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RCMP charge Ontario man over ‘hoax,’ say claims he fought for ISIL in Syria duped media


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RCMP has announced charges against a Burlington, Ontario man, saying he claimed to have gone to Syria to fight with ISIL in 2016, but was instead involved in an elaborate hoax.

On Friday, RCMP O Division’s Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (OINSET) announced the arrest of Shehroze Chaudhry, 25, “in connection with a hoax regarding terrorist activity.”

OINSET investigates people who have left Canada to join terror groups, or who later come back to Canada after being involved in terrorism overseas.

According to a release, Chaudhry did “numerous” media interviews with outlets, in which he claimed he went to Syria to fight for ISIL, and committed terrorist acts. Now, RCMP says it was all a hoax, and says Chaudhry was arrested for causing alarm in this country.

“The interviews were published in multiple media outlets, aired on podcasts and featured on a television documentary, raising public safety concerns amongst Canadians,” RCMP said.



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What Happened to Russia’s New T-14 Tank in Syria?


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Here’s What You Need To Remember: If the T-14 Armata was indeed taken out by insurgents – whether they simply “got lucky” or not – might not bode well for the advanced tank, especially given its costs.

Last month multiple media reports suggested that the Russian military’s new T-14 Armata tank had been “battle-tested” in Syria. Russia Beyond cited Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov, who had reportedly said in a mid-April TV interview on Rossiya-1, “Yes, that’s correct. They (Armata tanks) were in Syria. The testing in combat conditions in Syria took all finer aspects into account.”

Those “finer aspects” may have included the crews’ survivability if other media accounts are to be believed that an Armata tank was destroyed during the operations.

According to the Russian media outlet Репортёр (Reporter), the Russian-made tanks took part in fighting with Syrian-rebels, described as “terrorists,” in the providence of Latakia, where “allegedly three T-14s were hit from TOW-2B anti-tank system, and one Armata was completely destroyed.”

There has been no actual footage or photos of the allegedly destroyed T-14 tanks, and as other media outlets have noted, “The jihadists and their allied militants release footage of their forces destroying tanks, especially on the battlefield… If the Armata was indeed destroyed, there would have been photos and videos of its destruction, especially because of its unique look and operation capabilities.”

What could be telling about the alleged destruction is that some military analysts didn’t think the tank could even be adequately tested in Syria. Dimtry Litovkin, editor-in-chief of Independent Military Review told Russia Beyond, “There’s nothing for the Armata to do in Syria. The machine was tailored for battles with the most modern US and European tanks: the Abrams and the Leopard. But in Syria, who or what will it fight? Militants on pickup trucks or machine-gunners in foxholes?”

If the T-14 Armata was indeed taken out by insurgents – whether they simply “got lucky” or not – might not bode well for the advanced tank, especially given its costs, which are believed to have delayed delivery. Even as testing of the next-generation main battle tank (MBT) continues, the mass deliveries to the Russian Army will only begin next year.

“The high cost is also because the T-14 is going through a series of additional tests and upgrades ordered by the Ministry of Defense so that serial production can start next year under the signed contract,” Manturov added.

The T-14 has been seen as an entirely new design for Russia, and it was first demonstrated during the May 2015 Victory Parade in Moscow. Unlike other Russian designs that had primarily followed an evolutionary path that was largely built upon preceding tank models, the T-14 began with a more simplistic design that could be traced back to the T-34. While much larger than traditional Russian tank designs, its three-man crew all sit in the hull as the turret is controlled remotely to increase crew survivability. As a result the T-90 has no gunner and instead uses an autoloader.

The tank is also fitted with the Afganit active protection system that is meant to detect incoming rockets and missiles, which can be shot down before hitting the tank. However, the reports from Syria may suggest that if an enemy can get close enough this tank is as vulnerable as any.

In addition to the alleged loss of a T-14 tank in Syria, three “additional” Armata tanks – along with three more T-15s, the armored troop carrier version of the Armata – were “destroyed” in a simulation conducted by the Invictus attack helicopters in a recent exercise-styled presentation.

The timing of the release of that new video along with the news that the actual tanks potentially came under fire just means the T-14 isn’t have a good week! The fact the Moscow has postponed this week’s planned 75th anniversary Victory Parade due to coronavirus – where the tanks likely would have been seen – hasn’t helped matters.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.

This article first appeared eariler this year and is being republished due to reader interest.

Image: Wikimedia

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U.S. forces again blocked Russian military patrols in northeast Syria – Defence Blog


U.S. forces again blocked Russian military patrols from entering the Kurdish-controlled areas in the vicinity of the town of Tel-Tamr, in the northern countryside of Al-Hasakah.

According to press reports, American military personnel again have allegedly blocked Russian military convoys trying to gain access to key oil fields in Al-Hasakah province, and the Russian forces then apparently turned back and returned to their home base.

Several armored vehicles carrying American soldiers stopped Russian military vehicles west of Al-Hasakah province while they were trying to reach the M4 highway to reach key oil fields in the province.

The tensions between U.S. and Russian military forces in northeastern Syria have been escalating as both sides try to gain control over key oil fields in the region.

According to Al-Masdar, the U.S. and Russian forces have repeatedly blocked one another from using the roads under their control in northeastern Syria, creating a cold-war-like situation in the Al-Hasakah Governorate.

Although U.S. President Donald Trump declared a decisive victory over the Daesh terror group and launched American soldiers’ withdrawal process in December 2018 – saying defeating Daesh was the sole reason for American presence in the country – the Trump administration adjusted that mission last year by assigning several hundred U.S. troops to remain to guard oil fields from the terror group, which used Syrian fuel as a key income source during its rise.

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US Army Reserve soldier serving in Syria dies from injuries sustained in rollover accident


Spc. Antonio I. Moore, 22, was on his first deployment when he died.

A 22-year-old U.S. Army Reserve soldier serving in Syria has died from injuries he sustained in a vehicle rollover accident.

Spc. Antonio Moore was conducting route clearance operations as part of Operation Inherent Resolve in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria when he died Friday, according to the Army. It was his first deployment.

Moore, who is from Wilmington, North Carolina, enlisted in the Army in 2017 as a combat engineer, officials said. He was assigned to the 346th Engineer Company, 363d Engineer Battalion, 411th Engineer Brigade, in Knightdale, North Carolina.

About 750 troops are in eastern Syria, The Associated Press reported, citing military officials.

“The 363rd Engineer Battalion is deeply saddened at the loss of Spec. Antonio Moore,” Lt. Col. Ian Doiron, 363rd Engineer Battalion commander, said in a statement Saturday. “Antonio was one of the best in our formation. He will be missed by all who served with him. We will now focus on supporting his family and honoring his legacy and sacrifice.”

Moore’s awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon. He is survived by his mother, stepfather, three brothers and a sister.

The accident is under investigation.



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Syria says possible drone attacks hit 3 oil, gas facilities


BEIRUT (AP) — Near-simultaneous attacks believed to have been carried out by drones hit three government-run oil and gas installations in central Syria, state TV and the Oil Ministry said Saturday.

No one claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted the Homs oil refinery — one of only two in the country — as well as two natural gas facilities in different parts of Homs province.

Syria has suffered fuel shortages since earlier this year amid Western sanctions blocking imports, and because most of the country’s oil fields are controlled by Kurdish-led fighters in the country’s east.

State TV said it believes the attacks were carried out by drones and happened at the same time. It said a fire at the Homs oil refinery was soon put under control. The report said the Rayan gas facility and a third installation, also in Homs province, were hit.

Syria’s Oil Ministry said the attacks damaged some “production units” in the facilities. It said fires were being fought, and that repairs were already underway in some places.

The city of Homs and its suburbs have been fully under Syrian government control since 2017. However, some parts of the province near the border with Jordan remain in rebel hands.

In June, sabotage attacks damaged five underwater pipelines off the Mediterranean coastal town of Banias in Tartous province.

Syria’s oil imports dropped in October 2018 and shortages began in early 2019, largely the result of tighter Western sanctions on Syria and renewed U.S. sanctions on key Syrian ally Iran.

Before the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, the country exported around half of the 350,000 barrels of oil it produced per day. Now its production is down to around 24,000 barrels a day, covering only a fraction of domestic needs.

In September, a drone and missile attack in Saudi Arabia hit the world’s largest crude oil processing plant, dramatically cutting into global oil supplies. Saudi Arabia says “Iranian weaponry” was used. Iran denies its weapons were involved.



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Syria: WTF Do We Do Now?


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Leaders of UK, France, Germany, Turkey discuss Syria



Ahead of the two-day NATO summit in London, four countries discussed their efforts to end the conflict in Syria.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met at the prime ministerial residence in London.

According to a statement from the British Prime Minister’s office, the leaders agreed that attacks against Syrian civilians, including in the rebel-held area of Idlib, must end.

The leaders vowed to work for creating conditions for safe return of refugees, and agreed the fight against terrorism in all its forms must continue. They also discussed Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring targeting the terrorist YPG/PKK in northern Syria. Merkel described the meeting as “good and useful”.

Erdogan also described the meeting as good, and added that developments regarding the operation “will be evaluated”.

In October, Turkey launched Peace Spring to eliminate YPG/PKK terrorists from northern Syria, in order to secure Turkey’s borders and aid in the safe return of Syrian refugees. Later, the operation was paused to allow the withdrawal of the terrorists from the planned Syria safe zone, but they, instead, continued attacking soldiers and civilians.



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