Syrian army starts attacking Turkish military convoy as it illegally enters northern Latakiac – By Leith Aboufadel Al Masdar News (SOTT)

Massive Turkish Army convoy heads to Syrian border

A large Turkish military convoy was seen entering the northern countryside of the Latakia Governorate this afternoon, which is a violation of the Astana agreement.

According to a military report from Latakia, the Turkish military entered the Jabal Al-Akrad region to establish a new observation post.

Turkey is not permitted to enter the Latakia Governorate and they had recently agreed to not enter the province during the Astana Peace Conference.

At the same time, another Turkish military convoy was seen heading towards the southwestern countryside of Idlib, where they are planning to reinforce their observation post in Ishtabraq.

Comment: The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has begun attacking the northern countryside of the Latakia Governorate, following the entrance of the Turkish military into the Jabal Al-Akrad region.

According to a military source in Latakia, the Syrian Army fired several missiles towards the jihadist positions in Jabal Al-Tuffahiyah, scoring several direct hits in the process.

The Turkish military is still present in the Jabal Al-Akrad region, despite the Syrian Army’s latest attack.

 
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Pro-govt Syrian fighters begin entering Kurdish Afrin despite Turkish threats – Syrian TV (VIDEO) – By RT

Pro-govt Syrian fighters begin entering Kurdish Afrin despite Turkish threats – Syrian TV (VIDEO)
A convoy of fighters waving Syrian flags has apparently entered the northern Kurdish-held region of Afrin, which Turkey is targeting in a cross-border operation, footage on Syrian state TV shows.

The pro-government fighters were filmed entering the village of Nubul in some 20 pickup trucks. An RT source on the ground has confirmed the movement of troops to Afrin.

A reporter at the scene for Syrian state agency SANA said that the area where the fighters arrived has already been targeted by an attack from the Turkish side.

 
 

Turkish media later reported that an artillery attack on the convoy forced it to retreat.

The deployment comes after a reported deal between Damascus and Kurdish authorities, which sought the involvement of the central government amid a continued fight against Turkey and the militias supported by Ankara.

READ MORE: Turkey will lay siege to Syria’s Afrin in coming days — Erdogan

Turkish officials earlier warned that their forces would lay siege to the city of Afrin if pro-Damascus fighters show up there.

 
 
Reporting what the mainstream media won’t: Follow RT’s Twitter account

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SYRIAN ARMY TO ENTER AFREEN; GEARING UP FOR WAR; U.S. IN THE CROSSHAIRS – by David Fadel

SYRIANCITIES

Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s able foreign minister, has formally accused the U.S. of supporting Jabhat Al-Nusra (Alqaeda), an organization considered terrorist by every nation on earth except the Zionist Apartheid Entity.  Not only does the UN consider Nusra a terrorist organization, but, also, the American Department of State.  Lavrov stated that it was obvious the U.S. was not willing to fight Nusra in Syria based on their inaction whenever opportunities arose to strike that terrorist group.  Just as the U.S. created Alqaeda, so did the U.S. create Nusra.  Remember some of my old articles about this subject:  Nusra which means “assistance” in Arabic was created by Robert Ford and Bandar bin Sultaan when they realized that the Syrian Army was not falling apart – that there were insufficient deserters to fight the Syrian Arab Army, and, thus, there was a need for assistance.  Nusra is plain and simple Saudi Arabia.  To what extent Muhammad bin Salmaan, the reigning clown prince,  is willing to continue to finance that organization is anybody’s guess at this stage.  Notwithstanding the finance issue, it appears clear that the U.S. is prepared to do all that is necessary to preserve the terrorism in Syria through the offices of Nusra.  This is a shameful day in American history.

The Tiger Division, led by Maj. Gen. Suhayl Al-Hassan, is massing at the borders of the East Ghouta.  I have been informed that the division comprised of over 11,000 soldiers which also fields improved T-72 tanks with Saraab 2 anti missile equipment is preparing for the last push to eradicate Jaysh Al-Islam, Nusra and Faylaq Al-Sham once and for all.  The battle could start at any moment.  I suspect that once Jaysh Al-Islam has been vanquished, General Al-Hassan will be tasked with wiping out Nusra and allied terrorists in Idlib.  How the U.S.will help Nusra will be most indicative of Washington’s dirty hands.

Syria’s vaunted Popular Defense militia is entering ‘Afreen as I write.  The Turks, who have no experienced field commanders, (Erdoghan having jailed or cashiered almost all of them) have threatened to strike Syria’s pro-government militias since, by Turkish logic,  they will be protecting PKK fighters.  This is an interesting development seeing ‘Afreen is Syrian territory.  Now we will see how Russia reacts if Syrian forces are hit by the Turk army.  Of interest also is how Iran, which has a mutual defense pact with Syria, will respond if the Turks trigger the pact.  So far, Iran has been extremely critical of Ankara’s actions in the north of Syria.  We at SyrPer do not believe the Turks have the muscle for a new war to their south.  While we have deep suspicions about the Kurds, they are, after all, Syrian citizens who look to Damascus for help and protection.

It is a virtual certainty that Donald Trump has no idea about what is going on in Syria or Iraq, for that matter.  He is consumed by a narcissistic obsession with how he is perceived globally.  As of today, the CIA is running foreign relations for the United States without any involvement by Rex Tillerson who seems clueless, rudderless, at sea.  These are the same CIA spooks who bet their world on overthrowing Dr. Assad.  They are now back with even more vitriol, pushing a Zionist neo-con agenda despite the radical changes on the ground.

The United States, as I wrote before, is in a fallback position in Syria.  With a large number of special operations soldiers helping the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces, they are especially vulnerable today.  Planning in Moscow and Damascus has shifted substantially from fighting a defeated ISIS to now extirpating U.S. forces from the country.  A lot will depend on Iraq’s cooperation with Damascus.  If the Iraqis deny the U.S. rights to fly over its territory, Washington will have to scrub any agreements with the Kurds in order to use Incirlik in Turkey.  It’s a mess.  The only other alternative, is the Zionist Terrorist State’s airbases which will bring about a potential WWIII or something truly horrible.  The U.S. has cornered itself.  It is trapped between a rock and a hard place with no perceivable way out.  Just as Afghanistan is sucking American energy, so will this latest adventure in Syria.  And it’s just beginning.

________________________________________________
NEWS AND COMMENT:

Mattis appears to be honest. Get this from my friend, Marcos Cruz Garcia:

https://www.mintpressnews.com/us-finally-admits-no-evidence-assad-used-sarin-gas/237615/

John Esq. sent me this great article from Newsweek, of all places, casting doubt about Syrian government’s use of CW:

http://www.newsweek.com/wheres-evidence-assad-used-sarin-gas-his-people-810123

Another fabulous article sent by John Esq. regarding the details of the encounter with the Zionist F-16:

 

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Erdogan Won’t Like It: Netherlands to Recognize 1915 Armenian Genocide – By RT

Rally participants wave Armenian and German flags in front of the Reichstag, the seat of the lower house of parliament Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, June 2, 2016, as they protest in favor of the approval of a symbolic resolution by Germany's parliament declaring the 1915 massacre of Armenians by Ottoman forces a genocide

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On Thursday, the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of the bicameral Netherlands parliament, approved two motions recognizing the atrocity known as the Armenian genocide of 1915.

One of the motions states that Tweede Kamer “recognizes the Armenian genocide,” while the other motion states that the Dutch minister or Dutch Secretary of State will attend an upcoming genocide commemoration in Armenia in April. 

According to ANP, the motions will likely frustrate an already tense relationship between Turkey and the Netherlands particularly as The Hague prohibited Turkish ministers from campaigning in the Netherlands for a previous Ankara referendum that successfully awarded the increasingly autocratic Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, additional executive powers in the country.

Both of motions in the Netherlands were submitted by Christin Union parliamentarian Joel Voordewind. All four coalition parties in the Netherlands are in support of the motions.

“We cannot deny history out of fear of sanctions. Our country houses the capital of international law after all, so we must not be afraid to do the right thing here too,” Dutch politician Joël Voordewind said Friday. 

In 1915, hundreds of thousands of Armenians, including women and children, were murdered by the Ottoman Empire, the precursor nation to modern-day Turkey. According to Ankara, the genocide was not premeditated, as the Turkish government continues to mount claims that Armenians were a danger because they were fighting alongside Russia, an enemy at the time.

As a result, whenever countries, blocs, organizations or prominent global citizens recognize the Armenian genocide, Ankara cries foul.

According to RTL Nieuws, when Germany officially recognized the Armenian genocide, there were what are now considered to be state-sponsored protests in Turkey.

Pope Francis, the current leader of the Catholic church, recently referred to the 1915 Armenian genocide as the first large-scale massacre of the 20th century, The event resulted in a souring of the relationship between Ankara and the Vatican.

Erdogan: Turkey’s Syria op will move to Idlib after mission completed in Afrin – By RT

Erdogan: Turkey’s Syria op will move to Idlib after mission completed in Afrin
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to take Ankara’s Syria operation to Idlib after completing the current mission in Afrin, where they are targeting Kurdish militants.

We want our Syrian brothers and sisters to return to their land, and now we want to do the same in Idlib what we have done in Afrin,” Erdogan said.

It’s not the first time the Turkish leader has stated that the campaign against Kurdish militia in Syria could actually spread beyond Afrin.

Our heroic soldiers…are making history today in Afrin. And they will make history tomorrow wherever there are terrorists along our borders,” the Turkish President said late last month. 

On January 20, the Turkish General Staff officially declared the start of the military campaign in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region, calling it ‘Operation Olive Branch’. Ankara launched airstrikes against Kurdish positions, with Turkish troops advancing into the Kurd-held territories. The Turkish armed forces are supported by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – an Ankara-backed paramilitary opposition group which consists mainly of Syrian Arab and Syrian Turkmen groups, which hold the territories in Afrin.

The Turkish General Staff said last week that as many as 899 fighters of the Syrian Kurdish militias – which they said included the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and Islamic State (IS, former ISIS) terrorists – were “neutralized” since the launch of Operation Olive Branch.

Formed as an armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, the YPG rapidly expanded during the Syrian civil war. The group also fought against IS and received backing from the US-led coalition, which supplied them with weapons.

Such US support has greatly contributed to ongoing hostilities in the Afrin region, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

“The US backing of their ‘clients’ in violation of Washington’s statements in support of the Syrian Arab Republic’s territorial integrity have led to the escalation in the Afrin region, where there are no government troops at all at the moment,” the Ministry said.

In a telephone conversation earlier on Thursday, Erdogan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the situation in Syria. They agreed to hold another three-way summit on Syria with Russia, Turkey and Iran; a source in Erdogan’s administration said. The event is expected to take place in Istanbul.

Erdogan and Putin have also discussed the need to expedite the establishment of observation posts in the de-escalation zone of Idlib governorate, Turkish media report.  

In early October, Turkish military forces were deployed to Idlib province to monitor one of four de-escalations zones located there. The proposal to establish the zones, championed by Russia, was finalized in September at a round of Syrian peace talks in Astana.

The first three-way summit between the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran, which was aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria, took place in the southern Russian resort of Sochi in November.

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Will Washington’s Syria Chess Game Lead to War with NATO Ally Turkey? America’s current Syria strategy opens up the door for a war with Turkey and a potential war with Iran and Syria. – By Darius Shahtahmasebi

 Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and Turkish troops secure the Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Jan. 28, 2018. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (Analysis) — It’s not clear if the United States knows what it is doing in Syria anymore. Having successfully toppled the Libyan government in 2011, former President Barack Obama subsequently spent a good three years attempting to bring about the fall of the Syrian government, under the guise of humanitarianism, that embroiled the region in chaos and civil strife. Incessant calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to formally step down, combined with the billions of dollars in arms and funding for radical Sunni jihadists who sowed the seeds of sectarianism and a bloody civil war in order to divide and conquer Syria, plagued Obama’s foreign policy for years. And let’s not forget the extensive strike plan Obama drew up in 2013, which would have almost certainly extinguished Assad’s presidency.

Unfortunately for the establishment, Obama’s strike plan didn’t have the approval of America’s warmongering partner in crime, the United Kingdom; and was strongly opposed by Russia. Most importantly, there was significant disapproval among the general public and military, and the U.S. knew it would never garner the support needed to carry out such an intervention.

Then in 2014, the U.S. military found backdoor access by riding the international outrage and horror provoked by the radical group ISIS, which had attained huge swaths of territory in both Iraq and Syria. Anyone who had been paying attention knew deep-down that the focus on ISIS was essentially just a façade to pave the way for the U.S. military to take on Assad directly — though this scenario proved much harder than expected, after Russia’s formal intervention in 2015. With Russia backing the Syrian government directly, there was little the U.S. could do but direct most of its energy towards ISIS, with some minor, albeit noticeable, exceptions.

And then came Donald Trump, the alleged Russian stooge and lackey, who was going to focus on making America great again and who had proposed instead to work with Assad and Russia. Whether or not Trump has any say in the matter is unclear, but it became quickly apparent that the war-hawks in his administration are just as schizophrenic as their predecessors.

 

Working through the plan alphabet and back around to Plan A

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, right, waves after speaking to the Hoover Institution at Stanford University with former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, left, Jan. 17, 2018. Tillerson signaled the U.S. military will remain in Syria for the foreseeable future. (AP/Jeff Chiu)

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson initially maintained that Assad had to leave, but then appeared to change his mind. Trump’s ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, only added to the confusion. Barely days after this flip-flop, a chemical weapons attack in April last year immediately brought us back to another strike plan on the Syrian government; and the go-to mantra ever since appears to renew the longstanding call for Assad’s departure.


Read more by Darius Shahtahmasebi


But why did the U.S. want to remove Assad so badly that it justified manufacturing an entire bombing campaign against another force? There are many competing theories, but Assad as a stalwart Iranian and Russian ally poses a major threat to the U.S. empire, as well as to adversarial states such as Israel and Saudi Arabia.

In 2009, Qatar put forward a proposal to run a pipeline through Syria and Turkey and into Europe to export gas from Saudi Arabia. The Assad government instead forged an agreement with Iran and Iraq to run a pipeline into Europe — leaving out Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey completely. If these kinds of deals can be arranged under the cover of Russian air power, the United States risks losing out much of the region and its spoils to Russia and Iran.

Now that ISIS has been successfully (more or less) “defeated,” the U.S. is openly staying in Syria indefinitely to counter both Assad and Iran’s alleged expanding influence. Tillerson put it bluntly in mid-January this year:

Continued strategic threats to the U.S. other than ISIS persist. I am referring principally to Iran. Iran has dramatically strengthened its presence in Syria by deploying Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops; supporting Lebanese Hezbollah; and importing proxy forces from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. Through its position in Syria, Iran is in a stronger position to extend its track record of attacking U.S. interests, allies and personnel in the region.”

“Syria remains a source of severe strategic problems and a major challenge for our diplomacy,” Tillerson added. “But the United States will continue to remain engaged.”

 

The U.S.-Turkey debacle

Turkish troops take control of Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Jan. 28, 2018. (DHA-Depo Photos via AP)

As reports began to emerge of Washington’s plan to build a 30,000-strong Kurdish and Arab force on Turkey’s border in Syria, it became quite clear that Turkey itself was days away from invading Syria directly. To no one’s great surprise, the Turkish military intervened in the days that followed, most notably in the city of Afrin, before announcing it would extend its operations right up to the border with Iraq.

The U.S. surely knew this would happen, yet continued to antagonize both parties to the fullest extent possible. Neither the U.S. nor Turkey has the legal basis to conduct military operations in Syria, yet the two of them believe they have the right to call the shots as to the best way of handling the situation. First, Turkey urged the U.S. to leave the area of Manbij because that is where the Turks have set their sights, getting closer to the border with Iraq. A top U.S. general immediately responded by saying the U.S. had no intention of leaving Manbij at all, further aggravating the situation.

The only consistent strategy employed by the U.S. that can be ascertained (to a point) is that of maximizing the chaos in Syria. Even as we speak, Russia has begun a peace process of its own in Sochi. Why did the U.S. decide to announce its unlimited troop presence in Syria days before the peace talks were to commence; and do they genuinely believe their presence in Syria contributes to any meaningful peace for that country?

Just as disturbing is America’s unrivaled ability to commit itself to wars left, right and center without any domestic democratic accountability or approval from the international community. As The New York Times notes, this new Syria strategy is “illegal under both the Constitution and international law.” It was illegal when Barack Obama began a covert war of aggression to topple the Syrian government as far back as 2011; it was illegal right up until he began bombing Syrian territory in 2014; and everything the United States has done right through the Trump administration until today is equally illegal.

The Times’ assessment that allows for the U.S. to be in Syria solely to defeat ISIS is questionable at best; but it proves one thing: not even the warmongering mainstream media can put a positive legal spin on the plan to stay in Syria to confront Assad and Iran: because there is no legal basis to do so.

As it stands, the U.S.’ strategy in Syria is beginning to make less sense by the day. Turkey, a longstanding opponent of the Assad government, now might be working to establish a formal dialogue with Assad himself, to counter what it deems to be the principal threat: the U.S.-backed Kurds.

According to Robert Fisk, reporting from on the ground in Syria, the city of Afrin hasn’t even been bombed by Turkey yet, while Turkey has been continuously threatening a grand offensive to retake the city. That’s because it’s Russia, not the U.S., that controls the airspace over the city of Afrin, and any incursion into Afrin would most likely need Russian approval. By Fisk’s research, if Turkey’s army wanted to take Afrin, it could do so in less than half an hour. So far, there have been signs of violence around Afrin, but not in Afrin itself. Indications are that Turkey is relying on its newfound proxy force instead, in the hopes of re-establishing a sizeable anti-Assad force of its own — one that can continue to fight for Turkey’s interests without compromising its position on the Kurdish question.

There’s a reason that Turkey is arresting journalists and critics of the invasion by the hundreds even as I type. With Western media relying on state-approved Turkish correspondents without the capacity for dissent, it is unlikely that those of us on the outside are getting the full picture. Fisk is most likely the only journalist on the ground who won’t be simply echoing Erdogan’s narrative, and already he has alleged that Turkey is conducting outright civilian massacres, not “surgical” strikes on “terrorists.”

Turkey is a member of NATO. It has invaded Syria just as the U.S. has, but with what appear to be polar-opposite interests.

According to Haaretz, the real reason Turkey is involving itself in the region is not to stop an independent Kurdish state, but to stop Assad from incorporating the current Kurdish political infrastructure into his own future Syrian state. Haaretz explains:

Russia knows the survival of Assad’s regime and his control of the entire country depends to a large extent on his ability to assimilate the Kurdish districts into Syria, with the ideal scenario being one that allows the Kurds to run their federation as part of the Syrian state under Assad’s rule. The United States also sees the Kurdish federal system in Syria and the principles of the Kurdish constitution as being no less worthy of defending than the Kurdish region in Iraq.”

The media won’t admit it outright, but this too is a dealbreaker for the U.S., and hanging the Kurds out to dry and drawing Turkey into a direct confrontation might be the principal way in which the U.S. can continue to dismantle any hopes for a unified Syria in the not-too-distant future.

 

Where are we headed?

A U.S.-backed anti-government fighter mans a heavy automatic machine gun, left, next to an American soldier as they take their positions at Tanf, a border crossing between Syria and Iraq (Hammurabi’s Justice News/AP)

Clearly, Washington’s distaste for Assad lies in his geopolitical proximity to Iran and Russia. This should be no secret, as the U.S. has maintained its view of both countries as American arch-rivals right through the previous administrations.

As The Washington Post noted just days ago, the U.S. has finally admitted its true intention in Syria:

After months of incoherence, the Trump administration has taken a step toward a clear policy on Syria and its civil war. In a speech last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson bluntly recognized a truth that both President Trump and President Barack Obama attempted to dodge: that ‘it is crucial to our national defense to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in Syria, to help bring an end to that conflict, and assist the Syrian people . . . to achieve a new political future.’

To do that, the United States will continue to deploy several thousand personnel in the country and help allied Syrian forces maintain control over enclaves in the southwest, near Israel and Jordan, and the northeast, on the border with Iraq and Turkey.” [emphasis added]

Yet as long as Russia maintains a military presence in Syria, with the capability of establishing a no-fly zone of its own in much of the country, there is little the U.S. can do regarding Assad without taking on Russia directly. In the meantime, however, it clearly can do its utmost to put a dent in Iran’s expanding influence. By allowing its proxy forces to take over the strategic areas of al-Tanf and parts of Deir ez-Zor, the United States will put a major hole in Iran’s ability to link itself to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as directly as it otherwise could. This bridge of Iran-allied nations, known as the Shia Crescent, is Saudi Arabia’s worst nightmare.

In that context, however, the current stand-off will remain a stalemate for some time, as Iranian-backed troops will continue to render America’s military bases all but useless — as they have more or less taken control of the areas that surround the bases, cutting the U.S. military off from using the bases effectively.

Whether or not the U.S. is prepared to launch a direct strike on these forces and go further than merely cutting them off is unclear, but it seems unlikely at this stage. Given that the U.S. knows Israel is itching to bomb Syria and Lebanon to confront Iran’s growing military presence, it seems more likely that the U.S. will instead rely on Israel to kickstart such a war. At the same time, Washington can continue to rely on its proxy forces to take on the so-called Iranian threat, without fighting Iran directly.

Either way, America’s schizophrenic approach to the conflict and its desire to prolong the war as long as possible does nothing to ease the suffering of ordinary Syrians. It should be clear that the U.S. has no desire to bring peace to Syria, as it continues to violate international law and aggravate other major players in the region, all of whom have conflicting and contradictory visions for the future of Syria.

America’s current Syria strategy opens up the door for a war with Turkey and a potential war with Iran and Syria. All the while the U.S. loses its status as the so-called global leader, with Russia emerging unscathed from the conflict as the region’s major power broker.

The corporate media would do well to follow the footsteps of The New York Times and call this strategy what it is: illegal — not to mention chaotic and maniacal. There is no happy ending to this story; but the least Washington could do is allow Syria to resolve its problems on its own, without further igniting a regional bloodbath.

Top Photo | Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and Turkish troops secure the Bursayah hill, which separates the Kurdish-held enclave of Afrin from the Turkey-controlled town of Azaz, Syria, Jan. 28, 2018. (AP Photo)

Darius Shahtahmasebi is a practicing attorney with an interest in human rights, international law, and journalism. He is a graduate of the University of Otago, where he obtained degrees in Law and Japanese. Follow him on Twitter at @TVsLeaking.

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Neocons are beating the drums of war and demand ‘action’ in Syria – By Moon of Alabama (SOTT)

war in syria

The U.S. polity and media now acknowledge what we reported on December 21. The U.S. announcement to build up a 30,000 strong PKK army in north-east Syria was a disaster. It prompted Turkey to initiate its attack on YPG/PKK Kurds in Afrin. It threatens do drive it out of NATO and into Russia’s open arms. It gives the Syrian government new leverage against the Syrian Kurds.

Under Turkish threats to attack U.S. forces in Syria the Trump administration had to pull back – at least in its rhetoric. Independent of who rules Turkey the country will never acquiesce to an armed Kurdish entity on its southern border. The U.S. should have know this.

This failure of the Trump administration’s plan has prompted a new push from neoconservative propagandists for a full U.S. war on Syria and its allies. The lobby shop of the Kagan family, the Institute For The Study of War, had its junior staff pen an op-ed for Foxnews to argue for a new study object:

It’s time for Trump to face reality in Syria

The U.S. must rapidly change how it is executing policy in five key areas.

  1. Russian military bases. …
  2. Acceptance of Bashar al-Assad. …
  3. Syrian “de-escalation.” …
  4. The “peace” process. …
  5. Iran and al Qaeda. …

The hinted at solutions, couched in vague language, are for 1. nuke them, 2. kill him, 3. stop it, 4. who cares, 5. destroy ’em all:

The U.S. must face reality in Syria. It must recognize the threat Russia poses. It must acknowledge the limits of its current partners on the ground. It cannot put faith in a diplomatic charade. It must implement a real strategy against al Qaeda and Iran. And it must recognize the value of American action over American rhetoric.

It will take a long time and a hard struggle to achieve any outcome in Syria that the U.S. should be willing to live with. It is time to focus on it, devote resources to it, and prepare to do so for a long time.

“For a long time” sounds to me like a multi decade occupation of the Syrian battlefield and the adjacent areas. I doubt that any politician who wants to be reelected will vote for that.

A second neocon op-ed, this by Josh Rogin, was posted at Jeff Bezos’ blog: Team Trump must match its new rhetoric on Syria with action.

It is not useful to quote the nonsense but here are some of the rhetoric figures it uses:

… the will and leverage needed to lead a solution to the Syrian crisis – defend U.S. interests – confronting the ongoing terrorist threat – Iranian expansion – Bashar al-Assad’s brutal aggression – on-the-ground influence – herculean effort – a contingent that wants to cut and run – a real plan – fundamental flaw – a lack of sufficient leverage on the ground …

After having set the scene for a massive U.S. occupation of Syria, Rogin claims that “nobody is advocating” a “large increase in U.S. troops”. His advice then is to do more of the stuff that evidently just failed: stick to the Kurds, pay some Arab tribes (aka former ISIS), arm rebels (aka al-Qaeda) in Idleb. But then comes the real blopper:

the Trump administration should raise the pressure on Assad, Russia and Iran, including through sanctions, the credible threat of U.S. force and whatever else might persuade them.

Now what please is a “credible threat of U.S. force” against those three countries? And might they have the capability to credibly threat back? Who will win the thermonuclear war over the Tanf desert base in south-east Syria?

A year into Trump’s presidency, his administration is saying the United States has a long-term interest in Syria. The next step is to match those words with action.

I have no doubt that the two op-eds were coordinated. More of this kind will likely come. The common theme is “action” and – while not openly said – they demand a larger U.S. war over Syria. The unmentioned beneficiary of such a war, next to the weapon producing financiers of those writers, would be Israel and Saudi Arabia.

The neoconservative writers and their op-eds should be ignored. But the war on Iraq has shown that there is some serious political power behind them. Now someone in the White House will have to pick up those arguments and try to convince Trump with them. Who will that be and will s/he be successful?

US troops must leave Syria’s Manbij – Turkey’s Foreign Minister – By RT

US troops must leave Syria’s Manbij – Turkey’s Foreign Minister
The US must withdraw its troops from Syria’s northern Manbij region and put an end to its support for Kurdish militia in the area, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu demanded Saturday.

Cavusoglu told reporters on Saturday that the US needs to immediately withdraw from the region near the city of Manbij, adding that Washington providing guns to the YPG must also stop. The foreign minister said Turkey wants to see proactive steps from the US, not simply promises.

Turkish forces are conducting an offensive, codenamed ‘Olive Branch’, targeting Kurdish fighters linked to the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in and around Afrin, Syria. Russia has expressed concern over the developments, urging all parties to respect Syria’s borders.

Turkey’s operation has frayed relations between the Trump administration and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office over the US provision of weapons and support to Kurdish forces in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

READ MORE: Turkey’s Erdogan says will rid Syria’s Manbij of terrorists after Afrin op

The minister’s call on the US to remove its support for Kurdish fighters came after Erdogan warned that Turkish forces plan to move beyond Afrin to the Syrian city of Manbij. US soldiers are currently stationed there, supporting Kurdish YPG militias. Last Thursday, Trump reportedly raised concerns about Turkey’s actions in a call to Erdogan, suggesting ‘Olive Branch’ is a destabilizing move.

“President Trump relayed concerns that escalating violence in Afrin, Syria, risks undercutting [sic] our shared goals in Syria,” a White House spokesperson said. “He urged Turkey to exercise caution and to avoid any actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces.”

Turkey’s incursion into Syria has been documented through the Instagram accounts of their own soldiers. RT.com found that the number of geotagged Instagram posts has risen sharply during the time Turkish troops have been there.

 
Reporting what the mainstream media won’t: Follow RT’s Twitter account

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/
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Syrian war updates: U.S./YPG move on Taqba dam may complicate political situation in Syria – By Moon of Alabama

Turkey is at a dead end in Syria. Erdogan’s dream of going on to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor or even Aleppo city has been blocked by an agreement between the U.S. and Russia. His proxy forces are stuck north-east of Aleppo city and have no way to go further south, east or west. They conquered a piece of rural land that gives Erdogan no negotiation leverage but potentially a lot of headaches. A small Russian contingent has moved into the Kurdish enclave in north-west Syria around Afrin blocking any serious Turkish move against that area.

Turkey and its paymasters in Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have lost the fight over Syria. Still tacitly backed by the U.S. they are currently trying a Hail-Mary pass to again achieve some negotiation power for the next round of Geneva talks. This is likely to again fail. Their proxy forces in the northwest, including al-Qaeda, moved from the north towards the city of Hama (see map, red=Syrian government). Over the last days they captured 11 small villages which were only lightly defended. The Russian and Syrian airforce are now devastating them and a counter-attack by the Syrian army is prepared and will soon throw them back.

© Islamic World News

Coordinated with the Hama attack was an attempt to capture ground on the eastern periphery of Damascus and in the south around Deraa. The Damascus attack has run its cause. No ground was taken and held by the Takfiris and the counterattack against them is advancing. The attack in Deraa failed to break the Syrian army defense lines.

The head of the “White Helmet” propaganda gang in south Deraa was killed in an IED attack by al-Qaeda-aligned forces. He was no Samaritan. He also commanded the 18 March Division, part of the foreign-paid insurgency against the Syrian state.

The large Syrian army move on Idleb governate to liberate it from the Takfiris is still in preparation. No date has been set for its launch.

East of Aleppo city the Syrian army had blocked all Turkish proxy advances. It continued south to retake the countryside from the Islamic State and is making good progress. The biggest city in the area, Deir Hafar, was nearly surrounded today by the Syrian army when the Islamic State fighters suddenly moved out. It is now back in government hands. The Syrian army in the area will continue to move south and south-east towards Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.

The U.S. proxy force in north-east Syria, the Kurdish anarcho-marxists of the PKK/YPK, have advanced on Raqqa. Raqqa lies slightly north of the Euphrates. The only way south and west from Raqqa that was left open was across the Tabqa dam that dams up the Euphrates and creates the Assad lake.

© Syrian Generation

Yesterday the U.S. and its proxy forces started a surprise attack to take the dam (map). Helicopters transported YPG fighters to the south of the Euphrates and improvised ferries (vid) carried their heavy equipment across the lake. Apache helicopters and heavy U.S. artillery covered the move. They blocked the road between Raqqa towards Aleppo in the west and they are now moving towards Tabqa city directly south of the dam. At the same time a YPG/PPK force is moving from the north towards the dam. There is some fear that Islamic State fighters could blow up the dam but the first to drown in the following flood would be all Isis fighters and their families in Raqqa and beyond.

In areas further south and east there is some fighting between the Syrian army and ISIS groups around Palmyra and in Deir Ezzor. The situations there seem mostly stable with slight advances by the Syrian government forces.

Israel recently made some splash by bombing Syrian government forces near Palmyra. This was against certain parameters the Russian and Israeli governments had agreed upon. While Russia will not hinder Israeli attacks on Hizbullah weapon transports going to Lebanon it will interdict should Israel (again) hit any forces in Syria fighting ISIS or other Jihadis. Israel was warned off by a Syrian anti-air missile launch. Loud noise was made thereafter by the Netanyahoo government in Tel Aviv. But that is mere domestic grandstanding. Netanyahoo is under criminal investigation and is fighting for his political life.

It is still unclear how the Trump administration plans to proceed on Syria. The move south of the Euphrates may block the Syrian government forces from moving further east towards the enclave in Deir Ezzor which is still under siege by ISIS. But the Euphrates crossing may also be a purely military move without a political intent to simply to enable the taking of the Tabqa dam. As a military move it makes completely sense. If this is a political move it may well complicate the already confusing situation.

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