VFI News Mar 22, 2022
Syria to Supply Russia with 40,000 Mercenaries
Syrian President Bashar Assad has promised to provide some 40,000 militants to the Russian Federation for the war in Ukraine, The Ukrainian Defense Ministry reported on Thursday afternoon, March 17.
According to Ukrainian intelligence, weapons and other equipment will be transferred to Russia and Belarus from Syria in the near future, the statement reported, in addition to as many as 40,000 militants.
A report on March 13 from Ukrainian intelligence indicated that Russia had already opened 14 recruitment centers across Syria, in Damascus, Aleppo, Hamma, Raqqa, and Deir ez-Zor, in order to strengthen its forces.
Russia is reportedly paying foreign mercenaries a monthly salary of between $300-$600 to fight.
Two days prior, on March 11, it was reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin would allow 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East to join the Russian-backed forces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
The mercenaries have reportedly been informed that they will perform "exclusively police functions to restore order in the occupied territories." However, the statement added, "information about direct participation in hostilities against the Ukrainian army has begun to spread among mercenaries. This significantly reduced the 'fighting spirit' of the Syrians."
The morale of the Syrian mercenaries has apparently also been reduced, according to Ukrainian media, due to the arrival of over 30 injured Russian Forces militants to an army base, resulting in some deciding to refuse to participate in hostilities.
Responding to the news of Syria's intention to send mercenaries, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry's official Twitter account shared a statement, saying: "The Kremlin wants to engage Syrian troops of the Assad regime in the war against Ukraine. If they freeze, our artillery will warm them up."
Additionally, Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov has said he will be sending another 1,000 Chechens to assist Russian forces in Ukraine.
Despite these reports and reports from the Kremlin, the US says it has not seen an influx of Middle Eastern fighters joining Russian forces, according to Central Command Head of the United States Military, Kenneth Mackenzie. (JPost/ VFI News)
Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” - 1 Samuel 17:45
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To Avoid Attack, Israel said to Coordinate on its Ukraine Field Hospital with Russia
Israel has coordinated its plans to set up a field hospital in Ukraine with Russia, giving Moscow the exact coordinates of the base to ensure it is not attacked, the Walla news site reported Thursday, March 17.
According to the report, that cited two Israeli officials, Israeli Ambassador to Moscow Alexander Ben Zvi met last week with Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov to update him on the plans.
After the cabinet took the decision to establish the hospital, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett then raised the issue during a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Bennett has been trying to mediate between Russia and Ukraine.
Concerns over the possibility that the field hospital could be attacked were heightened Thursday when the UN said Russia had repeatedly attacked hospitals in Ukraine.
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the UN Security Council Thursday that WHO has verified 43 attacks on hospitals and health facilities with 12 people killed and 34 injured.
The UN health chief decried the devastating consequences of war on the Ukrainian people who are facing severe disruption to services and medication and stressed that “the life-saving medicine we need right now is peace.”
In a virtual briefing, Tedros said “the disruption to services and supplies is posing an extreme risk to people with cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, HIV and TB, which are among the leading causes of mortality in Ukraine.”
The WHO chief said displacement and overcrowding caused by people fleeing the fighting are likely to increase the risks of diseases such as COVID-19, measles, pneumonia, and polio.
In addition, more than 35,000 mental health patients in Ukrainian psychiatric hospitals and long-term care facilities face severe shortages of medicine, food, health, and blankets, he said.
Seventeen tons of equipment needed to set up the Israeli field hospital in Ukraine were loaded onto a cargo plane of national carrier El Al on Thursday. The cargo will be flown later in the day to Poland and from there sent to the town of Mostyska in western Ukraine, where the hospital, dubbed “Kohav Meir” (“Shining Star”) will be set up.
A delegation of doctors led by David Dagan, chief of the State Hospitals Directorate at the Health Ministry, was set to fly out on Sunday to staff the hospital. The delegation includes doctors and medical staff from across Israel’s health system, the statement said.
The government approved plans for the Israeli field hospital to be established in war-torn Ukraine, where it will operate for a month. (TOI / VFI News)
“God, we ask that You bring healing and medical care to those who have been affected by the war.”
Iran Defies Western Powers with Enriched Uranium Work
Iran has defied Western countries by carrying out work on near-weapons grade enriched uranium that will make it harder to implement the terms of any revived nuclear deal with world powers, Reuters reported Wednesday, March 16.
The work carried out earlier this month was to convert the uranium into a type that is less easily recovered and diluted so that it can then be removed from the country, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency report issued to member states last Thursday and seen by Reuters.
It came as negotiations continue in Vienna to save the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a pact that aimed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons but has been in tatters after the US pulled out in 2018. Since then, Iran has dropped some of its own commitments, enriching uranium to levels beyond those in the deal and that the IAEA says are only used by states seeking a weapon.
Converting uranium into a different form in the manner Iran has done will make it harder to implement any agreement for it to return to lower limits of enriched uranium laid out in the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).
Diplomats say that the emerging agreement will require Iran to dispose of its uranium enriched above 3.67%. Iran’s most enriched uranium is at 60%, a short technical step from 90% weapons-grade, and it has about 33 kg of the material.
Until the recent work, it was all in the form of uranium hexafluoride, which can be easily diluted and transported, something that has been under discussion for months at the Vienna talks, Reuters reported. However, between March 6-9, Iran transformed 2.1 kg of up to 60% uranium from one form into 1.7 kg of another form. The process produced molybdenum 99, and another, a medical radioisotope. However, the enriched uranium then requires processing to recover it from the resulting materials. (TOI / VFI News)
When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, for the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory. - Deuteronomy 20:1-4
US Weighs Dropping Iran's IRGC from Terrorism List
The United States is considering removing Iran's Revolutionary Guards from its foreign terrorist organization blacklist in return for Iranian assurances about reining in the elite force, a source familiar with the matter said on Wednesday, March 16.
The source said Washington had not decided what might be an acceptable commitment from Tehran in exchange for such a step, which would reverse former US President Donald Trump's 2019 blacklisting of the group and draw sharp Republican criticism.
The move was the first time Washington had formally labeled part of another sovereign government as a terrorist group.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is a powerful faction in Iran that controls a business empire as well as elite armed and intelligence forces that Washington accuses of carrying out a global terrorist campaign.
The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Biden administration was weighing whether to drop the terrorist designation "in return for some kind of commitment and/or steps by Iran, with respect to regional or other IRGC activities."
Asked about the possibility of removing the IRGC from the US terrorism list, US State Department spokesman Ned Price declined to comment beyond saying that sanctions relief is at the heart of negotiations to revive the nuclear deal.
Last week an Iranian official said the IRGC's removal from the blacklist had been under discussion as far back as June but that the issue had become more complicated after last summer's election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi as Iran's president.
The Iranian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States had made clear "they cannot remove it without major concessions from Iran," a stance he said had been rejected by Iran's lead nuclear negotiator, Ali Bagheri Kani.
The IRGC's political influence in Iran's complex power structure has increased since the election of Raisi, who took office in August and whose government includes dozens of Revolutionary Guard commanders.
“God, we ask that you protect Your people, and hold Iran accountable for the terrorism that they cause.”
Hodu La'Adonai (Psalm 136:1)
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. - Psalm 136:1
Two Iranian Drones Shot Down over Iraq Were Heading to Israel
Two Iranian drones shot down over Iraq last month by American fighter jets were set to explode in Israeli territory, the defense establishment has confirmed.
The drones, which were downed by the international coalition close to Erbil in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, were said to be Shahed-136s.
Prior to the foiled attack, which occurred on February 14, Israeli security officials had been on high alert over fears of an Iranian response to a series of Israeli attacks on Iranian targets as part of the IDF’s war-between-wars campaign.
Last week, Hezbollah-affiliated al-Mayadeen reported that earlier in February Israel destroyed hundreds of Iranian drones in a strike that targeted the Kermanshah airbase. In response to that attack, Iran fired 12 ballistic missiles toward Erbil targeting what they claimed to be an Israeli military base.
The confirmation of the reports comes a month after the Israel Air Force announced that two Iranian Shahed 197 drones heading toward Israel were downed by IAF F-35i fighter jets last year. (JPost / VFI News)
“God, we ask that you keep Israel safe from harm.”
Lifting Sanctions on Iran Will Finance Terror Against Israel
Lifting sanctions on Iran will fund terrorism against Israel and throughout the Middle East, US Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-New York) warned in an interview with The Jerusalem Post this week.
“I share Israel’s concern about lifting sanctions,” Torres said. “If we lift the sanctions, how are those dollars likely to be spent? I have no reason to think those dollars will be spent on an Iranian Build Back Better Act. I have every reason to think those dollars will likely finance acts of terrorism and proxy warfare and the Sunni Arab world.”
Torres also said he does not think that a majority of Congress would support lifting sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
“If there was an ally of the US lifting sanctions on al-Qaeda in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, how would we feel?” he said, making the case to Americans against lifting sanctions. “We would be outraged. That’s how Israelis feel about the lifting of sanctions on Iran and its proxies.”
For Americans, Torres said, lifting sanctions is an abstract idea, while Israelis will feel its concrete effects.
“Unlike the US, which is surrounded by two oceans and peaceful neighbors, Israel is largely surrounded by hostile neighbors” – like Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon – “and essentially shares a border with Russia. Most of us in the US have no concept of the fragile security situation; none of us have had to live with rocket fire or live in neighborhoods where bus stops double as bomb shelters or have [had] the trauma of children running to bomb shelters.
“Nothing in the American experience is remotely comparable to the volatility Israel faces every day.” (JPost / VFI News)
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. - Romans 12:15
Zelensky tells German MPs ‘Never Again’ Holocaust Slogan is Now Meaningless
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky evoked the Holocaust in his address to Germany’s parliament Thursday, March 17, telling lawmakers that vows to never let the atrocity be repeated are empty in light of a failure to prevent Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Every year politicians repeat ‘never again,'” the Ukrainian leader said, referring to annual Holocaust commemorations.
“And now, we see that these words simply mean nothing. A people is being destroyed in Europe,” he said, noting that 108 children had been killed in his country since the start of the Russian offensive.
Zelensky stressed that the future of the continent was at stake in the current war and argued that governments across the West were failing to meet the moment.
“Help us stop this war,” he said. (TOI / VFI News)
Israel Ranked 9th Happiest Country in the World
Israel is ranked the world’s ninth happiest country in the annual World Happiness Report, coming just one point below Norway and beating out New Zealand.
Israel has been climbing through the happiness rankings in the past two years, from 14th in 2020 and 11th last year.
Like last year, COVID-19 played a major role in this report, as the world continues to grapple with how the global pandemic disrupted and upended society in all sectors.
Overall, Nordic countries once again dominated the top slots. Finland topped the list as the world’s happiest country for the fifth year in a row.
In second place was Denmark, followed by Iceland. Switzerland came in fourth followed by the Netherlands and Luxembourg, with the Nordic states of Sweden and Norway following in seventh and eighth place.
Factors taken into account include GDP, social support, life expectancy, freedom to make life choices, generosity, and perceptions of corruption.
This is the 10th anniversary of the release of the World Happiness Report, a publication of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network. (JPost / VFI News)
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; - Ecclesiastes 3:12
The suggestions, opinions, and scripture references made by VFI News writers and editors are based on the best information received.
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