War

Government forces in the southern Philippines have launched an offensive against Muslim rebels as fighting escalates in this part of Asia’s largest Catholic country.

In the city of Zamboanga commandos exchanged fire with a breakaway faction of the Moro National Liberation Front who are holding dozens of hostages.

Some 13,000 people have been forced to leave their homes.

A short boat ride from Zamboanga, an unidentified group reportedly launched a separate attack on a town on the island of Basilan.

The government pledged to defend Lamitan City, a Catholic enclave in the poor and mainly Muslim region of the southern Philippines.

Inside the battle for Syria's ancient Christian village

Inside the battle for Syria’s ancient Christian village

Anti-Assad rebels have been forced out of many parts of Syria’s ancient Christian village of Maaloula, but the fighting there remains heavy, RT correspondent Maria Finoshina reports from the scene. After arriving in the center of the village Wednesday, Maria Finoshina and the RT camera crew saw signs of a recent battle and heard shelling, but received a warm welcome… Read more →

(CNN) – Throughout much of the 1990s, U.N. weapons inspectors criss-crossed Iraq in search of Saddam Hussein’s stocks of chemical weapons. It was a game of cat and mouse, as inspectors tried to reconcile what the Iraqi regime was telling them with conflicting intelligence from western governments.

In total, the inspectors of the U.N. Special Commission supervised the destruction of more than 40,000 chemical munitions, some 500,000 liters of chemical agents, 1.8 million liters of chemical precursors and delivery systems including ballistic missile warheads.

That experience may provide a glimpse of the obstacles to securing and removing or destroying Syria’s massive stocks of the precursors that make chemical weapons. According to a new study by the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism in Israel, “Syria has accumulated since the 1980s a stockpile of approximately 1,000 tons of chemical weapons, stored in some 50 different sites.”

 

CNN has the full article

Missile cruiser "Moskva" (RIA Novosti/Vitaliy Ankov)

Russia’s Moskva missile cruiser, dubbed a “carrier-killer” by NATO, has passed through the Straits of Gibraltar and is now heading toward the eastern Mediterranean to assume command of the Russian naval force there.

The Russian Navy said in a statement that the Moskva cruiser passed through the Straits of Gibraltar on September 10.

Interfax news agency added that the Moskva cruiser, “commanded by Sergey Tronev, Captain 1st Rank of the Guards… has enough room for maneuver now.”

“The Black Sea flagship entered the Russian Navy’s area of responsibility in the Mediterranean at 11:00 pm Moscow time yesterday,” the agency reported a military source as saying.

The missile-carrying cruiser is expected to join its final destination in eastern Mediterranean on September 15 or 16.

Upon arrival, the command of the Russian Navy unit in the Mediterranean, currently stationed onboard the Admiral Panteleyev anti-submarine ship, will be relocated to the Moskva.

“The armaments and technical equipment of the missile cruiser are in working condition. The crew is ready to perform combat missions,” the source said.

Missile cruiser "Moskva" belonging to Russia's Black Sea Fleet firing anti-aircraft missiles during joint drills with other fleets. (RIA Novosti/Vitaliy Ankov)

The missile cruiser, initially known to Western naval intelligence as “Slava” (Glory), was launched in 1979 and entered service in 1983. It was later renamed the “Moskva” in 1995. Designed to be carrier-killers, the cruisers of Class 1164 are equipped with 16 anti-ship launchers P-1000 Vulkan, or Volcano (SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship missiles, according to NATO classification).

‘Moskva’ weaponry

-16x SS-N-12 Sandbox anti-ship missiles
- 8×8 (64) S-300PMU Favorit (SA-N-6 Grumble) long-range surface-to-air missiles
-2×20 (40) OSA-MA (SA-N-4 Gecko) SR SAM
-1x twin AK-130 130mm/L70 dual-purpose guns
-6xAK-630 close-in weapons systems
-2x RBU-6000 anti-submarine mortars
-10x (2 quin) 533mm torpedo tubes
Armor: Splinter plating
Aircraft carried: 1 Ka-25 or Ka-27 helicopter

Another two vessels, the landing ship Nikolay Filchenkov and the guard ship Smetlivy, will join the Russian naval unit later. They will be pass through the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits by September 12-14 and will then head to the eastern Mediterranean.

Russia’s Defense Ministry has said the maneuvers are part of the“stage-by-stage rotation of warships and support ships of the standing naval force in the Mediterranean.”

The recent deployments are aimed at “complex monitoring” of the situation around Syria, military sources told Interfax earlier.

Russia’s standing naval force in the Mediterranean now involves landing craft carriers “Aleksandr Shabalin,” “Admiral Nevelskoy,” “Peresvet,” “Novocherkassk” and “Minsk” of Russia’s Black and Baltic Sea Fleets, as well as escort vessel “Neustrashimy,” and the anti-submarine ship “Admiral Panteleyev.”

"Admiral Panteleyev" anti-submarine ship returning to Vladivostok from Japanese port Hakodate (Hokkaido island). (RIA Novosti/Vitaliy Ankov)

Russian naval maneuvers in the Mediterranean come amid growing tension in the region, which sparked speculation that Russia was boosting its naval presence ahead of a possible US strike against Syria.

Previously, Russia’s defense officials cautioned against making connections between the relocation of warships and the Syrian crisis, saying the maneuvers do not depend on the situation and “will continue after it.”

Landing craft carrier "Admiral Nevelskoy". (RIA Novosti/Ildus Gilyazutdinov)

 

This is a copy of the full article provided by RT

(Photos: (RIA Novosti/Vitaliy Ankov) (Last Image: Ildus Gilyazutdinov))

Liberman warns that Israel will topple Assad if he attacks

Liberman warns that Israel will topple Assad if he attacks

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman says Assad’s threats can not go without response. Israel will ensure that Syrian leader Bashar Assad will not remain in power if he attacks Israel, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avigdor Liberman (Likud Beytenu) said Monday. The statement was the clearest warning to Assad delivered by a top Israeli figure since… Read more →

 Report: CIA believes Israel acquired chemical weapons decades ago

Report: CIA believes Israel acquired chemical weapons decades ago

Israel is believed to have secretly developed a range of chemical weapons in the 1960s and 70s as further defense against an attack by the surrounding enemy states, according to a report in Foreign Policy, which quotes a “secret 1983 CIA intelligence estimate.” The CIA document, Foreign Policy says, states that US satellites in 1982 found “a probable CW [chemical weapon] nerve… Read more →

RT sources: Syrian rebels plan chem attack on Israel from Assad-controlled territories

A chemical attack may be launched on Israel by Syrian rebels from government-controlled territories as a “major provocation,” multiple sources told RT.

The report comes as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrovproposed that Syria puts its chemical weapons arsenal under international control for subsequent destruction in order to prevent a possible military strike against the war-torn country.

Moscow also urged Syrian authorities to join the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The offer has already been passed over to Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem, who met Lavrov in Moscow for talks on Monday.

We don’t know if Syria will accept the offer, but if imposing international control over chemical weapons stored in the country can help to avoid military strikes, we are immediately going to start working with Damascus,” Lavrov said.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry has welcomed Moscow’s initiative, “based on the Syrian’s government care about the lives of our people and security of our country,” Muallem said later on Monday.

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice made a statement saying that Damascus’ alleged “use of chemical weapons against its own people” posed a threat to US national security. “The use of chemical weapons also directly threatens our closest ally in the region, Israel,” she said, speaking at the New America Foundation in Washington.

 

RT has the full article

 

This image comes from a presentation called "Your target isusing a BlackBerry?...

The US intelligence agency NSA has been taking advantage of the smartphone boom. It has developed the ability to hack into iPhones, android devices and even the BlackBerry, previously believed to be particularly secure.

Michael Hayden has an interesting story to tell about the iPhone. He and his wife were in an Apple store in Virginia, Hayden, the former head of the United States National Security Agency (NSA), said at a conference in Washington recently. A salesman approached and raved about the iPhone, saying that there were already “400,000 apps” for the device. Hayden, amused, turned to his wife and quietly asked: “This kid doesn’t know who I am, does he? Four-hundred-thousand apps means 400,000 possibilities for attacks.”

Hayden was apparently exaggerating only slightly. According to internal NSA documents from the Edward Snowden archive that SPIEGEL has been granted access to, the US intelligence service doesn’t just bug embassies and access data from undersea cables to gain information. The NSA is also extremely interested in that new form of communication which has experienced such breathtaking success in recent years: smartphones.

In Germany, more than 50 percent of all mobile phone users now possess a smartphone; in the UK, the share is two-thirds. About 130 million people in the US have such a device. The mini-computers have become personal communication centers, digital assistants and life coaches, and they often know more about their users than most users suspect.

For an agency like the NSA, the data storage units are a goldmine, combining in a single device almost all the information that would interest an intelligence agency: social contacts, details about the user’s behavior and location, interests (through search terms, for example), photos and sometimes credit card numbers and passwords.

No Access Necessary

All the images were apparently taken with smartphones. A photo taken in January 2012 is especially risqué: It shows a former senior government official of a foreign country who, according to the NSA, is relaxing on his couch in front of a TV set and taking pictures of himself — with his iPhone. To protect the person’s privacy, SPIEGEL has chosen not to reveal his name or any other details.

The access to such material varies, but much of it passes through an NSA department responsible for customized surveillance operations against high-interest targets. One of the US agents’ tools is the use of backup files established by smartphones. According to one NSA document, these files contain the kind of information that is of particular interest to analysts, such as lists of contacts, call logs and drafts of text messages. To sort out such data, the analysts don’t even require access to the iPhone itself, the document indicates. The department merely needs to infiltrate the target’s computer, with which the smartphone is synchronized, in advance. Under the heading “iPhone capability,” the NSA specialists list the kinds of data they can analyze in these cases. The document notes that there are small NSA programs, known as “scripts,” that can perform surveillance on 38 different features of the iPhone 3 and 4 operating systems. They include the mapping feature, voicemail and photos, as well as the Google Earth, Facebook and Yahoo Messenger applications.

The NSA analysts are especially enthusiastic about the geolocation data stored in smartphones and many of their apps, data that enables them to determine a user’s whereabouts at a given time.

According to one presentation, it was even possible to track a person’s whereabouts over extended periods of time, until Apple eliminated this “error” with version 4.3.3 of its mobile operating system and restricted the memory to seven days.

Still, the “location services” used by many iPhone apps, ranging from the camera to maps to Facebook, are useful to the NSA. In the US intelligence documents, the analysts note that the “convenience” for users ensures that most readily consent when applications ask them whether they can use their current location.

 

Spiegel.de has the full article

(Photo: This image comes from a presentation called “Your target isusing a BlackBerry? Now what?” It shows an email from a Mexican government agency which was sent using BlackBerry encryption technology — and intercepted by the NSA nonetheless.)

Assad threatens 'repercussions' if US launches strike on Syria

Assad threatens ‘repercussions’ if US launches strike on Syria

Syrian President Bashar Assad, during an interview that aired Monday morning, threatened “repercussions” from any American attack on Syria. The Syrian leader, speaking with CBS News, said the U.S. can expect “every action” if America strikes. He suggested retaliation could come from the opposition, as well as his own government and its allies. “You should expect everything,” Assad said. Asked to… Read more →

IAEA is looking into Russian warning on Syria nuclear site

IAEA is looking into Russian warning on Syria nuclear site

Moscow calls on UN nuclear watchdog to assess risk of hit to Syrian research reactor that contains radioactive uranium. VIENNA – The UN nuclear watchdog has received a request from Russia to assess the impact if a missile were to hit a small Syrian reactor and is considering the issue, the Vienna-based agency said on Friday. Russia said this week… Read more →