Syrian War Report – July 6, 2018: Syrian Army Retakes Multiple Points On Border With Jordan – By South Front (VT)

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…from SouthFront

The military operation of government forces in southern Syria was once again resumed after the Damascus government and local militants groups had failed to reach any kind of fully-fledged reconciliation agreement that would allow to settle the situation in the area via a peaceful way.

On July 5, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), the Tiger Forces and their allies liberated the town of Saida and the nearby abandoned air defense base in the province of Daraa. Additionally, the SAA advanced along the border with Jordan liberating over 10 villages between the border points of 71 and 79.

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According to pro-government sources, the SAA faced a little resistance during their operation along the border. Russian troops were spotted there.

The operation is also supported by the Russian Aerospace Forces. Nonetheless, the number of airstrikes is limited. Currently, government forces are developing their operation in the direction of the Nassib border crossing.

Clashes between Turkish-backed militants, reportedly members of Ahrar al-Sharqiyah, and government troops have taken place in the village of Tadef in the province of Aleppo. Turkish-backed forces captured some positions, but were forced to withdraw from them later. According to pro-government sources, the withdrawal was ordered by the Turkish military to de-escalated the situation.

Such incidents show the real sentiments among the so-called moderate opposition groups backed by Turkey and limitations of Ankara’s control of these groups.

The ISIS-linked news agency Amaq claimed that on July 4 ISIS fighters had ambushed a convoy of the US-led coalition in the village of Namliyah in the eastern part of Deir Ezzor province. According to Amaq, ISIS employed 18 IEDs against the convoy killing four US troops. Other sources say that only two US servicemen were killed. The US-led coalition has not commented on these reports so far.

Meanwhile, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have captured the villages of Madinah and Qabr Taha from ISIS in the southern part of Hasakah province. The SDF is continuing it operation in the direction of the Tuwaymin area.

We’ll respond if lives of our military, incl. from strikes on Damascus, are endangered – Russian MoD – By RT

We’ll respond if lives of our military, incl. from strikes on Damascus, are endangered – Russian MoD
Moscow is ready to respond if lives of the Russian servicemen are endangered, including by strikes on Damascus, head of Russia’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov said.

“There are many Russian advisers, representatives of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides and [Russian] servicemen in Damascus and at Syrian defense facilities,” Gerasimov stated.

In case lives of Russian military personnel are put in danger, the Russian Armed Forces will respond with certain measure to both “missiles” and “lauchers” which are delivering these projectiles.

Russian MoD also says it has information that militants in Syria are planning to stage chemical attacks against civilians under the guise of the Syrian government. According to Gerasimov, they have already sent ‘civilians’ in Eastern Ghouta who will ‘play victims’ of chemical attacks. Members of the White Helmets and film crews are already there, he pointed out.

“Following the provocation, the United States are planning to accuse Syrian government forces of using chemical weapons,” according to Gerasimov. In the aftermath it would “present the international community the so-called ‘evidence’ of the apparent mass deaths of civilians at the hands of the Syrian government and “supporting it, the Russian leadership.”

In response, Washington will strike the government quarters of Damascus, the general has alleged.

READ MORE: First group of 50+ civilians safely leaves E. Ghouta via humanitarian corridor – Russian MoD

On Monday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned that Washington will take action in Syria on its own if the UN Security Council fails to do so. When the UNSC “failed to act” after the Khan Sheikhoun chemical incident in 2017, the US “successfully struck the airbase from which Assad had launched his chemical attack,” Haley stated.

The US diplomat once again claimed that Russia and Damascus continue to bomb “innocent civilians” under a pretext of fighting terrorism. However, Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia dismissed the allegations, saying that Western countries use the situation in Eastern Ghouta only as a pretext to put pressure on Russia and blindly put the blame on Damascus for any incidents in the country.

READ MORE:Militant groups split & clash in E. Ghouta, civilians seek shelter – Russian MoD

Also on Monday, Nebenzia accused militant groups in the city of using chlorine gas. He added that the Syrian operation in the Damascus suburbs does not violate resolution 2401, as it exempts terrorists.

“They [militants] are constantly striking humanitarian corridors and checkpoints, including during the humanitarian pauses,” Nebenzia stated. “They intensified the use of tunnels in order to provoke the Syrian military and the exits of those tunnels are in the areas of public buildings, first and foremost mosques, hospitals and markets.”

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First group of militants surrender arms & leave East Ghouta after Russia-brokered talks – By RT

 
The first group of militants have surrendered their arms and left East Ghouta as an increasing number of rebel fighters in Syria seek to disassociate themselves from Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists, the Russian military has announced.

“Certain representatives of illegal armed groups have intensified attempts to get in touch with the Syrian government forces and the Russian Center for Reconciliation with the aim of discussing their separation from the banned terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra,” Major General Yury Yevtushenko, the head of the Reconciliation Center in Syria, said in a statement on Friday.

Efforts to separate the so-called moderate opposition fighters from jihadists continue in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta. The Syrian government established a humanitarian corridor which remains open to both civilians and militants who are willing to lay down their arms.

The first group of 13 militants used the gateway to leave the rebel-controlled Damascus suburb via Muhayam al-Wafideen corridor overnight. Video of the exodus under government watch shows fighters carrying their belongings and boarding vehicles to head to Idlib. Yevtushenko attributed the militant surrender to the “lengthy talks” held by the reconciliation center’s officers and jihadist groups.

No provocations followed the exit of militants, the general said, adding that those who have surrendered will be transported to Idlib, while negotiations continue regarding the surrender of other militants. The news of militants’ surrender coincided with a statement by the Jaysh Al-Islam group, which allegedly agreed to release Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) fighters from their prisons and send them towards Idlib as well. 

The situation in East Ghouta remains tense, Yevtushenko said, stressing that terrorists continue shelling civilian areas of Damascus and targeting those who are trying to flee the terrorist enclave. “The attacks are carried out even during the humanitarian pauses,” the general said, noting that none of the civilians managed to safely exit the terrorist-controlled areas in the past day.

The situation is getting so dire that people are prepared to flee by bypassing the corridors which are targeted by the militants, Yevtushenko said, citing reports received through the Russian Centre’s hotline.

Despite tensions in East Ghouta, the Russian Centre for Reconciliation has ensured “safe and unimpeded delivery” of the United Nations-Syrian Arab Red Crescent humanitarian convoy on Friday. The convoy of 13 trucks delivered 74 tons of food and medical supplies to East Ghouta’s Douma, which lies just 10 km north-east of the center of Damascus.

“Teams from ICRC, Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and UN in Eastern Ghouta delivered 2,400 food parcels that can sustain 12,000 people for one month, as well as 3,248 wheat flour bags,” the aid agency told RT in a statement. “The 13-truck delivery was part of a convoy that could not be fully unloaded on 5 March due to the security situation.”

“The needs of people remains massive,” Ralph El Hage, a representative from the Red Cross told RT. “You have medical needs, you need access to a good source of food, you also need to have access to clean water.”

Currently, the priority remains the delivery of medical supplies and food aid to the militant-controlled areas. SARC is currently waiting for “security guarantees” from the warring sides to deliver more supplies to the civilian population, El Hage added.

A Russia-backed ceasefire came into effect in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta late last month, following the UN Security Council resolution which called for a 30-day ceasefire across Syria. It envisions mutually agreed humanitarian pauses for aid deliveries and evacuation of civilians, through the specially established humanitarian corridor. However, the militants ignored the agreement and continue shelling Damascus and firing at those trying to leave the area even during those pauses. An estimated 400,000 people remain trapped in besieged Eastern Ghouta since 2013.

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Lavrov: Russia dismisses ‘bogus’ reports of chemical attack in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta – By RT ( SOTT )

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

© Photo by AFP
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks with his Portuguese counterpart Augusto Ernesto dos Santos Silva (not shown in the picture) during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, on February 26, 2018

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has dismissed as “bogus stories” the recent reports of an alleged chemical attack in the militant-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Syrian capital city of Damascus, stressing that government forces have attacked foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists there.

“There are already bogus stories in the media that yesterday chlorine was used in Eastern Ghouta, citing an anonymous individual living in the United States,” Lavrov said at a press conference in Moscow on Monday.

His remarks came two days after the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on a 30-day ceasefire in Syria. The document, however, did not specify when the truce would go into effect.

Comment: Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the implementation of a daily ceasefire in Syria’s Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta from Tuesday and the creation of a “humanitarian corridor” through which civilians can leave the militant-held area.

“On the instructions of the Russian president, with the goal of avoiding civilian casualties in Eastern Ghouta, from February 27 — tomorrow — from 9.00 to 14.00 local time there will be a humanitarian pause,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a ministry meeting in the capital Moscow on Monday.

Putin was also quoted as saying that there should be similar pauses in the southeastern Syrian town of al-Tanf in Homs province and in Rukban, near the Jordanian border “so that civilians can return to their homes unhindered and begin to rebuild their civilian lives.”

The announcement came two days after the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted in favor of a resolution demanding a 30-day truce in Syria “without delay” to allow aid access and medical evacuations.

Lavrov added that militant groups affiliated with the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, were operating inside Eastern Ghouta.

“This makes Nusra’s partners unprotected by the ceasefire. They are also subject to actions by the Syrian air force,” the top Russian diplomat pointed out.

Syrian children and adults receive treatment for a suspected chemical attack at a makeshift clinic

© Photo by AFP
Syrian children and adults receive treatment for a suspected chemical attack at a makeshift clinic in the town of al-Shifoniya in the Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus late on February 25, 2018

The White Helmets, a so-called rescue group that has been documented to have ties with anti-Damascus militant groups as well as Western and Persian Gulf Arab governments backing the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, claims that Syrian government forces have deployed chlorine gas against the town of al-Shifoniya town in Eastern Ghouta, killing one child and causing “widespread suffocation” among the local civilians.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights later said 14 civilians had suffered breathing difficulties after a Syrian warplane struck the Eastern Ghouta region.

The London-based monitor group quoted victims, ambulance drivers and others as saying that they had smelt chlorine after “an enormous explosion” in the area.

“At least 18 victims were treated with oxygen nebulizing sessions,” Reuters news agency quoted an unidentified militant source as saying.

Russian Defense Ministry had earlier warned that militant groups in Eastern Ghouta were preparing a false flag attack in a bid to blame the Damascus government for using chemical weapons against civilians.

“Evidence has shown that the leaders of illegal armed formations in Eastern Ghouta are preparing a provocation using poisonous agents in order to accuse Syrian government forces of using chemical weapons against its civilians,” the ministry said in a statement.

Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus which is home to some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few days, with foreign-sponsored terrorists launching mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat.

The Syrian government surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.

Western governments and their allies however have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack has taken place.

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

Two military personnel killed in Hmeymim airbase shelling December 31 – By TASS

January 04, 10:26 updated at: January 04, 10:49 UTC+3

Russian Defense Ministry also said that reports on seven aircraft destroyed at the Hmeymim airbase in Syria on December 31 are not true

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© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, January 4. /TASS/. Two military servicemen were killed in the December 31 mortar shelling of the Hmeymim airbase in Syria by militants, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Thursday.

“On December 31, 2017, at nightfall, the Hmeymim airfield came under a sudden mortar fire from a mobile militant subversive group. Two military servicemen were killed in the shelling,” the ministry said.

Ministry also stated that reports on seven aircraft destroyed by militants at the Hmeymim airbase in Syria on December 31 are not true. “A report in the Kommersant newspaper on the alleged destruction of seven Russian warplanes at the Hmeymim airbase is fake. Russia’s air group in Syria is combat ready and continues to accomplish all its missions in full,” the ministry said.

The Kommersant newspaper earlier wrote citing some sources that on December 31 militants from one of terror groups shelled the Hmeymim airbase with mortars destroying four Sukhoi Su-24 bombers, two Sukhoi Su-35S fighter jets, one Antonov An-72 transport plane and an ammunition depot. According to the paper, more than ten military servicemen could be injured.

 

On January 3, the Russian Defense Ministry said that on December 31 Russia’s Mi-24 helicopter crashed due to a technical malfunction during a flight to Syria’s Hama airfield. Both pilots were killed in the crash. The ministry denied reports that the Mi-24 had been in the line of fire.

On Thursday, the Russian Defense Ministry refuted reports on seven aircraft destroyed in Syria.

More:
http://tass.com/world/983993

Pentagon Falsifies Paperwork To Keep Syrian Rebels Armed With Quasi-Covert Program – by Whitney Webb

 

On July 19, the Trump administration announced that it would end the CIA’s covert program aimed at arming and training terrorist-linked “moderate rebels” in Syria, sparking hope among some Trump supporters that he was finally enacting the anti-interventionist rhetoric of his campaign.

However, a recently released report shows that the Pentagon has picked up the slack left by the end of the CIA’s program — pumping billions of dollars worth of weapons into the hands of Syrian “rebels,” while attempting to mask the paper trail and their suppliers’ ties to organized crime.

The report, published Tuesday by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), provides conclusive evidence that the Pentagon plans to provide up to $2.2 billion in weapons to Syrian “rebel” groups, particularly Kurdish militant groups like the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). While the Pentagon has been arming “rebels” since 2015, the Department of Defense began requesting increased funding for the program once the CIA covert arms program was ostensibly slated to shut down

While the Pentagon has been arming “rebels” since 2015, the Department of Defense began requesting increased funding for the program once the CIA covert arms program was ostensibly slated to shut down.

The Pentagon has requested an additional $322.5 million for the financial year ending October 2017 and $261.9 million for the following 12 months. For fiscal years 2017 and 2018, the budget for the program has been set at $584 million while another $900 million has been earmarked to continue the program through 2022.

 

Working the Balkan arms pipeline

Weapons were shipped from Eastern-Europe via Silk Way airlines, who offered security-free diplomatic flights to clients ranging from Saudi Arabia, Israel to US Central Command.

The program utilizes the Pentagon’s so-called “Balkan arms pipeline,” a network first exposed by Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva. The arms-supply chain involves the U.S. purchasing vast amounts of Soviet-Era weaponry from Eastern Europe, from which it is then shipped to air bases in Turkey and Kuwait, via the Azerbaijan commercial airline Silk Way, and later sent into Syria. The BIRN/OCCRP report adds, notably, that several of the Pentagon’s weapons suppliers in these countries share links to organized crime organizations and other unsavory actors.

In addition, the report details how this Pentagon program to arm “rebels” has essentially sidestepped long-established checks on international weapons trafficking that are intended to curb illicit deals. Many of these safety checks are included in the UN’s Arms Trade Treaty, which the U.S. has yet to ratify but ostensibly supports.


Related | Journalist Interrogated For Linking CIA Weapons Shipments To Syrian Jihadists


Patrick Wilcken, an arms researcher at Amnesty International, told BIRN that the Pentagon’s actions are undermining the treaty in its entirety.

 

Masking the recipients

Syrian militants are seen with a Serbian made MO2 Coyote machine gun, a weapon which was shipped to Syria via Saudi Arabia and Turkey on diplomatic flights a few months earlier.

The specific “sidesteps” the Pentagon has been taking involve the alleged removal of documentation regarding who or what groups ultimately receive the purchased weapons. By removing this documentation, the Pentagon enables weapon transfers to any armed group within Syria it chooses – including Syrian rebels – without providing documentation as to who received what.

“The Pentagon is removing any evidence in their procurement records that weapons are actually going to the Syrian opposition,” Ivan Angelovski, who co-wrote the report, told Foreign Policy. Indeed, when the report authors contacted authorities in Romania, Bulgaria, and other nations involved in the program, several of the governments responded that they had granted export licenses for the weapons where the U.S., not Syria, was listed as the final destination. They claimed to have been unaware that the weapons were destined for Syria.

Thus, the Pentagon’s alteration of documentation is, in fact, illegal, given the U.S.’ membership in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which requires that end-user certificates include the final destination country.

 

Exhausting the Balkan weapons’ supplies

A visitor looks at assault rifles made by the Serbian company Zastava Arms, during a defense fair, in Belgrade, Serbia. (AP/Darko Vojinovic)

Furthermore, the report notes that the arms transfers are so massive that they are fundamentally altering the economies of the Eastern European nations that are supplying the weapons. The report notes that factories in Serbia and Bulgaria have been drastically increasing arms and ammunition production in order to keep up with demand. In order to meet the increasing demand to be generated by the program over the next several years, Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic promised in July to turn “meadows and forests” into arms factories and almost double Serbia’s arms exports to $750 million by 2020.

Increased production alone has proven insufficient, however, with the Pentagon being forced to lower its standards for weapons and ammunitions to meet demand, while also forcing the U.S. to procure even more arms from “non-traditional” countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Vietnam.

While the U.S. has ostensibly accepted that Syria’s government will remain in power and even reclaim most, if not all, of its territory, it seems the Pentagon – along with its regional ally, Israel – are unwilling to let the billions already spent on arming the Syrian “rebels” go for naught, spending billions more in hopes that the situation will finally favor their long-standing goal of regime change.

Top photo | Free Syrian Army militants clean their weapons and check ammunition at their base on the outskirts of Aleppo, Syria. (Khalil Hamra/AP)

Russia deploys MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria – Deterring Israel? – By Alexander Mercouris

MiG-29SMT

Russia air force deployment of advanced MiG fighter to Syria may precede its transfer to Syria’s air force

The Russian Ministry of Defence has unexpectedly confirmed the deployment of MiG-29SMT fighters to Russia’s Khmeimim air base in north east Syria.

The MiG-29SMT should not be confused with the new MiG-35, which has yet to enter service with the Russian Aerospace Forces, and which is an essentially new aircraft with new electronics and engines and a new airplane structure, though one which uses the old MiG-29’s planform. By contrast the MiG-29SMT is essentially a heavily modernised MiG-29, an aircraft that entered service with the Russian air force in the 1980s.

It is nonetheless a potent aircraft which however is designed for air to air combat against enemy fighters rather than for strike roles or ground attack. In this it differs from the SU-35 and SU-30 fighters also deployed by the Russian Aerospace Forces to Syria, which though exceptionally effective air combat fighters are nonetheless true multirole fighters, which are also very effective when used for ground strikes.

What explains the deployment of the MiG-29SMT to Syria?

Ever since the start of the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015 the Russians have openly and frankly spoken of Syria as a testing ground for their military systems. It would be in keeping with this approach to use Syria to test the combat performance of the MiG-29SMT, making it incidentally the first MiG fighter deployed by the Russians to Syria on a sustained basis, though four much more advanced naval MiG-29K fighters were also briefly deployed to Syria last autumn on board Russia’s carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.

However a more likely reason for the deployment to Syria of the MiG-29SMT is that the Russians are preparing a delivery of MiG-29SMT aircraft to Syria and the deployment of some examples of this aircraft to Khmeimim air base is intended to familiarise the Syrians with it.

In 2009 the Russians confirmed that a contract had been agreed between Russia and Syria for the supply of 24 MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria. The sale was however postponed in 2012 because of the Syrian war. However with most of western Syria now pacified and under the Syrian government’s control, and with ISIS just weeks away from final defeat in eastern Syria, it is now possible to speak of the Syrian war finally winding down, making it possible for the supply of the 24 MiG-29SMTs to proceed.

When the Syrian war is finally over the Syrian air force – which has experienced heavy equipment losses because of the war, and whose aircraft are anyway largely obsolete Soviet designs delivered to Syria by the USSR in the 1970s and 1980s – will need modern new aircraft to re-equip itself, especially in light of the increasing threats to Syria from Israel.

At that point the transfer of the 24 MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria may finally take place, with the deployment of some of these aircraft to Syria being intended to prepare the ground for this.

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The Limelight Defeat of America’s “Assad Must Go” Policy – by Salman Rafi Sheikh

 

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As the events of war in Syria have emphatically shown, the self-styled Islamic State and the US-supported “moderate” jihadi groups have been defeated, and with it has died down the cornerstone of America’s direct and indirect military intervention i.e., “Assad must go” in Syria. This is evident not only from the way the Syrian army, supported by its Iranian and Russian allies, has rolled back the destroyers of Syria, but also how Assad has started to re-assert his standing as a legitimate ruler of Syria, representing Syria’s interests in major international forums and setting rules of engagement with regard to discussing Syria’s future and the role other countries can play in it. This assertion came to full limelight in a recent speech that Assad made in the second half of the month of August and outlined his vision for Syria’s post-war reconstruction. Of particualr importance were his words with regard to the role some foreign powers have been playing in Syria since the beginning of the so-called “civil war” as he said that he expects those foreign powers, the US and its Arab allies, who have pushed a regime change agenda – an agenda that has caused a lot of destruction and yet failed spectacularly –to abandon their residual links with rebel groups. Until this is done, Assad said further, “there will be neither security cooperation, nor the opening of embassies.”

Clearly, Assad is setting his terms of engagement with the powers that have sought to oust him in the last five years or so. What is equally evident here is the way Assad himself has set his own position as the ruler at the helm of Syrian affairs, intending to extend his control on the whole of Syria and deciding both its domestic and foreign policies. As such, while Assad was explicit in chiding some foreign powers for their role in Syria, he was equally explicit in setting his country’s future foreign policy orientation towards “the East.” He said, the “strategic future of Syria must be towards the East.”

Assad’s speech coincided with the defeat of one of the most powerful “rebel groups” in Syria, Ahrar-al-Sham. Not only was this group one of the West’s “moderate elements” but also played an instrumental role in a number of “rebel” victories against government troops during the years 2013-2015. Many in the West pinned high hopes on it, seeing it as a potential player in the future of Syria, especially after its troops joined in the fight against the IS and also agreed to support a political endgame to the Syrian conflict. Its defeat has, as such, turned out to be the last nail in the coffin of America’s “Assad must go” policy. With Ahrar’s fighters now fleeing and joining other group and with Syrian and Russian elements controlling Syria’s geo-political terrain, the West is left with minimum options to enliven the war through some other groups. Therefore, it is not surprising to see some influential policy makers in the US coming to terms with a Syria under Assad’s control.

“Bashar Assad’s government has won the war militarily,” said Robert Ford, a former US ambassador to Damascus, who is said to have played an instrumental role in fomenting the crisis in Syria back in 2011-12, adding further that “I can’t see any prospect of the Syrian opposition being able to compel him to make dramatic concessions in a peace negotiation.”

And while raw material i.e., human element to sustain these groups exit, sources of support for them have dried. The Syrian “rebels” have been frustrated by the way Europe, for instance, has become more interested in stanching the flow of Syrian refugees and stabilizing the country enough to send many of those already in Europe back. Continuation of war, therefore, doesn’t suit Europe.

Persian Gulf is squabbling, and due to that internal rift, flow of support to previously supported groups has shrunk dramatically, adding to the opposition group’s sense of frustration. Therefore, the directions they’re now receiving are markedly different from that of past 2 years. “The nations who supported us the most … they’re all shifting their position,” told Osama Abu Zaid, an opposition spokesman, to an American newspaper. “We’re being pressured from all sides to draw up a more realistic vision, to accept Assad staying.”

While the US has established a number of military establishments in Kurdish dominated northern parts of Syria, indicating its intentions to prolong its stay in Syria, the speed of the Syrian forces’ recovery of the lost ground and the fact that regional powers, Turkey and Iran, have joined hands to prevent the establishment of Kurdistan show that the US plan is increasingly looking like a pipe dream. The US, realistically speaking, apparently has no source on the ground to sustain itself or influence the final outcome. With direct military intervention out of the question, it is much more than even an uphill task of cobbling together a fresh “rebel force” to be able to challenge the combined forces of Syria and Iran backed militias, including Hizbollah, in the southern and eastern regions of Syria.

What is adding more problems is the fact that the US-backed groups and the US-led coalition have miserably failed to give a positive message to the masses they are supposedly protecting against a “brutal” regime. The so-called “unfortunate” incidents of civilian deaths at the hands of these forces are furthering the distance between these groups and the people who might have supported them in the past. In a latest incident of this nature, the US led coalition fighting the IS militants said on last Friday that its strike had caused at least 61 civilian deaths. Much for the erosion of “popular support” these forces and powers claimed to have in the country!

All in all, it is clear that the ground has been cleared of any possibility of Assad’s exit from Syria. The only hope left for the US to realize its erstwhile agenda is through massive mobilization of Kurdish forces. However, were this to happen, the US would end up unwittingly cementing the Turkish-Iranian and Syrian alliance further and increase the likelihood that the Iranian militias and Assad’s forces, duly supported by Turkey, would start an offensive against the Kurds. In such a scenario, the Americans won’t use troops to defend the Syrian Kurds. There is no appetite for this among the American public, and the Syrian Kurds would be making a terrible mistake thinking the US will come and save them.

Salman Rafi Sheikh, research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.
https://journal-neo.org/2017/09/07/the-limelight-defeat-of-america-s-assad-must-go-policy/

 

Syria’s victory at Deir ez-Zor turns the tide on US regime-change plans – By Finian Cunningham (RT )

© Ammar Safarjalani / Global Look Press

The breaking of the siege of Deir ez-Zor by the Syrian army and its Russian ally marks the defeat of not just foreign-backed anti-government militants. It signals victory over the regime-change plot orchestrated by the US and its partners.

For three years, the eastern Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor had been besieged by militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terror network. This week the Syrian army broke the stranglehold and liberated the city with crucial help from Russian air power.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reportedly sent a letter of congratulations to Syria’s Bashar Assad, a measure of the strategic significance of the event.

Deir ez-Zor on the Euphrates River had been the main terror hub in the country, serving as a supply corridor for IS between neighboring Iraq and Syria, according to Russia’s Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi. Now with the vanquishing of that hub, the terrorist remnants in Syria “face a crushing defeat.”

Last week, a headline in Britain’s Guardian newspaper put it succinctly, if not mendaciously. “Victory for Assad looks increasingly likely as world loses interest in Syria.”

The report went on to say: “States that were until recently committed to toppling the Syrian leader are now resigned to him staying.”

What the Guardian meant by its anodyne phrase “the world losing interest in Syria” is that the US and its NATO and regional allies have given up the ghost of overthrowing the Syrian government.

For more than six years since conflict broke out in March 2011, Syria has been the victim of an international criminal conspiracy led by the United States to topple President Assad and the Syrian state. The regime-change operation has been instrumented by the US and its allies sponsoring terrorist mercenary armies, while the Western mainstream news media served to distort the criminal enterprise by depicting it as a civil war.

It was Russia’s military intervention at the end of 2015 in support of the Syrian state that turned the tide. Military support from Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah also played a crucial role in turning the war in favor of the Syrian Arab Army.

The liberation of the northern city of Aleppo at the end of 2016 by Syrian and Russian forces was the beginning of the end for the US-backed covert war. Now the liberation of Deir ez-Zor spells the definitive defeat.

What The Guardian coyly calls “world losing interest in Syria” is attested to by several recent developments.

The general dropping by Western corporate news media of coverage on the war in Syria is a telltale signal that the geopolitical agenda of Western governments had shifted. Before the liberation of Aleppo in December, there were shrill, hysterical Western media reports of Syrian-Russian war crimes. The hysteria proved to be a complete fabrication as the liberated citizens of Aleppo and returning refugees began to rebuild their lives.

Over the past nine months, Western media coverage on Syria has steadily declined. To the point where this week’s momentous military victory by Syrian and Russian forces in Deir ez-Zor was bizarrely under-reported. Tellingly, instead of reporting on the liberation of the former ISIS stronghold, Western media tried to focus on a dubious report from the UN claiming that Assad’s forces had used sarin chemical weapons in the town of Khan Sheikhoun in April. Those hackneyed claims have been largely debunked by Russia and other independent sources, which said the CW attack was most likely a propaganda stunt by the Al Nusra terror group occupying the town, along with their White Helmets confederates.

Increasingly, the Western narrative on Syria has been shown to be a fraud. The reality of the US and its British and French allies, as well as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel attempting to topple a sovereign state, has become too transparent to continue concealing. Same too for the reality of Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah liberating a country from Western-backed terrorist mercenaries. Therefore, Western media have, by necessity, had to drop their mendacious coverage.

The decision two months ago by US President Donald Trump to end CIA militant training programs in Syria was a de facto acknowledgment by Washington that the game was up. That has been followed by British Special Forces withdrawing from training camps for militants in Syria, as well as reports that the Saudi regime has terminated its bankrolling of the terror proxies.

The Kremlin’s confirmation this week that Saudi King Salman is to visit Moscow at the end of October is another indicator that the Saudis are trying to stem their losses in Syria.

Trump has backed off earlier US demands President Assad had to step down. French President Emmanuel Macron and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson have also reportedly resigned to accepting that the Syrian government is secure from being forcibly removed.

Reports of Jordan and Turkey lately trying to reestablish bilateral relations with Syria are further admissions that the regime-change plot against Assad has failed. Those two neighboring countries were vital conduits for US and NATO training camps, and Saudi-financed arms supplies to the militant proxies in Syria.

When Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu made his surprise trip to Moscow at the end of last month, his reported appeal to President Putin over Iran’s forces in Syria was another data point for the strategic sea-change.

It’s not totally clear-cut, however. The US-backed Kurdish forces assailing the other last remaining IS-held city of Raqqa in Syria’s northeast has seen relentless American air power deployed with horrendous civilian slaughter. US forces in Syria are of course illegal without any mandate from the Syrian government or the UN. While the US-led regime-change covert war in Syria appears to be all but lost, US military intervention still poses a threat to Syrian territorial integrity.

Nevertheless, Syria and its Russian, Iranian and Lebanese allies are emerging as the victors. The historical significance cannot be overstated. For the past two decades, the US and its allies have been on a roll of criminal regime-change wars across the Middle East – with impunity.

That roll has now hit a strategic dead-end in Syria, largely because of Russia’s principled military intervention under President Putin.

Syria has been saved from a fate of failed state unlike so many other victims of America’s Orwellian “nation-building.” Or, to put it more accurately, Russia has saved Syria from US state-sponsored terrorism.

It is a seminal historical victory. But American imperialism will not give up there. We should expect the global battlefield to shift. The West’s contempt for Russia and Putin will doubtless intensify because of the strategic setback in Syria.

It is perhaps no surprise, then, that Washington has turned to stoking war with North Korea as a way to create problems for Russia. The Pentagon’s proposed stepping up of lethal weapons to the anti-Russian Kiev regime in Ukraine, as well as provocations from the seizure of Russian diplomatic properties in the US, are also acts of revenge for Putin’s successes in Syria.

Comment: Over three years under siege, Deir-ez-Zor joins Aleppo and Homs as some of the longest besieged cities in all history.

And now it’s (almost) liberated, thanks to Russian and Syrian allied forces. With it, the last remaining substantial pocket of ISIS forces is removed from Syria.

Hurrah!

Agents of Terror on Government Payroll – Part II: Ali Mohamed – By Sibel Edmonds (Newsbud)

Editor’s note: Read this article and extrapolate to many other alleged ‘Muslim terror masterminds’. Most likely, all of them were, in one way or another, assets of US intelligence agencies, tasked with creating the ‘reality’ of a terror threat to the USA in order that the US government could respond by invading and occupying nations around the world as part of the long war against Russia and China and securing the Middle East in particular for the ‘new American century’.

A Notorious Terrorist, a Major in Egypt’s Army Intelligence, a CIA Operative, a Member of the Elite Green Berets & an FBI Informant

Let’s say a script writer approaches a Hollywood production company with a proposal for a realisticspy-action thriller that features a dark action hero who is a Major in the Egyptian Army’s Military Intelligence Unit, who is selected by an Elite Special Forces Unit in the United States Army, simultaneously gets recruited by the CIA as an operative, teaches courses at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, and is on the FBI Payroll. Then he triple crosses the Elite U.S. military Forces, the CIA and the FBI, uses his U.S. military information to train al-Qaeda and other radical Muslim militants, becomes Bin Laden’s bodyguard (all this while he is still on the payroll of the U.S. military, the CIA and the FBI), blows up U.S. embassies around the world (while still on the triple payroll) – is the most dangerous man in the world according to the U.S. Justice Department. Then he gets caught, is tried and indicted in a secret U.S. court behind closed doors, yet manages to evade sentencing, skips jail, and continues his terror operations around the globe.

What do you think the production company’s response would be? An unrealistic, far-fetched delirium, probably imagined and written while under some sort of psychedelic drug?

What if I were to tell you that everything in the script above, and some more, is a well-documented, government-confirmed, real life case?

Meet Ali Abdul Saoud Mohamed. One of the highest-ranking Al Qaeda terrorists. A man known to and marketed by the U.S. government and Mainstream media as a notorious Triple Agent Terrorist. A man described by U.S. Justice Department Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, as the most dangerous man in the world I’ve ever met.

Are you dizzy yet? Let’s breakdown Ali Mohamed’s background in a more orderly fashion:

Mohamed was a Major in the Egyptian Army’s Military Intelligence Unit.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army and was selected by U.S. Army Special Forces, who sent him to Special Warfare School and encouraged him to pursue a doctorate in Islamic Studies and teach courses on the Middle East.

He was highly educated and spoke fluent English, French, and Hebrew in addition to his native Arabic.

In 1984 the CIA recruited him to be a junior intelligence officer.

The FBI publicly used him as an informant for years.

While in the United States, working for at least three government agencies, including the U.S. Army, he helped train a number of Jihadis, including El Sayyid Nosair and Mahmud Abouhalima, who assisted Ramzi Yousef in his 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.

During the 1980s, while in these three U.S. government entities, he was involved in the training of Anti-Soviet forces, which included members of the mujahideen, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and terrorist members responsible for the bombings of two U.S. embassies.

In 1992 he made at least 58 trips to Afghanistan to participate in the training of terrorist cells, while under the surveillance of the CIA, and the FBI.

In 1998 he was charged with the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to kill nationals of the United States and to destroy U.S. property.

Although indicted, secretly, behind closed court doors, Ali Mohamed was never sentenced.

Just as in the case of Awlaki, all court sessions and documents, all reports and all investigations pertaining to Ali Mohamed are highly classified and not available to even those with TS clearance. Unlike Awlaki, who was fried and turned into ashes by a U.S. drone, Mohamed was allegedly jailed in a high-security prison, and has not been interviewed or seen by any outsiders. Because he is nowhere near any U.S. jail! He has been continuing his work and travel for CIA-NATO Operation Gladio B.

Okay, now let’s begin laying out the facts with links, documents and witnesses…

Early Years …

Ali Mohamed was born in Kafr El Sheikh, Lower Egypt, in 1952. His father was a career soldier in the Egyptian Army. Following in his father’s footsteps, Mohamed attended the Cairo Military Academy after his graduation from high school in 1970, and then went on to attend university near his hometown, obtaining two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Alexandria. In addition to his native Arabic, in the course of his post-secondary education he learned and became fluent in English, Hebrew and French. He joined the Egyptian Army around 1971, eventually rising to the rank of major:

He worked as an intelligence officer in the Egyptian Special Forces, with duties including the recruitment and training of intelligence assets. He was also frequently assigned to protect Egyptian diplomats abroad, and he volunteered for a number of clandestine special operations, including a raid on a Libyan prison. In 1981, while Islamist members of his Egyptian Army unit carried out the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in Cairo, Mohamed took part in a foreign officer training exercise at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; at the end of the four-month course he was given a diploma bearing a green beret.

Pretty speedy rise so far, but wait, it will get better.

The Egyptian Army deemed Mohamed too religious and potentially radical and eventually discharged him in March of 1984.For the next 18 months, on the orders of Zawahiri, Mohamed worked for the Egyptian national airline as a counterterrorism security advisor, a position that enabled him to acquire sensitive information about air piracy countermeasures.

Mohamed’s next assignment from Zawahiri was to infiltrate a security agency of the U.S. government. In early 1984, following the kidnapping of its Beirut station chief, the CIA began to significantly increase its efforts to recruit Middle Eastern

assets. Thus, when Mohamed – who had already been contacted by the CIA while at Fort Bragg in 1981 – approached the Cairo office of the CIA offering his services, the Cairo station chief sent out an Agency-wide cable to see if there were any operations into which Mohamed could be inserted. The Bonn station responded, and Mohamed was sent to Hamburg, Germany.

Mohamed was subsequently placed on a State Department watch list intended to bar him from entering the United States. When it learned that Mohamed was seeking a visa in 1985, the CIA says that it warned other federal agencies at that time as well not to allow him entry. Mohamed was allowed entry, however, and moved to the U.S. in September of 1985. According to a 1995 Boston Globe report, his entry into the country was made possible by “clandestine CIA sponsorship.”

That’s right. Despite being on the so-called Watch List, Mohamed sailed into, more like flew into, the United States, thanks to the cover and protection provided him by the United States Central Intelligence Agency-CIA.

Joining the Elite U.S. Army Forces and Beyond …

In 1995, after Mohamed’s name publicly surfaced at the trial of Sheikh Omar Abdul-Rahman, the Boston Globe reported that:

Mohamed had been admitted to the U.S. under a special visa program controlled by the CIA’s clandestine service. This will contradict the CIA’s later claims of disassociating themselves from Mohamed and attempting to stop him from entering the U.S..”

As soon as he arrived he married an American Woman, became a U.S. Citizen, and lo and behold, in 1986, he joined the U.S. Army as an enlisted man:

He was posted to Fort Bragg, N.C., home of the elite Special Forces. There he worked as a supply sergeant for a Green Beret unit, then as an instructor on Middle Eastern affairs in the John F. Kennedy special warfare school.

Here is what Mohamed’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Anderson, had to say about his supposed infiltration of elite U.S. military forces:

I think you or I would have a better chance of winning Powerball, than an Egyptian major in the unit that assassinated Sadat would have getting a visa, getting to California … getting into the Army and getting assigned to a Special Forces unit …That just doesn’t happen!

Anderson repeatedly wrote detailed reports urging Army intelligence to investigate Mohamed — and have him court-martialed and deported — but the reports were ignored. Or were they, really?

It was equally unthinkable that an ordinary American GI would go unpunished after fighting in a foreign war!

Anderson astutely concluded that all this convinced him that Mohamed was “sponsored” by a U.S. intelligence service. “I assumed the CIA,” he said.

According to court records and Intelligence sources, for almost as long as Ali Mohamed was a notorious terrorist, he was also in contact with (and employed by) U.S. intelligence.

In 1990, FBI agents raided the home of El Sayyid Nosair, the Egyptian born Islamic militant, right after his arrest in the shooting of Rabbi Meir Kahane:

Among the many items found in Nosair’s possession were sensitive military documents from Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The documents, some of which were classified Secret, contained the locations of U.S. military Special Operations Forces exercises and units in the Middle East, military training schedules, U.S. intelligence estimates of Soviet forces in Afghanistan, a topographical map of Fort Bragg, U.S. Central Command data and intelligence estimates of Soviet force projection in Afghanistan. Appended throughout the documents were Arabic markings and notations believed to be that of Ali Mohammed. Some documents were marked “Top Secret for Training otherwise unclassified”. Other documents were marked “sensitive.”

An FBI prepared inventory contains the entire listing of materials seized from Nosair’s residence. Beyond the U.S. military documents, the raid on Nosair’s residence produced a veritable treasure trove of terrorist documents, publications and materials. Included were actual plans for destroying skyscrapers in New York.

According to Steven Emerson, a terrorism expert and author who has written about the case, Mohamed by the early 1990s had also established himself as an FBI informant:

He agreed to serve (the FBI) and provide information, but in fact he was working for the bad guys and insulating himself from scrutiny from other law enforcement agencies.

Simultaneously A CIA-FBI-Pentagon-Al Qaeda Man …

In 1991, Mohammed was the person in charge of Osama Bin Laden’s move from Afghanistan to the Sudan:

From his base in Santa Clara, Mohammed soon emerged as a top aide to Osama Bin Laden. Federal officials say that Mohammed traveled regularly to and from Pakistan and Afghanistan, having helped oversee Bin Laden’s terrorist bases in Khost and other terrorist camps in Afghanistan.

Mohammed helped Bin Laden set up his new home and terrorist base in Khartoum, Sudan where 2000 “Arab Afghans” the name given to the Arab veterans of the Afghanistan jihad – were headquartered in Bin Laden terrorist camps. Mohammed continued to travel between the terrorist camps in Afghanistan, Bin Laden’s base in the Sudan and the United States.

Even the discredited 9/11 Commission’s final report concluded that the WTC bombing had been crafted in Afghanistan during the summer of 1992, when Ramzi Yousef and Ali Mohamed were both in the region:

Yousef’s support network when he arrived in the United States consisted almost entirely of figures with links to Ali Mohamed. But when the Brooklyn cell was finally indicted in 1993, Ali A. Mohamed was not one of the defendants. He wasn’t a witness. Through a tangle of intrigues, negotiations and apparent investigative oversights, Mohamed escaped prosecution until after the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.

“Mohamed escaped prosecution until after the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa” — But Mohamed did escape sentencing. He’s never been sentenced, and he’s not in prison.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew Mohamed intimately. In 1994 he had named him as an unindicted co-conspirator in the New York landmark case, yet allowed him to remain free:

This was because, as Fitzgerald knew, Ali Mohamed was an FBI informant, from at least 1993 and maybe 1989.Thus, from 1994 “until his arrest in 1998 [by which time the 9/11 plot was well under way], Mohamed shuttled between California, Afghanistan, Kenya, Somalia and at least a dozen other countries.”

In 1993 Ali Mohamed had been detained by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Canada, when he inquired at an airport after an incoming al Qaeda terrorist who turned out to be carrying two forged Saudi passports. Mohamed immediately told the RCMP to make a phone call to the United States, and the call secured his release. We’ve since been told that it was Mohamed’s West coast FBI handler, John Zent, “who vouched for Ali and got him released.” This release enabled Ali to go on to Kenya, take pictures of the U.S. Embassy, and deliver them to bin Laden for the Embassy bombing plot.

Fitzgerald and his FBI counterpart on the Bin Laden task force, John Cloonan, learned shortly after 9/11 that Mohamed “knew every twist and turn of” the 9/11 plot. Within days of 9/11 Cloonan rushed backed from Yemen and interviewed Ali, whom the Feds had allowed to slip into witness protection, and demanded to know the details of the plot. At that point Ali wrote it all out – including details of how he’d counseled would-be hijackers on how to smuggle box cutters on board aircraft and where to sit, to affect the airline seizures.

Interestingly this same Patrick Fitzgerald has described Ali Mohamed as “the most dangerous man I’ve ever met”!

Despite all this, for over four years Mohamed moved freely in and out of the United States as an unindicted conspirator. Further, he was allowed to plea-bargain, and was never sentenced for any of his well-established and documented criminal and terrorist activities:

Peter Lance has charged that Fitzgerald had evidence before 1998 to implicate Mohamed in the Kenya Embassy bombing, yet did nothing and let the bombing happen. In fact, the FBI was aware back in 1990 that Mohamed had engaged in terrorist training on Long Island; yet it acted to protect Mohamed from arrest, even after one of his trainees had moved beyond training to an actual assassination.

Since 2002 no one knows what happened to Mohamed and/or where he is, the general belief is that he is in the U.S and has not been sentenced in payment for providing information about Al-Qaeda and their senior hierarchy.

Mohamed’s relationship with the CIA and FBI is wrapped in secrecy. His plea agreement is sealed, as are many of the court documents and much of the testimony:

Mohamed was expected to testify — but did not — at the trial where the four others were convicted. Mohamed and his lawyer have declined all interview requests.”

Since his arrest in 1998, Mohamed has been hidden away in a federal “witness protection” program, with most of his court records sealed. As Benjamin Weiser of the New York Times put it:

Ali Mohamed has been buried “under a cloak of secrecy rarely seen in the public courts.”

In an interview with the National Geographic Channel, Ali Mohamed’s defense attorney makes a very chilling prophecy. “I think the most likely thing that will happen,” says attorney David Ruhnke, “is he’ll be released and he’ll be given a new name, a new identity, and he’ll pick up a life some place.”

“Mohamed has made some kind of deal with the government, that will surely have him out of prison on some date certain that he knows about,” says attorney David Ruhnke.

To recap, the terms of Mohamed’s deal with the government, including not being sentenced, have never been made public. All classified. All secret.

For almost two decades Ali Abdelsaoud Mohamed served Osama bin Laden and his number one lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri as their highest al-Qaeda operative in the United States. During this period Mohamed traveled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, and many other ‘hot-spot’ countries and provided al-Qaeda with top-level intelligence, planned terrorist events, assisted in fundraising, and trained al-Qaeda terrorists – including bin Laden himself.

The most amazing thing about Ali Mohamed is not his linguistic, educational or IQ pedigree, but his story, and his high-level backers within the FBI, CIA and the U.S. Military. He carried out his deadly role as globe-trotting spy master and terrorist while working with, and inside, the very U.S. government organizations that are supposedly at war with terrorists like him: the CIA, the U.S. Army Special Forces, and the FBI. And the fact that he was able, and allowed to, carry out all his terror operations for nearly two decades, in spite of numerous. tip-offs from foreign governments and warnings from personnel within these agencies. The most troubling and important question being:

How is it that this notorious terror operative and facilitator happened to be on the payroll of three U.S. government agencies before, during and after the September 11 attacks? Whether with the Pentagon’s Special Forces, the CIA, or the FBI, wouldn’t, and shouldn’t, he be considered The U.S. Government’s Man? And if that’s the case, whose attack did we suffer on September 11, 2001?

Comment: Previously: Agents of Terror on Government Payroll – Part I: Anwar Al-Awlaki

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