SYRIA | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED


SYRIA

Feb 10 08:47

NOW MATTIS ADMITS THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE ASSAD USED POISON GAS ON HIS PEOPLE: OPINION

Lost in the hyper-politicized hullabaloo surrounding the Nunes Memorandum and the Steele Dossier was the striking statement by Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the U.S. has “no evidence” that the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent Sarin against its own people.

This assertion flies in the face of the White House (NSC) Memorandum which was rapidly produced and declassified to justify an American Tomahawk missile strike against the Shayrat airbase in Syria.

Mattis offered no temporal qualifications, which means that both the 2017 event in Khan Sheikhoun and the 2013 tragedy in Ghouta are unsolved cases in the eyes of the Defense Department and Defense Intelligence Agency.

Mattis went on to acknowledge that “aid groups and others” had provided evidence and reports but stopped short of naming President Assad as the culprit.

Feb 09 10:38

Finally, Washington Is Now Law-Bound to Compensate Its Victims!

Since most of us are aware of the way Washington approaches its alleged fight against terrorism, murdering tens of thousands of civilians in the process, it seems that the relatives of all those who perished under American bombs in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria may finally get their day in court. To be specific, it has recently been reported that a US court found Damascus liable in the death of American journalist Marie Colvin, who was killed during the shelling of Baba Amr district of Homs back in 2012.

It was stated that Judge Amy Berman Jackson of the US District Court for the District of Columbia chose to double the typical compensation that the relatives of the deceased journalist would receive, bringing it up to 302.5 million dollars.

This decision was made in spite of the fact that in his interview for NBC News, Syria’s president Bashar Assad made it clear that:

Feb 09 10:13

Syria Sitrep - Trump Says U.S. Will Leave but Pentagon Keeps Adding Forces

The U.S. retreat from northeast Syria is still not happening. In yesterdays interview with CBS President Trump again said the troops would leave, but the the Pentagon is doing the opposite of retreating.

The Islamic State forces north of the Euphrates are left to holding some 4 square kilometer of ground near the border to Iraq. The few hundred ISIS fighters still alive could be killed in a day or two which would then be the right time for the U.S. to leave as President Trump announced two month ago.

Feb 08 09:39

US Military Finally Sets Target Date For "Full Withdrawal" From Syria

Here it is finally. The time has arrived for the fabled, confused and precarious US troop withdrawal from Syria despite the best efforts of neocons and interventionistas to permanently stall and alter course, per a new Wall Street Journal report that dropped late in the day Thursday: "the military plans to pull a significant portion of its forces out by mid-March, with a full withdrawal coming by the end of April."

But you might be forgiven for remaining skeptical with a "believe it when I see it" approach, as President Trump first announced a "rapid withdrawal" on Dec. 19 which quickly became "no timeline" in the weeks that followed — though it depended on who in the administration or Pentagon was asked — with many determined to quash Trump's prior campaign promises of "bring our boys home." But now the WSJ speaks with a new confidence that this time it's for real:

Webmaster's Commentary: 

There is obviously a major fight going on between Trump and the war-hawks over Syria!

Feb 08 09:37

Fascinating animation shows every single bomb the US-led coalition has dropped on ISIS

A fascinating new video has documented every bomb dropped on Islamic State by the US-led coalition forces.

The animation shows the location of every single air strike in Iraq and Syria between August 2014 and December 2018.

All 32,000 bombs dropped have been plotted and marked on a graphic, showing where the strikes targeted during the fiercest periods of aerial bombardment.

The graphic shows that the first 185 air strikes, up until September 22, 2014, were dropped in Iraq, but by October 2, 84 strikes were made on Syrian land.

After a year of aerial bombardment a total of 3,930 bombs were dropped in Iraq and 2,425 on Syria.

Feb 08 09:14

Trump’s ‘Eyeball-to-Eyeball’ Orders to the Generals on Syria

Few other foreign policy decisions of this administration have sparked more criticism than Donald Trump’s announcement that he will remove U.S. troops from Syria. Even as he declared last night during his State of the Union address that “as a candidate for president, I loudly pledged a new approach…. Great nations do not fight endless wars,” he drew a tepid response from Congress. The planned applause line fell discernibly flat.

Feb 08 08:47

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – FEB. 5-8, 2019: RUSSIAN-SUPPLIED S-300 SYSTEM BECOMING OPERATIONAL

On February 5, Israel’s ImageSat International company released satellite images showing positions of the Russia-supplied S-300 air defense system in Syria’s Masyaf. The released image shows 3 of the 4 launchers in an upright position and the fourth covered by a camouflage net. This was the first satellite image showing the launchers in an erected position since their arrival from Russia in October 2018. This may indicate that the system is about to become or has already become operational.

Earlier, Russian media reported that the S-300 system will become combat ready in March 2019 after Syrian S-300 crews would finish their training. However, it is possible that the training course was intensified because of a tense situation in the region.

Feb 07 12:11

US Troop Count in Syria Jumps by 50 Percent Since Trump’s “Withdrawal” Announcement

The huge amount of equipment being brought into Syria by the U.S. starts to look much more like a surge than a withdrawal when one considers that a thousand more troops have already been deployed to Syria following Trump’s troop withdrawal announcement.

Feb 07 12:11

Trump To Move US Troops from Syria to Iraq to “Watch” Iran, “Protect Israel”

In a pre-Super Bowl interview on Sunday, President Donald Trump discussed his plan for a troop withdrawal from Syria, which, as it turns out, doesn’t involve many troops vacating the Middle East. Instead, Trump said the troops would mostly be “going to our base in Iraq.”

CBS’s Margaret Brennan held a wide-ranging interview with Trump, in the course of which she asked him about the intelligence community’s “concern” that a “vacuum” left by the U.S. pullout could cause a “resurgence of ISIS.”

“We can come back very quickly, and I’m not leaving. We have a base in Iraq,” Trump said, referring to the Al Asad Air Base in the Anbar province. The 2,000 troops in Syria will “be going to our base in Iraq, and ultimately some will be coming home. But we’re going to be there and we’re going to be staying,” Trump added.

Feb 07 11:37

Israeli Satellite Shows Russian S-300 Missiles In Syria Ready To Take Down Enemy Attacks

Three Russian long-range S-300 rocket launchers are set up in Syria and ready to fire, says Israeli satellite imaging company ImageSat International (iSi).

“Due to the current regional tension and the detected erection of the launchers it is possible that the mentioned activity indicates an increase of the operational level and alertness. However it is currently unclear why only one launcher is covered by camouflage net. This situation is rare and raises question marks about the operational level of the whole battery and specifically of the covered and folded launcher”, the company assessed.

The company suggests that the launchers be installed in the northwest of the Syrian city of Masyaf.

Feb 07 11:11

THE US SYRIA WITHDRAWAL AND THE MYTH OF THE ISLAMIC STATE'S "RETURN"

At face value - the notion that the US occupation of Syria is key to preventing the return of the so-called "Islamic State" (ISIS) to Syrian territory is unconvincing.

Regions west of the Euphrates River where ISIS had previously thrived have since been permanently taken back by the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian and Iranian allies - quite obviously without any support from the United States - and in fact - despite Washington's best efforts to hamper Damascus' security operations.

Damascus and its Russian and Iranian allies have demonstrated that ISIS can be permanently defeated. With ISIS supply lines running out of NATO-territory in Turkey and from across the Jordanian and Iraqi border cut off - Syrian forces have managed to sustainably suppress the terrorist organization's efforts to reestablish itself west of the Euphrates.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

There is no real justification for the US military to be in Syria, no matter how much the talking heads at the DOD and Whitehouse embrace that view; it is simply another "jumping off point" for more US military mischief and destabilization, in the Middle East.

Feb 06 10:05

Syria Sitrep - Trump Says U.S. Will Leave But Pentagon Keeps Adding Forces

The U.S. retreat from northeast Syria is still not happening. In yesterdays interview with CBS President Trump again said the troops would leave, but the the Pentagon is doing the opposite of retreating.

The Islamic State forces north of the Euphrates are left to holding some 4 square kilometer of ground near the border to Iraq. The few hundred ISIS fighters still alive could be killed in a day or two which would then be the right time for the U.S. to leave as President Trump announced two month ago.

Feb 06 10:00

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham terrorists move chlorine barrels to northwestern Syrian town: Report

Members of the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri terrorist group, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, have reportedly moved barrels with banned chlorine to a town in Syria’s militant-held northwestern province of Idlib, using vehicles of the so-called White Helmets civil defense group.

Head of Damascus-based Syrian Human Rights Network, Ahmad Kazem, told Russia’s Sputnik news agency on Tuesday that the members of the Western-backed aid group, which has been repeatedly accused of cooperating with Takfiri terrorists and staging false flag gas attacks, have started to install cameras in a number of hospitals in a bid to implicate Syrian government forces with the use of chlorine.

Feb 06 08:26

Senate Warmongers Oppose Trump's Recall of Troops From Afghanistan & Syria

The warmongers in the US Senate will never have enough of Afghanistan and Syria and other wars in the Middle East. After President Donald Trump called for an end to "endless wars," the US Senate voted to keep troops in Syria and Afghanistan.

The US Senate voted 70-26 in favor of keeping US forces in both countries.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that he still believes ISIS and al Qaeda are still significant threats and that “a precipitous withdrawal” may only bolster their efforts.

Feb 05 14:49

Iran warns Israel of a "firm response" if it continues attacking targets in Syria - Fars news

The secretary of Iran's National Security Council warned Israel on Tuesday of a firm and "deterrent" response if it continued attacking targets in Syria.

"If these actions continue, we will activate some calculated measures as a deterrent and as a firm and appropriate response to teach a lesson to the criminal and lying rulers of Israel," Ali Shamkhani was quoted as saying by Fars news agency. (Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin Editing by Andrew Heavens)

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Unfortunately, it appears that what Syria's Secretary of Iranian National Security has done, has been to nearly guarantee another Israeli bombing raid against Syria.

Feb 05 13:02

Senate Breaks With Trump on Afghanistan, Syria Withdrawal

In a second vote on last week’s procedural vote, the Senate has once again endorsed the McConnell amendment, which expresses non-binding opposition to the US withdrawing from either Afghanistan or Syria, citing the idea that Iran or Russia might take advantage.

The vote was 70-26, with overwhelming Republican support. The only Republicans to vote no were Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Rand Paul (KY), John Kennedy (LA), and Mike Lee (UT). Democrats were more split on the matter.

Conspicuously, however, the Democratic Party Senators who opposed the amendment include everyone who has set themselves up to run for president in 2020. They may believe this further splits them ideologically from the Republican Senate leadership.

Feb 05 13:02

America’s Withdrawal From Syria Must Be Total

Despite President Donald Trump’s December withdrawal order, the United States government announced Friday that it’s considering a plan to keep a remote base in southeastern Syria. It seems strange, since exiting the Syrian conflict is Trump’s most sensible foreign policy decision yet. But clearly, top military aides and intelligence officials aren’t yet ready to give up their longstanding—and bloody—approach to the Middle East.

The Syrian civil war has cost over half a million lives and displaced over 10 million more. The U.S.-led intervention there didn’t officially begin until 2014, though the CIA began covertly training and arming Syrian rebels in 2013. Nevertheless, there’s no sign of democracy emerging from the ashes. Why, then, would anyone think America’s involvement is accomplishing anything except more war and death?

Feb 05 12:53

Top US general says Trump did not consult him on Syria announcement

The commander of US Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, said Tuesday he "was not consulted" prior to President Donald Trump's December announcement that the US would withdraw its troops from Syria.

And despite Trump's claims thatISIS has been defeated, Votel said the fight against the terror group is "not over" and warned ISIS could regroup after US troops leave.

"I was not aware of the specific announcement. Certainly we are aware that he had expressed a desire and intent in the past to depart Iraq, depart Syria," Gen. Joseph Votel said during a Tuesday hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Feb 05 12:43

Journalist Interrogated, Fired For Story Linking CIA And Syria Weapons Flights

A months-long investigation which tracked and exposed a massive covert weapons shipment network to terror groups in Syria via diplomatic flights originating in the Caucuses and Eastern Europe under the watch of the CIA and other intelligence agencies has resulted in the interrogation and firing of the Bulgarian journalist who first broke the story. This comes as the original report is finally breaking into mainstream international coverage.

Investigative reporter Dilyana Gaytandzhieva authored a bombshell report for Trud Newspaper, based in Sofia, Bulgaria, which found that an Azerbaijan state airline company was regularly transporting tons of weaponry to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Turkey under diplomatic cover as part of the CIA covert program to supply anti-Assad fighters in Syria. Those weapons, Gaytandzhieva found, ended up in the hands of ISIS and al-Qaeda terrorists in Iraq and Syria.

Feb 05 11:22

TRUMP: ‘WE HAVE TO PROTECT ISRAEL,’ SHIFTING AGAIN ON SYRIA WITHDRAWAL

ASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump indicated this weekend that some US troops in Syria would remain there “to protect Israel,” in an apparent shift from his earlier insistence on an absolute withdrawal.

In an interview with Margaret Brennan of CBS News, Trump was pressed to identify precisely how much of America’s force presence there would be coming home – and how quickly.

WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump indicated this weekend that some US troops in Syria would remain there “to protect Israel,” in an apparent shift from his earlier insistence on an absolute withdrawal.

In an interview with Margaret Brennan of CBS News, Trump was pressed to identify precisely how much of America’s force presence there would be coming home – and how quickly.

“We’re going to be there and we’re going to be staying. We have to protect Israel,” he replied. “We have to protect other things that we have. But we’re – yeah, they’ll be coming back in a matter of time.”

Webmaster's Commentary: 

The logical question which should have been asked by this alleged CBS reporter, and of course was not is, with all the money and equipment with which the US has gifted Israel, why in the name of heaven does Israel need protecting at all, more than what the US has already given, and committed to give to Israel?!?

Apparently,"amazingly intellectually lazy and woefully uninformed " is the new "standard" for reporting at CBS. Because had she actually bothered to do her homework, she would have understood the following:

US Defense Budget Prioritizes Securing Israel over Deterring IranThis article goes on to state the following:

"Securing Israel. The FY 2019 budget codifies the 10-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) that the Obama Administration signed with the Israeli government in September 2016. This MOU offered “the single largest pledge of military assistance in US history”—$38 billion over a decade. The language included in FY 2019 is unprecedented in its scope and content, lavishing US support on one single ally. The decision to help Israel with unmanned aerial systems came after Iran, Hezbollah, and IS flew drones in Syria during the past few years. This US support comes as the Israeli government seems increasingly concerned about the backlash of US-Iranian tensions and the potential for a growing number of heavy rockets and long-range missiles launched toward Israel. The FY 2019 budget urges the Trump Administration to begin talks with the Israeli government to determine “the quantity and type of precision guided munitions in the event of a sustained armed confrontation” with Hezbollah and Hamas."

Please let that number sink in : $38 billion dollars over ten years. means that Israel will be receiving $3,800,000,000 per year over 10 years.

So if, in fact, Israel is being provided getting nearly 4 billion dollars per year for the next decade, courtesy of the highly generous US taxpayers, (who, of course, had utterly no say in this matter), then why is this nuclear-armed, self-proclaimed theocracy, pathologically incapable of defending itself against Syria, or, in fact, Iran?!?

And forgive me, President Trump, but is it not totally illegal for the US government to give any aid or military assistance to Israel because it refuses to have its nuclear sites inspected, and to join the NNPT, as Iran has done, because such aid is in flagrant violation of both the Mann Act, and the Symington Amendment?!?

just doing a little "reality check" here, sir.

Sorry, Mr. President, with these statements regarding the the reasons for the US military staying in Syria, you just threw logic right smack on its head, and it is suffering from a severe concussion.

The US presence at al-Tanf in Eastern Syria, has utterly nothing to do with "defending Israel", but everything to do with having a military "beach head" for a potential invasion of Iran.

The maps tell the story:

Map of the Middle East

Al Tanf: why it matters

This is also the reason why US troops will not be leaving Iraq any time soon, either, even though the Iraqi government has asked it to leave, and so far, nicely.

And Mr. President, you would do well to remember the most powerful politically man in Iraq right now, but who holds no office: Muqtada Al Sadr.

If you do not remember his influence on the timing of the first US military withdrawal from Iraq, you might want to have one of your researchers take a look.

And you might want to look at a companion piece. also from blacklistednews.com, and based on the above referenced interview:

Trump kneels - again - before AIPAC

Feb 04 10:48

Bipartisan House group introduces bills to stall Syria, South Korea troop withdrawals

A bipartisan group of eight House lawmakers on Wednesday introduced two bills to make it more difficult for the Trump administration to withdraw troops from Syria and South Korea.

The bills, introduced by freshman Reps. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.), and Van Taylor (R-Texas), would limit the funds the administration may use to pull troops from the countries.

Democrat Reps. Andy Kim (N.J.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), and Max Rose (N.Y.), also back the bills, as do Republican Reps. Mike Gallagher (Wis.), Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), and Will Hurd (Texas). Kim, Gallagher and Stefanik all serve on the House Armed Services Committee.

The first bill, titled the “Responsible Withdrawal From Syria Act,” prohibits the use of Pentagon funds to draw down active duty troop presence in Syria below 1,500.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

These are symbolic only. Without Trump's signature, they have no effect.

Feb 04 09:06

Trump pushes withdrawal from 'endless' Afghanistan, Syria wars

US President Donald Trump reaffirmed, in an interview, his determination to pull US troops out of "endless wars" in Syria and Afghanistan, but said they should stay in Iraq to watch Iran.

Feb 04 08:59

Death Knell For Syria Pullout: “We Have To Protect Israel” Says Trump

After approaching two months of talk of a “full” and “immediate” US troop withdrawal from Syria, first ordered by President Trump on December 19 — which was predictably met with swift and fierce pushback from beltway hawks including in some cases his own advisers — it now appears the death knell has sounded on the prior “complete” and “rapid” drawdown order.

Trump said in a CBS “Face the Nation” interview this weekend that some unspecified number of US troops will remain in the region, mostly in Iraq, with possibly some still in Syria, in order “to protect Israel” in what appears a significant backtrack from his prior insistence on an absolute withdrawal.

Feb 04 08:37

Trump Backtracks on Syria, Afghan Withdrawals, Facing Growing Senate Pressure

Having drifted back and forth a few times on the US withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, President Trump seemed solid on leaving last week, but facing growing opposition from the Senate now shows signs of backtracking once again.

Previously talking up how the wars in Afghanistan and Syria can’t last forever, Trump is now saying he wants a “smaller number” of troops to stay in Afghanistan, despite the Taliban already making it clear that was a non-starter for the peace deal.

In Syria, Trump is now focused on the idea that the pullout can only happen after assuring that “Israel is protected,” which is as close to a recipe for permanent warfare as one can get. Israeli officials have made clear they want the war to be about Iran, not ISIS.

And that seems to be he case in Iraq, as well, where President Trump is now saying US troops will remain, seemingly forever, to “watch Iran,” and make sure they don’t “do nuclear weapons or other things.”

Feb 04 08:30

US Attacks Syrian Military Base Along Iraq Border, Wounding Two

US warplanes attacked a Syrian military position along the border with Iraq at Abu Kamal late Saturday. Syrian state media reported the attack as “US aggression,” which reportedly wounded two soldiers and destroyed a stationary artillery piece.

Exactly what happened that led to this rare US attack on Syrian military targets is uncertain. The US-led coalition claimed that it involved their “inherent right to self defense,” and that some “partner forces were fired upon” by the artillery.

That’s a very non-specific allegation, and also seems unlikely. The only “partner forces” for the US anywhere near Abu Kamal are the Iraqi military, which is allied with Syria’s government, and the Kurdish SDF, which is also in the process of making a deal with the Syrian government to resist a Turkish invasion.

Feb 04 08:27

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – FEB. 4, 2019: US-LED COALITION STRUCK SYRIAN ARMY NEAR AL-BUKAMAL

Late on February 2nd, a US-led coalition warplane attacked an artillery position of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the area of al-Sukkariya west of the town of al-Bukamal in the province of Deir Ezzor. According to the Syrian Defense Ministry, one artillery piece was destroyed and 2 SAA soldiers were injured.

In December, the Syrian military accused the US-led coalition of launching ground-to-ground rockets at positions of the SAA’s 21st Brigade around the area of al-Tanaf. However, the coalition claimed that the attack targeted an ISIS commander.

Feb 02 10:55

‘The War Party': US Senate Blurs Partisan Lines in Unified Vote Against Trump

The US Senate Democrats and Republicans' vote against withdrawing troops from Syria and drawing down the American hold on Afghanistan is evidence that there's really only one political party, and that's the war party, anti-war activist and journalist Cindy Sheehan told Sputnik.

Feb 02 09:42

Israel Admitted Arming anti-Assad Syrian Rebels. Big Mistake

In his final days as the Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eisenkot confirmed, on the record, that Israel had directly supported anti-Assad Syrian rebel factions in the Golan Heights by arming them.

This revelation marks a direct break from Israel’s previous media policy on such matters. Until now, Israel has insisted it has only provided humanitarian aid to civilians (through field hospitals on the Golan Heights and in permanent healthcare facilities in northern Israel), and has consistently denied or refused to comment on any other assistance.

In short, none other than Israel’s most (until recently) senior serving soldier has admitted that up until his statement, his country’s officially stated position on the Syrian civil war was built on the lie of non-intervention.

Feb 02 09:33

US Senate opposes troops’ withdrawal from Syria, Afghanistan

In a rebuke of President Donald Trump, the Republican-led US Senate advanced largely symbolic legislation on Thursday opposing plans for any abrupt withdrawal of troops from Syria and Afghanistan.

The Senate voted 68-23 in favor of a non-binding amendment, drafted by Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying it was the sense of the Senate that militant groups in both countries continue to pose a “serious threat” to the United States.

The procedural vote to cut off debate meant that the amendment would be added to a broader Middle East security bill likely to come up for a final Senate vote next week.

The amendment acknowledges progress against ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria and Afghanistan but warns that “a precipitous withdrawal” without effective efforts to secure gains could destabilize the region and create a vacuum that could be filled by Iran or Russia.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Heeeeere's your rifles.....

Feb 02 09:28

How Senators James Risch and Eliot Engel Are Preparing a New US War Against Syria

In Washington, the struggle between the Jacksonians (represented by Donald Trump’s team) and the Imperialists (in other words the traditional political class) may well seduce the 116th Congress into not only harassing the President but also playing a much greater role in foreign affairs.

This Congress has just elected James Risch (R-ID) to the presidency of the Senatorial Committee for Foreign Affairs, and Eliot Engel (D- NY) to the presidency of the equivalent Committee for the House of Representatives. The two men agree on nothing apart from their stubborn support for the Pentagon and Israel, and their hatred of Syria.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Heeeeeere's your rifles....

Feb 02 06:54

Trump's Withdrawals From Afghanistan & Syria Are Hardly "A Gift To Putin"

Manichaean Cold War myopia and ludicrous Russiagate allegations have produced one of the worst periods of American “geopolitical” thinking in recent decades. Consider President Trump’s recently announced withdrawals of US forces from Syria and Afghanistan. Instead of applauding these long-overdue steps, the bipartisan US political-media establishment has denounced them as “Trump’s gifts to Putin.”

But why would Russian President Putin want to be without the United States as an ally in the fight against terrorists in these two countries, which Moscow has long regarded as its geopolitical backyard?

In Syria, where, as Putin has repeatedly warned, thousands of jihadists with Russian passports have appeared and vowed, if they take Damascus, to return to Russia and wage the same war there?

Feb 01 13:05

Report: Israel Stealing Resources in Occupied Golan

Al-Marsad has published a new legal report that investigates the implications of a recent Israeli project which proposes to develop a massive wind farm in the occupied Syrian Golan (‘Golan’). The report highlights the consequences of Israel’s latest attempt to tie itself to the Golan by stealing the region’s resources and manipulating its native population. Although the report focuses on one specific project, it identifies many of the common characteristics of settlement businesses, in the Golan, which violate international law and harm the native community immensely.

Feb 01 13:01

Rand Paul: 'Ludicrous' to call a withdrawal from Afghanistan and Syria 'precipitous'

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Thursday it was "ludicrous" for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to call taking troops out of Syria and Afghanistan “precipitous.”

“To call it a precipitous withdrawal after 17 years is ludicrous,” Paul said on Fox News. “We’ve been there 17 years.”

The libertarian-leaning lawmaker said the U.S. had secured a victory in Afghanistan because it “got bin Laden” and “disrupted the people who attacked us.”

He argued that the money spent on the war could be better spent domestically, including on a border wall.

The U.S. has been leading an international coalition against ISIS in Syria since 2014, while the war in Afghanistan began in late 2001.

Feb 01 12:59

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – FEB. 1, 2019: HAYAT TAHRIR AL-SHAM GETS CONTROL OF KEY ROADS IN NORTHWESTERN SYRIA

This week, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) has blocked all roads linking the Idlib de-escalation zone with the northern Aleppo countryside, including the Turkish-occupied area of Afrin. The two main blocked roads were Atme-Deir Ballut and Deir Samaan-al-Ghazzawiyya. Therefore, the goods transportation and other traffic are now under direct control of the group, which is collecting funds for passage of its checkpoints.

The formal justification of the move is the alleged threat of ISIS infiltration, which Hayat Tahrir al-Sham seeks to prevent. On the other hand, the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham move undermines the de-escalation zone agreement under which the sides agreed to work to re-open the roads between Hama and Aleppo and Lattakia and Aleppo.

Feb 01 10:56

Senate Vote Opposes Ending US Wars in Syria, Afghanistan: Non-binding vote declares withdrawing troops a serious risk

In a surprising vote Thursday, the Senate voted 68-23 to pass a resolution from Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) expressing opposition to President Trump’s plan to withdraw US troops from Syria, and expressing opposition to any theoretical pullout from Afghanistan that might result from a negotiated deal to end that war.

The non-binding resolution was passed with overwhelming support from the Republican majority, setting them squarely against parts of President Trump’s foreign policy. A number of Democrats who voted against it expressed concern that it was tantamount to a vote advocating a state of permanent war.

Which it realistically is. The 2001 authorization for the Afghan War was built around 9/11 and the defeat of al-Qaeda. Neither are hugely relevant issues in 2019 Afghanistan, and a peace treaty being negotiated centers heavily around the Taliban promising to keep al-Qaeda and ISIS out of the country in the future.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

As I have stipulated many times before on this blog, just because something is the most ham-fistedly, pig-headedly stupid thing the US government and military can do, is no bet they won't do it.

Staying on in Syria, and continuing the occupation of Afghanistan, are both exceptionally bad choices

Staying in Syria means more than a measure of concern about the US and Russia getting into a military engagement here, as the US presence was neither asked for nor recognised by the Syrian government.

The Iranians are here, but in very small numbers, and have been working with the government to get rid of the US/Western-backed, trained, and funded jihadists.

So at the end of the day, Syrians should be able to make their own self-determination about who stays in power as Syria's government, or who does not.

Feb 01 09:37

Syria Briefing from Peter Ford: US Withdrawal, Safe Zones, Sanctions, Idlib, ISIS & Israel

Contrary to the expectations of many experts, President Trump has remained insistent on the withdrawal of approximately 2,000 US troops from North East Syria, although he has had to concede more time. The ‘conditioned’ withdrawal touted by his uber-hawkish National Security Adviser, John Bolton, appears to have shrunk just to ensuring that the Kurds in the YPG militia the US will be leaving behind are not slaughtered by the Turks. One of the other conditions, eradicating the final remnants of ISIS, appears to have been all but met by a final Coalition push, with ISIS down now to its last village, obviating the handing of the job to Turkey which was ludicrously proposed initially, while the other condition, ensuring that Iran does not benefit, appears to have been quietly forgotten.

Feb 01 09:09

U.S. COURT FINDS SYRIA RESPONSIBLE FOR KILLING AMERICAN JOURNALIST MARIE COLVIN

A FEDERAL JUDGE in Washington, D.C. has ordered the Syrian government to pay $302 million in damages for the murders of journalists Marie Colvin and Remi Ochlik in a 2012 artillery strike. The decision, issued on Wednesday, marks the first time in the seven-year conflict that a court has declared Syrian forces loyal to the government of President Bashar al-Assad responsible for deliberately attacking civilians.

“A targeted murder of an American citizen, whose courageous work was not only important, but vital to our understanding of warzones and of wars generally, is outrageous, and therefore a punitive damages award that [multiplies] the impact on the responsible state is warranted,” wrote Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

That same bit in that last sentence, should hold just as true for US journalists and bloggers here at home, as it is for reporters abroad.

And she, and the photo journalist with her, had to know that they were operating in a war zone; made the choice to be there; and unfortunately, suffered the consequences.

But what I am seeing here is more demonization of Syria, whether or not this event actually happened, and regardless of whether it can be proven true. It may well be, but that is not the point.

I think that those in foggy bottom are waiting to see what the overnights looked like on this issue, in their quest to martial support for yet another Syrian engagement, even though that may mean fighting Russians on the ground, or in the air, neither choice being a wise one, right now.

We understand by now, that demonization, plus sanctions, are the tell-tale preludes to.... the US military's attempting to kick another country's military right in the proverbial shins.

This would be one of the most vulnerable of all moments to attempt to even be contemplating a US war with Russia on the ground in Syria, and I say this as someone who cares deeply about the current trajectory of the US's foreign and domestic policies.

And the reasons I am saying this are pretty self-evident; our military does not have the weaponry; the troop strength; the money, or the manufacturing to ensure a positive outcome for a US war against Russia in Syria, or anywhere else, for that matter.

Jan 31 11:41

Syria, Iran set up non-dollar payment channel

Iran and Syria have enabled their banks to conduct transactions in their local currencies and non-dollar foreign currencies, lifting a key hurdle to their trade and investment.

Iranian Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri is currently visiting Syria with a delegation of traders who are looking for opportunities in a country facing a mammoth task of reconstruction after war.

An almost non-existent banking link between the two countries has always been a niggling problem which has held up projects from moving forward.

The banking issue is the “most important problem,” Mohammad Saeed Shahmiri, an executive with the Iranian company Saab Niroo which specializes in building infrastructure, told Reuters.

His firm is studying projects in and around Damascus, according to the news agency. “We hope if they solve this problem, immediately we can start the project here,” Shahmiri said.

Jan 31 11:39

US warns of rising tensions between Iran, Israel over Syria

Director of US National Intelligence Dan Coats says Iran will likely retaliate against Israel’s continuing air raids on Syria. Israel frequently launches attacks inside Syria, claiming to have hit Iranian targets there. Iran has been offering advisory military assistance to the Syrian government in its counter-terrorism battle.

Jan 31 11:24

US Airstrikes Kill Eight Civilians From Same Family in Eastern Syria

Locals in eastern Syria report that US-led coalition airstrikes against Baghouz, the so-called “last village” of ISIS, killed at least eight civilians, all of them from the same family. The slain were reported as three women and five children.

Heavy US airstrikes against populated areas have been a recurring source of civilian deaths in this last ISIS enclave in Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports over 400 civilians slain since September in this fight, mostly in airstrikes.

Kurdish officials played up the progress in and around Baghouz, which they claimed to have captured last week, but are still fighting over. Now they claim ISIS controls only four square kilometers in all of Syria, a line from Baghouz to the Iraqi border.

Jan 31 10:55

US court orders Syria to pay $302 million to family of Marie Colvin

A U.S. court has ordered the Syrian government to pay the family of journalist Marie Colvin a large sum of money after the judge found Damascus responsible for her death.

According to the judgment that was released last night, the Syrian government is ordered to pay the family of Marie Colvin $302.5 million for what the court called an ‘unconscionable’ attack.

The judgment claimed that the Syrian military and their intelligence apparatus targeted the broadcasts of Colvin and other journalists during the siege of Homs.

Furthermore, the judgment read that Colvin was killed during the “deliberate shelling of the Bab Amr Media Center in Homs on February 22, 2012.”

Jan 31 10:29

White Helmets Preparing to Film Staged Chem Attacks in Idlib Hospitals - Moscow

The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that Moscow is concerned over the fact that terrorists have not abandoned their attempts to stage chemical attacks against Syrian civilians.

The White Helmets have deployed equipment in several hospitals in the Syrian province of Idlib to film false flag chemical attacks and blame it on Damascus, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated on Thursday.

"There are also serious concerns about reports that terrorists are not abandoning attempts to fake the use of chemical weapons against civilians. According to available information, a group of activists, the notorious pseudo-humanitarian organisation, the White Helmets, have prepared the necessary equipment in several hospitals of Idlib to film such provocations", Zakharova said at a briefing.

Jan 31 10:26

US Intel Chief: Israel Strikes in Syria May Lead to Regional War

US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he believes Iran wants to “avoid a major armed conflict with Israel,” but that continued Israeli attacks on targets in Syria may ultimately spark an Iranian retaliation.

“Israeli strikes that result in Iranian casualties increase the likelihood of Iranian conventional retaliation against Israel.” Coats added that Israeli strikes are raising growing concerns that the “conflict will escalate.”

Coats’ comments actually reflect an assessment from Israeli President Reuven Rivlin made just a day before, that he believes Iran will “retaliate with greater force” against northern Israel, and that Israel can no longer trust in “understandings” with Russia to avoid Iran retaliating against attacks.

Jan 30 12:46

Iran strikes economic deals with Syria during VP visit

Iran struck economic and trade deals with Syria on Monday, as it widens its role there after helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reclaim most of his country.

Tehran has reached “very important agreements on banking cooperation” with Syria, Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri said in the Syrian capital Damascus.

Iran will also help repair power stations across Syria and set up a new plant in the coastal province of Latakia, he added.

During Syria’s eight-year conflict, Tehran has dispatched forces and allied Shi’ite militias, including Hezbollah, to provide Damascus with vital military support. Experts say Tehran is now looking to reap a financial dividend.

Jan 30 12:44

Iran, Syria must step up joint efforts in face of Western economic war: President Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says the recent signing of several agreements between Iran and Syria will pave the way for the two countries to boost their steadfastness in the face of an economic war being waged against them by certain Western countries.

In a meeting with Iran’s First Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri in Damascus on Tuesday, Assad said Iran and Syria should make more joint efforts to thwart the plots of those countries, which are aimed at weakening the two countries, hindering their independent decision-making and breaking the will of their peoples.

He added that Iran and Syria have always stood by each other during hard times and called for Iranian state and private sectors to play a more active role in the reconstruction plans of the war-stricken country.

Assad was referring to the key economic agreements signed between the two countries on Monday in the presence of Jahangiri and Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis.

Jan 30 12:42

Iran, Syria shaping up Mideast with 'strategic' deal

Iran and Syria have signed 11 agreements, including a “long-term strategic economic cooperation” deal, in a sign of changing winds in the Middle East which is shaping up to new realities.

Syrian Prime Minister Imad Khamis said Syria and Iran signed a "unique" and “historic” agreement which includes industry, trade and agriculture, calling it “a message to the world on the reality of Syrian-Iranian cooperation.”

Iran has played a crucial part in helping Syria overcome more than seven years of foreign-orchestrated war. However, the agreements signed during a visit to Damascus by Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri Monday signal Iran’s deeper involvement in post-war Syria, notably in the country’s reconstruction.

Jan 30 11:39

No CNN... The US Intelligence Chief Actually Vindicated Trump's Syria Exit

America's top intelligence chief has said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is set to retake the entire country in the near future. “President Bashar al-Assad has largely defeated the opposition and is now seeking to regain control over all of the Syrian territory,” Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said during a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday.

And in comments that appeared to vindicate President Trump's Syria withdrawal strategy predicated upon the Islamic State's defeat, DNI Coats said that pro-Assad forces continue to "re-take territory" from what remains of ISIS while carefully avoiding war with US allies Israel and Turkey. "The regime will focus on retaking territory while seeking to avoid conflict with Israel and Turkey" DNI Coats testified.

Jan 30 10:13

McConnell Mulls Introducing Amendment to Stop US Pullout from Syria, Afghanistan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday he plans to introduce legislation to prevent what he called a "precipitous" withdrawal of US forces from Syria and Afghanistan before terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Daesh are defeated there.

"My amendment would acknowledge the plain fact that al Qaeda*, ISIS[Daesh]**, and their affiliates in Syria and Afghanistan continue to pose a serious threat to our nation", McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor.

McConnell said his amendment, which he plan to introduce to a wide-ranging Senate bill on the Middle East, would "recognize the danger of a precipitous withdrawal from either conflict, and highlight the need for diplomatic engagement and political solutions to the underlying conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan".

He stressed that his amendment would ensure the continued commitment of US forces until "vile terrorists" suffer an enduring defeat in both countries.

Jan 30 09:50

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – JAN. 30, 2019: INTENSE CLASHES, ARTILLERY DUELS ERUPT IN IDLIB DE-MILITARIZED ZONE

The situation in the Idlib de-escalation zone is slowly escalating with an increased number of artillery duels and clashes between pro-government fighters and militants taking place there on a daily basis.

On January 29, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and Jaysh al-Izza reportedly attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the villages of Maan and Atshan in northern Hama. The SAA responded by shelling the areas of Tamanah, Tal Teri, Tal Suayk, Suayk, Morek and Tal Huwayr. Early on January 30, artillery strikes were also reported near the militant-held villages of al-Tah and al-Lataminah. Both sides are accused of using heavy artillery and grad rockets, openly showing that the de-militarization zone agreed by Turkey and Russia has not in fact been established in the area.

The situation is also tense in northern Lattakia and western Aleppo, but the daily intensity of strikes there is lower.

Jan 29 14:43

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – JAN. 29, 2019: HUNDREDS KILLED IN CLASHES BETWEEN PRO-IRANIAN, PRO-RUSSIAN FORCES

A fake-news story about large-scale clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Iranian factions in Syria is making jitters in English- and Russian-language mainstream media outlets. According to these reports citing anonymous sources and each other, “the pro-Russian Tiger Forces and 5th Assault Corps” clashed with “the pro-Iranian 4th Division” near the villages of “Shahta, Bredidg, Innab and Haydariye” in northern Hama.

Most of the reports claimed that there were casualties among the sides providing “precise” numbers varying from a dozen to 200 fighters from the both sides. No source was able to provide details into how clashes had started but the versions are varying from “some differences” to “a campaign to limit Iranian influence”.

Jan 29 04:35

ISIL Ruling in Region Prevented by Iran's Dedicated Efforts

Iranian First Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri said that his country's serious fight against the terrorist groups blocked their attempts to prevail their rule over the region.

"The terrorist groups in the region were after introducing a violent face of Islam and they were created in certain regions like Syria and Iraq," Jahangiri said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran on Sunday.

"Had Iran not stepped onto the scene, today the ISIL terrorist group would have established its power and its rule in the region," he added.

>>>

Jan 29 04:01

Iran Vows to Keep Supporting Syria in Reconstruction

Iran's First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri, who is heading a high-ranking delegation to Syria, hailed the victories of the Arab country in fighting terrorists, and reassured that Tehran will keep supporting Damascus in the reconstruction phase after the war.

Jahangiri said that Iran is honored to be spearheading the anti-terror campaign in the region while felicitating the Syrian government and nation for their achievements in the fight against terrorism.
***
Iran's vice president expressed hope that terrorists would be completely eliminated in the Middle East and said, "The international community and the Europeans should know that if it were not for the sacrifices of the Syrian government and people as well as the country's allies, ISIL terrorists would establish a government in the region and would turn into a big and insolvable problem for global security."

>>>

Jan 28 13:46

Congress to Pass Sanctions Against Syria Reconstruction

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to impose new sanctions on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and its allies, and those who do business with them. The move comes a month after President Donald Trump’s announcement to withdraw troops from Syria, and as some Arab governments are thawing relations with the Assad regime, which has all but secured a military victory after nearly eight years of war. The measure has been passed by the House twice in previous sessions, and a companion bill currently remains pending in the Senate.

Jan 28 11:41

US Army Major Slams Syria's Sunken Cost Fallacy: American Deaths Are Not A Reason To Stay

I’m just old enough to remember a time – before 9/11 – when the death of a US soldier in combat was an exceptionally rare thing. Indeed, its hard not to look back fondly on those days of relative peace. Since then, nearly 7000 Americans – and perhaps half a million local civilians – have been killed in the wars for the Greater Middle East. Most of our fallen troopers, and all of the indigenous victims, are essentially nameless, faceless, forgotten. Sure, Americans “thank” their veterans, and display diligent adulation rituals at weekly sporting events, but most military casualties receive only a passing reference on the nightly news. War is the new normal after all, a standard fact of modern American life that’s far less interesting – and less lucrative – than reporting on the latest soap-opera-drama in the White House.

Jan 28 11:24

Netanyahu's Risky Election Run-Up Bombing Campaign Of Syria May Lead To War

Israel has attacked Syria many times during the last seven years of war imposed on Syria. It has run red-lights and broken taboos in order to provoke the “Axis of the Resistance” inside Syria, but has refrained from infuriating Hezbollah in Lebanon. Nevertheless, the most recent Israeli attack has pushed Syria and its allies beyond tolerable limits. Thus, President Assad prepared himself for a battle against Israel between the wars, knowing that such a battle could last weeks. But the president of Syria won’t be alone: Assad and Hezbollah’s Secretary general Hassan Nasrallah will both be running any future battle against any Israeli aggression when the decision to engage will be taken.

Jan 28 11:23

Hawks Are Trying To Convince Trump To Keep This Tiny Piece Of Syrian Soil Indefinitely

As the Pentagon appears to be moving forward on President Trump's ordered troop draw down from Syria, administration hawks as well as foreign allies like Israel have one final card to play to hinder a total withdrawal. They argue that some 200 US troops in Syria's southeast desert along the Iraqi border and its 55-kilometer “deconfliction zone” at al-Tanf are the last line of defense against Iranian expansion in Syria, and therefore must stay indefinitely.

Jan 28 11:22

US Pullout From Syria Could Leave Troops at al-Tanf to ‘Challenge Iran’

As US officials continue to reiterate their intention to withdraw from Syria, but it seems that is coming with some caveats. Now, reports are that the end vision is to keep a few hundred US troops at the al-Tanf base, just to “challenge Iran.”

On the Iraq-Syria-Jordan border, al-Tanf was originally meant to prop up rebels on the Jordan border. Ultimately, it just became an excuse for the US to attack Shi’ite militias that got “too close” to the base, generally presented as pro-Iranian forces.

Making that the new face of US operations in Syria is liable to fuel more legal challenges. When troops were there to fight ISIS, the legal basis was nominally the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). There is no AUMF for confronting Iran in a country where the government never authorized the US to be in the first place.

Jan 28 11:21

Turkey shells YPG positions in Tal Rifaat for third consecutive day - Anadolu

Turkish forces shelled YPG militia positions in the northern Syrian region of Tal Rifaat for a third consecutive day, state media reported on Friday.

Tal Rifaat is located some 20 km east of Afrin, which has been under the control of Turkey and its Free Syrian Army (FSA) allies since an operation last year aimed at driving out the YPG militia.

The YPG still controls the small region of Tal Rifaat, wedged between an area under Turkish control to the north and areas controlled by the Syrian government and anti-Syrian government rebels to the south.

Jan 28 11:20

IRAN ANGRILY BLAMES RUSSIA FOR DISRUPTING S-300 SYSTEM

Official news sources in Iran publicly attacked the Russian government, blaming them for deliberately disrupting the S-300 air defense systems during the recent flare-up between their forces in Syria and Israel.

Meanwhile, Russia announced that the S-300 air defense systems in Syria are not ready for operation.

Jan 28 11:16

Video: Israel, “Licensed to Kill”

“With its totally unexpected action, Israel has officialised attacks against military targets in Syria, and has warned Syrian authorities not to exact vengeance on Israel” – this was how the Italian medias reported yesterday’s Israeli attack in Syria with cruise missiles and smart bombs. “This is a message to the Russians, who, together with Iran, are enabling the survival of Assad’s power structure”, commented the Corriere della Sera.

Nobody questions the “right” of Israel to attack a sovereign state in order to impose the government it ought to have, after eight years during which the USA, NATO and the Gulf monarchies tried to demolish it with Israël, as they did in 2011 with the State of Libya.

Jan 28 11:15

The White Helmets, Alleged Organ Traders & Child Kidnappers, Should be Condemned Not Condoned

The White Helmets, “volunteers” who reportedly “rescue Syrians from rubble.” Never in history has such a group been so feted by the elite, or received so many awards from institutions acting as extensions of US and UK hegemony.

A recent panel at the UN Security Council in New York revealed the shocking evidence of White Helmet involvement in organ trafficking in Syria. The lucrative trade of human body parts, bones, blood and organs is one of the most protected and hidden harvests of war.

The potential of White Helmet involvement in these nefarious activities raises questions that must be answered. Why were the shocking revelations met by a wall of silence from corporate media present at the panel in New York?

Jan 28 10:48

Turkish Master Plan: Crush Kurds, Brush Aside US, Re-Claim Caliphate

The two presidents, Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, are meeting to discuss their long-term strategic-economic relationship. Nevertheless, the situation in Syria and the US claimed withdrawal from the occupied northeast of the Levant is expected to occupy the greater part of their discussion. Both presidents are aware of the critical situation, particularly the US objective of setting Turkey against Russia and, at the same time, leaving the US allies, i.e. the Kurds of the YPG and SDF, in the eye of the hurricane.

Jan 28 10:41

Syria in Last 24 Hours: Army's Military Convoys Arrive in Northern Syria for Imminent Battle

"The Syrian Army has sent a large number of troops and military equipment, including tanks and military vehicles as well as heavy weaponry, to the surrounding areas of Idlib," field sources in Northern Hama said.

Meantime, the Syrian army continued its military advances in other parts of Syria over the past 24 hours.

Tens of terrorists were killed and dozens more were injured during the Syrian army's operations in provinces across Syria.

Jan 28 10:40

US Sends Fresh Military Convoy to Deir Ezzur after Vast Popular Unrest Against SDF

The US Army sent a new military convoy to Eastern Deir Ezzur after popular unrests and clashes between the people and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) intensified in the region, informed sources said.
"A US military convoy comprising military vehicles and equipment have been dispatched to the town of al-Shahil in Southeastern Deir Ezzur," local sources in Deir Ezzur were quoted as saying.

The sources reiterated that the US military convoy was dispatched to Southeastern Deir Ezzur after the residents of al-Shahil town held massive rallies against the SDF fighters.

They pointed to the armed conflict between the tribesmen of the region with the SDF in the surrounding oil-rich areas of al-Amr, and said a number of people were wounded in clashes.

Meantime, Southeastern Deir Ezzur is now under SDF-imposed curfew after an unknown group attacked an SDF military post in al-Tayaneh South of Zabian town in the region.

Jan 28 10:12

Turkish Soldiers flee while Kurdish Protesters occupy their Base; Shiladze, North Iraq, January 2019

People are furiously protesting against the Turkish attacks on civilians in the region. Duhok is the capital of Duhok Governorate in Iraqi Kurdistan. Shiladze is a Village in Iraq's northern province of Duhok, some 70km north of Mosul.

Jan 28 09:58

Over 600 US troops arrive in Syria to secure withdrawal

More than 600 additional US troops have arrived in Syria to provide protection to other American forces during their pullout from the war-torn country, Reuters reported local sources saying.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the additional troops arrived at US air bases in eastern Syria’s Harab Isk and Sarrin villages, which will be used as main evacuation centres in the event of withdrawal.

The US bases in the towns of Rmeilan and Tal-Baidar in Syria’s northwestern Al-Hasakah province will be used for airway of heavy weapons, the source added.

A Pentagon official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to comment on the number of troops being sent or their destination, citing security concerns, on Thursday.

Last month, US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of 2,000 military troops from Syria.

Jan 28 09:54

US Pullout From Syria at Risk as Israel Demands US Keep a Base

President Trump announced the withdrawal of US forces from Syria in mid-December, and here we are in late January still wondering about the pace of the process. Whether a full pullout will even happen is now also in doubt.

Israel was seen as dubious about the US pullout from the start, but didn’t publicly denounce it. Now, however, reports are that Israel is demanding that the US keep at least one base in Syria, the al-Tanf base, for Israel’s sake.

This seems to be at least under consideration, with some officials suggesting the US might keep al-Tanf to “challenge Iran,” which is of course exactly what Israel is hoping for. This might also allow the administration to skirt legal concerts about changing the Syrian War from fighting ISIS to fighting Iran, as it’s less likely to face challenge in Congress if done at Israel’s behest.

Jan 28 09:52

Vast ISIS caliphate is now two villages in Syria

A pair of dusty villages in the Syrian desert are all that remain of the vast expanse of territory that ISIS once called its caliphate, and the complete territorial defeat of the militant group appears to be imminent, according to U.S. and Kurdish officials.

A few hundred of some of the most die-hard ISIS fighters are making their last stand in the villages of Marashida and Baghuz Fawqani on the banks of the Euphrates River, a few miles from the Iraqi border in southeastern Syria. With the Syrian Army on the other side of the river, a group that once controlled an area the size of Britain is pinned down by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in a dot of land measuring 6 square miles.

It is now only a matter of weeks or even days before the villages are overrun and ISIS' vaunted state-building enterprise in Syria and Iraq is brought to an end, military officials say.

Jan 28 09:02

SYRIAN, IRAQI WAR REPORT – JAN. 28, 2019: KURDISH LEADERSHIP AT CROSSROADS BETWEEN TURKEY AND ASSAD

On January 25, hundreds of Kurdish protesters stormed a Turkish military base near the northern Iraqi city of Dahuk in response to Turkish airstrikes that killed two Kurdish civilians on January 23. According to the pro-Kurdish NRT TV, Turkish soldiers opened fire at the protestors killing at least one and injuring many others. Despite resistance, protesters managed to breach the base and set it on fire. Protestors captured most of the Turkish soldiers who were inside the base and several units of military equipment. Two agents of the Turkish National Intelligence Organization, known as MIT, were injured. Later, the captured Turks were reportedly handed over to Peshmerga, a force of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Jan 27 08:42

Senior Iranian MP Slams Russia for Keeping Syria S-300s Air Defenses Inactive During Israeli Strikes

A senior Iranian lawmaker has strongly criticized Russia for deactivating its S-300 missile defence system deployed in Syria during the recent Israeli airstrikes on what Tel Aviv claims were Iranian positions in the Arab country.

Chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Heshmatollah Falahatpishe says that had the systems operated properly, Israel could not easily carry out its airstrikes on Syria.

Jan 26 14:02

How Zionist Israel Masterminded the Syrian Conflict -video

The dividing of Syria to create a Kurdish state is part of a long-term Zionist plan by David Ben Gurion and other Zionists to carve up the Middle East to reduce the power of the Arab world

Jan 26 12:06

U.S. SENDS MORE TROOPS TO SYRIA TO SECURE WITHDRAWAL PROCESS

The U.S. Army has deployed additional forces in Syria in order to secure other American service members as they withdraw under President Donald Trump’s decision to pullout troops from the war torn country, the CNN TV reported on January 23 citing military officials.

According to the officials, the additional forces are needed to provide security for troops and equipment as they withdraw by land and air. They will also move around in different locations in northeastern Syria to provide additional security as the number of US forces dwindles.

Earlier this month, the US-led coalition announced that it has begun the process of deliberate withdrawal from Syria. A local monitoring group confirmed the coalition’s claim and said that 150 U.S. service members left the country.

Jan 26 12:05

COMMANDER OF US-BACKED MILITANT GROUP RAPED 10-YO GIRL IN AL-TANF

Six months ago, Mohamad Mostafa al-Jarrah, a spokesman for the US-backed Revolutionary Commando Army, was caught raping a 10-year old girl near the US-led coalition base in the area of al-Tanaf.

Mzahem Alsaloum, the activist who revealed the crime, told the pro-opposition al-7al news outlet, that al-Jarrah abducted the girl from the nearby al-Rukban refugee camp, where thousands of displaced civilians are suffering from deteriorating humanitarian conditions.

“He [al-Jarrah] was sacked after an intervention from the U.S.,” Alsaloum added.

Jan 26 11:46

US MAY BE PLOTTING TO SOW DISCORD BETWEEN RUSSIA AND TURKEY IN SYRIA: RUSSIAN TOP DIPLOMAT

Washington’s troop pullout from Syria may well be an attempt to pit Russia and Turkey against each other in the region, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in an interview with the International Affairs magazine issued on Thursday.

“Something like that is quite plausible,” he said when asked whether he believes that the US is likely not to remove all of its troops in the end, but rather just clear enough space for Russia and Turkey to lock horns with each other. “We, as well as our colleagues in Ankara and others – we all understand perfectly well that this aspect is also possible. This is also part of the equation that we will have to solve,” the diplomat specified.

Jan 26 11:13

US Pullout From Syria Could Leave Troops at al-Tanf to ‘Challenge Iran’

As US officials continue to reiterate their intention to withdraw from Syria, but it seems that is coming with some caveats. Now, reports are that the end vision is to keep a few hundred US troops at the al-Tanf base, just to “challenge Iran.”

On the Iraq-Syria-Jordan border, al-Tanf was originally meant to prop up rebels on the Jordan border. Ultimately, it just became an excuse for the US to attack Shi’ite militias that got “too close” to the base, generally presented as pro-Iranian forces.

Making that the new face of US operations in Syria is liable to fuel more legal challenges. When troops were there to fight ISIS, the legal basis was nominally the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). There is no AUMF for confronting Iran in a country where the government never authorized the US to be in the first place.

Jan 26 11:07

Israeli Criminality, Hubris in Syria Invites Catastrophe

Israeli forces have shifted from a doctrine of “war by stealth” to openly declared aggression on its northern neighbor Syria. For two straight days, the Israelis bombarded Syria’s capital Damascus and its environs with dozens of air-launched cruise missiles. Many of the projectiles were reportedly intercepted by Russian-supplied air defense systems.

Nevertheless the Israeli blitzkrieg resulted in at least four Syrian military personnel being killed and damage to the civilian international airport near Damascus. That amounts to an outrageous war crime, as have countless air strikes carried out previously by Israel on Syria. Shamefully, the United Nations and Western governments maintain a hypocritical silence, while slapping sanctions on Syria, Russia and Iran over various alleged “transgressions”.

Jan 25 12:36

WMD Take Two: Chemical Weapons Claims in Syria

How do we know that every single allegation of Syrian Government use of chemical weapons use (2013 to 2018) was a fabrication? By ignoring, so far as possible, the propaganda storm of the warring parties and focusing on independent evidence and admissions.

Jan 25 12:35

Exclusive Excerpts from ‘Team of Vipers’: John Kelly Overheard Undermining President Trump on Syria

Former West Wing communications official Cliff Sims, the author of Team of Vipers: My Extraordinary 500 Days in the Trump White House, describes in the book how he heard Kelly in conversation with Hagin about how to stop Trump from withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria–a point of contention between Trump and Kelly.

Jan 25 12:11

Israel deploys Iron Dome missile defence system near Tel Aviv

The Israeli army yesterday deployed the Iron Dome missile defence system in Tel Aviv amid growing tension on the northern border with Lebanon and Syria, local media reported.

The army also deployed the system in southern Israel in anticipation of any tension with the Gaza Strip.

Jan 25 11:34

Syria Ready to Strike Tel-Aviv, Determined to Liberate Golan

Yesterday, the Israeli occupation forces once again committed a series of aggression using missiles targeting the Syrian Arab Republic territories from above Lebanese territories – it was mentioned by my colleague, the representative of Lebanon in great detail. They attacked us from above the Lebanese territories, from the occupied Palestinian territories and from the See of Galilee in the occupied Syrian Golan. This was a gross violation of international law, of the UN Charter and of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions, as well as the 1974 Disengagement Agreement (between Israel and Syria).

Jan 25 09:45

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – JAN. 25, 2019: ISRAELI PATROL CAME UNDER FIRE IN GOLAN HEIGHTS

A firefight broke out on the contact line between Israeli and Syrian forces in the Golan Heights, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement on January 24.

According to the statement, forces from the Syrian side of the contact line opened fired on an IDF patrol. Israeli soldiers returned fire. The IDF reported no casualties, but did not specify where the incident took place.

The IDF also revealed that it had deployed an additional battery of the Iron Dome air defense system in the area of Gush Dan.

These developments came just a few days after extensive Israeli airstrikes on Syrian military and alleged Iranian targets in the countryside of Damascus, which took place on January 20-21. On January 23, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated that Israel’s “policy is clear and it will not change” promising more actions against Iranian in Syria. With no doubt the Israeli-Iranian as well as Israeli-Syrian conflicts continue to escalate.

Jan 24 16:22

US votes to sanction Syria reconstruction

Jan 24 10:57

Russia, Turkey agree to take steps to 'stabilise' Syria's Idlib

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recept Tayyip Erdogan say they have discussed steps needed to stabilise the situation in Syria's Idlib province where the joint battle against "terrorist" organisations will continue.

Erdogan arrived in Moscow on Wednesday with several of his cabinet members for a day-long visit.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry said the situation in the region, where Moscow and Ankara have tried to create a de-escalation zone, was rapidly deteriorating and that it was almost under the full control of Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) - a rebel group that was previously linked to al-Qaeda.

"Unfortunately there are many problems there and we see them," said Putin, standing alongside Erdogan at a joint press conference following the meeting.

Jan 24 10:24

Kurdish Forces Overrun ‘Last’ ISIS-Held Village in Eastern Syria

For the third time since September, Kurdish forces are pushing into the “last” ISIS-held village in eastern Syria, and are predicting that ISIS is on the verge of outright defeat in the region.

ISIS has held a tiny territory in this area, spanning three towns and some adjoining villages. US-backed Kurdish forces have been attacking this area since summer, and have taken effectively all of it on numerous occasions.

While ISIS has substantial defensive forces int he area, they also have an even larger remnant force in the deserts of eastern Syria. These forces tend to launch counter-offensives at the first opportunity after major losses, and have repeatedly retaken sacked areas.

This has led to estimates that roughly 5,000 civilians have fled the area in question. This has often been presented as a sign that ISIS is on the verge of defeat, though their ability to keep retaking those towns and villages has left open the question of now long the battle might ultimately rage.

Jan 24 09:27

Russia tells Israel: No more 'arbitrary' airstrikes in Syria

"The practice of arbitrary strikes on the territory of a sovereign state, in this case, we are talking about Syria, should be ruled out," Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said, in answer to a question from Russian news agency TASS about recent Israeli air strikes on Syria.

She said such strikes added to tensions in the region, which she said was not in the long-term interests of any country there, including Israel.

"We should never allow Syria, which has suffered years of armed conflict, to be turned into an arena where geopolitical scores are settled," TASS cited her as saying.

Jan 24 08:56

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – JAN. 24, 2019: ARAB PROTESTERS CLASH WITH SDF IN RAQQA PROVINCE

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.

Jan 23 14:07

Syria Ceasefire On Brink Of Collapse As Russia Blames Turkey For Terrorist Growth

The collapse of the prior 'deescalation' agreement comes at a time when the White House has vowed to stick to the planned US pullout, however, this could be yet a another major development to complicate or delay any possible withdrawal timeline. FT described current Turkish-Russian talks in Moscow as follows:

Russia has accused Turkey of failing to live up to a promise to clear Syria’s Idlib of extremist militant groups and admitted that a landmark ceasefire agreement made last September had failed. Ahead of crunch talks between the leaders of the two countries in Moscow on Wednesday, Russia’s foreign ministry said the Islamist extremist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) had “full control” of Syria’s last remaining major opposition stronghold. The damning assessment came four months after Moscow agreed to postpone a planned military assault on the city in exchange for a promise from Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to clear it of militants.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

The people of Syria have suffered extensively, during this Western-lead funding, and training, and arming their their adversaries.

They want their country - and their cities - back.

Jan 23 11:07

How ‘President Bolton’ Gets His Way

The Associated Press reports on Bolton’s efforts to undo the decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria:

According to seven administration officials, Bolton’s influence was central to the “reinterpretation” of Trump’s initial order and convincing the stubborn commander in chief to go along with it. White House aides maintained that the two have a strong relationship in part because Bolton has tried not to draw attention to the changes [bold mine-DL]. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe Bolton’s role and the administration’s policy thinking.

It was a sign of Bolton’s outsized role in foreign policy that when he traveled to Israel and Turkey earlier this month to clarify the policy, he brought along a contingent of press aboard a modified Boeing 757 of the type typically used by the vice president and secretary of state. It was the first trip by a national security adviser to include reporters in recent memory.

Jan 23 10:45

Syria: If Israel Can Strike Damascus, We Can Strike Tel Aviv

Syria's United Nations envoy called on the world body's Security Council to take measures against Israel's continued assault on Syrian territories, as reported by the Syrian news agency Sana, wondering whether it would take a Syrian attack on Tel Aviv Airport to draw the council's attention.

"Does drawing the attention of the war-makers in this Council require us to exercise our legitimate right to self-defense and respond to Israeli aggression on Damascus International Airport by responding in the same way on Tel Aviv Airport?" the Syrian envoy, Dr. Bashar Al-Ja'afari, asked.

Al-Ja'afri also accused UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov of being equivocal rather than definitive in calling out Israel's "daily crimes" and breaches of UN resolutions.

Jan 23 10:28

SYRIAN WAR REPORT – JAN. 23, 2019: SYRIA THREATENS TO STRIKE ‘TEL AVIV AIRPORT’

Late on January 22, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) repelled a major attack by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the Idlib de-escalation zone.

According to the Russian military, about 150-200 militants supported by 15-20 vehicles equipped with machine guns attacked SAA positions in the areas of Abu al-Duhur and Abu Sharja. They also employed at least one suicide vehicle borne explosive device. The militants overran the first line of defense and penetrated about 1.5-2 km deep into the SAA-controlled area.

Then, the military deployed reinforcements and with support of artillery units SAA troops repelled the advance and forced militants to withdraw from the recently captured positions.

According to pro-SAA sources, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham members suffered significant casualties.

Jan 23 10:22

U.S. State Department Email From 2012 States “al-Qaeda Is On Our Side In Syria”

By Brandon Turbeville

For the abundance of evidence pointing to the fact that the United States and its “allies” control the terror group al-Qaeda and use it for their own purposes both at home and abroad, it seems many observers have a hard time swallowing such a bitter pill. There was a time, however, when, in internal emails, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff and Director of Policy Planning, Jake Sullivan, admitted to the Secretary that “AQ is on our side in Syria.”...

Jan 23 09:38

World War 3: 'Rapid military escalation' occurring between Iran and Israel

TENSIONS between Iran and Israel are "escalating and intensifying" after Israel struck Iranian targets this week, a former Pentagon official has warned.

World War 3: 'Rapid military escalation' occurring between Iran and Israel
TENSIONS between Iran and Israel are "escalating and intensifying" after Israel struck Iranian targets this week, a former Pentagon official has warned.

World War 3 fears were sparked this week after Israel hit the Syrian capital of Damascus early on Monday as part of its increasingly open assault on Iran's presence there. In response, Iran issued a chilling message to arch-enemy Israel – warning it is “impatient” and ready to confront and destroy the nation in a statement issued just hours after Israel launched the air raids in Syria.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Such a war would be horrific and costly for all concerned; I hope that the leaders of all these countries can find a way for it not to happen; unfortunately, too many of the actors in this environment have much to gain; the weapons manufacturers will profit; possibly the US will go back to the draft; and martial law will most probably be imposed here in the US.

I frequently talk about the possibility of a Department of Peace, tasked with achieving those geopolitical goals the US government wants to achieve, but without firing a single shot; unfortunately, however, I have seen this coming conflagration for far too long, to believe that the US government is going to give up on the complete occupation of Iran; Syria; Libya, Lebanon, Afghanistan; or Yemen.

Jan 23 09:20

Is a Land Swap Between Turkey and Syria Being Brokered by Russia?

The regions currently being administered by the Kurds in Syria include the Kurdish-majority Qamishli and al-Hasakah in northeastern Syria along the border with Iraq, and the Arab-majority towns of Manbij to the west of the Euphrates River in northern Syria and Kobani to the east of the Euphrates River along the Turkish border.

The oil- and natural gas-rich Deir al-Zor governorate in eastern Syria has been contested between the Syrian government and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, and it also contains a few pockets of the remnants of the Islamic State militants alongside both eastern and western banks of the Euphrates River.

Jan 23 09:08

Damascus Threatens to Respond to Israeli Attack With Strike on Tel Aviv Airport

Permanent Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari said that it was time that the United Nations Security Council took action to stop constant Israeli attacks on Syrian territory, adding that Damascus might exercise its right to self-defence and respond to the Israeli attack on Damascus Airport with a symmetric strike on Tel Aviv Airport.

"Isn't it is the right time for this council to take the necessary measures to stop the repeated Israeli aggression against the territories of my country or should we attract the attention of the war makers in this council be exercising our legitimate right for self-defence and respond to the Israeli aggression against the Damascus International Airport by launching an aggression against Tel Aviv Airport?" Jaafari said speaking at a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East.

Webmaster's Commentary: 

This is all for show; Jaafari knows that the UN is impotent against Israel; one world leader, however, who is capable of bloodying Israel's nose militarily, is President Putin of Russia.

There have been reports of conversations between Putin and Netanyahu; I have to wonder how true they are, because it doesn't look as though Putin has been able to neutralize Netanyahu's behaviour.

Time will sort that mystery, however.

Jan 23 08:20

Syria threatens to ‘strike Tel Aviv airport’ unless UNSC acts against Israel’s impunity

Damascus has threatened to exercise its legitimate right for self-defense against Israeli aggression and target Tel Aviv airport in a mirror response, unless the Security Council puts an end to IDF intrusions into Syrian airspace.

Apparently fed up with years of Israeli impunity in the Syrian skies and regular strikes carried out in the vicinity of Damascus International Airport, Syria has threatened to retaliate in explicit terms.

Jan 23 02:09

Trump Successfully Erodes Russia-Turkey Axis in Syria

Graham used to be the best buddy of late Sen. John McCain (an inveterate Russophobe) and a maverick who broke party stereotypes and was among the loudest Republican critics of the president, but today he’s perceived as a leading Trump ally.

Most certainly, Graham undertook the mission to Ankara on behalf of Trump. The Turks understood this and he was well received by President Recep Erdogan. He also had meetings with Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan. Only last week, Turks had cold-shouldered US National Security Advisor John Bolton. (Erdogan refused to receive Bolton.)

Webmaster's Commentary: 

Syria seems to be still much in play, and it appears that there is still a great deal which will have to be done to get and keep things stable here.

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