Russian Warplanes Rain Hell On Idlib

South Front

March 15, 2019

On March 13, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces delivered a series of airstrikes on infrastructure of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in the city of Idlib and in its southeastern countryisde. According to reports, at least 16 strikes hit weapon depots, HQs and a jail belonging to the terrorist group.

Opposition sources said that hundreds of prisoners, including dozens persons allegedly linked with the Syrian and Russian intelligence managed to escape the prison after the airstrike. Hayat Tahir al-Sham responded with a wide-scale security operation to trace and capture these people. This operation is still ongoing with varying results.

The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the strikes in Idlib and said that they were coordinated with Turkey. According to the Russian side, the strikes hit depots in which the terrorist group was storing armed unnamed aerial vehicles. The eliminated UAVs were reportedly prepared for an attack on Russia’s Hmeimim airbase.

Despite comments about the coordination with Turkey, in the following days Turkish pro-government and state media released multiple reports accusing the Russians and the Assad government of causing casualties in Idlib.

On March 13, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) claimed that they had uncovered an alleged Hezbollah network in the Golan Heights. The network named by the IDF as “the Golan File” was reportedly led by Hezbollah operative Ali Musa Daqduq on the Syrian side of the contact line in order to prepare attacks on Israel.

The IDF stressed that Daqduq has been a Hezbollah member since 1983. During this period, he reportedly occupied various important posts and was even involved in an attack on a US military base in Iraq’s Karbala in 2007.

The IDF described the alleged Hezbollah network as a serious threat and threatened both Damascus and the Lebanese party with consequences.

On the same day, Israel’s ImageSat International released satellite images showing an alleged Iranian missile compound in Syria. The missiles manufacturing site is reportedly located in Safita.

Regardless of real facts besides these claims, this series of reports looks as a coordinated media campaign. According to experts, its main goal is to justify further Israeli military actions against supposed Iranian targets in Syria and to continue the militarization of the occupied Golan Heights.

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What Can Follow America’s Withdrawal From Syria

December 20, 2018

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

Just before Trump announced that American troops are to leave Syria “immediately”, many compatriots, friends and analysts were wondering what could be the next event that might change the course of future events in northern and eastern Syria. The first reaction to the news of Trump ordering his troops to leave Syria took many by surprise. That said, we have to wait and see if Trump does not wake up tomorrow changing his mind. The reason behind Trump’s decision to withdraw is not very important and as far as this article is concerned, it is irrelevant. If he wants to believe that he is leaving victoriously, that’s fine, for as long as he does leave. That said, the sudden resignation of Mattis clearly indicates that the former top gun does not see it with the same spectacles. Either way, the withdrawal, if it happens, may end up to be a long and protracted process that could take weeks, months and perhaps years, and the manner in which it happens opens the doors for many possibilities and contingencies.

Before Trump’s decision, there were two serious nagging and unresolved problems in Syria standing in the way of ending the war and the commencement of rebuilding the war-ravaged nation; and they were the ongoing presence of the terrorists in Idlib and the presence of American troops in the North East.

Idlib has been the sink hole of Syria, a place where all terrorists ended up. In any major battles, all the way from the battle of Al-Qusayr in 2013 to the most recent battle of Daraa in 2018, all of which ended up with terrorists defeat, negotiations ended up with militants leaving the areas in secure buses and settling in Idlib. No one really knows how many of them are there at the present moment because the overall figure includes those who were bunkered there from the beginning. The estimates run from as low as 10,000 to a high 100,000. The truth is that we don’t know. The figure could well be outside those estimates; but they have to be huge nonetheless.

Regardless of the number, they are the only terrorists left who answer to Erdogan and/or who can be manipulated by him. If they don’t, they either have to fight to death or leave. But given that all of their supply lines come from Turkey, they don’t have much of a choice but to kowtow to the Sultan. The Sultan is using his loyal “troops” as a trump card for two reasons; first of all to continue to have a de-facto military presence in government-controlled areas in Syria, and secondly and most importantly perhaps, is because he regards the terrorists as his Muslim brothers, and it is his “duty” to protect them.

This was why when Russia and Syria were making preparations to go inside Idlib and clean it up, he told them that he could achieve the same objective with negotiations and that they can leave Idlib for him to deal with. A few months later, Russia and Syria are still waiting for him to come true to his word.

So what is Erdogan exactly trying to do in northern Syria and why are Putin and Assad putting up with him?

Before Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria, it was clear that Putin understands Erdogan too well. He knows that Erdogan has an Achilles Heel, two of them in fact; one in each foot. In many previous articles, I have reiterated that Erdogan is incurably both an Islamist and a Turkish nationalist; even though the ideologies are in total contradiction with each other. And even though he is cunning, calculating and prepared to wait for the right moment to act, when it comes to either nationalism or religion, he regresses into a programmed robot that is simply unable to think and act rationally; and Putin has been trying to use this weakness of Erdogan to serve his own objectives.

Erdogan wants to protect Al-Nusra in Idlib, and this is why Putin convinced Assad to leave the Idlib carrot in the hands of Erdogan, not necessarily because he believes that Erdogan will indeed deal with it in the manner that he should, but simply to present to him that Russia regards him like a credible partner.

On the other hand, the simmering tension between Ankara and Washington over the Kurdish issue has been coming to a head for a long time. Ever since America pledged support to Syrian Kurds, Erdogan, in blunt terms, has been clearly saying to his American “allies” that they must choose between Turkey and the Kurds. He has been making serious threats that he will attack Manbij and clean it up from Kurdish militants even if American troops do not leave.

Erdogan’s nationalist Achilles heel has left him in serious discord with his biggest NATO ally.

Given that the nationalist aspect of Erdogan is prepared to risk falling out with NATO and even fighting American troops in Syria just to prevent the creation of an independent Kurdish state south of his border, he was putting himself in the position of the former Afghani Mujahideen who were fighting their own war, and at the same time, serving another purpose for another group. With this stance, Erdogan presented that he was prepared to fight with America at any level, even militarily; because to him, the Kurdish issue was a redline that he was not prepared to see crossed.

For a while, a fair while in fact, Russia and Syria stood back and watched how the American-Turkish impasse morphed. It seemed that any potential fight would not only serve to prevent the creation of an independent Kurdish state, but would also end up with American withdrawal from Syria, and thus serving the objectives of both Syria and Russia.

And even though in theory it is the role and duty of Syria and her army to liberate the North-East from American presence, this course of action did not only risk a major confrontation with NATO and possible widespread bombing all over the country, but this option will also risk a direct confrontation between America and Russia on Syrian soil.

This was the only reason why Russia and Syria seemed prepared to put the resolution of the Idlib dilemma on hold. This is the only rational reason as to why they did not coerce Erdogan to rush into any quick action there before the problem of American presence has been resolved.

Knowingly or inadvertently, the American withdrawal from Syria, if it happens, will take a huge bargaining chip away from the hand of Erdogan in as far as his relationship with Russia is concerned. Erdogan will no longer be able to say to Russia that if Russia wants him to deal with America’s presence, then Russia must accept the deal with Idlib too.

In short and simple terms, the American withdrawal, if it happens, will take the decision of what happens in Idlib out of Erdogan’s hands.

The above sounds good, good for Syria, but the final outcome of this will depend on a number of factors, the most important of which is who is going to replace the American troops and how soon.

If America leaves behind a mercenary army as some speculate, fighting it will be logistically easier in the sense that it will not open the door for direct confrontation with United States army.

Depending on the pattern of withdrawal, the void generated by the retreating American troops can either be filled by the legal national Syrian Arab Army or by an invading Turkish army. But this depends on the location as well as the time table of withdrawal. If America for example leaves Deir Ezzor now, which is in the east and a couple of hundred kilometers south of Turkey’s border, the void will automatically be filled by the Syrian Army. However, if America leaves a northerly position such as Manbij, Turkey will move in before the Syrian Army will have a chance to do so. And such a scenario can spell more problems for Syria.

The problem here is more of a humanitarian nature than territorial, because sooner or later, Turkey will have to leave Syria. That said, if Turkish troops control any Syrian land, even for a short time, they will most likely declare open season on Syrian Kurds, and given Turkish history in dealing with such situations, this can be brutal.

On the other hand, if Erdogan tries to inflict a Kurdish massacre, then his Idlib carrot will turn into a stick lashing his own hide. For years, he had managed to juggle his contradictions of being a nationalist and an Islamist, but he will finally have to choose between his two alter egos. His nationalist ambition of annihilating Kurdish resistance in Syria can endanger his Muslim brothers in Idlib. His split-personality dilemma is finally coming to a head.

Would the man who was prepared to fight America if America supported a Kurdish state be also prepared to fight Russia if Russia attacked his Islamist brothers in Idlib?

Ideally, the best scenario possible for Syria and Russia, a resolution that will uphold Syria’s sovereignty and integrity all the while avert any Kurdish bloodshed, is for Syria and Russia to immediately fill in any gap created by retreating American forces. Erdogan must be kept out of Syria, and once his hands cannot reach Syrian Kurds any longer, he will no longer be able to have any say in Idlib.

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Idlib’s Rebels Unite Under Al Qaeda Banner While Syria Prepares Offensive

By Whitney Webb
Source

DAMASCUS, SYRIA – While the conflict in Syria has largely faded from the news following the Idlib demilitarization agreement primarily brokered by Russia and Turkey in mid-September, a new Syrian military report cited by Al Masdar News claims that the Syrian military is set to begin a long-anticipated, major military offensive to retake the Idlib province from rebel groups.

Though the demilitarization agreement reduced the urgency for an imminent military offensive, rebel groups within Idlib through much of October repeatedly launched significant attacks on nearby government-held areas of Syria, resulting in exchanges of fire between rebels and the Syrian Army and greatly increasing the likelihood that the demilitarization agreement will soon collapse.

As a result, the Syrian Army appears to be moving forward with the offensive it had originally planned to begin in September. In one indication of this plan, over the weekend the Syrian Army closed the Morek crossing between government and rebel-held territory after rebels shelled nearby Syrian army positions. Al Masdar noted that the closure of the crossing is “one of the first steps the Syrian military is taking to prepare for this upcoming security operation in the southeastern countryside of Idlib.”

Al Masdar further noted that the Syrian military’s Tiger Forces, currently deployed at the Abu Dhuhour Military Airport, will be leading the offensive, which has apparently been approved by Syrian and Russian military leadership.

With rebels unified in al Qaeda branch, no “moderate rebels” to protect

While the repeated attacks launched by the rebels following the ostensible “demilitarization” of the province certainly weakened the agreement, another overlooked factor that has made that agreement entirely useless is the recent announcement that all of the rebels in the Idlib province have now united under the single banner of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). HTS is the rebel collective formerly known as al-Nusra Front, which is Syria’s al Qaeda branch.

Last Wednesday, American-born ‘journalist’ and al-Nusra Front “media man” Bilal Abdul Kareem published a video on YouTube in which he interviewed al-Nusra Front/HTS spokesman Abu Khaled. In the video, Khaled states that “all factions” within the Idlib province have now formed a “joint operations room” to plan military operations, increase military readiness, and strike any person who seeks to contact “the [Syrian] regime or its Russian cronies” with an “iron fist.” Khaled added that this cooperation includes “all factions [in Idlib] without exemption” and that this was the “first time” that all Idlib rebels had united under one banner.

Prior to this announcement, HTS/al-Nusra was the largest faction in Syria’s Idlib, with an estimated 10,000 fighters. Over the past few years, it has come to dominate much of Syria’s rebel-held territory, a fact that has even been admitted by mainstream Western media since early last year. Now, as their own spokesman has revealed, this trend has reached its fulfillment, with HTS/al-Nusra now dominating “all factions without exemption” in Syria’s Idlib.

Watch | al-Nusra (HTS) admits that all Idlib rebels now united under al-Nusra control

With all Idlib rebels now operating under the al Qaeda banner, it is no longer possible to make the assertion that the province includes “moderate rebels.” Furthermore, given that the Idlib demilitarization agreement was created with the aim of separating “moderate rebels” from groups like the al-Nusra Front, the fact that the rebel groups have instead united behind al-Nusra eliminates the agreement’s entire purpose for existing: there are no longer any “moderate rebels” in the region to protect, by the rebels’ own admission.

As a result of this development, the Syrian military’s efforts to retake the province have likely been approved by both Syrian and Russian leadership not only to halt the continuing attacks on government-held areas around Idlib but also to target a region now undeniably under the control of a terror organization.

Idlib as buffer for Syria’s U.S.-controlled, resource-rich northeast

Yet, even though HTS itself has admitted that all rebels in Idlib are now under its command, it remains to be seen how the U.S. will react to an upcoming Syrian military offensive targeting the province. Indeed, prior to the demilitarization agreement reached on September 17, the Trump administration threatened to attack Syria for “any attack” it launched against Idlib, whether or not there were allegations of chemical weapon use.

AP_18287422662841_edited.jpg
A White Helmets banner towers over a Syrian rebel checkpoint Idlib, Syria, late Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. Ugur Can | DHA via AP

At the time, top U.S. government officials claimed that militants in the province are “not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator.” However, just a year earlier, the U.S. government’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Daesh, ISIS) Brett McGurk called Syria’s Idlib province “the largest al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11, tied directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri [current leader of al Qaeda],” immediately adding that al Qaeda’s presence in Idlib was a “huge problem” and had been so “for some time.”

It seems unlikely that the U.S. will suddenly admit that it has been protecting an al Qaeda enclave in Idlib. Indeed, the U.S. knows that if the Syrian military succeeds in driving rebels from Idlib, its next target will be the 30 percent of Syrian territory currently occupied by the U.S. in the country’s northeast. That area includes more than 90 percent of all Syria’s oil and gas potential, as well as most of its agricultural and freshwater resources.

Thus, the U.S. will likely do all it can to prevent an upcoming Syrian military offensive in Idlib, with the aim of protecting its own interests in Syria, even if it means backing a force of rebels united in their allegiance to al Qaeda.

 

 

November 5, 2018: Former US-backed Militants Switch Sides In Conflict

South Front

Former members of US-backed militant groups are joining forces with the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, operating in Syria, the WSJ reported on November 1. According to the report, approximately 2,000 fighters had joined the forces and have even started receiving salaries. The WSJ claimed that it was due to losing funding from the US. However, the reason pointed out by local experts is that the US strategy in Syria had lost credit even in the eyes of some of its own proxies. In the period from 2016 to 2018, thousands of former members of militant groups had reconciled with the Damascus government. A notable part of them is now serving in the newly formed units of the Syrian military, for example the Shield of Qalamoun.

On November 3rd, US-led coalition carried out airstrikes on the ISIS-held town of Hajin in the middle Euphrates River Valley, according to the Syrian Baladi News outlet. The attacks resulted in the death of 17 civilians, including women and children. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights reported the airstrikes on ISIS positions, but didn’t report any casualties. The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces suspended its ground operations in the area on October 31st.

On November 3rd, a UN humanitarian aid convoy consisting of dozens of trucks entered the al-Rukban refugee camp near the Syrian-Jordanian border, according to Reuters. This was the first convoy to enter the camp in 9 months. The Russian Reconciliation Center of Opposing Sides announced that a unit of the Russian Military Police and three helicopters of the Russian Aerospace Forces had escorted the convoy. The al-Rukban camp is located within the area occupied by US-led forces.

The Russian military has deployed six RHM-6 chemical reconnaissance vehicles at its observation posts near the Idlib demilitarization zone in Syria, according to Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov who spoke on October 31st. He commented on the possibility of new staged chemical attacks in militant-held areas, with the risk being significantly higher in the province of Aleppo.

On November 3rd, a Syrian Arab Army unit stopped an infiltration attempt of militants from Jaysh al-Izza at the southeastern side of al-Latamia town, towards a military position in the north of Hama city. According to the Syrian Arab News Agency, the military killed and injured many militants.

Furthermore, shelling by Hayat Tahir al-Sham continues in breach of the deconfliction agreement around Idlib. As reported by TASS, 2 servicemen were killed and 13 were injured in militant shelling on Syrian troops positions in the Latakia governorate and the city of Aleppo.

The YPG announced that on October 30th that it had targeted a military vehicle of the Turkish-backed Sham legion between the villages of Khezawiye and Biye in Afrin, killing 5 of its members.

The US on November 5th reimposed all pre-2015 Iran Nuclear Deal sanctions on Iran, plus additional ones. By this move, the Trump administration seeks to re-shape terms and conditions of the Iran nuclear deal as well as to impact the foreign and internal policy of Iran. This move will also have implications on the Syrian conflict creating further tensions between the US-Israeli bloc and Iranian-led forces in the war-torn country.

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«إسرائيل» تصعّد حربها الناعمة هل هي مؤشر لتهدئة ام لانفجار؟

 

نوفمبر 5, 2018

د. عصام نعمان

الصراعات على أشدّها في دول غرب آسيا، من الشواطئ الشرقية للبحر المتوسط الى الشواطئ الجنوبية لبحر قزوين. احتدامُ الصراعات يجد ترجمته في الحرب الناعمة التي تلف دول الاقليم بدرجات متفاوتة من الحدّة. فهل تصعيدها وسيلة ضغط لتوليد حاجة الى التفاوض؟ أم هي مؤشر لإنفجار ينذر بسخونة غير مسبوقة؟

ثمة صراع بين تركيا وسورية في إدلب غرباً وفي الحسكة شرقاً، أمام عيون مترقّبة ومتربّصة لأميركا وروسيا، لكسب ولاء كرد سوريين تتوزّع سياسات وممارسات قياداتهم بين انحياز بعضها الى تركيا وتحالف بعضها الآخر مع أميركا وارتباط غالبية الناس بأرضهم، وبالتالي بموطنهم ودولتهم سورية.

ثمة صراع بين أميركا ومن ورائها «إسرائيل» وإيران، أمام عيون مترقبة في عالم العرب كما في روسيا ودول أوروبا وآسيا، لتأمين مصالح شتى الدول والشعوب المتضرّرة من الحرب التجارية التي تشنّها أميركا ضدّ الجميع والعقوبات التي تخصّ بها إيران أكثر من غيرها.

ثمة صراع على الحقوق والمصالح والمصائر بين «إسرائيل» ومن ورائها أميركا وسورية وقوى المقاومة اللبنانية والفلسطينية التي تدعمها إيران علناً وروسيا ضمناً أمام عيون مترقبة في العالم أجمع.

كلٌ من هذه الصراعات مرشح لمزيد من التصعيد الهادف الى تحقيق تهدئة وبالتالي تسوية سياسية أو إلى إنفجار، وبالتالي إلى انحدار من حال حربٍ ناعمة محتدمة إلى أخرى ساخنة محتملة.

أشدُّ الحروب الناعمة احتداماً وخطورة تلك التي تشنّها «إسرائيل» على الأمة عموماً، وخصوصاً على سورية وإيران وعلى قوى المقاومة العربية التي تجد نفسها في خندق واحد معهما. هذه الحرب جرى تصعيدها بإعتداء «إسرائيل» على سورية وتسبّبها بإسقاط طائرة استطلاع روسية منتصفَ شهر ايلول/ سبتمبر الماضي الأمر الذي أدّى الى قيام روسيا بترفيع قدرات الجيش السوري بتزويده منظومة دفاعٍ جوي من طراز S-300.

إذ حدّت المنظومة الدفاعية المتطورّة وآليات التحرّي والإستطلاع والتصويب الملحقة بها من هامش المناورة أمام سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي، واقترن ذلك بموقف سياسي أشدّ تصلباً، فقد اندلعت في الكيان الصهيوني مناقشة مستفيضة حول ما يمكن او يقتضي عمله لإستعادة فعالية الردع الإسرائيلي.

لعلّ أبلـغ تعبيرٍ عن المناقشة الجدّية الدائرة تجلّى في مقالتين: الاولى لـِ ايال زيسر، نائب رئيس جامعة تل ابيب، في «يسرائيل هيوم» 2018/10/28 والثانية لـِ اوفيك ريمر، الباحث في معهد دراسات الأمن القومي، «مباط عال» 2018/10/23 .

يرى زيسر، خلافاً لإدعاءات الناطقين العسكريين، ان لا عمليات لسلاح الجو الإسرائيلي في السماء السورية بعد قيام الروس بتزويد الجيش السوري منظومة S-300، وانّ روسيا لا تعتبر إيران تهديداً وانّ وجودها في سورية لا يشكّل مشكلة لها، وانّ إيران ما زالت تالياً موجودة في سورية وتتجذّر. لمواجهة هذا الواقع يدعو زيسر «إسرائيل» إلى «أن تفكر من جديد في تغيير التوجّه بالعودة الى سياسات الماضي … وأساسُها تدفيع ثمن باهظ ليس فقط للضيف إيران بل ايضاً للمضيف، أيّ بشار الأسد».

ريمر يرى أنّ حزب الله أفلح في ترسيخ معادلة ردعٍ في مواجهة «إسرائيل» بعدما نجح، باعتراف رئيس الإستخبارات العسكرية، بإقامة مشروع إنتاج صواريخ في لبنان وتحويلها الى نماذج أكثر دقة في التصويب، وبالتالي اكثر فعالية. وإذ يؤكد ريمر أنّ أسلوب الردّ الإسرائيلي في هذه المرحلة لم يؤدّ الى حمل المجتمع الدولي ولا إيران ولا لبنان على وقف مشروع حزب الله لإنتاج الصواريخ الدقيقة، فإنّ «إسرائيل» «ستضطر الى المجازفة من أجل خلق تهديد موثوق به والتلميح الى تصميمها على إزالة الخطر الاستراتيجي من خلال توجيه إنذارات تتضمّن تهديداً واضحاً بالقيام بعملية عسكرية في لبنان، أو بضربة وقائية ضدّ مواقع الإنتاج المعروفة في أراضيه مع ما يعنيه ذلك من مخاطر تصعيد يؤدّي الى مواجهة عسكرية واسعة».

زيسر وريمر يلتقيان، إذاً، على ضرورة قيام «إسرائيل» بتدفيع عدوّها، حزب الله، كما «المضيفَيْن»، لبنان وسورية، ثمناً باهظاً لإستضافته. فهل حكومة نتنياهو ورئيس أركان جيشها الجديد الجنرال افيف كوخافي في وارد اعتماد هذه «النصيحة» الخطيرة؟

ظاهر الحال يشير الى العكس. فنتنياهو ما زال حريصاً ومنشغلاً بالحصول على موعد للإجتماع ببوتين رغم تهرّب الرئيس الروسي منه بشكلٍ ملحوظ. غير انّ عدم اللقاء مع بوتين لا يمنع رئيس الحكومة الإسرائيلية من العمل والمناورة في مجالات أخرى. فقد أفاد تقرير تلفزيوني بثته قناة «حاداشوت» الاسرائيلية انّ الشبكات السيبرانية الإستراتيجية الإيرانية تعرّضت قبل أيام لهجوم بعد ساعات من كشف الدولة العبرية إشراكها الدانمارك في معلومات عن «مؤامرة» إيرانية للقضاء على معارضين إيرانيين على الأراضي الدانماركية ما أدّى الى قيام كوبنهاغن باستدعاء سفيرها في طهران.

التقرير التلفزيوني الإسرائيلي تساءل أيضاً: «هل تذكرون فيروس «سنكسنت» الذي اخترق حواسيب الكومبيوتر القطاع النووي الإيراني؟» وكان الجنرال سردار غلام زاده جلالي، رئيس وكالة الدفاع المدني في إيران، صرّح بأنّ بلاده عطّلت نسخة جديدة من «سنكسنت». وقبل ذلك، أقرّ الجنرال جلالي بأن هاتف الرئيس حسن روحاني تعرّض للتنصت وانه جرى تزويده هاتفاً لا يمكن التنصت عليه.

ترى، هل استجابت القيادة السياسية والعسكرية الإسرائيلية لدعوة زيسر وريمر الى شنّ ضربة وقائية ضدّ أعداء «إسرائيل»؟ ام هل تراها قامت بتصعيد حربها الناعمة المحسوبة على نحوٍ قابلٍ للتحويل إلى تهدئة أو إلى انفجار؟

ربما، لكن من الواضح انّ الضربة السيبرانية الاسرائيلية جاءت محدودة الفعالية بدليل انّ إيران واجهتها دونما أضرار تذكر، وإلاّ لكانت تل أبيب تغنّت بها بضجيجٍ وصخب…

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FAKED CONCERN: HALEY & CORPORATE MEDIA BLEATING ABOUT IDLIB CIVILIANS, IGNORE TERRORISTS’ PRESENCE

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Partisangirl’s tweet here

Nikki Haley, the hypocritical US Ambassador to the UN, mistakenly thinks she can dictate – from New York City, far from the terrorists which her country supports – that the Syrian army cannot fight and eradicate al-Qaeda in Idlib.

Her, and other American figures’ words, come with faked concern over the lives of Syrian civilians.

This is particularly ironic given that the US-led coalition, illegally in Syria, destroyed the Syrian city of Raqqa and killed untold numbers of civilians along the way, in their fake fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) – a pretext which has only time and again strengthened IS in Syria. Raqqa remains uninhabitable, and even today corpses are still being unearthed.

Haley and the Western corporate media have been bleating in chorus about Idlib and the civilians there, deliberately ignoring the presence of Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorists occupying the governorate and surrounding areas in Aleppo and Hama governorates.

They ignore, too, the reality of life in areas which were once occupied by these terrorists: the torture, imprisonment, maiming, assassination, and starvation endured by the civilian population at the hands of these extremists and paid mercenaries.

 

The other reality Haley and co-regime change mouthpieces whitewash is that once these areas are liberated of Al-Qaeda, Ahrar al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, and the myriad other extremist terrorist groups, life gets back to normal, schools reopen, cities and towns repopulate, ancient traditions resume as they have for thousands of years in this cradle of civilization.

Occupation, Liberation, Peace and Stability

With the exception of Deir ez-Zor, and smaller hamlets throughout the Syrian countryside, I’ve been to every major city and town liberated by Syria and allies from Al-Qaeda and co-terrorists. They are all now in peace, with many of the areas thriving, rebuilding, and the other areas at least in peace without the sadistic rule of terrorists.

In June 2014, I went to the old city of Homs just one month after the reconciliation deals that saw Al-Qaeda and Free Syrian Army terrorists bused out of the city. This beautiful historic old city and its ancient churches were in shambles. Some of that was due to the Syrian army fighting the terrorists, but most of it was due to the terrorists burning, looting, and booby trapping the buildings they had occupied.

Indeed, a resident of the old city, Abu Nabeel, took me around, showing me the destruction, vandalization, burning and looting that terrorists did before leaving Old Homs, including leaving bombs in residents’ homes, to inflict yet more loss of life even after the terrorists had left. But also while there in June 2014, I saw residents and youth volunteers scraping the debris, painting hopeful art on walls, beginning the rebuilding process.

Also in June 2014, two months after its liberation, I went to the ancient village of Maaloula, which had been occupied or targeted by al-Qaeda and co-terrorists from September 2013 to April 2014. They systematically destroyed, looted, burned or stole ancient relics and vandalized historic buildings. In summer 2016 and more recently in September 2018, I returned to find life pulsing during the Celebration of the Holy Cross, a nearly-1700 year old celebration interrupted only during the terrorists’ occupation of Maaloula.

In December 2015, I returned to Old Homs to find that some reconstruction had occurred. Churches were partially repaired, a school was fully rehabilitated, shops had opened, and residents were putting up Christmas decorations.

In June 2017, when I returned to Homs, I saw a city pulsing with life, and peace. That June, I also went back to Aleppo, which I’d been to four times prior to its December 2016 liberation [see: Western corporate media ‘disappears’ over 1.5 million Syrians and 4,000 doctors,  The Villages in Aleppo Ravaged by America’s “Moderate” “Rebels”, and: Aleppo: How US & Saudi-Backed “Rebels” Target ‘Every Syrian’, November 29, 2016, Mint Press News].

I saw eastern areas that had been occupied by Al-Qaeda, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, IS and other terrorist factions. The destruction was indeed immense, as terrorists had holed up underground, including occupying schools and hospitals. The complex housing the Eye and Children’s Hospitals was turned into a headquarters for Al-Qaeda and IS, with basements turned into prisons, prisoners’ fates decided by Sharia courts of the extremists.

I returned to Aleppo in May 2018, and spent hours at the ancient Citadel, both filming peopleenjoying their time around the Citadel, and later joining them at one of the cafes encircling this historic site. Talking with Aleppo MP, Fares Shehabi, we discussed how none of this had been possible under the rule of the extremists.

Indeed, in November 2016, standing near the ruins of the Carlton Hotel, tunnel-bombed by terrorists in May 2014, and looking towards the Citadel, I was told to step back due to the risk of Al-Qaeda snipers. But the Aleppo I saw in May 2018 was likewise pulsing with life, and peace.

In media campaigns to demonize the Syrian and Russian governments, Western media mentioned al-Waer, Homs, and Madaya. But few, or none, that I’m aware of bothered to go to those places after they were restored to peace. I did, in June 2017, and unsurprisingly heard what journalists in eastern Aleppo heard when those areas were liberated: the reason they had been starving was because terrorists had stolen all the food aid that entered the town and kept it for themselves. Indeed, near a munitions workshop, I found the remnants of one such parcel, a Red Cross package. And like in eastern Aleppo, terrorists in Madaya had imprisoned civilians, and had tortured them.

When in April and May 2018 I went to various areas of eastern Ghouta, I again heard about terrorist-induced starvation. When I asked whether residents could access their farmland – as eastern Ghouta is an agricultural region – I was told that, no, they couldn’t, terrorists controlled the farmland, too, leaving them literally starving.

A few weeks ago I returned to Daraa City. I’d been there in May 2018, at a time when terrorists in Daraa al-Balad and outskirts were heavily shelling the city. At great risk, I was able to go to the state hospital, with snipers just 100 metres away from the sole route leading there. The hospital was severely damaged, with entire wards destroyed. The Children’s Hospital wing was damaged and off limits due to the proximity of terrorists roughly 50 metres away – as I would learn when I returned a few weeks ago.

In Daraa this September, there was no bombing, just the scraping of rubble as bulldozers and residents cleaned up the remnants of this foreign war on Syria.

On September 11, I went to Mhardeh, a town in northern Hama, where 13 civilians were killed by terrorists missiles targeting the town on September 7. Most of the dead were killed right away, others died slowly of critical injuries. One man lost his wife, three young children and mother to the terror attacks. He lost everything.

When I asked him how the situation of Idlib, occupied by at least 70,000 terrorists, a modest estimate – impacted him and Mhardeh, he replied that Idlib is the cause of their suffering.

The September 7 attacks on Mhardeh weren’t the first. To the contrary, the town has been relentlessly targeted for the past 7 years, its local defense commander, Simon al-Wakil, told me.

So did the Presbyterian Church’s Reverend Maan Bitar, who said: “The gunmen, the terrorists, they are in all the region of Idlib, not just Idlib city. They are also two kilometers from here (in northern Hama). We’ve received more than 7,000 missiles, rockets, and mortars these past eight years. Every time the terrorists feel they are in a critical situation, militarily speaking, from the government, they shell civilians. Nobody spoke about that. For eight years, Mhardeh town is being shelled, and civilians killed, but nobody spoke of that.”

Nearby al-Skalbiyye has also been relentlessly targeted, including with 10 Grad missiles fitted with cluster bombs, as noted by British journalist Vanessa Beeley who visited the town.

Idlib Reality: an al-Qaeda safe-haven

With the Nikki Haleys and laptop media now droning incessantly about “3 million civilians” in Idlib prone to being massacred by the Syrian and Russian armies, it’s time to reflect on a number of points.

First of all, there is no accurate figure for the number of civilians in Idlib, much less the number of terrorists. Given that when we heard the same cries before the liberation of Aleppo, with the UN itself chiming in to claim that 300,000 civilians were trapped in Aleppo’s eastern areas – the actual number was less than half that figure – we can at least be sceptical about the current claims of 300,000 in Idlib.

Moreover, among the population in Idlib, how many are terrorists? How many are being held against their will by terrorists? How many are Syrians?

Al-Qaeda’s presence in Idlib isn’t a conspiracy theory, it’s an established fact that even US State Department’s Special Envoy, Brett McGurk, made clear when he said: “Look, Idlib province is the largest Al-Qaeda safe-haven since 9/11. Idlib now is a huge problem, is an Al-Qaeda safe-haven right on the border with Turkey.

Yet, outlets like CNN whitewash their presence. While there are no definitive figures for the number of non-Syrians among those terrorists, it is a fact that there are extremists from around the world.

What Western leaders and media fail to address is the reign of terror the different extremist gangs inflict on Syrian civilians. This includes their kidnapping of untold numbers of civilians, particularly children.

Vanessa Beeley wrote this just weeks ago, noting that in a liberated area of eastern Idlib, she was told that over 600 children and adults had been kidnapped by “both the terrorist groups and the #WhiteHelmets” in the last 12 months there.

Further, it is from positions within Idlib governorate that terrorists continue to fire on Aleppo. So in spite of the liberation of Aleppo from these extremists, areas closest to them are routinely bombed.

Fares Shehabi tweeted in September about a rocket attack on Aleppo believed to have originated from Idlib.

In all of the areas I mentioned, the Syrian and Russian governments worked to offer amnesty and reconciliation to Syrians holding arms, and indeed these reconciliations enabled the return to peace in many of these areas.

The Syrian and Russian governments have again opened humanitarian corridors for civilians to leave Idlib, and as with corridors opened in Aleppo, terrorists have attacked the corridor, to prevent civilians from leaving. Some updates state that Syrians have been able to exit when the corridor wasn’t being targeted, and other updates note that terrorists are preventing civilians from leaving, or demanding money from civilians who want to leave.

Syria and Russia have again offered reconciliation and amnesty. It is terrorists within Idlib who refuse this, refuse a political process, and instead continue to hold civilians hostage and occupy Syrian territory.

On September 28, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, addressed media the day of a General Assembly meeting, noting the US-led destruction of both Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq, also noting that Russia and Syria prevented this in Aleppo and in Eastern Ghouta.

These are all points to keep in mind the next time Nikki Haley shrilling performs for the cameras. It is time to liberate Idlib, by military or political means, and bring peace to Syria.

By Eva Bartlett
Source

NATO’s Takfiri Laundromat

It wasn’t at all long ago

✓ Turkey’s intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, named as member of terror group linked to al-Qaeda and ISIS.
✓ Turkish intelligence directly supplied military aid to ISIS for years.
✓ Turkish government siphoned military supplies to ISIS through humanitarian relief agency.
✓ ISIS fighters, including al-Baghadi’s deputy, received free medical treatment in Turkey and “protection” from Turkish police.
✓ Head of ISIS in Turkey received “24/7 protection” under the personal order of President Erdogan.
✓ Turkish police investigations into ISIS are being systematically quashed.
✓ ISIS oil is sold with complicity of authorities in Turkey and Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
✓ NATO affirms Turkey’s role as ally in war on ISIS.

Well folks, if the President’s palace in Ankara can be compared to the administrative office of a regional Hell, Recep Erdogan and his intelligence chief, Hakan Fidan, a member of the Turkish branch of al-Qaida since the 1990s (according to a Turkish former counter-terrorism police chief) aptly fit the descriptions of Satan and Beelzebub respectively; but it wasn’t only Erdogan enriching his family by laundering ISIS & al-Qaida’s stolen oil and his intelligence chief Fidan arranging the shipments of weapons to ISIS & al-Qaida that laundered oil bought. Yeah, that’s what was going on with NATO’s Turkey [pun intended] through 2015, all as the complicit Western intelligence community has pretended the real problem is Assad. That is, that’s how it all went down until late 2015 when Russia stepped in shortly before the Syrian ‘regime’ would have collapsed to the takfiris. We can thank Orthodox Russia (and ‘Vlad’) Syria is not run by head-choppers with slave markets brought to you courtesy of NATO and ‘friends’ (including but not limited to Saudi money and Israeli weapons.)

But wait! It’s not ‘game over’ yet, ISIS leadership and core cadres seem to have found its way (as if by magic) to Afghanistan where they found ready logistics enough to become quickly established and I don’t think it was their arch-enemy Iran let them cross to relative safety let alone supports their new mission. How that happened is likely related to this next, where Erdogan is playing two sides (his habit of backstabbing), we begin with the preliminary circumstance:

According to the [Sochi/Idlib] agreement [between Russia, Iran, Turkey], all heavy weaponry operated by opposition [opposed to Assad] factions must be pulled out of the demilitarized zone by October 10 and “terrorist groups” should be cleared by October 15″

It is 3 October as I write this, and that’s not happening, yet.

“The sources said Moscow already informed Tehran, Damascus and Ankara that in case the above conditions were not fully implemented, Russia would therefore immediately launch a military operation and airstrikes against Idlib

According to the sources, Russia and Turkey disagree over the depth of the decentralized zone, as Moscow is seeking to annex Idlib and other main cities to it [out of opposition control], but Ankara has rejected the offer

“The second disagreement is related to the two main roads linking Aleppo to Latakia and Hama, which are considered the “main artery of the North.” Russia asked that the Syrian regime control the M4 from Aleppo to Latakia and the M5 from Aleppo to Hama before 2019. However, Ankara insists that the roads remain monitored by Russia and Turkey

Preceding, we see the Turkish side seeking to block Syria’s long term reassertion of sovereignty via access to the Idlib region.

“The third disagreement is related to the fate of extremists as Turkish officials want to transfer them to Kurdish-controlled areas while Russian officials insist on “terminating them””

This is the big disagreement in the near term, and the one we’ll be looking at a bit more closely.

“Also, the two sides disagree over the range of the Sochi agreement.

“Moscow wants it a temporary agreement similar to the ones implemented in the de-escalation areas of Daraa, Damascus Ghouta and Homs, while Ankara prefers to have it permanent, similar to the one implemented in the areas of Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch operations.

In plain words, Erdogan wants to keep Idlib province as a ‘moderate jihadi’ Turkish ‘protectorate.’

“Both countries hope that a Russian-Turkish-French-German summit planned for next month could contribute to solving the disputes over Idlib”

This last bit is disingenuous on the Turkish side, Erdogan is playing for time to consolidate Idlib Province in Syria as a laundered al-Qaida controlled district and the Russians have noticed:

“Terrorist organizations Jabhat al-Nusra and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [both al-Qaida affiliates] have agreed, under pressure from Turkish intelligence, to disband and withdraw their forces from the demilitarized zone in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, Al Watan newspaper reported, citing sources with knowledge of the situation.

“Al-Watan newspaper reported, citing sources close to the Turkish Revolutionary People’s Liberation Front, that Turkish intelligence had held several meetings with the leadership of these two groups.

“The sources said that Turkish intelligence had put pressure on the groups’ leaders, while also pledging that the government would not carry out a military operation in Idlib.

“Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, in turn, pledged to change its structure and alter its jihadist ideology so that Ankara does not qualify it as a terror organization any longer, the newspaper added.

“For its part, al-Nusra promised to withdraw its troops and heavy weapons from the demilitarized zone, without any official announcement of the move, according to the media.

“Al-Nusra further promised to disband its so-called “rescue government” that manages the territories the group controls in Idlib. Part of this government will merge with the interim government created by the National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces”

So, Edogan’s intelligence people, whose boss is known to have held membership in al-Qaida, is rapidly changing al-Qaida’s label and reintegrating them to Idlib’s ‘moderate rebel’® governing structures. That sounds very far removed from Russia’s sensible determination to ‘terminate’ the takfiri terrorists even as Erdogan claims he is working with the Russians to eliminate the radicals. Meanwhile, as Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov had stated the task of isolating the radicals… “is not easy”and hoped that Turkey would “succeed”… it would appear it was easier than he could have imagined (far too easy, in fact.)

This analysts conclusion? Erdogan is in process of backstabbing Putin and it is not a wise choice, particularly considering Erdogan’s backstop is the Russophobic Trump administration’s desire to preserve and protect the bad players, doubtless so they may be employed to do the empire’s dirty deeds on another day:

“For the President, who is Commander in Chief, to act as the protective big brother of al-Qaeda and other jihadists must be condemned…”

Of course it should come as no surprise the USA’s so-called ‘efficient institution’ would work with American media to deny Americans this information; and go so far as to have the Department of Homeland Security warn Americans away from Russian media where these facts indeed ARE reported. No surprise, one might wonder? Well, no surprise if you’d had access to this bit of history:

“By the end of 1962 this nation had gone so far down the line following the Agency [CIA], the new Special Forces doctrine, the MAP [Military Assistance Plan]and the new U.S. philosophy as outlined in the President’s Committee report, that it was saying openly it was well on its way to carrying out as top national policy a major clandestine operation so big in fact that the entire government would be involved. Obviously, it could not be really clandestine in the sense that it would be kept secret from our enemies; on the contrary, it was a new kind of “clandestine”, so it would be kept secret from all Americans” –L. Fletcher Prouty, Pentagon liaison to the CIA

To carry this operation out, and see where we are today, it were only necessary for the CIA to establish a lap-dog American press. They’ve done it. The Russian press as alternative to American press most certainly isn’t a perfect vehicle but; the Russians will report the treason in DC whereas the Washington Post and New York Times will not.

By Ronald Thomas West
Source

 

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