Saturday, December 26, 2015

Syrian Media: Israel Hits Hezbollah Targets In Qalamoun Area, IS Head: 'Palestine Will Be Graveyard' For Jews,

Israeli warplanes hit Hezbollah targets in the Qalamoun area of Syria in a series of at least seven airstrikes, Syrian media outlets reported Saturday night.
The Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on the alleged airstrikes. Hezbollah denied Israeli raids had targeted their positions, according to Channel 2.
According to Channel 2, the IDF released a statement before the reports emerged warning that, in the coming hours sounds of explosions may be heard in the Upper Galilee. These are initiated andcontrolled explosionsthat were planned in advance and not a security incident.”

The reported strikes came less than a week after Hezbollah-allied terrorist Samir Kuntar was killed in an explosion in his Damascus home, which has been attributed to Israel. Kuntar’s death was followed within hours by rocket strikes from Lebanon on the northern Israeli city of Nahariya.

Israel has warned Hezbollah not to respond to Kuntar’s death. Foreign officials also warned the Lebanon-based terror group that seeking retaliation for Kuntar’s killing could prompt a crushing Israeli response.
Last month, Israel reportedly carried out some four airstrikes on Syrian regime and Hezbollah positions in the area of the Qalamoun mountains.
Israel has long warned that it would not allow any “game-changing” weapons to fall into Hezbollah’s hands as it fights alongside the Syrian regime in the country’s years-long civil war.

The leader of the Islamic State terrorist group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, issued Saturday an explicit threat against Israel, the first such indication from the organization’s head that the Jewish state was on his agenda.

In an audio recording released on social media, al-Baghdadi warned that his forces will “soon meet [the Jews] in Palestine,” Israel’s Channel 2 television reported.

The terrorist group’s elusive head added that “Israel will pay a heavy price at the hands of our fighters,” the report said.

“Palestine will not be your land or your home,” al-Baghdadi continued, according to the Ynet news site. “It will be a graveyard for you. Allah has gathered you in Palestine so that the Muslims may kill you.”
“The Jews thought that we forgot about Palestine and diverted our attention from it. Never, Jews. We have not forgotten Palestine for a moment,” said al-Baghdadi.
“The leaders of the jihad fighters will surround you on a day you think is far, but we see it as close. We are coming closer to you day by day,” he concluded.

In a video released last month by the Islamic State, the group threatened to wage war against the Jewish people. Flanked by masked militants holding automatic machine guns, a man brandishing a knife can be seen saying that he and his jihadist comrades are “preparing for a major war [against Israel]… With God’s help, God willing.”
In a message directed to “all the Jews, grandchildren of monkeys and pigs,” the man, whose face is blurred, warned that the Islamic State plans to infiltrate Israel to carry out attacks.
“We are coming for you from all over the world to slaughter you,” he said.
Several days beforehand, the Islamic State addressed an Israeli audience for the first time ever in a Hebrew-language video, warning that “no Jew will be left [alive]” once its fighters conquer Jordan and arrive at Israel’s borders.

“This isn’t just talk. We will advance toward you from everywhere, from the north and the south, from Sinai, from everywhere,” said a masked man in green fatigues in fluent, if slightly Arabic- and French-accented Hebrew.

The videos, bearing such titles as “Project Behead the Jews” and “Message to the Mujahedin in Jerusalem,” were uploaded from sites under Islamic State control in Syria and northern Iraq. Some of the videos spread on social media and were accompanied by the hashtag #BeheadtheJew.
“I recommend that you take the path of Jihad, which God tells you to follow, I bless this jihad against the Jews. Strike fear in their hearts, they are the enemies of God,” a fighter said in one of the videos, according to a translation by the i24 news site.
“A victory is coming to the mujahedin of the Al-Aqsa [Mosque] from above, you are the ones who start but we will continue it,” another Islamic State member said, as he holds an automatic rifle.

The leader of the self-declared Islamic State issued a defiant message to the West, warning “crusaders” not to dare fight on his turf. 
In a rare public statement - his first in seven months - Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi said Western countries had "learned from" previous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
"Crusaders and Jews don't dare to come on the ground because they were defeated in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said in a 23-minute long audio message released through an Isil-run internet account. 
The message - dubbed an "alternative Christmas broadcast" on social media - appeared to be an effort to rally Isil followers against the growing number of enemies arrayed against them.

The leader, who has rarely been pictured and has not been heard from since he was believed to have been injured in an airstrike by Iraqi forces in October, Russian or US-led airstrikes had failed to weaken the group, which was only "expanding and getting stronger". 
"Be confident that God will grant victory to those who worship him, and hear the good news that our state is doing well. The more intense the war against it, the purer it becomes and the tougher it gets," he said. 
He also called on Saudi citizens - the second biggest contributor to Isil ranks - to "rise up" against their government as he dimissed the kingdom's newly formed Muslim coalition against the caliphate. 
He also said Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) would soon be in Palestine to establish an Islamic state there. "Jews, soon you shall hear from us in Palestine which will become your grave," the voice, purporting to be Baghdadi, is heard saying.

"The Jews thought we forgot Palestine and that they had distracted us from it," he says in the recording. "Not at all, Jews. We did not forget Palestine for a moment. With the help of Allah, we will not forget it… The pioneers of the jihadist fighters will surround you on a day that you think is distant and we know is close. We are getting closer every day."

The assassination of a top Syrian rebel commander who led one of the most powerful groups battling President Bashar Assad’s forces has dealt a significant setback to the opposition that could reshuffle the lineup of key players on the ground ahead of the planned peace talks in Geneva next month.

On Saturday, the Army of Islam and allied militant groups in Syria mourned the killing of Zahran Allouch, while government supporters and the Islamic State group cheered his death — a reflection of his role in fighting both sides in the Syrian civil war.

Allouch was killed in airstrikes that targeted the group’s headquarters during a meeting on Friday. He was instantly killed along with a number of senior commanders of his Army of Islam group and those of the ultraconservative Ahrar al-Sham and the Faylaq al-Rahman groups.

The Syrian army claimed responsibility for the airstrike that killed Allouch, although many among the opposition blamed Russia, which has been bombing IS targets and other insurgent groups since late September.
Allouch’s killing — a month before peace talks are scheduled to begin between the Syrian government and opposition rebel groups — is a blow to insurgents fighting to topple Assad and a boost to government forces who have been bolstered by the Russian military intervention in Syria.

Abu Hassan al-Muhajer, another senior member of Ahrar al-Sham, wrote on Twitter that the “next stage will witness the liquidation of those leaders who began the uprising” against Assad. Other insurgents, including the al-Qaeda branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, also lamented the killing.

Aron Lund, a Syria expert, said the death of Allouch, who led the Army of Islam since it was founded around four years ago, could amount to “a decapitation strike” for the group.

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