Stunning Video: Scenes from Yesterday’s Bus Bombing in Syria; US Veteran Blasts Syria Policy

Posted on April 16, 2017

This is a “must see” video for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost is that it provides footage of the  aftermath of yesterday’s bus convoy attack in Syria, along with an interview with a woman who was traveling on one of the buses and who survived the bombing. Apparently the the terrorists lured children to the site where the bombs was about to go off by handing out potato chips. The woman in the video speaks of “crisps” being handed out, but according to an AP report, the treats being offered were potato chips.

As I reported yesterday, the people on the buses were evacuees from two Shia villages, Kafarya and Foua, that have been under terrorist siege for well over a year. Under a deal worked out between the government and one of the terrorist factions, the villagers were to have been allowed safe passage into government-controlled Aleppo.

You’ll also hear how even before the bombing, the people on the buses were taunted and terrorized by the “rebels,” and there is the additional information that the “rebels” littered the floor of one of the buses with potato chips and invited the children to come eat the chips off the floor while they filmed them. The people of the two villages have been under severe hardships, including food shortages, throughout the entire time the “rebels” controlled their region, so it is probably not too surprising that some of the kids were willing to eat off the floor.

The other reason I find the video remarkable is that it closes with a commentary by a US military veteran. The man isn’t identified by name in this video, but he is US Marine Corps Veteran Angelo John Gage. You can visit his Twitter page here. Gage lets it rip, blasting US policy on Syria, pointing out, correctly, that our leaders have in reality been supporting the terrorists, and asserting, also correctly, that rather than trying to overthrow the Assad government, we should be aligning with it in its fight against ISIS as Russia has done.

Syria: Evacuation Bus Blast–Numerous Killed on Aleppo Outskirts

Posted on April 15, 2017

[ Ed. note – The video above shows children being treated in an Idlib hospital today after a bus convoy was attacked by terrorists. The buses were evacuating people from the Syrian villages of Kafarya and Foua, two Shia villages in northern Syria which have been under siege for well over a year now. You can go here for background on what the people of this village have been through. The fact that they were attacked like this after finally being evacuated is especially tragic. Below is an article published today by 21st Century Wire. ]

21st Century Wire

A blast has ripped through a Syrian bus convoy on the outskirts of Aleppo today. Residents of two villages, Foua and Kefraya, were being evacuated after it a reported deal was struck between warring parties.

According to Syria state television the blast was caused by a suicide bomber in a vehicle with 39 people reportedly killed, including many children,  although these figures will be revised throughout the day. Some of the images circulating throughout social media of the aftermath are extremely graphic in nature and reader discretion is advised.

According to Arabic Asharq Al-Awsat, humanitarian workers were among those killed in the blast.

continued here

Nasser Kadil: Syria 1980-1982

Full text of the Lavrov – Tillerson press conference

April 13, 2017

Full text of the Lavrov – Tillerson press conference

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Good evening. This has been a long day. We have had talks with State Secretary of the U.S. Rex Tillerson. Right now, we have had a long conversation with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. It has lasted for more than two hours. The negotiations have proved to be substantial and very frank. They have comprised the whole gamut of issues of importance to our bilateral relations as well as our interaction in the international arena.

We have taken note of the fact of the current state of our relations, as well as the international situation as a whole, and of the most (inaudible) there are certain issues that have been inherited, so to speak, as time bombs from the previous administration, the Obama administration. We are being realistic, and we do understand that in order to overcome these obstacles we have to make efforts, and we seek to do that.

We understand that our American counterparts are going to move towards us as well, and our president reaffirmed our will to do that. We see that attempts at preventing our cooperation. There are even attempts at escalating the confrontation, but we do not believe that this is an astute approach. We do understand that if Moscow and Washington cooperate, this is for the benefit not just – just of our nation but also for the sake of the whole world.

We have reaffirmed that we both seek to fight without any compromise international terrorism. This issue has been raised by our presidents in the course of their telephone conversations, including the telephone conversation on April the 4th in the night when President Trump called President Putin in order to express his condolences on the terrorist attack that has taken place in St. Petersburg.

In the context of fighting international terrorism, we have talked about Syria, of course. We have touched up on the incident that took place after February 4th when, in the environs of Idlib in Syria, chemical weapons were used. We obviously paid a lot of attention to Syria and we obviously spent some time discussing the incident of the 4th of April, the Idlib incident (inaudible) where chemical substances were used, and then the subsequent U.S. missile strikes on the 7th of April.

We, as you know, have put our point of view on a number of points, and we have insisted that this today that we have a very thorough investigation of all that. The Russian Federation has said that what we want to do is to apply to the OPCW in Hague so that they have the full competences to initiate such an investigation, and we have drawn attention also to the letter which has been sent to Syria and the UN about the ban on chemical weapons to make sure that they give permission to the investigators to carry out an impartial, unbiased investigation in Idlib and also at the airfield which underwent the attack.

Mr. Tillerson supports this kind of investigation, and we – he said that the powers will be (inaudible) immediately in order to do that. We shall attempt in the Security Council to approve a memorandum which will not speak so much about the investigation as to try and fix and identify the culprits. We don’t want to impose any kind of line on, but we want an honest investigation of the affair.

We also very thoroughly discussed the situation with regard to our air forces with the U.S.-led coalition and the Russian forces, and we talked about the de-confliction memorandum during the operations in Syria. You know that this was halted, but President Putin confirmed our determination to put it on track again, confirming that the main aim, of course, is between these forces of the coalition and the Russian forces is to combat Jabhat al-Nusrah and other terrorist organizations and ISIL, of course.

The publicly publicized intention of both Russia and America remains in place not to interfere in the internal affairs of that country, and we trust that countries in the region should not repeat this kind of incident, particularly the countries of the Middle East. We confirmed once again our overall determination to rout ISIL. That remains in force between us, and this was today confirmed fully.

Apart from fighting terrorism in Syria and the region in general, we have a common interest to make sure that we get a political settlement of this very acute crisis in Syria. Russia over the past years have – has tried to get a compromise, has deployed many efforts in order to do so, and make sure that many of the players inside Syria and outside and get them round to the negotiating table in the context of the UN. And we confirmed that our cooperation would be to try and put this process forward.

We participated, of course, in Geneva with our American colleagues fully, but we also have the Astana platform where the U.S. took part as observers. We have to help the international organization, also are committed to try and find approaches to make sure that the Israel-Palestine issue or conflict is looked at, and Yemen as well. And I think that our joint efforts will not be useless in that respect.

We looked at the problem of Afghanistan. As you know, in the last couple of years, we have been meeting in various formats which were aimed at external assistance to Afghanistan. And one of the attempts which we have undertook will be – will come on April 14th in Moscow. This, of course, Moscow format with the participation of both Afghanistan and its neighbors, including Asian countries, and we hope very much that the U.S. representative will also be there.

We have also touched upon the crisis in Ukraine. We have a single common position, and that is that the 2015 Minsk agreement should be fulfilled, and we remembered how the previous administration of the U.S. had established a two-way channel of communication between Moscow and Washington. And we have also worked, of course, within the format of the Normandy arrangement, and we undertook to still continue contacts in that format in order to find practical ways forward to fulfill the Minsk agreements. We greet – applaud such efforts, and of course, we are fully in favor of them.

Russia and the U.S. are particularly committed to trying to find solutions to other problems and try and to avoid confrontation in Korea, the Korean peninsula, and to start a negotiation process in order to settle the question of stabilizing the Korean Peninsula through political and diplomatic efforts.

We are particularly concerned, of course, about the regional and global military-political buildup. We need negotiations about strategic reductions where we do have agreements between our two countries about that, but there has been a pause in this process for objective reasons, and that caused by the White House, and we believe that it is very important to continue to work on this arms reduction and work very businesslike – in a businesslike way, efficiently, and we agreed on that.

We mentioned the situation with regard to our economic relations and we sympathize with American business to avert the negative process at the moment and increase contacts. For both objective and subjective reasons, this has happened. We fully support the – both business communities in both countries, and we hope very much that direct contacts can be established on both sides.

One more agreement: We agreed to nominate special representatives from the MFA and the State Department so that without too much emotion we could look together at the irritants which have dogged our relations over the last couple of years, particularly under the administration of President Obama. I think that if both sides apply a pragmatic approach, this will yield results and it will go to make our relations much more healthy.

We understand that in our relations there is certain discomfort. And of course, that is vitiated by the technology progress, particularly the virtual world and cyber science. Some people are clearly abusing these possibilities provided by modern technology and trying to use them for very illegitimate political ends. And I think that both the U.S. and Russia – in those both countries, there are a number of sensible, reasonable people who can weed out the ground, and in the interests of our peoples, we can overcome this problem.

This at least is my sensation from the talks, my feeling. Despite all of the rather deep-rooted problems, and some which have been artificially created, I think there is a great potential for work in the future. We have an open and frank dialogue with the U.S. on many issues, and we have to make sure that that works and it is directed at the reciprocal interests of both countries.

We obviously hope for reciprocity from the U.S., and I’m absolutely sure that today’s meetings, the many hours we spent with Rex Tillerson together and with the president of the Russian Federation were not spent in vain. We understand each other better after what we’ve done today, and I hope very much that these contacts will be continued directly between us and also through those people who operate and other agencies of the U.S. and the Government of the Russian Federation. Thank you.

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Good evening. We just came from a productive meeting, as you heard Foreign Minister Lavrov mention, of about two hours with President Putin. We frankly discussed the current state of U.S.-Russia relations. I expressed the view that the current state of U.S.-Russia relations is at a low point and there is a low level of trust between our two countries. The world’s two foremost nuclear powers cannot have this kind of relationship. We further discussed approaches to improving our channels of communication. We had a lengthy exchange of views regarding the situation in Syria and shared perspectives on possible ways forward.

Earlier today, Foreign Minister Lavrov and I had a lengthy conversation about issues that require immediate attention and issues that require longer-term attention. We understand that improvement in the long-term relationship will be required if we are to make progress on issues where we have different views.

We spoke extensively about Syria, and in some areas we share a common view. Specifically, we both believe in a unified and stable Syria, and we agree we want to deny a safe haven for terrorists who want to attack both of our countries. We agree that North Korea has to be de-nuclearized. We agreed there needs to be more senior-level communication between our two countries, both at a diplomatic and military level.

But there is a broad range of other issues in which we have differences. Some have global implications with long-term requirements, and others are understood to be bilateral. Over the course of the past two years, a number of reciprocal actions have been taken to demonstrate the dissatisfaction each country has with the other. We need to attempt to put an end to this steady degradation, which is doing nothing to restore the trust between our two countries or to make progress on the issues of the greatest importance to both of us.

We have agreed to establish a working group to address smaller issues and make progress toward stabilizing the relationship, so that we can then address the more serious problems. Foreign Minister Lavrov and I agreed we would consider further proposals made about the way forward in Syria, including consulting with our allies and coalition members. And we will continue discussions about how to find a solution to the Syrian conflict.

We also discussed current threats posed by the North Korea’s regime – the regime’s ongoing development of their nuclear program, and the constructive role Russia can play in encouraging the regime in North Korea to change its course, so that we can create the conditions for talks regarding the future.

On Minsk, we considered the importance of the accord. Russia can make progress in implementation by de-escalating violence and taking steps to withdraw separatist armed forces and heavy weapons so that OSCE observers can fulfill their role. Until full progress is made under the Minsk Accords, the situation in Ukraine will remain an obstacle to improvement in relations between the U.S. and Russia.

I thank the foreign minister for a productive round of discussions and I look forward to future conversations. Thank you.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Colleagues, now we will go over to questions on channel Rossiya 24.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Rossiya 24. My first question is to Mr. Tillerson. We have heard from Washington not only contradictory but also aggressive statements. I mean Mr. Trump, who has called Assad an animal, and from the White House, Sean Spicer, who said that Hitler hadn’t used chemical weapons. How does that actually fit in with American diplomacy and when will the rhetoric change?

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, I think the perspective from the United States, supported by the facts that we have, are conclusive that the recent chemical weapons attack carried out in Syria was planned and it was directed and executed by Syrian regime forces, and we’re quite confident of that. This is just the latest in a series of the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, notwithstanding their use on more than 50 occasions of chlorine bombs, and cluster bombs, and other types of weapons that are intended to maim and kill in the most horrific ways. So I think the characterization is one that President Assad has brought upon himself.

MODERATOR: Josh Lederman —

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Well, I’d just like to add two words there. It is perfectly obvious that the subject – this subject is one we diverge on, inasmuch as Russia is insisting on an objective investigation. Together with the United States in 2014 were the initiators of the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria, and the record deadlines were enshrined in conventions which belong to the OPCW and the United Nations, and there are reports about chemical weapons here which record progress in eliminating all the stockpiles of chemical weapons and which also record facts to the effect that some of these stockpiles are being controlled by extremists. This process has not stopped in Damascus, and we are putting as much pressure as possible on the Syrian cabinet to cooperate in this respect, and we are committed to completing this work. And we will go to the end. We will finish it off.

There is a mission to establish the facts by the OPCW, a joint mechanism between the (inaudible) and the UN, and we have a number of questions with regard to those two bodies, because some of the communications which are going to the Syrian Government are all pivoting on distance information. And I don’t want to completely discredit the White Helmets, but this is a problem, and also the quality of testimony which exists with regard to the use of chemicals in the territory which is controlled by the opposition. On numerous occasions, the Syrian Government and the Syrian servicemen have given us absolutely incontrovertible evidence about the use of chemical weapons. This was not some kind of distance information, but information from the site.

I’d just like to say also – and I don’t want to accuse anybody here or protect anyone – we insist on an objective investigation of what happened on the 4th of April. Incidentally, this actually coincided with the convocation of a meeting in Brussels on the Syrian situation, and many participants at that meeting in the afternoon, after the Idlib crisis, started very actively and loudly proclaiming that the entire conference should be devoted only to this question, which should have been about the overall settlement of the – of Syria.

So the media hysteria which was unleashed as a result of this incident – we have to make sure that we are impartial now in investigating this whole business by sending international expert groups to the site and to that particular place where the chemicals were used, and, of course, the airfield which was used for sending out aircraft with chemical substances. We have seen no confirmation that that was the case, all the more so because the TV images showed that there were people on the airfield immediately after the strike and there were absolutely no evidence of – which would allow us to talk about the use of some kind of poisonous substances. I do apologize for such a long commentary, but I’d just like to stress here that we are absolutely 100 percent convinced that if our colleagues in the United Nations and in The Hague shirk from this investigation, then this will mean that they simply don’t want to establish the truth. And we will insist on it.

MODERATOR: Josh Lederman with the Associated Press.

QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Tillerson, I want to ask you about your conversations with President Putin about Syria. You’ve predicted that Assad will leave power through a political transition. How will you compel Assad to participate in a political transition that leads to his own ouster? Are war crimes charges on the table? And how long will the United States wait for Russia to come around?

And Foreign Minister Lavrov, if I may. Your government and the United States Government seem to be miles apart on the Syria issue, on Ukraine, and other issues. Did you feel that you cleared up any of those issues that you mentioned earlier today since you’ve had those discussions with Secretary Tillerson?

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, we did discuss at length the future role for Assad, whether it be in a future political process or not. Clearly, our view is that the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end, and they have again brought this on themselves with their conduct of the war these past few years. We discussed our view that Russia, as their closest ally in the conflict, perhaps has the best means of helping Assad recognize this reality. We do think it’s important that Assad’s departure is done in an orderly way – an orderly way – so that certain interests and constituencies that he represents feel they have been represented at the negotiating table for a political solution. How that occurs, we leave that to the process going forward. We do not think one has to occur before the other can begin. And it will take a pace of its own. But the final outcome in our view does not provide for a role for the Assad – for Assad or for the Assad family in the future governance of Syria. We do not think the international community will accept that. We do not think the world will accept that.

QUESTION: What about the war crimes charges?

SECRETARY TILLERSON: We discussed the issue that as time goes by and more and more evidence continues to be gathered, it is possible that the threshold necessary to charge individuals, including Bashar al-Assad, may be achieved. As you know, this is a very high legal hurdle in order to bring such charges against an individual. So I would not suggest to you that all of that evidence is in place, but I think the longer time goes by, it’s possible that the case will be made. And there are certain individuals who are working to make that case.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Well, as far as I’m concerned, I’d just like to say that we do not consider that we are miles apart on many questions on the agenda. Syria and Ukraine – in our introduction, we talked about the accords and the opening of channels of communication, particularly about Ukraine. As far as Syria is concerned and Bashar al-Assad, we talked today about the history, and Rex said that he was a new man and is not interested so much in history; he wants to deal with today’s problems. But the world is so constructed that unless we look at what’s happened in the past, we won’t be able to deal with the present. Particularly in a situation where a group of countries – Western countries, the NATO countries – were absolutely obsessed with eliminated – eliminating a particular dictator or totalitarian leader.

When it was a question of ousting Slobodan Milosevic, NATO unfurled a huge campaign. It was a very coarse, blatant violation of international law. They even bombed the place, which is certainly a war crime whichever way you interpret the Geneva Convention, and they bombed the headquarters. And there were also attacks on trains, the Chinese embassy, bridges, and so on and so forth. This lasted some two months, and after all this, which was very near to dual purpose – weapons of dual purpose, then they ousted him.

Then there was the question of Saddam Hussein. We know after the invasion – we know what it was based on, and then Tony Blair afterwards repented publicly that all this was a fake. And you all know about that, know worse than we do.

And then there was Qaddafi. It was declared that this dictator had no place in his own country and this was against democracy. We know what happened in Libya. The Libyan Government is now under a huge question mark. We spoke about this, or President Putin did speak about it yesterday with the Italian president, and we are both trying to stop the situation of the country slipping into full illegal immigration, gun running, and so on.

So, incidentally speaking, we have some quite recent – even more recent examples. Sudan – President Bashir was declared to be under prosecution by the International Court of Justice, and President Obama decided that in order to settle this problem, you had to divide the country up into two. And the southern part very actively asked for our assistance in dealing with President Bashir, that the Americans want to see – (inaudible) that he should be the head of the – both states. He kept his word. He divided the country into two parts according to the American project of the administration of President Obama, and with that – with the effect that sanctions were introduced against their own child, on Southern Sudan.

So this insistence on removing or ousting a dictator or totalitarian leader – we have already been through it. We very well know, only too well, what happens when you do that. I don’t remember any case of a dictator being removed smoothly, without violence. So in Syria – and I have stressed this on many times – we are not staking everything on a personality, on President Assad, as is being done in Libya at the moment. We are simply insisting that everybody sits around a table and talks about it and comes to agreement. As has been enshrined in the Security Council resolution, we want to install dialogue with all the players concerned, and we want the Syrians themselves, without any kind of exclusion, to be represented in this process.

And removing or ousting a particular personality from this scene is not on our agenda. We are talking about the whole of the Syrian Government. We want it to be democratic and we want it to be secular as well. We want to see all the ethnic confessional groups in the country to feel protected, justly represented in all the branches of government and power. And, obviously, for that you need a new constitution. We think that then the question of the fate of individuals could be dealt with and without any kind of tragic consequences for the state as a whole.

MODERATOR: Kommersant.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Thank you very much. I have a question to Mr. Tillerson. Did you discuss in today’s negotiations the intervention of Russia in the U.S. elections, and could you tell us about how the presence of Russian cybernauts differs from the question of American cybernauts in virtual space?

There is also the whole question about the Korean issue. Have you actually thought about setting up a group which would actually look at that kind of thing together?

MODERATOR: Is that a question to both ministers or what?

SECRETARY TILLERSON: We touched only briefly on the issue of cyber security, and in particular on the challenges that it is placing on everyone in terms of a new threat, an emerging threat. But I think I do make a distinction when cyber tools are used to interfere with the internal decisions among countries as to how their elections are conducted. That is one use of cyber tools. Cyber tools to disrupt weapons programs – that’s another use of the tools, and I make a distinction between those two. Clearly, this is an issue that has emerged in our time for which we have yet as an international community come to some conclusion around how we want to respond to that. And so there will be further discussions, and it is on the agenda and it is in the agenda that Foreign Minister Lavrov passed to me for us to have further discussions in the future.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: I can only confirm that we are very interested in bilateral cooperation to combat crime in the cyberspace. We have heard about that. Eighteen months ago, we actually proposed to Obama’s administration that we should do something about it. We voiced our concern about Russian hackers hacking into the entire world and the illegitimate use of these tools and the possibility for prosecuting these people, and we said there – then that we too are very interested in our citizens not being victims of cyber crimes, and we proposed that we should have a special system of contacts, a special mechanism which would exchange information in real time, looking into how people are trying to subvert international norms and national norms in both countries. The president spoke about it but really didn’t react at all. And then in November last year, it was suggested that we should meet about that, and obviously our colleagues in the relative spheres agreed, but then at the last moment Obama’s administration decided not to go ahead with it and to subvert U.S.-Russian relations before the new administration.

I just want to confirm the fact that we are particularly interested in that. We still have that project on the table. We want to renew it; we want to resume contacts with special representatives in the administration of the U.S. and the Russian Federation president’s office and engage and commit all the various authorities concerned. There may be a result from all these efforts, and we hope that we will be able to close this matter.

We haven’t actually broached this whole idea of a presidential commission. It was put on ice by Obama, but when we looked at the problems dogging the bilateral relations, we thought of looking at the independence of the organization and looked at the specific people who could help us to overcome the difficulties. And we are looking at how we can overcome these problems, above all the problems which were created artificially.

MODERATOR: Rich Edson of Fox News Channel.

QUESTION: Thank you. Secretary Tillerson, did you discuss today with President Putin or Foreign Minister Lavrov sanctions or other concessions that the United States might make in exchange for a change in behavior from the Russian Government? And also, speaking about what you just answered previously, did you present to President Putin or the foreign minister specific evidence the Russian Government interfered in the U.S. election?

And to Foreign Minister Lavrov, if an independent investigation finds the Assad government attacked his own people with chemical weapons, what will Russia do? President Putin says there’s an effort to blame Assad and plant evidence. Did you present that evidence to Secretary Tillerson today, and would Russia refuse to consider to agree to any circumstance that results in the ousting of Bashar al-Assad?

SECRETARY TILLERSON: We discussed no change in the status of sanctions that have been in place with Russia as a result of certain actions taken in Ukraine, as you know. I think as to the question of the interference with the election, that is fairly well-established in the United States and I think that has been spoken to on the Hill as well with the Congress. And it is a serious issue. It’s one that we know is serious enough to attract additional sanctions. And so we are mindful of the seriousness of that particular interference in our elections, and I’m sure that Russia is mindful of it as well.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: (Via interpreter) Well, the State Secretary did not threaten me with sanctions. He didn’t threaten me with anything, actually. We frankly discussed the questions which were on our agenda, including – including where there are problems. And in fact, on the majority of them there are problems.

And what will happen if the investigation will demonstrate the involvement of the Syrian leadership in the chemical attacks? I believe that question is hypothetical. We don’t want to try and guess the coffee (inaudible) because there has been a lot of historical looking at the tea leaves and coming to the conclusion that bombing should take place. And after the U.S. missile strike, there was a lot of talk of that.

We do not wish to speculate about these very serious matters, the use of chemical weapons, the use of – or the attempts to inculpate people or to orchestrate things. We want to establish the truth, the full truth in line with the principles of U.S. and Russian laws, the laws of any normal civilized country. The presumption of innocence must reign supreme. And I have just told you that our instructions to the Hague, to the OPCW in the Hague about the investigation, if this is – if people put the brakes on, we shall protest.

As far as the argument that the U.S. has incontrovertible evidence of the fact that we intervened in the U.S. presidential campaign, then I have to say once again that not a single fact has been confirmed. Who saw those facts, we don’t know. Nobody has shown us anything. And we have said to them, show us the evidence for these very slanderous attacks. I know that there are numerous cohorts of people who want to subvert our relations in order to hike up their political or extra-political ambitions. That is not the issue. Let us look at that, give us evidence, and we will respond.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) Ria Novosti.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Good evening. I’d like to ask a question to both ministers. The Korean Peninsula – the Americans have sent a whole naval company. Did you talk about that in your negotiations and the dangers to the particular region? And does it mean that America has some kind of plans for a military campaign around the Korean Peninsula?

SECRETARY TILLERSON: The Carl Vinson Strike Group is routinely in the Pacific Ocean. It’s in the Pacific theater. And its movements in the Pacific are made in a way that’s planned by the military planners. There is no particular objective in its current course. The Vinson sails up and down the Pacific routinely, and so I would not read anything into the Carl Vinson’s current locations.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: I can only repeat that we, amongst other many questions, discussed the situation in and around the Korean Peninsula, and as far as I remember, we covered all the most substantive issues connected with it, and we insisted that this situation would only be settled by peaceful means and the denuclearization of the peninsula through negotiations. There are many efforts being deployed at the moment by the participants in what used to be called the six-sided process. We have a couple of ideas about that, our Chinese colleagues too, and I think that what we have to do is to unite together and apply exclusively peaceful means.

And last question to the American side.

MODERATOR: The final question goes to Margaret Brennan with CBS News.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Mr. Secretary, before these meetings you said you believed Russia was either incompetent or complicit in these chemical weapons attacks. After your extensive meeting with both Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov, do you know which one that is and what concrete thing can be done to rebuild that lack of trust?

And Minister Lavrov, if I could indulge you to answer in English if you would, sir. President Trump has called Bashar al-Assad an animal. This is the leader your government continues to back. Can you tell us how long Russia will be willing to risk the lives of its soldiers and spend its money to protect him?

SECRETARY TILLERSON: With respect to Russia’s complicity or knowledge of the chemical weapons attack, we have no firm information to indicate that there was any involvement by Russia, Russian forces, into this attack. What we do know – and we have very firm and high confidence in our conclusion – is that the attack was planned and carried out by the regime forces at the direction of Bashar al-Assad.

FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV: I can only repeat once again that as with the Russian hackers, so-called, and the instance in Syria, we should very much like through some kind of proper arguments to receive evidence of facts. So far, we have none. And once again, I’d just like to say that in Syria, we are working at the request of the legitimate government of a member country of the United Nations, and we are against any kind of sanctions initiated by the Security Council of the United Nations, and we are combatting terrorism. We want to make sure that ISIL and the Nusrah forces do not get hold of Damascus. And the coalition which President Obama cobbled together did not actually deal with the mission, and that was before the appearance of the Russian air force in the country. The American coalition struck only certain positions of ISIL, but Jabhat al-Nusrah was always spared, and we have a very persistent suspicion that Nusrah is still being spared so as to trigger Plan B and to try and overturn the regime of Assad. I have already mentioned that we’ve already noticed that in Iraq and Libya; this is due to the prevalence of people who simply want to do that.

And as far as crimes committed in Syria, certainly we will be eager to sort that out, and I think that there have to be priorities. And the priorities which you have heard from Washington to the effect that the destruction of ISIL is priority number one and the – John Kerry and Spicer have already said that it is possible to get rid of ISIL without regime change, and Kerry has said that it is much more important to deal with ISIL than Assad’s regime.

So I think we think in very like manner here. The common threat is absolutely obvious. If it is possible to overcome ISIL without reversing the regime, then, having reversed or upturned the regime, it may well be that we will lose the fight against ISIL. So I think that what we need to do is to use common sense and fewer emotions.

MODERATOR: (Via interpreter) On that, we complete this press conference. Thank you very much.


Confusing the US change by using the chemical weapons إرباك التغيير الأميركي بالكيميائي

 Confusing the US change by using the chemical weapons

أبريل 11, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,

The alliance of losers in the war on Syria will not lay down its weapons, confess of facts, and will not move from the bank of obstinacy to the bank of realism, because the loss is existential and the coexistence with it is not possible, as Turkey which its regional status falls through its defeat and the fall of its project from the Syrian gate, and Saudi Arabia which knows that its Gulf leadership lives the crisis of Yemen, moreover the gate of its eastern presence is drawn by the future of the war on Syria and what it considers as a fixed balance in Lebanon, and as Israel which does not concern about its security as much it concerns about its existence. Every forthcoming settlement after the recovery of Syria will be a full Israeli defeat and every war will be an issue of existence according to Israel.

After the victory of Aleppo and the joining of Turkey to Astana process, it was proven that the bet is still on a subsequent round which is being prepared as was the preparation for the war of Aleppo on the days of the truce a year ago during Geneva negotiations. The visits of Benjamin Netanyahu and Mohammed Bin Salman to Washington were translated by the new invasion; Israeli raids and the comprehensive attacks of Al Nusra front in all the fronts along with all the factions which the Turks said that they brought them to Astana path, which entitled the separation from Al Nusra. The bet which was held in Washington makes this last chance in case if it was achieved an enough reason for the prevention of Washington from translating the seeking to amplify the war on ISIS into a Syrian political settlement that re-cures the Syrian country under the leadership of its president from within a partnership equation with the opposition.

The outcome after the Syrian deterrent missiles and the crucial Russian position toward the Israeli raids was a deterrence equation which Israeli is still finding confusion in its understanding and how to deal with it, while Al Nusra has received a shocking response by the repelling of more than ten thousand of its fighting elite supported by seventeen thousand armaments and the groups which withdrew from Syria and which were gathered in Idlib. The Syrian army accompanied with its allies has succeeded in a record time to re-have control over the areas which were controlled by the attackers, so a counter attack has started and still. Therefore, the bet fell and the opportunity was missed, and the repercussions which depend on the victory became great.

The stability of the political and military balance of powers says that the intention of the project of overthrowing Syria has become as committing suicide of its owners, so Washington decided to be far from its allies which are moving towards their suicide, it announced that it neither considers overthrowing the regime in Syrian nor the presidency in it a priority for it, it has repeated that on all its platforms, so the feeling of disappointment and the abandonment of the vanquished has increased especially Turkey, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, therefore, the concern of those became confusing the changing US position and preventing its transition into policies that are translated into an openness to the Syrian country and a cooperation with it in the war on terrorism, it has become the only chance for Washington for making victory, so what has happened in Ghouta by Hillary Clinton is happening in Idlib to provoke the western public opinion in general and the American one in particular with the game of the chemical weapons, so as a result there were statements, threats, and warnings which apparently they are directed to Syria but in fact they are directed to Washington.

The White House has accelerated to condemn what has happened in Idlib, adding its denouncing and anxiety, but it affirms at the same time the need to achieve that the overthrowing of the regime and the presidency in Syria is no longer on the agenda. Washington which knows how the game of chemical in the first time was made knows how others are made, just for that it tried till now to keep its steadfastness and the stability of its position, but the alliance of losers have effective US cards that it will use them and will not surrender easily, since it wages a struggle between death and life, and the conflict is still open and all the possibilities are conceivable.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

إرباك التغيير الأميركي بالكيميائي

أبريل 5, 2017

ناصر قنديل

– حلف الخاسرين في الحرب على سورية لن يلقي السلاح ويعترف بالحقائق وينتقل من ضفة المكابرة إلى ضفة الواقعية. فالخسارة وجودية ولا يمكن التعايش معها. هذا هو حال تركيا التي تسقط مكانتها الإقليمية بهزيمتها وسقوط مشروعها من البوابة السورية، والسعودية التي تعرف أن زعامتها الخليجية تعيش أزمة اليمن وأن بوابة حضورها المشرقي يرسمه مستقبل الحرب في سورية، بما في ذلك ما تعتبره رصيداً ثابتاً في لبنان، و»إسرائيل» لا تنظر بعين القلق على أمنها بل على وجودها، فكل تسوية مقبلة بعد تعافي سورية ستكون خسارة «إسرائيلية» كاملة وكل حرب ستكون قضية وجود بالنسبة لـ«إسرائيل».

– بعد انتصار حلب وانضمام تركيا لعملية أستانة، ثبت أن الرهان لا يزال على جولة لاحقة يتم الإعداد لها، كما كان حال الإعداد لحرب حلب أيام الهدنة قبل عام خلال مفاوضات جنيف، وجاءت زيارات بنيامين نتنياهو ومحمد بن سلمان إلى واشنطن، لتبدأ الغزوة الجديدة، غارات «إسرائيلية» وهجمات شاملة لجبهة النصرة في كل الجبهات ومعها كل الفصائل التي قال الأتراك إنهم جلبوها لمسار أستانة وعنوانه الفصل عن النصرة، والرهان الذي عُقد في واشنطن يجعل هذه الفرصة الأخيرة في حال نجاحها سبباً كافياً لامتناع واشنطن عن ترجمة السعي لتزخيم الحرب على داعش إلى تسوية سياسية سورية تعيد العافية للدولة السورية في ظل رئيسها من ضمن معادلة شراكة للمعارضة.

– كانت الحصيلة بعد صواريخ الردع السورية والموقف الروسي الحازم من الغارات «الإسرائيلية» معادلة ردع لا تزال ترتبك «إسرائيل» في فهمها وكيفية التعامل معها. أما النصرة فقد تلقت رداً صاعقاً بصد أكثر من عشرة آلاف من نخبتها المقاتلة يساندهم سبعة عشر ألفاً من رعاع المسلحين، والجماعات المنسحبة من أنحاء سورية والمتجمعة في إدلب، ونجح الجيش السوري وحلفاؤه في زمن قياسي باسترداد كل ما نجح المهاجمون بالسيطرة عليه، وبدأ هجوم معاكس لا يزال مستمراً. فسقط الرهان وضاعت الفرصة وصارت التداعيات المترتبة على النصر كبيرة.

– تثبت ميزان قوى سياسي عسكري يقول إن الإصرار على مشروع إسقاط سورية صار انتحاراً لأصحابه، فقررت واشنطن النأي بالنفس عن حلفائها الماضين في انتحارهم، وأعلنت أنها لا تعتبر إسقاط النظام ولا الرئاسة في سورية أولوية لها، وأعادت وكررت من على منابرها كافة، فزاد الشعور بالخيبة والخذلان لدى المهزومين، خصوصاً تركيا و«إسرائيل» والسعودية، وصارت قضية هؤلاء إرباك الموقف الأميركي المتغيّر ومنع تحوّله سياسات تترجم انفتاحاً على الدولة السورية وتعاوناً معها في الحرب على الإرهاب، التي صارت الفرصة الوحيدة المتبقية لواشنطن لصناعة انتصار، فتكرّر في إدلب ما فعلته هيلاري كلينتون في الغوطة، لاستفزاز الرأي العام الغربي عموماً والأميركي خصوصاً، بلعبة الكيميائي، وانطلقت التصريحات والتهديدات والتنبيهات، والتي ظاهرها موجه لسورية وحقيقتها موجهة لواشنطن.

Syria Denies Any Role in Idlib 'Chemical' Attack

– سارع البيت الأبيض إلى إدانة ما جرى في إدلب، مضيفاً الاستهجان والقلق، لكن مع التأكيد على الحاجة لتحقيق من جهة، والتذكير أن إسقاط النظام والرئاسة في سورية ليسا على جدول الأعمال، وواشنطن التي تعلم كيف صنعت المرة الأولى لعبة الكيميائي تعرف كيف تمّ تصنيع سواها، ولذلك حاولت حتى الآن الصمود والثبات على موقفها، لكن حلف الخاسرين يملك أوراقاً أميركية فاعلة سيستخدمها، ولن يستسلم بسهولة فهو يخوض صراع موت وحياة، ولا يزال الصراع مفتوحاً وكل الاحتمالات واردة.

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BREAKING: Fox News Tries to Censor Truth on Idlib Alleged Chemical Attacks from Ray McGovern

APRIL 9, 2017


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21st Century Wire says…

Peter Lavelle has posted the following status to Facebook concerning the astounding reaction of Fox News to an RT interview with Ray McGovern, exposing the lies surrounding the alleged chemical weapons attack in Idlib.

Syria: ‘Chemical Attack’ — Ray McGovern on RT International

This interview was conducted at 7 PM. By that time on March 31, VIPS had heard from some of our U.S. military sources in the Middle East, who make a point of keeping us abreast at critical times, and who allergic to the all-too-common practice of “fixing” intelligence, trimming it to perceptions of what the White House should know. (Yes, it still happens – even after the fraudulent “intelligence” use to “justify” the attack on Iraq.)

So that evening Ray was able to share what we had learned about how this “chemical attack” actually went down. Briefly, Syrian aircraft “knew” there was a weapons cache in this particular rebel-held area. That was correct, and the Syrian aircraft bombed it.

What seems not to have been known was the existence nearby of a large storage facility for chemicals. That too was damaged, releasing a cloud of chemicals that the wind blew south and poisoned those villagers.

Is there a hint here as to why the U.S. Establishment has no love for RT?

Another backstory. Why, you ask, did we wait until now to post this particular interview? A couple of VIPS members had watched it live on RT International. However, when RT tried to post the interview on YouTube, Fox News demanded that it be taken down. Here is the message that appeared on the screen when those few who knew of the link tried to download the interview

“This video contains content from FOX News Network, who has blocked it on copyright grounds. Sorry about that.”

A complete mystery, so far, to RT. Anyone wish to hazard a guess? Let’s hope the interview will not been taken down again. After my repeated requests, RT has just given it to me unofficially, with the suggestion that I view it quickly before that happens. You may wish to do the same…




READ MORE WHITE HELMET NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire White Helmet Files

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson: “Attack on Syrian airbase plays into extremists’ hands”


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has discussed the U.S. missile strike in Syria with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone conversation, the ministry has said. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has stressed there is no evidence of Syria’s involvement in the Idlib chemical incident. On Saturday he told his American counterpart that the U.S. strike on the Syrian base had played into the extremists’ hands. Lavrov told his U.S. counterpart that Washington’s claims, accusing the Syrian army of the use of chemical weapons in Idlib on April 4, were “inaccurate and inconclusive“, the ministry said. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said [in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” host, George Stephanopoulos, which was aired Sunday] the Syrian crisis can only be solved through a political process, claiming it’s not regime change but the defeat of Daesh (ISISI, ISIL, IS…) terrorist group that Washington is seeking in Syria. “Our strategy in Syria, our priority is first to defeat ISIS“, the U.S. official said …(read more here and here).

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