Vladimir Putin fires back: ‘Close down RT, and we will close down CNN’

via Vladimir Putin fires back: ‘Close down RT, and we will close down CNN’

Maria Zakharova said any move made against Russian media working in US “will get a tit-for-tat response”.

 

Russia’s communications regulator has responded to the US “RT witch-hunt” unfolding in Congress, after US Senator Mark Warner hinted that RT’s Twitter advertising poses a threat to America’s “democratic institutions”.

Russia’s response is firm and clear, threaten RT and we will crack down on CNN’s operations in Russia…an outlet which the regulator says is “violating Russian media law.”

Reuters reports…

Russia’s communications regulator on Friday accused U.S. TV channel CNN International of violating Russian media law and said it had summoned the broadcaster’s representatives in connection with the matter.

The Russian foreign ministry accused Washington on Thursday of putting unwarranted pressure on the U.S operations of Kremlin-backed media outlet RT, and warned that Moscow could take tit-for-tat measures.

President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of Russia’s Security Council on Friday that Russian media outlets working abroad were facing growing and unacceptable pressure, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

The communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, said in a statement on its website that it would look at warning CNN about the alleged violations, which it said also breached the terms of its broadcast license.

It did not say what breaches of Russian laws the U.S. broadcaster had made, adding it would continue its “systematic monitoring” of foreign mass media outlets registered in Russia.

According to Zerohedge, Russian president Vladimir Putin also weighed in on the hysteria and mounting pressure being placed on RT saying that “such pressure on Russian media is unacceptable” and that any hostile actions taken against Russian media in the U.S. would be met with a “tit-for-tat response.”

Putin, meeting permanent members of his Security Council, “touched upon the issue of ongoing and at times growing pressure on Russian mass media outlets in some foreign countries”, Peskov told a conference call with reporters.

“It was stressed that such pressure on Russian media is unacceptable,” he added. He did not name the countries where the Kremlin was concerned Russian media were coming under pressure.

The Foreign Ministry’s Zakharova said any move made against Russian media working in the United States “will get a tit-for-tat response”.

“And who it falls on, this should be easy for Washington to work out. The clock is ticking,” she said at a weekly briefing on Thursday.

The Duran reported that RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonyan said that she wasn’t aware paying for advertising on social media platforms like Twitter is now considered suspicious or harmful in a developed democracy such as the United States.

“This is forcing us to go a step further and come clean that we also spent money on advertising at airports, in taxis, on billboards, on the Internet, on TV and radio. Even CNN ran our commercials,” Simonyan said. “By the way, similar campaigns are conducted by the American media in the Russian segment of Twitter. It’ll be very interesting to find out how much they spend on it, who they target and for what purpose.”

 
 

What do you think?

How Globalism works like the Mafia – By Chris Kanthan – Sott.net

Globalism is just like mafia, but with lot more complexity and respectability. If you have watched mob films such as The Godfather, you can understand how the world works. For example, in Godfather II, a bunch of mobsters get together in Havana, Cuba, to celebrate Hyman Roth’s birthday. As the birthday cake is symbolically cut into pieces and distributed, Roth tells the group how Cuba will be split up among the guests. Extrapolate this scene to the world, you can visualize how the world works.

Corporations to Central Banks

The power structure of global elites is like nested Russian dolls made up of corporations. How many people realize that KFC, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are owned by the same corporation? Or that HBO, CNN, TBS, TNT, Cartoon Network all report to the same boss? Or that whether you drink Budweiser, Corona, Stella, Busch or Michelob (and dozens of others), you end up paying one giant corporation?

Who controls these corporations? It’s not the CEO, as most people believe. The real control lies in the hands of the largest shareholders and/or the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors of all giant corporations are linked to each other by one or two degrees of separation. Some elites even sit on multiple boards at the same time. For example, Rochelle Lazarus sits on the boards of Merck, GE and Blackstone; Jon Huntsman sits on the boards of Hilton, Ford, Caterpillar and Chevron; and Timothy P. Flynn is a director at JP Morgan Chase, Wal-Mart, Alcoa and United Healthcare. Think for a moment how all these corporations would seem totally unrelated to a regular person.

The Board of Directors report to the next level of bosses, the financial overlords. All the public corporations in the West – and much of the world now – are controlled by large shareholders, who are giant financial corporations. Thus a study in 2011 showed that fewer than 150 mega corporations pretty much control all the corporations in the world! Some of these have recognizable names such as Barclays or JP Morgan; other names such as State Street or AXA are hardly known outside the financial circles, yet they have incredible influence and wealth.

There are also a few individuals like Carl Icahn or Paul Singer who can borrow billions of dollars at 0%, buy tons of shares of a corporation, change its policies (like how dividends are distributed), and make a killing a few months later. This is how the financial mafia’s shakedown works.

On the top of the food chain are the central banks who have the amazing ability to create money out of thin air. As Meyer Rothschild reportedly once said, “Permit me to issue and control the money of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws!” These people are the ultimate Godfathers of globalism. They determine the winners and the losers in capitalism, and thus control all the corporations (including the media), politicians, militaries, and the Deep States around the world.

How to use Corporations

All these corporations are but tools to be used for a higher purpose – controlling people. The financial system is the primary tool used to control nations. Any nation’s debt, wealth, credit rating, stock market etc. can be manipulated by Wall Street, which is the financial weapon of mass destruction.

There are other corporations that wield power in less obvious ways. Monsanto’s GMOs are effective weapons in controlling nations (if a country has to buy seeds and pesticides from foreign corporations every year, that country will stay submissive). Big Pharma and medicines also create dependencies in people and nations.

Above all, globalists strive for the ability to control what people think. This is where media, entertainment and the Internet come into play. Fortunately (for them), all are corporatized, so that Facebook, Google, the mainstream media and Hollywood can all work together to form the Ministry of Truth and control what people all over the world feel, think and believe.

The Internet is also a great tool to spy on people and leaders of nations all over the world. This comes in handy when uncooperative leaders have to be blackmailed or overthrown (example: anti-US Brazilian president, Rousseff, was removed by a leaked phone call. The NSA had spied on her and tapped her phone).

When Corporations Need Some Help…

Corporatocracy needs a lot of help in a “free market,” and that’s where military and politics come into play. Globalism demands that all the natural resources around the world be privatized, people of all nations be ready to work for the globalists and all the economies be opened up for the corporations to sell their products. When nations resist this trend, they will suddenly face extraordinary problems. (Those who are familiar with John Perkins and his work as an “Economic Hit Man” understand this process).

In the mafia movies, people who need to be persuaded may receive a dead fish wrapped in a newspaper or may wake up next to a horse’s head on their beds. In geopolitics, the warnings come in the form of color revolutions (Georgia, Ukraine), attacks by Western-backed Islamic terrorists (Libya, Syria, Philippines), rise of separatist movements (Kurdistan, Balochistan, Rakhine State in Burma), hostile attitudes from neighboring countries (Qatar, Iran) etc. If those don’t work, there may be sanctions (Venezuela) and eventually a ‘shock and awe’ invasion. Unlike the mobster world where a helicopter attack can simply be carried out (Godfather II), globalists put in a lot of effort to justify their overt violence. This task of selling a war is carried out by the mainstream media, pundits and politicians.

In my book, “Syria – War of Deception,” I explain the geopolitics of proxy wars, Islamic terrorism, and the struggle for global hegemony.

An ideal nation will be a vassal nation which will generously share and privatize its natural resources, provide cheap labor, open its markets to multi-national corporations, borrow excessive amounts from the World Bank and IMF, buy a lot of US treasury bonds, host US/NATO military bases, purchase US/EU weapons, and vote in the UN as instructed.

The Beginning of the end?

People who are not distracted by the daily drama of life or otherwise rendered incapable of thinking critically, can see enormous problems with the current system. Globalists have used fake, fiat money to push the U.S. and most nations around the world into colossal debt. The entire global economy is sustained by artificial interest rates, real estate bubbles, stock market bubbles, and fictitious assets such as $500 trillion of derivatives (when the global GDP is only $75 trillion). We live in a real world that’s dependent on a Ponzi system fueled by virtual assets.

Most leaders of countries around the world have bought into this globalist system. However, there are a few who are still resisting it to various degrees – North Korea does it belligerently; Syria, Iran, Venezuela and Russia do it defensively; and some such as China, Myanmar and the Philippines do it in more nuanced ways.

Recently, there has also been grassroots resistance to the social engineering efforts of globalism. Since 1950, globalists have embarked upon a continuous cultural revolution that has tried to change every fundamental aspect of society. In order to achieve their Orwellian/Huxleyan goals, globalists have to completely alter the notions of family, culture, tradition, religion, national identity/pride, history and so on.

The next twenty years may be the most significant in modern human history. In geopolitics, will we enter a multipolar world where Russia and some of its Eurasian allies can retain their sovereignty? Can the USA and China avoid the “Thucydides trap“? Can we prevent a nuclear war? How will Islamic terrorism manifest itself in the coming years? How likely is that Europe will irrevocably change as a society and a civilization? Will there be a counter-revolution against globalist social engineering? When will the US dollar lose its status as the world reserve currency? Will the global financial system be forced into a reboot? How will science and technology, especially Artificial Intelligence and robots, affect social stability? Will climate change continue to wreak havoc? However, the biggest question of all is this: what will we focus on – these pressing challenges or the trivial daily distractions manufactured for us by the globalists?

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Chris Kanthan

Chris Kanthan is an author from San Francisco, and writes about politics, world affairs, food and health. He loves traveling and has been to 35 countries around the world. Follow him on Twitter: @GMOChannel and his blog: https://worldaffairs.blog/

Chris is also the author of “Deconstructing Monsanto,” available on Amazon.

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Christians Return to Syria – But Not to Iraq- By William Murray

Where Russia’s intervention in Syria saved the country for Christians (and others) the US invasion of Iraq destroyed the ancient community

15 hours ago
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Christians in the Middle East are voting with their feet for the government of President Assad in Syria. With all that American government officials and the news media have said to condemn the secular government of Syria, surely no one should want to return there, with the civil war seemingly winding down in favor of President Assad. But that is not the case.

So far in 2017, more than 600,000 Syrians, both Christians and Muslims, have returned to their homes in Syria, as the Islamic State and the Sunni Muslim “rebels” supported by Saudi Arabia and the United States have been driven back. Of those Christians who fled their homes in Syria, many are returning from Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. Wealthier Christians who fled the civil war are returning from Europe as well.

Unlike Iraq and other majority Muslim nations, Syria has a secular constitution, so Shariah law is not enforced as the law of the land. Christians have their own court system for family issues, separate from the Shariah court system of Muslims. In fact, Christian religious leaders in Syria call the several decades of rule by the Assad family a “golden era for Christians.”

It is no wonder, then, that Syrian Christians are returning to their homes in Syria in large numbers.

But Christians are not returning to Iraq, where the United States and other Western nations have established a “democracy.” Why? Probably because the constitution of Iraq, written in a “democratic assembly” after the fall of Saddam Hussein, states that “Islam is the official religion of the State and it is a fundamental source of legislation.” To reinforce this, a second clause states: “No law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established.”

How does this affect Christians? Here are just a few examples: Muslims are forbidden by law to convert to Christianity. “Blasphemy against Islam” is a crime. No child can have a name on his or her birth certificate that does not appear in the Quran, so Christians may not officially name their children Peter or Paul, as an example. (Many Christian children in Iraq are named Yusef [Joseph] or Maryam [Mary] because those two names do appear in the Quran).

Hardly any Syrian Christian refugees registered with the United Nations are seeking asylum in another nation, but a great number of Iraqi Christians want to leave the Middle East.

A Heritage Foundation report found that Syrian Christians make up tiny percentages of asylum seekers registered with the U.N.’s refugee agency (UNHCR) in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt – 1.5 percent, 0.2 percent, 0.3 percent, and 0.1 percent, respectively. However, the report found that over 16 percent of registered asylum-seeking Iraqi refugees were Christians. The report is very clear that Christian refugees from Syria planned to go back home if the government won, while Christian refugees from Iraq don’t want to go back, even with an American-supported government in Iraq.

In a World Watch Monitor article, human-rights lawyer and genocide expert Ewelina Ochab made this conclusion after interviewing Christians from Iraq who had fled to Kurdistan or become refugees in Jordan: She stated that Iraqi Christians have faced persecution since the US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein in 2003. Christians were blamed for the invasion, and in the ensuing chaos, various Islamic extremists destroyed their churches, stole their homes and drove them out of the nation to either northern Iraq (Kurdistan), Jordan or Lebanon.

In the article, Ochab was quoted as saying that the reality for Syria is different because “Assad is perceived as the defender of Christian minorities.” She went on to say that, “Many Syrian Christians worry that once Assad is gone, they will face the same fate as Iraqi Christians suffered after Saddam Hussein’s fall.”

As the director of charity programs assisting Christian refugees, I can personally attest to the truth of Iraqi Christians not wanting to return. Many of the Christians I work with in the Kurdish region are in fact from Baghdad, having fled the violence there. The Christians I have interviewed who fled the Nineveh Plain bluntly state that they will stay in Iraq only if unable to go elsewhere.

Overall, the number of Syrians returning to their homes in Syria as the secular government makes gains is staggering. According to the International Organization for Migration, almost 67 percent of the over 600,000 who went back in the first seven months of this year returned to Aleppo province, which was won back from US-backed Sunni rebels and various jihadist groups working with them. In December of 2016, the government recovered the section of Aleppo city that had been held by rebels. This stopped the almost constant mortar and sniper fire into the 80 percent of the city rebels never held, and allowed many people to move back.

Even Sunni Muslims who did not support the Sunni uprising backed by Saudi Arabia and the United States are moving back from Turkey and other places to claim their property and resettle back into their homes. Only the extremist elements of Sunni Islam accepted the Saudi Arabia supplied guns and money and attempted to overthrow the secular government.

Turkey, which also supported the overthrow of the Assad government, benefited from the looting of Aleppo and other areas. Billions of dollars’ worth of looted goods from factories, stores, homes and even museums were carted off to Turkey and sold. Only after the jihadist snake they were feeding “thanked” the Muslim Brotherhood government of Turkey with terror attacks on the Istanbul airport was the support of Sunni radicals stopped. Now many of the families who fled to Turkey are returning to their looted homes in Syria.

The infrastructure repair in Syria will be hobbled with the expected sanctions and boycotts from Western nations angry that they were unable to dislodge Syria’s secular government and install a Saudi Arabia puppet government with a Shariah-compliant constitution.

There is one certainty: The United States will not pay to rebuild any of the hundreds of bridges, overpasses and roads destroyed in the bombing of Syria as part of the strategy to defeat the Islamic State.

The trauma of the people of Syria will take generations for them to overcome.

Source: Ron Paul Institute

 

Not mere hyperbole: The United States has effectively become the Fourth Reich – Finian Cunningham-Strategic Culture Foundation

US President Trump’s declaration last week before the UN to “totally destroy” North Korea and his general ranting about American military might is on par with the Nazi Third Reich’s invocation of “Total War”.

The ease with which Trump and his senior officials talk about “military options” towards North Korea, and any other defiant nation, is arguably not just a violation of the UN Charter but also the principles of international law established at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi leaders. Any use or threat of war that is not a clear act of self-defense is “aggression”.

The United States under President Donald J Trump is more than ever openly adopting the self-declared “right” to launch wars. Its hysterical claim of “self-defense” with regard to North Korea is a cynical excuse for aggression. When Trump says North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un “won’t be around for much longer” the words are reasonable grounds for the North Koreans to believe the US is “declaring war” – especially in the context of repeated military threats by the Americans of using “all options on the table”.

Trump’s thuggish address to the UN General Assembly was a shocking repudiation of the world body’s official peace-building mission. Trump’s bellicosity had some commentators making comparisons with a Nazi-like oration from Nuremberg rallies circa 1938-39.

American writer Paul Craig Roberts summed up grimly by saying the US is now the Fourth Reich – meaning successor to the Nazi Third Reich.

When someone of Paul Craig Roberts’ stature makes such a grave comment, one has to listen. This is not mere hyperbole bandied about by a novice. Roberts’ establishment credentials are impeccable. He served as a senior member of the Ronald Reagan administration during the 1980s, as assistant secretary in the Treasury Department. Roberts also worked as editor of the Wall Street Journal and is an award-winning author. For such an esteemed former government insider to declare the US as the “Fourth Reich” is a measure of the Rubicon that the country has crossed.

Truth be told, however, the US has been way past the Rubicon into dark territory for a long time. To compare US state power with Nazi Germany is not merely a metaphor. There is a very real historical connection.

This year marks the 70th anniversary since the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) was created in 1947 in the aftermath of the Second World War and the defeat of Nazi Germany. As American author Douglas Valentine recently remarked, the milestone for the CIA represents “70 years of organized crime”.

The CIA and US military leaders at the Pentagon were in many ways the inheritors of Nazi Germany. Thousands of senior Nazi military, intelligence, scientists and engineers were immediately recruited by the Pentagon and nascent CIA after the Second World War.

Operation Paperclip approved by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff in late 1945 was vital for the adoption of Nazi missile technology. SS Major Werner Von Braun and hundreds of other rocket experts were instrumental in developing American weapons, as well as the NASA space program.

Operation Sunrise overseen by Allen Dulles and other early CIA figures (the organization was known up to 1947 as the Office of Strategic Studies) set up “rat lines” for top Nazi commanders to escape justice and flee from Europe. Among senior Nazi officers aided and abetted by the American CIA were General Karl Wolff and Major General Reinhard Gehlen.

The liaison between American intelligence and military, and the remnants of the Third Reich, were formative in the organizational creation and Cold War ideology of the CIA and Pentagon towards the Soviet Union. The Americans benefited not only from Nazi gold stolen from European countries, they deployed the same intelligence and covert military techniques of the Third Reich. (See, for example, David Talbot’s book, The Devil’s Chessboard, on the formation of the CIA.)

Major General Reinhard Gehlen after his postwar induction in Washington set up the Gehlen Organization with his many contacts among Ukrainian fascists to conduct sabotage operations behind Soviet lines in the decades following the Second World War.

After the Second World War, the United States’ power structure turned into a dichotomy. On the one hand, there was the formal government of elected Congress members and presidents. On the other, was the real power holders in the “secret government” comprising the CIA and the US military-industrial complex.

The “secret government” or the “deep state” of the US has been a law unto itself over the past seven decades. The election of Democrat or Republican politicians has no significant bearing on government policy. The shots are called by the CIA and the “deep state” who answer to the ruling elite of corporate power. Any president who does not comply is dealt with like John F Kennedy, assassinated in November 1963. Hence Trump’s craven capitulation since election.

Funded with Nazi war loot, Russophobia, and contempt for international law, the CIA and the American military inevitably became a killing machine.

Only five years after the Second World War, the Americans went to war in Korea, allegedly “to defeat world communism”. Much of the new military technology that the Americans deployed during the 1950-53 Korean War was developed by the Nazi engineers recruited through Operation Paperclip. The genocidal destruction inflicted on Korea by the Americans was no different from the barbarism used by the Third Reich.

Over the past seven decades, the US rulers have waged overt wars, coups, assassinations and proxy wars against dozens of countries around the world. The global death toll from this American destruction is estimated at 20 million people.

When US leaders extol “American exceptionalism” it is a euphemism for “supremacy” and the “right” to use military violence to further strategic interests. This is no different from the supremacist thinking that the Third Reich invoked to justify its conquest of others.

When Trump and his administration threaten to annihilate North Korea the mindset is not unprecedented. Almost every US leader since the Second World War has promulgated the same unilateral use of violence towards other nations deemed to be “enemy states”. What Trump represents is simply a more naked version of the same aggression.

In addition to the horrendous global death toll from US violence, it should be noted that the US currently spends about $700 billion every year on military – 10 times what Russia spends, or 10 times what the next 9 biggest military-spending nations allocate. The US has military bases in over 100 countries around the world. Over the past quarter-century, it has been in a permanent state of illegal war.

It is by no means an exaggeration to say the US is the Fourth Reich whose direct antecedent is Nazi Germany. The outgrowth of the CIA and Pentagon from Nazi personnel and illicit funds following the Second World War ensured that the US rulers imbued the ideology of the Third Reich.

The legacy of the American Fourth Reich is evident for those with open minds: wars of aggression, genocide, proxy wars, coups, death squads, mass surveillance of citizens, mass media propaganda, and mass torture – all done with impunity and self-righteousness.

Gillian Triggs: Australian law has fallen prey to ‘isolation and exceptionalism’ – By The Guardian

Triggs uses Michael Kirby Oration to argue governments have taken advantage of the fear caused by terrorism

Gillian Triggs
Gillian Triggs: ‘Our democracy becomes weakened by the growing powers of the executive.’ Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Gillian Triggs has criticised the expansion of executive powers in Australia, saying Australian law has fallen prey to “isolation and exceptionalism” that has weakened democracy and left human rights undefended.

In a draft copy of her Michael Kirby Oration, delivered at Victoria University on Wednesday night, Triggs said governments had taken advantage of the fear caused by terrorism to introduce laws that were “out of proportion to the legitimate aim of protecting national security”.

She said that recent events including funding the $120m postal survey on marriage equality without parliamentary approval, a move that was unanimously backed by the high court, and the decision to create a super ministry of home security continued the trend.

“My concern is that an imbalance has crept into our democracy so that increasingly the courts are marginalised by legislation,” she said. “Compliant parliaments, including oppositions over many years, have failed to exercise their historical restraint and pass laws that breach the rule of law. Executive cabinet government assumes ever more power.

“The result is that our democracy becomes weakened by the growing powers of the executive and by a corresponding diminution in the independence of the judiciary and a growing impotence of parliament.”

Triggs said the failure of Australian courts to consider international laws when making decisions meant Australian law, particularly around immigration, had diverged from that of other similar countries to become “among the most inhumane in the world.”

She said that problem was compounded because Australia did not have a bill of rights and had not, in most cases, enacted the international treaties it had ratified into law.

“For all these reasons, in Australia we no longer speak the language of human rights and are increasingly out of step with comparable legal systems in the UK, Europe, Canada, the United states, even our cousins the New Zealanders,” she said.

Triggs said the argument that any of the laws that expand executive power may be individually justified, for example counter-terrorism measures designed to protect public safety, fell over when the collective impact was considered.

“My concern is that these examples when viewed together become greater than the sum of their parts and a distortion of democracy,” she said.

She said governments had taken advantage of fear around terrorism and unregulated migration to enact laws that were not based on evidence, were disproportionate to all legitimate purpose, breached fundamental freedoms and contravened the rule of law.

They then used that fear to avoid scrutiny those laws, she said.

“Questions of national security, justified by a fear of terrorism, often conflated with a fear of unauthorised arrivals of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees, even a fear of Islam itself, have shielded government measures from political challenge as a taboo subject, creating a vacuum of silence in the absence of strong leadership,” she said.

Triggs has made a series of public speeches coinciding with the end of her five-year appointment as Australian human rights commissioner, which expired in July.

She was awarded the Voltaire award for free speech for public criticisms she made of Australia’s offshore detention centres and policies while in office.

The foreign minister, Julie Bishop, has previously said Triggs’s assessment of Australia’s human rights record was “misguided.”

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The insanity of the Generals: They think they can ‘win’ Armageddon – Phil Butler New Eastern Outlook

© New Eastern Outlook

In a room, somewhere deep inside the Pentagon generals and admirals met recently in order to prepare an assessment for the United States Senate Armed Services Committee. Present at the metering were General Mark Milley, the U.S. Army’s Chief of Staff, the Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson, the Commandant of the Marine Corps General Robert Neller, and U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General David L. Goldfein. At such a meeting there’s no doubt that Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford attended seeing he’s the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The agenda for this meeting was serious as a heart attack – America’s most brilliant and powerful military men gathered that day to discuss Armageddon.

The minutes of this fateful meeting are top secret. Only a handful of people will ever know what was discussed. But the end result of the strategy session was revealed on September 15, 2017 before the people of the United States. The top generals of the most powerful nation on Earth advised congress that America could in fact win an all-out war with Russia and China. It must have been a scene right out of Director Stanley Kubrick’s classic Cold War film, Dr. Strangelove. I was not there, so I can only imagine the gathering of war hawks, the stoic expertise and military intellect, and the obtuse arrogance being conveyed across the congressional forum that day. The vision makes me wonder, “Who in the hell ordered such an assessment in the first place?” But I think we all know the answer.

General Milley expressed his only concern over World War III by citing the U.S. Army’s “lack of resources and training to execute America’s national security strategy without high military risk.” Admiral Richardson agreed with Milley, but his level of confidence in the U.S. Navy’s dominance seemed somehow higher. Milley told committee:

“I concur with Gen. Milley. If we get into one of those conflicts, we’ll win, but it going to take a lot longer than we’d like and it’s going to cost a lot more in terms of dollars and in casualties.”

Marine General Neller parroted these opinions, only with a typical “Jar Head” obtuseness and psychosomatic bravado proclaiming America’s current force array is “effective” against counterinsurgent forces around the world. I am assuming the General means the Taliban now resurgent in Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda that’s being supported in Syria, and the ultimate enemy ISIL, which Russia has all but destroyed on the ground. I’ll not get into the Marine mentality, they are my shipmates after all. As for the Air Force’s General David L. Goldfein, the former combat pilot’s assessment showed that flying an airplane does not qualify one to be a military bean counter. General Goldfein also concurred with the others but in an overcomplicated way, as if he were the accountant of the group. In short, the man shot down over Serbia when America destroyed Yugoslavia earned his pay September 15th by stating the plainly obvious – World War III is a high-risk endeavor. No shit General.

My fellow Earthlings, it’s abundantly clear that the United States military industrial complex now runs America. The meeting before the U.S. Senate was simply a formality. A psycho-thriller being played out before an audience asleep in the back row of the theater. With Russia’s Vladimir Putin pleading with every breath for discourse and sanity, and after Russia’s military machine has been forced into high alert, America’s top Generals have been put in charge. Let me cite the Army’s General Milley on his plea for more money and weapons in order to abate the “dire consequences” of this Armageddon:

“The butcher’s bill is paid in the blood of American soldiers for unready forces. We have a long history of that- Kasserine Pass, Guadalcanal, Okinawa, Tarawa, Task Force Smith in the Korean War. It goes all the way back to Bull Run – Lincoln thought he was going to fight a war for 90 days. Wars are often thought to be short when they begin – they’re not. They’re often thought to cost less than they end up costing and they end up with outcomes and take turns you never know. It’s a dangerous thing.”

Let me make something abundantly clear here. The “generals” did not prepare their assessments for a waiting U.S. Senate committee, for those same senators work in collusion with the military and the industrial complex, everyone knows this. This dog and pony show was orchestrated for one audience only – the idiots who believe our system works like it should – the American people. Look at the narrative. It’s all PR and propaganda dialogue, grade school fodder crafted to appease convenience store workers. A “dangerous thing”, indeed. Milley went on pandering for a brand new arms race, a brand new Cold War, in suggesting force build up and reequipping for major conflict. We’re right back to Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars” initiative. For those of you who believe this is all saber rattling, this Defense Intelligence Agency report shows us the military industrialists and the U.S. President are aware of the ultimate outcome. Part of the report addresses Vladimir Putin’s “preparedness” in the event of Armageddon to the extent he is getting ready just in case. The fact of the matter is that the deep underground bunkers America’s defense industry cites as “Putin’s Armageddon protection” were built during Soviet times.

Finally, if you read about the new role of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, then you’ll understand the takeover of American policy by the deep state is complete. While his colleagues were busy pandering the public for more guns, ships, and missiles, America’s top general was politicking in Asia with career bureaucrats like South Korea’s Moon, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Gen. Fang Fenghui, chief of the general staff of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. So, with North Korea, Russia, and Iran in the crosshairs of new US sanctions, the Trump administration takes aim with real killing weapons too. Generals as diplomats, and idiot U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley as cheerleader for the ultimate game of war? The insanity is at “Biblical” on the reality meter today. Half the world is on the brink of starving, and most of the rest feels milked dry by the elitist order, so naturally World War III must come. All I have left to offer is this.

“I saw that publishing all over the world was deeply constrained by self-censorship, economics and political censorship, while the military-industrial complex was growing at a tremendous rate, and the amount of information that it was collecting about all of us vastly exceeded the public imagination.” – Julian Assange

Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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Eva Bartlett’s Syria War Diary Part II: Civilians recount horrors of rebel rule as order returns to Madaya and Al-Waer – By Eva Bartlett

© AP/Hassan Ammar
Syrian children buy vegetables in the town of Madaya in the Damascus countryside, Syria, May 18, 2017

In revisiting Madaya and al-Waer after their reclamation by the Syrian army, it soon became clear from Bartlett’s conversations with residents just how distorted the reporting of corporate media about their fate under “rebel” control had been.

In the last year, the Syrian cities of Aleppo and Madaya have become familiar to the international community as they have become subjects of heavy propaganda amid corporate media coverage to justify a so-called “humanitarian” war. Another area used in the war propaganda was al-Waer, a district of Homs occupied by the Western armed and financed “moderates” of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), al-Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria), Ahrar al-Sham, and terrorists showing allegiance to Daesh (ISIS).

When I again visited Syria in June 2017, Aleppo, Madaya and al-Waer had been restored to peace, following the evacuation of these armed groups. I was able to visit these areas and speak to residents about the reality of life under the rule of these factions.

In Part I of my coverage August 2017 article focused on Aleppo and the life of civilians there under “rebel” occupation – which included many dangers, deprivations, and horrors, not the least of which was susceptibility to extra-judicial trials and executions.

Here, I look at Madaya and al-Waer, again from on the ground, to give a voice to Syrians who have been marginalized by the Western corporate media, which has instead glorified the insurgency.

Stability with reconciliations

During my visit in June, I met with Syria’s Minister of Reconciliation, Dr. Ali Haidar. Established in June 2012, the Ministry has successfully dialogued with tens of thousands of armed Syrians to enable and facilitate return to their civilian lives.

According to Haidar, in Madaya and al-Waer stockpiles of food and medicines were found in buildings occupied by armed groups. Large quantities of weapons and ammunition were also found-notably foreign-made weapons-including from the U.S. and Israel. While Western media has not reported on this, Israel’s JPost in April 2016 reported on another incident: the capture of a vehicle containing Israeli mines coming from southern Syria.

© ICRC
Map of Syria showing the ICRC’s presence and the location towns of Madaya, Foua and Kefraya

Haidar explained to me that an agreement was reached at the end of 2015 that included Madaya, nearby Zabadani, and the Idlib villages Foua and Kafraya. That 2015 agreement saw over 450 people from the four areas evacuated by agencies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The evacuated included injured, ill and elderly from Foua and Kafraya, with some of whom I met in August 2016 to hear about their experiences.

According to a report compiled in the Reconciliation Ministry, and explained to me in our June meeting, 3,000 people, including 950 militants, left Madaya for Jarablus or Idlib on April 15, 2017. Another 600 militants laid down their arms on April 19, staying in Madaya. As of June, 20,000 people had returned to Madaya.

In a June 2014 interview, Minister Haidar told me that over 10,000 Syrians had reconciled and returned to their civilian lives. According to his office, as of June 2017, that number was over 85,000.

Media explosion on Madaya

© AP/Hassan Ammar
Anti-Syrian government activists hold up placards during a protest in front of the European Union embassy in Beirut after harrowing pictures in the media of emaciated children were blamed on a siege of the town of Madaya by Syiran troops

Adjacent to a munitions factory used by armed groups in Madaya, I found packaging of an ICRC-supported food parcel, a remnant of repeated aid convoys sent into the town. As in eastern Aleppo, in Madaya armed extremists hoarded food and medicines.

Owing to the presence of Ahrar al-Sham, al-Nusra and other groups, from around mid-2015 Madaya was under Syrian military siege. As noted in Part One of this series, siege is a common tactic of wars past, and one that the United States employed in Iraq (for example, the more than four-year siege of Sadr City).

The military sieges came with offers of amnesty to those armed Syrian men who hadn’t committed bloodshed, or safe passage to another area of Syria for those who refused reconciliation, including the non-Syrian extremists. During the siege, the Syrian government did continue to send in aid to Madaya, and continued to also approve the provision of aid from the ICRC, UN and other bodies, including in October 2015.

In December 2015, the ICRC was back in Madaya for the evacuation of injured or ill.

The family of Marianna Mazeh, a south Lebanon girl, have expressed anger that her photo was circulated on sites claiming she was a starving child from Madaya in Syria.

In his January 2016 statement, Syria’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, confirmed this October 2015 aid delivery, and noted:

“On December 27th, we asked the resident coordinator to send immediately convoys of humanitarian assistance again to Madaya, and to Kafraya and al-Foua. The UN did not send. … Huge humanitarian assistance and medical assistance was distributed inside Madaya, October, December and now (January).

The main problem is that the armed terrorist groups steal the convoys and trucks, and they deviate them to their own warehouses and storage. And then they resell it to civilians at prohibitive prices that the civilians cannot afford it.”

Overnight in January 2016, Western and Gulf media, in chorus, started campaigning that the Syrian state was starving civilians in Madaya. The same media made scant to no remarks about the terrorists occupying the hillside town. Some reports used photographs of emaciated people not from Madaya, nor even from Syria – including a pretty Lebanese girl whose parents objected to the media’s exploitation of their daughter – in support of the “starvation” claims.

Watch | ‘Fact Check on Madaya’

Those behind the sudden media upheaval included none other than Saudi terrorist Abdullah Muhaysini, known for his support to al-Qaeda and recruiting of new terrorists. In early January 2016 he also called for the annihilation of Foua and Kafraya.

A cached article noted that Muhaysini had “appealed to the media to highlight the disaster in the region.” Another article, in Arabic, cited Muhaysini as using the hashtagged phrase “Madaya is Hungry”.

When, in mid-january 2016, Syrian reporters and RT reporter Murad Gazdiev entered Madaya with another shipment of aid, residents spoke of the starvation caused by the terrorist occupiers, as residents of eastern Aleppo and al-Waer later would: The terrorists stole the food aid and sold it at prices too obscenely inflated for civilians to afford.

Watch | Inside Besieged Madaya: ‘Militants sold us 1 kg of rice for $250’

On the ground in Madaya, June 2017

© Eva Bartlett/MintPress News
Life on the streets as I entered Madaya on June 13, 2017

There was normal life on the streets of Madaya when I visited last June. Small grocery stores and other shops were open, residents and children filled bottles at the central water fountain. A sense of calm prevailed, with Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda two-months departed.

Entering a small shop selling clothing, I was welcomed and offered apricots from a pail on the counter. The Madaya-Zabadani region is known for its rich agriculture and tasty fruits. It is also an area to which people from Damascus and environs would retreat in the summer, to picnic on farmland or to eat at one of the restaurants along the road leading to the towns.

According to Madaya’s mayor (mukhtar, in Arabic), the main armed factions that had been present were the terrorist groups of Ahrar al-Sham, al-Nusra and the FSA. The shop owners also maintained that ISIS terrorists had been present in Madaya.

I asked if they had seen ISIS themselves. Their reply: “ISIS killed a civilian outside the shop.” As it turned out, when the man was shot, residents were protesting the presence of ISIS in the town.

I asked whether people had protested the presence of other militants. “Yes,” they said, “there were protests against the armed groups, and in support of the government, asking the government to come to Madaya. ISIS killed three protesters and another seven were injured.” Indeed, I had seen a video of Madaya residents marching in support of the Syrian president and against the armed factions.

© Eva Bartlett/MintPress News
The Mayor of Madaya, standing near buildings once occupied by “moderate rebels” who sniped and fired mortars on the road below

To my question whether Western media was right, that the Syrian government had starved them, the four men answered ‘no’ in unison, talking over one another to make their point.

“It was not the government that starved us, it was the armed groups,” a middle-aged man said.

“The government provided us in Madaya with supplies that would have been enough for 20 years,” a younger man exaggerated, making the point there was ample food in the town. “We received aid convoys, but the armed groups would steal the supplies and monopolize them.”

He said he had sold his car in order to buy overpriced food from Ahrar al-Sham and al-Qaeda: “They sold us a kilogram of rice for 100,000 Syrian pounds.”

At current exchange rates, this came to around US$200.

An older man nicknamed Abu Sharif said repeatedly that militants had hoarded food and extorted civilians, and added:

“After the Syrian army entered, they found 50 storage units of food, also medicine. They are still uncovering storages.” According to this man, the militants also stole jewelry from women, and forced them to dress fully covered. “They called us ‘kuffars’ and said we weren’t real Muslims.”

The mukhtar maintained: “The siege from the Syrian army had the effect that the terrorists started surrendering themselves at Syrian army posts.” Indeed, SANA reported in June 2015 that 11 armed men had turned themselves in and – even prior to the siege, in August 2014 – over 250 militants had joined the reconciliation process:

“The siege was on the militants, if they hadn’t been here, there would have been no siege. There’s no siege now, everything is open.”

Prisons, civilian shields, and a bomb factory

© Eva Bartlett/MintPress News
Crude graffiti bearing the symbols of Ahrar al-Sham, the dominant Islamist rebel group that once occupied Madaya, in an area of modern apartments and villas

With the mayor, two villagers, and my driver/translator, we drove from the town hub and along winding roads leading to an area of attractive apartment homes at the edge of the town.

Stopping the car en route, the mayor pointed at a small school, one of six in the town. A few stories high, its walls had been blown out, presumably by Syrian army shelling. “It’s an elementary school. The militants occupied it and took it as a stronghold and fired from it,” he said, saying that terrorists had occupied all of the town’s schools.

In his investigations, Aleppo journalist Khaled Iskef highlighted why armed groups had occupied schools. According to a former fighter for the Shami Front whom Iskef interviewed, “Terrorists use schools because the infrastructure is solid and they have cellars to use for munitions storage and prisons.”

Watch | Khaled Iskef’s report highlights armed rebels occupying schools

Madaya never had a hospital, only a small clinic, which the locals said terrorists had closed to the public. The regional hospital for the area is in nearby Zabadani. Yet, by November 2016, reports on Madaya’s nonexistent hospital included this headline from the Qatar-funded Middle East Eye: “As Madaya’s last hospital closes…”

This is the same ‘last hospital’ theme that abounded in propaganda around Aleppo.

The town did have a small medical clinic, though. In the media spin around Madaya, purportedly heroic non-MDs were treating the citizens of Madaya, including one dentist and one veterinarian.

According to the mayor and other men I spoke with, though, only terrorists and their families were treated or given access to medicines. Given that this accusation was later widely heard from civilians in liberated areas of Aleppo, and given that the terrorists in question were al-Qaeda and Ahrar al-Sham (which the U.S. Congress lists as a terrorist group in its own documents), it is highly unlikely that the Madaya people who alleged this were not telling the truth.

Madaya’s mayor said he knew the two “hero doctors.” Of the dentist, the mayor said he benefited from helping the militants. “He could get whatever he want[ed] from them, like food and medicine, and he became famous in the media.”

The video on this hero doctor was Netherlands-produced (a country which supports the ‘opposition’), and featured a Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) board member. SAMS purports to be a “nonpolitical, nonprofit, professional and medical relief organization,” but supports al-Qaeda-occupied areas in Syria. Their own website notes meetings with the State Department, Homeland Security, and other establishment policymakers, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry – all deeply involved in the U.S. war on Syria.

Comment: Basically, the video about the “hero doctors” was Western-produced propaganda that bore little relation to the facts on the ground in Madaya.

In addition to occupying schools, “moderate rebels” occupied apartment buildings and the luxurious villas, turning some into prisons. Standing next one apartment, the men told me that it and buildings across the road were used by the occupiers to bomb and snipe the Madaya-Zabadani road below:

“The civilians living below were like human shields for the terrorists. The army couldn’t shoot at the terrorists easily because they’d risk hitting the civilians.”

© Eva Bartlett/MintPress News
The outside of a villa used by rebels as a tunnel entrance. The idyllic mountain view was marred only by the signs of battle: an empty swimming pool lightly littered with rubble, and a villa beyond, roof and walls blown out by shelling

I asked how life was in Madaya before 2011. “Madaya was a tourist’s paradise,” the mayor replied, smiling, eyes closed, remembering. “People who came from outside of Syria would come to Madaya,” to enjoy the environment of natural beauty.

Further on among the hillside dwellings, we stood near an apartment that had been occupied, one floor turned into a prison to hold locals until their fates (including execution) were decided in terrorists’ Sharia trials.

Nestled behind the apartment, out of view, was a factory where terrorists manufactured mortars and rockets.

Watch | Hidden factory where mortars and rockets were manufactured by terrorists

Above that factory, one of the food storage caches was found after militants had left Madaya. The mayor said, “Last time the army found a storage with more than 400 cartons of food.” Syrian authorities filled five trucks with medicine hoarded by the armed groups, he said.

Walking gingerly over rubble, not yet cleared by engineers of any unexploded ordinance, we reached the bomb workshop, a single ground-level room. Equipment and materials for manufacturing explosives still lay scattered.

Down the lane, another villa had also been used as a headquarters and prison until it was hit by Syrian army shelling, forcing the “rebels” to relocate. Another mass food storage was found in a neighboring building, the mayor said.

Entering the relocated prison through a hole blown into the wall, I walked past a room containing a cooking stove and refrigerator, both booby-trapped by terrorists to kill whoever tried to move them. I had learned of this tactic in 2014 in the old city of Homs.

Watch | Our visit to the relocated prison

“They left booby-trapped explosives in the houses, all over, even behind paintings on the wall,” I was told. Similarly, in Maaloula in June 2016, I was told: “They rigged houses so that when someone opened the door, an electrical trigger with a small charge would detonate and explode a gas canister.”

Two rooms, metal doors welded onto the entrances, had been used as cells. In the middle of another room, a metal bed frame with a piece of cloth tethered at one end. “They interrogated and tortured people here,” a former FSA militant said. An unwilling participant, he said he was forced by other militants to join, and that he was among the first to take the government-offered amnesty when peace was restored to Madaya in May 2017.

In neighboring Buqayn, Ahrar al-Sham transformed the municipality building into a prison, fortified with sandbagging and bricks. The dank cells were sealed with the same solid metal doors.

A soft-spoken employee of the municipality, limping as he walked, came over to tell me how he was shot at close range. Leaning on a crutch with prayer beads wrapped around the handle, he explained his injury. Recounting that terrorists had shot at the truck he and three others were in, he said, “the driver was killed and we were all injured. … We were subject to shooting many times.”

Watch | Municipal employee describes being shot by terrorists as part of intimidation campaign

The reason for the attacks? To intimidate them from returning to work at the municipality. Three surgeries later, still needing another, the man said his wounded leg is now seven centimeters shorter than his good leg.

Below and beyond the village, in a sitting room away from the June sun, a farmer-turned-soldier, still wearing his military uniform, spoke of why he took up arms in support of the Syrian army:

Life was good here, we were living well. When things turned violent in the area, I and other men from the area volunteered to support the Syrian army.”

He and others warned Madaya locals not to fall for the political game that originated from America, Israel, Turkey and others, he said – also pointing out that sectarianism was never a way for most Syrians, that it came from Saudi Arabia and other outside forces:

If you came and visited our home, slept in our home, we never asked what religion you were.”

As I left, he insisted on giving me bags filled with cherries and other fruits grown on his land.

Al-Waer at peace

© SANA via AP
A Syrian family embracing after arriving from Jarablus, in Aleppo province, to their old neighborhood of al-Waer, in Homs, Syria, July. 11, 2017

To the west of Homs lies the suburb of al-Waer. In December 2015, when a truce was holding, I had stood at a Syrian army checkpoint on the western outskirts of al-Waer, speaking with residents as they crossed back into the district with food from outside and bags of bread from the industrial-sized bakery to the side of the road.

Trucks loaded with eggs, meat and medicines waited to enter the district. Zakariya Sha’ar, a doctor bringing medicine, mentioned the presence of non-Syrian militants, including Saudis, Tunisians, and Chechens, among others.

As I stood on the road, less than 100 meters from the checkpoint of the militants, I was cautioned to step back: “It’s not safe, at any moment they could do anything, break the ceasefire.”

Inside the bakery, I saw locals producing the bread that would go into al-Waer. I was told the wheat was provided by the Syrian government.

Watch | Footage inside the al-Waer Bread Factory, Homs

Syrian Minister Ali Haidar told me that armed groups had gathered in al-Waer due to its large population, around 300,000 people:

They [the armed groups] entered al-Waer, closed it off, and turned it into a zone to fight the government. The large number of civilians made the government unable to start a direct battle against the militants. Therefore, we remained around the neighborhood.”

According to Haidar, the Ministry started attempts at broaching reconciliation at the end of 2013, and reached an agreement at the beginning of 2014:

However, the large number of the militant groups in al-Waer, the internal disputes among them-and most importantly the control of al-Nusra over other militant groups-hindered the project after we had begun.”

The reconciliation effort began anew early 2016 but, again due to the presence of al-Qaeda, was delayed for a year – hampered by “external directives, mainly Qatari, to leaders of militant groups to hinder the project,” Haidar said, “[in order] to cause problems outside al-Waer.”

When from March to May 2017 the evacuations did finally occur, no UN personnel were involved, Haidar said, only the Syrian Red Crescent, Russian military police, and Syrian security personnel. As with evacuations elsewhere in Syria, militants left with light arms.

According to a detailed breakdown (provided to me at the Ministry of Reconciliation) of the 11 evacuations from March 18 to May 21, the final tally of militants who departed from al-Waer was 4,937, with a further 750 who chose to reconcile and stay in the district. Of the departed militants and their families, Minister Haidar maintained that at least 70 percent were not from al-Waer but from other areas of Homs and elsewhere.

“Immediately,” Minister Haidar told me, “we started the plan to return the locals to al-Waer.” As of June, there was a plan for the return of 50,000 people to al-Waer over the next couple of months.

Visiting secured al-Waer

© Eva Bartlett/MintPress News
Riding in a local taxi along the broad streets of al-Waer, the driver had spoken glowingly about the area’s infrastructure

In a local taxi, I approached the district with a journalist from Homs. Driving along smooth boulevards, Hayat and the driver took turns telling me about al-Waer, nicknamed “New Homs.” It was known for the green spaces and parks, the good infrastructure, she said – and impeccable infrastructure, the driver interrupted, saying “life was so good here.”

As the taxi entered al-Waer, a housing complex came into view, and apartment buildings further along, all studded with gunfire and holes from shelling. The car paused in front of a building where a boy of perhaps 12 years shoveled rubble from in front of his home. The buildings to the left of him were blackened from shelling.

© Eva Bartlett/MintPress News
A boy, about 12 years-old, clears rubble from outside of a home in al-Waer. Many homes targeted like this had been used as headquarters by the militants occupying the district

Some minutes later, we passed an empty lot with shells of buses pocked with gunfire. Further along, another bus, windows blown out, was parked across a road formerly leading to a Syrian army checkpoint. Walking along the streets, Hayat pointed to an intact multi-story apartment building, and another with shelled upper-level rooms.

“This building had civilians. That building had militants,” she said, indicating that buildings not used by militants were not targeted.

This is a difference many journalists willfully overlook, choosing instead to speak of physical destruction in general terms, ignoring and negating the presence of terrorists – whether high up in sniping and shelling vantage points, or bunkered safely below ground, as I saw in Bani Zeid, Aleppo last year – and the efforts made to confine destruction to these targets.

A green bus filled with passengers passed by, characteristic of those used in the evacuations in eastern Aleppo. They were also used in al-Waer, along with other buses, for the evacuation process. Today, as in Aleppo, the buses are back to city services. There was some life on the streets otherwise: an older man bicycled down one lane, and a child crossed the other in the distance.

In one small shop, a young clerk was reluctant to talk about life under terrorist rule, as was his father. Possibly the family supported the militants.

Another shop, unfurnished save for a faded plastic poster of a horse and another of a mother and child, was stocked with items that had been long-absent for most people. Sugar, flour, detergents, eggs, a variety of cigarettes, an array of chocolate bars and cookies, and bags of potato chips, instant noodles, and other non-perishable food items filled the shelves.

The shop owner said they had suffered from hunger. “The armed groups wouldn’t give us anything at all,” he said. “The opportunists, you mean,” remarked an older man, a friend, who had walked in. The latter continued: “One kilogram of salt reached 8,000 Syrian pounds (US $16), one bag of bread 3,000 pounds (US $6).”

© Eva Bartlett/MintPress News
A small shop with shelves no longer empty after militants left and the military siege was subsequently lifted

I asked about the bakery I had seen in 2015, and whether bread in fact regularly entered the district. “Yes,” said the second man, “it did,” but the militants would sell it at the inflated prices he had mentioned.

A man selling cigarettes on a street corner, his makeshift table stacked with cigarette cartons, said he hadn’t left al-Waer during the presence of the militants – it was and is his home.

“Life was very, very bad. There was no food, they used to take the food for themselves,” he said of the armed groups, continuing with the same complaints as the others I’d spoken with: “They would sell it to us with a price they decided,” he said, citing similar exorbitant prices for flour, sugar, and basics.

A father of six children, he worried about their future after so many years of war. We parted with his last words:

But now the army is here, they are doing good, hopefully everything will return back to how it was.”

Further on in the district, three men worked clearing rubble from around a home badly damaged on the ground level. They waved and greeted us as our taxi stopped, but went silent and refused to speak when noticing my camera. A level up, a woman’s face peered out a small hole in the wall, then her hand reached out and gestured to come upstairs.

© Eva Bartlett/MintPress News
After reconciling with the Syrian government, former militants clear debris as they rebuild their homes, and their lives

She was one of the many who left al-Waer, departing in 2013 and renting elsewhere in Homs. She said her life prior to 2011 was wonderful, and was strongly optimistic for the future:

“People are coming back home. Although many houses are destroyed, they are inhabited. If they are destroyed, we’ll rebuild them. What matters is that we’ve got rid of those bastards,” she said of the militants dubbed “moderate rebels” by western media and politicians.

The men below, it turned out, had been militants, but took amnesty and reconciled with the state, and are returning to their lives.

This was hard for me to process: living in the same building is a family evidently patriotic-the woman’s brother is in the Syrian army and she herself praised both the army and government-and the very former militants the family fled from, men who took up guns against both the government and in many cases civilians.

I asked if she knew her neighbors well. “Of course,” she answered. “But some people were brainwashed by others about ‘bad people, oppressing people.’ So, there were guys who joined those bastards,” she said of the militants.

As we spoke, one of the men came into the room. We shifted the conversation to casual talk about her family. After he left the room, she explained quietly that he was keeping an eye on her, what she might be saying to me. I was again struck by the strangeness of the situation, and when he had left, asked her if she wasn’t afraid to be living above the men.

“The state is here, we aren’t afraid. They’ve provided everything for us, are helping us, mash’allah,” she replied.

I stopped on the stairs leading from her apartment, listening to the call to prayer coming from the nearby mosque, watching as life trickled along the streets of the badly damaged district.

Watch | Pausing to listen to the call to prayer from nearby mosque

The sounds of shoveling rubble below were both a reminder of the militants who had been a part of this destruction and of the fact that they too want to rebuild and get on with life.

Epilogue

© SANA via AP
Syrians arriving from Jarablus, in Aleppo province, to their old neighborhood of al-Waer, in Homs, Syria, July 11, 2017

When at the Ministry of Reconciliation later, waiting for my meeting with the Minister, I saw many women and some men also waiting to talk with someone at the Ministry, about their loved ones, militants who had left another restored district, Qudsaya, for Idlib in October 2016. The militants wanted to come home.

The minister’s office also told me at the time that 72 families had already returned to more-recently secured al-Waer, from Jarabulus.

On July 11, Syrian state media, SANA, reported: “Fourteen buses carrying about 150 families, including 630 persons from the residents of al-Waer neighborhood, have arrived in Homs city coming from Jarabulus.” The report noted that this was the fifth group of families returning from Jarabulus or Idlib, and that many more families were scheduled to return.

Comment: Previously: Eva Bartlett’s Syria War Diary: What Life Is Like Under “Moderate” Rebel Rule

RUSSIAN TROOPS ESTABLISHED TEMPORARY BRIDGE TROUGHT EUPHRATES NEAR DEIR EZZOR (VIDEO, PHOTOS)- By UPROOTED pALESTINIANS

Russian Troops Established Temporary Bridge Trought Euphrates Near Deir Ezzor (Video, Photos)

Russian troops have established a temprary bridge through the Euphrates River near Deir Ezzor city, the Russian military’s TV channel Zvezda reported on Tuesday.

According to Zvezda, the bridge was established under a constant fire from ISIS terrorists within 2 days. The Russian task force suffered no casualties.

The length of the bridge is 200 m. It allows to transfer cars, armoured vehicles and battle tanks from the western to the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

Zvezda’s article argues that the birde is established for conducting humanitarian missions and delivering aid to civilians in Deir Ezzor.

However, it’s hard to believe that the 200-m long bridge is needed for this. Especially considering the fact, that a major part of the eastern bank is still in the hands of ISIS.

Most likely, this bridge will be an important supply line for governmnet troops operating against ISIS northeast of Deir Ezzor city.

At the same time, the Russian state-run Russia 1 channel clearly says that thebridge will be used as a supply line for government troops fighting ISIS:

Screenshots from Zvezda’s video:

Russian Troops Established Temporary Bridge Trought Euphrates Near Deir Ezzor (Video, Photos)

Russian Troops Established Temporary Bridge Trought Euphrates Near Deir Ezzor (Video, Photos)

Russian Troops Established Temporary Bridge Trought Euphrates Near Deir Ezzor (Video, Photos)

Russian Troops Established Temporary Bridge Trought Euphrates Near Deir Ezzor (Video, Photos)

Russian Troops Established Temporary Bridge Trought Euphrates Near Deir Ezzor (Video, Photos)

Russian Troops Established Temporary Bridge Trought Euphrates Near Deir Ezzor (Video, Photos)

Russian Troops Established Temporary Bridge Trought Euphrates Near Deir Ezzor (Video, Photos)

Zvezda’s video:

https://tvzvezda.ru/news/forces/content/201709260811-edv9.htm/player/

 

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Russian bombers wipe out terrorist targets in Syria with cruise missiles – By Military & Defense September 26, 16:39 UTC+3

September 26, 16:39 UTC+3

According to the Russian military, all targets were located at a safe distance from the US-led coalition force and Syrian Democratic Forces groups

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Tu-95MS strategic bomber

Tu-95MS strategic bomber

© Russian Defense Ministry’s Press and Information Department/TASS

MOSCOW, September 26. /TASS/. Russian strategic bombers hit command centers belonging to the terrorists and munitions depots in Syria with Kh-101 cruise missiles, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Tuesday.

“Tu-95MS strategic bombers delivered a strike with cruise missiles at terrorist groups’ targets in Syria. The bombers took off from the Engels airfield in Russia and flew over Iran and Iraq,” he said.

“The strategic bombers’ crews fired cruise missiles Kh-101 at most important Islamic State and Al-Nusra (both outlawed in Russia as terrorist organizations) targets detected by reconnaissance in the provinces of Deir ez-Zor and Idlib. The sudden strike hit terrorists’ command centers, areas of concentration of militants and their weapons, as well as munitions depots. Objective control data confirmed that all targets have been hit,” he said.

The Kh-101 is the Russian strategic airborne cruise missile based on modern stealth technologies. It is capable of striking targets at a distance of up to 4,500 km. Kh-101 missiles can carry nuclear warheads.

 

The details of the operation 

All targets hit by Russia’s planes were located at a distance from populated areas and safely away from positions of US commando units and militants of the Syrian Democratic Forces:

“The attacks against the Islamic State near Deir ez-Zor were carried out to support successful offensive operations by the Syrian army to wipe out the terrorists’ last stronghold. In particular, I would like to emphasize the fact that all the targets hit were outside populated areas and safely away from US commandos’ strongholds and militants of the Syrian Democratic Forces located in the Islamic State-held areas,” the spokesman said.

Konashenkov added that aerial images of the vicinity of Deir ez-Zor the Russian Defense Ministry presented earlier showed these facilities clearly enough.

“For the sake of ensuring the security of US forces and Kurdish groups we refrain from mentioning the exact locations of these strongholds,” he noted.

Konashenkov pointed out once again that the photos of Islamic State strongholds taken over by US commando units showed no traces of hostilities.

“There are no craters artillery shells or air bombs might have left. Nor are there any guards or defense fortifications. On the basis of the two-year combat experience gained by Russian special forces operating in the rear of the Islamic State forces one cannot but ask who the US commando units are fighting side by side and against whom,” he said.

“We have received no plausible explanations on that score yet,” he said.

Earlier, the Defense Ministry published on its official Facebook page a series of aerial images of the area of Deir ez-Zor and marked the locations of US commando units. The Defense Ministry then said that US commandoes were arranging for the free passage of the Syrian Democratic Forces’ militants through Islamic State combat formations.

More:
http://tass.com/defense/967564

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