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“Stronghold Of Evil” – Russia Slams America’s Illegal Syrian Occupation

On Tuesday a top Russian military official slammed the United States for “illegally occupying” a massive zone in southwest Syriasurrounding the American garrison of al-Tanf, effectively protecting some 6,000 armed militants that Russia has designated terrorists.

The Head of Russia’s National Defense Control Center, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, called the US-occupied area “the last stronghold of evil” which continues to fester with militants “on the territory of the independent state”. He identified a 55 km zone surrounding the base in a desert region along the Syrian-Iraq border, which American special forces and US-backed FSA groups have held since 2016 after taking the key crossing from ISIS.

American base in Syria

“Perhaps, only our American partners do not want to see up to date how much has been done to revive peaceful life in Syria. They are holding with incomprehensible stubbornness the occupied 55 km area around al-Tanf where 6,000 armed militants are on the loose and are preventing the disbanding of the Rukban refugee camp,” the general said at a Syrian-Russian inter-departmental coordination headquarters, according to TASS.

The Rukban camp falls withing the US-occupied perimeter and is home to between 50,000 and 60,000 refugees stuck near the desolate Jordanian and Iraqi frontier, especially after Jordan closed its side of the border in 2016. Russia has accused US forces of preventing humanitarian aid from reaching the camp, except through the mediation of armed groups operating in the area, with some militants based in the camp itself.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry asked previously this week: “Why do the US’ partners insist on joining the militants from illegal armed groups to render humanitarian aid and not give their consent to real assistance to those in need in Rukhan?” 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The BBC Has Legal Protection to Spread Fake News: the Curious Case of ISIS, Andrew Neil and Jeremy Corbyn

The BBC Has Legal Protection to Spread Fake News: the Curious Case of ISIS, Andrew Neil and Jeremy Corbyn

Photo Source Edwardx | CC BY 2.0

The BBC spreads fake news. We all know that. From the uncritical parroting of the British government’s Iraqi weapons of mass destruction claims to the unchallenged lies spouted by war-mongering politicians, that Libya’s dictator (who was armed and trained by Britain, incidentally) was going to commit a “bloody massacre” in Libya’s Benghazi region. (A postwar British government report confirmed that the “ethnic cleansing” claim was based on what they cautiously called poor intelligence. The cruel irony is that after the BBC helped whip up support for the invasion, it reported on a real ethnic cleansing of black Libyans committed by the Islamist terrorists organized by the US and Britain to topple Gaddafi.)

But what if the BBC had legal protection to tell and spread lies? As I document in my book Real Fake News, the answer to a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that, as an arts, literature, and news organization, the BBC has no legal obligation to give its audience any information about its sources. Often, journalists cannot and should not name their sources, for obvious reasons; the main one being that no one will tell them anything in confidence ever again. However, when general claims that contradict the customary understanding of things are made, and without supporting evidence, it’s only fair to ask where the person making the claim obtained their information.

ISLAMIC STATE IN IRAQ BEFORE 2003? GET OUTTA HERE!

During an interview with the antiwar leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, BBC presenter Andrew Neil claimed that ISIS existed in Iraq beforethe 2003 invasion by the US and Britain. Corbyn stated, in gentle terms, that US-British foreign policy had smashed up Iraq and Libya.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Are We Siding With al-Qaeda?

Why Are We Siding With al-Qaeda?

Last week, I urged the Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to stop protecting al-Qaeda in Syria by demanding that the Syrian government leave Idlib under al-Qaeda control. While it may seem hard to believe that the US government is helping al-Qaeda in Syria, it’s not as strange as it may seem: our interventionist foreign policy increasingly requires Washington to partner up with “bad guys” in pursuit of its dangerous and aggressive foreign policy goals.

Does the Trump Administration actually support al-Qaeda and ISIS? Of course not. But the “experts” who run Trump’s foreign policy have determined that a de facto alliance with these two extremist groups is for the time being necessary to facilitate the more long-term goals in the Middle East. And what are those goals? Regime change for Iran.

Let’s have a look at the areas where the US is turning a blind eye to al-Qaeda and ISIS.

First, Idlib. As I mentioned last week, President Trump’s own Special Envoy to fight ISIS said just last year that “Idlib Province is the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11.” So why do so many US officials – including President Trump himself – keep warning the Syrian government not to re-take its own territory from al-Qaeda control? Wouldn’t they be doing us a favor by ridding the area of al-Qaeda? Well, if Idlib is re-taken by Assad, it all but ends the neocon (and Saudi and Israeli) dream of “regime change” for Syria and a black eye to Syria’s ally, Iran.

Second, one of the last groups of ISIS fighters in Syria are around the Al-Tanf US military base which has operated illegally in northeastern Syria for the past two years.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How the U.S. Does Propaganda

How the U.S. Does Propaganda

A typical example was on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Saturday,” on September 8th, when the program-host Scott Simon interviewed the Obama Administration’s diplomat Robert Malley, in a segment titled “What’s Next In The Syrian War: Idlib”.

Simon’s introduction said: “After this weekend, the last contested region of Syria may come under ferocious attack. After more than seven years of fighting, the end of the Syrian war may come down to Idlib province. … It holds more than 3 million people, many of whom have been displaced. It’s been essentially a kind of dumping ground for those opposed to Bashar al-Assad’s regime and ISIS.”

Actually, there’s a factual problem with Simon’s lead-in there. Though I have seen official estimates of the population of Idlib ranging from 1.5 million to 3 million, I haven’t seen any of “more than 3 million people.” Mr. Simon is always happy to please his CIA minders, and might simply have gotten carried away in this interview.

Furthermore, Simon’s lumping “Bashar al-Assad’s regime and ISIS” together was striking, because ISIS has actually been one of the major forces in Syria working to overthrow “Assad’s regime”; and, “Assad’s regime” was elected in 2014 and has been shown by repeated polling done since then by the British firm of Orb International to retain more support amongst the Syrian public than does anyone else to serve as that nation’s leader. Polls taken in the U.S. today show that more of the public wish that Bernie Sanders were our President than that Donald Trump is; and, so, if Syria is a “regime” instead of a “government,” then the U.S. is even more of a regime than is Syria. (And the scientific evidence is consistent that the U.S. is more of a “regime” than a “democracy.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

An Iranian Viewpoint on the Battle for Syria

An Iranian Viewpoint on the Battle for Syria

A new feature from Iran gives a totally different perspective of the war raging in Syria than Western audiences are used to, explains Rick Sterling.


West against East on the Syrian battle-field, in the newspapers and now on film: A new, full-length action movie, titled “Damascus Time,” gives an Iranian perspective on the battle against ISIS in Syria.

The movie comes from Iranian screenwriter and film director Ebrahim Hatamikia. Two award-winning Iranian actors, Hadi Hejazifar and Babak Hamidian, play father and son pilots trying to rescue civilians besieged and attacked by ISIS forces in eastern Syria. The pilots have come to help the townspeople escape in an aging Ilyushin cargo plane.

Syrian and Iraqi actors play Syrian civilians and ISIS terrorists hell bent on blowing up the plane or using it on a suicide mission against Damascus.

Still from “Damascus Time”

The movie portrays sensational scenes from real ISIS atrocities with a backdrop showing the Syrian desert and famous ruins of Palmyra. The city where civilians are surrounded and besieged is similar to the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, which was surrounded and attacked by ISIS for years. During that time, the townspeople and soldiers depended on air-dropped food and ammunition to hold off the attackers, as shown in the movie.

“Damascus Time”’s starkly sensational scenes are drawn from real ISIS atrocities. The jihadists display a human side, but they are wrapped in sectarianism, hate and violence.

Life’s complexities are demonstrated in the younger of the two Iranian pilots who has left his pregnant wife to be with his father. The mother-in-law of the young pilot bitterly criticizes him for leaving his wife. He tells her it will be his last trip.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Perpetual Business Of War

Perpetual Business Of War

Trump Seeks Congressional Funding for 60,000-Man Army to Overthrow Assad

Trump Seeks Congressional Funding for 60,000-Man Army to Overthrow Assad

ISIS, or ISIL, or Islamic State, has been almost completely defeated in Syria, but the U.S. Department of Defense is requesting an increase instead of a decrease in funding to support “Vetted Syrian Opposition,” or fighters in Syria against Syria’s Government, and it refers to these fighters as being part of America’s “strategy to defeat ISIS,” instead of as being what they now obviously are: fighters for regime-change, or to overthrow Syria’s Government (which is headed by its President Bashar al-Assad, who received 89% of the votes cast throughout Syria in the internationally monitored 2014 Presidential election).

The Trump Administration’s “Department of Defense Budget Fiscal Year (FY) 2019” funding-request to Congress calls for “III. Requirements in Syria” of: 

a Coalition campaign to degrade, dismantle, and ultimately defeat ISIS in Syria. One key element of DoD’s strategy to defeat ISIS is to train, equip, sustain, and enable elements of the Vetted Syrian Opposition (VSO) eligible for support under current law. By the end of FY 2018, these forces are projected to total approximately 60,000 to 65,000; 30,000 to conduct ongoing combat missions against ISIS in the MERV, and 35,000 Internal Security Forces in liberated areas (to provide approximately 20 police/security forces for every 1,000 civilians).

Here is the:

SUMMARY

The FY 2019 request fully funds the Syria T[rain]&E[quip/arm] program based on requirements to sustain a 35,000 Internal Security Force together with a 30,000 combat personnel partner forces (as required) to liberate, secure, and defend territory previously controlled by ISIS [but now no longer ISIS-controlled]. The following is a summary of the requirements in Syria by category:

Category FY 2018 Request FY 2019 Request ($ in Millions) [FY2018, then FY2019]

Weapons, Ammunition, Vehicles and Other Equipment $393.3 $162.5

Basic Life Support $6.1 $8.0

Transportation and Staging $40.0 $28.0

Operational Sustainment $60.6 $101.5

TOTAL $500.0 $300.0

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US-Led Coalition Warplanes Strike Syrian Regime Forces

The last time the US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Syria conducted air and artillery strikes against pro-regime forces in Syria, in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, was on Feb. 7, when hundreds of pro-regime fighters were killed, the largest number of “pro-regime” casualties inflicted by the US-led coalition in one attack. The coalition described its action as carried out in “self defense”, while the Syrian state news agency SANA described the action as an “aggression” by the coalition against “popular forces” who were fighting ISIS and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

In a bombshell update one week later, it was revealed that among the casualties were hundreds of Russian mercenaries working on behalf of the Assad regime, and hired by the Wagner PMC (Private Military Group) – a shadowy organization often referred to as Russia’s answer to Blackwater. Adding to the mystery, is that the Wagner Group is believed to be funded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a rich businessman close to President Vladimir Putin and also known as “Putin’s Chef.” Prigozhin was recently sanctioned by the US due to his links to the eastern Ukraine separatists.

A November 2011 photo shows Yevgeny Prigozhin assisting Vladimir Putin at a banquet near Moscow

Unnamed US intelligence sources quoted by the Washington Post said Prigozhin was in close contact with the Kremlin in the run-up to the Feb 7 assault on the Syrian Democratic Forces base in Deir Ezzor region.

According to the unconfirmed report, intercepted communications showed that Prigozhin was also involved in the operational planning with Syrian officials, ahead of the attack.

Meanwhile, amid unconfirmed reports that more than 100 Russians had been killed, the Kremlin denied that any regular Russian military forces had been involved. It admitted only that there had been “several dozen” Russian casualties, but gave no further details.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Globally Top-Respected Experts on Middle East Warn Syrian War May Produce WW III

Globally Top-Respected Experts on Middle East Warn Syrian War May Produce WW III

Abdel Bari Atwan, the retired editor-in-chief (1989-2013) of the pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi and author of widely respected books on the Middle East, headlined on February 18th, “A superpower confrontation could be triggered by accident in Syria” and he opened:

Qatar’s plans to build a gas pipeline to the Mediterranean were a major cause of the outbreak of the Syrian civil war. Seven years on, Syria’s oil and gas reserves east of the Euphrates, and especially around Deir az-Zour, have the potential to trigger World War III.

Four military aircraft were downed over Syria in the course of one week: an Israel F-16 shot down by a Russian-made Syrian missile; a Russian jet hit by an American-made shoulder-fired MANPADS; an Iranian pilotless drone intercepted by Israeli missiles; and a Turkish helicopter brought down in the countryside of Afrin by US-backed Kurdish fighters.

Warplanes from at least six countries crowd Syria’s airspace, including those of the American and Russian superpowers, while numerous proxy wars rage on the ground below involving Arab, regional and international parties.

Atwan goes on to note the reason why the war has ratcheted up after Donald Trump became America’s President:

The US has made clear that it has no intention of withdrawing its 2,000 military personnel from Syria even after the expiry of the original pretext for deploying them, namely to fight the Islamic State (IS) group. Administration officials have repeatedly affirmed that these forces will remain indefinitely in order to counter Iranian influence in the country.

Trump has abandoned former U.S. President Barack Obama’s excuse for invading Syria, and replaced it by what is now clearly an American hot war against Iran, which indisputably has become the U.S. President’s target — no longer (even if only as an excuse) ISIS or “radical Islamic terrorism.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will Washington’s Chess Game in Syria Lead to War With NATO Ally Turkey?

Will Washington’s Chess Game in Syria Lead to War With NATO Ally Turkey?

(MPN) — 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.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A US-Turkish Clash in Syria?

A US-Turkish Clash in Syria?

A US-Turkish Clash in Syria?

 

The war for dominance in the Middle East, following the crushing of ISIS, appears about to commence in Syria — with NATO allies America and Turkey on opposing sides.

Turkey is moving armor and troops south to Syria’s border enclave of Afrin, occupied by Kurds, to drive them out, and then drive the Syrian Kurds out of Manbij further south as well.

Says President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “We will destroy all terror nests, one by one, in Syria, starting from Afrin and Manbij.”

For Erdogan, the Kurdish YPG, the major U.S. ally in Syria, is an arm of the Kurdish PKK in Turkey, which we and the Turks have designated as a terrorist organization.

While the Kurds were our most effective allies against ISIS in Syria, Turkey views them as a mortal peril and intends to deal with that threat.

If Erdogan is serious, a clash with the U.S. is coming, as our Kurdish allies occupy most of Syria’s border with Turkey.

Moreover, the U.S. has announced plans to create a 30,000-man Border Security Force of Kurds and Arabs to keep ISIS out of Syria.

Erdogan has branded this BSF a “terror army,” and President Bashar Assad of Syria has called BSF members “traitors.”

This U.S. plan to create a BSF inside Syria, Damascus declared, “represents a blatant attack on the sovereignty and territorial integrity and unity of Syria, and a flagrant violation of international law.”

Does not the Syrian government have a point?

Now that ISIS has been driven out of Raqqa and Syria, by what authority do U.S. forces remain to arm troops to keep the Damascus government from reimposing its authority on its own territory?

Secretary of State Tillerson gave Syria the news Wednesday.

The U.S. troop commitment to Syria, he said, is now open-ended.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Russian Military Pulls Out Of Syrian Kurdish Town As Turkey Initiates “Massive Cross-Border Attack”

Turkey’s defense minister has confirmed the Turkish military has begun cross-border shelling of the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin in what he further describes as the “de facto start” of the operation in order to destroy – in President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s words – Kurdish “terror nests” – and which has been dubbed previously by Turkey as a ‘massive cross-border attack.’

Defense Minister Nuettin Canikli said Friday that Ankara “has no option” regarding the planned invasion of Northern Syria to dislodge the YPG (Kurdish “People’s Protection Units”) and other factions, which it considers an extension of the “terrorist” PKK. Kurdish YPG militias and their media arms began reporting sporadic shelling and clashes earlier this week.

Crucially, the Turkish state-run news agency Anadoul confirmed that Russian military personnel have started pulling out of Afrin ahead of Turkey’s “expected” and imminent cross-border military operation. Russia has administered ‘deconfliction’ zones in the Afrin area while controlling airspace overhead, and has sponsored trilateral talks with Turkey and Iran which seeks cooperation among the three powers to wind down the war in Syria. The Russian military has long had “military advisors” on the ground in Afrin, which have in the past helped coordinate the fight against ISIS. 


Image via AFP

As we explained previously, the question of whether or not the large-scale Turkish assault on the Syrian Kurds moves forward or not depends in large part on Russia. On Thursday Turkey signaled that it had Russia cooperation in its planned invasion, though this was not confirmed by Moscow. As Reuters reported, “Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also told broadcaster CNN Turk that Turkey will coordinate with Russia and Iran on an air operation in Afrin.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Syria Policy: One Step Closer to a New Large-Scale War

US Syria Policy: One Step Closer to a New Large-Scale War

US Syria Policy: One Step Closer to a New Large-Scale War

There are snags ahead for the US administration as it tries to bring to life its plans to build a wall on the Mexican border. President Trump will have to fight an uphill battle to keep his pre-election promise, but launching a program aimed at ensuring the border security of another state situated thousands of miles away – plans that were never announced – has proved much easier. The news came as a big surprise to those following events in the Middle East.

A 30-thousand-strong US-backed “Border Security Force” (BSF) is to operate along the borders with Turkey and Iraq, as well as within Syria along the Euphrates River. Its activities will be coordinated with the aligned Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) already in place to control nearly 25 percent of Syrian territory in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

Two hundred and thirty new cadets have already been recruited to the force. A US-led coalition source said: “The base of the new force is essentially a realignment of approximately 15,000 members of the SDF to a new mission in the Border Security Force as their actions against ISIS draw to a close.” According to The Defense Post, “the ethnic composition of the force will be relative to the areas in which it serves, with efforts taken to ensure that people serve close to their homes. This all but guarantees that Kurds, who make up a majority of the population in northeastern Syria, will be establishing checkpoints along the roughly 820-kilometer (510-mile) Syria-Turkey border”. The move will have far-reaching repercussions.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

U.S. Policies Continue to Fail in 2018

U.S. Policies Continue to Fail in 2018

russia-america-clash-war

As of this writing, the Russian military has had three of their bases attacked by drones. They destroyed six of them and captured another seven. The significance: the drones are of a quality that could not have been made by the ISIS “rebels,” and had to come from a technologically-advanced nation. The drones were multidirectional and able to be controlled by satellite through GPS coordinates.

[Schwarzenegger, in “Predator”]: “Heat seeker, Dillon. Pretty sophisticated for a bunch of half-assed mountain boys.”

Exactly. The U.S. (via Tillerson) released a statement that the U.S. was not involved in the drone strike and was unaware of who supplied the drones. Not only does that not hold any water, but as it turns out, a U.S. intelligence aircraft was monitored in the theatre while these drone attacks were taking place. Syria is still being hotly contested between Assad and the “rebels” who are none other than Al Qaeda that “morphed” several times to become the ISIS we all know and uphold in the manner of Emmanuel Goldstein, the bogeyman of Orwell’s “1984.”

On the front with Eastern Ukraine, the Russian-backed separatists are about to receive a present…bequeathed by Obama, and allowed to be delivered by President Trump, certified by the Senate and all on the taxpayer’s dime. This being antitank weapons in the form of Javelins and other antitank missiles to the tune of about $47 million. Now the President is thinking of tripling that amount. So much for “détente,” and the reset that was supposed to happen with Russia.

Domestically, as disturbing as our foreign policy (and in some ways more so) is the project to create a domestic “spy” service to complement the alphabet agencies.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Who Are the Leading State Sponsors of Terrorism?

Who Are the Leading State Sponsors of Terrorism?

Who Are the Leading State Sponsors of Terrorism?

As 2017 draws to a close, it is difficult to be optimistic about what will be coming in the new year. The American President, whose margin of victory was certainly based on his pledge to avoid unnecessary wars, has doubled down on Afghanistan, refuses to leave Syria even though ISIS has been defeated, and is playing serious brinksmanship with a psychopathic and unpredictable regime in Pyongyang. The White House has also bought into the prevailing largely fabricated narrative about a Russia and has decided to arm Ukraine with offensive weapons, which has already resulted in a sharp response from Moscow and will make détente of any kind between the two leading powers all but impossible in the upcoming year.

But, as I have observed before, the red hazard light that continues to be blinking most brightly relates to Washington’s relationship with Iran, which has unnecessarily deteriorated dramatically over the past year and which brings with it collateral problems with Russia and Turkey that could trigger a much wider conflict. I say unnecessarily because all the steps taken to poison the relationship have come out of Washington, not Tehran. The Trump administration refused to certify that the Iranians had been in compliance with the nuclear agreement negotiated in 2015 and has since escalated its verbal attacks, mostly at the United Nations, claiming that the regime in Tehran is the major source of terrorism in the world and that it is seeking hegemony over a broad arc of countries running westward from its borders to the Mediterranean Sea.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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