RT – Syrian armed forces launch large-scale offensive against ISIS – Syrian General Staff

RT NEWS
Published time: 8 Oct, 2015 07:13
Edited time: 8 Oct, 2015 12:52

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Multiple rocket launchers Grad fire at positions of ISIS militants near the border between Homs and Hama Governorates, Syria. © Michael Alaeddin / RIA Novosti

 

The Syrian Army announced a large-scale offensive aimed at retaking several key cities and regions from terrorist forces after a week-long bombing campaign by Russia targeting the jihadists.

The government forces “have been keeping the initiative for several years,” said General Ali Abdullah Ayyoub, the head of the Syrian General Staff, announcing the offensive. The offensive was made possible by the effort made by Russia in supporting the Syrian government militarily, Ayyoub said.

“The airstrikes of the Russian Air Force have damaged the capabilities of the international terrorist organization Islamic State and other groups,” the general said.

READ MORE: Less talk, more action: Russian jets destroy ISIS HQs, tanks, munition depots – all in just 1 week

Russian warplanes began attacking terrorist targets in Syria last week, hitting over 100 targets throughout the country. According to Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad, Russia “has produced significant results in several days that greatly surpass those achieved by the [US-led anti-ISIS] coalition in over a year.”

 

Syria: Assad’s ground troops launch offensive against IS in Hama and Idlib

 

 

Earlier, local media reported that government forces were deployed in several Syrian provinces with the biggest operation taking place in Hama, 200 kilometers north of the capital, Damascus. Lebanese TV channel Al-Manar said the Syrian army group in Hama advanced some 50 kilometers on Wednesday, taking several towns and strategically important mountain strongholds from militants of the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, and other terrorist groups operating in the area.

Syrian government forces also went on the offensive in the Idlib province.

Arms, Conflict, Corruption, Hillary Clinton, Law, Middle East, Military, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Scandal, Security, USA

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton holds hands with her husband former U.S. President Bill Clinton (Reuters / Jim Young)

As the Obama administration increased military weapons exports, Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved transfer of more than $300 billion worth of arms manufactured by US defense contractors to 20 nations that were or have since become donors of the Clinton Foundation, a major philanthropic organization run by the Clinton family. According to a review of available records of foundation donors by the International Business Times, those countries included governments that have received frequent criticism by the State Department for repressive policies.

“Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Qatar all donated to the Clinton Foundation and also gained State Department clearance to buy caches of American-made weapons even as the department singled them out for a range of alleged ills, from corruption to restrictions on civil liberties to violent crackdowns against political opponents,” IBT wrote.

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Algeria, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar were nations that directly donated to the Clinton Foundation during Clinton’s term as secretary of state, even as they were requesting weapons shipments. The donated money represents a loophole in US law regarding political contributions.

“Under federal law, foreign governments seeking State Department clearance to buy American-made arms are barred from making campaign contributions — a prohibition aimed at preventing foreign interests from using cash to influence national security policy,” IBT noted. “But nothing prevents them from contributing to a philanthropic foundation controlled by policymakers.”

The reviewed sales — both commercial and Pentagon-brokered — represent those made during “three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as secretary of state (from October 2010 to September 2012),” IBT reported. The deals made with the nations in question during this time add up to far more than arms agreements made with the same countries during the last three full fiscal years of George W. Bush’s administration, according to the report.

“The word was out to these groups that one of the best ways to gain access and influence with the Clintons was to give to this foundation,” Meredith McGehee, policy director at the Campaign Legal Center, told IBT. “This shows why having public officials, or even spouses of public officials, connected with these nonprofits is problematic.”

The Clinton Foundation’s donor list has come under closer examination since Hillary Clinton announced she is seeking the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2016. In April, the Clintons acknowledged they have made “mistakes” regarding transparency amid increased public scrutiny concerning donations from foreign entities, especially when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, from 2009 to 2013.

Earlier this month, former President Bill Clinton defended his family foundation’s donors.

“I don’t think there’s anything sinister in trying to get wealthy people in countries that are seriously involved in development to spend their money wisely in a way that helps poor people and lifts them up,” Mr. Clinton told NBC News.

The Clinton Foundation signed a foreign donor disclosure agreement just before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state, yet neither the department nor the White House raised issues with potential conflicts of interest regarding the weapons agreements.

IBT reported that in 1995 President Clinton signed a presidential policy directive demanding the State Department take into account human rights abuses when considering the approval of military equipment or arms purchases from US companies. Yet Mrs Clinton’s State Department ignored this stipulation, helping the Obama administration increase weapons transfers.

The State Department, under the aegis of Clinton, hammered the Algerian government in its 2010 Human Rights Report for “restrictions on freedom of assembly and association,” allowing “arbitrary killing,” “widespread corruption,” and a “lack of judicial independence.”

“That year, the Algerian government donated $500,000 to the Clinton Foundation and its lobbyists met with the State Department officials who oversee enforcement of human rights policies. Clinton’s State Department the next year approved a one-year 70 percent increase in military export authorizations to the country,” IBT reported. “The increase included authorizations of almost 50,000 items classified as ‘toxicological agents, including chemical agents, biological agents and associated equipment’ after the State Department did not authorize the export of any of such items to Algeria in the prior year.

“During Clinton’s tenure, the State Department authorized at least $2.4 billion of direct military hardware and services sales to Algeria — nearly triple such authorizations over the last full fiscal years during the Bush administration. The Clinton Foundation did not disclose Algeria’s donation until this year — a violation of the ethics agreement it entered into with the Obama administration.”

IBT also reported that major US weapons manufacturers and financial corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Goldman Sachs paid Bill Clinton lucrative speaking fees “reaching $625,000” just as arms deals they had an interest in were in the works with Mrs Clinton’s State Department.

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Hillary Clinton had pledged during her Senate confirmation hearings in 2009 that “in many, if not most cases, it is likely that the Foundation or President Clinton will not pursue an opportunity that presents a conflict.”

US weapons sales tripled in 2011 to a new yearly high of $66.3 billion, according to the New York Times, mostly driven by sales to Persian Gulf nations allied against Iran. This dollar total made up nearly 78 percent of all worldwide arms deals that year, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Reuters reported in January 2013 that the State Department office that has oversight of direct commercial arms sales “was on track to receive more than 85,000 license requests in 2012, a new record.”

The boom in arms sales by the Obama administration has continued to the present day, as Arab allies like Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are using American-made fighter jets against Islamic State and for proxy wars in places like Yemen and Syria.

According to the Times, foreign weapons sales now represent 25 percent to 30 percent of revenue taken in by Lockheed Martin, one of the top US-based arms dealers.

​Clinton Foundation admits ‘mistakes’ amid concerns of foreign donors 20

RT NEWS – 2 April, 2015

16:10

China protests, 2 US jet fighters make emergency landing at Taiwan air base

China protested on Thursday after two American jet fighters landed at an air base in Taiwan, for the first time in 30 years, AFP said. Two US F-18 fighter jets made an emergency landing at an air force base in the southern city of Tainan on Wednesday. One of the planes had developed a mechanical failure, according to US authorities. “We require the US to abide by the ‘One-China Policy’ and the three joint communiqués between China and the US, and to prudently deal with the relevant issue,” Hua Chunying, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said in Beijing.

15:06

Bahraini rights activist Rajab arrested – family

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14:21

Ukraine president signs law to ban films ‘glorifying’ Russian military, law enforcers

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13:59

Second black box found from Alps plane crash

The second black box from the Germanwings plane that crashed in the French Alps last week has been found after a nine-day search, AFP reported, citing French police. Authorities are hoping to unearth more clues about the disaster. The first voice recorder suggested that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz deliberately locked the plane on a collision course with the mountains, according to investigators.

13:18

Palestinians, Syrian rebels retake control of Damascus refugee camp from ISIS

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12:46

Planes to fly from Yemen to Moscow with evacuated Russian nationals

Two Russian planes are preparing to fly to Moscow with evacuated Russian nationals on board, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said on Thursday. “Two Russian planes are at Sanaa’s airport now. One of them has been loaded, there are 167 people aboard. In the next few minutes, it will take off through Cairo [to Moscow],” TASS quoted him as saying. The second plane will carry at least 150 people. At least three aircraft of Russia’s Defense Ministry will help evacuate Russian citizens from Yemen, a military-diplomatic source told TASS on Thursday. Clashes have intensified in Yemen between Shia rebels and the Arab military coalition.

10:30

Turkey detains 4 Russian citizens for trying to cross Syrian border illegally

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09:36

Heavy fighting between Houthi militants, gunmen in Yemen’s Aden Crater district

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09:05

Plane flying from Cairo to Sanaa, Yemen, to evacuate Russian citizens

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08:43

Suicide bomber kills 16, wounds 40 in E. Afghanistan

A suicide bomber attacked an anti-corruption demonstration in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, killing 16 people and wounding 40, AP said. The explosion in the eastern city of Khost wounded a local member of parliament, Hamayun Hamayoon, according to a governor’s spokesman. Earlier on Thursday, the police chief of a restive district in the country’s south was killed by a roadside bomb.

08:03

10 Egyptian troops killed in Sinai attacks

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07:32

Al-Qaeda militants storm prison in SE Yemen, free 300 inmates

Al-Qaeda militants stormed a prison in southeastern Yemen’s Hadramawt province on Thursday. They freed more than 300 prisoners, AFP reported, citing a security official. Khalid Batarfi, a senior Al-Qaeda figure who had been held for more than four years, was among the escapees.

03:28

​Israeli approve Palestinian neighborhood construction in E. Jerusalem

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00:13

9 UK nationals detained in Turkey trying to cross to Syria

Nine British nationals have been arrested by Turkey’s authorities after they tried to illegally cross the border into Syria, the army announced. The arrests took place in the Hatay region of southern Turkey. No more information has been offered. The UK Foreign Office said it was aware of the reports and are on standby to offer consular assistance.