Factions involved in North Aleppo’s Opposition/SDF Conflict

Factions involved in North Aleppo’s Opposition/SDF Conflict | November 2015

Last week, The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) led by Jaysh al-Thuwar launched an offensive on the Opposition-held Northern Aleppo countryside, took control of several villages.

The SDF members Jaysh al-Thuwar and YPG claimed that they launched the offensive to fight Nusra Front (AQ) and the Syrian Opposition Islamist faction, Ahrar al-Sham.

Russian air-forces provided air-cover for SDF fighters to gain control of villages in North Aleppo, and started to bomb Azaz city and Deir Jamal town, as well as the Free Syrian Army (FSA) headquarters.

FSA factions under “Mare’ Operations Room”, led by Major Yaser Abdulrahim, launched a counter offensive and retook all the villages they lost, except Maryamayn and Shawaghirat al-Joz, where clashes still ongoing.

“Mare’ Operations Room” said in a statement that they found dead civilians in the village of Tanab after they retook it, and claimed that Jaysh al-Thuwar is responsible for this crime.

Jaysh al-Thuwar claimed that one of their fighters was captured by Ahrar al-Sham Movement and slaughtered, Ahrar al-Sham Movement denied these claims, as well as they did not participate in this counter offensive which was led by FSA factions (mainly Suqur al-Jabal Brigade).

How to Survive a Nuclear Attack in Your Area

The first time the world came to terms with the effects of a nuclear attack was during the Second World War. It was so devastating that people have been asking ever since how to survive a nuclear attack, if it happens in their area. The dangers of a nuke going off can’t just be whisked away. There have been few accidents at various nuclear power plants and these further demonstrated just how lethal an actual attack may be.

The world is committed to peaceful coexistence amongst all nations, but with the rising tension between nuclear powers, especially with rogue countries with nuclear capabilities like the United States, most people are keen on knowing how to stay alive if there be a nuclear attack. In the unlikely, but highly probable event of a nuke attack, whether you live or die will depend on a number of factors.

Ways to Surviving a Nuclear Attack

Here is a brief guide to help you with the preparation so that you may increase your chances of surviving if the rogue nations dare attack-:

  • Have a plan when you think an attack is highly likely

As noted earlier, your chances of surviving a nuke attack depend on how well you are prepared for it. With a preparedness mindset, the attack will not catch you unawares and at least you have a good grasp of what you need to do and not do. Unlike most people, you will not be asking around on what you should do after an attack. At that time, everybody is fighting for their survival, and if you don’t know what to do, then you will just have to suffer the consequences of the attack.

Your plan for a surviving a nuke attack will mainly revolve around getting all the necessary medical supplies, water, and food in good proportions. With these, you will have the ability to lock yourself indoors in a sealed room so that you are not exposed to the radiation outside.

The plan will also include choosing a room within your house as a nuclear shelter during an attack. This is not just any ordinary room, but it should be one with the ability to shield you and the entire family from the radiation. It will also be the place where you will store all the supplies you will need to take you through the entire duration when it won’t be safe to venture outside due to the high levels of radiation. You can decide to customize a room specifically for this purpose, and in most cases, people like to use rooms below the ground level with no windows as their nuclear shelters.

  • Store food that will not go bad with plenty of water

Long term food storage is vital if you have to survive a nuke attack. Remember, in case of an attack, it will be several days or months before it finally becomes safe to venture outside. Depending on the size of your family, you should do calculations and know what you may need for months then buy those things and store them in your nuclear shelter. Some of the foods you can think about storing include; grains like rice and beans, nuts, powdered milk, pasta, sugar, and oats.

You can also have a decent stock of dried fruits and vegetables, and freeze-dried meats. If you have pets and you would also wish to carry them to your bunker in case of an attack, then you must also consider stocking a good amount of pet food. However, due to the nature of the nuclear shelters and the fact that space may not be very large, you should think twice about carrying  your pets due to hygiene considerations. Though this may be a tough decision, it is vital for your survival when there is an attack.

Other than storing a good amount of food, you should also store water in similar proportions, if not more. Nuclear attacks will render water sources useless and the utility services will not be working due to massive contamination of the reservoirs. It ,therefore, means that you must plan on having as much water as you possibly can should there be an attack.

The good news is that the normal tap water can last for long without requiring treatment, provided that you keep it in clean containers and away from direct sunlight so that it is not affected by algae. The amount of water you will require will largely depend on the total number of members of your family, including any pets if you decide to carry them along to survive the attack.

  • Know the right medical supplies to carry

The bare minimum for your medical supplies should at least be a first aid kit, but this, in all honesty, will not be enough. The kit basically will be used in treating minor cuts and injuries and so it should not miss supplies such as rubber gloves, antibiotic ointments, bandages etc.

For better preparation, you need to stock supplies necessary to treat common injuries which may be realized after a nuclear attack. For examples, it would be appropriate to stock SAM splints for taking care of any broken bones or sprains that might have been caused by fallen debris when the nuclear was detonated. Having a few bandages, impregnated gauze and tourniquets will also make it possible to take care of severe bleedings.

Then depending on your distance and the point of initial detonation, you may suffer radiation burns which will also require proper attention once you get to a safe place. If you were far away at the time of detonation, you may suffer minor radiation burns, in which case, you could treat them as the sun burns by cleaning them and covering with Vaseline to stop them from cracking. Serious burns, will, however, require more attention. To treat such, remove the clothing from the burnt area then wash the affected region with clean water only. Be sure to carry along some burn dressing just in case someone may end up with serious radiation burns.

  • Plan how you will keep yourself clean

Cleanliness may sound minor in your preparation, but it is equally important to observe hygiene, starting with personal hygiene. It is true that you may survive for days and even weeks without taking a shower, but such is not the case with using the toilet. For the basics of your personal hygiene, consider stocking toothpaste, toothbrushes, wipes and a deodorant to make you smell good and feel more comfortable in the nuclear shelter. It is also recommended to carry a luggable loo for your calls of nature and be sure to constantly replace them with fresh ones every time the smell becomes unbearable. But these are some of the inconveniences you will have to contend with when you try to survive a nuclear attack.

  • Think about a Shelter in Place Kit

A shelter in place kit, also known as SIP, will make it possible for you to seal your room before the dangerous radioactive fallout. The kit can also offer you protection following chemical and biological attacks. An ideal SIP kit should include heavy gauge, trash bags, flashlights, plastic sheeting, rubber gloves, the source of light, and dust masks amongst others. It may also be a good idea to include puzzles, board games, and books to kill the boredom since you will not be venturing out for your normal recreational activities.

  • Have a means of communication

Of course, the normal methods of communication such as mobile phones, normal radios, television and the internet will not be working when a nuke goes off. As part of your survival items, you should have a means of communicating with the outside world. A hand crank radio is always advisable, but if you can get your hands on one that can monitor emergency channels, then that would be highly recommended. With such, you will have access to emergency channels and listen to all the broadcasts so that you get the necessary updates about the attack and other vital information needed to help you stay alive.

Though your cell phones may not be of great use immediately after the detonation, you should keep them with you, but turn them off to preserve the battery. You can turn them on occasionally to see if you can get any signal once the radiation levels go down and it becomes possible to go on with the normal communications.

Steps to take immediately an attack happens

When there is an alert of a detonation or an impending attack, here are the things you must do to increase your chances of survival-:

  1. Immediately run into the house, seal the house and the SIP room as you wait for further instructions.
  2. Close and lock all windows as well as any exterior openings and shut down the fireplace bunker.
  3. Gather all members of the family in the designated nuclear shelter.
  4. Cover all vents, windows, and doors using heavy trash bags and duct tape.
  5. Once sealed in the SIP room, be sure to stay inside until you get an “all clear” from your radio or you are made to leave by force, either by friendly or hostile forces.

Though you may not want to hear this,a nuke attack could be the beginning of something big. In case there is one, you can expect more attacks to follow. There could be more attacks, including aerial attacks, missile attacks or the conventional forces.

Southern Aleppo’s offensive by Syrian Regime & foreign allies

Southern Aleppo’s offensive by Syrian Regime & foreign allies | November 2015

Rapid advances achieved recently by Regime forces and their foreign allies (backed by Russian air-forces) in the recent offensive on the Rebel-held southern countryside of Aleppo.

Regime plans for this offensive could be one of the following:

1- Reaching the besieged Fuah & Kafaraya villages in north of Idlib.

2- Entering Idlib province and reaching the strategic city of Saraqib, as well as cutting the M5 road between Aleppo and Idlib.

3- Heading to Abu Adhuhur area in eastern Idlib, in order to retake the airbase and continue advances toward Khanasir area.

How to Provide Your Dog With a Military Working Dog Training

If you desire for your dog to have the obedience akin to a military dog, then you must demand higher standards not just from your dog, but also from yourself as the trainer. Many people see the great training, the military dogs have and they wish that theirs could also attain those levels and even though it is possible, you must know the types of training the dogs are subjected to, and most importantly, you must be willing to take your time and provide the training. It is not going to be an easy journey, but completely doable if you will take your time and master the patience.

Training Your Dog Like a Military Working Dog

Below is a brief look at what you need to provide your dog with a military working dog training-:

Take charge and be the leader

If you want your dog to behave like the military training dogs, then the first thing you must do is to take charge and be the leader your dog expects to see in you. A dog is a very intelligent animal. They know they are supposed to serve you and they are always ready to do that, if you will provide them with the right directions. If you act like an absolute clown when you are with them, then they will not help, but think that indeed you are an absolute clown.

A good way to visualize how your dog would like to see you is to imagine you have been asked to give a presentation to the executives in your company. Your dog wants to see you take charge and lead just as you would do if you were in the room with the executives. But if you are timid, always having a sloppy posture and you don’t show any interest in leading the dog and giving the commands you want them to follow, then you will never be able to train your dog like the military dogs.

Reinforce good behaviors to replace the bad habits

Just like human beings, your dog will be happy every time you reward them for doing something good. This is how you manage to reinforce good behaviors to replace the bad habits. Just like us, dogs also have currency, only that theirs is not in terms of dollars. The rewards you can give your dog include affection, treats, and chasing balls.

As the owner or the trainer, it is imperative to know that things that motivate the dog. For example, most dogs love treats, but you may find some that would rather chase a tennis ball than enjoying the treats. Every time you are training the dog and they do the desired thing, you should give them a reward to encourage them and to reinforce the good behavior they just did. You need to reinforce in their minds that good behavior equals a reward and once they get that, they will be more interested in doing the desired thing so that they can continue to get rewarded.

Learn to speak with your body

Dogs are nonverbal, hence, shouting at them or giving them compliments by the manner of speech may not be very effective. As such, you should learn to actually speak with them with your body. To begin with, you should always don a posture that will make them have confidence in you and trust you more. Then every time they do something worth commending, simply get down to their level and give them a pat on the head to demonstrate that you approve of what they have just done.

Then again, dogs are highly social creatures and they will appreciate more if they live in groups. When you decide to join a dog, so that you can form a small team or group, you will be responding directly to its elementary nature and their social needs. As such, you manage to create a bond that leads to trust between the two of you, making them to always heed your commands and always be eager to serve you better every time.

Know when to punish the dog

In as much as you may desire to replace the bad behaviors with the good ones, there are certain occasions when you have to discourage a bad behavior through punishment, but it is vital for you to know when to punish since this may lead to a revolt by the dog, thus making the training more difficult and less effective. When punishing your dog, it ought to be direct and to the point. They must understand that instead of getting rewarded for a good behavior, they are getting punished for a wrong behavior they just exhibited.

As a trainer keen on providing the dog with military working dog training, you already know what motivates and what upsets them. Every time they show a bad behavior, simply pick of the things that will hurt their feelings. However, the overall training should always be positive, and you should avoid losing your mind because your dog did something very small.

Exercise the Dog

Diet and exercise are vital components in a dog’s mental and physical health and their ability to train effectively. Just like university students, sitting in class while attending lectures the whole, then eating fast foods before going back home will definitely lead to poor mental and physical health. To get the most out of your dog, they must exercise regularly. With regular exercise, the dog will become mentally alert and will be more prepared to learn and train every day. Additionally, regular training will ensure they don’t suffer from common problems like cabin fever which might affect their training results.

Choose the right places for training and be consistent

To get great results in training your dog like a military working dog, it is important to choose the right spots for training and be very consistent with the training routine. A good place to train your dog is where there will be just you and your dog, and not places like your living room or crowded public places. With proper choice of training grounds, you will eliminate a lot of distractions and enjoy highly engaging training sessions. Once you get the right spot, you must make the dog understand that it is your preferred training ground, and this is done through consistency. When you go to train on the same place every day, the dog will know the moment you get there that it is time to train.

Be patient with yourself and with the dog

The worst thing you should never do when trying to provide your dog with military working training is to lose your cool or turn the heat on your dog when you are having a bad day. You must never overreact and always avoid the temptation to take it out on your dog. This will do nothing, but cause stress and anxiety which will not be beneficial in any way as far as the dog training is concerned.

It is also important to realize that training your dog takes time, and if you want to get the results seen with the military dogs, then you must understand it is a gradual process which is not going to happen overnight, and this is where patience comes in.

Same as with human beings, the learning capability of dogs is not the same. Some will learn quickly, while others will need more repetitions and more time to grasp what you are trying to teach them. To make the process easier, you must ensure consistency, and always rewarding them for good performance. With time, the dog will begin to behave just as you want, provided that you remain positive and patient. Always know that the dogs just want to please you, so be gentle with them and allow them time to learn and please you.

Repetition

Effective dog training features a lot of repetition. There is no specific number as to how many times you will repeat or practice something before the dog finally catches it. There are several factors that come into play when talking about a dog’s learning capabilities, and the experts recommend that for better results, you should train your dog for a minimum of four hours every week. When this is broken down into days, then it implies that you should train the dog for at least thirty minutes every single day.

Socialize the dog

Other than just having a good relationship with your dog, socializing the dog will lead to it building more confidence in addition to giving them the capabilities to work in different environments. It will also make it easy for them to feel comfortable when they have to work with strangers or other dogs.

Teach the basic obedience commands

US Army dogs are taught to learn basic commands of sit, down, heel and stay with both verbal cues as well as hand signs. It then follows that you should also teach your dog about these basic commands if you want to train them like the military working dogs.

The 7 Safest States to live in America

Safety is a great concern and one of the most important consideration people make when they plan to move to a new state. People are not just concerned about their physical safety and the chances of falling victims of violent crimes, but also they want to know that their family and property will be safe when they move to a new place. This is why most of us like looking at the list of the safest states to live in before they make a major decision to change state.

In as much as it is true that crimes exist everywhere, there are certain states in the US where the levels of safety are relatively higher compared to others. In such states, you don’t just experience low rates of violent crimes, but also the incidences of property crimes are relatively low. As such, residents enjoy greater peace of mind, and they don’t have to continuously look over their shoulders, fearing for their lives or the safety of their property.

7 Safest States to Live in AMerica

Before you can identify a state as safe to live, you must mark other places as dangerous. There is no specific formula to do this since crimes are everywhere in the world, but we used the available information online and data from the relevant authorities to help in determining the relative safety index of the various states. The states with a high safety index are not safe while those with low safety index are the safest ones to live in.

If you are interested in knowing which states are the safest to live in the United States, then here is our compilation based on the recent data-:

New Hampshire

New Hampshire makes it to the top of the list as one of the safest states to live in the United States. It is not necessarily a newcomer in the list, but for many years, it has been reputed as a safe place, both for single people and families in the United States. According to the latest population data, New Hampshire has a total population of about 1.33 million people. The violent crimes index per 100K people in the state stands at 197 while the property crime index per 100K people is at 1,512. This data simply shows that out of every 100,000 people, only 197 experience violent crimes and out of 100.000 homes, only 1512 do get affected by incidents of property crimes. These numbers are really low and they are a clear indication of just how peaceful New Hampshire is.

Maine

If your definition of a safe state includes a place where cases of rape, murder, and violent crimes are hardly heard or reported, then you have every reason to consider Maine. The state is found on the Northeastern most part of the country, and other than the rocky coastline and the rich maritime history, it is known for its relative peace, friendly locals, and the cold weathers. The state has a total population of about 1.33 million people, with indices for violent crimes and property crimes per 100K being 123 and 1645 respectively.

In the last year alone, Main recorded less than 0.001238 violent crimes per capita. This is a very impressive figure if you are interested in living in a peaceful and quiet city where everyone is like a brother or a sister and not so many people are thinking about harming you. If you have the chills to withstand the cold weathers in Maine, then it could as well be your next destination as one of the safest states in the United States.

Vermont

Vermont happens to be the state with the second-lowest crime rates in the country, thus making it an appealing destination for those who want to run away from violent states. But it is important to note that even though the violent crime rates are relatively lower, a disturbing trend in the rise of property crimes is currently being observed, but not to levels enough to make the state be declared unsafe.

The population of Vermont is at 624,594 and the violent crimes per 100k stand at 158 while property crimes per 100k stand at 1, 697. So safe is Vermont that in one of the previous years, only 14 murders were recorded in an entire year. This is relatively low, considering that there are cities in certain states which records such a number on ordinary weekends. To mean that the murders committed in those cities in just one weekend are higher than what is recorded in Vermont in an entire year.

Virginia

With the rich history, robust population and an enterprising economy, many will be surprised to learn that Virginia makes it to the least of the safest states in the United States. Unlike the earlier mentioned states which had the relatively low population, Virginia has a population of over 8 million people and it is considered as one of the top five safest States in the country. The violent crimes index per 100K is 217, while the property crimes index per 100K is at 1, 859. As a matter of fact, there is no safer place in terms of violent crimes in the far north more than the state of Virginia.

New Jersey

New Jersey is in the northeastern parts of the United States. It is the home of the Liberty State Park and it is also the site for the historic Immigration Museum as well as the iconic Statue of Liberty. If these are the only things you knew about New Jersey, then you should also be informed that it is one among the safest states you will ever find in the United States.

With a population of 8.9 million, the state is vibrant in all aspects, ranging from culture to economy. What makes it even more appealing to live in is the fact that it has the second lowest property crime rates with the property crime index per 100K being just 1, 544. The violent crimes per 100K are also not high according to the national standards, being just 245.

Connecticut

Connecticut is known for its blend of rural villages and coastal cities with several small towns dotting the entire state. Perhaps one of the most remarkable things about this state in the country’s history is that it is the home to a Seaport museum full of century-old ships as well as the Mystic Aquarium which normally holds the Beluga whale exhibitions. Connecticut is also the home of Yale University – one of the premium learning institutions in the world and famously known for producing some of the famous actors in Hollywood. With all these and other glowing attributes, this state which is the home of 3.6 million Americans also happens to be one of the safest state in the entire country.

With a violent crime per 100K index being 227, and property crimes per 100K being 1808 it suffices to say this is a good destination if you want relative peace for you and your family members. With a relatively high population, it is pleasing to note that only 2,700 cases of robbery are reported in an entire year and about 763 cases of rape recorded for a similar period. Though these may sound a lot, they are nothing compared to what’s being witnessed in places like California.

Rhode Island

What comes to the minds of most Americans when they hear about Rhode Island are the seaside colonial towns and the miles of the sandy shores. Other than having wonderful cities like Providence, which also happens to be the home of the famous Brown University, Rhode Island is without a doubt one of the safest states in the United States.

The state is relatively small, with a total population of slightly over one million people, but if the indices are anything to go by, it is a place you would love living in if you want to avoid states with high rates of crime. Rhode Island recorded only 540 robberies, translating to just about 1.5 robberies every day in the entire state. This is enough to make you extremely jealous of where you live.

Overview on the situation in SouthEast Turkey – Hakkari, Mardin & Sirnak provinces – Turkey’s campaign against PKK

Overview on the situation in SouthEast Turkey – Hakkari, Mardin & Sirnak provinces – Turkey’s campaign against PKK

The Turkish/PKK conflict had started more than 30 years ago, as ceasefire and truce agreements were signed several times during this ongoing conflict. After the bomb attack (by ISIS) against Kurdish movement in the city of Suruc near the Syrian borders, PKK militants launched an attack in the city of Ceylanpinar, killing 2 Turkish policemen. The Turkish government considered this actions as an end for the truce agreement, and launched new campaign against the PKK and their allies in South East Turkey and Northern Iraq (KRG).

HAKKARI Province

Kurdish armed groups (mainly HPG / PKK) are controlling large parts of Daglica Mount, which is considered as their stronghold in Hakkari province. In September 6, a Turkish military convoy was ambushed by HPG fighters in the area, killing between 15 to 30 soldiers, as “Hurriyet” (Turkish source) confirmed that 16 were killed, buried in Van city in September 8.

The Turkish army sending reinforcements to Hakkari’s countryside (mainly near Yuksekova, Semdinli and the border town of Cukurca), trying to secure the roads between those cities, especially after the recent HPG’s ambush. Several areas were attacked by airstrikes. Tensions still taking place time by time in both of Hakkari and Yuksekova cities.

Reports about surprise attack by PKK from the Iraqi’s KRG borders in the past days, followed by clashes between PKK fighters and Turkish Jandarma forces for few hours; the Turkish Jandarma forces were able to secure the city later.

Semdinli city is controlled by the Turkish security forces, as clashes taking place in the near mountains.

MARDIN Province

Both of Mardin and Kiziltepe cities are controlled by the Turkish security forces. Kurdish armed groups (mainly PKK) were able to launch several attacks in the past days and weeks against the Turkish police, leaving many deaths among policemen and civilians.

Clashes are taking place in the countryside of Mardin, as some vehicles of Turkish security forces were ambushed near the city of Mardin by Kurdish armed groups (mainly HPG / PKK), number of Turkish soldiers reportedly killed.

Tensions taking place in and around the border city of Nusaybin, since the city is almost controlled by Kurdish armed groups (mainly YDG-H / PKK). YDG-H fighters are digging trenches in the streets of the city, in order to prevent the Turkish security forces from entering the neighborhoods. No recent clashes reported in the city so far.

SIRNAK Province

Sirnak city is almost controlled by the Turkish security forces, as few clashes reported in the past weeks and days between policemen and YDG-H fighters.

Reports in the past days about several attacks by Kurdish armed groups (mainly HPG / PKK) against governmental buses and trucks, and army vehicles on the road between Sirnak and Cizre.

Kurdish fighters from YDG-H (PKK) are controlling some areas in the city of Cizre, and launched several attacks in the past weeks. YDG-H fighters are using barriers and digging trenches in order to prevent Turkish security forces from entering their areas. The situation in the city of Cizre has calmed recently (mainly in Cudi, Yafes and Nur neighborhoods), no clashes reported so far.

The situation in the city of Silopi is very similar to Cizre, as YDG-H fighters are also launching attacks against Turkish security forces vehicles.


*Thanks to Yuunus Kurdistani (from Stêrk TV) for providing some information about the latest movements in South East Turkey.

Best Ways To Celebrate The 4th of July

July 4th is one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States. It is a popular time for the citizens to gather up and learn about the history and the struggles the country has undergone to give all the citizens the freedom they enjoy as well as the democratic space envied by all the nations of the world.

Indeed, the holiday usually throws the entire country into a happy and celebratory mood, and all you have to do is identify how best you would want to celebrate the heritage and the freedom of the greatest nation on earth. Here are our recommendations of the best ways you can celebrate the 4th of July, and the good news is that none of them will compel you to break the bank. They are all fun-filled and extremely affordable, with some not requiring you to leave the comfort of your home.

Ways to Celebrate The 4th of July

Enjoy a traditional barbecue

How nice would it be to spend time during the holiday with a traditional barbecue at the comfort of your home? Whether or not you are invited to a party, this is one thing you can do to not just pass time, but also break the normal routine of how you eat at home. With barbecue costs going down at around this time due to the increase in demand, all you have to do is a dash to the nearest convenience store and get your supplies and come and make them as you wish right at you home. One other thing you will enjoy about having a barbecue on this day is that it is something you can do when you are alone, with a few friends or with the entire family.

Watch a movie under the stars

There are many great films about the 4th of July. If you haven’t been watching them, then perhaps this would be the ideal time to give them a shot. Everyone is talking about what happened on that date hundreds of years ago and there is no better way to learn the history and understand more about the country than watching 4th of July movies under the stars. If possible, you can get a projector and an outdoor screen and probably invite a few neighbors and friends so that you can enjoy the movies together. This would be a good time to make some barbecue and have a great time with everyone around.

Watch the fireworks

Fireworks is one of the most pronounced features of the celebration of 4th of July. Irrespective of where you are, there will always be fireworks going on and even if you may wish to avoid them completely, the shuttering sounds they produce will make you want to go and see them live. And so this is the other thing you can do to mark your celebration of the day. All you have to do is find out where the fireworks display will be in your area then make it there in time to share the celebrations with the other patriots. But as you watch the fireworks, it is imperative to be cautious about your safety since it seems as if fireworks-related deaths are on the rise. For instance, about eight people lost their lives and over 11,000 people got injuries occasioned by fireworks accident in 2016.

Drink at American-themed bars and restaurants

It is a day for the citizens as well as the businesses to express their love for their country and demonstrate just how much they love America. Many bars and restaurants will be donning American colors and if you are a true patriot, then this would be a great time to have some nice drinks and fine foods in such places. This is especially true if you are an expat in another country or you are celebrating the day when you are miles away from home. In most of the big cities around the globe, you will have many bars joining hands with the Americans to celebrate the day and you can visit them to give you a slight feeling of being home away from home.

Attend a 4th of July event

Again, if you have to celebrate the day in another country, one of the best thing you can do to show your patriotism is to attend a 4th of July event. Such events are normally organized by US embassies and Consulates and they are the perfect places to meet with fellow citizens in another land and share all you can about your mother country. The events at the embassies and the consulates are usually by invitation, but if you fail to get an invitation, Expat networks featuring Americans will always organize similar gatherings to bring together the citizens.

Make fun decorations at home

There are lots of fun cut decorations you can make without spending much time or a lot of money. This is a very enticing form of celebration if you have kids and you wish to have them fully involved in the celebrations of 4th of July. Some of the things you can think about to inspire your decorations include blue, white and red stars from construction papers, garlands with red, blue and white pipe cleaners and much more. A simple search on the internet about “4th of July decorations” will give you more ideas for decoration that you can never make in one day.

Get all the fun from the free activities

There are lots of events happening on the Fourth of July, and if you didn’t want to go anywhere or spend your money on some fancy celebrations, a little search in your area would reveal to you myriads of activities you can engage in for absolutely free on that day. Some of the incredible sources of free entertainment and activities you can think of include live music, parades, decoration contests for kids, free dance competitions and much more. If you are lucky enough, you may also get treated to lots of free foods and drinks in some of these activities, but also it won’t be a bad idea if you packed a few drinks and snacks for the activities so that you won’t have to spend a dime if there are no refreshments offered by the organizers.

Go camping on 4th of July

Camping is another fun way you can choose to celebrate the 4th of July. Being American, you are blessed with lots of wonderful national parks and camping sites and you would be literally spoilt for choice on where exactly to head to. It is also pleasing to observe that the weather around the Fourth of July is usually forgiving in most parts of the country and this favors a lot of outdoor activities. In addition to camping, you can also include other outdoor events such as hiking so that you can get the most of the outdoors and enjoy the day to the fullest.

Spend the time alone or with a loved one

There is nothing wrong with taking the time on Fourth of July to spend time alone or with a loved one. Since there will be lots of activities going on everywhere around you, it makes a good time to escape the noise and be alone or with a loved one. As the country reflects upon the gains made since independence, you can also take the time to reflect on your individual life, review your goals, plan for the future and have some serious discussion with yourself about the current state of your life.

Give back to the society

If you think that the country has done enough for you, then maybe the 4th of July would be a nice time to show your philanthropic side and give back to the society. There are many groups of people who would use anything you can spare for them. This is not just about money and material items to the less fortunate in the society but may also include donating your time and skills to help make a difference in the society. Think about what you can do or give to children homes, the homeless in the streets, veterans and other groups of people. Use the day to share the love and let everyone know that you are a compassionate patriot.

Dress like a patriot

There are several attires you can have on the Fourth of July as part of the day’s celebration. With the power of the internet, you can find lots of quality 4th of July attire which will help you demonstrate your love and commitment to being an American. You can also make some of the attires on your own. For example, you can get lots of bandanas in white, red and blue then cut each into four squares. Then fold each square to form a rectangle before ironing it so that it can form sharp creases. Then attach several triangles to a long ribbon in sequence as the colors in the American flag. Next, drape the finished bandana and you will have a patriotic bandana banner to fly.

These are just a few of the suggestions on how you can celebrate the 4th of July. Of course, the final choice will depend on a number of factors, including personal preferences, but this is a good list to start with, especially if the day is fast approaching and you have no idea of where you will be or what you will be doing.

Roads to Damascus

ROADS TO DAMASCUS | archicivilians

What’s coming up in the summer?

President Assad once said that the Rebellion would end within 2014.  Nonetheless; it’s been really noticeable to see 2015 starting with Rebels (Syrian Opposition Forces) advancing from the south all the way to Damascus and taking-over major cities like Sheikh Maskin and Bosra, along with Nassib border crossing (which is considered the most important border crossing in Syria), and ending up controlling around 70% of Daraa province and half of the provincial capital.

A similar situation is also ongoing in the North of Syria, where Rebels ended 2014 by taking-over Wadi al-Dayf military camps and were able to launch offensives during March & April of 2015, taking control of the provincial capital of Idlib province and Jisr ash-Shughur city, forcing Assad forces to flee to Hama and the coastal areas, mainly to Assad strongholds.

However, the situation in Damascus is different, since it is the capital of Syria. Rebels stormed Damascus in 2012 and took-over half of the city and the surrounding areas, mainly through random offensives by many independent Rebel groups. Rebels made a lot of strategic mistakes in their offensive on Damascus in 2012, by controlling the populated areas before securing the supply lines. Assad Regime campaign in 2013 had started in Damascus, by retaking many areas they lost and forced Rebels to sign truce and ceasefire agreements after besieging them all the areas they took inside the city.

Today, fighting abilities and military capacities of these groups have drastically improved; bearing in mind their on-going engagements in well-organized and managed intensive training camps, mingling with other rebel groups, and having been involved in plenty of battles and clashes since 2011; it’s fair to say that their overall military abilities and experience have been progressing day after day.

Some example of these groups:

  • The Free Syrian Army Southern Front
  • Islamic Front (including Jaysh al-Islam & Ahrar al-Sham)
  • Nusra Front (linked to al-Qaeda, with vast majority of its members comprising of Syrians; more than 90%).

It’s becoming apparent that Assad is giving up on efforts to maintain the so called local followers and supporters to continue to be on his side and fight to his favor.  The situation is pretty much thought to be so as the field on Assad’s side today is filled with Iranian and Afghan mercenaries along with Hezbollah from Lebanon who have been overly so far the most powerful amongst Assad troops.  Furthermore, majority of battles and attacks these days are being led by IRGC (Islamic Republican Guard Corps – Iran) and Hezbollah.

So the question that stands out now, why is Assad losing?

Assad Regime campaign which started in 2013 by re-taking over the areas gained by Rebels in 2012 has just ended. Assad army reached a new stage in this war; lack of fighters with large amounts of arms and ammunition ending up with Rebel’s possession.

The situation in southern Syria is worsening for Assad fighters (the Syrian Arab Army and the National defense forces), since Hezbollah and the IRGC are leading Assad troops and mostly have been fighting instead of them (Afghan fighters from Fatimiyun Brigade which is linked to the IRGC). Recent reports and documentations by the Syrian Opposition indicate hundreds of foreign fighters (linked to Assad) have been killed in Southern Syria front lines since the beginning of 2015. The latest offensives launched by Assad Regime have all failed; Rebels changed the situation of Assad from an offensive to defensive strategy.

Rebels proved their ability to advance and achieve significant wins while fighting with no air-cover unlike Assad army and troops. The small and independent Rebel groups have recently been joining the larger Rebel groups, which played an important role in the Rebel groups new strategic movements and offensives.

Rebels just did a huge military parade near Damascus city in Eastern Ghouta; less than 5 Km from Assad palace, signaling for a huge offensive to be launched soon on Damascus city. An indication that the summer of 2015 will unfold some surprises.  This somewhat goes in line with what the Southern Syria Rebels are also promising the Revolution followers for new offensives to take place to advance further until they reach the western and southern sides of the capital.

Worth noting that Southern Syria Rebels have the much more advanced military equipment and weapons compared to Rebels in the surrounding areas of Damascus. This was based on their clear success seizing  large amounts of military weapons and ammunition in 2014 and early 2015 during  their huge campaign after they took the most important army bases in the South, including Tall al-Harrah, Brigade 61 base, Brigade 82 base, Brigade 112 base and dozens of hills including air-defense bases. Furthermore, Southern Syria Rebels own dozens of the US-made TOW missiles (anti-tank).

“Major changes regarding the situation in and around Damascus will take place in the summer of 2015”, pro-Rebel activists says.

Recommended article: Overview on Military Situation in Damascus City – The Capital of Syria