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Friday, December 2

Sochta Hoon Ke Woh Kitne Masoom Te

In this qawwali the poet struggles to find ways to describe what he has glimpsed of the beauty of God. The transfixing power of the singers and musicians gathered here is that through their song they raise the ordinary man to the exalted. That is Sufism.

Thanks to Chandala gujrat for posting to YouTube this performance by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Company. Lyrics provided by Muhammed Atif Suleman at YouTube

"Sochta hoon ki wo kitne te" (te is written below as "the")
Jaane wale Hamari mehfil se Chand taron ko saath leta ja Hum khizaon se nibah kar lenge Tu baharon ko saath leta ja Achchi soorat ko sawarne ki zaroorat kya hai Saadgi mein bhi kayamat ki Ada hoti hai Tum Jo aa jaate ho masjid mein Ada Karne namaaz Tumko maaloom hai kitnon ki kaza hoti hai Koi hasse to tujhe gham lage Khushi na lage Ki dillagi bhi tere dil ko Dillagi na lage Tu roz roya kare uth ke Chand raton mein Khuda Kare Tera mere bagair ji na lage Tanhai mein faryaad to kar sakta hoon Veerane ko aabad to kar sakta hoon Jab cha hoon tumhein mil nahi sakta Lekin Jab chahoon tumhein yaad to kar sakta hoon Koi bhi waqt ho has kar guzar leta hoon Khizan ke daur mein ehde bahar leta hoon Gulon se rang sitaron se roshni lekar Jamaal e yaar ka naksha utar leta hoon Uske nazdeek gham e tark e wafa kuch bhi nahi Mutmayin aise hai wo jaise hua kuch bhi nahi Ab to hathon se lakeeren bhi miti jaati hain Usko khokar to mere pass raha kuch bhi nahi Kal bicharna hai to phir ehde wafa soch ke bandh Abhi aagaz e mohabbat hai gaya kuch bhi nahi Main to is waaste chup hoon ki tamasha na bane Tu samajhta hai mujhe tujhse gila kuch bhi nahi Sochta hoon ke woh kitne masoom the Kya se kya ho gaye dekhte dekhte Maine patthar se jinko banaya sanam Wo khuda ho gaye dekhte dekhte Jin pattharon ko humne ata ki thi dhadkane Wo bolne lage to humhi pe baras pare Mere hathon se tarashe hue patthar ke sanam Mere samne hi bhagwan bane baithe hain Hashar hai wahshat e dil ki awargi Humse poocho mohabbat ki deewangi Jo pata poochte the kisi ka bhi Lapata ho gaye dekhte dekhte Humse ye soch kar koi wada karo Ek waade pe umrein guzar jayeng Ye hai duniya yahan kitne ehle wafa Bewafa ho gaye dekhte dekhte Din chup gaya suraj ka kahin naam nahin hai O wada shikan ab bhi teri shaam nahi hai O wada shikan... Shab e wada ye raha karti hain batein dil se Dekhein yaar aata hai pehle ki kaza aati hai Kal se bekal hoon main bhala khaak mujhe kal aaye Kal ka waada tha na wo aaj aaye na wo kal aaye Roz ka intezaar kaun kare Aap ka aitbaar kaun Kare Ho chuka wada ki kab aayiyega Dekhiye ab na bhool jayiyega Bhala koi wada khilafi bhi hadd hai Hisab apne dil mein laga kar to socho Kayamat ka din aa gaya rafta rafta Mulakat ka din badalte badalte Humse ye Soch kar koi wada karo Ek waade pe umrein guzar jayengi Ye hai duniya yahan kitne aehle wafa Bewafa ho gaye dekhte dekhte Gair ki baat tasleem kya kijiye Ab to khud par bhi humko bharosa nahi Apna saaya samajhte the jinko kabhi Wo juda ho gaye dekhte dekhte


Thursday, December 1

For 9 months a French activist has been observing Aleppo first-hand. What he learned deserves to be heard.

According to Le Corf, many people are starting to understand that everything they have been told about the Syrian war was not reality but a "well-developed media construction." In the near future, media will face the "lack of arguments" because there will be evidence from local residents.

See Sputnik France for the print interview in French.
See YouTube for the interview (in French)

Liberation of Eastern Aleppo: Media "Will Soon Face the Lack of Argument"
4:03 30.11.2016 (updated 21:54 30.11.2016) 

[see website for photos of W. Aleppo taken by Pierre Le Corf]

Part of eastern Aleppo has been completely liberated from terrorists. In an interview with Sputnik France, Pierre Le Corf, founder of an NGO working in the city, said that mainstream media will soon face the "lack of arguments" in the context of the Aleppo liberation.

After long months under control of jihadists, a populated area with 90,000 residents in eastern Aleppo was completely liberated by the Syrian Army on Tuesday.

Over the recent months, Aleppo has been a major battleground in Syria, engaging government forces, jihadists, and numerous opposition groups. Eastern Aleppo is held by militants, encircled by government forces, and the fighting has affected thousands of civilians still trapped in the city. 

Pierre Le Corf, founder of the NGO called "We are superheroes," has been witnessing the horrors of the war for over nine months. He is the only French national living in western Aleppo where his organization has been helping people affected by the war.

According to Le Corf, the liberation of eastern Aleppo is "really good news."

He added that the liberation of these districts indicates that the war is accelerating as well as the peaceful process. 
"A large part of eastern Aleppo has been liberated. This means that the war is accelerating but the peaceful process is accelerating too. A lot of people were forced to leave the east part of the city, but they didn’t escape from Aleppo. They went through fighting, bullets and mined areas to come here [western Aleppo]," he told Sputnik France.

It is especially important, Le Corf underscored, that there are people who were really happy to escape from eastern Aleppo.
"They told us about what happened there. They told about the situation in the eastern part of the city, including rationing, tortures and prisons. I’m really happy to see that the situation is getting better due to the army’s humanitarian efforts. Of course, there are civilian victims. But this is reality, this is war. However a lot of people have been saved recently," Le Corf said.

He met with 50 or 60 families who lived in eastern Aleppo in recent months. They managed to escape and told Le Corf about living in the east under the rule of terrorists.

"But those I met in recent days were really happy. Whole families were happy. These people couldn’t hide their happiness and cried," he said. According to Le Corf currently there is no warring party that would "bring democracy" to Aleppo.
"People are leaving eastern Aleppo. And in western Aleppo people are killed by militants operating in the western part of the City. There will be a moment when media and government fueling this conflict will not be able to do that. This is because there are thousands of refugees who can tell the truth about what is happening in Syria," he said.
According to Le Corf, many people are starting to understand that everything they have been told about the Syrian war was not reality but a "well-developed media construction." In the near future, media will face the "lack of arguments" because there will be evidence from local residents.
"Media continue to use its business model. It invents stories about warplanes dropping bombs on civilians for no reason. But there will come a day when mainstream media will face the lack of arguments because people living here and the situation on the ground will turn against those arguments," he concluded.



Latest Syrian War sitrep by province, from FARS

Below, a map of Syria's 14 governorates (provinces or states); the spelling of the governorates varies in maps and news accounts; e.g., "Hims" = Homs; Dayr Az-Zawar = Deir Ezzor. (I have no idea why this map labels the Aleppo governorate as "Halab," which seems to simply mean "Aleppo" in Arabic.)

Today FARS published a sitrep for the past 24 hours that covers hotly contested Syrian regions, and incudes an extensive discussion of the situation in Aleppo. But the FARS sitrep repeats much about Aleppo that was published in earlier FARS reports, which I've been reposting. 

So I'm going to post just that part of the sitrep that deals with other provinces, although at the end I've included a separate FARS report about the latest SAA victories in E. Aleppo.  

For readers who haven't been paying attention during the past 24-48 hours to events in Aleppo, by all means read the Aleppo part of the sitrep.

Thu Dec 01, 2016 - 1:30 [local time]
Syria in Last 24 Hours: Army Regains Control over More Strategic Regions in Aleppo City


A senior official at Syria's National Reconciliation Ministry said the ceasefire agreements signed between the militant groups and the government in various parts of Damascus province, including those in Khan al-Sheih in Western Ghouta, has increased the chance for the start of peace agreements in Quneitra province.

Mohammad Nader al-Amri underlined that the peace plan in Daraya paved the ground for its implementation in other parts of Damascus, adding that efforts are underway to persuade terrorists to leave al-Tal town in the Northern parts of Damascus.

He said despite the fact that the terrorist groups, specially al-Nusra Front (recently renamed to Fatah al-Sham Front), prevented implementation of the peace plan in Quneitra, reconciliation in Khan al-Sheih and the nearby areas will remove the obstacles to the implementation of the plan in the Southern province of Quneitra as well.


The Syrian army seized full control over the strategic region of Tal al-Ain in the Northern parts of Dara'a province.

Tal al-Ain, located between the two towns of al-Faqi'e and al-Dalli in the Southern parts of Jassim city, was set free from the terrorist groups' control on Wednesday.

The Syrian army units retook full control of Tal al-Ain after the militants withdrew from their positions and fled the battle field.

According to military sources, the Syrian army and its allies will soon start operations to liberate Jassim city.


The Syrian air force continued operations against Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) terrorists in the Northern parts of Hama, destroying their bases and military equipment and inflicting heavy casualties on them.

The Syrian fighter jets launched airstrikes on the gathering centers and moves of Fatah al-Sham and other affiliated groups in Taybat al-Imam, al-Lataminah, Jeni al-Albawi, Sakik, Northern al-Ma'an, North of Kafar Zita and al-Sayyad in the Northern parts of Hama.

During the operations, tens of terrorists, including their commanders, were killed and wounded and their hideouts and military vehicles were smashed.

The Syrian warplanes also pounded Fatah al-Sham, Jeish al-Izza and Jeish al-Nusra terrorist groups' strongholds in Ma'arkaba, al-Zalaqiyat, Northern Halfaya and Zor Abuzaid in Northern Hama, killing dozens of militants and blowing up their military vehicles.


The Syrian army forces continued advance in the Eastern parts of Damascus and retook control of the strategic town of al-Meida'ani.

The Syrian army units clashed with Jeish al-Islam terrorists inside al-Meida'ani town after the air force pounded the militants' positions in Eastern Ghouta of Damascus and could regain full control of the town.

During the operations, a large number of Jeish al-Islam terrorists fled to areas outside the town.

Also, military sources reported that the Syrian army has seized control of over 45 points and 8 tunnel networks of Jeish al-Islam.

After controlling al-Meida'ani, the Syrian forces also established their military control over Hawsh al-Shalaq village.

The army troops are planning to take control of al-Reihan and Shifouniyeh towns in Eastern Ghouta to get closer to Douma now.

Deir Ezzur

Tens of ISIL oil tankers were destroyed in the Syrian airstrikes in Deir Ezzur province.

The Syrian intelligence forces monitored the terrorists' moves in the Eastern parts of Deir Ezzur and the oil-rich region of al-Abed and provided the Air Force with intelligence on the whereabouts of tens of ISIL oil tanker trucks.

The Syrian fighter jets then targeted the ISIL oil tanker trucks by pounding them several times and destroyed tens of them.

Also, dozens of other oil trucks were filling their tanks when they were targeted by the Syrian warplanes.

At least 40 ISIL terrorists were killed and tens of others were wounded during the operations.


The Syrian army units, supported by the National Defense Committees, clashed with the ISIL terrorists near al-Sha'er and al-Mahr oil fields as well as Tal al-Sawanah region in the Eastern parts of Homs.

The Syrian air force and artillery units, meantime, targeted the terrorists' positions and hideouts in the region which destroyed their bases and military equipment and killed a large number of militants, including several non-Syrian terrorists.

The Syrian fighter jets also launched airstrikes against the ISIL bases in al-Sukhnah, al-Tayyebah, Talat al-Awamid and the Northern parts of al-Quaryatayn dam in the Eastern and Southeastern parts of Homs which smashed their headquarters and military vehicles and wounded tens of militants.

The air force also targeted the bases of Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front), Rajalallah and Ahrar al-Sham terrorist groups in al-Rastan city and the two towns of Talbiseh and Tir Ma'alah as well as al-Qajar, al-Qanto, al-Sam'alil and Tal Zahab in the Northern and Northwestern parts of Homs, blowing up their bases and inflicted tens of casualties on them, including their commanders.

Informed military sources said on Monday that the Syrian warplanes struck an important meeting of Ahrar al-Sham commanders in the Northern part of Homs province.

"Ahrar al-Sham commanders had a gathered in a military base near the terrorist-controlled Al-Rastan region in Northern Homs province when their meeting came under the Syrian airstrikes," a Syrian military source said.

The source noted that as a result of the Syrian fighter jets' raids at least five terrorist commanders were killed and 15 others were wounded.

Several notorious terrorists, including Muhammad Al-Hosn from Iraq, Bilal Al-Daher, and Muhammad Al-Mahmoud were among the terrorists killed in Northern Homs province. A military vehicle parked outside the building was also destroyed in the air raid.

URGENT: Terrorists Falling Apart in Eastern Aleppo, Youth Housing Complex Freed; December 1, 2016 - 12:14 [local time]; FARS:
The Syrian Army and popular forces captured a strategic region in the Southern parts of Eastern Aleppo on Wednesday to continue their unexpected high-speed advances that herald a complete clampdown on terrorists in the war-ravaged city.
The army troops and popular forces that earned sweeping victories over the terrorists in 16 districts in a matter of only 72 hours and captured the Northern half of the Eastern Aleppo shifted Southward and gained control over al-Sakan al-Shababi (Youth Housing Complex) with the first push on Wednesday night.
The terrorist groups had relocated tens of their fighters from other fronts to al-Sakan al-Shababi, al-Halwaniyeh and al-Sha'ar districts that are the gates to the South, but failed to block or slow down the momentum of the pro-government troops' rapid advance that has just gathered pace.
As pro-government forces advanced in militant-held regions of al-Halwaniyeh and al-Sha'ar regions, a large number of terrorists retreated in chaos, requesting amnesty from Damascus or safe relocation to Idlib.

Free, free at last

Yesterday I published a couple photos showing thousands of E. Aleppo residents gathered at Syrian Army checkpoints after they fled the terrorists, but I wanted to include this one, provided by AMN. The young man's smile mirrored the one in my heart, as the news reports began rolling in about the lighting-like liberation of many areas of E. Aleppo.    

Over 6,000 civilians leave Aleppo in last 24 hours
By Paul Antonopoulos
November 30, 2016
AMN (Al-Masdar News)

A total of 6,020 civilians have evacuated the blocked neighbourhoods of Aleppo in the last 24 hours the the Russian Defense Ministry reported on Wednesday.

Of the evacuated civilians, 3,113 were children. All civilians left with the help of the Russian Center for Reconciliation.

"Outlets with hot meals and necessities continue to work for civilians leaving Aleppo's districts controlled by illegal armed groups," the defense ministry said.

The informational bulletin released by the Russian reconciliation center says that one humanitarian event was held in Syria over the last 24 hours — in the district of Hai al-Sahur in Aleppo and in the Al-Mahalej refugee camp in the Aleppo province, TASS reported.



Hello, UN, Castello Road is now completely clear for aid deliveries to E. Aleppo (UPDATED 7:48am EST)

I have added the last two paragraphs in the following report, which I'd inadvertently omitted in the first posting, and which relate to the terrorists' use of 'homemade' chemical weapons in E. Aleppo.

We'll see what excuse the United Nations comes up with next. For now:
"Only road" to deliver aid to eastern Aleppo liberated – Russian MoD
Published time: 30 Nov, 2016 14:54 Edited time: 15:47


The Castello Road, viewed by many in the media as the “only way” to deliver humanitarian aid to the Syrian city of Aleppo, has been liberated by the Syrian Army, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

“As a result of effective actions by the Syrian government forces, the Castello Road is now completely liberated. Thus, there are no impediments for humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people of Aleppo,” the head of operations for Russia’s General Staff, General Lieutenant Sergey Rudskoy, announced on Wednesday.

The route, which has been dubbed “death road” and the “only secure route into eastern Aleppo” by the western media, has been cited as one of the main obstacles for UN aid to be brought into eastern Aleppo.

The organization said that since July, when fighting between government forces and militants in the Syrian city intensified, its workers were unable to help civilians in eastern Aleppo, as the crucial road to reach them was cut off.

“Following recent developments, the Castello Road can be used for aid deliveries to eastern Aleppo without any limitations, or any further special talks or agreements. Whenever humanitarian workers are ready, they can use the road,” Russia’s envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin told reporters, as cited by RIA Novosti.

The situation in areas of Aleppo which have been seized back by Assad forces is dire, the Russian Defense ministry said. While leaving the neighborhoods, the rebels disrupted all communications and utility systems, leaving civilians without water and electricity.

[Pundita Note: The Syrian government is also getting the electricity and water pumps working again after the army cleared out the terrorists. See this report at SANA.]

Engineer units of the Syrian Army have “immediately” started to de-mine the areas, Rudskoy informed, saying that in some neighborhoods, public water supply has been already restored.

The Russian military has also been deployed to restore vital infrastructure, the ministry said, adding that it aimed to provide facilities for peaceful life as soon as possible.

Russian military specialists will also examine areas where the militants may have produced chemical substances allegedly used in their attacks in Aleppo, the head of Russia’s General Staff operations told the media.

"Following a request from Syrian authorities, specialists from Russia's Defense Ministry will conduct examinations in areas of possible production and storage of chemical weapons in districts of Aleppo liberated from terrorists," Rudskoy said.

The military official added that Russian radiation, chemical and biological security specialists would be deployed following "confirmed reports" that militants used handmade chemical weapons against civilians in Aleppo.


FARS has published video of drone footage showing Castello Road after liberation and still photos of the road under repair.


Putin's annual address to Russian Federal Assembly has just concluded


See Sputnik site, link above, for live-blogging of Putin's remarks. 



Terrorists in E. Aleppo had advanced medical facilities gifted by Saudis

November 30, 2016 - 2:59 [local time]

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army troops and their allies found an advanced and fully equipped hospital and a big drug store used by the terrorists groups in Eastern Aleppo after winning control of Hanano Housing Project.

According to al-Hadath news website, the army forces discovered ECHO, MRI and other medical equipment and systems as well as a large stockpile of US-manufactured medicine and advanced labs, all made by the US, inside the hospital.

On the top of the main door of the hospital that covers an area of 1,000sq/m is written: "A gift by Bani Saud (al-Saud)".

Syrian Army troops and popular forces seized full control over the key district of Hanano Housing Project on Saturday while they continued to push Jeish al-Fatah terrorists back from more positions in the Eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo city and managed to take full control of the Northern flank of the Aleppo city's Eastern districts.



Wednesday, November 30

"Evidently a lot of media halfwits cannot read a map"

Pat Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis has made pithy comments about the current situation in E. Aleppo and the people reporting on it. Here is one passage:
The lying US and European media are, of course, portraying the situation as something very different.  In Mediaworld, the people of east Aleppo are fleeing from the government.  I ask you, pilgrims, to what place would civilians be fleeing in trying to escape the government?  The east Aleppo pocket is entirely surrounded by government allied forces.  Evidently a lot of media halfwits cannot read a map.  
Bravo, Colonel!


I interrupt the Madhouse for a Sanity Break

Do you know how many hours I've spent today following events in Syria?  Never mind. Never have I seen so many deranged governments converge on one little country, and that's not counting the loco people at the United Nations and the barking mad terrorists. 

All right; just for a few minutes, to remember what sane people are like. This qawwali, which is sung and played at breakneck speed in parts, was filmed at Bradford University in 1985. It sounds as if Ustad Nusrat or maybe the entire band is experimenting with an echo gizmo on the microphones. He doesn't need it but it's fun, and fits with the fast pace of the rendition.   


"Syrian Army Advances in South of Eastern Aleppo, Terrorists Flee"

November 30, 2016 - 4:8 [local time]

[emphasis mine]

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army troops and popular forces opened their way and gained ground in the Southern districts of Eastern Aleppo after liberating the Northern parts and fierce clashes with the terrorists as reports say militants are still on the run.

While operations in the Eastern parts of Aleppo have focused on retaking al-Sha'ar, al-Halwaniyeh and al-Sakan al-Shababi (Youth Housing Complex), the Syrian army clashed with the terrorists in these districts and could advance and inflict heavy tolls and damages on the militants.

After several hours of fierce clashes, the Syrian army could reach the gates of Sad al-Loz market at the entrance of al-Sha'ar district to pave the ground for further advance in the terrorist-held areas.

Local sources reported that a large number of terrorists have retreated to the safer zones, including al-Sokri and al-Ameriyeh, in the Southern parts of Eastern Aleppo and are asking to be given amnesty or relocation by the government after the army advanced in the region and destroyed their artilleries, missile-launchers, bases and hideouts.  

[Pundita comment: Boy, what a bunch of spoiled terrorists]

Tens of families who lived in al-Sha'ar and al-Ferdos districts in Eastern Aleppo and were used as human shields by the terrorists took the opportunity and escaped the region.

After the Syrian army retook control of all Northern parts of Eastern Aleppo city, the terrorist groups sent their forces from other fronts to al-Halwaniyeh, al-Sakan al-Shababi and al-Sha'ar districts which are considered as their defense lines in the Southern districts of Eastern Aleppo.

District after district have fallen into the hands of the Syrian army soldiers and their allies, forcing the terrorist groups to rapidly retreat to the South in order to avoid being overrun and outflanked by the pressing forces in Eastern Aleppo as the pro-government troops have already managed to take full control of the Northern flank of the Aleppo city's Eastern districts.

With recapturing the Northern part of Eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo, Syrian army forces have turned their attention to the last half of the East Aleppo pocket.

The Syrian army and its allies started on Tuesday a new phase of military operations to recapture the remaining districts in the middle and Southern parts of Eastern Aleppo.



"Over 600 Militants Left East Aleppo, Most of Them Pardoned - Russian MoD" UPDATED 10:25am EST

Update. The full report is now posted at Sputnik at the "breaking news" link below.   
Headline is breaking news via Sputnik, published 16:32 30.11.2016

"Details to follow"


"Al-Qaeda reinforcements arrive on western outskirts of Aleppo for new assaults"

By Chris Tomson
November 30, 2016
AMN (Al-Masdar News)

According to information obtained by Al-Masdar News, hundreds of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Al-Qaeda affiliate) fighters arrived from Idlib to the western Aleppo countryside on Wednesday. Syrian reconnaissance units and drones have observed extensive Islamist military build-up in the region, causing government troops to stiffen their defences of the city.

Effectively, Jaysh al-Fateh (Army of Conquest/Islamist coalition) is expected to launch renewed attacks on the densely populated government-held suburbs of western Aleppo in the coming days in a last-ditch effort to relieve besieged insurgents in eastern Aleppo.

Meanwhile, the Russian Air Force will likely increase its sorties over western Aleppo in an attempt to disrupt the upcoming jihadist offensive and reduce its initial impact.



Somebody get the hook: CIA continues to supply TOW missiles to bad guys

[Looking at her watch] Um, you wouldn't consider leaving the White House earlier than January, would you, Mr President? And taking John Brennan with you?  

November 30, 2016

A Syrian US-backed "rebel" group, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, became widely known in July after beheading a [Palestinian refugee] child near Aleppo city and posting the video of this. 

 [At the time] Nour al-Din al-Zenki was a “CIA-vetted” group and was receiving TOW missiles through the CIA program.

Initially some mainstream media attempted to defend the ... group, explaining that it was a “mistake” and an isolated case.

However, under the pressure of public opinion the US State Department was pushed to announce that the US might consider withdrawing its support from the “rebels,” if reports of the beheading of 14-year old boy were confirmed. 

[Pundita note: The video of the beheading and moments leading up to it was ample confirmation]

But subsequent developments showed that [beheading a child] was not enough reason for the CIA to withdraw its support from Nour al-Din al-Zenki.

The group continues to use US-supplied TOW missiles.

On November 21, the group’s official Twitter page released a photo of group member, using a US-supplied missile. Then “moderate rebels” published a video, confirming this.

Considering the high intensity of battles in which the group is involved in Syria (for example in Aleppo city and its countryside), there are almost no doubts that it uses the newly-delivered missiles.

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Russian, Syrian governments scramble to look after thousands of Syrian DPs (UPDATED 7:10am EST)

Busy time at the Russian Conciliation Center in Syria

Below, two views of the scene as more than 5,600 civilians in terrorist-held parts of E. Aleppo made a run for it yesterday to a military checkpoint. There were just too many for the terrorist snipers to shoot. 

From reports I reviewed this morning, I am getting the impression that the Russian and Syrian governments were caught a little flat-footed by the blinding speed with which East Aleppo and other regions are being liberated by the Syrian Army coalition. 

In any case, they're rushing to provide housing, food, medical care and other aid to the tide of displaced persons flooding en masse into areas now cleared of terrorists. Here, two November 29 reports from SANA, Syria's state news agency, on the situation, and one filed today from SouthFront, which couldn't resist thumbing its nose at the West:

 ... "During the past day 5,629 civilians, including 2,855 children, left the militants-controlled areas in the eastern part of the city of Aleppo, with the assistance of the Russian Center of reconciliation,” spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, said.
Konashenkov added that the people are being placed in special humanitarian centers prepared by the Syrian government. Russia assists in the effort with supplies of food, daily necessities, and medicine.
Russia delivers 10 tons of humanitarian aid to areas in Hama, Homs and Aleppo
Moscow, SANA – The Hmeimim-based Russian Coordination Center announced that Moscow has delivered about 10 tons of humanitarian aid to areas in Hama, Homs, and Aleppo provinces.
The Center said in a statement that it delivered about 7 tons of aid in Jibrin village in the eastern countryside of Aleppo and 2.5 tons in Assila village in Hama province and about one ton in Kafr Abed village in Homs province.
On Sunday, the Center said that it started preparing humanitarian aid to be delivered to the areas in the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo city where terrorists were expelled.
H. Zain/ H. Said
Thousands of locals exit eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo and are escorted to safety
Aleppo, SANA – Large numbers of locals who were besieged by terrorists managed to exit the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo city on Tuesday.
SANA’s correspondent quoted a source at Aleppo Governorate as saying that thousands of families managed to exit the eastern neighborhoods, and Syrian Arab Army personnel are receiving them and transporting them to safety, while the authorities at the Governorate are securing the needs for providing temporary residence to those families.
On Monday, army units secured the exit of thousands of locals from the eastern neighborhoods, most of them women and children, transporting them to temporary housing centers, all while the army continues to carry out precise operations to clear the eastern neighborhoods of terrorists in a manner that preserves the lives of civilians and helps evacuate them.
So far, the Syrian Arab Army has restored security and stability to the areas of the Scientific Research Housings, al-Haidariye, al-Sakhour, al-Inzarat, al-Sheikh Khedr, Jabal Badro, and al-Halk in Aleppo city.
See also: President Putin orders sending mobile hospitals to Aleppo to provide medical assistance to civilians; November 29, SANA


Russia to deliver 100,000 tonnes of wheat to Syria; November 29, AMN

UN, Western regimes and NGOs spitting mad at Syrian Army victories in Aleppo

The headlines are from Middle East Eye reports:

UN says 16,000 flee east Aleppo amid 'chilling' army onslaught

France calls for immediate UN Security Council meeting on Aleppo

Leading Merkel ally urges sanctions against ‘Russian henchmen’ over Syria

Battle for Aleppo: Chaos in the streets as civilians flee army onslaught

Although a stated non-government website that claims to be an independent source for Middle East news, the Wikipedia listing of Middle East Eye's main contributors, director and editor suggest to me that the publication is oriented to the Gulf Arab viewpoint.

While it's not unethical for a news organization to have a viewpoint, a November 29 report from MEE, Syrian forces storm southeast Aleppo as UN warns of rebel capitulation, does not represent a point of view. It represents wild lies that could only be believed by readers who are know virtually nothing about what's happening in Syria -- and are unaware of the propaganda war being waged against the Syrian government by Nato, EU, Turkish, and Gulf Arab governments and their press sympathizers and mouthpieces. 

The report and the sources it quotes stands the entire situation in E. Aleppo on its head. For example, MEE portrays civilians fleeing their terrorist captors as actually fleeing the Syrian army. The most egregious statements in the report:
Zouhir al-Shimale, an MEE contributor in Sakhur, eastern Aleppo, said residents were bombed by Syrian forces as they tried to flee on foot from the Bab al-Nairab area into government-held territory.
Shimale said the attack killed 28 civilians, including many women and children. The civil defence White Helmets separately put the toll at 25.
Why the SAA should kill women and children fleeing toward them, especially when the air force is now bombing with pinpoint accuracy (due to their use of drone technology), is beyond me. Moreover, the Syrian government is bending over backward to protect civilians in the region.

As to the White Helmets -- no credible news organization would quote statistics provided by the group, given all that's now known about them. (For one detailed analysis of White Helmets propaganda, see Gareth Porter's November 28 report for Alternet, 
How a Syrian White Helmets Leader Played Western Media.) 

And there is not one terrorist or 'jihadist' in E. Aleppo as MEE tells it; there are only "rebels."

The report also unquestioningly passes along a Human Rights Watch comment about the language in a leaflet dropped on E. Aleppo by the Syrian military that's clearly aimed at terrorist fighters there. HRW portrays the language as threatening civilians with annihilation if they don't leave the area. The accusation could be called ridiculous if it wasn't grotesque.

Yet whatever I could say in criticism of MEE's reportage, the list of headlines it currently features about Syria shows it's in large company when it comes to pushing lies about events in Aleppo.


And what of Raqqa?

ISIL's [Islamic State] Religious Emir Gunned Down by Unknown Assailants in Raqqa City
November 29, 2016 - 8:17 [local time]

TEHRAN (FNA)- The religious emir of the ISIL terrorist group was shot dead by unidentified assailants in the city of Raqqa on Tuesday.

Abu Amineh Halabi, ISIL's religious commander, was gunned down by armed men using handguns equipped with silencers, Ara news website reported.

Five masked men in a car shot at Halabi several times in the Eastern part of Sharakseh district and escaped the scene after killing infamous leader.

ISIL's Hasaba (monitoring-security system) forces immediately cordoned off the area after Halabi was killed.

Raqqa city is considered the ISIL's self-proclaimed de facto capital alongside Mosul in Iraq.

The city is under attack by different factions and from different directions.

The predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared the start of their 'Euphrates Rage Operation' to capture Raqqa on November 6.

The Kurdish fighters also warned Raqqa residents to stay away from the terrorists and urged all civilians to move to the territories freed from ISIL.

The Syrian army has also started taking initial steps to beat back the ISIL terrorists from Raqqa from at least three different directions. The army is now engaged in battle with ISIL over the town of Al-Bab in Northeastern Aleppo province and plans to win back the town of Deir Hafer next to open[ing] its path towards Raqqa. It also started to advance towards the ISIL's self-proclaimed capital from Hama province months ago, but it stopped the operation after its forces came under attack by ISIL's chemically-armed munitions. 

The army is also said to be working on a third front to approach Raqqa from the South and through Northern Homs.



Tuesday, November 29

President Putin orders sending mobile hospitals for civilians to Aleppo

Why haven't European, Saudi, and U.S. regimes sent mobile hospitals to Aleppo given their vaunted concern for the medical needs of the civilians?  [shrug] 

President Putin orders sending mobile hospitals to Aleppo to provide medical assistance to civilians
November 29, 2016

Moscow, SANA- Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov announced on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the Ministries of Defense and Emergency Situations to send mobile hospitals to provide medical assistance to residents of Aleppo and residential areas near it.

Peskov told reporters in Moscow that President Putin has ordered to provide mobile hospitals and to transport them to Syria in order to provide full medical assistance to all needy residents of Aleppo as soon as possible.

He added that this task should be implemented as soon as possible, pointing out that the Russian Defense Ministry will send a specialized medical team along with multidisciplinary hospitals with a capacity of up to 100 beds and equipment for treating children, and with the ability to serve about 420 patients per day.

Peskov added that the Emergency Situations Ministry will also deploy a 50-bed mobile hospital that is capable of treating 200 patients each day.

For his part, a source at Emergency Situations Ministry said it will dispatch an airmobile hospital and doctors from its Tsentrospas rescue team to provide medical assistance to residents of Aleppo and nearby areas on November 30th, adding that it will be deployed in the vicinity of Aleppo to provide highly-qualified, high-tech medical assistance to residents.

Earlier today, Peskov affirmed that Russia is exchanging opinions on the situation in Aleppo mainly with Syria’s legitimate authorities.

“As regards Aleppo, certainly there is an exchange of views via different channels, but mainly the discussion is being held with the legitimate Syrian authorities,” Peskov told reporters when asked whether discussions were held with the Western partners on the development of the situation in Aleppo.

Peskov pointed out that the Kremlin continues to work with the US President Barack Obama’s administration and that he did not establish any contact with the team of US President-elect Donald Trump on Syria yet, and it does not have any plans in this regard now, explaining that Trump hasn’t yet formed his team and anyway the Obama as is still the current peer-President of Vladimir Putin.

He added that President Putin and US President-elect Trump share the outlines of their foreign policy approaches despite differences on details.

Manar al-Freih / Hazem Sabbagh



"Chaos Reported among Terrorist Groups in Eastern Aleppo"

Rough translation of black turban's end of the conversation:
"The cavalry isn't coming, you idiot." 

FARS - 3:44pm [local time]

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army's rapid advances in the Eastern districts of Aleppo has perplexed the terrorist groups and created chaos among them.

The Syrian government's tapping of contacts and radio exchanges between the terrorists in and outside Aleppo showed that the militants who are stationed outside the city are asking their comrades to reconstruct their lines immediately to prevent any further collapse.


The Russian Defense Ministry's Peace Cooperation Center in Syria said Sunday that infighting between terrorist groups in Aleppo has intensified as militants are trying to prevent other comrades from leaving the Syrian city.

Clashes between militant groups have intensified because some militants, who are controlling Eastern Aleppo, wanted to leave the city but were encountered by the most hardline groups," the center's statement added.

An informed source in Eastern Aleppo also said last Saturday that Fatah al-Sham Front (previously known as the al-Nusra Front) terrorist group was in dire conditions and trying to persuade civilians to join them to slow down the Syrian army's devastating advances in the region.

Local sources in Eastern Aleppo have also reported that the terrorists have lost confidence in their commanders after their repeated unfulfilled promises on breaking the army's siege and their morale has weakened after heavy defeats and sustaining abundant casualties and damages.

After continued defeats and nearly two months of insistence on remaining in the city and rejecting the army's several chances to leave Eastern Aleppo with their weapons, terrorists are now facing the realities of war as their comrades' massive attacks on the city to break the army's several-month-long siege have all ended up in fiasco.


Meantime, images released from Eastern Aleppo displayed that the civilians who sought to leave the region with the help of the Syrian army were attacked by the terrorist groups.

The civilians sought to flee the Eastern districts of Aleppo with the help of the Syrian forces after the terrorists fled the Sakhor region, but militant snipers didn’t allow them to leave the region towards the government-controlled areas.

The Syrian army started special operations in Aleppo after several humanitarian pauses declared by Damascus and Moscow to give a chance to the civilian population as well as the militants to leave the Eastern parts of the city through 8 corridors, and managed to take full control of the Northern flank of the Aleppo city's Eastern districts.

The army units have taken back 20 square kilometers of the total 45 square kilometers of Eastern Aleppo while scores of terrorists were killed and wounded in tough battle with the Syrian army soldiers.

Thousands of civilians, including hundreds of children and newborn babies, have also left the Eastern part of the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo in recent days.

Meanwhile, hundreds of militants laid down their arms and left Eastern Aleppo through the special corridors.


Below, more headlines from FARS today and one from SouthFront:


Terrorists in Eastern Aleppo Threaten al-Muhaysini to Leave War 
TEHRAN (FNA)- Terrorist commanders stationed in the Eastern parts of Aleppo have threatened Abdullah Muhammad al-Muhaysini, a senior al Qaeda-linked cleric and the religious leader of Jeish al-Fatah coalition of terrorist groups, that they will be forced to give up fight and surrender the city to the army in the next two days if not rescued from outside.
According to al-Mayadeen news channel, also a number of terrorists have called for the Syrian government's green buses to take them to other regions.
Other reports also said that a number of militants accuse their comrades of withdrawing support for them, saying that they have left for the Northern parts of Aleppo to fight for Turkey in return for $200 payments.
 Terrorists Fleeing Eastern Aleppo in Large Numbers 

Syrian Army Takes Full Control of Eastern Aleppo's Northern Flank

Aleppo City: Syrian Army Kicks Off New Military Operation to Fully Recapture Eastern Districts


The Peacemaker

Photograph accompanying a report at FARS about the growing success of the Syrian government's reconcilliation plan.


Reconciliation Plan Joined by Over 1,000 Syrian Regions

November 29, 2016 - 5:54 [local time]

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria announced that many more towns and regions have joined Syria's Reconciliation Plan over the past 24 hours, pushing the overall number of those towns and regions that have endorsed the peace agreement to exceed 1,000.

The Russian Peace Coordination Center in Syria announced on Tuesday that militants in 17 more towns have laid down arms and signed peace agreement with Damascus in last 24 hours.

"The total number of the towns and regions joining the national reconciliation plan in Syria now stands at 1,003," the Russian Center said.

The Russian Center in Syria announced on Sunday that militants in eight more towns in the two provinces of Damascus and Lattakia had laid down arms and signed peace agreement with Damascus.

A day earlier the Russian Center had also announced that "militants in a town in Damascus province and another town in Lattakia province inked peace agreement with Syrian government from Friday to Saturday".



The Kremlin should stop trying to placate NATO regimes about Syria

"Those who remain in eastern Aleppo, roughly 40,000 from a prewar population estimated at about a million, have been without electricity or running water for more than a year."
-- From award-winning journalist Martin Chulov's on-the-ground March 12, 2015 report for the Guardian, The worst place in the world? Aleppo in ruins after four years of Syria war: In the east of Syria’s largest city, where entire neighbourhoods have been destroyed, the few remaining residents face a Darwinian fight for survival.

If there were 40,000 residents in E. Aleppo in early 2015, how is that a headline today from RT reads, Breakthrough in Aleppo saves 80,000 civilians – Russian military

Not to be outdone Iran's FARS agency reported today that no less than 90,000 civilians had been rescued from E. Aleppo.

Meanwhile, AMN chief Leith Fadel's cousin Joseph, who is fighting for the government side in E. Aleppo, told him a few days ago that there were about 30,000 civilians left in east Aleppo, which Leith reported on his Twitter page. That was before several civilians in E. Aleppo were evacuated, in numbers ranging from about 3K to 10K, depending on the report.

So why is the Kremlin going along with the UN fish tale that there are at least 250,000 civilians trapped in E. Aleppo? For the same reason it's not putting up a fight about the reported number of hospitals the Russian/Syrian air forces have bombed in East Aleppo. 

(Syrian Lina Abadi's droll comment on the strange phenomenon created by Western reporting known as The Last Hospital in E. Aleppo: "When a hospital in East Aleppo is destroyed, 10 new spring up in its place. - Syrian proverb.")   

From the following passage in the RT report, I think it's obvious why the Kremlin believes it's necessary to attempt to placate NATO governments, at least long enough to finish helping the Syrian Army clear Aleppo of terrorist groups:
Earlier, head of the German Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Norbert Röttgen, along with other MPs, called on Berlin to impose more sanctions against Russia over the offensive in Aleppo, and open an airlift to the militant-held areas similar to the historic Berlin airlift in the late 1940s. They cited damage allegedly caused to the city by Russian airstrikes. The strikes, according to the Russian military, were paused in mid-October and did not resume.
The German Foreign Ministry said Damascus and “its supporters, above all Russia and Iran, bear the biggest responsibility” for civilian suffering in Aleppo.

TRANSLATION: 'We're scared Erdogan is going make good on his latest threat to flood EU with more refugees and we don't want a war with a NATO member.'

Granted, Erdogan is furious that E. Aleppo is falling to Assad's government. But how does the EU threatening Russia solve their problem with Turkey?

Bottom line:  the more that Moscow, Damascus and Iran rack up success against people that Al Saud and Turkey want in power in Syria, the nastier the NATO/EU threats against Moscow -- and by implication, Damascus. And Iran.

But for the Kremlin to attempt to placate people who in turn are trying to placate other people is a waste of time. And it's giving points to the NATO/EU/Gulf Arab "Axis of Scoundrels" that it doesn't deserve.

For more of Lina Abadi's sharp observations, read her Twitter page. The propagandists are quick but she's quicker.  As to the Last Hospital in E. Aleppo -- from Lina:

"Long live East Aleppo's last hospital!"


There's Divine Grace, then there's Monkey Business

Once a devotee of Shirdi Sai Baba (an earlier emanation of the same consciousness that created the Sathya Sai Baba incarnation) had a clear dream in which he was in a prison. He called out to Shirdi Baba to free him; Shirdi Baba appeared and replied that he couldn't, because the man's karma was very bad. The man cried, "You can do anything!" Shirdi Baba asked him if he really believed that. The man said he did. Just like that, the prison bars fell.

You are not more powerful than the divine. So don't go wishing Hell on yourself if you know you've done bad. Call for help, plead for help, and keep pleading and calling.  

Easy advice to hear but it can be tough to follow. Many people don't want to be saved. They only want to be patched up so they can return to whatever monkey business got them in trouble in the first place.  

This can go on for scores of incarnations, as they bounce from shaman to shaman, priest to priest, baba to baba, religion to religion, collecting little packets of help to tide them over. Until they've made so much grief for themselves and others that they decide, 'Okay now I'm going to Hell.' 

Notice that they're still thinking they run the show. The good news is that once this idea is rejected Grace is surprisingly easy to obtain. That's because it is always there.           

Monday, November 28

E. Aleppo civilians redouble their resistance against their militant captors

Popular Uprising against Terrorists Intensifies in Eastern Aleppo
Mon Nov 28, 2016 - 5:45pm local time

TEHRAN (FNA)- Emboldened by the Syrian Army's rapid advances in the region, people in the eastern districts of Aleppo have intensified protests against terrorist groups there. 

The resistance groups are carrying out assassination attempts against the terrorists in all districts of Eastern Aleppo.

Meantime, people have hoisted Syria's flags in Eastern Aleppo and are ready to welcome the country's army soldiers.

The residents of al-Qaterji district in Aleppo city staged protest rallies against the terrorists and asked them to leave their houses and surrender the district to the Syrian army.

Last Wednesday, a senior Syrian commander and legislator underlined good cooperation between the people in Eastern Aleppo and the army, and said a popular uprising has ignited against the terrorists in the region.

"The residents of Eastern Aleppo have staged rallies against the terrorists while holding up President Bashar al-Assad's pictures," Mohannad al-Haaj said.

Noting that people in Eastern Aleppo are cooperating with the army forces against the terrorists, he said that they have mounted President Assad's image on the highest point of Abu Bakr al-Saddiq mosque in al-Kalasa district in a show of support for the army.

"Therefore, the popular move and uprising inside the city shows that people support the government and are trying to help 250,000 civilians, who have been captivated by the terrorists and 7,000 of them are being used as human shields by the militants, to escape the city," al-Haaj said.

[Pundita note: I would take that 250K figure with a large grain of salt; the true number still trapped in E. Aleppo is closer to 25K. Which is exactly why the bad guys are now finding it hard to stand up to the protests against them in E. Aleppo. They're losing more and more human shields with every hour that passes. And since the civilians there have realized the army is now doing pinpoint precise bombing, they are further emboldened.  As to how the army is managing that feat with their el-cheapo unguided bombs:  through the magic of drone technology.]  

After repeated defeats and nearly two months of insistence on remaining in the city and rejecting the army's several chances to leave Eastern Aleppo with their weapons, terrorists are now facing the realities of war as their comrades' massive attacks on the city to break the army's several-month-long siege have all ended up in fiasco.

Earlier on Monday, the Syrian army and popular forces strengthened their military positions in newly captured districts in the Eastern part of the city of Aleppo.

The army units and their allies fortified their military positions in Haydariyah and al-Sakhor districts in Eastern Aleppo city.

Meantime, the Hezbollah resistance forces are chasing the terrorists who are trying to flee the region.

On Sunday, the terrorists sustained heavy defeat in different fronts in Northeastern districts of Aleppo and they had to withdraw from Haydariyah, Bustan al-Pasha, al-Hallak, Ayn al-Tal and al-Sheikh Khezr regions.

Meantime, Syria's media reported that the resistance forces managed to take full control of al-Sakhor region after they had seized back over 95 percent of the region on Sunday.

On Sunday, it was reported that the countdown has started for the collapse of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists in entire Eastern Aleppo as they are losing ground to invading army and popular forces in several neighborhoods and were forced to evacuate Bustan al-Pasha district Northeast of the city after brief clashes in the evening.

The Syrian army and Hezbollah forces, who captured Hanano quarter on Saturday and Jabal Badrou, al-Ard al-Hamra, al-Saroukh districts on Sunday, continued their military operations and managed to push back a large number of terrorists from more vital bastions in the Eastern parts of the city.

According to some Arab media outlets, militants of Fateh Halab (Aleppo Conqueror) factions have abandoned Bustan Al-Pasha as well as Haydariyah and Baeedin districts after huge defeats of their comrades on Sunday.



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