Syria Government

European News Agencies discuss artificial intelligence


Anadolu Agency called on other European news media organizations to be more sensitive towards the ongoing tragedy in Syria. A three-day general assembly of the European Alliance of News Agencies (EANA) came to an end on Friday in the Czech capital Prague. Anadolu Agency editor-in-chief Metin Mutanoglu said in a speech that Syria's northwestern Idlib area was under heavy fire by Bashar al-Assad regime forces and that the region was facing a fresh wave of migrants. Mutanoglu underlined that though tens of thousands were forced to leave their homes due to regime attacks, the European news media were not interested enough in the issue. A new migration wave would affect not only Turkey but the rest of Europe as well, he stressed, adding that EANA should thus make a greater effort to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in war-torn country .

Airstrikes on Iran-backed groups in Syria apparently kill 18; Hezbollah claims downing of Israeli drone

The Japan Times

BEIRUT – Unknown warplanes targeted overnight an arms depot and posts of Iranian-backed militias in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border, killing at least 18 fighters, Syrian opposition activists said Monday. The strikes come amid rising tensions in the Middle East and the crisis between Iran and the U.S. in the wake of the collapsing nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. An official with an Iranian-backed militia in Iraq blamed Israel for the airstrikes that hit in the eastern Syrian town of Boukamal. There was no immediate comment from Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month that Iran has no immunity anywhere and that the Israeli military "will act -- and currently are acting -- against them."

Lebanon Accuses Israel of 2nd Attack in 2 Days

NYT > Middle East

Early Tuesday, Hezbollah changed its description of the first drone, saying that it had been carrying 12 pounds of explosives. The group's officials had previously said the first drone was for surveillance while the second was laden with explosives. Hezbollah is a political party represented in the Lebanese government as well as the country's most formidable military force. It fought a devastating war against Israel in 2006 and has more recently sent fighters to help President Bashar al-Assad of Syria fight rebels seeking to overthrow him. Israel and Iran have long been staunch enemies, but the conflict has heated up recently as Israel has increasingly attacked armed groups that Iran backs to extend its influence in the Arab world.

Iran likely at 'inflection point,' launching attacks to change 'status quo,' Defense Intelligence Agency director tells Fox News

FOX News

Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., director of Defense Intelligence Agency, gives insight on recent Iranian attacks on tankers and a surveillance drone. EXCLUSIVE – Iran is likely at "an inflection point," and the recent attacks on tankers and the downing of a U.S. surveillance drone appear to be part of an effort to change "the status quo," the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told Fox News exclusively. "I'd say that they're probably at an inflection point right now," the director, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley Jr., explained in his first national TV interview as the leader of the nearly 17-thousand strong agency. Director Ashley said, based on their activity over the last several years, the Iranians would probably say they were in a "favorable" position with their influence over the Iraqi government and the likelihood their longtime regional ally -- Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- will remain in power. But, Director Ashley -- whose agency's mission is to understand foreign militaries and the operational environment -- said the United States' withdrawal from the Iran deal and subsequent sanctions made a major impact on the regime.

Armenia sends mine-clearing experts, doctors to Syria

FOX News

YEREVAN, Armenia – Armenia has sent a team of experts to Syria on a Russia-backed mission to help clear mines and provide medical assistance. Armenian Defense Ministry spokesman Artsrun Hovhannisyan said Saturday the team of 83 includes de-mining experts, medical personnel and security officers. He said it will defuse mines and provide medical help to residents of Aleppo, in northern Syria. Before the war, Aleppo was home to 110,000 ethnic Armenians, one of the world's largest Armenian diasporas. About 22,000 have since moved to Armenia.

Syria air defenses target suspected 'hostile' drones over Russia base

The Japan Times

DAMASCUS - Syria state media said Sunday the country's air defense systems intercepted and destroyed three "hostile" targets over a Russian air base in the country's coastal region. There were no more details about the suspected attack or who was behind it, but it comes amid rising violations of a cease-fire in Syria's west negotiated by Turkey and Russia and in place since September. On Sunday, Russia Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said on state television that the agreement with Turkey is not fully implemented, leaving the situation there as a matter of concern "first of all, by the Syrian authorities and also Moscow." He didn't address the suspected drone attack. The Britain-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said explosions heard in the region were from air defense systems intercepting suspected attacking drones.

Probabilistic Blocking with An Application to the Syrian Conflict Machine Learning

Entity resolution seeks to merge databases as to remove duplicate entries where unique identifiers are typically unknown. We review modern blocking approaches for entity resolution, focusing on those based upon locality sensitive hashing (LSH). First, we introduce k-means locality sensitive hashing (KLSH), which is based upon the information retrieval literature and clusters similar records into blocks using a vector-space representation and projections. Second, we introduce a subquadratic variant of LSH to the literature, known as Densified One Permutation Hashing (DOPH). Third, we propose a weighted variant of DOPH. We illustrate each method on an application to a subset of the ongoing Syrian conflict, giving a discussion of each method.

Report: Blast kills Syrian arms program researcher

FOX News

BEIRUT – A research director at a military agency linked to Syria's chemical weapons program was assassinated, a newspaper close to the Syrian government reported Sunday. The pro-government al-Watan newspaper reported on its website that Aziz Esber, of the Scientific Studies and Research Center, died in a blast targeting his car Saturday night, in Syria's Hama province. It said Israel was suspected of carrying out the attack. There was no comment from Israeli or Syrian government officials. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syria war through local contacts, also reported Esber's death.

O.P.C.W., Chemical Weapons Watchdog, Gets Power to Assign Blame

NYT > Middle East

"Are we really committed to prohibiting chemical weapons, or only committed if no one is upset, only committed if no one complains, only committed if no one is put out?" "Without attributing responsibility for their use, our words will become empty rhetoric," Mr. Mason said. "Those that use chemical weapons will more confidently wear a cloak of impunity." The Syrian ambassador, Bassam al-Sabbagh, devoted most of his speech to the group to attacking the United States, which he said had caused the bloodshed in the Middle East, distorted the operation of the O.P.C.W. and other international bodies and conducted "a campaign of false allegations" against his country. He even blamed Americans for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The United States gives chemical weapons to allied militias, he claimed, to use "in order to inflame international public opinion against the Syrian government."

Member States Allow Chemical Arms Watchdog to Assign Blame for Attacks

U.S. News

From 2015 to 2017 a joint United Nations-OPCW team had been appointed to assign blame for chemical attacks in Syria. It found that Syrian government troops used nerve agent sarin and chorine barrel bombs on several occasions, while Islamic State militants were found to have used sulfur mustard.