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Hezbollah armed with improved missiles

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, along with Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak, warned yesterday that that the guerrilla group Hezbollah was in possession of more weapons than some governments.

Robert Michael Gates

Gates, after meeting with Barak, said that both Syria and Iran were responsible for providing weapons of “ever increasing capability” to Hezbollah, although he declined to confirm that the group had gained possession of ballistic missiles called Scuds.”

Barak said that missiles owned by Hezbollah had the potential to “disrupt the very delicate balance in Lebanon,” although he stated that a military conflict as a result of the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah was unlikely.

He said that “We [Israel] do not intend to provoke any kind of major collision in Lebanon, or vis-a-vis Syria,” though he added that “we are watching closely these developments and think that they do not contribute to stability in the region.” Read More…

On this day March 22, 1945

Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan, and Yemen founded the Arab League, a regional organization that facilitates political, economic, cultural, scientific and social programs designed to promote the interests of the Arab world.

League of Arab States

League of Arab States

The Arab League currently has 22 members, Egypt’s membership was suspended in 1979 after it signed the Egyptian–Israeli Peace Treaty, and the League’s headquarters were moved from Cairo to Tunis.

In 1987, Arab countries restored diplomatic relations with Egypt and the country was readmitted to the league in 1989 while the league’s headquarters moved back to Cairo. In September 2006, Venezuela was accepted as an observer, and India in 2007. Read More…

On this day February 2, 1982

The Syrian army bombarded the town of Hama in order to quell a revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood, killing about over 10,000 people.

Hama �ماة

Hama حماة

Calls for vengeance grew within the brotherhood, and bomb attacks increased in frequency.

Events culminated with a general insurrection in the conservative Sunni town of Hama in February 1982.

Islamists and other opposition activists proclaimed Hama a “liberated city” and urged Syria to rise up against the “infidel”. Brotherhood fighters swept the city of Ba’thists, breaking into the homes of government employees and suspected supporters of the regime, killing about 50. Read More…

On this day December 12, 1098

Crusaders breach the town’s walls of Ma’arrat al-Numan and massacre about 20,000 inhabitants. After finding themselves with insufficient food, they resort to cannibalism.


Ma'arrat al-Numan معرة النعمان

The most infamous event from the city’s history dates from late 1098, during the First Crusade. After the Crusaders, led by Raymond de Saint Gilles and Bohemond of Taranto, successfully besieged Antioch they found themselves with insufficient supplies of food.

Their raids on the surrounding countryside during the winter months did not help the situation. By December 12 when they reached Ma’arra, many of them were suffering from starvation and malnutrition.

They managed to breach the city’s walls and massacred about 20,000 inhabitants, as they often did when they captured a city. However, this time, as they could not find enough food, they resorted to cannibalism. Read More…

On this day October 11, 1138

A massive earthquake, one of the deadliest in recorded history, struck Aleppo, Syria. The United States Geological Survey lists it as the fourth deadliest earthquake in history.

Rank Earthquake Mag. Country Date Fatalities
1 “Shaanxi” 8 China January 23, 1556 830,000
2 “Tangshan” 7.8 China July 27, 1976 242,000
3 “Indian Ocean” 9.1 Indonesia December 26, 2004 230,210
4 Aleppo 8.5 Syria October 11, 1138 230,000
5 “Haiyuan” 8.5 China December 16, 1920 240,000
“Damghan”  ? Iran December 22, 856 200,000

A contemporary chronicler in Damascus, Ibn al-Qalanisi, recorded the main quake on Wednesday, 11 October 1138. He wrote that it was preceded by an initial quake on 10 October and there were aftershocks on the evening of 20 October, on 25 October, on the night of 30 October-1 November, and finishing with another in the early morning of 3 November. Read More…

On this day October 6, 1973

Egypt, under the leadership of President Anwar Sadat , launched Operation Badr in co-ordination with Syria, respectively crossed the cease-fire lines in the Sinai and the Golan Heights, which had been captured and occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Golda Meir, Pat and Richard Nixon in 1973

1973 Golda Meir, Pat and Richard Nixon

The War was fought from October 6 to October 26, 1973, began with a joint surprise attack on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism.

Attacking across the Suez Canal, the Egyptians were successful during the first four days of the war, following which the front settled into a stalemate.

After a disastrous Egyptian attempt to renew the offensive, the Israelis counterattacked, striking at the seam between two Egyptian armies. In over a week of heavy fighting, the Israelis crossed the Suez Canal (where the old ceasefire line had been), and eventually cut off elements of the Egyptian Third Army after a United Nations cease-fire had failed. Read More…

Syria files UN Security Council complaint

In the aftermath of a United States raid in border town Abu Kamal within Syria on October 26, the country has filed a complaint with the United Nations Security Council to prevent further breaches of Syria’s borders. Calling the operation a “terrorist aggression,” Syria has alleged that eight civilians were killed in the raid, which was launched from neighboring Iraq.

“Syria draws attention to this aggressive act and expects the UN Security Council and member countries to assume their responsibility by preventing a repetition of this dangerous violation,” read a letter to the UN Security Council. It called for the UN “to hold the aggressor responsible for the deaths of the innocent Syrian nationals.” Read More…

US Special Operations Forces strike inside Syria

The attack carried out by helicopter-borne United States Special Operations Forces inside Syrian territory on October 26, 2008. The raid is the first known attack by U.S. forces inside Syrian territory. According to the U.S. military, the target was a network of foreign fighters who travel through Syria to join the Iraqi insurgency against the United States-led Coalition in Iraq and the post-2003 Iraqi government.

The helicopter-borne troops carried out the raid inside eastern Syria near Abu Kamal, which is near the Iraqi border city of Al-Qa’im, regarded by the U.S. as the main crossing point into Iraq for fighters, money, and equipment in support of the Iraqi insurgency. Read More…