Saturday 23rd of October 2021

feeding the terrorists in syria...

mapmap                                                                                                  The UN Security Council agreed on 9 July that the Bab al-Hawa border crossing will remain open for the time being. The other border crossings are closed. (Graphic vecteezy, cc)  

After weeks of disagreement as to whether the “humanitarian corridor” leading from Turkey to Idlib via Bab al-Hawa crossing point be closed, the UN Security Council last Friday adopted a compromise.1
  The new UN Security Council Resolution 2585 (2021) intends to continue aid delivery operations for an initial period of six months. An extension for another six months is subject to the issuance of a report by the UN Secretary-General after six months.
  The report should debate on whether transparency is ensured in the control of border crossing aid delivery operations. Specifically, it should include details on the distribution mechanism, the number of beneficiaries, operating partners in Idlib involved in border crossing aid deliveries, locations where aid deliveries are stored and from where they are distributed and the volume and nature of items delivered. Furthermore, the report should provide information on the implementation of efforts to improve all modalities of “cross-line” humanitarian deliveries inside Syria and “early recovery projects”.

30 minutes of debate

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield welcomed the fact that the United States and the Russian Federation were able to come together on a crucial matter long debated in the UN Security Council. The compromise was also important for the broader United Nations beyond the specific issue, the ambassador said, showing that “we can do more than just talk.”
  Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya expressed similar satisfaction. He said Russia was satisfied that the Council managed to reach an important point of convergence on such a complex topic. “We are grateful for this,” Nebenzya said. The US delegation worked “in the spirit of the commitments achieved during the recent summit held between Presidents Vladimir V. Putin and Joseph R. Biden” in Geneva, a non-official UN transcript of the council meeting said. Through the adoption of the new resolution, the Council had given the green light for the ultimate replacement of the cross-border mechanism with cross-line aid deliveries inside Syria. This would be in line with the core principles of UN international humanitarian law.
  British UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward nevertheless emphasised that Syria remains one of the most dangerous countries for humanitarian workers and called for maximum efforts to ensure their safety inside the country. Mexican UN Ambassador Alicia Guadalupe Buenrostro Massieu welcomed that renewal of the Bab al-Hawa crossing will afford “certainty to the planning and budgeting for humanitarian action”. French UN Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière expressed regret that, at least temporarily, only one border crossing instead of the requested three ones were reopened. Again, he insisted that France and its European partners would not finance reconstruction in Syria or lift sanctions if a credible political process was not launched pursuant to resolution 2254 (from 2014). Like his Mexican predecessor, de Rivière rejected the idea that after six months the UN Secretary General’s report should provide details on specific humanitarian partner organisations.
  The Indian UN representative T. S. Tirumurti, on the other hand, called for enhanced assistance to all citizens of Syria, which was once a “fulcrum of Arab culture” and a leading voice in the region. Discrimination, preconditions, and the politicization of assistance to Syria had to come to an end, he said. The adopted Resolution 2585 would reassure the people of northwestern Syria, he said, but the Security Council also had to reflect on the rest of the country, which was in dire need of reconstruction aid. Stability would only be achieved if Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity be preserved, this being the only way to ensure that external actors refrain from further destabilising the situation in Syria.
  Similar comments were made by the Chinese UN representative Zhang Jun. The cross-border aid deliveries were based on an exceptional arrangement that was controversial both politically and legally. There had to be a transition to cross-line delivery of humanitarian aid within Syria. However, the unilateral sanctions (imposed by the EU and the USA) against Syria were the main obstacle to improving the country’s humanitarian situation.

Who receives the aid?

According to OCHA, more than 1,000 trucks with food, medicine “and other goods” reach Idlib province every month. They pass through Bab al-Hawa border crossing point, controlled on one side by Turkey and on the other side by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The aid deliveries via Bab al-Hawa are intended exclusively for Idlib and for the areas of Afrin, Azaz, and Jbeil Saman in the northwestern province of Aleppo. These areas are controlled by Turkey and armed jihadist opponents of the government called “rebels” by Western media and politicians.
  Since January 2018 Afrin has been occupied by Turkey and an army of jihadists who had previously waged war in Aleppo, Homs, and Damascus. Before these troops invaded Afrin, up to 300,000 Syrian Kurds lived there. Today, they are living as internally displaced persons in camps of Tell Rifaat or in Sheikh Maqsood, a Kurdish neighbourhood under self-government in the north of the city of Aleppo. The “border crossing aid delivery” is not intended for them.
  The city of Azaz has been a hub for Western intervention in the name of humanitarianism since the war’s beginning in 2011. Weapons, fighters and assistance were smuggled in via the town, which is close to the Syrian-Turkish border crossing Bab al-Salam. The German organisation “Grünhelme” has been at the forefront in Azaz since summer 2012. In the meantime, Azaz is considered the headquarters of the Western-backed “government-in-exile” launched by the National Council for Revolutionary and Oppositional Forces of Syria (Etilaf) based in Istanbul.
  Idlib is controlled by HTS. The organisation was previously known as the al-Nusra Front, an affiliate of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and a Syrian offshoot of al-Qaeda. Since the beginning of the war the leader of HTS and its various predecessor organisations has been Saudi-born Syrian Abu Mohammad al-Julani. In 2003, he joined al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and eventually became a POW of the US-led war alliance against Iraq. Released from the British-run Bucca Prison Camp in Basra in 2008, he, together with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, eventually rebuilt the since then crushed Islamic State in Iraq. It became the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Al-Julani is an internationally listed Islamist terrorist, and the US has offered a $10 million reward for his capture.
  Meanwhile, al-Julani is offering himself to the West as a “partner against Assad”. In December 2015, al-Julani, then still the leader of the al-Nusra Front, was interviewed extensively by the Qatari news channel al-Jazeera wearing a combat dress. Two more extensive interviews of al-Julani followed in February 2021 with U.S. television station PBS and its frontline journalist Martin Smith. This time, the fighter wore a suit and a white shirt without a tie and stated that he wanted to establish relations with the West. He offered the US to put his combat unit, HTS, at the service of the Western alliance to fight Assad and his allies Russia and Iran. Passages from the interview were published in the PBS feature “The Jihadist”2.
  Al-Julani claims to have 10,000 men under arms, offering them to the West as allies. In the meantime, the “salvation government” installed by HTS is recruiting young men from families who had sought shelter from the war as internally displaced persons in Idlib, but who do not see themselves as supporters of HTS ideology. Those who keep on supporting the Syrian state in Idlib suffer persecution.

Humanitarian corridors strengthen the power of the jihadists

The humanitarian corridors to Idlib called for by UN diplomats and Western states and their aid agencies directly benefit HTS and al-Julani and consolidate its power. HTS collects customs duties from trucks entering Idlib via Bab al-Hawa. The relief goods provide the population with basic supplies that HTS and its supporters do not have to worry about. At the same time, the families and supporters of HTS fighters and officials also benefit from the aid. Newly established companies in the computer, telephone, electricity or water supply sectors under HTS control benefit from the material and financial reconstruction aid, which reaches Idlib and elsewhere via the “Syrian Reconstruction Fund” (SRTF). The money is administered by the German Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW)and distributed according to contractual agreements that KfW has concluded with the “National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces” (Etilaf) based in Istanbul.
  Although the organisation and its leader al-Julani are internationally listed as terrorist, close relations already exist between them and Turkey, Etilaf and the Western “friends of Syria” such as the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other states. The US and its partners in Europe, Israel and the Arabian Gulf are supporting forces in Idlib and around Aleppo that want to create an “Islamic State” and secede from Syria. In the northeast of Syria, they are promoting a “Euphrates province” that is to profit from Syrian oil, wheat, water and cotton. Meanwhile, NATO partner Turkey is colonising parts of northern Syria and forming a new army with jihadists.

A huge operation

A few days before the UN Security Council vote, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Prevention Janez Lenarcic had visited Bab al-Hawa. There was no “viable alternative” to the border crossing, he said. “It is a huge operation.”3
  According to the German Foreign Office, Germany is the “second largest humanitarian donor” in humanitarian aid for Syrians in Syria and in camps in neighbouring countries. In 2020, the German government provided 672 million euros, more than 102 million euros for the northwest of the country. At the Brussels donor conference for Syria and neighbouring countries, Germany made the largest pledge of 1.738 billion euros and will continue to make a substantial contribution to financing the aid plans drawn up by the United Nations.
  But, as German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stated in a G-7 statement at the end of May, Germany will not participate in reconstruction measures in areas of Syria controlled by the government, nor will it lift the unilateral sanctions against the country, which are not legitimised under international law. This does not apply to Idlib, Azaz, the jihadist-Turkish-controlled hinterland of Aleppo and the Kurdish-US-controlled northeast of the country.

Syria is not heard

It is one of the rituals of the UN Security Council that representatives of the countries whose situation and future are being debated can be present and speak at the debates, but have no right to co-decide on resolutions. In the past, the Western UN ambassadors had more than once demonstratively left the room when the Syrian representative took the floor.
  Acting Syrian UN Ambassador Bassam Sabbagh stressed during the debate on 9 July that Russia and China had pointed out important aspects of the humanitarian problems in Syria, including the effects of COVID-19 and the unilateral sanctions. Western states ignored these aspects. Their insistence on the cross-border mechanism “serves their interests and not the alleviation of the suffering Syrian people”, Sabbagh said. Calling the mechanism a “lifeline” would be tantamount to “psychological blackmail” of public opinion in their countries. The preservation of Syria as a sovereign and independent state is persistently disregarded, he said. 


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leaving but staying...


By Scott Ritter, a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of 'SCORPION KING: America's Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.' He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter


Biden’s announcement that the US combat mission in Iraq will come to an end by the end of the year hides the reality that their presence in Iraq shields a broader combat mission in Syria and Iran. It’s not ending anytime soon.

Joe Biden recently announced that the US combat mission in Iraq will conclude by the end of the year. This announcement reflects the reality on the ground more than a major shift in US policy, and as such operates more as an exercise in semantics than a portent of any withdrawal of US forces from the region. According to the president, the US military will transition away from a hands-on combat role to one which focuses on training, advising and intelligence-sharing with supported Iraqi forces. “Our shared fight against ISIS is critical for the stability of the region and our counterterrorism operation will continue, even as we shift to this new phase we’re going to be talking about,” Biden said. There are currently some 2,500 US troops in Iraq.  

Current US combat operations in Iraq appear to be the sole purview of elite Special Operations Forces drawn from so-called “Tier-1” Special Mission Units assigned to the Joint Special Operations Command. These units include the Army’s Delta Force, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, Marine Raiders, Army Rangers, Air Force Combat Control Teams, and Army Special Operations helicopter units from the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. While the Department of Defense is tight-lipped about the deployment and operational tasking of these units, media reports indicate that as of earlier this year, elements of the US Army’s Delta Force, operating in concert with units from the British Special Air Service, were engaged in special reconnaissance missions inside Iraq designed to locate and identify targets affiliated with the Islamic State for subsequent destruction by coalition aircraft


These forces operate from a compound near Erbil International Airport – not coincidentally, the same location as a secret CIA compound recently attacked by unmanned drones. JSOC and the CIA often collaborate on anti-terrorist operations such as the raid that killed Abu al-Baghdadi in October 2019, which was also launched from Erbil. While the JSOC/CIA operations include an anti-ISIS mission in Iraq, they also are engaged in anti-ISIS operations inside Syria (as evidenced by the al-Baghdadi operation), and an ongoing covert war against the Iranian Quds Force and pro-Iranian militias operating in Iraq and Syria. This is underscored by the US air strikes on targets in and around Al Qaim/Abu Kamal this year.

The US military presence in Erbil, which includes the JSOC/CIA elements, along with supporting aviation, intelligence, and logistics forces, is the heart and soul of US military operations in Iraq and the Levant as a whole. Any effort to end the combat-related missions of the units based there would prove fatal to the US military presence in Syria, which currently stands at around 900 personnel. The US operates in Iraq at the invitation and (for the most part) with the consent of the Iraqi government. The same legitimacy does not apply to US forces operating in Syria, who are there against the wishes of the Syrian government. While the US forces in Syria provide combat support to the Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces, the Kurds lack the status of a sovereign state and as such impart no legitimacy to the US deployment and operations in that nation. For this reason, the US forces in Syria operate on an expeditionary basis, completely dependent upon a supply line that leads back to Erbil.


While President Biden may claim that the US combat mission in Iraq will be over by the end of the year, this does not mean US combat forces will be leaving Iraq. It appears that this subterfuge will be supported by the Iraqi government. When asked by Voice of America if the Iraqi government would allow the US to continue to use bases inside Iraq to support its military mission inside Syria, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, noted that the “US military forces in Syria have a unique status and Iraq is not involved in that. However, we always discuss with the Americans the presence of [ISIS] in Syria, because clearly its presence there poses a threat to Iraq too.”

The reality is that the Biden announcement about US troops in Iraq is a lie – there will be virtually no change in US force in that nation. The “end” of combat operations simply reflects the reality as it has existed on the ground in that nation since the assassination of Qassem Suleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and three other members of the pro-Iranian militias at Baghdad International Airport in January 2020. In the aftermath of the Iranian retaliatory missile strike on US forces in Al Asad Air Base, the US military in Iraq assumed a force-protection posture, with anti-ISIS operations coming to a virtual halt (the only exception being the ongoing activities of the JSCOC/CIA units operating in Erbil). Biden’s announcement simply provides political cover for the US forces in Iraq to legitimize the posture they have already assumed, namely an advisory and support capacity which pushes the actual job of destroying the ISIS enemy on the shoulders of the supported Iraqi forces. The counterterrorism mission waged by JSOC and the CIA will continue unabated.

The problem with lies is they never occur in isolation. Biden’s lie about the end of the combat mission for US forces deployed to Iraq is but one of many lies that have come to define the US military presence in both Iraq and Syria. If the Afghanistan debacle has taught us anything, it is that meaningful consequences accrue from the lies told regarding military operations. The US spent 20 years lying about its military mission and activities inside Afghanistan. Today, the rapid collapse of the US-trained Afghan security forces in the face of the US withdrawal stands as testimony to what those lies gave us.

At some point in time, the US will be called upon to pay the piper regarding its military operations in Iraq and Syria. The fact that the US government has consistently lied about the ongoing combat mission in both Iraq and Syria, lied about the nature of the US military presence in Syria, and lied about the covert war being waged against Iran from bases in Iraq and Syria, means that the American people and those whom they elect to represent them in Congress are buying into policies they believe are for the purpose of accomplishing X, only to find out later that they were accomplishing Y. Such duplicity is ultimately doomed to fail. All Biden’s current lie about US forces in Iraq has accomplished is to kick the can of accountability down the road another time. But there will be an accounting, and the results will be ugly.



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arming the terrorists...


The Russian Defense Ministry established the Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides and Control of Refugee Movement in Syria In February 2016 as part of its efforts in the region to help mitigate the ongoing conflict between the opposing sides. 

Armed terrorist groups are transferring armored vehicles to two localities in Syria’s Idlib, and Syrian government forces have reported a sharp increase in the number of shellings from those areas, Rear Adm. Vadim Kulit, the deputy head of the Russian Defense Ministry's Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria, said on Friday.

"Illegal armed groups in the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone are transferring militant units and armored vehicles to the area of the Saan and Majdaliya localities in Idlib province. According to the command of the Syrian government forces, the number of attacks carried out by militants of terrorist groups from the indicated area at the positions of the Syrian armed forces in the directions of Rueiha, Jubas and Saraqib has sharply increased," Kulit said.

According to the Reconciliation Center, 38 attacks were recorded in the Idlib de-escalation zone from the positions of the  Jabhat al-Nusra* terrorist group, of which 17 attacks occurred in Idlib province, 8 attacks in Latakia province, 4 attacks in Alleppo province, Hama province - 9 attacks.

Kulit added that Russian military police units have continued to escort civilian vehicles on the M4 highway between the Raqqa and al-Hasakah provinces.

On Thursday, Syrian newspaper Al-Watan reported that the political command of the Syrian armed forces is investigating reports suggesting that the spokesman of Jabhat al-Nusra has been eliminated.

According to the report, Abu Khaled al-Shami was eliminated earlier on Thursday by Syrian and Russian airstrikes along with 30 other terrorists. The airstrikes were carried out in the morning in the Jabal Alzawiya area.

Earlier, the Russian military warned about impending provocations being planned by terrorist groups involving poisonous substances, to be carried out in the northeast of Idlib province. The reconciliation center receives information about provocations in Syria involving the use of poisonous agents on a regular basis.

The responsibilities of the reconciliation center include negotiating agreements on illegal armed groups and individual settlements joining the cease-fire regime, as well as organizing humanitarian aid distribution, among others.

The Russian military, together with its Turkish counterparts, at the request of the Syrian government regularly patrol the roads and settlements of the war-torn country in order to ensure the safe functioning of transport routes.

*Jabhat al-Nusra (also known as Al-Nusra Front, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, or al-Qaeda in Syria) is a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia and many other states.



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turkish assault?

The Turkish army has completed preparations for operations in northern Syria and is awaiting orders to launch an invasion of four Syrian cities: Manbij, Tel Tamir, Ain Isa and Tel Rifat, Turkish publication Turkiye reports. 

It became known that Ankara intends to carry out an operation against the Kurds from among the supporters of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey. 

According to senior Turkish officials, Moscow and Washington were supposed to redeploy Kurdish forces 30 kilometers south of the Syrian-Turkish border, but failed to do it. 

Earlier, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu accused Russia and the United States of not fulfilling their obligations to cleanse the northern part of Syria from terrorists. Cavusoglu stressed that the Turkish authorities were ready to do everything themselves. 

On October 11, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Ankara was going to independently eliminate the terrorist threat in Syria. He promised to take such steps, because Turkey ran out of patience as a result of ongoing attacks of the militants.

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