Images of Hezbollah ‘parading US armored vehicles’ emerge online, sparking controversy

Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, recognized as terrorist organization by the US, has been allegedly spotted parading a vast number of US-made military vehicles in Syria, triggering questions about how they ended up in the militants’ hands.

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The photos of Hezbollah’s military parade allegedly featuring US-made armored vehicles in the Syrian city of Qusayr published by media close to the organization raised questions the US State Department had to confront during a daily press briefing on Tuesday.

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“Our embassy in Beirut is working with the Lebanese armed forces to investigate the images circulating on social media purporting to show Hezbollah displaying US military equipment in Syria,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.

She added that there was “no information on them [the images],” but the US would be “gravely concerned if equipment ended up in the hands of Hezbollah.”

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The US equipment on the photos appear to be the M113 armored personnel carriers that have been in service since 1960 and “are extremely common in the region,” Trudeau noted.

The State Department spokeswoman also noted that “the Lebanese military has publicly stated that the M113s depicted online in the Hezbollah military parade were never part of their equipment roster.”

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“The photos of vehicles circulated by media outlets were not taken from the army and do not belong to the military,” the Lebanese army said in a statement.

Hezbollah’s vehicles seen during the parade also showcase Russian tanks.

Charles Shoebridge, a security analyst and former UK counter-terrorism intelligence officer, in an interview with RT compared the M113 tank to the “Kalashnikov of the personnel carrier world,”adding that the Lebanese Army was the most probable source of the equipment.

“Certainly the finger would seem to point… at the Lebanese Army, because many of them [the APCs] were supplied to them,”Shoebridge said.

The large number of items of an identical type seen on the photos may suggest that there was “some kind of an organized transfer,” Shoebridge said.

READ MORE: Aiding terrorist group: German court convicts men who sent Ahrar Al-Sham $145,000 in supplies

This is not the first time the US weapons and pieces of military equipment allegedly end up in the wrong hands, with a number of reports saying that Al-Nusra and IS (Islamic State) had come into possession of American missiles and other types of weaponry intended for so-called moderate opposition groups in Iraq and Syria.

Moderate opposition militants tend to defect with the US weapons, join terrorist organizations and use it against the US troops, Shoebridge added.

“This policy of supplying rebel groups with sophisticated weaponry or any weaponry invariably seems to backfire,” he concluded.

8 NATO ships shadowed Russian aircraft carrier ‘Kuznetsov’ in Mediterranean

The first-ever combat mission of the only Russian aircraft carrier has drawn much attention from NATO, the chief of the Russian Navy said.

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A group of Russian warships headed by aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea in mid-October to assist in the Syrian mission.

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“It’s the first time since the aircraft carrier was built that we use our Navy aviation in a combat environment. Of course, it draws attention, particularly from NATO members,” Admiral Vladimir Korolyov told Rossiya 24 news channel.

“Up to eight ships shadowed us as we passed Great Britain. But there were no violations of the international laws of the sea,” he added.

The ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ is accompanied three other Russian warships and several support ships. The Su-33 and MiG-29 warplanes the carrier has on board have been used to attack terrorist targets in Syria’s Idlib and Homs governorates.

READ MORE: Watch Su-33 fighter take off Russian carrier ‘Kuznetsov’ in majestic 360 video (RT EXCLUSIVE)

According to Korolyov, the Russian carrier group’s mission was not hampered by NATO effort to deny it resupplying in Malta and the Spanish enclave Ceuta near Morocco.

“All our missions, including the one of the aircraft carrier groups, are planned to be independent in terms of supplies and transit logistics. So there were and will be no issues with that,” he said.

The Russian pilot naval mission in the Mediterranean sparked media hype in some Western nations, particularly in the UK, where reports depicted the passage of the Russian warships as a significant threat to national security.

The mission has been marred by the embarrassing loss of two fighter jets. One went down in November, when arrestor gear on the carrier broke down and the deck crew failed to fix it before the aircraft ran out of fuel. The second one this week slid off the deck during landing, when the arrestor gear line snapped and failed to stop the aircraft. In both incidents the pilots ejected and were rescued from the sea.

Up to 80 Islamists planted in Europe readying for attack – Dutch counterterrorism official

Between 60 and 80 Islamic State operatives in Europe are preparing to carry out attacks, a Dutch counterterrorism official said, adding that the terror group is asking its militants to forgo traveling to Syria or Iraq and take the fight to Europe instead.

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The would-be fighters get messages from the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) group “asking them not to come to Syria and Iraq, but to prepare attacks in Europe,” Holland’s National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism Dick Schoof told AP.

The National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) is a unit responsible for crisis management, counterterrorism, and cyber-security in the Netherlands.

While the number of “foreign terrorist fighters [from the EU]” hasn’t grown over the past six months this “does not mean that the potential threat of those who would have traveled is diminished,” Schoof warned.

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Data from the NCTV says that between 4,000 and 5,000 European “foreign terrorist fighters” are currently in Iraq and Syria.

At present, extremists are very scattered due to an increase in anti-IS military operations in Iraq and Syria, Schoof said, adding that this could very possibly lead to an increase in the number of refugees posing a danger to the EU.

“The chance of attack in the Netherlands is real,” added Schoof, while stressing “we have seen 294 terrorist fighters go overseas in Iraq and Syria and there are still 190 over there… And what happened in France and Brussels and Germany could happen to us.”

Schoof is not the first to note that Islamic State is now telling its fighters to stay at home and carry out attacks there. In October of this year, Belgian federal prosecutor spokesman Eric Van der Sypt said the same.

“Initially, Islamic State tried to recruit fighters [to] go to Iraq and Syria. [Now] IS is asking [them] to stay at home and sow death and destruction there,” he said.

Europe has recently been shaken by a series of violent attacks that have been carried out by militants from Islamic State. The biggest loss of life took place in November of 2015, when at least 130 people were killed in Paris.

In March, twin suicide bombings hit Zaventem Airport and Maelbeek metro station in Brussels, killing 31 people and injuring dozens more. The station is near the buildings housing the EU Commission and the Council of the European Union, as well as NATO headquarters.

At least 84 people were left dead by the Nice tragedy in France on July 14 of this year, when a truck driven by an IS sympathizer plowed through crowds during Bastille Day celebrations.

Earlier this year, IS called upon its followers to carry out attacks on both civilian and military targets in the US and Europe during the Muslim Ramadan celebrations which began in early June. Numerous reports coming from EU intelligence services have been warning that the group is planning to carry out attacks on hospitals, schools, and luxury resorts in France, Italy, and Spain.

Obama, EU leaders agree to keep anti-Russian sanctions over Ukraine

US President Barack Obama and EU leaders have agreed to keep anti-Russian sanctions in place for a further year over the situation in Ukraine.

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President Obama, who is on his final official visit to Europe, met with the leaders of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the UK on Friday.

Among the main topics on the agenda were extending sanctions against Russia, cooperation within the framework of NATO, the rise of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria, and possible new anti-Russian sanctions over Moscow’s actions in Syria.

Read more
Obama in Berlin: Russia is military superpower

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“The leaders agreed on the necessity of working collectively to move the transatlantic agenda forward, particularly on bringing stabilization to the Middle East and North Africa, as well as securing diplomatic resolution to the conflicts in Syria and eastern Ukraine,” the White House said in the statement.

READ MORE: Russian sanctions cost Italy €7bn and up to 200,000 jobs – Italian MP

“The leaders also affirmed the importance of continued cooperation through multilateral institutions, including NATO,” the White House added.

Sanctions won’t stop Russia from improving its dialogue and ties with other countries, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“We [Russia] have never initiated sanctions. These [sanctions] don’t prevent us from building dialogue and continuing the dialogue on matters that are of interest to us, to Russia,” Peskov said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and outgoing US President Obama are likely to talk informally on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific summit in the Peruvian capital of Lima, Peskov said on Friday.

“The two administrations have not agreed on any separate meetings, but we can assume that President Putin and President Obama will cross paths on the sidelines of the forum and will talk,” Peskov said.

READ MORE: EU’s dialogue with Russia should be ‘correct and pragmatic’ – Italian FM

Also on Friday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gave a speech at an event hosted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), where he said that Europe and the United States “are close economic and trade partners” and mentioned potential threats for the alliance.

“Russia, breaking international law. Turmoil in North Africa and the Middle East. The refugee and migration crisis. International terrorism. Hybrid warfare. And cyber-attacks,” said Stoltenberg, listing the perceived dangers.

McCain to Trump: Don’t You Dare Make Peace with Russia!

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by DANIEL MCADAMS

Sit down. This is going to shock you. (Not).

We reported yesterday on the telephone call between US president-elect Trump and Russian president Putin, where the current and future presidents discussed the need to set aside differences and look to more constructive future relations. With serious observers of this past year’s increasing tensions between US and Russia openly worrying about a nuclear war breaking out, with some 300,000 NATO troops placed on Russia’s border, with sanctions hurting average businesspersons on both sides, a normal person might look at the slight thaw in Cold War 2.0 as an early positive indicator of the end of the Obama Era.

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) begs to differ. 

In a blistering statement he released today responding to the Trump/Putin telephone call, Sen. McCain condemned any efforts by President-elect Trump to find common ground with Putin. 

Any claim by Putin that he wants to improve relations with the US must be vigorously opposed, writes McCain. He explains:

We should place as much faith in such statements as any other made by a former KGB agent who has plunged his country into tyranny, murdered his political opponents, invaded his neighbors, threatened America’s allies, and attempted to undermine America’s elections. 

Interesting that Republican McCain has taken to using the Hillary Clinton campaign line (the one that lost her the election) that somehow the Russians were manipulating the US electoral process. The claim was never backed up by facts and Hillary’s claim that some 17 US intelligence agencies agreed with her was shown to be a dangerous and foolish lie.

Why is Putin not to be trusted, according to McCain?

Vladimir Putin has rejoined Bashar Assad in his barbaric war against the Syrian people with the resumption of large-scale Russian air and missile strikes in Idlib and Homs. Another brutal assault on the city of Aleppo could soon follow.

What McCain doesn’t say is that unlike US troops in Syria, the Russians are invited by the Syrian government and operate according to international law. Oh yes, and they are also fighting al-Qaeda and ISIS, which has sought to overthrow Assad for the past five years.

Maybe McCain is just really sensitive after meeting with al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria?

As rumors swirl from Washington about neocons sniffing out top jobs in the incoming administration, it would serve president-elect Trump well to reflect on he true nature of the neocon beast…

State Dept dismisses question from RT, says won’t treat it like other media

RT has asked the US State Department for specific information concerning allegations that Russia is targeting hospitals in Syria. The response was a reiteration of those allegations and a refusal to treat RT in the same way as other media outlets.

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During Wednesday’s State Department briefing, spokesman John Kirby accused Russia of the bombing of “five hospitals and at least one mobile clinic in Syria.” RT’s reporter Gayane Chichakyan asked Kirby to specify the details of the alleged incidents, including their location.

Kirby said that he doesn’t know the exact locations.

“I’m not making those accusations, I’m telling you that we’ve seen reports from credible aid organizations,” Kirby said, refusing to clarify any details on the alleged attacks or even give the list of the “many Syrian relief agencies” on which the State Department relied.

He went on with his criticism of the reporter.

“Here’s a good question: Why don’t you ask your Defense Ministry what they are doing? You work for Russia Today [RT], and so why shouldn’t you ask your government the same kind of questions that you are asking me?” Kirby told RT on Wednesday.

The official US response prompted Matt Lee, a correspondent from the AP news agency, to intervene.

“Please be careful about saying ‘your Defense Ministry’ and things like that – she’s a journalist, she’s just like the rest of us are,” he pointed out.

“From a state-owned outlet!” Kirby interrupted, adding, “I’m not going to put Russia Today on the same level with the rest of you who are representing independent media outlets.”

shamanahaboolist

Hahaha she wiped the floor with him.
David Jones

This is the guy that Sen John McCain called an ‘Idiot.” He also questioned how it was possible that he could be a Rear Admiral in the US Navy. Ha! Ha!
MudВuтт's Pratfall Disaster

She asked him questions about lies he was repeating. He could not answer them. End of story.
Robert Tube

Good god is it January 20th yet?
Stendec

This is proper journalist

 

Maine Withdraws from Federal Refugee Resettlement Program Four Days Before Election

BY MICHAEL PATRICK LEAHY

Maine is withdrawing from the federal refugee resettlement program just four days before Election Day, WMTW in Portland reports.

“I have lost confidence in the federal government’s ability to safely and responsibly run the refugee program and no longer want the State of Maine associated with that shortcoming,” Gov. Paul LePage said in a letter sent to President Obama and released by his office late Friday.

“The federal government has proven to be an unwilling partner with states in ensuring that refugee resettlement does not unduly put American lives at risk,” Le Page added in the letter.

“I sincerely hope that the federal government will re-evaluate its current refugee policy — both the quantity and nation of origin of refugees it resettles and the vetting process they are subjected to — in order to best protect the safety and interests of the American people,” LePage wrote.

“In his letter, the Republican governor wrote about Adnan Fazeli, a former Freeport man who, according to court documents, fled Iran in 2009, who died last year while fighting for the Islamic State in Lebanon,” according to WMTW.

As Breitbart News reported previously, Fazeli “initially came to Philadelphia in 2008 [as a refugee from Iran] and then moved to Portland, Maine [in 2009],” according to a Facebook post by Fazeli’s brother, Dr. Jabbar Fazeli, a physician who resides in Maine and has had a practice there for over a decade.

Maine is now the thirteenth state to formally withdraw from the federal refugee resettlement program. In those states, the federal government selects a voluntary agency (VOLAG) to operate the program on its behalf under the statutorily questionable Wilson Fish alternative program.

Three other states have withdrawn from the federal refugee resettlement program this year: Texas, New Jersey, and Kansas.

Nine states withdrew from the federal refugee resettlement program between 1990 and 2015: Kentucky, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nevada, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, and Alaska.

In three other states, Vermont, Colorado, and Massachusetts, the federal government operates the refugee resettlement program under the Wilson Fish alternative program, even though those states have not withdrawn from the program.

The Tennessee General Assembly is suing the federal government for its operation of the federal refugee resettlement in the state of Tennessee on Tenth Amendment grounds, an argument that is only available to the thirteen states that have formally withdrawn from the federal program.

In those states, state taxpayers are required by the federal government to pay for the medical, housing, English as a Second Language, welfare, and translation expenses of refugees resettled within their jurisdiction without their consent. This amounts to an unfunded liability.

The Center for Immigration Studies estimated that in the state of Tennessee these expenses amount to $165 million annually.

In October, the Tennessee General Assembly “selected the Thomas More Law Center to represent the state in its lawsuit against the federal government over the resettlement of refugees in the Volunteer State.”

The Thomas More Law Center, which is representing the Tennessee General Assembly at no cost to the state, is expected to file the lawsuit in federal district court within the next few months.

Both Texas and Alabama have also sued the federal government to end the refugee resettlement program in their states, but only on the grounds that the federal government has failed to comply with the “consultation clause” of the Refugee Act of 1980, which requires the federal government and the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement to consult with local and state governments prior to resettling refugees within their jurisdictions.

Both lawsuits lost in federal district court and are now on appeal. The courts ruled, in part, that even a cursory communication of intent to place refugees in a state with that state’s government complies with the consultation clause.

That argument, however, is not available to the federal government in the case of local governments with which they have had no communications.

Such is the situation in Oakland County, Michigan, where County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said in September he intends to sue the federal government for its placement of thousands of refugees in the county over the past decade without providing any communication to him or other county officials.

Gov. LePage of Maine did not immediately respond to inquiries from Breitbart News as to whether he intends to have Maine join Tennessee’s Tenth Amendment lawsuit against the federal government to end the refugee resettlement program in his state as well.

It is unclear if LePage’s announcement four days before Tuesday’s presidential election will have an impact on the outcome of the contest between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton in the state.

Maine is one of only two states in which electoral college votes in the presidential election are not allocated on a winner take-all basis. Two of Maine’s electoral college votes are given to the statewide winner, while the two other electoral college votes are given to the winner in each of the state’s two Congressional Districts.

As of Saturday, Real Clear Politics classifies both the state of Maine and the Second Congressional district as tossups, and the First Congressional District as “Leans Clinton.”