Vallely Syria trip Update – Intel gathered on Syria now on display

UPDATE – 7:53 EDT

FSA within a mere 6 KM of Presidential Palace.

UPDATE – 7:40 EDT

Bashar al-Assad wounded in attack, is now in a Latakia, Syria hospital.

According to the FSA, the Damascus bomb was not a suicide bomber. It was a set bomb that was remotely detonated.

Assad was evacuated to the Alewite stronghold on the coast.

By Scott W. Winchell

MG Vallely and his group met with Syrian opposition forces in June on the Turkish/Syrian border near Idlib, Syria and much has happened since. The news has been buzzing from his breaking news on chemical weapons and more. The information is still flowing, and these communications were never more important than now.

We are witnessing the final push for the termination of Syria’s Bashar Assad regime. Events have escalated and the chaos of destruction and bloody deaths are headlining this interior war. Assad’s inner circle was devastated yesterday in the explosion in Damascus:

Vallely meets with Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey on the Syrian border in June

…the Syrian Defense Ministry was bombed in Damascus. Defense Minister Dawood Rajha, and his Deputy, Assad Shawket – Assad’s brother in law – and General Mohamed Al Chaar were both confirmed dead in the blast. Former Defense minister, Hassan Turkmani died later from injuries.

What does this mean? It means the full aggressive assaults occurring now and the bloodshed will escalate as the dog is cornered. It is also likely to escalate into regional chaos as desperate measures are unleashed, locally, and abroad.

Free Syrian and SLA forces are pressing across the nation. Again, the warning cannot be loud enough, what happens there, will impact the west – today is another example of the dangers lurking on a scale reaching all corners of the globe.

We are seeing mass Syrian military and political defections, pin point attacks on regime leaders, the reported exodus of Assad’s family to Latakia, Turkey, the quick organization of new units of freedom fighters, and bellicose ranting coming from Moscow over any UN intervention. The Russians are worried, their naval base at Tartus is a key aspect of their future plans.

According to PolicyMic writer Ahmed Median who is currently stationed across the border from Syria in Lebanon, the rebel Free Syrian Army is now moving freely the Syrian capital, Damascus. Dozens of military chiefs have reportedly defected and fled to Cyprus. Five more with the command of 120 tanks defected today after the attacks and it is expected that regime is going to lose control over many cities where protests have raged for the last year.

Today, on the anniversary of the 1994 Buenos Aires bombing incident, we also saw Hezbollah, a staunch supporter of Assad bomb several buses of Jewish youth in Bulgaria. These are not isolated events – they are all tied together. The bloodshed has again spilled into Tripoli, Lebanon as well. The tension in Lebanon is at a point not seen since the civil wars according to Michele Aoun, where the Palestinians and Hezbollah have engaged.

Since Stand Up America broke the story on chemical weapons the Assad Regime possesses based on intelligence gathered on MG Vallely’s trip to the Turkish border with Syria, the situation has unfolded exactly as he was briefed. The SUA team led by MG Vallely met with Syrian Opposition Leaders and provided intel spec-ops plans that now seem to be working at a faster pace than anticipated.

Since the trip, the press confirmed that chemical weapons were being moved, and a high-ranking defector said he was “convinced” Assad would use chemical weapons on the Syrian people.  However, what they failed to expound on was that they have already been used.

Sources also tell us that Assad is now keeping his CW arsenal mobile for fear of attacks from not only the rebels, but possibly from Israel or other outside forces, where the WMD’s are known to be in several locations as SUA has previously reported. There is also the fear of the weapons landing in the hands of Hezbollah as the regime falls to its knees. Mobility is key, and chaos ensures us that some of these munitions will find interesting new homes (read Lebanon, al Qaeda). The FSA is also reporting that Assad’s forces are being fitted with gas masks.

FSA and SLA leaders told MG Vallely in June that the weapons had already been used in several locations, including Homs, but independent verification has been impossible to obtain. General Vallely had explained also of the freedom fighters gaining great confidence, showing a new sense of urgency, and the adoption of high order intelligence gathering and organization.

The fighters had indeed learned how to employ emerging actionable intelligence. They are now able to perform quick hitting operations because they were no longing just defending street corners and enclaves. Instead, they had prepared units to be deployed at a moment’s notice.

Information is still flowing to MG Vallely from the leaders of the Syrian freedom fighters, and updates will be made when we are cleared to post them. Much is happening, and the fluidity of events is likely to become an even thicker fog of war, a fog bank that is spreading to many places.

Now that the end is near, the Washington Institute reports:

Today’s apparent assassination of top military officials in Syria marks a new and possibly decisive phase in the civil war between Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the broad, loosely coordinated, but clearly potent opposition. For the United States, this turn of events should shift the policy discussion from a UN debate over renewal of the ineffectual Annan peacekeeping mission to ways of exploiting the disarray, namely by pressing Assad to leave power while avoiding outcomes such as chaos, ethnic bloodbath, or jihadist takeover.

MG Vallely reiterates what he was told by opposition forces, “The freedom fighters want a true peace, a secular nationalistic government, and peace with her neighbors. They do not want to follow what happened in Egypt.”

Syrian crisis spills into Lebanon – 3 dead

Editor’s Note – Unless the powers that support Syria’s Assad Regime cut him off – the world will see the crisis widen. Once again, Lebanon is in the shadow of all that is Syria, and all that is Assad.

When will saner minds prevail? When will Lebanon ever be free from the influence of the Assad regime and be returned to the true Lebanese people? That precludes Hezbollah in any form of legitimacy.

It should also be noted that the army in Lebanon is populated by a large contingent of Hezbollah. Major units are solely Hezbollah, and Hezbollah supports Assad.

Lebanese army on alert after deadly Syrian shelling

From Trend in Azerbaijan

Lebanon put its army on alert Saturday after three people were killed in a cross-border shelling from the Syrian territory, raising concerns that the 16-month conflict in Syria might spill over into neighbouring countries, DPA reported.

“Army units in the (border) area of Wadi Khaled are on high alert and the required field measures are in place to tackle any violation along the Syrian-Lebanese border,” the army said in a statement.

The steps were taken after three women were killed and seven others wounded as some 20 shells fell on the town of Al-Heesah in Wadi Khaled, 185 kilometers north of the capital Beirut.

It was the deadliest incident on the Lebanon-Syria border since the popular uprising started in Syria in March 2011.

Syrian troops have carried out several cross-border incursions into northern Lebanon, where some 22,000 Syrians have sought refuge from the violence in their homeland.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman voiced regret about the latest incident and said “the safety of the Lebanese citizens is our top priority,” according to the Lebanese National news Agency.

“This is a flagrant violation of the Lebanese sovereignty. I call on the president to take immediate action to protect the innocent Lebanese living in the area,” lawmaker Ahmad Fafat, who is from northern Lebanon, told dpa by phone.

The shelling, allegedly by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, prompted residents to flee to safer areas, reported local witnesses.

“Our house was hit by at least two shells. I managed to save my children from being killed,” Abu Ahmed al-Owaichi, whose sister was among the three victims, told dpa.

“Shortly before the shelling started at dawn, we heard sounds of heavy machine guns rattling in the neighbouring Syrian area of al-Kussair,” he added.

According to Syrian state television, security forces had foiled an attempt by “terrorist groups” coming from Lebanon to infiltrate al-Kussair in the central province of Homs.

The broadcaster added that government forces had killed “dozens of terrorists.”

Elsewhere in Syria, at least 33 people were killed by al-Assad’s forces, mainly in the restive northern province Idlib and in the town of Deir al-Zour, in the east.

Activists in Idlib said at least 20 soldiers had defected and joined the opposition rebels in the nearby area of Maaret al- Noumaan, where heavy clashes raged between government forces and rebels on Friday.

Defections from the Syrian army have recently been on the rise, according to the opposition.

The most prominent instance was the desertion of Brigadier General Manaf Tlass, a friend of al-Assad. He fled this week to Turkey before heading to France.

The surge in violence comes as the Syrian opposition has been calling on the United Nations to beef up its monitoring mission in the country.

“The number of observers should be increased, not decreased. They should be armed to protect themselves and become a deterrent force at this critical time of the Syrian crisis,” Burhan Ghalioun, the former head of the opposition Syrian National Council, told dpa from Paris.

Ghalioun was commenting on a report by UN chief Ban Ki-moon to the UN Security Council, in which he called for scaling back the unarmed observer mission in Syria.

Ban also recommended that the mission, with a “reduced military observer component,” be redeployed to the capital Damascus.

He added that the smaller mission should instead focus on promoting political dialogue rather than monitoring a shaky ceasefire.

The Security Council must make a decision on the mandate and future of the 300-strong team by July 20.

A UN source in Beirut told dpa that several countries with observers in Syria were threatening to withdraw due to the spike in violence in the Middle Eastern nation.

Last month, the mission’s chief suspended its activities, citing what he called “unprecedented” levels of violence.

Turkey is mobilizing – vows help to end dictatorship in Syria

Editor’s Note – Turkey, a NATO nation, and one time friend to Syria, is ratcheting up the rhetoric. The sabers are not rattling verbally, but their actions and mobilization speaks volumes. What the response by Turkey will be to recent Syrian aggression in the air will be is unknown, but suffice it to say – stay tuned, the summer is getting hotter.

What happens next effects many and involves Iran, Israel, Russia, Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Turkey to name a few. It could embroil much more – even outside the region, especially economically as nations teeter on the edge of collapse. A major conflagration there would spell ill the world over.

Furious Turkey mobilizes tanks, troops to Syrian border

Erdogan slams ‘murderous’ Assad, warns Damascus that rules of engagement have changed following downing of its jet

By  and  and 

The Turkish military mobilized large numbers of reinforcements from its eastern provinces to the Syrian border on Tuesday, amid rising tension with Damascus, after the downing by Syria of a Turkish Air Force jet on Friday, Turkish media reported.

Large numbers of Turkish troops — including at least 15 long-range artillery pieces and tanks – moved to the Syrian frontier from the eastern city of Diyarbakir. A video published by the Turkish Cihan News Agency showed Turkish tanks being transported by carrier trucks toward the frontier.

The mobilization followed statements by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the Turkish military will respond to any future violation of its border by Syrian military elements.

“As awe-inspiring as Turkey’s friendship is, Turkey’s wrath is equally awe-inspiring,” Erdogan told the Turkish parliament on Tuesday.

“The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed,” Erdogan said. “Any military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria posing a security risk and danger will be regarded as a threat and treated as a military target.”

Erdogan closed his remarks with an especially harsh condemnation of Syrian President Bashar Assad: “Turkey and the Turkish people will continue to provide all support until the people of Syria have been saved from this tyrannical, murderous, bloody dictator and his gang.”

Opposition sources in Syria reported at least 86 civilians were killed by Assad troops on Tuesday.

The father of one of the two missing pilots who were shot down in Friday’s incident told Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News that he opposed Turkey going to war over his son.

“It is not appropriate for a country to go to war over a pilot, an airplane or 50 airplanes,” Ali Erton said. He said he was aware of the risks his son took as a military pilot, but added “what matters is that my son serves his country.”

NATO’s North Atlantic Council condemned Tuesday Syria’s downing of the Turkish jet on Friday, but did not recommend military action for the act, as Ankara has requested.

At an emergency meeting, requested by Turkey and chaired by NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the council clearly denounced Syria’s aggression “in the strongest terms,” calling the shooting down of a Turkish jet over the Mediterranean “unacceptable.”

“It is another example of the Syrian disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life,” said the NATO chief, expressing his solidarity with Turkey, but making no mention of retaliatory action.

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, on Tuesday.

Read the rest here.

Turkey to help ‘liberate the Syrians from dictatorship’

By Ian Johnston, msnbc.com

Turkey’s prime minister said Tuesday that his country would offer all possible support “to liberate the Syrians from dictatorship,” as NATO condemned Syria for shooting down a Turkey military jet.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey – a member of NATO – had changed the rule of engagement for its military and would now respond to any violation of the Syrian border.

Turkey would not engage in war-mongering, but the attack on the reconnaissance jet, which was deliberately targeted, would not be left unanswered, Erdogan said in a speech to his ruling AK Party deputies in parliament.

“However valuable Turkey’s friendship is, its wrath is just as strong. Don’t take our common sense and cautious approach as a sign of passivity,” Erdogan said, according to Turkish newspaper Zaman.

“The Syrian administration is tyrannical and not just. Turkey will be in solidarity with our brothers in Syria until a new regime is in place,” he added. “Turkey will be in solidarity with our brothers in Syria until a new regime arrives.”

“We will offer all the possible support to liberate the Syrians from dictatorship,” Erdogan said.

Read more here.

True Lebanese Nationals’ Statement on Syria

Editorial Note – Stand Up America enjoys the friendship and association with many great groups across the globe. One of the premier freedom loving groups is the Guardians of The Cedars led by Abu Arz AKA, Etienne Sacre.

True Lebanese peoples, those with roots that go back thousands of years, unlike the interlopers foisted upon them, seek to regain their national pride and return to the supreme beauty of its land, the peaceful gathering and living standards of its people, the abundance of its fine foods, the prestige of its capital, and the ouster of those who have wrecked hell upon all of these aspects that once earned their fair city the moniker “Paris of the Mediterranean”.

Please read their latest letter to all True Lebanese peoples, across the globe.

The Guardians of the Cedars Party – The Movement for Lebanese Nationalism issued the following message:

The Syrian people are to be commended for their astonishing resilience. They lose dozens of casualties every day – dead, wounded, and detained – but they do not retreat, they do not tire, and they do not falter, rushing to the squares and the streets day and night, defying the death machine with their live flesh, and the bullets with their chants. Their will is one: topple the regime, as they face one choice: either death or liberty. The regime has left no avenue unturned in its attempts to break the back of this revolution; yet, it is not broken and it has not quieted. Indeed, if anything, it has escalated in intensity and fire.

The world has not done justice yet to this stunning popular revolution, and it has not supported it as it deserves. The international community has merely stated positions that barely go beyond denunciation and condemnation, and has imposed a few economic sanctions that may hurt the people more than the regime, particularly since the latter has been quite adept at tricking and deceiving the international community since the era of Assad the father.

In contrast, and while the peoples of the region are rising against their rulers and marking historical feats of heroism to rid themselves of chronic dictatorships, we find the Lebanese people silent over their own plight and accepting of their dire reality, watching the uprisings but not rising up themselves, leaving the temple merchants bartering them like a commodity to be bought and sold in the political cattle market, as if stricken with the disease of resignation and apathy.

If the Syrian people have been reeling under one dictator who dominated them since the early 1970s, our people in Lebanon have been enduring several dictatorships that are by far more pernicious and dangerous and which have dominated their lives for many decades. Foremost among these dictatorships are the abject leaders that continue to grow and prosper at the expense of good leaders, leading people like herds of sheep that never question or complain. Second, the dictatorship of the religious sects and factions that have torn our people into warring tribes that prospered at the expense of unity and the supposedly secular state. Third, the dictatorship of political hereditary feudalism that transfers leadership from grandfathers and fathers to sons, grandsons and sons-in-law to the detriment of competence and merit. Fourth, the dictatorship of moral and social decay, and administrative and political corruption that are rampant throughout Lebanese life and that continue to drive people to disgust and despair. And fifth, the dictatorship of subservience and national treason whereby the allegiance of Lebanese leaders to outside powers is now the norm and the rule. Indeed, each of these dictatorships requires more than an uprising to eradicate it from the root, beginning with the dictatorship of apathy, despair, and resignation, against which our people must first rise before targeting the other dictatorships.

In the context of the subservience of the political leaders to outside powers, it is imperative to denounce those who are fighting the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for no other reason but to gain the favors of their masters. In their desire to please their masters, they become more royalist than the king himself.

These fake leaders who are beholden to the outside are responsible for bringing Lebanon to this abyss of political disgrace and moral turpitude. To evict them, the Lebanese must first awaken from their slumber. But when will they do so?

Lebanon, at your service,

Etienne Sacre – Abu Arz

AP Report: American spies outed in Lebanon!

AP/Truth Frequency News

By ADAM GOLDMAN and MATT APUZZO

WASHINGTON (AP) – The CIA’s operations in Lebanon have been badly damaged after Hezbollah identified and captured a number of U.S. spies recently, current and former U.S. officials told The Associated Press. The intelligence debacle is particularly troubling because the CIA saw it coming.

Hezbollah’s longtime leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, boasted on television in June that he had rooted out at least two CIA spies who had infiltrated the ranks of Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group closely allied with Iran. Though the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon officially denied the accusation, current and former officials concede that it happened and the damage has spread even further.

Hezbollah Leader - Hassan Nasrallah

In recent months, CIA officials have secretly been scrambling to protect their remaining spies – foreign assets or agents working for the agency – before Hezbollah can find them.

To be sure, some deaths are to be expected in shadowy spy wars. It’s an extremely risky business and people get killed. But the damage to the agency’s spy network in Lebanon has been greater than usual, several former and current U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about security matters.

The Lebanon crisis is the latest mishap involving CIA counterintelligence, the undermining or manipulating of the enemy’s ability to gather information. Former CIA officials have said that once-essential skill has been eroded as the agency shifted from outmaneuvering rival spy agencies to fighting terrorists. In the rush for immediate results, former officers say, tradecraft has suffered.

The most recent high-profile example was the suicide bomber who posed as an informant and killed seven CIA employees and wounded six others in Khost, Afghanistan in December 2009.

Last year, then-CIA director Leon Panetta said the agency had to maintain “a greater awareness of counterintelligence.” But eight months later, Nasrallah let the world know he had bested the CIA, demonstrating that the agency still struggles with this critical aspect of spying and sending a message to those who would betray Hezbollah.

The CIA was well aware the spies were vulnerable in Lebanon. CIA officials were warned, including the chief of the unit that supervises Hezbollah operations from CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., and the head of counterintelligence. It remains unclear whether anyone has been or will be held accountable in the wake of this counterintelligence disaster or whether the incident will affect the CIA’s ability to recruit assets in Lebanon.

In response to AP’s questions about what happened in Lebanon, a U.S. official said Hezbollah is recognized as a complicated enemy responsible for killing more Americans than any other terrorist group before September 2001. The agency does not underestimate the organization, the official said.

The CIA’s toughest adversaries, like Hezbollah and Iran, have for years been improving their ability to hunt spies, relying on patience and guile to exploit counterintelligence holes.

In 2007, for instance, when Ali-Reza Asgari, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran, disappeared in Turkey, it was assumed that he was either killed or defected. In response, the Iranian government began a painstaking review of foreign travel by its citizens, particularly to places like Turkey where Iranians don’t need a visa and could meet with foreign intelligence services.

It didn’t take long, a Western intelligence official told the AP, before the U.S., Britain and Israel began losing contact with some of their Iranian spies.

The State Department last year described Hezbollah as “the most technically capable terrorist group in the world,” and the Defense Department estimates it receives between $100 million and $200 million per year in funding from Iran.

Backed by Iran, Hezbollah has built a professional counterintelligence apparatus that Nasrallah – whom the U.S. government designated an international terrorist a decade ago – proudly describes as the “spy combat unit.” U.S. intelligence officials believe the unit, which is considered formidable and ruthless, went operational in about 2004.

Using the latest commercial software, Nasrallah’s spy-hunters unit began methodically searching for spies in Hezbollah’s midst. To find them, U.S. officials said, Hezbollah examined cellphone data looking for anomalies. The analysis identified cellphones that, for instance, were used rarely or always from specific locations and only for a short period of time. Then it came down to old-fashioned, shoe-leather detective work: Who in that area had information that might be worth selling to the enemy?

The effort took years but eventually Hezbollah, and later the Lebanese government, began making arrests. By one estimate, 100 Israeli assets were apprehended as the news made headlines across the region in 2009. Some of those suspected Israeli spies worked for telecommunications companies and served in the military.

Back at CIA headquarters, the arrests alarmed senior officials. The agency prepared a study on its own vulnerabilities, U.S. officials said, and the results proved to be prescient.

The analysis concluded that the CIA was susceptible to the same analysis that had compromised the Israelis, the officials said.

CIA managers were instructed to be extra careful about handling sources in Lebanon. A U.S. official said recommendations were issued to counter the potential problem.

But it’s unclear what preventive measures were taken by the Hezbollah unit chief or the officer in charge of the Beirut station. Former officials say the Hezbollah unit chief is no stranger to the necessity of counterintelligence and knew the risks. The unit chief has worked overseas in hostile environments like Afghanistan and played an important role in the capture of a top terrorist while stationed in the Persian Gulf region after the attacks of 9/11.

“We’ve lost a lot of people in Beirut over the years, so everyone should know the drill,” said a former Middle East case officer familiar with the situation.

But whatever actions the CIA took, they were not enough. Like the Israelis, bad tradecraft doomed these CIA assets and the agency ultimately failed to protect them, an official said. In some instances, CIA officers fell into predictable patterns when meeting their sources, the official said.

This allowed Hezbollah to identify assets and case officers and unravel at least part of the CIA’s spy network in Lebanon. There was also a reluctance to share cases and some files were put in “restricted handling.” The designation severely limits the number of people who know the identity of the source but also reduces the number of experts who could spot problems that might lead to their discovery, officials said.

Nasrallah’s televised announcement in June was followed by finger-pointing among departments inside the CIA as the spy agency tried figure out what went wrong and contain the damage.

The fate of these CIA assets is unknown. Hezbollah treats spies differently, said Matthew Levitt, a counterterrorism and intelligence expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies who’s writing a book about the terrorist organization

“It all depends on who these guys were and what they have to say,” Levitt said. “Hezbollah has disappeared people before. Others they have kept around.”

Who’s responsible for the mess in Lebanon? It’s not clear. The chief of Hezbollah operations at CIA headquarters continues to run the unit that also focuses on Iranians and Palestinians. The CIA’s top counterintelligence officer, who was one of the most senior women in the clandestine service, recently retired after approximately five years in the job. She is credited with some important cases, including the recent arrests of Russian spies who had been living in the U.S. for years.

Officials said the woman was succeeded by a more experienced operations officer. That officer has held important posts in Moscow, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Balkans, important frontlines of the agency’s spy wars with foreign intelligence services and terrorist organizations.