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Syrian Civil War News and Discussions

Syria Iraq Turkey Russia Saudi Arabia ISIS Kurds Assad Civil War Iran

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#961
caltrek

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Syria: Opposition denies launching poison gas attack on Aleppo

 

 

https://www.aljazeer...5104423008.html

 

 

 

(Al Jazeera) A leader in the National Liberation Front (NLF), an umbrella organisation of Turkey-backed rebels that includes the Free Syrian Army, has dismissed accusations they used poisonous gas to attack government-held Aleppo city.

 

The head of the NLF's legislative office, Omar Huthayfa, told Al Jazeera the coalition does not possess poisonous gas and said the government is attempting to frame them.

 

"I believe that this is an act carried out by the government. We've seen it in Ghouta and in Khan Sheikhoun in the past and the international community remained silent," Huthayfa told Al Jazeera.

 

“This is why the government has the audacity to continue accusing the opposition of carrying out such attacks when it knows that the opposition doesn't possess even light weaponry for self-defence."

 

His remarks came shortly after Russia - a key Damascus ally - and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government accused opposition fighters of launching chlorine gas attacks on Saturday night.

32358ca045b6401485b43d4b66935a4a_18.jpg

A woman breathes through an oxygen mask after what Syrian state media said was a suspected gas attack in Aleppo

[Sana/Reuters]


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#962
caltrek

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Warplanes target rebels in Aleppo hours after suspected gas attack 

 

https://www.thenatio...attack-1.795734

 

Introduction:

 

(The National) Warplanes struck rebel positions in Aleppo’s countryside on Sunday, hours after the Syrian government accused rebels of launching a poison gas attack, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

 

The air raids are the first since Russia and Turkey agreed in September to create a demilitarised zone in adjacent Idlib to prevent a full-scale government offensive on Syria's last rebel-held province.

 

There were no immediate reports of casualties.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#963
BarkEater93

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US, Turkey Agree to Step Up Cooperation on Syrian Operations

 

 

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his US counterpart Donald Trump agreed Friday to "more effective coordination" between their countries' operations in Syria, according to Turkish presidential sources, after Ankara threatened to launch a new offensive in the war-torn nation.

 
The two leaders spoke by telephone and "agreed to ensure more effective cooperation on the subject of Syria", according to the source.
 
The conversation came after Erdogan on Wednesday warned Turkey was planning to launch a new operation within the "next few days" against the US-backed Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in northern Syria.

 

https://www.devdisco...tions---sources

 

Curiously, US-backed Kurdish led forces have just recently driven ISIS out of their last urban stronghold in Syria. The YPG has been indispensable for the US for one mission: destroying the Islamic State. But as James Jeffrey (the US Special Representative for Syrian Engagement) hinted earlier this week, "Washington's support for the Kurdish warriors is tactical and temporary". 

 

The US is now shifting its focus in the region, and this is where Turkey comes in. Turkey has an imperative to secure its border, the US has an imperative to contain Iran. This is where the two meet. As Turkey grows stronger and asserts itself, it inevitably irritates the United States. But both have an interest, at least for the near to medium-term future, in preserving their relationship. It's just that Turkey is gaining ever more influence over the relationship.



#964
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Despite Assurances From Trump, The U.S. Battle Against ISIS in Eastern Syria Is Far From Over

 

https://theintercept...-us-airstrikes/

 

Introduction: 

(The Intercept) DESPITE ASSURANCES FROM President Donald Trump that the Islamic State is no more, the U.S.-led battle to oust the militant group from its last Syrian stronghold has intensified in recent weeks.

 

Amid heavy fighting between the Kurdish-led, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces and hardened Islamic State fighters, scores of civilians and prisoners have been killed by American airstrikes in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, according to sources on the ground.

 

As part of that campaign, U.S. warplanes bombed a hospital in the village of Al Shaafah late last month, killing patients and the families of medical personnel working there. The hospital was “reduced to only stones and a huge crater in the middle,” an ISIS fighter said in an interview.

 

Two senior U.S. diplomats with knowledge of the fight against ISIS who spoke to us on the condition of anonymity confirmed the airstrike on the hospital. One of them maintained that it was justified and legal. He said the ISIS soldiers were firing at coalition forces from the hospital, making it a legitimate target.

 

On Wednesday, Trump announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, tweeting: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.” What Trump’s announcement means for the aerial campaign against ISIS remains unclear. On Thursday morning Reuters reported that American airstrikes against ISIS would be ending, citing unnamed U.S. officials. Pentagon spokesperson Com. Rebecca Rebarich, however, said in a statement, “As long as there are U.S. troops on the ground, we will conduct air and artillery strikes in support of our forces. We will not speculate on future operations.”


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#965
Sciencerocks

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US envoy quits over Trump Syria pullout
Source: BBC

 

The top US official in the fight against the Islamic State group has quit over President Trump's decision to pull troops from Syria, reports say.

Brett McGurk had planned to leave his role next year but brought his departure forward, CBS and AP reported.

Before Mr Trump's announcement he had insisted that the US would continue working against IS in Syria.

"We want to stay on the ground and make sure that stability can be maintained in these areas," he had said.

 

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/...canada-46661384


"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." - Salman Rushdie


#966
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The US's Syria withdrawal and the wild card of the east

 

https://www.thenatio...e-east-1.805564

 

(Introduction)

 

(The National) Just as Henry Kissinger, the former American secretary of state, callously advocated abandoning the Kurds in 1975 to the scant mercy of Saddam Hussein, US President Donald Trump’s hastily planned withdrawal of US troops from eastern Syria again leaves its erstwhile allies to fend for themselves.

 

The concept of “useful Syria” became popular in 2015, when it seemed that Bashar Al Assad's regime would re-establish control over the western coastal axis with most of Syria’s population, but perhaps not beyond. But eastern Syria is far from useless. It holds all the country’s oil reserves, the Euphrates with its dams, and the Iraqi border.

 

It is thus a vital prize for all those contending to control it: the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and their Arab allies; the Assad regime, along with Iran, Hezbollah and Russia; Turkey; and the remnants of ISIS. The SDF has expanded from its base in the largely Kurdish Hasakah province to control a large swathe of north-eastern Syria, roughly following the Euphrates from ISIS's former capital of Raqqa down to the Iraqi border. But, militarily overstretched, it faces a challenge from the Arab populations in this area, also being solicited by the Iranians.

 

The various dams on the northern part of the Euphrates have several hundred megawatts of electric capacity. In July, the SDF handed over one, Tishreen, to the Syrian army in return for supplying water and power to SDF-held territory. Control of these dams either sustains or threatens not only Syria, but thirsty Iraq downstream, where water protests erupted this summer.

 

Along the southern reaches of the Euphrates in Syria are the oilfields of Deir Al Zor, and the Conoco gas-plant. In the north-eastern corner between Iraq and Turkey, the large heavy oil-fields of Suwaidiyah, Rumailan and others have been under Kurdish control almost since the beginning of the conflict. They produce about 50 000 barrels per day and send a third of it to the Assad-controlled refinery at Homs.


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#967
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The US's Syria withdrawal...

 

...was the only really good thing Donald Trump did on international stage. A kind of Christmas gift to the Syrian people. So far, these are just words, but resignation of US minister of defence (Mattis, if my memory serves) is a sign that Trump is serious about his intentions.



#968
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Mattis signs order withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria
Source: Reuters

 

DECEMBER 24, 2018 / 8:28 AM / UPDATED AN HOUR AGO

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Outgoing U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has signed an order withdrawing U.S. forces from Syria, a Defense Department spokesman said on Monday, following through on a decision by President Donald Trump that helped trigger Mattis’ resignation last week.

The signing, which had been expected, occurred after Trump announced on Sunday that he would replace Mattis two months earlier than expected, a move officials said was driven by the president’s anger at a rebuke of his foreign policy contained in Mattis’ resignation letter.

“The execute order for Syria has been signed,” a Defense Department spokesman said in an email to Reuters that provided no operational details.

Officials have cautioned against a timeline but the withdrawal could begin in weeks. A senior official said a specific plan was being worked on.

 

Read more: https://www.reuters.... Politics News)


"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." - Salman Rushdie


#969
caltrek

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Sciencerocks found this article and posted it in the Turkey Watch Thread

 

Turkey says the US just agreed to more of its demands as Ankara sees expanded power in Syria
Source: CNBC

Quote

President Donald Trump's administration may have just handed Turkey's President Recep Erdogan another win.

Less than a week after Trump's abrupt decision to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, Turkey's foreign minister said Tuesday the U.S. has agreed to complete its previously established "roadmap" to remove all Kurdish militia fighters from the Northern Syrian town of Manbij before U.S. forces clear out.

Ankara has been waiting for this guarantee for a while, complaining since its agreement in June that Washington was dragging its feet on the deal. The U.S. has been supporting the Syria-based Kurdish People's Protection Unit (YPG) as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the Islamic State (IS), but the Turks view those fighting Kurds as linked to a Kurdish terrorist group that's carried out a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state.

... snip...

With the impending departure of U.S. troops from Syria, Turkey will have vast sway to push out Kurdish forces, who now say the feel they are being abandoned by their American partners. Turkish troops have amassed along the Syrian-Turkish border and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels are grouping around Manbij. The Kurds have reportedly begun digging ditches and trenches in anticipation of the offensive, prompting Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar to say Thursday, "they will be buried in their ditches when the time comes.

 

"

Read more: https://www.cnbc.com...ding-syria.html

 

 
Caltrek's comment: I then surfed the web a little and found this June article:
 
 
Introduction:

 

WASHINGTON — An American-backed Syrian Kurdish militia said Tuesday it will leave the strategic town of Manbij under a delicate U.S.-Turkey deal that could ease tensions between the NATO allies and force a realignment of troops along the volatile Syria-Turkey frontier.

 

Illustrating the fragility of the arrangement, the United States and Turkey offered differing descriptions of what the deal entailed, how it would be carried out and when. But ultimately, the Kurdish militia known as the YPG is expected to retreat to east of the Euphrates River, meeting a long-standing demand by Ankara, which considers the militia a terror group tied to a Kurdish insurgency within Turkey’s borders. Ethnic Kurds live on both sides of the border, in southeastern Turkey and northern Syria.

 

So, either negotiations fell through and Trump decided to withdraw anyway, or reports on Kurdish entrenchment are misleading and the Turkish Defense Minister is just blowing a lot of smoke to cover a deal that has been cut.  In any case, another example of the fog of war keeping things confused, at least in my head.


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#970
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Al Jazeera News
‏Verified account @AJENews
2m2 minutes ago

Syrian air defences intercept 'hostile targets' near Damascus https://aje.io/brwb7


"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." - Salman Rushdie


#971
Sciencerocks

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Exclusive: U.S. commanders recommend letting Kurdish fighters in Syria keep weapons
Source: Reuters
 

U.S. commanders planning for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria are recommending that Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State be allowed to keep U.S.-supplied weapons, four U.S. officials said, a move that would likely anger NATO ally Turkey.

Three of the officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the recommendations were part of discussions on a draft plan by the U.S. military. It is unclear what the Pentagon will ultimately recommend to the White House. The plan will then be presented to the White House in the coming days with U.S. President Donald Trump making the final decision.

The Pentagon said it would be “inappropriate” and premature to comment on what will happen with the weapons.

“Planning is ongoing, and focused on executing a deliberate and controlled withdrawal of forces while taking all measures possible to ensure our troops’ safety,” said Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman.
The White House did not comment.

 

Read more: https://www.reuters....SKCN1OR1OD?il=0


"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." - Salman Rushdie


#972
Sciencerocks

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Senator (Graham) Says Trump Is Re-Evaluating Quick Syria Withdrawal
Source: WSJ

 

Trump is re-evaluating a rapid pullout of U.S. troops from Syria, an influential Republican senator said Sunday, signaling White House concerns that a withdrawal could allow Islamic State militants to regain a foothold in the country.

The president’s decision earlier this month marked an abrupt shift in U.S. Middle East policy and helped prompt the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Critics have warned the exit of more than 2,000 U.S. forces could also strengthen Iran’s power and fuel worries about U.S. commitment among other allies around the world. A day after the defense secretary resigned, Brett McGurk, the senior U.S. envoy to the international coalition fighting Islamic State, resigned as well.

(snip)

“I’m going to ask him to sit down with his generals and reconsider how to do this,” Mr. Graham said, saying he wants the administration to “slow this down, make sure we get it right, make sure ISIS never comes back.”

The White House’s National Security Council declined to comment and referred to a Dec. 23 tweet by the president. “I just had a long and productive call with President @RT_Erdogan of Turkey,” Mr. Trump wrote. “We discussed ISIS, our mutual involvement in Syria, & the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area. After many years they are coming home. We also discussed heavily expanded trade.”

 

 

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/...wal-11546194357


"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." - Salman Rushdie


#973
Sciencerocks

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Trump Hits Back At 'Failed Generals' Who Were 'Unable To Do The Job' Over Syria Withdrawal Criticism
Source: Mediaite

 

by Colby Hall | Dec 31st, 2018, 8:32 am

President Donald Trump is pushing back on criticism about the sudden announcement from a week and a half ago about plans to remove U.S. troops from Syria and that ISIS was defeated. This decision reportedly came despite advice from military and intelligence leadership and eventually led to the protest resignation from Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

On New Year’s Eve, President Trump apparently felt the need to clear the air and defend his position via a short series of tweets that explained his process as a simple fulfillment of his campaign promise. And, as his is wont, he included some not-so-subtle digs at his detractors.

 

Following the announced plans to withdrawal, Trump has received bipartisan criticism for the planned withdrawal. Senator Lindsey Graham, a close Senate ally to the White House, notably was vocal in pushing back on this plan, though his rhetoric has softened more recently.

Trump’s dig at “some failed generals” is certainly a dig at Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who in a recent interview with ABC News’ Martha Raddatz, spared little criticism for a president who he sees as “immoral.

###

 

Read more: https://www.mediaite...awal-criticism/
 


"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." - Salman Rushdie


#974
Sciencerocks

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Trump to Allow Months for Troop Withdrawal in Syria, Officials Say
 

Trump has agreed to give the military about four months to withdraw the 2,000 United States troops in Syria, administration officials said on Monday, backtracking from his abrupt order two weeks ago that the military pull out within 30 days.

Mr. Trump confirmed on Twitter that troops would “slowly” be withdrawn, but complained that he got little credit for the move after a fresh round of criticism from retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and revelations from the departing White House chief of staff, John F. Kelly, himself a retired Marine general, about the president’s impulsive decision-making.

“If anybody but Donald Trump did what I did in Syria, which was an ISIS loaded mess when I became President, they would be a national hero,” Mr. Trump wrote. “ISIS is mostly gone, we’re slowly sending our troops back home to be with their families, while at the same time fighting ISIS remnants.”

 

https://www.msn.com/...ENmq?li=BBnb7Kz


"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." - Salman Rushdie


#975
caltrek

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Bolton dials back Trump’s vow to withdraw US troops from Syria

 

https://thinkprogres...n-73b333b757d5/

 

Introduction:

(Think Progress) President Trump will not withdraw US troops in Syria without assurances from Turkey that it won’t attack the Kurdish troops helping the United States fight ISIS, National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Sunday.

 

Bolton’s comments come just three weeks after Trump announced he would immediately withdraw all U.S. forces from the country, a decision that was widely condemned even by some members of the president’s own party.

 

Bolton seemed intent on reframing the move Sunday, speaking with reporters while in Israel.

 

“There are objectives that we want to accomplish that condition the withdrawal,” Bolton said, according to NBC.

 

“This is a cause and effect mission. Timetables or the timing of the withdrawal occurs as a result of the fulfillment of the conditions and the establishment of the circumstances that we want to see. And once that’s done, then you talk about a timetable.”


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#976
Sciencerocks

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AFP news agency
‏Verified account @AFP
2h2 hours ago

#BREAKING Ceasefire deal sees jihadists take over Syria's Idlib: reports


"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." - Salman Rushdie


#977
Sciencerocks

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The Daily Beast
‏Verified account @thedailybeast
42s42 seconds ago

Troop withdrawal from Syria has begun, says U.S. military official


"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." - Salman Rushdie


#978
caltrek

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Defense Department Abruptly Stops Releasing Key Details On Strikes In War Against ISIS

 

https://theintercept...es-us-military/

 

Introduction:

 (The Intercept) THE DEFENSE DEPARTMENT has quietly halted its practice of issuing detailed “strike releases,” periodic reports that provided information about bombings targeting Islamic State fighters, buildings, and equipment in Iraq and Syria.

 

The change comes as the U.S. military has ramped up its bombing offensive against ISIS in eastern Syria following President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement of a troop withdrawal last month. While many of the U.S.-led coalition’s actions against ISIS were shrouded in secrecy, the strike releases, which the military has been issuing since the start of the campaign against ISIS in 2014, were valuable tools for watchdogs that work to corroborate reports of civilian casualties.

 

“The only claim I’ve seen publicly made is that with ISIS almost beat, there’s less need for detailed releases,” said Chris Woods, the founder of Airwars, a London-based nonprofit that monitors and assesses civilian harm from bombing campaigns in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. “Yet both strikes and civilian harm are at their highest levels since Raqqa. Reducing transparency is entirely counterproductive in our view.”

 

In a note appended to the top of its January 4 strike release, the Defense Department announced that strike releases would be cut from weekly to biweekly. The subtext of the announcement is that even with biweekly releases, transparency about the bombings, including the dates of specific strikes and the buildings or groups targeted, has become the latest collateral damage.

 

Between December 16 and December 29, 2018, the coalition against ISIS “conducted 469 strikes consisting of 1,001 engagements in Syria, and conducted nine strikes consisting of 14 engagements in Iraq,” the strike release read. No dates were provided and targets were so vaguely described (“fighting positions,” “seven buildings”) that researching specific bombings is nearly impossible.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#979
starspawn0

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This is amusing:  The Intercepted podcast had Gareth Porter on:
 
https://mobile.twitt...533587976392704

https://mobile.twitt...447438952603648

@GarethPorter did the same thing [as Max Blumenthal] for @AlterNet, implying the attack was a White Helmets false flag. Will he update?


He was also a Khmer Rouge apologist:

https://mobile.twitt...346154162397185

Reminds me of Seymour Hersh. I don't recall that Hersh was a Khmer Rouge apologist, but he has lately become a nut with some of his commentary. Hersh had a respectable career, broke several important stories (including the one about the My Lai Massacre). What a way to end a career!... from truth to fake news.

#980
Sciencerocks

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Lindsey Graham says Trump's Syria statements emboldened ISIS
Source: CNN

https://www.cnn.com/...rump/index.html

Updated 2:25 PM ET, Wed January 16, 2019


Washington (CNN)Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that he is concerned President Donald Trump's statements about Syria have emboldened ISIS and called on the President to rethink his decision to withdraw US troops from the country after the terror group claimed responsibility for a deadly explosion that killed US service members in the city of Manbij.

Graham, who was a harsh critic of Trump's plans to bring home US troops from Syria when the decision was announced last month, interrupted the confirmation hearing for Attorney General nominee William Barr to weigh in on the attack.

"My concern, by the statements made by President Trump, is that you set in motion enthusiasm by the enemy we're fighting. You make people we're trying to help wonder about us. And as they get bolder, the people we're trying to help are going to get more uncertain. I saw this in Iraq. And I'm now seeing it in Syria," he said.

"Every American wants our troops to come home, but I think all of us want to make sure that when they do come home, we're safe," he added. ..................................

 


"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist." - Salman Rushdie






Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Syria, Iraq, Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia, ISIS, Kurds, Assad, Civil War, Iran

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