This is rich coming from Turkey, “Iran responsible for instability and insecurity in the Middle East”

Iran rejects ‘unconstructive’ claims by Turkish FM

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi

Iran’s Foreign Ministry has dismissed as unconstructive Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s recent anti-Iran claims, saying Turkey and certain other “delusional” countries are responsible for instability and insecurity in the Middle East.

“Those who have carried out meddlesome, illegal and illegitimate measures, supported terrorist groups and caused bloodshed and escalation of tensions and instability in the region cannot evade liability for such moves by playing a blame game,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Sunday.

They cannot free themselves from their self-imposed quagmire by leveling accusations against others, he added.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran’s regional policy has always been and will be based on maintaining the stability and security of all countries and neighbors,” the Iranian spokesperson said.

Qassemi emphasized that many fair governments and nations in the region and across the world have acknowledged such a policy pursued by Iran and welcome it.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Sunday, the Turkish foreign minister criticized what he called an Iranian “sectarian policy” aimed at undermining Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, saying, “Turkey is very much against any kind of division, religious or sectarian.”

Turkish minister’s remarks came despite the fact that his country is widely known as a staunch supporter of militants wreaking havoc in Syria, providing them with money and arms as well as free passage through Turkish soil to Syria.

USA, that great humanitarian nation, not only used depleted uranium in Syria but provided it to terrorists to use

Syria Is Plagued With Radioactive Contamination: Dr. Leuren Moret

American geoscientist and international radiation expert Leuren Moret says the whole country of Syria is plagued with radioactive contamination because the United States not only used depleted uranium weaponry, but provided it to terrorists fighting against the Syrian government.

Dr. Moret made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Friday, days after the Pentagon admitted that it used depleted uranium (DU) ammunition in Syria, the controversial weaponry that causes serious health problems among the population.

The US military fired thousands of rounds containing mutagenic weapon depleted uranium during strikes against purported Daesh (ISIL) positions in Syria in late 2015, reports said on Tuesday.

When US started using depleted uranium in Syria

A US fighter jet launches from the USS Carl Vinson on March 19, 2015. (Photo by AFP)

Dr. Moret said the use of depleted uranium ammunition is “not limited just to attacking Daesh, or ISIL, positions in Syria in late 2015. Actually, the US government, the Pentagon has used depleted uranium in Syria from the very beginning, and that would be after [President Vladimir] Putin announced Russia would be assisting the Syrian government in removing the terrorists from Syria.”

“They used it all over Syria where these battles have been, but they also armed terrorists with depleted uranium weaponry.  The whole country now, where the battles have been whether on battlefields or in urban regions, are all contaminated. And that has to be cleaned up before they rebuild the cities, parts of Damascus, almost all of Aleppo, and villages too,” she added.

According to experts, the use of depleted uranium is a war crime, a crime against humanity, and an act of genocide, because the civilian population’s exposure to depleted uranium causes genetic damage, birth defects, cancer, immune system damage, and other serious health problems.

‘US first used DU weaponry in Iraq in 1990’

“The DU was used of course in 2003 in the invasion of Iraq but it was introduced in 1990 in the Iraq invasion by President George H. W. Bush. And that’s the first time the US had used that on the battlefield anywhere,” Dr. Moret said.

“However, [then US secretary of state Henry] Kissinger gave depleted uranium weaponry in 1973, in the Yom Kippur War, to the Israelis to use against the Arabs from Egypt,” she added.

“And I had calls from Israeli women, or American women, living on kibbutzim in Israel at that time – they were American women living in Berkeley, California, where I am, and they said all the women in their families who were living on kibbutzim had breast cancer and asked me if it came from that war, and I said, ‘Yes’,” she stated.

“So Iraq has been affected since 1990, and they are using it now – the United States’ troops in Iraq are using depleted uranium weapons now.”

‘Increase in conjoined twinning in Iraq’

The parents of four-month-old conjoined twin boys Ziad and Iyad look over them as they sleep at King Abdull-Aziz hospital in Riyadh. (Photo by Reuters)

“The genetic damage to people in Iraq has been very, very extensive. I worked very closely with Iraqi doctors. I have been on tours of Japan and supported them and testified for them at press conferences all over Japan, and in other areas – Germany. We had a World Depleted Uranium Weapons Conference that was fantastic,” Dr. Moret said.

“The health effects are very well-known. I made a map. I collected data from newspapers and news sources on conjoined twinning from around the world but especially from Iraq. And conjoined twinning is when two twins are born but they are attached to each other. This has always been a rare occurrence. But it escalated in the United States during the atmospheric testing of the nuclear bombs,” she noted.

“And I saw a huge increase in conjoined twinning in Iraq, but it was occurring in the cities in Iraq where the largest battles were with the US. Other birth defects and so forth that indicate radiation damage.”

‘Baby boys disappearing in Iraq’

Dr. Moret said that the “the normal ratio is 110 baby boys are born for every 100 female babies.  And in Iraq that ratio has dropped from 110 male babies to the low seventies per one hundred female babies.”

“The US and all of its allies are using depleted uranium weapons in Iraq, but also in Syria from their first entry into the Syrian battlefield. They are absolutely lying about it. They used it and given it to all the terrorists. And they are continually resupplying it to the terrorists,” the expert said.

“Russia had used depleted uranium very, very rarely, and only in the bunker buster bombs that they had to use to destroy underground bunkers and tunnels,” she pointed out.

“US perpetrating genocide by using DU’

Baghdad on fire during “Shock and Awe” US bombing in March 2003.

“The purpose of using depleted uranium, introducing it in the year 1990 to the battlefield, was genocide, and to target not just the country where the war was going on, but also it’s surrounding neighbors,” Dr. Moret noted.

In 2003, the US military fired hundreds of thousands of rounds in densely populated areas during the invasion of Iraq, causing a sharp rise in congenital birth defects, cancer, and other serious health problems.

The Iraqi government had expressed “its deep concern over the harmful effects” of the controversial material.

A UN report on depleted uranium released in 2014 said weapons containing DU “constitute a danger to human beings and the environment” and called on the United Nations to conduct in-depth studies on their effects.

According to Iraqi doctors and many international health scientists, the use of DU weapons in Iraq caused the outbreak of diseases that were not previously seen in the country, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse.

They also argued that DU contamination was connected to the sharp rise in leukemia, renal, and anemia cases, especially among children, across the Arab country in recent years.

NGOs Fabricating Evidence Against Syria

Source

By Tim Hayward | February 18, 2017

Last week, Amnesty International published a report that was severely criticised for literally fabricating evidence to support implausible accusations against the Syrian government.[1]  The report included a project of ‘Forensic Architecture’ that served in guiding the imagination as to the horrors that might be perpetrated in a building used for torture and execution. Computerised modelling of this kind may have its uses, but it clearly has limitations when it comes to determining who may have done what in a building. A computer can only simulate on the basis of inputs. The inputs come from elsewhere, and they may or may not be reliable or appropriately detailed.[2]

This week, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced that they too have been commissioning  research in Forensic Architecture. This might seem a strange thing for an organisation of doctors to be doing.  Still, their ostensible concern is that the bombing of hospitals – something contrary to the law of war and human morality – should not go unrecorded nor, ultimately, unpunished. An added difficulty is that ‘often, the only real redress available to MSF is to publicly denounce perpetrators of bombings in the hope that the damage to their image will incite them to modify their practices.’ Denunciations may have little enough effect, particularly when even the grounds for them is uncertain. Where there is a known threat of danger to the staff running a hospital, MSF prudently does not even attempt to operate.  The organisation does sometimes offer support of some kind to medics who do work in war zones, however, like the province of Idlib in Syria.

Just over a year ago, the MSF-supported Ma’arat Al Numan hospital in Idlib province was hit by an airstrike. At the time, ‘Dr Mego Terzian, president of MSF’s French section, publicly accused the Russian-Syrian coalition of being responsible for the bombings – a conviction based on an analysis of the context, the military forces present and testimonies from Syrian civilians (some known to MSF for some time) who were at the scene.’ However, the accusation sparked ‘much heated debate within the MSF Movement. On what grounds is MSF accusing Russia and Syria? How reliable are the witness statements it is using to support its allegations?’ (See also my recent article on How We Were Misled About Syria by MSF.)

Now, MSF tells us, ‘The Forensic Architecture team has conducted an investigation based on videos and photographs circulating on social media, taken by medical personnel, activists and ordinary citizens.’

And?

‘While their investigation does not provide solid evidence, it does confirm MSF’s conviction as to the responsibility of Syrian and Russian forces in the bombing of the hospital in Ma’arat Al Numan.’

So, no evidence, and yet a confirmation of a ‘conviction’?

I think perhaps the research team promoting this new use of computerised modelling should make clear the limitations of its proper use. The recent case of Amnesty International appealing to the same source of non-evidence highlights an overreach that the researchers now risk seeming complicit in. The timing of the release of these dramatic pieces of non-evidence hardly looks accidental to any serious observer. Do the people at Forensic Architecture really want to be seen as partners in a continued drive to destabilise the Middle East?

As for MSF, and this goes for Amnesty International too, their publications on Syria sometimes read like the worst kind of tabloid journalism. Exaggerated headline claims backed up by no supporting evidence, and with crucial caveats, if included at all, tucked away where they are unlikely to register with any but the most cautious readers.

Is there something going on in the direction of those organisations that is not quite what ordinary supporters among the public believe?

[1] On the fabrication see Tony Cartalucci. The report was critically analysed by Rick Sterling as well as Moon of Alabama. The former UK Ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, who had earlier visited the prison in question, stated the report ‘would not stand scrutiny’. A former prisoner there, who remains an opponent of Assad, stated that while atrocious things certainly occurred, the scale of Amnesty’s claims was preposterous. Further critical discussions are cited here.

[2] MSF say, ‘Investigations use amateur photographs and video footage to help reconstruct the “crime scene”‘. Specifically, they add, ‘Using cartography, image analysis, and legal and architectural expertise, research agency Forensic Architecture collects and analyses images taken of a crime committed by a State to establish the facts and ascertain who was responsible.’ An obvious question concerns the difference between establishing the facts of physical changes undergone by a structure and attributing responsibility for causing them, since the latter challenge necessarily involves input of extra-architectural data.

Assad to Belgian Media: Europeans Only Follow US Master

A comment on this video from Uprooted Palestinians reads: “More sense from Assad in 3 minutes than from the West in 6 years.” I would have to concur, and I would add that Assad’s “following-the-US-master” comment would probably equally apply to Western so-called “human rights” organizations as well.

Last week I commented on a report by Amnesty International accusing the Syrian government of operating a “human slaughterhouse” at a prison near Damascus. Now comes a Human Rights Watch report alleging that the Syrians used chemical weapons in their liberation of Aleppo from terrorist control. The report, which can be found here, also implicates Russia, but relies upon information given by “journalists” from the Aleppo Media Center, the organization that produced the “boy in the ambulance” photo last year–a photo believed by some to have been staged.

The Amnesty report, published on February 7, and the HRW report, released February 13, would seem to be a one-two punch aimed at the Syrian government and coming as the Pentagon is now reportedly considering recommending that the US send “conventional ground combat forces” for the first time into Syria.

The Syrian government has responded to the HRW report in an article just published today at SANA.

***

Syria Dismisses HRW Chemical Weapons Report as Unprofessional and Non-Credible

Damascus, SANA – The Syrian government denies categorically the false allegations brought up in the report of the Human Rights Watch (HRW) that the Syrian forces and their allies used toxic substances in the operation to liberate Aleppo, an official source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry said on Wednesday.

“The fact that the Human Rights Watch organization relied on the terrorists’ media sources and on absolutely non-credible false witnesses proves the lack of credibility of the report,” the source said in a statement to SANA.

“This report comes to justify the terrorists’ defeat and the victories of the Syrian Arab Army and its allies,” the source added.

It dismissed the HRW report as “unprofessional” and “non-scientific” and based on distorting facts, stressing that the report will definitely lose ground when faced with any scientific study or legal evidence.

“The Syrian Arab Republic, which has met all its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention, strongly condemns this misleading report that came out in implementation of Western agendas before the convening of meetings in Astana and Geneva and any other meetings that might be held later on the Syrian file,” the Foreign Ministry source said.

The source reiterated Syria’s condemnation of the use of toxic chemical weapons by any part, in any place and for any reason, stressing that all these allegations will not discourage it from continuing its war against the terrorist organizations and their backers.

H. Said

New Military Alliance to Be Formed in Middle East

New Military Alliance to Be Formed in Middle East

PETER KORZUN | 17.02.2017 | WORLD

New Military Alliance to Be Formed in Middle East

Combining available information to get the whole picture, one can see the situation in the Middle East changing drastically, especially as the US strategy is reviewed and new alliances are formed.

The Trump administration is in talks with Middle East allies about forming a military alliance that would share intelligence with Israel to help counter Iran, according to several Middle Eastern officials.

The planned coalition would include countries such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain. Egypt and Jordan have longstanding peace treaties with Israel. For the Arab countries involved, the alliance would have a NATO-style mutual-defense component under which an attack on one member would be treated as an attack on all, though details are still being worked out. The US and Israel will cooperate without full-fledged membership. According to the Wall Street Journal, «one Arab diplomat suggested that the notion that the Trump administration might designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group was being floated as an incentive for Egypt to join the alliance».

US President Donald Trump has assured visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Tehran would never be able to build a nuclear weapon.

«The security challenges faced by Israel are enormous, including the threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which I’ve talked a lot about. One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen is the Iran deal», Trump told reporters at a joint news conference with Netanyahu at the White House. Reading the statement between the lines, it becomes evident that the US is ready to go much further than warnings and sanctions to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capability.

Russian Izvestia daily reported the US plans to substantially increase its military presence in Iraq. The newspaper cited its own sources in the U.S. Republican Party. The plans include a few thousand troops to arrive in Iraq in the coming months. The reinforcement will continue the policy of the Obama administration, which was gradually expanding the military presence in that country.

It was reported on February 16 that the Pentagon was developing proposals for sending an unspecified number of American military personnel into Syria, conventional ground forces which would augment the 500 combat advisers already there coordinating efforts to destroy the Islamic State (IS).

Military Times reports that multiple US Army sources indicated that about two thousand soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team may soon bolster other Army elements already in the region. Currently, about 1,800 paratroopers from the 2nd BCT are in Iraq participating in the US military’s train-and-advise mission. The 82ndAirborne Division is based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Citing an unidentified U.S. defense official, CNN indicated additional deployments could happen within weeks. Today, there are about 5,000 US troops deployed to Iraq and another 500 in Syria.

The White House indicated in January that it could task the military with establishing «safe zones» on Syrian soil. A large number of troops would be needed to defend havens, pitting them against pro-government forces as well as rival rebel groups. Without approval by UN Security Council, few nations will contribute leaving the US alone to shoulder the main burden. Hundreds of aircraft will have to be deployed to carry out the mission.

Deploying substantial forces in the Middle East risks putting the US on a slippery slope to further involvement in the war. Safe zones should not become no-fly zones to impede the operations of Russian and Syrian air forces. If the US decides to continue with the idea, it should it become an issue on the agenda for talks with Russia before any practical steps are taken to implement it.

It’s not Arab states only. Army Gen. John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, told lawmakers on February 9 that thousands more American or NATO troops are needed to break the «stalemate» between Afghan forces and the Taliban insurgent group while the IS also remains active in the nation. The general did not specify how many additional troops were needed, but did not rule out the potential for up to 30,000.

The strategy, which relied on special forces teams and intensive operations conducted by drones, may become a thing of the past, with the U.S. returning to large-scale presence.

The terrorist activities of the IS go beyond the scope of a regional problem. There are a few options here for cooperation of the military agencies and special services of Russia and the US ranging from intelligence exchange on IS to exercising influence on the countries affected by the war with the terrorist threat.

Whatever are the plans of Trump’s administration aimed at changing the Middle East strategy, the US cannot go it alone there. It needs allies, partners, and friendly pertinent actors to coordinate activities with. This shows how important it is to speed up bilateral and multilateral discussions.

It all goes to show that Russia and the US should speed up launching regular contacts to exchange opinions on the situation in the Middle East. On February 16, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford met face to face with their Russian counterparts Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Chief of General Staff General Valeriy Gerasimov in Bonn and Baku respectively. Hopefully, the first contacts will spur the process and the parties will be engaged in dialogue concerning major security issues. The volatile situation in the Middle East should be addressed without delay as part of preparations for a possible summit in Slovenia.

Syrian War Report – February 17, 2017: Turkish General Staff Believes Al-Bab Is ‘Liberated’

February 18, 2017

The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces (NDF) continued an assault against ISIS in the province of Homs, recapturing Eastern Bayarat and further advancing on Jabal Hayyal and Jabhal Thaniyat near the ISIS-held city of Palmyra. If government troops are able to take control over these hills, they will be able to set a fire control over the western outskirts of Palmyra.

Separately, government troops attacked ISIS terrorists in the area if the Jihar field northeast of the Tiyas Airbase, but were not able to make gains there yet.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), predominantly Kurdish YPG units, resized the villages of Siadun and Hasan Zayd from ISIS.

The northern Syrian town of al-Bab has been liberated from ISIS terrorists and Turkish troops are now working to clear the area from mines and explosives, the Turkish daily “Daily Sabah” reported, citing Chief of General Staff General Hulusi Akar. Probably, the Turkish chief of general staff forgot that pro-Turksih militant groups, backed up by the Turkish army, had retreated almost from all areas seized in the ISIS stronghold of al-Bab. Thus, the only side controlling al-Bab is ISIS.

Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani has allegedly visited Moscow to meet with high-ranking Russian officials, Fox News reported on Wednesday, citing sources in intelligence. Soleimani is a commander of the Quds Force, a Special Forces’ unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations. The Kremlin declined to comment on media reports about the visit of the Iranian Major General.

If Soleimani’s visit to Russia is confirmed, it would be an obvious move by the Iranian political-military leadership. The likely agenda was the involvement of the US and Turkey in the conflict, as well as combating ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria across the Middle East.

 

Turkish forces lose ground as ISIL’s counter-offensive begins in Al-Bab

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:10 P.M.) – The Islamic State (ISIS) forces struck back against the Turkish Army and their rebel allies on Friday, seizing several points from the latter inside Al-Bab City.

According to the Islamic State’s official media wing, their forces recaptured the Shehabi Farms at the northern gates of Al-Bab after a battle with the Turkish Army and their rebel allies on Friday afternoon.

With Shehabi Farms under their control, the Islamic State will now attempt to retake Aqil Hill from the Turkish Armed Forces in the Al-Bab countryside.

If ISIS is successful in their quest to recapture the Aqil Hill, then they will have reversed most of the gains made by the Turkish Armed Forces in Al-Bab.

 

Syrian War Report – February 16, 2017: Pentagon To Deploy Conventional Ground Forces To Syria?

Syrian government forces have liberated the villages of Rasm al-Kama, Rasm al-Kabir and Shuwaylekh from ISIS terrorists in the province of Aleppo. The operation was heavily supported by the Russian air power. ISIS-linked sources say that over 40 airstrikes were recently delivered in the Kuweires Airbase countryside.

The Syrian army and the National Defense Forces have reportedly liberated the Western Bayarat village from ISIS in the province of Homs. Government troops are now in about 23 km from the ISIS-held ancient city of Palmyra.

The military situation in the Eastern Ghouta region near the Syrian capital of Damascus remains tense. Clashes between the joint forces of Jaish al-Islam and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and the Syrian army have been ongoing at Nashabiyah and Hazrama.

The Pentagon is considering sending conventional ground troops, additionally to US Special Forces already operating in northern Syria. “It’s possible that you may see conventional forces hit the ground in Syria for some period of time,” one defence official told CNN on February 15. The possible deployment of ground troops are clearly linked to the ongoing campaign to isolate and to retake from ISIS the group’s self-proclaimed capital of Raqqah. The US-baсked Syrian Democratic Forces, predominantly Kurdish YPG units, have little chances to retake the city without heavy casualties and time expenditure if they even can do it without massive supplies of heavy military equipment and other weapons. These supplies will clearly deepen the rift between Washington and Ankara which sees Kurdish insurgency as a threat to its sovereignty. In turn, the Pentagon’s idea would significantly alter US military operations in Syria if approved and could put troops on the ground within weeks.

On February 16, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and Chief of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov was set to hold a meeting in Baku. The agreed agenda included discussion of the military cooperation between Russia and the US, as well as issues of prevention of incidents related to the military activities of the parties. The possible deployment of US ground troops to Syria, a military situation over al-Bab and the Kurdish-Turkish tensions were also clearly set to be a part of the agenda.

 

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Syrian Army’s Tiger Forces: History And Capabilities

The Tiger Forces are an elite unit of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). This unit specializes in offensive operations. It is one of the main battle units of the Syrian army. Acting at the most difficult parts of the front, in fact, it has not suffered a single defeat, and it has repeatedly emerged as the winner of the fiercest battles of the conflict. The Tiger Forces belong to so-called “new divisions”, which were created during the Civil War, in the age when the Syrian Army had lost combat effectiveness, having been demoralized after several years of armed hostilities. The Tiger Forces are still playing a crucial role in the war waged by the Syrian people against international terrorism and foreign intervention.

The unit of Tigers was created by colonel Suheil al-Hassan by the order of the state leadership of Syria in the autumn 2013. According to some sources, the new assault unit was funded by Rami Makhlouf, Bashar al-Assad’s cousin and prominent investor. The main body of the Tiger Forces was formed with Alawite officers from the Fourth and Eleventh Tank Divisions of the SAA. The Air Force Intelligence Directorate has also recruited and trained civilian Alawites to join this special force.

Suheil al-Hassan is the undisputed leader of the unit. Recently, he was awarded the rank of Major General. He is 46 years old. He was born in the city of Jableh on the Mediterranean coast. Suheil al-Hassan is an Alawite, and has a wife and one son. He graduated from the Syrian Arab Air Force Academy in 1991, and served in the Syrian Air Force Defense’s Special Operations Unit and in the Air Force Intelligence Service. Successful actions by the colonel and his personal courage demonstrated in Latakia and Hama province in 2013, earned him the attention of the state military-political leadership. In the autumn of the same year, he was tasked with creating a special forces unit, intended mainly for offensive operations.

From 2013 to 2014, the Tigers distinguished themselves in the East Aleppo offensive operation, liberating the city airport and the Sheikh Najjar Industrial District. In the summer of 2014, they held a series of successful operations against militant groups of Jabhat an-Nusrah in the Hama province. In the autumn of the same year, they faced terrorists from ISIS for the first time. The Tigers successfully engaged them in the area of the Shaer gas fields in the Homs province, until the march of 2015. One of the major achievements of the Tiger Forces was the liberation of the Kuweires airport in November, 2015. A small garrison of 600 soldiers spent almost three years under complete blockade by the terrorists, repulsing daily attacks of superior numbers of enemy forces. The Tigers played a crucial role in the force grouping which liberated Aleppo in the summer and autumn of 2016. It is important to keep in mind that they had to operate during a “humanitarian pause”, when the actions of strike aviation was minimized. Despite this, they managed to liberate the city from the enemy block by block. Currently, the Tigers are executing an offensive on the ISIS stronghold in the area of the city of al-Bab in Aleppo province.

The success of the Tiger Forces is largely due to the strategic talent of Suheil al-Hassan. He has unquestioned authority with his fighters and has already become a national hero of Syria. Suheil al-Hassan has proven himself not only as a successful military commander, but also as an unlikely, yet talented diplomat. According to some sources, regardless of the sector of the front where his unit was operating, he was able to establish contacts with local clans and persuade them to bring their forces, including military units, to fight against the common enemy. It is also important to note that in the environment where the centralized combat logistics system of the Syrian Arab Army has actually been destroyed, the fighting units often have to provide themselves with the necessary resources required in their area of operations. In order to accomplish this, they try to gather support of local leaders.

Despite the fact that in the information bulletins the Tiger Force is referred to as a “division”, only about 1,000 soldiers are fighting with the unit. Therefore, in actuality, the unit is a special forces battalion. Accurate information about the structure of the Tiger Forces is unknown. It is known that they contain the Cheetah Forces, commanded by Colonel Shadi Isma’el. Cheetahs “Team 6″ took part in the liberation of Kuweires airport, and “Team 3″ participated in the encirclement of the ISIS forces in the east of Aleppo. The Tiger Forces also include the Panther Forces, commanded by Ali Shaheen. The division was involved in the Palmyra offensive (March 2016).

The Tiger Forces use the same weapons as the majority of the SAA; however, they are issued on a priority basis with the most modern weaponry being supplied by Russia. In the summer of 2016 during the offensive in Aleppo, the Tigers were fighting using Russian T-90 tanks. In a number of photos taken of the AK-74M assault rifles of the unit’s fighters, 1P87 collimator sights, which are included in the Russian “future soldier” infantry combat system “Ratnik”, are clearly identifiable. Also, during the fighting in the area of Deir Hafer Plains in Aleppo province, the Tigers used one Russian armored vehicle “Rys LMV”.

Tiger Forces are on a priority basis, provided with artillery and air support of the Syrian Arab Army, as well as of the Russian Aerospace Forces. Military commanders understand that the Tigers are always located at the most critical sectors of the front, and that the successful outcome of major operations often depends on them.

It is important to note that the Tigers have demonstrated the ability to learn various tactical innovations quite rapidly. They also successfully execute them. For example, in the Homs province they brought forward assault groups to the front line of the enemy, attacked it in a massive stroke, and then retreated quickly and without battle losses. Harassing the enemy in such a way, the Tigers succeeded not only in seizing the initiative, breaking the enemy’s offensives, but they also forced the jihadists to leave their positions. Tiger Forces were among the first government forces to use special tactics against car bombings (jihadmobils), exposing their observation posts, which were equipped with antitank weapons. It is known that the Tigers maintain active contacts with Russian military advisers. Therefore, we can be sure that the special forces will continue to improve their understanding and execution of battle tactics, including the use of new weapons.

Despite the fact that the Tiger Forces have successfully conducted a large number of operations, their creation is not an indication of the strength of the Syrian state, or the army, but actually a sign of weakness. In 2013, the Syrian army was torn apart by ethnic and religious tensions after the mass desertion of a large part of the personnel, and actually lost a high degree of fighting capacity. Along with the Desert Falcons, which were created as the PMC for the protection of oil and gas fields, the Tiger Forces retain a large degree of autonomy from the central authorities. The financing of such paramilitary units is carried out either by the local population or by influential individuals. This often leads to the instability of such combat units. In practice, as we know, the highest efficiency is demonstrated by units formed along ethnic and religious lines. It is obvious that such a principle of formation of these units allows them to stay motivated. This in turn, also improves the morale of the staff. For Alawites, members of the Republican Guard, Desert Falcons and Tiger Forces, a victory in the war is a survival factor of their community. That is why these units are fighting so desperately. This also applies to the Shiite units and the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Naturally, there are significant disadvantages to this system. For example, sometimes such units have low mobility. They are frequently attached to their territory of traditional residence. It is known that in Aleppo, Kurdish units even refused to fight in neighboring blocks that they did not view as their historical community.

In many regards, despite the fact that the terrorists and the opposition are fighting a mixed army of allied units, in the future, after the relatively stable cessation of arms comes to pass, it will be difficult to find an equitable and stabilizing balance of power and interests, not only between the former enemies, but also between the recent allies. In such a situation, to maintain peace and ensure the country’s territorial integrity, the guarantees provided by external actors including Russia, the US, Turkey, Iran and other regional and global powers will play a critical role.

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