.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tuesday, June 19

It's Israeli policy to commit a massacre in Syria and let Americans take the blame?

An airstrike close to the Iraq-Syria border Sunday was carried out by Israel, and not by the US or the coalition fighting ISIS, a US official tells CNN.
Syrian state TV blamed the strike that targeted pro-regime forces and caused multiple casualties on the US-led coalition combating the terrorist group, but a spokesman for the coalition said there were no coalition strikes in the area near Abu Kamal.
The Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on the strike, per its normal policy. ...
The 'normal' Israeli policy to refuse to take responsibility for airstrikes in another nation has worn thin as Israel has increased its strikes on Syria. PM Netanyahu is now openly stating that Israel will carry out attacks anywhere in Syria  (see the CNN report) and obviously without providing a rationale for any attack beyond taking preemptive measures against Israel's enemies.

But Netanyahu showed contempt for Americans when he was willing to see the U.S. military take the blame for a massacre of pro-government fighters in Syria. 

This forced CENTCOM to issue a denial on Sunday and, when Jerusalem still hadn't spoken up by Monday, prompted an unnamed U.S. official to identify Israel as the attacker.

I would like to believe that the contempt is unlike Netanyahu, but he and the Israeli defense establishment have been acting strangely as they've gotten more involved with the Saudi and Emirati regimes. A 6/16 article by James Dorsey, published at AMN, is an indication of just how strange things have gotten:

Israel adopts abandoned Saudi sectarian logic




Amid ever closer cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Israel’s military appears to be adopting the kind of sectarian anti-Shiite rhetoric that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is abandoning as part of a bid to develop a national rather than a religious ethos and promote his yet to be defined form of moderate Islam.
The Israeli rhetoric in Arabic-language video clips that target a broad audience across the Middle East and North Africa emerged against the backdrop of a growing influence of conservative religious conscripts and officers in all branches of the Israeli armed forces.
The clips featuring army spokesman Major Avichay Adraee were also designed to undermine support for Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip and backed recent mass anti-Israeli protests along the border with Israel, in advance of a visit to the Middle East by US peace negotiators Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.
[...]
Citing a saying of the Prophet Mohammed, Major Adraee, painting Hamas as an Iranian stooge, asserted that “whoever acts like a people is one of them… You (Hamas) have officially become Shiites in line with the Prophet’s saying… Have you not read the works of the classical jurists, scholars…who have clearly warned you about the threat Iranian Shiism poses to you and your peoples?”
In a twist of irony, Major Adraee quoted the very scholars Prince Mohammed appears to be downplaying. They include 18th century preacher Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahhab, whose ultra-conservative anti-Shiite interpretation of Islam shaped Saudi Arabia for much of its history; Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah, a 14th century theologian and jurist whose worldview, like that of Wahhabism, inspires militant Islam; and Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Egyptian-born, Qatar-based scholar who was designated a terrorist by Saudi Arabia and the UAE because he is believed to be the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“The enlightened Salafi scholar Imam Mohammed ibn Abdul Wahhab warned you about the threat posed by these people to the Islamic faith with the heresies that they adhere to. He says: ‘Look at this atheist’s words. You will see that he employs rafidah (rejectionist) terms. They (the rafidah) are more harmful to the faith than Jews or Christians….’ You follow the Iranians who pose a greater danger to you than any other force,” Major Adraee said referring to Shiites in derogatory language employed by ultra-conservative Sunni Muslims.
Major Adraee went on to quote Ibn Tamiyyah as saying: “I know that the best of them are hypocrites. They fabricate lies and produce corrupt ideas to undermine the Islamic faith.” Hypocrites is a term often used by ultra-conservatives to describe Shiites.
Major Adraee cited Sheikh Qaradawi as asserting that “the threat of the Shiites is their attempt to penetrate Sunni society. They are able to do so with their excessive wealth.” [Pundita note: And the Sunni oil kingdoms don't have excessive wealth?]
Addressing supporters of Hamas, Major Adraee asked: “Do you still want to be allies with these corrupt people while you claim to follow Islam…and respect Islamic scholars whose teachings you proudly disregard? Don’t be hypocrites.” Major Adraee concluded his remarks by warning that those who guided by Iran caused disruption would “be punished in the hereafter."
[...]
There's more -- much more -- to Dorsey's article. But that's as much as I can take of an Israeli military officer promoting ideas adopted by the kind of people who want to wipe Israel off the map. That's taking agitprop into the looney bin. 

However, I think the method informing the madness is to curry favor in Sunni oil kingdoms. President Trump is also busy currying favor with them. But from Dorsey's article, a difference is that these new-fangled Israeli hardliners are clearly making common cause with Saudi clerical hardliners. If true this is very bad news.   

To return to Israel's actions toward Syria -- if the Netanyahu regime keeps playing the Victim card and the Predator card at the same time, this is going to backfire.

********

"Israel behind airstrike in Syria, US official says"

"We will take action - and are already taking action - against efforts to establish a military presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria. We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at a cabinet meeting.

In other words the Netanyahu regime can invade Syria anytime it wants and get away with it. But the regime stayed silent when Syria blamed the U.S. for the air strike on Sunday, which reportedly killed several Syrian troops. It seems this prompted an American official to speak out:   
Israel behind airstrike in Syria, US official says
By Barbara Starr, Ryan Browne and Oren Liebermann, CNN
Updated 1:58 PM ET, Mon June 18, 2018

Washington (CNN) An airstrike close to the Iraq-Syria border Sunday was carried out by Israel, and not by the US or the coalition fighting ISIS, a US official tells CNN.
Syrian state TV blamed the strike that targeted pro-regime forces and caused multiple casualties on the US-led coalition combating the terrorist group, but a spokesman for the coalition said there were no coalition strikes in the area near Abu Kamal.
The Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on the strike, per its normal policy.
US officials have said that many pro-regime militias that are also aligned with Iran operate in the border area between Syria and Iraq.
The area is some distance from Israel and Israeli jets would have had to overcome significant logistical hurdles to strike that area. [Pundita translation: They would've had to violate Lebanese airspace]
Israel has repeatedly warned that it would target Iranian-linked groups in Syria.
"We will take action - and are already taking action - against efforts to establish a militarily presence by Iran and its proxies in Syria both close to the border and deep inside Syria. We will act against these efforts anywhere in Syria," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at a cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend, two of the key players in influencing Israel's policy and actions over Syria.
Sunday's strike was very different from those normally attributed to Israel. Generally, strikes by Israel occur in the western region of Syria, principally in the area around Damascus and Homs. Recently, these strikes have targeted Iran's infrastructure and military presence in Syria, which Israel has staunchly opposed. Israel also has struck shipments of advanced weapons from Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon in the past.
This attack in Eastern Syria is hundreds of miles away from that area, and the target -- pro-regime forces -- differs from what would be Israel's usual mark, namely Iranian military positions.
[END REPORT]
*********

Monday, June 18

Syrian Sitrep, Pundita style

Right now the situation is a bunch of people from a score of  foreign and local governments playing with firecrackers while standing next to an open keg of gunpowder.

********

 

Looks like Houthis didn't get the memo that they're defeated

Why, one wonders, are they burning the captured Saudi military vehicles instead of using them? 


"Saudi Army offensive near Yemen border ends in disaster as Houthi forces swarm area (video)" - Al-Masdar News today.

But I'm afraid I haven't been able to watch the Houthi-Saudi war, and for the same reason I couldn't watch a raccoon scale a 27 story office tower last week. I wasn't going to spend hours biting my nails to the quick when the racoon was gonna fall anyhow. 



********

Sunday, June 17

"BREAKING: World War 3 fears ESCALATE as US BOMBS Syrian military site killing forces"


The above headline and photos of the strike are from a (U.K.) Express report. Reuters reported about two hours ago that the U.S. has denied carrying out the strike:

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian state media, citing a military source, reported on Monday that U.S.-led coalition aircraft had bombed “one of our military positions” in eastern Syria, leading to deaths and injuries, but the U.S. military denied carrying out strikes in the area.

The strike took place in al-Harra, southeast of Albu Kamal, Syrian state media said. There were no immediate details on casualties.

A commander in the military alliance backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad also told Reuters that drones, “probably American,” had bombed positions of Iraqi factions between Albu Kamal and Tanf and Syrian military positions.

“No member of the U.S.-led coalition carried out strikes near Albu Kamal,” Major Josh Jacques, a U.S. Central Command spokesman, told Reuters.

The U.S.-led coalition is supporting an alliance of Syrian Arab and Kurdish militia fighting Islamic State northeast of Albu Kamal.

The Syrian army, alongside allied Iran-backed militias including Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Iraqi groups, drove Islamic State from Albu Kamal and its environs last year, but the jihadists have since staged attacks in the area.

U.S. forces are also based in Tanf, southwest of Albu Kamal in the Syrian desert near the borders of Iraq and Jordan.

Last week, Assad said he regarded the United States as an occupying power in Syria and that the position of his state was to “support any act of resistance, whether against terrorists or against occupying forces, regardless of their nationality.”

Reporting By Laila Bassam and Angus McDowall, additonal reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington

[END REPORT]

Here are two breaking news reports on the alleged strike, one from RT the other from Al Masdar News.

********

Only when American cities are reduced to rubble

Only when foreign regimes can force Americans to choose between "bad"or "not so bad" Islamist terrorist rulers, as happened to Syrians until Russia, Iran and Lebanon came to their rescue -- 

Only then will Americans confront the evil of a democratic republic helping Wahhabist oil kingdoms around the world.  

After 9/11 I was overcome with guilt because I hadn't paid enough attention to my own country in the years running up to the attack. I vowed to pay close attention from then on. What I have seen since has taught me that no matter how well a democracy might work within a nation, it can be fully as deadly as tyranny when acting abroad.

God forgive us. God save us all.

********

Kitchen scene in "Gremlins" the story of Bashar al-Assad's life

The number of foreign leaders (8 at last count) and their mercenaries (from 100+ countries) trying to overthrow him are just like Gremlins -- everywhere he looks they're popping out at him. Unfortunately, however, they're too big to stuff in a microwave oven.



Meanwhile: US-Backed SDF in Eastern Syria Threatens Families of Army Forces
... In a relevant development on Wednesday, a group of Italian forces and military advisors arrived in one of the largest oilfields in the Eastern province of Deir Ezzur to provide backup for the SDF, a media source reported.
The Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency quoted local sources as saying that a number of Italian soldiers arrived in al-Omar oilfield that is under SDF's control and is one of the US forces' bases in Deir Ezzur.
Anadolu further said that the Italian group, including 20 soldiers and several military advisors, entered Hasaka from Iraq last week and later moved toward Southern Deir Ezzur.
The Italian forces' arrival in Syria came after French forces entered and deployed in regions' under SDF's control in Northern Syria almost three months ago. ...
Meanwhile: US Attempts to Coax Tribes in Eastern Syria into Facilitating Terrorists' Transfer
... The Arabic website of Sputnik news agency quoted tribal sources in Eastern Syria as saying that the US forces transfer the ISIL terrorists from the desert region bordering Iraq to al-Tanf through al-Sukhneh in Homs.
Meantime, one of the prominent tribal leaders in Eastern Syria revealed that Mohannad al-Tala, a US proxy and commander of the so-called New Syrian Forces group in the US base in al-Tanf, has contacted the Syrian tribes, calling on them to open a passage for the terrorists to leave al-Tanf for Deir Ezzur to reach al-Omar oil field.
He added that the US forces fear uprisings by the people in Eastern Syria, noting that one of their goals to approach the tribes is to keep deployment in the region as Washington attempts to win the cooperation of the tribes in Manbij, Hasaka and Deir Ezzur have all failed.
Meantime, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has freed its militant inmates and sent them to the battlefield to attack al-Tanf-Sukhneh road in Homs and open a passageway and the Jordan road to al-Tanf.
The US forces had in the past 10 days been busy with transferring the ISIL terrorists with at least 10 armored trucks and heavy artillery to attack Albu Kamal from Abu Hameseh in Hasaka. ...
Meanwhile: Infighting Erupts among US-Backed Terrorists after Looting Arms Depot in Northeastern Syria



Meanwhile Infighting Intensified among Ankara-Backed Militants in Northern Aleppo



********


Americans have so much, Mr Trump! Why steal from a poor nation?

I can see how your Saudi bosses would want control of as many Syrian oilfields as you can procure for them, but think of the little babies, Mr Trump! I thought you loved little Syrian babies, from what you said about why you ordered the bombing of a Syrian military base last year.

Just think -- revenue from Syria's oilfields would help the Syrian government rebuild the devastated country, feed and clothe babies, send Syrian children back to school and house them!

From the "Raqqa" section of the FARS report today on SAA operations across Syria during the past 24 hours:
Raqqa  
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has set up 2 bases in Eastern Syria to recruit forces with Washington and Riyadh's support and pressure the Syrian army forces' family members.
The Arabic website of Sputnik news agency quoted local sources in Eastern Syria as saying on Saturday that the SDF has established two recruitment centers with the US and Saudi support, trying to coax the young people into joining the SDF by paying a monthly salary of 115,000 Syrian liras.

They also revealed that the SDF has taken hostage a number of Syrian army soldiers who had visited the Kurdish-occupied lands in Raqqa to see their family members.

The SDF also threatened the families with detention if their sons join the army.

The sources also said that the US forces have signed a deal with the Kurds to protect their 11 bases in the oil-rich regions, including 7 bases in Deir Ezzur, 4 in Raqqa, al-Shadadi, Tal Borak and Hasaka.

Meantime, new advanced French missile-launchers and artilleries have been transferred to the US bases in oilfields in Eastern Deir Ezzur.
********

Syrian War during past 24 hours, region by region

June 17, 2018 - 1:36
FARS

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army started the second phase of its massive assault against terrorists in Sweida desert after sending a new military convoy to the Eastern regions of the province.
Sweida
Field sources reported on Saturday that the army has sent a large convoy of military equipment to the Eastern desert of Sweida.

They added that the convoy which included several tanks, missile-launchers and vehicles equipped with heavy weapons was sent to Tal Sa'ad, the frontline of battle against the ISIL, through the village of al-Janineh in Northeastern Sweida.

Meantime, the Syrian army units engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL terrorists in Badiyeh region of Sweida province, including al-Harmieh region.

Also, the army's air force and artillery units pounded the ISIL positions in al-Kara'a, al-Habirieh, Kharbat al-Ambashi and 
al-Tamthouneh regions, inflicting tolls and damage on them.

Idlib
Tensions, clashes and assassination attempts continue among the terrorist groups in Idlib as reports said that at least 160 people were killed in the past few weeks.

Local sources in Northern Idlib reported on Saturday that a number of terrorists were killed and wounded after a bomb exploded in the town of al-Dana.

Also, unknown assailants' attacks in the town of Ma'arat Mesrin in Northern Idlib killed a number of Tahrir al-Sham Hay'at (the Levant Liberation Board or the Al-Nusra Front) and so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) terrorists.
Meantime, unknown assailants fired at Tahrir al-Sham militants in Idlib, killing at least three of them.

Also, reports said that unknown people attacked and killed one of the police officers of the so-called 'Salvation Government' group, affiliated to Tahrir al-Sham, named Abu al-Kheir at the entrance of the village of Ein Shib in Western Idlib.

Field sources also said that tensions and insecurities have intensified in regions occupied by the terrorists in Idlib, adding that during the clashes and assassination attempts in the past few weeks at least 160 people have been killed.

Hama
The Syrian army pounded the terrorists' bases and positions in response to their offensives against the army points in Northern Hama.

Field sources reported on Saturday that the terrorists stationed in Northern Hama have attacked the army points near Moharedah power plant, the village of al-Safafeh, the town of Souran and Zalin and al-Mayadan checkpoints with missiles.

The army units responded the offensives with precise missile and artillery attacks against the terrorists' positions and moves in the town of al-Latamineh and the village of al-Zakat in Northern Hama.

The terrorists' positions in the town of Kafr Zita and Tal al-Sakhar were also attacked by missile strikes.

Meantime, field sources said that during the operations, several terrorist positions were smashed and a number of militants were killed.

Raqqa
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has set up 2 bases in Eastern Syria to recruit forces with Washington and Riyadh's support and pressure the Syrian army forces' family members.

The Arabic website of Sputnik news agency quoted local sources in Eastern Syria as saying on Saturday that the SDF has established two recruitment centers with the US and Saudi support, trying to coax the young people into joining the SDF by paying a monthly salary of 115,000 Syrian liras.

They also revealed that the SDF has taken hostage a number of Syrian army soldiers who had visited the Kurdish-occupied lands in Raqqa to see their family members.

The SDF also threatened the families with detention if their sons join the army.

The sources also said that the US forces have signed a deal with the Kurds to protect their 11 bases in the oil-rich regions, including 7 bases in Deir Ezzur, 4 in Raqqa, al-Shadadi, Tal Borak and Hasaka.

Meantime, new advanced French missile-launchers and artilleries have been transferred to the US bases in oil fields in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

Homs
The US occupying forces are attempting to open different ways to transfer terrorists between al-Tanf, Deir Ezzur and Homs by contacting the tribes in Eastern Syria for cooperation, media sources reported on Saturday.

The Arabic website of Sputnik news agency quoted tribal sources in Eastern Syria as saying that the US forces transfer the ISIL terrorists from the desert region bordering Iraq to al-Tanf through al-Sukhneh in Homs.

Meantime, one of the prominent tribal leaders in Eastern Syria revealed that Mohannad al-Tala, a US proxy and commander of the so-called New Syrian Forces group in the US base in al-Tanf, has contacted the Syrian tribes, calling on them to open a passage for the terrorists to leave al-Tanf for Deir Ezzur to reach al-Omar oil field.

He added that the US forces fear uprisings by the people in Eastern Syria, noting that one of their goals to approach the tribes is to keep deployment in the region as Washington attempts to win the cooperation of the tribes in Manbij, Hasaka and Deir Ezzur have all failed.

Meantime, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) has freed its militant inmates and sent them to the battlefield to attack al-Tanf-Sukhneh road in Homs and open a passageway and the Jordan road to al-Tanf.

The US forces had in the past 10 days been busy with transferring the ISIL terrorists with at least 10 armored trucks and heavy artillery to attack Albu Kamal from Abu Hameseh in Hasaka.

Aleppo
A number of terrorists were killed during heavy infighting among the militants backed by the Turkish army in the town of A'azaz in Northern Aleppo.

Local sources in A'azaz at the borders with Turkey reported on Saturday that a number of terrorists were killed and wounded during fierce clashes between the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants and other terrorists called the 'Free Police'.

They added that the clashes have imposed panic and horror among the civilians in the region.

Meantime, the FSA-affiliated Asefeh al-Shamal Brigade detained a number of militants who had engaged in clashes.
Also in the past 24 hours, at least 15 Turkish army soldiers and Ankara-backed militants were killed in the Kurdish fighters' operations in Afrin in Northern Aleppo.

The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported on Saturday that during the Kurds' operations, a vehicle belonging to the Turkish army was exploded on Kimara-Baradeh road in Shirava region in Afrin in Northern Aleppo, killing 3 Turkish forces.

The Kurdish forces also detonated an armored vehicle of Ankara-backed militants near the village of Khaletah in the Center of Afrin.

Also, a military vehicle carrying the Turkish army forces and their affiliated militants to help the injured in Khaletah explosion was destroyed by the Kurds. At least 12 Turkish soldiers and militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) were killed in the blast.

Clashes between the Turkish army and Kurdish forces still continue in Afrin 2 months after Ankara occupied the strategic town.

Dara'a
The Syrian army forces will soon start their military operations in the South after the terrorists opposed the government-proposed peace plan to leave the region.
Field sources reported on Saturday that the army has sent a large number of soldiers and military equipment to the areas near al-Lajah region in Northeastern Dara'a.

They added that the army is strengthening its military power in Dara'a, noting that the operations against the terrorists are imminent as their commanders have rejected the peace plan.
The army has prepared nearly 35,000 of its forces along with the most modern and heavy weapons and artillery to launch a massive assault to free Southern Syria.

According to the sources, the army's military operations will be conducted in several stages and will spread from Dara'a al-Balad region in Dara'a city to the West, North and East of Dara'a as well as Northern Sweida.

Meantime, a military source said that the Syrian army will start its military operations with the aim of surrounding and isolating the terrorists and then liberating al-Lajah region and the areas between the two towns of Rakham and Northern al-Karak in Eastern Dara'a which is considered as one of the largest regions occupied by the terrorists in Southern Syria.

Deir Ezzur
A number of civilians were killed and wounded again in the US-led coalition's airstrikes in Deir Ezzur, Eastern Syria.
Field sources in Eastern Deir Ezzur reported on Saturday that the US fighter jets pounded the residential areas in the town of al-Souseh on Friday, killing at least 3 civilians and wounding a number of others.

They added that a number of the wounded people are in critical conditions, adding that the attacks have also inflicted huge damage on civilian properties.

[END REPORT]


********

"US-Backed SDF Planning to Drive Turkish Troops out of Northern Syria"

"Meanwhile, a US delegation recently declared the American forces' support for the SDF ..."

June 17, 2018 - 12:47
FARS


TEHRAN (FNA)- The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are planning to launch a large-scale military operation in Northwestern Aleppo to push back the Turkish troops and their allied militants from Afrin region, a media source reported on Sunday.

The Kurdish-language Rudaw news website reported that the SDF intends to kick off a large-scale operation to push back the Ankara forces from Afrin.

Rudaw pointed to several meetings between the SDF commanders and foreign powers in the region, adding that the SDF is preparing to carry out a massive operation in Afrin, Jarabulus and Azaz.

The website further said that al-Bab region is among those regions likely to come under attack by the SDF.

Rudaw went on to say that the Northern Syria operation will be launched after the SDF ends battle with ISIL-affiliated Asefat al-Jazeera gunmen in Deir Ezzur province.

The SDF has intensified forced recruitment in Raqqa, Manbij, Hasaka and Eastern Deir Ezzur since May.

The SDF arrested a number of demonstrators who protested the US-backed militias' forced recruiting in Raqqa, Manbij and Hasaka.

In the meantime, analysts believe that the SDF prefers to recruit Arab youths and train them to use them later in battle with the Ankara forces.

Meanwhile, a US delegation recently declared the American forces' support for the SDF in a meeting with the allied militias in the town of Manbij.

Local sources and analysts said that they believe the SDF was almost through with the plan and its preparing to launch a major assault against the Turkish army in Northern Syria.

[END REPORT]

********

Deadly hit-and-run strikes by Islamic State against Syrian army

"The Islamic State has been carrying out surprise attacks like this for several months now, forcing the Syrian military to have to conduct daily missions to clear the caves ISIS terrorists are believed to be hiding in."

ISIS carries out powerful attack against Syrian troops in east Homs
By Leith Aboufadel
June 17, 2018
Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:40 A.M.) – The Islamic State (ISIS) carried out a deadly attack against a group of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers in the Badiya Al-Sham region of eastern Homs this weekend.

ISIS reportedly carried out the attack east of the T-3 Pumping Station; this resulted in the death of a few soldiers that were positioned in this vast desert region.

According to the Islamic State’s official media wing, Al-‘Amaq, their terrorists managed to destroy at least one tank during this surprise attack on the Syrian Army’s positions.

The Islamic State has been carrying out surprise attacks like this for several months now, forcing the Syrian military to have to conduct daily missions to clear the caves ISIS terrorists are believed to be hiding in.

This latest attack also comes just days after the Syrian Arab Army and their allies managed to liberate more than 2000 square kilometers of territory in the western countryside of Al-Mayadeen City

[END REPORT]


********

Reportedly US-backed forces seize ISIL’s last major stronghold in N.E. Syria

By Leith Aboufadel
June 17, 2018
AMN (AL-Masdar News)
BREAKING NEWS
BEIRUT, LEBANON (11:15 A.M.) – The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) scored a major advance in northeastern Syria, today, when their troops seized the Islamic State’s last major stronghold.
According to pro-SDF activists, their troops managed to take full control of Al-Dashishah after a short battle this morning with the Islamic State terrorists in the area.

If these reports prove true, this loss could be devastating for the Islamic State, as Al-Dashishah was the terrorist group’s headquarters in northeast Syria since they conceded Al-Shaddadi to the US-backed forces in 2016.

The Syrian Democratic Forces launched their second phase of Operation Jazeera Storm earlier this month, following a semi-successful campaign in the southeastern part of the Deir Ezzor Governorate.

Since launching the second phase of Operation Jazeera Storm, the Syrian Democratic Forces managed to seize over 15 localities from the Islamic State terrorists in a span of two weeks.
[END REPORT] 

******** 

Is U.K. regime negotiating with Russia, U.S. about SAA operations in S. Syria?

If the British were indeed involved I'd have to assume they were negotiating on behalf of the Saudi regime, which is now trying to keep as low a profile as possible regarding their actions in Syria.   

June 16, SouthFront:
On June 16, leader of the US-backed Alwiya al-Furqan Free Syrian Army (FSA) group Mohammed Majid al-Khatib said on his Telegram channel that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies may launch their long awaited military operation in southern Syria in the upcoming hours.
Al-Khatib claimed that Russia, the UK and the U.S. ailed to reach an agreement on southern Syria during a recent meeting. The commander didn’t reveal his sources, but the U.S. Military Operations Center (MOC) in Jordan usually provides the FSA with such important information.
Two days earlier, the U.S. Department of State warned that the U.S will take “firm and appropriate measures” in response to any attack of the SAA on the “de-escalation zone” in southwestern Syria.
Hours after U.S. threats, Syria’s Defense Minister Ali Abdullah Ayyoub visited SAA troops in the southern governorates of Daraa and al-Quneitra and inspected their readiness, according to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). [Pundita note: See official SAA photo at SouthFront of Ayyoub speaking with troops]
Despite this high tension the SAA and its allies will not likely launch their attack in southern Syria during the Eid al-Fitr holiday [it ends on June 17] in order to avoid criticism in the society.
[END REPORT]
Here's Colonel Pat Lang's June 16 analysis for Sic Semper Tyrannis of what's ahead for the southern offensive:
It seems evident that the SAA will clean up the rebel held area in Sweida east of the M-5 highway. When that is done they will line up north of Daraa City facing the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights. The deployment should be 20 miles or so wide.
They will then attack toward the Heights to clear rebels from SW Syria. This will be "all in," an attack with "horse, foot and guns" as they said in olden times. IMO they will make good progress since most of the really hard asses in the SAA have been assembled for the task.

DJT [President Trump] will then hear the siren song of his family, the Zionist lobby, Bibi's government and various cats and dogs insisting that US Air be committed against this "threat against Israel."
The nuttier people in Israel have been trying to claim that the attacking force will have in it a lot of Iranians and Hizbullahis in SAA uniform. That suggestion fell apart when the IDF G-2 himself stated that it was untrue. Even Liberman the Mad [Israel's defense minister] has admitted it is not true. How inconvenient. Well, the White Helmets will probably come forward to say that the IDF was mistaken.
DJT is making peacemaker noises. By his actions we will judge him. pl
[END]
I think Trump will go along with what the Saudis tell him to do in Syria. If they're deciding to fold their cards, SAA operations should proceed in the manner the Colonel outlined.

********

Saturday, June 16

Another claim that U.S. is planning chem weapon provocation in Syria

US Preparing Chemical False Flag Attack at al-Tanf – Damascus Source
14:38 - 16.06.2018
Sputnik

Syrian Human Rights Network head Ahmad Kazem has told Sputnik that US intelligence was preparing a provocation involving chemical weapons near al-Tanf, Syria, and that its purpose will be to drive a wedge between Damascus and Syria's Kurds.
"Right now [at At Tanf] preparations are being made by US special services in coordination with Daesh (ISIS) in the region to stage a provocation identical to the kind that took place in Douma," Kazem said. "Kurds, including women and children, are being prepared for the false flag operation," he added.
Kazem thinks there is an 'extremely strong' probability for the provocation to be carried out. "It is being prepared with the goal of causing a collision between the Kurds and the Syrian army," he said.
On Monday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that the ministry has received information from numerous sources that Free Syrian Army militants and US special operations forces were preparing a false flag attack involving the use of poisonous substances in the eastern Syrian region of Deir ez-Zor.
The US, the UK and France launched a missile strike against Syria in April after what they claimed was a chemical attack in Douma, Eastern Ghouta. Damascus and Moscow condemned the attack, and pointed out that the tripartite had offered no substantive evidence that a chemical attack actually took place.
The United States occupies a 54 km zone around its military base at At-Tanf, where it trains and equips Syrian armed opposition forces. The situation at the nearby US-controlled Rukban refugee camp has been called a "humanitarian disaster," and is estimated to contain upwards of 60,000 refugees. The Russian defense ministry has accused al-Tanf of "spewing ISIS mobile groups who make inroads to launch subversive terrorist operations against Syrian troops and civilians."
[END REPORT]
For an earlier claim see Russian Defense Ministry warns of new fabricated chemical provocation in Deir Ezzor; June 11, SANA
The tide is turning in Syria. For background on anti-American uprisings there, see my posts on June 3June 10 and June 11. 

So it's coming to the point where it doesn't matter whether claims about a chem weapon provocation are true or false. What matters is that many Syrians would now believe the United States is behind a chemical attack. That opens the door for people who'd stage a chemical weapon attack on civilians, and instead of blaming the Syrian government they'd blame the American one.

Yet the American command seems unaware that by keeping U.S. troops in Syria and using a proxy fighting force there, it's playing with fireworks next to an open powder keg.

********


H7N9: The highly lethal new avian flu virus dubbed Disease X UPDATED 10:15 AM ET

UPDATE
I've heard from an expert who's been tracking the virus. He assured me the H7N9 strain is nothing to worry about. It's a shame I didn't think to ask for his analysis BEFORE I posted the Sun report. I've written him back to ask if I could publish his explanation on why he's not worried about Disease X. But right now I'm cross-eyed from lack of sleep and must hit the sack.  
END UPDATE

‘DISEASE X’ FEARS 


Terrifying new strain of bird flu that kills over a THIRD of those who contract it discovered in China amid fears of new global pandemic

By Mark Hodge
15th June 2018, 3:19 pm
Updated: 15th June 2018, 7:08 pm

The Scottish Sun [U.K.]

A NEW strain of deadly bird flu which kills 38 per cent of those infected and could spark a global pandemic has been identified in China.

Scientists around the world believe the new pathogen, dubbed “Disease X”, could be as lethal as 1918 Spanish flu, which killed up to 100 million people.

Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer for England, told The Telegraph that virus H7N9, which is circulating in poultry in China, could cause a global outbreak.

He said: “[H7N9] is an example of another virus which has proven its ability to transmit from birds to humans. It’s possible that it could be the cause of the next pandemic.”

In China, the deadly pathogen has killed 623 of the 1,625 people who've been infected.

[Inset: How to avoid getting bird flu from infected livestock] 

While the virus cannot yet be passed from person to person, experts believe it is only three mutations away from being able to spread from human contact.

The symptoms of H7N9 include a high fever, cough and shortness of breath which can then develop into pneumonia.

Once the disease has developed, those infected develop acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock and organ failure.

Older people, pregnant women and those with existing health problems are most at risk, according to the World Health Organization.

Bird flu can spread to people when they have direct contact with the infection. This can occur when humans touch dead or alive contaminated birds, their droppings or secretions from their eyes.

Visiting live bird markets in countries that have suffered from avian flu outbreaks is sometimes also a cause for concern.

The NHS explains that “close and prolonged contact with an infected bird is generally required for the infection to spread to humans.

[END REPORT]

The headline at Drudge Report is wrong; at this point the virus kills 38 percent of the people infected, not 50 percent, but thanks to Drudge for the alert.This is the first I'm learning about the virus. But the statement in the report "Bird flu can spread to people when they have direct contact with the infection" is only correct as far as it goes. 

The virus can also be transmitted across a distance in aerosolized form (droplets carried through the air by coughing, etc.) and on dust motes wafting through the air.

So if/when a virus reassorts ('mutates') to the point where it can be transmitted human to human, one big question is always how easily it can spread.

We'll just have to wait and see what the Disease X virus does. It could always reassort to a less lethal form.

*********

By making the threat to Assad public the Trump regime was actively interfering in reconciliation talks

The U.S. foreign office publicly delivered the threat on Thursday evening. This was during the middle of the critical 48 hour period the Syrian army had given insurgents in S.W. Syria to engage in reconciliation talks or face attack. 

The pressure to negotiate was removed from the insurgents once the U.S. announced it would take strong action if the SAA started operations in S.W. Syria.

I don't know whether the announcement forced the SAA to extend the deadline but in any case it's been extended, as I noted yesterday.

I await the next move by the Trump regime to support al Qaeda in Syria. 

Background news reports


ONCE AGAIN, U.S. WARNS SYRIAN ARMY FROM ADVANCING IN SOUTHERN SYRIA; June 15, SouthFront

US threatens decisive ‘response’ if Syrian Army launches southern Syria offensive; June 15, AMN
SAA extends 48 hour deadline for reconciliation talks in S.W. Syria; June 15, Pundita - AMN and Reuters reports

********

Israel: No Iranian forces wearing Syrian army uniforms. Will someone inform the Wall Street Journal?

ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER DENIES MSM CLAIMS, SAYS NO DISGUISED IRANIAN FORCES IN SOUTHERN SYRIA
June 16, 2018
SouthFront

On June 15 Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman confirmed during an interview with the Israeli radio station 103FM that Iranian forces are still present in southwestern Syria. However, Liberman denied that these forces were disguised as Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers or operating within its ranks.

A week earlier a Wall Street Journal report had claimed that Iranian forces and Lebanese Hezbollah had returned to the southern governorates of Daraa and Quneitra dressed in SAA uniforms and raising Syrian flags after initially appearing to withdraw. According to the Wall Street Journal the Iranians and Hezbollah did this to avoid Israeli airstrikes.

Back then, the US-based newspaper didn’t present any evidence to support its claims and said that its sources were “rebel commanders,” who are well-known for their stands against the SAA and its allies.

Israel and the US had stepped up their political and military pressure on Iranian forces and Hezbollah in Syria since the beginning of this year in order to push them out from the war- torn country. At the same time the mainstream media increased its reports about the “Iranian presences in Syria.”

Lieberman’s statement confirms that the Wall Street Journal report was nothing more than a part of the ongoing propaganda war against Iranian forces and Hezbollah in Syria.

[END REPORT]

**********

Take a good look at what we meddled with. We who know nothing.

I'm addressing this post to American readers. Americans need to get a better idea of what we've been blindly meddling with in Syria. By publishing a printable version of the article I've linked to below, Israel's Haaretz made it easy on the reader; no ads or photographs, no 'Like" or Twitter icons -- nothing to distract the mind from the task of learning from the written word. 

As awful as their actions in Syria, at least the Saudis and Turks know the history of modern Syria -- as do the British and French regimes, which don't seem to have progressed much in their actions in the Middle East since the days described in the Haaretz article.

We in America know nothing. Yet during two regimes, the Obama and Trump ones, we have treated entire populations of humans as guinea pigs. We have treated a nation --  actually a young nation -- as a test laboratory for our ideas of bringing democratic progress to a 'developing' part of the world. 

Now we leave it to Assad, Xi, and Putin to pick up the pieces of our failed experiment, while carping at them even though we understand nothing of what they're are doing to save a nation.
   
Israel’s secret war for Syria’s independence


Archival documents shed new light on Israel’s secret efforts to guarantee Syria’s sovereignty after 1948, and reveal the surprising relations that existed between the two countries as they each fought for their independence
By Meir Zamir | Jun. 15, 2018 | 4:15 PM
Haaretz



H/T Antiwar.com

********


Friday, June 15

SAA extends 48 hour deadline for reconciliation talks in S.W. Syria

Top Syrian general visits troops in southwest Syria ahead of offensive
June 15, 2018
Al-Masdar News



BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:30 P.M.) – One day after the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s interview with Al-Alam [see below], his highest ranking general was sent to southwest Syria to inspect the forces before any offensive is launched.

According to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), Defense Minister Major General ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Ayoub traveled to southern Syria this morning to not only inspect the troops, but also celebrate ‘Eid Al-Fitr with the soldiers in Dara’a.

Maj. Gen Ayoub was briefed by field commanders on the combat operations of the army and armed forces in the area, stressing on the importance of combating the remnants of militants.

The top Syrian general often makes trips like these before the Syrian Army launches new offensives.

However, despite the massive build-up of troops, the Syrian Army has postponed their offensive in order to continue reconciliation talks with the rebel forces.

[END REPORT]


Syria's Assad says still pursuing political solution for rebel-held south
Reporting by Lisa Barrington
June 13, 2018 - 3:52 PM ET
Reuters 

BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Wednesday his government is still pursuing a political solution for Syria’s rebel-held southwest, but will use military force if this fails.

We are giving the political process a chance. If that doesn’t succeed, we have no other option but to liberate it by force,” Assad said in an interview with Iranian channel al-Alam News published in an English translation by Syrian state news agency SANA.

The southwest, bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, is one of the remaining parts of Syria still outside the control of the state after seven years of conflict. Assad’s forces have recovered swathes of territory from rebels with the help of Russian air power and Iran-backed militias.

Assad has repeatedly pledged to take back “every inch” of Syria.

Since last year, a “de-escalation” deal brokered by Russia, the United States and Jordan has contained fighting in the southwest.

Washington has voiced concern about reports of an impending Syrian army offensive there, warning of “firm and appropriate measures” in response to any violations of the ceasefire.

“Contacts are still ongoing between the Russians, the Americans and the Israelis,” Assad said, when asked whether the situation in the southwest would be decided through reconciliation or military means.


ALLIES AND ENEMIES

Iranian and Russian support has been critical to Assad’s war effort, but Israel is pressing Russia to make sure Iran and its allies including Lebanon’s Hezbollah do not entrench their military sway in the country.

Israel has carried out missile strikes on what it says are Iranian targets in Syria, and is suspected of being behind a number of other strikes on Iranian and Hezbollah positions.

In his interview Assad said Iran does not have any military bases in Syria, unlike Russia. But he said that if there is “a need for Iranian military bases, we will not hesitate”.

Assad said his Syrian troops are supported by fighters from Iraq, Iran and Lebanon.

When asked if he had asked Lebanese Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah to leave Syria, Assad said the group would remain until “Hezbollah, Iran, or others believe that terrorism has been eliminated. 
Hezbollah is a basic element in this war - the battle is long, and the need for these military forces will continue for a long time.”

Syria’s multi-sided conflict has drawn in a number of foreign powers.

Assad said Syria had invited Iran and Russia to participate, but that he regarded American, French, Turkish and Israeli forces acting on Syrian territory as occupying powers.

“Our position as a state has been from the beginning to support any act of resistance, whether against terrorists or against occupying forces, regardless of their nationality.”

The U.S. military is in much of the east and northeast, leading a coalition against Islamic State and backing the Kurdish and Arab forces which control the area.

Turkey has sent forces into the northwest to counter the Kurdish groups, carving out a buffer zone where anti-Assad rebels have regrouped.

[END REPORT]

*********

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?