Militants leaving Syria’s Douma under deal with government

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – APRIL 2, 2018: MILITANTS START THEIR WITHDRAWAL FROM KEY TOWN OF DOUMA

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On March 31, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies established a full control over the southern part of the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta after units of Faylaq al-Rahman and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) had fully withdrawn from the area.

The Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria revealed that a total of 41,126 militants and their family members had left the settlements of Erbin, Jobar, Ein Tarma and Zamalka. Meanwhile, 153,140 civilians have been evacuated since the start of humanitarian pauses in the area.

The area of Douma, controlled by Jaish al-Islam, remains the only point of tensions in the area. On April 1, the Syrian state-run news agency SANA said that an evacuation of militants had been started in Douma. However, later on the same day, Political leader of Jaysh al-Islam Mohamad Alloush denied that his group had reached an evacuation agreement with the Damascus government. According to Alloush, the only reached agreement was aimed at extending the ceasefire in the area.

According to pro-government sources, militants evacuated from Douma were members of Faylaq al-Rahman, not Jaish al-Islam. These militants had retreated to Douma during the earlier SAA advance in the center of Eastern Ghouta.

On March 31, the SAA once again threatened Jaish al-Islam with a military operation if the group does not accept the reconciliation deal. Nonetheless, by April 2 morning, the operation has not been started.

On March 30, two servicemembers of the US-led coalition were killed in an explosion of improvised explosive device in Syria. On March 31, the coalition revealed their identities: Master Sergeant Jonathan Dunbar of the US military and Sergeant Matt Tonroe of the UK military.

According to Alan TV journalist Jenan Mosua, the incident took place near the Sheikh Akil graveyard in the southern part of the city of Manbij and two members of the Kurdish Women’s Protection Units were also wounded in the incident.

Local sources from Manbij also noted that the US-led coalition had increased a number of troops deployed in the area following the incident.
Pro-Kurdish sources blame the IED attack on Turkish-backed armed groups. According to this version, Turkey may use its proxies to increase “costs” of the US-led coalition military presence in Manbij. Turkish leadership have repeatedly claimed that Manbij may become a target of the Turkish military operation in northern Syria.

According to pro-opposition sources, on March 31, Russian warplanes conducted a series of airstrikes on militant positions in the areas of Ariha, al-Dana and Jisr al-Shughur in northwestern Hama. The Syrian pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi also reported that Russian warplanes had destroyed the bridges of al-Jaid, al-Sharia and Twinah.

Some pro-government activists immediately described the alleged Russian airstrikes as a sign of the upcoming anti-terrorist military operation in the area. However, this scenario is highly unlikely:

  • This area is a part of Idlib de-escalation zone;
  • The SAA is currently involved in a series of complicated operations in the Damascus countryside;

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MILITARY SITUATION IN EASTERN GHOUTA ON APRIL 2, 2018 (MAP)

On April 2, two buses arrived the Duma area of Eastern Ghouta in order to evacuate some Jaish al-Islam members and their families from the area to the Turkish-occupied town of Jarabulus in northern Syria, according to the Syrian state-run news agency SANA.

According to media reports, a total of 50 buses will be used to evacuate Jaish al-Islam members and their families from the area. However, no details were provided on the departue of militants and where it will be made.

On April 1, SANA reported that Jaish al-Islam had accepted an evacuation deal in Eastern Ghouta. However, later on the same day, Political leader of Jaysh al-Islam Mohamad Alloush denied that the deal had been reached. MORE DETAILS

Military Situation In Eastern Ghouta On April 2, 2018 (Map)

Click to see the full-size map

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VIDEO: Syrian war reporters drive their vehicle through 20 km-long rebel tunnel in east Damascus – details on how it was built

 BEIRUT LEBANON (8:55 P.M.) – The Alikhbaria Syria news channel has released an exclusive video report (below) showing what appears the be the largest rebel tunnel ever discovered in the Syrian War.

The tunnel, located in Damascus’ East Ghouta region, is twenty kilometers long. It connected rebel positions and underground bases throughout the once militant-controlled districts of Jobar, Ayn Tarma and Arbeen.

As the video shows, the tunnel is wide enough to allow the Syrian war reporters drive through it in their van.

One of the people present with the Alikhbaria Syria news team (front passenger seat) was captured by insurgents earlier in the war, only recently being released following the capitulation of rebel forces in East Ghouta. He claims that militants used civilian and Syrian Army hostages to dig the tunnel.

The tunnel allowed rebels to relocate forces throughout vast areas of East Ghouta without being detected and attacked by Syrian and Russian warplanes.

Jaish al-Islam Militants Start Evacuating From Douma Area In Eastern Ghouta – State-Run Media

On April 1, Jaish al-Islam militants started evacuating from the Douma area in Eastern Ghouta under a deal with the Syrian government, according to the country’s state-run news agency SANA.
“SANA’s correspondent at al-Wafidin Camp at the outskirts of Douma said that a number of buses and vehicles belonging to the Red Crescent are gathering near the safe corridor leading to al-Wafidin Camp in preparation to enter Douma and begin transporting Failaq al-Rahman terrorists to Idleb.
This comes less than 24 hours after the Syrian Arab Army declared the towns of Zamalka, Erbin, Ein Tarma, and Jobar clear of terrorism after the exit of all terrorists and their families from them to Idleb. More than 41,000 terrorists and their family members exited Eastern Ghouta during the past 8 days.
The correspondent said that an agreement was reached to have Jaish al-Islam leave Douma and go to Jarablos, while those who remain will have their legal status settled and the state establishments will return in full to Douma city.
The agreement also stipulates for the terrorists to turn over all civilian and military abductees and the bodies of martyrs, along with handing over their heavy and medium weapons to the state, the correspondent added,” SANA reported.
Jaish al-Islam Militants Start Evacuating From Douma Area In Eastern Ghouta - State-Run Media
Click to see the full-size map
—-

Update: Free Syrian Army fighters stranded in Damascus’ Douma city evacuated to north Syria

Picture source: Aleppo Media Center (AMC)
BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:47 P.M.) – Despite the fact that Faylaq al-Rahman (Free Syrian Army affiliate) rebels operated far away from Douma city in Damascus’ East Ghouta region, it has become apparent that some group’s fighters nonetheless got stranded in the Jaysh al-Islam stronghold.
In any case, as of Sunday, all Faylaq al-Rahman that found themselves besieged in Douma alongside Jaysh al-Islam militants have since been evacuated to Syria’s northern province of Idlib; hundreds of civilians have departed with them.
It is unclear exactly how many Faylaq al-Rahman rebels (dozens or hundreds) left Douma, information on this may emerge later.
As for Jaysh al-Islam, evacuation of its fighters (i.e. those who have chosen not to reconcile with the Syrian government) to areas of Aleppo province under Turkish-backed rebel forces control so far only includes those who are injured; standing militants are yet to depart.
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Syrian War Report – March 30, 2018: Russian Forces Foil Series Of Suicide Bombings In Eastern Ghouta

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Russian military have foiled attempted suicide bombings on busses carrying militants and their families withdrawing from the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu revealed on March 29.

“We get information from ordinary people every day,” he said. “We received a report on provocations involving suicide bomber belts four days ago. It suggested the suicide bombers would be placed to the busses carrying the refugees.”

Russian military found seven belts on March 26, 32 belts on March 27 and nine belts on March 28.

Syrian pro-government activists believe that members of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda), which are a part of the evacuation deal, may have been behind the attempted suicide bombings clearly aimed at sabotaging the ongoing evacuation agreement.

According to the Russian Defense Minister, a total of 11 thousand militants and 19 thousand members of their families have been moved from the area under an evacuation deal. Over 130 thousand civilians have left East Ghouta to the government-held areas.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov added that “about 90 percent of Eastern Ghouta is already under control of government forces.”

However, the district of Douma still remains in the hands of the Jaish al-Islam militant group.

On the same day, units of the Russian Military Police was redeployed in the city of Tell Rifaat and the Menagh airbase, southeast of the Turkish-occupied area of Afrin, according to several Turkish and Syrian opposition sources.

If the deployment is confirmed, this will mean that Russia is set to prevent any further Turkish advances in the area despite remarks by Turkish President Erdogan that Turkish forces are set to capture the Tell Rifaat.

In the province of Deir Ezzor, the Syrian Army and the National Defense Forces, backed up by Liwa al-Quds, launched a security operation against remaining ISIS cells in the area south of al-Mayadin. The operation is likely a response to the increased activity of the terrorist group in eastern Syria.

ISIS is still capable of using the Syrian-Iraqi border area for its illegal activity and conducting hit and run attacks, which are mostly focused on Iraqi and Syrian government forces.

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الغوطة تكسر ظهر ترامب

 

الغوطة تكسر ظهر ترامب

مارس 30, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– لنبدأ من الحرب الدبلوماسية التي تستهدف روسيا بأمر عمليات، وتساءل لو كانت العلاقات السياسية مبنية بين الدول على القانون كما تدّعي لندن وواشنطن ومَن معهما لكان الطبيعي بعد حادث التسمّم لسيرغي سكريبال أن تتواصل الحكومات وأن تتقدم الدولة التي وقع الحادث على أراضيها وهي بريطانيا من الدولة التي تشكّ في تورطها وهي روسيا، والشخص المعني يحمل جنسيتها، للتعاون في تحقيق مشترك برعاية وشراكة منظمات أممية ذات اختصاص، وتبني على التجاوب وعدمه موقفها. وفي حال التجاوب تنتظر نتائج التحقيق قبل توجيه أي اتهام. بينما الذي حصل هو العكس. إن الاتهام صدر في يوم وقوع الحادث ذاته ومنذ ذلك اليوم تعتمد بريطانيا ودول الغرب وراءها إجراءات تصعيدية أقرب للحرب الدبلوماسية، بينما تتمسك موسكو يومياً بالدعوة للتحقيق، وتتهرّب بريطانيا، ما يجعل من حق موسكو القول إن الحادث يبدو مفبركاً أسوة بما جرى مع سورية في حادثتي الغوطة وخان شيخون.

– الهستيريا الغربية الدبلوماسية إذن تريد القول لموسكو إن هناك غضباً شديداً لدى الغرب كله، وإن الأمور لن تمر بسلام، لكن الموضوع ليس سكريبال الذي تمّ تسميمه لاستعمال الحادث لإيصال الرسالة، والموضوع لا يحتاج لبحث وتنقيب. فالتصعيد الغربي الدبلوماسي على روسيا كانت ساحته مجلس الأمن الدولي، وصولاً للتهديد الأميركي بالتدخل العسكري، والرد الروسي بالجهوزية لمواجهة كل التحديات بما فيها الرد على الصواريخ الأميركية التي ستستهدف سورية باستهداف منصات إطلاقها، كما قال رئيس الأركان الروسي، والموضوع هو تحرير الجيش السوري بتغطية روسية نارية منطقة الغوطة قرب دمشق، بما وصفته تقارير أميركية وإسرائيلية وأوروبية بالحدث العسكري المفاجئ، لجهة سرعة الحسم وقدرة الإنجاز. بينما التوقعات الأميركية مبنية على معارك تمتدّ لشهور دون أن تنتهي بالحسم، ليصير السؤال: هل الغوطة بهذه الأهمية؟

– الجواب قدّمه الإسرائيليون فمجرد نجاح الجيش السوري في الغوطة كان كافياً لتتقدم «إسرائيل» بطلب للأمم المتحدة بإعادة نشر وحدات الأندوف على خط فصل القوات في الجولان المحتل، بعدما كانت قد قامت بتسليم مواقعها لجبهة النصرة واعتبرتها حزاماً أمنياً يحمي احتلال الجولان. ما يعني القناعة الإسرائيلية أن حرب الغوطة هي التي تقول الكلمة الفصل حول مستقبل سورية. وكان الرئيس السوري في تعريفه أهمية الغوطة أثناء جولته على مواقع الجيش وجموع النازحين، أن الغوطة التي تقف على كتف العاصمة بثقل سكاني ووجود مسلّح مجهّز وقادر على إلحاق الأذى بدمشق أهم استثمار للغرب ومشغلي الجماعات المسلحة. ويُضاف لذلك توسّط الغوطة بين دمشق والمناطق السورية الأخرى في حمص وحماة وحلب والساحل ودير الزور، والأهم توسّطها بين الحدود اللبنانية والحدود العراقية من دون أن تفصلها عنهما مناطق سكنية. فالجبال الجرداء هنا والبادية هناك، ووراء الحدودين فرص تواصل، عبر لبنان مع حلفاء لأميركا وعبر حدود العراق الأردن قاعدة التنف، والتواصل يعني إنجاز تقسيم سورية.

– تحرير الغوطة كمفاجأة عسكرية لانهيار أهم تجمع لمسلحين يحملون راية سورية ويمنحون قدراً من المصداقية لوصفة معارضة مسلحة، والمفاجأة بخروج الأهالي الذين يفترض أنهم البيئة الحاضنة الأشد تماسكاً وراء الجماعات المسلحة في تظاهرات مؤيّدة للدولة السورية ورئيسها، حسما مستقبل الحرب في سورية، وروسيا التي حمت هذا الانتصار وقدمت له أسباب القوة أسقطت كل آمال الغرب، وفي الطليعة واشنطن، بالاستثمار على إطالة أمد الحرب في سورية، فخرج الرئيس الأميركي دونالد Vترامب يقول بسطر واحد أمس، ملخص حاصل معارك الغوطة، «سنغادر سورية قريباً جداً وسنترك الجهات الأخرى تهتم بالأمر».

– الخروج الأميركي كقرار ليس مفاجئاً، وترك الأكراد والأتراك يقلّعون أشواكهم بأيديهم هو أفضل الخيارات الأميركية الراهنة، قبل أن تسوء الأمور أكثر، فكل تورّط أميركي بالبقاء لمواجهة مع الدولة السورية عدا عما سيرتّبه من مواجهة مع روسيا وإيران تخرج إلى الميدان، سيعني المخاطرة بتعرّض القواعد الأميركية في سورية والعراق لعمليات استهداف صاروخية وغير صاروخية، وبعدما كان الربط بين الوجود في سورية والعراق مصلحة أميركية، صار الفصل بينهما هو المصلحة الأميركية.

– الخروج الأميركي من سورية الذي بشّر به كخيار، السفير الأميركي السابق في سورية روبرت فورد بقوله إن الأميركيين يجب أن يتهيأوا ليحزموا حقائبهم تمهيداً للرحيل، سيعني الإخلال السريع بالتوازن العسكري بين الأتراك والأكراد، وتسريع تفاهم الأكراد مع الدولة السورية وتسليمها مناطق سيطرتهم، ليصير الأتراك وجهاً لوجه مع الدولة السورية المدعومة من حليفيها الروسي والإيراني، بعد سقوط ذريعة القلق من كيان كردي لن يكون موجوداً حينها.

– الغوطة أخطر معارك سورية، ولذلك كسرت ظهر ترامب.

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RUSSIAN FORCES FOILED PLOT TO CONDUCT SUCIDE BOMBINGS TARGETING EVACUATION BUSES IN EASTERN GHOUTA

South Front

29.03.2018

Russian Forces Foiled Plot To Conduct Sucide Bombings Targeting Evacuation Buses In Eastern Ghouta

On March 29, Russia’s Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu revealed that Russian forces in the Damascus subrub of Eastern Ghouta had foiled a plot to attack buses evacuating militants and their families from the region to the Syrian governorate of Idlib.

According to the Russian TV network RT, Shoygu said that Russian soldiers had confiscated and dismantled 48 suicide belts, which had been with militants trying to get aboard the buses.

The Ministry of Defense of Russia didn’t release detailed information about the attack plot. However, Syrian pro-government activists believe that fighters of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which are a part of the evacuation deal, may have been behind the plot in an attempt to sabotage the evacuation agreement.

Earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that clashes had erupted among militants around the evacuation buses in Eastern Ghouta. This incident could be linked to the attack plot.

HTS and Faylaq al-Rahman reached an agreement with the Damascus government to evacuate their fighters from their remaining positions in Eastern Ghouta to Idlib governorate on March 23. The agreement is only hours away from being fulfilled, according to Syrian pro-government sources, who also confirm that most militants have already left East Ghouta.

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Syrian War Report – March 28, 2018: Tiger Forces To Storm Douma If Deal Not Reached

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On March 27, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) started a push to capture the city of Tell Rifaat, located southeast of the city of Afrin in northern Syria.

When Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch started on January 20, a force led by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) controlled Tell Rifaat. Later, the YPG shared control of the Tell Rifaat countryside with the National Defense Forces – a pro-government militia integrated within the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

According to pro-Turkish sources, by March 28, the TAF and the FSA had established control of Tell Rifaat, Minagh Air Base and Sheikh Isa. The villages of Deir Jamal, Kafranya and Sheikh Hilal had reportedly remained contested.

No clashes have been reported in the area. If this is true, Turkey and the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance have likely reached a kind of behind the scenes deal handing over control of Tell Rifaat and its countryside to Ankara and its proxies. Earlier, Turkish top officials claimed that the military operation in Afrin will be finished only after the seizure of Tell Rifaat.

However, pro-YPG sources deny that the TAF is now in control of Tell Rifaat. The situation is unclear.

The SAA and the Tiger Forces are preparing to storm the town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta as negotiations between the government and Jaish al-Islam, which controls the area, have shown a lack of progress over the last few days. According to pro-government sources, the operation may be stated soon if a reconciliation deal is not reached.

Earlier, the rest of the militant-held area of Eastern Ghouta was liberated by government troops by force and through a series of reconciliation deals. The deals allowed local militants to withdraw towards Idlib without heavy weapons or to settle their legal status under the Damascus governance.

The US is building a military base in the vicinity of the country’s largest oil field – the Omar oil field, Mehdi Kobani, a press secretary of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Deir Ezzor told Sputnik Turkiye on March 27.

“The US is building a large military base in the oil-rich Al Omar region of Deir ez-Zor province. Due to security concerns we cannot provide information about the acreage of this new installation. There is currently construction machinery working in the vicinity of the base, and security is being provided by SDF forces,” Kobani said.

First reports about the US military installation in the Omar oil field area appeared in the middle of March. Now, the SDF de-facto confirmed that its patron continues efforts to continue the occupation of eastern Syria.

Locals have started a series of protests in the village of Al-Mansoura in the province of Raqqah. The tensions reportedly erupted after the SDF arrested a leader of the local Arab tribe.

The SDF is a de-facto Kurdish-dominated group, controlled by the YPG and its political wing – the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The PYD and PYD-linked “security forces” are actively working to establish their own rule in the SDF-held areas. These efforts are causing tensions with the local population.

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What if U.S attacks Syria again?

March 27, 2018

By Aram Mirzaei for the Saker blogWhat if U.S attacks Syria again?

In recent weeks, there’s been a lot of politics behind the ongoing East Ghouta military operation. Western government officials have all been “outraged” at the carnage resulting from the Syrian Army siege of the Islamist-held East Ghouta region of Damascus. They have all right to be angry, after all it’s their terrorist investments that are being battered on the battlefield. The success of the Syrian Army on the battlefield against Western-backed jihadists is always followed by crude accusations against the Syrian Army. Again, the poor jihadists of East Ghouta have fallen prey to government use of chemical weapons and Washington, along with its cohorts shall come to the rescue, especially if the UN fails to agree to a resolution.

Because of all this, recently, Moscow has warned on several occasions that Washington is planning to strike Syria again and has also made its allies in Syria aware of this. Some reports also claim that the Russian air defence systems are on stand-by. Despite Moscow’s warnings, I wasn’t fully convinced until the “Coalition” spokesman said that “pro-regime forces are building up near US troops in Syria”. This sounds very similar to what happened a few weeks ago when the “coalition” decided to “defend” itself from the Syrian Army, inside Syria. Washington basically admitted to their plans of striking sometime in the near future with this simple statement. It would also make sense that Washington would want to please the Saudi Prince Muhammad Bin Salman (MBS), especially since he bought American weapons worth several billion dollars recently, so a few U.S Tomahawk strikes on Damascus would probably suffice to please MBS.

Moscow seems committed to the task of defending Syria from future attacks, having openly declared that it will not tolerate another attack on Syria and that it will respond to such attacks that endanger the lives of Russian servicemen. Tehran has warned Washington against taking any foolish decisions in the Middle East, but remains rather silent on how it will respond to further U.S aggression.

Most of the so called “Iranian forces” in Syria are actually different IRGC supported militias drawn from the greater Middle East’s Shia populations. These are called the “Defenders of the Holy Shrine” and are recruited in theory to defend the Sayyida Zainab Shrine in Damascus, but in reality they have fought numerous battles across the Aleppo, Homs and Hama provinces.

Israel- Iran a conflict within a conflict

These militias and Iran fight a parallel war in Syria, alongside the Syrian government forces. While the Syrian government forces are fighting US-backed or Turkish-backed jihadists, Iran and its plethora of allied militias, including Hezbollah, are fighting Israel and its proxies. These are indeed the same groups but the difference lies in the narration of this conflict. The Syrian cause is a nationalist one, while the Iranian one is a religiously inspired movement uniting Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans, Pakistanis, Iranians and so on. Tel Aviv knows all of this, and it also knows that its proxies are being defeated. This is why they are so worried about Syria becoming an “Iranian base”. Before this war began, Israel only had Hezbollah to worry about, now they have a vast amount of Anti-Zionist militias, battle-hardened and standing right at their northern doorsteps. I find it rather unlikely that Iranian forces would be targeted by the U.S as most Iranian forces are stationed in Damascus whereas Washington’s threats seemed to be directed against forces in the Euphrates Valley or the Al-Tanf area bordering Jordan. Israel on the other hand almost always targets Damascus when it violates Syrian airspace.

In the unlikely event that the U.S would target Iranian forces, or that it would start a large scale assault on Syrian government forces, Tehran could retaliate by attacking Israel for two reasons, Israel’s proximity and because Tehran knows that Washington is hurt more by the loss of Israeli lives than that of its own soldiers. Israeli aggression was last month met with the downing of an Israeli fighter jet. In 2015, the Israeli Air force targeted several Hezbollah and IRGC commanders in Southern Syria, killing several top level people, including the son of the late Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh, Jihad Mughniyeh. This aggression was met with a harsh Hezbollah response on the Golan heights only a week later, killing several Israeli troops. These minor skirmishes will continue and would likely escalate if Washington decides to launch a major strike on Syria.

Another target for Iran could be Washington’s other close ally in the region, Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia’s military is U.S armed yet very inferior compared to its rivals in the Islamic World. This has been proven in its very poor intervention in Yemen, where the Wahhabi kingdom has suffered heavy casualties and has resorted to starving the population to death. The Yemen war is an embarrassment for the Saudi Army which suffers from poor morale and incompetence.

In the event that Washington decides for an all-out war on Syria directly, Tehran could either choose to strike Saudi Arabia or choose a direct confrontation with Israel as its option, relying on its missiles to “destroy Tel Aviv”, as Iranian official Mohsen Rezaei put it. If Washington however would go for another full scale proxy attack on Syria, say for example through the pitting of its proxy “Syrian Democratic Forces” against the Syrian Army, then Iran will also likely respond by proxy, unleashing its allied militias.

In the end, Tehran has always relied on multiple ways of responding to U.S aggression, it did so in Iraq and it will do so in Syria and Lebanon as well. To Iran and its allies, Syria is not a separate conflict from the ones in Iraq and Yemen, but rather part of the same Anti-Zionist struggle, this means that an attack on one country, could result in a response in the other country.

Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – MARCH 26, 2018: SYRIAN ARMY IS ABOUT TO GET FULL CONTROL OVER EASTERN GHOUTA

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The situation is rapidly developing in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta where the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies are on the verge of liberating the entire area from militants.

Following the evacuation agreement in Harasta, government forces have liberated Ayn Tarma and have forced militants in Jobar, Zamalka, Hazeh and Irbin to accept another evacuation agreement. The implementation of this agreement started on March 24. More than 7,000 civilians and members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and Faylaq al-Rahman are set to leave the area under the deal.

Separately, negotiations are ongoing in the area of Douma controlled by Jaish al-Islam. According to pro-government experts, the key issue preventing the group from accepting the deal is that its leadership seeks to prevent the evacuation to the militant-held area of Idlib, mostly controlled by its competitors, like Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. According to some reports, the group is willing to be evacuated to Eastern Qalamoun area.

In any case, the SAA has de-facto won the battle for Eastern Ghouta. Gaining a full control over the area is just the matter of time.

On March 24, the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) released a statement claiming that the Afrin area is under “complete” control of Tukey-led force and efforts to help civilians return their homes securely are underway.

Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar announced that there are still few villages, which Turkey seeks to capture south of the city of Afrin.

“There are 3-5 villages left in the west. We will arrive in the suburb of Aleppo called Nubl-Zahra and Afrin will be completely secured soon,” Akar said at a conference in the capital Ankara.

On the same day, units of Syrian government forces, mostly members of the National Defense Forces (NDF), deployed in the villages of Bashmra, Zoq al-Kabir, Buurj al-Qas. Miyasa, Aqiba and Ziyara as well as the nearby high points south of the city of Afrin. The deployment was aimed at preventing further advances by the TAF and its proxies.

Turkish forces captured the city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) on March 18. Since then, the TAF and  the Free Syrian Army (FSA) have made a series of limited advances south of the city expanding a buffer zone between the Turkish-occupied area and the government-held countryside of Aleppo.

On March 25, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that 3,747 so-called “terrorists” had been neutralized since the start of Operation Olive Branch in Afrin. The presided said that 302 members of FSA died during the same period. Erdogan also vowed that Turksih forces will capture Tal Rifaat before ending the operation.

The advance on Tal Rifaat may trigger a confrontation between Turkish forces and the Syrian government because a number of NDF units have established checkpoints near the city under an agreement with the YPG.

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McMaster Threatens Russia in Speech at Holocaust Museum; is there a ‘Jewish Agenda’ at Work?

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Departing US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster believes the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. is holy ground. He said so in a recent speech there.

“We are gathered together this afternoon on holy ground,” he proclaimed.

Yesterday it was reported that McMaster has been ousted from his position in the Trump administration. While there were subtle nuances in views on such things as Russia and the JCPOA agreement with Iran, the “personal chemistry” between Trump and McMaster probably had at least as much, if not more, to do with the latter’s departure than anything else. And the general’s speech at the Holocaust Museum, I would contend–a speech given on the 7th anniversary of the outbreak of the war in Syria–offers us some interesting insights into why the anti-Russia hysteria emanating from Washington has ramped up to such dangerous levels.

You can go here to access a Politico report on the speech, and here to see a video of it uploaded by the US State Department. As you will observe, McMaster devoted much of the talk to fulminating against Russia. The program also abounded with the usual rhetoric against Syria and Iran.

“Unfortunately today in Syria we are confronted with some of the worst atrocities known to man,” McMaster declared, and he went on to adjure that “the Russian government has bombed civilian areas and provided political cover for Assad’s crimes.”

Some of the worst atrocities known to man? McMaster ludicrously seems to be suggesting that President Assad, whose ouster has been openly called for by both US and Israeli officials, may be “worse than Hitler,” as it were. It is a sign that desperation to remove him is reaching new levels.

Significantly, the talk was given on March 15, which as I say was the 7th anniversary of the outbreak of the war in Syria–and at several points during the program McMaster made reference to a “Syria exhibit” there at the museum.

“The Syria exhibit here at the Holocaust Museum details these horrifying crimes through photographs, film, first person accounts, and other documentary evidence. It is estimated that nearly 500,000 people have perished since the war began,” he said.

Throughout, the following image was projected onto a large screen upon the stage from which the general gave his talk:

Question: Why would the Holocaust Museum, an entity presumably devoted to remembering an event in history, insert itself into the contemporary politics of regime change in the Middle East? Does it not suggest that the agenda of overthrowing the Assad government may be quintessentially a “Jewish agenda”?

In that regard, another point to consider is this: Russia is the chief reason why, after seven long years, the efforts to overthrow Assad have gone up in smoke. Imagine. All the money, resources, time and effort spent recruiting, arming, and training terrorist proxies, and nothing to show for it other than heaps of dead bodies and whole areas reduced to rubble. Despite all that, Assad remains leader of Syria.

Imagine the pent up fury this has triggered in certain circles in Washington…and probably elsewhere. Do you really doubt that pitting the US in a war against Russia is an option that has not been considered? So should we consider the bringing about of such a war a part of the aforementioned “Jewish agenda”?

Many political analysts would say what’s being played out now, vis-à-vis the escalating tensions between the US and Russia,  is a “neocon agenda.” Or, alternately, that the “Deep State” or the “Military Industrial Complex” are behind it all. But McMaster’s speech at the Holocaust Museum on the anniversary of the start of the war strikes me as an oddity, a red flag almost. If you were Sherlock Holmes trying to solve the puzzle of a murder mystery it’s certainly a piece of evidence you wouldn’t overlook.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (as it is officially called) is located adjacent to the National Mall in Washington, some ten blocks from the White House. According to Wikipedia, it has approximately 400 employees and is run by a governing board called the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, a body whose membership  includes 55 individuals appointed by the president of the United States. The Council also includes five members of the US Senate and five members of the House of Representatives. Congressional members include Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Ted Deutch, and Marco Rubio of Florida; Lee Zeldin of New York; Brad Schneider of Illinois; Orrin Hatch of Utah; and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

The current chairman is Howard M. Lorber, chairman and CEO of Vector Group Ltd., a holding company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He is chairman also of Nathan’s Famous, a fast food chain. While in college, Lorber was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, an experience which, according to Wikipedia, “had a large impact on his Jewish identity, and as such he endowed a position within the organization called the Lorber Director of Jewish Programming.” Alpha Epsilon Pi, by the way, is a fraternity that is “based upon Jewish principles.” Supposedly it is open to all who espouse its “purpose and values,” however, some have questioned whether this is indeed the case since the fraternity is said to have “expelled non-Jewish members from some of its chapters.”

Lorber reportedly has known Trump for more than 30 years.

The day McMaster gave his speech at the museum was also the day the US, UK, France, and Germany issued a joint statement on the Salisbury nerve agent poisoning, a statement in which the NATO members judged it “highly likely” that Russia was behind the attack. In fact, McMaster even made mention of the statement in his speech that same day.

“This morning the United States, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom condemned the abhorrent nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal that took place in Salisbury, United Kingdom on March 4,” he said. “The statement made clear that we believe that Russia was responsible for this attack, and we call on the Russian government to answer all questions related to this incident and to provide full information to the OPCW.”

Other commenters, from George Galloway to Paul Craig Roberts, have covered extensively why it would have been absurd for Russia to carry out such an attack, so I’m not going to waste space on it here. What I’d like to do instead is posit the theory of an historical continuum.

What we are seeing now, with all the venomous rancor being directed against Russia, is not solely the result of Russia’s entry into the Syrian war in 2015; it in fact has relatively little to do with that; it also has little or nothing to do with Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, nor does it trace its roots back to the outset of the Syrian war in 2011.

It did not begin with Assad’s becoming president of Syria in the year 2000, nor with Putin’s assuming the leadership of Russia in 1999.

What we are seeing is not a “new cold war,” a throwback to the 1950s and 60s; nor did it even commence with the Holocaust in the 1940s and 30s. No. What we are seeing now began much earlier. Much earlier. It is a continuum that stretches back for 2000 years–all the way back to the crucifixion of Christ.

dictionary definition of “continuum” is: “a continuous extent, succession, or whole, no part of which can be distinguished from neighboring parts except by arbitrary division”…and…“a continuous series or whole, no part of which is perceptibly different from the adjacent parts.”

In other words, a continuum, particularly an historical continuum, could be thought of as a play of many acts. In this case, the play started in the time of Christ–and it has yet to reach its conclusion. I say this because anger at Christ and Christianity seems to be embedded in the collective Jewish psyche. Jews for centuries have blamed Christians for their problems. Certainly a lot has changed since the Second Vatican Council and the onset of the era of “interfaith dialog” (an era which has coincided with the rise of Christian Zionism), and the ill-will between Christians and Jews today is nowhere near what it used to be. Now, rather than Christians, it is the Muslim world which Jews, or Israeli Jews at any rate, find themselves at war against, yet the old resentments are still there– bubbling underneath though surfacing from time to time in such forms as negative portrayals of Christians in Hollywood films and TV shows.

Alleged “Christian anti-Semitism” is something that many Jews harbor seething resentments over. And this is why I say a continuum is in effect…and why such a continuum should be taken into consideration when forming an analysis of current events.

The key events in this continuum are:

→ The crucifixion of Christ in 30 A.D.;

→ Destruction of the Jewish temple exactly 40 years later;

→ Third Jewish revolt crushed by the Romans in 136 A.D.;

→ Rome renames Judea “Syria Palestina”; some Jews remain; others disperse to other regions;

→ The compilation, starting in early 3rd century, of the Talmud (in which Jesus is reviled);

→ The compilation, in the 7th century, of the Quran (in which Jesus is revered);

→ Conversion to Judaism by the Khazars in the 8th century;

→ Khazar Kingdom defeated by joint Russian-Byzantine force in the 10th century; Khazarian Jews disperse to Eastern Europe;

→ 11th-20th centuries: Jews expelled from roughly 100 countries or regions;

→ 1933-45: Hitler comes to power; Jews placed in camps; World War II is fought

→ 1948: Israel established; more than 700,000 Palestinians dispersed from their villages and homes;

→ 1951: AIPAC is founded and Jewish power begins to grow in America

Russia is the most powerful Christian nation on earth. Yes, its power and influence are viewed as threatening to US global hegemony, but the irrational threats and accusations being made against it, the heightening of tensions to almost unprecedented levels, can be fully understood only within the context of the above continuum.

Likewise the threats against Assad and Syria.

Bashar Assad is a secular leader who has protected Christians. If terrorism is truly the concern of US officials, why single out Assad as the enemy? Why not Saudi Arabia instead? Assad is actually fighting the very terrorists Washington professes such concern over. Assad has ensured that Christians in Syria, at least in areas controlled by the government, remain free to practice their religion. Their churches and monasteries are protected. In fact, Assad arguably has done more to unify Christians and Muslims than any other national leader, certainly in the Middle East–and this may be the real reason he is hated so much. Here is a video which I posted on December 30, 2015. It shows Assad and his wife, Asma, visiting a Church in Damascus during Christmas that year:

The church is the Notre Dame de Damas Church, an ancient cathedral located just two kilometers from the militant-held area of East Ghouta. The people you see in this video are probably some of those who have suffered most from terrorist shells fired from East Ghouta. The more the Syrian Army has closed in on these terrorists, establishing humanitarian corridors for trapped civilians, the louder have become the howls of protest from the mainstream media and US officials. And yes, a case in point–McMaster’s speech on the 15th.

“The war has now raged for seven years. The Assad regime has killed indiscriminately, tortured, starved, raped, and used chemical weapons on his own people. It has attacked hospitals and schools, and countless Syrians have been arrested, abducted, or simply disappeared,” he claimed.

This wasn’t the only reference to the Syrian “regime” reputedly killing its “own people.” In fact throughout his talk, McMaster repeatedly referred to “Assad’s use of chemical weapons,” as if it were a proven, undisputed fact. And almost laughably–despite America’s documented support for terrorists in Syria, including the Nour al-Din al-Zenki movement, which in 2016 filmed themselves beheading a 12-year-old Palestinian boy–he touted the US as a “civilized nation.”

“All civilized nations must hold Iran and Russia accountable for their role in enabling atrocities and perpetuating human suffering in Syria,” he insisted…and he issued a demand:

If Iran and Russia do not stop enabling the regime’s atrocities and adhere to Security Council resolutions, all nations must respond more forcefully than simply issuing strong statements. It is time to impose serious political and economic consequences on Moscow and Tehran.

I suppose we should breathe a sigh of relief that McMaster didn’t call for an all-out military invasion of Russia–and that so far no other US official has issued such a call either. But that being said, it’s hard to imagine what further “political and economic consequences” could be imposed that would not lead to war.

Is it just a coincidence that Vladimir Putin, president of the most powerful Christian nation on earth, and Bashar Assad, a head-of-state who has worked toward Muslim-Christian unity, would be held up by US leaders and mainstream media as objects of vilification and demonization? Did that simply happen by chance? Or is there a continuum in effect? A continuum that has resulted in a Jewish agenda that is now leading us toward global confrontation?

The lies tirelessly generated by mainstream media on Syria are discussed in an article published a couple of days ago by independent journalist Eva Bartlett.

“As per their norm, corporate media’s reports on Eastern Ghouta rely on the usual suspect sources,” Bartlett says.

One of the “usual suspect sources” heavily relied upon for a good while now has been the infamous White Helmets. This proved to be the case in McMaster’s speech as well–in fact, from his podium the general recognized and applauded two members of the so-called humanitarian organization present at the time–present in the halls of the Holocaust Museum in Washington. “Let’s give them a round of applause,” he urged. The audience obliged.

Bartlett also discusses an article by Sharmine Narwani that was published a few days prior to her own, an article in which Narwani discusses her experience of visiting, and seeing with her own eyes, a chemical weapons laboratory discovered by the Syrian Arab Army in a recently-liberated portion of East Ghouta. Narwani’s article, which includes photos taken inside the lab, can be viewed here.

But yet McMaster and other US officials go on asserting that it is Assad, rather than terrorist saboteurs, resorting gawkishly to chemical attacks–and they state their opinion on this matter almost uniformly, as if singing in a chorus.

McMaster, in his position as National Security Advisor, participated regularly in meetings of the National Security Council. He presumably had access to CIA intelligence on the situation in Syria. If the CIA is even remotely competent then would it not know, or at least have a fairly good idea, who is manufacturing and using chemical weapons in Syria? If the answer to that question is no, then it inevitably begs a second question, somewhat more trenchant and sardonic than the first: do CIA agents, tasked with gathering, processing and analyzing national security information, derive their intelligence assessments from reading the mainstream media?

Of course the other alternative is that the US national interest has now been replaced by some other agenda.

Bartlett’s article, well worth reading in its entirety, is headlined, ‘They know that we know they are liars, they keep lying’: West’s war propaganda on Ghouta crescendos.

In it, she also cites a group of Trappist nuns in Syria–and even provides a couple of quotes from one of them. Here is what she writes:

“We, the people who actually live in Syria, we are really exhausted, nauseated by this global indignation that issues blanket condemnations of those who defend their lives and their land.

“The attacks on civilians in Damascus, began from the Ghouta area into the government-controlled part, and not vice versa… Why this blindness on the part of the West?”

You can well understand why the nuns would feel nauseated. So thorough has been the distortion of reality that soldiers of the Syrian Army, the very young men who have given their lives to protect the nuns and other innocent Syrians, have been portrayed as the evildoers. Bartlett herself then goes on to comment:

It is a painful rhetorical question that many of us have asked over the years, well-aware of the answer: because it doesn’t serve the regime-change agenda, one so diligently put forth by the corporate media.

As the war propaganda continues, I quote the nuns, who said: “Deliver us Lord from the war… and deliver us from bad journalism.”

I’ll close here with a quote from Jesus–it is the 9th beatitude, from the 5th chapter of Matthew, a quote which Russians and Syrians generally, and most especially Vladimir Putin and Bashar Assad in particular, would do well to keep in mind:

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

I’ll also offer a quote from John, from his first epistle, a passage in which this beloved disciple of Jesus discusses the crucial importance of love. What he is outlining here is the most fundamental of all Christian concepts:

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

It is vital that we continue to live in love rather than succumb to the hatred of other nations and peoples–hatreds that are being deliberately fomented. It is also important that we understand the continuum, to recognize that it is still in effect, and that most likely there are further acts in the play that are yet to come. These do not have to include World War III, however. It is not mandated that the play end tragically. For the choice of how it ends is our own–and the possibility of choosing love, rather than fear and hate, lies with all of us.

What is after Al Ghouta? تدحرجت الغوطة فماذا بعدها؟

What is after Al Ghouta?

مارس 25, 2018

Written by Nasser Kandil,

Those who ask questions about the victories of the Syrian army and its future should remember the questions they posed with every similar victory before the decisive battle of Aleppo, and questions as will the Russians support the Syrian army till the end? And will Turkey stand doing nothing? What about the Russian- Iranian relationship with Turkey? And what can Israel and America do, since they will not leave the Syrian army emerge victorious?. Despite the facts in the battle of Aleppo, and then in Deir Al Zour, Boukamal , and today in Al Ghouta the same questions emerge without benefitting from the answers provided by a year and a half of the battles and the consecutive victories.

The answer to the questions starts from saying that Aleppo is more important than Al Ghouta to Turkey, and Boukamal is more important than Al Ghouta to America, Al Quneitra and the south-west line of Syria is more important than Al Ghouta to Israel. The bargaining of the allies with the Syrian state may be possible in everywhere other than Al Ghouta. What was proven by the battles of Aleppo, Deir Al Zour, Boukamal, and Al Ghouta together as the stability of the allies, the power of the Syrian army, and the inability of the enemies dominate the future of what remains of the war on Syria.

Al Ghouta which many were wondering despite the victories and the liberation of more than of its half a week ago about how to end the rest which is described by the most difficult, is providing the answer through the rolling stones of domino from Harsta, Ain Tarma, Irbin, and Zamalka and the withdrawal of the militias of Ahrar Al Sham and the readiness of the militants of Al Rahman legion to do the same, in addition to the confusion that affected the leadership and the militants of the army of Islam who were ready to withdraw but their problem was the rejection of the armed groups to receive them in Idlib and the refusal of the Syrian army to allow their withdrawal to Idlib.

After Al Ghouta as every time the analysts wonder what is the next destination of the Syrian army, usually it is surprise. Is it Idlib, countryside of Aleppo, Daraa, or Quneitra? But for sure the results will be in favor of the Syrian army and will be added to the cohesion of its allies and the limitedness available options and the weakness of the ability of its enemies to form serious challenge capable of stopping that progress.

Despite the Turkish and the American occupation of the north and their hiding behind the Kurdish title, the Syrian country and its allies have options and margins that are not used yet to repeat the liberation politically and militarily as happened in the other areas. The former US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford talked about a bilateral that; there is no US war to protect the Kurdish entity and there is no hope in the long staying for the Americans in Syria when Syria and its allies decide to resolve the progress northwards, he said in the end they know that they will soon pack their bags for departure.

Israel which supports that war, links its destiny, presence, and strategy with the future of this war. When Israel asked the United Nations to redeploy the UNDOF units on the separation line in Golan after it violated it itself and made it under the domination of the armed groups hoping of a security belt once, and betting on the desecration of the Syrian geography many times, then this means that Israel has found that hiding behind the United Nations is the best bad available options and what is coming is worse through betting on variables that weaken the Syrian state and stop its path towards victory and liberation.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

تدحرجت الغوطة فماذا بعدها؟

مارس 23, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– من الواجب على الذين يطرحون الأسئلة حول انتصارات الجيش السوري ومستقبلها أن يتذكّروا الأسئلة التي كانوا يطرحونها مع كل انتصار مشابه منذ ما قبل الحسم في معركة حلب، وهي هل سيقف الروس حتى النهاية مع الجيش السوري؟ وهل ستقف تركيا مكتوفة الأيدي؟ وماذا عن العلاقة الروسية الإيرانية بتركيا؟ وماذا يمكن أن تفعل إسرائيل وأميركا وهما لن تتركا للجيش السوري أن يخرج منتصراً وهما تتفرّجان؟ ورغم ما جاءت به الوقائع في معركة حلب وبعدها في دير الزور والبوكمال واليوم في الغوطة تعود الأسئلة نفسها دون الاستفادة من الأجوبة التي قدّمتها سنة ونصف من المعارك والانتصارات المتلاحقة.

– الجواب الطبيعي على الأسئلة يبدأ من القول إن حلب أهم لتركيا من الغوطة وإن البوكمال أهم لأميركا من الغوطة، وإنّ القنيطرة وخط جنوب غرب سورية اهم لـ «إسرائيل» من الغوطة، وإنّ المساومة من الحلفاء مع الدولة السورية قد يكون وارداً في كلّ مكان أكثر من الغوطة، وإنّ ما أثبتته معارك حلب ودير الزور والبوكمال والغوطة معاً، من ثبات الحلفاء وقوة الجيش السوري وعجز الأعداء صار قانوناً حاكماً لمستقبل ما بقي من الحرب في سورية.

– ها هي الغوطة التي كان الكثيرون يتساءلون رغم الانتصارات وتحرير أكثر من نصفها قبل أسبوع عن كيفية إنهاء الباقي منها، ويصفونه بالأصعب، تقدّم الجواب بتدحرج حجارة دومينو سيطرة الجماعات المسلحة من حرستا إلى عين ترما وعبرين وزملكا، وانسحاب ميليشيات أحرار الشام واستعداد مسلّحي فيلق الرحمن لفعل الشيء نفسه، والارتباك الذي يصيب قيادة ومسلحي جيش الإسلام، الذين سبقوا زملاءهم بالاستعداد للانسحاب، لكن مشكلتهم كانت برفض الجماعات المسلحة لهم في إدلب ورفض الجيش السوري السماح لهم بالانسحاب إلى إدلب.

– بعد الغوطة، كما في كلّ مرة يتساءل المحللون أين هي الوجهة التالية للجيش السوري، وغالباً ما تكون مفاجئة، فهل هي إدلب أم ريف حلب، أم درعا، أم خط القنيطرة على حدود الجولان، لكن الأكيد أن أياً كانت الوجهة التي تسلكها وحدات الجيش السوري فإن النتائج التي كرّستها المعارك السابقة ستزداد تأكيداً، لجهة قدرة الجيش السوري على الإنجاز والتحرير، وجدية وتماسك حلفائه من خلفه، وضعف قدرة أعدائه على تشكيل تحدٍّ جدي قادر على إعاقة تقدّمه، ومحدودية الخيارات المتاحة أمامهم.

بالرغم من خصوصية الشمال في مناطق الاحتلالين التركي والأميركي، واختبائهما وراء العنوان الكردي فإن الدولة السورية وحلفاءها يملكون أوراقاً وخيارات وهوامش لم يتم تظهيرها بعد تتيح تكرار فعل التحرير سياسياً وعسكرياً، كما جرت الأمور في المناطق الأخرى، وما قاله السفير الأميركي السابق في سورية روبرت فورد عن ثنائية لا حرب أميركية لحماية كيان كردي، ولا أمل ببقاء مديد للأميركيين في سورية عندما تحسم سورية وحلفاؤها التقدم شمالاً، قائلاً في النهاية يعرفون في واشنطن أنهم في ساعة غير بعيدة يجب أن يحزموا حقائب الرحيل.

– تبقى «إسرائيل» الجهة الوحيدة التي وقفت بالأساس وراء الحرب، وترتبط مصيرياً ووجودياً واستراتيجياً بمستقبل هذه الحرب، وعندما تتوجّه «إسرائيل» بالطلب من الأمم المتحدة لنشر وحدات الأندوف على خط فصل القوات في الجولان، بعدما قامت هي بانتهاكه وتسليمه للجماعات المسلحة أملاً بحزام أمني مرّة، ورهاناً على استباحة الجغرافيا السورية مرات، فإن ذلك يعني أن «إسرائيل» باتت تجد في الانكفاء خلف خطوط الأمم المتحدة والاحتماء خلفها أفضل الخيارات السيئة المتاحة لها، وتعلن أن مقبل الأيام أسوأ من ماضيها من زاوية النظر الإسرائيلية لجهة الرهان على متغيرات تضعف الدولة السورية وتحدّ من اندفاعتها نحو النصر والتحرير.

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بعد هزيمة الإرهاب في الغوطة ماذا تهيّئ واشنطن وحلفاؤها؟

معن حمية

مارس 24, 2018

بالمفهوم العسكري، سقطت الغوطة الشرقية كلها بيد الجيش السوري، وبالتدرّج بلدة بلدة ستُعلن منطقة محرّرة وآمنة.

بالأمس حرستا خالية من الإرهاب واليوم بلدات عدة ستغادرها العناصر الإرهابية بعد أن تلمّست المصير الذي ينتظرها في حال استمرّت بمواجهة الجيش السوري وحلفائه.

باستعادة الغوطة الشرقية إلى دائرة الأمان السوري، يكون الجيش السوري حقّق هدفين أساسيين: الأول، وأد الخطر الذي كان يتهدّد سكان العاصمة دمشق، حيث كانت المجموعات الإرهابية تقصف الأحياء المأهولة في دمشق وتقتل الأطفال والآمنين. والهدف الثاني، تفكيك قاعدة إرهابية أرادها رعاة الإرهاب، موقعاً متقدّماً ونقطة انطلاق لتنفيذ خطط وسيناريوات تستهدف أمن العاصمة دمشق في سياق مخطط استهداف سورية.

الانهيار السريع للمجموعات الإرهابية في منطقة الغوطة الشرقية، شكل صدمة مدوّية للدول التي راهنت على صمود الإرهابيين لفترة أطول، والإبقاء على معادلة استخدام المدنيين دروعاً بشرية، لتستخدمها ورقة ضغط على سورية بذريعة حماية المدنيين والدفاع عن حقوق الإنسان!

أما وقد خسر رعاة الإرهاب أميركا وفرنسا وبريطانيا وتركيا والسعودية وقطر ورقة الغوطة، فإنّ كلّ الضغوط السياسية التي مورست على دمشق، وكلّ التهديدات بشنّ عدوان عسكري غربي، تكون قد تهاوت مع تهاوي الذرائع وانهيار جبل الأكاذيب.

ومع اكتمال دائرة الأمان حول دمشق، فإنّ رعاة الإرهاب باتوا يواجهون مأزقاً صعباً، ذلك أنّ الذي يخسر في الميدان، يخسر في السياسة… فهل ستقبل أميركا وحلفاؤها بالخسارة أم أنّ في جعبة هؤلاء الرعاة أوراقاً إضافية للاستخدام؟

خلال اليومين الماضيين أعلنت الولايات المتحدة عن إقامة مركز تدريب في الأردن لمكافحة الإرهاب، ومن ثم لمّحت الى إمكانية تمدّد تنظيم «داعش» الإرهابي في مناطق شمال شرق سورية، بعد انتقال قوات «قسد» من هذه المناطق إلى عفرين. وتزامناً أعلن الرئيس التركي رجب طيب أردوغان بأنّ قواته الغازية ستواصل عملياتها العسكرية داخل الأراضي السورية. وبين التلميح الأميركي باستعادة «داعش» للتمدّد مجدّداً في بعض المناطق السورية، وإعلان أردوغان بمواصلة عملياته العدوانية في الداخل السوري، يظهر التنسيق جلياً بين واشنطن وانقرة، بما يفضي إلى تخلّي أميركا عن قوات «قسد»، واستبدالها بـ «داعش»، وهذه خطوة تحقق لتركيا ما كانت تطلبه من الولايات المتحدة.

بعد هزيمة الإرهاب ورعاته في الغوطة الشرقية، واضح أنّ واشنطن وأنقرة بالتكافل والتضامن تهيّئان «داعش» مجدّداً لاشعال وإشغال جبهات جديدة، غير أنّ كلّ هذه المحاولات لن تنجح، طالما أنّ الجيش السوري قادر على حسم المعارك الكبرى، من حلب الشرقية الى الغوطة الشرقية.

عميد الإعلام في الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي

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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – MARCH 23, 2018: MILITANTS TO WITHDRAW FROM MORE AREAS IN EASTERN GHOUTA

South Front

On March 22, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) captured the villages of Baay, Basufan, Kafr Nabu and Burj Haydar south of the city of Afrin from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). According to unconfirmed reports, the TAF’s artillery even shelled positions some of the Syrian Arab Army north of the city of Aleppo.

Since the fall of Afrin on March 18, the TAF and the FSA have been slowly but steadily expanding their control south of the city. Some local sources indicate that Turkey considers an advance in order to take the town of Tell Rifaat, near which Syrian government forces had established a number of checkpoints.

Meanwhile, YPG members continue conducting hit-and-run attacks against Turkish forces in the area of Afrin formally controlled by the TAF and the FSA.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert announced on March 22 that U.S. forces are not going to leave Manbij and no agreement had been reached between Washington and Ankara on the issue. The US-Turkish relations over US support to the YPG and especially, the YPG presence in Manbij, remain complicated.

Meanwhile, the Turkish media speculates that Turkey is preparing to launch a military operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the area of Sinjar Mount in northern Iraq. The advance will allegedly be entitled Operation Tigris Shield and may take place after Iraqi elections set for May 12.

In the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, a first batch of Ahrar al-Sham militants left the area of Harasta on March 22. On the next day, the evacuation continued.

Meanwhile, reports appeared that the Syrian government and Faylaq al-Rahman have reached a ceasefire agreement, which is set to be implemented on March 23. If the agreement succeeds, the withdrawal of Faylaq al-Rahman members from Ain Tarma, Ebreen and nearby areas are expected by pro-government experts in the near future.

The ceasefire agreement followed reports that the SAA had established full control over Ain Tarma’s farms and started preparing to storm this key militant stronghold.

According to the Russian military, about 95,000 people have left the militant-held area of Eastern Ghouta since the implementation of the daily humanitarian pause on February 28.

The expected liberation of Eastern Ghouta will further impact the balance of powers in Syria and will open an opportunity for the SAA to launch a large-scale operation against ISIS in southern Damascus where the situation has recently deteriorated.

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Hundreds of Militants, Civilians Leave Harasta, East Ghouta, Under Official Pact

Local Editor


Hundreds of militants and their families started leaving the Syrian town of Harasta in East Ghouta on Thursday, under a special, Russian-brokered agreement with the Syrian government, which will see them transported to Idlib province.

 
Ghouta

Under the deal struck between the Syrian government and members of the Ahrar al-Sham militants, about 1,500 militants and 6,000 civilians, including the militants’ families, plan to leave Harasta in two batches, a SANA reporter said on Thursday.

So far, the news agency confirmed that 810 people managed to exit Harasta via 10 buses, including 253 men, 157 women, 218 children and 182 militants.
Later, the Russian Defense Ministry said that 1,895 militants and their family members were ferried towards Idlib on March 22 via a humanitarian corridor. The militants were transported in convoys consisting of 50 vehicles each.“Their safety will be ensured by Syrian police [working] under the supervision of the Russian Reconciliation Center and Syrian Red Crescent all the way through the route,” the MoD said.The surrender of hundreds of militants and their families was made possible after the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria announced the opening of a third humanitarian corridor in Harasta on Wednesday. To ensure transparency of the project, Russia installed CCTV cameras in all three of East Ghouta’s functioning corridors.

Meanwhile, civilians continue to flee the rebel-held territory through two other corridors in East Ghouta. “In total since the beginning of the humanitarian operation, 94,831 people have been evacuated from Eastern Ghouta with the help of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Thursday.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – MARCH 22, 2018: SYRIAN ARMY GETS CONTROL OF HARASTA, MILITANTS WITHDRAW

South Front

About 1,500 Ahrar al-Sham militants and 6,000 civilians, mostly families of the militants, are set to leave the Harasta area of Eastern Ghouta under an evacuation agreement with the Syrian government on March 22.

Under the agreement militants surrender all of their heavy weapons and get an open corridor towards the militant-held part of the province of Idlib.

Late on March 21, a source in the 4th Armoured Division of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) told SouthFront that militants had started burning their HQs and weapon depots.

If the agreement is successfully implemented, the SAA will get a full control over the urban area of Harasta further isolating the southern part of Eastern Ghouta from the militant-held area of Douma.

Meanwhile, the SAA, the Republican Guard and the Tiger Forces captured a large part of the Ein Tarma farms and entered the town of Hazzah. According to pro-government sources, a major part of Hazzah is now under the government forces control. However, this still has to be confirmed.

The mass evacuation of civilians and humanitarian aid delivers allow the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance to decrease a factor of civilian casualties and human shields usage in the ongoing operation, implementing an Aleppo-like scenario when every evacuated family undermine the militants’ defensive capabilities.

Over 40 tonnes of toxic agents have been found in the areas liberated from militants, Major General Igor Kirillov, said on March 21.

“Damascus has officially confirmed its readiness to assist in any investigation into a chemical attack in Syria. However, international organizations have refused to cooperate with the Syrian government, practically conniving with terrorist organizations in their illegal activity. The Syrian Foreign Ministry pointed out that more than 40 tonnes of chemical warfare agents have been discovered on the territories liberated from terrorists,” Kirillov said recalling frequent accusations of an alleged chemical weapons use against the Damascus government. “At the same time, the international community prefers turning a blind eye to the real facts in which chemical weapons are used in Syria against the government troops and civilians,” he added.

ISIS have captured the whole neighborhood of al-Asali and 90% of al-Madaniyah neighborhood in the al-Qadam district in southern Damascus, the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed. According to Amaq, ISIS has killed 173 SAA soldiers and has destroyed 2 battle tanks, a rocket launcher, a bulldozer and a BMP-1 armored vehicle in clashes for the area.

The Turkish Army and its proxies captured the town of Barad and the village of Kimar south of the city of Afrin following clashes with members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and some government-linked militia there.

After the fall of Afrin, Turkey has slowed down its military operation in the area. However, its forces are still willing and are able to capture some settlements in a de-facto buffer zone between them and the SAA.

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East Ghouta: Obama’s Last Stand In Syria?

Syrian Army seizes most of Ayn Tarma Valley in East Ghouta, pushes to outskirts of suburb

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:50 P.M.) – In response to the militant counter-offensive in the Harasta suburb, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched a big assault at the nearby ‘Ayn Tarma Valley.

According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent in Damascus, the Syrian Army seized most of the ‘Ayn Tarma Valley, following a short battle with the militants in the area.

The correspondent added that the Syrian Army’s 4th Division has now reached the southeastern outskirts of the ‘Ayn Tarma suburb.

‘Ayn Tarma is a heavily-fortified East Ghouta suburb that neighbors Jobar; it is currently under the control of Faylaq Al-Rahman and Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham.

The Syrian Army has attempted to capture ‘Ayn Tarma on a number of occasions in the past; however, all of their attacks were ultimately repelled by the militants.

Syrian Army Advances in Its Operations against Terrorists in Ein Tarma Valley

March 20, 2018

Syrian army in Eastern Gouta

Syrian Army units continued their operations to liberate Eastern Gouta of the remaining Nusra Front terrorists and the groups affiliated to them.

SANA’s correspondent in Eastern Gouta said that army units began at dawn on Tuesday precise operations in Ein Tarma valley, employing tactics and weapons that suit the nature of the area in order to protect civilians’ lives and preserve the properties and farmlands in it, achieving new advances in the area after inflicting losses upon terrorists.

The correspondent said that this advance is achieved in parallel with military operations against terrorists in the towns of Hazza, Zamalka, and Erbin after fortifying army positions in the towns of Saqba and Kafr Batna, securing the citizens in those towns, and delivering aid to them in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

The army also repelled infiltration attempts by terrorists coming from the direction of Douma towards the outskirts of Mesraba, clashing with them and leaving many terrorists dead or injured, while the remaining ones fled towards Douma.

The correspondent said that the army is continuing to secure corridors to allow citizens to exit Gouta.

SourceSANA

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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – MARCH 19, 2018: EASTERN GHOUTA BATTLE ENTERS FINAL PHASE, AFRIN FALLS

South Front

On March 18, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) established full control over the city of Afrin.

The city had been the main stronghold of the YPG in northeastern Syria. However, the YPG had withdrawn from it almost without fighting. A notable part of civilians had also fled to the government-held area in the province of Aleppo.

According to Turkish sources, the TAF and the FSA captured a large number of weapons and ammunition, including US-made TOW and Russian-made Konkurs anti-tank guided missiles, in Afrin.

Turkish President Recept Erdogan announced that Ankara “will have to take necessary steps to rebuild Afrin, raise infrastructure and wipe out traces of terrorists.”

“We are not there to occupy but to wipe out terror groups and to achieve peace in Afrin,” he added. However, experts doubt that Turkish forces will leave Afrin voluntarily any time soon.

Following the success in Afrin, the TAF and the FSA advanced north and northwest of the city capturing 29 more villages, which had been mostly abandoned by YPG members also. The YPG and its political wing, the PYD, sacrificed Afrin for its political ambitions rejecting all opportunities to reconcile with the Damascus government and to receive a help from the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance.

In Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have liberated the areas of Saqba and Kafr Batna from Faylaq al-Rahman and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda). By March 19, the SAA had prepared to storm Ain Terma, Zamalka and Ebreen.

Reports also circulate that members of Faylaq al-Rahman are now negotiating a withdrawal agreement with Damascus. However, any wide-scale agreement will likely be not possible while Hayat Tahrir al-Sham keeps notable presence in the area.

Negotiations are also ongoing in the areas of Harasta and Douma.

In eastern Qalamoun militants attacked SAA positions near the al-Sin airbase capturing a T-72 battle tank and shooting down a Su-24, or MiG-23 – it is complicated to identify from the released video, warplane of the Syrian Air Force.

US-backed militant groups operating in the at-Tanf area are preparing to attack the SAA in eastern Syria, the Syrian pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi reported citing Mohanad al-Talaa, a commander of the so-called Revolutionary Commando Army.

Meanwhile, reports appeared that US-backed forces had been massing troops on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

Syrian analysts consider a possibility that the US and its proxies may use some provocation, a shelling or a staged chemical attack, to attack government forces in eastern Syria. Such scenario becomes more likely as tensions between Russia and the US are growing.

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