TURKISH OPERATION PEACE SPRING IN NORTHEASTERN SYRIA, EXPLAINED

South Front

10.10.2019

Turkey officially announced that it had launched a military operation in northeastern Syria. Over the past years, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other representatives of the country’s leadership have repeatedly announced this idea. However, this time promises were turned into reality.

On October 6, the administration of US President Donald Trump released a statement saying that Turkey will soon carry out its “long-planned operation” into northern Syria. According to the statement, US forces will not “support or be involved in the operation” and “will no longer be in the immediate area”. The announcement came following a phone conversation between the US and Turkish presidents.

On October 7, US forces started withdrawing from their positons along a large chunk of the Syrian-Turkish border. US military garrisons in Tel Abyad, Tel Musa, Tel Hinzir and Tel Arqam were abandoned. US patrols in the border area were halted. The Pentagon provided no details regarding the number of troops withdrawn from the border. US mainstream media outlets mention the numbers from 50 to 100.

This US decision caused a kind of panic among leaders and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). They simultaneously called the US decision a backstab, asked the US-led coalition to establish a no-fly zone ‘like in Iraq’ and declared their readiness to resume negotiations with Russia and the Assad government, which they just a few weeks ago were calling a ‘bloody regime’.

Kurdish armed groups, mainly the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), are the core of the SDF. The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) dominates in the self-proclaimed administration of northeastern Syria. Ankara names the YPG, the YPJ and the PYD terrorist groups because of their links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). This separatist group is engaged in a long-standing guerrilla war against the Turkish state in an attempt to establish an independent Kurdish state on territory of southeastern Turkey. The PYD and its military wings pursue similar goals in northeastern Syria.

Ankara has reasonable concerns that funds, weapons, equipment and training provided by the US to Kurdish armed groups in northern Syria will later be used by the PKK in its fight against the Turkish government. The US-Turkish ‘safe zone’ agreement on northern Syria was designed to remove these concerns. Turkey insisted that Kurdish armed groups should be removed from the border and disarmed, or, at least, the US should stop supplying them with weapons and equipment. However, this did not happen. The peak of the US-Turkish coordination over this question was several joint patrols along the border.

By evening of October 9, Turkey had put its proxy forces on a high alert and the Turkish Air Force had bombed SDF positions near Tell Abyad, Ras al-Ayn, Kobane and al-Qamishli. The Operation Peace Spring started.

President Erdogan says that its goals are to neutralize “terror threats” along the border, establish a real safe zone and facilitate return of Syrian refugees to their homes. Besides the anti-terror declarations, one of the main points of the Turkish public rhetoric is the oppression of Arab locals by Kurdish militias.

If the Operation Peace Spring develops like Turkish operations in al-Bab and Afrin, Ankara will use its proxy groups as a first line of the ground advance and a shield for Turkish personnel deployed on the ground. Artillery, warplanes and special forces of the Turkish military will be the main striking power. Pro-Turkish sources say that about 15,000-20,000 members of pro-Turkish groups have already been mobilized. If this is true, the total number of personnel, including Turkish servicemembers, involved in the operation may reach 30,000.

At the first phase of the advance, Turkey will likely to get control of the area of the non-implemented US-Turkish safe zone. Some Turkish sources speculate that in the event of success the Turkish Army may push even towards Deir Ezzor. However, this remains unlikely in the current military and diplomatic situation in the region.

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – OCTOBER 9, 2019: SDF SEEKS COOPERATION WITH ‘BLOODY ASSAD’ AGAINST TURKEY

South Front

The withdrawal of US troops from the Turkish border has caused a kind of panic among the leadership of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, which mostly consist of Kurdish militias.

On October 7, the group already speculated that the Syrian Army is preparing to capture the town of Manbij taking an upper hand of the US troops’ withdrawal. The Syrian military in fact deployed reinforcements near the area. Pro-government sources say the army is preparing to act in response to a possible Turkish military operation.

On October 8, the Turkish Armed Forces announced that they had carried out strikes on the Syrian-Iraqi border in order to prevent Kurdish groups from using the route to reinforce their positions in northeastern Syria. Ankara expects that units of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which it recognizes as a terrorist group, could be re-deployed from northern Iraq to the Syrian-Turkish border.

Almost immediately after first Turkish strikes, the SDF leadership announced that it is ready to consider resuming talks with Damascus, and therefore Russia. Earlier, the group sabotaged all Damascus attempts to settle the existing differences through political measures by demanding the Syrian government to de-facto recognize and fund a de-facto independent state with own military within Syria. Now, when the SDF’s key ally has once again appeared to be not ready to sacrifice its geo-strategic interests to create a Kurdish state in Syria, the SDF is once again seeking negotiations with the ‘bloody Assad regime.’

At the same time, the Turkish military and Turkish proxies continue their preparations for a possible military action against Kurdish militias. Recently, a Turkish military convoy was spotted near the town of Jarabulus. In the event of a military operation, the town will become an important logistical point.

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Syria Condemns Turkish Aggressive and Expansionist Policies in Syria

09 October 2019 15:08

DAMASCUS, (ST)-The Syrian Arab Republic condemns in the strongest terms the Turkish regime’s aggressive intentions, reckless remarks and military buildup at the Syrian borders, stressing that this behavior flagrantly violates the international law and the Security Council resolutions which all call for respecting Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, an official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said on Wednesday.

Erdogan’s regime’s aggressive behavior proves the Turkish expansionist aspirations in the Syrian territories and it can’t be justified under any pretext, added the source, affirming Syria’s determination to confront the Turkish aggression by all possible legitimate means.

The source pointed out that the Turkish regime’s claims about borders’ security are belied by this regime’s disregarding of Adana Agreement which guarantees the security of the borders between the two countries if Erdogan’s government abides by its items.

The source went on to say that Syria holds some Kurdish groups responsible for what is going on because of their complete subordination to the American policies and schemes, pointing out that Syria has repeatedly warned the Kurds of the danger of these schemes and against being tools to serve the American plans against their country.

Syria reiterates that its sovereignty and territorial integrity are a red line and reaffirms its determination to confront the Turkish aggression by all possible legitimate means, according to the source.

“Syria is ready to embrace all its misled citizens if they reconsider and correct their actions aiming to preserve the country’s safety and unity,” the source stresses.

The source concluded by saying that Syria reminds that if Erdogan insists on carrying on his aggression, he will place himself on an equal footing with the terrorist gangs and he will completely lose his position as a guarantor of Astana process on finding settlement in Syria.

Hamda Mustafa

Turkish regime army kills and wounds dozens of civilians in its attack on the northeast of Syria

09 October 2019 21:28

The Turkish regime army has launched intensive strikes on Raes al-Ayin city in the northwestern countryside of Hasaka province and on several towns in the province’ countryside as well as on Tal Abyad area in the northern countryside of Raqqa.

The attack targeted silos and infrastructures in the city of Raes al-Ayin and the sites of the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ militia in the north of Raqqa and in the countryside of Hasaka.

At least 2 civilians were martyred in Tal Zyab town and 4 children were wounded in Raes al-Ayin countryside to the west of Hasaka in the Turkish attack.

In addition, 3 children plus a woman were martyred when a shell fired by the Turkish regime army hit a house in Bashiryah neighborhood in Qameshli city.

14 other civilians were wounded during the Turkish attack on residential areas in the same city.

The Turkish regime army also killed 8 civilian and wounded 20 others in its attacks on Raes al-Ayin city.

Thus, the current number of casualties reached up to 14 martyrs and 38 wounded people.

In another development, the SDF militia set some oil wells in the northern countryside of Hasaka on fire and burned wheels in most neighborhoods of Raes al-Ayin city. It, in addition, burned documents inside its headquarter in the city.

The Turkish regime army stopped its bombing alongside the borderline and started to remove cement blocks in order to pave the way for a potential ground invasion.

There was also an exchange of artillery fire between the Turkish regime army and the SDF militia at an area located between Raes al-Ayin in the northern countryside of Hasaka nd Tal Abyad area in the northern countryside of Raqqa

Basma Qaddour

International Reactions to Turkish Aggression on the Syrian Territories

09 October 2019

CAPITALS, (ST)- The Turkish regime on Wednesday launched a military operation in the north of Syria alleging that it is “protecting its border security against the Kurdish militias”.

This aggressive move has provoked strong international condemnation mainly from the European countries.

The European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urged Turkey to stop its military operation in Syria, according to Reuters.

The agency reported that Juncker called on Turkey and other influential parties to “show restraint”,  quoting him as saying “if the plan involves the creation of a so-called safe zone, don’t expect the EU to pay for any of it”.

The French Secretary of State for European Union Affairs Amelie de Montchalin announced that France, Britain and Germany have called on the Security Council to convene in order to discuss the Turkish aggression in the north of Syria. According to Montchalin, the three countries were finalizing a joint statement condemning the Turkish military operation.

Later, western diplomats announced that the Security Council will hold a closed session on Thursday to discuss the Turkish aggression on the Syrian territories.

Also, Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod tweeted: “Deeply concerned about Turkish military operation in Syria. In my view, this is a regrettable and wrong decision, which can have serious consequences for civilians and the fight against ISIL (Islamic State). Turkey must show restraint.”

Reacting to the Turkish aggression, the Dutch Foreign Ministry summoned the Turkish ambassador in Amsterdam to protest against the new dangerous development. It called on the Turkish regime not to continue this operation.

On his part, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said he hoped Turkey’s operation in Syria would be “measured and proportionate.”

Aggression will Strengthen Daesh and aggravate tension in the region

The Syrian news Agency (SANA) said that  the German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass strongly condemned the Turkish aggression on the Syrian territory, warning that this aggression will aggravate tension in the region and strengthen Daesh terrorist organization. He urged Turkey to end the operation.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte stressed that the Turkish aggression on the Syrian territories will further destabilize the region and cause harm to civilians.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recepe Tayyib Erdogan reiterated the need to respect Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called on Turkey not to undermine or endanger the efforts aiming at solving the crisis in Syria, SANA said.

The agency also reported that the Egyptian Foreign Ministry affirmed Egypt’s strong condemnation of the Turkish aggression and called for maintaining Syria’s sovereignty, national unity and territorial integrity.

Rouhani Advises the Kurdish groups in Syria to join forces with the Syrian Army

Meanwhile in Tehran,  Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the Syrian military is the only power that can ensure security along the country’s northern borders with Turkey.

In a statement on Wednesday, Rouhani said  that all sides involved need to help set the stage for conditions that would allow the Syrian army’s presence in the region.

He added that security in the border region also required the withdrawal of American forces from the territory.

Rouhani further advised Kurdish forces in Syria to join forces with the Syrian military, stressing that “Syria is their rightful homeland”, according to Press TV.

The Turkish government has played a major role in supporting various terrorist groups fighting the Syrian government.

In the meantime, western diplomats announced that the Security Council will hold a closed session on Thursday to discuss the Turkish aggression on the Syrian territories.

Hamda Mustafa

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Russian-Kurdish Negotiations in Moscow: Turkey Has Defined Its Options and Washington Is Trying to Gain Time

By Elijah. J. Magnier
Source

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Secret negotiations are ongoing in Moscow and Damascus between representatives of the Syrian Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and Russian officials concerning the fate of Kurdish militants in Syria. The Kurdish delegation is hoping that Russia – and not the US – will adopt the role of guarantor of their safety and is trying to gain a few more concessions to reduce their losses when the Syrian government forces regains complete control of al-Hasaka province in Northeast Syria.

This will happen only when the US establishment finally decides to pull out its last soldier and ends its occupation of al-Hasaka. PKK representatives have offered a “road map” meant to include promises of protection, the sharing of wealth and the security of borders with Turkey. The US is trying to offload responsibility for the Kurds’s safety onto Turkey, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rebuffed US requests to offer this kind of protection to his PKK enemies in Syria. Erdogan is evidently putting his strategic-commercial alliance with Russia ahead of his turbulent NATO alliance with the USA.

The Kurdish militant group known variously as YPG, the People’s Protection Units, and the PKK (Syrian branch) is convinced the time has come to climb off the US’s shoulders onto Russian ones since Washington has decided to drop them off the Turkish cliff. Nevertheless, Syrian officials are also determined to give no concessions to the Kurds notwithstanding the Russian mediation with Damascus.

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The militant Kurds of Syria have only now begun to realise how vulnerable their position is: they are weaker than ever due to the US decision to withdraw and the naïve requests – formulated by both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton – for Ankara to offer protection to its sworn enemies. It looks like officials in Washington have no plans for the Kurds. Indeed, while the US is expressing concern about the Kurds it would like somebody else to look after them. The US shows little appreciation for the sacrifices made by YPG militants – who have acted as human shields for the American forces during their time in al-Hasaka province in northeast Syria – and the thousands of casualties they have suffered. Even worse, Trump laughed about Kurdish fighting capabilities by sarcastically saying the Kurds “fight better when we fight with them and when we send 30 F-18’s in front of them”.

So the Kurds have finally learned their lesson and would like to be part of the Syrian state. They have seen the world watching – impotently, unwilling to intervene against Turkey – the exodus of hundreds of thousands from Afrin. They have heard Trump’s decision to abandon them. With his departure, their dream of Rojava, the long-awaited Kurdish state, evaporates.

For Damascus, had Turkey occupied the north of Syria, it would have been possible to exert diplomatic and international leverage on Ankara to force its departure from Syrian territory. At the same time, it would have been almost impossible for the Syrian government to force an early departure of the US forces had these established themselves in Afrin or al-Hasaka, offering a platform for Israel to use the Levant by benefitting from American infrastructure in the area.

President Bashar al-Assad has said to the Russian negotiators that “Syria belongs to all Syrians and the Kurds are part of Syria. Therefore they should not enjoy more or fewer rights than any other citizens. They will be given identities but are not entitled to any special concessions”. Moreover, Assad has agreed not to consider the Kurds as traitors despite their protection of the US occupation forces. He has insisted that the only force operating on the national territory be the one belonging to the Syrian army under the control of the central government.

The Kurds welcomed the Syrian army in the area still under their control. Turkey has accepted to keep its forces and those of its Syrian proxies away from Manbij as long as the Kurdish militants are disarmed. Russia proposed and obtained the withdrawal of the Kurdish forces, re-establishing its observation posts, patrolling west of Manbij. Erdogan still hopes to reach a deal over North Syria during his forthcoming meeting with President Putin, expected sometime in January. The presence of thousands of Syrian jihadists and armed proxies at the gates of Manbij is further weakening the Kurdish negotiation position. They have no other place to seek refuge but in Damascus.

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President Erdogan has managed to keep a balance between his relationships with Moscow and Washington even if his choices in Syria seem already made. Russia offers a stable durable and equal economic and strategic partnership with Turkey whereas the US has no consistent friends at all, only common interests. Moreover, the US forces have armed the Kurdish militants, the enemies of Turkey, where Russia will agree to disarm them and put an end to their military power. Trump’s apparent willingness to revoke any deal (the Iranian nuclear agreement) or give up on his allies (the Kurds) is helping to push Turkey into Russia’s arms.

If the US agrees to donate the weapons it has equipped the Kurds with, this arsenal will happily end up in the Syrian army inventory. If not, the Kurds will be vulnerable to the 1500 remaining ISIS fighters on the Euphrates river, particularly if the US disarms the Kurds and pulls out before the arrival of the Syrian army. The forces of Damascus and their allies have eliminated tens of thousands of ISIS militants in various cities, villages and in the Syrian steppe, and this without the benefit of 30 US F-18’s. The end of ISIS control of Syrian territory will be a game-changer in the Levant even if its “hit and run” insurgency will not disappear so easily. The dream of establishing an “Islamic State” in the Levant and Mesopotamia is, like “Rojava”, an unachievable and abandoned objective.

The US says it will remain around the al-Tanf crossing between Iraq and Syria. The establishment’s excuse for this presence has been to stop the Tehran-Baghdad-Damascus-Beirut bridge. Iran has been supplying Syria with weapons for over seven years of intensive multi-front continuous war. It has supplied Hezbollah with weapons and finance from 1982 until now. The US presence may disturb a possible railway or land road between Iran and Lebanon but cannot disrupt the established supply of weapons. The cost of air or sea shipment is indeed higher but so too are the costs of a prolonged US presence at al-Tanf, in the middle of the Syrian-Iraqi desert. The US is trying to gain time in Syria: in fact it is just wasting it.

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – NOVEMBER 14, 2018: TURKISH-PKK CONFLICT ESCALATES AMID FRESH PKK ATTACKS

The People’s Defense Forces (HPG), a military wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), claimed that it had attacked 6 military bases in the southern Turkish provinces of Hakkari and Sirnak on November 9 and November 10. The HPG stated that 17 Turkish soldiers were killed and 32 others were wounded as a result of the attack. 8 soldiers are also missing, according to the HPG.

It should be noted that early on November 10 that the PKK also carried out an attack on several targets inside and south of the capital of Sirnak province with seven armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). According to Turkish sources, the UAVs failed to reach their targets due to technical failures and possible jamming by the Turkish military.

The province of Sirnak borders both northern Syria and Iraq. An interesting thing is that the recent PKK attacks confirm multiple Turkish statements that Kurdish armed groups operating in these areas, mostly the People’s Protection Units (YPG), pose a direct threat to the Turkish national security.

On November 13, 4 members of YPG-affiliated security forces were killed in the northern Syrian town of Manbij. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack via its news agency Amaq.

Manbij as well as the YPG-held areas east of the Euphrates River have been repeatedly described by Turkish leadership as a target of the upcoming anti-YPG operation. In late October, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) delivered several strikes on YPG positions near the town of Kobani and deployed additional troops and equipment in southern Turksih provinces bordering the YPG-held area.

In November, Saif Abu Bakr, Military Chief of the Turkish-backed militant group Hamza Division, declared that members of his group are ready to participate in a large-scale operation against the YPG east of the Euphrates.

The YPG is the core of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The US support to the SDF is the reason of constant tensions between Ankara and Washington. For example, on November 12, Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu slammed the US “double-faced policy” towards Turkey addressing the continued US support to Kurdish armed groups in northern Syria. He also said that the US receives 20% of the YPG revenue from the oil fields seized in the war-torn country.

If the US continues its political and military support to the YPG and the group will consolidate its power over the Arab areas captured in northeastern Syria setting a foothold for further PKK attacks on targets in southern Turkey, the Ankara-Washington relations will likely deteriorate further.

Turkey Warns That PKK Terror Group Controls 80% of Europe’s Drug Trade

By Adam Garrie
Source

While the PKK terror group has killed 40,000 people in less than forty years including Turkish military officers and police, civilians, tourists and the ethnic Kurds that the PKK falsely claims to represent, this statistic does not include the multitude of further deaths caused by the illegal inter-continental narcotics trade controlled by PKK terrorists. Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu has recently warned his European Union partners to be on guard against the PKK’s narco-network in Europe. According to Soylu,

“Especially in Europe, the PKK controls 80 percent of the drug trade and it is estimated that the terror group earns around $1.5 billion per year.

…In other words, [drug dealers] are continuously inventing new drugs. The production of drugs is also increasing. The area of opium cultivation in Afghanistan was 17,000 hectares in 2002. The U.S. intervened there to bring peace and democracy; it was such an intervention that the cultivation area jumped to 328,000 hectares in 2017. Opium production increased from 4,800 tons in 2016 to 9,000 tons in 2017, an increase of 63 percent in a year”.

The Interior Minister further detailed how Turkish authorities are stepping up their fight against narcotics, but cautioned that all nations much be vigilant against this threat. He further detailed the nature of the drugs trafficked and sold by the PKK including heroin, cocaine, meth, so-called “ecstasy” and most worryingly the notorious captagon – the drug of choice for Daesh an al-Qaeda terrorists. Soylu stated,

“If I tell you that we have captured 15,821,096 captagon pills from street dealers in the first 10 months, we can make a clear picture in the minds of the public regarding the scale of our fight on the field”.

To understand the importance of captagon to international terror networks in terms not only of selling the drug but in respect of distributing it among murderous terrorists, one must trace the origins of the drug’s popularity to recent wars throughout the Middle East and Africa.

In 2011, when Libyan Revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi appeared before his nation saying that seditious elements and foreign agitators were on narcotics and thus deprived of their own cognitive abilities, he was laughed at by the western mainstream media who cheered on his subsequent assassination at the hands of al-Qaeda proxies working with the US, UK and France.

It turns out that Gaddafi was absolutely correct. Drugs have become a staple of the modern terrorist’s diet. From Libya to Syria and Iraq to Philippines, warped young men without a real knowledge of any particular faith or ideology are taking vast amounts of drugs in order to give them the physical stamina combined with mental incapacity, which allows them to carry out barbaric atrocities without cessation.  If it ever seemed odd that young men turn to terrorism which will often lead to their own death, as well as the death of others, without any promise of earthly remuneration, this is because even among the poor or the mentally challenged, terrorism is typically unthinkable.

It is the promise and delivery of mind altering drugs which pushes young people into terrorism, rather than mythical notions about an un-Islamic and un-Christian afterlife. In this sense, the difference between a young man turning to drug dealing or robbery, has the same basic origins as those who turn to terrorism. In most societies it is a slippery slope. It is no coincidence that many well known terrorists were fond of alcohol, prostitutes and so-called recreational drugs prior to committing their atrocities. While alcoholism, the taking of narcotics and the frequenting of harlots is prohibited in Islam, these actions are de rigueur in respect of the lifestyles that surround the narco-trade. Thus, terrorism is anything but a “problem with Islam”, it is a geopolitical problem whose foot-soldiers are fuelled by dangerous drugs.

While there are many drugs used by terrorists, well-known narcotics such as cocaine is at best, a second favourite among today’s killers. The 21st century terrorist’s drug of choice is a pill called captagon whose effects while similar to cocaine, are even more extreme, making its users capable of super-human violence while totally erasing what remains of a human conscience.

Captagon has been found among Daesh (ISIS) and al-Qaeda fighters in LibyaIraqSyria, as well as in terrorist shipping roots in France and Italy, just to name a few. But other drugs also play their role. Philippine President Duterte has waged a war against drug addicts, drug dealers and the criminal networks built up around both. These networks include not only mafioso gangs, but Daesh aligned terrorist organisations. Soldiers in The Philippines have discovered that the Daesh aligned Maute Group who for months occupied the city of Marawi  in Mindanao, were taking the drug known as Shabu, a powerful methamphetamine which has been at the root of South East Asia’s drug problem.

Recently, it came to be known that the terrorists who slaughtered civilians last year on England’s London Bridge and surrounding areas, were on powerful steroids. But it is not just Daesh and al-Qaeda related terrorists who are fuelled by drugs. Most of the so-called mass shooters in recent US history, have been under the influence of narcotics both during and before their killing sprees. This includes Stephen Paddock, the man who committed the biggest mass shooting in US history last year in Las Vegas.

The plague of narcotics is directly related to terrorism at the point of sale, the point of cultivation and more often than not at the point of ingestion. The seriousness of the drug fuelled element of international terrorism however still remains silenced throughout Europe as does the PKK’s invasion of the European Union.

As the PKK expands its killing machine in Europe, the dangerous terror group is also spreading its narco-network throughout the world, including and especially in Europe. It is therefore imperative that the EU works with Turkey to set up a new anti-PKK/anti-narcotics task force before more damage to human life is done by terrorists without regard for humanity.

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