Syrian forces foil IS attack on strategic Kweiris airbase

Photo: Sputnik/ Valery Melnikov


Syrian forces repelled an Islamic State attempt to take control over the strategic Kweiris airbase in the eastern part of Allepo province, sputnik news reports.

The attack began with suicide car bombs to retake al-Nejjarah village in the northern parts of the Kweiris airbase from the Syrian Army, FARS News reported.

The army responded immediately and destroyed the car bombs before they reached the village.

Then, the terrorists were forced to withdraw from the area after sustaining damage and some sporadic conflicts.

Nejjarah village was cleared of militants earlier this week by the Syrian Army and popular forces.

Five Armenians awarded France’s highest honor

Two French-Armenians historians, Anahide Ter Minassian and Raymond Kevorkian, are among five Armenian recipients of the French Legion of Honor (Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur), the highest decoration in France, in 2015, the reports.

By decree of French President Francois Hollande dated Dec. 31, 2015, the Grand Chancellor of the National Order of the Legion of Honour published the names of the honorees, which also include Professor Serge Nazarian, and pharmacist and former president of the Armenian Association for Social Assistance André Yédikardachian.

Armenian-American professor Mark Moogalian, the first passenger to tackle a gunman aboard an Amsterdam-Paris train on Aug. 21, 2015, was awarded the Legion of Honor in September 2015.

Ter Minassian, whose work focuses on modern Armenian history, teaches at l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences) and the Pantheon-Sorbonne University. Ter Minassian has published several books about Armenia and the Armenian Genocide, including La question arménienne (The Armenian Question) in 1983; 1918-1920-La République d’Arménie (1918-1920-The Republic of Armenia) in 1989; Histoires croisées: diaspora, Arménie, Transcaucasie (Intersecting histories: Diaspora, Armenia, Transcaucasia) in 1997; and Smyrne, la ville oublié: Mémoires d’un grand port ottoman, 1830-1930(Smyrna, The Forgotten City: Memories of a Great Ottoman Port, 1830-1930) in 2006.

Kévorkian is a lecturer at the University of Paris VIII: Vincennes–Saint-Denis, and serves as research director at the French Institute of Geopolitics (Institut Français de Géopolitique). Kevorkian is also the director of Paris’s Nubarian Library and the editor ofRevue d’Histoire arménienne contemporaine (The Journal of Contemporary Armenian History). In 2006, Kevorkian published The Armenian Genocide: A Complete History, the first book on the Armenian Genocide to make extensive use of the archives of the Nubarian Library. In 2010, he received the Presidential Award from Armenian President Serge Sarkisian in recognition of his scholarly work in Armenian history.

On Sept. 13, 2015, Armenian-American Mark Moogalian, the 51-year-old Sorbonne professor who was identified by the UK’s the Daily Telegraph as the first passenger to tackle gunman Ayoub El-Khazzani on Aug. 21 aboard an Amsterdam-Paris train, was awarded the French Legion of Honor by French President Francois Hollande.

During the high-speed train ride, Moogalian tackled El-Khazzani, who was armed with an AK-47 assault rifle. It is reported that he instinctively acted to protect his wife, Isabella Risacher, and managed to take the assault rifle away from El-Khazzani. The assailant drew another gun and shot Moogalian in the neck, revealed the professor’s sister, who was also on the train. Moogalian’s heroism, along with the actions of Americans Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler, and Briton Chris Norman, helped save many lives. Skarlatos, Stone, Sadler, and Norman were awarded the Legion of Honor soon after the attack. Hollande had announced he would award Moogalian the Legion of Honor once he had recuperated.

The French Legion of Honor, established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, is awarded for excellent civil or military conduct.

Moscow refuses Ankara’s invitation to war: Medvedev

Photo: Sputnik/Ekaterina Shtukina


Ankara gave Moscow ground for war, but Russia has refused to respond ‘symmetrically’, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told journalists answering the question on Russian Su-24 downing by Turkish F-16 over Syria.

“After a plane was destroyed, how would a country usually react in the 20th century? Begin a war. Because this [Su-24 downing] was a direct attack on another country,” the prime minister said.

“Naturally, war is the worst option. As a matter of fact, Turkey has violated all international legal standards, they committed an act of aggression against us and basically gave ground for war. However we decided against a tit-for-tat response,” the prime minister added

High-level delegations discuss U.S.-Armenia Economic and Trade Ties

This week, the first meeting of the U.S.-Armenia Council on Trade and Investment will be held in Yerevan. Following that historic session, members of the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force will also gather in Yerevan.

“The U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force (or USATF), was created in 1999 and it meets every year. The annual meetings are an opportunity for high-level delegations from both the Armenian and U.S. governments to meet and have an opportunity to discuss ways how we can deepen our economic ties, we can further market reforms in Armenia, and how we, as the U.S. government, can best use U.S. assistance to contribute to Armenia’s long-term economic growth, create more jobs, and promote trade between our two countries,” U.S. Ambassador to Armenia Richard Mills, Jr. said. “Then in addition, this past May, our two countries signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (called a TIFA). And the TIFA establishes something called the Armenia-U.S. Council on Trade and Investment. It is this newly-established TIFA Council that will hold very detailed, very deep discussions that are specifically focused on our trade relationship and what are some of the barriers to Armenians trading and investing in the U.S. and to Americans trading and investing in Armenia.”

During the first meeting of the Armenia-U.S. Council on Trade and Investment, a day-long session which will take place on November 17, technical experts from both sides will discuss a wide range of issues, including intellectual property rights, customs clearances, technical barriers to trade, sanitary measures, investment promotion efforts, private sector engagement, government procurement, WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and environmental and labor issues.

“There will be participants at this week’s TIFA Council meeting from the U.S. government and the Armenian government, and they will discuss a number of issues that, if left unaddressed, can hinder trade between our two countries,” Ambassador Mills said. “The idea is to identify and then have both countries commit to address these very technical trade issues; and in doing so, help to improve trade and business between the United States and Armenia. The goal of all of this, and particularly of the Council, is to get more American products available to Armenian consumers. That will increase Armenians’ choice and competition. And it means easier access to the U.S. market for Armenian businessmen and women, Armenian exporters. And that should create jobs here in Armenia that will help the Armenian economy and help the average Armenian.”

On November 19, the U.S.-Armenia Joint Economic Task Force will meet here in Yerevan to discuss economic issues of mutual interest to our countries.

“The newly-established Council on Trade and Investment (the TIFA Council) is a platform to discuss very specific, very technical trade issues, while the USATF Joint Economic Task Force brings together senior officials from the U.S. and Armenian government to focus on big-picture, larger economic issues that will affect our bilateral relationship now and in the future; issues such as, tax reform in Armenia, anti-corruption efforts, Armenia’s nuclear power strategy and broader energy strategy going into the future.  As I discussed last week during my speech at the American Chamber of Commerce, my top priority as U.S. ambassador is to intensify the business and the commercial relations between our two countries.  And I think TIFA and USATF have a very important role to play as the relationship between our two countries is beginning to shift from one that has primarily been based on assistance to one that is now grounded in very mutually beneficial trade and economic partnerships,” said Ambassador Mills.

Syrian forces win back two more villages in Lattakia

The Syrian Army and National Defense Forces (NDF), backed up by the Russian warplanes, regained two strategic villages in the Northeastern part of Lattakia province on Monday after inflicting heavy death toll on the militant groups, reports.

The militant position near the villages of al-Dughmishlyia and Beit Ayyash were heavily bombed by the Russian fighter jets and choppers since this morning, which pave the groups for the army and NDF to push back the terrorists and regain control over the villages.

A large number of the militants were killed or wounded in the fighting areas and the terrorist groups retreat the remaining of their forces to evade more casualties.

Sources said earlier today that the Syrian Army and popular forces continued to push back the terrorist groups from the Northern parts of Lattakia and entered the strategic village of Deir Hanna.

The pro-government forces, after fierce clashes with the militant groups and breaking through their defense lines this morning, entered Deir Hanna.

The militant groups reportedly suffered heavy death toll in the Syrian forces’ operation and retreated the remaining of forces from the battlefront.

In the meantime, a wide-scale assault of the Takfiri terrorists on the government forces’ positions near Ghamam town in Lattakia province was repelled by the Syrian soldiers, in which tens of the militants were killed or wounded.

Syrian army captures village in Aleppo province

Syrian government forces captured the village of Tel Hadya in the northern province of Aleppo on Friday, a monitoring group and state media said, in the latest territorial gains reported against insurgents in the area, Reuters reports.

The reported advance brought pro-government forces closer to the main highway that links Syria’s major cities, building on other gains made in the area with support from Russian air strikes.

There was no immediate comment from rebels, including al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, who have been in control of the area.

Fighting has intensified even as world and regional powers prepare to meet in Vienna in a bid to step up diplomatic efforts to the end the four-year-old conflict.

Syrian state TV reported the takeover of Tel Hadya and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict using sources on the ground, confirmed it.

The advance came a day after the Syrian army backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters,Iranian troops and Russia air raids took the nearby town of Al Hader, effectively bringing government forces in control of most of the southern Aleppo countryside.

“The southern Aleppo countryside is falling hill after hill… the army is advancing quickly,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters.

The advances could provide a launching pad to push further against insurgent strongholds in mainly rebel-held northwestern Syria.

The Kremlin believes the Syrian army’s offensive is effective and that, with the help of Russian air strikes, the Syrians are making good progress, Russian RIA Novosti news agency said on Friday.

Junior Eurovision 2015: Armenia promises a joyful and colorful show




The Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2015 will take place in Sofia on November 21. The contest held under the slogan “Discover” will feature representatives from 17 countries this year. Mika, 12, will represent Armenia with the song “Love.” A joyful and colorful show is expected, head of the Armenian delegation Gohar Gasparyan told a press conference today.

Mika started singing when he was six, and has participated in most different contests since 2013.

The video of the song presents a friendship of love and happiness. Mika, the Cupid, arranges the love affairs around the world. Cupid’s work requires great responsibility and attention. Therefore, Mika’s senior colleague Aram MP3 helps him with the mission.

Besides singing, Mika can dance well. Thus, an interesting and colorful show on Eurovision stage is guaranteed.

China’s Alibaba breaks Singles Day record as sales surge

Getty images


E-commerce giant Alibaba has broken its own record for sales on China’s Singles Day, the world’s biggest online shopping event, the BBC reports.

The firm said sales surpassed the record amount of $9.3bn (ÂŁ6.1bn) made last year in just over half the time.

Singles Day, also known as Double Eleven because it is held on 11 November, has become a major annual event for Chinese retailers.

Alibaba said more than $1bn was spent within eight minutes of midnight.

Within the first hour, it had made $3.9bn (ÂŁ in sales, almost double the amount spent in the same time period of the event last year.

In comparison, sales on Cyber Monday, which is the biggest online shopping day in the US, hit $1.35bn, according to data analytics firm ComScore.

Armenian, Russian FMs to discuss a wide range of issues on bilateral agenda

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will on Monday pay a working visit to Armenia, where he will hold talks with his counterpart Edward Nalbandian, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement, TASS reports.

The ministry said the meeting “will consider issues of mutual interest on the bilateral, regional and international agenda.”

The Russian minister is also expected to be received by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.

In April 2015, Nalbandian visited Moscow. The ministers regularly meet at events of various integration associations, including the Commonwealth of Independent States (a loose association of former Soviet republics), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and at other international sites.

Lavrov and Nalbandian last met at a forum of graduates of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), held in the Armenian capital in late October. The two countries’ top diplomats are graduates of that higher educational establishment.