Russian Defense Ministry accuses Pentagon of imitating fight against Islamic State

The Pentagon, refusing to transfer the data on terrorist targets in Syria to the Russian military, continues to fight against the Islamic State terrorist group “in word only”, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Monday, reports.

He thus commented on a recent statement by the Pentagon spokesperson Michelle Baldanza who confirmed that the US military did not intend to share with Moscow the information on IS targets until Russia changes its policy towards Syrian President Bashar Assad. “We are not going to cooperate with Russia on Syria until they change their strategy of supporting Assad and instead focus on ISIL (IS),” Baldanza said.

“The hackneyed thesis has once again confirmed that the Pentagon will fight against IS in word only, instead of taking real action,” Konashenkov said. “The statement by the US Defense Department spokesperson Michelle Baldanza about the [US side’s] refusal from any cooperation in the fight against Islamic State is a broken record, and it’s high time to change it,” he said.

The Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said that at last week’s news briefing of the chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff, General Sergey Rudskoy, the military presented data on changes in the routes of illegal transportation of oil by the Islamic State militants. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the new routes run through the north-western regions of Iraq, which “are in the focus of constant attention of the United States.”

“We publicly told our American colleagues that it is necessary not to discuss the IS activities in Iraq, but to take real action to block the terrorists’ sources of income in the region,” Konashenkov said.

IS ringleader’s mobile phone speaks loud of Turkey’s support for terrorism

A commander of the Iraqi volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) revealed that a mobile phone found with one of the killed IS ringleaders proved the Turkish spy agency’s support for the terrorist group, reports.

“The mobile phone was found with one of the killed IS leaders in the Northern parts of Salahuddin province two days ago,” Jabbar al-Ma’mouri told Soumeriya news on Monday.

He said that the mobile set and history files contain messages from the Turkish intelligence agency which show that Ankara supports the IS terrorist group through providing security at the points of entry used by IS militants from Turkey to Iraq.

“The mobile phone also contains other important information which cannot be disclosed now, and it has been delivered to the specialized security groups for further scrutiny,” Ma’mouri said.

In relevant remarks on November, Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Orlov said that Turkey has played an “ambiguous” role in the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) while acting as an accomplice to the terrorist group’s activities.

Also last month, former US Department of State senior advisor David Phillips said Turkey has blatantly provided material support to the ISIL because they share an ideological connection along with a common foe in Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“Turkey’s role has not been ambiguous — it has overtly supported the ISIL,” Phillips, currently Director of Columbia University’s Peace-building and Rights Program, said. “It has provided logistical support, money, weapons, transport and healthcare to wounded warriors.”

Phillips explained that Turkey has been supporting the ISIL to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad from power and because of a “spiritual bond” that exists between Turkey’s governing party and the jihadists.

Putin says Syrian people must choose leaders

 Sputnik/ Grigory Sysoyev


President Vladimir Putin says that Russian military operation in Syria will continue until a political process starts. Putin said at a televised news conference that once the Syrians decide it’s time to stop fighting and launch talks, “we aren’t going to be more Syrian than the Syrians themselves,” and Moscow will wrap up its military action, the Associated Press reports.

He says that he was unsure whether Russia needs a permanent military base in Syria. He said new Russian weapons, such as sea- and air-launched cruise missiles, give Moscow enough punch to strike an enemy and there may be no need for a permanent base in Syria.

President Vladimir Putin says the Syrian people themselves must determine who rules the country.

Putin, who met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this week, said at a news conference Thursday that Moscow supports a U.S. draft of a U.N. Security Council resolution on Syria. He says a new constitution for Syria must be drafted, and a new election prepared in which the Syrians themselves will determine its leadership.

He adds that Russia believes that a political settlement is the only way to end the Syrian crisis.

Putin says Russia and the U.S. agree on the need to ensure work on a new constitution and create mechanisms of control over future elections.

Turkey detains 27 Russian commercial ships

As Russia has detained eight commercial ships flying Turkish flags in the Black Seasince the jet crisis erupted between the two countries, Turkey has detained a total of 27 Russian ships in a retaliatory move, as reported by daily HabertĂŒrk on Dec. 16, the Hurriyet Daily News reports.

According to the source, Turkish officials have detained a total of 27 ships with Russian flags as of Dec. 15 due to missing documents or transactions in line with the Mediterranean and Black Seamemoranda.

Authorities from both countries have started to discuss the issue via e-mail, and Russia has given Turkey green light to talk about the issue.

“It is not clear where or when to meet. The parties have showed their intention to overcome the issue,” sources said.

Syrian Army attacks Al-Nusra jihadists near Jordan

AP Photo/ Alexander Kots


The strategic hilltops in south-western Syria’s Daraa province have reportedly been seized by the Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces during their ongoing advance on Al-Nusra Front militants.
The Syrian Army, jointly with the country’s National Defense Forces, have managed to capture the strategic hilltops of Koum Aqre, located in south-western Syria’s Daraa province, according to the Iranian news agency FARS.

Dozens of Al-Nusra terrorists were killed during heavy clashes with Syrian troops who stormed the militants’ positions on the Koum Aqre hilltops near the strategic towns of Kufer Shamis and Al-Shaykh Maskin.

The seizure of the hilltops paved the way for opening a new front against the militants in Syria’s western areas, FARS reported.

Russia cuts all military ties with Turkey

Photo: Sputnik/ Natalia Seliverstova


All military contacts with Turkey have been cut following the downing of Russia’s Su-24 military jet, the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday, Sputnik News reports.

“Today, in accordance with a previously made decision, all cooperation channels have been cut between the Russian Defense Ministry and the Turkish Armed Forces,” ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told reporters.

“This concerns all ties, not just the so-called hotline that was launched in order to avoid possible air incidents during the destruction of terrorist infrastructure in Syria,” he added.

Russia may also restrict or even ban Turkish vessels and aircraft from entering Russian ports and airspace, according to Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev.

Baku: Franck Muller Group’s CEO placed on Interpol’s wanted list for visiting Karabakh

Azerbaijan asks Interpol to find and arrest Swiss citizen Vartan Sirmakes, the CEO of Franck Muller Group, reports.

According to the source, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Azerbaijan informs that the national central bureau of Interpol under the Ministry of Internal Affairs has already started these activities.

“Yesterday, the Nasimi district court of Baku chose for Sirmakes a measure of restraint in form of detention in connection with a criminal case initiated against him under three articles of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.

Sirmakes is charged under Article 281.2 (public calls against the state), 318.2 (illegal crossing of the state border of Azerbaijan) and 192.2.2 (illegal business). The charges were brought on the fact that Sirmakes, without official permission of Azerbaijan, visited Nagorno Karabakh, where, as the Prosecutor’s Office said,  he was involved in an illegal business and made open calls against the Azerbaijani state.

Moscow-Yerevan bus crash: 7 killed, many injured

A commercial bus en route from Moscow to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia, capsized in the small hours of Tuesday 221 km south of Moscow, TASS reports.

The accident took away the lives of seven people and left another 35 passengers injured, the press service of the Tula regional main department of the Interior said.

All the injured passengers have been admitted to district hospitals in the towns of Uzlovaya and Kireyevsk in the Tula region.

The accident occurred at the 221st kilometer of the M4 Don federal road at around 02:40 Moscow Standard Time on Tuesday. The bus was carrying 59 passengers aboard, Andrey Yartsev, a duty spokesman for Tula regional Interior Department told TASS.

“The bus was moving the in southward direction,” he said. “For the reason that’s yet to be established it began to waggle from one guardrail to another over a distance of about 200 meters and eventually tumbled on the right board.”

The regional division of the Ministry for Emergency Situations and Civil Defense dispatched a group of operatives to clear out and coordinate the situation.

Andrey Yartsev did not rule out, however, that the number of the injured might grow eventually.

The driver was not injured but was in a state of shock and unable to give any explanations for or details of the accident.

Freedom on the Net 2015: Armenia rated as a ‘free’ country


With a score of 28 Armenia is ranked as a free country in a fresh released by the Freedom House.

Georgia is another post-Soviet country rated as “free.” Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan are partly free, while Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan are rated as “not free.”

The report says the internet penetration rate in Armenia has continued improving over the past few years, alongside improvements in the stability of the internet’s infrastructure and relatively few restrictions on online content. Additionally, citizen groups and NGOs have made use of online communication tools to promote and organize campaigns, particularly surrounding the protests in Yerevan against hikes in electricity prices in mid-2015.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the internet penetration rate reached 46 percent by the end of 2014, compared with 42 percent in 2013 and just 15 percent in 2009. The Public Service Regulatory Committee of Armenia estimates the rate slightly higher, at 50 percent in 2014.

The mobile penetration rate in Armenia was 116 percent as of 2014,and the number of mobile broadband subscriptions is also growing. As of December 2014, broadband subscriptions reached 257,610, an increase of 16,934 compared with of the same period in 2013

There have been no reports of restrictions on internet access imposed by the government or temporary disconnections from the internet since June 2014. In practice, the Armenian government and the telecommunication regulatory authority, the PSRC, do not interfere with or try to influence the planning of network topology. Operators plan and develop their networks without any coordination with either the government or the regulatory authority. Moreover, the regulatory authority requires service providers to indicate any technological restrictions in their public offers. Armenian internet users enjoy access to internet resources without limitation, including peer-to-peer networks, voice and instant messaging services.

Armenian internet users are able to access a wide array of content online, though online media outlets based within the country are subject to financial and political pressures. Currently, self-censorship is not a widespread practice in the online sphere. The Armenian government and the ruling political elite have not applied extralegal measures to prevent political opponents or independent internet resources from publishing online content.

Technical attacks against government websites and civil society groups continue, with most of the attacks originating from the “Anti-Armenia” group based in Azerbaijan.

In addition, Turkish hackers from the Turk Hack Team group claimed that they launched DDoS attacks against websites of the Armenian government, as well as Armenian business and media sites, causing disruptions on April 24, the Armenian Genocide commemoration day. However, there were no interruptions recorded by these entities.

Freedom on the Net 2015 finds internet freedom around the world in decline for a fifth consecutive year as more governments censored information of public interest while also expanding surveillance and cracking down on privacy tools.