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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Syrian in Last 24 Hours: Syrian, Russian Armies Launch Heaviest Attacks on Terrorists in Hama, Idlib

Fri Mar 15, 2019

Syrian in Last 24 Hours: Syrian, Russian Armies Launch Heaviest Attacks on Terrorists in Hama, Idlib

TEHRAN (FNA)– The Russian and Syrian air force units heavily pounded the militants’ positions in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib in response to the offensives of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) in the demilitarized zone.

“The Russian and Syrian fighter jets launched airstrikes against the terrorists’ hideouts in al-Tamane’ah, al-Nayrab, Saraqib, Kafr Amim and Ma’arat Hormat in Southern and Eastern Idlib as well as their positions in Northern and Northwestern Hama,” the Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported on Thursday.

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 several provinces across Syria.

Hama-Idlib

The Syrian and Russian air force units heavily pounded the militants’ positions in Northern Hama and Southern Idlib in response to the offensives of Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at in the demilitarized zone.

The Arabic-language al-Watan newspaper reported on Thursday that the Russian and Syrian fighter jets launched airstrikes against the terrorists’ hideouts in al-Tamane’ah, al-Nayrab, Saraqib, Kafr Amim and Ma’arat Hormat in Southern and Eastern Idlib as well as their positions in Northern and Northwestern Hama.

Field sources described the Wednesday attacks as the heaviest airstrikes by the Russian and Syrian air force units since September, saying that a large number of terrorists were killed and wounded in the offensive.

Concurrent with the airstrikes, the Syrian army forces warded off the terrorists’ attacks from Kafr Naboudeh, al-Sakhar and Murak against the military points.

They also targeted the militants’ moves from the towns of Ma’arat, Hormat al-Khowin, al-Zarzour and al-Tamane’ah towards the military points in Southeastern Idlib with heavy missile attacks, leaving heavy damage on them.

The Syrian army units in response to the terrorists’ attacks on safe regions in Aleppo and Lattakia, launched strikes against their positions in al-Khalsah, al-Hamirah in Southern Aleppo and regions near Jisr al-Shaqour and Lattakia mountains.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Russian Aerospace Force has destroyed a weapons depot belonging to the Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at terror group in the Syrian province of Idlib.

A pinpoint airstrike was carried out on Wednesday in coordination with Turkey.

The air raid “targeted a weapons depot belonging to the Tahrir al-Sham al-Hay’at terror group in the city of Idlib,” the defense ministry added.

“According to information confirmed through several channels, militants earlier brought a large number of combat unmanned aerial vehicles to the facility, which they planned to use for attacks on Russia’s Hmeimim air base,” the statement read.

Dara’a

The Syrian army found a large number of weapons and military equipment, including Israeli-made arms, during purging operations in regions liberated from the terrorists in the Northern parts of Dara’a province.

The engineering units of the Syrian army discovered the military equipment and ammunitions in the towns of Ankhal and al-Hareh in Northern Dara’a on Thursday.

A military source said that the Syrian army found different types of assault rifles, machine-guns, RPGs, cannons, anti-tank missiles, grenades, night-vision systems and different types of communication systems, adding that a number of them were made in Israel.

Raqqa

Several Kurdish militants were killed in the popular forces’ attacks on a convoy of the US and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Raqqa.

The Arabic-language website of Sputnik reported on Wednesday that the popular forces in Raqqa detonated a bomb on the way of a joint convoy of the US and SDF forces in al-Haramiyeh district in Raqqa city.

It added that the blast occurred as the US forces and the intelligence units of the SDF have planted over 600 cameras in the streets and districts of Raqqa.

Meantime, the Arabic-language al-Baladi website reported that during the attack, 3 Kurdish forces were killed and 8 others were wounded, adding that the SDF has put its forces on alert.

Popular protests against the deployment of occupying American forces and the US-backed SDF in Raqqa have increased recently.

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‘Entire Families Wiped Out’: U.S. Airstrikes Killed Many Civilians In Syria

Source

Raqqa’s first responders use a digger to push through the rubble of a building likely destroyed in an airstrike carried out by the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.

On a busy street corner in Raqqa, Syria, a digger pushes through the rubble of a building hit by an airstrike. Onlookers shield their mouths and noses from the dust and stench of corpses of those who perished beneath.

Just streets away, three recovery workers pull out the delicate skeletons of two children from under the debris of a partially collapsed home. And across the city, in what was once Raqqa’s public park, men unearth more bodies from a mass grave.

“Raqqa did not deserve this destruction,” says Yasser al-Khamis, who leads the city’s emergency response team. “Of course, we understood its fate because it was the capital of ISIS, but we were hoping that the civilian death toll would be lower.”

One year after the U.S.-led military campaign against ISIS ended in Raqqa, Khamis’ team is still recovering the remains of the battle’s casualties. This grim, daily work is revealing a civilian death toll that is dramatically higher than the assessment offered by the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.

The rescue workers’ findings, which they document in meticulous notes shown to NPR, point to an offensive that killed many more civilians than it did ISIS members, and where the majority of those civilians likely died in American airstrikes.

The U.S.-led coalition against ISIS has so far verified 104 unintended civilian casualties caused by its attacks in Raqqa and is investigating more cases, coalition spokesman Army Col. Sean Ryan tells NPR.

“With new information being submitted to the CivCas [civilian casualties] team by a multitude of sources every month, the numbers will presumably go up,” Ryan adds.

The workers in Raqqa, however, estimate the real tally is much higher — likely in the “thousands.”

Since January, the rescue team has uncovered more than 2,600 bodies. Through their identification process, they say they have found that most of the bodies were civilians killed in coalition airstrikes during the battle for Raqqa between June and October 2017.

Formally called the First Responders Team, the group receives funding from the U.S. government, but the assistance is limited. Its approximately 37 members work long hours for little pay — some are volunteers — and say their efforts are slowed by a lack of heavy machinery needed to access the bodies.

With many more corpses still under rubble, the rescue workers estimate it will take another year to clean the city of the dead.

Faster strikes and artillery barrages

Raqqa served as the capital of ISIS’ self-proclaimed caliphate for almost four years after the militant group seized the city in 2014.

The U.S.-led coalition’s offensive on Raqqa came after several years of fighting the extremist group in Iraq and other parts of Syria.

While campaigning for president, Donald Trump vowed to “bomb the s*** out of” ISIS.

In the months following his January 2017 swearing-in, conflict analysts reported increases in both the numbers of U.S. airstrikes and of civilians reported killed in the attacks.

President Trump reportedly handed decision-making power for major bombardments to the military, enabling airstrikes to be more easily called in by commanders on the ground during a battle.

In May 2017, Defense Secretary James Mattis told CBS News the U.S. was accelerating and intensifying the campaign against ISIS, and added, “We have already shifted from attrition tactics … to annihilation tactics.”

In Raqqa, the consequences of the “annihilation tactics” are still keenly felt.

According to Airwars, an independent research group monitoring the anti-ISIS conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. was responsible for about 95 percent of the airstrikes and all of the artillery barrages in Raqqa. The U.K. and France also participated in the offensive.

A view of a destroyed Raqqa neighborhood.

Ruth Sherlock/NPR

Data given to Airwars by the U.S. military’s central command show the coalition launched at least 21,000 munitions — airstrikes and artillery — in the city in little over four months.

“Entire families have been wiped out”

By the end of the campaign, Raqqa was a wasteland of smashed concrete; its residential tower blocks were flattened and schools and hospitals toppled. A United Nations study found that over 80 percent of the city — originally home to some 220,000 people — is damaged or destroyed.

Many residents say they lost loved ones in the strikes.

Mohanned Tadfi, 41, recently buried his mother, his brother, his sister-in-law and seven nieces and nephews. “Ten people,” he says. “A plane came and hit the house and the building of five floors fell on their heads.”

Tadfi says his brother Latuf had found it too hard and dangerous for his family to leave. “ISIS was executing anyone from his neighborhood who tried to escape. And in any case, our mother is diabetic and can’t walk well, and it was too difficult [to] carry her because the bridges out of the city had been bombed.”

The family stayed in their basement apartment as the war intensified around them. The Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed militia, was closing in on the neighborhood and the family thought the fighters would soon capture the area from ISIS.

On Sept. 5, 2017, just after a muezzin in a nearby mosque called the end of noon prayers, an airstrike hit the building where Tadfi’s family was. Another brother, Raed Tadfi, went to deliver insulin for their mother. He found Latuf dead on the steps and the building collapsed behind him.

Days later, SDF fighters seized control of the neighborhood. Tadfi says he and his brother asked the militia for access to the house. “Please, there are children under the rubble. My brother’s children, young kids. Maybe even just one of them is still alive!” he recalls asking them.

But they were told the area was too dangerous for civilians. It wasn’t until three months later that Tadfi was finally able to recover his loved ones. He hired a flatbed truck and took them away to graves he says he dug with his own hands.

The Tadfis’ story is one of the cases being looked at by Donatella Rovera, a senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty International who has spent much of the last year in Raqqa. She compiles witness testimonies and analyzes war damage to buildings as part of an ongoing investigation to determine how many civilians were really killed in the coalition attacks.

The building in Raqqa of the former home of Latuf Tadfi and his family, which relatives say was hit by a U.S.-led coalition airstrike.

Ruth Sherlock/NPR

“This is one case of many that I have been investigating where entire families have been wiped out in places where they thought they would be safe,” she says, standing beside the wreckage of the Tadfis home.

Determining casualties

In a statement responding to NPR, Col. Ryan, the spokesman of the Combined Joint Task Force, said the coalition conducted “thorough assessments” to ensure it didn’t accidentally kill civilians. “The majority of strikes were executed as planned, but to say this was perfect execution from all sides is meaningless and we understand mistakes were made.”

He said the coalition was “fighting a ruthless enemy that was systematically killing innocent civilians and unfortunately some were unintentionally killed trying to liberate them, something we tried to avoid.”

Rovera doesn’t dispute that ISIS tried to prevent civilians from leaving. But, she says, the military knew that before the battle and did not adjust their attack plan accordingly.

Her investigation so far suggests that “many hundreds” of civilians were killed in the Raqqa offensive, which she says prioritized speed, even in densely populated neighborhoods.

Testimony Rovera gathered from embedded journalists and SDF militia sources suggests that strikes sometimes came “within minutes” of a local commander choosing a target.

Bodies recovered at a mass grave site that rescuers discovered in Panorama park in Raqqa, Syria. Rescuers say the remains included militants and civilians. Ruth Sherlock/NPR hide caption

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Ruth Sherlock/NPR

Bodies recovered at a mass grave site that rescuers discovered in Panorama park in Raqqa, Syria. Rescuers say the remains included militants and civilians.

Ruth Sherlock/NPR

“If they had had observation for an adequate period of time, they would have realized that there were civilians in those buildings,” she says. “Yes, the war probably would have taken more time. But more lives would have been saved.”

The rescue unit says it determined most of the more than 2,600 recovered bodies were civilians in a few different ways. ISIS combatants often dressed a specific way and carried an ID card, the workers say. Other characteristics, such as victims’ age and gender and testimony from families, also help in the team’s documentation.

Rescuers say they recognize airstrike scenes from the scale of the destruction.

Airwars puts the civilian death toll in the Raqqa offensive at 1,400, but it believes the number could be higher. It gathers data largely remotely, through communication with sources and information from social media, and has not been able to verify every reported case.

“We expected a significantly higher portion of civilian harm reports to be determined as credible, since in Raqqa really the only player causing the destruction was the coalition,” says Chris Woods, the director of Airwars.

He explains that the coalition has assessed and accepted only a fraction of the casualty reports from Raqqa than it did from the major campaign to drive ISIS from Mosul, Iraq, from October 2016 to July 2017.

“That suggests a political dimension to the decision-making process,” he says. “We can’t think of another explanation for that discrepancy.”

Rovera, the Amnesty International adviser, says it is imperative that coalition forces send ground investigators into Raqqa. “Having dropped the bombs from the sky they should now be sending their investigators on the ground now to establish the facts of what was the impact of those strikes on the civilian population,” she says.

Col. Ryan from the coalition said the existing coalition forces in Syria are not a trained investigative force and taking them away “from their mission is not advisable as the fight against this ruthless enemy continues.”

For now, Raqqa’s people are left to count their dead largely alone, while the U.S. and other powers strike elsewhere in Syria.

US-led aircraft evacuate Daesh commanders from eastern Syria: Report

A helicopter with the US-led coalition flies over the site of Turkish airstrikes near the northeastern Syrian Kurdish town of Derik, known as al-Malikiyah in Arabic, on April 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
A helicopter with the US-led coalition flies over the site of Turkish airstrikes near the northeastern Syrian Kurdish town of Derik, known as al-Malikiyah in Arabic, on April 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group has airlifted to a safe sanctuary several commanders of the foreign-sponsored terror outfit from a region in Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, where government forces and fighters from popular defense groups are tightening the noose around the extremists.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that two US-led military aircraft conducted the operation on the outskirts of al-Marashida village, and transported the Takfiris to an unknown location.

SANA, citing information received from local residents, reported on December 29 last year that American helicopters had evacuated Daesh commanders from several districts of Dayr al-Zawr province two days earlier.

Earlier that month, the Syrian government had sent a message to the United Nations, accusing the US-led coalition of reaching deals with Daesh and coordinating its actions with the terror group’s commanders.

On September 10, 2017, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said the US-led coalition was trying to destroy the Arab country and prolong the armed conflict there.

Muallem said that Damascus would demand the dissolution of the military contingent, stressing that thousands of Syrian women and children had been killed by coalition airstrikes in Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr provinces.

The top Syrian diplomat further noted that the Pentagon was using the coalition to cover up its destruction campaign in Syria.

He added that the US-backed militiamen from the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were fighting Syrian army forces to gain control over the oil-rich areas of the country.

Damascus would not allow any external force to violate its sovereignty, Muallem pointed out.

Last August, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that US-led choppers had transported four Daesh members and a civilian from a house used as an arms depot in Beqres, a suburban area east of Dayr al-Zawr, to a safe area.

According to the report, the five people included a European bomb expert, three Egyptian Daesh members and a local resident of Beqres.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

FORMER BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA, PETER FORD, WARNS OF PENDING WAR PROPAGANDA ON COMMISSION OF INQUIRY REPORT TO UNHRC

In Gaza

Image result for Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria

Peter Ford, former British Ambassador to Syria:
You will be seeing lurid accounts in the Western media of the latest  report to the UN Human Rights Council from the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria. This was issued on 12 September.
In particular it is being stated that the report vindicates claims that weaponised chlorine was used in Douma. This is not what the report (text below) actually says.
If you read the actual report – you have to reach section 92 so obviously few hacks will do that – you will see that it is carefully worded.

The inspectors, who unlike OPCW did not actually visit the site, ‘received a vast body of evidence suggesting that..’ (of course they did, from the jihadis and from hostile intelligence services); ‘they received information on [deaths and injuries] (which is not the same as seeing bodies or examining victims); they ‘recall that weaponisation of chlorine is prohibited’ (but do not actually say that Syrian forces used it in Douma).

Besides the text of the relevant part of the report I have added the paragraph on Raqqa and the ‘indiscriminate attacks and serious violations of international law’ by the coalition of which the UK is part, including the bombing of a school and killing of 40 people.
You will note also the acknowlegement that ISIS exploited hospitals in Raqqa (as other jihadi groups have done in every part of Syria). Naturally the media and our government will not want to discuss that paragraph of the report.
**
Excerpt from the text of the report by the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria:

92. Throughout 7 April, numerous aerial attacks were carried out in Douma, striking various residential areas. A vast body of evidence collected by the Commission suggests that, at approximately 7.30 p.m., a gas cylinder containing a chlorine payload delivered by helicopter struck a multi-storey residential apartment building located approximately 100 metres south-west of Shohada square. The Commission received information on the death of at least 49 individuals, and the wounding of up to 650 others.

93.                 While the Commission cannot make yet any conclusions concerning the exact causes of death, in particular on whether another agent was used in addition to chlorine that may have caused or contributed to deaths and injuries, it recalls that the weaponization of chlorine is prohibited under customary international humanitarian law and under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction, ratified by the Syrian Arab Republic in 2013.
95. The Commission also continues to investigate aerial attacks launched against ISIL positions in Raqqah city between June and October 2017, which destroyed much of the city and displaced nearly the entire population. The Commission is concerned that the widespread destruction wrought upon Raqqah city included indiscriminate attacks and other serious violations of international humanitarian law. Significant challenges continue to arise, including with regard to how ISIL prevented civilians from documenting attacks as a matter of policy, how chaos often left victims and witnesses unable to identify whether a given attack was carried out by aerial or ground operations, and how ISIL terrorists embedded themselves and their military installations in numerous civilian infrastructures, including hospitals, thus significantly complicating investigations.
96.          The Commission further notes that the coalition led by the United States acknowledged on 28 June that it had killed 40 civilians during its aerial attack against Al-Badiya school in Mansurah, Raqqah on the night of 20 to 21 March 2017
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إيران ودرس كردستان العراق الجديد لمن يفهم!

سبتمبر 10, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– فيما الإعلام منشغل والسياسة منغمسة، في استقراء رسائل أحداث البصرة، والاستعصاء الحكومي في العراق، والتصعيد المفتعل في حرب الصلاحيات لتبرير التعطيل في لبنان، وبينهما وفوقهما، بما شهدته قمة طهران ومن ورائها معركة إدلب، التي بدا واضحاً أن كل التهديد والوعيد لا يفتّ في عضد أصحاب القرار فيها، قام الحرس الثوري الإيراني بالإعلان عن استهداف مواقع للجماعات الكردية المسلحة الإيرانية المتمرّدة والمتمركزة داخل كردستان العراق، وهي جماعات ينظمها ويرعاها الأميركيون للقيام بأعمال تخريبية داخل إيران. والحدث كبير جداً ويحمل رسائل تتصل بحجم القرار الإيراني في التعامل مع المحاولات الأميركية لتغيير توازنات النصر في سورية التي تقترب لحظاتها الأخيرة لصالح محور المقاومة الذي تشكّل إيران قوّته الرئيسية وعمقه الاستراتيجي.

– رسالة كردستان العراق ودرسها الأهم، أن إيران التي صمتت عن بعض هذه الجماعات في ما مضى منعاً للتصعيد، واكتفت بالاستعدادات داخل حدودها لمنع تسلل هذه الجماعات، قرّرت مطاردتها وتصفيتها داخل الحدود العراقية في ظل وجود أميركي مباشر في العراق، وفي أشدّ اللحظات العراقية السياسية الداخلية تعقيداً، وتجاذب سياسي داخلي عراقي يتصل بدور إيران، التي يفترض منها مراعاته ويتوقع منها تهيّب القيام بما يثير ضدها بعض المواقف ويستصدر بعض البيانات، فإذ بها تفعل العكس غير آبهة بما سيُقال، لتقول إنه في كل مواجهة تكون أميركا هي الطرف المقابل فيها بصورة مباشرة أو بصورة غير مباشرة، فلا خطوط حمراء تمنع إيران من الذهاب للاشتباك المباشر مهما كانت النتائج، وأنها مستعدّة لتحمل التبعات، وخوض المخاطر.

– هذا يعني مباشرة أن الرسائل قابلة للصرف في ساحتي اشتباك افتراضيتين، الأولى في سورية وفقاً لقراءة ما بعد إدلب، والتبشير الإيراني المتواصل منذ سنتين بدنو معركة الرقة، ومن ضمنها طرد الأميركيين من سورية، وليس خافياً أن العملية التي استهدفت الجماعات الكردية المجهزة لاستهداف إيران، يأتي بعد يومين على قيام جماعات كردية مشابهة يقودها الأميركيون باستهداف الجيش السوري في منطقة القامشلي، والثانية في مضيق هرمز، حيث حذرت إيران من دفعها لإقفاله أمام الصادرات النفطية، إذا جرى تقييد حركتها في أسواق النفط بصورة تصيب وضعها المالي والتجاري بنتائج قاسية، فالتحرك العسكري خارج أراضي إيران، وفقاً لمفهوم أمنها القومي، ودون تنسيق مسبق مع حكومات الجوار المعنية، هو منهج على واشنطن وضعه في الحساب، كلما دنت ساعة الاختبار في الخليج.

– بالتزامن تبدو الرسالة واضحة لجهة عدم ترك المجال للفهم الخاطئ لتعامل إيران وحلفائها مع مساعي الفتن التي يشعلها الأميركيون في العراق ويريدون إشعالها في لبنان، فالاحتواء والامتصاص أسلوبان ناجحان في الأحداث الداخلية العراقية واللبنانية سياسة رابحة لإيران، حيث تحوّلت الفوضى التي أُخذت إليها منطقة البصرة في العراق لإحراق اسم المرشح الذي يدعمه الأميركيون لرئاسة الحكومة، الدكتور حيدر العبادي، وتحميل تيار السيد مقتدى الصدر مسؤولية الفوضى التي استهدفت خصومه والقنصلية الإيرانية، بعدما كان المقصود استهداف تيار الحشد الشعبي ورئيس الحكومة السابق نور المالكي، وتحميلهما مع إيران مسؤولية المعاناة المتراكمة لأهالي البصرة. وفي لبنان فشلت محاولات تحميل رئيس الجمهورية مسؤولية تأخير ولادة الحكومة، وبدا بوضوح أن المسؤولية عند الرئيس المكلف تشكيل الحكومة رغم كل الحشد الذي تمّ استحضاره لافتعال معركة صلاحيات رئاسية. والرسالة، هنا هي لا تسيئوا فهم المرونة، فرسالة القوة في مكان آخر، ولسنا ملزمين عندما تهاجمون بالردّ في المكان والأسلوب ذاتهما، فافهموا الأبعاد والمعاني وضعوها في حساباتكم الأكبر، والأبعد مدى!

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An Excessive Emphasis on Theatrics Exposes US Hypocrisy on Syria

An Excessive Emphasis on Theatrics Exposes US Hypocrisy on Syria

PETER KORZUN | 15.04.2018 |

An Excessive Emphasis on Theatrics Exposes US Hypocrisy on Syria

Is the US sincere in its fury about the alleged chemical attack in Syria? If this were more than theatrics, it would repent of its role in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. More than 30 years ago the Iraqi regime was regularly delivering devastating chemical barrages against Iran. The US knew all along that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader at the time, had been using mustard gas and sarin since 1983. Roughly 20,000 Iranian troops were killed by chemical weapons (CW) in that war.

No emergency UN Security Council meetings were convened, no warships capable of striking land targets with cruise missiles rushed toward Iraqi shores, no belligerent statements were issued, and no sustained military operations were announced. Quite the opposite, the US provided the regime with intelligence. This is an example of how satellite imagery was used to violate human rights. The US assistance was not limited to providing just military data. Arms were funneled in via Middle East allies.

Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy to the Middle East, visited Baghdad in 1983 to shake hands with Saddam Hussein. It was the US and only the US that protected Iraq in the UN against Iran’s charges of CW use. The 1925 Geneva Protocol states that the signatories are to induce other states not to use CW.

In 1988, the Iraqi regime killed 5,000 of its own citizens in Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan. The US sought to obscure Baghdad’s responsibility by falsely accusing Tehran, despite the fact that Iran did not possess CW.

Washington turned a blind eye toward the use of CW by jihadists in Syria. It did not react when members of the UN independent commission of inquiry warned of its “strong suspicions” that it was the rebels, not the government, who had used CW in that war-torn country.

The US used deadly substances in Syria and Iraq, such as , breaching International Humanitarian Law. The use of white phosphorus munitions in the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004 has been acknowledged by US officials. That is an incendiary weapon prohibited by the 1980

The use of US cluster bombs against civilians in Yemen is a violation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). Unlike Russia, the US has failed to comply with the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). It has also refused to join the 1997 Ottawa Convention, which bans antipersonnel land mines (the Mine Ban Treaty).

The US never stopped working on its biological programs. It operates 25 bio-labs around the world in violation of the UN Biological Weapons Convention. Russia is concerned about the fact that the US has bioweapons programs in place near its borders in Ukraine and Georgia. A leak could lead to mass epidemics that would spread to Russia. No borders exist for killer insects.

The State Department described the alleged CW attack in Douma as “horrifying”. It said so even before the OPCW experts arrived there on April 13. Its statement claims that Russia’s support of the Syrian government is a betrayal of the CWC. No statement coming out of Foggy Bottom has ever declared that the US government is sorry for its multiple violations of international agreements, universally accepted norms of conduct, or for the people who have died or suffered as a result of its misdeeds. Perhaps American diplomats see nothing “horrifying” here.

The State Department fails to explain why a multinational invasion of Syria could be justified by something that might prove a hoax. Besides, no one has proved that anything like a CW attack took place in Douma at all. Should multinational forces invade the US because of its violations of international law? Could anyone in his right mind believe the US is really worried about the Syrian civilians who allegedly suffered as a result of the attack it says has taken place?

Last year, it took the US military about 48 hours to kill 100 civilians in Raqqa. One thousand eight hundred civilians overall lost their lives over the course of the US-led offensive to oust Islamic State fighters during that operation. There was no State Department comment on what happened. Were those civilians different from the ones in Douma?

State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert believes Russia bears responsibility for the CW attack because it “shields” Syria. By doing so, it “has breached its commitments to the United Nations.” She has a lot of nerve saying that, given all the numerous violations and illegal activities her country conducts practically in broad daylight. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

Pro Syrian Forces Attack US Base Near Raqqa

10,000 Bodies Buried in Mass Graves across Syria’s Raqqah: Official

January 17, 2018

mass grave

A senior Syrian medical official says members of the ISIL Takfiri terrorist group have executed 10,000 people and buried their bodies in mass graves across the country’s northern city of Raqqah.

Syrian Forensic Medicine General Director Zaher Hajo told Arabic-language and al-Watan daily that his colleagues had confirmed the presence of 4,000 bodies in one single grave.

Hajo went on to say that Syrian Health Minister Nizar Yazigi has ordered the formation of a committee in order to collect the remains of the victims and transfer them to the military hospital in the northwestern city of Aleppo.

He stated that identification of the victims, using their teeth and bones, will start next week, stressing that he will chair the committee.

Hajo said the mass graves have been found in areas now controlled by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – a US-backed group of Kurdish and Arab forces.

The SDF said on October 20, 2017 that it had “liberated” Raqqah after driving out ISIL terrorists from the city, which served as ISIL’s de facto capital in the war-ravaged Arab country.

The US-backed forces later said the political future of the city and the province of the same name would be determined “within the framework of a decentralized, federal, democratic Syria.”

SDF spokesman Talal Silo said than the group would hand over the control of Raqqah to what he called “the Raqqah Civil Council.”

Syrian Minister of National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar reacted by saying that Raqqah’s future could only be discussed “as part of the final political structure of the Syrian state.”

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has, meanwhile, said that the SDF’s purported operations in Raqqah have killed civilians and damaged infrastructure in the city.

“When you’re killing around 1,200 civilians — nearly half of them women and children — and destroying 80 percent of the city, that’s not liberating Raqqah,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the SOHR, told Arab News daily newspaper.

المواجهة بين معادلات الردع في نقطة الذروة

يناير 10, 2018

ناصر قنديل

– عندما تنشر المواقع «الإسرائيلية» سلسلة مقالات كان أبزرها ما نشرته صحيفة «معاريف» على صفحتها الأولى قبل يومين عن مخاطر ترك الجيش السوري وحلفائه يواصلون التقدّم في الشمال، والحاجة لفعل شيء يوقف هذا التقدّم، لأنه سيغيّر الستاتيكو السائد والمطلوب استمراره، لتكون المعادلة الحاكمة لصراعات المنطقة، قبول تسوية للقضية الفلسطينية تلتزم القدس عاصمة لـ«إسرائيل» أو فلا تسويات أخرى ولا حلول، يصير مفهوماً معنى الغارة والصواريخ «الإسرائيلية» على منطقة القطيفة السورية ولو تمّ ربطها بالحديث عن مستودعات سلاح للمقاومة.

– يتزامن كلام «معاريف» مع ما نشره موقع «دبكا» العبري التابع للمخابرات «الإسرائيلية»، عما وصفه بالمعلومات الخاصة حول وجود تفاهم أميركي سعودي بدأ منذ زيارة الوزير السعودي ثامر السبهان لمدينة الرقة السورية برفقة المبعوث الرئاسي الأميركي الجنرال بريث ماكغورك، وموضوعه تغطية قيام كيان انفصالي بعنوان «دولة سنية عربية كردية» شمال سورية، والتحذير من أنّ سورية وإيران بدعم روسي لن تتركا الرقة بعد الانتهاء من إدلب، وعندها ماذا سيحلّ بتحذيرات وزير الدفاع الأميركي جيمس ماتيس من تقدّم سوري نحو وادي الفرات، مقابل تحذير المستشار السياسي لمرشد الجمهورية الإسلامية الإيرانية علي أكبر ولايتي، من أنّ الرقة بعد إدلب؟

– تأتي الغارات والصواريخ «الإسرائيلية» ترجمة لهذه التحذيرات، كما تأتي التهديدات التركية التي بلغت حدّ التلويح بإعلان الخروج من مسار أستانة إذا تواصل التقدّم السوري في إدلب، واستدعاء السفيرين الروسي والإيراني لإبلاغهما انزعاج تركيا مما يحدث شمال سورية، والهدف واحد، ومرسوم في واشنطن، ومثله الهدف من التصعيد الأعمى للنيران السعودية في اليمن، رسم معادلة ردع سياسية قوامها، لا تسويات من دون تسوية تلتزم القدس عاصمة لـ«إسرائيل»، وشرط تثبيت هذه المعادلة إسقاط كلّ إمكانية لحسم الملفات العالقة بانتظار التسويات ليصير الانتظار عامل الضغط الحاسم.

– معادلة أنصار الله التي تضع الملاحة في البحر الأحمر في كفّة موازية للتصعيد السعودي كما التقدّم السوري نحو إدلب يشكّلان جناحَيْ الردع المعاكس الذي يترجمه محور المقاومة في الميدان، وعنوانه، لا انتظار للتسويات، ومَنْ يريد التسوية فليلحق بها قبل أن يقول الميدان حقائق جديدة أشدّ قسوة، كي تبقى القدس وحدَها عنوان المواجهة المفتوحة، حيث الشعب والمقاومة في فلسطين مقابل الاحتلال، وحيث لا تفاوض ولا تسويات قبل إسقاط كلّ ما يتصل بتهويد القدس.

– يبلغ التصعيد بين معادلتي الردع نقطة الذروة، وتعبّر الغارات «الإسرائيلية» والردّ السوري بإسقاط طائرة «إسرائيلية» عن ذلك بوضوح، كما يعبّر التحذير اليمني من إغلاق الملاحة في البحر الأحمر، وكما يعبّر أكثر التلويح التركي بالخروج من أستانة، وهذا يعني أنّ تراجع أحد الفريقين وحده يمنع المزيد من التصعيد، والأكيد وفقاً للمعلومات الثابتة أنّ محور المقاومة لم يُقدِم على خطواته بصورة غير محسوبة، بل أرادها لبلوغ هذه النقطة وفرض الخيارات الصعبة على المحور المقابل، الثلاثي «الإسرائيلي» السعودي الأميركي، ومعه التركي الموعود بحصة من كعكة المنطقة مجدّداً، إذا تولى ملف المناورة بقضية القدس، والتلاعب بموقعه في سورية، وخطة محور المقاومة ستظهر نتائجها في أنقرة أولاً بتراجع جديد يبلع الموس مجدّداً، كما بعد تحرير حلب، أمام أمر واقع حاسم في إدلب، لا يزال هو الأصل والكلمة الفصل.

– إنْ ذهبوا للمواجهة فمحور المقاومة جاهز ومستعدّ، وإنْ تراجعوا عن المواجهة، فهي بداية تراجعات ستفرضها مواجهات لاحقة مماثلة، وقد تبخّرت أحلام المراهنات على أحداث إيران، وإلا لو صدّقوا كلامهم لمنحوه بعض الوقت.

مقالات مشابهة

The Raqqa Exodus: The US Coalition’s “Secret Deal” to Allow ISIS-Daesh Terrorists to Escape…

Global Research, November 27, 2017

Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis confirmed in May Washington’s resolve to annihilate the ISIS-Daesh terrorists:

“Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to north Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We are not going to allow them to do so… (emphasis added, quoted in the BBC report entitled Raqqa’s Dirty Secret)

That was the “political narrative” of the Pentagon. The unspoken truth is that Uncle Sam had come to the rescue of the Islamic State. That decision was in all likelihood taken and carried on the orders of the Pentagon rather than the US State Department.

Confirmed by a BBC report entitled “Raqqa’s Dirty Secret, the US-led coalition facilitated the exodus of ISIS terrorists and their family members  out of their stronghold in Raqqa, Northern Syria.

Screen Shot of BBC Report

While the BBC report focussed on the details of the smuggling operation, it nonetheless acknowledges the existence of a “Secret Deal” involving the US and its indefectible British ally to let the terrorists escape from Raqqa.

Screenshot BBC Report

The deal to let IS fighters escape from Raqqa – de facto capital of their self-declared caliphate – had been arranged by local officials. It came after four months of fighting that left the city obliterated and almost devoid of people. It would spare lives and bring fighting to an end. The lives of the Arab, Kurdish and other fighters opposing IS would be spared.

But it also enabled many hundreds of IS fighters to escape from the city. At the time, neither the US and British-led coalition, nor the SDF, which it backs, wanted to admit their part.

Has the pact, which stood as Raqqa’s dirty secret, unleashed a threat to the outside world – one that has enabled militants to spread far and wide across Syria and beyond?

Great pains were taken to hide it from the world. But the BBC has spoken to dozens of people who were either on the convoy, or observed it, and to the men who negotiated the deal. …

This wasn’t so much an evacuation – it was the exodus of [the] so-called Islamic State.

(Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati, Raqqa’s Dirty SecretBBC, November 2017, emphasis added)

US-led coalition warplanes had been monitoring the evacuation of the ISIS terrorists, but visibly the convoys of buses and trucks were not the object of coalition bombings.

“The coalition now confirms that while it did not have its personnel on the ground, it monitored the convoy from the air. [but no actual aerial bombardment of the convoys took place] …

In light of the BBC investigation, the coalition now admits the part it played in the deal….” (Ibid)

If they had wanted to undermine the ISIS convoy of buses and trucks, this would have been a simple operation for the US Air Force. On the other hand, they could have chosen to block rather than destroy the convoys of trucks and buses (to minimize the loss of life) and detain and incarcerate the foreign fighters.

US officials casually claimed they did not take part in the negotiations and were therefore unable to prevent the exodus of the terrorists:

“We didn’t want anyone to leave,” says Col Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve, the Western coalition against IS.

“It comes down to Syrians – they are the ones fighting and dying, they get to make the decisions regarding operations,” he says.

While a Western officer was present for the negotiations, they didn’t take an “active part” in the discussions. Col Dillon maintains, … (Ibid)

What is revealing is that most of the ISIS fighters were foreign from a large number of countries pointing to a carefully organized recruitment and training program:

“… There was a huge number of foreigners. France, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi, China, Tunisia, Egypt…”

“Most were foreign but there were Syrians as well.” …

He now charges $600 (£460) per person and a minimum of $1,500 for a family.

In this business, clients don’t take kindly to inquiries. But Imad says he’s had “French, Europeans, Chechens, Uzbek”.

“Some were talking in French, others in English, others in some foreign language,” he says. (Ibid)

Screenshot of BBC article

The BBC report suggests a carefully formulated plan to ensure the safe evacuation of the terrorists. The official explanation was that the deal has been brokered by the US supported Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The US-led coalition “let it happen”, they did not intervene militarily to prevent the exodus and smuggling of the foreign fighters out of Raqqa.

This should come as no surprise. From the very outset in 2014, ISIS-Daesh was supported by the US-led coalition, with the active support of Saudi Arabia. The US and its allies are the State sponsors of the Islamic State (ISIS-Daesh).

Weapons, training, logistics: the ISIS is a US intelligence construct. The ISIS-Daesh terrorists are the foot-soldiers of US-NATO.

The US-led bombings of Iraq and Syria–under the guise of a phony “war on terrorism”– were not directed at ISIS-Daesh. The terrorists were protected by the US led Coalition. The unspoken objective was to kill civilians and destroy the civilian infrastructure of both Syria and Iraq.

Déjà Vu:  

Exodus of ISIS from Raqqa, Syria (2017) vs. Exodus of Al Qaeda “Enemy Combatants” out of  Kundus, Afghanistan (2001)

Is there a pattern in the evacuation of U.S. sponsored terrorists?

Flashback to another US led war. Afghanistan 2001. The objective for the U.S. is ultimately to protect their “intelligence assets”.

The October 2017 ‘Raqqa exodus” bears a canny resemblance to the November 2001 “Getaway” out of Kunduz, ordered by Donald Rumsfeld. In both cases the objective was for the Pentagon and the CIA to organize the escape (and relocation) of US sponsored foreign jihahist fighters.

In late November 2001, according to Seymour M. Hersh, the Northern Alliance supported by US bombing raids took control of the hill town of Kunduz in Northern Afghanistan:

‘[Eight thousand or more men] had been trapped inside the city in the last days of the siege, roughly half of whom were Pakistanis.  Afghans, Uzbeks, Chechens, and various Arab mercenaries accounted for the rest.” (Seymour M. Hersh, The Getaway, The New Yorker, 28 January 2002.

Also among these fighters were several senior Pakistani military and intelligence officers, who had been sent to the war theater by the Pakistani military. The presence of high-ranking Pakistani military and intelligence advisers in the ranks of Taliban/ Al Qaeda forces was known and approved by Washington.

President Bush had intimated: “We’re smoking them out. They’re running, and now we’re going to bring them to justice.” (see CNN, November 26, 2001). They were never smoked out. They were airlifted to safety.

On the orders of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the exodus (airlifting) of Al Qaeda fighters had been facilitated by US forces in liaison with the Pakistan military:

“The Administration ordered the US Central Command to set up a special air corridor to help insure the safety of the Pakistani rescue flights from Kunduz to the northwest corner of Pakistan”

… According to a former high-level American defense official, the airlift was approved because of representations by the Pakistanis that “there were guys- intelligence agents and underground guys-who needed to get out.” (Seymour Hersh, op cit)

In other words, the official story was: it was not our decision:  “we were tricked into it” by the Pakistani ISI.

Out of some 8000 or more men, 3300 surrendered to the Northern Alliance, leaving between 4000 and 5000 men “unaccounted for”. According to Hersh’s investigation, based on Indian intelligence sources, at least 4000 men including two Pakistani Army generals were evacuated. (Ibid)

The same sense of denial prevailed. US officials admitted, however, that

“what was supposed to be a limited evacuation apparently slipped out of control, and, as an unintended consequence, an unknown number of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters managed to join in the exodus.”  (quoted in Hersh op cit)

“Unintended evacuation” of Al Qaeda fighters?

 “Terrorists”  and “Intelligence Assets” 

Compare Seymour Hersh’s account in the “Getaway” out of Kunduz pertaining to the US sponsored evacuation of  hard core Al Qaeda and Taliban fighters to the “Escape” of ISIS-Daesh fighters out of the besieged city of Raqqa in Northern Syria.

The foreign and Pakistani Al Qaeda fighters were flown to North Pakistan, to the areas which were subsequently the object of US drone attacks. Many of these fighters were also incorporated into the two main Kashmiri terrorist rebel groups, Lashkar-e-Taiba (“Army of the Pure”) and Jaish-e-Muhammad (“Army of Mohammed”).

What is the next destination of the foreign fighters who have been evacuated out of Raqqa, with the support of the US Military?

To read the complete BBC report entitled Raqqa’s Dirty Secret,by Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati click here 

Brotherhood, Wahabism: Two Faces of the Same Coin

 

Apr 13, 2012

SYRIAN WAR: AL-BUKAMAL IS LIBERATED. WHAT NOW?

South Front

This analysis originally appeared at southfront.org on November 11, 2017, after the Syrian and Russian defense ministries for the first  time announced the liberation of al-Bukamal. On November 19, the Syrian Arab Army and its allies once again liberated the city from ISIS. Thus, the terrorist group lost its last stronghold in Syria.

The liberation of al-Bukamal become another turning point marking the start of a new phase in the Syrian conflict. ISIS has lost all important cities, which it used to control in Syria, thus becoming just a terrorist group rather than a terrorist state.

The terrorist group still controls some villages in an area between al-Bukamal and Deir Ezzor, a part of the border between Syria and Iraq, a part of the Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Damascus and a chunk of territory near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Many ISIS members are now fleeing the country in an attempt to reach safe havens around the world. The remaining terrorists will be involved in a guerilla war against the Syrian government and US-backed forces.

Now, Syria could be divided into 7 sectors controlled by various parties:

  1. The Syrian government, backed by its allies – Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, controls the biggest part of the country, including the cities of Aleppo, Hama, Homs, Deir Ezzor, Damascus, Latakia, as-Suwayda and Tartus. However, the militant-held pockets inside the government-held area pose a significant security threat. The situation is especially complicated in Eastern Ghouta and the Yarmouk Refugee Camp. The pockets of Bayt Jinn, Jayrud and Rastan are relatively calm.
  2. The situation is complicated in Daraa where Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and its allies are in control of a part of the provincial capital. The Russia-US de-escalation zone agreement in southern Syria allowed the intensity of fighting there to decrease. Despite this, clashes erupt from time to time in Daraa city and near the Golan Heights. Militants in southern Syria are mostly backed by Jordan, the US and Israel. Tel Aviv often uses tensions in the area to justify its strikes against Syrian forces and describes its support to local militants as a humanitarian assistance to the local population. It is interesting to note that Israel has no problems with the ISIS-linked Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, which operates near its forces. The so-called local armed opposition does not seek to fight ISIS there either.
  3. The at-Tanf area on the Syrian-Iraqi border is controlled by the US-led coalition and a few US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) groups. FSA units are concentrated around the US garrison at at-Tanf and in the nearby refugee camp. The US says that it needs this garrison to fight ISIS while in fact it is just preventing Syria and Iraq from using the Damascus-Baghdad highway as a supply line. US forces respond with airstrikes and shelling to any Syrian Arab Army (SAA) attempts to reach at-Tanf.
  4. Northeastern Syria, including the cities of Raqqa, Tabqah, Hasakah and a part of Qamishli, is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Kurdish militias YPG and YPJ are a core of the SDF and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) de-facto controls this area. A notable number of US military facilities and troops in this area are an important factor contributing to the SDF’s confidence. Some aggressive SDF statements against Damascus can serve as an illustration of this fact.
  5. Northwestern Syria is also controlled by the SDF. However, the US influence in this area is lower and local Kurdish militias maintain better military relations with the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance. They also face more pressure from Turkey and its proxies.
  6. Turkey and pro-Turkish militant groups control a chunk of the border area, including al-Bab, Azaz and Jarabulus, in northern Syria. Ankara has a strong position there and pro-Turkish militants have repeatedly clashed with SDF members near Tall Rifat.
  7. Turkish forces are also deployed at the contact line with the SDF in the province of Idlib. However, almost the entire province is still controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). This means that Ankara and the terrorist group have reached a kind of agreement over the deployment of the Turkish troops. Ankara actively uses various militant groups to pressure Kurdish forces, which it sees a part of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PKK operates in Turkey and northern Iraq and has been seeking for a long time to establish an independent Kurdish state there.

Clashes of various intensity between the SAA and HTS have been ongoing in northern and northeastern Hama since October. This clearly shows that the Idlib de-escalation agreement is not working and creates HTS positions in the area, which will be an obvious target for the expected SAA operation after ISIS is driven out from the rest of villages in the Euphrates Valley. According to pro-government sources, the SAA has already started redeploying elite units from Deir Ezzor to Hama.

Experts believe that the mid-term SAA goal there is to further expand buffer zone along the Ithriyah-Khanaser-Aleppo highway and to liberate Abu ad-Duhur. This will allow to shorten frontline and increase a concentration of troops and equipment on the contact line when the so-called opposition decides that it’s time to negotiate.

Another possible hot point is Daraa. Local militants will resume their military activity in the city if they see that their Idlib counterparts have become a target of a large-scale SAA operation.

Now, Russia, the US, Turkey, Iran and Syria are increasing their diplomatic activity in order to find a way, which could allow work to start on developing a final political settlement of the crisis. They all have objective limits to their influence on the ground and some contradictory goals. This complicates the situation, especially amid a lack of strategic vision from the US which, according even to American experts, has no long-term strategy for Syria. The US elites and their Israeli and Saudi counterparts are especially dissatisfied with the strengthened position of Hezbollah and Iran.

If the sides are not able to find common ground in the nearest future, the conflict may easily give rise to a new round of violence.

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“Al Raqqa after Boukamal” is the equation of the next stage الرقة بعد البوكمال معادلة المرحلة المقبلة

“Al Raqqa after Boukamal” is the equation of the next stage

نوفمبر 7, 2017

Written by Nasser Kandil,الرقة بعد البوكمال معادلة المرحلة المقبلة

What has happened in the Iraqi Kurdistan through the conformation of the secession project was not mere a response to the obstinacy of the head of the Kurdish region in Iraq Masoud Al-Barazani and his personal ambitions. The Iranian position which was interpreted through the direct involvement in overthrowing the Kurdish secession was not mere a defense of  the Iranian national security as in the case of Turkey which Iran played a role in reassuring and mobilizing it, Iran has behaved at the climax of the escalation with Washington on the basis of conviction that the Kurdish secession is the most important test of the balances of power between it and the America, it said to Russia which was behaving cautiously towards the Kurdish movement that it will wage the battle of overthrowing the secession till the end no matter what  the cost will be.

The results which based on the confrontation with the project of the secession have increased the Iranian certainty that the US escalation by proxy and the playing at the brink of the abyss are just a psychological warfare, moreover, the rapid collapse of the secession project has proven the Iranian equation which based on the fact that the reason of the falling of the areas by the US project is because those who are supposed to confront are evading from it, because they thought that they would face a US war if they did the opposite, Iran wanted to prove the contrary  to those that if they encourage and resist in the confrontation, then America will retreat in avoidance of the confrontation, and this is what has happened.

The Iranians approach the file of the Kurds of Syria from the same perspective, they think that the excessive use of the Kurdish title by America in Syria to deny the role of the Syrian army in its control against the domination of ISIS has reached to an end that is no longer tolerated, and that the protection of the unity of Syria and its sovereignty and opening the file of the US military illegitimate presence  in Syria under the title of the war on ISIS will fall after the liberation of Boukamal. The Americans must be aware that there will be no longer presence for the Kurdish coverage which they want to hide behind in order to justify further illegal and illegitimate presence in Syria, and to impose an objective division of Syria, Therefore, the Iranian equation which was presented to the allies and got their conviction and acceptance in coordination with the Syrian country is based on the title “ Raqqa after Boukamal and Kirkuk”.

The message which the advisor of the Imam Ali Khamenei for the international affairs Dr. Ali Velayati has addressed from Beirut under the title of Raqqa after Boukamal and his affirmation that the axis of the resistance will liberate Raqqa after the liberation of Boukamal is not mere a message, however, it is an announcement of pragmatic position that summarized what is going to happen later. The content of the message does not restrict on addressing the Kurds of Syria to take the lesson from the experience of the Kurds of Iraq, and from the experience of following the American deception. Also it is not a message to the Americans alone that the time of their departure from Syria is close and that they have to pack their bags, however it is a message to the Turks who share with the Russians and the Iranians different sites, to take into consideration that the Syrian country will not share its sovereignty neither with countries nor with groups, so the one who wants to seize some of the Syrian geography under his control as an area of influence has to put into his consideration that he will be on a date with a confrontation with the axis of the resistance soon, so it is better to prepare himself to withdraw.

Soon, Syria will be under a unilateral control of its army, this is the most important outcome of the meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and Al Imam Alkhamenei which was interpreted by the declaration of Velayati. This is the promise of the allies to Syria and its president; there is no bargaining on that even from an enemy or a friend.

Translated by Lina Shehadeh,

الرقة بعد البوكمال معادلة المرحلة المقبلة

نوفمبر 4, 2017

ناصر قنديل

الرقة بعد البوكمال معادلة المرحلة المقبلة

– ما جرى في كردستان العراق بمواجهة مشروع الانفصال لم يكن مجرد ردّ على عناد رئيس الإقليم الكردي في العراق مسعود البرزاني وطموحاته الشخصية، والموقف الإيراني الذي ترجم انخراطاً مباشراً في إسقاط الانفصال الكردي لم يكن مجرد دفاع عن الأمن الوطني الإيراني، كما هي الحال بالنسبة لتركيا، التي لعبت إيران دوراً في طمأنتها واستنهاضها، لقد تصرّفت إيران في ذروة التصعيد بينها وبين واشنطن على خلفية القناعة بأنّ الانفصال الكردي هو الاختبار الأهمّ لموازين القوة بينها وبين الأميركيين، وقالت لروسيا التي كانت تتصرف بحذر تجاه الحركة الكردية، إنها ستخوض معركة إسقاط الانفصال حتى النهاية مهما كانت الكلفة.

– النتائج التي ترتّبت على المواجهة مع مشروع الانفصال زادت اليقين الإيراني بأنّ التصعيد الأميركي بالوكالة واللعب على حافة الهاوية ليسا إلا حرباً نفسية، والانهيار السريع لمشروع الانفصال ثبّتا المعادلة الإيرانية القائمة على اعتبار أنّ المناطق التي تسقط بيد المشروع الأميركي إنما تسقط لأنّ مَن يُفترض بهم المواجهة يتهرّبون منها تفادياً للمواجهة، وظناً منهم بأنهم سيلاقون حرباً أميركية إنْ فعلوا العكس. وأرادت إيران أن تثبت لهؤلاء بأنهم إذا تشجّعوا وقاموا بواجبهم في المواجهة فإنّ أميركا هي مَن سيتراجع تفادياً للمواجهة، وهذا ما حصل.

– يقارب الإيرانيون ملف أكراد سورية بهذه الرؤية، ويعتقدون أنّ الاستعمال المفرط للعنوان الكردي من الجانب الأميركي في سورية للالتفاف على دور الجيش السوري في بسط سيطرته على أراضيه بوجه سيطرة داعش، قد بلغ حداً لم يعُد يجوز السكوت عنه، وأنّ صيانة وحدة سورية وسيادتها، وفتح ملف الوجود العسكري الأميركي غير الشرعي في سورية، والمتغطّي زوراً بعنوان الحرب على داعش، سيسقط مع تحرير البوكمال، ويجب أن يدرك الأميركيون أنه لا بقاء للغطاء الكردي الذي يريدون الاحتماء به لتبرير المزيد من البقاء غير القانوني وغير الشرعي في سورية، ويسعون لفرض تقسيم موضوعي لسورية عبره، لذلك تقوم المعادلة الإيرانية التي عرضت على الحلفاء ولقيت قناعتهم وقبولهم، بالتنسيق مع الدولة السورية، على عنوان، الرقة بعد البوكمال وكركوك.

– الرسالة التي وجّهها مستشار الإمام علي الخامنئي للشؤون الدولية الدكتور علي ولايتي من بيروت، تحت عنوان الرقة بعد البوكمال، وتأكيده أنّ محور المقاومة سيتجه لتحرير الرقة بعد تحرير البوكمال، ليست مجرد رسالة بل إعلان موقف عملاني، يختصر ما سيجري لاحقاً، ولا يقتصر مضمون الرسالة على مخاطبة أكراد سورية بأخذ العبرة من تجربة أكراد العراق واستخلاص معاني السير وراء الخداع الأميركي، ولا هي رسالة للأميركيين فقط، بأنّ زمن رحيلهم من سورية قد اقترب، وأنّ عليهم البدء بحزم حقائبهم، وحسب، بل هي رسالة للأتراك الذين يتشارك معهم الروس والإيرانيون في نقاط ومواقع مختلفة، لكن يجب أن يأخذوا في حسابهم أنّ الدولة السورية لن تتشارك في السيادة مع أحد، لا دولاً ولا جماعات، وأنّ من يريد اقتطاع بعض الجغرافيا السورية تحت سيطرته كمنطقة نفوذ، عليه أن يضع في حسابه أنه سيكون قريباً على موعد مع مواجهة ضد محور المقاومة، والأفضل له الاستعداد للانسحاب.

– سورية قريباً تحت سيطرة أحادية لجيشها، وهذا هو أهمّ ما نجم عن لقاء الرئيس الروسي فلاديمير بوتين والإمام الخامنئي وجاءت ترجمته بتصريح ولايتي، وهذا عهد الحلفاء لسورية ورئيسها، ولا مساومة على ذلك لا مع عدو ولا نصف صديق.

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SYRIA WAR REPORT – OCTOBER 16, 2017: GOVERNMENT FORCES LIBERATE CITY OF MAYADIN FROM ISIS

South Front

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces, supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces, have liberated the strategic city of Mayadin from ISIS terrorists in the province of Deir Ezzor. The SAA has also taken control of Buqrus Fawqani and Buqrus Tahtani northwest of the city.

Mayadin had been one of the key ISIS strongholds in the Euphrates Valley. Without it, the terrorist group has little chances to resist government troops securing the western bank of the Euphrates between Deir Ezzor and Mayadin.

According to pro-government sources, the SAA is now preparing to cross to the eastern bank of the Euphrates near Mayadin and to advance towards the Omar oil fields, which are also a target of the advance of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Meanwhile, the SDF officially reached a deal with ISIS in Raqqah city. SDF spokesman Talal Selo, 275 Syrian ISIS fighters along with their family members left the city under the deal. According to another SDF spokesman, Mostafa Bali, “the final batch of fighters” left the city via buses overnight into October 15.

Selo added that “no more than 200-300” foreign ISIS members remained in Raqqah. They will not be allowed to evacuate.

Following the official statement, SDF-linked media changed the narrative saying that the SDF didn’t allow ISIS members to left the city and they will be interrogated and prosecuted. However, it is not clear if the media refers the evacuated group or another group of ISIS members that could surrender to the SDF.

On October 15, the SDF declared a final phase of its offensive in Raqqah and captured al-Barid district. According to pro_SDF experts, Raqqah will soon fall into the hands of the US-backed force.

SYRIAN FORCES CLEARING EUPHRATES BANK BETWEEN DEIR EZZOR AND MAYADIN FROM ISIS (MAPS)

16.10.2017

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) Tiger Forces and their allies are clearing a bank of the Euphrates between the cities of Deir Ezzor and Mayadin.

According to pro-government sources, the Tiger Forces liberated the villages of Zabari, Sa’lu and Tub from ISIS and deployed in a striking distance from al Muhassan.

Earlier, the SAA took control of Buqrus Fawqani and Buqrus Tahtani in the same area east of al-Mayadin.

As soon as government troops secure this part of the eastern Euphrates bank, they will likely start developing its advance on the western bank of the river with a clear aim to capture the strategic Omar oil fields north of al-Mayadin.

SYRIAN ARMY TAKES CONTROL OF AL-HUSAYNIYAH AND SAFIRAH AT-TAHTANIYAH NORTH OF DEIR EZZOR, ADVANCES INSIDE CITY

16.10.2017

Syrian Army Takes Control Of Al-Husayniyah And Safirah at-Tahtaniyah North Of Deir Ezzor, Advances Inside City
FILE IMAGE: mod.gov.sy

The Syrain Arab Army (SAA) and the National Defense Forces (NDF) have liberated the village of Al-Husayniyah from ISIS north of Deir Ezzor city, on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, the Syrian Defense Ministry said on October 16.

Separtely, pro-government sources claimed that the SAA and the NDF have liberated the village of Safirah at-Tahtaniyah on the eastern bank of the river.

If the advance in Safirah at-Tahtaniyah is confirmed, this will be a notable signal of the expected full collapse of the ISIS defense north of Deir Ezzor city.

Meanwhile, government forces have continued advancing against ISIS terrorists inside the city. Especially intense clashes took place near  Deir Ezzor’s Workers’ District. A fighting was also reported in Al-Rusafa and Al-Rashidiyah.

IN MAPS: SYRIAN ARMY’S GAINS NORTH AND EAST OF DEIR EZZOR CITY

16.10.2017

Syrian government forces have liberated the village of al-Husayniyah north of Deir Ezzor city and the villages of Buqrus Fawqani and Buqrus Tahtani east of the city.

BREAKING: Syrian Army captures four ISIS-held villages south of Deir Ezzor

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (7:00 P.M.) – Minutes ago, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) scored a huge advance on the western bank of the Euphrates River after its elite assault troops overwhelmed ISIS at numerous points adjacent to the M4 Highway in southern Deir Ezzor.

Following the liberation of nearby two villages the day before, troops under the direct command of Suheil Al-Hassan took control over Zabqri, Saalo, Al-Aliyat and Al-Tob on Monday afternoon.

Due to this development, the SAA has isolated a handful of ISIS-controlled villages between Al-Mayadeen and Deir Ezzor Airbase. This pocket is expected to be eliminated by the Tiger Forces in the coming days, sources inform Al-Masdar News.

Meanwhile, heavy clashes engulfed the provincial capital of Deir Ezzor throughout Monday as the SAA began the next stage of the ‘Big Dawn’ offensive.

According to Al-Masdar News field reporter Ibrahim Joudeh, the SAA is making rapid gains inside Deir Ezzor as we speak after breaking through ISIS’ first line of defense in the city.

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SYRIAN DEMOCRATIC FORCES SPOKESMAN OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED DEAL WITH ISIS IN RAQQA

South Front

Syrian Democratic Forces Spokesman Officially Confirmed Deal With ISIS In Raqqa

On October 14, a spokesman for the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) confirmed to Reuters that the SDF has reached a deal with ISIS that allows ISIS fighters to withdraw from the city.

Meanwhile, SDF spokesperson Talal Silo told Reuters that foreign fighters would be left behind “to surrender or die”.

However, Omar Alloush, a member of Raqqa’s Civil Council, said that the evacuation will include foreign fighters, and it will take place overnight into October 15.

The Kurdish Hawar News Agency also confirmed the deal between the SDF and ISIS. According to Hawar, the SDF agreed to the deal upon a request from local Arabian tribes of Raqqa.

Hawar added that the tribes released an official statement demanding the SDF to accept the deal in order to save the civilians who are trapped in the ISIS-held areas inside the city.

Earlier, the US-led coalition released a statement saying that the SDF agreed with an unknown side to evacuate some “people” from Raqqah. From the very begining, it was clear that these “people” are ISIS members.

Local sources confirmed earlier that dozens of buses gathered near the city to evacuate ISIS fighters and their families to ISIS-held areas in Deir Ezzor governorate according to the deal with the SDF.

If the deal includes the evacuating the foreign ISIS fighters from Raqqa city, the battle of Raqqa will likely end within the next 48 hours. If not, ISIS foreign fighters might be able to resist SDF for few days before they are fully eliminated.

Syria War Report – October 12, 2017: Syrian Army Pressures ISIS Units In Deir Ezzor City

South Front

he Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies are developing momentum against ISIS north and east of Deir Ezzor city.

Government forces have secured the al-Siyasah bridge and further advanced to tighten the siege on ISIS units inside the northern part of Deir Ezzor. Separately, the SAA Tiger Forces captured Balum, Balout, the Electrical sub station, the Taybah school and other points in al-Mayadin city.

Local sources report that the Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces are actively bombing ISIS targets across the entire Deir Ezzor countryside.

On October 11, 40 members of the US-backed militant group, Ahmad al-Abdo Forces, surrendered to the SAA in southeastern Syria. The militants, including their commander Abu Dujana, had been deployed within US-led coalition forces at the at-Tanf garrison.

The militants reportedly handed over their weapons to the SAA and provided info about US forces in at-Tanf. In turn, they got a free passage towards Eastern Qalamun area mostly controlled by Jaish al-Islam branch that has a ceasefire deal with government forces.

Pro-government experts believe that more defections from the US-controlled at-Tanf base is expected in the near future because it lost all its strategic value when the SAA reached the border with Iraq north of it and reached Deir Ezzor city.

On October 12, clashes continued between the SAA and ISIS near al-Qaryatayn city. Earlier, government forces retook from ISIS an area south of the city and secured all hills overlooking it.

An SAA operation to take back al-Qaryatayn is expected soon.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have further advanced at the ash-Shaddaday-al-Busayran road and seized Muwayli and Kabbar villages. As soon as the US-backed force secures the entire road, it will be able to storm al-Busayran itself and to develop momentum in the direction of the Omar oil fields.

In Raqqah city, negotiations continued between US-backed forces and ISIS over terms and conditions of possible withdrawal deal for the terrorist group’s members, according to pro-opposition sources. Separately, a fighting was ongoing near the national hospital in the city center.

If the sides reach no deal, the battle for Raqqah will continue with renewed vigour.

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SYRIAN ARMY FACES ISIS COUTNER-ATTACKS FROM AREA CONTROLLED BY US SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES, SDF – RUSSIAN MOD

Syrian Army Faces ISIS Coutner-Attacks From Area Controlled By US Special Operations Forces, SDF - Russian MoD

The Syrian Arab Army 5th Assault Corps’ ISIS Hunters are in the Deir Ezzor area

19.09.2017

Syrian government forces have faced fierce ISIS counter-attacks from an area controlled by the US Special Operations Forces and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the eastern bank of the Euphrates, north of Deir Ezzor city, spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, Major-General Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.

“The closer the end of the ISIS in Syria, the more clear it is who is really fighting with the ISIS and who has been imitating this fight for three years. So, if the US-led international coalition does not want to fight against terrorism in Syria, let it just be out of the way of those who are doing it continuously and effectively,” Konashenkov told media.

The Russian general said that over the past day, Syrian government forces crossed the Euphrates River and expanded “the seized bridgehead” east of Deir Ezzor city.

He added that despite a tough resistance of ISIS members, government forces have liberated 60km2 on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. The most serve ISIS counter-attacks and shelling have been conducted from the northern direction where the SDF and the US-led coalition operate.

According to Syrian commanders’ reports from the front line, the Syrian Army encounters the most severe counterattacks and fire from the northern direction. That is, where SDF forces and US special operations units are located, who are allegedly administering medical aid to these militants instead of liberating Raqqa. You don’t have to possess profound military knowledge to see consistency in all these ‘coincidences’,” the spokesperson said.

Konashenkov added that water discharges from the Euphrates dams controlled by the US-backed forces hamper the government advance north of Deir Ezzor.

Thus, the water situation on the Euphrates has deteriorated dramatically in the past 24 hours. As soon as the Syrian government troops began to cross the river, water level in the Euphrates rose within hours and the current velocity nearly doubled to two meters per second,” he said. “Since there have been no rains, the only source of such changes in the water situation is man-induced water discharge at dams upstream the Euphrates. These facilities are held by opposition groups controlled by the US-led coalition.

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Syria, Turkey and the Kurds: A Devil’s Triangle that only Russia can navigate

Source

As ISIS crumbles in Syria, all eyes should be on America’s inconsistent but growing relations with Syrian Kurds.

Throughout the conflict in Syria, the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian/Iranian and Hezbollah allies have tended to operate in different regions vis-a-vis the Kurdish led US proxy army known as the SDF.

Over the last year however, this has increasingly changed. As Syrian forces along with their allies continue to liberate Deir ez-Zor city which has been under ISIS occupation for the last three years, reports have surfaced indicating that a faction of the SDF is only a few short kilometres away from Syrian forces as the SDF approaches the city from the north.

 With the SDF and the Syrian Arab Army now effectively competing for territory which will be inevitably re-gained from ISIS by either force, the previous unspoken agreement that the SDF would more or less have free reign east of the Euphrates, might no longer apply. In many respects this is now a question of ‘when’ rather than ‘if.

As Deir ez-Zor lies just west of the Euphrates and with Syria intent on exercising its right to liberate “ever inch of Syria”, the question now is, what will the major foreign powers do to either prevent or encourage conflict between Kurdish militants and the Syrian Arab Army?

Before exploring the answers to such questions, it is necessary to understand that according to international law, only the Syrian Arab Army and its allies have any right to operate in Syria. The United States remains in Syria in contravention to international law, but because the US shows little respect for international law, it is necessary to explore the various scenarios bearing this unfortunate situation in mind.

The first major test of how the SAA and SDF would interact with one another when coming face to face on the battlefield, took place in June of 2017.

At that time, the United States illegally shot down a Syrian fighter jet which the US alleges fired on SDF positions. Syria however claims that it was firing on ISIS/Daesh positions.

As geo-political expert Andrew Korybko pointed out at the time,

“These narratives aren’t mutually exclusive, and it’s very possible that the SAA rightly conflates the SDF with Daesh due to the Kurds’ documented connection with this terrorist organization. Moreover, the Kurds are ethnically cleansing Arabs from Raqqa en mass in order to pave the way for the city’s annexation to their unilaterally declared “federation” after its forthcoming capture, so it makes sense why Damascus could implicitly recognize them as terrorists without publicly declaring them as such for reasons of sensitive political optics”.

Russia responded furiously to America’s downing of the Syrian jet and issued a statement saying that any US aircraft flying west of the Euphrates were now legitimate targets. Since then, confrontations between Russia’s Syrian partners and the US have generally de-escalated. The establishment of a joint Russian-Jordanian-US de-escalation zone in south western Syria is a further proof that part of America’s policy on Syria amounts to little more than ‘where you can’t beat them, quietly join them’.

The Russian statement regarding US aircraft being targeted seemed to enshrine the idea that areas west of the Euphrates were the Syria/Russian/Iranian sphere on influence while those to the east were the US/Kurdish sphere of influences.

Now however, that those spheres are set to literally collide in Deir ez-Zor, the questions is ‘what now’?

The answer to this lies in examining what each side wants or is perceived as wanting from the aftermath of the assured defeat of ISIS in eastern Syria.

Syria: 

Syria wants something that is simple, legal and obvious: the full liberation of its territory and the expulsion of all terrorists as well as unwelcome state actors, primarily the United States but also Turkey.

Any further discussions between Kurds and Damascus about regional autonomy can only be a post-war political discussion so far as Syria is concerned. Syria has grave concerns about the anti-Arab racism among many Kurds as Damascus ought to have. It is ultimately the duty of the Syrian government to protect its citizens from discrimination or anti-Arab propaganda.  Even so, Damascus sees this as a civil issue rather than an issue of international conflict.

Turkey: 

While Turkey’s continued presence in Syria, particularly in Idlib is still deeply unwelcome by Damascus, the nature of Turkey’s goals in Syria have changed dramatically over the last several months.

Most crucially, in August of this year, Turkey quietly withdrew support for terrorist factions (the so-called opposition) in Syria. While some expected this to pave the way for rapprochement between Damascus and Ankara, who prior to the conflict had no serious disagreements, both the Syrian and Turkish Presidents have recently rejected such claims.

For Syria, this is a matter of dignity. Turkey had, for most of the conflict been an effective state actor illegally occupying Syrian land and training terrorist groups who operated in some of the most strategically important parts of western, northern and north-central Syria.

For Turkey, it is a matter of pride also, as Turkey’s ruling elite have spent years positioning themselves in opposition to the ruling Arab Socialist Ba’ath party in Syria and all it stood for.

That being said, Turkey’s mission in Syria is now to prevent the consolidation of Kurdish militias. This itself is done in the service of Turkey’s geo-strategic goal of preventing any Kurdish state from rising on its borders.

This has led Ankara to grow closer to Iran which also rejects the idea of a Kurdish state in the Arab world as it would set a precedent for Kurds in Iran to threaten the territorial integrity of Iran itself.

At the same time, Turkey’s President Erodgan who previously had serious disagreements with Russia over Syria, has now said that Turkey and Russia’s position on Syria is now more or less the same.

Erdogan stated this morning,

“Currently, the process in Idlib is being run as we agreed with Russia. There are no disputes with Russia on it. No controversy was brought to the agenda during our meeting with Iran”.

While Turkey and Syria will likely not directly cooperate against the Kurds any time soon, depending on US aims for its Kurdish proxies, one can certainly not rule out such a thing happening in the future.

Turkey and Syria will perhaps never be friends any time soon, but they may likely have a common enemy and in this sense, it will be in the interests of both Damascus and Ankara to work to preserve the territorial integrity of Syria.

The United States: 

Ever since Donald Trump took office, the modus operandi of the US in Syria has shifted from using jihadists to foment regime change against the legitimate government in Damascus, to one of using Kurdish forces as proxies to create a would-be sphere of influence in parts of eastern and northern Syria.

It is still less than clear what the US intends to do with this sphere of influence, if it even attains it. The fact that the SDF is having a much harder time fighting ISIS in Raqqa vis-a-vis the SAA in the more fortified Deir ez-Zor, is testament to the fact that ultimately while the SDF are better fighters than the jihdaists, they still are far less effective a fighting force than the legitimate Syrian Arab Army.

Should the SDF conquer significant amounts of territory in Syria, the US would be in a position to argue for either hyper-Kurdish autonomy, beyond that which has already been established or otherwise, argue for the establishment of a Kurdish state.

Here though, matters get more difficult for the US. While Washington and Ankara are increasingly at odds over foreign policy, Turkey is still a member of NATO. Furthermore, Turkey’s army is second largest in NATO, only America’s standing army is larger.

If the US pushed for a Kurdish state in Syria, what remains of the US alliance with Turkey would essentially be over. It is still not clear if this is something which concerns the Trump administration. This might be due to the foreign policy chaos which dominates Washington or because the US has designs on Turkey and Erdogan which may represent something resembling a soft regime change ambition in Ankara.

Turkey is all too aware of America’s odd behaviour vis-a-vis Turkey and no country in the region wants to see civil war in Turkey, much though the alt-media in parts of the secular and Shi’a Arab world and even among some genuine Russians might indicate something contrary to this.

The other problem the US has is the Kurds in Iraq. Ironically, the US is now less inclined to support Kurdish separatism in Iraq than Washington was during the Presidency of Saddam Hussein. Under Saddam, the US was happy to weaken Iraq in any way possible and Kurdish separatism was a clear option.

Now, the US is playing something of a ridiculous balancing act in Iraq where it is trying to placate historically decent (though often inconsistent) relations with Iraqi Kurds while trying to maintain America’s substantial (however totally immoral) investment in Iraq which aims to see Iraq’s borders preserved. If the Kurds in Iraq do declare unilateral independence, the pro-Iran sentiment which is already strong in Baghdad will only grow stronger as Ian’s position vis-a-vis Iraqi Kurds is consistent as are Iran’s increasingly political fraternal bonds to the majority Shi’a population of Iraq.

America could still exploit political tensions between Iraqi and Syrian Kurds in order to say ‘yes’ to a Kurdish state in Syria but ‘no’ to one in Iraq, however, even by the standards of American hypocrisy, a great deal of geo-political tightrope walking would have to be embarked upon in order to achieve this. Wider regional blow-back against the US, from all directions, would nevertheless, be inevitable.

Russia: 

Russia is unique among all of the aforementioned powers as Russia has acceptable to good and historically very good relations with the Kurds of the Middle East. Russia of course also has good relations with Iran, Turkey, Syria, Israel (the only entity in the region which covertly and sometimes overtly supports a Kurdish state), Palestine and to a degree the United States. In other words, Russia can talk to all parties in the Middle East, including and especially those who do not speak to each other.

Russia is already known to be a go-between in respect of the SDF/US and Syria. The fact that there haven’t been more conflicts between the Kurds and Syrian Arab Army as well as between Turkey and the Kurds, is a testament to just how effective Russian diplomacy is.

The other side of this coin is that because Russia refuses to act as a puppet master of any one faction in the Middle East, both out of respect for international law and because Russia does not seek to appear as favouring any one faction, the aforementioned interests of each groups will inevitably collide and short of Russia acting as brazenly in Syria as America did and to an extent still does in Iraq, there is little Russia can do or will do.

CONCLUSION: 

Ultimately, the Kurds are only as powerful as America and to some degree Israel allows them to be. Every other state in the region is opposed to Kurdish separatism and therefore, should the Kurds seek to unilaterally declare independence in Syria, American aid both militarily and politically, is ultimately the only thing that could even come close to nullifying the position of Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

While Russia officially adopts an agnostic position on a Kurdish state, Russia’s increasingly good relations with Turkey and Iran mean that Russia may quietly shift to one of respectful opposition to a Kurdish state, perhaps arguing instead for a process of dialogue between Damascus and Kurdish rebel leaders. This would not take a great deal of effort to shift form Russia’s existing agnostic position which de-facto applies support for the status quo of regional territorial integrity.

The old reality of Russia using the Kurds as leverage against Turkey and Iran, something which dates back to the 18th century, is increasingly not valid. Turkey’s economic reliance on Russia for example has made it so that Russia has enough leverage against Turkey and also Iran, without resorting to any supine ‘Kurdish threats’. That being said, Russia requires less leverage against either country than it once did and what leverage it does need can be achieved through Russia’s good relations with secular Syria and its often discarded but relevant good relations with hysterically anti-Iran, Tel Aviv.

In this respect, the fate of many countries depends on the fact that a country as powerful as the United States is being run by people who are exploiting the Kurds, but to ends which are as unknown amongst many Americans as they are to everyone else.

Welcome to the Devil’s Triangle.

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