German Intelligence Blames Pro-Russian Rebels For Downing Of MH17


According to the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, Germany’s BND foreign intelligence agency has concluded that pro-Russian rebels are to blame for the downing of Malaysia Airline MH17 in Ukraine in July.

Gerhard Schindler, president of the BND, told a secret parliamentary committee on security affairs earlier this month that separatists had used a Russian Buk missile defense system from a Ukrainian base to fire a rocket that exploded directly next to the Malyasia Air jet.

The Cost Of Flying The F-15

f-15Recently, the pentagon decided to cut the 65th Aggressor Squadron, the United States Air Force F-15 unit that mimics enemy fighters like the Russian Su-27.  This squadron was used for training, playing the adversary role in dogfights.

The reason was the cost.  According to Time Magazine, the cost per flight-hour for some military jets is gigantic.  The F-15 costs roughly $41,921 per flight hour. (This includes fuel and maintenance costs.)

By comparison, the  F-16 costs $22,514.

Some European fighter jets like the SAAB JAS 39 Gripen have costs closer to that of the F-16.

The A-10 Warthog costs $17,716 per flight hour.  (It is also the subject of a budget battle at the Pentagon and may be cut to help fund the new F-35 Joint Strike fighter.)

Smaller drones like the Predator and Reaper drones cost $4000 or $5000 per flight-hour.

These costs do not include the costs of the bombs and ammunition.

First Airstrike By British Jets


British jets have carried out their first strikes on ISIS targets in Iraq.

The British Ministry of Defence said the attacks were in support of Kurdish units in the north-west of the country.

They attacked a “heavy weapon position” and an armed pick-up truck.

The strikes – by two GR4 Tornados – came four days after Parliament approved military action, and were said to be “successful”.

Information from Kurdish sources suggests the RAF strikes had helped the Kurds retake an “important border crossing” at Rabia near Syria, said the BBC’s Clive Myrie in Irbil, northern Iraq.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said both Tornados had “returned safely to their base”, RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

He also said the “RAF jets assisted Kurdish troops under attack”  and said they were in action in support of the Iraqi government.

“On arriving overhead, the RAF patrol, using their Litening III targeting pod, identified an Isil heavy weapon position which was engaging Kurdish ground forces,” an MoD statement said.

“One Paveway IV guided bomb was used to attack the Isil position.”

“Following this engagement, the patrol identified an Isil armed pick-up truck in the same area and conducted an attack on the vehicle using a Brimstone missile.

“An initial assessment indicates that both precision strikes were successful.”

Earlier, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain would not be “panicked” into dropping bombs in Iraq by reports that militants were advancing.

He said the RAF would carefully target IS, as hitting civilians would have the “opposite of the effect we are intending”.

TYT Network: “Khorasan” Doesn’t Exist

In a piece for The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald claims the terror group Khorasan doesn’t actually exist and was made up to stoke fears and justify attacks in Syria.

Richard Engel, NBC’s chief foreign correspondent, tweeted this: “Syrian activists telling us they’ve never heard of Khorasan or its leader.”

TYT takes a look at it.

Here is the piece by Greenwald:

TYT Video On Airstrikes In Syria

United States conducted airstrikes on targets throughout Syria.

The U.S. hit not only ISIS, but some other rebel groups you may or may not have heard about.

Targets controlled by the groups Jabhat Al-Nusra and Khorasan were hit. These groups are affiliated with Al Qaeda in Syria.

There is also disagreement on whether Congress has given authorization for the airstrikes.

TYT tries to take a look and break it down.

Bill O’Reilly’s “Mercenary Army” In Syria

Bill O’Reilly came up with a “plan” to defeat ISIS that consisted of creating a “mercenary army” of hired fighters that are “English-speaking.”  Bill conveniently omitted some questions about law, supply, logistics, and intelligence.  O’Reilly has never served in the military.

According to Media Matters, “U.S. military experts and veterans are slamming Bill O’Reilly’s proposal to create an American-backed worldwide mercenary force to battle Islamic State militants and other extremists, calling the idea ‘an outrageous thought’ that is ‘fraught with problems.'”

Dennis Laich, a retired U.S. Army major general who served in Kuwait and Iraq said, “If a mercenary military commits atrocity in the name of the United States, is that a war crime?”

Retired Lt. General Edward Anderson, a West Point graduate with 39 years in the U.S. Army, had a reaction that might be described as “luke warm.”  He said, “My initial reaction is that I am not too enthusiastic about the idea. I can’t think of a time when that has worked in the past, not on a scale you are talking about here.”

Jamie Barnett, a former U.S. Navy rear admiral with more than 30 years of experience, also served as Director of Naval Education and Training at the Pentagon. “This is going to be a long-term fight,” he said.  “That would be expensive enough, but the idea of putting English speakers on the ground just invites problems. We need indigenous fighters who see this as their homeland. We need to concentrate on the approach we have done in the past, which includes training people to fight their own fights.”

Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk takes a look at it.

Anti-War Protests In Russia


Tens of thousands of people have marched in Moscow to protest against Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict.  People carrying Russian and Ukrainian flags chanted “No to war!” and “Stop lying!” Similar rallies took place in St Petersburg and other Russian cities.

Moscow police said there were about 5,000 protesters but a reporter for the AP news agency estimated that the crowd was at least 20,000-strong.

More than 3,000 people have died in fighting since April.  A truce was agreed on 5 September but there have been repeated violations since then.  Meanwhile, Ukraine accuses Russia of arming rebels in the east and sending Russian troops across the border. Moscow denies it.

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said violations of the ceasefire continued, telling reporters: “In the last 24 hours we have lost two Ukrainian soldiers, eight have been wounded.”

In Ukraine, fighting was reported to be continuing on Sunday close to the city of Donetsk despite an agreement on Friday to set up a 30km (19 miles) buffer zone as part of the Minsk memorandum.

The government in Kiev said its military forces would not pull back until pro-Russian forces stop firing and Russian troops leave. Russia denies that its forces are involved.

Syrian Civil War: Supreme Military Command

The heirarchy and command structure of the rebels in Syria can be difficult to navigate.  The rebel group that is most likely to get U.S. arms and aid in Syria is the Supreme Military Command.

Western and Gulf Arab backers sought to encourage a centralized rebel leadership, and in December 2012 the Supreme Military Command (SMC) was created. It is also called the Supreme Military Council.

SMC-aligned brigades still keep separate identities, agendas and commands. Some work with hardline Islamist groups that alarm the West, such as Ahrar al-Sham, and al-Qaeda-linked jihadists.

The SMC’s chief-of-staff, Gen. Idris, wanted it to be a more moderate and stronger alternative to the jihadist rebel groups in Syria.  However, Idris was removed from his position as Chief-of-Staff of the FSA’s Supreme Military Council in an announcement on February 16th, 2014, and he was replaced with Brigadier General Leader Abdul-lla al-Bashir.

The SMC is the moderate “darling” of the U.S. State Department.

Let’s try and navigate more through Syrian rebel waters, shall we?

The Free Syrian Army (FSA)

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) is one of the rebel groups under the umbrella group Supreme Military Command.  It was formed in August 2011 by Syrian army deserters based in Turkey, led by Col Riad al-Asaad.

The FSA is also a loose confederation of fighting groups with little operational control over them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “…(T)he success of President Obama’s strategy in Syria clearly depends on the ability of the Syrian Opposition Coalition and the Free Syrian Army to fight ISIS.  The good news is the FSA has established a command center outside the village of Marea in the strategically important province of Aleppo to direct and manage the battle against ISIS in northern Syria.”

“…How can these rebel groups help the U.S. assault on ISIS? Even with the world’s most advanced intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance platforms, the U.S. military still needs ‘eyes on the ground’ to round out the intelligence picture of ISIS’s capabilities, locations and vulnerabilities.”

Martyrs of Syria Brigades

Originally called the Martyrs of Jabal al-Zawiya Brigade, the group was formed in late 2011 in Idlib province. Although its name was changed in mid-2012 to the Martyrs of Syria Brigades to reflect the growing ambitions of its leader, its operations are still focused in north-western Syria.  The Martyrs of Syria Brigades reportedly ascribe to no particular ideology.

Northern Storm Brigade

The Northern Storm Brigade is an Islamist FSA unit that controls an important border crossing between Syria and Turkey. In September 2013, there were deadly clashes between the Northern Storm Brigade and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

John McCain had well-publicized pictures supposedly taken with this group in 2013.

Ahrar Souriya Brigade

The Ahrar Souriya (Free Men of Syria) Brigade, which operates under the SMC, was set up by Col Qassem Saad al-Din, a former air force pilot from the northern town of Rastan.

The number of fighters in these groups is not certain.  For example, the number of fighters in the Free Syrian Army has been estimated to be between 1,000 to 25,000.

War Crimes Accusations

On March 20th, 2012, Human Rights Watch issued an open letter to the opposition (including the FSA), accusing them of carrying out kidnappings, torture and executions and calling on them to halt these unlawful practices.

A story in the New York Times provides further reason to be concerned about the strategy of working with the rebels:

“After more than three years of civil war, there are hundreds of militias fighting President Bashar al-Assad—and one another. Among them, even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.”

“‘You are not going to find this neat, clean, secular rebel group that respects human rights and that is waiting and ready because they don’t exist,’ said Aron Lund, a Syria analyst who edits the Syria in Crisis blog for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace….”

U.S. Politicians Should Be Required To Carry This

U.S. politicians should “concealed carry” this map and information.


Note that much of the Sunni areas are controlled by ISIS.  That’s because ISIS is a Sunni militant group.  The Shia militias are found in the Shia (same as Shi’ite) areas.  Bashar Assad is an Alawite Muslim, related to Shi’ite Muslims.   The ISF are Lebanese Internal Security Forces.

Here is more information about the rebel groups:

SUPREME MILITARY COUNCIL: Syria’s more moderate rebel units, known together as the Free Syrian Army, and the primary object of American aid.

BREAKAWAY FACTIONS: These include several fighting groups with a mix of religious and nationalist ideologies that are highly localized, some of whom broke away from the FSA but still work with them. They include the Syrian Revolutionaries Front led by Jamal Maarouf, also known as Abu Khaled, the Islamic Army headed by Zahran Alloush and Harakat Hazm, reported earlier this year to have received U.S made advanced weapons including TOW missiles.

ISLAMIC FRONT: An alliance of seven powerful conservative and ultraconservative rebel groups that merged in late November. They want to bring Shariah law to Syria and they reject the Syrian National Coalition, but cooperate with some of their fighters on the ground.  U.S. aid could go to some of its factions. The Syrian National Coalition is a coalition of local councils, unions, and tribal groups that support the rebel movement.

Al NUSRA FRONT: Al-Qaida’s branch in Syria. It was declared a terrorist group by the United States.  THIS GROUP SHOULD NOT GET AID.

THE ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND AL-SHAM (ISIS or ISIL): Originally al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq, led by Iraqi militant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. They turned against it because of its brutal tactics, but particularly because it seemed determined to take over the rebel movement for its own aims — creating a transnational extremist state. Al-Qaida’s central command ejected it from the network for its clashes with other rebels.  This group should also not get aid.