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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Idlib — more than Raqqa — may be decisive Syria fault line

Idlib — more than Raqqa — may be decisive Syria fault line

EDITOR’S CHOICE | 28.03.2017

Idlib — more than Raqqa — may be decisive Syria fault line

“Turkey’s last-ditch efforts to harness Russian military and diplomatic heft to counter the Syrian Kurds and unravel their alliance with the United States are showing few signs of succeeding, like much else in the country’s ill-fated Syrian policy,” writes Amberin Zaman.

A Russian agreement with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the Cindires district of Afrin may foreshadow a potential showdown in Idlib, where al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Turkish-backed Salafi groups have taken hold after their defeat in Aleppo.

The introduction of Russian forces in Afrin is reminiscent of what happened in Manbij, where a threatened Turkish assault was deterred by US forces in the north and Russian and Syrian deployments in the south.

“If anything,” Zaman continues, “both the United States and Russia are steadily deepening their ties with the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and its Arab allies who operate under the umbrella of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). And viewed from Ankara, they are doing so at Turkey’s expense.”

The negotiations between Russia and the Syrian Kurds over Afrin included discussion of possible coordination against Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, now under the umbrella of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, whose members slipped out of Aleppo with other armed groups under Turkish cover, according to Fehim Tastekin.

Tastekin writes, “YPG sources told Al-Monitor the two sides [Russia and the YPG] met at Khmeimim air base near Latakia to discuss developing a joint operation against Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (previously Jabhat al-Nusra), which has made Idlib its central base. The Kurds initially insisted that the partnership should also oppose organizations such as Ahrar al-Sham, which Turkey supports. In the end, the sources said, both parties decided not to debate which organizations they will confront and agreed that Russia will set up a base in Afrin. The Kurds said they rejected Russia’s request to have Syrian regime troops at the base and to fly the Syrian flag there.”

He adds, “Zelal Ceger, an official with the Kurdish Movement for a Democratic Society in Afrin, said that the Kurds sought an arrangement with Russia because of persistent attacks on Afrin by Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) and armed groups that Turkey supports,” which includes Salafi and Turkmen armed groups.

Ceger told Tastekin that “this war can escalate — hence our call on Russia for an alliance. There has to be coordination between Turkey and us. Russia will provide that coordination to prevent Turkish attacks against Afrin.”

Tastekin adds that YPG officials rejected a US proposal to include Syrian Kurdish forces backed by Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani, calling it a “conspiracy” that could lead to war among the Kurds.

Zaman writes, “Turkey’s strongest card is its long border with Syria and continued influence over assorted Syrian rebel groups, which it has united under the Euphrates Shield command. Since August, Turkey and its rebel allies have cleared the Turkish border of IS forces and after a bloody and protracted offensive captured the IS-controlled town of al-Bab last month. But firmly hemmed in to the east by Russian, Syrian regime and US forces and now to the west by Russian forces in Afrin, Euphrates Shield appears to have reached the limits of its expansion.”

She adds, “The recent split in Ahrar al-Sham, one of the most powerful rebel factions in Syria, with its top leaders defecting to the Jabhat al-Nusra-dominated and al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, will have further weakened Turkey’s hand.”

While the United States is consumed with planning for unseating the Islamic State (IS) in Raqqa, Idlib may prove a comparable or perhaps even more explosive fault line because of the blurred lines among anti-Western Salafi groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, which is backed by Turkey, and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

Tamer Osman reports that Syrian “warplanes are increasingly hovering in the sky over Idlib in northern Syria and targeting several residential areas inside the city.”

Tastekin writes, “The Syrian army has been clearing out IS forces from their last Aleppo stronghold. Thanks to an agreement between Turkey and Russia, Turkish-supported armed groups — which oppose the Syrian regime but were also fighting IS in Aleppo — were allowed to leave there with their weapons and families. Most of them settled in Idlib and Azaz. … Russia and Turkey disagree on what to do with these anti-Syrian (and therefore, anti-Russian) groups. Russia wants them disbanded. Turkey would like them to hold onto that area and join the pro-Turkish Free Syrian Army factions to fight the Kurds and keep them from establishing a continuous autonomous region near Turkey’s border. If Russia and the Syrian army open a front against Idlib, clashes with the Turkish-backed groups could spill over to Afrin. Although the Kurds are focused on defending Afrin, they may be amenable to a joint operation with the Russians against threats from Idlib.”

“The biggest problem,” Osman continues, “is the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrians living in Idlib, as these will not be able to find another shelter amid the ongoing airstrikes falling on the city and its suburbs. This same scenario occurred in areas now controlled by the Syrian regime forces such as the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo.”

Khaled al-Khateb reports from Aleppo, “Turkey has been training a police organization, the Free Syrian Police (FSP), to help out with secondary operations in Aleppo province so the Free Syrian Army (FSA) can focus on fighting and maintaining control of the areas it has captured.“

Khateb writes, “The FSA’s presence there makes residents targets for the Islamic State (IS).” He adds, “The first FSP group, stationed in Jarablus, was recruited in late 2016 from Syrian refugee camps scattered in Gaziantep and Kilis in southern Turkey, unlike the second group stationed in Azaz and nearby towns, which mostly came from Aleppo province. There has been no shortage of recruits.”

Semih Idiz explains that “there is also speculation, fueled by remarks made by Erdogan in the recent past, about a Turkish effort to turn the FSA into Syria’s new army. If this were to come about, it would mean a Sunni-dominated, anti-Kurdish and anti-Shiite army. Given the big picture as it stands today, though, such an army is highly unlikely to be formed, since it would be blocked by Russia and the United States. The bottom line in all of this is that the prospects for Ankara’s realizing its aims in Syria appear to be dimming by the day — a fact that is also being increasingly noted by Turkish analysts.”

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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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.

Erdogan’s War of Words Inciting Terror in Europe

Erdogan’s War of Words Inciting Terror in Europe


Erdogan’s War of Words Inciting Terror in Europe

Only hours after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued a bloodcurdling warning about terror attacks against European citizens, four people lay dead on the streets of London. That death toll may rise further because several of those injured in the attack this week in the British capital are in critical condition, fighting for their lives.

Erdogan was speaking Wednesday in what was yet another diatribe in his ongoing war of words with the European Union. The Turkish leader has been enraged by European governments refusing ministers from Ankara holding political rallies in Germany, Netherlands and Austria among other countries. As a result of the injunctions, he has accused the EU of displaying Islamophobia and hostility towards Turkey.

In his latest barrage earlier this week, Erdogan warned that there would be dire repercussions for EU citizens owing to the perceived stance of their governments.

«If you continue to behave like this, tomorrow in no part of the world, no European, no Westerner will be able to take steps on the street safely and peacefully», Erdogan said.

Tragically, within hours of announcing these very words, a British-born man plowed his speeding car into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing several of them and seriously wounding dozens more. The assailant then got out of his crashed vehicle and ran into the grounds of the British parliament where he stabbed a police officer to death, before being fatally shot by another officer.

The attacker was named as 52-year-old Khalid Masood, a British citizen. It is not clear yet what his precise motives were, but the deadly attack was subsequently claimed by the Islamic State terror group.

Turkey’s Erdogan was reportedly one of many world leaders who quickly phoned British premier Theresa May to offer his condolences. Later on Wednesday night, Erdogan released a statement on social media, saying: «We stand in solidarity with the UK, our friend and ally, against terrorism, the greatest threat to global peace and security».

There is a sense here that the Turkish leader was reeling from his own earlier warnings of would-be terror consequences for European citizens, and how his tirades against the EU might be implicated in inciting violence.

Certainly, the EU, in short-order, seemed to find Erdogan’s forecasting of acts of terrorism against European citizens and how «they would not be safe on streets around the world» to be lamentable.

Turkey’s envoy in Brussels was promptly summoned to «explain» the president’s doom-laden words. The day after the London killings, the EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic reportedly said: «We have asked the Turkish permanent delegate to the EU to come… as we would like to receive an explanation with regard to the comments by President Erdogan concerning the safety of Europeans on the streets of the world».

At best, Erdogan’s chilling warnings against European citizens are grossly insensitive. Apart from the carnage in London, on the very day that he issued his grim forecast of violence, the date was also the first anniversary of the terror attacks in Brussels when more than 30 people were killed by suicide bombers in the Belgian capital on March 22 last year.

Over the past year, there have been several other terror attacks on the streets of European cities, including the carnage in Nice when a would-be jihadist drove an articulated lorry into a pedestrians last July, killing over 80.

There was also an horrific attack in Berlin when an assailant drove a lorry into a crowded Christmas market.

In all these incidents, there appears to be an Islamist connection. The perpetrators may be acting in some sort of «lone wolf» capacity, without the organizational support of the al Qaeda terror network. But that’s beside the point. The attacks appear to be motivated by some level of Islamist grievance. Perhaps acts of revenge against European governments and citizens who are perceived as being complicit in illegal wars on, or persecution of, Muslim majority countries in the Middle East.

This is where Turkish President Erdogan bears more responsibility than merely just «bad timing» or being «insensitive» remarks.

In recent weeks, Erdogan and senior government ministers in Ankara have been engaging in a reckless war of words with the EU, which can be viewed as bordering on incitement.

Erdogan has repeatedly accused Germany and The Netherlands of acting like «Nazis and fascists». He has condemned the whole of the EU as being «racist» and «anti-Islam».

Just last week, Erdogan claimed that Dutch UN peacekeeping troops were responsible for the Srebrenica massacre in 1995, when up to 8,000 Muslim men were killed by Serb forces. Erdogan said the Dutch had the blood of Muslims «on their hands».

Ankara’s fit of rage stems from European governments blocking political rallies being held in their cities by Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party. Those rallies are aimed at mobilizing Turkish expatriates to vote in Turkey’s referendum next month, which is being held to endorse increasing constitutional powers for Erdogan’s presidency.

Erdogan’s grip on power has already become increasingly autocratic since the attempted coup against his rule failed last July.

In order to push Turkish voters to back his sought-after constitutional changes, Erdogan is evidently whipping up patriotic fervor and in particular Islamist fervor by indulging in a war of words with the EU.

Denouncing European states as «anti-Islamic» and «racist» may gain Erdogan votes. But such incitement has consequences. This war of words is not an abstract phenomenon. It risks inflicting real human casualties, as Europe has all-too often witnessed over the past year.

If EU governments had any spine, they would hold Erdogan legally to account over his potentially seditious behavior.

But the supine EU is too busy trying to keep the Turkish sultan sweet so that he doesn’t open the refugee floodgates from the wars that European governments have been stoking across the Middle East and North Africa.

Swedish Doctors Charge White Helmets with Medical Malpractice and Abuse of Children

[ Ed. note – How far and to what lengths would those backing terrorists in Syria go in trying to achieve their objectives? Would it include drugging, and perhaps even killing, innocent children for the purpose of making propaganda videos? The answer to that seems to be yes if we go by the conclusions of Swedish medical experts who have examined a White Helmets video. You can go here to read an article by Prof Marcello Ferrada de Noli, chairman of the Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, and here to read about the group’s findings in a commentary published today at 21st Century Wire. Below is an excerpt from the latter. ]

21st Century Wire

The White Helmets. The biggest propaganda heist in the six year history of the dirty war against Syria is unraveling. The glamour of an Oscar is not enough to disguise the sordid details of the White Helmet ties to Al Qaeda (Nusra Front in Syria) and various other extremist, atrocity committing groups embedded in Syria by the NATO and Gulf state regimes. No amount of money laundering is going to wash their image clean after the latest series of reports from Swedish Doctors for Human Rights, exposing macabre, medical malpractice and suspected use of drugged or dead children as props in a propaganda campaign to unseat the Syrian government and to destabilize an entire nation & its people.

Continued here

Israeli Airstrikes Contribute To Further Escalation Of Syrian Conflict


Voiceover by Harold Hoover

Israeli warplanes reportedly delivered airstrikes against Syrian army targets in the Qasioun Mount region near Damascus early on March 22nd. Israeli jets allegedly carried out four rounds of airstrikes. There were no reports about casualties or damage suffered by Syrian government forces.

Initially reports about the incident appeared in pro-militant social media accounts and then were widely spread by the Israeli media. If confirmed, the recent raids were the fourth round of airstrikes attributed to Israel in Syria in less than a week.

The reports about the fresh Israeli airstrikes in Syria came just a few hours after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue hitting targets in Syria. Netanyahu made this claim during a visit to China, adding that he had informed Putin of Israel’s intentions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Israel’s Ambassador to Moscow to protest an Israeli military strike near the Syrian city of Palmyra last Friday. This was after Israeli jets breached Syrian air space and attacked a military target near Palmyra on the night of March 17th. According to Israel’s Channel 2, the Israeli strike hit close to Russian troops. In turn, the Syrian military fired several anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli warplanes and claimed that one of them was destroyed and another one hit. The Israel Defense Forces denied these claims and said that one missile fired from the ground was intercepted by the Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile.

Following the incident, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, threatened to destroy Syrian air defense systems. “The next time the Syrians use their air defense systems against our planes we will destroy them without the slightest hesitation,” Lieberman said on Israeli public radio.

At the same time, Israel continued to push the narrative that Russia and other powers must move to limit Iran’s military strength in Syria. The director-general of Israel’s Intelligence Ministry, Chagai Tzuriel, repeated this in an interview to Reuters on March 21st.

The growing Israeli propaganda and diplomatic and military efforts over the conflict in Syria came amid the intensification of military operations of the so-called moderate opposition against government forces in northern Hama and eastern Damascus. Jaish al-Islam and other groups invited to the Astana format supported the military actions of Hayat Tahir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda). This showed that the negotiations in Astana brokered by Ankara, Moscow, and Tehran resulted in no progress in separating “moderate rebels” from their “radical counterparts.”

Most likely, this situation is a result of the fact covered by SF in its last two videos about the geopolitical standoff in the post-ISIS Middle East – Turkey provides a general support to the Israeli efforts aimed at undermining the Assad government and limiting the Iranian influence. Turkey and Israel also share the ground in supporting so-called moderate rebels operating in western Syria.

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