Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Syria plants mines along Lebanon border

The Daily Star Lebanon  June 13, 2012

BEIRUT: Syrian forces crossed 300 meters into Lebanon Wednesday and planted land mines along the eastern border area of Masharih al-Qaa, a security source told The Daily Star.

The source added that Syrian troops also planted mines around the house of Lebanese citizen Mohammad Aqeel.

The operation lasted 30 minutes.

June 13, 2012 Posted by | Landmines, Lebanon, Syria | , , , | Leave a comment

S. Lebanon deminers discover bodies of 5 Syrian army soldiers

The Daily Star April 18, 2012

BEIRUT: The corpses of five Syrian army soldiers buried during the 1982 Israeli invasion of south Lebanon have been discovered by a demining team, security sources told The Daily Star.

Members of the demining team MAX, whose work involves clearing areas of cluster bombs, discovered the bodies in a plot of land near the Jezzine-Kfar Houneh main road in south Lebanon.

The bodies, security sources said, were buried in 1982, during the second invasion of south Lebanon by the Jewish state.

The soldiers are believed to have split off from their contingent, which at the time had been stationed in the area, as a result of Israeli aerial raids.

The relevant authorities have been notified of the discovery.

April 20, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Demining, Explosive Remnants of War, Lebanon, Mine Clearance, Syria | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

S. Lebanon deminers discover bodies of 5 Syrian army soldiers

The Daily Star April 18, 2012

BEIRUT: The corpses of five Syrian army soldiers buried during the 1982 Israeli invasion of south Lebanon have been discovered by a demining team, security sources told The Daily Star.

Members of the demining team MAX, whose work involves clearing areas of cluster bombs, discovered the bodies in a plot of land near the Jezzine-Kfar Houneh main road in south Lebanon.

The bodies, security sources said, were buried in 1982, during the second invasion of south Lebanon by the Jewish state.

The soldiers are believed to have split off from their contingent, which at the time had been stationed in the area, as a result of Israeli aerial raids.

The relevant authorities have been notified of the discovery

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April 18, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Demining, Landmines, Lebanon, Mine Clearance, Syria | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leaked emails show US security firm helping Syrian rebels

Press TV  April 4, 2012

Leaked emails show an American private security company, SCG International has been helping the Syrian opposition in its efforts to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad at the request of US officials.

The whistleblower website, Wikileaks, released the emails sent by SCG Chief Executive James F. Smith, the former director of the notorious company Blackwater, which is blamed for the killing of many civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In one of the emails, Smith says his company was contracted to engage the Turkey-based Syrian opposition in a so-called “fact finding mission,” but “the true mission is how they can help in regime change.”

The emails were sent to the vice president of intelligence at Stratfor, Fred Burton. Stratfor, a US-based global security think tank, describes itself as a source of geopolitical analysis to corporate and government clients.

Smith introduces his company to Burton by saying his “background is CIA and his company is comprised of former Department of Defense (DoD), CIA and former law enforcement personnel,” and his company provides services for those same groups in the form of training, security and information collection.

SCG’s mission with the Syrian opposition had “air cover from US Congresswoman Sue Myrick,” a Republican lawmaker from North Carolina, according to the emails.

Smith also provided intelligence to Stratfor on Libya, where SCG International was contracted to protect Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) members and train Libyan rebel fighters.

Impressed by Smith’s intelligence, Burton praises him in one of the emails saying “Good skinny. This is what is defined as a credible source. Not some windbag Paki academic belching and passing gas.”

The emails are among a trove of five million messages hacked from Stratfor in mid-December by the hacker group Anonymous

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April 4, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Syria | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria’s Assad rebuffs Annan, troops attack Idlib

Reuters Lebanon  March 10, 2012

U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan (C), Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem (R) and Bouthaina Shaaban, adviser of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad attend a working lunch at a restaurant in the old Damascus March 10

President Bashar al-Assad told U.N./Arab League envoy Kofi Annan on Saturday that no political solution was possible in Syria while “terrorist” groups were destabilizing the country.

“Syria is ready to make a success of any honest effort to find a solution for the events it is witnessing,” state news agency SANA quoted Assad as telling his guest.

“No political dialogue or political activity can succeed while there are armed terrorist groups operating and spreading chaos and instability,” the Syrian leader said after about two hours of talks with the former U.N. secretary-general.

There was no immediate comment from Annan after the meeting, aimed at halting bloodshed that has cost thousands of lives since a popular uprising erupted a year ago.

While they discussed the crisis, Syrian troops were assaulting the northwestern city of Idlib, a rebel bastion.

“Regime forces have just stormed into Idlib with tanks and heavy shelling is now taking place,” said an activist contacted by telephone, the sound of explosions punctuating the call.

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March 10, 2012 Posted by | Syria | , , | Leave a comment

Homs, Syria: Assad Allies Charge Mossad, CIA, Blackwater Link

International Business Times  March 8, 2012

The press agency of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement charged Wednesday that the CIA, Israel’s Mossad and private security firms have been exposed supporting Syrian rebels in Homs.

Al-Manar, a channel linked to the Shi’ite militia Hezbollah — a close ally of the Assad regime in Syria — asserted that 700 Arab and Western gunmen along with Israeli, American and European-made weapons were seized in the rebellious Homs neighborhood of Baba Amro when government forces overwhelmed and routed the rebel Free Syrian Army last weekend. It said mercenaries of Xe Services LL, formerly known as Blackwater, and Academi were also apprehended

The site quoted one predicting: “Huge and critical surprises will be uncovered in the coming few days, such as the kinds of arms seized, as well as the military tactics the armed groups follows, and the sides that supervised the operations.”

Salim Harba, a Syrian security expert, told Al-Manar that “a coordination office was established in Qatar under American-Gulf sponsorship. The office includes American, French, and Gulf — specifically from Qatar and Saudi Arabia — intelligence agents, as well as CIA, Mossad, and Blackwater agents and members of the Syrian Transitional Council.”

He added, “Qatar had also made deals with Israeli and American companies to arm the armed groups, and Gulf countries have been financing the agreements.”

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March 8, 2012 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Private Security Contractor, Syria | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thirteen French officers ‘captured by Syrian Army’

Thirteen French officers have been captured by Syrian forces according to the Lebanon-based Daily Star newspaper, the first mainstream media outlet to report on rumours of Western troops on the ground.

The Telegraph  March 6, 2012

The French foreign ministry dismissed the report, however, telling the Daily Telegraph that not a single French soldier is on Syrian soil.

But the defence ministry was less categorical, saying it neither confirmed nor denied the claim.

A photographer who recently escaped from the besieged Syrian city of Homs also dismissed suggestions French soldiers had intervened to secure his evacuation and that of three other Western reporters.

The report came on Monday as the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent reached two neighbourhoods of Homs where they were distributing food and blankets to civilians, including families who had fled the battered district of Baba Amr.

The teams still do not appear to have been allowed into Baba Amr itself.

March 6, 2012 Posted by | Journalists, Syria | , , , | Leave a comment

Two Western journalists killed in besieged Syrian city

LA TIMES  February 22, 2012

REPORTING FROM PARIS — An award-winning American-born journalist and a French photographer died in the besieged Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday, after the building in which they were taking shelter came under attack.

Veteran foreign correspondent Marie Colvin and photographer Remi Ochlik were killed by a rocket as they tried to escape from the house that was being shelled.

After the French government confirmed the deaths, tributes poured in for Colvin, 55, a reporter for the Sunday Times of London who had covered conflicts in Kosovo, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and the Middle East.

She was known for her courageous reporting from the world’s hot spots and the black eye patch that she wore after losing an eye from a shrapnel wound while working in Sri Lanka in 2001.

Colvin was the only journalist from a British newspaper in the Homs district of Baba Amr and had filed reports on the “absolutely sickening” bloodshed she witnessed there in the days leading up to her death. Her report in the Sunday Times last weekend said the citizens of Homs were “waiting for a massacre.”

In an interview with CNN and the BBC on Tuesday, she said: “I watched a little baby die today. Absolutely horrific … his little tummy just kept heaving until he died. That is happening over and over and over. … There is just shells, rockets and tank fire pouring into the civilian areas of this city, and it is just unrelenting.”

Earlier this month, Ochlik, 28, won first prize in the World Press Photo contest’s general news category for images taken during the Libyan conflict

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February 22, 2012 Posted by | Journalists, Safety and Security Issues, Syria | , , , , | Leave a comment

State Department closed US Embassy in Syria

The Washington Times February 6, 2012

The State Department on Monday suspended operations at the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria, and pulled all its staff, including Ambassador Robert Ford, out of the country.

The State Department cited the recent surge in violence for its decision.

“Bombings in Damascus on December 23 and January 6, has raised serious concerns that our Embassy is not sufficiently protected from armed attack,” the State Department said.

The government of President Bashar Assad did not respond “adequately” to security concerns raised by the U.S. and other diplomatic missions, it added

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February 6, 2012 Posted by | State Department, Syria | , , , , | Leave a comment