Israel issued a stark warning to Iran on Sunday, warning that it fully intends to “wipe Iran off the map” if they continue to defend Syrian airspace.  Israel carried out huge air raids in Syria on Saturday, including against Iranian targets – the first time it has publicly admitted doing so since the start of Syria’s seven-year civil war.


Israel prepare to wipe Iran off the map

Yahoo News reports: The raids came after an Israeli F16 fighter was shot down by Syrian air defences. The pilots survived, but it was Israel’s first loss of a warplane in battle since 1982.

“We inflicted on Saturday a heavy blow to Iranian and Syrian forces,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

“We made clear to everyone that our rules of engagement will not change in any way. We will continue to harm anyone who tries to harm us. This was our policy and this will remain our policy.”

 Other Israeli ministers spoke of refusing to accept Iran entrenching itself militarily in Syria, as Netanyahu has said repeatedly. Tehran denies it is doing so.

 While several analysts said they did not expect a further escalation in the coming days, some spoke of the possibility of the Syrian war entering a new phase.

 Syria has become more emboldened to try to stop Israeli strikes inside the country, while Israel wants to maintain its ability to operate there when it sees fit, said Ofer Zalzberg of the International Crisis Group think tank.

 Israel has sought to stay out of direct involvement in the Syrian war, but it acknowledges carrying out dozens of air strikes there to stop what it describes as deliveries of advanced weapons to Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

 Israel fought a devastating war in 2006 with Hezbollah, which along with Iran and Russia backs the Syrian regime in the conflict.

“I think this incident is more likely to be contained because fundamentally it is a gradual attempt to renegotiate the so-called rules of the game,” Zalzberg said, adding that Russia should mediate.

 Witnesses said Israel had deployed a missile defence system in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the demarcation line with Syria on Sunday morning.

– ‘Playing with fire’ –

 Saturday’s events began with Israel shooting down what it described as an Iranian drone that had entered Israeli airspace from Syria — which Tehran has denied.

 On Sunday, Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus alleged the drone was a copy of a US model captured by Iran in 2011. He said the conclusion was made from an analysis of the drone’s debris.

 Israel responded on Saturday with a raid on what it said was the Iranian control systems in Syria that sent the drone.

 During that raid, the Israeli F16 met heavy Syrian anti-aircraft fire and was hit, Israeli Air Force Brigadier General Amnon Ein Dar told army radio.

 The pilots ejected and the plane crashed inside Israel. One crew member was severely wounded, but his condition was said to be improving on Sunday.

 srael then carried out what it called “large-scale” air strikes inside Syria, including against what it described as Iranian targets.

 Conricus warned on Saturday that Syria and Iran were “playing with fire”, but stressed that Israel was not seeking an escalation.

“This is the most blatant and severe Iranian violation of Israeli sovereignty” in recent years, Conricus said.

 Iran dismissed Israeli “lies” and said Syria had the right to defend itself against Israeli attacks.

 Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said “Iran does not have a military presence in Syria, and has only sent military advisers at the request of the Syrian government.”

 Russia stressed the need to “avoid any measure that could lead to a dangerous escalation”.

 United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate de-escalation.

 Netanyahu spoke with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after Saturday’s confrontation.

Washington backed Israel and blamed Iran for the escalation.

 Tillerson on Sunday begins a Middle East tour that will take him to Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Kuwait.

 Netanyahu has met regularly with Putin in recent months in a bid to convince Russia to keep Iranian forces away from Israeli territory.

 Russia and Israel have also established a hotline to avoid accidental clashes in Syria.


The Israeli military has deployed anti-missile systems, as well as “missile defense batteries” on the northern part of country’s border with Syria, according to reports.

The move comes a day after the Syrian army shot down an intruding Israeli F-16 warplane.

Press TV reports: The Jerusalem Post on Sunday cited witnesses as saying that they had seen convoys of “missile defense batteries” north-bound near the city of Baka al-Gharbiya. It said others had posted photos of “trucks carrying the batteries on central highways in northern Israel.”

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ALERT ALERT

 Judge Orders Mueller To Prove  Russia Meddled In Election 

Judge Dabney L. Friedrich

A Washington federal judge on Thursday ordered special counsel Robert Mueller’s team to clarify election meddling claims lodged against a Russian company operated by Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Bloomberg.

Concord Management and Consulting, LLC. – one of three businesses indicted by Mueller in February along with 13 individuals for election meddling, surprised the special counsel in April when they actually showed up in court to fight the charges. Mueller’s team tried to delay Concord from entering the case, arguing that thee Russian company not been properly served, however Judge Dabney Friedrich denied the request – effectively telling prosecutors ‘well, they’re here.’

Concord was accused in the indictment of supporting the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian ‘troll farm’ accused of trying to influence the 2016 US election.

On Thursday, Judge Freidrich asked Mueller’s prosecutors if she should assume they aren’t accusing Concord of violating US laws applicable to election expenditures and failure to register as a foreign agent.

Concord has asked Dabney to throw out the charges – claiming that Mueller’s office fabricated a crime, and that there is no law against interfering in elections.

According to the judge’s request for clarification, the Justice Department has argued that it doesn’t have to show that Concord had a legal duty to report its expenditures to the Federal Election Commission. Rather, the allegation is that the company knowingly engaged in deceptive acts that precluded the FEC, or the Justice Department, from ascertaining whether they had broken the law. -Bloomberg

On Monday, Friedrich raised questions over whether the special counsel’s office could prove a key element of their case – saying that it was “hard to see” how allegations of Russian influence were intended to interfere with US government operations vs. simply “confusing voters,” reports law.com.

During a 90-minute hearing, Friedrich questioned prosecutor Jonathan Kravis about how the government would be able to show the Russian defendants were aware of the Justice Department and FEC’s functions and then deliberately sought to skirt them.

“You still have to show knowledge of the agencies and what they do. How do you do that?” Friedrich asked.

Kravis, a prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, argued that the government needed only to show that Concord Management and the other defendants were generally aware that the U.S. government “regulates and monitors” foreign participation in American politics. That awareness, Kravis said, could be inferred from the Russians’ alleged creation of fake social media accounts that appeared to be run by U.S. citizens and “computer infrastructure” intended to mask the Russian origin of the influence operation.

“That is deception that is directed at a higher level,” Kravis said. Kravis appeared in court with Michael Dreeben, a top Justice Department appellate lawyer on detail to the special counsel’s office. -law.com

Concord pleaded not guilty in May. Their attorney, Eric Dubelier – a partner at Reed Smith, has described the election meddling charges as “make believe,” arguing on Monday that Mueller’s indictment against Concord “doesn’t charge a crime.”

“There is no statute of interfering with an election. There just isn’t,” said Dubelier, who added that Mueller’s office alleged a “made-up crime to fit the facts they have.”

Dubelier added that the case against Concord Management is the first in US history “where anyone has ever been charged with defrauding the Justice Department” through their failure to register under FARA.

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