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Saturday, February 13

Turk military shells Syria army position. Iraq accuses US of evacuating IS leaders

February 14 local time - Sputnik

(ALEPPO) Turkish armed forces shelled Syrian army positions in the northern Syrian province of Latakia, a military source told RIA Novosti early Sunday.

"Turkish artillery opened fire on the positions of the Syrian army in the Alia hills region of northwest Latakia. Several shells have fallen from Turkish territory," the unnamed source said.

Turkish forces shelled Kurdish self-defense positions around the town of Azaz in nearby Aleppo province earlier.

[END REPORT]

I asume the U.S. and British governments would deny every one of the allegations published in the following report from FARS, an Iranian state news agency, and explain  U.S. weapons in the hands of Islamic State by saying they were thefts from "moderate" forces they'd shipped weapons to.
  
The obvious solution to the latter would be for the U.S. to stop arming miltias of all kinds and not only in Iraq -- across the board. The arming and financing of mercenaries and home-grown militias is now completely out of hand but as long as the USA continues the practice, every other government can rationalize doing the same.    

As to the specific allegation about the evacuations -- it could a 'political' lie by pro-Iranian factions in Iraq's military. Whether true or false, the allegation suggests that Iraq's government now sees U.S. coalition actions in Iraq as at best ineffective.                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Source: Evidence Shows US Helping ISIL to Survive in Iraq
February 13
FARS

TEHRAN (FNA)- Senior Iraqi security sources lashed out at the US and its regional allies for supporting Takfiri terrorists in Iraq, and said that Washington is the main cause of ISIL's survival in his country.

"We have compelling evidence that a US helicopter landed in Albu Arim palms of Fallujah city to take out the ISIL leaders who were in contact with the Americans," a senior Iraqi security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told FNA on Saturday.

He noted that other US aircraft were flying over the region to protect the airplane which was boarding the ISIL leaders, adding, "The US took out the ISIL leaders in order to rescue them from possible attacks by the Iraqi Army and security forces."

In relevant remarks in October, Spokesman of Iraq's Kata'ib Hezbollah (Hezbollah Battalions) popular forces Jafar al-Hosseini disclosing that captured ISIL leaders have acknowledged receiving logistical backup and intelligence support from the US.

"As the ISIL commanders captured in Iraqi popular forces' recent military operations have confessed, the US supports for the terrorist groups are not limited to the dispatch of logistical support," Al-Hosseini told FNA.

He reiterated that the US has provided the ISIL with intelligence about the Iraqi forces' positions and targets.

"ISIL commanders trusted the US officials who had assured them that the Iraqi forces would not attack Fallujah because the US had urged the Iraqi government to prevent the popular forces from entering Fallujah and raid Beiji instead; hence the terrorists left Fallujah for Beiji to stay on the alert in there," Al-Hosseini added.

Al-Hosseini had also stated on Wednesday that his forces plan to win back the city of Ramadi only after expelling the American forces from Anbar province.

"Our forces have two operations underway; first seizing Ramadi from ISIL and second keeping away the American forces from Anbar province," al-Hosseini told FNA.

He underlined that preventing the US forces from getting close to Anbar province will expedite operations for winning back the province, specially after the military operations in Salahuddin province that led to the liberation of the city of Beiji.

Iraqi officials have on different occasions blasted the US and its allies for supplying the ISIL in Syria with arms and ammunition under the pretext of fighting the Takfiri terrorist group.

Also in October, the Iraqi army and volunteer forces discovered US-made military hardware and ammunition, including anti-armor missiles, in terrorists' positions and trenches captured during the operations in the Fallujah region in Al-Anbar province.

The Iraqi forces found a huge volume of advanced TOW-II missiles from the Takfiri terrorists in al-Karama city of Fallujah.

The missiles were brand new and the ISIL had transferred them to Fallujah to use them against the Iraqi army's armored units.

On October 10, the Iraqi forces discovered US-made military hardware and ammunition from terrorists in Beiji.

"The military hardware and weapons had been airdropped by the US-led warplanes and choppers for the ISIL in the nearby areas of Beiji," military sources told FNA.

In February 2015, an Iraqi provincial official lashed out at the western countries and their regional allies for supporting Takfiri terrorists in Iraq, revealing that the US airplanes still continue to airdrop weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL terrorists.

"The US planes have dropped weapons for the ISIL terrorists in the areas under ISIL control and even in those areas that have been recently liberated from the ISIL control to encourage the terrorists to return to those places," Coordinator of Iraqi popular forces Jafar al-Jaberi told FNA.

He noted that eyewitnesses in Al-Havijeh of Kirkuk province had witnessed the US airplanes dropping several suspicious parcels for ISIL terrorists in the province.

"Two coalition planes were also seen above the town of Al-Khas in Diyala and they carried the Takfiri terrorists to the region that has recently been liberated from the ISIL control," Al-Jaberi said.

Also in February 2015, a senior lawmaker disclosed that Iraq's army has shot down two British planes as they were carrying weapons for the ISIL terrorists in Al-Anbar province.

"The Iraqi Parliament's National Security and Defense Committee has access to the photos of both planes that are British and have crashed while they were carrying weapons for the ISIL," Head of the committee Hakem al-Zameli said.

He said the Iraqi parliament has asked London for explanations in this regard.

The senior Iraqi legislator further unveiled that the government in Baghdad is receiving daily reports from people and security forces in al-Anbar province on numerous flights by the US-led coalition planes that airdrop weapons and supplies for ISIL in terrorist-held areas.

The Iraqi lawmaker further noted the cause of such western aids to the terrorist group, and explained that the US prefers a chaotic situation in Anbar Province which is near the cities of Karbala and Baghdad as it does not want the ISIL crisis to come to an end.

Also in February 2015, a senior Iraqi provincial official lashed out at the western countries and their regional allies for supporting Takfiri terrorists in Iraq, revealing that US and Israeli-made weapons have been discovered from the areas purged of ISIL terrorists.

"We have discovered weapons made in the US, European countries and Israel from the areas liberated from ISIL's control in Al-Baqdadi region," the Al-Ahad news website quoted Head of Al-Anbar Provincial Council Khalaf Tarmouz as saying.

He noted that the weapons made by the European countries and Israel were discovered from the terrorists in the Eastern parts of the city of Ramadi.

Meantime, Head of Iraqi Parliament's National Security and Defense Committee Hakem al-Zameli also disclosed that the anti-ISIL coalition's planes have dropped weapons and foodstuff for the ISIL in Salahuddin, Al-Anbar and Diyala provinces.

In January 2015, al-Zameli underlined that the coalition is the main cause of ISIL's survival in Iraq.

"There are proofs and evidence for the US-led coalition's military aid to ISIL terrorists through air(dropped cargoes)," he told FNA at the time.

He noted that the members of his committee have already proved that the US planes have dropped advanced weaponry, including anti-aircraft weapons, for the ISIL, and that it has set up an investigation committee to probe into the matter.

"The US drops weapons for the ISIL on the excuse of not knowing about the whereabouts of the ISIL positions and it is trying to distort the reality with its allegations.

He noted that the committee had collected the data and the evidence provided by eyewitnesses, including Iraqi army officers and the popular forces, and said, "These documents are given to the investigation committee ... and the necessary measures will be taken to protect the Iraqi airspace."

Also in January 2015, another senior Iraqi legislator reiterated that the US-led coalition is the main cause of ISIL's survival in Iraq.

"The international coalition is only an excuse for protecting the ISIL and helping the terrorist group with equipment and weapons," Jome Divan, who is member of the al-Sadr bloc in the Iraqi parliament, said.

He said the coalition's support for the ISIL is now evident to everyone, and continued, "The coalition has not targeted ISIL's main positions in Iraq."

In Late December 2014, Iraqi Parliamentary Security and Defense Commission MP disclosed that a US plane supplied the ISIL terrorist organization with arms and ammunition in Salahuddin province.

MP Majid al-Gharawi stated that the available information pointed out that US planes are supplying ISIL organization, not only in Salahuddin province, but also other provinces, Iraq TradeLink reported.

He added that the US and the international coalition are "not serious in fighting against the ISIL organization, because they have the technological power to determine the presence of ISIL gunmen and destroy them in one month".

Gharawi added that "the US is trying to expand the time of the war against the ISIL to get guarantees from the Iraqi government to have its bases in Mosul and Anbar provinces."

Salahuddin security commission also disclosed that "unknown planes threw arms and ammunition to the ISIL gunmen Southeast of Tikrit city".

[END REPORT]

Friday, February 12

Saudi Twilight Zone UPDATED 11:40 AM EST

UPDATE
Heh. Found another February 10 AMN report, filed by the News Desk, which I just excavated from my stack of To Read news reports:

Saudi Crown Prince visits Yemeni frontlines to lift dwindling morale
The report names both Yemeni and Lebanese news sources for the story of the prince's visit; that would have told me right away Leith wasn't hallucinating about the Yemini attacks on military bases in Saudi Arabia.    

Well, onward. 

**** 
February 10

Yemeni Army devastates Coalition forces in southern Saudi Arabia - Leith Fadel, AMN

Huh. Can't be that much devastation because the story's not on Google News. Let's see what this is about:
The Missile Battalion of the Yemeni army launched another Type-1 Qahir ballistic missile into Jizan Regional Airport in southern Saudi Arabia on Tuesday. The ballistic missile that struck the Jizan Regional Airport was the third of its kind to be fired at the Saudi-led Coalition on Tuesday afternoon. Based on earlier reports, the Yemeni Army struck the Khamis Mushayt military base in the Asir Province of Saudi Arabia before launching their strike on the Jizan Regional Airport.
[Pundita note:  the Saudis had turned the airport into a military base; see earlier Feb 10 report in the update.]
The Yemeni military media broadcast included video footage of Tuesday’s operation, pointing out that the base is one of the most important Saudi installations. The Saudi defense minister Mohammad bin Salman visited Jizan hospital to lift spirits and check on the Kingdom’s wounded soldiers as the latest death toll greatly exceeded over 200 casualties. [...]
Two hundred, eh? But how many killed?  Let's see what the English Arab news outlets have to report about it.  [taptaptaptaptap]  Huh. Nothing. Is Leith sure this happened?  [looking again at the AMN report]  He doesn't say the report is unconfirmed. Well, with a strike that size something will pop up about it in the Saudi press. 

February 12

Yemeni Army, Houthis make huge gains against the Saudi forces - Leith Fadel, AMN 

Now what's this about?
The Yemeni army and the Popular Committees captured the strategic hilltop of Talat Al-Hamra inside the Sarawah Directorate on Thursday, killing several enemy combatants that were loyal to the exiled Yemeni president ‘Abd Rubbah Mansour Hadi. ...
I think that's in Yemen; I have enough strategic hilltops in Syria to worry about. What else? 
According to local sources, Talat Al-Hamra overlooks the provincial capital of ... 
yada yada yada -- yikes!    
Meanwhile, at the Saudi city of Rabu’ah, the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard forces captured 2 more Saudi military installations, leaving only a small parcel of territory left under the control of the coalition forces.
The Yemeni Army did not stop there, they also stormed the strategic Shurfa Camp in the Najran Province of Saudi Arabia; this battle is still ongoing.
Uh oh. Here's another report from Leith today:

Breaking News: Yemeni ballistic missiles rain down on Saudi military posts in the Jizan province
Earlier today the Yemeni Army’s missile battalion launched a powerful rocket attack on the Saudi Army’s military installations at the Jizan Regional Airport, causing severe damage to this large site in the Jizan Province of southern Saudi Arabia. According to several field reports from the Yemeni Army, several rockets and a Type-1 Qahir ballistic missile struck the Jizan Regional Airport, resulting in another high death toll for the Saudi regime forces and further destruction to this imperative military site. 
This latest missile strike comes just 48 hours after the Saudi crown prince attempted to lift the spirits of his soldiers by making a visit to the Jizan field hospital.
Let's see what Reuters or AP is reporting on this. [taptaptaptaptap]  CNN? [taptap] What about the Saudi Gazette or Al Jazeera English?  [taptaptap]  Al-Arabiya English? [taptap] Sputnik?  [taptap]  BBC? [taptap] 

This news is serious stuff; where is everybody? [Pundita races around the internet to 20 other news sites.] This is nuts; nobody but AMN is reporting the story. Has Leith taken up chewing peyote? Oh right, I forgot to check at FARS. [taptap] Holy cow!

Yemen's Ballistic Missile Hits Jizan Airport Again, Inflicts Heavy Losses on Saudi Forces --February 12, FARS


TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces hit Jizan airport in Southern Arabia on Friday morning inflicting heavy losses and casualties on the Saudi forces.

Yemen's Qaher-I missile hit Jizan airport, killing and wounding a large number of soldiers earlier today.

This was the third time in the past two days that Jizan airport came under the Yemeni forces' ballistic missile attack and the sixth time that Saudi military positions are targeted in Southern Saudi Arabia.

The ballistic missile attack came 48 hours after Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman attempted to boost the morale of his soldiers by paying a visit to Jizan's field hospital.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Yemeni forces hit Jizan airport in inflicting heavy losses and casualties on the Saudi forces.

"Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman has visited the wounded Saudi soldiers in Jizan hospital to help boost their morale and he has also closely assessed the damages inflicted on the Saudi forces," informed Yemeni sources told FNA.

On Tuesday, the Yemeni army and popular forces pounded Saudi Arabia's military base and airport in the kingdom's Southern provinces with ballistic missiles, killing tens of soldiers and injuring dozens more.

The Yemeni forces hit the Khamis Mushait military base in Asir province with two Qaher-I ballistic missiles.

Tens of Saudi soldiers and officers were killed in Yemen's missile attack on Khamis Mushait military base.

Meantime, the Yemeni army and popular forces fired two Qaher-I ballistic missiles at Jizan Airport on Tuesday.

"Dozens of Saudi soldiers were killed and many more were wounded in the attacks," witness reports said.

In a similar incident on Saturday, at least 104 Saudi-led forces, including 8 senior Saudi and UAE officers, were killed in Yemen's ballistic missile attack on Ma'as military base in Ma'rib province in Central Yemen.

Also on Friday, a Commander of Yemen's Ansarullah Movement confirmed the missile attack at the Ma'as military base in Ma'rib in Central Yemen.

In a relevant development on Wednesday, the Yemeni army and popular forces rained down a barrage of missiles at the Saudi forces' military tower in Al-Dokhan region in Jizan province in Southern Saudi Arabia.

Al-Dokhan tower was reportedly destroyed in the Yemeni missile attacks in Jizan as eyewitnesses said that they had seen smoke rising from it.

The Yemeni army and popular forces regained control of Al-Khurma region in Asir province after they destroyed two arms depots and other military hardware of the Yemeni forces in the region.

Meantime, the Yemeni army's artillery units pounded Malhama military base in Jizan province. The Saudi troops started fleeing their base as soon as they came under the missile attack.

Also on Tuesday, the Yemeni army and popular forces raided Saudi Arabia's military bases and military positions in the Southern part of the kingdom and destroyed their military equipment and hardware.

Informed military sources in the Northern parts of Yemen confirmed that the Yemeni Army alongside the popular forces raided Saudi Arabia's military bases and positions near the borders with Yemen, and destroyed 11 Saudi tanks and armored vehicles.

[END REPORT]

Okay, I'll assume Leith isn't hallucinating. Surely Al-Arabiya has something to say by now about this crisis in the kingdom:
Saudi’s decision to send troops in Syria ‘final’
What about the Saudi Gazette? 
King Salman to visit Egypt on April 4
Al Jazeera? 
Clinton and Sanders clash over minorities, money, Obama in debate
Mark my words, something strange is going on over there in Saudi Arabia. Something even stranger is going on with the major world press.

******** 

Thursday, February 11

Syrian tribes capture hospital Islamic State used as military base

Deir Ezzor tribes fight back against ISIS: Aisha Hospita captured

[Sheitat Tribesmen, tired but triumphant] 


February 11, 2016
AMN

On Thursday morning in eastern Deir Ezzor, local tribal fighters carried out a powerful assault on the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham’s (ISIS) positions at their main headquarters inside the city of Albukamal near the Iraqi border-crossing into the Al-‘Anbar Governorate. According to government sources that remain in contact with the Sheitat Tribesmen, the tribal fighters established full control over the ‘Aisha National Hospital after a violent battle with the ISIS terrorists who converted this medical facility into a military base.

The source added that the local tribal fighters also carried out several attacks around the ‘Aisha Hospital’s large neighborhoods, while Russian fighter jets provided the necessary back-up to crush ISIS’ resistance against the Deir Ezzor popular committees inside the city of Albukamal.

Syrian state media reported that the tribal fighters raised the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic; however, no footage or photos have been released from the hospital to confirm this news.

[END REPORT]



YPG takes Mennagh Military Airport. Plus rebel defenses in N. Aleppo crumbling

South Front and other sources jumped the gun yesterday in their reporting on the battle while AMN played for patience. But now the airport is definitely under control of YPG and allied forces. This is great news. although bound to shake up Erdogan. But if he didn't send reinforcements to help fend off YPG at Mennagh, it looks unlikely he'll do so for other battles near the border.

If this observation is correct, it suggests he's folding his hand in Syria. His motto is probably No tickee no washee; if Islamic State etc. can't find a way to keep transporting large shipments of stolen oil across the border, would he spend real money to help the beleaguered 'rebels?' I think he'd prefer to fold and blame it on Americans and Europeans. This way he can wring a few more billion euros out of the EU by saying Turkey is now overrun by refugees and they're all heading Europe's way.

But we'll see what the sultan has up his sleeve.

Kurdish forces seize the Mennagh Military Airport
By Leith Fadel - 11/02/2016
AMN

The predominately Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG) – in close coordination with Jaysh Al-Thuwwar of the Syrian Democratic Forces – have established full control over the Mennagh Military Airport and 3 nearby villages after a 48 hour battle with the Islamist rebels of Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Jabhat Al-Shamiyah, and the Free Syrian Army (FSA).

With Mennagh Military Airport under their control, the YPG and SDF are now in position to strike the imperative city of ‘Azaz, which is the location of the Islamist rebels last border-crossing into Turkey from the Aleppo Governorate.

More importantly for the Kurdish forces, if ‘Azaz is captured, they will be able to link the Afrin Canton with the aforementioned city and then possibly with the remaining northern Syria cities that stretch as far east as the Al-Hasakah Governorate.

[END REPORT]

AMN isn't putting time stamps on its reports but the above report popped up I think within the last 60-90 minutes. What follows is a report filed by Leith from earlier today (Syria/Lebanon time), before he reported victory was declared at the airport. This second report also shows the tremendous progress YPG and allied forces are making this week. Yuppers, they're on a roll:

Rebel defenses fall apart as Kurdish and government forces advance in northern Aleppo
By Leith Fadel - 11/02/2016
AMN

[Includes a map of N. Aleppo which I can't make heads or tails out of. I like South Front's animated maps. And the music.]

The last 48 hours in northern Aleppo have been incredibly tense for the Islamist rebels of Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), Harakat Nouriddeen Al-Zinki, and Jabhat Al-Shamiyah, as they have found themselves under fire along three different fronts by three different enemy forces.

On Wednesday, the Syrian Arab Army’s 154th Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division – backed by Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF), and several Iraqi paramilitary units – imposed full control over the village of Kafr Naya after a 72 hour long battle with the Islamist rebels of Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group), and Jaysh Al-Mujahiddeen.

As a result of their loss at Kafr Naya, the Islamist rebels now have their backs against the wall at their stronghold of Tal Rifa’at, which is located directly north of the captured village.

[continues with discussion of Mennagh battle, which was still in progress at the time of this report]

Despite several claims of its capture, the YPG and SDF have yet to take complete control of the Mennagh Military Airport; however, it is very likely to fall in the coming hours as the Islamist rebels lack the manpower to repel the swarming enemy forces. It may appear that the government and Kurdish forces are working together in northern Aleppo, but in reality, they are both operating autonomously [independently] of one another.

[END REPORT]

Wednesday, February 10

Is this the end of globalization? The Chopsticks Manifesto

Ricochet

Recently John Batchelor began worrying aloud on his radio show about whether the new nuclear arms race between Russia and the USA portended the end of globalization. Well, yeah, if we nuke each other probably that would do it for globalized trade. 

But then John wanted to ruminate on whether increased nationalism spelled the end of globalization, so a couple weeks ago he put the question to Michael Vlahos and Gregory Copley, with inconclusive conclusions to my ears.

Gregory sounded more worried about the end of civilization than globalization, and Vlahos (I always refer to Vlahos as Vlahos) seemed more interested in how very rich elites were reacting to the sound of guillotines being wheeled into their neighborhoods.      

But to my mind John got his answer last night during Stephen Cohen's latest discussion with him about Russia. Steve mentioned that when Russian farmers noticed there was no cheese in Moscow they said, 'Hey, there's no cheese in Moscow! Let's make cheese!'

The backstory is that President Putin got upset about the ongoing sanctions imposed on Russia by Europe so finally he said, 'Okay, no more French cheese.' 

This was devastating to French cheese exporters and Muscovite lovers of French-made cheese, but as Steve pointed out cheese is cheese to most Russians.

He added that Russia's pre-sanction import situation was nuts; the nation, the largest territorial one in the world, imported 90 percent of its food.

The IMF would snap, 'What's nuts about that?' and certainly from the viewpoint of Worldbankia Civilization a nation importing 90 percent of its food makes perfect sense. But the wild-eyed revolutionaries -- and our ranks have swelled since the 2008 financial crash -- do consider it a nutty measure of economic success when a nation gets so tangled up with imports it loses the ability to feed itself. Or so tangled with exports that a suspension of trade in a single commodity or product can spell doom for the exporting nation.

Gregory Copley put it well a few weeks ago on John's show -- in fact, he nailed it -- when he spoke about the critical importance of a nation mustering "strategic self-sufficiency." The point was made by Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej when he noted during a talk about his Sufficiency Philosophy that sometimes it's necessary for a society to take a careful step back.

There's nothing wrong with globalization but globalization isn't the issue when global trade is carried to insane lengths. The issue is abuse of the efficiency principle to the detriment of entire societies and civilization itself. 

Modern globalized trade was made possible by the integration of a wide range of technologies, from containerized shipping to electronic funds transfer. But only in the smallest frame is it efficient for a few retail giants to destroy hundreds of millions of livelihoods and local industries and the diverse communities, craft skills, and ways of thinking the industries represent. The diversity is humanity's only edge against new or unexpected catastrophes and it's what nurtures experimentation and the independence of thought that goes with it.

Taking a careful step back is easier said than done, however. King Bhumibol's ideas got a hearing in Thailand only at the point of a severe economic contraction related to a global downturn. Just so, Russians are waking up only because of very hard economic times. 

It was the same in Iran, I might add. If some readers are suddenly sitting up straight -- it so happens President Obama's big effort to bring Tehran back to the bosom of the International Community coincided with a change of thinking in Iran. Many Iranians, after staying in the fetal position for years because of economic sanctions, started saying, 'Hey, we can make a lot of the stuff we need to import!'

Gee no kidding.

It also so happens that no sooner did Russian dairy farmers start talking about making cheese for domestic use that several EU leaders, including French ones, began saying, 'Maybe these sanctions against Russia aren't such a good idea.'

Actually it's never a good idea to fire economic bullets because you just never know if they'll ricochet. 

It turns out that Russia's counter-sanctions against the European Union are revitalizing the country's agriculture sector, so it's not just about cheese. As a matter of fact, Russia has overtaken the USA and Canada in wheat exports. And the EU export sanctions and Putin's counter-sanctions have led to a revival in Russia of Russian traditional cuisine.

It's not yet strategic self-sufficiency but they're on their way, if they stay on track. And they're getting there without shutting themselves off from the rest of the world.           

Deviant Globalization

Nils Gilman (Mandarins of the Future: Modernization Theory in Cold War America) coined the term "Deviant Globalization," or at least he was the first person I know about who used it to describe what's generally called Black Globalization. It refers to criminals using all the technologies that make the modern era in globalized trade possible so they can vastly increase their consumer bases.   

But in the eight or so years since Nils lectured on the topic the gray aspects of globalization have become very evident. While there's still a sharp distinction between legal and illegal trade, a huge ambiguous aspect has emerged, whether it's trade in machine parts with dual uses, legit tourist companies that arrange passage for illegal migrants, investment funds that while technically legal facilitate land grabs in poorer countries, the export of stolen oil, and so on.  

Because virtually all these quasi-illegal schemes depend not simply on the help of corrupt officials but entire governments, one could say that localized corruption has gone global. From this perspective "deviant" fits the bill better than trying to label according to shades of a spectrum.  

However, if the situation is viewed through a wide-angle lens we see that deviancy in global trade has begotten deviancy; success with manipulating the mechanisms of global trade in one area inspires criminality in another area. Deviancy has become the norm. The upshot is a wholly corrupted system of trade that's even generated its own form of terrorism.  

To say that one has to take the bad with the good in globalized business misses the point. When the bad gobbles up so much of the good that governments have to spend mind-boggling amounts of revenue in the attempt to police the very worst offenders, that doesn't leave authorities much time or money to closely inspect, say, imported chopsticks. But believe you me, you will never again use Made in China disposable chopsticks from your favorite Chinese food takeout once you read this article at Epoch Times.

So where are we headed?         

Metaphor

I've told the story before in a different context but this is a good place to tell it again -- only now I'll include a part of the anecdote I omitted from the earlier version.

A few years ago I saw a reality TV show called "Guyana Gold." It was about two American amateur gold-dredgers who joined the gold rush in Guyana, which saw thousands of adventurers and rascals from around the world converged on the jungles to strike it rich.

The foreigners aren't happy unless they dredge with humongous imported machines that first of all amateurs don't know how to maintain; second don't know how to repair; third push far beyond the warranty; and four each of these machines, often stories high, has 10 million parts.

This situation spawned an open-air market run by locals that sells parts from broken-down machines foreigners abandon or sell to finance their plane ticket home. The market takes up something like two square miles. But unlike the hardware items in Home Depot none of the parts in the market are labeled. To shop there you seriously have to know what you're looking for, and the merchandise doesn't come with warranties. 

The American protagonists had hired an American Iraq War veteran to maintain their hideously expensive dredging machine. The vet had been specially trained (naturally at considerable cost) by the U.S. military to repair all kinds of machines that break down out in the field. But the open-air market in Guyana proved to be his Waterloo when the dredging machine broke down. He could not find the parts he was looking for in the market.  

The day was saved when an Indian who was an old hand at the gold digs repaired the broken machine by using a length of cotton thread and aerosol spray from a mosquito repellent can. 

The Chopsticks Manifesto

So it's our choice where we're headed: to a future where we are overwhelmed by the complex detritus of globalized trade, or one in which we have command of our stuff.

Which is to say if you're living in Peoria, Illinois and have to use chopsticks made all the way over in China, what's wrong with you? Can't you make your own chopsticks?

Look around  you. Can you make anything you use? Can you repair anything? Or do you just throw it away and buy another when it breaks down? If that's what you do, if that's how you live your life, all you command is plastic debit and credit cards. Try eating moo shu chicken with those.  

Global trade was never meant to be a substitute for the responsibilities of living, which demand at least some basic skills at maintaining oneself and one's personal environment. If you can't manage that much, then you are at the mercy of a vast collection of strangers who don't care whether you live, or whether you die from chopsticks poisoning. 

That leaves you no choice but to demand more rules, more regulations, more policing, and to pay more and more taxes and give up more and more of your freedom in a vain attempt to control the uncontrollable.

What's the tiebreaker? Not the end of globalized trade. A careful step back.    

********

Tuesday, February 9

White House still supports Al Qaeda-linked fighters in Syria. Why?

Here is the podcast for Thomas Joscelyn's February 8 Long War Journal report for John Batchelor's radio audience. Although John titled the podcast segment "Russian Battle Plan to Conquer Aleppo," much of the discussion examines the chameleon-like aspect of al Qaeda in Syria (and elsewhere). Al Qaeda is the organization with a thousand faces and as such it's made fools of intelligence analysts who don't do their homework then claim AQ poses little threat.

Thomas and Bill Roggio, his colleague at Long War Journal, are willing to do the homework, which takes practically living at jihadi social media/internet sites, and so they can reel off the many names Qaeda operates under and organizations it's closely allied with, putting paid to the claim that Qaeda's influence has waned and that it's not interested in grabbing territory. On the contrary, it gets stronger every year and takes control of more and more territory.

Long War Journal has repeatedly warned that while Islamic State grabs the headlines it's Qaeda that's the greater threat -- and LWJ was warning of the threat years before IS arose. Today, South Yemen is under Qaeda's control, to such extent they're now setting up their own version of a caliphate there, as Thomas explained during his report last night.

For details on both topics listen to the podcast and see Thomas Joscelyn's February 3 report for LWJ:
  
AQAP provides social services, implements sharia while advancing in southern Yemen 

and his February 6 report,

Jihadists reinforce other rebels during key battle in Aleppo province

From the second report:
... Zanki is not al Qaeda. But as the skirmish with Al Nusrah demonstrated, Zanki does not want to offend al Qaeda’s men, cooperates with them on the battlefield and believes in a version of “religious law” (sharia) that is at least similar to Al Nusrah’s.
Despite its adherence to an Islamist ideology and alliance with Al Nusrah, Zanki has received American-made TOW missiles, which it has used against both the Assad regime and the Islamic State. ...
So the question is just how blind the U.S. intelligence community can be, year in and year out. The question got even more interesting when it was leaked that a faction amongst America's top military brass bypassed the White House to supply the Syrian Army with intelligence on the activities of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations operating in Syria. The faction was clearly aware of the dangers posed by all the organizations including AQ and didn't seem blinded at all. 

From Military to Military, Seymour Hersh, London Review of Books, 7 January 2016:
... The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya.
A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an ‘all-source’ appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration’s insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups.
By then, the CIA had been conspiring for more than a year with allies in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ship guns and goods – to be used for the overthrow of Assad – from Libya, via Turkey, into Syria.
The new intelligence estimate singled out Turkey as a major impediment to Obama’s Syria policy. The document showed, the adviser said, "that what was started as a covert US programme to arm and support the moderate rebels fighting Assad had been co-opted by Turkey, and had morphed into an across-the-board technical, arms and logistical programme for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra [Al Qaeda in Syria] and Islamic State. The so-called moderates had evaporated and the Free Syrian Army was a rump group stationed at an airbase in Turkey."
The assessment was bleak: there was no viable ‘moderate’ opposition to Assad, and the US was arming extremists. ...
If you know all this, do you still keep fooling around with the extremists? Something is very screwy somewhere in the American civilian government and/or its military. Could the screwiness emanate from Capitol Hill? Don't know. I only know it has to be found and rooted out before the screwballs get a great many Americans killed. Or should I say a great many more.   

********

So the 2008 attack on Mumbai was a South Asian conversation, was it?

The United States’ failure to act on warnings about Mr. Headley has been, at times, a source of tension between Washington and New Delhi. Mr. Headley’s appearance as a witness “gives the United States an opportunity to play the observer role in what is a South Asian conversation about terrorism and security,” said Shamila N. Chaudhary, a South Asia fellow at the New America Foundation.

So the U.S. government was merely a bystander in the David Headley Affair? What planet does New America Foundation inhabit?  

2008 Mumbai Attacks Plotter Says Pakistan’s Spy Agency Played a Role
By ELLEN BARRY and HARI KUMAR
FEB. 8, 2016
The New York Times 

NEW DELHI — A Pakistani-American man who helped plot the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai told an Indian court on Monday that he had met throughout the process with two handlers from Pakistan’s military intelligence agency, an Indian prosecutor said.

India has long sought to depose the man, David C. Headley, in hopes of establishing a direct link between the Pakistani government and the assaults in Mumbai, which left more than 163 people dead.

Mr. Headley gave the deposition via teleconference from an undisclosed location in the United States, where he is serving a 35-year sentence for his role in the attacks. The questioning, by Ujjwal Nikam, the Indian public prosecutor, will continue in the coming days.

India hopes to present evidence of official involvement in the attacks, in part to generate pressure on the Pakistani government to take action against the conspirators. Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a commander with the militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba who is believed to have overseen the Mumbai attacks, has been free on bail inPakistan since 2014.

The group’s founder, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, lives openly in Lahore, in northern Pakistan, and moves freely throughout the country, impervious to the $10 million reward offered by the United States for information leading to his arrest.

Mr. Headley, who identified his contacts at the Inter-Services Intelligence directorate of Pakistan, or ISI, as “Major Ali” and “Major Iqbal,” has linked the terrorist plots to that agency before. He previously told American prosecutors that Lashkar “operated under the umbrella of the ISI” and that an agency official had offered in 2006 to pay him to carry out reconnaissance trips to India before the attacks. He has made similar statements to Indian investigators who have interviewed him in the United States.

A few revelations emerged from Mr. Headley’s questioning on Monday, part of a case against a Lashkar operative, Zabiuddin Ansari. One is that the 10 gunmen who paralyzed Mumbai starting on Nov. 26, 2008, had botched two previous attempts on the city, one in September and one in October, in one case swimming back to shore after their boat hit a rock and their arms and ammunition sank.

Mr. Headley also said that on the advice of his contact in Lashkar, he had changed his birth name, Daood Gilani, to a more American-sounding one so that he could more easily enter India. He visited India seven times before the attacks, recording hours of video of the city for his handlers in Pakistan.

Mr. Headley, 55, the son of a Pakistani poet and diplomat, Syed Saleem Gilani, and a Philadelphia socialite, A. Serrill Headley, carved out a byzantine double game for himself during the years after the Sept. 11 , 2001, attacks in the United States. Convicted of distributing heroin in the United States, he made a deal with officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration to travel to Pakistan in 2002 to gather information on heroin trafficking.

He was swiftly picked up by the Pakistani authorities and decided to work with him.

In 2002, while he was still working as a D.E.A. informant, he began training with Lashkar. Three women — a girlfriend and two former wives of his — approached American officials over the course of several years, saying they suspected him of sympathizing with terrorist groups, but no action was taken.

Mr. Headley was arrested in 2009, when he was caught carrying plans for a terrorist attack on a Danish newspaper. On the basis of his cooperation with investigators, United States officials shielded him from the death penalty at his trial in 2011 and reduced his life sentence to 35 years. 

Counterterrorism officials have described him as “dangerously engaging,” and they warned about the need to guard against “being sucked into his mind games.”

The United States’ failure to act on warnings about Mr. Headley has been, at times, a source of tension between Washington and New Delhi. Mr. Headley’s appearance as a witness “gives the United States an opportunity to play the observer role in what is a South Asian conversation about terrorism and security,” said Shamila N. Chaudhary, a South Asia fellow at the New America Foundation.

[END REPORT]

Terrorists Fleeing to Turkey as Syrian Army Advances in Lattakia Province

We'll always have Paris 



Feb 09, 2016 - 10:8
FARS

TEHRAN (FNA)- A large number of Takfiri terrorists are trying to cross the border into Turkey after losing vast territories and tens of their comrades in the massive operation of the Syrian Army troops and their popular allies in the Northern and Northeastern parts of Lattakia province.

The terrorist groups have sustained major losses in the battlefronts as the Syrian army and its allies are hunting them down in the Northern and Northeastern territories of Lattakia province.

Tens of terrorists have been killed and dozens more have been injured in heavy clashes with the Syrian troops in Northern Aleppo in the recent weeks as the army conducted massive assaults to win back more villages and towns in the region.

The Syrian government forces have had eye-catching victories in Lattakia in the recent weeks.

On Monday, the militant groups withdrew forces from one more key village in the mountainous regions of the coastal province of Lattakia near the border with Turkey under the heavy attacks of the Syrian Army and popular forces.

The Syrian army troops and the NDF pushed the militant groups back from the village of Bashoura and seized full control over the village and its surroundings.

Several militants were killed or wounded in the offensive.

[END REPORT]

Syrian bombers demolish Islamic State Raqqa training camp. With trainees inside

Wonder how the Syrian bombers managed to creep up on them; my understanding is that the old-fashioned Syrian aircraft, unlike Russian ones, fly at so low an altitude they can be heard coming from miles away. Could this mean the Russians are letting the Syrian Air Force fly one of their babies?  Or that there's a new addition, or a loan, to the Syrian Air Force? [smiling] 

URGENT: ISIL Terrorists' Training Camp in Raqqa Totally Destroyed in Syrian Air Raids
Tue Feb 09, 2016 -- 10:33
FARS 

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian fighter jets pounded the ISIL training camp in the Northeastern province of Raqqa, inflicting major losses on the terrorist group.

Scores of the ISIL fresh recruits and military trainers were killed or wounded after one the terrorist group's main training camps came under the Syrian air attacks.

Also on Sunday, the Syrian jets targeted and totally destroyed a major training building used by the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in Raqqa.

The sources said at least thirty three terrorists were killed and dozens more were injured in the aerial attack over the focal point of ISIL-controlled territories in Syria.

Some reports claimed that the building was one of the ISIL's training structures in the city of Raqqa.

[END REPORT]

This is how much Free Syrian Army elements want negotiation

Remember the following report the next time CNN, Reuters, or any other media outlet portrays the Free Syrian Army as "moderate." While a few such elements might still exist in the highly diffuse 'army' it seems more likely that many if not most of the FSA fighters were co-opted by al Qaeda, which makes a specialty of co-option. 

In any case this is a deeply troubling report. It looks as if AQ wants to create as many siege situations as it can in Syria in the effort to gin up outside intervention to halt the now highly-effective Syrian Army coalition.


 

Rebels renege on reconciliation agreement in strategic towns of Ibta and Dael: civilians arrested
By Leith Fadel
February 9, 2016
AMN

This past weekend, the Syrian Arab Army’s 12th Brigade of the 5th Armored Division made an important reconciliation agreement with the civilians and rebels inside the strategic towns of ‘Ibta and Da’el that would allow them to utilize the imperative highway which leads to the provincial capital of the Dara’a Governorate. In exchange for the use of the Sinaymin-Dara’a Highway, the Syrian Government would make peace with the tribes, while also promising to rebuild the towns and civil institutions.

Unfortunately, the Islamist rebels from the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) decided to intervene on the day this agreement was to implemented and arrested the civilians and tribal leaders seeking reconciliation with the Syrian Government and the Syrian Arab Army.

When civilians inside of ‘Ibta and Da’el attempted to raise the Syrian Arab Republic flag over the aforementioned towns, they were arrested by the Islamist rebels. These are the same rebels that have failed to maintain control over the city of Sheikh Miskeen and the small village of Al-Naymah.

As a result of their actions on Monday, the Islamist rebels have welcomed [Pundita Note: I'd call it "provoked"] military intervention by the Syrian Arab Army and the National Defense Forces (NDF), who have both towns surrounded along the Sinaymin-Dara’a Highway.

Instead of allowing aid to the civilians in these Dara’wi towns, the Islamist rebels have made it clear they prefer bloodshed over the prospect of peace.

[END REPORT]

Monday, February 8

At the tomb of St John the Baptist in Damascus


Photograph by ILIYA PITALEV for Sputnik, part of a photo essay showing glimpses of peaceful life in Syria's capital city today.

********

"Driven by a hatred not just for the West but for Syria’s ancient and tolerant culture"

"We want you to stop protecting the rebels so that we can return to our own country."

I disagree with a handful of the author's statements, but much of what he writes is so important I'm not going to rain on his parade by wrangling over points that have no clear resolution at this time anyhow. Also see his latest dispatch from Syria, February 7, for the Daily Mail.      

The only way to stem this tide is to stop our Middle East meddling: In a haunting dispatch from Syria, PETER OBORNE reveals the real reason the refugees keep coming

By PETER OBORNE IN DAMASCUS FOR THE DAILY MAIL

PUBLISHED: 18:49 EST, 4 September 2015 | UPDATED: 19:15 EST, 4 September 2015

[...]

The story of the Kurdi family is, despite the unthinkable scale of their suffering, little different from that of hundreds of thousands of other victims of the unspeakablydfh cruel Syrian civil conflict.

Until very recently visitors could travel with complete safety to Syria. I have in front of me the Bradt travel guide (2nd edition 2010) to the country. 

It says, "Syria is probably one of the safest countries in the world. Violence or petty crime towards foreigners is virtually non-existent ..."

However, over the past five years it has suffered an orgy of violence on a scale unprecedented in history — and this, remember, is a nation whose capital, Damascus, was devastated by Genghis Khan’s Mongols eight centuries ago.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and six million of Syria’s estimated 22 million population forced to flee from their homes, many (like the Kurdi family) in terrifying circumstances.

Certainly Syria’s president Bashar Assad is a dictator who ruthlessly suppressed dissent. But he ruled over a secular state that protected minorities —– Christians, his own Alawite religion, Druze and others.  

The revolt against Assad began in the spring of 2011 and at first met with bloody suppression. 

Western nations believed the rebels were fighting for freedom and quickly gave their support. But it soon became clear that the rebellion was not being led by the moderate groups favoured by Britain but had been taken over by Al Qaeda and jihadist groups driven by a hatred not just for the West but for Syria’s ancient and tolerant culture.

I am writing this from the heart of the Christian quarter in the old city of Damascus, a stone’s throw from Narrow Street along which it is recorded in the Bible that St Paul walked.

From where I am sitting I can hear a battle going on. Overhead I am frequently deafened by the screech of Assad’s Mig fighters bombing rebel forces who hold part of the suburb of Jobar. The rebels are reciprocating by lobbing mortars into the Old Town, and I can hear their regular thud as I write.

One fell on the street neighbouring my hotel, causing a blast that shook the building and the table I am writing on.

If such rebel groups win their battle they have vowed to destroy one of the oldest centres of Christianity in the world and drive out every last Christian or behead those who stay. They have destroyed the ancient centre of the northern town of Aleppo and are uprooting and destroying the historic city of Palmyra, one of the greatest architectural treasures on Earth.

The aim of the jihadists who make up the bulk of the rebels is to expunge the rich and ancient civilisation of Syria.

This is a global tragedy. We are not talking merely of a humanitarian disaster on a magnitude no one can fully comprehend, we are also talking of the destruction of one of the greatest civilisations in the world and its replacement by a narrow, intolerant, dogmatic mutation of Islam.

Aylan and Galip Kurdi are just two of countless victims of this foul and evil vision.

Of course the people who bear the direct responsibility are the fighters — ISIS and the other jihadist groups along with their sponsors in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and some of the Gulf States.

It is true that President Assad’s armed forces have committed terrible atrocities. However it has to be acknowledged that he is fighting in defence of an ancient civilisation.

We in Britain also carry our own share of responsibility. The chaos which has overtaken Syria, and which has unleashed a flood of refugees to the West, can be traced back 12 years to the Western invasion of Iraq.   

George W Bush and Tony Blair’s misguided intervention has led to a torrent of genocide in the region, first inflicted by Al Qaeda in Iraq and now taken forward with the rise of ISIS.

ISIS has taken full advantage of the collapse of government created by the chaos in Iraq to wage their bestial war against the Syrian people. Much of Iraq and Syria has already been turned into war zones. It is becoming increasingly likely that Lebanon, Egypt and other major states in the region will suffer exactly the same fate.

In other words the waves of refugees originating from Syria, innocent victims of a conflict they did nothing to create, may well be just the beginning.

Britain, Europe and the West are now facing the largest movement of peoples since the end of World War II if not before. We face as a nation and as a continent a grave moral decision on how to deal with the consequences of our own actions.

This is not merely true of the Middle East, which has been the source of the recent migration crisis. It also applies to the intervention by Britain and France in Libya four years ago.

There is no question that David Cameron and President Sarkozy of France acted from the best of motives when they ordered bombing raids on Gaddafi forces. But the fall of the Gaddafi regime had consequences that the British Prime Minister palpably failed to see. Libya has now turned into an ungoverned space dominated by war lords and jihadist groups including ISIS.

The collapse of authority and the disintegration of its borders after Colonel Gaddafi’s departure opened the way for another massive wave of migration through the country from north, central and even southern Africa, across the Mediterranean to Southern Italy.

Like Iraq, the intervention in Libya has had the most profound consequences which naïve politicians such as Tony Blair and David Cameron failed to foresee.

Today we live in a changed world. Yesterday I spoke by email to one of the lucky Syrian migrants who made his way successfully to Europe.

Abdullah told me how he had lived in a middle-class Damascus suburb called Jaramana. Abdullah, 35, made a decent living as a cloth merchant. But his business collapsed at the start of the civil war and rebel forces threatened his safety.

He told me how he made contact with people smugglers from the Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt. He made his way to the north-eastern border of Syria where he paid 70 dollars to a guide to take him across a minefield and over the border to Turkey.

He spent a month in Istanbul, wasting 1,000 Euros on a people smuggler who promised him a journey to Europe that never came. Eventually he made his way to Greece and now has a safe haven in Sweden.

I asked him who he holds responsible for the plight of Syria. He told me: "I blame the rebels because they caused the problems and I blame the government because they could not protect us."

What message did he have for David Cameron? "My message to Cameron and Obama is this: We were living in a good situation. But you helped to cause the problem for us. We want you to stop protecting the rebels so that we can return to our own country.” 

The justice of what he is saying is undeniable. The terrible civil war in Syria has been fuelled by interventions from neighbouring countries, each with their own objectives.

Iran and Russia are throwing their weight behind the Assad regime, while Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States back the jihadists (probably including ISIS). For the Saudis, longstanding enemies of the Syrian government, the campaign against President Assad has some of the characteristics of a vendetta.

And there is no easy solution to this terrible conflict. It is too late to halt the wave of refugees pouring out of Syria, at least in the short term. If this most gruesome and tragic situations is ever to be resolved, all of the neighbouring nations must cease to meddle with fragile and beautiful Syria.

But there is a powerful lesson for the West as well. Our reckless attempts to shape the Middle East by intervening with guns and bombs have caused nothing but chaos and murder.

It is idle to pretend that there will not be thousands more tragedies like the story of poor Alan Kurdi and his family. But if the suffering is end, the strategy has to change.

Above all, we must tackle the insidious influence of Saudi Arabia, which enjoys a cosy relationship with the West even as it sponsors the spread of Islamic fanaticism across the globe.

It is our ‘allies’ the Saudis who were behind the rise of Al Qaeda in the run-up to 9/11 and who helped fund them long afterwards. They have encouraged Islamists and terrorists to brutalise countries like Syria and purge them of their secular tolerance and of religions like Christianity.

The West must now bring massive diplomatic pressure to bear on Saudi Arabia — which despite being a Muslim country, has accepted no Syrian refugees — to crush ISIS and other fanatical groups fighting for control of Syria.

Only when the Saudis and other Gulf states do so can the Syrians hope to achieve peace. They must be allowed to shape their own future — in the absence of calamitous military intervention from the West and the butchers sponsored by Saudi Arabia’s corrupt leaders.

[END]

Erdogan steamed at U.S. envoy meeting with Kurds in Kobani

Erdogan furious over US visit to YPG in Kobani
By News Desk - 08/02/2016
AMN
Press TV have reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been irked by a US envoy’s meeting with Syrian Kurds in the Syrian border town of Kobani, warning the US to choose either Ankara or the “terrorists” in the town as its ally.

Last week, senior US diplomat Brett McGurk, along with a delegation, met members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is in control of strategic Kobani.
Erdogan reacted to the visit on Sunday, saying, “Is it me who is your partner or the terrorists in Kobani?” in a question apparently addressed to the US.
Well if you put it that way....

There's more to the report. [smiling] Party on.  

*******

Terrorists Fleeing Battlefields as Syrian Army Advances in Aleppo Province

Yet more war news from FARS:
Mon Feb 08, 2016 - 1:10

TEHRAN (FNA)- Hundreds of Takfiri terrorists have fled the battlefields in Aleppo province, mainly in the Northern territories, to save their lives after losing vast grounds and dozens of their comrades in the Syrian army's massive operations, sources said Monday.
"The terrorists have sustained heavy losses as the Syrian army is hunting them down in the Northern part of Aleppo province," the sources said.

"Tens of terrorists have been killed and dozens more have been injured in heavy clashes with the Syrian troops in Northern Aleppo in the past four days as the army conducted massive assaults to win back more villages and towns in the region," they further added.

On Sunday, the Syrian air force crushed militants' positions and their gatherings around the town of Bashkoy Northwest of Aleppo province.

Military sources said the militants sustained heavy casualties and huge damage on their military grid during the airstrikes.

In a separate round of air assaults over militant-controlled areas in Kefr Hamra in the Northern parts of the province, scores of militants lost their lives.

Syrian army forces also hit the Takfiri militants on the ground, as clashes broke out between pro-government forces and ISIL terrorists around Tayibeh in the Western parts of Aleppo province. The militants sustained heavy losses and huge damage on their arms and vehicles in the attack, initial army reports said.

Meantime, as the clashes were going on, Syrian Artillery units pounded several sites of the ISIL terrorists and blocked their movements in the region.

Also on Sunday, Syrian warplanes, in surgical attacks over militant-held areas, targeted their positions across the town of Azaz and destroyed many of their military hardware including dozens of heavy-machine-gun-equipped vehicles in Kafr Hamra, and several ISIL vehicles carrying militants in roads leading to Hayyan, Anadan, and, Hraytan.

[END REPORT]

And yet more war news from FARS:

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