Archive for the ‘Syrian militias’ category

Trump ends program to arm anti-Assad jihadis in Syria

July 20, 2017

Trump ends program to arm anti-Assad jihadis in Syria, Jihad Watch

(Please see also, Trump to end lavish CIA support for ‘moderate’ anti-Assad forces in Syria. — DM)

The Washington Post casts this story as evidence that President Trump is a pawn of the Russians, which is more of the Left’s ridiculous campaign to portray the 2016 election as having been stolen by Vladimir Putin. But this is the right decision. These “rebels” are mostly jihadis; arming and aiding them is arming and aiding enemies of the United States.

“Trump ends covert CIA program to arm anti-Assad rebels in Syria, a move sought by Moscow,” by Greg Jaffe and Adam Entous, Washington Post, July 19, 2017:

President Trump has decided to end the CIA’s covert program to arm and train moderate Syrian rebels battling the government of Bashar al-Assad, a move long sought by Russia, according to U.S. officials.

The program was a central plank of a policy begun by the Obama administration in 2013 to put pressure on Assad to step aside, but even its backers have questioned its efficacy since Russia deployed forces in Syria two years later.

Officials said the phasing out of the secret program reflects Trump’s interest in finding ways to work with Russia, which saw the anti-Assad program as an assault on its interests. The shuttering of the program is also an acknowledgment of Washington’s limited leverage and desire to remove Assad from power.

Just three months ago, after the United States accused Assad of using chemical weapons, Trump launched retaliatory airstrikes against a Syrian air base. At the time, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, said that “in no way do we see peace in that area with Assad at the head of the Syrian government.”

Officials said Trump made the decision to scrap the CIA program nearly a month ago, after an Oval Office meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser H.R. McMaster ahead of a July 7 meeting in Germany with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Spokesmen for the National Security Council and the CIA declined to comment….

New US base in S. Syria for tussle over control

June 6, 2017

New US base in S. Syria for tussle over control, DEBKAfile, June 6, 2017

The ingathering of major military forces in this part of Syria is ominous: The deployment of a US forward base in the Syrian Desert, and the arrival of the most senior Iranian and Syrian commanders at the head of elite units augur the approach of a major showdown for control of southeastern Syria and its strategic multiple border assets.

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In readiness for a prospective showdown for control of southeast Syria, US Special Forces have set up a forward base at Al-Zukf in the Syrian Desert, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report. The location is 70km northwest of the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle and the Al Tanf crossing, which is controlled by US, Western allied and Jordanian special forces, together with a US-trained Syrian rebel unit, which calls itself the Revolutionary Commando.

(See the map at the top of this article.)

American sources say the Al Zukf base was set up for two objectives: One is to block the path of the Syrian army-Hizballah armored column, which has been advancing for the past fortnight from Al-Suweida in southeastern Syria toward the Al-Tanf crossing.

The other US objective is to capture the key town of Abu Kamal, a distance of 200km northwest of Al-Tanf, from Islamic State control.

However, the overriding goal of the US advance base is to thwart the Syrian, Hizballah and other pro-Iranian forces from gaining control of 300km of the Syrian-Iraqi border and so being able to open up Tehran’s coveted direct land bridge to the Mediterranean through Iraq.

The US force is not alone in its bid for control of this strategic area. It is getting pretty crowded.

The Syria Army’s 4th armored division rolled this week into the southern Syrian town of Daraa close to the Jordanian border and around 330km west of the new Al-Zukf base. The division moved in with high-grade Russian-made T-90 tanks complete with its high command, headed by Bashar Assad’s younger brother, Gen. Maher al-Assad. The general and staff officers were sighted carrying out inspections of Daraa’s terrain in advance of the resumption of hostilities. Parts of this potential battlefield are no more than 1,000 meters from the Jordanian border.

Our intelligence sources also reported that, this week, further north, al-Qods chief, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Syrian and Iraqi fronts, crossed into Syria from Iraq along with his operations staff. They joined the Palmyra-based command and control of the Syrian force, which is heading out of the town in two columns for two towns – Deir ez-Zor, which is surrounded by Islamic State forces, and Abu Kamal, which is under ISIS control. Elements of Russian elite forces and Hizballah are fighting along with the Syrian troops.

The ingathering of major military forces in this part of Syria is ominous: The deployment of a US forward base in the Syrian Desert, and the arrival of the most senior Iranian and Syrian commanders at the head of elite units augur the approach of a major showdown for control of southeastern Syria and its strategic multiple border assets.

Memo Signed By Assad Transfers Command And Financial Responsibility For Syrian Militias To Iran

May 16, 2017

Memo Signed By Assad Transfers Command And Financial Responsibility For Syrian Militias To Iran, MEMRI, May 15, 2017

Throughout the Syria war, Iran has played a central role in establishing the Syrian militias operating alongside the Syrian regime’s regular army and army reserves. These militias are modeled after the Iranian Basij.[1]Recently, a memo was circulated on Facebook ostensibly proving that the Syrian regime is transferring command and financial responsibility for some of these militias to Iran – reflecting the extent of Iran’s control in Syria.

The memo, which is dated April 11, 2017 and bears the signature of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in his capacity as commander in-chief of the Syrian armed forces, approves the recommendations of a committee responsible for regulating the activity of the armed Syrian forces operating in conjunction with Iran on Syrian territory.

The committee’s recommendations included a call for organizing the nearly 90,000-man-strong armed Syrian forces working in conjunction with Iran under an umbrella framework called the Local Defense Brigades, to operate across Syria under Iranian command and financial responsibility, “until the end of the crisis in Syria or until further notice.”

In addition to the Syrian regime’s consent to Iran’s increasing control in Syria, the memo also reveals the Syrian regime’s difficulty in commanding and funding the local militias, and the grave manpower crisis in the Syrian armed forces throughout the years of the war stemming from the high desertion rate, as well as a widespread unwillingness among draftees and reserve soldiers to be sent to the battle front. According to the information in the memo, of the 88,723 fighters said to be included in the Local Defense Brigades that will be in Iranian hands, half have evaded military service: 14,783 are evading mandatory military service, 16,731 are evading reserve duty, and 8,003 are deserters. The regime has given up trying to draft these men into the army, and instead is trying to draft them into the local militias, where duties are less rigorous because fighters are stationed near their homes. The other half are volunteers, as well as individuals whose “status has been arranged,” that is, who have been given the option to serve in the militias in lieu of being punished for refusing to serve in the military.

On May 2, 2017, a photo of the memo was posted on the Facebook page of the Manjab Tribe Brigade, Ra’d Al-Mahdi, a Syrian militia established recently with Iranian help and operating in the service of the Syrian regime. The text accompanying the photo of the memo shows that the brigades welcome the move and consider it an improvement in their conditions. Likewise, this Facebook page, as well as a pro-regime Syrian news website, published a photo of another official Syrian document that refers to the memo and the transfer of the Syrian militias to Iranian responsibility.

It should be noted that several days after the date on the memo, on May 1, 2017, a Syrian military delegation headed by Syrian Chief of Staff Ali ‘Abdallah Ayyoub visited Iran, and met with Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan and Deputy Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for Coordination Jamaluddin Aberoumand to discuss increasing military cooperation.[2]

The following is a translation of the main points of the two official Syrian documents.

As noted, on May 2, 2017, the Facebook page of the Manjab Tribe Brigade, Ra’d Al-Mahdi published a photo of the memo, which is which is marked “No. 1455” and addressed to “the Honorable Commander in Chief of the Army and Armed Forces and President of Syria.” It states: “With Allah’s help, we will not disappoint you, heroes of Ra’d Al-Mahdi. We have promised and we have kept [our promise].”[3]

The memo states further: “[This is] in accordance with the decision of the Deputy Commander in Chief of the Syrian Army and Armed Forces, Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister [Fahd Jassem al-Freij]… to establish a committee headed by the director of [the Syrian military’s] Organization and Administration Department responsible for arranging the forces operating in conjunction with Iran as part of the Local Defense Brigades in the [various] districts, and to publish its recommendations. The committee met several times and examined and discussed every aspect of the matter: organization; command; the supply of military and material needs; the rights of fallen, wounded and missing [fighters]; and arranging the status of draftees, [including] those evading mandatory and reserve service, deserters, and civilians working with the Iranian side. The following are the committee’s conclusions:

“1. The Syrian operatives (civilians and military personnel) who are fighting alongside the Iranian side are to be incorporated in the Local Defense Brigades in the [various] districts as per to the following list:

District Mandatory service evaders Reserve duty evaders Deserters Civilians Persons whose status has been arranged Total in district Comments
Damascus 4106 4824 600 9485 601 19616
Deraa 421 359 658 857 0 2295
Tartus 321 0 0 679 100 1100
Homs 980 1124 1127 4314 1506 9051
Hama 2144 2654 2549 3915 864 12126
Aleppo 3925 5687 1213 10241 4864 35930
Idlib 1123 211 279 2929 3487 8029
Ladhakia 790 302 477 3165 700 5434
Al-Raqqa 214 235 148 220 0 817
Deir Al-Zor 461 870 0 645 0 1976
Al-Hasakah 388 465 952 554 0 2359
Total 14873 16731 8003 37004 12122 88723

 

“2. The status of the army members (deserters) and the draftees who are evading mandatory army service and reserve duty should be arranged, and they should be transferred [to the Local Defense Brigades in their district], and it should be established that these brigades will summon them [for service]. Men whose status has been arranged and who are working with the Iranian side are to be incorporated in the Local Defense Brigades as well, as per the following list:

Explanation No.
Mandatory service evaders 14873
Army deserters 8003
Reserves duty evaders 16731
Persons whose status has been arranged 12122
Total 51729

 

“3. Civilians working with the Iranian side who want to volunteer [to the militias] are to be incorporated in the Armed Forces – Popular Army[4] on a two-year volunteer contract, regardless of the volunteer conditions that are implemented in the armed forces… The contracts should be renewed with the agreement of both sides, as per the following list:

“- Civilians working with the Iranian side – 37,004

“4. The Administration of Officers’ Affairs will be in charge of arranging the status of the 1,650 members of the Class 69 graduates among the officers working with the Iranian side in Aleppo district.”

  1. The Local Defense Brigades in the districts that are working with the Iranian side will remain under the command of the Iranian side until the Syria crisis ends or until further notice, in coordination with the Army and Armed Forces General Headquarters.
  2. Ensuring the supply of all fighting gear and meeting all material needs of the Syrian army personnel and civilians working with the Iranian side will remain the responsibility of the Iranian side after they are incorporated into the Local Defense Brigades in the districts, in coordination with the relevant parties.
  3. Guaranteeing the material rights of the fallen, wounded and missing [fighters] who worked with the Iranian side from the beginning of the [Syria] events will be the responsibility of the Iranian side…”

Syrian Chief of Staff Ali ‘Abdallah Ayyoub and Defense Minister Fahd Jassem al-Freij approved the memo by appending their signatures to it on April 5, 2017, and Assad, in his capacity as Commander in Chief of the Army and Armed Forces, signed it on April 11, 2017.

Official Syrian Document: Do Not Arrest The Elements Working With The Iranian Side

Likewise, both the Facebook page of the Ra’d Al-Mahdi Brigades and the pro-regime Syrian news website Dp-new.com posted a photo of another official Syrian document, referring to the abovementioned memo concerning the transfer of the Syrian militias to Iranian responsibility. This supports the memo’s authenticity.

The document is a letter sent by Gen. ‘Adnan Muhriz ‘Ali, head of the Organization and Administration Department, on behalf of Syrian Chief of Staff ‘Ali ‘Abdullah Ayyoub, to the Ministry of Internal Security, General Intelligence Directorate, Air Force Intelligence Directorate, Political Security Directorate, Criminal Security Department, Immigration and Passport Administration, and the Military Police. The letter said: “As per the decision of the Commander in Chief of the Army and Armed Forces regarding Memorandum No. 1455 of April 4, 2017 and the decision of the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Deputy Prime Minister and the Defense Minister regarding Memorandum no. 1681 of April 21, 2017, we instruct you not to arrest [army evaders and deserters] working with the Iranian side who hold temporary documents [identifying them as members] of the Local Defense Forces, until their status is arranged…”[5]

 

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[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1242, Syria Regime Establishing Popular Armed Militias Modeled On Iranian Basij, April 25, 2016.

[2] SANA (Syria), May 2, 2017.

[3] Facebook.com/mammer1987, May 2, 2017.

[4] According to reports, the Popular Army was established in 2012 and comprises well-trained and organized fighters, many of them members of the Ba’th party. Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), September 4, 2012; alrai.iq, November 30, 2016.

[5] Facebook.com/mammer1987, April 30, 2017.