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Turkey’s safe-zone and refugee peace-corridor is a cover for encroachment

By Sarah Abed | October 7, 2019

On Saturday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that preparations have been made for a unilateral cross border air and land military operation in the next day or two, in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River. Erdogan expressed his frustration with Washington’s lack of adherence to a September 30th deadline to establish a thirty-kilometer-deep safe zone on Syria’s northern border.

In response to Erdogan’s threat, the US-backed Kurdish militia group known as The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stated that they are ready to respond to an unprovoked Turkish attack with an all-out war if necessary.

Sandwiched between the Turkish-backed Free Syrian army and their affiliates and the US-backed Kurdish militias are Syrian civilians who are at risk of losing their homes, land, and lives. They are opposed to both entities and want the war to end.

Erdogan has made this same threat to target Kurdish militias on Syria’s northern border numerous times over the past year. Each time Washington strongly condemns any sort of unilateral military operation that could put US troops and their Kurdish militia allies in harm’s way. Then at the eleventh-hour placates Turkey by agreeing to help protect their national security by establishing a safe zone on the Syrian border or creating a “peace corridor” for Syrian refugees to return from Turkey to Syria. Wash, rinse and repeat every few weeks.

In August, an agreement between the United States and Turkey was made to establish the safe zone and peace corridor on Syria’s northern border. Some People’s Protection Units Kurdish YPG fighters removed their posts and left the safe zone area. Three Turkish/US joint patrol operations have taken place since August. But Turkey still feels that not enough has been done and there are disagreements between the two regarding, depth, who should oversee the safe zone, and who needs to be removed from it. Turkey isn’t satisfied with a 10-15 km safe zone; they want 30 km and to be in total control of it.

It’s worth noting that the Syrian government has been vocal in their opposition to the creation of a Turkish safe zone or peace corridors on its land as well as joint patrol operations. Damascus knows that Turkey’s true intentions are expansion and changing the demographics and forcing the return of millions of Syrian refugees to areas in northern Syria where they do not originate from.

On the surface, establishing a safe zone for refugees might not seem like much of an issue. Especially if one thinks of Syria in the same terms as the United States and considers Aleppo, Damascus, Homs, Al Hassaka etc. as just states within a united country. But it is an issue, and there are major differences in tribes, religion, ideologies, political affiliations and loyalties that are not being taken into consideration.

Now, this isn’t to say that Syrians are incapable of peacefully coexisting, they can and have, but forcing entire populations to shift creating huge demographical changes on Syrian soil is problematic and if Turkey is truly worried about their national security they can establish a safe zone on Turkish land to protect themselves but they do not have a right to encroach on Syrian land.

In addition to the safe zone and peace corridor, Turkey has consistently demanded that the United States end their alliance with the Kurdish militias in Syria, the YPG and SDF who they consider to be an extension of the Kurdish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) whom they have been at war with for over three decades.

Rather than cut ties to make their NATO ally happy, the United States has continued to support Kurdish militias since 2015, even assisting in a name change from YPG to SDF to disassociate them from the Turkish PKK.

Earlier this week another large convoy of US military trucks destined for the SDF made its way into northeastern Syria from Iraq.

If Turkey does carry out their alleged cross border military operation it will be the third of its kind in as many years. Just a few days ago, fragmented Turkish-backed militia groups including the Free Syrian Army merged into one with roughly 60,000 fighters, in preparation for this military operation.

The US is caught between supporting their Kurdish militia allies and supporting Turkey, their NATO ally. If US President Donald Trump truly wants to withdraw US troops from Syria like he has publicly stated numerous times, then he should use this opportunity as a perfect excuse. Pulling US troops would of course anger the Kurdish militias who the United States has supported for the past four years with weapons, funds, military equipment, intelligence etc. but it would cause the SDF to try to work things out with the Syrian government and army and unite with them.

Turkey has drawn out a detailed plan for resettling two million Syrian refugees in the safe zone and many are concerned that once these Turkish loyalists have resettled on Turkey’s border, Ankara will claim ownership on Syria’s northern region. Turkey’s plan would cost roughly $27 billion and Turkey is not planning on footing the entire bill and has asked for other nations to assist funds to carry out its plan.

Turkey’s plan includes establishing 140 villages, 10 towns, a Turkish university with three faculties including an Islamic Sciences faculty in Azaz, an Education Faculty in Afrin and an Economics and Administrative Sciences faculty in Al Bab. Each village would have 1,000 homes which would house 5,000 people. Each town would have 6,000 homes and house 30,000 people. The project would have a total of 200,000 homes to house an estimated 1 million people.

Turkey is attempting to repeat across northern Syria what they accomplished in Afrin during the Olive Branch operation. They drove out the Kurdish population and replaced them with Turkish aligned Syrian refugees, changing the demographics.

October 7, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

SDF Forces Arrest 200 Men in Syria for Resisting Forced Recruitment – Report

Sputnik – 26.05.2019

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces arrested approximately 200 male civilians, including children, during raids in Hasaka province of Syria between Friday and Sunday, according to Fars News report. According to the report, the detained civilians were forced to join the ranks of People’s Protection Units (YPG), the predominantly-Kurdish militia that comprises the core of multinational SDF.

The raids are said to be in line with the SDF policy of forced mobilization, despite protests among the local population.

The SDF also conducted raids in Raqqa province, arresting dozens of civilians.

On Thursday, SDF forces opened fire on residents of al-Hawl Refugee Camp located in southeastern Hasaka, some 15 km from the Iraqi border, according to Fars. The militants opened fire on a group of women and children who tried to escape the refugee camp due to its unbearable humanitarian conditions.

An undisclosed number of civilians died during the attack; several residents of the camp who attempted to flee were incarcerated, Fars reported citing activists in Hasaka.

The activists told reporters that the SDF imposed tight security measures around the camp, effectively taking it under siege. According to the activists, residents of the camp are in dire need of water, food and medical treatment, which can be obtained only outside the camp.

SDF treatment of civilians has sparked protests among the province’s population. On Wednesday, protesters burned down several SDF security centres across the city of Hasaka, al-Watan newspaper reported. According to the newspaper, the protests began after the SDF killed a young man who resisted forced recruitment.

The SDF reportedly dispatched reinforcements to the region, amid the rising unrest in Hasaka.

The Kurdish forces control a large part of Syria northeast of the Euphrates plus the territory around the city of Manbij. Damascus considers the US-backed SDF illegal.

Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with forces backing the country’s leader, President Bashar al-Assad, fighting numerous opposition groups backed by Western states, as well as militants and terrorist organisations including Daesh — a terrorist quasi-state, outlawed in a number of countries.

May 26, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon mulls allowing Kurdish militias to keep weapons after US withdrawal from Syria, breaking promise made to Turkey

RT | December 29, 2018

The Pentagon is considering allowing Kurdish fighters to keep their US-supplied weapons after American forces withdraw from northern Syria, breaking a promise it had made to Turkey, a media report reveals.

US commanders preparing for the troop pullout from Syria have recommended that Kurdish militias be allowed to keep weapons and equipment provided by the US military, according to American officials who spoke with Reuters. The Pentagon is mulling the possibility as it draws up its plan for exiting Syria. A final decision on the matter will have to be approved by President Donald Trump, who ordered the withdrawal of all US forces from Syria earlier this month.

After the emergence of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the US had repeatedly supplied the Kurds with small arms, equipment, and munitions, as well as vehicles and medical aid, at times airdropping dozens of tons of supplies ahead of major battles. However, the supplies were said to exclude heavy weapons, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles due to concerns of Turkey.

It wasn’t until before the 2017 Battle of Raqqa that Washington officially said it was sending heavy arms – including TOWs – to Kurdish forces. But Ankara said that the resigning US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has promised that Kurds are to give all those arms back.

However, one official who spoke with Reuters said that locating all the weapons and securing their return would be close to impossible. Another unnamed official argued that it would be irresponsible to demand the weapons back, since the Kurdish YPG are still clearing out the remnants of Islamic State from northeastern Syria.

The situation is further complicated by Turkish threats to launch an offensive against the YPG, which Ankara claims is a terrorist group. Turkish military forces were spotted crossing into Syria on Friday.

On the same day, the Syrian Army reportedly entered the Kurdish stronghold of Manbij, after the YPG called on Damascus to help defend the city from a Turkish attack.

December 29, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

US erects ‘observation posts’ on Syria-Turkey border despite Ankara’s dissent

Press TV – December 12, 2018

The US military says it has established “observation posts” in northern Syria with the purported aim of preventing clashes between Turkish forces and US-backed Kurdish militants, despite Ankara’s strong opposition to the plan.

“At the direction of Secretary (James) Mattis, the US established observation posts in the northeast Syria border region to address the security concerns of our NATO ally Turkey,” Department of Defense spokesman Rob Manning said in a press release on Tuesday.

This is while Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar had, during a Friday meeting with US Special Envoy to Syria James Jeffrey in Ankara, called on Washington to lift the so-called observation posts in northern Syria, along parts of Turkey’ border.

Akar also said earlier that Turkey had expressed its concerns about US plans to set up several observation posts in Syria, a move, which according to him, could lead to a perception that Washington is “somehow protecting terrorist YPG [Kurdish People’s Protection Units] members.”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu this month lambasted as a “big mistake” the US support for the YPG militants in Syria, a thorny issue in ties between the two allies.

Cavusoglu made the remark while meeting with Turkish citizens at the Turkish consulate in New York.

The YPG forms the backbone of the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an anti-Damascus alliance of predominantly Kurdish militants supported by the US.

Ankara views the YPG as a terrorist organization and the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for an autonomous region inside Turkey since 1984.

The Pentagon’s Tuesday release further said that the US military would coordinate with Turkey its security efforts in the border region.

“We take Turkish security concerns seriously and we are committed to coordinating our efforts with Turkey to bring stability to northeastern Syria,” Manning said in the press release.

Washington infuriated Ankara by announcing a plan for the formation of a Kurdish militant force in Syria near the Turkish border.

The plan prompted Turkey to launch a cross-border military operation on January 20 inside the Arab country, code-named Operation Olive Branch, with the declared aim of eliminating the YPG militants from northern Syria, particularly the Afrin region.

Turkish troops captured Afrin in March, and threatened to take the battle to nearby Manbij. Ankara and Washington agreed a roadmap on Manbij, which would see the city cleansed of US-backed Kurdish militants.

Turkey’s Defense Minister Hulusi Akar has expressed indignation at photos showing US troops dining with Kurdish militants near the Turkish border in Syria.

Mattis said last month that Washington wanted the so-called observation posts to help minimize tensions between the Turks and US-backed SDF forces in the purported fight against the Daesh terrorist group.

The Syrian government has given a degree of authority to Kurdish regions to run their own affairs. The US, however, has used the power vacuum to establish a foothold in those regions with the help of militants.

Ankara, one of Washington’s key allies in the region, has repeatedly questioned the US deployment of heavy weapons in Syria despite the defeat of Daesh in much of the Arab country.

Syria has strongly denounced the presence of both Turkish and US troops around Manbij.

December 12, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Turkey’s Hour of Reckoning in Syria

By Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR | Strategic Culture Foundation | 29.11.2018

During a Pentagon briefing last weekend, Secretary of Defence James Mattis dropped a bombshell by innocuously slipping in that the US military intends to set up a string of observation posts on the Syrian-Turkish border. Mattis implied that Turkey was on board and that the idea was for the two militaries to jointly prevent any terrorist threats to the US’ NATO ally emanating out of Syrian territories.

Turkish officials immediately tore into Mattis’ project. Defence Minister Hulusi Akar disclosed that he had warned US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford only a week ago that the observation posts would have a “negative impact” and create the impression that “US soldiers are somehow protecting terrorist YPG (Syrian Kurdish) members and shielding them.”

The move would make an already complex situation “much more complex,” Akar added. He said, “Nobody should doubt that the Turkish armed forces and the Republic of Turkey will take the necessary steps against all kinds of risks and threats from across its borders.”

On Tuesday, President Recep Erdogan lashed out against the US troop presence in eastern Syria, charging that plans to establish observation posts along the Turkish border are meant to aid terrorist elements. “Those who say they are countering (ISIS) in Syria are in fact allowing a small group of terrorists to exist in the country to justify their presence in the war-torn country,” he said.

Erdogan alleged that the US is actually showing a preference to “live and breathe with the terrorists.” “The only target of this terror organization (YPG)… is our country,” he said. “It’s not possible for us to remain idle against this threat.”

Clearly, what is unfolding is a US game plan to block the Turkish military’s future operations in northern Syria against the Kurdish militia. Pentagon regards the YPG to be its most effective Syrian partner. Simply put, what we see here is the Syrian equivalent of what Washington did in 1991 in Iraq by imposing a “no-fly zone” over the Kurdistan region in the north.

The US is playing the long game. It is exactly three years since President Obama deployed 50 commandos to advise the Syrian Kurdish militia in their fight against the ISIS. Obama insisted it was “just an extension” of “special ops” that the US was running already. But the the numbers steadily kept increasing – from 50 to 250, from 250 to 500, and from 500 to 2000. The true figure today is around 5000 – and growing.

Seth Harp at the New Yorker magazine noted after a recent visit to the US bases in Syria, “the mission has morphed into something more like a conventional ground war. The United States has built a dozen or more bases from Manbij to Al-Hasakah, including four airfields, and American-backed forces now control all of Syria east of the Euphrates, an area about the size of Croatia.”

According to reports, there are presently 17 military bases in northeastern Syria. Yet, the US Congress has not authorized military action in Syria, nor has UN mandated the use of force. The Pentagon’s so-called Operation Inherent Resolve comes under the authority of the secretive Joint Special Operations Command, which means that “basic facts are kept classified, including the cost of the mission, the units involved, where they are located, and the number of wounded, which is believed to be substantial,” as Harp pointed out.

The intriguing part is about the US intentions. The stated purpose of the Operation Inherent Resolve is to defeat the ISIS, but lately it has shifted to countering Iranian presence in Syria. According to the US special representative for Syria engagement James F. Jeffrey, Trump has agreed to keep U.S. troops in Syria indefinitely. “We are not in a hurry,” he said.

Turkey’s worst fear may be coming true – a Syrian Kurdistan taking shape right along its border. Indeed, this becomes a template of the overall US strategy to encircle Turkey and Iran and to control Baghdad and Damascus – and eventually to make Russian presence in Syria untenable.

The US aims to put a knife into the heart of the Turkey-Russia-Iran axis in Syria by accentuating the contradictions in the region. The gloves have come off vis-à-vis Iran, Pentagon is now “defanging” Turkey and it remains to be seen how long the gloves will remain in place in the dealings with Russia.

In a candid interview with the Russia media on November 21, Special Representative for Syria Engagement Jeffrey sounded testy. He repeated that the deployment of S-300 missiles to Syria is a “dangerous escalation” – “we would urge the Russians to be very careful with this” – and assertively spoke of the new sanctions against Iran and Russia for oil shipments to Syria, while also rejecting offhand any talk of trade-offs with Russia over Iranian presence in Syria and debunking the Astana process. Jeffrey even reserved the US military’s right “to exercise our right of self-defense” if Russian forces on the ground came in the way. (Jeffrey disclosed that there have been military engagements with the Russians so far in “about a dozen times in one or another place in Syria.”)

Pentagon will press ahead with the establishment of observation posts on the Syrian-Turkish border despite Ankara’s objections. Turkey’s hour of reckoning is approaching. A few days ago, Turkish media reported that Saudi and UAE troops had deployed to northern Syria. In early November, the UAE reopened its embassy in Damascus.

The US and Israel are pressing Saudi Arabia and the UAE to fund the Syrian Kurdish militia and help create proximity between the Kurdish and Arab tribes inhabiting northeastern Syria with a view to create a unified Kurdish-Arab militia that becomes a Syrian bulwark against the two non-Arab regional powers Turkey and Iran.

To quote from a prominent Saudi commentator in the establishment daily Asharq Al-Awsat, “The Americans are now establishing Syrian Kurdish militias as a striking force against several parties and this revives the hopes of the Syrian opposition that it has an opportunity to resume its fighting activities after it has lost most of what it gained of villages and territories during the civil war.”

Both Saudis and Emiratis are once again at the US’s bidding in Syria. These Gulf States no longer hide their association with Israel. They are reciprocating the US-Israeli help to shove the Khashoggi affair under the rug.

November 29, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment

NATO Wants to Use Turkish Territory to Encircle Iran – Turkish Analysts

Sputnik – 15.07.2018

It is the Kurdish YPG forces and their US sponsors, not the Syrian army, that pose the main threat to Turkey’s southern borders, Turkish political analysts told Sputnik when commenting on the parts of a NATO declaration directly pertaining to their country.

In a statement released on Wednesday following its summit in Brussels, NATO vows to protect Turkey’s southern border.

The statement also says that NATO “continues to monitor and assess the ballistic missile threat from Syria,” and that “tailored assurance measures for Turkey to respond to the growing security challenges from the south contribute to the security of the Alliance as a whole, and will be fully implemented.”

“We have increased the strength of the NATO Response Force, and the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) is ready to deploy on short notice,” the statement adds.

In an interview with Sputnik, Hasan Unal, a foreign relations expert at Atylym University in Ankara, criticized the vague notion of “threat” mentioned in the declaration, adding that the main threat to Turkey comes from Kurdish YPG forces and their “sponsors in the US.”

“There is no threat to southern Turkey coming from the Syrian army. The missiles launched at our territory from Syria came from territories controlled either by Daesh or militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party even before the start of the Turkish military operation in Afrin. This means that the biggest threat to Turkey in the south comes from the Kurdish units and their US supporters. Turkey should have rejected such a vague description of this threat contained in the NATO summit’s declaration,” he said.

He added that by approving the declaration’s provisions, Turkey finds itself in the position of a country which supports NATO’s plans of encircling and pressuring Iran.

Cahit Armagan Dilek, a political scientist and the head of the university “Turkey in the 21st Century,” pointed to the declaration’s openly anti-Turkish slant, aimed at “encircling Iran and bringing pressure to bear on it by using Turkish territories and the introduction of an additional military contingent into Turkey.”

“In future, we may see NATO forces deploying along our southern border with Syria. It looks like NATO and Turkey look differently at what a ’terrorist threat’ is all about. The declaration says that at least three missiles fired at Turkey from Syria had actually been launched by the Syrian army and Iran. In the final account, the ‘terrorist threat,’ as it is termed in the NATO declaration, may transform into an ‘Iranian threat,’” the expert noted.

Dr. Dilek said that the Rapid Response task force that NATO plans to deploy, ostensibly to ensure Turkey’s security in the south, may in fact target Iran.

He added that to consolidate its positions in the region, NATO could deploy its forces east of the Euphrates and use them as a buffer between Turkey and YPG units.

READ MORE: Turkey’s Presidential Candidate Says NATO Fails to Ensure Nation’s Security

“Some of the NATO forces may be stationed to the west of the Euphrates, inside Turkey. With the Syrian army poised to advance on Idlib in August, the local jihadists may move towards Turkey and Afrin, thus destabilizing the situation in the region. In this case, NATO is likely to offer us help. However, we should also bear in mind the fact that the NATO forces deployed inside Turkey may be used against Iran. Turkey should take its time before it agrees to let foreign forces in, because we have absolutely no idea exactly when these forces will move out,” he explained.

He mentioned NATO’s naval forces deployed in the Aegean Sea as part of an EU-Turkish agreement on refugees in order to stem the tide of Syrian refugees fleeing to Europe.

“If, in addition to this, we have NATO land forces coming in, we may eventually have problems sending them back. We have a similar situation with the Incirlik base. But this time there may be more foreign troops stationed on our territory. Before the start of Operation Euphrates Shield, the Americans kept saying they needed 30,000 soldiers to secure the border between the [Syrian cities of] Jarabulus and Azaz,” Dr. Dilek noted.

July 15, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , | 1 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

Syria Is Now Like the Balkans in 1914

By Jeremy Salt | American Herald Tribune | June 30, 2018

The war in Syria has returned to where it was started in 2011, in Dara’a, close to the Jordanian border and therefore easily accessible to takfiris and weapons shipped in to be used behind the façade of ‘peaceful protests.’ The template had been used in Latin America and the Middle East on many occasions and here it was being used again, with the enthusiastic support of the corporate media.

Having failed in its attempt to overthrow the Syrian government the US is now abandoning those groups described in the corporate media as its ‘allies.’ One such group is the takfiri collective fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, which has been told to expect no help from the US in its collapsing attempt to hold ground in southwestern Syria. Another is the Kurdish SDF-YPG collective in the north, which the US betrayed when signing an agreement with Turkey over Manbij. The Kurds, as an administrative and military force, have been forced out. The town is now being patrolled by Turkish and US military units.

The Kurds can’t say they were not told to distrust the US. They have played their cards hopelessly just about everywhere. When Turkey invaded north-western Syria early this year the Kurds rejected an offer of military assistance from the Syrian government, apparently thinking they could hold their ground against the Turkish army, only to be routed by it and to be driven out of Afrin city.

The US had warned Turkey that Manbij was a red line. However, when the Turks insisted, the US gave in. The YPG is now reconciling with the Syrian government, just as some at least of the betrayed takfiris in the southwest, along the border with Jordan and the armistice line with the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, have been accepting an amnesty offer. Israel is still doing its best to throw the Syrian military off balance, by bombing near Damascus airport and striking at Syria’s Iraqi allies along the eastern border, but to no avail. The army is making a clean sweep and all the southwest will soon be back in the hands of the Syrian government.

Syria’s next target is likely to be the base the US has set up at Al Tanf on the Syrian-Iraqi border. At Al Tanf the US has been retraining and rebranding takfiris into its Maghawhir al Thawra (Commandos of the Revolution) proxy force. Backed by US air power, this force has been attacking Syrian forces outside the ‘deconfliction zone’ the US has unilaterally set up within a 50 km radius of Al Tanf.

The US is still arguing that its forces are needed in Syria to fight the Islamic State. In fact, if the Islamic State continues to exist, it is because of tacit support from the US. The heavy work in destroying the Islamic State was done by the Syrian military and the Syrian and Russian air forces, not the US and not the Kurds, as the corporate media would have its gullible consumers believe. The latest example of a helping hand is the helicoptering of two IS leaders from Twaimin on the Syrian-Iraqi border to the US base at Al Shaddadi, south of al Hasaka.

From Tanf the US continues to attack the Syrian and Iraqi militaries, with air support from Israel. The aim seems to be to control the border and prevent the war in Syria from ending. Donald Trump has blown hot and cold over Syria and even Americans should be asking what their forces are doing there. The US has reached none of its set goals. The Syrian government is still in power and the proxy forces armed and paid by outside governments are being routed. The Kurdish card was played, with the apparent intention of linking up the occupied northeast, predominantly Kurdish, with the Kurdish governorate in northern Iraq, in 2011 only a few steps short of statehood. That is now not going to happen, following the collapse of the independence movement in northern Iraq and the loss of all territory taken by the peshmerga since 2014. The US betrayal of the Kurds in favour of an agreement with Turkey puts the final nail in the coffin.

The US is now staying in Syria to prevent the war from ending. Its withdrawal would signify the complete and humiliating failure of the policy of intervention. The US would be signalling that Syria, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have won and the tripartite axis of the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel have failed. The US is now isolated and vulnerable in Syria. It is opposed on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border by military and tribal forces, whose resistance to foreign occupation is being coordinated/monitored by a joint command centre set up in Baghdad by Iraq, Syria and Russia.

If Trump does one of his familiar back flips and announces the withdrawal of US forces from Syria it will be Turkey’s turn to be left isolated and vulnerable not just in north-western Syria or Manbij where the government has repeatedly refused to withdraw its troops, but from Bashiqa, near Mosul, despite the repeated demands of the Iraqi government. Turkish occupation of north-western Syria extends to the town Al Bab, northeast of Aleppo, where an industrial zone is being created. Throughout the occupied region the Turkish flag is being flown, a police force trained and proxy town councils set up. Turkish forces are now present in Manbij, further to the west, and Idlib, where under the ‘deconfliction’ arrangements set up under the Astana negotiations Turkey has set up at least 12 ‘observation’ posts.

Bashar al Assad has said Syria intends to liberate the entire country, as is his constitutional duty, and that all occupying forces that do not voluntarily withdraw will be driven out by force. The Turkish government has said it will not return occupied territory to the Syrian government: to whom it would return this territory is not clear. Following his recent election victory Tayyip Erdogan said he would continue to take measures to ‘liberate’ Syria. As these completely polarized positions indicate, open armed conflict between Syria and Turkey would seem inevitable sooner or later. The main Turkish opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), strongly opposed to intervention in Syria, had said it intended to repair the relationship with the government in Damascus, a process that would inevitably have entailed the withdrawal of Turkish forces but that exit route has now been closed off.

Syria is now a cross between the Balkans in 1914 and Europe 1930-39. The combination of irresponsible outside powers and the violent groups they are backing inside Syria but cannot necessarily control have created a tinderbox. One more spark and the entire region could be blown sky high.

Jeremy Salt has taught at the University of Melbourne, Bosporus University (Istanbul) and Bilkent University (Ankara), specialising in the modern history of the Middle East. His most recent book is “The Unmaking of the Middle East. A History of Western Disorder in Arab Lands” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.)

June 30, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

America Faces a Vietcong Style Genuine Arab Rebellion in Syria

By Adam Garrie | Eurasia Future | 2018-04-02

While the Syrian Arab Army has liberated all of Eastern Ghouta from pro-western Takfiri terrorists and Turkey continues to be unable to get the US to agree on a disarmament agreement regarding YPG/PKK terrorists in Manbij, in Raqqa, a genuine Arab rebellion is taking place against the United States and their YPG proxies.

While the word “rebel” has been used throughout the duration of the Syrian conflict to describe heavily armed and handsomely paid terrorists whose loyalty is to foreign powers and whose citizenship is often not Syrian, in Raqqa, one is witnessing an organic uprising of indigenous Arabs against the American military and the SDF flagged YPG terrorists who have worked with the US to occupy Arab majority lands in the Syrian Arab Republic.

Real moderate rebels finally emerge 

As geopolitical expert Andrew Korbyko recently wrote in Eurasia Future,

The American President made global headlines once again after he seemingly veered off script at a political rally in Ohio by declaring that the US will be ‘coming out’ of Syria ‘very, very soon’ in order to ’let the other people take care of it now’. Trump didn’t elaborate, but his surprise announcement came on the heels of Turkish President Erdogan threatening to expand his country’s anti-terrorist campaign into the part of northeastern Syria that the Russian Security Council previously said hosts as many as 20 American bases, which could potentially lead to a ‘war by miscalculation’ between the two nominal NATO ‘allies’ if the American forces remain there during this time and are caught in the Turkish-Kurdish crossfire.

Within a day after Trump’s statement, the Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff informed the world that Raqqa’s native majority-Arab population had begun to rise up against the US-backed Kurds that are in control of the city, thus heralding in the beginning of the “Rojava Civil War” that the author first predicted more than a year ago and which was undoubtedly further provoked by the anti-Arab ethnic cleansing campaign that the Kurds commenced over the summer. It can’t be known for certain, but Russia and Turkey likely have a favorable attitude towards the Arab revolt against the pro-American Kurds because it dovetails with their interest in seeing this disruptive power removed from the agriculturally and energy-rich corner of northeastern Syria.

The key elements of Korybko’s observations are as follows:

1. In spite of some disagreements regarding a post-war settlement, Russia, Syria, Iran and Turkey are all opposed to the illegal US presence in Syria, although none seek a direct confrontation with US forces.

2. It is not clear if the indigenous Arabs of Raqqa are loyal to Damascus, Ankara or some other power, but what is clear is that they are united in a common objective of exorcising the US and its proxies from their homeland.

An Arab Vietcong 

While the issue of the Arab rebels of Raqqa’s loyalty to one state or another is a key mystery, ultimately the most immediate threat to the always flimsy US narrative regarding the region, is that the US and their allies may face a Vietnam war style combat situation against the Arab rebels, assuming the US doesn’t “pull out” of Syria as Donald Trump recently indicated.

In the American war in Vietnam, the US found itself facing not only regular troops from Northern Vietnam but indigenous Vietcong rebels in the South whose fight was first and foremost against a foreign occupier. The Arab rebels in and around Raqqa likely feel the same way, as for example did the Algerian fighters who rebelled against French rule between 1954 and 1962. While the US did have  Southern Vietnamese allies on its side, such troops were in the minority and ultimately faced ostracism after the US loss. Just as some South Vietnamese and other minorities who sided with the US during war, typically out of opportunism, attempted to run away from Vietnam when the war was lost by the US, so too might many YPG militants attempt to flee along with their US masters when defeat is imminent as it could be in short order.

A French connection 

Prior to the US entering Vietnam, indigenous Vietnamese (referred to as Indochinese at the time) rebels fought a colonial French occupation between 1946 and 1954. After the French were vanquished in 1954, the US began gradually sending so-called “military advisers” to Vietnam before the situation spiraled into a full-scale US invasion after the Gulf of Tonkin false flag incident in 1964.

Today, there is discussion that US troops in north-eastern Syria will be replaced by French and/or Saudi troops. The irony here is that while the US went into Vietnam only to repeat the loss of their French predecessors, now it appears as though France may enter north eastern Syria only to inherent a rebellion against the US and its Kurdish proxies that neither foreign army is likely to win.

As French President Macron has publicly come out in support of Kurdish radicals in Syria, it is unlikely that a French strategy in Raqqa would look significantly different than the US strategy. Moreover, the presence of Saudi troops in the region would only have the effect of making apolitical rebels likely to side increasingly with either Turkey or Damascus, were a fellow Arab army to fight along side infamously anti-Arab Kurds against indigenous Sunni Arabs.

Syria remains an Arab Republic

With the defeat of Daesh in Syria, many Arabs have attempted to return to their homes in places like Raqqa, only to find that they are being abusively occupied by US backed Kurdish militants. This is a classic recipe for rebellion and while the world is focused on Eastern Ghouta and Manbij, the Arab rebellion against the USA and YPG is already underway, as has been confirmed by the Russian military.

Now a spokesman for the Arab rebels has issued the following statement,

“Following the intelligence activities, the militia of Raqqa waged a special operation targeting the US Staff located at the former base of the 93rd Brigade in the district of Ayn Issa, 43 miles north of Raqqa. Several mortar shells were fired on individual targets without any casualties on our side”.

While the authors of this statement claimed they were opposed to both the US and Turkish presence in Syria, seeing as they are operating in an area far from any Turkish troops, the likelihood is that this group of rebels is centred around a pro-Damascus and anti-US political/military agenda. Indeed, as the government in Damascus remains the only legitimate Arab representative of the Syrian people, the rebellion in Raqqa may prove to help reconcile formerly anti-government forces with the government, as indigenous Arabs displaced by American troops and their proxies look to restore Syrian Arab rule over the Syrian Arab Republic.

While Turkey has said countless times that it does not intend to stay in Syria beyond a reasonable timeline for orderly withdrawal, the US has stated that it plans to stay in Syria for an extended period of time. Recent statements from the so-called SDF saying that they are unaware of Donald Trump’s proposed “pull out”, indicate that the veracity of the US President’s statements are far from certain. Thus, whatever faction the Arabs of north eastern Syria are ultimately loyal to, the fact remains that the US and its allies will be the primary targets and in the context of Syria, this excludes Turkey.

Conclusion

Thus the likelihood is that the Arab rebellion against the US and its proxies will only grow, perhaps especially if the US troops in the region are replaced by generally less capable French or Saudi troops. In this sense, whoever seeks to occupy Arab land in north eastern Syria whether Kurdish terrorists, the US military, French military or Saudi military – they will ultimately be doomed to failure for the same reason the US failed in Vietnam and Iraq and likewise, for the same reasons that the French failed in Indochina and Algeria.

The difference between a fake rebellion against a legitimate government funded by outsiders, as was seen in Eastern Ghouta, Aleppo, Hama, Homs and Deir ez-Zor, versus a genuine indigenous rebellion against an occupying foreign army and a minority of non-local militants whose loyalty (in terms of cooperation) is to the invader, is clear enough. The fake foreign funded “rebellions” historically lose battles while organic rebellions against an imperial occupier tend to eventually win, often with very decisive results.

April 2, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Putin’s Grand Bargain to Israel: Can Israel Digest It?

By Alastair CROOKE | Strategic Culture Foundation | 17.02.2018

“Israel is climbing up a high horse,” Alex Fishman (the veteran Israeli Defence Correspondent) wrote in the Hebrew daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, last month, “and is approaching with giant steps a ‘war of choice’: Without mincing words, it’s an initiated war in Lebanon.” In Fishman’s article, he notes: “Classical deterrence is when you threaten an enemy not to harm you in your territory, but here, Israel demands that the enemy refrain from doing something in its own territory, otherwise Israel will harm it. From a historical perspective and from the perspective of international legitimacy, the chances of this threat being accepted as valid, leading to the cessation of enemy activities in its own territory, are slim.”

Ben Caspit also wrote about a fair prospect of a “war of choice,” whilst a Haaretz editorial – explains Professor Idan Landau in an Israeli news blog – noted: “The Israeli government therefore owes Israeli citizens a precise, pertinent and persuasive explanation as to why a missile factory in Lebanon has changed the strategic balance to the extent that it requires going to war. It must present assessments to the Israeli public as to the expected number of casualties, damage to civilian infrastructure and the economic cost of going to war, as compared with the danger that construction of the missile factory constitutes.”

We live dangerous times in the Middle East today – both in the immediate present, and in the mid-term, too.

Last week saw the first ‘game changer’ that almost plunged the region into war: the downing of one of Israel’s most sophisticated aircraft – an F16i. But as Amos Harel notes, on this occasion: “Russian President Vladimir Putin put an end to the confrontation between Israel and Iran in Syria – and both sides accepted his decision … On Saturday afternoon, after the second wave of bombardments … senior Israeli officials were still taking a militant line, and it seemed as if Jerusalem was considering further military action. Discussion of that ended not long after a phone call between Putin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu” (emphasis added).

And that last statement represented the second ‘game changer’: In ‘good old days’, as Martin Indyk called it, it would have been to the US that Israel reflexively would have turned, but not this time. Israel asked President Putin to mediate. It seems that Israel believes that Mr Putin is now the ‘indispensable power’. And in terms of airspace in the north, he is. As Ronen Bergman wrote in the New York Times: “Israel will no longer be able to act in Syria without limitations”; and secondly, “if anyone was not yet aware of it, Russia is the dominant power in the region”.

So, what is all this about? Well for a start, it is not about a drone which may (or may not) have trespassed into what Israel calls Israel, or what Syria sees as ‘occupied Golan’. Let us ignore all that: or, think of it as ‘the butterfly wing effect’ in chaos theory, whose tiny wing changes ‘the world’, if you prefer. Ultimately however, these various warnings of impending war, precipitated out from the Syrian State’s success in defeating the jihadi insurgency mounted against it. This outcome has changed the regional balance of power – and we are witnessing states reacting to that strategic defeat.

Israel, having backed the losing side, wants to limit its losses. It fears the changes taking place across the northern tier of the region: Prime Minister Netanyahu has several times sought guarantees from President Putin that Iran and Hizbullah should not be allowed to gain any strategic advantage from Syria’s victory that might be to Israel’s disadvantage. But Putin, it seems clear, gave no guarantees. He told Netanyahu that whilst he recognised, and acknowledged Israel’s security interests, Russia had its interests, too – and also underlined that Iran was a “strategic partner” of Russia.

In practice, there is no effective Iranian or Hizbullah presence in any proximate vicinity to Israel (and indeed both Iran and Hizbullah have substantially pared their forces in Syria as a whole). But, it seems that Netanyahu wanted more: And to put leverage on Russia to guarantee a future Syria, free from any ‘Shi’a presence, Israel has been bombing Syria on almost a weekly basis, and issuing a series of war-like threats against Lebanon (on the pretext that Iran was constructing ‘sophisticated missile’ factories there), saying, in effect to President Putin, that if you do not give ironclad guarantees vis-à-vis a Syria free of Iran and Hizbullah, we will disrupt both countries.

Well, what happened is that Israel lost an F16: unexpectedly shot down by the Syrian air defences. The message is this: ‘Stability in Syria and Lebanon is a Russian interest. Whilst, we recognise Israel’s security interests, don’t mess with ours. If you want a war with Iran that is your business, and Russia will not be involved; but do not forget that Iran is, and remains our strategic partner’.

This is Putin’s Grand Bargain: Russia will assume a certain defined responsibility for Israel’s security, but not if Israel undertakes wars of choice against Iran and Hizbullah, or if it deliberately disrupts stability in the North (including Iraq). And no more gratuitous bombing raids in the north, intended to disrupt stability. But if Israel wants a war with Iran, then Russia will stand aloof.

Israel has now had a taste of President Putin’s ‘stick’: Your air superiority in the North has just been punctured by the Syrian air defences. You, Israel, will lose it completely were our Russian S400s air defences to be enabled: ‘Think it over’.

In case of doubt, consider this statement in 2017, by the Chief of Staff of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Major-General Sergey Meshcheryakov. He said: “Today, a unified, integrated air defense system has been set up in Syria. We have ensured the information and technical interlinkage of the Russian and Syrian air reconnaissance systems. All information on the situation in the air comes from Syrian radar stations to the control points of the Russian force grouping”.

Two things flow from this: First, that Russia knew exactly what was going on when the Israeli F16 met with a barrage of Syrian air defence missiles. As Alex Fishman, doyen of Israeli defence correspondents, noted (in Hebrew) Yediot Ahoronot on 11 February: “One of the [Israeli] planes was hit by the two barrages of 27 Syrian surface-to-air missiles… which is a huge achievement for the Syrian army, and embarrassing for the IAF, since the electronic warfare systems that envelope the plane were supposed to have provided protection from a barrage of missiles… The IAF is going to have to conduct an in-depth technical-intelligence inquiry to determine: are the Syrians in possession of systems that are capable of bypassing the Israeli warning and jamming systems? Have the Syrians developed a new technique that the IAF is unaware of? It was reported that the pilots did not radio in any alert that an enemy missile had locked onto their plane. In principle, they were supposed to report that. They might have been preoccupied. But there is also the more severe possibility that they were unaware of the missile that had locked onto them—which leads to the question of why they didn’t know, and only realized the severity of the damage after they had been hit and were forced to bail out.”

And the second: that subsequent Israeli claims that Syria was then punished by Israel through the destruction of 50% of her air defence system should be taken with a big pinch of salt. Recall what Meshcheryakov said: It was a fully integrated, unified Russian-Syrian system, which is to say it had a Russian flag flying over it. (And this initial Israeli claim has now been back-peddled by the IDF spokesman; see here).

Finally, Putin, in the wake of the F16 downing, told Israel to stop destabilising Syria. He said nothing about Syria’s drone patrolling the southern border (a regular Syrian practice for monitoring insurgent groups in the south).

The message is clear: Israel gets Russia’s limited security guarantees, but loses its freedom of action. Without air domination (which Russia already has seized), the assumed superiority over its neighbouring Arab states – which Israel long since has folded into its collective psyche – will see Israel’s wings clipped.

Can such a bargain be digested culturally in Israel? We must wait to see whether Israel’s leaders accept that they no longer enjoy air superiority over Lebanon or Syria; or whether, as the Israeli commentators warn in our introductory quotes, the Israeli political leadership will opt for a ‘war of choice’, in an attempt to pre-empt Israel’s final loss of its domination of the skies. There is, of course, a further option of running to Washington, in order to try to co-opt America into adopting the eviction of Iran from Syria – but our guess is that Putin has already quietly squared Trump with his plan beforehand. Who knows?

And would then a preventive war to try recuperate Israeli air superiority be feasible or realistic from the perspective of the Israeli Defence Forces? It’s a moot point. A third of Israelis are culturally, and ethnically, Russian, and many admire President Putin. Also, could Israel count, in such circumstances, on Russia not using its own highly sophisticated S400 air-defence missiles, stationed in Syria, in order to protect Russian servicemen stationed across Syria?

And the Israeli-Syrian-Lebanese tensions, in themselves, do not bring an end to the present clutch of risks associated with Syria. On the same weekend, Turkey lost a helicopter and its two crew, brought down by Kurdish forces in Afrin. Sentiment in Turkey against the YPG and PKK is heating up; nationalism and New Ottomanism is spiking; and America is being angrily portrayed as Turkey’s “strategic enemy”. President Erdogan asserts forcefully that Turkish forces will clear all the YPG/PKK forces from Afrin to the Euphrates, but an American general says that American troops will not budge from blocking Erdogan’s route, midway – at Manbij. Who will blink first? And, can this escalation continue without a major rupture to Turkish-US relations? (Erdogan has already noted that America’s defense budget for 2019 includes an allocation of $550 million for the YPG. What exactly does America mean by that provision?).

Also, can a US military leadership, concerned to play-out a re-make of the Vietnam war – but with America winning this time (to show that the Vietnam outcome was a wholly unmerited defeat for the US forces) – accept to pull back from its aggressively imposed occupation of Syria, east of the Euphrates, and thus lose further credibility? Particularly when restoring US military credibility and leverage is the very mantra of the White House generals (and Trump)? Or, will the pursuit of US military ‘credibility’ degenerate into a game of ‘chicken’, mounted by US forces versus the Syrian Armed Forces – or even with Russia itself, which views the US occupation in Syria as inherently disturbing to the regional stability which Russia is trying to establish.

The ‘big picture’ competition between states for the future of Syria (and the region) – is open and visible. But who lay behind these other provocations, which could equally have led to escalation, and quite easily slipped the region towards conflict? Who provided the man portable surface-to-air missile that brought down the Russian SU25 fighter – and which ended, with the pilot, surrounded by jihadists, courageously preferring to kill himself with his own grenade, rather than be taken alive? Who ‘facilitated’ the insurgent group which fired the manpad? Who armed the Afrin Kurds with sophisticated anti-tank weapons (that have destroyed some twenty Turkish tanks)? Who provided the millions of dollars to engineer the tunnels and bunkers built by the Afrin Kurds, and who paid for the kitting out of its armed force?

And who was behind the swarm of drones, with explosives attached, sent to attack the main Russian airbase at Khmeimim? The drones were made to look outwardly like some simple home-made affair, which an insurgent force might cobble together, but since Russian electronic measures managed to take control and land six of them, the Russians were able to see that, internally, they were quite different: They contained sophisticated electronic counter-measures and GPS guidance systems within. In short, the rustic external was camouflage to its true sophistication, which likely represented the handiwork of a state agency. Who? Why? Was someone trying to set Russia and Turkey at each other’s throats?

We do not know. But it is plain enough that Syria is the crucible to powerful destructive forces which might advertently, or inadvertently, ignite Syria – and – potentially, the Middle East. And as the Israeli defence correspondent, Amos Harel, wrote, we have already this last weekend, “come a hair’s breadth from a slide into war”.

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iran Calls on Turkey to End Afrin Offensive

Al-Manar | February 5, 2018

Iran’s FM Spokesman Ghasemi called on Turkey to end its major offensive in northwestern Syrian city of Afrin, saying the operation would bring back instability and terrorists to the Arab country.

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Ghasemi made the remarks in his weekly press conference on Monday, adding “Ankara needs to reconsider its policy on [Afrin].”

Ghasemi urged Turkish government to immediately end its offensive in Syria, adding “the continuation of Turkey’s military operation will facilitate the return of instability and terrorism to Syria.”

He further called on Turkey to follow up all Syrian-related developments within the framework of Astana peace process.

The Iranian diplomat had previously urged Ankara to protect the territorial integrity of Syria and to avoid the escalation of crisis in the Middle Eastern country.

On Jan. 20, Turkey launched ‘Operation Olive Branch’, its second major military intervention in Syria since 2011, in a bid to eliminate the US-backed YPG, which Ankara views as a terror organization as well as the Syrian branch of the outlawed Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK).

Both sides have suffered casualties during the operation that has come under strong criticism by Damascus.

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

SDF: American, British volunteers join fight against Turkey in Afrin

MEMO | January 24, 2018

American, British and German citizens are among other volunteers with the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that have joined the fight against Turkey in the Syrian province of Afrin, an official told Reuters earlier today.

Turkey’s offensive on the northern region, with the support of Free Syrian Army brigades, started on Saturday and has seen at least 260 Syrian Kurdish fighters and Daesh militants killed in its four-day-old attack.

SDF official Redur Xelil told reporters that foreign fighters among the SDF’s ranks had chosen to go to Afrin to support efforts against the Turkish assault.

“There was a desire on the part of the foreign fighters who fought in Raqqa and who are fighting in Deir Ez-Zor to go to Afrin,” Xelil said. “They will wage battles against the Turkish invasion.”

“There are Americans, Britons, Germans, different nationalities from Europe, Asia and America,” Xelil added.

Foreign fighters are not believed to make up a significant number of the SDF’s forces, with officials only stating they number in the “tens”.

The SDF is primarily made up of militants of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), an offshoot of the designated terrorist organisation, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The group has launched continual attacks against Turkey for the past three decades and their intention to establish a state based on federalism in northern Syria, has prompted Ankara’s intervention since 2016.

Following a US announcement last week that the Trump Administration would continue to aid the SDF and aim to establish a 30,000 strong force along the Syrian border with Turkey, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned the decision and announced the start of Operation Olive Branch against SDF held regions.

Foreign fighters from the US and Europe have been free to join the SDF and fight alongside YPG forces, as well as return home.

However, those who seek to join other sides in the Syrian conflict do not face the same treatment, with UK Defence Secretary last month calling for British citizens fighting with Daesh abroad to be hunted down and killed. The policy was later criticised by terrorist watchdogs and human rights group who have accused the minster of advocating “war crimes”.

Earlier this month, France also refused the repatriation request of Emilie König, a Frenchwoman suspected of recruiting fighters for Daesh, who now regrets her decision to leave her country. In an interview with Radio RMC, France’s Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet, also said that French nationals who travelled to Syria to join Daesh could be tried by the SDF, signalling a de facto recognition of the autonomous Kurdish region, despite the group’s terrorist affiliations.

The SDF has been accused of numerous human rights violations in Iraq and Syria, including revenge attacks against civilians in former Daesh territories. Amnesty International is one of several NGOs that have recorded the SDF committing war crimes including displacing residents, razing homes, torture and extrajudicial killings.

January 24, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 6 Comments