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Notes on Syria

October 3, 2016

First a personal note: I hate to write about war and violence, I would rather write about gardening and cats. I write this text because I’m worried, I’m frightened, I’m terrified. Please tell me and convince me that I’m exaggerating and that my worries are not justified.

syria-destruction-55

World War III has probably already begun. It started in Syria. The USA, Britain, France, Turkey, Germany, and all other NATO countries plus the Gulf monarchies Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE (United Arab Emirates), and Kuwait, plus Israel, Jordan, and Australia are fighting against Russia, China, Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Jordan and Iraq have not yet openly declared sides but there is no doubt about their allegiance. Belarus, Armenia, and Algeria are supporting Syria but try to keep a low profile.

The West needs to defeat and conquer Russia for reasons which have been discussed here already. Two main points as a reminder:

1. Russia’s huge mineral resources, large still unexploited nature, and sparse population makes it the prime target for Western countries who have reached the limits of economic growth and are haunted by the threat of resource scarcity, ecological collapse, economic instability, and social unrest.

2. Russia’s political, economic, and military independence hinders globalization and the world-wide rule by multinational corporations and Wall Street. Total financial control of Russia would allow to get precious mineral resources at a discount, to conquer the Russian market, and to destroy the national / local economy.

The initial plan was to step by step destabilize Syria, Iran, the Caucasus, and Central Asia with the help of Islamic terrorists, to finally reach the Russian republics with majority Muslim populations. A radicalization of Russia’s Muslims, combined with increased economic and military pressure (economic sanctions, encirclement by NATO bases, deployment of more troops on Russian borders, NATO’s missile defense shield) plus from outside organized “color revolutions” was thought to weaken, destabilize, and finally breakup the Russian Federation.

After Russia stepped in and turned the tide in favor of the Syrian government, the initial plan was amended and the Western allies try to trap and bleed Russia in the Syrian quagmire, maybe even lure Russian troops into a limited military confrontation which would be fine-tuned to a level just below the threshold of a nuclear conflict.

Western allies at the moment wage war on Syria without declaring war. Islamist mercenaries invaded the country from Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. They are paid, trained, equipped, coordinated, and continuously supplied by the West. Crippling sanctions try to break the economies of Syria, Iran, and Russia.
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/28/u-s-sanctions-are-punishing-ordinary-syrians-and-crippling-aid-work-u-n-report-reveals/

Syria destruction 06 2015

As the fighting in Aleppo and everywhere else intensifies and US officials have hinted that President Barack Obama’s administration is considering tougher responses — including military moves, Russia has reinforced its air contingent in Syria with SU-24 and SU-34 bombers. SU-25 ground attack fighters will be added soon, bringing the air contingent to the level before the partial withdrawal in March. 

Russia’s aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, aging but overhauled and refitted, will soon arrive at Syrian shores, increasing the Russian naval group in the eastern Mediterranean which at the moment includes six warships and four support vessels from all fleets.

According to US intelligence, Russia has sent new SA-23 Gladiator anti-missile and anti-aircraft systems to Syria. The missiles and associated components are still in their crates and not yet operational.

The weapon is designed to defeat ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, it could counter US cruise missile strikes, a crucial component in any Western attempts to impose a no-fly zone. The SA-23, also called Antey-2500, is a S-300V4, a S-300 variant designed for ground forces and mounted on trucks. It has a range of 400 kilometers and shares some components with the S-400.

The system is completely computerized and able to select targets and launch automatically. This enables fast reaction but increases the risk of an accidental shootdown.

Islamist rebels in Aleppo province have confirmed that they received new BM-21 Grad missile rocket launcher systems. While Grad missiles have previously been supplied, the new launchers contain 40 rockets with a range of up to 40 kilometers. The missiles are produced by Vazovski Mashinostroitelni Zavodi, a Bulgarian company.
http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/article/making-a-killing-the-1-2-billion-euros-arms-pipeline-to-middle-east-07-26-2016

The Islamists posted a very impressive video on YouTube where the brand new Grad launcher trucks fire rockets from from the Blue Lagoon Waterpark parking area near Aleppo city. As demonstrated in the Ukrainian conflict, Grad missiles cause terrible destruction but are imprecise like most artillery and in dense populated areas will inevitably lead to civilian casualties, while the intended military target often may be missed.

Who is afraid of war?

Let’s hope that the east Aleppo battle is over in a few months since, if not, Hillary Clinton could easily do something really stupid in Syria.

Once the West comes to realize that its policy of sending BGM-71 TOWs, MANPADS, rocket artillery (the mentioned BM-21 Grad), sophisticated night vision and communications equipment to the Islamists does not work, once the in Turkey’s “control rooms” most carefully planned and coordinated offensives fail, there will be only one last card left to play: attempting to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.

The good news is that US generals understand that any such move would mean war with Russia. The bad news is that the neocon faction (Hillary Clinton, Ashton B. Carter, Susan Rice, Victoria Nuland, Samantha Powers, Robert Kagan) seems to be dead-set on exactly that. Since such an event has now become possible, one needs to look at what exactly this would entail.

sukhoi_su24_fencer_l4

The way the US doctrine mandates imposing a no-fly zone is pretty straightforward: It begins with an intensive series of cruise missile strikes and bombing raids whose aim is to disable the enemy air defenses and command and control capabilities. At this stage heavy jamming and anti-radar missile strikes play a key role. There will also be strikes at enemy airbases, with a special emphasis on destroying landed aircraft, runways, and fuel storage facilities. This first phase can last anything between 48 hours to 10 days, depending on the complexity and strenght of the enemy air defense network.

The second phase typically includes the deployment of air-to-air fighters in combat patrols which are typically controlled by AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) aircraft. Finally, once the air defense network has been destroyed and air supremacy has been established, strike fighters and bombers are sent in to bomb whatever can be bombed until the enemy surrenders or is crushed.

In Syria, this ideal scenario would run into several problems.

1. While there are only a few S-400/S-300 systems in Syria, the USA/NATO never had to operate against them. Russia also has long range radars which will make it impossible for the West to achieve a tactical surprise and Russian electronic warfare systems possibly could create chaos in key Western command, control, communications, and intelligence systems. There is also the already mentioned SA-23 Gladiator missile system.

2. The S-400/S-300 missiles and key nodes of the Russian communications network are mostly located on what is legally “Russian territory”: The Hmeimim airbase and the Slava-class or Kuznetsov-class cruisers off the Syrian coast. If USA/NATO would sink a Russian Navy ship it would provoke Russian attacks on all Western ships.

3. While Russia has deployed relatively few aircraft in Syria (50), and while even fewer of them are air-to-air interceptors, those interceptors (SU-30SM and SU-35) are a formidable challenge to any aircraft in the USA/NATO inventory with the exception of the F-22A. Overwhelming the Russians with sheer numbers will come at a steep cost.

4. The use of AWACS could be complicated by Russian long range missiles, Russian AWACS could fly in Iranian airspace, protected by MiG-31BMs.

5.The imposition of air superiority would not stop Russia and Syria from using artillery and attack helicopters. Helicopters are a difficult target for fighter jets and hunting them down at lower altitudes would further expose Western aircraft to Russian air defenses.

6. Even if Russia’s air contingent in Syria is destroyed, the Russians would still have three powerful weapons against Islamic insurgents deep inside Syria:

1. Cruise missiles, launched from naval platforms or TU-95MS bombers.

2. SU-34/SU-35 strike groups launched from Russia or Iran.

3. Supersonic long range bombers (TU-22M3 and TU-160)

It would be quite difficult to counter these attacks as Western forces have not trained for such missions since the late 1980s.

Beating war drums

War, and especially World War, is costly, means sacrifice, hardship, sorrow, pain, destruction, and death. Even the most hardline defenders of “Western values” will be reluctant to take the burden, take the risk, face death, just to topple two far away dictators.

To prepare the population for war, the enemy, represented by the far away dictators Assad and Putin, has to be demonized, their alleged “crimes against humanity” have to be presented vividly on every news channel, their purported bloodstained victims shown in a way that causes and increases repulsion, abhorrence, horror, hate.

When the level of hate has reached a certain threshold, when the constant pictures of mangled corpses and body parts become unbearable, when people are haunted by nightmares induced by the daily portion of TV “war porn,” the population will finally understand that something has to be done and war has to be waged to wipe the satanic enemy from the face of the earth.

Aleppo injured children

This campaign of demonization is going on since a long time but in recent month it has increased to unprecedented levels. For instance: A new JIT (Joint Investigation Team) MH-17 report has been publicized just in time to accuse Russia of another atrocity.

US dissident Ray McGovern writes: Mainstream Western media has embraced the JIT’s findings as “conclusive” and the evidence as “overwhelming.” But it is in reality extraordinarily thin, essentially a case of deciding immediately after the event that the Russians were to be blamed and spending more than two years assembling snippets of intercepted conversations (from 150,000 provided by the Ukrainian intelligence service) that could be stitched together to create an impression of guilt.
http://johnhelmer.net/?p=16440
https://consortiumnews.com/2016/09/28/troubling-gaps-in-the-new-mh-17-report/
http://theduran.com/joint-investigation-team-mh17-case-still-open/

US Secretary of State John Kerry said, that there is no point in pursuing further negotiations with Russia over Syria and hinted increased arms shipments to Islamic insurgents.

US State Department representative John Kirby: “…that extremists and extremists groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there … which will include, no question, attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities, and Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags.”

As a “no fly zone” in Syria is discussed again by Western pundits, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in response issued a warning that a US intervention against the Syrian army “will lead to terrible, tectonic consequences not only on the territory of this country but also in the region as a whole.”

Martin Berger writes on New Eastern Outlook, that “Washington has Just Declared War on Russia.”
http://journal-neo.org/2016/09/29/washington-has-just-declared-war-on-russia/

US dissident Paul Craig Roberts, a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan, writes: The Russian government deceived itself with its fantasy belief that Russia and Washington had a common cause in fighting IS. The Russian government even went along with the pretense that the various insurgent groups operating under various pen names were “moderate rebels” who could be separated from the extremists, all the while agreeing to cease fighting on successive verges of victory so that Washington could resupply IS and prepare to introduce US and NATO forces into the conflict. The Russian government apparently also thought that as a result of the coup against Erdogan, which was said to implicate Washington, Turkey was going to cease supporting IS and cooperate with Russia.

The famous Russian writer Eduard Limonov: John Kirby, Samantha Power and other American officials chose the wrong tone to talk to us, so that relations are shredded beyond repair. In fact, it smells like war.

Fairy tales and lies

One would think that journalists, politicians, PR agents, and advertisers eventually change their storyline to fit reality, but they seldom do and instead deny and twist reality in the most radical way to fit the ordered narrative. They use psychological tricks, false but never mentioned or explained assumptions, latent prejudices, euphemisms, semantic ambiguities, and most important: relentless repetition.

James Bernays, the Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, laid the groundwork for todays propaganda wars, Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels built on Bernays work.

Joseph Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

From Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf:

All this was inspired by the principle — which is quite true in itself — that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes.

To be believed by the masses, propaganda doesn’t need to have a kernel of truth to it. It has to be well-crafted just enough to target something — fear, hope, jealousy, pride, etc. — in our “lizard brains”, and it will self-reinforce even in the face of overwhelming truth.
http://fair.org/home/reporting-on-russias-troll-army-western-media-forget-wests-much-bigger-sophisticated-troll-army/
http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/10/01/pentagon-paid-for-fake-al-qaeda-videos.html
https://rsf.org/en/news/how-saudi-arabia-manipulates-foreign-media-outlets
http://www.alternet.org/world/inside-shadowy-pr-firm-thats-driving-western-opinion-towards-regime-change-syria

In the present World War III propaganda campaign the biggest lies are:

1. The brutal dictator Assad butchers his own people.

2. Helpless civilians suffer from indiscriminate bombing by Syrian and Russian forces and have to be protected.

3. “Moderate rebels” try to end the dictatorship and bring peace, stability, and democracy  to Syria.

4. Putin plays a ruthless power game while the West wants to end bloodshed and bring peace and prosperity to the Middle East.

Mythical “moderates”

There are YouTube videos where Islamists are threatening Russia if it doesn’t stop supporting the Syrian government, calling for terror attacks in Russian cities.

The “moderate rebels” have committed well documented crimes like beheadings, burning people alive, torture, rapes, and kidnappings.

Jund al-Aqsa and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly al-Nusra) got five million US$ ransom for German journalist Janina Findeisen and her baby son. Before traveling to Syria in October 2015 she was reportedly in contact with notorious Islamist Sven Lau, who led “Sharia patrols” in Germany. She was kidnapped in Syria while pregnant and gave birth in captivity.

In May, three Spanish journalists held captive by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham for 10 months were freed, with Turkey and Qatar helping to secure their release.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-36239731

In March 2014 13 Christian nuns and three aids were freed for ransom.
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2014/03/syria-nuns-maaloula-released.html
http://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/187525
https://www.hate-speech.org/jabhat-fateh-al-shams-income-and-resources-an-open-source-investigation/

In al these cases the ransom was paid by Qatar. This is one of the ways the “moderate rebels” are funded. Paying millions to the kidnappers looks like a humanitarian gesture and nobody can accuse Qatar of aiding criminals.

fsa-member-sitting

That the “moderate rebels” constantly indiscriminately bombard residential areas in western Aleppo is seldom acknowledged. A misleading article in the British Independent didn’t mention rebel shelling on the Armenian district of western Aleppo, when it reported that Aleppo athlete (swimmer) Mireille Hindoyan and her little brother were killed, making it appear that it was due to Syrian or Russian air attacks. Only after a storm of outrage on social media the article was corrected, but even then in an ambiguous way: “A number of commentators claimed the deaths were a result of a rebel-led attack, although those claims could not be verified.”
The original version: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:dzi12mJwQwoJ:www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syrian-swimmer-killed-aleppo-shelling-mireille-hindoyan-12-year-old-brother-a7341186.html+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=fi&client=firefox-b-ab

Western leaders and probably also many journalists know that there are no “moderate rebels,” and that all military supplies goes to terrorists and criminals, most of the concerned decision makers realize that there will be inevitably “blowback” (meaning terror acts) in European cities, but “the end justifies the means.” And if the end means increased profits for weapons producers and US full-spectrum dominance, no plans will be too sinister, no moves will be too evil.

http://fortunascorner.com/2016/09/15/u-s-special-forces-sabotage-white-house-policy-gone-disastrously-wrong-with-covert-ops-in-syria/
This article is from a special operations insider, it is plausible and seems to be authentic. It is a treasure trove of revealing details about the US covert war against Syria. I had to read it twice and think it over thoroughly because it explains a lot. Highly recommended reading.

Recent reports, that members of the US backed/trained “New Syrian Army” defected to IS in Deir ez-Zor are further confirmation.

https://consortiumnews.com/2016/09/29/how-the-us-armed-up-syrian-jihadists/

If “moderate rebels” ever existed, they have by now be absorbed into the main Islamist insurgent groups, which are IS (Islamic State), IS affiliate Jund al-Aqsa, al-Qaeda affiliates Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki (notorious for posting a video about beheading a child), Turkish controlled Turkmen brigades (Sultan Murad Division), Jaysh al-Islam, and some others which are less important but not less radical.

The CIA-vetted TOW (anti-tank-guided-missiles) recipients are either fronts of the hardline Islamists or affiliated groups which only exist to channel the military supplies to the Islamists.

The “humanitarian card”

The Western propaganda machine tries to orchestrate a public outrage about the siege of eastern Aleppo. Before the Civil War, the population of East Aleppo was roughly 250,000, but reports from independent journalists, who visited eastern Aleppo in the last years, put the population level at 40,000 to 80,000.

The estimates of Western experts, speaking off 200,000 to 300,000 inhabitants, are unrealistic and only serve political purposes, online life videos by Russian drones show deserted streets and eerily quiet in inner city districts.

As it came out during the surrender and evacuation of the rebel pocket Darayya near Damascus, the Islamist claims about numbers of fighters and “trapped” civilians was greatly exaggerated. 300 fighters and 700 family members were evacuated, a far cry from the claimed 1000 fighters and 10,000 trapped civilians.

syria-destruction-55

One cannot even keep track about all the reports, editorials, analyses, and opinion pieces on Aleppo that mainstream news organizations and TV networks are constantly publishing or airing. Some of them could be regarded as honest reporting if they only would take into account the difficulties of fighting an enemy embedded with the civilian population in a large urban area, while the overwhelming part is tainted by a level of hypocrisy and dishonesty that defies the whole purpose of such pieces.

The most reasonable action would be to evacuate the civilians in the combat zones, to open humanitarian corridors and organize short term pauses of the fighting where civilians could safely move to uncontested areas.

Syria and Russia have proposed that many times and set up humanitarian corridors, but neither the Islamists nor their Western allies want this to happen because the remaining civilians in the eastern districts are precious assets which can be used as human shields or as tools in the propaganda war.

As they are rejecting Russian proposals of humanitarian corridors and instead accuse Russia and Syria of “ethnic cleansing,” Western powers are evidently not interested in saving lives, they rather want to play the humanitarian card in order to save the Islamists. 

Two more points: What can empathy for Aleppo be worth, when mainstream media workers are not willing to mention the devastating air war of Saudi Arabia in Yemen? Was the fighting for Falluja or Ramadi less bloody than Aleppo and will the coming offensive on Mosul cause less casualties among the civilians there?
http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/10/showdown-in-aleppo.html

Showdown in Aleppo

I close this text with an overview about actual developments on the ground though most of it will be outdated in a few days.

After the fall of Handarat camp in the north, the rebel front lines partly collapsed and the Syrian forces were able to push south, taking the legendary Kindi hospital, the al-Shugayyif industrial area, and the Jandoul roundabout. The rebel controlled areas in Aleppo have been shrunk by at least 10 percent.

The army also moved into Bustan Basha and there are reports that Syrian forces advanced to the electrical station and to the water company in Suleiman al-Halabi, controlling most of the buildings. It is not clear if this is the company which operates the pumps for western Aleppo and which the Islamists use to regularly switch off the water for the western districts, but control of the water supply would solve a huge problem for the government.

There are reports that the Islamists are retreating from Owaija district, which is surrounded on three sides and nearly impossible to defend. Once Owaija falls, the southern part of al-Manasher will become another section that will be impossible to hold.

As the front line moved south, the fortifications were all overrun and there are no inner defense lines and fortifications. The Islamists only can hope to wear down the Syrian forces in street to street fighting and inflict as much casualties as possible, yet that also will become difficult when ammunition and all other supplies will become scarce and run out at one point.

aleppo-02-10-2016-b

Click onto the map to see it in high resolution

The supreme commander of the Syrian army in Aleppo, Major General Za’id Saleh, estimates that only 2,500 militants remain inside the eastern Aleppo neighborhoods, but most other knowledgable people think there are at least 5,000 to 6,000 fighters.

The Syrian troops at the moment appear to push into more isolated, less populated, and less dense areas, trying to gain as much land as possible before bad weather makes air support less effective. The southern part of Manasher, Sheikh Lutfi, maybe Sheikh Saaed and Ayn Al Tal are potential targets, after that it will become a lot harder, as the other districts are dense residential areas which are very difficult to capture.

Maybe there will be a lull before the real bloody urban house to house fighting begins.  The death toll in urban warfare is extremely high for the attacking side.

Hikmah Hill, where before the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham offensive the Hikmah School stood, now a pile of rubble, is still in Islamist hands, and without this position, which overlooks and gives fire control of the surrounding, the rest of the 1070 housing project cannot be cleared, leaving the possibility of another Islamist offensive open.

assad-and-soldiers-2

Local reports from rural Aleppo suggest that Jaysh Al-Fateh (Army of Conquest) , led by Jabhat Fateh Al-Sham, has prepared at least 20 SVBIEDs (suicide-vehicle-borne-improvised-explosive-devices) for another offensive to break the siege, along with amassing thousands of fighters. Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki has pulled out of Turkeys “Euphrates Shield” offensive and tries to reach Aleppo via Turkey and Idlib.

There are several videos where hardcore Islamists like Wagdy Abd el-Hamied Mohamed Ghoneim and Sheikh Mohammed Rateb al-Nabulsi call to help the defenders of eastern Aleppo. Sheikh Abu Aliqzan calls for “general alarm” (mobilization of the general public to fight the enemy). The Islamists in Aleppo have announced that they will recruit all male persons. Sounds like the “Aleppo Volkssturm.”

Muslim Brotherhood acting chairman Mahmoud Ezzat denounces the “Aleppo Holocaust” and calls for unity. The Washington Post writes: “Aleppo, a symbol of American weakness,” comparing Aleppo with Guernica. The USA has suspended all talks with Russia. 

The UN Security Council discusses a draft resolution that urges Russia to ensure an immediate truce in Aleppo and to put an end to all military flights over the city. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault says that any state that opposes the resolution will be deemed complicit in war crimes.

It smells like war indeed.

Further reading:

https://mato48.com/2016/09/06/turning-point-aleppo-update/
https://mato48.com/2016/07/28/turning-point-aleppo/
https://mato48.com/2016/09/21/a-matter-of-belief/
https://mato48.com/2016/09/18/evil-has-a-name/
https://mato48.com/2016/08/30/interview-with-dr-nabil-antaki/
https://mato48.com/2016/08/28/dirty-tricks-evil-players-deadly-games/
https://mato48.com/2016/08/13/the-day-before-deraa/

woman-assad-poster-car

Update:

On October 7 the Russian State Duma will ratify an agreement with Syria providing for a permanent Russian military presence. This signifies that the Russian commitment to Syria is long term and also indicates that Russians expect a friendly government to survive in Syria.

The Syrian forces in Aleppo city are pushing into the Sheikh Sa’eed district and there is heavy fighting in Sheikh Lufti and Karam al-Tarrab. Five students were killed when Islamists shelled the university in Western Aleppo.

The Russian embassy in Damascus has been shelled from the rebel pocket in the Jobar district, which is under control of  Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and Failak ar-Rahman.

Radical Imams in Mosques around the world are calling for action against Russia.

2 comments

  1. Thank you. I tried to read all the links. Especially I appreciated Max Blumenthal’s report on Alternet about that PR firm.
    I’m afraid you’re not exaggerating.
    Last night I accidentally came across a sermon by Louis Farrakhan on you-tube, He talked at length about US foreign policy, giving a wide spectrum of examples in a colorful way. In the end he addressed the US, quoting from the Koran: “You will lay a trap, and get cought in it.” I found it strangely comforting.



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