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Evil has a name

September 18, 2016

One should not negotiate with crooks. Or if so, only for show, for public consumption, for winning time, for outwitting, knowing that an eventual agreement will be broken anyway.

It has happened again and it was to be expected. Deception, broken promises, betrayal.

Syria has to be destroyed, whatever it takes. When bribes and lures didn’t work to cause mass defections of army officers and politicians, Islamic terrorists from all over the world were gathered to wreak havoc in Syria. When the state still didn’t collapse, arms shipments and military coordination of the terrorists was increased. When that still didn’t work, the terrorists had to be supported by bombing government forces.

Such bombings usually are preceded by accusations of atrocities, preferable indiscriminate use of nerve gas against civilians. The UN bureaucracy is just preparing such a case, based on witness reports. When the UN report is ready, a broad media campaign will make clear, that it is a moral duty to “stop Assad from butchering his own people.”

In the meantime bombings of Syrian army positions can be declared to be unfortunate mistakes.

As it happened in Deir ez-Zor, a city in eastern Syria, which is now since two years besieged by IS (Islamic State). Two F-16 and two A-10 attacked a grouping of Syrian soldiers who just prepared for a fight against IS, killing hundred and injuring another hundred. The garrison of Deir ez-Zor has only 4,000 men, so this is a sudden loss of five percent and it is significantly weakening the defenders.

Immediately after the airstrike by US-coalition planes, IS launched an offensive against the decimated troops and captured Jabal Turdah (Thardah), a mountain four kilometer south of the airport and overlooking the airport. Not even helicopters can land there at the moment, making the position of the defenders very precarious. If IS is able to overrun the city, it will be the biggest massacre of the Syrian war, because there are still between 120,000 and 200,000 civilians living in Deir ez-Zor, all considered government supporters and enemies of IS.

a-10-warthog

This was not an accident, the mountain is well known and even without any positioning one cannot miss it. The jets struck four times in broad daylight and the attacks lasted 45 minutes.  How can an A-10 warthog pilot, flying at low speed and altitude, mistake the SAA (Syrian Arab Army) for IS in an attack run?

IS uses some captured Syrian equipment, but that does not make them look similar. They have different uniforms. US forces reportedly conducted reconnaissance in the area for several days leading up to the strike. The bombed army base is too much of a landmark to be mistaken as an IS position, it wasn’t some place that was just hours ago captured by the Syrian army. One can clearly see the fortifications and the vehicles that are present from the sky. While the army has BPM’s (armored personal carriers) and tanks, IS mainly uses technicals (Toyota Hilux).

The US command knew perfectly well who was at these coordinates.

If it wouldn’t be so sad, one could be amused: IS news channel Amaq, in an effort to deflect blame, claimed that the US jets hit IS fighters.

This was not the first time US-coalition jets bombed Syrian troops, on December 8, 2015, three Syrian soldiers were killed in an US air raid.

The plight of the besieged

Imagine you are stuck in the middle of nowhere, on a small strip of land along a river or on a desert mountain, all surrounded by a huge swathe of territory controlled by the savages of IS.You fend of attacks by the Islamists day and night and are effectively cut off from the rest of the world.

You have little food, weapons, or ammunition, there is no electricity or water, the only way in is by air and that’s risky at the best of times, because IS regularly shells the runway. You are trapped in this place since three or four years and you don’t know how much longer it will go on or if you ever will be able to leave this place alive.

Every day you are exposed to a huge arsenal of weapons which the terrorists use at will, suicide bomb attacks, sniper fire, mortar rounds, anti tank missiles, and heavy artillery. You see friends who are fighting beside you getting injured or killed nearly every day.

The position you have held for over a year then comes under attack, bullets are flying everywhere, they have tanks, armored trucks, mortars, more weapons and ammo than you do. You fight them off again, you win, you start a new day. It’s just another day where you are fighting the frontline fight against IS on behalf of the civilized world, even though most of the world neglects you or is even against you.

Then your position, which you have held through great courage and sacrifice, gets hit by consecutive US airstrikes, killing 100 of your comrades. The ambulances trying to get the wounded to the hospital are also struck. The confusion and lack of communication means chaos, all around you people are dying, you are under attack from all sides not knowing who has just attacked you or what’s happening.

The frontline suddenly collapses, IS overruns your position, using the aftermath of the airstrikes to attack, everything is happening quickly, there are just meters between you and the most savage terrorist group in the world. If they capture you, they will torture you, behead you or burn you alive, they have no mercy.

You then regroup, reinforcements come and you take stock of what has just happened, prepare yourself and attack again. After hours of fighting and clashes, you retake some positions, but you are exhausted, desperate, and at a breaking point.

Night comes and you watch as rounds are fired from all angles, incoming and outgoing. The fighting stops, you pause for a short nap, waiting to see what the next day will bring.

syrian-soldiers

The Siege of Deir ez-Zor is seldom mentioned in Western media, and the UN has done not much to help the besieged population. Food air drops started in February, but a good part of the dropped parcels missed the target or were damaged beyond use. Many parcels were collected by IS.

Why did US planes strike in a place where the Western alliance has no operations going on? The US until now never carried out airstrikes against IS which would benefit the Syrian government. Why did the US not wait a few more days till the envisioned coordination between USA and Russia of airstrikes against IS was set up?

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) stated that the bombing of Syrian forces was unintentional.

At the request of Russia, the 15-member UN Security Council convened only a few hours after the US-coalition airstrikes. US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power chastised Russia for the move.

Russia really needs 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.”

When asked if the incident spelled the end of the Syria deal between Moscow and Washington, Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: “This is a very big question mark.”

I would be very interested to see how Washington is going to react. If what Ambassador Power has done today is any indication of their possible reaction then we are in serious trouble.”

Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakhavrova said about the attacks: “If earlier we had suspicions that the al-Nusra Front is protected this way, now after today’s airstrikes on the Syrian army we come to a really terrifying conclusion for the entire world: The White House is defending IS.”

deir-ez-zor-09-2016

One could view this air attack also as a warning and a threat by the USA to Russia. In the last few days Russian diplomates have been stepping up their criticism that the USA is not fulfilling the terms of the Lavrov-Kerry agreement reached on September 9, 2016. 

The Russian military too has publicly complained that only the Syrian army is abiding by the cessation of hostilities and a senior Russian General Staff official, Viktor Poznikhir, said the following at a briefing in Moscow:

“After five days of the ceasefire, it has to be noted that only the Russian and Syrian sides have been fully implementing their commitments. On its own initiative, Russia prolonged the cessation of hostilities for 48 hours, and yesterday it was extended for another 72 hours. The USA and the so-called moderate groups under their control didn’t fulfill a single commitment undertaken in the framework of the Geneva arrangements. The main priority of the Russian-US agreements of September was the division of territories controlled by IS, Jabhat al-Nusra, and the areas controlled by the “moderate opposition,” as well as the separation of the “moderate opposition” from Jabhat al-Nusra. Without it, the hands of the government forces are tied. They can’t fight the terrorists without knowing which of them joined the truce and which didn’t.

This raises doubts over the US’s ability to influence opposition groups under their control and over the willingness to further ensure the implementation of the Geneva agreements. Russia is making every possible effort to hold off government troops from the use of force in return to opposition attacks. If the US does not implement the necessary measures to fulfill their obligations under the September 9 agreements, the responsibility for the failure of the ceasefire will be solely America’s.

Tensions are rising in Syria, especially in the provinces of Aleppo and Hama, where opposition groups are using the cessation of hostilities to regroup forces, refill their stocks of ammunition and weapons and are preparing an offensive in order to capture new territories. In the past 24 hours, the number of attacks has increased drastically. The positions of government troops, the people’s militia, and civilians were fired at on 55 occasions.”

Indeed, none of the arrangements of the ceasefire are proceeding smoothly. The UN personnel supposed to man checkpoints should get visas, but Syria does not want to give visas to British nationals because they could be spies. Indians or other neutrals would be accepted. The UN and the Red Crescent wait for assurances of their safety from both the government and the Islamic rebels, and apparently none are forthcoming. The rebels are unwilling to leave their positions, and the government troops, who initially pulled back have now returned and are waiting for the rebels to move. 

Despite these problems the general level of violence is greatly reduced, though nobody thinks this will last for more than a few days.

Israel can kill Syrians too

The Israeli Air Force carried out an airstrike with an armed drone in support of Islamist attackers against Fouj Al-Joulan’s (Golan Regiment) defenses near al-Hader on the Golan Heights, killing one soldier and wounding 5 others.

This is routine and whenever the Islamists start an offensive, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) bombards Syrian positions with artillery or aircrafts, using reported stray shells as a pretext. None of these reported shelling ever caused any damage and one wonders if this are just fabrications, intended to mock the Syrians and show them their powerlessness against Israeli aggression.

Recently the Syrians said they downed two Israeli planes, a fighter jet and a drone, by their old Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles. Israelis denied that with unusual vehemence, but it could be that an Israeli drone has been downed, while a jet, even if it was hit, succeeded in returning home.

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The Syrian conflict is reaching a dangerous phase and could well be gradually turn into the overture to World War III. One can only hope that Putin and Assad realize what they are up to.

And understand that the empire never retreats and compromises.

And know that evil has a name.

Update:

According to the Deir ez-Zor army command Jabhal Thardah points 1,2,3 are all under IS Control and SAA Field Commanders decided a temporary withdrawal. The airport is under severe threat, airplane and helicopter deliveries have stopped. A Syrian fighter jet, supporting the troops on Jabhal Thardah, was shot down by IS.

There are several claims that two Danish F-16, a British Reaper drone, and an unidentified Australian aircraft (AWACS ?) participated in the bombing raids. If these claims are true, it was quite a big operation which makes it even more unlikely, that the bombing of Syrian soldiers was unintentional.

Assad adviser Bouthaina Shaaban said, that following the raids, which killed 90 soldiers, IS militants advanced forward from the very same side that the US struck.

The moment the American planes struck the Syrian army, the terrorists came to the same side that the Americans struck, and occupied the place that the Syrian army was in. So it was obvious to anyone in the field that there is an absolute coordination between the US planes who shelled the Syrian army and the terrorists who attacked the positions of the Syrian army,”

Witness reports from Syrian soldiers, translated from Arabic and slightly edited for clarity:

“We first thought the aircraft are support to us after the first two shots, but we quickly found out that they are targeting our forces aggressively, while we were fighting IS terrorists. The aircraft used cluster bombs against us.”

“A day before the airstrikes, the US drones were flying and scanning all the area.”

“The US air-strikes destroyed all our equipment and defense points.” 

“IS fighters attacked us immediately after and during the US strikes. Some of them were laughing.”

“US planes opened fire from machine guns on our retreating forces”

“It for sure wasn’t a mistake, they targeted us intentionally to help IS.”

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