Posts Tagged ‘ISIS’

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held more than two hours of frank conversation Wednesday in the Kremlin amid tensions over a U.S. airstrike against a Syria air base blamed for last week’s deadly chemical attack. The unscheduled talks between Putin and the secretary came as Moscow warned against the U.S. repeating its missile strike on a Syrian air base.

Putin   Tillerson

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at left … Russian President Vladimir Putin right

In an interview broadcast Wednesday before the meeting with Tillerson, Putin said relations with the U.S. have worsened in the first few months of Trump’s presidency.

“It can be said that the level of trust at the working level, especially at the military level, has not become better but most likely has degraded,” he told state broadcaster Mir TV.

Putin also charged that the U.S. broke international law by striking the air base without providing evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met

The meeting lasted for almost two hours to see if they could rescue relations between the world’s mightiest military powers. Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election also hovered over the first face-to-face encounter between Putin and a Trump administration Cabinet member.

It was not the first meeting between the two men. Tillerson, as CEO of ExxonMobil, forged a close relationship with the Russian leader over business dealings in the past. In 2013, Putin personally awarded Tillerson the Russian Order of Friendship when the two met to negotiate ExxonMobil’s $50 billion deal for Russian oil and gas rights.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov  and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met and spoke to the press after the Putin-Tillerson meeting

Tillerson and Lavrov spoke to the press after meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in an extended display of US-Russian disagreements over the chemical attack that left more than 80 dead; the role of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country’s future; US actions in the Middle East; and Russian involvement in the US election.

Still, the two diplomats hinted that they could find common ground on this issue. Tillerson said that the US wouldn’t dictate how Assad’s departure takes place, saying, "We leave that to the process going forward," and added that it’s important his departure "is done in an orderly way" and that it will "take a pace of its own."

Lavrov, meanwhile, said that Russia is "not staking everything on a personality … we are simply insisting that everybody sits around the table and talks about it."

Lavrov also announced that Putin has agreed to reinstate a military "deconfliction" channel to ensure there are no unintended clashes in the skies above Syria. And Tillerson said that the two sides had agreed to establish a working group that would address smaller frictions and aim to make progress on larger differences.

The news conference came after Lavrov issued a warning to Tillerson Wednesday against any further US strikes on the Syrian regime. Russia is Syria’s most powerful ally.

Russia has rejected the US conclusion that Damascus was responsible for last week’s chemical attack, which killed 89 people and prompted the US to carry out its first strike against the Syrian regime in the six-year conflict, taking out aircraft and infrastructure at a Syrian military air base.

"The facts we have are conclusive" that the attack was planned and carried by Syrian government forces, Tillerson said, adding that the US was "quite confident of that" and describing it as "just the latest in a series of uses of chemical weapons by the Assad regime."

Lavrov countered, "It is perfectly obvious the subject is one we diverge on." He floated an alternate theory that "some of these stockpiles are being controlled by extremists," and added, "Russia is insisting on an objective investigation" and will protest if it does not take place.

Tillerson said he told the Russian leader that current relations between the two countries are at a "low point" … "There is a low level of trust between our two countries" … "The world’s two foremost nuclear owners cannot have this kind of relationship."

Lavrov said that the U.S. and Russia have agreed on the need for a United Nations probe of the Syrian chemical attack … an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding the chemical attack and the U.S. response to "try and identify the culprits" … a step that could dial down the rhetoric between the two nations for now.

The two sides expressed their agreement over the need to defeat the Islamic State in the region. Lavrov said defeating the terrorist group is a more important priority than Assad remaining in power. Lavrov also that Putin could restore a military hotline with the U.S. if Washington focuses on fighting the Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Both officials addressed the question of allegations of Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Tillerson said there was no talk of additional sanctions in the wake of U.S. charges over the issue, but noted that it was an issue raised by Congress. "We are mindful of the seriousness of that particular interference in our elections and I am sure that Russia is mindful of it as well." Lavrov, echoing past denials of any Russian hacking or other interference in the electoral process, said Moscow hasn’t seen “a single fact, or even a hint at facts” proving the U.S. allegations of Russian interference.

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The U.S. military dropped one of its most powerful non-nuclear bombs — a massive 21,000-pound conventional bomb nicknamed the "Mother of All Bombs" — on an ISIS tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan, the first time it has been used in combat.

The GBU-43B, a MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Blast) weapon, was dropped from a U.S. Air Force C-130 cargo plane due to its massive size, where U.S.-backed Afghan forces are battling the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

MOAB Bomb 1MOAB Bomb 8

A GBU-43B weighs a massive 21,000 pounds and costs $16 million each. The bomb, dropped from a C-130 cargo plane, explodes in the air, creating air pressure that can collapse tunnels and buildings.
It will not only destroy a tunnel complex … its blast, which can be heard and felt for miles, also projects a psychological impact because of the awesome sensation of massive destructive power that it casts.
By comparison, each Tomahawk cruise missile launched at a Syrian military air base last week weighed 1,000 pounds each. Each MOAB is like 21 cruise missiles hitting the same point all at once.

MOAB Bomb

The decision to drop the bomb was made because it was the best fit for the target: tunnel complexes in a rural area far enough from innocent civilians, and lethal enough to kill ISIS fighters.
The White House was told about the bomb’s use but that the use of the bomb did not require the president’s approval. The military had the authority to use the bomb under President Barack Obama as well as President Trump.

Fighting between ISIS and Afghan forces in the region has intensified recently. A U.S. Special Forces Green Beret soldier advising the Afghans was killed in the area Saturday, the first U.S. combat death this year.
The Islamic State has emerged over the past year as a threat in Afghanistan, though the organization is not nearly as large as the Taliban, which ruled the country until the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

The U.S. estimates that between 600 to 800 ISIS fighters are present in Afghanistan, mostly in Nangarhar. The U.S. has concentrated heavily on combatting them while also supporting Afghan forces battling the Taliban.

President Trump launched 59 Tomahawk E Cruise Missiles on Syria causing severe damage to Shayrat air base in Syria, southeast of Homs. Russia also uses this base and has invested heavily in it. U.S. intelligence believes that a deadly gas attack on Syrian civilians was carried out by government aircraft from the Shayrat air base.

Cruise Missiles

Two U.S. destroyers, the USS Ross and USS Porter, launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles south of Cyprus in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and hit their targets at at 3:45 a.m. local time in Syria. Each destroyer carries about 35 Tomahawks. U.S. officials said there were up to 100 Russian military personnel present at the base when the missiles hit. The Russians were warned about an hour before the missiles hit the base, defense officials said.

The Tomahawk “E” or Echo version is the latest model and has two-way satellite communication allowing the missile to be reprogrammed in flight if needed. The missiles can carry 1,000-pound warheads.

The U.S. launched the cruise missiles in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians, the first direct assault on Syria since the beginning of that country’s bloody civil war in 2011.

The U.S. began launching airstrikes in Syria in September 2014 under President Barack Obama as part of its coalition campaign against ISIS, but has only targeted the terrorist group and not Syrian government forces … until today under President Trump.

Russia’s Response: Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the US airstrikes on Syria, describing it as "an act of aggression against a sovereign state" that "dealt a serious blow to Russia-US relations," according to a Kremlin statement. Russia said it believed Syria had destroyed all of its chemical weapons and the US strikes were based on a "trumped-up pretext." The risk of a direct collision between the US and Russia in Syria had "significantly increased" since the US missile strike, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Peskov added that it was "indisputable" that the US airstrike on Syria "was carried out for the benefit of ISIS and other terrorist organizations."

A Russian warship, likely loaded with the newest Russian Cruise Missiles, has entered the eastern Mediterranean. Its destination and target is unclear. 

Captain Rick: I wonder if this is the beginning of World War 3?  I think President Trump made a poor choice, buckling in to FAKE NEWS and the US Intelligence Machine, all of which I think are very corrupt. In the process President Trump is blowing a big chance to gain a friendship with a very intelligent person … President Vladimir Putin of Russia … a person I consider to be one of the most intelligent leaders of our world. As a huge supporter of President Trump, I am saddened by his actions, which cast him into the same war monger group that contains both U.S. Presidents Bush.  I hope that President Trump will recapture his own mind, like he presented during campaign season and stop bowing into FAKE NEWS and question the info he is receiving from the very corrupt U.S. Intelligence Machine.  

ANJ Breaking News … At least 70 people, including many children, died Tuesday after suffering symptoms of chemical poisoning, including foaming at the mouth and suffocation.

Russia’s defense ministry is blaming a Syrian airstrike on a "terrorist" ammunition depot for the deaths of dozens of people in what has been described as a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria’s Idlib province.
According to a statement posted Wednesday on the Russian ministry’s Facebook page, the strike hit "workshops, which produced chemical warfare munitions" in the eastern outskirts of the Khan Sheikhun town.

President Aashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s military denied using chemical weapons and blamed rebels for the carnage.

President Donald Trump, speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, said the suspected chemical attack against Syrian civilians "crossed a lot of lines for me" and changed the way he views Syria and its leader Bashar al-Assad.
He blamed the attack in part on what he described as "a great opportunity missed" on the part of former President Obama.

Captain Rick: I urge all, including President Trump, to exercise caution on drawing judgment. FAKE NEWS is blaming Russia. That is a travesty. FAKE NEWS is also blaming Assad and seems to want Assad out of power.
I caution that thought might cause another ‘rush to judgment’ similar to Saddam Hussein being removed from power in Iraq, which proved to be a monumental mistake … one of the biggest of modern history. It left a quagmire from which ISIS grew from within. 

Captain Rick of Atridim News Journal: Russian President Vladimir Putin is one of the world’s most intelligent leaders, while President Obama ‘speaks down’ of him, as do many U.S. presidential contenders and much of the western world news media.

I am encouraged by an apparent bonding between Putin and Trump. It reminds me of the bond between President Ronald Reagan and Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union that helped tear down the Berlin Wall in 1989. I believe we are witnessing the beginning of a bonding of two great minds for the betterment of America and the world.

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Donald Trump has said that he would "get along very well" with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The feeling is apparently mutual. Putin offered high praise for the billionaire businessman-turned-Republican presidential front-runner on Thursday during an annual news conference with reporters. "He is a bright and talented person without any doubt," Putin said, adding that Trump is "an outstanding and talented personality." And in remarks closely mirroring Trump’s assessment of the campaign, Putin called Trump "the absolute leader of the presidential race." Later Thursday, Trump returned the warm words "It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond. I have always felt that Russia and the United States should be able to work well with each other towards defeating terrorism and restoring world peace, not to mention trade and all of the other benefits derived from mutual respect."

While most Republican presidential contenders have demonized the Russian president — including calling him a "gangster" and a "thug" — and pushed plans to isolate Russia on the world stage, Trump has instead touted his ability to improve Washington-Moscow relations by working with the iron-fisted Russian leader.

Trump said in October that he and Putin "are very different"; but suggested that the two men could move beyond the frigid relations that have come to define U.S.-Russia relations under President Barack Obama. "I think that I would at the same time get along very well with him. He does not like Obama at all. He doesn’t respect Obama at all. And I’m sure that Obama doesn’t like him very much," Trump said then. "But I think that I would probably get along with him very well. And I don’t think you’d be having the kind of problems that you’re having right now."

Putin referenced Trump’s reported desire "to reach another, deeper level of relations" with Russia in his remarks Thursday. "What else can we do but to welcome it? Certainly, we welcome it," Putin said.

While fellow Republican contenders have been highly skeptical of stepped up Russian military involvement in Syria, Trump has welcomed it. Trump suggested in his September "60 Minutes" appearance that the U.S. should avoid deepening its involvement in Syria, instead allowing Russia to take a leading role in combating the radical Islamist group that has called for attacks on the U.S. "Russia wants to get rid of ISIS. We want to get rid of ISIS. Maybe let Russia do it. Let them get rid of ISIS" Trump said.

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