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War Chronicle 18 February 2016

1. Turkey and Russia are now at the brink of open, hot, warfare

2. 17 Feb 2016 Attack In Ankara Could Be A False Flag Incident

3. Erdogan Defies Security Council Call to Stop Shelling Syria

4. The “Crazies in the Basement” vs the Reality on the Ground

5. UN SC Concern about Turkish Attack on Kurds Inside Syria. 16 February 2016

6. Syrian Kurds, Backed up by Russian Air Force, Liberate Strategic City of Tel Rifat

7. ISIL Commander, Deputies, 71 Militants killed in Syrian Army Attacks in Deir Ezzur

8. A Dangerous Escalation on the Turkey-Syria border

9. (Direct US-Russia Confrontation?) The “Cold War” Over Syria…Will Remain Cold

10. ISIS continues massive retreat as Syrian forces advance towards Tabaqa

11. Turkey flexes muscle in Syria (By M K Bhadrakumar, 14 Feb 2016)

12. The House of Saud, Syria, and Stupidity (Fars News Commentary, 14 Feb 2016)

13. Lavrov’s Munich Q&A With NATO Bootlickers Was Brilliant

14. The “Gates of hell” will be open in the coming months in Syria

15. Discussion of the “Race to Raqqa” in Syria.

16. Ah… The Terrible Turks, 14 February, by Colonel W. Patrick Lang

17. Road To World War III: Turkish Army Enters Syria After Second Day Of Shelling

18A. Financial Times: Russia Ended U.S Lawlessness In the Middle East

18B. Russia Has Destroyed the CIA’s Arms Smuggling Operation in Syria

19. Journalist Eva Bartlett: The Media Is Lying To You! Do we need a bigger war?

20. Mannagh Airbase Liberated by Kurds. Syria’s war won or lost in Aleppo Governate?

21. World View: U.S., Britain, France Prepare Libya Military Offensive for 2016

22. The Rise of Psychological Trauma in Occupied Palestine

23. Statement of Palestinian groups and individuals about the global war on Syria.
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1. Turkey: “We Have Reached the Brink of our Patience” — RUSSIA: “We have enough preparation for war with Turkey”

17 February 2016 Post by U.S.Reporter  https://www.superstation95.com/index.php/world/904

While the mass media in the US and the West utterly failed to warn readers/viewers about the terrifying seriousness of the fighting situation in Syria, both Turkey and Russia are now at the brink of open, hot, warfareThe world is now at the point where even a mistake by one side or the other can unleash ferocious war.

 Three days ago, Turkey began firing artillery shells into Syria.  Syria told them to stop, Turkey refused.   Russia, who is assisting Syria with its battle against Rebels and Terrorists, told Turkey to stop.  Turkey said “no.”

 So yesterday, Russia and Turkey took the issue to the United Nations Security Council   By a vote of 15 to 0, a unanimous UN Security Council resolution told Turkey to stop firing artillery into Syria. 

When asked by media if Turkey would comply with the UN Security Council resolution,Turkey’s permanent representative to the United Nations replied ‘Turkey-related decision of the UNSC does not exist. ‘

For the rest of yesterday, Turkey and others who support ISIS Terrorists and Syrian Rebels, publicly called for the insertion of ground troops into Syria.  Those calls were rebuked, denied or laughed-at.  This was the case because now that it has been proven that Turkey and Saudi Arabia have been supplying ISIS Terrorists inside Syria, and aiding rebels in that country to overthrow its government, the world realizes that the only reason Turkey and Saudi Arabia want ground troops sent in, is because their rebel/terrorist pals in Syria are LOSING!

As of late last night, it seemd that all efforts by the Turks and Saudis to get ground troops into Syria, would fail.  No one was being stupid about what’s (_really_) going on anymore.  Then, quite conveniently and almost on cue . . . . at about 11:40 AM eastern US Time today . . .

“Terrorist” Car Bombing

A massive car bomb exploded in Turkey’s Capitol, Ankara.   Reports indicate over 28 people have been killed and more than 61 injured. The target of the bombing was apparently two busloads of Turkish Army Troop-trainees. Before there could even be an investigation, it took less than an hour for the rhetoric from Turkish officials to begin:

Turkish security official: Initial signs indicate Kurdistan Workers’ Party insurgents were behind Ankara bomb targeting military vehicles–

Ahhhhh, the Kurds; who just so happen to be the people helping Syria and Russia fight ISIS Terrorists inside Syria.  Gee, what a coincidence!   Of course, this cannot possibly be a “false flag” attack to trigger public outcry and provide the Turkish politicians with an excuse to send ground troops into Syria, can it? 

According to local media reports, Turk President Erdogan, has convened an emergency Cabinet Meeting over this “attack.”  It is widely expected his decision will be Blame the Kurds, claim that Syria is helping the Kurds, and send ground troops into Syria.

If that takes place, those ground troops will be engaged by Russia forces inside Syria, who have repeatedly warned that “If foreign ground  troops enter Syria without Damascus’ permission, it will be a declaration of war.”

……………………………………………….Daily Mail UK reports:

CCTV footage captured the shocking moment a car laden with explosives detonated during rush hour in the centre of the Turkish capital of Ankara, killing at least 28 people.

The target of the blast, which also injured at least 61 people, was a convoy of military service vehicles in the administrative centre of the capital city.

Footage shows several cars slowing as they pass a convoy of buses, reported to have been carrying members of the armed forces, which was attacked as it waited at traffic lights.

The screen suddenly goes white as the bomb exploded, although it isn’t clear from the footage from which car the explosion originated.

Footage: CCTV images show cars filing past the convoy of military buses, which were attacked as they waited at traffic lights in the Turkish capital of Ankara

Footage: CCTV images show cars filing past the convoy of military buses, which were attacked as they waited at traffic lights in the Turkish capital of Ankara

Blur! It isn’t clear from the footage from which car the explosion originated, as a number of cars slow down alongside the bus before the screen turns a bright white in the blast

Aftermath: Smoke fills the streets of Ankara just moments after a car bomb exploded, killing at least 28 people and injuring 61, according to latest estimates

Horror: At least 28 people are dead and 61 others injured in an explosion believed to have been caused by a car bomb in the Turkish capital of Ankara

Horror: At least 28 people are dead and 61 others injured in an explosion believed to have been caused by a car bomb in the Turkish capital of Ankara

The attack took place near a busy intersection less than 500metres from parliament, and also near to the city’s armed forces’ headquarters and government buildings, during the evening rush hour.

Plumes of smoke were seen rising over the city and the powerful blast was heard across several neighbourhoods, sending residents rushing to their balconies in a panic.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3451415/At-five-people-dead-10-injured-car-bomb-explodes-outside-military-barracks-Turkish-capital.html#ixzz40UbAgFLY

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2. 17 Feb 2016. Today’s Attack In Ankara Could Be A False Flag Incident

http://www.moonofalabama.org/

Turkey will likely blame the Turkish Kurdish PKK for this incident and will extend the blame to the Syrian Kurdish version of the PKK, the YPG. But if this is not a Turkish stage-managed false flag attack it is more likely an Islamic State terror attack than one by the PKK.

Michael Horowitz @michaelh992
#ISIS released the latest edition of its magazine in Turkish, specifically targeting the Turkish military #Turkey
6:58 AM – 26 Jan 2016

As to what follows from this incident consider also this:

Saud Al Tamamy @Saud_AlTamamy

Saud Al Tamamy Retweeted قناة الإخبارية

For the second time in less than 24 hours: a phone call between King Salman and President Erdogan.

MK Bhadrakumar, who was India’s ambassador in Turkey in 1998-2001, reminds us that disagreements between Turkey and the U.S., like the ones we have seen during the last weeks, are not necessarily what they seem:

Although Washington and Ankara appear to be preoccupied with a verbal brawl over christening Syrian Kurds as “terrorists” or not, there is a long history of the two NATO allies working in tandem while dissimulating difference of opinion to mislead outsiders.

Turkey has a consistent record of making defiant noises but ultimately falling in line with Washington’s guidelines. Such situations can be multiplied. Thus, it is entirely conceivable that the open support voiced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday for Turkey’s proposal to create a ‘no-fly zone’ in Syria would have enjoyed some measure of American approval.

Turkey’s Prime Minister yesterday said they would not give up on the Azaz pocket and the city of the same name currently held by CIA/Turkey/Saudi sponsored terrorists against the Russian supported Syrian Kurds.

The hectic communications over the last days, the likely fall of Azaz to Syrian Kurds and this “terror attack” in Ankara lets me assume that we will very soon witness a serious escalation by Turkey and its allies against Syria and its allies.

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3. Erdogan Defies Security Council Call to Stop Shelling Syria

by Stephen Lendman. 17 Feb 2016

Turkish cross-border shelling of Kurdish PYD forces and civilian areas in northern Syria continued for the fifth day, showing no signs of stopping.

An unnamed Ankara official said “we want a ground operation. If there is consensus, Turkey will take part.” 

“Without a ground operation, it is impossible to stop this war” – code language for Russian air power and Syrian troops turning the tide of battle, perhaps decisively, Washington and its rogue partners desperate to change things in their favor, unable to so far.

Neither Turkey or Saudi Arabia intend launching ground and/or air operations without US permission, an American proxy force if unleashed, a reckless act, upping the stakes hugely, risking war with Russia. 

Its forces will challenge any threat to their security, authorized by Moscow, local commanders given discretion to act on their own. Make no mistake. They won’t hesitate.

According to Turkish deputy prime minister Yalcin Akdogan, Ankara want to annex a 10 km “secure strip” inside Syrian territory, further aggression if attempted, on the phony pretext of creating an area “free from clashes.”

Government ground forces, likely supported by Russian air power, will contest any lawless Turkish attempt to seize Syrian territory, a potential flashpoint, risking dangerously escalated war.

On Tuesday, Security Council members met in closed-door session, requested by Russia, current SC president Venezuelan envoy Rafael Ramirez, saying:

SC “members are concerned with the Turkish attacks on a number of Syrian regions. (They) agreed to ask Turkey to comply with international law” – a hollow gesture without teeth.

US veto power blocks responsible action, including holding Washington fully responsible for waging war on Syria, using ISIS and other terrorist groups as proxy foot soldiers.

Following the closed-door session, Syria’s UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari minced no words, saying:

“Turkey (is) push(ing) all sides to escalate (conflict) in Syria.” Its “hostile acts (got some of its allies) to express concern.”

He explained “the complicity of Turkey with Qatar and Saudi Arabia (along with Washington and other rogue partners) against Syria and its allies.”

These “terrorism-supporting countries are suffering from hysteri(a) due to the Syrian army’s progress on all fronts” – effectively smashing ISIS and and other terrorist fighters.

read more at http://sjlendman.blogspot.com.au/

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4. The “Crazies in the Basement” vs the Reality on the Ground

By Patrick BAHZAD, 16 Feb 2016

http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/02/syria-round-up-the-crazies-in-the-basement-vs-the-reality-on-the-ground-.html#more

The “crazies in the basement” is an expression that was coined originally by some unknown member of George W’s administration. It used to designate the small clique of Neo-Cons who had found their way into Bush junior’s team of advisors, before they rose to dubious fame after the 9/11 attacks. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, at the time Colin Powell’s chief of staff, described their status enhancement from “lunatic fringe” to top executives in the White House with his Southern sense of humour, adding that they had become almost overnight what was henceforth called the Cheney “Gestapo”. And what happened over the weekend in the Middle-East – and in D.C. – certainly looked like a distant but distinct reminder of that period in the early 2000s when “crazies” coming right out of a dark basement took over the policy agenda on questions that would require adult supervision.

What had caused this wave of schyzophrenic hysteria taking over large portions of the mainstream media, think tanks, political analysts and pseudo-military experts ? To be honest, if you want to get to the bottom of it, you would have to dig real deep into the pool of strategic mediocrity combined with PR-spin that has taken over most of the Western world since the start of the Syrian civil war (and actually way before).

The ISSG communique

Let’s try and keep things simple though. It all started on Friday when the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) announced that an agreement had been reached regarding the Syrian conflict, providing for key measures to be implemented as far as humanitarian aid, cessation of hostilities and political transition were concerned. Kerry and Lavrov had worked hard to achieve this result and all of a sudden, it looked like years of efforts and resources aimed at removing Assad had been wasted and were actually going down the drain.

The announcement of this “cessation of hostilities” agreement did not go down well with the sponsors of the Syrian rebels (and Salafi or Jihadi groups) which were committed to overthrow Assad at any cost. In particular, the ISSG communique specified that terrorist groups recognized as such by the UN were specifically excluded from any form of cease-fire. In other words, not only would ISIS continue to be targeted by the Western Coalition (CJTF “Inherent Resolve”), but so would the Nusra Front and smaller Jihadi groups present in North-Western Syria, as well as any “Joint Operations Room” in which these groups featured prominently.

Basically, it also meant that most of the groups fighting Assad in that area were still “fair game” to both the RuAF, the SAA and their allies. Factually, it was a recognition that there is almost no “moderate” insurgency left in Syria, for reasons that can be debated of course, but in the end, there is no hiding from this fact, despite the massive PR-effort that the public in the Western world is being subjected to, day in, day out.

Following the ISSG statement, the sponsors of the armed insurrection – whether they were in Ryiadh, Ankara, Washington or Paris – panicked and went into over-drive. If the road map that was the “cessation of hostilities” agreement was implemented, even in parts, chances were that the regime change strategy would face total failure and the proxy rebels in Syria would contemplate assured destruction at the hands of the Russian lead military campaign on the ground.

Ryiadh and Ankara go AWOL

Turkey and Saudi Arabia, the main players having a bone to pick with Assad, had to come up with something. Maybe, there was also some kind of “good cop, back cop” routine agreed with the State Department, Kerry playing it nice, but mentioning “en passant” that a contingency plan was at the ready, if negotiations failed. Be that as it may, the reality is that Ryiadh and Ankara came up with a plan that can best be described as crackpot junk, if it wasn’t backed up by US military power.

For years, both these countries had refused to lift even a finger to confront ISIS on the ground and they were now considering a large scale ground offensive supposedly aimed at getting all the way to Raqqa and striking a decisive blow against Baghdadi’s “Caliphate”. The sabre-rattling operation went ahead at full speed, with Ryiadh stating its willingness to launch the Royal Saudi Army into the battle and announcing the transfer of a large fighter fleet to Incirlik airbase. As for the Turks, they insisted on the 70 000 men of their 2nd Army being positioned and ready to move into Syria and defeat the ISIS throat-cutters in their Raqqa stronghold. That they would incidentally march through Kurdish (YPG) held territory, disrupting any chance at Kurdish junction with their Afrin canton in the West, was probably to be considered an acceptable “collateral damage” to the benefits of taking back Raqqa.

There is a lot to be said about the lunacy at work in the planning of the alleged operation. A plan that must truly be considered the work of a mad professor, or a bunch of crazies in a basement somewhere. Now, recent history has shown that crazies can be dangerous and can hijack the foreign policy of a superpower, so let’s not dismiss the risk involved here. However, the level of amateurishness and military incompetence that has been the trademark of Saudi ground forces for years, combined with the serious domestic problems Ankara was certain to face if it ventured into Syria, made the mere prospect of a ground operation much less likely than the seemingly determined statements of these countries’ politicians led to believe.

And of course, there would also be aspects linked to the breach of international law, invasion of a sovereign country under no valid UN resolution, or the risk of confrontation and escalation with the SAA or – worse – Russian forces. To be honest, while hysteria and rumours of WWIII were taking over in the media and among Beltway experts, there was no way the Saudis in particular had the means or the resources to launch a large scale operation in Syria. Their forces have been bogged down in a bloody guerilla war in Yemen for almost a year now, and there is no end in sight to the fighting.

Saudi Crackpot junk

To imagine that Ryiadh could organise something vaguely resembling operation “Desert Storm” over longer distances, basically cutting through Jordanian and/or Iraqi desert in the South, stretching their logistics trail for hundreds and hundreds of miles, and/or operate from Northern Turkey, where air bases are closer and enemies are more numerous, was bordering on a sense of delusion far worse than the imperial hubris occasionally displayed in the US.

It became quickly apparent that the Saudi plan was a plan in name only. Chest thumping self-hypnosis maybe. Whoever has seen the Saudi army in action, knows that operating at the level of professionalism and military skill required for a ground invasion of Raqqa is far beyond anything they can master. Ryadh’s neighbors must have been all too aware of these limitations, for it didn’t take long until Kuwait, Jordan and Egypt declined the invitation to participate.

Without US leadership, without a UN resolution and without cooperation with Russia, none of these countries wanted anything to do with the Saudi and Turkish lunacy. And so the hawkish Saudis gradually had to tone down their big statements, finally coming to their senses: they would not be able to trick either regional actors or the all mighty USA into an ill-thought, ill-conceived and most probably ill-prepared operation in Syria.

The large air force detachment to be transferred to Incirlik air base has now been reduced to 4 jets, due to arrive in late February. The Juggernaut Saudi army that was to push all the way to Raqqa has now been trimmed down to SOF groups, under the control of “Operation Inherent Resolve”. Reason seems to have prevailed for now, but for a couple of days, things looked like a (very) bad Tom Clancy novel was being implemented in the real world.

The race for Raqqa

Regardless of what will go down in history as a mere sidenote of the Syrian civil war, and one more piece of evidence of the Saudis’ cognitive dissonance with the real world, there is no doubt that a race has started for who will arrive in Raqqa first. The US lead Western coalition and their GCC allies ? Or Assad’s SAA, together with its foreign allies ? Medium to long term, last weekend’s marginally funny episode has not changed this equation, the implications of which are huge for the future of Syria and the Middle-East in general.

We will get back into this important aspect in another piece. Suffice to say, that whoever reaches Raqqa first and manages to take over formerly ISIS held territory in Eastern Syria will hugely strengthen his position with regard to any future negotiation for a final settlement of the war. All the talk about “safe zones” or “no fly zones” in Northern Syria, under the pretence of creating a humanitarian corridor interdicted to any of the belligerents, is ancillary to this larger issue. Controlling the territory, and even more so its population, is the name of this game.

The final chapter in that game has not been written yet and it remains to be seen which of the two coalitions mentioned above will finally get the upper hand. On paper and on the ground, things look quite good for the R+6 at the moment. The often dispelled notion that the Russian involvement in the war might prove decisive is actually materialising on the ground and gaining momentum with each passing day.

Short SITREP of events on the ground

Aleppo is where all is going to be decided, just as SST has been saying all along. Most of the other fronts feature SAA advances and progress as well, whether in the South (Daraa) or North-West (Lattakia). In Palmyra and Deir ez-Zor, the SAA is holding its ground against ISIS. Once the dust of the “mother of all battles” that is taking shape in the Aleppo-Idlib area will have settled, and the various rebel groups there will have been destroyed or pushed back into Turkey, there is no doubt operations in the Eastern Syrian desert will gather more pace as well. For the time being, holding back ISIS is more than enough.

One area in the East is of particular interest though, as shown in a recent piece by TTG. The SAA advance towards Tabqa, just a few miles West of Raqqa, has large scale strategic implications in the fight against ISIS. Were the R+6 to get all the way to Tabqa air base, thereby cutting off ISIS’ main and only LOC to and from its territory West of the Euphrates, a pocket might be created that could potentially close onto all of the Caliphate’s troops and resources in that area. The main supply line of the Islamic State would be cut off, thereby confronting al-Baghdadi’s strategists with a huge military, political and administrative problem.

We are not there yet, but a window of opportunity has opened and if the R+6 is clever and shrewd enough, that window shall close with the take-over of Tabqa airbase and the adjacent lines of communication with Raqqa. The signal such a victory would send cannot be understated, for it would probably equal the beginning of the end for ISIS in Syria. Symbolically, also, the Caliphate would be cut off from one of its most cherished places: the small city of Dabiq, home to the “End of days” prophecy that features prominently in ISIS’ online magazine.

Azaz pocket closing down

But more short-term, there are two pockets already shaping up North and West of Aleppo. This is where the regime is intent on striking a devastating blow against what is left of the various rebel factions, at this point in time Salafi and Jihadi groups, most of which are “moderates” in name only. After last week’s junction with the besieged areas of Nubl and Zahra, R+6 operations have gathered momentum and what was initially a move aimed at cutting another rebel line of communication and supply, has now turned into the encirclement and reduction of the “Azaz pocket”, named after the most Northern town in the area, located just south of the border post of Bab al-Salameh.

It is a significant but not unexpected development that R+6 forces are cooperating closely with the Kurdish YPG militias in this area, as well as a few SDF units (mostly former FSA groups that have rallied R+6 forces). The action of the Kurdish YPG in particular is the main reason why Ankara has been threatening to take military action: the Turks see any further territorial gains made by the Kurds as a ‘casus belli’, given this might destablize their whole Southern flank, at a time Ankara is engaged in a ferocious domestic fight against Kurdish political dissent.

For all the chest thumping and threats coming out of Turkey, it is unlikely Erdogan will be so foolish as to engage in a ground operation on Syrian territory. Most probably, he will continue supporting proxy militias, despite the huge setbacks they have suffered in recent months, and will rely on occasional artillery fire or maybe small SOF incursions to try and prevent Syrian Kurds from developing their powerbase. His chances of success however look rather slim at the moment, given that the YPG has already received political guarantees both from Damascus and Moscow regarding political autonomy and military assistance, in exchange for cooperation towards ending the war on Assad’s terms.

The Final Battle

In that regard, the final blow will be dealt in the vast plains of Idlib province, where the R+6 hammer coming from Aleppo (in the East) will smash Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and FSA remnants against the anvil of Lattakia’s mountains (in the West). Currently, the last rebel stronghold in that part of Syria, the city of Kinsibba, is being surrounded by SAA and NDF units. They have already taken the high ground around the city and should be able to storm it soon.

With Kinsibba falling into R+6 hands, the battle in the mountains will be basically over and the noose will tighten a little further around the rebel groups centred on the city of Idlib. Once R+6 will have finished their “clear and hold” operations, they will take up new offensive positions and try and close up what is left of the rebels’ access to the Turkish border North of Idlib. Before the final onslaught, they will probably focus on taking the border area of Bab al-Hawa, West of Aleppo. They have various options to achieve this goal, and if the current operational pace is any indication, they should manage to do so in a not so distant future.

At that point, the “Idlib pocket” will close down on the rebels in the same way the Azaz corridor closed down on them last week. There will be nowhere to go, except back to rearbases in Turkey, assuming Ankara is willing to let in several thousand men in arms, or maybe into the Eastern desert, to link up with ISIS, hoping for a warm welcome which is in no way a foregone conclusion.

Strategic Relevance

What is interesting from a purely military point of view, is that Aleppo itself will not be subject to the scenes of urban combat and carnage that are being conjured up by spin doctors in the Gulf and in the West. Most of the city is already under government control. The large power plant East of the city, was retaken earlier today by the SAA’s “Tiger Force”, the spearhead of the “4th Assault Corps” that has been formed, trained and equiped by Russia since October of last year. Fighting and combat in Aleppo will die down as most of the rebels will follow the call to arms in Idlib province, and their splintered groups will not be able to offer more than sporadic fighting and terrorist attacks.

What we will be left with to contemplate is a campaign that will have gradually gained momentum, passing through an attritional phase with few tangible results (grinding down of the enemy), up to a point of strategic breakthrough, followed by an increase in operational tempo aimed at exploiting any weakness appearing in the adversary’s posture or following through on any tactical opportunity.

From this point of view, the campaign in North-Western Syria is characterized by two features that might also prove decisive in the struggle against ISIS. On the one hand, the rebels’ territorial continuity was targeted consistently, thereby breaking down the large territory they controlled into smaller and smaller areas, easier to clear and to hold. On the other hand, the logistics card proved to be the right one to play. Targeting supply lines through airstrikes and gradually cutting them off with ground troops was a winning tactic. Once again, these factors are evidence that the principles of war are timeless and that those who disregard them, preferring to indulge into the safety of their metrics and percentage war, do so at their own peril.

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5. UN SC Concern about Turkish Attack on Kurds Inside Syria. 16 February 2016

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=5PRXjyf8Bbo&t=12m&app=desktop

Following rare consensus in the UN Security Council condemning Turkish attack on Kurdish fighters inside Syria in the Q & A press conference Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the UN Dr Al Jaafari accused the US alliance of striking MSF hospital in Aleppo and accused Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF) of being a branch of french intelligence operating in Syria without consultation or permission by the Syrian government. “The WHOLE war on Syria is a war crime and a crime against Humanity.”

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6. Syrian Kurds, Backed up by Russian Air Force, Liberate Strategic Aleppo City of Tel Rifat

Fars News Agency, 15 February 2016. http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941126001563

TEHRAN (FNA)- Kurdish forces known as the YPG, who have recently bonded with the government, prevailed over the terrorists in the highly strategic city of Tel Rifat in Northern Aleppo and captured the city Monday night (15 Feb).

The People’s Protection Units (YPG) who enjoyed the Russian air backup prevailed the terrorists’ positions from the Western direction and shook hand with other Kurdish troops who entered the town from the North.

The YPG Kurds have recently bonded with the Damascus government. The Syrian army sent several arms cargoes to the YPG troops in the Northeastern province of Hasaka and trained the first group of Kurdish volunteer forces in the provincial capital city of Hasaka last week.

FNA battlefield dispatches said Monday night that heavy clashes are underway on the Eastern outskirts of the city as Ahrar al-Sham terrorists and groups of Al-Nusra Front – that have just arrived in Northern Aleppo (governate) via the Turkish territories – are retreating from their positions.

The Kurdish fighters, backed up by the Russian fighter jets, Syrian army artillery units and popular forces launched the assault on the terrorists in Tel Rifat in two fronts.

The first units of the YPG engaged in clashes with the terrorists from the Western direction of the strategic town North of Aleppo province, while other units started an attack from the Northern flank.

The first group arrived at the Western gates of the town on Sunday, while the second group had to purge several small towns and villages to open up the path to Tel Rifat and, hence, arrived in the Northern parts of the city on Monday.

The second groups of Kurdish fighters approaching the strategic town from the North comprised of YPG and SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) units.

The SDF that is comprised of mainly Kurdish fighters as well as a few hundred Syrian Arab dissident forces have received trainings from the US and have been provided with scanty US-coalition air support in their battles in Raqqa province in Northeastern Syria; but in Northern and Northwestern battlefronts, they have been operating alongside the YPG and received the Russian air backup in their Aleppo wars that started with the conquest of Tishrin Dam on the Euphrates early in February.

Assisted by the Syrian army – that has along with popular forces and Hezbollah conquered almost all militant-held regions in Eastern, Southern, Western and Northwestern Aleppo province – and Russian air support, the Kurdish forces fighting against the terrorists in North-Northeast Aleppo province have been making striking advances against the Al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and ISIL terrorists in February.

“The militant groups have been surprised by the rapid offensive of the Kurdish fighters and have been pinned down behind their defense lines in Tel Rifat,” sources from the Western flank told FNA on Sunday.

“The Russian warplanes carried out several combat sorties over the militants’ position in the around the town and destroyed their defense lines,” they added.

Later on Sunday, the Kurdish fighters, backed by Russian fighter jets, engaged in intense clashes with the terrorist groups at the Western entrance of the strategic town and captured several building blocks.

To hinder to slow down the rapid advances of the Northern units, Turkey relocated hundreds of terrorists from Idlib province to Aleppo via its soil in the weekend.

“At least 400 militants were transferred to Northern Aleppo to help the terrorists who are losing the ground to the Kurdish fighters who are backed by Russian air force,” Arab media outlets disclosed on Sunday.

In addition, the Turkish army started days of nonstop pounding of the Kurdish fighters in Northern Aleppo on Friday to pin them down specially in the North and prevent them from shaking hands with other Kurdish troops fighting in the Northern Aleppo town.

The Turkish army shelling has targeted both Syrian army positions in Northern Lattakia and Kurdish fronts in Northern Aleppo and continued for four days now.

Several villages in vast areas of Afrin in Northwestern Syria came under artillery shelling by the Turkish army and terrorist groups all throughout Sunday.

The Turkish army, Al-Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham pounded the villages of Marimin and Anab in Afrin region on Sunday. Residents of Marimin and Anab said that their villages were hit with over numerous rockets and 30 artillery shells today.

Report said on Saturday that Turkey’s army shelled Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) positions near the city of Azaz in Northwestern Syria. Turkish forces started shelling an airbase and a village, recently captured by Kurds, in Aleppo province in Syria.

A Kurdish official confirmed that the shelling targeted the Minaq air base located South of Azaz in Aleppo province.

“Turkish forces started shelling People’s Protection Units [YPG] positions on the territory of the Minaq airbase,” a YPG spokesperson told the Arabic-language TV channel, Al-Mayadeen on Saturday.

Turkey vowed on Sunday that it would not allow the pro-government forces in Syria to capture the militant-held city of Azaz close to its border.

On Monday, the Kurdish “People’s Protection Units” (YPG), enjoying Russian air backup, continued to advance against the militant groups in the Northern part of Aleppo province and stormed the militant groups’ defense lines near the small town of Kaljabrein in the surroundings of Tal Rifat, killing, at least, 40 terrorists.

The Russian fighter jets have played significant role in the recent victories of the Kurdish fighters in the province.

The Kurdish fighters seized control over Kaljabrein-Tal Rifat road and killed one of the commanders of Jeish al-Fatah, nom de guerre Ismayeel Naddaf.

Later on Monday, a main line of supply of the terrorist groups to Tal Rifat was cut by the heavy mortar shelling of the YPG forces.

“The YPG forces, deployed on the road of Ein al-Daqnah to Kaljabrein, pounded a road connecting Tal Rifat to the towns of Azaz and Marea in the Northern part of Aleppo province, leaving the militants in Tal Rifat with no way towards its Northern side,” sources said.

Sources also said “both the Kurdish fighters and the terrorists have been targeting each other by their artillery shelling since the early hours of this (Monday) morning”.

A report said earlier today that the Syrian army once again deployed the Russian T-90 tanks against the terrorists in Aleppo Front in Northern Syria.

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7. ISIL Commander, Deputies, 71 Militants killed in Syrian Army Attacks in Deir Ezzur

Fars News Agency, 15 February 2016. http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13941126000669

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army destroyed the military positions of the ISIL terrorist group in Deir Ezzur province, killing tens of terrorists, including senior commanders, in heavy clashes.

At least 71 militants were killed and 81 others were injured in the Syrian army’s attacks in al-Hamidiyeh, al-Aradi and al-Roshdiyeh neighborhoods of Deir Ezzur city on Monday.

An ISIL commander with Libyan nationality nicknamed Abu Islam al-Baghdadi and five of his deputies were among the terrorists killed in al-Hamidiyeh neighborhood.

On Sunday, the Syrian army stormed the ISIL gatherings in al-Roshdiyeh, al-Hwaiqa, al-Hamidiyeh, the old airport, al-Ma’amel roundabout and al-Rafasa, which ended in the killing or wounding of several militants.

The ISIL positions near the village of al-Mura’yeh in the Eastern part of the province came under the offensive of the Syrian army.

The ISIL terrorists’ weapons and ammunition were badly damaged in the attack.

In relevant developments in the Eastern battlefield of the country on Saturday, the Syrian army troops fended off the ISIL offensives near the strategic airbase of Deir Ezzur and killed many militants, including 14 foreign nationals.

Seven Saudis, three Iraqis, two Egyptians and two Tunisians were among the killed members of the ISIL terrorist group, whose attack on the government forces’ positions near the airbase was thwarted.

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8. A Dangerous Escalation on the Turkey-Syria border

By MURAT YETKİN, 15 Feb 2016, http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/a-dangerous-escalation-on-the-turkey-syria-border.aspx?pageID=449&nID=95174&NewsCatID=409

As Turkish artillery started pounding Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) military positions in Syria on Feb. 13, it became clear what Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu meant last week when he said: “Just wait, you’ll see.” 

Davutoğlu had been asked about the tension between Ankara and Washington over the PYD, which is regarded as a functional ground force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) by the U.S. administration but as a terrorist organization by the Turkish government, which sees it as the Syria branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Ankara was very upset after Brett McGurk, the anti-ISIL envoy of U.S. President Barack Obama, went to the PYD-held Syrian town of Kobane (bordering Turkey) and received a plaque from the hands of a “PYD commander,” who is a known PKK militant with an arrest warrant in Turkey. McGurk’s visit also came just after a visit to Turkey by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden. Following the controversial photo, President Tayyip Erdoğan asked Obama to decide who his partner was: His NATO ally Turkey or the “PYD terrorists.”

The answer came from a U.S. State Department spokesman: Turkey is an ally but the U.S. does not consider the PYD to be a terrorist organization like the PKK. Obama, who wants to keep the boots of U.S. soldiers away from foreign soil, needs foot soldiers on the ground to fight against ISIL and die if necessary.

When Davutoğlu told reporters to “wait and see,” he also said Turkey was determined to hit every terrorist target that it considered a threat. The fire by 155 mm Turkish “Fırtına-Strom” howitzers with a 45-km range on the weekend of Feb. 13-14 showed that he was not bluffing.

By then, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu had already announced it might be possible for Turkey to enter a ground war in Syria with Saudi Arabia. Çavuşoğlu also said Saudi planes might be deployed to Turkey’s İncirlik air base, which is currently used by the U.S.-led coalition against ISIL with the contribution of American and German war planes. But in the later hours of Feb. 13, the foreign minister made another statement saying there had been no such concrete plan to get involved in a ground operation in Syria. Then came the attacks on PYD positions.  

The Turkish military said the shelling of Syrian army and PYD positions was “reciprocal,” as in previous cases, and thus nothing new. Davutoğlu and Biden had a telephone call, during which the Turkish prime minister asked the U.S. to move the PYD away from the border, otherwise the Turkish military’s operations would continue. The answer came from D.C. again: A U.S. spokesman asked the PYD not to take the current opportunity to capture more land and also asked Turkey to stop firing. Only hours later, however, Turkish artillery fired fresh “reciprocal” rounds on PYD positions.

Meanwhile, a telephone conversation was held between Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin about forming a “united front against terrorism” in Syria.

If that front were to consider the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime a partner, as Russia wants, it would not only be a failure of Obama’s policies in Syria but it would likely make Turkey more nervous, as Ankara continues to insist that al-Assad must go – at least after a transition period.

Perhaps that anxiety is forcing the Turkish government to try to show that any Syria “solution” that sidelines Ankara would eventually fail. One of the key points here is the lack of information for Turkish public opinion other than the (sometimes contradictory) official statements and leaked propaganda material – both regarding tension at the border and the deal with Saudi Arabia.

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9. (Direct US-Russia Confrontation?) The “Cold War” Over Syria…Will Remain Cold

By Sami Koleib, Assafir (Lebanese Daily), 15 February 2016. Translated by G and I Kadi

Excerpts (read the whole article at http://intibahwakeup.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/the-cold-war-over-syriawill-remain-cold.html):


Turkey and Saudi Arabia want for either the Syrian Army and its allies to stop moving north, and this has become impossible for them to achieve, or for them to get a role in future plans, as they both consider that the current period is very fortuitous for them to put pressure on American Democrats just before Presidential elections.  They will also accept to have forces in the “international coalition”, and this is what Assad has refused in his last interview in which he said that the war in the north aims for, “cutting the link between Turkey and Aleppo”… We can only imagine Erdogan’s face when he reads this statement, and as he is fighting an internal war with Kurds, and feels that things are falling out of his hands…

With this complex regional and international Syrian scene, the main questions are the following: what is the true American position towards Assad?, how far did the American-Iranian agreement reach?, what is the level of American-Russian agreement about Syria? 

Obama will not allow anyone to drag him into a wider war before he leaves the White House.

Ghassan Kadi translated this from the Arabic at http://assafir.com/Article/474225

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10. “ISIS continues massive retreat as Syrian forces advance towards Tabaqa” – by TTG, 15 Feb 2016

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Yesterday (14 Feb ’16) Leith Fadel of Al Masdar News reported the SAA offensive to seize the Al Tabqah Airbase is proceeding nicely. Several correspondents of SST have already noted this and commented on its significance. The map above shows just how significant the seizure of Al Tabqah truly will be.

***********************************************

In the Al-Raqqa countryside, the Syrian Arab Army’s 555th Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division – in close coordination with the National Defense Forces (NDF), Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra (Desert Hawks Brigade), Fouj Al-Joulan (Golani Regiment), and the pro-government Palestinian militia “Liwaa Al-Quds) – imposed full control over several hills surrounding the imperative village of Zakiyah along the Salamiyah-Raqqa Road.

According to a military source in the Al-Salamiyah District, the Syrian Armed Forces established control over several small hilltops that surround the village of Zakiyah in southern Al-Raqqa after a fierce battle with the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham” (ISIS) this morning.

Recently, ISIS lost control of the Zakiyah crossroad that would allow them access to much of the Hama Governorate’s eastern countryside; this loss now leaves the terrorist group without a primary supply route to their stronghold at the town of ‘Aqayrib. (Al Masdar News)

Supporting the SAA 555th mechanized brigade is the Desert Hawks Brigade, a battalion sized force of SAA veterans and volunteers armed with light and medium arms. I am only guessing, but I would imagine the Desert Hawks make heavy use of “technicals” since it was often used to intercept rebel and ISIS columns in the deserts of central and eastern Syria. It is reportedly trained by the Iranians. Along with the other units, this SAA force reminds me of the Africa Korps, a small force operating in the desert away from the main effort that has the potential of producing a military success far surpassing its small size. TTG at http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/02/isis-continues-massive-retreat-as-syrian-forces-advance-towards-tabaqa-ttg.html

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11. Turkey flexes muscle in Syria (By M K Bhadrakumar, 14 Feb 2016)

http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/author/bhadrakumaranrediffmailcom/

The Turkish army has continued for the second day the shelling of the positions of the Syrian Kurdish militia across the border, demanding that the latter withdraw from the territories they’ve gained lately  in the northern Aleppo province, especially the strategic military base of Menagh, which is vital to the supply lines from Turkey for the Syrian rebel groups.

But the Kurdish fighters are defiant and have rejected the Turkish demand. In turn, they have warned that they will resist any Turkish incursion. The Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim told Reuters that the Turkish army will find “the entire Syrian people confronting them”.

The latest reports suggest that the Kurdish militia, with Russian air cover, are encircling another strategic town of Tal Rifat close to the Turkish border. To be sure, Ankara faces a frontal challenge from the Kurdish militia who have rubbished its ‘red lines’ to the west of Euphrates and are now steadily advancing to take control of the territories straddling the Turkish border.

The Turkish objective will be to carve out a buffer zone inside Syria, which it has long advocated, ostensibly to provide for refugee camps for people fleeing the conflict zone, but in reality to gain control of the border territories and prevent the Syrian Kurds from gaining access to them.

The estimation in Ankara seems to be that while the Obama administration had so far refused to go along with the Turkish project, this may no longer be the case as a body of influential opinion in the US increasingly favors the idea. In an article in the pro-government daily Sabah on Saturday, Turkey’s presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin strongly hinted that the US will accept as fait accompli any ‘buffer zone’ that the Turkish military might carve out inside Syrian territory.

Of course, an outright Turkish intervention will be a risky enterprise. For sure, it will meet with resistance – not only from the Syrian government forces and the Kurdish militia but also from the Hezbollah fighters operating in the Aleppo area. The big question will be as regards the Russian reaction.

Quite possibly, this explains the urgent phone call on a Sunday by US president Barack Obama to Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin readout describes the conversation as “frank and constructive” and quotes Putin as forcefully stressing the importance of the US “renouncing double standards”. (Kremlin website)

It is entirely conceivable that Turkey is preparing for some sort of  intervention in Syria. The emir of Qatar was in Istanbul to meet President Recep Erdogan on Friday; the Saudi fighter aircraft have arrived in the Incirlik air base.

Washington has expressed concern and has sought de-escalation but would know how headstrong is President Recep Erdogan who will not be easily deterred on his tracks if he sets his sights on something. The point is, Erdogan cannot watch helplessly as Turkey’s proxy groups in the Aleppo region are being systematically vanquished. The fall of Aleppo means defeat for Turkey and it will be a huge loss of prestige for Erdogan. This is the time to act since most of Aleppo’s eastern neighborhoods are now under the control of the government forces and the loss of the tenuous Azaz corridor will mean Turkey loses the means to supply the rebel groups trapped within Aleppo.

On the other hand, it is improbable that the Saudis are itching to put boots on the ground in Syria. The Saudis have taken the clever stance that they are willing to deploy the troops provided the US led from the front (which they’d know is unlikely to happen.) At the end of the day, Turkey would know that the Saudis are bluffing. And it is improbable that Turkey will go it alone.  (Read an insightful Iranian commentary at http://en.farsnews.com/print.aspx?nn=13941124001536)

Meanwhile, there is no let-up in  operations by the Syrian Kurds and the government forces (and affiliated militia). Trust them to relentlessly pursue through the coming weeks the objective of taking full control of the border regions with Turkey. And there is little likelihood of the fierce Russian air strikes slowing down, either. The next few days are going to be most critical. Turkey is the place to watch, as Erdogan figures his way out of the swamp.

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12. The House of Saud, Syria, and Stupidity (Fars News Commentary, 14 Feb 2016)

http://en.farsnews.com/print.aspx?nn=13941124001536

TEHRAN (FNA)- Albert Einstein (1879-1955) once said, “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

After all these years, many people still chuckle at this quote even though they have read it very many times. Perhaps, this is because it is inspirational and insightful in nature, and still relating to some people and even to some governments in some form, for instance, to an ambitious regime like Saudi Arabia.

This is a regime that is trapped in the mire of Yemen War, but still would like us to believe it has what it takes to invade yet another country in the Middle East, a sovereign nation like Syria, on the pretext of fighting ISIL, which happens to be its own spawn.

The problem is that the imaginary Saudi “deployment” has a lot of import behind it. The House of Saud would like to see the United States and NATO take part in its “regime-change” invasion too, which is out of question. The Syrian government AND the United Nations are not giving Riyadh any permission to invade either.

Moreover, Iranian and Russian officials are warning against the silly rhetoric, with Premier Dmitry Medvedev warning that the Saudi invasion could spark a “new world war”. Likewise, top military aide to Iran’s Supreme Leader Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi says the Saudi Syria deployment is silly propaganda, a ruse designed only to do some damage control. In his words, “If the Saudis had enjoyed such capability, they would have already done so in Yemen.” We couldn’t agree more:

The Saudi deployment, under the cover of fighting ISIL terrorists but really aimed at ousting President Bashar al-Assad, is wishful thinking. If they had the guts to invade Syria, they would have done it many years ago, particularly when their terrorist goons had the upper hand and were in control of large swathes of land in both Iraq and Syria. It’s a luxury they no longer enjoy.

The Saudi deployment is a bluff aimed at pressuring Iran and Russia to give incentives at Syria talks, such as accommodating their ceasefire demands – at a time when the Iranian-Russian-backed Syrian Army has encircled Aleppo and is gearing up for a battle that will determine the outcome of the five-year-old war.

– The Saudi deployment has been welcomed by Washington but that’s all really. Washington will never commit the folly of risking a direct confrontation with Russia for a “political joke.” Quite the opposite, US Secretary of State John Kerry has agreed with Iran and Russia to a cessation of hostilities in Syria set to begin soon. This is while Iran and Russia reject the calls for resignation of President Assad or including various terrorist groups in the list of non-hostile targets. They say the UN-brokered talks is between Damascus and opposition, and not the Saudi-backed terrorists.

All this and more explains why the House of Saud will never be able to get the US and NATO to commit ground troops to lead its imaginary invasion. The panicked House of Saud and its partners in crime know better than anyone else that they don’t have the guts to do anything beyond pounding the poorest Arab country into dust called Yemen – the Obama administration’s shame. They also know better than anyone else they cannot win that unjustified war either.

Simply put, the Saudi Syria deployment is a desperate attempt to rescue their failed policy of regime change. Their stupid ambitions outsize their “hired” military capabilities in this reality-based universe called Syria.

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13. Lavrov’s Munich Q&A With NATO Bootlickers Was Brilliant

by Paul Kaiser on 14 Feb 2016 at http://russia-insider.com/en/lavrov-curb-stomps-nato-bootlickers-munich-security-conference/

The speeches given at yesterday’s Munich Security Conference were frankly too depressing and cynical to write about. John Kerry, for example,accused Russia of “repeated aggression” and bombing “legitimate opposition groups” in Syria.

Instead we’ll focus on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s Q&A session with a room full of (mostly) hostile NATO bootlickers. Results were predictable. One of our favorite exchanges:

Question: I understand all the above-mentioned problems in relation to the United States and missile defense. Besides the fact that according to the INF, Russia equates drones to cruise missiles, I would like to note that the US President Obama had significantly reduced European missile defense. If there are problems in relation to the United States, why should Ukraine pay for it? Referring to the annexation of Crimea and attempts to divide Ukraine. What did the poor Ukrainians do that you punish them for the sins of the Americans?

Lavrov: I understand that you have, of course, a twisted perception…It was not us who pulled out of the Missile Defense Treaty. It was not us who refused to ratify the adapted CFE Treaty. Now we need to collect bit by bit what we still have left and somehow based on the reconfirmation of the Helsinki principles to negotiate a new security system, which would be comfortable for everyone, including Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova – all, whom our American colleagues had put before a choice: to move towards the West and to reduce cooperation with Russia. It is a fact.
I am aware that American ambassadors around the world receive such instructions. I see here A. Vershbow, who recently gave an interview, calling NATO “the most peaceful bloc in the world” and “the hope of the European stability and security.” And who bombed Yugoslavia, Libya, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions? The achievements brought by unilateral actions we are seeing now in the Middle East. We want NATO to not be just an exemplary organization, which it is presented as, but a participant in equal dialogue for stability. What’s wrong with that? Everyone wants us to recognize a subordinate role of all others in relation to the United States and NATO. I don’t think it is in the interests of world peace and stability.

Watch Lavrov’s full address and Q&A session on C-SPAN.

http://www.c-span.org/video/?324248-2/russian-foreign-minister-lavrov-munich-security-conference

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14. The “Gates of hell” will be open in the coming months in Syria

By Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai), 14 Feb 2016.

https://elijahjm.wordpress.com/2016/02/14/the-gates-of-hell-will-be-open-in-the-coming-months-in-syria/

A high-ranking officer within the joint operations room in Damascus, which includes Russia, Iran and Syria and Hezbollah said, “there are three possible scenarios in Syria: The first is the Arab ground troops would enter Syria from the Turkish borders, in the area under the so-called “Islamic State” group (ISIS) on the long bordering front from Jarablus to Al-Ra’ee. This can be possible and quickly achievable if a kind of an agreement is reached between Turkey and ISIS. After all, the Jihadist group has to face either the Turkish-Arab forces – that could allow a possible exit – or the Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah forces where there will be no exit”.

The second scenario is through the Jordanian borders East of Syria up to Raqqa. A longer road but would allow Saudi Arabia to bring its logistic and armoured support to push all the way to the ISIS-controlled land. In both scenarios, these troops, Arabs or Turkish-Arabs, would not clash or contact or even walk into the Russia-Damascus and allies military operational stage. The third scenario is that the Saudi are boosting the moral of the Jihadist by advertising a possible intervention so these don’t surrender easily and hold the ground for as long as possible”.

The source said: “Any scenario is linked to the will of the United States to be engaged in a war in Syria. This is exactly what the Saudi officials said. The U.S. is sending the Awacs aircraft because any U.S direct intervention on the ground is totally excluded. This could be the U.S. contribution, along the diplomatic effort in Geneva. Never the less, we build our military reaction based on the strong possibility that the Arab ground troops are most likely to invade Syria. These forces, under the title of defeating ISIS, won’t reach Raqqa overnight. Logistic support and troops movement from Jordan into Syria require between 3 to 4 months to be completed. These forces, in this case, are expected to advance from Jordan, into al-Badiyah and continue up north toward Raqqa, the northern Syrian city, as a possible scenario. Any potential contact with the Syrian forces could lead to a larger war”.

“We do not exclude the fact that Saudi Special Forces could act behind ISIS lines to guide airstrikes or carry small scale attacks. None the less, these forces cannot contribute to defeat ISIS but in directing specific targets. Any attack that could weaken ISIS is considered to our advantage. The U.S. led coalition can bomb ISIS any time but no ground troops would be welcome. Moreover, no jet is allowed to enter the Syrian space without prior coordination with Russia, otherwise it will be considered as a potential target. This is also another fact to consider. Therefore, no one is willing to see a large scale war, mainly President Obama who has avoided to be entangled in the Syrian war for the last two years”.

Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev said, “all parties should sit down at the negotiating table instead of causing an outbreak of a new world war”, rumbling the drum of war in Syria. The Russian warning came after the confirmation of a spokesman for the Saudi Defense minister Ahmad Asiri “the Saudi Kingdom has announced the establishment of the new Islamist alliance to fight terrorism and is ready to carry out air and ground operations within the international coalition led by the United States in Syria.”

The aim of the Arab forces is to divide Syria is two parts: “Gharbistan” (western) and “Sharqistan”(Eastern) similar to what happened in Berlin after World War II. In the first part, the Syrian army will continue fighting al-Qaeda and its allies with the support of Russia. While in the second part, the Arabs would establish their forces to impose a political change and could destabilise the regime. In the meantime, the regime forces are at 60km from Raqqa, while, Turkey is at 180 km from ISIS main city. Therefore, if the idea to defeat ISIS is genuine, the U.S led coalition doesn’t need to intervene and walk all this distance from Turkey or Jordan to Raqqa. However, The race to Raqqa is declared, with the possibility or without the possibility of an Arab-Turkish intervention”.

According to the source “the gates of hell will be open in the next 3 months in Syria against al-Qaeda and its allies and also against ISIS. As agreed in Geneva between Russia and the United States, any cease-fire shall not include Jihadists and their allies. If Syrian opposition groups do not disengage from al-Qaeda, they will be considered legitimate targets because they become united as one group and will be dealt with accordingly”.

Al-Qaeda in Syria, known as Jabhat al-Nusra, is part of Jaish al-fateh, a coalition of many Syrian groups operating in northern Syria. Al-Qaeda and Jihadist movements are sending reinforcement to northern Aleppo in the last 48 hours, but used to maintain a strong presence around Nubbl and Zahraa, the two cities that Russia and its allies (captured and) broke the siege imposed for over three and a half years. Al-Qaeda fighters pulled back toward the north of Aleppo, fighting in Tal-Rifaat, and others toward the south of Zahraa where they are fighting in Andan and Hay’yan.

According to the source, human and signal intelligence confirmed that “Saudi Arabia has asked Syrian opposition associated and not-associated with al-Qaeda not to waive any proposition in the Geneva negotiations and not to hand over any city in Syria without fighting. Time is crucial and Saudi Arabia will continue its military support to the opposition, waiting for a new U.S. (president) to be elected. The battle is expected to be more intense where everybody is holding the ground which indicates that the war is still far form being over”

Original article published at

http://www.alraimedia.com/ar/article/special-reports/2016/02/14/657188/nr/syria

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15. “Race To Raqqa” Discussion Thread (posted by b on 14 Feb 2016)

Discussion of the “Race to Raqqa” in Syria.

The earliest mention of this race came from Andrew Korybko in October 2015:

At that time the U.S. formed the Syrian Democratic Forces out of the Syrian-Kurdish YPG in eastern Syria and an assortment of Arab groups. The idea was to send that force against the Islamic State in Raqqa but the Kurds declined. We see a similar  scenario as discussed then but now with Turkish and Saudi troops aiming for Raqqa.

Our pieces on the race:

Today Elijah J Magnier provided additional information about the race from his sources within the Syrian-Russian-Iranian-Hizb command in Damascus:

Please at least skim through the above pieces before jumping into the discussion.

Comments

The US and Russia have already agreed that all of Syria will be a united and secular state. That being the case Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are working in opposition to that reality.
And therefore not only in breach of International Law and the UN Charter but the stated aims of the International Community. It is my firmly held opinion that neither Syria,Russia or Iran will accept, nor should they, foreign boots on the ground. Remember Putin talked about Syria being his red line, and that any aggressor would meet his ‘Stalingrad’.
The stakes are too high for Russia Syria and Iran not to win decisively, not only do they have International law on their side, their potential military advantage is great. Iran has a military alliance with Syria [and could send hundreds of thousands of troops at short notice].Iran will not renege on it. Bottom line the ‘Arc of Resistance’ will [must] prevail over aggression or the law of the jungle will descend over the whole of the middle east.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 14, 2016 10:50:01 AM

Magnier’s source sees a months-long preparation prior to an incursion from the south (Jordan). But this seems predicated on ISIS resistance which many (including PavewayIV and myself) don’t think would be significant.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 14, 2016 11:13:05 AM

 

Any invasion will be coordinated but it still all depends on US participation. That’s the only way it can be legitimized.

Posted by: dh | Feb 14, 2016 11:22:47 AM

 

Any scenario is linked to the will of the United States to be engaged in a war in Syria…

2)US forces have been/are on the ground in Syria since at least 2012

3)US drones have been/are buzzing Syria regularly

3)US fighter jets have been/are bombing Syria too

…satellites, awacs, myriad radar installations…

this no direct involvement meme is kinda droll, no?

Posted by: john | Feb 14, 2016 11:23:12 AM

 

It seems the legal consensus is that the Syrian Government must agree, so that this section of the Resolution is paramount. 5. Calls upon Member States that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures, IN COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW, IN PARTICULAR WITH THE UNITED NATIONS CHARTER, as well as international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law, [My bold]

Posted by: harry law | Feb 14, 2016 11:26:42 AM

Sputinik says that the Syrian Armed Forces are 35 km away from the Tabqua military airport at Raqqa. http://m.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/02/11/saudi-led-coalition-in-support-turkey-military-intervention-in-syria.html

It appears that if there is a “race” to Raqqa, then the SAF is about to win it. The 3-4 month scenario mentioned in the last Feb 14 “Gates to Hell” article posting doesn’t make sense in this context. Brings me back to my posted question as to whether the US 101st Airborne is going to be involved in the fighting, as suggested in the first Feb 11th post:

“The Saudis would fight under the control of the one brigade of the 101st airborne that was not announced to go for Mosul. The Saudis would deploy from Saudi Arabia via a U.S. controlled airstrip in west Iraq or through east Jordan towards Syria while the brigade from the 101st would probably deploy from the Kurdish area in north Iraq through the Kurdish areas in north-east Syria towards Raqqa. Raqqa would thereby be attacked from a north-eastern and a south-eastern. The airport of Rumeilan/Abu Hajar would be one of the major supply bases.”

Egypt, Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar were already dispatched to Saudi Arabia recently to participate in the joint military exercise “Thunder from the North”. In other words, the “coalition forces” are gathered together. Was this exercise designed to provide a force that could be sent into Syria? The Saudis are adamant that they will not go unless they are led by the US, which again brings me back to the question about the possible role of the US 101st Airborne.

However, direct US involvement would represent a major escalation, completely at odds with what is currently coming out of Washington (not that this means much). The MSM news reports now that the US has asked Turkey to stop its shelling of Syrian positions. This also seems at odds with an imminent US-led Saudi/UAE invasion.

Posted by: Perimetr | Feb 14, 2016 11:27:37 AM

harry law wrote: US and Russia have already agreed that all of Syria will be a united and secular state. That being the case Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are working in opposition to that reality.

They want a state that is ruled by Sunnis. They believe that the Sunni majority will vote in Sunni leadership. That was “Plan A”. But, in their view, Russia and Iran just want to prop up the Alawite regime led by Assad.

harry law wrote: It is my firmly held opinion that neither Syria,Russia or Iran will accept, nor should they, foreign boots on the ground…. [description of Russian and Iranian military commitment to Syria]

Any attacking force will be at a great disadvantage. That is why it is a ‘race’.

harry law wrote: The stakes are too high for Russia Syria and Iran not to win decisively…

The stakes are just as high for the ‘Assad must go!’ Coalition. But they don’t need to win decisively, just hold onto most of the gains made by their proxies.

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I realize that you don’t believe that UNSC 2249 allows for non-Syrian approved intervention, but the ambiguity in that resolution will be exploited if it is in the interests of the Assad must go! Coalition.

The October “Race to Raqqa” article that b links to in his post foresaw an intervention prior to adoption of UNSC 2249, as well as the accompaning “infor war”:

… the genuine liberating force in the war (the Soviet Army and SAA) is made to look like the bad guys, while the real bad guys (Nazis and Wahhabis) are presented as ‘victims’ of the liberators and garner Western sympathy for that exact reason.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 14, 2016 11:54:14 AM

 

This note was published by Royal Institute on International Affairs and entitled “Assessing the Legal Basis for UK Military Action in Syria” is quite clear on this very particular point of Resolution 2249 adopted last November 20 in New York by an urged Security Council:

“In order to provide legal authority for the use of force against ISIS under international law, a Security Council resolution would need to constitute a decision, taken under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, that states could use all necessary measures in their action against ISIS. Although resolution 2249 determines that ISIS is a ‘global and unprecedented threat to international peace and security’ and refers to ‘all necessary measures’, the language used in the operative part of the resolution is merely hortatory (‘calls upon’) and does not refer to Chapter VII. For those who are looking for specific UN authorization for the use of force, this is not it”.

Recently, two distinguished international lawyers entitled their analysis of Resolution 2249 (see article): “The Constructive Ambiguity of the Security Council’s ISIS Resolution“. For the authors of this article, the legal basis on which military actions can be taken in Syria is totally absent of the text:

Resolution 2249, on the other hand, is constructed in such a way that it can be used to provide political support for military action, without actually endorsing any particular legal theory on which such action can be based or providing legal authority from the Council itself. The creative ambiguity in this resolution lies not only in the fact that it does not legally endorse military action, while appearing to give Council support to action being taken, but also that it allows for continuing disagreement as to the legality of those actions”.http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-uk-parliaments-decision-to-bomb-syria-is-illegal/5493200
The US being a veto wielding member of the UNSC can of course engage in aggression any time it likes, as can Russia without so much as a rap on the wrist. If other members tried to censure their actions, they would simply veto it and consign it to the memory hole. Wonderful UN system this, when you are one of the privileged 5 who are above International law for all time.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 14, 2016 12:06:39 PM |

 

For a comprehensive view of the veto power at the UNSC this article by one of the best researchers in the UK is excellent http://www.david-morrison.org.uk/iraq/ags-legal-advice.pdf “Academic lawyers in their thousands may protest that taking military action against Iraq was illegal because it lacked proper authorisation by the Security Council, but it is of no consequence in the real world when there is no possibility of the UK, or its political leadership, being convicted for taking such action. It is meaningless to describe an action as illegal if there is no expectation that the perpetrator of the action will be convicted by a competent judicial body. In the real world, an action is legal unless a competent judicial body rules that it is illegal”.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 14, 2016 12:13:10 PM |

 

Replying to harry law

UNSC 2249 is ambiguous. The reference to compliance with the International law and the UN Charter can be interpreted in the narrowest sense as:

1) no authorization to overthrow the recognized government of Syria;

2) no authorization to annex Syrian territory.

UNSC is the ultimate authority as it was set up by UN Charter to address threats to international security.

Unfortunately, in the UNSC Russia chose to accept the ruse that ISIS/IS is a terr0rist group and not a proxy army. So the UNSC “call” for nations to act against ISIS gets interpreted as maxim lee-way for the ‘community of nations’ to address this threat.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 14, 2016 12:18:49 PM |

Replying to harry law

Chapter VII is invoked when UNSC makes a “call” upon Member states that is obligatory.

The “call” in UNSC 2249 is not obligatory.

UNSC specifically acknowledges that Syria and Iraq have lost control of ISIS-held territories. States that respond to this “call” are not taking Syrian territory but countering a global threat.

One could argue that Syria has no right to threaten, oppose, or hamper the nations that respond to the UNSC call to address the ISIS threat.

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Again, the fundamental flaw is the acceptance of ISIS/IS as a terrorist group instead of a proxy army.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 14, 2016 12:34:26 PM |

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16. Ah… The Terrible Turks, 14 February, by Colonel W. Patrick Lang, retired senior officer U.S. Military Intelligence & U.S. Army Special Forces (Green Berets)

Mehmet_I_honoraries_miniature

I worked in Turkey long ago, with the Turkish Army actually.  It was a very pleasant time, a two year vacation from the wars in SE Asia.  I like the Turks.  They are a lot like Americans used to be; blunt, inclined to direct action…  At the same time they treasure a pleasure in scheming that they share with the Syrian and Lebanese descendants of the vassals of the Ottoman state.

The US and the West in general have encouraged an attitude in Erdogan’s Turkey that mirrors Bibi’s statement that “the Americans can be pushed easily.”  We all look malleable to Erdogan.  He is an Muslim Brotherhood style salafi.  He wants to think we are degenerate and doomed to live in a world dominated by his kind of Islam. We have given him no reason to think that is not the future.  At the same time we have tolerated his traffic in IS oil coming across the border east of Azaz and west of Jarabulus.    Why have we done that?  We must know that the money derived from that trade supports IS.

Now he threatens Europe with release of masses of Muslim migrants upon them.  We deserve to be threatened.  We look soft.

Now the Turkish Army is shelling YPG positions around Menagh village and its airfield near Azaz in Syria.  Why are they doing that?  IMO they want to keep R+6 forces plus the YPG from closing the border Azaz-Jarabulus and the shelling is a warning.  They have said that the Kurds must withdraw from these positions and not return.

Turkish 2nd Army is massing north of the Azaz/Jarabulus sector of the border.  The Saudi Sunni led juggernaut is at least notionally intended for combat in Syria.  Yesterday I raised the straw man idea that they might motor march all the way to Baghdad and beyond.  That seems implausible.  On the other hand a sea movement around Arabia and through the Canal to a major port like Iskenderun is quite plausible, especially given the news that Saudi aircraft are deploying into Incirlik not far from Iskenderun.  A Sunni juggernaut/Turkish Army link up in SW Turkey would provide Turkish fire and logistical support to the Sunni juggernaut.

What role would the US play in a scheme like that?  Unknown.

Would the Turks/Sunni juggernaut actually invade Syria and risk war with Russia?  Unknown.  pl  

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-idUSKCN0VN0MA

http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/turkey-shells-kurds-in-syrian-border-village-after-recapture/2016/02/13/

http://www.voanews.com/content/activists-turkey-shells-syrian-kurds-for-2nd-day/3190340.html

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17. Road To World War III: Turkish Army Enters Syria After Second Day Of Shelling

Submitted by Tyler Durden on 14-Feb-2016 – USA time (15 Feb Aust. time)

On Saturday 13 Feb 2016, the geopolitical world was shocked when Turkey began shelling Aleppo, where the Syrian opposition has its back against the wall in the face of an aggressive advance by Hezbollah and the IRGC supported, of course, by Russian airstrikes.

To be sure, everyone knew Ankara and Riyadh would have to do something quick if they wanted to preserve the rebellion. Their proxies are being rolled up rapidly by Hassan Nasrallah’s army (Hezbollah) and Vladimir Putin’s air force juggernaut. But few expected the escalation would come so quickly.

But Recep Tayyip Erdogan is unpredictable (just ask the lone surviving pilot of the Su-24 Turkey shot down in November) and this weekend, he decided that there’s no time like the present when it comes to starting World War III.

Officially, Turkey says it’s shelling Kurdish positions in Syria in self defense. It’s all about securing the border against hostiles, Ankara says. Of course the idea that the YPG are set to invade Turkey is laughable. The Syrian Kurds have secured enough space in their own country to declare an autonomous proto-state, and they needn’t aspire to capturing Turkish territory.

They are abusing U.S. support to capture land from the opposition,”a Turkish official said, reflecting Ankara’s anger at the fact that Russia and Hezbollah’s offensive is making it easier for the Kurds to consolidate their gains. “The U.S. should tell them to stop rather than telling Turkey to stop.”

But for Erdogan, that’s precisely the problem. Ankara fears the YPG’s gains will embolden the PKK militarily and the HDP politically and last June’s elections clearly suggest that an emboldened Kurdish minority has the power to shake up the political scene.

And so, Turkey is set to take the fight to Syria in the name of fighting “terrorists”, which for Erdogan, means eradicating the Kurds. As we noted on Saturday, the challenge for Ankara and Riyadh is this: somehow, Turkey and Saudi Arabia need to figure out how to spin an attack on the YPG and an effort to rescue the opposition at Aleppo as an anti-ISIS operation even though ISIS doesn’t have a large presence in the area.

Incredibly, Turkey seems less concerned about the optics than we thought. In short, Erdogan looks as though he’s prepared to simply enter the war on the pretext that Turkey needs to roll back the YPG which, you’re reminded is explicitly backed by the US.

In a way that makes sense. You can’t very well shell Aleppo and use ISIS as an excuse. The group’s presence isn’t large enough in the area. But what you can do is say “the PKK are terrorists, they’re allied with the YPG who are in Aleppo, and therefore, we need to shell Aleppo.”

(Saif al Dawle neighborhood of Aleppo)

Put in the simplest possible terms, what Erdogan is really doing is trying to reopen supply lines closed by Russia and Iran by wiping out Kurdish forces who dominate the northern border with Turkey.

The shelling continued on Sunday. “The Turkish army shelled positions held by Kurdish-backed militia in northern Syria for a second day on Sunday, killing two fighters,” Reuters reports, citing the admittedly dubious Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The YPG controls nearly all of Syria’s northern frontier with Turkey, and has been a close ally of the United States in the campaign against Islamic State in Syria, but Ankara views the group as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade-old insurgency for autonomy in southeast Turkey.”

Jaysh al-Thuwwar, an allied group warned Turkey against further attacks, saying if the country “has goals in our dear nation, we will defend our land and our people, and view it as a hostile party”. Again, this comes from the very same groups the US is overtly supporting with arms and air power. So not the CIA-sponsored opposition. Turkey is shelling fighters who literally have the clearance to call in US airstrikes from warplanes that, in an irony of ironies, are flying from Incirlik, the Turkish air base. 

And speaking of Incirlik, the Saudis are moving into position. 

They’re also conducting “exercises” dubbed “North Thunder” or, “Road North.” Here’s SPA:

Witnessing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the next few hours the arrival of troops participating in the military exercise largest and most important in the history of the region, “Raad north,” In the King Khalid Military City Hafr al-Batin in the northern kingdom will be implemented exercise which is the largest military maneuver in terms of the number of countries, with the participation of 20 Arab, Islamic and friendly country, in addition to the Peninsula shield forces, and these countries are: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Senegal, Sudan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco , Pakistan, Chad, Tunisia, Djibouti, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia, Egypt, Mauritania, Mauritius, in addition to the Peninsula shield forces. Islands constitute Raad north, the largest military exercise of its kind in terms of the number of participating countries, and military equipment quality of weapons and military equipment diverse and sophisticated, including fighter jets from different models reflect the large quantitative and qualitative spectrum, which show him those forces, as well as the participation of a wide range of artillery and tanks, infantry and air defense systems, naval forces, in a simulation of the highest level of high alert for the armies of the countries 20 participation. 

Exercise Raad North represents a clear message to the Saudi brothers and brothers and friends of the participating countries stand united to face all challenges and to maintain peace and stability in the region, in addition to the emphasis on many of the goals, all in full readiness circle and maintain the peace and security of the region and the world . 

Analysts say that the exercise Raad North confirms that the leaders of the participating countries, are fully in line with the vision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the need to protect the peace and stability in the region.

A lot of words to say this: “We’re flexing our muscles on the way to invading Syria.” 

“What is present now is aircraft that are part of the Saudi forces,” Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri told Al Arabiya News Channel on Sunday, referencing the Saudi presence at Incirlik. “The kingdom is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition (against ISIS) may agree to carry out in Syria,” he added.

Remember, Turkey also shelled the Syrian army on Saturday

Turkish artillery shelled Syrian territory, targeting Syrian Kurdish positions and the positions of the Syrian Arab Army,” SANA news agency reported, citing a letter from Damascus to the UN. Expect those attacks to continue in the name of “self defense.”

Meanwhile, the Russians aren’t letting up. Aleppo will be recaptured and that, as they say, is that.

“Russia is determined to create facts on the ground, and when they have accomplished this, then they will invite the West to fight a common enemy, this is ISIS,” Norbert Roettgen, head of the foreign affairs committee in the German parliament says, underscoring our contention that Russia is determined to negotiate from a position of absolute strength. “Let’s be clear about what this agreement does. It allows Russia’s assault on Aleppo to continue for another week,” John McCain exclaimed. “Mr Putin is not interested in being our partner. He wants to shore up the Assad regime, he wants to establish Russia as a major power in the Middle East, he wants to use Syria as a live fire exercise for Russia’s modernizing military.”

Right. And America is seemingly powerless to stop him.

In the short term, the only question now is this: how long will it be before Turkey or Saudi Arabia kills a Hezbollah fighter or an IRGC general? 

Or worse: what happens when a Russian ends up dead at the hands of the region’s Sunni powers?

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The newsflash below from superstation95 page 886 that ended at Midnight on 14 Feb ’16 Aust. (13 Feb USA) is resumed on 15 Feb ’16 Aust. (14 Feb USA) at page 890 with live coverage updates every few minutes at  https://www.superstation95.com/index.php/world/890

(Go daily to https://www.superstation95.com and go down to “MORE FIGHTING as Saudis and Turks attack Syria” to find the live coverage 5 minutes updates for that day)

NEWSFLASH  Sunday 14 February 2016: Turkish military has launched missile attacks against Kurdish YPG areas in and around Aleppo in Syria, and also they hit SAA (Syrian Arab Army) positions in Latakia. There were no SAA casualties and there are conflicting reports of YPG casualties. There have been massive deployments by Russia today (14 Feb). The US issued an alert to Turkey to stop firing. Also the US military command  issued an alert to US military forces for military readiness including nuclear. No one is happy with what Turkey did today. Tomorrow will be a barrage of news coming out.

https://www.superstation95.com/index.php/world/886  Sunday 14 February 2016 (13 Feb in USA)

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18A. Financial Times: Russia Ended U.S Lawlessness In the Middle East

Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ, 14th February, 2016

Washington has not gotten away with an “Arab spring”, in Syria, as Russia has clearly shown that it will not allow the United States to overthrow any leader who refuses to act on their orders, writes the Financial Times.

Syrian government troops supported by Russian aviation made a major breakthrough in Aleppo, and now it is safe to say that Moscow has all the chances to reverse the course of the conflict, the newspaper notes. If the forces of Assad are taking Aleppo, Moscow in talks on a ceasefire on Friday in Munich, will be able to play their most powerful cards.

Ending one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent years, Russia will be able to put the settlement of the Syrian crisis at the top of its major foreign policy victories. Firstly, in September, when Russia began airforce operations in Syria, it showed that, along with the United States, it is a nation with significant influence in the Middle East.

Also, by actively participating in events on the international scene, Moscow is regaining the strategic initiative, which it lost to the West in the first years after the end of the Cold war, and forced US to recognize that global problems, including the fight against terrorism, cannot be solved without Russia, said the author of the article.

Perhaps, in addition to fight the jihadists of the “Islamic State”, Moscow has its own purpose in the region, which is criticized by Western leaders, writes the paper. However, it should be noted that in preventing the unceremonious removal of Assad from power, Russia has put an end to the longstanding American strategy aimed at toppling unwanted regimes and showed that Washington will no longer be able to get rid of any government leader on a whim, like they did with Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, concludes the Financial Times.

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18B. Russia Has Destroyed the CIA’s Arms Smuggling Operation in Syria

BY STUART HOOPER on 12 Feb 2016 http://21stcenturywire.com/2016/02/12/russia-has-destroyed-the-cias-arms-smuggling-operation-in-syria/

The Russian military has successfully closed the Azaz Corridor, a narrow strip of land connecting Turkey to the rebel forces in Aleppo, which was being used as a major supply route for the terrorist forces currently wrecking havoc throughout Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was reportedly hounded by his American counterpart John Kerry at least six times to keep the Azaz corridor open.

new report now explains why:

Mr. Kerry enters the negotiations with very little leverage: The Russians have cut off many of the pathways the C.I.A. has been using for a not-very-secret effort to arm rebel groups, according to several current and former officials.’ [http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/11/world/middleeast/russian-intervention-in-syrian-war-has-sharply-reduced-us-options.html?_r=3]

Mr. Kerry’s supporters inside the administration say he has been increasingly frustrated by the low level of American military activity, which he views as essential to bolstering his negotiation effort.’

For the last three years, the CIA has been smuggling arms into Syria via Turkey using the Azaz Corridor, and without it they have no leverage over Assad or the Russians.

Interestingly, now that the corridor has been essentially destroyed by Russian airpower, the US is now seeking to establish a peace deal in Syria meaning that the foreign interference could finally be coming to an end.

Assad has vowed to continue his fight with the Russians to finally liberate Syria and has openly decried the foreign support for terrorism.

Can the conflict in Syria now finally come to an end?

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19. Journalist Eva Bartlett: The Media Is Lying To You! Do we need a bigger war?

Richie Allen Show, 12 February 2016 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUyJV6YaSWY

The corporate media has been part of the propaganda machine that has sold NATO-Israeli-Saudi wars. The people who are suffering are the most steadfast people opposing foreign domination by terror methods – in Syria, in Yemen, in Palestine, in Libya, and many other places that we don’t read about in Africa and Asia. We were told the government of Syria was indiscriminately murdering his own people, but Eva Bartlett refers to articles by Tim Anderson and Sharmine Narwani that document the falsity of such accusations, and when Eva speaks to people in Homs, in Latakia, in Damascus, they confirm that all the alleged things in these area were false. So called “unarmed protestors” turned out to be violent jihadis, and massacres of the people and abductions and killing of children by these terrorists, reported by the West as having been done by the government, were proved to be lies. The joy in liberated towns of Allepo are not shown and fleeing jihadists are portrayed as refugees. Eva gives example after example of contradictions peddled by the corporate media. Eva has numerous short clips, interviews or simple conversations with Syrians in Syria, in Lebanon which are posted as a resource at https://ingaza.wordpress.com/syria/my-short-videoaudio-fromon-syria-and-syrians-many-links/ See in particular Mother Agnes Mariam on terrorists’ shelling of school, killing and injuring many children”, April 2014 in Damascus – the sound is bad at first but gets clearer. Mother Agnes Mariam directs a plea to world leaders and to Syrians on all sides of the war to rid Syria of terroism by not finance and arming foreign terror groups and by not assisting them to get into Syria.

Eva refers to this article at http://www.syriasolidaritymovement.org/

Do we need a bigger war? 12 February 2016. Syria Solidarity Movement (Be aware there is a bogus Syria Solidarity Movement run by NATO propagandists on the web – but it is fairly clear once you start reading which is which.)

http://www.syriasolidaritymovement.org/2016/02/12/do-we-need-a-bigger-war/

The Syrian Army and its allies have clearly turned the tide in the Syrian war.  The “facts on the ground” have changed dramatically for all the major players, and constitute a major reversal for all the forces that have tried to institute “regime change” in Syria, in violation of its sovereignty.  The Geneva “Peace Conference” opposition delegation, composed of marginal figures representing a tiny fraction of the armed anti-government factions but ostensibly speaking for all of them, is now largely irrelevant.  As the terrorists and foreign mercenaries and their families flee Aleppo, thousands or tens of thousands of Syrian civilians are returning to their homes in secure government held areas.

Given the reversal of fortunes for Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, NATO and their allies and mercenaries, what’s next?  The sensible thing would be for all the actors to declare victory by finishing off the ostensible terrorist enemy and accepting a face saving solution that includes a Syrian government commitment to reform, with expertise provided by a friendly international team of experts that puts Russia, the US, Europe, Iran and perhaps even Saudi Arabia on the same side.

But this is not the advice we are hearing from the advisers that got us into this mess in the first place, and who are disappointed that Syria might not go way of Iraq, Libya and Somalia after all.  They are suggesting that a more and bigger war is the way to complete the job of turning Syria into a failed state.  Such a war would involve an invasion of Turkish forces amassed and poised on the border, direct intervention by Saudi forces, US and perhaps other NATO ground forces, and potentially Israeli forces as well.

Such a plan risks putting these forces directly in confrontation with Syrian and Russian units and objectives. It is a recipe for great power confrontation on a scale rarely seen since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.  Rarely, but not totally.  When Turkey shot down a Russian aircraft on November 24, 2015, only very cool Russian heads prevented the unthinkable by deciding that the Russian response might best be served cold.

That dish is now on the table, and it is for the Turks and bigger warmongers to decide if they want to risk Armageddon by unleashing even greater forces of destruction.  There are players that would love to do so; they profit from death, misery and cataclysm, and would never miss such an opportunity.  Chief among them are the arms merchants that dominate in the US and Israel, the neoconservative movement, also heavily subsidized by Israel and its Zionist lobbies in other countries, and by Israel’s investment in weakening all potential adversaries.  Saudi Arabia has decided that it has much the same adversaries and has therefore thrown its lot in with Israel.  The Erdogan administration in Turkey finds that its interests, including territorial aggrandizement, are congruent, and US objectives are defined by the neoconservative movement and the Israel Lobby, which have kidnapped US strategic policy in this regard, to the dismay of the Foreign Service, intelligence and military professional core of the American government.

The Syria Solidarity Movement suggests that further escalation is not a solution, but that the application of international law can bring the hostilities to a close.  Astonishingly, this a war in which there are few declared enemies.  Of the many parties and their sponsored combatants, only the armed groups and the Syrian government have declared themselves to be enemies, unless you count the insincere protestations that “terrorist” groups are also enemies of the same nations that are aiding and abetting them.

Syria is still recognized universally and diplomatically as a sovereign state, and under international law no power may interfere in its security considerations except by invitation from the recognized government of that state.  To seek “regime change” (overthrow) is strictly illegal under international law, and prohibited by the United Nations.  Governments that are pursuing such an objective should be sanctioned by the UN, although there is no realistic possibility of such action.

The Syria Solidarity Movement believes that it is time to complete the expulsion of the terrorist and mercenary forces that have been attacking Syria for the last five years.  This can be accomplished by denying all support of arms and funding from the US, Europe, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and other countries.  In addition, these countries can choose to either cooperate with the Syrian government and its allies to rid Syria of this scourge, or at least not interfere while Syrian, Russian and other allied forces complete the job.  In this case, Syria can resume its role of providing government services and representation for its people, and its people can resume shaping their own government without outside interference.

It  time to end this ill-advised adventurism, and to put to flight the rascals and criminals, not only in Syria but also inside the countries whose strategic policies have been hijacked by gangs who are in many respects worse than those who bring beheadings and crucifixions to our computer screens.

 

Are Americans Too Insouciant To Survive? By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts 12 Feb 2016

When one looks at the deplorable state of the world, one cannot help but wonder at the insouciance of the American people.  Where are they?  Do they exist or are they a myth?  Have they been put to sleep by an evil demon? Are they so lost in The Matrix that they cannot get out?  

The military/security complex requires an enemy.  When the Cold War ended, the “Muslim Threat” was created. This “threat” has now been superceded by the “Russian Threat,” which is much more useful in keeping Europe in line and in scaring people with prospective invasions and nuclear attacks that are far beyond the power and reach of jihadists.

Superpower America required a more dangerous enemy than a few lightly armed jihadists, so the “Russian threat” was created.  To drive home the threat, Russia and her president are constantly demonized.  The conclusion is unavoidable that the insouciant American people are being prepared for war.

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20. Mannagh Airbase Liberated by Kurds. Syria’s war won or lost in Aleppo Governate?

by Ziad Fadel, 10 February 2016

http://syrianperspective.com/2016/02/syrian-army-at-the-doors-of-kafr-naayaa-mannagh-airbase-liberated-by-kurds.html#Ghw65XGvXAlX79PZ.99

Mannagh Airbase:  The PYG, the Syrian-Kurdish group allied with the (Turkish-Kurdish) PKK, has moved into this airbase lost to the terrorists about 3 years ago.  It is now under the full control of the Syrian government.  Within a short time, the base will be rehabilitated and you will see bombers taking off and landing here.

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9 February 2016 Even Al-Jazeera is questioning: Will Syria’s war be won or lost in Aleppo?

Fascinating Inside Story discussion between spokesmen from opposing sides of the Syria conflict.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_KvniSBRmA Powerful discussion!!!

An interesting look into possible near-future outcomes by Iranian and Saudi media personalities.

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21. World View: U.S., Britain, France Prepare Libya Military Offensive for 2016

by JOHN J. XENAKIS, 6 Jan 2016 http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/01/06/world-view-u-s-britain-france-prepare-libya-military-offensive-for-2016/

US, Britain, France preparing new Libya military offensive early in 2016

Libya is geopolitically very important for several reasons:

  • ISIS has been gaining influence in Libya, and may be coordinating activities with other branches of ISIS in Egypt’s Sinai, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.
  • Libya also serves as a jumping-off point for ISIS attacks on Europe, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
  • Libya has become a key route for human traffickers sending migrants from Syria, Eritrea and other countries into Europe.
  • Libya has extensive oil and gas reserves.

For these reasons, the West has been considering a new military intervention into Libya for several months. The plans are apparently now turning into implementation.

New reports indicate that UK Special Air Service (SAS) troops have already arrived in Libya, laying the groundwork for a large allied troop intervention. The force will include 1,000 British infantrymen, and will involve around 6,000 American and European soldiers and marines – led by Italian forces and supported mainly by Britain and France. Spain and Egypt may also participate.

According to Debka’s subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), US, British and French marines will land on shore for an operation billed as the largest Western allied war landing since the 1952 Korean War. One group will move west to take over Tripoli, to Libya’s central government there. The second group will move east to take control of Benghazi.

The military intervention will have several objectives:

  • Take control of Libya’s oil and gas fields.
  • Deprive ISIS of its ability to attack Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Europe from Libya.
  • Bring the human traffickers of migrants to Europe under control.

According to Debka, in this military campaign, the US will not “lead from behind,” but will be in front, indicating another reversal of President Obama’s Mideast strategy.

From the point of view of Generational Dynamics, this is all on the same trend line that we have been describing for years, where the Mideast is headed for a major regional war pitting Israelis versus Arabs, Sunnis versus Shias, and ethnic groups versus each other. In just the last few days, this trend line has advanced significantly, with the split between Saudi Arabia and Iran. There are already proxy wars in progress in Yemen, Iraq and Syria, with participants from Iran, Russia, the US, and several Gulf nations. A new proxy war in Libya will add significantly to the chaos. Daily Mirror (London) and Guardian (London)and Debka

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22. The Rise of Psychological Trauma in Occupied Palestine

Israel’s settler-colonial agenda to remove the Palestinians from all of Palestine takes the form of psychological warfare among more blatant atrocities. Israel is incredibly adept at both types of warfare and works incessantly to make sure that they traumatize as many Palestinians as possible, sow despair and hopelessness and try to break the human spirit of the Palestinians. The UN definition of genocide fits Jewish Israeli settler-colonialism perfectly, as destroying a people isn’t just about taking lives, it’s about using a variety of means to break apart what makes the group cohesive and attempting to annihilate the very spirit that is at the heart of the group.

“Thus, it appears that certain Israeli policies directly foster conditions in the oPt that make Palestinians particularly susceptible to mental health problems.” http://mondoweiss.net/2015/11/psychological-occupied-palestine/?utm_source=Mondoweiss+List&utm_campaign=e27215abe6-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b86bace129-e27215abe6-398413745

The Rise of Psychological Trauma in Occupied Palestine, by Megan Hanna, 30 Nov 2015

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23. Statement of Palestinian groups and individuals about the global war on Syria.

Statement of Palestinian groups and individuals in the occupied homeland, refugee camps and the diaspora about the global war on Syria. 22 July 2015.

http://www.syriasolidaritymovement.org/2015/07/22/statement-of-palestinian-groups-and-individuals-in-the-occupied-homeland-refugee-camps-and-the-diaspora-about-the-global-war-on-syria/

We are Palestinians and Palestinian organizations that declare our solidarity with the Syrian people in their historic struggle for survival, now in its fifth year.  We are in a unique position to understand and appreciate the challenges facing our Syrian brothers and sisters, because we face the same challenges.

We understand what it means to have our lands and our property taken by foreign usurpers.  We understand what it means for millions of our people to be driven out of their homes and to be unable to return.  We understand what it means for our interests and our national rights to become the plaything of the most powerful nations on earth.  We understand what it means to suffer and die in defense of our sovereignty and human rights.

We do not pretend to tell Syrians what is right for Syria, just as Syria has respected the Palestinian right to liberate Palestine since the time of the Nakba.  However, we declare that the enemies of Syria are the enemies of Palestine, and those who bear arms against the Syrian people and the Syrian army – regardless of their names and affiliations – are mere pawns that serve Israel and its project to divide and control the Arab region.  The people who abduct, murder and slaughter in Syria are the enemies of the Arab nation, just like Israel, with which they share goals and criminal nature.

We therefore reject violence and murder against the people and state of Syria, which has nothing to do with any just demands; rather it merely seeks to destroy the Syrian state.  Any attack on Syria is an attack on the Arab nation, and a true national opposition is one that commits to its country’s principles and flies its flag, and that doesn’t receive orders from abroad.

The Palestinian and Syrian struggles are not religious struggles.  We respect a state that guarantees freedom of religion without preference for any faith over any other. Dividing Arab communities into conflicting sects only serves the Israeli regime and allows it to implement its plots for the region.

While Palestinian refugees have suffered and are suffering in many places, Syria has welcomed them and granted them all the rights of Syrians except the right to vote.  We are grateful for this policy of brotherhood/sisterhood and can do no less than to reciprocate with our solidarity for Syria in its time of greatest need.  It is the least we can do.

The cynical and genocidal policies of NATO and its proxies in the Middle East have as their main policy to destroy the last remaining independent nations and forces that are not compromised by complicity with Zionist and imperialist forces. These nations and forces wish no harm to others, yet their mere existence is intolerable to Zionism and imperialism.  It is our duty to stand with Syria and all nations and movements that resist the intruders and seek an independent course and policy for the benefit and interest of our own people and not to become puppets of foreign powers.

We therefore stand with Syria in its efforts to repel the foreign invaders and the countries that are creating, training, financing, arming and supporting the terrorist groups in Syria.  We call for the expulsion of these groups back to their own countries, and for their supporters to devote their resources to improving the lives of their own citizens in their own countries rather than destroying the lives of our citizens in our countries.  Like the alien and racist Zionist regime, these criminal countries and their leadership must be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity for waging illegal wars against sovereign states and peoples, including Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

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