Qusayr captured: Syria’s army regains control of strategic town

Qusayr

Qusayr, a strategically important town in Syria, has been recaptured by Bashar al-Assad’s forces, who are being aided by Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

The town — located along major supply routes in between Damascus and the Mediterranean — was the center of intense clashes between the two sides over the past two weeks.

Syrian TV reported that the rebels withdrew overnight, and had suffered large casualties in the battle. Many also surrendered during the final offensive by the government’s forces.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based organization, also confirmed that Qusayr had fallen based on reports from activists and medics on the ground.

“The army and Hezbollah have succeeded in taking Qusayr after an intense bombardment of the town overnight,” the Observatory said. “The rebels have withdrawn to other areas because they were short of ammunition.”

The Army said in a statement that their recapturing of Qusayr sends “a clear message to all those who share in the aggression on Syria … that we will continue our string of victories until we regain every inch of Syrian land.”

“We will not hesitate to crush with an iron fist those who attack us. … Their fate is surrender or death,” the statement added.

Syria’s bloody two-year civil war has left upwards of 80,000 people dead, and has spilled over into neighboring countries both in its sparking of sectarian violence and the thousands of displaced Syrians seeking refuge.

Fighting was still ongoing in Dabaa and Buweida Al Sharqiya, the last village in the area under rebel control.

Iraq warns Israel on using airspace in Iran strike

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Baghdad has warned Israel that it would respond to any attempts by the Jewish state to use Iraqi airspace for a strike against Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, a top Iraqi minister told AFP.

The remarks from Hussein al-Shahristani, deputy prime minister responsible for energy affairs, mark the first time a senior Iraqi official has publicly warned Israel against entering its airspace — the most direct route — to hit targets in Iran.

Shahristani also said that Iraq had received assurances from Washington that the United States would not use its airspace to attack Iran, which Western powers believe is trying to develop a nuclear weapon. Tehran has repeatedly denied the claim.

“The (Americans) have assured us that they will never violate Iraqi airspace or Iraqi sovereignty by using our airspace to attack any of our neighbours,” Shahristani said in an interview in his office in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone.

“We have also warned Israel that if they violate Iraqi airspace, they will have to bear the consequences.”

The minister said that the issue had been discussed in Iraq’s national security council, and the warning had been passed to Israel “through countries that they have relations with”.

Asked how Iraq would react to any such Israeli attempt to target Iran’s nuclear programme, Shahristani said: “Obviously, Iraq wouldn’t be disclosing its reaction, to allow Israel to take that into account.”

Western powers led by Washington along with Israel are at loggerheads with Iran over allegations that its nuclear programme is aimed at developing an atomic weapon.

Tehran has repeatedly rejected the charges, and in turn accuses its arch-foes Israel and the United States of waging a deadly campaign of sabotage against its disputed nuclear programme, which it insists is for peaceful purposes.

Israel, the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, has refused to rule out military action against Iran.

Shahristani said a similar policy applied to the use of Iraq’s airspace for any military action in neighbouring Syria, where rebels have fought a bloody civil war against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.

Iraq has sought to avoid publicly taking sides between Assad and those opposed to his rule, fearful of a violent spillover of the conflict in Syria, with which it shares a 600-kilometre (375-mile) border.

But Baghdad has been accused by the United States of turning a blind eye to Iranian flights through its airspace carrying military equipment for Assad’s regime.

International powers have imposed biting sanctions on Iran in a bid to force it to cooperate and open up its nuclear programme for more invasive investigations, but Shahristani said that because of Iraq’s economic ties with its eastern neighbour, it would only abide by UN sanctions, and not those implemented by Washington and Europe.

He pointed in particular to Iraq’s need for gas imports from Iran in order to fuel its power stations, with the country attempting to rebuild its badly-damaged electricity infrastructure.

“Iraq has its own national interest,” he said. “Power generation is very critical … and there is no way we can fuel our new power stations, that are being constructed and will be ready before the end of the year, without having gas from Iran.”

“We expect the US, as our ally, to understand the need of the Iraqi people for power generation. If any friend can make the gas available from other sources, by all means, we would be very happy to consider that option.”

“But, given our geographical location, the only gas available to Iraq is from Iran now, and we have explained this to our American friends.”

He added that Iraq had held talks earlier this year with Syria and Iran for a gas pipeline that would go from Iran through Iraq to Syria, but no funds or timeline had been agreed for the proposed project.

Another pipeline carrying gas from Iran to supply power stations in Baghdad and central Iraq is under construction, he said.

Syria: Hundreds of Tawheed brigade Syrian rebels enter the besieged city of Qusair

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Hundreds of rebels from northern Syria managed to enter the besieged city of Qusair on Friday, activists said, to help opposition forces battling government troops backed by the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said hundreds of fighters from the Tawheed brigade, an Islamist group that is powerful in Aleppo in the north, had entered the town.

The brigade confirmed the report on its Facebook page.

The two-week battle for Qusair is aimed at securing supply routes near the Syrian-Lebanese frontier, which both sides accuse the other of using to bolster their forces inside Syria.

India’s LCA Tejas Fighter Fully Operational in 2014

By on Friday, May 31st, 2013

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The Defence Minister Shri AK Antony today expressed optimism that the country’s indigenously developed fighter aircraft – LCA Tejas – will get Final Operational Clearance of the Indian Air Force by the end of next year. Speaking at the Annual Awards Functions of DRDO here, he said, all stakeholders including the DRDO, IAF and HAL must put their energy together in a focused manner to achieve this objective. One must keep in mind the fact that Pakistan’s JF-17 had been operational for about 6 years now, and offers the nearly same capabilities as the LCA Tejas at much lower cost.

Shri Antony said countries that depend on imported arsenals cannot become great nation. Shri Antony said we continue to be the largest importer of Defence equipment. The share of indigenous content in Defence procurement is low. “Our experience has been that foreign vendors are reluctant to part with critical technologies. There are delays in the supply of essential spares. There are exorbitant price increases. The Services, too, realize that we cannot be eternally dependent on foreign equipment and platforms”, he said.

Referring to the expansions of domestic defence industry, Shri Antony said this has to be achieved through public and private sector initiatives. He said there is ample scope for joint ventures also. “All the stakeholders in the defence sector- DRDO, Armed Forces and the industry must work in tandem and develop trust and confidence in each other’s capabilities.” Cautioning against time and cost over runs in projects Shri Antony said Indian Companies must compete with global players in developing state- of- the art technologies of acceptable commercial parameters and must meet customer satisfaction.

The Minister complimented DRDO for their magnificent achievements in 2012. He referred to the first flight of Agni-V, two successful tests of our Ballistic Missile Defence programme in February and November 2012, first flight of LCA Navy, establishment of a cyber-forensics laboratory, initiation of production of NBC systems, ToT for composite armour for helicopters and investment casting of aero engine components and said these are just some of the many accomplishments.

He, however, asked the scientists not to be complacent. “The DRDO must keep its focus trained on the areas of core competence and not fritter away its energy and resources. In today’s world of cut-throat competition, the choice is very clear-‘perform, or perish’. From designing stage to the stage of final production, timelines must be strictly adhered to and satisfaction of the end user is the litmus test of achievement”, he said.

He said, the security environment in our neighbourhood; civil strife and turmoil in the Middle East; terrorism and threats to cyber security; piracy; illegal seabed mining in Indian Ocean and space-based threats present complex challenges to our defence capabilities. These require both conventional, as well as latest technological responses.

Expressing happiness the Minister said, it is heartening to note that a large number of major systems are under production and the cumulative production value of all the DRDO developed systems has crossed Rs. 1,55,000 crore. ‘I am sure in the coming years, this figure will go even higher. DRDO must make relentless efforts to accelerate the pace of self- reliance’, he further said.

The function was attended among others by the Minister of State for Defence, Shri Jitendra Singh, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral DK Joshi and Director General DRDO Dr. VK Saraswat.

On the occasion, Shri Antony gave away DRDO Awards to several scientists, technologists and DRDO laboratories in fourteen categories for their outstanding contributions in different areas.

USA to approve V-22 sale to Israel

The USA is about to approve the sale of Bell Boeing V-22 tiltrotor transport aircraft and Boeing KC-135 tankers to Israel, according to industry sources, who indicate that the proposed deals are part of a larger package of agreements which also concern the planned sale of advanced weapon systems to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The wide-ranging deals are designed “not just to boost Israel’s capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat,” says one US source. New equipment will “also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies,” the official adds.

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel will visit Israel and Middle East region next week, when sources suggest the deals are due to be finalised.

 

 

Israeli air force magazine

The Israeli air force has evaluated the V-22 through numerous test flights performed in the USA, with the service having recommended purchasing an undisclosed number of the type for use during special operations.

Also expected to be contained within a deal are KC-135 tankers, which sources expect to replace the converted Boeing 707s currently used by the Israeli air force for inflight refuelling.

Iran able to destroy Israel ‘alone’: commander

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Iran’s army “alone” is able to destroy Israel, army commander General Ataollah Salehi said on Thursday, responding to boasts by the Jewish state that its military that could attack its archfoe on its own.

“Our message to this illegitimate regime (Israel) is the same, we do not need to utilise all of Iran’s military forces,” Salehi said on the sidelines of the Islamic republic’s annual Army Day. “The army … alone is able to destroy Israel.”

His comments come after Israeli chief of staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz on Tuesday said the Jewish state’s military was capable of attacking Iran on its own without foreign support.

Asked in an interview on public radio if the military could wage attacks on Iran “alone” — without the support of countries such as the United States — Gantz replied: “Yes, absolutely.”

Israel believes the Islamic republic, which has issued many bellicose statements about the Jewish state, is working to achieve a military nuclear capability and has not ruled out a military strike to prevent this happening.

Iran denies it is developing an atomic bomb and says it needs its nuclear programme of uranium enrichment for peaceful medical and energy purposes.

Israel is widely believed to be the Middle East’s sole nuclear-armed state, albeit undeclared.

Since the 1979 Islamic revolution Iran has had two military forces — the regular army and the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls the ballistic missile programme is believed by Western military experts to be the more powerful and the better equipped of the two.

During Thursday’s military parade, Tehran displayed what it said were three newly-developed unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.

“The Sarir (throne) drone is a stealth, with a long range flight capability and is equipped with a cameras and air-to-air missiles,” air defence commander Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili said as the aircraft went on display along with two other new drones, the Hazem-3 (firm) and Mohajer-B (immigrant).

Iran says it is developing drones to be used for surveillance as well as for attacks.

The Islamic republic regularly boasts of advances in the military and scientific fields, but western military experts often cast doubt on its claims.

Lockheed extends range of unmanned K-Max

By:   Dave Majumdar Washington DC
10:21 5 Apr 2013

Source:

Lockheed Martin is extending the range of its optionally unmanned cargo-hauling version of the Kaman K-1200 K-Max helicopter by adding an auxiliary fuel tank.

“We have recently deployed auxiliary fuel tanks and put them into the aircraft,” says Jon McMillen, Lockheed’s K-Max business development manager. The auxiliary fuel tanks are mounted internally, he adds.

The extended range K-Max is flying in support of US special operations forces assigned to the US Central Command’s area of responsibility in the Middle East, McMillen says. “The deployed team is very happy with it,” he adds.

McMillen could not say by how much the helicopter’s range had been extended, but even an additional 10nm (19km) to 20nm (37km) could be significant for the K-Max’s mission set.