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The dark side of the Kurdish militias revealed in Qamisli stand-off

By Steven Sahiounie | MIDEAST DISCOURSE | January 27, 2021

North East Syria is the scene of a stand-off between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), based in Damascus, and the Syrian Defense Forces (SDF), who are militarily led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a Kurdish militia founded in October 2015, and supported by the US.

The North East corner of Syria has become like a patchwork-quilt, with patches of soil controlled by opposing sides, and various international players in the proxy war in Syria. The Syrian conflict is approaching 10 years, and was a US-NATO attack on Syria for ‘regime change’. Their plan failed, but succeeded in destroying the country and infrastructure, and scattering millions around the world as refugees and economic migrants.

Some in the west have rooted for the Kurds to establish a ‘homeland’ in North East Syria, but they fail to acknowledge that the region is not inhabited by only Kurds. While the Syrian Kurds represent some 10% of the population, they are a sizeable minority; but in a democracy the majority rules.

The Russian military recently sent reinforcements to the Qamishli airport in an effort to stabilize the tense situation in the area. The Russian military was invited to Syria by the Damascus government in 2015, and since then the government has regained control over the majority of the Syrian territory, with the exception of Idlib, which is under occupation by an Al Qaeda affiliate, HTS, and the North East region which is a conflict zone including the US, Russia, Turkey, the Kurdish militia YPG and the SAA. The Russians have continued negotiating with the Kurds for a peaceful resolution.

The Turkish Army invaded Syria in 2020 and recently shut down the Alouk water station, which supplies the city of Hasaka. After a one-week siege on the city residents, the Turks reopened the water on January 23.

The Internal Security Forces, a division of the YPG, sent reinforcements to the battle zone at Qamishli, in the neighborhood of Halko, where pitched battles erupted between the YPG and the SAA on January 23.

Previously, the YPG had prevented Syrian civil servants of the Hasaka water department in Al Azizia neighborhood from going to their office, and had kidnapped three of its staff.

The YPG had prevented doctors and staff from entering the Al-Qamishli National Hospital, a Syrian government hospital, for several days.

Yesterday, large reinforcements were sent to the area by both sides. The YPG are surrounding Qamishli neighborhoods and the airport. The area is populated by Syrians, who are not ethnically Kurds, is controlled by Damascus, and the YPG cut off bread supplies and water to them.

The Kurds have been blamed for starving non-Kurds, such as the indigenous Syrian Christian population, which is a sizeable group referred to as Syriani.

Wheat, other grains, and crude oil have been smuggled to Turkey from Syria by the SDF/YPG and sold on the black market in Turkey, which is controlled by Turkish President Erdogan’s son and his relatives.

Rojava, which translates to ‘west’ in Kurdish, is the name given to the North East region of Syria, by the Communist revolutionaries of the SDF.

The YPG and affiliated groups are designated as terrorist organizations by Turkey and Qatar. Both Turkey and the United States consider the PKK to be a terrorist organization, and yet the SDF and YPG are aligned with the PKK, who was led by the jailed Abdullah Ocalan. On June 4, 2020 Turkey asked the US to designate the YPG as a terrorist organization.

Residents recently fled from areas near Hasaka for fear of expected clashes after reports surfaced the SDF were storming the security zone in Hasaka city, which spurred people to flee from the market.

Some families living near the frontlines between the cities of Hasaka and Qamishli, started to leave their homes for fear of expected clashes between the SAA and the YPG, and the ongoing siege imposed by YPG.

The YPG has continued to prevent food and goods from entering the security zone in Hasaka city and has extorted money from violators.

Dozens of civil servants of the Syrian government staged a demonstration outside the justice building in the city of Hasaka, in protest against the continued siege imposed by YPG for the fifth day in a row on the neighborhoods controlled by Damascus, which prevent the entry of goods and food.

The current tensions may be tied back to January 10, when the YPG and the SAA stationed at the airport of Qamishli city, after the YPG kidnapped three senior SAA officers and some soldiers. Residents in the city were informed to stay away from security checkpoints and windows, and the market of Qamishli city was closed due to the escalating security tensions and clashes which left four SAA soldiers injured, while YPG snipers were stationed on roof-tops.

Qamishli is mostly under the control of the SDF, and the YPG, that has been a major US partner. The Syrian government forces; however, have a significant military presence on the southern outskirts of the city and control its international airport.

“A few weeks ago, the YPG arrested a major Syrian government intelligence official and his son while they were coming to Qamishli from the city of Hasaka,” said Ivan Hasib, a reporter based in Qamishli.

“(Syrian) Government troops at the time responded by arresting several YPG officers,” he told Voice of America, adding that, “the Russians swiftly mediated between the two sides and for a while an informal truce was largely holding.”

A US military convoy of 40 trucks and armor vehicles entered Syria from Iraq on December 17, in Hasaka province, near the border with Turkey, and was followed up with some 200 US troops who arrived on helicopters. The troops deployed to the nearby oilfields. Trump had ordered the US military to guard the oil fields, while allowing the plundered oil revenues to support the SDF and YPG.

The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) is the political-wing of the SDF and YPG. Their media outlets have detailed kidnappings, murder, abuse and arbitrary arrests in the region by the mercenaries under the control of the Turkish occupation forces.

These mercenaries are called the Syrian National Army (SNA) and they are terrorists following Radical Islam, which is a political ideology. Erdogan of Turkey leads a Muslim Brotherhood party, the AKP. The SNA were brought into Syria by the Turkish military invasion, which was green-lighted by Trump. The terrorists are responsible for massacres, abuse of human rights and overall oppression in the region, and consist of groups like the Sultan Murad division, the Hamza division, Jaysh-al Islam, Ahrar al-Sham and are often described as ‘moderate rebels’ in the US media, which tries to clean the image of these terrorists to sell regime change.

The patchwork quilt of North East Syria is fraying on the edges, and coming unstitched altogether. Opposing sides, and opposing international players are holding the Syrian people hostage. Now more than ever, the peace talks need to result in some changes on the ground.

January 31, 2021 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Leave a comment

Damascus says terrorist groups, US-backed militants continue to commit crimes in Syria

Press TV – January 30, 2021

Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Bashar al-Jaafari says terrorist organizations and militants of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is supported by the United States, continue to commit crimes in the Arab country.

The Syrian diplomat made the remarks during an informal session of the United Nations Security Council held via video conference at the initiative of Russia and Kazakhstan on Friday, Syria’s official news agency, SANA, reported.

During the session titled, “Children in Armed Conflict in Syria,” Jaafari noted that the said groups kept committing crimes and violations against children, including killing, kidnapping, recruiting, and transferring children to conflict areas in the countries of the region.

He added that those groups were also burning and destroying schools and hospitals and preventing children from receiving education.

The Syrian deputy foreign minister, however, stressed that despite all the crimes and violations, Damascus exerts tremendous effort to protect and care for the children who are found in the areas liberated from the grips of terrorists or those minors reached by the state institutions.

Jaafari further described terrorism as one of the most dangerous threats that affect countries and communities, warning that when it spreads, the first affected and the most vulnerable ones would be children.

The veteran diplomat also warned that an extremely alarming impact of terrorism is recruiting children by terrorists and illegitimate entities and forcing them to take part in terrorist acts.

Last week, the UN Children’s Agency said more than half of Syrian children in the war-ravaged country were missing out on education, as almost a third of schools have either fallen down or been commandeered by militant factions.

It estimated that there are more than 2.4 million children out of school inside the Arab country.

The new figures showed an alarming sharp rise from previous estimates when the UN agency said a third of Syrian schoolgoers were deprived of education.

January 30, 2021 Posted by | Civil Liberties, War Crimes | , , , | 2 Comments

Syria’s Arab Tribes Give Pro-American Forces and SDF One Month to Leave Eastern Syria

Sputnik – 11.08.2020

On 11 August, sheikhs and elders of the Arab Al-Uqaydat tribe met in the Syrian Deir ez-Zor province, agreeing that the US-led coalition is responsible for murdering tribal sheikhs in the province, and demanding that the region be cleared of SDF forces, local control returned to the Syrians, and stating: “leave the Arab region to the Arabs”.

Sputnik’s correspondent in al-Hasakah reported, citing civilian sources in Deir ez-Zor, that nearly 5,000 people attended a meeting of Al-Uqaydat sheikhs and elders. They agreed that the pro-American coalition and the SDF have one month to turn over all of those involved in murdering sheikhs in the Deir ez-Zor governorate, and demanded that the SDF and the coalition leave the province.

The tribal sheikhs condemned the security chaos caused by a series of murders of tribal elders and sheikhs, as well as condemning widespread corruption. These factors are reported to have forced the tribe to make the decision.

The most recent high-profile crime attributed to SDF fighters is the assassination of Sheikh Mutashar al-Hafil and his relative Dar Mihlef al-Khalaf, which has provoked a wave of protests and aggression by local tribes against both the armed SDF groups and the pro-American coalition.

“We are calling on the international coalition to transfer control over the province directly to its Arab population, respecting Syria’s territorial integrity, as well as the rights of Syrian citizens”, the trial elder’s statement said.

Al-Uqaydat tribal representatives also demand that the SDF release all prisoners and hostages: particularly and first, women and children.

Reportedly, the month given to the SDF and the coalition to meet the ultimatum starts today, August 11, 2020.

The Al-Uqaydat tribes have traditionally been situated in the eastern part of the Syrian Deir ez-Zor province. Popular protests hit these cities after pro-American SDF forces killed several sheikhs and tribal elders. In response, tribal representatives broke into SDF headquarters in several governorate cities and captured fighters.

August 11, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

Syrian tribe declares popular war against US forces, SDF

Press TV – August 10, 2020

A Syrian tribe in the eastern province of Dayr al-Zawr has launched a popular resistance force against US troops and their allies, accusing the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) of stealing the country’s resources.

The US-based Rai al-Youm newspaper said on its website on Monday that the tribe of Akidat announced in a statement the formation of a military council and launching popular resistance against the US forces and their allied militants in an apparent direct accusation of the American troops of being behind the assassination of Matshar al-Hafl, a senior member of the tribe.

The statement also accused the SDF of stealing the country’s resources and killing its prominent figures.

According to the statement, the elders and notable members of the tribe had held a meeting to take action against the “American occupiers” and the US-backed mercenaries, and to liberate the Syrian territory.

The statement said they agreed to form a political council and a tribal army – to serve as its military wing – to manage the tribe’s affairs in cooperation with the relevant authorities.

It added that the council has begun the practical steps towards the formation of the Akidat army to liberate Syrian territory in coordination with the Syrian army.

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

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians.

The US has dispatched new deployments to the Syrian provinces of Hasakah and Dayr al-Zawr following President Donald Trump’s October decision to keep hundreds of US troops in Syria to “secure” the country’s oilfields which Syrian troops have yet to retake from militants.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated that US attempts to control Syria’s oilfields were “illegal” and amounted to “robbery.”

Damascus is in great need of its major oil deposits in order to address its energy needs and rebuild the country amid crippling Western sanctions.

The Arab country has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the country.

The Arab country is currently extracting oil at only 10 percent of its pre-war capacity.

August 10, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Popular Resistance: Armed Syrian Arab Tribes Able to Defeat US-SDF Alliance, Ex-Diplomat Reveals

Sputnik – 07.08.2020

Earlier this week, a group of Syrian Arab tribes representatives broke into the local headquarters of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the cities of Deir ez-Zor, Diban, and Al-Hawaij in the eastern Deir ez-Zor Province.

Seyed Hadi Afgahi, an Iranian expert on the Middle East, and ex-diplomat at the Iranian embassy in Beirut, believes that Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) units play a destructive role in terms of Syria’s security and stability, but there are certain forces that can break them for good.

“After Daesh had been defeated, the Americans created an alternative force to destroy Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is a mixture of Arabs and Kurds, and plays a destructive role in terms of Syria’s stability and security. The Americans armed them and used them as a proxy to take control of oil in Eastern Syria. In fact, the United States is plundering Syrian oil reserves through these forces. That is why a popular resistance is being formed in Syria, similar to the one in Iraq in 2003, whose armed guerrillas repeatedly dealt a serious blow to the American military contingent in Iraq, forcing Barack Obama to conclude an agreement. This is exactly the way of forming a popular resistance among Arab tribes that is gradually gaining strength in Syria,” he said.

“Moreover, some of the Arab tribes elders’ sons in the area of Deir ez-Zor and in the east of Al-Hasakah have left their previous military units and returned to their homes, where they are already forming people’s armed resistance backed by the Syrian government. They are expanding their groups and attacking US forces,” he added.

“This is one of the ways to counter US presence in Syria, because currently the Syrian army is not strong enough to resist and is unable to strike, therefore the best way is to opt for popular resistance that can ‘strike and smash’”, the former diplomat concluded.

Afgahi’s comments come days after representatives of Syrian Arab tribes stormed several SDF headquarters in the cities of Deir ez-Zor, Diban, and Al-Hawaij in the eastern Deir ez-Zor Province. The armed tribesmen also detained SDF militants present in the buildings at that moment.

The storming of the SDF headquarters in the province happened after representatives of the tribes protested against arbitrary actions by militant groups supported by the US. The demonstration was held against a recent surge in killings of elders and sheikhs of the local tribes by the SDF militants. The protesters demanded that the group hand over those responsible for the killings.

The SDF and other Kurdish groups currently control most of Syria’s oil-rich east with the support of US troops, who have been tasked with “keeping” the local crude fields since October 2019 from alleged attempts by Daesh militants to seize them. The Syrian government has repeatedly slammed the presence of a US military contingent in the country as illegal since they didn’t receive a mandate either from Damascus or the UN.

August 7, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 1 Comment

SDF militants kill civilian protesting against US military presence in Syria

Press TV – August 5, 2020

A civilian has lost his life and several others sustained injuries during a rally in Syria’s northeastern province of Dayr al-Zawr to demand the withdrawal of US military forces and their allied militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) from the region.

Syria’s official news agency SANA, citing local sources, reported that residents of Diban town demonstrated on Tuesday afternoon to express their opposition to the presence of American soldiers and the arbitrary practices of SDF militants.

The US-backed militants responded by firing live bullets at the protesters, killing one of them and injuring several others.

SANA added that locals managed to expel SDF militants out of their checkpoints and the schools which they had been using as bases following the clashes.

Similar protests were held in other Dayr al-Zawr towns and villages, including al-Hawaij, Jadeed Ekedat, Tayaneh, al-Sobhah, Abu al-Nitel, al-Shuhayl and Shinan, where people called for the immediate pullout of SDF militants and US forces.

The militants reportedly brought in reinforcements from the towns of al-Shaddadi, al-Susah and al-Baghouz in order to bring the situation under control.

The Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency, citing sources speaking on condition of anonymity, reported that SDF militants, supported by military aircraft belonging to the US-led coalition, raided the towns of al-Shuhayl and al-Hawaij later in the day, triggering fierce clashes with locals.

Security conditions are reportedly deteriorating in areas controlled by the SDF in Hasakah and Dayr al-Zawr provinces amid ongoing raids and arrests of civilians by the militants.

Locals complain that the SDF’s constant raids and arrest campaigns have generated a state of frustration and instability, severely affecting their businesses and livelihoods.

Residents accuse the US-sponsored militants of stealing crude oil and refusing to spend money on services sectors.

Local councils affiliated with the SDF have also been accused of financial corruption. They are said to be embezzling funds provided by donors, and failing to provide basic public requirements.

August 5, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Civilian Taxi Driver Shot and Killed by US Military in Deir Ezzor

By Ahmad Al Khaled | American Herald Tribune | May 12, 2020

Before the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, Yasser Aslan used to teach programming. With the war and ever-dwindling economy, Yasser, the only breadwinner in the family of six, had to look for additional sources of income. Like thousands of other Syrians, he turned his car – a KIA Rio – into a taxi, and drove along the dangerous roads of Deir Ezzor province in an attempt to make the ends meet for himself, his wife and four daughters (15-years-old teenager and 4-years-old triplets).

Deir-Ezzor, as well as other eastern provinces of Syria, still suffers from small-scale yet lethal attacks carried out by remnants of ISIS terror group. The terrorists mostly target SAA and SDF checkpoints and patrols in the area, but civilians also fall victim to the attacks.

However, it was not ISIS activities that ultimately resulted in Yasser’s death. On May 1st, he and a passenger were driving through the area of Koniko oil facility that hosts a large US military base. As the car drew closer to the base, it unexpectedly came under fire. Yasser was fatally wounded in the head while the passenger survived and was taken prisoner by SDF.

Shortly after Yasser’s relatives were informed that his body was taken to a hospital in Jadid Baqara village. Posts on their social media pages blamed a “US sniper” for the death of their relative and friend, expressing outrage over the incident.

Although Yasser’s demise, most likely at the hands of US military personnel, was reported on-line, neither the Pentagon nor the International Coalition commented on the incident. The story gained no traction in the media. One report described the incident as a ‘clash with ISIS during which a civilian was killed’ without indication of the side responsible for his death.

May 12, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

“Scorched Earth” Terror Policy Sets Syrian and Iraqi Agricultural Land Ablaze

Although Daesh has claimed sole responsibility for recent crop fires, other culprits have a motive and share responsibility too

By Sarah Abed | InfoRos | June 20, 2019

After years of deprivation and financial turmoil farmers across the most fertile parts of Syria and Iraq were looking forward to a much-needed return on their investment. Unfortunately, before that could happen, their hard work went up in flames, literally. The devastation and pain that these fires have caused a countless number of families is heartbreaking and immeasurable.

Recently, tens of thousands of acres of agricultural land have been set on fire in the northern and eastern regions of Syria. 0ver 84,000 acres of wheat and barley crops have been destroyed, estimated losses are well over $3,000,000, as of June 17th. Over 20,000 acres of crops in a dozen Iraqi provinces have been destroyed as well.

I spoke with a Qamishli resident under the condition of anonymity, on June 17th about the recent wheat and barley crop fires in his region and he had the following to say, “If you were to come to Qamishli right now, you would not be able to smell anything but the fire. I get up in the morning and there’s ash covering my entire car, from the crop fires. The entire region has been affected, people’s livelihoods have been destroyed, people are confused and upset, and the fires are spreading beyond the fields and into towns, many families are suffering right now. Have you seen the size of the flames? They can’t be contained. There are birds that were killed, they couldn’t escape from the fire. Imagine that, they have been photographed sitting, some protecting their nests, completely burned alive.”

I asked about fatalities, he said “Over 25 people have been killed so far.”

When I asked who owns the land and who would have a motive to do this he answered,

“The majority of the lands that have been affected were owned by Arab families, not Kurds.” He also said, “75% of the people here think the Kurdish militias are responsible”.

A new policy implemented by the self-proclaimed Kurdish administration prevents wheat from being sold to areas under the Syrian governments control. Farmers who were offered a better rate by the Syrian government for their crops were not allowed to sell and coincidentally, now their crops have been destroyed.

Laith Marouf, Senior Consultant of Community Media Advocacy Centre (CMAC) stated on June 14th,

“For the past month, Kurdish Contras in Syria implemented a scorched earth campaign against Arab and Assyrian farm lands, with 100s of acres of crops burnt to the ground in an effort to force the majority population to accept Kurdish minority rule and occupation by the Empire. Yesterday, as a follow up to this campaign, Saudi sent an envoy who has toured the areas along with the US ambassador offering money to Arab and Assyrian tribal leaders, now hungry and financially ruined after their annual harvest was destroyed, in return for their allegiance against their homeland.”

When I spoke to Laith on June 17th about allegations being made against Turkish militias for the fires on Turkey’s borders Laith stated

“Fires started first in regions close to the Euphrates and Khabour rivers. Only in past few days fires started in border regions with Turkey”.

In 2017, when Daesh lost a significant amount of territory in Iraq and Syria including Mosul, Palmyra and Raqqa, the terrorist group took on a campaign of mass destruction and sabotage. Their goal was to destroy anything of value including priceless artifacts, factories, buildings, oil wells, water wells, electricity, sugar and cement factories and burning crops. Their aim was to inflict as much economic turmoil as possible on not only the governments but the civilians that lived in these areas. This led to what has been referred to as Daesh’s “scorched earth policy”.  The idea is simple, if they can’t have something, then no one else can either.

With these recent crop fires however, there could be multiple culprits that are using this opportunity to further their own destructive plans while Daesh or sleeper cells takes the entire blame. Even though Daesh has claimed responsibility and has called for their followers to continue to burn crops and cause the “apostates” to suffer, other parties have motives as well.

The Kurdish self-administration has blamed the Syrian government along with Daesh, for the fires. Salman Barudo the head of Kurdish administrations agriculture committee stated,

“We cannot say the regime and ISIS are working together, but they share the same interest in not seeing the success of this area”.

Ironically, we have proof that SDF has not only worked with Daesh and other terrorist groups during the war, but has used Daesh war tactics such as kidnapping and forced conscription.

Some have alleged that Iran was responsible for the fires in Iraq, implying that they were trying to force the Iraqi government to buy Iranian wheat. Syrian Opposition groups have blamed the Kurdish led, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces or SDF. And the blame game continues.

Amidst all the allegations, (some more ridiculous than others) the simple fact that certain parties aside from Daesh, have much to gain from these terrible acts remains. They can only hide behind Daesh for so long before the responsible parties are fully exposed.

Earlier this month, Syria’s Ikhbariya state TV journalist and correspondent Muhammad as-Saghir was detained by the SDF after filming wheat fields on fire and obtaining evidence that the SDF was not in a hurry to put them out. He also stated that the SDF was seeking to destroy Syrian wheat stocks as a means of furthering the US economic war against Damascus.

Given this information, it appears that crop fires are part of Washington’s next phase of economic warfare/terrorism (in addition to the existing harsh sanctions), being imposed on war-ravaged Syrians who have courageously fought against western-supported global terrorism, within their borders for over eight years.

June 21, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , | Leave a comment

Arab Protesters Clash With SDF In Raqqa Province

Syrian War Report | South Front | January 24, 2019

On January 23, hundreds of civilians took to the streets in the town of al-Mansoura in the province of Raqqa to protest against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after the group’s security forces had murdered a civilian.

According to local sources, Ahmad al-Zaban, a member of the prominent al-Bukhamis tribe, was killed because he had refused to join the SDF. In 2018, the Kurdish-dominated group started to employ forced conscription as a measure to form some Arab units within its ranks. This effort is a part of attempts to justify the political and military dominance of US-backed Kurdish armed groups in northeastern Syria.

During the protests in al-Mansoura, the locals and members of the al-Bukhamis tribe clashed with the SDF’s security forces and burned down their center. This forced the SDF to temporarily withdraw from the town. The locals also demanded that the SDF hand over those of their members who had been involved in the crime. The situation is developing, but it is not likely that the group will find a comprehensive peaceful solution with the protesters. In most of the cases, the SDF’s security forces just crack down on protests and accuse the opposition of links with terrorists.

Earlier this week, several tribes living on the eastern bank of the Euphrates held rallies asking Russia and the Damascus government to restore river bridges, which had been destroyed by the US-led coalition. The destruction of bridges is one of the tools used to prevent movement of people and goods between SDF-held and government-controlled areas.

The isolation of the SDF-held area from the rest of Syria as well as an ongoing large-scale propaganda campaign claiming that the bloody Assad regime is preventing people from returning to their homes are tools, which are being used to undermine Syria’s territorial integrity.

Meanwhile, the SDF has achieved notable progress fighting ISIS in the terrorist-held pocket near the Iraqi border. The SDF has captured the villages of al-Baghuz al-Fawqani and Shajlah and advanced on ISIS positions in the village of Murashida. When this village falls into the hands of the SDF, the ISIS-held pocket will be formally eliminated.

According to pro-Kurdish sources, more than 5,100 people have fled the ISIS-held area. At least 500 ISIS members were among them. They surrendered themselves to the SDF.

In Moscow, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin held a meeting discussing a wide range of topics, including the situation in Syria. In a press briefing following the meeting, Putin announced that Moscow and Ankara had agreed to work on additional measures to implement the Idlib deconfliction agreement.

“We see that our Turkish partners are making great efforts to eliminate the terrorist threat there and it is necessary to work together to remove tension in that region”, Putin said. He added that Russia is also working to support negotiations between the SDF and Damascus.

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | Leave a comment

Kurdish Fighters Selling US-Supplied Weapons on Black Market – Reports

Sputnik – 15.07.2018

Just as Washington has ramped up its support for Kurdish units in Syria, the fighters are selling their US-made weapons on the black market to make up for their expenses, the Arabic-language Daily Sabah reported, citing local sources in Northern Syria.

In keeping with an agreement between the US and Turkey, the Kurdish forces are to withdraw from Manbij and other areas west of the Euphrates River and surrender their weapons to the UN before the end of this year.

According to the sources, the Kurdish fighters fear that once they have handed over their weapons, Turkey might launch a new military operation against them in Northern Syria.

“Hence, they are selling the weapons to other militant groups that operate in the same region,” they added.

The US has delivered light and heavy weapons on a large number of trucks to the Kurdish forces in northern Syria under the pretext of fighting Daesh, Fars News reported.

Earlier this month, the US dispatched a new 200-truck military convoy to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Hasaka province in Northern Syria.

The Arabic-language al-Watan daily quoted local sources as saying that the US-led coalition had sent several personnel carriers and armored vehicles from Iraq to the Kurdish units stationed in Northeastern Hasaka.

The US looks upon the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as an ally in Syria and a constituent part of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has allegedly been trained, equipped and monitored by the Americans.

In December 2017, President Donald Trump approved providing $393 million worth of weapons to what Washington calls partners in Syria, including the YPG. Shortly thereafter, the US announced its intention to set up an all-Kurdish battalion comprising about 30,000 people, which was supposed to be deployed along the Turkish border.

Washington’s move was condemned by Turkey which launched a military operation in January aimed at ousting SDF forces from areas in northern Syria near the Turkish border.

July 15, 2018 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Forced Recruitment by US-Backed SDF Reported Again in Deir Ezzur

Fars News Agency | June 30, 2018

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have detained and forcefully recruited a large number of civilians in Deir Ezzur.

Local sources in Eastern Deir Ezzur reported on Saturday that the SDF has detained tens of civilians during heavy attacks on the villages of al-Tiyanah, al-Shanan and al-Jarzi.

The Kurdish forces also arrested a number of civilians in the villages of Mahimideh and Haqayej al-Bomasa’h.

Meantime, reports said that they have attacked and beaten a number of civilians in the town of al-Kashisheh in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

Tensions have heightened between the civilians and the SDF in Deir Ezzur, Hasaka and other regions occupied by the US-backed Kurdish forces.

In a relevant development on Thursday, local sources in Eastern Deir Ezzur reported that tensions and uprising of civilians against the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have intensified, adding that assassination attempts by unknown assailants have also increased against the SDF in the region.

The sources said that residents of the town of al-Shahil have held protest rallies against the SDF and blocked the roads in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

They added that the SDF then detained nearly 70 local residents of the region, noting that several other people were also arrested in the town of Zabiyan and the village of al-Hawayej in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

Meantime, a number of SDF forces have been killed and wounded during repeated explosions and assassination attempts by unknown assailants in Eastern Deir Ezzur.

June 30, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a 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