A SYRIAN LEADER TELLS HIS COUNTRY’S STORY: AN INTERVIEW WITH SAA GENERAL HASSAN HASSAN

In Gaza

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Eva Bartlett sits down for an exclusive interview with the head of the Syrian Arab Army’s Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan.

August 5, 2019, Mint Press News

For years, international headlines spotlighting Syria have claimed that the Syrian government, army, and its allies were guilty of a variety of atrocities. Yet as time has passed, many of the accusations levied at government and its allies have been shown to have been either falsified, staged (as in the case of allegations of chemical attacks in eastern Ghouta), or actually committed by the myriad terrorist groups operating in the country.

For their part, Syrian leadership has maintained from the start that the demonstrations in their country were not peaceful, from 2011 and on. Media in the West and the Gulf vilified Syria’s leadership, featuring story after story of government-imposed violence while ignoring or whitewashing the violence of the burgeoning armed groups flooding into Syria.

From as early as 2011, armed groups were throwing civilians from rooftops and committing beheadings, kidnappings, and massacres. The year 2011 alone saw multiple massacres of civilians and security forces committed by what the media called “unarmed protesters” and later by the “Free Syrian Army.” This was the same year that many in the media were insisting that a “peaceful revolution” was underway.

Since that time, those same armed groups, as well as the many iterations they spawned, have starved, tortured, imprisoned, murdered, maimed and even harvested the organs of Syrian civilians, in addition to killing Syrian and allied soldiers and journalists and destroying much of the country’s infrastructure.

To give a voice to the often ignored “other side” — those Syrians that have been working to defend their country since 2011 —  Eva Bartlett interviewed the Syrian Arab Army’s Head of Political Administration, General Hassan Hassan. General Hassan’s shelves and large wooden desk are covered with stacks of books, family photos, and various homages to the country he serves — the general holds a Ph.D. in geopolitical studies. The following is a transcript of Bartlett’s interview with Hassan following the 74th anniversary of the founding of the Syrian Arab Army.

 

Eva Bartlett (EB) | I would like to begin by asking you your thoughts on how honest Western and Gulf media’s reporting on Syria has been, especially regarding their choice of lexicon — for example, regarding the Syrian Army, the Syrian Government, what they call rebels — and the events in Syria in general.

General Hassan (GH) | Media has been one of the weapons of mass destruction used in this war on Syria. The biased media, in addition to the takfiri [Salafi] fatwas — especially the fatwas — have been the weapons that contributed most to the destruction taking place in Syria, including the destruction of human beings, vegetation, civilization,…everything.

President Bashar al-Assad emphasized more than once the necessity of countering the rhetoric used. I can elaborate for two or more hours on the terms used. However, I will limit myself to some examples.

The Free [Syrian] Army is among the lexicons used. What “army” and what “freedom” are they talking about? Every army is known for its discipline, hierarchy, fighting strategies in both defense and attack, and the cause it fights for.

The so-called Free Syrian Army has none of these qualities, except for the ability to kill. The media tried to put into circulation the term Assad’s Brigades or Assad’s Forces. Our army is the Syrian Arab Army, which includes in each of its formations soldiers from all Syrian governorates, with no exception.

I’ll give you an example. Almost three months ago, the militants supported by Turkey targeted a Syrian army position to the north of Latakia. Twelve soldiers were martyred as a result. Each soldier is from a different governorate. This is the Syrian Arab Army.

They used the term “defection.” There is no defection in the Syrian Arab Army; defection did not really occur in the Syrian Arab Army but there are some cases of soldiers running away. The term “defection” is used when a brigade or a squad defect from a certain army. Until now, the Syrian Arab Army has not witnessed what might be called defection even within its smallest units.

In order to spread the idea of defection they resorted to unsophisticated lies. In 2012 they said that General Mohammad al-Rifa’i, commander of the Fifth Squad, had defected from the army. This lie was circulated through the media. Yet, Syrian TV interviewed the general, who had retired in 2001, 11 years prior.

Gangs would stop civilian or military vehicles on highways, hold soldiers hostages, film them and force them at gunpoint to declare that they had defected [from the army].

I’ll give an example available from the internet of their lies regarding the term the Free Syrian Army. Anyone can check the Free Syrian Army term through Google. We type Abu Saqr al-Asadi — right here, I have typed Abu Saqr al-Souri [the Syrian]. We now find [the result] “face to face with the fighter Abu Saqr al-Asadi who ate the heart of a soldier.” (Abu Saqr is also transliterated as Abu Sakkar, as per the BBC article referred to by General Hassan).

That was in 2013 when he was filmed cutting into the chest of the soldier and eating his heart. It is here on Google from the BBC Arabic website. This is not a Syrian media outlet. It is a Western outlet. It is not a pleasant sight to watch him chewing the soldier’s heart.

Abu Saqr al-Asadi was a fighter in the Al-Farouq Brigades, which was an armed rebel organization formed by the Free Syrian Army. When he died he was a member of the Nusra Front. So, he was a member of the Free Syrian Army, used to be with the Farouq Brigades, and then joined the Nusra Front.

I could speak for hours about the issue of lexicon. For instance, they talked about what is called the armed opposition. How could opposition be armed?! Opposition is a political term. Opposition is a political party that did not win elections. Such a party plays the role of opposition in the parliament. These militant groups want to govern the country, the people and everything by armed force. Does this sound normal? Never was there a term called “armed opposition,” except when they spoke about these terrorist gangs.

 

EB | So in the article you’ve just shown, the English version, the BBC did not report it as an act of carnage. They humanized Abu Saqr and asked him what drove him to do such a desperate act?

GH | This is the media war. Either they say he is violent or they say he is an angel; hasn’t he demonstrated how he cut out an organ and ate a piece of it? When the BBC describes a man who ate the heart of a dead soldier as a peaceful man, how then would they describe beasts?

 

EB | Regarding events in Syria in 2011, both Western and Gulf media called it a peaceful unarmed uprising for many months, even for up to a year. Do you have an example of attacks by what the West called unarmed protesters against the Syrian army, police or security forces in 2011?

GH | In 2011 they said the reason behind the first spark was that the army, or another security body, pulled out the nails of some children in Dara`a. Over the past eight years, it has become clear that all of the armed groups are equipped with video cameras and live-streaming devices. Can any of them provide us with a video of one child whose nails were pulled out? Where are these children? Why couldn’t the media that fabricated such lies film the pulled-out nails?

Let’s go back to the peaceful uprising. On April 10, 2011, less than a month after the beginning of the so-called uprising, an army convoy transporting soldiers back to their homes was intercepted on the highway from Tartous to Banias. Nine people were martyred: two officers, five warrant officers, and two civilians. They also fired at the ambulances that tried to reach the wounded.

Other examples are the Nawa massacre in Dara`a, the Jisr al-Shoghur massacre, and the Asi River massacre — where they live-streamed the dumping of people into the river. All these massacres were perpetrated before the end of June 2011.

That is the peaceful [Arab] spring the Western and Gulf media talked about.

Are these examples enough, or should I cite more? It’s important to me that Western readers know how many lies and how much deception there has been, especially by the media.

I’ll give you another minor example. Usually, the BBCAl-Jazeera and France 24, etc. would broadcast that an explosion took place in a certain area. However, there was no explosion. But 15 to 30 minutes later an explosion would take place in the same area. It was like a code to the armed groups to carry out the explosion.

I’ll provide you with a more comprehensive example. When the area of Ma`raba [near al-Tal, a suburb of Damascus] was targeted by the Israeli enemy, cameras were focused on the targeted area even before the missiles hit.

 

EB | So, they were ready?

GH | The cameras were aimed at the area where the missiles were supposed to hit. At the moment that the missiles hit the targeted area, members of armed groups began cheering “Allahu Akbar… Allahu Akbar.” This was documented by their cameras; definitely not Syrian media cameras. At the same time, armed groups in eastern Ghouta attacked Damascus from seven fronts.

As an ordinary person — not as a military figure– I could tell it was a role carried out by three. First, the one who carried out the aggression, and that is the Zionist entity [Israel].

Second, the media outlets that were assigned to broadcast the aggression before it was carried out.  And third, the armed groups who attacked Damascus. Therefore, the cameraman and those militants are substitute recruits of the Israeli enemy. I cannot call them but the substitute army of Israel and the United States.

According to confessions by Israeli and American officials, including previous U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ISIS was made by America. Later on, ISIS was classified as a terrorist organization.

Thus, those terrorists made in the U.S. are the rebels of the peaceful [Arab] spring later circulated in the region by means of the foreign media outlets.

 

EB | According to Israeli media, Israel is fighting terrorism, Muslim extremists. However, there are reports of Israel treating militants or terrorists in Israeli hospitals. Can you please outline Israel’s role in the war on Syria?

GH | Everything that has taken place in Syria and in the region — all the blaze erupting in the region,  under what they falsely called the Arab Spring — serves the interests of Israel. These are not my own conclusions; rather, it is the Israeli media who talk about this. The Israeli prime minister appeared on television when he visited wounded terrorists, injured while fighting the Syrian army, being treated in Israeli hospitals. This is number one.

The other issue is that every time the Syrian Arab Army is making an apparent advance, Israel conducts an aggression [airstrike]. When Israel is unable to achieve its objective, it seeks the help of the United States, just as it did when the U.S. Air Force targeted the Tharda Mountains in Deir ez-Zor as the Syrian army was en route to clear Deir ez-Zor of terrorists.

I hope that you underscore the following statement: Those who sponsor terrorism don’t fight it.Israel is an entity based on both killing and falsehood. When Palestine was already inhabited, they claimed that Palestine was a land without people and wanted to give it to people without a land. Thus, the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, Arthur Balfour, gave what the U.K. didn’t own to those who didn’t deserve it.

In 2019, Trump did the same and gave the Golan to Israel as if Trump inherited it from his own father. Who gave Trump the right to give other people’s property to others? The issue here is that international law needs power to protect it. Unfortunately, the United States is still the superpower of the world and the financial and economic despot of the world. U.S. officials are indifferent to falsehood, humanity, law or human rights. All this means nothing to them.

I would like to remind foreign readers that Iraq was destroyed under the pretext of having weapons of mass destruction. The whole world still recalls Colin Powell when he presented what he called a satellite image as evidence of Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction. When Powell left office, he admitted to U.S. media outlets that that moment was the darkest in his lifetime. The question is: When did he admit it? How many innocent victims were killed as a result?

How come a sovereign state was occupied without international legitimacy? American officials don’t care about this. Wherever the U.S. has interfered around the world, the result has been more killing, destruction, and suffering and successive U.S. administrations are competing to serve Israel.

 

EB | Syria has been accused of using chemical weapons against civilians. Does the Syrian army use chemical weapons against civilians?

GH |  An official mission came to Syria and demanded that the Syrian government carry out an official investigation. They delayed for years before the mission arrived. And those who came submitted an untruthful report.

Syria signed the agreement and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) visited Syria and checked all places and the existing stockpile [of chemical weapons] was destroyed on a U.S. vessel. Accordingly, The OPCW announced that Syria was chemical weapons-free.ve

The Syrian Government has been accused of using chemical weapons many times, in eastern Ghouta and in other areas. Under this pretext, [th U.S. and its allies] launched their aggression on Syria. Syria affirmed many times through statements by Syrian officials, both before and after the agreement was signed, that Syria does not in any way intend to use chemical weapons and that Syria has not used nor will it use chemical weapons.

After the declaration of this organization [OPCW] that Syria is free from chemical weapons, how could Syria use something that it does not have? Despite evidence that chemical substances and weapons entered into areas under the control of militant groups in Syria through Turkish borders, investigations were not resumed.

There are a number of videos showing how the armed groups were the ones using chemical weapons themselves. Each time Syria was accused of using chemical weapons, the Syrian army was on the verge of finishing a military operation. Is it logical they’d use chemical weapons — which would prevent the declaration of victory?

With regard to their claim of using chemicals in Ghouta, the areas there are interconnected. Those who use chemical weapons cannot protect themselves. When those terrorists used chemicals there, both the civilians and the military were hit, as was the case in Khan al-Asal and elsewhere. This was exposed in the [UN] Security Council by Bashar al-Ja’afari.

Syria does not possess chemical weapons. Syria has never used chemical weapons before. Syria cannot use a chemical weapon for a simple reason, or for two reasons in fact: Ethically, Syria does not believe in using chemicals [weapons]. This is number one. Second, Syria does not own chemical weapons.

 

EB | The Rukban Camp is near the U.S. base of al-Tanf. One question is about the U.S. relationship with ISIS in that area and whether or not America has been fighting ISIS in the area. Also, according to Western media, refugees evacuated from Rukban to centers in Homs, for example, are taken and thrown in prison.

For example, the Canadian Globe & Mail, citing a Qatari-based organization, said that from 2017 to 2019 around 2,000 Syrians who returned to government-controlled areas (in general and not from Rukban specifically) were detained and 784 are still in prison. How would you reply to accusations that people returning home were detained or forced to serve in the Syrian army?

GH | In relation to ISIS and the U.S., I can say that a mother does not eat her own son. ISIS is a U.S. product, according to American confessions. However, America sometimes becomes a cat and eats some of its own kittens when they become a burden.

America uses ISIS, fights with ISIS, not against ISIS. Whenever the role of some armed ISIS fighters comes to an end, the U.S. abandons or gets rid of them. The U.S. does not care whether those members get killed or not.

However, when the U.S. needs them, it sends helicopters to evacuate them, just like what happened when Deir ez-Zor was liberated. American helicopters would land and evacuate ISIS leaders together with their families and fly them somewhere else.

Rukban Camp is within the sight of the Americans in the Tanf base. U.S. surveillance can distinguish a hen from a rooster on a street anywhere in the world. How is it that ISIS members are able to move at the Tanf border without being observed by the U.S. military there? How can the U.S. convince the world that it is fighting ISIS when the latter’s members move freely under U.S. observation?

Four months ago, I was working with the Head of the Russian Reconciliation Centre, General Victor Kopcheshen. He told me that the Russian government received an official reply from the Americans that they would not allow any Syrian or Russian to come close to the 55-kilometer line around Rukban Camp to help evacuate people from the camp.

Less than four months ago we first began evacuating a few hundred [people] from Rukban. Now, the number of people who returned from Rukban Camp has exceeded 15,000 (As of July 31, that number has reached 17,458 according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense). Can anyone provide me with the name of even one person who left Rukban and got detained? These claims are flagrant lies.


Author’s note | 

I asked officials at the UN about the accusation that the Syrian government was imprisoning former residents of Rukban, I detailed their reply in a separate article for MintPress:

“David Swanson, Public Information Officer Regional Office for the Syria Crisis UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs based in Amman, Jordan, told me regarding claims of substandard conditions and of Syrians being forcefully held or mistreated in the centers that:

‘People leaving Rukban are taken to temporary collective shelters in Homs for a 24-hour stay. While there, the receive basic assistance, including shelter, blankets, mattresses, solar lamps, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, food parcels and nutrition supplies before proceeding to their areas of choice, mostly towards southern and eastern Homs, with smaller small numbers going to rural Damascus or Deir-ez-Zor.

The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters on three occasions and has found the situation there adequate. The United Nations continues to advocate and call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian assistance and access to Rukban as well as to all those in need throughout Syria. The United Nations also seeks the support of all concerned parties in ensuring the humanitarian and voluntary character of departures from Rukban.’

Hedinn Halldorsson, the Spokesperson and Public Information Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based in Damascus, told me:

‘We looked into this when the rumours started, end of April, and concluded they were unfounded – and communicated that externally via press briefings in both Geneva and NY. The conditions in the shelters in Homs are also adequate and in compliance with standards; the UN has access and has done three monitoring visits so far.’”


GH | I would like to stress a point concerning military service in the army. Several presidential decrees have been issued. Any Syrian citizen [living] abroad who wishes to settle his status and return to Syria can benefit from those decrees, which invalidate any other verdict issued against that Syrian citizen.

These decrees do not nullify a Syrian citizen’s rights nor their duties. Syrian citizens who return to Syria are still Syrian citizens and therefore still have the duties of Syrian citizens. The decrees granted them a grace period of six months to settle their legal status.

For example, a person who lost their official ID, or army service registry or anything, can settle their legal status during this period. It is a normal official procedure to call for duty those who are subject to mandatory or reserve military service. This procedure has been applied to all Syrian citizens in all provinces, not only those who return.

I cannot say just respect the rights and ignore the duties. Everyone is equal before the law. They have to obey what Syrian law states and the majority of them are loyal and doing their duties enthusiastically.

But the people who have their status settled do not have the right to commit a crime. If I had a son living abroad who returned and settled his status, does it give him the right to commit an offense against his neighbors or to kill somebody or commit a crime? The law is the law and must be adhered to.

 

EB | Western media say that Iran and Russia’s presence in Syria is an attempt to occupy Syria and control it. What are the roles of Iran and Russia in Syria?

GH | Before I answer your question, let us decide what logic we’re using. Are we using the logic of international law or the law of the jungle? Who has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people? It is only the Syrian state that has the right to speak in the name of the Syrian people. No other side has the right to speak for them. Surely, those who are speaking in the name of the Syrian people do not know the Syrian people. It is really strange that the governments of those who kill the Syrian people are acting as if they were advocates of the Syrian people.

According to international law, it is the right of any state to defend itself when such a country faces hazards endangering its own existence. Such a country has the right to defend its existence and sovereignty by using all means possible. In this respect, this country has the right to rely on its relations with friends and allies as well, no matter whether those allies are Russian, Iranian or any other ally. Neither the U.S., Israel nor the Gulf states have anything to do with this. It is a matter of Syrian sovereignty.

The other thing has to do with the military presence of any country on the territory of another state. Such a presence can be legal in one of the following two cases: when invited by the state concerned, or through a resolution issued by the [UN] Security Council. Otherwise, such a presence is an occupation.

Therefore, there is no reason for the Syrian state to be ashamed of its stance on the presence of Iran or Russia in Syria. The Syrian State declares its stances clearly and explicitly: that the presence of Iran, Russia and Hezbollah is based upon an official invitation by the Syrian government. Thus, their presence is legal according to international law. Can anyone in the West — or the media outlets who claim to be neutral — convince any Syrian citizen that the U.S. presence or the Turkish presence is legal?

The Syrian State says they are forces of occupation. There is no [UN] Security Council resolution allowing them to be present in Syria. So what is the meaning behind their presence? They are using the law of force, rather than the force of law. Thus, they are referring back to the law of the jungle and not to the force of international law.

Those occupiers support terrorism, created terrorism, and are still financing it according to a confession made by the former Qatari prime minister that his country spent $37 billion to arm and finance armed groups in Syria. The Qatari PM confessed that his country and the armed groups had agreed to destroy Syria. Yet, they disputed when things went out of their control. They paid the armed groups to hunt the prey. However, they disputed among themselves when the prey escaped.

 

EB | Syria welcomed Palestinian refugees and has supported the Palestinian resistance. Could you please explain the role of some Palestinians in the events in Syria within the past few years, whether in fighting terrorism or supporting it.

Will Hamas Challenge Fatah in the West Bank?

GH | The Syrian State does not deal with people and does not take stances based on reactions. The Syrian state has its own constants and principles, and it [continues to] adhere to these constants and principles even in its ninth year of war. Syria still believes that the cause of Palestine is the central cause of the Arab world.

So, when some Palestinian groups choose to affiliate themselves with the Muslim Brotherhood rather than being loyal to the Palestinian cause and to Syria, it makes Syria [even] more committed to its principles. Especially as these days, the world knows well that the Muslim Brotherhood [has become] the basis of evil since they’ve adopted terrorism.

The Palestinian cause remains the central cause. Syria will always take interest in the Palestinian cause, in spite of the fact that some [Palestinians] were eager to be part of the war on the Syrian State. Even though weapons that were supposed to be used to fight Israel were used in the war on Syrian citizens.

The Syrian State is now recovering and history will remember those [Palestinians] as traitors. History will show that Syria has been, and will be, loyal to the Palestinian cause.

The Yarmouk Camp is back under Syrian sovereignty. The camp is now free from those who carried weapons and used them against Syrian citizens, whatever names they used — ISIS, Nusra or otherwise — and regardless of their nationality, Palestinian or otherwise. All of them are now gone, thanks to the sacrifices made by the Syrian people the heroism of the Syrian Arab Army and the wisdom of our leader, President Bashar al-Assad.

 

EB | Some Palestinians remained loyal to Syria, including in fighting terrorism, like the Quds Brigade…

GH | Yes, of course. Surely. There are loyal people even inside occupied Palestine. Not all people are ungrateful to those who help them. Not all people bite the hand that is stretched out to help them. Only traitors bite that hand.

 

EB | When eastern Aleppo and eastern Ghouta were being liberated, Western and international media said that the Syrian army was massacring and raping civilians there and that both the Syrian and the Russian militaries were bombing hospitals. Now, they are saying that 29 hospitals in Idlib have been targeted. What would you say about these accusations?

GH | We have liberated eastern Ghouta. We have also liberated eastern Aleppo. In both locations, a number of field hospitals were shown on television with piles of medicine. This implies that these hospitals were not bombed. This is very briefly.

The other point is that when a building is selected as a command center for armed groups under the pretext of its being a hospital, does this mean we should let those positioned in eastern Ghouta target Damascus on a daily basis with their shells?

Didn’t the world watch those angels of mercy, when they entered Adra industrial town, burning people alive in ovens and throwing civilians off fourth and fifth floors?

We’re talking about war here, we’re talking here about armies of terrorists equipped with light, medium and heavy weapons and empires of media around the world, in addition to the regional and world powers supporting them.

It is the duty of the Syrian State, before being its own right, to provide the Syrian people with protection against terrorism. The problem with the national Syrian media is that it does not reach the West.

Crossing points are identified as corridors for the exit of civilians before any military operation gets started in a populated area. Such corridors are then equipped with ambulances, medical services and every other need. Who targeted the nurses, doctors and civilians on their way out when citizens were evacuated from eastern Ghouta?

Has anybody seen the photo of the Syrian soldier carrying an old woman on his back and a child on his arm? That soldier knew he could drop as a martyr carrying this heavy load. Other soldiers fell as martyrs while they were helping civilians escape.

That number, 29 hospitals, is a lie in itself. It is more than the number of [national] hospitals available all over Syria. Do they allocate a hospital for every twenty or thirty people? This is illogical.

There is also something strange about all the field hospitals that we discovered. Saudi, Israeli and U.S. medicine was found in these hospitals. How did such medicine reach the terrorists? Did it come from underneath the ground?

And those who had been targeting Damascus and Aleppo are all of sudden depicted as angels of mercy, peace and freedom advocates calling for democracy?

It’s worth pointing out to people in the West that it has been proven that only a limited number of the fighters in armed groups came from western Europe and North America, while tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, came from other countries.

The Turkish president declares that such terrorists are free to leave Syrian territory whenever he gets upset with Europe or the U.S. Subsequently, EU countries and the U.S. get so horrified at the possibility of those terrorists returning home.

The EU countries and the U.S. do not want any of those terrorists to return. Why is it that they do not want them to come back? Are they not their own citizens? They say that such terrorists will spread terrorism, so they spread terrorism there while they plant roses and flowers here? Is it okay for terrorists to spread terror here while they’re forbidden to return to their own countries?

Briefly, these are the types of lies spread by the West.

I’m calling on each and every citizen of Western countries, as I am absolutely sure that they have pure human emotion, not to believe the Western media. I want them to be certain that their governments have participated in the killing of the Syrian people and in the killing of Syrian children. Their governments participated in the killing of Syrian women and the killing of the Syrian elderly and convinced them [Western citizens] that they were promoting something else [freedom].

 

EB | Recently, journalists from CBS and Sky News were in Idlib. I believe one of the two groups, Sky News, claimed that it was targeted by the Syrian army. Could they be reporting independently of al-Qaeda or any of the other terrorist groups in Idlib? They claim they are not [embedded] with al-Qaeda. Is this feasible? Is this realistic? 

GH | It’s a funny question. You’re a journalist. Surely, this is not the first time you have visited Syria. Have you faced any obstacles while entering Syria as a journalist? Do any Western or European countries accept the entry of foreign journalists illegally into their countries?

Sky News, the BBC, and Al Jazeera teams conduct live transmissions while embedded with armed groups — the terrorists. I wish that the mental power of the Syrian soldiers could become super advanced so that they can order shells to avoid foreign correspondents who are side by side with terrorists. The army is responding to attacks launched by terrorists — soldiers and officers of the Syrian army cannot give orders to an exploding shell to avoid this or that.

The most important question is this: What are they doing there? How did they enter? Who is in control in Idlib? Isn’t it the Nusra Front? How are they [the journalists] allowed to be there? They are there under the protection of the Nusra Front. They are under the protection of an internationally-designated terrorist organization. Their countries should hold them accountable for communicating with terrorist groups before asking why the army is targeting them.

 

EB | How can Idlib be liberated when Turkish forces occupy northern Syria and there are civilians in Idlib, in addition to the 70,000 al-Qaeda and other terrorist fighters?

GH | There were civilians and armed groups in Homs. There were civilians and armed groups in Ghouta as well. There were civilians and armed groups all over Dara`a.  All these regions have been liberated. The majority of citizens remained there while the terrorists were wiped out. Idlib is no exception. Eastern parts of the Euphrates are no exception either.

Each square centimeter of Syrian land is part and parcel of Syria as a whole. It is the duty and the right of the Syrian State to eradicate terrorism.

Unless under an invitation by the Syrian government, any foreign military presence on the Syrian territory is a force of occupation. The Syrian State is entitled to face such an occupation with every possible means.

The Syrian State has opened the door wide for reconciliation. The Syrian State trusts the wisdom of Russian and Iranian friends and relies on its relations with Turkey.

Surely each Syrian citizen, civilian or military, wishes that not even one drop of blood be spilled. This does not mean to yield to occupation in any way.

Idlib will be freed either through reconciliations or a political agreement. Otherwise, the Syrian State will find the means to liberate Idlib in the same way it liberated all other regions. I am absolutely certain — not as an officer but rather as a citizen — I know how Syrian citizens think; they believe that Idlib will be freed, as will each and every inch of the Syrian territory.

The presence of U.S., Turkish, or any other occupation force does not mean such a force is a destiny that cannot be faced. As long as we [the Syrian State] spare no effort or means — whether military, political, economic or diplomatic —  to win this war [against terrorism] by God’s will, and I hope it is not going to be through military action. But if things reach a dead-end, Idlib will not remain under occupation.

 

EB | Can you speak to the importance of liberating Idlib, not only for Syria’s territorial integrity but also for the villages in Northern Hama that are affected by terrorists in Idlib? The media is not talking about Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other places being attacked by terrorists.

GH | When Mhardeh and Sqailbiyeh are targeted, as a Syrian citizen, I do not see these two towns as less important than Damascus. Likewise when the neighborhoods of Homs were targeted.

All areas inhabited by Syrian citizens under the control of the Syrian State have been targets for those armed terrorist groups that are supported by the West, which claims it is standing by human rights and cares about the interests of the Syrian people.

For Syrian citizens, the liberation of each centimeter, or rather each grain of sand, is as important as the liberation of Idlib. Of course, the existence of armed groups in Idlib leads to abnormal circumstances that cause dysfunction in citizens’ daily lives. Thus, it is important to liberate Idlib to guarantee the return of normal life in Mahardeh, Sqailbiyeh and other areas.

At the same time, it is important to end the occupation by the U.S. and its allies.

I hope that each European or American citizen will ask: Why do Syrian citizens return to areas that have been liberated? Why do citizens welcome the army? Why do citizens — except those who are held hostage by terrorists — flee from areas under the control of terrorist groups?

The civilians residing in terrorist-held areas are helpless hostages. A year ago all of the neighborhoods in eastern Ghouta were populated by terrorists. If the Syrian army had been shelling civilians in the past, why not do now? Why are people now living in peace there?

These are questions that I put forward to people living in the West. I hope they are human enough to ask [themselves] these questions.

 

EB | Regarding misinformation from international media on the Syrian Arab Army, portraying them as murderers and rapists. Can you speak about the sacrifices of the Syrian Arab Army throughout these eight years of war?

GH | I will answer your question with a question. Syria is an area of 185,000 square kilometers. According to United Nations documents, 360,000 armed terrorists infiltrated Syrian territory.

I would like to draw an example other than Syria. I’ll give the U.S., the superpower of the world, as an example. Let’s suppose that 36,000, rather than 360,000, terrorists infiltrate any state of the United States. That’s 10 percent of the number of terrorists who made their way into Syria. Let’s also suppose that such terrorists are supported by world powers. What would have happened to the U.S.?

The achievements of the Syrian Arab Army are not ordinary; these achievements are miraculous accomplishments.

The two greatest armies in modern history have failed to achieve what the Syrian Army has accomplished. In Afghanistan, fewer than 10 percent of the number of terrorists in Syria were able to defeat two armies: the Red Soviet Army and the U.S. Army.

But, the Syrian Army defeated such terrorism. According to military theory, any fight between an army and terrorist militia of armed gangs will end with the armed gangs winning. This has been evident throughout military history.

For the first time in the history of humankind, a traditional army has defeated armies of militant groups. The Syrian Army fought battles that can be classified as new in military science. The Syrian Army fought above ground and underground battles in addition to their battles against the media war, intelligence war, information war, economic war, gang and street-to-street wars. Despite all of that, the Syrian Army achieved victory. Therefore, can we imagine the magnitude of the sacrifices made in this respect by the Syrian Army?

In the first months of this war, the Syrian leadership realized that the terrorists wanted Syrians to be used to seeing blood everywhere. So, soldiers were forbidden from carrying weapons, even handguns, when they went to areas of so-called demonstrations to prevent demonstrators from destroying infrastructure.

For months the soldiers confronted the militants knowing that they could be martyred. However, the discipline of the Syrian army pushed the soldiers to do their missions without carrying a weapon.

Let any Western citizen imagine how it would be for a soldier with no weapons facing armed militants to stop them from destroying infrastructure and targeting civilians.

This is the Syrian army. The Syrian army cleared most of the Syrian regions occupied by the fiercest types of terrorism ever witnessed in the history of mankind.

 

EB |  Thank you very much for your time and for the interview in general.

GH |  I also would like to thank you all for what you’ve done so far and for all of the questions you raised. I kindly request that you share my replies with foreign readers.

Personally, I think your role as an objective journalist transcends the traditional role of journalism. It reflects an ethical responsibility of telling the truth about what you’ve seen. If you want to help the Syrian people, the greatest help you can offer the Syrian people is to tell the truth you have seen with your own eyes, not just what is said all over the internet.

Again, anyone can look up Abu Saqr al-Souri and see how he ate the heart of a dead soldier. He was a member of the so-called peaceful group of the Free Syrian Army, when he was killed — he was with the Nusra Front. This can be enough to convey the message.

Syrian Army inflicts heavy losses in ISIS ranks in central Syria, Russian Warplanes Destroy Two Early Warning Posts In Northern Hama, Kill Several Militants

 

BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:30 P.M.) – The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) struck back against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh) in central Syria, launching several attacks on the terrorist group’s positions in the Badiya Al-Sham region.

Using both air and ground strikes, the Syrian Army began their assault by targeting a number of Islamic State terrorists near the T-3 Pumping Station in the eastern part of the Homs Governorate on Wednesday.

Following an attack near the T-3 Station, the Syrian military expanded their strikes to the Deir Ezzor Governorate’s western border, where they killed several members of the Islamic State and inflicted heavy damage on their military equipment.

The Syrian Arab Army recently stepped up their strikes against the Islamic State, following several hit-and-run attacks that resulted in a number of casualties for the military in both central and eastern Syria.

RUSSIAN WARPLANES DESTROY TWO EARLY WARNING POSTS IN NORTHERN HAMA, KILL SEVERAL MILITANTS

Russian warplanes destroyed on August 7 two militant early warning posts in the northern Hama countryside, known as the 20th post and the Eagle post.

Early warning posts, usually stationed in plain sights, are tasked with monitoring flights of Russian and Syrian warplanes. The posts, some of which are linked with the White Helmet, warn militants throughout Greater Idlib fromof possible airstrikes on their positions.

Opposition activists acknowledged that four militants, including two commanders known as Abu Jalbib and Abdo al-Nasan, were killed in the Russian airstrikes on the early warning posts.

Russian Warplanes Destroy Two Early Warning Posts In Northern Hama, Kill Several Militants

On the left Abu Jalbib and Abdo al-Nasan on the right.

In the last 24 hours, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) liberated the villages of al-Zaka and al-Arbaeen in northern Hama with direct support from the Russian Aerospace Forces.

The SAA will likely advance further in northern Hama in the upcoming few hours. Heavy Russian and Syrian airstrikes are already pounding militants’ positions in the key towns of Kafr Zita and al-Lataminah.

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Deeds not words

ST

From the very beginning of the Astana process, all the final communiques issued at the end of each round stressed commitment to Syria’s sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and cooperation until terrorist organizations are totally eradicated. However, Turkey, despite being one of the three guarantor states of the Astana process, has been breaching Astana understandings through training terrorist groups, supporting them and facilitating their movement into Syrian territories.

The most recent violation of the Astana process took place during the last round of talks recently concluded in the Kazakh capital Nur Sultan. Hours after putting into force the cease-fire agreement in the de-escalation zone in Idleb, terrorist groups fired several rockets from Shahshabou mountain near the Turkish observatory No. 10 toward the Syrian coast claiming one life and injuring three civilians, in addition to causing huge material damage to public and private properties. This means that Turkey is part of the problem and not the solution of the crisis in Syria. Throughout the last eight years, the Turkish regime has been offering unlimited support to the terrorist groups.

 

Turkey hasn’t ceased to conspire against Syria by supporting terrorists that came from more than 80 countries through Turkey to join ISIS, Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Cham, and other Al Qaeda-affiliated groups.

The attempts made by the Turkish regime to depict itself as the victim and that it is defending itself against terrorism is misleading.

Everyone is aware of what this regime has done with regard to offering all forms of support to terrorist organizations violating Security Council resolutions pertaining to combatting terrorism.

The Turkish government is directly responsible for the shedding of Syrian blood and the humanitarian suffering of millions of Syrians inside and outside Syria as a result of Erdogan’s support for takfiri terrorism. If Turkey and other neighboring countries had abided by the Security Council’s counter terrorism laws, most elements of the crisis in Syria would have been resolved.

Erdogan has regularly facilitated the entry of the armed terrorist groups into Kassab area in Lattakia countryside. Erdogan’s government, considered, planned, approved and carried out an aggression against Syria, and this aggression was carried out on behalf of terrorism and has nothing to do with Turkish national interests.

The Turkish regime has yet to implement its commitments as per the Sochi agreement and Astana process regarding the removal of terrorist organizations from the de-escalation zone in Idleb.

The Turkish commitment to Astana process should be coupled with actions on the ground, namely halting its military incursions into Syrian territories and supporting terrorist organizations operating in Idleb. What is required from the Turkish regime is deeds not words. It has to pair the beautiful ideas of the final communique with actions on ground as it continues to occupy parts of Syria in violation of Astana understandings stipulating for commitment to Syria’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

K.Q.

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Trump Warns Again He Could “Kill Millions of Afghans”!

By Staff, Agencies

US President Donald Trump has once again warned that American troops could win the Afghan war within days by killing millions across the conflict-ridden country.

Trump made the warning on Friday as he hailed the “progress” made in peace talks between his administration and the Taliban militant group.

“We’ve made a lot of progress. We’re talking,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

He further claimed that US forces, bogged down in the country for nearly two decades, “could win Afghanistan in two days or three days or four days, but I’m not looking to kill 10 million people.”

In a similar comment in July, Trump spoke about 10 million casualties but this time he specified that no nuclear weapons would be involved, saying, “I’m talking conventional.”

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.  While the invasion ended the Taliban’s rule in the country, it has failed to eliminate the militant group. Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] has also emerged in the Asian country more recently.

The US has been attempting to negotiate an alleged peace deal with the Taliban militant group, which now controls or influences about half of Afghanistan’s territory.

The Afghan government is left out of the talks between the Taliban and the US. The Taliban say they don’t recognize the Kabul government and that they will not hold talks with it unless all foreign forces exit the country.

Meanwhile, about 20,000 foreign troops, mostly Americans, are based in Afghanistan.

Washington representatives and those of the Taliban are soon expected to begin their eighth round of talks in the Qatari capital of Doha to reach an agreement on ending the Afghan war, with the US saying it wants to see a deal inked by September 1.

According to a UN report released this week, at least 1,366 civilians were killed and another 2,446 wounded during the first six months of 2019 as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan.

Have the Zionists Forgotten their Defeat in Joroud Arsal? The Joroud Victory In ’Israel’s’ Eyes: No One Can Stop Hezbollah

By Hussein Mortada

Have the Zionists forgotten their defeat in Joroud Arsal? The answer to this question is certainly not. Their wager in favor of the terrorists was so great that one of the most prominent “Israeli” military analysts wrote for the Haaretz newspaper in the summer of 2013 that

“Israel” no longer needs to fight in Lebanon. Hezbollah has drowned in the Syrian conflict and will not survive it.”

Everything was pointing to the inevitability of a major battle in the Joroud with a very important dimension. It was a disappointment for the Zionists. It was also the battle of the second victory in Joroud Arsal and Qalamoun.

It did not start in July 2017. It started with the beginning of the war against Syria in 2011. The plans of the countries leading the aggression and supporting the militants depended on the principle of seizing full control over the border areas. They would then use these areas as a springboard to invade resistance-held territory using terrorist ground forces with NATO-“Israeli”-Gulf support and planning.

Moving the battle into the home front to preoccupy the resistance and the Lebanese army was the beginning. The objective was to take control of and strike the resistance’s environment. Therefore, the battle of liberating Joroud is more significant than the July 2006 victory because it was an “Israeli” battle with an “Israeli” objective and “Israeli” tools even though the La Ilaha Illa Allah [No God except Allah] flag was raised. The resistance achieved more victories, including the Qusair victory, Talkalakh at the northern border, Syria’s Qalamoun, Joroug Arsal, Ras Baalbek and al-Qaa. The most dangerous objective of the terrorists and their backers was invading the central Bekaa up until the border with Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms. Of course, these areas along with occupied Palestine would have all been under the control of the terrorists and the countries backing them. Meanwhile, they would have secured a maritime access from Tripoli in Lebanon.

In short, this is the battle of the border. This is what the resistance thwarted in cooperation with the Syrian army. Meanwhile, the Lebanese army played an important role at the end of the battle.

According to what was planned, these terrorist groups were supposed to start with plan (B), which is besieging the resistance, paralyzing its movements and striking it in its environment. Here, we recall that part of this plan had been put in motion through the use of car bombs as well as identifying certain parties in Lebanon that conform to these plans and ideas. Here several obvious questions must be asked:

What if the Syrian army and the resistance had decided not to take action early on in order to thwart this project?

  • What if these groups were left alone along the border areas to blow up whatever they wanted and kill and kidnap whomever they wanted?

Based on this plan, which is even related to the nature of the battle with the Zionists, it was necessary to work on its failure and destruction, albeit in stages. Due to the nature of the battle that is also associated with some Syrian regions, the resistance adopted the policy of capturing and then dividing the regions and stages. Thus, the battle of Qusair coincided with Syria’s Qusair. The battle of Talkalakh at the northern border was associated with the Syrian Zara area, which was an important corridor used by militants to move between Lebanon and the Syrian depth. The battles went from Qalamaoun, to Yabroud, to al-Zabadani to the Joroud in order to besiege these groups in these areas.

All the preparations were completed to clear Lebanese areas of any terrorist – after these groups carried out several bombings and killed a number of Lebanese army soldiers. As in every victory, the Golden Triangle, the army, the people and the resistance, was present.

The resistance launched the Joroud operation to eliminate the last hope these groups had to move the battle inside Lebanon. It was a delicate and sensitive operation where politics overlapped with the military, geography and strategy. Therefore, the second liberation’s dimensions are equally important to the first victory over the Zionists in 2000.

The resistance and the Lebanese army, on the one hand, and the Syrian army and the resistance, on the other, caught the terrorists in Joroud in a pincer. Hence, full victory was achieved and the lands were returned to their owners. Security and stability prevailed across the whole of Lebanon despite its complex geography. Thus, Lebanon was on a date with a great victory.

Have the Zionists Forgotten their Defeat in Joroud Arsal?

Al-Ahed Website

Beirut – The shock was evident on the face of “Israel’s” former war minister, Avigdor Lieberman. After days of censoring media and military institutions when it came to Hezbollah’s 2007 military campaign to liberate Lebanon’s eastern Joroud, the man was unable to admit the impact of the defeat. Hezbollah had liberated the Joroud from the terror of “Israel’s” agents, the Nusra Front and Daesh.

From the heart of Tel Aviv, Lieberman called on the units of the military headquarters to prepare for various scenarios, warning that “the next conflict with Lebanon will also include Syria.”

Amid a flurry of confusion, the chief of the “Israeli” military and security establishment spoke about the unity of the fronts and directed threats at both Lebanon and Syria.

“If we talk about the Lebanese front, there is no such front anymore. There will be one front that includes Syria and Lebanon together: Hezbollah, the Assad regime and all those collaborating with the Assad regime,” he said.

All the analysis aside, Lebanon heard the message clearly. The cohesion between the Lebanese army and the resistance deprived the concerned parties in “Israel” of their sleep.

“The Lebanese army has become an integral part of Hezbollah’s strength and is under its leadership. The Lebanese army has lost its independence and has become an integral part of Hezbollah’s strength,” Lieberman stressed.

Going with the saying, ‘thanks to the recognition of the enemy’, Hezbollah succeeded in creating another cause for concern along the “Israeli” front.

The enemy’s observers were surprised by the speed with which the victory was achieved. According to Maariv, “the battles of the eastern Joroud in Lebanon are sending a clear message to three heads: “Israel”, the United States and Saudi Arabia. The message implied that the group is very capable of defending itself against all threats. Its combat skills are growing with time.”

For its part, the “Israeli” website Nzivnet published a special report explaining the exact course of the battles.

“Hezbollah is engaged in fierce battles in Joruod Arsal including artillery shelling and even close quarter combat. Hezbollah can be seen working as a trained army that operates heavy machinery such as armored personnel carriers, artillery, mortars shells and others. Meanwhile, the Radwan force – the force assigned to occupy the Galilee in the next war with “Israel” – carries out complex commando operation such as taking control of isolated places and caves,” the site reported.

“Hezbollah does not appear to be a guerrilla organization that “Israel” knew in the 90s and the beginning of the third millennium,” Nzivnet added.

The website underscores fears about “the flags of Hezbollah and Lebanon fluttering together atop a hill in the Wadi al-Khail region. This is the image of Hezbollah’s victory over terrorism. It is not in Aleppo or in Daraa. It is in Arsal, at home. Hezbollah has come back to fight at home. It is sending us signals too. And no one can stop it.”

“Israeli” worries spilled over from the battlefield into the political front. According to Haaretz, “Hezbollah took responsibility for the negotiations as if it were the Lebanese government. The party succeeded in securing the approval of the Lebanese army to adhere to the agreement it reached to deport fighters of the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.”

“This move by Hezbollah may not have any far-reaching strategic consequences from a military perspective, unlike the removal of al-Qaeda from the Lebanese border. But the organization will know how to capitalize on it when the time comes to discuss security in areas neighboring Lebanon,” Haaretz added.

Perhaps the entity’s fear is embodied in a few words said by the head of the “Israeli” military surveillance apparatus, Herzl Halevi, as he addressed the Joroud battles.

“Hezbollah is a stone’s throw away from the “Israeli” border.”

US-led War of Terror Against Syria, Attrition Terrorism Phase

SN

July 22, 2019

phosphate train attack

US/EU supported terrorists attacked phosphate train in Homs, latest crime in terrorist attrition. Credit: SANA

The US-led war of terror against Syria continues its most recent attacks via attrition terrorism, the brutal form of slow genocide against the Syrian citizenry. Yesterday, NATO countries beloved ‘armed moderates’ attacked a phosphate freight train in eastern Homs.

The phosphate freight train in the eastern Homs countryside was attacked 21 July by a sabotage terrorist, which led to the towing of the locomotive, the passenger car, the calibration truck, the phosphate tanks, the fire in the locomotive, the train crew were injured and the necessary treatment and treatment provided. The Ministry of Transport said in a statement received by SANA copy that terrorists infiltrated the site of the railway between the positions of the gap and insight and planted an explosive device on the train line next to the phosphate mines in the region of Khnevis in the eastern Homs. The ministry indicated that its technical workshops have begun work to remove the damage caused by the terrorist attack, repair the railway and resume transport operations.

As the sons and daughters of Syrians — the Syrian Arab Army — continue to make military gains to cleanse every inch of the Republic from foreign-owned savages, attrition terrorism has seen a massive spike, in recent weeks.

In less than one month, oil and gas pipelines have been sabotaged around the country:

  • 22 June, undersea pipelines from tankers to the Baniyas Refinery were cut. Though Syrian engineers and technicians were able to quickly make repairs, oil pollution traveled 26km. It is noteworthy that MSM, UN, and ecology activists were all mute over this near disaster, but that NATO-media came to life to cheer the English royal thugs piracy against an Iranian tanker that was suspected of carrying crude to the SAR (warmongering media now screeching that the EU is screeching about a Brit tanker boarded by the government of Iran, in compliance with international law). Empire media also remains mute over the economic terrorism euphemistically called ‘sanctions‘ imposed against the Syrian people.
  • 14 July, NATO and Gulfie armed savages engaged in attrition terrorism, sabotaging the al Shaer Gas pipeline in Homs, which was almost immediately repaired.

Though the warmonger media of NATO countries have ignored the recent spike in attrition terrorism against Syria’s essential infrastructure, they have continued to pimp out emotional war porn, breaching Nuremberg Principle VI, crimes against humanity: On 11 July, Channel 4 ran a report that could fit into an insanity screenwriting genre.

AFP again is demanding its readers engage in Hollywood suspension of disbelief; while ignoring the atrocities against Syria, today it shamelessly runs another photo, one of an ongoing series of miracles in the lives of the stethoscope-less, CPR-less, spinal precautions-less death squad fake paramedics.

Here we have yet another photo of man ‘rescued from the rubble.’ As with every other similar photograph, this man has no crushing injuries — which would be expected if a bombed building fell on him. He is fully ambulatory and is able to move all extremities. He has nicely painted the shade of Helmets Gray Rubble, and his hair was coiffed before having been painted.

Another miraculous Zombie Man rescue. No crushing injuries. Fully ambulatory.
This absurdity — or another in ongoing miracles — is not quite as ludicrous as other Helmets Productions, shown here.

Attrition terrorism is not limited to the wanton, criminal destruction of essential infrastructure. Attrition terrorism includes ‘brain drain’ assassinations; in the early days, when all of al Qaeda in Syria was FSA, these ‘moderates’ murdered professors, physicians, and heads of hospitals, while NATO media remained silent. Attrition terrorism includes trying to destroy joy, as was attempted with the terror bombing of the Damascus Fair in 2017, and more recently, in the mortar attacks on Aleppo, as the city celebrates its rebuilding, creation of a mini-renaissance.

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Syria’s President, Dr. Bashar al Assad, #EveryInch

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From January, Syria to Provide Crimea with Phosphate & Other Goods

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The Peoples’ Will is Stronger Than the US Arrogance

ST

The Peoples’ Will is Stronger Than the US Arrogance

The game of destructive chaos in the region is the only policy pursued by the United States for years in the belief that it serves its interests without realizing that this policy which it calls “creative”, undermines security and stability in the region and the world, as well as the US’s interests.

Today, this unproductive policy dips into the depths of the maze that has placed itself in the neck of its glass. In the case of the Arab-Israeli conflict, this policy tries to impose alternative means of settlement away from the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, away from the two-state solution and the restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people, the first of which is the right of return.

As if the case in Washington is a business deal and not rights of an oppressed people. The US struggled at the Bahrain conference and then at the Bahrain workshop to accomplish what it calls the “deal of the century”, or in a clear sense the liquidation of the Palestinian cause and putting the poisons of American economy into the honey of the so-called peace. The same applies to its escalating policy in the Arab Gulf to ignite new wars that generate thousands of billions of dollars from the vast open-monarchies treasury.

In Syria, Washington is pursuing its destructive colonialist approach under the pretext of fighting the alleged terrorism and maintaining the security of its tools on the Syrian territory as (Qasad)militia that has committed the worst crimes against civilians returning from Baguoz after being destroyed by the American coalition under the pretext of bombing the extremists (Da’ish).

Washington is doing every conceivable effort to calm down the Israeli entity over its alleged security trying to legitimize its settlements and whitewash its occupation of the Arab territories, once by facilitating its direct aggression and once by granting it the alleged sovereignty over the occupied Golan and Jerusalem. The US exercises all this aggression without realizing that the peoples’ will of the region is stronger than all its arrogance.

The “deal of the century” has showed the real size of Washington, just a tool in the hands of the Zionist lobby, seeking to recruit billions to impose a “political solution” on the size of the Zionist entity. Both Trump and Netanyahu will give nothing to the Palestinian people and their bloody history and illegitimate settlement are present, recalling the occupation of Jerusalem, ignoring international laws and agreements, and the Zionist entity’s persistence in building settlements. The main objective is to swallow Palestine, erase its borders from the map, expel its people and end the file of the right of return for all Palestinians.

The current international developments against a background of the fires ignited by the policy of American arrogance indicate that many of the adverse results will return to the Trump administration whose poles are floundering between escalation once, reducing tension and begging dialogue and negotiation at other times to contain the accumulation of failures in the face of a lot of files and international issues that Washington wanted to rotate the corners in the direction that serves the agenda of domination that it wants to impose on the world.

With this American failure, the Trump administration is now making every effort to please the American interior ahead of the upcoming presidential election bazaar. Despite the counterproductive results of the Bahrain Workshop and the clear message that the policy of dictation, threats and intimidation, the “deal of the century “will not be translated into reality, even if the Arabs drowned to their ears in free normalization projects with the Zionist enemy.

Even though Trump, who implicitly admitted to the failure of the conspiracy of the era before disclosing its political side, continues striking the chord of illusion, and he himself wishes the implementation of the “deal of the century” in his presidential term, or it will never get because the wills of the axis resistance countries are much stronger than the military arsenals of Trump, and the bluster of the Arab- Zionists.

Sharif Al -Khatib
Editor-in-Chief
sharifalkh@gmail.com

 

Syria Defending Future of Entire Region By Fighting Terrorist Organizations: Russian Ambassador

ST

Created on Saturday, 20 July 2019 20:32

DAMASCUS, (ST)- Syria, by fighting terrorist organizations, particularly Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra, is not only defending its existence and sovereignty, but the future of the entire region, including neighboring countries and Russia, Alexander Yefimov, the Russian Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Syria has stressed.

“It unacceptable to use the de-escalation zone in Idleb for protecting the terrorists positioned there. Such behavior is called nothing but a double standards policy,” Yefimov said in an interview with the Russian Interfax news agency on the eve of the 75th Anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between Russia and Syria.

“This issue is one of the main topics of dialogue between Moscow and western and regional partners concerning Syria, he added, calling for implementing related agreements.

Syria is Russia’s key partner in the Middle East

He went on to say that “Syria is our key partner in the Middle East and one of our main allies in the war on international terrorism,” stressing the need to establish constructive, strategic and Multi-faceted cooperation between Syria and Russia.

He reiterated that the Syrian people are the ones who decide their own future.

Yefimov affirmed the Russian forces’ support for the Syrian Arab Army’s counterterrorism efforts, pointing out that the Russian participation in the war on terror in Syria “has prevented the emergence of a strong terrorism stronghold in one of the main regions of the world”.

On September 30, 2015, the Russian air forces started a military operation in Syria to support the Syrian army’s efforts in fighting terrorism at a request from the Syrian state.

Hamda Mustafa

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NATO Terrorists Kill Soldiers in Daraa, Bomb Mill in Hasaka

Syria NewsNATO Terrorists Kill Syrian Soldiers in Daraa Roadside Car Bomb

July 17, 2019

NATO-ked savages in Syria today attacked a military vehicle on al Yadouda Road west of Daraa City. Five soldiers were martyred and 16 were injured. Other terrorists remotely detonated a vehicle in Hasaka, in an attempt to blow up a mill. Two civilians were injured.

NATO- and NATO media supported terrorists remotely detonated a vehicle in Hasaka. Two civilians were injured.

Video also available on Bitchute: https://www.bitchute.com/video/OG9btA5Wg586

Transcript of the English translation of the above report by Wafa Shabroni, RT’s correspondent in Syria:

A new explosion shook with it the cautious calm that has long prevailed in the province of Daraa during the first year of its liberation, but it was unable to break the bonds of reconciliation, which was the headline of the return of the south to the Syrian state.

A few months after the first targeting of the Syrian army checkpoint, an attack adopted by groups called the ‘Popular Resistance’, it turned some villages, especially in the northwestern countryside of Daraa, to a permanent theater for similar operations that targeted alongside the Syrian forces, former commanders of the southern factions who later joined the local settlement.

Political Analyst Mustapha Al-Mikdad: More than a year later, it is clear that there are dormant groups that are still operating, perhaps the remnants of the Khalid Army, which is basically an ISIS faction, and perhaps there are external interventions, as the areas are still open in more than one direction.

The (reconciliation) settlement deadline, which was extended for two consecutive terms and its last six months ended in last June, did not see the settlement of the statuses of all the young men of the province, some of whom are still out of sight and refuse to join the Syrian forces to perform military service, which observers attribute to the association of some of these groups in Daraa with those who left it to Idlib, and to try to escalate the situation in the south in conjunction with what is happening in the northern province.

Media Expert Yarub Khairbek: I think it is an attempt from the remnants of groups, some of them went to Idlib, these are remnants of them with whom they have a certain relationship, or attempts from other groups, some of which remained in Daraa to find obstruction or noise to reduce the pressure on Idlib to stop the advance of the army in Idlib because the Battle for Idlib If it didn’t commence yet, it’s on the verge to be fully launched.

Many measures taken by the Syrian government recently to absorb the anger of the people in the south from the release of detainees and amnesty for the wanted in the city and its countryside, but what these groups, which are called by military sources as sleeper cells, are doing is to keep the level of tension high, although remained in limited areas.

At a time when Syrian forces are engaged in repelling insurgent attacks and restoring areas out of their control in the north of the country, the breach against its soldiers in the south comes in attempts that may not exceed the boundaries of tension and insecurity, it does succeed each time, however, in stirring up confusion and claiming more lives in that Region.

From Damascus, Wafaa Shabroni, for RT.

End of English translation transcript.

Please refer to Syria News ‘ featured image. It is a screenshot of a hideous video uploaded to the internet in June 2017, showing the bodies of slaughtered Syrian Arab Army soldiers being mutilatedand taken to a dumpsite, in Daraa, by terrorists including those self-identifying as [Nusra] White Helmets. This degenerate, necrophiliac video disappeared upon it being shown to the monsters of Congress who were engaged in hashtagging their support of al Qaeda in Daraa.

The SAA continues to destroy dens and launching pads of armed killers, and the killers, themselves, in Hama and Idlib.

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Syria News Featured Image – Archive, June 2017

In Quneitra, a large number of Syrians held a solidarity demonstration outside the governate building for their brothers and sisters under the occupation of illicit, illegal, colonial Israel occupiers of part of the Syrian Golan, where those war criminals plan to erect “wind turbines.” Follow us on Telegram: http://t.me/syupdates link will open Telegram app.

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America’s Agendas are in Decline

ST

The Israeli entity reiterates its ruthlessness and aggression against Syria whenever it feels that the terrorist organizations that it trained and funded in cooperation with the United States and the colonial West are on the verge of being defeated. The more they feel that the destructive chaos that they spread is going to fall, the more Washington is in harmony with this aggressive entity and continues to support separatist militias and extremist organizations In Syria for the same purpose.

The two sides continue to create the pretexts of aggression, especially after the failure of the Bahrain workshop to achieve its goals of passing the sin of the century, which aims to liquidate the Palestinian cause under the cloak of development, peace and prosperity.

Not only did Trump’s aggressive administration attempt to legitimize the Israeli occupation of the Syrian Arab Golan through its decision, the recognition of the so-called Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Syrian Golan, but also encouraged the usurper to build more illegal settlements over its territory and build air fans to serve the settlers and applauded him when he attacked Syria under the pretext of the security of the racist entity.

The American failure in the Syrian scene, and even the whole region, prompted Washington to devise more aggressive policies that it believes serve its interests, such as declaring its intention to form a so-called maritime alliance comprising the Israeli entity and some oil monarchies seeking to free normalization with the latter. It is as if the idea of the Arab-Israel “NATO” does not want to leave the imagination of the neo-conservative in Washington.

From the alleged NATO, which did not see the light, to the new naval alliance through the policies of supporting terrorism and covering up the crimes of “Da’ish”, “Qasad” and ‘al -Nusra” and ending with the attempt to ignite the Arab Gulf with a new war that burns the green and the dry , the American strategy is reeling on the ropes of tricks, arrogance, lies and deceit and all kinds of misleading to achieve some of their suspicious agendas thanks to the steadfastness of the Syrians and the peoples of the entire resistance region.

In the north of Syria, the scene is clearer. The more Idlib’s liberation becomes closer, the greater the level of insomnia and anxiety at the terrorist system increases. The Turkish regime is trying to divert the Syrian Arab Army’s victories from its occupation by dealing with humanitarian situations. Washington is also repeating false accusations against the Syrian state under weak excuses and continuing to support the militias of the forces of separatism, whereas the sponsors of terrorism don’t realize that the Syrians will fold the pages of terrorism and the agendas of their operators, no matter how much it costs them.

Sharif Al -Khatib
Editor-in-Chief
sharifalkh@gmail.com

CENTRAL ASIA’S RACE AGAINST TIME

South Front

Written and produced by SF Team: J.Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson; Voiceover by Harold Hoover

The Great Game, Part 3

The threat that faces Central Asia is particularly severe since the two sets of actors have asymmetrical objectives. Russia and China are rather interested in the political stability and economic success of the region which they view as essential to their own political and security objectives. It is not in the interest of either country to have half a dozen failed states in their immediate political neighborhood, riven by political, economic, and religious conflicts threatening to spread to their own territories. In addition to being a massive security burden to Russia and China, it would threaten the development of their joint Eurasian integration projects and, moreover, attract so much political attention that the foreign policy objectives of both countries would be hamstrung. The effect would be comparable to that of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on the US political and military establishment. The monetary price of these wars, sheer political distraction, wear and demoralization of the armed forces, and unfortunately frequent killings of civilians amount to a non-tenable cost to the warring party, not to mention damage to US international “soft power” wrought by scandals associated with Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and “black sites”. Even as these words are being written, a senior-ranking US Navy “SEAL” commando is facing a court-martial for the wanton killing of civilians in Northern Iraq during the US military’s anti-ISIS operations.

By contrast, this dismal scenario would be enough to satisfy the US foreign policy establishment which, at the moment, is wholly dominated by “hawks” determined to assure the continuation of US hegemony.  Preventing the emergence of a multi-polar international system by weakening China and Russia is their desire.  This sets the stage for another round of great power rivalry in Central Asia. While the pattern is roughly the same as during the 19th and late 20th centuries—one or more Anglo-Saxon powers seeking to diminish the power of Russia and/or China—the geography of the battlefield is considerably larger for it encompasses the entirety of post-Soviet Central Asian republics.  Also included is China’s province of Xinjiang which has suddenly attracted considerable Western attention, manifested, as usual, by concern for “human rights” in the region.  Historically, such “concern” usually precedes some form of aggressive action. Therefore the two sets of great power actors—the US and other interested Western powers on the one hand, with Russia and China on the other—are locked in a race against time. Will countries of the region be destabilized to the point of civil war, or will the integrative projects pursued by the two Eurasian powers induce prosperity and stability quickly enough to forestall this nightmare scenario?

The Belt and Road Initiative

An example of the benefits that may accrue for Central Asian states is already visible in places like the Khorgos-Nurkent pair of cities on the border between China and Kazakhstan, a location which has recently become the world’s largest “dry port”. First opened in 2015, in 2016 it handled 45 thousand containers, a figure that grew to over 150,000 in 2018 and is projected to continue increasing. Job opportunities in the region are such that Nurkent, which barely existed even few years ago, is expected to become one of Kazakhstan’s largest cities in the coming decades.

The success of Khorgos-Nurkent will be replicated in other parts of Central Asia, as the growing volumes of trade necessitate construction of additional infrastructure. The job opportunities thus created offer the countries of Central Asia an opportunity to diversify their economies which, at the moment, are heavily dependent upon the exploitation of natural resources. Furthermore, infrastructure expansion will facilitate the growth of yet another industry hitherto largely missing from the region, namely tourism. The region is dotted with cultural attractions such as the ancient cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, and the beauty of its nature is also likely to attract many tourists.

Yet all of these are fragile developments and highly vulnerable to any negative security developments. The recent uptick in attention focused on Xinjiang cannot help but have an adverse impact on the international perception of the region’s security and stability.

Collective Security Treaty Organization

Thus far the main entity tasked with providing security for the region is the CSTO. The CSTO includes Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan, with Afghanistan and Serbia being non-member observers states. Uzbekistan exited the CSTO for the second time in 2012. The armed forces of CSTO member states’ stage regular joint exercises focusing on combating armed non-state actor formations, followed by peace enforcement and restoration components. Russia’s recent combat experience in Syria is perfectly relevant to the problems faced by the CSTO, given that the openness and low population density of the potential theater of operations mirrors conditions around Palmyra and Deir-es-Zor, while the potential adversary is actually the same—the Islamic State. While ISIS was purportedly “defeated” in Iraq and Western Syria by the US-led coalition, the fact that we have not seen any evidence of these fighters being taken prisoner or, better yet, put on trial for the well-documented atrocities they perpetrated and posted on social media for all the world to see, one should not be overly surprised if these very same individuals start appearing in Central Asia in order to promote chaos in that part of the world.

Another important actor is China. It is evident that China does not appear eager to involve its armed forces in operations outside the borders of its own state and its level of inter-operability with Russian and Central Asian militaries remains very low. Even the large-scale Vostok-2018 exercise, held in September of 2018 in Russia’s Far East where Chinese troops were present, did not demonstrate any great level of inter-operability between these two armed forces. While these factors might change in the coming decades, there may be a political dimension here, in the form of an informal “division of labor” agreement between Russia and China on how to manage their cooperation. It is entirely possible that China is perfectly happy to allow Russia to leverage its superior military experience for the sake of shared economic and political interests. Finally, China’s restraint from sending its military into Central Asia for exercises may be motivated by a desire to avoid a “sphere of influence” rivalry with Russia. There is some concern within Russia about China’s aims in Central Asia, and construction of Chinese military bases in the region would almost inevitably complicate Sino-Russian relations.

European Research Area

The “Russia-centricity” of Central Asia’s security environment is exemplified by the efforts of the “ERA Technopolis”, a military research and development center launched in 2018 in Anapa, on the coast of the Black Sea.  Expected to be completed in 2020, the purpose of the ERA is to promote the military inter-operability of CSTO member states. The military aspect of the potential challenge facing the CSTO is largely the same as was faced by Russian and Syrian forces around Palmyra—highly trained, well equipped, and extremely mobile detachments of jihadists relying on hit-and-run tactics rather than a stubborn defense of urban areas. Dealing with such an adversary places a premium on intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, rapid communications, and, of course, high mobility. In order to ensure that armed forces of CSTO member states are up to the task, their representatives are participating in the development of relevant technological solutions and then incorporating those solutions into their own military and security forces.

Conclusion

All of these collective security measures appear to be intended to provide a deterrent effect which is all the greater thanks to Russia’s demonstrated ability at combating these kinds of threats in Syria. Experience has shown that the Western “regime collapse” specialists are attracted to weakness and shy away from strength. Indeed, as soon as the covert action or proxy warfare component fails, they call for military action in order to salvage the situation.  That is a step that even the Obama and Trump administrations shied away from when confronted with the prospect of an armed clash with Russia and China. The best possible outcome for Central Asia is if the collective security arrangements for the region are perceived as being strong enough that any attempt to challenge them runs the risk of becoming yet another embarrassing failure.

 

«فتنة» المسألة الفلسطينية في لبنان بين الأمن والاقتصاد والسياسة

يوليو 18, 2019

محمد صادق الحسيني

كشف مصدر أوروبي، ليس صديقاً لحلف المقاومة طبقاً لتقارير تلقاها من لبنان، بأنّ جون بولتون قد بحث مخططاً سرياً، خلال آخر ثلاث زيارات له إلى تل أبيب، مع كلّ من نتن ياهو ورئيس أركان الجيش الإسرائيلي ورئيس الموساد يهدف الى زعزعة الاستقرار الأمني اللبناني، وكيفية زجّ اللبنانين مجتمعين مع الفلسطينيين مجتمعين باعتباره المخطط الأنجع لإعادة خلط الأوراق على الساحة اللبنانية بعد تولي هذه الساحة مهمة إفشال صفقة القرن بنجاح…!

ويضيف المصدر بأنه قد تمّ عرض بعض جوانب هذا المخطط مع محمد بن سلمان ومحمد بن زايد، خاصة الجوانب المالية المتعلقة بالتنفيذ…!

وتابع المصدر قائلاً: وفي ظلّ يقين الطرف الأميركي الإسرائيلي بانتفاء احتمال الصدام المسلح، بين الأذرع العسكرية الفلسطينية الرسمية في لبنان وبين الدولة اللبنانيه أو/ المقاومة، فإنّ المخططين قد قرّروا استجلاب مجموعات من مسلحي داعش، سواء من الاحتياط الداعشي، الموجود في العراق وشرق سورية بإمرة الجيش الأميركي، او من بقايا داعش في شمال غرب سورية، والذين يشرف على إدارتهم وتشغيلهم ضباط عسكريون وأمنيون «إسرائيليون»، او حتى من مسلحي محافظة إدلب السورية الإرهابيين.

وتابع المصدر قائلاً بأنّ خطوات عملية قد تمّ تنفيذها، وإنْ بشكل محدود حتى الآن، حيث تمّ تسليح وتمويل بعض المجموعات المُشار إليها أعلاه ونشرها في المخيمات الفلسطينية في منطقتي صيدا وصور، والتي يبلغ مجموع عديدها حتى الآن حوالي 120 فرداً منتشرين في مخيمات صيدا وصور. وهو ما يعتبر عدداً كافياً لإثارة التوتر في المنطقتين، في أيّ وقت يحدّده الطرف الأميركي «الإسرائيلي».

كما أكد المصدر أنّ وزير الخارجية الأميركي، رئيس المخابرات المركزية الأميركية سابقاً جورج بومبيو، قد بحث هذا الأمر، مع شخصيات ورموز لبنانية معروفة في تغريداتها خارج السرب الوطني والقومي خلال زيارته لبنان في شهر آذار الماضي، إمكانية فتح خطوط إمداد إلى منطقتي صيدا وصور، عبر البحر والبر، عند الضرورة.

ولا يغيب عن ذهن أحد طبعاً انّ أيّ إمدادات سلاح عن طريق البحر ستنفذ تحت حماية القطع البحرية الأميركية والإسرائيلية المنتشرة غرب السواحل اللبنانية.

وفي هذا الإطار يرى محللون سياسيون مستقلون أنّ الأزمة المتصاعدة حول ما تسمّيه وزارة العمل اللبنانية تطبيق القانون، وما تطلق عليه الأوساط الفلسطينية بالإجراءات التعسفية ضدّهم من قبل تلك الوزارة، قد تكون جزءاً من هذه المؤامرة التي تمّ تكليف جهات معينة بتنفيذها على الساحة اللبنانية، ضدّ حلف المقاومة في لبنان، وانّ أطرافاً إقليمية ودولية، قد تكون وراء المخطط الذي يُراد دفع الساحة اللبنانية للغرق في المستنقع الأمني المترتب عنه بعد فشل مخططات الحرب على لبنان ومغالبته من الخارج!

ولا شكّ بأنّ المستفيد الأول من هذا التصعيد هم

دعاة الحرب والتطرف في الولايات المتحده الأميركية، وعلى رأسهم مايك بومبيو وجون بولتون، وبتشويق وترغيب سعودي إماراتي غير محدود، وهم الذين لا يتورّعون عن المشاركة في ايّ مخطط يقضي بإغراق لبنان مجدّداً في أحداث أمنية تربك الدولة اللبنانية والمقاومة معاً، وذلك رداً على الموقف اللبناني الموحد الخاص برفض صفقة القرن.

وهو الأمر الذي يدفع بالمتابعين الى التساؤل حول طبيعة هذه الحلقة الجديدة من التآمر وارتباطها بالقضايا الاستراتيجية العامة التي تتبعها كلّ من واشنطن وتل أبيب تجاه مجموع حلف المقاومة الذي يستعدّ للدخول الى فلسطين محرراً كما أعلن سيد المقاومة مؤخراً.

هذا كما تؤكد مصادر متابعة بأنّ هذا المخطط أخذ منحى تصاعدياً بعد انزعاج الحلف المعادي للمقاومة من الموقف اللبناني الموحد تجاه حقوق اللبنانيين في ثروتهم النفطية والغازية، سواء في المياه الاقليمية اللبنانية او على اليابسة، والرفض الجماعي لمخطط التوطين، الأمر الذي جعل القوى المعادية تتمادى في خلق أجواء مضطربة تساعد في خلق أزمات مالية واقتصادية مضاعفة على الدولة اللبنانية…!

لا تمنحوا من هو جاهز ومكلف لركوب موجات من هذا النوع، وله سابقة في هذا، والذي قد يتولى المهمة المقدّمة له على طبق من فضة…!

نعرف أنها كبيرة عليه هذه المرة وانّ العيون مفتحة عند المعنيين من أصحاب القرار وعند حراس القلعة والعرين بشكل خاص…!

لكن يبقى السؤال الأهمّ، في هذا الإطار، هو حول الإجراءات الوقائية السريعة المطلوب اتخاذها من قبل السلطات اللبنانية المعنية بشكل مباشر تجاه هذا الخرق الأمني الخطير، لا سيما أنّ الرئيس اللبناني ومعه رئيس مجلس النواب ورئيس مجلس الوزراء وحزب الله، وكذلك الأجهزة الأمنية معنيون جميعاً بإفشال هذه الحلقة الجديدة من حلقات التآمر والخيانة على فلسطين ولبنان والعرب.

بعدنا طيبين قولوا الله…

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US Embassy in Iraq Serves As Mossad, Daesh HQ – Iraqi MP

By Staff, Agencies

A senior Iraqi MP warned that the US embassy in Baghdad is involved in “suspicious activities,” saying agents of the ‘Israeli’ spy agency Mossad and Daesh [the Arabic acronym for terrorist ‘ISIS/ISIL’ group] have been spotted regularly visiting the diplomatic mission.

“The US embassy in Baghdad has turned into a center for ‘Israel’s’ Mossad and Daesh terrorists,” Hassan Salem was quoted as saying by the Iraqi Arabic-language al-Sumariya news website.

Salem said the US embassy is interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs by spying, spreading rumors and hatching plots.

“The US embassy’s violation of laws and forgetting its responsibilities based on the international laws mean that the center could not be called an embassy and therefore, its closure is legally necessary,” the Iraqi lawmaker said.

The MP had earlier suggested that US forces in Ain al-Assad military base were protecting Daesh ringleader Ibrahim al-Samarrai, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in the western desert of Iraq’s Anbar province.

“Al-Baghdadi is using the Anbar desert as a safe haven, while the US forces provide him with all means of support from their station at the Ain al-Assad military base in Anbar province,” Salem said in February.

The Iraqi MP argued then that America’s support for al-Baghdadi “stems from Washington’s fear of a draft bill on expelling foreign troops from Iraq, which the parliament intends to vote on during the new legislative term.”

Also in February, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the first time divulged explosive secrets about how the United States supported Daesh and intentionally allowed the Takfiri terror outfit to gain power in Iraq so that Washington could creep back into the Arab country.

He said the administration of former US President Barack Obama had played a key role in the creation of Daesh by allowing the terrorist group to overrun Iraqi territories.

A ONE DAY OF ASSAD

South Front

Iran’s battle strategy in Syria and its impact

BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:30 A.M.) – At the start of 2013, the Syrian War was looking unfavorable for the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), as a militant offensive in Aleppo cutoff the city from all government supply lines and the strategic East Ghouta region had all but fallen to Jaysh Al-Islam and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

Making matters worse, the government had lost most of Syria’s northern border with Turkey and their western border with Lebanon. This would later prove to be a major issue for the military as foreign militants were pouring into the country from these regions.

Enter Hezbollah and Iran

The Spring of 2013 would prove to be an important period in the Syrian War. Both Hezbollah and Iran would enter the conflict on the side of the government and help the Syrian military regain the initiative in Homs, Aleppo, and Damascus.

Hezbollah’s deployment to Syria helped the government regain the Lebanese border by capturing the strategic crossing at Al-Qusayr, followed by Tal Kalakh and the majority of the Qalamoun Mountains.

The Lebanese group also provided reinforcements to several areas across the country in order to help stabilize these fronts.

While Hezbollah’s entry into the Syrian conflict is often viewed as the first time foreign fighters had entered the war, this is indeed false. Militants from several countries across the world had already entered Syria and began fighting alongside the rebel forces.

Several of these foreign fighters would later join jihadist groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra and the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS/Daesh).

However, unlike Hezbollah, Iran would play a pivotal role behind the scenes in 2013, offering their military advisers to help Damascus concoct a new battle plan.

The plan would focus on a four-corners strategy that would see the Syrian military maintain a presence in four corners of the country, giving the government an area of influence despite the absence of supply routes.

Four Corners Strategy

From 2013 to 2017, the Syrian government maintained a presence in several parts of the country. Since it was difficult to maintain control over the vast desert and mountainous regions, the strategy was to focus on the major cities and spreading out the militants so that the army could regain critical areas around the capital city.

It may appear a bit unorthodox, but the strategy ultimately helped the Syrian military maintain a presence in eastern Syria, where the U.S. and its allies attempted to expand across during the war with ISIS.

For example, the Syrian military kept a presence in the Al-Hasakah Governorate, despite the fact they were surrounded by the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG)

While the Syrian military and the YPG were not fighting each other and their presence in Al-Hasakah was only threatened by ISIS, the army’s decision to stay inside Deir Ezzor city after losing their supply lines from Homs raised a few questions at the time.

Thousands of Syrian troops were besieged in Deir Ezzor and ordered to continue fighting ISIS from 2015 to 2017 when the siege was finally lifted. Prior to the arrival of the Russian Armed Forces in September of 2015, the Deir Ezzor front was under daily attacks by the Islamic State, leaving many to fear for the lives of the people and troops inside the city.

Had the army made the decision to retreat from Deir Ezzor city, ISIS could have sent their forces to other fronts and expanded their presence inside of Syria. Furthermore, it allowed the Syrian Army to maintain control of the city once the U.S.-led Coalition began expanding south of Al-Hasakah.

Finally, the entry of the Russian Armed Forces would play a decisive role in the conflict, as the Syrian Arab Army was able to finally launch multiple offensives to regain most of the country.

Present Day

Iran still desires a complete military victory in Syria, but with the continued Israeli attacks on their positions in the country and U.S. economic pressure through sanctions, the Islamic Republic has been forced to take a more defensive role in the region.

This defensive role has allowed Russia to champion the recent Syrian military operations, while they concentrate on other matters, including the proxy war in the eastern part of the country.

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ALSO READ

Nobody is Talking about the Sanctions against Syria!

 

Panama registered Grace 1 oil tanker carrying crude oil en route to Syria seized by Britain Pirates near occupied Gibraltar
Panama registered Grace 1 oil tanker carrying crude oil en route to Syria seized by Britain Pirates near occupied Gibraltar

In the News Coverage of the British Theft of Iranian Oil Tanker, Nobody is Talking about the Sanctions against Syria.

In the news: The smart US regime discovered an oil shipment heading from Iran to Syria and ordered their British ever-loyal servants to steal a large Iranian oil tanker carrying oil to Syria and crossing half of the world around Africa to avoid sabotage by other US satellite entities in the normal route it would take around Saudi and the blocking of the Suez Canal by the Egyptians.

Also in the news: The justification of this broad daylight piracy is that the targeted country, Syria, is under EU sanctions.

Side note: Calling themselves ‘British Royal Marines’ does not give them any legitimacy for any act of piracy around the world.

Not in the news: The draconian US and EU sanctions against Syria.

I’m trying to find where the pundits covering this news and their ‘professional’ guests are not addressing the main reason behind this story which is why Syria is under this complete blockade that it cannot purchase any single drop of oil for its 18 million inhabitants inside the country to generate electric power, to bake their bread, to harvest their crops, to fuel their cars, their heaters, to run their hospitals and factories, to live?

I’m also not aware of any other country under such severe sanctions and complete blockade by the US and its lackeys on one side, and the silent accomplices from the non-US camp. North Korea, the demonized country in the US media is allowed to import 500,000 barrels, Gaza Strip under the Israeli blockade manages to get in the minimum for their power generating station. Cuba and Venezuela, both under the US embargo, neither is suffering similar blockade.

Even ISIS, yes, ISIS the worst terrorist organization known to humankind after the Jewish Stern, Irgun and Haganah gangs in Palestine, ISIS were allowed to export the oil they stole from Syrian oilfields through NATO member state Turkey to Israel!!!

After a media photo-op, ISIS changed flags with SDF, both work for the US, and now the SDF is occupying Syria’s rich oil fields in northeast of the country. It’s a double embargo one from the Humanitarian Bastards in the West and their regional stooges, and the other by the Kurds from inside the country under the protection of the US itself.

Dr. Bashar Jaafari, Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations repeated more than once in his statements at the UNSC meetings discussing the ‘humanitarian situation’ in Syria that the Syrian Ministry of Health is not allowed to purchase threads used by surgeons to sew open wounds in medical-surgical operations…

One of the main obstacles impeding the return of the Syrian displaced refugees from neighboring countries is the total embargo against Syria by the ugly criers for the humanitarian suffering in Syria. For them, it’s fine that the Syrian refugee families live in miserable inhumane conditions in the shelters in the Rukban Concentration Camp run by the US or those living in tents provided by the host countries, in order to use them for political pressure against Syria.

Suffering of Displaced Syrians in the Rukban Concentration Camp

Suffering of Displaced Syrians in the Rukban Concentration Camp

Suffering of Displaced Syrians in the Rukban Concentration Camp

Rukban

Rukban Concentration Camp for Syrian Displaced Refugees

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon in Horrible Conditions

Syrian refugees in Lebanon were placed in horrible conditions

Syrian Refugees in Lebanon – Horrible Conditions

US-based high-tech companies are allowed to cooperate with China, the US-self created enemy, but are not allowed to have Syria as a country of origin for their users in the drop-down menu as if the oldest inhabited country in the world does not exist.

US-based high tech companies removed Syria from their systems
Where did Syria go?

No financial transactions are allowed to go to Syria even by Syrian expats to their families and from their families to them like in the case of Syrian students studying in the West.

To top it up, US-sponsored Kurdish separatist militias the SDF and their notorious security forces Asayish are burning wheat fields for Syrian farmers after years of drought and terror and after Erdogan, the Turkish pariah and Caliph wannabe stole the wheat from its silos before destroying the silos itself. He also stole thousands of Syrian factories from Aleppo, Idlib, Deir Ezzor and Raqqa with the help of the FSA forces with its heart-eating commanders.

Kurdish PYD Asayish SDF Torching Wheat Farms in Qamishli, northeast of Syria
US-sponsored Kurdish militia burning wheat fields in Qamishli

Iran is under the US sanctions and the US regime wants to bring their exports to nil but has been extending the waivers for a number of countries. The reason in the stealing of the oil tanker stated by the British pirates was: Syria, where the oil is intended to, is under EU sanctions which prohibits the country from buying oil. Has nothing to do with Iran.

The importance of the lately announced 8 years delayed Iran – Iraq – Syria railway project cannot be further emphasized than in this incident and the US sponsoring of various terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq, including ISIS, just to block the land connection between these three neighboring counties.


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Mahmoud al-Falahi: Leaking the coordinates of the army and the resistance to America and “Israel

Hezbollah Releases Audio Files of Iraqi Officer’s Phone Coordination with CIA against Hashd Al-Shaabi

TEHRAN (FNA)- Iraq’s Hezbollah popular group released a series of audio files revealing phone talks and Whatsapp chats between a senior Iraqi officer in al-Anbar province and the US spy agency, CIA, against Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi (popular forces).
The audio files disclosed contacts between Mahmoud al-Falahi, the commander of al-Anbar operations in the Iraqi army, with a CIA agent who is an Iraqi national.
The CIA agent asked al-Falahi to provide him with the geographical coordinates of the existing military bases at the borders between Iraq and Syria “to be attacked by the US and Israeli air forces”.
He also told al-Falahi to meet with “the US army and intelligence service commanders in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan region or at the US forces’ base in al-Habaniyeh” in Western Iraq.
During the conversations, al-Falahi provided the detailed coordinates of military bases in al-Anbar to the agent.

More here

Hezbollah described the audio files as documents showing al-Falahi’s “plot against the Iraqi army, security, Hashd al-Shaabi and resistance forces “, warning that his spying for the CIA and Israeli Mossad spy agencies has endangered Iran’s national security.

Iraqi security sources disclosed in 2016 that Washington was exerting pressure on the Baghdad government to end Hashd al-Shaabi’s partnership in war against ISIL and dissolve the militia army that has the lion share in the war on terrorism in the country.

“The US government has conveyed the message to the Iraqi government through its diplomats that there is no need to Hashd al-Shaabi forces and their role should come to an end,” a senior Iraqi source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told FNA at the time.

A senior member of the Iraqi parliament revealed last month the US plots and attempts to dissolve Hashd al-Shaabi with pressures on Iraq’s government after the popular forces regained control over Iraq’s borders with Syria.

The Arabic-language al-Ma’aloumeh news website quoted Odai Awad as saying that the US was pressuring Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to force him act against Hashd al-Shaabi.

He referred to the US embassy’s contacts with the ISIL commanders, and said certain regions in Iraq are showing allegiance to the ISIL again in a way that a number of Iraqi security commanders have compared the situation to the situation in 2014.

Awad said that the US pressures started after Hashd al-Shaabi forces retook control over the Iraqi-Syrian borders, adding that at present, some measures are being adopted against Hashd al-Shaabi on the political and international scene in a bid to disturb the public opinion in freed areas.

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Hypocrisies About Refugees

July 05, 2019

Hypocrisies About Refugees

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

Here are two visuals from the latest annual U.N. report about the world’s refugee situation, “UNHCR Global Trends 2018”, and though these images don’t pack the emotional punch of a child’s corpse that has just been washed upon a beach after drowning when his family had attempted to escape from a country that the U.S. and its allies were ‘trying to make free’ by bombing it to hell, each of these two pictures below contains a much bigger and more important message than does any such tear-jerking image or anecdote, but each of these pictures requires a bit of intelligence in order to understand it:

The first picture shows the result of the U.S. regime’s regime-change wars under Obama and Trump, in Syria and Venezuela especially. (Syria by using Al Qaeda in Syria to lead jihadists to bring down the Government, and Venezuela by strangulating sanctions that have produced an economic blockade which prohibits food and medicine from being able to reach the population). The 9-year earlier “UNHCR Global Trends 2009”, which covered the end of the George W. Bush Presidency, had reported that “There were 43.3 million forcibly displaced people worldwide at the end of 2009,” and that this was up from 42.0 million in 2008. The “UNHCR Global Trends 2007” said only that “available information suggests that a total of 67 million people had been forcibly displaced at the end of 2007”, and so there might have been a reduction during the later years of Bush’s Presidency. In any case, the number of “forcibly displaced people” was stable during the final years of Bush’s second term and the entirety of Barack Obama’s first term, until 2012. 2011 was the first year of the Arab Spring uprisings, which were a CIA production, as was documented by two books from Ahmed Bensada, each of which was well reviewed by Stuart Jeanne Bramhall, in her two articles, one on 18 January 2014, and the other on 25 October 2015. Of course, the impression that the American public was presented about the Arab Spring uprisings is that those were spontaneous. Actually, Obama came into office in 2009 hoping to overthrow Syria’s Government.

So, whereas the numbers had been stable for Obama’s first term of office, all hell broke loose throughout his second term, with his invasions of Libya and Syria, plus his continuation of George W. Bush’s occupations of both Afghanistan and Iraq. And, now, under Trump, the number is back again to GWB’s peak level and rising.

As I noted on June 30th under the headline “U.S. Government Tops All For Creating Refugees”, “the U.S. regime’s regime-change operations produce around half of the entire world’s refugee-problem.” That fact is shown in the second visual here. (Just look at Syria and Venezuela there.) What the first visual shows is that the U.S. regime’s attempts to overthrow the Governments of Syria and of Venezuela caused those global totals to soar. Those two nations alone accounted for nearly half of the global total, and part of the rest was from America’s prior invasions: Afghanistan, Iraq, the U.S.-backed coup in Honduras in 2009, etc. America’s invasions and attempted coups (such as in Venezuela) provided the dynamos that drove those rising numbers of refugees.

Max Blumenthal and Ben Norton at The Gray Zone headlined on June 19th, “This celebrated Western-funded nonprofit collaborated with al-Qaeda to wage lawfare on Syria” and documented how U.S.-and-allied billionaires and the U.S. Government fund “lawfare,” a war in international courts, and not only a huge international propaganda campaign to demonize Bashar al-Assad, in order to overthrow him. I had previously documented that “U.S. Protects Al Qaeda in Syria”. Actually, Obama bombed Syria’s army at the oil center city of Deir Ezzor on 17 September 2016 in order to enable both Al Qaeda and ISIS to take over that city. The U.S. team talk a storm against “terrorism” but quietly (along with the monarchs of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar) sponsor it as being “boots-on-the-ground” fighters — proxies there, instead of U.S. troops — to bring down leaders such as Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad.

So, when the U.S. and its allies complain about the refugee crisis, and pontificate against “dictators,” and assert international law when they are the worst violators of international law, maybe they enjoy fooling their own public, but outside the U.S. alliance, their lying and evil are obvious. It even shows up clearly in the UNHCR’s statistics (such as those visuals). Obviously, China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and other nations that the U.S. regime labels as ‘enemies’, are not to blame for those tens of millions of refugees. The U.S. and its allies definitely are to blame for it. This isn’t a situation where the pot is calling the kettle black, but instead it’s one where the pot is calling the fresh-fallen snow black, and in which only propagandistic ’news’ media refuse to reveal this to their audiences. The snow is white, and the U.S. regime and its allies are red, covered with their tens of millions of victims’ blood and flaming misery.

International poll after international poll finds that the country which is considered to be “the greatest threat to peace in the world today” by the most people worldwide is the U.S., but that Americans don’t think it’s true. So: who is right? Americans? Or the rest of the world? Now, why would people outside the U.S. believe that way? Maybe it’s because of “communist propaganda”? The most important thing to recognize is that the U.S. is a dictatorship. That scientifically demonstrated fact explains a lot. None of these sanctions and coups and invasions against countries that had never invaded nor in any way endangered the U.S. could exist otherwise than this, because any dictatorship is based upon lies. Invading Iraq was based upon lies. Invading Afghanistan was based upon lies. Invading Syria was based upon lies. Invading Libya was based upon lies. The economic sanctions against Russia are based upon lies.American foreign policies are based upon lies. It’s no wonder, then, why Americans are so misinformed.

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Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Voices from Syria’s Rukban Refugee Camp Belie Corporate Media Reporting

Global Research, July 05, 2019
MintPress News 4 July 2019

Eva Bartlett visited refugees in Syria escaping the horrid conditions in the Rukban Refugee Camp, a desolate outpost in the US administered deconfliction zone. What she found was very different than the ‘reality’ depicted by the Western press.

***

A little over a year ago — just after the Syrian army and its allies liberated the towns and villages around eastern Ghouta from the myriad armed jihadist groups that had waged a brutal campaign of torture and executions in the area — I interviewed a number of the civilians that had endured life under jihadist rule in Douma, Kafr Batna and the Horjilleh Center for Displaced People just south of Damascus.

A common theme emerged from the testimonies of those civilians: starvation as a result of jihadist control over aid and food supplies, and the public execution of civilians.

Their testimonies echoed those of civilians in other areas of Syria formerly occupied by armed anti-government groups, from Madaya and al-Waer to eastern Aleppo and elsewhere.

Despite those testimonies and the reality on the ground, Western politicians and media alike have placed the blame for the starvation and suffering of Syrian civilians squarely on the shoulders of Russia and Syria, ignoring the culpability of terrorist groups.

In reality, terrorist groups operating within areas of Syria that they occupy have had full control over food and aid, and ample documentation shows that they have hoarded food and medicines for themselves. Even under better circumstances, terrorist groups charged hungry civilians grotesquely inflated prices for basic foods, sometimes demanding up to 8,000 Syrian pounds (US $16) for a kilogram of salt, and 3,000 pounds (US $6) for a bag of bread.

Given the Western press’ obsessive coverage of the starvation and lack of medical care endured by Syrian civilians, its silence has been deafening in the case of Rukban — a desolate refugee camp in Syria’s southeast where conditions are appalling to such an extent that civilians have been dying as a result. Coverage has been scant of the successful evacuations of nearly 15,000 of the 40,000 to 60,000 now-former residents of Rukban (numbers vary according to source) to safe havens where they are provided food, shelter and medical care.

Silence about the civilian evacuations from Rukban is likely a result of the fact that those doing the rescuing are the governments of Syria and Russia — and the fact that they have been doing so in the face of increasing levels of opposition from the U.S. government.

A harsh, abusive environment

Rukban lies on Syria’s desolate desert border with Jordan, surrounded by a 55-km deconfliction zone, unilaterally established and enforced by the United States, and little else aside from the American base at al-Tanf, only 25 km away — a base whose presence is illegal under international law.

It is, by all reports, an unbearably harsh environment year-round and residents of the camp have endured abuse by terrorist groups and merchants within the camp, deprived of the very basics of life for many years now.

In February, the UNHCR reported that young girls and women in Rukban have been forced into marriage, some more than once. Their briefing noted:

Many women are terrified to leave their mud homes or tents and to be outside, as there are serious risks of sexual abuse and harassment. Our staff met mothers who keep their daughters indoors, as they are too afraid to let them go to improvised schools.”

The Jordanian government, home to 664,330 registered Syrian refugees, has adamantly refused any responsibility in providing humanitarian assistance to Rukban, arguing that it is a Syrian issue and that keeping its border with Syria closed is a matter of Jordan’s security — this after a number of terrorist attacks on the border near Rukban, some of which were attributed to ISIS and one that killed six Jordanian soldiers.

According to U.S. think-tank The Century Foundation, armed groups in Rukban have up to 4,000 men in their ranks and include:

Maghawir al-Thawra, the Free Tribes Army, the remnants of a formerly Pentagon-backed group called the Qaryatein Martyr Battalions and three factions formerly linked to the CIA’s covert war in Syria: the Army of the Eastern Lions, the Martyr Ahmed al-Abdo Forces, and the Shaam Liberation Army.”

Those armed groups, according to Russia, include several hundred ISIS and al-Qaeda recruits. Even the Atlantic Council — a NATO- and U.S. State Department-funded think-tank consistent in its anti-Syrian government stance — reported in November 2017 that the Jordanian government acknowledged an ISIS presence in Rukban.

The Century Foundation also notes the presence of ISIS in Rukban and concedes that the U.S. military “controls the area but won’t guarantee the safety of aid workers seeking access to the camp.”

Rukban

The Rukban camp, sandwiched between Jordan, Syria borders and Iraq, Feb. 14, 2017. Raad Adayleh | AP

Syria and Russia have sought out diplomatic means to resolve the issue of Rukban, arguing repeatedly at the United Nations Security Council for the need to dismantle the camp and return refugees to areas once plagued by terrorism but that have now been secured.

As I wrote recently:

The U.S. stymied aid to Rukban, and was then only willing to provide security for aid convoys to a point 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) away from the camp, according to the UN’s own Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock. So, by U.S. administration logic, convoys should have dropped their Rukban-specific aid in areas controlled by terrorist groups and just hoped for the best.”

The U.S., for its part, has both refused the evacuation of refugees from the camp and obstructed aid deliveries on at least two occasions. In February, Russia and Syria opened two humanitarian corridors to Rukban and began delivering much-needed aid to its residents.

Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, noted in May 2019 that Syria agreed to facilitate the first aid convoy to Rukban earlier this year, but the convoy was ultimately delayed by the United States for 40 days. A second convoy was then delayed for four months. Al-Ja’afari also noted that the U.S., as an occupying power in Syria, is obliged under the Geneva Conventions to provide food, medicine and humanitarian assistance to those under its occupation.

Then, in early March, the Russian Center for Reconciliation reported that U.S. authorities had refused entry to a convoy of buses intending to enter the deconfliction zone to evacuate refugees from Rukban.

According to a March 2019 article from Public Radio International:

[W]hen Syrian and Iranian forces have entered the 34-mile perimeter around the base, American warplanes have responded with strikes — effectively putting Rukban and its residents under American protection from Assad’s forces.”

Despite the abundance of obstacles they faced, Syria and Russia were ultimately able to evacuate over 14,000 of the camp’s residents to safety. In a joint statement on June 19, representatives of the two countries noted that some of the camp’s residents were forced to pay “militants” between $400 to $1000 in order to leave Rukban.

Media reports on Rukban … from abroad

While Rukban — unlike Madaya or Aleppo in 2016 — generally isn’t making headlines, there are some pro-regime-change media reporting on it, although even those reports tend to omit the fact that civilians have been evacuated to safety and provided with food and medical care.

Instead, articles relieve America and armed Jihadist groups of their role in the suffering of displaced Syrians in Rukban, reserving blame for Syria and Russia and claiming internal refugees are being forced to leave against their will only to be imprisoned by the Syrian government.

Emad Ghali, a “media activist,” has been at the center of many of these claims. Ghali has been cited as a credible source in most of the mainstream Western press’ reporting on Rukban, from the New York Times, to Al Jazeera, to the Middle East Eye. Cited since at least 2018 in media reporting on Rukban, Ghali has an allegiance to the Free Syrian Army, a fact easily gleaned by simply browsing his Facebook profile. He recently posted multiple times on Facebook mourning the passing of jihadist commander and footballer Abdul Baset al-Sarout. As it turns out, Sarout not only held extremist and sectarian views, but pledged allegiance to ISIS, among other less-than-noble acts ignored by most media reports that cite him.

Ghali ISIS

Ghali paid homage to ISIS commander Abdul Baset al-Sarout on his Facebook page

Citing Ghali as merely a “media activist” is not an unusual practice for many covering the Syrian conflict. In fact, Ghali holds the same level of extremist-minded views as the “sources” cited by the New York Times in articles that I reported on around the time Ghouta was being liberated from jihadist groups in 2018.

Four sources used in those articles had affiliations to, and/or reverence for the al-Qaeda-linked Jaysh al-Islam — including the former leader Zahran Alloush who has been known to confine civilians in cages, including women and children, for use as human shields in Ghouta — Faylaq al-Rahman, and even to al-Qaeda, not to mention the so-called Emir of al-Qaeda in Syria, the applauded Abu Muhammad Al-Julani.

Claims in a Reuters article of forced internment, being held at gunpoint in refugee centers, come from sources not named in Rukban — instead generically referred to as “residents of Rukban say”…

An article in the UAE-based The National also pushed fear-mongering over the “fate that awaits” evacuees, saying:

[T]here is talk of Syrian government guards separating women and children from men in holding centres in Homs city.There are also accusations of a shooting last month, with two men who had attempted an escape from one of the holding centres allegedly killed. The stories are unconfirmed, but they are enough to make Rukban’s men wary of taking the government’s route out.”

Yet reports from those who have actually visited the centers paint a different picture.

An April 2019 report by Russia-based Vesti News shows calm scenes of Rukban evacuees receiving medical exams by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, who according to Vesti, have doctors there every day; and of food and clean, if not simple, rooms in a former school housing displaced refugees from Rukban. Notably, the Vesti journalist states: “There aren’t any checkpoints or barriers at the centre. The entrance and exit are free.”

The Russian Reconciliation Center reported on May 23 of the refugee centers:

In early May, these shelters were visited by officials from the respective UN agencies, in particular, the UNHCR, who could personally see that the Syrian government provided the required level of accommodation for the refugees in Homs. It is remarkable that most of the former Rukban residents have already relocated from temporary shelters in Homs to permanent residencies in government-controlled areas.”

Likewise, in the Horjilleh Center which I visited in 2018 families were living in modest but sanitary shelters, cooked food was provided, a school was running, and authorities were working to replace identity papers lost during the years under the rule of jihadist groups.

Calling on the U.S. to close the camp

David Swanson, Public Information Officer Regional Office for the Syria Crisis UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs based in Amman, Jordan, told me regarding claims of substandard conditions and of Syrians being forcefully held or mistreated in the centers that,

People leaving Rukban are taken to temporary collective shelters in Homs for a 24-hour stay. While there, they receive basic assistance, including shelter, blankets, mattresses, solar lamps, sleeping mats, plastic sheets, food parcels and nutrition supplies before proceeding to their areas of choice, mostly towards southern and eastern Homs, with small numbers going to rural Damascus or Deir-ez-Zor.

The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters on three occasions and has found the situation there adequate. The United Nations continues to advocate and call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian assistance and access to Rukban as well as to all those in need throughout Syria. The United Nations also seeks the support of all concerned parties in ensuring the humanitarian and voluntary character of departures from Rukban.”

Hedinn Halldorsson, the Spokesperson and Public Information Officer for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) based in Damascus, told me:

We looked into this when the rumours started, end of April, and concluded they were unfounded – and communicated that externally via press briefings in both Geneva and NY. The conditions in the shelters in Homs are also adequate and in compliance with standards; the UN has access and has done three monitoring visits so far.”

Syria Rukban

Syrian Arab Red Crescent members unload food and water for Rukban’s evacuees. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Halldorsson noted official UN statements, including:

“Alleged mistreatment of Rukban returnees

  • The United Nations is aware of media reports about people leaving Rukban having been killed or subject to mistreatment upon arrival in shelters in Homs.
  • The United Nations has not been able to confirm any of the allegations.

Regarding the issue of shelters, Halldorsson noted that as of July 1st:

  • Nearly 15,600 people have left Rukban since March – or nearly 40 per cent of the estimated total population of 41,700.
  • The United Nations has been granted access to the shelters in Homs on three occasions and found conditions in these shelters to be adequate.”

Confirming both UN officials’ statements about the Syrian government’s role in Rukban, the Syrian Mission to the United Nations in New York City told me:

The Syrian Government has spared no effort in recent years to provide every form of humanitarian assistance and support to all Syrians affected by the crisis, regardless of their locations throughout Syria. The Syrian Government has therefore collaborated and cooperated with the United Nations and other international organizations working in Syria to that end, in accordance with General Assembly resolution 46/182.

There must be an end to the suffering of tens of thousands of civilians who live in Al-Rukban, an area which is controlled by illegitimate foreign forces and armed terrorist groups affiliated with them. The continued suffering of those Syrian civilians demonstrates the indifference of the United States Administration to their suffering and disastrous situation.

We stress once again that there is a need to put an end to the suffering of these civilians and to close this camp definitively. The detained people in the camp must be allowed to leave it and return to their homes, which have been liberated by the Syrian Arab Army from terrorism. We note that the Syrian Government has taken all necessary measures to evacuate the detainees from the Rukban camp and end their suffering. What is needed today is for the American occupation forces to allow the camp to be dismantled and to ensure safe transportation in the occupied Al-Tanf area.”

Given that the United States has clearly demonstrated not only a lack of will to aid and or resettle Rukban’s residents but a callousness that flies in the face of their purported concern for Syrians in Rukban, the words of Syrian and Russian authorities on how to solve the crisis in Rukban could not ring truer.

Very little actual coverage

The sparse coverage Rukban has received has mostly revolved around accusations that the camp’s civilians fear returning to government-secured areas of Syria for fear of being imprisoned or tortured. This, in spite of the fact that areas brought back under government control over the years have seen hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians return to live in peace and of a confirmation by the United Nations that they had “positively assessed the conditions created by the Syrian authorities for returning refugees.”

The accusations also come in spite of the fact that, for years now, millions of internally displaced Syrians have taken shelter in government areas, often housed and given medical care by Syrian authorities.

Over the years I’ve found myself waiting for well over a month for my journalist visa at the Syrian embassy in Beirut to clear. During these times I traveled around Lebanon where I’ve encountered Syrians who left their country either for work, the main reason, or because their neighborhoods were occupied by terrorist groups. All expressed a longing for Syria and a desire to return home.

In March, journalist Sharmine Narwani tweeted in part that,

the head of UNDP in Lebanon told me during an interview: ‘I have not met a single Syrian refugee who does not want to go home.’”

Of the authors who penned articles claiming that Syrians in Rukban are afraid to return to government-secured areas of Syria, few that I’m aware of actually traveled to Syria to speak with evacuees, instead reporting from Istanbul or even further abroad.

On June 12, I did just that, hiring a taxi to take me to a dusty stretch of road roughly 60 km east of ad-Dumayr, Syria, where I was able to intercept a convoy of buses ferrying exhausted refugees out of Rukban.

Merchants, armed groups and Americans

Five hundred meters from a fork in the highway connecting a road heading northeast to Tadmur (Palmyra) to another heading southeast towards Iraq — I waited at a nondescript stopping point called al-Waha, where buses stopped for water and food to be distributed to starving refugees. In Arabic, al-Waha means the oasis and, although only a makeshift Red Crescent distribution center, and compared to Rukban it might as well have been an oasis.

A convoy of 18 buses carrying nearly 900 tormented Syrians followed by a line of trucks carrying their belongings were transferred to refugee reception centers in Homs. Members of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent distributed boxes containing beans, chickpeas and canned meat — the latter a scarcity among the displaced.

Rukban evacuation

Buses transported nearly 900 refugees from Rukban Camp to temporary shelters in Homs on June 12. Photo | Eva Bartlett

As food and water were handed out, I moved from bus to bus speaking with people who endured years-long shortages of food, medicine, clean water, work and education … the basic essentials of life. Most people I spoke to said they were starving because they couldn’t afford the hefty prices of food in the camp, which they blamed on Rukban’s merchants. Some blamed the terrorist groups operating in the camp and still others blamed the Americans. A few women I spoke to blamed the Syrian government, saying no aid had entered Rukban at all, a claim that would later be refuted by reports from both the UN and Red Crescent.

Image on the right: An elderly woman recounted enduring hunger in Rukban. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Syria Rukban

An old woman slumped on the floor of one bus recounted:

We were dying of hunger, life was hell there. Traders [merchants] sold everything at high prices, very expensive; we couldn’t afford to buy things. We tried to leave before today but we didn’t have money to pay for a car out. There were no doctors; it was horrible there.”

Aboard another bus, an older woman sat on the floor, two young women and several babies around her. She had spent four years in the camp:

“Everything was expensive, we were hungry all the time. We ate bread, za’atar, yogurt… We didn’t know meat, fruit…”

Merchants charged 1,000 Syrian pounds (US $2) for five potatoes, she said, exemplifying the absurdly high prices.

I asked whether she’d been prevented from leaving before. “Yes,” she responded.

She didn’t get a chance to elaborate as a younger woman further back on the bus shouted at her that no one had been preventing anyone from leaving. When I asked the younger woman how the armed groups had treated her, she replied, “All respect to them.”

But others that I spoke to were explicit in their blame for both the terrorist groups operating in the camp and the U.S. occupation forces in al-Tanf.

An older man from Palmyra who spent four years in the camp spoke of “armed gangs” paid in U.S. dollars being the only ones able to eat properly:

The armed gangs were living while the rest of the people were dead. No one here had fruit for several years. Those who wanted fruit have to pay in U.S. dollars. The armed groups were the only ones who could do so. They were spreading propaganda: ‘don’t go, the aid is coming.’ We do not want aid. We want to go back to our towns.”

Mahmoud Saleh, a young man from Homs, told me he’d fled home five years ago. According to Saleh, the Americans were in control of Rukban. He also put blame on the armed groups operating in the camp, especially for controlling who was permitted to leave. He said,

“There are two other convoys trying to leave but the armed groups are preventing them.”

Image below: Mahmoud Saleh from Homs said the Americans control Rukban and blamed armed groups in the camp for controlling who could leave. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Syria Rukban

A shepherd who had spent three years in Rukban blamed “terrorists” for not being able to leave. He also blamed the United States:

“Those controlling Tanf wouldn’t let us leave, the Americans wouldn’t let us leave.”

Many others I spoke to said they had wanted to leave before but were fear-mongered by terrorists into staying, told they would be “slaughtered by the regime,” a claim parroted by many in the Western press when Aleppo and other areas of Syria were being liberated from armed groups.

The testimonies I heard when speaking to Rukban evacuees radically differed from the claims made in most of the Western press’ reporting about Syria’s treatment of refugees. These testimonies are not only corroborated by Syrian and Russian authorities, but also by the United Nations itself.

*

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Eva Bartlett is a Canadian independent journalist and activist. She has spent years on the ground covering conflict zones in the Middle East, especially in Syria and occupied Palestine, where she lived for nearly four years. She is a recipient of the 2017 International Journalism Award for International Reporting, granted by the Mexican Journalists’ Press Club (founded in 1951), was the first recipient of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism, and was short-listed in 2017 for the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. See her extended bio on her blog In Gaza. She tweets at @EvaKBartlett

Featured image:  An elderly women evacuated from Rukban complained of hunger due to extremely high food prices. Photo | Eva Bartlett

Dozens Militants Killed In Airstrikes On Greater Idlib

South Front

Six improvised-explosive devices (IEDs) exploded on a part of the Kirkuk–Ceyhan oil pipeline passing near Iraq’s Mosul on July 3. The IEDs attack caused a major fire on the 970km long pipeline with a capacity of 1,600 thousand barrels per day. According to the Iraqi side, the fire was contained after a short period of time.

This was a second attack on oil sector-related facilities in Iraqi within a month. In June, a rocket struck the Burjesia residential and operations headquarters west of Basra, which is home to a number of international oil giants, including US firm ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, and Italian Eni SpA. Then, mainstream media rushed to blame “Iranian proxies”, but no evidence to confirm these claims were provided.

At least 50 members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the National Front for Liberation and the Turkistan Islamic Party were eliminated by Syrian and Russian airstrikes on Khan Shaykhun, Hobit, Madaya and other targets in Greater Idlib, according to pro-government sources.

At the same time, units affiliated with the  al-Qaeda-affilated “Wa Harid al-Muminin” operations room raided positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in al-Masharie in northern Hama. According to militants 7 SAA soldiers were killed. Additionally, 2 children were killed by militant shelling on the settlements of Aziziyah and al-Rasif.

Late on July 3, a booby-trapped motorcycle exploded in the city center of al-Suwyada. The governorate’s health director told the SANA that three civilians were killed and seven others were injured as a result of the terrorist attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, yet. However, ISIS remains the main suspect. The terrorist group’s cells are reportedly highly active in the Damascus desert, north of al-Suwyada. Comprehensive operations in these desert are not effective as long as militants always have an opportunity to hide from the SAA in the US-controlled area of al-Tanf. In turn, the US-led coalition demonstrated that, while it is not seeking to combat ISIS presence, it’s ready to attack any government units entering the area.

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