Sunnis and Shiites from Lebanon are streaming into Syria to take up arms on opposite sides of a fierce battle over a rebel stronghold — a fight that has effectively erased the border between the two countries and underlined how Lebanon is being sucked into the civil war next door.
The northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal, dominated by Sunnis, has become a key logistical base for the Syrian rebels who have been fighting for months to keep their hold on the strategic Syrian town of Yabroud, only 20 miles away (30 kilometers) across the border.
On a recent day, armed fighters in pickup trucks and on motorbikes were seen scrambling down dusty roads out of Arsal into the mountains to cross into Syria and head to Yabroud. Syrian rebels move freely back and forth across the border, and rebels wounded in the battle are brought to Arsal for treatment in clandestine hospitals.
At the same time, Lebanese Shiite fighters from the Hezbollah guerrilla group are crossing into Syria to fight alongside the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad that have been besieging Yabroud since November.
For the past three years, Lebanon has been struggling with the spillover from Syria’s civil war. Sectarian tensions in Lebanon have escalated, as its Sunni community largely supports the mainly Sunni Syrian rebel movement, while its Shiites back Assad. Hezbollah, the most powerful armed force in Lebanon, has thrown its weight behind Assad, sending fighters who have tipped some battles in the government’s favor.
In the aftermath of the interception of the arms ship “Klos-C,” the prevailing assessment in Israel is that the Syrian-Iranian cargo was intended for Palestinian Islamic Jihad rather than Hamas.
The implications are far-reaching. Had the missiles on the Panama-flagged ship reached the Gaza Strip and fallen into the hands of the Islamic Jihad, the organization would have had new game-changing weaponry, not only against Israel, but also against Hamas.
It’s possible the missile shipment was designated for that same Islamic Jihad official, or one of his counterparts. Had it arrived, the terror cell could have launched rockets at Tel Aviv whenever it wish to, in effect drawing Israel and Hamas into a war on Iran’s command.
Islamic Jihad presently has the capability to hit central Israel, but its stockpile is limited. In comparison, Hamas has dozens of rockets, some of them manufactured locally, some from abroad, that can reach Tel Aviv and cities to its north. The arms shipment from Syria was meant to give the Islamic Jihad higher-quality and more deadly weapons than those Hamas possesses.
Hamas has tracked the strengthening of Islamic Jihad with great concern. It is aware of the tens of millions of dollars that continue to flow from Tehran to the organization, while the Hamas budget steadily dwindles, in part as a result of its deteriorating relationship with Damascus and Tehran.
And, we should not forget, the smuggling route was initially meant to be through the Sinai peninsula.
The decision to transport the missiles to Gaza through the Sinai speaks volumes about Syria and Iran’s disregard for Egyptian sovereignty. It also shows that the intensive Egyptian operations against the weapon runs in and out of Gaza, whether in Sinai or in efforts to shut the tunnels, still have not successfully stopped the smuggling in its entirety.
A proposed law would allow Moscow to seize Western companies' and individuals' property and accounts in the event sanctions were imposed on Russia over theUkraine crisis.
"[The bill] would offer the president and government opportunities to defend our sovereignty from threats," state news agency RIA quoted Andrei Klishas, the bill's author and head of the constitutional legislation committee in the upper house of parliament, as saying.
On the heels of the Russian navy intentionally sinking a vessel blocking the Ukrainian navy from entering The Black Sea, Ukraine Pravda reports that it is "most probable that Russian troops will assault units in Ukrainian Crimea overnight continuing to the weekend." Citing a source in the uniformed services, Ukraine Pravda warns that "despite reports that Russian troops ended in learning, active phase lasts. They did not return to the barracks," and maintain "peak readiness."
On the night of Thursday to Friday a great opportunity to assault Ukrainian part of the Russian special forces.
This "Ukrainian Pravda" reported a source in the uniformed services.
"Despite reports that Russian troops ended in learning, active phase lasts. They did not return to the barracks. Could maintain peak readiness by the end of the weekend," - said the source.
"The most probable that the assault would take place that night, but the danger will persist to the end of the weekend" - source added.
"There are three scenarios. First - this air strike," - said the source.
He said that if Russian troops will withdraw from parts of the Ukrainian, that would mean this version.
"Helicopters are already relocated, and it is possible that they will do exactly helicopters," - said the UP.
"The second option - a special operations force for disarmament," - he said.
The interviewee said that in the Crimea are Russian special forces "Alpha", "Vympel" and "Zaslon."
"The third option: they can come up with ryazhenymy Cossacks, as with a living shield. Example is happening" - he added.
He also reminded that the Russian troops flooded his ship to block the path of Ukrainian courts.
According to the source, impacts may not be in all parts, but only by those who are the most combat-ready, including Sevastopol and Feodosiya.
And this follows the sinking of a ship to block the Ukrainian Navy...
An anti-submarine boat may have been the first casualty of the Russian incursion into Crimea, but it was hardly an act of violence, much less war: The Russian navy sank one of its own, junked vessels to create an obstacle, a Ukrainian official said on Wednesday.
Hi brother Scott! Just missing you today. I hope everything is ok - keeping you in my prayers!
Thanks - all is well - lots of damage from ice storm and no power, but everybody is ok - !
Scott, glad you have power, sometimes ice storms can be pretty bad with weeks without power...God knows you need power to reach us anxiously watching!
Ha - I broke my streak of consecutive days posting, thats what really bugs me the most!
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