By NICK BRAMHILL, IrishCentral Contributing Writer Published Saturday, November 23, 2013, 5:00 AM Updated Saturday, November 23, 2013, 7:57 AM The Military Reaction Force (MRF) shot terrorist suspects on sight in Northern Ireland – whether they were armed or not. Photo by Mirror Amnesty International has called for an inquiry after evidence that a secret British Army hit squad carried out shoot-to-kill missions at the height of The Troubles 1 was revealed. Members of the covert Military Reaction Force (MRF) broke their 40-year silence in a BBC Panorama documentary last night (Thurs) to admit they shot terrorist suspects on sight in Northern Ireland – whether they were armed or not.
The BBC probe unearthed evidence that the shadowy undercover unit killed at least two people, Daniel Rooney and Patrick McVeigh, and injured 13 more people during a five-month period in 1972. According to the documentary, members of the elite plainclothes unit didn’t believe military restrictions on opening fire applied to them and used to cruise republican areas of west Belfast, gunning down IRA 2 members, whether they were armed or not. The shocking revelations have prompted calls from Amnesty International to launch a full-blown inquiry into what it described as “human rights violations and abuses.” Amnesty Northern Ireland director, Patrick Corrigan, said: “The revelations in Panorama underline our call for the UK government to establish a new, over-arching mechanism to investigate human rights violations and abuses in Northern Ireland, whether carried out by paramilitary groups or the security forces. “Victims and bereaved family members have a right to truth and justice. “Such a process must focus not just on those who pulled the trigger, but also those in positions of authority who pulled the strings.” Successive British governments have repeatedly denied a shoot-to-kill policy was operated by security forces during The Troubles.
However, the programme provided evidence that the MRF’s 40-strong unit carried out drive-by shootings of nationalists manning barricades to keep out loyalists. According to the Irish Mirror, one former MRF soldier said: “We were not there to act like an army unit, we were there to act like a terror group.” Highly-trained MRF members were handpicked from elite ranks of the army and were told that they officially didn’t exist as they were tasked with hunting down and killing IRA members, according to the programme. Another former MRF member is quoted as saying: “If you had a player who was a well-known shooter who carried out quite a lot of assassination, it would have been very simple, he had to be taken out.” Some MRF members would even go undercover as road-sweepers or down-and-out alcoholics during their mission, it was claimed.
Tony Le Tissier, a major in the Royal Military Police, said: “They were playing at being bandit, they were meant to be sort of IRA outlaws. “That’s why they were in plain clothes, operating plain vehicles and using a Thompson sub-machine gun.” It is not known how many killings the unit carried out, as much of the documentary evidence is understood to have been destroyed.
However, among those they killed in May 1972, was father-of-six, Patrick McVeigh, whose daughter, Patricia, said: “We want the truth.
We don’t want to stop until we get the truth.” And Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams added: “The BBC programme shines a light on one aspect of Britain’s dirty war in Ireland. “The existence of the MRF and its activities have been known for many years, but the programme contains new information and provides a fresh insight into the use by the British government of counter-gangs and secret military units.” Here s a clip from the BBC: “); } else document.write(“”); document.write(” It may take several minutes for your comment to appear. “); } else if(readCookie(“worldirish”)) document.write(“”); else document.write(“”); References ^ The Troubles (www.irishcentral.com) ^ IRA (www.irishcentral.com)
Private John Hill wasn t coping with his first deployment. Rifle exchanges on the Timorese border, hauling dead children s bodies and the stress of patrol was taking a toll. When the 19-year-old cried openly, he says he was ridiculed by a section commander.
I basically said if you don’t leave me alone I’m going to kill you and he wouldn’t leave me alone so I held my rifle to his head That act was enough to have John Hill restrained, hospitalized and sent home. They put me in a bed that holds you down with straps and they took me in a C130 Hercules German plane back to Australia and they injected me with some kind of sleeping agent. I woke up in the airport and basically ended my career – once I came back to Australia my career was over and I was kicked out the front door that was it.
Watch the video above for the full story. John says he d earlier found his own way to cope with the confronting deployment after a chance meeting with some American troops. I went back into Dili and I met up with some US guys who were using drugs and they offered them to me and I started using them when I was in Dili.” “I was 19-years old and I wasn’t coping very well and these guys were using and so before I went out on an episode I’d just start using at Dili and I’d be using with 4 or 5 blokes and then it made me feel like I could do anything so when I went out on patrol I felt like a million dollars.” Upon his return to Australia, John worked as a nightclub bouncer and debt collector.
Drug use became regular and problematic. The former paratrooper played Russian roulette, injected heroin and then moved on to the amphetamine Ice. Life was chaotic.
I d go into psychosis; I want to hurt people I steal things and I just go on rampages across Victoria or wherever I hurt loved ones and at times I’ve dressed up in my army gear and done some really twisted things.” Inked on John s broad back are the words lost angel . He and a few ex-army mates got matching tattoos in the lost years post-deployment. The striking image gave voice to their hollow worthlessness after discharge from the army.
John found re-integrating difficult and a functional life seemed impossible. After being evicted from a psychiatric ward for former soldiers, John tried drug rehabilitation at a civilian clinic. You can’t fit in.
We’ve just come back from a war zone and here we are in a room full of people who are really broken in a different way. John says, “There’s a lady who might be broken because she’s been bashed from her husband who’s a heroin addict and there’s a guy that’s just been over there in violence who’s still real angry who needs to be with men. Now, he s a few months clean and after countless relapses in the past, determined to remain drug-free.
But nothing will replace the career he loved and lost. I loved it … I loved my career it was awesome.” LISTED AGAINST HIS WISHES But not all former soldiers enlist voluntarily.
Vietnam Veteran Kevin Brooks was conscripted into the Australian Army against his wishes. He was deployed to Vietnam; a reluctant infantry soldier aged 19. Kevin had tried alcohol before he left for war, and returned a hardened drinker.
Ya bloody oath … if you didn’t drink you weren’t in it. The pubs were open.
Everybody went there because you had nowhere else to go and away you went you went in there and that was it. It’s fair enough to say even a non-drinker became a drinker. Read the statements from the ADF and DVA below.
Kevin point-blank refuses to discuss the traumas he witnessed while serving. Whatever happened in the jungles of Vietnam led to a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic alcoholism. Now that I’ve retired I sit there and I drink,” he says. “And I’m not proud of it and I don’t want to do it.
In the last five, six, seven years, (I’ve drunk) two bottles of port and a couple of stubbies a day and that’s cutting it down from what it used to be. Kevin chugs the port straight from a bottle and washes it down with a swig of beer. He spends most afternoons on his back veranda, but wishes things were different.
And he’s tried. Kevin s forgotten how many times he s attempted to get well through psyche ward admissions, 28-day detox and rehabilitation. Like Timor veteran John Hill, Kevin says there should be a specific rehabilitation for ex-service men and women.
I don’t need to sit in hospital all day looking and listening to bloody videos all day and talking about stuff I need to get out and do something and there’s nothing there. He says an absence of follow-up treatment also prevents long-term recovery. You could say 15 times in the last eight or nine years I (have) been a month without a drink but there’s no follow up you just sit and listen and do this and that.
But when you come home, what have you got? You got nothing you just sit there. Melbourne-based addiction therapist Richard Smith says mixing returned soldiers and civilians is counter-productive to effective rehabilitation.
What happens when you get a serviceman in – the traumas they’re sharing are significantly greater than the traumas of a civilian. They don’t want to hear about the 9-year old girl shot in the face with an M-16 you know. Twenty-eight days is insignificant in treating people with complex issues and complex trauma.
Mr Smith advocates a new approach to rehabilitating returned service men and women. The ideal model would be veterans only – these guys need to be 24-hours supervised. And (they need to be) supported (through) that initial phase that would be three months.
They would then go into transitional housing – that transitional housing would then reintegrate them back into civilian life. EARLY INTERVENTION ‘PROVING SUCCESSFUL’ But the Department Of Veterans Affairs defends existing drug and alcohol treatment policy. Mental health advisor and psychologist Dr Stephanie Hodgson says early intervention is proving successful in preventing many drug and alcohol users transitioning to full-blown addiction.
She says the theory of separating veterans and civilians isn t as effective as it sounds. “The problem with the therapeutic community, when we have such a dispersed community, is where would you place the therapeutic community? “The issue for veterans, and what we know with alcohol and addiction, is one of the most important components is that they actually engage back with the community they live in. Social support is absolutely crucial for someone getting better with an addiction problem. She says the overall health of returning service men and women is sound.
While people are serving, because of the fitness culture, we just don’t see the same level of problems. When you have eight months of abstinence you have a highly fitness-orientated culture; on the whole it’s a very healthy group. John Hammond advocates on behalf of returned service men and women through an organisation known as “Young Soldiers”.
He says it’s time that resources are directed to veterans-only drug and alcohol rehabilitation. The drug and alcohol issues – or 99.99 per cent of it – relates to the PTSD and the mental issues these people are coming back from deployment with. The horrors these young people have in their heads it’s just incredible.
Mr Hammond says he is aware of soldiers serving in Afghanistan returning to Australia after using heroin while on deployment. He calls it self-medication. Troops around the place are being discharged for their positive drug tests and are getting out without being diagnosed with their issues and that’s a hard pill to swallow too – but that’s the rules.
Heroin can be a problem – it’s freely available and it’s taken as a self-medication. It’s a problem therapist Richard Smith says he s also encountered. Now what we see is servicemen returning from theatres like Afghanistan with a heroin problem.
And because there’s not much heroin here – there’s a lot more amphetamines and Ice – they swap the witch for the bitch and they start using a drug that, mate if they’ve got some difficulties with anger, this is going to bring it out Defence denies Australian soldiers using heroin or opiates in Afghanistan is a problem. It says its aware of only one incident involving the suspected use of an opiate by a soldier while on deployment, and that soldier was returned. It says drug use isn’t tolerated and while voluntary drug and alcohol awareness courses are available.
Random and targeted testing is used as a deterrent. Upon return from operational deployment, ADF personnel undergo a psychological assessment providing an opportunity to discuss any health issues. But a Defence spokesperson confirmed there are no questions relating specifically to illicit drug use contained in any of these screen(ing)s”.
One thing Vietnam Veteran Kevin Brooks now has is time. He s volunteering part time, but still spends hours on the back veranda, mostly pondering the birth-date lottery which thrust him into a life-changing war. More so now than I did then.
Why was I sent over to that place to shoot people or hunt down people? Why was I sent over there when it was nothing to do with me? “I was sent there to do what I was sent there to do, but if I wasn’t sent there it would have happened and what would have been the difference? What would have changed?
Music thanks to John Schumann and Universal Music Publishing. Used with permission. STATEMENT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN’S AFFAIRS The mental health of veterans and their families is a high priority for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans don t have to suffer in silence. Help is available and help can make a difference. DVA provides access to a broad range of mental health support, geared towards early intervention and treatment.
If a veteran or their family member needs mental health support, they can: visit DVA s online mental health portal At Ease www.at-ease.dva.gov.au 1 . At Ease can help veterans, ADF personnel, and family members identify the symptoms of not coping, including alcohol and substance misuse. It offers self-management advice, self-help tools, mobile apps, videos, and pathways to professional care and treatment options; talk to the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS).
VVCS is a specialised, free and confidential Australia-wide service and may be contacted 24 hours a day on 1800 011 046; and talk to their GP, who may also refer the client to a psychologist, psychiatrist, mental health social worker or mental health occupational therapist, if needed. For eligible veterans with diagnosed post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or depression, DVA will pay for this treatment without the need to apply for compensation. As of 1 July 2014, this will be extended to include treatment for alcohol and substance misuse disorders.
DVA is prepared and ready to provide services to meet the need of veterans with addictions including alcohol and substance misuse. This includes online support, GP services, counselling and psychological support and psychiatric services, as well as inpatient hospital services (including detoxification programs) for those who need them. STATEMENT FROM THE AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE FORCE Comprehensive physical and mental health care and services are provided to all ADF members throughout their service life.
This includes programs associated with the topic of your story that is, deployment, PTSD and alcohol and other drug use. Alcohol Evidence from the ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study (2010) suggests that when compared with the Australian community, Defence members demonstrated a significantly lower level of alcohol disorders, with most of the disorders in males aged 18-27. Younger ADF females (aged 18-27) had much lower rates of alcohol disorders than other young people their age.
The Independent Advisory Panel on Alcohol Use in Defence (Hamilton Review 2011) highlighted that the majority of the risk, cost and harm associated with alcohol use in the ADF arises from participation in short-term risky drinking and associated behaviour, rather than from the small population of alcohol dependent personnel. Responding to the Hamilton Review s recommendations, Defence is applying a stepped care approach to alcohol management, in order to provide several avenues for intervention, ranging from opportunities for screening and brief counselling, to medically supervised pharmacotherapies integrated with out-patient counselling programs, through to referral for external residential treatment programs. The Hamilton Review also flagged a number of spotlights or focus areas which pose particular risk for ADF members in terms of alcohol and other drug use.
Risky alcohol use is more likely to occur following deployment or as part of an individual s response to the pressures, stressors and traumatic experiences of their recent deployment experiences. Alcohol screening, assessment and necessary intervention is part of the post-deployment screening program, and also included in ADF members periodic health examinations as a means of assessing alcohol issues related to deployment and employment. The ADF recently revised the Homecoming Guide for ADF personnel returning from deployment to increase awareness of the risks related to alcohol use in that situation and the links with mental health conditions such as depression and PTSD.
As part of the ADF mental health reform program and the cultural change process Defence has undertaken significant work to improve our understanding of alcohol and other drug use in the ADF and develop prevention, education and treatment programs in line with evidenced based practice. Strategies recognise the shared responsibility of the organisation, its leaders and individual ADF personnel and reflect our commitment to minimising alcohol ‘ and drug ‘related harm. The ADF Alcohol Management Strategy (ADFAMS) is part of the Pathway to Change reform program and arises from the recommendations of the Hamilton Review 2011.
The Australian Drug Foundation has worked with Defence to implement this strategy. In addition to reviewing and revising all education, training and treatment programs, the ADF is working with the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) on a number of initiatives, one of which is the recent release of a smart phone application, On Track with the Right Mix, to assist ADF members and veterans to monitor and modify their drinking. Other Drugs Illicit or prohibited drug use in the ADF is low compared to the Australian community.
The ADF operates a Prohibited Substance Testing Program. Random and targeted tests are conducted on operations and within the garrison environment. Positive tests may result in disciplinary and/or administrative action which may lead to termination of appointment or discharge.
Defence recognises that illicit drug use is often associated with underlying mental health conditions and assessment is undertaken accordingly and appropriate treatment offered. Discharge as a result of positive testing for illicit drugs does not occur without an offer of treatment or referral to specialist services. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is provided by ADF mental health professionals and specialists, providers external to Defence, and through referral to PTSD treatment programs accredited with DVA and conducted at private hospitals around Australia.
In collaboration with the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health, the ADF has provided clinical training in evidence-based assessment and treatment of PTSD to mental health professionals and specialists for more than ten years. Treatments typically consist of a combination of psychotherapy and medication. The ADF Rehabilitation Program provides comprehensive case management to support members return to work in current or different duties or trade or, if this is not possible, they will be rehabilitated, medically separated and supported in their transition from the ADF.
Support for deployed personnel The mental health support for deployed ADF personnel is designed to strengthen their ability to cope with the challenges of deployment and effectively transition to life back in Australia. These programs include psychological preparation prior to deployment, support from embedded health staff and fly ‘in specialist teams on operations, and post deployment programs. A key component of post-deployment mental health support is a comprehensive psychological screening program comprised of the Return to Australia Psychological Screen (RtAPS) and Post-Operational Psychological Screen (POPS).
In addition to psychological tests, both the RtAPS and POPS provide ADF personnel with the opportunity to talk to a mental health specialist about their deployment and post-deployment reintegration. RtAPS is provided to every ADF member departing the Area of Operations at the end of their deployment. POPS is conducted three to six months after their return.
If the RtAPS or POPS identifies that a member requires further support, he or she is referred to mental health services. Information sessions on reintegration issues are also conducted for partners and families, and there is the opportunity for an adult family member to attend POPS with the ADF member and discuss any concerns. In addition, there are programs of early intervention, treatment and rehabilitation for those developing physical and/or mental health conditions as a result of their deployment.
Post-deployment mental health services are available through Defence and DVA to ensure serving and ex-serving personnel can access treatment throughout Australia. Regional Mental Health Teams (RMHT) and Mental Health Psychology Sections (MHPS) have been established across Australia as part of Joint Health Command (JHC). Access to additional specialist mental health professionals such as psychiatrists and clinical psychologists is provided through both on base and off base arrangements.
Personnel and their families are also able to access the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) throughout Australia. In February 2013, Defence and DVA signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Cooperative Delivery of Care and Support to Eligible Persons. The MOU introduces the concept of the Support Continuum , a system of care that extends across both departments to deliver seamless care and support to our servicemen and women, and their dependants.
Under the Prohibited Substance Testing Program, no Army members have tested positive for heroin whilst deployed to Afghanistan. Defence is, however, aware of one incident involving the suspected use of an opiate substance by a soldier in Afghanistan in 2010. The soldier was returned to Australia.
Defence does not tolerate the use or involvement of prohibited substances by ADF personnel. The use of prohibited substances is not compatible with an effective and efficient Defence Force and the capacity to undermine safety, discipline, morale, security and reputation. Education and prevention is the best method to deal with drug taking.
As such, Defence conducts mandatory annual Alcohol and Drug Awareness Training for all ADF personnel. Additionally, Defence makes available voluntary courses for personnel to undertake such as the Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs Program Awareness Course for further education. As a deterrent measure the ADF conducts ongoing random drug testing of ADF members on operations and within the garrison environment.
Positive tests may result in disciplinary and/or administrative action which may lead to termination of appointment or discharge. Tests conducted under the Prohibited Substance Testing Program include both random testing (where personnel are randomly selected for testing) and targeted testing (where information is considered and personnel are targeted for testing on the basis of information brought to the attention of the command). ADF members are expected to hold themselves to a set of values these values are not consistent with breaking the law and supporting criminal activities.
Using illicit drugs or obtaining non prescribed steroids supports criminality and the use of these types of drugs is not only dangerous, but threatens the member s career and financial well-being. The ADF remains on track to complete its mission and hand over operational responsibility for security for Uruzgan to the ANSF by the end of this year. By year s end, we will see approximately 1000 Australian personnel return home.
Currently there are approximately 1650 personnel in Afghanistan, which is above the average of 1550 as there are up to 150 additional personnel undertaking redeployment, repatriation and remediation activities. The ADF in 2014 will commit an average of up to 400 personnel, including: instructors, advisors, support staff and force protection elements assigned to the ANA Office Academy in Kabul; ongoing advisory support to the ANA s 205 Corps Headquarters in Kandahar; ongoing commitment of advisors to the Logistics Training Advisory Team in Kabul; a continuation of embed staff within a range of roles in ISAF Headquarters; and up to 18 Special Forces and other ADF personnel to the ISAF Special Operations Advisory Group in 2014 The majority of these personnel will complete six month deployments resulting in and average of approximately 800 ADF personnel deploying to and returning from Afghanistan during 2014. The Return to Australia Psychological Screen and the Post Deployment Health Screen are provided to ADF personnel departing the Area of Operations at the end of their deployment.
The Post-Operational Psychological Screen is conducted three to six months after their return, and the Post Deployment Health Assessment is conducted three months after their return. Whilst there are no questions relating specifically to illicit drug use contained in any of these screens, there is the opportunity for the individual to raise any issues impacting on their physical and/or mental health with the health or mental health professional. As stated above, all ADF personnel are subject to random and targeted drug testing both in Australia and on deployment.
Defence is well aware of the large body of medical evidence that PTSD is commonly associated with alcohol problems. Members who are being assessed for possible PTSD routinely undergo a comprehensive mental health assessment which includes a detailed history of alcohol and other drug usage. Members who require treatment for PTSD do so in approved programs in line with the national PTSD treatment guidelines that contain an appropriate focus on possible associated drug and alcohol problems.
References ^ www.at-ease.dva.gov.au (www.at-ease.dva.gov.au)
Britain is one of just 19 countries that still recruit 16-year-olds to the armed forces.
A new report claims that younger recruits are more likely to suffer from PTSD, alcohol problems and suicide than those who join as adults.
This video tells the story of David Buck who joined the army at 17 but now feels he was conned by misleading recruitment marketing.
Cpl. Jamie Peters RLC “Sunset Soldiers”: Military specialists from 21 Engineer Regiment deconstruct a building at Patrol Base Nahidullah in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, at sunset. The base was completely stripped down and the land handed back to a farmer.
By Baruch Ben-Chorin, Producer, NBC News British troops engaged in a Close Quarters Marksmanship training exercise. The short film, produced by Sgt. Lloyd, was the winner in the video category of the British army’s annual photographic competition.
LONDON No one is closer to life in the military than the troops themselves, so there are few who can capture their images as intimately. The British Army employs a small group of combat military photographers only 37 in the whole army to capture life on the front lines. The soldiers go through an eight-month-long intensive photojournalism training course before they’re turned out into the field.
Up till now, the British Army has largely kept their photographers’ work to themselves. But this week winning entries in the British Army Photographic Competition went on display to the public. The photos show different aspects of army life, operations, portraits, training and of course, the ceremonial duties unique to the British military.
Cpl. Jamie Peters, who once served in the British Army Royal Corps of Engineers, won the overall competition for a portfolio of images he shot during a six-month deployment in Afghanistan. His and his colleagues’ images are on display at London’s National Army Museum 1 . ”We do get a lot of freedom to interpret how best to show the stories ourselves,” he said in an interview with NBCNews.com. “Personally I prefer to cover the life in the army For instance the ‘Sunset Soldiers’ were engineers who were there taking down the infrastructure that the guys had set up in that place and returning it to the land-owner. “Because I used to be a Royal Engineer, I know how hard these guys work during those operations working dawn-till-dusk, with full body armor and helmets, really, really tough manual labor so I sympathized with the guys who were up on top of that roof.” Cpl.Jamie Peters RLC “Hot Under the Collar”: A Military Working Dog (MWD) attached to the Welsh Guards takes a rest from the heat under an umbrella during an operation in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
Cpl. Jamie Peters RLC “Celtic Warrior”: Pvt. Ross Cunningham, from Delta Company The 1st Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland (1SCOTS), cleans his personal weapon at Forward Operating Base Shawqat after a patrol to an Afghan National Army checkpoint.
1SCOTS, affectionately known as “The Jocks,” mentor and advise the Afghan National Army in conducting operations within Helmand Province. Peters, 34, is one of the elite group of British combat military photographers. “Because there are so few of us competitively we all try to outdo each other, and that keeps the standard very high,” he said. “Every bomb is different” said Sgt. James Slade, describing how he deals with Improvised Explosive Devices.
This short film, produced by Sgt. Lloyd, was the runner-up in the video category of the British army’s annual photographic competition. Peters was embedded with a unit in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province when he took the “Celtic Warrior” photograph of a Scottish soldier cleaning his rifle.
The image won best overall image in the competition. “When we returned to base after patrol the guys just clean their rifles and get their equipment ready in case they need to go straight out in a hurry,” he said. “That’s the thing with being a photographer: When all the guys are back on their down time you still have a job to do; you are photographing that as well.” When it comes to the dangers of combat, Peters and his colleagues have an advantage over civilian photographers. “Because we are military photographers we know what to do when we get shot at and we know what’s going to happen next,” he said. That doesn’t mean Peters and his colleagues are there to get into a fight, however. “The only time that we would put the camera down and pick up the rifle is if there is enemy fire that comes close to you and hits close to you.” See more images from the competition below. Cpl Wes Calder RLC “Powder Room”: Pvt.
Craig Leaman from 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1 PWRR) clears part of a trench system during a dawn attack while on Exercise Askari Thunder 6 in Kenya. Sgt. Rupert Frere RLC “Carl”: Cpl.
Carl Hines Royal Artillery provides covering fire while members of the 4 Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF) cross open ground on Operation QALB. QALB is a joint ISAF and ANSF operation to find enemy caches and disturb insurgent supply chains in Afghanistan. Tropper Chris Wade “Snap VCP”: Two soldiers and an interpreter from the Queen’s Royal Lancers (QRL) question a motorcyclist in northern Helmand Province, Afghanistan, while his young daughter looks on.
Sgt. Adrian Harlen “Changing of Queen’s Life Guard” (left): The Life Guards of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR) ride in Horse Guards Parade in London despite frosty winter weather that disrupted much of the capital.”The Baroness” (right): Brig. Maj.
Lt. Col. Simon Soskin stands between the pillars at St.
Paul’s Cathedral in London during the funeral of Baroness Margaret Thatcher. Sgt. Adrian Harlen “Goodbye Kiss”: Capt.
Charlie Fitzroy, Troop Leader of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, gets a farewell kiss from Thomas, a 22-year-old gelding who was retiring after 19 years of service.
Thomas was famous for giving kisses to the men of the Life Guard Squadron in his stables at Hyde Park Barracks in London.
References ^ National Army Museum (www.nam.ac.uk)
Prince Harry visits Special Air Service Regiment Australian Government Department of Defence His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales today visited the Special Air Service Regiment (SASR) at its home base at Campbell Barracks in Perth where he met past and present members of the unit, toured the base and honoured fallen members at the Garden of Reflection. Accompanied by the Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Tony Abbott MP, the Commanding Officer of the SASR and the Regimental Sergeant Major of the SASR, Prince Harry joined the families of fallen SASR members killed on operations or in training, to lay wreaths in their memory. Prince Harry also met with members of the extended Regimental family including the SAS Resources Fund, the SAS Association, the SAS Historical Foundation and the SAS Auxiliary, all of which provide critical support to the unit and its members.
Commanding Officer of the SASR, Lieutenant Colonel G (identity protected) said the visit from Prince Harry was both an honour and a privilege. It has been 10 years since Prince Harry last visited Australia and we are humbled and grateful that he has made the time to join us, Lieutenant Colonel G said. Prince Harry knows what it means to serve his nation on operations and most importantly what it means to the families of those serving.
Today s visit by His Royal Highness and the Prime Minister represents a unique opportunity to recognise the broader SAS Regimental family that provides the back up and support at home. Families play a critical role for those serving in the SASR and indeed the whole of the ADF, and we are thankful that the families of some of our serving, former and fallen members were able to be here today. Following the laying of wreaths, His Royal Highness went on a short tour of the Barracks where he spoke to unit members and instructors about accelerated learning initiatives and advanced training techniques, before sharing lunch with unit members, their families and representatives of the extended SASR family.
Prince Harry was also accompanied at lunch by the Governor of Western Australia, His Excellency Malcolm McCusker, AC, CVO, QC. Images from Prince Harry s visit to the Special Air Service Regiment will be available after 7:00pm (AEDT) today at the following link http://images.defence.gov.au/S20131647 1 Media contact: Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999 The claims and opinions made in this article are not endorsed by, and are not necessarily those of, ForeignAffairs.co.nz or Multimedia Investments Ltd. Also in no event shall ForeignAffairs.co.nz and Multimedia Investments Ltd be responsible or liable, directly or indirectly, for any damage or loss caused or alleged to be caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the above content.
References ^ http://images.defence.gov.au/S20131647 (images.defence.gov.au)
Originally posted here:
Prince Harry visits Special Air Service Regiment ForeignAffairs.co.nz
International pressure has been building for a military strike on Syria in the wake of an alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb. The West has laid the blame at the feet of President Assad, as UN inspectors probe the site of the attack. Wednesday, August 28 15:47 GMT: We are now at a more alert position…
Turkey will take whatever measures necessary within the framework of its own strategic interests, Davutoglu said, adding that all options remained open on possible international action. China s Foreign Ministry has advised Chinese citizens to refrain from traveling to Syria, citing escalating tensions in the country. A statement published on the ministry s website also advised Chinese citizens remaining in Syria to exercise caution, stay in contact with the Chinese embassy and to leave the country as soon as possible.
15:29 GMT: Turkey has put its armed forces on alert ahead of a possible Western missile strike against Syria, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. We are now at a more alert position… Turkey will take whatever measures necessary within the framework of its own strategic interests, Davutoglu said, adding that all options remained open on the possible international action.
15:18 GMT: No concrete decision on possible military action against Syria was taken at the NATO Council meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, Itar-Tass reports. After the meeting, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO condemned the alleged August 21 chemical attack in Syria, and said that information available from a wide variety of sources points to the Syrian regime as responsible for the use of chemical weapons in these attacks. This is a clear breach of longstanding international norms and practice.
Any use of such weapons is unacceptable and cannot go unanswered. Those responsible must be held accountable, Rasmussen said.
15:08 GMT: The Russian Embassy in Syria has opened a 24-hour hotline for any Russian citizens remaining in the country. Russians who find themselves in a difficult situation can call the number 099-124-09-99, the embassy said in a statement on its website.
14:35 GMT: Britain s National Security Council (NSC) has agreed the world should not stand idly by after the unacceptable use of chemical weapons in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron said. The NSC has blamed the government of Bashar Assad for the attack.
14:29 GMT: A report by Bloomberg citing an unnamed UN official has claimed that Syrian President Bashar Assad s brother Maher is suspected of authorizing the use of chemical weapons in the August 21 incident. Assad s younger brother, who commands the Syrian Republican Guard and the Army s 4th Armored Division and is portrayed in the report as a shadowy figure, may have allegedly ordered the attack without the president s consent.
Should Maher Assad be found a culprit of this brash action, a Republican Guard stronghold may become the target of the Western missile strike instead of the presidential palace, the official reportedly said.
14:20 GMT: A spokesman for Russia s Foreign Ministry said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov met in The Hague to discuss the UN probe of the alleged chemical weapons use in Syria, as well as the preparations to the Geneva-2 peace conference.
13:58 GMT: Israel s armed forces are deploying all of their missile defenses as a precaution against possible Syrian retaliatory attacks in case Western powers carry out a strike on Syria, Israeli Army Radio reported Wednesday. In light of the recent occurrences in the region, the IDF is taking the necessary defense measures to safeguard the state of Israel, Reuters reported a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as saying. Neither did elaborate on which military deployments are taking place.
13:54 GMT: Iraq has put its security forces on high alert ahead of an expected strike on Syria, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said. All political and security powers in Baghdad, the provinces and all over Iraq, are being put on the highest level of alert, Reuters reported al-Maliki as saying in a televised statement Wednesday.
13:45 GMT: Damascus has handed over proof to UN inspectors that Assad s regime did not deploy chemical weapons, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Al-Mikdad told reporters Wednesday. Syrian government forces have never used chemical weapons such claims are just a pretext.
We have proof of this, which we passed to the inspectors of the UN commission, Al-Mikdad said.
12:08 GMT: Missile strikes against Syria could lead to chemical weapons getting into the wrong hands, said Alexander Yakovenko, Russia s ambassador to the UK.
11:49 GMT: Russia s Foreign Ministry said it was too soon to discuss measures against Syria by the UN Security Council before the UN investigators report on the alleged chemical weapons attack.
11:17 GMT: Saudi Arabia s armed forces have been placed on high alert amid widespread expectations that Western governments are planning to carry out a military strike against Syria in the coming days.
11:14 GMT: The French parliament is to hold an extraordinary session later Wednesday to discuss the situation in Syria, Reuters cited government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem as saying. “The president has taken the decision to summon parliament on Wednesday to assess the situation in Syria,” she said after a Cabinet meeting.
10:59 GMT: German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle urged members of the UN Security Council, including Russia, to back the UK resolution on Syria expected to be proposed later Wednesday. The resolution will condemn the chemical weapon attacks allegedly carried out by the Assad government and authorize necessary measures to protect civilians.
10:32 GMT: The UN s Syria envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, said that international law is clear that a Security Council resolution is required for military action.
10:16 GMT: American and British warships deployed in the eastern Mediterranean may carry out a strike on Syria using cruise missiles as soon as in the early hours of Friday, according to Fox News quoting unknown military sources.
9:40 GMT: Israeli intelligence has reportedly intercepted a conversation between Syrian officials concerning the use of chemical weapons, an unnamed former Mossad official told German magazine Focus. The content of the conversation was relayed to the US, the ex-official underlined.
9:20 GMT: The UK has drafted a resolution condemning the chemical weapons attack allegedly carried out by Bashar Assad forces and authorizing “necessary measures” to protect civilian population. The document is to be presented later on Wednesday at a meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council in New York.
9:16 GMT: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has said that the UN inspection team in Syria needs time to do its job.
7:37 GMT: An al-Qaeda linked group has threatened a volcano of revenge against the Syrian government and military targets in retaliation for the suspected chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb last week, Reuters reports. “The meeting factions decided to carry out the “Volcano of Revenge” invasion in response to the regime’s massacres against our people in Eastern Ghouta, the last of which was the chemical weapons massacre,” the SITE Monitoring Group quotes a statement from a branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as saying. “They have decided to strike the main joints of the regime in imprisoned Damascus, including security branches, support and supply points, training centres, and infrastructure,” it continued. The August 26 statement followed a meeting between the ISIL and eight Syrian factions.
05:45 GMT: David Cameron and Barack Obama have discussed the Syrian crisis in a phone conversation. It comes amid the UK and the US considering intervention into the country over the allegations that the Syrian authorities used chemical weapons against the population something the Bashar Assad government denies.
03:12 GMT: Foreign Policy Magazine reports that US intelligence has intercepted communication that allegedly proves that government forces used nerve agent in the attack in Damascus last Wednesday. The publication claims that after the attack an official at the Syrian Ministry of Defense exchanged panicked phone calls with a leader of a chemical weapons unit, demanding answers for a nerve agent strike.” The publication speculates that this is the evidence which makes the US and its allies certain that Assad troops were responsible for the attack.
00:34 GMT: A powerful explosion has reportedly rocked central Damascus. There was no immediate information of any casualties. Tuesday, August 27 23:42 GMT: Jordanian authorities have reportedly begun evacuating residents from the border areas with Syria.
22:16 GMT: The Syrian Electronic Army has gained access to a number of international domains including those belonging to Twitter, the New York Times and Huffington Post UK. As a result of an attack on Melbourne IT registry, the SEA managed to alter both contact details and domain name servers. The Times website was brought down for several hours.
21:32 GMT: Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has warned that military intervention in Syria could lead to a “disastrous war,” and questioned the Syrian government s responsibility for the alleged chemical attack. We re on the brink of the beginning of an open war against Syria. We re not going to abandon the Syrian people, he said.
21:00 GMT: A Russian Emergencies Ministry s plane has departed from Syria with 89 passengers on board, mostly women and children, who expressed a desire to leave the country.
20:26 GMT: At least ten people have been killed, according to Syria’s opposition when government forces used phosphorus bombs and napalm in Aleppo on Monday. “Assad’s military aircraft have hit populated areas with internationally prohibited phosphorus bombs and napalm,” the opposition coalition said in a statement. Dozens more have been injured, Reuters reports.
19:58 GMT: Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have discussed in detail the situation in Syria. The phone conversation was initiated by the American side, the Foreign Ministry said in statement published on its website.
Kerry voiced his stance about the alleged chemical attack, which, he stated, was based on information from reliable sources. He blamed the Assad government for the incidents where chemical weapons were used. Lavrov reiterated Moscow s position that conclusions should be based only on expert analysis.
He underlined that the work of the group of UN investigators in Syria should get maximum support.
19:48 GMT: A top UN official visiting Iran for the past two days has urged it to help bring the warring sides of the Syrian conflict to the negotiating table in Geneva, said the UN. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman shared the U.N. position that Iran, given its influence and leadership in the region, has an important role to play and a responsibility in helping to bring the Syrian parties to the negotiating table,” said U.N.
spokesman Farhan Haq. Feltman discussed with Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, “the worsening situation on the ground in Syria, including the U.N.’s grave concerns about the potential use of chemical weapons and how the U.N. can work together with Iran and other states to end the bloodshed and suffering of the Syrian people.” 18:28 GMT: French President Francois Hollande will meet with the head of Syria’s main opposition group Ahmad al-Jarba on Thursday, said the presidency, AFP reported.
17:38 GMT: 17:35 GMT: US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have agreed that the use of chemical weapons in Syria deserved a firm response from the international community, a spokesman for Harper said in a statement. Both leaders agreed that significant use of chemical weapons merits a firm response from the international community in an effective and timely manner, the statement read.
17:17 GMT: The US will release a public version of an intelligence report on chemical weapons use in Syria in the coming days, White House spokesman Jay Carney said. He added that the options the US government is considering are not about regime change in Syria, but will come as a response to the violation of an international norm.
A decision about the use of military force has not been made. The president is reviewing his options, plural, the White House spokesman said.
16:33 GMT: French President Francoise Hollande has announced he will hold a defense council meeting on Wednesday, and that he will brief the French parliament about it.
16:23 GMT: UK Prime Minister David Cameron has called for specific military action against Syria, saying the UK is not considering getting involved in a Middle East war. Cameron said no decision has yet been taken on possible responses to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.
However, he added that the world should not stay idly by, following what he said was a chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime.
16:04 GMT: Britain is not seeking to topple Assad, UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was quoted as saying by AFP. What we’re considering is a serious response… What we’re not considering is regime change, trying to topple the Assad regime, Clegg said 15:57 GMT: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has criticized the actions of Western countries in the Islamic world, amid reports of pressure building for a military strike against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The West is behaving toward the Islamic world like a monkey with a grenade, Rogozin wrote on his Twitter page, using a farcical Russian expression that describes something unpredictable and dangerous. Rogozin is known for using colorful impromptu language on his Twitter account, which he started tweeting from when he was Russia s ambassador to NATO in Brussels.
15:31 GMT: French President Francoise Hollande said France is ready to punish those behind the chemical massacre in Syria, and said that his government believes Damascus carried out the attack. France is going to increase military support to the Syrian opposition, the president said, addressing foreign ambassadors in Paris.
International law must evolve with the times… I recognize the responsibility to protect civilians, Hollande was quoted as saying by France 24.
14:56 GMT: NATO supports the ongoing investigation of the UN inspectors, but will continue to closely monitor developments and review the evidence that is presented both by the UN and from other sources, a NATO official said in an e-mail statement to RT. NATO member countries are deeply concerned by mounting evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the official said, adding that NATO has consistently expressed its grave concern about Syria s chemical stockpiles and any possible use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
14:44 GMT: US President Barack Obama has not yet made the decision to take military action against the Syrian government in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack, a senior White House administration official told Reuters.
14:39 GMT: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel is not involved in Syrian conflict, but would respond with force to any attacks coming from Syria. We are not a party to this civil war in Syria but if we identify any attempt to attack us we will respond and we will respond forcefully, Netanyahu said after holding security consultations in Tel Aviv, adding that Israel is prepared for any scenario.
14:34 GMT: France’s government believes that there is no doubt a chemical attack took place in Syria, and that President Assad s forces were behind it, a diplomatic source told Reuters.
14:19 GMT: 14:06 GMT: The Arab League said the perpetrators of last week s attack in Syria should face international justice, and urged the UN to act. The League said in a statement it holds Syrian President Bashar Assad responsible for the alleged chemical attack near Damascus.
The statement, which was issued after a meeting in Cairo, was pushed through with strong backing from Saudi Arabia and Qatar, diplomatic sources told Reuters.
13:46 GMT: A Russian cargo plane carrying humanitarian aid has landed in Syria, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said. The plane, which delivered some 20 tons of food aid to the Mediterranean port city of Latakia, will also evacuate 180 citizens of former Soviet countries who have made clear a desire to leave the country, including 100 Russians, the ministry added.
13:13 GMT: 12:41 GMT: A UN spokesperson has announced that the planned visit to the site of last week s alleged chemical weapons attack has been postponed over safety fears.
12:29 GMT: The US is ready to act immediately, should President Barack Obama order military action against Syria, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a television interview with the BBC on Tuesday. We have moved assets in place to be able to fulfill and comply with whatever option the president wishes to take, Hagel said during a trip to Brunei, adding that the military was ready to respond just like that.
12:26 GMT: Russia on Tuesday warned that military intervention in Syria could have catastrophic consequences for the whole region and called on the international community to show prudence. Attempts to bypass the Security Council, and once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region, are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. We call on our American partners and all members of the world community to demonstrate prudence and strict observance of international law, especially the fundamental principles of the UN Charter, he said.
12:20 GMT: Western powers have told the Syrian opposition a strike is to be expected within days, sources who attended a meeting between Western envoys and the Syrian National Coalition told Reuters. The Syrian opposition has already provided Western governments with a list of suggested targets for missile strikes, they said. According to the sources, such strikes would aim to deter further chemical attacks.
Despite the impending attack, the Syrian opposition was advised by Western governments to prepare for the proposed Geneva-2 peace conference, the sources said. The opposition was told in clear terms that action to deter further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime could come as early as in the next few days, and that they should still prepare for peace talks at Geneva, one of the sources was quoted as saying.
12:07 GMT: Britain s parliament will be recalled Thursday to vote on the UK s government s response to the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, Prime Minister David Cameron said. British armed forces are preparing an emergency plan in case of armed response to the attack, Downing Street has announced Tuesday.
The international community must respond to the incident in Syria, Cameron s spokesman said.
11:56 GMT: NATO countries will discuss the situation in Syria at the alliance s headquarters in Brussells, Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino has announced. Any military strike against Syria must first be authorized by the UN Security Council, Bonino stressed. Italy will not take active part in any military action…
beyond the context of the Security Council, which for us is and remains the only point of legal reference that cannot be ignored, the minister said.
11:44 GMT: Jordan will not be used as a launchpad for military intervention in Syria, a senior Jordanian government official told AFP after a meeting of Western and Muslim army chiefs in Amman. Jordan s position has not changed. Jordanian territory will not be used as a launchpad for any military action against Damascus, the official said on condition of anonymity, referring to Amman s repeated calls for political solution in Syria.
There won t be any public announcement of the results of the talks in Jordan because of the nature of the meeting, the official added.
11:00 GMT: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged all sides in Syrian conflict to give safe passage and access to the UN chemical weapons investigation team.
10:17 GMT: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said that no country in the world uses weapons of mass destruction against its own people, in a press conference in Damascus. He denied claims that the Syrian government had delayed the UN inspectors probe of the Ghouta site.
1 UN team did not ask to go to site until Saturday, said Muallem, stressing that government permission was granted on Sunday. He described the use of chemical weapons as an excuse for foreign powers to intervene and warned Syria would retaliate if attacked.
We have two options: either to surrender, or to defend ourselves with the means at our disposal. The second choice is the best: we will defend ourselves, the minister said.
10:00 GMT: British Prime Minister David Cameron has said that any decision on Syria will be taken under a strict international framework. Cameron s words appeared to contradict a statement made Monday by his foreign secretary, William Hague, who told the BBC that the international community could intervene in Syria without the unanimous backing of the UN Security Council.
09:50 GMT: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has decried last week s supposed chemical attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta as a crime against humanity. “This is a crime against humanity and a crime against humanity should not go unanswered, what needs to be done must be done. Today, it is clear the international community is faced with a test,” Davutoglu told reporters.
09:45 GMT: Foreign Affairs Committee chairman of the Russian Duma, Aleksey Pushkov posted on his Twitter, alleging the US had already made the decision to strike Syria and they had gone too far. The decision for a massive military strike on Syria has basically already been made.
The US has gone too far with its rhetoric to go back now, wrote Pushkov.
09:30 GMT: Moscow has voiced regret over a US decision to put off bilateral talks over Syria. Russia has sought to placate calls for military action over the alleged use of chemical weapons, saying there is no evidence of the Assad regime s complicity. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov tweeted a response to the move Tuesday morning, expressing concern over Washington s decision.
It is a pity that our western partners have decided to cancel the bilateral US-Russian meeting to discuss calls for an international conference on Syria, Gatilov wrote on Twitter. Russian and American officials had been scheduled to meet in The Hague on Wednesday for bilateral talks on the Syrian conflict.
09:19 GMT: The US’ Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, voiced her condemnation of Wednesday’s supposed attack. Monday, August 26 18:56 GMT: Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday that the Obama administration is “all but certain” that the Syrian government used chemical weapons to attack innocent civilians.
While investigators are gathering additional information on the ground, our understanding of what has already happened in Syria is grounded in facts, informed by conscious and guided by common sense, Sec. Kerry said. The reported number of victims, the reported symptoms of those who were killed or injured, the first-hand accounts from the humanitarian organizations on the ground…
these all strongly indicate that everything these images are already screaming at us are real: that chemical weapons were used in Syria. Moreover, we know that the Syrian regime maintains custody of these weapons, Kerry added. Kerry further said the reports should shock the conscience of the world, adding that the indiscriminate slaughter of women and children carried out by the Assad regime constitutes a moral obscenity.
President Barack Obama has yet to make a determination about how the US will respond, Kerry said, but a decision would be forthcoming. The US has already mobilized warships in the Mediterranean Sea which may begin striking Syrian target upon permission from Washington.
18:30 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin told British Prime Minister David Cameron that Russia has no evidence 2 of whether a chemical weapons attack took place in Syria or who would be responsible if one did. The two leaders had an urgent phone call on Monday afternoon regarding the Syrian crisis in the wake of a sniper attack on UN chemical inspectors outside Damascus, according to Cameron s official website.
17:00 GMT: Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Turkey would participate with any international coalition moving against Assad if the United Nations failed to draft sanctions against Syria in response to the alleged chemical weapon attack. Davutoglu said that while acting within the framework of the UN was a top priority, the country would join a coalition if no United Nations mandate was forthcoming, he said in comments published in the Milliyet daily. He added that around three dozen countries were currently discussing options.
16:00 GMT: On Monday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said any action taken against Syria would only be done in concert with the international community and within a legal framework, Reuters reports. Hagel, speaking to reporters during a trip to Indonesia, refused to comment on military options being mulled by the White House or if a military response was forthcoming. A senior US official said Hagel would reach out to his British and French counterparts to discuss the situation in Syria.
Germany also implied for the first time that it would support an international military response against Syria if it were confirmed that Syrian government forces deployed chemical weapons last week. Chancellor Angela Merkel s spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday that if the UN team confirmed the Syrian government s deployment of chemical weapons, it must be punished. Seibert says the government has very clear evidence that this was a chemical weapons attack.
He would not elaborate on what kind of response would be warranted, although he did not rule out the use of force. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also said that if an attack is confirmed, Germany would be among those who consider consequences to be appropriate.
15:57 GMT: The Syrian National Coalition, the official opposition to President Bashar Assad, has called off 3 the long-delayed peace summit in Geneva, following an alleged chemical attack last week. We refused to speak about Geneva after what’s happened.
We must punish this dictator, Bashar the Chemist we call him, and then we can discuss Geneva,” coalition Secretary General Badr Jamous told Reuters in Istanbul. The Syrian National Coalition was meeting with international opposition backers Friends of Syria in Istanbul, nominally to discuss the upcoming peace talks. Opposition leaders have blamed Bashar Assad for unleashing Wednesday s chemical assault on a rebel-controlled Damascus suburb, which Doctors without Borders (MSF) says took at least 355 lives.
14:08 GMT: There is no evidence that the Syrian government ordered the recent massacre with chemical weapons, but the West will blame it anyway because they want war, investigative journalist Neil Clark told RT 4 . Clark views the current situation in Syria as a replay of events leading up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. They went in there Iraq, they found no weapons, and yet we still had the war.
In fact, they launched the war before the weapons inspection team could finish their job. It is a very similar scenario now in Syria, he argues. Clark further characterized the latest developments in the Syrian conflict as a charade.
We are going to see these inspection teams going to this site and whatever they do the Syrian government will be blamed for it. The US has made it quite clear and William Hague has made that quite clear. They will blame the Syrian government whatever the evidence or lack of evidence.
There is no evidence that the Syrian government ordered this massacre with chemical weapons, they still are going to blame them because they want war.
11:47 GMT: UN experts set off 5 from central Damascus on Monday to investigate the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb, a day after the Assad government gave the green light to allow investigators access to the site. A six-car convoy of chemical weapons experts wearing blue UN body armor was accompanied by a car of security forces as well as an ambulance, Reuters reports. They said they were on their way to the rebel-held outskirts of the Syrian capital known as Eastern Ghouta, the alleged site of the world s worst chemical attack in decades.
12:24 GMT: Russia s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused 6 the West of engineering a campaign to facilitate military intervention in Syria. Officially Washington, London and Paris say they have incontrovertible evidence that the Syrian government is behind the chemical attack in Damascus, but they have not yet presented this evidence. Yet, they keep saying that the red line has been crossed, Lavrov said during an emergency press conference in Moscow.
Now, we are hearing calls for a military campaign against Bashar Assad. Lavrov said that the US, Britain and other countries have assembled a powerful force and are readying their ships and planes for a possible invasion. The minister said that the development set the world on a “perilous path” and warned that repeating the Iraqi and Libyan scenario and bringing in outside forces, would be a terrible mistake that will lead to more blood being spilled .
11:15 GMT: A UN inspection team was forced to return to a government checkpoint to replace their car after it came under sniper fire 7 . The team had been dispatched to take soil samples near the site of an alleged chemical weapons attack in an eastern suburb of Damascus.
09:00 GMT: UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said a response to the use of chemical weapons in Syria could be forthcoming even without 8 the unanimous consent of the UN Security Council, has said. I would argue yes it is, otherwise it might be impossible to respond to such outrages, such crimes, and I don’t think that’s an acceptable situation,” Hague said on BBC radio, when asked whether it would be possible to respond to the use of chemical weapons without the backing of the UN Security Council.
Meanwhile, Britain s Royal Navy is reportedly moving ships into place for a possible strike with the US on Syria in the next few days.
07:51 GMT: Syrian President Bashar Assad said 9 claims that his government has used chemical weapons made by Western countries are an insult to common sense and nonsense. “The statements made by the politicians in the USA and in other Western countries represent an insult to common sense and neglect of the public opinion of citizens in those countries. It s nonsense: first, they bring charges, and then they collect evidence. And it s one of the most powerful countries that does it the US.
They accused us on Wednesday, and in only two days the American leadership announces they started to collect the evidence. They accuse our army of using chemical weapons in the area that s reportedly controlled by the terrorists. In fact, there is no precise front line between the army and the insurgents in that area.
And how can a government use chemical weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction in the area where government troops are concentrated? This is against elementary logic,” the Syrian leader said in an interview with the Russian daily Izvestia. Sunday, August 25 21:35 GMT: Although Washington does not know who is behind the alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria, it is fixing the intelligence around the objective , which is to topple the Syrian government, anti-war activist Richard Becker from the ANSWER coalition told RT 10 .
It s almost incomprehensible to almost anybody, who thinks logically that the Syrian government would launch a poison gas attack at the very time the UN investigators are in the country investigating an earlier reported use of nerve gas in the country. So, we have really the US doing what it wants to do, saying what it wants to say to try to mobilize public opinion in the United States to justify potential intervention, he argues.
15:49 GMT: US President Barack Obama is headed down the same path as his predecessor, George W. Bush, in his push for a military solution in Syria, Foreign Affairs Committee chairman of the Russian Duma, Aleksey Pushkov said 11 .
Obama is fiercely moving towards war in Syria, just like Bush moved towards war in Iraq. Just like in Iraq, this war won t be legit and Obama will become Bush s clone, Pushkov wrote on his Twitter page on Sunday. Obama and UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, agreed in a phone conversation on Saturday that last week s alleged chemical weapon attack near Damascus was almost certainly carried out by Bashar Assad s Syrian government.
13:39 GMT: The head of the Syria-based and Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusa front has vowed 12 unrestrained rocket attacks on Alawite communities, alongside attacks on President Bashar Assad s government in revenge for an alleged chemical strike, according to a new recording. For every chemical rocket that had has fallen on our people in Damascus, one of their villages will, by the will of God, pay for it, said Jabhat al-Nusra leader, Abu Mohammed al-Golani in the audio footage released on YouTube on Sunday. It was posted on a militant website which usually broadcasts the views of Al-Qaeda and similar extremist groups.
It simultaneously appeared on the group s Facebook and Twitter accounts, suggesting that it was authentic. However, it could not immediately be verified for its authenticity. On top of that we will prepare a thousand rockets that will be fired on their towns in revenge for the Damascus Ghouta massacre, al-Golani continued.
Assad s government is largely comprised of Alawite Muslims a branch of Shi ite Islam whose villages al-Golani swore he would target. Alawites make up roughly 12 percent of Syria s population.
12:56 GMT: On Sunday, the Syrian Foreign Ministry announced an agreement 13 was concluded in Damascus between the Syrian government and the United Nations during the visit of the UN high representative for disarmament, Angela Kane, to allow the UN team led by Professor Aake Sellstroem to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Damascus province. The agreement “is effective immediately”.
Syrian authorities pledge to impose a ceasefire during the UN team inspection. Russia has welcomed the move but has called on all the sides, trying to influence the results of the investigation in advance , not to make tragic mistakes .
11:50 GMT: Tehran has warned 14 Washington not to cross the red line on Syria threatening it would have severe political consequences. “America knows the limitation of the red line of the Syrian front and any crossing of Syria’s red line will have severe consequences for the White House, ” the Iranian Fars news agency quoted deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Massoud Jazayeri, as saying. Syrian authorities also warned the United States against any military intervention, saying this would “inflame the Middle East”. “US military intervention will create very serious fallout and a ball of fire that will inflame the Middle East,” Information Minister Omran Zoabi told the Syrian state news agency, SANA.
The warning comes as Western officials stated they are considering a serious response from the international community to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Arab state.
05:07 GMT: Only 9 percent 15 of Americans believe President Barack Obama should take action on Syria, while some 60 percent of Americans said the United States should not intervene in Syria’s bloody civil war, a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll suggests. According to the poll taken on August 19-23, 25 percent of Americans would back intervention if it is proven that the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against civilians, while almost double that number 46 percent would still oppose such a move. Saturday, August 24 15:23 GMT: Nearly 3,600 patients with neurotoxic symptoms were treated in three Damascus hospitals on the day a toxic gas attack was reported, say Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
355 patients were reportedly pronounced dead.
16 The international medical humanitarian organization said it received information from hospitals it has been supporting in Syria. Medical staff working in these facilities provided detailed information to MSF doctors regarding large numbers of patients arriving with symptoms including convulsions, excess saliva, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress, MSF director of operations, Dr. Bart Janssens said in a press-release published on the organization s webpage.
However, MSF could not scientifically confirm the cause of these symptoms . The reported symptoms of the patients, in addition to the epidemiological pattern of the events characterized by the massive influx of patients in a short period of time, the origin of the patients, and the contamination of medical and first aid workers strongly indicate mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent, Janssens says in the report.
10:12 GMT: Syrian rebels allegedly used chemical weapons against government forces in the Damascus suburb of Jobar, where soldiers reportedly discovered toxic poisoning antidotes, the Syrian state news agency SANA reports.
17 The agency, citing an official source , further said cases of suffocation were reported among soldiers in the area. The source told the agency that army unit pushed into the area, where soldiers were attacked, and seized a warehouse containing material labeled ‘Made in KSA’ as well as a large number of protective masks.
In addition, the army discovered a stockpile of chemical poisoning antidotes with ‘The Qatari-German Company for Pharmaceutical Industries’ label on them.
00:08 GMT: The Pentagon is making initial preparations for a cruise missile attack 18 on Syrian government forces, according to a new report. The preparations come despite President Obama s reluctance to intervene in the Syrian conflict. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen.
Martin Dempsey is expected to present options for such a strike at a White House meeting on Saturday, CBS News reported on Friday. US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel suggested Friday naval forces are moving in position closer to Syria in the event that Obama opts for intervention. “The Defense Department has a responsibility to provide the president with options for contingencies, and that requires positioning our forces, positioning our assets, to be able to carry out different options whatever options the president might choose,” Hagel said, adding a decision must be made quickly given there may be another (chemical) attack. Friday, August 23 20:13 GMT: Barack Obama has cautioned against 19 US entry into the Syrian conflict, even though the American intelligence community believes the Syrian government was likely behind a deadly chemical attack earlier this week.
Previously, the president had said chemical warfare was a red line which would incite US intervention in the conflict. Questioned on the continuing upheaval in Syria and Egypt during Friday s CNN interview, Obama said the United States should be wary of being drawn into very expensive, difficult, costly interventions that actually breed more resentment in the region. Obama further stressed that questions of international law would need to be taken into consideration before the US decided to act. “If the US goes in and attacks another country without a UN mandate and without clear evidence that can be presented, then there are questions in terms of whether international law supports it, and do we have the coalition to make it work?
16:29 GMT: Outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller fears Americans traveling to Syria could return with plans 20 to undertake an attack upon the homeland. When you have individuals traveling to those venues like Syria, you are concerned first about the associations they will make, and secondly about the expertise they will develop and whether or not they will utilize those associations, utilize that expertise, to undertake an attack upon the homeland, Mueller told ABC News Pierre Thomas in an exclusive interview.
15:56 GMT: The Syrian opposition said they will ensure the safety 21 of UN chemical weapons experts as they pass through rebel-controlled areas, adding that their successful arrival at the site of an alleged gas attack near Damascus within 48 hours was critical. We will ensure the safety of the U.N.
team … It is critical that those inspectors get there within 48 hours, Khaled Saleh, spokesman for the opposition, told a news conference in Istanbul. The UN inspectors requested access to Damascus suburbs without delays on Thursday in order to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in attacks in the country.
14:14 GMT: The US is supporting for jihadists throughout the Middle East, undermining democratic governments in the region and their own values in order to protect its oil industry, Colin Cavell, author of Exporting Made in America Democracy, told RT.
22 11:37 GMT : Materials implicating the forces of Syrian president Bashar Assad in a recently alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus were prepared prior to 23 the incident on August 21, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. We re getting more new evidence that this criminal act was of a provocative nature, he stressed. In particular, there are reports circulating on the Internet, in particular that the materials of the incident and accusations against government troops had been posted for several hours before the so-called attack.
Thus, it was a pre-planned action, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich, said in a statement.
07:28 GMT: The Syrian government cannot guarantee the security or even entry for UN experts attempting to access the site of the alleged chemical attack which recently took place, as the opposition controls that area of Damascus, Oxford University historian Mark Almond told RT 24 . You have to ask with any crime scene, to whose benefit is the crime? And the Syrian government would have to be not only very brutal, but very stupid to have done this in a period when UN chemical weapons inspectors are just down the road in Damascus, Almond argues.
Almond believes if Damascus was behind it, special troops would have been deployed under the cover of chaos to prevent documentary footage from emerging from the scene which has been widely distributed by rebel forces. This, after all, is the area controlled by the opposition. So a further problem arises with the demands Syrian government permit experts to visit the scene.
Syrian government does not control the scene of the crime, if this crime is being committed. It is up to the rebels. Yet we see no attempt to press the rebels to cooperate.
So in fact, it seems to be primarily to embarrass the Syrian government, to say, Why don t you let the experts go to the scene? where the fact is they don t control the scene and therefore could not guarantee their security or even possibly enable them to enter the area where these attacks are supposed to have taken place.
03:23 GMT: The use of chemical weapons in Syria would constitute a crime against humanity, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 25 , adding that there will be serious consequences if the reports transpire to be true. “Any use of chemical weapons anywhere, by anybody, under any circumstances, would violate international law,” Ban said at a scheduled event in the South Korean capital of Seoul on Friday. “Such a crime against humanity should result in serious consequences for the perpetrator,” he added. Ban urged both the government and opposition to cooperate with the UN investigation into the alleged chemical weapons attack near Damascus. “I can think of no good reason why any party either government or opposition forces would decline this opportunity to get to the truth of the matter.” “This is a grave challenge to the entire international community – and to our common humanity, especially considering it occurred when the United Nations expert mission is in the country,” the UN chief said.
Thursday, August 22 20:32 GMT: US senator John McCain on Thursday says he no longer trusts President Obama s word on Syria, arguing that 26 military intervention in the war-torn country could be launched quickly and easily . The Arizona Republican told CNN s Kate Boulduan that the US military could destroy Syrian President Bashar Assad s runways and aircraft within a couple of days , quickly arm rebels and establish a no-fly zone easily. There would be no boots on the ground, he said.
We would use standoff weapons just as the Israelis have four times as they ve taken out targets inside Syria. We would not put a single life at risk. McCain, a ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said the president s failure to take action in response to the violent turbulence in Egypt shows that the US has no policies or strategies that can be trusted.
There is no policy. And there is no strategy. And therefore we react and we react poorly, he said.
One of the best examples is Syria where the president said Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons, that s a red line. He s used them and we have done virtually nothing in response to that.
15:02 GMT: Recent chemical attacks in Syria are nothing but a staged provocation, as the opposition forces want to disrupt any negotiations and trigger foreign intervention, and western forces are part of it, Brian Becker, the Director at Answer Coalition, told RT.
27 The big goal of those who carry out the staged provocations is to disrupt any negotiations that could lead to a positive outcome to the existing Syrian government, meaning that the forces of the civil war had not succeeded in lagging the Assad government, which is their only goal, Becker argues. He continues that in the absence of popular support, the rebels hope the chemical weapons attack will prompt an escalated intervention which will see the establishment of no fly zones and the eventual bombing of Syria.
11:23 GMT: The Syrian government is ready to offer its full cooperation with UN experts seeking to clarify the alleged use of chemical weapons in, The Russian Foreign Ministry says 28 . The UN has requested access to Damascus suburbs be granted without delays . Speaking on Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich said Moscow hopes that UN experts will conduct an objective investigation of all possible cases of use of chemical weapons on Syrian territory. “We hope that the results will clarify the issue and will help to dispel numerous speculations around the alleged use of the Syrian chemical weapons that simultaneously create a positive background for the moves towards the start of the political process of settlement of the Syrian crisis”, he continued.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the Syrian government to allow a UN team, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, to visit the site in the Damascus suburbs. “A formal request is being sent by the United Nations to the government of Syria in this regard. He expects to receive a positive response without delay,” Ban s office said in a statement.
07:17 GMT: France has called the international community to r espond with force 29 if it is confirmed that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack on civilians. “There would have to be reaction with force in Syria from the international community, but there is no question of sending troops on the ground,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on the French television network BFM. He continued that the situation could be handled “in other ways” if the UN Security Council failed to make a decision, although he did not elaborate on what those measures might be.
The French minister further said that any refusal on the part of Damascus to allow an inspection would be paramount to an admission of guilt.
02:00 GMT: The United Nations Security Council UNSC siad i t is seeking 30 clarity on recent conflicting claims of chemical weapons use near Damascus, adding that humanitarian aid needs to be provided to the victims as soon as possible. There must be clarity on what happened and the situation must be followed carefully, UN Permanent Representative of Argentina and President of the Security Council, Maria Cristina Perceval, told reporters after a closed-door emergency meeting of the UNSC on Wednesday. All council members agree that any use of chemical weapons by any side under any circumstances is a violation of international law, Perceval said, stating that members “welcomed the determination of the secretary general to ensure a thorough, impartial investigation.” Wednesday, August 21 16:35 GMT: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff does not believe the Syrian rebels would support US interests if the United States helps them defeat President Bashar Assad, according to a letter by General Martin Dempsey obtained by AP. “The use of US military force can change the military balance, Dempsey said.
But it cannot resolve the underlying and historic ethnic, religious and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict, Demply wrote in a letter to Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.). Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides,” Dempsey continued. It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor.
Today, they are not.” 15:44 GMT: Reports by biased regional media about alleged chemical weapons use near Damascus might be a provocation planned in advance, says Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Aleksandr Lukashevich 31 . It draws attention to the fact that biased regional media have immediately, as if on command, begun an aggressive information attack, laying all the responsibility on the government, Lukashevich said in a statement on Wednesday. The Russian Foreign Ministry, citing its sources, said that a homemade rocket carrying unidentified chemical substances had been launched from an area controlled by the opposition.
A homemade rocket with a poisonous substance that has not been identified yet one similar to the rocket used by terrorists on March 19 in Khan al-Assal – was fired early on August 21 at Damascus suburbs from a position occupied by the insurgents, Lukashevich said.
15:12 GMT : Reports of a massive chemical weapons attack in Syria are facing a credibility gap, as Al Arabiya, the origin of the story, is not a neutral in the Syrian conflict, geopolitical analyst William Engdahl argues 32 . Engdahl says AL Arabiya, which is majority-owned by the Saudi broadcaster Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), is prone to anti-Assad rhetoric as Saudi Arabia has continually sought to topple the Syrian government.
13:03 GMT: The Syrian government would not benefit from the latest chemical attack in the country, while it would provide the opposition a key pretext to see airstrikes launched within the country, geopolitical analyst Patrick Henningsen told RT 33 .
06:27 GMT: Conflicting reports have emerged of a major chemical weapon attack 34 in a Damascus suburb. The casualty figures range from dozens to almost 1,300.
The alleged attack came on the same day a UN team arrived to investigate three separate sites in the country where alleged chemical weapons attacks took place.
References ^ said (rt.com) ^ no evidence (rt.com) ^ called off (rt.com) ^ told RT (rt.com) ^ set off (rt.com) ^ has accused (rt.com) ^ sniper fire (rt.com) ^ even without (rt.com) ^ Bashar Assad said (rt.com) ^ told RT (rt.com) ^ Aleksey Pushkov said (rt.com) ^ has vowed (rt.com) ^ announced an agreement (rt.com) ^ has warned (rt.com) ^ Only 9 percent (rt.com) ^ 3,600 patients (rt.com) ^ allegedly used (rt.com) ^ cruise missile attack (rt.com) ^ cautioned against (rt.com) ^ return with plans (rt.com) ^ ensure the safety (rt.com) ^ told RT. (rt.com) ^ prepared prior to (rt.com) ^ told RT (rt.com) ^ Ban Ki-moon said (rt.com) ^ arguing that (rt.com) ^ told RT. (rt.com) ^ says (rt.com) ^ espond with force (rt.com) ^ t is seeking (rt.com) ^ Aleksandr Lukashevich (rt.com) ^ William Engdahl argues (%20http) ^ told RT (rt.com) ^ chemical weapon attack (rt.com)
Mustafa and his family in the doorway of their Cypriot home, a tin hut that was originally built on a British Army Base in Egypt during the Second World War. Just 12 miles from the vomit slicks of Ayia Napa there is another corner of Cyprus that is forever England. Or Britain, more precisely: a scrubby little patch of sovereign British territory, complete with tatty Union Jack flags flutteringly limply in the weak breeze, a pre-fab bar called The George and Dragon which is packed out with drinkers on a Tuesday at lunchtime and bored fat security guards in hi-vis jackets hanging around next to automated barriers.
Oh, and lots of barbed wire fences hung with signs warning you not to take photographs, because this is a military base and you re liable to be arrested if you do. Welcome to Dhekelia, one of the two Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) in the Republic of Cyprus, and the place to which British troops retreat for some R&R after their tours on the front line in Afghanistan. However, I can t help feeling that the Ministry of Defense is kicking the soldiers when they re down with this particular policy, because Dhekelia is about as relaxing as Guantanamo 1 .
One of the abandoned buildings in Richmond Village. But what else apart from flag waving, binge drinking, petty officialdom and even pettier rules makes Britain Britain? If the Daily Mail , UKIP, and casual racists are to be believed, it s all those bloody asylum seekers and refugees.
And incredibly you can find these in Dhekelia, too. A small distance away from the main military compound, tucked into a forgotten corner near the firing range, sits Richmond Village, a depressing little huddle of tin huts that is about as far removed from its London namesake as possible. This is the place that 70 refugees and asylum seekers from various repressive and war-torn parts of the world have called home for the past 15 years.
Mustafa holds up an article published in the Cypriot press in 1998, shortly after he arrived in the Sovereign Base Area. I met 40-year-old Mustafa, a Syrian Kurd, his Burmese wife Paw Lee, and their two children in their home, number 14 Richmond Village. The well-tended garden outside and the genial clutter within disguises what their house actually is a military barracks hut made of corrugated iron.
It was originally erected on a British army base in Egypt during the Second World War, then dismantled and shipped over to Cyprus when that base was closed. Richmond Village is actually just a single track road fringed by five of these tin huts on either side, arranged in small-town suburban style with privet hedges and road signs next to rolls of barbed wire in a confusing spacial tapestry of The Inbetweeners and M.A.S.H . In a small concession to domesticity the huts have been upgraded with gray tiled roofs.
Mustafa has been in Dhekelia since 1998. Pursued by the Syrian regime because of his cousin s political affiliations, he fled first to Lebanon and then paid a people smuggler $5,000 to take him to Italy by boat. His plan was to travel onwards to Germany once he was safely inside the European Union; but the smuggler was either inept or a liar, because instead of reaching Italy the boat capsized and its passengers washed up on the shores of Cyprus.
Mustafa’s wife and daughters in the street outside their home. For the people traveling on the boat, that was a big problem. Only EU member states guarantee recognized refugee status for people who have arrived illegally but are fleeing war and torture at home.
Back in 1998, the Republic of Cyprus was not an EU member, so from there they could be deported straight back to where they came from, no questions asked. But after that ill-fated start to his journey, Mustafa lucked out, big time. Because, as it turned out, the bit of Cypriot shore that he had washed up on was not Cypriot at all, but British part of one of the island s Sovereign Base Areas.
At first I thought we d landed in Turkish Cyprus, because there were soldiers everywhere, he says. But when they rounded us up and took us to the army airport they told us that we had crossed the border into UK territory. Mustafa has furnished his home entirely from items he has made or found in the trash.
The British authorities, unsure how best to deal with a boatload of bedraggled refugees on their sovereign territory, stuck them in a refugee camp while they tried to decide what to do. I think the British were trying to use us an example, because they were worried that other people were going to try to do the same thing, says Mustafa. We realized that we were going to be held there for a long time.
But finally, in February of 2000, Mustafa was granted recognized refugee status. It meant that he could remain indefinitely on British territory and apply for full asylum and the right to move to the mainland. Mustafa’s travel documents, valid only in the two British Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.
It also meant that he could no longer be held in the refugee camp, but the only accommodation available to house the refugees in Dhekalia were the ancient tin huts from Egypt, which were hastily arranged into a village layout and given their very British name. Altogether, around 70 others who had been granted refugee status were moved to Richmond Village. At that time we were living six to a hut, says Mustafa.
They were issued with SBA travel documents but were not allowed to enter or work in the Republic of Cyprus although some, including Mustafa, did. I worked as a joiner for 20 Cypriot pounds a day, he remembers. And if I got caught by the police in Cyprus, I was taken straight back to the SBA.
Over the border line in Cyprus he met Paw Lee, who came to the country from Burma in 2000 as a migrant worker. They married and had two children. The couple moved into their own house on the base and gradually made it into a home, using furniture they made themselves or that others had thrown out.
They built up a life for themselves in Richmond Village alongside their cosmopolitan neighbors Somalians, Ethopians, and Iraqis among them. Mustafa’s son next to the street sign outside their home. And still Mustafa waited for the decision on his UK asylum application.
In Dhekelia he was granted the right to use the British hospital on the base, and his children were given places at the school there. For six years, the residents of Richmond Village kept faith that they would eventually be resettled in the UK. A letter Mustafa received in 2007 confirming that he is a recognized refugee in the Sovereign Base Areas and the Republic of Cyprus, but not in the United Kingdom.
But in 2007, everything changed. Mustafa received a letter telling him that his asylum application was being redirected to the Republic of Cyprus which by now was an EU member and that, even though he was still living on British territory, he no longer had the right to apply for asylum in the UK, or to use the British hospitals or school. The UK was trying to push us out, says Mustafa.
Some of Mustafa s neighbors no longer had the energy to keep fighting against European bureaucracy. They left Richmond Village and resettled in Cyprus, and the tin huts they used to live in now lie forlorn and neglected. But some, including Mustafa and his family, are refusing to leave.
I don t want to live in Cyprus, he says. I still won t have the right to work there, and this is my home. I ve known my neighbors here for 15 years now.
Under Cypriot law, Mustafa would have to reapply for residency every three years even though he is a recognized refugee. He has also been given no assurance that he will not be immediately deported. And so Mustafa believes that his best option is to continue living in Richmond Village, in limbo, in a tin hut that was built for a desert campaign, not a family home.
This has become his way of life and, for his children, it is all they ve ever known. I ask them what country they feel they belong to. We don t have a nationality, they reply.
Follow Hannah on Twitter: @hannahluci 2 More stories about refugees and asylum seekers: Australia Is Sending Refugees to Abusive Detention Camps in Papua New Guinea 3 Fun And Games At El-Buss Refugee Camp 4 Too Many Tunisians, Not Enough Toilets 5 References ^ Guantanamo (www.vice.com) ^ @hannahluci (twitter.com) ^ Australia Is Sending Refugees to Abusive Detention Camps in Papua New Guinea (www.vice.com) ^ Fun And Games At El-Buss Refugee Camp (www.vice.com) ^ Too Many Tunisians, Not Enough Toilets (www.vice.com)
Read more here:
The Refugee Family Living in a British Military Hut in Cyprus
Travis Mills, with his wife, Kelsey, and daughter, Chloe, at his in-laws home in Frisco. (The Dallas Morning News) A new documentary on a soldier who lost all four limbs in an explosion in Afghanistan will premiere in Dallas next month. Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, whose in-laws live in Frisco, was featured in an award-winning 1 story 2 in The Dallas Morning News in 2012.
Travis: A Soldier s Story is a documentary that tells the inspiring true story of Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne, said Katie Norris, founder of Fotolanthropy, the non-profit organization that produced the film. Mills lost portions of both arms and legs as the result of an IED (improvised explosive device) on April 10, 2012 while on patrol during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. At the time, he was one of just five quadruple-amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive their injuries.
The film examines the day-in and day-out challenges and struggles that face severely wounded veterans, like Mills. During a long period of rehabilitation, much of it at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside of Washington, D.C. Mills learned to use prosthetic devices to replace his lost limbs, enabling him to walk and grasp objects.
The screening will take place at the Angelika Theater on Mockinbird Lane, Thursday, Aug.
15, at 7:30 p.m., followed by a VIP reception.
A trailer can be seen at www.travisthemovie.com 3 Travis Mills plans to attend the Dallas premiere along with other relatives and family members, Norris said.
References ^ award-winning (www.dallasnews.com) ^ story (www.dallasnews.com) ^ www.travisthemovie.com (www.travisthemovie.com)
War Articles 1 on June 16, 2013 at 14:45 The BBC Reports: On Saturday, the nation will watch the Coldstream Guards take part in Trooping the Colour, in honour of the Queen s official birthday. But this week, the regiment also laid to rest a mystery which it has spent several months trying to resolve as it finally re-buried one of its soldiers whose remains were discovered in the Netherlands in 2011. At the Guards Chapel, the chaplain to the Household Division, the Reverend Kevin Bell, was joined by veterans of the Coldstream Guards as they took part in a solemn but unusual ceremony.
In the garden of remembrance, they laid to rest the ashes of a soldier whose body had lain buried for more than 200 years beneath the sand dunes of a Dutch beach, before they were disturbed and revealed. A team of Dutch archaeologists identified the remains as those of a British soldier. They pinned down his regiment by his musket and pewter buttons, whose star and cross were unmistakeably those of the Coldstream Guards.
Several thousand British soldiers landed in the Netherlands in August 1799 as part of a force trying to restore the House of Orange to the Dutch throne and counter French influence in Europe.
Read more on the BBC website 2 Tags: Coldstream Guard , Mystery 3 4 References ^ View all posts in War Articles (www.warhistoryonline.com) ^ Read more on the BBC website (www.bbc.co.uk) ^ Coldstream Guard (www.warhistoryonline.com) ^ Mystery (www.warhistoryonline.com)
by Scott Creighton There s a man who leads a life of dangerTo everyone he meets he stays a strangerWith every move he makes another chance he takesOdds are he won t live to see tomorrow Secret Muslim man, secret Muslim manThey ve given you a number and taken away your name Johnny Rivers (kinda) Trying to piece together the history of the suspects and victim. Yes folks, he was a secret Muslim man, living that life of danger and always staying a stranger. And in the end, he got a number and odds are he won t live to see tomorrow.
But what of the latest developments? You be the judge. Victim part of a regiment that is about to be axed due to cuts in defense spending According to the story, Michael Olumide Adebolajo decided to mow down Drummer Lee Rigby 25, of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers near the intersection of Artillery Place and John Wilson Street, in Woolwich, southeast London.
Rigby wasn t dressed like this at the time. In fact, the witness who supposedly stood up to the attackers claimed on live television that she had no idea the victim was military by the way he was dressed. So here s a question: how did the attackers know?
Anyway, when researching the victim, Lee Rigby I found out that he was with the doomed 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. What I mean by doomed is, the 2nd Battalion, an historic regiment, along with 16 other major units in the British Army are about to be axed out of existence. The plan is called the Army 2020 Plan and will see a great reduction in the number of regiments all across the UK.
It s also meeting with some rather strong resistance from within the military ranks. Five infantry battalions are to be withdrawn and 17 major units in total axed from the Army in its biggest overhaul for decades. Troop levels are to be slashed by a fifth from 102,000 to 82,000, while the Territorial Army will be expanded to give a combined force of 120,000.
The 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, the 2nd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, the 3rd Battalion the Mercian Regiment, and the 2nd Battalion the Royal Welsh will all go in the shake-up But the prospect of losing historic units has been the cause of intense anguish within the service. Sky News, July 2012 Opposition to this kind of defunding of the MIC in Britain was sure to follow: However, shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy told Sky News: You can t make cuts in the British army of this depth and at this speed without it having an impact on our ability to project power, our influence in the world and the ability of the British army to be deployed on a sustainable basis at points in the future. This isn t without cost and without consequence.
There will be an enormous blow to morale in the British army but there are also going to be consequences about what the army can do. ” Sky News Of course that calls into question the possibility of motive for a locally run psyop. Will this event trigger unrest in Britain and thus the need to redirect funding to keep the 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers up and running? Suspect converted to Islam and apparently his friends in school knew nothing about it Secret Muslim Man, Secret Muslim Man livin the life of danger!
The Guardian put together the go-to bio of the suspect who took the time to carefully explain his motivations to a guy who just happened to be standing on the side of the road with a camera. His name was Michael Olumide Adebolajo and the funny thing is, he was apparently a secret Muslim, having converted to Islam right under the noses of his mates in school who had no idea he had done it. At least, that s what the Guardian says without knowing it.
At 16, Adebolajo moved to Havering sixth form college, and then at 18 attended Greenwich University, where he lived in student accommodation in 2004 and 2005 . Choudary said Mujaahid (Adebolajo) had converted to Islam in 2003 and was a British-born Nigerian. He said he had attended meetings of al-Muhajiroun from around 2005-11, but stopped attending the meetings, and those its successor organisations, two years ago Friends at his school said they knew nothing of his conversion to Islam .
Guardian How is it that his friends and roommates in school didn t even know he was a Muslim, much less a radicalized Islamist ? Don t things like that kinda stand out at the weekend kegger? Suspect well known to secret services in London Turns out, the local version of our lawless FBI, MI5, were in contact with this terrorist just like our FBI is with all the terrorists here in the states.
The Guardian understands that both Adebolajo and the other suspect have featured in counter-terrorism investigations over the last eight years . But it is understood that, while they were known to the police and security services, they were considered peripheral figures among the many extremists whose activities cross the radar of investigators. Adebolajo was frequently seen in Woolwich handing out Islamist literature in the High Street .
Guardian He was passing out fliers just like Lee Harvey Oswald and that guy who made the Innocence of bin Laden honeypot video for the FBI and attending rallies. There was even talk on Sky News about one of the two being prevented from going to Somalia recently. Of course, they had to get Somalia into the story somehow Apparently Adebolajo had been gone for two years.
He stopped going to his meetings with the radicalized Islamists all of a sudden hmmm what happened around two years ago that could explain where a converted Muslim would be . Anjem Choudary, the former leader of banned Islamic group al Muhajiroun, said he knew one of the alleged attackers but had not seen him for about two years . Sky News Two years huh?
Hero Cub Scout leader just got back from France (Cameron meeting with Holland?) and is ready for prime time with all the right stuff Ingrid Loyau-Kennett is making the morning talk show circuit. Good thing she had all that spare time, huh? She is the lady pictured talking to one of the guys who supposedly took the head off a soldier in broad daylight on the streets of Woolwich.
She is seen casually talking to the guy with her hands firmly planted in her pockets. Turns out she is saying all the right stuff on TV. She catches herself in an interview when talking about what they said they did it for and backtracks over her previous comment to reinsert the world Muslim and Jihad a couple of times.
Always need to make sure you say that, right? Ingrid says she had just gotten in from France and was there to visit her children. She lives in Cornwall England.
A good distance from London and Woolwich. Loyau-Kennett, who lives in Cornwall in southwest England, told several British media outlets Wednesday night and Thursday morning that she was returning from a trip to France and was visiting her children in London when the bus she was on stopped because of the melee . I asked him why he had done what he had done, The Guardian quoted her as saying.
He said he had killed the man because he (the victim) was a British soldier who killed Muslim women and children in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was furious about the British Army being over there. Huffington Post The HuffPuff tried to sanatize some of what Ingrid told the press about her encounter.
I guess they didn t want to look like she was overreaching a bit. But God Bless Her, Pamela Geller over at the Ayn Rand worshiping Atlas Shrugs website ( if you go there, note that my anti-virus protection has been going off non-stop warning me of malicious programs it is blocking. Go figure ) has no such qualms when it comes to inciting hatred of all things not Jewish or Christian: Mum talked down Woolwich terrorists who told her: We want to start a war in London tonight The Telegraph, May 23, 2013 I asked him if he did it and he said yes and I said why?
And he said because he has killed Muslim people in Muslim countries, he said he was a British soldier and I said really and he said I killed him because he killed Muslims and I am fed up with people killing Muslims in Afghanistan they have nothing to do there. I said right now it is only you versus many people, you are going to lose, what would you like to do? and he said I would like to stay and fight .
Atlas Shrugs Conclusion And there you have it; the woman returns from France, ends up in a city a hundred miles from where she lives, just in time to make it to prime time and tell the world that the secret Muslim suspects who had been known to the police for years, want to start a war in London right around the time they are about to ax the same battalion the soldier was from. There s a man who leads a life of dangerTo everyone he meets he stays a strangerWith every move he makes another chance he takesOdds are he won t live to see tomorrow Secret Muslim man, secret Muslim manThey ve given you a number and taken away your name Johnny Rivers (kinda) . Like this: Like Loading…
Filed under: Uncategorized