US ‘losing its cards’ in Syria: Highlights of RT’s interview with Bashar Assad – By RT

 

US ‘losing its cards’ in Syria: Highlights of  RT’s interview with Bashar Assad
Washington and its “puppets” tried, and failed, to destroy Syria – and the US military will eventually be forced out of the country: These are a few of the highlights from RT’s exclusive interview with President Bashar Assad.

Speaking with RT’s Murad Gazdiev in Damascus, Assad commented on a range of topics, from the threat of direct conflict between the US and Russia, to why he doesn’t fear Israeli assassination threats.

On Victory: ‘It’s self-evident’ that Syria is ‘moving closer to the end of the conflict’

Assad noted that the “majority” of Syria is now under government control, but said that continued provocations and escalations by the United States and its allies have needlessly prolonged the seven-year conflict. With each Syrian military victory or successful reconciliation effort, the US and its partners have attempted to counteract these gains by “supporting more terrorism, bringing more terrorists to Syria, or by hindering the political process,” Assad said.

However, he stated that it was “self-evident” that “we are moving closer to the end of the conflict,” adding that “without external interference it won’t take more than a year to settle the situation in Syria.”

The Syrian leader said that whenever possible, his government has chosen negotiations and reconciliation over use of force.

“War is the worst choice but sometimes you only have this choice,” Assad told RT. “Factions like Al-Qaeda, like ISIS, like Al-Nusra, and the like-minded groups, they’re not ready for any dialogue… So, the only option to deal with those factions is force.”

He defended the government’s use of ceasefires and allowing extremists to withdraw to Idlib province, describing the agreements as strategically advantageous for the Syrian army. “If you have two or three frontiers, that’s better than having 10, maybe more than 100 at the time.”

 

On the US: Washington ‘losing its cards’ in Syria

 Although the US forces continue to operate illegally in Syria, they will eventually be forced out of the country, Assad told RT.

“The United States is losing its cards. The main card was Al-Nusra, that was called ‘moderate,’ but when scandals started leaking that they’re not moderate, that they’re Al-Qaeda, which is supposed to be fought by the United States, they started looking for another card. This card is the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces] now,” he said, referring to the US-backed militia group. According to Assad, once Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and Al-Nusra are exterminated, the Syrian military will turn its attention on the SDF.

“We’re going to use two methods to deal with the SDF: The first one, we started opening doors for negotiations – because the majority of them are Syrians. And supposedly they like their country, they don’t like being puppets to any foreigners – that’s what we suppose.” Assad said that these commonly-shared values could allow reconciliation with the government. “We all don’t trust the Americans, [so] the one option is to live with each other as Syrians.” However, if negotiations fail, the Syrian army will be forced to liberate areas occupied by the SDF, with the Americans, or without the Americans.”

On this point Assad was adamant: “This is our land, it’s our right, it’s our duty. To liberate [these areas], and the Americans should leave. Somehow, they’re going to leave. They came to Iraq with no legal basis. And look what happened to them. They have to learn their lesson.”

 

On Russia: Moscow’s leadership prevented ‘direct conflict’ with US military

 Syria’s president heaped praise on Moscow, claiming that Russian “wisdom” had prevented a direct conflict between Russian and American forces in Syria. “We were close to having direct conflict between the Russian forces and the American forces, and fortunately, it has been avoided, not by the wisdom of the American leadership, but by the wisdom of the Russian leadership.”

While Assad reiterated that the United States military was not welcome in Syria, he said that avoiding escalation was the key to restoring Syria’s territorial integrity. “We need the Russian support, but we need, at the same time to avoid the American foolishness in order to be able to stabilize our country.”

He emphasized that Russia has shown restraint – not weakness – in Syria, noting how Russian warnings had likely dissuaded Trump from launching a full-scale attack against Damascus.

“The Russians announced publicly that they are going to destroy the bases that are going to be used to launch missiles, and our information – we don’t have evidence, we only have information, and that information is credible information – that they were thinking about a comprehensive attack all over Syria, and that’s why the threat pushed the West to make it on a much smaller scale,” the Syrian president said.

 

On Israel: No longer phased by ‘threat of Israeli aggression,’ Tel Aviv in ‘panic’

 Assad shrugged off Israeli threats against his own life, telling Gazdiev that “my generation – and most of the generations in Syria now – has lived under the threat of Israeli aggression. This is something in our unconscious feeling. So to say that you are afraid while living with the same threat for decades – this is nonsense.” He said that the fact that Tel Aviv has resorted to threats suggests that the Israelis are panicking.

“The Israelis have been assassinating, killing, occupying for decades now, for around seven decades, in this region, but usually they do all this without threatening. Now, why do they threaten in this way? This is panic, this is a kind of hysterical feeling because they are losing the ‘dear ones,’ the dear ones Al-Nusra and ISIS, that’s why Israel is panicking recently, and we understand their feeling.”

He said reports that Syria was helpless to stop Israeli airstrikes were inaccurate. “Our air defense is much stronger than before, thanks to the Russian support and the recent attacks by the Israelis and by the Americans and British and French proved that we are in a better situation” than at the start of the conflict seven years ago, he said. However, Assad noted that when foreign-backed fighters first poured into Syria, the first thing they did was target air defense systems – suggesting a “direct link” between the terrorists groups and Israel.

On chemical attacks: ‘Is it in our interest? Why? And why now?’

Syria’s president described the string of alleged chemical attacks as provocations that have ultimately failed to persuade the international community to give the US and its allies a military mandate in Syria.

Washington and its allies blamed the last such attack, in April, on Damascus, but Assad insisted that the Western narrative makes no sense.

“The timing of this alleged strike was after the victory of the Syrian troops in Ghouta. Let alone the fact that we don’t have chemical weapons anyway,” he told RT. Pointing to multiple reports of civilians and medical workers in the area having no knowledge of a chemical attack – with some even appearing in the Western press – Assad concluded that the alleged incident was a last-ditch Western attempt to sway international opinion – one that failed.

“They told a story, they told a lie, and the public opinion around the world and in the West didn’t buy their story, but they couldn’t withdraw. So, they had to do something, even on a smaller scale,” Assad said, referring to the joint airstrikes against purported Syrian chemical weapons facilities, carried out on April 14 by the US, UK, and France.

However, Assad acknowledged that nothing was stopping Washington from attempting similar provocations in the future. The US has “trampled on international law,” and “there’s no guarantee that it won’t happen [again].”

Assad asked: “What was the legal basis of [the April missile] attack? [Or] the so-called anti-terrorist alliance, which supports the terrorists, actually? What is the legal basis of their attack on Yemen, Afghanistan? There’s no legal basis.”

 

On Trump: ‘What you say is what you are’

 Asked if he had a nickname for US President Donald Trump, who had previously called Assad an “animal,” Syria’s leader admitted that he wasn’t in the business of name-calling.

“This is not my language, so, I cannot use similar language. This is his language. It represents him,” he said. “I think there is a very well known principle, that what you say is what you are. So, he wanted to represent what he is, and that’s normal,” Assad added.

“The only thing that moves you is what people that you trust, people who are level-headed, people who are thoughtful, people who are moral, ethical, that’s what should move anything inside you, whether positive or negative. Somebody like Trump will move nothing for me,” he said.

On the myth of Syria’s ‘civil’ war: It was foreign-backed regime change

 Assad disputed claims that the seven-year conflict has been a “civil war,” pointing out that there is no sectarian or ethnic conflicts in the areas currently controlled by the government. “Now in Damascus, in Aleppo, in Homs, in every area under Syrian government control, you will see [the whole] spectrum of Syrian society. With no exceptions.”

He noted that the term ‘civil war’ had been used widely since the beginning of the conflict in Syria – but it does not correctly characterize the conflict.

“A Syrian civil war means there are lines based either on ethnicities or sects or religion. Or maybe political opinion. In reality, in the areas in direct control by the government, which is now the majority of Syria, you have all this diversity,” Assad said. “So the word civil war is not correct. What we have actually, from the very beginning – mercenaries, Syrians and foreigners being paid by the West in order to topple the government. This is the mere reality. Everything else is just a mask to cover the real intentions.”

Trump Set to Recognize Israel’s Claim to Occupied Golan Heights and Its Sizable Oil Reserves – By Whitney Webb (MINT PRESS)

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, talks with Israeli soldiers at a military outpost during a visit at Mount Hermon in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overlooking the Israel-Syria border on, Feb. 4, 2015. Baz Ratner | AP

Exporting Golan oil is problematic under international law but, were the U.S. to unilaterally recognize the Golan as Israel’s, that oil could potentially be exported to the U.S. Major U.S. oil investors and lobbyists are therefore pushing hard for Trump to make that move.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – While President Trump has reneged on many of his campaign promises — namely, those more populist and non-interventionist in nature — he has undeniably fulfilled those that appealed to his pro-Israel, Zionist supporters. First, Trump announced late last year that his administration would officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This move was then followed by his more recent decision to unilaterally remove the U.S. from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal, which has long been criticized by Israel.

Both moves were highly controversial and poorly received by many U.S. allies, particularly European nations. They were also both orchestrated and promoted by Trump’s top donor, Zionist billionaire and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who donated $30 million to the Republican Party following Trump’s fulfillment of his two major pro-Israel promises. Adelson was also responsible for the removal of H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser and his replacement with pro-Israel hawk and Adelson confidant John Bolton.

However, recent statements made by Israeli government officials suggest that Trump’s work on behalf of pro-Israel hard-liners is only just beginning. According to an exclusive report published in Reuters, the Israeli government is now pushing the Trump administration to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, a portion of Southern Syria that Israel has occupied since 1967 and annexed in 1981.

International law still refuses to recognize the area as part of Israel, even though Israel has sent over 20,000 Jewish settlers to live in the area in order to permanently change the area’s ethnic-demographic composition, turning the native Druze population into a minority. Many of the Druze living in the occupied Golan have long complained of being routinely discriminated against under Israeli rule, and continue to support the Syrian government. In addition, the UN has accused Israel of “forcing citizenship” onto the group in a bid to increase its claim to sovereignty over the region. Israel hopes to add an additional 100,000 Jewish settlers to the area by 2020 in order to strengthen this claim.

Israel’s Intelligence Minister, Israel Katz, told Reuters that Washington’s endorsement of Israel’s control of the Golan Heights was now “topping the agenda” in bilateral diplomatic talks between the two countries, and that such a move would likely come within a matter of months. Katz stated that U.S. recognition of the Golan was being peddled to the Trump administration as a way to further counter Iran, which has now become the guiding force behind the U.S.’ Middle East policy.

Katz asserted:

This is the perfect time to make such a move. The most painful response you can give the Iranians is to recognize Israel’s Golan sovereignty — with an American statement, a presidential proclamation, enshrined [in law].”

Apparently, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been pressing Trump on the issue since February of last year, when Netanyahu first met Trump at the White House. Now, Katz has claimed that those discussions have vastly expanded to involve various levels of the U.S. administration as well as several Congressmen.

“I reckon there is great ripeness and a high probability this will happen […] give or take a few months,” Katz opined.

 

In the Golan Heights, Oil and Water mix perfectly

An old Israeli tank sits in a position in the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights near the border with Syria,Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.

Katz may indeed have reason to be confident in an upcoming U.S. move that would recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory. Yet, while Katz has claimed that the motivation for such a move would benefit the U.S.’ new and aggressive Iran policy, it is more likely to benefit an Israeli resource grab, as well as powerful Israeli and American oil interests.

A major factor behind Israel’s initial seizure and continued occupation of the Golan are its fresh water resources. Indeed, the occupied Golan is one of three sources of fresh water to the Israeli state — and is the largest in size and most plentiful, as it comprises the mountain streams that feed Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) and the headwaters of the Jordan river. This water is of major importance to Israel, now in its fourth year of a drought so massive that a NASA study called it the worst drought in the region in nearly 900 years.

Yet, the Golan’s importance to Israel grew immensely after massive oil reserves in the area were discovered in 2015. Following that discovery, the Netanyahu-led government granted exclusive drilling rights to Afek, an Israeli subsidiary of New Jersey-based energy company Genie Energy, Ltd.

As MintPress has previously reported, Genie Energy is backed by powerful interests in the U.S., such as former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, former Vice President and Halliburton executive Dick Cheney, and former CIA Director James Woolsey. Powerful Zionist billionaires, such as Australian-born media mogul Rupert Murdoch and England’s Jacob Rothschild, are also connected to the company.

Afek, Genie Energy’s subsidiary in the Golan, is run by a close friend of Netanyahu and former Knesset member Efraim “Effie” Eitam. Eitam, who also previously served as minister of National Infrastructure as well as Housing and Construction, has repeatedly called to expel all Arabs from Israel, stating in 2006 that “we cannot be with all these Arabs and we cannot give up the land […] we will have to make another decision, to remove the Israeli Arabs from the political system.” Eitam currently lives in Israel’s largest illegal settlement in the occupied Golan.

Genie Energy’s investments in the Golan are likely the strongest factor pushing the U.S. towards the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the occupied territory. Indeed, without a U.S. move recognizing Israel’s control over the region, Genie’s Israeli subsidiary will be unable to sell any oil it extracts from the occupied territory on the international oil market.

However, were the U.S. to unilaterally recognize the Golan as Israel’s, that oil could potentially be exported to the U.S. Given that Genie’s contract to conduct exploratory drilling in the Golan Heights expires this year, its investors are in urgent need of a way to extract and sell the region’s oil – and a U.S. decision on Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights could be just the answer to the company’s problems.

Top Photo | Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, talks with Israeli soldiers at a military outpost during a visit at Mount Hermon in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights overlooking the Israel-Syria border on, Feb. 4, 2015. Baz Ratner | AP

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

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New rules of engagement: Syrians succeeded in striking Israeli military targets in Golan – Israeli censorship won’t let the truth out – By Sayed Hasan (The Saker)(SOTT)

Israel attacks Syria from Golan Heights 10 May 2018

© Reuters

On Thursday 10th May 2018, an unprecedented exchange of strikes happened between Israel and Syria. The mainstream media, as well as some “alternative” media like Russia Today, were quick to relay the Israeli army version, according to which the Zionist entity “retaliated” to an “Iranian attack by Revolutionary Guards’ Al-Quds Force” consisting of “twenty rockets” fired at Israeli positions in the occupied Golan, four of which were “intercepted by the Iron Dome” and the others “crashed into Syrian territory”, no damage being recorded in Israel. Israel has reportedly responded to this unprecedented “act of aggression” by a “large-scale operation” that would have destroyed “the entire Iranian infrastructure in Syria”, in order to deter the Islamic Republic from any stray impulse of future strikes.

This narrative takes for granted the postulates, data and myths of the Zionist entity’s propaganda – which imposes permanent military censorship on the Israeli media, exposing any offender to a prison sentence; and reading the international media, one might get the idea that, like American economic sanctions, this censorship is extraterritorial – but none of them can withstand scrutiny.

The aggressor is undoubtedly Israel, who carried out more than a hundred strikes against Syria since the beginning of the conflict. After Duma’s chemical stage attacks, this aggression intensified with attacks on the Syrian T-4 base on April 9, which killed 7 Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Following the US announcement of withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, new Israeli strikes targeted Syrian positions on Tuesday (May 8th) in the southern suburbs of Damascus, and Wednesday (May 9th) in Quneitra, in the south of the country. Undeniably, Syria has only responded to yet another aggression, with a firmness that has shaken Israel and forced it out of the muteness to which it usually confines itself.

The Syrian – and not Iranian – response consisted of more than fifty – and not twenty – rockets against four sensitive Israeli military bases in the occupied Golan, which caused material damage and even casualties according to Al-Manar, Hezbollah’s media. These were not reported by the Israeli press because of the draconian military censorship forbidding mentioning Israel’s initial aggression, more than twenty rockets fired on Israel, the identification of their targets and any hint to the damage inflicted, in order to reassure the population inside and allow the vassal Western capitals to shout their sickening refrain of the sacrosanct-right-of-Israel-to-defend-itself. The Lebanese channel Al-Mayadeen specifically identified the military posts struck: 1/ a military technical and electronic reconnaissance center; 2/ border security and intelligence station 9900; 3/ a military center for electronic jamming; 3/ a military spy center for wireless and wired networks; 4/ a transmission station; 5/ an observatory of precision weapons unit ; 6/ a combat heliport; 7/ the headquarters of the Regional Military Command of Brigade 810; 8/ the command center of the military battalion at Hermon; 9/ winter headquarters of a special alpine unit. And as this channel has reported, even Israeli journalists and analysts have expressed doubts about this unconvincing version according to which these massive strikes, unprecedented since 1974 and therefore unexpected, would have proved harmless. Moreover, as Norman Finkelstein pointed out, nothing has changed for Israel’s wars in Gaza from 2008 to 2014 despite the deployment of the “Iron Dome”, only 5% of the – largely primitive – Hamas rockets being intercepted during “Protective Edge”; and one of the best missile defense specialists, Theodore Postol of MIT, has already revealed the chronic deficiencies of this system. It is unlikely that it was able to cope better with the much more sophisticated Russian, Chinese and Iranian rocket launchers that Syria has.

Comment: Ziad Fadel reports that his Damascus source, Monzer, related to him the following details:

It is obvious to all of us that Iran’s reaction to the airstrike on the Tiyaas Airbase which killed about 7 of its military advisors last week was a test of Tehran’s resolve. We were not disappointed. Iran and Syria fired over 20 ground-based rockets at Zionist positions on the Golan Heights. The rockets hit a surveillance facility killing all 4 Zionist terrorists inside with 2 being from the Zionist Druze community in northern Palestine. The rockets also hit directly an early detection radar station with no data on casualties. Other missiles were aimed at a tank battalion. There were many killed or wounded in the Syrian rocket attack.

We know this from reports coming from villagers on the Golan who saw and heard over 50 ambulances rushing to the scenes of destruction and the whirs of helicopters medvac-ing the casualties out of the area. Unlike what the MSM reports here in the West, the Zionists took a big hit in this one when they were least expecting it.

The success of the Israeli strikes, which, according to Israeli War Minister Avigdor Lieberman, almost destroyed “all of Iran’s infrastructure in Syria”, is largely exaggerated: Russian military officials, whose radars have followed this fight in real time, announced that more than half of the 60 missiles fired by 28 Israeli F-15s and F-16s – as well as 10 ground-to-ground missiles – were intercepted. The Syrian army records 3 dead and 2 wounded, a radar station and ammunition depot destroyed and material damage to Syrian anti-aircraft defense units. The latter have already demonstrated their effectiveness against strikes from Tel Aviv, Washington, London and Paris, unlike the mythical “Iron Dome” whose main role is to reassure the Israeli population.

Comment: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports 42 casualties over the two days of Israeli strikes (May 8 to May 10), including 19 Iranians and at least 6 Syrian soldiers.

The very presence of Iranian military bases and / or large Iranian contingents in Syria is a fable: Iran has only a modest presence (essentially composed of military advisers, indeed from the body of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards), unlike Hezbollah or Russia. Robert Fisk points out that “an Israeli statement that the Iranians had missiles in Syria was surely made in concert with the Trump administration”, that the Iranian forces in Syria are “far fewer than the West imagines” and that all Israeli statements should be reported with the utmost circumspection. Any objective reporting on these events should resemble that of Robert Fisk: “The latest overnight Israeli air strikes, supposedly at Iranian forces in Syria after a supposed Iranian rocket attack on Israeli forces in Golan – and it’s important to use the “supposed” and not take all this at face value – must have been known to the Americans in advance.” Indeed, these so-called unexpected attacks had been announced for days by the Israeli army, which had already conducted a so-called “preemptive strike” – rather a provocation – on May 8.

The “red line” that this alleged Iranian presence would pose to Israel is belied by the fact that Tel Aviv has, since the beginning of the conflict, been steadily slowing the progress of the Syrian Arab Army and, using various pretexts (delivery of arms to Hezbollah, response to actual or suspected gunfire from the Golan Heights, etc.), assisting armed terrorist groups in any way possible: weapons, intelligence, airstrikes coordinated with ground offensives, medical care, etc. Israel, the only country in the world that officially does not fear anything (and indeed has nothing to fear) from ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the like, has seen the situation in Syria turn from a dream – see a myriad of terrorist groups tear down the only anti-Israeli Arab regime, back of the Resistance Axis, and bleed Hezbollah – into a nightmare – to face Hezbollah, Syrian and Iran forces more battle-hardened and powerful than ever, and allied with the Palestinian Resistance, Iraq and Yemen, as well as Russia -, is only continuing its destabilizing work under new pretexts, and more directly: Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, had announced that after the defeat of proxies in Syria, their sponsors could either give up or intervene more and more openly.

Iran, whose opposition to the racist and colonialist project of Israel has been a principle and even a dogma since the triumph of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, is not easily provoked into an ill-thought reaction, and has always preferred to act with patience for long-term objectives – let us remember its restraint after the massacre of Iranian diplomats in Afghanistan in 1998. The goal of Iran is not to carry out a simple reprisal operation to avenge her officers and soldiers deliberately (or accidentally, as was the case in Quneitra in January 2015) killed by Israel, but to work for the complete liberation of Palestine by putting an end to the illegitimate “Zionist regime”, just like the Apartheid regime in South Africa, which, by the way, collapsed after its military defeat in Angola and Namibia against Cuban mulattoes, then viewed with as much racism as Israeli Jewish supremacism considers Arabushim. As Hassan Nasrallah pointed out, Israel’s direct aggression against Iranian forces in Syria is a major turning point in the history of the Israeli-Arab – or rather, Israeli-Arab-Persian – conflict, and Israel must now get ready to confront the Iranian forces directly – whether in Syria, occupied Palestine or even elsewhere. Moreover, when the Iranian missiles enter the scene, they are launched from the territory of the Islamic Republic and with undeniable success, as shown by the strikes against ISIS at Deir-Ez-Zor on June 18, 2017, in retaliation for terrorist attacks in Tehran.

As we can see, the reality cannot be more different from the fable that has been propagated by the majority of the media. “Journalists” who tamely take over Israel’s talking points turn into IDF propaganda outlets and mere agents of Netanyahu’s “diplomacy of lies”. Israel is indeed constantly lying to the world – and, increasingly, to its own people. And when its reckless actions have disastrous repercussions, it publishes hasty and contradictory communiqués in which it presents itself both as a victim and as a hawkish punisher, while also claiming, through Lieberman and via Russia, to have no intention of stepping into an escalation and hoping things will stop there – proclaiming the success of its retaliatory strikes is also a way to say it does not want/need to go any further. The international media contented itself with repeating these statements immediately after the first attacks, without any critical distance. Rational actors like Iran, Syria and Hezbollah – or Russia – are not in such a hurry to speak out and confirm or deny other’s claims, leaving their opponents getting entangled in their lies, and trusting in the primacy of the battlefield that becomes more favorable to them day by day. Moreover, the fact that a bitter setback for Israel, which literally reverses the strategic situation, is transformed into a military success by Zionist and Atlantist propaganda, and combined with Israeli protests of non-belligerency, can only confirm the Resistance Axis in its choices.

Yoav Kish, a member of the Knesset quoted by Al-Manar, stressed that regardless of the author of the strikes and their results – that censorship forbade from mentioning -, it was a major shift in the history of the wars of Israel, which is being attacked from Syria. Indeed, the Golan military installations are now directly targeted as a result of Israeli aggressions, and not just the Israeli air force, which has already seen its finest – the F-16 – be shot down on February 10, 2018. The journalists and Israeli analysts also pointed out the psychological and economic repercussions of this incident, with more than 20,000 Golan settlers having had to hastily find their way back to the shelters in the middle of the night (how much will they be at the next escalation?), and the beginning of the summer period having been ushered in by a wave of hotel reservation deletions due to fears of a war between Israel and Iran. The Zionist entity, which unabashedly inflicts the greatest loss and damage to the Palestinians and its neighbors, is severely shaken by the slightest losses, unbearable for Israeli society.

The accusation against Iran is explained by essential factors (the inherent racism of Israeli society and its Prime Minister, who more willingly believe in a dangerousness of Persian Iran than in that of Arab Syria) and circumstantial – a refusal to assume the consequences of the suicidal policy of the Netanyahu government, which led him to a direct confrontation with the entire Resistance Axis, not to say with Russia. And most importantly, Israel wants to capitalize on Trump’s withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear deal to advance its main obsession, much older than the Syrian crisis, namely Tehran’s ballistic program, which it wants the West to end with, exploiting the perennial nuclear pretext – let us remind that the manufacture, possession and use of nuclear weapons are unlawful in Islam according to Imam Khomeini and Ali Khamenei, supreme authorities in Iran. Netanyahu has made it clear that a war with Iran is inevitable, and that it would be better to happen now than later. Since 2005, he vainly strives for the United States to launch it for him, but no negotiation, sanction or aggression will ever deter Iran from its course. And just as the Israeli strikes on April 9, which were supposed to encourage Washington, London and Paris to conduct severe strikes on Syria, ended in a bitter failure, Israel only worsened its own situation yet again and finds itself alone in the face of the disastrous consequences of its actions, to the extent of the blind arrogance that triggered them.

What about Russia? Netanyahu’s presence in Moscow for the commemoration of the 73rd anniversary of the USSR’s victory against Nazism, and reports that Russia would not deliver the S-300s to Syria, must not mislead us. Russia has invested far too much in Syria to allow anyone – be it Washington, Tel Aviv, Riyadh or Ankara – to reduce its efforts to nothing. Moscow said it would no longer tolerate Western strikes against Syria in case of a new chemical weapons masquerade, and that it is ready to provide Damascus not necessarily with the S-300 anti-aircraft system, but, according to Sergei Lavrov, with “whatever is required to help the Syrian army to deter aggression.” The current Syrian defense systems have already proven their worth – Including the Pantsir, which is much more suited to the needs of the Syrian army -, and allow to envision the day when Israel loses its only advantage, namely the air supremacy – that already was to no avail in 2006 against Hezbollah or 2014 against Gaza -, without which its supposedly “invincible” ragtag army would literally crumble. Israel’s use of ground-to-ground missiles for the first time, and the concentration of attacks on Syrian anti-aircraft defenses – IDF released the video of the destruction of a Pantsir S-1 system, probably inactive – proves that it is well aware of its limitations.

It is obvious that Israeli aggressions against Syria will be increasingly costly, both for the Israeli air force and for its internal military bases and population, because of the determination of Syria and its allies (Hezbollah and Iran) to respond to any aggression, of their experience and new capabilities, and of their successes on the ground. The Resistance Axis – of which Russia is not a part – is now able to face Israel directly on its own, with a united front and without fear of escalation. As for Israel, already overwhelmed by the peaceful demonstrations in Gaza that must culminate on May 15, it is not ready for war against a single member of the Resistance Axis, let alone against several of them simultaneously. The new equation imposed by the Syrian army on May 10 is more fearsome for Israel than the prospect of the loss of another F-16, as Damascus has shown its determination to wage war on enemy territory, and to strike the Zionist entity in its depth.

The Resistance Axis will soon have its eyes fixed on the occupied Golan, that Syria has never given up liberating by armed struggle – a right conferred by international law itself, this territory being recognized as Syrian by all the international community: any Syrian operation there is a legal and legitimate act of resistance against Israel’s 1967 aggression in and subsequent occupation, even without further provocation. As early as May 2013, Hassan Nasrallah announced Hezbollah’s participation in the opening of a new frontline in Golan. In March 2017, the Golan Liberation Brigade was formed by Iraqi Hezbollah, Harakat al-Nujaba, a movement backed by Iran and involved in the liberation of Iraq and Syria from ISIS. Today, Syrian strikes in the occupied Golan unquestionably open up a new chapter in the history of the Israeli-Arab wars, in which Israel will increasingly be forced into a defensive position. Are we going to see the IDF building a wall on the border of the occupied Golan to hinder any future invasion, as is already the case on the Lebanese-Israeli border to prevent Hezbollah’s promised incursion into the Galilee? Anyway, the next war against Israel will drastically change the map of the Middle East.

Source: sayed7asan.blogspot.fr/

Comment: Middle East correspondent Elijah Magnier had a similar analysis: Syria and Iran establish new rules of engagement with Israel: Golan Heights no longer off limits. See also Joe Quinn’s The Real Story Behind Israel’s Attack on “Iranian” Targets in Syria and Trump’s Abandonment of the Iran Deal.

Middle East teeters on brink of region-wide war after US withdrawal from Iran deal – By Jordan Shilton (WSWS)

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By Jordan Shilton
10 May 2018

Tuesday’s decision by President Donald Trump to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear agreement has pushed the Middle East to the brink of a catastrophic regional conflict that could rapidly draw in the major powers.

Within minutes of Trump’s announcement, Israeli fighter jets violated Syrian airspace to launch a missile strike on a government base close to Damascus. The strikes caused the deaths of 15 people, including at least seven Iranian military personnel stationed in the country to support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The situation escalated further late Wednesday, as reports emerged of Israeli shelling of Syrian army positions from the Golan Heights. Rocket sirens sounded in the north and explosions were heard. According to the Golan Regional Council, several towns in the region were targeted by rocket fire.

The Israeli military released a statement early Thursday accusing Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds force of firing 20 rockets at army border posts in the Golan. It claimed several projectiles had been intercepted and reported no injuries.

According to the Syrian state news agency, Sana, Israeli war planes began firing missiles at targets near Damascus early Thursday, soon after the alleged Iranian attack. As of this writing, the extent of these air raids and whether they caused any casualties remain unclear.

Tel Aviv justified Tuesday’s air strike with the unsubstantiated claim that Tehran was preparing to strike Israel in retaliation for a raid on the T4 airbase in April that claimed the lives of nine Iranians. The absurdity of such allegations is obvious, given that Iran would have nothing to gain from being the first to launch an attack just as Trump was set to announce his decision on the Iran nuclear agreement.

Everything points to the Israeli attack having been closely coordinated with the US. On Sunday, Israeli media began reporting unverified allegations of an Iranian plot to strike targets in Israel. Then on Tuesday, CNN reported that the Pentagon was concerned about alleged preparations for an Iranian strike.

In light of this, it is all but certain that the right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu, informed in advance of Trump’s decision, planned the aggressive strike on the Syrian airbase to coincide with the US announcement, with the aim of provoking a response from Iran that would serve as the pretext for a wider military assault.

The air strike was accompanied by a campaign to whip up a war fever in Israel. Amid the reports of an immanent Iranian attack, the military revealed that it had deployed additional batteries for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence shield in the north, while the US embassy in Tel Aviv prohibited US government employees from traveling to the Golan Heights without prior authorization.

Speaking from Moscow, where he traveled to secure Russian assent to Israel’s continued targeting of Iranians in Syria, Netanyahu preposterously compared the Tehran regime to the Nazis. He belligerently asserted Israel’s right to “defend itself” from “Iranian aggression,” and alleged that Iranian forces were using Syria as a base to move troops and lethal weapons into position for an attack.

Underscoring that Tuesday’s air strike is merely a foretaste of what is to come, an Israeli government defence official told Haaretz, “The strikes on the Iranian missiles in Syria are a drop in the ocean. Even the army understands that this won’t prevent missiles and other systems from arriving in the area and we’re seeing that happen.”

Trump’s abandonment of the Iranian deal is only the latest in a long line of reckless actions by US imperialism that have emboldened the unstable Zionist regime to provoke a military conflagration across the Middle East.

Israel’s bombing of Iranian targets inside Syria has been intensified following the US air strike on pro-Assad forces in early February that killed dozens of Russian military personnel in Deir Ezzor province.

Over the past month alone, Israel has struck inside Syria on at least three separate occasions, including Tuesday’s strike, killing dozens of Iranians.

Washington is encouraging Israel to go on the offensive as it prepares for war with Iran. In Syria, where the US has sought, in collaboration with Islamist “rebels,” to overthrow the pro-Iranian Assad regime for over seven years, killing hundreds of thousands of Syrians in the process, American forces are focused on thwarting attempts by Iran to open up a land bridge from Tehran to Damascus. To this end, US air power and ground forces have been directed towards holding territory in the east of Syria near the Iraqi border—territory that is also home to much of the country’s oil reserves.

In its drive to consolidate control over the energy-rich Middle East, Washington is determined to confront Russia in Syria, even at the risk of inciting a conflict fought with nuclear weapons.

Trump made clear in Tuesday’s White House address announcing Washington’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement that plans for war with Iran are far advanced. He announced that the highest level of economic sanctions would be imposed against the country, indicating that the next step in an escalation of the conflict would involve military force.

That Trump is aware of this fact was clear from the tone of his speech. The president of a country that has waged virtually uninterrupted war over the past quarter-century in the Middle East and Central Asia denounced Tehran as the leading “state sponsor of terror” in the world. In language usually reserved for enemy nations during a war, Trump ranted against Tehran’s “malign and sinister” influence across the Middle East.

On Wednesday, Trump issued a bellicose threat to Iran, warning that it would face “very severe consequences” if it restarted its nuclear programme.

Under these conditions, the bourgeois-clerical regime in Tehran, confronting a deepening crisis, may conclude that its only option is to fight back. Representatives of the hard-line faction, including the head of the powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps, have already proclaimed the nuclear accord dead and dismissed claims by the European powers that it can be revived without Washington.

While a clash between Israel and Iran poses the most immediate war threat in the Middle East, Trump’s torpedoing of the Iran deal has further destabilised an already explosive region. Apart from Israel, his announcement received endorsements from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two countries bitterly hostile to Iranian influence in the Persian Gulf. Riyadh has waged a genocidal war in Yemen since 2015 against Houthi rebels it claims are backed by Tehran.

In a speech last May, Trump called for Saudi Arabia to take a leading role in the formation of an anti-Iranian alliance across the region. His administration, following from where Obama left off, has supplied weaponry and intelligence to enable Saudi aircraft to continue their murderous bombing raids in Yemen, which have killed tens of thousands of civilians.

Just days prior to Trump’s announcement, it was revealed that US special forces have been operating in Yemen since December 2017.

As oil rose to over $77 in the wake of Trump’s Iran announcement, Saudi officials declared they would consult with the UAE on increasing oil production to stabilise prices, a move that would severely impact Iran.

Seizing on missiles fired into Saudi Arabia by Houthi rebels Wednesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir blamed Iran for the attack, which he said amounted to a “declaration of war.” Iran has to be “held accountable for this,” he ominously declared. “We will find the right way and at the right time to respond to this … We are trying to avoid at all costs direct military action with Iran, but Iran’s behavior such as this cannot continue.”

Al-Jubeir also vowed that should Tehran restart its nuclear programme, Riyadh would take steps to acquire nuclear weapons.

Threat on Assad Shows ‘Israel Sees Inaction in Syria as Strategic Disaster’ – By Sputnik

An Israeli soldier stands on top of a Merkava tank near the border with Syria in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, on November 28, 2016

© AFP 2018 / JACK GUEZ
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An Israeli minister’s warning that Tel Aviv would take out Bashar Assad if he continues to allow an Iranian military presence in Syria followed a similarly bellicose remark by another minister, who said that Israel would not differentiate Lebanon from Hezbollah in the event of war. Mideast expert Umer Karim shares his thoughts on the comments.

Sputnik: What are your thoughts about the Israeli education minister’s statement equating Hezbollah to Lebanon, and Israel’s treatment of Lebanon as such? What will it mean in practice?

Umer Karim: I think the confrontation [in the] relationship between Lebanon and Israel will further deteriorate. The statement is kind of a signal or sign of things coming in future; specifically after the resounding success of Hezbollah [in elections] in Lebanon.

I think it’s very much clear now how significant Hezbollah’s level of influence is over the Lebanese state. You can see it now coming from statements by the Israeli side. But even without these statements it was very clear that for the Lebanese state, it’s probably very difficult to do something against Hezbollah or Hezbollah’s interests.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is seen on a screen during election rallies a few days before the general election in Baalbeck, Lebanon, May 1, 2018
© REUTERS / Hasan Abdallah
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is seen on a screen during election rallies a few days before the general election in Baalbeck, Lebanon, May 1, 2018

Sputnik: Mr. Karim, how can you account for the support Hezbollah has in Lebanon? Why are Western-backed parties losing popularity?Umer Karim: I think we have to look at a number of things. There is the issue of governance by the ruling parties and by the government. It has reached a disastrous limit. So basically the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri has not really done enough for its constituents.

Regardless of the election results, if you focus on voter turnout, it’s pathetically low. This means that from all sections of Lebanese society there has been an expression of distrust toward politicians of all stripes, and especially politicians backed by the West.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri walks off stage after a press conference held in Paris as part of a summit convened by France to bolster Lebanon's institutions, Friday Dec. 8, 2017. It is the first major gathering of key nations to discuss Lebanon's future since a crisis erupted following Hariri's shock resignation last month while in Saudi Arabia. Hariri has since rescinded his resignation.
© AP Photo / Thibault Camus
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri walks off stage after a press conference held in Paris as part of a summit convened by France to bolster Lebanon’s institutions, Friday Dec. 8, 2017. It is the first major gathering of key nations to discuss Lebanon’s future since a crisis erupted following Hariri’s shock resignation last month while in Saudi Arabia. Hariri has since rescinded his resignation.

Sputnik: What about Syria? Israel has expressed its readiness to go after the country’s president Bashar Assad if the latter continues to allow Iran to operate from his country. How likely is such a scenario?

Umer Karim: The issue is that Israel now considers its inaction in the Syrian civil war as a strategic disaster, because it not only allowed the survival of the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, but also the establishment of Iranian military efforts within Syria. 

But the thing [to remember] is that we are hearing different statements from different Israeli officials. This statement is from one official, but the deputy defense minister of Israel says that the country is not interested in any war with Iran in Syria or anywhere else. So what they are trying to is to give a signal, or try to communicate to Iran that ‘we have our options, and can hit you at this or that point’…But for now this is more or less posturing, because how can they do this without communicating or coordinating this with Russia? So this is more or less rhetoric, but not practical rhetoric. The signaling is toward Iran that ‘we have our options open, so don’t think about any strike inside Syria or using your presence in Syria to carry out any strike in Israel or target Israeli military efforts.’

Israeli soldiers walk next to mobile artillery units in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the border with Syria. (File)
© AP Photo / Ariel Schalit
Israeli soldiers walk next to mobile artillery units in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the border with Syria. (File)

Sputnik: Do you think that a full-blown confrontation between Iran and Israel is possible?

Umer Karim: It’s definitely not off the table, but both sides will think a lot before going to such an extent. 

We also have to consider: Will this confrontation be a full-blown one, or a limited one, with Iran or Iranian-sponsored militias attacking Israeli military targets in Israel, and then Israel responding with some limited airstrikes against these specific targets? Or will this develop into a bigger, full-blown war, with Israel targeting Iranian-sponsored militias all throughout Syria, and also targeting Hezbollah, with Hezbollah in Lebanon attacking Israel and Israel hitting back toward Hezbollah in Lebanon?

I don’t think that all of these actors want such a confrontation, but even on the ground they are following a very delicate path. The issue for Iran is its home constituency. If Israel is hitting it again and again, it puts a question in the minds of [Iranians] of ‘why are we not responding to Israel when they are attacking us?’ So for some sort of legitimacy, perhaps Iran will act.We still have to see how things develop, but I would say there is a grave danger of such a confrontation, if not a full-blown or grand-scale one then a limited one.

Syrian government supporters wave Syrian, Iranian and Russian flags as they chant slogans against U.S. President Trump during demonstrations following a wave of U.S., British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar Assad for suspected chemical attack against civilians, in Damascus, Syria, Saturday, April 14, 2018
© AP Photo / Hassan Ammar
Syrian government supporters wave Syrian, Iranian and Russian flags as they chant slogans against U.S. President Trump during demonstrations following a wave of U.S., British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar Assad for suspected chemical attack against civilians, in Damascus, Syria, Saturday, April 14, 2018

Umer Karim is a doctoral researcher focusing on Saudi foreign policy at the University of Birmingham. The views and opinions expressed by Mr. Karim are those of the observer and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Arabism for the 21st century: President Bashar al-Assad’s most important speech on the future of Syria and the Middle East – By Adam Garrie (The Duran)

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

President Bashar al-Assad has powerfully articulated the importance of renewed Arabism for a new era.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has given one of the most important speeches of his political career before the Arab Forum for Confronting the Zionist-US Reactionary Alliance and Supporting the Resistance of the Palestinian People, in Damascus.

President al-Assad’s speech emphasised the importance of Arabism for the 21st century as the only proven school of thought and method of government that is capable of uniting peoples across the Arab world in a spirit that cherishes ancient traditions and allows for all varieties of modern progress.

In many ways, it helps to think of al-Assad’s wide ranging speech as the pan-Arab version of President Xi Jinping’s thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

Key Points

President al-Assad made the follow major points in this speech

  • Arabism is a movement to unite the peoples of a common Arabic speaking region against imperialism, American financial globalism/hegemony and Zionism, a movement which represents the final stage settler colonial ideology in the Arab world.
  • Arabism is under attack from many sides, yet it is the unifying thought of Arabism in the Syrian Arab Republic which has helped to unite the populace behind the Syrian Arab Army in a show of a people’s will that has achieved victory against imperialism and the terrorist proxies of imperialism and Zionism.
  • There is no intellectual or spiritual conflict between Arabism and Islam, nor between Arabism and Christianity. Both complement each other by allowing a civilised atmosphere wherein people can celebrate their individual and family traditions while still playing a constructive role in a unifying modern state which elevates the material condition of the people.
  • Arabism rejects ethno-nationalism while the enemies of Arabism use both religious extremism and ethno-nationalism to undermine unity through sectarianism. Ararbism by contrast emphasises unity based on a shared Arabic language and a shared geography.
  • The more Arabism is conspired against, the more it is important for Arabists to remind the wider world that Arabism has been the only successful unifying and peaceful force in the Arab world, where other sectarian ideologies have served only to weaken Arab resistance to imperialism, Zionism and terrorism, while downgrading the condition of the people.

The background:

Zaki al-Arsuzi

Arab Nationalism emerged as a distinct liberation movement in the Arab world in the first half of the 20th century. The Ba’athist movement was among the first and most successful schools of thought in defining Arab Nationalism or Arabism during the decades when Arabs were fighting for their independence against the European colonialism which flowed from the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916.

Ba’athism emphasised the importance of Islam and Christianity living in harmony with the socialist principles of anti-colonialism, economic development through a more equitable distribution of national resources and wealth, a modernisation of Arab armies for self-sufficient defence, an emphasis on the common language of Arabic amongst all peoples in the region, a tolerance for all religious and ethnic minorities, the social emancipation of women, a rejection of all sectarianism movements and retrograde extremist movements.

The three most important founders of Ba’athism were first and foremost for Syria, the Lattakia-born Zaki al-Arsuzi as well as Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar.

Zaki al-Arsuzi’s book, the The Genius of Arabic in its Tongue, helped explain why Ba’athism is based not only on the unique characteristics of the Arab peoples, but how the Arabic language has helped shape a unique society with social outlooks that are less dogmatic than those from European cultures.

The liberation of Syria

Ba’athist leaders celebrate the 8 March Revolution

After experimenting in a union with Nasser’s Arabist Egypt, the United Arab Republic between 1958 and 1961, Syria’s penultimate embrace of modern Arabism came during the 8 March Revolution of 1963. Here, the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party came to power in Damascus and worked on building a revolutionary programme of emancipation from colonial lethargy as well as a foreign policy which defended Arab interests against interlopers, colonists and outside threats.

After a turbulent 1960s, things grew stable and peaceful in 1970 when the new President Hafez al-Assad become the leader of the country. President Hafez al-Assad ushered in The Corrective Movement which successfully stabilised Syria’s internal politics, eliminated terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and ushered in the highest living standards in modern Syrian history by the global standards of the era.

President Hafez al-Assad (1970-2000)

Islam, Christianity and Arabism going forward

President Bashar al-Assad injected a calming and assuring wisdom into a debate that is often hijacked by egotists and those purposefully spreading disinformation. The Syrian President stated that there has never been any schism, conflict nor contradiction between the values of Islam and Christianity and those of Arabism. Arabism stresses the unity, shared historic and present cultural bonds between Arabic speaking peoples. As the Noble Quran is written in Arabic, this demonstrates the harmonious nature of secular Arabism with the religion of Islam. Both are strengthened when seen as unifying forces and both literally speak a common language.

President al-Assad said that Christianity’s relationship with Arabism is equally strong, but that ever since the 1920s, when the British Empire funded and helped to found the regressive Muslim Brotherhood, the enemies of the Arab peoples have attempted to use Islam as a means of destroying Arab societies where its correct interpretation is one of unity, peace and wisdom.

Assad meets with Orthodox Christian leaders

Arabism versus imperialist/globalist aggression against peace loving peoples

Today, American financial globalism has taken the place of British Imperialism as the foremost existential threat to Arabism. President al-Assad explained that the enemies of Arabism seek to destroy any thought that helps to unify the Arabs in order to mould them into machines rather than free thinking men and women, in the system of US led financial globalism. A strong, unifying movement like Arabism is a demonstrative alternative to US neo-liberal/anti-cultural globalism, which is the reason that those in Washington and its de-facto satellite states are so keen on destroying Arabism and provoking sectarianism war against it.

Many commentators remark that some of the causes of the foreign led and instigated conflict in Syria include the Qatari regime’s desire to build pipeline through Syrian territory, the Zionist Yinon Plan to conquer and destroy large parts of the Arab world and the Wahhabi Saudi plan to effective divide and rule the rest of Syria as a regressive Takfiri fiefdom, all with assistance from the US and European aggressors.

While these are all the specific causes of the present conflict, the overarching reason is that which historically and indeed presently, has prevented these illegal moves against the sovereignty, dignity and unity of the Syrian Arab Republic. The imperialist and Zionist powers do not need to wage war against weak, sectarian and extremist Arab states because such states have already been effectively weakened into a position where national wealth and dignity is surrendered without a fight. Instead, it is states with strong Arabist identities and a sense of independence that in the eyes of the imperialist and Zionists, must be broken in order to be exploited.

President al-Assad pointed out that this is what the imperial powers did in Libya, but that the same method did not work against Syria because of the political conditions established in the Syrian Arab Republic.

It is impossible to reject imperialism if one rejects Arabism. There is no logical, practical or workable peaceful alternative to preserving freedom in the Arab world apart from Arabism. Syria’s success in vanquishing her enemies has been primarily due to the strength of Arabism in creating popular unity against a multi-front onslaught.

The Syrian Arab Army as an expression of popular will

President Bashar al-Assad remarked that some provocateurs want to take away the title “Arab” from the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). He remarked that such moves are foolish. In calling itself an Arab Army, the SAA has manged to unite all Syrians in spite of any ethnic or religious affiliation behind a common principle of sovereignty for all the peoples of Syria.

If this unifying concept was removed, the Army would merely be a mercenary force-a kind of corporate body that could not mobilise the will of the people. If the people were not behind the Army, it would not have been able to preserve Syria as it has done, even before its non-Arab allies such as Iran and Russia helped to finish the job.

Syrian arab army soldiers

The importance of Palestine

The occupier entity represents the last breath of colonial tyranny in the Arab world and one which relies on the promotion of anti-Arabist propaganda in order to cultivate power. President al-Assad stated that Arab unity necessitates support for Palestinian liberation as anything else would be a rejection of the unity of Arabic speaking peoples throughout the region.

This explains why it is in the Zionist interest to promote sectarian groups whose goals is to weaken pan-Arab unity and exploit local differences, rather than allowing Arabs to focus on creating a peacefully unified realm.

In this sense, Palestine will also be an implicit factor in Arabism, so long as it remains occupied.

Official report and reproduction of President al-Assad’s speech:

Below is the entire official report and transcribed quotations from President al-Assad’s speech,

DAMASCUS, (ST)- President Bashar Al-Assad has stressed that “hitting national belongingness weakens our first defense line, as a society, against cultural and intellectual invasion attempts that seek turning us into helpless machines that act according to foreign-prepared plans.”

President Al-Assad made the remarks during his meeting on Tuesday with participants in the Arab Forum on Confronting the US-Zionist reactionary Alliance and Supporting the Palestinian People’s Resistance currently held in Damascus with the participation of Arab national forces and figures.

“Arabism is a cultural concept that involves all ethnic groups, religions and communities. It is a civilized status to which all who once existed in the region, without exceptions, contributed, said President Al-Assad, adding that “the Arab language and Arab nationalism unite all these ethnic groups, communities and religions and at the same time preserve the privacy of each of them”.

President Al-Assad went on to say that solving the problems facing the Arab nation and restoring brightness to national thinking necessitates hard work as to explain some concepts through which our nation was targeted, including attempts to hit the relation between Arabism and Islam and to put Arab nationalism in a situation of confrontation with other nationalities.

He affirmed the need to clarify the idea that there is no contradiction between belongingness to Arabism and belongingness to Islam as they enhance one another, noting the importance of refuting the ethnic orientation which opposes the national one, particularly in the light of the incessant attempts to divide the region’s countries on ethnic basis. This can be done, the president said, through stressing the idea that Arabism includes all ethnic groups, religions and communities, thus Arab heritage and culture is the accumulation of the heritage and cultures of all the peoples who lived in this region throughout ancient and modern history.

President Al-Assad pointed out that national action was also influenced by another factor, which is the policies of some Arab governments which acted against the interests of the Arab peoples by serving foreign schemes and facilitating aggression on other Arab countries, thereby creating a negative reaction by many people towards nationalism and Arabism.

“Here we must differentiate between belongingness to identity and belongingness to a certain political system which we reject its policies,” the president said.

“Arabism and national thinking have continuously been accused by their enemies of backwardness and of being old-fashioned in an age overwhelmed by globalization in order to turn us into tools to serve the interests of huge financial institutions led by the United States,” President Al-Assad asserted, noting the need to adhere to identity and to support openness and development ideas as to confront this challenge.

President Al-Assad clarified that the main goal of the war to which Syria has been exposed for seven years is to return the country and the entire region centuries back through targeting the national feeling and belongingness to this region and through putting the Arabs in front of two options: either to give up their identity and subjugate to foreign powers or adopt the extremist thinking and turn Arab societies into conflicting entities.

The president affirmed that the ongoing war, despite the huge destruction it caused to Syria, couldn’t weaken the faith of the Syrian people in the inevitability of victory over terrorism and its internal and external tools through the sacrifices of the hero Syrian army and the popular support for this army. It also couldn’t break the Syrians’ will to keep adherent to their identity, doctrine and national belongingness.

President al-Assad began his speech by welcoming the participants in the Forum which discusses important pan-Arab issues, as pan-Arabism constitutes identity and affiliation as well as being the past and present of peoples and the basis of their existence.

He said that the participants are now in Syria during the war imposed on it, and that there was a general view that the storm that affected several Arab states including Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Iraq to some degree and the ensuing destruction seek to set the region back by centuries, but the main goal wasn’t destruction as what was destroyed can be rebuilt; rather the goal was undermining the Arab people’s sense of affiliation and belonging to their environment, geography, history, principles, and pan-Arabism.

His Excellency said that undermining pan-Arab affiliation means undermining the first line of defense against any attempts at a cultural or intellectual invasion that seeks to turn people into mere machines with no will that move according to plans made abroad.

“But at the same time, as this Arab Spring as it was called by the enemies, aimed at undermining affiliation, without the weakness of pan-Arab affiliation and the weakness of pan-Arab sentiment, this ‘spring’ wouldn’t have been able to start in our Arab region, because segments of our societies have regrettably, through the course of time, after losing this affiliation were ready to move in other directions,” President al-Assad said, adding that these segments went in two directions when the events began: either throwing themselves into the hands of foreigners, regardless of which foreign country, or embracing Islamist extremism as a replacement for the Arab identity, despite it being an abnormal and deviant identity that has nothing to do with Islam or any religion.

“In summation, the enemies succeeded during past decades in making the situation reach its current state and succeeded in undermining society partially, dividing this society into groups, some of them distant and some of them discordant, and others are contentious and conflicting,” he said.

“On the other hand, these meetings and pan-Arab work has persisted throughout these decades, with tens and maybe hundreds of meetings being held, but the result today is that the situation for the pan-Arab condition on the Arab arena is much weaker than it was decades ago. So, do we meet again to add another meeting to a group of meetings? Do we meet to reminisce about the good days or lament bad luck or to glorify something that isn’t living its best days which is the pan-Arab condition? Are we meeting just to issue political statements, despite these being important? It’s necessary to talk politics and issue statements and take positions regarding what is happening constantly, but political statements alone cannot restore the luster of this condition we are talking about now.”

“We are facing a real problem with many aspects, and dealing with just one aspect and disregarding other aspects means that we won’t reach any results and these meetings will remain vocal platforms that have no effect,” President al-Assad said.

His Excellency said that we should start with the problem, discussing it and its solution or cure and the possible methods to reach this cure, and this requires focusing primarily on weaknesses and the methods used by the enemies of pan-Arabism, which will help find a way to deal with each aspect, because what is currently happening isn’t sudden; it is the result of long-term accumulation over decades, and its effects today on societies are deep and wide-scale.

He stressed that this issue isn’t superficial or transient, as the West was skilled in its performance and in setting traps, but the Arabs were good at falling into these traps, noting that the West built its plans on realities and facts and was active, while Arabs always based their visions on sentiments and were emotional.

“Therefore, as I am addressing a pan-Arab conference, I have to discuss some points I consider a priority, and perhaps your conference can form a more comprehensive and in-depth vision through its discussions. So, I will discuss some headlines before talking about anything related to the crisis or policy,” President al-Assad said.

He pointed out that the first major problem facing pan-Arab work is undermining the relationship between Islam and Arabism, as some have accused Arabism of being secular or atheist, tying these three concepts together and telling the simple citizens that they have to choose between faith and atheism, and naturally they chose faith, and therefore they would stand against any affiliation other than faith and Islam, so Arabism is part of the affiliation they moved away from due to this way of thinking or this incorrect marketing of the relation between Arabism and Islam.

His Excellency noted that the first to spearhead this method were the so-called Muslim Brotherhood, who were planted by the English during the first half of the 20th century in Egypt and later moved to other areas, and throughout time they spearheaded everything that opposes the interests of the Arab people and pan-Arab affiliation.

President al-Assad said that there’s an organic connection between Arabism and Islam, and there is certainly no contradiction between them, stressing that it is wrong to believe that one can either be an Arab or a Muslim.

“So, undermining this relation through Islamic extremism undermines Arabism. They diverted Islam and pushed it towards extremism. It separated itself from Arabism, and Islam and Arabism became weaker. Someone might ask why I’m talking about Arabism and Islam and not Arabism and Christianity. I would say that of course this is the same relationship; the relationship between nationalism and religion, but colonialism and enemies of pan-Arabism didn’t work in this direction, rather they focused on Arabism and Islam,” he explained.

President al-Assad moved on to the second point, saying that pan-Arabism was put against other “nationalities,” and discussing the nature of these nationalities requires separate discussions, but some of these nationalities existed in a diverse region throughout history and they never fought among themselves, so why is this conflict emerging now? This is happening because as Arab states won their independence, colonialism sowed the seeds of sedition among those nationalities and these seeds were nurtured by enemies of pan-Arabism and even some proponents of pan-Arabism through their superficial thinking and ignorant performance.

His Excellency said that this seed has grown and gained root and dealing with it now requires double efforts, adding that this enemies of pan-Arabism achieved this by giving pan-Arabism an ethnic nature, saying that it is exclusive to the Arab ethnicity, and if one doesn’t belong to it then they need to find an identity elsewhere, thereby creating a rift between groups that have coexisted throughout history, and creating a hidden sentiment that we are living together due to political borders and conditions, and when these changes everyone goes their separate ways.

“They focused on the ethnic issue and took away from pan-Arabism the most important civilized aspects in it which are related to the cultural aspect, language, geography, history, and other things,” he added.

President al-Assad said that another cumulative factor linked to political conditions in the Arab world has affected pan-Arab world, and this factor is the result of the bad political work by some Arab states which existed prior to the war but appeared more prominently as the events began, particularly when Arab states and the Arab League provided cover for the intervention and destruction of Libya, then tried to do the same in Syria, but the political conditions had shifted by then so these attempts weren’t exactly successful.

“However, this role pushed many citizens in several places and here in Syria in particular, to say that if this is pan-Arabism and Arabism, then we don’t want them. If these are the Arabs, then we don’t want to be Arabs, we want to be anything else. Well, what is alternative? There is no alternative. These people are reacting to the conspiring by some Arab states on other Arab states or peoples of causes, and didn’t differentiate between affiliation to a specific identity and affiliation to a political system,” he said, adding that there were reactions towards Arab causes like the Palestinian cause due to the betrayal by some Palestinians of Arab states and peoples that hosted them and defended them, eliciting a reaction, and there were many who said “the whole Palestinian cause can go to Hell,” which indicates the immaturity of the sense of affiliation among these people.

His Excellency went on to address another important point which is that pan-Arabism had been accused of being synonymous with backwardness, which is a hypothesis posed in the 19th century and early 20th century, particularly with the coming of the age of globalization, satellite channels and the internet, which, according to that hypothesis, means that we live in a single world with single principles, interests, and economy, so any form of nationalism is a backwards idea.

“Of course, this is the idea posed by globalization which ultimately aims at having us all belong to the financial institutions that lead the world which are practically centered in the United States, through which they lead politics, economy, and everything else,” President al-Assad said, adding that they tried to claim that Arabism is a passing fad, which is similar to what happened with the fall of the Soviet Union when they wanted to portray socialism and communism as backwards concept.

“Now, after around two and a half decades, things have started to change and inferiority complexes went away. For us in Syria, we never suffered from this inferiority complex at any time, and we used to tell them that even if this language is the language of the 20th or 19th centuries, even if it’s the language of the 1st or 10th century, we will speak it today, tomorrow, and the day after, and we won’t have an inferiority complex. On the contrary, events have proven that the lack of this identity was one of the biggest problems, and adhering to it today is necessary,” he asserted.

His Excellency moved on to address pan-Arab work and the existing political movements, figures, parties, and conferences that have been working for decades under difficult circumstances, as while Syria has been supporting pan-Arabism for many decades, there has been a growing animosity towards pan-Arab work in other states, because this work often made political positions on various Arab causes that embarrassed certain states.

President al-Assad said that there are many people in society who belong to pan-Arabism but disagree with us politically, or have other political visions, or don’t like being involved in the work of political parties, and for them their pan-Arab affiliation is a social and civilized affiliation, adding “This begs the question: where are the non-political aspects of our pan-Arab work? This is a very important aspect.”

His Excellency said that Arabism is a civilized condition, and the most important thing in the civilized condition is the culture it bears, and culture is expressed by language. Without language, the culture turns into a large generator which generates a lot of electricity, but there will be no wires in order to transport this electricity towards the city, factories, or any other place.

“Here in Syria, there is no big problem that we suffer from. After all, education in Syria, including all university stages and others, is in the Arabic language. We support foreign languages, but the Arabic language remains the basis because we understand the meaning of the language,” the President added, stressing that cultural alienation and the dissolution of cultures begins with languages then spreads to other aspects.

President al-Assad said that Syria has suffered from war for seven years, and war weakens any country no matter how strong or large it may be, and this war has exhausted Syria, but it didn’t cause it to collapse. More importantly, it didn’t affect the Syrians’ confidence in the inevitability of victory over terrorism.

“The essence of that war is two groups: first is the persons who lost their affiliation, mainly, the pan-Arab affiliation and the national affiliation. They have lost their identity, the ethics, and with them they lost the homeland. This is the basis that the foreign side depended on. We can talk about conspiracies for days, but these conspiracies would have never found a place in Syria without the existence of these groups.”

“On the other hand, the other group is mainly the Syrian Arab Army, which has fought and made great sacrifices in order to keep this homeland safe,” His Excellency said, adding that the Syrian Arab Army, before being a national army, is an army that was based on a clear creed which was established throughout decades, stressing that no army would have withstood such a war no matter how much external support it got without having popular support.

“This point, which is the strength of the army through its creed, was understood by our enemies. All political work in conferences and talk of transitional governments and federalism, and all the terms you hear can be summed up with a single thing that was required, which is undermining this concept, the army as a symbol” he said, adding that they target the institutions and society as well, because we are talking about one creed, and all the war was working towards abandoning the notion of pan-Arabism starting with the constitution, to name Syria as just “the Syrian state” and to make its army “Syrian.”

“What was the headline they have put? A professional army, which means that the army which carried out all those battles is an army of amateurs, a group of amateurs who liked the game of war and went to fight just because they want to fight anyone, just as a hobby! This is what they are trying to market. For them, the professional army is the army which stays inside the country and waits for a signal from outside in order to move with coups against national governments. According to them, the professional army is that which covers the proxy governments when they relinquish sovereignty and work against the people,” President al-Assad said.

“Today, I affirm after 7 years of sacrifices, that we wouldn’t think for even a second to make concessions about creed and Syria’s pan-Arab affiliation just to appease the rejects of the 21st century of the Muslim Brotherhood and Daesh or al-Nusra, or any other groups, whether outlaws or the groups which work in the interests of the Americans and the West in our region,” His Excellency said.

The President said that if we want to improve the pan-Arab work and see results, this requires coming together and discuss various issues through dialogue, noting that in the past, proponents of pan-Arabism have not held dialogue with others; only with each other, adding “I believe that the starting point begins with dialogue with other groups that went astray, those others that put themselves or who were put by conditions in a place that contradicts their natural belonging and in a place that contradicts their interests and the interest of their homeland without their knowledge, in most cases. Recovering those is the start of the correct work in order to reinforce the pan-Arab work.”

President al-Assad said that such people are like cancerous cells that were originally normal cells that were changed due to various circumstances to become enemies of normal cells in the body, and they are fuel for a poisonous concoction made by the West, but we have to counteract this poison through dialogue.

“First, we have to address the group which is convinced about the contradiction between Islam and Arabism, we have to tell them that there is no contradiction between these two concepts, both flow into the other, both reinforce the other,” he said, stressing they cannot separate the Arabism of Prophet Mohammad from his religion, nor can they separate the religious context of the Quran from the Arabic language, so how can they separate Arabism from Islam?

“It is necessary now to refute the ethnic concept. There are people who talk about federalism, nationalism, and federalism on national basis. We have to assert that the concept of Arabism is an inclusive civilized concept that includes everyone, which means that Arabism is greater than being ethnic, the cultural concept includes everyone, includes all ethnicities, religions, and sects,” President al-Assad said, asserting that Arabism is a civilized condition to which everyone in the region contributed, making it the sum of heritage and cultures of all the peoples who lived in the area throughout old and modern history.

“The most important thing is the language that brings us all together. We all speak Arabic in this region, not other languages, even if there are other languages. .Therefore the Arabic language and pan-Arabism is what brings all religions, sects and ethnics together, and at the same time preserves the characteristics of each one,” he added, noting that after terrorism failed in the region, the enemies started focusing on ethnicities and nationalities.

As for those who renounced Arabism as a reaction to the performance of some Arab states, President al-Assad stressed that the conspiring by these states against Arab causes and the Arab people doesn’t mean that these states belong to Arabism, and affiliation to an identity doesn’t mean affiliation with a political system.

“If they conspire against us, this doesn’t mean that we should run away from the concept and true affiliation and turn things over to those who have nothing to do with Arabism or religion or the societies of this region in everything they did,” he said, stressing that the lack of affiliation doesn’t serve anyone, because the current problems such as sectarian and ethnic division are mainly caused by the lack of pan-Arab sentiment, because people instinctively seek affiliation, and when an encompassing one is absent, they will seek other, smaller ones that lead to the division of minds, geography, and homelands.

“As for linking Arabism to backwardness, we must be the leaders in supporting development ideas, and to have a program that suits this age and suits the interests of the peoples,” the President concluded.

Concluding thoughts:

Arabism stands at a crossroads that many find worrying. On the one hand, Arabism is the force of popular will which helped to mobilise the Syrian resistance during the 7 year conflict. On the other hand, the propaganda of terrorists with the backing of foreign powers, have helped to sow discord across the Arab world.

President al-Assad emphasised that now is the time not to retreat from the only successful model for the Arab world, but to redouble support for it and to peacefully explain to all those who have “gone astray” that Arabism is not for one group or another but for all. Through going out and fighting the propaganda of those who seek division, sectarianism, racism and violence, supporters of the Arabist idea, can help demonstrate that for all those who seek peace, prosperity and dignity above conflict, depression and imperial submission, there is no alternative as there never has been.

It is also important that those outside of the Arab world understand that Syria’s battle, while one which benefits global civilisation, is one being fought in the specific context of a long history of Arab nationalism. Syria does not exist for the benefit of foreigners, but for the benefit of her people and the wider Arab community. Syria is of course, a partner to all sincerely friendly nations ranging from Russia and China, to Iran and the DPRK. However, a great deal of non-Arabic analysis on Syria tends to view the conflict in selfish terms which represent an unconscious colonial mentality. A lot of this is a sad reflection on the background of those authoring such narrow minded “analysis”. One cannot wish Syria well, without understanding the nature of her political system and consequently, why any external alteration to this system will have made Syria’s military victories, ultimately useless.

The future of the Syrian Arab Republic will not depend on the support of groups and individuals merely cheering on the Syrian Arab Army for selfish reasons, without care for the future of the Arab Republic. Syria’s future depends on those who see Arabism as an inseparable element vis-a-vis Syria’s society, laws and national character.

I have little doubt that yesterday’s address will go down as the most important speech of President Bashar al-Assad’s political career, to-date.

In this speech, al-Assad not only clarified the future trajectory of the Syrian Arab Republic as a force for peace and stability in the region, but one which draws upon its revolutionary history to create an ever more progressive environment in the future.

Bashar al-Assad understands the goals and methods of the enemies of Arabism and has clearly articulated how to best preserve the achievements of the Syrian Arab Republic in a new era.

This transformative speech means that al-Assad is not only a defender of Syrian freedom and security but a defender of the Arabist ideals whose cause of peace, unity and civilisation are ideals the world can aspire to learn from, even beyond the borders of the Arab world.

“U.S. strike helping Daesh, Al-Qaeda, the enemy U.S. supposed to fight against” [interview with Ron Paul]- By Syrian Free Press

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The UN security Council is holding an emergency meeting on the U.S. missile attack on a Syrian airbase. To discuss the UN Security Council meeting we’re joined by Ron Paul, chairman and founder of “The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity”.


Gallery

Russian Defence Ministry: “American cruise missile strike had been planned long before” ~ RELATED:

Russian Defence Ministry: “American cruise missile strike had been planned long before” ~ RELATED: Russian General: “U.S. Trying to Destroy Syria’s Critical Infrastructure”

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Russian Defence Ministry:
“American cruise missile strike had been planned long before”

Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation.

(Fort-Russ, 7 April 2017) ~ On April 7, from 3.42 to 3.56 (MSK), two destroyers of the US Navy (USS Ross and USS Porter) made a massive strike with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the area near Crete Island (Mediterranean Sea) against the Syrian Shayrat Air Base (Homs province).

According to the objective monitoring data, 23 missiles reached the Syrian Air Base.

As a result, an equipment depot, a training building, a mess, six MiG-23 aircraft in repairing hangars as well as a radar station were destroyed.

The runway, taxiways and aircraft of the Syrian Air Force at parking places were not damaged.

According to the information received from the Air Base Command, two Syrian servicemen are missing, 4 were killed and 6 got burning wounds during firefighting.

Therefore, the combat effectiveness of the American massive missile strike on the Syrian Air Base is extremely low.

These actions of the American party are considered as a serious violation of the Memorandum on prevention of incidents and providing security during operations in the air space of Syria signed in 2015.

The Russian Defence Ministry suspends the cooperation with the Pentagon within this Memorandum.

All the accusations against Damascus that it had violated the Chemical Weapons Convention of 2013 given by the USA as reasons for the strike are groundless.

The Russian Defence Ministry has repeatedly explained that the Syrian troops had not used chemical weapons. The Russian military department is looking forward to receiving explanations from the USA concerning the existence of irrefutable proof that the Syrian army had used chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun.

It is to be stressed that in the years 2013-2016 the Syrian government undertook all measures to eliminate chemical weapons, its delivery systems, production facilities. All chemical weapons stocks have been eliminated. The components for their production have been transported from the Syrian Arab Republic to the enterprises of the United States, Finland, Great Britain, and Germany where they have been destroyed.

The US administrations have changed but the methods for unleashing wars have remained the same since bombardments of Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Libya. Allegations, falsifications, grandstand playing with photos and test-tubes with pseudo results in international organizations became the reason for aggression initiation instead of an objective investigation.

It is to be stressed that a large-scale offensive of the ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra armed formations has been launched right after the massive missile strike against the Syrian Air Base.

The Russian Defence Ministry hopes that the activities of the insurgents had not been coordinated with the American party.

Today it is obvious that the American cruise missile strike had been planned long before this event.

It is necessary to conduct reconnaissance operations, to plan and prepare the missile flight paths, and put them on full combat alert.

It is clear for any specialist that the decision for the missile strike on Syria had been made well in advance of the events in Khan Sheikhoun, which have become just a formal reason for the attack, while the demonstration of military power has been dictated only by reasons of internal policy.

In the near future, the effectiveness of the Syrian Armed Forces air defence system will be improved in order to cover the most important objects of the Syrian infrastructure.


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Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the town of Suruc in this file October 18, 2014 file photo.<br /> A U.S.-led military coalition has been bombing Islamic State fighters who hold a large swathe of territory in both Iraq and Syria, two countries involved in complex multi-sided civil wars in which nearly every country in the Middle East has a stake.<br /> The Turkish military and police had declared the Turkish-Syrian border area a "military zone", which limits the ability of the press to move around.<br /> In these days of modern warfare, the weaponry is more powerful than that in the old days. So all of my colleagues and I have to be doubly careful to ensure we do not end up in the line of fire, as positions of Kurdish YPG fighters and IS militants change quickly.<br /> For all those reasons, to stay away is the only solution at the moment.<br /> We ended up on hills about 2km (1.24 miles) away from Kobani using very long telephoto lenses, often more than 1000mm, to get a peek into the city while listening to the sound of war and smelling its scent.<br /> Sometimes you see a shadow of a fighter hiding behind a building and more often you see the massive impact of heavy airstrikes.<br /> It is a bit strange sitting there with lenses I usually use for sports photography alongside people from the area, who come to the hills to see what's going on. They bring binoculars and make tea - making it almost seems like a tourist attraction. - Kai Pfaffenbach REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach (TURKEY - Tags: MILITARY POLITICS CONFLICT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)<br /> ATTENTION EDITORS: THIS PICTURE IS PART OF THE PACKAGE 'PICTURES OF THE YEAR 2014 - THE PHOTOGRAPHERS' STORY'. SEARCH 'PHOTOGRAPHERS' STORY' FOR ALL IMAGES' - RTR4FOX1

Russian General:
“U.S. Trying to Destroy Syria’s Critical Infrastructure”

A top Russian general claims that the U.S. is trying to “completely destroy critical infrastructure in Syria and complicate post-war reconstruction as much as possible”

(Russia Insider, 29 March 2017) ~ Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military’s General Staff said on Tuesday that U.S.-led coalition airstrikes were intentionally targeting critical infrastructure in Syria — which could lead to major ecological and humanitarian catastrophes. 

According to General Rudskoi,

 [The U.S.-led coalition is] trying to “completely destroy critical infrastructure in Syria and complicate post-war reconstruction as much as possible.”

He added that US-led military aircraft had destroyed four bridges over the Euphrates River in Syria and hit the Tabqa Dam that lies 40 kilometers west of Daesh’s main stronghold of Raqqah.

Rudskoi further warned that the collapse of the dam, most commonly known as the Euphrates Dam, would create an “ecological catastrophe” and lead to “numerous” civilian deaths.

The United States denies that it targeted the dam, but evidence suggests that the control rooms as well as other parts of the dam have been completely destroyed or damaged.

To make matters worse, fighting near the dam could further exacerbate any structural damages to the site:

On Tuesday, coalition forces could be seen standing near military vehicles less than 2 km (1 mile) from the dam, their mortar rounds casually stacked nearby.

After a brief pause in fighting on Monday to allow technicians to enter the dam complex, SDF fighters resumed their operations around the structure, said spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed.

“IS amassed its fighters and attacked our forces in the area, which forced us to respond and resume the operations to liberate the dam,” she said.

Earlier this year, the United Nations raised concern about the prospect of damage to the dam in fighting, warning that water levels — which put pressure on the structure — were already high.

On Tuesday, technicians accompanied by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent could be seen examining the dam to assess whether water levels had risen in recent days.

“The explosions and the clashes are threatening the dam, and we ask for all sides to distance themselves from it,” said Ismail Jassem, an engineer from the SDF-controlled Tishreen Dam in neighboring Aleppo province.

On top of all this, yesterday it was confirmed that the director of the dam was killed by a coalition airstrike:

On 28 March it was reported and later confirmed that Director of the Tabqa dam Ahmed Al Hussein was killed in coalition strike while trying to inspect the dam. He was filmed in ISIS video just day before.

Sounds like a recipe for disaster — or managed chaos. 



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Russia Insider
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Idlib “chemical weapons attack” reality: Syria bombed REBEL chemical weapons storehouse – By Samer Hussein (translator) Breakingnews.sy / Fort Russ

Russia says military support will continue, vetoes U.S./UK/France UN resolution

Someone tell the White Helmets that Sarin exposure works through skin contact.

Syrian Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister Faisal Mekdad confirmed that the Syrian government provided the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the United Nations Security Council with necessary documentation and reports which prove that the chemicals, used in yesterday’s gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun in Idleb province, were in fact stored and possessed by the terrorist groups, operating in the area.

Mekdad said that the media reports, surrounding the events, were used as a tool of distortion and falsification of facts, noting that Syria has fulfilled all obligations to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, with the latter already verifying this.

He also denied that Syrian Army is in possession of chemical weapons, by saying: “The army has never used such weapons, even in the most intense and critical battles with the terrorist groups”, while also reminding Staffan de Mistura, UN’s Special Envoy to Syria, to act in accordance with his role and neutrally approach the situation.

Mekdad also stressed that Syria strongly condemns the attacks on Khan Sheikhoun, yesterday carried out by armed terrorist groups and their supporters, operating in the area and called on the international community to hold the parties, responsible for the crime, accountable. He also expressed concerns that Wednesday’s conference on the Syrian issue in Brussels could be used as a tool to spread blatant lies and accusations against Syria.

The Deputy Foreign and Expatriates Minister further stated that the area where the incident occurred is under complete control of the terrorist groups and that the attacks are obviously their work and that of their aides and supporters, located in Britain, France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, pointing out that the so-called “Syrian opposition” which itself refused to play its part in restoring peace and stability to Syria, is now trying to put pressure on the Syrian government by making such provocations.

Yesterday, reports came about a chemical weapons attack in the Syrian village of Khan Sheikhoun, located in Syria’s Idleb province. Almost 60 people, many of them children, were said to have been killed by the poisonous substances that were dropped during air raids on the village. Despite no evidence and the fact that no raids were conducted on Khan Sheikhoun, the Islamist and corporate press accused the Syrian and Russian side to be behind the incident. The two have since denied and debunked the accusations.

Comment: See also:

The Syrian army bombed a chemical weapons depot in Khan Sheikhoun, where such weapons were produced and shipped out for use in Iraq. For Tillerson to say Russia and Iran must bear the “moral responsibility” for this is absurd.

Maria Zakharova provided more details:

“These facts together with soil samples were recorded and handed over to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Unfortunately, without taking any action, guided solely by fake information, the United States, France and the United Kingdom once again… submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council that is of obvious anti-Syrian nature and is capable of igniting an already difficult internal political situation in Syria and the region as a whole.”

“Currently, the main goal is to objectively figure out what happened. So far, I want to emphasize that falsified reports on this issue come only from the notorious White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that has already become infamous. Neither the White Helmets, nor the SOHR can be trusted. They have repeatedly undermined trust by [making] fake footages and [reporting] information later denied by all parties.”

The ministry spokeswoman said that the reports by the White Helmets and the SOHR are conflicting as the White Helmets constantly changes its version of what happened. “First they speak about bombings from a helicopter or a warplane. Then they tell about the use of chlorine, then about sarin, change data about the number of victims. According to photos and videos spread on social media, representatives of the White Helmets are providing the victims with help while they [the NGO] have no reliable means of protection and act extremely unprofessionally.”

Russia categorically rejects the draft resolution on chemical weapons in Syria, Maria Zakharova said. She added that the West-proposed resolution is of “anti-Syrian nature” and risks making negotiations process impossible.

“I wanted to note that the presented text [of the resolution] is categorically unacceptable. Its main problem — and its a fundamental one — is that it anticipates the results of the probe and immediately finds those to be blamed.”

“The document is completely falsified, completely based on fake information. Colin Powell number two. Later, you will be ashamed for the actions of your authorities in the UN Security Council, stop your representatives, I am speaking to the Western audience,” Zakharova said at the briefing.

Zakharova’s criticism can be summed up in one Internet meme:

Syriana Analysis has a good breakdown:

Now the Syrian “opposition” are calling for a no-fly zone. We’re sure ISIS feels the same way, guys.

Moscow’s response is the only sane one:

Moscow will continue to support Syrian Army troops in their anti-terrorism effort, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, after being asked whether Russian policy had changed following a reported chemical attack in the Idlib province.

“You have heard the statement from the Russian Defense Ministry and I have nothing to add to the facts they stated. The Russian Federation and its military are continuing the operation to support the anti-terrorism operation and liberation of the country, which is being conducted by the Syrian armed forces,” Peskov said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova suggested later on Wednesday that the Security Council should urge the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to launch a fact-finding mission, provided that full access to the incident site is allowed.

“It is crucial to call upon an OPCW fact-finding mission in charge of investigating the use of chemical weapons in Syria to collect evidence of the incident under the following condition – the composition of the fact-finding mission will be submitted to the UN Security Council for approval, and it will be balanced in terms of geographical [representation],” Zakharova said, according to Interfax.

Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria, said reliable evidence would be needed to confirm the alleged use of chemical weapons, let alone establish who was responsible for it.

We have no yet any official or reliable confirmation,” he said on Wednesday. “We will be stimulating all those who have the capacity of finding out technically what had happened.”

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also said there was no evidence yet to draw any conclusion on what had happened in the Idlib governorate, but stated that the Syrian government held “primary responsibility” for the situation.

Update: More responses to the hasty UN draft resolution:

The UN Security Council convened on Wednesday to discuss a draft resolution proposed by the US, the UK and France, which would condemn Damascus for the reported use of chemical weapons in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on Tuesday.

Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, delivered an emotional speech that included images of children to argue in favor of swift action. The pictures were used in reporting of the alleged chemical weapons attack.

She claimed the incident carried “all hallmarks” of an attack by Damascus, adding that the toxin used in the alleged assault was “more deadly” than in previous cases attributed to the Syrian military by Washington.

US envoy to UN also accused Russia of failing to ensure that there were no chemical weapons in the possession of the Syrian government.

“The truth is that Russia, Iran and [Syrian President Bashar] Assad have no interest in peace,” Haley claimed.

The US has hinted at taking its own action in Syria unless the UN Security Council moves to prevent the use of chemical weapons in the war-torn country.

“When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action,” the US ambassador to the UN said.

Russia criticized the draft resolution for being unbalanced and jumping to conclusions. It said the document would have to include several amendments, such as calling on the rebels controlling the area to provide full access to UN investigators and setting an unbiased and comprehensive probe into the incident as the primary goal of the resolution.

“This draft was penned in haste and adopting it would have been irresponsible,” the Russian deputy acting envoy to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, said.

He also blamed Western members of the UNSC for unwillingness to investigate previous cases of alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, where rebel groups were accused of using toxin agents.

Earlier the council was briefed by Kim Won-soo, the UN high representative for disarmament affairs, who acknowledged that the organization so far has no independent evidence on the suspected chemical weapons attack.

From the Duran:

Russia has just vetoed a resolution proposed jointly by the US, UK and France. The resolution would have condemned Syria for a chemical weapons attack near Idlib.

Acting Russian Ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov said that,

“This draft was penned in haste and adopting it would have been irresponsible”.

The US, UK and France have been exposed as relying on fake news sources, including the al-Qaeda affiliated White Helmets, as a basis for their condemnation, in spite of the fact that the clear evidence indicates that the chemical weapons in question belonged to a terrorist group and not the Syrian government which forfeited its chemical weapons stock in 2013.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley become unhinged and threatened that the US may take action unilaterally in light of the resolution being vetoed. If this means military action against the government of Syria, this of course would be a violation of international law.

Update: After a sanctimonious piece of idiocy on behalf of the UK ambassador to the UN re: the Idlib attack, Russia’s deputy ambassador Vladimir Safronkov hit back:

“In Syria, do you carry any sense of responsibility? No, you don’t,” Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Vladimir Safronkov, said at an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Wednesday. “Everything is guided by the need to change the regime. Even this obsession with the regime change is what hinders the work of the Security Council.

“[The UK] is not doing anything about the situation [in Syria],” he added. “No – it’s true, you are doing one thing. You are submitting drafts in the Security Council that only provoke.”

Safronkov’s comments come in response to Britain’s ambassador to the UN, Mark Rycroft, who challenged Moscow to stop supporting the Assad government. “What is your plan? What is your plan to stop these horrific senseless attacks? We had a plan and we had the support and you rejected it to protect Assad,” Rycroft said.

“Beyond the norms of diplomatic standards your statements about Russia and China are unacceptable … We will not stand for it. You should answer for what Great Britain is doing in contributing to resolving this situation.”

China also responded to Rycroft’s comments.

“The UK delegate… is openly distorting the position of China, this is not to be tolerated,” Chinese UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi said, adding that Rycroft was “abusing the Security Council, [and] doing so will not be in the interests of the Syrian people.”

Trump made a semi-boneheaded remark at his joint press conference with Saudi warlord King Abdullah II at the White House, saying his opinion on Assad and Syria has “changed very much” in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons (which Syria does not possess):

“It crossed a lot of lines with me. When you kill innocent children – innocent babies – with chemical gas… that goes beyond red lines,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday when responding to a question about whether the attack cross the red line.

You’re going to have to do better than that, Trump.

Update: More from Trump – keeping it ambiguous as usual:

“These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated,” he emphasized.

The chemical attack was an “affront to humanity,” he said, adding that the US is raising its voice with the global chorus denouncing the tragedy. Biochemical warfare against enemy militants and innocent civilians “cannot be tolerated,” Trump said.

Last week, the Trump administration announced there was no choice but to “accept the political reality” of Assad’s administration.

However, today Trump said that his strategy is to remain “flexible” with Syria, while noting that the attack will not go unnoticed.

“I now have responsibility” to respond to the chemical attack, Trump said. “When you kill innocent little babies” this crosses not just a red line but “many, many lines.”

Nevertheless, Trump did not show his hand regarding how he would move forward in the Middle East. “I am not going to be telling anyone one way or another,” he said.

Someone should remind Trump that he’s commander in chief of some baby killers of his own.

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Syrian Arab Army Forces established control over a number of mountains in Palmyra area [Homs eastern countryside] – By The Real Syrian Free Press

SYRIANFORALLSYRIANS

~ Al-Jaafari: “Winning terrorism imposed our voice on the world”

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SAA establishes control over mountains in Palmyra area

(27/3/2017) ~ Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Syrian Armed Forces units established control over a number of mountains in Palmyra area in the eastern countryside of Homs province after eliminating the last Daesh (ISIS, ISIL, IS…) gatherings in the area, according to a military source.

The source said that army units carried out intensive operations targeting gatherings and fortifications for ISIS, establishing control over the mountains of al-Heed and al-Dhalil to the north of Hayyan gas field and Marbat Antar Mountain and a number of points surrounding it to the northeast of Palmyra.

SAA control Mount Antar and Afghan hills northeast of Palmyra

The source said that the operations resulted in eliminating dozens of ISIS terrorists and destroying their weapons and ammunitions, adding that the army’s engineering units are dismantling the mines and IEDs which were planted earlier by ISIS terrorists in the area.

The source said that army units clashed with terrorist groups that attacked one of the military points in Malouk area in the direction of Talbeisa to the north of Homs city, with the army units thwarting the attack, killing a number of terrorists, and destroying two vehicles equipped with heavy machineguns.

The source pointed out that another army unit directed precision strikes on the sites of Jabhat al-Nusra in al-Rastan to the north of Homs city, destroying a site for terrorists’ leaders, killing many terrorists and injuring many others.

Syrian Arab Army kills scores of terrorists
in Deir Ezzor, Hama, Daraa

Deir Ezzor

More than 9 ISIS terrorists were killed in new operations carried out by the army units against their gatherings in Deir Ezzor and the surrounding areas.

A military source told SANA that an army unit carried out intensive operations against gatherings and fortifications of ISIS terrorists, killing 9 terrorists in the surrounding of al-Maqaber “cemeteries” area in Deir Ezzor and eliminating a terrorist group which tried to infiltrate into Qita’a al-Tanmia in the western part of the city.

The source added that a bulldozer belonging to the terrorists was destroyed in the operations, and all members of a terrorist group were killed in Talet al-Snouf in the surrounding of the Regiment 137 on the southwestern outskirts of the city

Hama

Army units eliminated two terrorist groups affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra after
targeting their gatherings and hotbeds in some villages and towns in the northern countryside of Hama province.

The army units carried out military operations targeting Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists’ gatherings and movement axes in the northern countryside of the province, leaving all members of an armed terrorist group dead northeast of Khirbet al-Hajameh village, among them 6 terrorists of the so-called the Turkistani Party.

The source added that all members of another terrorist group were eliminated west of Kawkab village and a tank was destroyed in Tal al-Sakher. A heavy machinegun-equipped vehicle was also destroyed in al-Zara village during the army operations.

Later, a military source said that army units, in cooperation with supporting forces, established control over Ma’arzaf town in the northwest of Hama, killing tens of terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra and groups affiliated to it.

SAA restore control on Merzaf, Hama northern suburbs

Daraa

An army unit thwarted an attack by Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists on military points in al-Manshia neighborhood in Daraa al-Balad area.

A military source told SANA that the army unit carried on fierce clashes with Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists in the surroundings of a number of military points in al-Manshia neighborhood in Daraa al-Balad area.

The source added that the attack was foiled and scores of the terrorists were killed, in addition to destroying a number of their vehicles, some equipped with canons and machineguns.

Syrian army’s response to an attack by the Nasra Front
in al-Manshiyyah neighborhood, Daraa al-Madinah


Al-Jaafari: “Winning battle of combating terrorism
imposed our voice on the world”

(Excerpts) ~ Syria’s Permanent Representative to the U.N., Bashar al-Jaafari, stressed that the track of Astana 1, 2 and 3 was positive whether the opposition attended or not because it is specialized in monitoring the cessation of hostilities agreement, separating ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra from the armed groups which signed the agreement and uniting the efforts of the factions which signed the agreement in the battle against terrorism and this issue is very important, but it has not been implemented up till now.

“Since the establishment of Astana track, we haven’t dealt with the Turkish guarantor, but we deal with the Russian and the Iranian guarantors, and we don’t have a political or ethical confidence in the Turkish side which has always been the reason behind the problems in the region throughout history,” al-Jaafari said.

He indicated that terrorism is the main reason behind all the problems in Syria and that the most important victory against terrorism today is admitting the existence of terrorism in Syria and Iraq by the whole world and adopting eight resolutions by the UN Security Council on combating terrorism.

Al-Jaafari added that the key solution for combating international terrorism starts by controlling the borders by the Turkish side, but the Turkish regime is not willing to do that and it is dealing with this issue with blackmail.

He affirmed that terrorism is still used as a political arm and the latest terrorist attacks in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and some of the Syrian areas are a part of the process of the political pressure exerted on the Syrian Government before going to Geneva, referring to the terrorist attacks which took place before every session of the Security Council.

Al-Jaafari said that there are political forces which support terrorism and they don’t want to reach a political solution to the crisis in Syria and they don’t have the political will to engage in any credible political solution.

He referred to the support provided by western intelligence agencies to terrorism on the international level and to giving the Oscar to the so-called White Helmets which embrace members of Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization.

Al-Jaafari pointed out that the Israeli air force targeted an area in Palmyra because they felt with their backers that the battle of the Syrian Arab army against ISIS resulted in a great victory against terrorism in Palmyra and Aleppo, adding that for the same reason, the US air force interfered in al-Tharda mountain in Deir Ezzor to help ISIS in besieging 200 thousand persons.

He stressed that the Syrian military retaliation for the Israeli attack was suitable and it changed the rules of the game, referring to the measures taken by the Russian Foreign Ministry and to summoning the Israeli Ambassador and the strong statements of Iran and the Lebanese Resistance on the same issue.

Al-Jaafari indicated that the Western countries rejected a press statement proposed by Russia at the Security Council to condemn the terrorist attacks in Syria due to the absence of the international will to find political solution to the crisis.

He added that the delegation of Riyadh opposition rejects the basket of combating terrorism and at the same time it claims that it is a national opposition, wondering how it could be national while it rejects to fight terrorism.

He clarified that the reason behind targeting Syria is that it adheres to its national dignity and it has foiled all the Western agendas in the region, affirming that winning the battle of combating terrorism imposed our voice on the world and achieving more victories on the ground will facilitate reaching the political solution.


Russian Defense Ministry denies terrorists’ claims
about downing Russian helicopter in Syria

(Lattakia, 27/3/2017) ~ The Russian Defense Ministry denied allegations of terrorist organizations that a Russian helicopter was shot down in Lattakia countryside.

“All aircraft of Russia’s Aerospace Forces in the Syrian Arab Republic are at their bases or involved in routine missions. Claims made by terrorist-controlled media sources about a Russian helicopter allegedly being shot down have nothing to do with reality,” the spokesperson of Russian Coordination Center in Hmeimim said.

Earlier in the day, terrorists from “Ahrar al-Cham Movement” terror organization claimed that they downed a military helicopter near the village of Salma in the countryside of Lattakia.


Ship loaded with 31 thousand tons of wheat provided by Russia arrived in the Syrian port of Tartous

(26/3/2017) ~ In the framework of the Russian aid provided in support of the Syrian people in facing terrorism and the consequences of the unilateral economic coercive measures imposed on Syria, a ship loaded with 31, 5 thousand tons of soft wheat, provided by the Russian Federation, arrived in Tartous port.

Director of the General Establishment for Grain Trade and Manufacture Majed Hmaidan said that the current amount of wheat is the second batch of the Russian aid as a ship loaded with 17, 3 thousand tons of soft wheat arrived in Tartous Port early this month.

Hmaidan pointed out that the total amount of the soft wheat provided by the Russian government to the Syrian people has reached 48, 893 thousand tons up till now.


Syrian Authorities seize large amounts of weapons and ammo meant to be smuggled to terrorists in Hama and Lattakia

(25/3/2017) ~ Authorities in Hama and Lattakia provinces seized large amounts and weapons which were meant to be smuggled to terrorist organizations in the northern countryside of Hama and Lattakia.

SANA’s correspondent that the authorities in Hama and Lattakia, in cooperation with locals and after surveillance and investigations, seized large amounts of weapons that were to be smuggled to terrorists in the northern countryside of the two provinces.

The correspondent said that the confiscated weapons and ammo included 14.5 mm machineguns, assorted rifles with their ammo, 23 mm artillery ammo, offensive and defensive grenades, around 100,000 bullets for DShK and PKC machineguns, mortar rounds of various sizes, RPG rounds, and assorted highly-destructive rocket shells.


~ Syria, Battlefield’s News ~

http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.003003&lon=38.430176&z=7&m=bs


SOURCES:
Syrian & Russian Military Reports, 25-27 March 2017
Thanks to the heroic SANA Reporters from the Battlefield
Submitted by SyrianPatriots 
War Press Info Network at:
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/saa-palmyra-area/
~
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SAA kills all members of Daesh gang in Damascus countryside, destroys terrorists’ dens and weaponry in other areas – By Syrian free Press

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A Syrian Arab Army unit carried out a special operation against a gathering of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL, IS…) terrorists in the southeastern countryside of Damascus.

(26/3/2017) ~ Military sources said that the Army artillery on Sunday morning carried out intensive bombardments against one of the gatherings of Daesh terrorists in Beer al-Qasab area in the southeastern countryside of Damascus.

The sources added that all members of a terrorist group affiliated to Daesh terrorist organization were killed in the bombardments and their arms and military equipment were destroyed.

SAA kills Al-Nusra terrorists on outskirts of Damascus

The Syrian army has managed to take control of a key area in Jobar which lies on the outskirts of the capital Damascus. The achievement follows several days of intense fighting with al-Nusra terrorists. As Press TV’s Zahraa al-Derzi reports, securing Jobar is significant because it enhances the security of the capital.

Deir Ezzor 

The Syrian army air force carried out airstrikes targeting Daesh positions and movement axes in al-Maqaber and Jounid Battalion areas and in the surrounding of the airport, the Electricity Company, Liwa al-Taamin, blocks factories and al-Jafra village, in Deir Ezzor.

The army airstrikes left a number of Daesh terrorists dead or injured and destroyed a number of their hideouts and amounts of equipment.

Syrian army units destroyed two Daesh armored vehicles in the surrounding of Deir Ezzor city.

SAA targeting terrorists near the airport of Deir al-Zor

Daraa

Syrian army units carried out military operations targeting Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists’ infiltration axes and positions in Daraa province on Sunday.

Military sources said that the army units destroyed a cannon base to the north of al-Bitar farm, a rocket launching pad south of Daraa city, a barricade in al-Sad road and an ammunition depot west of the post office building in Daraa al-Balad area.

The source added that the Syrian army operations eliminated a number of terrorists in al-Kark neighborhood and killed most members of an armed terrorist group in Tafas-north Daraa road.

Hama

Syrian Arab Army continues pushing back Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham’ militants in the vicinity of Hama

Syrian National Defense: Northern Homs countryside

Syrian National Defense: Report from Qaboun


SOURCES:
Syrian Arab News Agency 26/3/2017 reporters from the battlefields
Submitted by SyrianPatriots
War Press Info Network at :
https://syrianfreepress.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/saa-kills-daesh-apes/
~
Re-publications are welcome, but we kindly ask you,
to facilitate the correct information's diffusion,
to cite all these original links and sources.

NOTE: The contents of the articles, speeches or comments on this page are of sole responsibility of their authors. The team and the editorial staff of SyrianFreePress do not necessarily subscribe every point of view expressed and are not responsible for any inaccurate, incorrect or offensive statement in this article. Complaints and corrections (verifiable) will be welcomed and accepted. Copyright owners can notify their claims to us, and the verified contents will be removed.

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