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Thread: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

  1. Link to Post #1081
    Scotland Avalon Member Ewan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Robert Fisk, one of the better journalists, writing for The Independent, meets up with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the statment "England is helping ISIS" survives the editorial process.

    Iranian-revolutionary-guards-battling-outside-aleppo - The Independent

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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    ISIS-FINANCIAL UPDATE (TO THE SHAREHOLDERS PRESUMABLY!)

    the below appeared in the business press in London-it almost reads like an executive report to the owners by the Directors.

    Excellent article however as usual in the West it manages to present an account of reality that ignores the facts that Assad remains popular, and that popularity stretches beyond his own Alawite Minority. In fact, if he was achieving 70-80% approval that means that a large number of the Majority Sunnis were supportive of Assad's attempt at Secular Baathism.

    It cannot be mentioned in the press here that the cease fire has only been a direct result of the Russian action. Touch wood, Putin has played a blinder! We are hearing rumblings about dumping Turkey out of Nato, Erdogan's leash has been tugged, so hopefully he will pull back. The Saudis have been threatened with tactical Nukes, and Putin can legally use these on the Saudi's on Syrian territory if they invade.I hope that holds them back.

    The Saudis are demanding three divisions of Sunni Pakistani troops.

    Thanks Putin for the success so far! However this is in no way the end of ISIS. People have had a taste of living in a Sunni 'state' that is a clear enemy of corrupt Arab governments, Secular Russia and Western Dajjals. They will remember that initially when it was well funded, it did establish a working state. The genie has been released. If eastern Syria remains a pile of rubble & desert populated by starving people, the ISIS genie with thrive on, if only in the hearts of some people.

    So reconstruction, aid and a revitalised secular state in Syria are VITAL to minimise the genie's on-going influence.

    Quote Islamic State earnings call: Why the terrorist group's 2014 financial boom is a distant memory – but the 2015 decline won't be fatal

    In these pages 12 months ago, as companies revealed their year-end financial results and governments made their annual promises of greater things to come, I reflected on the financial reporting of a new arrival – an entity that had, during 2014, emerged from the financial shadows, and was heralded as being “…as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen”. But in my view, the terrorist group’s finances faced a difficult year ahead.
    In January 2015, Isis updated analysts on its financial position, reporting an expected surplus of $250m after expenditure of $2bn, including countless spending commitments such as monthly wages for the poor and disabled, orphans, widows and families of individuals killed in airstrikes. Unsurprisingly, the surplus was to be invested in its war effort. Twelve months later it seems only right to assess its financial pledges and seek to determine whether the robust cashflow and fortress balance sheet the group claimed in early 2015 remains today, and whether its rhetoric of welfare for all has become a reality.
    In recent weeks, analysts of Isis have started to notice tell-tale signs of financial stress as 2015’s claims of robust earnings and strong solvency have come under considerable strain. In contrast to 2014, 2015 was a very different financial year for Isis. Time and the pressure brought to bear by coalition airstrikes are undoubtedly having a noticeable and measurable effect on the group’s funding. First, a failure to expand its territory means that the exceptional items Isis recorded in 2014, as it captured bank vaults, oil storage facilities and grain silos, have not been repeated. Second, its earnings run-rate has declined sharply as airstrikes have destroyed the key funding source of oil, related products (estimated by the US Treasury to have been worth up to $500m per annum) and the distribution infrastructure of tankers that helped the group to monetise this resource.
    Third, since August 2015, the Iraq state has stopped paying an estimated $170m per month to state employees still working in Isis-controlled territory, salary that was taxed at up to 50 per cent by the group. And further, existing financial resources have reportedly been incinerated in recent airstrikes as cash storage facilities have been hit. In sum, Isis faces a material restriction on cashflow as the excess it reported in early 2015 has surely turned negative.
    Like any business or state facing a fall in earnings, Isis is taking steps to rationalise its operations, cut costs, and boost income from its remaining sources. Gone are the freely offered welfare commitments made in the halcyon days at the dawn of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s caliphate to the people in the territory it controls and those it seeks to attract. Further commitments, such as those made in the group’s Dabiq magazine, to provide healthcare, food and commodities in the markets have been conspicuous by their absence for months. For those living under Isis control, access to food and supplies for cooking and heating have long been expensive at best and non-existent at worst. Gone too are the generous benefits offered to fighters and their families. Salaries have purportedly been slashed by 50 per cent in Isis’s main city of Raqqa and even incidentals such as free energy drinks and snacks have also been axed. For a proto-state that spends up to two thirds of its budget on maintaining its military capability, such financial hardship is potentially catastrophic.
    And in perhaps the most telling sign that financial hardship is taking its toll, the Gold Dinar, the currency of the caliphate, hailed in 2015 as a means of breaking free from enslavement to the US dollar, has failed to materialise. Worse still, the “fraudulent US dollar note” that the Gold Dinar was billed to replace has become the preferred tax-raising currency for Isis when collecting payments for the limited utilities it supplies.
    So will 2015’s financial decline be fatal for Isis? The simple answer is no. The complexities of the conflict across Syria and Iraq mean that, for as long as the current chaos continues and the international community remains divided in its approach to confronting the various factions fighting in this five-year long war, the group will thrive in some form: a diminished version of its current incarnation, or a restructured and refocused group turning to criminality and tapping new sources of funding such as the regional or global drugs trade harnessed so effectively by Hezbollah.
    The financial boom of 2014 is a distant memory for Isis. What surplus it had has surely been spent as the international community has undermined its earnings power through the removal of territory and the destruction of its lucrative oil assets and infrastructure.
    2016 is set to see further financial decay. But while this may inhibit the group’s activity across Syria and Iraq, operations in “new markets” such as Libya, Egypt, and Western Europe seem likely to ensure the group’s survival for some time yet.
    by Tom Keatinge - 25 February 2016 4:32am
    Tom Keatinge is director of the Centre for Financial Crime & Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, and a former investment banker at JP Morgan.


    http://www.cityam.com/235336/islamic...-wont-be-fatal
    Last edited by Baby Steps; 26th February 2016 at 13:24.
    we have subcontracted the business of healing people to Companies who profit from sickness.

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  5. Link to Post #1083
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    100 rebel groups???

    No wonder this is such a nightmare ...

    _______________


    Solid progress: Nearly 100 rebel groups sign up to Syrian ceasefire deal

    Sputnik
    Fri, 26 Feb 2016 13:57 UTC


    The Syrian opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC) said on Friday that nearly 100 rebel groups have agreed to the recently negotiated Russian-US ceasefire in the Arab republic.

    As co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), Moscow and Washington announced a plan for a ceasefire between the Syrian government and rebel forces starting this Saturday.

    The ceasefire does not apply to Daesh jihadist group or other designated terrorist organizations, including al-Nusra Front.


    http://www.sott.net/article/313109-S...ceasefire-deal

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  7. Link to Post #1084
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Minsk Violations - Mercenaries Discovered - Ukrainian Indiscipline

    Irina Burya 07 seconds ago



    This is a new, and, we hope, not long-lived feature on Russia Insider. Ukraine’s civil war is still very much ongoing. Both sides are exchanging fire. Civilians and soldiers continue to die on both sides.

    DONi was recently founded by a Finnish journalist and Russian businessman whom we know, and we have every reason to believe that their reporting can be relied on as truthful. More information about the agency follows below this report.

    Due to its slow, simmering nature, events in Novorossiya rarely make headlines, so people forget there is a real war going on.

    Donetsk, Thursday, Feb 25, 16.30 pm. Exclusive to Russia Insider

    (Attn readers: this is frequent feature - if you would like to have clarification of facts mentioned here, additional information, more explanation of why certain events are happening, please ask us in the comments section, or email the author at: i.burya@dninews.com This will help us provide you with information you want to have.)

    Over the past two days the intensity of shelling has decreased. The 207 incidents of shelling reported by the DPR Defense Ministry are a less terrifying experience than the roughly 800 incidents of shelling before. Nevertheless they still threaten the lives of civilians and cause a considerable damage to their homes. According to the Ministry, the latest shelling resulted in two civilians being wounded in a suburb of Donetsk and a 10-year-old boy suffering shell-shock in Gorlovka, a city to the north of the capital of the DPR.

    The heavy shelling forced the DPR Ministry of Transport to suspend repair works on the segment of the railway that had been damaged by a Ukrainian sabotage group several days ago. This part of the railway is the main line for transporting coal mined in the DPR, in particular to Ukraine. Due to the explosion, coal supplies to Ukraine were stopped. However, Kiev seems more interested in destruction of the DPR infrastructure than in the unencumbered functioning of Ukrainian industry.

    The threat posed to civilian life and property forces the DPR Army to return fire. Over the past two days the Ukrainian military authorities have reported receiving 102 incidents of shelling on their positions by the DPR Armed Forces, indicating that both sides are not observing the ceasefire.

    (Credibility - DONi closely follows the reports of the governments of the DPR and their Ukrainian counterparts and secures independent confirmation when possible. In our experience, the DPR’s claims are correct approximately 95% of the time, whereas official Ukrainian reports are almost never correct, and for all appearances, deliberately so.)

    Under intensive artillery cover, Kiev continues to seize localities within the buffer zone delineated by the Minsk negotiations. Two days ago, during the heaviest shelling, Ukrainian social networks exploded with posts celebrating the taking by Ukrainian forces of one such locality near Donetsk, even though such creeping advances represent open violations of the Minsk Agreement.

    Today the press service of the Ukrainian military headquarters has confirmed this fact, adding that another small town in the south of Donbass is also under Ukrainian control. Besides this, the OSCE mission reported the presence of six Ukrainian infantry fighting vehicles in yet another locality within the grey zone that is supposed to be totally demilitarized.

    The OSCE international observers also informed that they had not been allowed to inspect a checkpoint of the Ukrainian forces in the Lugansk region. It is possible that Kiev in such a way tries to prevent detection of foreign mercenaries quartered in these areas. DPR intelligence has repeatedly reported from their sources on the ground of the observation of English-, Polish- and Arabian-speaking soldiers near the front line.

    Several days ago the LPR Defense Ministry also reported of the existence of a group of 30 soldiers, apparently belonging to a US private military company, located in an elite cottage settlement in the north of the Lugansk region. The settlement is heavily guarded by Ukrainian soldiers: its perimeter is patrolled and the entrances have checkpoints. According to local residents, the unit provides protection to the OSCE representatives as well as trains the Ukrainian military.

    Kiev previously always insisted that foreign mercenaries were merely being used as instructors for Ukrainian forces. However, two days ago it was officially announced that US snipers are to take part in the hostilities in Donbass on the Ukrainian side. At a press conference of the Georgian National Legion, which became a part of the nationalist battalion Kievan Rus, one of these snipers was introduced as already a member, with ten more to follow.

    The Ukrainian authorities need mercenaries because their own army is collapsing. DPR intelligence has repeatedly reported of extremely low morale in the regular-army units, demonstrated by their constant drinking, marauding, and fighting of each other. Two days ago in the south of Donbass there was a fire at a local market that partially destroyed the main source of provision for the locals. According to Ukrainian media a probable cause of fire was violation of fire safety rules in using electrical appliances. The town residents, however, informed that the market had been set alight by Ukrainian soldiers after they plundered it while searching mostly for alcohol.

    Aside from increasing the numbers of mercenaries on the front line, Kiev also reportedly continues to amass weapons and equipment there. According to DPR intelligence, over the past two days alone, one 220mm “Uragan” MLRS, eleven 152mm and 120mm motorised artillery systems, 38 tanks, 11 infantry fighting vehicles, four mortars and one 85mm anti-tank cannon D-44 has arrived on the front line. (See pictures below for weapons mentioned).

    In addition, OSCE observers have noted in their latest report the presence of previously undocumented military equipment. It would seem that in terms of weapons and military equipment, Kiev is guided more by its plans to escalate the conflict than by the Minsk Agreement to resolve it.

    ---------------------

    The Donetsk International News Agency is a private, non-profit information agency located in the center of the city of Donetsk. It is headed by Finnish journalist, Janus Putkonen and has 10 full time journalists on staff. Approximately half of them are natives of Western European countries. Its website is: www.dninews.com
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Putin Hopes US Understands Terrorists Not Protected by Syrian Ceasefire


    Politics14:29 26.02.2016(updated 14:55 26.02.2016) Get short URL


    © Sputnik/ Alexei Druzhinin

    Vladimir Putin hopes his American partners understand that the fight against terrorism in Syria should continue even after the ceasefire goes into effect.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Russia hopes the United States understands that the fight against Daesh as well as against other terrorist groups in Syria must continue even after the cessation of hostilities agreement goes into effect, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday.

    “However, I would like to emphasize once again that the groups of Daesh, al-Nusra Front, and other terrorist organizations recognized as such by the UN Security Council are not included [in the agreement]. The decisive fight against them will obviously continue. I would like to express my hope that no one has forgotten that besides IS there are still other terrorist organizations, as I have said already, that have been acknowledged as such by the UN Security Council,” Putin said during a meeting with the members of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

    Earlier this week, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told RIA Novosti that Russia and the United States were in talks over the preparation of the draft UN Security Council resolution. The draft will reportedly be put up for a vote on Friday. On Monday, the United States and Russia, the co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), announced a plan for a cessation of hostilities between the warring parties in Syria to go into effect on Saturday, February 27. The agreement has been approved by the other 17 members of the ISSG.

    Syria has been in a state of civil war since 2011, with the army loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting several opposition factions and militant organizations, including Daesh terrorist group, which is banned in a number of countries, including Russia and the United States.


    Related:
    Out to Win: Why Syria Ceasefire Deal is a Huge Victory for Russia
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Anyone else see a problem here???



    ________________


    Kerry: 30,000 US Troops Needed for “Safe Zone” in Syria

    Safe zone would risk confrontation with Russia

    Kurt Nimmo | Infowars.com - February 25, 2016


    Secretary of State John Kerry took his “Plan B” to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Wednesday. He said a proposed “safe zone” in Syria would require between 15,000 and 30,000 US troops.

    “Our Pentagon estimates that to have a true safe zone in the north of the country you may have upwards of fifteen to thirty thousand troops. Now are we ready to authorize that? Are we ready to put them on the ground?” Kerry said.

    The Obama administration previously discounted the idea of establishing a safe zone. On July 23 retired U.S. general John Allen said an “air exclusion zone” inside Syria was not “part of the conversation” with Turkey during negotiations allowing US planes to use the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to conduct airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.


    http://www.infowars.com/kerry-30000-...zone-in-syria/

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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    What that "Safe Zone" is intended to be used for:


    Terrorists Receive New Arms Cargos from Turkey

    Wed Feb 24, 2016 2:46



    TEHRAN (FNA)- The terrorists stationed in the Northern outskirts of Lattakia city have been equipped with new cargoes of weapons reportedly coming from Turkey.

    The new batch of arms includes BM-21 122-mm Grad multiple rocket launchers, sources said on Wednesday.

    Lattakia is a province bordering Turkey. The Syrian army and popular forces have recently pushed the militant groups back from more territories in the Northern part of Lattakia province and took back several villages and heights.

    Earlier this week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that more than 80 nations, particularly Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have provided financial, logistical and material assistance to terrorist groups, who are fighting in Syria.

    The Syrian leader described foreign sponsorship as "active" and "unlimited." Some of those countries support radicals "directly with money, with logistical support, with armaments, with recruitments," he noted in an interview with Spain's El Pais newspaper.

    Others help "them politically, in different international forums", he added.

    Assad accused Saudi Arabia of being the key financial backer of the militants, who are trying to overthrow him. He also urged the international community to prevent "other countries, specially Turkey, from sending more recruits, more terrorists, more armaments, or any kind of logistical support" to terrorists, if it wants to see an efficient ceasefire in Syria.
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Iraqi Commanders: Volunteer Forces to Continue Mosul Battle Despite US Pressures

    Wed Feb 24, 2016 6:40



    TEHRAN (FNA)- The Iraqi volunteer forces (Hashd al-Shaabi) commanders reiterated that they are determined to continue their tough battle against the ISIL in a bid to take full control of the city of Mosul in Northern Iraq, and said that they will pay no heed to the US pressures aimed at preventing them from doing so.

    "We are committed to the Iraqi government's decision that the Iraqi volunteer forces should play an active role in the battles against the Takfiri terrorists in Mosul," Spokesman of Iraq's Ansarullah al-Nujaba Movement Hashem al-Moussavi told FNA on Wednesday.

    He reiterated that the volunteer forces are waiting for the Iraqi government's decision before moving towards Mosul.

    "The US and the regional spy agencies are seeking to trouble the Iraqi volunteer forces' partnership in the war against the ISIL in Mosul, but to no avail," al-Moussavi added.

    In a relevant development on February 16, A senior Iraqi volunteer forces commander underlined that his forces are determined to continue their war against the ISIL in the city of Fallujah.

    "The US and some pro-US Iraqi politicians intend to exert pressure on the Iraqi government to prevent the volunteer forces from entering the Fallujah city, but the volunteer forces will not bow to such pressures," Hassan al-Sari told FNA.

    He underlined that some Iraqi political figures are dissuading the volunteer forces at the order of the US.

    "The Iraqi volunteer forces will never given in to the demands of a few individuals who are not well-wishers of Iraq and are linked to the ISIL," the Iraqi commander added.

    In early February, Iraqi security sources disclosed that Washington is exerting pressure on the Baghdad government to end volunteer forces partnership in war against ISIL and dissolve the militia army that has the lion share in the war on terrorism in the country.

    "The US government has conveyed the message to the Iraqi government through its diplomats that there is no need to Hashd al-Shaabi forces and their role should come to an end," a senior Iraqi source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told FNA. "Battlefield and security intel indicate that the Iraqi government is also stepping in this path," the source added.

    Meantime, the Iraqi volunteer forces have reacted to the leaked intel by warning against any regional and international attempts to put an end to their life and operation.

    In relevant remarks in early November, al-Sari underlined that the US is doing its best to weaken his country's popular forces to block their further advances in key provinces.

    "The US is exerting a lot of pressure to weaken the Iraqi volunteer forces and prevent them from advancing towards Salahuddin and Anbar provinces," al-Sari told FNA.

    He said that the Americans are trying hard to prevent the Iraqi volunteer forces from entering and capturing the city of Fallujah that is under the control of the ISIL now.

    Al-Sari, however, reiterated that the Iraqi volunteer forces have maintained their readiness and will continue the fight against the ISIL until achieving all their goals.

    In late November, Iraqi volunteer forces discovered and seized US-made military hardware and ammunition in captured terrorists' positions.

    The Iraqi forces discovered US-made military hardware and ammunition, including missiles, in terrorists' command center in Salahuddin province, informed sources said.

    The ISIL Takfiri terrorists currently control shrinking swathes of Syria and Iraq. They have threatened all communities, including Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians, Ezadi Kurds and others, as they continue their atrocities in Iraq.

    Senior Iraqi officials have blamed Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and some Persian Gulf Arab states for the growing terrorism in their country.
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Saudi and UAE military aircraft have arrived at the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey. Turkish authorities announced Thursday that Saudi warplanes set to be used in the fight against ISIS would shortly arrive in the country.

    The planes are to be stationed at the Incirlik base, which is already hosting US, British and French war planes taking part in the strikes against IS fighters in Syria.

    Earlier, private NTV television said four Saudi F-15 jets would arrive at Incirlik on Friday. It said that 30 ground personnel and equipment had already arrived aboard C-130 Hercules military transport planes on Tuesday.

    Ankara has said it is in favour of a ground operation in Syria, but only if it is conducted in coordination with Saudi Arabia and other Western and Gulf members of the anti-ISIS coalition.

    "We have since the beginning argued for the necessity of ground operations and all kinds of strategic moves to be carried out in addition to the air campaign," Turkish foreign minister said. link

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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Would take a supercomputer to keep track of what the heck is going on here.

    No chance there as the high end quantum stuff is busy with the amerikans with the AI Jade Helm (don't tell me you fell for it was simply an exercise)

    Mastering the human domain ... hey you guys that still have a soul ... wtf are you doing???


    Pepe Escobar: Midnight in Damascus


    Pepe Escobar
    Sputnik
    Fri, 26 Feb 2016 20:39 UTC


    Imagine you are part of a hardcore, heavily weaponized Islamist outfit in Syria.

    You would have had until noon this Friday to contact the US and/or Russia military and win a prize; be part of a "cessation of hostilities," ersatz "ceasefire" that does not apply to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, as well as assorted remnants of the former Free Syrian Army (FSA) who are for all practical purposes embedded with al-Nusra.

    Compounding the drama, as background noise you have US Secretary of State John Kerry bluffing that Plan B is the partition of Syria anyway. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov once again had to call for order in the court.

    So what do you do? You're a Washington-approved "moderate rebel". So you re-label yourself as FSA. Will you fool the task force set up by the US and Russia — hotline included — to monitor the "ceasefire"? Well, at least you've got a shot. The "ceasefire" mostly applies to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), unspecified "moderate rebels" and the Syrian Kurds. Everyone must de-weaponize by midnight this Friday.

    If you've skipped the deadline, you may be in serious trouble. Because for the Russians, that qualifies you as an ally of Salafi-jihadis. You will be bombed to smithereens. And there's nothing Uncle Sam can do to save you.

    This positively Dadaist development is what passes for a road map to peace in Syria — even though odds are on Washington and Moscow will be seeing red on virtually every nook and cranny of it.

    What this might spell out though goes way beyond Syria; it's all about the White House, the Pentagon and NATO's spectacular demise as exceptionalist arbiters and executioners — using Shock and Awe, R2P (responsibility to protect) or straight-up regime change — of geopolitical tangles.

    Or is it?

    A hefty case can be made whether the "ceasefire" benefits Damascus and Moscow — considering the "4+1" (Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah) has been heavily on the offense. The "ceasefire" may certainly benefit Washington if the hidden agenda — to re-weaponize gaggles of "moderate rebels" — still applies. After all Pentagon supremo Ash "Empire of Whining" Carter, Marine General Joseph Dunford and CIA Director John Brennan are terminal Russophobes who will never admit defeat.

    The vague terms of the "cessation of hostilities" do not explicity specify that Washington, London and other members of the US-led-from-behind "coalition" should stop bombing Syrian territory. And there's nothing about suicide bombs and chemical weapons routinely used by any outfit, from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh to "moderate rebels", against the civilian Syrian population.

    So there's got to be some heavy-duty horse-trading between Washington and Moscow behind all the shadowplay. And none of it has leaked, at least not yet.

    Daddy Stole My Invasion

    Meanwhile, the much-ballyhooed joint invasion of Syria by Turkey and Saudi Arabia is not going to happen because His Masters' Voice vetoed it — as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was forced to explain. He essentially admitted that the invasion would need the agreement of all members of the US-led-from-behind coalition fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. Unfortunately, they are scared to death of being decimated by the Russian Air Force. So they might as well cozily revert to the "cessation of hostilities" charade.

    On what really counts — the Syrian theatre of war — the most pressing issue is whether the SAA will finally be able to control Aleppo and environs, continue to rule in Latakia, and manage to configure Idlib as a Saudi remote-controlled Army of Conquest enclave cut off from almost all sides and depending solely on Ankara, which for its part won't dare a face-to-face with the Russian Air Force.

    It's no wonder Turkey's Sultan Erdogan fears this ceasefire business like the plague. Because he's got nothing; at best a vague promise, extorted by Team Obama, that Syrian Kurds won't keep advancing to smash either ISIS/ISIL/Daesh along the border, or pockets of al-Qaeda in Syria.

    In return, Ankara shall desist from its Syrian invasion and that dream of a 10 km "safe zone" inside Syrian territory to keep away the Kurds and facilitate the re-weaponizing of its Islamist proxies. Ankara's favorite Jabhat al-Nusra, by the way, remains active north of Aleppo, and in the Turkmen regions of Latakia and Azaz (in the Turkish-Syrian border).

    What Team Obama seems to have finally understood — and "seems" is the operative word — is that neither ISIS/ISIL/Daesh nor al-Nusra could ever "unify" Syria; assuming 60% of Syria's population is Sunni, what matters is that over half are secular and do support Damascus against all those Turk/Saudi-supported Salafi-jihadi crazies.

    Will this all be enough to assure the success of the "cessation of hostilities" charade? Hardly. Keep calm and carry on (watching). Plan B remains Return of the Living Dead material.



    http://www.sott.net/article/313148-P...ht-in-Damascus

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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Newly Translated WikiLeaks Saudi Cable: Overthrow the Syrian Regime, but Play Nice with Russia

    by Brad Hoff February 25, 2016


    (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

    IT IS NO SECRET that Saudi Arabia, along with its Gulf and Western allies, has played a direct role in fueling the fires of grinding sectarian conflict that has kept Syria burning for the past five years. It is also no secret that Russian intervention has radically altered the kingdom’s “regime change” calculus in effect since at least 2011. But an internal Saudi government cable sheds new light on the kingdom’s current threats of military escalation in Syria.

    Overthrow the Regime “by all means available”
    A WikiLeaks cable released as part of “The Saudi Cables” in the summer of 2015, now fully translated here for the first time, reveals what the Saudis feared most in the early years of the war: Russian military intervention and Syrian retaliation. These fears were such that the kingdom directed its media “not to oppose Russian figures and to avoid insulting them” at the time.

    Saudi Arabia had further miscalculated that the “Russian position” of preserving the Assad government “will not persist in force.” In Saudi thinking, reflected in the leaked memo, Assad’s violent ouster (“by all means available”) could be pursued so long as Russia stayed on the sidelines. The following section is categorical in its emphasis on regime change at all costs, even should the U.S. vacillate for “lack of desire”:
    Quote The fact must be stressed that in the case where the Syrian regime is able to pass through its current crisis in any shape or form, the primary goal that it will pursue is taking revenge on the countries that stood against it, with the Kingdom and some of the countries of the Gulf coming at the top of the list. If we take into account the extent of this regime’s brutality and viciousness and its lack of hesitancy to resort to any means to realize its aims, then the situation will reach a high degree of danger for the Kingdom, which must seek by all means available and all possible ways to overthrow the current regime in Syria. As regards the international position, it is clear that there is a lack of “desire” and not a lack of “capability” on the part of Western countries, chief among them the United States, to take firm steps…
    Amman-based Albawaba News—one of the largest online news providers in the Middle East—was the first to call attention to the WikiLeaks memo, which “reveals Saudi officials saying President Bashar al-Assad must be taken down before he exacts revenge on Saudi Arabia.” Albawaba offered a brief partial translation of the cable, which though undated, was likely produced in early 2012 (based on my best speculation using event references in the text; Russia began proposing informal Syrian peace talks in January 2012).

    Russian Hardware, a Saudi Nightmare
    Over the past weeks Saudi Arabia has ratcheted up its rhetoric on Syria, threatening direct military escalation and the insertion of special forces on the ground, ostensibly for humanitarian and stabilizing purposes as a willing partner in the “war on terror.” As many pundits are now observing, in reality the kingdom’s saber rattling stems not from confidence, but utter desperation as its proxy anti-Assad fighters face defeat by overwhelming Russian air power and Syrian ground forces, and as the Saudi military itself is increasingly bogged down in Yemen.

    Even as the Saudi regime dresses its bellicose rhetoric in humanitarian terms, it ultimately desires to protect the flow of foreign fighters into Northern Syria, which is its still hoped-for “available means” of toppling the Syrian government (or at least, at this point, permanent sectarian partition of Syria).

    The U.S. State Department’s own 2014 Country Report on Terrorism confirms that the rate of foreign terrorist entry into Syria over the past few years is unprecedented among any conflict in history: “The rate of foreign terrorist fighter travel to Syria – totaling more than 16,000 foreign terrorist fighters from more than 90 countries as of late December – exceeded the rate of foreign terrorist fighters who traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, or Somalia at any point in the last 20 years.”

    According to Cinan Siddi, Director of the Institute for Turkish Studies at Georgetown’s prestigious School of Foreign Service, Russian military presence in Syria was born of genuine geopolitical interests. In a public lecture recently given at Baylor University, Siddi said that Russia is fundamentally trying to disrupt the “jihadi corridor” facilitated by Turkey and its allies in Northern Syria.

    The below leaked document gives us a glimpse into Saudi motives and fears long before Russian hardware entered the equation, and the degree to which the kingdom utterly failed in assessing Russian red lines.

    For the first time, here’s a full translation of the text
    THE BELOW original translation is courtesy of my co-author, a published scholar of Arabic and Middle East History, who wishes to remain unnamed.
    Note: the cable as published in the SaudiLeaks trove appears to be incomplete.

    […] shared interest, and believes that the current Russian position only represents a movement to put pressure on him, its goals being evident, and that this position will not persist in force, given Russia’s ties to interests with Western countries and the countries of the Gulf.

    If it pleases Your Highness, I support the idea of entering into a profound dialogue with Russia regarding its position towards Syria*, holding the Second Strategic Conference in Moscow, working to focus the discussion during it on the issue of Syria, and exerting whatever pressure is possible to dissuade it from its current position. I likewise see an opportunity to invite the head of the Committee for International Relations in the Duma to visit the Kingdom. Since it is better to remain in communication with Russia and to direct the media not to oppose Russian figures and to avoid insulting them, so that no harm may come to the interests of the Kingdom, it is possible that the new Russian president will change Russian policy toward Arab countries for the better. However, our position currently in practice, which is to criticize Russian policy toward Syria and its positions that are contrary to our declared principles, remains. It is also advantageous to increase pressure on the Russians by encouraging the Organization of Islamic States to exert some form of pressure by strongly brandishing Islamic public opinion, since Russia fears the Islamic dimension more than the Arab dimension.

    In what pertains to the Syrian crisis, the Kingdom is resolute in its position and there is no longer any room to back down. The fact must be stressed that in the case where the Syrian regime is able to pass through its current crisis in any shape or form, the primary goal that it will pursue is taking revenge on the countries that stood against it, with the Kingdom and some of the countries of the Gulf coming at the top of the list. If we take into account the extent of this regime’s brutality and viciousness and its lack of hesitancy to resort to any means to realize its aims, then the situation will reach a high degree of danger for the Kingdom, which must seek by all means available and all possible ways to overthrow the current regime in Syria.

    As regards the international position, it is clear that there is a lack of “desire” and not a lack of “capability” on the part of Western countries, chief among them the United States, to take firm steps […]

    *[in the Arabic text: Russia, but this is a typo]
    Last edited by Hervé; 27th February 2016 at 20:01.
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Kurdish Women Protest in France, Draw Attention to Turkey's Atrocities

    World 15:12 27.02.2016
    (updated 15:20 27.02.2016)


    © AFP 2016/ MIGUEL MEDINA

    Kurdish women continue to protest Ankara's ongoing atrocities against Kurds in the mainly-Kurdish town of Cizre in Turkey's southeast and elsewhere in the region.


    Kurdish women will continue to hold protest rallies in Strasbourg against Ankara's ongoing atrocities against Kurds living in the mainly Kurdish town of Cizre in southeastern Turkey's Sirnak province, according to Nursel Kilic, a representative of the Kurdish Women's Movement in Europe. In an interview with Sputnik, Nursel Kilic, who represents the Kurdish Women's Movement in Europe, said that the protests are being held in front of the buildings of the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights.

    She recalled that in addition to Cizre, the violence shows no sign of abating in other towns throughout southeastern Turkey, where Turkish irregular troops have stepped up their activity.


    © REUTERS/ Rodi Said Kurdish people carry flags as they march during a protest in the city of al-Derbasiyah, on the Syrian-Turkish border, against what the protesters said were the operations launched in Turkey by government security forces against the Kurds, February 9, 2016

    Cizre has been under curfew for the past 76 days, which has resulted in civilians being cut off from receiving medical supplies, water and electricity, she said, adding that a total 200 Kurds were recently killed in Turkish air and artillery strikes on predominantly Kurdish towns in Turkey's southeastern regions.

    Quote "In Cizre, the death toll included students, rights activists, journalists as well as even month-year-old babies who became a target for Turkish strikes," Kilic said.
    She also claimed that the Turkish army's military operation against Kurds in Cizre continues despite the Erdogan administration's words to the contrary. This, she said, has been confirmed by photos obtained by the Kurdish Women's Movement in Europe.

    Quote "The operation is still under way despite the Turkish Interior Minister announcing the end of the operation two weeks ago. Every day we get photos from [Cizre], including those showing burned bodies of Kurds, which confirm that the operation is in full swing," Kilic said.
    She lamented the fact that Turkish authorities have prevented the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe from visiting Cizre for "security reasons."

    Quote "It seems that hurdles are being made in order to ensure that the truth will never come out at the international community level," she added.

    On February 11, Turkey's Interior Minister Efkan Ala said that the anti-terrorist operation in Cizre had wrapped up, but that the curfew will remain in place for some time. In December 2015, the Turkish authorities declared a curfew in a number of southeastern regions where armed clashes between Ankara's forces and Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)'s fighters continue. The Turkish General Staff has said that about 850 PKK militants have been killed since mid-December. Kurdish activists, in turn, argue that most of the dead were civilian victims.


    © Sputnik/ Kurdish women in Europe protest against Turkish atrocities in Cizre



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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    PressTV documentary: Dirty Game - Imported Mercenaries

    Harrison Koehli Sott.net Wed, 20 Jan 2016 01:07 UTC



    This is a great resource, providing insight not only into how Syrians see the conflict in which they find themselves, but also into the true nature of Daesh. Aside from the obvious American/Israeli support, these two quotes from the production sum it all up:
    Quote "No human being can do such horrible things. No one with human nature commits such savage crimes."
    --Ashwaq Abbas, Political Sciences Lecturer, Damascus University
    And the ones that do have a name: psychopaths.
    Quote "These groups commit crimes only against Muslims. Show us what positive measures these groups have taken so far. Have they gone to Palestine?"
    --Nabil al-Halbavi, Syrian member of AhlulBayt World Assembly
    The fact is, the people most in danger from so-called Islamic terror are Muslims. Daesh has killed far more Muslims in Iraq and Syria than any other group. Think about that the next time you see someone even slightly "Arab-looking" and feel a bit nervous. And if they're Syrian, not only have they had to deal with barbaric groups like Daesh back at home; they also have to deal with the barbaric bigotry of Westerners who are convinced every Muslim is a potential terrorist. Statistically speaking, it's an utterly absurd notion.

    WARNING: Graphic Content!
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Erdogan Steps up Proxy War Against US, Uncle Sam Finally Hits Back

    Marko Marjanović Russia Insider Mon, 29 Feb 20161 hour ago

    Meanwhile the western media shrugs its shoulders at Erdogan's in-your-face cultivation of ISIS


    Uncle Sam springs into action

    Finally it has happened. Finally Erdogan has pushed the envelope so far that Washington not only stood its ground but pounded his assets into minced meat. As we reported this Saturday ISIS militants made a push for for the Kurdish held town of Tel Abyad on the Syrian-Turkish border from Turkish territory.

    And it's not us saying these guys are ISIS, it's Reuters, the anti-Assad Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and Sky News.

    In other words Erdogan had staged its own Bay of Pigs style invasion of Syria – but using ISIS as its Cuban exiles. This was too much even for the United States (or at least the Pentagon) which promptly dispatched planes to back the Kurds.


    Tell Abyad (yellow icon) is nowhere near ISIS' access to Turkey
    (dark grey = ISIS/DAESH, yellow = Kurds, red = Syrian Army, light greenish grey = Turkey, light grey = non-occupied desert)

    Firstly, we should take a moment to truly comprehend and appreciate the level of Ankara's cynicism here. Tell Abyad is nearly 100 kilometres away from the nearest ISIS-held crossing on the Syrian-Turkish border at Jarabulus. There is simply no way ISIS could have covered this distance without the cooperation of Turkey. Indeed, if Russians are to be believed Turkey had no intention of even pretending it wasn't behind the offensive but actually openly backed it with its artillery.

    What an insane sight: artillery of NATO member Turkey and ISIS suicide car bombers working in tandem to soften up the enemy.

    That enemy being the Kurdish-dominated SDF which brings us to our second point; the quick and no nonsense reaction of the US. Erdogan's frustration with the US refusal to cut ties with the Kurds is understandable. As is his anger at the Kurds' increasingly sealing the Turkish-Syrian border and reducing his influence on the Syrian war. However, it is unclear what he thought he could accomplish in this instance.

    US had been willing to accommodate Erdogan and back off of its support for the Kurds in north-western Syria where there is a hodge-podge of various different factions and where the US is also pursuing its Syria regime change war and looking benevolently on Turkish-backed jihadis who may accomplish that.

    However, in the north-eastern Syria, where ISIS and the Kurds are the only game in town, the US support for Kurdish militiamen has always been absolute. YPG captured Tell Abyad in 2014 with US air cover in the first place. Turkey may have its red lines in the west, but here it's the US which draws its own red lines – Erdogan crossed one and his proxies paid the price.

    As a final point, where is the western mainstream media on this? President of NATO member Turkey has just organized his own merry little troupe of ISIS head choppers and sent them to invade a neighboring state from his territory.

    None of this is in dispute or controversial – it's western reporting which is saying the invasion force was ISIS and struck from Turkey. So then where is the outrage? Where are the condemnations? Where are the calls for Turkey to finally be brought into line?

    Or is that only reserved for Russia?
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Quote Posted by Hervé (here)

    Finally it has happened. Finally Erdogan has pushed the envelope so far that Washington not only stood its ground but pounded his assets into minced meat.

    If so ... that is quite an interesting development.

    At the same time it opens up yet more questions/confusion than answers.

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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Indeed:

    Couldn't Make It Up: This Is How Mad the War in Syria Has Become

    Mark Nicholas Mon, Feb 29, 2016

    Madness explained in two lines

    Fact number #1: Turkey is sponsoring ISIS up to the point of facilitating ISIS offensives into Syria from Turkish territory

    Fact number #2: US has the use of Turkish airbases which it uses to fly air sorties against ISIS in Syria

    Ergo:

    Theoreticaly US planes could be flying from Turkey into Syria to hit Ankara-backed militants who are also attacking from their Turkish bases into Syria.

    Meditate on that.


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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Kurds claim downing of Turkish helicopter bombing them over Iraqi Kurdistan - reports

    Published time: 3 Mar, 2016 08:42
    Edited time: 3 Mar, 2016 14:04


    © Umit Bektas / Reuters

    Reports have emerged that Kurds have shot down a helicopter over Iraqi Kurdistan, which they say was used in airstrikes against them. Turkish officials have made no comment, but a source confirmed to RT that the incident took place.

    Previously Ankara acknowledged conducting airstrikes on alleged PKK targets in Iraq. Turkish military is also targeting Kurds inside the country and shelling Kurdish militias in northern Syria.

    One sortie apparently went wrong for a Turkish assault helicopter as Iraqi Kurdish militia claim they shot the aircraft down.

    Kani Xulam, from the American Kurdish Information Network, told RT that official Ankara would refrain from reporting any losses in operations against the Kurds, striving to portray the Turkish military as “an invincible power that cannot be beaten.”

    The Turkish authorities are aiming to make the Kurds submit to them and “come down on their knees,” he said.

    Xulam said “scores of Turkish soldiers” were taken prisoner by the Kurds with the Turkish government never acknowledging such facts.

    In the case of the allegedly downed helicopter, there is no reference about the incident in Turkish media, yet the story is now emerging in Kurdish media, Xulam said.

    No Turkish military losses ever make it into national mainstream media, Middle East political analyst Shwan Zulal told RT.

    The Kurdish PKK militia, which may be responsible for the alleged downing of the Turkish helicopter, traditionally remains idle during the harsh winter months. However, it will be active from the beginning of spring, which explains why Turkey has recently been shelling Kurdish positions in the mountains, Zulal said.

    With the military operation against the Kurds ongoing in Turkey for months now, the violence is likely to escalate further, Zulal predicted.

    The Turkish military has been operating against Kurdish PKK militia in northern Iraq since the early 1990s.

    In September 2015, the Turkish parliament prolonged a mandate allowing the deployment of its military in neighboring Syria and Iraq to fight Kurdish militants.

    Early last December, Ankara started carrying out airstrikes targeting Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) forces in northern Iraq.

    Tensions have recently spiked between Ankara and Baghdad after Turkey deployed more than 100 troops equipped with tanks and artillery to Iraq’s northern Nineveh governorate, saying they will train forces battling Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
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    Default Re: Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Israel, Iran, Putin, and World War III

    Somebody is making money to cause others' misery...


    20,000 uniforms bound for ISIS, Al-Nusra Front seized in Spain (VIDEO)

    Published time: 4 Mar, 2016 14:09
    Get short URL



    Spanish police have confiscated 20,000 battle uniforms destined for jihadists of the Middle East, likely Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front. The uniforms were prepared for dispatch in three containers under the guise of second-hand clothes.

    The Interior Ministry believes that the “roughly 20,000 military uniforms and accessories” confiscated, bound for destinations controlled by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front in Syria and Iraq would enable terrorists to “equip an entire army,” it said in the statement.

    “The containers which carried the military uniforms were declared as secondhand clothes so as not to raise suspicions and be able to pass different customs inspections without any difficulty,” the statement said.

    The camouflage uniforms were packed in large bundles hidden among used clothes.

    Spanish police revealed that one of the companies run by the detained suspects was specializing in importing second-hand clothes. One of the arrested used this second-hand clothing company for dispatching “military material, money, electronic and transmission material, firearms and precursors for making explosives” to Syria and Iraq, police said.

    The operation took place nearly a month ago, yet Spain's Interior Ministry only announced the results on Thursday.



    “Two of the three containers were intercepted at a port in Valencia and one at Algeciras in an anti-terror operation conducted on February 7. The containers were being shipped to areas controlled by IS and Al-Nusra Front in Iraq and Syria,” said the ministry.

    Spanish law enforcement also arrested seven suspects, thus neutralizing “very active and efficient business network,” whose primary purpose was to supply, maintain and strengthen Islamic extremists, the police statement said. The arrested individuals provided logistic and financial services to Islamists, maintaining a continuous flow of supplies to terrorists.

    Last month, Europol officials called attention to the fact that unknown number of jihadists could have infiltrated into the EU via the poorly-controlled influx of asylum seekers coming into Europe.

    Between 3,000 and 5,000 EU citizens trained in IS terror camps as so-called ‘foreign fighters’ have returned to Europe and pose a “completely new challenge,” acknowledged Rob Wainwright, Europol’s director.

    According the continent’s top cop, “Europe is currently facing the highest terror threat in more than in a decade.”

    The seizure in Spain of five tons of military goods destined to such a “schizophrenic” terrorist group as IS serves proof that there are established international networks illegally serving terrorist interests, Gorka Castillo, a journalist and Middle East expert from Madrid, told RT Spanish.

    Quote “It demonstrates once again that the ongoing worldwide black cash flow serves interests of such terrorist groups as Daesh [Arabic pejorative term for IS],”
    Castillo said, noting that filters the Spanish authorities use to screen asylum seekers are not exactly effective, just like the policies pursued by the EU in order to restrain terrorist groups financially.
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    EXCLUSIVE: Turkey ‘protects & supplies’ Al-Nusra camps at its border – Syria’s YPG to RT

    Published time: 4 Mar, 2016 05:04
    Edited time: 4 Mar, 2016 14:24
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    Quote
    Lizzie Phelan ‏@LizziePhelan
    2.&just a few km from Nusra controlled Azaz that #Turkey is determined 2 prevent YPG from taking.

    Jabhat Al-Nusra terrorists have pitched their camps right next to the border and receive regular supplies from the Turkish side, Syrian Kurdish forces told RT’s Lizzie Phelan, who traveled with YPG to investigate suspicious activity there.

    An RT crew has filmed a number of vehicles coming through the Bab al-Salam crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border, on the outskirts of the northern town of Azaz, which is partially controlled by Al-Nusra, according to reports.

    “We can actually see here the important border town of Azaz, that Turkey is determined to prevent YPG from taking. Just a little beyond that you can see the Bab al-Salam border crossing and a heavy flow of vehicles coming from Turkey into Azaz,” the RT correspondent said, reporting from the Turkey-Syria border, an area that TV crews rarely gain access to.

    “When we zoom in we can see Turkish military vehicles, probably around a kilometer away, maybe less. And just in front here's another small village that YPG say Al-Nusra uses for training,” Phelan said.

    “Beyond that we can see the Turkish flag flying, that’s on the Turkish side of the border, and through there the YPG says they monitor a regular supply of weapons coming from Turkey to that Al-Nusra camp.”

    According to the Kurds, after the terror group was excluded from the ceasefire, Al-Nusra have taken down most of their flags, which would give their location away and invite airstrikes. However, the RT crew still managed to film some flags flying above their positions.

    YPG are unequivocal about Turkey’s sponsorship of terrorist groups in Syria.

    Head of the YPG in Afrin, Abdu Khalil, says Turkey is definitely providing support for terrorist groups in the area.

    “Turkey wanted to make a coalition against terrorism, but any country which would be in a coalition against terrorism should not open its border to Al-Nusra Front,” he said.

    “When there is a Kurdish prisoner, when he is in Turkish hands, they deliver him to Al-Nusra Front, whereas a wounded man from Islamic State who is in a Turkish hospital: he gets immunity and guards. No one can even look at him. What more evidence do you want than that?”

    Abdu Khalil also said that some of the corpses that they found on the battlefield "that belong to Al-Nusra Front were of Turkish origin and we even found IDs and passports. And the ammo we found in their warehouses - closed boxes of ammo - they were closed and stamped by the Turkish government. We even found clearance documents to allow [the boxes of ammo] cross the borders which proved that they were approved to cross the borders."

    Ankara says its direct strikes against the YPG are justified due to its links with the Turkish-based militant group the PKK, which Turkey has recently resumed its war against at home.

    The rebel fighters on the ground say they are certain Turkey is providing assistance to IS, Al-Qaeda and Al Nusra.

    Quote “The reason Turkey is on the ground is to support groups like Al-Qaeda. Support for ISIS is coming from Turkey. They are shelling because it wants to occupy our land, not to help our people. Turkey dismissed many of the armed groups, and supported Al Nusra against us,”
    Abu Jouma Benawii, a general in the FSA and co-founder of Jaish al-Thuwar (Army of Revolutionaries), told RT.

    Quote “Our fronts against the regime have stopped, but our fronts against ISIS are going on and against Al Nusra as well. We are committed to the ceasefire, one million percent,”
    he added.

    Asked if he would have changed his mind about joining the uprising, Abu Jouma Benawii said in hindsight:
    Quote "Really I would have changed my mind, because everybody contributed to destroying Syria, at the beginning and the end it is only the people who lose."

    “Had we known that Syria’s friends would be like this, we wouldn’t have been with them. All our people were forced to flee,"
    he added.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently said Turkey has the right to carry out military operations not only in Syria, but in any other country hosting terror groups that threaten the Turkish state. He alleged that Ankara’s stance has “absolutely nothing to do with the sovereignty rights of the states that can’t take control of their territorial integrity.”

    “On the contrary, this has to do with the will Turkey shows to protect its sovereignty rights,” Erdogan added.

    Turkish forces have been shelling YPG, which Ankara considers a terrorist organization, as well as government army positions in Syria, since mid-February. The bombings of YPG targets, the military wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), have been underway despite the US, Ankara's ally, viewing the Kurdish fighters as a vital partner in fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

    There were reports of dozens of Turkish military vehicles crossing into Kurdish northern Syria, with servicemen digging trenches in the area. Turkey’s “provocative” military buildup on the border and shelling of the Syrian territory could thwart the fragile truce and disrupt the peace process in the Arab Republic, the head of the Russian ceasefire monitoring center Lt. Gen. Sergey Kuralenko said this week.

    The ceasefire in Syria, which came into force on February 27, brokered by leading world powers, including the US and Russia, is designed to pave the way to reconciliation between the Syrian government and moderate rebel forces. They would together agree on a peaceful transition in the country. Some of the forces in Syria, including IS and Al-Nusra, are not subject to the ceasefire.

    Experts have been criticizing moderate rebel forces, but even they think that the situation is shifting now.

    Moderate rebels used to be “a fable, a pure lie,” Syrian political analyst Taleb Ibrahim told RT.

    “Everyone remembers what happened to the rebels who had been trained in Turkish camps by the CIA, and when they returned to Syria, and turned to Al-Nusra Front”.

    However, the situation is starting to change slowly, as more and more Syrian rebel fighters “discover that they are destroying their country and serving external plans to divide Syria.”

    Russian aircraft continue to carry out airstrikes against Al-Nusra front militants to “stabilize the situation” in the regions north of the city of Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

    There have been at least 31 violations of the Syrian ceasefire over the past three days, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday, adding that during the same period the number of local ceasefire agreements between various factions had increased to 38.


    Related:
    Dozens of Turkish military vehicles cross Syria border, dig trenches – report
    Russia presents proof of Turkey’s role in ISIS oil trade
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    'Everyone is being framed', journalist deported from Turkey tells RT amid govt media takeover

    Published time: 5 Mar, 2016 20:27
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    Riot police use tear gas to disperse protesting employees and supporters of Zaman newspaper at the courtyard of the newspaper's office in Istanbul, Turkey March 5, 2016.


    The latest government takeover of the Zaman media outlet in Istanbul is "not a surprise at all," a journalist who had been working in the country told RT, adding that "the press has never been free in Turkey."

    "Everybody who opposes them [the government], every journalist who is against the government is being framed. I was framed as a terrorist supporter and Zaman is linked to the Gulen movement – which is a movement of a religious Turkish leader [Sunni cleric Fethullah Gulen] who is based in the US, and they say he is trying to stage a coup against the government. So now Zaman journalists and people who read Zaman are being framed as coup supporters, that's how the government is doing it," Frederike Geerdink, Dutch freelance journalist who was deported from Turkey last year, told RT.

    On Friday, the Istanbul-based Turkish-language Zaman newspaper, which has been sharply critical of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was ordered into administration by a court decision. Following the order, which the outlet journalists proclaimed an "unlawful takeover," the paper's editor-in-chief Abdulhamit Bilici was fired by trustees, while police put barbed wire around the headquarters.

    "All content management systems at Zaman" have also been blocked by the new administration, Zaman's sister publication in English, Today's Zaman, said, with its journalists covering the situation via social media and posting updates on Twitter.

    "All internet connection is cut off at the seized Zaman building by police raid," they posted, adding that after the takeover of the headquarters in Istanbul, Ankara office has also "lost access to company internal servers."

    Government affiliates have also taken under control and blocked access to the outlet's Cihan news agency, Today's Zaman reported, adding that it is "the only news agency that was monitoring elections besides state-run Anadolu."

    "It's not a surprise at all. Several of the government newspapers have in the last couple of weeks hinted at this [takeover] already, and other media who are linked to the Gulen movement have come under the same procedure with trustees," Frederike Geerdink, who has herself been prosecuted in Turkey "for making propaganda for a terrorist organization," said.

    The journalist told RT that she has been in contact with one of Zaman's employees, who told her weeks ago that they had been "having a difficult time" because of government pressure. Zaman was losing advertisers and readers, "because if you work for the state you cannot be seen with Zaman under your arm, as it can lead to losing your job," the Dutch journalist was told by her Turkish colleague.

    "Zaman was being attacked for months," she said, but added that the current situation with the media in the country "is not something new."

    Two years ago, one of Today's Zaman journalists, Azerbaijan national Mahir Zeynalov, was deported from Turkey after having worked at the Turkish newspaper for years. The reporter was facing prosecution related to a tweet, his employers said, adding that a complaint against Zeynalov was filed by then PM Erdogan, accusing the journalist of "defamation and inciting public to hatred."

    "People now think that Erdogan invented the lack of press freedom in Turkey - which is totally not true. He takes it to extreme heights – that's definitely true, but the press has never been free in Turkey," Geerdink told RT. "For example, 20 years ago nobody could go to the southeast to report on the realities there. At the time it was the army that was censoring the press, and now Erdogan is using the same mechanisms to silence opponents," she said.

    Not only government-owned media outlets are being biased in Turkey, the Dutch journalist said. Some are under indirect, economic pressure.

    "Most of the big papers and big channels, also the ones we call 'mainstream' which are not necessarily total mouthpieces of the government, have economic ties to the government, because they are part of big companies, and have to report in line with general government policy. [Otherwise] these companies lose contracts in the telecom market," Geerdink said, adding that CNN Turk – which hasn't been covering the Zaman protests, is one example.

    "CNN Turk cancelled two rather popular talk shows of people who are not really in line with the government - and that is another problem in Turkey," she said.


    Related:
    RT reporter teargassed in Istanbul as Zaman ‘take-over’ protest enters 2nd day
    "La réalité est un rêve que l'on fait atterrir" San Antonio AKA F. Dard

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