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Wednesday, December 7

"However, the battle for east Aleppo is far from over for the Syrian Arab Army"

"However, the battle for east Aleppo is far from over for the Syrian Arab Army, as the jihadist rebels still maintain control over the strategic Marjah, Sheikh Lufti, and Sheikh Sa'eed districts."

I'm a gonna snap at FARS after i get some sleep.

Syrian Army officially enters surrendered east Aleppo districts
By Leith Fadel - 07/12/2016

BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:15 PM) - The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has officially entered two of the recently surrendered districts of east Aleppo today after the militants fled the area, per the Russian-Turkish agreement.

According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent, the Syrian Arab Army's elite Tiger Forces entered the Kadi Asker and Bab Al-Hadid districts of east Aleppo, following the departure of the jihadist rebels earlier this morning.

As a result of yesterday night's surrender by the jihadist rebels, the Syrian Arab Army now controls the entire area around the Aleppo Citadel, including the provincial capital's second largest mosque that was turned into a militant base.

However, the battle for east Aleppo is far from over for the Syrian Arab Army, as the jihadist rebels still maintain control over the strategic Marjah, Sheikh Lufti, and Sheikh Sa'eed districts.



Over and out

I can't keep my eyes open any longer. so if the Syrian government announces total victory in Aleppo while i'm getting some sleep, I will be the last person on the internet to learn this, and I will miss the victory celebration.  

Well, watch SANA, watch FARS and AMN and of course Sputnik and RT for breaking news. It could happen today.


Top UK think tank secretly funded by Bahrain. Gee what a surprise.

UK think tank covertly funded by Bahrain royal family – leaked papers
Published time: 7 Dec, 2016 09:40

The International Institute of Strategic Studies, an influential UK diplomacy and security think tank run by prominent military, political, and business figures, has received over $38mn in secret donations from Bahrain.

Bahrain, a former British colony and oil-rich Arab country which accommodates the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, had secretly donated more than $38 million (£30 million) to the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), a reputed UK think tank which positions itself as a leading global military and security research consultancy, according to human rights group Bahrain Watch.

The donations, which the IISS received over the course of five years, were said to form around a quarter of the think tank’s budget, or over $7.6 million (£6 million) per year, Bahrain Watch said citing confidential documents it obtained in cooperation with the Guardian.

Money from the Bahrain government was received in large part under a secret memorandum of understanding (MoU) between IISS head John Chipman and Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, who had previously served as ambassador to the UK.



"Terrorists Continue Surrendering to Syrian Army in Aleppo City"

December 7, 2016 - 1:23 [local time]

TEHRAN (FNA)- One hundred more terrorists laid down arms and turned themselves in to the Syrian Army after they were left alone by a large number of their comrades who surrendered the Old Aleppo quarter to the government troops and left Eastern Aleppo last night.

A 100-member group of militants from the Jeish al-Fatah coalition gave up fight and surrendered themselves to the army on Wednesday in areas South of the Old Aleppo quarter in Southeastern Aleppo.

The number of militants trying to apply for government amnesty is on the rise, while only a rapidly shrinking 10 sq/km area has remained under their control in the Eastern neighborhoods.

Rifts are widening among Syrian and non-Syrian militants as Damascus has vowed to grant amnesty to Syrian fighters.
Non-Syrian terrorists want to continue battle against government forces, while others want to negotiate with the army for their final evacuation from the city.

On Tuesday night, hundreds of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists left Aleppo on Green Buses after they laid down arms and surrendered to the army and popular forces.

Militants removed barricades at Bab Al-Hadid Square (the Iron Gate) in Southeastern Aleppo and allowed civilians to evacuate the war zone. The militants then laid down arms and surrendered to the government forces.

Reports from Eastern Aleppo late Tuesday night said the militants left the city on Green Buses under the tight military inspection of the army.

Media sources had disclosed that a large number of militants had been engaged in secret negotiations with government officials in Aleppo to surrender themselves and leave the city.

Bab Al-Hadid Square is a few hundred yards North-East of Aleppo Citadel.

Midnight reports from the city said the army had advanced into the Old Aleppo region and entered the Great Mosque, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the start of the war in Syria "we would soon perform prayers".



(UPDATED 5:17am EST) EAST ALEPPO FALLS TO SYRIAN ARMY COALITION "People all throughout Aleppo are heard shouting Allah-u-Akbar (God is Great) from their rooftops and mosques in a show of joy and victory"

FARS reported earlier (see below) "Aleppo is to be announced a completely liberated city by the Syrian army any moment now."  This is turning into a long 'any moment now.'
AMN is reporting today (no time stamp) that 10,000 civilians are still stuck in a 'pocket' in E. Aleppo. While several reports, including one from the BBC filed 42 minutes ago, say that the "old city" has fallen to the Syrian Army coalition, FARS is the only source reporting up to this point that the entire city has been liberated.  [shrugging] Onward.   

OH MY GOD OH GOD pundita stop blubbering and type

Wed December 07, 2016 - 7:39 [local time]

URGENT: Syrian Army On Verge of Epoch-Making Victory in Aleppo

TEHRAN (FNA)- Aleppo is to be announced a completely liberated city by the Syrian army any moment now after hundreds of terrorists surrendered to the Syrian army at the end of daylong secret talks with government officials in Eastern Aleppo, while the remaining few hundreds under a now very tight siege have agreed to the Damascus terms to evacuate the city in less than two days.

Hundreds of militants left Aleppo city on Green Buses Tuesday night after they removed barricades at Bab Al-Hadid Square (the Iron Gate) in Southeastern Aleppo and allowed civilians to evacuate the war zone hours earlier.

The militants of Fatah Al-Halab (Conquest of Aleppo) – one of a dozen terrorist groups operating under the umbrella of Jeish Al-Fatah coalition - surrendered almost all Old Aleppo districts after the Syrian Army's swift advances West of the Aleppo International Airport risked splitting them apart from their comrades further South.

The terrorists gave up fight and requested ceasefire talks with the government after their massive counteroffensive at Karm Al-Maysar and Karm Al-Qaterjy failed to yield any gains. Making matters worse for the insurgents, the Syrian Armed Forces would proceed to capture Sha'ar district, and the nearby Turbet Lala, Qadi Askar and Qarleq districts to arrive at Bab Al-Hadid on Tuesday.

Later in the day, the militants engaged in secret negotiations with government officials in Aleppo to surrender the Old Aleppo quarter and leave the city.

Bab Al-Hadid Square is a few hundred yards North-East of Aleppo Citadel and is the borderline of the Old Aleppo quarter to the East.

The only pocket of Jeish Al-Fatah terrorists now remaining in the city are mostly from Al-Qaeda's Nusra Front (recently renamed to Fatah Al-Sham Front) and Noureddin Al-Zinki that are further to the South in Bostan al-Qasr (Also Bostan Alkaser) and its adjacent districts and under a very tight siege of the army and Hezbollah troops.

Early Wednesday morning reports by several regional Arab media outlets quoted rebel sources as declaring that factions operating in the few remaining Eastern Aleppo districts have now agreed to pull out completely.

The Arab media and activists all confirmed that the terrorists have been negotiating with Russia through representatives in Turkey over an evacuation plan from Eastern Aleppo.

Reports suggested that a Turkish-Russian agreement has been reached over the surrender of the remaining East Aleppo districts under jihadists' control after extended negotiations between leaders of opposition groups and Russian officers in Turkey.

The Syrian army also confirmed that militants will start leaving Aleppo in 48 hours.

Meantime, militants have started confirming through their social media pages and websites that they are to leave Aleppo after several years, acknowledging defeat.

Over the last two days terrorists' affiliated media outlets have been sending consoling messages, saying 'we are losing Aleppo but we will fight in other places', showing that they were preparing to surrender Aleppo, but the messages appearing on these media now are all filled with sorrow, acknowledging final defeat.

On the other side of the war, radio exchanges are heard among Syrian army and Hezbollah commanders felicitating each other on the landmark victory that is a turning point in the war on terrorism in Syria and will be of unrivaled weight at any political talks on the future of Syria.

People all throughout Aleppo are heard shouting Allah-u-Akbar (God is Great) from above their rooftops and mosques in a show of joy and victory.

Aleppo will once again see a calm day and there will be many family reunions when citizens come together from the West and the East to celebrate the end of war in their city. They will shed tears, but this time of joy, today or tomorrow.



How close did the US come to averting Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor?

"In a small office at Pearl Harbor, overlooking the battleships at the heart of America’s seafaring power, the Commander of the Pacific Fleet tries to figure out how much danger he really faces. His intelligence unit has lost track of Japan’s biggest aircraft carriers, but assumes they are resting in a port far away. The admiral thinks Pearl is too shallow for torpedoes, so he never puts up a barrier. As he frets, a Japanese spy is counting the warships in the harbor and reporting to Tokyo."

-- From the introduction to John Batchelor's riveting interview with author Steve Twomey about Countdown to Pearl Harbor, published November 1, 2016. You will be kept guessing right up to the attack, but in the end there is no definitive answer to the question I posed. And that is the part that haunts, and will continue to haunt the annals of war and American history.

Here is the podcast of the interview.


Tuesday, December 6

"We cannot understand why Britain is treating Christians in this way"

"On the left is the Archbishop of Homs [Syria], who's not allowed into UK
On the right is Raed Saleh, of al-Qaeda's #WhiteHelmets, who just visited UK"

The above images tweeted with comment by Lemniscat, and H/T to her retweet of this report today from the Catholic Herald, filed by Madeleine Teahan:

Archbishops from Syria and Iraq blocked from visiting the UK

The bishops were invited to the consecration of the new St Thomas Cathedral, Syriac Orthodox Church (PA)

The bishops were refused entry due to fears that they might not return home

Three archbishops from Iraq and Syria were refused entry into the UK despite being invited by the country’s Syriac Orthodox Church.

Archbishop Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf of Mosul, Archbishop of St Matthew’s Timothius Mousa Shamani and Archbishop Selwanos Boutros Alnemeh of Homs and Hama, were all refused UK visas which would have enabled them to attend the consecration of the UK’s first Syriac Orthodox Cathedral, last month.

Prince Charles, who has long championed the cause of persecuted Christians in the Middle East, was a guest of honour at the event at St Thomas Cathedral and a personal letter was read from the Queen.

The bishops were told that they were refused entry because they did not have sufficient funds to support themselves and because they might not leave the UK.

Lord Alton of Liverpool, said he was incredulous when he heard the news. He said: “When the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch told me that these two bishops had been refused visas to come to the UK for the consecration of the new Syrian Orthodox cathedral I greeted it with incredulity and disbelief. It's a decision that brings shame on our country.

“These amazingly courageous bishops come from the Mosul region of Iraq – where Christians have been beheaded, crucified, raped and either forcibly converted or forced to flee as their possessions have been seized by radical Islamists. It adds insult to injury that the UK would refuse admission to men who pose no threat and whose community has suffered so much – especially when we still fail to bring to justice Jihadists who have committed genocide.”

In an editorial, the Daily Express condemned the decision, saying: “While we appreciate the necessity of efficient border controls, surely it can’t be beyond the wit of a Home Office pencil-pusher to realise that these men of the cloth were a special case?

“Last week we learned that 650,000 immigrants made their way to Britain, the highest level yet. And yet somehow, while letting all these in, officials contrived to ban these three wise men who have risked their lives for the Christian faith.

“Mary and Joseph were told there was no room at the inn. At this time of the year in particular we would do well to be more mindful of the Christmas message.”

The UK’s Syriac Orthodox Christians Archbishop Athanasius Toma Dawod told the Daily Express: “These are men who have pressing pastoral responsibilities as Christian areas held by IS are liberated. That is why we cannot understand why Britain is treating Christians in this way?”

Meanwhile, the SNP MP, Kirsten Oswald, raised a similar issue at Prime Minister’s Questions last week.

The MP told the House: “Guests from the Hyderabad diocese have twice been refused visas to visit the Church of Scotland presbytery of Glasgow as part of a twinning initiative, the suggestion being that the visit was not genuine, despite the paperwork being correct and the Church bearing the costs.

“When I raised this with the Leader of the House, he spoke of the need for people to return home after visits, and then the Immigration Minister told me in a patronising letter how to apply for a visa. Will the Prime Minister tell the Church why its visitors are not welcome and what messages she thinks it sends to our faith communities?”

The Prime Minister responded by saying that the Home Secretary should look into the case.



New lead in 2013 Ghouta false flag chemical attack

From Moon of Alabama comment section today. Note the remark at the end about the "Caesar photos" hoax:

BREAKING: New lead in the Ghouta chemical weapons investigation!

I have always maintained that the alleged "sarin" attack of August 2013 never happened. Instead, hostages were gassed in cellars throughout eastern Ghouta. The chemical agent used has been a mystery. I have assumed it was mainly chlorine, but not all symptoms match.

Lizzie Phelan has now published photos and video from a school in eastern Aleppo that had been used as a rebel base. A storage room contained hundreds of liters of potassium permanganate in 10 liter plastic canisters. We have long suspected that Syrian rebels use potassium permanganate to generate chlorine gas for their gas chambers and for staging "regime gas attacks".

The chemical cache also contains bags of aluminium phosphide under the brand name Detia GAS-EX-B. Aluminium phosphide produces phosphine upon contact with atmospheric water. The primary use of phosphine is as a fumigant in farms and grain silos. I suspect Detia GAS-EX-B was used to fumigate rebel prisoners.

More on the topic here on A Closer Look on Syria.

The Ghouta false-flag or hoax attack may not be the only case of rebel gas chambers. Many of the victims in the Caesar photo collection show signs of being executed by gas, possibly with chlorine.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Dec 5, 2016 6:28:47 AM

Saturday, December 3

Julien Jouga's choral gift to the world wove African, Muslim, and Christian music (UPDATED 12:40 am EST 12/04)

Julien Jouga with some members of his chorale

A commenter at YouTube referred to Julien Jouga (1931 - 2001) as the "Great artisan of the Islamo-Christian dialogue in Senegal" but that hardly conveys the scope of his contribution to choral religious song and African music:
Taking full advantage of the evolution of the Church following the Second Vatican Council, Julien Jouga could move from the Gregorian chant of the white fathers to the polyphony inspired by the traditional Senegalese music of different ethnic groups (eight masses in national languages ​​- diola, Wolof, Portuguese Creole), but also from different confessions (Walaay composed on a Muslim melody).
If a couple tracks from this recording at YouTube, which features several short choral works from the choir, sound familiar they're from Jouga's collaboration with the (Muslim) Senegalese drummer Doudou N'Diaye Rose (1930-2015) for the album Djabote. Earlier this year I featured the complete French documentary about the making of the album -
... on the Isle of Gorée in March 1991 [which features all the musical works on the Djabote album]. It was recorded in one week with [N'Diaye Rose's] group of 50 drummers and Julien Jouga's Choir, an 80-member, all-female choir." [Wikipedia article on N'Diaye Rose]  
(There were also males in the choir, at least by the time of the above recordings of the choir posted to YouTube.) 

The first quote above is from a short biography in French by a chorale organization, which I put through Google Translate with imperfect results but with enough to convey to English speakers something of the musical accomplishments of this extraordinary man. It will have to suffice until a Wikipedia article or more hopefully a book about him in published:
Julien Jouga (1931-2001)
 Man known and recognized of all, in Senegal as abroad, Julien Jouga left an indelible trace in the musical landscape of the choral song, but also in the heart of those that crossed.
An accomplished sportsman, captain of the Senegal national basketball team, with a charm that could hardly resist, Julien Jouga devoted his whole life to choral singing, from animation [production] to interpretation through composing.
Creator and director of the Saint Joseph de Médina parish choir since 1950, as well as the Senegalese Choir, Julien Jouga will participate in the development of choral singing in Senegal by broadcasting choral works through numerous concerts and concerts. Animation of religious ceremonies.

Taking full advantage of the evolution of the Church following the Second Vatican Council, Julien Jouga could move from the Gregorian chant of the white fathers to the polyphony inspired by the traditional Senegalese music of different ethnic groups (eight masses in national languages ​​- diola,  Wolof, Portuguese Creole), but also from different confessions (Walaay composed on a Muslim melody).

Touching all the directories, Julien Jouga will cross the path of personalities as diverse as Manu Dibango, Nicole Croisille or Maxime Le Forestier.

Julien Jouga, native of Casamance, will visit many countries to carry the good word of Senegalese choral singing. After a first trip to France in 1974 for the animation of the Senegalese contemporary art exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, the journeys of the choirs of Julien Jouga will be numerous: representatives of Africa at the Chorales de Vaison la Romaine in 1977 , Participations in the celebrations of the bicentenary of the French Revolution in 1989, trips through Africa, Europe, North America and Asia.

A man of duty, Julien Jouga left the army where he spent his whole career with the rank of Commander, participated in numerous official ceremonies, harmonized the national anthem of Senegal and always touched the heart of the humblest and most powerful.
Listened to by all, Julien Jouga will be in 1982 the first African elected to the world office of the choral singing within the International Federation of Choral Song.

Messe Ouolof of the Cap des Biches & Wallaye - A Coeur Joie editions (acj.musicanet.org)

Discography: JAMA - Chorale Julien Jouga - label bleu MCA - LBLC 2531
 Update: I've just learned that the sound track has gotten messed up on the YouTube posting of the Djabote documentary. While there are still clips posted at YouTube from a number of scenes in the documentary, to my knowledge there's only one complete copy of it available at YouTube (and it seems the entire internet). I hope the glitch gets resolved because it would be a shame if the general public lost this important record of N'Diaye Rose -- and Julien Jouga's -- work.

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. 

Sochta Hoon Ke Woh Kitne Masoom Te, performed by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Company and posted to YouTube. 

Lyrics provided by Muhammed Atif Suleman at another YouTube post of the same performance, since removed.)  

"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, here is Mast Nazron Se Allah Bachaye by Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, posted to YouTube by Aman Deep. This qawwali was filmed at Bradford University in 1985. It sounds as if Ustad Nusrat is experimenting with an echo gizmo on at least one microphone (or maybe it's the room's acoustics); he doesn't need the echo but it suits 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

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