Archive for the ‘Syrian war’ category

Syrian/Hizballah troops cross Euphrates to east

September 16, 2017

Syrian/Hizballah troops cross Euphrates to east, DEBKAfile, September 16, 2017

It is worth noting in this regard that, in recent weeks, Israel’s generals and colonels have suddenly dropped references in their discourse to Iran and Hizballah as existential threats.

This may be the time to remind them of an unfortunate precedent. In the months leading up to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israel’s leaders brushed aside the Egyptian and Syrian armies as threats to the state’s survival –  only to find defeat at their hands staring the IDF in the face in the early days of that war.

No less dangerous would be a war fought by the Syrian army, Hizballah and Iran, with powerful Russian military support. By establishing a foothold on both banks of the Euphrates River and both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, Iran has taken a step towards pursuing its avowed goal of Israel’s destruction.

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Shortly after the US-led coalition threatened to strike any Syrian Arab Army units if they crossed the Euphrates River, Syrian and Hizballah troops were marching across imported Russian pontoon bridges to reach the river’s eastern bank. By Friday, Sept. 15 they were able to establish a bridgehead there.

The attached photo shows the pontoons being lifted and set in place in a manner which recalls the method by which the IDF  was able to cross the Suez Canal for a landing in Egypt towards the end of the 1973 war.

Throughout the three-day operation, the Syrians and Hizballah worked under the cover of more newly-arrived Russian armaments, the MiG-29SMT (Nato-codenamed “Fulcrum),  whose landing in Syria was announced on Wednesday. This twin-engine jet fighter aircraft is a match for the F-18 in service with the US Air Force as well as the Israeli Air force’s F-15, F-16 and F-16 fighters.

The day the MiG-29s arrived in Syria, British Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, Deputy Commander in Chief of the US-led Coalition in Syria, threatened to strike any units of the SAA if they crossed the Euphrates River.

The crossing operation, as well as deepening Russia’s military involvement in Syrian and Hizballah offensives, is a major boost for Iran’s objectives, with grave strategic implications for the US and Israel.

1. For the Trump administration, it trampled the principle Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin established exactly two years ago, i.e., for eastern Syrian across the Euphrates to be assigned to American military control and the west to the Russians.

2.  US satellites and reconnaissance planes watched the Russian army trucking the pontoons east and saw them being thrown over the river for the crossing. Nonetheless, no orders came from the White House or the Pentagon to make good on the coalition’s threat of a strike and to interfere.

3. Established on the east bank of the Euphrates, Syrian and Hizballah troops are in position to go forward for the operation to capture the Syrian-Iraqi border town of Abu Kamal from ISIS. They have moreover opened the way to link up with the Iraqi Population Mobilization Units (PMU), a surrogate of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

4. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that PMU units are already heading for this rendezvous on the Iraqi-Syrian border. This step is tantamount to opening up an Iranian-controlled military corridor between Iraq and Syria by cutting deep into the US-ruled region of eastern Syria.

5.  As recently as Thursday night, Sept. 14, President Donald Trump declared: “We are not going to stand for what they [Iran] are doing “

6.  The US president was not alone in refraining from lifting a finger to stop “what they are doing.” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu likewise chose words over deeds. “Israel would not tolerate an Iranian presence on its northern border with Syria,” he reiterated Friday, Sept. 14, on his arrival in New York to address the UN General Assembly and meet Donald Trump.

But already Iran and its pawns were creating an accomplished fact, with massive logistical and military assistance from the Russian army.

It is worth noting in this regard that, in recent weeks, Israel’s generals and colonels have suddenly dropped references in their discourse to Iran and Hizballah as existential threats.

This may be the time to remind them of an unfortunate precedent. In the months leading up to the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Israel’s leaders brushed aside the Egyptian and Syrian armies as threats to the state’s survival –  only to find defeat at their hands staring the IDF in the face in the early days of that war.
No less dangerous would be a war fought by the Syrian army, Hizballah and Iran, with powerful Russian military support. By establishing a foothold on both banks of the Euphrates River and both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, Iran has taken a step towards pursuing its avowed goal of Israel’s destruction.

Assad shown around Russian Latakia air base

June 28, 2017

Assad shown around Russian Latakia air base, DEBKAfile, June 28, 2017

President Assad inspects Russian weapons systems at the Hmeimim air base in western Syria.

Shortly after Washington warned Damascus against any more chemical attacks and stressed that Russia and Iran would also be held to account, Syrian ruler Bashar Assad’s visit to the Russian Hmeimim Air Base in Latakia on Tuesday, June 27, bears striking symbolic, if not provocative, significance. Their guest from Damascus was shown around the base by the commanders of Russian forces in Syria and allowed a close look at the warplanes and attack helicopters lined up for his perusal. Indeed, as DEBKAfile’s military sources show in the series of attached photographs, Assad had his picture taken while sitting in the cockpit of a Russian fighter jet and while he was closely examining Russian S-400 and S-300 air defense missile batteries.

Not all the photos showed the base neatly prepared for a formal visit. A group of Russian troops were seen in a variety of work clothes standing untidily around some of the weapons systems, indicating that Assad’s visit was improvised in a hurry as an attempt to show that Moscow and Damascus were as tight as ever and ready together to repel any American attack on Syrian military targets.

Assad sits in the cockpit of a Russian fighter jet.

A bloodied ISIS staggers on

March 26, 2017

A bloodied ISIS staggers on, Israel Hayom, Prof. Eyal Zisser, March 26, 2017

(According to the first sentence in the article, “Europe is learning the hard way what Israel learned decades ago.” If so, Europe must be an extremely slow learner. More likely, it resembles a terminally ill lung cancer victim who continues to smoke cigarettes and to inhale the smoke in hopes that it will cure him. Please see also, Islam, Not Christianity, is Saturating Europe. — DM)

Europe is learning the hard way what Israel learned decades ago. The war on terror is an ongoing struggle with ups and downs, and always painful failures. This fight requires patience and determination. There is no magic knockout punch, not by a spectacular military operation in the Syrian hinterlands or the assassination of some terrorist cell or another in a Paris or London suburb. A fight such as this can go on for years, as the reality prevalent in Europe is not about to change.

An equally important lesson, which Europe is also about to learn, is that terror constantly changes shape. In the past, al-Qaida spearheaded the waves of terrorist attacks in Europe. Now Islamic State has taken the reigns, and we can assume that if it fades and disappears, another Islamist group will take its place. The name and the headlines will change, to be sure, but the ideology will remain the same; the targets will continue to be innocent civilians across Europe, and the attackers will continue to be the same Muslim youths so enraptured by religious madness. It will be no different than our experience in Israel.

The terrorist attack perpetrated by Islamic State in London came on the heels of stinging defeats in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq. The organization’s dream of establishing an Islamic caliphate is on the verge of falling apart with the approaching fall of its government centers in Mosul, Iraq and Raqqa, Syria, which serves as its capital. The organization has already lost nearly half the territory it once held, and the signals being sent by the new administration in Washington point to U.S. President Donald Trump’s willingness and even determination to send American troops into the fray to fight the organization in a decisive manner.

Islamic State’s defeat will apparently induce a monumental battle between the winners — Iran and its allies — on one side, and Turkey and the moderate Arab states on the other. Iran, to be certain, will try filling the void left by Islamic State by establishing a land corridor from Tehran to Beirut. Its adversaries, meanwhile, will try preventing the Islamic republic from achieving its goals. All this, while Russia and the U.S. will watch from the sidelines and perhaps even fan the flames in order to advance their own interests in the region.

What is important to understand, however, is that the defeat of Islamic State and the fall of the country it created in the Middle East will not be the end of the story, not for the organization itself and certainly not for the ideology it espouses. We must keep in mind that Islamic State is first and foremost an extremist ideology, which enjoys support from local populations in the Middle East and from Muslim communities across the globe.

It is also an organization that rallies support from disenfranchised populations in the region — which feel persecuted by their centralized governments — whether these are Sunnis in Iraq or eastern Syria, or Bedouin tribes in the Sinai Peninsula. Thus, even if the state it created in eastern Syria and northern Iraq crumbles, we can assume Islamic State will withdraw deep into the desert from which it came and shift to operating as a ruthless underground organization that still enjoys support from local populations. Case in point, in Sinai the group continues to operate successfully despite being pummeled by Egypt.

Islamic State also has other areas within which it can operate, such as Libya or Yemen, where it has established footholds under the cover of the civil wars persisting there unabated. There has been a great deal of speculation recently over the possibility that the group could transfer its government centers to these places. Finally, sentiment for the organization and its ideas will continue to inspire and compel Muslim youths from across the globe to carry out terrorist attacks. Other radical Islamist organizations, which are more than willing to pick up where Islamic State ends, are also vying for the hearts and minds of these youths.

The waves of terror, therefore, will continue crashing into Europe, despite all the efforts to stop them and despite the military successes against Islamic State’s leaders and commanders in Syria and Iraq. Yet the fight must remain unrelenting, as this is the nature of the war against terror. It is the only way to ensure normal life in Europe. As the Israeli experience teaches, this should be the goal, even with the knowledge that terror has not been completely defeated.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards now opposite Israeli troops on 1967 ceasefire line in Golan Heights

March 12, 2017

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards now opposite Israeli troops on 1967 ceasefire line in Golan Heights, Jihad Watch

(Please see also, Iranians at the gate. — DM)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated:

The threat of Shia Islamic terror is directed not only against us, but against the region and the entire world.

Perhaps Israel, more than any other nation, fully understands what “radical Islamic terrorism” is, and its primary goal of obliterating Israel.

“We do not want to see Shia Islamic terrorism led by Iran step in to replace Sunni Islamic terrorism,” Mr Netanyahu told the Russian President.

Iran continues attempts to destroy the Jewish state. They speak of this openly and write this in black and white in their newspapers.

Iran is now in a strategic position to try to destroy Israel directly (instead of through its proxies) as it expands its Shia base into Iraq and Syria.

Netanyahu could also not be clearer in his message that replacing Sunni terrorism with Shia terrorism is counterintuitive. Netanyahu is right about the global danger of mainstream Shia and Sunni terrorism, which is normalized in all too many Islamic states, not just in the Islamic State.

Netanyahu also once stated:

Islamic terrorism is inundating the world and inciting millions in many countries, from Jakarta to Africa to California.

“Iranian Revolutionary Guards opposite Israeli troops on 1967 ceasefire line in Golan Heights as tensions mount,” by Lizzie Dearden, Independent, March 10, 2017:

Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of using the Syrian civil war to “gain a foothold to fight Israel” amid fears over Iranian troops stationed along the border with the occupied Golan Heights.

Tehran is supporting Bashar al-Assad with deployments of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Basij militia and funding to allied militias including Hezbollah.

The IRGC are now reported to be present in Syrian-government controlled territory along the 1967 ceasefire line in the Golan Heights, which has seen months of Israeli air strikes met with rockets fired towards the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Naghdi, a commander in Iran’s Basij force, was pictured surveying the border, while a Shia paramilitary group has formed a “Golan Liberation Brigade”.

Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an Iraqi force backed by Iran, is “ready to take action to liberate Golan” from Israeli occupation, according to spokesman quoted by Iranian state media this week.

The deployments have made the Iranian government a major power broker in the Syrian civil war, meeting with Russian and Turkish representatives at ceasefire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.

In a meeting with Vladimir Putin on Thursday, the Israeli Prime Minister said that any truce must not allow the continued presence of Iranian forces in Syria.

“We do not want to see Shia Islamic terrorism led by Iran step in to replace Sunni Islamic terrorism,” Mr Netanyahu told the Russian President.

“Iran continues attempts to destroy the Jewish state. They speak of this openly and write this in black and white in their newspapers.

“Today, we have our own country and our army, and we can defend ourselves. But I want to say that the threat of Shia Islamic terror is directed not only against us, but against the region and the entire world.”

He told reporters Iran was “arming itself and its forces against Israel including from Syria territory and is, in fact, gaining a foothold to continue the fight against Israel”.

After the meeting, the Israeli Prime Minister said the removal of Iranian forces from Syria were vital to “prevent misunderstandings”.

“I made it clear that regarding Syria, while Israel is not opposed that there should be an agreement there, we strongly oppose the possibility that Iran and its proxies will be left with a military presence in Syria under such an agreement,” Mr Netanyahu added.

A statement released by the Kremlin said he and Mr Putin discussed “joint efforts to combat international terrorism” and examined areas of bilateral cooperation.

Two years ago, Israel and Russia agreed to coordinate military actions over Syria in order to avoid accidentally trading fire but the risk of skirmishes is increasing as pro-Assad forces fight for more territory in the Golan Heights….

Satire | ISIS paralyzed after admin Marine mistakenly executes orders to Raqqa

February 4, 2017

ISIS paralyzed after admin Marine mistakenly executes orders to Raqqa, Duffel Blog, February 4, 2017

adminPhoto Credit: US Marines

RAQQA, Syria — The self-proclaimed Islamic State has been reportedly paralyzed by administrative paperwork and bureaucracy after a U.S. Marine administrative clerk was mistakenly sent there, Duffel Blog has learned.

Marine Staff Sgt. Alonso Gray executed a mistaken set of permanent change-of-station orders to Raqqa earlier this month, moving to ISIS’s de facto capital and starting work in their administrative section. Within days of his arrival however, pay errors, late morning reports and “improperly routed routing sheets” have caused the group to crumble from within.

Seemingly unaware that he was working for the global terrorist organization, Gray insisted they submit their DTS vouchers to him at least 90 days prior to going TDY. Commanders then panicked when he told them that their units were “non-mission capable” due to incomplete annual training requirements.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the former leader of the group, says taking Gray on board was the worst decision he ever made.

“I was supposed to PCS from Mosul to Raqqa before the Iraqi Army attacked, but instead he sent me here,” said Baghdadi, speaking from his cell in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. “They even lost my fucking household goods shipment.”

Gray also leaked the identities of ISIS members to the world after accidentally uploading a roster containing the personally identifiable information (PII) of the entire organization to his personal Facebook account, sources confirmed.

Even then, the organization continued fighting for some time, Baghdadi said. But many of their best fighters were forced to EAS when their reenlistment paperwork was lost and their defense couldn’t hold.

“Staff Sgt. Gray is a true American hero for single-handedly defeating ISIS,” said Gen. Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “but I’m sure glad he’s not my admin chief.”

Gray could not be reached for comment as he was either “at chow,” “training,” or “on leave until next month” every time anybody tried to contact him.

Cartoons and Video of the Day

December 18, 2016

LATMA-TV via YouTube

 

Via Washington Examiner

hillarychristmas

 

H/t Vermont Loon Watch

just-duck

 

warming

asdf

H/t Freedom is Just Another Word

proof

Russian role in Aleppo’s fall impacts US politics

December 16, 2016

Russian role in Aleppo’s fall impacts US politics, DEBKAfile, December 16, 2016

aleppo-damage_9-15

The Putin factor comes in handy for the latest tactic in a series pursued since the November 8 election, for delegitimizing Trump’s victory and negating his fitness to reach the White House.

This campaign may resonate strongly on America’s future policy and position as a world power, because it is designed to block Trump’s path to a deal with Putin for resolving the Syrian conflict. The Obama administration has no wish to see the new president succeed where it failed for nearly six years.

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Aleppo’s fall to the Assad regime with the surrender Thursday, Dec. 15, of the Syrian rebel forces locked in a corner of the eastern districts was the most disastrous military and strategic setback to befall the Obama administration for two years. It started evolving in September 2015, when Russia stepped up its military intervention in the Syria war and rescued Bashar Assad.

When Aleppo succumbed to the Russian-backed government army and its allies, Iran, Hizballah and fellow Shite militias, it did not fall alone.  It brought down the entire architecture of US-backed positions in northern Syria. The US had invested in and trained local groups, such as the Syrian Kurdish militia and the rebel Free Syrian Army, as the bedrock for its policy and interests in the conflict. Those groups have melted away.

The acknowledged overlords of northern Syria today are Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who can claim the Aleppo victory. Bashar Assad and Iran are reduced to playing second fiddle. But whereas the Al Qods chief Iranian general Qassem Soleimani commands pro-Iranian forces in the region, America has been divested of all its military assets and has no real say in the next chapter of the horrific war.

Hence US Secretary of State John Kerry’s despairing appeal Thursday in a press briefing to bring the bloodshed and suffering to an end: “We can’t have another Srebrenica” – a reference to the Serbian slaughter of 8,000 Bosnian Serbs in 1985 – he said.

Kerry has toiled tirelessly for a diplomatic solution to the dreadful Syrian war, but his appeal falls on senses hardened by the many Srebrenicas perpetrated in more than five years of conflict. Hundreds of thousands of civilians and soldiers have been slaughtered – according to an unofficial estimate up to a million – and many subjected to chemical warfare. The secretary can’t count on the Kremlin to relent and so, even after the last Syrian rebels and their families are out of Aleppo, the killing will go on.

In Washington, 10,000 kilometers away, the Aleppo calamity is being dished up as a political tool. The claim was heard Thursday that the “same Vladimir Putin” who sponsored the atrocities in Aleppo, also interfered in the US presidential election by sending hackers to influence the results in favor of Donald Trump. The claim is touted by Obama administration spokesmen and the Democratic Party, whose candidate Hillary Clinton lost the election. It appears to be fodder for a Democratic party drive building up for the president-elect’s impeachment even before he is sworn in as president on Jan. 20.

The Putin factor comes in handy for the latest tactic in a series pursued since the November 8 election, for delegitimizing Trump’s victory and negating his fitness to reach the White House.

This campaign may resonate strongly on America’s future policy and position as a world power, because it is designed to block Trump’s path to a deal with Putin for resolving the Syrian conflict. The Obama administration has no wish to see the new president succeed where it failed for nearly six years.

Putin will have no qualms about capitalizing on Washington’s preoccupation with its internal power struggle and will build up as many gains in Syria as he can before Donald Trump takes over. Obama’s threat Friday, Dec. 12, to retaliate for Russia’s efforts to influence the presidential election will just provoke the Russian president to move faster and more determinedly in his grab for more assets in Syria.