The French government says there is no evidence that proves the Syrian government committed a chemical weapons attack on its own people.
According to French Defense Minister Florence Parly, there is absolutely zero evidence that the Assad regime used the chemical agent chlorine on citizens.
“We have some indications of possible chlorine use [in Syria], but we have no absolute confirmation,” Minister Florence Parly told France Inter radio on Friday. “So we, alongside the others, are working on trying to confirm this, as we clearly have to get the facts straight.”
Rt.com reports: Currently, Paris is not ready for a harsh response alluded to by French President Emmanuel Macron in May 2017, according to the country’s defense chief. At that time, Macron said that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is “a red line” for France and would result in “immediate reprisals.”
France is not in a position to say whether that ‘red line’ has been crossed at this point, due “to the lack of certainty on what happened in Syria,” Parly admitted. On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian seemed more inclined to lay the blame on the Syrian government, saying that “all indications show us today that chlorine is used by the regime right now in Syria.” He also called for caution, however, admitting that the evidence “wasn’t completely documented.”
Allegations about a possible chlorine-gas attack in Syria emerged in January this year. They were made by quite controversial pro-militant sources – the Syrian Civil Defense group, better known as the White Helmets and the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). These allegations have not yet been independently verified so far.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that illegal US airstrikes in Syria will not go ignored or unpunished by Russia.
As the US continue to strike pro-government militias in Syria, killing hundreds of Syrian troops in the process, Russia have reminded the UN that the US presence in Syria is “actually illegal.”
“Nobody invited them there,” Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told the UN Security Council on Thursday.
Rt.com reports: On Wednesday, the US-led coalition said it carried out several “defensive” airstrikes on Syrian forces in Deir Ez-Zor province in retaliation for what they described as an “unprovoked” attack on the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and foreign military “advisers.”
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Syrian militia unit was advancing against a “sleeper cell” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists near the former oil processing plant of al-Isba, when it suddenly came under massive air strikes. At least 25 militiamen were injured in the attack, the Russian MoD noted, clarifying that pro-government troops targeted by the coalition did not coordinate their operation with the Russian command.
The suicide note left by Fidel Castro’s eldest son has rocked the Cuban nation this week, with the most astonishing revelation being the claim that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was his half-brother and the son of the late Fidel Castro.
The handwritten note left by Fidel Castro Diaz-Balart, 68, the eldest of Fidel Castro’s children, appears to confirm the longstanding rumor in Cuba that Fidel Castro fathered Justin Trudeau after a public tryst with Margaret Trudeau in 1970.
“Castro Diaz-Balart, who had been attended by a group of doctors for several months due to a state of profound depression, committed suicide this morning,” Cubadebate website reported.
The death of the high-profile government nuclear scientist, also known as “Fidelito”, or Little Fidel, because of how much he looked like his father, stunned the nation, however it is his “explosive” suicide note that has set tongues wagging in Havana.
Amid a wide-ranging barrage of complaints, the note suggests Fidelito was angry with his late father, the revolutionary Cuban dictator. Fidelito wrote that his father, Fidel Castro, was “always comparing me unfavorably with Justin” and “dismissing my achievements in comparison to his success in Canada.“
“But what was I to do? I am Cuban. My brother is Canadian. If he was born and raised in Cuba, he would have lived in our father’s shadow forever just like me.”
While Justin Trudeau is famously known as the son of Canada’s liberal former Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau, comparison images of Pierre, Justin and Fidel suggest there may be something to the Cuban claims.
Pierre Trudeau (left), Justin Trudeau (centre), and Fidel Castro (right).
Cubans believe Justin bears a striking resemblance to images of a young Fidel Castro (right).
Strong physical resemblance aside, the Cuban rumors are also backed up by historical fact.
Lebanon is planning to open its Ports to Russian Warships and Russia will in return help train the Lebanese army.
The Russian government announced earlier this week that Moscow was about to conclude a military cooperation agreement with Lebanon, which provide a “comprehensive framework for coordination” and “joint activities” between the armies of the two countries.
According to media reports the Russian Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev has instructed the Russian Defence Ministry to start talks with its Lebanese counterpart to sign the cooperation agreement between the two countries.
The news comes as an Israel minister threatened to send Lebanon back to the stone age
Israel has confirmed that it carried out “a large scale attack” consisting of at least a dozen strikes on Syrian and Iranian military targets inside Syria on Saturday morning.
An Israeli F-16 fighter jet was downed after Syria responded with anti-aircraft fire to an Israeli operation inside its territory, an incident which has the potential to escalate into all out war.
The flare-up started on Saturday. Israel reported an incursion of an Iranian drone, which it said it downed. Israel later launched a cross-border attack on an Iranian target in Syria, where it believes the drone was launched. Syrian air defenses responded to the attack and downed an Israeli jet. Israel then launched more attacks on Syrian and Iranian targets inside Syria.
A major battle broke out between the Israeli Air Force and Syrian Air Defence Force over the occupied Golan Region, south Lebanon and the west Damascus region.
The Russian foreign ministry said the attacks on targets in Syria are a cause of very serious concern for Russia.
Zero Hedge reports:
During the confrontation that lasted for hours, Israeli warplanes and Syrian anti-aircraft systems traded missile fire – literally dozens of such munitions were fired – as the latter launched a general attack against ‘Iranian and regime’ bases west of Damascus.
And in a major escalation, one which has the potential to escalate into all out war, at the beginning of the battle, a Syrian surface-to-air missile downed an Israeli F-16I fighter jet over the occupied Golan Heights (described as ‘northern Israel’ by Israeli sources).
Open war has now essentially broken out between Israel and Syria. Israel confirms through its IDF spokesperson that it has carried out “a large scale attack” consisting of at least a dozen strikes on Syrian and Iranian military targets inside Syria, in what Reuters dubbed a “major escalation of tension”.
What we previously described as Assad’s strategic “waiting game” and reluctance to respond to repeat Israeli violations of Syrian airspace while launching unprovoked attacks appears to be over as Syrian air defense has shot down an Israeli F-16 fighter jet near the Golan border region in what is a major escalation in the conflict.
Moments ago, IAF aircraft, targeted the Syrian Aerial Defense System & Iranian targets in Syria. 12 targets, including 3 aerial defense batteries & 4 Iranian military targets, were attacked. Anti-aircraft missiles were fired towards Israel, triggering alarms in northern Israel
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) February 10, 2018
Sources in Damascus say surface-to-air missiles going off non-stop. Israel is pounding western Damascus
— Leith Aboufadel (@leithfadel) February 10, 2018
Though details remain murky and are still developing, Israel has confirmed that its F-16 jet has crashed in Israeli territory after it was struck carrying out operations targeting locations in Syria. The IDF spokesman quickly stated in a tweet confirming the shoot down that “Iran is responsible for this severe violation of Israeli sovereignty.”
The minute the two #Israeli pilots arrive at an Israeli hospital , there F-16 was shot down while attacking #Syria-n targets , syrian army says their air defense system shot and hit few Israeli war jet pic.twitter.com/BvoGNi7b1z
— Nasser Atta (@nasseratta5) February 10, 2018
The two Israeli pilots ejected, landing inside Israel in the northern countryside of Galilee and were rushed to a hospital, according to local media reports. Israeli military statements have indicated that one of the pilots suffered severe injuries as a result of the emergency ejection from the aircraft.
Video first posted on social media captured by onlookers in the area appears to show a pilot parachuting into the northern Israeli countryside of Galilee.
Early unconfirmed footage of the F-16 crash and subsequent rescue have emerged on social media. The following shows multiple scenes currently circulating from the early morning incident:
#Syria Air Defense Force used S-200V Surface to Air missile to shoot-down an #Israel Air Force F-16I while was bombing an #IRGC base in Syria. The F-16 is crashed in Israel territory & its pilots ejected safely & were evacuated by S-70A. #IRGC has used UAV to check F-16 wreckage. pic.twitter.com/qPkjzT7iPf
— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) February 10, 2018
This is the first time in the 7-year long Syrian war that an Israel jet has been shot down, and after promising a swift response, Israel has launched multiple retaliatory strikes against Syrian military bases in the southwest countryside of Damascus.
This morning, an IAF pilot was severely injured as a result of an emergency evacuation from an IAF aircraft. The pilot was evacuated to the hospital for medical treatment. The incident is being reviewed. The family has been notified.
— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) February 10, 2018
Beirut-based Al Masdar News reports that the incident occurred at approximately 6:30 A.M. Saturday morning (local time) and that the Israeli F-16 fighter was hit while flying within Syrian airspace near Damascus.
Official Israeli statements claim multiple of its jets were scrambled in response to an Iranian drone launch into Israeli airspace, which the IDF says was intercepted amidst “massive Syrian anti-air fire”. The F-16 was engaged in an operation to destroy the Syrian ground base from which the UAV was launched.
According to the Israeli version of events issued in real time by IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus:
Accurate hits of Iranian UAV control facility confirmed.
— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) February 10, 2018
Breaking news: IDF intercepted an Iranian UAV launched from Syria over Israeli airspace, and is now engaging Iranian targets in Syria in response. More details to follow.
— Jonathan Conricus (@LTCJonathan) February 10, 2018
The Syrian military has stated that its air defense missile system further struck an Israeli drone shortly after the F-16 was downed, which had been launched from the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. There’s not been immediate Israeli confirmation of this second aircraft downing.
The ship searching for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 mysteriously disappeared with absolutely zero explanation, according to officials.
On 22 January, the Seabed Constructor began its mission to search for the missing plane which disappeared in March 2014.
On Thursday, after only 10 days of searching, the ship turned off its Automatic Identification System (AIS) with no explanation.
Gizadeathstar.com reports: As one might expect, in the absence of explanations, speculations and theories abound, including a theory that the vessel went on a secret treasure hunt:
Kevin Rupp, a precision machinist who has been publicly tracking Seabed Constructor, said that was highly unlikely.
“I have nothing polite to say about those who are spreading rumours that Seabed Constructor was really on a treasure hunt,” he said.
He said all speculation was simply guesswork, and the tracker may have been turned off to prevent unnecessary distress to the victim’s families. “If the ship detected possible contacts [with MH370] its most likely action would be to move to the spot of the detections and lower an ROV – a tethered remote-controlled small vehicle,” he said.
“To do this, Seabed Constructor would have to sit still in one place for a long period of time and this would be very noticeable to those of us watching through our AIS tracking apps … I believe they may have turned the AIS transmitter to low power mode to prevent us from speculating that they had found something and causing undue distress for the next of kin.”
But now note something, and I hope it bothers the reader as much as it bothers me:
In the single update released by Malaysian officials so far, it was confirmed MH370 had not been found in the first week of the search, between 22 and 30 January.
During that time, Seabed Constructor had searched a “high priority” area that Australian researchers had pinpointed as the plane’s likely resting place. Between 2014 and 2017, Australian authorities had conducted a three-year search across 120,000sq km that failed to find the plane. Afterwards, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) identified the priority area as the next place to look.
Scientist Richard Cole said on Twitter he believed the ship had spent the three days in an area it had previously searched, in the south-east corner of the search area.
And that’s the problem: why search in an area that has already been searched? Why, indeed, are we searching in the Indian Ocean at all, when, as I’ve outlined above, there are varying witness accounts of the flight going in other directions? Why would an American “source” get on national television and offer silly theories about Iran, a long way away from the western Australian coast? Any why, indeed, turn off the ship’s position transponder? I suspect a different explanation than that offered in the article, namely, that the ship may not have been where people think it was, and that it was looking elsewhere, and if so, that may mean the Malaysian government has some intelligence it is not, as yet, sharing.
Germany and France have ordered a complete global ban on cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, in order to maintain long-term financial stability.
In a letter to G20 finance ministers – signed by French Finance Minister Bruno le Maire and his German counterpart Peter Altmaier – they said that Bitcoin poses a “substantial risk” to the world’s biggest banks.
Rt.com reports: “Given the fast increase in the capitalization of tokens and the emergence of new financial instruments” based on them, “these developments should be closely monitored,” the ministers said.
Cryptocurrencies “are currently largely mislabeled as ‘currencies’ in the media and on the internet,” they said, adding that a “lack of clarity” about the nature of tokens “can only fuel speculation.”
They also called for greater protections for retail investors speculating in crypto, saying “the buildup of individual exposures to such volatile tokens could have damaging consequences for misinformed investors who do not understand the risks they are exposing themselves to.”
A Russian passenger plane crashed shortly after leaving a Moscow airport on Sunday, killing all 71 people on board.
The Saratov Airlines flight carrying 65 passengers and six crew members vanished minutes after take-off and crashed near the village of Argunovo, about 80km (50 miles) south-east of Moscow.
Transport Minister Maxim Sokolov said: “Judging by everything, no one has survived this crash”
One of the passengers listed among the dead just happened to be the CFO of Rosatom. Rosatom by the way is the Russian nuclear company involved in Hillary Clinton’s Uranium One deal…..just a coincidence right?
RT reports: Domodedovo air traffic control lost contact with Saratov Airlines flight 703, bound for Orsk, several minutes after take off, an official from Russia’s Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsiya) told local media. He said communication with the crew was cut and the plane vanished from radar screens.
Earlier in the day, debris was spotted from the air. Emergency services immediately deployed rapid response teams to the reported crash site, but rescuers and medics had to reach it on foot, walking through the countryside buried under snow.
Preliminary reports say the wreckage is spread across an area between adjacent villages. The Emergencies Ministry said the search-and-rescue operation will work around the clock, with the crash site observed by drones.
A top EU official has warned that the migrant crisis in Europe threatens to erupt into a huge civil war within 2 years, unless something drastic is done to curb the influx of refugees.
European Commissioner for regional policy Corina Cretu says that leaders need to spend serious money on tackling the issue, before migrant ghettos become a “nuclear bomb” of unrest.
Dailymail.co.uk reports: Despite decades of spending on infrastructure in the poorer parts of Europe, the European Union is aiming to reduce inequality by pumping more money into countries in eastern and southern Europe.
Ms Cretu said that this is important for ‘social integration’.
She told the Thomson Reuters Foundation this week at the World Urban Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: ‘Social integration will be crucial in the years to come.
‘If we allow ghettos or segregation of migrants, this will become a nuclear bomb in the future.’
The EU asylum system was on the brink of collapse in 2015 as a million refugees and migrants arrived by boat, overwhelming Greece and Italy.
Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic refused to take some of the new arrivals.
Vladimir Putin has warned Israeli PM Netanyahu to back away from Syria immediately, or face “dire consequences” as a result.
Following Israel’s air raids in Syria, Putin telephoned Netanyahu, urging him to “avoid any steps that could lead to a new round of confrontation dangerous to everyone in the region,” according to the Kremlin.
Rt.com reports: The Israeli Prime Minister meanwhile told the Russian leader that Israel will defend itself against any “Iranian threats” coming from the territory of Syria. Tel Aviv maintains it is vital to its national security to target Iranian interest in Syria as well as prevent potential arms shipments to Hezbollah.
“I reiterated to him [Putin] our right and our duty to defend ourselves against aggression against us from Syrian territory. We agreed the security coordination between our armies will continue,” Netanyahu said at a press conference on Saturday evening, where he blamed Iran for the Saturday’s incident.
Insisting that “Israel seeks peace,” the PM vowed that Israelis “will continue to defend ourselves with determination against any attack against us and against any attempt by Iran to establish a military presence against us in Syria or anywhere else.”
Netanyahu also announces that he spoke with the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson following the escalation of tensions. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, commenting on Israeli military action in Syria, stressed that the United States “strongly supports” Israel’s right to defend itself. “Iran’s calculated escalation of threat and its ambition to project its power and dominance, places all the people of the region – from Yemen to Lebanon – at risk,” she said, echoing Netanyahu’s remarks.
“I have been warning for some time about the dangers of Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. Iran seeks to use Syrian territory to attack Israel for its professed goal of destroying Israel,” Netanyahu told the press conference.