Monday, February 22, 2016

Multiple Blasts Hit Damascus, 'No-Fly Shield: Why Do Putin's Missiles Concern The West And NATO So Much?

Multilple blasts hit Damascus southern suburb, over 30 feared killed

Several explosions have rocked the Sayeda Zeinab district in the southern part of Syria’s capital Damascus, Syrian state television reported. Over 30 people are feared killed; suicide bombers are suspected to be behind at least two of the blasts.

Four blasts hit al-Tin Street near the al-Sadr hospital, with two explosions being car bombs and the others suicide bombers, the al-Ikhbariya channel said. According to other reports, there could have been 3 blasts.

The number of casualties is being verified. Hezbollah’s al-Mmanar TV puts the death toll at 22, while the Syrian state TV at 30. Dozens are feared injured.

However, a police source told RIA Novosti, at least 80 people were killed in the blasts, with 200 having been left injured.
Two of the coordinators of the blasts were detained by security forces in the Syrian capital, the source added.

The Islamic State (IS, Daesh, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terror group has claimed responsibility for the bomb attacks in Damascus.
The jihadists said two of its suicide bombers blew themselves up in the Sayeda Zeinab district after detonating a car bomb, the Amaq news agency, which supports IS, reported.

Earlier on Sunday, dozens of people were killed and injured in a double bombing attack in Homs. The local governor said that 34 people have died in the explosions, but RIA-Novosti cited a medical source, who said that at least 46 lives were lost, while 110 others were injured.

The upcoming delivery of one of the world's most advanced air defense systems, Russia’s S-300, to Iran has come as terrifying news to the West and NATO, primarily because it will make so-called surgical strikes against individual facilities in Iran impossible and will create more no-fly zones on the map, says German media.

Russia is set to deliver its first S-300 air defense systems to Iran as soon as Tehran clears the payment. This comes as terrifying news to the West and NATO, because it is going to mean an end to the “era of risk-free airstrikes,” according to German weekly magazine Stern.

The surface-to-air missile system (NATO reporting name SA-10 Grumble) is a defensive weapon against aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, with a range of up to 200 kilometers, able to fire at multiple targets and down an aircraft as high as 20 km. Additionally, different modification of radars associated with the S-300 can track aerial missiles up to 1,000 km travelling at up to 10,000 km/h and cruise missiles up to 300 km away.

Its hit precision rate is up to 93 percent.

This range and capability could allow Iran to position the S-300s in such a way as to project its aerial power far beyond its own borders, and make it attack-proof to Israel and almost any country without fifth-gen (stealth fighter) capabilities.

The deployment of such a system will make so-called surgical strikes against individual facilities in Iran impossible, Stern says. Subsequently, any military action against Tehran becomes extremely difficult and costly.

As the systems are mobile, the US would have difficulty targeting the systems themselves while non-stealth jets would not be able to operate safely over the country.

“Putin’s missiles,” as the outlet called them, will create large "non-entry zones" on the map, which the “Western military machine” is not used to.

Similar concerns, however regarding Russian and its defensive potential, have been voiced by NATO Deputy Secretary General and former US ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow at the Munich Security Conference.

“The things that worry us the most are their anti-access/area-denial [A2/AD] capacity — the Bastion defense system capability that they are building up in the high north in Murmansk, the Kola Peninsula, in Kaliningrad and in the Black Sea, and potentially now in the eastern Mediterranean — as potentially impeding and complicating NATO reinforcements and other NATO operations. We have both strategies and means to counter that but it may require additional investments on NATO’s part,” Vershbow told in an interview with Defense News newsweekly.

All the above, Stern says, already means that the era in which the US could easily apply its military might without any risk to itself, has come to an end.

However, the delivery of S-300 systems seems to be just the beginning. Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan was on an official visit to Moscow on February 15-16.

It was reported that on the sidelines of the recent talks Iranian military officials said they were willing to buy Russian weapons worth $8 billion.

Iran is interested in Russia’s assistance in creating an integrated echelon air-defense system comprising short-, medium- and long-range components. Such a system could be built with Russian technologies. One of its main parts is Su-30SM Flanker multirole jet fighters.

The two countries are also in talks on the deliveries of a wide range of weapons and military hardware, including Bastion coastal missile launchers with Yakhont anti-ship missiles, Yak-130 jet fighters, Mi-8/17 helicopters as well as diesel-electric submarines, frigates and T-90 tanks.

As a Christian I am deeply troubled by Pope Francis, who lives in Vatican City, which has the most restrictive immigration and citizenship policies in the world, and accuses presidential candidate Donald Trump of “not being a Christian” for wanting to build a wall to protect the American people. First of all, the Pope is protected by a private army and lives safely behind far bigger walls than Trump plans to build.

Jesus Christ said “judge not, that you be not judged.” Pope Francis said in answering a question about Donald Trump that "a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian." One can only assume that Pope Francis does not understand that Donald Trump is acting on the Bible’s commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” by wanting to build a wall to protect law abiding Americans of all ethnic groups and nationalities from crime, terrorist infiltration, and economic destruction. The Pope fails to understand that “building a wall” is an act of love because in order for us to “love our neighbors as ourselves” we must first keep them alive and safe, along with making it possible for them to earn a decent standard of living so they can feed, clothe and house their families.

Vatican Wall 

Not building a wall to protect the American people is an act of selfishness, allowing peace and security only for the very wealthy like the Pope who has a private army and lives in a secure and somewhat restricted area, along with movie stars, politicians, and the super-rich bankers and corporate CEOs. By not building a wall our political leaders make it possible for terrorists to come across the border and slaughter men, women, and children or potentially detonate a nuke in an American city. Is it Christian or loving to not protect people from evil?

Building a wall insures economic stability so that Americans of all races and even mothers of small children are not forced to work two jobs to provide for their families due to low wages caused by the labor surplus, which is caused by unrestricted legal and illegal immigration. Is it love to force mothers, fathers, and single women to work multiple jobs so that they have no time to spend with their children? Is that real love?
Of course we should have compassion for those who are less fortunate, but the question is how do we really help them? I do not hear Pope Francis speaking out against the corruption in Mexico and other Central and South American nations, which is causing people to flee their nations and come across the border. Pope Francis accuses Donald Trump of not “building bridges” but instead “building walls,” which implies that he is unloving and selfish and thus not Christian. But to truly love our neighbors as ourselves our actions should actually help our neighbors, whether in our nation or nations across the border, with economic plans that allow them to break free from poverty and become prosperous. This is exactly what Donald Trump is proposing: economic solutions which actually will increase wealth, jobs, and opportunities for the common man. That is love in action.

Conversely, Pope Francis advocates economic solutions based on socialist and Marxist principles which have never solved the problem of poverty in any nation where they have been tried. In fact, the socialist economic solutions Pope Francis has proposed have increased poverty and suffering in every nation where they have been tried, without exception.

Jesus Christ said “we are to judge a tree by its fruit.” What Trump is proposing, including building a wall, both protects people and alleviates economic suffering by giving ordinary men and women the opportunity to improve their lot in life. What Pope Francis is proposing simply brings all men and women, with the exception of the one percent at the top, to a far lower standard of living, which increases human suffering. I am not going to judge the validity of the Pope’s faith, but I can judge the merits of Donald Trump’s economic proposals, and what I see is love in action. By advocating policies that will improve the standard of living for people on both sides of the border and protect them from crime and terrorism Donald Trump (whatever his private beliefs may be) is applying Christian principles to government.

Russia air strikes seal Jebel Druze against attack and refugees

While Syrian war reporting focused over the weekend on the battles around Aleppo and along the Turkish border in the north, Russia since Saturday, Feb. 20 has ramped up its air bombardment of southern cities and towns, especially Daraa and Nawa. Thousands of fleeing rebels with their families and other civilians have meanwhile been turned away from the locked Jordanian border and are heading towards the Golan opposite the Israeli border.

The heaviest Russian air strikes seen hitherto in Syria have two strategic goals.

1. To retake the key southern town of Daraa from rebel hands and restore it to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s full control.
2. To crush rebel resistance in the South and force them to accept surrender, collapse or escape in the direction of the Jordanian or Israeli borders.
The intense Russian sorties are opening the door to Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces to move into the South and reach the Israeli borders. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent Dr. Dore Gold to Moscow last week as his special emissary to explain how this affected Israel’s security. But he was unable to persuade the Russians to scale down their attacks in this sensitive border region.

Those attacks have a third goal, which is to encircle the Jebel Druze region with a “shield of fire” as protection for this ethnic minority of 750,000, most which inhabit mountain villages.

This unusual operation, the first of its kind in the Syrian war, has three objectives:

A. To shield the Druzes villages against ISIS attack from the east, namely Deir az-Zour.
B. To shut the door against fleeing rebels seeking sanctuary in the Druze enclave.
C. To show other Syrian minorities, especially the Kurds in the north, the great advantage of allying themselves with Moscow. Word of Russian protection of the Druzes has undoubtedly spread to Syria’s other minorities.

As for the rebels and refugees, Jordanian troops moved into the border crossings evacuated by Syrian rebels and closed the last crossing at Ramtha.

The exodus from southern Syria is now heading towards the Golan on Israel’s doorstep.

Israel has imposed a media blackout on this development. However, DEBKAfile’s sources warn that it will soon be impossible to keep it dark. Within a few days, many thousands of Syrian refugees will be massing at Israel’s Ein Zivan gate opposite Quneitra. Like Turkey and Jordan, Israel will have to supply large numbers of distressed Syrian refugees with tents, food, water and medicines.    

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