PUTIN-ERDOGAN MEETING: A STORM IS EXPECTED OVER THE “MOTHER OF ALL BATTLES” IN IDLIB; AYN AL ARAB IS AT STAKE

Posted on  by Elijah J Magnier

Hezbollah in Saraqeb attacking at night to free the western part of the city with special equipment.

The Turkish-Syrian battle is the battle of the Kurds in Ayn al-Arab, Kobane.

By Elijah J. Magnier:  @ejmalrai

Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdogan had decided to attack Russia, Iran and Syria when he sent his army to Idlib and bombed Russian and Iranian allies on the Idlib front. The Turkish president is feeling strong and believes he is holding many good cards to play against his Russian counterpart President Vladimir Putin. He trusts he is in a position to bomb Iran’s allies, despite the fact that they hold armed drones, precision missiles and experienced Special Forces that can hit Turkey very hard in the case of war. 

The conflict Erdogan envisions between Russia, Iran and Syria on one side and Turkey on the other would suit the US and Israel. They would be happy to see Presidents Putin and Erdogan sinking into the Syrian quagmire and Hezbollah losing more men in the Levant. Negotiations, intense battles and attempts to reshuffle the military situation are taking place behind the scenes. President Erdogan is trying to improve his military position on the ground before his meeting with President Putin in Moscow tomorrow Thursday- but to no avail. Stormy negotiations can be expected.

President Erdogan is not in a position to bang his fist on the table. At the time Russia is receiving Erdogan a tweet by the Russian Foreign Ministry reminds him how Russia defeated the Ottoman Empire and forced it to sign the Treaty of San Stefano in March 1878 in Constantinople. It has accused Erdogan of altering Syrian demography after occupying the Afrin province and Tal Abyad, forcing the departure of over 350,000 Kurds and the relocation of Turkmen militants and their families instead.

The battle of Idlib follows many secret talks before the struggle and reflects serious disagreements between Turkey on one side and Russia, Iran and Syria on the other. Erdogan was ready to negotiate and clear the roads linking Damascus and Aleppo (M5) and Aleppo and Latakia (M4) but in exchange, he asked for concessions in north-east Syria that were rejected. Turkey tried to stop the Syrian army and its allies and wanted to reach the gates of Aleppo. The current battle for Idlib, the “mother of all battles”, follows many secret talks which are the necessary context for understanding the current Turkish war on Syria and Syria’s response. For the first time, Syria has dared to hit the Turkish army directly- this has never happened before in the modern history of Syria.

Turkey is more isolated than it has ever been. It has lost its privileged position within the US by buying the S-400 and hosting the Turkstream pipeline selling Russian gas to Europe. It has lost European respect by organising the transfer of over 110,000 Syrian and other nationalities’ refugees to the borders, allowing them to reach the borders with Greece and refusing to close the Turkish borders to prevent the crossing. This Turkish blackmail is not winning friends on the European continent, especially since Erdogan is at the same time asking for more money to compensate the refugees’ presence in his country. 

Arab countries are standing with Syria against Turkey. Libya’s eastern-based government linked to General Khalifa Haftar inaugurated the opening of its embassy in Damascus. Saudi Arabian, Egypt, and the Emirates are showing solidarity with President Assad against the Turkish-Qatari-Muslim Brotherhood alliance. A strong message was delivered during the battle of Idlib where for the first time the Syrian and Turkish armies face each other on the battlefield. 

Erdogan is also losing support from Putin by bombing the Syrian army, trained by Russia, and damaging Syrian military effectiveness honed with Russian help. When Moscow closed an eye to Turkey’s desire to avenge the killing of 33 Turkish soldiers and officers in south Idlib, Erdogan responded with a disproportionate bombing which angered Russia and the allies that suffered the most. In response, Iran threatened to hit back against more than a thousand Turkish troops within the 14 Turkish observation points located within liberated Syrian territory and guarded by Hezbollah and Iranian IRGC forces. 

Putin is not completely losing his relationship with Erdogan, nor is it Russia’s intention to declare war on Turkey. In recent days, during a private meeting between Iranian and Turkish officials in Ankara, Iranian officers explained that “Iran and Russia believe that any war with Turkey will serve the US and Israel who would happily watch and contribute to fuelling the animosity between both sides.” US special representative for Syria James Jeffery said his country is ready to provide ammunition to Turkey in its Idlib battle. However, US defence secretary Mark Esper ruled out US intervention in favour of Turkey in Idlib.

In Idlib, Turkey seems to have lost hope in the capacities of tens of thousands of jihadists to hold the ground notwithstanding years of fortifications, tunnel digging and building stronghold positions in the cities along the Damascus-Aleppo (known as the M5) and Aleppo-Latakia (M4) roads. These jihadists are made up of a mixture of foreign fighters from dozens of different countries but mainly from the Tajik, Uighur, Turkmen and Arab jihadists fighting under Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (former ISIS, former al-Qaeda in Syria, former al-Nusra) fighting under different banners: from al-Qaeda (Hurras al-Din), Jund al-Aqsa to Ahrar al-Sham and many other names.

Hezbollah stopped an attack aiming to take back el-Eiss and from it to reach the gates of south Aleppo last Friday. The Turkish army bombed Hezbollah and Zul-fiqar brigade (Iranian IRGC, Fatimiyoun and Zeinabiyoun) at Talhiya to allow jihadists supported by Turkey to push into a corridor from Binnish and Taftanaz towards Talhiyah and from it to Rasm al-Is, Rasm al-Saharij, El-Eis strategic hill until al-Hader. Notwithstanding the Turkish intensive bombing to clear the road for jihadists and the killing of nine Hezbollah and over 66 wounded, the jihadists did not manage to get through. Hezbollah and their allies from the Zulfiqar brigades held their ground and stopped the advance.

Russia grounded its Air Force for 48 hours after the killing of 36 Turkish soldiers and officers (officially Turkey has declared 41 killed so far). The lack of air coverage surprised the allies of Russia who have anti-air missiles but were not expecting the Russians to abdicate their agreed role. Turkey managed to stop the Syrian army and its allies’ advance for 48 hours. However, all areas lost to the Turks were recovered within 48 hours. The battle of Saraqeb was the harshest. Hezbollah and the Zulfiqar brigade never withdrew from the east side of the city, while jihadists controlled the west side.

 Following the Turkish “disproportionate bombing”, as described by the Russian generals in Syria, Moscow ordered its Air Force commanders to escort a dozen Syrian anti-air batteries to the front line to protect Syrian troops from any Turkish bombing. Syria brought the Tor-M1 and its Pantsir system and took measures to reduce the casualties caused by the Turkish drones. 

Syria and its allies carried out (exceptional) night attacks liberating the strategic city of Saraqeb and held their positions in it. Hezbollah and Iran tripled the number of forces along the 70 km (M5 and M4) front against Turkey and its jihadists. Russia made 27 air attacks against Saraqeb and resumed air bombing in support of its allies.

Russia declared it could no longer “guarantee the safety of the Turkish aviation in Syria after Damascus shuts Idlib airspace”. The Syrian air defence systems downed around 7 Turkish drones. The Syrian army is showing dauntless courage by standing and bombing the Turkish military and fighting it face to face. Syrian artillery pounded Turkish positions and killed close to a dozen Turkish soldiers on the battlefield. President Bashar al-Assad’s decision to stand up to Turkey is something not even his father Hafez dared to do.

This is a response to Turkey’s killing and wounding of a large number of Syrian soldiers. Syria has been at war for nine years and has withstood significant losses. On the other hand, Turkey has one of the most prominent NATO armies with the most advanced means. A small and reduced Syrian army has now managed to kill Turkish soldiers on the battlefield, to destroy Turkish tanks and down their drones.

Turkey halted its direct bombing against Hezbollah and the Zulfiqar brigade. Iran and Hezbollah threatened to hit Turkey if the bombing continued. Close to 2000 Turkish officers and soldiers are now positioned, under Hezbollah and Iran’s ‘protection’, in 14 observation posts inside Syrian controlled areas, where they receive supplies locally. A meeting between the Iranians and the Turkish army and an exchange of messages took place between Hezbollah and Ankara, explaining that any clash between the two will bring the Levant and Turkey into a comprehensive confrontation that no one could win. The battle in Syria should not be against Turkey, and Erdogan needs to understand that the presence of his troops on Syrian territory is not acceptable.

Moscow moved its military police and special forces into Saraqeb to draw a line on any possible Turkish intention to attack the city again. The Turkish army attacks have yielded nothing, and the Syrian army and its allies are gaining momentum and have the upper hand. What is pushing Erdogan to fight with his own army alongside the jihadists for the control of two roads which it had previously agreed to de-escalate and declare a demilitarised zone in 2018?

According to decision-makers in Syria, President Erdogan asked his Russian counterpart to allow his forces to occupy an area 50 km deep in north-east Syria. At the start, Russia did not react to the Turkish advance to replace the US forces who decided to limit its presence in Syria to stealing Syrian oil, i.e. around the oil wells in north-east Syria. When the US redeployed, Russia asked Turkey to halt its operations in al-Hasaka and Raqqa provinces. Erdogan then lowered his request, asked for a 30 km deep buffer zone.

Russia has good ties with the Kurds and wants to see Syria united and all foreign forces leaving Syria. Erdogan said he was ready to clear the M5 and M4 in exchange for the control of Ayn al-Arab (Kobane). Putin refused and agreed with Iran and Damascus to remove jihadists along the M5 and M4 by military force. Erdogan felt he was cut out of the deal because his jihadists did not hold their ground, and proved to be an incapable military force against Syria and its allies. This is why the Turkish army was pushed into the battle, supported by drones, F-16s, precision missiles and artillery. Today it is fighting on behalf of the jihadists that, according to Sochi agreement, should have been eliminated by Turkey more than a year ago.

Turkey wants to bring back the deployment of forces on the ground to where they were before the Idlib battle and is calling for the respect of the Astana agreement but from a weaker position. In fact, it is too late for that; deals have a short life in Syria! Ankara will have to accept the status quo and prepare to lose Idlib without further concessions in the Kurdish area. This does not mean Erdogan will accept and surrender without a fight all the Syrian territories he has occupied without a fight. The Putin-Erdogan meeting will probably not end all differences, and much may have to be postponed until the forthcoming Putin-Erdogan-Rohani meeting this month in Tehran. 

Erdogan seems to have forgotten the help Putin and Rohani gave him during the 2016 failed coup-d’état. He is showing recklessness and wrongly believes his potential partners are weak. The Turkish president is prioritising his territory-expansion ambition over his commercial and partnership relationship with Russia and Iran. The Turkish army is grinding its teeth over Idlib. The Ottoman Sultan never defeated the Russian Czar in the past and he certainly won’t succeed now in Syria…

Proofread byC.G.B. and Maurice Brasher

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RELATED NEWS

Syria, Washington and the Kurds. “The Rojava Dream is Dead”

By Prof. Tim Anderson

Global Research, December 31, 2019

American Herald Tribune

With the defeat of ISIS and Nusra, the exposure of the ‘White Helmets’ and the various Chemical Weapons stunts, and with the collapse of ‘Rojava’, Washington is fast running out of options in Syria. Syria is winning, but the big power has not yet given up. Knowing that it is losing, it still acts to prolong the endgame and punish the Syrian people.

***

We are sitting at a joint military command center in Arima (northern Syria, just west of Manbij) with three Syrian Arab Army (SAA) colonels and two uniformed Kurd SDF ‘koval’ (comrades). There are Russians here too, but they do not enter our conversation. Yet even in the friendly chat, as we wait for permission to travel on to Manbij and Ayn al Arab (Kobane), some tensions are apparent.

Sharing coffee and food, both the SAA officers and the SDF comrades acknowledge they are fighting and dying together against an invading Turkish army and its proxy militias. The frontline is just a few kilometers away.

When I ask what differences there are between DAESH, Nusra and the ‘Free Army’, they all respond derisively.  “There is no difference, it is a money game, the fighters go back and forwards depending on the pay rates”. “Any difference between groups in the numbers of foreigners?” I suggest. “No difference”, they repeat. SDF Comrade B passes me a recent video of ‘Free Army’ fighters at Tal Abiad, to the north-east, protesting conditions and demanding their return to HTS/Nusra controlled Idlib.

But we all know they fight for a different cause. The SAA officers are fighting for a liberated and united Syria, while the SDF comrades still dream of an independent ‘Kurdistan’ by cutting out parts of contemporary Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

Separatist Kurds collaborated with US occupation forces in pursuit of their ‘Rojava’ dream (western Kurdistan), even though Washington never really supported the project. Many Syrians see them as traitors. But the SAA is patient, dealing with one enemy at a time, and at the moment the enemy in north Syria is Erdogan.

The ‘Rojava’ dream is effectively dead. As both Afrin (in March 2018) and Manbij (in October 2019) demonstrated, no Kurdish militia can defend itself from Ankara, which correctly sees any ‘Rojava’ statelet as a stepping stone for the bigger game, a large slice of Turkey. Protection by US occupation forces could not last forever. Moreover, Kurdish groups have no exclusive historical claims over any parts of northern Syria. Many others live there. In much of north Syria Kurds are a small minority.

Despite these tensions a close, even affectionate relationship remains in the room. The SAA colonels are all older men, in their 40s and 50s, while the SDF comrades are younger men, around 30 years old. Colonel H offers more coffee to Comrade A while Comrade B tells of Kurdish conquests. “We lost 850 martyrs liberating Manbij”, he says, and “2,000 in Kobane”. And what about all those in your prisons? one of the colonels asks. “They are reformatories”, Comrade B replies.

Aleppo and Manbij dcc6a

*(Between Aleppo and Manbij there is a switch from checkpoints controlled by the Syrian Arab Army to those controlled by the Kurdish SDF, even though the SAA and Russia now secure most of these ‘SDF controlled’ areas)

What Comrade B does not say about the “liberation” of Manbij is that (1) the 2016 battle was effectively a transfer of the city from one US proxy (ISIS/DAESH) to another (SDF), and (2) there were very few Kurds in that mostly Arab city. After the major battles, many from surrounding areas fled to the city, swelling its population. A recent estimate puts its population at 700,000, of which 80% are Arab (Najjar 2019). Of the rest there are other non-Arab minorities, including Assyrians, Circassians and Armenians. There is no real social base for a separatist Kurd regime in Manbij.

Yet even after the departure of US occupation forces from this part of northern Syria, and even though the Syrian and Russian presence constrains Turkish ambitions, the SDF has been allowed to maintain its former administration of both the city and the region.

The bizarre and unsustainable nature of this regime is made apparent when Nihad Roumieh, my Syrian journalist colleague, asks one of the colonels to show us where we are. Colonel A happily rolls out a military map, with friend and enemy troop placements. The first thing apparent is that six Syrian armored units protect Manbij, to the north. Second, although Syrian forces have resumed control of more than 200km of the northern border, it is depressing to see how much of northern Syria remains occupied by Erdogan and his proxies.

The picture seemed even more grim when we later spoke with a Manbij councilor and his lawyer friend. They complained of many held in prison and tortured, under the SDF regime. They said there were only two Kurd villages in Manbij.

Nevertheless, it seems that a transition is taking place. Over November-December both Syrian and Russian flags were raised over previous SDF positions in Hassakah, Ayn al Arab, Jarablus and Tal Jemaa (Syrian Observer 2019; Semenov 2019; SOHR 2019), with suggestions that the SDF was involved in negotiations with Damascus “to reach conclusive solutions”. However, SDF leader Mazloum Abadi said that the group wanted “Syrian unity … [with] decentralized self-administration” including maintenance of the separate SDF militia (Syrian Observer 2019). Damascus is unlikely to accept such terms.

*

The claim for a Kurdish homeland in Syria is no indigenous movement, claiming the return of ancestral lands. Nor does the debate over Kurds as historical migrants (in Yildiz 2005) or long-standing inhabitants (Hennerbichler 2012: 77-78) resolve the question. While Kurdish languages are of Iranian origin, and the longer history passes through Mesopotamia (Iraq) and the Ottoman Empire, Kurds are certainly part of the native Syrian population.  However at 1.5 million Syria hosts the smallest group in the region, with around 20 million in Turkey (Gürbüz 2016: 31) and another 6-8 million each in Iran and Iraq.

The idea of a ‘Rojava’ statelet in Syria has been compromised in three ways. First, the Kurdish groups in the north and north-east Syria are only one of several groups (amongst Assyrians, Circassians, Armenians and Arabs), and in some areas small minorities. Second, the Kurdish separatist movement in Syria has been over-determined by the politics of and migration from Turkey. ‘Rojava’ was seen as the stepping stone for a larger ‘Kurdistan’ project, driven from the north. Third, intervention by the imperial power raised separatist expectations and has damaged Kurdish relations with other Syrian groups.

In the longer history of Syria, a traditional refuge for minorities, there have been many Kurds, including famous personalities, who did not buy into the separatist dream.

Sheikh Mohammad al Bouti

Two of them are buried inside the grounds of the Ummayad Mosque in Damascus: the 12th-century ruler Sala’addin and the Quranic scholar Sheikh Mohammad al Bouti (murdered by Jabhat al Nusra in 2013). Many Syrians of Kurdish origin embraced the idea of a wider identity. Before the 2011 conflict Tejel (2009: 39-46) classified Syrian Kurdish identities as comprising Arab nationalist, communist and Kurdish nationalist, with Syrian Kurd leaders Husni Za’im and Adib al-Shishakli campaigning for a non-sectarian ‘Greater Syria’.

The Turkish Kurd influence began early in the 20th century, as Kurdish culture was repressed by the post-Ottoman Turkish state. Turkish Kurds first took refuge in Syria, including in Damascus, after their failed rebellion in 1925. The very idea of a Syrian Kurdish party first came in 1956 from the Turkish refugee Osman Sabri; and another Turkish refugee Nûredîn Zaza, became president of that party (al Kati 2019: 45, 47).

There were multiple splits in subsequent years. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) emerged in the 1980s as a branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), loyal to its leader Abdallah Öcalan, who in 1996 acknowledged that “most of the Kurds of Syria were refugees and migrants from Turkey and they would benefit from returning there” (in Allsop 2014: 231). Many of the claims about ‘stateless’ Kurds in Syria have to be read in light of this Turkish influx. However, Öcalan departed in 1998, as part of Syria’s Adana agreement with Turkey (al Kati 2019: 49-52).

The big powers, conscious of the potentially divisive role of separatist Kurds, have used them for decades, to divide and weaken Arab governments. US regional allies Israel and Iran (pre-1979) joined in, with the Shah in 1962 ordering his SAVAK secret police to help finance the Kurdish insurgency in northern Iraq, so as to undermine Baghdad. The Israelis joined in two years later. The CIA offered further help to the Barzani-led Kurds in 1972. One result was that Iraq was unable to join the Arab resistance against Israeli expansion in 1967 and 1973 because a large part of its military was deployed in northern Iraq (Gibson 2019).

The US-led war on Syria in 2011 presented new separatist opportunities. Peoples Protection Units (YPG) were reactivated in 2012, at first with support from Damascus so that Syrians in the north could fight ISIS. However, the US occupation of parts of north and east Syria in late 2015 led to the reorganization of many YPG units into the US-sponsored ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) (Martin 2018: 96). These were sometimes referred to as a ‘Rojava’ force, while at other times the Kurdish component was played down.

According to one US military report in 2017 the SDF in Manbij was only 40% Kurd (Townsend in Humud, Blanchard and Nikitin 2017: 12), addressing the embarrassing reality that Manbij had a very small Kurdish population. In late 2016 US Col. John Dorrian, gave a higher overall Kurd estimate, saying that the SDF “consists of approximately 45,000 fighters, more than 13,000 of which are Arab” (USDOD 2016). Many of the latter came from the fragments of earlier US proxy militia in Syria.

Syrian Colonel Malek from Aleppo confirmed to me that the bulk of SDF members were always Kurdish, including many from Iraq and Turkey. The size of the non-Kurd and foreigner contingents varied according to the money on offer. A report from the London based International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR) recognized that both the YPG and SDF ground forces remained largely arms of the Turkish PKK (Holland-McCowan 2017: 10).

The failure of the September 2017 separatist referendum in Iraq dealt a serious blow to the regional project. The KDP and PUK put aside their rivalry to hold an independence referendum (having already pushed for and gained federal status) even though it was not authorized by Baghdad. The proposal was said to have gained 92% approval, but was immediately rejected by the Iraqi Government and Army, which drove Peshmerga forces out of Kirkuk in just a few hours (Gabreldar 2018; ICG 2019). For the first time in decades the Iraqi Army took control of the NE region. Baghdad was showing a political will that had been lacking for many years.

In Syria, US forces did nothing to stop the YPG’s ethnic cleansing of non-Kurds in areas to which they laid claim. In October 2015, the western aligned group Amnesty International accused the YPG (just before the US rebranded them as the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’) of forcibly evicting Arabs and Turkmens from areas they took after displacing ISIS. Amnesty produced evidence to show instances of forced displacement, and the demolition and confiscation of civilian property, which constituted war crimes (AI 2015). Similar accusations had come from Turkish government sources (Pamuk and Bektas 2015) but also from refugees who said that ‘YPG fighters evicted Arabs and Turkmens from their homes and burned their personal documents’ (Sehmer 2015; Al Masri 2015).

However, after the US forces became direct patrons of the SDF in late 2015, a UN commission, co-chaired by US diplomat Karen Koning AbuZayd, continued its quest to place most of the blame for abuses on Syrian Government forces. The Commission accused the YPG/SDF of forcibly displacing communities “[but only] in order to clear areas mined by ISIL”, and of forcible conscription, but “found no evidence to substantiate claims that YPG or SDF forces ever targeted Arab communities on the basis of ethnicity, nor that YPG cantonal authorities systematically sought to change the demographic composition of territories” (IICISAR 2017: 111 and 93).What Syria’s Kurds “Think” They are Fighting For Versus Reality

Nevertheless, in 2018 there were ongoing reports of the ethnic cleansing of Assyrian Christians from US-SDF held areas in NE Syria. Young men in the Qamishli area were reported to have been arrested and forcibly conscripted into Kurdish militia, alongside property theft by those same militias (Abed 2018). In 2019 the SDF were reported to have closed more than 2,000 Arabic-teaching schools in the Hasaka region (Syria Times 2019) and to have shot, killed, wounded and jailed displaced people who were trying to escape from al-Hawl Refugee Camp in South-Eastern Hasaka (FNA 2019). Nevertheless, once US forces created and adopted the Kurdish-led ‘SDF’, Amnesty International and the western media muted their earlier criticisms.

Washington in 2012 had looked favorably on the ISIS plan for a “Salafist principality”, so as to weaken Damascus (DIA 2012). In September 2016 US air power was used to attack and kill more than 120 Syrian soldiers at Mount Tharda behind Deir Ezzor airport, to help the terrorist group’s (failed) efforts to take over and threaten the city (Anderson 2017). But when Russia, Syria and Iraq began wiping out these Saudi clones, USA forces simply rescued their best commanders and replaced ISIS with a Kurdish-led ‘SDF’ (Anderson 2019: Chapters 5 and 7), once again to undermine and weaken Damascus.

But US occupation forces did not wait around to sponsor the ill-fated Rojava project. In October 2019 President Trump gave the order for a partial withdrawal from northern Syria. Former US diplomat Robert Ford had warned in 2017 that the US would abandon the SDF (O’Connor 2017). So, stripped of US military protection and their main source of arms and finance, the SDF was forced to rapidly put together a new alliance with Damascus and Russia, to prevent annihilation by Erdogan’s forces. The Turkish leader saw the Öcalan-led YPG/SDF as a stepping stone to its larger project in Turkey (Demircan 2019).

Western liberals complained the US was ‘betraying’ its Kurdish allies; but they placed too much faith in romantic myths. Ünver (2016), for example, presented separatist Kurds as recipients of unplanned opportunities in Syria’s “civil war” in an “age of shifting borders”, as though the big power were not once again using the ‘Kurdish card’ to divide and weaken both Iraq and Syria. Schmidinger (2018: 13, 16-17) tried to twist Syria’s historic diversity into an argument for the ‘Rojava’ sectarian division – instead of an inclusive unitary state. But, as has been said many times before, imperial powers never have real allies, only interests. Lebanese Resistance leader Hassan Nasrallah told Kurdish separatists in February 2018: “In the end they will work according to their interests, they will abandon you and they will sell you in a slave market.”

Meanwhile, with Washington’s blessing, Erdogan persists with his plan to control large parts of northern Syria, with the aim of settling many of the refugees in Turkey under a Muslim Brotherhood style regime, controlled by sectarian Islamist militia. Retired Syrian Major General Mohammad Abbas Mohammad told me that Turkey’s leader has not given up his ambition of becoming a modern-day ‘Caliph’ of Muslim nations, and is working to colonise Syrian minds with his constant Islamist slogans.

*

Nevertheless, with the help of its allies, Syria is winning the war. ISIS/DAESH and Nusra are virtually defeated, the ‘White Helmets’ and the Chemical Weapons stunts have been exposed and the Rojava myth has collapsed. But a Washington-driven economic war now targets all the independent countries of the region, aggravating the occupation and the terrorism.

Director of the Syrian Arab Army’s Political Department Major General Hassan Hassan, tells us that the US “has the power to destroy the world, many times over, but it has not been able to turn that power into capabilities.” That is why US wars are failing across the region.

While we are indeed heading for a multi-polar world, he says, we are not there yet. “Syria still faces the unipolar regime”. Erdogan, ISIS, Israel and the SDF are all “puppets” of this dying world order. Authorized by the US, Erdogan still wants to set up a Muslim Brotherhood region in north and east Syria. This is a dying and a “most dangerous” order, General Hassan says. “The US deep state knows that its unipolarity is failing, but that has not yet been announced. The new world system is born, but is not yet recognized. The US wants to prolong this conflict as long as possible, and to punish the Syrian people”.

Euphrates f77f4

(Crossing the huge Furat (Euphrates) river, from rural Manbij to rural Raqqa, north Syria)

In that transitional phase we see collaboration between the SAA and the SDF, the extraordinary anomaly of an SDF-run Manbij and the ongoing experiment of ‘Kobane’, the SDF controlled border town which Syrians call Ayn al Arab.

Traveling from rural Aleppo to rural Raqqa on the M4 highway we cross the Furat (Euphrates) river, a huge, semi-dammed expanse of fresh water which appears particularly sweet between two deserts. Turning north we arrive in Ayn al Arab, at the Turkish border, in less than an hour. Although Erdogan’s gangs are attacking Ayn al Issa, deeper inside Syria on the M4, there is no sign of fighting near Ayn al Arab itself. Major General Abbas says that Erdogan is aiming at narrow incursions, which can later be widened.

This small city of perhaps 45,000 people was evacuated during earlier fighting and still shows signs of great destruction, especially on the eastern and northern sides. Less than a tenth of the size of Manbij it is now said to have a majority of Kurds and the SDF comrades seem well organized. We are taken to their small headquarters, a three-story building, to await further security checks and an escort to one of their schools and one of their hospitals.

At the secondary school, as in the headquarters, they seem wary of a foreigner accompanied by an SAA Colonel and a Syrian journalist. That breaks down a little as I ask about their curriculum and the children, who have clearly gone through substantial trauma. The headmaster says they are developing programs to help students deal with their war experiences. The threat is not over, as Erdogan’s troops, including sectarian Islamist gangs, are only a few kilometers to the north.

The Kurdish nationalist curriculum has made a break with the centralized Arabic-based system set in Damascus. The headmaster explains that their syllabus is carried out 60% in the Kurdish language, 20% in Arabic and 20% in English. For children from Arab families the syllabus is 60% Arabic, 20% Kurdish and 20% English. They speak of four ‘nationalities’ in Kobane: Kurd, Arab, Yazidi and Christian. That is how they see it.

The management of the small hospital is also strongly Kurd nationalist. I ask where they get their support and they mention the Americans and some international NGOs. Of course, there is nothing from Ankara. “What about Damascus?” I ask. “Nothing and we want nothing”, says one of the managers.

That may be true for this hospital. However Syrian colleagues tell that most of the health centers in SDF controlled areas still get finance and supplies from Damascus. So not only is their security guaranteed by the Syrian state, so are most of their social services.

It remains to be seen how much Kurdish autonomy will remain, under a final political settlement. Federation is not part of the discussion, it is clear that Damascus sees that as a path which would dismember and weaken the country. While the SAA and the SDF jointly fight Erdogan’s gangs, Damascus has been calling on Arab leaders in the north and north east, who had collaborated with the US occupation force and the SDF, to return to the Syrian Arab Army. On the other side, SDF Commander General Mazloum Abdi opposes incorporation of the SDF into the SAA (Van Wilgenburg 2019) and wants to hold onto as much local administration as possible (Syrian Observer 2019). The continued US presence and sponsorship of SDF units in Hasaka, Qamishli and Deir Ezzor (Ahval 2019), serves to maintain the illusions of autonomy.

In the Russian media there is some pessimism about an SDF-Damascus reconciliation. One observer suggests that “Russia will eventually force most (if not all) of Turkey’s forces to leave Syria … [but Damascus] and the Syrian Kurds have opposing political and military goals that will not be easily reconciled” (Stein 2019).

However, Damascus has some other cards. The YPG/PKK/SDF grew its influence through US sponsorship and, as that declines, other voices in the north, including Kurdish voices, are likely to re-emerge, especially through the constitutional process in Geneva. Major General Abbas points out that there are now dozens of Kurdish parties in the north east (Syria Times 2018). Given the intransigence of the US-dependent SDF, Russia is said to be recruiting Syrian Kurd youth to a rival group (Duvar 2019), which is likely to be incorporated into the SAA.

In my view, there will likely be some accommodation of Kurdish nationalist demands at the cultural and local administrative levels, but alongside efforts to ensure this does not privilege Kurds above other Syrian groups. That should appear in the amended constitution. The old world order is dying and the new one is still being born. In this transitional world, Washington persists with its losing war, to divide and punish the Syrian people.

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Dr. Tim Anderson is Director of the Sydney-based Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies. He has worked at Australian universities for more than 30 years, teaching, researching and publishing on development, human rights and self-determination in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East. In 2014 he was awarded Cuba’s medal of friendship. He is Australia and Pacific representative for the Latin America based Network in Defence of Humanity. His most recent books are: Land and Livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (2015), The Dirty War on Syria (2016), Global Research, 2015, now published in ten languages; Countering War Propaganda of the Dirty War on Syria (2017) and Axis of Resistance: towards an independent Middle East (2019).

Sources

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Gibson, Bryan (2019) ‘The Secret Origins of the U.S.-Kurdish Relationship Explain Today’s Disaster’, Foreign Policy, 14 October, online: https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/10/14/us-kurdish-relationship-history-syria-turkey-betrayal-kissinger/

Gunter, Michael (1996) ‘The KDP-PUK Conflict in Northern Iraq’, Middle East Journal, Vol. 50, No. 2 (Spring, 1996), pp. 224-241

Gürbüz, Mustafa (2016) Rival Kurdish Movements in Turkey, Amsterdam University Press

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Hoffman, Sophia (2016) The Politics of Iraqi Migration to Syria, Syracuse University Press, New York

Holland-McCowan, John (2017) ‘War of Shadows: How Turkey’s Conflict with the PKK Shapes the Syrian Civil War and Iraqi Kurdistan’, International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence (ICSR), online: https://icsr.info/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ICSR-Report-War-of-Shadows-How-Turkey’s-Conflict-with-the-PKK-Shapes-the-Syrian-Civil-War-and-Iraqi-Kurdistan.pdf

Humud, Carla E.; Christopher M. Blanchard and Mary Beth D. Nikitin (2017) ‘Armed Conflict in Syria: Overview and U.S. Response’, Congressional Research Service, April 26, online: https://www.refworld.org/pdfid/591c08bc4.pdf

Ibrahim, Shivan (2019) ‘Syria’s Kurdish parties do not see eye to eye’, Al Monitor, December 9, online : https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/12/kurds-syria-pyd-national-council-russia-syrian-regime.html

ICG (2019) ‘After Iraqi Kurdistan’s Thwarted Independence Bid’, International Crisis Group, Report 199 / Middle East & North Africa 27 March, online: https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/iraq/199-after-iraqi-kurdistans-thwarted-independence-bid

IICISAR (2017) ‘Human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations in the Syrian Arab Republic, 21 July 2016’, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, ‘Conference room paper’, 10 March 2017, online: https://www.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?sourcedoc=/Documents/Countries/SY/A_HRC_34_CRP.3_E.docx&action=default&DefaultItemOpen=1

Kutschera, Chris (1994) ‘Mad Dreams of Independence: The Kurds of Turkey and the PKK’, Middle East Report, No. 189, The Kurdish Experience (Jul. – Aug., 1994), pp. 12-15

Martin, Kevin (2018) ‘Syria and Iraq ISIS and Other Actors in Historical Context’, in Feisal al-Istrabadi and Sumit Ganguly (2018) The Future of ISIS: Regional and International Implications, Brookings Institution Press

Mohannad Al-Kati (2019) ‘The Kurdish Movement in the Arab World: The Syrian Kurds as a Case Study’, AlMuntaqa , Arab Center for Research & Policy Studies, Vol. 2, No. 1 (April/May 2019), pp. 45-61

Najjar, Faray (2019) ‘New front in Syria’s war: Why Manbij matters’, Al Jazzera 16 October, online: www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2019/10/front-syria-war-manbij-matters-191015143157365.html

O’Connor, Tom (2017) ‘’U.S. will lose Syria to Iran and abandon Kurdish allies, former Ambassador says’, Newsweek, 19 June, online: https://www.newsweek.com/us-military-kurds-lose-iran-syria-former-ambassador-627395

Pamuk, Humeyra and Umit Bektas (2015) ‘Turkey sees signs of ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Kurdish fighters in Syria’, Reuters, 17 June, online: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-kurds-turkey-idUSKBN0OW1SA20150616

Schmidinger, Thomas (2018) Rojava: Revolution, War and the Future of Syria’s Kurds, Pluto, London

Sehmer, Alexander (2015) ‘Thousands of Arabs flee from Kurdish fighters in Syria’s north’, The Independent, 1 June, online: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/thousand-of-arabs-flee-from-kurdish-fighters-in-syrias-north-10289475.html

Semenov, Kirill (2019) ‘Russia faces Dilemmas in northeastern Syria’, Al Monitor, 21 November, online: https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2019/11/russia-syria-us-turkey-kurds.html

SOHR (2019) ‘Lens of SOHR monitors the rise of the Syrian flag and the flag of Syriac Military Council affiliated to “SDF”, in Tal Jemma north of Tal Tamr town’, 4 December, Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, online: http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=149576

Stein, Aaron (2019) ‘Temporary and Transactional: The Syrian Regime and SDF Alliance’, Valdai Club, 29 November, online: https://valdaiclub.com/a/highlights/temporary-and-transactional-the-syrian-regime/

Syrian Observer (2019) Russia takes over SDF Base in northern Hassakeh, 2 December, online: https://syrianobserver.com/EN/news/54623/russia-takes-over-sdf-in-northern-hassakeh.html

Syria Times (2018) ‘Syrian officer to ST: forces in Syria’, 31 December, online: http://syriatimes.sy/index.php/editorials/opinion/39606-syrian-officer-to-st-forces-in-syria

Syria Times (2019) ‘SDF militia closes 2154 Syrian schools and gives some of them to US occupation army’, 27 September, online: http://syriatimes.sy/index.php/news/local/43878-sdf-militia-closes-2154-syrian-schools-and-gives-some-of-them-to-us-occupation-army

Tejel, Jordi (2009) Syria’s Kurds: History, Politics and Society, Routledge, New York

Ünver, H. Akin (2016) Schrödinger’s Kurds: Transnational Kurdish Geopolitics in the Age of Shifting Borders, Journal of International Affairs , Vol. 69, No. 2, Shifting Sands: The Middle East in the 21st Century (SPRING/SUMMER 2016), pp. 65-100

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Van Wilgenburg, Wladimir (2019) ‘SDF leadership meets with Arab tribes in response to Damascus call to defect’, Kurdistan24, 11 December, online: https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/09be9fde-3988-4307-be32-ab161da48412

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All images in this article are from the AHTThe original source of this article is American Herald TribuneCopyright © Prof. Tim AndersonAmerican Herald Tribune, 2019

Turkish Offensive In Northern Syria Pushed Kurds Into Hands Of Assad And Moscow. War Report

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The defense of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) is steadily collapsing under pressure from the Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish-backed militant groups, branded as the National Syrian Army.

Since the start of Operation Peace Spring, Turkey-led forces have captured 42 settlements from the SDF. Most of them were abandoned by Kurdish fighters after a series of artillery and air strikes by the Turkish military. The most intense clashes took place in the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad, and on the chunk of the M4 highway between Aywah and Sahi Ruwaydat.

Turkish forces started a storm of Ras al-Ayn in the evening of October 11. On October 12, the Turkish Defense Ministry announced that its forces got a full control of the town. On the same day, a powerful SDF counterattack forces Turkish-backed militants to withdraw to the southern part of Ras al-Ayn. On October 13, an intense fighting there continued, with the town remaining contested. By October 14, Turkey-led forces had established control of most of it.

Another area of heavy clashes was Tell Abyad. The Turkish military and the NSA advanced on the town of October 12 and captured its center on October 13. The success in the area was predetermined by previous advances of Turkey-led forces that besieged the town from the eastern and western directions.

On October 12 and 13, forward units of the NSA were working to cut off the M4 highway stretching along the Syrian-Turkish border. According to photos and videos released online, when Turkish-backed militants first reached the highway they captured and executed a number of civilians, including Hevrin Khalaf, the head of the SDF-linked political party – the Future Syria Party. The SDF tried to push Turkish-backed forces back, but failed to do so.

The shape of the current Turkish military efforts demonstrate that at the first phase of the advance Ankara seeks to capture the border area between Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad, and reach the M4. After this, they will likely push towards Kobani and Manbij.

The Turkish Armed Forces already deployed Leopard 2A4 battle tanks on the eastern bank of the Euphrates and floating bridge equipment near the Sajur river, north of Manbij.

According to Ankara, about 500 members of Kurdish armed groups have been neutralized since the start of the operation. At the same time, Turkish sources admit that 6 Turkish soldiers and up to 2 dozens NSA members were killed. Pro-SDF media outlets report about tens destroyed Turkish armored vehicles and dozens of surrendered NSA members. Proofs are barely provided by both sides.

785 ISIS-linked persons fled the SDF-run Ain Issa camp after SDF members had withdrawn from the area. The SDF accused Turkey for the incident and claimed that the prisoners fled thanks to help from ‘Turkish mercenaries’. Meanwhile, Ankara already declared that it’s ready to take responsibility for detention centers with ISIS members and their relatives in northeastern Syria after it takes control of them.

Washington is not going to assist the SDF in repelling the Turkish offensive despite SDF loud statements about their role in the war on ISIS and the US strategy in the region. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CBS News on October 13 that the US is “preparing to evacuate” about 1,000 troops from northern Syria “as safely and quickly as possible”. The withdrawal of US troops is another sign that the Turkish operation against the SDF was in fact coordinated with and approved by the Trump administration.

The last chance of the SDF to keep control of their remaining areas along the Syrian-Turkish border is to get help from the Syrian Army and Russia. If this is not done anytime soon, the real SDF resistance to the Turkish advance will likely remain only in the few Kurdish-populated areas of northeastern Syria.

On October 13 evening, the SDF announced that it had reached an agreement with the Assad government, and the Syrian Army will enter a large part of its areas, including Manbij and Kobani, and help the Kurdish-led group to limit the further offensive of Turkish forces. The implementation of this agreement may become a turning point in relations between Damascus and the SDF.

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Washington abandons its Kurdish proxies as Ankara and Damascus step in

October 13, 2019

By Aram Mirzaei

Washington abandons its Kurdish proxies as Ankara and Damascus step in

Even though I have my doubts over whether Washington will actually withdraw from Syria fully, it seems as if their Kurdish proxies in northern Syria have been left to defend for themselves against the ongoing Turkish offensive. I can’t say I’m surprised since Washington has done this to their Kurdish “partners” many times before, yet the Kurdish leadership across Iraq and Syria have failed to learn from history yet again.

Once more, the Kurdish leadership have been proven to have put their faith in the wrong allies. When Moscow stepped into the Syrian war four years ago, Moscow gave the YPG the same offer that Assad had given before: reconcile with Damascus and join forces against terrorism. They refused. Moscow tried again by offering them to set up a consulate in Moscow, inviting them to peace talks in Astana and offering them safety from Turkish attacks, if they agreed to a deal with Damascus, one that respects Syria’s territorial integrity. Moscow even offered talks on a guarantee for future Kurdish participation in Syrian politics. They refused once again, with a spokesperson for the YPG explaining that Washington does not allow them to talk to Moscow. Such was the nature of the US-Kurdish “alliance”.

When the so called “Islamic State” terrorist group was about to collapse in 2017, the US backed “Syrian Democratic Forces”, of which YPG is part of, was quick to grab as much land as possible. Then came the threats against Damascus and the Syrian Army, to back off from entering the eastern shores of the Euphrates. Fortunately, Moscow, Tehran and Damascus saw Washington’s moves early on as they managed to capture the imperative city of Albukamal, located exactly at the Syrian-Iraqi border, before Washington could. In capturing this city, Damascus and Baghdad have been able to re-open the Tehran-Damascus highway stretching from Iran, through Iraq and into Syria, connecting the three countries and enabling the transportation of supplies from Iran to Syria.

The SDF managed to secure many of Syria’s oil fields in their push to capture the eastern parts of the Deir Ezzor province. Having grabbed such a large part of Syria, the Kurdish leadership felt safe with US forces backing them against Damascus.

This stance didn’t seem to change when Turkish forces together with their proxy jihadists launched the Afrin offensive. US forces did nothing to protect their Kurdish vassals from harm as Turkish forces easily captured the entire Afrin Canton within weeks. The Kurdish leadership was offered a deal with Damascus in which control over the Afrin area would be handed over to the Syrian Army before Turkish forces could capture it. Alas this suggestion was refused by the stubborn Kurdish leadership who would rather let Ankara and the Jihadists capture that area.

So 18 months later, the US has seemingly withdrawn and abandoned the Kurdish-led militias to fend for themselves against Ankara and a hostile Damascus. Not so surprising considering Washington’s track record. The Turkish Army and its proxies launched their offensive on Wednesday and quickly announced gains that same day. Since then, several towns along with the border city of Tal Abyad have fallen into Turkish hands as reports have emerged that imprisoned ISIS militants have escaped from their prisons as a result of Turkish bombardments of several prisons in the Hasakah province.

The offensive has caught an enormous amount of media attention, as the Kurds have for long been the Western Media darlings, capturing many people’s hearts with footage of young armed women battling the perverted terrorist forces of the “Islamic State”.

Washington and the European vassals have all howled and voiced their “concerns” over Turkey’s offensive. Some have called for resolutions and embargoes on Turkey for “violating international law” and “endangering the region”. What a joke! Look at the people expressing their “concern”: Hillary Clinton, Lindsey Graham and Nikki Haley. These are some of the people that are concerned that Turkey is “endangering the region”.

Now when Twitter is being filled with videos of executed Kurdish fighters, these people recognize the same “FSA” militants that they used to cheer for to execute Syrian soldiers, for what they are, barbarian scum.

Just a few days after the commencement of the offensive, Kurdish officials began contemplating the idea of turning to Moscow and Damascus for help, but not before asking Washington one last time to confirm their betrayal. SDF General Mazloum Kobani openly indicated in an interview with CNN that dealing with Moscow and Damascus is an option if the US fails to protect the Kurds from Turkey. “I need to know if you are capable of protecting my people, of stopping these bombs falling on us or not. I need to know, because if you’re not, I need to make a deal with Russia and the regime now and invite their planes to protect this region”, Kobani said.

What a sad statement. He needs a receipt of Washington’s betrayal, as if it was a surprise when he and his colleagues have been warned for years about Washington’s treacherous nature. Reports have previously suggested the amassing of Syrian Army forces near Manbij in the Aleppo province, with the aim of entering and taking over the area. The same has been said about Hasakah and Qamishli in the northeastern parts of the country. If true, then this would create a situation similar to the one two years ago when the Islamic State was collapsing. As mentioned before, back in 2017, as the Islamic State was collapsing, the SAA and the US-backed SDF were racing to capture as much territory as possible. This resulted in the Euphrates turning into a demarcation line between SAA and SDF controlled territory, a line that has been in place since 2017. Now, it seems as if a new race is on, as the Syrian Army is racing against time, with the jihadists rapidly advancing and are inching closer to Raqqa city.

If the Kurdish militias are willing to cooperate, then Damascus must be harsh in its demands. The Kurdish militias must hand over their weapons and the territory they’re occupying if they want to have any chance of surviving the Turkish-led onslaught. But they need to act quickly, time is running out for the Kurdish militiamen.

Will the Kurds choose poorly again?

KURDISH-LED SDF SAYS IT REACHED DEAL WITH DAMASCUS. SYRIAN ARMY MARCHES TOWARDS KOBANI

 Kurdish-led SDF Says It Reached Deal With Damascus. Syrian Army Marches Towards KobaniClick to see the full-size image

KURDISH-LED SDF SAYS IT REACHED DEAL WITH DAMASCUS. SYRIAN ARMY MARCHES TOWARDS KOBANI

The self-administration of Northeastern Syria, a political wing of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), announced on October 13 evening that it had reached a deal with the Damascus government.

The deal says the Syrian Army will enter into the SDF-controlled area in order to protect the Syrian border from the Turkish military intervention (Operation Peace Spring).

According to reprots, by the morning  of October 14, Syrian Army units will enter the towns of Manbij and Kobani. Some sources say that the SAA will also enter into al-Tabqah. However, these reports still have to be confirmed.

Mutlu Civiroglu

@mutludc

Self Administration of NE Syria announces an agreement with Syrian Government to protect Syrian borders with SDF against Turkey. It will also help liberating all areas from Turkey including Afrin

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Syria’s state-run news agency SANA announced that the Syrian Army is now “moving north to confront Turkish aggression on Syrian territory”

“This movement comes to confront the ongoing Turkish aggression on towns and areas in the north of Hasaka and Raqqa provinces, where the Turkish forces committed massacres against locals, occupied some areas, and destroyed infrastructure,” SANA said.

Wladimir@vvanwilgenburg

North Press has video of Syrian army moving into Manbij. Very easy. Since Arima there was already Russian-Syrian govt centre.

Wladimir@vvanwilgenburg

North-Press reporter: Deployment of the Syrian Governmental Forces on the outskirts of Manbij city in preparation for their entry @NPA_SY

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Syrian War Report – October 11, 2019: Turkish Forces Storming Tell Abyad, Ras Al-Ayn

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Since October 9, the Turkish Armed Forces and Turkish-backed militants have been developing a ground phase of their operation against Kurdish armed groups in northeastern Syria.

The main Turkish efforts were focused on the towns of Ras al-Ayn and Tell Abyad. Turkey-led forces captured several villages surrounding the towns and event entered Tell Abyad. Nonetheless, the situation in the area remains unstable. It is expected that the Syrian Democratic Forces, a brand used by mainstream media to describe the YPG and the YPJ, will be able to defend fortified urban areas until they are not encircled.

According to pro-Turkish sources, over 100 YPG/YPJ members were neutralized since the start of the operation. This number remains unconfirmed. Pro-Kurdish sources claim that the YPG was able to eliminate several pieces of Turkish military equipment and kill two dozens of Turkish proxies. These claims were also barely confirmed by any evidence. However, at least 17 civilians were injured in a mortar shelling that targeted the Turkish town of Ceylanpınar.

Syria’s state-run news agency SANA reported on October 10 that about 100 US troops had left northeastern Syria through the Semalka border crossing with Iraq. Taking into account that US President Donald Trump called Turkey’s operation a “bad idea”, but distanced himself from Kurdish forces because they did not help the US in World War II, it becomes more and more clear that the Turkish military action in the region is in fact coordinated with the US.

By this move, the Trump administration makes an important step to return confidence of its key ally in the eastern Mediterranean and, at the same time, delivers a blow to efforts of the Obama administration and the CIA that had contributed notable efforts in supporting the Kurdish project in northern Syria.

The possible rapprochement of the US and Turkey over the conflict in Syria will allow Washington to strengthen its campaign to limit influence of Iran and the Assad government in the war-torn country, as well as open additional opportunities for a revanche of the US military industrial complex on the Turkish market. This is a logical step in the framework of the national-oriented policy provided by the Trump administration.

The key question is how deep into Syria the Turkish military is planning to expand its Operation Peace Spring. Currently, pro-Turkish sources speculate about the possible creation of a 30km-deep corridor. If the US allows Turkey and Turkey appears to be capable of reaching this goal, Anakra will boost its role in the conflict even further and gain a wide range of options to influence its possible settlement. In this event, the Assad government will lost all the remaining chances to restore the territorial integrity and the Trump administration will get additional leverages of pressure on Iran, the Assad government and Russia in Syria.

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Turkey bombed US special forces by mistake in northern Syria: Newsweek

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:00 P.M.) – The Turkish military struck some U.S. Special Forces personnel in northern Syria this week while they were attacking the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), Newsweek reported on Friday.

Citing an Iraqi-Kurdish intelligence official and a senior Pentagon official, the Turkish military mistakenly hit some U.S. Special Forces personnel that were embedded with the SDF troops in the border city of Kobani (var. ‘Ayn Al-‘Arab).

The attack consisted of artillery fire and was reportedly carried out at Mashtenour Hill in Kobani.

According to Newsweek, the senior Pentagon official said that the Turkish Armed Forces should be conscious of the U.S. positions in the region.

The report did not specify if there were any casualties as a result of this attack.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense and U.S. Defense Department have not commented about the alleged incident in northern Syria.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Turkish Armed Forces kicked off “Operation Peace Spring” against the Syrian Democratic Forces and their allies from the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

Since launching this offensive, the Turkish Armed Forces and their allies from the so-called “Syrian National Army” have captured several areas around the cities of Ras Al-‘Ayn (Al-Hasakah Governorate) and Tal Abyad (Al-Raqqa Governorate).

 

TURKISH OPERATION PEACE SPRING IN NORTHEASTERN SYRIA, EXPLAINED

South Front

10.10.2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syrian War Report – October 4, 2019: Iran Foils Attempt To Assasinate Commander Of Qods Force

South Front

Turkey is fortifying its border with the Syrian province of Idlib with cement blocks, barbed wires, and other military-style structures. According to Ankara, Idlib is in the hands of the so-called moderate opposition. However, it is for some reason concerned over the presence of these moderate activists in the border area.

During the past months, the Turkish military deployed notable forces, including heavy military equipment, on the Turkish side of the border with the Syrian province. Most of these forces are located near the opposition-controlled border crossings.

Meanwhile, the situation once again escalated in the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone. On October 3, the Syrian Army shelled militant positions near the town of Kafr Nabudah and Baarbu in southern Idlib with heavy rockets. On the same day, helicopters of the Syrian Air Force delivered a fresh round of strikes in northern Lattakia targeting Hayat Tahrir al-Sham near Kabani.

Pro-militant sources also reported that the Syrian Army shelled area near a Turkish observation point in Maarat.

Despite efforts of Turkey, Iran and Russia in the framework of the Astana format, Idlib militant groups continue shelling positions of the Syrian Army along the contact line in southern Idlib and northern Lattakia on a regular basis. This forces the army to respond and fuels instability in the area.

The Intelligence Service of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced that it had foiled an “Israeli-Arabic” plot to assassinate Gen. Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Qods Force of the IRGC. According to Hojjatoleslam Hossein Taeb, the assassination squad bought a house next to the shrine of Gen. Soleimani’s father, prepared 350-500kg of explosives and planted them in a tunnel under the shrine. The squad planned to carry out the attack on September 8 or 9, which are the 9th and 10th days of the holy Islamic month of Muharram. Gen. Soleimani was supposed to visit his father shrine on one of these days. The IRGC arrested the entire squad consisting of 3 operatives. G_3

Iran is yet to name the side responsible for the supposed assassination attempt. However, most likely, Teheran will accuse Israel and Saudi Arabia.

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In the Last 24 Hours: US Sends Fresh Military Convoy to Aleppo to Reinforce Military Bases

Syria in Last 24 Hours: US Sends Fresh Military Convoy to Aleppo to Reinforce Military Bases Despite Trump's Call

TEHRAN (FNA)- The US Army sent new convoys to a military base under its occupation in Northeastern Aleppo despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria.

“The US has sent a convoy comprising several vehicles carrying military and logistic equipment to the military bases under its control in the town of Ain al-Arab (Kobani),” battlefield sources in Northeastern Aleppo said.

Meantime, the Syrian army continued its military advances in other parts of Syria over the past 24 hours.

Tens of terrorists were killed and dozens more were injured during the Syrian army’s operations in provinces across Syria.

Aleppo

The US Army has sent new military convoys to a military base under its occupation in Northeastern Aleppo despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria, informed sources said.

Battlefield sources in Northeastern Aleppo said that the US has sent a convoy comprising several vehicles carrying military and logistic equipment to the military bases under its control in the town of Ain al-Arab (Kobani).

The report comes as the US has not yet withdrawn troops or equipment from Northern Syria and Washington has even dispatched more military convoys to the region. The US is reinforcing its military bases in Eastern Euphrates.

Hama-Idlib

The Syrian Army reinforced its military positions in all frontlines in Northern and Northwestern Syria to prepare for a tough battle amid intensified clashes with the terrorists in the region.

The Syrian Army has dispatched its new military convoys from Southern Syria to the Northern, Northwestern parts of Hama and Southeastern Idlib, battlefield sources said.

The sources also reiterated that other military convoys of the Syrian Army have been sent to Northern and Northeastern Aleppo, including Tal Rafat in Northern Aleppo and the outskirts of Manbij where the Ankara-backed militants are stationed.

Meantime, the sources also pointed to the full preparedness of the Syrian Army troops in Aleppo, Idlib, Hama and Lattakia for conducting military operations in the Northern parts of Syria, and said that army divisions in Northern, Western and Southern battlefronts are standing ready for confrontation with terrorists.

The Syrian Army reinforcement comes as terrorist groups stationed in the region have not left their positions despite an agreement reached between Russia and Turkey on demilitarized zone.

Meantime, heavy clashes are also underway between Hayat al-Sham al-Hay’at and the National Liberation Front terrorists in Southern Idlib and Northwestern Hama. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has managed to beat the rival terrorists and won control over several regions, including Tarmala, al-Naqir, Abedin and Arinbeh South of Idlib.

Also, the Syrian Army foiled further attacks from the demilitarized zone by Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) and their allied terrorist groups in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib.

The Syrian Army’s artillery units prevented members of a terrorist group who were trying to penetrate into the army positions in Northern Hama from the surrounding areas of Ma’arkabeh town, killing and injuring several terrorists and forcing many others to flee the scene.

Meantime, the Syrian Army’s artillery units pounded the terrorists’ movements in the outskirts of Wadi al-Dorat and Al-Zuka in Northern Hama.

Other Syrian troops also targeted Jeish al-Izzah terrorists’ movements from al-Latamanieh town towards military points in Northern Hama, inflicting major losses on them.

In Southeastern Idlib, the Syrian Army’s artillery units pounded Tahrir al-Sham positions and movements in Tal Khatareh, Tal Kolbeh and Al-Zarzour, killing a number of them and destroying several positions of the terrorists.

Raqqa

An attack by unidentified assailants on the Syrian Democratic Forces left several SDF members dead and wounded in Raqqa.

Media activists in Raqqa reported that the assailants exploded a bomb in a military headquarters of the Kurdish forces near the Arabic School in Raqqa city center, killing six SDF militants and injuring eight more.

Meantime, some battlefield sources said that the attack has been carried out by the ISIL.

In another attack a roadside bomb hit the SDF forces in al-Kantari-Solouk Road in Northern Raqqa which resulted in the death of a SDF member and injury of several others.

The Turkish army also targeted a patrol car of the Kurdish forces near Nas-Tal village in Northern Raqqa near Turkish border. There is yet no report on the number of casualties among the SDF forces.

Syrian Army Foils Terrorists’ Attacks in Hama, Idlib, Inflicts Heavy Losses on Militants

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian Army continued warding off renewed attacks by Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) from the demilitarized zone in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib on Wednesday.

The Syrian Army’s missile and artillery units pounded the terrorists’ movements from Wadi al-Dorat in Eastern al-Latamanieh in Northern Hama towards the Syrian Army’s military point in the region, killing and wounding a large number of terrorists, while forcing others to retreat.

The Syrian army’s artillery units also targeted and pounded a terrorist group who intended to penetrate into the army’s military positions from the town of Mourek, killing and wounding a number of them as well as destroying their weapons and military equipment.

In Southeastern Idlib, the army’s artillery units also targeted and pounded Tahrir al-Sham’s movements from al-Khowin and al-Zarzour regions towards the army’s military positions before they could penetrate into their positions.

Meantime, Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at terrorists has captured 50 towns and villages in Idlib, Hama and Aleppo during clashes with other terrorist groups in the last eight days.

In a relevant development on Tuesday, the Syrian Army foiled further attacks from the demilitarized zone by Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at and their allied terrorist groups in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib.

The Syrian Army’s artillery units prevented members of a terrorist group who were trying to penetrate into the army positions in Northern Hama from the surrounding areas of Ma’arkabeh town, killing and injuring several terrorists and forcing many others to flee the scene.

Meantime, the Syrian Army’s artillery units pounded the terrorists’ movements in the outskirts of Wadi al-Dorat and Al-Zuka in Northern Hama.

Other Syrian troops also targeted Jeish al-Izzah terrorists’ movements from al-Latamanieh town towards military points in Northern Hama, inflicting major losses on them.

In Southeastern Idlib, the Syrian Army’s artillery units pounded Tahrir al-Sham positions and movements in Tal Khatareh, Tal Kolbeh and Al-Zarzour, killing a number of them and destroying several positions of the terrorists.

In a relevant development on Monday, the Syrian Army foiled an attempt by terrorists who were trying to penetrate into government forces’ military positions in Northern Hama.

The terrorist groups stationed in Northern Syria continued their provocative moves against the Syrian army, forcing into failure an agreement reached by Russia and Turkey on the establishment of a demilitarized zone.

The Syrian Army units stationed in the surrounding area of Shaliot village, North of Mahradeh, prevented the terrorists of Jeish al-Izzah from infiltrating into government forces’ positions from al-Zukah village.

The Jeish al-Izzah terrorists sustained heavy losses in the army attacks on their positions. The Syrian Army also destroyed the terrorists’ military equipment and hardware forcing the remaining terrorists to retreat.

The Syrian Army’s artillery units also targeted the military positions and movements of the militants in the surroundings of al-Latamanieh, al-Zukah, Lahaya, Mourek, al-Sokhr, al-Janabereh and Kafar Zita in Northern Hama, destroying several military positions of the terrorists.

In Southeastern Idlib, the Syrian Army units also targeted the terrorists in Sakik, Tavil al-Halib and Katibeh al-Mahjoureh region, inflicting heavy losses among them.

Meantime, the Syrian army dispatched massive military convoys to Northern Syria to confront the terrorist groups who have intensified their attacks on government forces’ military positions from the demilitarized zone.

In a relevant development on Saturday, the Damascus Army in response to the continued terrorists’ attacks from the demilitarized zone in Northern Syria pounded the militants’ movements in Aleppo, Hama and Idlib provinces, inflicting heavy losses on them.

The Syrian Army with heavy artillery attacks pounded the military positions and movements of the terrorists in the small town of al-Baneh in Northern Hama, destroying several posts as well as killing and wounding a number of terrorists before they could attack the government forces’ positions in the area.

Meantime, other Syrian army units targeted the military positions and headquarters of Islamic Turkistani Party terrorist group in the surrounding areas of the villages of al-Najieh and Badama West of Jist al-Shoghour in Western Idlib and near the demilitarized zone, destroying several targets and inflicting heavy losses on terrorists.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syrian War Report – November 2, 2018: Syrian Army Discovers ISIS Depot With US-supplied Ammunition

South Front

02.11.2018

On November 1, Hayat Tahir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) announced that its members had attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) near the village of Abu Qamis in southeastern Idlib. Three SAA soldiers were reportedly killed.

A source in the SAA told SouthFront that clashes had erupted near the village, but declined to provide additional details. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least one Hayat Tahrir al-Sham member was killed.

Later on the same day, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and another al-Qaeda-linked group, Horas al-Din, shelled multiple SAA positions in northern Hama and western Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Turkish and US troops carried out a first joint patrol near the town of Manbij. The patrol was carried out near the Saju Stream, which separates the Turkish-held city of Jarabulus from Manbij, which is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF consists mostly of Kurdish armed formations like the YPG, which are considered as terrorist groups by Ankara.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar publicly promised that members of the YPG and another Kurdish armed group, the PKK, “will be buried in the trenches it has dug” near Manbij. He also stated that Ankara would continue its military operations against the PKK in northern Iraq, where the group has a wide infrastructure used for attacks in Turkey.

Sporadic clashes between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the YPG/PKK are still ongoing near Kobani in Syria. Reports also appeared that the TAF is now forming a list of Turkish-backed groups, which would participate in a possible military operation against the YPG near the Euphrates River.

In the province of Deir Ezzor, the SAA uncovered a large ammunition depot, which included 450,000 bullets of 7.62×51mm caliber, near the city of al-Mayadin. This ammunition depot had been left behind by ISIS terrorists when they lost the battle for al-Mayadin to the SAA. According to the Syrian state media, this ammunition had been supplied by the US to Syrian militant groups, which then sold it to ISIS. Over the past few years, there have been multiple examples when US-backed “opposition groups” have appeared to be terrorist groups or openly cooperated with ISIS.

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Analysis: Russia, US Have Promising Starting Points for Cooperation in Syria

 

Analysis: Russia, US Have Promising Starting Points for Cooperation in Syria

PETER KORZUN | 03.05.2017 | WORLD

Analysis: Russia, US Have Promising Starting Points for Cooperation in Syria

Moscow is ready to cooperate with the United States on settling the Syrian crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on April 29. The statement was made at a time the much-awaited round of Astana talks were to kick off on May 3-4 and the UN-brokered talks in Geneva were about to resume. There is a good reason to address the issue without delay.

Three days after Turkish aircraft delivered strikes along the Turkey-Syria border, the US deployed troops and APCs in the contested region. Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis has confirmed the information. US forces will also deploy as a separation force in areas where the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army and the Kurdish forces meet.

Turkey attacked the positions of the US-backed People’s Protection Units, or YPG, a close US ally in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). The Kurdish group is seen by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization with ties to Turkey’s Kurdish rebels. Clashes between Turkish and Kurdish forces in Syria could potentially undermine the US-led anti-IS effort. American forces are to carry out the mission of deterrent to protect the Kurds against attacks.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) – the leading force of Syrian Kurds – took full control of the Syrian town of Kobani last year, making it a powerful symbol of Kurdish resistance to Islamic State (IS). In February 2016, a representative office for Syrian Kurdistan opened in Moscow to represent the interests of Syrian Kurds and develop bilateral relations with Russia. Neither the US nor Russia is interested in further clashes between Turkey and Kurds. Both have good working relations with the Syrian Kurdish groups and both closely cooperate with the Turkish government. They share the desire to prevent hostilities between them. So, Moscow and Washington have a common goal.

A very important event – an extraordinary twist to illustrate the complexity of the conflict – took place in March. Russian and US forces were separately carrying out the same mission of Manbij and acting as a buffer between rival Kurdish and Turkish-backed militias. They acted separately but had the same objective. As The Times described it, «US and Russian troops have been patrolling the outskirts of the same Syrian town in the closest co-operation between the superpowers on the battlefield since the Second World War».

This was improvisation to prevent the worst. Inevitably, the activities were coordinated by commanders on the ground with the permissions given by top leaders in the nations’ capitals. The Manbij military council earlier had asked Russian and Syrian troops to form a buffer zone between Manbij and Turkish forces in al-Bab, 25 miles to the southwest.

The increased US military activity on Jordan’s northern border suggests that the operations will soon expand to southern Syria. A joint US-British-Jordanian military contingent is waiting in northern Jordan for the green light to enter southern Syria. The aim of the offensive is to combat the Khalid Ibn al-Walid Brigade, an Islamic State affiliate operating in the Golan Heights. This development introduces new potential consequences. A US military engagement in the south could result in conflict with the Russia-supported Syrian government forces located in the province of Daraa. Tensions could escalate to negatively affect the Astana peace process and the UN-backed Geneva negotiations.

Israel and Jordan have security concerns to spur talks on establishing a kind of buffer zone in the southern part of Syria to prevent terrorist attacks across the borders. President Trump and Jordanian King Abdullah discussed such a scenario in February. Israel is increasingly concerned about the presence of IS terrorists on its north-eastern border in the occupied Golan Heights – only 20 miles from the town of Safed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is advocating the idea of creating a buffer zone inside Syria.

It’s not plain sailing, but the concept appears to have taken root in the US and its allies. Nothing is clear about what actors would be involved, who would be responsible for the protection of such zones on the ground, whether the establishment of a safe zone would be followed by declaring a no-fly zone, and who would shoulder the expenditure. The key question is whether the safe zones will eventually be returned to Syrian government control.

It’s worrisome that the discussions seem to never even mention the need to submit a plan to the United Nations or the Syria government for approval.

The implementation of a safe zone in southern Syria is fraught with the risk of engaging Syria’s government troops. Once established, it’ll need constant coordination and de-confliction with Syrian, Iranian and Russian forces. The US has no direct contacts with Syria and Iran, which makes Russia’s mediation the only way to do it. A no-fly zone is unthinkable without coordinating the activities with Russia.

In a broader term, cooperation between Washington and Moscow is inevitable for crisis management after the IS, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and other extremist groups are routed.

Minister Lavrov’s statement is more than timely. As the situation creep demonstrates, there is no time to lose. One may not like the idea, but cooperation is inevitable. At the next G20 summit in July, the two leaders can hit it off and achieve a breakthrough as a start of a broader process of improving the overall relationship.

Virgina State Sen. Richard Black Interviewed by Pravda

Posted on November 30, 2015

 photo richardblack_zpsqi6twco7.jpg

Virginia State Senator Richard Black

Richard Black is a state senator in Virginia, and his views are decidedly out-of-the-ordinary, at least insofar as US politicians are concerned. I put up a post on Black last year after he sent a letter to Syrian President Bashar Assad thanking him for defending Christians in the Middle East and expressing his support for Syria in its war against ISIS. Black at the time was ridiculed in the mainstream media, but you can go here to see the post I put up on him, which includes the full text of the letter he wrote.

Now Black has done an interview with Pravda, expanding on his views regarding the conflict in Syria and discussing particularly the role played in that conflict by the US. That role, Black feels, has definitely not been a positive one. Some of the things Black says are quite good. This for instance:

If I were a young man, I would fight and perhaps give my life for Syria, because I believe their cause is just. I would fight to defend, not only my Christian brothers and sisters, but all good Syrians of every faith. Each night, I pray to Our Savior, Jesus Christ, for an end to foreign intervention in Syria.  I pray for the Syrian soldiers and all of their allies, that they will be victorious and liberate Syria. I pray for the courageous Russians, that they will return safely from each heroic mission. My heart breaks for the women and children held as slaves because of American covert actions. I cannot believe that we have become complicit in reestablishing slavery in the Middle East. I am deeply saddened when I see the terrorists we support conduct mass execution s of helpless captives, and when I see men crucified or burned or drowned by those whom we support.

And he also nails Turkey:

Turkey is the supply line for all terrorists in northern Syria.  When the Kurds began sealing the Turkish border with Syria, the U.S. agreed to a type of “no fly zone” in exchange for Turkey joining the largely ineffective coalition against ISIS. In fact, Turkey is the closest ally of ISIS.  They had no intention of harming ISIS. Instead, Turkey launched 297 air strikes against the heroic Kurds who had defeated ISIS at Kobani. Turks drove Kurdish forces away from the segment of the Turkish border used by Turkey to supply ISIS.

Of course, few people, particularly in the soiled political sphere of a nation, can be regarded as perfect. Black also makes the following comment regarding 9/11:

Despite the war’s complexity, there are essentially two forces today–Syria and the terrorists. And, there are two competing terror armies–ISIS and the Army of Conquest. Both are offspring of al Qaeda, which murdered 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.

Is Black trying to suggest that Al Qaeda planted the explosives that brought down Building 7? The architects and engineers who have been looking into this matter for a good number of years now, have proven conclusively that the collapse of Building 7 was the result of controlled demolition. The science is on their side. So is Black simply unaware of their work? Or is it that he’s aware of it, but still chooses to believe the official 9/11 story anyway? Or–the third possibility–is he just pretending to believe the official version because he knows questioning it will get him labeled a “conspiracy theorist?”

Hard to say, and I’m not even going to speculate on it. I’ll simply limit myself to offering the observation that Black, despite his inability to speak the truth about 9/11, may be the best that the diseased, ailing political system in the US is capable of producing. I do not know if he plans a run for national office at some time in the future, but if he does you might consider voting for him. He would certainly be substantially better than any of the Democrats or Republicans currently seeking the presidency. Both the Democrat and Republican parties are hopelessly corrupt and are incapable of being reformed.


Damascus, Paris: Interview with Senator Black

Pravda

The Russian Air Force have dramatically changed the situation on the field in the Syrian conflict showing to the entire World that the Islamic terrorists con be hit and defeated by the loyalist forces if supported by a sincere ally. But, as a scorpion, ISIS and the other terroristic organizations sting where and when one does not expect. The very recent attacks in Paris are a clear and tragic demonstration of this truth.

I asked again some questions about this situation to Senator Richard Black, recently re-elected  in his district of the Commonwealth of Virginia State Senate, well known to our reader for his opinions about the Syrian war. The following is his long interview.

Q) The old Syrian scenario has been changed by the Russian intervention against the terrorists. Are you surprised by the Russian behavior?

A) I was greatly relieved when Russia finally sent aircraft to support the legitimate government of Syria. I felt that both Russia and Iran were waiting until the Iranian Nuclear Agreement was finalized, and that turned out to be correct. When Russia began to bolster Syrian ground forces, the U.S. quickly cried foul. We argued that the Russians should ignore the al Qaeda-based “Army of Conquest” and instead attack ISIS targets. But the Army of Conquest threatened to overrun Russia’s air bases in Syria unless they were stopped immediately. Calls for Russia to ignore the imminent military threat and instead pursue distant ISIS forces were simply absurd. Despite the war’s complexity, there are essentially two forces today–Syria and the terrorists.  And, there are two competing terror armies–ISIS and the Army of Conquest.  Both are offspring of al Qaeda, which murdered 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001.  The Army of Conquest is built around al Nusra, which has sworn allegiance to al Qaeda. So the U.S. now has gone full circle in the War on Terror. Today, we arm and train al Qaeda–the same force that brought down the Twin Towers and hit the Pentagon. Today, we send anti-tank missiles to the Army of Conquest, and those missiles are being used to prolong the misery of the Syrian people.

Q) Syrian forces were exhausted after nearly 5 years of war but Russia helped boost the defense of the country. According with your experience, what we could expect in the next future of war?

A) Turkey is the supply line for all terrorists in northern Syria.  When the Kurds began sealing the Turkish border with Syria, the U.S. agreed to a type of “no fly zone” in exchange for Turkey joining the largely ineffective coalition against ISIS. In fact, Turkey is the closest ally of ISIS.  They had no intention of harming ISIS. Instead, Turkey launched 297 air strikes against the heroic Kurds who had defeated ISIS at Kobani. Turks drove Kurdish forces away from the segment of the Turkish border used by Turkey to supply ISIS. That border gap leads directly to Raqqa, the capital of ISIS. Thousands of armed trucks are dispatched from Turkey into Syria and Iraq, and they travel through that “no fly zone”. However, with Russian help, the terrorists were driven back in many areas. And just last week, Syria broke the three-year siege of the Kuwairis Military Airfield. With Russian help, Syria managed to recue 1,200 brave young soldiers from certain death. Remember, the terrorists have no prisoner of war camps- they are trained by Western intelligence operatives to murder all captives, in order to spread terror. In the future, much will depend on how effective the U.S. anti-tank missiles are in blunting Syrian advances.  There are indications that, in addition to TOW anti-tank missiles, MANPAD anti-aircraft missiles may have been supplied in limited numbers. However, the recent terror attacks in Paris may cause the West to be hesitant to release MANPADS in large numbers. All of these missiles -MANPADS and TOWs– can destroy passenger jets taxiing for takeoff.  They present a clear and present danger to civil aviation, and the West must balance that against continuing its aggression against the Syrian people.

Q) The terrorist of Al-Qaeda and ISIS used and use even now massively anti-tank missiles, the well knew TOWs. These weapons are made in USA. How is it possible that this kind of weapon is in the hands of those devils?

A) TOW missiles are supplied to the terrorists in two fashions. First, they are sent to so-called “moderate” rebels. Those rebels often turn them directly over to the terrorists. In fact, many U.S. trained rebels leave quickly to join and fight with al Qaeda or ISIS. Secondly, the missiles are sold to Saudi Arabia or Turkey under agreements that prohibit them from transferring the missiles without U.S. approval. Recently, Saudi Arabia received U.S. authorization to send 500 TOW missiles to terrorists fighting in the Aleppo Theater. Selling TOWs to our Arab allies keeps American fingerprints off weapons being transferred to terrorists.

Q) Thousands of TOWs Senator… It couldn’t be possible that they bought all of them at the black market. Isn’t it?

A) Few TOW missiles are on the black market. Almost every missile is deliberately funneled to the terrorists by the coalition.

Q) Recently I read news about a plan to give portable anti-air missiles to “selected rebels”. I hope it’s a fake but… who could have a similar idea in a government?

A) Initial reports were unclear. However, those reports now seem substantiated. Apparently, the MANPAD anti-aircraft missiles are being outfitted to limit their use to the Syrian theater through GPS-type technology. That seems to be a very risky ploy.  It presumes that components cannot be modified for use elsewhere.

Q) According to you, is it possible in Syria a second “Afghan scenario” against Russia?

A) When the Soviet Union ended, many of us hoped that it signaled a new era for U.S. relations with Russia. Unfortunately, the foreign policy establishment had thousands of Soviet experts with a vested interest in maintaining hostile relations with Russia. Although I served during the Cold War, I saw great potential for common ground between Russia and the West.  Unfortunately, neither Republican nor Democrat presidents have taken firm control over the anti-Russian activities of the Department of State and the CIA. They continue to pursue aggressive actions toward Russia, and I’m sure that some of them would like to turn Syria into a new Afghan scenario. However, this is quite risky. We have seen that inciting Islamic terrorism is extremely dangerous for U.S. interests; our actions have now inflamed the entire region and threaten to spread violence across all of Europe.

Q) In Syria women drive cars, teach in schools and universities, and serve in the police and armed forces. In Saudi Arabia women are beheaded charged by witchcraft. Why Washington charges President Assad of everything and is silent with the House of Saud?

A) General Wesley Clark, formerly the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe, revealed that in 2001, American plans were drafted to overthrow seven peaceful countries, including Syria.  Ten years later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put those plans into action. At the time, Syria was a stable and peaceful nation. Under President Assad, Syrians had greater religious freedom and greater women’s rights than any other Arab people. But in 2011, foreign intelligence operatives and the Muslim Brotherhood incited mobs to attack Christians and minorities. They deliberately turned ordinary demonstrations into a violent rebellion that has inflamed the Islamic World and resulted in 250,000 deaths. This was not done to enhance Syrian freedom, since Syrians were already as free as any people in that region. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, is one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships. It officially permitted slavery as late as 1962. And since the Koran endorses slavery, slavery is almost certainly practiced quietly by some of our Gulf State allies. ISIS was once funded by Saudi Arabia. ISIS operates slave markets openly, and I’m not aware that our Arabian coalition allies have criticized this practice. I have read the Syrian Constitution. It protects religious freedom, the rights of women and the Rule of Law. It requires national elections. President Assad was elected by a huge margin in elections that appeared as fair as possible, considering the wartime impediments. During that election, Western nations refused to permit Syrians to cast votes in their countries. They prevented voting by Syrians in their countries because they knew they would vote overwhelmingly in favor of Assad. The West avoided that awkward embarrassment by simply prohibiting overseas Syrians from voting at all.  The West does not want a popularly elected president in Syria. We want to install a puppet-a Quisling who will betray his people. Many of our coalition allies are absolute dictators. They would never allow elections like those in Syria. They call themselves kings, but in the Mideast that is simply another term for dictator. America became closely allied with Saudi Arabia because of oil politics and the Saudi’s ability to buy political friends. Today, it is clear that the U.S. could be the world’s largest producer of oil if it chose to do so. That would allow us to distance ourselves from Saudi Arabia, which would be a very positive thing for world peace.

Q) There is nothing that an honest gentleman of Virginia could do to help stopping the war in Syria?

A) On April 1, 2014, I wrote to President Assad. My letter caused shock waves around the world.  It was as though I was “the boy who said the emperor had no clothes”. The media were outraged and attempted to destroy me by mocking my letter. But my letter said just two things:  First, I thanked the Syrian Army for its gallant rescue of Christians held captive by terrorists along the Qalamoun Mountain Range. Next, I said that I could not explain why the United States was supporting the same al Qaeda terrorists who had murdered 3,000 Americans on 9-11. When excerpts from my letter were published, many people thought my views were compelling. They began to question, and then to openly criticize U.S. policy in Syria. I continue to speak out and will do so until Syrians are permitted to determine their own future and elect their own government. I believe that more and more people realize the absurdity of siding with terrorists against Syria. They no longer believe the myth of “carefully vetted moderates”. We need people to understand that if the U.S., France and Britain stopped supporting the terrorists, the war would end. Refugees could return home.  It is as simple as that.  We are the cause of the war, and we can end it whenever we wish.

Q) The Syrians in the occupied territories more probably don’t read this interview but could you tell something the same, from your heart, to those are still under the feet of the terrorists?

A) I am a patriotic American. Unlike most officials, I fought and bled for my country during some of the fiercest combat in memory. As a Marine Corps officer, I was wounded and both of my radiomen were killed beside me, while attacking enemy positions across the Hoi An River in Vietnam. As a helicopter pilot, I also flew 269 combat missions and my aircraft was hit by enemy ground fire on occasions. So my views represent a patriot’s belief that America is better than this. If I were a young man, I would fight and perhaps give my life for Syria, because I believe their cause is just. I would fight to defend, not only my Christian brothers and sisters, but all good Syrians of every faith. Each night, I pray to Our Savior, Jesus Christ, for an end to foreign intervention in Syria.  I pray for the Syrian soldiers and all of their allies, that they will be victorious and liberate Syria. I pray for the courageous Russians, that they will return safely from each heroic mission. My heart breaks for the women and children held as slaves because of American covert actions. I cannot believe that we have become complicit in reestablishing slavery in the Middle East. I am deeply saddened when I see the terrorists we support conduct mass execution s of helpless captives, and when I see men crucified or burned or drowned by those whom we support. But I would also say this. Every day, more Americans and westerners come to realize how despicable our Syrian policies have been. People are asking for peace in Syria. Many Americans are grateful that Russia and Iran have rushed support to Syria in its time of need. I will stand up for Syria and will never abandon you whether you are a free Syrian under government protection, or whether you are enslaved by the terrorists. I believe that Syria will be free once again. And the heroism of those who defended your nation will live on in history for generations yet to come. Who could have ever imagined that a small nation like Syria would stand with such courage against such massive evil? It can only be through God’s grace that this could happen. And I salute every one of you, as I cry out for your suffering people.

Q) A last questions for You, Senator. Could You share with us Your opinion about the recent terrible slaughter in Paris by Islamic terrorists? What can we do to stop such things?

A) The attacks on Paris were tragic, and President Hollande has blamed those attacks on ISIS.  However, I also blame President Hollande for helping to create ISIS in the first place. When France, Great Britain and the U.S. joined the Arab despots in starting the Syrian uprising, they knew they were unleashing terror on the Syrian people. Did they imagine that terror could be contained? I have been to Paris several times, and I am very fond of the French. So I was saddened and angered by the loss of French lives. But I would suggest that the French focus some of their rage on their own government, which has betrayed all decent people by arming these savage terrorists in Syria. I would turn my anger on the EU and the French government for inviting thousands of potential terrorists to freely enter Europe, where they can slaughter families from every member nation of the European Union. We know that at least one of the killers just arrived from Syria and another from Egypt. I have heard estimates that 30% of the so-called immigrants are ISIS or ISIS sympathizers. Aren’t terrorist attacks inevitable when terrorists are being waved into Europe daily? Isn’t it an act of treason to invite people who despise you into your country? People must reject the evil that permeates our capitals and find new leaders–patriots who will defend their nations and stop unleashing terrorism upon the world.  Dissolve the EU and NATO if that is what it takes.  But somehow, make it end.

We thanks Senator Black for sharing with us his views about the Syrian conflict and we hope that his words could be useful to put an end to the war.

Costantino Ceoldo – PRAVDA.Ru Freelance writer

Turkish parties, associations, people hold Erdogan responsible for the terrorist explosion of Suruc

Turkey Holds Security Talks after Blast amid Anger over Anakra’s Policy

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will chair a cabinet meeting Wednesday on bolstering security along the country’s porous border after a devastating bombing blamed on the Takfiri group, ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and Levant).

Thirty-two people were killed and more than 100 wounded on Monday when a blast ripped through a gathering of young socialist activists preparing to take aid over the border into the flashpoint Syrian town of Kobani.

Turkey blastAuthorities said Tuesday they had identified a suspect in the suicide bombing in the town of Suruc, in a mainly Kurdish region on the Syrian border, the first attack on Turkish soil that the government has blamed directly on ISIL militants.

In harrowing scenes earlier in the day, relatives of the dead clutched the victims’ coffins in a farewell ceremony in the southeastern city of Gaziantep ahead of their burial in towns across Turkey.

The killings prompted angry demonstrations by pro-Kurdish activists in several towns, who took to the streets to condemn the attack and protest against Ankara’s policy in war-torn neighboring Syria.

Turkey has long been accused of not doing enough to halt the rise of ISIL, and even colluding with the group, media reports say.

In Istanbul, police fired tear gas and water cannons at a crowd of some 800 people that had gathered chanting anti-government slogans, including: “Murderer state will be brought to account.” Demonstrations also took place in the predominantly Kurdish town of Nusaybin on the border with Syria.

Speaking during a visit to Sanliurfa, the hub of the region where Suruc is located, Prime Minister Davutoglu said there was a “high probability” the suicide bomber had connections to ISIL, without giving further details.

“One suspect has been identified. All the (suspect’s) links internationally and domestically are being investigated,” Davutoglu said, vowing to do “whatever is necessary against whomever is responsible”.

“We expect this investigation to be concluded as soon as possible,” he said, after visiting the 29 wounded still in hospital. “This is an attack that targeted Turkey.”

Source: AFP

22-07-2015 – 09:36 Last updated 22-07-2015 – 09:36

~

Turkish parties, associations, people hold Erdogan responsible for the terrorist explosion of Suruc

Ankara, 21/7/2015 ~ Turkish parties, associations and people expressed, in demonstrations, statements and conferences, anger over the terrorist explosion that hit southern Turkish town of Suruc, holding Butcher Erdogan and his regime responsible for the bombing.

Suruc

On Monday, at least 3o people were killed in a terrorist bombing during a meeting of young activists to discuss the reconstruction of the Syrian city of Ain Al-Arab and to express solidarity with it in the face of the Takfiri terrorism.

sana.sy_115

 Republican People’s Party (CHP) Vice Chairman Veli Agbaba stressed that the terrorist bombing, which rocked Suruc town to the southeast of Turkey Monday, is the result of policies adopted by the regime of Erdogan and the Justice and Development Party “AKP” and of the dangerous acts of the Turkish intelligence in Syria.
The bombing proved dangers of the foreign policy adopted by AKP government and Turkish intelligence which has become no longer a national intelligence, but rather a personal one that serves only Erdogan, Agbaba said in a press conference with the CHP Deputy Chairman Sezgin Tanrikulu after inspecting the site of the bombing.
 For his part, former Turkish foreign minister in the AKP government Yasar Yakis affirmed that the “Turkish outrageous interference” in the Syrian affairs is one of the main reasons behind the terrorist bombing in Suruc town.
In an interview with CNN Turk, Yakis referred to the support which has been provided by the regime in Turkey to the terrorist organizations in Syria since the beginning of the crisis.

Meanwhile, The Socialist Youth Associations Federation (SGDF) stressed the responsibility of the AKP and the Turkish intelligence for the terrorist bombing of Suruc.

 Turkish Yurt newspaper quoted SGDF as saying in a statement that “The AKP and the Turkish intelligence carried out the terrorist bombing in cooperation with ISIS terrorist organization.”
In the same context, Erdogan’s security forces quelled massive demonstrations in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Diyarbakir and other Turkish provinces and cities that took to the streets on Monday evening in condemnation of the terrorist bombing in Suruc town and of the policies adopted by Erdogan and the AKP which support terrorist organizations including ISIS in Syria, the region and now in Turkey.
The participants in the demonstrations, who represented various Turkish parties and organizations, affirmed that Erdogan’s regime and his party are responsible for all the terrorist crimes witnessed in Syria, the region and now in Turkey, calling upon the Turkish people to stand in the face of Erdogan’s policies.

~

SOURCES:
Syrian Agency, RG/Barry
Submitted by SyrianPatriots
The real SyrianFreePress.NETwork at:
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/erdogan-suruc/

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AL-HASAKAH UNDER ATTACK;DER’AH TERRORIST ASSAULT FLOPS BIG TIME!!

armyAL-HASAKA:  Last night, the ISIS terrorist cannibals were able to penetrate the southwest quarters of Al-Nashwa/Rusaafa in Al-Hasakah City.   Once again, the tactic of choice was to have infantry behind a suicide truck which, in addition to blowing the driver into oblivion, opens a hole in the defenses.  In this case, the defenders were local tribal units loyal to the Syrian State and elements of Internal Security.  They were not prepared.  The attack itself came from an unusual location indicating that the SAA-MI was not concerned about an assault from the southwest.  The Syrian Army is now taking steps to reorient its defenses and surround the rodents with new forces.  My source tells me that the attack is not extremely threatening, however, Ba’ath Party sources claim that the ISIS rodents are deliberately hiding behind civilians – in other words, using civilians as a shield.  This may impede the SAA’s ability to deploy heavy artillery and, thus, give the appearance that ISIS can still strike whenever and wherever it pleases.  We will keep you informed.

_____________________________________________________________

AL-RAQQA:

Is there any method to the madness of ISIS?  Reports are coming in about ISIS sending foreign terrorists and their families back to northern Aleppo.  This is particularly baffling because ISIS is abandoning positions in northern Aleppo and redeploying forces to defend Al-Raqqa.  But, then, we also hear about an attack on Al-Hasakah with rats they cannot easily spare.  It is conceivable that the attack on Al-Hasakah was to prevent the SAA from joining up with Kurdish forces who are on the verge of surrounding Al-Raqqa after several victories in the countryside.  The force sent to Al-Hasakah appears to be weak, yet, capable enough of creating sufficient mayhem to tie down forces which were prepared to move to Al-Raqqa and Tabqa to support the PKK.  Note, the Turks have not changed since the election: the renewed attack on Kobane came from Turkey.  Make no mistake about it.  Erdoghan is committed to insuring his seat at the International Criminal Court.

June 24, 2015: An ISIS convoy of 9 trucks heading out for Palmyra from Al—Raqqa was met by the Syrian Air Force which completely annihilated the convoy killing over 60 rats in the process based on aerial assessment and intercepted communications.  The convoy was hit in two sorties.  Only one name has been revealed from the mostly foreign rodents:

‘Abdul-‘Azeez Al-Yaaseen 

ISIS has been losing rats and territory in record numbers.  Don’t let the propagandists fool you.  Both the Syrian and Iraqi fronts are slowly chiseling away at the ISIS empire of ignorance.  With the loss of the oil and gas fields west of Palmyra, ISIS leaders must be hurriedly plotting some kind of come-back to reinstate their former economic muscle.  Without money, they will lose the loyalty of their mercenaries.  It is this aspect of the war which needs more study.

______________________________________________________________

DER’AH:  The Jaysh Al-Fath has opened up a new front in Der’ah in order to capture the provincial capital.  I have excellent sources in Der’ah because Monzer is tightly linked to that front and the front in Qunaytra.   We are seeing elements of Ahraar Al-Shaam and Nusra/Alqaeda fighting together here.  SAA-MI confirms that all orders being issued are coming from the traitor regime of ‘Abdullah bin Antoinette Avril Gardiner in ‘Amman who is running some kind of carnival sideshow with the most malicious terrorist supporters from the United States, Britain and France barking them out into cellphones.

The attack has failed!  As of 3:00 p.m. Damascus time, the combined SAA, SAAF, PDC, Ba’ath Party militias and local fighters who volunteered to fight for their country, has blunted the largest assault ever on the city of Der’ah.  As of now, we can tell you, based on reports from Damascus, that hundreds of rats have been killed or wounded and that this can be confirmed by the logjam at the borders with Jordan where screaming rodents beg for immediate veterinary attention.

image: http://www.jpnews-sy.com/ar/images/news/big/89082.jpg

بعد تطويقه مدينة تدمر.. الجيش العربي السوري يسعى لتأمين حمصThe whole point of the assault was to take control of Khirbat Ghazaala as a prelude to the assault on Der’ah City.  The plan was to use 6 separate suicide truck attacks to decimate the SAA’s strongpoints in the Der’ah countryside.  The rats were equipped with 30 refurbished T-62 tanks, 40 missile launchers including LAV rockets from the Zionist Settler State deployed by 1,500 rodents from Jordan.  The SAA had been watching and listening for this attack.  Without so much as a hint, the SAAF took to the air and began scouring the area for any evidence of terrorist rat concentrations.  Once the SAAF detected such groupings, the order was to annihilate them.  In the meantime, in complete coordination, the SAA’s Special Forces were sent to the front to search out rodents who were carrying American-made TOW rocket launchers, MANPADS and French-made Milan anti-tank rockets.  The SAA-SF forces also carried Kornet rockets.  With the SAAF and SAA searching out the rats’s best equipment, the result was a no-brainer.  The frontal attack using 6 suicide truck bombers came a cropper.  All the trucks were identified and destroyed including several armored cars, cannons, vans.

 

Al-Yaadoodaa:  SAAF destroyed a nest of vultures killing a confirmed 28 rodents, some of whom were apparently leaders of Nusra.

 

Al-Yaadoodaa Road:  33 confirmed dead rodents belonging to Nusra/Alqaeda were killed by the SAAF.

Sayf Al-Khaleefa Jabaara

‘Adnaan ‘Abdul-Mu’ti Al-Shaadin

‘Umar Sa’eed Khalloof

The rest were all foreigners.  An assessment at the scene was completed by security services.

image: http://jpnews-sy.com/ar/images/news/big/89117.jpg

الجيش السوري يصدّ هجوماً كبيراً على مدينة درعا.. وقتلى المجموعات الإرهابية بالعشرات Al-Nu’ayma:  SAAF has done it again.  At an ad hoc meeting of rat leaders, where a homer device was place very conveniently outside the villa, the SAAF struck paydirt by killing every single one.  I have no other details.

 

image: http://sana.sy/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/army-tanker1.jpg

army-tankerHere are some of the names of the rats killed in Al-Nu’ayma as confirmed by the rats themselves on their rat websites:

Mish’al Farhaan Al-Zu’bi

Ahmad ‘Issaa Zurayqaat

Ahmad Khaalid Abu Al-Hawaash

Muhammad Kaamil Al-Daaghir

Bakr ‘Umar Al-Mahaawish

Muhammad Rasmi Al-‘Abbood
Read more at http://www.syrianperspective.com/2015/06/al-hasakah-under-attackderah-terrorist-assault-flops-big-time.html#PDbMSPx25ritwFGa.99

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What the Kurdish minority’s parliamentary triumph means for Turkey

Posted on June 8, 2015 by 

The HDP’s Victory is a Barrier against Autocracy in Turkey
The HDP’s Victory is a Barrier against Autocracy in TurkeyFor the first time, a pro-Kurdish party has entered into the Turkish parliament, throwing a spanner in the works of Erdoğan’s autocratic ambitions.

Joris Leverink
RoarMag

Turkey must be one of the few countries in the world where the supporters of the smallest party in parliament celebrate as if they are the masters of the universe.

On Sunday evening, when the results of the parliamentary elections started coming in, it didn’t take long for the people to realize that the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) had successfully passed the 10 percent electoral threshold. HDP supporters took to the streets to join the spontaneous celebrations that erupted in many places, dancing the halay, waving Kurdish flags, honking car horns and shouting slogans like “We are the HDP, we’re going to parliament!”

The euphoric mood among HDP voters and sympathizers stemmed from the fact that the party’s electoral victory marked the first time in Turkish history that a pro-Kurdish party has entered into parliament. The icing on the cake of the HDP’s success was the realization that most of the seats that from now on will be occupied by the HDP’s representatives formerly belonged to the ruling AKP, which lost its majority in parliament for the first time in their thirteen years in power.

Gambling

The election campaign was marked by violence, in particular directed at the HDP. Election offices were bombed, campaign vans were attacked and several people lost their lives or were severely injured when angry, nationalist mobs turned on the party’s campaigners. The biggest shock came when, just days before the elections, two bombs exploded at a HDP rally in Diyarbakir, the largest city in southeastern Turkey, killing two and injuring hundreds. Despite all this, the HDP’s co-leader Selahattin Demirtas continued to call for calm, tweeting soon after the bomb attacks that “peace will win.”

Although none of the attacks have been directly linked to any government figures, many here do not hesitate to place the responsibility for the violence firmly at the AKP’s doorstep. The party’s founder and current president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan actively engaged with the election campaign in support of his party, even though his role as president legally forbade him to do so.

Erdoğan’s aggressive rhetoric directed against the opposition — calling other party’s representatives “traitors”, “terrorists” and “atheists” — along with his unwavering support for the police and judiciary in their repression of any form of democratic dissent, and his personal lashing out against anyone who dared to oppose him created a climate of fear in which hatred and violence flourished.

Both for the HDP and the AKP the elections were a zero-sum game. The HDP’s decision to run as a party, and not with independent candidates as the pro-Kurdish parties had done so far, meant that if they failed to pass the 10 percent threshold they would end up with no representation in parliament at all. For the AKP, it was key to gain a three-fifths majority in order to be able to single-handedly change the constitution so as to introduce a presidential system that would transfer significant powers to Erdoğan’s currently symbolic function.

At the same time, the high 10 percent threshold meant that if the HDP managed to get into parliament, they would do so in such high numbers that Erdoğan’s plans for an autocratic presidential system would be ruled out a priori. The AKP would have had to rely on the other opposition parties, but both the Republican and the Nationalist parties had previously expressed their fundamental opposition to the proposed constitutional reforms. In the end, HDP co-leader Demirtas gambled and won — while Erdogan gambled and lost.

Minority groups

The success of the HDP was not only based on its support from Turkey’s Kurdish population, but also from other social, ethnic and religious minority groups that had been increasingly marginalized under the AKP’s thirteen-year rule.

The HDP upholds a forty percent gender quota and has introduced a system of co-leadership of one man and one woman at all the different levels of organization, thus drawing a lot of support from feminist groups and from women in general. The party openly recognizes the Armenian genocide, fights for the rights of LGBT individuals, promotes the use of minority languages and has a political program stressing the need for decentralization, horizontal democracy and local autonomy. Its pluralist program catered to the needs of a wide range of people, and certainly not exclusively the Kurds.

Two important events in the past years exposed the authoritarian turn of the AKP after coming to power on an agenda of hope and unity in the early 2000s. The countrywide Gezi protests, which shook the foundations of Turkey’s political landscape in the summer of 2013, and the government’s uncompromising stance towards the people’s demands for more freedom and democracy opened the eyes of many people to the increasingly autocratic state Turkey had become.

Supposedly depoliticized youths of the so-called ‘Generation Y’ took to the streets in their millions, and although the mass protests soon died in the face of ultra-violent police repression, the so-called ‘Gezi spirit‘ had planted the seeds of change in people’s minds. The HDP’s victory can be seen, at least partly, as a fruit of these events.

The second event that played an important role in the HDP’s rise was the battle for Kobani and the government’s steadfast refusal to come to the aid of the besieged Kurds across the border in Syria when they were under attack from ISIS. For many Kurds who had previously been staunch supporters of the AKP — either due to their religious backgrounds or because of the AKP’s (superfluous) efforts to make peace with the PKK — the Kobani crisis exposed the fact that, despite all the grand rhetoric about brotherhood and solidarity, the Kurds were still perceived as the enemy, the Other, and — in Erdogan’s own words — as “worse than the ISIS terrorists.”

In its dealing with the siege of Kobani, the AKP government lost the support from many religious and conservative Kurds who have since turned and joined the growing ranks of HDP supporters.

Real change ahead?

In the end, the HDP secured 13 percent of the vote, allowing them to occupy 80 seats in the 550-seat parliament. This has been justly claimed as a great victory, and not just because it marks the first time a pro-Kurdish party managed to break down the barrier that had been erected in the wake of the 1980 military coup, for the exact purpose of keeping the Kurds out of parliament.

The HDP will bring with it members of the Armenian, Roma, Aramean and Yezidi minority groups, as well as the first openly gay MP in Turkish history. It will also raise the number of women in parliament to unprecedented heights (96), and, perhaps most importantly, it has leveled the playing field of Turkish politics, bringing an end to more than a decade of one-party rule while curbing Erdoğan’s aspirations to become the single most powerful force in the Turkish political arena.

But where the HDP’s victory is rightfully celebrated as an important step forward for the country, it is important to note that the struggle is far from over. The battle has been won, but the war continues.

The party’s election manifesto — which promises, among many other things, to “realize democratic autonomy”, “establish democratic models of decentralization” and to provide a solution to the Kurdish question by “building a democratic Turkey” — reads like a blueprint for a utopian society in which justice, democracy and solidarity are the guiding principles. The harsh reality is that it is very unlikely that the party will ever become part of a ruling coalition, meaning its possibilities to bring about actual change in Turkey are limited.

The power of the HDP lies in, and stems from, its close connections to the movements on the streets (and in the parks, the mountains, the squats and the squares). It was grassroots campaigning, close contacts with the electorate and a great number of candidates who have a history of activism that inspired faith among people that the HDP could actually be an alternative to the established powers.

However, parliamentary representation should not be seen as the end goal, but rather as a means to create a space in which it is possible for the real facilitators of social change — neighborhood committees, social movements, self-organized workers, grassroots political groups, and so on — to grow, flourish, experiment and build a society in which the idea of parliamentary elections will sound as quaint and unimaginable as a confederation of self-governing communities does today.

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War, Imperialism and the People’s Struggle in the Middle East

Posted on June 3, 2015 by Alexandra Valiente

United States continues its occupation of the region

Author’s Comment: This paper was presented at the Left Forum held at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York (CUNY) during May 29-31, 2015. The panel was chaired by Bill Dores of the International Action Center. Kazem Azin of Solidarity Iran was also a participant.

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Syria 360°Since March 26 the Saudi Arabian monarchy along with its neighbors in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has been waging war on the nation of Yemen. Daily bombing raids against residential areas and infrastructure are ostensibly designed to push back the Ansurallah (Houthis) movement which has taken over large sections of the country, one of the most underdeveloped in the region.

This war has been largely hidden from the view of people inside the United States. Nonetheless, this is a U.S. war aimed at maintaining Washington’s dominant position within the Arabian Peninsula extending to the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Aden.

Prior to the beginning of the airstrikes by the Saudi-GCC Coalition, the administration of President Barack Obama withdrew its diplomatic personnel along with Special Forces operating inside the country. For many years the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has viewed Yemen as a key area for its so-called “war on terrorism.”

Regular drone strikes have killed many Yemenis along with at least three of whom were U.S. citizens. Washington has said that the Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is major threat to American interests in an attempt to justify the drone attacks which have killed more civilians than supposed “armed combatants.”

However, in recent months the Islamic Republic of Iran has been designated by Washington and its allies as the principal threat in Yemen. The Ansurallah, which is a Shiite branch of Islam, is supported politically by Tehran. The Saudi monarchy views Iran as its major impediment in controlling the region on behalf of U.S. oil and financial interests.

The current hostilities in Yemen have been described as a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and the GCC on one side and Iran and its allies on the other. The total war strategy against Yemen consists of the banning of humanitarian assistance from Iran and others who oppose the bombing and ground offensive by militias which are financed by Riyadh.

According to an article published by the Telegraph in Britain, it says that “As Saudi Arabia has maintained an air and naval blockade on Yemeni territory, gas supplies have run perilously low. Even a five day humanitarian pause was not enough to bring in the necessary aid. Fuel prices have spiked as the casualty count mounts, and some hospitals have been forced to close altogether because they are unable to keep medical supplies refrigerated or perform operations since they can’t run backup generators.”

Reports of the number of Yemenis killed in the fighting range from 2,000-4,000 with many more injured and displaced. Yemeni-Americans who have been attempting to leave the country since late March have been abandoned by Washington.

Many Yeminis have taken refuge across the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden into Djibouti where the U.S. has its largest military base in Africa. The U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) is expanding its operations at Camp Lemonnier which is utilized as a staging ground for military strikes inside Somalia and other countries on the continent.

This same above-mentioned Telegraph article also notes that “The UNHCR says a total of 5,000 Yemeni refugees have made it to Djibouti, including 3,000 in the capital, Djibouti city, and 1,000 in Obock, 300 kilometers (187 miles) to the north — making it currently the biggest Yemeni refugee population. The influx has hiked up local prices, with markets, hotels, and drivers trying to make the most of the situation in an already struggling economy.”

Yemen and the Imperialist Regional War

The war in Yemen is part and parcel of a broader regional war that encompasses Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, occupied Palestine and Iran. In Iraq where the U.S. occupied the country for over eight years, the Pentagon has redeployed 3,100 troops to the area. These troops are purportedly training Iraqi military forces although the Defense Department cannot claim any real successes.

When Islamic State fighters confronted Iraqi units in Mosul and other cities they fled. A similar situation was reported in Ramadi in Anbar Province. The Obama administration played down these events in order to deflect the attention of the U.S. public away from its failures in Iraq.

The Kurdish fighters seem to have fought with far greater commitment and vigor yet they are not privy to the military assistance in their struggle against IS. Fierce battles in Kobane on the border with Turkey revealed that the Kurds were a force to be reckoned with in the regional war against IS.

In neighboring Syria, the U.S. is behind efforts to destabilize and overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Since 2011, an estimated 200,000 people have died and several million dislocated both inside and outside of Syria.

The U.S. is bombing both Iraq and Syria under the guise of degrading and destroying IS bases. However, the impact of this aerial war is to create broader avenues of operation for the IS forces which were built up during the initial years of the destabilization campaign against Syria. At present IS military units have seized large areas of territory within Syria and Iraq, while the strategy of the White House is to continue the bombing targeting Daesh but at the same time opposing the continued existence of the Assad government in Damascus.

A massive air assault on Syria was planned for August-September 2013. However, public outrage in Britain and the U.S. stopped the president in his tracks. The effect of recent wars waged by Washington through successive administrations has resulted in greater instability and dislocation.

In Lebanon Hezbollah has maintained its strength against the Zionist regime occupying Palestine. The party and mass movement have also intervened in solidarity with the people of Syria and may escalate its involvement based upon developments taking place inside the country.

The plight of Palestinians has been negatively impacted by the wars in Syria and Iraq. In Syria, many Palestinian refugees were divided over support for the Assad government. A major camp housing Palestinians has been the focal point of IS attacks seeking to gain control of the area.

Israel is supported to the tune of billions every year from the tax dollars of the American people. U.S. warplanes and other defense technology are given to Tel Aviv where it is tested against the people of Gaza and other occupied territories.

Although the U.S. administration has signed an agreement on Iran nuclear energy program, the Obama White House is continuing the 36 years of hostility towards Tehran since the popular revolution of 1979. Washington’s coordination of the Saudi-GCC war in Yemen is a clear testament to the ongoing war against Iran.

Africa and the Middle East

As we mentioned earlier, Djibouti, the pivotal staging ground for AFRICOM on the continent is located right across from Yemen. Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt and Kenya are in close proximity. The artificial divisions between Africa and the so-called Middle East are merely constructs of colonialism and imperialism for the purpose dividing the regions in regard to spheres of influence for western powers.

Peoples who reside on either side of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden fundamentally want the U.S. out of their countries. They desire to live in peace and to determine their own destiny in the quest for development and unity. Washington and Wall Street dominate through their military prowess and economic machinations that bribe leaders making them dependent upon U.S. and European patronage and privilege.

The fueled hostility between various branches of Islam is indispensable in the imperialist strategy for the Middle East and Africa. Only when the peoples of Africa and the Middle East unite on an anti-imperialist basis will there be a genuine atmosphere of lasting peace and social stability.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

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Human Rights Watch FAIL: Uses Photo of American Bombing Destruction To Condemn Assad

Via Syria Solidarity Movement

Tim Anderson graphic

Mar 9, 2015, Activist Post

Putting its hypocritical and biased nature on full display once again, the alleged human rights organization, Human Rights Watch, was recently caught in an attempt to fabricate “evidence” of Assad’s use of barrel bombs in civilian areas for the purposes of further demonizing the secular Syrian government.

On February 25, HRW posted a photo of a devastated civilian area in Syria with the tagline “Syria dropped barrel bombs despite ban.” The “ban” HRW is referring to is the ban on bombing civilian areas that applies to both sides in Aleppo after the United Nations stepped in to save the Western-backed terrorists from annihilation. Assad’s forces had surrounded the city and had cut off a major supply route for the death squads from Turkey thus making the ultimate elimination of the jihadist forces a virtual inevitability.

Human Rights Watch said Tuesday that the Syrian government had dropped so-called barrel bombs on hundreds of sites in rebel-held towns and cities in the past year, flouting a United Nations Security Council measure.

In a report released Tuesday, the group said it relied on satellite images, photos, videos and witness statements to conclude that the Syrian government had bombarded at least 450 sites in and around the southern town of Daraa and at least 1,000 sites in Aleppo in the north.

The report focused on the period since Feb. 22, 2014, when the Security Council specifically condemned the use of barrel bombs, which are large containers filled with explosives and projectiles that can indiscriminately hurt civilians and are prohibited under international law.

There was only one problem with HRW’s tweet – the photograph the organization provided was not Aleppo.

In fact, the damage that had been wrought upon the civilian area in the photograph was not committed by the Syrian military but by the United States.

The photo was actually a picture of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab), the city which has been the site of heavy US aerial bombardment over the last several months as the US engages in its program of death squad herding and geographical reformation of sovereign Syrian and Iraqi territory.

But, while HRW was content to use the destruction of the city as a reason to condemn the Assad government and continue to promote the cause for US military action in Syria, the “human rights organization” was apparently much less interested in the exact same destruction wrought by US forces.

In other words, if Assad’s forces bomb a civilian area into the stone age, it is an atrocity, a war crime, and justification for international military involvement. If the United States bombs a civilian area into the stone age, it’s no biggie.

Partially funded by George Soros, Human Rights Watch has repeatedly shilled for NATO and America’s imperialist aims, particularly in Syria.

For instance, when Western media propaganda had reached a crescendo regarding the outright lie that Assad had used chemical weapons against his own people, HRW stood right beside Barack Obama and John Kerry in their effort to prove Assad’s guilt. HRW even went so far as to repeat the lie that the UN report suggested that Assad was the offending party, driving the final nail into the coffin of any credibility HRW may have had.

When a last-minute chemical weapons deal was secured by Russia in an effort to avoid yet another US/NATO invasion of Syria, HRW did not rejoice for the opportunity of peaceful destruction of chemical weapons and a chance to avoid war, it attacked the deal by claiming that it “failed to ensure justice.” Of course, the deal did fail to ensure justice. There were no provisions demanding punishment of the death squads who actually used the weapons or the US/NATO apparatus that initiated and controlled the jihadist invasion to begin with.

Regardless, when Mother Agnes Mariam of the Cross released her report that refuted what the US/NATO was asserting in regards to chemical weapons in Syria, HRW embarked upon a campaign of attack against her and her work.

Even as far back as 2009, however, HRW was showing its true colors when it apparently signed off on and supported renditions – the process of kidnapping individuals off the street without any due process and “rendering” them to jails and prisons in other countries where they are often tortured – in secret talks with the Obama administration.

If HRW ever had any credibility in terms of the question of actual human rights, then all of that credibility has assuredly been lost. HRW is nothing more than a pro-US, pro-NATO NGO that acts as a smokescreen for the continuation of the violation of human rights across the world – that is, unless those violations are committed by America’s enemies.

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Turkey Detains Kobani Hero while Treating ISIS commander in hospital

SYRIA 360°

Esra Yakar, a 5th-grade student at the Medical School of Dicle University in Diyarbakir, went to the Kurdish province of Kobani a few months ago as a volunteer doctor to help treat Kurds wounded in the fighting with ISIS militants.

In December 2014, she suffered heavy wounds to her head and right eye during an attack by ISIS.

The Turkish Medical Association reported she was taken to Turkey for better treatment but Yakar was shuffled between various hospitals and her referral to a hospital for advanced examination and treatment was delayed. In the meantime, she lost her right eye.

After Yakar was finally taken to a hospital in Ankara, the prosecutors in Diyarbakir launched an investigation against her. And while still under medical treatment, she was arrested and jailed in the Sincan prison in Ankara for being a “terrorist”.

Meanwhile, reports on social media suggest Emrah Cakan, a Turkish-born ISIS commander wounded in Kobani, has been getting medical treatment at the university hospital in the province of Denizli in Turkey since 28 February.

Orhan Cicek, head of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) of Denizli, said Cakan’s relatives confirmed he has been an ISIS member for six months.

That a Kurdish doctor wounded by ISIS in Kobani was deprived of health services, and then arrested on spurious charges, while an ISIS commander is safely treated in hospital, is a manifestation of the injustice of the Turkish legal and political system against Kurdish people – and supporting terrorism.

alalam.ir

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

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