Wednesday, February 19, 2020

The List 5217

The List 5217 TGB

To All,

I hope that you all have a great weekend. Happy Valentine’s. There is a lot of information today so later I will send out another List to cover it. The first item of today’s list is an effort to Help Veterans of WWII and Korea see the memorials built to honor their service. Please pass this on.

Happy belated Valentine’s Day



Thanks to Saundra

To All please help this very worthy cause.


Honor Flight really needs your help to get the word out about the fundraiser on March 7th. Last time we did not raise enough money to charter an airplane. Honor Flight National donated some tickets from Southwest Airlines for a commercial flight, but we could only take 60 veterans. It is a big task to raise $500,000 each year for 2 flights. We really need help to get people aware of our mission of taking veterans free of charge to see their memorials built in their honor to thank them for their service and sacrifice in defending our country.

Could you please put our information in your news letters... would it be possible to have it front and center so it might gather some interest. We are working hard to get the word out in every possible way we can and would appreciate having our military friends get involved.

Thank you so very much for any help you can possibly give us.

I have included our flyer invitation that can be cut and pasted into your news letter as well as attaching our invitation. Please let me know, if I can make a flyer that might fit your format. I will do whatever I can to make it happen.

Saundra Cima


Help us Keep Honor Flight Flying Veterans to see their Memorials

Honor Flight is..

100% Free to the Veteran

100%of all funds raised goes directly to sending Veterans to see their Memorials

100% volunteer organization-No paid positions

Join us...

Honor Flight San Diego

10 Year Anniversary Fundraiser.

Saturday, March 7

Event information and to purchase tickets - CLICK HERE!

Honor Flight San Diego's Mission is to....

take WWII and Korean War Veterans to visit the memorials

dedicated to their service and sacrifice... at no cost to them.

The Honor Flight San Diego story in the News….

ABC News 10 -

CBS News 8 -

Keep Honor Flight San Diego Flying!

For more information about the event, to reserve a table, or suggest a veteran for the Tour of Honor, contact the event planners:

Saundra Cima at: or (760) 415-0338


Carol Sciotto at: or (760) 612-7315

Event information and to purchase tickets - CLICK HERE or go to

Click here to visit our website!

Today in Naval History

February 14

§ 1778—Continental ship, Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones, receives the first official salute to a U.S. Stars and Stripes flag by a foreign government (the French fleet) at Quiberon, France.

§ 1813—The frigate Essex, commanded by Capt. David Porter, becomes the first U.S. Navy warship to round Cape Horn and enter the Pacific Ocean.

§ 1814—The frigate Constitution, commanded by Capt. Charles Stewart, captures the British Lovely Ann off Guiana, the first of four during a five-day period.

§ 1945—USS Gato (SS 212) sinks Japanese Coast Defense Vessel No.9 in the Yellow Sea and USS Hawkbill (SS 366) sinks Japanese auxiliary submarine chasers Cha 4 and Cha 114 in the Java Sea.

§ 1945—Water Tender Second Class Elmer C. Bigelow heroically fights a blaze after USS Fletcher (DD 445) is hit by enemy shelling. Bigelow dies the next day from his injuries. He is posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity.” USS Bigelow (DD 942) is named in his honor in 1957.

Feb. 15
1856—The stores-ship, Supply, commanded by Lt. David Dixon Porter, sails from Smyrna, Syria, bound for Indianola, TX, with a load of 21 camels intended for experimental use in the American desert west of the Rockies.
1898—The battleship Maine explodes in Havana Harbor and nearly three-quarters of the battleship's crew die as a result of the blast. Popular opinion blames Spain, and the Spanish-American war starts soon after.
1943—USS Gato (SS 212) sinks Japanese stores ship Suruga Maru in Bougainville Strait and USS Pickerel (SS 177) attacks a Japanese convoy and sinks cargo vessel Tateyama Maru off the east coast of Honshu.
1944—While serving as commander of a Catalina patrol plane, Lt. Nathan Gordon responds to a report of U.S. Army Fifth Air Force personnel shot down over Kavieng Harbor in the Bismarck Sea. Risking his life and under Japanese fire, he makes a daring rescue mission, saving 15 service members from certain death or capture by the enemy. For his "extraordinary heroism,” Gordon is awarded the Medal of Honor.
1960—Icebreakers USS Burton Island (AGB 1) and USS Glacier (AGB 4) become the first U.S. Navy vessels to reach Thurston Peninsula in the Antarctic.

Feb. 16
1804—Lt. Stephen Decatur, with volunteers from frigate Constitution and schooner Enterprise, enters Tripoli harbor by night in the ketch Intrepid to burn the captured frigate Philadelphia.
1815—The frigate Constitution captures British ship Susannah, despite the War of 1812 being over six weeks earlier.
1944—USS Skate (SS 305) sinks the Japanese light cruiser Agano as she deploys from Truk, Caroline Islands.
1945—PB4Y-1 Liberators from (VPB 117) sink Japanese army cargo ship Ida Maru at Cape St. Jacques, French Indochina.
1952—USS Gregory (DD 802), USS Twining (DD 540), and USS Rowan (DD 782) greet the first anniversary of the siege of Wonsan, Korea, with destructive interdiction fire.

Thanks to CHINFO

Executive Summary:

• USS Normandy seized a cache of Iranian weapons in the Arabian Sea, multiple outlets report.

• Local San Diego outlets covered the launch of an unarmed Trident II missile from USS Maine.

• USNI reports Navy and Marine Corps programs pay a disproportionate share of DoD reprogramming action to fund border wall.

• Coverage of the FY 2021 budget request continued.

· February 14

Happy Valentine's Day!Today is St. Valentine's Day, the feast day of two Christian martyrs named Valentine: one a priest and physician, the other the Bishop of Terni. Both are purported to have been beheaded on this day. The custom of sending handmade 'valentines' to one's beloved became popular during the 17th century and was first commercialized in the United States in the 1840s.


2,000 Jews are burned at the stake in Strasbourg, Germany.


The deposed Richard II is murdered in Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire.


Maximilian II, brother of the Emperor Charles V, is recognized as the future king of Bohemia.


American Loyalists are defeated by Patriots at Kettle Creek, Ga.


The Spanish fleet is destroyed by the British under Admiral Jervis (with Nelson in support) at the battle of Cape St. Vincent, off Portugal.


James Polk becomes the first U.S. President to be photographed in office by Matthew Brady.


Oregon is admitted as the thirty-third state.


Esther Morris becomes the world's first female justice of the peace.


Rival inventors Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell both apply for patents for the telephone.


General Roberts invades South Africa's Orange Free State with 20,000 British troops.


The "Missouri Kid" is captured in Kansas.


Arizona becomes the 48th state in the Union.


Kaiser Wilhelm II invites the U.S. Ambassador to Berlin in order to confer on the war.


Warsaw demonstrators protest the transfer of Polish territory to the Ukraine.


The League of Women Voters is formed in Chicago in celebration of the imminent ratification of the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.


Thomas Watson founds International Business Machines Corp.


Chicago gang war between Al Capone and George "Bugs" Moran culminates with several Moran confederates being gunned down in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.


Germany launches the battleship Bismarck.


Britain announces that all merchant ships will be armed.


Japanese paratroopers attack Sumatra. Aidan MacCarthy's RAF unit flew to Palembang, in eastern Sumatra, where 30 Royal Australian Air Force Lockheed A-28 Hudson bombers were waiting.


800 Allied aircraft firebomb the German city of Dresden. Smaller followup bombing raids last until April with a total death toll of between 35,000 to 130,000 civilians.


The siege of Budapest ends as the Soviets take the city. Only 785 German and Hungarian soldiers managed to escape.


The United States charges the Soviet Union with interning up to 14 million in labor camps.


A Jewish couple loses their fight to adopt Catholic twins as the U.S. Supreme Court refuses to rule on state law.


The Georgia state senate outlaws interracial athletics.


Malcolm X's home is firebombed. No injuries are reported.


Moscow publicizes a new five-year plan geared to expanding consumer production.


The United States and Hanoi set up a group to channel reconstruction aid directly to Hanoi.


Armed guerrillas attack the U.S. embassy in Tehran.


Vietnamese troops surround the main Khmer Rouge base at Phnom Malai.


Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini charges that Salman Rushdie's novel, The Satanic Verses, is blasphemous and issues an edict (fatwa) calling on Muslims to kill Rushdie.


On this day in history (February 14,):

1876: Inventors Alexander Graham Bell and Elisha Gray applied separately

for patents related to the telephone. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually

ruled Bell the rightful inventor.

1929: The "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" took place in Chicago. Seven

gangsters who were rivals of Al Capone were killed.

1946: ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was unveiled.

The device, built at the University of Pennsylvania, was the world's first

general purpose electronic computer.

And today is:

National Cream Filled Chocolates Day

278 St. Valentine beheaded

. 1973 Release of U.S. POWs begins »

A History of Valentine's Day ( one of many)

The lover's holiday has its beginnings in the 4th century B.C. in Rome. The Romans held an annual lottery wherein young men would draw a young woman's name from a box. The couple would be assigned to each other the entire year for entertainment and pleasure. (Now, I can see where this could be real dangerous!) This celebration, traditionally held on February 15, also included banquets, dancing and foot races run in the nude.

Around A.D. 496, early church fathers sought an end to the pagan practice, but knew better than to upset the citizens by removing the lottery completely. Instead, they had teenagers pull the names of saints from the box. The teen was supposed to spend the year emulating that saint's life as much as possible, which was probably not as much fun as naked marathons. (Right! It's no wonder they fed Christians to the lions!) St. Valentine was chosen as the patron saint of the new event, and young Roman men resorted to courting females by sending handwritten notes delivered on February 14.


Thanks to Carl

Celebrating love on February 14th is “un-Islamic.”

February 14, 2019

Deborah Weiss

While many of those in the West are celebrating Valentine’s Day with the exchange of roses, chocolate, and candlelight dinners, lovers in Muslim countries must go into hiding to express their affections.

Though Valentine’s Day has Christian roots, honoring a Christian martyr named St. Valentine, over the years its religious connection has become attenuated and it is now considered a secular holiday, celebrated by all who want to express amore to their special someone on this day. However, in much of the Islamic world, Valentine’s Day is not just frowned upon, but is illegal, sometimes coming with dire consequences for those who ignore the “unIslamic” nature of this day of love.

Pakistan, for example, outlawed Valentine’s Day in 2017, when Islamabad’s High Court ruled that the holiday goes against Islamic teachings. The ruling came in response to a petition by Abdul Waheed, a Pakistani citizen, who believes that any Valentine’s Day promotions in the mainstream or social media are un-Islamic. His petition further argued that while Valentine’s Day is advocated in the language of love, this is merely pretext for the promotion of nudity, immorality and indecency. He won his case.

Subsequently, the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) was ordered to monitor all media and send out advisory notifications warning the media against reporting Valentine’s Day celebrations or promoting the holiday. Additionally, Pemra officials declared that “No [Valentine’s Day] event shall be held at the official level or at any public space.”

Over 60 percent of Pakistan’s population is under the age of 30, and many of them commemorated the holiday prior to the ban. Commercial outlets also benefitted by selling flowers, chocolate and Valentine’s Day hearts. Now, they do so at their own risk.

In recent years, the more stringent within the religious Islamic ummah have become politically active and denounce the holiday as being immoral. Specifically, the Taliban-linked group Jamiat ulema-e-Islam opposes Valentine’s Day. Surprisingly, even the women who belong to this group can be seen in full burkas burning signs that read “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

In 2012, in Indonesia, the highest Islamic clerical council announced that Valentine’s Day is contrary to Islamic teachings. In 2017, nationwide rallies were held to bring awareness to the fact that the holiday is a western concept. Protestors held signs reading “Muslims say no to Happy Valentine’s Day.” Last year, police gathered and arrested couples that were publicly affectionate. Indonesian fundamentalists believe that Valentine’s Day encourages premarital sex, which is a crime in Indonesia.

In Malaysia, Islamic authorities issued a fatwa in 2006 which banned Valentine’s Day. In 2011, the JAIS (Islamic morality police) arrested 80 couples for celebrating the holiday. Officers raided hotels in major cities during an anti-Valentine’s Day crusade. Then, in 2017, the National Muslim Youth Association issued a statement the day prior to Valentine’s Day, advising women not to wear perfume on Valentine’s Day and to refrain from using emoticons in their text messages.

In Iran, though the holiday isn’t technically illegal, much of the associated activity is banned. The morality police order shops and restaurants to remove hearts, flowers, and decorations, including pictures of couples embracing. They are prohibited from selling heart-shaped balloons, red roses, heart-shaped boxes, or Valentine’s Day cards. If they have the audacity to sell Valentine’s Day gifts, they are threatened with prosecution. Despite this, numerous restaurants in Tehran defy the law, employing lookouts to give advance notice of inspectors on Valentine’s Day patrol.

However, the country where celebrants of Valentine’s Day suffer the most, are those in Saudi Arabia. There, open celebration of this holiday can result in harsh criminal penalties. For example, in 2014, five men were caught on Valentine’s Day dancing with women who were not their wives. They were arrested and thrown in jail, and sentenced to 4500 lashings split among them.

The Commission on the Promotion of Virtue and Vice, otherwise known as the Religious Police, monitor store shelves to ensure that nothing is displayed in the verboten color of red. Red roses go on the black market, drastically increasing their price due to the risk of sale and their unavailability on the open market. The forbidden items are legal during the rest of the year, when Valentine’s Day is not in the fore. This, however, is little consolation for those who want to celebrate on this special day.

Yes, clearly the Islamic religious police are very concerned about the “immorality” that Valentine’s Day inspires. Given their concern about morals, what exactly are the religious police doing to stop the gang rape of women without hijabs, forced marriages of little girls, the jailing of those who engage in “blasphemous” speech, or the beheadings sanctioned by their own state? Oh, never mind. These activities aren’t western; they are “Islamic” so apparently they are A-OK -- so long as you don’t give your girlfriend flowers on February 14th. Islamic morals indeed.


Thanks to Military Periscope for 14 February

USA—White House Again Seeks To Redirect Pentagon Funds To Border Wall Foreign Policy | 02/14/2020 President Donald Trump intends to reprogram $3.8 billion from the defense budget to fund additional construction of a wall along the border with Mexico, reports Foreign Policy. About $1.6 billion would be diverted from the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund, according to a reprogramming action sent to lawmakers on Thursday. The money was earmarked for two C-130J airlifters and eight MQ-9 Reaper uncrewed aerial systems. An additional $2.2 billion comes from the base budget. Those funds were to go towards Army vehicles ($201 million), two F-35C fighter jets ($223 million), two V-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft ($155 million), a P-8 maritime patrol aircraft ($180 million), helicopter assault ships ($650 million), Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transports ($261 million) and two C-130Js ($196 million), as well as $156 million for advanced procurement funds for Air Force F-35s. The administration similarly redirected funds last year, moving funds in the budget to an account dedicated to anti-drug efforts. It has justified the shift by saying the barrier assists in the fight against violent drug-traffickers.

USA—Air Force Curtails B-2 Defensive Upgrade Program Defense News | 02/14/2020 The U.S. Air Force has decided to significantly restructure a modernization program for its B-2 stealth bombers after years of delays, reports Defense News. In its fiscal 2021 budget request, the service revealed that it planned to zero out the budget of the Defensive Management System Modernization (DMS-M) program over the next five years. The delays in the program reduced the return on the investment, necessitating the funding realignment, the Air Force said. As of October 2019, the program was about three years behind schedule, Bloomberg News reported at the time. One B-2 had completed the upgrade, which included new antennas and avionics to detect and identify ground-based air defense systems and other threats. Approximately $155 million will instead be put towards a cockpit upgrade, including advanced graphics processors and modernized displays. The modernization is needed to improve pilot situational awareness and address obsolescence issues with existing equipment. The change is expected to save the service approximately $327.9 million next year, although it will reduce the future survivability of the bomber, analysts said.

USA—Northrop Grumman To Develop Secure SATCOM Payload Space News | 02/14/2020 U.S. Space Force has awarded a contract to Northrop Grumman to develop a prototype secure communications payload for satellites, reports Space News. The $253.5 million contract under Protected Tactical Satellite Communications (PTS) program covers the development of a cyber-secure communications payload that can be integrated with military and commercial satellites. As many as four vendors will be selected to build cyber-secure prototype communications payloads under the program. Two prototypes will be selected for launch in 2024 for a three- to five-year on-orbit demonstration. The payloads are intended to be deployed in geostationary orbit to lessen the military’s dependence on the limited number of Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellites. The Pentagon wants to primarily use the AEHF constellation for strategic operations. The goal of the PTS program is to develop a next-generation anti-jamming satellite communications system, reported C4ISRNet. The system will provide global communications, including to the polar regions, using the protected tactical waveform. Space Force plans to initially deploy the protected tactical waveform from the Wideband Global Satellite Communications (WGS) constellation and later from commercial satellites.

USA—National Guard Leaders Press For Space Force Component Air Force Magazine | 02/14/2020 National Guard leaders are pushing the Pentagon and Congress to stand up a Guard component for the new Space Force, reports Air Force magazine. The Defense Dept. is currently looking at its options for a reserve component for the new service, while Guard leaders say a Space National Guard is needed for Air and Army guardsmen already performing space missions. One option being considered is a “single-component” force, where personnel are full- or part-time employees of the active Space Force rather than placing non-active-duty personnel in reserve and National Guard components, Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, the head of the California National Guard, said on Wednesday. The legislation authorizing the Space Force only included created an active component. A report from the Air Force detailing its ideas for a reserve component for Space Force is scheduled to be delivered to Congress on March 19. The requirement for a Space National Guard has been the subject of much debate. Advocates note that the National Guard already performs a number of space missions, such as strategic missile warning, space situational awareness, space control, electronic warfare, satellite command and control, satellite communications and space launch, reported Space News. Others argue that the Space Force mission does not fit with the purpose and part-time nature of the guard. Eight states and Guam currently have National Guard space units, totaling around 1,500 personnel. Guard officials say that there is no need to establish Space National Guard units for every state. Instead, the shift could be achieved with minimal additional overhead in those states that already maintain space guard capabilities.

Poland—Ongoing Issues Push Back Fielding Of U.S. BMD Site Breaking Defense | 02/14/2020 The completion of the U.S. Aegis Ashore site in Poland is expected to be delayed two more years, reports Breaking Defense. The ballistic missile defense facility is now expected to be completed in 2022, said Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill on Monday. The site was initially slated to open in 2018, but this was pushed back to 2020. The contractor has proven unable to finish the work on the site. Problems include auxiliary controls, such as heating, power and cooling and inputs to the combat system, Hill said. Addressing the problems is expected to cost an additional US$96 million in fiscal 2021. The admiral said he was scheduled to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the near future to determine if a new contractor was required.

China—Coronavirus Deaths Spike In Hubei Province British Broadcasting Corp. | 02/14/2020 China's central Hubei province, the center of the outbreak of a new coronavirus, has experienced its largest death total due to the illness in a single day, reports BBC News. On Wednesday, officials in Hubei reported 242 fatalities attributed to the virus, nearly twice the previous record for number of deaths caused by the coronavirus in a single day. At least 1,367 people throughout China have now been killed by the virus, formally designated COVID-19. Hubei also revealed that 14,840 new cases had been diagnosed on Wednesday, although this was primarily the result of a change in testing criteria, reported the Washington Post. The spike in diagnoses does not indicate a significant change in the outbreak’s trajectory, noted World Health Organization officials. The government in Beijing fired two top officials in Hubei shortly after the latest figures were made public.

South Korea—Defense Ministry Says No Talk Of Moving THAAD Launchers Yonhap | 02/14/2020 The South Korean Defense Ministry says it has not discussed with the U.S. a possible relocation of Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) launchers, reports the Yonhap news agency (Seoul). On Monday, U.S. Missile Defense Agency Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill said during a press briefing that separating the system’s launchers and radars would give U.S. and Korean forces additional flexibility. The potential move is related to a proposed US$1 billion effort to upgrade the air defense systems. A South Korean Defense Ministry spokeswoman said on Friday that the matter had not been discussed bilaterally. South Korean officials are aware of U.S. intentions to upgrade the systems but no plans have been finalized, she said. A full THAAD system was installed in 2017 and 2018 at the Seongju base in central South Korea. Attempts to move the system or its components could be met with opposition from locals.

Philippines—BIFF Bomb-Maker Killed In Shootout Philippine Daily Inquirer | 02/14/2020 A suspected bomb-maker linked to the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) insurgent group has been killed in a shootout with the Philippine army in the southern Cotabato province, reports the Philippine Daily Inquirer. On Wednesday, Katato Samad was killed in an encounter with government troops in the town of Pikit, said a military spokesman. The military had been informed of the presence of BIFF gunmen in the village, who opened fire when troops arrived. A motorbike, improvised explosive device (IED) components, ammunition, documents and personal belongings were later recovered. Three other members of the group surrendered. Several homemade firearms, a grenade launcher, a submachine gun and an IED were recovered. Samad reportedly led the special operations group and bomb-makers of the BIFF’s 1st division. The group is tied to the Islamic State. He is believed to have participated in a series of bombings that targeted transmission towers in 2015.

Singapore—Aerial Tankers In Line For Autonomy Upgrades Airbus | 02/14/2020 Airbus and the Singapore air force have agreed to work together on a modernization for the A330 multirole tanker transport, reports the defense firm. The upgraded Smart MRTTs will be equipped with automatic air-to-air refueling (A3R) capability and enhanced maintenance solutions, Airbus announced on Wednesday. The A3R system fully automates the process of connecting the tanker’s boom to the receiving aircraft, requiring the operator only to initiate the procedure and monitor the refueling. The system can also safely disconnect and clear the boom away from the receiver aircraft in the event of stability issues or a malfunction. Automated Pilot Director Lights (PDL) are added to give the pilot visual cues during the connection process. It is expected to result in smoother transitions and minimize the time connected to the boom, reported Defense News. Work on the Smart MRTT effort has been underway since 2017. Initial testing of the A3R system was conducted with an Airbus A310 MRTT test aircraft, with the first automatic contact achieved in 2018. In addition, improved maintenance features will allow ground crews to detect the root cause of issues from the aircraft’s cockpit and troubleshoot the issue from there. The changes will enable quicker fixes and increase the efficiency of spare part usage. One of Singapore’s MRTTs will take part in the development, flight testing and final certification of the new capabilities. Certification is anticipated in 2021.

Afghanistan—7-Day Truce With Taliban Seen As 1st Step Toward Peace Deal Wall Street Journal | 02/14/2020 President Donald Trump says that a peace deal with the Taliban could be signed within the next two weeks, reports the Wall Street Journal. In an interview with Geraldo Rivera published on Thursday, Trump implied that the accord would lead to a substantial reduction in U.S. troops in Afghanistan. As part of the agreement, the U.S. has negotiated a seven-day reduction of violence with the militant group, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Thursday at a NATO conference in Brussels, reported the Tolo News (Kabul). The truce was set to begin on Friday, Taliban sources told Agence France-Presse. If successful, the U.S. could sign an agreement with Taliban representatives later this month in Doha, said Trump. A previous accord fell through days before signing after militants killed several NATO troops in Kabul.

Syria—At Least 63 Syrian Troops Neutralized In Ongoing Fighting In Idlib Anadolu News Agency | 02/14/2020 The Turkish Defense Ministry says its forces have “neutralized” 63 Syrian regime and allied fighters in the northwestern Idlib province, reports Turkey’s Anadolu Agency. The figure reflects the latest information from in and around the rebel-held Idlib region, the ministry said on Friday. The Turkish government uses the term “neutralized” to refer to troops that are killed, wounded or captured. Ankara continues to send reinforcements to the province. On Thursday, Defense Minister Hulusi Akar told his NATO counterparts during a summit in Brussels that Turkey plans to deploy 5,000 additional troops to the region, reported Al Monitor (Washington, D.C.). Akar said that the goal is to secure a cease-fire, walking back escalating rhetoric from President Erdogan, who has pledged to push back Syrian forces. The minister also said that Turkey would enforce a cease-fire among “radical” groups, a likely reference to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the group that controls most of the province and is dominated by fighters from Syria’s former Al-Qaida affiliate. Russia has criticized Turkey’s reluctance to confront the extremist groups that control most of Idlib. The Syrian regime has used their presence to justify its offensive in the province. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Sunday to further discuss the issue, according to an Interfax report cited by Reuters.

Syria—7 Killed In Suspected Israeli Strike Outside Damascus Jerusalem Post | 02/14/2020 At least seven pro-regime elements have been killed in airstrikes outside of Damascus, the Syrian capital, reports the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (U.K.). Late Thursday, missiles struck an area near Damascus International Airport, killing four Iranian officers and three regime soldiers. The attack came shortly after the arrival of a cargo plane aircraft that was said to be carrying munitions, reported the Times of Israel. It was not immediately clear from where the plane had come. Syrian air defenses intercepted several of the projectiles, reported the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). Such claims are often false, noted analysts. The missiles hit five arms depots near the airport as well as a military position south of Damascus, reported Al Arabiya. The weapons were launched from a part of the Golan Heights controlled by Israel, said the Syrian military. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied knowledge of the operation, reported the Jerusalem Post. Israel does not typically comment on such operations.

Libya—LNA Used Cluster Munition In December Attack, Says Human-Rights Group Human Rights Watch | 02/14/2020 An aircraft affiliated with the Libyan National Army, the armed force led by Khalifa Haftar, employed cluster munitions in an attack on Tripoli last year, reports the Human Rights Watch non-governmental organization. On Dec. 2, an aircraft operated by the LNA or one its backers launched at least two RBK-250 PTAB 2.5M cluster bombs in a residential area in the southern suburbs of the Libyan capital, the organization reported on Thursday. Cluster munitions were largely banned under the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, although Libya is not a signatory to the treaty. The devices were banned due to their indiscriminate nature and their tendency to leave unexploded munitions on the battlefield. There were no casualties since most residents in the area had left in response to previous fighting in the area, according to two witnesses interviewed by the NGO. There was also evidence that high-explosive bombs were used in the strike.

Mali—Government Troops Return To Kidal For 1st Time Since 2014 Reuters | 02/14/2020 Malian soldiers have returned to the northern city of Kidal for their first permanent deployment there since 2014, reports Reuters. More than 200 troops entered the city on Thursday, according to the MINUSMA peacekeeping mission. An army spokesman said troops had arrived in the city with no problem. The troops were escorted by U.N. peacekeepers and helicopters. The 240-strong detachment consisted of existing army troops, former rebels and pro-government militiamen. The Tuareg rebels signed a peace agreement with the central government in 2015, noted Turkey’s Anadolu Agency. Malian troops have not remained in the city since 2014, when fighting erupted during a visit by the prime minister, killing 50 soldiers. Plans call for 428 soldiers to be deployed across the Kidal region in the coming days, officials said. From there, the army’s presence is expected to be gradually expand across northern Mali.

Nigeria—Soldiers Accused Of Displacing Villagers, Razing Villages In Borno Amnesty International | 02/14/2020 Nigerian soldiers have razed villages and forcibly displaced residents in response to an upswing in militant attacks, reports Amnesty International. Attacks by the militant group Boko Haram increased in December, targeting a strategic road connecting Maiduguri and Damaturu, the capitals of Borno and Yobe states, according to the U.K.-based watchdog. In January, Nigerian soldiers forced about 400 civilians to leave their homes in the villages of Bukarti, Ngariri, and Matiri, all located along the road, according to 12 survivors. Reuters was able to confirm the report in interviews with the villagers. Satellite imagery showed that almost every structure in the villages were destroyed. There were also signs of burning in neighboring villages. At least six young men were taken and held for a month without charges before being released. They appeared to be selected at random. The Nigerian military did not immediately respond to the report. The forced displacement without apparent justification and razing of the villages could constitute war crimes, Amnesty said.

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