For the first time, NASA observes the black hole dubbed “Samantha Power” ‘belching’ intense radiation after consuming the souls of surrounding stars.

The big news this weekend has obviously been the U.S.’s massacre of 62 Syrian soldiers in Deir ez-Zor, in which they provided air cover for a Daesh offensive on the besieged city. The Americans reportedly dropped phosphorus bombs on the Syrians, killing many of them instantly. You can read all about it in our full coverage of the incident here:

  • Russia-brokered ceasefire shattered as US airstrikes against Syrian Army in Deir ez-Zor leaves 80 soldiers dead, over 100 injured (UPDATES)

To give a brief recap of events leading up to it: the ceasefire went into effect on Monday. On Friday, it was extended for the final 72 hours, after which Russia and the U.S. planned to set up their joint implementation group, collaborating on targeting Nusra and Daesh. Despite hundreds of violations on the part of the U.S.-backed rebels, this was still the plan. But the U.S. was threatening to pull out because Assad wasn’t letting UN aid into Syria – no mention of the fact that this was because the U.S.-backed rebels north of Aleppo refused to abide by the agreement to demilitarize the road on which the aid convoys were planned to travel. But the details were all worked out, with convoys planned for this morning. In other words, the U.S. would have no reason to call the ceasefire a failure. Now this.

The U.S. says it was targeting Daesh in the area, which is ridiculous for several reasons: 1) they’ve never provided air cover for Syrian troops in the past, 2) the Syrians were known to have held the area targeted, 3) if they had really been observing the ‘targets’ for days, they would have known exactly who they were targeting, 4) if they really wanted to attack Daesh, they could have waited 2 days in order to do so with Russian coordination. Unless they’re just total idiots, this attack was deliberate, and it came just 2 days before the planned U.S.-Russian coordination. Someone is trying to sabotage the ceasefire, and it looks like the Pentagon is the guilty party.

So is the U.S. simply trying to derail the ceasefire? Are they trying to bait Russia into sending ground troops? Whatever their motivations, Moscow’s response is so far a bit clearer. As Joaquin Flores wrote for Fort Russ:

Indeed, in standard Russian form, the truth which ‘everyone knows’ – that the US backs ISIS – is revealed in stages, piece by piece, strategically timed, taking into consideration any number of variables. Western media critics, as well as geopolitical trainspotters and public analysts alike, have for some time been wondering if and when the other shoe would drop. The Russians have gotten pretty close a few times to finally letting the cat out of the bag, and so here it goes …

Today in Deir ez-Zor, a Syrian warplane was downed during a mission against Daesh, and the pilot was killed. Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack on social media. Two groups have attacked and killed a common enemy in the last few days: the USA and Daesh. Both groups have made no secret of the fact that they oppose the democratically elected Assad government. So can we finally say that the Islamic State and the U.S. government are partners? Thanks.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Syria the U.S.-backed rebels continue to violate the ceasefire. According to Russian Defense Ministry Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov:

“We still don’t have contacts with representatives of the moderate opposition for the ceasefire. We have asked the United States to give us contacts of moderate opposition groups or pressure them, but there is still no result. Moreover, shelling of residential areas and positions of the Syrian Army by militants is intensifying,” Konashenkov said. According to him, the most complicated situation is now in Aleppo. “Militants are using the ceasefire and the fact that the army is not responding to shelling. In areas they control militants move personnel and equipment at daytime and nighttime,” he added.

Even Reuters is reporting the rebels’ raids on Aleppo (the first in nearly a week):

The barrage of strikes on rebel-held districts of Aleppo risks reigniting battlefronts there and could be the most serious threat to the ceasefire so far. A halt to fighting around Aleppo and the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid were key components of the fragile deal that took effect on Monday evening.

But French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault accused Bashar al-Assad’s government of undermining the ceasefire. “We must not forget that it is first of all the (Syrian) regime, and it is always the regime, which has jeopardised the US-Russian ceasefire,” he said in New York.

Western policy in a nutshell, courtesy of Ayrault: “It is always the regime. Even when it’s not.”

As for the humanitarian situation, aid convoys were held up at the border once again due to the refusal of the FSA to leave the Castello road north of Aleppo:

“There has been no progress, which is immensely frustrating for the humanitarian community on the ground,” said David Swanson, an official at the UN’s regional humanitarian affairs office for the Syria crisis.

Due to the militant group obstinacy and their sporadic attacks, the Syrian Army Forces were required to return to the Castillo Highway in order to protect the Syria Red Crescent Society workers that were coming under fire. The humanitarian groups will further attempt to deliver the aid again, however, there is no guarantee that the militants will leave the highway.

On the other side, The Syrian Foreign Ministry said the government authorities have done everything in their power to allow the passage of humanitarian aid into Aleppo’s rebel-held east. “The Syrian government confirms that it has done everything possible to ease humanitarian convoy access to eastern Aleppo. Meanwhile, the convoy’s security is not guaranteed as militants continue shelling the road which the convoy has to take,” the ministry said in a statement.

Other newsbites for the weekend

Immediately after the U.S. airstrike on the Syrian army, these were the headlines across the U.S. media. Convenient coincidences?

And this, from the day before: 1 dead, 5 injured in ‘bizarre’ shooting spree in Philadelphia, crazed gunman killed

The Houthi delegation stuck in Oman, which we have covered in previous Snapshots this week, says they will refuse to leave Oman unless the safety of their UN flight is guaranteed. The flight was cancelled after Yemen’s rightful government, led by President Saleh’s General People’s Congress, refused to sign a document saying the UN “does not bear responsibility” for the flight’s safety. Can’t blame them.

An odd dot to keep an eye one: US Anti-Daesh Operation Serviceman Dies in UAE in Non-Combat-Related Incident.

A US army soldier serving as part of the Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq has died in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a result of a non-combat-related incident, the US Department of Defense said Sunday. “Warrant Officer Travis R. Tamayo, 32, of Brownsville, Texas, died Sept. 16 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in a non-combat-related incident. The incident is under investigation,” the Department of Defense said in a statement published on its website. Tamayo was serving with 202nd Military Intelligence Battalion stationed at Fort Gordon in Georgia. The unit specializes in counterintelligence and its personnel are trained in counter-terrorist Human Intelligence Gathering.

CNN should be renamed Facepalm News Network:

Alexander Turchinov, post-Maidan Ukraine’s first idiot president, said in an interview recently that after the coup, NATO made it clear in no uncertain terms that they would not defend Kiev militarily:

In 2014, when there was a huge lack of time, finance, material resources, weapons, everything… I had a lot of negotiations with our foreign partners. I reminded them of the Budapest Memorandum, told them that we needed help. But they just clapped me on the shoulder and said ‘stay strong, we’ll influence Russia through diplomacy. I was constantly asked not to saber-rattle, not to mobilize, basically “not to provoke Russia”. They made it clear to me that if the Russian armed forces invaded the territory of continental Ukraine, we would not get military support…

Lucky for Ukraine, Russia never invaded, and had no intention of doing so.

Last of all this weekend, some recommended reads featured on SOTT:

And finally, a few gems from the Clinton Corner: