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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

Iraq’s Hashd al-Sha’abi warns Israel against possible attacks, pledges strong response

Press TV – January 21, 2019

Iraq’s pro-government Popular Mobilization Units, known in Arabic as Hashd al-Sha’abi, have advised Israel against “playing with fire” after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hinted that Tel Aviv may attack the anti-terror volunteer fighters.

Moein al-Kazemi, a Hashd commander, told the Iraqi Kurdistan’s Rudaw television network on Sunday that the force was ready to deliver a “strong” response to any aggression.

He said while Israel had yet to make a move, Israeli media were already testing the Iraqi government’s reaction to a possible attack by publishing bogus reports on the issue.

Nonetheless, any act of hostility against Hashd al-Sha’abi could backfire on Tel Aviv as thousands of missiles in southern Lebanon were already aimed at Israeli targets, al-Kazemi warned.

The commander made it clear that Hashd al-Sha’abi was an official military organization funded in part by the Iraqi government and therefore “had the right” to defend the country.

Pompeo, who paid a visit to Baghdad and Iraq’s Kurdistan region earlier this month, was reported to have made it clear to Iraqi officials that Washington would not react to possible Israeli attacks against Hashd fighters.

Citing an unnamed Iraqi official, Russia’s RT Arabic service reported Thursday that the top US diplomat had relayed the message during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

Abdul-Mahdi expressed concern about the statement and warned Pompeo that such actions by Israel would have grave consequences, the report said.

Israel’s long record of attacking anti-Daesh forces

Last June, Hashd fighters came under attack in Syria’s border town of al-Hari, in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr, as they were chasing Daesh terrorists out of the area.

Both the Syrian government and Hashd al-Sha’abi declared back then that the attack near the Iraqi-Syrian border had been deliberate and could only have been carried out by either Israel or the US.

US Embassy in Baghdad denies that US forces are responsible for strike in Syria near Iraq-Syria border on 2 Iraqi PMU (Hashd) Brigade HQs that killed 22 & injured 12 Iraqis. Other US official says Israel is responsible. https://t.co/SnwzKtRpIM
— David M. Witty (@DavidMWitty1) June 19, 2018

An unnamed US official denied any involvement by American forces, triggering speculation by some media sections that Israel might have been behind the attack.

“We have reasons to believe that it was an Israeli strike,” the official told Agence France-Presse (AFP) at the time.

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry also denounced the airstrike, saying it “expresses rejection and condemnation of any air operations targeting forces in areas where they are fighting Daesh, whether in Iraq or Syria or any other area where there is a battlefield against this enemy that threatens humanity.”

Israel has repeatedly launched airstrikes against Syrian military forces and other groups fighting Daesh in the Arab country, under the pretext of attacking Iranian military advisers in Syria.

Many observers believe the attacks are aimed at propping up the Takfiri terror groups which are on their last legs in the face of constant Syrian army advances.

Hashd al-Sha’abi and other anti-terror Iraqi fighters are cooperating with the Syrian government to keep the two countries’ joint border safe and repel terrorists.

January 21, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraqi fighters: Hezbollah not to be left alone in war

Press TV – December 15, 2018

An Iraqi anti-terror paramilitary group has pledged to stand by Hezbollah in the event of a war following recent Israeli operations near the Lebanese border.

“In the event of any war against Hezbollah, the movement is not going to be alone,” Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba spokesman Hashim al-Mousawi told Iran’s Tasnim news agency on Friday.

The group, simply known as Nujaba, is part of Hashd al-Sha’abi which is an umbrella counter-terrorism force gathering volunteer fighters from Iraq’s various ethnic groups, including Shias, Sunnis and Christians.

In the event of an attack on Lebanon’s Hezbollah, “all, including Nujaba, will be standing by its side,” Mousawi said.

Israel has recently launched an operation to destroy what it claims tunnels dug by Hezbollah into the occupied territories.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday warned that Hezbollah would be dealt “unimaginable blows” if it confronted the operation.

Hezbollah’s deputy secretary general Sheikh Naim Qassem warned last week that there is no spot across Israel outside the range of the Lebanese resistance movement’s missiles.

“Israel is not capable of confronting Hezbollah’s missiles. The Palestinian resistance is also advancing day by day. The resistance’s missile power is increasing,” Mousawi said.

He said a recent botched intelligence operation in the Gaza Strip in which a ranking Israeli officer was killed in clashes with Palestinian fighters showed Israel’s “obvious incapability.”

The incursion saw Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups fire nearly 500 rockets into Israel during a two-day flare-up, forcing Tel Aviv to accept a hasty declaration of a ceasefire.

’US destabilizing Iraq-Syria border’

Al-Mousawi also said the United States is trying to create instability on the Iraqi-Syrian border by keeping the corridors used by terrorists open.

Washington, he said, keeps supporting terrorists along the passageways leading from its military base at the hugely-strategic al-Tanf border crossing.

The crossing lies at the intersection of Iraqi, Syrian, and Jordanian borders as well as the Wadi Hauran valley in the western Iraqi Anbar Province, where the US has built a sprawling military base.

Thousands of militants are trained at the base with the ultimate goal of toppling the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

“The US does not seek Daesh’s defeat and elimination. It seeks to keep Daesh as part of its international plans to target any country that opposes its policies,” Mousawi said.

“Daesh is a recruit and employee of the United States which uses the group for its special plans,” he added.

The Nujaba spokesman touched on the Syria developments, saying the US is “the main obstacle” to the Syrian army’s liberation of the last major terrorist bastion in the northwestern Idlib Province.

Idlib holds the largest concentration of militants and Takfiri terrorists, where Russia and Turkey have created a buffer zone to help end the violence there after the US prevented Syria from taking back the province.

Mousawi said the US is exploiting terrorist and armed groups depending on its own interests, adding whenever Washington perceives a political resolution is near, it resorts to obstructive efforts and stonewalling right away.

The US, he said, is pursuing its own political agenda in Syria, but American forces will not be able to remain in the country forever.

December 15, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Druze Gather in Israeli-Occupied Golan Heights to Mark Support for Assad

© REUTERS / Ammar Awad
Sputnik – 06.10.2018

Gathering along a fence separating them from the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights, Druze commemorated the anniversary of the start of the 1973 Arab Israeli War while celebrating Syria’s successes in its recent war against the terrorists.

Carrying Syrian flags, portraits of President Bashar Assad, binoculars and megaphones, the Druze community in the village of Massade chanted loyalty to the Syrian government, with troops and civilians on the other side of the border shouting and waving back.

Local resident Emil Masoud told Reuters that the rally was meant to “celebrate the final stages of the war… and to celebrate with our people in Syria the final stage of victory.”

The village of Massade, part of Syria’s Quneitra District, has been under Israeli occupation since the Arab-Israeli War of 1967.

Israel occupied 1,200 square kilometers of the 1,800 square-kilometer Golan Heights during the Six-Day War, and formally annexed it in 1981. The UN Security Council condemned the decision and called the move to impose Israeli “laws, jurisdiction and administration” over the territory “null and void and without international legal effect.”

During the conflict in Syria, much of southern Syria, including the Syrian-controlled portion of the Golan Heights, was occupied by Islamist militants, including Daesh (ISIS), a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries. This summer, Syrian forces won back control of their southern border areas from the terrorists.

Last week, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem called on the international community to compel Israel to abide by UN Security Council resolutions, including the one on the Golan Heights, and stressed Damascus’ determination to fully liberate the Golan Heights, “just as we liberated southern Syria from terrorists.”

October 6, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Govt Revokes Citizenship of Israeli ISIS Members, Ignoring Own History of Assisting ISIS

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | August 24, 2018

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — On Wednesday, Israel’s Interior Ministry announced that it would revoke the citizenship of 19 Israelis who are alleged to have fought on behalf of Daesh (ISIS). The move comes after a new law went into effect, giving Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri the ability to strip Israelis deemed to be members of foreign terrorist organizations of their citizenship.

The alleged Daesh members were identified by Shin Bet, Israel’s security agency, which provided the Interior Ministry with the names of 20 Israeli nationals who had joined Daesh. However, for reasons that are still unclear, one of the individuals on that list, who was left unnamed, did not have his or her citizenship revoked. Reports in Israeli media have claimed that the majority of individuals on the list were Israeli Arabs, though some were identified as Jewish Israelis.

Overall, Shin Bet estimated that 60 Israeli citizens have left the country since the conflict in Syria began in 2011 in order to fight on behalf of armed opposition groups, including Daesh and the Al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front. Fewer than 10 are believed to have returned to Israel since fighting in Syria began. The Jerusalem Post further notes that “dozens” of Arab Israeli citizens have been arrested by Israeli authorities in recent years for allegedly seeking to join terror groups like Daesh.

With Syria lost, Daesh outlives its usefulness to Israel

While the recent decision to revoke the citizenship of alleged Daesh members has largely been framed as the Israeli government cracking down on terrorism, such narratives ignore Israel’s own past support for the terror group over the course of the Syrian conflict.

Indeed, from early on in the conflict, Israel made it clear that it “preferred” Daesh’s presence in Syria to the presence of Syria’s legitimate government, a preference soon followed by a report published by an Israeli government-funded think tank that called Daesh a “useful tool” against Israel’s regional rivals — Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.

Since then, considerable evidence, including a 2014 United Nations report, has shown that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have long been in regular contact with Daesh, even bringing wounded Daesh members into Israel for treatment. Particularly jarring was the 2016 statement made by Israel’s military intelligence chief, Major General Herzi Halevy, that Israel does not want to see Daesh in Syria defeated.

Even the very Israeli who declared ISIS an illegal terror organization, former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, later went on to candidly admit last year that Israel maintains open communications with a Daesh cell active in the Golan Heights, even though communicating with any group deemed terrorist by the state is, without exception, illegal under Israeli law. Not only that, but Ya’alon also went on to describe a specific incident in which Daesh apologized to the IDF after opening fire on an IDF position, suggesting that the Israel-Daesh relationship is deeper than “open communications.”

Given Israel’s proven collaboration with Daesh over the course of the Syrian conflict in order to aid its own regional ambitions, the recent decision to revoke the citizenship of 19 Israeli Daesh members is hardly the straightforward counter-terrorism measure it is being made out to be.

Instead, it is likely an indicator of the quickly approaching end of the Syrian conflict, which has seen the Syrian government largely reconsolidate its territory despite the efforts of largely foreign-funded opposition groups. Indeed, though Daesh was once a “useful tool” to the Israeli government, it’s failure to dislodge the Syrian government means that the group has outlived its usefulness — as have the handful of Israelis who joined the group over the course of the conflict.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

August 24, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Taliban Praises Recent Talks With Washington as ‘Very Helpful’

Sputnik – August 13, 2018

The Arch enemies entered into talks following the successful implementation of a three-day ceasefire in June for the Muslim holiday of ‘Eid al-Fitr.’

A Senior Taliban official has described peace talks held last month with the US as “very helpful” in envisaging a path out of Afghanistan’s seventeen year old war.

The leader, from an organisation within the Taliban called ‘Quetta Shura,’ has been quoted as saying that both sides intend to hold the next round of talks in September, and that these “will be more specific and focused on key issues.” He also added that, “once the breakthrough is started it will be stunning for all.”

The comments come on the heels of a string of reports since the end of July, which describe an unprecedented face-to-face meeting held in the Qatari capital, Doha, between a Taliban delegation and officials from the US State Department, led by senior diplomat Alice Wells. Representatives from the Islamist insurgency were quick to laud discussions at that time too, describing them as “very positive.”

While Washington officials with detailed knowledge of the negotiations remain tight-lipped, Taliban delegates who were in attendance let a few of the specifics loose: allegedly, a key US demand is for Washington to maintain a military presence in Afghanistan while peace talks are ongoing. While initially hostile to such a suggestion, reports suggest that the insurgency’s leadership council has since suggested that it could be open to the idea on the condition that the US plays an active political role in the peace process.

The Taliban has long refused to hold discussions with Ashraf Ghani’s government in Kabul until it is given the opportunity for direct talks with the US. However, leading talks for reconciliation between the central government in Kabul and the Taliban has long been anathema to Washington, which has maintained that it would not heavily involve itself in “Afghan-led, Afghan-owned” negotiations. Echoing that sentiment in early July, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo proclaimed that the Trump administration would “support, facilitate and participate in peace discussions, but peace must be decided by the Afghans and settled among them.”

Yet, as time has ticked by, reports suggest that President Donald Trump has grown impatient with the tactical stalemate on the ground and NATO’s inability to retake chunks of territory controlled by the Taliban. According to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, as of January 30 2018, approximately 56.3% of Afghanistan was under the Taliban’s sway. Frustration at such a reality may have culminated in the US president’s decision to dispatch envoys to Afghanistan in early July to open up channels for backdoor diplomacy.

The US’ sudden willingness to sit down with the Taliban has likely been bolstered by the group’s apparent commitment to extirpating foreign terrorist groups from Afghan territory — namely Daesh. This month, a Taliban onslaught reportedly caused 200 Daesh fighters to surrender in the North of the country. Additionally, the group are advancing on a Daesh stronghold in the eastern province of Nangarhar, where a large-scale battle is expected to take place.

Despite the optimism among the Taliban’s echelon, fighting with the Afghan Security Forces continues unabated. In the early hours of Friday, the group’s fighters launched an assault for control of the eastern city of Ghazni. According to the country’s 1TV television station, so far 100 people have been killed. In an effort to repel the advance, the US Air Force launched a series of air strikes on Taliban positions, raising questions as to how likely it is that these old foes are ready to sit down at the negotiating table.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Syrian Army Uncovers Massive Haul of Western-Made Weapons for Rebels

© Sputnik / Michael Alaeddin
Sputnik | July 4, 2018

The Syrian Army has gotten its hands on another huge cache of weapons and ammunition, including US-made TOW anti-tank missile systems, chemical warfare, minesweeping and communications equipment and even armored vehicles. Some of the supplies appear to be brand new, as if militants did not get the chance to use them against government forces.

The weapons and equipment were surrendered to Syrian troops by militants in Daraa, southwest Syria, who handed over the haul in accordance with a recently signed reconciliation agreement.

The Syrian Arab News Agency posted a video report of the find, with footage showing everything from tanks and armored personnel carriers to RPG launchers, shells, gasmasks, minesweepers, mortars, heavy machinegun emplacements and TOW launchers, along with boxes which appear to be supplies for Free Syrian Army militants from the United States.

Over two dozen towns and villages in southwestern Syria accepted a surrender deal with Damascus following days of negotiations brokered by the Russian military. The deal saw militants from the Free Syrian Army giving up their fight against the government and siding with the army in their operation to mop up the remnants of Nusra Front and Daesh forces in the region. The Syrian military launched an offensive in southern Syria in recent weeks amid constant militant shelling of the cities of Daraa and As-Suwayda.

The Israeli military reportedly drew “red lines” on Sunday amid the fighting, demanding that Damascus stick to a 1974 disengagement agreement which provides for a buffer zone between the two countries. Israel has beefed up its presence near the Golan Heights with tanks and artillery, but promised to stick to a policy of non-intervention in the Syrian conflict.

July 4, 2018 Posted by | Video, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Washington’s Syrian Chess Game Leaves Iraqi Forces Battling ISIS Dead

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | June 26, 2018

Last Sunday, June 17, local Syrian media reported that the U.S. coalition had bombed Syrian Arab Army installments in the town of Al-Hariri. The bombing killed dozens of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers as well as 22 fighters from the Iraqi paramilitary group known as the Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd al-Sha’abi, PMF), which has been collaborating with the Syrian government to wipe out Daesh (ISIS) fighters around the Syrian-Iraqi border city of Abu Kamal in the Deir Ez-Zor governorate.

Soon after the strike, however, the U.S. denied responsibility for the attack, with Pentagon spokesman Adrian Rankine-Galloway asserting that the bombing was “not a U.S. or coalition strike,” while an anonymous U.S. official told Agence France-Presse, and later CNN, that Israel had been responsible for the strike. Israel declined to comment on the allegations.

While Israel was widely blamed for the strike following those media reports, new evidence gathered by Iraq’s PMF from the site of the strike has shown that the attack may, in fact, have been carried out by the U.S. coalition. After collecting fragments of missiles used in the strike, the group – which is sponsored by the government of Iraq – determined that the U.S. had carried out the strike by firing missiles at the SAA/PMF position from a location near the Iraqi border city of Al-Qa’im. U.S. culpability for the attack would mean that it is the second time in less than a month that the U.S.-led coalition has attacked pro-government fighters targeting Daesh within Syria.

The head of PMF’s military operations, Abu Munather Al-Husseini, asserted that the U.S.-led Joint Operations Command (JOC), also known as the U.S. coalition, had been informed by the Iraqi military of the PMF’s location prior to the strike. Thus, if the PMF’s analysis of the strike site is indeed correct, the U.S. coalition had intentionally and deliberately targeted the PMF as well as the SAA in conducting the strike.

As MintPress reported soon after the attack, the strike was launched from U.S.-occupied territory, meaning that either the U.S.-led coalition conducted the attack but publicly denied responsibility, or that Israel was responsible for the attack and “independently” launched the strike from Syrian territory occupied by the U.S.-led coalition. The PMF’s analysis of the strike site has now determined that the former was most likely the case, given that the group had waited to point the finger at Israel or the U.S. until concluding its analysis of the attack.

PMF’s leadership lambasted the U.S. for allegedly carrying out the strike and targeting its forces, while also urging retaliation against the U.S. for repeatedly interfering in its efforts to wipe out Daesh in Syria as well as Iraq. Indeed, just days before the strike, the PMF had successfully launched a major offensive against Daesh in the area of Syria where the strike later took place.

In a statement released on Sunday, PMF Deputy Commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis warned of retaliation against the U.S., stating:

We tell the Americans that we as the Hashd [PMF], including all of its formations, follow the Iraqi government. We will not remain silent about this attack. […] Remaining silent on this incident, saying that ‘that position is outside the Iraqi territory, hence we have nothing to do with it’ is forfeiting the blood of our martyrs.

U.S. chess game with ISIS as pawn

U.S.’ actions near Abu Kamal betray the fact that it is seeking to expand the portion of Syria’s Northeast that it currently occupies, an area that accounts for 30 percent of Syria’s total land mass and includes the majority of the country’s oil, gas, fresh water, and agricultural resources. The U.S. has long had its eye on the strategic border town, as it is the main border crossing between Syria and Iraq. More importantly, it is the only border crossing that connects Syrian government-controlled territory with Iran, through Iraq.

A major U.S. goal in its occupation of Syria has been disrupting this land bridge, but continued Syrian government control of Abu Kamal makes this impossible. Were the U.S. to take control of Abu Kamal, it would control Syria’s most important border crossings, as it already controls the Syrian-Jordanian border crossing at al-Tanf.

The U.S.’ interest in Abu Kamal and its recent targeting of forces fighting Daesh in the area suggest that a Daesh takeover of the city is likely to be used by the U.S. as the pretext for the expansion of Syrian territory, a tactic the U.S. has used before in Syria. The possibilities of a Daesh takeover of Abu Kamal have been openly noted by influential U.S. think tanks, such as the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), which recently mused that Daesh control over Abu Kamal would serve U.S. interests in the region, as it would allow the U.S.-occupied zone of Syria to “spread by osmosis.”

For that reason, the recent reappearance of Daesh (ISIS) in Abu Kamal is significant. Indeed, Daesh launched its largest military offensive in several months in Abu Kamal earlier this month, with 10 suicide bombers helping clear the way for Daesh militants to take over parts of the city. The offensive killed 25 Syrian soldiers and allied fighters, according to monitors. Daesh attacked from the U.S.-occupied zone of Syria, despite the fact that the U.S. has long justified its illegal presence in Syria by claiming that it is fighting the terror group. However, Russian and Syrian military sources have asserted that the U.S. is not fighting Daesh in the region, but protecting them.

The strikes on pro-Syrian government forces around Abu Kamal also come amid reports that indicate the U.S. is fortifying its military positions within occupied Syria by constructing military bases along the Euphrates river in proximity to Syrian military installments throughout the Deir Ez-Zor region and by transferring “a large volume of arms and equipment, including missiles, military vehicles and bridge equipment” to those same areas in recent weeks.

Given that the U.S. may soon lose its influence in Southern Syria and its control over the al-Tanf border crossing, thanks to the Syrian government’s offensive in the Dara’a governorate, it is likely the U.S. will continue to fortify its position in the country’s Northeast and expand its efforts to dislodge the SAA and its allies from Abu Kamal in a last-ditch attempt to prolong the conflict and succeed in its efforts to occupy and partition Syria.

Whitney Webb is a staff writer for MintPress News and a contributor to Ben Swann’s Truth in Media. Her work has appeared on Global Research, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has also made radio and TV appearances on RT and Sputnik. She currently lives with her family in southern Chile.

June 26, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

US-led warplanes strike northeastern Syria, kill four civilians

Press TV – June 13, 2018

Four civilians have been killed when the US-led coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group conducted an airstrike against Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah.

Local sources, requesting anonymity, told Syria’s official news agency SANA that the aerial attack targeted residential buildings in al-Hardan village, which is located in the southeastern part of the province, on Wednesday, causing the fatalities.

A dozen civilians lost their lives and several others sustained injuries on Tuesday, when US-led military aircraft bombarded Tal Shayr village in the same Syrian province.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in two separate letters addressed to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the rotating President of the UN Security Council Vasily Nebenzya on June 5, condemned the continuing attacks by the US-led coalition against innocent Syrians, and its assaults on the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the conflict-plagued Arab country.

The letters further noted that the “illegal” US-led coalition continues to perpetrate massacres against Syrian civilians, leaving scores of people, including elderly people, women and children, dead over the past few days and destroying homes as well as civilian properties and infrastructure in targeted villages.

The Syrian foreign ministry added that the US-led coalition is devoid of any international legitimacy, and has bombarded people in the provinces of Hasakah, Raqqah and Dayr al-Zawr after they did not agree to support US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militants.

“The United States has organized these militants in a bid to target the positions of the Syrian army, and recapture areas liberated by the Syrian army soldiers and their allies from the menace of terrorism,” the letters pointed out.

They noted, “The United States has on occasions offered direct support to Daesh Takfiri terrorist group – the latest of which was on May 24 when US-led fighter aircraft struck Syrian army military sites between Albu Kamal border town and Hmeimim Air Base less than 24 hours after government forces thwarted Daesh assaults on its positions.”

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Chomsky Among “Progressives” Calling for US Military Involvement in Syria

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | April 26, 2018

On Monday, the New York Review of Books published an open letter and petition aimed at securing Western support for putting pressure on Turkey to end its occupation of Afrin, opposing further Turkish incursions into Syria, and backing autonomy for Rojava — the region of Northern Syria that has functioned autonomously since 2012 after its administration was taken over by U.S-allied Kurdish factions. Authored by the Emergency Committee for Rojava, it has since been signed by well-known progressive figures such as Noam Chomsky and Judith Butler in its bid to organize efforts for the fulfillment of the group’s demands.

Those demands are entirely focused on U.S. government policy. The petition asks the government to “impose economic and political sanctions on Turkey’s leadership, . . . embargo sales and delivery of weapons from NATO countries to Turkey, . . . insist upon Rojava’s representation in Syrian peace negotiations,” and – most paradoxically of all — “continue military support for the SDF [Syrian Democratic Forces],” the Kurdish-majority group that has acted as a U.S. proxy and has been accused of ethnic cleansing in its bid to construct a Kurdish ethnostate in Northern Syria.

The group’s first three demands are reasonable, in the sense of seeking to punish Turkey for its illegal invasion of Syrian territory. However, they are also rather fanciful, in the sense that the U.S. government is highly unlikely to stop weapons sales or to sanction Turkey, which it needs to court in order to prevent Ankara from pivoting towards Russia. Indeed, the U.S. — by refusing to support the Kurds during the battle for Afrin – made it clear that its “alliance” with Syrian Kurds is opportunistic and very much secondary to the U.S.’ relationship with Turkey.

The third demand is equally unlikely to come about, as Turkey has previously called the involvement of Syrian Kurds in peace talks unacceptable and has essentially issued an “it’s either us or them” ultimatum. In addition, past attempts to invite the Kurds to participate in the peace talks have been rejected by Western nations, including the United States, in order to please Turkey.

More recently, Kurds themselves refused to attend peace talks earlier this year over the Turkish occupation of Afrin in light of the lack of international response to that event. However, even prior to the occupation of Afrin, Syrian Kurds had declared they were “not bound” by any decisions made during Syrian peace talks, thereby weakening the peace process.

Yet, beyond the impractical nature of the petition’s first three demands, the final demand – that the U.S. continue military support for the Syrian Democratic Forces – is by far the most unusual, in the sense that well-known progressive figures, in signing this petition, are asking for the continued U.S. occupation of Syria and for increased military and financial support for the U.S. proxy forces, the SDF.

While most progressive figures, likely including those who signed the petition, would never publicly call for extending a U.S.-led military occupation, this petition shows that the war propaganda in Syria – particularly as it relates to the Kurds – has been highly effective in subverting the progressive anti-war left as it relates to the Syrian conflict.

Indeed, the Kurds in Syria have long been romanticized by Western media for having built “the world’s most progressive democracy” and for being trailblazers for gender equality and gay rights. While the Kurds have incorporated some progressive policies, the realities on the ground are more nuanced. Furthermore, the U.S.’ “support” for Rojava, which the petition seeks to extend, is hardly helping progressive or even Kurdish causes.

Distinguishing the Kurds and the SDF

Since the rise of Daesh (ISIS) in the Syrian conflict, Western media has placed the Kurds on a pedestal and has long treated them as the only “effective” fighters against the terrorist group. However, praising the local Kurdish militias for their fighting prowess has since given way to praising the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), even though the two could not be more different.

While the SDF does boast a significant portion of Kurds among its ranks, it is not expressly Kurdish and is an umbrella group of several militias. Though this itself is not concerning, the identities of many of its Arab fighters do give cause for concern. For instance, one of the groups operating under the SDF’s banner is the Deir Ezzor Military Council (DMC) — a group whose fighters were former members of Daesh and al-Nusra (Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate), who were “retrained” by U.S. forces in Northern Syria after surrendering to the SDF and U.S.-backed forces in Raqqa. In addition, tribes that were formerly allied with Daesh have joined forces with the SDF over the past year.

The loosely-knit coalition of Syrian rebel groups, including Kurdish factions, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), are armed, trained and backed by the U.S. (SDF Photo)

In addition to hosting former members of Daesh and other terror organizations among its ranks, the SDF also regularly collaborates with Daesh in Northeastern Syria in targeting Syrian and Russian forces. Though the Kurds and Daesh are ostensible “enemies,” they have been shown to move amongst each other like allies, and Kurds have even worked alongside Daesh in coordination with U.S. special forces. Perhaps, then, it is little surprise that the SDF allowed Daesh terrorists to leave Raqqa peacefully last June as they took the city.

This collaboration with groups like Daesh, which the SDF has been praised in the West for fighting, has led to major defections of Kurds from the SDF — including SDF’s former spokesman Talal Silo, who accused the group of making secret deals with terrorists.

Along with their troubling ties and collaboration with Daesh, the SDF have participated in war crimes in Syria, in tandem with U.S. forces, and have been accused of ethnic cleansing in order to justify the establishment of a Kurdish ethnostate in Arab-majority areas of Northern Syria.

For instance, in the battle for Raqqa, the SDF — along with the U.S.-led coalition — committed war crimes, such as using chemical weapons and cutting off water supplies to Raqqa, which is still without water nearly a year after its “liberation.” The SDF also played a key role in the operation that left, by some estimates, as many as 8,000 dead and 160,000 more driven from their homes. The operation also left 80 percent of the city completely uninhabitable, and as many as 6,000 bodies are still believed to be buried in the rubble six months after the joint U.S-led coalition/SDF operation concluded.

Some journalists, such as Andrew Korybko, asserted that Raqqa’s civilian population was directly targeted because it was highly unlikely that any Arab, or non-Kurd for that matter, living in Arab-majority Raqqa would freely choose to live in a “Kurdish-dominated statelet” as a second-class citizen instead of choosing to have equal standing within the Syrian Arab Republic. In other words, the operation was, in part, targeting civilians who could resist Raqqa’s annexation by the U.S.-backed Kurds instead of Daesh forces, who were allowed to escape and were later re-assimilated into the SDF. The UN, however, has claimed that the SDF’s removal of Arab populations from Raqqa was done out of “military necessity” and thus did not constitute “ethnic cleansing.”

Have progressives thought through what they’re asking for?

Aside from the SDF, asking the U.S. to maintain its support of the group also means asking the U.S. to continue its illegal occupation of Syria. As MintPress has previously reported, the U.S.’ occupation of Syria is aimed at partitioning the country and preventing Syria’s Northeast from again coming under the control of the Syrian government.

Though partition has also been a goal of some U.S.-allied Kurdish nationalists, who have sought to use the division of Syria as a launching pad for an independent “Kurdistan,” the U.S. in recent months has made it clear that the partition of Northeastern Syria will not benefit the Kurds as much as Wahhabi Sunnis whose ideology is virtually indistinguishable from that of Daesh.

Early last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s new National Security Advisor John Bolton was working with U.S.-allied Middle Eastern nations to form an “Islamic coalition” that would replace the U.S. troops currently present in Northeastern Syria with an army composed of soldiers from nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt. This coalition would be a permanent military “stabilizing force” in the region.

In addition to pushing for foreign Arab soldiers to police Rojava, the Trump administration has also sought Saudi commitment to funding the reconstruction of the region. Saudi Arabia — known for its deplorable treatment of religious and ethnic minorities, and funding terror groups like Daesh — and its Gulf allies are highly unlikely to support the Kurds’ nationalist aims as well as their “progressive” direct democracy and promotion of gender equality and gay rights. Indeed, Saudi Arabia is the complete opposite of the Western progressive view of the Kurds, as it is a dictatorial monarchy well known for its repression of women and minorities and execution of members of the LGBT community. However, it is also the country that the U.S. is seeking to give the leading role in governing the area of Syria it currently occupies.

In effect, by asking for the continuation of U.S. military presence in Syria in order to aid the SDF, the Emergency Committee for Rojava is actually undermining the “progressive” Kurds they seek to support — and aiding yet another U.S. government attempt at nation-building, which is likely to result in a Wahhabist enclave that would differ little from a Daesh-led “caliphate.”

The Emergency Committee for Rojava’s efforts come amid major attempts aimed at defending and extending the U.S.’ illegal involvement in Syria. However, this petition is aimed at Western progressives, the group that has historically opposed illegal U.S. military occupations and wars in the past. Given how it has enticed well-known members of the progressive community, the petition shows that the push for Western “humanitarian” intervention in Syria is stronger than ever.

April 29, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 9 Comments