The importance of this news can hardly be overestimated:
“An annual report delivered recently to the US Senate by James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, removed Iran and Hezbollah from its list of terrorism threats…”
Maybe the US should start considering Israel a “terror threat”:
<<“The spokesman…said in a phone interview from Daraa that Al-Nusra’s higher salaries and high-quality weapons have spurred many local FSA soldiers to break ranks and join the Islamist group. He estimated that 80 percent of Al-Nusra’s fighting force in Daraa is currently comprised of Syrians, and the other 20 percent of foreign fighters.
“Daraa is partially controlled by Al-Nusra Front and affiliated groups, but it could fall entirely to their hands,” he said.>>
“The real competitor for the local administrations is considered to be with the Syrian regime. The regime continues to spend nearly $3 billion a year on employees’ salaries, something that the local administrations and the development budgets cannot do. The regime pays the salaries of employees in all areas, without exception, even in areas outside its control. This means that many employees and their families are still subordinated, in one way or another, to the central government.”
A number of US drone strikes within few days have killed “dozens of suspected militants” of Al Qaeda in Yemen. This is considered as success in the US and is reported as good news in western press:
This is because in Yemen (just as in Afghanistan or Pakistan) Al Qaeda fighters or those with almost identical attitude and methods are considered terrorists. Not however in Syria, where their existence and relevance is either denied or belittled. Thus, it is tolerated by the US, UK, France, Turkey and implicitly also by Israel that the Syrian Nusra Front is non other than the local branch of Al Qaeda and that most supposedly “moderate” rebel groups closely and regularly cooperate with the Nusra.
“In fact, the only rebel factions still strong enough to resist and fight the regime on the latest fronts are the radical Islamists. The town of Azizeh, just outside the Marjeh area in the east, the strategically vital Sheikh Najjar industrial zone, the old city and Aleppo’s central prison are all defended by al-Qaeda’s affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as Salafist militants Ahrar al-Sham, a member of the Islamic Front.”
“A source in the Syrian army told Al-Akhbar that “the army is ready for any surprise attack,” pointing out that “opposition fighters are amassing in Daraa and if they attack it will be from there.””
“In conjunction with the attack on the Kimyaa Battalion, fighters from al-Nusra Front attacked the city of Busra al-Sham in the southwest of the Suwaida governorate. However, the army, along with the Popular Committees in the city, were able to repulse the attack which led to injuries among government forces defending the city and many casualties among opposition fighters.
For its part, the Syrian army led a surprise offensive yesterday morning using tanks and air strikes against the villages of al-Hajjeh, al-Dawayeh al-Kubra, al-Sughra, Bir Ajam and al-Buraika in the central and south sectors of al-Quneitra in order to exhaust opposition fighters and diminish their strength, as Al-Akhbar learned.”
“The claim that 40-50,000 rebels surround the capital is probably untrue but there are up to 80,000 security men and soldiers inside Damascus and, on this battlefront, they may well be winning.”
“If the government wanted to use gas, why not employ it north of Aleppo where not a single government soldier or official exists? Why in Damascus? And why wasn’t gas used on this scale in the previous two years? And why employ such a dreadful weapon when the end result is that Syria – by giving up its stocks of chemical weapons – has effectively lost one of its strategic defences against an Israeli invasion?”