Syrian War Report – March 29, 2017: March 28, 2017

dvance On Jirah Military Airbase

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have recaptured the villages of Jubb Madi, Zakia, and Rasm al-Khamis ash-Sharqi from ISIS terrorists in the Deir Hafer plain in the northern province of Aleppo.

The important crossroad town of al-Mahdum is the next target of the government operation. Then, government forces will likely attempt to outflank the ISIS-held Jirah Military Airbase from the southern direction and to encircle it.

Heavy clashes continued in northern Hama with the joint militant forces attempting to capture the government stronghold of Hama.

The Ahrar al-Sham militant group announced that it had joined Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies in their military effort aimed at capturing the Syrian government-controlled city of Hama. Ahrar al-Sham is the most powerful “opposition” group which is involved in the Turkish Euphrates Shield Operation in northern Syria. This is yet another confirmation that Ankara has once again changed attitude towards the Syrian conflict.

Moderate forces have captured Tel Dakwa from ISIS units in northeastern Suweida. This is the most recent in a series of advances by ‘moderate’ militants against ISIS in the area. Earlier this week, ISIS defenses collapsed in northeastern Suweida. As a result, Syrian government forces and ‘opposition’ forces gained large areas from the terrorist group.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have recaptured the villages of Mazrat, Sahl al Khashab, and Ayed Kebir from ISIS terrorists in the province of Raqqah. SDF units also advanced on ISIS positions at Yemamah and the Ayd hill.

Meanwhile, fresh photos of armoured vehicles supplied by the United States to the SDF appeared online. This confirmed that the US continues massive deliveries of arms, munitions, and equipment to strengthen their proxy force on the ground. SDF units will likely use the vehicles during the upcoming advance on the ISIS self-proclaimed capital of Raqqah.

Syrian War Report – March 28, 2017: ISIS Retreats From Northeastern Sweida

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

On March 27th, Syrian government forces launched a military operation against the ISIS terrorist group in northeastern Sweida. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) captured Al Masiydah, Al Asfar, Al-Saqiyah, Al-Janinah, Shinwan, and other sites in the area.

Meanwhile, the Free Syrian Army and allied elements continued their own advance against ISIS terrorists in the same area, recapturing the villages of Shunwan, Beir Al Awra, Beir Al Qunyat, Rajm, Al Dawla. According to reports, a majority of ISIS militants had withdrawn from the Sweida province to Deir Ezzor and Raqqah.

In northern Hama, the SAA and the NDF took control of Maazraf and Kafr Amim from the joint militant forces led by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The sites had been controlled by Jaysh al-Izza and Abnaa al-Sham fighters that, in general, were less motivated than their counterparts from HTS. However, Jaysh al-Izza actively uses US-supplied TOW anti-tank guided missiles against the government military equipment and manpower inflicting notable damage and casualties. Intense clashes continued along the whole frontline in the area.

Rumors have been circulating that the Russian Air Force had stricken fighters of the Syrian Arab Army’s Tiger Forces near the government-held town of Qamhana in northern Hama. Allegedly, the Russian airstrikes resulted in the killing of 33 Tiger Forces members and the wounding of about 40 others. However, no photos or videos were provided from the site of the alleged airstrikes and independent local sources were not able to confirm that the incident had even taken place.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued their advance west of Raqqah, aiming to take control of the town of Tabqa. The advance on the Tabqa dam resulted in no gains because of a threat to damage this strategic facility.

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US troops, in Syria illegally, are now obstructing the fight against terrorism

Lavrov Responds to US Decision to Block Advance of Syrian Army 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented on a U.S.-led operation that has blocked the Syrian Army’s advance on Raqqa

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented on Monday about the U.S.-led operation to block the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) from marching on the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa. 

Responding to a journalist’s question about the development, Lavrov stated that Russia supports any international efforts to combat Islamic State, but warned the U.S. “to fight terror rather than gain geopolitical advantages in Syria”:

[N]umerous uninvited players [are in Syria]: the US-led air force coalition, Turkish servicemen, and commandos from the United States and a number of European countries. All of this creates a rather motley picture, but we are confident (and have advocated this for a long time) that the main criterion should be our common concern in the fight against terrorism. 

[…]

So far, coordination leaves much to be desired. We have reason to believe that our partners, including the Americans, are beginning to realise the need for remedying this situation. Let us hope that all of us will be driven by the well-understood priority to fight terror rather than gain geopolitical advantages in Syria. 

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Lavrov seems to be keeping his cards close to his chest, but it’s clear that he’s less than thrilled about Washington’s posturing around Raqqa. It could be as simple as a “lack of coordination” — but let’s be honest: There’s very likely a lot more at play here. Any attempt by Washington to prevent Syrian forces from liberating their own country from Islamic State should be seen as extremely worrying.

According to a trusted Syria expert, preventing the SAA from taking Raqqa signals that Washington is quietly preparing to “Balkanize” Syria — an analysis that we agree with.

Below is the journalist’s full question, with Lavrov’s answer:

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Question: US commandos and Kurdish forces are involved in an operation to seize important dams and an electric power station on the Euphrates River in Syria’s Raqqa Province. They sustained losses and failed to capture the biggest dam on the Euphrates, but they managed to seize a less important dam at Tabqa. What is Moscow’s attitude to this joint Kurdish-US operation in northern Syria? How does this operation tally with the aims set in Geneva?

Sergey Lavrov: Everything that helps to enhance the efficiency of the fight against terrorists, primarily ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other terrorist groups recognised as such by the UN Security Council, is in full conformity with the UN Security Council resolutions. This meets our common interests, which consist in eradicating the terrorist threat in Syria and Iraq, in the whole of that region, and all over the world.

Numerous participants in combat operations are present on the ground in Syria and in the air over Syria, including Syrians themselves – the army of the Syrian Arab Republic, the opposition, the Syrian militia army cooperating with the Government army, the Kurdish militia that wants to defend its rights in Kurdish-populated areas – Russia’s Aerospace Forces, Russian military police, and Russian experts invited by the Syrian Government to help them to fight terrorism. There are also Syria-invited Iranian forces, Hezbollah, as well as numerous uninvited players: the US-led air force coalition, Turkish servicemen, and commandos from the United States and a number of European countries. All of this creates a rather motley picture, but we are confident (and have advocated this for a long time) that the main criterion should be our common concern in the fight against terrorism.

Addressing the UN General Assembly in September 2015, President Vladimir Putin suggested forming a united universal international antiterrorist front. Today this principle is as relevant as never before in Syria. To reiterate: We want both those invited by the legitimate Syrian Government and those who are in Syria without its invitation but have declared that their aim is fighting terrorism to start coordinating their actions. This includes coordination with the Syrian Government.

We tried to develop this approach during the Obama administration, with Secretary of State John Kerry; we invited military experts and reconnaissance experts. We came to terms on how to separate in practice the patriotic armed opposition from terrorist forces. Regrettably, the United States was unable to implement the agreement reached with the consent of President Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama. And now we have what we have.

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Again we have to go back to this principle. We are trying to help to establish this cooperation in Astana; jointly with our Turkish and Iranian partners we are helping to develop practical approaches to separating the normal opposition from terrorists and bandits. We see through this prism the developments involving the Kurdish forces and the American commandos as well as the developments related to the liberation of approaches to the terrorist capital of Syria, Raqqa. So far, coordination leaves much to be desired. We have reason to believe that our partners, including the Americans, are beginning to realise the need for remedying this situation. Let us hope that all of us will be driven by the well-understood priority to fight terror rather than gain geopolitical advantages in Syria

The most important summit is between Rohani and Putin قمّة القمم بين روحاني وبوتين

The most important summit is between Rohani and Putin

Written by Nasser Kandil,

مارس 29, 2017

Within months after Moscow Meeting which brought together Russia, Turkey, and Iran after the liberation of Aleppo which was the outcome of the Syrian-Russian-Iranian cooperation with the resistance the region especially Syria has witnessed a series of developments closer to the major tests of the major choices in a way that focus on the issues which the decision –maker needs before putting the record straight.

The new US President who has waged his electoral campaign has been tested under the titles of the war on ISIS and the cooperation with Russia. It seemed away from explaining the reasons that when the anticipated cooperation with Trump’s administration takes place, it would be conditional on the two equations of the balances of the ruling forces in Syria in favor of Russia and its allies on one hand, and the controls which will be put by the decision-maker of the US field in the Pentagon and the intelligence on the other hand. It became fixed that the hesitation and the confusion will characterize the situation of the new US administration, as well as the inability to proceed with a smooth cooperation with Russia as was suggested in the slogans of the electoral campaign, but the cooperation with Russia is no longer possible but to be a bitter indispensable fait accompli till it becomes available in politics. The decision-makers centers are controlled with the Russophobia, they try to behold this cooperation despite it is a US need conditions that are not accepted by Russia as having a role for Israel in the security of Syria, resizing the relationship with Iran, and weakening Hezbollah.

The possibilities of the strategic cooperation with Turkey have been tested in the light of their bad bet on the military option, as was seemed through the Turkish preparation by apologizing from Russia and the seeking to restore the relation with it, in addition to depend on the option of the Russian-Turkish-Iranian cooperation after the liberation of Aleppo to make a new political path in Syria starting from Astana path and away from the fate of the Turks. The tests showed that there were no strategic shifts in the Turkish performance despite the succession of the disappointments from the battle of Al Bab which did not achieve its goal through the US barter that paves the way for the Turks to enter Manbej and Raqqa in exchange of having control on the Kurds or through what they are doing by disrupting the path of Astana and driving the affiliated factions of them to a crazy war behind Al Nusra front, and within Saudi-Israeli considerations.

Israel which hides behind the US policies and the Saudi Turkish alliances has lived the test of respecting the controls and the red lines with Russia, it seemed absurd, ready to take an adventure, infiltrating behind the US aircraft which attack Al-Qaeda sites in the western of Aleppo to target sites of the Syrian army in Palmyra in order to delay the arrival of the Syrian army to the banks of the Euphrates and to give a push to the leaders of the collapsed armed groups to tell them that you are not alone, exactly as the US raid on Deir Al Zour which targeted sensitive sites of the Syrian army. Simply Israel neither took into account the symbolism of that raid, knowing that the Prime Minister of its government has already ended his visit to Moscow, nor it took into account what he has heard from the Russian President, so this put the Syrian Israeli confrontation on the brink of war.

Saudi Arabia did not receive the messages of Moscow and Tehran to proceed to the dialogue and the political solutions, it is still supporting Al Nusra front and betting on the manipulation with the Syrian balances. Despite the warnings of the dire consequences it proceeds in the war of destruction in Yemen, it engages into stupid bets to encourage Washington to take more adventures, furthermore it ignored the messages of Moscow through Cairo and Amman about the call to normalize the official Arab relationship through the Arab League with Syria in order to reserve an Arab seat in the next Syrian settlement.

The strategic conclusion which will be on the table of the first international leader and the first regional leader  is that the arena is not ready yet for the settlements on one hand, and on the other hand what has been achieved through the battles and the victories and the deterrent military presence in Syria are not enough to achieve the needed level of rationality from the international and the regional players to make needed controls, and that there must be a military deterrence presence in the field to wage a new test to discover the readiness for the serious political engagement.

It is a coincidence that this anticipated summit has been preceded by summits, but the Russian President has met the Turkish President and the Head of the occupation government in order that the Russian-Iranian summit will be the best summit.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

قمّة القمم بين روحاني وبوتين

مارس 28, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– خلال شهور أعقبت لقاء موسكو الذي جمع روسيا وتركيا وإيران في أعقاب تحرير حلب الذي كان ثمرة التعاون السوري الروسي الإيراني مع المقاومة، شهدت المنطقة وخصوصاً سورية مجموعة تطورات أقرب للاختبارات الكبرى للخيارات الكبرى، بحيث تشكل إضاءة على المسائل التي يحتاج صاحب القرار استكشافها قبل وضع النقاط على الحروف.

– جرى اختبار الرئيس الأميركي الجديد الذي خاض حملته الانتخابية تحت عناوين الحرب على داعش والتعاون مع روسيا، حيث ظهر، بعيداً عن تفسير الأسباب، أنّ التعاون المرتقب مع إدارة ترامب حين حدوثه سيكون مشروطاً بمعادلتي موازين القوى الحاكمة في سورية لصالح روسيا وحلفائها من جهة، والضوابط التي سيضعها الممسكون بالقرار الميداني الأميركي في البنتاغون والمخابرات، من جهة أخرى، فقد صار ثابتاً أنّ التردّد والارتباك يطبعان وضع الإدارة الأميركية الجديدة، والعجز عن المضيّ قدماً في تعاون سلس مع روسيا كما كان الإيحاء في شعارات الحملة الانتخابية، بل إنّ التعاون مع روسيا لم يعُد ممكناً إلا بصفته كأساً مرّة يفرضها الواقع وتبدو لا غنى عنها، حتى تصير واردة في السياسة، ومراكز صنع القرار محكومة بالروسيا فوبيا، وتحاول تحميل هذا التعاون رغم ظهوره حاجة أميركية، شروطاً لا يمكن قبولها من جانب روسيا كمثل انتزاع دور لـ«إسرائيل في أمن سورية، وتحجيم العلاقة مع إيران وإضعاف حزب الله.

– جرى اختبار فرص التعاون الاستراتيجي مع تركيا في ضوء تجربتها المرّة بالرهان على الخيار العسكري، كما بدا الأمر بالتمهيد التركي عبر الاعتذار من روسيا والسعي لترميم العلاقة معها، وما تكرّس بعد تحرير حلب من تموضع على خيار التعاون الروسي التركي الإيراني لصناعة مسار سياسي جديد في سورية، انطلاقاً من مسار أستانة، وبعيداً عن المآل الذي سينتهي إليه الأتراك، فقد أوضحت الاختبارات أن لا تحوّلات استراتيجية في الأداء التركي، رغم تعاقب الخيبات، من معركة الباب العدمية التي لم تحقق هدفها بمقايضة أميركية تفسح المجال للأتراك بدخول منبج والرقة، وتقديم رأس الأكراد لهم هدية، أو بما يفعلونه عبر تعطيل مسار أستانة وأخذ الفصائل التابعة لهم في حرب مجنونة وراء جبهة النصرة ضمن حسابات سعودية إسرائيلية .

– إسرائيل اللاعب الواقف وراء الستار في السياسات الأميركية والتحالفات السعودية والتركية، هي الأخرى عاشت روسيا معها اختبار احترام الضوابط والخطوط الحمراء، وبدت عبثية مستهترة، مستعدّة للعب على حافة الهاوية، تتسلل وراء الطائرات الأميركية التي تغير على موقع للقاعدة غرب حلب لتضرب مواقع للجيش السوري في تدمر، لتأخير وصول الجيش السوري إلى ضفاف الفرات، وترفع معنويات قادة الجماعات المسلحة المنهارة لتقول لهم لستم وحدكم، تماماً كالغارة الأميركية على دير الزور التي استهدفت مواقع حساسة للجيش السوري. وببساطة لم تقم إسرائيل حساباً لرمزية الغارة وقد أنهى رئيس حكومتها زيارة لموسكو للتوّ، ولا لما سمعه من الرئيس الروسي، ما وضع المواجهة السورية الإسرائيلية على شفا حرب.

– السعودية هي الأخرى لم تتلقف رسائل موسكو وطهران للحوار والسير بالحلول السياسية، ولا تزال تدعم جبهة النصرة وتراهن على التلاعب بالتوازنات السورية، وتمضي رغم التحذيرات من العواقب الوخيمة في حرب التدمير في اليمن، وتخوض رهانات خرقاء على تشجيع واشنطن لخوض المزيد من المغامرات، وقد ضربت عرض الحائط برسائل موسكو عبر القاهرة وعمّان حول الدعوة لتطبيع العلاقة العربية الرسمية عبر الجامعة العربية مع سورية، لحجز مقعد عربي في التسوية السورية المقبلة.

– الخلاصة الاستراتيجية التي ستكون على طاولة الزعيمين الدولي الأول والإقليمي الأول، هي أنّ الساحة ليست ناضجة بعد للتسويات من جهة، ومن جهة مقابلة فإنّ ما قدّمته المعارك والانتصارات المحققة، والحضور العسكري الرادع في سورية ليس كافياً لبلوغ منسوب العقلانية المطلوب من اللاعبين الدوليين والإقليميين لصناعة الضوابط والكوابح المطلوبة، وأن جرعة ردع عسكرية وازنة لا بدّ منها في الميدان لخوض اختبار جديد بعدها لاستكشاف مدى الجهوزية للانخراط السياسي الجدّي.

– ليست صدفة القمم التي سبقت هذه القمة المرتقبة، وقد التقى الرئيس الروسي بكلّ من الرئيس التركي ورئيس حكومة الاحتلال، لتكون القمة الروسية الإيرانية قمة القمم.

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Geneva and the negotiation on the item of the terrorism جنيف والتفاوض على بند الإرهاب

Geneva and the negotiation on the item of the terrorism

مارس 27, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Formally, the conflict between the Syrian country and the opposition revolves about describing the war in Syria as a necessary entry to determine the destination, the task, and the priorities of the political solution, whether it is a civil conflict about the identity of the regime or a war on terrorism. Just for that the opposition which is supported by an international regional camp puts the priority of the negotiation on the item of the political transition, while the Syrian country along with its allies put the priority of the negotiation on the item of the terrorism.

The negotiation does not resolve the conflict, but it translates its balances which are determined by the field as long as we are in a state of war. The round which was formed by Aleppo’s battles made out of the position of the country the strongest, and granted its concept more of power. It succeeded in imposing the item of the terrorism in the previous round of Geneva despite the ignorance of the UN envoy in his three suggested items for the war on terrorism as a negotiating item, and because the negotiating delegations which are against the country try to enter the new round of negotiation in order to improve their opportunities and cards so the escalation was one of the functions witnessed by Syria.

Due to the situation in the field the Syrian country seems satisfied to discuss the events in the negotiating round, therefore, the Syrian military resolving seems postponed for after Geneva, being sufficient with the response as needed during the negotiations. The battles and the attacks are waged by Al Nusra front which is classified according to the regulations of the United Nations as terrorist organizations. The mission of the negotiation is not to define organizations and to exclude others, however only to measure their relation with the terrorism classified by the UN, and the work according the descriptions of the United Nations and its classifications. The opposing delegation will be not affect neither the American nor the Israeli if it puts the name of Hezbollah or if it talks a lot about Iran, since among the involved forces in the fight in Syria there are ISIS and Al Nusra which were classified as terrorists. The outstanding issue of negotiation is the issue of Al Nusra despite the claim of every one of separating their relation with it.

Geneva and the coincidence with the escalation which is led publicly by Al Nusra is a precious opportunity for the Syrian negotiator to put his attitude toward Al Nusra at the very moment and in a clear language according to who is with it and who is against it starting from the UN envoy and ending with the negotiating delegations, those who consider the war of Al Nusra front from Jobar to Hama terrorist acts and the participation in them is an announcement of the joining to the terrorism’s camp, and those who are opposite to that, because the negotiations based on the resolution 2254 which calls to fight Al Nusra as a terrorist organization.

The acceptance and the refusal of the negotiating delegation in the name of the opposition to condemn the attacks of Al Nusra is a political diplomatic victory to Syria, and because the refusal is probable, so the operator is one and the fate is one, there will be the suspension of the negotiations, because the party which must be negotiated with is a part of the terrorism camp. Therefore, the Syrian negotiating delegation will be called to say the word of Al Nusra repeatedly with every sentence who is with Al Nusra and who is against it, we will hear it dozens of times in media, in the statements, and on the table of negotiations, De Mistura will be obliged to announce the condemnation of the attacks which are waged by Al Nusra front, and to confuse those whom he incited to escalate, since he knows that they cannot do anything without Al Nusra.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

جنيف والتفاوض على بند الإرهاب

مارس 24, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– من زاوية الشكل يدور الصراع بين الدولة السورية والمعارضة على توصيف الحرب في سورية كمدخل ضروري لتحديد وجهة ومهمة وأولويات الحل السياسي، فإن كان صراعاً أهلياً حول هوية نظام الحكم فشيء وإن كان حرباً مع الإرهاب فشيء آخر، ولذلك تضع المعارضة التي يقف وراءها معكسر دولي إقليمي أولوية التفاوض لبند الانتقال السايسي، وتضع الدولة ومعها حلفاؤها أولوية التفاوض لبند الإرهاب.

– التفاوض لا يحسم الصراع بل يترجم موازينه التي يحددها الميدان طالما نحن في حرب، والجولة التي شكلتها معارك حلب جعلت موقع الدولة هو الأقوى، ومنحت لمفهومها مزيداً من القوة، فنجحت بفرض بند الإرهاب في الجولة السابقة من جنيف، رغماً عن أنف وتجاهل المبعوث الأممي في بنوده الثلاثة المقترحة للحرب على الإرهاب كبند تفاوضي، ولأنّ الوفود المفاوضة بوجه الدولة تسعى لدخول الجولة الجديدة من التفاوض بما يتيح لها تحسين فرصها وأوراقها الذي كان إحدى وظائف التصعيد الذي تشهده سورية.

– تبدو الدولة السورية مرتاحة لتصدّر الأحداث التي يشهدها الميدان للجولة التفاوضية، ولذلك يبدو الحسم العسكري السوري مؤجلاً لما بعد جنيف، مع الاكتفاء بالصدّ والردّ، حسب الحاجة أثناء المفاوضات، فالمعارك والهجمات تخوضها جبهة النصرة التي تصنّف وفقاً للوائح الأمم المتحدة كتنظيم إرهابي، وليس من مهمة التفاوض تعريف تنظيمات واستثناء أخرى إلا بقياس علاقتها بالإرهاب المصنف أممياً، والعمل وفقاً لتوصيفات الأمم المتحدة وتصنيفاتها، فلن يفيد الوفد المعارض الزجّ باسم حزب الله، أو الإكثار من الحديث عن إيران لدغدغة الأميركي و«الإسرائيلي»، فبين القوى المنخرطة بالقتال في سورية داعش والنصرة المصنفان إرهابيين، والقضية العالقة للتفاوض هي قضية النصرة، رغم ادّعاء الجميع بالقطع معها.

– جنيف والتزامن مع التصعيد الذي تقوده النصرة علناً فرصة ثمينة للمفاوض السوري لوضع الموقف من النصرة في هذه اللحظة بالذات، وبلغة واضحة، مَن معها ومَن ضدّها، بدءاً من المبعوث الأممي وانتهاء بالوفود المفاوضة، مَن يعتبر حرب النصرة من جوبر إلى حماة أفعالاً إرهابية والمشاركة فيها إعلان انضمام لمعسكر الإرهاب، ومن يعتبرها خلاف ذلك، لأنّ المفاوضات قائمة على أساس القرار 2254 الذي يدعو لمحاربة النصرة بالاسم كتنظيم إرهابي.

– قبول ورفض الوفد المفاوض باسم المعارضة لإدانة هجمات النصرة انتصار سياسي دبلوماسي لسورية، ولأن الرفض هو المرجّح فالمشغّل واحد والمرجع واحد والمصير واحد، فسيكون تعليق المفاوضات لأنّ المطلوب مفاوضته هو جزء من معسكر الإرهاب، وسيكون الوفد السوري المفاوض مدعواً لتكرار كلمة النصرة مراراً مع كل جملة، مَن منكم مع النصرة ومَن ضدها، سنسمعها عشرات المرات في الإعلام وفي البيانات وفوق طاولة المفاوضات، وسيضطر دي ميستورا لأن يعلن إدانة الهجمات التي تشنّها جبهة النصرة، ويربك الذين حرّضهم على التصعيد وهو يعلم أن لا حول لهم ولا قوة إلا بالنصرة.

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US Forces Block Syrian Army Advance in Preparation For Syria Partition

A U.S.-backed operation near Raqqa aims to “block any advance by Syrian government forces from the west”. The Balkanization of Syria begins

Global Research, March 27, 2017
Russia Insider 27 March 2017
Syrian-Rebels-US-Army-Training

The road to Raqqa is now blocked by U.S. forces and their allies. The chances that Raqqa (and the surrounding region) will be returned to Syria are now slim to none. Foreign armies and their proxies are sharpening their carving knives.

U.S. Special Forces and Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters have just captured a “strategic air base” from Islamic State in northern Syria; in doing so, they have also “blocked” the advance of the Syrian Army as it approaches Raqqa from the west:

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Sunday that they captured the Tabqa air base, 45km west of Raqqa, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group’s de facto capital in Syria.

Earlier this week, US forces airlifted SDF fighters behind ISIL lines to allow them to launch the Tabqa assault, and on Friday the alliance reached one of the dam’s entrances.

SDF forces were within 10km of Raqqa from the north, and aimed to effectively surround the city before launching an assault.

But as RFE/RL quietly notes:

Besides recapturing the dam, SDF said the U.S.-backed operation also aimed to block any advance by Syrian government forces from the west.

The landing forces airdropped into Syria seized four small villages in the area west of Tabqa and cut a main highway that links the provinces of Raqqa, Deir al-Zor, and Aleppo, Scrocca said.

The SDF cut the last main road out of Raqqa earlier this month, narrowing in on the city from the north, east, and west.

The only way in or out of Raqqa now is over the Euphrates River that borders the city to the south.

Incredible, isn’t it? A foreign army that is illegally operating in a sovereign nation can just march in and cut off the legitimate army of said sovereign nation from liberating its own city from terrorists.

What a world — and so much for international law.

It will be interesting to see Moscow’s reaction. Was this always part of the “deal” in Syria? Or is Washington hoping that Syria, Iran and Russia will accept Raqqa’s U.S.-ordained fate?

Stay tuned.

In the last quarter: Bin Salman and Netanyahu are the leaders of Al Nusra publicly في الربع الأخير: بن سلمان ونتنياهو قادة النصرة علناً

In the last quarter: Bin Salman and Netanyahu are the leaders of Al Nusra publicly

Written by Nasser Kandil,

مارس 27, 2017

Throughout the past six years the Turks were the most present on the arena of the Syrian war among their allies including the countries that ignite that war for which there were facades that hide faces and reveal other faces. The American who does not appear but only when the title of the war on terrorism became an appropriate umbrella, preserves for himself a well-considered role that is open on escalation and the settlements together since he withdrew his fleets from the Mediterranean Sea, dismissing of getting involved in a war that he knows when it starts but he does not know when it will end,  leaving his allies As Israel And Saudi Arabia which have interest in waging the war according to an existential equation, and in manipulating as Turkey in order to dedicate the positive outcome of all of them into his account while putting the negative outcome for each one of them on its own account as a debt, therefore the American hides behind the Turkish Saudi Israeli tripartite.

This tripartite which brought Al-Qaeda organization in its two versions, distributed it on the fronts, funded, armed, controlled its movement, feared its coup, and wants to use it, knows that the dealing with Al-Qaeda is unprofitable in politics even if it considered it its only investment in the field with fragile Syrian opposition that cannot withstand in the warfare in front of the Syrian army and its allies, it made of Al-Qaeda a mask that it hides behind and it made for Al-Qaeda a mask in order to hide the opposition. One of the signs of entering in the last quarter of the war is that the big players have participated directly in the battlefield because the masks were fallen and the battle is delicate where there is no place for a mistake, and there is no bet on the secondary players in the big considerations. Al-Qaeda which was hidden behind the formations of the opposition by the operators has become publicly the party which fights. Now the battles of Daraa, Qaboun, and Jobar in the northern of Damascus are announced through formal statements by Al Nusra front and Alrahman corps. In contrast now Israel is bombing publicly sites that belong to the Syrian army and its allies in the eastern of Palmyra after the fall of the lie of destroying missiles convoys there.

The Israeli military movement wants to obstruct the Syrian army from having control on the southern bank of the Euphrates River, which half of its northern bank is under the control of ISIS and the other half is anticipated by ISIS, the Kurds, and he Syrian army from the direction of Hasaka, and Dei Al Zour . The goal of the Israeli obstruction by hitting the front of the Syrian army which reached to the Euphrates is to grant time in order to meet the groups of the opposition  that were trained by Israel and which enter from the Jordanian , Syrian, and Iraqi borders, they were already tested by the Americans in Tanaf battles on the Syrian-Iraqi borders but they failed. It is supposed that they reach across the Desert to the Euphrates River and meet the Kurds from Hasaka under US orders. Therefore the Syrian army will not be able to reach Deir Al Zour through this connection from Tanaf to Euphrates due to the presence of the groups led by the Americans and the Israelis; they try to overthrow the equation of the triangle which was achieved by the Syrian army between Tadef, Palmyra, and Deir Al Zour.

The Israeli failure due to the Syrian stunning response and its level which made the confrontation at a higher strategic level than the expectations of the leaders of the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, in addition to the Russian reaction toward the Israeli raids have put the Israeli movement in a narrow position that raises the degree of challenge and puts the Russian-US relationship in a test that prevents any opportunity for any Israeli forthcoming role in the Syrian airspace. America has enabled Israel to implement the task and has given it the keys to enter to the Syrian airspace by following its jets at the same timing of the US raid in the western of Aleppo on the sites of Al-Qaeda organization. The point is that what has been started for tactic service for a party of a war in which Israel entered has become at the level of determining the presence of the Israeli in the Syrian equation, so this provokes the Saudi intervention directly and thus Al Nusra front ignited the confrontations in Damascus to prevent the Israeli hesitation and to ensure the ability to move and to prove that the American is capable of changing the equations to continue what the Israeli has done from the position of the partner in the field, moreover  to convince the American during the visit of Mohammed Bin Salman to Washington to grant time to the Saudi and the Israeli bilateral to lead the war of the southern of Syria against the Syrian country and its allies and away from the equations of the cooperation with the Russians and the equations of the agreement and the disagreement with the Turks in the northern of Syria.

The symbols of the Saudi media and the leaders of the negotiating delegation of Riyadh’s group do not hide that the bombing has been carried out by Al Nusra and that the force of Alrahman corps is leading the fight on the other front, and that the opposition is just for the talk. They do not hide that the timing of the explosion is related to the seeking to prevent the Syrian army from reaping the fruits of the war missile with the Israeli.

The confrontation is public; Israel versus Syria face-to-face and the rest are secondary players.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

في الربع الأخير: بن سلمان ونتنياهو قادة النصرة علناً

ناصر قنديل

مارس 20, 2017

– طوال سنوات ست مضت كان الأتراك الأشدّ حضوراً بين حلفائهم على ساحة الحرب السورية بين الدول المشغلة والمحركة لحرب وضعت لها واجهات تخفي وجوهاً وتصير الوجوه واجهات مرة ثانية للوجوه الحقيقية. فالأميركي الذي لم يظهر إلا عندما صار عنوان الحرب على الإرهاب مظلة مناسبة، يحفظ لنفسه دوراً محسوباً ومفتوحاً على التصعيد والتسويات معاً، منذ أن سحب أساطيله من البحر المتوسط صارفاً النظر عن التورط بحرب يعلم كيف تبدأ ولا يعلم كيف تنتهي، تاركاً لحلفائه أصحاب المصلحة في خوض الحرب وفقاً لمعادلة وجودية، كما هو حال «إسرائيل» والسعودية، وللتمرجح فوق الحبال، كما هو حال تركيا، ليرصد الحاصل الإيجابي لهم جميعاً في حسابه ويدوّن الحاصل السلبي لكل منهم على حسابه الخاص ديناً عليه، فيصير الأميركي متخفياً وراء الثلاثي التركي السعودي «الإسرائيلي».

– الثلاثي الذي جلب تنظيم القاعدة بنسختيه ووزّعه على الجبهات وموّله وسلحه وأدار حركته، ويخشى انقلابه، ويريد استخدامه، يعرف أن تجارة القاعدة غير رابحة في السياسة ولو اعتبرها تجارته الوحيدة في الميدان مع معارضة سورية هزيلة وهشّة ولا تصمد ساعة في ميادين الحرب بوجه الجيش السوري وحلفائه، جعل القاعدة قناعاً يختبئ وراءه، وجعل للقاعدة قناعاً تختبئ وراءه بدورها هي واجهات المعارضة. ومن علامات الدخول في الربع الأخير لساعة الحرب إقدام اللاعبين الكبار بالنزول إلى الميدان مباشرة، لأن الأقنعة استهلكت والمعركة حساسة ولا مكان للخطأ، ولا رهان على اللاعبين الصغار في الحسابات الكبيرة. فالقاعدة التي خبأها المشغلون وراء تشكيلات المعارضة صارت علناً هي مَن يقاتل. وها هي معارك درعا والقابون وجوبر شمال دمشق تعلن ببيانات رسمية لجبهة النصرة وفيلق الرحمن، وبالمقابل ها هي إسرائيل تخرج علناً بقصف مواقع للجيش السوري وحلفائه شرق تدمر بعدما سقطت أكذوبة تدمير قوافل صواريخ هناك.

– الحركة «الإسرائيلية» العسكرية تريد إعاقة الجيش السوري عن الإمساك بالضفة الجنوبية لنهر الفرات، الذي تمسك داعش بنصف ضفته الشمالية ويجري التسابق على النصف الثاني بين داعش والأكراد والجيش السوري من جهة الحسكة ودير الزور، وهدف الإعاقة «الإسرائيلية» بضرب مقدّمة الجيش السوري الواصلة نحو الفرات منح الوقت لتلاقي جماعات دربها «الإسرائيليون» من المعارضة تدخل من الحدود الأردنية والسورية العراقية، وسبق وجرّبها الأميركيون في معارك التنف على الحدود السورية العراقية وفشلت، ويفترض أن تصل عبر البادية لنهر الفرات ويلاقيها الأكراد من الحسكة بأوامر أميركية، فيقطع طريق بلوغ دير الزور على الجيش السوري بهذا التواصل من التنف حتى الفرات لجماعات يقودها الأميركيون و«الإسرائيليون»، ويجري إسقاط معادلة المثلث الذي حققه الجيش السوري بين تادف وتدمر ودير الزور.

– الفشل «الإسرائيلي» بسبب الرد السوري الصاعق ومستواه الذي جعل المواجهة على مستوى «إستراتيجي» أعلى بكثير من توقعات قادة حكومة بنيامين نتنياهو، وردّ العفل الروسي على الغارات «الإسرائيلية»، وضعا الحركة «الإسرائيلية» في موقع تضيق خياراته، ويرفع مستوى التحدي، ويضع العلاقة الروسية الأميركية في امتحان يسقط أي فرصة لدور «إسرائيلي» مقبل في الأجواء السورية. فالأميركي هو الذي منح «الإسرائيلي» تنفيذ المهمة وسلّمه مفاتيح دخول الأجواء السورية بالسير وراء طائراته في التوقيت ذاته لغارة أميركية غرب حلب على مواقع تنظيم القاعدة، والحاصل أن ما بدأ بتخديم تكتيكي لفرع من الحرب دخله «الإسرائيلي» صار بمستوى تقرير مصير وجود «الإسرائيلي» في المعادلة السورية. فاقتضى الأمر دخول السعودي مباشرة لتقوم جبهة النصرة بتفجير المواجهات في دمشق، منعاً للتردّد «الإسرائيلي» وتأكيداً للقدرة على التحرك وتقديم الإثبات للأميركي بالقدرة على تغيير المعادلات، استكمالاً لما قام به «الإسرائيلي» من موقع الشريك في الميدان وفي إقناع الأميركي أثناء زيارة محمد بن سلمان لواشنطن لمنح الوقت للثنائي السعودي «الإسرائيلي» بقيادة حرب جنوب سورية ضد الدولة السورية وحلفائها، بعيداً عن معادلات التعاون مع الروس، ومعادلات الاتفاق والخلاف مع الأتراك، في شمال سورية.

– لا يخفي رموز الإعلام السعودي وقادة وفد التفاوض لجماعة الرياض أن التفجير قامت به النصرة وأن قوة فيلق الرحمن تقود القتال على جبهة أخرى، وأن المعارضة للكلام فقط، ولا يخفون أن توقيت التفجير يرتبط بالسعي لمنع الجيش السوري من قطف ثمار حرب الصواريخ مع «الإسرائيلي».

– اللاعبون على المكشوف واللعب على المكشوف… «إسرائيل» قبالة سورية وجهاً لوجه.. والباقي كومبارس.

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De Mistura has instigated the escalation to adjust the balance The answer will be in the field and through negotiation in Geneva دي ميستورا حرّض على التصعيد لتعديل التوازن والجواب سيكون خلال جنيف في الميدان والتفاوض

De Mistura has instigated the escalation to adjust the balance The answer will be in the field and through negotiation in Geneva

مارس 27, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The bombing of the fighting fronts in Syria does not have mere a negotiating task, it has many equations that extend from Washington to Riyadh, Tel Aviv towards Ankara. It became a war of existence for Al Nusra front which leads the war and it is followed by the participants in the negotiation in its two parts; the security part in Astana and the political part in Geneva under the command of their masters. But it is certain that the escalation witnessed by Syria through the initiative of Al Nusra front and under the political and military coverage and partnership of the participants in Geneva for the seats of the opposition will be the first present issue in Geneva.

It is not a secret that the tripartite of the UN Envoy Steffan De Mistura for the negotiation has excluded the item of terrorism, which the Syrian official delegation has instated on its adding as an essential item, as it is not a secret that the success of the Syrian delegation under the Russian support in imposing this item, in addition to its accusing participants in Geneva of terrorism and its stipulation to resolve their fate between the two camps of terrorism and its enemies in order to join the serious negotiating track has been settled strongly, as what has been achieved in Aleppo’s battles which formed a resounding defeat to the project of the war on Syria.

De Mistura colluded as far as the balances of powers allow him to serve the group of Riyadh, he tried to act without affectation on the negotiation’s items which the UN resolution 2254 has restricted them with the Syrians, through promoting formulas for the internal part as negotiating solutions that serve the anti-Syria project, so he got the objection of Damascus of welcoming him, but De Mistura was not the only advisor of Riyadh’s group and the factions of the necessity to change the balances of powers before the new round of Geneva, because their negotiating position will be difficult. He told them that “the round will witness Russian Syrian pressures to make the representatives of Cairo and Moscow platforms include a unified delegation along with the representatives of the Kurds, and the negotiation on the item of terrorism will be harsh and exhausted and that the political ceiling which the Russians want from the negotiations is a unified government under the Syrian constitution and the Syrian President”  the advice of De Mistura was the same as the Saudi seeking and the US advice after the Syrian army and the resistance had restored Al Quseir city, where the words of the Secretary of State John Kerry from Doha  were that there is no return to negotiation before adjusting the military balance.

Damascus can get the message and it has the professionalism and the skill to send the appropriate answers as refusing welcoming De Mistura, and the completion is sequent, from the treatment of De Mistura in a dull unpleasant way in Geneva through checking his every point and comma according the UN resolution and the resolution of his mandate, mission, powers, and controls as a UN employee, towards going on in the schedule by resolving the identity of the negotiators and ensure their non-relation with terrorist identities through their  positions toward the terrorist organizations which were classified by the UN,  not according to the contradictory jurisprudences of the participant parties. There is no relation but the relation with Al Nusra front; so those who fight with it and who adopt its fighting have no place in the political solution, while those who disaffirmed of its wars and bombings deserve the negotiation alone.

In the fifth round of Geneva there will be a lot of talks, conditions, statements, and speeches, but the Syrian response in the field will be capable of changing the backgrounds and to put De Mistura and the negotiators of the nominations of the opposition in front of the deadlock and the difficult choices. As the reverse attack has succeeded in the entrances of Damascus with fast resolving, the reverse attack has started in the countryside of Hama and the forthcoming hours and days will prove the answer.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

دي ميستورا حرّض على التصعيد لتعديل التوازن والجواب سيكون خلال جنيف في الميدان والتفاوض

مارس 23, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– ليس لتفجير جبهات القتال في سورية مجرد وظيفة تفاوضية وقد وضعت لها معادلات ممتدة من واشنطن إلى الرياض وتل أبيب وصولاً إلى أنقرة، وصارت حرب وجود بالنسبة لجبهة النصرة التي تقود الحرب ويلتحق بها بإمرة أسيادهم المشاركون في التفاوض، بشقيه الأمني في أستانة والسياسي في جنيف، لكن الأكيد أن التصعيد الذي تشهده سورية بمبادرة من جبهة النصرة وبتغطية وشراكة سياسية وعسكرية من المشاركين في جنيف عن مقاعد المعارضة سيكون الحاضر الأول في جنيف.

– ليس خافياً أن ثلاثية المبعوث الأممي ستيفان دي ميستورا للتفاوض استثنت بند الإرهاب الذي أصرّ الوفد السوري الرسمي على إضافته بنداً رئيسياً، كما ليس خافياً أن نجاح الوفد السوري بدعم روسي في فرض هذا البند عطفاً على اتهامه مشاركين في جنيف بالإرهاب واشتراطه حسم مصيرهم بين معسكري الإرهاب وأعدائه للانضمام إلى المسار التفاوضي الجدي، قد تمّ بقوة ما تم إنجازه في معارك حلب التي شكلت هزيمة مدوية لمشروع الحرب على سورية.

– تواطأ دي ميستورا بقدر ما تتيح موازين القوى لتخديم جماعة الرياض، وحاول التمادي على بنود التفاوض التي حصرها القرار الأممي 2254 بالسوريين، عبر ترويج صيغ للشق الداخلي من حلول تفاوضية تخدم المشروع المعادي لسورية فاستحق رفض دمشق لاستقباله، لكن دي ميستورا لم يكن الوحيد صاحب النصيحة لجماعة الرياض والفصائل بضرورة تغيير موازين القوى قبل جولة جنيف الجديدة وإلا سيكون وضعهم التفاوضي صعباً، وهو مَن قال لهم ستشهد الجولة ضغوطاً روسية سورية لضم ممثلي منصات القاهرة وموسكو لوفد موحّد ومعهم ممثلون للأكراد، وسيكون التفاوض في بند الإرهاب قاسياً ومتعباً، وسيكون السقف السياسي الذي يريد الروس أن تخرج به المفاوضات هو حكومة موحّدة في ظل الدستور السوري والرئيس السوري ، ونصيحة دي ميستورا هي المسعى السعودي والنصيحة الأميركية ذاتهما منذ استرداد الجيش السوري والمقاومة مدينة القصير وكلمة وزير الخارجية الأميركية آنذاك جون كيري من الدوحة، لا عودة للتفاوض قبل تعديل التوازن العسكري.

– دمشق ليست بعيدة عن التقاط الرسالة ولا عن حرفية ومهارة إرسال الأجوبة المناسبة، وأولها رفض استقبال دي ميستورا، والتتمة بالتتابع، من معاملة دي ميستورا بصورة باهتة وجافة في جنيف بمحاسبته على النقطة والفاصلة وفقاً للقرار الأممي وقرار تفويضه ومهمته وصلاحياته وضوابطه كموظف أممي، وسيراً بجدول الأعمال بحسم هوية المفاوضين وتأكيد عدم تشابكها بهويات إرهابية، وفقاً لمواقفها من التنظيمات الإرهابية المصنفة أممياً، وليس لاجتهادات متناقضة للأطراف المشاركة. وهنا لا توجد إلا العلاقة بجبهة النصرة، فمن يقاتل معها ومن يتبنّى قتالها لا مكان له على مائدة الحل السياسي، ومَن يتبرأ من حروبها وتفجيراتها وحده الجدير بالتفاوض.

– ستطول جولة جنيف الخامسة بكلام كثير وشروط وبيانات وخطابات، لكن الرد السوري سيكون في الميدان كفيلاً بتغيير المناخ والأجواء، ووضع دي ميستورا ومفاوضي مسميات المعارضة أمام الحائط المسدود والخيارات الصعبة، ومثلما نجح الهجوم المعاكس في مداخل دمشق بحسم سريع، فقد بدأ الهجوم المعاكس في ريف حماة والساعات والأيام المقبلة تتكفّل بالجواب.

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