Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Japanese Journalist, War Correspondent, Killed in Syrian Violence

VOA  August 21, 2012

Japan’s Foreign Ministry says a Japanese journalist has died in Syria after being caught in gunfire while traveling with the rebel Free Syrian Army.

The ministry said Tuesday that 45-year-old Mika Yamamoto was shot in the northern city of Aleppo. She worked for the Tokyo-based Japan Press, where she previously covered wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fighting continues across Syria, where opposition activists say the violence killed at least 140 people Monday. The Local Coordination Committees says more deadly violence hit Damascus, Homs and Daraa on Tuesday.

August 21, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Casualties, Journalists | , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Senator Blocks Army Weapons Buyer on Russia Arms to Syria

Bloomberg Tony Capaccio  June 12, 2012

A Texas senator is blocking confirmation of the nominee for the Army’s top weapons buyer until the Defense Department pledges to take action against a Russian company supplying arms to Syria’s Assad regime.

Republican Senator John Cornyn has invoked a senatorial prerogative to place a “hold” on Heidi Shyu, President Barack Obama’s nominee to be the Army’s assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, according to an aide to the senator who spoke on condition of anonymity because discussions about the dispute are being held in private.

Cornyn is leading a Senate effort pressuring the Department of Defense to stop doing business with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state-run arms trader. The Army has a $375 million, no-bid contract with the company to buy 21 Russian-made Mi-17 helicopters for Afghanistan’s air force that it says only Rosoboronexport can provide.

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June 12, 2012 Posted by | Department of Defense, Politics | , , , , , , , , | 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