The Syrian government’s chemical attack on civilians in the rebel-held suburb of Douma this weekend is the complete responsibility of the war criminal Bashar Assad, his Russian bedfellows, and his Iranian bankers. However, the fact that President Trump had announced that the U.S. is nearly finished its mission to defeat ISIS (which is questionable) and wants to leave Syria quickly may have encouraged the others to speed up their efforts to divide Syria’s corpse.
Pro-regime fighters were expected Monday to enter Syria’s Afrin after talks with Kurdish forces, in a move that could pave the way for a settlement in a month-old Turkish assault on the northern enclave.
“Popular forces will arrive in Afrin within a few hours to support its people’s stand against the Turkish regime’s attack on the area and its people,” state news agency SANA said, citing its correspondent in Aleppo.
SANA said the forces would “join the resistance against the Turkish aggression”.
More… Syria Surprise: Now Assad’s Troops Are Helping US-Backed Kurds Fight Off Turkey
A top U.S. diplomat in the fight against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) has praised recent talks with Syrian tribal leaders slated to play a large role in governing Raqqa once the jihadists are expelled.
But the plan to create a careful balance of local power on the ground in Raqqa that will likely see former ISIS-affiliated officials ultimately in charge could cause a split between the U.S. and its Kurdih allies.
Brett McGurk, who was appointed special Presidential Envoy to the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS by former President Barack Obama in 2015, recently tweeted a picture of himself with tribal leaders near Raqqa, once the de facto capital of the jihadist’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
There are no allies to be had among the Muslim states of the Middle East.
The west’s policy on Syria has been thrown into disarray due to sweeping advances by al-Qaida-linked militants in the north-west of the country, gaining the military upper hand in the largest area of opposition-held territory.
The assertion of control by Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS), the former al-Qaida affiliate previously known as the al-Nusra front and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, over the province of Idlib amid the scaling back of American support for rebel groups has led to fears that Assad’s allies, including Moscow, would use the move as a pretext for a broad and devastating military campaign.
“The future of the north is in great danger,” said Michael Ratney, the US state department’s Syria envoy, in a statement posted online. “If [Hayat Tahrir al Sham’s] control of Idlib is realised it will be difficult for the US to convince other international parties to refrain from necessary military measures.”
“The coalition only supports the forces committed to fighting ISIS,” Army Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, told reporters Thursday, adding that “one of the partner forces that [the coalition] was working with” had objectives that “were not consistent with defeating ISIS.”
The colonel identified the group as “Shuhada al-Qaryatayn, commonly referred to as the Shuq” and said that it is stationed in the al-Tanf area in southern Syria.
A series of car bomb explosions were heard in the city after police chased three suspected car bombers through the streets.
A Shiite Crescent running from Iran through Syria and to the Mediterranean would be bad for Sunni powers and Western democracies.
The U.S. shoots down a Syrian fighter-bomber. Iran launches missiles into eastern Syria. Russia threatens to attack coalition aircraft west of the Euphrates. What is going on? It might appear a mindless mess, but the outlines are clear.
The great Muslim civil war, centered in Syria, is approaching its post–Islamic State phase. It’s the end of the beginning. The parties are maneuvering to shape what comes next.
The mortar shells came early in the morning. At about 5. At regular intervals. Solemn and sinister. They were a reminder of how close it all was. We were in the old city of Damascus. There was still fighting in Jobar, about two kilometers away. The rebels had also counter-attacked from the east, from the suburbs in eastern Ghouta, in the previous week. A shell had landed in the precinct of the Umayyad Mosque. This was not in accordance with the line being promoted by the regime, according to which the rebellion was on the verge of defeat.
Hundreds of Syrian rebel fighters and their families were evacuated from Damascus for the first time on Monday, bringing the government one step closer to recapturing all of the prized capital city.
Fighters in the district of Barzeh, which is besieged by regime forces, surrendered in exchange for safe passage to other opposition-held areas.
Some of the 1,500 men, women and children expected to leave on Monday were pictured boarding government buses, carrying duffel bags and suitcases.
Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad is a tyrant who “gasses his own people,” Reuters reported this week, expressing a revulsion echoed countless times in the wake of the latest chemical attack in Syria on innocent women and children.
This Western viewpoint is fundamentally confused, explaining why the West is unable to understand the tragedy of Syria, and to end it.
A few of us have been predicting for several years now that the so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria backed by the CIA would inevitably collapse into the surging camp of Sunni extremists.
And now that is exactly what has happened, thus signaling the beginning of the end of any pretension of a “moderate opposition” to back in Syria.
Syria’s rebels lost all of the northern neighbourhoods of their stronghold in east Aleppo on Monday, as the army gained significant ground in its offensive to recapture the entire city.
The regime’s advance has prompted an exodus of desperate civilians, some fleeing to districts held by the government or Kurdish forces, others heading south into areas still under rebel control.
The rebel losses suggested it was only a matter of time before all of east Aleppo – held by the opposition since 2012 – was back in government hands.
Russia is showing the west how to win a war.
Assad and his allies have carried out war crimes. But so have the rebels
For the past few weeks, British news-papers have been informing their readers about two contrasting battles in the killing grounds of the Middle East. One is Mosul, in northern Iraq, where western reporters are accompanying an army of liberation as it frees a joyful population from terrorist control. The other concerns Aleppo, just a few hundred miles to the west. This, apparently, is the exact opposite. Here, a murderous dictator, hellbent on destruction, is waging war on his own people.
Both these narratives contain strong elements of truth.
The UN has hired scores of friends and political associates of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, as part of its relief operation in the country, according to documents leaked to the Guardian.
The staff lists show that relatives of high-ranking ministers have been on the Damascus payroll of UN agencies, including the refugee agency UNHCR and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
A week-old truce in Syria brokered by the US and Russia appears close to unravelling, with alleged violations by government and rebel forces mounting.
A US-backed rebel group in the divided northern city of Aleppo said the initiative had “practically failed”.