Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Conflict in Syria - 10/06/2015

After several attempts to get the formatting right I surrender.

'Relentless' Russian Airstrikes Caught Terrified ISIL Off Guard - Source

5 October, 2015

A source in the Islamic State’s so-called 'capital' told Sputnik on condition of anonymity that Russian airstrikes have caused widespread panic among the Islamist militants who apparently were not expecting such a relentless assault.

"They thought that Russian warplanes would act like their American counterparts – that they would launch some sporadic surgical strikes at dusk and then they would fly away," the source said. "Instead, Russian military aircraft constantly bombard ISIS positions in the vicinity of Raqqa, and these massed strikes have completely paralyzed the Islamist group’s activities. The Russian air operation proved to be extremely effective."
The source added that Russian military aircraft engage any ISIL forces they encounter, and that the militants were forced to evacuate the checkpoints they previously maintained in and around Raqqa.

"The militants now have to wear burqas to conceal their weapons and ISIL command also ordered them not to move in large formations," the source added.
The Islamic State leadership also cancelled collective prayers that were previously held by the terrorist group members on the city streets. According to the source, weddings and public punishments are also no longer held in the city's squares.

"Previously, when one of the city residents was caught stealing or smoking or committing some other transgression, he or she was brought to the central square where the Sharia court was held to be publically punished. Now these activities were are no longer conducted due to safety concerns," source said.

ISIS in Syria using mosques as shelters, civilians as shields – Russian Defense Ministry

5 October, 2015

Islamic State militants are hiding in mosques and using locals as human shields because they know that Russian jets would never target civilian areas, the Russian Defense Ministry revealed at two briefings on Tuesday.

Islamic State (formerly ISIS/ISIL) forces are sheltering in mosques and trying to hide their vehicles around them, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov told reporters Tuesday, citing video evidence.

Knowing our careful, respectful attitude to mosques they understand that we would never - under any circumstances – carry out airstrikes against civilian facilities,” he said, following a meeting with Defense press attachés from several countries, with a US representative among them.

Later in the day, Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, also warned that terrorists may be preparing provocations such as bombing mosques to accuse the Russian Air Force of committing war crimes.

"As this example clearly shows, ‘moderate rebels’ would not hide behind civilians as human shields or, moreover, concentrate armored vehicles under the arches of religious institutions. All of these actions can only be the calling card of terrorists,” the Ministry of Defense commented on the issued video.

Anatoly Antonov also emphasized that Russia uses data from space and air surveillance - not only information gathered from the Syrian Army.

We check the data a hundred times. Our decisions are well balanced, deliberate and calculated. We carry out airstrikes only if we are 100 percent sure that we are hitting the right target,” Antonov said.

He also expressed his regret about the media reaction to the Russian military operation in Syria as well as about the statements of US Secretary Defense Ashton Carter (about the necessity to resist Russian actions in Syria).
That is a real information war,” he remarked.
URGENT: From Day 1 of Russian anti-#ISIS ops in #Syria, MSM launched anti-Russian information campaign - FM; LIVE
RT (@RT_com) October 6, 2015

Antonov also revealed that the Russian Defense Ministry and the Pentagon are working on a document concerning coordination of air operations in Syria.
Unfortunately, the US is reducing our coordination only to its technical aspects – that is between our pilots during their missions,” Antonov said, adding that the General Staff in principle supports the agreement.

The Deputy Defense Minister believes that the potential of the Russian-US cooperation on Syria is much wider but said that Russia does not impose itself as a partner to solve the common problem.

He also said that on October 1, a video conference between the US and Russian defense ministries took place. A second one is planned for the next few days.

But it would be better if our colleagues came to us and we discussed all the problems eye to eye here, at the Defense Ministry headquarters,” Antonov dded.

Russia would welcome a Turkish Defense Ministry delegation to avoid further misunderstandings during the Russian military operation in Syria, Antonov said, referring to the accidental intrusion of a Russian aircraft into Turkish airspace.
3,000 terrorists leave Syria following Russian airstrikes – military source
RT (@RT_com) October 5, 2015

Moscow launched its military operation against ISIS and other terrorist groups at the request of the Syrian government on September 30 and has already targeted a number of the ISIS infrastructure units hitting command centers, ammunition depots and explosive production sites, among others.

If the US and the West in general are “serious” about fighting ISIS, they should unite with the world community to counter the threat, Daoud Khairallah, International Law professor at Georgetown University, told RT.“If Washington and the international community, any European country or any country in the world, if it is serious – they should be serious – about fighting terrorism … the entire world community should get together, should cooperate, should coordinate its efforts to achieve some results, some tangible results, effective results,” Khairallah said, adding that terrorism is a “threat to every society in the world,” not just some particular nations.

Unfortunately, we see doubletalk. We see some countries, the US included, saying or declaring certain objectives and behaving in a way that don’t indicate that it is serious about fighting terrorism and achieving those results,”Khairallah added.

The professor stressed that while ISIS as a terror group can hardly be held accountable under international law, countries supporting jihadists must be revealed and punished.“ISIS would not be accountable, as such, it’s not an international entity. It is those countries that support, that facilitate the work of ISIS, that help the recruiting of ISIS, these countries should be held accountable. And a serious investigation about how ISIS is funded, how it is operating and who is facilitating its move between countries, especially with respect to foreign fighters for ISIS: this is where accountability for ISIS should lie and this is where the international community should be moving,” he said.

Russian MoD releases video of suspected ISIS vehicles being deployed close to mosque

This is a full press briefing from Foreign Russian Ministry representative

'We don’t want Syria to be terrorist black hole, let us deal with ISIS'–Russia's Foreign Ministry

And an item from Russian television, translated

Russian TV investigates who are actually "moderate rebels" in Syria?

Even now, every day the Guardian, BBC etc quotes as a source the Observatory of Human Rights. RT tracked down the one man band in Kazakhstan.

Man who runs SOHR admits to RT he last visited Syria 15 years ago

6 October, 2015

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has been feeding news about the Syrian war to many media outlets, claiming to have a wide network of contacts on the ground. RT caught up with its director to find out how trustworthy those sources are.

Recently RT went to investigate what makes SOHR so popular with the mainstream media. Journalist and prankster Nimrod Kamer, who volunteered to help find out the answer, travelled to the Midlands to see the headquarters of the Observatory and speak to its director.

Kamer had no luck catching Rami Abdulrahman at home, however. Calling him on the phone, he found out the man went out to a shop. The director of the Observatory sounded very distressed on the phone, talking about the dangers of meeting up for daytime interviews because “they are trying to kill me.”
Who is behind Syrian Observatory for Human Rights? @nnimrodd investigates
RT (@RT_com) October 3, 2015
Soon after RT found out that Abdulrahman was headed to Kazakhstan, although no further details were clear. But tracing the steps of the Syrian opposition was a big help. They got together for a conference in one of the Kazakh capital's lavish spots. The head of the SOHR also attended the conference, and, after a bit of wrangling, agreed to answer a couple of questions from RT.

"We are under attack simply because we tell the truth what's going on in Syria. Apparently nobody wants to hear the truth," Abdulrahman told RT’s Ilya Petrenko.

The organization claims to have a wide network of contacts in the region who feed their information to the head office, where it is processed and then posted on the SOHR website, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

RT asked Abdulrahman whether he personally knows "hundreds of people," as he himself puts it, working in Syria for SOHR, and whether he can really trust all of them.

"I know all of the activists working for the SOHR," he replied.

When RT wondered when the last time Abdulrahman actually went to Syria was, he said it was 15 years ago.

"But I know some of the Observatory activists through common friends. This organization only takes new members following a six-month trial period and the candidate has to be familiar to someone from the organization or to a reliable outside contact," he said.

Since the start of its anti-terror campaign in Syria, Russia has got in SOHR reports, which were quickly picked up by major Western media outlets. One of the latest wires from the Observatory, alleging that "Russian warplanes killed 30 civilians in Homs including women and children,” made headlines worldwide on October 1.

Interestingly enough, the same wire published on the Arabic version of the SOHR website on the same date did not mention any Russian warplanes. It said: "27 civilians dead in airstrikes by Assad regime air forces.

Anissa Naoui of RT's 'In the Now' is back on screen

Russia is not bombing ISIS. Why? Because NATO said so

Not only NATO that says so, but also Mainstream Media and Bellingcat reporters, who cite Google maps and random Twitter users. Plus a map is circulating online proving that it’s the rebels indeed who the Russian jets are bombing. The source - a U.S. NGO and the Syrian Observatory for Human rights. The organisation founded in 2006 and run by a single man, who's located outside of Syria. In Kazakhstan, actually. But he swears his sources are credible.

Saudi clerics call for jihad against Russia in Syria – to back ISIS?

Militant Islamist fighters wave flags as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province. © Stringer
5 October, 2015

Dozens of Saudi Arabian clerics not officially affiliated with Riyadh have urged Muslims to support the fight of “holy warriors” against Syria’s government and its Iranian and Russian allies. The clerics are outraged by Russia’s bombing of Islamic State.

READ MORE: Russian jets hit 12 ISIS targets in Syria, cause panic among extremists – Defense Ministry

Fifty-five Saudi Arabian ‘opposition’ clerics and academicians, including some prominent Islamists, have signed a joint online statement urging “true Muslims” to “give all moral, material, political and military” support to the fight against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army as well as Iranian and Russian forces.

The statement follows the commencement of daily Russian air raids in Syria targeting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists. Contrary to Riyadh’s public anti-ISIS stance, the clerics’ call appears to be portraying the militants as “defenders” of faith.

The holy warriors of Syria are defending the whole Islamic nation. Trust them and support them ... because if they are defeated, God forbid, it will be the turn of one Sunni country after another,” the call reads, as cited by Reuters.

The group brands the Russian involvement as “an orthodox crusade” and calls on anti-Assad fighters to “unify their front” and stay in Syria. It also uses sectarian terms for Iran and the Shi’ite Alawite sect to which Assad belongsц.

The Western-Russian coalition with the Safavids [Iran] and the Nusairis [Alawites] are making a real war against the Sunni people and their countries,” the text says.
Russian Air Force hits 50 #ISIS targets over 3 days, ‘significantly’ damaging militants
RT (@RT_com) October 4, 2015

The sectarian statement runs contrary to the Saudi government’s rhetoric and the country’s law. Officially, Riyadh is doing all it can to prevent citizens from privately funding militants abroad and leaving the country to join the fighting in Syria.
The long-lasting bloody conflict in Syria, which some view in the context of Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran struggling for dominance in the region, has fueled sectarian sentiments.

In March of 2014, invitations to join conflicts were outlawed in Saudi Arabia by a decree that put terrorist groups such as Islamic State and the Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front on the forbidden list. Anyone breaching the law faces a long prison term.

Russia started its anti-IS operation in Syria last week following a request from President Bashar Assad. The strikes are aimed at providing air support to Syrian government troops, which have been failing to contain the spread of jihadist militants in the war-torn country. More than 3,000 militants, including IS terrorists, reportedly fled Syria following the commencement of the Russian campaign.

Things wouldn't be complete without the unsubstantiated rumours in the UK tabloid press

End of ISIS? Putin sends in his most ruthless special forces killers to finish off jihadis

VLADIMIR Putin has dispatched his most elite special forces team to Syria to hunt down and wipe out Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

Spetsnaz troops, left, and ISIS militants, right

The Russian supremo ordered the deployment of soldiers from his fearsome Spetsnaz unit to root out and eliminate packs of fleeing jihadis.

A battalion of elite paratroopers also ghosted into the war-torn country this week as Putin ramps up his assault on the Islamist fanatics and rebel forces fighting to topple dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Russia, U.S. move to resume talks on air-to-air conduct over Syria

Russia, US work on agreement to coordinate air operations in Syria – Moscow

Russian pilots ready a Su-30 fighter for a raid at Hmeimim aerodrome in Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov

7 October, 2015

The Russian Defense Ministry and the Pentagon are working on an agreement to coordinate military flights in Syria, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. 

The Russian Defense Ministry has responded to the Pentagon’s request and promptly considered the American proposal on coordination of actions in the framework of the fight against the terror group ISIS,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, as quoted by TASS.

He added that 
“in general, these proposals could be accepted for implementation.”

The General Staff “in principle” supports the agreement proposed by US colleagues, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, the US is reducing our coordination only to its technical aspects – that is between our pilots during their missions,” he said, following a meeting with Defense press attachés from several countries including the US.
Antonov said that a video conference between the US and Russian defense ministries had taken place on October 1 to discuss the “safe use of air forces” in Syria. A second is planned for the next few days.

But it would be better if our colleagues came to us and we discussed all the problems eye to eye here, at the Defense Ministry headquarters,” Antonov said, adding that he hopes that during the second conference the Pentagon will comment on Russia’s proposals.
#ISIS in Syria using mosques as shelters, civilians as shields – Russian Defense Ministry
RT (@RT_com) October 6, 2015

On Friday, US president Barack Obama said the US would not cooperate with Russia in Syria as its actions are allegedly designed to “prop up” Assad. He added, however, that the US is not going “to make Syria into a proxy war between the United States and Russia.”

Cooperation with President Assad remains one of the main stumbling blocks between Russia and the US. However, as geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser has told RT, Washington’s reluctance to collaborate with Assad “makes their strategy against ISIS absolutely untenable.”

The US has learned, unfortunately, through many examples of trial and error in various wars that it has waged, that terrorism and terrorists’ tactics such as these are almost impossible for traditional military that has overwhelming air power, but is unwilling to engage on the ground. We saw it in Iraq, we saw it in Afghanistan,” Draitser said, adding that, while this is not “unexpected,” it does point to an important aspect of “the failure” of Western policy. “When they say they are not willing to collaborate with Assad, it makes the strategy against ISIS absolutely untenable and impossible.”

Moscow launched its military operation against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and other terrorist groups at the request of the Syrian government on September 30 and has already targeted a number of IS infrastructure units, hitting command centers, ammunition depots and explosive production sites, among others military facilities.

From Reuters

Russia, U.S. move to resume talks on air-to-air conduct over Syria

Arctic weather update - 10.06/2015

Weather at the North Pole

Forecast says a big blast of warm air being blown or should that be sucked into the Arctic. Maybe a sting in the tail

Temperature anomalies in the Arctic

Wind movements - from Nullschool

Wind speeds at 10 metres

Exponential sea level rise

We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Graph — Global Sea Level Rise Just Went off the Chart

6 October, 2015

From end 2014 through Fall of 2015 global sea levels surged. Building heat hitting +1 C above 1880s averages in the atmosphere-ocean system continued to set off a range of what appear to be ramping impacts. Thermal expansion grew more dramatic as oceans continued to heat up during what may be a record El Nino year. Rates of land ice melt continued to increase — providing a greater and greater fraction of overall global sea level rise. And global ocean currents showed signs of a melt-spurred change — which resulted in an uneven distribution of this overall rise.

We’re Going to Need A Bigger Graph

During that less than one year time, seas rose by fully 1 centimeter. That’s three times the ‘normal’ rate that’s been roughly ongoing since the early 1990s. A big bump that’s now part of a three-and-a-half-year, 3-centimeter surge. One more sign that global sea level rise is starting to really ramp up.
AVISO Sea level rise
(Global sea level rise since 1992 hits past the 8 centimeter mark in the AVISO altimetric graph. Image source: AVISO.)

This big, one-centimeter, jump topped the previous AVISO graph, which went up to 8 centimeters, forcing the measure to generate a new graph with a 9 centimeter top like. In other words, ‘we’re gonna need a bigger graph’ (See the old, smaller, graph here). Unfortunately, with some of the world’s top scientists predicting the potential for an exponentially increasing rate of sea level rise through this Century, it appears that ‘we’re gonna need a bigger graph’ may well become the scientific rallying cry of the age.

Possibility of Exponential Increase in Rate of Sea Level Rise

This year’s seemingly-staggering, 1 centimeter and counting, jump in sea level in less than one year, if maintained over the course of a century would result in a more than 1 meter global rise. Sadly, many new studies on the rate of glacier destabilization in Antarctica and Greenland hint that such a significant jump in sea level is not only likely, but may even be significantly exceeded under business as usual or even a moderately curtailed rate of fossil fuel burning.

A new study led by former NASA GISS head Dr. James Hansen points to the possibility of as much as 3 meters of sea level rise by mid Century and 7 meters or more of sea level rise by end Century even if the global economy somewhat steps off its current high trajectory of fossil fuel burning.

(Steadily ramping sea level rise that may be the start of an exponential curve. Image source:Research Conducted by Dr. James Hansen.)

Such massive rates of sea level rise would clearly be catastrophic.
In such cases, we’d start to see these kinds of exponential increases really begin to ramp up over the next 10, 20, and 30 years. And, given the rather large bumps we’re seeing in the AVISO measure for the past 3 and a half years, it’s possible we’re at the start of one of these potential step changes.