Israel blames F-16 downing in Syria operation on ‘pilot error’

On February 10, the Israeli Air Force lost one of its supersonic fighters while striking Iranian targets on Syrian territory. Tel Aviv had launched the biggest air raid operation in over three decades after intercepting an Iranian drone in Israeli airspace. Swiftly reacting to the ongoing “retaliatory attack,” the Syrian government activated its air defenses in order to try and intercept incoming missiles – and eventually hit one of the Israeli F-16 fighter jets which had breached Syrian airspace.

On Sunday, the Israelis confirmed that the F-16 was taken down by the Soviet-built S-200 surface-to-air (SAM) missile system, known to NATO as the SA-5.
Following the incident, in which both pilots of the Israeli aircraft survived, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) launched its own investigation into the causes of the crash. After analyzing the chronological order of events during the Israeli strikes and the Syrian response to it, the internal review of the Israeli experts determined that a pilot mistake was responsible for the F-16 takedown.

“On the balance of completing the mission versus defending themselves… the aircrew failed to adequately defend itself. Its actions did not match the needed order of priorities to address the missile threat it faced,” the report said, according to Haaretz. Furthermore, Israeli pilots were well aware that they would be exposed to enemy fire during their mission to destroy the Iranian drone command and control center.

“In the operational theatre, there were a number of planes that did indeed defend themselves against the Syrian launchings while completing their mission. One of the planes that did not defend itself, was hit,” a senior Israel Air Force officer told reporters, commenting on the conclusion of the probe, Reuters reports.

At the same time, the IAF said that the pilots did the right thing by ejecting from the plane, calling it a decision that saved their lives. The conclusion of the probe, made public on Sunday, revealed that the crew possessed the adequate intelligence to complete the mission. It also added that the F-16’s warning systems had behaved properly at the time of the incident.

READ MORE: Netanyahu uses fragment of destroyed drone to taunt Iranian FM

Israel remains undeterred by the takedown of its F-16, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared following the incident, using the events of February 10 to issue new threats against Iran, whose forces are involved in the Syrian conflict at Damascus’ invitation.

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Syria’s East Ghouta militants hold civilians hostage, plan ‘chemical’ provocations – Russian MoD

The leaders of militant units controlling the East Ghouta suburb of Damascus might be “preparing a provocation that will involve the use of chemical weapons,” Maj. Gen. Yury Yevtushenko said in a briefing on Sunday, citing intelligence obtained by the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria. 

Just hours after the warning, reports emerged that several people in East Ghouta suffered symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine gas, conveniently supported by images from the White Helmets group, known for its unique ability to appear at the right place just in time to film civilian suffering, which is later pinned on the Syrian government forces. For their virtuoso work, the controversial UK-backed NGO, also known as the Syria Civil Defense, were even awarded a Hollywood Oscar, despite being plagued by allegations of having ties with terrorists.

The allegations of Damascus’ involvement in yet another chemical attack on civilians coincide with the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution to impose a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, which does not apply to members of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), al-Nusra or any other terrorist organization. Following prolonged and heated debates at the UN, in which Russia insisted that the resolution’s text be altered so that Damascus is not painted as the sole party to blame for the violence, the resolution was unanimously adopted on Saturday.

However, the militants in control of East Ghouta have completely disregarded the humanitarian pause, having unified their command to continue harassing the local population and shelling Damascus. “The situation continues to deteriorate in East Ghouta where Jaysh al-Islam, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Rahman, and Fajr al-Ummah Brigade set up a united coordination center,” Yevtushenko said.

The Russian Reconciliation Center noted that the militant groups impede provision of humanitarian aid to East Ghouta and block civilians from leaving the suburb, basically keeping hundreds hostage, including women and children.

“Despite the statements made by Jaysh Al-Islam about reconciliation, the mortar shelling of Damascus continues from the territory controlled by the formations of this group,” the Russian military spokesman said, noting that, over the past 24 hours, at least 31 shells were fired from East Ghouta into residential districts of Damascus. On top of the widespread damage caused by the attacks, at least 13 civilians and one Syrian soldier were injured.

The terrorists also tried to stage a car bomb attack near the town of Qaboun, a suburb of Damascus, an attempt foiled by Syrian armed forces. According to the Russian military, the explosives-laden vehicle came from the areas controlled by Failak Ar-Rahman and al-Nusra militants.

For over a week the Syrian government forces have been carrying out operation Damascus Steel, to clear East Ghouta of illegal Islamist units that have been terrorizing the locals for years, and who have rejected any initiatives to lay down their arms and leave the area. As tensions continue to run high in East Ghouta, despite the agreed ceasefire, the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria urged the warring parties to “stop any combat actions and armed provocations.”

This is not the first time that reports of a chlorine gas attack have emerged from the enclave on the outskirts of the Syrian capital. Previous incidents allegedly occurred in January, just before various factions of Syrian society gathered for the Syrian National Congress in Sochi, Russia. The US Secretary of State at the time used the reports to blame Russia for all the chemical weaponry-related incidents in Syria, regardless of who actually conducted it. The Russian Foreign Ministry slammed the insinuations as a “massive propaganda attack” aimed at undermining efforts for a peaceful settlement in Syria.

The US has repeatedly warned that it may conduct more direct air strikes against Syrian forces if chemical weapons are used in the country. Last April President Donald Trump ordered Tomahawk missile strikes on Shayrat Airbase, in response to a chemical attack in Idlib, which the US, without a single shred of evidence, immediately pinned on President Bashar Assad. French President Emmanuel Macron also promised to “strike” Syria if any evidence emerges that chemical weapons are being used against civilians.

Russia has repeatedly drawn the international community’s attention to incidents involving the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and has consistently called for independent and impartial investigations into the matter. Last month Moscow again proposed a mechanism to replace the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), whose mandate expired in November. Previously, JIM handled UN investigations into the use of chemical weapons in Syria but, according to Russian officials, has failed to produce objective reports on chemical attacks, including the April incident in Khan Shaykhun. Instead, Moscow has been proposing to establish an objective investigative mechanism to probe all allegations of chemical attacks in Syria “based on impeccable and irrefutable data,” rather than on cherry-picked facts and accounts by partisan sources.

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The Walking Dead season 8 episode 9: What song was used in the opening scene of Carl's final episode?

The Walking Dead returned with what many are deeming the show’s most emotional episode to date as one of its longest-standing characters met their end.

As expected, the episode featured the final stand for Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) who succumbed to a walker bite he suffered in an earlier season 8 episode.

The opening of the episode – titled ‘Honour’ – caught viewers up on Carl’s journey from the moment he got bitten to the tunnels underneath Alexandria as we learned of his fate at the same time as his father Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and surrogate mother, Michonne (Danai Gurira).

After getting bitten while helping Siddiq kill the undead in this season’s sixth episode, a flashback shows Carl head back to Alexandria where he came to terms with his impending death by writing letters to his loved ones, enjoying downtime with baby sister Judith and revelling in the sunshine -all to the soundtrack of Bright Eyes song “At the Bottom of Everything.”

Written by frontman Conor Oberst, it is the opening track from 2005 album I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. You can listen to it on Spotify below.

One section of the song contains the below lyrics which seem to reference his father, Rick.

“While my mother waters plants
My father loads his gun
He says death will give us back to god
Just like the setting sun”

The Walking Dead season 8 returns to AMC in the US on 25 February 2018 with the UK premiere arriving the next evening on FOX. The episode will also be shown on NOWTV.

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Hiker found alive after 6 days missing in Yosemite National Park

Feb. 25 (UPI) — A California man who was missing for six days in Yosemite National Park was found alive on Friday, the National Park Service said.

Alan Chow, 36, was reported missing by his co-workers on Feb. 20 after he hadn’t been seen or heard from since Feb. 17. Chow planned to go on a weekend hike in the national park but became disoriented on the snow-covered path and lost his way, the Mercury News reported.

A rescue helicopter searched the park and spotted Chow on Friday above Wapama Falls in the Hetch Hetchy area, KTVU-TV reported.

Chow was found in good health after surviving by melting snow for water, staying in his tent to keep warm, packing enough food beforehand to last several days in the forest and staying put until he was found.

“The lesson here is for everybody, is that if you’re out in the back country and you fall, you hurt yourself, you get lost, just stay put and don’t try to walk around and get even more lost,” Yosemite Park Ranger Scott Gediman said.

Chow has since reunited with his family.

The rescue operation involved 60 people, including climbers, skiers, volunteer rescue groups and local law enforcement agencies.

“We’re just thrilled and thankful we were able to find him,” Gediman told KTVU-TV. “The fact that Mr. Chow is safe and reunited with his family is just the best news and we couldn’t be happier about it.”

منبع مطلب : https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2018/02/25/Hiker-found-alive-after-6-days-missing-in-Yosemite-National-Park/4581519611567/

‘Tony Blair is a complete liar,’ says Trump critic & ‘Fire and Fury’ author

In his hugely successful book, which details the first year of Donald Trump’s White House, Wolff wrote that Blair was “sucking up” to Jared Kushner and angling for a job as a Middle East peace envoy. He also said that Blair told Trump’s associates that British intelligence may have spied on them during the election campaign.

Blair vociferously denied the claims when the book was published; however, Wolff reasserted them during an appearance on BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday.

“I sat in the White House on the couch listening, I wasn’t supposed to overhear this, but they were standing right there,” he said.

“Jared Kushner [was] standing not 15 feet in front of me with Tony Blair, let’s choose my words carefully, sucking up to Jared Kushner.”

READ MORE: Fire and Fury: Which of these claims are excerpts from Trump ‘tell-all’ book? (QUIZ)

When Marr interjected to say that Blair denies the claims, Wolff responded: “I have to say Tony Blair is a complete liar… In this instance, absolutely.”

The former Labour leader, who was British Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, responded to the interview by issuing a statement through his institute. “This story is a complete fabrication,” it reads.

Trump has also been extremely critical of Wolff’s book, which depicts his White House as outrageously incompetent. In the aftermath of the book’s release he tweeted that he considered Wolff a “total loser” and called his former advisor Steve Bannon, one of the book’s main sources, “Sloppy Steve”. Bannon later apologised for what he had told the author.

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The Walking Dead season 8 episode 9: Watch the scene in which Carl got bitten by a walker

As expected, The Walking Dead midseason finale doled out some trauma in the form of what could well be its biggest character death yet.

*Major spoilers follow for The Walking Dead season 8 episode 8 – read our review here*

While the death is yet to take place, it’s been confirmed that the very next episode will see Carl Grimes – one of the series’ remaining original characters – exit the show. Having assumed a leadership position in the absence of his father as Negan came knocking on the gates of Alexandria, Carl hatched a plan leading his friends and family to safety.

Only the whole time, Carl knew his time was up – the cowboy hat-wearing teenager suffered a walker bite episodes earlier.

For those who aren’t exactly sure when this moment occurred, it was episode six – ‘The King, the Widow and Rick’ – when Carl happened across Siddiq (Avi Nash) in the woods.  

From our review:

“[Carl] showcases his leadership skills asking Siddiq the questions his father asks strangers the group encounters and is even further proof that we could see Grimes Jr. overtake his father as leader one day in the future.”

What we failed to mention was during this interaction, the duo get ambushed by several walkers in a particularly close scrape – one that momentarily filled the viewers with dread before becoming just another brush with the undead in which they seemingly escaped unscathed, They didn’t; this was when Carl got bitten – re-watch the moment below.

No one is as shocked about the latest twist as Riggs, who has appeared on the series since the age of 11, telling THR he never expected to be killed off.

The Walking Dead season eight returns in the US on AMC February 2018 with the UK premiere arriving on FOX. It will also return on NOWTV

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The Walking Dead season 8 episode 9: What song was used in the opening of Carl's final episode?

The Walking Dead returned with what many are deeming the show’s most emotional episode to date as one of its longest-standing characters met their end.

As expected, the episode featured the final stand for Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) who succumbed to a walker bite he suffered in an earlier season 8 episode.

The opening of the episode – titled ‘Honour’ – caught viewers up on Carl’s journey from the moment he got bitten to the tunnels underneath Alexandria as we learned of his fate at the same time as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira).

After getting bitten while helping Siddiq kill the undead in this season’s sixth episode, a flashback shows Carl head back to Alexandria where he came to terms with his impending death by writing letters to his loved ones, enjoying downtime with baby sister Judith and revelling in the sunshine -all to the soundtrack of Bright Eyes song “At the Bottom of Everything.”

Written by frontman Conor Oberst, it is the opening track from 2005 album I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning. You can listen to it on Spotify below.

One section of the song contains the below lyrics which seem to reference Rick.

“While my mother waters plants
My father loads his gun
He says death will give us back to god
Just like the setting sun”

The Walking Dead season 8 returns to AMC in the US on 25 February 2018 with the UK premiere arriving the next evening on FOX. The episode will also be shown on NOWTV.

Follow Independent Culture on Facebook

منبع مطلب : http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/news/the-walking-dead-season-8-episode-9-what-song-carl-dies-bright-eyes-conor-oberst-a8228341.html