A senior Turkish official says Ankara’s military incursion into Syria could last for years if necessary.
Turkish troops entered the Syrian territory in a sudden incursion which resulted in the occupation of Jarablus after Daesh left the city without resistance earlier this month.
Turkey has indicated that its eyes were now set on the Syrian city of Raqqah which is controlled by Daesh.
The senior Turkish official said on Friday a planned US offensive to retake Raqqah using Kurdish militia fighters would trigger an ethnic conflict there.
He said driving out Daesh from the Syrian city of al-Bab is also among the targets of Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkey was planning to send troops deeper into Syrian territory to establish what it calls a safe zone.
Damascus has condemned the incursion, denouncing it as a “flagrant breach” of its sovereignty.
Syria’s envoy to the UN Bashar Ja’afari said last week Turkey, along with the US and Israel, have moved from a proxy war to a “personal” one on the Arab state.
Turkey and Israel will mutually name ambassadors within 10 days as part of the normalization of ties, the Turkish official said.
Turkey says it is “more than ready” to work with Russia and Iran on a Syrian ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid to the war-torn country.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday he discussed the issues of ceasefire and humanitarian aid with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
“We are discussing the same issues with our ally Russia,” he said.
“We have to try harder for a ceasefire and political resolution. If Russia is prepared to cooperate with us on the ceasefire and humanitarian aid, we are more than ready,” he said.
Zarif had stopped in Ankara on Wednesday on his way back to Tehran from New York, where he attended the 71st Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
He held closed-door talks with Cavusoglu and Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim during the visit.
An unnamed Turkish diplomatic source said the conflict in Syria was among topics on the agenda of Zarif’s discussions.
This is the third round of talks between the Iranian and Turkish foreign ministers over the past two months.
Iran and Turkey differ over the crisis in Syria. Turkey supports militants, while Iran and Russia assist the Syrian government in its fight against foreign-backed terrorist groups, including Daesh.
Russia has been conducting airstrikes against Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria at the Syrian government’s request since September 2015. Iran has also been providing advisory assistance to the Syrian government.
On Thursday, Russia said there is a trend for cooperation with Turkey on Syria to be “constructive” now that Moscow and Ankara are mending their ties.
“If need be, joint actions are possible,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, without elaborating.
Earlier this month, Turkish troops entered the Syrian territory in a sudden incursion which resulted in the occupation of Jarablus after Daesh left the city without resistance.
On Sunday, Cavusoglu said Turkey was planning to send troops deeper into Syrian territory to establish what it calls a safe zone.
Kurdish witnesses said on Wednesday Turkey had killed six children and three women in an airstrike in the Syrian border town of Kahila.
Russia has denounced US projection of possible attacks on Russian cities by terrorists fighting in Syria, saying the statement amounts to an invitation to terrorism.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was outraged on Thursday after US State Department spokesman John Kirby said terrorists in Syria could launch attacks “against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.”
“We cannot interpret this as anything else apart from the current US administration’s de facto support for terrorism,” Ryabkov was quoted as saying.
“These thinly disguised invitations to use terrorism as a weapon against Russia show the political depths the current US administration has stooped to in its approach to the Middle East and specifically to Syria.”
Russia has been supporting the Syrian government in its push to take back Aleppo from Takfiri terrorists. The US also carries out airstrikes as well as operations on the ground through its special forces against what it calls Daesh targets.
However, with Syrian advances on Aleppo gaining momentum, US officials said on Wednesday that Washington had begun considering tougher responses to the assault on Aleppo, including military options.
Syrian army advances were interrupted first when the US brokered a ceasefire agreement with the Russians. The truce collapsed after US aircraft bombed Syrian army positions in Dayr al-Zawr, killing 82 soldiers.
The airstrike, which helped Daesh briefly overrun government positions in the area, was characterized by Washington as unintentional but Syria rejected the allegation.
“How could they (Daesh) know that the Americans are going to attack that position in order to gather their militants to attack right away and to capture it one hour after the strike?” Assad asked during an interview with the Associated Press last week.
Supply of new weapons
On Wednesday, a militant commander said foreign states have given extremists surface-to-surface Grad rockets of a type not previously supplied to them in response to the Aleppo offensive.
The Grad rockets with a range of 22 km and 40 km have been supplied in “excellent quantities” and will be used on battlefronts in Aleppo, Hama and the coastal region, militant commander Colonel Fares al-Bayoush told Reuters.
While Grad missiles have previously been supplied to militants, Bayoush said it was the first time this particular type had been delivered. Militants had previous stocks of the rocket captured from army stores, he added.
The Reuters news agency this week reported anonymous US officials as saying that the Obama administration was considering allowing Qatar and Saudi Arabia to arm militants with man-portable missiles.
The Middle East Eye news portal cited a source close to militants as saying that the US was resolved to prevent the fall of Aleppo and was preparing to allow its Persian Gulf allies to flood the city with shoulder-fired, anti-aircraft missiles.
“The US confirmed the green light to begin sending them to rebels through supply routes still open through Jordan and Turkey,” the source said.
“The US won’t let Aleppo fall. We can expect to see Syrian helicopters falling from the sky within weeks.”
On Wednesday, the US State Department warned it was considering the suspension of “bilateral engagement” in Syria “unless Russia takes immediate steps to end the assault on Aleppo and restore the cessation of hostilities.”
Ryabkov said Moscow saw no alternative to the original US-Russia plan to try to get a ceasefire in Syria and that Washington should focus on implementing it.
He said a seven-day ceasefire plan proposed by the United States was unacceptable however and that Moscow was proposing a 48-hour “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo instead.
Support for Fateh al-Sham Front
Meanwhile, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday US failure to separate “moderate” militants from terrorists is blocking the entire package of agreements.
Under the agreement, the US had undertaken to segregate the militants under its support from Takfiri groups such as the al-Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Sham Front but it has dragged its foot on the plan.
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry during a phone conversation that Fateh al-Sham Front had been receiving foreign support and American weapons.
In an earlier interview with German-language daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, a Fateh al-Sham commander identified only as Abu al-Ezz confirmed that the US is supporting the terror group, saying, “The Americans are on our side.”
In his conversation with Kerry, “Lavrov drew attention to the fact that a number of anti-government units which Washington calls moderate… were instead merging with Jabhat Fateh al-Sham,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
Earlier this year, the US blocked a Russian move in the United Nations to blacklist Ahrar al-Sham militants as a terrorist group.
The US holds Russia responsible for the violence in Aleppo and is threatening to break off all cooperation with Moscow in Syria, the State Department said. Russia is asking the US to live up to its obligation to separate US-backed opposition from terrorists.
In a phone conversation with the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday morning, the US Secretary of State John Kerry “expressed grave concern” over the “attacks on hospitals, the water supply network, and other civilian infrastructure in Aleppo” by the Russian and Syrian forces, State Department spokesman John Kirby said.
“The Secretary made clear the United States and its partners hold Russia responsible for this situation, including the use of incendiary and bunker buster bombs in an urban environment, a drastic escalation that puts civilians at great risk,” Kirby added.
The Russian foreign minister pointed out that a number of anti-government groups described by Washington as “moderates” refused to follow the ceasefire arranged by Russia and the US on September 9, instead choosing to side with Jabhat Al-Nusra and attack the Syrian Army alongside this Al-Qaeda branch.
Washington is preparing to suspend the “bilateral engagement” on Syria with Moscow, including the establishment of the Joint Implementation Center, unless Russia immediately halts the attack on Aleppo and restores the ceasefire, Kerry told Lavrov.
The US promised long ago to separate the rebels from terrorists and it needs to live up to that obligation, Lavrov told Kerry, bringing up the recent interview of an Al-Nusra commander about how the group is receiving outside support – including American weapons – as well as the statement of a Syrian opposition leader Riyad Hijab that he did not consider Al-Nusra terrorists.
Kerry’s belief that Russia was responsible for the ceasefire’s collapse is “absolutely mistaken” author and journalist Abdel Bari Atwan told RT.
It was Washington that did not follow through on to the deal, failing to separate what it called moderate opposition from terrorist groups, he said.
“I’m really scared about this ultimatum, because it seems like the US administration is going to escalate the [situation] in Aleppo,” Atwan told RT. “Things are really moving into a really dangerous zone here.”
The crescendo of US-led condemnations against Syria and Russia over alleged humanitarian crimes in Syria grows louder by the day. The eerie sense is that this «outcry» is being orchestrated as a prelude to a NATO-style intervention in Syria.
Such a NATO maneuver would follow the template for former Yugoslavia and Libya, leading to greater civilian deaths, territorial disintegration, a surge in regional terrorism and more international lawlessness by Western states.
The concerted, emotive appeals over the past week – bordering on hysteria – indicate a propaganda campaign coordinated between Washington and its Western allies, the mass media and the US-led NATO military alliance.
It was US ambassador the United Nations Samantha Power who led the chorus of accusations against Russia and its Syrian ally, using the Security Council emergency meeting last weekend to condemn «barbarism» of renewed violence around the northern Syrian city of Aleppo. Britain and France piled in with more unsubstantiated condemnations of war crimes, as did shameless UN officials, Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary general, and Staffan de Mistura, the UN’s special envoy to Syria.
Few people would countenance war, but surely Syria has the sovereign right to defend its nation from a foreign-fueled war on its territory. In all the lachrymose lecturing from the likes of Samantha Power, the pertinent question of who started this war in the first place gets lost in rhetorical fog.
Days later, NATO civilian chief Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement denouncing Russia and Syria for «blatant violation of international laws» in Aleppo, adding that the military actions by both were «morally totally unacceptable».
All the while, Western news media outlets have run saturation coverage of what they depict as a humanitarian hell in Aleppo, the strategic Syrian city where the final throes of the country’s nearly six-year war seem to be playing out.
The New York Times published an article with the gut-wrenching headline: ‘The Children of Aleppo, Syria, Trapped in a Killing Zone’.
It goes on to say: «Among the roughly 250,000 people trapped in the insurgent redoubt of the divided northern Syrian city are 100,000 children, the most vulnerable victims of intensified bombings by Syrian forces and their Russian allies.»
In a separate article, euronews.com reports: ‘Nowhere to hide’ – volunteer describes conditions inside Aleppo’.
The implication in the Western mass media is that Syrian and Russian air forces are bombarding indiscriminately across civilian districts of the city. The same desperate tone and bias is ubiquitous in all Western media outlets.
However, if we ascertain the sources for this saturation information, it turns out to be a limited range of anonymous «activists», or the Western-funded group known as the White Helmets, which purports to be a humanitarian response network, but which in actual fact is integrated with illegally armed insurgents, including the al Qaeda terror organization Jabhat al Fatah al Sham (al Nusra Front), as writer Rick Sterling details.
Western TV news outlets are routinely using video footage from the White Helmets, supposedly taken in the aftermath of air strikes on Aleppo. This is an astounding abdication of any journalistic ethics of independence and impartiality.
These same media outlets rarely, if ever, carry reports from the western side of Aleppo where a six-fold greater population – 1.5 million – live in government-held districts, compared with the «rebel-held» eastern quarter.
As independent writer Vanessa Beeley recently reported, some 600,000 people fled to the western side of Aleppo from the al Nusra-dominant stronghold on the eastern side. According to medics quoted by Beeley, the majority of the population in the eastern quarter are being held hostage as human shields by the insurgents, or as the Western governments and media call them «moderate rebels» and «activists». There are also credible witness reports of terrorists shooting at people fleeing from the east through humanitarian corridors set up by the Syrian government.
In recent weeks, hundreds of civilians in the western districts of Aleppo have been killed from indiscriminate shelling and sniping by militants from the eastern side.
When do you ever hear or read the Western media reporting on those crimes? You don’t, because that would unravel the propaganda narrative aimed at demonizing, criminalizing and delegitimizing the Syrian government and its Russia ally.
And a key leitmotif of the official Western narrative is to create the perception that innocent civilians in Aleppo are being slaughtered by Syria and Russian forces. Both Damascus and Moscow reject claims that they are targeting civilian areas. Moscow has vehemently refuted Western claims that it is committing war crimes. Even the normally jingoistic US outlet Radio Free Europe quotes a legal expert from Amnesty International as saying that there is no evidence to indict Russia of such crimes.
And because the anti-government militants restrict access to their stronghold, including for UN aid agencies, it is hard to verify the claims and footage coming out of there. Which notwithstanding has not restrained Western media from broadcasting the information verbatim.
The Western mantra of «humanitarian crisis» and «war crimes» has the unmistakable connotation of contriving a public acceptance of certain policy objectives that Washington and its allies are striving for. At the very least, one of those objectives is to create a political atmosphere whereby Syria and Russia are obliged to comply with calls for no-fly zones, as recently demanded by US Secretary of State John Kerry. So far, Syria and Russia have rebuffed any such initiative, saying that it would give succor to the illegally armed groups who are now decisively in retreat.
Still, a more far-reaching objective could be Washington and its allies fostering a public mandate for military intervention by the NATO alliance. The outcry over «humanitarian suffering» in eastern Aleppo is a repeat of the «responsibility to protect» (R2P) ploy which NATO invoked to previously intervene and dismember former Yugoslavia in the late 1990s, and a decade later in Libya in 2011.
The US official inimitably qualified for such a political objective is Washington’s ambassador at the UN – Samantha Power. Her recent diatribes against Russia show a total disregard for diplomatic or legal protocol. Suffused with self-righteousness and selective «humanitarian» concern, Power is evidently leading a media campaign to mandate a NATO force being deployed to Syria’s Aleppo in order to «protect the children trapped in a killing zone» as the New York Times might put it.
Forty-six-year-old Power has made her entire professional career out of formulating the «R2P» doctrine that has in the past well-served Washington’s imperialist goals.
As a young reporter in the 1990s, Power wrote one-sided screeds about ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Balkans, which conveniently demonized Serbia, culminating in the NATO bombing of Belgrade in 1999 and the subsequent carve up of Kosovo to become a NATO base. For this service to imperial interests, she was subsequently rewarded with a professorship at Harvard University and a Pulitzer-prize-winning book about genocide, a book which eminent scholars like Edward Herman have debunked as a load of plagiarism and self-serving historical distortions.
The fiery, Irish-born Power was later promoted by President Barack Obama as an advisor on his National Security Council. It was in this position that she pushed the policy of NATO bombing Libya in 2011 with a reprise of her «R2P» doctrine.
These NATO military assaults facilitated by emotive appeals to «humanitarian values» have since been shown to be reckless violations of international law amounting to foreign aggression. Earlier this year, the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was officially exonerated over war crimes allegations, charges that NATO had leveled to justify its bombardment of his country. Also, earlier this month a British parliamentary committee denounced former prime minister David Cameron for his involvement in the NATO intervention in Libya as being unfounded on claims that then Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was preparing to slaughter residents in the city of Benghazi.
But it was s0-called «liberal hawks» like Samantha Power who were instrumental in providing political and moral cover for Washington and the NATO military to conduct these illegal foreign invasions and regime changes under the pretext of protecting human rights and civilian lives.
Obama assigned his useful apparatchik Samantha Power to the United Nations in August 2013, where she has proven to be completely out of her depth in terms of diplomatic finesse. She has infused her position on the Security Council with anti-Russian vitriol in the pursuit of Washington’s hegemonic interests, regardless of international law or objective historical analysis.
The «humanitarian» propaganda drumbeat over Aleppo belies the facts and circumstances of Washington’s covert war for regime change in Syria. A dirty war in which it and its NATO allies have colluded with a proxy army of terrorist gangs, as this recent German media report by Jurgen Todenhofer confirms.
Faced with a losing covert war in Syria, through the defeat of its terror proxy forces, it appears that Washington is striving for a more robust intervention in the guise of NATO military deployment, perhaps as «peacekeepers» overseeing a no-fly zone, as seen previously in Libya with disastrous results.
Emoting about humanitarian concerns is a well-worn prelude for NATO barbarism on behalf of Washington’s geopolitical interests. Crocodile tears followed by bombs. And no better person to carry out this subterfuge than UN ambassador Samantha Power.
Contrary to the incessant grandstanding by US and British politicians that they are committed to promoting freedom, democracy and peace around the world, the evidence proves that the Anglo-American establishment is in the business of war, destabilization and conflict creation. On top of the numerous imperial wars in the Middle East and North Africa that the Anglo-American establishment has spearheaded, the true nature of these two powers is further confirmed by the fact that Britain is now officially the second biggest arms dealer on the planet, second only to the US.
On average over the last decade, Britain has sold more weapons than Russia, China and France, according to the UK Trade and Investment department. Two-thirds of the weapons have been sold to Middle Eastern countries since 2010, fuelling many of the deadly conflicts in the region. Recipients of British weapons include 22 of the 30 countries on the UK governments own human rights watch list, further illustrating the complete hypocrisy of British politicians.
Britain has supplied an array of deplorable powers with military hardware, many of which are involved in committing atrocities with those weapons: including illegally supplying Saudi Arabia with Eurofighter Typhoon jets and missiles that have been used in the abhorrent war on Yemen; supplying Israel with arms that have been used in the IDF’s frequent massacres of Palestinians; in addition to selling shotguns, stun grenades and teargas, to the regime in Bahrain – which have been used to suppress protests in the country.
When the US and Britain are not busy killing Syrian soldiers who are fighting against ISIS, they are flooding the most war-torn region on earth (thanks to Western wars) with weapons. The likes of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and BAE Systems, have been making a killing off the perennial wars we have seen in the 21st century. The new Western-manufactured Cold War 2.0 has also proved to be beneficial for the war giants, as this is used to justify exorbitant defense/war budgets.
The power and influence of war contractors is nothing new in the West however. In his farewell address to the nation in 1961, the 34th President of the US, Dwight D. Eisenhower, warned the American people of the dangers of this insidious “military-industrial complex:”
“This conjunction, of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry, is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government. We recognise the imperative need for this development, yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications… In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”
It is clear that Eisenhower’s warning fell on deaf ears, as the nefarious influence of the military-industrial complex has only grown since he made his historic speech. The amount of money the US spends on defence is staggering comparative to the rest of the world, with the 2015 US defense budget more than three times the size of China’s, and more than nine times the size of Russia’s. The American taxpayer has been filling the pockets of the CEOs of the war giants for too long now, with the decade-and-a-half since 9/11 proving to be an immensely profitable period for these immoral contractors.
Russia Now Earns More from Agriculture than Arms
Whilst the US and Britain are leading the world in arms sales, Russia is now earning more from agricultural exports than arms sales. Last year, Russia replaced the US as the largest producer and exporter of wheat, with grain production increasing in Russia over the past six years. Russia has also established herself as one of the main leaders of the organic revolution that we have seen sweep the world in recent years, as the toxicity of GMO becomes blatantly evident for all to see.
Western aggression is, and will continue to be, the most destructive force on earth. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, have brought nothing but misery and devastation to these countries. The West’s proxy war in Syria brought further destabilization and chaos to the region, as well causing the refugee and migrant crisis that has gripped Europe. The 2013-14 colour revolution in Ukraine and the subsequent war in the country serves as yet another example of the pernicious fruits of Western imperialism. If we add on top of all this carnage, the US-led drone wars and the Anglo-American dominated arms industry, there is no question that the Anglo-American war machine is the greatest impediment to global stability today.
With the Syria ceasefire in tatters, there is a growing possibility that wealthy Gulf states might arm Syrian rebels, looking to shield themselves from Syrian and Russian warplanes, with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, according to a report.
One US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that Washington has kept high numbers of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), considered to be a threat to low-flying aircraft, out of Syria by uniting Western and Arab allies behind sending training and infantry weapons to moderate opposition groups while the US conducted talks with Russia.
Fed up with dancing to Washington’s tune, Gulf allies or Turkey may sooner or later silently agree to wealthy individuals supplying MANPADS to opposition groups in Syria, another US official said.
“The Saudis have always thought that the way to get the Russians to back off is what worked in Afghanistan 30 years ago – negating their air power by giving MANPADS to the Mujahideen,” an unnamed US official told Reuters.
“So far, we’ve been able to convince them that the risks of that are much higher today because we’re not dealing with a Soviet Union in retreat, but a Russian leader who’s bent on rebuilding Russian power and less likely to flinch,” the official added, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Asked if Washington planned to do “anything other than pursue a diplomatic solution” to halt the violence in Syria, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said anyone pouring more weapons into the conflict will only add more fuel to the fire.
“I think that those who may be deluded into thinking there’s a military solution also have to realize, and we’ve alluded to this before, that there are those – and not the United States – but there are those who back various groups and opposition groups within Syria who also may seek to arm them. And again, what you have as a result is just an escalation in what is already horrific fighting. As I said, things could go from bad to much worse,” Toner said.
Another administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Reuters, noted, however: “The opposition has a right to defend itself and they will not be left defenseless in the face of this indiscriminate bombardment.”
The official stated that some other US “allies and partners” have been also involved in the US-Russia talks on the conflict in Syria.
“We don’t believe they will take lightly to the kind of outrages we’ve seen in the last 72 hours,” the administration official said, noting that he would not comment on “the specific capability that might be brought into the fight.”
On Monday, the German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger published an interview with an Al-Nusra commander in Syria, identified as “Abu Al-Ezz,” who said that US allies were providing Al-Nusra with tanks and artillery.
“The Americans are on our side,” Al-Ezz reportedly said, adding that Al-Nusra has allegedly been receiving funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, and has obtained tanks and artillery from Libya via Turkey. The group especially appreciated the US-supplied TOW anti-tank missiles, he alleged.
While admitting that its allies in the region may be arming Al-Nusra militants, the US government has categorically denied that it is providing any aid to them.
“That’s complete poppycock. Whatever he’s saying, no.
“We would never provide Nusra with any kind of assistance at all,” State Department spokesman Toner told reporters on Monday.
Asked why the US has been unable to persuade the “moderate opposition” in Syria to separate itself from Al-Nusra, Toner replied that it was the rebels’ responsibility, and that they would need a seven-day ceasefire to do so.
Tensions escalated after US-led coalition jets bombed Syrian government forces’ positions near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, killing 62 troops on September 17. The incident dealt a serious blow to the Syrian ceasefire deal, which Moscow and Washington agreed to earlier this month, with the Syrian Army General Command saying the airstrike “paved the way” for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants.
The bombing was stopped only after the Russian military contacted the US side several times, saying that they were attacking the wrong targets.
Washington acknowledged the airstrike against the Syrian troops and even apologized for the mistake.
The speaker of the People’s Council of Syria said on Monday that Damascus has a recording of conversations between the American military and Islamic State terrorists ahead of the US-led coalition airstrike that hit Syrian troops near Deir ez-Zor.
“The Syrian Army intercepted the communications between the Americans and Daesh [Arabic pejorative for Islamic State] ahead of the attack on Deir ez-Zor,” Hadiya Khalaf Abbas said, as cited by Sputnik Arabic.
During his speech at the UN General Assembly over the weekend, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem also stated that the bombing of Syrian troops by the US-led coalition was a deliberate attack, not a mistake as Washington claims.
On September 19, a humanitarian convoy consisting of 31 trucks was attacked while heading to Aleppo. According to the Red Cross, 20 civilians and one aid worker died as a result. Initial reports by the organization claimed the convoy had been targeted by an airstrike. The US State Department was quick to blame Damascus and Moscow for the attack which led the UN to suspend aid deliveries to Syria. The day after the attack, the UN backtracked on its earlier claims that the convoy was hit by military planes.
The Russian Defense Ministry stated that Russian and Syrian warplanes did not launch airstrikes on the aid convoy that was attacked en route to Aleppo. The ministry added that only militants who control the area had information regarding the location of the convoy.
© Sputnik/ Zahraa Al-Amir
The international community bears responsibility for what is happening in Syria and should do more to help Lebanon hosting a huge Syrian population, an adviser to the Lebanese Democratic Party (LDP) leader told Sputnik.
“They are giving us nothing absolutely… even though the international community is the one responsible now for what is happening to Syria and in Syria,” Saleem Hamadeh said.
Lebanon, alongside Jordan and Turkey, has been a key destination for thousands of Syrian refugees fleeing the five-year-long war in the country.
According to Hamadeh, Lebanon now hosts around 1,750,000 Syrians, which is a third of its own population.
“I think that international community should give us support in this, financial support and give us direct path on how to deal with this serious issue which will affect the demography of the Lebanese people and our country,” Dr. Hamadeh said.
There are concerns that many Syrians plan to stay in Lebanon after the Syrian crisis has been resolved, the adviser to the LDP president said. The UN relief agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, estimates that Palestinians living in Lebanese refugee camps make up 10 percent of the country’s population.
Al-Nusra Front is a terrorist group and the US will never provide it with any aid, said the State Department, reacting to revelations in a German newspaper – while admitting that unnamed US allies might be backing the jihadist militants in Syria.
On Monday, the German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger published an interview with an Al-Nusra commander in Syria, identified only as “Abu Al-Ezz.” In the interview, conducted 10 days ago outside of Aleppo, Al-Ezz said that US allies were providing Al-Nusra with tanks and artillery.
“The Americans are on our side,” Al-Ezz reportedly said.
The US government has categorically denied providing any aid to Al-Nusra, while admitting awareness that its allies in the region may be arming the militants.
“That’s complete poppycock,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at the press briefing Monday. “Whatever he’s saying, no.”
“We would never provide Nusra with any kind of assistance at all,” Toner continued, explaining that the group is a designated foreign terrorist organization.
Asked why the US has been unable to persuade the “moderate opposition” in Syria from separating itself from Al-Nusra, Toner replied it was the rebels’ responsibility, and that they would need a seven-day ceasefire to do so.
He blamed the Syrian government offensive against East Aleppo, which he said would drive “some of those forces, not all of them” into the arms of Al-Nusra. If the Syrian government continues to insist on the military solution, “there are those – not the US – who back various opposition groups in Syria, who might also seek to arm them,” and that would lead to escalation, Toner said.
Asked to clarify if that meant that US allies might be arming Al-Nusra, Toner replied that “countries that support the opposition may want to supply them with assistance.”
Al-Nusra has been receiving funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, and has obtained tanks and artillery from Libya via Turkey, according to what the commander, Al-Ezz, told the German newspaper. The group especially appreciated the US-supplied TOW anti-tank missiles.
“The missiles were given directly to us,” he said. “They were delivered to a certain group.”
The issue of Al-Nusra receiving outside aid was brought up by Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, at the special session of the Security Council on Sunday.
“They are armed by tanks, APCs, field artillery, multiple rocket launchers… All of this has been received by them and is still being shipped to them by generous Western backers, with the US, presumably, turning a blind eye,” Churkin said.
“We have to see proof that there is a genuine desire to separate US-allied rebel groups from the Al-Nusra Front, then destroy the Al-Nusra Front and bring the opposition into a political process. Otherwise our suspicions that this was only meant to shield the Al-Nusra Front would only grow stronger,” the Russian envoy added, referring to the ceasefire agreed between Moscow and Washington that collapsed last week.
On Monday, however, the State Department talked about expecting “significant gestures” from Russia or the Syrian government to “restore their credibility” so the talks might continue, suggesting that the Syrian government should stand down its air force and cease the offensive on East Aleppo.
“The ball is somewhat in Russia’s court right now,” said Toner. However, he said the US was not ready to walk away from the talks. “If you’re asking about the legendary Plan B, we’re not there yet.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shrugged off the US rhetoric about Aleppo, however, pointing out that it was the US airstrike against the Syrian Army position besieged by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) that ended the ceasefire.
“I would like to emphasize that the Americans and their Western allies, for one thing, want to distract public attention from what had happened in Deir ez-Zor,” Lavrov told NTV on Monday.
If the British Empire was built on the playing fields of Eton, United States world hegemony gets its training in Hollywood studios and advertising agencies. Selling your product, or yourself, by looking sincere is a cultivated American art. Current top U.S. leaders are expert practitioners.
In the space of a few days, Samantha Power, John Kerry, and Barack Obama all turned in war-winning performances.
Three Deadly U.S. Blows to Hopes of Peace In Syria
Last August 8, on that serious think tank the Charlie Rose show, former acting CIA director Michael Morell said that U.S. policy in Syria should be to make Iran and Russia “pay a price”. Russians and Iranians should be killed “covertly, so you don’t tell the world about it”, he said. Morell proposed that U.S. forces begin bombing Syrian government installations, in order to “scare Assad”. Probably angling for a good job next year, he is on record supporting Hillary Clinton as a “highly qualified commander in chief” and a “strong proponent of a more aggressive approach” in Syria.
Act I – An Act of War
Then, on Saturday, September 17, the U.S. Air Force did exactly what that CIA insider had called for. In sustained air strikes, four U.S. jets bombed a key Syrian Army position that had been defending the town of Deir ez-Zor from ISIS/Daech fighters. More than sixty Syrian soldiers were killed and over a hundred wounded. Daesh forces immediately took advantage of the strikes to overrun the government position. In effect, the U.S. Air Force acted as air cover for the Islamic fanatics U.S. to advance against the legitimate army of Syria.
This was not only a violation of the cease-fire painstakingly worked out by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. It was an open military aggression by the United States on the territory of a sovereign state.
The Russians immediately called an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to respond to this deadly violation of the truce supposedly intended to facilitate peace negotiations and humanitarian aid. When Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin took the floor to speak, his American counterpart, Samantha Power, draped in her long red mane, walked out to give a press conference that clearly illustrated the difference between Russian and U.S. diplomacy.
Churkin, like Lavrov a few days later, cited facts and analysed the situation rationally. Samantha Power put on a show of evasion and insults.
Why all the fuss? was her opening theme. After all, we halted the attack when we were informed that “it was possible we might be hitting Syrian regime personnel and vehicles”, she stated, adding that “if” we did so, “that was not our intention”. That should settle the question; who could believe that the United States might deliberately attack the regime their politicians have been saying “must go”?
The best defense is offensive, and Power can be most offensive:
“Even by Russia’s standards, tonight’s stunt – replete with moralism and grandstanding is uniquely cynical and hypocritical”, she declared.
Samantha Power, that conniving arriviste whose carefully constructed career has been built on moralism, grandstanding, cynicism and hypocrisy, had all the nerve in the world to turn these epithets against the prime target of her own habitual moralism, grandstanding, cynicism and hypocrisy.
If the air strikes hadn’t been enough to destroy Russian confidence in dealing with the United States, Samantha Power’s contemptuous reaction was sure to do the trick.
Act II – Change the Subject
Next ploy: change the subject. Our little accidental bombing is nothing, Power implied, compared to the alleged fact that “since 2011 the Assad regime has intentionally been striking civilian targets with horrifying, predictable regularity”. Here is the core of the Samantha Power fraud, containing two elements:
1/ While good-hearted bumbling America occasionally kills a few people by accident, the others do it all the time and above all intentionally.
2/ Killing civilians is what war is all about. War is not about battles between armed forces for control of territory. It is not about geopolitical power struggles. It is about “civilian victims”.
At the close of her stunt, grandstanding and scoring cheap points, Samantha Power exhorted Russia “to stop the cheap point scoring and the grandstanding and the stunts and focus on what matters, which is implementation of something we negotiated in good faith with them.” Good faith? They are supposed to believe we negotiated “in good faith” an agreement which we just flagrantly destroyed?
Lo and behold, only two days after the U.S. bombing of Deie ez-Zor, the subject was definitively changed when an international humanitarian aid convoy was attacked on its way to Aleppo. Twenty aid workers were killed and the aid mission was halted. Without waiting for any evidence, the unanimous cry went up from Washington that “the Russians did it!”
In the U.N. Security Council this time, John Kerry took the stage. Again, the critical point was the contrast between what we certainly did and what they allegedly did. Yes, we committed “a terrible accident”. But what they (allegedly) did was worse.
“I got to tell you, people running around with guns on the ground, from the air, is a very different thing from trucks in a convoy with big UN markings all over them,” Kerry declared. He was implying that the difference was between an understandable accident, whose victims were “running around with guns”, and an attack on civilians. Yes, but in war, attacking soldiers is the whole point. It can make a difference in the outcome. Hitting an aid convoy is “collateral damage”, as the U.S. calls it when the bombs are American. By bombing Deir ez-Zor, the United States was taking part in a war in which Syria is fighting for its life.
It cannot be ruled out that Syrian forces attacked the aid convoy because the truce was already broken at Deir ez-Zor and they believed it concealed weapons being transported to Daesh. Such things happen. Or the attack could have been carried out by rebels as an act of propaganda, a “false flag”, designed precisely to be used to accuse the adversary. Such things also happen.
It has already been established by careful research that the notorious Al Ghouta chemical weapons attack, attributed to Assad, was almost certainly carried out by rebels precisely in order to incite the United States to cross the “red line” set by President Obama and bomb Damascus. The War Party which by now controls the Pentagon, much of the State Department, most of Congress, as well as leading media and think tanks, has been castigating Obama ever since for not having seized that opportunity to wage a full-scale “regime change” war against Syria. The critics have never forgiven Obama for accepting the Russian proposal to use the occasion to rid Syria of its chemical arsenal, instead of overthrowing the Syrian government.
But in recent weeks, as the Hillary Clinton campaign grows more frantic, Obama himself has joined the War Party.
Act III – Wallow in Sentimentality
On September 20, President Obama used a Leaders Summit on Refugees to portray the Syrian episode in what increasingly appears to be World War III as a sentimental children’s story. Obama read the letter from 6-year-old Alex, who lives in Scarsdale, New York, expressing his wish to adopt Omran Daqneesh, the bewildered 5-year-old boy with a mop of dusty hair whose photo sitting in an orange ambulance seat was iconized across the world. The letter, provided to mass media by the White House, with its childish writing but nearly perfect spelling, was full of touching details about butterfly collections and shared toys. Obama read the letter, as people reached for Kleenexes all over the country, and then commented:
“Those are the words of a six-year-old boy – a young child you has not learned to be cynical, or suspicious, or fearful of other people because of where they come from, how they look, or how they pray. We should all be more like Alex. Imagine what the world would look like if we were.”
The little boys are very cute, very sweet. Fortunately, Omran Daneesh’s parents are alive, so there is no need to adopt him. Many other children are dead, notably in Yemen, killed by Washington’s ally Saudi Arabia with arms provided by the United States. Too late to adopt them.
“We should all be more like Alex”, Obama tells his good people. Imagine indeed, if all Americans were as innocent and naïve as six-year-old children. And indeed, that seems to be the goal of government propaganda.
This propagandistic heartstring tugging is aimed at distracting from U.S. involvement in a long-term joint criminal enterprise to overthrow a government that indeed did not discriminate against people because of “how they pray”, and replace it by fanatics who are ready to behead people because of “how they pray”.
An infantilized public will believe that “geopolitics” and “national sovereignty” are just big words that don’t mean anything. An infantilized public will believe that when the United States goes to war, it is all about protecting little children from their bad, mean dictators, whose only aspiration is to “bomb their own people”. They will believe that the world out there is Little Red Riding Hood, threatened by the Big Bad Wolf, and that there really is a Santa Claus.
It will never occur to an infantilized public that the war to destroy Syria has been planned for years – even though someone like General Wesley Clark revealed this years ago. Or that it is carried out to eliminate Israel’s enemies, keep Arabs busy killing each other, and incidentally help Saudi Arabia spread its Wahhabite fanaticism. No, that will never occur to them.
They won’t even notice that the Obama administration has now effectively given up any effort to justify the Nobel Peace Prize so foolishly bestowed on the apprentice president, and is now engaged in a scenario designed to prepare for Hillary’s next successful regime change war in Syria.
And it won’t occur to them that the photo of the little boy in the orange seat was quite deliberately iconized by Western media as part of the campaign promoting the Islamic rebel-connected “White Helmets” for the future Nobel Peace Prize.
Another subtle step in demonizing the “Assad regime” before Hillary takes over to administer the planned coup de grace. The future chuckler-in-chief is looking forward to seeing another head fall. This is called “smart power”.
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at email@example.com
Units of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) supported by the Palestinian Liwa Al-Quds liberated the Palestinian Handarat refugee camp in Aleppo province from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusrah.
The Handarat refugee camp is located 13 kilometers northeast of the city of Aleppo. The 14 Palestinian refugee camps, including Handarat were reluctantly drawn into the war in Syria after its onset in 2011.
Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusrah, conceded that the Syrian Arab Army and fighters from the Palestinian Liwa al-Quds had succeeded to seize the camp. The insurgents reported that the Syian – Palestinian ground troops were supported by Syrian as well as Russian air cover.
Bomb squads and engineers are currently in the process of clearing Handarat for boobie traps, mine, improvised explosive devices and other hazards left behind by the insurgents or caused by the fighting; Anong others, unexploded ordinance.
The liberation of the Handarat camp from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and associated insurgents consolidates the Syrian government’s control over the Castello road and thus also consolidates the siege on insurgent trapped inside the city of Aleppo. The Castello road has previously been used as one of the main supply routes to areas under the control of insurgents in Aleppo province.
In the beginning of August 2016 insurgents, primarily backed by Turkey, Qatar and the USA, took control of the entire Handarat camp after heavy and protracted battles with the Syrian Arab Amy and Palestinian fighters.
The camp has a strategic importance as it overlooks several rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo, which has become under tight government siege after the Syrian army captured Castello.
The Syrian Defense Ministry announced Thursday the commencement of a new offensive against rebel-held areas in eastern Aleppo, urging the civilians to leave immediately and the rebels to lay down their weapons. On Friday, Syrian warplanes dropped leaflets over eastern Aleppo, renewing calls on civilians to stay away from the rebel positions and advising the rebels to surrender.
The renewed escalation in Aleppo came just days after a Russian-U.S. brokered truce expired last Monday with no extension, due to the rising tension between Russia and the United States.
The Syrian army stated that the rebels violated the week-long truce over 300 times, adding that the U.S.-led coalition struck positions of the Syrian army during the truce in Deir Ez-Zour, killing 90 soldiers, which was deemed by Russia as the biggest violation to the truce.
The U.S.-led attack on Syrian army positions in Deir al-Zour (Deir Ez-Zor) was the first since the coalition started operations in Syria two years ago. Washington said the attack was “unintentional,” a claim totally rejected by the Syrian government, with President Bashar al-Assad saying the U.S.-led coalition intentionally struck the Syrian army posts in Deir Ez-Zor.
Before the externally-orchestrated dirty war on Syria started with the externally-orchestrated “Arab Spring” psy op; before the “peaceful protestors” shot the unarmed Syrian security forces; and before the West armed, trained and funded the international mercenary cannibals who loot, rape, and plunder; Syria was an oasis of civilization surrounded by imperial puppet states.
Syria was prosperous, with a growing economy. It had food sovereignty, with a “strategic” stock of millions of tons of high quality wheat , not the “Franken-food” bio-tech variety; it had a strong central bank with no usurious IMF loans; it had a popular, reformer President; it had a mostly well-educated, secular, pluralist, forward-looking population; and it was the fourth safest country in the world.
After almost six years of illegal war launched by some of the most militarily advanced countries, and years of illegal sanctions imposed by these same criminal governments – including Canada’s puppet government – Syria is still standing strong. It still has a popular, elected President and government. And it is still a beacon of civilization.
Despite the collective punishment of sanctions and the terror of war, Syrians remain defiant. Arabi Shaher exemplified this defiance when he said,” Do whatever you like, this is our country; it will remain our country.” He, like many Syrians, sees through the lies. And his appraisal of the root cause of the war is openly shared by many Syrians: Israel.
Israel and its allies “benefit” from a balkanized and destroyed Syria. Even conflicting pipeline interests are subordinated by Israel’s perceived needs as presaged by the Oded Yinon plan. Syrians commonly report that Israel first and foremost, and its allies, are the number one agents driving the current holocaust. These interests are said to subordinate the “oil” interests. Same in Iraq.
Not surprisingly, Syria, ranked among the top five countries in terms of safety before the war, is now a war zone on about 2,000 fronts, but life goes on for all Syrians.
Despite the Western assaults on Syria, Syria still provides free health care and schooling for all in government –controlled areas, even as terrorists teach children to be “child soldiers”, and to adopt the degenerate Wahhabi ideology that violently excludes all other ideologies and religions.
All of the violence, including the daily exposure to bombings, is currently being “normalized”. Outsiders report that when a mortar bomb strikes nearby, Syrian pedestrians barely notice, and continue on their way. The trauma of the war will present challenges for years to come.
Despite, or maybe because of its challenges, Syria treats all of its inhabitants – regardless of their country of origin – as Syrians.
“Wesam”, a man born to Palestinian refugees, explains that Palestinian refugees have the same rights as Syrians. They can buy a home, they can buy land, and they can legally work in Syria. In contrast, he explains that Palestinian refugees have no rights in neighbouring Lebanon; they cannot work legally, and they cannot buy a home outside of the refugee camp.
And so life goes on in Syria. The West is doing everything that it can to change this – economic sanctions, mercenary terrorists, bombing grain silos, bombing Syrian Arab Army (SAA) positions, disinformation warfare – but it isn’t working.
Damascus, one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in the world, is strong. Observers mistakenly thought that the capital would fall within months, but it hasn’t happened yet, and it is unlikely to happen at all.
Syria has strong institutions, a strong army, and strong allies. It also has a strong civilizing core. Syria’s victory will be everyone’s victory.