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Russian Air Force blocks Israeli airstrikes in Syria: media

By News Desk -2019-09-20

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:10 P.M.) – The Russian Air Force allegedly blocked the Israeli military from carrying out strikes over Syria last night, the Russian aviation publication Avia.Pro reported this morning.

“Last night, while delivering another series of attacks on the suburbs of Damascus, Russian combat aircraft took off from the Russian military’s Khmeimim Airbase, located in the Latakia province, to the the southern part of the Arab Republic, which resulted in the disruption of the Israeli attacks on the Syrian capital and its surroundings,” Avia.Pro reported.

According to Avia.Pro, the Russian military also provided the Syrian Armed Forces with information about an Israeli drone that was preparing to strike the southeastern suburbs of Damascus.

“According to data, at least two combat aircraft took off from the Khmeimim Airbase at around 8 P.M. in the south-east direction, after which, under unknown circumstances, an Israeli drone that violated Syrian airspace was shot down and subsequently there was no attack on the suburbs of the Syrian capital,” they continued.

“It is noteworthy that, according to Western media, during a meeting between Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Russian leader threatened to take measures against Israel if Tel Aviv continues to strike at Syria,” Avia.Pro added.

If this proves to be true, this would be the fourth time since the late August that the Russian military has been reported to have blocked an Israeli attack on Syria.
US drone kills 30 Afghan civilians instead of Daesh terrorists

Thu Sep 19, 2019 11:19PM

Relatives and residents pray near a coffin during a funeral ceremony of one of the victims after a drone strike, in
Khogyani district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, September 19, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

A US drone strike that was supposed to take out members of the Daesh terrorist group in Afghanistan has instead killed at least 30 farm workers who were taking a break after a day's labor, officials say.

The attack on Wednesday night also injured 40 people as it targeted tents pitched near pine nut fields at the mountainous Wazir Tangi in eastern Nangarhar province, three officials confirmed to Reuters on Thursday.

"The workers had lit a bonfire and were sitting together when a drone targeted them," tribal elder Malik Rahat Gul told Reuters over the phone.

The owner of the fields said at least 150 workers were resting when the attack happened. Many of them remained missing, he added.

A survivor, meanwhile, said about 200 laborers were sleeping in five tents near the farm when the attack took place.

"Some of us managed to escape, some were injured but many were killed," said Juma Gul, a resident of the northeastern province of Kunar.

The attack was confirmed by Afghanistan's Defense Ministry as well as a senior US official in Kabul. However, they did not share details of civilian casualties.

"US forces conducted a drone strike against Daesh terrorists in Nangarhar," Colonel Sonny Leggett, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan, said. "We are aware of allegations of the death of non-combatants and are working with local officials to determine the facts."

The attack outraged local residents in Nangarhar, who urged Washington to apologize and pay compensation to the families of the victims.

A large group of local men held a protest against the attack on Thursday morning as they helped carry the victims' bodies to Jalalabad city and then to the burial site.

"Such mistakes cannot be justified. American forces must realize (they) will never win the war by killing innocent civilians," said a Jalalabad residence.

Attaullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the provincial governor, said the strike was meant to target Daesh militants who often use farmlands for training and recruitment.

About 14,000 US troops are in Afghanistan, allegedly to train and advise Afghan security forces and prepare them to take on the Talibana and Daesh.

The attack on Wednesday night preceded another deadly attack by the Taliban militant group, which killed at least 20 people in the southern Afghan province of Zabul.

Taliban have killed hundreds of civilians in clashes that followed the collapse of US-Taliban peace talks this month.

They have pledged to make US President Donald Trump regret his decision to abruptly call off talks that were on the verge of ending America's 18-year-war.

Trump ended the talks and canceled a possible meeting with Taliban leaders in the US after finding out that an American soldier was killed in a Taliban attack that killed 12 people in the capital Kabul.

According to the United Nations, nearly 4,000 civilians were killed or wounded in the first half of the year.
US Patriots Couldn’t Repel Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities Due to Low Efficiency – Russian MoD Source

14:36 19.09.2019(updated 15:31 19.09.2019)

© AP Photo / Mindaugas Kulbis

by Tim Korso

Saudi Aramco refineries were hit hard in a drone attack, claimed by Yemeni Houthis, crippling Saudi crude output for several days. In the wake of the attack, US military command for the Middle East suggested sending more air defence missile systems to Saudi Arabia after exisiting ones failed to foil the strike.

Some 88 Patriot systems deployed in Saudi Arabia failed to repel attack on Saudi Aramco oil facilities, letting dozens of drones and guided missiles get through defences, a high-ranking source in the Russian Defence Ministry said. The source dismissed the excuse that the US Secretary of State gave to explain the Patriot fiasco, noting that in fact the American air defence system simply has low efficiency.

"The secretary of state's claims that air defence systems around the world demonstrate controversial results in repelling attacks sometimes can only be taken seriously if we are speaking about a single Patriot system, covering one object. But the US had deployed a powerful air defence grid in Saudi Arabia, especially in the north, with a solid radar field", the source said.

The defence ministry source further indicated that if such an air defence grid failed to thwart the attack it means that the Aegis and Patriot’s specifications do not reflect their actual performance, as they are apparently ineffective in countering small aircraft and guided missiles. The source added that these systems are incapable of repelling a massive use of aerial weapons.

Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called for an impartial and thorough investigation into the attack on Saudi Aramco refineries. He warned that unsubstantiated accusations against Iran allegedly being complicit in it only escalate tensions in the region.

Attack on Saudi Oil Facilities
Two oil refineries belonging to Saudi Aramco, Riyadh's state oil company, were attacked by drones and missiles on 14 September, sustaining significant damage that stopped their operations for days. This led to a substantial reduction in the country's crude output, essentially cutting it in half.

The US was quick to accuse Iran of the attack despite Yemeni Houthi militants claiming responsibility for it. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the incident an "act of war" by Iran, while President Trump assured that the country is "locked and loaded" to respond. Washington has presented no proof of Iran's involvement, while Saudi Arabia presented debris described as belonging to Iran-made missiles and drones.

Iranian officials vehemently denied the accusations. The country’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif slammed the US for trying to divert attention away from the real problems in the Middle East region and urged Riyadh to provide Tehran with the debris found to study it. Iran’s Defence Minister Amir Hatami said that the attack was a result of military stand-off between the Houthis, Saudi Arabia and its military coalition, which has been taking place in Yemen since 2015.
Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:28Yemeni Minister Reveals UAE Links with Al-Qaeda, ISIL

Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:28

Yemeni Minister Reveals UAE Links with Al-Qaeda, ISIL

TEHRAN (FNA)- Yemeni Transportation Minister in the fugitive president Mansour Hadi's cabinet Salih al-Jabwani accused the UAE of close ties and cooperation with the al-Qaeda and ISIL terrorists.

"We have evidence to prove that the UAE has relations with al-Qaeda and ISIL terrorist groups in Yemen," al-Jabwani wrote in his twitter page on Wednesday.

He added that the UAE uses these terrorists to attack the Yemeni army forces and equipment on Shabwah-Abyan road in Southern Yemen.

Al-Jabwani underlined the need for the residents of Shabwah and Abyan provinces to take stance against the UAE and its affiliated terrorists.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have been supporting the Takfiri terrorist groups in Southern Yemen against the Yemeni popular forces for a long time.

The Yemeni intelligence sources disclosed in 2016 that the country's security forces had gained access to a series of documents and correspondence which prove the UAE's role in supporting Al-Qaeda and other radical terrorists groups in Southern Yemen.

"The documents and letters gained by the Yemeni security forces clearly show that the United Arab Emirates has supported Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in Yemen, specially in the Southern part of the country," the Arabic-language Emirate al-Youm quoted unnamed Yemeni intelligence officials as saying.

The sources reiterated that the UAE spies had given a lot of cash and weapons to the commanders of the Al-Qaeda and the ISIL in Yemen to conduct their terrorist acts in the Southern Yemeni provinces.

"These documents and intelligence unveil the relations between a UAE intelligence officer with senior commanders of Al-Qaeda and the ISIL in Yemen," they added.
Japan Says There Is No Evidence Iran Was Behind Attack on Saudi Aramco Facilities

00:01 19.09.2019

© Sputnik / Maxim Blinov

Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono told reporters on Wednesday that he has not seen any intelligence indicating Iran was behind the attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities over the weekend.

"We are not aware of any information that points to Iran," Kono said during a press briefing, opposing Saudi and Trump administration suggestions that Iran was to blame for the recent attack on Saudi Aramco facilities.

“We believe the Houthis carried out the attack based on the statement claiming responsibility,” Kono said.

Kono said Japan, an ally of both Iran and the US, is still in the process of determining who was behind the attacks, which were allegedly carried out by drones.

"Given Japan's strong ties with the US based on the US-Japan Alliance, and the relationship of trust that Japan has with various countries located in the Middle East, Japan is in a position to fulfill a mediating role," said Kono.

Earlier on Monday, Japan’s defence minister said his country cannot participate in any military retaliation because of constitutional restraints and would instead pursue a diplomatic solution to the current crisis in the Middle East region.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also said on Tuesday that he is not aware of evidence demonstrating Iranian involvement.

"Up to now France doesn't have proof permitting it to say that these drones came from such and such a place, and I don't know if anyone has proof," said Le Drian. "We need a strategy of de-escalation for the area, and any move that goes against this de-escalation would be a bad move for the situation in the region."

​Over the weekend, Saudi Aramco had to close two of its facilities after they were hit by drones and then caught fire. The incident led to a cut in oil production totalling 5.7 million barrels per day — about half of Saudi Arabia’s daily oil output. The closure of oil facilities has triggered a surge in oil prices worldwide. On Wednesday, the Saudi Defence Ministry organized a news conference to show journalists what it described as an Iranian cruise missile and Delta Wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), saying that the attack was “unquestionably sponsored by Iran.”

US President Donald Trump also said during a meeting with Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa on Monday that based on the evidence he'd seen, it appears as though Iran was responsible for the attack.
General / Netanyahu lost Israeli vote, but Palestinians were bound to lose whoever won
« Last post by Rudi Jan on September 18, 2019, 04:31:32 PM »
Netanyahu lost Israeli vote, but Palestinians were bound to lose whoever won

George Galloway
George Galloway was a member of the British Parliament for nearly 30 years. He presents TV and radio shows (including on RT). He is a film-maker, writer and a renowned orator.

Published time: 18 Sep, 2019 12:20
Edited time: 18 Sep, 2019 12:40

A woman places electoral banners for the Likud party showing chairman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the southern Israeli city of
Beersheva on September 15, 2019. ©  AFP / HAZEM BADER

Vladimir Lenin is said to have opined that the only thing certain about British elections is who is going to lose. He meant the British working class, at a time when they were effectively unrepresented in the political system.

Equally, whatever the outcome of the Israeli elections, the Palestinians will be the big losers. According to preliminary results, Netanyahu has lost his majority of course – having failing to reach the magic number of 61 seats in the Knesset.

But his opponents – the Palestinians living under siege in Gaza, under occupation in the West Bank, or under annexation in East Jerusalem, an annexation Netanyahu threatened to visit upon the whole of the Jordan Valley – are no better off.

Neither, for that matter, are the so-called “Arab-Israelis” who increasingly identify as Palestinian citizens of Israel and whose treatment as the ‘enemy within’ reached its apogee in Likud hate-speech about them. This saw them briefly banned from Facebook last week.

Neither is an election the final say on the matter – this is the second in five months – and the fact that no-one seems likely to gain a majority will see the attention swiftly turn to horse-trading. And that, for the Palestinians, is the danger.

The most obvious kingmaker in the negotiations is Netanyahu’s former defense minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose furious fall-out and departure from the coalition with Bibi arguably led to this second election. No-one really knows what the beef between the two men really was, but the stated proximate cause was the government’s dependence on the Ultra-Orthodox communities and their Knesset members.

Lieberman, so far as the world is concerned, is a dangerous, even rabid, extremist. But his Yisrael Beiteinu party is vigorously secular and secures its votes from secular hardline nationalists, many from the former Soviet Union.

If it is possible to imagine anyone being less interested in peace – paid for by justice - for the Palestinians than Netanyahu, then Lieberman is that man. With almost all the votes counted, his party has gained new seats.

Lieberman claimed that he was held back by the “moderate” Netanyahu from incinerating the whole of Gaza which he clearly – and not just privately – wishes to wipe off the map.

Mind you, so does the likely king, the main opposition leader Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White Party seems to have gained seats. He, too, is avowedly secular so the basis of a deal with Lieberman is obvious.

A muscularly secular hardline nationalist coalition which is pledged to hardline punitive policies towards the Palestinians, or... Benjamin Netanyahu. Take your pick.

Gantz’s campaign focused on the need to prosecute the outgoing prime minister for bribery and corruption, crimes of which Mrs Netanyahu is already convicted.

Hence a Grand National Coalition – which would enjoy a comfortable majority in the Knesset and, relatively speaking, a fair international wind – between Blue and White and the Likud would only be possible if the Likud ditched Netanyahu. My money is on that outcome, and on Washington so advising round about now.

Unprotected by prime ministerial office, like other Israeli prime ministers and presidents before him, Netanyahu would likely be headed for prison. Or asylum in Moscow!
Money & Markets / Liquidity Shortage Getting Worse: Fed's Repo Oversubscribed
« Last post by Rudi Jan on September 18, 2019, 08:30:42 AM »
Liquidity Shortage Getting Worse: Fed's Repo Oversubscribed As Funding Demand Soars 50% Overnight

by Tyler Durden
Wed, 09/18/2019 - 08:45

20 minutes after today's repo operation began, it concluded and there was some bad news in it: as we feared, yesterday's take up of the Fed's repo operation which peaked at $53.2 billion has expanded substantially, and according to the Fed, today there was a whopping $80.05BN in bids submitted, an increase of $27 billion, or 50% more than yesterday.

It also meant that since the operation - which is capped at $75BN - was oversubscribed by over $5BN, that there was one or more participants who did not get up to €5 billion in the critical liquidity they needed, and that the Fed will see a chorus of demands by everyone (because like with the discount window, nobody will dare to be singled out) to either expand the size of its operations, implement a fixed operation and/or - most likely as per the ICAP note yesterday -  transition to permanent open market operations, i.e. QE

By comparison this is what yesterday's repo operation looked like:

What is immediately notable is that except for agency paper, there was a greater use of both Treasury ($40.9BN to $51.6BN) and Mortgage-backed ($11.7BN to $27.8BN) collateral. The only silver lining: the step out rate on agency paper dropped from 3.00% to 2.1% however with virtually nobody using that, it is a largely meaningless easing in terms.

Finally, the worst news is that immediately after the operation, overnight repo remained elevated, with Reuters reporting the rate was 2.25%-2.60% after the latest repo operation, confirming that the liquidity shortage continues with the high end of repo still far above fed funds.

* * *

Yesterday's Fed repo operation - the first direct liquidity injection in a decade - was an unmitigated disaster, with the NY Fed forced to cancel it in the middle due to "technical difficulties" which nobody still know what they were, only to resume it moments later. All we can say is that today the Fed better not fuck this up again, especially with New York Fed President John Williams, senior vice president of market operations Lorie Logan and first vice president Michael Strine all expected to be in Washington for the Fed's two-day central bank meeting.

In any case, moments ago the NY Fed announced that, as expected, today's repo operation started at 8:14am as expected, with the repo rate trading quite elevated around 2.80% and the SOFR trading bizarrely above 5%

Overnight U.S. Funding Rate at 2.8%, Elevated for a Third Day
With such mindboggling volatility, SOFR will certainly make a "great" LIBOR replacement.

Check back here at 830am ET for the results; it will be interesting if the total uptake today is over yesterday's $53BN - that will suggest that the problem is getting worse, not better...
The World Below / Russia allegedly gives Syria green light to use S-300 system
« Last post by Rudi Jan on September 18, 2019, 08:25:27 AM »
Russia allegedly gives Syria green light to use S-300 system against Israeli warplanes

By News Desk -2019-09-18

BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:00 P.M.) – The Russian Armed Forces have allegedly given the Syrian military the green light to use their S-300 system against Israeli warplanes that enter their airspace, the Russian aviation publication Avia.Pro reported.

“Against the background of how Israel was repeatedly seen striking at Syria despite the previously reached agreements between Russia and Israel, a source told that the Syrian military received permission to use its air defense systems in case of the slightest threat from Israel, provided that the Syrian side bears responsibility for such actions,” Avia.Pro said.

Despite completing the installation of their S-300 batteries in the Masyaf area of Hama this year, the Syrian Armed Forces have yet to use these air defense systems against the Israeli warplanes that have repeatedly bombed the country.

However, based on what Avia.Pro has reported, the Syrian Armed Forces appear to be reliant on the Russian military to use these air defense systems against the Israeli Air Force jets that violate their airspace.

“Russia allowed the Syrian military to put the S-300 on full alert and attack Israeli aircraft in the event of the slightest threat,” a military source told Avia.Pro.

The effectiveness of the S-300 against the Israeli Air Force has been in question since its installation, as the latter has carried out attacks as far east as the Deir Ezzor Governorate and as far north as Aleppo.
Syrian Army, Liwaa Al-Quds send reinforcements to SDF front-lines in Deir Ezzor

By News Desk -2019-09-17

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:10 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their allies have sent reinforcements to the Deir Ezzor Governorate this week following threats from the Iran-backed Al-Baqir Brigade to attack the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the eastern region of the Euphrates River region.

According to a military report from eastern Syria, the Syrian Arab Army and the Palestinian-led Al-Quds Brigade sent reinforcements to the front-lines in Deir Ezzor, where they positioned themselves just west of the Syrian Democratic Forces.

A source nearby said the Syrian Army has no plans to attack the Syrian Democratic Forces; however, they are focusing more troops to the area in order to prevent any potential hostilities between the Al-Baqir Brigade and the U.S.-backed forces in Deir Ezzor.

Over the weekend, the Al-Baqir Brigade released a video in which one of their field commanders vowed to expel the Syrian Democratic Forces from the eastern region of the Euphrates River Valley.

The Al-Baqir Brigade, which is part of the Iran-backed Local Defense Forces (LDF), is considered one of the most powerful paramilitary factions in Syria.

Made up of mostly Al-Baggara tribesmen from rural Aleppo, the Al-Baqir Brigade has established themselves as a formidable force in the Euphrates region after participating in several battles alongside the Syrian Arab Army.
The World Below / Iranian legislator urges military to seize Canadian ships
« Last post by Rudi Jan on September 16, 2019, 09:34:33 PM »
Iranian legislator urges military to seize Canadian ships

Stewart Bell
September 16, 2019

© EPA/HASAN SHIRVANI An Iranian Revolutionary Guard jet boat sails around the seized British-flagged tanker Stena Impero in Bandar Abbas,
southern Iran, July 21, 2019.

The Iranian regime threatened Monday to retaliate against Canada after Global News reported that Tehran’s assets in Toronto and Ottawa had been sold to compensate terrorism victims.

The head of Iran’s judiciary said the Islamic republic would “impound and confiscate Canada’s assets,” while a hardline legislator reportedly called for the seizure of Canadian ships.

The Iranian military should "seize all vessels carrying goods and products to or from Canada as soon as possible," said Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a national security council member, Radio Farda reported.

The spokesperson for Iran’s powerful Guardian Council, Abbasali Kadkhodaei, accused Canada of “economic terrorism” and also called for retaliation, the Tehran Times reported.

“We will by no means remain silent on this issue,” warned Hojatoleslam Seyed Ebrahim Raeisi, Iran’s chief judge, according to the Tasnim News Agency and Ahlul Bayt News Agency.

Tehran has reacted angrily to the selling of its non-diplomatic assets by the Canadian courts in order to satisfy judgements against the regime over its sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbollah.

As Global News reported last week, regime-controlled buildings in Ottawa and Toronto were sold for $28.5 million and the proceeds awarded to victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.

Several bank accounts and vehicles were also seized.

The action was the result of the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act, a law enacted in 2012 by the previous Conservative government that allowed victims to sue state sponsors of terrorism for damages.

The call for the seizure of Canadian ships comes at a time of heightened tensions in the Persian Gulf.

The U.S. has blamed Iran for attacking ships in the Gulf in retaliation for the imposition of economic sanctions and withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal.

Iran has also seized several ships, including a British oil tanker, after an Iranian vessel was seized for allegedly shipping oil to Syria in violation of international sanctions.

A boat of Iranian Revolutionary Guard is seen next to Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, at Bandar Abbas port, in this undated handout photo. Iran, ISNA/WANA Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

© Getty A boat of Iranian Revolutionary Guard is seen next to Stena Impero, a British-flagged vessel owned by Stena Bulk, at Bandar Abbas port,

Proposed by terrorism victims, the Canadian law lifts state immunity from countries deemed state sponsors of terrorism. Under the law, only non-diplomatic assets can be claimed by victims. Iran and Syria are the only countries currently designated.

The law allowed terror victims who had won judgements against Tehran outside Canada to claim the regime’s Canadian assets, and several American families did just that, filing cases in the Ontario and Nova Scotia courts.

The Canadian courts ruled in favour of the victims, and Iran’s assets were sold and distributed to the victims in a process that ended last month. The Supreme Court of Canada rejected Iran’s appeal.

Canada cut diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012, citing the regime’s support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, nuclear program, threats against Israel and backing of terrorist groups.
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