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Iraq mounts counter-terrorism operations amid warnings of US-Daesh plot to split region

Press TV – May 5, 2020

Iraqi army troops and allied fighters from Popular Mobilization Forces — known as Hashd al-Sha’abi — have conducted fresh operations against Daesh militants amid warnings of collaboration between the United States and remnants of the Takfiri terror outfit in the country.

On Monday, Iraq’s Security Media Cell announced the launch of a new military campaign, dubbed ‘Desert Lions,’ against Daesh sleeper cells in the country’s desert areas.

The operation covers “Wadi Houran, Husayniyyat, Al-Kara, H2, and Wadi al-Hallcom, all the way to international borders” in Iraq’s western Anbar Province with an aim to “enhance security and stability in these areas, to pursue terrorist elements and to arrest those wanted,” it said in a statement.

The new campaign followed a string of deadly attacks by Daesh terrorists targeting Iraqi forces, among them Saturday’s assault in Salahuddin Province that killed at least 10 Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters.

On Monday, the Iraqi Army’s intelligence detained a Daesh ringleader, called Abu Hajar, in Nineveh Province.

It came one day after the arrest of another Daesh element, Abu Abdulmalik, in Nineveh’s provincial capital of Mosul, which once served as the terror group’s main bastion in the Arab country.

Also on Monday, Rudaw media network reported that an explosive-laden vehicle had gone off in Madham area in western Anbar, killing the occupants — all terrorists.

Among those slain were Daesh military commander Abu Ghasurah, the report said.

Concerns rise about Daesh-US collaboration

Meanwhile, Mahmoud al-Rubaye, spokesman of Iraq’s Asaib Ahl al-Haq group, which is part of the Hashd al-Sha’abi, said that the US has long been supporting terrorists in Iraq and Syria and that Daesh is part of Washington’s scheme to disintegrate the region.

The US, he added, plans to settle Palestinians in western Anbar under President Donald Trump’s self-proclaimed “deal of the century.”

Rubaye also emphasized that the Americans should honor the Iraqi parliament’s resolution on the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country. The resolution was passed in January following the US assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and senior Hashd commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in addition to several other comrades.

The US is evacuating its bases in Iraq and amassing its troops at Ain al-Assad and Harir bases, situated in Anbar and Kurdistan’s regional capital of Erbil, respectively, in the face of the outrage of the Iraqi people and popular forces, he pointed out.

Asaib spokesman further warned of armed resistance if the US refuses to leave Iraq and settles in the country’s remote areas.

Additionally, Iraq’s Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, which is also part of Hashd al-Sha’abi, said the US has been planning to transfer senior Daesh commanders from eastern Syria to neighboring Iraq.

“Washington is insisting on the implementation of a plot to return the terrorists to Iraq by transferring a large number of ISIS (Daesh) commanders and militants from the eastern Euphrates and other parts of Syria,” it said in an online statement.

The group also described the Americans as “occupiers,” noting, “We stress that the Islamic Resistance of Iraq is monitoring all your destructive plots to prevent the dangers which threaten the Iraqi provinces.”

Daesh began a terror campaign in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks.

Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters played a major role in reinforcing the Iraqi army, which had suffered heavy setbacks against the Takfiri elements.

Iraq declared victory over Daesh in December 2017 after a three-year counter-terrorism military campaign, which also had the support of neighboring Iran.

May 5, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

34 US-Backed Militants Surrender, Hand Weapons to Syrian Army – Reports

Sputnik – April 18, 2020

28 militants and six drivers from the Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra (‘Revolutionary Commando Army’) rebel group arrived in Palmyra, handed over all their weapons and equipment and surrendered to take advantage of the Syrian government’s recent amnesty decrees, SANA has reported, citing a source said to be involved in the process.

Earlier, the Russian Defence Ministry’s Centre for Syrian Reconciliation confirmed that over two dozen militants trained at a US military base in Syria had surrendered to the Syrian Army after breaking out of the US-controlled At-Tanf area and engaging in a shootout with other militia members.

The group’s evacuation from the At-Tanf area, a blob of US-held territory in southern Syria near the Jordanian and Iraqi border, was facilitated following over four months of planning, according to authorities.

SANA’s source said that the haul of surrendered equipment included eight vehicles, some of them fitted with heavy machine guns, along with a small number of automatic weapons, sniper rifles, 2 RPG launchers and a grenade launcher, along with communications equipment and binoculars.

Ghannam Samir al-Khedair, the group’s leader, said he and his comrades had been displaced from Sweida by Daesh (ISIS) and crossed the border into Jordan, where they were trained, after which they were sent to guard the Rukban refugee camp. Al-Khedair also revealed that his men were demoralised after finding out that much of the relief supplies meant for the camp, which once held as many as 45,000 people, was being sold to Daesh, and discovering that other Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra militants also supported the terrorists.

Khaled Samir al-Khedair, another former militant from the At-Tanf base, said that US occupation forces were training militia to attack Syrian Army positions, as well as civilian infrastructure and oil and gas fields. Salah Rashid al-Zaher, another militant, confirmed that this training for sabotage ops was taking place. According to al-Zaher, in addition to much of the Rukhban camp aid being sold to Daesh, some of it was also traded on the black market to camp residents at exorbitant prices.

The SANA report comes two days after confirmation by the Russian military that a group of over two dozen militants trained at At-Tanf had surrendered to the Syrian Army. The militants began their journey to Palmyra on the night of 13 April, but had to fight off a detachment of Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra forces to escape, arriving in the ancient city on 14 April.

Rukban Disaster

Officials in both Damascus and Moscow and the Syrian and Russian militaries have repeatedly expressed concerns about the disastrous humanitarian situation at the Rukban refugee camp over the course of many years, and have reported on the Pentagon’s use of the At-Tanf military base to retrain former extremists to renew their struggle against the Syrian government.

Damascus has stressed repeatedly that the only solution which could end the al-Rukban refugees’ suffering would be for the US to withdraw from At-Tanf and leave Syria. At the moment, it’s estimated that there are still as many as 13,500 people at the camp, among them 6,000 militants, and members of their families. At least 150 US troops are estimated to remain at At-Tanf.

The US moved in to take control of the At-Tanf area in early 2016, just as the Syrian Army began its counteroffensive against Daesh militants in the sparsely populated desert areas of central Syria. US forces formally established the Jaysh Maghawir al-Thawra militia after dissolving its predecessor, the so-called ‘New Syrian Army’ militant group, in late 2016. Syria and its allies have repeatedly demanded that the US withdraw from the Arab Republic’s sovereign territory. The area has seen repeated deadly clashes between Syrian forces and entrenched US forces and their militia allies.

April 18, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

Syria says will stand by allies on resistance axis to expel US from Western Asia

Press TV – March 12, 2020

A senior adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hails “constant coordination” between Damascus and its allies in the fight against terrorism, saying the Arab nation will stand by the resistance front to help drive the US out of not only Syria but the entire Middle East region.

Assad’s political and media adviser, Bouthaina Shaaban, made the remarks in an interview with Lebanon-based Arabic-language al-Mayadeen TV channel on Wednesday.

She said that Washington has been supporting the Takfiri al-Qaeda and Daesh terrorist groups, and that its sponsorship for the al-Qaeda-inspired al-Nusra Front terrorist outfit is of no surprise.

The Syrian people living east of the Euphrates River have been fighting against American occupation forces and enjoy the Damascus government’s backing for their resistance, she added.

Shaaban also stressed that the battle on eastern bank of the Euphrates is complicated and takes time, noting, however, that the Syrians will eventually expel US troops from their homeland.

The Syrian army has the backing of Iran, Russia and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement in its battle against a host of militant groups, which have been wreaking havoc on the country since 2011.

Thanks to that support, the Damascus government has managed to win back control of almost all regions from the foreign-sponsored militants.

Syria has been engaged in a liberation operation in Idlib Province, the last major bastion of terrorists in the country.

Shaaban further emphasized that her country supports its allies on the regional resistance axis to drive American military personnel out of the entire West Asia region.

Syria in constant coordination with Iran, Hezbollah

There is complete and constant coordination between Damascus on one side and Tehran and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement on the other side in political and military spheres, the Syrian official pointed out.

She hailed Tehran-Damascus relations as historical and strategic, reiterating that both Iran and Russia prioritize Syria’s sovereignty and independence.

Taking advantage of the mayhem in Syria, the US has deployed troops to Syria under the guise of fighting Daesh. It has been running military bases in the eastern part of the country, which many reports have revealed serve as training camps for terrorists.

The US has also been supporting anti-Damascus Kurdish militants in the country’s northeastern regions, calling them allies in the so-called fight against Daesh, which lost its territorial rule in the Arab country in late 2017.

In recent months, Washington has also deployed more troops and military equipment near Syrian oil fields to “secure” them, in what Damascus, Tehran and Moscow have denounced as an attempt to steal Syria’s crude resources.

In turn, Turkey supports militants fighting to topple the Damascus government. Those elements continue to target Syrian troops and allied Russian personnel.

Last week, Russia and Turkey agreed on a ceasefire to stop clashes in Syria’s northwestern Idlib Province that brought the two countries close to direct confrontation amid a Moscow-backed Syrian counter-terrorism operation.

Idlib truce paves ground for more Syrian gains

Elsewhere in her interview, Shaaban said the Idlib truce has no confidential terms and paves the way for the liberation of the districts of Arihah and Jisr al-Shughur.

In recent weeks, she added, the Syrian army wrested control over 2,000 kilometers of the country and inflicted casualties on militants and Turkish forces.

Shabban also slammed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for serving Israel’s interests in the region.

Erdogan, she added, uses the Palestine issue as a mere bargaining chip and dreams of occupying Syria.

A meeting between Assad and Erdogan is not possible as long as Turkey occupies parts of the Syrian territory, she said.

Syria keen to forge ties will all Arab states

Additionally, Assad’s aide stressed that Syria welcomes relations with all Arab countries, referring to recent visits by Egyptian and Libyan delegations.

She also hailed Algeria’s position on Syria, adding, however, that there are no exchanges between the two states.

March 12, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Danish Daesh fighter convicted in Spain worked for Denmark intelligence

MEMO | January 13, 2020

A Danish man who joined Daesh in Syria and who is consequently serving eight years imprisonment in Spain has revealed that he was working for Denmark’s intelligence services.

The 30-year-old Danish national, Ahmed Samsam, travelled to Syria “several” times in order to join the terror group under the authorisation and direction of Denmark’s Police Intelligence Service and Defence Intelligence Service, as was reported in the Danish newspaper Berlingske yesterday.

According to several sources who informed the paper, it was confirmed that Samsam was indeed recruited by the Danish intelligence services in December 2012 before being sent to Syria in February 2013.

These assignments, in which he received up to 20,000 Kroner ($2,975) per month as well as military training, continued all the way up until late 2015, after which he was arrested by Spanish authorities on the Costa del Sol in 2017.

“I wanted to help prevent a terrorist attack in Denmark. I have a family that uses public transport, which is at high risk of being hit by terror,” he told the paper.

Samsam has said that Danish authorities were well aware of his travels and assignments to Syria, and that they had guaranteed that he would not be punished upon his return.

The subsequent arrest of Samsam has therefore reportedly angered some in Denmark due to the country not having immediately informed Spain of his case.

Among those calling for Denmark to take action to return him is the member of parliament Karina Lorentzen Dehnhardt – part of the Socialist People’s Party – who urged for Samsam to be helped.

The case comes amid increasing debate over the transfer of imprisoned Daesh fighters back to their home countries which they left, with many reportedly being regretful of joining the group and wanting to return following the military defeat of the group over the past two years.

Both Turkey and US President Donald Trump have called on European nations to take back their fighters due to their responsibility towards their citizens, but they have long been concerned over the security risks of such a move, suspecting that there are former fighters who feign regret in order to carry out attacks within their home countries.

January 13, 2020 Posted by | Deception | , | Leave a comment

US forces transferring Daesh terrorists from Syria to Iraq: Report

Press TV – October 20, 2019

US military forces are transporting to safe sanctuaries hundreds of members of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group from the desert region of al-Jazirah in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah to neighboring Iraq, a report says.

Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing media and local sources, reported that American forces had recently transported the terrorists to an unknown location. The Daesh members were being kept at al-Hol refugee camp, which lies close to the Syria-Iraq border and is run by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The report said that less than a day before, 230 foreign terrorists from Daesh were transferred from al-Malikiyah prison to a detention center in al-Shaddadi town in southern Hasakah.

Since October 9, SANA said, US forces have transported hundreds of Daesh extremists and their relatives from Syrian territories to Iraq in six batches. The date is when Turkey and its allied militants launched a ground offensive against Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria.

American forces have also turned their illegal base in Shaddadi into a place of accommodation for Daesh terrorists and their families, who are being brought from al-Hol camp and prisons across Syria to the base in order to be transported on board military helicopters to Iraq.

US forces have until recently been airlifting Daesh terrorists from one place in Syria to another, under the cover of darkness, in order to save them in the face of advancement and territorial gains by Syrian government forces, and prevent revelation of their alliance with the Takfiri extremists.

Syrians celebrate army deployment in border towns amid Turkish incursion

In Syria’s eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, dozens of people gathered to express support for the deployment of government forces in the Kurdish-populated border towns in the wake of Turkey’s offensive.

On Sunday, the residents of the provincial capital city of Dayr al-Zawr gathered at al-Intisar roundabout to denounce the Turkish aggression, and demand the full withdrawal of US troops from Syrian territories, SANA reported.

The participants waved the national Syrian flag and lifted pictures of President Bashar al-Assad. They described the Turkish aggression on Syrian soil a criminal act, vowing that the sons of Syria will all confront the offensive, dubbed Peace Spring Operation.

They also called for the complete withdrawal of illegal foreign forces, whether Turkish or American, from Syrian soil.

“All Syrians reject the Turkish operation, because it constitutes an act of aggression against a sovereign state. This is contrary to international law and regulations. We are here today to tell (Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan, his American masters and their proxies that Syria is strong with its army, its people, its leader. History has shown that this land is insurmountable to aggressors,” said Mudhi al-Muhaimid, a member of the executive office of Dayr al-Zawr provincial council.

Director of Education in Dayr al-Zawr Khalil Haj Ubaid said, “Syria’s civilization, history and originality will remain impervious to the greediness of enemies. The Syrian government and the Syrian Arab Army are the only forces that can protect Syrian people. The entire world is now witnessing how President Assad has triumphed over all forces of injustice and tyranny.”

Turkish military forces and Ankara-backed militants launched the long-threatened cross-border invasion of northeast Syria in a declared attempt to push Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) away from border areas.

Ankara views the US-backed YPG as a terrorist organization tied to the homegrown Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been seeking an autonomous Kurdish region in Turkey since 1984. The YPG constitutes the backbone of the SDF.

The Kurdish-led administration in northeastern Syria says the Turkish offensive has killed 218 civilians, including 18 children, since its outset. The fighting has also wounded more than 650 people.

Turkish authorities say 20 people have been killed in Turkey by bombardment from Syria, including eight people who were killed in a mortar attack on the town of Nusaybin by YPG militants on October 11.

SANA tours US base in al-Saidiyah area southwest of Manbij

In another development, SANA journalists entered the abandoned US base in the al-Saidiyah area southwest of Manbij, only a few days after American forces evacuated the site.

The heavily fortified base contains a big open field, service stations for the maintenance of vehicles, training fields, communication towers and a number of military posts. US forces burned documents, communication devices, laptops, computers, monitors and medical supplies just before their withdrawal from the base.

October 20, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

US-Israeli attacks on PMU meant to revive Daesh in Iraq: Kata’ib Hezbollah

Press TV – August 24, 2019

An Iraqi resistance group says the recent airstrikes on the positions of pro-government Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) are an attempt by the US and Israel to revive the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the Arab country.

In an interview with Lebanon’s Arabic-language al-Ahed news website published on Friday, Kata’ib Hezbollah spokesman Mohammed Muhyee said the air raids on Hashd al-Sha’abi positions are actually meant to weaken Iraqi resistance factions, empty their weapons stores and end their role in maintaining security in Iraq.

He added that the next stage, which has been planned by the US, is to return thousands of foreign-backed Daesh terrorists to the Iraqi-Syrian border.

The recent attacks “were not accidental,” but rather planned in advance after continued monitoring operations by Israeli and American drones, Muhyee pointed out.

He also accused Washington of trying to get Israel to conduct the strikes in a bid to prevent reactions from Iraqi resistance groups.

Muhyee further warned of a tough response to any future attack on Iraqi forces.

Earlier this week, a PMU ammunition depot was exploded in Iraq, the fourth in recent months. The attacks began on July 19 when a drone dropped explosives onto a PMU base near the town of Amerli, in Salahuddin Province, killing at least one resistance fighter and injuring four others.

Unnamed American officials confirmed that Israel had been behind the attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted on Thursday at possible Israeli strikes in Iraq.

“We are operating – not just if needed, we are operating in many areas against a state (Iran) that wants to annihilate us. Of course I gave the security forces a free hand and instructed them to do anything necessary to thwart Iran’s plans,” he said when asked whether Tel Aviv was considering operations in Iraq.

Daesh unleashed a campaign of death and destruction in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks. Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters then launched operations to eliminate the terror outfit and retake lost territory.

The PMU had a prominent role in flushing Daesh out of the areas it had occupied in Iraq.

In December 2017, Iraq declared the end of the anti-Daesh campaign. The group’s remnants, though, keep staging sporadic attacks across Iraq.

August 24, 2019 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , , , | 5 Comments

Daesh Is Curiously Pursuing The Same Strategic Goal As India In Afghanistan

By Andrew Korybko | EurasiaFuture | 2019-08-18

Daesh claimed credit for a suicide bombing at a Pakistani mosque on Saturday that ended up killing the Taliban leader’s younger brother, briefly raising fears that the organization would pull out of its ongoing peace talks with the US in response. Those concerns were quickly dismissed after one of the group’s unnamed representatives told Reuters that “If someone thinks martyring our leaders would stop us from our goal they’re living in a fool’s paradise”, which was met with a sigh of relief by practically everyone in the world, that is, except India. The South Asian state doesn’t support the US’ decision to engage in peace talks with the Taliban, as the author elaborated upon earlier this year in his piece about “Reading Between The Lines: India Has Sour Grapes Over America’s Afghan Peace Talks“, which explained that New Delhi wants Washington to remain in Afghanistan indefinitely since its partner’s military presence guarantees that the landlocked country could be used to expand its “strategic depth” by functioning as a Hybrid War staging ground against the global pivot state of Pakistan.

It’s therefore curious that Daesh’s latest suicide attack in Pakistan could have fulfilled India’s political fantasy of sabotaging the US-Taliban peace talks and thus keeping the Pentagon indefinitely in Afghanistan. One would be inclined to believe that Daesh would prefer for the US to leave the country as soon as possible, yet the world’s most notorious terrorist group defied expectations through its brazen action that could have resulted in the opposite. While Daesh’s rivalry with the Taliban is well known, it’s difficult to believe that it would do what it did at this specific time given the ultra-sensitive context involved relating to the US’ possible withdrawal from Afghanistan if the peace talks succeed, so it certainly makes one wonder whether Indian intelligence might have had a hand in guiding events, at the very least. It wouldn’t exactly be unprecedented either since detained Hybrid War operative Kulbhushan Jadav admitted to organizing terrorist attacks in the Pakistani region of Balochistan, which is where Daesh’s latest one occurred.

There’s no way to know for sure whether this was the case or not, but it’s nevertheless a plausible theory when considering the aforementioned strategic variables at play. Indian intelligence has connections with terrorist groups and is using them as proxies for waging a Hybrid War on Pakistan that’s hitherto mostly been with the intent of sabotaging CPEC, so it’s not inconceivable that some of those same assets could be used to target the Taliban’s younger brother with the intent of provoking the group to pull out of its peace talks with the US. Should that have been the case, then this operation definitely failed, but it would reveal just how desperate India is to keep the American military in Afghanistan that it would resort to orchestrating a carefully calibrated terrorist attack that could have ended up being a global game-changer. It would also speak to just how distrustful India is of its new American military-strategic ally and represent an escalation of the incipient Hybrid War being waged by both of them against the other, albeit with India taking the step to make it kinetic whereas the US had kept it purely within the economic and diplomatic realms for now.

August 18, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

US mission in Baghdad serves as Mossad, Daesh headquarters: Iraqi MP

This file photo shows the US embassy building in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.
Press TV | July 15, 2019

A senior Iraqi parliamentarian warns that the US embassy in Baghdad is involved in “suspicious activities,” saying agents of the Israeli spy agency Mossad and the Daesh terrorist group have been spotted regularly visiting the diplomatic mission.

“The US embassy in Baghdad has turned into a center for Israel’s Mossad and ISIS (Daesh) terrorists,” Hassan Salem was quoted as saying by the Iraqi Arabic-language al-Sumariya news website.

Salem said the US embassy is interfering in Iraq’s internal affairs by spying, spreading rumors and hatching plots.

“The US embassy’s violation of laws and forgetting its responsibilities based on the international laws mean that the center could not be called an embassy and therefore, its closure is legally necessary,” the Iraqi lawmaker said.

US giving Daesh head protection

Salem had earlier suggested that US forces in Ain al-Assad military base were protecting Daesh ringleader Ibrahim al-Samarrai, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in the western desert of Iraq’s Anbar province.

“Al-Baghdadi is using the Anbar desert as a safe haven, while the US forces provide him with all means of support from their station at the Ain al-Assad military base in Anbar province,” Salem said in February.

The Iraqi MP argued then that America’s support for al-Baghdadi “stems from Washington’s fear of a draft bill on expelling foreign troops from Iraq, which the parliament intends to vote on during the new legislative term.”

Also in February, former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for the first time divulged explosive secrets about how the United States supported Daesh and intentionally allowed the Takfiri terror outfit to gain power in Iraq so that Washington could creep back into the Arab country.

He said the administration of former US President Barack Obama had played a key role in the creation of Daesh by allowing the terrorist group to overrun Iraqi territories.

In March, an Iraqi security expert also revealed that the American embassy in Iraq was carrying out suspicious measures, describing the mission as a US-Israeli operations room that sought to destabilize the region.

Abbas al-Ardawi was quoted by the Arabic-language al-Ma’alomeh news website as saying that US administration was exerting pressures on Baghdad and killing time to prolong its deployment in Iraq.

He said the relocation of terrorists from the town of Baqouz in Eastern Syria to the US bases in Iraq was aimed to stir security tensions in the country and find a pretext for continued deployment of American forces.

Al-Ardawi said Iraqi lawmakers certainly want all US forces to be expelled from the country as soon as possible.

Another senior Iraqi expert had in January warned of Washington’s attempts to increase its influence in Iraq, saying Israeli spies and Daesh terrorists were present at across US bases in Iraq.

Hafez Al-e Basharah told al-Ma’aloumeh news website that the US was attempting to boost its presence in Iraq and the American forces had been stationed in the southern parts of Baghdad.

He went on to say that the US forces did not allow any Iraqis to enter their bases in the country in an attempt to conceal the realities from the public opinion.

Israeli intelligence agents were also operating from the bases, where Takfiri terrorists also received shelter and training, he added.

July 15, 2019 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Syria’s Rukban Now Little More Than a US-Controlled Concentration Camp – and the Pentagon Won’t Let Refugees Leave

By Whitney Webb | MintPress News | March 28, 2019

DAMASCUS, SYRIA — The United States military has rejected offers to resolve the growing humanitarian crisis in the Rukban refugee camp in Syria, which sits inside a 55 km zone occupied by the U.S. along the Syria-Jordan border. The U.S. has also refused to let any of the estimated 40,000 refugees — the majority of which are women and children — leave the camp voluntarily, even though children are dying in droves from lack of food, adequate shelter and medical care. The U.S. has also not provided humanitarian aid to the camp even though a U.S. military base is located just 20 km (12.4 miles) away.

The growing desperation inside the Rukban camp has received sparse media coverage, likely because of the U.S.’ control over the area in which the camp is located. The U.S. has been accused of refusing to let civilians leave the area — even though nearly all have expressed a desire to either return to Syrian government-held territory or seek refuge in neighboring countries such as Turkey — because the camp’s presence helps to justify the U.S.’ illegal occupation of the area.

Though the U.S. has long justified its presence in al-Tanf as necessary to defeat Daesh (ISIS), the U.S. government has also acknowledged that al-Tanf’s true strategic importance lies in U.S. efforts to “contain” Iran by blocking a connection from Iran to Syria through Iraq. Al-Tanf lies near the area where the borders of Syria, Iraq and Jordan meet. Thus, in the U.S.’ game of brinkmanship with Iran, Rukban’s estimated 40,000 inhabitants have become pawns whose basic needs are ignored by their occupiers.

U.S. shows no interest in meeting

On Tuesday, delegations from Russia, Syria, the UN, and the Rukban refugee camp met to discuss the fate of the camp’s inhabitants after a UN survey found that 95 percent of the camp’s inhabitants wanted to leave the camp, while 83 percent wanted to return to their hometowns in areas of Syria now under Syrian government control.

However, the U.S. military and State Department officials in nearby Jordan rejected an invitation to Tuesday’s meeting. The U.S. military also prohibited a Syrian-Russian delegation from entering the Rukban camp on Tuesday. The delegation had sought to assess conditions in the camp, which have become increasingly desperate according to reports from a variety of outlets, including U.S. government-funded outlets like Voice of America.

The U.S.’ refusal to attend the meeting or allow the delegation passage comes less than a month after the U.S. military blocked the entry of evacuation buses overseen by Russian and Syrian forces that would have allowed refugees to leave the camp.

The buses would have entered through the “humanitarian corridors” that were recently opened on the Syrian-controlled side of the U.S.-occupied enclave. While camp inhabitants can, in theory, leave the camp through the corridors on foot, the barren area’s remoteness makes such evacuations unfeasible without vehicle transport. Although some families have left this way, the lack of record keeping within the camp has made it impossible to know how many have tried leaving this way since the corridors were opened last month.

An often overlooked problem that has prevented them from leaving is that U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained “moderate rebel” groups have been known to block camp inhabitants from leaving, demanding large payments in U.S. dollars to leave the area. The U.S. military took control of Al-Tanf alongside “moderate” rebel forces in 2014 after wresting the area from Daesh. Many of those opposition groups have since been revealed to have ties and sympathies to terrorist groups, including Daesh.

The U.S. has not given a reason for its rejection of Tuesday’s meeting and had previously said that its rejection of the evacuation buses was based on its view that the buses did not meet the U.S.’ “protection standards.”

Horrific conditions and a U.S. shrug

While the U.S. has blocked refugees from leaving on Russian-Syrian buses under U.S. “protection,” it has done little to abet the suffering of the tens of thousands of civilians in Rukban, even though the area is under complete U.S. military control and a U.S. military base is just a few miles away. Indeed, the extent of U.S. “aid” to the Rukban camp has been medical training of the handful of nurses in the camp, who work in conditions they describe as being like “the Stone Age” owing to the chronic lack of basic medications and doctors.

While medical care is decidedly lacking, the most pressing problem is the access to food, as starvation has become a real threat for those living in Rukban. Last October the opposition-aligned news service, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), reported that the Rukban camp had been without food or essential supplies for months. Only two aid deliveries, managed jointly by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and the UN, were able to enter the camp.

One of those shipments, however, almost didn’t happen after the UN delayed the aid “for logistical and security reasons.” While the UN did not specify which “security reasons” had prompted the delay, it was apparently not the Syrian government, as the UN also said in the same statement that the convoy had received approval from Damascus. This suggests that the “security” concerns were related to U.S.-backed militants in the U.S.-controlled area surrounding al-Tanf. Notably, Russian and Syrian sources have claimed that these same militants often “plunder” the aid intended for the camp’s inhabitants for themselves.

Since then, the situation inside the camp has continued to deteriorate. Indeed, things have gotten so desperate that, in January, a mother attempted to set herself and her three children on fire after she couldn’t find food for three straight days and preferred to give her children a quick death rather than watch them starve. Others in the camp rescued the family, though the mother and her infant were seriously injured. Recently aid from the UN and SARC arrived in early February, the first aid shipment in over three months.

The lack of food combined with the lack of medical care has been responsible for scores of deaths in the camp — the majority of which are of children under the age of two, who often die from malnutrition and preventable diseases. Others have died from freezing weather owing to a lack of adequate shelter, with eight children dying in January for that very reason. Satellite images taken of the camp in early March showed the recent creation of a mass grave containing an estimated 300 bodies adjacent to the camp.

Despite the desperate conditions less than 13 miles from its military base, the U.S. has declined to send food, doctors, medical supplies or other forms of aid to Rukban’s inhabitants, while also preventing them from leaving. However, the U.S. has been providing militant groups in the same area with military and logistical support.

Rukban provides a pretext

In addition to presiding over the squalid and starvation conditions in the Rukban camp, the U.S. has also given militant groups present in the area it controls — including Daesh terrorists who have “embedded” themselves in the camp on the U.S.’ watch — free rein to terrorize the camp’s refugees. These militant groups not only control the flow of food and aid in the camp but terrorize its most vulnerable inhabitants, forcing women and children into sex slavery and engaging in human trafficking. All of this is taking place in a “deconfliction zone” controlled by the U.S. military.

These extremist groups, including Daesh, are well-armed, according to Jordanian Brigadier General Sami Kafawin, who told NBC News in 2017 that these groups “have whole weapons systems … small arms, RPGs, anti-aircraft.”

The official reason for the U.S. base in al-Tanf has long been counterterrorism operations that ostensibly target Daesh. However, very few attacks against the terror group have been launched from this base and a UN report released last August found that Daesh had been given “breathing space” in U.S.-occupied areas of Syria, including al-Tanf. The U.S. has stated that it uses the al-Tanf base to train Syrian opposition fighters who then control the area around the base, including Rukban.

Unidentified Syrian rebels surround a piece of US weaponry during training by an American special forces member in Tanf. Photo | Hammurabi’s Justice News

With the U.S. now having claimed that Daesh has been completely defeated in Syria, the official justification for its illegal occupation of Syrian territory is wearing thin. With that justification now on shaky ground, the U.S. is increasingly having to acknowledge its main motive for its presence in al-Tanf — containing Iran and keeping Syria divided.

Indeed, a recent Reuters article notes that the U.S.-controlled area around al-Tanf that includes the Rukban camp “is designed to shield U.S. troops at the Tanf garrison and maintain for Washington a strategic foothold in an area close to a crucial supply route for Iranian weapons entering Syria from Iraq.” This was confirmed by General Joseph Votel late last year when he told NBC News that the U.S. base in al-Tanf was key in countering “the sway of Iran” in Syria.

This followed statements made last July by National Security Advisor John Bolton that U.S. troops would remain in Syria “as long as the Iranian menace continues throughout the Middle East.” This policy of Iran containment has clearly guided U.S. policy in Syria of late, with at least 1,000 U.S. troops set to stay in Syria illegally despite Daesh’s defeat and President Donald Trump’s recent calls for a troop withdrawal.

The U.S. has been accused of using the civilians trapped in Rukban as a “shield” for its continued operations in Syria aimed at containing Iran’s regional influence. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier this month that “the fact that people are not allowed to leave [the camp] and are held hostage makes one suggest that the U.S. needs this camp to continue justifying its illegitimate presence there.” There appear to be few other explanations for the U.S.’ refusal to let camp inhabitants leave the area.

The hypocrisy of U.S. “humanitarian concerns”

The situation in the Rukban camp reveals the dark reality behind the U.S.’ occupation of Syrian territory in Al-Tanf and elsewhere. In order to pursue its policy of Iran “containment” and a divided and partitioned Syria, the U.S. is willing to imprison some 40,000 people — many of them children — in a concentration camp where international aid is blocked and where food is so scarce that mothers are setting themselves and their children on fire so they can avoid slowly starving to death.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a concentration camp is defined as “a place where large numbers of people are kept as prisoners in extremely bad conditions, especially for political reasons.” It is undeniable that the Rukban camp fits this definition to the letter.

That the U.S. justifies its aggressive policies around the world — from Syria to Venezuela and elsewhere — as being motivated by “humanitarian concerns” — when a refugee camp under the U.S.’ complete control in Syria is facing starvation conditions and its inhabitants are being forcefully kept confined in the camp by the U.S. military despite their expressed desire to leave — is an obscene Orwellian twist. All this to “contain” Iranian influence in the Middle East.

Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.

March 28, 2019 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

US Top General Takes to CNN to Dispute Syria Withdrawal

Sputnik – 15.02.2019

US General Joseph L. Votel, who has presided over stagnant results in America’s wars since being named commander of US Central Command last year, recently publicly disagreed with US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops from Syria.

“It would not have been my military advice at that particular time,” Votel told CNN of the plan to withdraw troops. Of course, the advice of US generals has brought the country 18 years of war with nothing to show for it except the Pentagon’s expanded budget. The United States now spends about 40 percent more on the military per year than it did during the height of the Iraq War in 2005.

“I would not have made that suggestion, frankly,” said Votel, referring to the decision to bring the troops back home to the US — a process that’s evidently ongoing and also a source of mystery. Exits are notoriously dangerous military maneuvers, so the US has kept quiet on the precise number of forces it has maintained across Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Some analysts have suggested that the military’s consistent refusal over the years to be transparent about troop numbers in the above-mentioned countries has backfired, leaving them with little evidence for their assertions that Trump is killing a critical mission.

The US Constitution, of course, leaves final military decisions up to the president and not the generals, who are subordinate to the office.

Trump has advocated withdrawing US personnel from costly foreign military engagements that lack clear objectives, but his administration has waffled on putting those desires into motion for about two years, variously saying Daesh has been defeated, calling out the need to prevent a Daesh resurgence and combat Iran and plainly admitting that there is nothing in Syria for the US military except “sand and death.”

On Friday, Votel was back on the Pentagon’s message that Daesh is not actually defeated, even though the terrorists’ land holdings have been reduced from the size of Britain to less than a square mile. Daesh “still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources, so our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network,” said Votel to CNN, as reported by The Hill.

In any event, achieving the top post in US Central Command (CENTCOM) is often seen as a boon for the careers of military officers. Former CENTCOM chiefs include retired generals David Petraeus and James Mattis, who would go on to become the head of the Central Intelligence Agency and US Secretary of Defense, respectively, after their stints as CENTCOM commanders.

Former UK Ambassador to Syria Peter Ford tells Sputnik not to read too much into Votel’s comments but instead to observe the “continuing efforts of the media and political establishment to undermine Trump,” who has expressed far more anti-interventionist sentiments than his predecessor both during his campaign and while in office.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 2 Comments

US Caught Helping ISIS Commanders Escape from Prison in Afghanistan

Tasnim News Agency | January 28, 2019

Kabul – A large number of prisoners, all of them senior members of Daesh (also ISIS or ISIL) terrorist group, broke out of a Taliban prison in northwest Afghanistan after US troops helped them escape through a covert operation.

According to Tasnim dispatches, American forces operating in Afghanistan carried out a secret military operation in the northwestern province of Badghis two weeks ago and helped the Daesh inmates escape the prison.

The report added that 40 Daesh ringleaders, all of them foreigners, were transferred by helicopters after American troops raided the prison and killed all its security guards.

Abdullah Afzali, deputy head of Badghis provincial council, confirmed the news.

Informed sources have given a detailed account of the US operation to rescue the Daesh forces and the developments that helped Americans pinpoint the location of the prison in the mountainous areas.

Aminullah, a man from Uzbekistan, was one of the Daesh commanders held captive in the Taliban prison. His success to escape from the prison led to the dismissal of the Taliban prison guard and his punishment.

January 28, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Daesh Militants Transfered From Pakistan to Tajikistan – Russian Official

Sputnik – January 28, 2019

Unidentified helicopters transported a large number of Daesh terrorists from Pakistan to the border with Tajikistan, close to Russia’s southern borders, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov said on Monday. Pakistan and Tajikistan are separated by Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor region.

According to the Russian minister, there may be some preparations for a provocation that may affect Russia.

“Daesh fighters in massive quantities were transported from Pakistani territory to the border with Tajikistan. In that area, perhaps, the militants might stage massive provocations that would result in huge amounts of refugees fleeing the territory. This would have an impact on Russia,” Zubov said.

This comes after earlier Col. Gen. Andrey Novikov, the head of the Commonwealth of Independent States Anti-Terrorism Centre, stated that Daesh terrorists were being transported to Afghanistan and Pakistan after facing defeat in Syria and Iraq.

Last year, the Syrian Arab News Agency reported that US helicopters evacuated Daesh leaders from several areas across the Syrian province of Deir ez-Zor to the country’s northeast. The US-led coalition, in turn, denied all accusations.

See also:

Is There a ‘Secret US Hand’ Supporting Daesh in Afghanistan?

January 28, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment