SYRIAN WAR REPORT – DECEMBER 11, 2019: TURKISH PROXIES SEEK TO CAPTURE CHUNKS OF M4 HIGHWAY

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On December 10, the military situation escalated in northern Lattakia and the surrounding area. According  to pro-government sources, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and allied militant groups conducted attacked and shelled several positions of the Syrian Army near the M4 highway and south of the town of Kbani.

In response, Syrian air forces and artillery units conducted strikes on militants’ positions near Jisr al-Shoughur, al-Janoudiya, and at a contact line near the M4 highway and Kbani. Pro-militant sources immediately described these strikes as an example of blatant aggression and ceasefire violations by the Assad regime.

Pro-Turkish sources reported that units affiliated with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces shelled positions of Turkish-backed militant groups near the city of Afrin.

In the province of Raqqa, Turkish-led forces once again seized the Shirlrak silos located on the M4 highway, east of Ayn Issa. Earlier this month, Turkish proxies withdrew from the area under the agreement between Aknara and Moscow. The control over Shirlrak allows pro-Turkish groups to rob civilians that use the highway. If they remain there, the Shirlrak silos will likely become a new point of tensions soon.

Meanwhile, Russian President’s Special Envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev said that Turkey and Russia had agreed to not expand the northeastern Syria safe zone. Therefore, attempts by Turkish-led forces to seize more areas along the M4 highway is an open violation of the ceasefire agreement.

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IN VIDEO: DOZENS OF TRUCKS LOADED WITH U.S. MILITARY EQUIPMENT LEAVE SYRIA

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At least 55 trucks of the U.S.-led coalition withdrew from northeast Syria on November 2 to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region through the al-Walid border crossing, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).

The state-run agency released a video showing some of the trucks on their way to the border crossing. The trucks were loaded with armored vehicles and equipment of the U.S. military.

Two days earlier, more than 80 empty trucks working for U.S. forces entered Syria from Iraq and headed towards Sarrin airstrip in eastern Aleppo. The trucks were apparently brought to participate in the base evacaution.

Despite the withdrawal from most of their bases in Aleppo and Raqqa, U.S. forces are reportedly working to establish new bases and military posts in the provinces of al-Hasakah and Deir Ezzor.

The deployment of U.S. forces in oil rich areas in northeast Syria is a part of Washington’s ‘oil securing’ policy in the war-torn country. The US aims to control major oil fields in order to block the Damascus government from reaching them.

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SYRIAN WAR REPORT – OCTOBER 17, 2019: SYRIAN ARMY ENTERING KOBANI AND RAQQA

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On October 16, units of the Syrian Army entered the city of Raqqah for the first time since 2014. The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has controlled the city since 2017, when they with help from the United States seized it from ISIS. The Syrian Army reportedly established several observation posts in the area and continued deployment within the SDF-held area.

According to pro-government sources, government troops are also preparing to enter the Omar oil fields. A day earlier, on October 15, Syrian troops and Russian Military Police units started patrolling the contact line between Turkish-backed forces and the SDF near Manbij.

On October 16, US-led coalition forces withdrew from the Kharab Ashk military base where dozens of US and French troops had been deployed. US-led forces burned the base in order to destroy equipment that they were not able to evacuate.

The Turkish Army and Turkish-backed militants are developing their offensive on SDF positions. They captured thirteen villages west of Tell Abyad and made another attempt to secure Ras al-Ayn. According to pro-SDF sources, 49 Turkish-backed militants were killed in an SDF counter-attack in the town. SDF units employed US-supplied military equipment. Pro-Turkish militants captured a Humvee armored vehicle near the town.

There are also reports that the SDF and the Syrian Army jointly recaptured the villages of al-Ahras, al-Rihaniyah and Manajir from Turkish-led forces south of Ras al-Ayn. Nonetheless, this was a tactical development involving Turkish proxies only. It is not likely that government forces and the SDF will carry out large-scale joint operations attacking positions of the Turkish Army. The main reason is that such an attack may lead to a large-scale escalation in the region and even a limited open conflict between Syria and Turkey.

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Media Yells “Cut!” When Trump Forgets His Lines and Says Something Anti-War

Trump Media Feature photo

Source

When it comes to substantive issues thatthe elite all agree on (such as foreign policy), there is little to no pushback against the president, excepting when he utters statements that are read as critical of war and militarism.

Trump has greatly expanded the U.S. role in the Middle East, announcing his intention to supply Saudi Arabia with over $100 billion in new arms and reversing previous decisions stopping the sale of laser-guided bombs that have reduced Yemen to rubble. He also vetoed a bipartisan resolution aimed at ending the U.S. role in a near genocide that threatens to kill nearly 24 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations. Trump also made the decision to drop the MOAB — the Mother of All Bombs, the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used — on Afghanistan in 2017 (to applause from the media).

He also continuously threatens enemy states with nuclear annihilation (in gross violation of the UN charter). In 2017 he told North Korea that he would “totally destroy” the country with “fire and fury” while earlier this year he promised Iran that he would bring about “the official end” if it crossed America’s path.

Trump has also conducted a worldwide campaign of economic war against the U.S.’ official enemies, increasing devastating sanctions against the people of Russia, North Korea, Iran, and Nicaragua. And Trump’s sanctions against Venezuela have killed at least 40,000 people since 2017, according to a report from the Washington-based Center for Economic Policy Research. The United Nations notes that the sanctions are designed to hit the poor and most vulnerable, with an (American) Special Rapporteur who visited the country likening them to a medieval siege and describing them as a “crime against humanity”.

While many portrayed Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, as the real architect of the violence, the president revealed that Bolton was actually a moderating voice on Cuba and Venezuela, while he [Trump] favored even more direct action.

 

An anti-war war hawk?

That is why Trump’s recent statements on the Middle East were all the more surprising. Defending his surprise decision to withdraw from fighting in Syria, he argued that the U.S. “should never have been in the Middle East in the first place,” claiming “The stupid endless wars, for us, are ending!”

But the president went even further, offering a serious analysis of the costs of America’s overseas operations. “The United States has spent eight trillion dollars” on war in the region, he declared on Twitter; “Going into the Middle East is the worst decision ever made in the history of our country. We went to war under a false & now disproven premise, weapons of mass destruction. There were none!”

What was most shocking of all in this uncharacteristic bout of honesty was that Trump discussed the human cost of war, something rarely mentioned in corporate media. “Thousands of our Great Soldiers have died or been badly wounded. Millions of people have died on the other side,” he added.

His comments elicited a storm of outrage on social media from the professional liberal “resistance,” apparently more angry that he said the quiet part loud than about the millions of dead people. Political satirist Jeremy Newberger claimed he had been brainwashed by Turkish President Recep Erdogan, and asked him “did you consider putting a big bow on Syria when you decided to gift it to Putin?” Meanwhile, former British Member of Parliament turned professional #Resistance grafter Louise Mensch slammed the president: “TRAITOR! The women of the YPG are DYING at your hands as YOU let ISIS take Raqqa! You SURRENDERED TO RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM!” she responded, in an eclectic mix of capitalized and non-capitalized words.

Liberal-skewing media was barely any slower in lining up shoulder to shoulder with traditional conservatives in opposing Trump’s anti-war intimations, giving pro-war criticisms of Trump from prominent Republicans like Lindsay Graham, Nikki Haley and Liz Cheney full coverage.

NPR, CNN and the New York Times all dedicated significant resources to reporting the condemnations of Trump’s tweets, the latter’s editorial board asking “Does Donald Trump [even] know what his Syria policy is?” The Washington Post claimed that Pentagon officials were “struggling” to explain Trump’s “abandonment of the Kurds and kowtowing to Turkey,” claiming national security aides were mobilizing to “repair the damage” Trump caused. An MSNBC segment headlined “Donald Trump betrays American allies” insinuated that Trump’s decision to pull away from Syria was due to his business deals in Turkey, reminding viewers of Trump Tower in Istanbul. Esquire Magazine claimed that his actions were something “only a twisted, compromised mind could concoct.”

NYTIMES Trump Syria

The New York Times dedicated significant resources to condemnations of Trump’s tweets

But it was The Hill that most accurately summed up the tone of the media. Pulling out of the Middle East is “impulsive, strategically vapid and morally obtuse” according to opinion contributor Will Marshall. On the topic of “endless wars” he said:

 It’s time to retire this mindless trope. U.S. forces aren’t engaged in the Middle East because Americans are addicted to war or the trappings of superpower status. They are fighting mainly to contain the very real threat of Islamist terrorism.”

Marshall continued to explain that it has been nearly 75 years since Japan surrendered, and the U.S. still has tens of thousands of troops occupying the country. This, for him, was a good thing, because they were there “to preempt threats to our homeland, deter aggression and protect America’s far-flung interests. Their mission is counterterrorism.” Thus, it seems that the liberal resistance to Trump is strongest when he begins to shift, however minutely, to a more anti-war position.

 

Our underfunded Military Industrial Complex

It was a similar story last year, when in December Trump took to Twitter to declare the $716 billion military budget he had previously approved “crazy,” fueling speculation that he might attempt to reduce the already enormous amount the U.S. spends on war — damn near as much as all other countries combined.

Then, as now, corporate media almost uniformly condemned the idea. The Washington Post described a reduction in military spending as “suicide,” claiming the U.S. is in the middle of a “full-blown national security crisis.” The crisis, according to its source, was that it could no longer be sure of victory in a war against Russia in the Baltic or against China in the South China Sea. Why it is crucial that the U.S. should be able to destroy other nuclear-armed countries on the other side of the world was not explained.

Other outlets followed suit. Forbes Magazine began its article with the words, “The security and well-being of the United States are at greater risk than at any time in decades.” Bloomberg recommended a consistent increase in military spending of three to five percent above inflation for five to ten years. The Wall Street Journal was even more blunt: “Don’t Cut Military Spending Mr. President,” its headline read.

The media’s deepest fears did not come to pass, however, as Trump committed to a massive increase to the military budget, up to $750 billion for this year, assuaging the media’s fears.

 

Liberals applauding war

In contrast, whenever Trump is at his most bellicose, media laud his bravery and leadership. Despite warning before his election that Trump was a dangerous fascist too erratic be allowed to control a nuclear arsenal, media overwhelmingly supported the president’s decision to bomb Syria, escalating a conflict that could have turned into a hot war with Russia. CNN host Fareed Zakaria was delighted by his decision: “I think Donald Trump became President of the United States last night,” he said on air.

Likewise, “resistance” media have given Trump considerable support in his attempt to force a coup in Venezuela, backing his puppet Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president. The New York Times claimed that Guaidó was “cheered on by thousands of supporters in the streets and a growing number of governments.” CNN (falsely) reported that there was a vast, popular movement behind him, as “Venezuelans took to the streets in nationwide protests.” CNBC did the same, noting there were “hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans” out on the streets, chanting together and waving national flags, demanding an end to Maduro’s “socialist government.” And all while downplaying or simply ignoring the catastrophic role U.S. sanctions are playing in the country.

For all the talk of an adversarial media standing up to an authoritarian like Trump, the reality is that the media have been selective about what to oppose him on. While they continue to mock him for his crude remarks or his mannerisms, when it comes to substantive issues that the elite all agree on (such as foreign policy), there is little to no pushback against the president, excepting when he utters statements that are read as critical of war and militarism. At that point media begin condemning him in unison, accidentally revealing their true agenda. To those who believe in an anti-interventionist foreign policy, the media’s resistance is useless.

Feature photo | President Donald Trump walks toward members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Oct. 10, 2019, before boarding Marine One for a short trip to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Andrew Harnik | AP

Alan MacLeod is a MintPress contributor as well as an academic and writer for Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting. His book, Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting was published in April.

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).

 

New Multimedia Site Tells Story of US-Led Coalition’s Destruction of Syria’s Raqqa

ST

Created on Monday, 10 June 2019 14:02

Ruins of Liberation’ site gives rare behind-the-scenes look at Amnesty’s work amid the ruins of Raqqa.

June 6th marked the second anniversary of the so-called Washington-led “anti-ISIS operation” which killed at least 1,600 civilians

I witnessed a level of destruction not comparable to anything I’ve seen in decades of covering the impact of war’ – Donatella Rovera, Amnesty researcher.

Marking the second anniversary of the start of the US-led Coalition’s military offensive in Raqqa, Syria, Amnesty International has launched “The Ruins of Liberation” – a multimedia storytelling site giving a behind-the-scenes look at its investigations in the bombed-out city.

Panos photographer Andrea DiCenzo accompanied Amnesty’s Senior Crisis Response Advisor Donatella Rovera on a visit to Raqqa this February, documenting her investigation, according to the Amnesty International website.

Images by DiCenzo and Rovera are combined with audio commentary, with Rovera giving an intimate description of the people she met and the reality she exposed.

Rovera and her fellow researchers – including a team of specialists in remote sensing and open-source investigation – have investigated the Raqqa military campaign for over 18 months. They visited more than 200 strike sites, interviewed more than 400 survivors and witnesses, and released several reports, culminating in an unprecedented investigation in partnership with Airwars that documented the deaths of more than 1,600 civilians as a result of Coalition attacks – far more than the 180 deaths the Coalition has so far admitted.

Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen, who was in Raqqa recently, described the city – two years on from the start of the battle – as still “completely devastated”.

Donatella Rovera said in her report published by the Amnesty International website on Thursday, June 6th, 2019:

“On the ground in Raqqa, I witnessed a level of destruction not comparable to anything I’ve seen in decades of covering the impact of war.

“This site brings home the reality of the suffering I encountered and explains why I kept returning: to seek justice for civilians trying to piece together their lives.

“Two years on, the US-led Coalition must investigate the full scale of civilian casualties it caused, and ensure victims and their families receive full reparation and compensation.”

Amnesty UK Director Kate Allen, who was in Raqqa recently, described the city – two years on from the start of the battle – as still “completely devastated.”

The US-led Coalition’s campaign allegedly to oust the “Islamic State” armed [terror] group from Raqqa was among the most destructive in modern warfare. The offensive – lasting from 6 June to 17 October 2017 and led by US, UK and French forces – killed and injured thousands of residents, and reduced homes, businesses and infrastructure to rubble.

Civilians trapped by the fighting were prevented from fleeing by ISIS snipers and mines. Many were killed in their homes by the Coalition’s air bombardments and indiscriminate artillery strikes. Despite this, then Coalition commander Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend claimed the offensive had been “the most precise air campaign in history”.

H.M

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US Army Terrorists, Allied Militants Killed in Several Blasts in Raqqa

Tue Apr 30, 2019 2:13
US Army Terrorists, Allied Militants Killed in Several Blasts in Raqqa
US Army Terrorists, Allied Militants Killed in Several Blasts in Raqqa

TEHRAN (FNA)– A least two US Army terrorists and 20 Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been killed in recent blasts and attacks on their military positions in the city of Raqqa.

The US Army terrorists were killed in a series of blasts in Raqqa City, including a bomb blast hitting a US Army military vehicle, the Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV network reported.

The report also noted that 16 SDF fighters were killed in attacks and explosions against their military positions and patrols in Fonoun school, Shahid Bassel Street, areas near al-Baladi stadium, al-Qattar Street and near Electricity Company in Raqqa City.

The recent blasts and attacks have sparked tensions in the region.

In a relevant development earlier this monht, sources said the US Army deployed ISIL commanders and terrorists in the security bodies of the Syrian Democratic Forces in Raqqa paving the way for fleeing of a large number of militants from SDF prisons after paying large amount of cash, sources said.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) quoted informed sources as saying that former ISIL commanders and terrorists who had still been in Raqqa before the SDF gained control of the region are now in charge of different security responsibilities, including traffic police and similar responsibilities in the town of Ain Issa in Western Raqqa.

It said militants were asking for bribes and taxes from vehicles, which had enraged citizens.

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