i hope south front will never show the insipid sympathy for israel characteristic of rt.com and sputnik

New Israeli Strikes On Gaza – New Hope For Netanyahu
South Front, Jun 16 2021

Thousands of Israelis waved flags and marched in a Palestinian neighborhood of Jerusalem, asserting Israeli control over the city and testing the feeble ceasefire in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The march had been delayed from last month out of concern it would escalate the violence in the city just as fighting was breaking out between Israel and Palestinian groups on May 10. Hamas vowed a response to the recent escalation, and returned to its usual military practice: launching incendiary balloons into Israeli territory. The IOF said that 20 fires were sparked by these attacks over the past 24 hours, and in response scrambled warplanes to carry out airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

The IOF said that it had targeted Hamas military compounds, used by the group’s operatives. The Israeli strikes in Gaza appeared to cause no deaths or injuries. But the Israeli military warned that it was “prepared for any scenario, including a resumption of hostilities, in the face of continuing terror activities from the Gaza Strip.” Israel also deployed Iron Dome to the country’s south to guarantee security. Tel Aviv’s government needed to show that it had security under control, especially since it hosted a full delegation of former US generals who met with various IDF officials.

Earlier on Jun 15, in Jerusalem, mostly young Israelis marched to the main entrance to the Old City’s Muslim quarter. Many of them chanted “Death to Arabs.” There, a few thousand dancing demonstrators had gathered to celebrate Israel’s contested control of East Jerusalem. Scores of stone-throwing Palestinians took part in running street battles with Israeli security forces, who used rubber bullets, batons and water cannons spraying foul-smelling water to scatter those trying to disrupt the nationalist celebration outside the Old City walls. At least 33 people were injured, including a 14-year-old boy hit by a rubber bullet, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Israeli police said that two officers were lightly wounded and 17 people were arrested during the protests.

Hamas leaders had urged Palestinians to take part in a “day of rage” to challenge the protest outside the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, and the militant group then launched incendiary balloons. The march’s organizers are former allies turned political enemies of new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who has drawn ire from Israel’s right-wing population for forming a coalition that also includes the left-wing and an Arab party. Netanyahu claimed that him being removed from his post was just temporary and he would be back in a short time-span, as Israel is essentially lost without him. Any sort of escalation in the West Bank is in his favor, as he may claim that his competition is not effectively dealing with the situation.

Israel Struck Gaza Strip Despite Recent Ceasefire
South Front, Jun 16 2021

Late on Jun 15, the IOF struck a number of military sites belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The attack was carried out in response to 20 fires sparked because of incendiary balloons launched earlier in the day on the territory of Israel. The IOF Spokesperson’s Unit said in a statement:

Fighter jets recently attacked Hamas military complexes that served as camps and meeting places for terrorist operatives in the Khan Yunis and Gaza brigades. The IDF is prepared for all scenarios, including the resumption of hostilities, in the face of continued terrorist acts from the Gaza Strip.

A number of fires broke out in southern Israel on Jun 14, with at least 20 fires sparked by incendiary balloons launched from Gaza. Earlier in the day, Palestinian media published photos of terrorists preparing such balloons to launch towards Israel. Meanwhile, three Gazans were arrested by the IDF after they crossed the Gaza border fence into Israel, according to Palestinian reports. The attack was carried out amid the flag march in Israel. Iron Dome anti-missile defense system were also reinforced ahead of the march, amid threats by Hamas in recent days and weeks. After Operation Guardian of the Walls in mid-May, Gantz warned that Israel would respond forcefully to any act of aggression against Israel. On Jun 15 evening, Defense Minister Benny Gantz held a situation assessment with IOF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman, IOF Intelligence Directorate head Maj-Gen Tamir Heiman, IOF intelligence analysis chief Brig-Gen Amit Saar and Defense Ministry Policy and Political-Military Bureau head Zohar Palti. No further information about the meeting was released in the statement by Gantz’s office. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has also made statements warning that incendiary balloons would be treated like rockets and their launch would result in Israeli response. However, responses by the IOF were not as strong or as frequent as balloons launched from Gaza.

Locals Intercepted, Stoned US Forces Convoy In Northeastern Syria
South Front, Jun 16 2021

On Jun 15, civilians supporters of the Damascus government intercepted a patrol of the US-led coalition in the town of Farfara in the northern al-Hasakah countryside in Syria’s northeastern region. The civilians blocked the town’s main road and stoned US military vehicles. Eventually, the patrol was forced to retreat from the town. The reporter of the Syrian Arab News Agency in northern al-Hasakah said:

The people of Farfara town confronted an American patrol consisting of four armored vehicles accompanied by a car of SDF militants, and threw stones at it as it tried to pass near their town.

According to the reporter, some US military vehicles were lightly damaged as a result of the locals’ stone-throwing attack. This was not the first such encounter. Over the last two years, locals, pro-government fighters and Syrian Arab Army soldiers in northeastern Syria intercepted dozens of US-led coalition patrols. In very few cases, clashes broke out. Nevertheless, the situation never developed into a full-on confrontation. These encounters restricted the movement of US-led coalition forces in northeastern Syria. A number of areas are now considered a “no-drive zone” for coalition troops, which are viewed as occupiers by many in the region.

Chaos Continues In Turkish-Occupied Areas: Two Killed, Four Wounded In New Afrin Attack
South Front, Jun 16 2021

On Jun 15, two people were killed and four others were wounded in yet another blast in the Turkish-occupied Syrian area of Afrin in northern Aleppo. The blast was reportedly caused by a booby-trapped vehicle that blew up near Kafr Janneh junction to the northeast of Afrin’s city center. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, one of the two casualties was the driver of the booby-trapped vehicle. He is yet to be identified. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing, so far. The bombing was the most recent in a series of attacks against Turkish forces and civilians in Afrin. Last week, a rocket attack killed 22 people and wounded more than 20 others in Afrin city. Kurdish forces, namely the YPG and the PKK, are usually blamed for these attacks. The Turkish military and its proxies occupied Afrin in 2018. Since then, Kurdish forces have been waging an insurgency against them. The situation in the Kurdish-majority area remains unstable, just like other Turkish-occupied areas in northern and northeastern Syria.

Russian Mercenaries Accused Of Carrying Out Civilian Massacres In CAR: CNN
South Front, Jun 16 2021

On Jun 15, CNN reported that Russian mercenaries in the Central African Republic had been ‘implicated in torture and killing of civilians.’ The report begins with an alleged witness testimony claiming that on Feb 15, Russian mercenaries attacked a village and shot, and killed, civilians in a mosque. The witness ‘Fatouma’ had both her children shot, but they survived. Fatouma said:

It was the Russians and the FACA [the CAR army].

The timeline is allegedly this: Russian mercenaries, supported by at least one combat helicopter, attacked the neighborhood as they hunted for rebels known as the Seleka. But according to multiple witnesses, they opened fire indiscriminately against civilians, many of them hiding at the al Taqwa mosque. Fatouma said:

There was not a single Seleka element found in the mosque. It was just the civilian population that they killed. We didn’t even see a dead Seleka body on the ground, it was our children they killed.

A video was shared back in mid-May by French media allegedly showing Russian mercenaries over the bodies of CAR civilians that they killed in the said mosque. Russian media and specialists claim that the video is fake, and the individuals in the footage are actors and showing props, including the corpses. It is simply footage of a Russian action film about its mercenaries and troops in CAR, and footage of the production was leaked online. Still, due to the graphic nature of it, viewer discretion is advised:

Those who are skeptical about the authenticity of the video are also advised to watch the trailer of the upcoming “Russian action film” – ‘Tourist’:

Reported alleged incidents of abuses have spiked since late December, when Russian mercenaries joined a government offensive against rebel groups that had tried to advance on the capital.

In a letter to Ivan Mechetin, the Russian mercenary force’s representative in CAR, in March the UNWG wrote:

The deployment of your personnel appears to have contributed to the rapid escalation and intensification of hostilities, in turn resulting in civilian harm and suffering.

CNN and The Sentry obtained confidential UN documents that support the accusations against the Russian mercenaries made by witnesses and victims. A report compiled by the UN peacekeeping force in CAR, known as MINUSCA, said that in Bambari:

FACA and bilateral forces especially Russians and elements believed to be Syrians may have committed war crimes, especially in executing civilians and other individuals who were not taking part in hostilities.

In its report on the incident in Bambari, the UN Working Group (UNWG) on Mercenaries said Russian mercenaries stood “accused of using excessive force and shelling protected sites such as a mosque and IDP camps.” And on Mar 14, a group of Russians shot dead the chief of a village near Bambari after accusing him of being sympathetic to the rebels, according to a community leader from a neighboring village, who spoke to Sentry on condition of anonymity. The community leader said the Russians allegedly set fire to 60 homes and stole motorbikes and other goods. The MINUSCA team that investigated the incident in mid-March reported that three men were believed to have been “executed” by FACA/Russian forces. According to the confidential MINUSCA report:

These three men were not armed when they were arrested at the entrance of the mosque.

According to the CNN, the UN said it admitted to war crimes, but actually it simply said that mercenaries, military and UN peacekeepers had close contacts. The UN-appointed independent experts, including the UN Working Group on mercenaries, said:

This blurring of the lines between civil, military and peacekeeping operations during the hostilities creates confusion about the legitimate targets and increases the risks for widespread human rights and humanitarian law abuses.

Whether any of this is true remains in question, as CNN provided an alleged MINUSCA report that mentions none of what the report claims. Other than that, it is based on unidentified witnesses, also loosely understood statements.

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