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UK, US De Facto Confirmed Support of Syria Terrorists – Russian Diplomat

Sputnik – 05.03.2018

The United Kingdom and the United States de facto confirmed their support of terrorists in Syria by rejecting Russian amendments for the UN Human Rights Council resolution on the situation in Eastern Ghouta, Russian permanent representative to the UN Office in Geneva Gennady Gatilov told Sputnik.

“The amendments which we introduced should have been supported by all states which do not want the conflict to escalate, and those who sincerely want to achieve the resolution of the Syrian crisis and elimination of the terrorist threat. But the conclusion may be drawn that those who initiated this resolution are not interested in the resolution of the Eastern Ghouta crisis, and de facto continue supporting militants turning a blind eye to their crimes,” he said.

In a separate comment, Aleksei Goltiaev, a Senior Counselor at the Russian mission to the UN Office Geneva, said Monday that Moscow considers the UN HRC statement on the situation in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta “disconnected from the situation on the ground.”

The council voted in favor of adopting the UK-proposed draft resolution, rejecting amendments proposed by Russia. As many as 29 members of the council voted in favor of adopting the document, four officials voted against and 14 abstained.

Moscow proposed adding clauses to the resolution that states condemn all terrorist acts in Syria, including those in East Ghouta, and refuse to provide any support for terrorists on the territory of the country. Therefore, the refusal of the HRC members to accept Russia’s amendments shall be regarded by Moscow as an outright demonstration of support for terrorists.

In addition, Moscow had appealed to the states participating in the vote to add to the text of the resolution a paragraph on the crimes of militants against civilians in East Ghouta and to include a clause on humanitarian corridors to ensure the safe evacuation of civilians.

The draft resolution set forth by the UK condemns the massive violation of human rights in Syria. In particular, London proposed condemning attacks on medical facilities and civilian infrastructure, “airstrikes against civilians,” and the “alleged use of chemical weapons in East Ghouta.”

The vote in the HRC on the UK-proposed draft comes after, on February 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 2401 introducing a 30-day truce on the entire territory of Syria to ensure the safety of humanitarian aid and the medical evacuation of those injured. However, the ceasefire regime does not cover military operations against the Daesh, al-Qaeda, and Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) terrorist groups.

The humanitarian situation in the suburb east of the Syrian capital has drastically deteriorated since February 18, when Syrian government forces launched an operation codenamed “Damascus Steel,” in a bid to clear the region of militants. According to the Russian military, the terrorist groups in the region are purposely struggling to escalate the situation in East Ghouta, preventing civilians from leaving the area and provoking retaliatory fights against the Syrian government.


What Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You About Eastern Ghouta

March 5, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Authoritarians Who Silence Syria Questions

By Jonathan Cook | CounterPunch | February 28, 2018

I am loath to draw more attention to the kind of idiocy that passes for informed comment nowadays from academics and mainstream journalists. Recently I lambasted Prof Richard Carver for his arguments against BDS that should have gained him an F for logic in any high school exam.

Now we have to endure Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor, using every ploy in the misdirection and circular logic playbook to discredit those who commit thought crimes on Syria, by raising questions both about what is really happening there and about whether we can trust the corporate media consensus banging the regime-change drum.

Whitaker’s arguments and assumptions may be preposterous but sadly, like Carver’s, they are to be found everywhere in the mainstream – they have become so commonplace through repetition that they have gained a kind of implicit credibility. So let’s unpack what Whitaker and his ilk are claiming.

Whitaker’s latest outburst is directed against the impudence of a handful of British academics, including experts in the study of propaganda, in setting up a panel – the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media – to “provide a source of reliable, informed and timely analysis for journalists, publics and policymakers” on Syria. The researchers include Tim Hayward of Edinburgh University and Piers Robinson of Sheffield University.

So what are Whitaker’s objections to this working group? Let’s run through them, with my interjections.

Whitaker: They dispute almost all mainstream narratives of the Syrian conflict, especially regarding the use of chemical weapons and the role of the White Helmets search-and-rescue organisation. They are critical of western governments, western media and various humanitarian groups but show little interest in applying critical judgment to Russia’s role in the conflict or to the controversial writings of several journalists who happen to share their views.

Western governments and western corporate media have promoted a common narrative on Syria. It has been difficult for outsiders to be sure of what is going on, given that Syria has long been a closed society, a trend only reinforced by the last seven years of a vicious civil-cum-proxy war, and the presence of brutal ISIS and al Qaeda militias.

Long before the current fighting, western governments and Israel expressed a strong interest in overthrowing the government of Bashar Assad. In fact, their desire to be rid of Assad dates to at least the start of the “war on terror” they launched after 9/11, as I documented in my book Israel and the Clash of Civilisations.

Very few corporate journalists have been on the ground in Syria. (Paradoxically, those who have are effectively embedded in areas dominated by al Qaeda-type groups, which western governments are supporting directly and through Gulf intermediaries.) Most of these journalists are relying on information provided by western governments, or from groups with strong, vested interests in Assad’s overthrow.

Should we take this media coverage on trust, as many of us did the lies promoted about Iraq and later Libya by the same western governments and corporate media? Or should we be far more wary this time, especially as those earlier regime-change operations spread more chaos, suffering and weapons across the Middle East, and fuelled a migrant crisis now empowering the far-right across much of Europe?

Whitaker and his ilk are saying we should not. Or more disingenuously, Whitaker is saying that the working group, rather than invest its energies in this supremely important research, should concentrate its limited resources on studying Russian propaganda on Syria. In other words, the researchers should duplicate the sterling efforts of Whitaker’s colleagues in daily attributing the superpowers of a James Bond villain to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Here’s a counter-proposal: how about we leave well-funded western governments and media corporations to impugn Putin at every turn and on every pretext, while we allow the working group to check whether there is a large (larger?) mote in the west’s eye?

Whitaker: The worrying part, though, especially in the light of their stated intention to seek ‘research funding’, is their claim to be engaging in ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of media reporting on Syria.

Is this really so worrying? Why not allow a handful of academics to seek funds to try to untangle the highly veiled aid – money and arms – that western governments have been pumping into a war tearing apart Syria? Why not encourage the working group to discern more clearly the largely covert ties between western security services and groups like the White Helmets “search-and-rescue service”? One would think supposedly adversarial journalists would be all in favour of efforts to dig up information about western involvement and collusion in Syria.

Whitaker: But while members of the group are generally very critical of mainstream media in the west, a handful of western journalists — all of them controversial figures — escape similar scrutiny. Instead, their work is lauded and recommended.

More of Whitaker’s circular logic.

Of course, the few independent journalists (independent of corporate interests) who are on the ground in Syria are “controversial” – they are cast as “controversial” by western governments and corporate journalists precisely because they question the consensual narrative of those same governments and journalists. Duh!

Further, these “controversial” journalists are not being “lauded”. Rather, their counter-narratives are being highlighted by those with open minds, like those in the working group. Without efforts to draw attention to these independent journalists’ work, their reporting would most likely disappear without trace – precisely the outcome, one senses, Whitaker and his friends would very much prefer.

It is not the critical thinkers on Syria who are demanding that only one side of the narrative is heard; it is western governments and supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and the Guardian’s George Monbiot. They think they can divine the truth through … the corporate media, which is promoting narratives either crafted in western capitals or derived from ties to groups like the White Helmets located in jihadist-controlled areas.

Again, why should the working group waste its finite energies scrutinising these independent journalists when they are being scrutinised – and vilified – non-stop by journalists like Whitaker and by big-budget newspapers like the Guardian ?

In any case, if official western narratives truly withstand the working group’s scrutiny, then the claims and findings of these independent journalists will be discredited in the process. These two opposed narratives cannot be equally true, after all.

Whitaker: The two favourites, though, are Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley — ’independent’ journalists who are frequent contributors to the Russian propaganda channel, RT. Bartlett and Beeley also have an enthusiastic following on ‘alternative’ and conspiracy theory websites though elsewhere they are widely dismissed as propagandists.

“Widely dismissed” by … yes, that’s right, Whitaker’s friends in the corporate media! More circular logic. Independent journalists like Bartlett and Beeley are on RT because Whitaker’s chums at British propaganda outlets – like the Guardian and BBC – do not give, and have never given, them a hearing. The Guardian even denied them a right of reply after its US-based technology writer Olivia Solon (whose resume does not mention that she was ever in Syria) was awarded a prominent slot in the paper to smear them as Kremlin propagandists, without addressing their arguments or evidence.

Whitaker: [Bartlett and Beeley’s] activities are part of the overall media battle regarding Syria and any ‘rigorous academic analysis’ of the coverage should be scrutinising their work rather than promoting it unquestioningly.

There is no “media battle”. That’s like talking of a “war” between Israel, one of the most powerful armies in the world, and the lightly armed Palestinian resistance group Hamas – something the western corporate media do all the time, of course.

Instead there is an unchallenged western media narrative on Syria, one in favour of more war, and more suffering, until what seems like an unrealisable goal of overthrowing Assad is achieved. On the other side are small oases of scepticism and critical thinking, mostly on the margins of social media, Whitaker wants snuffed out.

The working group’s job is not to help him in that task. It is to test whether or how much of the official western narrative is rooted in truth.

Returning to his “concerns” about RT, Whitaker concludes that the station’s key goal:

is to cast doubt on rational but unwelcome explanations by advancing multiple alternative ‘theories’ — ideas that may be based on nothing more than speculation or green-ink articles on obscure websites.

But it precisely isn’t such “green-ink” articles that chip away at the credibility of an official western consensus. It is the transparently authoritarian instincts of a political and media elite – and of supposedly “liberal” journalists like Whitaker and Monbiot – to silence all debate, all doubt, all counter-evidence.

Because at heart he is an authoritarian courtier, Whitaker would like us to believe that only crackpots and conspiracy theorists promote these counter-narratives. He would prefer that, in the silence he hopes to impose, readers will never be exposed to the experts who raise doubts about the official western narrative on Syria.

That is, the same silence that was imposed 15 years ago, when his former newspaper the Guardian and the rest of the western corporate media ignored and dismissed United Nations weapons experts like Scott Ritter and Hans Blix. Their warnings that Iraq’s supposed WMD really were non-existent and were being used as a pretext to wage a disastrous colonial war went unheard.

Let’s not allow Whitaker and like-minded bully-boys once again to silence such critical voices.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chlorine attack reported in Syria after Russian warning

Press TV – February 26, 2018

A suspected new chemical attack has reportedly hit the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta just after Russia warned that militants were planning a gas attack there to pin it on the Syrian government.

Militant sources were quoted as saying that several people suffered symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine gas in the al-Shayfouniya area on Sunday, and one child was killed.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is sympathetic to militants, said 14 civilians had suffered breathing difficulties after a Syrian warplane struck the village in the Eastern Ghouta region.

The London-based center quoted victims, ambulance drivers and others as saying that they had smelt chlorine after “an enormous explosion” in the area.

“At least 18 victims were treated with oxygen nebulizing sessions,” Reuters news agency quoted an unidentified militant source as saying.

The Syrian government has consistently denied using chemical weapons in the war that will soon enter its eighth year.

For years, foreign-backed militants have appeared to release chemical substances in the areas close to the site of government airstrikes and capture the aftermath on videos.

On Sunday, videos released by militants depicted a child’s corpse wrapped in a blue shroud, and several bare chested men and young boys appearing to struggle for breath, with some holding nebulizers to their mouths and noses.

The suspected gas attack came just after the Russian Defense Ministry warned Sunday that militants were preparing to use toxic agents in Eastern Ghouta so they could later accuse Damascus of employing chemical weapons.

Last April, the United States fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Syria in response to what it claimed was a chemical weapons attack that killed more than 100 people.

The Syrian army is currently in the midst of an operation to drive violent Takfiri militants out of Eastern Ghouta from where they launch mortar attacks on Damascus.

A ceasefire announced by the UN Security Council on Saturday does not apply to the areas held by Daesh, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front along with “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities” associated with the terrorist groups.

On Sunday, Iran’s Chief of Staff Major General Mohammad Baqeri said that the architects of the ceasefire had it passed at the UN in order to forestall the Syrian army’s eradication of terrorists in the Damascus suburbs.

“The West and supporters of the terrorists insisted that this ceasefire be put in place,” he said of the resolution which demands a 30-day ceasefire across Syria to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

“We will adhere to the ceasefire resolution; Syria will also adhere,” Baqeri said, while noting that parts of the suburbs of Damascus, which are held by the terrorists, are not covered by the ceasefire and clean-up operations will continue there.

The Syrian government surrendered its stockpiles of chemical weapons in 2014 to a joint mission led by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which oversaw the destruction of the weaponry.

Western governments and their allies however have never stopped pointing the finger at Damascus whenever an apparent chemical attack has taken place.

In April, a suspected sarin gas attack hit the town of Khan Shaykhun in the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib, taking at least 80 lives. Accusing Damascus, the US then launched several dozen Tomahawk cruise missiles at a Syrian air base.

Earlier in February, French President Emmanuel Macron said if the use of chemical weapons against civilians were proven in Syria, “France will strike.”

February 26, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

US-Russia rivalry surges in Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | February 20, 2018

A major speech by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday at an international conference on the Middle East turned into the strongest Russian denunciation to date of the shift in the US policies under the Trump administration towards Syria, where the Pentagon now intends to keep a military presence indefinitely. (here and here)

The overall impression Lavrov conveyed is three-fold. One, in immediate terms, a spurt in fighting in Syria can be expected, as the US attempts to create new facts on the ground by using local proxies — Kurdish militia plus al-Qaeda affiliates and ISIS fighters — as well as to push back at Russia, Iran and the Syrian government.

Two, Russia concludes that the shift in the overall US strategy aims at balkanizing Syria. (Later on Monday, while speaking to the media in Moscow, Lavrov also drew attention to the presence of mercenaries and the Special Forces of France and Britain in northeastern Syria working in league with the US forces in implementing the American agenda to create zones of influence.)

Three, the conversation between Moscow and Washington regarding Syria is at a dead end. Lavrov specifically warned Washington that it is “playing with fire” in Syria, implying that the US strategy will run into resistance.

Two other features of the Moscow conference in Moscow are that, first, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif took part in it, and, second, the event also talked up a Russian mediatory role to calm down the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Zarif told Lavrov at a meeting in Moscow on Monday that Tehran seeks Russia’s help in resolving the intra-regional rifts in the Muslim Middle East. Later, Zarif posted on his official Tweeter account: “With Russia’s sober strategic perspective and its growing influence in West Asia, it can play an instrumental role to help a paradigm shift in the Persian Gulf to one based on dialogue and inclusion.”

The conference was attended by non-official delegates from several Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, King Abdullah of Jordan had paid a ‘working visit’ to Moscow on February 15 and met Putin. On the previous day, Lavrov had spoken to his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Hassan Shoukry on phone. Yesterday, Putin also telephoned Turkish President Recep Erdogan. The focus was on Syria in all these exchanges.

The Russian strategy will be to persuade important regional states who have been the US’ key regional allies – Saudi Arabia and Jordan, in particular – not to rejoin the conflict in Syria by fueling a new round of fighting. If the approach succeeds, the US may find itself at a disadvantage in lacking regional support for pressing ahead with the military track.

However, although Russia’s ties with Saudi Arabia have appreciably strengthened in the recent years, Moscow’s capacity to mediate a Saudi-Iranian rapprochement remains to be seen. Syria continues to be a major source of rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran. And, the irony is that, finally, the Trump administration is doing what Saudi Arabia had wanted the previous Obama administration to do by pushing upfront the ‘regime change’ agenda in Syria through coercive methods.

In the Saudi perception, Russia suffered a series of setbacks in Syria recently. Summing up the Syrian situation, Ghassan Charbel, editor-in-chief of the influential Saudi establishment daily Asharq Al-Awsat wrote on Monday, “ Never before have all these flags, interests, dangers, armies, militias, internal divisions and regional and international clashes come together on its (Syria’s) territories. From the South to Idlib to Hmeimem to Afrin, Syria is like a powder keg. It is at the heart of a complex and vast geo-strategic conflict that is impossible to resolve with force and where losses and rewards will be difficult to predict… The regional and international circumstances do not appear ripe for… talks to happen. The Syrian tragedy is open to the most dangerous possibilities.”

The Saudi inclination will be to wait and watch which way the winds are blowing. On the other hand, the war in Yemen remains Saudi Arabia’s number one priority today and Riyadh seeks a Russian role in ending the war in Yemen by leveraging its influence with Iran.

February 20, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Al-Qaeda Ended Up With Anti-Aircraft Missiles: Here Is The Congressional Authorization

By Tyler Durden | Zero Hedge | February 6, 2018

After the terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a rebrand of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, claimed responsibility for the dramatic downing of a Russian Su-25 fighter jet over Idlib in northwest Syria on Saturday – the first Russian plane downed in Syria since 2015 – a number of analysts have published articles asking the obvious million dollar question: where did al-Qaeda get the portable anti-aircraft missile system used in the attack?

Once such article in Al Monitor speculates on the following: “The three immediate questions that arose from the attack were how the downing was made possible, how the militants acquired the arms and whether there was a bigger-level player behind the attack.”

MANPADS are heat seeking shoulder fired missiles capable of hitting targets flying at anywhere between 10,000 and 15,000 feet.

And Al Monitor seems to answer its own question in the following when listing the array of allied groups now operating under the leadership of al-Qaeda (HTS) – among them groups previously “vetted” and approved to receive advanced weaponry by the CIA (specifically the TOW anti-tank missile):

Dozens of miles of Idlib province are contested among an array of groups, including the terrorist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a rebrand of Jabhat al-Nusra, which was affiliated with al-Qaeda; the Free Syrian Army; and its affiliate Jaish al-Nasr, which is considered a “moderate opposition group” that received weapons from the United States. Minutes after the downing of the Su-25, Alaa al-Hamwi, the military commander of Jaish al-Nasr’s aid defense battalion, claimed responsibility for the attack. Alaa argued that Jaish al-Nasr’s command supplied weapons to protect against the Russian air assault.

Later, however, HTS claimed responsibility for downing the plane.

Though US intelligence and defense officials have long denied that so-called “vetted” groups in Syria were recipients of anti-aircraft systems, rumors to the contrary have been persistent for years. The latest denial came immediately on the heels of Saturday’s Russian jet shoot down, which resulted in the death of the pilot on the ground as he came under fire by jihadists. Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway told Russia’s TASS: “The United States have not provided any of its allied forces in Syria with anti-aircraft weapons.”

The Pentagon spokesman further said, according to RT, that the US-led coalition is currently not engaged in any operations in the area where the jet was downed Saturday, indicating the coalition’s combat efforts are “geographically orientated on the current fight with Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) in eastern Syria.” Yet the statement clearly avoided any reference to past US programs to arm so-called “moderates” – whether through the secretive CIA program or DoD program. And this is to say nothing of allies like Saudi Arabia who worked closely with US intelligence for years in supplying weapons to anti-Assad militants.

But does anyone remember this? …from The Wall Street Journal all the way back in February of 2014, headlined Saudis Agree to Provide Syrian Rebels With Mobile Antiaircraft Missiles – U.S. Also Giving Fighters Millions of Dollars for Salaries

Washington’s Arab allies, disappointed with Syria peace talks, have agreed to provide rebels there with more sophisticated weaponry, including shoulder-fired missiles that can take down jets, according to Western and Arab diplomats and opposition figures.

Saudi Arabia has offered to give the opposition for the first time Chinese man-portable air defense systems, or Manpads, and antitank guided missiles from Russia, according to an Arab diplomat and several opposition figures with knowledge of the efforts. Saudi officials couldn’t be reached to comment.

The U.S. has long opposed arming rebels with antiaircraft missiles for fear they could fall into the hands of extremists who might use them against the West or commercial airlines. The Saudis have held off supplying them in the past because of U.S. opposition.

And also this March 2014 report from US government-funded Voice of America news:

Saudi Arabia reportedly is offering to provide Syrian rebels more sophisticated weapons, including shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles that can take down fighter planes and helicopter gunships. They could be a game changer in the Syrian civil war. Known as MANPADS or man-portable air defense systems, the shoulder-fired missiles are a highly-effective weapon.

Now, Saudi Arabia is offering to supply moderate rebels with these weapons. That could tip the balance on the battlefield.

… President Barack Obama is said to be rethinking U.S. strategy toward Syria. No doubt arming the Syrian rebels will be on the agenda when Obama travels to Saudi Arabia in late March.

Meanwhile, in February 2018 there’s this to consider…

Al-Qaeda controls a strip of land (Idlib province) not far from the Mediterranean coast, and has now clearly demonstrated the capability of shooting down aircraft. 

In 2014 a historical first was reached: al-Qaeda established a foothold on the Mediterranean coast after it took the Syrian town of Kessab, but has since been pushed back into Idlib.

However, al-Qaeda still remains a very short drive to the Mediterranean coast, with Syrian government territory in between. 

MANPADS (“man-portable air-defense system”) have appeared on the Syrian battlefield in recent years in the hands armed opposition groups supported by the West and Gulf states, including various FSA and Islamist factions – some of which, as Al Monitor confirms, operate today in Idlib.

These groups have at various times filmed and demonstrated themselves to be in possession of these externally supplied MANPADS long before last weekend’s Russian jet downing. The portable systems are believed by analysts to have entered Syria in multiple waves via different routes and external sponsors, including old Soviet models shipped out of Libya, Chinese FN-6’s provided by Qatar, and through NATO member Turkey’s porous border with Syria. Some supplies were also likely gained through opposition takeovers of Syrian government storehouses as well as ISIS seizures of Iraqi government bases and equipment.

Most likely, United States intelligence operatives simply allowed its close allies like the Saudis and Turks to introduce MANPADS early on in the conflict to the Syrian battlefield. In this way the US could maintain “plausible deniability” as it is likely doing now after last weekend’s attack.

But a detail which has gone largely unnoticed since the Russian fighter downing is that Congress had already quietly laid the legal framework for US transfer of MANPADS to groups in Syria over a year ago as part of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (the NDAA passed the House and Senate in the opening weeks of December 2016). The leading military news site SOFREP reported the authorization at the end of 2016, and described at the time that “Congress for the first time authorized the Department of Defense to provide vetted-Syrian rebels with anti-aircraft missiles.”

Concerning procedural rules, the NDAA requires that the Secretaries of Defense and State submit a formal request to Congress requesting the transfer of the anti-aircraft missiles systems to Syria, which must include the following according to the SOFREP report:

  • A detailed description of each element of the vetted Syrian opposition receiving MANPADS
  • The justification for providing those elements with MANPADS
  • The number and type of MANPADS provided
  • The logistics plan for resupplying approved elements with MANPADS
  • The duration of support

And SOFREP included the following observation:

The inclusion of the provision represents a departure from previous versions of the NDAA. The original House bill specifically prohibited the transfer of MANPADS to “any entity” in Syria, while the Senate bill did not address it.

Though there was an attempt in March 2017 to roll back the authorization, nothing appears to have changed regarding MANPADS and Syria in the 2018 NDAA, which was signed into law by President Trump.

Here’s the law authorizing US transfer of MANPADS to Syria as contained in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):

However, long before this formal NDAA legal framework was put into effect, it appears anti-aircraft systems were already being handed out among Syrian militant groups – again, likely through the Saudis or a third party US ally. In May 2016 we featured the following commentary:

Dr. Christina Lin, a leading scholar on jihadist groups, opens her April 8th commentary at Asia Times: “In a blunder reeking of the fallout caused by supplying Stinger anti-aircraft missiles to 1980s mujahideen in Afghanistan, civilian airline passengers are now under threat from Syrian jihadists armed with portable surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS).

Reports say some American-backed jihadi groups are being equipped with US-made MANPADS. Indications are they’re obtaining these advanced weapons either directly or indirectly from the US or its Mideast allies in connection with a recent escalation in the fighting in Syria.”

And further:

Dr. Lin quotes a Saudi official as saying (in Germany’s Spiegel), “We believe that introducing surface-to-air missiles in Syria is going to change the balance of power on the ground… just like surface-to-air missiles in Afghanistan were able to change the balance of power there.” He was referring there to this in 1979, where Obama’s friend Zbigniew Brzezinski explained why the Americans and the Saudis were supplying SAMs to the mujahideen who became al-Qaeda, and he was also referring to this in 1998, where Brzezinski, when asked whether he thought that arming those fundamentalist Sunnis had been a mistake, said that it certainly was not.

And an unpleasant reminder which bears repeating…

The threat of MANPADS taking out civilian passenger jets is very real, as history proves. The US Department of State counted that 40 civilian aircraft have been hit by MANPADS since the 1970s, which includes the complete downing of 28 civilian airliners resulting in over 800 fatalities. The State Department’s official report on MANPADS and civilian aircraft provides the following partial list of attacks on civilian aviation:

  • March 12, 1975: A Douglas C-54D-5-DC passenger airliner, operated by Air Vietnam, crashed into Vietnamese territory after being hit by a MANPADS. All six crew members and 20 passengers were killed in the crash.
  • September 3, 1978: An Air Rhodesia Vickers 782D Viscount passenger airliner crash landed after being hit by a MANPADS fired by forces from the Zimbabwe Peoples Revolution Army. Four crew members and 34 of the 56 passengers were killed in the crash.
  • December 19, 1988: Two Douglas DC-7 spray aircraft en route from Senegal to Morocco, chartered by the U.S. Agency for International Development to eradicate locusts, were struck by MANPADS fired by POLISARIO militants in the Western Sahara. One DC-7 crashed killing all 5 crew members. The other DC-7 landed safely in Morocco.
  • September 22, 1993: A Tupolev 154B aircraft operated by Transair Georgia was shot down by Abkhazian separatist forces, crashed onto the runway and caught fire, killing 108.
  • April 6, 1994: A Dassault Mystère-Falcon 50 executive jet carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi and its French flight crew was shot down over Kigali, killing all aboard and sparking massive ethnic violence and regional conflict.
  • October 10, 1998: A Boeing 727-30 Lignes Aeriennes Congolaises airliner was downed over the Democratic Republic of the Congo jungle by Tutsi militia, killing 41.
  • December 26, 1998: A United Nations-chartered Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport was shot down over Angola by UNITA forces, killing 14.
  • January 2, 1999: A United Nations Lockheed L-100-30 Hercules transport was shot down by UNITA forces in Angola, killing 9.
  • November 28, 2002: Terrorists fired two MANPADS at an Arkia Airlines Boeing 757-3E7 with 271 passengers and crew as it took off from Mombasa, Kenya. Both missiles missed.
  • November 22, 2003: A DHL Airbus A300B4-203F cargo jet transporting mail in Iraq was struck and damaged by a MANPADS. Though hit in the left fuel tank, the plane was able to return to the Baghdad airport and land safely.
  • March 23, 2007: A Transaviaexport Ilyushin 76TD cargo plane was shot down over Mogadishu, Somalia, killing the entire crew of 11.

February 7, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 5 Comments

Declassified Files Reveal Britain’s Secret Role in the Soviet-Afghan War

By Kit Klarenberg | Sputnik | January 29, 2018

Newly published declassified files reveal the UK provided financial, material and practical support to jihadist fighters before and during the Soviet campaign, in what may well represent the country’s largest covert overseas operation since 1945.

On December 27 1979, the Soviet Union started a campaign in Afghanistan at the request of the country’s government, in response to a violent rebellion by extreme Islamic opposition elements. The conflict quickly became an international effort, with thousands flocking from the Middle East and North Africa to assist Afghan Muslims in a “holy war” against the Soviet Army.

American support for these fighters, under the auspices of Operation Cyclone, is well-documented. While supportive of these efforts, then-UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and other officials either did not mention, or actively denied, the country’s involvement in the conflict.

However, newly published declassified files reveal Britain played a significant role in the financing, arming and training of mujahideen fighters before and during the Soviet operation, going so far as to help execute sabotage missions in the Soviet Union itself.

On July 3 1979, US President Jimmy Carter signed a covert directive that provided secret aid to violent opposition fighters in Afghanistan. As Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter’s National Security Advisor, later explained, the aid was sent in the full knowledge it would prompt the government to request Soviet military assistance.

“That secret operation was an excellent idea. It [drew] the Russians into the Afghan trap. The day the Soviets crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: we now have the opportunity of giving the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow [carried[ on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire,” Brzezinski told Counterpunch in 1998.

However, the files indicate the US was not alone – Britain likewise covertly supported the Afghan rebels before the Soviet invasion.

On December 17 1979, 10 days prior to the Soviet Army’s entrance to the country, US Vice President Walter Mondale convened a meeting in the White House – officials agreed to discuss with Britain “the possibility of improving the financing, arming and communications of the rebel forces to make it as expensive as possible for the Soviets to continue their efforts.”

The UK duly agreed to train the jihadist resistance in Afghanistan, and send military specialists to support their efforts.

While the operation was carried out entirely in secret, Thatcher effectively acknowledged the policy – and its motivations – on January 28 the next year, during a parliamentary debate.

“If [the Soviet] hold on Afghanistan is consolidated, the Soviet Union will have vastly extended its borders with Iran, acquired a border over 1,000 miles long with Pakistan, and advanced to within 300 miles of the Straits of Hormuz, which controls the Persian Gulf.”

The files reveal while the US provided far more in financial and material terms to the Afghan jihad, the UK played a direct combat role, with covert British forces – in particular the SAS – practically supporting resistance groups.

Current and former SAS officers trained numerous jihadi forces at MI6 and CIA bases in Saudi Arabia and Oman, teaching them sabotage, reconnaissance, attack planning, arson, and how to use explosive devices, heavy artillery such as mortars, and attack aircraft, among other things.

The SAS also, in conjunction with US special forces, training Pakistan’s Special Services Group (SSG), which led insurrectionary operations in Afghanistan, in the hope officers could impart their learned expertise directly to jihadists in Afghanistan.

Mujahideen were also trained in the UK – snuck into the country as tourists, they spent three-weeks at a time in camps situated in Scotland and the North of England. A key trainer was Brigadier General Rahmatullah Safi, former senior officer in the royal Afghan army who, who’d lived in the UK since the 1970s.

He trained as many as 8,000, continuing to live in the UK well into the 1990s, when he was regarded by the United Nations as the Taliban’s key representative in Europe, by then the undisputed rulers of Afghanistan.

Another key individual supported by the UK was Hadji Abdul Haq, of the Hizb-i-Islami group. He was provided 600 ‘Blowpipe’ anti-aircraft missiles missiles and maps of Soviet military positions by MI6, and introduced to the CIA.

Unlike many other jihadist groups, Haq had no qualms about targeting innocent civilians, arranging the infamous September 1984 bombing at Kabul airport, which killed 28, and attacks on hotels.

Despite this, in March 1986 he was welcomed to the UK as a guest of Thatcher. An official spokesperson explained at the time the Prime Minister had “a degree of sympathy with the Afghan cause” as they were “trying to rid their country of invaders, which you cannot say of the ANC or PLO.”

In reality, far in excess of a “degree of sympathy” with Afghan fighters, by that point the UK’s role in the conflict entailed directly military involvement not only in Afghanistan, but the Central Asian republics of the Soviet Union.

MI6 organized and executed “scores” of terror strikes in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, on the basis Soviet Army troop supplies flowed from these areas – the first direct Western attacks on the Soviet Union since the 1950s. MI6 also funded the spread of extremist Islamic literature in the Soviet republics.

Soviet forces would eventually leave Afghanistan February 15 1989, leaving the government of Mohammed Najibullah to be overthrown in 1992. By 1996, the Taliban had taken control of the country, during which time strong restrictions were imposed on women, public executions were reinstituted, and international aid was prevented from entering Afghanistan, leading to thousands of deaths through starvation.

Consequences Ignored

The US/UK policy had significant ramifications not only for the future of Afghanistan, but the world. During the conflict, many individuals funded, armed and trained by the West formed militant groups, which in years to come would carry out terrorist attacks across the Middle East, Europe and North America.

For instance, the globally infamous Al-Qaeda was led and peopled by former members of the anti-Soviet jihadist resistance – in a July 8 2005 column for The Guardian, former UK Foreign Secretary Robin Cook noted the group’s leader, the now-slain Osama Bin Laden, was “throughout the 1980s” armed by “the CIA, and funded by the Saudis, to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan.”

“Al-Qaeda, literally ‘the database’, was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians,” Cook wrote.

Missing from Cook’s list of culpable parties were the British, and MI6. While there is no evidence of direct financial or material support given to Bin Laden by London in the files, he is known to have been granted entry to the UK on many occasions through the 1980s, speaking at several mosques and Islamic centers.

Moreover, several camps used by the mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan war, such as the infamous Tora Bora,were constructed with British funding – these camps would subsequently serve as training centers and planning hubs for domestic and international terror strikes by Al-Qaeda.

The weaponry supplied by the UK to extremist forces also assisted the efforts of extremist groups in Afghanistan and elsewhere. For instance, Blowpipe missiles have regularly been found in Taliban and Al-Qaeda arms-caches across the country since the 2001 US-led invasion – as late as 2010, the mainstream media was reporting the shoulder-fired missiles were a major threat to US troops.

In essence, the UK both directly and indirectly assisted in the global rise of Islamist terrorism in the wake of the conflict – were it not for their arms, supplies, training and funding, scores of extremists would lack the means and infrastructure to plan and conduct major atrocities.

January 29, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Monbiot Is a Hypocrite and a Bully

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | January 15, 2018

It is time for George Monbiot’s legion of supporters to call him out. Not only is he a hypocrite, but he is becoming an increasingly dangerous one.

Turning a blind eye to his behaviour, or worse excusing it, as too often happens, has only encouraged him to intensify his attacks on dissident writers, those who – whether right or wrong on any specific issue – are slowly helping us all to develop more critical perspectives on western foreign policy goals than has ever been possible before.

I do not lightly use such strong language against Monbiot, someone I once admired. But his column this week drips with hypocrisy as he accuses the right wing media of being the real villains when it comes to “no-platforming”. Monbiot writes:

But perhaps the real discomfort is that the worst no-platforming of all takes place within our newspapers. In the publications most obsessed with student silliness, there is no platform for socialism, no platform for environmentalism, no platform for those who might offend the interests of the proprietors. …

I believe that a healthy media organisation, like a healthy university, should admit a diversity of opinion. I want the other newspapers to keep publishing views with which I fiercely disagree. But they – and we – should also seek opposing views and publish them too, however uncomfortable this might be.

What free speech advocate would disagree with that? Except it is Monbiot himself who has been using his prominent platforms, at the Guardian and on social media, to discredit critical thinkers on the left – not with reasoned arguments, but by impugning their integrity.

Denied a platform

It started with his unsubstantiated claim that scholars like Noam Chomsky and the late Ed Herman, as well as the acclaimed journalist John Pilger, were “genocide deniers and belittlers”. It now focuses on childish insinuations that those who question the corporate media’s simplistic narrative on Syria are Assad apologists or in Vladimir Putin’s pay.

But worse than this, Monbiot is also conspiring – either actively or through his silence – to deny critics of his and the Guardian’s position on Syria the chance to set out their evidence in its pages.

The Guardian’s anti-democratic stance does not surprise me, as someone who worked there for many years. I found myself repeatedly no-platformed by the paper – even while on its staff – after I started taking an interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict and writing about the discomforting issue of what a Jewish state entails. My treatment is far from unique.

Now the paper is denying a platform to those who question simplistic and self-serving western narratives on Syria. And Monbiot is backing his employer to the hilt, even as he professes his commitment to the publication of views he fiercely disagrees with. That’s the dictionary definition of hypocrisy.

‘Selfless’ White Helmets?

The latest installment of the Guardian and Monbiot’s long-running battle to silence Syria dissidents arrived last month when Olivia Solon, the paper’s technology writer living in San Francisco, developed a sudden and unexpected expertise in a controversial Syrian group called the White Helmets.

In the western corporate media narrative, the White Helmets are a group of dedicated and selfless rescue workers. They are supposedly the humanitarians on whose behalf a western intervention in Syria would have been justified – before, that is, Syrian leader Bashar Assad queered their pitch by inviting in Russia.

However, there are problems with the White Helmets. They operate only in rebel – read: mainly al-Qaeda and ISIS-held – areas of Syria, and plenty of evidence shows that they are funded by the UK and US to advance both countries’ far-from-humanitarian policy objectives in Syria.

There are also strong indications that members of the White Helmets have been involved in war crimes, and that they have staged rescue operations as a part of a propaganda offensive designed to assist Islamic extremists trying to oust Assad. (Solon discounts this last claim. In doing so, she ignores several examples of such behaviour, concentrating instead on an improbable “mannequin challenge”, when the White Helmets supposedly froze their emergency operations, in the midst of rescue efforts, apparently as part of a peculiar publicity campaign.)

Guardian hatchet job

Whatever side one takes in this debate, one would imagine that Monbiot should have a clear agenda in support of hearing evidence from all sides. One might also imagine that he would want to distance himself from Solon’s efforts to tie criticism of the White Helmets to a supposed “fake news” crisis and paint those critical of the group as Putin-bots. According to Solon:

The way the Russian propaganda machine has targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study in the prevailing information wars. It exposes just how rumours, conspiracy theories and half-truths bubble to the top of YouTube, Google and Twitter search algorithms.

Those are the same algorithms that have been changed in recent months to make sure that prominent leftist websites are increasingly difficult to find on internet searches and their writers’ views effectively disappeared.

Yet Monbiot has been using social media to promote Solon’s cheerleading of the White Helmets and her hatchet job against on-the-ground journalists who have taken a far more critical view of the group.

As set out by Prof Tim Hayward, the Guardian’s response to criticism of Solon’s piece has been typical. The comments section below the article was hastily closed after many criticisms were voiced by readers. The journalists who were singled out for attack by Solon were denied a right of reply. A group of concerned academics led by Hayward who submitted their own article, which detailed publicly available evidence to counter Solon’s simplistic account of the White Helmets, were ignored. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s editors and the reader’s editor have ignored all efforts by these parties to contact them.

Given his claim to be an uncompromising defender of free speech and a fierce advocate of providing platforms to those who can back up their arguments with evidence, however discomforting, one might have assumed that Monbiot would at the very least have lobbied on behalf of Hayward and his fellow scholars. But not a bit of it. Yet again he has joined the dogs of the corporate media baying for blood. Instead he turned to Twitter to claim Hayward and Piers Robinson, an expert on propaganda, had “disgraced” themselves.

Undermining climate concerns

The many tens of thousands of leftists who defend Monbiot, or turn a blind eye to his hypocrisy, largely do so because of his record on the environment. But in practice they are enabling not only his increasingly overt incitement against critical thinkers, but also undermining the very cause his supporters believe he champions.

Climate breakdown is a global concern. Rewilding, bike-riding, protecting bees and polar bears, and developing new sustainable technologies are all vitally important. But such actions will amount to little if we fail to turn a highly sceptical eye on the activities of a western military-industrial complex ravaging the planet’s poorest regions.

These war industries fill their coffers by using weapons indiscriminately on “enemy” populations, spawning new and fiercer enemies – while often propping them up too – to generate endless wars. The consequences include massive displacements of these populations who then destabilise other regions, spreading the effect and creating new opportunities for the arms manufacturers, homeland security industries, and the financial industries that feed off them.

A true environmentalist has to look as critically at western policies in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela and many other areas of the globe as he does at UK policy in the Welsh hills and the Lake District.

All indications are that Monbiot lacks the experience, knowledge and skills to unravel the deceptions being perpetrated in the west’s proxy and not-so-proxy wars overseas. That is fair enough. What is not reasonable is that he should use his platforms to smear precisely those who can speak with a degree of authority and independence – and then conspire in denying them a platform to respond. That is the behaviour not only of a hypocrite, but of a bully too.

January 16, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Terrorists Keep Obtaining Weapons of States in US-led Coalition

 Sputnik – January 11, 2018

It’s been three days since Russia prevented a terrorist attack on its bases in Syria, with terrorists, as unexpected as it may seem, using sophisticated drones to strike the facilities.

Commenting on the issue, Pentagon said that the devices of such kind “could easily be obtained in the open market,” while the Russian Defense Ministry has stated that such technology could be supplied only by an advanced state.

While it is still being investigated, where did the terrorists get the technology? This is not the first time they have gotten access to advanced technologies, sometimes entirely by a chance.

Sputnik recaps the most resonant cases, when terrorist groups in the Middle East got hold of highly sophisticated weaponry.

Syrian MoD Report

In October 2017, the Syrian Defense Ministry released a report with footage of ammunition confiscated from numerous terrorist organizations, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front, now named Tahrir al-Sham, claiming that those weapons had been manufactured in the United States or by its close allies. The report outlined that those groups were supplied with “rockets, rifles, machine guns, anti-air weapons and even tanks” allegedly in exchange for oil from the territories. By a cruel twist of fate, those weapons happened to be a part of the routine “arms delivery” by the anti-Daesh coalition to the “moderate opposition”.

Anti-Aircraft Missiles

In August 2017, the Lebanese army, which has been engaged in rooting Daesh out from a northeastern region of Lebanon bordering Syria, discovered anti-aircraft missiles, among other weapons, in an abandoned area. Moreover, the Lebanese, who have apparently done a great job, uncovered surface-to-air missiles left by al-Nusra Front militants in an area captured by Hezbollah and then taken over by the army. As early as 2013, The New York Times reported that Qatar was sending MANPADS (“man-portable air-defense-system”) to Syria and said that these might potentially go straight to Al-Qaeda to shoot down civilian aircraft.

Rebel-fighters monitor the sky holding a man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) in the Syrian village of Teir Maalah, on the northern outskirts of Homs, on April 20, 2016.

Rebel-fighters monitor the sky holding a man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) in the Syrian village of Teir Maalah, on the northern outskirts of Homs, on April 20, 2016.


In 2015, Iraqi security forces lost 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles, supplied by the United States, when the northern city of Mosul collapsed. They were designed as a fast means to carry personnel and supplies to the battlefield, but later Daesh re-purposed them into car bombs with improvised explosive devices. Since then, Humvee car bombs became an integral part of the group’s military tactics due to the weapons’ devastating power and the vehicle’s ability to move fast.

Anti-Tank Missiles

By spring 2014, a year after then-President Barack Obama approved the first direct US military aid to rebel groups in Syria, the US-manufactured BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles began to appear in the hands of various anti-Bashar Assad groups. Subsequently, in November 2015, Russian journalists were attacked with the use of those ant-tank missile systems.

Supplies for Kurds

In October 2014, the Pentagon admitted that due to unforeseen circumstances, one of the airdrops initially intended for Kurds in the besieged Kobani, wound up in the hands of Daesh militants. The group immediately issued a video to boast of the newly-acquired weapons, which were meant to destroy them.


Probably everyone who has ever watched videos released by the terrorist group Daesh has noticed that jihadists have been driving Toyota trucks. Certainly, cars are not related to “sophisticated weapons,” but many have wondered how the famous car-maker wound up becoming part of the Daesh “brand”. Well, here’s an explanation: when the US State Department decided to send aid to Syrian rebels, their wish-list, among many other things, included 43 Toyota trucks, which would make it easier for them to move on the ground.


Attackers of Russian Bases in Syria Couldn’t Get Their Location From Net — MoD

US Weapons Went From Syrian Rebels to Daesh in Less than Two Months — Study

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

US, Israel step up hybrid war in Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | January 9, 2018

The Russian airbase in Syria, Hmeimim, and the naval base at Tartus came under simultaneous drone attack on Saturday. The advanced Russian air defence system thwarted the attack. A wave of 13 drones was involved, and, interestingly, three of them were brought down intact.

After forty-eight hours of careful analysis of the incident, the Russian Defence Ministry in Moscow came out with a statement on Monday:

  • During the hours of darkness Russian air defense facilities made clear 13 remoted unknown small-sized air targets approaching the Russian military assets. Ten combat UAVs were approaching Russia’s Hmeymim air base and three more — the logistics center of Tartus.
  • Engineering solutions used by terrorists when attacking Russian facilities in Syria could have been received only from a country with high technological potential on providing satellite navigation and distant control of firing competently assembled self-made explosive devices in appointed place. (TASS )

The countries with such “high technological potential” and capability for “Satellite navigation and distant control” which are involved in the proxy war in Syria are just two in number – United States and Israel. Take your pick. To my mind, it is improbable that Israel, despite its bravado, would dare to attack Russia.

In sum, there was a spiteful American attack on Russian “assets” on the Christmas Day of the Russian Orthodox Church. The statement in Moscow was made after evaluation of the 3 drones that have been captured. Its fairly explicit tone is meant for the folks in Pentagon. To be sure, Pentagon suo moto came out with a pre-emptive statement deflecting the blame to Syrian rebels. That is an act of plausible deniability, since there are rebel groups operating in northern Syria. But they are al-Qaeda affiliates, who are American and Israeli proxies. The RT has a tongue-in-cheek rejoinder, here, to the Pentagon disclaimer.

Why is the US contesting the Russian bases in Syria? The point is, these Russian bases are located in Latakia province along the Mediterranean coast. And the US military objective is to gain access to the Mediterranean coast for the Kurdistan enclave it is creating in Syria without which the enclave will be landlocked and dependent critically on supply routes via Turkey or Iraq, apart from being economically unviable (although it is an oil-rich region of Syria.)

The Saudi establishment daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Monday that the Trump administration is planning to grant diplomatic recognition to the Kurdistan enclave in northern Syria (which is of the size of Lebanon.) The idea is to create a permanent foothold for the US and Israel in a strategic, economically self-sufficient independent Kurdistan where the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Syria meet, and which may eventually reach Iran’s western border with northern Iraq.

But the US-Israeli strategy will remain a pipedream if the Kurdistsn is land-locked and continues to be challenged by Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Hence the criticality of creating an access route to the Mediterranean via Latakia province.

Russia and Turkey understand the US intentions perfectly well. That explains their latest move to clear the al-Qaeda affiliate groups that are ensconced in the Idlib province adjacent to Latakia. The Syrian government forces and its allied militia with Russian air support are advancing on Idlib in an operation that began last week. Idlib is a fairly big province and some protracted fighting is needed to vanquish these al-Qaeda groups. On Sunday, Syrian government forces captured a strategic town, Sinjar, which brings them within 20 kilometers of the sprawling air base at Abu Zuhour in Idlib. By the way, the highway connecting Damascus and Aleppo also passes through eastern Idlib.

Turkey is cooperating with Russia in clearing Idlib of the al-Qaeda groups. (Idlib borders Turkey.) Indeed, Turkey is staunchly opposed to the US efforts to create a Kurdistan in northern Syria. President Recep Erdogan openly threatened last weekend that Washington will “never be able to turn northern Syria into a terror corridor,” vowing to “hit them (US) very hard. They should know that we are determined on this. Areas that they consider as part of the terror corridor could turn out to be their graves.”

Conceivably, the recent attempts by the US and Israel to stir up turmoil within Iran is linked to all this. The US-Israeli game plan is to get Iran bogged down in internal issues. The Syrian and Iraqi governments are dependent on Iran and Hezbollah to do the heavy lifting in the war against the US-backed al-Qaeda and ISIS groups.

Tehran understands the US-Israeli strategy. The Iranian regime is highly experienced in defeating the US and Israel covert operations. The Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei understands that the Syrian conflict is also an existential battle for Iran. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commanders are on record that the choice is between fighting the US-Israeli proxies in Syria and Iraq or fighting them on Iranian soil.

How will Moscow react to the US-backed drone attack on its bases? A permanent solution lies in retaliating against the American forces and inflicting heavy casualties – like in Beirut in 1983. If a few dozen American body bags arrive in Washington from Syria, President Trump is sure to say, ‘Enough is enough, boys, come home.’

But the problem is that the US is fighting a “hybrid war”, embedded within the Kurdish militia and cannot be targeted easily. Pentagon has also inserted “contractors” (American mercenaries) so that political risk is minimized.

Therefore, Russia’s option will be to step up the operations to cleanse Idlib province of the al-Qaeda groups backed by US and Israel once and for all. Indeed, Nikki Haley will begin howling in the UN on Israeli instructions alleging “war crimes.”

Of course, as they say, all is fair in love and war and there is another option open to the Russians or Iranians, too – equipping the Afghan Taliban with drones. But they are unlikely to go that far — as of now, at least.

January 10, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

CIA Whistleblower: Reports of Iran, al-Qaeda Ties ‘Simply a Lie’

Sputnik – 04.01.2018

A new Pentagon report claiming that Iran supports terrorist groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaeda has been disseminated through American media outlets – but has come under fire for wishy-washy claims about said connections.

For instance, one supposed link came when Saad bin Laden, one of Osama bin Laden’s sons, fled to Iran after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the US. But what isn’t mentioned is that Saad and his family were detained upon arrival and placed under house arrest. Khalid bin Laden, another of Osama’s sons who was killed alongside him during the 2011 US Navy SEALs raid, accused the Iranians in 2010 of subjecting his family members to beatings and severe mistreatment.

Garland Nixon and Lee Stranahan of Radio Sputnik’s Fault Lines spoke to John Kiriakou, a CIA agent-turned-whistleblower who helped reveal the CIA’s torture program to the American public in 2007.

​”The whole thing rests on your definition of harbor,” said Kiriakou. “Osama bin Laden’s son [Saad] in the immediate aftermath of the [battle of Tora Bora in December 2001] fled to Iran with his wives and his children and a handful of hangers-on. They were promptly arrested at the border. They were not put under house arrest in some beautiful palace with servants and a view of the valley; they were put under arrest and put in a jail. If that’s harbored, man, I don’t want to be harbored.”

“Let me say something unequivocally: there was no cooperation between al-Qaeda and Iran, just like there was no cooperation between al-Qaeda and Iraq.” Kiriakou referenced a little-mentioned Taliban execution of Iranian diplomats a few years before 9/11: in 1998, in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, the Taliban rounded up and killed a number of Iranian diplomats in retribution for Tehran’s support of the Northern Alliance in their war against the Taliban in the 90s — the same Northern Alliance that the US supported when they invaded Afghanistan in October 2001.

“There’s no love lost between between the Taliban/al-Qaeda and the Iranians,” said Kiriakou. “I’m going to say it again unequivocally: there is no connection between Iran and al-Qaeda, this is being made up. There are other countries that would benefit from the proliferation of this lie — but that’s what it is, simply a lie.”

Nixon mentioned that the connection between al-Qaeda and Iran was drawn from a CIA document dump from early November, with all the articles appearing in a three-day period — almost as though the outlets had coordinated to make the story.

“This is what the CIA does to confuse people,” said Kiriakou. “There’s no analysis, there’s no vetting of the documents, they just dump it. This is exactly what the CIA complained was happening during the first four years of the Bush administration, where the president is coming out or his aides are coming out and saying, ‘there’s cooperation between the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda.’ There wasn’t.”

“But what was happening was that people in the [National Security Council] who had their own political agenda were passing the president raw intelligence that had not been vetted, not been analyzed by the directorate of intelligence. Well, the CIA is doing exactly the same thing now, but they’re using the press as their dupe. They’re just releasing this raw data taken off of Osama bin Laden’s computers and saying, ‘here it is!’ No analysis, no nothing.”

On Wednesday, former New York Times journalist James Risen published a story on The Intercept in which he claimed his skepticism that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was linked to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda were on multiple occasions buried by the Times’ editorial staff.

“My stories raising questions about the intelligence, particularly the administration’s claims of a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, were being cut, buried or held out of the paper altogether,” Risen wrote. “What angered me most was that while they were burying my skeptical stories, the editors were not only giving banner headlines to stories asserting that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, they were also demanding that I help match stories from other publications about Iraq’s purported WMD programs.”

Risen, and the others who were skeptical about the US intelligence community’s claims that Saddam had partnered with al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in order to garner support for the 2003 invasion, were vindicated by history when the alleged links were revealed to be false.

January 4, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Syrian Army Thwarts Israeli Plan to Control Mutual Border

Sputnik – 30.12.2017

On Saturday buses arrived in the villages of Mugr al-Mir and Mazaria Beit Jinn in the so-called ‘Hernon Pocket’ to transport the fighters of al-Nusra Front to Idlib and Daraa governorates. The pocket extended into government-held territory southwest of Damascus from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. According to a Syrian Arab Army (SAA) military strategic analyst, Brig. Gen. Heitham Hassun, the move will help liberate the southwestern part of Syria from terrorists.

“This will allow [the SAA] to free the entire southwestern region of Damascus from terrorists,” Brig. Gen. Hassun told Sputnik Arabic. “It is especially important to take under the SAA’s control [the territories] north of the province of Quneitra, which the Israelis had planned to manage with the assistance of the militants. Now, by retaking Mugr al-Mir and Mazaria Beit Jinn, the army will be able to conduct an operation to liberate all the terrorist-controlled areas adjacent to the occupied Golan Heights.”

The local government managed to strike a deal with the al-Nusra jihadists through intermediaries on joining the program of reconciliation and establish a ceasefire regime in the area. The victories of the SAA, which allowed the government forces to gain control over the dominant terrain, contributed to the success of the talks.

According to the military analyst, residents of local villages are making every effort to facilitate the advancement of the Syrian government forces. For instance, they provide information to the SAA about the location and the numerical force of jihadists.

Brig. Gen. Hassun said that, for its part, Israel is providing the extremists with intelligence concerning Syrian government troops. Additionally, the Israelis continue to supply weapons to terrorist groups and provide fire support if necessary, the military analyst underscored. It appears that Syria’s southern neighbor is unwilling to give up its plans for this part of Syria, the brigadier general suggested.

The Golan Heights remain an apple of discord for Damascus and Tel Aviv, prompting tit-for-tat strikes in border areas. Israel’s occupation of the western two-thirds of the Golan Heights (known in Syria as Quneitra governorate) prevents the states from signing a peace treaty. The annexation of the disputed area started during the Six-Day War in 1967 and has been repeatedly condemned by the UN in 1981 and 2008.

The eastern Golan Heights, which remained in Syrian hands following the Six-Day War and 1973 Yom Kippur War, became the target of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, as well as Daesh terrorists and other Syrian opposition forces, during the ongoing war.

Meanwhile, according to Sputnik’s source, on Friday the Syrian government forces expelled terrorists from the Abu Dali settlement in the north-east of Hama province.

Located on the border between Hama and Idlib, the settlement was used by the terrorists to disrupt the supplies from one city to another.

The SAA continues to crack down on terrorists following Russia’s partial withdrawal from Syria after a two-year-long aerial campaign. The decision to pull out was announced on December 11 by Russian President Putin, who specified, however, that the bases in Tartus and Hmeymim, as well as the center for Syrian reconciliation, would continue to operate.

On December 26, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu signaled that Russia has started to form a permanent group in Syria’s Tartus and Hmeymim. The Russian military contingent is armed with advanced weaponry systems including the cutting edge S-400 system, while S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, as well as the Bastion coastal missile systems with cruise missiles.

December 31, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bulgaria appeases US, Israel on bus probe

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi | Asia Times | February 7, 2013

CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts – The Bulgarian government on Tuesday made a mockery of its political independence by publicly implicating Lebanon’s Hezbollah in last year’s attack on an Israeli bus in the resort city of Burgas, despite the fact that its “official investigation is still going on”, Sofia has yet to make an official announcement and there is an absence of trustworthy evidence to back the claim.

Under pressure for months by Washington and Tel Aviv to name Hezbollah as the culprit for the attack that killed five Israelis and a Bulgarian bus driver, as well as the terrorist carrying the bomb, Sofia has appeased Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who within half hour of the bombing last July publicly pointed the finger at Hezbollah and Iran.

Unsurprisingly, Netanyahu was extremely gratified by the news from Sofia and wasted no time in calling on Europeans to put Hezbollah on their list of terrorist organizations, a significant move that would likely exacerbate the present civil rights of Muslims in Europe, particularly those who are involved in charitable fund raising for Hezbollah’s plethora of social welfare services in Lebanon.

The US government likewise conveniently interpreted as “conclusive” the preliminary finding in the Burgas investigation that the “military formation of Hezbollah might be involved” in that attack, to paraphrase carefully chosen words from Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

According to a Bulgarian expert, Professor Vladimir Chukov, Tsvetanov made a “hybrid statement” that “like Britain” makes the distinction between Hezbollah as a group and its “military wing”. “This is a hybrid situation that goes on to suggest that there is little chance that Bulgaria will name Hezbollah and Iran as culprits,” Professor Chukov has told the Bulgarian media.

Tell that to the mainstream media that wasted no time in its avalanche of reports that Bulgaria has implicated Hezbollah in the Burgas bombing. Case in point, in the various reports in the Wall Street Journal, London’s Guardian, BBC, etc, there is virtually no mention of the fact that there is no official position of the Bulgarian government as of yet, and that the investigation is still on-going. According to Professor Chukov, the interior ministry’s news leak was meant simply as “a test”. Yet by all indications this is a poor and politically motivated move by an official of the Bulgarian government.

Opposition’s stern warning

“It is obvious that Bulgaria’s government has chosen a political approach and is only repeating the interpretation alleged by Israel on the very next day following the attack, when the investigation had not even started,” said Sergey Stanishev, the head of Bulgarian Socialist Party, who is also the Chair of Party of European Socialists. “The investigation is currently under way and there is no way one can be talking about decisive evidence regarding the direct perpetrators, much less regarding the organization that is behind this tragic event … This is absolutely unjustified in view of national security and the risks that are taken with respect to people in Bulgaria.”

There is no dearth of suspicion in Bulgaria and beyond that the government official’s statement that the bombing “was most likely” the work of Hezbollah militants and that there are “obvious links” to Hezbollah is based less on hard facts and more on external political pressure. According to Minister Tsvetanov, two individuals – one Canadian and the other Australian – who have lived in Lebanon since 2006 and 2010 respectively, have been linked to the attack and “there is data showing” their “obvious links to Lebanon.”

Tsvetanov’s statements are backed by Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol, claiming that there is “reasonable assumption” based on “forensic evidence, intelligence sources and patterns in past attacks” that “point to Hezbollah’s involvement.” Not so according to Stanishev, who has labeled as “poor evidence” the data cited by officials to point accusatory fingers at Hezbollah. In fact, there is a great deal of contrary evidence to suggest the attack was a carefully orchestrated Israeli “false flag” operation aimed at smearing Hezbollah and Iran and pressuring the European Union to brand Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

False flag evidence ignored

The distinct possibility of an Israeli ‘false flag’ operation can be garnered by a careful and methodical examination of the public information, including the photographs, amateur videos and instant reports on the bus attack that occurred at exactly 5:30 pm last July 18, on the anniversary of the 1994 bombing in Argentina that Israel insists was the work of Iran and Hezbollah. That was perfect timing for Israel’s propaganda machine.

As stated in this author’s investigative article written immediately after the bus attack, there are at least 10 valid reasons to question the official story that a busload of Israeli tourists was the target of a terrorist bombing. [1] Lest we forget, the autopsy results in Sofia have shown that the dead terrorist was “white and had light eyes” and initially was identified as a member of al-Qaeda, much to the chagrin of Israelis who have shown zero interest in any suspect other than Hezbollah-Iran. [2]

To reiterate the gist of this author’s own probe of this matter, a good deal of evidence exists that suggest the targeted bus was empty and the only passengers hurt were inside the adjacent bus and received light injuries.

This author has carefully examined dozens upon dozens of photographs of the Israeli tourists in question, who no doubt would have received much worse facial and other bodily injuries if they were inside the targeted bus. After all, the severed head of the bomber had been discovered some 60 meters away from the bus and an instant video shows the bus in full flames, ie, impossible for the majority of 42 purported passengers, especially the elderly females seen on stretchers en route to the hospital in various photos, to escape with little or no bodily harm, thus warranting the following 10 questions:

1. Why the amateur video of the bus taken within seconds of the explosion doesn’t show anyone jumping down the bus?
2. Why so many passengers survived with only light hand and foot injuries in an explosion involving (according to the Bulgarian officials) three kilograms of TNT in front of the bus?
3. Why did the Israeli group known as Zakar appear immediately on the site and collected the bodies of the dead, per several images, when this should have been done by Bulgarians? Why was this group at the airport at that time? And where were the Bulgarian security officials during the whole time monopolized by the Zakar individuals (in yellow uniforms)? Indeed, the fact that the Bulgarians allowed the Zakar all over the crime scene and move the dead victims (who were then frisked quickly to Israel) speaks volumes about the travesty of police investigation in Bulgaria.
4. Why did the bomb kill the Israelis sitting in the back of the bus (per reports in the Israeli media) while simultaneously killing the bus driver in the front and leaving the vast majority of bus passengers only lightly harmed?
5. Why have some bus witnesses told the media that they tried to get out through the front door but found it locked and managed to get out through a “hole on the side” when both the videos and reports indicate an instant fire following the explosion engulfing the bus?
6. Why is there no report of any injuries to the bus driver in the next bus, which sustained major damage especially on the driver’s side? Could the bus driver killed be the one in the second bus?
7. Why was there no extra security precaution even though according to the Israeli media prior to the landing of Israeli passengers the tour company had received a call that they would be “greeted with two bombs”?
8. Why was the trunk of the targeted bus empty and no sign of any luggage (per numerous images that also show the inside of the bus and the absence of any section for luggage contrary to the claim of one of the Israeli passengers who is quoted widely)?
9. Why did the passport and license of purported terrorist remain intact despite the raging fire in the bus?
10. Why did Israel rush all the passengers back to Israel early next morning instead of allowing the Bulgarian investigators to interview them? After all, Israel made no similar attempt to protect the lives of thousands of other Israeli tourists vacationing in Burgas, bottom line since it had no real worries about any terrorist attack against them after having pulled off its spectacular ‘false flag’ that must surely be a source of current pride among its Mossad intelligence officials.

Mossad agents must be patting themselves on the shoulder now for a job well-done, but then again their script perhaps was too neatly executed, given Netanyahu’s instant finger toward Hezbollah and Iran, or the widespread use of a replica bus on full flame, which on closer examination shows to be different from the actual targeted bus.

The Israelis have now mastered the art of political manipulation and their latest victory in Bulgaria simply educates us about why they are ahead of the game and keep winning the battle for world public opinion.

1. Ten questions on Bulgaria bus attack, Critical Studies, July 31, 2012.

2. See Afrasiabi, Al-Qaeda emerges as Bulgaria bomb suspect, Asia Times Online, July 25, 2012.

Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (Westview Press) .

December 30, 2017 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment