Syria Summary – Consolidating The West – Marching East

 

By Moon Of Alabama

July 23, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – There were no major changes  in the situation in Syria since our last post. Several smaller steps have further consolidated the position of the government of Syria and its allies while the positions of its enemies continue to deteriorate.


Source: Fabrice Balanche/WINEP – bigger (with legend)

In the north-west Idleb governate and the city of Idleb saw new infighting between Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda in Syria under its current moniker Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Ahrar, historically also an al-Qaeda offspring, was supported by Qatar and Turkey while al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al Nusra aka HTS) was said to have support from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Rudiments of local CIA paid Free Syrian Army gangs are intermixed with these. Their primary task was to collect supplies from the CIA in Turkey and to distribute those to their friends in al-Qaeda and Ahrar al-Sham.

The spat between Qatar and Saudi Arabia mostly ended their interest in their proxies in Syria. The Trump administration decided to end the CIA support program for its FSA proxies in the north-west (but not for others elsewhere). This was a significant change of the situation for each group.

After losing their paymasters the local FSA gangs melted away. Ahrar held on to the border crossings with Turkey and collected “taxes” for everything that went through them. Al-Qaeda in Syria needed money. It attacked Ahrar al-Sham to eliminate the competition and to gain control over the only income source left. Last week al-Qaeda overran nearly all Ahrar al-Sham positions. It managed to capture and hold the Bab al-Hawa border station with Turkey. Taxing all trucks going through is a very significant sources of money. Al-Qaeda will now feed off all im- and exports between the Idleb area and Turkey. Ahrar al-Sham is practically done. It lost most of its weapon and ammunition storages and several subgroups left to join with al-Qaeda in Syria.

In an effort to support Ahrar al-Sham Turkey transferred some of its Syrian proxies from the Euphrates Shield area it holds north-east of Aleppo towards the Turkish side of Idleb border station. But those forces are too few and too little motivated to take up al-Qaeda in Syria. Ahrar is now too depleted and weak to win and control Idleb. The Turkish move was too little too late. Idleb is now for most parts consolidated al-Qaeda territory.

The usual “expert” propagandists have long claimed that Ahrar and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) had no longer anything at all to do with the original al-Qaeda. But today al-Qaeda central published a letter that asks both of these groups to stop there infighting. What will those propaganda goons make out of that?

South from Idleb a pocket of various insurgent groups (Ahrar, al-Qaeda, ISIS) controls the mountains around the Lebanese city of Arsal right next to the border with Syria. In June several Lebanese army personal were killed in the area. The Takfiri insurgent groups are a continuing danger to Lebanon as well as to Syria. Several offers for their transfer to Idleb were rejected.

Last week a united front of Lebanese and Syrian forces started to clean up the pocket and to eliminate all insurgents in area. The Lebanese army took control of Arsal city and will protect it against infiltration. About 5,000 Hizbullah fighters were allocated to attack the insurgents within Lebanon while 3,500 Syrian army personal will mop them up from the Syrian side. The Syrian air-force provides support within Lebanon and Syria. The Hariri government of Lebanon (a Saudi puppet) as well as the U.S. have agreed to the operation. So far it ran without a hitch. After several losses on the first day Hizbullah gained significant ground (see map below) during the last two or three days. Nearly half of the insurgent area is already under control and it will not take long for the rest to be liberated. Those insurgents who do not want to get killed and give up their fight may be send to Idleb where they can join the infighting between their brothers.


bigger

The U.S. and Russia had agreed on a deescalation zone further south next to the border with Israel and Jordan. While Israel was consulted on the issue it later voiced disagreement. The Israeli government wants a permanent U.S. forces in the area to cover the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Golan height. Neither the Trump administration nor the U.S. military have any interested in such a costly entanglement. Israel has long paid, supplied and supported Takifiri groups in the area. It gave them fire support whenever they were in fighting the Syrian government forces. The deescalation agreement foresees the supervision of the deescalation area by Russian military policy. That regime will be installed during the next few weeks and further Israeli shenanigans in the area will become difficult. Russia will react harshly against any interference with its troops’ task.

In the north-east the Kurdish YPG is the U.S. proxy forces for the fight against ISIS in Raqqa. When the YPG submitted to U.S. command was told (video) to rename itself and became the “Syrian Democratic Forces”. It is still the same anarcho-marxist cult that it was before. It is still the same group that is killing Turkish soldiers within Turkey. The U.S. military believes that it can sustain the support for the group and continue to occupy the north-east of Syria after ISIS is defeated:

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis last month left open the possibility of longer-term assistance to Kurdish YPG militia in Syria, saying the United States may need to supply them weapons and equipment even after the capture of Islamic State’s Syria stronghold of Raqqa.

The U.S. plan to split up Syria and Iraq after ISIS is defeated is still in force. But neither the Turkish nor the Iraqi nor the Syrian government will allow the consolidation of a U.S. protected Kurdish minority in east-Syria that they all see as a threat to their sovereignty:

The question remains: how can new Kurdistan states” survive with four countries surrounding it (Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran), all determined to do everything to neutralise a future Kurdish state in Mesopotamia and/or Bilad al-Sham? The Kurds really believe they can rely on two US and one British military bases in Kurdistan Iraq and on Saudi Arabia monies, and on six US military bases in the north of Syria to impose their “state”?

The YPG/SDF has already huge difficulties to defeat ISIS in Raqqa. There is little progress but the losses are considerable. Last week it had to discontinue its attack and wait for fresh forces to arrive. Raqqa is only a medium size city but with many high-rise buildings and a still significant population. Bombing support by the U.S. and heavy artillery shelling will be requited to eliminate ISIS from the city. This may well take several additional months. The city will be destroyed and the attacking Kurds will have high losses. There will be many civilian casualties. All this for a city that even after ISIS is defeated will never submit to Kurdish control and will eventually fall back to the Syrian government. One wonders how the political leadership of the YPG will justify this costly effort when questioned by its constituency.

On the southern bank of the Euphrates the Syrian government forces have now encapsulated the SDF forces around Raqqa. They make continues progress towards Deir Ezzor where a Syrian government forces is still under siege of ISIS.


Source: Weekend Warrior/@evil_SDOC – bigger

The Syrian government attack against ISIS around Deir Ezzor will come on multiple axes. But there are still some 80 kilometers to go and even though the area is mostly an empty semi-desert ISIS commandos are still active there. Only last week some 25 Syrian soldiers were killed in one ISIS commando attack at the T-3 pumping station near Palmyra.

The Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was interviewed (video) by some (know-nothing) journalist of NBC. He rejected the claims of a stop of CIA support to the insurgents (25:20):

“I understand that the US supports much more groups than just the ones, which were announced as being left without the American weapons.”

Lavrov also warned against any thoughts of establishing permanent U.S. bases in Syria.

This article was first published by Moon Of Alabama 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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EXPLOSION HITS IDLIB AS HAY’AT TAHRIR AL-SHAM TAKES CONTROL OF CITY

South Front

23.07.2017

According to opposition sources, fighters of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) deployed in Idlib city and catpured the Executive Force building, the electricity company as well as all checkpoints and Ahrar al-Sham HQs in the city. Thus, HTS set a full control over Idlib.

According to sources, there were few clashes between Ahrar al-Sham and HTS fighters in the city before the withdrawal of Ahrar al-Sham fighters. The source confirmed that handing over Idlib City to HTS is a part of the agreement between Ahrar al-Sham and HTS.

Hours after the deployment of HTS fighters a unknown side targeted a gathering of HTS fighters at the Al-Zira’a Roundabout with a VBIED, killing 13 HTS fighters and injuring dozens. However, it’s not yet known whether elements of ISIS or Ahrar al-Sham were behind the attack.

During the last battle in Idlib province, HTS managed captured Idlib city and the entire Syrian-Turkish border line in the Idlib province.

More than 15 armed groups defected from Ahrar al-Sham and joined HTS. The influence of Ahrar al-Sham has receded and become limited to Sahl al-Ghab areas and Qalat Al-Madiq in the southern and southwestern countryside of Idlib.

 

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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – JULY 20, 2017: GOVT FORCES REGAIN MORE OIL WELLS IN RAQQAH COUNTRYSIDE

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

The Syrian Army Tiger Forces and Tribal Forces have captured Qurat Rumailan, the Rumailan Dam, and 15 oil and gas wells 10km east of Dibisan in the southern Raqqah countryside.  Government troops have also captured the Dibisan 1 and Dibisan 2 pumping stations.

ISIS allegedly lost 7 VBIEDs, a battle tank, and four vehicles during the clashes.  At the same time the terrorist group headquarters in the vicinity of Al-Zemla was bombed by the Syrian Air Force.

According to pro-ISIS sources, 8 Syrian soldiers were killed near the village of Abu Allaj at the Raqqah-Ithriyah road.  General Mundhir Mayhoub and Brigadier General Ayman Habib of the Syrian Army 5th Assault Corps were allegedly killed in the same area.  However, this still has to be confirmed.

Reports are circulating that the Tiger Forces and Tribal forces have almost reached the southern entrance to Raqqah after capturing the Ittihad University near Qusrat Afnan.  However, no videos or photos have appeared which might confirm these claims by pro-government sources.

Recently, the Syrian military command increased military censorship and operations security, preventing soldiers from releasing and spreading information about army movements, actions, and plans.  A lack of information from the ground is related to this issue.

Government forces advanced east and northeast of the Al-Heel field and deployed within about 10 km from the ISIS-held town of Sukhna at the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor road.

Earlier this week, the army and its allies captured a number of hills in the area steadily setting up the ground for the storm of Sukhna.

ISIS claimed that 19 Syrian soldiers were killed after their fighters attacked SAA positions east of the Al-Heel field.  The terrorist group allegedly destroyed two army tanks with an ATGM and a rocket-propelled shell during the clashes.

ISIS attacked army positions in Wadi al-Wa’ar near the Syrian-Iraqi border and allegedly killed 25 Syrian soldiers and captured 3 others.  ISIS also destroyed several SAA vehicles and seized weapons and ammunition.

ISIS expanded its operations against the army and its allies in the Palmyra countryside and near the border with Iraq in order to prevent government forces from advancing on Deir Ezzor.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) received a new batch of American weapons and equipment, including M-ATV US armored vehicles and D7R armored bulldozers.  Tankers were spotted in the military convoy loaded with fuel for US helicopters which are deployed at several bases inside Syria.

Meanwhile, the SDF, backed up by the US-led coalition, is developing momentum against ISIS in the southern part of the city of Raqqah.  The US-backed force was not able to seize the old city area and is now attempting to isolate it from the southern direction.

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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – JULY 18, 2017: ARMY ADVANCING ON ISIS-HELD TOWN OF SUKHNA

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

On Monday, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) repelled an attack of pro-Turkish militants in the direction of Ayn Daqnah in the northern part of Aleppo province.  According to pro-Kurdish sources, the attack was supported by Turkish artillery units.  The artillery shelling also targeted YPG positions in Herbel, Sheikh Issa, and Tel Rifat.  The YPG repelled the first wave of the attack and allegedly killed 20 pro-Turkish militants and captured a few vehicles.

On Tuesday, sporadic clashes continued in the area.  According to experts, pro-Turkish militants will not be able to break the YPG defense without direct assistance from the Turkish army.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed up by the US-led coalition airpower, recaptured the whole Yarmouk district from ISIS and entered the Nezle Shihade district in the city of Raqqah.  At the same time, US military sources denied reports that the SDF had allegedly halted its operations against ISIS because of tensions among Arab and Kurdish units of the group.

The Syrian Army Tiger Forces and Tribal forces captured the Deilla oil field south of the government-held town of Resafa in the province of Raqqah, according to pro-government sources.  The Tiger Forces and their allies are steadily clearing from ISIS key areas south of the Resafa-Ithriyah road.

Numerous pro-government sources are speculating about the expected government push from the Resafa area towards the ISIS besieged city of Deir Ezzor.  However, right now, this option looks unlikely.

In turn, government forces are developing momentum in the direction of Sukhna northeast of Palmyra.  According to local sources, the army and its allies have captured new points en route to the ISIS-held town.

Reports about alleged government forces progressing towards the ISIS-held T2 pumping station near the border with Iraq are fake.  Clashes are still ongoing in the area of Hamimah.

SYRIAN ARMY ADVANCES ON STRATEGIC ISIS-HELD TOWN OF SUKHNA, GETS CONTROL OVER HILLS NEAR IT (MAP)

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA), Liwa al-Quds, the National Defense Forces (NDF) and other pro-government factions have launched a push in order to reach the strategic ISIS-held town of Sukhna located at the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor road.

According to pro-government sources, the SAA, the NDF and their allies have advanced northeast of the al-Hail field and captured some hills allowing to overlook the vicinity of Sukhna.

Sukhna is surrounded by a number of hills that overlook the town. If government forces capture these hills, they will be able to establish a fire control over the town.

Syrian Army Advances On Strategic ISIS-held Town Of Sukhna, Gets Control Over Hills Near It (Map)

Pro-Syria forces advance in central Homs against ISIS

 

BEIRUT, LEBANON (6:15 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have scored a big advance against ISIS in central Homs. The attack was made on a front that has been virtually inactive for months.

Today the SAA and allied outfits captured new points and hilltops from ISIS near the al-Tafha al-Janoubyah mountain chain to the northwest of the T-4 Military Airport. According to reports, pro-government forces advanced some two kilometers in the area.

The assault by pro-government forces was backed up by Russian airstrikes.

According to a post-operation assessment provided to Al-Masdar News, pro-government forces killed at least twenty (20) ISIS militants as a result of the firefight that took place.

With the advances achieved by the SAA and its allies today, the buffer zone along the section of highway linking Homs to Palmyra as been expanded. Furthermore, the push has also brought pro-government forces closer to the strategic Huwysis area.

Whether this was just a one-off advance in the area or part of a greater offensive action is currently unknown.

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How and Why U.S. Honors and Aids Al Qaeda

June 20, 2017

by Eric Zuesse

How and Why U.S. Honors and Aids Al Qaeda

This will present a typical example in which the U.S. promotes Al Qaeda and other jihadists, and then honors that promotion by calling this PR not “propaganda” as it really is, but instead outstanding “news reporting,” and then honors that “news reporting,” with prestigious ‘journalism’ awards from the Overseas Press Club, and The Peabody. Throughout, the jihadists in Syria are being referred to in these ‘news’-reports as ‘the rebels’ and they are backed by the U.S. government, and (obviously) also by the aristocracy that own (and advertise in) the ‘news’ media, and whose lobbies also apparently control the President, and the Congress. Deception of the American public, by the American press, is that blatant and that egregious, as will here be documented (but will continue to be suppressed by the ‘free press’ in this ‘democracy’ where the press never exposes its own systematic lying — as will here be shown).

Documentation for everything here will consist of excerpts from the relevant news-reports themselves (so the story will be told by the evidence itself), and will close with excerpts from an AlterNet news report by Ben Norton, which was vastly more worthy of winning journalism awards than anything from CNN (or any of the others) has been, but is suppressed instead of pumped, by the U.S. press. I have added boldface in some places, in order to make easier a reader’s quickly noticing things which will become more important subsequently, in this presentation of excerpts. The excerpts are arranged so as to tell a narrative that makes sense and has continuity.

Excerpts are used here instead of paraphrases, because otherwise an intelligent reader might think that the paraphrases are overstating how appalling the U.S. ‘news’ media are. It’s better for the perpetrators to display their wares, than for someone else to do it for them. So, I let them do it.

Here are those excerpts; here is their story, told by the participants themselves:

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http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/14/

The truth about Syria

Undercover behind rebel lines

By Clarissa Ward with Salma Abdelaziz, CNN

[Salma Abdelaziz covers the Middle East for CNN, based in London.]

Updated 1:40 PM ET, Fri March 18, 2016

Rebel-held Syria (CNN) There’s a sickening moment between hearing the planes and waiting for them to drop their payload. A pit forms in your stomach. You know you could die, but you also know there’s no way to divine where the strike will hit.

On a hill overlooking Ariha, our guard Abu Youssef seems to have located the jet in the sky and is following it with his eyes. “Russian planes,” he says. …

Monitoring groups say nearly 2,000 civilians have been killed since the Russian intervention began. …

Syria is hell. But standing in the warm sun, watching the silver green olive leaves shiver in the breeze, it is also paradise. A ceasefire has been in place for a couple of days, though based on what we saw and heard, it’s difficult to have much faith that it will hold.

We are preparing to leave, saying our goodbyes. We hand over a bag full of British chocolates to our security guards. Abu Youssef thanks us and quietly hands each of us a folded piece of white paper with our initials on it.

“Promise me you won’t read these until you get back home to London,” he says.

Two flights and 72 hours later, we open the letters.

“I hope you have a good idea of us,” they read. “Please tell the world the truth about Syria.”

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https://twitter.com/

Nidal

@Nidalgazaui

18 Years old Freedom Activist from Germany. Visited the YPG in Syria. MENA Analyst, Focusing on Terrorism and Jihadist Groups in Middle east and E Asia

Germany

nidalgazaui.wordpress.com

Nidal

@Nidalgazaui

#ISIS Fighter from #Gaza, Abu Youssef Al-Ghazawhi killed recently in #Aleppo while fighting the Syrian army near #DeirHafer in #Aleppo Prov.

11:58 PM – 22 Mar 2017

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[NOTE: It’s bad enough that the reporter, Ward, in Aleppo, was emotionally close to and was being protected by someone, “Abu Youssef,” who was clearly partisan — in his case, against Syria’s government and also against Russia, which means on the ‘rebel’ side, which in Aleppo meant being on Al Qaeda’s side there. Wikipedia’s article Battle of Aleppo (2012–2016)” says: “Rebel groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Shamia Front and the Ahrar al-Sham established Sharia system in areas they control, imposing torture or other ill-treatment as punishment. Human rights activists, lawyers and journalists have been subjected to kidnappings.” These ‘rebels’ were religious fanatics. But if that person was also the “#ISIS Fighter from #Gaza, Abu Youssef Al-Ghazawhi killed recently in #Aleppo while fighting the Syrian army near #DeirHafer in #Aleppo Prov,” then this places the reporter as being under the protection of an “ISIS fighter,” and ISIS is supposed to be so fanatical that even the U.S. government condemn them — but maybe not CNN, nor the Overseas Press Club, nor The Peabody.]

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https://www.theguardian.com/

Aleppo ‘hell’ prevents Syria peace talks, say diplomats

With 2 million terrified citizens trapped and brutal fighting continuing, UN-backed talks in August seem impossible

Patrick Wintour, diplomatic editor Tuesday 9 August 2016 16.53 EDT

… In a bid to restart the talks US secretary of state John Kerry met Vladimir Putin in mid-July to propose a deal whereby the Syrian air force ended its lethal bombing campaign in return for American agreement that one of the leading rebel forces – the al-Qaida-linked al-Nusra Front – be designated a terrorist group, and so no longer party to a new ceasefire [Wintour is using code here, for: allowed to be bombed during the ceasefire — Obama refused to accept that condition, and he insisted that Russia discontinue bombing them but bomb only ISIS during a ceasefire, and he stuck with that stance until the very end, when he sabotaged Kerry’s deal with Lavrov]. American sponsored rebel forces have long been entangled with al-Nusra, and many Washington-backed forces would regard an attack on al-Nusra as an attack on the Syrian revolution itself.

The US proposal has been made more complex by the announcement last week that al-Nusra had “broken” with al-Qaida, and was now forming a new group, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. Western diplomats doubt the sincerity of this change in ideology [he’s using code for: change in name].

But Washington seems reluctant to denounce this new group as a bogus rebranding, partly because it knows so many of the already weak rebel groups it does support are willing, or even eager, to work with the effective and disciplined al-Nusra forces. Many of these moderate forces [as if there were ‘moderates’ when jihadists were waging war to replace a secular government] feel abandoned by the west.

At the UN session on Monday, Clarissa Ward, a celebrated CNN war correspondent, also warned Russia was playing into the hands of jihadists. She told the Russian envoy: “From my experience on the ground – which is considerable – bombing hospitals, court houses, bakeries and fruit markets does not eliminate terrorism. If anything it is the oxygen which terrorists breathe and it spreads like wildfire.”

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[NOTE: For a “celebrated CNN war correspondent” to be so partisan against Russia, as to have charged that “Russia was playing into the hands of jihadists,” when she herself was blatantly and actually in the hands of jihadists — and being protected by them, while those jihadists were trying to kill and were being bombed by Russia — is stupid. Was this person that stupid? Or, perhaps, was she instead so closed-minded to the fact that in order to slaughter the jihadists, it was necessary that some of the people whom the jihadists were using as human shields would also die? Does Clarissa Ward possess even a modicum of the objectivity that’s required of any authentic journalist — especially when covering a war — or is she receiving ‘journalism’ awards because in the United States, ‘journalism’ has sunk to the level of sheer propaganda? But the British Guardian’s reporter is no better, referring to jihadists as ‘rebels’, and referring to the Syrian government’s war against them as a ‘lethal bombing campaign’ as if there were any other type than ‘lethal’. And he referred to the jihadists’ war against the Syrian government as ‘the Syrian revolution’ even though most of those jihadists were foreigners recruited into Syria from around the world and financed by the royal Sauds and armed and trained by the U.S. government.]

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https://www.undispatch.com/

CNN Journalist Clarissa Ward Snuck Behind the Front Lines in Syria then Briefed the Security Council About What She Saw

Mark Leon Goldberg  August 29, 2016

Clarissa Ward is an award winning journalist who has covered conflict for over a decade, mostly in the Middle East. She is now with CNN and earlier this year she and a small crew snuck into rebel held territory in Syria, including the city of Aleppo from where she filed several intense and harrowing stories.

In August, Clarissa was invited to a special meeting of the [U.N.] Security Council about the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo. We kick off discussing her Security Council briefing and latest reporting trip to Syria. …

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http://edition.cnn.com/2016/

‘There are no winners in Aleppo’

Updated 0906 GMT (1706 HKT) August 15, 2016

Source: CNN

‘This is Hell’: Clarissa Ward addresses U.N. on Syria 09:11

Editor’s note: On August 8, 2016 CNN’s Senior International Correspondent Clarissa Ward spoke at a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo. The following are her full remarks. …

The thing that has been killed in Syria that is much more difficult to rebuild than a bombed out building, is trust.

There is no trust.

No trust in the Assad regime.

No trust in ceasefires or the cessation of hostilities or humanitarian corridors.

No trust in the Russians, and no trust in you by the way, in us in the international community, who have been wringing their hands on the side lines while hospitals and bakeries and schools have been bombed, while phosphorus and cluster bombs have killed countless civilians.

The only ones who have emerged as heroes on the ground — alongside brave doctors like Dr Attar and Dr Sahloul, alongside the White Helmets [link there added by E.Z., not by Ward]are the Islamist factions, even to those who hate fundamentalism.

Even to those who see that the rebels themselves are carrying out atrocities.

And not because the people there are all terrorists but because the Islamists are the ones who have stepped in to fill the void.

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[NOTE: Ward has “No trust in the Assad regime” but has loads of trust in the jihadists, the ‘heroes’, “because the Islamists are the ones who have stepped in to fill the void” that they’ve created by trying to turn Syria’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious, secular, non-sectarian government — the only secular government in the Middle East — over to the head-choppers, who will serve the aristocracies of the U.S. and of Saudi Arabia.] 

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http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.

21 March 2017, 10:33 AM ET

Overseas Press Club Honors CNN for ‘Undercover in Syria’ Series

The Overseas Press Club of America has honored CNN’s ‘Undercover in Syria’ series with the David Kaplan Award for Best TV or video spot news reporting from abroad. They will present the award, which honors the finest international reporting, at its annual ceremony on Thursday, April 27 in New York. CNN President Jeff Zucker will be on hand to deliver the keynote address.

Reported by senior international correspondent Clarissa Ward and produced by Salma Abdelaziz, ‘Undercover in Syria’ took viewers inside rebel-held territory for an exclusive series of reports on what life was like under the bombs. CNN was the only Western media to witness the effects of Russian bombardment first hand and go inside the devastation of rebel-held Aleppo. …

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http://www.peabodyawards.com/

THE PEABODY 30: AWARD WINNERS FOR 2016

CNN: ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Undercover in Syria, Battle for Mosul (CNN)

Winner 2016 | CNN

… Clarissa Ward went undercover into northern Syria to document Russian influence on the fighting and to navigate the ongoing devastation. Graphic images of the wounded and the bloodied brings the senselessness of the fighting to the foreground, as do haunting images of young children who’ve only seen and experienced a world of airstrikes, fear, pain, and loss. … For its steadfast commitment to intrepid reporting from the battlefield and for detailing the costs and damages of a war that continues to pose a moral challenge to the rest of the world, a Peabody Award goes to CNN.

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http://www.mediaite.com/

Even as Election Dominates Cable, Bravo CNN for Critical Reporting From Syria

by J.D. Durkin | 1:38 pm, March 18th, 2016

… Major kudos are due to CNN for its recent coverage of the harrowing Syrian Civil War and the work of Clarissa Ward, the network’s Senior International Correspondent. CNN has given significant airtime and clearly devoted resources to Ward’s most recent trip to, quite literally, the frontlines of terror.  … Ward believes that this most recent trip along with her producer Salma Abdelaziz marked the first time in a year-and-a-half that any Western journalist had covered the calamitous developments on the ground. … All elements of the CNN enterprise have championed Ward’s work with prime placement, including digital and social media platforms. Ward’s Facebook Live discussion this week reached 1.7 million viewers alone.

It’s a bold and admirable programming move. … As Ward told me, the devastation for the Syrian people is far from over, and her role covering the crisis will likely continue until a specific, clear objective is reached:

“Really it comes down to one key demand,” Ward told me. “President Bashar al-Assad must step down. For the people on the ground, it’s a dealbreaker.” [My note: repeated polling throughout Syria by U.S.-and-allied polling organizations shows that over 50% of Syrians want Bashar al-Assad to remain as the President and that 82% of Syrians blame the U.S. for the tens of thousands of foreign jihadists who have invaded Syria to oust and replace him. However, those same polls also show that some areas in Syria support the jihadists and want Assad ousted. But, in any case, Ward’s assertion is rabidly false, that: “President Bashar al-Assad must step down. For the people on the ground, it’s a dealbreaker.” Furthermore, twice in one day, the Secretary General of the U.N., Ban ki-Moon, rebuked this U.S. position and he said The future of Assad must be determined by the Syrian people” and not by the U.S. or any other foreign government dictating Assad be removed from power.]

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http://www.thewrap.com/why-

Why CNN’s Clarissa Ward May Be the Biggest Badass in Cable News

“Your body responds with this surge of adrenaline, shock and fear,” the war correspondent says of getting caught in an airstrike

Brian Flood | April 10, 2016 @ 1:43 PM

CNN’s Clarissa Ward recently traveled undercover to a rebel-held area of Syria, where she witnessed 11 people die in an airstrike, but she didn’t miss a beat and reported on the chaos as it unfolded. …

Ward, filmmaker Bilal Abdul Kareem and producer Salma Abdelaziz were filming at the top of a hill when the airstrikes hit and the plume of smoke was visible in the background of her video. Instead of taking shelter, they immediately jumped in a car and headed toward the devastation. …

“It’s so shocking on a physical level. Your body responds with this surge of adrenaline, shock and fear. It all kind of collides in one,” Ward said.

For that kind of reporting, the 36-year-old Yale graduate has already won just about every journalism award out there — Peabody, Emmy, DuPont, Murrow and a Royal Television Society award with CNN’s coverage of the Paris attacks last November. In November, she will be honored with the International Center for Journalists’ Excellence in International Reporting Award. …

As Maddox said, “One of the reasons CNN hired Clarissa is because she’s an incredibly talented journalist who is committed to telling stories the world needs to know.”

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https://www.facebook.com/

Bilal Abdul Kareem

June 16 [2017] at 12:33pm ·

Piece I filmed w/CNN (Undercover in Syria) won the prestigious Overseas Press Club & Peabody awards but CNN “forgot” to mention me. High respects to CNN correspondent Clarissa Ward for mentioning me even if CNN didn’t! Alhamdo lilaah I got another award from some good hearted Syrians that’s worth more than those put together. Check it out!

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“You know, there was a piece that I did, along with other members of OG and staff, called Undercover in Syria. This was with CNN, and their correspondent Clarissa Ward, which I have big-time respect for, big-time respect, as a journalist, and as a person. Now, this Undercover in Syria — you can google it — won the prestigious Peabody Award, and it won the prestigious Overseas Press Club award, which are basically the highest awards in journalism!”

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[NOTE: The following excerpts, from AlterNet, cut down a 4,366-word news-report about Bilal Abdul Kareem, to a still lengthy 1,669 words. Though that’s long, this is a sensationally good news-report; and, even including here these 1,669 words from it, all of the 3,847 words of excerpts taken together are still significantly shorter than the entirety of that single AlterNet news-report, which is far the best and most truthful of the articles that are excerpted here:]

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http://www.alternet.org/world/

Bilal Abdul Kareem, Prominent U.S. ‘Journalist’ in Syria, Serves as Mouthpiece for Violent Extremists

A closer look at Bilal Abdul Kareem’s body of work reveals an established record of creating sectarian propaganda for extremist Syrian rebels.

By Ben Norton / AlterNet December 29, 2016, 4:54 PM GMT

During the final days of rebel control over the eastern areas of Aleppo, the Western media depended almost entirely on a handful of English-speaking, self-described activists to relay news of the situation to a captivated public. These figures served a dual purpose, acting as spokespeople for the beleaguered Syrian opposition while deflecting attention from armed insurgents dominated by extreme Islamists. Nestled among them was an American, Bilal Abdul Kareem, who may be one of the most remarkable characters of the Syrian civil war. The uncritical promotion and reflexive praise this character has received from a variety of U.S. media outlets raises serious questions about the coverage of a conflict that is often presented as a one-sided slaughter at the hands of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies. …

Abdul Kareem has helped produce a series for CNN, and has also produced reports with the U.K.’s Channel 4, the BBC and Skynews. He has written for Al Jazeera and has been featured in segments on an array of major media outlets. He even participated in a panel discussion at the [neoconservative, pro-invade-anywhere] Brookings Doha Center alongside the extremely hawkishSyria analyst Charles Lister, titled “Syria and Iraq: The Future Prospects of Jihadism.”

Yet what these media outlets and institutions have not disclosed about Abdul Kareem is that he has a long and established record of creating what is essentially propaganda for extremist groups in Syria. Abdul Kareem has conducted dozens of glowing interviews with militants from extremist groups, including Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate and its hardline allies. Worse, he appears to have expressed support for Anwar Al-Awlaki, the extremist preacher credited with inspiring multiple attacks, including the mass shooting at the Fort Hood military base. (Abdul Kareem did not respond to multiple requests for comment from AlterNet for this article.)

AlterNet reviewed scores of Abdul Kareem’s videos, and in not one did he address the atrocities any of the ultra-sectarian Islamist groups have carried out against civilians, minorities in particular. …

Not only has Abdul Kareem consistently facilitated the dissemination of his guests’ extreme views, he even gives them opportunities to call on viewers around the world to join them in their fight in Syria. …

Abdul Kareem makes it clear that he opposes democracy in Syria, claiming such a system is “alien” to the Syrian people whereas “a governing style of Islam is something that is familiar to them.” …

Abdul Kareem defends the extremist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham. … On his website, Abdul Kareem laments that the hard-line Islamist group “has been getting a bit of a bad reputation as of late for some of their political stances,” and stresses, “this Islamic revolution would not be where it is today without Ahrar Asham.”

Ahrar al-Sham has collaborated with and fought alongside Syrian al-Qaeda. It has engaged in sectarian attacks on civilians, such as the killing and kidnapping of Alawite [Shia] women and children in the village of Zara. Amnesty International also documented how Ahrar al-Sham and the Syrian franchise of al-Qaeda have destroyed churches and confiscated the homes and stolen the belongings of Christian Syrians. Christians in the major rebel-held city of Idlib reported being told they must convert or leave. …

One of the first videos Abdul Kareem released on his Facebook page is an interview with a fighter from Jabhat al-Nusra, Syria’s arm of al-Qaeda. It was filmed in early August 2015 at the frontline of fighting between the extremist group and secular, leftist Kurdish fighters. …

The first long-form interview Abdul Kareem published to his Facebook page is an August 2015 discussion with Abu Firas al-Suri, a leader of Jabhat al-Nusra. …

“Our mission is guiding the people, taking them by the hand and helping them so we all are able to achieve the supremacy of the sharia of Allah on Earth. And our mission in Syria is a part of that mission,” Abu Firas proclaimed. He added, “Our goals are not limited only to Syria, however our current battle is in Syria.”

The only criticisms Abdul Kareem levied at the al-Qaeda leader in his interview were from the perspective of those who were even more radical. “Your group now controls large territories,” Abdul Kareem noted, “but some criticize you saying that you don’t apply the Islamic Sharia.” …

Abdul Kareem also invited Abu Firas to talk about the social services al-Nusra provides to people in Syria. Abu Firas, who associated himself with al-Qaeda in the interview, said they offer medical services, education, road repair, water delivery, houses and electricity.

Although Jabhat al-Nusra is an enemy of ISIS, Abu Firas stressed on Abdul Kareem’s video program, “We didn’t initiate fighting or criticising ISIS.” He continued, “As for fighting them, we’re not keen to fight them; we’re not keen to fight anyone who’s not an obstacle facing Islam.”

“We didn’t choose to oppose ISIS militarily or even politically,” Abu Firas explained. …

Demonizing Shia Muslims

On June 17, Bilal Abdul Kareem published a high-quality animated trailer for an upcoming episode of “Face the Truth” that promised to reveal who Shia Muslims truly are. “The Syrian crisis has quickly become a sectarian war between Sunnis-Shiite-Alawites,” he claimed in his Facebook post. Abdul Kareem implied that Shia might not actually be Muslims, writing, “Are they all just Muslims fighting one another? Or do their beliefs say otherwise?”

Three days later, Abdul Kareem published a lengthy interview with the ultra-sectarian Sunni preacher Abdur Razaaq Mahdi, in a video combatively titled “Sunnis vs Shia’.” …

Mahdi deplores Alawites as “Nusayri” unbelievers. “Oh Allah, destroy the Alawites and those who ally with them from the thugs, the Shia, the Russians, the Iranians!” he proclaims in the video. “Kill them all! …

Recruiting foreign fighters

Abdul Kareem’s interview with the Syria-based Saudi warlord Abdallah al-Muhaysini might be the most disturbing instance of promoting violent extremism. …

Al-Muhaysini continued claiming, “The war in Syria or jihad in Syria, today we’re in jihad against Shia, Alawites and Khawarij.” …

“Does that mean I should leave my family and everything I studied at university?” Naturally, al-Muhaysini replied in the affirmative, insisting it is a true believer’s duty, and they will be rewarded for it.

“Read the six rewards Allah gives to the martyr and you will forget everything,” al-Muhaysini countered. …

Opposing democracy

… In an interview posted in May, Abdul Kareem gave an Islamist rebel a platform to condemn democracy and instead argue for the importance of creating a theocratic society in Syria.

“Jihad is our way and pride,” Abu Osama al-Shawkani insisted in the video. “Democracy is ungratefulness.” He added, “Secularism is not our way.”

Abdul Kareem’s guest argued that experiments at implementing democracy in Algeria and Egypt “just failed.” He even went out of his way to pit Islam, the religion of 1.7 billion people, against such a form of governance.

They “will never accept applying Islam through democracy, and the one who says that he wants democracy doesn’t understand,” al-Shawkani insisted. Democracy “is a method against Allah’s method.” Abdul Kareem concluded the interview telling al-Shawkani, “May Allah reward you, brother.”

Abdul Kareem does not hide this extreme sectarianism and opposition to democracy; these views pervade his videos and are visible on his Facebook page. But in their apparent zeal to cultivate a pro-rebel narrative, major media outlets have consistently failed to acknowledge this fact.

Media coverage

Despite his ties to extremist groups, a vast array of influential media outlets have relied on Bilal Abdul Kareem’s reporting from Aleppo, and have treated it as reputable.

CNN, for which Abdul Kareem helped produce a series of reports alongside the international correspondent Clarissa Ward, interviewed Abdul Kareem on Dec. 13 for a segment on the Syrian government’s recapture of rebel-held eastern Aleppo. CNN’s Hala Gorani described him simply as an “independent journalist,” without any other background information or context.

Abdul Kareem told Gorani, “I don’t think that anybody here is happy with the way things have turned out.” He also claimed civilians do not want to go to government-held western Aleppo. In reality, manyinterviews with former residents of eastern Aleppo who escaped to the government-controlled western side revealed that rebels shot at them. The U.N. has also said rebels obstructed civilians from leaving. …

Even left-leaning websites that traditionally criticize corporate media outlets for toeing the party line have been derelict. Truthout ran an article that cited Abdul Kareem’s castigation of Turkey and Gulf regimes, simply identifying him as a “journalist.”

The Intercept’s Murtaza Hussain likewise gave a substantial platform to Abdul Kareem back in June, applauding him for providing “a unique perspective on the conflict in Syria.” …

On the Ground News and helpers

In 2015, Abdul Kareem supplemented his interview program “Face the Truth” by launching On the Ground News, an outlet that features more traditional journalistic reports from inside rebel-held areas in Syria.

On the Ground News saw a marked increase in production quality, with videos accompanied by slick animations and graphic design. In some, Abdul Kareem could be seen seated in front of a green screen, declaring that he was broadcasting from “our studios.” Where On the Ground News gets its funding from is not clear and, as mentioned, Abdul Kareem did not respond to AlterNet’s requests. …

Applauding the Fort Hood shooter

In 2009, two years before the Syrian civil war erupted, Abdul Kareem composed a post in a Google group for expats in Dubai that endorsed an article by an extremist preacher who heroized the gunman who had just carried out a mass shooting at the Fort Hood military base in Texas. …

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In closing:

A series of three articles that I did for the Strategic Culture Foundation, and which was subsequently published together in one article at the Signs of Our Times website, describes the U.S. government’s support for Al Nusra (Al Qaeda in Syria) ever since at least 2012, America’s assisting Al Qaeda, and working with Al Qaeda’s royal Saudi, Qatari and UAE funders, to overthrow Syria’s government — using U.S.-Saudi-backed jihadists to topple and replace yet another Russia-allied head-of-state. The U.S. government is pro-jihadist because those jihadists are ‘our’ boots-on-the-ground, waging war, as ‘our’ proxies, against Russia. And, America’s ‘news’ media cheer this rampant butchery on, and even award ‘journalism’ prizes to its slickest propagandists, who pour forth on TV and at ‘journalism’ awards ceremonies, jerking tears from the gulls. This also explains how it can be that, as Gallup headlined on 19 June 2017, “George W. Bush and Barack Obama Both Popular in Retirement”. Democracy is impossible in such a country, just as it was in the novel 1984.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Russian jets hunt ISIL terrorists in east Hama, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham storms Free Syrian Army base in Idlib, executes leaders

 

Graphic: Hayat Tahrir al-Sham storms Free Syrian Army base in Idlib, executes leaders

BEIRUT, LEBANON (03:00 A.M.) – On Thursday the Al-Qaeda affilated jihadist rebel group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) stormed a base of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Idlib countryside and amid the still raging clashes executed all captives. The surprise attack by HTS targeted the base of the FSA Division 13 in the town Maart al-Numan.

The location of the town is depicted on the following map provided by syriancivilwarmap.com:

The HTS led attack came unexpected and caught the Division 13 off guard. After overrunning the latter’s base with ease the jihadist group started executing their new captives. Among FSA fighters and many officers Colonel Taiser Al-Samahi of Division 13 had also been killed, before FSA reinforcements could reach the area and started to challenge the raiding jiahdist fighters.

Throughout the clashes, civilian residents went out into the streets in protest against HTS and called on them to cease the fighting and leave the town. The jihadist group unconvinced of the proposal opened fire at the protestors thereby killing at least 10 residents of Maart al-Numan as of now.

The FSA not only caught off guard, but also overpowered by the sheer size of the jihadist fighter contingent swarming the town called on Ahrar Al-Sham and Failaq Al-Sham for help. Both groups answered the call by sending a convoy of fighters to support FSA units trying to hold the town and fight off HTS.

This new developments comes after an assassination attempt on the infamous HTS Sharia cleric Abdullah Al-Muhaysni in the night of Wednesday to Thursday this week, took place also in Idlib countryside and left the cleric wounded by gunfire. The attack was conducted by operatives of Failaq Al-Sham as the cleric passed their checkpoint.

These clashes are the preliminary climax of growing tensions and intensified infighting among the opposition groups. But not only is this combat still ongoing, it’s also likely to spread and incite further open fights across Idlib and could lead to a full-out war between the jihadist factions in the area.

The following are extremely graphic pictures of the clashes in Maart al-Numan:

Henri Feyerabend | AMN

Henri Feyerabend | AMN

Henri Feyerabend | AMN

Henri Feyerabend | AMN

In pictures: ISIS blows up Kurdish-held building in eastern Raqqa suburb

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (3:20 P.M.) – After the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) capturing the far eastern Raqqa suburb of Al-Mashalab on Tuesday, Kurdish militias are now increasingly exposed to ISIS attacks in a dangerous suburban environment previously unknown to their forces whom have dashed through rural territory heavily aided by US airstrikes.

With ISIS luring the SDF into an attritional battle, the first car bomb obliterated SDF positions in the Al-Mashalab neighborhood on Thursday, targeting a building where Kurdish militants had setup camp according to jihadist drone surveillance:

The SDF death toll due to the SVBIED could not be determined by Al-Masdar News.

Meanwhile, the US Airforce pounded downtown Raqqa throughout the day, targeting suspected ISIS positions. Incendiary sorties are now also being put to devastating effect, resulting in dozens of both combatant and civilian casualties.

مشاهد حية لقتال بين الملائكة والشياطين .. من سيحمي الشياطين؟؟

نارام سرجون

الحديث عن البطولة لايضاهي أن تراها العين .. وينحني الشعر والنثر والخطابة أمام لغة العين والبصر لأن كل الكلام ماهو الا محاولة لرسم الصورة التي لاتراها العين .. فهل تكون لوحة الجرح النازف أو الصورة الشعرية البديعة أكثر صدقا من مشهد اللحم والدم؟؟ ..

نحن للأسف ليست لدينا هوليوود اخبارية تصور معارك في الاستوديوهات كما تفعل القنوات الاميريكية لتقنعنا أن جنود المارينز مغاوير ومقاتلون شجعان وشديدو البأس وقلوبهم من فولاذ .. بالرغم من أنهم لايتقدمون الى أرض الا وتكون الطائرات القاذفة من طراز بي 52 حرثتها حرثا يسمى بالقصف السجادي يتلوه قصف بصواريخ كروز من البحر على بعد مئات الأميال بحيث يموت في تلك البقعة حتى النمل والعناكب من شدة القصف .. ومعظم الحروب الاميريكة الحديثة تخاض من الجو ومن البحر مثل ألعاب الكومبيوتر ليأتي بعد ذلك فريق التصوير والدعاية ليقوم بصنع أفلام في منتهى الدهاء عن استسلام العدو وعن موت قادته وكيف أن الجنود الأميريكيين الأبطال يقومون بمسيرات استعراضية في احد الشوارع ويطلقون النار على كل مايتحرك .. وقد تكون تلك الصور مأخوذة في استوديوهات الجزيرة التي تعتبر استوديو قاعدة العيديد في قطر التي صورت فيها كل بطولات الجيش الامريكي مع لمسة هوليوودية تشبه لمسات ستيفن سبيلبيرغ في الحديقة الجوراسية وقائمة شيندلر .. لأن مارأيناه في الحقيقة من بطولات الجيش الأمريكي كان يتلخص في قتل عائلة عبير الجنابي العراقية واغتصابها قبل اطلاق النار عليها .. ورأينا بطولاتهم وهم يلتقطون الصور مع جثث الضباط العراقيين في السجون بعد اعدامهم وقتلهم ولفهم بالأكياس السوداء .. ورأينا بطولاتهم في سجن ابو غريب حيث المرجلة على الأسرى والمعتقلين العراة ..

الاعلام الغربي والخليجي في الحرب السورية قام بشكل مثير للدهشة بالترويج لارهابيي القاعدة وصورهم على أنهم سوبرمانات خارقون وتعامل معهم كما يتعامل مع جنود المارينز .. فهم لايهزمون أبدا وتأتي طواقم الجزيرة اليهم لتفبرك لهم مشاهد بطولية أو تنصحهم بتصوير مشاهد فيها حيلة وخدع اعلامية وبطولات انسانية .. وهم انتحاريون لايهابون الموت .. وذلك من أجل تدمير ارادة المقاومة لدى الخصم .. ولكن أمام الكاميرا الحقيقية وجدنا أنهم مجرد مرتزقة .. وأنهم كانوا في مواجهة من هم أشد عنادا منهم ولايهاب الموت ..

هذه مشاهد مصورة لعمليات حية لم تخضع لمونتاج ولا تجميل ولا تصنيع ولامبالغة ولو رآها الجنود الأمريكان لخجلوا من أنفسهم وهم يمثلون عنتريات المارينز في الاستوديوهات .. المشاهد هي لجنود سوريين يقاتلون العدو أحيانا وبينهم وبينه جدار فقط .. وأحيانا فوهة البندقية على فوهة البندقية ..وترى كيف يسمع الجنود السوريون أحيانا صوت أنفاس ارهابي القاعدة على بعد خطوة أو خطوتين .. ويرونهم احيانا يفتحون في الجدار ثغرة ليطلقوا النار عليهم ..

هذه المرة عرف ارهابيو القاعدة لماذا يخسرون معاركهم .. فحظهم العاثر رمى بهم في وجه محاربي الجيش السوري والفرقة الرابعة التي لم يكن مجانين القاعدة يعتقدون أنهم سيواجهون جنودا بهذا البأس وهذه الجسارة .. حيث لاتأبههذه المرة عرف ارهابيو القاعدة لماذا يخسرون معاركهم .. فحظهم العاثر رمى بهم في وجه محاربي الجيش السوري الدبابات للانتحاريين ولصواريخ التاو ولا مضادات الدروع وتقتحم الجدران التي يختبؤون خلفها فيما يتجول الجنود بين الجدران وبينهم وبين الموت مجرد لحظة أو ثانية .. وربما يسمعون أجنحة ملائكة الموت تخفق حولهم ..

والفرقة الرابعة التي لم يكن مجانين القاعدة يعتقدون أنهم سيواجهون جنودا بهذا البأس وهذه الجسارة .. حيث لاتأبه الدبابات للانتحاريين ولصواريخ التاو ولا مضادات الدروع وتقتحم الجدران التي يختبؤون خلفها فيما يتجول الجنود بين الجدران وبينهم وبين الموت مجرد لحظة أو ثانية .. وربما يسمعون أجنحة ملائكة الموت تخفق حولهم ..

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