Complete Syrian War update: February 2017

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:50 A.M.) – Over the course of two months, the Syrian conflict has seen drastic changes at several fronts, including areas that have not seen fighting for years.

Syrian Capital:

Among the biggest changes this year is the battlefront in Damascus, which has seen the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in control of much of the western countryside and large parts of the nearby East Ghouta region.

With a number of reconciliation agreements put together at the end of the year (e.g. Wadi Barada and Serghaya), the Syrian Arab Army managed to secure almost the entire provincial border with the Golan Heights, leaving only Beit Jinn under militant control.

In the eastern part of Damascus, the Syrian Arab Army is preparing for what is expected to be the largest offensive in this region; this operation will be led by the Republican Guard forces and 4th Mechanized Division.

Southern Syria:

South of Damascus, the jihadist rebels of Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham launched a large-scale offensive in the Dara’a Governorate, targeting the Syrian Arab Army’s positions inside the Al-Manishiyah District of the provincial capital.

Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham has captured several points inside the Al-Manishiyah District; however, their offensive has somewhat stalled since their large advance on Monday.

In the Sweida Governorate, the U.S. backed rebel forces have seized several points from the Islamic State terrorists near the Jordanian border, giving them a large buffer-zone around the Tanf Crossing into Iraq.

Syrian Desert Front:

Syria’s vast desert landscape has been the scene of some of the most intense battles taking place inside the country.

The Islamic State launched a massive operation in December to seize the ancient city of Palmyra and its nearby gas fields; this offensive was eventually successful, as the Syrian Arab Army was forced to withdraw 60km west towards the T-4 Military Airport.

Making matters worse for the Syrian Army, the Islamic State launched a large offensive in the Deir Ezzor Governorate to kick off the new year.

The Islamic State would not only capture several points, but they would also besiege the Deir Ezzor Military Airport for the first time during this war.

By mid-January, the Syrian Arab Army was able to stabilize the Palmyra and Deir Ezzor fronts, paving the way for a much needed counter-attack.

The Syrian Arab Army is currently involved in an offensive to liberate the oil fields in Palmyra’s western countryside; this has taken priority over lifting the siege on the Deir Ezzor Airport.

Northern Syria: 

Without a doubt, Syria’s northern front is its most active front, with several groups fighting one another in the Aleppo and Al-Raqqa governorates.

The Turkish Armed Forces made the first move in Aleppo in January, as their soldiers and rebel allies stormed the strategic city of Al-Bab.

However, this operation for the Turkish forces has had limited success and heavy casualties as a result of the Islamic State’s heavy resistance at this important front.

At around the same time the Turkish forces launched the Al-Bab offensive, the Kurdish-led “Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) began a large-scale operation to liberate Al-Raqqa from the Islamic State terrorists.

Unlike the Turkish Armed Forces, the SDF has managed to liberate a large chunk of territory along the Euphrates River, almost reaching the strategic Tabaqa Military Airport before the Islamic State sent reinforcements to forestall the advance.

Opposite of the SDF and Turkish Armed Forces, the Syrian Arab Army’s “Tiger Forces” have been focusing on the Kuweries countryside, liberating several villages from the Islamic State while advancing to both Al-Bab and Deir Hafer.


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Michael Flynn’s big crime, he wanted a better relationship & to avoid war with Russia

The Flynn Defenestration Will Hamper Trump’s Foreign Policy Updated – By Moon Of Alabama

“Moon Of Alabama” – Trump’s National Security Advisor Flynn resigned after only three weeks in office. While I am certainly no fan of Flynn or of Trump I find this defenestration a dangerous event. It will hamper any big change in U.S. foreign policy that Trump may envision. The resignation followed a highly orchestrated campaign against Flynn by intelligence officials, the media and some people within the White House. After the election and Trump’s unexpected win the Obama administration slapped sanctions on Russia and sent Russian embassy officials back to Moscow. This move was intended to blockade a Trump policy of better relations with Russia. Flynn talked with the Russian ambassador and, as a direct result, the Russian’s did not respond tit for tat for the sanctions and expulsions.

This was an absolutely positive move and in full accordance with announced Trump policies. Henry Kissinger made a similar move and visited the Russian embassy weeks before he became Nixon’s NSC. During the 2012 election Obama made a similar “deal” with the Russians in a comparable situation: President Barack Obama was caught on camera on Monday assuring outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he will have “more flexibility” to deal with contentious issues like missile defense after the U.S. presidential election. Despite tens or hundreds of claimed White House leaks in the media I am still not sure what really happened next. Trump’s enemies and some intelligence officials accused Flynn of lying about the phone calls with the Russian ambassador. It is unclear what the alleged lies really are and especially why they should matter. Obfuscation is part of any White House business. If Flynn had secretly talked with the Israeli ambassador (which he probably did) no one would have attacked him.

So why was Flynn really under pressure and why didn’t Trump back him? It would have been easy for Trump to say: “I ordered Flynn to do that. Obama did similar. In both cases it was a GREAT success. USA! USA! USA!” Nobody would have been able to further attack Flynn over the issue after such a protective move.

But Trump, completely against his style, held his mouth and did nothing. What else happened in the White House that let him refrain from backing Flynn?

Sure, the real beef other people have with Flynn is not about Russia but other issues, like his plans to reform the intelligence services. But by throwing Flynn out like this Trump opened himself to further attacks.

As it looks now a rather small gang of current and former intelligence officials – with the help of the anti-Trump media – leaked Flynn out of his office. They will not stop there.

Now blood is in the street and the hyenas will lust for more. The Trump magic is broken. He has shown vulnerability. Now they will go after their next target within the Trump administration and then the next and the next until they have Trump isolated and by the balls. He just invited them to proceed. All major foreign policy moves he planned will be hampered. The detente with Russia has probably ended before it even started.

There is another, overlooked country where Flynn’s position as NSC influenced policy decisions. Flynn had at times lobbied for Turkey and good relations with the Erdogan government. Even on the very day of the presidential election an op-ed of his damning Erdogan’s enemy Gülen and lauding Turkey was published.

After Trump was inaugurated and again talked of no-fly-zones the Turkish president Erdogan made another of his famous 180 degree turns.

Erdogan had wanted a no-fly-zones (aka a Turkish protectorate) in Syria from the very beginning of the war. The Obama administration would not give him one and in the later years shunned him. Erdogan turned to Russia but was told that he would have to limit his ambitions in Syria: no no-fly-zone, no Turkish march to Manbij or Raqqa. Erdogan agreed. But after Trump talked of new sanctions  and Flynn was installed as NSC Erdogan again changed his position. He is now again calling for a no-fly-zone and is again promising to conquer Manbij (held by Kurds) and Raqqa (held by the Islamic State). (Any such attempt would be hopeless. The Turkish army and its Islamist proxy forces have tried to conquer the much smaller Al-Bab, held by the Islamic State, for over four month now and still fail at it.)

The Russian’s will have taken note of such unreliable behavior. One wonders how Erdogan now feels as his lobbyist in a top position of the Trump administration is gone. If the Trump administration now acts against his plans will he creep back to Putin and ask for forgiveness? Would that be accepted?

Flynn is no big loss for the world, the U.S. or the Trump administration. But Trump has now lost the initiative. He long managed to set the media agenda for the day by this or that “outrageous” tweet or remark. Now this advantage has been taken away from him over some nonsense allegations and his lack of backing for one of his top people.

He will soon rue the day he let this happen.


Syrian War Report – February 10, 2017: Syrian Army Clashes With Pro-Turksih Militants Near Al-Bab

ٍSouth Front

In the northern Aleppo countryside, the towns of Tell Rifaat, Menagh, Mayer, Tell Jibbin, Ma’arasteh Khan and Hardatnin have joined a reconciliation agreement with the Syrian government after talks with a Russian mediation. Tell Rifaat and Menagh had been controlled by the Kurdish YPG.

On February 9, an escalation erupted between Syrian government and Turkish forces in the area of al-Bab.

Initially the Turkish General Staff announced that an accidental Russian airstrike had killed three Turkish soldiers and wounded 11 others in the area of al-Bab. The incident was confirmed by the Russian military.

Later at the same day, pro-Turkish militants engaged Syrian army and National Defense Forces (NDF) troops at Abu Zandin and Shamawiya located at the road to the ISIS stronghold of al-Bab.

As a result of a series of firefights, two Syrian soldiers were allegedly killed and pro-Turkish militants seized a BMP vehicle.

The Hawar-Kilis Operation Room, one of the biggest factions involved in the Turkish Operation Euphrates Shield, was involved in the escalation. Also, Turkish artillery units allegedly delivered a number of strikes against government forces in the area, according to sources close to Hawar-Kilis.

The escalation came amid reports that Turkish forces once again entered into Qabasin and Bzaah, and the army and the NDF liberated Abu Taltal located in a striking distance from Tadef, an important ISIS defense site at the southern flank of al-Bab.

Separately, Islamists launched an advance in northeastern Latakia, engaging government forces at the Rashu Hill. Initially, militants seized the area and made attempt to develop the success, but then the army and the NDF reversed their gains. The situation remains tense.


Turkish forces once against lost the key town of Bzaah east of Al-Bab after temporarily capturing it from ISIS yesterday. Meanwhile, ISIS units launched an advance against pro-Turkish militants in Al-Ameh aiming to re-establish a supply line to al-Bab which had been under constant artillery fire from the Syrian army since Sunday.

Sporadic firefights and artillery duels continue between pro-Turkish forces and the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” backed by the US in northern Aleppo. Recently clashes were observed near Sheikh Issa, Ayn Daqnah, Tell Rifaat, Mranaz and Shawarigha. An armored personnel carrier with pro-Turkish fighters was destroyed by the SDF between Jibrin and Ayn Daqnah.

At least 6 ISIS vehicles equipped with machine guns were destroyed by the army and the NDF in the clashes near the al-Seen Airbase. Some 34 ISIS members were also reported dead.

The Desert Hawks Brigade has deployed to the area of the Tiyas Airbase in order to support the Syrian army’s advance against ISIS in the province of Homs. The brigade will participate in the army’s operation to liberate the gas fields north of the Homs-Palmyra highway and allegedly take part in the advance on Palmyra. Pro-government sources claim that up to dozen of ISIS suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices were destroyed in the recent clashes in the area.

Strategically, government forces will need to Palmyra back from ISIS if they want to develop an advance in the direction of Deir Ezzor where the army defends local population from ISIS attacks. In case of the Russian-US coordination over the conflict, this push will be likely synchronized with the US-backed operation aimed to isolate al-Raqqah. This will increase a military pressure on ISIS and will push it to fight on two fronts in the area between al-Raqqah and Deir Ezzor simultaneously.

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President Assad: US Only Way to Defeat Terrorism in Syria is through Cooperation with Syrian Government

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

February 10, 2017

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave interview to Yahoo News in which he stressed that the US needs to be genuine regarding the fight against terrorism if it wants to really defeat terrorism in Syria, adding that this aim requires a clear political position on the part of the US towards the sovereignty and unity of Syria and cooperation with its government and people.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Question 1: Mr. President, thanks for giving us the opportunity. This is your first interview with American media since President Trump has taken office. Have you had any communications with President Trump directly or indirectly, or anybody in his administration?

President Assad:  No, not yet.

Question 2: This is an opportunity for you to convey a message to President Trump, if you have one. What would you like to say to him?

President Assad:  wouldn’t convey the message through the media, I would send it through a different channel, maybe diplomatic channels. But any message for us is the public one, we don’t have two messages; we have one stand, one position toward what’s happening in Syria, and it’s about fighting terrorism.

Question 3: You said yesterday, I believe, that what you have heard from the new administration is promising. Explain what you meant.

President Assad: The position of President Trump since he started his campaign for presidency till this moment is that the priority is to fight terrorism, and we agree about this priority, that’s our position in Syria, the priority is to fight terrorism, and that’s what I meant by promising.

Question 4: You indicated that you thought there was some way for cooperation between the United States and Syria, but you didn’t explain what that would be. What sort of cooperation can you envision?

 President Assad:  Against terrorists, and against terrorism. That’s self-evident for us. This is beside having cooperation between any two nations, but in the meantime, in these circumstances, the priority is to have cooperation in fighting terrorism between the different nations, including Russia, Iran and Syria, of course.

Question 5: The President has tasked his Secretary of Defense with developing plans for defeating ISIS or Daesh. Among the proposals they are reportedly considering is using more special forces and even military assets such as Apache helicopters inside Syria, and arming Kurdish fighters who are fighting Daesh in the north. If such moves would defeat ISIS, would you welcome them?

President Assad:  Could the American prowess defeat the terrorists in Afghanistan or in other places? No, you cannot… it’s not enough to have this Apache or F-16 or F-35, whatever you want to label it, to defeat terrorists. There has to be a more comprehensive way of dealing with that complicated issue. So, if you want to start genuinely, as United States, to do so, it must be through the Syrian government. We are here, we are the Syrians, we own this country as Syrians, nobody else, nobody would understand it like us. So, you cannot defeat the terrorism without cooperation with the people and the government of any country.

Question 6: But you have welcomed Russian troops into your country. Would you welcome American troops into your country?

President Assad:  We invited the Russians, and the Russians were genuine regarding this issue. If the Americans are genuine, of course they are welcome, like any other country that wants to defeat and to fight with the terrorists. Of course, with no hesitation we can say that.

Question 7: So, you want American troops to come into Syria to help fight ISIS?

President Assad: Troops is part of the cooperation. Again, let’s go back to the comprehensive, you cannot talk about sending troops if you’re not genuine, if you don’t have a clear political position toward not only the terrorism; toward the sovereignty of Syria, toward the unity of Syria. All these factors would lead to trust, where you can send your troops. That’s what happened with the Russians; they didn’t only send their troops. First of all, there’s a clear political position regarding those factors. This is where the Russians could come and succeed in fighting the terrorists in Syria.

Question 8: Do you see cooperation between the United States and Russia to attack ISIS in Syria?

President Assad:  It is essential. Any cooperation in any conflict around the world, it needs the, let’s say, the rapprochement, between the Russians and the Americans. It’s very essential, not only for Syria.

Question 9: Well, you talk to the Russians all the time, don’t you?

President Assad:  Of course.

Question 10: Yeah? When’s the last time you spoke to President Putin.

President Assad:  A few weeks ago.

Question 11: What’d you talk about?

President Assad:  About the problem in Syria, about the advancement of the Syrian Army in Syria.

Question 12: Right. Are you going to try to broker some sort of arrangement between the United States and Russia in this fight?

President Assad: There’s direct contact between them, and President Putin had a telephone call with President Trump a week or so, and they talked about different issues including Syria, so they don’t need my role to do so, and we don’t have any contact with the Americans to help the Russians make contact or improve their relation. We’re not in that position.

Question 13: President Trump recently said he absolutely wants to create “safe zones” inside Syria to protect refugees, and possibly allow many of them to return. If such a move would help protect your country’s endangered citizens, would you support that?

President Assad:  But actually, it won’t. It won’t. Safe zones for the Syrians could only happen when you have stability and security, where you don’t have terrorists, where you don’t have flow and support of those terrorists by the neighboring countries or by Western countries. This is where you can have a natural safe zone, which is our country. They don’t need safe zones at all. It’s much more viable, much more practical and less costly to have stability than to create safe zones. It’s not a realistic idea at all.

Question 14: Upwards of half of your country’s population has been displaced. How can you say that safe zones to protect them from bombardment would not be helpful?

President Assad:  The first thing you have to ask: why were they displaced? If you don’t answer that question, you cannot answer the rest. They were displaced for two reasons: first of all, the terrorist acts and the support from the outside. Second, the embargo on Syria. Many people didn’t only leave Syria because of the security issues. As you see, Damascus is safe today, it’s nearly normal life, not completely. But they don’t find a way for life in Syria, so they have to travel abroad in order to find their living. So, if you lift the embargo, and if you stop supporting the terrorists – I’m not talking about the United States, I’m talking about everyone who supported terrorists including the United States during Obama’s administration – if you stop all these acts, most of those people will go back to their country.

Question 15: There are, what, 4.8 million Syrian refugees since this crisis began. Just as way of comparison, that is more than 4 times the total number of Palestinian refugees from the events of 1947 and 48. Do you accept that this is a humanitarian disaster?

President Assad:  It is a humanitarian disaster created by the Western support of those terrorists, of course, and the regional support by Turkey and Qatar and Saudi Arabia. It didn’t happen just like this.

Question 16: And you bear any responsibility at all for this disaster?

President Assad: As president?

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad:  Regarding the policies that I undertake since the beginning of the crisis, they were supporting the dialogue between the Syrians, fighting terrorists, and supporting reconciliation, and they succeeded. So, no, regarding these policies, I think we were correct, and we are continuing on these pillars for the future of Syria regarding this crisis.

Question 17: As you know, President Trump has signed a very controversial executive order barring refugees, immigrants, from predominantly Muslim countries, but specifically all Syrian refugees, saying that their entry into the country would be detrimental to the interests of the United States. The premise is that some of them are terrorists.

President Assad:  Yeah.

Journalist: Do you agree with President Trump on this?

President Assad:  This question has two aspects: the first one is American, this is an American issue and it’s related to the sovereignty of the American nation. Every country has the right to put any regulations to enter their country. We can disagree or agree, but if you ask me as president, as official in the Syrian state, my responsibility is not to go and ask any president to allow the Syrians to go there and to have refuge in that country. My responsibility is to restore the stability, in order to bring them back to Syria and find refuge in their country. So, I’m not going to discuss that this is right or wrong; this is American issue.

Question 18: But the question was: are some of these refugees, in your view, aligned with terrorists?

President Assad:  Oh, definitely.

Journalist: Definitely?

President Assad:  Definitely. You can find it on the net; the same picture that you saw them – in some cases, of course – in some instances, those terrorists in Syria, holding the machinegun or killing people, they are peaceful refugees in Europe or in the West in general. Yeah, that’s true.

Question 19: So, how many terrorists do you believe are among the 4.8 million Syrian refugees?

President Assad: No one has any number, nobody knows, because nobody knows all the terrorists to give a percentage, no one at all.

Question 20: Do you believe it’s a significant number?

President Assad:  It’s not about significant, because you don’t need a significant number to commit atrocities. 11th of September, it happened by only 15 terrorists out of maybe millions of immigrants in the United States, so it’s not about the number; it’s about the quality, it’s about the intentions.

Question 21: So, if what you’re saying is correct, then President Trump would be justified in keeping them out of the United States?

President Assad:  I’m not American to justify it; only American people would say this is against the interests of the United States or with the interests. From the outside, we can discuss it as value; this is with the values of the humanitarian situation in the world or not, that’s how we can discuss it. But again, I can only speak as president; for me the priority is to bring those citizens to their country, not to help them immigrate. That’s the natural duty according to the constitution and to the law.

Question 22: Would you welcome all of Syria’s refugees back into your country?

President Assad: Definitely, definitely.

Journalist: Definitely? Even the terrorists?

President Assad: I don’t have to welcome them as president; I don’t own the country, it’s not my house, it’s not my company, it’s not my farm. This is country to every Syrian.

Question 23: But if you believe that some of them are terrorists, what would you do with them when they return to Syria?

President Assad:  It doesn’t matter what I believe, what matters is what the law would say about every person who committed any act against his country, taking into consideration that we gave amnesty in Syria to thousands of people who committed actions or acts against their country as part of the reconciliation.

Question 24: How do you expect them to return? What is your vision or plan for bringing Syria’s refugees back into Syria?

President Assad: Already many of them, not a huge number, but many of them came back to Syria, many of them, in spite of the security issues and the embargo. So, the majority of Syrians would like to come back to their country. This is natural for every citizen. They will come back when there’s security and when there’s no embargo.

Question 25: Your military, just last month, drove the rebels from eastern Aleppo. Do you see this as a turning point in Syria’s civil war, and do you believe you’ve now won this war?

President Assad: No, it’s not a turning point. The turning point was when we took the decision to fight terrorism in spite all the propaganda against us abroad, especially in the West, and against every pressure. That was the turning point. Aleppo is an important step against terrorists, in the fight against terrorism, but I cannot say it is a turning point, because we’re still going in the same way, in the same direction, we haven’t changed our direction. Maybe for the terrorists it’s a turning point? They better answer. Maybe for their masters in the West and in the region, it could be, but they have to answer, I cannot answer on their behalf.

Question 26: I was asking you before about potential cooperation between the United States and Syria, but the problem that many would have with that is the continued allegations of human rights abuses by your government. Now, just today, we have a new report from Amnesty International about Sednaya prison, “human slaughterhouse” they call it, 5,000 to 13,000 detainees hanged in mass hangings there, horrific conditions, trials of blindfolded prisoners, one to three minutes in length, no lawyers, secret, all in secret. This would, on its face, be contrary to every aspect of international law. What do you know about what’s going on in that prison?

President Assad:  Let’s first of all talk about the first part of your question, which is the problem how to – for the United States – to open relations with Syria, regarding the human rights. I will ask you: how could you have this close, very close relation, intimate relation, with Saudi Arabia? Do you consider beheading as human right criteria?

Journalist: But I’m not interviewing the King of Saudi Arabia right, I’m interviewing you.

President Assad: Yeah, I know. Yeah, of course.

Journalist: I’m asking you about reports of human rights abuses in your prison, in your country.

President Assad: You own the question, I own the answers, so that’s my answer. So, when you answer about Saudi Arabia and your relation, you can put yourself in that position. Second, the United States is in no position to talk about human rights; since Vietnam war till this moment, they killed millions of civilians, if you don’t want to talk about 1.5 million in Iraq, without any assignment by the Security Council. So, the United States is in no position to say “I don’t open relations because of human rights,” and they have to use one standard. This is first.

The second part now. Now I can move to the other part, that report, like many other reports published by Amnesty International, put into question the credibility of Amnesty International, and we never look at it as unbiased. It’s always biased and politicized, and it’s a shame for such an organization to publish a report without a shred of evidence. They said it’s based on interviews, on interviews.

Journalist: Yes.

President Assad: What about the documents? What about the concrete evidence? Not a single concrete…

Journalist: Interviews with four former prison officials and guards, three former Syrian judges, three doctors…

President Assad: It means nothing.

Journalist: It means nothing?

President Assad:  It’s interview… no, no, when you need to make a report, you need co st year. They paid money for such a report, and they brought their own witnesses, and they ncrete evidence. You can make any report, you can pay money to anyone like Qatar did la made a report.

Question 27: I wanna just read you something from the report… “the process of hanging is authorized by officials at the highest levels of the government. Death sentences are approved by the Grand Mufti of Syria, and by either the Minister of Defense or the Chief of Staff of the Army, who are deputized to act on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad.”

President Assad: First of all, what’s the evidence? This is first. Second…

Journalist: Is it true or not?

President Assad: No, no, it’s not true, definitely not true.

Journalist: How do you know? Do you know what goes on in that prison? Have you been there?

President Assad: No, I haven’t been, I’ve been in the Presidential Palace, not in the prison.

Journalist: So here you have a very disturbing report about something going on in one of your prisons, are you going to investigate?

President Assad: So, Amnesty International knows more about Syria than me, according to you. No, that’s not true. No, they haven’t been to Syria, they only base their reports on allegation, they can bring anyone, doesn’t matter what’s his title, you can forge anything these days, and we’re living in a fake news era, as you know, everybody knows this. So, we don’t have to depend on this. Second, you have to talk about the reality, they said in their report that we made serial executions, is that correct?

Journalist: Yes. Mass hangings.

President Assad:  First of all, execution is part of the Syrian law. If the Syrian government or institution wants to do it, they can make it legally, because it’s been there for decades.

Journalist: Secret trials, no lawyers?

President Assad: Why do they need it, if they can make it legally? They don’t need anything secret.

Journalist: Is that legal, in your country?

President Assad: Yeah, yeah, of course, it’s legal, for decades, since the independence. The execution, according to the law, after trial, is a legal action, like any other court in many countries in this region.

Question 28: Will you allow international monitors to visit that prison and inspect and investigate these reports?

President Assad:  It depends on the credibility of that organization, not anyone, because they’re going to use this visit just to demonize the Syrian government more and more and more, like what’s happening.

Question 29: This is not the first time that very serious human rights allegations have been made. Just last week, a woman in Spain, Syrian, filed a lawsuit accusing nine of your senior government intelligence and security officials of human rights abuses. Her brother had disappeared in one of your prisons. You asked about documents, the lawyers who have filed this, accusing your government of human rights abuses, have collected 3,000 pages of evidence and over 50,000 photographs taken by one of your former government’s photographers showing emaciated, tortured bodies in your prisons.

President Assad: Who verified the pictures? Who verified that they’re not edited and photoshopped and so on?

Journalist: Have you seen the photos?

President Assad: No, I didn’t.

Journalist: Have you seen the photos?

President Assad:  No, no, I saw some photos in previous reports. But it’s not about the photo. How can you verify the photo?

Journalist: You have said that the…

President Assad: Do you have a photo?

Journalist: I do have the photos.

President Assad: Can you show it to me?

Journalist: Yes, I’ll be happy to. here.

President Assad: This photo… have you verified who are those?

Journalist: I… can tell you…

President Assad: Because you have it, and because you mention it in front of your audience…

Journalist: There’s a number of photos…

President Assad:  You have to convince your audiences, you cannot mention such a picture without verifying who are those and where and everything about, just to put it in front of the audience, tell them “they’ve been killed by the Syrian soldiers.”

Journalist: The woman who filed the lawsuit, the Syrian woman who filed the lawsuit said she saw her brother in those photographs.

President Assad: At the end, these are allegations. We have to talk about concrete evidence, at the end. That’s how you can base your judgment. Anyone can say whatever he wants.

Question 30: The US State Department gave these photos to the American FBI crime lab, digital lab. They examined these photos, and said the bodies and scenes depicted – these are 242 of these images – the bodies and scenes depicted exhibit no artifacts or inconsistencies that would indicate they have manipulated. As a result of the above observations, all of these 242 images appear to depict real people and events.

President Assad: Who said that?

Journalist: The FBI. Have you seen their report?

President Assad: No. When was that?

Journalist: That was 2015.

President Assad: The question is when your institutions were honest about what’s happening in Syria? That’s the question. Never. For us, never, so we don’t have to rely on what they say, if the FBI say something, it’s not evidence for anyone, especially for us. The most important thing: if you take these photos to any court in your country, could they convict any criminal regarding this? Could they tell you what this crime is, who committed it? If you don’t have this full picture, you cannot make judgement, it’s just propaganda, it’s just fake news, they want to demonize the Syrian government. In every war, you can have any individual crime, it happened here, all over the world, anywhere, but it’s not a policy.

Question 31: But let me just… If I hear what you’re saying, the FBI is just forwarding… propagating propaganda, Amnesty International is propagating propaganda, everybody is conspiring against the Syrian government. Why?

President Assad: Ask them, we’re not…

Journalist: You’re the one making the allegation.

President Assad: No, no, I’m not making an allegation, they supported the terrorists, and you go back to what they said… John Kerry, a few months ago, said and by his voice that “we were watching ISIS advancing, and we expected the Syrian president to make concessions.” What does it mean? Obama said it in one of his speeches, that the war on Iraq created ISIS. So, who supported ISIS? We didn’t create it, you created it, the United States created all this mess. Who supported the rebels and called them “moderate rebels” while they became ISIS and al-Nusra in Syria? We didn’t. So, it’s not a conspiracy, these are facts, this is reality. We didn’t give money, we didn’t support these terrorists. Your country supported them, UK, France, publicly, and they said they sent armaments, we didn’t. So, it’s not my allegation, it’s your official allegation, including Joe Biden, the Vice President of Obama. He said, about Saudi Arabia and other countries supporting the extremists…

Journalist: That’s Saudi Arabia, but the United States…

President Assad: So, this allegation is their allegation, it’s American allegation before it’s been Syrian allegation.

Question 32: The United States and its coalition partners have been bombing ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it’s supporting the Iraqi army in its efforts to liberate Mosul from ISIS. How can you say that the United States is supporting ISIS?

President Assad: Can you explain to me how could they defeat ISIS in Iraq, and ISIS was expanding since the American coalition started attacking in Syria?

Journalist: Is it expanding now?

President Assad:  It’s been expanding, no, it’s…

Journalist: Is it expanding now?

President Assad:  It started shrinking after the Russian intervention, not the American one. How could they use our oil fields and export with thousands of barrel trucks to Turkey without being seen by your drones and by your satellites while the Russians could be able to do so and attack them and destroy them. destroy all their facilities? How? This is cosmetic campaign against ISIS.

Question 33: Just to be clear; I have shown you the FBI report, I have shown the photographs, I have shown you the Amnesty International report. Will you cooperate in investigations to determine if these very serious reports are in fact true?


President Assad:  You showed me many things, but you didn’t show me a single evidence.

Journalist: I showed you an FBI report.

President Assad: No, no, it’s not evidence at all. It’s actually the contrary; any American institution for us during the Syrian crisis was against the reality, it was the opposite of the truth. That’s how we look at it. So, it’s not a Syrian institution, we don’t care about what they say. For me, what I care about is what reports I have from Syrian people, and we had investigations, because we have many claims regarding not mass crimes, actually, more individual acts and we’ve been investigating many, and many people were punished, but that happened in every war.

Question 34: Do you… are you disturbed enough about any of this to try to determine the truth yourself?

President Assad:  I think you should show it to Western officials to ask them that question: are they disturbed to see what’s happening since they started supporting the terrorists in Syria? This killing and this destruction? That’s the question. Of course I’m disturbed; I am Syrian.

Journalist: You are disturbed about this? About these reports?

President Assad:  About what’s happening in Syria. No, no, not about the report. I don’t care about the report.

Journalist: Not about this.

President Assad: No, no, I’m disturbed about what’s happening in Syria. It’s my country, it’s being destroyed by proxy terrorists, of course.

Question 35: You have acknowledged that your troops in this war have committed mistakes in its prosecution against the rebels, and that anyone could be punished. So, how many mistakes are we talking about?

President Assad:  No, I didn’t say that. I never said that. I said there are always mistakes in any action; that’s a human…

Journalist: How many mistakes are we talking about? How many innocent civilians have been killed by your government’s mistakes?

President Assad:  Nobody knows, because thousands and thousands of those are missing people; nobody knows anything about their fate, nobody at all. So, you cannot tell till the end of this war.

Question 36: Was it a mistake to bomb hospitals in Aleppo?

President Assad: We never bombed hospitals in Aleppo. Why to bomb a hospital? Can you convince your audience that we have interest in bombing hospitals? Actually, this is against our interest. This is against our interest to bomb a hospital if it’s used as hospital, and the proof that it was a lie, every time they talk about bombing hospitals, every time they say this is the last hospital in eastern part of Aleppo, and the second time they talk about another hospital and they say the same; “they bombed the last hospital.” So, it’s lies and lies and lies. We can spend the whole interview talking about lies, and we can talk about the truth and reality. I have to talk about the reality.

Question 37: Is it a mistake to use barrel bombs and chlorine gas?

President Assad: You have to choose which part of the narrative is correct. Once they said we are using indiscriminate bombs and they called it barrel bombs. The other day, they said we targeted hospitals and schools and convoys. We either have precise armaments or we have indiscriminate armaments. So, which one do you choose?

Question 38: Well, you do acknowledge though that innocent civilians… there have been civilian casualties in this war?

President Assad: Of course, every war is a bad war, every war is a bad war. You cannot talk about good war. Let’s agree about this. Every war has causalities; every war has innocent people to pay the price. This is the bad thing about war. That’s why we need to end that war, but having casualties doesn’t mean not to defend our country against the terrorists and against the invasion from abroad through those proxies by foreign countries like the Western countries and the regional ones. This is self-evident.

Question 39: President Obama gave a speech in 2013 about US counter-terrorism efforts, including drone strikes, and he says while defending those strikes, nevertheless it is a hard fact that US strikes have resulted in civilian casualties from me and those in my chain of command, those deaths will haunt us as long as we live. Are you haunted by the deaths of innocent civilians caused by your government’s military actions?

President Assad: That’s an important example about the armament, it’s not about what bomb do you use, whether you call it barrel or any other name; it’s not about that. It’s about the way you use and your intentions. That’s why the state of the art drones with their missiles, the American ones, killed much more civilians than terrorists. So, it’s not about the drone, it’s not about the armaments; it’s about your intentions. In our case in Syria, of course we have to avoid the civilians, not only because they are our people and this is a moral issue; it’s actually because it’s going to play into the hands of the terrorists. If we kill the civilians intentionally, it means we are helping the terrorists. So, why would we do it, why we are defending the civilians and killing the civilians? It doesn’t work; this is contradiction. If we are killing the civilians, who are we defending in Syria? Against who and for who?

Question 40: You were asked just yesterday: are all means justified in this war, and you said, your answer was yes, it’s a duty. So, you can use every mean in order to defend the Syrian people.

President Assad: Exactly.

Journalist: Every mean?

President Assad: Every mean.

Journalist: Including torture?

President Assad: No, it’s not a defense; torture is not a defense. Why to use torture? What’s the relation between torture and defending your country?

Journalist: So, where you draw the line?

President Assad: You have rules, you have very clear rules like any army; when you want to defend your country, you use your armaments against the terrorists. This is the only rule that I’m talking about. This is all the means that you can use in order to defend your country militarily, if I’m talking about military. Of course, you have to defend it politically, economically, in every sense of the word. But if you talk militarily, torture is not part of defending your country.

Question 41: Last question: can you just give us your vision of a settlement of this conflict, and can it… under any circumstances, will you be willing to step aside if it can end this disaster of a war for the Syrian people?

President Assad: Definitely, for me, whenever the Syrian people don’t want me to be in that position, I will leave right away, this is a very simple answer for me and I don’t have to think about it, and I’m not worried about this. What I would worry about is if I’m in that position and I don’t have the public support; this is going to be a big problem for me and I can’t bear it, and I cannot produce anyway. Regarding the first part, how would I see the solution, two pillars: the first one is fighting terrorism; without fighting terrorism and defeating the terrorists, no other solution would be fruitful at all, at all, any kind of solution. In parallel, dialogue between the Syrians about the future of Syria, that will include anything, everything, regarding the whole political system, the whole Syria in every sense of the word, then when we can get elections, and you can have national unity government, then you can have parliamentarian elections, then if the Syrian people think about early presidential elections or any kind of presidential elections, that will be viable.

Journalist: So, earlier than the completion of your term, which I believe, is in 2021?

President Assad:  If there is public consensus about this.

Question 42: How would you determine whether there’s public consensus or not?

President Assad: We can discuss it at that time; it’s still early to talk about it. We haven’t finished any of the stages that I’m talking about. So, we never thought about how because we don’t know what circumstances are we going to face that time. But at the end, when you live in a country, you can sense; Syria is not a continent, it’s a small country, we can deal with each other, we can know each other as society. You can sense, you can feel if there is public consensus, and then if you want to do something documented, you can have referendum, that’s very clear.

Question 43: Do you have any cause for optimism?

President Assad: Of course, without that optimism we wouldn’t fight for six years. The only… the main optimism that we’ve had is that we’re going to defeat those terrorists and their masters, and we’re going to restore stability in Syria, and more important than my optimism is the determination of the Syrian people; this is very important source for optimism. Without that determination, you wouldn’t see Syria in these very difficult and exceptional circumstances still living the minimum life, let’s say, if not the normal life, but the minimum life, to survive, and for the government to offer different services and subsidies, and so on.

Journalist: Thank you Mr. President.

President Assad: Thank you very much.

US Suspends Plans to Seize Raqqa: President Trump Wants Russia to Join

US Suspends Plans to Seize Raqqa: President Trump Wants Russia to Join

PETER KORZUN | 05.02.2017 | WORLD

US Suspends Plans to Seize Raqqa: President Trump Wants Russia to Join

President Donald Trump’s administration has scrapped the previous administration’s plan to take Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State (IS) group. The plan proposed a strategy of training Kurdish forces, providing them with new equipment, and helping them retake the city.

US-supplied armored vehicles have only been delivered to the Syrian Arab Coalition (a part of the Syrian Democratic Forces – SDF), which is made up of militants predominantly from local Arab areas. The Kurdish components of SDF have been denied the aid not to spoil the US relations with Turkey.

According to the Washington Post, the officials said they were dismayed that there was no provision for coordinating operations with Russia and no clear political strategy to address Turkey, a country that would be angered by the US cooperation with the Kurds, and the lack of a plan B in case the Kurdish offensive failed. They also said the plan lacked specifics on the number of troops needed for the operation.

The operation Euphrates Anger was launched by US-backed SDF in November 2016. Obviously, President Trump sets much store by cooperation with Moscow in the fight against terrorists. He faces the problem of getting Turkey on board. Russia and the US could join together as intermediaries to facilitate talks between the Kurds and Turkey.

Turkey has excellent relations with the Iraqi Kurds who could also join in mediation effort. If progress is achieved, Washington will not let down the Syrian Kurds, cooperating with Ankara. Since January 18, Russia and Turkey, a US NATO ally, have been engaged in joint operation to retake Al Bab.

No success is achievable without sufficient ground forces. The Kurdish formations are not enough and there is a basis for joining together – the US and Turkey see eye to eye on the idea to create safe zones in Syria. Russia has agreed to discuss the issue in principle. It’s important that the Trump team is not as adamant as the previous administration about making Syrian President Assad resign.

Michael T. Flynn, Donald Trump’s new National Security Adviser, has always been critical of Obama’s Syria policy calling it inconsistent. He has supported the idea of the US and Russia cooperating in the fight against the IS. «We have to work constructively with Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia made a decision to be there (in Syria) and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic», Flynn told Der Spiegel in an interview.

President Donald Trump has stated that regime change in Syria would only cause more instability in the region. He thinks that shoring up President Assad is the most efficient way to stem the spread of terrorism. According to Mr. Trump’s statements, he would weigh an alliance with Russia against Islamic State militants.

On January 28, the president ordered military leaders to give him a report in 30 days that outlines a new strategy for defeating the IS. The document is expected to include recommendations on changes to military actions, diplomacy, coalition partners, mechanisms to cut off or seize the group’s financial support and a way to pay for the strategy.

The president charged Defense Secretary James Mattis with developing a plan with the help of the secretaries of State, Treasury and Homeland Security, the director of national intelligence, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the assistant to the president for national security affairs and the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism.

The order was signed hours after speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone – the first call between the leaders since Donald Trump took office. Mr. Putin emphasized that «for over two centuries Russia has supported the United States, was its ally during the two world wars, and now sees the United States as a major partner in fighting international terrorism».

With Donald Trump in office, a deal on coordinating activities is reachable. Joint operations to retake Raqqa would be a good start. The zones of influence and mutual obligations could be defined. Russia is ready to cooperate with the US during the operation to retake Raqqa. Last October, it was reported that Moscow planned to discuss the issue with the US officials.

Joining together, the parties could gradually move forward within the framework of Astana process and the UN-brokered talks to be revived in Geneva this month. The cooperation between Russia and the US is key to achieving progress in the Syria’s crisis management. It could spread to other areas of the bilateral relationship.

Actually, an offensive to liberate Raqqa is impossible without coordinating activities with Moscow. Russia, the US and Turkey are the pivotal actors in the conflict. The operation to retake Raqqa must be conducted with the consent of the Syria’s government. It is hard to imagine the US and Turkey discussing the issue with the government of Bashar Assad. Russia is perfectly suited to be a mediator.

And what comes next after Raqqa is retaken? Who and under what authority will govern? With the pertinent actors involved in the conflict holding different, even opposite, visions of the country’s future, there will have to be international presence and agreement on what to do next.

The cooperation between Russia, the US and Turkey during the battle for Raqqa could become a start of wider process with diplomacy given a chance. It could also become a start of Russia-US cooperation in Syria and other countries where the IS has presence.

Syria rejects Russia’s suggestions on autonomous communities in Syria, including Kurds

The Syrian government has rejected Kurdish autonomy to be included in a new draft constitution for the country being written by Russia.

Article 40 in the draft constitution called for decentralized “people’s societies”.

“The Kurdish cultural self-ruling systems and its organizations use both the Arabic and Kurdish languages equally,” the draft reads.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), however are refusing to budge that federalism can be the only solution.

The Syrian government has rejected local autonomy or recognition of the Kurdish language on an equal level to Arabic.

The difficulty would also mean that other minority languages would also need to be recognized including Greek, Aramaic, Turkish and many others that the PYD have not advocated for.

According to the Syrian state media, during the Syrian peace talks in Astana last week, the Syrian government envoy Bashar Jaafari, said that the issue of federalism would be decided “by all Syrians and not decided unilaterally by a single component,” adding that all ideas “even one as crazy as federalism, must be put to a democratic vote”

“It’s completely unacceptable for a group of people to decide to create a statelet and call it federalism,” Jaafari continued.

Russia, America, and the turn of the image in Syria روسيا وأميركا وانقلاب الصورة في سورية

Russia, America, and the turn of the image in Syria

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria and the impossibility of overthrowing the country and its President as in Tunisia and Egypt, Russia was a partner in the international decision concerning the politics and the war in Syria, starting with the veto that disabled the international cover which America needs to make the war directly, and ending with the Russian military deployment and positioning in Syria and in the Mediterranean Sea.

Practically five years ago was the date of the first veto on the Arab project to overthrow Syria according to Chapter VII, and its fall by the Russian Chinese veto. And the aggravated international dimension of the war on Syria which dominated over the local dimension.

The status of Russia and America as two partners was present till the moving of the US fleets towards targeting Syria which was disabled due to the field veto of the Russian missiles which said that all the possibilities are open, so the fleets returned back after face-saving by the Russians through a political solution that ends with the abandonment of Syria of its chemical weapons.

At the end of the mutual discovering of the limits of the mutual readiness for going to the war in Syria defending the visions, interests, and the considerations which means for more than a year after the positioning of the Russians militarily and the start of the attack to restore the initiative by the Syrian army and its allies, the Americans were behaving on a basis of an equation of hiding behind the war on ISIS to establish influence bases in Syria most notably is the Kurdish gate, and to make use of the remaining of ISIS in order to prolong the time of exhausting Syria and the resistance axis, as once Jeffrey Feltman said to the Lebanese Deputy Walid Jumblatt. After having control of the rules of the war on ISIS as the US exclusive specialization through playing under the table with Al Nusra front directly and through the armed factions which were nominated as moderate by Washington, and which were described by the Former US President Barack Obama as fantasy that has no existence, but where the extremism and Al-Qaeda is a common background for these factions. This dual containment which experienced by Washington in the field is the same which it did in the negotiations which led to an understanding that did not emerge to light, because it depends on the decision of the transition to the US confrontation against Al Nusra front and the participation with the Russians in the war on it, in exchange of the partnership of the Russians in the war on ISIS. This partnership in the two confrontations will mean the acceleration of the elimination of the two organizations by mobilizing the allies of each of Washington and Moscow in a war on two common fronts that ensures the swift end of the two organizations.

During more than a year Moscow has followed a plan in which it has combined between the war on Al Nusra and the war on the associated factions towards exerting pressure on the regional sponsor of the armed groups represented by Turkey and which forms the first ally in the campaign led by Washington, because it has the ability to affect the war on Syria. It has put Turkey between two choices either to lose everything with the end of these factions militarily or to accept the political path that ensures a role for Turkey and for the factions which it sponsored under the ceiling of dismantling their relation with Al Nusra. Despite the skepticism of many of the feasibility of this plan which was disabled once at the gates of Aleppo nearly a year ago and then resumed towards the liberation of Aleppo, Turkey has reached the difficult choice and has entered the planned path till Astana. Moscow was not in need of a decision taken by Turkey and its factions for the war on Al Nusra but for a statement that foreshadows of that war, to pave the way for Al Nusra to wage the war in anticipation and thus to recall the Turkish US intervention to protect what is left of these factions after the decision of Al Nusra of getting rid of them.

On the other bank, Turkey and its formations stumble in the war on ISIS in Al Bab city, while ISIS’s units attack the Syrian army in Deir Al Zour, after Al Raqqa and Mosul became threatened of fall during this year. So moving away to the south from the gate of Deir Al Zour became the available withdrawal plan for ISIS. Therefore, the real scene became a literal translation for what was desired by the Russian from the beginning. A scene in which the US aircraft is attacking sites of Al Nusra front and targeting its leaders, while the Russian strategic bombers attack ISIS’s sites and target its leaders. This field military exchange happens along with strategic military exchange, where the departure of the US fleets from the Mediterranean Sea coincides with the coming and the positioning of the Russian fleets. This scene is culminated by an exchange in the political position in the Syrian crisis. The importance moved from US sponsorship that was at the front lines and then followed by Moscow as a second partner, to become Russian sponsorship and the partnership is American as an observer or a little more, Iran which was waiting to be invited to Geneva becomes at the first places of the sponsors, while Saudi Arabia which put veto on the Iranian presence is now waiting.

The speech of the US President Donald Trump about safe zones in Syria will not change anything but it will end with a talk about an understanding with the Syrian government on areas to accommodate the displaced returnees.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

روسيا وأميركا وانقلاب الصورة في سورية

ناصر قنديل

– منذ بداية الأزمة في سورية واستعصاء إسقاط الدولة ورئيسها على الطريقة التونسية أو المصرية، وروسيا شريك في القرار الدولي الصانع للسياسة والحرب في سورية، بداية بالفيتو المعطّل للغطاء الدولي الذي يحتاجه الأميركي لجعل الحرب مباشرة، ونهاية بالانتشار والتموضع العسكري الروسي في سورية والبحر المتوسط. ومنذ خمس سنوات عملياً تاريخ أول تصويت على المشروع العربي لإسقاط سورية بالفصل السابع وسقوطه بالفيتو الروسي الصيني، والبعد الدولي المتعاظم للحرب في سورية وعليها يكبر ويسبق ويطغى على البعد المحلي فيها، ومكانة روسيا وأميركا كشريكين قائمة، لحدّ أن تحرك الأساطيل الأميركية نحو توجيه ضربة لسورية لم يكمل طريقه بسبب الفيتو الميداني لصواريخ روسية قالت إن الاحتمالات كلها مفتوحة، فعادت الأساطيل لكن محملة بماء وجه مَن أرسلها بعدما حفظه له الروس بحلّ سياسي ينتهي بتخلي سورية عن سلاحها الكيميائي.

– في منتصف الطريق ونهاية الاستكشاف المتبادل لحدود الاستعداد المتبادل في الذهاب للحرب في سورية دفاعاً عن الرؤى والمصالح والحسابات، أي منذ عام ونيّف بعد تموضع الروس عسكرياً وبدء هجوم استرداد زمام المبادرة للجيش السوري وحلفائه، والأميركيون يتصرفون على قاعدة معادلة قوامها، الاختباء وراء الحرب على داعش لتكوين قواعد نفوذ في سورية أبرزها عبر البوابة الكردية، واستخدام بقاء داعش وإطالة أمد استنزاف التنظيم لسورية ومحور المقاومة، كما قال ذات مرة جيفري فيلتمان للنائب اللبناني وليد جنبلاط، وبالمقابل بعد التحكم بقواعد الحرب على داعش كاختصاص حصري أميركي، اللعب تحت الطاولة مع جبهة النصرة مباشرة وعبر الفصائل المسلحة التي تسميها واشنطن بـ«المعتدلة»، وهي ذاتها التي وصفها الرئيس الأميركي السابق باراك اوباما بالفانتازيا التي لا وجود لها، حيث التطرف والقاعدة خلفية جامعة لهذه الفصائل كلها. وهذا الاحتواء المزدوج الذي مارسته واشنطن في الميدان هو ما فعلته ذاته في المفاوضات التي أنتجت تفاهماً لم يبصر نور التطبيق، لأنه يتوقف على قرار بالانتقال للمواجهة الأميركية مع جبهة النصرة والتشارك مع الروس في الحرب عليها، مقابل شراكة الروس معهم في الحرب على داعش، وهي شراكة في البعدين ستعني تسريع ساعة القضاء على التنظيمين بحشد حلفاء كل من واشنطن وموسكو في حرب على جبهتين مشتركتين تكفل نهاية سريعة للتنظيمين.

– خاضت موسكو خطة مقابلة خلال عام ونيف جمعت بين الحرب على النصرة والفصائل المتموضعة معها، وصولاً للضغط على الراعي الإقليمي للفصائل المسلحة الذي تمثله تركيا، ويشكل الحليف الأول في المعكسر الذي تقوده واشتطن لجهة القدرة على التأثير في الحرب على سورية، ووضع تركيا بالحصيلة بين خياري خسارة كل شيء بنهاية هذه الفصائل عسكرياً، أو القبول بمسار سياسي يحفظ دوراً لتركيا وللفصائل التي ترعاها تحت سقف الانفصال عن النصرة، ورغم تشكيك الكثيرين بجدوى هذه الخطة، التي توقفت مرة عند أبواب حلب قبل عام تقريباً، وعادت فأكملت طريقها لتحرير حلب، وصلت تركيا إلى الخيار الصعب ودخلت المسار المرسوم حتى استانة، ولم تكن موسكو بحاجة لقرار حرب تتخذه تركيا وفصائلها للحرب على النصرة، بل لبيان يبشر بهذه الحرب، حتى تتكفل النصرة بخوض الحرب استباقاً، وتستدعي تدخلاً تركياً وأميركياً لحماية ما تبقى من هذه الفصائل بعد قرار النصرة بتصفيتها.

– على ضفة مقابلة تتعثر تركيا وفصائلها في الحرب على داعش في مدينة الباب وتهاجم وحدات داعش الجيش السوري في دير الزور، بعدما صارت الرقة والموصل خطوطاً مهدّدة بالسقوط خلال هذا العام، وصار النزوح جنوباً من بوابة دير الزور خطة الانسحاب المتاحة لداعش، فصار المشهد الواقعي ترجمة حرفية لما أراده الروس منذ البداية، مشهد تغير فيه الطائرات الأميركية على مواقع جبهة النصرة وتستهدف قادتها فيما تغير القاذفات الاستراتيجية الروسية على مواقع داعش وتستهدف قياداتها. ويحدث هذا التبادل العسكري الميداني جنباً إلى جنب مع تبادل عسكري استراتيجي، حيث يتزامن رحيل الأساطيل الأميركية من المتوسط مع قدوم وتمركز الأساطيل الروسية فيه، ويتوّج المشهد تبادل في الموقع السياسي في الأزمة السورية فينتقل الثقل من رعاية أميركية تتقدم الصفوف وتليها موسكو شريكاً ثانياً، لتصير الرعاية روسية والشراكة أميركية بصفة مراقب أو أكثر قليلاً، وتصير إيران في الصفوف الأولى للرعاة، بينما كانت تقف على باب انتظار دعوة إلى جنيف، لتبادلها السعودية التي وضعت الفيتو على الحضور الإيراني الجلوس في قاعة الانتظار.

– لا يغيّر من هذا بشيء حديث الرئيس الأميركي دونالد ترامب عن مناطق آمنة في سورية، ستنتهي بالحديث عن تفاهم مع الحكومة السورية على مناطق لإيواء النازحين العائدين.

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