AuthorTopic: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball  (Read 29860 times)

Offline Palloy

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Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« on: September 17, 2016, 06:38:57 PM »
https://www.rt.com/news/359678-us-strikes-syrian-army/
US-led coalition aircraft strike Syrian army positions, kill 62 soldiers – military
17 Sep, 2016

US-led coalition jets have bombed Syrian government forces’ positions near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, killing 62 troops and "paving the way" for Islamic State militants, the Syrian Army General Command told the state television.

The bombing took place on al-Tharda Mountain in the region of Deir ez-Zor and caused casualties and destruction on the ground, Syria’s official SANA news agency reported on Saturday.

Sixty-two Syrian soldiers were killed and over 100 injured in the airstrike by the US-led coalition, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said, citing information received from the Syrian General Command.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the aircraft which carried out the bombings had entered Syrian airspace from the territory of Iraq.

Four strikes against Syrian positions was performed by two F-16 jet fighters and two A-10 support aircraft, it added.

“If the airstrike was caused by the wrong coordinates of targets than it’s a direct consequence of the stubborn unwillingness of the American side to coordinate with Russia in its actions against terrorist groups in Syria,” Konashenkov stressed.

The Defense Ministry also confirmed a report by SANA that an Islamic State offensive began right after Syrian Army positions were hit from the air.

"Immediately after the airstrike by coalition planes, Islamic State militants launched their offensive. Fierce fighting with the terrorists is currently underway in the area of the airport where for a long a time humanitarian aid for civilians was parachuted,” Konashenkov said.

The Syrian General Command has called the bombing a “serious and blatant aggression” against Syrian forces, and said it was "conclusive evidence" that the US and its allies support IS militants.

According to a news release of the US Department of Defense, the coalition’s aviation performed combat missions in Deir ez-Zor on Saturday.

“We are aware of the reports and checking with Centcom and CJTF (Combined Joint Task Force),” the Pentagon told RT.

The US Central Command later has issued a statement, saying that it had no intention of targeting Syrian government forces near Deir ez-Zor.

“Syria is a complex situation with various military forces and militias in close proximity, but [the] coalition would not intentionally strike a known Syrian military unit,” the statement read.

CENTCOM promised that the strike and circumstances surrounding it will be reviewed “to see if any lesson can be learned.”

An unnamed US military official told Reuters that he was "pretty sure" that the targets hit in US-led coalition air strike on Saturday had been Syrian forces.

According to the official, the bombings in Deir ez-Zor were carried out using US intelligence, which was being gathered for days.

The US attack stopped as soon as Russia notified the American side that they had been hitting the Syrian military, he added.

Earlier on Saturday, Russia accused the US of being reluctant to take measures to force rebels under its control to fall in line with the terms of the Syrian ceasefire.

Numerous Russian appeals to the American side remain unanswered, which “raises doubts over the US’s ability to influence opposition groups under their control and their willingness to further ensure the implementation of the Geneva agreements,” senior Russian General Staff official, Viktor Poznikhir, said.

Poznikhir also said that the truce is being used by the militants to regroup, resupply and prepare an offensive against government troops.

Last week, Moscow and Washington agreed to influence the Syrian government and the so-called moderate rebel forces respectively in order to establish a ceasefire in the country.

Since then, Russia has repeatedly complained that the US is failing to keep its part of the bargain. The US, on its part, has blamed Russia for not pressuring Damascus enough to facilitate humanitarian access to Syria.

Neither a mistaken nor a deliberate strike can be ruled out, Kamal Alam from the Royal United Service Institute, told RT when asked to comment on the incident.

There’s a possibility “that it’s a genuine mistake and the Americans in going after IS have gone after the Syrian military… because Dier ez-Zor city is under the Syrain Arab Army, but the rest of the districts are all under IS,” he said.

But it’s “a lot more dangerous” if the US had been “attacking the Syrian military to make the moderates happy,” Alam stressed, recalling recent reports of militants chasing the American Special Forces, which Washington interpreted as a signed of diminishing support from the Syrian opposition."
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Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2016, 06:58:18 PM »
Russia calls a UNSC meeting and virtually accuses the US of trying to sabotage the Joint Implementation Group (JIG) before its start on Monday.  Very  angry.

https://www.rt.com/news/359691-us-strike-syria-unsc-churkin/
Timing & other aspects of US strike on Syrian army suggest intentional provocation – Churkin
18 Sep, 2016

The US’ sudden attempt to “help” the Syrian army fighting ISIS in the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, which resulted in a strike that killed and injured dozens of soldiers, does not look like an honest mistake, Russia’s UN envoy told journalists at the UNSC meeting.

It is highly suspicious that the United States chose to conduct this particular air strike at this time,” Russia’s ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.

Churkin questioned why the US suddenly chose to “help” the Syrian army defend Deir ez-Zor after all these years, recalling how American forces just observed terrorists’ movements and did “nothing when ISIS advanced on Palmyra.”

It was quite significant and not accidental that it happened just two days before the Russian-American arrangements were supposed to come into full force,” Churkin added.

Churkin also questioned why the US decided to classify and not share with the public or even members of the Security Council the text of the US-Russia deal reached in Geneva, before reading out two passages from the document.

The preamble of the document signed by both nations on September 9 read that the US and Russia are prepared to undertake “joint efforts” to stabilize the situation in Syria with special emphasis on the Aleppo region,and would separate moderate opposition forces from those of Al-Nusra. The second passage, presented by Churkin, read that the purpose of the Joint Implementation Group (JIG) is to “enable expanded coordination” between the US and Russia to work together to defeat Jabhat Al-Nusra and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and support the political transition process.

“The beginning of work of the Joint Implementation Group was supposed to be September 19. So if the US wanted to conduct an effective strike on Al-Nusra or ISIS, in Deir ez-Zor or anywhere else, they could wait two more days and coordinate with our military and be sure that they are striking the right people.”

“Instead they chose to conduct this reckless operation,” Churkin said.

He also noted that the US has been voicing its concern over the humanitarian situation in Syria, claiming that because of it, “there are no conditions to start implementing the arrangements of the Joint Implementation Group.” But the Syrian government cleared all obstacles for the humanitarian aid it be delivered, leaving the US with “no serious ground” to halt or postpone the start date of the JIG’s work.

“So it may well be, one has to conclude, that the airstrike has been conducted in order to distrust the operation of the Joint Implementation Group and actually not to allow it to be set in motion,” Churkin said. “It may well be that the United States is trying to hide the fact that they are actually not in control of the situation, that they allowed the situation to get out of control.”

Vitaly Churkin spoke to journalists after briefly leaving the closed-door UN Security Council meeting, which was convened by Moscow to give Washington a chance to offer an explanation for the actions of its military.

However, instead of discussing the issue, US ambassador Samantha Power immediately left the room to address the press and accuse Russia of hypocrisy.

The US envoy to the UN spent some 30 seconds expressing “regret” over the unfortunate coalition airstrike that resulted in the loss of the lives of Syrian soldiers, and insisting that even if the ongoing investigation proves the US military is indeed to blame, it had never been their “intention” to strike Syrian military.

After that, Power spent the next 15 minutes slamming Moscow’s “uniquely hypocritical and cynical” attempt to make Washington explain itself at an urgent UNSC meeting.

“Why are we having this meeting tonight? It is a diversion from what is happening on the ground. If you don't like what is happening on the ground then you distract. It is a magician's trick… we encourage the Russian Federation to have emergency meetings with the Assad regime and deliver them to this deal,” said Samantha Power.

"What Russia is alleging tonight is that somehow the United States is undermining the fighting against ISIL. The Russian spokesperson even said that the United States might be complicit in this attack … this is not a game," she added, before going into details of how Assad government is to blame for the dire situation in Syria.
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Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2016, 05:23:46 AM »
http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/09/18/us-desperately-pumps-humanitarian-smokescreen-failing-syria-ceasefire.html
US Desperately Pumps ‘Humanitarian’ Smokescreen for Failing Syria Ceasefire
Finian CUNNINGHAM
18.09.2016

Washington’s lie about seeking a genuine ceasefire in Syria is in danger of being exposed for the world to see. So, hilariously, a charade is being hurriedly orchestrated in order to hide this ignominy. As usual, the Syrian government is being scapegoated for the real cause of violence in the country. That real cause is Washington’s state-sponsored terrorist-fueled war for regime change.

After four days of continuing deadly breaches by US-backed «rebels» since the Kerry-Lavrov ceasefire deal was implemented last Monday, Washington and the dutiful Western mainstream media are preparing the inevitable excuses.

Rather than focusing on ongoing «rebel» violence in contravention of the truce, US Secretary of State John Kerry fingered the Syrian government for preventing humanitarian access to insurgent-held eastern Aleppo as the reason for why the ceasefire is in danger of collapsing.

Kerry accused the Syrian government of causing «unacceptable repeated delays» in delivery of humanitarian aid convoys to the northern city. Some 300,000 people are estimated to be stuck in dire conditions in the eastern side of Aleppo, which has become a key battleground in the five-year war.

Western media reports followed suit with Reuters reporting: «Syria ceasefire deal in balance as Aleppo aid plan stalls». Another publication, USA Today, made the more pointed claim: «The regime has broken its pledges on the distribution of life-saving supplies».

So, in Washington’s artful spin of events, it is the Syrian government of President Bashar al Assad which is reneging on the ceasefire arrangement by blocking food and medical supplies to starving civilians. This, of course, plays handily into the broader Western narrative that the Syrian «regime» is the ultimate villain of the piece. The vile Assad is mercilessly denying children food and water, goes the spin.

Based on that premise, Washington is giving notice that it will not follow through on its ceasefire commitment to join with Russian air forces for targeting terror groups like ISIS (Daesh) and al Nusra Front. Those anticipated «joint operations» between US and Russian aircraft were supposed to be the highlight of the ceasefire plan worked out last weekend in Geneva by Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

But that supposed «breakthrough» is now in doubt. McClatchy News reported at the end of the week: «US to Russia – Syria military cooperation not guaranteed».

US State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters four days into the truce: «If, by Monday we have continued to see reduced violence and no humanitarian access, there will be no Joint Implementation Center [with Russian military]».

Washington is mendaciously trying to pretend that there have been no breaches of the ceasefire and that the whole problem revolves around «no humanitarian access» being granted by the Syrian authorities. If the US does indeed backtrack from its stated prior commitment to cooperate with Russian forces for targeting terror groups then it is safe to assume that the entire ceasefire «deal» will be dead, even as a rhetorical concept.

Admittedly, the level of violence in Aleppo and across the country subsided when the US-Russian ceasefire pact came into effect on September 12. Russian and allied Syrian forces halted their campaign of air strikes. Opposition violence appeared to abate too. Nevertheless, the truce was reportedly violated multiple times by anti-government militias, not just in Aleppo, but in other locations, such as Latakia, Hama and Homs.

Furthermore, there was no apparent distinction between so-called US-backed moderate rebels and recognized terror groups in carrying out these violations. All insurgents groups were engaging in sporadic attacks – in contravention of the putative ceasefire.

Credible Russian military reports confirmed that Syrian army units had observed the truce and had begun demilitarizing a major access road into eastern Aleppo. Syrian troops are being replaced by Russian units to safeguard the route. However, it is the militants who are refusing to withdraw from the Castello Road area, which would provide the humanitarian aid convoys access to the city.

Indeed, insurgent factions openly declared that they would continue shelling and sniping in the Castello Road precisely in order to prevent the aid convoys arriving because they opposed the ceasefire accord even being implemented.

Russia has correctly criticized the US as using a «verbal smokescreen» to conceal why the ceasefire is failing. The point is that Washington has negligible control over its declared moderate rebels. In fact, there is no control because in practice there is no distinction between the myriad illegally armed insurgents.

Like the ceasefire called earlier this year in February, this latest one is breaking down because all the militants continue to breach any cessation. As Lt General Vladimir Savchenko, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, points out, the US-backed opposition is using the ceasefire simply as an opportunity to rearm and regroup.

And Washington’s policy is impotent about altering that. The CIA and Washington’s allies in Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey armed the anti-government insurgents, including the known terror groups. The regime-change conspirators created a veritable Frankenstein monster over which they now have little control even to the point of getting it to at least appear to be complying with a ceasefire for tactical reasons.

The latest ceasefire is floundering like the previous attempt because Washington’s assertions about «moderate rebels» dissociating from «terror» groups is total and utter humbug.

Risibly, as one could have predicted, John Kerry’s bombastic appeal last weekend for US-backed «rebels» to «separate» from the extremists so that American and Russian forces could then get on with the task of eliminating the terrorists has been subsequently shown to be the consummate delusion that it is.

Washington and its allies are being caught out spectacularly in their lies over the Syrian conflict. The stone-cold truth is that they have been sponsoring terrorist proxies for the criminal purpose of regime change.

So conspicuous and damning is Washington’s nefarious role in Syria’s conflict – which has resulted in 400,000 dead and millions turned into desperate refugees – that this crime has to be covered up at all costs. But covering it up is becoming futile because of the increasing glaring reality.

Syria’s ceasefire is flawed because Washington, the supposed co-architect of the truce along with Moscow, is not motivated by finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The conflict is all about regime change and deploying terrorist agents to achieve that. That is why the ceasefire is failing – yet again.

The unbearable truth about Washington and its criminal gang of state-sponsors of terrorism has to be concealed from public view. And that is why Washington and the dutiful Western media lie machine are cranking up the «explanation» for the ceasefire unravelling as being due to the fault of the Syrian «regime» and its Russian ally for not delivering on humanitarian commitments.

This American smokescreen has been pumped out for nearly six years in Syria. It is really galling to hear the likes of John Kerry and Barack Obama talk about «human suffering» and the need for humanitarian ceasefires.

The suffering and violence in Syria will stop when Washington is seen for the criminal regime that it is. That day is coming. The American smokescreen is dissipating with each passing day because of its absurd contradictions.

And the terrorists – state sponsors and proxies alike – are finally being exposed.
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Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2016, 11:04:49 PM »
So with nobody yet found responsible, and Syrians, Russians, US, UK, Australians and Danish flying and bombing that day, it is obvious that the Russians did it, and Kerry is outraged, whereupon the rebels were outraged, and the UN !  And yet they didn't immediately come out with the radar plots of the flight paths.

https://www.rt.com/news/359948-syria-aid-convoy-hit-aleppo/
US to ‘revise’ cooperation with Russia after UN-Red Crescent aid convoy attacked near Aleppo
20 Sep, 2016

With no party yet found responsible for the alleged airstrike on the humanitarian aid convoy west of Aleppo, which killed several Syrian Red Crescent volunteers, the US State Department was quick to vent its outrage, blaming Damascus and Moscow for the attack.

A joint UN and Syrian Red Crescent (SARC) 31-truck humanitarian convoy delivering aid was bombed in five alleged airstrikes while offloading supplies in the Syrian town of Urm al-Kubra. At least 18 vehicles were hit, according to the UN.

As result of the attack, the mission’s chief and several other workers suffered severe injuries, a witness told Reuters. The convoy was carrying humanitarian cargo to some 78,000 civilians stranded in the war-stricken town. 

While no party has claimed responsibility for the attack, pro-rebel groups rushed to blame the incident on government forces, claiming it was either a Syrian or a Russian warplane that carried out the strike.

In a statement issued by the US State Department, spokesman John Kirby said the US was “outraged” at the attack, stopping short of blaming any country in particular, but adding that “the destination of this convoy was known to the Syrian regime and the Russian Federation and yet these aid workers were killed in their attempt to provide relief to the Syrian people.”

“The United States will raise this issue directly with Russia. Given the egregious violation of the Cessation of Hostilities we will reassess the future prospects for cooperation with Russia,” Kirby said.

There have been conflicting reports on the number of casualties. According to Elhadj As Sy, secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 14 volunteers from a Syrian branch of Red Crescent (SARC) fell victim to the attack.

For its part, the United Nations was unable to confirm an exact death toll, saying that the attack resulted in “many” people killed.

UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O’Brien denounced the reported airstrike as a “callous attack” for which there “can be no explanation or excuse” as the convoy was “clearly marked as humanitarian” with the information on its notification being provided to “all parties of the conflict.”

“Initial reports indicate that many people have been killed or seriously injured, including SARC volunteers, as a result of these sickening attacks,” O’Brien said in a statement Monday, adding that apart from the warehouse a health clinic has been also damaged.

O’Brien called for launching an “immediate, impartial and independent” probe into the incident, which, if proved to be a deliberate attack, could amount to the “violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.”

The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has strongly condemned the attack on the convoy, which was “the outcome of a long process of permission and preparations to assist isolated civilians.”

“Our outrage at this attack is enormous,” de Mistura said in a statement emailed to Reuters by his spokesman in Geneva.

The attack comes as the militants from Jabhat-Al-Nusra have been pushing on the Syrian army positions in southwest Aleppo and residential areas on Monday, shelling them with tanks, missile systems and mortar fire. The large-scale offensive, targeting the Assad Academy in Aleppo, has inflicted damaged on the building and forced out the Russian Defense Ministry’s camera, monitoring the truce, out of operation.

Earlier, the Syrian government announced the end of the ceasefire, agreed upon by US and Russia in Geneva earlier this month, due to constant violations by the rebels who “did not adhere to any of the points of the agreement on a ceasefire.”

In the wake of the attack Washington and Moscow are going to convene an urgent meeting on Monday night to Tuesday to discuss the implications of the incident to the Syrian peace process.

“We are also going to be meeting with the Russians at high levels to try to get a sense from them about where they think this [Syrian ceasefire] can go from here,” an unnamed US official said, as cited by news agency Sputnik. 

“What happened today has dealt a serious blow to our efforts to bring peace to Syria,” the source added.

Meanwhile, France has called on the ceasefire to be restored in full as soon as possible, while decrying the attack.

“France strongly condemns the destruction of a humanitarian convoy in Syria and the death of all the personnel in it,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said, as cited by Reuters.

“This destruction illustrates the urgency of a ceasefire,” he stressed.

The attack adds further uncertainty over the prospects of the latest Russia-US brokered ceasefire deal, days after the US-led coalition bombed Syrian government forces’ positions near the city of Deir ez-Zor, killing 62 Syrian troops and injuring over 100. The airstrike, described by Russia’s Defense Ministry as “serious and blatant aggression” facilitated the advance of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants in the area.

Apart from the US forces, the UK, Australian and Danish militaries admitted their participation in the attack,
mounted by two F-16 jet fighters and two A-10 support aircrafts.

While the coalition’s investigation in the attack continues, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said it was likely caused by wrong coordinates and is “a direct consequence of the stubborn unwillingness of the American side to coordinate with Russia in its actions against terrorist groups in Syria.”
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Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2016, 11:26:42 PM »
This is a different incident to the one posted above.  This one was the attack on Syrian Army forces the day (or two) before. 

This is the first time I have heard about Australian planes bombing in Syria since the Russians started their air campaign almost a year ago.  Prior to that, they had flown 9 missions in Syria, using their weapons on 2 occasions, one bomb destroying an ISIS APC.  Presumably they didn't have defences against Russian S-400, so they were pulled back to Iraq.

Now they are back, and the UK and the Danish, but THEY wouldn't target the Syrian Army, and if they did, it was a mistake.

https://www.rt.com/uk/359856-uk-hit-syria-troops/
British air force admits involvement in airstrikes which hit Syrian govt troops
19 Sep, 2016

Britain’s military has admitted involvement in an airstrike in eastern Syria which reportedly killed over 60 Syrian Army troops. Subsequent reports suggest a Reaper drone may have been used.

The strike in the area of Deir el-Zor was originally attributed to Australian, US and Danish forces operating as part of the US-led coalition but the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) tweeted on Monday that it had been involved.

An MoD spokesman said: “We can confirm that the UK participated in the recent coalition air strike in Syria, south of Dayr az Zawr on Saturday, and we are fully cooperating with the coalition investigation.

“The UK would not intentionally target Syrian military units. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.”

On Monday afternoon Defence Command Denmark, the headquarters of the Danish military, also admitted it's involvement in the deadly strike.

“Two Danish F-16s participated along with other nations’ aircraft in these attacks. The attack was immediately stopped when a report from the Russian side said that a Syrian military position had been hit,” a statement said.

“It is of course unfortunate if the coalition mistakenly struck anything other than ISIL forces,” the statement continued. 

It was reported Sunday that sixty-two Syrian soldiers were killed and over 100 injured in the airstrike by the US-led coalition, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said, citing information received from the Syrian General Command.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the aircraft which carried out the bombings had entered Syrian airspace from the territory of Iraq.

Four strikes against Syrian positions was performed by two F-16 jet fighters and two A-10 support aircraft, it added.

“If the airstrike was caused by the wrong coordinates of targets than it’s a direct consequence of the stubborn unwillingness of the American side to coordinate with Russia in its actions against terrorist groups in Syria,” Konashenkov stressed.

UK airstrikes have been officially carried out as part of Operation Shader in Syria since a vote in favour in December 2015. A previous vote in 2013 did not authorize air strikes.

UK forces have been operating from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. It emerged in August that British Special Forces were also operating on the ground in the country.
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Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #5 on: September 20, 2016, 01:27:54 PM »
In the pictures shown, it certainly doesn't look like the result of airstrikes, but who knows where and when they were really taken, or what was not photographed.

https://www.rt.com/news/359990-russia-denies-aleppo-strike/
Russian, Syrian Air Forces did not strike UN aid convoy in Aleppo - Russian MoD
20 Sep, 2016


A damaged truck carrying aid is seen on the side of the road in the town of Orum al-Kubra on the western outskirts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on September 20, 2016, the morning after a convoy delivering aid was hit by a deadly air strike. © Omar Haj Kadour / AFP

Russian and Syrian warplanes did not launch airstrikes on an aid convoy that was attacked en route to Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The ministry added that only the militants who control the area had information regarding the location of the convoy.

“Russian and Syrian warplanes did not carry out any airstrikes on a UN humanitarian aid convoy in the southwest of Aleppo,”  Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement Tuesday.

The Russian Center for Reconciliation said that it had used drones to accompany the convoy because its route passed through territory controlled by the rebels, but only to a certain point.

"Around 13:40 Moscow time (10:40 GMT) the aid convoy successfully reached the destination. The Russian side did not monitor the convoy after this and its movements were only known by the militants who were in control of the area,” Konashenkov added.

The Defense Ministry spokesman said that the Russian military had been looking at video footage from the scene and that there was no sign of the convoy being targeted by shells or an airstrike.

“We have closely studied the video footage from where the incident took place and we did not find any signs of any ammunition having hit the convoy. There are no craters, while the vehicles have their chassis intact and they have not been severely damaged, which would have been the case from an airstrike,” Konashenkov said.

“All of the video footage demonstrates that the convoy caught fire, which strangely happened almost at exactly at the same time as militants started a large scale offensive on Aleppo.”

The Red Cross said that at least 20 civilians and one aid worker had been killed after what the organization believed was an airstrike struck the 31-truck convoy.

The aid worker was identified as Omar Barakat, the director of a sub-branch of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), which was helping with the delivery of aid intended to reach rebel-held areas of Aleppo.

“Today, the Red Cross and Red Crescent is in mourning. In solidarity with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we are calling on the international community to ensure the protection of humanitarian aid workers and volunteers. We are not part of this conflict,” Tadateru Konoe, the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said in a statement.

Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, the head of communications at the IFRC, spoke to RT and said there has been a loss of life, but it is difficult to understand fully what has happened.

“We have very diverse information and it is quite difficult to get a full picture of the situation,” he said. “Very tragically, we have volunteers from the Red Crescent who have been attacked. We have information that several people have died, but we don’t have confirmation on the identities.”

The SARC said it would suspend aid deliveries in Syria for three days in protest at the airstrikes on the convoy.

Meanwhile, the UN said it will be suspending all its aid convoys while the security situation in Syria is assessed.

"As an immediate security measure, other convoy movements in Syria have been suspended for the time being pending further assessment of the security situation," UN humanitarian aid spokesman Jens Laerke said. He added that the UN had received permission from the Syrian government to deliver aid to all areas of the country.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is also postponing an aid convoy that was to deliver supplies to four besieged Syrian towns.

Earlier, the Kremlin said it was assessing the situation, while Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said it would be incorrect to make hasty conclusions when trying to apportion blame.

“I do not think it is possible and correct to make unfounded conclusions. At the moment, our military is checking information regarding the airstrike and I hope they are getting concrete information from first-hand sources that were present in order to present their own findings,” he said.

Peskov also pointed out that terrorists from Jabhat Al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front) had been firing rockets at areas under the control of the Syrian government.

“We know that the Syrian armed forces, who for the whole week have been the only party to have kept to the terms of the ceasefire, had to respond to this offensive,” he said.

Washington was quick to blame Russia for the attack on the aid convoy, even if Moscow’s planes were not involved, as it had responsibility for controlling Syrian government forces under the terms of the ceasefire agreement.

“The destination of this convoy was known to the Syrian regime and the Russian Federation and yet these aid workers were killed in their attempt to provide relief to the Syrian people,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

“The United States will raise this issue directly with Russia. Given the egregious violation of the cessation of hostilities we will reassess the future prospects for cooperation with Russia,” he added.

Political commentator John Wight told RT that it was hypocritical to blame the Russians, adding that Washington has constantly rejected Moscow’s requests to share intelligence regarding the location of militants.

“Clearly we are seeing a pattern where any civilian target that is hit in these airstrikes is automatically blamed on Russia or Syria and never on the US or its allies,” he said.

“It is deeply, deeply hypocritical of the Americans to blame the Russians when they have been denying cooperation with Russia, who has been calling for cooperation throughout this conflict, in order to target the rebels,” he added.
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #6 on: September 20, 2016, 02:20:48 PM »
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2016, 07:23:05 PM »
Remember the so-called Syrian gas attack while the UN gas attacks investigators were there?  This is just the same.  Why would the Russians/Syrians bomb a UN-sponsored food relief convoy, obviously crawling with UN officials?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-09-20/us-accuses-kremlin-lying-says-russia-bombed-syrian-aid-convoy
US Accuses Kremlin Of Lying, Says Russia Bombed Syrian Aid Convoy
Tyler Durden
Sep 20, 2016

The big geopolitical news in the aftermath of yesterday's bombing of a UN humanitarian convoy in Syria, which according to unofficial, UK-funded "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" was done by Russian or Syrian fighter jets, was this morning's vocal denial by the Russia defense ministry that neither Russian nor Syrian planes were responsible for the bombing raid.

"No airstrikes were carried out against a humanitarian aid convoy in a southwestern suburb of Aleppo by Russian or Syrian aviation. Seeing as the convoy’s route lied through the territories controlled by militants, the Russian reconciliation center monitored its passage yesterday via drones," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Tuesday.

According to the general, the monitoring finished when all humanitarian aid was delivered at around 10:40 GMT."Further movements of the convoy were not monitored by the Russian side. Only the militants controlling this area know details of the convoy’s location," Konashenkov added. The examination of video footage reveals no signs of an ammunition strikes on the convoy, he said. "We have carefully studied videos by so-called activists from the site and found no signs of any ammunition striking the convoy. There are no shell holes, cars' bodies are not damaged and there are no construction faults from the bust wave. All shown on the footage is a direct consequence of the cargo being set on fire. The fire strangely coincided with a major offensive by militants in Aleppo."

The ministry emphasized that the perpetrator of the fire, as well as his goal may be known by members of the "White Helmets" organization that has connection to al-Nusra Front terrorists who have "accidentally" been at the right time and in the right place with cameras.

As we concluded this morning, there were two possibilities: either Russia is lying, or it is telling the truth. And since Russia should be able to back up its claims with video footage, the question emerges: did US-coalition forces or US-backed "moderate rebels" belonging to the al-Nusra, stage the attack a UN convoy in the latest "false flag" attempt to shift attention to "Russian aggression", and seek justification to escalate the military campaign against Syria, and its proxy supporter, Russia?

    To be sure, it won't be the first time the US has "made a mistake" - just on Saturday, US-coalition forces apologized for killing dozens of Syrian troops in what Assad called "flagrant American aggression." If confirmed, it will once again demonstrate that the western MIC will stop at nothing to escalate military conflicts, no matter the bodybount, if it means bigger military contracts courtesy of generous US taxpayers.

And since ignoring Russia's response would mean the US was tacitly admitting was the responsible party (and lied), moments ago the WSJ reported that U.S. intelligence agencies said they believe that Russian aircraft conducted the strike that targeted a humanitarian aid convoy in northern Syria on Monday, essentially accusing the Kremlin of lying.

John Kerry initially had suggested that Syrian aircraft were responsible for the strikes on the U.N. convoy, which killed at least 12 people. However, the rhetoric escalated after U.S. officials said new intelligence indicates that Russian forces, rather than the Syrians, conducted the strike.

The WSJ also said that US officials said the Russian and Syrian governments had been notified in advance to the presence of the 31-truck convoy to ensure it wouldn’t be bombed by their forces in the area. “There was coordination ahead of time with the Russians,” a U.S. official said. Oddly, the US had not notified the Russian and Syrian governments on Saturday when a US strike killed over 60 Syrian troops in what the US later said was a "mistaken" strike.

The White House declined to comment on the new intelligence.

The Russian military on Tuesday evening also released what it claimed was drone footage of a pickup truck carrying a heavy mortar and driving past the humanitarian convoy.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZUMJ2vm4vgU" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/ZUMJ2vm4vgU</a>

While it is unclear why Russia would bomb a convoy it was filming and which it knew the entire world would be focused on, at least it has provided some footage to validate its statement. We now eagerly await the US "intelligence services" to present their own evidence which confirms that Russia is lying. We doubt that will be provided, and instead this will devolve into yet another instance of fingerpointing and accusatory diplomacy which will achieve nothing but escalate already deadly tensions in the region.

And as we wait, we can confidently say that any hope of a Syrian ceasefire deal is now dead.
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Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #8 on: September 23, 2016, 08:13:18 PM »
I don't know what these live videos of the UN convoy bombing by ABC and AP are doing turning up 4 days later.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQnKEhHb4Iw&feature=youtu.be - ABC News YT channel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_VH687ZFZ0 - AP YT channel

Both have "Allepo 24 hours" logo superimposed on the first few seconds, when the explosion is shown, and their own logos shown throughout.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hsyi7jt8mLU - France 24 English YT channel
has the same.

Allepo 24 hours doesn't seem to have its own YT channel.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-09-23/caught-tape-did-us-target-syrian-aid-convoy-hellfire-missile
Caught On Tape: Did The US Target Syrian Aid Convoy With Hellfire Missile?
Tyler Durden
Sep 23, 2016

Via Signs Of The Times blog,

Hellfire Signature?



Footage of the nighttime attack on the Syrian aid convoy in Aleppo has surfaced. But there's something curious about how the footage has been appearing on Western news reports. A commenter on the Moon of Alabama blog, PavewayIV, made the following observations about what appears in the video, and what it suggests. First, however, here's an unedited version of the blast, courtesy of ABC:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/HQnKEhHb4Iw" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/HQnKEhHb4Iw</a>

In the screen cap above, you can see what looks to be a cloud of sparks following an initial explosion. According to PavewayIV, this is a signature of the Metal-Augmented Charge (MAC) Hellfire AGM-114N, the Predator drone's typical payload.

The fiery cloud is produced by the residue of the fine-mesh fluorinated aluminum particles (the "metal augmentation"). Aside from the ABC footage, most other networks have shown edited versions that make this signature difficult to detect.

For example, here's AP's version:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/RdN_siggEn0" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/RdN_siggEn0</a>

Shakey-cam added for jihadi-vision effect? Why would they do this?

Thermobaric Hellfire air-blasts don't leave craters, and they typically start fires. No craters are visible in footage of the burned convoy.

The Russians have thermobaric bombs, too, according to PavewayIV, but they use different particles and their blast patterns are different: either no "sparkles" or long-duration "sparkles", not the fast-duration flash as seen in the video of the Aleppo blast.

As we reported yesterday, the Russians detected a Predator drone which took off from Incirlik airbase in Syria, flew to the precise location of the convoy, arrived before the strike, stayed for a while, then left after the damage was done.

Surely just a coincidence...
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2016, 07:06:51 PM »
The Syrian Government is getting very angry too - implies US experts are setting up the forthcoming black flag event.

https://www.rt.com/news/360590-ahrar-sham-chemical-attack-syria/
Ahrar Al-Sham plans to launch chemical attack on civilians, blame it on Syria govt – Syrian UN envoy
26 Sep, 2016

Militants from Ahrar Al-Sham, a hardline Islamist group, are planning to use white phosphorus in an attack on civilians to later blame it on Syrian armed forces, UN envoy Bashar Ja’afari told a UN Security Council emergency meeting on Sunday.

“I have information that Ahrar Al-Sham terrorists intend to mount attacks on civilian population using white phosphorus for the sake of fabricating accusations against the Syrian state and its army,” the diplomat said at the meeting as cited by TASS.

To falsify the evidence and make their claims sound more credible, the militants plan to pose as Syrian army troops as they deploy the banned substance, Ja’afari said, adding that imposters are going to put on Syrian army uniforms and film the whole incident on camera. He did not elaborate on the source of the intelligence.

White phosphorus is an extremely poisonous toxic agent able to inflict severe burn injuries and is banned from use in civilian areas, according to international law. It is only legitimate to deploy the chemical to create a smokescreen, make signals, or markings for friendly troops. The US has repeatedly used this loophole to use white phosphorus during Middle Eastern campaigns while claiming the indiscriminate weapon is only used as a smokescreen for advancing troops. Most recently, US military deployed white phosphorus shells in Iraq, saying they were used to “obscure” Kurdish fighters’ offensive against Islamists.

Speaking of the alleged upcoming provocation, Ja’afari mentioned the suspicious activity by American experts, who, he claimed, had visited one of the chemical munitions depots in the rebel-held town of Saraqib in the northwestern Idlib province. Upon examining the site, the experts departed Syria for Turkey, he claimed.

For its part, Syria has been acting in full compliance with the UN Charter and international law on warfare, Ja’afari said, repelling accusations of alleged use of incendiary weapons by the Syrian forces.

“We condemn the statements of several UN representatives that we are using banned weapons or targeting the civilian population,” he said, pointing to the fact that the UN, at the same time, is turning a blind eye to the use of chemical weapons by rebels.

In March, Islamist militants of the Ahrar Al group along with a string of other armed opposition groups were accused by shelling the predominantly Kurdish Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood of Aleppo with yellow phosphorus by Kurdish YPG fighters.

Ahrar Al-Sham also committed a bulk of violations that contributed the ceasefire failure in Syria, according to the Russian military. The group, which is believed to be allied with Al-Nusra Front, has rejected the latest ceasefire, but is still not officially recognized as terrorist by US-led coalition despite Russia’s repeated requests.

“Not long ago, the Americans at last sent us a list of organizations which they consider to be part of the ceasefire and which should not be targeted. In one of the first positions there is Ahrar al-Sham,” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said in interview to Sputnik earlier in September, adding that it “seems the Americans are listing a part of a terrorist structure, which is recognized as such by the UN, as an organization loyal to them.”

While the meeting was focused on the escalated of hostilities in Aleppo, where the Syrian armed forces are conducting a large-scale anti-terror operation in the eastern part of the embattled city, the US, UK and French representatives have demonstratively walked out from the meeting before the Syrian envoy was about to give Syria’s government prospective on the issue.

In his turn, Ja’afari slammed the countries for disrupting the peace process in Syria by carrying out airstrikes at Syrian army positions.

“Several UN member states should stop lying to themselves and to the whole world,” he said.

Despite the repeated violations of the ceasefire by the rebels, Syria is ready to breathe life in the stalled intra-Syrian talks and renew the negotiations but only with those forces who are “genuine patriots of their country and not acting on orders from abroad and receive money there.”

The Syrian envoy pointed out that Syrian government take all possible measures to ensure the civilian population would not suffer from the offensive, asking them to keep away from terrorist positions. However, the militants “do not let the civilians leave Aleppo and use them as [human] shields,” the envoy said.
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2016, 02:07:00 PM »
https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20160926/1045706456/us-airstrike-daesh-army.html
Damascus Has Audio of Daesh Talks With US Military Before Strike on Syrian Army
26.09.2016

The Syrian intelligence possesses an audio recording of conversation between Daesh terrorists and US military prior to the Washington-led coalition's airstrikes on the government troops near Deir ez-Zor on September 17, the speaker of the People's Council of Syria said Monday.

"The Syrian Army intercepted a conversation between the Americans and Daesh before the air raid on Deir ez-Zor", Hadiya Khalaf Abbas said as quoted by the Al Mayadeen broadcaster.

US warplanes hit Syrian government troops near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor on September 17, leaving 62 military personnel killed and a hundred wounded. The Pentagon said initially that the airstrike was a mistake and targeted Daesh militants.

The head of the Syrian parliament, added during her visit to Iran that after the coalition's airstrikes on the government troops US military directed terrorists' attack on the Syrian army.

The attack on government positions put to test a US-Russia brokered nationwide ceasefire that came into being in Syria earlier that week. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last Friday it was necessary to separate Daesh terrorists from "moderate" opposition forces in order to salvage the truce.

Britain, Australia and Denmark confirmed their air forces' participation in the deadly airstrikes.

The politician noted that the details would be made public later.
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2016, 03:01:59 PM »
Extraordinarily fortuitous timing for Syria-Russia for an Al Nusra commander to give an interview to a German journalist and give out all these embarrassing details for the US and allies. 
http://www.ksta.de/politik/interview-mit-al-nusra-kommandeur--die-amerikaner-stehen-auf-unserer-seite--24802176-seite2  [in German]
There's a video on Facebook appaently, but I can't find it.

https://www.rt.com/news/360690-us-arms-nusra-syria/
‘Americans are on our side’: Al-Nusra commander says US arming jihadists via 3rd countries
26 Sep, 2016

US weapons are being delivered to Jabhat Al-Nusra by governments that Washington supports, a militant commander told the German media, adding that American instructors were in Syria to teach how to use the new equipment.

“Yes, the US supports the opposition [in Syria], but not directly. They support the countries that support us. But we are not yet satisfied with this support,” Jabhat al-Nusra unit commander Abu Al Ezz said in an interview with Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper from the devastated Syrian city of Aleppo.

According to the commander, the militants should be receiving more “sophisticated weapons” from their backers to succeed against the Syrian government.

“The fight is difficult. The regime is strong and gets support from Russia,” he explained.

Al Ezz said that Jabhat Al-Nusra “won battles thanks to TOW rockets. Due to these rockets, we reached a balance with the regime. Our tanks came from Libya via Turkey, joined by the [BM-21] multiple rocket launchers,” he said.

The government forces have an advantage because of aircraft and missile launchers, but “we have the American-made TOW missiles, and the situation in some areas is under control,” Al Ezz added.

When asked if the TOW missiles were initially intended for Jabhat Al-Nusra or if the group obtained them from the moderate Free Syrian Army, the jihadist clarified: “No, the missiles were given to us directly.”

He also said that when Jabhat Al-Nusra was “besieged, we had officers from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and America here… Experts in the use of satellites, rockets, reconnaissance and thermal security cameras.”

The journalist asked specifically if the US instructors were really present among the jihadists’ ranks and Al Ezz replied: “The Americans are on our side.”

He also said that Jabhat Al-Nusra has been paid for achieving specific military goals during the Syrian conflict.

“We got 500 million Syrian pounds (around $2.3 million) from Saudi Arabia. To capture the Infantry School in Al Muslimiya years ago we received 1.5 million Kuwaiti dinars (around $500,000) and Saudi Arabia's $5 million,” Al Ezz said.

The money came from the “governments” of those states, not private individuals, he said.

“Israel is now giving us support because Israel is at war with Syria and with Hezbollah,” Al Ezz said.

The West also “paved the way” for jihadists coming to Syria, saying that “we have many fighters from Germany, France, Britain, America, from all the Western countries,” the commander said.

In the interview, he confirmed claims made by Moscow and the Syrian government that the militants were using the Syrian ceasefire, agreed by Russia and US on September 9, to prepare for a new offensive.

“We do not recognize the ceasefire. We will regroup our groups. We will carry out the next overwhelming attack against the regime in a few days. We have regrouped our forces in all provinces, including Homs, Aleppo, Idlib and Hama,” Al Ezz said.

He said that Jabhat Al-Nusa would not let trucks with humanitarian aid enter Aleppo “as long as the regime [forces] are along the Castello Road, in Al Malah and in the northern regions.”

“The regime must withdraw from all the territories, and we will let the trucks in. If a truck is going in anyway, we will detain the driver,” he said.

The idea of a transitional government in Syria is also not supported by Jabhat Al-Nusra, the commander said.

“We accept no one from the Assad regime or of the Free Syrian Army, which is described as moderate. Our goal is to overthrow the regime, and establish an Islamic state in accordance with the Islamic Sharia,” he said.

As for the people who represent the Syrian opposition at the Geneva talks, Al Ezz said that “these people are weak, they’ve got a lot of money. They’ve sold themselves.”

“There are mercenaries in Syria, Alloush fights with Al Nusra-Front,” he said talking about Mohammed Alloush, a leader in the Jaysh al-Islam group, part of the Syrian opposition’s High Negotiations Committee (HNC) in the peace talks. “The group that was housed in Turkey and which was turned into the Free Syrian Army, used to be part of Al Nusra-Front.”

The commander openly confirmed that Jabhat Al-Nusra “are part of Al Qaeda,” the terrorist network responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

“Actually, we were inside one group together with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). But the Islamic State has been used in accordance with the interests and political purposes of the big powers like America, and the group has drifted away from our principles. Most of the IS leaders are working with intelligence services, and it’s now clear for us. We, the Jabhat Al-Nusra, have our own way,” Al Ezz said.

The interview with Jabhat al-Nusra’s commander was taken at a stone quarry in Aleppo on September 17 by Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger journalist Jurgen Todenhofer on his seventh trip to war-torn Syria.
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2016, 05:08:07 PM »
US response: Poppycock!
How do you get a tank out of Libya and into Syria via Turkey without the US knowing about it?

https://www.rt.com/usa/360700-syria-nusra-state-department/
US not arming Nusra, but our allies might – State Dept
26 Sep, 2016

Al-Nusra Front is a terrorist group and the US will never provide it with any aid, said the State Department, reacting to revelations in a German newspaper – while admitting that unnamed US allies might be backing the jihadist militants in Syria.

On Monday, the German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger published an interview with an Al-Nusra commander in Syria, identified only as “Abu Al-Ezz.” In the interview, conducted 10 days ago outside of Aleppo, Al-Ezz said that US allies were providing Al-Nusra with tanks and artillery.

“The Americans are on our side,” Al-Ezz reportedly said.

The US government has categorically denied providing any aid to Al-Nusra, while admitting awareness that its allies in the region may be arming the militants.

“That’s complete poppycock,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at the press briefing Monday. “Whatever he’s saying, no.”

“We would never provide Nusra with any kind of assistance at all,” Toner continued, explaining that the group is a designated foreign terrorist organization.

Asked why the US has been unable to persuade the “moderate opposition” in Syria from separating itself from Al-Nusra, Toner replied it was the rebels’ responsibility, and that they would need a seven-day ceasefire to do so.

He blamed the Syrian government offensive against East Aleppo, which he said would drive “some of those forces, not all of them” into the arms of Al-Nusra. If the Syrian government continues to insist on the military solution, “there are those – not the US – who back various opposition groups in Syria, who might also seek to arm them,” and that would lead to escalation, Toner said.

Asked to clarify if that meant that US allies might be arming Al-Nusra, Toner replied that “countries that support the opposition may want to supply them with assistance.”

Al-Nusra has been receiving funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, and has obtained tanks and artillery from Libya via Turkey, according to what the commander, Al-Ezz, told the German newspaper. The group especially appreciated the US-supplied TOW anti-tank missiles.

“The missiles were given directly to us,” he said. “They were delivered to a certain group.”

The issue of Al-Nusra receiving outside aid was brought up by Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, at the special session of the Security Council on Sunday.

“They are armed by tanks, APCs, field artillery, multiple rocket launchers… All of this has been received by them and is still being shipped to them by generous Western backers, with the US, presumably, turning a blind eye,” Churkin said.

“We have to see proof that there is a genuine desire to separate US-allied rebel groups from the Al-Nusra Front, then destroy the Al-Nusra Front and bring the opposition into a political process. Otherwise our suspicions that this was only meant to shield the Al-Nusra Front would only grow stronger,” the Russian envoy added, referring to the ceasefire agreed between Moscow and Washington that collapsed last week.

On Monday, however, the State Department talked about expecting “significant gestures” from Russia or the Syrian government to “restore their credibility” so the talks might continue, suggesting that the Syrian government should stand down its air force and cease the offensive on East Aleppo.

“The ball is somewhat in Russia’s court right now,” said Toner. However, he said the US was not ready to walk away from the talks. “If you’re asking about the legendary Plan B, we’re not there yet.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shrugged off the US rhetoric about Aleppo, however, pointing out that it was the US airstrike against the Syrian Army position besieged by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) that ended the ceasefire.

“I would like to emphasize that the Americans and their Western allies, for one thing, want to distract public attention from what had happened in Deir ez-Zor,” Lavrov told NTV on Monday.
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2016, 04:27:35 PM »
https://www.rt.com/news/360833-syria-aleppo-center-army/
Syrian Army seizes Aleppo’s central district from terrorists – state media
27 Sep, 2016

Syrian government forces have re-captured Aleppo’s central district of al-Farafirah from terrorists, state outlet SANA reported, citing army sources.

According to SANA, the Syrian Army is now in control of al-Farafirah with sappers currently clearing the area from “mines and improvised explosive devices planted by terrorists.”

“The army retook control of the entire al-Farafirah district northwest of the Aleppo citadel after neutralizing many terrorists. Units are now demining the area,” AFP quoted a military source as saying.

After their retreat, the terrorists left munitions and weapons, including large-caliber machine guns, RIA Novosti reports, citing another source with knowledge of the matter.

“We have been able for the first time in several years to move the front in Aleppo,” the Russian news agency’s source said.

It added that the Syrian Army suffered no losses in the operation, which began in the early hours of Tuesday.

The district of Al-Farafirah is located north-west of Aleppo’s main historical landmark, the Citadel – a large medieval fortified palace in the center of the old city. Syrian troops are also demining in other districts in Aleppo, including that of al-Ramusi.

The area, liberated about three weeks ago, is considered extremely important since it is used by humanitarian convoys to deliver food and medicine to people in the war-ravaged city.

Aid delivery, in particular to the city of Aleppo, is one of the main parts of the agreement reached between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his US counterpart, John Kerry, on September 9 in Geneva.

The deal, however, suffered a major blow when a UN-led humanitarian convoy heading to Aleppo was attacked on September 19. One aid worker and 20 civilians died as a result, according to a Red Cross representative. It is still not clear who was behind the attack.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations said last week that they plan to resume aid convoys. Rights groups and the UN have repeatedly condemned the dire situation in Aleppo. It is estimated that nearly 250,000 people inside the city are short of food, medicine and other basics.

In July this year, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria and the country’s government established several corridors for civilians willing to escape Aleppo.

The plight of the population in the war-ravaged city has been worsened by the repeated shelling from terrorist groups in the past two weeks, according to the Russian military.

On September 19, Al-Nusra Front terrorists launched a massive advance on the Syrian Army and residential areas in southwest Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry said at the time. According to the ministry, terrorists used “mortars and missile systems.”
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2016, 08:28:54 PM »
This is getting SERIOUS now.  The US is threatening to allow its proxy rebels (including al-Nusra) to shoot down Russian aircraft, presumably with US weapons, while they agreed to bombing al-Nusra themselves just a couple of weeks ago and instead bombed the Syrian army "by mistake".  If that happens, expect the Russians to put their S-400 defences on full alert and shoot down US planes in tit-for-tat.

https://www.rt.com/usa/360992-us-warns-russia-violence/
‘Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags’: US warns Moscow if Syria violence goes on
28 Sep, 2016

“Extremist groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria to expand their operations, which could include attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities. Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags, and will continue to lose resources, perhaps even aircraft,” John Kirby, the State Department's spokesperson, told reporters at Wednesday's press briefing.

If the war continues “more Russian lives will be lost, more Russian aircraft will be shot down,” Kirby said.

Early on Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry threatened to end all cooperation between the United States and Russia to stop Syria’s civil war, unless Moscow and Damascus ended the current attack on East Aleppo.

“We are working through steps that we might have to take to begin to suspend our engagement with Russia on Syria. We haven’t taken those steps yet,” said Kirby. “The message to the [Russian] Foreign Minister today was that we are perfectly willing and able to move forward on those steps that would end with the suspension of US-Russia bi-lateral engagement in Syria.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov presented a different version of the call with Secretary Kerry, with the demand that the US live up to its obligation to separate opposition forces from extremist groups.

The US promised long ago to separate the rebels from terrorists and it needs to live up to that obligation, Lavrov told Kerry, bringing up the recent interview of an Al-Nusra commander about how the group is receiving outside support – including American weapons – as well as the statement of a Syrian opposition leader Riyad Hijab that he did not consider Al-Nusra terrorists.

Foreign Minister Lavrov told Kerry that many US-backed groups are working side by side with the Al-Qaeda affiliate, and brought up media reports that Nusra was receiving weapons from the US.

During the press briefing, Kirby said the US had “influence over some of the [rebel] groups but not all."

“There are other nations that have influence. We have admitted that not all opposition groups on every single day have abided by it, and we have continued to work with them on that,” Kirby said, asked about the rebels' violations of the Syrian ceasefire.

The Obama Administration has consistently called for regime change in Syria, and Kirby told reporters on Wednesday “Obviously, we don’t want to see the regime acquire any additional territory” in Aleppo.

In response to the statement that Russia was targeting Nusra Front and terrorists, Kirby said “That’s not what’s happening. They’re hitting hospitals, civilian infrastructure."

When asked about the US arming Saudi Arabia, Kirby said the State Department had been critical about the “lack of precision in some strikes” in Yemen.

“We have a strong defense relationship with Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia is under attack from missiles that are finding their ways to Yemen from Iran,” said Kirby, rejecting any comparison between what was happening in Yemen and what was happening in Syria, as “a ludicrous exercise.”

Explaining why he thought Russia should agree to US demands, Kirby said, "We know that they (Russians) want a measure of cooperation between our two militaries. We know that they want the establishment of a joint implementation center. We want that, too."

Washington has dragged its feet on setting up the JIC, however, with Kirby telling reporters on September 16 that its establishment was contingent on humanitarian aid reaching Aleppo.

"We don't have any intention of having an intelligence sharing agreement with the Russians," GeneralJoseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers last Tuesday.

Former congressman Dr. Ron Paul says Washington “should not be there [Syria]” at all, despite this being an “unpopular” opinion in political circles, because the intervention contributes to jihadists expanding even further.

“So, I think we are doing the wrong thing,” he told RT. “I don’t think it’s good for our national defense. I think it makes us more vulnerable, because it does create more enemies. It’s unpopular to suggest that maybe our presence over there contributes significantly to those who become radical jihadists and would like to do us harm.”

Paul says moreover the US has no “moral authority” to be in Syria and has been violating its own laws.

“It’s not a proper function – we don’t have the moral authority. We haven’t followed our own laws that said that we should not be involved in war and [the] overthrow of governments without a declaration of war,” he said.
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