• Syrian opposition adopts new national flag

    Encore un coup de Bachar et/ou des Russes ! Les « rebelles » d’Idlib, en l’occurrence Hayat tahrir al-cham (ex al-Qaïda en Syrie) changent leur drapeau en délaissant les trois étoiles (inventées au temps du mandat français) pour la shahada. On progresse en #syrie...

  • Dans un mail d’août 2014 à John Podesta, Hillary Clinton considère que ce sont les gouvernements de l’Arabie séoudite et du Qatar qui fournissent un soutien financier et logistique clandestin à Daesh et aux autres groupes radicaux sunnites.

    On Aug 17, 2014 3:50 PM, “H” <> wrote:

    Note: Sources include Western intelligence, US intelligence and sources in the region.


    4. Armed with proper equipment, and working with U.S. advisors, the Peshmerga can attack the ISIL with a coordinated assault supported from the air. This effort will come as a surprise to the ISIL, whose leaders believe we will always stop with targeted bombing, and weaken them both in Iraq and inside of Syria. At the same time we should return to plans to provide the FSA, or some group of moderate forces, with equipment that will allow them to deal with a weakened ISIL, and stepped up operations against the Syrian regime. This entire effort should be done with a low profile, avoiding the massive traditional military operations that are at best temporary solutions. While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region. This effort will be enhanced by the stepped up commitment in the KRG. The Qataris and Saudis will be put in a position of balancing policy between their ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world and the consequences of serious U.S. pressure. By the same token, the threat of similar, realistic U.S. operations will serve to assist moderate forces in Libya, Lebanon, and even Jordan, where insurgents are increasingly fascinated by the ISIL success in Iraq.

    Important (1) : c’est un mail d’août 2014, c’est-à-dire que c’est très « tardif », le califat a été proclamé trois semaines plus tôt, et la prise de Mossoul a eu lieu plus de deux mois auparavant. Surtout, les raids aériens de la « coalition arabo-occidentale » contre l’EI en Irak ont débuté un peu plus d’une semaine auparavant. Concernant le soutien à Daesh, H. Clinton n’écrit pas au passé, mais au présent (« which are providing… ») et au futur (« will be put in a position… »).

    Important (2) : Hillary Clinton cette fois n’accuse pas des individus ni le laxisme de ces gouvernements, mais désigne les gouvernements directement.

    Note : voir aussi le flux de @kassem hier :

  • CIA-Armed ‘Moderates’ in Syria Included al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front

    A new report citing former #CIA officers has revealed that the agency was knowingly providing weapons, including tow missiles to fighters that were effectively part of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, continuing to arm “moderates” so long as they at least nominally kept their moderate names.


    ... as the war continued, the FSA fighters were defecting en masse to the Nusra Front. Even being directly affiliated with al-Qaeda’s affiliate didn’t stop the arms flow to these groups, either, so long as they retained their FSA name so the CIA could feign arming “moderates.”

    The report concludes that the FSA was quickly becoming a cover name for Nusra, a fact which apparently didn’t phase the CIA, which was just as eager to use this pretense, so long as they were arming a group that was fighting against the Syrian government.

    #Syrie #al-Qaeda #Etats-Unis

  • American commandos ’forced to run away’ from US-backed Syria rebels

    It was not clear if the confrontation in al-Rai was spontaneous or ordered by senior FSA figures or even their Turkish allies.

    The US troops are believed to have been operating alongside Turkish forces in northern Syria. Video footage shows the American trucks sharing a road with Turkish tanks.


  • Conflict among U.S. allies in northern Syria clouds war on Islamic State

    On June 12, one of the many FSA groups in the Aleppo area fired a guided TOW missile at a YPG position, the first attack of its kind, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and YPG said.

    The two sides have different priorities in the war, with the FSA rebels battling to oust President Bashar al-Assad, while the YPG is trying mainly to carve out its own areas of control in northern Syria.

    Each side also accuses the other of conspiring with its enemies in a struggle with an ethnic dimension pitting groups drawn from Syria’s Arab majority against one that emerged in 2011 with the stated aim of defending the Kurdish minority.

    “There is a deepening divide between us,” the politburo chief of the Jabha Shamiya, one of the biggest FSA rebel groups in the Aleppo area. “If there is no quick political solution between the revolutionaries and the Kurds, it is heading towards escalation.”

    YPG spokesman Redur Xelil said his group did not aim to spark a battle with FSA groups. But he added: “If they want a war, they will certainly lose.”


  • ISIS uniforms prepared in Turkish sweatshop full of Syrian refugees captured in photographs | Daily Mail Online

    ’Child slaves’ making uniforms for Isis: Inside the Turkish sweatshop where children as young as nine work 12 hours a day stitching combat gear used in battle by Islamic State

    Syrian refugee children forced to work in a military uniform sweatshop that sells camouflage to ISIS
    Unable to go to school and desperate for money on the Turkish border the boys work 12 hour days for £10
    Factory owner Abu Zakour has no problem selling uniforms to ISIS: ’It doesn’t matter where my customers are from’
    He also supplies Al Qaeda group Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and other rebel FSA fighters with military garb

    Le Daily Mail n’est pas un modèle de journalisme, mais l’auteure de l’article, Isabel Hunter, est une free lance bien connue (et plutôt connue en bien).

    #syrie #turquie

  • Le « Y » syrien : Damas-Alep, Homs-Lattaquié par Juan Cole.
    Un résumé à ma sauce : pour assurer sa viabilité, l’Etat syrien ne doit pas perdre le contrôle de la dorsale : Damas-Homs-Hama-Alep et de la côte. Sans quoi, les jeux sont faits. L’intervention russe a permis, en partie, à l’armée syrienne de reprendre le contrôle de ce Y.
    Top 5 Ways Putin has won big in Syria and why Europe is embracing him

    So what has the Russian air force accomplished?
    1. It allowed the reopening of the road from Hama to West Aleppo, ending the siege of that regime-held part of the city and pushing back the rebels from it.
    2. It retook most of Latakia Province, safeguarding the port. Yesterday came the news that the major northern al-Qaeda-held town of Rabia had fallen to the government forces, meaning that Latakia is nearly 100% in government control. These advances into northern Latakia involved hitting Turkmen proxies of Turkey, which is why Turkey shot down a Russian plane last fall. Likely the next step will be to take back cities in Idlib like Jisr al-Shughour, which fell last spring to an al-Qaeda-led coalition, and which could be used as a launching pad for the taking of Latakia port.
    3. It strengthened regime control of Hama and Homs, ensuring the supply routes south to Damascus.
    4. It hit the Army of Islam as well as al-Qaeda and Daesh around Damascus, forcing the latter two to withdraw from part of the capital and killing Zahran Alloush, leader of the Army of Islam.
    5. It hit al-Qaeda and FSA forces in Deraa Province and yesterday the key town of al-Sheikh Miskin fell to the Syrian Arab Army. This is a Deraa crossroads and its loss affects the rebels ability to maneuver in this province.

  • US Backing for ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels: Long Reported, Continually Forgotten

    This week, it appears, the media’s collective FSA/CIA amnesia has struck once again, with a series of reports that make no mention of the CIA’s ongoing operation of arming and training Syrian rebels that’s been thoroughly documented for over two years.

    These reports were previewed last month with a report on CNN (1/16/15) headlined “Pentagon: US to Begin to Train and Equip Moderate Syria Rebels.” This was just false: The US isn’t “beginning to train and equip moderate rebels.”


    The US hasn’t been “talking about” training “moderate” Syrian rebels for months–it’s been actually training them for years, as the Guardian and Der Spiegel revealed.

  • Kuwait arrest raises specter of Ukraine black market as source of arms for ISIS

    The arrest in Kuwait of a Lebanese man with ties to the Islamic State has raised the specter that Ukraine’s notorious illicit arms market may be a source of weapons for the the militant group.

    One senior Ukrainian official with access to intelligence agency reports told Mashable on Friday that it is “plausible” the man, arrested by Kuwaiti authorities on Thursday, had obtained FN-6 surface-to-air missile systems he admitted to getting from a broker in Ukraine. Calling news of the arrest “interesting,” the official stopped short of giving a definitive answer to a question about whether Kiev had direct information about the arms sale in question.

    Pour les purs et durs, ça ne peut venir, évidemment, que des zones tenues par les séparatistes…

    FN-6 shoulder-fired missile systems, manufactured by China, have never been sold to Ukraine, nor has the government given permission for their transit through its territory, the Ukrainian defense ministry said in a statement on Friday. And there have been no documented reports of the the FN-6 shoulder-fired missile systems appearing in Ukraine since the war began in April 2014.

    But that doesn’t mean the weapons couldn’t have been transported into the country another way, the senior official admitted, adding that Kiev has monitored the illicit trafficking of weapons to and from separatist-controlled territories since the start of the war, and that it "really struggles" to stem the “heavy” flow.
    But on both sides of the battle lines, weapons have a way of disappearing in Ukraine, where corruption remains rampant, an Ukrainian security official told Mashable in June.

    Weapons can disappear all the time,” possibly falling into the hands of extremist groups, said the official. “We have seen the black arms market flourish since the start of the war in Donbass,” the official said, using the colloquial term for eastern Ukraine.

    (photo illustrant un article de mars 2013, lorsque la FSA avait abattu un hélicoptère d’origine russe avec ce type de missile)

    • échantillon de démentis,…

      Claim of Ukrainian weapons sale to ISIS prompts denials, alarm


      Ukraine has not manufactured or carried out purchases of the FN-6 anti-aircraft missile systems mentioned in the statement, and also has not provided the transport for their shipment,” a statement on [Ukraine’s Defense Ministry’s] website said.

      « impossibilités » diverses

      Andriy Lysenko, a Ukrainian military spokesperson, said there would be “nothing surprising” about such Chinese-made systems winding up in the occupied territory of Donetsk, noting that separatists could easily transport weapons across the uncontrolled border with Russia.

      But it would be “practically impossible” to move such weapons across territories under control of the government, he said.

      Apart from the war-torn east, however, the city of Odesa also has a reputation for a smuggling hub.

      Nikolai Holmov, a writer and consultant based in Odesa, said corruption could have made it possible to have weapons smuggled out of the ports in Odesa, “but that does not mean it’s necessarily probable.

      et l’incontournable, c’est les Russes !

      Volodymyr Fesenko of the Penta political research center warned that the news about the weapons sold to ISIS could play into Russia’s hands.

      The likelihood that this news is nothing more than another Russian information attack on Ukraine is rather high. They already did this several times in 2002-2003, when the news that Ukraine sold ‘Kolchuga’ radar systems to Iraq appeared in the media. That was when (Leonid) Kuchma decided he needed closer ties with NATO,” Fesenko said.

      There is a chance that someone in Ukraine could have sold weapons to ISIS, he said, but Russia will exaggerate the news.

      Russia is fighting against terrorism together with the West. And now it can show the West, “Look at this little nasty Ukraine! You protect them, and you confront us because of them! And they sell weapons to ISIS!” said Fesenko.

  • How ISIS Picks Its Suicide Bombers

    “A week before I defected, I was sitting with the chief of Amn al-Kharji, Abu Abd Rahman al-Tunisi. They know the weak point of the FSA. Al-Tunisi told me: ‘We are going to train guys we know, recruiters, Syrians…Take them, train them, and send them back to where they came from. We’ll give them $200,000 to $300,000. And because they have money, the FSA will put them in top positions.’”

    “This is how ISIS took over Syria,” said Abu Khaled. “It has plants in the villages and areas run by the FSA, and its people are in the FSA.”

    In other words: Not all of America’s supposed allies in Syria are what they seem. Some of them, according to Abu Khaled, are being manipulated by people secretly working for ISIS instead.

    (Attention : c’est un témoignage difficilement vérifiable.)

    • Le transcript de l’interview sur le site de Landis :
      Extraits :

      SS: Assad has agreed to take part in early elections – can Syria in its current state hold the vote? Can there be a vote before Islamic State is beaten?

      JL: First, Syria is in such terrible physical state and so many people have been forced from their homes or left the country that it would be almost impossible to have fair elections. Secondly, and more importantly perhaps, it is hard for anyone to believe that the outcome would be different from the elections held in the past 45 years? All ended up with a 99% vote for the President. There’s such distrust between all sides. Nobody puts much faith in the idea of elections. Most people understand that lurking beneath the question of elections is another question: “Can the Assad regime stay or not?” Now that Russia has intervened on the side of Assad, it’s quite clear the Assad regime is staying and will stay. How the West is going to accommodate itself to this fact is not yet clear.

      SS: The Western-backed FSA commander Ahmad Sa’oud told AP: “What we care about is Assad leaving, not turning this from a war against the regime to a war against terrorism”. So, they don’t really care about the fight against Islamic State as well…

      JL: You’re right. Most actors in Syria have other priorities besides destroying the Islamic State. Almost all rebel groups insist on destroying Assad before the Islamic State. They refuse to be drawn into what they call a “sahwa.” They do not want to become “agents of America” and so forth. The vast majority want nothing to do with the fight against ISIS before they have defeated Assad. Many members of the Coalition that are fighting ISIS also have other priorities. That is a big problem for both for the Russians and for the U.S. Indeed, the US has other priorities as well. We saw in Palmyra, Deir ez-Zor and elsewhere, the US would not attack ISIS if it believed Assad and his military would benefit. It preferred to have ISIS take Palmyra than to be seen to be helping Assad.


      SS: Does the U.S. have enough influence over the opposition they’re backing to make them agree to a political process in Syria?

      JL: No. That’s the short answer.

      SS: So people who represent the opposition in peace talks, are they controlling forces on the ground?

      JL: No, they’re not. The strongest militias in Syria are the more extreme and more Salafist militias. The Islamists have a real ideology to sell; they are the militias who have national reach and representation in all provinces of Syria. The US backs the weakest militias in Syria. They are the non-ideological militias and are extremely local. For the most part, they are composed of clan and tribal leaders. They may hold sway over a village or two; they may command a thousand men, perhaps two thousand, but not more than that. The Islamic militants, such as Al-Qaeda, Ahrar ash-Sham, ISIS and the Islamic Army, have purchase over a broad segment of Syrian society that stretches from north to south. The US refuses to deal with Islamist militias. It insists on dealing only with the weaker ones, which operate with some independence, but in many cases have to defer to the tougher and stronger Islamist militias that hold sway in most parts of Syria.

  • Syria war: Russia ’is ready to assist FSA rebels’ - BBC News

    Russia says it is ready to help US-backed rebels in Syria in their battle against militant organisations like the Islamic State group.

    Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Russian air force could support the Free Syrian Army provided the US shares information about rebel positions.
    The FSA has so far been among the rebel groups targeted by Russian strikes which have drawn Western criticism.

  • Seeing through the darkness - Israel News, Ynetnews,7340,L-4701111,00.html

    Intéressant voyage dans la mentalité d’assiégés de nombres d’Israéliens. L’ennemi est partout et terrible (surtout quand il est chiite). Morcaux choisis.

    In contrast to Assad regime’s dream of capturing the Golan, the Iranian players – Soleimani and Khamenei – dream of destroying Israel through a long and daunting war of attrition, a campaign consisting of unrelenting terror attacks and missile fire that will physically and psychologically exhaust Israel’s citizens, causing them to flee to Europe or America.

    Alongside the Iranian threat we have that posed by radical Sunni Islam, which also aims to destroy Israel through a continuous campaign, but has postponed the campaign until they can claim victory over their Shi’ite rivals and secular Arab rulers.

    The IDF is preparing for exactly these scenarios.

    From the Israeli point of view, there are three types of people on the other side of the fence in the Golan: True enemy actors, potential enemy actors, and potential partners.

    The true enemy actors are those who prescribe to radical Shia Islam, which is led by Iran: The Syrian Army, Hezbollah, Palestinian groups, Syrian militias – including every armed minority loyal to Assad.

    (...) The potential enemy actors are all the organizations and groups devoted to militant Sunni Islam, Salafist jihadism, or partake in the global jihad movement. Some of them are already present in the Syrian Golan, including the Nusra Front, which is a Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate, and Shuhada Al Yarmouk, which acts on behalf of ISIS.

    (...) The third category – the potential partners – includes the uninvolved residents of the Syrian Golan, the secular rebels, the FSA, local militias, and members of the Druze, Christian and Circassian communities.


    #israël #golan

    • Projection (psychanalyse)

      La projection désigne un mécanisme de défense introduit par Freud dans le langage de la psychanalyse. Le terme est devenu très général en psychologie et en psychiatrie. Il désigne l’opération mentale (généralement inconsciente) par laquelle une personne place sur quelqu’un d’autre ses propres sentiments, dans le but de se sortir d’une situation émotionnelle vécue comme intolérable par elle. La personne n’a généralement pas conscience d’appliquer ce mécanisme, justement car elle n’accepte pas les sentiments, ou sensations, qu’elle « projette » sur l’autre. Il s’agit donc généralement de sentiments négatifs, ou en tout cas, perçus comme tels

      Le discours politique de nombre d’israéliens est aisément traduisible avec, en tête, cette définition qui se résume aussi par le : « c’est sui qui l’dit qui y’est » des cours de l’école primaire.

  • Druze Kill Syrian Troops After Bombings Kill Dozens, Including Top Cleric — News from

    Throughout the Syrian Civil War, there had been relative calm in the al-Suwayda Province, the primary home of the nation’s Druze minority. The Druze are largely seen as pro-government, and elsewhere in the country have been attacked by rebels as a consequence.

    Suwayda is exploding in the past few days, however, after Friday saw a pair of car bombings killing 33 Druze civilians, including top religious leader Sheikh Wahid al-Balous. There was no claim of responsibility, but Balous was an outspoken opponent of the government, and had urged Druze to stop joining the military, which led to suspicion that he was killed by government forces.

    Unrest is growing province-wide, and six Syrian troops were killed by Druze militant attacks late Saturday. Groups of Balous supporters have burned cars in front of many government offices in the area, and destroyed a statue of President Assad’s father in the main city.

    An outright revolt against the government is bad news for the government, but may also be dangerous for the Druze, as they have few natural allies in the ever-splintering nation, and have regularly been targeted by Islamist rebel factions. There were unconfirmed reports that Balous was trying to forge ties with the rebel FSA, but their power is limited to a few small districts, and probably can’t offer the Druze much in the way of protection.

    #Druzes #Syrie

  • South Syria rebels reportedly promised air cover

    Free Syrian Army rebels in southern Syria have reportedly been promised “Arab air cover” as they ramp up their military campaign against the regime.
    “Rebel factions in the area are preparing for large-scale military operations and have received promises of Arab air cover, or at least the provision of anti-aircraft rockets,” a source in the FSA told Alaraby Aljadeed in an article published Tuesday.
    The source—an officer in the FSA’s Yarmouk Army who preferred to remain anonymous—said that the factions might not wait longer than a week to launch the new offensives, even if the promised air support was not provided by then.
    The London-based daily also spoke with an official in the FSA-affiliated Southern Front coalition of rebels who echoed the claims of the Yarmouk Army officer.
    “There have been serious signals that the Southern Front will receive Arab support within days,” Southern Front Military Command member Ayman Alaasmi told the paper.

  • US Backing for ’Moderate’ Syrian Rebels: Long Reported, Continually Forgotten

    That the US is arming and training Syrian rebels has been well-documented for over two years, yet Western media have historically suffered from a strange collective amnesia when reporting this fact.


    This week, it appears, the media’s collective FSA/CIA amnesia has struck once again, with a series of reports that make no mention of the CIA’s ongoing operation of arming and training Syrian rebels that’s been thoroughly documented for over two years.

    These reports were previewed last month with a report on CNN (1/16/15) headlined “Pentagon: US to Begin to Train and Equip Moderate Syria Rebels.” This was just false: The US isn’t “beginning to train and equip moderate rebels.”

  • The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب : Kobani in Le Monde

    Kobani in Le Monde
    From John: "Look at this “reportage”: Not a single mention of the YPG/PKK, it implies that the only defenders of Kobani are Iraqi peshmerga and the FSA. By the way the other week Le Monde’s Syria blog denounced a rally in support of Kobani because it was defended by the regime-allied YPG. Le Monde basically took a Turkish attitude of “let the Kurds and Daesh kill each other”.

    Vous pourrez aller vérifier, de fait, c’est affligeant.

  • TRANSLATED: Half of 52-strong “FSA” force leave Kobani fight after disputes with Kurds

    On November 3, the Saudi-owned, London-based Asharq al-Awsat daily newspaper carried the following report: “Sources at the Free Syrian Army and others from the Kurdish People Protection Units revealed that differences took place between the fighters of the Free Army and the Kurds in the Syrian city of Kobani (Ain Arab) near the Turkish borders, which is now witnessing massive battles aimed at repelling the attacks of the ISIL group.

    “A source at the military council, which is affiliated to the Free Army told Asharq al-Awsat that “differences occurred between the Kurds and the Free Army’s fighters who entered Kobani from Turkey a few days ago.” They added that around 20 out of 52 fighters left the region and returned to Turkey. The differences likely occurred as a result of failing to supply the opposition members with ammunition or fighting equipment that the International Alliance had previously tossed to the Kurdish fighters by air.

    “On the other hand, a source at the People Protection Units told Asharq al-Awsat that “the fighters of the Free Army that recently entered Kobani had a political rather than a military objective.” He also accused them of following Turkey’s orders…”

  • Question for Obama’s Syria plan: Who are the ’moderate’ rebels?

    The problem, analysts say, is that turning the foundering FSA into a force capable of beating both the Assad regime and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) would require far more help than anyone, including the U.S., is willing to give them. The FSA is currently the weakest force on the ground in Syria, a result not only of inadequate foreign backing compared with that of rival Islamist and extremist factions, but of its own internal divisions, byzantine leadership structure (based in Turkey) and rampant corruption. (...)


    ... Obama’s plan to give limited backing to “moderate” rebels is more widely interpreted as a means of equalizing the balance on the battlefield in the hope of forcing Assad to the bargaining table, not defeating him, and of creating viable ground forces to partner the ongoing U.S.-led airstrikes against ISIL in northern and eastern Syria.

    According to Joshua Landis, a leading U.S. Syria scholar based at the University of Oklahoma, “the last thing we want to do is destroy the rest of government-controlled Syria. There would be millions more refugees pouring into Lebanon and Jordan, and we’d turn the rest of Syria’s cities into Aleppo and Homs," two cities that have been gutted by the three-year civil war.

    “Frankly we’ve seen too many failed states fill up with jihadist militias,” he said. “The FSA wouldn’t bring unified rule in Syria, they would bring Somalia, just like you’ve already got in the north.”

  • Made in the USA: Report Shows #ISIS Using US Arms from ‘Syria Rebels’

    The Syrian rebel factions still getting US arms loudly denied that they were providing their arms to ISIS, and insisted the “overwhelming majority” of US military aid is still being used by the FSA to fight America’s enemies.

    That’s a #fiction ISIS seems only too willing to continue facilitating, as it would keep those massive US arms shipments flowing, giving ISIS a convenient source of arms as the US air war continues to boost its recruitment numbers.

  • Frustration drives Arsal’s FSA into #ISIS ranks

    “We are collaborating with the Islamic State and the Nusra Front by attacking the Syrian Army’s gatherings in ... Qalamoun,” said Bassel Idriss, the commander of an FSA-aligned rebel brigade.

    “We have reached a point where we have to collaborate with anyone against unfairness and injustice,” confirmed Abu Khaled, another FSA commander who lives in Arsal.

  • Baby foods, cereals and crisps found to contain raised levels of cancer risk chemicals

    The FSA conducts annual tests for #acrylamide in food products. Its survey for 2013, published this week, found high levels of the chemical in apple rice cakes from Organix, Sunny Start baby wheat flakes and Heinz breakfast banana multigrain for babies.

    Also affected were crisps, cereals and some frozen potato products, which were found to be likely to develop too much acrylamide if cooked to package instructions.

    When food is cooked at high temperatures, a process called the #Maillard reaction makes it brown and adds taste and crunch. However, the reaction creates acrylamide.

    The chemical is also used in industry to make polymers for applications in paper making, water treatment and sealants.


    The FSA’s guidelines say that consumers should cook chips only to a light gold and should toast bread ‘to the lightest colour acceptable’ to reduce exposure to acrylamide.

    This week, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued similar guidelines, including warning against storing potatoes in the fridge. This increases the sugar level, which is linked to browning, it said.

    It added: ‘Tests show that acrylamide in the diet causes cancer in animals. Scientists conclude that acrylamide in food potentially increases cancer risk.’
    The World Health Organisation has said the chemical ‘indicates a human health concern’ when found in food.

    Dr Diane Benford, an FSA specialist who heads EFSA’s committee on food contaminants, said that when acrylamide breaks down in the body, another substance called glycidamide is formed.

    She added: ‘Glycidamide is the most likely cause of gene mutations and tumours seen in animal studies.’

    The British Retail Consortium, which represents supermarkets, said acrylamide levels in food are falling. It added: ‘Retailers will continue to work with suppliers to limit the occurrence of acrylamide in foods.’

    Cow & Gate, maker of Sunny Start, said safety is ‘incredibly important’ and it is investigating the ‘anomalous’ result.

    Organix said it has reduced levels in its rice cakes since the tests and there is ‘no cause for concern’. Heinz said its affected baby cereal has been discontinued.


  • U.S. arms could create Syria ’warlords’, rebel commander says

    Brigadier General Abdelilah al-Bashir, who defected in 2012 and led rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces in the Golan before becoming chief-of-staff of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council in February, told Reuters that Washington was bypassing the SMC in sending weapons directly to groups that were hard to control.

    “The Americans are leading the distribution of weapons on the northern front and in the southern front. We demand that we be responsible,” Bashir, 56, said in an interview in Istanbul.

  • Al Qaeda expands influence in Syria’s southern front

    Col Nehmeh is unpopular even among supposed allies within the FSA, like the Yarmouk Brigade, who have long complained that his loyalties are to money and foreign intelligence agents, not the Syrian revolution.

    He was also an ally of Gen Selim Idriss, the former head of the FSA, who was sacked in February for being ineffective. With him gone, Col Nehmeh’s influence was dramatically curtailed.

    Col Nehmeh recently launched a new rebel coalition in southern Syria in what was widely interpreted as an effort to shore up his own power base, at the expense of an already tenuous unity among rebel factions. 

    Rivalries within the FSA also mean some officers are happy to see Col Nehmeh taken out of the picture, in the hope they can take over his role at the DMC and build up their own client networks through distributing weapons and cash.

    Al Nusra must have calculated that FSA commanders on the ground, and at the FSA headquarters in Turkey, would not be willing to start a war over a man they all dislike.

  • #Hezbollah Winning in Syria: At What Price?

    Par Aurélie Daher,

    The Syrian opposition factions didn’t wait for Hezbollah fighters to actually cross the border before declaring their hostility for — and issuing threats against — the party.

    In December 2011, for example, Burhan Ghalioun, who then headed the Syrian National Council (SNC), declared that if indeed the Assad regime was defeated, “the new authorities would drastically review their relations with Iran and Hezbollah ” (Al-Arabiya, 12/2/11).

    The following month, FSA spokesman, Col. Ammar al-Wawi, warned that Hezbollah’s secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah, will be “held accountable for his actions before revolutionary courts after the victory of the Syrian revolution” (L’Orient-Le Jour, 2/1/12). Then, in the fall of 2012, the head of al-Qaeda in Syria (as it was then known), Majid al-Majid, issued a specific threat against Hezbollah, announcing his plans to conduct attacks against tourist sites in Lebanon if the government in Beirut continued to support the party (Al-Joumhouriya, 9/3/12). Similarly, the FSA’s leadership promised to bring the war into the heart of southern Beirut (a Hezbollah stronghold) if the party “didn’t end its support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad” (L’Orient-Le Jour, 10/9/12). The rhetoric became if anything more virulent and increasingly characterized by a sectarian, anti-Shiite hostility as the Sunni jihadi groups, which made clear that the conflict went far beyond any ideological or economic differences, gained ascendance among the opposition forces.


    (...) without necessarily retaining any admiration for the Damascus regime — let alone any endorsement of its policies and behavior — the strong majority of the Shia “naturally” prefer it as the lesser evil compared to one which would upset the regional equilibrium.

    It is for the same reason that the Shiite community disapproved of March 14’s adherence in 2005 to an American neoconservative policy aimed at upending the existing regional balance of power. Asked to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea, Lebanon’s Shiites feel more at home and comfortable — and secure — under the Syrian-Iranian umbrella than being subject to US-European (and Saudi) adventures in the Middle East — particularly in the wake of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    Over the past 20 years, the community has also developed a very special, very strong and very sophisticated relationship with Hezbollah. The party’s successive victories over the Israeli occupation and its social and political achievements on the domestic front have built a solid confidence in its strategic acuity. Those accomplishments have also sparked a revival of communal identity, based on a new “Shiite pride,” the promotion of a collective self-image. In so doing, the party has permitted the community to rid itself of inferiority complexes that it has suffered for decades, if not centuries, thus inspiring a strong, durable feeling of gratitude towards Hezbollah and, accordingly, cementing an enduring political bond between the party and the community.

    The last reason why the majority of Shiites are unlikely to desert Hezbollah is their strong hostility towards the Sunni jihadist groups in the Syrian opposition. Christians are not the only religious group anxious about their growing importance. Shiites feel much the same fear because they know that the hatred directed by these groups at them is based more on religious than on political differences; that is, they are hated for what they are, rather than for what they think . In a country whose state lacks the resources to assure its citizens’ security, Hezbollah appears — as paradoxical as it may seem — as the only group capable of defending the nation — and its community.

    In other words, the Syrian crisis has not changed the basic political configuration of Lebanon. Hezbollah’s critics still criticise it; those who support it also continue to do so. Those feelings have perhaps become more polarized as a result of Hezbollah’s intervention in Syria, but no consequential political defection is in view — from one side or the other.