and creeks."
The insurgency in Nigeria grew out of a 2009 riot led by Boko Haram members in Maiduguri, which ended in a military and police crackdown that killed around 700 people. The group's leader died in police custody in an apparent execution.
Shootings, suicide bombings and other attacks carried out by the group have killed at least 1,548 people before Friday's attack, according to an AP tally.
Fighters suspected to belong to Boko Haram also have been seen in northern Mali, where heavily armed rebels took power last year in the weeks following a military coup.
Analysts say Boko Haram may get its hands on weapons smuggled out of Libya following its recent civil war.
Despite the deployment of more soldiers and police to northern Nigeria, the nation's weak central government has been unable to stop the killings. -www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A deputy chief of staff of Iran's Armed Forces says the Iranian military is prepared to deliver a swift response to any attempted attack by the Israeli regime.
“The Armed Forces are completely ready to act according to what the Leader [of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei] said in his remarks in the shortest possible time,” Brigadier General Mohammad Hejazi said Monday.
The commander expressed hope that the Israeli regime would not commit such a folly.
In his message on the occasion of Nowruz (Persian New Year) on March 21, Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran would raze Tel Aviv to the ground if Israel attempts a military strike against the Islamic Republic.
“Israel’s leaders sometimes threaten Iran, but they know that if they do a damn thing, the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and [the occupied city of] Haifa to the ground,” the Leader stated.
Israel has threatened to attack Iran's nuclear facilities based on the unfounded allegation that the Iranian nuclear energy program has been diverted towards military purposes.
Iran rejects the allegations against its nuclear energy program, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source: Press TV
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) South Korea has raised its military alert status, a senior military official has said, as tensions remain high on the Korean peninsula.
The Combined Forces Command in Seoul has raised its "Watchcon 3" status, a normal defence condition, by one level in order to step up monitoring, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday.
The senior Defence Ministry official also said that North Korea has completed preparations for a missile test that could come "any day".
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the North's military is capable of conducting multiple missile launches involving Scud and medium-range Rodong missiles, as well as a missile transported to the east coast recently.
The warning came as Pyongyang prepared to mark the April 15 birthday of its founder Kim Il-sung.
The date is historically a time when it seeks to draw the world's attention with dramatic displays of military power.
Admiral Samuel Locklear, the commander of US forces in the Pacific region, said the US military also believed the North had moved an unspecified number of Musudan missiles to its east coast.
An Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Reuters news agency "our working assumption is that there are two missiles that they may be prepared to launch".
Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary general, who once served as South Korean foreign minister, said he is "deeply concerned and troubled" at the level of tension in the peninsula.
"If any small incident caused by miscalculation or misjudgement, it may create an uncontrollable situation," Ban said.
Yun Byung-se, the South Korean foreign minister, told a parliamentary hearing in Seoul that he was working through diplomatic channels in an attempt to rein in Pyongyang.
China is North Korea's only major ally, although it backed recent United Nations resolutions against Pyongyang, and Moscow was a supporter of North Korea as the Soviet Union.
Pyongyang has frequently tested short-range Scud missiles, but the longer-range Musudan and Nodong missiles are an unknown quantity.
The Musudan missiles are reckoned to have a range of roughly 3,000-3,500km.
The North has earlier said it would target American bases in the Pacific, although it is not known whether the untested missiles have the range to do so.
"If the missile was in defence of the homeland, I would certainly recommend that action [of intercepting it]. And if it was defence of our allies, I would recommend that action," Admiral Locklear told a US Senate hearing in Washington.
Pyongyang has turned up its rhetoric in recent weeks after the United Nations Security Council imposed sanctions for the impoverished state's third nuclear weapons test in February.
It has threatened a nuclear strike on the United States - something it does not have the capacity to carry out - and "war" with the South Korea.
In a separate development, a group of South Korean workers left the the joint industrial zone of Kaesong ahead of a deadline issued by North Korea to shut down the border.
Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from the border town of Paju, said a convoy of cars carrying the workers had crossed from the North on Wednesday morning.
She added that more than 100 workers were expected to leave by the deadline, which was set to expire later on Wednesday. Earlier, it was reported that only 79 workers were set to leave.
With the updated number, only about 300 workers and business owners are expected to stay at the complex within North Korea beyond the deadline.
Another 35 workers are also planning to on Thursday, but it is uncertainty whether they will be allowed across the border by North Korea authorities.
Despite the alert level, our correspondent also said that civilians in South Korea are not taking the threats from the North as seriously as the government.
The North has been threatening the United States and its "puppet" South Korea on an almost a daily basis in recent weeks, although the threats appear to be aimed partly at boosting internal support for young leader Kim Jong-un.
Analysts say the current tensions will likely last until the end of April, when joint US-South Korean military drills end.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –The Pentagon has put on hold an intercontinental ballistic missile test in California, planned for next week, citing rising tensions with North Korea.
According to an official, speaking to AP on condition of anonymity, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has expressed concern that performing any tests at present could be misconstrued and lead to an escalation of the situation with North Korea. He therefore, decided to postpone the 'Minuteman 3' missile test until next month, the official said on Friday – although the test itself bears no connection to the ongoing military exercises between South Korea and the US around the Korean Peninsula.
The defense official added that "this is the logical, prudent and responsible course of action to take."
The 450 'Minuteman 3' missiles America has can circle the globe, and are part of the three branches of the US nuclear arsenal. Other such weapons include submarine-launched ballistic missiles and those capable of being launched by bombers and stealth bombers, like the B-52 and the B-2.
Some of the latest developments in the current escalation of war rhetoric between the United States and North Korea have included Pyongyang declaring that it now has final approval for a nuclear strike on US bases in the Pacific and South Korea. The announcement earlier this week came on the heels of the US deploying its F-22 fighter jets, a ‘USS Fitzgerald’ destroyer, and strengthening its missile defenses in the region.
In the meantime, North Korea has sent out a proposal to all foreign embassies on its territory to evacuate, although, so far no embassy has done so.
“The security of the German embassy and its exposure to danger are continually being evaluated,” the German Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “For now, the embassy can continue working.”
Currently, about two dozen countries have embassies in North Korea. Most of the represented governments have already made it clear they had no immediate plans to withdraw personnel; some suggested the advisory was just a ruse to fuel growing global anxiety over the current crisis on the Korean Peninsula.
“We believe they have taken this step as part of their country's rhetoric that the US poses a threat to them,” a British Foreign Office spokeswoman said.
Tensions are now higher than they have been at any moment during this latest standoff, which followed Pyongyang’s third mid-range missile test in February, provoking international condemnation and a fresh round of UN Security Council sanctions, to which Pyongyang has replied with the threat of a nuclear strike on the US.
Last week, Pyongyang declared it had entered a state of war with its southern neighbor, following an earlier decision to withdrawal from the 60-year armistice that ended the Korean War. North Korea had previously threatened to pull out of the 1953 armistice if the South did not halt a joint annual military exercise with the US.
Despite the worrying rhetoric and the displays of military power between the two countries, Washington says it has no evidence of North Korea engaging in any kind of mobilization effort for a large-scale attack.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Washington is this week deploying a dozen F/A-18 fighters to the Philippines, the first time it has sent so many of the aircraft there, to take part in annual military drills with a close security ally amid rising tension in the Asia-Pacific region.
The presence of the warplanes is not connected to tensions on the Korean peninsula, a Philippine army spokesman said.
"These exercises were planned more than a year ago, well ahead of what is now happening in the region," Major Emmanuel Garcia said.
The United States plans to send a missile defense system to protect Pacific island Guam, where it has a large military base, after North Korea threatened to launch nuclear attacks on the North American mainland over disagreements on its atomic program.
The bilateral military activities will begin on Friday with 8,000 American and Filipino troops staging mock battles and simulating disaster responses, army spokesman Garcia said.
The war games are being held to test the two allies' defense plans based on the Mutual Defense Treaty, an important link in Washington's chain of security alliances in the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. has similar military arrangements with South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Australia.
"There will be table top exercises on how the militaries of the two countries would respond to a destructive typhoon as well as in the event of a major ship collision on the high seas," Garcia said, adding the combat aspect would showcase the capability of the U.S. Navy's multi-role fighters.
The Philippines lost its fighter capability around a decade ago after retiring its fleet of Vietnam War-era F-5A/Bs.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –A report reveals that thousands of Iraqi scholars have been assassinated by Israel’s Mossad spy agency in collaboration with CIA agents since the occupation of Iraq.
According to the report published by a British magazine, since 2003 over 5,500 scholars have been killed by CIA-Mossad agents in Iraq.
The report added that Mossad has formed secret terror groups to kill Iraqi scientists, intellectuals, researchers and physicians as well as nuclear and chemical experts.
The report also indicates that Israeli intelligence officials ordered the secret terror groups and sent them to Iraq.
On March 19, 2003, US-led forces invaded Iraq under the pretext of wiping out the stocks of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) belonging to the executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime. However, no such weapons were ever discovered in the country.
Hundreds of thousands of people were killed and Iraq’s infrastructure was destroyed following the US-led invasion and subsequent occupation of the country.-www.shafaqna.com/English
Source:islamic invitation turkey
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Dozens of suspected militants attacked a major power station in northwest Pakistan with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades and killed seven people, police said on Tuesday.
The assault, in the run-up to May 11 general elections, destroyed the biggest power station in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, suspending electricity supply to half of the major city of Peshawar.
It served as a reminder that Pakistan's leaders have failed to tackle a Taliban insurgency that remains potent despite a series of security crackdowns.
Pakistan's Taliban, which is close to al Qaeda, has threatened to escalate violence ahead of the polls, including attacks on political rallies.
Police official Mohammad Ishaq said two people, a policeman and a security guard, were killed on the spot and five others died after being kidnapped in Monday's incident.
The bullet-riddled bodies of the captives have been recovered, the official added. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
"They entered the grid station and started setting ablaze each and every thing. They kidnapped nine people and killed five of them later and threw their bodies in the fields," Ishaq said.
Four Water and Power Department employees who were kidnapped were still missing, he said.
The militants had destroyed the entire grid station, said Shaukat Afzal, a spokesman of the Peshawar Electric Supply Company.
"People may face some extra power load shedding in the coming days," he added.
Pakistan's military has failed to break the back of the Taliban, despite numerous offensives against their strongholds in the semiautonomous tribal areas near the Afghan border.-www.shafaqna.com/English