yYAXssKCQaUWZcXZ79RJTBLvo-c;SfREtjZ9NYeQnnVMC-CsZ9qN6L0 Finance, Economics, Globus, Brokers, Banks, Collateral-Oriano Mattei: settembre 2017

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sabato 23 settembre 2017

Hundreds of opposition activists attended an anticorruption protest in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku. The protest, which has been sanctioned by the municipal government, was organized by the National Council of Democratic Forces -- an umbrella organization bringing together some of Azerbaijan's opposition forces......

Azerbaijanis at an opposition demonstration in Baku


Hundreds of opposition activists attended an anticorruption protest in Azerbaijan's capital, Baku.
The protest, which has been sanctioned by the municipal government, was organized by the National Council of Democratic Forces -- an umbrella organization bringing together some of Azerbaijan's opposition forces.
Baku police said in a statement that some 1,500 people attended the September 23 rally, although the organizers disputed the official figure, saying the actual attendance was higher. Azerbaijan's Turan news agency said thousands participated in the rally held in the Yasamal district of Baku. 
According to the statement, supporters of the Popular Front Party, People's Democratic Party, National Statehood Party, Musavat Party Youth Organization, Muslim Union, and NIDA Movement participated in the action.
No incidents occurred during the rally, the statement said.
However, ahead of the rally, at least three members of the Popular Front Party were reportedly detained by authorities on September 22. It was immmedately unclear whether they were subsequently released. 
At the end of the rally, which started at 3 p.m. local time and lasted for two hours, electricity was cut off in the area. 
The protest, held under the slogan "Return the money stolen from the people," came after an investigative report by a group of international journalists and anticorruption activists called The Azerbaijani Laundromat named state officials allegedly tied to money-laundering operations.
Azerbaijani opposition gathering in Baku
Azerbaijani opposition gathering in Baku
The report alleges the scheme was “a complex money-laundering operation and slush fund that handled $2.9 billion over a two-year period through four shell companies" registered in the United Kingdom.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's press secretary, Azer Gasimov, has called the report "absurd."
Activists accuse Azerbaijan’s government of repressing journalists, civil society activists, and human rights workers.
They have urged Western governments to do more to confront authorities in Baku.
The oil-rich South Caucasus nation has faced growing social and economic problems stemming from falling world oil prices in recent years.


da "Radio Free Liberty"

Despite belligerent rhetoric over Korean nuclear crisis, neither party would win from actual military action, observers say. But there is a risk of a ‘war by mistake’, triggered by some unintentional accident and spiraling out of anyone’s control...

Trump is ‘Kim’s ideal partner for war dance,’ but war in Korea detrimental to everyone’s interest


Despite belligerent rhetoric over Korean nuclear crisis, neither party would win from actual military action, observers say. But there is a risk of a ‘war by mistake’, triggered by some unintentional accident and spiraling out of anyone’s control.
There is no shortage of most threatening signals to Pyongyang coming from senior US officials lately. President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea while addressing the UN General Assembly and branded its leader a “madman” and “rocket man.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis mused about deploying US nuclear weapons in South Korea. And Senator Lindsey Graham even advocated starting a war now, before American lives are at stake in the conflict. 
The American saber-rattling mirrors the statements from Pyongyang, which threatened to “sink Japan”, compared Trump to a barking dogand said may conduct biggest ever nuclear test in the Pacific region.
The aggressive rhetoric on either side of the Pacific, colorful as it is, does not reflect any actual intention to start a war, a professor at the Kookmin University in Seoul, Andrey Lankov, told RT.
“New Zealand’s indigenous people Maori have this war dance called haka. When a conflict emerged, two gangs of really fearsome men gathered and started jumping in front of each other, cursing each other in Maori language and swinging clubs in front of each other’s nose. An observer could think that those people were about to pounce on each other. In reality it was a way of saying ‘hello’ before talks,” he said.
“People in Pyongyang used to dance a sort of haka solo, with lots of swinging of clubs, bulging of eyes and threatening shouts. But now they have a worthy partner in the White House, who does all the right moves. So aesthetically speaking, watching them is much more fun,” he said.
The cost of an actual military conflict on the Korean Peninsula would be too high for everyone involved and would bring too little benefit, if any, to pay it. This has been true for decades, and the current round of high tension, even if more media-worthy than those we saw on regular basis, does not change this.

Cost of war may be in millions of lives

While Washington has repeatedly said that the military option is on the table, there are no practical scenarios, experts agree. Korean geography puts Seoul, a city where roughly half of South Korea’s 50-million-strong population lives, within the range of North’s long-range artillery, effectively making it a hostage city. There is no way the South Korean capital can be protected from retaliation, should Pyongyang chose to launch one after being attacked.
“I don’t see a prospect of a full-scale invasion a la Iraq [in 2003], but I do see a danger of things getting out of control. The most likely military option would be a ‘preventive strike’ by the US against North Korean nuclear facilities. They would do what the Israelis did with Operation Opera in Iraq. But my view is that there would be a response by North Korea,” former MEP from Britain and member of the Korean Peninsula Delegation in the European Parliament Glyn Ford told RT.
Operation Opera was a 1981 surprise Israeli airstrike, which destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor being built by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, allegedly with the help of Iran. A similar operation was conducted by Israel in 2007 against a suspected nuclear site in Syria. Neither country was capable or willing to try to hurt Israel militarily in response, which may not be the case with North Korea.
“There would eventually be a response, unlike with Iraq. So a full-scale conflict may not be by actual design, but not any less deadly,”Ford said.
A worst-case scenario of a new war in the Korean Peninsula would result in millions of deaths, said Brian Becker, director for the US-based anti-war group Answer Coalition.
“The entire peninsula is heavily populated. It would be a catastrophe,”he told RT. “Obviously, North Korea does not pose a threat to the United States, and yet the US is artificially pushing everything to the brink. It’s this kind of brinkmanship that seems like madness and can lead to a horrendous miscalculation.”
He added that Kim Jong-un may have boosted North Korea’s nuclear and rocket development in response to the US announcing the so-called “pivot to Asia” under the Barack Obama administration. Ironically, the reaction in Pyongyang gives the US another pretext to pour in more troops.
“But North Korea doesn’t see it as a pretext. From their point of view as a small country that had been invaded and devastated by the US, [the pivot] is an existential threat. As a consequence, they are escalating their nuclear weapons capacity. And then the US must respond to that,” Becker said.
If Washington does trigger the destruction of Seoul by a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, it will most likely alienate its southern ally for a foreseeable future, said the director of Eastern Asia Studies at the State Institute of Foreign Religions in Moscow, Aleksandr Lukin.
“If the US does it, it would be really stupid. The Korean people will hate them for a hundred years to come. And nobody will remember details, just like today people forget why the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, but everybody remembers that the Americans did it,” he told RT.

Calm, rational people in Pyongyang

If a full-scale war does start despite its cost, Pyongyang would face an overwhelming military force of South Korea and the US, likely with Japan’s help. Global Firepower Index ranks North Korea’s military as 23rd-most powerful in the world. South is ranked 12th and Japan seventh. Pyongyang’s estimated defense budget for 2017 is $7.5, compared to $5.2 billion, which the City of New York spends on its police department.
North Korea has had a joint defense treaty with China since the early 1960s – the only country with such a pact with Beijing. But China made it clear that it would not protect Pyongyang if it starts a war. The elite of North Korea are not suicidal, and nor is Kim Jong-un, said Lankov.
“The country is not ruled by the Kim family alone. There are some 100 to 150 families of the first tier, the so-called Mount Paektu families, and several hundred families of the second tier, the so-called Naktong Offensive families, which have been ruling it for three generations. All these people know a war would be the end for them,”he said.
“They are afraid that they will be attacked, and they have some grounds for it. They are afraid that they will face an uprising supported by foreign powers, and they have even more reasons for this. But they do not want to attack anyone,” he added. “They are regular, rational, calm people.”
He added that if anyone realizes the purely defensive nature of Pyongyang’s nuclear development that would be American generals, who apparently played a major part in scaling down Trump administration’s war plans, which were being discussed in earnest as early as February.
“Ironically, the most ‘dove-ish’ part of the current administration on the North Korean issue is the Pentagon. Those people realize that the war, which politicians may draw the country into out of stupidity, would be a political and military catastrophe, strategically speaking,” he explained.
“No general wants to go to a war, which will turn into a bloody mess in which he would sacrifice a lot of his men for no apparent reason and then be subjected to criticism by the press while his country looks really weak.”

Nuclear North Korea is path forward

Strangling North Korea with economic sanctions is actually not an option too, even though the US is trying that path. Pyongyang sees nuclear deterrence as crucial for its survival, so it would rather allow North Korean people starve than relinquish it. The examples of Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein seem to be quite convincing in that regard. And despite Trump’s rants to the contrary, China’s ability to pressure North Korea is limited and apparently does not go as far as making it freeze the nuclear program.
More importantly, neither Russia nor China is interested in the fall of the North Korean government. In the short run it would cause turmoil in the region with mass migration of refugees. In the long run, the Korean Peninsula may be unified under Seoul, placing American troops at China’s and Russia’s border. So it may well be that acknowledging a reality of a nuclear North Korea may be the best outcome, said Asia-Pacific defense consultant Jack Midgley.
Pyongyang’s endgame in pursuing nuclear and rocket industry is a stronger negotiations position with the US, Midgley told RT. The objection to the program from Washington is dictated by that consideration, as well as the military dimension per se, he said, but in the long run talks is what gives the US most benefit.
“In the short run the US interest is containing the North Korean influence. The US wants to make sure that the North does not gain political power from the possession of nuclear weapons,” he told RT. “Over the longer term the US has an interest of bringing North Korea into the community of nuclear powers, containing it with arms control and confidence-building measures. That’s the path forward.”
Ultimately North Korea will need foreign advice on how to properly handle its nuclear arsenal, Midgley added, since countries like China and Russia are years ahead of Pyongyang in working out proper procedures. That would help reduce the threat of starting a war by accident, he explained.
“One of many risks is that there could be a technical accident that causes people to think that an attack is underway. There could be a rogue launch by someone who takes control over those weapons. There could be an accidental detonation during a test.” he said. “All of those things are possible, and that’s why it is in everyone’s interest for North Korea to be brought into the global community of nuclear powers and taught to manage those weapons in a responsible and established way.”

da "rt.com"

The US has flown B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by F-15 fighters off North Korea’s coast venturing the “farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone,” separating the two Koreas, in the 21st century, the Pentagon’s spokesperson said....

US flew B-1B bombers just off coast of North Korea (PHOTOS)


The US has flown B-1B Lancer bombers escorted by F-15 fighters off North Korea’s coast venturing the “farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone,” separating the two Koreas, in the 21st century, the Pentagon’s spokesperson said.
The planes took off from Okinawa, Japan and flew over the waters east of the Korean Peninsula.
"This is the farthest north of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) any U.S. fighter or bomber aircraft have flown off North Korea's coast in the 21st century, underscoring the seriousness with which we take (North Korea's) reckless behavior," said Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
 bombers, fighters fly in international airspace east of , farthest north of the DMZ in 21st century https://go.usa.gov/xRJSq 
The DMZ is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula near the 38th Parallel, separating North Korea from South Korea. It was created in 1953, following the armistice which ended the Korean War.
Mission underscores seriousness of DPRK behavior; sends clear message that @POTUS has options to defeat any threat. https://go.usa.gov/xRJSq 
 stands prepared to use our full range of military capabilities to defend the U.S. homeland and our allies if called upon to do so.

The B-1B Lancer strategic bombers entered service in the mid-1980s. The plane was designed specifically as a bomber strictly for a nuclear war, thus having a limited capability to carry conventional bombs. Following the demise of the Soviet Union, the role of a bomber for purely nuclear war became questionable, and the Lancer fleet was grounded. The planes eventually underwent a series of modifications, which bolstered their conventional bombing capacity, but deprived them of their nuclear load.
US today flew nuclear-capable B1-B bomber just off coast of North Korea in show of ‘resolve,’ Pentagon says
The patrol followed a 3.4 earthquake registered in North Korea earlier on Saturday, which prompted fears of a new nuclear test. The seismic event, however, turned out to be a natural occurrence and “unlikely man-made,” according to geology and nuclear weaponry experts.
The show of force reinforced the recent threats voiced by US President Donald Trump, who vowed on Friday that Kim Jong-un “will be tested like never before,” branding the North Korean leader a “madman.”

da "rt.com"

The US is enabling former Al-Nusra jihadists to subvert the Astana peace process, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said after a meeting with Sergey Lavrov. The Russian FM in turn vowed to respond to any provocations from the US’s rebel “friends.” ...


US using Al-Nusra terrorists to undermine Astana peace talks progress – Syrian FM


The US is enabling former Al-Nusra jihadists to subvert the Astana peace process, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said after a meeting with Sergey Lavrov. The Russian FM in turn vowed to respond to any provocations from the US’s rebel “friends.” 
Speaking to journalists following talks with Russia’s top diplomat on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Friday, Muallem accused the US military of enlisting the help of terrorists to wreak agreements on de-escalation zones secured within the Astana reconciliation process.
“They are dissatisfied with the successful outcome of Astana peace process, that’s why they use their [assets], including Jabhat al-Nusra [Al-Nusra Front] to impede the agreements that had been negotiated,” Muallem said, as cited by TASS.
At the latest round of the international talks in the Kazakh capital, backed by Russia, Iran and Turkey as the guarantors of the Syrian ceasefire, the parties agreed on the boundaries of a final de-escalation zone in Idlib province.
The initiative, championed by Moscow, is aimed at separating jihadists, such as Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front, from moderate opposition in the areas designated in the agreement. The deal envisages creating a mechanism to monitor the ceasefire in four de-escalation zones, which include eastern Ghouta, parts of Homs, Hama, Latakia, Aleppo and Idlib provinces as well as territories in southern Syria.
The creation of four de-escalation zones, which has been in process since the initial idea was approved by the Syrian government in May, was hailed by Russia’s special envoy for Syria, Aleksandr Lavrentiev, as a “turning point” in solving the Syrian crisis.
Muallem went on to note that thanks to a fruitful cooperation between Syrian and Russian forces the fight with extremists is nearing its end. More than 87 percent of Syria’s territory has been freed from jihadists’ control, according to the latest data from the Russian Defense Ministry released Friday.
The Syrian people “are getting more and more confident that they are writing the last chapter of the crisis,” the Syrian Foreign Minister pointed out, as cited by RIA Novosti.
Denouncing the US role in Syria, Muallem alleged that Washington intentionally aims to curb the offensive by the Syrian troops in Deir ez-Zor.
“The Americans have not changed their approach so far. In Deir ez-Zor they attempt to impede our army’s advances against ISIS,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lavrov lamented the lack of broader cooperation between the US and Russian forces in Syria, arguing that “to deal a final blow to terrorists in fact, not just deconflicting is needed, coordination is necessary.”
The top Russian diplomat noted that Moscow has made it clear to the State Department and the Pentagon that it would not stand still if Washington-backed militias based in the areas adjacent to the ongoing Syrian army offensive attempt to cause a stir.
"We have sent a clear message that if there are attempts to complicate the end of the counterterrorism operation from the areas that are close to American ‘friends’…it will not be left without reaction," Lavrov warned.
The strong words from Lavrov came on the heels of the report by the Russian Defense Ministry citing intelligence data, that the latest offensive by Al-Nusra Front in the north and northeast of the city of Hama targeting the Syrian troops and, in particular, the Russian military police unit, was likely instigated by the US security service.
According to Russia’s General Staff, the militants tried to capture the Russian servicemen  as they were monitoring a ceasefire in the designated de-escalation zone in the Idlib province. The offensive was swiftly repelled by the Syrian and Russian special operation forces on the ground backed from the air. Some 850 militants were killed as a result of the operation. The special operation forces suffered three injuries but no casualties.
Asked about reports of US alleged indirect involvement in the attack, US-led international coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon appeared to dodge the question, saying said he “had no information” on that issue and “would not entertain that question.”

da "rt.com"

venerdì 22 settembre 2017

Russian MP and former chief prosecutor of Crimea, Natalya Poklonskaya, has said she is ready to testify in court on the events of 2013-2014 in Ukraine, which she called “the assassination” of the country by its current leaders....


‘Kiev is afraid to hear truth’ – ex-Crimean prosecutor ready to testify against Ukrainian offiсials


Russian MP and former chief prosecutor of Crimea, Natalya Poklonskaya, has said she is ready to testify in court on the events of 2013-2014 in Ukraine, which she called “the assassination” of the country by its current leaders.
Poklonskaya was commenting in Moscow on the ruling of a Kiev court that allowed Ukrainian prosecutors to continue her trial in absentia.
In other words, they want to try me without my presence,” she told reporters at a press conference. “The investigation into my case is being conducted in upmost secrecy and silence because it is not in the interests of Ukrainian authorities and prosecutors.”
Still, I want to testify and I want to participate in the questioning of those high-placed Ukrainian officials who are complicit in the tragic events of 2013 and 2014.” Poklonskaya then mentioned a list of officials she deemed guilty, including current Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, former Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk, and Mayor of Kiev Vitaly Klitschko.
Due to the fact that back then I was an acting chief prosecutor in the Main Process Directorate of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, I know a lot about this coup, about the assassination of Ukraine by the current leaders of this destroyed country,” she added.
The real objective of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office is the concealment of their own failures and crimes of Ukrainian leaders. They fear the disclosure of crimes committed by these leaders who are being hated and despised by every second Ukrainian citizen,” Poklonskaya concluded.
Poklonskaya became Crimea’s chief prosecutor at age 33, shortly after the republic seceded from Ukraine and joined the Russian Federation in 2014. The newly installed regime in Kiev reacted by threatening her with arrest, and Ukrainian nationalists reportedly even plotted to assassinate her, but were thwarted by the Russian security services. In September 2016, Poklonskaya was elected as a Russian lower house MP on the ticket of the parliamentary majority party United Russia.
Poklonskaya’s appearance and communication skills made her an international celebrity after the very first press conference in her new role. She became an internet idol, especially in Japan, where her fans call her ‘Prosecutie’ and have launched a cult of devotees who called themselves ‘Nataliaites’.
However, Poklonskaya has expressed irritation over the media hype surrounding her name, and has asked reporters to treat her more seriously as “she was a lawyer, not a Pokémon or something of this kind.”
In 2016, Ukrainian prosecutors began a criminal case against Poklonskaya on charges of high treason. She reacted by calling the process politically charged and in August this year she told reporters that she had not received a single warrant from Ukrainian prosecutors concerning this case.

da "rt.com"

Somalia's government has rebuked its three semi-autonomous regions for cutting ties with Qatar, saying it was determined to stay neutral in the Gulf state's dispute with other Arab states. The region of Galmudug issued a statement on Wednesday saying it stood with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in the regional dispute, following similar declarations last month by the regions of Puntland and Hirshabelle....

Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire's office urged that the Gulf crisis be resolved 'brotherly, peacefully and diplomatically' [Feisal Omar/Reuters]
Somalia's government has rebuked its three semi-autonomous regions for cutting ties with Qatar, saying it was determined to stay neutral in the Gulf state's dispute with other Arab states.
The region of Galmudug issued a statement on Wednesday saying it stood with the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in the regional dispute, following similar declarations last month by the regions of Puntland and Hirshabelle.
Somalia's federal government responded on Thursday by saying only it had the authority to speak on foreign affairs.
Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egyptcut political and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing it of "supporting terrorism" and their regional rival, Iran - charges that Qatar vehemently denies.
The spat over this crisis in volatile but strategically located Somalia illustrated how far the political ripples from the Gulf dispute have spread.
Somalia's open stance is important for Qatar - Somalia's airspace remains open for Qatar Airways, a critical lifeline amid the blockade.
Arab Gulf states have meanwhile been pouring resources into the semi-autonomous regions.
"[The Arab states] are trying to give more energy and emphasise more their relations with these regional governments, trying to pressure them to go against the federal government," said Nairobi-based Somalia expert Ahmed Roble.
Somalia's position also underlines its delicate position - dependent on trade from Saudi Arabia, but increasingly close to Turkey, which is backing Qatar in the dispute.
Saudi Arabia is Somalia's top export partner, and the UAE supplies the Horn of Africa country with key imports from electronics to building materials.
Turkey has poured in more than $1bn in aid into the country since President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's visit to Somalia in 2011 and is expected to open a military base in the capital Mogadishu this month.
"The cabinet reaffirms the federal government's decision in June ... that Somalia is neutral about the conflict of Gulf countries," read a statement issued by the office of Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.
The statement called on "the conflict be solved brotherly, peacefully and diplomatically".

da "aljazeera.com"

Deficiencies in Afghanistan's security forces, including the military and police, are getting renewed attention as the US administration considers sending more than 3,000 additional troops to the country. President Donald Trump held talks on Thursday with his Afghan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City, where both expressed optimism about the planned increase in US troop numbers.....

Deficiencies in Afghanistan's security forces, including the military and police, are getting renewed attention as the US administration considers sending more than 3,000 additional troops to the country.
President Donald Trump held talks on Thursday with his Afghan counterpart, Ashraf Ghani, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City, where both expressed optimism about the planned increase in US troop numbers.
The US has spent $70bn training Afghan forces since 2002 and is still spending more than $4bn a year, according to a report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), published on Thursday.
Despite those sums, Afghan security forces are struggling to prevent advances by Talibanfighters, more than 16 years after the US invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban government that gave al-Qaeda the sanctuary where it plotted the September 11, 2001, attacks.
According to US estimates, government forces control less than 60 percent of Afghanistan, with almost half the country either contested or under the control of fighters.
The report said US forces focused on carrying out military operations during the initial years after the 2001 invasion, rather than developing the Afghan army and police.
When the US and NATO did look to develop the security forces, they did so with little input from senior Afghan officials, according to the report.
"The report does not surprise us. We've been hearing about these irregularities for many years now, and many here in Afghanistan have witnessed it," Habib Wardak, an Afghan security specialist, told Al Jazeera from Kabul.
"When the idea of creating the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) came up, it was a rapid building up of the army. The government was recruiting anyone from militias to warlords.
"In 2010 and 2011, the focus was on building the capabilities of assets. We've seen a helicopter pilot going in and teaching Afghan security forces how to battle insurgency, which is ridiculous.
"You have a military which is fighting the war, but no one is raising questions that at what cost is the Afghan army fighting the Taliban."
At one point, the report said, training for Afghan police officials used PowerPoint slides from US and NATO operations in the Balkans.
 
"The presentations were not only of questionable relevance to the Afghan setting but also overlooked the high levels of illiteracy among the police," the report said.
John Sopko, the head of SIGAR, said that one US officer watched TV shows such as Cops and NCIS to understand what to teach Afghan officials.
He said the US approach to Afghanistan lacked a "whole of government approach" in which different agencies such as the state department and Pentagon coordinate efforts.
The inability of embassy officials in Kabul to venture far outside their secure compound also affected oversight and coordination, he said.
"The rules of engagement what President Trump is talking about might be able to contain Taliban up to certain extent, but it's not the Afghan army in true essence that will be able to contain or confine the Taliban and not let them advance," Wardak told Al Jazeera.
Afghan police and army units in 2015 took over from NATO the task of providing security for the country.
According to SIGAR, 6,785 Afghan soldiers and police officers were killed between January 1 and November 12, 2016, with another 11,777 wounded.
Even those partial numbers showed an increase of about 35 percent from all of 2015 when some 5,000 security forces were killed.
Still, Sopko credited the Afghans for "fighting hard and improving in many ways", but stressed the US and NATO have to do a better job helping them.

da "aljazeera.com"

Israeli bombs have landed near Syria's Damascus International Airport as warplanes targeted arsenal storage sites for the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, according to a monitoring group....

Smoke rises from the Damascus International Airport after an alleged air strike in January [File: Reuters TV]
Israeli bombs have landed near Syria's Damascus International Airport as warplanes targeted arsenal storage sites for the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, according to a monitoring group.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday that the overnight strikes resulted in "destruction and damage in the places where the missiles fell" and "the explosion shook the Damascus International Airport".
The strikes were the latest in a series of Israeli attacks on Syria, where a six-year civil war has devastated much of the country and displaced millions of citizens.
Last month, a senior Israeli official vowed that Israel would bomb Syrian President basharBashar al-Assad's palace in Damascus if Iran continued to expand its territory in the war-torn country.
In August, during a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin, a close ally of Assad, Netanyahu voiced concerns about the presence of Iranian forces and Hezbollah in Syria. 
Two weeks ago, Israel reportedly struck a Syrian government depot associated with the country's chemical weapons production. 
The Syrian conflict began in March 2011 against the Assad government, but it morphed into a full-on civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, according to the United Nations.
Throughout the years, opposition forces have grown deeply divided, many of them fighting the government and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) simultaneously. Other rebel factions have fought one another. 
The war has since evolved into a complex, multi-front conflict involving government forces, Syrian rebels, Kurdish fighters and armed groups, including ISIL.
The Assad government, backed by Russia and Iran, has found itself at odds with the US, Turkey and others who have backed rebel forces.

Growing international discord

On Thursday, Russia warned the US it would target US-backed armed groups in Syria if Russian troops again came under fire.
That same day, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan told Reuters Turkey will deploy troops in Syria's northern Idlib region as part of a so-called de-escalation agreement brokered by Russia last month.
The "de-escalation" zones, agreed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, would be further discussed in talks with Putin during the Russian president's trip to Ankara next week. 
"Under the agreement, Russians are maintaining security outside Idlib and Turkey will maintain the security inside Idlib region," Erdogan said.
"The task is not easy ... With Putin we will discuss additional steps needed to be taken in order to eradicate terrorists once and for all to restore peace."

da "aljazeera.com"

Islamabad, Pakistan - Indian military shooting across the de-facto border has killed at least six Pakistani civilians, Pakistan's military says. At least 26 people were also wounded in the exchange of fire, which affected Pakistan's Chappar, Harpal and Charwa sectors, the Pakistani military said in a statement on Friday.

Tensions between India and Pakistan have been especially high since last July [Shahid Ikram/AP]
Islamabad, Pakistan - Indian military shooting across the de-facto border has killed at least six Pakistani civilians, Pakistan's military says.
At least 26 people were also wounded in the exchange of fire, which affected Pakistan's Chappar, Harpal and Charwa sectors, the Pakistani military said in a statement on Friday.
Skirmishes across the Line of Control (LoC), the de-facto border between India and Pakistan, have become increasingly common in the last year, despite a 2003 ceasefire agreement.
The sectors reportedly targeted in the violence, which broke out on Thursday, fall in the Pakistani province of Punjab, parts of which are separated from Indian-administered Kashmir by a separate de-facto border known as the Working Boundary.
Pakistan's military said a senior officer contacted his Indian counterpart via a telephone hotline to lodge a protest against the violence.
Separately, the Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Indian high commissioner to lodge a protest over the violence, according to a statement.
Footage released by the Pakistani military showed several seriously wounded civilians being treated for their injuries. At least one had a leg amputated.
Major-General Azhar Naveed, a senior Pakistani military officer in charge of the country's border forces in the area, visited the sectors where the violence took place on Friday.
The South Asian neighbours have fought two of their three wars since gaining independence from the British over the disputed Himalayan territory.
India and Pakistan both claim Kashmir in full but administer separate parts of it, divided by the LoC.
Tensions between them have been especially high since last July, when Indian security forces killed a young Kashmiri separatist commander, prompting months of street protests.
The ensuing Indian security forces crackdown has seen more than 100 protesters killed and frequent violence in Indian-administered Kashmir.
On Thursday, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Pakistan's prime minister, told the UN General Assembly that India had violated the 2003 ceasefire agreement at least 600 times this year.
"If India does venture across the LoC, or acts upon its doctrine of 'limited' war against Pakistan, it will evoke a strong and matching response," he said.
Abbasi called for a UN investigation into the Indian security forces' practices in Kashmir, accusing them of committing "war crimes".
In a separate meeting with Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, on Thursday, Abbasi sought the appointment of a special UN envoy on the Kashmir conflict.

da " per "aljazeera.com"