Russian Company To Offer Tours In War-Torn Syria

Wanting to be taken to the frontlines of the war in Syria? This might be your chance. A Russian tourism company is planning to offer trips to the war-torn country next year, according to various Russian media reports. Megapolis Ltd. has registered to use the trademark “Assad Tours,” named after the embattled Syrian dictator, and has… Read More

Millennial Intelligencer- A Country in Flames: Syrian Army Armed with Russian Thermobaric Weapons

Syria is on fire.

Confirmed sightings have been made in the country of both RPO-A “Bumblebees” and TOS-1 “Burratinos”.

Both of these platforms utilize thermobaric warheads, which disperse their fuel when approaching their target and ignite, creating large fireballs.

The Syrian Army has become infamous for its utilization of “barrel bombs” in the four year civil war. The inherent inaccuracy of the crude platform has lead to an abhorrent number of civilians being incinerated by the al-Assad Regime.

Despite Russian claims to the contrary, barrel bombings still occur, and with an alarming frequency. The Syrian Network for Human Rights claims that since the beginning of the Russian intervention into Syria, 120 people, including children, have been killed.

Thus the provision of the shoulder carried RPO to the Syrian army is alarming. The mission of the platform is primarily to destroy light skinned targets (i.e. infantry, cars) or clear out indoor spaces with either the six to seven meter fire ball, or the ensuing overpressure.

This will prove vital to Syrian Army forces in urban settings when fighting either FSA units or ISIS.

WATCH: Video showing force of American designed thermobaric warheads

Meanwhile, the Russians have been moving in both 2S19 Msta and TOS-1.

The former is a former of self propelled artillery with conventional 152 mm shells. The latter, is a T-72 chassis with an attached Multiple Rocket Launcher (MRL), equipped to fire 24 220 mm thermobaric warheads at one time.

While the “Burratino” can be used against population centers, the more likely target will be forests, or other concealment in which FSA units are hiding. These artillery pieces have been deployed to the Latakia region, implying that the Russians intend to assist a Syrian Army operation in that part of the country.

Nonetheless, the platform presents another potential means of horrific death for the Syrian people, and makes the possibility of removing al-Assad more remote.

(The ongoing civil war in Syria is a nightmare for the people of Syria. UNICEF has a specially earmarked page for Syrian children and mothers, should you feel the urge to help.)

Have a news tip? Send it to [email protected]. Like to write? You can become a Rise News contributor.  

Cover Photo Credit: Freedom House/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Shame On Us: Why America Should Never Forget Our Refugee History

The following is the opinion of the writer of this piece and not necessarily of Rise News.

By Tony R. Myhre

In recent weeks, I’ve seen a few of these analysis pieces speaking towards the economic and security benefits of allowing Syrian refugees into the United States.

Growing up, the community where we lived was largely Section 8 housing.

This resulted in a host of refugees from Southeast Asia (Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam) coming to live in my complex.

Those were all countries where the United States had engaged in ‘suppressing communism’. I don’t recall being indoctrinated by one of these refugees, nor do I recall one of them engaging in militant or subversive activity against the interests of the United States.

Yes, they were different. They dug holes in the ground to relieve themselves, despite have toilets in their apartments. They hung their sink washed laundry from the eaves of their decks and porches, rather than using the washer and dryer in the laundry room. The food they ate was different, and no one could understand a word they were saying. But it worked. Eventually, things ‘normalized’.

“I’m not a terrorist sympathizer – anyone who knows me, knows that. But I am a human being – and neither my conscience nor my God will allow me to turn away the least of these simply because they could be dangerous.”

I’m related to refugees. I’ve known members of both families for over 20 years. Neither are terrorists. Neither are engaged in conduct that is subversive to the interests of the United States. The children of those refugees are both productive members of American society, in fact one is Iranian, and a United States Marine that was deployed and fought against militants and terrorists.

The other is Vietnamese and Chinese and works in a capitalist industry serving the risk management interests of businesses and citizens alike. 

In fact, aren’t most of us refugees? Weren’t the founding fathers refugees? This country is made up of generations of people who fled their home countries coming to this shining beacon of hope in order to escape religious persecution, the hopelessness of famine, or war and tribulation. You know, that whole American dream thing?

There are security implications, as is obvious based upon what we’re seeing in Europe. It is inarguable that people who entered Europe through the influx of refugees have ‘slipped through the cracks’ in the security mechanisms and engaged, or are planning to engage in jihad against innocents.

The threat of that is unfolding and intelligence gathering and the security apparatus are tightening in on many of those threats. Many are likely still in waiting. As is always the case, there are bad apples in every basket. Are the vast majority of these migrants terrorists? I doubt it. Is there an inherent need for effective screening? Sure.

The overall tone of the rhetoric and vitriol I keep hearing from folks as it relates to ‘refugees’ is, in my estimation, largely unwarranted and based on the fear mongering that our media is inciting among us.

I’m not a terrorist sympathizer – anyone who knows me, knows that. But I am a human being – and neither my conscience nor my God will allow me to turn away the least of these simply because they could be dangerous. Loving and accepting people tends to generate a much different response than despising them because they’re different.

Cover Photo Credit: Tom Thai/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Russia Claims That It Is Aiding The Free Syrian Army With Airstrikes and Supplies

Russia is backing the Free Syrian Army (FSA) with as many as 40 daily airstrikes and helping arm the group, Russian military chief of staff Valery Gerasimov told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti on Monday. Russia began airstrikes on ground targets in Syria during the last week of September and has claimed they are intended… Read More

If House And Senate Don’t Agree, Could There Be A Government Shutdown Over Syrian Refugee Program Changes?

The unfortunate recent terror attacks in Paris have led to more than half-31 to be precise of the nation’s governors to declare that they will refuse entry to Syrian refugees into their states.

Florida’s governor, Rick Scott among others had gone so far as to request House Republicans push a bill through Congress to prevent Syrian refugees from entering his state.

On Nov. 19th, the governors’ wishes was granted. The House passed the SAFE Act, with an overwhelming 289-137 vote, enough to override a veto, which President Obama has already said he would do if the bill were to pass the Senate.

The SAFE act wouldn’t stop Syrian refugees from entering the United States, however, it could place a very long pause on the current Syrian refugee program.

The act would add an extra screening process in the already extensive, 18-24 months, vetting procedure refugees must go through before placement in the country by requiring the directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence personally sign off on each refugee granted entry.

Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are also offering their own alternative to the SAFE Act, which would place limitations on the visa waiver program by refusing eligibility to individuals who have traveled to Syria or Iraq in the past five years, the real question is whether the Senate will be able to block the House’s bill from passing before their alternative can get off the ground.

It’s also possible the House and Senate and the bipartisan coalitions in each will reach a stalemate. If you keep in mind the fact the next government budget deadline is Dec. 11th, then it wouldn’t be completely out of place for House Republicans, (with perhaps some Democratic support) to threaten another government shutdown in order to pass the SAFE Act. In fact, it is entirely possible.

Cover Photo Credit: Freedom House/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Millennial Intelligencer: Russia’s Options After Turkish Plane Downing

In light of the ongoing situation in north-western Syria, it is worth considering what options are available to the Kremlin in terms of their response to Turkey after the Turks downed a Russian SU-24.

First, let’s note what the Russians won’t do; they won’t directly respond in anyway. There probably won’t be direct military action against Turkey, because of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty.

NATO’s Article reads in part:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all…”

While a clever reader may note that most of Turkey is in Asia Minor and not technically in Europe, and thus the Russians could potentially wage a war against Turkey as long as they steer clear of Istanbul, it seems unlikely that the Russians would risk this liberal interpretation of Article V.

Also it is worth noting that the downing of aircraft between NATO and the Soviet Union occurred multiple times in the 50s and 60s and it did not lead to direct war.

All right, so the Kremlin won’t be annexing Anatolia anytime soon, but what can they do?

As of now the Russian government has been shaping the narrative by claiming that this was a “stab in the back” and that Turkey is trying to “put the alliance [NATO] into the service of ISIS”.

Bellicose language like this will not get Mr. Putin far outside of Russia, but it will save some face domestically. While the claims being applied in this instance are utter nonsense when looking at a map like this one from the Institute for the Study of War and comparing it to the location of the shoot down, Mr. Putin could feasibly drum up xenophobia in the citizenry of NATO countries who frequently say to “kick Turkey out”. Especially as Turkey has faced changes in the domestic sphere as a conservative strongman– President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tightened his grip on power.

However, due to there being no mechanism in the North Atlantic Treaty for “kicking out” a member, and the strategic significance of the Bosporus Strait in containing the Russians, more than likely the response by Moscow will consist entirely of outrage and diplomatic wrist slaps.

Cover Photo Credit: Presidencia de la República Mexicana/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

WATCH LIVE: Obama and French President Hollande Talk Syria, ISIS In Press Conference

US President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande will be speaking about ISIS and the crisis in Syria after a morning of talks at the White House.

Hollande has been vocal in his efforts to get the international community more engaged in directly fighting ISIS after terror attacks struck his nation two weeks ago.

It is unclear how much the events of today: the Turkish downing of a Russian fighter jet and the Syrian rebels (who are armed by the US) downing of a Russian helicopter will impact the international response.

WATCH LIVE: Obama, Hollande speak after joint meetings.


Cover Photo Credit: U.S. Army Europe Images/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“That’s For Paris”: Russia Strikes Back At ISIS With Missile Launches

The Russian military is ramping up its military campaign in Syria with a pointed message to ISIS fighters there.

“That’s for Paris” a handwritten inscription on a Syria bound missile reads in a direct reference to the terror attacks that shocked the world last week in the French capital.

The message was sent out on Twitter by the Russian Embassy In the UK’s Twitter account.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that his nation will be ruthless in the fight against ISIS.

“We will search for them everywhere, wherever they are hiding. We will find them in any spot on the planet and we will punish them,” Putin said.

Cover Photo Credit: Russian Embassy, UK/ Twitter (Screengrab)

Fox News Anchor Slaps Down GOP Governors For Their Refusal To Let In Syrian Refugees

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith spoke out on the proposals by dozens of Republican governors to close their states to Syrian refugees after the terrorist attacks in Paris and asked that people be open minded towards those refugees according to Mother Jones

Smith launched into his remarks towards the end of his show on Monday:

“In the face of terror will we panic? or be calm and deliberative in approach? Confronted with those who want to change our way of life, will we abandon our freedoms and the rights granted to us by the Creator, or will we welcome huddled masses yearning to be free?” Smith asked. “This opinion tends to go against the grain of what Fox News usually talks about, and some viewers have expressed their displeasure on social media.

Despite frustration from some conservative viewers on social media, Smith has been known to hold more liberal views than some of his coworkers at the network and this isn’t his first time expressing them, according to The Washington Post.

From the Washington Post:

Even Smith’s reading habits have been parsed by conservatives. When he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013 that he consumes news from the likes of the New York Times, Talking Points Memo and, yes, The Washington Post, the Breitbart Web site blared, “Shep Smith’s reading list revealed: lefty, lefty, leftist!'”

WATCH: Shepard Smith goes after GOP governors.

Cover Photo Credit: (vincent desjardins)/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Your Huddled Masses Yearning to Breathe Free And Taste American Bureaucracy

This piece is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Rise News. 

It should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with post 9/11 American politics that curmudgeons in positions of power, including the governor of my home state of Alabama, would not miss the opportunity to bolster their popularity with a display of security theater at the expense of people in need.

It is not any less shameful, but not surprising. The most recent instance is the insistence of several governors and presidential candidates that accepting asylum seekers is a threat to the citizenry of the United States, in response to the most recent tragedy in the city of Paris. This would be a more understandable position if the attackers were from Syria, but this is not the case.

As of right now, Ahmad al-Mohammed is the only attacker who is suspected of being from Syria, thanks to the convenient discovery of his falsified passport, but French authorities are still unable to confirm the details regarding this man’s identity, according to the BBC. The other attackers, and the mastermind of the attacks, were all French and Belgian citizens.

“In order to disrupt the archaic narrative of our ISIS and al-Qaeda foes, and save a fraction of the 11 million lives made hellish by the sadistic al-Assad regime, the United States should jump at the opportunity to subject 10,000 people to our robust and slow bureaucracy.”

So let’s assume for a minute that Ahmad al-Mohammed was a Syrian terrorist who got into Europe by exploiting the overwhelmed asylum processing system, which is entirely possible, but not confirmed. Why utilize the asylum seeking process when it is much easier to radicalize disenfranchised people in the target country, as we see with most attackers in this instance, or simply utilize a temporary visa, as was the case with the 9/11 hijackers?

Refugees in the United States, after being referred to the United States by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) , asylum seekers are vetted with a Resettlement Support Center. After having biographic information taken, further screening can be done at the discretion of both the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) then conduct a one on one interview with applicants. After approval from USCIS applicants are screened for infectious disease and often matched with a resettlement agency to assist in the process of integrating. Overall this process on average takes between 18-24 months.

Bearing in mind the complexity, risk, and time associated with the asylum seeking process, it seems likely that the response we see in the West was the intention of ISIS. It feeds into the narrative of a “clash of civilizations” and disenfranchises desperate people who have been: gassed, bombed, drafted, beaten, and generally abused.

Some have suggested that refugees be accepted on the basis of their religious opinions, which seems to get closer to the real issue of a fear of Islam or people of color in general. However, this fear seems unfounded due to the lack of acts of terror committed by the over 120,000 refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan, as of 2013.

In order to disrupt the archaic narrative of our ISIS and al-Qaeda foes, and save a fraction of the 11 million lives made hellish by the sadistic al-Assad regime, the United States should jump at the opportunity to subject 10,000 people to our robust and slow bureaucracy.

Agree? Disagree? Tell us in the comments below! You can also submit your own opinion pieces to [email protected] and we may publish it. 

Cover Photo Credit: Freedom House/ Flickr (CC By 2.0) 

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