An unnamed senior Western official told the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the plans are part of a new strategy for Syria currently being drafted by the Trump administration.
Washington is planning ‘concrete steps’ toward providing a Syrian Democratic Forces-controlled area in northern Syria’s eastern Euphrates area three times the size of Lebanon with diplomatic recognition, a leading Arabic international newspaper has reported.
The 28,000 square km territory, controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a collection of predominantly Kurdish militias including the YPG People’s Protection Units, took its first step toward US recognition after US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis promised to send US diplomats to SDF-controlled areas to work alongside US troops operating in the region, the official said.
Moscow has noted “strange coincidences” surrounding a terrorist attack on a Russian airbase and port facility in Syria, in which guided combat drones were deployed by militants. These include a US spy plane spotted in the area.
The Russian Ministry of Defense consciously didn’t point any fingers when talking about the January 6 attack on Russia’s airbase and port facility in Syria, the Tuesday statement said, but added that technology used in the attack was telling.
Advanced training in engineering in “one of the developed countries” would be necessary to program the principal controllers and bomb-release systems of an aircraft-type combat drone, the statement stressed. “Not everyone is also able to get exact [attack] coordinates from the space surveillance data,” it added.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial withdraw of troops from Syria back in December, militants have been eager to gain an edge with swarming high-tech drones that have remarkable long-range capabilities. The one question that Russia, and others, are asking in this incident: who is supplying the militants with these high-tech, long-range drones?
Russian military have repelled a massive drone attack on its bases in Syria, which was carried out by militants, Moscow said. The extremists may have been aided by a “technologically advanced state,” it added.
The militants launched their assault during the night on Saturday, the ministry said in a statement. The Russian Kheimim Airbase in the Syrian Latakia province was attacked by 10 unmanned combat aerial vehicles, while three more attempted a strike against the Russian maritime logistics base located in the city of Tartus.
All of the drones were detected by anti-aircraft defense systems “at a considerable distance from the Russian military objects,” the ministry said. Seven of them were then successfully shot down by the Russian Panzir-S air-defense system.
New footage has recently emerged which offers further confirmation that the US coalition facilitated the exit of Islamic State terrorists from Raqqa when the city was liberated in October. Fighters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) confirmed from Raqqa that they had shot the footage showing militants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIL/ISIS) peacefully leaving Raqqa on their watch.
Thought to have been filmed towards the end of the battle for Raqqa, the footage shows buses and trucks carrying dozens of IS militants from the embattled city, according to one of the fighters.
“This is the footage we shot. We still keep them,” said the SDF fighter in late November, holding the mobile phone on which the footage was recorded. “We saw them with our own eyes. I was on shift at the Grain Containers turnabout when IS were leaving. There were many of them, we were not afraid of them,” he said.
An investigative report by the BBC in early November alleged a “secret deal” that allowed hundreds of IS fighters to depart embattled Raqqa under the eyes of the SDF in early October, as the fight for the city was drawing to a close in early October.
The new footage was obtained from the SDF and published online a week ago. In the above clip, SDF members also confirm that they filmed the ISIS convoys leaving on their personal cell phones. The BBC also confirmed the deal which even allowed foreign fighters to relocate to different parts of Syria and even neighboring countries like Turkey.
The BBC leaked details of the deal in a bombshell report which began: “The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city.”
Declarations of victory over ISIS by both Iraq and Syria, along with Russia, are not having an impact on US military policy in the region, according to Defense Secretary James Mattis, who insisted on Friday that “the war is not over.”
Which isn’t to say that the US is determined to keep fighting a war against ISIS, as such, but rather that there’s definitely going to be a war against somebody in those countries. Mattis in particular has been keen to talk up the idea of an “ISIS 2.0” emerging in areas ISIS has been expelled from.
Two mass graves uncovered near the former terrorist stronghold of Raqqa became the final resting place for dozens of Syrians executed by ISIS. The effort to recover their remains is underway, with at least 115 bodies found so far.
After the liberation of the former capital of the self-styled Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) terrorist caliphate, two mass graves were discovered by returning civilians who then alerted the Syrian military of the gruesome find, Syria’s state SANA agency reported citing a field commander.
The Syrian army moved to verify the reports and confirmed the horrific claim. Corpses of dozens of soldiers and civilians were piled up under the sand. A civil defense team have been digging out the improvised graves to recover the remains.
H/t reader squodgy:
“This won’t do the US/Rothschilds any good at all with those who read it.
This is a classic example of flip-flop policy. In November, the US promised Turkey to stop arming Kurdish militias in Syria after the Islamic State was routed. Brett McGurk, the US Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat Islamic State, explained that after the urban fighting in Raqqa was over “adjustments in the level of military support” would be made. “We had to give some equipment – and it’s limited, extremely limited – all of which was very transparent to our NATO ally, Turkey,” he said during a special briefing on December 21. In June, the US told Turkey it would take back weapons supplied to the Kurdish the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in northern Syria after the defeat of Islamic State.
But sophisticated weapons will continue to be sent to Syria in 2018, including thousands of anti-tank rocket launchers, heat seeking missiles and rocket launchers. The list of weaponry and equipment was prepared by US Department of Defense as part of the 2018 defense budget and signed by Trump of Dec. 12. It includes more than 300 non-tactical vehicles, 60 nonstandard vehicles, and 30 earth-moving vehicles to assist with the construction of outposts or operations staging areas. The US defense spending bill for 2018 (“Justification for FY 2018 Overseas Contingency Operations / Counter-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Train and Equip Fund”) includes providing weapons worth $393 million to US partners in Syria. Overall, $500 million, roughly $70 million more than last year, are to be spent on Syria Train and Equip requirements. The partners are the Kurds-dominated Syria Democratic Forces (SDF). The YPG – the group that is a major concern of Turkey – is the backbone of this force.
Once again, Turkey’s leader has thrown a spanner into the Astana peace process, as he dog whistles to the Muslim Brotherhood support base.
This week, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan performed yet another u-turn by declaring that Syrian President Bashar Assad is “a terrorist” during a news conference in Tunis.
“Assad is definitely a terrorist who has carried out state terrorism,” Erdogan said. “It is impossible to continue with Assad. How can we embrace the future with a Syrian president who has killed close to a million of his citizens?”
Erdogan added that ‘peace would not come to Syria while Assad remained as Syria’s president.
Watch as political commentator Nedka Babliku sits down with Adam Garrie to discuss this story, as well as who they think are the most dominant figures of 2017 – Trump, Kim, Assad, or Duterte? Watch:
Russian pilots always managed to get behind US-led coalition fighter jets they encountered in the skies over Syria, a Russian ace said after receiving a state award from President Putin at the Kremlin.
“When meeting our partners from the Western coalition in the air, we always found ourselves ‘on their tails’ as the pilots say, which means victory in a dogfight,” Russian Airspace Forces major, Maksim Makolin, said.
The so-called ‘lag pursuit’ when the nose of an attacking plane points at the tail of the opponent’s aircraft is considered the optimum location in an aerial fight. It allows the plane at the back a range of options, from increasing or maintaining range without overshooting to freely attacking, all the while remaining concealed in the blind spot behind the defending aircraft.
Though details about which militant group carried out the attack and the fate of the pilot remain sketchy, a video has surfaced on social media showing a militant firing what appears to be a shoulder-mounted anti-aircraft gun into the sky.
The projectile appears to strike an object, then, moments later, a plume of smoke rises from the ground in the distance. All the while, machine guns can be heard in the background.
According to Russia Today, it was not immediately clear which militant group was responsible for the attack, but the so-called Free Idlib Army, an offshoot of the Free Syrian Army, claimed responsibility on social media and in a statement to Turkish Anadolu news agency. Reuters also reported that Tahrir al-Sham, an Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, had also claimed responsibility.
Russia’s defense ministry has announced it is now in the process of establishing two permanent military bases in war-torn Syria after President Putin authorized prior deals with the Syrian government to move forward. Though Russia maintains merely up to ten military bases on foreign soil, the installations in Tartus and Khmeimim will be the most strategically located, allowing for a growing and permanent Russian presence on the Mediterranean, something which has already raised eyebrows in the West.
Though Putin formally announced the planned withdrawal of Russian forces from active operations in Syria in early December, there were parallel plans going back to at least early summer to maintain a smaller permanent presence based on an agreement with the Damascus government to host Russian forces for at least 49 more years, which includes the option of being prolonged further. Personnel and military hardware will be stationed at permanent Russian bases in Tartus and Khmeimim – both of which are on or near the Mediterranean.
🆘‼️🎅🎄 This is not Paris, Brussels, London, nor Amsterdam or Berlin. This is #Christmas in Syrian #Damascus under the evil and terrible President #Assad, but without heavily armed police and Allahu-Akbar terror concrete barriers. Very strange, right! pic.twitter.com/R3zWSVkljY