Doomstead Diner Menu => Geopolitics => Topic started by: Palloy on September 17, 2016, 06:38:57 PM

Title: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on September 17, 2016, 06:38:57 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/359678-us-strikes-syrian-army/ (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."
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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/ (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.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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 (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.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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/ (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.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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/ (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.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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/ (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

(https://cdn.rt.com/files/2016.09/original/57e12c3bc36188e2068b45e4.jpg)
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.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Eddie on September 20, 2016, 02:20:48 PM
(http://lancemannion.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451be5969e201310f988706970c-pi)
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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 (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.

http://www.youtube.com/v/ZUMJ2vm4vgU

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.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQnKEhHb4Iw&feature=youtu.be) - ABC News YT channel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_VH687ZFZ0 (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 (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 (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?

(http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/2016/09/23/20160923_hellfire1.jpg)

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:

http://www.youtube.com/v/HQnKEhHb4Iw

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:

http://www.youtube.com/v/RdN_siggEn0

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...
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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/ (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.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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 (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/ (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.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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/ (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.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on September 27, 2016, 04:27:35 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/360833-syria-aleppo-center-army/ (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.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy 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/ (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.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 01, 2016, 12:39:54 AM
So the US doesn't "rush in and bomb the hell out of a place", not like in Fallujah, or Kobane.  And it's Russia's fault that the moderate rebels have been driven into the arms of al-Nusra.

https://www.rt.com/usa/361269-nusra-moderates-intermingled-aleppo/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/361269-nusra-moderates-intermingled-aleppo/)
US admits not targeting Nusra, blames Moscow for own failure to separate ‘moderates’ from terrorists
1 Oct, 2016

The US is not targeting al-Nusra terrorists in Syria because they have become too “intermingled” with moderates and civilians, the US State Department claimed, accusing Moscow of causing the mess which prevents Washington from separating the groups.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov once again stressed in an interview with the BBC on Friday that Washington never delivered on its obligation to separate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (known before the rebranding as al-Nusra Front) and other extremist groups from the so-called “moderate” rebels, to whom the US provides support.

However, this time Lavrov went a step further and implied that Washington has been sparing terrorists in Syria on purpose, should they ever come in handy in terms of potentially overthrowing the government of Bashar Assad.

“They still, in spite of many repeated promises and commitments ... are not able or not willing to do this and we have more and more reasons to believe that from the very beginning the plan was to spare al-Nusra and to keep it just in case for ‘Plan B’ ... when it would be time to change the regime,” the Russian minister said.

The US State Department has dismissed Lavrov’s statements as “absurd”, instead accusing Russia of driving the “moderate” opposition to intermingle with terrorist fighters on the battlefield against the Syrian government forces.

Claiming that the US exerted every possible effort to influence and separate moderates from terrorists, State Departments spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at a daily briefing on Friday, that the “moderate opposition” have been “driven more or less into the arms” and have no other choice but to “turn to Nusra, fight side by side.”

Toner admitted that the US had not targeted al-Nusra for months because its members had become “intermingled” with other groups and civilians.

“We did carry out strikes initially, back in 2014-2015, against Nusra. But absolutely, you’re correct in that, as they became intermingled and as they became intermingled in civilian areas, we’ve always sought to limit the possibility of civilian casualties in any of our airstrikes,” Toner said.

“We wanted to work in a very strategic fashion about how to take out senior Nusra leadership like we’ve done pretty effectively against ISIL. And that doesn’t include just laying waste to populated areas that may be under Nusra’s control,” Toner added.

The latest seven-day truce in Syria brokered by US and Russia expired two days after a US-led coalition airstrike on Syrian army positions near the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) frontline at Deir Ezzor killed over 60 soldiers and allowed for a major jihadist offensive.

On September 19, an aid convoy was attacked while heading to Aleppo. The US was quick to blame Russia and Syria for the attack, demanding that both countries’ air forces operating in the area be grounded immediately. Despite Russia’s demands that an investigation be conducted, according to Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that while a probe might take place, they already “know who did it, namely the Syrian Army or Russia, and that it was Russia's fault in any case.”

Since then, amid intensified military operations in Aleppo, the US has been threatening to cut ties with Moscow in seeking a political solution to the settlement. Bilateral ties are on “life support,” Toner said, adding that “it’s not flatlined yet,” as he urged Russia to end “horrific” strikes on Aleppo.

“If we do pronounce the diplomatic process dead, then what we don’t want to see is an escalation in the violence, and that could very well be the result,” Toner said.

As Russia plans to beef up its aircraft group in Syria, according to Izvestiya daily, CIA director John Brennan has called for further US actions against the Kremlin.

“I think that pushing back against a bully is appropriate,” Brennan told Reuters. “I think that is very different than rushing in and bombing the hell out of a place.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov spoke by telephone for a third straight day, trying to normalize the situation in Aleppo in spite of a diplomatic deadlock.

During the conversation, Lavrov recalled that the previous ceasefire has been “repeatedly violated” by militants in the eastern part Aleppo, which is controlled by al-Nusra, whose members “are preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid and threatening attacks on UN convoys.”

While reaffirming Russia’s readiness to continue to seek a diplomatic solution, Lavrov underscored that the “numerous 'periods of silence,' which have been declared in the past for two or three days, were used by al-Nusra to regroup.”

The “inaction” on behalf of US to separate the rebels, the FM stressed, allowed “Jabhat al-Nusra to take cover behind other armed opposition groups with which Washington collaborates.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 03, 2016, 09:51:21 PM
So the US suspends cooperation with Russia over Syria, and Russia blames US of working with terrorists all along.  I hope there is an understanding on where the US can and cannot fly in Syria, otherwise we are going to see US planes being shot down by Russian S-400 missiles, and the US response to that.

https://www.rt.com/usa/361482-bilateral-suspended-syria-ceasefire/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/361482-bilateral-suspended-syria-ceasefire/)
US suspends bilateral contact with Russia over Syria
3 Oct, 2016

Washington has “suspended” bilateral contacts with Moscow over the Syrian crisis, the US State Department said. Russian Foreign Ministry said it was "disappointed" by the decision and accused the US of seeking to shift blame for its own failure in Syria.

US officials had threatened for a week to withdraw from the Syrian peace process, after the latest ceasefire negotiated by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry collapsed amid bloody fighting.

While contacts between US and Russian military to “deconflict” encounters between their aircraft in Syrian skies will continue, the US is withdrawing personnel that was dispatched for the purpose of setting up the Joint Implementation Center (JIC) for the ceasefire, agencies reported citing the State Department.

There is "nothing more for the US and Russia to talk about" in Syria, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday.

Russia has made efforts to preserve the September 9 ceasefire agreement, while repeatedly urging Washington to live up to its obligations, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Monday.

“It turns out that Washington has failed to fulfill the key condition of the agreement to ease humanitarian situation for the residents of Aleppo” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “And now, apparently, having failed to honor these agreements that they themselves worked out, [the US] is trying to shift the blame.”

The JIC would have been located in Geneva, Switzerland, with the purpose to coordinate military cooperation and intelligence-sharing between Russia and the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

Washington has dragged its feet on setting up the JIC, however, with State Department spokesman John Kirby telling reporters on September 16 that its establishment was contingent on humanitarian aid reaching Aleppo, while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, told lawmakers the US had “no intention of having an intelligence-sharing agreement with the Russians.”

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended Moscow’s participation in a program for disposing of plutonium from decommissioned nuclear warheads, citing “the radical change in the environment, a threat to strategic stability posed by the hostile actions of the US against Russia, and the inability of the US to deliver on the obligation to dispose of excessive weapons plutonium under international treaties.”

The White House called the decision “disappointing.”



https://www.rt.com/news/361502-syria-us-devil-terrorists/ (https://www.rt.com/news/361502-syria-us-devil-terrorists/)
‘Deal with the devil’: US ‘ready to ally with terror’ to overthrow Assad – Russia Foreign Ministry
3 Oct, 2016

Moscow has accused Washington of sabotaging the Syria ceasefire deal, saying that the US will be responsible for any new terror attacks in Syria, as by taking no action against Al-Nusra terrorists it shows it is ready “to make a deal with the devil.”

Washington “has never exerted any real pressure on Jabhat Al-Nusra, done nothing for delineation to succeed and taken no action against its militants,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday, following the US decision to suspend cooperation on Syria.

Besides failing to deliver on its part of the deal, the US were hampering Moscow’s efforts to stop the terrorists, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, calling Washington’s decision a “reflection” of the Obama administration’s inability to meet the key condition for Russia-US cooperation on the Syrian peace process.

The way the situation has been unraveling in Syria in the past few weeks has made Moscow doubt what Washington’s real intentions are, according to the ministry.

“We are becoming more convinced that in a pursuit of a much desired regime change in Damascus, Washington is ready to ‘make a deal with the devil’,” the Foreign Ministry said. For the sake of ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad, the US appears to be ready to “forge an alliance with hardened terrorists, dreaming of turning back the course of history.”

While Jabhat Al-Nusra, a designated terrorist organization, has been known as an Al-Qaeda affiliate for many years, Washington “is not in a hurry to separate US-oriented anti-government forces from it,” Moscow points out. On the contrary, even though Al-Nusra has never been a part of any peace deal, Washington “covers it with the shield of opposition groups which formally confirmed their participation in the cessation of hostilities.”

Meanwhile, Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, who on Monday assumed the post of the President of the UN Security Council, expressed his concerns over the halt in Russia-US cooperation in Syria.

At the same time, he insisted that the current setback in Syria will not lead to another “Cold War” between Moscow and Washington.

“I think you are dramatizing the nature of our disagreements with the US,” Churkin said, replying to a reporter at a press conference, adding that there’s still a chance to revive the cooperation.

“I hope there will not be a new Cold War,” he added.

For now, the main objective in Syria for Russia is to thwart Al-Nusra’s latest offensive in Aleppo, which has seen increasing number of terrorist attacks in the wake of the ceasefire’s collapse.

"In the process of the past few weeks, after the September 9 arrangements were reached, we have seen numerous violations by Nusra and others cooperating with Nusra of the cessation of hostilities regime”, Churkin said, adding that about 1.5 million people are currently stand the risk of being besieged by its militants south of Aleppo.

“We must make sure that Nusra’s influence is not going to continue to spread,” he stressed, describing the situation in Aleppo as “extremely dramatic.”

On a broader scale, Russia’s long-term aim in the region is to “throw the terrorists out” of Iraq and Syria, as it is the only way to secure the lives of civilians, living there in constant danger from extremists.

To mitigate the impact of one of the terrorists’ most powerful weapons, propaganda, Russia has submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council designed “to counter terrorist ideology and the ideology of violent extremism,” Churkin said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is set to visit Moscow this week. However, she is expected to discuss solely Ukraine and implementation of the Minsk agreements, according to the State Department’s press release.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Surly1 on October 04, 2016, 01:51:42 AM
So the US suspends cooperation with Russia over Syria, and Russia blames US of working with terrorists all along.  I hope there is an understanding on where the US can and cannot fly in Syria, otherwise we are going to see US planes being shot down by Russian S-400 missiles, and the US response to that.

https://www.rt.com/usa/361482-bilateral-suspended-syria-ceasefire/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/361482-bilateral-suspended-syria-ceasefire/)
US suspends bilateral contact with Russia over Syria
3 Oct, 2016

//

https://www.rt.com/news/361502-syria-us-devil-terrorists/ (https://www.rt.com/news/361502-syria-us-devil-terrorists/)
‘Deal with the devil’: US ‘ready to ally with terror’ to overthrow Assad – Russia Foreign Ministry
3 Oct, 2016

//Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is set to visit Moscow this week. However, she is expected to discuss solely Ukraine and implementation of the Minsk agreements, according to the State Department’s press release.

The heavy hand of the Zionist neocons continues to be evident. It's a shame that no one in this country will ever hear this POV.

And what would you give to be a fly on the wall at the meeting with Victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Surly1 on October 04, 2016, 02:29:11 AM
Juan Cole on this story.

US breaks off Military Cooperation with Russia in Syria (http://www.juancole.com/2016/10/breaks-military-cooperation.html)

 

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Arab press reacted to the announcement on Monday by the US government that it was ending its military cooperation with the Russian Federation in Syria. Masr al-Arabiya noted that the US underlined that that the step did not imply that all sorts of joint activity would be ended. For instance, multilateral talks will continue under UN auspices. Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said that the American goal remained to restart the ceasefire and to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged populations.

On 9 September the US and Russia had reached an ceasefire agreement to be implemented for 48 hours and capable of being renewed twice. If it extended to 7 days, the US would have implemented full coordination with Russia in fighting Daesh (ISIL, ISIS) and the al-Qaeda-linked Levant Conquest Front. But the Syrian regime announced the end of the truce on 19 Sepetmeber and since that time it has launched round after round of heavy aerial bombing of rebel-held East Aleppo. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, including women and children.

The siege and bombardment of rebel-held East Aleppo threatens the lives of its some 250,000 residents.

For their part, the Russians accused the Americans of never following through on their pledge to separate the moderate Free Syrian Army units from Salafi Jihadi groups like the Levant Conquest Front.

But I fear that this Russian statement is propaganda. Nothing the US did required the Syrian regime and its Russian backers abruptly to bomb the bejesus out of East Aleppo, hitting two hospitals and killing hundreds, including women and children.

Rather, it appears that rebel advances north of Hama and of Salafi Jihadis and their allies into part of East Aleppo may have decided the regime and the Russians that Obama’s ceasefire was helping the enemy. But note that East Aleppo is not held by an al-Qaeda-linked group but by remnants of the old Free Syrian Army (admittedly fundamentalists). Moreover, the Levant Conquest Front was never part of the agreement, so how could its actions invalidate the agreement? Russia and the Damascus regime have increasingly made it clear that nothing less than conquest of East Aleppo is acceptable to them, and such an expansionist attitude is incompatible with a ceasefire.

——

Related video:

Euronews: “US suspends Syria talks with Russia over Aleppo offensive”

 
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 04, 2016, 06:38:50 AM
In the Bush era, Juan Cole was merciless in his logically presented facts and his deep knowledge of ME history.  When Obama came in he was appointed to a panel of academics/experts with direct access to Obama, and instantly he changed, while Obama continued doing what Bush had done.  I wrote frequently in the comments on his blog about his change, but in the end I left him too it.

"Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said that the American goal remained to restart the ceasefire and to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged populations."

Cole knows very well that the President doesn't give a flying fuck about humanitarian aid to besieged populations when the US and its allies are doing the besieging, only when its forces are being besieged.  What did Kobane look like when the US had finished with it?  What about humanitarian aid to Yemen, currently being bombarded by Saudi Arabia's air force, assisted by US intel - hospitals, water treatment plants and sewerage pumping stations all targeted.

Cole now lives on the dark side.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: agelbert on October 04, 2016, 10:11:44 AM
So the US suspends cooperation with Russia over Syria, and Russia blames US of working with terrorists all along.  I hope there is an understanding on where the US can and cannot fly in Syria, otherwise we are going to see US planes being shot down by Russian S-400 missiles, and the US response to that.

https://www.rt.com/usa/361482-bilateral-suspended-syria-ceasefire/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/361482-bilateral-suspended-syria-ceasefire/)
US suspends bilateral contact with Russia over Syria
3 Oct, 2016

//

https://www.rt.com/news/361502-syria-us-devil-terrorists/ (https://www.rt.com/news/361502-syria-us-devil-terrorists/)
‘Deal with the devil’: US ‘ready to ally with terror’ to overthrow Assad – Russia Foreign Ministry
3 Oct, 2016

//Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is set to visit Moscow this week. However, she is expected to discuss solely Ukraine and implementation of the Minsk agreements, according to the State Department’s press release.

The heavy hand of the Zionist neocons continues to be evident. It's a shame that no one in this country will ever hear this POV.

And what would you give to be a fly on the wall at the meeting with Victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland.


Russia understands the situation and has the moral high ground here. The U.S. is not now, or ever has been, an honest broker in Syria.

The U.S. is the out of control, predatory capitalist, neocon crazy uncle here.

That said, I firmly believe that the tools in out insane military and state department pushing this confrontation will soon be deciding to "spend more time with their families".

There still are some people in our intelligence community that are as sane and sober as the Russians. WWIII ain't gonna happen. Mark my words.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 05, 2016, 12:58:49 AM
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-04/obama-warned-defuse-tensions-russia-unintended-consequences-likely-be-catastrophic (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-04/obama-warned-defuse-tensions-russia-unintended-consequences-likely-be-catastrophic)
Obama Warned To Defuse Tensions With Russia, "Unintended Consequences Likely To Be Catastrophic"
Tyler Durden
Oct 4, 2016

A group of ex-U.S. intelligence officials is warning President Obama to defuse growing tensions with Russia over Syria by reining in the demonization of President Putin and asserting White House civilian control over the Pentagon.

    ALERT MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

     

    FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

     

    SUBJECT: PREVENTING STILL WORSE IN SYRIA

     

    We write to alert you, as we did President George W. Bush, six weeks before the attack on Iraq, that the consequences of limiting your circle of advisers to a small, relatively inexperienced coterie with a dubious record for wisdom can prove disastrous.* Our concern this time regards Syria.

     

    We are hoping that your President’s Daily Brief tomorrow will give appropriate attention to Saturday’s warning by Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova: “If the US launches a direct aggression against Damascus and the Syrian Army, it would cause a terrible, tectonic shift not only in the country, but in the entire region.”

     

    Speaking on Russian TV, she warned of those whose “logic is ‘why do we need diplomacy’ … when there is power … and methods of resolving a problem by power. We already know this logic; there is nothing new about it. It usually ends with one thing – full-scale war.”

     

    We are also hoping that this is not the first you have heard of this – no doubt officially approved – statement. If on Sundays you rely on the “mainstream” press, you may well have missed it. In the Washington Post, an abridged report of Zakharova’s remarks (nothing about “full-scale war”) was buried in the last paragraph of an 11-paragraph article titled “Hospital in Aleppo is hit again by bombs.” Sunday’s New York Times totally ignored the Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s statements.

     

    In our view, it would be a huge mistake to allow your national security advisers to follow the example of the Post and Times in minimizing the importance of Zakharova’s remarks.

     

    Events over the past several weeks have led Russian officials to distrust Secretary of State John Kerry. Indeed, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who parses his words carefully, has publicly expressed that distrust. Some Russian officials suspect that Kerry has been playing a double game; others believe that, however much he may strive for progress through diplomacy, he cannot deliver on his commitments because the Pentagon undercuts him every time. We believe that this lack of trust is a challenge that must be overcome and that, at this point, only you can accomplish this.

     

    It should not be attributed to paranoia on the Russians’ part that they suspect the Sept. 17 U.S. and Australian air attacks on Syrian army troops that killed 62 and wounded 100 was no “mistake,” but rather a deliberate attempt to scuttle the partial cease-fire Kerry and Lavrov had agreed on – with your approval and that of President Putin – that took effect just five days earlier.

     

    In public remarks bordering on the insubordinate, senior Pentagon officials showed unusually open skepticism regarding key aspects of the Kerry-Lavrov deal. We can assume that what Lavrov has told his boss in private is close to his uncharacteristically blunt words on Russian NTV on Sept. 26:

     

    “My good friend John Kerry … is under fierce criticism from the US military machine. Despite the fact that, as always, [they] made assurances that the US Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, supported him in his contacts with Russia (he confirmed that during his meeting with President Vladimir Putin), apparently the military does not really listen to the Commander in Chief.”

     

    Lavrov’s words are not mere rhetoric. He also criticized JCS Chairman Joseph Dunford for telling Congress that he opposed sharing intelligence with Russia, “after the agreements concluded on direct orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama stipulated that they would share intelligence. … It is difficult to work with such partners. …”

     

    Policy differences between the White House and the Pentagon are rarely as openly expressed as they are now over policy on Syria. We suggest you get hold of a new book to be released this week titled The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by master historian H. W. Brands. It includes testimony, earlier redacted, that sheds light on why President Truman dismissed WWII hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur from command of U.N. forces in Korea in April 1951. One early reviewer notes that “Brands’s narrative makes us wonder about challenges of military versus civilian leadership we still face today.” You may find this new book more relevant at this point in time than the Team of Rivals.

     

    The door to further negotiations remains ajar. In recent days, officials of the Russian foreign and defense ministries, as well as President Putin’s spokesman, have carefully avoided shutting that door, and we find it a good sign that Secretary Kerry has been on the phone with Foreign Minister Lavrov. And the Russians have also emphasized Moscow’s continued willingness to honor previous agreements on Syria.

     

    In the Kremlin’s view, Russia has far more skin in the game than the U.S. does. Thousands of Russian dissident terrorists have found their way to Syria, where they obtain weapons, funding, and practical experience in waging violent insurgency. There is understandable worry on Moscow’s part over the threat they will pose when they come back home. In addition, President Putin can be assumed to be under the same kind of pressure you face from the military to order it to try to clean out the mess in Syria “once and for all,” regardless how dim the prospects for a military solution are for either side in Syria.

     

    We are aware that many in Congress and the “mainstream” media are now calling on you to up the ante and respond – overtly or covertly or both – with more violence in Syria. Shades of the “Washington Playbook,” about which you spoke derisively in interviews with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg earlier this year. We take some encouragement in your acknowledgment to Goldberg that the “playbook” can be “a trap that can lead to bad decisions” – not to mention doing “stupid stuff.”

     

    Goldberg wrote that you felt the Pentagon had “jammed” you on the troop surge for Afghanistan seven years ago and that the same thing almost happened three years ago on Syria, before President Putin persuaded Syria to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction. It seems that the kind of approach that worked then should be tried now, as well – particularly if you are starting to feel jammed once again.

     

    Incidentally, it would be helpful toward that end if you had one of your staffers tell the “mainstream” media to tone down it puerile, nasty – and for the most part unjustified and certainly unhelpful – personal vilification of President Putin.

     

    Renewing direct dialogue with President Putin might well offer the best chance to ensure an end, finally, to unwanted “jamming.” We believe John Kerry is correct in emphasizing how frightfully complicated the disarray in Syria is amid the various vying interests and factions. At the same time, he has already done much of the necessary spadework and has found Lavrov for the most part, a helpful partner.

     

    Still, in view of lingering Russian – and not only Russian – skepticism regarding the strength of your support for your secretary of state, we believe that discussions at the highest level would be the best way to prevent hotheads on either side from risking the kind of armed confrontation that nobody should want.

     

    Therefore, we strongly recommend that you invite President Putin to meet with you in a mutually convenient place, in order to try to sort things out and prevent still worse for the people of Syria.

     

    In the wake of the carnage of World War II, Winston Churchill made an observation that is equally applicable to our 21st Century: “To jaw, jaw, jaw, is better than to war, war, war.”

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Fred Costello, Former Russian Linguist, USAF

Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry C. Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

John Kiriakou, former CIA counterterrorism officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East, CIA (ret.)

Todd Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Coleen Rowley, Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA, (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer

Ann Wright, U.S. Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former U.S. Diplomat

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 05, 2016, 02:54:08 PM
One option being considered in Washington is: "... bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships ... carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said."   Covertly?!!! - how on earth do they expect to do it covertly with the world's TV cameras pointed at it 24 hours a day?

In response the Russians have brought in more S-300 batteries (see below).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2016/10/04/obama-administration-considering-strikes-on-assad-again/ (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2016/10/04/obama-administration-considering-strikes-on-assad-again/)
Obama administration considering strikes on Assad, again
Josh Rogin
October 4 2016

U.S. military strikes against the Assad regime will be back on the table Wednesday at the White House, when top national security officials in the Obama administration are set to discuss options for the way forward in Syria. But there’s little prospect President Obama will ultimately approve them.

Inside the national security agencies, meetings have been going on for weeks to consider new options to recommend to the president to address the ongoing crisis in Aleppo, where Syrian and Russian aircraft continue to perpetrate the deadliest bombing campaign the city has seen since the five-year-old civil war began. A meeting of the Principals Committee, which includes Cabinet-level officials, is scheduled for Wednesday. A meeting of the National Security Council, which could include the president, could come as early as this weekend.

Last Wednesday, at a Deputies Committee meeting at the White House, officials from the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed limited military strikes against the regime as a means of forcing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to pay a cost for his violations of the cease-fire, disrupt his ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo, and raise the pressure on the regime to come back to the negotiating table in a serious way.
Two different drone views tell the tale of Syria

The options under consideration, which remain classified, include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships, an administration official who is part of the discussions told me. One proposed way to get around the White House’s long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said.

The CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represented in the Deputies Committee meeting by Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva, expressed support for such “kinetic” options, the official said. That marked an increase of support for striking Assad compared with the last time such options were considered.

“There’s an increased mood in support of kinetic actions against the regime,” one senior administration official said. “The CIA and the Joint Staff have said that the fall of Aleppo would undermine America’s counterterrorism goals in Syria.”

There’s still great skepticism, however, that the White House will approve military action. Other administration officials told The Post this week that Obama is no more willing to commit U.S. military force inside Syria than he was previously and that each of the military options being discussed have negative risks or consequences.

The State Department announced Monday that it was suspending bilateral channels of communication with Russia related to the failed cease-fire deal struck last month. The United States will now bring back all of the personnel from Geneva who have been waiting for weeks to begin a new project of military and intelligence cooperation with the Russians that was to accompany the cease-fire if it had held.
State Department: 'Russia failed to live up to its own commitments'

Two administration officials told me that the suspension was set to be announced last Friday, but Secretary of State John F. Kerry asked for a delay after speaking on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Kerry wanted more time to work out an extension of the cease-fire but failed, leaving the administration without a clear path forward.

Last week, Kerry was caught on tape telling a group of Syrian activists that he had argued for military strikes against the regime but that he “lost the argument.” Kerry had supported limited strikes against the regime in 2013 as punishment for Assad using chemical weapons against his own people. But while Congress was deliberating an authorization, the president withdrew his request and decided to strike a deal with Moscow instead.

This time around, Kerry has not favored using U.S. military force against the Assad regime, two administration officials said. He now prefers continued diplomacy with Russia, even in the face of what he says is Moscow’s willingness to “turn a blind eye” to, if not participate directly, in war crimes in Aleppo.

Kerry does support increasing pressure on the Assad regime, officials said.

The National Security Council’s senior coordinator for the Middle East, Rob Malley, and the president’s special envoy to the coalition for the fight against the Islamic State, Brett McGurk, are also said to be against any military escalation against the Assad regime, officials said. There’s no consensus on what options should be sent to the president’s desk. Other options include increased weapons for some Syrian rebel groups and an increase in the quality of such weapons, to allow rebels to defend Aleppo’s civilians.



https://www.rt.com/news/361586-russia-s300-supplied-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/news/361586-russia-s300-supplied-syria/)
Moscow delivers S-300 missile system to Syria for defense of Russian naval base
4 Oct, 2016

A battery of Russian S-300 air defense missile launchers has been transported to Syria, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. Its sole purpose is to defend a Russian naval base and warships, the ministry added.

The information about the S-300’s deployment was confirmed by ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

“Indeed, the Syrian Arab Republic received an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. This system is designed to ensure the safety of the naval base in [Syrian city of] Tartus and ships located in the coastal area [in Syria]…” he told the media.

Konashenkov said it is unclear why the deployment of the missile system has created such a fuss in the West.

“The S-300 is a purely defensive system and poses no threat,” he said.

He recalled that before the deployment of S-300, Russia had delivered Fort air defense missile systems to Syria.

The statement comes after a report by Fox news that a Russian S-300 was deployed to Syria. The media cited three US officials who claimed that Moscow “continues to ramp up its military operations in Syria.”

In November 2015, Moscow deployed its newest S-400 air defense missile system to Khmeimim in Syria as part of a security boost following the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey near the border with that country. At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the S-400 systems are not targeting Russia's partners, “with whom we fight terrorists in Syria together.”

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 06, 2016, 05:33:53 PM
Russia effectively declares a no-fly zone over territory controlled by the Syrian Government, with S400, S-300, S-200 and Buk anti-aircraft and anti-missile capabilities, with "the weapons reach may be “a surprise” to all unidentified flying objects."  As for 'stealth' aircraft, "And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality”.

https://www.rt.com/news/361800-russia-syria-usa-aistrikes/ (https://www.rt.com/news/361800-russia-syria-usa-aistrikes/)
‘S-300, S-400 air defenses in place’: Russian MoD warns US-led coalition not to strike Syrian army
6 Oct, 2016

Russia’s Defense Ministry has cautioned the US-led coalition of carrying out airstrikes on Syrian army positions, adding in Syria there are numerous S-300 and S-400 air defense systems up and running.

Russia currently has S-400 and S-300 air-defense systems deployed to protect its troops stationed at the Tartus naval supply base and the Khmeimim airbase. The radius of the weapons reach may be “a surprise” to all unidentified flying objects, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson General Igor Konashenkov said.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, any airstrike or missile hitting targets in territory controlled by the Syrian government would put Russian personnel in danger.

The defense official said that members of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria are working “on the ground” delivering aid and communicating with a large number of communities in Syria.

“Therefore, any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen.”

“Russian air defense system crews are unlikely to have time to determine in a ‘straight line’ the exact flight paths of missiles and then who the warheads belong to. And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality,”  Konashenkov added.

He also noted that Syria itself has S-200 as well as BUK systems, and their technical capabilities have been updated over the past year.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s statement came in response to what it called “leaks” in the Western media alleging that Washington is considering launching airstrikes against Syrian government forces.

“Of particular concern is information that the initiators of such provocations are representatives of the CIA and the Pentagon, who in September reported to the [US] President on the alleged controllability of ‘opposition’ fighters, but today are lobbying for ‘kinetic’ scenarios in Syria,” he said.

He cautioned Washington to conduct a “thorough calculation of the possible consequences of such plans.”

US-led coalition jets bombed positions of the Syrian government forces on September 17, resulting in the deaths of 83 servicemen. Washington said the airstrike was a mistake, however Damascus claimed the incident was a “blatant aggression.”

The relocation of the S-300 system in order to protect Russian ships and the naval base in Syria was confirmed by Russian defense officials on October 4. Konashenkov assured that the S-300 is a “purely defensive system and poses no threat.” Russia also has S-400 missile defense systems at Khmeimim base that were placed there after Turkey downed a Russian SU-24 jet in November of 2015.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 06, 2016, 06:40:58 PM
A warning to "those around the world who want to destroy our way of life ... we will stop you, and we will beat you harder than you’ve ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that.”

https://www.rt.com/usa/361849-army-chief-threatens-rivals-enemies/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/361849-army-chief-threatens-rivals-enemies/)
‘We will stop you…beat you’: US Army chief offers stark warning to potential rivals and enemies
6 Oct, 2016

The US Army Chief of Staff warned the enemies of the United States that “we will beat you harder than you’ve ever been beaten before.” The list of rivals and foes is predictably Russia, Iran and China. He also admitted that the US Army’s readiness to fight had been eroded recently.

The US Army Chief of Staff, Mark Milley delivered his remarks before the army’s annual meeting on Tuesday in Washington, DC, and said it was the military’s aim “to deter war but if deterrents fail we as an army, we as a nation must be prepared to fight.”

General Milley said deterrents were expensive but more expensive was fighting a war, and then fighting and winning a war but most expensive is fighting and losing a war.

“Our readiness to fight a war against a high-end, near peer adversary has eroded in the last 15 years as we fought and continue to fight against terrorists and guerillas in Afghanistan Iraq and elsewhere,” said Gen. Milley. “We were highly successful in ripping apart Saddam’s military in 1991, ejecting him from Kuwait and we shattered his army in 2003. Similarly, we destroyed the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in very short order.”

The general admitted they had problems consolidating gains and adapting to an insurgent fight, and that the army’s future was being jeopardized by budget cuts.

“Other countries - Russia, China, Iran, North Korea – went to school on us. They closely watched how we fought in ’91 and ’03. They studied our doctrine, our tactics, our equipment, our organization and our training and our leadership and in turn they revised their own doctrines and they are rapidly modernizing their military today to avoid our strengths and hopes of defeating us at some point in the future,” said General Millay.

Gen. Millay said the military had taken a number of steps over the last year to increase “our readiness in the total army,” with training and combat readiness.

“I want to be clear to those around the world who want to destroy our way of life, and that of our allies and friends,” said Gen. Millay. “The United States military, despite all our challenges, despite our off-tempo, despite everything we have been doing, will stop you, and we will beat you harder than you’ve ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 06, 2016, 06:58:06 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/361827-third-ship-syria-op/ (https://www.rt.com/news/361827-third-ship-syria-op/)
3rd Russian Black Sea fleet ship leaves for Mediterranean to join anti-ISIS op
6 Oct, 2016

(https://cdn.rt.com/files/2016.10/original/57f6464bc36188c22a8b4631.jpg)
Guided-missile corvette Mirazh of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol. © Vasiliy Batanov / Sputnik

A third Russian warship – the corvette ‘Mirage’ – has left the port of Sevastopol and set sail for the Mediterranean Sea to assist in Russia’s anti-Islamic State operations, the Russian Black Sea Fleet has confirmed.

“The fast-attack guided missile craft (FAC) of the Black Sea, ‘Mirage’, has left Sevastopol and set out on a long Mediterranean journey, after having completed a round of preparations,” the interim head of the information department for the Black Sea fleet, Captain 2nd-rank Nikolay Voskresensky said.

“It is planned that the vessel will go via Black Sea straits and enter the Mediterranean, where it will join the standing naval force of the Russian Fleet in the region,” he added.

The ‘Mirage’ is aimed at protecting sea communications and convoys, and can also fight attack vessels in coastal areas. It is equipped with Malakhit cruise missile launchers and the Osa-M air defense system and artillery.

‘Mirage’ is well-known due to its participation in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict back in 2008.

This month, ‘Mirage’ went on a two-week trip to the Mediterranean, taking part in the Black Sea drills.

The latest news about ‘Mirage’ comes just a day after the Russian Navy announced that two ships had joined the Russian sea force in Syria: the ‘Serpukhov’ and the ‘Zeleny Dol’.

In September, the Russian Navy said that the aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ would be joining up with the country’s naval group operating in the eastern Mediterranean as well, and is to set sail in the middle of October.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 09, 2016, 07:12:18 AM
https://www.rt.com/news/362090-lavrov-syria-us-terrorists/ (https://www.rt.com/news/362090-lavrov-syria-us-terrorists/)
No sign US is seriously battling Al-Nusra; calls not to fly over Aleppo suspicious – Lavrov
9 Oct, 2016

Russia can’t see that the US is seriously fighting militants from the Al-Nusra terrorist group in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that, though American fighter jets make a lot of flights, they don’t hit many targets.

Moscow “doesn’t see any facts that the US is seriously battling Al-Nusra [now known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham],” Lavrov said in an interview aired on Channel One Russia on Sunday.

Russia is also suspicious about Washington’s calls for Russia and the Syrian Air Force to cease their bombing runs against terrorists in Aleppo, the Russian Foreign Minister said.

“And it’s also suspicious that they call on us and the Syrian air force not to fly over Aleppo because, yes, the main force of Al-Nusra front is there, but there are also allegedly representatives of the ‘moderate opposition,’ who are surrounded and have nowhere to go except to Al-Nusra,” Lavrov said.

“So don’t touch Al-Nusra, because it is not humane in relation to the normal guys [‘moderate opposition’], and we will fight Al-Nusra later,” Lavrov said, as if mimicking Washington officials.

“And this ‘later’ never comes. [Washington] promised to separate these normal guys from Al-Nusra back in February,” he added.

Lavrov said that he has repeatedly asked US Secretary of State John Kerry if the US has some special plan for Al-Nusra Front.

“I asked Kerry if [the US] has some hidden plan to save Al-Nusra… so that at some point to make it a main force to overthrow Assad. He swore that this was untrue, and that they are really fighting Al-Nusra.”

Lavrov noted that, though US fighter jets frequently carry out attacks on Islamic State militants, the efficiency is quite low.

“US bombers very often return to the Incirlik Air Base [in Turkey] or to other bases they use, with unspent ammunition. There is a high frequency of flights, but the efficiency is very low. Some estimates put it at 15 to 20 percent,” he said.

On Saturday, the UN Security Council (UNSC) vetoed two rival resolutions proposed by Russia and France on dealing with the escalating situation in Syria, and the war-torn city of Aleppo, in particular.

The French proposal called for “upgraded” coordination of monitoring of the situation in Syria and reactivating the cessation of hostilities in Aleppo. One of the key points of the proposal was putting a halt to Syrian and Russian bombing raids in East Aleppo.

Russia, in turn, submitted a counter-resolution on Syria to the UNSC, in which Moscow called for bringing an immediate halt to the violence in war-ravaged Aleppo, but not for a ceasing anti-terrorist strikes there. Monitoring should then be evaluated by the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG), the document said. The proposal also stressed the urgent need to a separate the ‘moderate rebels’ from terrorist groups like Al-Nusra in Aleppo, as was agreed upon between Moscow and Washington on September 9 in Geneva.

Moscow has repeatedly insisted that any peace plan for Syria and Aleppo, in particular, will not bear fruit until the US-backed rebels clearly distance themselves from Al-Nusra.

Moscow is certain that Washington doesn’t want a military scenario in Syria, Lavrov said.

“I am sure that US Secretary of State john Kerry and President Barack Obama wouldn’t welcome such a move [military scenario]. Obama has repeatedly told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he stands for a political solution to the crisis,” he said.

Commenting on rumors recently appearing in the media claiming that Washington is planning to bomb Syrian army airfields, Lavrov said that Russia has assets to protect its two bases in Syria – the Khmeimim Air base and Tartus naval base.

“This is a very dangerous game, given that Russia, being in Syria at the invitation of the legitimate government of this country and having two bases there, has air defense systems there to protect its assets.”

US’ aggressive Russophobia behind suspension of plutonium disposal deal

Aggressive Russophobia, which affects Russia’s national interests and endangers its safety and security, prompted Moscow to suspend the Russia-US deal on plutonium disposal, Lavrov said.

We noticed “aggressive Russophobia,” which is now in the core policy of the US towards Russia, he said.

“It’s not rhetorical Russophobia, but aggressive steps which really concern own national interests and endanger our security. This NATO enlargement and [location of] NATO military infrastructure next to our borders…,” he said.

“This deployment of US heavy weapons [next to the Russian border]… and the deployment of a missile defense system – these are all a display of unfriendly, hostile actions,” Lavrov concluded.

According to the foreign minister, Russia will never use plutonium falling under the deal with the US for military purposes.

Russia suspended a post-Cold War deal with the US on disposal of plutonium from decommissioned nuclear warheads earlier in October. The decision was explained by “the hostile actions of the US” against Russia. It may be reversed, if such actions cease.

The treaty between the US and Russia, which regulates how the two countries are to dispose of plutonium from nuclear warheads decommissioned as part of a parallel reduction of the two countries’ Cold War arsenals, was signed in 2000. Each country is required to dispose of over 34 tons of fissile material by turning it into so-called MOX fuel and burning it in nuclear reactors.

However, the cost of building a facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, where the US was supposed to produce MOX fuel from its plutonium, spiraled out of control. Under the Obama administration, the US decided that it would use a cheaper reversible process instead, arguing that it was in line with the spirit of the deal with Russia.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 10, 2016, 08:36:18 PM
Turkish Stream is back on track and speeding up.  They even agree on getting rebels out of Aleppo - very odd.

https://www.rt.com/news/362285-putin-erdogan-turkey-meeting/ (https://www.rt.com/news/362285-putin-erdogan-turkey-meeting/)
Putin: Russia, Turkey call for urgent end to bloodshed in Syria
10 Oct, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have urged a swift end to the bloodshed in war-torn Syria, following talks between the two leaders in Istanbul on Monday.

“Both Russia and Turkey stand for the earliest cessation of bloodshed in Syria. In Russia we think that the switch to a political settlement must happen as soon as possible. We suppose that everybody, who wants peace, should support this proposal,” Putin said.

According to Putin, both Moscow and Ankara backed the proposal of UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, regarding the removal of militants from Aleppo.

“Together with the Turkish president we agreed to do everything to support de Mistura’s initiative on the withdrawal of military units, which refuse to lay down their arms, from Aleppo in order to end violence,” he said.

The Russian president said that he and Erdogan had agreed to strengthen contact between the countries’ militaries and intelligence agencies.

He added that Moscow is ready to develop large-scale military-technical cooperation with Ankara and the sides are now studying various projects.

The Turkish military operation in Syria and ways to cooperate in providing aid to civilians in the city of Aleppo were discussed during the talks in Istanbul on Monday, Erdogan said.

The Russian and Turkish militaries, as well as intelligence services and diplomats from the two countries, will continue to work together on the provision of humanitarian aid in Syria, he added.

“We thoroughly discussed the Syrian issue. We talked about the [Turkish] Euphrates Shield operation and evaluated ways we can cooperate in this direction. We specifically talked about what strategy we may choose in order to help, from a humanitarian point of view, the inhabitants who are in a dire situation, especially in Aleppo,” Erdogan said.

“We have a common stance [with Turkey] regarding what must be done to deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo. The issue is ensuring security for the deliveries of this cargo,” Putin said.

During the talks, the two leaders agreed to “speed up the work” on construction of such vital joint projects as the Turkish Stream gas pipeline and the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, the Turkish president said.

Before the two leaders addressed the media, an intergovernmental agreement on the Turkish Stream pipeline was signed in their presence.

Regarding the signing of the Turkish Stream pipeline deal, Putin said that Moscow and Ankara are moving forward with plans to create a major energy hub in Turkey.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 11, 2016, 01:02:17 AM
http://thesaker.is/russian-options-against-a-us-attack-on-syria/ (http://thesaker.is/russian-options-against-a-us-attack-on-syria/)
Russian options against a US attack on Syria
The Saker
October 05, 2016

This article was written for the Unz Review: http://www.unz.com/tsaker/russian-options-against-a-us-attack-on-syria/ (http://www.unz.com/tsaker/russian-options-against-a-us-attack-on-syria/)

The tensions between Russia and the USA have reached an unprecedented level. I fully agree with the participants of this CrossTalk show – the situation is even worse and more dangerous than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Both sides are now going to the so-called “Plan B” which, simply put, stand for, at best, no negotiations and, at worst, a war between Russia and the USA.

The key thing to understand in the Russian stance in this, an other, recent conflicts with the USA is that Russia is still much weaker than the USA and that she therefore does not want war. That does not, however, mean that she is not actively preparing for war. In fact, she very much and actively does. All this means is that should a conflict occur, Russia you try, as best can be, to keep it as limited as possible.

In theory, these are, very roughly, the possible levels of confrontation:

    A military standoff à la Berlin in 1961. One could argue that this is what is already taking place right now, albeit in a more long-distance and less visible way.
    A single military incident, such as what happened recently when Turkey shot down a Russian SU-24 and Russia chose not to retaliate.
    A series of localized clashes similar to what is currently happening between India and Pakistan.
    A conflict limited to the Syrian theater of war (say like the war between the UK and Argentina over the Malvinas Islands).
    A regional or global military confrontation between the USA and Russia.
    A full scale thermonuclear war between the USA and Russia

During my years as a student of military strategy I have participated in many exercises on escalation and de-escalation and I can attest that while it is very easy to come up with escalatory scenarios, I have yet to see a credible scenario for de-escalation. What is possible, however, is the so-called “horizontal escalation” or “asymmetrical escalation” in which one side choses not to up the ante or directly escalate, but instead choses a different target for retaliation, not necessarily a more valuable one, just a different one on the same level of conceptual importance (in the USA Joshua M. Epstein and Spencer D. Bakich did most of the groundbreaking work on this topic).

The main reason why we can expect the Kremlin to try to find asymmetrical options to respond to a US attack is that in the Syrian context Russia is hopelessly outgunned by the US/NATO, at least in quantitative terms. The logical solutions for the Russians is to use their qualitative advantage or to seek “horizontal targets” as possible retaliatory options. This week, something very interesting and highly uncharacteristic happened: Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Chief of the Directorate of Media service and Information of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, openly mentioned one such option. Here is what he said:

    “As for Kirby’s threats about possible Russian aircraft losses and the sending of Russian servicemen back to Russia in body bags, I would say that we know exactly where and how many “unofficial specialists” operate in Syria and in the Aleppo province and we know that they are involved in the operational planning and that they supervise the operations of the militants. Of course, one can continue to insist that they are unsuccessfully involved in trying to separate the al-Nusra terrorists from the “opposition” forces. But if somebody tries to implement these threats, it is by no means certain that these militants will have to time to get the hell out of there.”

Nice, no? Konashenkov appears to be threatening the “militants” but he is sure to mention that there are plenty of “unofficial specialists” amongst these militants and that Russia knows exactly where they are and how many of them there are. Of course, officially, Obama has declared that there are a few hundred such US special advisors in Syria. A well-informed Russian source suggests that there are up to 5’000 foreign ‘advisors’ to the Takfiris including about 4’000 Americans. I suppose that the truth is somewhere between these two figures.

So the Russian threat is simple: you attack us and we will attack US forces in Syria. Of course, Russia will vehemently deny targeting US servicemen and insist that the strike was only against terrorists, but both sides understand what is happening here. Interestingly, just last week the Iranian Fars news agency reported that such a Russian attack had already happened:

    30 Israeli, Foreign Intelligence Officers Killed in Russia’s Caliber Missile Attack in Aleppo:

    “The Russian warships fired three Caliber missiles at the foreign officers’ coordination operations room in Dar Ezza region in the Western part of Aleppo near Sam’an mountain, killing 30 Israeli and western officers,” the Arabic-language service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency quoted battlefield source in Aleppo as saying on Wednesday. The operations room was located in the Western part of Aleppo province in the middle of sky-high Sam’an mountain and old caves. The region is deep into a chain of mountains. Several US, Turkish, Saudi, Qatari and British officers were also killed along with the Israeli officers. The foreign officers who were killed in the Aleppo operations room were directing the terrorists’ attacks in Aleppo and Idlib.”

Whether this really happened or whether the Russians are leaking such stories to indicate that this could happen, the fact remains that US forces in Syria could become an obvious target for Russian retaliation, whether by cruise missile, gravity bombs or direct action operation by Russian special forces. The US also has several covert military installations in Syria, including at least one airfield with V-22 Osprey multi-mission tiltrotor aircraft.

Another interesting recent development has been the Fox News report that Russians are deploying S-300V (aka “SA-23 Gladiator anti-missile and anti-aircraft system”) in Syria. Check out this excellent article for a detailed discussion of the capabilities of this missile system. I will summarize it by saying that the S-300V can engage ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, very low RCS (“stealth”) aircraft and AWACS aircraft. This is an Army/Army Corps -level air defense system, well capable of defending most of the Syrian airspace, but also reach well into Turkey, Cyprus, the eastern Mediterranean and Lebanon. The powerful radars of this system could not only detect and engage US aircraft (including “stealth”) at a long distance, but they could also provide a tremendous help for the few Russian air superiority fighters by giving them a clear pictures of the skies and enemy aircraft by using encrypted datalinks. Finally, US air doctrine is extremely dependent on the use of AWACS aircraft to guide and support US fighters. The S-300V will forces US/NATO AWACS to operate at a most uncomfortable distance. Between the longer-range radars of the Russian Sukhois, the radars on the Russian cruisers off the Syrian coast, and the S-300 and S-300V radars on the ground, the Russians will have a much better situational awareness than their US counterparts.

It appears that the Russians are trying hard to compensate for their numerical inferiority by deploying high-end systems for which the US has no real equivalent or good counter-measures.

There are basically two options of deterrence: denial, when you prevent your enemy from hitting his targets and retaliation, when you make the costs of an enemy attack unacceptably high for him. The Russians appear to be pursuing both tracks at the same time. We can thus summarize the Russian approach as such

    Delay a confrontation as much as possible (buy time).
    Try to keep any confrontation at the lowest possible escalatory level.
    If possible, reply with asymmetrical/horizontal escalations.
    Rather then “prevail” against the US/NATO – make the costs of attack too high.
    Try to put pressure on US “allies” in order to create tensions inside the Empire.
    Try to paralyze the USA on a political level by making the political costs of an attack too high-end.
    Try to gradually create the conditions on the ground (Aleppo) to make a US attack futile

To those raised on Hollywood movies and who still watch TV, this kind of strategy will elicit only frustration and condemnation. There are millions of armchair strategists who are sure that they could do a much better job than Putin to counter the US Empire. These folks have now been telling us for *years* that Putin “sold out” the Syrians (and the Novorussians) and that the Russians ought to do X, Y and Z to defeat the AngloZionist Empire. The good news is that none of these armchair strategists sit in the Kremlin and that the Russians have stuck to their strategy over the past years, one day at a time, even when criticized by those who want quick and “easy” solutions. But the main good news is that the Russian strategy is working. Not only is the Nazi-occupied Ukraine quite literally falling apart, but the US has basically run out of options in Syria (see this excellent analysis by my friend Alexander Mercouris in the Duran).

The only remaining logical steps left for the USA in Syria is to accept Russia’s terms or leave. The problem is that I am not at all convinced that the Neocons, who run the White House, Congress and the US corporate media, are “rational” at all. This is why the Russians employed so many delaying tactics and why they have acted with such utmost caution: they are dealing with professional incompetent ideologues who simply do not play by the unwritten but clear rules of civilized international relations. This is what makes the current crisis so much worse than even the Cuban Missile Crisis: one superpower has clearly gone insane.

Are the Americans crazy enough to risk WWIII over Aleppo?

Maybe, maybe not. But what if we rephrase that question and ask

Are the Americans crazy enough to risk WWIII to maintain their status as the “world’s indispensable nation”, the “leader of the free world”, the “city on the hill” and all the rest of this imperialistic nonsense?

Here I would submit that yes, they potentially are.

After all, the Neocons are correct when they sense that if Russia gets away with openly defying and defeating the USA in Syria, nobody will take the AngloZionists very seriously any more.

How do you think the Neocons think when they see the President of the Philippines publicly calling Obama a “son of a whore” and then tells the EU to go and “f*ck itself”?

Of course, the Neocons can still find some solace in the abject subservience of the European political elites, but still – they know that he writing is on the wall and that their Empire is rapidly crumbling, not only in Syria, the Ukraine or Asia, but even inside the USA. The biggest danger here is that the Neocons might try to rally the nation around the flag, either by staging yet another false flag or by triggering a real international crisis.

At this point in time all we can do is wait and hope that there is enough resistance inside the US government to prevent a US attack on Syria before the next Administration comes in. And while I am no supporter of Trump, I would agree that Hillary and her evil cabal of russophobic Neocons is so bad that Trump does give me some hope, at least in comparison to Hillary.

So if Trump wins, then Russia’s strategy will be basically justified. Once Trump is on the White House, there is at least the possibility of a comprehensive redefinition of US-Russian relations which would, of course, begin with a de-escalation in Syria: while Obama/Hillary categorically refuse to get rid of Daesh (by that I mean al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and all their various denominations), Trump appears to be determined to seriously fight them, even if that means that Assad stays in power. There is most definitely a basis for dialog here. If Hillary comes in, then the Russians will have to make an absolutely crucial call: how important is Syria in the context of their goal to re-sovereignize Russia and to bring down the AngloZionist Empire? Another way of formulating the same question is “would Russia prefer a confrontation with the Empire in Syria or in the Ukraine?”.

One way to gauge the mood in Russia is to look at the language of a recent law proposed by President Putin and adopted by the Duma which dealt with the issue of the Russia-US Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) which, yet again, saw the US yet again fail to deliver on their obligations and which Russia has now suspended. What is interesting, is the language chosen by the Russians to list the conditions under which they would resume their participation in this agreement and, basically, agree to resume any kind of arms negotiations:

    A reduction of military infrastructure and the number of the US troops stationed on the territory of NATO member states that joined the alliance after September 1, 2000, to the levels at which they were when the original agreement first entered into force.
    The abandonment of the hostile policy of the US towards Russia, which should be carried out with the abolition of the Magnitsky Act of 2012 and the conditions of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which were directed against Russia.
    The abolition of all sanctions imposed by the US on certain subjects of the Russian Federation, Russian individuals and legal entities.
    The compensation for all the damages suffered by Russia as a result of the imposition of sanctions.
    The US is also required to submit a clear plan for irreversible plutonium disposition covered by the PMDA.

Now the Russians are not delusional. They know full well that the USA will never accept such terms. So what is this really all about? It is a diplomatic but unambiguous way to tell the USA the exact same thing which Philippine President Duterte (and Victoria Nuland) told the EU.

The Americans better start paying attention.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 11, 2016, 09:26:26 PM
RT puts the boot in on US blatant hypocrisy.

https://www.rt.com/usa/362443-saudi-yemen-russia-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/362443-saudi-yemen-russia-syria/)
‘It’s different’: US justifies Saudi ‘self-defense’ in Yemen, slams Russia’s actions in Syria
12 Oct, 2016

The US says Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen was an act of “self-defense” against Iranian missiles on its border. While there are similarities with the Syrian conflict, Washington sees “differences” between the deaths of over 150 civilians, blamed on Riyadh, and the situation in Aleppo.

“It is different,” the State Department’s John Kirby has told AP’s Matt Lee, when asked whether Capitol Hill sees a difference between the recent attack in Yemen and “what you accuse the Russians and the Syrians and the Iranians of doing in Syria, particularly Aleppo?”

The question specifically referred to an airstrike that targeted a funeral service in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, killing more than 150 civilians and injuring over 525.

Located on opposite sides of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syria bear few similarities, but have one thing in common: a civil conflict between their governments and rebels, which later evolved into larger-scale wars, with the intervention of foreign forces. However, the rules of the game appear to be different for each case.

For the State Department, the Saudi pledge to investigate the bombing seems to offer some reduction in the significance of its actions.

“The Saudis publicly said that they were going to investigate this as – for the potential of it being, in fact, wrongly implemented and wrongly executed,” Kirby said. That is something, he added, he hasn’t seen the Syrian army or the Russian military do “not once.”

When asked about Russia’s recent demand for an investigation into an attack on a humanitarian convoy in Syria, Kirby said “it’s not exactly been a clarion call.”

Addressing the attack in Sana’a, the UN called the bombing “outrageous” and pointed out constant strikes, specifically at places of mass congregation, which lacked proper recourse.

“Since the beginning of this conflict in Yemen, weddings, marketplaces, hospitals, schools – and now mourners at a funeral – have been hit, resulting in massive civilian casualties and zero accountability for those responsible,” the UN said in a statement Monday.

Yet, when it comes to Saudi Arabia and its intervention in Yemen, the State Department said it is important to remember that Riyadh has a “pressing requirement for self-defense” because of threats it faces from Iranian missiles launched by Houthi rebels near the border.

However, there is no similar judgment regarding Syria, where rebel groups along with Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists presumably hold people at gunpoint in Aleppo.

Kirby accused Moscow and the Assad forces of “a concerted” and “very deliberate” effort to take “to subdue” the city by force.

As RT learned from locals still living in western Aleppo, it was not Russian forces that terrified them.

“Some people managed to escape, but rebels snipers are shooting at them when they see them,” a man told RT. “They don’t let civilians leave.”

A woman said that everyone trying to get water from a well was also shot at while children described shells destroying their house.

RT has asked the State Department to comment on whether the people were effectively being “held” in Aleppo.

“I can’t confirm that report. You know I don’t get into battlefield reports; I’m not going to do that,” Kirby. “And your question about being held hostage, there should be – and I’ve seen reports that they’re allowed to leave,” he added, blaming the Syrian government and the Russian military.

The Department’s spokesman also declined to speak about Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists, who remain in the area along with anti-Assad rebels. Moscow has unsuccessfully been asking the US to dissociate terrorists from the so-called moderate opposition.

Kirby says it’s unlikely they would want to leave Aleppo, hinting that the responsibility also lay with Russia.

“They’re not likely to want to leave while they’re continuing to be bombed,” he said.

When specifically asked whether it was America’s strategy to let Al-Qaeda run the area, Kirby declined to answer.

Washington has been supplying rebels with arms, some of which it has admitted ended up in the hands on terrorists.

In September, a US military spokesman said that rebels surrendered six pick-up trucks and about one-quarter of their ammunition to Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front, now known as Jabhat Fatah al Sham, in exchange for safe passage.

When it comes to Yemen, the US also played, though indirectly, its part in the conflict aiding Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners with weapons, often used in attacks targeting civilians. Following the airstrike, the White House said it would reassess its help to Saudi Arabia.

Despite massive casualties and some opposition among lawmakers, US-Saudi arms sales have been thriving with the Senate just recently blocking a bipartisan bill that would stop the deal with Riyadh.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 12, 2016, 05:46:06 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/362554-putin-west-syria-war/ (https://www.rt.com/news/362554-putin-west-syria-war/)
Putin: West responsible for Middle East instability and terrorism in Europe
12 Oct, 2016

Washington and its allies are using the Syrian crisis to play politics, instead of providing real solutions, Vladimir Putin told French TV. He said that Moscow has put forward an offer to send troops to safeguard aid convoys in Aleppo, while the West accuses Moscow of committing war crimes.

“This is political rhetoric that does not have great significance and does not take into account the real situation in Syria,” Putin told French TV channel TF1 during an interview in the central Russian city of Kovrov, when asked about the accusations that have been leveled by Francois Hollande, UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, and the Obama administration.

Putin then accused the West of destabilizing the region – citing the Arab Spring in 2011 as a key flashpoint for tensions that still dominate the Muslim world.

“I believe deeply that some of the responsibility for what is happening in the region in general and in Syria in particular lies especially with our western partners, above all the USA and its allies, including the main European countries,” said Putin. “Remember how everyone rushed to support the Arab Spring? Where is that optimism now? How did it all end? Remember what Libya or Iraq looked like before these countries and their organizations were destroyed as states by our western partners’ forces?”

Putin linked the volatility in the region to the recent spate of large-scale terrorist attacks in the West, which have either been planned or inspired by jihadist groups such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), which have thrived in the chaos.

“[Before the Arab Spring] these Middle Eastern countries were not examples of democracies as we understand the word today, and there probably was a need and possibility to influence these societies’ organization, the state organization, and the nature of these regimes,” said Putin, who was attending a festival dedicated to Sambo, a Russian combat sport.

“But whatever the case, these states showed no signs of terrorism. They were not a threat for Paris, for the Cote d’Azur, for Belgium, for Russia, or for the United States. Now, they are the source of terrorist threats. Our goal is to prevent the same from happening in Syria.”

Putin also detailed his version of the breakdown of the long-negotiated joint operation between Washington and Moscow in Syria, claiming the key turning point was the September 16 US-led coalition strike on a Syrian army unit, which the Pentagon maintains was accident.

“Our American colleagues told us that this airstrike was made in error. This error cost the lives of 80 people and, also just coincidence, perhaps, ISIS took the offensive immediately afterwards. At the same time, lower down the ranks, at the operations level, one of the American military service personnel said quite frankly that they spent several days preparing this strike. How could they make an error if they were several days in preparation?” said Putin. “This is how our ceasefire agreement ended up broken. Who broke the agreement? Was it us? No.”

Several western powers have since blamed Russia for what they claim was a retaliatory strike on a UN convoy on September 20. Washington has now broken off any bilateral talks with Moscow over Syria.

But Putin says that Russia is still open to helping resolve what the UN has termed the worst humanitarian crisis since the war – which has likely killed over 400,000 people – began five years ago.

“It has been proposed that our armed units, Russian military personnel, be deployed on the road to ensure transit safety [for aid convoys to Aleppo]. The Russian military, who are courageous and decisive people, have said they would do it,” said Putin, who said that the initiative, which had not previously been made public, was an “exotic proposal.”

“But I told them that this could only be done jointly with the US, and ordered them to make the proposal. We have proposed this, and they [the Americans] promptly refused. They do not want to deploy their troops there, but they also do not want to pull back opposition groups – who are, in fact, terrorists. What can we do in this situation?”

Despite the downbeat tone of the interview, Putin insisted he was still “optimistic” about a diplomatic solution in Syria, and claimed that the offer to “reschedule” next week’s visit to France, which was canceled following a diplomatic snub by Francois Hollande, was genuine.

“This is not the best moment for official meetings, given the lack of mutual understanding, to put it mildly, that we have over events in Syria, particularly the situation in Aleppo. But we are always open, of course, to any consultations and dialogue on this matter,” said Putin.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 12, 2016, 05:57:25 PM
If that's not an admission that ISIS is a Saudi creation, and being used by the US against Syria, I don't know what is.

https://www.rt.com/news/362559-syria-iraq-mosul-isis/ (https://www.rt.com/news/362559-syria-iraq-mosul-isis/)
US, Saudis to grant 9,000 ISIS fighters free passage from Iraqi Mosul to Syria – source
12 Oct, 2016

The US and Saudi Arabia have agreed to grant free passage to thousands of Islamic State militants before the Iraqi city of Mosul is stormed. The jihadists will be redeployed to fight against the government in Syria, a military-diplomatic source told RIA Novosti.

"More than 9,000 Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) militants will be redeployed from Mosul to the eastern regions of Syria to carry out a major offensive operation, which involves capturing Deir ez-Zor and Palmyra,” the source said.

According to the anonymous diplomatic source, US President Barack Obama has already sanctioned an operation to liberate Mosul, due to take place in October.

During the storm of the city in northern Iraq the US-led coalition’s planes would only strike detached, vacated or uninhabited buildings, while keeping terrorists as targets, he said.

In September, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter confirmed that Washington would send an additional 600 troops to Iraq to help liberate Mosul at the request of the local authorities.

The source suggested that redeployment of IS militants is necessary because “Washington must somehow counter Russia’s achievements in Syria, try to diminish their importance.”

"Apart from the purely political dividends, the other purpose of this operation, obviously, will be to discredit the success of Russian Airspace forces. And, of course, it’s an attempt to undermine Syrian President (Bashar) Assad,” he said.

The leadership of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate will be the mediators and guarantors of the agreement on safe passage for the jihadists from Mosul, he claimed.

The source added that a similar scheme had been used by the US and its allies during the liberation of the Iraqi city of Fallujah.

Damascus has accused Washington for coordinating with IS after an airstrike against the Syrian government troops near the city of Deir ez-Zor on September 17. Washington said that the bombing, in which 83 soldiers were killed and over 100 injured, was a mistake.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 12, 2016, 11:07:16 PM
US disapproval of Saudi airstrikes didn't last long, did it?  Not only do they sell them the planes, maintain them, train the pilots, sell them the munitions and refuel the planes in-flight, but they also have to hang around in warships off the Yemeni coastline for "intelligence" purposes and targeting assistance.  And when, as a clear combatant force, they are fired upon by Yemeni missiles (which missed), they fire back with cruise missiles.  But only because there was "little risk" of hitting any civilians, of course.  And we know this because ... they said so.

https://www.rt.com/usa/362582-yemen-radar-sites-airstrikes/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/362582-yemen-radar-sites-airstrikes/)
"Limited self-defense strikes": US military destroys 3 ‘radar sites’ in Yemen
13 Oct, 2016

The US military has carried out a series of “limited self-defence strikes” in Yemen, the Pentagon has announced. The attack, authorized by President Obama, was carried out in retaliation to recent attacks on the US naval destroyer, USS Mason.

According to the Pentagon’s initial assessments, three “radar sites” in the Houthi rebel-controlled area of Yemen were destroyed in the attack.

The attack on coastal targets was carried out by Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the destroyer USS Nitze, NPR reported. According to US officials all targets were “in remote areas, where there was little risk of civilian casualties or collateral damage.”

“These limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships, and our freedom of navigation in this important maritime passageway,” the statement reads.

President Barack Obama authorized the strikes on the recommendation of Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Joseph Dunford, Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.

The US military vowed to respond to “any further threat to our ships and commercial traffic.”

Earlier on Wednesday, USS Mason fell under fire for the second time in four days. At least one rocket was fired at the destroyer, causing “no damage to the ship or its crew,” Cook said.

Until now Washington, a major ally of Saudi Arabia, has limited its engagement in Yemen to intelligence sharing, reconnaissance and aerial refueling of Saudi-led coalition jets. The US has also supplied weapons to Saudi Arabia.

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CuiAXBxXgAAGcfS.jpg)

Fragments of US-supplied munitions were recently found at the scene of a Saudi strike on a mourning hall in the Yemeni capital Sana’a.

Human Rights groups have repeatedly criticized the US and the UK for supplying arms to Saudi Arabia which continues to bomb civilian targets in Yemen. Critics continue to accuse the Saudi-led coalition of using cluster munitions, which are banned in most countries.

Last year Noble Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama authorized US forces to provide support to the Saudi-led coalition by creating a “Joint Planning Cell.” The State Department admitted to providing the Saudis with “intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, advisory and logistical support”.

“As part of that effort, we have expedited weapons deliveries, we have increased our intelligence sharing, and we have established a joint coordination planning cell in the Saudi operation centre,” Deputy Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in April 2015.

However, in light of heavy civilian casualties and international pressure, Washington has promised to “reconsider” its assistance to Riyadh.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 12, 2016, 11:28:24 PM
What made a Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey come out with a big statement like this?  Obviously he was just "floating" the idea of WW3, and since he is only DPM he can be ignored as "not in the loop" if later on things change, but the signal is still sent, and received.

https://www.rt.com/news/362572-us-russia-syria-proxy-war/ (https://www.rt.com/news/362572-us-russia-syria-proxy-war/)
Russia & US will engage in ‘global war’, unless ‘proxy’ Syria conflict resolved – Turkey’s deputy PM
12 Oct, 2016

The Syrian conflict has now become a “proxy war” between the two Cold War superpowers, believes Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Numan Kurtulmus, who warned that that the conflict could escalate beyond the Middle East.

“If this proxy war continues, after this, let me be clear, America and Russia will come to a point of war,” Kurtulmus told the state’s Anadolu news agency, adding that the world was “on the brink of the beginning of a large regional or global war.”

Kurtulmus described the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad as a “pawn” in the conflict, and urged it to seek peace, claiming that there would be no way to overcome the alliance of forces that opposes it.

The politician insisted that Assad has no place in any future political system in the country, as the opposition will “not negotiate with a bloody dictatorship.”

Turkey has been one of the leading advocates of Assad’s removal since the conflict, which has resulted in more than 400,000 deaths, broke out in 2011.

But Russia, a staunch Syria ally, which has intervened in the conflict at the request of Damascus, has refused to contemplate Assad’s unilateral removal unless Syrian people decide so.

In an interview with French television broadcast on Wednesday night, Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated that the Syrian president would agree to develop a new, more democratic and inclusive constitution, and overhaul the political system – but only if he was allowed to stand in a future election.

“If the people do not vote for President Assad, there will be a democratic change of power, but without the help of armed intervention from outside and under strict international control, under UN supervision. I do not understand who could find this proposal unacceptable. It is a democratic solution to the question of power in the country,” said Putin.

Meanwhile, calls in the West have grown louder for Russia and Syria to be punished for alleged war crimes, pertaining to the ongoing battle between government and rebel forces in the key city of Aleppo, in the north of Syria.

French President Francois Hollande called for the International Criminal Court to investigate Russia, and curtailed his involvement in a planned diplomatic visit to France by Putin, who has since “rescheduled” his trip. UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has also urged punishment, echoing similar accusations from senior US officials.

A proposed joint cooperation deal between Moscow and Washington was scuppered last month, following a US airstrike on a Syrian army unit, which Pentagon says was accidental, and a bombing of a UN aid convoy, which most Western powers insist was carried out by Russia, which denies responsibility.

Top diplomats from Russia, the US, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran will meet in Lausanne in Switzerland this weekend to try and hammer out a new framework for peace.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on October 12, 2016, 11:57:10 PM
US disapproval of Saudi airstrikes didn't last long, did it?  Not only do they sell them the planes, maintain them, train the pilots, sell them the munitions and refuel the planes in-flight, but they also have to hang around in warships off the Yemeni coastline for "intelligence" purposes and targeting assistance.  And when, as a clear combatant force, they are fired upon by Yemeni missiles (which missed), they fire back with cruise missiles.  But only because there was "little risk" of hitting any civilians, of course.  And we know this because ... they said so.

The question is, when will one of these cruise missiles actually HIT the target and sink it?

A few hundred (thousand in the case of a carrier) dead Swabbies and a few $Million$ ($Billion$ for a carrier) down at the bottom of Davey Jones Locker will have J6P foaming at the mouth to go bomb the towel heads back to the stone age.

It is kind of remarkable to me that up to now even with all the various missiles available that have a few hundred mile range and can be moved about on trucks that nobody has yet hit an FSoA Navy ship, which is a fucking sitting duck in the Persian Gulf.

One of these things has to hit the target eventually.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 13, 2016, 12:49:23 AM
Quote
The question is, when will one of these cruise missiles actually HIT the target and sink it?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Mason_(DDG-87)

(https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/98/USS_Mason_%28DDG-87%29%2C_January_2005.jpg)

USS Mason (DDG-87) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.  [US$1.843 billion]

On 9 October 2016 Mason, operating near the Bab-el-Mandeb strait off the coast of war-torn Yemen was targeted by two missiles fired from Houthi-controlled territory. Both missiles fell short and crashed into the water.[7][8] The Houthi insurgency denied launching the attack on the warship.[9] Mason was deployed to the Yemeni coast along with two other US ships in response to an earlier Houthi attack on a UAE high-speed ship.[10] The United States Naval Institute reported that Mason fired two SM-2 Standard missiles and one RIM-162 ESSM missile to intercept the two missiles as well as deploying its Nulka missile decoy. One of two U.S. defense officials cited anonymously added that it was not clear whether the incoming missiles had been shot down or crashed into the water on their own.[11]

On 12 October 2016 Mason was again targeted by several missiles from the territory of Yemen, forcing the destroyer to fire defensive missile salvos. The Yemeni missiles did not reach their target and no damage or casualties were reported.[12] This marked the first instance of ship-based missiles being fired from vertical launching cells in combat in response to an actual inbound missile threat.[13] On 13 October 2016, the US attacked three radar sites in Houthi-held territory which had been involved in the earlier missile attacks with cruise missiles launched from USS Nitze, the Pentagon assessed that all three sites were destroyed.[14]
=====

So the Mason was forced to defend itself on both occasions, and hasn't claimed it shot the missiles down.  The retaliatory attack was by Nitze (also an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, but with AEGIS) - result: 3 radar sites "assessed" as destroyed.

I don't know what kind of missiles the Yemenis would have, but surely not Russian supersonic, swerving, anti-ship cruise missiles.  They could have been ancient Scuds for all we know.  Still, the UAE ship fled, to be replaced with $3.6+ billion's worth of kit.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Petty Tyrant on October 13, 2016, 04:14:39 AM
https://southfront.org/houthi-forces-destroyed-us-made-military-vessel-leased-by-uae/

Check also live leaks story,  there are several others destroyed.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 13, 2016, 07:24:17 AM
Oh right, I remember now.  The report I saw said the ship was towed away for repairs.  I didn't realise it was a former US Navy ship.  It looks like a block of flats and is unarmed.  The Houthis say it sank, and they also say it was a Noor anti-ship cruise missile, which was built by Iran around 2000, copying the Chinese C-802.  Hezbollah used one to hit an Israeli warship blockading the Lebanese coast in 2006.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Petty Tyrant on October 13, 2016, 03:36:44 PM
This could be the end of the road for me, because I identify sexually as an Exocet Missile. Probably obsolete now, so I might dodge the draft after all, all you explodophobes will have to check your spontaneous combustion privilege and put up with me.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 13, 2016, 05:04:34 PM
Quote
UB: ... I identify sexually as an Exocet Missile. Probably obsolete now ...

Yes, the good old Exocet is well past its use by date.  The Noor has gone through at least 5 upgrades since the Mark 1. 

Still, this does show that Iran is actively assisting Yemen with supplying sophisticated weapons, even if they are out of date.  I think that's a first.

Now Iran is sending two "fleets" of warships to the Yemeni coast, using mirror-image wording of the US's reason for being there.

https://www.rt.com/news/362643-iran-warships-yemen-aden/ (https://www.rt.com/news/362643-iran-warships-yemen-aden/)
Iranian warships deployed off Yemen coast after US bombs Houthi targets
13 Oct, 2016

Iran has deployed a fleet of warships to the Gulf of Aden, the republic's naval commander has confirmed. The deployment follows US cruise missile strikes on Yemeni positions thought to be under Houthi rebel control.

The Iranian Navy has sent the warships to international waters for a mission that includes entering the area off the southern coast of Yemen, Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari confirmed on Wednesday. The area is among the world’s busiest maritime trade routes. 

“The fleet will provide security to sea ways for Iranian vessels and protect Iran’s interests on the high seas", Sayyari told Press TV.

“The 34th Fleet is comprised of the Bushehr logistic vessel and Alborz destroyer, and will conduct a three-month mission.”

The commander said the fleet had departed from the southern port city of Bandar Abbas in Iran. He dismissed claims the fleet has been deployed to intervene in the conflict in Yemen.

Iranian ships have been tasked with providing security for civil boat traffic and protecting commercial vessels and oil tankers from pirates in the region, the rear admiral told Iranian television on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia, which has fought a long war with Yemen’s Houthi rebels, accuses Iran of supporting the group – a charge denied by Tehran.

“The Iranians have a permanent presence in that part of the world ... [as] there is a lot of instability in the Red Sea and Iranian ships are there to prevent pirates from boarding Iranian ships and they've been doing that for a number of years now, having also protected the ships of other countries,” political analyst and Tehran university professor Mohammad Marandi told RT, adding that the “real problem is the US presence” in the region.

The US military carried out “limited self-defense strikes” in Yemen on Thursday, in retaliation for recent attacks on an American naval destroyer, USS Mason, which has been operating north of the Bab Al-Mandab Strait.

According to the Pentagon’s initial assessments, three “radar sites” in the Houthi rebel-controlled area of Yemen were destroyed in the attack.

The attack on coastal targets was carried out by Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the destroyer USS Nitze, NPR reported.

The Houthis have denied carrying out the attack, however. A military source reportedly told Saba news agency – a media outlet run by the group – that the assault did not come from areas under its control.

“These allegations are unfounded and the army as well popular forces have nothing to do with this action,” the source said.

“The US allegations just came in the context of creating false justifications to pave the way for Saudi-led coalition to escalate their… attacks against Yemen and to cover for crimes continually committed by the aggression coalition against the Yemeni people and to continue an all-out blockade,” the spokesman added.

He said the army is ready to confront any future aggression against the country, whatever the justification.
Title: You SUNK my Battleship!
Post by: RE on October 13, 2016, 05:27:20 PM
Quote
UB: ... I identify sexually as an Exocet Missile. Probably obsolete now ...

Yes, the good old Exocet is well past its use by date.  The Noor has gone through at least 5 upgrades since the Mark 1. 

Still, this does show that Iran is actively assisting Yemen with supplying sophisticated weapons, even if they are out of date.  I think that's a first.

Now Iran is sending two "fleets" of warships to the Yemeni coast, using mirror-image wording of the US's reason for being there.

An ancillary benefit here is that Iranian ships in the neighborhood can provide targeting data to Houthi rebels on the ground even if their ground based radar stations are destroyed.

So the FSoA needs to get rid of Iranian ships along with the radar stations.

Somebody's Battleship is going to get sunk here pretty soon.

http://www.youtube.com/v/PrHs8CWDzmc

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 13, 2016, 07:04:00 PM
Russia and China seem to have decided to stand up to US hegemony, and this has emboldened Iran, Syria, Yemen, and to some extent Turkey, Iraq and Philippines.  Meanwhile South Korea and Japan are flexing their muscles over disputed islands, and Saudi Arabia continues doing its own Wahhabist thing in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere in Africa.  For the US this must be tricky to handle.

Only 3 out of 9 aircraft carriers are currently deployed, 1 in the Persian Gulf, 1 in Western Pacific and 1 in the Caribbean.

http://www.gonavy.jp/CVLocation.html (http://www.gonavy.jp/CVLocation.html)

Deployed
CVN-69 Dwight D. Eisenhower 27Sep-11Oct2016, Persian Gulf
CVN-76 Ronald Reagan            28Sep-11Oct2016, WestPac
CVN-73 George Washington    05Oct-11Oct2016, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response operations in the Caribbean Sea

Not deployed
CVN-68 Nimitz                             10Oct2016, pulled in to San Diego (home port)
CVN-70 Carl Vinson                   15Sep2016, returned to San Diego (home port)
CVN-71 Theodore Roosevelt   09Mar2016, returned to San Diego (home port)
CVN-77 George H.W. Bush      03Oct2016, returned to Norfolk (home port)
CVN-72 Abraham Lincoln         Nov2016, Newport, RCOH is scheduled to be completed
CVN-75 Harry S. Truman          25Aug2016, entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Va., for 10-month PIA
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 13, 2016, 09:19:22 PM
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-13/obama-decide-friday-military-action-syria (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-13/obama-decide-friday-military-action-syria)
Obama To Decide Friday On Military Action In Syria
Tyler Durden
Oct 13, 2016

Two weeks ago when the US broke off bilateral relations with Russia over the ongoing Syrian proxy war, we reported that as part of America's "next steps" would be a discussion on military options. As Reuters reported then, the "discussions were being held at "staff level," and have yet to produce any recommendations to President Barack Obama, who has resisted ordering military action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the country's multi-sided civil war. "The president has asked all of the agencies to put forward options, some familiar, some new, that we are very actively reviewing," Blinken said. "When we are able to work through these in the days ahead we'll have an opportunity to come back and talk about them in detail."

Fast forward to today, when as Reuters once again reports, the time has come for the US to make a decision: on Friday President Barack Obama and his top foreign policy advisers are expected to meet to consider their military and other options in Syria as Syrian and Russian aircraft continue to pummel Aleppo and other targets.

The tensions here are well known: some of the more hawkish "top officials" told Reuters that the United States must act more forcefully in Syria or "risk losing what influence it still has over moderate rebels and its Arab, Kurdish and Turkish allies in the fight against Islamic State." Naturally, this means that one set of options includes direct U.S. military action such as air strikes on Syrian military bases, munitions depots or radar and anti-aircraft bases.

That is also the scenario which General Joseph Dunford warned may lead to war with Russia. Indeed, the quoted said one danger of such action is that Russian and Syrian forces are often co-mingled, "raising the possibility of a direct confrontation with Russia that Obama has been at pains to avoid." This is also known as the "world war" scenario.

Luckily, there are options.

One alternative, U.S. officials said, is allowing allies to provide U.S.-vetted rebels with more sophisticated weapons, although not shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, "which Washington fears could be used against Western airliners." Like, for example, what happened above the Donestk region during the peak of the Ukraine proxy war in 2014.

As Reuters adds, Friday's planned meeting is the latest in a long series of internal debates - which have so far achieved nothing but escalate the situation which fast approaches a point of no return - about what, if anything, to do to end a 5-1/2 year civil war that has killed at least 300,000 people and displaced half the country's population. According to insiders, the ultimate aim of any new action could be to "bolster the battered moderate rebels so they can weather what is now widely seen as the inevitable fall of rebel-held eastern Aleppo to the forces of Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad." The question is whether it was also "bolster" al-Qaeda linked jihadists whom the US has been supporting for the past several months as a result of the perverse merger of "moderate" rebel forces in Syria.

Apparently, there is also an element of pride:

    It also might temper a sense of betrayal among moderate rebels who feel Obama encouraged their uprising by calling for Assad to go but then abandoned them, failing even to enforce his own "red line" against Syria's use of chemical weapons.

    This, in turn, might deter them from migrating to Islamist groups such as the Nusra Front, which the United States regards as Syria's al Qaeda branch. The group in July said it had cut ties to al Qaeda and changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.

In other words, having started the proxy war in Syria, with every passing day that Obama fails to resolve it - while ideally avoid a world war with Russia - is a day that more and more "moderate rebels" are likely to openly "migrate" to jihadist extremists, with all of the latest US military equipment so generously provided to them by the administration.

There is also hope that just like in 2013, Kerry and Lavrov will somehow cobble together another last minute peace agreement. The U.S. and Russian foreign ministers will meet in Lausanne, Switzerland on Saturday to resume their failed effort to find a diplomatic solution, possibly joined by their counterparts from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Iran, but U.S. officials were said to have voiced little hope for success.

Complicating matters, however, is that as we reported this morning, the US is now officially engaged in another regional conflict, after US warships fired ballistic missiles targeting Yemen radar stations in proximity to the critical Bab al-Mandab Straight.

    Earlier Thursday the United States launched cruise missiles at three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi forces, retaliating after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer, U.S. officials said.

There is also the question of what to do in Iraq, where officials are debating whether government forces will need more U.S. support both during and after their campaign to retake Mosul, Islamic State’s de facto capital in the country. Some officials argue the Iraqis now cannot retake the city without significant help from Kurdish peshmerga forces, as well as Sunni and Shi'ite militias, and that their participation could trigger religious and ethnic conflict in the city.

* * *

For now, the best news is that according to Reuters, US officials said they consider it unlikely that Obama will order U.S. air strikes on Syrian government targets, and they stressed that he may not make any decisions at the planned meeting of his National Security Council. However, that will only be the case should the US not be further humiliated in Syria, and - of course - all bets are off if and when Obama is replaced, especially if his successor is a well-known warmonger, directly and indirectly responsible for much of the unstable geopolitical situation across most of the region.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on October 14, 2016, 02:42:52 AM
How can you possibly follow this shit?

RE

http://www.youtube.com/v/Ge_s8igIp6o
Title: Who is dropping Whose Weapons on Who?
Post by: RE on October 14, 2016, 03:10:14 PM
I am confused.  :icon_scratch:

RE

http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/14/politics/yemen-us-role-in-war/ (http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/14/politics/yemen-us-role-in-war/)

US missiles just made the war in Yemen even more complicated

By Muhammad Lila, CNN

Updated 4:21 PM ET, Fri October 14, 2016
Why are people dying in Yemen?

Why are people dying in Yemen? 02:26
Story highlights

    Conflict in Yemen is seen as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and others against Iran
    The US has backed and supplied Saudi Arabia in the fight
    But this week, the US became directly involved

(CNN)Just when you thought the complicated, tangled web of who's fighting who in the Middle East couldn't get more complicated, the rules have changed. Again.
The latest twist comes in Yemen, where this week a USS warship launched Tomahawk cruise missiles into Yemen.

According to a Pentagon spokesperson, the missiles targeted radar sites in Houthi-held territory, sites the US claims were being used to launch missiles toward a different American warship (the USS Mason) in two separate incidents earlier this week. Neither incident caused any damage, according to the Pentagon, as the missiles fell into the water.
U.S. missiles pound rebel radar systems in Yemen
U.S. missiles pound rebel radar systems in Yemen

U.S. missiles pound rebel radar systems in Yemen 02:59
Independent verification is hard to come by in the Yemeni war. It's unclear who, if anyone, fired the missiles from Yemeni soil. The Houthis strongly reject the accusations, saying that they didn't fire any missiles at US warships. They claim the entire episode is meant as a distraction, to draw attention away from the horrible toll the war is taking on innocent civilians.
According to the UN, an average of 13 Yemeni civilians are killed every day by Saudi-led airstrikes. In the most recent example, a double-tap airstrike killed more than 150 people and injured hundreds more who had gathered at a funeral service.
The lack of independent, verifiable information notwithstanding, the US airstrikes still are a significant development. It marks the first time the US has directly targeted and attacked sites inside Yemeni territory using its own missiles from its own warships.
It effectively makes the United States an active combatant in the war.
The US had until now limited its role to providing intelligence, coordination and logistics to the Saudi-backed bombing campaign, plus providing airborne fueling tankers to enable Saudi jets to refuel in mid-air. Since the war began, the United States also has agreed to sell Saudi Arabia more than $22 billion worth of weapons, some specifically earmarked to replace those that have already been dropped on Yemen.
Humanitarian crisis worsening in Yemen's forgotten war
yemen forgotten war anderson pkg_00001505

Humanitarian crisis worsening in Yemen's forgotten war 02:51
Until now, Yemen has effectively been the Middle East's second biggest proxy war (with Syria being the first), pitting Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries against Yemen's Houthi minority and its Iranian backers.
READ: Yemen, the forgotten war
Now that the US is directly involved, it raises some difficult questions:
Does this mark a turning point, with the US prepared to take on a more active, long-term combat role?
How will it affect its relationship with the Saudis, after the State Department recently implied it would cut off funding if the Saudis didn't take stronger measures to avoid civilian deaths?
What happens if Iranian ships are targeted in international waters, and they choose to retaliate in the same fashion?
If the US pretext for launching missiles strikes into Yemen was on the grounds that it was an act of self-defense, could that provide a justification for Iran to do the same?
All of these are troubling prospects.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 14, 2016, 06:03:37 PM
Quote
RE: I am confused.  :icon_scratch:

I'm assuming that when the Houthis denied firing the missiles, they are lying in order to keep Iranian involvement out of things.  The Iranians would have said, "You can have these old missiles, and you can fire them at the US/Saudi/UAE ships that get close enough, but you must deny that you fired them, or that we gave them to you."  The video seems to show SOMEBODY fired on the UAE ship, and the Houthis are the only ones who are enemies of UAE.

The CNN report fails to mention that the missiles fired at USS Mason didn't just "fall in the water".  Mason fired anti-missile missiles in defense, and couldn't determine whether the missiles were hit or fell in the water.  That in itself is a bit odd - how come they didn't know whether they got a hit?  That would be absolutely vital to know for future attacks.  I assume they were trying to cover up their failure to hit the incoming missiles - there would be no disgrace in scoring a hit, would there?

The report also twists the facts with "It marks the first time the US has directly targeted and attacked sites inside Yemeni territory using its own missiles from its own warships."  Maybe so in this stage of the war, but before the Saudi-led attacks, the US fired loads of cruise missiles into Yemen, and used Reaper drones to kill US citizen and Imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, in 2011.  Two weeks later they also killed his US-born son by drone.

The Yemeni President at the time, Saleh, was forced to deny any US attack had taken place, which everyone knew was a lie.  Saleh is now allied with the Houthis.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 14, 2016, 07:01:20 PM
Given the current build up in tensions, alway by the US side, the false flag should be quite easy to stage.  I'm surprised it hasn't happened during the time this thread has been going (nearly a month now.  Does nobody else see it?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-14/pretext-needed-false-flag-may-be-imminent-drag-us-war (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-14/pretext-needed-false-flag-may-be-imminent-drag-us-war)
"A Pretext Is Needed": A False Flag May Be Imminent To Drag U.S. Into War
Tyler Durden
Oct 14, 2016

As SHTFPlan.com's Mac Slavo warns, "The scenario is plenty likely."

    With so many bizarre events taking place leading up to the election, few Americans are even grounded in reality any more. Perhaps the powers that be, with new and ready scapegoats – like Donald Trump, ISIS or Russia – think that the populace can again be convinced to surrender their liberties and consent to war if a new attack is staged.

    They have done it, and they will do it again. This is standard operating procedure:

    http://www.youtube.com/v/Snwl4zxDNGY

    The narrative under Hillary Clinton will be terrifying, as she destroys every last safeguard against tyranny this country has left standing. The smell of war is in the air, and every patriot should be on guard for the propaganda and salesmanship of another big lie. What do you think will happen?

False Flag Attack Imminent in Syria as Globalists Engineer World War III

by WakingTimes.com's Isaac Davis

Americans are sleepwalking into World War III, and as events in Syria are shaping up it could come any moment as the biggest October surprise ever. At this stage in the conflict, we are one minor event away from all out war between the world’s major super powers, an event which would most certainly result in nuclear war. All that is needed is for the right type of false flag event to serve as provocation.

    “In naval warfare, a “false flag” refers to an attack where a vessel flies a flag other than their true battle flag before engaging their enemy. It is a trick, designed to deceive the enemy about the true nature and origin of an attack.” [Source]

As the world pretends to be ruled by democratically elected governments, and as the world’s people feign freedom under an ever-expanding surveillance, police and warfare state, some semblance of pretext is needed in order to manufacture sufficient consent for the oligarchy’s standing plans of forcing us into expansion of the Orwellian Permanent War.

A brief look at how this tactic has historically been used helps to predict what is certainly forthcoming in Syria, as paraphrased from James Corbett of the Corbett Report.

    1780’s – The Swedish-Russian War of 1788-1790 began when Swedish troops were intentionally dressed up as Russian troops then sent to attack their own border with Finland, effectively tricking the public into believing Russia had attacked, thereby kicking off a war will killed thousands.

    1931 – The Japanese army deliberately destroyed a portion of a Japanese owned railway, then blamed it on Chinese dissidents to justify the military occupation of Manchuria.

    1939 – Nazi war engineers dressed up Polish prisoners in Polish military uniforms and directed them to attack a German radio station. They prisoners were shot dead and their bodies left on the scene as evidence of Polish aggression, leading to Hitler’s invasion of Poland, signifying the official start of World War II.

    1954 – Operation Susannah was an Israeli effort to convince the British military to continue their military presence in the Suez Canal, in support of Israeli interests. Egyptian patsies were hired to detonate bombs in American and British civilian targets, then blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood.

    1962 – “In 1962 the US Joint Chiefs of Staff authored a document called Operation Northwoods calling for the US government to stage a series of fake attacks, including the shooting down of military or civilian US aircraft, the destruction of a US ship, sniper attacks in Washington, and other atrocities, to blame on the Cubans as an excuse for launching an invasion. President Kennedy refused to sign off on the plan and was killed in Dallas the next year.” [Source]

    1964 – A U.S. destroyer patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin was attacked by torpedoes, ostensibly by the North Vietnamese, thereby causing President Johnson the authorization of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, thus beginning U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. It is now known that no attack actually occurred and that the NSA was involved in fabricating this event.

    1967 – “In June 1967 the Israelis attacked the USS Liberty, a US Navy technical research ship, off the coast of Egypt. The ship was strafed relentlessly for hours in an apparent attempt to blame the attack on Egypt and draw the Americans into the Six Day War, but amazingly the crew managed to keep it afloat. In 2007 newly released NSA intercepts confirmed that the Israelis knew they were attacking an American ship, not an Egyptian ship as their cover story has maintained.” [Source]

    1999 – A series of devastating bombings on civilian apartment buildings in Russia were blamed on Chechen terrorists, although Russian FSB agents were later caught using the exact same type of bombs in what was publicly called a security exercise.

    2001 – The 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington were blamed on 19 Al Qaeda terrorists and immediately used the pretext for beginning the Global War on Terror, of which the political doctrine for this was already in place and in play. 15 years later, information about the true nature of the attacks is still surfacing, proving that the 9/11 Commission was a whitewash to help catalyze public support still ongoing wars which were planned prior to 9/11.

        “Further, the process of transformation [of the military], even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor.” –[Source]

Furthermore, other examples of historical significance demonstrate how minor or ambiguous events are seized on and deliberately used as propaganda to achieve the greater objective of drawing nations into war.

    1904 – The sinking of the British ocean liner The Lusitania off the coast of Ireland, which was carrying tons of war materials from America, was blamed on German u-boats, leading to a severe diplomatic row which brought the United States into World War I. Speculation remains as to what exactly happened to the Lusitania, however, the official explanation is highly suspicious, and the event was used to achieve the objectives of war financiers to broaden the conflict.

    1933 – A German parliamentary building in the Reichstag was set ablaze one month after Hitler’s election to the office of Chancellor. It is believed that three Bulgarian communists were to blame, however this is contentious among historians. The event was heavily propagandized by the Nazi party to galvanize support for war.

One can also include in this list an ever-growing growing handful of European and American domestic terror attacks such as the London bombings of 2005, and the Bataclan theatre massacre of Paris in 2015. To further expand on the historical precedent of using false flag attacks to propel agendas of state aggression, many instances of assassination and military intervention into the politics of sovereign nations around the world in order create consent for militarism could be included.

Final Thoughts

As the U.S. continues to aid and support ISIS, Al-Nusra and other terrorist organizations in its ploy to overthrow the Assad government for the primary benefit of Israel, a false flag event signaling the beginning of a direct confrontation with Russia could come at any time. At present it looks as though the most likely scenario would be something along the lines of the USS Liberty attack, which would involve the deliberate targeting of our own forces while creating the perception of a Russian attack on U.S. or NATO components.

The situation in Syria is ripe for exactly this kind of covert, subversive tactic.  There is historical precedence to suggest that a Syrian false flag event is imminent, therefore people the world over must prepare to resist and to survive this.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on October 14, 2016, 07:39:26 PM
Given the current build up in tensions, alway by the US side, the false flag should be quite easy to stage.  I'm surprised it hasn't happened during the time this thread has been going (nearly a month now.  Does nobody else see it?

If they need a "false flag" to get going full on then they will manufacture one, but they probably won't need one the way things are progressing.  Somebody will provide the Houthis with good enough hardware to actually score a hit on an FSoA vessel patrolling the waters soon enough.  They don't even have to sink the vessel for it to be enough excuse, a few dead swabbies will do the trick.

The real problems come when the top hardware of the Chinese & Mother Russia is used.  That stuff can sink battleships and carriers.  If the big boats start getting sunk, that would demonstrate the vulnerability of the FSoA Navy.  The FSoA would then be forced to retaliate by sinking Ruskie and Chinese boats.

Once the boats are sunk, what's the point of Nuclear War?  Nobody can go anywhere anyhow.

RE
Title: Why ISIS Exists: The Double Game
Post by: RE on October 16, 2016, 02:42:03 AM
http://www.greanvillepost.com/2016/10/13/why-isis-exists-the-double-game/ (http://www.greanvillepost.com/2016/10/13/why-isis-exists-the-double-game/)

ISIS-PalmyraExecutionofSoldiers

Why ISIS Exists: The Double Game

pale blue horizamericanwaylogo7CARRYING OUT THE CRIMINAL AGENDA OF THE 0.00001% ACROSS THE GLOBE


WORLD NEWS /First iteration 29 NOV 2015
, International Policy Digest

 

The world faces a lethal, make believe “reality” of almost infinite hypocrisy. 

The western press laments the near impossibility of defeating an organization that didn’t even exist a couple of short years ago. Brand ISIS, the unconquerable, may actually become a truism if the people of the western nations continue to listen to the lies and propaganda of their own governments.
 

You’ve been told a lot of things about the war in Syria, and clearly most of it is finely crafted war propaganda, which seeks to obscure the forest by showing you an endless series of trees. The trees are gunshots, explosions, and dead bodies. The forest is elusive, vast, covers several continents, and we are only ever given small samples of the terrain. The section of the forest that receives some of the latest scrutiny is not necessarily the crucial part of the story. Beneath the entire forest lies an aquifer, a vast ocean of water that feeds the trees invisibly, silently, yet persistently. Without this water supply there would be no forest to speak of.

But here is where the metaphor breaks. Unlike an underground reservoir, which is impossible to eradicate, the money and weapons transfers to fundamentalist militants can be stopped. The problem is that western so-called “leaders” have done absolutely nothing to stop them.

In fact they rarely mention these sources of terrorist arms, training and funding at all, in public anyway. When acknowledged these become theater, hand wringing, vague excuses rather than concrete action. At other times intelligence services themselves willingly hand over sophisticated weapons to terrorists, such as TOW anti-tank missiles and surface to air “MANPADS” capable of bringing down commercial airliners. The nations most responsible for creating the extremist armies on the ground—Turkey and the Persian Gulf tyrannies—are close allies and even “friends” to US and European political masters.

Establishing the Grand Fraud

So what in the hell is really going on? Well, war of course. This is what modern war looks like. In particular this latest proxy war targets the multi-cultural, yet authoritarian regime of Syria’s Bashar Al Assad. NATO dislikes Assad because he is an ally of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Oil and gas pipeline routes also factor in. Western powers and Gulf States that don’t like Assad have, like a pack of wild jackals, been ripping at Syria since 2011. The primary supporter of ISIS and the Al Nusrah Front is Turkey, which by any objective measure should be considered a state sponsor of international terrorism and isolated immediately.

Sometimes we are even provided short glimpses of the reality, by our own so-called leaders.

Vice President of the United States Joe Biden said: “[Erdogan…the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc.]…poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra, and al Qaeda, and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Still, donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said: “I know major Arab allies who fund them [ISIS].”

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said: “It’s unbelievable and unacceptable that more than 60 nations comprising this coalition that have the most modern aircraft and weapons at their disposal have been conducting their campaign in Iraq for 14 months and IS still remains in the country.”

GLEN_hillaryHillary Clinton: One of the principal architects and executers of criminal US policy in the Middle East and Ukraine. Her reward is now the Oval Office and the power to do much more damage to the world. Credit the utterly corrupt Western press—a tool of the global capitalist class, which Hillary serves–and the almost infinite complacency and intellectual laziness of liberals.

Former Defense Intelligence Agency head Michael Flynn said: “I think it was a decision, a willful decision.”

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) said: “The Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [Al Qaeda in Iraq] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria…The West, the Gulf Countries, and Turkey support the opposition.”

Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan said: “The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the [Olympic] games are controlled by us, and they will not move in the Syrian territory’s direction without coordinating with us.”

The U.S. State Department said, “Riyadh has taken only limited action to disrupt fundraising for the UN 1267-listed Taliban and LeT-groups that are also aligned with al-Qa’ida and focused on undermining stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan…Al-Qa’ida and other groups continue to exploit Kuwait both as a source of funds and as a key transit point…UAE’s role as a growing global financial center, coupled with weak regulatory oversight, makes it vulnerable to abuse by terrorist financiers and facilitation networks…[Qatar has] been hesitant to act against known terrorists out of concern for appearing to be aligned with the U.S. and provoking reprisals.”

No concrete steps are taken against these state supporters of terrorism. Far from it, they are intimate partners with the United States and form a coalition of the willing to use proxy terrorists to destroy Syria. ISIS has been a main component of this effort for years. It was not until they attacked targets in Europe (Paris), that Western leaders finally decided that they needed to appear to do things differently.

What this coalition does and what it clearly does not do are the telltale signs for understanding these current events. These will require more scrutiny.

The US has manufactured terrorist armies before, notably in Afghanistan, beginning in 1979. And when their Mujahadeen brigades defeated the Soviets, in the late 1980s, many champagne bottles were popped over at the Langley CIA headquarters. Such a wonderful victory for them, Zbigniew Brzezinski was quite proud of his handiwork. Coincidentally, Brzezinski emerged recently to shriek at the Russians, “to convey to Moscow the demand that it cease and desist from military actions that directly affect American assets.” Those “assets” have been the subject of much obfuscation and deceit over these past four years, despite seas of bloodshed. In Syria today, just who is an “American asset,” and who is not?

The most jaw-dropping and damning revelation of the entire Syria fiasco to date is hosted right on the whitehouse.gov website. It’s received zero mention by the “free” US corporate press, and here it is: “President Obama spoke by phone today from California with Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, at the Prime Minister’s request, about developments in Syria and Egypt. The President and Prime Minister discussed the danger of foreign extremists in Syria and agreed on the importance of supporting a unified and inclusive Syrian opposition. The President and Prime Minister expressed concern about the situation in Egypt and a shared commitment to supporting a democratic and inclusive way forward. The two leaders agreed to have their teams continue to coordinate closely to promote our shared interests. The President gave his best wishes to the Prime Minister and the Turkish people on the beginning of their Ramazan holiday.”

That is exhibit A for the treason trial. I’m quite shocked that I’ve been nearly alone in referencing this outrageously criminal admission concerning US policy in Turkey and Syria. You now have been informed of whom the White House considers an “asset.” The Russians know it too, all too well.

Exhibit B for the prosecution would likely be Barack Obama’s tinkering with the Arms Export Control Act, reported on September 15th of 2013: “The president, citing his authority under the Arms Export Control Act, announced today that he would waive the prohibitions in sections 40 and 40A…The prohibitions contained in this section apply with respect to a country if the Secretary of State determines that the government of that country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism.”

This action can only be described as Orwellian hypocrisy, as the weapons Obama ships to Syrian insurgents meet the stated criteria. The United States is clearly supporting “international terrorism,” with glee. US arms and ammunition have gone to Jihadists all over Syria and Iraq through many pathways. They have murdered many civilians there, and they continue to do so daily. Further, attacking the government of Syria by arming a proxy army is the “Supreme International Crime,” a Crime Against the Peace, a blatant breach of the UN Charter, but it’s happening.

(Screengrab)

(Screengrab)

The entire world knows that Syria’s radical terrorists are supported by outside states, and yet no sanctions are ever proposed by our “democratic” leaders against those states. When Russia did things in Ukraine that Washington disapproved of immediate trade sanctions attacked its economy and certain named individuals. No such actions are even entertained against Turkish, Saudi, Qatari, Kuwaiti, Jordanian or other supporters of the ISIS terror state. This is clearly because the US, and Barack Obama specifically, consider these terrorists “American assets.” It is the Brzezinski plan for regime change, and it has always been the Brzezinski plan. [Of course, since Washington is the first and most influential force behind these crimes, it is not about to indict itself.-Eds]

They know exactly what they’re doing. Obama’s own Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) told them in 2012 that their actions would lead to an Islamic Caliphate. “ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create a grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.”

It’s not ignorance, and it’s not a mistake. It has been the deliberate policy of the United States and its partners to tolerate―and to even support―a terror Caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

Redirections, Red Lines & Rat Lines

The most important investigative article of the post 9/11 era is arguably Seymour Hersh’s March 2007 expose in The New Yorker: “The Redirection.” Just what was being redirected?

Short answer: everything. The so-called “war on terror” flipped 180 degrees as the US partnered with Sunni extremists to redirect the fight and target Shi’ite Muslims: specifically Assad’s Syria, Maliki’s Shi’ite Iraqi regime, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the big one: Iran. “[The Saudi] message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at―Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.”

As Americans went back to sleep, the American empire partnered up with the sponsors of the 9/11 attacks: Saudis and their Wahabbi friends, who can always be counted on to supply money and fanatical fighters. The formula that brought down the Soviets in the 1980s was to be “New American Century” Plan A.

“This is all part of the campaign of provocative steps to increase the pressure on Iran. The idea is that at some point the Iranians will respond and then the Administration will have an open door to strike at them,” Seymour Hersh writes in “The Redirection.”

By the time Syria exploded into chaos in 2011, Obama was in charge, and the strategy had steadily evolved. So had the clampdown on dissenting voices. Seymour Hersh was exiled to the London Review of Books, where his damning revelations would not be broadcast to the American public. In “The Red Line and the Rat Line” Hersh helped expose what was going on in Syria: “A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdogan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria.”

In 2011 Obama destroyed Libya by acting as “Al Qaeda’s Air Force” in violation of the Constitution and the UN Charter. He then set his dogs to work moving weapons and fighters from Libya across to the next target on the hit list: Syria.

By June 20, of 2013: “[Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)]…stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s’ pre-9/11 effort.” (Hersh)

Meaning that the White House was lying throughout that period as to the Syrian rebels’ chemical weapons capabilities. When a staged sarin attack killed numerous civilians in Ghoutta, on August 21 of 2013, Obama was quick to jump at the chance for military action and a new war. That was the “red line” cassus belli that his own administration had floated the previous year. But the actual perpetrators turned out to be Al Nusrah Front working with chemical suppliers in Turkey, aided by Turkish intelligence.

That the Jihadis were the Ghoutta chemical attack perpetrators was confirmed in a Turkish indictment as well as by rebel fighters on the ground near Damascus.

The actions of the White House over this issue betray its hypocrisy, yet again. When Assad was the perpetrator, all the military might of the NATO bloc was to come down on Syria to punish it for its “red line” use of chemical weapons. When the actual perpetrators are Al Nusrah terrorists, working closely with Erdogan’s Turkey, as well as Pentagon and CIA trainees, and ISIS too, there is only a deafening silence. Inaction reveals much when it comes to this Syrian charade. The sarin issue was kicked from history, and the actual deaths of those 500 or so children and civilians remain as meaningless to those in Washington as do any other deaths in their ongoing Middle East blood frenzy.

As for the Benghazi-Gate fiasco, and the death of the US ambassador, the obvious reason for the White House cover-up was disclosed in Seymour Hersh’s piece: “The [Benghazi] consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’”

Clearly the illegal foreign support to the insurgency in Syria is the reason ISIS exists. It did not spring from nowhere. It did not magically take over parts of two countries overnight. The fact that it is a genocidal, fanatical monstrosity is one of those distasteful qualities that western leaders tend to distance themselves from, but not enough to actually eradicate the quite useful proxy group.

The Fake “War” on ISIS

As we bob from fraud to fraud in this age of manufactured terror and covert everything, we must remain significantly more vigilant than our predecessors in order to comprehend the schizophrenic nature of US foreign policy today.

As for ISIS we bomb them occasionally but an excuse lingers that bombing is not sufficient. We are told that we will need to take over Syria, with large infantry armies that is if the Jihadists can’t do it successfully on their own. Unfortunately, for people like Zbigniew Brzezinski, John McCain, Bandar bin Sultan, and Barack Obama, the Russians saw the writing on the wall and stepped in to bomb back the terrorist militias. With a legitimate invitation from the government of Syria the Russian air campaign has been quite successful so far.

Back in September of 2014 the NY Times claimed that Barack Obama’s Administration was “Struggling to Starve ISIS of Oil Revenue.” Over a year later Obama had still not bombed the long lines of tanker trucks illegally selling the black market oil to the neighboring countries: that coalition again, with Turkey being the main recipient. Neither did the Times even bother mentioning the obvious US option of bombing the tanker trucks, oil wells and refineries under ISIS control.

(Reuters)

(Reuters)

Echoing what Nuri al-Maliki had said, Vladimir Putin wielded the big monkey wrench at this last G20 summit, on November 15th: “Channels of finance for terrorist activity must be cut off…This financing, as we found out, comes from 40 countries, including some in the G20.”

Gloves off, Russian President Putin had already accused Washington of backing terrorism across the Middle East. Not stopping there, Putin literally handed Obama Russian satellite photos of 1,000 ISIS oil tanker trucks stretching for “dozens of kilometers.”

The very next day, November 16, “U.S. Warplanes Strike ISIS Oil Trucks in Syria.” For some reason only 116 trucks out of the “1,000” were hit by the US mission. Then the effort mysteriously stopped as soon as the headlines had gone to print. With the policy firmly established in the media, the reality on the ground became irrelevant again.


For literally years the US and its allies (and other powers like Russia) have known quite clearly and precisely how ISIS was –and still does–resupplying itself. Despite its much ballyhooed “war on terror” Washington’s ruling circles did not unleash the Pentagon on ISIS logistical lines, an extremely easy task for the US Air Force. The explanation is obvious, except that US foreign policy objectives cannot be disclosed to the public due to their inherent immorality, and the American media apparently can’t figure that out nor does it show any interest in digging deeper into what is undoubtedly a damning contradiction. –Editors

isis-oiltrucks-olje-is-syria

An ISIS convoy from Turkey, a nation which, with US/NATO approval, has always been key in maintaining the Jihadist plague in the region and beyond. An ISIS convoy from Turkey, a nation which, with US/NATO approval and encouragement, has always been key in maintaining the Jihadist plague in the region and beyond.

Russia took up the slack on the 18th destroying “500 fuel tank trucks” controlled by ISIS and used to fund their insurgency. As Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov phrased it: “[T]he analysis of those [US-led] airstrikes during over a year lead to conclusion that they were hitting selectively, I would say, sparingly and on most occasions didn’t touch those IS units, which were capable of seriously challenging the Syrian army.”

In addition to avoiding the illegal oil trade occurring right beneath USAF fighter/bombers for over a year, there is also the matter of approximately 60 ISIS training camps. No training camps have been bombed to date, despite continually churning out “1,000” radical Islamic fighters per month. We can make some educated guesses as to why that is.

Foreign intelligence and special forces (British and Qatari), and potentially US personnel, have operated inside Syria since at least February of 2012. The CIA admits to spending $1Bn per year training Syrian insurgents and boasts that it has “trained and equipped nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria over the past several years.” If US personnel aren’t actually inside the territory of Syria, their pets surely are.

We know that ISIS, Al Nusrah, al Sham and Free Syrian Army (FSA) are all allies and work closely together. The FSA Colonel Abdel Jabbar al Olkaidihas plainly told us so. Olkaidi was the direct link to US Ambassador Robert Ford, and so there is no longer any plausible deniability on the subject. There is no legitimacy left for US claims of a “moderate” opposition that somehow exists separate from the genocidal terror armies of head-chopping extremists.

Conclusion

I would be remiss if I ignored mentioning the oil and gas supplies of the Middle East. The routes into Europe are hotly contested. With the Ukrainian gas pipelines coming from Russia, western leaders want alternatives in order to weaken the bear. Other proposed energy routes to the south include Syrian territory, that same territory ISIS now claims as its “Caliphate.”

It also needs to be mentioned that German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has admitted: 760 German citizens have joined ISIS and 200 of them have returned home to Germany. Earlier this year it was reported that100,000 fake Turkish passports had gone to ISIS fighters.

Turkey remains the headquarters and logistical center of ISIS. The west, NATO, and their Gulf tyranny partners, have opened Pandora’s Box. It still hangs wide open.

NOTE: ALL IMAGE CAPTIONS, PULL QUOTES AND COMMENTARY BY THE EDITORS, NOT THE AUTHORS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
joe-giambroneJOE GIAMBRONE
  • His science fiction thriller Transfixion is published through Solstice and is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
  • His 2011 short film The Container won the one-minute juried prize at the Sundial Film Festival in his hometown of Redding, Ca.
  • Again in 2016, he has taken the one-minute category with The Real Reason You Should Recycle. 
  • His non-fiction freelance journalism appears at International Policy Digest, WhoWhatWhy, Counterpunch, Globalresearch, Foreign Policy Journal, High Times, OpedNews and numerous other online outlets.

He continues to write, to film, and to adapt various works across media.

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 16, 2016, 07:57:12 AM
So, perhaps those Houthi radar stations destroyed by US cruise missiles weren't destroyed after all.

The "small armada" Iran is sending to the area, consists of two "fleets", one of which consists of a destroyer and a logistics vessel, the other a destroyer plus unknown.  So a very small armada of 2 fighting ships.

And if the battle for Aleppo, and this disruption in the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb, isn't exciting enough for you, the battle to re-take Mosul is just about to kick off.  It will be interesting to see how they take a city with 1.5 million civilians in it without causing any collateral damage.

https://www.rt.com/usa/362919-mason-missiles-attack-yemen/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/362919-mason-missiles-attack-yemen/)
US destroyer ‘appears’ to have fallen under new attack off Yemen – Pentagon
16 Oct, 2016

Just two days after the US launched retaliatory strikes in Yemen and vowed to continue with the “self-defense” measures it deems necessary, the USS Mason has allegedly fallen under attack for the third time in a week, according to the Pentagon.

“The Mason once again appears to have come under attack in the Red Sea, again from coastal defense cruise missiles fired from the coast of Yemen,” Navy Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, told reporters at an event in Baltimore on Saturday.

The US warship had to deploy countermeasures to avert being hit by an undisclosed number of missiles that were said to have come from Yemen’s Houthi-controlled territory.

“Earlier today, a US Strike Group transiting international waters in the Red Sea detected possible inbound missile threats and deployed appropriate defensive countermeasures,” Pentagon spokesman Cmdr. Gary Ross said in a statement to Navy’s USNI News.

The US intelligence is still assessing the situation. No American personnel suffered any injuries.

Saturday’s strike against USS Mason is the third that the ship suffered in a week. According to the Pentagon the ship was previously targeted last Sunday and again on Wednesday.

In response to the second reported attack, President Obama authorized retaliatory strikes against the radar installations that the US believes were used by the Houthi rebels to attack its ship in the international waters of the Red Sea.

“They have everything that they need to defend themselves from these attacks and respond when needed and so we’re proud of the crews – they’ve done terrific,” Richardson told reporters.

Obama’s response escalated the US’ involvement in the 19-month-long civil war, tainted by the indiscriminate bombing of civilians by the Saudi-led coalition which has been documented using American and British munitions.

The US President also threatened to take active countermeasures if strikes against US vessels in the region continue.

The Houthis previously denied launching any attacks against the US vessel, and expressed readiness to cooperate with any international investigations into the matter.

Earlier this week, the Pentagon admitted that the US was unaware of who actually “pulled the trigger,” only asserting that missiles came from the rebel-controlled area. The US side also implicated Iran, pointing towards its support of the rebels.

The Islamic Republic, for its part, sent a small armada to the Gulf of Aden as a show of force in the wake of US accusations.

Saudi Arabia, along with eight Arab state allies, began a military operation in Yemen in March 2015 at the request of Yemeni President Hadi, a Sunni, who fled the country after Shiite Houthi rebels seized the capital of Sana’a. The rebels recognize Abdullah Saleh as their leader, who was, the country’s previous president forced to step down back in 2012.

A UN-backed peace process to end the civil war has yielded few results. The war has so far killed an estimated 10,000 people, nearly half of them civilians, according to the United Nations.
Title: Ruskie's in Syria 1 year Recap (South Front Video)
Post by: RE on October 16, 2016, 02:06:05 PM
Great video clips as usual from SF.

http://www.youtube.com/v/dzBluOK2hsA

RE
Title: ISIS in the crosshairs: Battle for Mosul begins
Post by: RE on October 16, 2016, 06:39:51 PM
Let's reduce another town to rubble!  That will solve the problem!

RE

http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/16/middleeast/mosul-isis-operation-begins-iraq/ (http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/16/middleeast/mosul-isis-operation-begins-iraq/)

ISIS in the crosshairs: Battle for Mosul begins

By Ray Sanchez and Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN

Updated 9:27 PM ET, Sun October 16, 2016
mosul isis battle live wedeman nr_00000115

Iraqi government forces drive their armored vehicle through a street in western Falluja, Iraq, on Monday, June 27, after retaking the city from ISIS.
Falluja freed, focus now ISIS stronghold of Mosul
inside mosul nick paton walsh pkg_00000110.jpg
Mosul awaits assault on ISIS
iraqi forces move against isis mosul damon lklv_00005727.jpg
Mosul's secret resistance against ISIS
ISIS' battle tactics
Only one of the Mosul Dam's two outlet gates is functioning; the other is awaiting repairs.
Protecting the Mosul Dam
Iraq: The battle for Mosul
mosul isis battle live wedeman nr_00000115.jpg
Now Playing
Iraqi PM: Offensive to take Mosul from ISIS is underway
mosul isis battle begins live damon nr_00043928.jpg
CNN reporter near Mosul describes battle
Iraqi forces gather at the Qayyarah military base, about 35 miles south of Mosul, on October 16, as they prepare for an offensive to retake Mosul, the last IS-held city in the country, after regaining much of the territory the jihadists seized in 2014 and 2015.
The battle for Mosul begins
Battle for Mosul intv Curnow_00005911.jpg
What to expect as Mosul battle nears
mosul isis battle preparations 12a wedeman lok_00010005.jpg
Iraqi forces ready for Mosul battle
fight for mosul wedeman dnt ctw_00014224.jpg
Iraqi forces closing in on ISIS-controlled Mosul
Iraqi government forces drive their armored vehicle through a street in western Falluja, Iraq, on Monday, June 27, after retaking the city from ISIS.
Falluja freed, focus now ISIS stronghold of Mosul
inside mosul nick paton walsh pkg_00000110.jpg
Mosul awaits assault on ISIS
iraqi forces move against isis mosul damon lklv_00005727.jpg
Mosul's secret resistance against ISIS
ISIS' battle tactics
Only one of the Mosul Dam's two outlet gates is functioning; the other is awaiting repairs.
Protecting the Mosul Dam
Iraq: The battle for Mosul
mosul isis battle live wedeman nr_00000115.jpg
Iraqi PM: Offensive to take Mosul from ISIS is underway
mosul isis battle begins live damon nr_00043928.jpg
CNN reporter near Mosul describes battle
Iraqi forces gather at the Qayyarah military base, about 35 miles south of Mosul, on October 16, as they prepare for an offensive to retake Mosul, the last IS-held city in the country, after regaining much of the territory the jihadists seized in 2014 and 2015.
The battle for Mosul begins
Battle for Mosul intv Curnow_00005911.jpg
What to expect as Mosul battle nears
mosul isis battle preparations 12a wedeman lok_00010005.jpg
Iraqi forces ready for Mosul battle
fight for mosul wedeman dnt ctw_00014224.jpg
Iraqi forces closing in on ISIS-controlled Mosul
Story highlights

    ISIS tunnels, trenches targeted in missiles attacks, militia umbrella group says
    Offensive aims to rout estimate 3,500 to 5,000 fighters in last ISIS stronghold

(CNN)The offensive to liberate Mosul from ISIS control has begun, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a televised statement early Monday.
"Our dearest people in Nineveh province, the victory bell has rung, and the operations to liberate Mosul have begun," he said. "I am announcing today the beginning of these heroic operations to liberate you from the brutality and terrorism of ISIS. God willing, we will meet soon on the ground of Mosul where we will all celebrate the liberation and your freedom."

Only forces with the Iraqi army and National Police will enter the city "and no others," the Prime Minister said.
Fighting with them are the Popular Mobilization Units, largely Shiite paramilitary forces that include Sunnis, Christians and other ethnic and religious groups. The units released a statement shortly after Monday's offensive began saying they were targeting ISIS tunnels and trenches south of Mosul with highly destructive thermobaric missiles.
Defeating ISIS in Mosul would represent a major victory for the Abadi government, as it struggles to boost its credibility, prove its military prowess and end the terrorist group's territorial dominance in Iraq's oil-rich north.
Routing the group from a port city close to the border of Syria and Turkey could also help stem the flow of fighters and weapons between the states.
The fight is expected to last weeks, if not months, and if the battles to wrest Falluja and Ramadi from ISIS' grip are indicators, Mosul will be a messy melee.
The assault's buildup has been ongoing for some time. US-led coalition and Iraqi forces have hammered ISIS targets with airstrikes for more than a year.
Iraqi forces gather at the Qayyarah military base, about 35 miles south of Mosul, on Sunday, as they prepare for an offensive to retake Mosul.
Iraqi forces gather at the Qayyarah military base, about 35 miles south of Mosul, on Sunday, as they prepare for an offensive to retake Mosul.
The Nineveh Liberation Operations Center, which was set up to coordinate the offensive, has brought in dozens of American and British advisers. A US artillery unit has provided cover for operations south of Mosul.
On ISIS' side of the fight, there have been reports of a growing network of tunnels leaving the city. The terrorist outfit has also allowed wounded fighters to leave Mosul and freed prisoners jailed for low-level offenses. The militants were also taking measures to combat the effectiveness of airstrikes.
Skirmishes flared outside Mosul in the days leading up to the battle, and Sunday brought several signs that the fight for Mosul was near, including an airstrike on one of the city's main bridges.
Not only did Abadi declare, "God willing, the decisive battle will begin soon," but leaflets proclaiming, "It's victory time," also rained over the city Sunday.
US playing supporting role
Mosul awaits assault on ISIS

Mosul awaits assault on ISIS 02:43
The 30,000-strong force tasked with recapturing the largest city under the terrorist group's control comprises many groups, with the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga making up the bulk.
Iraqi security forces are expected to lead the ground campaign with the backing of coalition airstrikes and advisers, US officials have said. Once Abadi announced the offensive had begun, Brett McGurk, the US State Department's special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIS, acknowledged in a tweet the operation aimed to end "two years of darkness under (ISIS) terrorists."
"Godspeed to the heroic Iraqi forces, Kurdish #Peshmerga, and #Ninewa volunteers. We are proud to stand with you in this historic operation,' he wrote in a second tweet.
The US recently announced the deployment of 600 additional troops to aid in the city's capture. The deployment brings the number of US personnel to more than 5,200, the Pentagon says.
"There are no major objectives after that," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said. "This is it. This is the last big holdout in Iraq for (ISIS)."
Before becoming the top prize in the Iraqi portion of the militant group's self-declared caliphate, Mosul was inhabited by more than 2 million people.
About 1 million residents remain today -- in the clutches of an organization known to use civilians as shields.
Potential humanitarian disaster
The UN refugee agency says most of the remaining residents could flee once the fighting is underway, creating what a UN representative says could be "one of the largest man-made displacement crises of recent times."
Iraq: Families flee ahead of battle for ISIS-held Hawija
Iraq: Families flee battle for ISIS-held town
Camps are being set up to accommodate the refugees, who will need transport and basic necessities once the Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga screen them as they leave the city.
Abadi told CNN in September that forces "are planning for a fight for many months." Some Peshmerga commanders have predicted it will take at least three months to clear the city as ISIS leaves sleeper cells behind.
Others expect a quicker victory, with ISIS leaders retreating to the desert west of Mosul.
ISIS prepares
Bracing for the offensive, ISIS in recent days allowed wounded fighters in Mosul to move to Raqqa, Syria, the group's de facto capital, a source inside Mosul said.
ISIS sets oil wells on fire

ISIS sets oil wells on fire 02:42
ISIS also released some low-level prisoners, including those jailed for their beards, cigarettes or clothing, the source added.
A tunnel network large enough to accommodate motorbikes stretches from the outskirts of the city to the nearby village of Hamdania, according to the source.
US military officials estimate there are 3,500 to 5,000 ISIS fighters in Mosul. ISIS supporters put the number at 7,000.
Plumes of black smoke rose from oil-filled trenches on fire outside northeastern Mosul, an attempt by ISIS to obscure its fighters' positions during airstrikes, military sources said.
In northern Iraq, the main road to Mosul is dotted with villages deserted in expectation of the fight.
Holding force
At checkpoints, ISIS fighters wore masks to disguise their identities in what is seen as a sign of decreasing confidence, as well as concerns about retaliation from Mosul residents.
There is concern among diplomats and Kurdish officials about plans for stabilizing and governing Mosul once ISIS is evicted, and according to US Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a holding force of about 15,000 Sunni elements was being trained and equipped to secure the city once it's liberated.
The push to Mosul is being felt more than 200 miles south, in Baghdad, where ISIS has launched suicide attacks. At least 34 people were killed in a Saturday suicide bombing at a Shiite gathering in the capital, police sources said.
Children at a school in Mosul in 2002. ISIS developed its own curriculum after it took control of the city in 2014.
Photos:
Children at a school in Mosul in 2002. ISIS developed its own curriculum after it took control of the city in 2014.
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Crowds gathered in Mosul in February 2003 to protest US threats of invasion.
Photos:
Crowds gathered in Mosul in February 2003 to protest US threats of invasion.
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15 of 26
Kurdish children play on a broken ferris wheel in Mosul, a month before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Photos:
Kurdish children play on a broken ferris wheel in Mosul, a month before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
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A teenage boy tends to a herd of sheep on the outskirts of Mosul in 2003.
Photos:
A teenage boy tends to a herd of sheep on the outskirts of Mosul in 2003.
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17 of 26
The lake in Saddam Hussein's palace was off-limits to Mosul's ordinary citizens until the dictator was toppled in April 2003.
Photos:
The lake in Saddam Hussein's palace was off-limits to Mosul's ordinary citizens until the dictator was toppled in April 2003.
Hide Caption
18 of 26
The University of Mosul is the second-largest in Iraq and boasted a rich tradition of learning. ISIS militants destroyed thousands of books and manuscripts housed at the university and developed a new curriculum.
Photos:
The University of Mosul is the second-largest in Iraq and boasted a rich tradition of learning. ISIS militants destroyed thousands of books and manuscripts housed at the university and developed a new curriculum.
Hide Caption
19 of 26
Fierce clashes erupted in Mosul in the summer of 2003, and US soldiers found themselves in the midst of urban warfare.
Photos:
Fierce clashes erupted in Mosul in the summer of 2003, and US soldiers found themselves in the midst of urban warfare.
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20 of 26
Iraqi police patrolled the city in 2005.
Photos:
Iraqi police patrolled the city in 2005.
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21 of 26
This children's clothing factory in Mosul was operating after reconstruction efforts in 2007.
Photos:
This children's clothing factory in Mosul was operating after reconstruction efforts in 2007.
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22 of 26
Moslawis walk past trash strewn about a busy market area in Mosul in 2009.
Photos:
Moslawis walk past trash strewn about a busy market area in Mosul in 2009.
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23 of 26
ISIS fighters parade down a main road in a commandeered Iraqi security forces vehicle after the militant group took control of Mosul in June 2014.
Photos:
ISIS fighters parade down a main road in a commandeered Iraqi security forces vehicle after the militant group took control of Mosul in June 2014.
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24 of 26
ISIS destroyed ancient Christian shrines and churches like this 13th-century church in the Assyrian town of Telskuf, not far from Mosul in the Nineveh plains.
Photos:
ISIS destroyed ancient Christian shrines and churches like this 13th-century church in the Assyrian town of Telskuf, not far from Mosul in the Nineveh plains.
Hide Caption
25 of 26
Iraqis displaced from ISIS-controlled towns and villages take shelter at this camp in Qayyarah, a few miles south of Mosul. Aid workers warn an assault on Mosul could trigger an exodus of catastrophic dimensions.
Photos:
Iraqis displaced from ISIS-controlled towns and villages take shelter at this camp in Qayyarah, a few miles south of Mosul. Aid workers warn an assault on Mosul could trigger an exodus of catastrophic dimensions.
Hide Caption
26 of 26
The clock tower of the Dominican Mission Church in Mosul, built in the 1870s, was a gift from Empress Eugenie of France.
Photos:
The clock tower of the Dominican Mission Church in Mosul, built in the 1870s, was a gift from Empress Eugenie of France.
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This print of Mosul is from the 1930s, when Iraq was a kingdom occupied by the British.
Photos:
This print of Mosul is from the 1930s, when Iraq was a kingdom occupied by the British.
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2 of 26
Among the many activities on the Tigris River in Mosul was wool washing.
Photos:
Among the many activities on the Tigris River in Mosul was wool washing.
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3 of 26
The souks, or markets, of Mosul hummed with activity every day.
Photos:
The souks, or markets, of Mosul hummed with activity every day.
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The famous leaning minaret of Mosul's 12th-century Great Mosque of al-Nuri towers in the background of this photo taken in the 1930s.
Photos:
The famous leaning minaret of Mosul's 12th-century Great Mosque of al-Nuri towers in the background of this photo taken in the 1930s.
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Lady Surma was the sister of the patriarch of the Assyrian Christian church in Mosul and became an ambassador for her people.
Photos:
Lady Surma was the sister of the patriarch of the Assyrian Christian church in Mosul and became an ambassador for her people.
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6 of 26
The British writer Agatha Christie arrived at this railway station in Mosul. Agatha Christie spent time in Mosul in the early 1950s while her husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan, excavated the ancient site of Nimrud.
Photos:
The British writer Agatha Christie arrived at this railway station in Mosul. Agatha Christie spent time in Mosul in the early 1950s while her husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan, excavated the ancient site of Nimrud.
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Two women look out over the Tigris from the 12th-century Bashtabiya Castle, a big part of Mosul's identity. ISIS destroyed the castle last year, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Photos:
Two women look out over the Tigris from the 12th-century Bashtabiya Castle, a big part of Mosul's identity. ISIS destroyed the castle last year, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Hide Caption
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President Saddam Hussein waves to supporters from the balcony of the mayor's office in Mosul on a trip to see how farmers were faring under international sanctions.
Photos:
President Saddam Hussein waves to supporters from the balcony of the mayor's office in Mosul on a trip to see how farmers were faring under international sanctions.
Hide Caption
9 of 26
A boy begs for money in 1996. By then, Iraq was reeling under punishing international sanctions and widespread corruption.
Photos:
A boy begs for money in 1996. By then, Iraq was reeling under punishing international sanctions and widespread corruption.
Hide Caption
10 of 26
The mosque of the prophet Yunus (Arabic for Jonah from the Bible) stood on one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh's ruins and served at one time as an Assyrian Church. It contained Jonah's tomb and was destroyed by ISIS in 2014.
Photos:
The mosque of the prophet Yunus (Arabic for Jonah from the Bible) stood on one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh's ruins and served at one time as an Assyrian Church. It contained Jonah's tomb and was destroyed by ISIS in 2014.
Hide Caption
11 of 26
In this 2001 photo, a man stands before the Great Mosque's minaret, which leans like the Tower of Pisa and is nicknamed "al-Habda," or "the hunchback."
Photos:
In this 2001 photo, a man stands before the Great Mosque's minaret, which leans like the Tower of Pisa and is nicknamed "al-Habda," or "the hunchback."
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Kurds mingle with the crowds in central Mosul in 2002, just a few months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Photos:
Kurds mingle with the crowds in central Mosul in 2002, just a few months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
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13 of 26
Children at a school in Mosul in 2002. ISIS developed its own curriculum after it took control of the city in 2014.
Photos:
Children at a school in Mosul in 2002. ISIS developed its own curriculum after it took control of the city in 2014.
Hide Caption
14 of 26
Crowds gathered in Mosul in February 2003 to protest US threats of invasion.
Photos:
Crowds gathered in Mosul in February 2003 to protest US threats of invasion.
Hide Caption
15 of 26
Kurdish children play on a broken ferris wheel in Mosul, a month before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Photos:
Kurdish children play on a broken ferris wheel in Mosul, a month before the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Hide Caption
16 of 26
A teenage boy tends to a herd of sheep on the outskirts of Mosul in 2003.
Photos:
A teenage boy tends to a herd of sheep on the outskirts of Mosul in 2003.
Hide Caption
17 of 26
The lake in Saddam Hussein's palace was off-limits to Mosul's ordinary citizens until the dictator was toppled in April 2003.
Photos:
The lake in Saddam Hussein's palace was off-limits to Mosul's ordinary citizens until the dictator was toppled in April 2003.
Hide Caption
18 of 26
The University of Mosul is the second-largest in Iraq and boasted a rich tradition of learning. ISIS militants destroyed thousands of books and manuscripts housed at the university and developed a new curriculum.
Photos:
The University of Mosul is the second-largest in Iraq and boasted a rich tradition of learning. ISIS militants destroyed thousands of books and manuscripts housed at the university and developed a new curriculum.
Hide Caption
19 of 26
Fierce clashes erupted in Mosul in the summer of 2003, and US soldiers found themselves in the midst of urban warfare.
Photos:
Fierce clashes erupted in Mosul in the summer of 2003, and US soldiers found themselves in the midst of urban warfare.
Hide Caption
20 of 26
Iraqi police patrolled the city in 2005.
Photos:
Iraqi police patrolled the city in 2005.
Hide Caption
21 of 26
This children's clothing factory in Mosul was operating after reconstruction efforts in 2007.
Photos:
This children's clothing factory in Mosul was operating after reconstruction efforts in 2007.
Hide Caption
22 of 26
Moslawis walk past trash strewn about a busy market area in Mosul in 2009.
Photos:
Moslawis walk past trash strewn about a busy market area in Mosul in 2009.
Hide Caption
23 of 26
ISIS fighters parade down a main road in a commandeered Iraqi security forces vehicle after the militant group took control of Mosul in June 2014.
Photos:
ISIS fighters parade down a main road in a commandeered Iraqi security forces vehicle after the militant group took control of Mosul in June 2014.
Hide Caption
24 of 26
ISIS destroyed ancient Christian shrines and churches like this 13th-century church in the Assyrian town of Telskuf, not far from Mosul in the Nineveh plains.
Photos:
ISIS destroyed ancient Christian shrines and churches like this 13th-century church in the Assyrian town of Telskuf, not far from Mosul in the Nineveh plains.
Hide Caption
25 of 26
Iraqis displaced from ISIS-controlled towns and villages take shelter at this camp in Qayyarah, a few miles south of Mosul. Aid workers warn an assault on Mosul could trigger an exodus of catastrophic dimensions.
Photos:
Iraqis displaced from ISIS-controlled towns and villages take shelter at this camp in Qayyarah, a few miles south of Mosul. Aid workers warn an assault on Mosul could trigger an exodus of catastrophic dimensions.
Hide Caption
26 of 26
The clock tower of the Dominican Mission Church in Mosul, built in the 1870s, was a gift from Empress Eugenie of France.
Photos:
The clock tower of the Dominican Mission Church in Mosul, built in the 1870s, was a gift from Empress Eugenie of France.
Hide Caption
1 of 26
This print of Mosul is from the 1930s, when Iraq was a kingdom occupied by the British.
Photos:
This print of Mosul is from the 1930s, when Iraq was a kingdom occupied by the British.
Hide Caption
2 of 26
Among the many activities on the Tigris River in Mosul was wool washing.
Photos:
Among the many activities on the Tigris River in Mosul was wool washing.
Hide Caption
3 of 26
The souks, or markets, of Mosul hummed with activity every day.
Photos:
The souks, or markets, of Mosul hummed with activity every day.
Hide Caption
4 of 26
The famous leaning minaret of Mosul's 12th-century Great Mosque of al-Nuri towers in the background of this photo taken in the 1930s.
Photos:
The famous leaning minaret of Mosul's 12th-century Great Mosque of al-Nuri towers in the background of this photo taken in the 1930s.
Hide Caption
5 of 26
Lady Surma was the sister of the patriarch of the Assyrian Christian church in Mosul and became an ambassador for her people.
Photos:
Lady Surma was the sister of the patriarch of the Assyrian Christian church in Mosul and became an ambassador for her people.
Hide Caption
6 of 26
The British writer Agatha Christie arrived at this railway station in Mosul. Agatha Christie spent time in Mosul in the early 1950s while her husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan, excavated the ancient site of Nimrud.
Photos:
The British writer Agatha Christie arrived at this railway station in Mosul. Agatha Christie spent time in Mosul in the early 1950s while her husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan, excavated the ancient site of Nimrud.
Hide Caption
7 of 26
Two women look out over the Tigris from the 12th-century Bashtabiya Castle, a big part of Mosul's identity. ISIS destroyed the castle last year, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Photos:
Two women look out over the Tigris from the 12th-century Bashtabiya Castle, a big part of Mosul's identity. ISIS destroyed the castle last year, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
Hide Caption
8 of 26
President Saddam Hussein waves to supporters from the balcony of the mayor's office in Mosul on a trip to see how farmers were faring under international sanctions.
Photos:
President Saddam Hussein waves to supporters from the balcony of the mayor's office in Mosul on a trip to see how farmers were faring under international sanctions.
Hide Caption
9 of 26
A boy begs for money in 1996. By then, Iraq was reeling under punishing international sanctions and widespread corruption.
Photos:
A boy begs for money in 1996. By then, Iraq was reeling under punishing international sanctions and widespread corruption.
Hide Caption
10 of 26
The mosque of the prophet Yunus (Arabic for Jonah from the Bible) stood on one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh's ruins and served at one time as an Assyrian Church. It contained Jonah's tomb and was destroyed by ISIS in 2014.
Photos:
The mosque of the prophet Yunus (Arabic for Jonah from the Bible) stood on one of the two most prominent mounds of Nineveh's ruins and served at one time as an Assyrian Church. It contained Jonah's tomb and was destroyed by ISIS in 2014.
Hide Caption
11 of 26
In this 2001 photo, a man stands before the Great Mosque's minaret, which leans like the Tower of Pisa and is nicknamed "al-Habda," or "the hunchback."
Photos:
In this 2001 photo, a man stands before the Great Mosque's minaret, which leans like the Tower of Pisa and is nicknamed "al-Habda," or "the hunchback."
Hide Caption
12 of 26
Kurds mingle with the crowds in central Mosul in 2002, just a few months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Photos:
Kurds mingle with the crowds in central Mosul in 2002, just a few months before the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.
Hide Caption
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23 Mosul over the decades
24 Mosul over the decades
25 Mosul over the decades RESTRICTED
26 Mosul over the decades RESTRICTED
ISIS' last stand in Iraq
Mosul, a city almost 3,000 years old, would represent ISIS' last stand in Iraq. Though ISIS seeks to create an Islamic caliphate, it has lost considerable territory in the past two years, being driven out of Tikrit, Ramadi and Falluja.
Kurdish forces have dug in to the east, north and west of Mosul, and Iraqi forces have been moving slowly from the south.
Iraqi security forces also recently recaptured the Qayyara oil refinery and seized the Qayyara airbase, Iraq's third-largest. The airbase is expected to be a vital staging ground in the battle for Mosul.
On Friday, Abadi visited oil-rich Kirkuk province, where he met with leaders ahead of the operation to liberate the ISIS-controlled city of Hawija, about 100 miles south of Mosul. It has been under ISIS control since 2014, and Iraqi security forces estimate about 1,200 ISIS fighters occupy the city and nearby villages.
Abadi inspected military units and spoke to security officials. He said he was preparing for a military operation to take back more cities from ISIS.
Having nearly cleared ISIS from Anbar and Salaheddin provinces, the retaking of Hawija would be a coup as it would lessen or eliminate the threat to Iraqi and Peshmerga forces who would have their backs to the city during the battle for Mosul.

CNN's Arwa Damon, Ben Wedeman, Hamdi Alkhshali, Daniel Nikbakht, Susanna Capelouto, Nick Paton Walsh, Ghazi Balkiz and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 16, 2016, 08:14:45 PM
To make the liberation of Mosul go smoothly, it would be a good idea to not surround the city, and fight their way through the streets, but to leave an exit path for them to the west, so ISIS can escape to Syria, where they are fighting against Assad and WITH the US.  I don't suppose we will get to hear of it, but look out for signs of that happening.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 17, 2016, 01:49:07 AM
Unfortunately the map isn't very clear, so this one comes from WINEP:

(https://doomsteaddiner.net/palloy/images/Syria.5oct2016.jpg)

It seems the Turkish invasion has stalled because their Syrian rebels aren't very good/loyal, and Turkish infantry will be needed.

http://thesaker.is/latest-developments-in-northern-syria-the-race-for-al-bab-and-the-debacle-of-euphrates-shield-map-included/ (http://thesaker.is/latest-developments-in-northern-syria-the-race-for-al-bab-and-the-debacle-of-euphrates-shield-map-included/)
Latest developments in northern Syria – the race for Al-Bab and the debacle of ”Euphrates Shield”
Aram Mirzaei
October 03, 2016

(http://thesaker.is/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Euphrates-shield.jpg)

Since the onset of the Turkish invasion of northern Syria back in August of 2016, Turkish-backed Jihadists managed to capture a host of villages and towns from both the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and the US-backed “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF). Within weeks, a total of 900 square kilometres had been captured by the Turkish-backed Jihadist operations room, also called “Euphrates shield”.

Not long after these advances, the “Euphrates shield” Jihadists announced their intention to move on the ISIL stronghold of Al-Bab, located to the northeast of Aleppo city. Meanwhile, tensions were growing ever more hostile between the Turkish AKP government and the SDF amid SDF’s refusal to withdraw from the city of Manbij. This was followed by Washington siding with its Turkish NATO-allies as Vice President Joe Biden made it clear that they would cut all their support for SDF if they did not withdraw their forces to the east of the Euphrates river.

Senior Turkish officials said their armed forces will confront as “terrorists” British and foreign volunteers fighting with the SDF militia in Syria, and that any casualties will be the responsibility of their own governments.

In comments to Middle East Eye an adviser to the Turkish Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim, said British, French, American and other foreign citizens fighting alongside the YPG would be treated as “terrorists… regardless of whether they are members of allied countries”.

The statement came after the Turkish government rejected a US-brokered ceasefire between Turkish forces and the Kurdish militias in northern Syria, a week after Turkey invaded the Syrian border town of Jarabulus to allegedly eject ISIL.

“Turkey does not differentiate on the basis of nationality when it comes to membership in terrorist organisations,” said Yunus Akbaba, Yildirim’s adviser.

“Turkey will not hesitate to confront terrorist organisations within the scope of its operation. These are terrorist groups and anyone fighting under their banner will be considered terrorists,” he said.

“It is the responsibility of the countries where they come from to prevent them from joining these groups. Turkish forces will confront them if they are fighting under the banner of terrorist groups, regardless of whether they are members of allied countries,” he added.  [1]

The next day, these foreigners fighting alongside the SDF defiantly responded by saying that they are planning to oppose advances by Turkish-backed Jihadist forces. In a series of statements on Twitter, the so called “Bob Crow Brigade” said that its members were leaving the Raqqa front, to travel to Manbij. They also added that “This ‘FSA’ is now 11km from Manbij which the SDF lost almost 500 lives liberating from ISIL for real. “

“They want to ‘take it back’ from us. ‘Take it back’ for whom? There are no ‘moderate rebels’ locally outside the YPG-led SDF. Certainly not ones backed by Turkey.

“When we came to defend the revolution we meant from all enemies, big or small. We are leaving the Raqqa front and heading to Manbij.”

A week after these events, SDF declared its intent to also move on the town of Al-Bab “Our troops will advance toward Al-Bab city. This will be our next military target. We want to completely liberate this city,” said Ahmed Sultan, deputy commander of the Army of Revolutionaries, an affiliate of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“We will not allow the regime to advance, and we will also prevent the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army [FSA] factions from taking part in the liberation of Al-Bab and its countryside,”

This statement is a clear sign of hostility towards not only the “Euphrates Shield” operations room, but also against the Syrian Army who is the only force in the country that has a legitimate claim to these areas.

Adding to the messy chaos in northern Syria, the Jihadists declared that they will refuse US support. The so called Free Syrian Army’s “Ahrar Al-Sharqiyah” issued a statement on Friday declaring their refusal to work with the U.S. Armed Forces in northern Aleppo. According to their statement, the “Free Syrian Army” will not fight alongside the U.S. Armed Forces because of their support for “PKK separatists” in northern Syria. This came after video footage was released documenting the moment machinegun-mounted trucks carrying US soldiers emerging out of the town as the Turkish-backed rebels chanted Islamist slogans. One of the militants who put on a black balaclava addressed the mob via a loudspeaker, vowing to slaughter the Americans and whoever fights with them, describing them as ‘infidels and pigs’.[2]

Meanwhile, the SDF began their assault against ISIL on Sunday, targeting their positions in the northeastern Aleppo countryside and managed to capture the towns of Hasieh and Hasajek after a violent confrontation that lasted for the better part of a day. With the capture of these two towns, the SDF were left within 20 km of Al-Bab. [3]

For the Turkish-backed Jihadists participating in “Euphrates Shield,” the SDF taking Al-Bab would be disastrous for their offensive because the latter would finally be able to link the two “Rojava” pockets of Afrin and the larger chunk of land east of the Euphrates. The situation went from bad to worse for “Euphrates Shield” as ISIL launched a counter attack last week, just as the Turkish-backed Jihadists were about to enter “Phase 3” of their operation. ISIL quickly recaptured 20 villages and almost reached the border once more. [4] As a result of these setbacks, Phase 3 of the “Euphrates Shield” operation was put on hold due to the Jihadists failures on the battlefield.

It is also worthy of mention that ISIL has during this time managed to destroy several Turkish tanks and killed at least 10 Turkish soldiers. We can conclude that if all were going well with the Euphrates Shield operation, the Hurriyet Daily would not have run the Sept. 21 headline “Infantry to Syria.”

Hurriyet revealed at the end of its report why “Euphrates Shield” cannot continue without Turkish infantry, as a result of ISIL recapturing over 20 villages and the inability of the Turkish-backed Jihadists to commit to the operation, with over 600 of them leaving the front, citing a refusal to accept US support.

From the outset of the Turkish invasion, there were doubts about whether “Euphrates Shield” could be sustained without the involvement of Turkish ground troops. It was not difficult to foresee that the biggest weakness was the inadequacy of the Jihadists assembled under the FSA banner. Since late September and the ISIL counter-offensive, the battle for the northern Aleppo countryside is characterized by what analysts have come to call a “ping-pong” battle, with towns and villages switching hands multiple times over the weeks and with no side able to progress decisively.

There are several possible outcomes that could play out here. Either Turkey sends in its ground troops who have no experience of fighting in Syria, forcing them to fight not only PKK militants inside their own territory, but also the SDF and ISIL in Syria, or it uses more of its Jihadist proxies, relocating them from the Idlib province. Recently, the “Aleppo Shari’ah Council” issued a fatwa, calling the Turkish-backed “Euphrates Shield” offensive a “legal jihad” against the SDF and ISIL. The council made this “jihad” permissible on Saturday because Turkey is a Muslim country and a staunch ally of the Jihadists in Syria. This could mean that the Turkish-backed proxies could be boosted by more hardline Jihadists as they attempt to grab land in northern Syria. Making matters even more complicated, almost all groups participating in this offensive are allied with one of the largest Jihadist groups and an internationally recognized terrorist group: Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front).[5]

Al-Bab’s value goes far beyond Turkey’s goals. The town, controlled by ISIL since January 2014, is one of the most important ISIL strongholds, connecting the terrorist group’s control over areas near Aleppo City in the north to the provinces of Raqqa and Deir Ezzor in the east. Al-Bab is a strategic link in the areas of confrontation among the warring parties in Syria, and it seems to swing the balance in the ongoing battles in northern Syria.

To the south of the imperative town of Al-Bab, the Syrian Army is also gearing up to capture this town in order to create a safe buffer zone for to the Sheikh Najjar Industrial Area in the far eastern parts of Aleppo City. On Monday, the Syrian Army’s elite Tiger Forces were redeployed from the Hama front in order participate in the upcoming offensive near the ISIL stronghold of Al-Bab. Thousands of soldiers poured in to eastern Aleppo countryside as they prepare for the largest Army offensive in this area since November 2015 when they freed the besieged soldiers at Kuweires Military Airport. [6]

The Syrian Army has about 10 km to go before they reach the gates of Al-Bab, as they are currently the closest force positioned near the town of Arran.

The crucial town of Al-Bab finds itself directly in the line of fire of all the forces in Syria competing to control it. Each party is seeking to strengthen their military position in the province and grab land as ISIL withdraws. Aleppo has proven to be the province where the fiercest battles are taking place. It can be concluded that the one that controls this province, has a good chance of getting the upper hand in the ever more chaotic Syrian conflict. The race for Al-Bab is on.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 17, 2016, 05:49:35 PM
Curiouser and curiouser.

When cruise missiles are inbound to the destroyer or any of the other ships it is shielding, milliseconds are important, so anti-missile systems must be on automatic, and the assessment afterwards is made by reading the logs of what happened.  I would be really surprised if they couldn't work out what had happened afterwards, including how many and what kind of missiles they were, what they were targeting, and above all whether they had been hit or not.

If it takes days to sort things out, what is going to happen in a busy war theatre?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-17/story-changes-pentagon-no-longer-sure-yemen-fired-missiles-us-ship (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-17/story-changes-pentagon-no-longer-sure-yemen-fired-missiles-us-ship)
The Story Changes: The Pentagon Is No Longer Sure Yemen Fired Missiles At A US Ship
Tyler Durden
Oct 17, 2016

Last Thursday, after two consecutive missile attacks on the US Navy ship USS Mason, which allegedly were launched by Houthi rebel forces in Yemen, the US entered its latest military engagement in the middle east, when the USS Nitze launched several Tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at radar installations located by the Bab el-Mandab straight, and which enabled the launch of at least three missiles against the U.S. ship.

As Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said, "these limited self-defense strikes were conducted to protect our personnel, our ships and our freedom of navigation," adding that "these radars were active during previous attacks and attempted attacks on ships in the Red Sea," including the USS Mason, one of the officials said, adding the targeted radar sites were in remote areas where the risk of civilian casualties was low. That said, as we highlighted, the U.S. said while there growing indications, there was no official proof that Houthi fighters, or forces aligned with them, were responsible for the attempted strikes which targeted US ships. Still, the lack of concrete proof did not bother the US which, cavalier as usual, unleashed the missile assault on Yemeni territory, breaching the country's sovereignty and potentially killing an unknown number of people.

However, today - four days after the US "counterattack" - the story changes. According to Reuters earlier today the Pentagon declined to say whether the USS Mason destroyer was targeted by multiple inbound missiles fired from Yemen on Saturday, as initially thought, saying a review was underway to determine what happened.

"We are still assessing the situation. There are still some aspects to this that we are trying to clarify for ourselves given the threat -- the potential threat -- to our people," Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook told a news briefing."So this is still a situation that we're assessing closely."

And yet, the US had no problem with "clarifying" the source of the threat on Thursday when it fired American cruise missiles at Yemeni targets.

At this point we refer readers to what we said on Thursday, when we once again put on the cynical hat, and voiced what those who have not been brainwashed by US media thought, to wit:

    In retrospect one now wonders if the "cruise missiles" that fell close to the US ships were merely the latest false flag providing the US cover to launch another foreign intervention.To be sure, the Houthis, who are battling the internationally-recognized government of Yemen President Abd Rabbu Mansour al-Hadi, denied any involvement in Sunday's attempt to strike the USS Mason.

A few days later, we have the closest thing possible to a confirmation that, even as the Pentagon itself admits, the "open and closed" case that Yemeni rebel fighters would, for some unknown reason, provoke the US and fire unperforming cruise missiles at a US ship, has just been significantly weakened. Of course, it if it wasn't Yemen rebels, the only logical alternative is the adversary of Yemen's rebels: Saudi Arabia. Although with the Saudis in the press so much as of late, almost exclusively in a negative light, we doubt that the Pentagon's "assessment" would ever get to the point where it would admit that America's Saudi allies launched missiles at US ships in a false flag attempt to get the US involved in the Yemen conflict by attacking the Saudi opponents and in the process aiding and abetting the Saudi execution of even more "war crimes."
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on October 17, 2016, 06:58:00 PM
Curiouser and curiouser.

When cruise missiles are inbound to the destroyer or any of the other ships it is shielding, milliseconds are important, so anti-missile systems must be on automatic, and the assessment afterwards is made by reading the logs of what happened.  I would be really surprised if they couldn't work out what had happened afterwards, including how many and what kind of missiles they were, what they were targeting, and above all whether they had been hit or not.

If it takes days to sort things out, what is going to happen in a busy war theatre?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-17/story-changes-pentagon-no-longer-sure-yemen-fired-missiles-us-ship (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-17/story-changes-pentagon-no-longer-sure-yemen-fired-missiles-us-ship)

Their "unsureness" has nothing to do with the telemetry and data.  I'm sure they know exactly where the missiles came from and who fired them.

What they are unsure of is exactly who is best to blame here for this.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: azozeo on October 18, 2016, 05:52:29 AM
Palloy,
It's all over the newz that the U.S. wants to start a war with Russia.
The U.S. has "ALL" of it's B-1 & B-2 bombers at Diego Garcia currently, to the point that
the aircraft have to be parked on access roads. This is unprecedented. Try to keep up here, will ya'....
Over this past weekend, Vlad ordered "ALL" of the Russian navy out of port in case of thermo-nuclear attack.
Russia has publicly announced to it's citizens to locate their fallout shelters for their area of town.
There's no clowning around here. This is it. The banksters are broke & they'll take everyone down with them.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: azozeo on October 18, 2016, 06:11:15 AM
http://stateofthenation2012.com/?p=52301 (http://stateofthenation2012.com/?p=52301)

http://www.youtube.com/v/K7hjjjKy3vQ&fs=1
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: azozeo on October 18, 2016, 06:17:50 AM
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-11/russian-government-officials-told-immediately-bring-back-children-studying-abroad (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-11/russian-government-officials-told-immediately-bring-back-children-studying-abroad)

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on October 18, 2016, 07:18:22 AM
Palloy,
It's all over the newz that the U.S. wants to start a war with Russia.
The U.S. has "ALL" of it's B-1 & B-2 bombers at Diego Garcia currently, to the point that
the aircraft have to be parked on access roads. This is unprecedented. Try to keep up here, will ya'....
Over this past weekend, Vlad ordered "ALL" of the Russian navy out of port in case of thermo-nuclear attack.
Russia has publicly announced to it's citizens to locate their fallout shelters for their area of town.
There's no clowning around here. This is it. The banksters are broke & they'll take everyone down with them.

I'm going to get my legs fixed up and then they will get blown off by a nuclear blast?  Just my luck.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: azozeo on October 18, 2016, 10:07:27 AM
Palloy,
It's all over the newz that the U.S. wants to start a war with Russia.
The U.S. has "ALL" of it's B-1 & B-2 bombers at Diego Garcia currently, to the point that
the aircraft have to be parked on access roads. This is unprecedented. Try to keep up here, will ya'....
Over this past weekend, Vlad ordered "ALL" of the Russian navy out of port in case of thermo-nuclear attack.
Russia has publicly announced to it's citizens to locate their fallout shelters for their area of town.
There's no clowning around here. This is it. The banksters are broke & they'll take everyone down with them.

I'm going to get my legs fixed up and then they will get blown off by a nuclear blast?  Just my luck.

RE

RE,
I haven't seen this big of a nuclear standoff since Jack Kennedy & Nikita Khrushchev squared off back in '61

Should be a real crowd pleaser. Double butter on the popcorn please.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: azozeo on October 18, 2016, 10:29:41 AM
The sad part about is.....
That criminal Kenyan in gov't housing hasn't said peep to the American people about this.

Germany advised their citizens to hunker down with food, water & weaponry.
Czech republic has done the same.
Now Russia is warning their citizens to return home & put the preps in place.
What do we get ? Hillary's happy horseshit & Big Don's bullshit. Fuckin' excellent  :coffee:
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: azozeo on October 18, 2016, 12:12:59 PM
You want to see something crazy. Jump to the 22 min mark of the vid.
You'll see an F-18 Hornet painted in Ruskie camo & badging. WTF ? whiskey tango foxtrot for sure.
WW III is a false flag for the world gov't to prepare for Nibiru or ?

http://www.youtube.com/v/Fzize8i33f0&fs=1
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 18, 2016, 03:09:11 PM
Quote
Quote from: azozeo on Today at 05:52:29 AM

    Palloy,
    It's all over the newz that the U.S. wants to start a war with Russia.
    The U.S. has "ALL" of it's B-1 & B-2 bombers at Diego Garcia currently, to the point that
    the aircraft have to be parked on access roads. This is unprecedented. Try to keep up here, will ya'....
    Over this past weekend, Vlad ordered "ALL" of the Russian navy out of port in case of thermo-nuclear attack.
    Russia has publicly announced to it's citizens to locate their fallout shelters for their area of town.
    There's no clowning around here. This is it. The banksters are broke & they'll take everyone down with them.


I am aware of the reports of a build up of planes and ships at Diego Garcia, and I have even taken the time to check out the veracity of it, which you obviously haven't.  Do you always take claims on YouTube citing a report by "anonymous" at face value - obviously you do.

The claim first surfaced on The Saker's site, in a World SITREP report October 16th by "Baaz" (sometimes written as "BAAZ").  There is no explanation of who or what Baaz is, and no trace of anything like baaz.com .   Baaz says he was contacted by an anonymous person at an undisclosed date.  So there is absolutely no source for the claim.  From there it has spread across all the tinfoil.com sites.

So what strategic value has Diego Garcia for whatever is to come next?  Here is the map:

(https://doomsteaddiner.net/palloy/images/DiegoGarcia.map.jpg)

As you can see, it is 5,800 Km from Syria, and even further from Russia, while Turkey and the Mediterranean are right next door, so it can't be that.  The US already has bases in the Persian Gulf (Bahrain and Qatar), and in the Red Sea (Djibouti), so Diego Garcia could be a staging point for bolstering those bases, but this report says it is a build up at DG, not an increase in traffic through DG.

So in the absence of any source, or date, or strategic reason, I conclude the report is probably a fake, and didn't waste peoples' time publishing it here.

While we're at it, the call for Russians with family abroad to return to Russia, The Saker says this is probably more to do with Putin's ongoing tussle with the Russian oligarchs over shifting money out of Russia, and nothing to do with WW3.

However WW3 remains a serious possibility if the US attempts to bomb Syrian Government forces.  The Russians have just boosted their air defenses (S-400 etc) and warned that "unidentified aircraft/missiles" may be shot down.  Obama had a big "strategy in Syria" meeting last Friday, (14th October), which we have heard nothing about since.  Instead all the news has been about Iraq and the assault on Mosul.  We shall have to wait and see how the 1.5 million civilians in Mosul fare under US's humanitarian bombardment.  Hopefully they will do better than they did in Kobane, and small town which took months to capture, by which time it was total rubble.

Quote
AZ: Try to keep up here, will ya'....

I'll try.  Will you?
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: azozeo on October 18, 2016, 03:36:29 PM
Your intels the same as mine, second hand & filtered.
You also neglected to mention all this build up over Nibiru. I haven't.
Your lacking at best. Either get the fuck busy, or put down the damn shovel & let someone else do a thorough job.
No skimming the surface here. Dig man, DIG !
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: azozeo on October 18, 2016, 03:45:28 PM
Having your X Box infected with a virus is not newz ! A parking problem with B-1 & B-2 stealth bombers on a sand bar in the middle of the
ocean is NEWZ !
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 18, 2016, 04:46:05 PM
Nibiru is all bollocks.
Having YOUR computer infected with a virus which encrypts all your files and asks for a ransom to get them back, or gives them all to NSA, is important.
Something that is made up is NOT news.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: azozeo on October 18, 2016, 06:23:10 PM
Nibiru is all bollocks.
Having YOUR computer infected with a virus which encrypts all your files and asks for a ransom to get them back, or gives them all to NSA, is important.
Something that is made up is NOT news.


http://www.youtube.com/v/hS1okqbnePQ&fs=1
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: K-Dog on October 18, 2016, 09:11:11 PM
Quote
Nibiru is all bollocks.
Having YOUR computer infected with a virus which encrypts all your files and asks for a ransom to get them back, or gives them all to NSA, is important.
Something that is made up is NOT news.

All they did to me was turn Windows against me so every USB memory stick or SD card that was plugged into my old box was EATEN.  Not erased, eaten and destroyed!  It  is also erie when they set your computer so it turns itself on just before you use your computer.  That trick is done by knowing when your phone connects to your own wi-fi and sending a trigger to wake up your machine from what you thought was sleep.  If you know someone turns on their box when they get home you can own them if you have billion dollar budgets.  If the remote turn-on trick happens to you it definitely will grab your attention but not in any good way.

In the same month two hard drives in a week trashed with cylindrical read errors.  One was brand new to replace the first.  I took them to a computer store to find out what happened to them.

Don't mess with mother nature or the men in black. If you know they are out there do not send a public alarm telling where they are and what they are doing.   It can get expensive. 
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: azozeo on October 19, 2016, 09:14:20 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/lxVao1HnL1s&fs=1
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 19, 2016, 03:04:29 PM
All pretense at cooperation with "our partners" seems to have been dropped.  Now threats are being issued about what will happen if the other side takes another escalatory step.  Russia could end overflights by US planes into Afghanistan, which would require very expensive work-arounds.

https://www.rt.com/news/363346-russia-response-us-sanctions/ (https://www.rt.com/news/363346-russia-response-us-sanctions/)
Russia to respond to any new US sanctions with ‘painful’ measures – deputy FM
19 Oct, 2016

Moscow will find response measures that would be “painful” for Washington if the US decides to continue toughening its sanctions against Russia, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told Russian MPs.

“If the US opts to further toughen sanctions in defiance of common sense and in disregard of its experience that has already been quite painful for them, then we will find measures in our toolbox that will have a painful impact, particularly in terms of America’s positioning in the world,” Ryabkov told the deputies of the Russian State Duma, ahead of a vote on a bill suspending the Russian-American deal on reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium.

The Russian deputy foreign minister also said that the US continues to issue threats “on a daily basis” concerning the imposition of new sanctions against Russia “under various pretexts.” He added that 281 Russian legal entities and 81 officials, including a number of high-ranking figures, are now on the US sanctions list.

At the same time, the US “continues its efforts aimed at bringing its military infrastructure nearer to Russian borders and forming anti-Russian alliances with its European allies,” he said.

Russia’s response moves are “strictly proportionate and adequate” and show that “Russia pursues a rational line and is not guided by emotions,” Ryabkov stressed.

He went on to suggest that Russia could always shift gears and resort to “asymmetrical” measures in its response. He pointed to the recently suspended agreements between the US and Russia in the nuclear energy field as an example.

The “essence” of the present crisis in relations between the US and Russia lies in the fact that “under the current administration, [US foreign policy] became even more arrogant, forceful and focused on the attempts to impose its will on other countries,” the diplomat said, adding that such policy “is doomed to failure from the start in relations with our country.”

“The White House has only itself to blame for the problems in many parts of the world as well as for the difficulties in relations with Russia,” Ryabkov said.

On Wednesday, the Russian State Duma voted in favor of a bill submitted by the president’s office that suspends a deal between the US and Russia on reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium extracted from decommissioned warheads.

The deal, ratified in 2000, envisaged a specific procedure of disposing plutonium by fabricating nuclear plant fuel from it. However, the US later said that this procedure was too costly and instead opted for mixing plutonium with special dilutants and storing it indefinitely.

Russia regarded this as a breach of the agreement and stressed that the US could now potentially restore its weapons-grade plutonium.

The bill adopted on Wednesday lists measures the US should take for the agreement to be resumed. This includes reducing the US military presence on the territory of the NATO members that joined the bloc since September 1, 2000, as well as the lifting of all anti-Russian sanctions and compensating the loss Russia suffered as a result.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree suspending the reprocessing agreement on October 3, in view of “a threat to strategic stability posed by the hostile actions of the US against Russia.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the time that it was a “forced measure” that should become “a signal to Washington.”

On October 5, Moscow also announced the suspension of cooperation agreements with the US in the nuclear and energy sectors. Russia said that the agreements covering scientific and technical cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes were “in a sleep mode” in the past two years because of US actions, and that Moscow’s move simply “reflects the reality.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 19, 2016, 03:34:50 PM
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-19/russia-deploying-largest-naval-force-cold-war-syria-nato-diplomat (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-19/russia-deploying-largest-naval-force-cold-war-syria-nato-diplomat)
Russia Is Deploying The Largest Naval Force Since The Cold War For Syria: NATO Diplomat
Tyler Durden
Oct 19, 2016

Just moments ago we reported that in the latest escalation involving Syria, the Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov was now sailing past Norway on its way to Syria, where it is expected to arrive in just under 2 weeks.  As part of the carrier naval group, Russia also deployed an escort of seven other Russian ships, which we dubbed the "most powerful Russian naval task force to sail in northern Europe since 2014" according to Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reports.

It turns out it was more than this and as Reuters reported second ago, citing a NATO diplomat, Russia is in fact deploying the largest naval force since end of Cold War to reinforce its Syria campaign.

    SENIOR NATO DIPLOMAT SAYS RUSSIA IS DEPLOYING ALL OF NORTHERN FLEET AND PART OF BALTIC FLEET TO REINFORCE SYRIA CAMPAIGN
    DEPLOYMENT IS RUSSIA'S LARGEST NAVAL DEPLOYMENT SINCE END OF COLD WAR - NATO DIPLOMAT
    DEPLOYMENT WILL INCREASE NUMBER OF RUSSIAN FIGHTER BOMBERS IN SYRIA, MOSCOW MAY LAUNCH FINAL AIR ASSAULT ON ALEPPO IN TWO WEEKS - NATO DIPLOMAT

While there is little we can add to this that we did not just say in the previous post, we want to remind readers what the east Meditteranean looked like in the summer of 2013, when the first escalation between Russia and the US converted the sea off the Syrian coastline into a parking lot for warships.

(http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/09/20/map%20syria%20sea.jpg)

In two weeks, it is about to get much busier.

* * *

For those who missed it, here are the highlights from our previous post on the composition of the Russian flotilla:

According to a report by the Norwegian military which released pictures taken by surveillance aircraft, we know that the Kuznetsov accompanied by a fleet of Russian warships, is currently on its way to Syria and is sailing in international waters off the coast of Norway near Trondheim. Photos of the vessels, which include the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov and the Pyotr Velikiy battle cruiser, were taken near Andoya island, in northern Norway on Monday.

(http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/10/16/carrier%20trip_0.png)

As reported by Reuters , a spokesman for the Norwegian military intelligence service said the country's armed forces frequently releases such footage, while newspaper VG quoted General Morten Haga Lunde, head of the service, as saying the eight ships involved "will probably play a role in the deciding battle for Aleppo". According to Russia's TASS state news agency, the aircraft carrier would carry 15 Su-33 and MIG-29K jet fighters and over 10 Ka-52K, Ka-27 and ??-31 helicopters.

(http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/10/16/carrier%20russian_0.jpg)

The naval group which includes the carrier and its escort of seven other Russian ships, is the most powerful Russian naval task force to sail in northern Europe since 2014, Russia's Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily reports. The carrier can carry more than 50 aircraft and its weapons systems include Granit anti-ship cruise missiles.

Next in the flotilla, in terms of firepower, is the Russian nuclear-powered battle cruiser Peter the Great.

(http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/10/16/carrier%202_0.jpg)

The Kirov-class cruiser Peter the Great escorts the carrier

As BBC adds, a Norwegian Lockheed P-3 Orion reconnaissance plane, monitoring the force, photographed the ships. MiG-29 Fulcrum jets and combat helicopters were visible on the carrier's deck.

The other Russian surface ships in the group are: two large anti-submarine warships - the Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov - and four support vessels.



http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-aircraft-carrier-commentary-idUSKCN12J1L2 (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-aircraft-carrier-commentary-idUSKCN12J1L2)
Commentary: Why Putin is unleashing his only aircraft carrier
Peter Apps
19 Oct 2016

Somewhere in the autumn gales and rain squalls of the North Sea, Russia’s only aircraft carrier is heading south to war.

According to Russia’s TASS news agency, the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier and seven more vessels sailed Saturday from the Northern Fleet’s Arctic headquarters of Severomorsk. It’s the eighth time the ship and its escorts have made the journey to the Mediterranean, a trip that has become a key part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy to reassert Moscow’s naval strength and reach.

This deployment, though, is very different. Moscow has spent considerable resources over the last decade developing the ability to conduct operations from the carrier, launched in the dying days of the Soviet Union. But unlike its U.S., French, British and Italian counterparts, it has never used the ship in anger. That’s about to change. Perhaps within as little as two weeks, its SU-33 and MiG-29 jets will be slamming ordinance into downtown Aleppo and other parts of Syria.

On one level, the Kremlin has no particular need to use carrier-mounted aircraft. If it wanted to increase the number of aircraft operating over Syria, it could simply send more ground-based jets to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s airfields.

Sending the carrier and its escorts is in many ways a much more expensive and complex way of achieving the same thing. Nor is it without risk – in the past, Russia’s warships have sometimes shown an alarming tendency to break down, often traveling with their own oceangoing tugs.

Moscow clearly wishes to show that it can emulate Washington by sending a task force thousands of miles and then conducting weeks or months of military activity – an exercise that will highlight Russia’s renewed military capability. It will further complicate the political calculus for the United States and others when it comes to finding a way forward in Syria. And, of course, it offers a neat opportunity to remind a host of countries in northern Europe that Moscow cannot be ignored.

On previous passages through the North Sea, the carrier has deliberately operated jets and aircraft close by Norwegian oil platforms, an act of intimidation that forced nearby civilian helicopters to be grounded. This time, there are reports the carrier may conduct bombing exercises in international waters north of Scotland.

Royal Navy warships will shadow the Russians as they pass down the coast and through the English Channel, a move that will likely attract considerable media coverage on both sides.

Russia’s senior naval commanders will be hoping this deployment strengthens their hand in face-offs between branches of the military. Until now, most of the glory in recent military campaigns – Ukraine in the last two years, Georgia in 2008, Chechnya, or now Syria – has gone to ground and air forces. Now they can showcase themselves – as well as building the necessary skills and capabilities to develop a truly enduring carrier strike capability.

With Russia maintaining a permanent naval presence off Syria since 2013, the United States and its allies were already keeping track of exactly what the refurbished Russian Navy could and couldn’t do. China, too, will also unquestionably be interested – its first aircraft carrier, Liaoning, was originally the Soviet Varyag, sister ship to the Kuznetsov.

Both Moscow and Beijing have plowed considerable resources into weaponry to take out U.S. carriers – indeed, developing such technology has been at least as important to them as getting their own aircraft carriers operational. U.S. officials, however, say that latest generation of anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles remain largely unproven.

The United States and its allies have their own tools to take out enemy carriers – and, decades more experience practicing such tactics. The U.S. Navy might be spread thin across the globe, but it could still put together enough combat power – be it in submarines, surface warships or land-based aircraft – to do the job.

It wouldn’t be easy. The main focus of the Kuznetsov battle group may be hitting targets on the ground in Syria, but it is also relatively capable of defending itself against maritime foes. The carrier is also reported to be carrying up to a dozen antisubmarine helicopters, making it much harder for any NATO submarine to sneak in close. According to Russian media, the group also contains the battle cruiser Peter the Great as well as two anti-submarine warships. They too could be sunk – but would almost certainly take NATO warships with them.

Russia’s sailors might be new to carrier strike operations, but they are also the only navy to have fought with anti-ship missiles since Britain went to war in the Falklands in 1982. During the 2008 war with Georgia, a selection of Russian warships and Georgian counterparts are believed to have tangled in brief but bloodied battle, the details of which remain largely opaque. What is clear, however, is that casualties on both sides were high, at least in proportion to the number of relatively small ships involved.

All of this feeds back into the battle on the ground that counts – that for the future of Syria in general, and Aleppo in particular. Already, the United States knows that halting the onslaught of Russian and Syrian forces might well take military action – at the very least, shooting down a handful of aircraft or targeting airbases.

Now it might also mean a cataclysmic offshore battle with the pride of the Russian Navy. Which, of course, is why it almost certainly won’t happen, under this administration or the next.

A Russian carrier conducting strike operations in the Mediterranean doesn’t just reassert Moscow’s power, it further complicates the world’s geopolitics. And that’s precisely what Vladimir Putin wants.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 19, 2016, 09:34:42 PM
As you can see from the map (last post), the Russian convoy could just as easily go around the west of the UK, but instead has chosen to go through the English Channel.  This is to get maximum media exposure for the maneuver in the western media.  Calling it "a cruise", and "Some media outlets even speculated that the ships could take part in the Russian military operation in Syria", and using "intercept" instead of "escort", is just RT having a bit of fun at EU media expense, and perhaps causing the story to get another round of coverage.

As it enters the Channel shipping lanes, the armada could switch all its attack radars on, and claim that it was only being safety-conscious.

https://www.rt.com/news/363403-russia-air-carrier-europe-reaction/ (https://www.rt.com/news/363403-russia-air-carrier-europe-reaction/)
Overreaction? Russia’s air carrier group tour to Med provokes military, media hysteria in Europe
20 Oct, 2016

A cruise of the Russian Northern Fleet’s naval group, including Russia’s only aircraft carrier, to the Mediterranean Sea has provoked a nervous response from some European states, who said they could send their vessels to intercept the group.

The Netherlands said that it is ready to send HNLMS Evertsen, a guided-missile frigate of the Dutch Royal Navy, to intercept the Russian air carrier.

Verkerk later added that the Admiral Benelux, the Commanding Officer of the combined military staff of the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Naval Component of the Belgian Armed Forces, will also send Belgian frigate, Leopold I, to join the escort mission.

The Russian naval group headed by Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s only aircraft carrier, left the port of Severomorsk at 3:00 p.m. Moscow time (12 noon GMT) on October 15 for the eastern Mediterranean. It also includes the battle cruiser Peter the Great, the anti-submarine vessel Severomorsk, and five other vessels of Russia’s Northern Fleet.

The group is now conducting three-day exercises in the Northern Sea 170 nautical miles (273 kilometers) away from the Norwegian coast. The drills involve practice flights of the carrier’s aircraft. The exercises were closely monitored by the HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen, a frigate of the Norwegian navy, RIA Novosti reports.

In the meantime, Norwegian media outlet VG.no called the Russian naval group’s cruise “the biggest demonstration of Russian military power” in recent years.

Sweden also sent its reconnaissance aircraft to monitor the movements of the Russian air carrier group. A Gulfstream 4 recon airplane with the call-sign SVF623 approached the area of the Northern Sea the group was passing through Wednesday, Interfax reported.

Russia has “deployed all of the Northern fleet and much of the Baltic fleet in the largest surface deployment since the end of the Cold War,” Reuters reported, referring to the group that includes only a part of the Russian Northern Fleet and citing an unnamed senior NATO diplomat.

On October 15, British media reported that the UK Royal Navy had readied the HMS Duncan, a Type 45 destroyer, and HMS Richmond, a Type 23 frigate, to intercept the Russian vessels should they approach British waters, as it is expected that the air carrier group will pass through the English Channel on its way to the Mediterranean.

An RAF Rivet Joint spy plane, C130 Hercules and Typhoon jets were also reportedly on standby.

Meanwhile, coverage of the drills in the British press could at best be described as sensationalist. Some media outlets even speculated that the ships could take part in the Russian military operation in Syria.

The Russian Navy has not confirmed having any battle missions in the Middle East. The group will “ensure a naval presence in operationally significant areas of the world’s oceans,” the Russian Navy said in an official press release, adding that “particular attention will be paid to ensuring the safety of maritime navigation and other maritime economic activities of the Russian Federation, as well as respond to new types of modern threats such as piracy and international terrorism.”

The tour of duty comes as relations between Russia and the West have been tense because of the Syrian crisis and the situation in Ukraine.

The decision to send the Admiral Kuznetsov on its latest mission was made in late September, and the tour of duty is expected to last four to five months. The Russian air carrier has previously carried out military operations in the eastern Mediterranean over the last few years, aiding Russian Air Forces battling militants including the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and the Al-Qaeda offshoot Al-Nusra Front in Syria.

Admiral Kuznetsov was commissioned in 1990 and is so far Russia’s only aircraft carrier. Manned by a crew of 1,960 naval personnel, it has Granit anti-ship cruise missiles and as well as Blade and Chestnut gun systems in its arsenal and can transport more than 50 aircraft.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 20, 2016, 02:46:53 PM
Just a snippet of a longer article, that explains that Syria has been targeted by the US/EU sanctions since 2003, at which time the main issue was the subjugation of Iraq, and oil/gas pipelines wasn't an issue at all. 
Quote
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syria_Accountability_Act

The bill's stated purpose is to end what the United States sees as Syrian support for terrorism, to end Syria's presence in Lebanon, which has been in effect since the end of the Lebanese Civil War in 1990, to stop Syria's alleged development of WMDs, to cease Syria's illegal importation of Iraqi oil and to end illegal shipments of military items to anti-US forces in Iraq.

You might remember that the military control of Iraq was hampered by a porous border between Iraq and Syria, which apparently was the fault of the Assad Government and not of the invading US forces.

https://gowans.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/our-sieges-and-theirs/ (https://gowans.wordpress.com/2016/10/20/our-sieges-and-theirs/)
Our Sieges and Theirs
Stephen Gowans
20 Oct 2016

[...]

And then there’s the largely untold story of the 13 year-long siege imposed on a whole country, Syria, by the United States and European Union. That siege, initiated by Washington in 2003, with the Syria Accountability Act (http://www.congress.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:H.R.1828:), and then followed by EU sanctions, blocks Western exports of almost all products to Syria and isolates the country financially. This massive, wide-scale siege plunged Syria’s economy into crisis even before the 2011 eruption of upheavals in the Arab world [29]—demonstrating that Washington’s efforts to force Syrian president Bashar al-Assad to step down began long before the Arab Spring. The roots of US hostility to Assad’s government are found in the danger of its becoming “a focus of Arab nationalistic struggle against an American regional presence and interests” [30] – another way of saying that the Arab nationalist goals of unity, independence and socialism, which guide the Syrian state, are an anathema to the US demand—expressed in the 2015 US National Security Strategy—that all countries fall in behind US global “leadership.”

Under US siege warfare, unemployment shot up, factories closed, food prices skyrocketed and fuel prices doubled. [31] “Syrian officials” were forced “to stop providing education, health care and other essential services in some parts of the country.” [32] Indeed, so comprehensive was the siege, that by 2011 US “officials acknowledged that the country was already under so many sanctions that the United States held little leverage.” [33]



29 Nada Bakri, “Sanctions pose growing threat to Syria’s Assad”, The New York Times, October 10, 2011

30 Moshe Ma’oz, Bruce Cumings, Ervand Abrahamian and Moshe Ma’oz, Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth about North Korea, Iran, and Syria, The New Press, 2004, p .207

31 Nour Malas and Siobhan Gorman, “Syrian brass defect, bouying rebels”, The Wall Street Journal, March 9, 2012.

32 Joby Warrick and Alice Fordham, “Syria running out of cash as sanctions take toll, but Assad avoids economic pain”, the Washington Post, April 24, 2012

33 David E. Sanger, “U.S. faces a challenge in trying to punish Syria”, The New York Times, April 25, 2011
Title: Aleppo: Who still lives in this decimated city -- and why?
Post by: RE on October 20, 2016, 05:47:46 PM
http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/20/middleeast/who-is-left-in-aleppo/ (http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/20/middleeast/who-is-left-in-aleppo/)

Ghostly new video shows Aleppo in ruins 01:06
Aleppo: Who still lives in this decimated city -- and why?

(http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/161019104656-gfx-map-aleppo-syria-control-super-169.jpg)

By Holly Yan and Eyad Kourdi, CNN

Updated 5:16 PM ET, Thu October 20, 2016

(CNN)Imagine New York City getting annihilated by airstrikes. Or London getting wiped off the map.
Unless something changes soon, that's the fate awaiting Aleppo, Syria's massive economic and cultural hub.
"Between now and December, if we cannot find a solution, Aleppo will not be there anymore," UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said this week.
Yet more than 1 million people remain, unsure when or where the next bomb or mortar shell will strike.
Here's what their city looks like -- and why they're still there.
What Aleppo looks like now
Aleppo went from a bustling metropolis of more than 2 million people -- about the size of Houston -- to a devastated war zone in five years. Entire blocks of buildings are reduced to rubble.
The city is about 70 square miles. That's almost twice the size of Paris.
Control of the city is heavily fractured, split between the Syrian regime, rebels, Kurds and ISIS.
The regime controls much of western Aleppo; rebels seeking to end President Bashar al-Assad's rule control much of the east.
Who's still there
Hundreds of thousands have fled Aleppo or died from the violence. But many remain -- and not necessarily by choice.
About 1.5 million people live in regime-held parts of Aleppo, according to the United Nations.
The part most devastated by airstrikes, rebel-held eastern Aleppo, has about 250,000-275,000 residents who are trapped by government troops.
Jameel Mustafa Habboush, 13, receives oxygen as he is pulled from rubble after Russian airstrikes on eastern Aleppo.
Jameel Mustafa Habboush, 13, receives oxygen as he is pulled from rubble after Russian airstrikes on eastern Aleppo.
There are "no ways to get out of this city. It's completely under siege," said Abdulraham Almawwas, vice president of the White Helmets, a civil defense volunteer group.
For those wounded by the airstrikes, medical care is hard to come by. Roughly 30 doctors remain in the eastern part of the city -- about 1 doctor for every 10,000 people, said Adham Sahloul, spokesman for the Syrian American Medical Society.
Life in rebel-held Aleppo: 'It is horrifying'
In the eastern neighborhood of Al-Shaar, Mohammed spends much of his day searching for food to feed his wife, mother and 2-year-old son.
"There is some bread in Aleppo, but you have to search well to find it," said the 29-year-old, whom CNN is not identifying for safety reasons.
Much of eastern Aleppo looks like an obliterated wasteland.
Much of eastern Aleppo looks like an obliterated wasteland.
The government siege around rebel-held Aleppo has choked off the supply of food, fuel and other daily necessities.
The regime has used this tactic -- dubbed "Starve or Surrender" -- before, including in the opposition stronghold of Homs. That city suffered mass starvation.
Syrian children dying of hunger
Mohammed, the young father, says every day is a struggle for survival.
"Basically, my whole daylight is just me trying to find stuff," he said. And when he does find food, "it is insanely expensive," describing prices 50 times higher than they were six years ago.
Mohammed declined to describe his job, saying it would likely identify him. But he says business is almost nonexistent.
"Now I don't have any more work to do, so I am living on some savings," he said.
The Aleppo native said he wishes he left before the government siege began.
This is Aleppo...
This is Aleppo...

This is Aleppo... 00:45
"The regime has been bombarding the city over the last three years. It's very, very hard to live here," he said. "The new (bunker-buster) missiles are horrible. I can't stand living here anymore. It is a nightmare."
Why he stays:
Mohammed said he doesn't have the money to leave.
"I can't afford to go to Turkey with my wife, son and mother. It would cost me around $8,000 -- at least -- just to get to Turkey," he said.
"And then I don't even have any idea what can happen next, and if I will be able to work."
Mohammed said if he's able to escape, he'd like to go to a rebel-held part of the Aleppo countryside.
"I don't trust the regime," he said. "They would arrest me for sure."
Life in regime-held Aleppo: 'We are being shelled regularly'
Even parts of western Aleppo are under attack.
Francona: A matter of time before rebels lose Aleppo
syria military strategy rick francona interview_00003313

Francona: A matter of time before rebels lose Aleppo 02:33
Salam, a 35-year-old mother of two, says she has to tread carefully when walking her son to school.
"It is not safe. We are being shelled regularly by the opposition with mortars," said Salam, whom CNN is not identifying for safety reasons.
"When I take my kid to school, we try to walk under the balconies and try to stay away from open areas. We don't walk in open streets. And we try to reduce the time we spend out of our home as much as possible."
Why she stays:
Like Mohammed, Salam was born in Aleppo. But unlike Mohammed, she actually wants to stay.
Salam is luckier than many of the residents living on the other side of Aleppo. She still has a workplace and job, teaching French at the same school her son attends.
"If the situation stayed like this security-wise, I think I will stay, because I don't want to live in a tent. Also, I don't want to be very poor and not be able to pay rent and bills," she said.
"We also don't want to lose the house. We worked for years to buy it."
What the regime says Aleppo looks like
The Syrian regime recently released a tourism video promoting Aleppo. The panoramic views of government-held parts were accompanied by an acoustic version of the theme music to the HBO television series "Game of Thrones."
Syria tourism video uses 'Games of Thrones' music
syria parallel universe anderson ctw pkg_00020528

Syria tourism video uses 'Games of Thrones' music 02:59
Some may find the "Game of Thrones" music an odd choice, since the show's fictional world of Westeros is a violent place engaged in its own bloody civil war.
The aerial shots feature wide, green streets and swimming pools.
And last month, Syrian state-run media mocked the notion that Aleppo was one of the "world's most dangerous" cities, tweeting a video of locals enjoying the city's "thriving nightlife."
Trying to survive
With much of eastern Aleppo reduced to rubble, some residents have found a way to turn debris into much-needed fuel.
An eastern Aleppo man makes fuel from heated plastic. Residents say one kilogram of plastic can make a liter of fuel.
An eastern Aleppo man makes fuel from heated plastic. Residents say one kilogram of plastic can make a liter of fuel.
Locals discovered they can heat the plastic from broken chairs and pipes in a boiler and turn it into fuel, CNN affiliate RFE/RL'S Radio Farda reported.
"We can't explain it exactly, but if the waste plastic is from good material, the output of this process is gasoline," one man said. "If the plastic quality isn't good, the end product is diesel."
Aleppo residents use an old boiler to make fuel out of plastic.
Aleppo residents use an old boiler to make fuel out of plastic.
But that's just one temporary fix. If Aleppo doesn't survive past December -- as de Mistura portended could happen -- the crisis may get even more catastrophic.
That's why Mohammed wishes he could leave, like the millions of refugees who have managed to escape.
Mohammed said he's worried about his son, who has never lived a day without war.
"I want him to get out of this place as soon as we can."

CNN's Schams Elwazer, Sean O'Key, AJ WIllingham and Donie O'Sullivan contributed to this report.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 25, 2016, 11:14:59 PM
Carter doesn't say who the boots on the ground are going to be, only that it will be "Syrians enabled by us" , and won't be the Kurds.  The other question is: will al-Nusra fight to protect ISIS against the US ?

https://www.rt.com/usa/364100-carter-raqqa-isis-russia/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/364100-carter-raqqa-isis-russia/)
US ‘laying groundwork’ for Raqqa assault, no role for Russia – Carter
25 Oct, 2016

The US-led coalition is moving into the practical phase of an attack on de-facto ISIS capital Raqqa in Syria, which is likely to begin before the battle for Mosul is won, according to the US Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

“We have already begun laying the groundwork to commence the isolation in Raqqa," the Pentagon chief said at a press conference in Paris with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.

According to Carter, the two officials agreed that the 13-state military coalition that gathered in the French capital would proceed with a sense of “urgency and focus” and confirmed previous statements that there will be a likely “overlap” with the assault on Mosul, which began earlier this month.

Earlier on Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande warned that many of the ISIS fighters in Mosul could simply sneak out among refugees and relocate to Raqqa, unless the coalition cuts them off.

There were up to 6,000 Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters in the Iraqi city before fighting began, while Raqqa, which Carter described as “the nexus of much of [IS] operational planning," will be defended by an estimated 3-4,000 recruits.

Carter stated that the bulk of the assault contingent would be assembled from “capable and motivated local forces that we identify and then enable.”

“The lasting defeat of [Islamic State] can’t be achieved by outsiders; it can only be achieved by Syrians enabled by us,” said Carter.

With the battle over Mosul – a city of 1.5 million people before it was conquered by Islamic State in 2014 – expected to last weeks or months, the Pentagon is not committing itself to a tight deadline.

"I think everything is trending positively, and that we should be able to commence that effort sometime in the near future. And again, I can't even ballpark 'near future' right now but it's imminent," said a senior Pentagon official, speaking to Reuters and other media anonymously in Paris.

Russia has not been invited to join the effort. The US-led coalition has condemned Moscow’s involvement in Syria, which was officially invited by the government of President Bashar Assad.

“Russia is not a participant in our Raqqa plan,” said Carter, who insisted that despite the breakdown of a proposed US and Russia-mediated ceasefire and accusations over Aleppo the two sides have a shared interest in defeating IS.

“We do deconflict our coalition operations with Russia through a very professional military-to-military channel. That channel is active every day, and everyone behaves themselves very professionally on both sides in that channel,” Carter added.

The Kurds, another major faction that has played a key role in combatting Islamist threats in Syria, are expected to stay away from Raqqa, in part because it lies outside the area they view as their unrecognized homeland.

"Truthfully, the Kurds that I’ve dealt with don’t intend – they’re not comfortable going into Raqqa. They know they can play a role in shaping and isolating Raqqa but it’s not their intent to be involved in the actual seizure of the city," said the Pentagon source cited by Reuters.

The Syrian administration has so far not reacted to the plan, though has previously condemned the international force – which has supported the uprising against President Assad since 2011 – for violating the country’s sovereignty.

The US-led coalition has executed air strikes on Raqqa since 2014, despite having no UN mandate to operate inside Syria. It has not been in position to carry out a full-scale ground assault.

Despite saying he was “encouraged” by the progress of the campaign against ISIS, both Carter and Hollande warned separately that the group may further evolve its tactics and redirect its efforts towards guerilla insurgency or suicide attacks in Europe.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 28, 2016, 06:43:52 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/364620-russia-idlib-school-lavrov/ (https://www.rt.com/news/364620-russia-idlib-school-lavrov/)
‘Russian airstrike’ against Idlib school a hoax – Russian FM
28 Oct, 2016

Western accusations against Russia concerning its reported involvement in attacking a school in the Syrian province of Idlib are fabricated and based on a hoax story, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said.

“Currently a story is being spun concerning the October 27 attack on Idlib school, which is directed primarily against Russia and Syria. We are accused of being the ones who carried out strikes against this school,” the foreign minister said during a joint press conference with his Syrian and Iranian counterparts.

“In response to these fabrications, Russia’s Defense Ministry has released factual information that refutes these statements and shows the falsity of this hoax,” Lavrov stated.

On Thursday, Russian Defense Ministry released photos made by an UAV dispatched to the area of the alleged airstrike that showed “no signs of damage to the roof of the school, or craters from airstrikes around it.”

The ministry also said that a video published by opposition groups on the ground and circulated by a range of Western media outlets “appears to consist of more than 10 different shots, filmed at different times of the day and in different resolutions, that were edited into a single clip.”

The findings of the Russian drone could easily be verified by the American side, as during its photo mission a US MQ-1B Predator UAV was in the same area, according to Moscow.

So far, all available evidence suggests that it was not an aerial attack, a former Pentagon official Michael Maloof told RT. Allegations of an attack, which is said to have claimed the lives of 22 children and six teachers, were first made on Wednesday by the controversial two-man Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London, and the Civil Defense Network, also known as the White Helmets.

Following the initial reports, the US and France immediately accused Russia and Syria of conducting the strike on school, despite the lack of independent verification.

“It's either the Syrians – the regime of Assad – or the Russians,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the media in Paris at that time.

“We know it was one of the two,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said during a press briefing in Washington the next day.

The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNICEF, the UN children’s body, both issued statements condemning the reported attack and urging investigation into the incident. Moscow also urged an open and independent probe.

The behavior of Western, and in particular French, leaders is “hypocritical,” Marie-Christine Arnautu, a French Member of the European Parliament and National Front’s vice-president for social affairs, told RT, adding that “everyone says we should combat Syrian threat of Islamism but behavior on the ground is ambiguous as it fights again Assad – and not against Islamism.”

The true goal of the West is apparently “is to defeat Bashar Assad,” which according to Arnautu is “a priority and their only aim, instead of fighting Islamism and resolving humanitarian crisis, which is absolutely urgent in Syria.”

Meanwhile, director of the Crisis Research Institute Mark Almond has raised questions concerning the West’s inability to substantiate its claims with any proof.

“Both Russia and the US have sophisticated satellites and other forms of reconnaissance. We have seen … that Russians can produce pictures of how things are going in Iraq, so the US ought to be able to produce evidence for this various instances that have become scandalous in the western media in the recent three or four weeks,” Almond told RT.

There is no evidence suggesting it was either Russia or Syrian government forces that carried out the strike, Almond said, adding that it “is not completely impossible that the rebels… may be callous enough to shoot into their own territory to set Russia and Syrian government up.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 29, 2016, 07:25:39 AM
So Syria has told Turkey not to fly in Syria.  But what have they told the US?

https://www.rt.com/news/364634-turkey-halts-syria-airstrikes/ (https://www.rt.com/news/364634-turkey-halts-syria-airstrikes/)
Ankara halts airstrikes after Syria vows to ‘down Turkish planes,’ activates air defenses – report
29 Oct, 2016

Turkish jets have reportedly not taken part in the Euphrates Shield operation in neighboring Syria for a week now over the fears of being shot down by local air defenses after Damascus promised to prevent any aerial incursions.

Ankara halted air support for its ground incursion into Syria on October 22, after Damascus vowed to shoot down Turkish Air Force planes over Syrian skies, a Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity. The official added that the coalition forces have also decreased the number of flights in northern Syria.

Syria’s air defense capabilities have been widely boosted after Russia deployed its mobile S-400 and S-300 missile batteries earlier this year to protect its personnel on the ground. Russian hardware has the ability to shoot down planes and cruise missiles over at least 250 miles (402km) in all directions from western Syria.

Two days before Turkey halted its military flights over Syria, Damascus, which called the Turkish invasion a violation of national sovereignty, warned that it would shoot down any Turkish warplanes.

“Any attempt to once again breach Syrian airspace by Turkish warplanes will be dealt with and they will be brought down by all means available,” warned Damascus on October 20. The presence of Turkish troops in Syria is a “dangerous escalation and flagrant breach of Syria’s sovereignty”

The response from Damascus came after Turkish planes targeted Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), the fighting wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), near al-Bab in northern Aleppo the day before.

Turkish forces crossed into Syria on August 24, under the pretext of targeting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) positions along the border. Turkey has been supporting the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the ground.

In addition to jihadist fighters, the Turkish troops involved in Operation Euphrates Shield also engaged the YPG militia, part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). One of Turkey’s primary objectives in the operation is to block the path of Kurdish forces trying to form a link between their Afrin and Kobani cantons. Syrian rebels, with the help of the Turkish military, are slowly making their way across northern Aleppo province.

The source told the Turkish daily that the pace of the offensive has been largely impacted by the lack of air support. The FSA’s advance toward Al-Bab has faltered due to the lack of Turkish airstrikes, he said, pointing out that Turkish offensive only secured 5km in the last three days.

Earlier in the week Turkey’s military accused the Syrian government forces of attacking FSA fighters in the city of Marea in northern Aleppo province. Despite the attack which allegedly killed two rebels, Ankara promised to proceed with the operation.

“We will not stop fighting against the Daesh [Arabic pejorative term for IS] terrorist group due to the regime forces' attacks. The Euphrates Shield operation will be continued until retaking of the city of al-Bab in order to create a security zone for the return of refugees,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Wednesday.

On Friday, Turkish General Staff said in a statement that the FSA had managed to capture around 164 residential districts since the beginning of the operation, which on Saturday entered its 67th day.

At the beginning of October, the Turkish parliament extended cross-border military operations into Syria and Iraq against Kurdish and IS forces for another year.
Title: Turkey sacks 10,000 more civil servants, shuts media in latest crackdown
Post by: RE on October 30, 2016, 05:58:04 PM
I'm going to make this thread a Sticky.

RE

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-dismissals-idUSKBN12U04L (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-security-dismissals-idUSKBN12U04L)

World News | Sun Oct 30, 2016 | 5:34pm EDT
Turkey sacks 10,000 more civil servants, shuts media in latest crackdown

(http://s3.reutersmedia.net/resources/r/?m=02&d=20161030&t=2&i=1159551176&w=&fh=&fw=&ll=780&pl=468&sq=&r=LYNXMPEC9T097)
Turkey's President Tayyip Erdogan attends a Republic Day ceremony at Anitkabir, the mausoleum of modern Turkey's founder Ataturk, to mark the republic's anniversary as he is flanked by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (R) in Ankara, Turkey, October 29, 2016. REUTERS/Umit Bektas


By Humeyra Pamuk | ISTANBUL

Turkey said it had dismissed a further 10,000 civil servants and closed 15 more media outlets over suspected links with terrorist organizations and U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, blamed by Ankara for orchestrating a failed coup in July.

More than 100,000 people had already been sacked or suspended and 37,000 arrested since the abortive putsch in an unprecedented crackdown President Tayyip Erdogan says is crucial for wiping out the network of Gulen from the state apparatus.

Thousands more academics, teachers, health workers, prison guards and forensics experts were among the latest to be removed from their posts through two new executive decrees published on the Official Gazette late on Saturday.

Opposition parties described the move as a coup in itself. The continued crackdown has also raised concerns over the functioning of the state.

"What the government and Erdogan are doing right now is a direct coup against the rule of law and democracy," Sezgin Tanrikulu, an MP from the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), said in a Periscope broadcast posted on Twitter.

A Turkish court on Sunday formally arrested Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, co-mayors of the largely Kurdish southeastern city of Diyarbakir on charges of membership of a terrorist organization after five days in detention, sources said.

Earlier police used rubber pellets to break up several hundred protesters marching against their arrests. The internet has been largely down in the city for several days, witnesses said.

Turkey's southeast has been rocked by the worst violence in decades since the collapse last year of a ceasefire between the state and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), designated a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States and the European Union.

The local prosecutor had said Kisanak, a lawmaker before becoming Diyarbakir's first female mayor in 2014, and Anli had given speeches sympathetic to the PKK, called for greater political autonomy for Turkey's estimated 16 million Kurds and incited violent protests in 2014.

MISUSE

The extent of the crackdown has worried rights groups and many of Turkey's Western allies, who fear Erdogan is using the emergency rule to eradicate dissent. The government says the actions are justified given the threat to the state posed by the coup attempt, in which more than 240 people died.

The executive decrees have ordered the closure of 15 more newspapers, wires and magazines, which report from the largely Kurdish southeast, bringing the total number of media outlets and publishers closed since July to nearly 160.

Universities have also been stripped of their ability to elect their own rectors according to the decrees. Erdogan will from now on directly appoint the rectors from the candidates nominated by the High Educational Board (YOK).
Also In World News

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Lale Karabiyik, another CHP lawmaker, said the move was a clear misuse of the emergency rule decrees and described it as a coup d'etat on higher education. Pro-Kurdish opposition said the decrees were used as tools to establish a 'one-man regime'.

The government extended the state of emergency imposed after the coup attempt for three months until mid-January. Erdogan said the authorities needed more time to wipe out the threat posed by Gulen's network as well as Kurdish militants who have waged a 32-year insurgency.

Ankara wants the United States to detain and extradite Gulen so that he can be prosecuted in Turkey on a charge that he masterminded the attempt to overthrow the government. Gulen, who has lived in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania since 1999, denies any involvement.

Speaking to reporters at a reception marking Republic Day on Saturday, Erdogan said the nation wanted the reinstatement of the death penalty, a debate which has emerged following the coup attempt, and added that delaying it would not be right.

"I believe this issue will come to the parliament," he said, and repeated that he would approve it, a move that would sink Turkey's hopes of European Union membership. Erdogan shrugged off such concerns, saying that much of the world had capital punishment.

(Additional reporting by Seyhmus Cakan in Diyarbakir; Editing by Clelia Oziel and Alexandra Hudson)
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on October 31, 2016, 06:34:23 PM
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/364818-raqqa-key-us-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/op-edge/364818-raqqa-key-us-syria/)
Raqqa now key to US strategy in Syria and the wider region
John Wight
31 Oct, 2016

To understand the situation in Aleppo is to understand the key to the conflict in Syria at this juncture: Will Washington and its allies or the Syrian Army and Russia liberate Raqqa, the capital of the so-called Islamic State.

It does not take a military genius to discern Washington’s strategy in prolonging the military operation being conducted by the Syrian Army, supported by Russia, to liberate eastern Aleppo – which remains occupied by Nusra Front and the ‘moderates’ fighting alongside the Salafi-jihadist group.

Keeping the Syrian and Russian military forces bogged down in eastern Aleppo is key to allowing the US-led coalition to complete the operation, currently underway, to take the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIS, before continuing an east-west advance across the Syrian border to take Raqqa. Raqqa will then be established as the de facto capital of so-called moderate Syrian forces, which will re-group there, presumably under cover of a US-imposed no-fly zone, to become a counterweight to the authority of the Assad government in Damascus. Such a development would also establish a permanent US military presence in a country that has long been key to Washington’s objective of dominating the region.

That aspect of this strategy is, of course, illegal under the terms of the UN Charter, and is of minor consequence to an imperial power that has long viewed international law as an optional extra when it comes to pursuing its strategic and geopolitical objectives across the globe. When it comes to the Middle East we are talking a region rich in natural resources, specifically oil. And though not vital in terms of US energy needs, the sea of oil upon which the region sits is undeniably key to the stability of global energy prices. And that is vital to the US economy.

As Gal Luft, Senior Adviser to the United States Energy Security Council, observed in a 2014 report, “While the US is not dependent on the Middle East for the physical supply of oil, it is dependent on the region for price stability. The US economy is highly susceptible to spikes in oil prices.” Luft goes on, “Over the past 40 years every major hike in oil prices was followed by a recession, and most of those spikes occurred as a result of turmoil in the Middle East: the Arab Oil Embargo, the Iran-Iraq War, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, etc.”

As far back as January, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was discussing the importance of Raqqa to US military strategy in Syria. In a speech to the 101st Airborne Division at its Fort Campbell HQ in Kentucky on 13 January, he said, “…our campaign plan’s map has got big arrows pointing at both Mosul and Raqqa. We will begin by collapsing ISIL’s control over both of these cities and then engage in elimination operations through other territories ISIL [ISIS] holds in Iraq and Syria.”

It is an objective the US Defense Secretary trumpeted again in a recent interview with NBC. "It's been long a part of our plan that the Mosul operation would kick off when it did,” Carter revealed. “This was a plan that goes back many months now and that Raqqa would follow soon behind."

    300 Syrian civilians killed by US-led coalition in 11 probed strikes – Amnesty https://t.co/OpMMa76HWE (https://t.co/OpMMa76HWE)
    — RT (@RT_com) October 26, 2016

The howling at the moon we’ve been treated to in recent weeks from Washington and its European proxies, accusing Syria and Russia of targeting civilians in eastern Aleppo, is nothing more than deflection. It is designed to blunt what is an extremely difficult military operation to liberate a civilian population being held hostage by the sectarian butchers of Nusra and other terrorist groups, using women and children as human shields. We know this to be true because despite Russian and Syrian forces regularly establishing humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to leave eastern Aleppo they are prevented from doing so on pain of execution.

The hypocrisy is laid bare when we consider the lack of concern in Washington for civilians living in government-controlled western Aleppo, who have been subjected to a reign of terror in the form of daily and nightly rocket attacks, including poison gas shells, from Nusra and their ‘moderate’ allies in the east of the city.

Washington’s overarching strategy in the conflict also allows us to understand its refusal to separate those ‘moderate rebel’ groups it claims to have some influence over from their Nusra counterparts, as per the terms of the ceasefire agreed between Washington and Moscow at the beginning of September. The ceasefire was broken just six days after it began by a US-led airstrike killed dozens of Syrian troops during a battle against ISIS in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, which Washington claimed was a mistake. Such a claim should be taken with the usual pinch of salt, especially when we consider that Deir Ezzor lies adjacent to Raqqa in eastern Syria and therefore will be vital to any future joint Syrian and Russian operation to liberate the city.

Reaching Raqqa before the Syrian Army and its allies is now essential for the US, constituting as it does a last throw of the dice when it comes to its objective of bringing down the Assad government in Damascus, which has long been a thorn in the side of US hegemony in the region along with the regional agendas of its closest Middle East allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

With Syria fatally weakened, US strategists believe, Hezbollah and Iran, the main prize, are also weakened - not to mention Russian power diminished when it comes to the wider struggle for a multipolar alternative to the unipolar status quo.

In a repeat of the race for Berlin at the end of the Second World War, with the outcome shaping the future of Europe and wider world in the context of the ensuing Cold War, the future of Syria, the Middle East, and a world crying out for a multipolar alternative to US global hegemony could now boil down to a race for Raqqa.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on November 01, 2016, 07:51:46 PM
As well as PKK, Turkey doesn't like Iraqi Shi'ite militias, and presumably the Iranian militias, in northern Iraq, and is threatening to attack them if they attack Iraqi towns.  Iraq's Government has told him to leave, but he said no.  He's got a bloody cheek, but tanks speak louder than words.  It's easy to see the potential for this to go wrong.

https://www.rt.com/news/365006-turkey-iraq-border-troops/ (https://www.rt.com/news/365006-turkey-iraq-border-troops/)
Turkey reportedly amasses tanks, troops near border to Iraq, vows to tackle ‘threat’
1 Nov, 2016

Ankara is deploying heavy armor, including tanks to the border near Iraq, media reports say. Turkish Defense Minister has meanwhile said that the military will tackle potential “increase” of threats to the country.

Turkish tanks as well as armored vehicles have started moving into the town of Silopi, located close to the border with Iraq, Turkish Dogan news agency and Reuters report citing army sources.

According to the country’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik, the deployment is part of anti-terrorist fight and is also linked to the developments in Iraq.

"We will not allow the threat to Turkey to increase," Isik told broadcaster A Haber as cited by Reuters. Ankara has “no obligation” to wait until the fighters of the Kurdistan Workers Partry (PKK), considered by Turkey terrorists, will seize territories in Iraq's Sinjar region, around 115 km south of Silopi, Isik added.

Earlier in October, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned the PKK of using bases in northern Iraq, where its main bases are located. “If there is a threat posed to Turkey, we are ready to use all our resources including a ground operation to eliminate that threat,” Hurriyet daily news quoted the official as saying.

Strong words came from the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday who promised to increase troops deloyments near Silopi. The leader also cautioned Shiite militias in northern Iraq of advancing at the town of Tal Afar, home to ethnic Turkmen.

“If al-Hashd al-Shaabi [Shiite militia] causes terror there in [Tal Afar], our response to it will be different,” Erdogan said.

The deployment comes at a tense time when Ankara and Baghdad are at odds over the Turkish military presence in Iraq.

On October 23, Turkish tanks and artillery aided the advance of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters against IS jihadists near stronghold of Mosul. That came despite Baghdad’s repeated protests against Turkish military presence on its soil.

“This is something the Iraqis will handle and the Iraqis will liberate Mosul and the rest of the territories,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on October 5, declining any Turkish involvement.

Ankara officially maintains some 25 tanks as well as 150 troops and a staff of “military advisors” estimated to reach some 2,000 at the Bashiqa camp near Mosul. Abadi called the presence a violation of sovereignty and said Turkish “inside Iraqi territories has no justification.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on November 04, 2016, 07:45:45 PM
This must go down as the weakest piece of political propaganda put out this Guy Fawkes Day. 

Boris: "... intelligence .. suggests that the gentleman in question has actually vacated the scene himself ...”  Can Boris say HOW "intelligence" knows this?  Did they have observers watching all the tunnel exits in the desert around Mosul and saw him emerge?  If so, why did they let him go?

https://www.rt.com/uk/365329-isis-leader-mosul-baghdadi/ (https://www.rt.com/uk/365329-isis-leader-mosul-baghdadi/)
British spies say ISIS leader escaped Mosul as Iraqi forces stormed city
4 Nov, 2016

The leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who urged his followers to “not retreat” from Mosul when faced with Iraqi forces, has fled the city himself, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has revealed.

The terror leader’s reported escape comes after al-Baghdadi released an audio recording telling his followers to keep fighting until the bitter end to hold the city, which is Islamic State’s (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) last major foothold in Iraq.

Al-Baghdadi told his followers in Arabic to “make their blood flow like rivers.”

Speaking in the House of Lords, Johnson, said: “It is a cruel irony that some of the intelligence we have, you may know, suggests that the gentleman in question has actually vacated the scene himself and is nonetheless using internet media to encourage people to take part in violence.”

It is believed that the IS leader may have fled using a series of underground tunnels that were uncovered by Iraqi forces. Johnson did not say where al-Baghdadi might be.

The foreign secretary assured MPs that IS would be driven out of Mosul, which has been governed by the terrorist group since June of 2014.

“The House can be sure that Daesh [IS] will be driven from Mosul, but this is the toughest task that Iraq’s security forces have yet encountered, and success will take time.”

Johnson warned that IS extremists were becoming increasingly violent as their defeat becomes inevitable.

“The terrorists have threatened to inflict a scorched earth campaign once the loss of Mosul becomes inevitable.

“Already, they have set oil wells ablaze and destroyed a sulphur plant south of the city, releasing clouds of noxious gas.

“Daesh’s vindictiveness in defeat may cause many of Mosul’s people to flee,” he warned.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on November 04, 2016, 07:56:39 PM
Placed second in the Weakest Propaganda Piece On Guy Fawkes Day Awards:

https://www.rt.com/usa/365379-terror-attack-report-election/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/365379-terror-attack-report-election/)
Possible Al-Qaeda attacks on Election Day? Anonymous report gets mixed reaction online
4 Nov, 2016

In what has become de rigueur days before American elections since the War on Terror was declared, a new report suggests a terrorist attack could occur in the US on the eve of Election Day. Americans took to social media to mock and fret over the news.

On Friday, four days before the November 8 elections, CBS News cited anonymous US authorities, including a senior FBI official, in reporting that US intelligence has warned joint terrorism task forces — made up of federal, state, and local law enforcement — that militant Islamic-fundamentalist group Al-Qaeda, the great bogeyman of US politics since the attacks of September 11, 2001, "could" attack targets in the US, particularly New York, Texas, and Virginia on Monday, November 7.

The CBS News report does not offer a specific rationale as to why those states could be targeted. The senior FBI official said that counterterrorism units in the US will "remain vigilant."

"The counterterrorism and homeland security communities remain vigilant and well-postured to defend against attacks here in the United States," the official told CBS News. "The FBI, working with our federal, state and local counterparts, shares and assesses intelligence on a daily basis and will continue to work closely with law enforcement and intelligence community partners to identify and disrupt any potential threat to public safety."

The New York Police Department said it is assessing the credibility of the report, but added that it "lacks specificity."

"In every case, we take any intelligence reports regarding New York City seriously," the NYPD said.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said his office is monitoring the situation, urging Texans to "remain vigilant over the next several days."

Social-media responses to the news included fear, dismissal, mockery, and charges of election fixing aimed at news outlets and the presidential candidates, especially Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Al-Qaeda Surprise?

The presidential elections of 2004 and 2008 included similar reports — that Al-Qaeda or a similar or associated terror group was planning an "October Surprise" attack in the US — in the weeks prior to their respective Election Days. The 2006 and 2010 midterm elections also came with Al-Qaeda-scaremongering by US authorities.

Prior to the 2012 elections, the Obama administration was criticized for its response to the attack on a US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, in September 2012, and whether to call the event "terrorism" in what became a major issue in the campaign. Administration officials, such as then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, suggested Al-Qaeda was responsible, but there has been no definitive evidence of such a link. With this backdrop in mind, no major reports of potential terrorism occurred prior to Election Day 2012.

Since then, the US has focused the bulk of its attention not on Al-Qaeda but the Islamic State, a separate militant group that was borne of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was formed to counter the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Islamic State has come to control large swaths of Syria and Iraq in recent years. Since 2014, a US-led military campaign against Islamic State has resulted in 15,959 strikes total in Iraq and Syria as of November 2, according to the Pentagon.

In fact, in Syria, the US is in league with Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra, supplying the group with weapons beginning as late as 2013. Furthermore, Gulf allies of the US — including Saudi Arabia and Qatar — are supplying weapons and funding to Al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in Syria.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on November 06, 2016, 08:15:45 PM
Last night's TV news on Mosul had a map showing Iraqi forces having entered greater Mosul from the east, and being just outside on the northern side, while being 15 Km away from the south, and nobody to the west.  They didn't say whose map it was.  The southern force was reported to have taken the last remaining town, Hammam Al-Alil, without it having been surrounded.

If the map is correct, this arrangement of forces is designed to signal to ISIS to leave the last town, and Mosul itself, and head west to Syria.  That makes things easier for Iraq, but worse for Syria.  Whether ISIS in Mosul will take the bait and make the 500 Km exposed trip to Raqqa is another matter.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on November 09, 2016, 05:10:45 PM
Gamesmanship continues off the coast of Syria.

https://www.rt.com/news/366069-russian-ships-dutch-submarine/ (https://www.rt.com/news/366069-russian-ships-dutch-submarine/)
Russian ships chase away ‘dangerously maneuvering’ Dutch monitoring submarine – MoD
9 Nov, 2016

A Russian naval group in the Mediterranean spotted and chased away a Dutch submarine, which approached the ships to monitor their activities, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced. Moscow criticized Holland’s “awkward” actions.

On Wednesday, the Russian “naval search-and-assault group of large anti-submarine vessels, ‘Severomorsk’ and ‘Vice-Admiral Kulakov,’ spotted the diesel-electric submarine (presumably ‘Walrus’) of the Netherlands’ Navy, [which] tried to approach the carrier battle group of the Northern Fleet for monitoring,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

The Dutch vessel was “easily” spotted some 20 kilometers away from the Russian naval group.

“[Russian] ships were tracking [the Dutch submarine’s] maneuvers and forced it to leave the area of the carrier group,” the statement by the MoD said.

Moscow has also warned that “awkward attempts to dangerously maneuver in close proximity to the Russian naval group” by the Dutch Navy could lead to “serious navigation accidents.”

The Russian naval group also practiced its anti-submarine defense capabilities after spotting the Dutch vessel.

“Anti-submarine forces of the Russian Navy battle group have conducted a training exercise on the organization of anti-submarine defense.”

Moscow also noted that it is not the first time Russian vessels were shadowed by NATO military during the mission.

“The carrier group of the [Russian] Northern fleet has regularly spotted NATO submarines on its path during the whole trip,” the Russian Defense Ministry announced.

It added that earlier in November, a nuclear ‘Virginia [class]’ submarine tried to “track” the Russian military ships.

“It is worth noting that having a large tonnage, vessels of this class are not designed to conduct surveillance operations.”

The Russian MoD noted that all “attempts” by foreign states to approach the vessels are “monitored in real time, which is a normal maritime practice.”

Russian warships, including the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the Pyotr Veliky battle cruiser, and the Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov anti-submarine warfare destroyers, were sent to the Mediterranean on October 15.

The departure created quite a media buzz, with NATO countries, including the UK, sending warships to “mark” the Russian naval group.

Moscow, however, stressed that ships were dispatched to “ensure a naval presence in operationally significant areas of the world’s oceans,” including to secure maritime navigation.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: agelbert on November 09, 2016, 06:13:58 PM
Gamesmanship continues off the coast of Syria.

https://www.rt.com/news/366069-russian-ships-dutch-submarine/ (https://www.rt.com/news/366069-russian-ships-dutch-submarine/)
Russian ships chase away ‘dangerously maneuvering’ Dutch monitoring submarine – MoD
9 Nov, 2016

A Russian naval group in the Mediterranean spotted and chased away a Dutch submarine, which approached the ships to monitor their activities, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced. Moscow criticized Holland’s “awkward” actions.

On Wednesday, the Russian “naval search-and-assault group of large anti-submarine vessels, ‘Severomorsk’ and ‘Vice-Admiral Kulakov,’ spotted the diesel-electric submarine (presumably ‘Walrus’) of the Netherlands’ Navy, [which] tried to approach the carrier battle group of the Northern Fleet for monitoring,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said.

The Dutch vessel was “easily” spotted some 20 kilometers away from the Russian naval group.

“[Russian] ships were tracking [the Dutch submarine’s] maneuvers and forced it to leave the area of the carrier group,” the statement by the MoD said.

Moscow has also warned that “awkward attempts to dangerously maneuver in close proximity to the Russian naval group” by the Dutch Navy could lead to “serious navigation accidents.”

The Russian naval group also practiced its anti-submarine defense capabilities after spotting the Dutch vessel.

“Anti-submarine forces of the Russian Navy battle group have conducted a training exercise on the organization of anti-submarine defense.”

Moscow also noted that it is not the first time Russian vessels were shadowed by NATO military during the mission.

“The carrier group of the [Russian] Northern fleet has regularly spotted NATO submarines on its path during the whole trip,” the Russian Defense Ministry announced.

It added that earlier in November, a nuclear ‘Virginia [class]’ submarine tried to “track” the Russian military ships.

“It is worth noting that having a large tonnage, vessels of this class are not designed to conduct surveillance operations.”

The Russian MoD noted that all “attempts” by foreign states to approach the vessels are “monitored in real time, which is a normal maritime practice.”

Russian warships, including the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, the Pyotr Veliky battle cruiser, and the Severomorsk and Vice-Admiral Kulakov anti-submarine warfare destroyers, were sent to the Mediterranean on October 15.

The departure created quite a media buzz, with NATO countries, including the UK, sending warships to “mark” the Russian naval group.

Moscow, however, stressed that ships were dispatched to “ensure a naval presence in operationally significant areas of the world’s oceans,” including to secure maritime navigation.



   :partytime2:   
Title: Possible Scenarios of the Conflict in Syria
Post by: RE on November 17, 2016, 05:36:29 PM
http://www.youtube.com/v/ibNCZM2bMaI
Title: Unraveling the Syria War Chessboard (Empire Files 017)
Post by: RE on November 19, 2016, 05:33:40 PM

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on November 19, 2016, 08:10:34 PM
That was a good interview with Veejay Prasad.  My take from it is his point that "you can't take shortcuts to regime change", which is precisely what the US did in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.  Sure you can storm in and decapitate the regime, but if you disenfranchise a whole powerful section of society, the power vacuum results in chaos.

At 8:05 he briefly mentions "soft regime change in Japan", saying no one has heard of it.  I certainly hadn't, so I looked into it further.  He is referring to the DPJ government of Yukio Hatoyama, which in 2009 broke the LDP stranglehold on power since 1956.  The DPJ had made many promises, including less reliance on the US, especially removal of US bases and a peaceful reorientation towards Asia.  So you can see why he might have become a US target for regime change. 

Hatoyama was almost immediately engulfed in a donations scandal, although he was never charged, and failed to accomplish the removal of US bases, falling back in line with the earlier LDP plan to relocate the bases.  Within eight months he had lost the confidence of his party and resigned in favour of Naoto Kan. 

The only other piece of geopolitical intrigue at the time was the highly suspicious sinking of the South Korean Navy ship "Cheonan", apparently by a North Korean submarine.  The Cheonan had grounded in an area of shoals in disputed NK-SK waters during exercises.  When the ship was raised, its propellers looked like this:

(https://doomsteaddiner.net/palloy/images/Cheonan.propellors.jpg)

After this its propellers would have made such a racket that its sonar signature could have been misinterpreted, and ANY submarine could have hit it, or a bottom-fixed sonar-triggered sea mine.  Anyway, the dastardly North Koreans did it, obviously.

Quite how this could have caused Hatoyama to cave in to US pressure over bases, I don't understand - sensible theories or more info welcome.  Alternatively, he could just have been corrupt and incompetent, and this wasn't a regime change at all.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on November 29, 2016, 05:43:21 PM
Over 10 weeks after the event, the US and Australia admit they bombed the Syrian Army in Deir ez-Zor - "by mistake" of course.

https://www.rt.com/usa/368581-pentagon-syrian-army-mistake/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/368581-pentagon-syrian-army-mistake/)
Strike on Syrian army was ‘regrettable error’, Pentagon says
29 Nov, 2016

Airstrikes on September 17 by the US-led coalition, which killed 62 and injured 100 Syrian soldiers in Deir ez-Zor, were the result of an “unintentional, regrettable error,” the US Central Command has said.

The mistake was "primarily based on human factors," Brigadier General Richard 'Tex' Coe, who headed the CENTCOM investigation, told reporters in a teleconference on Tuesday.

Russia was notified of the planned strike – for the first time – using the “de-confliction” hotline, but was given the wrong location, Coe said. The target coordinates supplied by the US coalition were 9km (6 miles) off, he said.

When Russian officers called the hotline to report the strikes were targeting Syrian positions, they were kept on hold for 27 minutes because the US officer who was the designated point of contact was not available. The bombing continued in that interval, according to Coe, and stopped once the Russian message went through.

The airstrikes targeted Syrian forces near Deir ez-Zor the airport, a vital supply conduit for the enclave besieged by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) forces. Damascus has accused the US of deliberately targeting Syrian troops in order to scuttle the ceasefire negotiated in Geneva. The Pentagon has maintained the airstrike was an accident, and that IS was the intended target.

“It was not an accident by one airplane; it was four airplanes which kept attacking the position of the Syrian troops for nearly one hour or maybe a little bit more,” Syrian President Bashar Assad told AP on September 22, adding that IS forces attacked the Syrian Army at the same time.

"The Syrian government puts all the responsibility for aggression on the US, as the facts show that it was a deliberate attack, but not a mistake – even if America says the opposite,” Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said in September at the UN General Assembly, adding that this act of “vile aggression” proved the US and its allies were “accomplices of Islamic State and other terror groups.”

The September 17 airstrikes unraveled the truce agreed to on September 9 in Switzerland by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry. The ceasefire envisioned the creation of US-Russian joint implementation centers, but the Pentagon refused to even consider the idea.



http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-30/syria-botched-air-strikes-australian-hornets/8077588 (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-30/syria-botched-air-strikes-australian-hornets/8077588)
RAAF fighters dropped six bombs on government forces in botched air strikes in Syria
By Defence reporter Andrew Greene
30 Nov 2016

Two Australian hornets dropped six bombs as part of botched coalition air strikes which killed dozens of Syrian forces earlier this year, a US-led military investigation has confirmed.

In September, coalition aircraft accidently bombed forces aligned to the Syrian government in an operation around the Deir al-Zor military airport in Syria's east, which was supposed to target fighters in the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group.

Russia claims as many as 83 people were killed.

The investigation blamed "unintentional human errors" for the deadly mistake, while Australia's Defence Department has confirmed two RAAF hornets dropped bombs in the incident.

The department said there will be improved information sharing among coalition partners following the review, but no coalition personnel will be sanctioned.

The strikes came less than a week into a fragile ceasefire aimed at stopping the bloodshed in Syria's five-year civil war.

[...]

Russia demanded an emergency United Nations Security Council session to discuss the incident and accused the US-led coalition of jeopardising the Syria deal and helping IS.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, in turn chastised Russia for the move, accusing it of "cheap point-scoring and grandstanding".

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 05, 2016, 06:26:44 AM
https://www.rt.com/news/369209-admiral-kuznetsov-su-33/ (https://www.rt.com/news/369209-admiral-kuznetsov-su-33/)
Su-33 fighter jet crashes from Russia’s Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier
5 Dec, 2016

A fighter jet based on the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov skid off the deck during landing and became lost at sea after an arrestor gear line snapped and failed to stop the aircraft, the Russian Defense Ministry reported.

The pilot ejected from the plane and was rescued unharmed, the statement said.

“Naval aviation sorties are continuing in accordance with their tasks,” the ministry added.

The Su-33 is the second aircraft that has been lost from the Kuznetsov fleet during its ongoing mission in the Mediterranean. Earlier, a Mig-29 fighter jet was not able to land and ran out of fuel because the deck crew of the carrier failed to fix a broken arrestor gear.

The deployment of the Admiral Kuznetsov to Syria is its first combat mission since the ship was built. It is the only aircraft carrier currently in service in the Russian Navy.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 05, 2016, 02:03:45 PM
The first Russia-US agreement was broken by US in the first week, and was accompanied by the US berating Russia/Syria for war crimes against civilians, while the US is doing exactly the same thing in Mosul.  Now while discussions are underway on a new agreement, the US is bringing a ceasefire resolution to the UNSC, knowing full well the Russians will veto it.  Meanwhile the "moderate rebels" and "the extremists" in Eastern Aleppo have joined forces and vowed to fight on, shelling civilian infrastructure in Western Aleppo - ( https://www.rt.com/news/369219-medic-killed-russian-aleppo/ (https://www.rt.com/news/369219-medic-killed-russian-aleppo/) ).  All this from the Nobel Peace Prize President in his final month in office.

https://www.rt.com/news/369274-russia-china-unsc-aleppo-resolution/ (https://www.rt.com/news/369274-russia-china-unsc-aleppo-resolution/)
Russia, China veto UNSC resolution on Aleppo ceasefire
5 Dec, 2016

Russia and China have vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on immediate seven-day ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo, which was submitted by Egypt, New Zealand and Spain. Russian Foreign Minister earlier described the draft resolution as “counterproductive”.

Before the vote, Russia’s UN envoy said that the country would vote against the document, informing UNSC members of Moscow’s decision.

Churkin said that Egypt, New Zealand and Spain “were shamelessly pressured by the trio of permanent western members,” which insisted on the draft being put to vote as soon as possible.

Moscow regards such actions are "provocative," and they undermine the "peace efforts of the co-chairs of the Syria Support Group [Russia and the US]," he added.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the resolution ran counter to a solution that the US and Russia are trying to agree on for Aleppo.

“Taking into consideration the outcome of the previous pauses [in the conflict], there is absolutely no doubt that the 10-day ceasefire, which backers of the draft resolution generously want to provide the militants with, would surely be used for regrouping and rearming the extremists and would slow down the liberation of eastern Aleppo from them,” Lavrov said.

The draft resolution submitted by Egypt, New Zealand and Spain called for an immediate ceasefire in Aleppo.

It initially mentioned a 10-day ceasefire, but the draft that was considered on Monday saw the length of the truce reduced to seven days.

11 Security Council members supported the resolution, while Russia, China and Venezuela voted against it. Angola abstained. Russia and China have the power of veto in the UNSC.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 06, 2016, 02:16:09 PM
Is Saudi Arabia finally quitting its attempts to overthrow Syria ?  With the Aleppo siege probably soon to be over, now would be a good time to extract all foreign proxy fighters and deploy them somewhere else in the service of Wahhabism - maybe back to Afghanistan to sweep the US puppets from Kabul.

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201612071048248115-sudi-king-stop-bloodshed-syria/
Saudi King Urges World Powers to Stop Bloodshed in Syria
07.12.2016

Al Saud said at the opening of the 37th summit of the Cooperation Council of Arab Gulf states in Bahrain that world powers have to preserve the unity and the integrity of Syria.

"We are all hurt by…what is the result of the crisis in Syria, by the fact that the Syrian people are suffering from the carnage and misery, [it is] what obliges the intentional community to stop the bloodshed and find a political solution that would guarantee the advance in security and stability, and to preserve the unity and the integrity of the Syrian land."

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with government forces fighting the Syrian opposition groups striving to overthrow President Bashar Assad. At the same time, Damascus has to counter numerous extremist groups, in particular, Daesh, which is outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

King Salman also stressed the necessity of joint actions of the Gulf States to manage crises, strengthen security and ensure stability in the Persian Gulf region,

"Those crises that our region faces demand from all of us [Arab States of the Gulf] joint work to counter them and to address them with full responsibility, as well as to make efforts aimed at strengthening security and stability in the region for our states’ and peoples’ development and prosperity," King Salman said at the opening ceremony of the 37th summit of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC) in Bahrain's capital.

On Saturday, local media reported that the monarch had left for a tour across the Persian Gulf states, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 07, 2016, 12:42:57 AM
First there was the Dier Azor incident where US/AU accidentally bombed the Syrian Army.  That caused the US-Russia coordination to break down in its first week.  Now Lavrov-Kerry talks are under way to reinstate the coordination. And now a Russian field hospital in Aleppo is mortared by the rebels.  This is what the Russia Defense Ministry had to say about it (click CC for English subtitles):

http://www.youtube.com/v/Ub5azZPSXjE

It is most unusual for military officials to name foreign countries like this, especially when diplomatic talks are going on.  They must be really angry.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: g on December 07, 2016, 05:39:46 AM
First there was the Dier Azor incident where US/AU accidentally bombed the Syrian Army.  That caused the US-Russia coordination to break down in its first week.  Now Lavrov-Kerry talks are under way to reinstate the coordination. And now a Russian field hospital in Aleppo is mortared by the rebels.  This is what the Russia Defense Ministry had to say about it (click CC for English subtitles):

http://www.youtube.com/v/Ub5azZPSXjE

It is most unusual for military officials to name foreign countries like this, especially when diplomatic talks are going on.  They must be really angry.

Thank's Palloy, It breaks my heart to say it, but I believe him. Truth has a very strange way of piercing right into my soul, it's like some sort of ESP thing that overtakes me. Is not voluntary, and brings my entire being into a brief state of absolute attention.  :icon_scratch:
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 07, 2016, 07:48:01 PM
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-07/assad-verge-historic-victory-syrian-rebels-request-ceasefire (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-07/assad-verge-historic-victory-syrian-rebels-request-ceasefire)
With Assad On Verge Of Historic Victory, Syrian Rebels Request A Ceasefire
Tyler Durden
Dec 7, 2016

After nearly six years, Syria's civil war started under Hillary Clinton's watch in March 2011 during the Arab Spring protest, is finally coming to an end.

The battle for one of the most contested Syrian cities during the war, Aleppo - which was Syria's most populous city before the war - is almost over and the "rebel forces" who live in the city eastern part, realizing they are on the verge of losing, have finally come to the negotiating table but it is too late.

Recall that as we reported last week, the Syrian army had recaptured as much as as 40% of the militant held part of the city in an accelerating attack that threatens to crush the opposition in its most important urban stronghold. As of today, that number has nearly doubled. According to the Russian Reconciliation Center which is facilitating and overseeing the Syrian civil war, government forces have liberated 15 more eastern Aleppo neighborhoods in the last 24 hours, adding that the advance has allowed the Syrian Army to evacuate 1,200 residents of the city.  The Syrian authorities now “fully control 50 neighborhoods in the eastern part of [Aleppo] that account for 70 percent of the territory that was initially controlled by the militants.”

(http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2016/12/07/aleppo%20big.jpg)

So facing the imminent loss of their most important stronghold, the Syrian rebels in besieged eastern Aleppo called on Wednesday for an immediate five-day ceasefire and the evacuation of civilians and wounded, but gave no indication they were ready to withdraw as demanded by Damascus and Moscow.

In a statement calling for the truce, the rebels made no mention of evacuating the several thousand fighters who are defending an ever shrinking area of eastern Aleppo. However, Syria and Russia, which supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, have said they want rebels to leave Aleppo and will not consider a ceasefire unless that happens according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, Assad's forces are piling on the pressure: "It's been a tragedy here for a long time, but I've never seen this kind of pressure on the city - you can't rest for even five minutes, the bombardment is constant," a resident said. "Any movement in the streets and there is bombardment (on that area) immediately," said the east Aleppo resident contacted by Reuters, who declined to be identified. Fear gripped the remaining residents as food and water supplies were cut off.

The rebels have suffered a series of staggering losses in Aleppo over the past 10 days or so as Assad’s Russian-backed forces have captured neighborhoods the opposition had controlled since 2012. Rebel-held areas of Aleppo have shrunk to about a third of their former size, the WSJ reports.

In addition to being a critical catalyst in the war, one which would shift the balance of power toward Assad's regime, retaking Aleppo would also be a success for Vladimir Putin who intervened to save Moscow's ally in September 2015 with air strikes, and for Shi'ite Iran, whose elite Islamic Republic Guard Corps has suffered casualties fighting for Assad. As such, the Syrian government now appears closer to victory than at any point in the five years since protests against Assad evolved into an armed rebellion.

* * *

Tasting victory, outside of Aleppo the government and its allies are also putting severe pressure on remaining rebel redoubts. "The decision to liberate all of Syria is taken and Aleppo is part of it," Assad said in a newspaper interview, according to pro-Damascus television station al-Mayadeen. He described the city as the "last hope" of rebels and their backers.

The Syrian army now controls all of the Old City of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site including the Umayyad Mosque, which had been held by rebels, the Observatory said. Explosions and artillery fire could be heard on Syrian state television in districts around the citadel which overlooks the Old City as the army pressed its offensive. More neighborhoods were expected to fall but rebels were fighting ferociously.

Rebels have lost control of about 75 percent of their territory in eastern Aleppo in under 10 days, Director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdulrahman, said. It is their desperation that brought the rebels to the negotiating table: the "humanitarian initiative" published by rebels called for the evacuation of around 500 critical medical cases.

Realizing it has all the leverage, the Kremlin has refused to comply with the proposed truce, however it said on Wednesday that a potential U.S.-Russia deal to allow Syrian rebels to leave Aleppo safely was still on the agenda. Damascus and Moscow have been calling on rebels to withdraw from the city, disarm and accept safe passage out, a procedure that has been carried out in other areas where rebels abandoned besieged territory in recent months.

To move the proposal forward, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Kerry in Hamburg on Wednesday at 8 p.m. local (1900 GMT). A U.S. official said they were likely to discuss safe passage for rebels out of Aleppo. However, as of a couple of days ago, moderate opposition groups with whom U.S. officials had been in contact were "less than inclined" to make any such deals, the official said, on condition of anonymity. Lavrov will also meet with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Russian agencies reported.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a week-long ceasefire. Moscow correctly said rebels used such pauses in the past to reinforce. The Syrian army's advance is a "strategic victory" that will prevent foreign intervention and alter the political process, Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar told reporters in Damascus.

"Those who believed in the Syrian triumph, know that (the rebels') morale is at its lowest and that these collapses that have begun are like domino tiles," he said. But perhaps most surprising, was that an official with an Aleppo rebel group, who declined to be named, told Reuters the United States appeared to have no position on the Syrian army assault on Aleppo, just weeks before U.S. President-elect Donald Trump takes office. In other words, both Assad and Putin are taking advantage of the political power vacuum in the US to finally push the remaining rebels out of their hideout and end the war once and for all.

"The Russians want the fighters out and they (the Americans) are ready to coordinate over that", said the Turkey-based official, citing indirect contacts with U.S. officials.

* * *

There is one final factor which effectively assures an Assad victory: the weather. As winter sets in, siege conditions are increasingly desperate, exacerbated by increasing numbers of displaced residents and food and water shortages. A U.N. official said on Wednesday about 31,500 people from east Aleppo have been displaced around the entire city over the past week, with hundreds more seen on the move on Wednesday.

Yet few rebels had quit Aleppo so far, said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, who as has often been the case, described those were left there as "terrorists" who were uniting around fighters from the group formerly known as the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

Civilians wanting to leave east Aleppo should be evacuated to the northern Aleppo countryside, rather than Idlib province, the rebel document said. Idlib is dominated by Islamist groups including Fateh al-Sham, the group formerly known as the Nusra Front, and is facing intense bombardment by Russian warplanes. On the other hand, “Russia wants to move them to Idlib. The fighters have a choice: survive for an extra couple of weeks by going to Idlib or fight to the very end and die in Aleppo," one senior European diplomat, who declined to be named, said. "For the Russians it’s simple. Place them all in Idlib and then they have all their rotten eggs in one basket.”

On Russian-U.S. talks, the diplomat said: “The assumption is that the U.S. has influence on the ground. I don’t think that’s the case.” Which means that the US has essentially given up and has handed over victory in Syria's half-decaded long proxy war to Putin. He will be delighted to accept.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 08, 2016, 06:32:55 PM
The good terrorists (the ones following Obama's bidding) haven't got enough weapons, and they are on the US terrorist list, so ... Obama orders a waiver.

https://www.rt.com/usa/369702-obama-waiver-military-aid-syria-forces/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/369702-obama-waiver-military-aid-syria-forces/)
Obama grants waiver for military support of foreign fighters in Syria – White House
8 Dec, 2016

President Barack Obama has ordered a waiver of restrictions on military aid for foreign forces and others in Syria, deeming it “essential to the national security interests” of the US to allow exceptions from provisions in the four-decades-old Arms Export Control Act.

A White House press release Thursday announced that foreign fighters in Syria supporting US special operations “to combat terrorism in Syria” would be excused from restrictions on military assistance.

“I hereby determine that the transaction, encompassing the provision of defense articles and services to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals engaged in supporting or facilitating ongoing U.S. military operations to counter terrorism in Syria, is essential to the national security interests of the United States,” President Obama affirmed in the presidential determination and waiver.

The order delegates responsibility to the US secretary of state to work with and report to Congress on weapons export proposals, requiring 15 days of notice before they are authorized.

Obama announced a similar waiver of the Arms Export Control Act in September 2013, following the Ghouta chemical attack in August of that year. That order facilitated the transfer of US military weaponry to "select vetted members" of opposition forces battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while Thursday's order appears less narrow in scope.

Last year, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2016, which allocated nearly $500 million to arm and train "moderate rebels" in Syria, despite a failed Pentagon program abandoned earlier in 2015.

The challenge of differentiating between terrorist forces, such as Al-Nusra, and more moderate forces in Syria has been acknowledged by press secretaries in recent State Department briefings.

The “counterterrorism” pretext is just a “convenient misappropriation of language,” aimed at arming various militants to battle the Syrian Army and its allies, believes geopolitical analyst Patrick Henningsen.

“Putting this under the banner of fighting terrorism … follows on [from] a sort of fantasy concept that’s been pushed out as a talking point for the last year and a half, that if we train and equip the ‘moderate opposition’ they will fight [Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL)],” Henningsen told RT.

“They want to open the floodgates basically for trafficking weapons to religious extremists and militants and terrorist groups, internationally recognized terrorist groups … it’s all being done still under this kind of false pretense of the fight against ISIS, that somehow ‘moderate’ rebels, if they even exist, will turn their weapons and fight against ISIS. And we know from the facts on the ground, from the beginning, that [this] simply has not been the case. This is to arm the opposition to fight the Syrian government and to fight Russian forces. This is a desperate move on the part of the lame duck president.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 08, 2016, 07:02:28 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/369712-turkey-syria-special-forces/ (https://www.rt.com/news/369712-turkey-syria-special-forces/)
Turkey reinforces Syria operation with 300 elite commandos – report
9 Dec, 2016

Some 300 elite Turkish commandos have reportedly joined Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria to help the Free Syrian Army's offensive against Islamic State terrorists and Kurdish militias that Ankara is engaging on a foreign soil.

The special forces troops of the 11th Command Brigade were airlifted to Syria from Cardak Military Airport in Turkey, a source familiar with the matter told Turkey's Anadolu News. No further details have been provided.

Turkish forces crossed into Syria on August 24, under the pretext of targeting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) positions along the border. Turkey has been supporting the Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the ground. As IS fighters melted away, however, Turkish troops involved in Operation Euphrates Shield clashed with the YPG militia, part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

After months of fighting, Turkey has helped the FSA clear some 1,800 square kilometers (694 square miles) of terrorists in northern Syria. Having liberated the town of Dabiq, FSA advances were stopped near the town of Al Bab, where ISIS continues to hold the city.

“So far, about 1,800 square kilometers, from Jarabulus to Azaz, and south to Azaz, and up to the Al Bab region has been completely cleared of terrorists,” presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said Thursday. “It is very important to act very carefully in [the northwestern city of] Al Bab especially due to the large Daesh [IS] terrorist organization [munitions] stock there.”

The Turkish Army announced Thursday that air and ground operations have been suspended around Al Bab, which is located 40km northeast of Aleppo and 30km south of the Turkish border.

The army fears that further engagement will jeopardize civilian lives as terrorists continue to use the local population as a human shield, Daily Sabah reported.

Capturing Al Bab remains Turkey’s primary objective at the moment as Ankara continues its policy to establish a 5,000-square-kilometer “safe zone” in Syria. Securing the city will also prevent the YPG from establishing a corridor between the cantons of Afrin and Kobani.

The US, which has been supporting the Kurds for years, on Thursday said that it doesn't have any intention of creating a Kurdish corridor on the Turkish border.

“We are not trying to build a Kurdish corridor, this is not our policy. Our policy is to defeat Daesh. We are not supporting the creation of a Kurdish corridor. That is not part of our agenda, that's not our policy, we make that very clear to the Syrian Kurds,” US Special Presidential Envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk, told Daily Sabah.

“We will support forces on the ground to fight Daesh. We will not support forces on the ground to pursue any other agenda,” the envoy stressed. “That means if the Syrian Kurds are going to go fight somebody else, they are going to get no support from us for that.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 08, 2016, 08:14:40 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/369651-putin-syria-medics-death/ (https://www.rt.com/news/369651-putin-syria-medics-death/)
Putin: Moscow will never accept attitude of intl bodies towards deaths of Russian medics in Syria
8 Dec, 2016

Commenting on the recent shelling of a Russian mobile hospital in Aleppo, Syria that killed two Russian medics, President Vladimir Putin said Moscow “will never accept” the absence of reaction from international organizations to the deaths.

“It is obvious to everybody that our medics came [to Syria] to resolve humanitarian issues only. They came there not to take part in the military action, but to help people, civilian population in particular,” Putin stressed.

Yet according to Russia’s president, Moscow “has seen no assessment of what happened from any international organization.”

According to Putin, the absence of international reaction “triggers some thoughts about how objective the coverage of some our partners is on what is happening [in Syria].”

Putin added that he is talking about big international structures “that have put our medics who have been killed on one shelf with those who hit their hospital, and did it deliberately, as they knew where it was.”

He stressed that such an attitude is “inadmissible” and “we [Russia] will never accept it.” Militants shelled a Russian mobile hospital in western Aleppo earlier this week, killing two paramedics. A chief pediatrician was also severely injured in the attack.

Following the attack, RT reached out to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for comment. In response, the organization said that “all sides to the conflict in Syria are failing in their duties to respect and protect healthcare workers, patients, and hospitals.”

Upon hearing about ICRC’s response, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov reacted with outrage, saying these “cynical comments are not worthy of the high status of the International Committee of the Red Cross” and show “indifference to the murder of Russian doctors in Aleppo.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 10, 2016, 05:16:56 PM
Strange how Carter says “By combining our capabilities with those of our local partners, we've been squeezing ISIL by applying simultaneous pressure from all sides and across domains, through a series of deliberate actions to continue to build momentum”, and yet it is reported today that ISIS has re-taken the ancient city of Palmyra from the Syrian Army.

https://www.rt.com/usa/369856-us-syria-200-troops/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/369856-us-syria-200-troops/)
US sending 200 more special ops soldiers to Syria – Pentagon chief
10 Dec, 2016

The US is sending 200 additional military personnel to Syria to help drive Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) from Raqqa, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Saturday.

Speaking in Bahrain at the Manama Dialogue conference on Middle East security, Carter said the 200, including special forces trainers, advisers, and explosive ordnance disposal teams, would join 300 US special forces already in Syria.

“These uniquely skilled operators will join the 300 US special operations forces already in Syria, to continue organizing, training, equipping, and otherwise enabling capable, motivated, local forces to take the fight to ISIL,” Carter said, as quoted by AP.

“By combining our capabilities with those of our local partners, we've been squeezing ISIL by applying simultaneous pressure from all sides and across domains, through a series of deliberate actions to continue to build momentum,” he added.

On Thursday, US President Barack Obama granted a waiver for restrictions on the delivery of military aid to “foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals,” if those forces are supporting the US’ alleged counter-terrorism efforts in Syria.

The prospect of terrorists coming into possession of those weapons, including MANPADs (man-portable anti-air missiles), “poses a serious threat not only for the region, but the entire world,”

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned, adding that the US’ decision will “definitely” create a risk for the Russian Air Force.

According to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the decision to ease restrictions on military aid for foreign forces and other fighters supporting the US in Syria is unlikely to affect the situation in eastern Aleppo.

Moscow is looking for a solution that involves as few casualties as possible, Lavrov stressed, speaking at an OSCE Ministerial Council in Hamburg.

“I think everyone understands that the militants in east Aleppo are agonizing. We don’t want to support those who would gladly finish off those militants at any cost without any talks. We are ready to solve these problems in a way that would spare us additional casualties and destruction,” he noted.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 10, 2016, 06:37:32 PM
This is today's map from http://syriancivilwarmap.com (http://syriancivilwarmap.com) :

(https://doomsteaddiner.net/palloy/images/Syria.map.11dec2016.png)

From the previous post, the US isn't stopping fighting in Syria anytime soon - it is putting in more US boots on the ground, and more weapons.

Russia is also bringing in 2 battalions of experienced Chechen fighters, as The Saker explains:

http://thesaker.is/putin-sends-chechen-special-operation-forces-to-syria/ (http://thesaker.is/putin-sends-chechen-special-operation-forces-to-syria/)
Putin sends “Chechen” special operation forces to Syria
The Saker
December 09, 2016

Very interesting news today: according to the journal Izvestia, Russia will be sending operators from the so-called “Chechen” special forces battalions “West” and “East” to Syria to “guard the Russian installations” in Khmeimim and Tartus.  According to Russian sources, these two battalions have been converted into a “military police” force which will be fully deployed by the end of December.

This news leaves many fascinating questions unanswered.

First, even though the Russian sources make it sound like we are talking about two full battalions, I suspect that this is not the case and that a few companies will be formed from elements drawn from these battalions.  Why?  Because these battalions are part the backbone of the Russian security system in the Caucasus and that to use such elite forces just to guard 2 military installations makes no sense.

Second, this does beg the question of what these “Chechens” (actually a misnomer – see below) will really be doing Syria.  The only circumstance in which it would make sense to send them to protect the Russian bases in Kheimim and Tartus would be if a massive attack was expected against these installations and no other reinforcements were available, which is clearly not the case.

Third, these two battalions are mostly, but not exclusively, composed of Sunni Muslim operators.  That yields obvious advantages.  Furthermore, these battalions have had a history of successfully defeating the Wahabi insurgency in Chechnia.  This might be crucially important because Wahabi Chechens also compose some of the best forces available to the Daesh/ISIS/US command in Syria.

So what is really happening here?

First, it should be stressed that these two battalions are really quite unique units.  While formally they are just part of the larger Russian special forces community, they have a unique history and unique reputation.  Traditionally, Russia has always relied on elite Muslim shock forces, and most of those have been Chechen.  This was true before the 1917 Revolution as it was true after.  For example, the so-called “Muslim battalion” played a key role in the invasion of Afghanistan.  And 2008, the Chechen battalions “West” and “East” played a key role in the Russian counter-offensive against the Georgian forces.  To make a long story short: not only are these battalions known for their amazing courage and skills, their appearance often sends the opposing forces into a panic.

Second, Ramzan Kadyrov has been pouring huge resources, with the full support of Putin, of course, into the creation of a unique special forces training facility Chechnia were special operators from all over Russia are coming to learn, teach and share their experience.  As a result, the so-called “Chechen” units are, in reality, a mix of special operators from all over Russia who have been specially trained to deal with Daesh-like insurgencies.

This means that regardless of the actual size of the force sent to Syria, to use it to protect installations is total overkill and nobody in Russia really believes that all these lads will be doing is manning check-points.  Their true mission will be something very different.

Some Russian analysts have been speculating that their real function will be to clear Aleppo from the remaining al-Nusra/Daesh/ISIS forces.  Maybe, but I doubt it.  I find it much more likely that these man will be sent in to train Syrian special forces in advanced counter-insurgency intelligence operations.  For one thing, the Russians have admitted that they have Chechen intelligence agents infiltrated into Daesh.  It would only make sense now for the Russians to share their experience with their Syrian counterparts.  The key reason here is that rather than fighting the war for the Syrians, the Russians needs to enable the Syrians to fight their own war.

Alas, the actual record of the Syrian security forces has been, according to Russian sources, checkered at best and the Russians are, reportedly, unimpressed.  While the Syrians do have some elite combat units, they do not have high quality intelligence operatives.  What is needed in this case is not just a good solider (say, like a Russian paratrooper or a US Ranger), but a fully trained combatant and a fully trained intelligence officer, something similar to the CIA’s Special Activities Division or the Russian “Vympel” force.  The kind of training needed to prepare for such a function is much more complex, costly and time-consuming than what it takes to train a good paratrooper or Ranger.  My guess is that while the “Chechens” will, when needed, provide immediate support for the Syrians, they will also have a longtime role in organizing an effective counter-terrorist/counter-insurgency force.

Of course, I might be wrong.  If I am, then the other reason why these two battalions have been sent to Syria is to directly participate in combat operations against the Takfiris.  We know that Putin sent some secret letter to Iranian President Rouhani.  Could it be to coordinate a surge in Russian and Iranian operations in Syria?  If so, then sending in the “Chechen” special forces would make sense, especially to keep the Turks at bay if and when needed.

Whatever may be the case, the decision to send in the “Chechens” is clearly a major development and the sign that something important is being prepared.

PS: Ramzan Kadyrov has issued a denial saying that there are no battalions “West” and “East” in Chechnia that is TECHNICALLY true since these two battalions have now been included in the 8th mountain and 18th motor-rifle brigades.  It is also true that the original commanders of these forces have been replaced, but the operators still exist and Kadyrov has admitted that they were already in Syria.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 13, 2016, 12:32:30 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/370185-churkin-syria-aleppo-agreement/ (https://www.rt.com/news/370185-churkin-syria-aleppo-agreement/)
Military operation in eastern Aleppo over, govt restoring control – Russian UN envoy
13 Dec, 2016

The fighting in eastern Aleppo has stopped and the Syrian government has regained control over the territory after the withdrawal of militants from the city was agreed, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin told the UN Security Council meeting in New York.

"The latest information that we have received during the past hour or so is that military operations in eastern Aleppo have concluded,” Churkin said.

“So, there is no issue of any ceasefire or special humanitarian operations. The Syrian government has regained control of the eastern Aleppo, so the stage of practical humanitarian actions begins,” he said.

Ahead of the emergency UN Security Council meeting, the Russian envoy told reporters that the "latest information is that they indeed have an arrangement achieved on the ground that the fighters are going to leave the city." Churkin said Tuesday ahead of the emergency UN Security Council meeting in New York.

According to Churkin, the militants, who have been holed up in eastern Aleppo for years, are scheduled to leave the city "within hours."

The envoy added that the withdrawal of militant fighters will put the city under the control of the Syrian government and there will be no need for eastern Aleppo residents to leave their homes.

During his speech at the meeting, Churkin told the UNSC members that the “counterterrorist operation in Aleppo will conclude in the next few hours.” The fighters are currently leaving the city through corridors that they chose themselves, including ones leading to Syria’s Idlib province, Churkin stressed.

"The counter-terrorist operation in Aleppo will be completed within a few hours. All the militants along with their families and the wounded are now withdrawing through the agreed corridors in the directions they themselves have chosen, including in the direction of Idlib,” the Russian envoy said.

An official with one of the militant groups in Aleppo earlier told Reuters that an agreement had been reached with Russia on Tuesday, while another rebel representative reported, “There are signs of a breakthrough in the coming hours.”

However, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies to "urgently allow the remaining civilians to escape" Aleppo and facilitate humanitarian aid access to the city.

"In recent days and hours, we appear to be witnessing nothing less than an all-out effort by the Syrian government and its allies to end the country's internal conflict through a total, uncompromising military victory," Ban told the UN Security Council.

After the Security Council meeting on Tuesday, Churkin called Ban’s participation in it  an “ill-advised” decision.

“The Secretary General speaking on a formal meeting of the UN Security Council, he shouldn’t be relying on unchecked information,” he said.

The UN head “should be more careful to not be an instrument to spread fake news,” he added.

Aleppo has been divided between the government forces and the militants since the start of the Syrian conflict in 2011.

However, in recent weeks, the Syrian Army has made significant gains in eastern Aleppo and is close to liberating it from the militants.

The successful offensive allowed thousands of people to flee the area and receive humanitarian assistance from the Russian and Syrian military.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: JRM on December 14, 2016, 05:12:48 PM
I imagine everyone reading here will interpret what's going on in Syria as a proxy war involving principally Russia and the USA, right?

Most of the  posts in this thread are from a single poster.   And that's fine.  Who has time for all of this, really?

What I want to understand is are there any good guys or bad guys, any white hats or black hats...?

Russia, it seems to me, is even (and vastly) less democratic in its governance than the USA, I'm assuming -- and boy is that saying something?  Am I wrong?

Russia is largely commanded by Putin and his select people.  They've apparently got an interest in shipping (piping) oil natural gas and shit like that -- though what is oil (oh, I think I get it) worth on the global market these days, barely anything, right? I mean, the shit... Never mind.

Yeah, the USA's military bases are simply EVERYWHERE. That's a problem, I get it!  They surround every country.  I GET it!

But for Russia to side with Bashar al-Assad?  What the fuck?

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on December 14, 2016, 06:28:04 PM
I imagine everyone reading here will interpret what's going on in Syria as a proxy war involving principally Russia and the USA, right?

Most of the  posts in this thread are from a single poster.   And that's fine.  Who has time for all of this, really?

What I want to understand is are there any good guys or bad guys, any white hats or black hats...?

Russia, it seems to me, is even (and vastly) less democratic in its governance than the USA, I'm assuming -- and boy is that saying something?  Am I wrong?

Russia is largely commanded by Putin and his select people.  They've apparently got an interest in shipping (piping) oil natural gas and shit like that -- though what is oil (oh, I think I get it) worth on the global market these days, barely anything, right? I mean, the shit... Never mind.

Yeah, the USA's military bases are simply EVERYWHERE. That's a problem, I get it!  They surround every country.  I GET it!

But for Russia to side with Bashar al-Assad?  What the fuck?

PY is the Chief follower of Newz related to the conflicts in MENA and Ruskie-China-NATO relations.   It's a major interest area for him.  He does a great job doing newz aggregation in this area.

Far as why the Ruskies support Assad?  WTF ELSE is there to support down there?  Knock out his regime and you get a failed state like Libya.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: JRM on December 14, 2016, 06:41:53 PM
Far as why the Ruskies support Assad?  WTF ELSE is there to support down there?  Knock out his regime and you get a failed state like Libya.

There are several countries between the two.  It's not as if they share a border.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on December 14, 2016, 06:51:32 PM
Far as why the Ruskies support Assad?  WTF ELSE is there to support down there?  Knock out his regime and you get a failed state like Libya.

There are several countries between the two.  It's not as if they share a border.

So supporting Erdocrook to take over Syria for his new Caliphate would be a good alternative for Vlad the Impaler?

You gotta pick somebody actually IN Syria to support here.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: JRM on December 14, 2016, 06:57:13 PM
Far as why the Ruskies support Assad?  WTF ELSE is there to support down there?  Knock out his regime and you get a failed state like Libya.

There are several countries between the two.  It's not as if they share a border.

So supporting Erdocrook to take over Syria for his new Caliphate would be a good alternative for Vlad the Impaler?

You gotta pick somebody actually IN Syria to support here.

RE


In all honesty, I've not been following the details of the situation carefully, being merely human and all.  It's fucking confusing, these many things going on with everyone telling a different story and not knowing who or what to believe.  To really understand requires so much time and effort!  I also have my specialist areas of research and study... and the normal limited amount of time.   Sigh.

I just wish everyone would start to play nice and be kind -- and honest.  But I realize that's not how the world works now.  Sigh.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on December 14, 2016, 07:07:00 PM
Far as why the Ruskies support Assad?  WTF ELSE is there to support down there?  Knock out his regime and you get a failed state like Libya.

There are several countries between the two.  It's not as if they share a border.

So supporting Erdocrook to take over Syria for his new Caliphate would be a good alternative for Vlad the Impaler?

You gotta pick somebody actually IN Syria to support here.

RE


In all honesty, I've not been following the details of the situation carefully, being merely human and all.  It's fucking confusing, these many things going on with everyone telling a different story and not knowing who or what to believe.  To really understand requires so much time and effort!  I also have my specialist areas of research and study... and the normal limited amount of time.   Sigh.

I just wish everyone would start to play nice and be kind -- and honest.  But I realize that's not how the world works now.  Sigh.

Well, one Occam's Razor to use in Geopolitics is...THERE ARE NO GOOD GUYS!  LOL.

It's always a "What is LESS BAD?" situation.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 14, 2016, 08:40:59 PM
My potted history of the Middle East:

The whole world is like a chessboard, the two main players are the US and Russia, but there are other players too.  Saudi Arabia and Iran are important regional players in the Middle East, and Turkey wants to be important again as well.  Saudi Arabia is Wahhabist Muslim and is the creator of Al Qaeda and Islamic State.  Iran is Shi'ite Muslim, who are the principal enemy of the Wahhabists.  Iran's allies include Iraq's Shia, Syria's Alawites (Assad), Lebanon's Hezbollah, Palestine's Hamas, Yemen's Houthis.

After WW1 the British and French, having defeated the Ottoman Empire and dissolved the Caliphate, redrew the map, settings up a mix of different ethnicities and religions in each country, so they would be difficult to rule, and therefore weak and dependent on imperial support. In return the West wanted their oil.

So in the 1970s, the US had a plan to undermine the Soviet Union by supporting Muslims against the godless Russians in what it called "the arc of instability" - Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.  Not being Muslims themselves, they needed the cooperation of a Muslim ally, which was Saudi Arabia (a very bad choice). 

Saudi Arabia set up their Wahhabist proxy force, Al Qaeda, and sent them to Afghanistan with logistical support from Pakistan, and weapons from the US, to fight to Russians.  This worked, but once the Russians had gone, the US lost interest in Afghanistan, though Saudi Arabia didn't.  They cultivated the Taliban, and moved Al Qaeda all over the place in the Middle East and North Africa, and set up madrassas to teach their particular brand of Wahhabist Islam, looking to destablise regimes and bring about a new Caliphate with Saudi Arabia supplying the Caliph, and controlling Mecca and Medina.

In 1979 Iran threw out the US puppet, the Shah, and became anti-US.  US-supported Iraq under Saddam Hussein fought with Iran, but could only manage a draw.  Iraq was also anti-Israel.

Then in 1990-1 came the big mistake - Iraq thought it had a green light from the US to invade Kuwait, but somehow they got it wrong.  Instead they were quickly driven out by the US, and subsequently the CIA used a Shi'ite Iraqi proxy force under Allawi to try regime change which failed.  Saddam remained under sanctions and CIA plots till the invasion in 2003.  Ironically this turned Iraq over to Iranian influence - Iraq was 60% Shi'ite, and Allawi became PM.  Allawi had been given protection in Syria during Saddam's final years, and Syria got protection from Russia, in exchange for weapons and a Russian naval base.

So now Russia was close to getting Syria, Iraq and Iran on its side, cutting off Israel from Europe plus Turkey, and with former-Soviet Armenia onside, and Georgia partly dismembered by South Ossetia, it would be an easy push to link Russia-Georgia-Armenia-Iran-Iraq-Syrian.  This would cut off Azerbaijan and all its oil from Turkey and the West - for a big win on the chessboard.

To make matters worse for the US, Turkey has Sunni Islamic ambitions too and obviously this doesn't fit in NATO or Europe.  Turkey has a Kurdish problem too, because the WW1 map gave the Kurdish lands to Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.  The Kurds don't have any friends, but the US are using them as their proxy force at the moment.

So no white hats at all anywhere in the Middle East, and not in US or Russia either.  However the duplicitous US and its tame media are so clearly struggling to find a coherent policy, and coming out with so much crap about caring for the children of Aleppo (but not about the children of Mosul) that it makes Putin look really statesmanlike.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Eddie on December 14, 2016, 08:49:29 PM
Blog article.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on December 14, 2016, 10:02:25 PM
Blog article.

Agreed.

Palloy, do you want to spruce this up with some maps and maybe some references and quotes, or should I just put it up as is?

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 14, 2016, 11:02:13 PM
I'll polish a bit.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on December 14, 2016, 11:19:47 PM
I'll polish a bit.

One suggestion is to do a bit of Fill-In on the history between the end of WWI and the Picot-Sykes ampping and 1970.  You skipped over a LOT of history there, including all of fucking WWII, which had Patton, Montgomery and Rommel all duking it out on the desert sands in the tanks.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Surly1 on December 15, 2016, 03:28:12 AM
Far as why the Ruskies support Assad?  WTF ELSE is there to support down there?  Knock out his regime and you get a failed state like Libya.

There are several countries between the two.  It's not as if they share a border.

So supporting Erdocrook to take over Syria for his new Caliphate would be a good alternative for Vlad the Impaler?

You gotta pick somebody actually IN Syria to support here.

RE

Just my opinion, but I think Vlad went to the mat for Assad in Syria because the handwriting was on the wall. The US had, since the Bush years, enacted the PNAC strategy of 1) knocking over Middle Eastern states one by one, and replacing strongmen with chaos, and 2) ensuring no hegemon could arise to challenge US supremacy for a century. This continued during the Obama years, as Mrs. Clinton supervised the dismantling of Libya. Middle-east dominoes had fallen, one by one. Then that little unpleasantness in Ukraine, where a popularly elected pro-Russian president was deposed by forces allied by US neocons led by victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland. Doesn't take a former KGB agent to watch dominoes falling and draw some conclusions. If the US were successful in knocking off Assad, it would have run the table in the middle east, save for Iran.

And thus does the neocon-controlled US do the bidding of the Zionist Apartheid State, replacing functional governments and cities with rubble and authoritarians with chaos. All in our names.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: JRM on December 15, 2016, 06:50:52 AM

So no white hats at all anywhere in the Middle East, and not in US or Russia either.  However the duplicitous US and its tame media are so clearly struggling to find a coherent policy, and coming out with so much crap about caring for the children of Aleppo (but not about the children of Mosul) that it makes Putin look really statesmanlike.

What a convoluted mess!  Seems like an impossible situation -- religion, ethnic tribalism, oil money, conflicting superpowers with attendant proxy wars, pseudo-democracies, nuclear weapons....  Total madness, and probably entirely impossible to cure. 

Humans are ridiculous!
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on December 15, 2016, 06:55:34 AM
Total madness, and probably entirely impossible to cure. 

There is no problem human created that you cannot solve with enough DEAD PEOPLE.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: JRM on December 15, 2016, 08:13:07 AM
Total madness, and probably entirely impossible to cure. 

There is no problem human created that you cannot solve with enough DEAD PEOPLE.

RE

Not true.  The misery humans cause one another would be just the same if there were a hundred humans left on Earth and they continued to treat one another as we currently do.  It would be the same stupid human misery. 
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on December 15, 2016, 08:22:10 AM
Total madness, and probably entirely impossible to cure. 

There is no problem human created that you cannot solve with enough DEAD PEOPLE.

RE

Not true.  The misery humans cause one another would be just the same if there were a hundred humans left on Earth and they continued to treat one another as we currently do.  It would be the same stupid human misery.

I disagree.  Once you come close to Dunbar's Number (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunbar's_number), your relationships with others take priority over competition.

Quote
Dunbar's number is a suggested cognitive limit to the number of people with whom one can maintain stable social relationships. These are relationships in which an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

This number was first proposed in the 1990s by British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, who found a correlation between primate brain size and average social group size.[7] By using the average human brain size and extrapolating from the results of primates, he proposed that humans can comfortably maintain only 150 stable relationships.[8]

Proponents assert that numbers larger than this generally require more restrictive rules, laws, and enforced norms to maintain a stable, cohesive group. It has been proposed to lie between 100 and 250, with a commonly used value of 150.[9][10] Dunbar's number states the number of people one knows and keeps social contact with, and it does not include the number of people known personally with a ceased social relationship, nor people just generally known with a lack of persistent social relationship, a number which might be much higher and likely depends on long-term memory size.

Dunbar theorized that "this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size ... the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained." On the periphery, the number also includes past colleagues, such as high school friends, with whom a person would want to reacquaint himself or herself if they met again.[11]

I do not wholly agree with Dunbar's number in absolute numerical terms.  I think he is off by a factor of 1 to 2 orders of magnitude.  I think Homo Sap can work cooperatively in groups up to around 10,000.  I am not so negative as you as to believe cooperation is not possoble between Homo Saps.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 16, 2016, 06:26:01 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/370586-churkin-unsc-meeting-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/news/370586-churkin-unsc-meeting-syria/)
‘Russia didn’t let terrorists capture Damascus’ – Russian UN envoy
17 Dec, 2016

“Russia’s [air forces] managed to prevent terrorists from gaining control over Damascus, we significantly cut down military and economic capabilities of militant groups and helped win back vast territories,” Churkin said at a Security Council meeting in New York on Friday.

Russia keeps on trying to mediate the dialogue between the Syrian government and opposition forces to “come to a consensus and diplomatically settle the crisis,” Churkin added.

“We are convinced that there is no alternative to the political resolution [than the one] based on the inclusive inter-Syrian dialogue with the parallel provision of ceasefire, access to humanitarian aid and continuation of the fight against terrorism,” the Russian envoy said, stressing that Moscow has advocated a peaceful settlement while respecting Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Speaking of Russia’s humanitarian assistance, Churkin said that “massive humanitarian and medical aid is being provided to the Syrian population affected by the conflict. In the last few days, the main wave of humanitarian aid is being delivered to Aleppo.”

As the military operation in eastern Aleppo comes to an end, “overall ceasefire and resuming peace talks” becomes an ultimate goal in Syria, Churkin noted, adding that Damascus has more than once announced that it is open to dialogue.

Churkin believes that the current moment must be favorable for initiating peace talks – an idea that echoes what UN special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura recently said, Churkin told journalists after the Security Council meeting.

The Russian envoy also discussed the French resolution on Aleppo, which is expected to ensure that international observers are deployed to Syria.

“I was listening to what my French colleague had to say and there were some elements which I thought were questionable, but we need to have a look at the text,” Churkin said.

“It takes weeks to deploy observers. I express regret once again… that the US was insistent to take UN monitors out of Syria. We have 300 UN monitors, it took several weeks to deploy those monitors. To imagine that you can do it within two or three days is really unrealistic,” he said.

The meeting on Friday was initiated at France’s request and was supposed to brief the Security Council on the evacuation process that involves thousands of civilians and fighters leaving eastern Aleppo.

The evacuation was suspended on Friday after the militants refused to set the pro-government POWs free as has been agreed, and attempted to bring out heavy weapons, RT’s Lizzie Phelan reported, citing a senior Syrian Army general. The government forces have also called for wounded people to be evacuated from two Shi'ite villages controlled by the militants. Phelan reported that some clashes have taken place during the day.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: JRM on December 16, 2016, 06:51:11 PM
It starts off with “Russia’s [air forces] managed to prevent terrorists from gaining control over Damascus"....

Um.  If there are only guys in black hats in this story, and no white hats, and innocent people are being killed, ... just how is it that Russia -- or anyone -- gets to call anyone caught up in this disastrous mess a "terrorist"?   

Makes me want to quit reading  before I get into the rest of it!

Everyone here is a fucking terrorist.  Right?  No good guys. Only bad guys.  End of fucking story.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: JRM on December 16, 2016, 06:57:21 PM
Of recent decades, no word seems to me to be as meaningless as the word "terrorism" is now. I resent the very word itself, since it has recently been employed to mean anything from "a ten pound bag of green beans" to "peaceful, non-violent environmental activists".  People throw this word around as if it means something, but it does not -- not anymore.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on December 16, 2016, 07:11:50 PM
Of recent decades, no word seems to me to be as meaningless as the word "terrorism" is now. I resent the very word itself, since it has recently been employed to mean anything from "a ten pound bag of green beans" to "peaceful, non-violent environmental activists".  People throw this word around as if it means something, but it does not -- not anymore.

It means something in the criminal justice system.  It means they can lock you up and throw away the key.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 16, 2016, 07:22:08 PM
Quote
Um.  If there are only guys in black hats in this story, and no white hats, and innocent people are being killed, ... just how is it that Russia -- or anyone -- gets to call anyone caught up in this disastrous mess a "terrorist"?   

Because the "only black hats" opinion is not shared by Assad (the legitimate government of Syria), or Russia, or the US.  The legitimate (UN-recognised) governments of countries have the right to use force, that terrorists/rebels/armed gangs don't have.  The State is a body of armed men, and always wears a white hat.  The Russians were invited in to assist by the white hats, so they are white hats too.  And ISIS threatens US interests, so they barged in uninvited to kill them, and they (according to themselves) are white hats too.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: JRM on December 16, 2016, 07:39:19 PM
If any government anywhere is truly "legitimate", it is probably a tiny country indeed.  It has no power in the global chess game.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on December 16, 2016, 07:46:58 PM
If any government anywhere is truly "legitimate", it is probably a tiny country indeed.  It has no power in the global chess game.

"Legitimate" in this context means a Goobermint that is recognized by the UN.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 17, 2016, 01:08:56 PM
They don't say what different treatment the "moderate rebels" and "radicals" will get once they have been separated. Separation could be based simply on nationality, with non-Syrians being held/expelled and used as proof of outside interference.  Those coming from US/UK/France/Canada/Australia/Saudi Arabia/Pakistan/Afghanistan would be especially embarrassing for the regime-change coalition.

https://www.rt.com/news/370628-russia-aleppo-separation-militants/ (https://www.rt.com/news/370628-russia-aleppo-separation-militants/)
Liberation of E. Aleppo has allowed ‘genuine’ separation of ‘moderate rebels’ from radicals – MoD
17 Dec, 2016

The Russian backed operation in eastern Aleppo has allowed for a “genuine” separation of radicals from the ‘moderate opposition,’ opening a “new window of opportunity” for a ceasefire in other places in Syria, says the Russian Defense Ministry.

The operation to liberate eastern Aleppo has, in fact, proven unique, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Saturday.

“The accomplished operation of the Russian Reconciliation Center [in Syria] to safely withdraw militants from [eastern] Aleppo with their families is unique, not only because the lives of nearly 10,000 Syrians were saved,” he stated.

According to Konashenkov, “first and foremost, it is about a genuine and complete separation of militants of the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ from the irreconcilable radicals, thanks to the efforts of Russian officers from the Reconciliation Center.”

Konashenkov stressed that Moscow has managed to accomplish “what for a year our American partners considered to be impossible to implement in practice.” An obligation to pressure ‘moderate opposition’ to differentiate themselves from the terrorists in Syria was part of Russia-US agreements signed in Geneva in February and September.

On December 16, the Russian military announced that eastern Aleppo had been fully liberated from militants and terrorists. However, according to Moscow, Syrian government forces are still fighting “isolated pockets of militant resistance.”

Nearly 3,500 militants from eastern Aleppo have surrendered to the Syrian government, while thousands have seized the chance to leave through special corridors with light weapons. The evacuation was partly halted on Friday after militants tried to leave the city with heavy weapons, which is not permitted under the agreement allowing them to exit eastern Aleppo.

Konashenkov noted that the liberation of Aleppo had effectively opened a new “window of opportunity” to introduce a cessation of hostilities, “not only in the Aleppo province,” but also in other regions of Syria, while stressing that “a desire to negotiate with all parties to the conflict directly ‘on the ground,’ except for terrorist groups,” is key to speeding up the peace process in the war-ravaged state.

Attempts to replace this “hard work” with conferences in “cozy Western capitals,” talking to “high representative committees,” or sending in some monitoring group is “useless and a dead end,” he said.

“The sooner it is realized in Paris, London, and Washington, which are so far not even capable of sending humanitarian aid to Syria, the sooner there will be peace,” Konashenkov concluded.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 18, 2016, 01:14:50 PM
This highlights one of the problems of ending the fighting with multiple militias.  Although beaten, the surrender terms for East Aleppo's evacuation include allowing the evacuation of two government-held towns under siege by rebels near Idlib (a condition demanded by Hezbollah).  That was agreed to eventually, but when a convoy of buses went to collect them, they were stopped and set alight, apparently by Al Nusra.  Meanwhile the French are jumping up and down at the United Nations saying UN monitors MUST be let in immediately, when such a time frame is impossible.  Latest is that a new wording has been agreed.

https://www.rt.com/news/370673-evacuation-deal-syria-villages/ (https://www.rt.com/news/370673-evacuation-deal-syria-villages/)
Buses attacked on way to militant-held Shiite villages after evacuation deal – Syrian state media
18 Dec, 2016

Five buses were attacked and burned by “armed terrorists” while en route to militant-held villages after an evacuation deal was struck between the Syrian government and rebels, Syrian state television has reported.

The deal was reached earlier on Sunday, according to Reuters, citing al-Ikhbariya TV news. It will see the remaining militants and their families evacuated from east Aleppo in return for the evacuation of people in militant-held villages in Idlib province, al-Foua and Kafraya.

Syrian state television has reported that five buses were attacked and burned by “armed terrorists” while en route to al-Foua and Kefraya.

Rebel factions in Aleppo laid blame for the assault on the buses on Al-Nusra Front, now rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, Al Arabiya reported, adding that they condemned the attack.

    another picture of burning buses. Buses was empty they didn't arrived to Kafraya and Foa yet#A24 http://pic.twitter.com/4gwackEryO (http://pic.twitter.com/4gwackEryO)
    — Aleppo24 (@24Aleppo) December 18, 2016

According to al-Ikhbariya TV news, about 1,200 civilians will initially be evacuated from east Aleppo and a similar number from the two villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province.

    Leaked video of FatehAlsham (JabhatAlnusra) as they burned the buses.#A24 http://pic.twitter.com/oAsZeqF7uI (http://pic.twitter.com/oAsZeqF7uI)
    — Aleppo24 (@24Aleppo) December 18, 2016

The evacuation of Aleppo militants and their families from the last rebel-held part of the city has begun, Syrian state television has reported, as cited by Reuters.

Citing a rebel representative, AFP also reported that under the new agreement the evacuations will take place in two phases.

“In a first step, half of the people besieged in Aleppo will leave, in parallel with the evacuation of 1,250 people from al-Foua,” the AFP source said on condition of anonymity.

“In a second step, 1,250 people from Kafraya will leave in parallel with the evacuation of the remaining people in Aleppo,” the rebel representative said.

Another 1,500 people will later leave al-Foua and Kafraya along with the same number from Zabadani and Madaya, two rebel towns in Damascus province blockaded by the Syrian army.

Syrian state news agency SANA reported earlier that evacuation buses had entered the last militant-held district of eastern Aleppo, Ramousah, under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Syrian Arab Red Cross. State television showed live footage of buses and a van bearing a Syrian Arab Red Crescent flag parked next to a highway intersection in Ramousah. Several large white cars marked with Red Crescent and Red Cross symbols also appeared in the footage.

The buses are to evacuate both rebels and civilians remaining in the neighborhood.

On Friday, a day after thousands of people had begun leaving the remaining rebel-held neighborhoods, the Syrian government suspended evacuations after pro-government militias demanded that wounded people should also be released from al-Foua and Kefraya, two Shiite villages in nearby Idlib province under siege by rebels. The main obstacle to resuming the evacuation had been a disagreement over the number of people to be moved out of the Shiite villages.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on December 19, 2016, 12:54:20 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/370774-russian-ambassador-shot-ankara/ (https://www.rt.com/news/370774-russian-ambassador-shot-ankara/)
Russian ambassador to Turkey dies after gun attack in Ankara – Foreign Ministry
19 Dec, 2016

The Russian ambassador to Turkey has died after being shot by a gunman in Ankara, where he was attending a photo exhibition, the Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed.

“This is a tragic day in the history of Russian diplomacy. Today, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov died after being shot at during a public event in Ankara,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Monday evening.

The assault on the Russian ambassador is an “act of terrorism,” she added.

“We are in touch with Turkish officials, who assured us that there will be a thorough and comprehensive investigation [into the case],” Zakharova said.

The ambassador, Andrey Karlov, was shot as he was delivering a speech on the opening of the exhibition “Russia in the eyes of Turks.”

The perpetrator, who was wearing a suit and a tie, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ (‘God is great’ in Arabic) during the attack.

Following the shooting of Karlov, the assailant shouted: “Don't forget Aleppo! Don't forget Syria!”

“Only death can take me away from here. Whoever has a role in this cruelty, they will pay for it one by one. They will,” the man went on to say. Since last year, Russia has been providing Syrian government forces with air support in their fight against terror groups and rebels.

Turkish NTV broadcaster says that three other people were also injured in the attack on the ambassador.

The attacker himself has been killed by Turkish Special Forces in a shoot out that followed.

The gunman was a police officer, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu confirmed.

Previously Interfax, citing a source in the Turkish military, reported that the perpetrator had presented a police ID as he entered the exhibition.

Meanwhile, a picture allegedly showing the perpetrator’s personal file, apparently proving he was indeed a police officer, was posted on social media.

Reacting to the assault on the Russian ambassador, the US State Department expressed its condemnation.

“We condemn this act of violence, whatever its source. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” State Department spokesperson John Kirby, wrote on his official Twitter account.

The attack on the ambassador might be an attempt to jeopardize relations between Moscow and Ankara, Russian MP and member of the International Relations Committee, Elena Panina said.

“I believe that this is a provocation to disrupt improved dialogue between Russia and Turkey. Moreover, we know that [Turkish President] Erdogan is due to visit the Russian Federation. Therefore, it is a pure provocation,” Panina told RIA Novosti news agency.

Speaking to RT, Russian Foreign Ministry Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov said that the death of Karlov was a huge loss.

“He [Karlov] was a very talented diplomat, very experienced diplomat. It’s a very big loss for all of us.”

“All those, who planned this attack, those who participated in perpetrating this terrorist act, in carrying it out, will be brought to justice, there is no doubt about that,” Dolgov emphasized. The diplomat also noted that “there is no justification whatsoever for such a terrorist act and there is no justification for terrorism as a whole.”





https://www.rt.com/news/370831-putin-russian-ambassador-ankara/ (https://www.rt.com/news/370831-putin-russian-ambassador-ankara/)
Putin: Russian ambassador's murder provocation aimed at undermining Syria peace process
19 Dec, 2016

The fatal attack on Russia's ambassador to Turkey, who was killed by a gunman on Monday, is "clearly a provocation" aimed at undermining both Russian-Turkish relations and the settling of the Syrian crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

"This murder is clearly a provocation aimed at undermining the improvement and normalization of Russian-Turkish relations, as well as undermining the peace process in Syria promoted by Russia, Turkey, Iran and other countries interested in settling the conflict in Syria," Putin said in a statement on Monday evening.

The "only response" to the attack that Moscow "should offer" is "stepping up the fight against terrorism," the president added.

"The killers will feel it," Putin said.

Saying that ambassador Andrey Karlov "was a brilliant diplomat, widely respected in the country where he was posted," the president added the Russian diplomat "was in good standing with both the government of Turkey and other political groups in that country."

Russia's Investigative Committee has already launched an investigation into the murder, Putin said in his statement, adding that he had held a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on the matter. Russian and Turkish officials will cooperate, Putin added.

"We have to know who organized this killing and gave orders to the assassin," the Russian leader said.

Putin also ordered security to be strengthened at Russia's diplomatic missions abroad, as well as Turkish missions in Russia.

Saying that he knew Karlov personally, and calling him a "kind man," the president tasked officials with awarding the assassinated ambassador posthumously and initiating a memorial for him.

"He was killed while performing his duties," Putin said.
Title: Vlad the Impaler SPEAKS on the Turkish Ambassador Assassination
Post by: RE on December 19, 2016, 10:04:58 PM
Vlad is being cagey here.  :icon_scratch:

RE

http://www.youtube.com/v/BGRZspUHg08
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy on January 02, 2017, 06:18:47 AM
Zakharova wouldn't be allowed to say these things and get away with it if it wasn't what Putin and Lavrov really think but can't say out loud.  Just watch this display of anti-US rhetoric - quite remarkable.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46134.htm (http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46134.htm)
Russia: Obama Was the Most Evil President

Video: https://vimeo.com/197375753 (https://vimeo.com/197375753)  [in Russian with English subtitles]
Posted December 30, 2016

Maria Zakharova, Russia's Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, has stated on a national TV show that Obama will go down in history as one of the most evil Presidents and Administrations. We can only agree, that something along the lines of the Nuremburg trials for the Neocons would be most appropriate.

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Eddie on January 02, 2017, 06:24:08 AM
Obama is a neoliberal, not a neo-con. An easy mistake to make, though, because they're essentially the same.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on January 10, 2017, 08:51:59 AM
WTF is Obama doing, flying B-52s into western Syria !  Or has he just given up and said "I don't care any more, just do what you want for the rest of my term".

https://www.rt.com/news/373178-us-civilians-bomber-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/news/373178-us-civilians-bomber-syria/)
US B-52 bombed Idlib, Syria, killing over 20 civilians – Russian MoD
10 Jan, 2017

More than 20 civilians were killed in a B-52 strike carried out by the US on the Idlib province in Syria on January 3, according to Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov.

Gerasimov slammed the Western coalition in Syria for failing to achieve “any meaningful results,” adding that “at the same time, significant numbers of victims among the civilian population and government forces were reported.”

“As we remember, in September last year, the US aviation carried out an attack in the Deir-ez-Zor targeting government forces. After this attack, Islamic State started its advance,” Gerasimov said as cited by RIA Novosti news agency.

“The latest example of this is the January 3 airstrike, when a B-52 bomber – without warning the Russian side – hit a target in the town of Sarmada, Idlib Province, which is covered by the cessation of hostilities agreement. Over 20 civilians died as a result of the airstrike.”

He did not provide any further details.

The US Defense Department announced on January 6 that a strike had killed 20 people in Sarmada, Idlib; those killed were described as Al-Qaeda militants, AFP reported.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on January 18, 2017, 10:00:01 AM
https://www.rt.com/news/374098-russia-turkey-joint-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/news/374098-russia-turkey-joint-syria/)
Russian, Turkish Air Forces conduct first joint anti-ISIS op in Syria
18 Jan, 2017

Moscow and Ankara are carrying out their first joint military operation against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in the Syrian province of Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry has announced.

"Today, Russian and Turkish Air Forces are carrying out their first joint operation to target ISIL in the suburbs of the town of al-Bab in the Aleppo province," Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff, said at a briefing on Wednesday.

Based on the initial results, the joint effort has proved successful, the Defense Ministry official added.

At the same time, the Russian military is involved in a separate operation against Islamic terrorists in Syria, assisting the Syrian Army in eastern Deir ez-Zor province to fend off the militants' recent large-scale offensive, Rudskoy said.

The jihadists there are using their numerical superiority and are constantly attacking Syrian forces that are defending civilians in Deir ez-Zor, according to the military official. If the terrorists manage to capture the city, "a real genocide awaits its citizens," Rudskoy said, adding that "the whole Deir ez-Zor population might be completely exterminated."

So far, Syrian government forces in the city, supported by the Russian Air Force,  have managed to resist the IS assault, he said, describing the situation in Deir ez-Zor as "difficult."

Moscow is also assisting the Syrian Army in its efforts to defeat IS terrorists in Palmyra, Rudskoy told the media, saying that in that region the army has launched an offensive against the jihadists. Yet there are reports, confirmed by several sources, that "a vast quantity of explosives have been thrown into the Palmyra area, to be used by ISIL terrorists to destroy the city's heritage," the Russian Defense Ministry warned.

Islamist militants have come to Palmyra, Deir ez-Zor and al-Bab from Iraq, Rudskoy said at the briefing.

"The actions of the US-led coalition in the Iraqi city of Mosul have generally come down to squeezing major ISIL forces into eastern Syria," the official said, adding that Islamic State has been "almost freely" moving its forces with weapons and explosives to the Syrian provinces.

Meanwhile, a nationwide Syrian ceasefire – brokered by Moscow and Ankara and endorsed by the UN Security Council in late December – is being largely observed, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday. Saying that Russian and Turkish forces have been jointly monitoring the ceasefire, Rudskoy added that there are fewer violations, which "creates favorable conditions" for upcoming talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Peace talks on Syria are scheduled for next week in the Kazakh capital. A number of Syrian opposition groups have addressed the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria to express willingness to take part in the talks, Rudskoy said.

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he believed US and UN representatives should be invited to the meeting, aiming to finally find a solution to the Syrian crisis, but Iran reportedly rejects any participation by American representatives.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on January 31, 2017, 03:52:06 PM
Oh, Trump is a maniac ! - no, this was planned by the Obama administration.

If the US-Arabs-Kurds do take Raqqa, that will leave them in a city which Assad will either then have to take, or yield that part of Syria altogether.

https://www.rt.com/news/375797-syria-group-vehicles-trump/ (https://www.rt.com/news/375797-syria-group-vehicles-trump/)
Trump administration sends armored vehicles to Syrian rebels
31 Jan, 2017

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Arab and Kurdish forces in northern Syria, has received armored vehicles from the US, indicating increased support from Washington under the administration of President Donald Trump.

A small number of vehicles arrived four or five days ago, SDF spokesman Talal Silo told Reuters.

“Previously we didn't get support in this form, we would get light weapons and ammunition,” he added. “There are signs of full support from the new American leadership – more than before – for our forces.”

The shipment was confirmed by Pentagon spokesman John Dorrian, who said it was made "using existing authorities, in the interest of helping protect our partnered force from the (IS) improvised-explosive device threat."

The Pentagon also said that plans to deliver the vehicles pre-dated the Trump administration, but were a sign of its renewed commitment to defeating IS, which the new US President promised as part of his campaign.

The SDF, which includes the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia forces, is part of what the US wanted to forge into a united force opposing the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). The administration of former President Barack Obama voiced plans to launch a siege of the IS stronghold in Syria, Raqqa, similar to the operation in Mosul in Iraq. The plans are yet to be implemented.

Silo told the news agency that the SDF has plans for “new action” against IS in “a few days,” but would not go into detail.

A Kurdish military source separately told Reuters that the SDF was planned to take control of a road connecting Raqqa and Deir er-Zor, the governorate where IS forces are trying to seize control of the provincial capital from the Syrian Army.

“The coming phase of the campaign aims to isolate Raqqa completely,” said the Kurdish military source, who declined to be named. “In order to accomplish this requires reaching the Raqqa-Deir al-Zor road," the source said. "This mission will be difficult.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on January 31, 2017, 05:31:16 PM
Oh, Trump is a maniac ! - no, this was planned by the Obama administration.

Well, unlike Obamacare and the Immigration policy, I don't see Trumpty-Dumpty signing Executive Orders to repeal the War policies.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on February 17, 2017, 05:24:37 PM
It seems when the Pentagon, CIA, Trump and Sec. of Def., and the Russians and the Syrian Government, and Iran and Iraq, all agree, Russian Tu-95 bombers, with an escort of Russian fighter jets based in Iran, can overfly Iran, Iraq and Eastern Syria, and bomb the shit out of ISIS, no trouble.

https://www.rt.com/news/377758-russian-bombers-isis-raqqa/ (https://www.rt.com/news/377758-russian-bombers-isis-raqqa/)
Russian strategic bombers hit ISIS in Raqqa in coordination with Pentagon via ‘deconfliction line’
17 Feb, 2017

Russian Tu-95 bombers have struck Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL) targets in Syria's Raqqa region using X-101 cruise missiles, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, adding that it informed the US about the operation.

“On February 17, 2017, strategic missile carrying Tu-95 bombers made an operational flight from the territory of the Russian Federation over the territories of Iran and Iraq and conducted an air strike against Islamic State terrorists’ objectives in the Raqqa region using X-101 cruise missiles,” the ministry’s statement says.

It also says the Russian bombers hit the terrorist's bases and training camps as well as a command center of one of Islamic State's “large detachments,” adding that all objects were successfully destroyed.

In Syria, the bombers operated under cover of Su-30 and Su-35 fighter jets scrambled from the Khmeimim Airbase in Syria's western Latakia region. The bombers then returned to their bases in Russia, the statement says.

The ministry also said it notified Washington about the strikes in advance using the “de-confliction” hotline. In October 2015, Russia and the US agreed to a flight safety memorandum which regulates flight paths and to inform each other of an emergency situation in Syria establishing the hotline to avoid dangerous aerial incidents in Syrian airspace.

Colonel John Dorrian, the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force, confirmed it received the notification via the hotline.

    De-confliction of air ops w/Russia continue. Today they conducted ops in vicinity of #Raqqah. So did @CJTF-OIR.
    — OIR Spokesman (@OIRSpox) February 17, 2017

In January, Russia dispatched long-range bombers to Syria. On January 21, six supersonic Tupolev Tu-22M3 bombers conducted air strikes against Islamic State targets in the Syrian governorate of Deir ez-Zor. The Russian planes hit IS base camps, weapon stockpiles, and armored vehicles.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 03, 2017, 07:42:04 PM
http://www.mintpressnews.com/syrias-water-cut-off-by-turkey-following-mccain-erdogan-meeting/225483/ (http://www.mintpressnews.com/syrias-water-cut-off-by-turkey-following-mccain-erdogan-meeting/225483/)
Syria’s Water Cut Off By Turkey Following McCain, Erdogan Meeting
Whitney Webb
March 3, 2017

Just a matter of days after John McCain’s “unusual” trip to Syria and Turkey, the Turkish government has cut off water supplies from the Euphrates River into northern Syria, violating international conventions on water rights.

While some measure of stability has returned to pockets of northern Syria following the Syrian Army’s recent liberation of al-Qaeda from Aleppo and elsewhere, external forces seem determined to keep the region volatile, regardless of the cost. In the latest example of aggressive foreign intervention in Syria, Turkey, which has long played an antagonistic role in Syria’s nearly six-year-long conflict, has now cut off the flow of the Euphrates River into Syria, depriving the nation of one of its primary sources of water.

According to the Kurdish Hawar News Agency, Turkey cut water supplies to Syria around Feb. 23, which subsequently forced a hydroelectric plant at the Tishrin Dam to shut down while also significantly reducing water levels on its associated reservoir. The dam supplies both water and power to key parts of northern Syria, such as the city of Manbij and other parts of the predominantly Kurdish Kobani Canton.

The dam is one of several major dams along the Euphrates River. Just downstream from Tishrin lies the Tabqa Dam and its reservoir Lake Assad, which supplies Aleppo with most of its power and drinking water, as well as irrigation water for over 640,000 hectares (2,500 square miles) of farmland. A city official in Manbij told Hawar that the city would provide generator fuel to civilians to help cope with the blackout that has resulted from the river being cut off. The same official added that Turkey had “violated the international conventions of water and rivers energy by cutting off Euphrates water.”

This is not the first time Turkey has deprived Syrians of water as a means to advance their political goals in the region. Turkey previously cut the river off in May of 2014, causing water levels on Lake Assad to drop by over 20 feet and creating the potential for genocide by means of dehydration. By blocking the river, Turkey threatens Iraqi civilians as well. Major urban centers like Mosul, whose water supplies largely depend on reservoirs fed by the Euphrates, could be gravely impacted if the river continues to be blocked.

The act of cutting off the river is not unprecedented, but its timing is peculiar. Just days prior to Turkey’s act, U.S. Senator John McCain “secretly” visited the Kobani Canton, the very region that now finds itself without water, before heading to Turkey, where he met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  According to the senator’s office, “Senator McCain’s visit was a valuable opportunity to assess dynamic conditions on the ground in Syria and Iraq.” It adds that McCain looks forward to working with the Trump administration and military leaders “to optimize our approach” on fighting the Islamic State.

While the U.S. has backed the Kurds in their fight to keep their territories along the Syrian-Turkish border free of terrorist influence, it has come at the cost of greatly complicating diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Turkey.  For example, in early 2016, Erdogan dramatically demanded that the U.S. choose between an alliance with Turkey or with the Syrian Kurds. The diplomatic stand-off has since reached new heights of tension, with Turkey threatening to invade Kurdish-held Manbij less than two weeks ago. Manbij is suffering the most from Turkey’s blockage of the Euphrates, suggesting that the move could be intended to destabilize the Kurds before something more drastic takes place.

It also warrants mentioning that despite Erdogan’s and McCain’s claims that they are eager to “defeat” the Islamic State and other terrorist factions, both have close ties to those very same groups. This, of course, suggests that McCain’s visit, as well as recent moves by Turkey, have ulterior motives that have yet to be publicly expressed.

For example, McCain has been so intent on removing Assad from power that he has fostered relationships with the Syria’s “moderate rebels” and its more notorious opposition factions such as the Islamic State. Photographic evidence has confirmed this, with one infamous photo showing McCain posing with Khalid al-Hamad – a “moderate” rebel who gained notoriety after a video of him eating the heart of a Syrian Army soldier went viral online. McCain has also admitted meeting with ISIS on national television, going so far as to acknowledge that he is still in contact with the infamous terrorist group.

(http://www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Terrorist-Network_021586771375-001.jpg)
    Senator John McCain in Syria with members of the U.S.-backed rebel group Northern Storm.

Erdogan, for his part, was revealed to be a major player in the smuggling of Islamic State oil out of Syria for sale on the global market. It was these oil sales that enabled the Islamic State to grow into what it is today and to become one of the world’s most well-funded terror groups.

With such connections now well-documented, it seems unlikely that McCain and Erdogan discussed how to defeat the Islamic State. Based on the evidence, it seems much more likely that both remain eager to destabilize the region due to their shared goal of deposing Assad. With Turkey already working to destabilize Northern Syria by cutting off key resources, we will soon see what other measures may have been discussed during this “secret” meeting.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 06, 2017, 07:09:12 PM
Signs of cooperation between US-Kurds and Russia-Syria-Iran against ISIS and Turkey-Syrian rebels.

https://www.rt.com/usa/379639-us-deploys-force-in-manbij/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/379639-us-deploys-force-in-manbij/)
US deploys force in Manbij as 'visible sign of deterrence' - Pentagon
6 Mar, 2017

A small number of US troops were sent to the northern Syrian town of Manbij to deter conflict between the US-backed Kurdish forces and Turkey-backed rebels, the Pentagon has confirmed. Syrian troops have also moved into the area to serve as a buffer.

US troops were first spotted in Manbij on Saturday, following the reports of a deal between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian government to hand over some 20 villages in a zone between Manbij and Al-Bab, recently taken by Turkish-backed forces.

"They are certainly aware of where we are, and we are aware of where they are. There is no intention between the two of there being any conflict against any party other than ISIS [Islamic State]," Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters, referring to the US and Syrian forces.

The US-backed SDF is mostly comprised of Kurdish militia, considered terrorists by Turkey. Washington has cultivated the SDF as a proxy force on the ground against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) independent of the Syrian army, which is supported by Russia and Iran.

US troops were sent to Manbij after “the increase in Turkish threats to occupy the city,” Sharfan Darwish, spokesman for the Manbij Military Council, told Reuters. Turkish-backed forces have clashed with SDF troops west of Manbij over the weekend and even on Monday, Darwish confirmed.

Last week, the US-backed group struck a deal with Russia to turn over up to 20 villages west of Manbij to the Syrian army, creating a buffer zone between the Kurdish-dominated militia and the Turks. While implementation of the deal has been delayed, five villages were handed over on Monday, Darwish said.

SDF forces liberated Manbij from IS in August 2016, just days before Ankara announced “Operation Euphrates Shield.” Turkish-backed Syrian rebels, along with Turkish armor and artillery, have since pushed IS back and captured the key stronghold of Al-Bab, only to see further advance checked by Syrian government troops that linked up with the SDF south of the city.

US presence in the area was intended to keep all groups focused on fighting IS, the Pentagon said on Monday.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 17, 2017, 12:36:25 AM
Complicating a very messy situation, we've now got Israel striking targets in Syria that are presumably Lebanese Hezbollah, and Syria firing anti-aircraft missiles at them.  It is a great pity they shoot them all down.  It is interesting that the missiles didn't come from S-300/400 batteries.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/israeli-fighter-jets-fired-upon-missiles-syria-mission-assad (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/israeli-fighter-jets-fired-upon-missiles-syria-mission-assad)
Israeli fighter jets fired upon during Syria mission in clash with pro-Assad forces
Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
17 March 2017

Israel military jets on an operation over Syria have been targeted by anti-aircraft missiles in the most serious clash between Israel and pro-Assad forces since the beginning of the civil war in Syria.

Although none of the Israeli aircraft were hit, one of the missiles was intercepted north of Jerusalem by an Israeli missile defence system.

The first indications of the exchange of fire came in the middle of the night with air raid sirens in the Israeli-occupied Jordan valley and reports of an explosion, heard over a large area, which was later confirmed as the sound of one of the missiles being brought down by Israeli air defences.

Later Israeli military sources described the rocket brought down over Israel as one known to be in Syrian military arsenal – although not its most advanced – adding that it had been intercepted by its Arrow anti-missile system in its first confirmed use since being deployed in the late 1990s.

The incident was highly unusual in that it also saw the Israeli military break its customary silence over raids in Syria to release a statement to admit that its aircraft had been targeted while operating there.

“Overnight, March 17, IAF aircrafts [sic] targeted several targets in Syria,” said the statement. “Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and the IDF aerial defence systems intercepted one of the missiles. At no point was the safety of Israeli civilians or the IAF aircraft compromised.”

The statement has confirmed what has long been an open secret in Israel in recent years, that Israeli jets have been targeting weapons convoys intended for the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which has been fighting on the side of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Although Israel has operated with relative impunity in Syria, Russian-supplied anti-aircraft missile systems – including most recently S300 launchers – have long threatened to complicate Israel’s freedom of action over Syria, despite a deconfliction arrangement with Moscow to avoid accidental clashes with Russian aircraft supporting the Assad regime.

Israel has largely avoided entanglement in the war in Syria, however it has launched raids on warehouses and convoys linked to the transport of Iranian-supplied arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Despite the deconfliction arrangement with Moscow there has been growing concern in Israeli security circles at events turning the war in Syria in favour of the Assad regime, which is seen by some as benefiting Hezbollah in Lebanon, not least in its efforts to comprehensively rearm since the 2006 war.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 17, 2017, 12:53:55 AM
https://electronicintifada.net/content/americas-responsibility-toward-syrian-refugees/19886 (https://electronicintifada.net/content/americas-responsibility-toward-syrian-refugees/19886)
America’s responsibility toward Syrian refugees

Greg Shupak (https://www.doomsteaddiner.net/people/greg-shupak)
Dr. Greg Shupak is a writer and activist who teaches Media Studies at the University of Guelph. He lives in Toronto, Canada.
16 March 2017

President Donald Trump’s second major executive order on immigration bans people from six countries with Muslim majorities from entering the United States: Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Syria. The new order (http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-travel-ban-20170306-story.html), scheduled to take effect on 16 March but frozen at the 11th hour (https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/social-issues/lawyers-face-off-on-trump-travel-ban-in-md-court-wednesday-morning/2017/03/14/b2d24636-090c-11e7-93dc-00f9bdd74ed1_story.html) by a federal judge, bars travelers from these six countries for 90 days and refugees for 120 days. Certain waivers (http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-trump-executive-order-20170306-story.html) could be applied.

Both The New York Times (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/06/opinion/president-trumps-muslim-ban-lite.html) and The Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trumps-new-travel-ban-is-as-arbitrary-and-senseless-as-the-first/2017/03/06/9480c860-ff84-11e6-8f41-ea6ed597e4ca_story.html) denounced the new order. The New York Times called it a “Muslim Ban Lite,” in reference to the first and now retracted executive order on immigration that Trump issued in January.

Yet neither newspaper mentions the role that the US has played in creating these refugee flows.

The Syrian case is particularly notable, both because it is the world’s single largest refugee crisis and because of the key role the US, along with allies such as Israel, has played in the disaster there, which has long been suppressed in the American consciousness.

Indeed, the lie that the US failed to “Do Something (http://fair.org/home/the-syrian-refugee-crisis-and-the-do-something-lie/)” in Syria is remarkably widespread. This approach perpetuates the myth that Americans are innocent in the Syrian catastrophe. This could scarcely be less true: the US, Israel and other regional components in the US empire have fueled the conflict by derailing negotiations, levying sanctions, bombing the country and arming, funding and training fighters including murderous sectarians.

As scholar Bassam Haddad writes (https://www.thenation.com/article/the-debate-over-syria-has-reached-a-dead-end/): “The [Syrian] government – with much help from its regional and international allies – has brutalized the Syrian population since 2011. This fact, however, does not absolve its regional and international opponents from responsibility for significantly contributing to the mayhem.”

He describes a consensus among Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and the United States “centered around the notion that Syria and its allies needed to be cut down to size because they impede domination of the region by those players along with their allies, notably Israel.”

“These very powers almost tripped over themselves as they rushed to fuel and hijack the Syrian uprising for their own purposes.”

Israeli strikes in Syria

One example of what Haddad describes as cutting Syria and its allies “down to size” is hostile Israeli military action in Syria of which there have been several reported instances over the past few years. (It is standard Israeli policy never to confirm or deny such attacks in foreign countries.)

In December 2012, Israeli forces in the occupied Golan Heights, counter-attacking against mortar fire, struck a Syrian artillery unit (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/world/middleeast/israel-strikes-at-syria-again-in-response-to-mortar-attacks.html). In January 2013, American officials said Israel carried out airstrikes (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/world/middleeast/syria-says-it-was-hit-by-strikes-from-israeli-planes.html) on the outskirts of Damascus against what they claim were antiaircraft weapons being transferred to Hizballah.

Less than five months later, Israeli jets “devastated” targets near Damascus (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-crisis-blasts-idUSBRE94400020130505) that Western and Israeli officials allege were connected to a shipment of Iranian weapons to Hizballah.

Between July 2013 and January 2014, Israel is understood to have bombed Latakia three times. The July attack reportedly saw the Israeli navy strike (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4404541,00.html) a shipment of Russian-made anti-ship missiles; that October, a US official said Israel’s air force bombed (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-24767571) Russian missiles that the US believed were bound for Hizballah; in January, Israeli planes were said to have targeted (http://www.timesofisrael.com/huge-explosion-rocks-assad-coastal-stronghold/) a warehouse that apparently held Russian missiles.

A January 2015 bombing in Syria, attributed (http://www.timesofisrael.com/six-iranians-also-said-killed-in-alleged-israeli-strike/) to Israel killed six members of Hizballah and six Iranians, including a general.

What such attacks show is that Israel is engaged in direct military interventions in Syria that target the Syrian government and thus favor the opposition. In no cases did the US criticize the Israeli bombing of Syria. That the US has only increased the degree (https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/obama-hands-israel-largest-military-aid-deal-history) to which it arms Israel since these incidents demonstrates at least tacit approval of them and makes the US a party to the acts.

During the Syrian war, Israel has hastened its colonization (https://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-consolidates-grip-golan-under-cover-syrias-chaos/18481) of the Syrian territory it occupies, the Golan Heights. Israeli planners have oscillated between wanting all sides in Syria to bleed (https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161217-the-let-them-bleed-doctrine-in-syria/) indefinitely, which would render the country too weak to challenge Israel and would bog down Iran and Hizballah, the Syrian government’s allies, and wanting (https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israels-global-standing-continues-sink-top-strategists-say) the non-Islamic State group elements of Syria’s opposition to oust the Syrian government because of the blow that would be to Iran and Hizballah. Israel has provided medical care to Syrian opposition fighters and (http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.630359?v=4AC46632C7C0D296D80E936AFCEA3D59) the Israeli military has been in regular contact with Syrian armed groups.

Furthermore, a US-led coalition has bombed Syria more than 7,100 (https://airwars.org/) times since the fall of 2014 in the name of defeating the Islamic State, killing between 914 and 1,361 civilians (https://airwars.org/civilian-casualty-claims/) in the process. Earlier this month, the US sent (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/09/us-troops-arrival-syria-intensifies-struggle-for-influence) hundreds of troops into northern Syria as part of the effort against the Islamic State.

It’s possible that the Syrian government will benefit (https://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/world/middleeast/us-and-allies-hit-isis-targets-in-syria.html) from a campaign that rids the country of the Islamic State. However, it is a mistake to see the US-led war on the group as designed to keep the Syrian government in power.

For example, the Americans have armed (http://www.janes.com/article/59374/us-arms-shipment-to-syrian-rebels-detailed) the Syrian opposition in the period since the US began bombing the Islamic State. The American effort against the group and the more general regional war is about (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/03/isis-united-states-iraq-syria/) the American ruling class seeking to enrich itself via the military industrial complex while simultaneously deepening the American capacity to influence what happens in Syria in both the short and long term by, for example, building military bases in the country.

The notion that the US has been an innocent observer of the war is pure fiction. The US and Israel have participated in the destruction of Syria and, accordingly, have a share in the responsibility for its disastrous consequences, one of which is the mass dispersion of Syrians.

Keeping the war going


The Washington Post reports (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/lawmakers-move-to-curb-1-billio-cia-program-to-train-syrian-rebels/2015/06/12/b0f45a9e-1114-11e5-adec-e82f8395c032_story.html) that, from at least 2013 to 2015, the CIA spent $1 billion per year – or about one-fifteenth of its budget – to train and equip “nearly 10,000 fighters sent into Syria,” combatants the paper describes as “anti-Assad rebels.”

Similarly, the US and its allies repeatedly derailed (https://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n14/hugh-roberts/the-hijackers) diplomatic efforts that might have ended the war years ago (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/15/west-ignored-russian-offer-in-2012-to-have-syrias-assad-step-aside) when the number of people killed and made refugees was much smaller.

The entirely predictable consequence of hindering negotiations while increasing the volume of weapons in a war-torn country and teaching fighters there how to kill is that there has been an increase in the number of casualties. By taking these steps in Syria, the US took actions that they had to have known would plunge Syria deeper into war and make people have to leave their homes in the resulting violence.

There are also grounds for concluding that the US knowingly enabled, and in some cases directly supported, anti-government forces in Syria that committed war crimes against minorities.

Andrew Cockburn writes (http://harpers.org/archive/2016/01/a-special-relationship/?single=1) in Harper’s Magazine that “according to several sources, a US-Turkish-Saudi ‘coordination room’ in southern Turkey had also ordered the rebel groups it was supplying to cooperate with Jaish al-Fatah. The groups, in other words, would be embedded within the al-Qaida coalition.”

A Financial Times report also describes (https://www.ft.com/content/791ad3bc-ecfc-11e6-930f-061b01e23655) the covert operations center, the Müşterek Operasyon Merkezi (MOM), which the US formed with Britain, France, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey in early 2014. An opposition figure close to MOM-backed commanders says that MOM commanders inflated weapons requests to hoard or sell on the black market, some of which wound up going to the Islamic State group or al-Nusra. He told the newspaper: “The CIA knew about this, of course, everyone in MOM did. It was the price of doing business.”

Jaish al-Fatah was a coalition of opposition groups led by Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida’s branch in Syria. The brutal, sectarian nature of this group was public knowledge. It was reportedly (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10117153/Syrian-rebels-accused-of-sectarian-massacre.html) behind the massacre of 60 minority Shia villagers in June 2013.

There is also reason to believe that al-Nusra was involved in the January 2014 butchering (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-conflict-innocent-civilians-caught-in-the-crossfire-of-the-siege-of-adra-as-islamist-rebels-9089191.html) of 32 Alawi, Christians and Druze, all of whom are minorities in Syria. In June 2015, the group reportedly massacred at least 20 (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33092902) Druze villagers.

Nour al-Din al-Zinki, a CIA-vetted group that received (http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-aleppo-idUSKCN0SD16O20151019) TOW anti-tank missiles from the US, has now formally joined forces (https://www.yahoo.com/news/syria-rebels-merge-ex-qaeda-affiliate-181239916.html) with al-Nusra, which has changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.

A July 2016 report from Amnesty International accuses al-Zinki and other opposition groups in Aleppo and Idlib of being involved in 24 cases of civilian abductions (https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/mde24/4227/2016/en/), including children and human rights activists, and minorities “abducted solely on account of their religion or ethnicity.”

Moreover, the United States supports (https://www.thenation.com/article/why-is-washington-supporting-fundamentalist-jihadis-in-syria/) the remnants of the Free Syrian Army, though many of these fighters have vowed vengeance against Syria’s Shiites and other minorities, and also armed a CIA-vetted group called al-Rahman Corps that in East Ghouta has allied with the organization formerly known as al-Nusra.

There is also reason to believe that the US government did not particularly object to its allies helping bring the Islamic State to power. In an August 2014 email released by Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton says (https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/3774) that the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia “are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL [Islamic State] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

As the Financial Times story shows, the US was working with both countries at the MOM joint operations center at the time of Clinton’s email. The American government then kept selling (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/03/isis-united-states-iraq-syria/) weapons to the Saudis and Qatar after the point that Clinton acknowledged that the US was aware those two governments were supporting the Islamic State.

Before these events it was well known that the Islamic State specifically targeted minorities for violence. For instance, in 2013, in Syria the group carried out (http://www.ecoi.net/file_upload/1930_1379586575_g1316865.pdf) “attacks on family members of Kurdish fighters and kidnappings of hundreds of civilians on the basis of their ethnic identity.”

Yet a leaked tape (http://mondoweiss.net/2017/01/watched-manage-leaked/) of Secretary of State John Kerry from last September suggests that the US government saw the Islamic State group as an opportunity to weaken the Syrian government and its allies. “We were watching,” he says. “We saw that Daesh [Islamic State] was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage, you know, that Assad might then negotiate. Instead of negotiating, he got Putin to support him.”

A share of the responsibility for refugees

A nonprofit group based in Syria called the Syrian Centre for Policy Research has thoroughly documented the economics of the war. The center’s reports have been supported by UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestine refugees, and the United Nations Development Program. The Syrian Centre for Policy Research study “Confronting Fragmentation (http://scpr-syria.org/publications/confronting-fragmentation/)” identifies “unbearable economic conditions and hardship” as being, along with security concerns, a central force driving Syrians from their homes.

The Syrian Centre for Policy Research also points to sanctions, which the US and its allies have in place against Syria, as a source of this economic pain. The 2015 report describes steep declines in electricity production throughout the war and attributes this in part to how maintenance is undermined by “the sanction that prohibits the government from importing necessary parts and equipment for generating stations.”

Because of the war, Syria is now heavily dependent on imports and these face barriers “including sanctions on institutions, firms and financial transactions and insurance among other things,” which has made it harder to import basic goods.

An earlier report from the same group, entitled “The Syrian Catastrophe (http://scpr-syria.org/publications/policy-reports/the-syrian-catastrophe-socioeconomic-monitoring-report-first-quarterly-report-january-march-2013-2/)”, finds that “international sanctions blocking the import of lifesaving drugs, specialized modern medical equipment and spare parts” has contributed to the collapse of Syria’s healthcare system. The report also notes that sanctions on finance helped bring about declines in manufacturing, real estate, mining and exports.

None of this is to exculpate the Syrian government and its partners for their role in forcing millions of Syrians from their homes. The scholar Omar Dahi, while critical of the war crimes and human rights abuses committed by opposition groups, recounts (http://www.merip.org/syrian-cataclysm) the “systematic and wholesale destruction of entire towns and cities” by the Syrian government and its allies.

The point, however, is that narratives about Syrian refugees that omit the role played by the US and its proxies are incomplete.

Today, the US has been consigned to the sidelines (http://www.alternet.org/world/isis-syrian-war-and-al-qaeda) of the ongoing Syria negotiations. These talks are unlikely to bring an end to the war in Syria on their own because they do not involve crucial armed groups such as the Islamic State and Fatah al-Sham, the al-Nusra rebrand. Accordingly, the violence will almost certainly continue, leaving more Syrians dead and perhaps making more Syrians refugees.

In America, the absolutely necessary actions being taken to oppose Trump’s restrictions on refugees need to be coupled with demands that his administration lift the sanctions on Syria, withdraw US soldiers and marines, stop bombing the country, ensure that Israel does not do so again, dismantle the bases (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/10/syria-no-fly-zone-hillary-clinton-assad-russia/) the US has set up in Syria and refrain from measures that might jeopardize the negotiations for peace in Syria.

Solidarity with Syrian refugees involves pushing for them to be allowed into Western countries. It also has to involve political organizing within the US and states allied with it to enable conditions for peace and self-determination to take place in Syria so that the refugees can eventually return home if they so choose. For that to happen, the widespread notion that the US has sat on the sidelines of the Syria war has to be quashed.


Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 17, 2017, 02:53:09 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/381086-israeli-jets-syria-strikes/ (https://www.rt.com/news/381086-israeli-jets-syria-strikes/)
Syria claims Israeli jet shot down after strike near Palmyra, IDF says all aircraft undamaged
17 Mar, 2017

The Syrian Army says Israeli military jets hit a “military target” near Palmyra in a raid overnight. In retaliation the jets were targeted by Syrian anti-aircraft missiles.

According to a Syrian Army statement, a total of four Israeli jets breached Syrian airspace on Friday morning, Reuters reports. Syria's air defenses shot down one of the Israeli jets over "occupied ground" and damaged another.

The Israeli Army confirmed it had conducted airstrikes on several targets in Syria, Israel National News reported. However, the IDF insists that none of the jets was harmed.



http://sana.sy/en/?p=102361 (http://sana.sy/en/?p=102361)
Foreign Ministry: Israeli aggression against Syria is flagrant defiance of Syrian sovereignty and international legitimacy
17 March، 2017   

Damascus, SANA – Syria affirmed that the Israeli aggression that took place on Friday, which is a violation of international law, the UN Charter, and the sovereignty and the sanctity of Syrian territory, was not the first of its kind but is a part of a long series of attacks carried out by Israel to support its agents in the terrorist war on Syria.

In two letters sent by the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry to the UN Secretary General and the President of Security Council, the Ministry said that in flagrant defiance of the international legitimacy and UN resolutions and the sovereignty and the inviolability of the Syrian territory, four Israeli warplanes violated the Syrian airspace in al-Breij area through the Lebanese territories at 2:40 am and targeted a military site in the eastern countryside of Homs province.

“As part of its right to defend the sanctity of its territory, the Syrian air defense responded to this aggression and shot down one of the planes while the rest of them were forced to flee,” the Ministry added.

The Ministry went on to say that the Syrian Arab Republic confirms that all Israeli security, military, and political resources have been harnessed directly and indirectly in order to enable terrorists to weaken Syria and to prolong the terrorist war as much as possible.

“The Israeli aggression this morning comes as a new Israeli attempt to boost the collapsed morale of terrorist groups after they were defeated recently by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies in many areas,” the Ministry said in the letters.

The Ministry added that Syria confirms that all the pretexts and allegations made by Israel to justify the launching of such attacks are cheap diversionary attempts that have been used every time Israel fails to justify the continuation of its illegal occupation of the Syrian Golan, the Palestinian territory, and the rest of the occupied territories in southern Lebanon.

“Syria calls on the UN Secretary General and the President of the UNSC to condemn this blatant Israeli aggression, to force Israel to stop supporting terrorism in Syria, to implement all UNSC resolutions on counter-terrorism, including resolution No. 2253, to withdraw from the whole occupied Syrian Golan to the line of June 4th, 1967, and to implement resolution No. 497 for 1981.

The Ministry concluded its letters by affirming that the Israeli aggressions on Syria not only threaten peace and security in the region, but also threaten security and stability in all parts of the world.

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 17, 2017, 05:46:25 PM
Clearly it wasn't an S-300/400 missile (see video), but now that Syria has demonstrated that "this is how we will act", the next time it could be an S-400.

Irbid Governorate is in north-west Jordan, adjacent to Israel, the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and south-west Syria.

https://www.rt.com/news/381199-netanyahu-syria-airstrikes-hezbollah/ (https://www.rt.com/news/381199-netanyahu-syria-airstrikes-hezbollah/)
‘That’s how we act’: Netanyahu justifies Syria air raid, vows forceful response to Hezbollah threat
17 Mar, 2017

Four Israeli jets breached Syrian airspace and targeted military sites roughly around 3:00 am on Friday, prompting Damascus to activate its air defense systems. According to the Syrian military, one of the Israeli jets was shot down over the occupied Golan Heights while another was damaged.

The IDF has firmly denied that any of its jets were hit, and said Syrian anti-aircraft missiles either missed or had been intercepted by Israel's own air defenses. Fragments of the intercepted projectile were allegedly found across the border in a village in Jordan’s Irbid governorate.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/u9170Nyau6A (https://www.youtube.com/embed/u9170Nyau6A)
http://www.youtube.com/v/u9170Nyau6A

Addressing the issue on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu justified the incursion explaining that IDF planes targeted a Hezbollah weapons convoy. Israel has always warned that it will intervene to tackle any potential threat from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, whose fighters have been allied with Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“Our policy is very consistent,” Netanyahu stated in a Hebrew language video released to the press, according to the Times of Israel. “When we identify attempts to transfer advanced weapons to Hezbollah — when we have the intel and the operational capability — we act to prevent it.”

“That’s how we’ve acted and how we will continue to act…and everyone needs to take this into account. Everyone,” Netanyahu added.

Damascus, however, said that the Israeli strikes instead benefited the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist gangs and were conducted in a “desperate attempt to raise their deteriorating morale and divert attention away from the victories” of the Syrian Arab Army, Times of Israel reports.

The latest incident is not the first time that Israel has bombed targets in Syrian territory. However until the raid on Thursday night, which prompted a retaliatory response from Damascus, Israel has always stopped short of confirming specific air operations.

Russia, which is conducting military air operations in Syria at the request of Damascus, on Friday summoned the Israeli Ambassador to Moscow Gary Koren to discuss developments, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. No further information was offered.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on March 17, 2017, 05:55:36 PM
Should be interesting when Ruskie Jets confront Zionist Jets in a Dogfight.

http://www.youtube.com/v/wtJ1Gnh9wPU

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 19, 2017, 07:27:24 AM
The Israeli planes invaded Syrian airspace, fired missiles, and then Lieberman complains that they were fired on - fucking arrogant prick.  The S-200 was introduced in 1970, and Syria has had them since 1983, so they are real museum pieces.  Good for sending a signal though.  Wiping them off the map would be better.

https://www.rt.com/news/381303-israel-threatens-syria-defense/ (https://www.rt.com/news/381303-israel-threatens-syria-defense/)
Israeli minister threatens to destroy Syrian air defenses
19 Mar, 2017

The Israeli defense minister threatened to destroy Syrian air defenses after they shot at Israeli warplanes, which violated Syrian airspace and bombed targets on Syrian soil.

“Next time, if the Syrian aerial defense apparatus acts against our planes, we will destroy it,” Avigdor Lieberman told Israeli Public Radio on Sunday. “We won't hesitate. Israel's security is above everything else; there will be no compromise.”

He was referring to the Friday morning raid of the Israeli Air Force, the latest of several reported over the past few years, in which Israel claimed it targeted weapons bound for the Lebanese militant movement Hezbollah. Israel says it has to protect itself from advanced weapons which the militants try to obtain from the Syrian government.

Syria shot surface-to-air S-200 missiles at the Israeli planes as they were flying back from the night mission. Damascus claims it shot down one of the planes, while Israel denies it.

The Israeli media said one of the Syrian missiles was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow air defense system. It was the first time Israel officials have confirmed combat use of the advanced anti-missiles, which are originally meant to intercept heavy long-range ballistic missiles.

The Israeli military is investigating whether the decision to fire Arrow interceptors against the Syrian anti-aircraft missiles was justified, according to Haaretz.

The former prime minister and defense minister, Ehud Barak, said Saturday that the involvement of the system forced Israel to acknowledge cross-border military activity.

“It could be that with more thorough thought, it wasn’t worth firing,” Barak said at a community lecture in Be’er Sheva.

“We have usually tended to reserve what would be called ‘room for denial’ for Syrian President [Bashar] Assad,” he added.

While Israeli acknowledgment of an intervention in Syria is rare, it is not unprecedented. Last April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed for the first time that an attack on dozens of Hezbollah targets in Syria was indeed conducted by Israeli warplanes, as speculated by the media.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 23, 2017, 11:51:32 PM
Superpowers eyeball to eyeball, NATO allies eyeball to eyeball, and terrorists eyeball to eyeball.

https://www.rt.com/news/382096-turkey-us-raqqa-offensive-kurds/ (https://www.rt.com/news/382096-turkey-us-raqqa-offensive-kurds/)
Turkey refuses to join US-led offensive on ISIS-held Raqqa if Kurds involved
23 Mar, 2017

A rift has opened up between NATO allies US and Turkey over the part Syrian Kurdish forces should play in the liberation of Raqqa from Islamic State terrorists as Ankara has openly rejected taking part in any operation that would involve the Kurds.

Turkey has "set out a model" for successfully fighting against jihadists in Syria, which it suggested should be further implemented to defeat Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in the region, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said, as cited by Turkish media on Thursday.

Citing the liberation of the cities of al-Bab and Jarabulus in the Aleppo Governorate, which was carried out with the support of the Turkish military, the minister said Ankara was willing to support the anti-terrorist operation to free the IS stronghold of Raqqa in a US-led offensive.

However, Turkey would only fight alongside "moderate opposition" forces in Syria, he added, saying that the participation of Kurdish militants in the international coalition's operation to defeat IS is out of the question for Ankara.

"Turkey will also support such an operation... But if you are saying ‘We will bring in the PYD [Kurdish Democratic Union Party] while taking Daesh [IS] away,' Turkey will never allow it. We will not be involved in such an operation," Kurtulmus told the Anadolu news agency.

Saying that the anti-terrorist operation in Syria is a question of both Turkey's border protection and national security, Kurtulmus added that the issue of the Kurds' participation had been discussed with both the US and Russia.

"If peace is not established in Syria, there will be no regional peace. And if there is no regional peace, there will be no global peace," the official warned.

Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its militant wing, YPG, which has been a key force fighting Islamic State militants in northern Syria, as linked to the PKK, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which operates in Turkey and Iraq. Ankara considers the PKK a terrorist organization and blames it for being behind the Kurdish insurgency in eastern Turkish regions. The US has designated PKK as a terrorist group, while supporting the YPG in Syria. Russia considers neither of the groups to be terrorist.

The Pentagon on Wednesday confirmed that US aircraft airlifted some fighters from Syrian Democratic Forces, a multinational Kurdish-dominated group, in a bid to retake the Tabqa Dam from Islamic State. US forces also provided fire support.

Earlier Wednesday, US Senator John McCain, who heads the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the Kurdish issue was an "enormous challenge" for Washington in regard to its relations with Ankara.

Saying that the Trump administration is weighing the issue of providing the Kurdish fighters with heavy arms for the anti-IS offensive, the American official admitted the US faces "tough decisions," and should be careful not to cross its NATO ally.

"The conundrum is that if you don't use the Kurds, [the battle against IS] takes a lot longer... But if you do, you have an enormous challenge as far as relations with Turkey are concerned, including things like the use of Incirlik [military base]," McCain told reporters as cited by AFP. The Turkish air base of Incirlik is heavily used by NATO and the US-led coalition to fight Islamic State in the region.

Washington has been long involved in discussions with Ankara on how they "might contribute to the liberation of the city" of Raqqa, but apparently no agreement has yet been reached.

"We haven't come to an agreement about what that role will be or if there will be one, but we talk to Turkey through military channels and I believe at diplomatic levels every day. So, we'll have to let that continue to be worked out," a US Department of Defense spokesperson told the media.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 29, 2017, 09:45:38 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/382732-turkey-euphrates-shield-operation--syria-ends/ (https://www.rt.com/news/382732-turkey-euphrates-shield-operation--syria-ends/)
Turkey says 'Euphrates Shield' operation in Syria 'successfully completed'
29 Mar, 2017

The NSC meeting on Wednesday was attended by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

"It was noted that the Operation 'Euphrates Shield' which was started with the goal of ensuring national security, preventing the threat from Daesh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State) and return of Syrian refugees to their homes has successfully completed," the NSC said in a statement.

The conclusion of the Euphrates Shield operation was also confirmed by Turkey’s Prime Minister, Binali Yildirim.

The PM told the NTV broadcaster the operation had been successful and that further Turkish military actions would be conducted under a different name.

Turkey launched the Euphrates Shield operation on August 24, 2016, with the aim of clearing the border with Syria of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) forces — both classed as terrorist organizations by Ankara.

In the course of the operation Turkey has been supporting the Free Syrian Army (FSA) on the ground.

The Syrian government has criticized the presence of Turkish troops as an “act of aggression” and asked the UN Security Council to “force Turkey to withdraw its invasion forces.”

The official announcement of the conclusion of the Euphrates Shield operation came a day before the US Secretary of State visits Turkey.

Rex Tillerson is expected to meet with Erdogan and other Turkish officials in Ankara on Thursday, where he is expected to discuss the operation to retake the Islamic State capital of Raqqa and other issues regarding Syria.

Relations between Washington and Ankara have been strained recently over US support for the Syrian Kurds whom Donald Trump called the most effective forces against Islamic State.

Last week, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus reiterated that his country’s’ forces won’t take part in the battle for Raqqa if the Kurds are also involved.

The timing of the announcement sends “a very important message to the US,” Cengiz Tomar, professor of political history and international relations at Marmara University, told RT.

“Turkey for a long time has been waiting for the American decision related to the Raqqa offensive,” he said, adding that by this move, Ankara “persuades them to go to Raaqa with the Turks” ahead of Tillerson’s visit.

According to Tomar, “Turkey is in a very difficult situation in Syria” now because it hasn’t yet completed all its objectives regarding the Kurds, but it can’t act in the country on its own due to the presence of the Russian and US militaries there.

Huseyin Bagci, from the Middle East Technical University, believes the Turkish decision to end the current military operation was “wise” because American and the Russian forces are now “defining” the war discourse in Syria, leaving Ankara out of any meaningful military engagement.

“Turkey is out of the game at the moment. And the visit of Tillerson will show that the Kurds will be the local forces helping the Americans and Russians,” Bagci told RT, adding that Turkey won’t engage as long as the Kurds remain part of that equation. “Turkey is not looking for anything now in the fight against ISIS, under these conditions.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on March 30, 2017, 12:02:49 AM
According to Tomar, “Turkey is in a very difficult situation in Syria” now because it hasn’t yet completed all its objectives regarding the Kurds, but it can’t act in the country on its own due to the presence of the Russian and US militaries there.

What precisely IS the objective of the Turks WRT the Kurds besides wiping them off the face of the earth? ???  :icon_scratch:

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 30, 2017, 01:29:02 AM
Wiping them off the face of the earth just about covers it. 

The Kurds in south-east Turkey really are terrorists, but some live all across Turkey.

They are closely supported by the Kurds in Iraq, where they have some autonomy, and want more.  They sell "their" oil to Turkey and don't pass the money on to Baghdad like they should.  The Kurds in Iraq also run oil smuggling routes into Iran, and during the Iran-Iraq war were on Iran's side. 

I expect they do the same smuggling across the Turkey-Iran border. 

The Kurds in Syria had an agreement with Damascus at one stage during the regime-change, and perhaps their own smuggling routes into Turkey.

Probably there are Kurds in Armenia too, doing the same thing.  Turkey should give up that south-east corner and have done with it.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on March 30, 2017, 02:11:01 AM
Wiping them off the face of the earth just about covers it.

(https://cdn.meme.am/instances/500x/58613971/rodney-king-peacemaker-cant-we-all-just-get-along.jpg)

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 30, 2017, 03:18:32 PM
Kerry said this before, and now Tillerson confirms it on behalf of the Trump administration.  Presumably that's what Turkey's announcement means as well.  Saudi Arabia probably won't say anything publicly.  When ISIS is finally destroyed and peace is declared, Syria will be left a broken and divided state, and Russia-China-Iran will have to pick up the pieces.

https://www.rt.com/usa/382869-un-haley-assad-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/382869-un-haley-assad-syria/)
’Assad must go’ no more: US gov’t shifts priorities in Syria
30 Mar, 2017

Washington’s priorities in Syria have changed with the new administration, and the US will no longer focus on the removal of President Bashar Assad as a condition for ending the six-year civil war, a top official said.

"Our priority is no longer to sit there and focus on getting Assad out," Ambassador Nikki Haley told a small group of reporters on Thursday.

"Our priority is to really look at how do we get things done, who do we need to work with to really make a difference for the people in Syria."

Earlier in the day, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the future of President Assad “will be decided by the Syrian people.”

Tillerson was in Ankara meeting with his Turkish colleague Mevlut Cavusoglu. Some of their discussion involved Turkey’s support for the US-led coalition against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

Since 2011, when the conflict in Syria began, Washington has insisted that “Assad must go” as the only acceptable solution for peace in the country.

The US has provided weapons and training to what it called “moderate rebels” in Syria, ostensibly so they could fight IS rather than the government.

Leaving the State Department in January, now former Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that the Obama administration planned to oust Assad’s government by supporting the rebels, but “that whole ball game changed” when Russia intervened in September 2015.

Turkey also intervened in Syria, launching Operation "Euphrates Shield” in August 2016. Ankara officially announced the operation’s end on Wednesday, but did not say if and when the Turkish army will withdraw from the zone it occupied in northern Syria.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on March 30, 2017, 03:54:18 PM
When ISIS is finally destroyed and peace is declared, Syria will be left a broken and divided state, and Russia-China-Iran will have to pick up the pieces.

Somehow, I doubt the R-C-I will do Maid Service.  ::)

There will be peace in Syria though eventually.  Everyone will be dead.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 03, 2017, 05:18:41 PM
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/383291-syria-kurdish-balkanization-us-forces/ (https://www.rt.com/op-edge/383291-syria-kurdish-balkanization-us-forces/)
US to balkanize Syria under Kurdish pretext
Marwa Osman
Ms. Marwa Osman. PhD Candidate located in Beirut, Lebanon. University Lecturer at the Lebanese International University and Maaref University. Political writer/commentator on Middle East issues with many international and regional media outlets.
3 Apr, 2017

As early as 2013, Western powers have been rooting for the balkanization of Syria as the best possible outcome of the war tearing apart the country since 2011.

Since the war against Syria is significant in this period of imperialism, watching how it was led by the US, imperialist proxies and their so-called allies, one can fully understand that the war against the Syrian Arab Republic has been decades in the making.

Throughout history, the imperialist powers have been facilitating and empowering the most intolerant, bigoted ideologies and groups in the region starting from the Balfour Declaration, passing through the infamous Sykes-Picot agreement and ending in the invasions of Iraq and Libya before making their way into Syria. The latest group to gain the full support of the US on the ground in Syria is the Syrian Kurdish YPG forces (People's Protection Units).

The US threw its lot in with the Kurds in Iraq at first as it supposedly tried to find partners who reportedly pose a credible threat to ISIS. Thus, their pick of the Peshmerga Kurdish group came as a result of mutual interest in the region. The Kurds wanted to establish their own autonomous state in the region and the US wanted to reenter Iraq under the pretext of helping the Kurds fight ISIS.

Kurdish Political Ambitions

The first direct coordination between US forces and Kurdish groups was between October 2014 and January 2015 in the battle of Kobani, inside Syria, where Kurdish forces reached out to the Americans after ISIS forces surrounded them. The US then hit the terrorist group’s targets in the area with airstrikes, while the Kurdish forces on the ground assaulted ISIS positions that ended up inflicting heavy losses on the terrorists and drove them out of the area.

This battle represented a historic opportunity for both political wings of the Kurdish movement, the Iraqi Peshmerga and the Syrian PYD (The Democratic Union Party) to realize their dream of independence. The PYD’s armed forces known as the YPG (People's Protection Units), which has a fighting force of 50,000 fighters, became determined to take control of the vast majority of Syria's border with Turkey fully backed by US airpower.

The PYD then stated that its priority focused on uniting traditional Kurdish areas of Syria (known as Rojava), extending from Afrin to the Tigris river into one attached land mass.

That statement took me back to the words of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in 2013 when he commented on the Syrian situation, expressing his preference for a broken-up and balkanized Syria to emerge out of the current so-called “Assad-controlled unity.” The man said he supports the partitioning of a unified state.
Oldest plan in the book: Balkanize Syria

The US’s vision of the future Syrian map was detailed by Kissinger during a presentation at the Ford School Syria with pretty much a distorted history lesson. He stated that Syria was not a historic state “It was created in its present shape in 1920, and it was given that shape to facilitate the control of the country by France, which happened to be after a UN mandate,” he said.

Kissinger then claimed that the current Syria was conceived as a more or less artificial national unity consisting of different tribes and ethnic groups.

This same theory was also presented by the Israeli Oded Yinon plan which is an article published in February 1982 in the Hebrew journal Kivunim ("Directions") entitled A Strategy for Israel in the 1980s. This plan is an early example of characterizing political projects in the Middle East in terms of a logic of sectarian divisions and the dissolution of all the existing Arab states.

Hence, supporting the partitioning of Syria began with the US and Israel’s full support of the so- called “Rojava Project”.

US helping Kurds put plan into effect

The US’ support for the YPG has gained public sympathy in the West viewing the Kurds as the most forward-thinking “rebel” group in the battle against extremism. The same cannot be said for the countless factions receiving aid from regional backers, many of which have cooperated with Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, Nusra Front (Ahrar Al Sham).

However, you would have thought that the PYD's connections to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) - a US, EU, and Turkey-designated terror group - are problematic. Despite this fact, the US appears to be committed to maintaining its air support for the Syrian Kurds, both near the Euphrates in the west and the outskirts of Raqqa in the south.

Thus since the US favors the balkanization of Syria, it is now working openly to empower Syrian and Iraqi Kurds. So by choosing sides, the US may be signaling that it is preparing for all contingencies, including the fracturing of Syria and the complete collapse of the state in Raqqa.

During the past couple of weeks, Raqqa, ISIS's main urban base of operations in Syria, is the focus of an ongoing campaign by the newly formed US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF is a coalition of Kurdish (YPG), Sunni Arab (FSA-Free Syrian Army) and Syriac Christian fighters, but is completely dominated by its Kurdish element (YPG).

The main Syrian Kurdish militia, the YPG, already controls swathes of northern Syria as well, where Kurdish groups and their allies are working to establish a decentralized system of government in areas captured from ISIS. This political project is causing deep alarm in Damascus, which sees the YPG and its political affiliate, the PYD, as a potential threat with their current loud and clear alliance with the US.

According to Reuters, Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish PYD party, stated that the northern Syrian city of Raqqa is expected to join a decentralized system of government being set up by Syrian Kurdish groups and their allies once it is freed from ISIS.

As per these comments, I spoke with Fares Shehabi, a member of the Syrian Parliament for Aleppo and Chairman of the Syrian Federation of Industry who firmly guaranteed that “the statement of Saleh Muslim is irresponsible since the Syrian government will not recognize any presence in Raqqa or any other province other than the legitimate Syrian state represented by the Syrian Arab Army.”

As I spoke with Mr. Shehabi, a heavy US-backed operation near Raqqa was blocking any advance by the Syrian Arab Army from the west in preparation for the balkanization process. Thus I asked Mr. Shehabi where the Syrian government stands from this process as seemingly the Kurdish forces are fully under the control of the US. The Syrian MP responded resolutely that “no balkanization of Syria will be allowed” stating that “the Kurdish Forces do not have the field power to enter or stay in Raqqa because that would cause an unwanted and unrealistic change in the fabric of the city.” Mr. Shehabi then explained that any sort of a Kurdish uncalculated incursion whether from YPG or SDF on the city of Raqqa would backfire since their move will not be accepted or tolerated in the city.

In March, the SDF announced it had captured the Tabqa air base, 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Raqqa, with direct US substantial air and ground support provided.

The Telegraph reported on that mission that five helicopters, supported by five fighter jets, dropped dozens of SDF fighters near the northern town of Shurfa without stating whether or not US soldiers accompanied them.

Meanwhile, the Syrian Arab Army’s main ally Russia has always been aware of US plans to pull Raqqa into a “decentralized” government, which would be the first step toward balkanizing Syria. As early as October of 2014, Sputnik reported:

The Pentagon’s reliance on Kurds to liberate Raqqa may indicate that the US is actually ready to support the federalization of Syria, said Alexander Babakov, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the upper house of the Russian parliament.

“It would be hard to imagine that American plans on Raqqa are aimed only to bring peace to Syria. It cannot be ruled out by using Kurds to liberate the city from Daesh the US wants to support the federalization of Syria, including establishing an autonomous Kurdish region,” Babakov told the Russian newspaper Izvestia.

Therefore, since the United States and Israel have never denied their aspiration to see Syria divided up into small, vulnerable and easily manipulated territories, and since the Kurds have provided the US and Israel with the pretext to do so, it remains to be seen how the Syrian government and its allies will respond. Now that a foreign army and its proxies are blocking the Syrian Army from liberating its own country from terrorists, we wait to see if balkanization is next.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 04, 2017, 07:25:38 AM
So Tillerson didn't manage to bring about a rapprochement with Turkey.  That must have been an awkward meeting.

https://www.rt.com/news/383438-erdogan-euphrates-shield-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/news/383438-erdogan-euphrates-shield-syria/)
Erdogan vows ‘good surprises’ & more Turkish ops in Syria as Euphrates Shield ‘ends’
4 Apr, 2017

Days after Turkey said it had ended the controversial seven-month Euphrates Shield operation in northern Syria, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced the military is planning new offensives and “good surprises” in the coming months on Syrian soil.

The president said more cross-border operations are likely to follow against militant groups Ankara deems terrorist, including Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Kurdish militia known as People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“We have completed the first phase of the Euphrates Shield Operation with the cleaning of al-Bab, Syria, from terrorists. It is now over and there will be [operations] from now on,” Erdogan said, as cited by Hurriyet.

At this stage, the Turkish military is planning new offensives in other parts of Syria, Erdogan said. He added Ankara has “very good surprises for all terrorist groups, including the PKK, YPG, Daesh [Arabic acronym for Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL] and FETO [Gulenist organization].”

“With God’s will, the upcoming months will be the dead of winter for terrorists, while it will be spring for Turkey and the Turkish nation,” he proclaimed. Erdogan did not specify where and when the new military operations would take place.

Previously, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Euphrates Shield has been a success, but signaled the new operations would follow under a “different name.”

“In case our security is threatened or if action is needed against Daesh, then it will come as part of a new operation. That means the Euphrates Shield is over and any potential actions, if necessary, will be named differently,” Yildirim told broadcaster NTV last Wednesday.

On August 24, 2016, the Turkish military ordered troops, tanks and combat aircraft planes to cross the Syrian border – first to suppress Kurdish insurgency and move it away from the entire border, and then to combat IS militants in northern Syria.

In recent months, the Turkish Army and Ankara-backed Syrian rebels have seized the strategic towns of Jarablus and al-Bab, advancing into one of the most tumultuous battlefields of the Syrian civil war. Turkish troops and their rebel allies, US Special Forces and the Syrian Army were all present near al-Bab, risking uncontrolled military confrontation.

The US has long been concerned about the Turkish invasion of Syria, while Germany – a NATO ally – maintained that a lasting Turkish presence in the war-ravaged country is undesirable. However, as Washington prepares to retake Raqqa – IS’s bastion in Syria – the US and Turkey are now trying to find common language.

Last Thursday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Turkey to discuss the upcoming Raqqa offensive. Ankara wants the US to back Turkey’s military and allied Syrian rebels, but the US has long been arming Syrian Kurdish fighters.

“Let me be very frank: these are not easy decisions,” Tillerson said in Ankara. “They are difficult decisions that have to be made.”

Damascus says it views all foreign troops entering Syria without government authorization as “invaders.” Speaking to Chinese television in early March, President Bashar Assad stressed Damascus had never “opened doors” to the US or Turkish troops; he also cast doubt that the Americans would succeed in combatting IS.

“What are they [foreign troops] going to do? To fight ISIS? The Americans lost nearly every war. They lost in Iraq – they had to withdraw at the end. Even in Somalia, let alone Vietnam in the past and Afghanistan,” Assad said. https://www.rt.com/news/380256-assad-foreign-troops-invaders/ (https://www.rt.com/news/380256-assad-foreign-troops-invaders/)
Title: U.S Launches Air Strikes Against Assad Regime In Syria (RT Video)
Post by: RE on April 07, 2017, 12:46:54 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/g2k5nxnTGhc
Title: Syria Chemical Weapons Red Flags and False Flags
Post by: RE on April 07, 2017, 01:38:34 AM
http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-chemical-weapons-red-flags-and-false-flags/5583616 (http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-chemical-weapons-red-flags-and-false-flags/5583616)

Syria Chemical Weapons Red Flags and False Flags
By Mark Taliano
Global Research, April 06, 2017
Region: Middle East & North Africa
Theme: Militarization and WMD, Terrorism, US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: SYRIA: NATO'S NEXT WAR?

(http://www.globalresearch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/syria-sarin-weapon-400x233.jpg)
There are too many red flags about the chemical weapons attack in northern Syria to believe the official version of events that immediately assigned guilt to the Assad government.

Each of the red flags, on the other hand, strongly suggests that the incident was (yet another) false flag operation perpetrated by the terrorists with a view to destroying the peace process and prolonging the war.

A key consideration would be Cui bono?

Does the Assad government benefit from a chemical weapons attack on innocent people when he is winning the war and a just peace is on the horizon? No. The Assad government in no way benefits.

Do imperial terrorist proxies benefit from demonizing Assad and hastily accusing him of “killing his own people”? Yes they do.

Was there foreknowledge of the event? Apparently so.

Reporter Feras Karam announced before the event, that it was going to occur.

(http://www.globalresearch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Feras-Karam-Tweet.png)

And what about the chemical agent itself? The hasty conclusion that the gas was sarin is unreasonable, not only because the conclusion was reached almost immediately, but also because videos of the alleged victims contradict symptoms that would normally be associated with sarin gas exposure.

(http://www.globalresearch.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Chemical-Weapons-Expert-Damian-Walker-300x275.jpg)
In an interview conducted on April 5, 2017, Damian Walker, a former army bomb disposal officer, made these observations:

    When I initially read that sarin nerve agent had been used in an attack on Idlib, I was surprised that the chemical warfare agent had been identified so quickly.

    On watching the video of the incident, I quickly concluded that it was unlikely a sarin attack. If it was the first responders would also have been killed, and the victims’ symptoms appeared to be the result of a “choking agent”, and not a military grade agent.

At the very least, the totality of these red flags demands an independent investigation, which would likely take weeks, rather than hours. Failing this, the reasonable conclusion would be that the incident was a false flag event.

In matters of war and peace, thorough investigations should be a matter of importance and priority, but accusations are already infesting mainstream media narratives, so the more likely outcome is that the incident will be used to falsely blame the Assad government, with a view to prolonging the war, and destroying Syria and her people.
Title: Forecasting Escalation Scenario Of Conflict In Syria
Post by: RE on April 07, 2017, 11:53:57 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/jlWfoOdifOw
Title: Conflict In Syria - US can't aim for shit !
Post by: azozeo on April 07, 2017, 01:50:47 PM
http://www.youtube.com/v/jlWfoOdifOw

http://www.youtube.com/v/xIB186gutnw&fs=1
Title: The Impending Clash Between the U.S. and Russia
Post by: RE on April 07, 2017, 03:56:21 PM
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/07/the-impending-clash-between-the-u-s-and-russia/ (http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/07/the-impending-clash-between-the-u-s-and-russia/)

April 7, 2017
The Impending Clash Between the U.S. and Russia

by Mike Whitney

(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/D9zBtqN9t6M/maxresdefault.jpg)

President Donald Trump’s missile attack on the Shayrat Airfield in Western Syria was a poorly planned display of imperial muscle-flexing that had the exact opposite effect of what was intended. While the attack undoubtedly lifted the morale of the jihadists who have been rampaging across the country for the last six years, it had no military or strategic value at all. The damage to the airfield was very slight and there is no reason to believe it will impact the Syrian Army’s progress on the ground.

The attack did however kill four Syrian servicemen which means the US troops in Syria can no longer be considered part of an international coalition fighting terrorism. The US is now a hostile force that represents an existential threat to the sovereign government.

Is that the change that Trump wanted?

As of Friday, Russia has frozen all military cooperation with the United States.  According to the New York Times:

    “In addition to suspending the pact to coordinate air operations over Syria, an accord that was meant to prevent accidental encounters between the two militaries, Russia also said it would bolster Syria’s air defense systems and reportedly planned to send a frigate into the Mediterranean Sea to visit the logistics base at the Syrian port of Tartus….

    Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, said that the cruise missile strikes on Friday represented a “significant blow” to American-Russian ties, and that Mr. Putin considered the attack a breach of international law that had been made under a false pretext. “The Syrian Army has no chemical weapons at its disposal,” Mr. Peskov said.” (New York Times)

The missile attack has ended all talk of “normalizing” relations with Russia. For whatever the reason, Trump has decided that identifying himself and the United States as an enemy of Moscow and Damascus is the way he wants to conduct business. That, of course, is the President’s prerogative, but it would be foolish not to think there will be consequences.

Russia’s Minister of Defense Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov issued a statement saying:

    “All the accusations against Damascus that it violated the Chemical Weapons Convention of 2013 given by the USA as reasons for the strike are groundless. The Russian Defence Ministry has repeatedly explained that the Syrian troops had not used chemical weapons….

    It is to be stressed that in the years 2013-2016 the Syrian government undertook all measures to eliminate chemical weapons, its delivery systems, production facilities. All chemical weapons stocks have been eliminated. The components for their production have been transported from the Syrian Arab Republic to the enterprises of the United States, Finland, Great Britain, and Germany where they have been destroyed.”

This is a hotly contested issue and one that requires greater clarification. The rational approach would be for the UN to send a team of chemical weapons and forensic experts to the site of the bombing to try to figure out what really happened.  Trump decided he couldn’t be bothered with such trivialities as a formal investigation. He was more interested in projecting the image of a strong and decisive leader which is why he decided to shoot first and ask questions later. His action was applauded by leaders around the world including Angela Merkel,  François Hollande,  Recep Erdogan of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel none of who believe that the United States should have to get the nod from the UN Security Council before bombing a sovereign country.

I don’t know who is responsible for the chemical attack at Khan Shaikhoun, but there is an interesting interview on Thursday’s Scott Horton show that suggests that things may not be what they seem. In a 14 minute interview,  former CIA officer and Director of the Council for the National Interest, Philip Giraldi, explains what’s happening behind the scenes in the Middle East where “military and intelligence personnel,” “intimately familiar” with the intelligence, say that the narrative that Assad or Russia did it is a “sham.”

I have transcribed a 5 minute segment of the interview here– not because it provides conclusive evidence one way or the other— but because curious readers will find it intriguing. (Any mistakes in the transcript are mine.)

    Philip Giraldi– I am hearing from sources on the ground, in the Middle East, the people who are intimately familiar with the intelligence available are saying that the essential narrative we are all hearing about the Syrian government or the Russians using chemical weapons on innocent civilians is a sham. The intelligence confirms pretty much the account the Russians have been giving since last night which is that they hit a warehouse where al Qaida rebels were storing chemicals of their own and it basically caused an explosion that resulted in the casualties. Apparently the intelligence on this is very clear, and people both in the Agency and in the military who are aware of the intelligence are freaking out about this because essentially Trump completely misrepresented what he should already have known — but maybe didn’t–and they’re afraid this is moving towards a situation that could easily turn into an armed conflict.

    Scott Horton– Tell me everything you can about your sources or how you are learning about this?

    Philip Giraldi– Okay. These are essentially sources that are right on top of the issue right in the Middle East. They’re people who are stationed there with the military and the Intelligence agencies that are aware and have seen the intelligence And, as I say, they are coming back to contacts over here in the US essentially that they astonished at how this is being played by the administration and by the media and in some cases people are considering going public to stop it. They’re that concerned about it, that upset by what’s going on.

    Scott Horton– So current CIA officers are thinking about going public right now?

    Philip Giraldi– They are, because they’re that concerned about the way this thing is moving. They are military and intelligence personnel who are stationed in the Middle East and are active duty and they are seeing the intelligence the US government has in its hands about what happened in Syria,  and the intelligence indicates that it was not an attack by the Syrian government using chemical weapons… There was an attack but it was with conventional weapons–a bomb– and the bomb ignited the chemicals that were already in place that had been put in there by the terrorist group affiliated with al Qaida.

    Scott Horton– You say this thing is moving really fast. How fast is this thing moving?

    Philip Giraldi– It’s moving really fast. Apparently the concern among the people who are active duty personnel is that the White House is anticipating doing something to take steps against the Syrian government What that might consist of nobody knows. But Trump was sending a fairly clear signal yesterday and so was our ambassador to the UN. about the heinousness of this act. Trump talked about crossing numerous “red lines” and they are essentially fearful that this is going to escalate . Now bear in mind, Assad had no motive for doing this. If anything, he had a negative motive. The Trump said there was no longer any reason to remove him from office, well, this was a big win for him. To turn around and use chemical weapons 48 hours later, does not fit ant reasonable scenario, although I’ve seen some floated out there,  but they are quite ridiculous.” (The Scott Horton Show)

I think you’ll find that listening to the whole show is worth the time.

Giraldi’s observations are persuasive but not conclusive. There needs to be an investigation, that much is certain. (The show was taped before the missile attack, which does show that Giraldi was right about “how fast” things were moving.)

Media analysts appear to be surprised that Russia hasn’t responded militarily to Thursday’s attack. Some even see it as a sign of weakness. But Moscow’s approach to Washington’s impulsiveness has been fairly consistent for the last decade or so. With as little fanfare as possible, Moscow goes about its business and works discreetly to protect its interests. Unlike Trump, Putin is not a man who likes to attract a lot of attention to himself. He likes to operate off the radar. Even so, Russia has a coherent policy in Syria (fighting terrorism and preserving the sovereign government) and it’s not going to veer from that policy.  Most Americans don’t seem to understand that. Russia’s not going to budge, which is why the Kremlin cut off cooperation with Washington, shored up its missile defenses in Syria, and moved a frigate to the Mediterranean. Moscow does not want a broader conflict, but it will be prepared if one breaks out.

The Russians are concerned about Trump’s sudden escalation, but they’re not surprised.  They have spotted a pattern in US war-making and they’re able to comment on it quite calmly despite its terrible implications. Here’ more from the Russian Minister of Defense:

    “The US administrations have changed but the methods for unleashing wars have remained the same since bombardments of Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya. Allegations, falsifications, grandstand playing with photos and test-tubes with pseudo results in international organizations became the reason for  initiating aggression  instead of an objective investigation.”

Lie, bomb, kill, repeat. Konashenkov doesn’t sound surprised at all, does he? It’s a pattern, a deadly, frightening pattern. The only thing that changes is the names of the victims.

And here’s another thing readers might find interesting: The Russians have an impressive grasp of Washington’s global strategy, in fact, their analysis is vastly superior to anything you’ll read in either the western journals or the establishment media.  Here’s a short clip from a recent speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov:

    “The concept of managed chaos appeared long ago as a method of strengthening US influence. Its basic premise is that managed chaos projects should be launched away from the United States in regions that are crucial for global economic and financial development. The Middle East has always been in the focus of politicians and foreign policy engineers in Washington. Practice has shown that this concept is dangerous and destructive, in particular for the countries where the experiment was launched, namely Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan…In Iraq, Syria and Libya, this chaos was created intentionally.

    …Responsible politicians have come to see that the managed chaos theory is destroying life in many regions. Some parties can benefit in the short term from fluctuations on the raw materials markets provoked by the revolutions orchestrated by external forces, but this theory ultimately backfires at its engineers and executors in the form of massive migration inflows, which terrorists use to enter these countries. We can see this in Europe. Terrorist attacks have been staged even in the United States. The Atlantic Ocean has not protected it from the terrorist threat. This is the boomerang effect.” (Lavrov)

“Managed chaos”. Brilliant. That’s Washington’s foreign policy in a nutshell. That’s why there’s been no effort to create strong, stable, secular governments that can provide security for their people in any of the countries the US has destroyed in the last 16 years, because this long string of failed states that now stretches from North Africa, through the Middle East and into Central Asia (The ‘arc of instability’)  create a permanent justification for US military intervention as well as strategic access to vital resources. So why waste money and time on nation building when nation building runs counter to Washington’s strategic objectives? Instead, decimate the nation state wherever you go, and leave the people to scratch out a miserable hardscrabble existence for themselves while fending off the relentless violence and persecution of tribal elders or local warlords.

Is that a fair assessment of US foreign policy?

Indeed, it is. And the Russian leadership understands the far-reaching implications of that policy. They know that Washington’s ambitions could result in a war between the two nuclear-armed adversaries. They fully understand that.

Even so, they’re not going to budge. They’re not going to let Syria become another Iraq. They’re not going to let that happen.

So, it’s all coming to a head. The unstoppable force is fast approaching the immovable object. There’s going to be a collision.
Join the debate on Facebook

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.
Title: Conflict In Syria
Post by: azozeo on April 07, 2017, 04:05:55 PM
Trump-ag-ged-on.....
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 07, 2017, 05:14:31 PM
Obviously it will need more time to prove it was real Sarin, but there is plenty of poor Sarin about in the hands of ISIS, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, and countless other rebel groups, some under US orders, some Turkey, some Saudi Arabia and some just doing their own thing.  If they decide for themselves, or get the nod from their sponsors, to use Sarin gas while the Syrian Government are on a bombing run, and have cameras there to record the whole thing, then Trump will be very outraged, and being the Man of Action that he is, rush to condemn Assad, without evidence, try for a UNSC resolution (no hope), and unilaterally bomb Assad's airfield, which is against International Law.  Congress is united in approval (1 against).  MSM is sure to applaud and not ask questions about international aggression.

Apparently the Russians were TOLD the attack was going to happen, and their objections were ignored.  In response, Russian-US cooperation was suspended.  (possibly later rescinded)

The only question is why 59 cruise missiles?  Did the generals sit around discussing how many were needed, and come up with the answer 59?  Or did they decide on a nice round 60 and one didn't work?

And I suppose another question is why didn't the Russians use their S-400s to shoot the Tomahawks down while still at sea?  That's quite a milder thing than shooting down enemy aircraft.
Title: Re: The Impending Clash Between the U.S. and Russia
Post by: Surly1 on April 07, 2017, 05:17:17 PM
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/07/the-impending-clash-between-the-u-s-and-russia/ (http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/07/the-impending-clash-between-the-u-s-and-russia/)

April 7, 2017
The Impending Clash Between the U.S. and Russia

by Mike Whitney

And here’s another thing readers might find interesting: The Russians have an impressive grasp of Washington’s global strategy, in fact, their analysis is vastly superior to anything you’ll read in either the western journals or the establishment media.  Here’s a short clip from a recent speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov:

    “The concept of managed chaos appeared long ago as a method of strengthening US influence. Its basic premise is that managed chaos projects should be launched away from the United States in regions that are crucial for global economic and financial development. The Middle East has always been in the focus of politicians and foreign policy engineers in Washington. Practice has shown that this concept is dangerous and destructive, in particular for the countries where the experiment was launched, namely Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Afghanistan…In Iraq, Syria and Libya, this chaos was created intentionally.

    …Responsible politicians have come to see that the managed chaos theory is destroying life in many regions. Some parties can benefit in the short term from fluctuations on the raw materials markets provoked by the revolutions orchestrated by external forces, but this theory ultimately backfires at its engineers and executors in the form of massive migration inflows, which terrorists use to enter these countries. We can see this in Europe. Terrorist attacks have been staged even in the United States. The Atlantic Ocean has not protected it from the terrorist threat. This is the boomerang effect.” (Lavrov)

“Managed chaos”. Brilliant. That’s Washington’s foreign policy in a nutshell. That’s why there’s been no effort to create strong, stable, secular governments that can provide security for their people in any of the countries the US has destroyed in the last 16 years, because this long string of failed states that now stretches from North Africa, through the Middle East and into Central Asia (The ‘arc of instability’)  create a permanent justification for US military intervention as well as strategic access to vital resources. So why waste money and time on nation building when nation building runs counter to Washington’s strategic objectives? Instead, decimate the nation state wherever you go, and leave the people to scratch out a miserable hardscrabble existence for themselves while fending off the relentless violence and persecution of tribal elders or local warlords.

So, it’s all coming to a head. The unstoppable force is fast approaching the immovable object. There’s going to be a collision.

Great article. Great find.

"Managed chaos" abroad. Creation of a "precariat" at home, and instability everywhere. See a trend?
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on April 07, 2017, 05:34:51 PM
The only question is why 59 cruise missiles?  Did the generals sit around discussing how many were needed, and come up with the answer 59?  Or did they decide on a nice round 60 and one didn't work?

Probably one never fired off.  Of the 59, less than half made it to the target according to the Ruskies, only around 23 hit. 36 went missing.

Quote
And I suppose another question is why didn't the Russians use their S-400s to shoot the Tomahawks down while still at sea?  That's quite a milder thing than shooting down enemy aircraft.

Why waste the S-400s?  The Ruskies had plenty of time to get any valuable hardware and any of their own personnel out of the area.  This gave them great opportunity to condemn the FSoA as an aggressor and gain political capital.  If they had shot down the missiles, that would have provoked a direct confrontation, which Vlad the Impaler doesn't want.

The FSoA just wasted $59M worth of semi-functional missiles to destroy a few cheap metal buildings which probably can be replaced for under $5M, and put some ruts in the runways, also easily patched in a few days.  A few Migs were supposedly destroyed, but they probably were out-dated and needed to be replaced anyhow.
Title: Syria: The Bombs and Rhetoric keep Escalating
Post by: RE on April 08, 2017, 06:37:41 AM
Something tells me this will not end well.

RE

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/08/middleeast/syria-strikes-russia-donald-trump/ (http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/08/middleeast/syria-strikes-russia-donald-trump/)

Syria strikes: Site of chemical attack hit again

(http://i2.cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/170408143812-admiral-grigorovich-russian-frigate-exlarge-169.jpg)

By Euan McKirdy, Laura Smith-Spark and Barbara Starr, CNN

Updated 9:13 AM ET, Sat April 8, 2017

US Ambassador to the UN and UN security council president, Nikki Haley listens during an United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria, at the UN headquarters in New York on April 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Haley: US was fully justified to strike Syria
Gen A.J. Tata syria airstrike_00000212.jpg
General: Airstrike was the right thing to do
More details emerge of Syria military strike
syria strike animation orig_00001406.jpg
US strike on Syria: An animated map
Syrians look down at a poster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) and his late father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad in Damascus, as they watch the tourist train pass following the re-opening ceremony of the rail route between two neighbourhoods in the Syrian capital, Raboeh and Dumar, on May 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
What is Bashar al-Assad's goal?
Senator Marco Rubio on New Day
Rubio: Syria strike was legal and right move
Trump Syria strike refugees newday_00000000.jpg
Will Trump now accept Syrian refugees?
MEDITERRANEAN SEA - APRIL 7: In this handout provided by the U.S. Navy,The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter fires a Tomahawk land attack missile on April 7, 2017 in the Mediterranean Sea. The USS Porter was one of two destroyers that fired a total of 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed scores of civilians this week. The attack was the first direct U.S. assault on Syria and the government of President Bashar al-Assad in the six-year war there. (Photo by Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)
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An S-300 PMU-1 anti-aircraft missile launches during a Greek army military exercise near Chania on the island of Crete on December 13, 2013. Greece is the first NATO country to try the Russian long-range missile system. AFP PHOTO / Costas Metaxakis (Photo credit should read Costas Metaxakis/AFP/Getty Images)
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US Ambassador to the UN and UN security council president, Nikki Haley listens during an United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria, at the UN headquarters in New York on April 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
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Syrians look down at a poster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (L) and his late father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad in Damascus, as they watch the tourist train pass following the re-opening ceremony of the rail route between two neighbourhoods in the Syrian capital, Raboeh and Dumar, on May 1, 2015. AFP PHOTO / LOUAI BESHARA (Photo credit should read LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)
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MEDITERRANEAN SEA - APRIL 7: In this handout provided by the U.S. Navy,The guided-missile destroyer USS Porter fires a Tomahawk land attack missile on April 7, 2017 in the Mediterranean Sea. The USS Porter was one of two destroyers that fired a total of 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield in retaliation for a chemical attack that killed scores of civilians this week. The attack was the first direct U.S. assault on Syria and the government of President Bashar al-Assad in the six-year war there. (Photo by Ford Williams/U.S. Navy via Getty Images)
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Sen. Ernst: This was a one-time attack
Lawmaker questions gas attack evidence
An S-300 PMU-1 anti-aircraft missile launches during a Greek army military exercise near Chania on the island of Crete on December 13, 2013. Greece is the first NATO country to try the Russian long-range missile system. AFP PHOTO / Costas Metaxakis (Photo credit should read Costas Metaxakis/AFP/Getty Images)
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hillary clinton syria missile strike plan trump sot_00000418.jpg
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US Ambassador to the UN and UN security council president, Nikki Haley listens during an United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria, at the UN headquarters in New York on April 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Haley: US was fully justified to strike Syria
Story highlights

    Russian warship en route to logistics depot in Syria
    US investigating whether Russia was complicit in last week's chemical attack on Syrian civilians

(CNN)[Breaking news update, published at 8:19 a.m. ET]
The Syrian city of Khan Sheikhoun -- the site of Tuesday's chemical attack -- was hit by airstrikes on Friday and Saturday, according to two activists in the city and regional activist groups.
At least one woman was killed and three other people injured in Saturday's strike, two activists in Khan Sheikhoun said.

It wasn't immediately clear who conducted Friday's and Saturday's strikes.
[Original story, published at 7:12 a.m. ET]
A Russian frigate armed with cruise missiles was heading to the Mediterranean in an apparent show of force a day after the first direct military strike by the US against the Syrian regime.
Russian state media reported that the frigate, the Admiral Grigorovich, would call at a logistics base at Tartus, Syria. Russia also pledged to help strengthen Syria's air defenses after the US strike on the Shayrat airbase in western Syria.
The White House late Friday refused to say whether strike was a one-off action or part of a new strategy designed to hobble the military capabilities of President Bashar al-Assad. Nor would it say whether the US believed Assad should step down after the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun that killed at least 80 people and injured dozens more on Tuesday.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was "disappointed" but "not surprised" by Russia's condemnation of the strike as a violation of international law.
Key developments

    Pentagon probes possible Russia involvement in chemical attack that prompted US strike.
    Up to 20 aircraft were reportedly destroyed in Friday's attack on the Shayrat base.
    US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to UN says US 'prepared to do more' in Syria.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin said US strike was an "act of aggression."

The Russian frigate, the Admiral Grigorovich. The ship, which is armed with cruise missiles, was reportedly entering the Mediterranean en route to a logistics site in Syria, Russian state media said.
The Russian frigate, the Admiral Grigorovich. The ship, which is armed with cruise missiles, was reportedly entering the Mediterranean en route to a logistics site in Syria, Russian state media said.
The state-run TASS news agency said the Russian frigate was heading for Syria after taking on supplies at the Black Sea port of Novorossi. Citing an unnamed military-diplomatic source, TASS said that its ongoing presence would depend on developments in the region but it was expected to remain in Syrian waters for more than a month.
The ship, equipped with state-of-the-art missiles, had been on exercises in the Black Sea.
"This is really just a show of force, flexing muscle, Russia doing what it can to remind everyone that for the last 18 months it has had quite a deployment in Syria and the region," CNN's senior international correspondent Paula Newton reported.
NATO called it one of the largest deployments from Russia in decades.
The White House refused to discuss next steps. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump would not "telegraph his next move." Speaking to reporters at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Spicer said the US missile attack was "very decisive, justified and proportional."
He declined to say whether Trump now believed Assad should relinquish power. "First and foremost the President believes that the Syrian government [and the] Assad regime should abide by the agreement they made not to use chemical weapons," Spicer said.
Tillerson said Russia had failed to honor an agreement to to guarantee the elimination of Syria's chemical weapons. "Clearly, Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on that commitment from 2013, he said. "So either Russia has been complicit or Russia has been simply incompetent in its ability to deliver on its end of that agreement."
Who's with the US on Syria strike and who isn't
Russia complicit?
US officials have said the Pentagon is looking for any evidence that the Russian government knew about or was complicit in Tuesday's chemical attack.
A US military official told CNN the Pentagon was examining specifically whether a Russian warplane had bombed a hospital in Khan Sheikhoun five hours after the initial chemical attack, with the aim of destroying evidence.
Why Syrian President would gas his own people

Why Syrian President would gas his own people 02:16
A US defense official said intelligence indicated that a Russian drone flew over the hospital that was treating victims of the chemical attack, prior to the site being later bombed.
When CNN asked about US allegations that Russia might have been complicit, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied via text message: "That is not true."
Trump said he ordered the airstrike on the Shayrat base because the US believed aircraft that carried out the chemical attack were launched from there.
Russian President Vladimir Putin denounced the US strike as "act of aggression" and said it violated international law.
Aftermath of US strike on Syria airbase

Aftermath of US strike on Syria airbase 01:04
Tillerson said that he was "disappointed" but "not surprised" by Russia's response.
Russian Senator Alexey Pushkov said that the disappointment was "mutual" and suggested that Tillerson's comments were made to gain "leverage" in upcoming US-Russia talks. Tillerson is due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow next week.
He said on Twitter that the "conditions for negotiations in Moscow were even worse than (former Secretary of State John) Kerry's times."
Critics: Trump's actions not America first

Critics: Trump's actions not America first 00:56
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned Friday that the United States "is prepared to do more" in response to Syria's use of chemical weapons and delivered a sharp rebuke to Russia for its support of the Syrian regime.
"Every time Assad has crossed the line of human decency, Russia has stood beside him," Haley told the council. Russia "bears considerable responsibility" for Assad's use of chemical weapons, she said.
The decision to strike the Shayrat airbase has "changed the whole situation on the ground," said CNN military analyst Rick Francona.
"The US and Russia were beginning to cooperate. There were low levels of cooperation ongoing already with ... additional cooperation in the north, going after ISIS and this was good, a very positive development.
"Now we see this changing because of this one airstrike."
Assad: 'Unjust assault'
Assad said the United States had carried out an "unjust and unabashed assault" against Syria which "shows nothing but short-sightedness, a narrowness of vision and a blindness to political and military realities."
What is Bashar al-Assad's goal?

What is Bashar al-Assad's goal? 01:17
He also said the attack had increased the regime's resolve to "crush" terrorists in Syria -- the term it uses for all opposition forces.
The operation "makes the United States of America a partner of ISIS, Nusra Front and other terrorist organizations who -- since the first day of this unjust war on Syria -- have been attacking Syrian army positions and Syrian military bases."
Maj. Issam al-Reis, spokesman for the opposition Free Syrian Army's Southern Front, welcomed the US action and called for "the destruction of all tools of murder that Bashar al Assad's regime uses."

CNN's Kareem Khadder and Schams Elwazer
Title: Re: Syria: The Bombs and Rhetoric keep Escalating
Post by: Surly1 on April 08, 2017, 07:28:24 AM
Something tells me this will not end well.

RE

http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/08/middleeast/syria-strikes-russia-donald-trump/ (http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/08/middleeast/syria-strikes-russia-donald-trump/)

Syria strikes: Site of chemical attack hit again

Consider this a companion piece.

Trump’s ‘Wag the Dog’ Moment
 (https://consortiumnews.com/2017/04/07/trumps-wag-the-dog-moment/)
President Trump earned neocon applause for his hasty decision to attack Syria and kill about a dozen Syrians, but his rash act has all the earmarks of a “wag the dog” moment, reports Robert Parry.

Trump's “wag the dog” strategy highlights his leadership on an international crisis to divert attention from domestic political problems. And gets neocon lapdogs like Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who have extolled the virtues of the missile strike, as did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

I remember how some people voted against HRC to avoid being pulled into a war in Syria. :P
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Surly1 on April 08, 2017, 07:37:50 AM
A recent tweet:

The fake show of force on a virtually deserted Air base avoided most of the runways. The airstrip is now back and functioning. #PutinsPuppet

(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C85Qe96VwAANM0-.jpg)
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: edpell on April 08, 2017, 11:41:03 AM
The "Arc of Instability" is also good population control.   
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 08, 2017, 03:39:23 PM
To shoot down sea-launched ground-hugging Tomahawk cruise missiles, it helps to be able to see them (with radar) from the moment of launch, when they take a higher trajectory.  The sea-based radars are integrated with the land-based radars, where the anti-cruise missile launchers are.  The frigate can, of course, take care of itself.

While this doesn't necessarily mean Russia is going to try to shoot down the Tomahawks, this is precisely what they would do if they were going to do it.  Typical Putin strategy, not making an aggressive move, but signaling a matching response to future US aggression.

If the Russians can indeed take out the majority of a volley of Tomahawks, that would force a recalibration of war-gaming parameters and alter Pentagon strategy.

Scary enough for you ?

https://www.rt.com/news/384022-russian-missile-frigate-mediterranean-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/news/384022-russian-missile-frigate-mediterranean-syria/)
Russian missile frigate returns to Mediterranean
8 Apr, 2017

(https://cdn.rt.com/files/2017.04/original/58e8b60bc46188ba3b8b459e.jpg)
© wikipedia.org

Russia’s Admiral Grigorovich cruise missile-armed frigate has joined the Russian fleet in the Mediterranean, following joint Russian-Turkish military exercises.

“Today the Black Sea frigate ‘Admiral Grigorovich,’ under the command of Captain 3rd-Class Anatoly Velichko has joined the Russian Black Sea Fleet in the Mediterranean Sea,” the Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

The Admiral Grigorovich took part in Russian-Turkish PASSEX military drills, and was a host vessel during the unofficial visit of the Turkish Naval Forces to Novorossiysk, Russia from April 3 to 5.

The move comes on the heels of the US bombardment of a Syrian air base with 59 Tomahawk missiles on Friday. There is, however, no official indication it is has been done in retaliation to the strike.

The vessel is one of the latest classes frigates at the Russian Navy’s disposal. It is armed with Kalibr-NK anti-ship and coastal missiles, Shtil-1 defensive missile system, a 100mm artillery cannon, anti-aircraft equipment, and torpedoes. The Admiral Grigorovich is also capable of carrying a Ka-27 or Ka-31 helicopter and can reach speeds of up to 30 knots (55kph).

In November 2016, the vessel, alongside the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, took part in a large-scale operation against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front in Syria, firing missiles at terrorist targets. The strikes killed at least 30 terrorists, including three field commanders.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Eddie on April 08, 2017, 03:44:44 PM
Scares me well enough, but not like these subs do.

http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/04/06/russia-bolsters-naval-arsenal-unveils-its-most-powerful-nuclear-sub-ever.html (http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/04/06/russia-bolsters-naval-arsenal-unveils-its-most-powerful-nuclear-sub-ever.html)
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 08, 2017, 03:57:55 PM
The UK more or less admits it isn't the foreign affairs power it once was - talking to Russia is unnecessary if they have just talked to the US, and we wouldn't want to send two different messages, would we?

https://www.rt.com/uk/384030-johnson-cancelled-visit-moscow-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/uk/384030-johnson-cancelled-visit-moscow-syria/)
UK Foreign Secretary Johnson canceled April 10 visit to Moscow due to events in Syria
8 Apr, 2017

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has canceled his planned trip to Moscow hours before he was supposed to depart, citing the recent events in Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman described the cancellation as “absurd.”

"Developments in Syria have changed the situation fundamentally," Johnson said in a statement.

The decision not to go to Russia was made after consulting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and instead Johnson will meet with his fellow G7 counterparts to talk about Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“I discussed these plans in detail with [US] Secretary Tillerson. He will visit Moscow as planned and, following the G7 meeting, will be able to deliver that clear and co-ordinated message to the Russians.”

"My priority is now to continue contact with the U.S. and others in the run-up to the G7 meeting on 10-11 April - to build coordinated international support for a ceasefire on the ground and an intensified political process."

Johnson was due to have a business lunch with Lavrov, and the two diplomats were later expected to hold a joint press conference on Monday. Johnson was also set to meet with Russian human rights activists and British business figures.

Johnson’s last-minute cancellation was described as “absurd” by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

“This cancellation immediately followed his postponement,” Zakharova said. “It seems that our Western colleagues live in their own kind of reality in which they first try to single-handedly make collective plans, then they single-handedly try to change them, coming up with absurd reasons.”

“Unfortunately, stability, and consistency have long stopped being the hallmark of Western foreign policy,” she added.

At least 70 people, including 11 children, were reportedly killed in a suspected chemical incident in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Iblib province, Syria on Tuesday. In response two days later, the US fired 59 cruise missiles at an airfield of the Syrian Army, claiming that it was used to conduct a chemical weapon attack. The US strike on Shayrat Airbase in Syria killed 14 people including nine civilians, the governor of Homs told RT on Friday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin “regards the strikes as aggression against a sovereign nation” and believes the strikes were carried out “in violation of international law, and also under an invented pretext.” The US has been ignoring the use of chemical weapons by terrorists and this is dramatically aggravating the situation, the spokesman added.

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Friday called Washington’s action “fully justified,” having alleged that the US strike “destroyed the airfield from which this week’s chemical strike took place.”

Haley also mentioned Iran and Russia as “guilty parties” who bear “considerable responsibility” in the Syrian crisis, and went on to say that Washington was “prepared to do more. "Every time Assad has crossed the line of human decency, Russia has stood beside him,” the ambassador claimed.

Russia’s representative at the UN Security Council, Vladimir Safronkov, said that Washington is “afraid” of a “real investigation” into the alleged chemical attack, and the US missile strike “only facilitated the strengthening of terrorism.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 08, 2017, 04:42:57 PM
This is why May didn't make Farage the US Ambassador - Farage has no appreciation of real politique, which mandates that we must ALWAYS agree with the US, especially when it breaks international law.

https://www.rt.com/uk/383866-farage-nuttall-trump-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/uk/383866-farage-nuttall-trump-syria/)
Nigel Farage turns on ally Donald Trump after US missile strike on Syria
7 Apr, 2017

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has criticized his ally US President Donald Trump for ordering a missile strike against an airbase in Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.

The MEP warned that many Trump voters will be confused by his retaliation.

“I am very surprised by this. I think a lot of Trump voters will be waking up this morning and scratching their heads and saying, ‘where will it all end?’” he said.

“As a firm Trump supporter, I say, yes, the pictures were horrible, but I’m surprised. Whatever Assad’s sins, he is secular.”

Farage also urged Britain not to get involved in any further airstrikes.

“Previous interventions in the Middle East have made things worse rather than better,” he said.

Farage’s comments mark a dramatic turnaround in a relationship that last year saw him dine with Trump and the president publicly urge Prime Minister Theresa May to make Farage the UK ambassador to Washington.

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has also condemned the Syria attack, saying it was “rash, trigger happy, nonsensical and will achieve nothing.”

“The whole world rightly condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but the US attack on the Assad regime does nothing to lower tensions, nor will it hasten peace in that country.

“Too often rash responses to horrific situations are about the conscience of the attacker, rather than a clear-headed response to an awful situation.

“There are currently no good options in Syria. Assad or ISIS [Islamic State/IS] is not a choice anyone would wish to make. But firing off missiles in an enraged response shows weakness not strength in the face of horror.

“I hoped for better from this administration.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Eddie on April 08, 2017, 05:04:51 PM
This is why May didn't make Farage the US Ambassador - Farage has no appreciation of real politique, which mandates that we must ALWAYS agree with the US, especially when it breaks international law.

https://www.rt.com/uk/383866-farage-nuttall-trump-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/uk/383866-farage-nuttall-trump-syria/)
Nigel Farage turns on ally Donald Trump after US missile strike on Syria
7 Apr, 2017

Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has criticized his ally US President Donald Trump for ordering a missile strike against an airbase in Syria in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack.

The MEP warned that many Trump voters will be confused by his retaliation.

“I am very surprised by this. I think a lot of Trump voters will be waking up this morning and scratching their heads and saying, ‘where will it all end?’” he said.

“As a firm Trump supporter, I say, yes, the pictures were horrible, but I’m surprised. Whatever Assad’s sins, he is secular.”

Farage also urged Britain not to get involved in any further airstrikes.

“Previous interventions in the Middle East have made things worse rather than better,” he said.

Farage’s comments mark a dramatic turnaround in a relationship that last year saw him dine with Trump and the president publicly urge Prime Minister Theresa May to make Farage the UK ambassador to Washington.

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall has also condemned the Syria attack, saying it was “rash, trigger happy, nonsensical and will achieve nothing.”

“The whole world rightly condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but the US attack on the Assad regime does nothing to lower tensions, nor will it hasten peace in that country.

“Too often rash responses to horrific situations are about the conscience of the attacker, rather than a clear-headed response to an awful situation.

“There are currently no good options in Syria. Assad or ISIS [Islamic State/IS] is not a choice anyone would wish to make. But firing off missiles in an enraged response shows weakness not strength in the face of horror.

“I hoped for better from this administration.”

Yeah, saw that. And all the alt-right talking heads here are apoplectic. I'm guessing Mr. Trump is gonna be a one-termer, unless nuclear armageddon makes it all moot.
Title: Syria - The Gang that Couldn't Shoot Straight
Post by: RE on April 08, 2017, 06:42:24 PM
Your Tax Dollars at work.

Of course, we haven't seen how well Vlad the Impaler's missiles will work in actual combat yet either.

RE

http://www.youtube.com/v/11FXElRSZ58
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on April 08, 2017, 06:46:17 PM

Yeah, saw that. And all the alt-right talking heads here are apoplectic. I'm guessing Mr. Trump is gonna be a one-termer, unless nuclear armageddon makes it all moot.

Resignation, Impeachment, Coup d'Etat and Assassination are all possible alternatives to an Early Exit besides Nuclear War.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Eddie on April 08, 2017, 06:52:44 PM
Coup d'Etat solves nothing. I'm okay with the others. Much preferable to nukes......but I kinda smell nukes. Nukes or biologicals. Did you know there used to be tons of weaponized smallpox virus in the Soviet Union, and nobody knows where it went? The best case is that the Russian military has it, and that's actually what I hope, because.....it really is the best case. The alternatives are even more frightening.

If any of you have not read about weaponized smallpox, you should.

Kim Young Fatty has sent missiles into space with payloads that look more like they were meant for biologicals than for nukes. Did you know that?
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 08, 2017, 07:13:02 PM
Quote
Kim Young Fatty has sent missiles into space with payloads that look more like they were meant for biologicals than for nukes.

Source?
AFAIK he has sent only one payload into space which was launched on a track that took it to the south of South America, crossing only ocean till reaching Africa-ME-Russia/China-NK.  The payload was said to be a camera for obtaining military information, which makes a lot of sense as SK already has one.  The NK one was pronounced blatant aggression of course.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Eddie on April 08, 2017, 07:26:53 PM
 I read it some time back, but it might be the one you mentioned. Let me see what I can find. It is bandied about in conspiracy theory circles that North Korea, China, Cuba, India, Iran, Israel, and Pakistan all have weaponized smallpox. The Soviets definitely had the motherlode, and it is speculated that it was once for sale to the highest bidder, like in 1990.

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 08, 2017, 07:47:22 PM
http://www.space.com/31860-north-korea-satellite-launch.html (http://www.space.com/31860-north-korea-satellite-launch.html)
North Korea has apparently launched a satellite to orbit, in a move that the United States and other nations quickly condemned as an attempt to further develop a prohibited long-range missile capability.

The liftoff occurred from the Sohae launch facility in western North Korea at 7:29 p.m. EST Saturday (Feb. 6; 0029 GMT and 8:59 a.m. local North Korean time on Sunday, Feb. 7), according to a media advisory from the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Eddie on April 08, 2017, 07:52:03 PM
No proof, but there has been a lot of speculation. I couldn't find the article I read before. I'm sure it was highly speculative. The North Koreans were probably just launching a satellite so Kim Young Fatty could get free Satellite Dish channels.


(from Wiki)

North Korea began to develop its own chemical industry and chemical weapon (CW) program in 1954, immediately following the end of the Korean War. However, substantial progress was not made until the 1960s, when Kim Il-sung "issued a 'Declaration for Chemicalization' whose aim was to further develop an independent chemical industry capable of supporting various sectors of its economy, as well as support chemical weapons production" and established the North Korea's Nuclear and Chemical Defense Bureau.[97]

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, North Korea received Soviet and Chinese aid in developing its chemical industry. In 1979, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency believed that North Korea "had only a defensive CW capability."[97] It is unclear when North Korea "acquired the capability for independent CW production"; estimates range from the 1970s to early 1980s.[97] However, "by the late 1980s, North Korea's CW capabilities had expanded; the South Korean Ministry of National Defense reported in 1987 that the North "possessed up to 250 metric tons of chemical weapons" including mustard (a blister agent) and some nerve agents.[97] In 2009 the International Crisis Group reported that the consensus expert view was that North Korea had a stockpile of about 2,500 to 5,000 metric tons of chemical weapons, including mustard gas, sarin (GB) and other nerve agents.[98] The South Korean Ministry of National Defense had the same estimate in 2010.[97][99] In 2014, the South Korean Defense Ministry estimated that "the North had stockpiled 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons and had a capacity to produce a variety of biological weapons."[100] In 2015, the U.S. Department of Defense reported to Congress that North Korea's CW program "likely possesses a CW stockpile" and likely had "the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood, and choking agents."[6] The report also found that "North Korea probably could employ CW agents by modifying a variety of conventional munitions, including artillery and ballistic missiles. In addition, North Korean forces are prepared to operate in a contaminated environment; they train regularly in chemical defense operations."[6] The report indicated that North Korea "continues to develop its biological research and development capabilities" and "may consider the use of biological weapons as an option, contrary to its obligations under the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention."[6]

(Here's a good one.)

NORTH KOREA
IN THIS SECTION:

OVERVIEW
ANALYSIS
TREATIES
OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS
FACILITIES
NUCLEAR
BIOLOGICAL
MISSILE
CHEMICAL
Chemical

Last Updated: December, 2015

North Korea claims that it does not possess chemical weapons (CW). While assessing CW stockpiles and capabilities are difficult, the DPRK is thought to be among the world's largest possessors of chemical weapons, ranking third after the United States and Russia. [1] In 2012, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) estimated that the DPRK possesses between 2,500 and 5,000 metric tons of chemical weapons. [2]

According to the South Korean MND, over 70% of North Korea's ground forces, supported by thousands of artillery systems, are deployed within 90 miles of the DMZ. [3] The U.S. Department of Defense has described this as an "offensively oriented posture." [4] South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo, reported in 2002 that chemical weapons were suspected to be among those deployed near the DMZ in forward units. [5] Chemical weapons could potentially be used in the early stages of an attack to debilitate key metropolitan areas in South Korea. [6]

North Korea remains one of six countries not to have signed or acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). North Korea has signed the Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of CW in warfare, but does not prevent a state from producing or possessing them. [7] The DPRK refused to acknowledge having chemical weapons as called for by UN Security Council Resolution 1718, which was passed in October 2006 following North Korea's underground nuclear test.

Capabilities

North Korea may possess between 2,500 and 5,000 tons of CW agents. [8] The South Korean government assesses that North Korea is able to produce most types of chemical weapons indigenously, although it must import some precursors to produce nerve agents, which it has done in the past. [9] At maximum capacity, North Korea is estimated to be capable of producing up to 12,000 tons of CW. Nerve agents such as Sarin and VX are thought be to be the focus of North Korean production. [10]

According to the government-sponsored Korea Research Institute of Chemical Technology [한국화학연구원] in South Korea, North Korea has four military bases equipped with chemical weapons, 11 facilities where chemical weapons are produced and stored, and 13 dedicated research and development facilities. [11] Two facilities near the cities of Kanggye and Sakchu are reportedly equipped to prepare and fill artillery shells with CW agents. These two locations also allegedly test agents, possibly in large underground facilities. [12] However, there has been no open source evidence of new storage facilities. [13]

North Korea's weak economy has resulted in severe shortages of both energy and raw materials, making estimating the country's CW production levels even more difficult. [14] It is possible that Pyongyang is allowing its existing CW cache to age due to these economic circumstances, which could make them unreliable on the battlefield — if usable at all. This may be particularly true of what is thought to be the majority of the DPRK's cache: unitary munitions which hold a single canister of lethal chemicals, rather than the more stable binary system, holding two or more stable chemicals which are combined at deployment. [15]

Nevertheless, North Korea has a considerable and capable, albeit aging, chemical industry able to produce dual-use chemicals such as phosphate, ammonium, fluoride, chloride, and sulfur. [16] In recent years, the DPRK has continued to acquire dual-use chemicals that could potentially be used in its CW program from abroad (China, Thailand, Malaysia). [17]

North Korea is believed to be capable of deploying its stockpile of chemical agents through a variety of means, including field artillery, multiple rocket launchers, FROG rockets, Scud and Nodong missiles, aircraft and unconventional means. [18] Additionally, U.S. military authorities believe there is long-range artillery deployed in the DMZ, along with ballistic missiles capable of delivering chemical warfare agents. [19]

History

In the aftermath of the Korean War and in light of the perceived nuclear threat from the United States, North Korea sought a less costly alternative to nuclear weapons. [20] An indigenous chemical industry and chemical weapons production in North Korea have their roots in the 'Three Year Economic Plan' that spanned the years from 1954 to 1956, the period immediately following the Korean War, and the first 'Five Year Plan' from 1957 to 1961. However, significant progress was not made until the first 'Seven Year Plan' (1961-67). [21] At that time, Kim Il Sung issued a "Declaration for Chemicalization" whose aim was to further develop an independent chemical industry capable of supporting various sectors of its economy, as well as support chemical weapons production. [22] The DPRK established the basic organization of the current Nuclear and Chemical Defense Bureau at this time. [23]

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the DPRK received assistance from both the Soviet Union and China in developing its nascent chemical industry. The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) estimated in May 1979 that the DPRK had only a defensive CW capability. [24] Estimates vary as to when North Korea is believed to have acquired the capability for independent CW production. Some sources suspect it was not until the early 1980s, and others speculate it was as early as the 1970s. [25] By the late 1980s, the DPRK was capable of producing substantial amounts of CW agents and deployed a large number of chemical weapons munitions. [26] In January 1987, the South Korean MND reported that the DPRK possessed up to 250 metric tons of chemical weapons, including Mustard (blister agent), and some nerve agents. [27] By 2010, the MND's estimate had climbed to 2,500 to 5,000 metric tons of chemical agents, including nerve agents. [28]

Scarcity Requires External Sources

During the 1990s, DPRK was forced to turn to foreign sources for precursors required in manufacturing nerve agents. In 1996, an employee of a Kobe, a Japan-based trading company, was caught trying to export 50 kg of sodium fluoride and 50 kg of hydrofluoric acid to North Korea via North Korean cargo vessels. Japanese authorities arrested the individual and charged him with illegally trading chemicals for weapons production, specifically, Sarin. [29]

It came to light in the fall of 2004 that China and Malaysia had exported to North Korea in the previous year without government approval, a considerable amount — more than 100 tons in one case - of sodium cyanide, a dual-use chemical that could be used to manufacture both hydrogen cyanide (blood agent) and Tabun (nerve agent). In the case of China, South Korea had originally exported the chemicals, which China then re-exported to North Korea. Another such attempt via Thailand was reportedly thwarted. [30]

North Korea and the Chemical Weapons Convention

Since 1997, the ROK government has been unsuccessful in convincing the DPRK to join the CWC. [31] The DPRK has also rebuffed similar efforts on the part of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Japanese government. [32] In theory, North Korea's accession to the CWC could convey long-term economic advantages for the DPRK through treaty-controlled chemical and technology trade. In the short term, however, North Korea is not likely to join the CWC regime. [33]

Allegations of Human Testing

Activists, North Korean defectors, and the South Korean government have reported charges of chemical weapons experimentation on humans. However, no publicly available evidence has substantiated the allegations. [34] In 1994, the South Korean National Unification Board reported to the National Assembly that Pyongyang was testing CW on its political prisoners. [35] In 2004, a BBC-produced documentary titled "Access to Evil" alleged that the DPRK had tested CW on its political prisoners. However, numerous discrepancies in the film questioned its veracity. [36] In response to the documentary, South Korea seemed to demur on its previous assertions. A spokeswoman for South Korea's Unification Ministry said, "We have no official comment on whether humans were used for tests...there are areas [of the documentary] that are not completely free of doubt." [37] Activists have asserted that the South was being diplomatic in order to avoid confrontation with the North. In 2013, Human Rights in North Korea, citing defector testimony, alleged that the DPRK was testing CW on political prisoners and disabled children at Detention Camp 22 (Hoeryong Concentration Camp) and an island off South Hamgyong Province. [38] In February 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council reported accounts of CW use on disabled persons; however it could not independently verify the accuracy. [39]

Recent Developments and Current Status

While there is no evidence that North Korea's CW program is growing, South Korea continues to take the threat seriously. A month after North Korea shelled Yeonpyeong Island, killing civilians with conventional munitions, the South Korean National Emergency Management Agency distributed 1,300 gas masks to residents of islands along the disputed western border, as well as an additional 610,000 to boost numbers amongst the 3.93 million civil defense corps members. The Agency also said it would renovate existing emergency shelters located at subway stations and underground parking lots to protect against chemical weapons. [40] These efforts seem to assuage fear more than anything else, as gas masks cannot protect against blister agents that affect the skin such as Mustard, Lewisite, and Phosgene oxime, which North Korea is believed to possess. In October 2013, the U.S. and South Korea agreed to build a joint surveillance system to detect biochemical agents along the demilitarized zone. This agreement will also enable information sharing on vaccines and diseases. [41]

North Korea may have contributed to Syria’s chemical weapons program. In 2009, Greece seized 14,000 chemical suits from a North Korean ship believed to have been bound for Syria. In April 2013, Turkish authorities seized small arms, ammunition, and gas masks from a ship flying under the Libyan flag. According to the captain of the ship, the cargo came from North Korea and was to be transported from Turkey to Syria over land. [42]

On February 13, 2017, Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of DPRK leader Kim Jong-un, was attacked from behind by two women at the Kuala Lumpur airport, who wiped his face with cloths. He died on the way to the hospital, after complaining of pain in his face and having a seizure [43]. Following an investigation, Malaysian authorities announced that Jong-nam had been killed using the chemical nerve agent VX. [44] Police hypothesize that each woman had a different compound of VX on their cloths, harmless individually but deadly when combined. [45] North Korea rejected claims that they were behind the assassination, instead citing the attack as a conspiracy between Malaysia and South Korea [46]. The attack is thought to be a signal of the range of North Korean WMD capabilities, especially as it occurred a day after the DPRK tested a new medium range ballistic missile. [47][48] In response, the Trump administration cancelled informal talks with DPRK officials that were scheduled to occur in early March. [48]


Sources:

[1] North Korean Security Challenges: A Net Assessment (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2011), p. 161.
[2] Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense, Defense White Paper, 2014.
[3] Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense, Defense White Paper, 2014.
[4] Department of Defense, "Proliferation: Threat and Response," Office of the Secretary of the Defense, January 2001, www.fas.org (http://www.fas.org).
[5] Lee Kyo-Gwan, "리포트 -화학무기 전방부대 배치 완료 [NK Report - North Korea Completes Chemical Weapons Deployment in Forward Units]," Chosun Ilbo, 5 November 2002, www.chosun.com (http://www.chosun.com).
[6] "북한, 화학무기 생산능력 1일 15.2t [North Korea capable of manufacturing 15.2 tons per day of chemical weapons]", Yonhap News, 16 August 1997, www.yonhap.news.co.kr (http://www.yonhap.news.co.kr).
[7] The other four countries who have not signed the CWC are: Angola, Egypt, Somalia and Syria; "Status of Participation in the Chemical Weapons Convention as at May 21 2009," Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons," www.opcw.org; (http://www.opcw.org;) "1925 Geneva Protocol (in alphabetical order)," United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs, http://unhq-appspub-01.un.org (http://unhq-appspub-01.un.org).
[8] Lee Yoon-Geol, "북한, 핵만큼 무서운 생화학무기 5천 t 보유 [North Korea has 5000 Tons of Chemical Weapons as Scary as Nuclear Weapons]," Sisa Journal, No 1121, 13 April 2011, www.sisapress.com; (http://www.sisapress.com;) Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense, Defense White Paper, 2014.
[9] "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons Programs," Asia Report No. 167, International Crisis Group, 18 June 2009, www.crisisgroup.org; (http://www.crisisgroup.org;) for further reading see: Eric Croddy, "Vinalon, the DPRK, and Chemical Weapons Precursors," NTI Issue Brief, February 2003, www.nti.org (http://www.nti.org).
[10] Lee Yoon-Geol, "북한, 핵만큼 무서운 생화학무기 5천 보유 [North Korea has 5,000 Tons of Chemical Weapons as Scary as Nuclear Weapons]," Sisa Journal, No. 1121, 13 April 2011, www.sisapress.com (http://www.sisapress.com).
[11] Kim Tae Hwan, "북한 생화학무기 시설 49곳, 화학무기만도 5천톤 보유 [North Korea has 5,000 Tons of Chemical Weapons and 49 CBW Facilities]," Newswire Korea, 17 October 2006, www.newswire.co.kr (http://www.newswire.co.kr).
[12] Joseph S. Bermudez. Jr., "Asia, Inside North Korea's CW Infrastructure," Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 August 1996.
[13] "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons Programs," Asia Report No. 167, International Crisis Group, 18 June 2009, www.crisisgroup.org (http://www.crisisgroup.org).
[14] Eric Croddy with Clarisa Perez-Armendariz and John Hart, Chemical and Biological Warfare : A Comprehensive Survey for the Concerned Citizen, (New York, NY; Springer-Verlag, 2002), p. 51; North Korean Security Challenges: A Net Assessment (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2011), pp. 161-162.
[15] "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons Programs," Asia Report No. 167, International Crisis Group, 18 June 2009, www.crisisgroup.org (http://www.crisisgroup.org).
[16] "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) Program," North Korea's Weapons Programs: A Net Assessment, The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 21 January 2004, p. 51, www.iiss.org (http://www.iiss.org).
[17] "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons Programs," Asia Report No. 167, International Crisis Group, 18 June 2009, www.crisisgroup.org (http://www.crisisgroup.org).
[18] Kwan Yang-Ju, "핵무기 못지않은 북한의 화학무기 폐기 방안 강구 긴요 [Strategy to Eliminate North Korea's Biological and Chemical Weapons Needed]," Northeast Asian Strategic Analysis, Korea Institute for Defense Analysis (KIDA), 7 October 2010; North Korean Security Challenges: A Net Assessment (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2011), p. 162.
[19] Department of Defense, "Proliferation: Threat and Response," Office of the Secretary of the Defense, January 2001.
[20] "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons Programs," Asia Report No. 167, International Crisis Group, 18 June 2009, www.crisisgroup.org (http://www.crisisgroup.org).
[21] Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Warfare Arsenal," Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 May 1993.
[22] Korea Institute for National Unification, "2009 북한개요 [2009 North Korea Summary]," 2009, p.109, www.kinu.or.kr; (http://www.kinu.or.kr;) "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons Programs," Asia Report No. 167, International Crisis Group, 18 June 2009, www.crisisgroup.org (http://www.crisisgroup.org).
[23] "미국의 북한 생화학무기 압박 전략 [U.S. Strategy of Pressure on North Korean Biological, Chemical Weapons]," Shindonga, Donga Ilbo Magazine, November 2004, shindonga.donga.com.
[24] Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Warfare Arsenal," Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 May 1993.
[25] Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Warfare Arsenal," Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 May 1993; "North Korea's Chemical and Biological Weapons Programs," Asia Report No. 167, International Crisis Group, 18 June 2009; Lee Yoon-Geol, "북한, 핵만큼 무서운 생화학무기 5천 보유 [North Korea has 5,000 Tons of Chemical Weapons as Scary as Nuclear Weapons]," Sisa Journal, No. 1121, 13 April 2011, www.sisapress.com; (http://www.sisapress.com;) "북한 생화학무기 대량생산 [North Korea Mass Producing Biological and Chemical Weapons]," Yonhap News Agency, 23 October 1992, www.yonhap.news.co.kr (http://www.yonhap.news.co.kr).
[26] Eric Croddy with Clarisa Perez-Armendariz and John Hart, Chemical and Biological Warfare : A Comprehensive Survey for the Concerned Citizen (New York; Springer-Verlag, 2002), pp. 50-51.
[27] "Defense Minister on DPRK Submarine, Rocket Test," The Korea Herald, 29 January 1987, p. 1.
[28] Republic of Korea Ministry of National Defense, Defense White Paper, 2010.
[29] "Trader Nabbed for Illegal Chemical Exports," Jiji Press Ticker Service, 8 April 1996, www.lexisnexis.com (http://www.lexisnexis.com).
[30] "화학무기 원료 시안화나트륨 북유입 / 정부, 위험물질 북에 얼마나 갔는지 깜깜 [Chemical Weapon Precursor Exported to North Korea/Government Unsure about Amount Exported]," Donga Ilbo, 29 September 2004, www.donga.com; (http://www.donga.com;) "Toxic Chemical Shipped to North Korea from South Korea," Agence France-Presse, 24 September 2004, www.lexisnexis.com (http://www.lexisnexis.com).
[31] "South Korean Vice Foreign Minister Urges Pressure on North over Chemical Arms," Yonhap News Agency, 7 May 1997, www.yonhapnews.co.kr (http://www.yonhapnews.co.kr).
[32] "Foreign Minister Urges Chemical Weapons Body to Deter North Korea," BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 3 December 1998.
[33] "Why the Discrepancy Between ROK, DPRK Joint Communiqué Regarding Military Authorities Talks," Yonhap News Agency, 8 April 2002, www.yonhapnews.co.kr (http://www.yonhapnews.co.kr).
[34] Antony Barnett, "Revealed: the gas chamber horror of North Korea's gulag," The Guardian, 1 February 2004, www.guardian.co.uk (http://www.guardian.co.uk).; Joseph S. Bermudez. Jr., "Asia, Inside North Korea's CW Infrastructure," Jane's Intelligence Review, 1 August 1996.
[35] "North Korea Alleged Using Detainees in Chemical Weapons Tests," Associated Press, 26 September 1994.
[36] Bertil Lintner, "North Korea and the Poor Man's Bombs," Asia Times Online, 9 May 2007, www.atimes.com (http://www.atimes.com).
[37] Samuel Len, "Skepticism Over Gas Tests; Seoul to Await Probe After Report on North," International Herald Tribune, 3 February 2004, www.lexisnexis.com (http://www.lexisnexis.com).
[38] David Hawk, “North Korea’s Hidden Gulag: Interpreting Reports of Changes in the Prison Camps,” Human Rights in North Korea, 27 August 2013; Julian Ryall, “North Korea ‘Testing Chemical Weapons on Political Prisoners’,” The Telegraph, 14 October 2013, www.telegraph.co.uk (http://www.telegraph.co.uk).
[39] UN Human Rights Council, "Report of the Detailed Finds of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," A/HRC/25/CRP.1, p.93, 7 February 2014, www.un.org (http://www.un.org).
[40] "S. Korea to Guard Against N. Korea's Chemical Weapons," Agence France-Presse, 9 December 2010.
[41] “South Korea, US Agree to Build Anti-bioterrorism System,” Yonhap News Agency, 20 October 2013, http://yonhapnews.co.kr (http://yonhapnews.co.kr).
[42] Barbara Demick, “North Korea Tried to Ship Gas Masks to Syria, Report Says,” Los Angeles Times, 27 August 2013, http://articles.latimes.com; (http://articles.latimes.com;) Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr., "North Korea's Chemical Warfare Capabilities," 38 North, 10 October 2013, 38north.org.
[43] David Bradley, "VX Nerve Agent in North Korean's Murder: How Does It Work?", Scientific American, 24 February 2017, www.scientificamerican.com (http://www.scientificamerican.com)
[44] Richard C. Paddock and Choe Sang-Hun, "Kim Jong-nam Was Killed by VX Nerve Agent, Malaysians say", The New York Times, 23 February 2017, www.nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com)
[45] Richard C. Paddock, Choe Sang-Hun and Nicholas Wade, "In Kim Jong-nam's Death, North Korea Lets Loose a Weapon of Mass Destruction", The New York Times, 24 February 2017, www.nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com)
[46] David Bradley, "VX Nerve Agent in North Korean's Murder: How Does It Work?", Scientific American, 24 February 2017, www.scientificamerican.com (http://www.scientificamerican.com)
[47] Richard C. Paddock, Choe Sang-Hun and Nicholas Wade, "In Kim Jong-nam's Death, North Korea Lets Loose a Weapon of Mass Destruction", The New York Times, 24 February 2017, www.nytimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com)
[48] David Wright, "North Korea's February 12 Missile Launch", Union of Concerned Scientists, 12 February 2017, allthingnuclear.org

http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/north-korea/chemical/ (http://www.nti.org/learn/countries/north-korea/chemical/)

(Below is a link to a CRS report to the US Congress. The pertinent part starts around page 15)

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/RL30699.pdf (https://fas.org/sgp/crs/nuke/RL30699.pdf)



Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: agelbert on April 08, 2017, 08:16:53 PM

Yeah, saw that. And all the alt-right talking heads here are apoplectic. I'm guessing Mr. Trump is gonna be a one-termer, unless nuclear armageddon makes it all moot.

Resignation, Impeachment, Coup d'Etat and Assassination are all possible alternatives to an Early Exit besides Nuclear War.

RE


Every US president has done this kind of wag the dog CRAP when their ratings got in the tank from Clinton on. Trump TOLD the Russians where he was going to strike before he did it. So of course the Russians told ... (and so on). This is a Trump scam following US Presidential "tradition", not a prelude to WWIII. Oh, and while nobody was lookin', Trumpy just tried to MODIFY his financial "blind" trust. LOL! 

(http://alexanderhiggins.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/obama-wag-the-dog.jpg)

As to Trump's low IQ Alternative Right Racist supporters, he has as much use for them as Hitler did for the Brown shirts when he had finished using them to get to power. SUCKERS! (http://www.createaforum.com/gallery/renewablerevolution/3-311013200859.png)
Title: The US attack on Syria: A prelude to wider war
Post by: RE on April 10, 2017, 12:19:23 AM
http://www.greanvillepost.com/2017/04/08/the-us-attack-on-syria-a-prelude-to-wider-war/ (http://www.greanvillepost.com/2017/04/08/the-us-attack-on-syria-a-prelude-to-wider-war/)

The US attack on Syria: A prelude to wider war
April 8, 2017

(https://static.independent.co.uk/s3fs-public/styles/article_small/public/thumbnails/image/2017/04/07/08/us-missiles-syria-2.jpg)

Andre Damon, Senior Pol. Analyst, wsws.org
Dateline: 8 April 2017

In the day that has passed since the United States carried out an unprovoked and illegal attack on a Syrian air field, it has become clear that this event is only the prelude to a much broader military escalation, with the potential for a direct clash with nuclear-armed Russia.
Cover image: John McCain, a sociopathic warmongering idiot being given ample time for his lunatic accusations on CNN, part of the media cabal pushing for war with Russia or any obstacle to US world hegemony.

On Friday, the US media and political establishment, as if with one voice, not only applauded Trump’s action, but called for its expansion. Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton declared, “It is essential that the world does more to deter Assad from committing future murderous atrocities.” The day before the attack, Clinton called for bombing Syrian airfields and reiterated her support for setting up a no-fly zone, which top US generals have said would lead to war with Russia.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi praised Trump’s move, while calling on Congress to pass a new authorization for the use of military force to give further action greater legitimacy. Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham released a statement calling on Trump to further escalate the war in Syria. Trump must move to “take Assad’s air force…completely out of the fight,” they wrote, and create “safe zones” in the country, which would entail the deployment of substantial numbers of ground troops.
Through the operations of the Democratic Party and its organizational affiliates, mass opposition to war has been politically demobilized. There remains a gulf between the level of consciousness of broad masses of the population and the extreme danger of the world situation.

The delusional and warmongering mood in the media was summed up by MSNBC commentator Brian Williams, who absurdly cited lyrics from Leonard Cohen: “I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.” He was so transfixed by the “beauty” of the Tomahawk missiles that he repeated the word three times. CNN’s Fareed Zakaria proclaimed that with the launching of the airstrikes, “Trump became president of the United States.”

All of these statements were underpinned by a universal acceptance of the transparent lie that the strikes were in response to allegations that the Syrian government, with the support of Russia, used chemical weapons on Tuesday against the village of Khan Sheikhoun. The Syrian government’s denial of responsibility was dismissed, and the fact that US-backed forces have used such weapons in the past and blamed it on the government simply ignored.
On Friday, the US media and political establishment, as if with one voice, not only applauded Trump’s action, but called for its expansion. Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton declared, “It is essential that the world does more to deter Assad from committing future murderous atrocities.” The day before the attack, Clinton called for bombing Syrian airfields and reiterated her support for setting up a no-fly zone, which top US generals have said would lead to war with Russia.

As for the blatant illegality of the US attack on Syria, this was treated as a nonissue. At Friday’s UN Security Council meeting, Syria’s ambassador to the United Nations called the strikes a “flagrant act of aggression,” in violation “of the charter of the United Nations as well as all international norms and laws.”

In response, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley simply declared, “When the international community consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action.” In other words, the US reserves to itself the right to wage aggressive war against any country it chooses, whatever the pretext.

This line was echoed in the media, with Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, the eternal propagandist of “humanitarian” war, declaring, “President Trump’s air strikes against Syria were of dubious legality… But most of all, they were right.”

To understand the real motivations behind the airstrikes on Syria, it is necessary to place them in a broader historical context.

The United States has been continually at war for over a quarter century. In each of these wars, the US government claimed that it was intervening to prevent some imminent catastrophe or topple one or another dictator.

In 1991, the US invaded oil-rich Iraq, nominally to stop atrocities planned by the Iraqi military against the population of Kuwait. Then came the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia, nominally to prevent ethnic cleansing by President Slobodan Milosevic.

In 2001, the Bush administration invaded Afghanistan, based on the false pretext that the Taliban was harboring the perpetrators of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Next came the second invasion of Iraq, justified by false claims that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein possessed “weapons of mass destruction.”

Under Obama, the US bombed Libya and had its Islamist proxies murder President Muammar Ghadaffi after claiming that his troops were planning to carry out an imminent massacre in Benghazi.

In all of these wars, humanitarian pretexts were employed to carry out regime-change operations in pursuit of the United States’ global geostrategic interests. They have resulted in the deaths of more than a million people and the destruction of entire societies. In the effort to reverse the long-term decline of American capitalism, the US ruling class has bombed or invaded one country after the next in regional conflicts that are rapidly developing into a confrontation with its larger rivals, including China and Russia.

Now, once again, the American people are expected to believe that the US is launching another war to save, in the words of Donald Trump, “beautiful babies.”

In relation to Syria, the horrific bloodshed and refugee crisis are the products of a five-year-long CIA-stoked civil war aimed at bringing down the government of Bashar al-Assad, an ally of Iran and Russia. In 2013, allegations of a chemical weapons attack falsely attributed to the Syrian government were used to demand airstrikes. The Obama administration ended up backing down, confronting broad popular opposition and the unexpected defeat in the British parliament of a resolution authorizing military intervention.

Dominant sections of the military and political establishment, however, considered Obama’s agreement with Putin to be a terrible climbdown, a loss of face that had to be reversed.

In the months since Trump’s election and inauguration, the Democrats’ accusations that he was a “Siberian candidate” and a “Russian poodle” were aimed primarily at forcing a more aggressive policy in Syria and against Russia, in line with the demands of the CIA and military establishment.

The partial resolution of the bitter conflict within the ruling class over foreign policy does not mean that the US will not also escalate military intervention in Trump’s preferred region for military intervention, Asia. NBC News carried a prominent segment Friday evening reporting, “The National Security Council has presented President Trump with options to respond to North Korea’s nuclear program—including putting American nukes in South Korea or killing dictator Kim Jong-un.” Any such action could quickly develop into an all-out war in the Asia Pacific.

What is perhaps most striking is the indifference of the political establishment and media to public opinion. The propaganda is so blatant, so repetitive, it is as if they are operating based on a script—which they are. Broad sections of the population largely take it for granted that the government is peddling falsehoods.

Through the operations of the Democratic Party and its organizational affiliates, however, mass opposition to war has been politically demobilized. There remains a gulf between the level of consciousness of broad masses of the population and the extreme danger of the world situation. This must be reversed, through the systematic and urgent development of a mass political movement of the working class, in opposition to imperialist war and its ultimate cause, the capitalist system.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 12, 2017, 01:24:31 AM
The Saker has written a long analysis of the Syrian situation, with lots of embedded links and quotes.  Rather too many "I can't understand why ... unless they're stupid !" comments - instead of working out SOME reason to explain things.  To my mind Obama was often firm on not being railroaded by the deep state, aware that he would be criticised as being weak and indecisive, especially by armchair critics who don't have to have a coherent policy.

I put it all down to a crumbling Empire, wrong when it dithers, and wrong when it charges in.

Anyway read it at the website:

http://thesaker.is/a-multi-level-analysis-of-the-us-cruise-missile-attack-on-syria-and-its-consequences/ (http://thesaker.is/a-multi-level-analysis-of-the-us-cruise-missile-attack-on-syria-and-its-consequences/)
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on April 12, 2017, 01:40:25 AM
The Saker has written a long analysis of the Syrian situation, with lots of embedded links and quotes.  Rather too many "I can't understand why ... unless they're stupid !" comments - instead of working out SOME reason to explain things.  To my mind Obama was often firm on not being railroaded by the deep state, aware that he would be criticised as being weak and indecisive, especially by armchair critics who don't have to have a coherent policy.

I put it all down to a crumbling Empire, wrong when it dithers, and wrong when it charges in.

Anyway read it at the website:

http://thesaker.is/a-multi-level-analysis-of-the-us-cruise-missile-attack-on-syria-and-its-consequences/ (http://thesaker.is/a-multi-level-analysis-of-the-us-cruise-missile-attack-on-syria-and-its-consequences/)

I think the "why" is EZ to answer.   They have no plan, and when they have no plan the answer is always "drop bombs".

RE
Title: The Gassing Game in Syria
Post by: RE on April 12, 2017, 01:43:45 AM
http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/11/the-gassing-game-in-syria/ (http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/11/the-gassing-game-in-syria/)

April 11, 2017
The Gassing Game in Syria

by Chandra Muzaffar

(https://shawglobalnews.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/syria-chem-attack1.jpg?quality=70&strip=all&w=720&h=480&crop=1)

The use of chemical weapons in Sheikhun, in the Idlib province of Syria on April 4, 2017 was a heinous act. The world has rightly condemned it.

Because it was so cruel and callous, it is vital that the truth about the attack is established as soon as possible. The United States of America and a number of its allies are certain that the attack was planned and executed by the Syrian government. 86 people, including 27 children, were killed in the carnage. The US Ambassador to the UN has shown some heart-rending images of some of the children who died from the chemical gas attack.

The Syrian authorities have denied categorically that they were responsible for the tragedy. They claim that a warehouse containing toxic materials may have been hit in the course of the Syrian army’s operations in the area thus releasing lethal gas and causing so many deaths.

Given these conflicting accounts, an independent international inquiry should be conducted to determine what really happened on the 4th of April. The members of the panel should comprise credible experts who are not citizens of any of the five permanent member states of the UN Security Council. The UN Secretary-General should appoint the panel.

It is only after the panel’s findings are made public that action should be taken under the provisions of the UN Charter. By firing a barrage of cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase on the April 7, the US has not only violated international law but has also committed aggression against a sovereign state. The US’s unilateral action has worsened the conflict in Syria.

Establishing the truth about the chemical gas episode is far more important than flexing one’s military muscle. To start with, how could the Syrian army have deployed chemical weapons when a UN affiliated body, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirmed in June 2014 that Syria had complied with a Security Council resolution to destroy its entire stockpile of chemical weapons ?

Besides, it defies logic that the Syrian government that has regained control over almost all the major cities in the country and is clearly winning the war against the militants who are being backed by regional and Western actors should deliberately choose to gas innocent children — an action which it knows would provoke the wrath of the whole world.

A brief survey of gas attacks in Syria in the last five years would convince us that it just does not make sense for the government to consciously plan the 4th April episode. Take the infamous Ghouta sarin gas attack of August 2013. The centres of power in the West and in WANA opposed to Bashar al-Assad through their media channels immediately labelled the Syrian authorities as the culprit and crucified them. But the highly respected American investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, through meticulous analysis revealed that the attack was actually the work of a militant group carried out with the connivance of elements in the Turkish power structure.

The Houla massacre of 25 May 2012 was another example of a gas attack that finger-pointed the Bashar government. A picture of a large number of dead children “ wrapped in white shrouds with a child jumping over one of them “ was offered as proof of Bashar’s brutality. The picture was actually from the war in Iraq in 2003. The photographer himself, Marco Di Lauro, came out in the open to expose the fabrication. In fact according to the German newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), the massacre was “committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were members of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad.” There was also the case of militants gathering Christian and Alawi hostages in a building in the Khalidya neighbourhood in Homs, blowing it up with dynamite and then putting the blame upon the Syrian army. Numerous other instances of militants committing terrible atrocities but giving the impression that the Syrian army or its allies — Iranian revolutionary guards or Hezbollah fighters or Russian soldiers — were responsible have been documented by journalists and commentators.

Of all the lies and deceptions of this sort in recent memory the most outrageous would the Anglo-American allegation about Saddam Hussein’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction” which was the fig-leaf used to camouflage their invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. The Bolivian Ambassador to the UN, Sacha Llorenti, reminded the Security Council of this monstrous lie at its meeting on the 7th of April and warned the world that “After this (Iraqi) invasion there were 1 million deaths and it launched a series of atrocities in that region. Could we talk about ISIS if that invasion had not taken place? Could we be talking about the series of horrendous attacks in various parts of the world had that invasion, this illegal invasion not taken place?”

Lies, manipulation of facts and false-flag operations all serve an overriding goal which is to protect and perpetuate US hegemonic power and the interests of its allies. In Iraq and Syria it is only too obvious that the aim is to secure hegemony through regime-change. Indeed, the US elite, at the behest of Israel, have been seeking to oust Bashar al-Assad for the good part of the last 15 years. For different reasons, the rulers of London and Paris, and those at the helm in Riyadh, Doha and Ankara also want to get rid of Bashar. A convergence of motives explains why these elites have been funding, training, arming and channelling intelligence to militants in Syria from various parts of the world who have sometimes resorted to the most barbaric methods in pursuit of their zealous drive to seize power.

There is perhaps yet another reason — apart from regime change — why some vested interests in Washington have decided to exploit the 4th April gas attack. These interests in the military, the intelligence community, the media, think-tanks, within lobbies and among legislators, are opposed to any rapprochement between Washington and Moscow. Perpetuating an adversarial relationship between the two is integral to their agenda of ensuring that the US remains the world’s sole dominant power. They sense that the new US President, Donald Trump, may try to build a bridge to Russia’a Vladimir Putin which is why they are manipulating the issue of the latter’s alleged attempt to influence the recent US Presidential Election. The suspicion and distrust engendered by this issue has now been aggravated by the US missile attack

US-Russia ties are not the only issue adversely impacted by the US’s 7th April bombardment. If the US escalates its military involvement, it will have far-reaching consequences for the on-going conflict in Syria, politics in WANA and global peace in general.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 14, 2017, 01:29:08 AM
http://thesaker.is/rex-tillerson-meet-with-foreign-minister-lavrov-and-president-putin/ (http://thesaker.is/rex-tillerson-meet-with-foreign-minister-lavrov-and-president-putin/)
Rex Tillerson meets with Foreign Minister Lavrov and President Putin
The Saker
April 13, 2017

Finally, they met.  Rex Tillerson spent several hours speaking with Foreign Minister Lavrov and, after that, with President Putin.  Tillerson  and Lavrov then held a rather bizarre joint press conference in which Tillerson mantrically repeated all the nonsense we are now used to hear about Russia while Lavrov logically demolished each US argument one by one.  I suppose I could discuss the entire press conference word by word, but it wasn’t that interesting and, besides, I expect Tillerson to suffer from the “Kerry syndrome”: being on his best behavior while in Moscow only to turn rabid again as soon as he is back in DC.  Still, those interested can read the full transcript of the press confence here (http://thesaker.is/full-text-of-the-lavrov-tillerson-press-conference/).

Let me just summarize why, all in all, this trip is not bad news (can’t quite call it “good news” either)

For one thing – when two superpowers are talking to each other they are usually trying to avoid an escalation.  Second, Tillerson met with Putin.  If Tillerson had come to Moscow just to deliver the usual torrent of threats and accusations he would not have been seen by Putin (or, for that matter, by Lavrov).  This means that something of some substance was discussed.  Not agreed upon, but at least discussed.  Third, while both parties admitted that they had plenty of differences, they did signal that they wanted an improvement in relations.  I think that the following sentence by Tillerson is absolutely crucial:

    I expressed the view that the current state of U.S.-Russia relations is at a low point and there is a low level of trust between our two countries. The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship.

I fully understand that coming from somebody most likely already infected with the “Kerry Syndrome” this might not be much.  But, friends, this is better than nothing!

Please get me right: I am so horrified by the rabid insanity of the Trump administration that at this point I will be grateful to God “just” if there is not direct war between the USA and Russia.  That is the only thing I still hold some hope for.  Because other than that, the picture is very, very gloomy.

In prototypical Neocon-style, the Americans have completely painted themselves into a corner.  They have made SO MANY frankly stupid statements about Syria and Assad that they simply cannot backtrack any more.  Just like there is exactly ZERO chance that the Americans will ever accept an independent and honest investigation into what really happened during the latest chemical incident (I don’t call it an “attack” because I am not even sure that there was an attack).  This is like 9/11 – there is NO WAY the US Nomenklatura will EVER allow an independent investigation into that event either.  They are fully committed.  They cannot go back now.

I often get the feeling that the Americans, knowing full well how wrong they are, often deliberately paint themselves into a corner just to be in a way “protected from reality” by being stuck; in a way, that makes them almost immune to fact-based and logical arguments.  Whatever may be the case, Russia and the USA will not work together in Syria.  And that means that the entire idea of the USA defeating Daesh is dead in the water forever.  Russia and Iran might help the Syrians push Daesh out of most of Syria, but even that will not ‘defeat’ Daesh in a meaningful way.  Furthermore, I have come to the conclusion that Israel has played a key role in the coup against Trump and that Israel will now do everything in its power to keep Daesh fighting for as long as possible (more about that in my next analysis next week).  Daesh could most definitely be crushed by a joint US-Russian effort.  Now, thanks to Trump Daesh, has a brand new lease on life.  Well done, Donald!

So here is what is happening: the Trump policy, if you want to call it that, towards the war in Syria was delivered stillborn.  The Americans themselves killed it with their fantastically stupid aggression against Syria and the “sarin gas” fairly tale they used as a pretext.  Trump has been completely neutered, his “Mad Dog” will bark a lot but get nothing done, as for McMaster – he can go right back on writing more of the kind of strategy documents which got the US Army defeated pretty much everywhere.

That is option one.

Option two is infinitely worse: the crazies keep on doubling-down and we have WWIII.  I prefer option one.  This is why I think that the Tillerson to Moscow is a success: it moves the planet just a little closer to option one and a little further way from option two.

At this point in time, this is all we can still hope for: that the spineless imbeciles who run the USA today do not trigger WWIII.  If they somehow manage NOT to trigger WWIII in the next four years, we will still owe them an immense debt of gratitude for that (even if we despise for everything else they will no doubt do next).

One more thing: make no mistake – the situation today is far more dangerous than the Cuban missile crisis.

During the Cold War both sides were ruled by rational men.  Not necessarily kind men, but fundamentally rational men.  It was self-evident for everybody involved that you could never, ever, take the risk of a real nuclear war breaking out.  There is no doubt in my mind whatsoever that the Soviets never had any intention of invading western Europe.  But IF they had done so, there is also no doubt in my mind that the USA would never have escalated to the level of strategic nuclear weapons.  I have known plenty of senior US officers, ranging Navy intelligence officers, to senior analysts of the Office of Net Assessment, to officers who worked on the YF-22/23 program to one member of the Joint Chiefs.  They all agreed that going to nuclear war was simply something which no US President would ever do.  One of them put it simply “we are not going to trade Boston for Munich”.  They were all patriots, but they knew crazy when they saw it and war between the USA and the USSR is a crazy, civilization ending, idea.

Nowadays we clearly have already two US administrations which are willing to engage into what I call a “game of nuclear chicken” with Russia because they are too stupid to realize that Russia will not back down when cornered (and she is cornered in both the Ukraine and Syria) and that Russia can simply wipe the entire USA off the face of the earth (and the USA can do likewise to Russia).  When I hear of the notion of imposing a no-fly zone over Syria against the will of Russia I get a knot in my stomach because I fully understand where this could lead.

This is much worse than the Cuban missile crisis and it will, alas, last much longer.

I hope and pray that Tillerson will not completely forget his words about  two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship when he comes back to DC and that he will find the courage in himself to repeat these words when faced with the hysterical crowds demanding blood in Congress, in the US Ziomedia and in the Executive Branch swamp.

As for Trump, let him get his foreign policy advice from Ivanka just like Clinton got his from Hillary.  The damage is already done.  Now they both belong to the same trash heap of history.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 14, 2017, 06:02:24 PM
https://www.rt.com/usa/384800-syria-gas-professor-addendum/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/384800-syria-gas-professor-addendum/)
MIT professor exposes ‘egregious error’ & evidence tampering in US report on Syria sarin incident
14 Apr, 2017

A closer look at photos from the town of Khan Shaykhun shows that the chemical attack site was tampered with and that the US report blaming the Syrian government can’t be true, says the MIT professor skeptical of the White House narrative.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Theodore Postol, who wrote a preliminary review of the US government claims earlier this week and shared his findings with RT, examined photographs of the attack site and concluded that the report endorsed by the White House “could not be true.”

Senior US administration officials who briefed the media on Tuesday admitted the White House intelligence was partly “based on the pro-opposition social media reporting,” which “tells a very clear and consistent story about what we think happened.”

Postol’s six-page addendum (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_Vs2rjE9TdwUE9tam16a3F0Wjg/view), made public on Thursday evening, “unambiguously shows that the assumption in the [White House report] that there was no tampering with the alleged site of the sarin release is not correct.”

That assumption was “totally unjustified,” wrote Postol, “and no competent intelligence analyst would have agreed that this assumption was valid.”

By implication, the report was not reviewed and released by competent intelligence experts – “unless they were motivated by factors other than concerns about the accuracy of the report,” the professor added.

Postol’s key argument is a series of photographs of the crater where the container holding sarin was supposedly air-dropped. He pointed to a photograph of several men inspecting the site, wearing loose clothing and medical gloves.

“If there were any sarin present at this location when this photograph was taken everybody in the photograph would have received a lethal or debilitating dose of sarin,” he wrote. “The fact that these people were dressed so inadequately either suggests a complete ignorance of the basic measures needed to protect an individual from sarin poisoning, or that they knew that the site was not seriously contaminated.”

(https://cdn.rt.com/files/2017.04/original/58f13771c4618866558b45a9.jpg)
© Theodore Postol

Another photo shows the crushed container half-buried in the crater, while in other photos is has been dug up and repositioned.

On Thursday, CIA Director Mike Pompeo confirmed that it was his agency which concluded that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack in Khan Shaykhun, which persuaded Trump to fire 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase last week.

“We were good, and fast,” Pompeo said at an event in Washington, DC, “and we got it right.”

The US missile attack caused tensions between Washington and Moscow, leading to a suspension of a military hotline intended to “deconflict” operations over Syria and the US-led coalition scaling back its strikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL.)

The Syrian government has denied using or even possessing chemical weapons. Syria’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention was certified by international observers in 2013, the Russian General Staff said, noting that this did not include two sites on territory controlled by the rebels.
Title: How the U.S. Government Spins the Story
Post by: RE on April 22, 2017, 12:29:05 AM
http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/how-the-u-s-government-spins-the-story/ (http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/how-the-u-s-government-spins-the-story/)

How the U.S. Government Spins the Story
Did Syria actually use chemical weapons?

(http://www.unzcloud.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Idlib.jpg)

Philip Giraldi • April 18, 2017 • 1,200 Words • 145 Comments • Reply

Sounds like we’ve heard it all before, because we have, back in August 2013, and that turned out to be less than convincing. Skepticism is likewise mounting over current White House claims that Damascus used a chemical weapon against civilians in the village of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on April 4th. Shortly after the more recent incident, President Donald Trump, possibly deriving his information from television news reports, abruptly stated that the government of President Bashar al-Assad had ordered the attack. He also noted that the use of chemicals had “crossed many red lines” and hinted that Damascus would be held accountable. Twenty-four hours later retribution came in the form of the launch of 59 cruise missiles directed against the Syrian airbase at Sharyat. The number of casualties, if any, remains unclear and the base itself sustained only minor damage amidst allegations that many of the missiles had missed their target. The physical assault was followed by a verbal onslaught, with the Trump Administration blaming Russia for shielding al-Assad and demanding that Moscow end its alliance with Damascus if it wishes to reestablish good relations with Washington.

The media, led by the usual neoconservative cheerleaders, have applauded Trump’s brand of tough love with Syria, even though Damascus had no motive to stage such an attack while the so-called rebels had plenty to gain. The escalation to a war footing also serves no U.S. interest and actually damages prospects for eliminating ISIS any time soon. Democratic Party liberal interventionists have also joined with Senators John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Marco Rubio to celebrate the cruise missile strike and hardening rhetoric. Principled and eminently sensible Democratic Congressman Tulsi Gabbard, has demanded evidence of Syrian culpability, saying “It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government. This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a direct confrontation between the United States and Russia—which could lead to nuclear war. This Administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning.” For her pains, she has been vilified by members of her own party, who have called for her resignation.

Other congressmen, including Senators Rand Paul and Tim Kaine, who have asked for a vote in congress to authorize going to war, have likewise been ignored or deliberately marginalized. All of which means that the United States has committed a war crime against a country with which it is not at war and has done so by ignoring Article 2 of the Constitution, which grants to Congress the sole power to declare war. It has also failed to establish a casus belli that Syria represents some kind of threat to the United States.

What has become completely clear, as a result of the U.S. strike and its aftermath, is that any general reset with Russia has now become unimaginable, meaning among other things that a peace settlement for Syria is for now unattainable. It also has meant that the rebels against al-Assad’s regime will be empowered, possibly deliberately staging more chemical “incidents” and blaming the Damascus government to shift international opinion farther in their direction. ISIS, which was reeling prior to the attack and reprisal, has been given a reprieve by the same United States government that pledged to eradicate it. And Donald Trump has reneged on his two campaign pledges to avoid deeper involvement in Middle Eastern wars and mend fences with Moscow.

There have been two central documents relating to the alleged Syrian chemical weapon incidents in 2013 and 2017, both of which read like press releases. Both refer to a consensus within the U.S. intelligence community (IC)and express “confidence” and even “high confidence” regarding their conclusions but neither is actually a product of the office of the Director of National Intelligence, which would be appropriate if the IC had actually come to a consensus. Neither the Director of National Intelligence nor the Director of CIA were present in a photo showing the White House team deliberating over what to do about Syria. Both documents supporting the U.S. cruise missile attack were, in fact, uncharacteristically put out by the White House, suggesting that the arguments were stitched together in haste to support a political decision to use force that had already been made.

The two documents provide plenty of circumstantial information but little in the way of actual evidence. The 2013 Obama version “Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons on August 21, 2013,” was criticized almost immediately when it was determined that there were alternative explanations for the source of the chemical agents that might have killed more than a thousand people in and around the town of Ghouta. The 2017 Trump version “The Assad Regime’s Use of Chemical Weapons on April 4, 2017,” is likewise under fire from numerous quarters. Generally reliable journalist Robert Parry is reporting that the intelligence behind the White House claims comes largely from satellite surveillance, though nothing has been released to back-up the conclusion that the Syrian government was behind the attack, an odd omission as everyone knows about satellite capabilities and they are not generally considered to be a classified source or method. Parry also cites the fact that there are alternative theories on what took place and why, some of which appear to originate with the intelligence and national security community, which was in part concerned over the rush to judgment by the White House. MIT Professor Theodore Postol, considered to be an expert on munitions, has also questioned the government’s account of what took place in Khan Sheikhoun through a detailed analysis of the available evidence. He believes that the chemical agent was fired from the ground, not from an airplane, suggesting that it was an attack initiated by the rebels made to appear as if it was caused by the Syrian bomb.

In spite of the challenges, “Trust me,” says Donald Trump. The Russians and Syrians are demanding an international investigation of the alleged chemical weapons incident, but as time goes by the ability to discern what took place diminishes. All that is indisputably known at this point is that the Syrian Air Force attacked a target in Idlib and a cloud of toxic chemicals was somehow released. The al-Ansar terrorist group (affiliated with al-Qaeda) is in control of the area and benefits greatly from the prevailing narrative. If it was in fact the actual implementer of the attack, it is no doubt cleaning and reconfiguring the site to support the account that it is promoting and which is being uncritically accepted both by the mainstream media and by a number of governments. The United States will also do its best to disrupt any inquiry that challenges the assumptions that it has already come to. The Trump Administration is threatening to do more to remove Bashar al-Assad and every American should accept that the inhabitant of the White House, when he is actually in residence, will discover like many before him that war is good business. He will continue to ride the wave of jingoism that has turned out to be his salvation, reversing to an extent the negative publicity that has dogged the new administration.
Title: Things that make you go hmmmm....
Post by: RE on April 27, 2017, 08:35:01 AM
Ruskie spy ship goes down after collision with Turkish vessel carrying sheep?

RE

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/russian-navy-intelligence-ship-sinks-after-collision-with-freighter-off-turkish-coast/2017/04/27/5854b062-2b45-11e7-be51-b3fc6ff7faee_story.html?utm_term=.3c7afaab80f1 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/russian-navy-intelligence-ship-sinks-after-collision-with-freighter-off-turkish-coast/2017/04/27/5854b062-2b45-11e7-be51-b3fc6ff7faee_story.html?utm_term=.3c7afaab80f1)

Russian navy intelligence ship sinks after collision with freighter off Turkish coast

(https://img.washingtonpost.com/rf/image_1484w/2010-2019/WashingtonPost/2017/04/27/Foreign/Images/2017-04-27T132729Z_1949145211_RC17E6F2F1E0_RTRMADP_3_TURKEY-RUSSIA-SHIP-4565.jpg?uuid=JFU-nCtREee-UbP8b_f67g)
Russian navy reconnaissance ship Liman passing through the Bosporus on its way to the Mediterranean Sea in November 2015. (Stringer/Reuters)

By Kareem Fahim and Andrew Roth April 27 at 11:18 AM

ISTANBUL — A Russian naval intelligence ship sank Thursday after colliding with a merchant freighter in foggy conditions on the Black Sea near Istanbul, the Turkish coast guard said. All 78 crew members on the Russian vessel were rescued.

 The crew of the freighter Youzarsif H, a Togo-flagged ship traveling from Romania to Jordan and carrying 8,800 sheep, was unharmed and the ship suffered slight damage to its bow, according to local media reports.

In Moscow, Russia's Defense Ministry issued a statement confirming that the vessel, the Liman, went down after the collision tore a hole in the hull below the waterline.

Russian officials did not immediately provide any information about the Liman’s mission. The Russian state-run Sputnik news agency reported in 2016 that the Liman had been deployed in the Black Sea to monitor the joint Sea Breeze naval exercises between Ukraine and several NATO countries, including the United States. Russian officials had complained that the joint exercises were provocative.

Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, called Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to express “sadness,” Turkey’s semiofficial Anadolu news agency reported.

 Russia and Turkey have developed increasingly warm ties over the last year, putting aside bitter differences over the war in Syria to cooperate on brokering a political solution to the conflict. The relationship reached a low point in 2015, when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane that Ankara said had strayed over the Syrian border.

The collision occurred about 20 miles northwest of the Bosporus Strait, one of the world’s busiest waterways connecting the Black Sea to the shipping lanes leading to the Mediterranean.

At the time of the accident, the Bosporus was closed because of poor visibility, the Reuters news agency reported, citing the shipping agency GAC.

The Liman had also previously been deployed for three months to the coast of Syria in the Mediterranean Sea, where Russia is in the second year of an intervention to back President Bashar al-Assad against a wide array of rebel groups, including Islamist fighters and others with U.S. backing.

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Ship spotters in the Bosporus photographed the ship traversing the strait near Istanbul under heavy snow in January.

It is not clear whether the ship was headed toward Syria on Thursday.

 The Liman was built as a hydrographic survey vessel in the Gdansk shipyards in Poland in 1970 and later converted for military service in 1989, shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union. The ship is outfitted to capture signals intelligence, largely communications, using an array of Soviet and Russian-made sensors that have been retrofitted onto the ship.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 27, 2017, 04:43:23 PM
When the Bosphorus is closed due to fog, ships in the Black Sea are milling around in circles aimlessly , and accidents are bound to happen.  I don't know if pilots are required for the transit, but they may be involved here.


Assad nails it in one.

https://www.rt.com/usa/386395-trump-us-puppet-assad/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/386395-trump-us-puppet-assad/)
Trump is puppet of US ‘deep state,’ has no ‘own’ foreign policy – Assad
7 Apr, 2017

US president Donald Trump is not a truly independent political leader but merely a puppet of US corporations, military and intelligence, and who serves their interests, Syrian President Bashar Assad has told the Latin American TeleSUR TV network.

Trump pursues “no own policies” but only executes the decisions made by the “intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, the big arms manufacturers, oil companies, and financial institutions,” the Syrian leader said in an exclusive interview with TeleSUR.

"As we have seen in the past few weeks, he changed his rhetoric completely and subjected himself to the terms of the deep American state, or the deep American regime," Assad added.

He referred to the fact that Trump came to power on a political platform promising a departure from the interventionist policy of the previous US president, Barack Obama, but soon forgot his promises and ordered a missile strike against the Syrian air base following a chemical weapons incident in Syria’s Idlib province.

The Syrian president also said that it is “a complete waste of time to make an assessment of the American president’s foreign policy” as “he might say something” but what he really does depends on “what these [US military and business] institutions dictate to him.”

He also added that it “is not new” and “has been ongoing American policy for decades.”

"This is what characterizes American politicians: they lie on a daily basis... That’s why we shouldn’t believe what the Pentagon or any other American institution says because they say things which serve their policies, not things which reflect reality and the facts on the ground,” Assad told TeleSUR.

He went on to say that the US continues to pursue its age-long policy aimed at establishing and maintaining a global hegemony by turning all countries that oppose it into war zones.

"The United States always seeks to control all the states of the world without exception. It does not accept allies, regardless of whether they are developed states as those in the Western bloc or other states of the world," the Syrian leader explained.

He also added that “what is happening to Syria, to Korea, to Iran, to Russia, and maybe to Venezuela now, aims at re-imposing American hegemony on the world because they believe that this hegemony is under threat now, which consequently threatens the interests of American economic and political elites.”

Assad expressed similar views in an interview with Russia’s Sputnik news agency about a week ago. “The regime in the United States hasn't changed,” he said, adding, “since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has been attacking different countries in different ways without taking into consideration the Security Council or the United Nations.”

He also said that for the US, “the end justifies the means, no values, no morals at all, anything could happen.”

Despite his criticism, Assad once again confirmed the readiness of the Syrian government to cooperate with the US if it could change its attitude towards respecting other countries’ sovereignty and that of Syria in particular.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on April 27, 2017, 04:48:59 PM
When the Bosphorus is closed due to fog, ships in the Black Sea are milling around in circles aimlessly , and accidents are bound to happen.

They don't have Radar?  GPS and shore tracking?  Even a consumer GPS puts your position to 15'.  They are "aimlessly" wandering around because of fog?

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 27, 2017, 07:50:16 PM
I'm sure the Russian ship had all the gear, but maybe the Romanian sheep-carrier didn't, or they weren't looking at.  Maybe they don't go round in circles, maybe they just come to a standstill and just drift.  Then they can't get going again quickly enough to get out of the way of rogue ships.  Accidents do happen at sea.

(http://www.shipspotting.com/photos/big/7/1/8/2095817.jpg)

(https://i0.wp.com/cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/78/590x/Russia-ship-crash-797325.jpg)
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on April 27, 2017, 08:08:02 PM
I'm sure the Russian ship had all the gear, but maybe the Romanian sheep-carrier didn't, or they weren't looking at.  Maybe they don't go round in circles, maybe they just come to a standstill and just drift.  Then they can't get going again quickly enough to get out of the way of rogue ships.  Accidents do happen at sea.

Sure accidents happen at sea.  But when was the last time a Ruskie Spy Ship went to the bottom of Davey Jones Locker?  In the middle of a very conflicted warzone, and then blamed on a collison with a fucking sheep carrying freighter?  I have a hard time buying this story.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 29, 2017, 09:58:56 PM
When are allies not allies? - when you have to interpose troops in armoured vehicles between them, "to discourage escalation and violence between two of our most trusted partners in the fight to defeat ISIS".  Turkey says it will not join the fight if the Kurds are there, and the Kurds say "If the [US] coalition does not show a concrete reaction [to Turkey bombing the Kurds], then we will withdraw our forces from Raqqa”.  Which will leave only the Russians, the Syrian Army, the Iranians and Hezbollah to fight ISIS.

https://www.rt.com/usa/386629-syria-turkey-border-us-troops/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/386629-syria-turkey-border-us-troops/)
US troops deployed at Syrian border to prevent clashes between Turkish & Kurdish forces
29 Apr, 2017

http://www.youtube.com/v/Xut3X0UHfiw

The US has deployed troops to Syria’s northeast border with Turkey in an attempt to prevent an escalation of fighting between the Turkish forces and Kurdish militia units that followed Turkish airstrikes hitting two Kurdish-held areas in Syria and Iraq.

“Coalition forces are conducting joint patrols along the northeastern Syria-Turkey border to assess reports from both the [Kurdish] SDF and Turkey regarding skirmishes and cross-border fires between their respective security forces,” an official from the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) Public Affairs Office told RT via email, confirming the deployment.

“The patrols’ purpose is to discourage escalation and violence between two of our most trusted partners in the fight to defeat ISIS [Islamic State terrorist group (IS, former ISIS/ISIL)] and reinforce the Coalition's commitment to both Turkey and the SDF,” the CJTF–OIR statement added.

The Coalition also called on both Turks and Kurds to “remain focused on the fight to defeat ISIS, which is the greatest threat to regional and worldwide peace and security.”

The joint patrols were also indirectly confirmed by the Pentagon. “We have US forces that are there throughout the entirety of northern Syria that operate with our Syrian Democratic Force partners,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told journalists on Friday, as reported by AP.

“The border is among the areas where they operate,” Davis also said, adding that the US wants Kurdish militia, including the Kurdish-dominated alliance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to focus on the liberation of the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital in Syria, and “not to be drawn into conflicts elsewhere.”

A senior Kurdish official, Ilham Ahmad, also told AP that the US forces began patrolling the border region Thursday in addition to their reconnaissance flights in the area. He said that the current US deployment was temporary but did not rule out a possibility of it becoming permanent.

Meanwhile, photos of the US armored personal carriers driving on a rural road in the village of Darbasiyah were posted by journalists and Kurdish activists in social networks.

    Happy #Kurds Wave At U.S Military Vehicles Passing Next To Them On Their Way To Darbasiyah Town's Border Area Of #Rojava To Support The #YPGpic.twitter.com/UxWPKi9Kfv
    — erica (@ericasangsuwan) April 28, 2017

The escalation of tensions in the border region was caused by a series of the Turkish airstrikes carried out on April 25 that hit Iraq’s Sinjar region and northeastern Syria. Turkey claimed it targeted “terror hubs” infiltrated by members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which Turkey considers to be a terrorist group.

The strikes claimed the lives of a number of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia fighters and civilians in Syria and resulted in casualties among forces under the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq.

Between 20 and 30 US-backed Kurdish fighters were killed in those incidents, according to various estimates. Turkey said 70 PKK militants were killed in the strikes, as reported by Reuters. Both Syrian YPG and Iraqi Peshmerga Kurdish militias condemned the attack.

The United States has urged all sides to show restraint and focus their efforts on fighting the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorist group. US State Department spokesman Mark Toner also said Washington had expressed “deep concern” over the Turkish airstrikes.

In the meantime, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has remained steadfast as he said that Turkey’s operations would continue “until the last terrorist is eliminated.”

Kurdish forces appeared to be dissatisfied with the American reaction to the incident, as YPG spokeswoman Nesrin Abdullah criticized the US and warned that the Kurdish militia could withdraw their forces from Raqqa if this incident is not addressed.

“Our people are expecting a response from us on why the coalition is not showing Turkey a concrete reaction. If the coalition does not show a concrete reaction, then we will withdraw our forces from Raqqa,” she told a local Kurdish media.

Since April 25, the YPG and the Turkish forces have traded artillery fire along the Syrian border with Turkey. Clashes between the Turkish military and the Kurdish militia were also reported Wednesday.

The US is sending its troops to the contact line between Turkish forces and Kurdish units in Syria. In March, some 200 US marines backed with howitzers and Stryker armored vehicles were reportedly deployed to the Syrian town of Manbij liberated from Islamic States by the SDF. The move came following Turkey’s threats to retake the city from the SDF as the Turkish government said it would not allow the town to remain under Kurdish control.

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on May 09, 2017, 09:20:29 PM
https://www.rt.com/usa/387770-us-weapons-kurds-support/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/387770-us-weapons-kurds-support/)
US to send heavier weapons to Syrian Kurds and reassures NATO ally, Turkey – Pentagon
9 May, 2017

The Department of Defense has confirmed delivery of heavier weapons to US-allied Kurdish fighters, for the upcoming ‘long and difficult’ battle to retake the Syrian city of Raqqa from ISIS. The Pentagon has also offered protection to its NATO ally, Turkey.

“That’s not to say we all walk into the room with exactly the same appreciation of the problem or the path forward,” Mattis told reporters in Denmark after meeting with officials from more than a dozen nations also fighting IS.

“We’re going to sort it out,” Mattis said. “We’ll figure out how we’re going to do it.”

US Secretary of Defense James Mattis is meeting with Turkish officials in Copenhagen, Denmark, on Tuesday to work out differences over the US’s continued support for Syrian Kurds against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) fighters and efforts to retake Raqqa. Turkey considers them an extension of a banned terrorist group on its territory.

The weapons shipment was also confirmed by the White House on Tuesday.

"Yesterday, the president authorized the department of defense to equip Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces as necessary to ensure a clear victory over ISIS in Raqqa," White House press secretary, Sean Spicer said, adding that Washington is "aware of the security concerns of our coalition partners in Turkey."

Spicer said the US "reassures the people and the government of Turkey that the US is committed to preventing additional security risks and protecting our NATO ally."

Back in February, General Joseph Votel, commander of the US forces in the Middle East, after visiting the Raqqa front line told reporters Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces need more than AK-47s weapons in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

“Anti-tank weapons systems to address the vehicle-born IEDS. Certainly mortars would be something of help,” Votel said, according to CBS News. “Things that they would need of a force that’s going to conduct an assault.”

Syrian Kurds have complained that while asking for heavier weapons all the US has supplied are small arms and ammunition.

In March, an RT crew noticed US soldiers embedded with Syrian Kurds just miles away from the Raqqa frontline, at the Tabqa Dam on the Euphrates.

“We managed to capture these US Marines leaving the frontline before being ordered to stop filming,” RT’s Lizzie Phelan said.

The Pentagon has insisted that its forces will be kept away from the frontline and the US is taking an advisory role to “train, advise and assist.” The Obama administration has promised to keep American soldiers out of harm’s way and away from the frontline.

The Trump administration is shifting towards a closer engagement with IS. What started as 50 US Special Forces personnel sent to Syria in 2015, has now grown to 1,000 US special operators, Marines and Army Rangers in Northern Syria, and the number might continue to increase.

Capturing the Tabqa Dam is vital for US-led forces in isolating the area around Raqqa and eventually taking the city. US Marines, along with their military equipment, arrived in northern Syria earlier this year to help the SDF, a multi-ethnic force consisting of Kurdish and Arab fighters to prepare for the offensive.

The northern part of the dam is under the control of Syrian Democratic Forces, backed by American troops. IS terrorists, however, still control the most crucial parts of the dam in the south, which includes the floodgates, the control room and the hydroelectric plant.

A full list of equipment wasn't immediately available, but officials had indicated in recent days that 120mm mortars, machines guns, ammunition and light armored vehicles were among the possibilities. They said the US would not provide artillery or surface-to-air missiles.

While the US officials described no firm timeline, the intention is to provide the new weapons to the Syrian Kurds as soon as possible, AP reported.
Title: U.S. aircraft shoots down a Syrian government jet over northern Syria
Post by: RE on June 18, 2017, 04:19:49 PM
How can the Ruskies let the FSoA do this unpunished?  The Syrians are their allies.

The neo-cons are determined to get WWIII going here.

RE

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/06/18/a-u-s-aircraft-has-shot-down-a-syrian-government-jet-over-northern-syria-pentagon-says/?utm_term=.a9617d013a00 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/06/18/a-u-s-aircraft-has-shot-down-a-syrian-government-jet-over-northern-syria-pentagon-says/?utm_term=.a9617d013a00)

U.S. aircraft shoots down a Syrian government jet over northern Syria, Pentagon says
By Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Kareem Fahim June 18 at 6:21 PM

(https://img.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2014/09/navy-hornets-1024x731.jpg)
A formation of U.S. Navy F-18s leaves after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over northern Iraq. (Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel/U.S. Air Force)

A U.S. strike aircraft shot down a Syrian government fighter jet Sunday shortly after the Syrians bombed U.S.-backed fighters in northern Syria, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The Pentagon said the downing of the aircraft came hours after Syrian loyalist forces attacked U.S.-backed fighters, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the village of Ja’Din, southwest of Raqqa. The rare attack was the first time a U.S. jet has shot down a manned hostile aircraft in more than a decade, and signaled the United States’ sharply intensifying role in Syria’s war.

The incident is the fourth time within a month that the U.S. military has attacked pro-Syrian government forces.
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A statement distributed by the Syrian military said that the aircraft’s lone pilot was killed in the attack and that the jet was carrying out a mission against the Islamic State.

“The attack stresses coordination between the US and ISIS, and it reveals the evil intentions of the US in administrating terrorism and investing it to pass the US-Zionist project in the region,” the Syrian statement said, using an acronym for the Islamic State.

Before it downed the Syrian plane, the U.S. military used a deconfliction channel to communicate with Russia, Syria’s main ally, to prevent the situation from escalating, the Pentagon said.

U.S.-led jets stopped the fighting by flying close to the ground and at a low speed in what is called a “show of force,” the Pentagon said.

About two hours later, despite the calls to stand down and the U.S. presence overhead, a Syrian Su-22 jet attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces, dropping an unknown number of munitions on the U.S.-backed force. Col. John Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command, said that the Syrian aircraft arrived with little warning and that U.S. aircraft nearby tried to hail the Syrian jet after it had dropped its bombs. Thomas also said U.S. forces were in the area but were not directly threatened.

After the hailing attempts, a U.S. F/A-18 shot down the Syrian aircraft “in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces,” the Pentagon said.

Thomas rejected the Syrian government’s claims that the aircraft was bombing the Islamic State, adding that Ja’Din is controlled by Syrian Democratic Forces and that the terrorist group had not been in the area for some time.

The Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of predominantly Arab and Kurdish fighters, is a key proxy force for the U.S.-led coalition in Syria. The fighters were instrumental in retaking towns and villages from the Islamic State in recent months and are fighting to retake the extremist group’s de-facto capital of Raqqa.

Also on Sunday, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps announced that it had launched a rare cross-border missile attack against Islamic State militants in eastern Syria. The missile strikes, launched from Iran, were in retaliation for twin Islamic State attacks earlier this month in Tehran, the Iranian capital, on the parliament and the tomb of the leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution that killed 18 people, according to a statement carried by Iran’s official news agency.

The missile attacks had targeted a militant command center and other facilities in Deir El-Zour, a contested region in eastern Syria, where the United States, Iran, and other powers and proxy forces are fighting for control. The strikes had killed “a large number” of militants and destroyed equipment and weapons, the statement said.

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Earlier this month, a U.S. jet downed a pro-Syrian government drone that dropped an apparent dud munition near U.S.-led coalition forces near the southern Syrian town of At Tanf. U.S.-led forces have increased their presence in Tanf to deter pro-Syrian government forces in the area. Iran-backed Shiite militias, along with other pro-Syrian government forces, have steadily advanced around Tanf despite repeated warnings from the U.S. military.

Tanf is a key town on the Iraq-Syrian border that has been home to a U.S. Special Operations training outpost for months.

“The coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” the Pentagon’s statement said. “The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat.”

Fahim reported from Istanbul. Louisa Loveluck contributed to this report from Beirut.

This article is developing and will be updated.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 18, 2017, 05:42:28 PM
Pretty much the same story from RT. The Su-22 is a pretty old-fashioned plane, the export version of Su-17 from 1970s, and has been dropped from the Russian Air Force.  Iran gave some to Syria, and they have difficulty with maintenance of this complex plane.  The obvious next tactic is Russia to switch on their S-400 air defense system which would signal the intention to shoot down US planes.

The other significant thing is Iran firing missiles from its own territory into eastern Syria to support its troops on the ground.

https://www.rt.com/news/392941-us-led-coalition-downed-syrian-plane/ (https://www.rt.com/news/392941-us-led-coalition-downed-syrian-plane/)
US-led coalition downs Syrian army plane in southern Raqqa
18 Jun, 2017

The US-led coalition has downed a government warplane in southern Syria, the Syrian army and coalition have announced in separate statements. The Syrian military added that the plane’s pilot is now missing.

According to the Syrian statement, the plane was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in the countryside around Raqqa when it was targeted, leading to a crash and the loss of the pilot, who is currently missing.

“This attack comes at a time when the Syrian Arab army and its allies are advancing in the fight against ISIS terrorists who are being defeated in the Syrian desert in more ways than one,” the statement read.

The statement added that although such attacks seek to undermine the Syrian armed forces’ struggle against terrorism, they will not be deterred in fighting for stability and security in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The downing of the Syrian warplane, an Su-22, was confirmed by an official press statement from Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led international task force against IS, which accused the Syrian government of targeting fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia.

“At 6:43pm, a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet,” the statement read.

The statement added that its mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria and that the Coalition does not seek to “fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.”

This is not the first time that the US-led intervention in Syria has led to standoffs and violence against pro-government forces. In September 2016, a coalition airstrike on Deir ez-Zor killed over 60 Syrian soldiers while in April 2017, US President Donald Trump ordered a Tomahawk missile strike on the Shayrat airbase, ostensibly in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons by the Syria government, though no concrete evidence of this has emerged.

Earlier in June, the US deployed several High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in southern Syria, close to the border with Jordan. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the presence of the rocket launchers cannot be justified by a need to fight Islamic State terrorists, as IS forces are not active in the area. Instead, their presence threatens the cooperation between the Syrian government and their partners in Iraq.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 18, 2017, 05:54:22 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/392940-iran-fires-missiles-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/news/392940-iran-fires-missiles-syria/)
Iran fires missiles against 'terrorist bases' in E. Syria in retaliation for Tehran attacks
18 Jun, 2017

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have launched a mid-range ballistic missile attack on terrorist positions in the Syrian province of Deir-ez Zor in retaliation for terrorist attacks in Tehran, Tasnim news agency reports.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards have reportedly launched ground-to-ground mid-range ballistic missiles from the western Iranian provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan into the eastern Syrian province of Deir-ez Zor.

“The spilling of any innocent blood will not go unanswered,” Press TV cited a statement by the Revolutionary Guards as saying.

The Revolutionary Guards targeted the bases and headquarters of terrorists that Iran believes to be responsible for the Tehran attacks. The missiles have reportedly killed large numbers of terrorists and inflicted significant material damage, Tasnim said.

The Revolutionary Guards used Zulfiqar solid fuel ballistic missiles, which have an effective range of 700 kilometers, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.

...

The terrorists targeted the Iranian capital on June 7 in a twin attack, with four armed assailants attacking the country’s parliament while a suicide bomber blew himself up at the Imam Khomeini Mausoleum. Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed 18 people and injured 50 more.

While the Iranian missile strike is a significant military action, its main goal was political, according to Peter Ford, a former UK Ambassador to Syria and Bahrain, who believes the strike will send a clear message to Iran’s enemies in the region.

“Militarily, it’s significant. The strike appears to have taken out quite a number of ISIS fighters and leadership. But the political ramifications are the most important. Saudi Arabia will have received the signal loud and clear,” Ford told RT.

“Saudi Arabia in recent weeks, encouraged by Donald Trump, has thrown down the gauntlet to Tehran and been virtually threatening military moves against Tehran. Well, here’s Tehran’s response: Don’t mess with us, we have a long reach.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 19, 2017, 07:02:14 AM
There, they've done it.  The gauntlet is thrown down.

https://www.rt.com/news/393028-syria-russia-us-plane/ (https://www.rt.com/news/393028-syria-russia-us-plane/)
Russian military halts Syria sky incident prevention interactions with US as of June 19 – Moscow
 19 Jun, 2017

(https://cdn.rt.com/files/2017.06/original/5947b243c36188f94b8b45a2.jpg)
FILE PHOTO: An S-400 air defence missile system at the Hmeymim airbase, Syria. © Dmitriy Vinogradov / Sputnik

The Russian Defense Ministry announced it is halting cooperation with its US counterparts in the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria following the coalition’s downing of a Syrian warplane.

The ministry has demanded a thorough investigation by the US military command into the incident with the Syrian government military jet, with the results to be shared with the Russian side.

“In the areas of combat missions of Russian air fleet in Syrian skies, any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets,” the Russian Ministry of Defense stated.

Downing the military jet within Syrian airspace “cynically” violates the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic, Russian military said.

The actions of the US Air Force are in fact “military aggression” against Syria, the statement adds.

The ministry emphasized that Russian warplanes were on a mission in Syrian airspace during the US-led coalition’s attack on the Syrian Su-22, while the coalition failed to use the communication line to prevent an incident.

“The command of the coalition forces did not use the existing communication channel between the air commands of Al Udeid Airbase (in Qatar) and the Khmeimim Airbase to prevent incidents in Syrian airspace.”

The ministry considers the move “a conscious failure to comply with the obligations under the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria,” and is thus halting cooperation with the US within the memorandum framework as of June 19, the statement concluded.

Earlier Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov condemned the attack, branding it an act of aggression which actually helped the terrorists the US is fighting against.

The US-led coalition downed the Syrian government warplane on Sunday. At the moment of the attack the jet was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) some 40km from Raqqa, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The pilot ejected from the plane above IS-controlled territory and is still missing.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on June 19, 2017, 07:13:43 AM
There, they've done it.  The gauntlet is thrown down.

Question is, will the NATO & FSoA neo-con warmongers have the cojones to pull this stunt AGAIN?  If they do, will Vlad the Impaler take out the aircraft doing the dirty work?

Moreover, if they have ceased cooperation, will Vlad pre-emptively take out a NATO aircraft that violates Syrian airspace?

I will say this.  Once either the Ruskies knock down an FSoA jet or vica-versa, it's game over.  There's no stepping back from the precipice after that.  Light up the smoke of your choice, crack open a bottle of 50 year old Glenlivet, sit on the porch and watch the Nukes come in for a landing.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 19, 2017, 07:40:09 AM
Quote
will Vlad pre-emptively take out a NATO aircraft that violates Syrian airspace?

The statement by the Russian MoD is very clear - all aircraft west of the Euphrates River, which includes Raqqa, will be "air targets".  If Trump does nothing the Turks will quickly mop up the Kurds and the entire operation will have been a failure. So he will have to meet with Putin and work out terms for "Peace with Honour".
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on June 19, 2017, 07:51:31 AM
Quote
will Vlad pre-emptively take out a NATO aircraft that violates Syrian airspace?

The statement by the Russian MoD is very clear - all aircraft west of the Euphrates River, which includes Raqqa, will be "air targets".  If Trump does nothing the Turks will quickly mop up the Kurds and the entire operation will have been a failure. So he will have to meet with Putin and work out terms for "Peace with Honour".

I don't think Trumpovetsky has any say in this whatsoever.  He couldn't meet with Vlad the Impaler to make a deal, he's already under too much scrutiny for collusion with the Ruskies.  The issue is whether the Deep State will order another incursion into Syrian airspace and whether the Ruskies will blow it out of the sky.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Surly1 on June 19, 2017, 09:50:04 AM
Quote
will Vlad pre-emptively take out a NATO aircraft that violates Syrian airspace?

The statement by the Russian MoD is very clear - all aircraft west of the Euphrates River, which includes Raqqa, will be "air targets".  If Trump does nothing the Turks will quickly mop up the Kurds and the entire operation will have been a failure. So he will have to meet with Putin and work out terms for "Peace with Honour".

I don't think Trumpovetsky has any say in this whatsoever.  He couldn't meet with Vlad the Impaler to make a deal, he's already under too much scrutiny for collusion with the Ruskies.  The issue is whether the Deep State will order another incursion into Syrian airspace and whether the Ruskies will blow it out of the sky.

RE

Thought I'd throw this into the discussion for extra flava. Speculative, but interesting in the context of events on the ground in Syria.
"Go along, comrade, or I release pee tape."

Vladimir Putin is about to have no further use for Donald Trump (http://www.palmerreport.com/opinion/vladimir-putin-no-use-donald-trump/3514/)

(http://www.palmerreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/vladimir-putin-donald-trump-150x150.jpg)
We may never know for certain what Vladimir Putin’s plan was for Donald Trump in the 2016 race. Was Putin merely propping up the Trump campaign as a wedge for ensuring Hillary Clinton would enter office in a weakened position? Was Putin trying to make sure Trump won, so he could have a useful puppet in the White House? But whatever Putin’s original plan, it’s been blown to smithereens – and he’s about to have no further use for Donald Trump at all.
 
There are only two useful things Vladimir Putin could have gotten out of a Donald Trump presidency. The first is the destabilization of the United States government, forcing Americans to focus on their own internal problems, to the point that they wouldn’t be able to pay much attention to what Russia might do in places like Ukraine. While Putin succeeded in plunging the U.S. into internal chaos by putting the unstable Trump in power, it’s also backfired by putting more American focus on Russia than ever – and it’ll remain that way for as long as Trump is in office. There’s a reason Putin hasn’t yet invaded mainland Ukraine; he knows the heat is on him. But this isn’t even the trigger point.
 
Putin’s second and more direct benefit from a Donald Trump presidency was supposed to be the lifting of all U.S. sanctions against Russia, which would have been profoundly profitable for Putin and his oligarchs. But Trump has been such a ham handed disaster from the start, and his Russia scandal has played out so startlingly, he never has managed to get into position where he could successfully lift those sanctions. Now that the Senate has voted 98-to-2 to take away Trump’s ability to lift Russian sanctions, we’re just a veto-proof House vote away from Putin never getting his sanctions lifted under Trump.
 
In fact, at this point Vladimir Putin probably has better odds of getting those sanctions lifted if someone else is President of the United States who isn’t seen as a Russian puppet. So once the upcoming House vote makes it official that Donald Trump will never be able to lift sanctions on Russia, it’ll force Putin to do some soul searching about whether he wants to keep Trump in place, or whether he wants to drop some kompromat on Trump and take his chances with someone further down the line of succession.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 19, 2017, 08:16:42 PM
US responds: we will "reposition aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrews given known threats in the battlespace", which presumably means they will stay east (and south) of the Euphrates River.  They could still use stand-off missiles to protect their proxies on the ground to good effect.

(https://doomsteaddiner.net/palloy/images/Syria.jpg)

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-19/pentagon-responds-us-pilots-will-defend-themselves-if-attacked-russians (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-19/pentagon-responds-us-pilots-will-defend-themselves-if-attacked-russians)
Pentagon Responds: "US Pilots Will Defend Themselves If Attacked By Russians"
Tyler Durden
Jun 19, 2017

One wouldn't know it by looking at the market, but the biggest developing story today was Russia's threat to intercept any aircraft - including US - flying in the area of operations of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria, and "be followed as targets" after yesterday's downing by a US F-18 of a Syrian Su-22 fighter jet. Moments ago the US responded to this unmistakable deterioration in relations between the two nations, when a Pentagon spokesman said U.S. pilots over Syria will defend themselves if attacked by Russians.

"We are aware of the Russian statements," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday morning quoted by WashEx. "We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened," Davis said, seemingly unaware that shooting down a sovereign nation's plane above its own territory is exactly what "seeking a conflict" looks like. In a follow up statement this afternoon, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the US will "retain the right of self-defense in Syria."

Separately, Col. Ryan Dillon, chief U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said "coalition aircraft continue to conduct operations throughout Syria, targeting ISIS forces and providing air support for coalition partner forces on the ground."

Unlike Davis, Dillon appeared to indicate the U.S. will avoid the parts of Syria where Russia said U.S. planes would be tracked as potential targets or providing additional airpower to counter threats.

"As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to reposition aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrews given known threats in the battlespace," Dillon said.He added that coalition aircraft will continue operations against Islamic State targets “while ensuring the safety of our aircrew given known threats in the battlespace,” he said.

"I'm sure that because of this neither the U.S. nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft," he said, according to state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. "That's why there's no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft."

Earlier, the Russian defense ministry called the US attack on a Syrian jet “a cynical violation of Syria’s sovereignty” and said Russia was halting so-called deconfliction coordination with the U.S. aimed at averting air incidents.

Menawhile, Russia doubled down after Viktor Ozerov, the Russian parliament's, defense committee’s chairman, said U.S.-led aircraft in Syria may face “destruction” if they threaten the lives of Russian pilot. While Russia hopes it won’t have to take such action, “we won’t allow anyone to do what happened to the Syrian plane to our pilots,” he said.

Frants Klintsevich, deputy head of the defense committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament, said the the Defense Ministry’s response doesn’t mean there’ll be war with the U.S., though it’s a “pretty serious” signal that Russia won’t accept acts of aggression against Syria.

On the other hand, “lawmakers have no influence” on the Kremlin’s policy toward Syria and “all Russian actions, not rhetoric, show that Putin is trying now to avoid escalation with the West,” said Ruslan Pukhov, head of the Center of Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in Moscow. To be sure, Russia previously vowed to halt deconfliction coordination in April, after the U.S. bombed a Syrian airbase in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces. But the U.S.-Russian communications to avoid clashes in the skies over Syria resumed after only a few days.

Whether relations between the US and Russia normalize in the coming days, however, suddenly the Middle-east is a far more dangerous place even without this latest escalation, following not only the Qatar crisis, but the just reported alleged terrorist attempt by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on an offshore Saudi oil field. As such, avoiding the spark that launches the next conflict is becoming increasingly more difficult.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 20, 2017, 01:09:30 AM
Well, it has certainly put the fear into the Australian Air Force.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-20/raaf-suspends-syria-missions-after-shoot-down-of-syrian-bomber/8635284 (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-20/raaf-suspends-syria-missions-after-shoot-down-of-syrian-bomber/8635284)
Syria war: RAAF temporarily halts missions after US jet shoots down Syrian bomber
Andrew Green
20 June 2017

Australia has temporarily halted air operations over Syria after the United States downed a Syrian military jet that dropped bombs near US-led Coalition fighters in western Raqqa.

The suspension comes amid increasing tension between the US and Russia, with Russian officials describing the incident as a dangerous escalation.

A Defence spokesman has told the ABC force protection was regularly reviewed and combat missions were continuing over Iraq.

"Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria and a decision on the resumption of ADF air operations in Syria will be made in due course," a spokesman said.

A written statement from the US coalition in Iraq said a US F-18 Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Government SU-22 after it dropped bombs near soldiers from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The shoot-down was near Tabqah — a Syrian town in an area that has been a week-long focus of fighting against Islamic State group militants by the SDF, as they surround the city of Raqqa and attempt to retake it.

The US military statement said it acted in "collective self-defence" of its partner forces and the US did not seek a fight with the Syrian Government or its Russian supporters.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 20, 2017, 03:16:44 PM
Its getting pretty crowded in the skies over Syria, still, don't worry - "our pilots can take care of themselves".

https://www.rt.com/usa/393219-us-aircraft-drone-syria/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/393219-us-aircraft-drone-syria/)
US jets shoot down ‘Iranian drone’ in Syria - coalition
20 Jun, 2017

An Iranian-made drone was shot down by a US F-15 fighter jet in southern Syria, near At Tanf, the US-led coalition said. It is the fifth time in the past month the US has struck at forces allied with the Syrian government in the area.

An armed Shaheed-129 UAV “displayed hostile intent and advanced on Coalition forces” at 12:30 am local time on Tuesday, the coalition said in a statement. The drone was observed in the same area where another UAV was shot down on June 8.

Tanf is the town on Syrian border with Jordan where US troops are training Syrian rebels, officially described as “partner ground forces.”

The coalition “does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat,” the statement said.

On Sunday, US aircraft shot down a Syrian government jet that was bombing Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) positions south of Raqqa, in eastern Syria.

In response, Russia announced its air defenses would track all coalition targets west of the Euphrates, and suspend the “deconfliction” hotline. Moscow has accused the US of not using the hotline to prevent the Raqqa incident.

While the US maintains the hotline is still operational, the coalition said it will “not allow pro-regime aircraft to threaten or approach in close proximity to Coalition and partnered forces.”

Hostility towards coalition and partner forces “conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated,” the coalition said. There is no IS-controlled territory in contact with the US-backed forces at Tanf, however.

Reacting to Russia’s warning, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has suspended flights over Syria.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 21, 2017, 07:27:28 AM
I wish they would stop playing these silly Top Gun games at a time like this.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-21/nato-jet-menaces-aircraft-carrying-russian-defense-minister (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-21/nato-jet-menaces-aircraft-carrying-russian-defense-minister)
Russian, NATO Jets In Near Standoff After F-16 Buzzes Defense Minister's Airplane
Tyler Durden
Jun 21, 2017

http://www.youtube.com/v/MCROh09OPzY

A day after a Russian fighter allegedly flew within 5 feet of a US reconnaissance plane traveling over the Baltic Sea, Reuters reports that a NATO F-16 fighter jet returned the favor when it tried to improperly approach a plane carrying the Russian defense minister. The plane was traveling to the city of Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave along the Baltic coast, where Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was scheduled to discuss security issues with defense officials on Wednesday. The NATO aircraft was warded off by a Russian Su-27 jet, according to RT.

In an accounting of the incident, Reuters notes that one of the Russian fighter jets escorting Shoigu's plane had inserted itself between the defense minister's plane and the NATO fighter and "tilted its wings from side to side to show the weapons it was carrying, Russian agencies said." After that the F-16 promptly left the area.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that he has no information about the incident.

    “It’s probably better to ask the Defense Ministry,” Peskov said in answer to journalists’ questions.

The latest provocative maneuver represents yet another escalation of tensions between the US and Russia. On Monday, Russia suspended cooperation with the US in Syria under the "memorandum of incident prevention in Syrian skies", warning that its missile defense would intercept any aircraft traveling in Russia’s area of operation after a US fighter jet shot down a Syrian regime aircraft on Sunday.

Russia slammed the US for shooting down the jet, calling the attack an “act of aggression" and claiming that the move benefited terrorists in the area. The Syrian regime says its jet was pursuing a fleeing ISIS convoy around the time it was shot down.  US officials claimed they tried to contact its Russia counterparts via an established “de-confliction line," though Russia has denied this, saying that if the US had reached out, the incident could’ve been avoided.

A US jet also downed a pro-regime drone on Monday in what Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy described as a “dangerous escalation" of tensions between the US and pro-Syrian regime powers like Iran and Russia.   “I think we’re getting closer and closer to open conflict between Iran and Russia and the American public need to know that we are moving very fast towards what could be another war in the Middle East – something Donald Trump promised he wouldn’t do when he ran for office.”

As RT notes, encounters between US and Russian warplanes over the Baltic are becoming more frequent. A Russian fighter jet intercepted a small group of US warplanes, including Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker military refueling aircraft, two B-1 bombers and one B-52, during a BALTOPS (Baltic Operations) annual training exercise on June 10.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 23, 2017, 03:54:44 PM
http://thesaker.is/the-latest-escalation-in-syria-what-is-really-going-on/ (http://thesaker.is/the-latest-escalation-in-syria-what-is-really-going-on/)
The latest escalation in Syria – what is really going on?
The Saker
June 23, 2017

By now most of you have heard the latest bad news of out Syria: on June 18th a US F/A-18E Super Hornet (1999) used a AIM-120 AMRAAM (1991) to shoot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 (1970). Two days later, June 20th, a US F-15E Strike Eagle shot down an Iranian IRGC Shahed 129 drone. The excuse used each time was that there was a threat to US and US supported forces. The reality is, of course, that the US are simply trying to stop the advance of the Syrian army. This was thus a typical American “show of force”. Except that, of course, shooting a 47 year old Soviet era Su-22 fighter-bomber is hardly an impressive feat. Neither is shooting a unmanned drone. There is a pattern here, however, and that pattern is that all US actions so far have been solely for show: the basically failed bombing of the Syria military airbase, the bombing of the Syrian army column, the shooting down of the Syrian fighter-bomber and of the Iranian drone – all these actions have no real military value. They do, however, have a provocative value as each time all the eyes turn to Russia to see if the Russians will respond or not.

Russia did respond this time again, but in a very ambiguous and misunderstood manner. The Russians announced, amongst other measure that from now on “any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets” which I reported as “Russian MoD declares it will shoot down any aircraft flying west of the Euphrates river”. While I gave the exact Russian quote, I did not explain why I paraphrased the Russian words the way I did. Now is a good time to explain this.

First, here is the exact original Russian text:

    «В районах выполнения боевых задач российской авиацией в небе Сирии любые воздушные объекты, включая самолёты и беспилотные аппараты международной коалиции, обнаруженные западнее реки Евфрат, будут приниматься на сопровождение российскими наземными и воздушными средствами противовоздушной обороны в качестве воздушных целей»

A literal translation would be:

    “In areas of the combat missions of Russian aviation in the skies of Syria any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle of the international coalition discovered to the West of the Euphrates river, will be tracked by Russian ground based an airborne assets as air targets”

So what does this exactly mean in technical-military terms?

A quick look inside a US fighter’s cockpit

When an F/A-18 flies over Syria the on-board emission detectors (called radar warning receivers or RWR) inform the pilot of the kind of radar signals the aircraft is detecting. Over Syria that means that the pilot would see a lot of search radars looking in all directions trying to get a complete picture of what is happening in the Syrian skies. The US pilot will be informed that a certain number of Syrian S-300 and Russian S-400 batteries are scanning the skies and most probably see him. So far so good. If there are deconfliction zones or any type of bilateral agreements to warn each other about planned sorties then that kind of radar emissions are no big deal. Likewise US radars (ground, sea or air based) are also scanning the skies and “seeing” the Russian Aerospace Forces’ aircraft on their radars and the Russians know that. In this situation neither side is treating anybody as “air targets”. When a decision is made to treat an object as an “air target” a completely different type of radar signal is used and a much narrower energy beam is directed at the target which can now be tracked and engaged. The pilot is, of course, immediately informed of this. At this point the pilot is in a very uncomfortable position: he knows that he is being tracked, but he has no way of knowing if a missile has already been launched against him or not. Depending on a number of factors, an AWACS might be able to detect a missile launch, but this might not be enough and it might also be too late.

The kind of missiles fired by S-300/S-400 batteries are extremely fast, over 4’000mph (four thousand miles per hour) which means that a missile launched as far away as 120 miles will reach you in 2 minutes or that a missile launched 30 miles away will reach you in 30 seconds. And just to make things worse, the S-300 can use a special radar mode called “track via missile” where the radar emits a pulse towards the target whose reflection is then received not by the ground based radar, but by the rapidly approaching missile itself, which then sends its reading back to the ground radar which then sends guidance corrections back to the missile. Why is that bad for the aircraft? Because there is no way to tell from the emissions whether a missile has been launched and is already approaching at over 4’000mph or not. The S-300 and S-400 also have other modes, including the Seeker Aided Ground Guidance (SAGG) where the missile also computes a guidance solution (not just the ground radar) and then the two are compared and a Home On Jam (HOJ) mode when the jammed missile then homes directly on the source of the jamming (such as an onboard jamming pod). Furthermore, there are other radar modes available such as the Ground Aided Inertial (GAI) which guides the missile in the immediate proximity of the target where the missile switches on its own radar just before hitting the target. Finally, there is some pretty good evidence that the Russians have perfected a complex datalink system which allows them to fuse into one all the signals they acquire from their missiles, airborne aircraft (fighter, interceptor or AWACS) and ground radars and that means that, in theory, if a US aircraft is outside the flight envelope (reach) of the ground based missiles the signals acquired by the ground base radars could be used to fire an air-to-air missile at the US aircraft (we know that their MiG-31s are capable of such engagements, so I don’t see why their much more recent Su-30/Su-35 could not). This would serve to further complicate the situational awareness of the pilot as a missile could be coming from literally any direction. At this point the only logical reaction would be for the US pilot to inform his commanders and get out, fast. Sure, in theory, he could simply continue his mission, but that would be very hard, especially if he suspects that the Syrians might have other, mobile, air defense on the way to, or near, his intended target.

Just try to imagine this: you are flying, in total illegality, over hostile territory and preparing to strike a target when suddenly your radar warning receiver goes off and tells you “you got 30 seconds or (much?) less to decide whether there is a 300lbs (150kg) warhead coming at you at 4000mph (6400kmh) or not”. How would you feel if it was you sitting in that cockpit? Would you still be thinking about executing your planned attack?

The normal US strategy is to achieve what is called “air superiority/supremacy” by completely suppressing enemy air defenses and taking control of the skies. If I am not mistaken, the last time the US fighters operated in a meaningfully contested air space was in Vietnam…

By the way, these technologies are not uniquely Russian, they are well known in the West, for example the US Patriot SAM also uses TVM, but the Russians have very nicely integrated them into one formidable air defense system.

The bottom line is this: once the US aircraft is “treated like a target” he has no way of knowing if the Syrians, or the Russians, are just being cheeky or whether has has seconds left to live. Put differently, “treating like a target” is tantamount to somebody putting a gun to your head and letting you guess if/when he will pull the trigger.

So yes, the Russian statement most definitely was a “threat to shoot down”!

Next, a look into the Russian side of the equation

To understand why the Russians used the words “threat like an air target” rather than “will shoot down” you need to remember that Russia is still the weaker party here. There is nothing worse than not delivering on a threat. If the Russians had said “we will shoot down” and then had not done so, they would have made an empty threat. Instead, they said “will treat as an air target” because that leaves them an “out” should they decided not to pull the trigger. However, for the US Navy or Air Force pilot, these considerations are all irrelevant once his detectors report to him that he is being “painted” with the beam of an engagement radar!

So what the Russians did is to greatly unnerve the US crews without actually having to shoot down anybody. It is not a coincidence that the Americans almost immediately stop flying West of the Euphrates river while the Australians officially decided to bow out from any further air sorties.

It cannot be overemphasized that the very last thing Russia needs is to shoot down a US aircraft over Syria which is exactly what some elements of the Pentagon seem to want. Not only is Russia the weaker side in this conflict, but the Russians also understand the wider political consequences of what would happen if they took the dramatic step to shoot down a US aircraft: a dream come true for the Neocons and a disaster for everybody else.

A quick look from the US Neoconistan and the quest for a “tepid war”

The dynamic in Syria is not fundamentally different from the dynamic in the Ukraine: the Neocons know that they have failed to achieve their primary objective: to control the entire country. They also know that their various related financial schemes have collapsed. Finally, they are fully aware that they owe this defeat to Russia and, especially, to Vladimir Putin. So they fell back on plan B. Plan B is almost as good as Plan A (full control) because Plan B has much wider consequences. Plan B is also very simple: trigger a major crisis with Russia but stay short from a full-scale war. Ideally, Plan B should revolve around a “firm” “reaction” to the Russian “aggression” and a “defense” of the US “allies” in the region. In practical terms this simply means: get the Russians to openly send forces into Novorussia or get the Russians to take military actions against the US or its allies in Syria. Once you get this you can easily see that the latest us attacks in Syria have a minor local purpose – to scare or slow down the Syrians- and a major global purpose – to bait the Russians into using forces against the US or an ally. It bears repeating here that what the Neocons really want is what I call a “tepid” war with Russia: an escalation of tensions to levels even not seen in the Cold War, but not a full-scale “hot” WWIII either. A tepid war would finally re-grant NATO at least some kind of purpose (to protect “our European friends and allies” from the “Russian threat”): the already terminally spineless EU politicians would all be brought into an even more advanced state of subservience, the military budgets would go even higher and Trump would be able to say that he made “America” “great” again. And, who knows, maybe the Russian people would *finally* rise against Putin, you never know! (They wouldn’t – but the Neocons have never been deterred from their goofy theories by such minor and altogether irrelevant things as facts or logic).

[Sidebar: I noticed this time again that each time the US tries to bait Russia into some kind of harsh reaction and Russia declines to take the bait, this triggers in immediate surge into the number of comments which vehemently complain that Russia is acting like a pussy, that Putin is a fake, that he is “in cahoots” with the US and/or Israel and that the Russians are weak or that they have “sold out”. I am getting a sense that we are dealing with paid US PSYOP operatives whose mission is to use the social media to try to put the Kremlin under pressure with these endless accusations of weakness and selling-out. Since I have no interest in rewarding these folks in any way, I mostly send their recriminations where they belong: to the trash]

Does the Russian strategy work?

To reply to this, don’t look at what the Russians do or do not do in the immediate aftermath of a US provocation. Take a higher level look and just see what happens in the mid to long term. Just like in a game of chess, taking the Gambit is not always the correct strategy.

I submit that to evaluate whether Putin’s policies are effective or not, to see whether he has “sold out” or “caved in” you need to, for example, look at the situation in Syria (or the Ukraine, for that matter) as it was 2 years ago and then compare with what it is today. Or, alternatively, look at the situation as it is today and come back to re-visit it in 6 months.

One huge difference between the western culture and the way the Russians (or the Chinese for that matter) look at geostrategy is that westerners always look at everything in the short term and tactical level. This is basically the single main reason why both Napoleon and Hitler lost their wars against Russia: an almost exclusive focus on the short term and tactical. In contrast, the Russians are the undisputed masters of operational art (in a purely military sense) and, just like the Chinese, they tend to always keep their eyes on the long-term horizon. Just look at the Turkish downing of a Russian Su-24: everybody bemoaned the lack of “forceful” reaction from Moscow. And then, six months later – what do we have? Exactly.

The modern western culture is centered on various forms of instant gratification, and that is also true for geopolitics. If the other guy does something, western leaders always deliver a “firm” response. They like to “send messages” and they firmly believe that doing something, no matter how symbolic, is better than even the *appearance* of doing nothing. As for the appearance of doing nothing, it is universally interpreted as a sign of weakness. Russians don’t think that way. They don’t care about instant gratification, they care only about one thing: victory. And if that means to look weak, that is fine. From a Russian perspective, sending “messages” or taking symbolic actions (like all 4 of the recent US attacks in Syria) are not signs of strength, but signs of weakness. Generally, the Russians don’t like to use force which they consider inherently dangerous. But when they do, they never threaten or warn, they take immediate and pragmatic (non-symbolic) action which gets them closer to a specific goal.

Conclusion

The Russian reaction to the latest US attack on Syria was not designed to maximize the approval of the many Internet armchair strategists. It was designed to maximize the discomfort of the US lead “coalition” in Syria while minimizing the risks for Russia. It is precisely by using an ambiguous language which civilians would interpret in one way, and military personnel in another, that the Russians introduced a very disruptive element of unpredictability into the planning of US air operations in Syria.

The Russians are not without they own faults and bad habits and they make mistakes (recognizing the Ukronazi junta in Kiev after the coup was probably such a mistake), but it is important to differentiate between their real weaknesses and mistakes and their very carefully designed strategies. Just because they don’t act in the way their putative “supporters” in the West would does not mean that they have “caved in”, “blinked first” or any other such nonsense. The first step towards understanding how the Russians function is to stop expecting that they would act just like Americans would.

The Saker

PS: by the way, the Syrian pilot shot down made it out alive.  Here is a photo of him following his rescue by Syrian special forces:

(http://dxczjjuegupb.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Rescued-Syrian-pilot.jpg)

UPDATE: I am getting several messages telling me that the pilot has not been rescued by government forces but that he is being held prisoner by the “Syrian Democratic Forces“.  Caveat emptor, as always.
Title: Trump‘s Red Line
Post by: RE on June 27, 2017, 01:38:54 AM
https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905578/Trump-s-Red-Line.html?wtmc=socialmedia.twitter.shared.web (https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905578/Trump-s-Red-Line.html?wtmc=socialmedia.twitter.shared.web)

Trump‘s Red Line
Von Seymour M. Hersh | Stand: 25.06.2017 | Lesedauer: 24 Minuten

(https://www.welt.de/img/politik/ausland/mobile165904077/4611622787-ci23x11-w1280/Schiff-cefx-raster-blauer.jpg)
Retaliation: Tomahawk missiles from the "USS Porter" on the way to the Shayrat Air Base on April 6, 2017

Quelle: picture alliance / Robert S. Pri/dpa Picture-Alliance / Robert S.
President Donald Trump ignored important intelligence reports when he decided to attack Syria after he saw pictures of dying children. Seymour M. Hersh investigated the case of the alleged Sarin gas attack.
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On April 6, United States President Donald Trump authorized an early morning Tomahawk missile strike on Shayrat Air Base in central Syria in retaliation for what he said was a deadly nerve agent attack carried out by the Syrian government two days earlier in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Trump issued the order despite having been warned by the U.S. intelligence community that it had found no evidence that the Syrians had used a chemical weapon.

The available intelligence made clear that the Syrians had targeted a jihadist meeting site on April 4 using a Russian-supplied guided bomb equipped with conventional explosives. Details of the attack,  including information on its so-called high-value targets, had been provided by the Russians days in advance to American and allied military officials in Doha, whose mission is to coordinate all U.S., allied, Syrian and Russian Air Force operations in the region.

Some American military and intelligence officials were especially distressed by the president's determination to ignore the evidence. "None of this makes any sense," one officer told colleagues upon learning of the decision to bomb. "We KNOW that there was no chemical attack ... the Russians are furious. Claiming we have the real intel and know the truth ... I guess it didn't matter whether we elected Clinton or Trump.“

Within hours of the April 4 bombing, the world’s media was saturated with photographs and videos from Khan Sheikhoun. Pictures of dead and dying victims, allegedly suffering from the symptoms of nerve gas poisoning, were uploaded to social media by local activists, including the White Helmets, a first responder group known for its close association with the Syrian opposition.

(https://www.welt.de/img/politik/ausland/mobile140770042/8841628477-ci23x11-w780/ONLINE.jpg)
Seymour M. Hersh exposed the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam 1968. He uncovered the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and many other stories about war and politics
Quelle: Getty Images/Getty Images North America

The provenance of the photos was not clear and no international observers have yet inspected the site, but the immediate popular assumption worldwide was that this was a deliberate use of the nerve agent sarin, authorized by President Bashar Assad of Syria. Trump endorsed that assumption by issuing a statement within hours of the attack, describing Assad’s "heinous actions" as being a consequence of the Obama administration’s "weakness and irresolution" in addressing what he said was Syria’s past use of chemical weapons.

To the dismay of many senior members of his national security team, Trump could not be swayed over the next 48 hours of intense briefings and decision-making. In a series of interviews, I learned of the total disconnect between the president and many of his military advisers and intelligence officials, as well as officers on the ground in the region who had an entirely different understanding of the nature of Syria’s attack on Khan Sheikhoun. I was provided with evidence of that disconnect, in the form of transcripts of real-time communications, immediately following the Syrian attack on April 4. In an important pre-strike process known as deconfliction, U.S. and Russian officers routinely supply one another with advance details of planned flight paths and target coordinates, to ensure that there is no risk of collision or accidental encounter (the Russians speak on behalf of the Syrian military). This information is supplied daily to the American AWACS surveillance planes that monitor the flights once airborne. Deconfliction’s success and importance can be measured by the fact that there has yet to be one collision, or even a near miss, among the high-powered supersonic American, Allied, Russian and Syrian fighter bombers.
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Russian and Syrian Air Force officers gave details of the carefully planned flight path to and from Khan Shiekhoun on April 4 directly, in English, to the deconfliction monitors aboard the AWACS plane, which was on patrol near the Turkish border, 60 miles or more to the north.

The Syrian target at Khan Sheikhoun, as shared with the Americans at Doha, was depicted as a two-story cinder-block building in the northern part of town. Russian intelligence, which is shared when necessary with Syria and the U.S. as part of their joint fight against jihadist groups, had established that a high-level meeting of jihadist leaders was to take place in the building, including representatives of Ahrar al-Sham and the al-Qaida-affiliated group formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra. The two groups had recently joined forces, and controlled the town and surrounding area. Russian intelligence depicted the cinder-block building as a command and control center that housed a grocery and other commercial premises on its ground floor with other essential shops nearby, including a fabric shop and an electronics store.

"The rebels control the population by controlling the distribution of goods that people need to live – food, water, cooking oil, propane gas, fertilizers for growing their crops, and insecticides to protect the crops," a senior adviser to the American intelligence community, who has served in senior positions in the Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency, told me. The basement was used as storage for rockets, weapons and ammunition, as well as products that could be distributed for free to the community, among them medicines and chlorine-based decontaminants for cleansing the bodies of the dead before burial. The meeting place – a regional headquarters – was on the floor above. “It was an established meeting place,” the senior adviser said. “A long-time facility that would have had security, weapons, communications, files and a map center.” The Russians were intent on confirming their intelligence and deployed a drone for days above the site to monitor communications and develop what is known in the intelligence community as a POL – a pattern of life. The goal was to take note of those going in and out of the building, and to track weapons being moved back and forth, including rockets and ammunition.

One reason for the Russian message to Washington about the intended target was to ensure that any CIA asset or informant who had managed to work his way into the jihadist leadership was forewarned not to attend the meeting. I was told that the Russians passed the warning directly to the CIA. “They were playing the game right,” the senior adviser said. The Russian guidance noted that the jihadist meeting was coming at a time of acute pressure for the insurgents: Presumably Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham were desperately seeking a path forward in the new political climate. In the last few days of March, Trump and two of his key national security aides – Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley – had made statements acknowledging that, as the New York Times put it, the White House “has abandoned the goal” of pressuring Assad "to leave power, marking a sharp departure from the Middle East policy that guided the Obama administration for more than five years.” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told a press briefing on March 31 that “there is a political reality that we have to accept,” implying that Assad was there to stay.

Russian and Syrian intelligence officials, who coordinate operations closely with the American command posts, made it clear that the planned strike on Khan Sheikhoun was special because of the high-value target. “It was a red-hot change. The mission was out of the ordinary – scrub the sked,” the senior adviser told me. “Every operations officer in the region" – in the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, CIA and NSA – “had to know there was something going on. The Russians gave the Syrian Air Force a guided bomb and that was a rarity. They’re skimpy with their guided bombs and rarely share them with the Syrian Air Force. And the Syrians assigned their best pilot to the mission, with the best wingman.” The advance intelligence on the target, as supplied by the Russians, was given the highest possible score inside the American community.

The Execute Order governing U.S. military operations in theater, which was issued by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,  provide instructions that demarcate the relationship between the American and Russian forces operating in Syria. “It’s like an ops order – ‘Here’s what you are authorized to do,’” the adviser said. “We do not share operational control with the Russians. We don’t do combined operations with them, or activities directly in support of one of their operations.  But coordination is permitted. We keep each other apprised of what’s happening and within this package is the mutual exchange of intelligence.  If we get a hot tip that could help the Russians do their mission, that’s coordination; and the Russians do the same for us. When we get a hot tip about a command and control facility,” the adviser added, referring to the target in Khan Sheikhoun, “we do what we can to help them act on it." “This was not a chemical weapons strike,” the adviser said. “That’s a fairy tale. If so, everyone involved in transferring, loading and arming the weapon – you’ve got to make it appear like a regular 500-pound conventional bomb – would be wearing Hazmat protective clothing in case of a leak. There would be very little chance of survival without such gear. Military grade sarin includes additives designed to increase toxicity and lethality. Every batch that comes out is maximized for death. That is why it is made. It is odorless and invisible and death can come within a minute. No cloud. Why produce a weapon that people can run away from?”

(https://www.welt.de/img/politik/ausland/mobile165904079/3391622787-ci23x11-w780/Syria-Civil-War-Worst-Chemical-Attack-in-Years-Scores-Killed-10.jpg)
This photograph by the Syrian opposition (Edlib Media Center) shows the aftermath of a strike against the town of Khan Sheikhoun. A large building was hit, but it’s unclear were the strike took place exactly
Quelle: picture alliance / ZUMAPRESS.com/Shalan Stewart

The target was struck at 6:55 a.m. on April 4, just before midnight in Washington. A Bomb Damage Assessment (BDA) by the U.S. military later determined that the heat and force of the 500-pound Syrian bomb triggered  a series of secondary explosions that could have generated a huge toxic cloud that began to spread over the town, formed by the release of the fertilizers, disinfectants and other goods stored in the basement, its effect magnified by the dense morning air, which trapped the fumes close to the ground. According to intelligence estimates, the senior adviser said, the strike itself killed up to four jihadist leaders, and an unknown number of drivers and security aides. There is no confirmed count of the number of civilians killed by the poisonous gases that were released by the secondary explosions, although opposition activists reported that there were more than 80 dead, and outlets such as CNN have put the figure as high as 92. A team from Médecins Sans Frontières, treating victims from Khan Sheikhoun at a clinic 60 miles to the north, reported that “eight patients showed symptoms – including constricted pupils, muscle spasms and involuntary defecation – which are consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent such as sarin gas or similar compounds.” MSF also visited other hospitals that had received victims and found that patients there “smelled of bleach, suggesting that they had been exposed to chlorine.” In other words, evidence suggested that there was more than one chemical responsible for the symptoms observed, which would not have been the case if the Syrian Air Force – as opposition activists insisted – had dropped a sarin bomb, which has no percussive or ignition power to trigger secondary explosions. The range of symptoms is, however, consistent with the release of a mixture of chemicals, including chlorine and the organophosphates used in many fertilizers, which can cause neurotoxic effects similar to those of sarin.

The internet swung into action within hours, and gruesome photographs of the victims flooded television networks and YouTube. U.S. intelligence was tasked with establishing what had happened. Among the pieces of information received was an intercept of Syrian communications collected before the attack by an allied nation. The intercept, which had a particularly strong effect on some of Trump’s aides, did not mention nerve gas or sarin, but it did quote a Syrian general discussing a “special” weapon and the need for a highly skilled pilot to man the attack plane. The reference, as those in the American intelligence community understood, and many of the inexperienced aides and family members close to Trump may not have, was to a Russian-supplied bomb with its built-in guidance system. “If you’ve already decided it was a gas attack, you will then inevitably read the talk about a special weapon as involving a sarin bomb,” the adviser said. “Did the Syrians plan the attack on Khan Sheikhoun? Absolutely. Do we have intercepts to prove it? Absolutely. Did they plan to use sarin? No. But the president did not say: ‘We have a problem and let’s look into it.’ He wanted to bomb the shit out of Syria.”

At the UN the next day, Ambassador Haley created a media sensation when she displayed photographs of the dead and accused Russia of being complicit. “How many more children have to die before Russia cares?” she asked. NBC News, in a typical report that day, quoted American officials as confirming that nerve gas had been used and Haley tied the attack directly to Syrian President Assad. "We know that yesterday’s attack was a new low even for the barbaric Assad regime,” she said. There was irony in America's rush to blame Syria and criticize Russia for its support of Syria's denial of any use of gas in Khan Sheikhoun, as Ambassador Haley and others in Washington did. "What doesn't occur to most Americans" the adviser said, "is if there had been a Syrian nerve gas attack authorized by Bashar, the Russians would be 10 times as upset as anyone in the West. Russia’s strategy against ISIS, which involves getting American cooperation, would have been destroyed and Bashar would be responsible for pissing off Russia, with unknown consequences for him. Bashar would do that? When he’s on the verge of winning the war? Are you kidding me?”

Trump, a constant watcher of television news, said, while King Abdullah of Jordan was sitting next to him in the Oval Office, that what had happened was “horrible, horrible” and a “terrible affront to humanity.” Asked if his administration would change its policy toward the Assad government, he said: “You will see.” He gave a hint of the response to come at the subsequent news conference with King Abdullah: “When you kill innocent children, innocent babies – babies, little babies – with a chemical gas that is so lethal  ... that crosses many, many lines, beyond a red line . ... That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me. Big impact ... It’s very, very possible ... that my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.”

Within hours of viewing the photos, the adviser said, Trump instructed the national defense apparatus to plan for retaliation against Syria. “He did this before he talked to anybody about it. The planners then asked the CIA and DIA if there was any evidence that Syria had sarin stored at a nearby airport or somewhere in the area. Their military had to have it somewhere in the area in order to bomb with it.” “The answer was, ‘We have no evidence that Syria had sarin or used it,’” the adviser said. “The CIA also told them that there was no residual delivery for sarin at Sheyrat [the airfield from which the Syrian SU-24 bombers had taken off on April 4] and Assad had no motive to commit political suicide.” Everyone involved, except perhaps the president, also understood that a highly skilled United Nations team had spent more than a year in the aftermath of an alleged sarin attack in 2013 by Syria, removing what was said to be all chemical weapons from a dozen Syrian chemical weapons depots.

At this point, the adviser said, the president’s national security planners were more than a little rattled: “No one knew the provenance of the photographs. We didn’t know who the children were or how they got hurt. Sarin actually is very easy to detect because it penetrates paint, and all one would have to do is get a paint sample. We knew there was a cloud and we knew it hurt people. But you cannot jump from there to certainty that Assad had hidden sarin from the UN because he wanted to use it in Khan Sheikhoun.” The intelligence made clear that a Syrian Air Force SU-24 fighter bomber had used a conventional weapon to hit its target: There had been no chemical warhead. And yet it was impossible for the experts to persuade the president of this once he had made up his mind. “The president saw the photographs of poisoned little girls and said it was an Assad atrocity,” the senior adviser said. “It’s typical of human nature. You jump to the conclusion you want. Intelligence analysts do not argue with a president. They’re not going to tell the president, ‘if you interpret the data this way, I quit.’”

(https://www.welt.de/img/politik/ausland/mobile165904081/0611620697-ci23x11-w780/Trump-US-Syria-2.jpg)
President Donald J. Trump with some of his closest advisors at Mar-a-Lago on April 6, 2017 at a top secret briefing on the results of the missile strike on Shayat Air Base
Quelle: picture alliance/ASSOCIATED PRESS/AP Content

The national security advisers understood their dilemma: Trump wanted to respond to the affront to humanity committed by Syria and he did not want to be dissuaded. They were dealing with a man they considered to be not unkind and not stupid, but his limitations when it came to national security decisions were severe. "Everyone close to him knows his proclivity for acting precipitously when he does not know the facts," the adviser said. "He doesn’t read anything and has no real historical knowledge. He wants verbal briefings and photographs. He’s a risk-taker. He can accept the consequences of a bad decision in the business world; he will just lose money. But in our world, lives will be lost and there will be long-term damage to our national security if he guesses wrong. He was told we did not have evidence of Syrian involvement and yet Trump says: 'Do it.”’

On April 6, Trump convened a meeting of national security officials at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The meeting was not to decide what to do, but how best to do it – or, as some wanted, how to do the least and keep Trump happy. “The boss knew before the meeting that they didn’t have the intelligence, but that was not the issue,” the adviser said. “The meeting was about, ‘Here’s what I’m going to do,' and then he gets the options.”

The available intelligence was not relevant. The most experienced man at the table was Secretary of Defense James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general who had the president’s respect and understood, perhaps, how quickly that could evaporate. Mike Pompeo, the CIA director whose agency had consistently reported that it had no evidence of a Syrian chemical bomb, was not present. Secretary of State Tillerson was admired on the inside for his willingness to work long hours and his avid reading of diplomatic cables and reports, but he knew little about waging war and the management of a bombing raid. Those present were in a bind, the adviser said. “The president was emotionally energized by the disaster and he wanted options.” He got four of them, in order of extremity. Option one was to do nothing. All involved, the adviser said, understood that was a non-starter. Option two was a slap on the wrist: to bomb an airfield in Syria, but only after alerting the Russians and, through them, the Syrians, to avoid too many casualties. A few of the planners called this the “gorilla option”: America would glower and beat its chest to provoke fear and demonstrate resolve, but cause little significant damage. The third option was to adopt the strike package that had been presented to Obama in 2013, and which he ultimately chose not to pursue. The plan called for the massive bombing of the main Syrian airfields and command and control centers using B1 and B52 aircraft launched from their bases in the U.S. Option four was “decapitation”: to remove Assad by bombing his palace in Damascus, as well as his command and control network and all of the underground bunkers he could possibly retreat to in a crisis.

“Trump ruled out option one off the bat,” the senior adviser said, and the assassination of Assad was never considered. “But he said, in essence: ‘You’re the military and I want military action.’” The president was also initially opposed to the idea of giving the Russians advance warning before the strike, but reluctantly accepted it. “We gave him the Goldilocks option – not too hot, not too cold, but just right.” The discussion had its bizarre moments. Tillerson wondered at the Mar-a-Lago meeting why the president could not simply call in the B52 bombers and pulverize the air base. He was told that B52s were very vulnerable to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in the area and using such planes would require suppression fire that could kill some Russian defenders.  “What is that?” Tillerson asked. Well, sir, he was told, that means we would have to destroy the upgraded SAM sites along the B52 flight path, and those are manned by Russians, and we possibly would be confronted with a much more difficult situation. “The lesson here was: Thank God for the military men at the meeting,” the adviser said. "They did the best they could when confronted with a decision that had already been made."

Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles were fired from two U.S. Navy destroyers on duty in the Mediterranean, the Ross and the Porter, at Shayrat Air Base near the government-controlled city of Homs. The strike was as successful as hoped, in terms of doing minimal damage. The missiles have a light payload – roughly 220 pounds of HBX, the military’s modern version of TNT. The airfield’s gasoline storage tanks, a primary target, were pulverized, the senior adviser said, triggering a huge fire and clouds of smoke that interfered with the guidance system of following missiles. As many as 24 missiles missed their targets and only a few of the Tomahawks actually penetrated into hangars, destroying nine Syrian aircraft, many fewer than claimed by the Trump administration. I was told that none of the nine was operational: such damaged aircraft are what the Air Force calls hangar queens. “They were sacrificial lambs,” the senior adviser said. Most of the important personnel and operational fighter planes had been flown to nearby bases hours before the raid began. The two runways and parking places for aircraft, which had also been targeted, were repaired and back in operation within eight hours or so. All in all, it was little more than an expensive fireworks display.

“It was a totally Trump show from beginning to end,” the senior adviser said. “A few of the president’s senior national security advisers viewed the mission as a minimized bad presidential decision, and one that they had an obligation to carry out. But I don’t think our national security people are going to allow themselves to be hustled into a bad decision again. If Trump had gone for option three, there might have been some immediate resignations.”

After the meeting, with the Tomahawks on their way, Trump spoke to the nation from Mar-a-Lago, and accused Assad of using nerve gas to choke out “the lives of helpless men, women and children. It was a slow and brutal death for so many ... No child of God should ever suffer such horror.” The next few days were his most successful as president. America rallied around its commander in chief, as it always does in times of war. Trump, who had campaigned as someone who advocated making peace with Assad, was bombing Syria 11 weeks after taking office, and was hailed for doing so by Republicans, Democrats and the media alike. One prominent TV anchorman, Brian Williams of MSNBC, used the word “beautiful” to describe the images of the Tomahawks being launched at sea. Speaking on CNN, Fareed Zakaria said: “I think Donald Trump became president of the United States.” A review of the top 100 American newspapers showed that 39 of them published editorials supporting the bombing in its aftermath, including the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal.

(https://www.welt.de/img/politik/ausland/mobile165904078/4851622787-ci23x11-w780/Syria-Air-Bases-2-kopieren.jpg)
The Tomahawk missiles only did little damage to the Syrian air base
Quelle: AP Photo/HM BH

Five days later, the Trump administration gathered the national media for a background briefing on the Syrian operation that was conducted by a senior White House official who was not to be identified. The gist of the briefing was that Russia’s heated and persistent denial of any sarin use in the Khan Sheikhoun bombing was a lie because President Trump had said sarin had been used. That assertion, which was not challenged or disputed by any of the reporters present, became the basis for a series of further criticisms:

     - The continued lying by the Trump administration about Syria’s use of sarin led to widespread belief in the American media and public  that Russia had  chosen to be involved in a corrupt disinformation and cover-up campaign on the part of Syria.

     - Russia’s military forces had been co-located with Syria’s at the Shayrat airfield (as they are throughout Syria), raising the possibility that Russia had advance notice of Syria’s determination to use sarin at Khan Sheikhoun and did nothing to stop it.

      - Syria’s use of sarin and Russia’s defense of that use strongly suggested that Syria withheld stocks of the nerve agent from the UN disarmament team that spent much of 2014 inspecting and removing all declared chemical warfare agents from 12 Syrian chemical weapons depots, pursuant to the agreement worked out by the Obama administration and Russia after Syria’s alleged, but still unproven, use of sarin the year before against a rebel redoubt in a suburb of Damascus.

The briefer, to his credit, was careful to use the words “think,” “suggest” and “believe” at least 10 times during the 30-minute event. But he also said that his briefing was based on data that had been declassified by “our colleagues in the intelligence community.” What the briefer did not say, and may not have known, was that much of the classified information in the community made the point that Syria had not used sarin in the April 4 bombing attack.

The mainstream press responded the way the White House had hoped it would: Stories attacking Russia’s alleged cover-up of Syria’s sarin use dominated the news and many media outlets ignored the briefer’s myriad caveats. There was a sense of renewed Cold War. The New York Times, for example – America’s leading newspaper – put the following headline on its account: “White House Accuses Russia of Cover-Up in Syria Chemical Attack.” The Times’ account did note a Russian denial, but what was described by the briefer as “declassified information” suddenly became a “declassified intelligence report.” Yet there was no formal intelligence report stating that Syria had used sarin, merely a "summary based on declassified information about the attacks," as the briefer referred to it.

The crisis slid into the background by the end of April, as Russia, Syria and the United States remained focused on annihilating ISIS and the militias of al-Qaida. Some of those who had worked through the crisis, however, were left with lingering concerns. “The Salafists and jihadists got everything they wanted out of their hyped-up Syrian nerve gas ploy,” the senior adviser to the U.S. intelligence community told me, referring to the flare up of tensions between Syria, Russia and America. “The issue is, what if there’s another false flag sarin attack credited to hated Syria? Trump has upped the ante and painted himself into a corner with his decision to bomb. And do not think these guys are not planning the next faked attack. Trump will have no choice but to bomb again, and harder. He’s incapable of saying he made a mistake.”

The White House did not answer specific questions about the bombing of Khan Sheikhoun and the airport of Shayrat. These questions were send via e-mail to the White House on June 15 and never answered.   
Title: Re: Trump‘s Red Line
Post by: Surly1 on June 27, 2017, 03:50:40 AM
https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905578/Trump-s-Red-Line.html?wtmc=socialmedia.twitter.shared.web (https://www.welt.de/politik/ausland/article165905578/Trump-s-Red-Line.html?wtmc=socialmedia.twitter.shared.web)

Trump‘s Red Line
Von Seymour M. Hersh | Stand: 25.06.2017 | Lesedauer: 24 Minuten

What a terrific article. This is what journalism is supposed to-- and used to-- look like. Careful, well sourced, reserved and deadly because of it. Hersh has been doing this since My Lai.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 27, 2017, 07:22:13 AM
Quote
... well-sourced ...

Well-sourced is wasn't.  "The adviser said ...".  Even the photos look photoshopped.  Nevertheless he gets to speak to some amazing "unnamed sources'.
What is most frightening is how scared they all are of Trump, and what a dick-head he is. It sounds like if he gets put in a situation where he has to choose between looking weak and starting WW3, he will chose self-destruction, because he will get better media coverage that way.

Assassination is now in order.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on June 27, 2017, 07:51:52 AM
Quote
... well-sourced ...

Well-sourced is wasn't.  "The adviser said ...".  Even the photos look photoshopped.

I don't see anything that looks photoshopped.  What are you referring to?
Quote
Assassination is now in order.

The way things are going, the Koch brothers will oblige.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 27, 2017, 03:41:28 PM
Photos #1, 3, 4, 5 all look like they have been "texturised" to make them seem more grainy.  The entire colour has been tinted from grey to blue. #3 has black figures added.  #4 was taken under ideal conditions so there is no reason for it other than to make the others seem more "real".

Yesterday's warning that another chemical attack is imminent, has been responded to ominously by Russia, so if Hersch's story is true, they will likely attack the Tomahawks with S-400, or maybe leak the recordings of the warnings given before - "Dmitri, I'm sorry that we are going to be attacking you, we KNOW you didn't really do it, but the President doesn't want to hear the evidence and wants to go the gorilla option. Just roll with the punch. Good luck. Out."

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 28, 2017, 08:04:57 PM
No surprises  in this, but well laid out for the record.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-27/how-america-armed-terrorists-syria (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-06-27/how-america-armed-terrorists-syria)
How America Armed Terrorists In Syria
Gareth Porter via TheAmericanConservative.com
Jun 28, 2017

Three-term Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a member of both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees, has proposed legislation that would prohibit any U.S. assistance to terrorist organizations in Syria as well as to any organization working directly with them. Equally important, it would prohibit U.S. military sales and other forms of military cooperation with other countries that provide arms or financing to those terrorists and their collaborators.

Gabbard’s “Stop Arming Terrorists Act” challenges for the first time in Congress a U.S. policy toward the conflict in the Syrian civil war that should have set off alarm bells long ago: in 2012-13 the Obama administration helped its Sunni allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar provide arms to Syrian and non-Syrian armed groups to force President Bashar al-Assad out of power. And in 2013 the administration began to provide arms to what the CIA judged to be “relatively moderate” anti-Assad groups—meaning they incorporated various degrees of Islamic extremism.

That policy, ostensibly aimed at helping replace the Assad regime with a more democratic alternative, has actually helped build up al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise al Nusra Front into the dominant threat to Assad.

The supporters of this arms-supply policy believe it is necessary as pushback against Iranian influence in Syria. But that argument skirts the real issue raised by the policy’s history.  The Obama administration’s Syria policy effectively sold out the U.S. interest that was supposed to be the touchstone of the “Global War on Terrorism”—the eradication of al Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates. The United States has instead subordinated that U.S. interest in counter-terrorism to the interests of its Sunni allies. In doing so it has helped create a new terrorist threat in the heart of the Middle East. 

The policy of arming military groups committed to overthrowing the government of President Bashar al-Assad began in September 2011, when President Barack Obama was pressed by his Sunni allies—Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar—to supply heavy weapons to a military opposition to Assad they were determined to establish. Turkey and the Gulf regimes wanted the United States to provide anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to the rebels, according to a former Obama Administration official involved in Middle East issues.

Obama refused to provide arms to the opposition, but he agreed to provide covert U.S. logistical help in carrying out a campaign of military assistance to arm opposition groups. CIA involvement in the arming of anti-Assad forces began with arranging for the shipment of weapons from the stocks of the Gaddafi regime that had been stored in Benghazi. CIA-controlled firms shipped the weapons from the military port of Benghazi to two small ports in Syria using former U.S. military personnel to manage the logistics, as investigative reporter Sy Hersh detailed in 2014. The funding for the program came mainly from the Saudis.

A declassified October 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report revealed that the shipment in late August 2012 had included 500 sniper rifles, 100 RPG (rocket propelled grenade launchers) along with 300 RPG rounds and 400 howitzers. Each arms shipment encompassed as many as ten shipping containers, it reported, each of which held about 48,000 pounds of cargo. That suggests a total payload of up to 250 tons of weapons per shipment. Even if the CIA had organized only one shipment per month, the arms shipments would have totaled 2,750 tons of arms bound ultimately for Syria from October 2011 through August 2012. More likely it was a multiple of that figure. 

The CIA’s covert arms shipments from Libya came to an abrupt halt in September 2012 when Libyan militants attacked and burned the embassy annex in Benghazi that had been used to support the operation. By then, however, a much larger channel for arming anti-government forces was opening up. The CIA put the Saudis in touch with a senior Croatian official who had offered to sell large quantities of arms left over from the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. And the CIA helped them shop for weapons from arms dealers and governments in several other former Soviet bloc countries.

Flush with weapons acquired from both the CIA Libya program and from the Croatians, the Saudis and Qataris dramatically increased the number of flights by military cargo planes to Turkey in December 2012 and continued that intensive pace for the next two and a half months. The New York Times reported a total 160 such flights through mid-March 2013. The most common cargo plane in use in the Gulf, the Ilyushin IL-76, can carry roughly 50 tons of cargo on a flight, which would indicate that as much as 8,000 tons of weapons poured across the Turkish border into Syria just in late 2012 and in 2013.

One U.S. official called the new level of arms deliveries to Syrian rebels a “cataract of weaponry.” And a year-long investigation by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed that the Saudis were intent on building up a powerful conventional army in Syria. The “end-use certificate” for weapons purchased from an arms company in Belgrade, Serbia, in May 2013 includes 500 Soviet-designed PG-7VR rocket launchers that can penetrate even heavily-armored tanks, along with two million rounds; 50 Konkurs anti-tank missile launchers and 500 missiles, 50 anti-aircraft guns mounted on armored vehicles, 10,000 fragmentation rounds for OG-7 rocket launchers capable of piercing heavy body armor; four truck-mounted BM-21 GRAD multiple rocket launchers, each of which fires 40 rockets at a time with a range of 12 to 19 miles, along with 20,000 GRAD rockets.

The end user document for another Saudi order from the same Serbian company listed 300 tanks, 2,000 RPG launchers, and 16,500 other rocket launchers, one million rounds for ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns, and 315 million cartridges for various other guns.

Those two purchases were only a fraction of the totality of the arms obtained by the Saudis over the next few years from eight Balkan nations. Investigators found that the Saudis made their biggest arms deals with former Soviet bloc states in 2015, and that the weapons included many that had just come off factory production lines. Nearly 40 percent of the arms the Saudis purchased from those countries, moreover, still had not been delivered by early 2017. So the Saudis had already contracted for enough weaponry to keep a large-scale conventional war in Syria going for several more years.

By far the most consequential single Saudi arms purchase was not from the Balkans, however, but from the United States. It was the December 2013 U.S. sale of 15,000 TOW anti-tank missiles to the Saudis at a cost of about $1 billion—the result of Obama’s decision earlier that year to reverse his ban on lethal assistance to anti-Assad armed groups. The Saudis had agreed, moreover, that those anti-tank missiles would be doled out to Syrian groups only at U.S. discretion. The TOW missiles began to arrive in Syria in 2014 and soon had a major impact on the military balance.

This flood of weapons into Syria, along with the entry of 20,000 foreign fighters into the country—primarily through Turkey—largely defined the nature of the conflict. These armaments helped make al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, al Nusra Front (now renamed Tahrir al-Sham or Levant Liberation Organization) and its close allies by far the most powerful anti-Assad forces in Syria—and gave rise to the Islamic State.

By late 2012, it became clear to U.S. officials that the largest share of the arms that began flowing into Syria early in the year were going to the rapidly growing al Qaeda presence in the country. In October 2012, U.S. officials acknowledged off the record for the first time to the New York Times that  “most” of the arms that had been shipped to armed opposition groups in Syria with U.S. logistical assistance during the previous year had gone to “hardline Islamic jihadists”— obviously meaning al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, al Nusra.

Al Nusra Front and its allies became the main recipients of the weapons because the Saudis, Turks, and Qataris wanted the arms to go to the military units that were most successful in attacking government targets. And by the summer of 2012, al Nusra Front, buttressed by the thousands of foreign jihadists pouring into the country across the Turkish border, was already taking the lead in attacks on the Syrian government in coordination with “Free Syrian Army” brigades.

In November and December 2012, al Nusra Front began establishing formal “joint operations rooms” with those calling themselves “Free Syrian Army” on several battlefronts, as Charles Lister chronicles in his book The Syrian Jihad. One such commander favored by Washington was Col. Abdul Jabbar al-Oqaidi, a former Syrian army officer who headed something called the Aleppo Revolutionary Military Council. Ambassador Robert Ford, who continued to hold that position even after he had been withdrawn from Syria, publicly visited Oqaidi in May 2013 to express U.S. support for him and the FSA. 

But Oqaidi and his troops were junior partners in a coalition in Aleppo in which al Nusra was by far the strongest element. That reality is clearly reflected in a video in which Oqaidi describes his good relations with officials of the “Islamic State” and is shown joining the main jihadist commander in the Aleppo region celebrating the capture of the Syrian government’s Menagh Air Base in September 2013.

By early 2013, in fact, the “Free Syrian Army,” which had never actually been a military organization with any troops, had ceased to have any real significance in the Syria conflict. New anti-Assad armed groups had stopped using the name even as a “brand” to identify themselves, as a leading specialist on the conflict observed.

So, when weapons from Turkey arrived at the various battlefronts, it was understood by all the non-jihadist groups that they would be shared with al Nusra Front and its close allies. A report by McClatchy in early 2013, on a town in north central Syria, showed how the military arrangements between al Nusra and those brigades calling themselves “Free Syrian Army” governed the distribution of weapons. One of those units, the Victory Brigade, had participated in a “joint operations room” with al Qaeda’s most important military ally, Ahrar al Sham, in a successful attack on a strategic town a few weeks earlier. A visiting reporter watched that brigade and Ahrar al Sham show off new sophisticated weapons that included Russian-made RPG27 shoulder-fired rocket-propelled anti-tank grenades and RG6 grenade launchers.

When asked if the Victory Brigade had shared its new weapons with Ahrar al Sham, the latter’s spokesman responded, “Of course they share their weapons with us. We fight together.” 

Turkey and Qatar consciously chose al Qaeda and its closest ally, Ahrar al Sham, as the recipients of weapons systems. In late 2013 and early 2014, several truckloads of arms bound for the province of Hatay, just south of the Turkish border, were intercepted by Turkish police. They had Turkish intelligence personnel on board, according to later Turkish police court testimony. The province was controlled by Ahrar al Sham. In fact Turkey soon began to treat Ahrar al Sham as its primary client in Syria, according to Faysal Itani, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East.

A Qatari intelligence operative who had been involved in shipping arms to extremist groups in Libya was a key figure in directing the flow of arms from Turkey into Syria. An Arab intelligence source familiar with the discussions among the external suppliers near the Syrian border in Turkey during those years told the Washington Post’s David Ignatius that when one of the participants warned that the outside powers were building up the jihadists while the non-Islamist groups were withering away, the Qatari operative responded, “I will send weapons to al Qaeda if it will help.”

The Qataris did funnel arms to both al Nusra Front and Ahrar al Sham, according to a Middle Eastern diplomatic source. The Obama administration’s National Security Council staff proposed in 2013 that the United States signal U.S. displeasure with Qatar over its arming of extremists in both Syria and Libya by withdrawing a squadron of fighter planes from the U.S. airbase at al-Udeid, Qatar. The Pentagon vetoed that mild form of pressure, however, to protect its access to its base in Qatar.

President Obama himself confronted Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan over his government’s support for the jihadists at a private White House dinner in May 2013, as recounted by Hersh. “We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria,” he quotes Obama as saying to Erdogan.

The administration addressed Turkey’s cooperation with the al Nusra publicly, however, only fleetingly in late 2014. Shortly after leaving Ankara, Francis Ricciardone, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 2011 through mid-2014, told The Daily Telegraph  of London that Turkey had “worked with groups, frankly, for a period, including al Nusra.”

The closest Washington came to a public reprimand of its allies over the arming of terrorists in Syria was when Vice President Joe Biden criticized their role in October 2014. In impromptu remarks at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, Biden complained that “our biggest problem is our allies.”  The forces they had supplied with arms, he said, were “al Nusra and al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” 

Biden quickly apologized for the remarks, explaining that he didn’t mean that U.S. allies had deliberately helped the jihadists. But Ambassador Ford confirmed his complaint, telling BBC, “What Biden said about the allies aggravating the problem of extremism is true.”

In June 2013 Obama approved the first direct U.S. lethal military aid to rebel brigades that had been vetted by the CIA. By spring 2014, the U.S.-made BGM-71E anti-tank missiles from the 15,000 transferred to the Saudis began to appear in the hands of selected anti-Assad groups. But the CIA imposed the condition that the group receiving them would not cooperate with the al Nusra Front or its allies.

That condition implied that Washington was supplying military groups that were strong enough to maintain their independence from al Nusra Front. But the groups on the CIA’s list of vetted “relatively moderate” armed groups were all highly vulnerable to takeover by the al Qaeda affiliate. In November 2014, al Nusra Front troops struck the two strongest CIA-supported armed groups, Harakat Hazm and the Syrian Revolutionary Front on successive days and seized their heavy weapons, including both TOW anti-tank missiles and GRAD rockets. 

In early March 2015, the Harakat Hazm Aleppo branch dissolved itself, and al Nusra Front promptly showed off photos of the TOW missiles and other equipment they had captured from it. And in March 2016, al Nusra Front troops attacked the headquarters of the 13th Division in northwestern Idlib province and seized all of its TOW missiles.  Later that month, al Nusra Front released a video of its troops using the TOW missiles it had captured.

But that wasn’t the only way for al Nusra Front to benefit from the CIA’s largesse. Along with its close ally Ahrar al Sham, the terrorist organization began planning for a campaign to take complete control of Idlib province in the winter of 2014-15. Abandoning any pretense of distance from al Qaeda, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar worked with al Nusra on the creation of a new military formation for Idlib called the “Army of Conquest,” consisting of the al Qaeda affiliate and its closest allies. Saudi Arabia and Qatar provided more weapons for the campaign, while Turkey facilitated their passage. On March 28, just four days after launching the campaign, the Army of Conquest successfully gained control of Idlib City.

The non-jihadist armed groups getting advanced weapons from the CIA assistance were not part of the initial assault on Idlib City. After the capture of Idlib the U.S.-led operations room for Syria in southern Turkey signaled to the CIA-supported groups in Idlib that they could now participate in the campaign to consolidate control over the rest of the province. According to Lister, the British researcher on jihadists in Syria who maintains contacts with both jihadist and other armed groups, recipients of CIA weapons, such as the Fursan al haq brigade and Division 13, did join the Idlib campaign alongside al Nusra Front without any move by the CIA to cut them off.

As the Idlib offensive began, the CIA-supported groups were getting TOW missiles in larger numbers, and they now used them with great effectiveness against the Syrian army tanks. That was the beginning of a new phase of the war, in which U.S. policy was to support an alliance between “relatively moderate” groups and the al Nusra Front.

The new alliance was carried over to Aleppo, where jihadist groups close to Nusra Front formed a new command called Fateh Halab (“Aleppo Conquest”) with nine armed groups in Aleppo province which were getting CIA assistance. The CIA-supported groups could claim that they weren’t cooperating with al Nusra Front because the al Qaeda franchise was not officially on the list of participants in the command. But as the report on the new command clearly implied, this was merely a way of allowing the CIA to continue providing weapons to its clients, despite their de facto alliance with al Qaeda.

The significance of all this is clear: by helping its Sunni allies provide weapons to al Nusra Front and its allies and by funneling into the war zone sophisticated weapons that were bound to fall into al Nusra hands or strengthen their overall military position, U.S. policy has been largely responsible for having extended al Qaeda’s power across a significant part of Syrian territory. The CIA and the Pentagon appear to be ready to tolerate such a betrayal of America’s stated counter-terrorism mission. Unless either Congress or the White House confronts that betrayal explicitly, as Tulsi Gabbard’s legislation would force them to do, U.S. policy will continue to be complicit in the consolidation of power by al Qaeda in Syria, even if the Islamic State is defeated there.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on June 28, 2017, 10:15:06 PM
http://thesaker.is/using-plausible-deniability-against-a-systematically-lying-adversary/ (http://thesaker.is/using-plausible-deniability-against-a-systematically-lying-adversary/)
Using plausible deniability against a systematically lying adversary
June 28, 2017

The Internet has been buzzing with reactions to the latest Stratfor report about how a military confrontation between Russia and the United States would play out. I did not find the full text, I suppose it is behind a Stratfor paywall or for subscribers only (and, frankly, I have better use for my time and money than to subscribe to that rubbish), but since the same excerpts are quoted everywhere, I might as well list them here and assume that they form the highlights of the article. Here we go (taken from the Business Insider quoting and paraphrasing the original article):

    While Russia has some advanced surface-to-air missile systems and very agile fighter aircraft in Syria, it wouldn’t fare well in what would be a short, brutal air war against the US (…) Russia has “about 25 planes, only about ten of which are dedicated to air superiority (Su-35s and Su-30s), and against that they’ll have to face fifth-gen stealth fighters, dozens of strike fighters, F-15s, F-16s, as well as B-1 and B-52 bombers. And of course the vast US Navy and pretty much hundreds of Tomahawks.” “Russians have a lot of air defenses, they’re not exactly defenseless by any means,” Lamrani told Business Insider, “But the US has very heavy air superiority.” Even though individual Russian platforms come close to matching, and in some ways exceed the capability of US jets, it comes down to numbers. If US surveillance detected a mass mobilization of Russian jets in response to the back-and-forth, the US wouldn’t just wait politely for Russians to get their planes in the sky so they can fight back. Instead, a giant salvo of cruise missiles would pour in from the USS George H. W. Bush carrier strike group, much like the April 7 strike on Syria’s Sharyat air base. But this time, the missiles would have to saturate and defeat Russia’s missile defenses first, which they could do by sheer numbers if not using electronic attack craft. Then, after neutering Russia’s defenses, the ships could target the air base, not only destroying planes on the ground but also tearing up the runways, so no planes could take off. At this point US and Coalition aircraft would have free reign to pass overhead and completely devastate Russian forces.

So is the author, Omar Lamrani, right in his assessment? Yes and no. Yes, that is exactly what would happen if the Russians decided to engage their small number of air superiority aircraft to try to prevail over the entire CENCOM and NATO air force for the control of the Syrian skies. And no, simply because the Russians would never do that.

The author of the article, a civilian with no military experience, makes a basic mistake, he assumes that the Russians will act like idiots and fight the kind of war the US would want to impose upon them. That is kind of assumptions most newbies make and which make for excellent propaganda articles. The problem is, of course, that there is absolutely no reason at all why the Russians should collaborate with such a ridiculous scenario. So, let’s get back to basics here.

Question 1: are the Russians in a position of weakness in Syria?

Yes, absolutely. And they know that too. First, the Russians are operating only 2 facilities (Tartus and Khmeimim), far away from home, and the size of their task force in Syria is tiny compared to the huge amount of firepower available to the AngloZionists and their allies. Second, the USA have poured billions of dollars into this region to make sure that the Soviet Union could never successfully invade Iran and not only do they have an immense numerical superiority over the Russians, they also have a world-class network of bases where even more forces can be brought in. Syria is squeezed between CENTCOM to the south and east and NATO to the north and west while the closets Russian forces are in Crimea. The truth is that not only could the US and NATO take control of the Syrian skies, even Israel alone could probably do it. So, assuming the Russians are not suicidal imbeciles, what do you think they should do? If you were Russian, how would you play your cards?

Question 2: do the Russians have advantages of their own?

Absolutely. In fact, they have many advantages over the Americans. Here they are in no particular order:

    All the boots on the ground that matter are either Russian allies or at least on good terms with Russia: the Syrians, the Iranians, Hezbollah and even Turkey are all much closer to Russia than to the AngloZionists. The only AngloZionist boots on the ground that matter are Daesh & Co.
    Internal public opinion: in Russia, the Russian military intervention is understood and backed by a overwhelming majority of Russians. In the USA the public is clueless and profoundly skeptical of this latest US war of choice. Not only that, but Putin personally has an immense credibility with the Russian people, while Trump is barely avoiding being impeached.
    External public opinion: while in the USA the Ziomedia is engaged in a truly heroic effort to avoid even mentioning the fact that even the US presence in, and nevermind the actual aggression against, Syria is completely illegal in terms of international law, most of the planet is quite aware of that. This only further erodes the US standing worldwide.
    The Russians have fewer lucrative targets to offer the AngloZionists than the Americans. Simply put, the Russians have Tartus and Khmeimim. The Americans have an long list of bases and facilities in the region which all could become potential targets.
    The willpower, courage and determination of the Russian solider is stronger than his US counterparts by many orders of magnitude. There are many reasons for this, historical as well as political, but I don’t think that anybody doubts the fact that while Americans love to kill for their country, they are much less enthusiastic about dying for it, especially when the “for it” part is extremely dubious and when the frontline solider feels that he is being used in some complex political game which he does not understand but where he is definitely used as cannon fodder.
    There is Russian personnel and military hardware interspersed within the Syrian forces. We know that Russian technical specialists, military advisors and special forces are operating on the ground in Syria. This means that the Russian can probably use a Syrian S-300 to shoot down a US aircraft without necessarily giving the US proof of their involvement. To use and old CIA term, the Russian can have “plausible deniability”.
    We know that Russia has a vastly superior intelligence capability in Syria as reflected in the kind of damage Russian air and missile strike inflict on their targets especially when compared to the painfully obvious lack of US understanding of what’s really going on on the ground.

So what does all this add up to?

1) Plausible deniability in the air

First, it is pretty darn clear that the Russians have no incentive to begin a large scale air battle in the skies of Syria with their US counterparts. However, the fact that such a battle would not be in their interest does not mean that they would necessarily avoid it either. For the time being, the Russians seem to have chose a strategy of deliberate uncertainty and harassment of the US aircraft, but they could decide to engage US aircraft using their ground based S-300/S-400 batteries. Here is how they could do it.

First, the Russians are the only ones in Syria with S-400s. So let’s set them aside for a minute and keep them for serious emergency purposes. Next, let’s look at the Syrian inventory of air defenses found on Wikipedia. Notice especially this one: the Pantsir-S1 (SA-22). According to Wikipedia, there are 50 SA-22 in Syria. Have you ever heard of the Panstsir-S1? Probably not.

Forget the S-300/S-400, think Pantsir

The Pantsir-S1 (aka “SA-22” in US/NATO classification) is an absolutely awe-inspiring air defense system, yet nobody in the general public or Ziomedia ever mentions it. Let’s take a look at it:

(http://dxczjjuegupb.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/word-image-1024x665.jpeg)

The Pantsir-S1 is mobile short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapon system which uses phased array radars for both target acquisition and tracking. Detection range: 32-45km (20-28mi). Tracking range: 24-28km (15-17mi). It can track up to 20 targets, engage up to 3 with 4 missiles at the same time. It has a secondary Autonomous Optoelectronic System with a 25km (15mi) engagement rage against a small F-16 size aircraft. The Pantsir’s missiles are solid-fuel rockets with a range of 20km (12mi), a ceiling of 15km (9mi) and a speed of Mach 2.3-2.8. The Pantsir also has two dual 30mm autocannons shooting up to 700 rounds of high explosive at a rate of 2’500 rounds per minute at a distance up to 4km (2.5mi). Now here is the really neat thing about it: both the Russian and the Syrian operate these mobile systems. In other words, not only might these Pantsirs be anywhere, but they might be operated by anybody. Heck, even the Iranians have them!

Though the Pantsirs look the part (they look like something out of a Terminator movie to me), they are even more dangerous than they appear because while they are capable of fully autonomous operations, they are also designed to be plugged-in into a global network via a digitally encrypted datalink which makes it possible for them to receive their engagement data from other land-based and airborne platforms. Finally, keep in mind that nobody really knows how many Pantsirs the Russians have brought with them to Syria, how many the Syrians currently operate, how many “Syrian” Pantsirs are operated by Russians and plugged in into the Russian digital air-defense network or, for that matter, how many Syrian and Iranian Pantsirs might be out there.

So what do we have? A system which is extremely mobile (being mounted on a heavy high mobility truck), easy to conceal (being small), which can engage any airborne target at altitudes ranging form 0m to 15’000m as far as 20’000m away. To do so, they can used their passive electronically scanned array (PESA), their Autonomous Optoelectronic System (AOS) or even data received from other radars including Russian S-300/S-400, Su-35 or AWACS.

Initially and officially, the Russian Pantsirs are solely tasked with defending the longer ranged S-300/S-400 systems and the Russian installations in Khmeimim and Tartus. But in reality they could be rapidly deployed anywhere and used to shoot down US aircraft with no evidence whatsoever that the Russians did it! Of course, the Russian would have to be very careful as to what source they would use to track the US aircraft and provide the Pantsir’s missile an engagement solution. As far as I know, the Pantsir’s missiles do not have an active or even semi-active radar system, but their AOS allows for completely silent/passive engagements. Depending on what intelligence assets the Americans do or do not have available at the time of attack, their might be no way of proving who shot down the US aircraft.

The bottom line is this: while the world is focused on the bigger S-300/S-400 capabilities, the Russians already have in place a far more flexible short-medium range air-defense system which would be impossible to destroy with Tomahawks (being mobile) and very hard to destroy with airstrikes. That system could be deployed anywhere in Syria and it could be used while providing the Russian with a plausible deniability. Of course, the US could try to fly outside the Pantsir’s flight envelope, but that would make use of any airpower very difficult. Another option for the Americans would be to rely solely on their low-RCS aircraft (B-1, B-2 for strikes, and F-22s to protect them), but that would dramatically decrease the overall capabilities of CENTOM/NATO over Syria.

I will conclude this section by reminding everybody that neither the US nor any other NATO country has ever had to operate in an environment as dangerous as the Syrian skies. The poor Serbs had only ancient air defenses and yet even against them NATO failed miserably. In Syria the Russian air defenses could give the Americans a run for their money without ever using any of their (admittedly few) air superiority aircraft.

2) Plausible deniability on the ground

Has anybody ever considered that the Russians might decide to attack US forces deployed on the ground in Syria (or Iraq for that matter?)? Apparently not, if only because most people would assume that the Russian force in Syria is tiny and therefore cannot attack a much larger and stronger US force. But, just as with the air warfare, this is a mistaken assumption based on the idea that the US would know who is attacking. In reality, the Russians could attack the US using their special forces (either those already deployed or specially brought in) to attack US targets and retain plausible deniability.

How?

This is what we already know:

Russian operators are already deployed and active in Syria:

First the famous Spetsnaz ( Spetsnaz GRU Gsh). These are special units drawn either from the Southern Military District or, possibly, subordinated directly to the Military Intelligence (GRU) HQ in Moscow. Unlike the Spetsnaz GRU forces of the GRU brigades of the Military Districts, these small groups (8-12 men) are staffed by career officers only.

Next, the Russian Special Forces (SSO), a relatively new creation not to be confused with the Spetsnaz GRU even if they are similar in many ways, are also more or less officially in Syria (Russian TV channels have made reports and interviews with them). They are subordinated to General Staff of the Armed Forces. Here is a photo of them taken by a Russian journalist in Syria:

Finally, there аre reports of some unnamed but very secret Russian unit working in Syria (for example here) but neither Vympel nor Zaslon fit the bill (the former is now subordinated to the FSB, i.e. deal with internal security issues, while the latter is more of a protective service for officials, their residences and Russian civilians abroad). I have found no info on who they are, but my guess is that they are what Vympel used to be: special forces of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) working in close collaboration with the SVR agent networks in Syria.

Whatever may be the case, the Russians already have more then enough special forces in Syria to start attacking US targets in Syria or even elsewhere in the region. For example, during the battle for Aleppo there have been numerous reports of Russian snipers killing Daesh leader one after the other almost decapitating their entire leadership. That could happen to top US officers on the ground in Syria. Special forces could also arrange for “unexplicable” missile strikes hitting US forces. But the most important aspect here is that these forces could be used in complete secrecy with nothing identifying them as Russians. They would look like Arabs, speaks like Arabs and have Arabic IDs with them. The Soviets did use exactly this technique in Afghanistan to overthrow Afghan President Hafizullah Amin. Likewise, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has openly admitted that Chechen operators have been infiltrated into the Daesh command structure.. Finally, even if “Russians” are caught and somehow identified, there are about 5’000 Russian citizens of all sorts of ethnic groups (including Slavs) fighting in the ranks of Daesh and it will be impossible to prove that fighter X or fighter Z are agents of a Russian intelligence service.

Bottom line is this: Russia also has the option of ground attacks against US forces with plausible deniability.

So think of it – Russians SAMS shooting at US aircraft in the air, and Russian special forces killing US officers on the ground. And all this with complete plausible deniability.

Not convinced yet?


One the many uses of plausible deniability, especially against a systematically lying enemy

You might wonder how useful plausible deniability is against a country which makes up all sorts of ridiculous stories about Russian hackers stealing elections or invisible Russian armies in the eastern Ukraine. And I agree, a country which has 16 intelligence agencies and a long and shameful history of making up intelligence – yes, sure, they could say that “the Russkies did it” and have the Ziomedia repeat it all over and over again without any evidence.

But there is another side to this story: since the US propaganda machine has made up so many stories about genocidal Serbs, Viagra-enhanced raping Libyans, baby-tossing Iraqis, wannabe-nuclear Iranians, barrel-bombing Syrians and God knows who else – how credible will they be when they accuse the Russian of “this vicious and dastardly act” (whatever the act is, really)? Even as I write this, there are reports that the White House is already setting the stage for yet another false flag attack in Syria. Let’s be honest here and agree that Uncle Sam lies every time he moves his lips and while the brain-dead Ziomedia pretends to take each lie very seriously, the rest of the planet, including much of the American public, is under no illusions.

Now imagine a Russian operated Pantsir-S1 crew in Syria shooting down US aircraft or Russian operators blowing up a tent with the HQ of the US forces in Syria. Not only will there be no proof that the Russians did it, but even if there was, nobody would trust the Americans anyway. Furthermore, this also begs the following question: would it really be in the USA’s best interest to point the finger at the Russians? I would argue that it would not. It would make far more sense to blame the Syrians, then bomb some kind of Syrian government building (say the probably empty military intelligence building in downtown Damascus) and declare that “a message has been sent” then to take the military and political risk of attacking Russian forces in Syria.

Could the Americans retaliate in kind?


Probably not. Remember, they don’t have the boots on the ground, the intelligence capabilities or the political support (internal and external) to get away with that. Not only that, but US special forces have a long history of screwing up even relatively simple operations and I don’t see them trying to get away with a direct attack on Russian forces in Khmeimim or elsewhere. At most, they will do what they almost always do – subcontract the mission to some locals, which works great against defenseless civilians and ends up on disaster against a real “hard” target.

The many paradoxes of warfare

First, we should always keep in mind that any military action is just a means towards a political goal, the “continuation of politics by other means”. Because of that highly political nature, there are circumstances where being the weaker side can yield advantages. The key to the defensive strategy of the weaker side is not to let the stronger side impose the kind of warfare which maximizes the stronger side’s advantages. In the case of Syria, trying to defeat the entire air force of CENTCOM with just a few fighters would be plain stupid. And since the US does have an immense advantage in the number of cruise missiles it can launch – do what the Serbs did in Kosovo and Hezbollah did in 2006 against Israel: don’t give them a target. In the Syrian context this means: use only mobile air defense systems. Last but not least, hit the Americans were it hurts most – their morale. Remember how crazy they got when they could not find out who was attacking them in Vietnam?

An elephant in a porcelain store is a scary sight for sure. But once you get over your initial fear, you soon will realize that being a big bad elephant makes it very difficult to make a smart move. That is exactly the USA’s problem, especially the US armed forces: they are so big and confident that almost every move they make lacks to sophisticated caution imposed by life on a much weaker actor. This is why the almost always end up breaking the store and looking stupid. Add to this a quasi-total focus on the short-term quickfix, and you get a recipe for disaster.

The two options for a Russian counter-attack under the cover of plausible deniability are just the two that came to my mind. In reality there are many more, including many even much less “visible” than those I have suggested. My main goal was to illustrate that there is absolutely no reason for the Russians to behave like Omar Lamrani suggested in his frankly silly article. The truth is that I have absolutely no idea how the Russians might respond, and that is exactly how it should be. All I am sure of is that they won’t respond how Lamrani thinks they will, that’s all.

The wiser folks in the Pentagon and, apparently, on the ground are trying hard to avoid getting tangled up with the Russians not because they fear some specific Russian response, but because they are aware that they are dealing with an unpredictable and sophisticated actor. The good news is that the Russians are also trying hard to avoid getting tangled up with the Americans, especially so far away from home and smack in the middle of a thoroughly CENTCOM/NATO-controlled part of the world.

In conclusion, I want to mention just a small sampling of what I did not mention but which US commanders will have to consider before deciding on a direct attack on Russian forces: various naval scenarios, especially those involving diesel attack submarines, Russian options to deploy into Iran, Russian retaliatory options in other theaters such as Iraq, Pakistan and, especially, Afghanistan. Here is a good one: *real* Russian cracking (“hacking” is the wrong word) of crucial US computer networks, including the release of possibly very embarrassing information (think of it as “Wikileaks on steroids”). Finally, if cornered, one possibly option for Russia would be to draw US forces, resources and energy away from Syria to some other region truly critical to the USA. DPRK anybody?

The options are endless and the stakes very high. In the dreamworld of Mr Lamrani it’s all simple and easy. Which only goes to prove, yet again, that war is far to serious a matter to entrusted to civilians.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on July 19, 2017, 07:59:53 PM
This would be Syria's fate if Assad were to fall - one jihadist group fighting the others.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/video-bloodbath-ensues-massive-inter-jihadist-violence-sweeps-idlib-hama/ (https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/video-bloodbath-ensues-massive-inter-jihadist-violence-sweeps-idlib-hama/)
Bloodbath ensues as massive inter-jihadist violence sweeps Idlib, Hama
Andrew Illingworth
19/07/2017

Full-scale war has broken out between a number of major Idlib-based militant factions. Opposition media is indicating that the forces involved are seizing entire townships from each other throughout Idlib and Hama, even going so far as to use heavy weapons (i.e. tanks) to do so.

According to preliminary reports, the main belligerents appear to be the Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) jihadist group, the Ahrar al-Sham Islamist coalition and the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The latter two groups have united against the former.

Earlier today, HTS attacked an Ahrar al-Sham base in the Armanaz area of northern Idlib with a vehicle borne improvised explosive device (VBIED). The blast from the car bomb is said to have resulted in the death of three Ahrar al-Sham fighters and two civilians; furthermore, another 15 people were injured of which at least five were Ahrar al-Sham militants.

Bomb attacks aside, the warring factions have also engaged in seizing towns and villages from one another.

Reports say that Ahrar al-Sham took over the town of Qalat al-Madiq in the al-Ghab Plain region after forcing all HTS fighters to withdraw or face certain death. Moreover, Ahrar al-Sham also kicked HTS out of several towns and villages in the Shahshabo Mountain area of northern Hama.

Ahrar Al-Sham is currently storming HTS bases at the town of Harem in northern Idlib. The two groups are also exchanging fire in the town of Salqin where both have bases. The engagement has thus far left 16 people dead, most of which are Ahrar al-Sham fighters.

HTS has for its part also delivered some heavy blows to Ahrar al-Sham.

So far today, the jihadist group has killed the security chief of the Al-Abbas Brigade (part of Ahrar al-Sham) along with 3 other troops in the town of Al-Magharan.

Opposition media is now reporting that Ahrar al-Sham will allow Turkey-led Euphrates Shield forces to enter Idlib from the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing to aid them in fighting HTS although this also comes amid seemingly contradictory reports that, in response to all this violence, Turkey has sealed off its borders with Idlib.

Updates to follow.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on July 21, 2017, 09:55:32 PM
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-21/turkey-poised-invade-syrias-idlib-province-inter-jihadist-violence-rages (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-21/turkey-poised-invade-syrias-idlib-province-inter-jihadist-violence-rages)
Turkey Poised To Invade Syria's Idlib Province As Inter-Jihadist Violence Rages
Tyler Durden
Jul 21, 2017

Two Salafi-jihadi factions in Syria's Idlib province have been engaged in a brutal inter-"rebel" (or rather inter-jihadist) war this week, prompting Turkey to prepare a potential invasion to protect its favored factions on the ground. On Thursday, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS/Al-Qaeda) continued to capture towns in Idlib's countryside from rival Ahrar al-Sham and Turkish backed FSA groups after an uneasy truce between the rebel factions quickly collapsed days prior, causing the weaker Ahrar al-Sham to call in Turkish support.

Multiple reports coming out of the region indicate that Turkey has been transferring hundreds of jihadists from its former Euphrates Shield forces in northern Aleppo province (the Turkish occupied "Jarabulus pocket") to Turkey's Hatay border region, where they began entering Idlib through the Ahrar controlled Bab al-Hawa crossing. However, in the early morning hours of Friday HTS reportedly captured part of the Bab al-Hawa crossing in a significant blow that could trigger a bigger Turkish response. A larger force may be awaiting word from Ankara for a full scale invasion involving Turkish Army troops which might come at any moment.

What is certain is that things are about to get even bloodier, and either Turkey will occupy yet more Syrian land, or the Syrian Army will eventually move in to mop up Idlib once the warring groups have depleted and utterly exhausted each other. The latter scenario is a likely possibility given increased Russian leverage over Turkish actions: Turkey would have to seek a nod from Moscow before occupying Idlib overtly. So far, Turkey's proxy forces are being swallowed up by the more formidable HTS.

Dozens of militants from both factions have been killed across the rebel controlled Idlib province in a week that's seen dramatic shifts in the geopolitical landscape over Syria, including sudden news of the White House's ending the CIA weapons program, as well as Turkey's leaking of US forward operating base locations in northern Syria through its state-run news channel, further escalating tensions between Turkey and the US.

On Wednesday Al-Masdar News reported the extent of initial fighting, which even involved tanks and other major weapons systems:

Full-scale war has broken out between a number of major Idlib-based militant factions. Opposition media is indicating that the forces involved are seizing entire townships from each other throughout Idlib and Hama, even going so far as to use heavy weapons (i.e. tanks) to do so.

 ...Ahrar Al-Sham is currently storming HTS bases at the town of Harem in northern Idlib. The two groups are also exchanging fire in the town of Salqin where both have bases. The engagement has thus far left 16 people dead, most of which are Ahrar al-Sham fighters.

Idlib's in-fighting can be seen as a mini civil war for leadership and land among terrorist factions. Some reports link the cause of this week's major escalation to a dispute over the presence of FSA and more "nationalist" flags being flown by Ahrar-aligned groups. Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which opposes FSA leaning groups, is essentially the current iteration of al-Nusra Front (now calling itself Fateh Al Sham), which is a coalition led by al-Qaeda's main off-shoot in Syria. While ISIS has been the focus of international headlines over the past years, Nusra has been no less barbaric in unleashing terrorism on civilians, and like ISIS it seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate.

Nusra's ideology is indistinguishable from that of ISIS, and the two were the same organization as they fought as one in Northern and Eastern Syria throughout much of 2013. More recently Nusra has made multiple attempts to rebrand itself in the hopes of attracting more external support. But rival Ahrar al-Sham has had more success in this area as it's been a favored so-called "moderate" opposition group of choice among prominent think tanks such as The Brookings Institution (which has a location in Qatar) - this in spite of being more accurately called the "Syrian Taliban" by some prominent experts for its brutal sharia style rule.

Shockingly, the group landed an op-ed piece in The Washington Post in 2015, and made a direct appeal to the American public, defending itself as "moderate" and not "extremist". Even now, Syrian opposition media and friendly political and media allies in the West are championing the cause of Ahrar al-Sham, continuing to claim it represents the true spirit of the "revolution".

(http://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user5/imageroot/2017/07/20/idlib%202.jpg)
Map source: Andrew Illingworth, Oz Analysis

But Ahrar al-Sham also has organizational roots in al-Qaeda, though external patrons - especially Qatar and Turkey - have long seen the group as a viable partner on the ground. Even the US has at times entered into a de facto relationship with both groups now vying for control of Idlib: in 2015 both Nusra and Ahrar were key leading factions of the umbrella organization "Army of Conquest" which captured Idlib City from the Syrian government in March 2015. As was widely reported at the time, US intelligence officers assisted the al-Qaeda stacked Army of Conquest from a US-Turkish led "operations room" in southern Turkey.

This week it was revealed that Trump made the decision earlier this month to shut down the years-long CIA covert program to aid rebel groups in Syria, while the Pentagon continues to support the Kurdish-led SDF as it fights in Raqqa and elsewhere. Various media pundits have immediately begun blaming the renewed Idlib chaos on Trump's closure of the CIA program. The Daily Beast's Roy Gutman (who actually believes Assad created ISIS) laments:

    As moderate rebel groups in Syria tried to digest the news that the U.S. will soon cease all covert support for them—a sudden revelation they learned from press reports—northern Syria descended into further chaos.

     

    ...Now the very existence of moderate local forces backed by the U.S. hangs in the balance.

And more absurdly the usual neocons are using this as an opportunity to call for revived CIA intervention a mere two days after the covert program's termination was announced: David Ignatius, quickly out with a teary-eyed post mortem on the CIA's Syria campaign (which he gleefully boasts in its heyday "may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies"), writes:

    Contrast the sad demise of the CIA’s anti-Assad program in western Syria with the rampaging campaign against the Islamic State in the east. What’s the difference? In the east, motivated, well-organized Syrian fighters are backed by U.S. warriors on the ground and planes in the sky. In this game, halfway is not the place to be.

Take your pick: Syrian al-Qaeda (HTS) or Syrian Taliban (Ahrar al-Sham)? As the jihadists of Idlib continue kill each other off the weeping and gnashing of teeth in Washington is sure to intensify.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on July 23, 2017, 10:01:20 PM
Shot down for bombing US allies the SDF.

https://www.rt.com/news/392941-us-led-coalition-downed-syrian-plane/ (https://www.rt.com/news/392941-us-led-coalition-downed-syrian-plane/)
US-led coalition downs Syrian army plane in southern Raqqa
18 Jun, 2017

The US-led coalition has downed a government warplane in southern Syria, the Syrian army and coalition have announced in separate statements. The Syrian military added that the plane’s pilot is now missing.

According to the Syrian statement, the plane was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in the countryside around Raqqa when it was targeted, leading to a crash and the loss of the pilot, who is currently missing.

“This attack comes at a time when the Syrian Arab army and its allies are advancing in the fight against ISIS terrorists who are being defeated in the Syrian desert in more ways than one,” the statement read.

The statement added that although such attacks seek to undermine the Syrian armed forces’ struggle against terrorism, they will not be deterred in fighting for stability and security in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The downing of the Syrian warplane, an Su-22, was confirmed by an official press statement from Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led international task force against IS, which accused the Syrian government of targeting fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia.

“At 6:43pm, a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet,” the statement read.

The statement added that its mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria and that the Coalition does not seek to “fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.”

This is not the first time that the US-led intervention in Syria has led to standoffs and violence against pro-government forces. In September 2016, a coalition airstrike on Deir ez-Zor killed over 60 Syrian soldiers while in April 2017, US President Donald Trump ordered a Tomahawk missile strike on the Shayrat airbase, ostensibly in retaliation for the use of chemical weapons by the Syria government, though no concrete evidence of this has emerged.

Earlier in June, the US deployed several High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) in southern Syria, close to the border with Jordan. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the presence of the rocket launchers cannot be justified by a need to fight Islamic State terrorists, as IS forces are not active in the area. Instead, their presence threatens the cooperation between the Syrian government and their partners in Iraq.
‘US trying to draw red lines for Syria’

Syria-based journalist Alaa Ebrahim told RT he believes that, by downing the Syrian jet, Washington is aiming to redraw “red lines” in the Syrian conflict and show that it won’t tolerate the involvement of the Syrian government’s armed forces in the liberation of Raqqa.

“The Americans don’t want the Syrian army to advance towards Deir ez-Zor, they don’t want the Syrian army to actually be present as part of the operation to retake Raqqa or to take any part of the Raqqa province,” Ebrahim said.

“The US is trying to draw boundaries in the Syrian conflict and red lines for the Syrian army not to cross them,” he added.

The journalist believes that the Syrian Army might go to great lengths to challenge the US strategy in Raqqa, as there are considerable concerns as to the outcome of the battle should the city eventually fall into the hands of the US-backed Kurdish-led SDF forces.

Ebrahim speculated that when IS is pushed out of Raqqa, the terrorists will be allowed “a safe way out and those fighters will have only one choice, to go to Deir ez-Zor and to try to take the city from the hands [of the Syrian Army].”

Such a relocation would put an additional strain on the Syrian armed forces trying to break the siege of the city that has been ongoing for over two years, he said, adding that Sunday’s downing of the plane is “part of the ongoing escalation” that has been on the rise in Syria for the past several months “since the US carried its first airstrike against pro-government forces.”
Address : <https://www.rt.com/news/392941-us-led-coalition-downed-syrian-plane/>
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on February 28, 2018, 05:57:19 PM
https://thesaker.is/escalation-in-syria-how-far-can-the-russians-be-pushed-2/
Escalation In Syria – How Far Can The Russians Be Pushed?
The Saker
February 28, 2018

Events in Syria have recently clearly taken a turn for the worse and there is an increasing amount of evidence that the Russian task force in Syria is being targeted by a systematic campaign of “harassing attacks”.

The recent incident, like drone and mortar attack on the Russian Aerospace Forces base in Khmeimin, the shooting down of a Russian SU-25, so-called Russian casualties in US airstrikes in Deir Ezzor, likely indicate on starting of implementation of a new US strategy in Syria: to punish the Russians as much as possible short of an overt US attack on Russian forces. This hypothesis is based on the following reasons:

First, the USA and Israel are still reeling in humiliation and impotent rage over their defeat in Syria: Assad is still in power, ISIS is more or less defeated, the Russians were successful not only their military operations against ISIS but also in their campaign to bring as many “good terrorists” to the negotiating table as possible. With the completion of a successful conference on Syria in Russia and the general agreement of all parties to begin working on a new constitution, there was a real danger of peace breaking out, something the US and Israeli-led block is absolutely determined to oppose.

Second, both Trump and Netanyahu have promised to bring in lots of “victories” to prove how manly and strong they are. Starting an overt war against Russian would definitely be a “proof of manhood”, but a much too dangerous one. Killing Russians “on the margins”, so to speak, either with plausible deniability or, alternatively, killing Russians private contractors is much safer and thus far more tempting option.

Third, there are presidential elections coming up in Russia and the US Americans are still desperately holding on to their sophomoric notion that if they create trouble for Putin they can somehow negatively impact his popularity in Russia.

Last but not least, since the US and Israeli-led block has long lost the ability to actually getting anything done, their logical fall-back position is not let anybody else succeed either. This is the main purpose of the entire US deployment in northern Syria: to create trouble for Turkey, Iran, Syria and, of course, Russia.

The bottom line is this: since the US Americans have declared that they will (illegally) stay in Syria until the situation “stabilizes” they now must do everything their power to destabilize Syria. Yes, there is a kind of a perverse logic to all that…

Step one: encouraging the Turks

There is a counter-intuitive but in many ways an ideal solution for Russia to counter the US invasion of Syria: involve the Turks. And do it not by attacking the US forces directly, but by attacking the Kurdish militias the US Americans are currently “hiding” behind. While the US and Israel will have no second thoughts whatsoever before striking Syrian or Iranian forces, actually striking Turkish forces would carry an immense political risk: following the US-backed coup attempt against Erdogan and, just to add insult to injury, the US backing for the creation of a “mini-Kurdistsan” both in Iraq and in Syria, US-Turkish relations are at an all-time low and it would not take much to push the Turks over the edge with potentially cataclysmic consequences for the US, EU, NATO, CENTCOM and Israel interests in the region. Truly, there is no overstating the strategic importance of Turkey for Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle-East, and the US Americans know that. From this flows a very real if little understood consequence: the Turkish armed forces in Syria basically enjoy what one would call a “political immunity” from any US attacks, that is to say that no matter what the Turks do, the US would never consider actually openly using force against them simply because the consequence of, say, a USAF strike on a Turkish army column would be too serious to contemplate.

In fact, the US-Turkish relationship is so bad and so one-sided that one would see a Turkish attack on a Kurdish column/position with embedded US Special Forces far more likely than a US attack on a Turkish army column. This might sound counter-intuitive, but let’s say the Turks did attack a Kurdish column/position with US personnel and that US servicemen would die as the result. What could the US do? Not only is the notion of the US attacking a fellow NATO country member is quite unthinkable, it would most likely be followed by a Turkish demand that the US/NATO completely withdraw from Turkey’s territory and airspace. In theory, the US could ask the Israelis to do their dirty job for them, but the Israelis are not stupid and they won’t have much interest in starting a shooting war with Turkey over what is a US-created problem in a “mini-Kurdistan”.

No, if the Turks actually killed US servicemen there would be protests and a flurry of “consultations” and other symbolic actions, but beyond that, the US would take the losses and do nothing about it. As for Erdogan, his popularity at home would only soar even higher. What all this means in practical terms is that if there is one actor which can seriously disrupt the US operations in northern Syria, or even force the US to withdraw, it is Turkey. That kind of capability also gives Turkey a lot of bargaining power with Russia and Iran which Erdogan will carefully use to his own benefit. So far Erdogan has only threatened to deliver an “Ottoman slap” to the USA and Secretary of State Tillerson is traveling to Ankara to try to avert a disaster, but the Turkish instance that the USA chose either the Turkish or the Kurdish side in the conflict very severely limits the chances of any real breakthrough. One should never say never, but it would take something of a miracle at this point to really salvage the US-Turkish relationship. Russia can try to capitalize on this dynamic.

The main weakness of this entire concept is, of course, that the USA is still powerful enough, including inside Turkey, and it would be very dangerous for Erdogan to try to openly confront and defy Uncle Sam. So far, Erdogan has been acting boldly and in overt defiance of the USA, but he also understands the risks of going too far and for him to even consider taking such risks there have to be prospects of major benefits from him. Here the Russians have two basic options: either to promise the Turks something very inciting or to somehow further deteriorate the current relationship between the US and Turkey.

The other obvious risk is that any anti-Kurdish operation can turn into yet another partition of Syria, this time by the Turks. However, the reality is that the Turks can’t really stay for too long in Syria, especially not if Russia and Iran oppose this. There is also the issue of international law which is much easier for the USA to ignore than for the Turks.

For all these reasons using the Turks to put pressure on the USA has its limitations. Still, if the Turks continue to insist that the USA stop supporting the Kurds, or if they continue putting military pressure on the Kurdish militias, then the entire US concept of a US-backed “mini-Kurdistan” collapses and, with it, the entire US partition plan for Syria.

So far, the Iraqis have quickly dealt with the US-sponsored “mini-Kurdistan” in Iraq and the Turks are now taking the necessary steps to deal with the US-sponsored “mini-Kurdistan” in Syria at which point *their* problem will be solved. The Turks are not interested in helping Assad or, for that matter, Putin and they don’t care what happens to Syria as long as *their* Kurdish problem is under control. This means that the Syrians, Russians, and Iranians should not place too much hope on the Turks turning against the USA unless, of course, the correct circumstances are created. Only the future will tell whether the Russians and the Iranians will be able to help to create such circumstances.

Step two: saturating Syria with mobile modern short/middle range air defenses

Right now nobody knows what kind of air-defense systems the Russians have been delivering to the Syrians over the past couple of years, but that is clearly the way to go for the Russians: delivering as many modern and mobile air defense systems to the Syrians. While this would be expensive, the best solution here would be to deliver as many Pantsir-S1 mobile Gun/SAM systems and 9K333 Verba MANPADs as possible to the Syrians and the Iranians. The combination of these two systems would immensely complicate any kind of air operations for the US Americans and Israelis, especially since there would be no practical way of reliably predicting the location from which they could operate. And since both the USA and Israel are operating in the Syrian skies in total violation of international law while the Syrian armed forces would be protecting their own sovereign airspace, such a delivery of air-defense systems by Russia to Syria would be impeccably legal. Best of all, it would be absolutely impossible for the US and Israeli-led block to know who actually shot at them since these weapon systems are mobile and easy to conceal. Just like in Korea, Vietnam or Lebanon, Russian crews could even be sent to operate the Syrian air defense systems and there would be no way for anybody to prove that “the Russians did it” when US and Israeli aircraft would start falling out of the skies. The Russians would enjoy what the CIA calls “plausible deniability”.

The other option for the Russians would be to offer upgrades (software and missile) to the existing Syrian air defense systems, especially their road-mobile 2K12 Kub and 9K37 Buk systems. Such upgrades, especially if combined with enough deployed Pantsirs and Verbas would be a nightmare for both the US Americans and the Israelis. The Turks would not care much since they are already basically flying with the full approval of the Russians anyway, and neither would the Iranians.

One objection to this plan would be that two can play this game and that there is nothing preventing the USA from sending even more advanced MANPADs to their “good terrorist” allies, but that argument entirely misses the point: if both sides do the same thing, the side which is most dependent on air operations (the USA) stands to lose much more than the side which has the advantage on the ground (the Russians). Furthermore, by sending MANPADs to Syria, the USA is alienating a putative ally, Turkey, whereas if Russia sends MANPADs and other SAMs to Syria the only one who will be complaining will be the Israelis. When that happens, the Russians will have a simple and truthful reply: we did not start this game, your US allies did, you can go and thank them for this mess.

The main problem in Syria is the fact that the US and the Israelis are currently operating in the Syrian skies with total impunity. If this changes, this will be a slow and gradual process. First, there would be a few isolated losses (like the Israeli F-16 recently), then we would see that the location of US and/or Israeli airstrikes would gradually shift from urban centers and central command posts to smaller, more isolated targets. This would indicate an awareness that the most lucrative targets are already too well defended. Eventually, the number of air sorties would be gradually replaced by cruise and ballistic missiles strikes. Underlying it all would be a shift from offensive air operations to force protection which, in turn, would give the Syrians, Iranians, and Hezbollah a much easier environment to operate in. But the necessary first step for any of that to happen would be to dramatically increase the capability of Syrian air defenses.

Hezbollah has, for decades, very successfully operated under a total Israelis air supremacy and their experience of this kind of operations would be invaluable to the Syrians until they sufficiently built up their air defense capabilities.

Conclusion: is counter-escalation really the only option?

Some starting to believe that the Empire has decided to attempt upon a partial “reconquista” of Syria, even Macron is making some noises about striking the Syrians to “punish” them for their use of (non-existing) chemical weapons. At the very least, the USA wants to make the Russians pay as high a price as possible for their role in Syria. Further US goals in Syria include:

So far the Russian response to this developing strategy has been a rather a passive one and the current escalation strongly suggests that a new approach might be needed. The shooting down of the Israeli F-16 is a good first step, but much more needs to be done to dramatically increase the costs the Empire will have to pay for is policies towards Syria. The increase in the number of Russian commentators and analysts demanding a stronger reaction to the current provocations might be a sign that something is in the making.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on February 28, 2018, 06:25:01 PM
https://thesaker.is/escalation-in-syria-how-far-can-the-russians-be-pushed-2/
Escalation In Syria – How Far Can The Russians Be Pushed?

"Plausible Deniability" is the Name of the Game here, for both sides.  As far as the Options go, I favor upgrading the missile capability and shooting down more aircraft.  The Turks are too undependable for either side to rely on.

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 03, 2018, 12:32:50 AM
This is the sort of thing Saker is best at.  I don't think he puts enough emphasis on how important it is to see what the enemies do radar-wise the very first time a new plane appears in a busy war theatre. It is the only time you get to see them without them knowing what they are looking at.  So that explains the shortness of the stay, given the lack of protective hangars in Syria.  Coming in the same week as Putin's announcement of latest missile technology, it was obviously part of the same sabre-rattling exercise.

https://thesaker.is/making-sense-of-the-russian-5th-generation-fighters-in-syria/
Making sense of the Russian 5th generation fighters in Syria
The Saker
March 02, 2018

When I got an email from a friend telling me that a pair of Su-57s was seen landing at the Russian Aerospace Forces base in Kheimim, Syria, I immediately dismissed it as a fake. The list of reasons why this could not be true would run for pages. I knew that, so I simply replied: “that’s a fake” and forgot about it. Over the next couple of days, however, this story was picked up by various websites and bloggers, but it still made no sense. Still, what kept me feeling really puzzled was that the Russian official sources did not dismiss the story, but chose to remain silent. Then another two Su-57s were reported. And then, suddenly, the Russian media was flooded with stories about how the Su-57s were sent to Syria as an act of “revenge” for the killing of Russian PMCs by the US; that the Su-57s had basically flattened eastern Ghouta while killing about “2000 Americans“. This was truly some crazy nonsense so I decided to find out what really happened and, so far, here is what I found out.

First, amazingly enough, the reports of the Su-57 in Syria are true. Some say 2 aircraft, some say 4 (out of a current total of 13). It doesn’t really matter, what matters is that the deployment of a few Su-57s in Syria is a fact and that this represents a dramatic departure from normal Russian (and Soviet) practice.

Introducing the Sukhoi 57 5th generation multi-role fighter

The Su-57 (aka “PAK-FA” aka “T-50”) is the first real 5th generation multi-role aircraft produced by Russia. All the other Russian multi-role and air superiority aircraft previously deployed in Syria (such as the Su-30SM and the Su-35S) are 4++ aircraft, not true 5th generation. One might be forgiven for thinking that 4++ is awfully close to 5, but it really is not. 4++ generation aircraft are really 4th generation aircraft upgraded with a number of systems and capabilities typically associated with a 5th generation, but they all lack several key components of a true 5th generation aircraft such as:

    a low radar cross-section (“stealth”),
    the capability to fly at supersonic speeds without using afterburners,
    the ability to carry weapons inside a special weapons bay (as opposed to outside, under its wings or body)
    an advanced “situational awareness” (network-centric) capability (sensor and external data fusion).

To make a long story short, the difference between 4th and 5th generation aircraft is really huge and requires not one, but several very complex “technological jumps” especially in the integrations of numerous complex systems.

The only country which currently has a deployed real 5th generation fighter is the USA with its F-22. In theory, the USA also has another 5th generation fighter, the F-35, but the latter is such a terrible design and has such immense problems that for our purposes we can pretty much dismiss it. As for now, the F-22 is the only “real deal”: thoroughly tested and fully deployed in substantial numbers. The Russian Su-57 is still years away from being able to make such a claim as it has not been thoroughly tested or deployed in substantial numbers. That is not to say that the Russians are not catching up really fast, they are, but as of right now, the Su-57 has only completed the first phase of testing. The normal Soviet/Russian procedure should have been at this time to send a few aircraft to the Russian Aerospace Forces (RAF) base in Lipetsk to familiarize the military crews with the aircraft and continue the testing while getting the feedback, not from test pilots but from actual air combat instructors. This second phase of testing could easily last 6 months or more and reveal a very large number of “minor” problems many of which could actually have very severe consequences in an actual combat deployment. In other words, the Su-57 is still very “raw” and probably needs a lot of tuning before it can be deployed in combat. How “raw”? Just one example: as of today, only one of the currently existing Su-57 flies with the new supercruise-capable engines, all the others use a 4th generation type engine. This is no big deal, but it goes to show that a lot of work still needs to be done on this aircraft before it becomes fully operational.

The notion that the Russians sent the Su-57 to Syria to somehow compete with the F-22s or otherwise participate in actual combat is ludicrous. While, on paper, the Su-57 is even more advanced and capable than the F-22, in reality, the Su-57 presents no credible threat to the US forces in Syria (if the Russians really wanted to freak out the Americans, they could have, for example, decided to keep a pair of MiG-31BMs on 24/7 combat air patrol over Syria). The Russian reports about these aircraft flattening Ghouta or killing thousands of Americans are nothing more than cheap and inflammatory propaganda from ignorant Russian nationalists who don’t seem to realize that flattening urban centers is not even the theoretical mission of the Su-57. In fact, as soon as these crazy reports surfaced, Russians analysts immediately dismissed them as nonsense.

Utter nonsense is hardly the monopoly of Russian nationalists, however. The folks at the National Interest reposted an article (initially posted on the blog The War is Boring) which basically dismissed the Su-57 as a failed and dead project and its deployment in Syria as a “farce” (I should tip my hat off to the commentators at the National Interest who immediately saw through the total ridiculous nature of this article and wondered if Lockheed had paid for it). On the other hand, in the western insanity spectrum, we have the UK’s Daily Express which wrote about Vladimir Putin sending his “fearsome new state-of-the-art Su-57” into the Syrian war zone. Just like with the Kuznetsov, the Ziomedia can’t decide if the Russian hardware is an antiquated, useless pile of scrap metal or a terrifying threat which ought to keep the entire world up at night. Maybe both at the same time? With paranoid narcissists, you can’t tell. Finally, the notion that Putin (personally?) sent these 4 aircraft to Syria to help him in his re-election campaign (peddled by the Russophobes at Ha’aretz) is also devoid of all truth and makes me wonder if those who write that kind of crap are even aware of Putin’s popularity numbers.

So what is really going on?

Well, frankly, that is hard to say, and Russian officials are being tight-lipped about it. Still, various well informed Russian analysts have offered some educated guesses as to what is taking place. The short version is this: the Su-57s were only sent to Syria to test their avionics in a rich combat-like electromagnetic environment. The more detailed version would be something like this:

The Su-57 features an extremely complex and fully integrated avionics suite which will include three X band active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar (one main, two side-looking), another two L band active electronically scanned array radars in the wing’s leading edge extensions, plus an integrated electro-optical system location system (working in infra-red, visible and ultra-violet frequencies). All these sensors are fused (5 radars, 2 bands, plus passive optics) and they are then combined with the data received by the Su-57’s advanced electronic warfare suite and a high-speed encrypted datalink, connecting the aircraft to other airborne, space, as well as ground-based sensors. This is not unlike what the USA is trying to achieve with the F-35, but on an even more complex level (even in theory, the F-35 is a comparatively simpler, and much less capable, aircraft). One could see how it would be interesting to test all this gear in a radiation-rich environment like the Syrian skies where the Russians have advanced systems (S-400, A-50U, etc.) and where the USA and Israel also provide a lot of very interesting signals (including US and Israeli AWACS, F-22s and F-35s, etc.). To re-create such a radiation-rich environment in Russia would be very hard and maybe even impossible. The question whether this is worth the risk?

The risks of this deployment in Syria are very real and very serious. As far as I know, there are still no bombproof shelters built (yet) and Russia recently lost a number of aircraft (some not totally, some totally) when the “good terrorists” used mortars against the Khmeimim base. So now we have FOUR Su-57s (out of how many total, maybe 12 or 13?!), each worth 50-100 million dollars under an open sky in a war zone?! What about operational security? What about base security?

There is also a political risk. It is well known that the USA has been putting an immense political pressure on India to withdraw from the joint development between Russia and India of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) or Perspective Multi-role Fighter (PMF) program. To make things worse, India currently has too many parallel aircraft programs and there are, reportedly, disagreements between the Russians and the Indians on design features. With the apparently never-ending disaster of the F-35, the very last thing the USA needs is a successful Russian 5th generation competitor showing up anywhere on the planet (especially one which has the clear potential to far outclass both the successful F-22 and the disastrous F-35). One can easily imagine what the AngloZionist propaganda machine will do should even a minor problem happen to the Su-57 while in Syria (just read the National Interest article quoted above to see what the mindset is in the West)!

The Su-57 also has formidable competitors inside Russia: the 4++ generation aircraft mentioned above, especially the Su-35S. Here we have a similar dynamic as with the F-22: while on paper the Su-57 is clearly superior to the Su-35S, in the real world the Su-35S is a well tested and deployed system which, unlike the F-22, also happens to be much cheaper than the Su-57 (the F-22 being at least twice as expensive than the Su-57). This issue is especially relevant for the internal, Russian market. So the real question for the RAF is simple: does Russia really need the Su-57 and, if yes, in what numbers?

This is a very complex question, both technically and politically and to even attempt to answer it, a lot of very debatable assumptions have to be made about what kind of threats the RAF will face in the future and what kind of missions it will be given. The biggest problem for the Russians is that they already have an array of extremely successful combat aircraft, especially the Su-35S and the formidable Su-34. Should Russia deploy more of these or should she place huge resources into a new very complex and advanced aircraft? Most Russian analysts would probably agree that Russia needs to be able to deploy some minimal number of real 5th generation combat aircraft, but they would probably disagree on what exactly that minimal number ought to be. The current 4++ generation aircraft are very successful and more than a match for their western counterparts, with the possible exception of the F-22. But how likely is it that Russians and US Americans will really start a shooting war?

Furthermore, the real outcome from a theoretical Su-35S vs F-22 (which so many bloggers love to speculate about) would most likely depend much more on tactics and engagement scenarios than on the actual capabilities of these aircraft. Besides, should the Su-35s and F-22s even be used in anger against each other, a lot would also depend on what else is actually happening around them and where exactly this engagement would take place. Furthermore, to even look at this issue theoretically, we would need to compare not only the actual aircraft but also their weapons. I submit that the outcome of any Su-35S vs F-22 engagement would be impossible to predict (unless you are a flag-waving patriot, in which case you will, of course, be absolutely certain that “your” side will win). If I am correct, then this means that there is no compelling case to be made that Russia needs to deploy Su-57s in large numbers and that the Su-30SM+Su-35S air superiority combo is more than enough to deter the Americans.

    [Sidebar: this is a recurrent problem for Russian weapons and weapon systems: being so good that there is little incentive to produce something new. The best example of that is the famous AK-47 Kalashnikov which was modernized a few times, such as the AKM-74, but which has yet to be replaced with a fundamentally new and truly different assault rifle. There are plenty of good candidates out there, but each time one has to wonder if the difference in price is worth the effort. The original Su-27 (introduced in 1985) was such an immense success that it served as a basis for a long series of immensely successful variants including the ones we now see in Syria, the Su-30SM, the Su-35S and even the amazing Su-34 (which still has no equivalent anywhere in the world). Sometimes a weapon, or weapon system, can be even “too successful” and create a problem for future modernization efforts.]

Whatever may be the case, the future of the Su-57 is far from being secured and this might also, in part, explain the decision to send a few of them to Syria: not only to test its avionics suite, but also to score a PR success by raising the visibility and, especially, the symbolical role of the aircraft. Russian officials admitted that the deployment to Syria was scheduled to coincide with the celebration of the “Defender of the Fatherland” day. This kind of move breaks with normal Soviet/Russian procedures and I have to admit that I am most uncomfortable with this development and while I would not go as far as to call it a “farce” (like the article in the National Interest did), it does look like a PR stunt to me. And I wonder: if the Russians are taking such a risk, what is it that drives such a sense of urgency? I don’t believe that anybody in Russia seriously thinks that the US will be deterred, or even be impressed by this, frankly, hasty deployment. So I suspect that this development is linked to the uncertainty of the future of the Su-57 procurement program. Hopefully, the risks will pay-off and the Su-57 will get all the avionics testing it requires and all the funding and export contracts it needs.

Addendum:

Just as I was writing these words, the Russians have announced (see here and here) that the Israeli satellite images were fakes, that the the Su-57 stayed only two days in Syria and that they have been flown back to Russia. Two days? Frankly, I don’t buy it. What this looks like to me is that what looks like a PR stunt has now backfired, including in the Russian social media, and that Russia decided to bring these aircraft back home. Now *that* sounds like a good idea to me.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 06, 2018, 12:13:27 AM
“The nature of our mission in Syria has not changed”, (except it has).

https://www.rt.com/news/420557-pentagon-syria-operational-pause/ (https://www.rt.com/news/420557-pentagon-syria-operational-pause/)
‘Operational pause’: Turkish offensive in Syria’s Afrin forces US to halt anti-ISIS battle
6 Mar, 2018

On January 20, Turkey, with the help of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA), launched Operation Olive Branch, a massive cross-border operation to clear Kurdish militias and remnants of jihadist fighters from Afrin, Syria. For over a month, the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the backbone of which is formed by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), have split their efforts between battling the Turkish incursion and supporting the US agenda in northern Syria.

On Monday, the Pentagon spokesman Colonel Robert Manning acknowledged that the Turkish offensive had affected the US-led fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists on the ground, effectively leading to an “operational pause.”
Read more
© Ozan Kose What the US and Turkey really want in Northern Syria

Ground operations against Islamic State in the Euphrates River Valley have been temporarily suspended, Manning told reporters, stressing, however, that US airstrikes in the area are continuing.

“It is an extraordinary situation because you have US proxy army in Syria, i.e. the Kurds, have departed the battlefield that the US has them on to go fight a US ally, a NATO ally Turkey,” Daniel McAdams, the executive director of the Ron Paul Institute, told RT.

“Some fighters operating within the SDF have decided to leave operations in the middle Euphrates river valley to fight elsewhere, possibly in Afrin,” Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, another Pentagon spokesman, admitted on Monday. “They’re not fighting ISIS anymore, and that basically meant that they’re not taking territory back from ISIS as quickly as they had been in the past.”

The Turkish operation in Afrin has strained relations between the US and its major NATO ally. Ankara considers the Kurdish militias to be an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been outlawed in Turkey as a terrorist organization. Turkey has long been anxious about the autonomy ambitions of the Kurds, who seized control of vast territories in northern Syria with the help of the Pentagon. Tensions have continued to rise since the US announced the plan to sponsor the creation of a 30,000-strong border security force, half of which would be recruited from Kurdish-led forces.

Despite Ankara’s objections, Washington remains committed to using the SDF to secure their objectives in Syria. “The nature of our mission in Syria has not changed,” Manning said on Monday, reaffirming that SDF remains a “major partner” on the ground in Syria.

The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the Turkish operation as yet another violation of the country’s sovereignty, following years of “aggression” against the Syrian people by the US-led coalition. Further complicating the situation in the area, pro-Damascus militias were also been deployed to Afrin late last month after an appeal from the Kurds to reinforce locals in their resistance against the Turks.

“What is the US doing in Eastern Syria if it is not fighting ISIS?” McAdams asked, questioning Washington’s stated goals. “Does the US hope that the Syrian government gets further drawn into the fight with the Kurds against Turks? Then the US can swing back around and help its Turkish ally in fighting the Syrian government and Kurds as well?”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 06, 2018, 07:53:17 PM
https://www.rt.com/op-ed/420521-syria-eastern-ghouta-aleppo-media/ (https://www.rt.com/op-ed/420521-syria-eastern-ghouta-aleppo-media/)
Syria War: What the mainstream media isn’t telling you about Eastern Ghouta
Rania Khalek
5 Mar, 2018

As Syrian government forces battle Jaysh al-Islam to retake Eastern Ghouta, Western media outlets have totally ignored the atrocities of the insurgents, preferring to blame all the violence on the "regime."

They're at it again, howling about a town in Syria that’s being retaken by the government. This time it’s Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus and one of the last remaining strongholds of the Islamist insurgency that has torn the country apart over the last seven years.

Before Eastern Ghouta it was Aleppo and before Aleppo it was Madaya and before Madaya it was Homs, and so on. All of these places were framed as though there were no armed insurgents present, and the Syrian authorities were just mercilessly massacring civilians out of cartoonishly villainous bloodlust. If the insurgents were mentioned, they were usually (and still are) presented by the western press as moderate rebels and freedom fighters.

So if your only understanding of Eastern Ghouta comes from the mainstream media, then you’re left with the impression that there’s a one-sided conflict taking place between the Syrian government and its civilians. But this war isn’t so simple.
Jihadist leaders

The "rebels" in charge of Eastern Ghouta are a collection of jihadist groups, the strongest of which is Jaysh al-Islam, or the Army of Islam, a Salafi-Jihadist group backed by Saudi Arabia that seeks to replace the Syrian government with an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). Jaysh al-Islam is extremely sectarian and just as nasty in its rhetoric, tactics and goals as IS. It engages in public executions and has publicly bragged about parading caged civilians from the minority Alawite sect in the streets as human shields. The group’s founder, the late Zahran Alloush, openly called for the ethnic cleansing of religious minorities from Damascus.

The second largest group is Faylaq al-Rahman, which is allied with Hayet Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS, the latest name for Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate. HTS also has a small presence in Eastern Ghouta as well as Ahar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki, former recipients of US weapons whose fighters videotaped themselves beheading a teenage boy.
Read more
The eastern Ghouta region, on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, Syria © Hamza Al-Ajweh ‘US accusations against Russia over E. Ghouta are escalation of information war’

Most recently, civilians fleeing Eastern Ghouta have described being fired on by militants seeking to prevent them from escaping to the safety of government-controlled territory, another fact that Western media outlets refuse to report. Reports that insurgents were withholding food and humanitarian aid from civilians have similarly been ignored by the mainstream.
Information war

Syria is perhaps the most heavily propagandized civil war in history. Tens of millions of dollars have been spent by Western governments and their regional allies building a media apparatus that sanitizes the insurgency, blames all of the violence on the government and agitates for more forceful Western military intervention against Syrian president Bashar Assad. And Western media outlets have come to rely on these propaganda sources for information about the conflict.

The most famous is the White Helmets, a rescue group heavily funded by the US and UK governments. Marketed by a top PR firm, the White Helmets openly advocate for regime change while working alongside Al-Qaeda-linked rebels in opposition areas. Some of its members have participated in atrocities on video, a fact almost entirely ignored by Western media, which is enamored with the group.

The other go-to source for Western media outlets is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring organization that is run by one man working from his house in Britain who is openly biased towards the opposition. 

Western media also frequently relies on self-described “media activists” in areas of Syria controlled by militant groups. But these groups don’t tolerate activism or journalism. In fact, they are known to jail, torture and summarily execute activists, lawyers, humanitarian workers, journalists and minorities. That’s why Western journalists can’t travel to insurgent-held areas of Syria: because they’ll likely be kidnapped, ransomed or killed.

This should raise serious questions about anyone purporting to be an independent source of information from inside insurgent-held Syria because it’s impossible for people to put out information without the permission of the jihadist authorities who have an interest in promoting a narrative that provokes outrage and spurs intervention. This is especially true in Eastern Ghouta, where insurgents are currently losing ground. The only thing that can save Jaysh al-Islam from defeat is outside intervention.               

Of course, information coming from government areas should also be treated with skepticism. Because, after all, governments also lie. But in the case of Syria, the western press already treats media reports out of Syrian government areas as if they’re all made-up, while unquestioningly regurgitating whatever the insurgents say as fact. Meanwhile, the media totally ignores victims in government areas.
Read more
© Ozan Kose What the US and Turkey really want in Northern Syria

For years, insurgents in Eastern Ghouta have terrorized and killed thousands of civilians living in Damascus, which you almost never hear about in the West. Instead, mainstream outlets are busy crying out for the west to do something.
Al-Qaeda death squads

And that brings us to one of the Western media’s most pernicious lies, how Western inaction allowed the bloodshed in Syria to continue with impunity. But the west has intervened in Syria and by doing so it prolonged the slaughter and empowered Al-Qaeda.

Despite being warned as early as November 2011 that the armed opposition was dominated by violent sectarian extremists, the Obama administration spent $1 billion a year training and funneling weapons to an insurgency they knew was linked to Al-Qaeda in order to overthrow the Syrian government. Al-Qaeda has built its largest affiliate in history as a direct result of this reckless US regime change policy.

In other words, the US government outsourced its war on Syria to Al-Qaeda death squads and Americans have no idea because Western media continue to promote lies about the West’s so-called inaction.

This is not about glorifying the Syrian government, which is indeed authoritarian and extremely flawed. It’s about what would have replaced the government had it collapsed. The alternative was unacceptable to most Syrians. That is why the vast majority of Syrians – at least 75 percent as of 2016, a number that is certainly higher today as the government has recaptured vast swathes of territory from insurgents – live in government-controlled areas. In fact, millions fled to the safety of government controlled cities after insurgents violently captured their areas to escape the criminal behavior of the armed insurgents. Others fled because they feared the government bombing that the extremist groups invited when they entered.
Read more
State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert © Mandel Ngan The great US disinformation double standard

To really understand the severity of what the US did in Syria, let’s put it in the American context. It would be the equivalent of America’s adversaries funding and arming the KKK to invade and occupy cities in the US and the media then describing the KKK militias as “moderate rebels” and “freedom fighters” as they kill minorities and shell civilians in Washington, New York and Los Angeles. Imagine how Washington might react in such a scenario. Well actually you don’t have to imagine. Look no further than their global killing spree after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which ironically enough created the Al-Qaeda threat in the Middle East to begin with.
Double standards

And then there’s the massive double standard at play.

After IS captured large swathes of territory in Iraq, the Iraqi government, with American air support, launched a series of operations to retake cities like Mosul and Fallujah and Tikrit, which the Western press almost always celebrated as liberation.

Meanwhile in Syria, the Syrian government, with Russian air support, has used many of the same military tactics to retake cities like Aleppo and Eastern Ghouta from groups no different than IS, yet the media has framed those operations as heinous acts that amount to genocide.

The conflict in Syria might be a confusing and complicated mess. But as the howls from the mainstream press for the West to do something grow louder, it’s important to stay mindful of the fact that there is an agenda behind their one-sided version of reality.
Title: 👁️ Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on March 07, 2018, 12:34:20 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/7armq343Sqs
Title: “It’s Raining Rockets”: Deadly New Syrian-Russian Assault Kills Hundreds in East
Post by: RE on March 08, 2018, 05:47:16 PM
https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/deadly-new-syrian-russian-assault-kills-hundreds-in-eastern-ghouta (https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/deadly-new-syrian-russian-assault-kills-hundreds-in-eastern-ghouta)

News Desk
“It’s Raining Rockets”: Deadly New Syrian-Russian Assault Kills Hundreds in Eastern Ghouta

(https://media.newyorker.com/photos/5aa169c6c8e61642f7ab4c08/master/w_649,c_limit/Ali-Hundreds-Die-in-New-Syrian-Russian-Assault.jpg)

By Rozina Ali

6:04 P.M.

On February 19th, the Syrian government’s heavy bombing of the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged eastern Ghouta region, outside of Damascus, killed dozens of civilians.
Photograph by Abdulmonam Essa / AFP / Getty

Two weeks ago, Mouaz Khaboutily, a Syrian photographer who works with an anti-government group, called me from the rebel-controlled Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta. Khaboutily had sheltered in a bunker as Syrian and Russian forces launched an offensive to retake the enclave of nearly four hundred thousand people. During what he hoped was a pause in the fighting, he risked a trip to the street in order to find Internet access and see if the U.N. Security Council had brokered a ceasefire. “I’d be a liar if I said this is not dangerous,” the twenty-eight-year-old told me over WhatsApp. As he stood on the street, warplanes began flying overhead. After two minutes, we agreed that he should hang up and find shelter. The warplanes had dropped bombs four times while he was on the phone—one, he estimated, was just two hundred yards away.

In the last two weeks, one thousand and forty-two people, including about a hundred and fifty-six children, have been killed in eastern Ghouta, in what human-rights groups fear is a final, all-out offensive to retake one of the few remaining rebel-held enclaves in the country. Bombings by Syrian and Russian planes have been indiscriminate, killing civilians, levelling homes, and destroying medical facilities. Bashar al-Assad’s regime—with the full support of Vladimir Putin and the Russian military—have flouted calls for a complete ceasefire.

More than thirty medical facilities in eastern Ghouta and other parts of the country have been struck by Syrian and Russian air strikes since mid-February, and many of them are no longer functioning, according to Violations Documentation Center, a human-rights organization founded by opposition activists in Syria. “They’re using weapons that are guided, unlike barrel bombs,” Mona Zeineddine, a London-based spokeswoman for the group, told me. “If a town or village loses its hospital, and given how hard it is to commute between towns, it’s devastating to the people.”

A thirty-eight-year-old school teacher, who asked to be called Sarah, said that, in the initial days of the bombardments, she and ten members of her family, including five children, lived in one room in their house. At first, they prepared to live in the basement of their building, filling it with clothes, papers, shoes, and food. On February 24th, the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution that called for a thirty-day ceasefire. At 11 A.M. the next day, Sarah heard the sound of a plane. “It was obvious that ceasefire is a big lie,” she later wrote to me, in an e-mail. “The planes hit a village . . . . We knew they would return to hit other cities in Ghouta.”

When night fell, Sarah and her family decided to flee to a nearby basement that they hoped would be safer. To ensure the survival of some family members, they divided into three teams taking separate routes. When one missile fell, and then another, and another, they took shelter. “A missile hit the roof of the building where we were hiding, and the children cried more and more,” she wrote. “We decided to run: whatever happens, never stop . . . . We ran, missiles came again, a child fell down. I carried her and kept running.”

They finally made it to the basement, but it reminded her of one of “the regime’s prisons.” “There were about a hundred persons in a 150-square meter basement,” Sarah wrote. “No lighting, no water, no food, even no place to have a nap.”

One day, a local organization came to offer food to the people inside. They brought cooked rice—a total of one and a half kilos. “I looked at the man in charge of distribution and said there are a hundred people inside,” she wrote. The man told her to distribute the rice to the fifty children. Sarah gave each of them three small spoonfuls of rice. “They were waiting for food, and when they discovered the real amount, they couldn’t help their tears.”

Seven years ago, the towns of Douma, Kafr Batna, Saqba, and Harasta, in eastern Ghouta, were the sites of some of the first mass protests against Assad. The regime gradually lost control of the area in 2012, and civilians created local councils that provided municipal services. The following year, the Syrian regime began blocking the flow of food, medicine, and aid to the region. Hundreds died from lack of medical care or malnutrition, and those that survived paid exorbitant prices for rice, wheat, and other necessities. In August, 2013, in one of the most brutal acts of the war, the government attacked the suburb with sarin gas, killing an estimated fifteen hundred people. Popular support for the insurgent groups operating inside the area grew. Jaish al-Islam, an Islamist group, and Failaq al-Rahman, an offshoot of the Free Syrian Army, eventually emerged as the two most powerful opposition factions, and now rule most of eastern Ghouta.

Bayan Rehan, a member of a local council in the besieged city of Douma, told me in a recent phone interview that she had not eaten for sixteen hours. “Life has stopped,” she said. “Nobody dares walks on the street. It’s raining rockets.” Venturing onto the streets to find food, she said, was “a suicide mission.” That day, no wheat was available in the local market. Aid groups say the cost of a kilo of flour in eastern Ghouta is two thousand per cent higher than in government-controlled Damascus.

On February 25th, Rehan and other opposition officials rushed to Douma’s local-council office after a suspected chlorine attack. A man had brought the body of his young son, who had died from suffocation. “I was shocked when I saw the dead body covered with a silk blanket,” she wrote. “The shrouds have run out in a city where we bury lots of people every day.” Rehan asked the father to give testimony about what happened, but he refused. He was in the office only to get help finding other members of his family, who were in a shelter. He wanted the boy’s mother to be able to say goodbye to her son before he was buried.

On Monday, Syrian officials allowed an aid convoy to enter eastern Ghouta for the first time since the offensive began. At a checkpoint along the way, government officials confiscated medical supplies, insulin, and surgical equipment from the trucks. After the convoy arrived, U.N. officials were given only a few hours to unload the forty-six trucks, before being ordered to leave. Nine of the trucks returned full. During and after the delivery, the bombing of opposition areas continued, according to Rehan, who accompanied the U.N. convoy in Douma. “The shelling in the cities was more intense than ever,” she said. By the end of the day, attacks by Syrian and Russian forces had killed nearly a hundred people.

The regime recently retook nearly half of the area, and called for rebel fighters to surrender. “We will continue fighting terrorism,” Assad told journalists in Damascus this weekend. “And the Ghouta operation is a continuation of fighting terrorism.”

On Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council repeated its call for a ceasefire in eastern Ghouta. President Trump, who last year declared that “no child of God” should die in a gas attack, and who launched a cruise-missile strike in Syria, has remained largely silent during the new Syrian-Russian offensive. Obama, too, had declared, in 2012, that chemical attacks would be a “red line” in the Syrian conflict, but he did little after Assad launched the sarin-gas attack in Ghouta the following year. Seven years of empty threats from the U.S. to Syria appear to have emboldened Assad and Putin. An aid convoy that was meant to enter Ghouta on Thursday postponed delivery after learning about reports of chemical attacks in two towns and heavy bombardment.

After five years of siege and shelling, the government’s strategy appears to be bombing people into surrender or bombing them to death. Civilians and opposition members say they fear revenge from Assad loyalists if they surrender. “They want us to leave Ghouta,” Sarah wrote. “We don’t want that. This is our country, our home. We want to stay here, even in the basement. It is better than a tent in a camp or a cell in Assad’s prisons. It’s not fair to be punished only because we are against the Assad regime.”

Additional reporting by Hussein Akoush.

    Rozina Ali is a member of The New Yorker’s editorial staff.Read more »
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 08, 2018, 06:09:44 PM
What a biased lot of crap.  They are not trying to kill or punish non-combatants at all, only fighters (who are actually al-Nusra jihadists), who are launching rockets into Damascus.  If they had allowed in medical supplies, it would have been confiscated by the fighters and wouldn't have got to the people anyway.  Who is not letting the civilians flee?
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 11, 2018, 03:25:28 PM
The usual long and detailed overview of the Syrian situation.

https://gowans.wordpress.com/2018/03/11/the-largely-unrecognized-us-occupation-of-syria/ (https://gowans.wordpress.com/2018/03/11/the-largely-unrecognized-us-occupation-of-syria/)
The (Largely Unrecognized) US Occupation of Syria
Stephen Gowans
March 11, 2018

The United States has invaded Syria with a significant military force, is occupying nearly one-third of its territory, has announced plans for an indefinite occupation, and is plundering the country’s petroleum resources. Washington has no authorization under international or even US law to invade and occupy Syria, much less attack Syrian forces, which it has done repeatedly. Nor has it a legal warrant to create new administrative and governance structures in the country to replace the Syrian government, a project it is undertaking through a parallel invasion of US diplomatic personnel. These actions—criminal, plunderous, and an assault on democracy at an international level—amount to a retrograde project of recolonization by an empire bent on extending its supremacy to all the Arab and Muslim worlds, including the few remaining outposts of resistance to foreign tyranny. Moreover, US actions represent an escalation of Washington’s long war on Syria, previously carried out through proxies, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, into a full-scale conventional war with direct US military involvement. Yet, despite the enormity of the project, and the escalation of the war, the US occupation of Syria has largely flown under the radar of public awareness.

March 11, 2018

By Stephen Gowans

Atop multiple indignities and affronts to liberty and democracy visited upon the Arab world by the West, including the plunder of Palestine by European settlers and the political oppression of Arabs by a retinue of military dictators, monarchs, emirs and sultans who rule largely at the pleasure of Washington and on its behalf, now arrives the latest US transgression on the ideals of sovereignty, independence, and the equality of nations: marauders in Washington have pilfered part of the territory of one of the last bastions of Arab independence—Syria. Indeed, Washington now controls “about one-third of the country including most of its oil wealth”, [1] has no intention of returning it to its rightful owners, has planned for an indefinite military occupation of eastern Syria, and is creating a new Israel, which is to say, an new imperialist outpost in the middle of the Arab world, to be governed by Kurdish proxies backed by US firepower. [2] The crime has been carried out openly, and yet has hardly been noticed or remarked upon.

Here are the facts:

In January, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced that US “troops will remain in Syria” indefinitely “to ensure that neither Iran nor President Bashar al-Assad of Syria will take over areas” [3] the United States captured from ISIS, even though these areas belong to the Syrian Arab Republic, by law and right, and not to Washington, or to Washington’s Kurdish proxy, the SDF. The SDF, or Syrian Democratic Force, is a US-constructed outfit which, in journalist Robert Fisk’s words, is neither Syrian (it’s dominated by Kurds, including those of Turkish origin) nor democratic (since it imposes Kurdish rule over traditionally Arab areas and dances to a tune called by a foreign master.) Moreover, it’s not much of a force, since, without US airpower, artillery, and Special Operations support, it is militarily inconsequential. [4] “US President Donald Trump’s rollout of an updated Syria policy,” reports Aaron Stein, writing in the unofficial journal of the US State Department, Foreign Affairs, “commits US forces to maintaining a presence” in northeast Syria in order to “hedge against” any attempt by Damascus to assert sovereignty over its own territory. [5]

The Pentagon officially admits to having 2,000 troops in Syria [6] but a top US general put the number higher, 4,000, in an October press briefing. [7] But even this figure is an “artificial construct,” as the Pentagon described a previous low-ball figure. On top of the infantry, artillery, and forward air controllers the Pentagon counts as deployed to Syria, there is an additional number of uncounted Special Operations personnel, as well as untallied troops assigned to classified missions and “an unspecified number of contractors” i.e., mercenaries. Additionally, combat aircrews are not counted, even though US airpower is critical to the occupation. [8] There are, therefore, many more times the officially acknowledged number of US troops in Syria, operating out of 10 bases in the country, including “a sprawling facility with a long runway, hangars, barracks and fuel depots.” [9]

In addition to US military advisers, Army Rangers, artillery, Special Operations forces, satellite-guided rockets and Apache attack helicopters [10], the United States has deployed US diplomats to Syria to create government and administrative structures to supersede the legitimate government of the Syrian Arab Republic. [11] Plus, the United States “is now working to transform Kurdish fighters into a local security force” to handle policing [12] while US diplomats on the ground work to establish local governments to run the occupied territory’s affairs. [13]

“The idea in US policy circles” is to create “a soft partition” of Syria between the United States and Russia along the Euphrates, “as it was among the Elbe [in Germany] at the end of the Second World War.” [14] On top of the 28 percent of Syria the United States occupies, it controls “half of Syria’s energy resources, the Euphrates Dam at Tabqa, as well as much of Syria’s best agricultural land.” [15]

During the war against ISIS, US military planning called for the Kurds to push south along the Euphrates River to seize Syria’s oil-and gas-rich territory. [16] While the Syrian Arab Army and its allies focussed mostly on liberating cities from Islamic State, the Kurds, under US direction, went “after the strategic oil and gas fields”, [17] “robbing Islamic State of key territory,” as The Wall Street Journal put it. The US newspaper correctly designated the seizure of key territory as a robbery, but failed to acknowledge the victim, not Islamic State, which itself robbed the territory, but the Syrian Arab Republic. But this skein of equivocation needs to be further disentangled. It was not the Kurds who robbed ISIS which earlier robbed the Syrians, but the United States which robbed ISIS which robbed Syria. The Kurds, without the backing of the US armed forces, are a military cipher incapable, by their own efforts, of robbing the Arab republic. The Americans are the robbers, the Syrians the victims.

The United States has robbed Syria of “two of the largest oil and gas fields in Deir Ezzour”, including the al-Omar oil field, Syria’s largest. [18] Last September, the United States plundered Syria of “a gas field and plant known in Syria as the Conoco gas plant” (though its affiliation with Conoco is historical; the plant was acquired by the Syrian Gas Company in 2005.) [19] Russia observed that “the real aim” of the US forces’ (incontestably denominated) “illegal” presence in Syria has been “the seizure and retention of economic assets that only belong to the Syrian Arab Republic.” [20] The point is beyond dispute: the United States has stolen resources vital to the republic’s reconstruction (this from a country which proclaims property rights to be humanity’s highest value.)

Joshua Landis, a University of Oklahoma professor who specializes in Syria, has argued that by “controlling half of Syria’s energy resources…the US will be able to keep Syria poor and under-resourced.” [21] Bereft of its petroleum resources, and deprived of its best farmland, Syria will be hard-pressed to recover from the Islamist insurgency—an operation precipitated by Washington as part of its long war on nationalist influence in the Arab world—a war that has left Syria in ruins. The conclusion that "Assad has won" and that the war is over except for mopping up operations is unduly optimistic, even Pollyannaish. There is a long road ahead.

Needless to say, Damascus aspires to recover its lost territory, and “on February 7 sent a battalion-sized column to [recuperate] a critical gas plant near Deir Ezzour.” [22] This legitimate exercise of sovereignty was repulsed by an airstrike by US invaders, which left an estimated 100 Syrian Arab Army troops and their allies dead. [23] The significance of this event has been under-appreciated, and perhaps because press coverage of what transpired disguised its enormity. An emblematic Wall Street Journal report, for example, asserted that the US airstrike was a defensive response to an unprovoked attack by Syrian forces, as if the Syrians, on their own soil, were aggressors, and the invading Americans, victims. [24] We might inquire into the soundness of describing an aggression by invaders on a domestic military force operating within its own territory as a defensive response to an unprovoked attack. Likewise, we can inquire into the cogency of Washington’s insistence that it does not intend to wage war on the Syrian Arab Army. That this statement can be accepted as reasonable suggests the operation of what Charles Mills calls an epistemology of ignorance—a resistance to understanding the obvious. It should be evident—indeed, it’s axiomatic—that the unprovoked invasion and occupation of a country constitutes an aggression, but apparently this is not the case in the specially constructed reality of the Western media. Could Russia invade the United States west of the Colorado River, control the territory’s airspace, plunder its resources, establish new government and administrative structures to supplant local, state, and federal authority, and then credibly declare that it does not seek war with the United States and its armed services? Invasion and occupation are aggressive acts, a statement that shouldn’t need to be made.

Washington’s February 7 attack on Syrian forces was not the first. “American troops carried out strikes against forces loyal to President Bashar Assad of Syria several times in 2017,” reported the New York Times. [25] In other words, the United States has invaded Syria, is occupying nearly a third of its territory, and has carried out attacks on the Syrian military, and this aggression is supposed to be understood as a defensive response to Syrian provocations.

It is incontestable that US control of the airspace of eastern Syria, the invasion of the country by untold thousands of US military and diplomatic personnel, the plunder of the Levantine nation’s resources, and attacks on its military forces, are flagrant violations of international law. No country has more contempt for the rule of law than the United States, yet, in emetic fashion, its government incessantly invokes the very rule of law it spurns to justify its outrages against it. But what of US law? If, to Washington, international law is merely an impediment to be overcome on its way to expanding its empire, are the US invasion and occupation of Syria, and attacks on Syrian forces, in harmony with the laws of the United States? If you ask the White House and Pentagon the answer is yes, but that is tantamount to asking a thief to rule on his or her theft. The question is, does the US executive’s claim that its actions in Syria comport with US law stand up to scrutiny? Not only does it not, the claim is risible. “Under both Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump,” explains the New York Times’ Charlie Savage, “the executive branch has argued that the war against Islamic State is covered by a 2001 law authorizing the use of military force against the perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks [my emphasis] and a 2002 law authorizing the invasion of Iraq.” However, while “ISIS grew out an offshoot of Al Qaeda, the two groups by 2014 had split and became warring rivals,” and ISIS did not perpetrate the 9/11 attacks. What’s more, before the rise of ISIS, the Obama administration had deemed the Iraq war over. [26]

Washington’s argument has other problems, as well. While the 2001 law does not authorize the use of military force against ISIS, is does authorize military action against Al Qaeda. Yet from 2011 to today, the United States has not only failed to use force against the Syrian-based Jabhat al-Nusra, Al Qaeda’s largest branch, it has trained and equipped Islamist fighters who are intermingled with, cooperate on the battle field with, share weapons with, and operate under licence to, the group, as I showed in my book Washington’s Long War on Syria, citing the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post, which have extensively reported on the interconnections between US trained and armed fighters and the organization founded by Osama bin Laden. [27]

Finally, by implication, since the law does not authorize the use of force against ISIS, it does not authorize the presence of US aircrews in Syrian airspace or US military and diplomatic personnel on Syrian soil. In addition, it certainly does not authorize the use of force against a Syrian military operating within its own borders.

Let’s look again at Washington’s stated reasons for its planned indefinite occupation of Syria: to prevent the return of ISIS; to stop the Syrian Arab Republic from exercising sovereignty over all of its territory; and to eclipse Iranian influence in Syria. For only one of these reasons, the first, does Washington offer any sort of legal justification. The latter two objectives are so totally devoid of legal warrant that Washington has not even tried to mount a legal defense of them. Yet, these are the authentic reasons for the US invasion and occupation of Syria. As to the first reason, if Washington were seriously motivated to use military force to crush Al Qaeda, it would not have armed, trained and directed the group’s auxiliaries in its war against Arab nationalist power in Damascus.

Regarding Washington’s stated aim of eclipsing Iranian influence in Syria, we may remind ourselves of the contents of a leaked 2012 U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency report. That report revealed that the insurgency in Syria was sectarian and led by the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of Islamic State. The report also disclosed that the United States, Arab Gulf oil monarchies and Turkey supported the insurgents. The analysis correctly predicted the establishment of a “Salafist principality,” an Islamic state, in eastern Syria, noting that this was desired by the insurgency’s foreign backers, which wanted to see the secular Arab nationalists isolated and cut-off from Iran. [28] The United States has since decided to take on the role that it had once planned for a Salafist principality. A planned Saudi-style state dividing Damascus from Tehran has become an indefinite US occupation, from whose womb US planners hope to midwife the birth of a Kurd mini-state as a new Israel.

The reality that the US operation in Syria is illegal may account for why, with Washington’s misdirection and the press’s collusion, it has largely flown under the radar of public awareness. Misdirection is accomplished by disguising the US occupation of eastern Syria as a Kurd-, or SDF-effort, which the United States is merely assisting, rather than directing. The misdirection appears to be successful, because the narrative has been widely mentally imbibed, including by otherwise critical people. There are parallels. The United States is prosecuting a war of aggression in Yemen, against a movement that threatens US hegemony in the Middle East, as the Syrian Arab Republic, Iran and Hezbollah do. The aggression against Yemen is as lacking in legal warrant as is the US war on Syria. It flagrantly violates international law; the Houthis did not attack Saudi Arabia, let alone the United States, and therefore there is no justification for military action on international legal grounds against them. What’s more, the Pentagon can’t even point to authorization for the use of force against Yemen’s rebels under US domestic law since they are not Al Qaeda and have no connection to the 9/11 attacks. To side step the difficulty of deploying military force without a legal warrant, the war, then, is presented as “Saudi-led”, with the involvement of the United States relegated in the hermeneutics to the periphery. Yet Washington is directing the war. The United States flies its own drones and reconnaissance aircraft over Yemen to gather intelligence to select targets for Saudi pilots. [29] It refuels Saudi bombers in flight. Its warships enforce a naval blockade. And significantly, it runs an operations center to coordinate the bombing campaign among the US satellites who participate in it. In the language of the military, the United States has command and control of the aggression against Yemen. The only US absence is in the provision of pilots to drop the bombs, this role having been farmed out to Arab allies. [30] And that is the key to the misdirection. Because Saudi pilots handle one visible aspect of the multi-dimensional war, (whose various other dimensions are run by the Americans), it can be passed off to the public as a Saudi affair, while those who find the Saudi monarchy abhorrent (which it is) can vent their spleen on a scapegoat. We do the same to the Kurds, hurling rhetorical thunderbolts at them, when they are merely pawns of the US government pursuing a project of empire-building. Jeremy Corbyn, the British Labour Party leader, has seen through the misdirection, declaring that it is the West, not the Saudis, who are ‘directing the war’ in Yemen. [31]

It would profit us to heed the words of Ibrahim Al-Amin, who, on the occasion of the White House recognizing Al-Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Israel, asked Arabs whether it wasn’t time to realize that the United States is the origin of all that plagues them. Let us leave ‘Israel’ aside, he counseled. “Whatever is said about its power, superiority and preparation, it is but an America-British colony that cannot live a day without the protection, care and blind support of the West.” [32] The same can be said of the Saudi monarchy and the SDF.

I leave the last word to the Syrian government, whose voice is hardly ever heard above the din of Western war propaganda. The invasion and occupation of eastern Syria is “a blatant interference, a flagrant violation of [the] UN Charter’s principles…an unjustified aggression on the sovereignty and independence of Syria.” [33] None of this is controversial. For his part, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has pointed out incontestably that foreign troops in Syria “without our invitation or consultation or permission…are invaders.” It is time the US invasion and occupation of Syria—illegal, anti-democratic, plunderous, and a project of recolonization—was recognized, opposed, and ended. There is far more to Washington’s long war on Syria than Al Qaeda, the White Helmets and the Kurds. As significant as these forces are, the threat they pose to the Syrian center of opposition to foreign tyranny has been surpassed by a more formidable challenge—the war’s escalation into a US military and diplomatic occupation accompanied by direct US military confrontation with the Syrian Arab Army and its allies.

1. Neil MacFarquhar, ‘Russia’s greatest problem in Syria: It’s ally president Assad,’ The New York Times, March 8, 2018.
2. Anne Barnard, “US-backed force could cement a Kurdish enclave in Syria,” The New York Times, January 16, 2018; Domenico Losurdo, “Crisis in the Imperialist World Order,” Revista Opera, March 2, 2018.
3. Gardiner Harris, “Tillerson says US troops to stay in Syria beyond battle with ISIS, The New York Times, January 17, 2018.
4. Robert Fisk, “The next Kurdish war is on the horizon—Turkey and Syria will never allow it to create a mini-state,” The Independent, January 18, 2018.
5. Aaron Stein, “Turkey’s Afrin offensive and America’s future in Syria: Why Washington should be eying the exit,” Foreign Affairs, January 23, 2018.
6. Nancy A. Yousef, “US to remain in Syria indefinitely, Pentagon officials say, The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2017.
7. Andrew deGrandpre, “A top US general just said 4,000 American troops are in Syria. The Pentagon says there are only 500,” the Washington Post, October 31, 2017.
8. John Ismay, “US says 2,000 troops are in Syria, a fourfold increase,” The New York Times, December 6, 2017; Nancy A. Yousef, “US to remain in Syria indefinitely, Pentagon officials say,” The Wall Street Journal, December 8, 2017).
9. Dion Nissenbaum, “Map said to show locations of US forces in Syria published in Turkey,” The Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2017.
10. Michael R. Gordon, “In a desperate Syrian city, a test of Trump’s policies,” The New York Times, July 1, 2017.
11. Nancy A. Yousef, “US to send more diplomats and personnel to Syria,” The Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2017.
12. Dion Nissenbaum, “US moves to halt Turkey’s drift toward Iran and Russia,” the Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2018.
13. Nancy A. Yousef, “Some US-backed Syrian fighters leave ISIS battle to counter Turkey,” The Wall Street Journal, February 6, 2018.
14. Yaroslav Trofimov, “In Syria, new conflict looms as ISIS loses ground,” The Wall Street Journal, September 7, 2017.
15. Gregory Shupak, “Media erase US role in Syria’s misery, call for US to inflict more misery,” FAIR.org, March 7, 2018.
16. Trofimov, September 7, 2017.
17. Raj Abdulrahim and Ghassan Adnan, “Syria and Iraq rob Islamic State of key territory,” The Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2018.
18. Raj Abdulrahim and Ghassan Adnan, “Syria and Iraq rob Islamic State of key territory,” The Wall Street Journal, November 3, 2018.
19. Abdulrahim and Adnan, November 3, 2018.
20. Raja Abdulrahim and Thomas Grove, “Syria condemns US airstrike as tension rise,” the Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2018.
21. Joshua Landis, “US policy toward the Levant, Kurds and Turkey,” Syria Comment, January 15, 2018.
22. Yaroslav Trofimov, “As alliances shift, Syria’s tangle of war grows more dangerous,” The Wall Street Journal, February 15, 2018.
23. Raja Abdulralhim and Thomas Grove, “Syria condemns US airstrike as tensions rise,” The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 2018; Nancy A. Yousef and Thomas Grove, “Russians among those killed in US airstrike is eastern Syria,” The Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2018.
24. Yousef and Grove, February 13, 2018.
25. Charlie Savage, “US says troops can stay in Syria without new authorization,” The New York Times, February 22, 2018.
26. Savage, February 22, 2018.
27. Stephen Gowans. Washington’s Long War on Syria. Baraka Books. 20017. Pp. 149-150.
28. DIA document leaked to Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.
http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf (http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf)
29. Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt, “Quiet support for Saudis entangles U.S. in Yemen,” The New York Times, March 13, 2016.
30. Stephen Gowans, “The US-Led War on Yemen, what’s left, November 6, 2017.
31. William James, “May defends Saudi ties as Crown Prince gets royal welcome in London,” Reuters, March 7, 2018.
32. Ibrahim Al-Amin, “Either America or Al-Quds,” Alahednews, December 8, 2017.
33. Syria condemns presence of French and German special forces in Ain al-Arab and Manbij as overt unjustified aggression on Syria’s sovereignty and independence, SANA, June 15, 2016.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 11, 2018, 06:57:48 PM
Moon of Alabama's update on the Kurds upcoming loss of Afrin to Turkey:

http://www.moonofalabama.org/ (http://www.moonofalabama.org/)
Syria - The Fall Of Two Cities
11 Mar 2018

The Turkish proxy Takfiris have nearly encircled the Kurdish held city of Afrin. The water supply to the city is cut off. It will fall within a few days.

(http://www.moonofalabama.org/images6/afrinmap20180311.jpg)

(http://www.moonofalabama.org/images6/eastghoutamap20180311a.jpg)

This is the direct result of gigantic miscalculations by the YPG Kurds who controlled the Afrin area. They had a clear offer from the Syrian and Russian government: Hand over the administration to the legitimate Syrian government and the Syrian army will come and defend your land.

They rejected that offer multiple times. They thought they could withstand an attack by a numerical superior enemy which has abundant air and artillery support. Hizbullah can do that but the Kurds are not Hizbullah. Their defense network was mediocre with bunkers easily visible (vid) from the air and ground and without any water supply and other necessities. These medieval fortifications were built over years but fell within hours. There was apparently no second line to fall back to. The tactical military abilities the YPG Kurds have shown were rather amateurish. The announced reinforcements from east Syria made no difference. Now their 'canton' is lost to a very hostile forces. Can it ever be regained?

Meanwhile the U.S. is on the verge of giving away the Kurdish held Manbij to the Turks.

In 2016 the Kurdish PKK attempted to hold onto 'autonomous' city-centers in eastern Turkey. The Turkish army simply shelled those areas into rubble. There insurrection ended with a catastrophic loss of Kurdish fighters. The Kurdish attempts to expand their lands in Iraq by stealing the oil fields of Kirkuk were thoroughly defeated. Now Afrin is lost too.

Why does anyone believe that the Kurds deserve their own state? Their leaders are corrupt and have zero statesmanship. They hang onto illusory aims and ignore the realities of life. Will the Kurds ever learn?

The Syrian Arab Army has split east-Ghouta next to Damascus into two and soon three parts.

Some 70% of the whole east-Ghouta area that the Takfirs held for six years is now liberated. The Syrian army will continue to take the more rural parts and will then keep the upbuild areas (Harasta, Duma, Arbin, Jobar) under fire until the various Takfiri groups agree to give up or to be moved to Idleb governorate. The fall of these Saudi and Turkish proxy forces from their fake 'revolution' throne is another huge victory for the Syrian people. Negotiations about a transfers are ongoing. In Idleb they can join the ongoing Takfiri against Takfiri war between the Turkish supported head-choppers and al-Qaeda aligned hangmen.

Is there a deal between Syria, Russia, Iran and Turkey about an 'exchange' of east-Ghouta for Afrin? The parties are very tightlipped about the issue which lets me assume that something of that kind has been agreed upon.

Eliminating the east-Ghouta enclave will free the large number of Syrian soldiers that were necessary to keep the area surrounded. Those troops will likely move south to liberate Deraa city and all land up to the Jordan border. There are  strong economic reasons for freeing up the Damascus-Amman highway and the border station in-between.
Title: 📹 [Syria] Eastern Ghouta is divided in half
Post by: RE on March 13, 2018, 12:55:08 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/hFHydaZcSgI
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 17, 2018, 11:55:25 PM
General Votel says Assad has won, with Russian and Iranian help.  Trump is saying to his Saudi colleagues, the US only joined in on your "regime change in Syria" plan for your benefit, so if you want us to continue our involvement, you'll have to pay up, otherwise we'll leave.  Peace with Honour.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-17/trump-asked-saudi-king-4-billion-so-us-troops-can-leave-syria (https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-17/trump-asked-saudi-king-4-billion-so-us-troops-can-leave-syria)
Trump Asked Saudi King For $4 Billion So US Troops Can Leave Syria
Tyler Durden
03/17/2018

The Washington Post has revealed that President Trump attempted to extricate US troops from Syria by asking ally Saudi Arabia to foot the bill for postwar reconstruction and "stabilization" projects in the area of northeast Syria currently occupied by US coalition forces, to the tune of $4 billion. The deal would involve US allies like Saudi Arabia moving into a lead position regarding coalition policy in Syria, while hastening a US exit.

Though the coalition continues to claim that its occupation of Syrian soil is toward anti-terror and humanitarian efforts, including the reestablishment of civilian infrastructure in a region previously controlled by ISIS, America's top general, CENTCOM chief Gen. Joseph Votel, admitted in congressional testimony this week that the Syrian government along with its Russian and Iranian allies have effectively won the war.

General Votel's very frank admissions on Syria stunned hawks like Senator Graham, who were looking for more muscular policy goals. The Washington Post summarized this part of the exchange as follows:

    [A]sked on Tuesday in a Congressional hearing if Bashar al-Assad had “won”, Gen. Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command, replied, “I do not think that is too strong of a statement. I think [Russia and Iran] have provided him with the wherewithal to be ascendant at this point.”

    Senator Lindsey Graham asked Votel, “And it is not your mission in Syria to deal with the Iranian-Assad-Russia problem?” Graham asked Votel. “That’s not in your ‘things to do,’ right?”

    The general replied, “That’s correct, senator.”

    Votel declined to say whether he believed the US military should pursue that broader objective. And asked whether it was still policy that Assad must leave power, Votel said: “I don’t know that that’s our particular policy at this particular point. Our focus remains on the defeat of ISIS.”

However, US policy does remain fundamentally aimed at preventing Assad and his allies from reasserting control over oil and resource rich northeast Syria, and this is where Trump reportedly envisions the Saudis as having a greater role to play, taking the pressure off US forces.

According to the Washington Post the deal was articulated by Trump directly to Saudi Arabia's King Salman in a December phone call. The Post reports:

    In a December phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, President Trump had an idea he thought could hasten a U.S. exit from Syria: Ask the king for $4 billion. By the end of the call, according to U.S. officials, the president believed he had a deal.

    The White House wants money from the kingdom and other nations to help rebuild and stabilize the parts of Syria that the U.S. military and its local allies have liberated from the Islamic State. The postwar goal is to prevent Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian partners from claiming the areas, or the Islamic State from regrouping, while U.S. forces finish mopping up the militants.

But missed (or more likely deliberately ignored) by the Post reporters is the central irony that Saudi Arabia could possibly "stabilize" anything in Syria at all. As the New York Times concluded in a lengthy investigation over the kingdom's role in fueling the rise of ISIS and directing the broader jihadist insurgency in Syria, the Saudis are "both the arsonists and the firefighters" in Syria and throughout the region.

Revelation of the $4 billion proposed deal comes as Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is set to arrive in Washington on Monday for high level talks with US officials, including a Tuesday meeting with President Trump. The Saudi Embassy in Washington refused to comment on the offer, and neither side has yet confirmed or denied that a deal was reached or is in the works.

Last month the US announced a mere $200 million pledge toward reconstruction efforts in Syria - a paltry sum (considering total rebuilding costs have been widely estimated at $200-350 billion) perhaps intended to highlight the need of other countries to share in the burden. The Washington Post continues:

    For Trump - who has long railed against insufficient burden-sharing by allies under the U.S. security umbrella - getting others to foot the bill for expensive postwar efforts is important. A $4 billion Saudi contribution would go a long way toward U.S. goals in Syria that the Saudis say they share, particularly that of limiting Assad’s power and rolling back Iran’s influence. By comparison, the United States last month announced a $200 million donation to the stabilization effort.

The more simple translation of Trump's message to the Saudis seems to be something like this: "Our occupation of Syria is costly. If you don't want Assad and Iran to regain the whole country, then you're invited to take over the occupation yourselves."

Judging by Trump's recent maneuvers with the Saudis and CENTCOM chief Votel's congressional testimony, it appears we are in for more long, painful mission creep and perpetuation of the illegal occupation of Syria with no end in sight.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 25, 2018, 05:50:18 PM
Turkey continues to do what it likes in Syria and Iraq.

https://www.rt.com/news/422279-erdogan-aleppo-talrifaat-operation/ (https://www.rt.com/news/422279-erdogan-aleppo-talrifaat-operation/)
Iraq’s Sinjar & Syria’s Tal Rifaat next targets of Turkish military op – Erdogan
25 Mar, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has announced the launch of a new military operation against Kurdish militants in Iraqi Sinjar. He also vowed to take over the Kurdish-controlled town of Tal Rifaat in northern Aleppo, Syria.

“We’ve eliminated 3,747 terrorists [in Syria’s Afrin],” Erdogan said on Sunday, adding that Ankara has now begun an operation against the Kurdish militants in Iraq’s Sinjar.

“Remember, I told you we’d get them. They will flee, we will chase; the work will not end with Afrin. The PKK went to Sinjar – ‘We’ll go there as well,’ I said. Operations there began,” the president declared.

Ankara’s operation ‘Olive Branch,’ targeting Kurdish militias in Syria’s Afrin region, has nearly realized its goals, according to Erdogan. “We will take control of the Tal Rifaat town shortly and thus achieve the goals of the operation,” he said. Tal Rifaat is the last stronghold in the Afrin region held by the Kurdish militias.

Erdogan has insisted that Turkey’s military activities in neighboring countries targeted “terrorists” exclusively and did not constitute an invasion.

“There’s a fight both external and internal. Our problem lies with terrorists, we’re not an invading power,” Erdogan said. “There are examples of that in the West; our African friends know this very well. There’s justice in our history. We are on the side of the oppressed. There’s no coexisting with oppressors. We stand with the oppressed.”

Damascus has condemned the Turkish operation in Afrin as a blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty and accused Ankara of “aggression.” Iraq has also expressed concerns over Ankara’s military activities on its borders, where Turkish troops have repeatedly shelled and bombed positions of Kurdish militias.

Turkey launched Olive Branch against the Kurdish militia-held Syrian enclave of Afrin late in January, citing concerns over presence of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants in the region. Ankara, as well as Washington and some other countries, designates the PKK as a terrorist group. Turkish military personnel and affiliated Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants have captured almost the entire enclave, including the main city of Afrin.

Over the past week, Turkey has launched a series of strikes on suspected PKK camps in northern Iraq. The attacks were condemned by the country’s Foreign Ministry, which described them as “violations” resulting in the deaths of civilians.

Turkey’s president has repeatedly threatened Iraqi Kurds with a military operation, citing the alleged PKK presence as a reason. Earlier in March, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that Ankara and Baghdad might undertake a joint action against Iraqi Kurds after the May election in Iraq.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on March 25, 2018, 06:13:23 PM
Turkey continues to do what it likes in Syria and Iraq.

I thought Assad won?  ???   :icon_scratch:

RE
Title: 📺 Syrian Army Is About To Get Full Control Over Eastern Ghouta
Post by: RE on March 27, 2018, 01:17:19 AM
http://www.youtube.com/v/FJQcOSiWuhI
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: K-Dog on March 27, 2018, 10:21:07 AM
Turkey continues to do what it likes in Syria and Iraq.

I thought Assad won?  ???   :icon_scratch:

RE

Nothing like a little genocide for breakfast.  This is Northern Syria.

Assad lets the US kill off the Kurds via Turkey so he does not have to.  There are many kinds of victory in Syria but at the end of the day nobody wins.  This was a three way conflict.  Kurds always get screwed.

This comes from Wikipaedia

Quote
On 15 February 2016, the town was captured by the Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Army of Revolutionaries.[16] Russian airstrikes, which preceded the SDF assault, forced the majority of the population to escape.[17] Since the SDF capture of Tell Rifaat, the town became the headquarters of the Army of Revolutionaries.

Thew alleged reference (And I do not say it is wrong) is a suppressed Kurdish News Agency. (404 error now.  This is serious shit.)

Putin chopped the heads of the head choppers because America was too pussy to do it.  The Kurds cleaned out ISIS in the north I think.  Now Turkey is in there because they can.  Killing Kurds most probably, though the town is pretty much deserted.  The victory is that the head choppers in Syria are toast.

Turkish forces make it a four way conflict and that still does not count in the US and Russia.  Syria is a serious gang bang.  Propaganda soup.

‘Operation Olive Branch’  what could that be a euphemism for?  As an average American bumpkin I’ll never know the truth about Syria.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 27, 2018, 04:40:58 PM
Quote
Putin chopped the heads of the head choppers because America was too pussy to do it.

US bombed the head choppers and civilians in Raqqa and Mosul and when they agreed to surrender, the US bussed them out to other areas.  They then complained of the massacring of civilians when Putin did the same thing.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 29, 2018, 06:06:02 PM
I thought Trump said that telegraphing your punches, like Obama did in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a really dumb move. Of course, he can always go back in later, like Obama did. Is he also telegraphing that the 32,000 US troops guarding the border between North and South Korea will pull out soon?

https://www.rt.com/usa/422728-trump-syria-leave-troops/ (https://www.rt.com/usa/422728-trump-syria-leave-troops/)
We're coming out of Syria very soon, let others take care of it - Trump
29 Mar, 2018

President Donald Trump has made a surprise announcement that US forces will be withdrawing from Syria, citing the defeat of Islamic State and the need to defend US borders and rebuild “crumbling” infrastructure.

“We're coming out of Syria very soon. Let the other people take care of it now,” Trump said during a speech in Richfield, Ohio on Thursday, dedicated to his infrastructure initiative.

    Pres. Trump: "We'll be coming out of Syria very soon. Let the other people take care of it now...We're going to have 100% of the caliphate, as they call it —sometimes referred to as land. We're taking it all back." pic.twitter.com/N9cPYkS6pk
    — Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) March 29, 2018

The US spent $7 trillion in the Middle East, Trump said, describing how the US would build schools only for insurgents to destroy them, while there was no funding to build schools in Ohio.

“We build a school, they blow it up. We rebuild the school, they haven’t blown it up yet, but they will,” he said.

The president also pointed out the “wall” and 32,000 US troops guarding the border between North and South Korea, while the US border with Mexico was not likewise protected.

“Is there something a little bit wrong with that?” he asked the crowd.

Trump’s remarks about Syria are in line with what he said last month, at a press conference in Washington with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull.

“We're there for one reason: to get ISIS and get rid of ISIS, and to go home,” the US president had said. “We’re not there for any other reason and we’ve largely accomplished our goal.”

However, this goes against the previous pronouncements of his subordinates at the State Department and the military.

In January, then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson outlined a plan that envisioned extended US presence in Syria to ensure a peaceful transfer of power to a “post-Assad leadership.” In December last year, the Pentagon said US troops would remain in Syria for “as long as we need to, to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups.”
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on March 29, 2018, 06:19:44 PM
I thought Trump said that telegraphing your punches, like Obama did in Iraq and Afghanistan, was a really dumb move. Of course, he can always go back in later, like Obama did. Is he also telegraphing that the 32,000 US troops guarding the border between North and South Korea will pull out soon?

http://www.youtube.com/v/EzVxsYzXI_Y

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: K-Dog on March 29, 2018, 09:43:16 PM
(https://i.ytimg.com/vi/xYq83xGEe5o/hqdefault.jpg)

Yet the number of people who think they can do magic and change reality if they wish hard enough is astounding.

Trump announces withdrawal because Putin wins for Assad but speaks bullshit.  Russia keeps their bases.  We let the Kurds die.  Everyone pretends the Emperor is not naked.

a mans body with the head of a lion
a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun
with thought of incest his slow thighs grid
while all about shadows of indignant neo-liberal birds
fill the fairway before him
in time he will slink to Washington
where more chaos is born

(https://i.pinimg.com/736x/05/fb/a7/05fba76d59f17c6640518609e66ff631.jpg)

Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: K-Dog on March 30, 2018, 10:37:42 PM
Quote
Erdogan Should be Brought to the International Criminal Court for Mass Murder and Ethnic Cleansing in Rojava

By Arian Mufid:

It is seven weeks since the architect of the Afrin invasion, Turkish leader Erdogan, invaded the west of Kurdistan, Rojava. For these seven weeks, one of the largest armies in the world has without mercy bombarded Afrin and its YPG defensive forces throughout the area on the false pretext of national security protection. Turkish forces hoped in a few days to take control of Afrin and displace its citizens, but instead they have suffered heavy casualties to themselves and their proxy forces such as ISIS and the Free Syrian Army. The people of Afrin have defended the city well, without air cover and facing the artillery and heavy weaponry used by the Turkish invader. Turkish forces and their proxies have inflicted disaster on Afrin environmentally and politically. R T Erdogan, the butcher of Turkey, needs to be brought to the International Criminal Court of Justice for two reasons:

First, thousands of civilians have been forced to abandon their houses and their city under the bombardment of Turkish forces. Second, so far hundreds of innocent people of Afrin including woman and children have died as the result of Erdogan’s bombing without warning of the city centre and main residential areas. Erdogan is one of the most disastrous and dictatorial presidents ever seen in the history of Turkey. The Turkish military junta has committed atrocities against the people of Afrin, with mass murder, the reported use of chemical weapons and a programme of ethnic cleaning. That the world stands by and does nothing will be most painful memory of the people of Afrin for generations.

The crucial question is not how we can prove Erdogan’s atrocities against humanity and the people of Afrin, but whether the world powers, which until now have sided with the butcher of Turkey, can determine to bring him to justice. The world should organise a court for Erdogan similar the ones for Saddam Hussein the butcher of Iraq and Slobodan Milosevic the butcher of Yugoslavia.

(https://thekurdishproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/Picture2_71.jpg)
Kurdish Female Fighters outside of Kobani in Rojava

Erdogan is doing some pussy grabbing and our pussy grabber supports him.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Eddie on March 31, 2018, 06:28:37 AM
The crucial question is not how we can prove Erdogan’s atrocities against humanity and the people of Afrin, but whether the world powers, which until now have sided with the butcher of Turkey, can determine to bring him to justice. The world should organise a court for Erdogan similar the ones for Saddam Hussein the butcher of Iraq and Slobodan Milosevic the butcher of Yugoslavia.

You forgot one.

(https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTWhhy2JHZFLdtZpDF8EtfdWuVThRgXKgtINGuuCpYhFVwd5Jpdkw)
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 31, 2018, 07:02:05 PM
As US pulls out of Syria, France moves in  :icon_scratch:

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-31/france-send-military-forces-syria-trump-prepares-withdraw-turkey-furious (https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-03-31/france-send-military-forces-syria-trump-prepares-withdraw-turkey-furious)
France To Send Military Forces To Syria As Trump Prepares To Withdraw; Turkey Furious
Tyler Durden
03/31/2018

On the same day that Trump made his unexpected announcement that US troops would be "coming out of Syria very soon," French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly pledged to send a French military force into northern Syria in support of US-backed Kurdish forces near Afrin - now under Turkish control.

News of Macron's promise to Kurdish officials in a closed door meeting was met with a swift and harsh response from Turkey: “If it’s accurate, the statement on mediation between Turkey and SDF amounts to crossing the line,” President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday. “Those who yesterday hosted terrorists at the highest level once again should know this is only an expression of enmity against Turkey,” Erdogan added, essentially calling France a 'state sponsor' of terror.


Emmanuel Macron and Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Jan 2018. Image source: AFP via Getty images.

Though the French Presidency did not immediately confirm the news Thursday, reports circulated widely after Macron met with a delegation of Syrian Kurdish officials on Thursday representing the self-declared autonomous region of Rojava, of which the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG/YPJ) are the prime defense forces on the ground.

Turkey's Erdogan has repeatedly denounced the YPG as a terrorist extension of the PKK, and after successfully capturing the largely Syrian Kurdish Afrin canton following a bloody two-month cross border operation, has vowed to continue pushing deeper into Syrian territory toward Manbij and Tal Rifaat. Early this week Erdogan put the US on notice while addressing a crowd in the Black Sea province of Trabzonin: "the U.S. needs to transfer the control of Manbij to its real owners from the terrorist organization as soon as possible," Erdogan brazenly declared, while adding, "of course we will not point gun to our allies, but we will not forgive terrorists."

    CONFIRMED : Trump tells advisers he wants U.S. out of Syria: senior officials https://t.co/RPmkCCLFKj (https://t.co/RPmkCCLFKj)
    — EHSANI2 (@EHSANI22) March 30, 2018

Such an expansion would undoubtedly put Turkish troops and Turkey's proxy FSA forces face to face with US-backed forces - as Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are present in both places. Days after Erdogan's speech on Sunday, Turkish forces began clashing with SDF fighters in Tal Rifaat, in the northern Aleppo countryside - thus it appears the Turkish president is making good on his promise.

Kurdish regional media, Kurdistan24 described Thursday's meeting at the the Élysée as follows:

    A delegation representing the Kurdish, Arab, and Christian components of Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) held talks with the French Presidency on Thursday to discuss the situation in the country’s north...

    Accompanied by his special chief of staff, Admiral Roger, Macron announced that he would send French Special Forces to Manbij in coordination with the US, another report by Le Parisien said.

    An unidentified number of French troops will be deployed “very quickly,” Macron assured the Rojava delegation, according to a Kurdish representative who attended the meeting.

Multiple reports identified the initial deployment of French troops to northern Syria as special forces - though it's likely that French special forces who are already present in the region or in Syria itself would simply be relocated to take a more direct advisory role alongside the Kurdish YPG and SDF.

In statements reported by Reuters, Macron appeared to confirm the headlines of French deployment, however, stopped short of outright confirming direct military deployment:

    “The president ... paid tribute to the sacrifices and the determining role of the SDF in the fight against Daesh,” Macron’s office said in a statement.

    “He assured the SDF of France’s support for the stabilization of the security zone in the north-east of Syria, within the framework of an inclusive and balanced governance, to prevent any resurgence of Islamic State.”

Macron has been seen as less hawkish regarding France's Syria policy, which recently led former president Francois Hollande to level the accusation of Macron's abandoning the Syrian Kurds.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s National Security Council on Wednesday repeated Erdogan's prior threats that Ankara would “take action” to eradicate all Syrian Kurdish groups from northern Syria.

With Trump pledging to withdraw all US troops from Syria "very soon" it appears that France and other coalition allies are declaring their willingness to step in and replace US occupying forces in Syria.

On Friday Trump confirmed to senior aides that US forces will be exiting Syria.  In statements carried by Reuters, Trump said, “Let the other people take care of it now. Very soon, very soon, we’re coming out. We’re going to get back to our country, where we belong, where we want to be.”

Trump's initial announcement of US troop withdrawal came the same day two US coalition soldiers were reported killed in Syria (overnight Thursday). According to early reports, confirmed by the Pentagon, an American & British soldier were killed by an improvised explosive device in Manbij where US personnel are stationed.

With this news and with Turkey's latest bellicose rhetoric aimed at France, Macron is likely already second-guessing his willingness to jump straight into northern Syria's quagmire of actors just as the US may be in the process of exiting.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: RE on March 31, 2018, 07:15:18 PM
As US pulls out of Syria, France moves in  :icon_scratch:

Frogs?  The Frog Foreign Legion?  ???  :icon_scratch:  How about sending your Little League team in to play ball with the NY Yankees?  ::)

(http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-5-ql2XQj7b4/USL-Wa_U8iI/AAAAAAAAANE/gQq3amdlJxA/s640/crock.+legion+of+lost+souls.gif)

RE
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on March 31, 2018, 07:31:48 PM
Do you have to turn everything into a joke?  Are the US forces so fantastic that anyone else is useless by comparison? - when did you last WIN a war?
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 03, 2018, 01:19:08 AM
http://theantimedia.com/france-war-turkey-syrian-rebels/ (http://theantimedia.com/france-war-turkey-syrian-rebels/)
France Risks War With Fellow NATO Member Turkey in Effort to Prop up Syrian Rebels
Darius Shahtahmasebi
April 2, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent surprise announcement that he plans to withdraw the United States military from Syria “very soon” and that he will let “the other people take care of it now” may be more telling of what’s to come than the mainstream media would have us believe.

The indication that Trump may let the “other people take care of it now” might appear, on the face of it, to refer to regional players and prominent backers like Russia and Iran, which have helped guide the course of the Syrian conflict to an almost certain victory for the Syrian government.

But what if Trump is actually opening the door for another Western imperial power to try its hand at taking on Syria for itself?

According to Reuters, France is looking to increase its military presence in Syria to help the U.S.-backed coalition in its so-called fight against ISIS. France has warned that a planned Turkish assault on these U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Manbij would be “unacceptable,” according to a presidential source.

On Thursday of last week (incidentally, the same day as Donald Trump’s surprise announcement), French President Emmanuel Macron met with a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) delegation that included the YPG militia, which Turkey has expressly designated a terrorist entity. According to Reuters, a senior Kurdish official said Macron had promised to send more troops to the area as part of the U.S.-backed coalition’s efforts and, in essence, to present a buffer between the Kurds and Turkey.

    “France doesn’t foresee any new military operation on the ground in northern Syria outside of the international coalition,” Reuters’ source said.

    “(But) if the president felt that, in order to achieve our goals against Islamic State, we needed a moment to bolster our military intervention, then we should do it, but it would be within the existing framework,” the source said, without elaborating further, according to Reuters.

Some local reports are alleging that France was even contemplating sending French special forces to the Syrian city of Manbij, where Turkey is currently gearing up for an invasion of its own.

France has reportedly denied that it is planning a military build-up in Syria but has still offered to mediate between the Kurds and Turkey, an offer Ankara instantly rejected.

Interestingly enough, no media reports on these issues ask the much-needed questions regarding France’s legal basis for sending troops into Syrian territory in the first place. Never mind that Turkey has warned sternly against the move, threatening that France could become a target for the Turkish military; it bears reminding that the territory doesn’t belong to France or Turkey, anyway. Any additional military presence should at the very least be initiated in accordance with international legal norms and principles.

While much of the discourse in Syria has focused on what the Assad government is allegedly doing, no one has really bothered to question the extent of France’s involvement in Syria already to date. Last week, Turkish press agency Anadolu published a map purportedly showing French military positions in Syria, including five military bases in northeastern Syria where close to 70 French soldiers may be operating.

Anadolu also reported in mid-March that France’s top military official had already warned that France had the means to intervene in Syria independently of the U.S. and its allies, specifically in relation to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

While it still remains to be seen, it seems more than possible that if the Trump administration decides to take a backseat in this next phase of the Syrian conflict, the driver’s seat may be passed on to France, instead, which is reportedly looking to take the reins and involve itself even further in the country despite having any legal basis to do so.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 04, 2018, 06:00:38 PM
https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-04-04/1986-cia-document-analyzes-possibilities-regime-change-syria (https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-04-04/1986-cia-document-analyzes-possibilities-regime-change-syria)
1986 CIA Document Analyzes Possibilities Of "Regime Change" In Syria
Brandon Turbeville via ActivistPost.com
04/04/2018

While the connections between the plans to destroy Syria and the Obama administration are generally known, what is less well-known is the fact that there existed a plan to destroy Syria as far back as not only the Bush administration but also the Reagan Administration in 1983.

Documents contained in the U.S. National Archives and drawn up by the CIA reveal a plan to destroy the Syrian government going back decades. One such document entitled, “Bringing Real Muscle To Bear In Syria,” written by CIA officer Graham Fuller, is particularly illuminating. In this document, Fuller wrote,

    Syria at present has a hammerlock on US interests both in Lebanon and in the Gulf - through closure of Iraq’s pipeline thereby threatening Iraqi internationalization of the [Iran-Iraq] war. The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey.

Even as far back as 1983, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s father, Hafez Assad, was viewed as a gadfly to the plans of Western imperialists seeking to weaken both the Iraqis and the Iranians and extend hegemony over the Middle East and Persia. The document shows that Assad and hence Syria represented a resistance to Western imperialism, a threat to Israel, and that Assad himself was well aware of the game the United States, Israel, and other members of the Western imperialist coalition were trying to play against him.

I encourage the reader to access my article, “1983 CIA Document Reveals Plan To Destroy Syria, Foreshadows Current Crisis,” to read more about this document.

The question of the Assad thorn in the side of the West continued on for the United States as was evidenced by yet another CIA document from 1986 entitled “Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change.” Although not an open advocation of destabilization and/or war, the paper does examine the possibilities of destabilization and “regime change” in Syria, most notably in the scenario of mass unrest, Muslim Brotherhood manipulation and violence, defections, and a coup.

After giving a summation of “The Present Scene” and “Major Players” that include Hafez Assad’s inner circle, the military, Sunnis, and Muslim Brotherhood, the paper goes into a description of possible ways Assad’s government could be brought down and replaced with one more friendly to Western interests. The ways in which this takedown could be accomplished ranged from a military coup, a military defeat, and/or mass public unrest and destabilization. It should also be noted that the report attempts to paint Sunnis and the Muslim Brotherhood as one in the same. However, the MB does not and never has represented the majority of Sunnis in Syria. Thus, when the CIA document mentions “Sunnis” it is referring to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood factions of society.

In a subsection entitled, “Communal Violence Escalates Into Civil War,” the document reads,

    Sunni dissidence has been minimal since Assad crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1980s, but deep-seated tensions remain – keeping alive the potential for minor incidents to grow into major flareups of communal violence. For example, disgruntlement over price hikes, altercations between Sunni citizens and police forces, or anger at privileges accorded to Alawis at the expense of Sunnis could foster small-scale protests. Excessive government force in quelling such disturbances might be seen by Sunnis as evidence of a government vendetta against all Sunnis, precipitating even larger protests by other Sunni groups.

    Sunni merchants and artisans probably would launch protests similar to those staged in previous years, for example by closing down businesses and the bazaars in Hamah or Aleppo and possibly Damascus. Sunni students would stage campus demonstrations, and Sunni professional associations would organize stoppages. Mistaking the new protests as a resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the government would step up its use of force and launch violent attacks on a broad spectrum of Sunni community leaders as well as on those engaged in the protests. Regime efforts to restore order would founder if government violence against protesters inspired broad-based communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis.

    A general campaign of Alawi violence against Sunnis might push even moderate Sunnis to join the opposition. Remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood – some returning from exile in Iraq – could provide a core of leadership for the movement. Although the regime has the resources to crush such a venture, we believe brutal attacks on Sunni civilians might prompt large numbers of Sunni officers and conscripts to desert or to stage mutinies in support of dissidents, and Iraq might supply them with sufficient weapons to launch a civil war.

    Indicators Of A Developing Scenario

        Strikes and demonstrations demanding government action to end discrimination against Sunnis become frequent.

        Security personnel force businesses to reopen and confiscate the inventories of many.

        The government conducts the indiscriminate roundups of Sunni leaders.

        Syrian leaders accuse Iraq and the Muslim Brotherhood of fomenting unrest.

        Violent indicators including bombings of Sunni social gatherings take place; Sunnis retaliate with similar violence against Alawis.

        Government attacks on suspected Sunnis dissidents increase; sometimes razing whole blocks in Sunni residential areas

        Sunni troops refuse to fire on demonstrators; some units mutiny and join growing Sunni opposition movements.

Thus, while observing potential flareups for social violence, one major aspect of the destabilization of 2011, the CIA viewed the Sunni population, more specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, as the one that would be the most volatile element of society and also that it might be funded from the outside. The CIA predicted “defections” and a “civil war” drawn along religious lines. This “potential” situation was attempted by the CIA in 2011 but was forced to rely on outside Sunni fighters since the fiercely secular Syrian people were not able to be coaxed into a religious civil war as easily as the CIA imagined.

The CIA document also addressed the “Soviet Angle,” opining about ways in which the strong ties between the Russia/Soviet Union and Syria could be broken and the situations which might bring that separation about. The document comes to the conclusion that a military defeat, most likely against Israel, would prove Soviet weapons and military training inferior, forcing Syria to rely more heavily on the West for training and equipment and thus become more pliable to the Western agenda.

In the section entitled, “Implications For The United States,” the document states that the most ideal situation for the US would be to see the Assad government overthrown and replaced by a “Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates.” This essentially refers to a Muslim Brotherhood coup against the Syrian government which would of course follow with a regime that is much more favorable and cooperative with the Western agenda than that of Assad’s Syria. The document also hints at the desire to see the new “Sunni business-oriented moderate” government’s interest in the “private sector,” which historically has come to mean major Western corporations that take over public services and natural resources and turn them into commodities.

While this document did not provide a strategy by which to achieve the desired outcomes it lists (at least not in the sanitized declassified version), it still follows the same train of thought as the CIA document released three years prior in that it hopes for the collapse of deposition of the Assad government and the replacement of that government with one that is more friendly to Western aims. The US government went ahead with the implementation of this plan in 2011 that has resulted in over 400,000 deaths in Syria over the course of seven years of warfare.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 08, 2018, 07:00:55 AM
The Russians have been predicting another false flag chemical attack by the rebels for a week, and now it happened, and Putin still gets blamed by Washington.

https://www.rt.com/news/423499-us-blames-russia-douma-chemical/ (https://www.rt.com/news/423499-us-blames-russia-douma-chemical/)
US holds Russia ‘ultimately responsible’ amid reports of dozens gassed in Syria’s Douma
8 Apr, 2018

The US once again said Russia is "ultimately bearing responsibility" for all chemical incidents in Syria, regardless of who carried them out, after rebel sources accused Damascus of gassing dozens in Eastern Ghouta's Douma.

"The regime's history of using chemical weapons against its own people is not in dispute," said the US State Department, indicating, however, that it was relying on "reports," being unable to confirm the incident. "Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the brutal targeting of countless Syrians with chemical weapons."

Earlier on Saturday, rebel-linked activists, including the notorious 'civil defense' group White Helmets, accused the Syrian government of carrying out a chemical attack that allegedly affected dozens of civilians in the militant-controlled town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta. The Syrian government, which regards the White Helmets as a foreign-funded terrorist propaganda mouthpiece, rejected these "fabrications."

"Jaysh al-Islam terrorists are repeating the allegations of using chemical weapons in order to accuse the Syrian Arab army, in a blatant attempt to hinder the Army's advance," SANA reported, citing an official government source, who added that militants have likely launched this latest propaganda campaign fearing their imminent "dramatic collapse."

Despite the lack of verified evidence thus far, Washington did not miss a chance to label Moscow as complicit and 'ultimately' responsible for the incident, due to its support of President Bashar Assad. Previously, former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson regularly took advantage of well-timed reports of chemical incidents, including in East Ghouta, to push through the US agenda in Syria.

"We continue to receive reports and assess information regarding the alleged attack," the US Department of State's representative told Sputnik in a separate statement on Saturday. "Russia's protection of the Assad regime and failure to stop the use of chemical weapons in Syria calls into question its commitment to resolving the overall crisis."

In a follow-up comment, the State Department urged the international community to act “immediately” – if the incident is confirmed – and advised Russia to end its “unmitigated” support for the Syrian government.

The Russian military dismissed as false reports that the Syrian government had carried out a chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta's Douma.

"We strongly refute this information," Major General Yury Yevtushenko, head of the Reconciliation Center in Syria, said in a statement on Sunday. "We declare our readiness, after Douma is liberated from the militants, to immediately send Russian radiation, chemical and biological protection specialists to collect data that will confirm the fabricated nature of these allegations," he stated.

Yevtushenko said that "a number of Western countries" are trying to prevent the resumption of an operation aimed at driving militants from the city of Douma.

"For this purpose, the use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces – one of the most widespread claims in the West – is being used," he added.

    US blames Russia for new reported chemical incident in Syria... regardless of who actually did it https://t.co/Bqlkwmak9Vpic.twitter.com/5Sn9kwBRf8 (https://t.co/Bqlkwmak9Vpic.twitter.com/5Sn9kwBRf8)
    — RT (@RT_com) January 23, 2018

Reports of chemical attacks, blamed on Damascus, previously surfaced on a number of occasions, and were often backed by a stream of horrific visuals disseminated via social media channels by the White Helmets. Saturday's incident follows the same pattern, where, as always, the White Helmets found themselves at the right place at the right time to take graphic pictures of the alleged chemical attack victims. Shocking images of dead kids with foaming mouths surfaced immediately after the accusations were made.

"Seventy people suffocated to death and hundreds still suffocating," Raed al-Saleh, head of the White Helmets, told Al Jazeera, adding that the death toll was expected to rise as many people were in critical condition. According to al-Saleh, the mass casualties are a result of a chlorine gas attack, as well as an "unidentified but stronger gas," that was allegedly dropped by government planes on Douma on Saturday.

Quite surprisingly, the controversial UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is usually among the first sources that confirm atrocities by Damascus, could not confirm that chemical weapons had been used, and said casualties might have been a result of fire and toxic smoke following a conventional airstrike. Thus Reuters, while admitting it "could not independently verify reports of a chemical attack," sought a comment from another obscure organization, the Syrian American Medical Society. A US-based SAMS representative claimed that, while a "chlorine bomb hit Douma hospital," another nearby building was targeted by a barrel-bomb containing a mix that included "nerve agents."

The situation in Douma escalated after Jaysh al-Islam militants breached all agreements, shelling Damascus and terrorizing civilians to derail evacuations, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria said in its daily report, issued before the claims of a chemical attack emerged.

"The Jaysh al-Islam militants carried out a number of attacks against the SAA [Syrian Armed Forces] positions and conducted mortar and missile shelling against Damascus," the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria said Saturday. "Over the last 48 hours, militants fired 25 mines and rocket projectiles at the capital and its suburbs. As a result, seven civilians were killed and 42 people injured. Shelling attacks are intensifying."

Terrorists also continue to use civilians as human shields, the MoD noted, adding that militants are "publicly executing civilians" who support the withdrawal of militants from Douma.

    Investigate chemical incidents in Syria instead of blaming Damascus & distorting our views – Moscowhttps://t.co/3TSFwhGrRI
    — RT (@RT_com) January 20, 2018

"Jaysh al-Islam terrorists breached [the] Douma agreement by attacking with mortar and rocket shells several residential areas of Damascus, claiming lives and injuring dozens of civilians, including women and children," Sana meanwhile reported.

Previously faced with accusations, Moscow has repeatedly denied involvement in attacking civilians in Syria, and reiterated on a number of occasions that unsubstantiated reports of atrocities and 'false flag' chemical incidents always surface at the time when militant factions in Syria are losing ground, and are likely aimed at derailing the reconciliation process in Syria.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 08, 2018, 03:01:55 PM
https://www.rt.com/news/423524-douma-chemical-attack-fake-moscow/ (https://www.rt.com/news/423524-douma-chemical-attack-fake-moscow/)
Moscow calls ‘chemical attack’ in Douma ‘fake news,’ warns against Syrian intervention
8 Apr, 2018

Reports of an alleged gas attack in the Syrian town of Douma are ‘fake news’ aimed at justifying potential strikes against Syria, Moscow said. It warned of “dire consequences” in the event of any military interference.

The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced the latest reports about a chemical attack that allegedly affected dozens of civilians in the militant-controlled town of Douma. It said the reports were another example of a “continuous series of fake news about the use of chlorine and other chemical agents by the government forces.”

The ministry pointed out that the source of the reports was the notorious “civil defense” group, the White Helmets, which has been repeatedly accused of having ties to terrorists, as well as other groups based in the US and UK.

Russia has warned about a false-flag chemical attack being prepared in the recent months, the ministry said. Those who are not interested in a genuine political settlement of the Syrian crisis are seeking to complicate the situation on the ground, it added.

“The goal of this… baseless speculation is to shield the terrorists and… the radical opposition that refuse to engage in a political settlement [process], as well as to justify potential military strikes from the outside,” the statement said. It then warned that any military interference in Syria conducted under “far-fetched or fabricated pretexts” would be “absolutely unacceptable” and could lead to “dire consequences.”

Meanwhile, the reports by various rebel-linked activists about the alleged chemical incident in Douma seem to have provoked yet another wave of hysteria in the West. US President Donald Trump rushed to denounce the unconfirmed attack as a “mindless” atrocity and a “humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever.” He also warned that those behind the alleged attack ‘will pay a big price.’

    Many dead, including women and children, in mindless CHEMICAL attack in Syria. Area of atrocity is in lockdown and encircled by Syrian Army, making it completely inaccessible to outside world. President Putin, Russia and Iran are responsible for backing Animal Assad. Big price...
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018

    ....to pay. Open area immediately for medical help and verification. Another humanitarian disaster for no reason whatsoever. SICK!
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 8, 2018

Accusations against the Syrian government and Russia soon followed. In his Twitter posts, Trump declared “President [Vladimir] Putin, Russia and Iran… responsible” for the attack because of their backing for Syrian President Bashar Assad. Earlier, the US State Department also said that “Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the brutal targeting of countless Syrians with chemical weapons.”

However, US officials admitted that they were unable to independently verify any information about the alleged incident and had to rely solely on “reports” made by rebel-linked sources.

The EU claimed on Sunday that there is “evidence” pointing to “another chemical attack” conducted by Damascus. It provided no specific details to substantiate the claim. Instead, the bloc called for an immediate “international response” and urged Russia and Iran to use their influence to prevent any similar incidents in future.

Damascus rejected the accusations, calling them “boring and inconclusive propaganda.” Only countries that “speculate on the blood of civilians and support terrorism in Syria” could be convinced by such reports, a Syrian Foreign Ministry official told SANA news agency. They pointed out that similar allegations emerge every time the Syrian Army makes advances in its fight against terrorists. The official added that Damascus had warned about a pre-planned false-flag attack.

Tehran has denounced statements made by US officials, describing them as “baseless accusations” that could be used as a pretext for military actions against the Syrian Army.

Meanwhile, the US administration appears to be already considering a potential response to the alleged chemical incident. “We'll be reviewing the situation later today,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CBS, commenting on a possible response. He refused to outline any particular options that are being considered, but said that Donald Trump and his national security team will be reviewing “all different alternatives.” Asked about the possibility of another US strike, the president’s Homeland Security Advisor Thomas Bossert said: “I wouldn’t take anything off the table.”

This is not the first time that reports of chemical attacks pinned on Damascus have surfaced on social media.

Moscow had warned that unconfirmed reports of atrocities and false-flag chemical incidents were likely to appear at a time when militant factions are losing ground in Syria. The latest report came as the Syrian Army pushed to liberate the remaining militant-occupied settlements in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, with the city of Douma being the last such city in the area.

It comes as Jaysh al-Islam militants holding the city of Douma reportedly held talks with government forces and agreed to leave the enclave. Damascus said on March 31 that nearly all militant-held settlements in Ghouta were liberated, and a major Syrian highway had been cleared after a seven-year militant blockade.

In February 2018, Syrian troops began the operation to retake the area that has been under militant control since 2012, and Russia brokered the creation of humanitarian corridors to allow locals to escape the siege. A total of 153,240 people have left the area through humanitarian corridors since the start of the operation, according to the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation.
Title: Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
Post by: Palloy2 on April 08, 2018, 05:14:59 PM
I predict US will not wait for evidence and fire another volley of Tomahawks.  If they give Russia notice, like last time, the area will be cleared first.  If they don't, Russia will shoot them down and then we'll see how good S-400 is.  Also Russia could launch a blistering final attack on Douma and perhaps US bases as well.  They haven't helped Turkey yet, so maybe they will attack Manbij.  Whichever way they do it, WW3 is clearly a big step closer.  Its about time Diners stopped being tired of WW3 talk and started worrying about their future.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-04-08/trump-threatens-assad-putin-over-syrian-chemical-attack-russia-warns-gravest (https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-04-08/trump-threatens-assad-putin-over-syrian-chemical-attack-russia-warns-gravest)
Trump Threatens Putin, "Animal Assad" Over Syrian "Chemical Attack"; Russia Warns Of "Grave" Response If US Launches Strike
Tyler Durden
04/08/2018

It's deja vu all over again.

Remember when the US admitted Syrian "Rebels" have used chemical weapons? Or when earlier this year, now former Secretary of State blamed Russia for an alleged Syrian chemical attack despite admitting he doesn't know who actually did it? Or when the US finally admitted there was "no evidence" Assad used sarin gas? Or just last week, when Trump said that the US is finally pulling out of Syria as a result of the defeat of ISIS  (much to the Pantagon's fury and open-ended timetable for extracting Syrian resources)?

Well, maybe you do, but the neocons back in charge of US war preparations foreign policy - now that war hawk John Bolton is Trump's National Security Advisor - are so stuck with the age-old narrative that Assad is desperate to be bombed at any cost, that none of this actually matters, and instead the big story overnight is once again that, lo and behold, Assad decided to gas some "rebels" aga