April 26, 2017
The 5th Assault Corps drew the media attention in early 2017 following the fall of Palmyra to ISIS, which showed the need for more well-trained and equipped infantry to deal with crisis situations even more evident. The Syrian military announced the formation of the 5th Assault Corps in November 2016 as an elite force consisting solely of volunteers and backed up by Russia and Iran.
Currently, the corps is over 10,000 troops strong. The leadership of the corps is headquartered in Latakia with military bases scattered about Hama and Palmyra. The top commanders of the force remain unknown. It is believed that it is led by a group of Syrian commanders, aided by large presence of Russian advisors.
Since the establishment of the 5th Corps, the force was participated in several offensive operations the first and most important of which was the Palmyra operation. Troops of the 5th Corps were able to repel ISIS attacks against the key T4 Military Airbase in spite of the force’s relative lack of combat experience at that time.
After successfully defending the airbase against incessant ISIS attacks for several weeks, 5th Corps troops began rapid advance toward Palmyra, using new tactics and with intense Russian air support. On March 4, the 5th Corps and allied forces recaptured the ancient city with very few casualties in contrast to ISIS death toll of over 300 fighters. The 5th Corps would not stop in Palmyra, as the force would take on a number of operations to expand the buffer zone around Palmyra, including the capture of the Palmyra Silos and a number of hills and oil fields north and south of the city.
The 5th Corps was the first force to support the Syrian Army and the NDF during the latest jihadist offensive on Hama. On the 21st of March, fighters from the corps along with the NDF and Tiger Forces were able to absorb the attack and launch a successful counterattack recapturing over the territories rebels had taken in their offensive.
Many reports suggest that the 5th Corps will be the backbone of the anticipated offensive in east Homs that is aimed at lifting the siege of Deir Ezzor. In fact, many tribal fighters and Deir Ezzor locals have already begun to volunteer for the corps even as Russia continues to bolster the capabilities financially and militarily. The operation that may be launched in late 2017 will seek to retake the 150km-long highway between Palmyra and Deir Ezzor, in what would be one of the largest operations since the beginning of the Syrian war.
The 5th Corps includes several volunteer groups in its forces including Assad Shield, Mahardeh Forces, and Martyrdom or Victory Groups. However, the most important are the following:
ISIS Hunters: A special operations group formed by volunteers who lost relatives and loved ones to ISIS terrorism. Most of its fighters are native to Homs countryside and Palmyra. This group is distinguished by the fact that it was fully armed and trained by Russia. It has already carried out a large score of raids and operations on ISIS positions all around Palmyra; those operations are believed to be the reason the city was recaptured in a very short time.
Tribal Forces: A group of volunteers from the tribes of Deir Ezzor, Raqqa, and Hasakah. This was the force that stormed Palmyra during the last phase of the offensive. It is believed that this group will be the spearhead force of the anticipated Deir Ezzor offensive.
Ba’ath Brigades: A military group formed from members of the ruling Ba’ath Party. The group boasts no fewer than 2,000 fighters and is mainly tasked with defensive operations in the Palmyra desert to ensure the city will not fall again.
As for the weapons operated by the 5th Corps, most were supplied by Russian Army. T-72B3 tanks with Kontakt 5 reactive armor system & thermal sight are perhaps the most advanced weapon systems used by 5th Corps fighters. The Corps are also abundantly equipped with T-62m tanks with improved armor protection which allowed them to survive at least 5 ATGM hits, including by TOW missiles, in Palmyra and north Hama, with none of the crewmembers becoming casualties. In addition to the T-62 ranks, the force is well-equipped with BMP-1s, BMP-2s, GAZ Vodnik wheeled APCs armed with 14.5mm machineguns that are also used as a field ambulance in addition to many UAZ Patriot light utility vehicles armed with 12.7mm machineguns and 30mm automatic grenade launchers.
Russia continues to supply more equipment and ammo on a routine basis as the group increases in size and responsibilities. The 5th Corps so far is a successful experiment in that it managed to accomplish all assigned missions and is a precursor to merging all militias that support the Syrian Army into an official part of the Syrian Armed Forces in the future. Some experts believe that the creation of the 5th Corps is the first part of the Russian-led attempt to improve the Syrian security system and to create a united command structure that will be able to manage, control and absorb various militias supporting the government. In turn, pro-government groups should also be interested in further formalization of their relations with the government and integration into the Syrian military and security services. Therefore, their members will be able to take a rightful place in the post-war Syria.
It stands to reason that the town of Teebat Al-Imaam would be liberated after Sooraan was relieved of its terrorist burden. Forces are now gathering in the area of Mahardaa for the push on Hilfaayaa. The SAA is still trying to get the terrorists to leave the area for Idlib, but, without much luck so far. The Nusra/Alqaeda rodents know their fate is sealed and their commanders, now flush with new fighters from abandoned areas around Damascus, are unwilling to relinquish what they have in northern Hama. Essentially, they have given orders to fight to the last rat. I believe the SAA is trying to get citizens out of Hilfaayaa so the town can be vaporized by thermobaric bombs. You all saw what the Russian Air Force did on Souraan with that tape sent by Silvia. So you know what the plan is now, It is absolutely inconceivable that the rodents will allow citizens to leave any area.
The SAA is pushing Nusra/Alqaeda out of areas of Hilfaayaa where the vultures used to lob mortar shells at the citizens of Maharda. News reports from compromised news services about Alqaeda having regained what it lost to the SAA 2 days ago at Teebat Al-Imaam are patently fabricated nonsense. It’s just the opposite as the SAA is bracing to invade Hilfaayaa any hour now. There is a jumble of mutual-vilifications and invective infusing communications between rodent groups, each one accusing the other of incompetence in the face of enormous losses to government forces during the SAA’s campaign to eject these carriers of disease from Hama Province. The SAA has so far killed 233 rodents and wounded hundreds in the battle for Teebat Al-Imaam. It has also destroyed 2 ammunition depots, 6 tanks and an armored car from Turkey.
The last grouping of citizens has now left in 26 buses from Kafrayyaa and Al-Faw’ah to Western Aleppo, specifically government controlled Al-Raashideen. This area was selected as a destination because of the large number of empty apartments available for immediate tenancy. The other grouping made up of rodents from Madhaayaa, Sirghaayaa, Buqqeen and Al-Zabadaani have also arrived in Idlib Province – their final destination, so to speak. The people of the tourist areas in the mountains west of Damascus are elated with many former terrorists now either going back to a normal life or joining the popular militias whose role has been crucial, if not indispensable, in the fight against American-British-Saudi-Turkish terrorism.
One note about the name of the town just liberated. It is best pronounced “Teebat Al-Imaam” (The geniality of the Imaam). Some sites are miswriting it as “Tayyibat Al-Imaam” which makes no sense in Arabic. Just a note.
Another note: It appears that the most accurate way to spell Kafrayyaa is exactly that. The name is indistinguishable from the famous location in Mount Lebanon where one of Ziad’s favorite Araqs is produced: The Kafrayyaa Araq “Thrice Distilled”.
The evacuation of the two towns of Kafarayyaa and Al-Faw’ah devastated Saudi and Turk plans for northern Syria. Interestingly, it was Qatar which played a pivotal role in midwifing the exchange. Don’t think that the Qataris did this out of the goodness of their reptile hearts. They negotiated this deal in order to secure the release of 27 Qatari degenerates held by Iraqi Shi’ite militiamen who took these rodents hostage after they were found hunting in Southern Iraq. In order to obtain their release, Qatar had to engineer the evacuation of the citizens of the two towns in Hama. No doubt this left a bad taste in their mouths seeing that all they have done during the last 6 years has been to promote terrorism and brutality with their dirty loot.
NEW YORK CITY:
At the United Nations, Nikki Haley, a WOG par excellence, is demonstrating the invincible stupidity of Trump’s mis-administration. Born to a Sikh family from Amritsar, Punjab, India, she has staked out a niche for herself among a pantheon of Republican weasels and what Shakespeare would have called “beetle-headed flap-eared knaves.” She is ignorant beyond belief and will redefine what imbecile Samantha Powers couldn’t quite do while representing the United States at the U.N.: make the people of America seem hopelessly bonded to intractable ignorance. She is so pro-Zionist that she is seen often spasmodically expectorating the chemically self-same toxins which used to fly out of Hillary Clinton’s maw. She has a brother who served as a chemical weapons “expert” with the U.S. Army. No doubt, his vast knowledge of using such weapons on innocent people has contributed to her constant caterwauling about Khaan Shaykhoon. She is a born liar.
Nincompoop Haley seen in this photo brandishing her idea of “peaceful resolution of disputes”. This convert to Methodist Protestantism spends her life humiliating the otherwise fine people of Sikh India. Like Obama before her, she is deeply jealous of Dr. Assad’s bright blue eyes.
ISIS tried to take over SAA positions in areas liberated around the Cemeteries in southern Dayr El-Zor but were stifled by a ferocious firestorm from Syrian Army regulars who had been given advance warning by citizens and army spotters. The SAA confirmed killing 5 rats and wounding scores who could be seen being transported hurriedly to some slimy field hospital. You might be interested to know that ISIS is relocating its administrative dung heap to this area from Al-Raqqa.
DER’AH: Be advised that the Nusra/Alqaeda murderers supported by the Zionist Cannibal State are about to collapse. This is why the U.S., Jordan, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are moving at double time to put together a new army to battle for Southern Syria. The Manshiyya Quarter is perilously close to falling into the liberating arms of the Syrian government’s military. You can see this happening by the number of demonstrations inside Der’ah praising the army and celebrating the evacuation of Kafrayyaa and Al-Faw’ah, something that would have been unthinkable one month ago.
NEWS AND COMMENT:
Dr. Assad expertly discusses the false flag at Khaan Shaykhoon with Sputnik News. (Thanks, Alexander Ajay):
Great article written with insight from the Washington Times sent to us by Walid:
Samer Hussein sends his translated article about the criminal French is this one from Fort Russ:
Now that Trump has already comprehensively betrayed all his campaign promises and that he 100 first days in office are marked by nothing else but total chaos, incompetence, betrayals of his closest friends and allies, recklessly dangerous and utterly ineffective grandstanding in foreign policy, there are a lot of people out there who say “I told you so!”, “how could you take this clown seriously!” and “are you now finally waking up from your delusional state?”. Yes, a superficial survey of what Trump did since he got into the White House could appear to make these nay-sayers look right. But in reality, they are completely wrong. Let me explain why.
First, what these nay-sayers apparently ignore is that there are innumerable examples in history of the elites turning against each other, usually in times of crises. In the case of Trump, I submit that there overwhelming empirical data out there that a good part of the world elites really and truly were terrified of a possible Trump victory. The kind of hysterical, completely over-the-top hate campaign in which the US Ziomedia engaged in against Trump is something which I have never seen before and which, in my opinion, proves that the Neocon-run propaganda outlets (the Ziomedia, Hollywood) saw Trump as a major danger to their interests. Now, whether Trump had any chance against such powerful “deep state” actors or not is immaterial: Trump was a chance, a possibility and, I would argue, the only option to try to kick the Neocons in the teeth. And don’t give me Sanders or Stein as possible options, they were both 100% fake – just look at how both of them did Hillary’s dirty job for her (Sanders with his endorsement of her even though he was cheated out of a victory and Stein with her ridiculous recount). Even if Trump had just a 1% chance of prevailing, voting for him was an opportunity to achieve regime change in the USA and the American people grabbed it. They did the ethically and pragmatically correct thing. Trump was really the only choice.
Second, you can think of the elections as a giant opinion poll. What the American voter did is to send two messages urbi et orbi. First to the rest of the planet: Not in our name! We don’t support this regime! And then to the Neocons: we hate you. In fact, we hate you so much that we are willing to even vote for a guy like Trump just because we hate Hillary even more. As to the message to the Ziomedia it was crystal clear: liars! We don’t trust you! Go screw yourselves, we will vote for the man you hate with such a passion precisely because we deny you the right to tell us what to think. Yes, Trump proved to be a fake and a liar himself, but he will also be a one term President as a direct consequence of his betrayals. And it is quite possible that Kushner or Pence will now run the Empire on behalf of his real bosses, but the world will also know that this was not what the American people wanted.
Third, this gigantic vote of no-confidence in the Ziomedia will now force the regime to engage in all sorts of more or less subtle maneuvers to try to crack down on free speech in the USA. This is good news for two reasons: a) they will fail and b) they will show their true face. YouTube, Google, Facebook, Twitter and all the others are now becoming overt agents of oppression whereas in the past they still had (an admittedly thin) veneer of respectability. Now that it has become clear that the Internet is the last free-speech zone and that more and more Americans realize that Russia Today or Press TV are far superior news sources than the US Ziomedia, the level of influence of the US propaganda machine will continue to plummet.
Fourth, if we look at the immoral, self-defeating and, frankly, stupid decisions of Trump in the Middle-East and in Far-East Asia we can at least find some solace in the fact that Trump is now betraying all his campaign promises. Hillary would have done more or less the same, but with what she would definitely present these policies as having a mandate from the American people. Trump has no such excuse, and that is very good indeed. Voting for Trump took the mandate away from the Ziocons.
Fifth, remember the “basket or deplorables”? “Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic.” If Hillary had been elected, then the ideology which made her characterize the average American as ugly bigot would be ruling the country by now. But she was defeated. Thus, it is becoming undeniable that there are two Americas out there: one which I call the “alliance of minorities” and the other what I would called “real America” or “mainstream America”. The defeat of Hillary has sent a powerful message to these minorities reminding them that they are exactly that – minorities – and that a political agenda centered on the hatred of the majority is not a viable one. This empowering of the majority of US Americans is, I think, a much needed development whose effects will hopefully felt in future elections.
Sixth, Trump already got one more or less decent Supreme Court Justice in. He might get another one in before he is impeached or his term ends. Hillary would have probably nominated the first Black or Latino genderfluid freak, a Chabad-Lubavitch rabbi or even Alan Dershowitz Himself (with a capital “H”) to the supreme court and dared anybody to vote them down. Of course, compared to the risks of nuclear war, a Supreme Court Justice nominee might not appear to be crucial, but for those living inside the USA such nominations can make a huge difference.
Seventh and last but not least, nuclear war is simply too horrible and threatens the future of the entire human race. I submit that we all, every one of us, has a moral duty to do everything we can to avoid it and to make it less likely, even if we can only act at the margins. This is one of those very rare cases where a single-issue vote really does make sense. I don’t care how bad Trump turned out to be. In fact, even if he turns out to be even worse than Hillary, I submit that it is absolutely undeniable that on the day the Election took place Hillary was the candidate for war and Trump the candidate for peace. Those who claim otherwise seem to have forgotten that Hillary promised us a no-fly zone over Russian forces in Syria. They also forget this absolutely crucial statement made by Hillary Clinton in early December of 2012:
“There is a move to re-Sovietise the region,” (…) “It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that,” (…) “But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.”
There are also persistent rumors that Hillary was the one who told Bill to bomb Serbia. So this women (sorry, I cannot call her a “lady”) does have a record and that record is a frightening one. God only knows what would have happened if she had become the President. She clearly is a hateful maniac with a personal hate for Putin. There is absolutely no evidence indicating that Trump had that kind of hateful personality.
So while “Monday morning quarterbacking” is fun, it is also absurd. Those who now tell us “I told you so” are right but for the wrong reasons, whereas those who supported Trump were wrong, but for the right reasons. Trump betrayed his campaign promises, but those who voted for him could not simply assume that he would do that, especially not when there was no reason at all to believe that Hillary would betray hers: does anybody seriously believe that after being elected on a promise of war she would have turned into a dove of peace? Of course not.
Simply put: Hillary was guaranteed bad. Trump was possibly bad. The logical choice was therefore obvious, especially when ‘bad’ would most likely mean nuclear war.
April 21, 2017
On the night of April 21st I was in my office in Paris, just 100 meters from the Champs-Elysees, when I got a phone call from a fellow journalist telling me about the deadly attack on policemen there.
I was in the middle of working on my latest report on France’s presidential election for Iran’s Press TV.
When I got the call, I had just written this sentence – I was still mulling it over (lotta numbers for TV copy):
“The last week has seen two major surprises which may push undecided voters to the right: the alleged discovery of a 2-man terror plot to attack 1 of the 3 main right-wing candidates, and the surprisingly-timed start of a court case involving 20 people accused of being part of a terror cell in 2012.”
Well…as you can guess, I had to add a third major surprise: the alleged terrorist attack on Champs-Elysees Avenue.
France’s 1st round vote in the presidential election is just two days away – on April 23rd – so let’s be very, very clear: The industrial-military-finance-media complex cannot live with a victory by Communist-backed Jean-Luc Melenchon.
If the establishment wouldn’t do “anything” to prevent Melenchon from taking office, they would certainly do “most anything”.
But let’s be level-headed: We know that governments commit assassinations. We know that they often send their soldiers off to certain death to advance unjust goals. The murder of this policeman is going to remind many of Jo Cox’s murder in the run-up to the Brexit vote.
What is absolutely undeniable is that the Champs-Elysees attack will have some sort of political effect
Tension here is high – the race is currently a 4-way dead heat. It’s too close to call because four candidates are within the margin-of-error.
But even the polls are somewhat useless, because there is an enormous undecided voter rate of over 30%.
I have used some form of “the only certainty is uncertainty” at least a half-dozen times in my reports over the last week, because it truly does bear repeating.
But one thing is certain: all three of this week’s “surprises” – which pushed terrorism, xenophobia, insecurity, fear and hate to the top of the headlines in this final week of unparalleled importance and indecision – have benefitted everyone except for Melenchon.
The industrial-military-finance-media complex wants Emmanuel Macron or Francois Filllon to win. Both are a continuation of Sarkozy and Hollande: austerity, globalization, racism, foreign intervention, Eurozone cannibalization of weaker members.
They industrial-military-finance-media complex can even live with a Marine Le Pen victory, even though she is also promising many of the same anti-system/anti-Brussels measures as Melenchon – on Frexit, NATO, the Euro, etc. She goes even further by promising to suspend the Schengen visa-free requirement if elected, and that would make the refugee crisis look like small potatoes, because it would do untold damage to the pocketbooks of the leading capitalists.
Heck, 60% of active cops are going to vote National Front, so they might work in her favor just to get their way, high-finance be damned. God bless the sainted “boys in blue”, eh?
But the establishment absolutely cannot cope with the rise of a leftist candidate in any country, no matter how backwards. Not Burkina Faso, not Nicaragua, not Laos and not any other country most people can’t find on a map.
So for sure it can’t happen here: France, the world’s 5th-largest economy.
The French say “once does not make a custom”, but 3 times in 1 week?
Of course I have no proof to offer, but the timing of the Marseilles 2-man terror cell “discovery” and the Champs-Elysees “terrorist attack” are going to make them ripe for accusations of being a false-flag operations.
Or maybe it’s all a coincidence? I’m a reporter – I need facts. I need to examine all the angles. Coincidences do happen, in fact.
Maybe France truly is being targeted by terrorists during the election campaign, as authorities have repeatedly claimed? They certainly prepared us for that possibility with announcements to that effect.
Maybe the court docket was so full that the unprecedented 20-person terror cell trial simply HAD to start 3 days before the vote? Another coincidence? They don’t decide these court dates by lottery, I know that.
Maybe…but what’s sure is that the industrial-military-finance-media complex is toasting these 3 events, because it aids their 3 favorite candidates.
Because what they don’t want is serious discussion of the problems which touch all French people.
Quickly: record unemployment, austerity, economic stagnation, state of emergency, 2,000+ arrests of democratic protesters last year, cops anally raping with batons, angry riots.
I could go on, but it’s after midnight – need to finish my Press TV report, then do a 2 am interview. Welcome to journalism!
Everyone else has already had their workday. All those voters lying in their bed, wondering who they will vote for, and possibly wondering if another killer escaped from the Champs-Elysees. That rumor was floating around just an hour ago, but at some point you have to switch off the TV.
I am not calling the roughly 16 million undecided voters “weak-minded” for being prey to such faithless, late-night monsters during this last week of campaigning – I simply imagine them to be politically uninterested. Because how can you still be undecided 2 days before the election when you have 4 candidates who have rather radically different candidates? Simple – you are not paying very much attention.
Hey, I’m not looking down on them – I wouldn’t listen to most of these guys unless I got paid, and thankfully I do. I’m interested in politics, but many aren’t. Many don’t have time.
But it’s these people – the huge 30%-plus – who might let themselves be affected by these 3 events.
This is also going to be a huge factor: The abstention rate should surpass the record 28% in 2002. That’s why Jean-Marie Le Pen got into the 2nd round back then – his right-wing voters got out to vote while the uninterested stayed at home.
These 3 events galvanize not just the undecided, but the both lazy-and-far-right voter.
The complex, the cops, the establishment – all going very well for them
Except for Francois Hollande – what a patsy. He’s actually speaking live right now. Unless he’s apologizing, I have no interest in listening and not even for pay.
Nobody does, which is why he can’t even run. His Socialist Party’s candidate is down to just 8% – might not even make 5% and get the Party’s campaign expenditures reimbursed, which must be the only reason the candidate hasn’t dropped out: He is just going to split the leftist vote and ruin Melenchon’s chances, most likely.
Hollande didn’t even back his own party’s candidate – he indirectly supported Macron, who Hollande plucked from obscurity to become a minister and who is now absolutely, 100% running on a Hollande-Part Deux platform.
And Macron’s leading…and the French are buying all of this…just like many will not even see the possibility of a false flag situation, or two, this week.
The helicopters have mostly stopped now – must be terrible to be in Palestine and hear that regularly. Or the ghettos of Los Angeles.
ISIL just claimed responsibility for the Champs-Elysees attacks, I just read.
Makes me wonder if the “false flag” idea would have gained more traction if it was Al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate) instead? After all, in 2012 France’s foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, said of Al-Nusra: “they are doing good things on the ground.”
And for this Fabius is being sued by Syrians – it is rather obvious why: “defending terrorism speech,” is illegal in France. But that’s what Fabius clearly did.
Check back with me in 2032 when that case is finished. Of course, if you are a young Muslim in France and you are accused of “defending terrorism speech” then you’re rushed through the system: accusation, trial, prison within days. They convicted the mentally ill, they convicted the drunk, but they convicted the Muslim above all.
I’m getting off-track here and talking about things which increase citizen alienation and dissatisfaction. The story line is terrorism, always terrorism, right?
Yeah, if it was Al-Nusra, then maybe the “false flag” idea would gain some mainstream traction. Too bad it was ISIL – the two groups are enemies, for those who don’t know. Bad luck, no story there….
The only candidate who will end the state of emergency is, you guessed it, Jean-Luc Melenchon. If the French truly loved “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” they’d vote in Melenchon just for that….
3 “surprises”, but only 3 facts to remember
The most important fact – and I even thought about leading this article with this fact – is that seemingly every terrorist in France since 2012 has cited France’s foreign interventions as their motivation for terrorism. It is not Islam, it is not jihad – it is foreign intervention, and their obviously capitalist motivations.
Secondly, France’s establishment wants – above all – to avoid discussions about capitalism and its ineffectiveness.
Thirdly, these attacks are simply not important.
No matter who did them, or why, they simply are not important right now. Whether they are government assassinations or ISIL-led terrorist attacks, you French citizens owe it to each other to make an intelligent vote, not an emotional one.
For the undecided voters: You haven’t made a stand for your political morals yet, but that’s a good place to start.
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.
أبريل 20, 2017
April 16, 2017
By Aram Mirzaei
Just as many observers of the Syrian conflict had been thinking that the tragic crisis playing out for the past six years in the Arab country was finally about to see and end, things quickly turned around on April 4 as Syrian “opposition controlled” areas were allegedly hit by chemical weapons, a terrible crime purportedly committed by the “Assad regime”, who apparently decided to defy all logic and challenge the “International Community” to revise its decision to finally let go of the obsessive quest of regime change in Syria.
Within days, US Tomahawk missiles struck the Shayrat Airbase in the Homs governorate. The missile strikes did not result in any serious damage to the installation as the Syrian Air Force managed to restore it only a few days later. Trump and the US regime have portrayed this act of aggression as a show of force, despite them narrating it with some fantasy of Washington being the guarantor of human rights for the Syrian people.
Washington is not ready for peace, nor is it ready to admit defeat in Syria. Not only did Washington know the consequences of unilateral action against an ally of Russia’s and Iran’s, but it also knew what the result would be: continued fighting. The Syria-Russia-Iran axis had entered 2017 with a lot of confidence after the December 2016 victory of Aleppo, paving the way for a new peace process to be initiated, one that did not include Washington’s direct interference. Of course, any negotiation for peace at this moment would include the “opposition” to give major concessions rather than the government having to do so due to the waning influence of Jihadist rebels in Syria as a result of casualties sustained both during battles with government troops and as a result of infighting.
In Iran, this act of aggression was viewed as an expected move by the American side. The Iranian political establishment and leadership had long warned that neither Clinton nor Trump were any different in their approach to the Middle East. Immediately after this attack, Iran issued harsh condemnation towards the act and reiterated its position of standing by the Syrian government’s side.
Iran recently warned that such aggression won’t go unanswered with Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehqan adding that “The resistance front will continue to fight resolutely against terrorists despite the will of the Americans.” Concurrently, the Iranian government has worked closely with its Russian counterpart to respond to this aggression.
What I find troubling is that much of the focus of the Russian and Iranian governments official response has been on calling for an “unbiased investigation” of the incident in Khan Sheikhoun on April 4. During the following days after the US strike on the Shayrat Airbase, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called several times for the establishment of an international fact-finding committee to investigate the attack.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned as unacceptable the “unfounded accusations” about the chemical attack, calling for an international probe. Putin “pointed out that it was unacceptable to make groundless accusations against anyone without conducting a detailed and unbiased investigation.”
Iran and Russia should by now know that it is useless to call for “unbiased investigations” in a world where Washington dominates the main international institutions charged with such investigations. Therefore, any calls for “unbiased investigations” of this incident are pointless.
Furthermore, the response towards this aggression was also relatively weak in the sense that not once did the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance threaten to respond militarily to this obvious act of war by Washington. This sort of restraint is not interpreted well by the West as they rather view it as a sign of weakness rather than understanding that Syria-Iran-Russia are doing their utmost to avoid a potential World War. I argue that Rogue States such as the US must be deterred from engaging in such bold acts such as the strike on Shayrat Airbase. Just as the US has “red lines”, Iran and Russia must also have red lines for what they deem as unacceptable.
On the other hand, this attack also provided the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance an opportunity to deepen their cooperation. Within a matter of days, communication between senior Iranian and Russian officials intensified and culminated on Friday with a joint press conference given by the three countries, showing up a unified front. With Russia’s closure of the military coordination channel devised to prevent any unwanted confrontation between Russian and US forces in Syria, chances of a Russian-Western cooperation grow dim. Russia seems to be running out of partners to cooperate with. Immediately after the US strikes, Turkish President Erdogan made headlines when he stated that Turkey would support US actions against Syria. This proved once again that Turkey is an unreliable partner and that Iran is the only country that shares Russia’s goals in Syria.
This in turn could change the Turkish stance on the diplomatic talks currently underway as Ankara could double down on its positions regarding regime change and “safe zones” in Syria. It wouldn’t come as a big surprise to me either if Turkey increased its support for the Jihadist rebels rather than pressuring them to stay committed to the ceasefire agreed upon with Russia and Iran.
It is also no secret that a potential Washington-Moscow rapprochement is viewed fearfully by Tehran who is concerned that Russia could sell out Iran in pursuit of better relations with the West. Public opinion in Iran is often very distrustful towards Russia, with some viewing Russia as an unreliable partner not being able to defend Syria from US strikes. With this in mind, Russia’s next move is very important because it will show Iran how far Moscow is ready to go to defend an ally.
On a final note, a crucial obstacle to deeper Russian-Iranian partnership has been Iran’s relationship to the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah and Russia’s longstanding policy of preserving a good relationship with Israel. Israel has been able to move relatively freely to violate Syrian airspace and attack the Syrian Army without Russia really responding to these actions in the past. This makes any kind of military cooperation rather limited due to Israeli diplomatic pressure. The Islamic Republic will however continue to work with Russia based on the common interests they share as these two countries share a very pragmatic relationship. A high ranking Iranian diplomat was quoted as saying
“From the very beginning, there have been disagreements between Iran and Russia regarding the Syrian crisis, and this is normal. During the meeting between Rouhani and Putin, there were again discussions regarding this issue. However, it is obvious that we will act based on our own interests and without counting and relying exclusively on Russia’s actions. We knew from the very beginning that there are disagreements between Tehran and Moscow, although, there was also a high level of mutual interests between Iran and Russia with regard to Syria.”
As the relationship between Russia and the West continues to deteriorate, ties between Iran and Russia can improve, with the Syria-Iran-Russia axis growing even more unified in their campaign to combat terrorism across Syria. In the short term, necessity trumps everything else.
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