Archive for the ‘U.S. – Syrian war’ category

Trump authorizes heavy weapons for Kurds fighting Raqqa

May 9, 2017

Trump authorizes heavy weapons for Kurds fighting Raqqa, DEBKAfile, May 9, 2017

US President Donald Trump has approved supplying weapons to Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria, the Pentagon says. The Kurdish YPG leading the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would be equipped to help drive ISIS from its stronghold, Raqqa, a spokeswoman said. The US was “keenly aware” of Turkey’s concerns about such a move, she added. The SDF, which comprises Kurdish and Arab militias, is already being supported by elite US forces and air strikes from a US-led coalition. The group is currently battling for control of the city of Tabqa, an ISIS command centre just 50km (30 miles) from Raqqa. The equipment would include ammunition, small arms, machine guns, heavy machine guns, construction equipment such as bulldozers and armored vehicles. The Pentagon ource added that the US would “seek to recover” the equipment afterwards.

 

Ex-CIA Chief’s Comments Reflect ‘What US is Secretly Doing in Syria’

August 11, 2016

Ex-CIA Chief’s Comments Reflect ‘What the US is Secretly Doing in Syria , from Sputnik News, August 10, 2016

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Former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who has recently endorsed Hillary Clinton, has caused a firestorm when he said that the United States should covertly kill Russians and Iranians in Syria, with Russian lawmakers denouncing the remarks as “monstrous” and experts saying that he merely confirmed what Washington has secretly been doing.

Vladimir Vasilyev, a senior research fellow at the Moscow-based Institute of US and Canada Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, maintained that Morell’s comments should be taken at face value.

This is “what the United States has secretly and surreptitiously been doing and most importantly what Washington will do if Hillary wins presidential election,” he told RIA Novosti. “Russia should understand who it is dealing with. In fact, Moscow could thank Morell for leaking important informationon Washington’s true goals in Syria.”

“Monstrous remarks”

Russian MP Irina Yarovaya, the head of the State Duma Committee for Security, echoed these sentiments, saying that Morell made “monstrous remarks.” He essentially confirmed that Washington is capable of carrying out “covert killings … to pursue its own devastating plans.”

Yarovaya also noted that Morell’s comments point to a hidden agenda in Washington’s counterterrorism activities. “The US State Department must issue a clear statement on the issue. Otherwise, there are grounds to assume that the former CIA deputy director inadvertently revealed an existing top secret CIA plan.”

Morell’s remarks are meant to “fuel tensions between Russia and the US,” Dmitry Gorovtsov, the deputy chairman of the State Duma’s Committee for Security, told RIA Novosti, adding that such rhetoric is unacceptable. He also called Morell’s plan “extremist” and “akin to fascist ideology.”

Morell “does not understand what he is talking about”

First deputy chairman of the defense and security committee in the Federation Council of Russia Franz Klintsevich referred to Morell’s remarks as “absurd.”

“I think that Michael Morell does not understand what he is talking about. Modern surveillance equipment that covers all Syria renders any ‘covert’ killings impossible,” he said. Russia’s cutting edge technologies allow Moscow to determine the name, the date, the place and the goal of any such activity if it took place.

Moreover, Morell’s advice “would automatically lead to an open confrontation between Russia and the US, which the Americans, as far as I understand, do not need,” Klintsevich added.

On Monday, Michael Morell, who served as CIA’s acting director twice, told talk show host Charlie Rose that the US “must make” Russia and Iran “pay a price” in Syria by “covertly” killing their nationals. “You don’t tell the world about it, right? You don’t stand up at the Pentagon and say, ‘we did this.’ Right? But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran,” he added.

Morell also suggested “scaring” Bashar al-Assad by bombing government offices and presidential guard positions, but added that he did not urge to assassinate the Syrian president.

Journalist and political commentator Murtaza Hussain pointed out that the former CIA deputy director championed “efforts that later helped incubate al-Qaeda,” referring to a strategy that the United States employed in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

He also warned that if Morell’s plan is given the green light, it “would entail a massive escalation of American covert military involvement in Syria that would bring the United States much closer to direct confrontation with Russia and Iran.”

Hizballah links US, Russia to Al-din’s killing

May 14, 2016

Hizballah links US,  Russia to Al-din’s killing, DEBKAfile, May 14, 2016

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Intelligence sources in Syria and Lebanon said Friday that Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah  strongly suspects that US and Russian special forces assassinated Mustafa Bader Al-din, the commander of Hizballah forces in Syria, in a joint operation – despite the public allegation against amorphous rebels.

The sources said that when Nasrallah gave his speech Thursday evening to mark “nakba” (disaster) day (which is what the terrorist organization calls Israeli Independence Day), he already knew that Al-din had been killed in a mysterious explosion at a secret Hizballah command facility near Damascus international airport.

The assassination was the reason why he devoted his speech to an extraordinary verbal attack on the US. He claimed that Washington had caused a new disaster in the Middle East in an attempt to break up the bloc of Iran, Syria and Hizballah. He also accused the US of bringing ISIS and other “barbaric” terrorist organizations to the region.

DEBKAfile’s intelligence and counterterrorism sources report that Hizballah based its suspicion on six points:

1. No foreign aircraft, including ones carrying elite troops, can enter the Damascus area without coordination with the Russian air force and its air defense networks in Syria. In other words, the Russians knew about the strike that was about to occur and did not report it to the Syrians or the Iranians, and certainly not to Hizballah.

2. Over the last few days, the Americans placed special forces troops with attack helicopters at Remelan airbase, located in northern Syria next to the Syrian Kurdish city of Hasakah. The placement of the force enables the American command in the Middle East, CENTCOM, to take military action against terror targets anywhere in Syria. Hizballah suspects that the assassination of Al-din was the first operation by the newly-deployed US force.

3. In 2013, the US named Al-din a “specially designated global terrorist,” and less than a year ago, on July 21, 2015, it placed sanctions on him and announced the confiscation of the senior terrorist’s property throughout the world. These steps were taken due to his position as commander of Hizballah’s forces in Syria, and as a regular participant in weekly meetings with Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizballah leader Nasrallah for coordination of operations in the war. In other words, in the terrorist organization’s view, Al-din was in Washington’s crosshairs.

4. Hizballah’s command facility near Damascus was top secret, so Hizballah had been convinced that no outsiders were aware of its existence. But now it believes that three intelligence services operating in Syria could have known about it: those of the US, Russia and Israel.

5. The assassination of one of the commanders of the four armies backing Syrian President Bashar Assad could only mean one thing: whoever assassinated Al-din wanted to deal a severe blow to Assad’s military capabilities.

As DEBKAfile reported in the first hours after the mysterious hit, Al-din had been planning to withdraw Hizballah forces from the various Syrian fronts and to concentrate them on the Syria-Lebanon border. This repositioning of forces is now expected to be sped up, dealing a major blow to Assad.

6. There are unconfirmed reports that Iraqi Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who operates in Iraq in coordination with Iran, and whose supporters seized control of parts of Baghdad’s Green Zone last week, secretly visited Beirut and met with Nasrallah and Al-din. The three were said to have discussed the possibility that Hizballah would send forces from Syria to Iraq to help al-Sadr in Baghdad.

Whoever assassinated Al-din took action to prevent this from happening.

Meanwhile, on Friday afternoon, at Al-Din’s funeral in Beirut, Nasrallah’s deputy, Sheikh Naim Qassem, asserted that Hizballah had avoided specifying the nature of the blast that killed Al-Din because there were several hypotheses. However, he said the terrorist organization would announce the nature of the explosion and identity the perpetrators of the attack within several hours.

In a clear signal to Iran and Hizballah that they should not dare to blame the US for the assassination, the White House issued on Friday an unusual announcement in response to reports in the Middle East claiming that Al-din was killed in an American airstrike. It said there were no US or coalition flights over the area of the mysterious explosion. The announcement did not mention the possibility that Al-din was eliminated by a missile fired from the ground.

On Saturday morning, May 14, Hizballah alleged that Syrian rebels killed Al-din with artillery fire. It was a completely baseless accusation, even for Hizballah. If the rebels had information on the senior terrorist’s location and were able to aim directly at him, then Al-din was justified in believing that there is no reason for Hizballah forces to be in Syria anymore, and that it would be best for them to withdraw.