Russia preparing airstrikes on Isil if US does not back deal to keep Assad in office.

Russia sends dozens of fighter jets and helicopter gunships to Syria amid growing signs that Western leaders may support plan to allow Bashar al-Assad to remain in power in the country

An Mi-8 helicopter participates in Russian strategic military exercises last week

An Mi-8 helicopter participates in Russian strategic military exercises last week  Photo: Barcroft Media

Vladimir Putin is preparing to attack Isil in Syria amid growing signs that Western leaders may support a Russian plan to allow Bashar al-Assad to remain in power in the country.

Russia has sent dozens of fighter jets and helicopter gunships to Syria as he steps up his support for Assad, the country’s president, in the fight against Isil jihadists.

Mr Putin is understood to have told America that he is prepared to authorise unilateral Russian air strikes on Isil targets if the US does not back his plans to take on the jihadists while allowing Assad to remain in power.

Putin and Assad meeting in Moscow, 2005Putin and Assad meeting in Moscow, 2005

There have been growing signs that Western leaders are now softening their opposition to Assad remaining in power.

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said on Thursday: “We have to speak with many actors. This includes Assad, but others as well.

“Not only with the United States of America, Russia, but with important regional partners, Iran, and Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia.”

And Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, who has been a fierce critic of Assad, on Thurday suggested for the first time that the Syrian president could have a role to play in a future political transition.

“The process could possibly be without Assad, or the transitional process could be with him,” he said.

Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary, and John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, have suggested that Assad must step down but that there could be a transitional period during which he remains in power.

However, there was also concern amongst European leaders about Russia’s decision to increase its military presence in Syria.

Mr Putin has drafted a request for the Russian upper house of parliament to approve the deployment of 2,000 air personnel to Syria, but has yet to formally submit it, according to Bloomberg, citing anonymous sources.

Mr Putin’s spokesman denied the claim.

Michael Fallon, Britain’s Defence Secretary, said that the “Russian build-up in Syria only complicates an already complicated and difficult situation”.

And Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Defence Minister, called on Moscow to justify a “very significant” buildup in Syria and said if its intention was “to protect” Mr Assad, it should say so.

Russia’s increasing involvement in Syria is likely to dominate next week’s session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where Mr Putin is scheduled to meet Barack Obama on Monday.

Obama meets with Putin during the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, 2013Obama meets with Putin during the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland, 2013

“It would be irresponsible not to test whether we can make progress through high-level engagement,” a US official told AFP.

Russia has called on Western and Middle Eastern countries to form a broad anti-Isil coalition including Mr Assad’s government, arguing that Syrian government forces are the only ones capable of combatting terrorists on the battlefield.

Mr Putin is a staunch ally of Mr Assad and has supplied him with weapons and military advice throughout the four-year civil war.

But a recent increase in Russian activity in Syria, including reported deployment of drones and combat aircraft to an airbase near the government stronghold of Latakia, has prompted speculation that Russia is preparing to intervene on the regime’s side in the conflict.

The developments have raised concerns about the dangers of uncoordinated operations by both Russian forces and the Nato-led coalition currently prosecuting a campaign against Islamic State.

Earlier this week Mr Putin met with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to agree to a coordination mechanism to avoid clashes between Russian troops in Syria and Israeli forces.

The Russian defence ministry said the naval exercises announced on Thursday had been planned since the end of 2014, and described them as part of the “traditional” autumn exercises carried out by the Russian armed forces.

The rocket cruise Moskva, destroyer Smetlivy, and the landing craft Saratov are amongst the vessels slated to take part in exercises in September and October, the ministry said in a statement.

The Moskva guided missile cruiserThe Moskva guided missile cruiser

Several of the vessels, most of which serve with Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, have already been deployed to the area. The Smetlivy was seen passing through the Bosporus last week.

Muslims Killing Muslims-Yemen mosque bombing kills dozens during Eid prayers. 

Sanaa, Yemen (CNN)A bombing in a crowded mosque in Yemen’s capital killed at least 29 people attending Eid prayers Thursday.

Officials fear the death toll from the attack at the Al Bilaili mosque in Sanaa will rise, because dozens of worshippers suffered severe injuries.

The terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility on social media for the bombing. ISIS posted the statement on Twitter and said the bombing came as “part of a series of military operations to revenge Muslims against Houthis.”

Houthi rebels are acting as the government in Yemen, having driven the internationally recognized government out of power.

Video taken after the attack showed the power of the blast.

Rubble covered the streets. A hole was blown through what appeared to be a thick cement wall. Bits of stone and plaster littered the prayer floor inside the mosque.

Blood appeared to have stained the carpet where the faithful would have been praying. And shoes, which Muslims take off before entering a mosque, remained unclaimed outside.

5 things to know about Eid al-Adha

The attack is the sixth in three months in which a mosque has been targeted.

The early morning prayer service was meant to mark the beginning of Eid al-Adha, which commemorates the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God. The holiday is one of two major ones in Islam.

Russia decries shelling of its embassy in Syria – Al Jazeera English

Russia decries shelling of its embassy in Syria

Russian foreign ministry calls for “concrete action” in the wake of Sunday’s attack on its embassy compound.

21 Sep 2015 21:31 GMT |

The Russian foreign ministry has blamed an attack on its Damascus embassy compound on ‘anti-government gunmen’ [Associated Press]

Russia has said that a shell landed on the grounds of its embassy compound in Damascus, without inflicting any casualties.

The mortar landed on the embassy’s territory around 9am on Sunday morning and caused no damage or injuries, the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement on Monday.

“A large labelled fragment of the shell was later extracted from the earth by Syrian mine clearance specialists,” the ministry’s statement added. “Efforts are now being taken to find out how this shell came across to militants.”

The ministry blamed the “criminal attack” on “anti-government gunmen” who it claims fired the shell from Jobar, a district of the Syrian capital.

‘Clear position’

The ministry called for “concrete action,” adding: “We expect a clear position over this terrorist attack from all members of the international community, including regional parties.”

The attack comes at a time when Russia has been criticised for increased military involvement in Syria, where it is a staunch ally of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

The Russian government has admitted to having military advisers on the ground in Syria and delivering surface-to-air missiles and combat aircrafts to Syrian government forces, as well as refortifying a government-controlled military base near the coastal city of Latakia.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin reiterated his country’s support for Assad’s forces on Sunday. Speaking on Russian television, Putin said the Syrian government “is trying to maintain its own statehood”.

Foreign involvement

The Russian foreign ministry’s statement claimed the groups behind the attack were acting at the behest of “foreign sponsors”, although it did not clarify which countries. No groups have claimed credit for the shelling at this time.

Rebels have denounced the ongoing Russian military buildup in Syria. Speaking to Reuters, one group, Jaish al-Islam, claimed to have carried out a missile attack on a military base in Latakia being used by Russian soldiers.

Abu Ghaith al-Shami, spokesperson for the Free Syrian Army-aligned Alwiyat Seif al-Sham militia, told Reuters that rebels’ regional backers may also increase their involvement.

“As for the states that support us, … I think there will be a change in their attitude towards us, via support, or perhaps a political shift,” the spokesperson said.

Syria carries out rare attacks on ISIS capital? Surprising Hell maybe Russia will kill some ISIS scum!

BEIRUT — Syrian warplanes carried out a wave of airstrikes in the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa, activists said, in rare attacks that coincided with a visit by a UN envoy to Damascus on Thursday.

In the country’s south, helicopters dropped barrel bombs that struck a busy market place, killing at least 17 people. An activist in the rebel-held Bosra Sham said the explosives were dropped as the market was packed with shoppers and people buying necessities for children who go back to school this week.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, he said around 24 people were killed and many others wounded, with many of them in critical condition. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 17. Such discrepancies are common in the aftermath of large bombings.

Two Syria-based groups as well as the Observatory said earlier Thursday that warplanes carried out at least 12 airstrikes across the ISIS-held city of Raqqa in northern Syria. They reported casualties but had no specific figures. It was not immediately clear what was hit.

Syrian President Bashar al-AssadPhoto: AP

The city is the self-declared capital of the Islamic State group’s self-styled caliphate, which includes large parts of Syria and Iraq. The region is often targeted by a US-led coalition fighting ISIS from the air. The Syrians have occasionally targeted the city as well, but Syrian government airstrikes typically concentrate on opposition-held areas of the country.

Syrian President Bashar Assad reiterated in an interview with Russian media aired Wednesday that the US refuses to coordinate with his government in the fight against ISIS.

For the US officials, “if they cooperate with the Syrian army, this is like recognition of our effectiveness in fighting ISIS,” Assad said. He also said that his priority is “defeating terrorism” in Syria.

Russia is trying to convince the West of the need to work with Syria in the fight against ISIS.

Thursday’s airstrikes on Raqqa coincided with a visit by the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to Damascus. De Mistura met with Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem, who repeated to him that fighting terrorism was the Syrian government’s priority, according to the state-run news agency SANA.

More than 250,000 people have been killed in Syria’s civil war, according to UN officials. Thats a lot of Dead Muslims!

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