Iran not Russia: Deir al-Zour hit by Iranian missiles

IS has moved most of its leaders to al-Mayadin in Syria’s Euphrates Valley, southeast of the group’s besieged capital there, Raqqa. Among the operations moved to al-Mayadin, about 80 km (50 miles) west of the Iraqi border, were its online propaganda operation and its limited command and control of attacks in Europe and elsewhere, they said.

 

“A number of mid-range surface-to-surface missiles” were launched from bases in Iran’s western border provinces of Kermanshah and Kurdistan, delivering “fatal and crushing blows” to targets in Syria’s eastern Deir Ezzor area, according to a statement from the IRGC’s office of public affairs, published by Tasnim.   U.S. and Coalition jets around Sept. 17, 2016 hit oil pipelines, fuel trucks and other parts of the Islamic State’s oil infrastructure in the vicinity of Deir al-Zour, according to daily statements from Centcom.   Some Trump appointees saw Iran’s missile strike as an illustration of Tehran’s regional ambitions, making it an existential enemy. Blaming enemies for unpredictable bad things restores their sense of personal control. A situational threat to control over an external hazard strengthens the belief in the conspiratorial power of a political enemy. Basically, turning enemies into scapegoats makes them feel more in control. Political Existentialism. Some remarks on Schmitt’s enemy reflections in the light of Heidegger .
These Iran hawks are pushing for a Syria strategy that calls for concentrating first on defeating Islamic State, then turning on Iran and its allies, including Assad, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iraq’s Shi’ite militias, and Houthi rebels in Yemen, according to three U.S. officials.

U.S.-led coalition forces killed Turki al-Bin’ali, a top cleric of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in an airstrike. The cleric and self-proclaimed “Grand Mufti” was killed in an airstrike on May 31 in Mayadeen, Syria It is the capital of the Mayadin District, part of the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. Mayadin is located about 44 kilometers southeast of Deir ez-Zor. The Euphrates River flows through the town.

[May 15 Qaboun, on the northeastern edge of Damascus, in evacuation deal. ]

About 1,500 rebels and civilians have been evacuated from the Qaboun district of Damascus after enduring months of bombing attacks. The discovery of a network of tunnels forced their hand.

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The rebels were cornered overnight in a small section of Qaboun, on the northeastern edge of the Syrian capital, and agreed to the evacuation deal. After a nearly three-month-long bombing campaign, which included air strikes and artillery shelling, much of the area has been reduced to rubble.

[May 19 2014 Lt. Gen. Hussein Ayoub Ishaq, the general in charge of Syria’s air defense, dies of wounds ]

Lt. Gen. Hussein Ayoub Ishaq, the general in charge of Syria’s air defense

Lt. Gen. Hussein Ayoub Ishaq, the general in charge of Syria’s air defense

Lt. Gen. Hussein Ayoub Ishaq, the general in charge of Syria’s air defense has been killed in fighting near Damascus. The officer, , one of the highest-ranking officers to die during the country’s three-year conflict, commanded 60,000 troops in Syria’s air defense forces. But it was unclear what impact General Ishaq’s death would have on the battlefield, given that Syrian opposition fighters possess no aircraft. Rebel fighters fired toward what they said was a government helicopter dropping supplies to forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad last week in the Idlib countryside.
He died of injuries sustained on May 17 in Mleha, a district on the outskirts of Damascus where there have been intense battles in recent weeks. Iit was unclear how General Ishaq had been wounded.

[September 5 2012]

Brig. Gen. Issa al-Khouli

Brig. Gen. Issa al-Khouli

Brigadier General Dr, Issa al-Khouli

Brigadier General Dr, Issa al-Khouli

In Beijing September 5, talks between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese leaders failed to narrow gaps on how to end the crisis in Syria. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said his country backs a “political transition” in Syria to end worsening bloodshed after 18 months of unrest, but repeated China’s opposition to forceful foreign intervention in the crisis.

Clinton acknowledged it is “no secret” the U.S. government is disappointed by Chinese and Russian policy on Syria and repeated that the best course of action remains tough U.N. Security Council measures.
more

February 12]The Revolution Leadership Council, an anti-Assad group in Damascus, alleged that the government had carried out the killing itself.
Tunisia will host a “Friends of Syria” meeting on February 24 to attempt to build an international consensus on how to end the violence. Tunisia’s foreign minister said the meeting will include Arab, regional and international states, and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani, who is also the country’s foreign minister, said he backed the proposal.The Arab League will ask the United Nations to form a joint peacekeeping force and appoint a special Arab envoy to try to halt the violence in Syria, members have agreed.The request for a peacekeeping force raised a number of questions, including whether Syria would agree and which Arab countries might contribute troops.

Arab foreign ministers have been engaging in “intensive talks” with Russia and China and are hoping they can help encourage Assad to accept a peacekeeping force as an alternative to escalating conflict,
The league also agreed to step up economic sanctions and provide the Syrian opposition with political and financial support, though it again refrained from recognising the Syrian National Council – the most prominent of anti-Assad groups.

“Its a very difficult process to recognise the SNC – the Arab League made it clear to the opposition that the body as a whole cannot do it, but rather the individual countries will need to do that on their own,”
[February 11: Issa] came from an Alawite family with close ties inside the Assad government and believed to have been the nephew of Mohamed al-Khouli, the former head of the widely feared Air Force Intelligence Directorate, the most powerful of the multiple security agencies that cement the government’s power. The elder Mr. Khouli was a security adviser to President Hafez al-Assad until the president died in 2000.
In the first killing of a high ranking military officer in the Syrian capital since the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime began in March. Capt. Ammar al-Wawi of the Free Syrian Army, a rebel group that wants to bring down the regime by force, denied involvement in the assassination, which came a day after two suicide car bombers struck security compounds in Aleppo. Western and Arab countries are considering forming a coalition to help Syria’s opposition, though so far there is no sign they intend to give direct aid to the FSA. Director of Hamish Hospital in Damascus Brigadier General, Dr. Issa al-Kholi,was assassinated before his house at Rukn Eddin Neighborhood. Three gunmen awaited al-Kholi till he got out of his home and shot him dead. Brigadier General al-Kholi held a Bachelor’s Degree of Medicine in the Joints from the Romanian universities and is a specialist from Parisian Universities and Hospitals.

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CIA talked to Syria: Pompeo-Mamlouk call

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General Ali Mamlouk

Mike Pompeo reportedly conducted secret telephone conversations with Syrian General Intelligence Director (GID) General Ali Mamlouk in February.   The Pompeo-Mamlouk call would represent the highest-level communication between the two governments in years. It also is surprising given the widespread allegations of Mamlouk’s culpability in human rights atrocities in Syria’s civil war. Mamlouk has been subject to U.S. sanctions since 2011.

The CIA declined to comment.

The visit of General Ali Mamluk, head of Syria’s National Security Bureau, to Saudi Arabia late July 2015 was reportedly engineered by Russia, and the Syrian intelligence chief flew in a Russian jet for talks with Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince and defense minister.   By a royal decree, Saudi Arabia has relieved Muhammad bin Nayef as crown prince, replacing him with Mohammad bin Salman June 18 2017.
more
[April 7 2017 Cruise missile target status of forces ]

Shu`ayrat

Shayrat AB Shayrat
7 Squadron MiG-25
675 Squadron MiG-23
677 Squadron Su-22
685 Squadron Su-22

 

[January 19 2016 Turkey allowing U.S. Airstrikes from Incirlik

 

F-15 fighter jet glides in for a landing in front of Adana’s main mosque March 7, 2003 at Incirlik Air Force Base in Turkey.

Turkey has agreed to allow U.S. planes to launch air strikes against Islamic State militants from the U.S. air base at Incirlik, close to the Syrian border, U.S. defense officials said on July 24.

[ January 19 Iranian Guard Gen Allah-Dadi killed in Syria, Al-Nusra Front claims hit, Israeli helicopter strike suspected]

Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of a Hezbollah military chief assassinated in 2008, was also among those killed

Jihad Mughniyeh, the son of a Hezbollah military chief assassinated in 2008, was also among those killed

Abu Azzam Al-Idlibi, a member of Al-Nusra Front, said: “The killing of Jihad Imad Mughniyeh in an ambush at Jaroud, Syria, will be the end of the Persian project, God willing.”

Al-Idlibi challenged Hezbollah to release the pictures of its fighters and officers, tweeting: “From now and within the next two days, if the corpses of the Hezbollah leaders are released, then we can say they were targeted by the Israelis. Yet, if these pictures are not released, then this proves that they were killed by the mujahideen.”

[September 24 Assad uses poison gas as Coalition bombs Syria]

Assad forces in the Adra industrial zone published September 25

Assad forces in the Adra industrial zone published September 25

Forces loyal to President Bashar Assad wrested back a rebel-held industrial area near Damascus after months of clashes, the Adra industrial zone, after opposition forces accused them of using chemical explosives on September 24. Footage of the wounded from the incident, in which six people were killed, showed men jerking uncontrollably and struggling to breathe before their bodies went limp. The footage, posted on social networks, appeared genuine and consistent with The Associated Press reporting of the event depicted. The town – Adra al-Omalia – is about 30km from central Damascus but far from parts of Syria where the United States has launched air strikes against fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

[April 28 Not in America’s interest to tamp down violence in Syria?]

The president could be seeking to intentionally prolong the war because it is bad for Iran and Russia.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough is described as the administration official whose views on Syria were most closely aligned with the president’s. , McDonough reportedly “questioned how much it was in America’s interest to tamp down the violence in Syria.” He later suggested that “a fight in Syria between Hezbollah and al Qaeda would work to America’s advantage.”

President Obama’s answer to a question on Syria during a recent interview provides further insight into his calculus:

“I’m always darkly amused by this notion that somehow Iran has won in Syria. I mean, you hear sometimes people saying, ‘They’re winning in Syria.’ And you say, ‘This was their one friend in the Arab world, a member of the Arab League, and it is now in rubble.’ It’s bleeding them because they’re having to send in billions of dollars. Their key proxy, Hezbollah, which had a very comfortable and powerful perch in Lebanon, now finds itself attacked by Sunni extremists. This isn’t good for Iran. They’re losing as much as anybody. The Russians find their one friend in the region in rubble and delegitimized.”

[January 26]

Anas Al-Abdah is  Chairman of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria.

Anas Al-Abdah is Chairman of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria.

The Syrian opposition has agreed to a government request for a list of detainees held by armed rebel groups. Syrian government delegates, at peace talks in Geneva, have agreed to allow women and children to immediately leave a besieged district in the central city of Homs.

Top Syrian government officials say that an aid convoy is ready to enter the city of Homs after rival delegations meeting in Geneva agreed on the need for humanitarian access to conflict areas.

Bouthaina Shabaan, President Bashar al-Assad’s media and political adviser, made the remarks on January 26, the third day of peace talks in the Swiss city.

Anas Al-Abdah is Chairman of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria. He was born in Damascus in 1967 and grew up there before leaving for Jordan in 1980 to study for a BSC in Geology at Yarmouk University. He moved to the UK in 1989 to continue a post-graduate degree in Geo-physics at Newcastle University.
Wikileaks cables have revealed US State Department funding of Barada TV. There may be a closeness of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria, Barada TV and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights by virtue of the high level administrative & family links at the level of the al-Abdeh brothers.

[November 1 2013]

Alleged Air Force base attacked

Alleged Air Force base attacked

November 1, 2013, 7:58 am. Turkey was behind the October 30 attack in Latakia, Syria, which targeted “missiles and related equipment” meant for Lebanese terror group Hezbollah. The Lebanese report cited Israeli officials who allegedly claimed the attack came in response to the June 2012 interception of a Turkish jet, which Syrian forces shot down. The pilots were subsequently killed. The report could not be independently confirmed.

July 16, 2013 11:13, Israel used a Turkish military base to launch one of its recent airstrikes against Syria from the sea, a reliable source told RT. Israel has been under scrutiny since last week, when it was reported to be responsible for a July 5 depot attack in Latakia. Turkish armed forces have begun to establish a new base on the top of Kel Mountain, adjacent to the Syrian coastal city of Latakia.

[September 30]

BD-700 in which Tony BlaIr travels, here at Adirondack Regional Airport in August 2013

BD-700 in which Tony BlaIr travels, here at Adirondack Regional Airport in August 2013

Tony Blair:

People see the terrible things that President Assad (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) has done with the use of artillery and, as we’ve seen, with the use of chemical weapons.

But they also know now there are, I’m afraid, elements within the Syrian opposition that are extreme — linked to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups — and who are also committing atrocities. So, this situation has become more complicated.
[September 26]

Haji Qassem Suleimani

Haji Qassem Suleimani

As Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tries to engage the West, he will have to contend with the hard-liners, including Suleimani and his comrades. “Suleimani is the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today,” John Maguire, a former C.I.A. officer in Iraq, told me, “and no one’s ever heard of him.”

In the chaotic days after the attacks of September 11th, Ryan Crocker, then a senior State Department official, flew discreetly to Geneva to meet a group of Iranian diplomats. “I’d fly out on a Friday and then back on Sunday, so nobody in the office knew where I’d been,” Crocker told me. “We’d stay up all night in those meetings.” It seemed clear to Crocker that the Iranians were answering to Suleimani, whom they referred to as “Haji Qassem,” and that they were eager to help the United States destroy their mutual enemy, the Taliban. Although the United States and Iran broke off diplomatic relations in 1980, after American diplomats in Tehran were taken hostage, Crocker wasn’t surprised to find that Suleimani was flexible. “You don’t live through eight years of brutal war without being pretty pragmatic,” he said. Sometimes Suleimani passed messages to Crocker, but he avoided putting anything in writing.
The good will didn’t last. In January, 2002, Crocker, who was by then the deputy chief of the American Embassy in Kabul, was awakened one night by aides, who told him that President George W. Bush, in his State of the Union Address, had named Iran as part of an “Axis of Evil.” Like many senior diplomats, Crocker was caught off guard. He saw the negotiator the next day at the U.N. compound in Kabul, and he was furious. “You completely damaged me,” Crocker recalled him saying. “Suleimani is in a tearing rage. He feels compromised.” The negotiator told Crocker that, at great political risk, Suleimani had been contemplating a complete reëvaluation of the United States, saying, “Maybe it’s time to rethink our relationship with the Americans.” The Axis of Evil speech brought the meetings to an end. Reformers inside the government, who had advocated a rapprochement with the United States, were put on the defensive. Recalling that time, Crocker shook his head. “We were just that close,” he said. “One word in one speech changed history.”

[August 31]

four destroyers with Tomahawk Missiles within range now

four destroyers with Tomahawk Missiles within range now

USS San Antonio GULF OF ADEN (Aug. 18, 2013)

USS San Antonio GULF OF ADEN (Aug. 18, 2013)

July 11, 2013. As political unrest continues in post-coup Egypt, USS San Antonio, amphibious assault ship, has moved to the coast there.

August 31, 2013 The USS San Antonio, an amphibious ship with several hundred US Marines on board, was positioned near five US destroyers armed with cruise missiles.
San Antonio’s passage into the Mediterranean was long-planned, but officials thought it prudent to keep the ship in the eastern Mediterranean near the destroyers given the current situation.
“It’s been kept there as a precaution,” one said.

[August 30]
What are the options? First, to recognize that the situation could be made much worse. Major western military intervention would do that.

http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/containing-fire-syria
[earlier]
The League of
the Arab world on August 27 blamed the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds of people last week, but declined to back a retaliatory military strike, leaving President Obama without the broad regional support he had for his last military intervention in the Middle East, in Libya in 2011.

[earlier]
Warplanes and military transporters have begun arriving at Britain’s Akrotiri airbase on Cyprus, less than 100 miles from the Syrian coast, in a sign of increasing preparations for a military strike against the Assad regime in Syria.

Two commercial pilots who regularly fly from Larnaca on Monday told the Guardian that they had seen C-130 transport planes from their cockpit windows as well as small formations of fighter jets on their radar screens, which they believe had flown from Europe.

Residents near the British airfield, a sovereign base since 1960, also say activity there has been much higher than normal over the past 48 hours.
[Earlier]
Meeting in Amman Jordan today, The summit will be led by General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, and his Jordanian counterpart. It will take place little more than 100 miles from Damascus, where an apparent chemical weapons attack killed hundreds of civilians last week.
Top generals from Germany, Canada, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are also expected to attend a meeting which will coincide with UN weapons experts visiting the site of the attack in an attempt to determine what happened and who was behind it.
The key players in any possible strike against Syria, widely considered to be the US, Britain and France, already have substantial military muscle in the area.
[August 27]
Kuwait’s permanent delegate at the Arab League Ambassador Jamal Al- Ghunaim welcomed the League call to hold an emergency session at level of permanent delegates, on August 27, to discuss prospective steps at the international level to deal with the dangerous developments in Syria.
5:45 pm edt 8/26/13: An official from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said NATO allies were closely monitoring developments in Syria and the wider region and “will keep the situation under constant review, as appropriate.”
[August 26]
The French foreign minister says there will be a “proportionate response” to the alleged chemical weapons attack in a Damascus suburb that he blamed on Syria’s government.

“It will be negotiated in coming days,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio on Monday. Fabius acknowledged that the lack of a U.N. blessing was problematic. “All the options are open. The only option that I can’t imagine would be to do nothing.”

“It’s a step too far to say we’re drawing up legal justifications for an action, given that the president hasn’t made a decision,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the deliberations. “But Kosovo, of course, is a precedent of something that is perhaps similar.”
Kosovo is an obvious precedent for Mr. Obama because, as in Syria, civilians were killed and Russia had longstanding ties to the government authorities accused of the abuses. In 1999, President Bill Clinton used the endorsement of NATO and the rationale of protecting a vulnerable population to justify 78 days of airstrikes.

A senior administration official said the Kosovo precedent was one of many subjects discussed in continuing White House meetings on the crisis in Syria. Officials are also debating whether a military strike would have unintended consequences, destabilize neighbors like Lebanon, or lead to even greater flows of refugees into Jordan, Turkey and Egypt.

In the Mediterranean, the Navy’s regional commander postponed a scheduled port call in Naples, Italy, for a destroyer so that the ship would remain with a second destroyer in striking distance of Syria during the crisis. Pentagon officials said the decision did not reflect any specific orders from Washington, but both destroyers had on board Tomahawk cruise missiles, long-range weapons that probably would be among the first launched against targets in Syria should the president decide to take military action.

[August 23]
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “The only possible explanation of what we have been able to see is that it was a chemical attack and clearly many, many hundreds of people have been killed, some of the estimates are well over 1,000.

“There is no other plausible explanation for casualties so intense in such a small area on this scale.

“I know some people in the world would like to say this is some kind of conspiracy brought about by the opposition in Syria – I think the chances of that are vanishingly small. He noted that subsequent air attacks by the Syrian Air Force might have destroyed evidence of the perpetrator, likely the Syrian army.

Rocket/gas attack victims in Damascus suburbs

Rocket/gas attack victims in Damascus suburbs

Syria’s moderate opposition earlier pointed out that if the rebels had had access to chemical weapons they would have been tempted to use them much earlier against Assad’s military bases.The Syrian army unit in the thick of the campaign for the suburbs is the 4th Armoured Division of the Republican Guards, led by Mr Assad’s brother, Maher. Chemical weapons were said to have been issued to that unit in 2012.
[August 21]
Rockets with chemical agents hit the Damascus suburbs of Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar during fierce pre-dawn bombardment.

150 bodies were counted in Hammouriya, 100 in Kfar Batna, 67 in Saqba, 61 in Douma, 76 in Mouadamiya and 40 in Irbib, all suburbs of Damascus.

Minority groups — primarily Alawites who traditionally supported the government of President Bashar al-Assad, himself an Alawite. But other groups, including the Kurds, Druze and Christians, who together with the Alawites make up a quarter of Syria’s 22.5 million people, are also seen as supportive of the secular government and therefore viewed as enemies. This week, some 30,000 Syrian Kurds fled into Iraq’s Kurdistan region saying they were being killed by jihadists targeting the minority.

What appears to be a deliberate campaign against these groups poses serious dilemmas for the Obama administration and European nations such as Britain and France, which have planned to support the pro-democracy forces by providing advanced weaponry. They are already grappling with the problem of how to ensure that those arms will not end up in the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra — the al-Qaida-affiliated group that emerged as the most effective and capable of the rebel forces — and the increasing attacks on minorities by insurgents creates an additional quandary.

Although many members of Syria’s ethnic and sectarian groups are in fact secular, approximately three-quarters of the population is nominally comprised of Sunni Muslims. Alawites make up about 11 percent, Christians of various denominations — including Greek Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Maronite, Syrian Catholic, Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic — another 10 percent, and the Druze and Shiite contribute 3 percent and 2 percent, respectively, to the total.

At the start of Syria’s troubles in March 2011 many members of the minorities, including Alawites, supported the calls for reform and more political freedoms. But as the conflict intensified, opposition ranks became more and more dominated by radicalized members of Syria’s Sunni majority and jihadist fighters who started joining the rebellion in large numbers.

Today, the conflict has morphed into a full-fledged civil war in which more than 100,000 people have perished. The most capable units on the rebel side — those spearheading the fight against the secular government — are composed of Islamist militants, many of whom fought U.S. forces in Iraq. The militants now accuse Christians of being supporters of Assad’s regime.

“They have threatened to cut our throats,” said Bahri, a Roman Catholic. “I love my country, but if it means having the terrorists slaughter me, my wife and our two boys, I’d rather escape to Lebanon.”

[March 28]

M60 recoilless rifle manufactured in Yugoslavia from Croatian stock

M60 recoilless rifle manufactured in Yugoslavia from Croatian stock


Mideast powers opposed to President Bashar Assad have dramatically stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels in coordination with the U.S. in preparation for a push on the capital of Damascus,
Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are headed by Sunni Muslim governments seeking the fall of Assad’s regime, which is dominated by Syria’s Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The Arab powers in particular are hoping Assad’s departure would break the influence in the region of predominantly Shiite Iran and its Hezbollah allies in Lebanon. Croatian arms began appearing only recently in Syria. They include M60 recoilless guns, M79 Osa rocket launchers, and RBG-6 grenade launchers, which all are powerful anti-tank weapons. Griffiths said the Croatian arms are a “major game changer.” He said they are “portable, but pack a much bigger explosive punch.”

[March 25]

Ilyushin 76 aircraft owned by Jordan International Air Cargo have been spotted in Croatia -company owned by Air Force

Ilyushin 76 aircraft owned by Jordan International Air Cargo have been spotted in Croatia -company owned by Air Force

An official in Washington said the possibility of the transfers from the Balkans was broached in the summer of 2012, when a senior Croatian official visited Washington and suggested to American officials that Croatia had many weapons available should anyone be interested in moving them to Syria’s rebels.
At the time, the rebels were advancing slowly in parts of the country, but were struggling to maintain momentum amid weapons and ammunition shortages.
Washington was not interested then, the official said, though at the same time, there were already signs of limited Arab and other foreign military assistance. The Saudis appear to have stepped up.
[February 13]

Yak-130

Yak-130

Anatoly Isaikin, the director of Rosoboronexport, said Russia sees no need to stop its arms trade with Syria as the trade isn’t prohibited by the United Nations. Isaikin said his company has a contract with Syria to deliver Yak-130 combat jets but so far has not shipped any. He didn’t explain why no deliveries have been made, but the reason could be the aircraft’s long production cycle.
Russian media reported last year that the contract was for 36 Yak-130s worth $550 million. The Yak-130 is a combat training jet that can also carry modern weapons for ground attack missions.
Isaikin didn’t mention any other weapons systems which his company has delivered to Syria or is planning to ship in the future.
But the Russian media said they included Pantsyr-S1 and Buk-M2 air defense systems and Bastion anti-ship missile system. The latter is armed with supersonic Yakhont cruise missiles that have a range of up to 300 kilometres and provide a strong deterrent against an attack from the sea.

[January 11]

Thaer al-Waqqas, northern commander of al-Farouq Brigades, one of Syria’s largest rebel groups, was shot dead at a rebel-held position in the town of Sermin, a few kilometres from Turkey, early on Wednesday morning.

Al-Waqqas had been suspected of involvement in the killing four months ago of Firas al-Absi, a main jihadist leader in al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, which Washington dubbed a terrorist organization in December.

[December 23]
Alawi State?

If Assad fled to Tartus, he could seek protection from the Russian naval base there, or flee aboard a Russian vessel. Russia announced that it was sending a small flotilla toward Tartus, possibly to evacuate its citizens who live in Syria.
But Tartus residents said that the Russian families from the naval base had already left. The officers do not leave the base, which is little more than an enclosure near the civilian port.
There is a precedent for a rump state. France, the colonial power in the region in the early 20th century, fostered an Alawite state from 1920 to 1936, but it eventually merged with what became an independent Syria.
Opposition military commanders vow to block any such attempt.

[November 30]

https://i1.wp.com/static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/maps_and_graphs/2012/7/18/1342611528357/Screengrab---Damascus-fig-001.jpg

After months of skirmishes with the army on the capital’s outskirts, rebel groups said they were attempting to storm strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, including security buildings from where the regime side of the civil war has been run and the presidential palace.

[November 29]

PAC-3 Patriot Missiles

PAC-3 Patriot Missiles

Turkey has asked NATO to deploy 18 to 20 Patriot missiles along its border with Syria, but the Alliance only offered about eight to 10 missiles,

NATO countries that have advanced PAC-3 model Patriot missiles, namely Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. The decision is likely to come in early December on whether NATO should deploy surface-to-air missiles in Turkey, ostensibly to protect that country from Syrian missiles that could carry chemical weapons. Patriot missile system would not be “for use beyond the Turkish border.”

But some strategists and administration officials believe that Syrian Air Force pilots might fear how else the missile batteries could be used. If so, they could be intimidated from bombing the northern Syrian border towns where the rebels control considerable territory. A NATO survey team is in Turkey, examining possible sites for the batteries. The Obama administration, hoping that the conflict in Syria has reached a turning point, is considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power

While no decisions have been made, the administration is considering several alternatives, including directly providing arms to some opposition fighters.

[November 7]

Damascus Presidential Palace

Damascus Presidential Palace

Mazzeh Jabal 86

Mazzeh Jabal 86

Mortar shells fired by anti-government rebels targeted but missed the presidential palace, which sits on a hill overlooking the capital and fell November 7 in a Damascus district that is home to many members of President Bashar Assad’s Alawite sect. Mazzeh Jabal 86 is home to many officers in the Syrian military and security services, which are dominated by members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect, considered an offshoot of the Shiite branch of Islam. Syria’s Alawite minority is largely supportive of Assad in the face of the Sunni-led uprising against his family’s more than 40 years of autocratic rule.

[October 11]

Smoke rises from Damascus military headquarters hit by two explosions

Smoke rises from Damascus military headquarters hit by two explosions

Far left, Maher al-Assad

Far left, Maher al-Assad

Islamist groups Ahfad al-Rasoul and Ansar al-Islam said in a joint statement they planted bombs in a compound belonging to State Security in the area.

Syrian state television said a “terrorist explosion” had injured two people. Witnesses said soldiers in full combat gear were deployed in the area and all roads leading to Umayyad Square were cut.

[October 7]a car bomb has exploded near police headquarters in central Damascus.

Residents reported hearing a huge explosion that rattled the Syrian capital just after sundown October 7.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government policy, told The Associated Press the blast was caused by a car bomb that blew up in the Fahameh district near police headquarters.

[Sept.28[Two loud explosions struck the General Staff Command Building (Hay’at al Arkan) in the Umayad Square in central Damascus.

[August 28]An administration official speaking on condition of anonymitysaid that the White House is still resisting any move that would see U.S. military assets used inside Syria, such as through a no-fly zone, but opponents of intervention are slowly losing ground.

“It’s a Donilon call at the end of the day,” the official said, referring to National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, who is leading a complicated interagency policy process on the Syria crisis. “There’s not enthusiasm but there are differences of opinion about a no-fly zone,” the official said. “There is no rush to do it.”

[August 16]Reuters says:”We heard that he (Maher al-Assad) lost one of his legs during the explosion, but don’t know any more,”

A Gulf source confirmed the report: “He lost one of his legs. The news is true.”

A Saudi daily insisted August 15 it had held an interview with Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, following denials from Moscow that he had ever spoken to the newspaper. A recording was posted on the al-Watan website. Further explosions in Damascus on the 15th.

Al-Watan posted online a recording which it said proved the interview, in which Bogdanov purportedly said Syrian President Bashar Assad’s influential brother Maher lost both his legs in a bomb attack, had indeed taken place.

[August 14]

Al Jazeera Arabic reported on July 18 a number of explosions at 4th Brigade headquarters which protects the presidential palace which is headed by Maher al-Assad, the brother of Bashar al-Assad. [see below].

On August 14, the Saudi newspaper al Watan that Maher had lost both legs in such an explosion and was in critical condition, according to a telephone interview with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. more

Incirlik Air Base has a U.S. Air Force complement of about five thousand airmen, with several hundred airmen from the British Royal Air Force and Turkish Air Force also present, as of late 2002.

Incirlik Air Base has a U.S. Air Force complement of about five thousand airmen, with several hundred airmen from the British Royal Air Force and Turkish Air Force also present, as of late 2002.

[August 11]

U.S. State Department and Turkey’s Foreign Ministry have set up a working group to respond to the crisis in Syria as conditions there deteriorate. They said the group will coordinate military, intelligence and political responses to the potential fallout in the case of a chemical attack, which would result in medical emergencies and a likely rise in the number of refugees fleeing Syria.

[August 2]Under provisions of a presidential finding, the United States is collaborating with a secret command center operated by Turkey and its allies.

Along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Turkey had established a secret base near the Syrian border to help direct vital military and communications support to Assad’s opponents.

This “nerve center” is in Adana, a city in southern Turkey about 60 miles from the Syrian border, which is also home to Incirlik, a U.S. air base where U.S. military and intelligence agencies maintain a substantial presence. Incirlik Air Base (Turkish: İncirlik Hava Üssü) (ICAO: LTAG) is a United States Air Force installation, located near İncirlik, Turkey. Incirlik Air Base is located 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) east of Adana, Turkey, the fifth largest city in the country, and is 56 kilometers (35 miles) inland from the Mediterranean Sea. The United States Air Force and the Turkish Air Force are the primary users of the air base, although it is also used by the British Royal Air Force.

Incirlik Air Base is the home of the 10th Air Wing (Ana Jet Üs or AJÜ) of the 2nd Air Force Command (Hava Kuvvet Komutanlığı) of the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri). Other wings of this command are located in Merzifon (LTAP), Malatya/Erhaç (LTAT) and Diyarbakır (LTCC).

Incirlik Air Base has a U.S. Air Force complement of about five thousand airmen, with several hundred airmen from the British Royal Air Force and Turkish Air Force also present, as of late 2002. The primary unit stationed at Incirlik Air Base is the 39th Air Base Wing (39 ABW) of the U.S. Air Force. Incirlik Air Base has one 3,048 m (10,000 ft)-long main runway[1] and one 2,740 m (8,990 ft)-long secondary runway, both located among about 57 Hardened Aircraft Shelters.

A Turkish newspaper claims that the U.S. deployed four Predator drones at the Incirlik Air Base in late October, Precisely when Obama signed the secret intelligence authorization, an action not previously reported, could not be determined. Bradley Strawser, assistant professor of philosophy at Monterey’s Naval Postgraduate School, argues the US is not only entitled but morally obliged to use drones.

“It’s all upside. There’s no downside. Both ethically and normatively, there’s a tremendous value,” he says. “You’re not risking the pilot. The pilot is safe. And all the empirical evidence shows that drones tend to be more accurate. We need to shift the burden of the argument to the other side. Why not do this? The positive reasons are overwhelming at this point. This is the future of all air warfare. At least for the US.”

[July 31]”I think it’s important when Assad leaves – and he will leave – to try to preserve stability in that country. And the best way to preserve that kind of stability is to maintain as much of the military, the police, as you can, along with the security forces, and hope that they will transition to a democratic form of government. That’s a key,”

more

Syrian intelligence

 

 

 

 

 

[July 28]

security council head, Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk

security council head, Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk

Assad promoted the Sunni chief of his general intelligence directorate to security council head, Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk. The head of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Abdel-Fattah Qudsiyeh, was made the security council’s deputy head. A senior military intelligence general was elevated to take his place. The head of another of the four intelligence agencies, the Political Security Department — Maj. Gen. Deeb Zeitoun, also a Sunni — was moved over to lead the General Intelligence Directorate, replacing Mamlouk.

To fill in Zeitoun’s now empty position, Assad brought in loyalist Maj. Gen. Rostom Ghazali from his job as security chief for the Damascus suburbs, which has been a battleground with rebels for months. Previously, as Syria’s intelligence chief in Lebanon, Ghazali was a key enforcer of Syria’s then-direct domination over its smaller neighbor, which lasted for 29 years until 2005.

The head of the fourth intelligence agency, air force intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Jamil Hassan, apparently remained in his post.

[July 25]

Alawite shown as Shia

Alawite shown as Shia

The Assads have spent more than four decades safeguarding the building blocks of political authoritarianism and co-opting a broad coalition of social, political, sectarian and ethnic communities. The Alawis, a minority sect within Islam, are the spearhead and power base, but other interest groups play a critical legitimising role, such as Christians, Druzes, and an important segment of the Sunni merchant class and the new bourgeoisie, all of whom benefited from Assad’s neoliberal economic policies. The durability of the Assad rule has depended not only on coercion and hegemony but also on co-option and the balancing of various interest and communal groups.

Alawite flight has led to speculation that Assad himself and his inner circle might fall back on their ancestral mountain fortress if they felt power was slipping from them. That speculation was heightened when opposition sources said he had moved to the coastal city of Latakia last week after the stunning bomb attack which killed four of his top officials.

The reports were not confirmed and Israel later said Assad, who has launched a sustained counter-offensive against rebel fighters in Damascus, was still in the capital with his family.

But many suspect it remains Assad’s option of last resort.

“It wouldn’t be surprising if there were some contingency plans – a safe house, fortifying the presidential palace in Latakia, moving artillery to the mountains,” said Shashank Joshi of the RUSI defense think tank in London.

[July 20]A day after a bombing killed his brother-in-law and two other key military figures, Assad was in the coastal city of Latakia, opposition sources and a Western diplomat told Reuters.

“Our information is that he is at his palace in Latakia and that he may have been there for days,” said a senior opposition figure, who declined to be named, according to Reuters.

Latakia province is home to several towns inhabited by members of Assad’s minority Alawite sect.

Reuters Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:04pm EDT The bomber, said by a security source to be a bodyguard assigned to Assad’s inner circle, struck a meeting in central Damascus attended by ministers and senior security officials as battles raged within sight of the nearby presidential palace.

Syrian General Hassan Turkmani, a former defense minister and senior military official, died of wounds sustained in a bomb attack in Damascus, Hezbollah’s al-Manar television and a security source said. Hafez Makhlouf, head of the investigations at the Syrian Intelligence Agency died in the Damascus explosion, Al Arabiya reported citing Syrian sources.

Al Jazeera Arabic reports that a number of explosions at 4th Brigade headquarters which protects the presidential palace which is headed by Maher al-Assad, the brother of Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian Defence Minister Daoud Rajiha

Syrian Defence Minister Daoud Rajiha

Al-Shaarm

Al-Shaarm

HassanTurkmani

Hassan Turkmani

Hafez Makhlouf

Hafez Makhlouf

Gen Rajiha has been defence minister for less than a year, serving previously as chief of staff, and is on a US blacklist for his role in the suppression of dissent. Syrian Defence Minister Daoud Rajiha has been killed in bomb explosion inside the national security headquarters in the capital Damascus. Opposition sources say bombers got away.

The deputy head of the armed forces, President Assad’s brother-in-law Assef Shawkat, and Hisham Ikhtiar, the head of general security have died. Mohammad Shaar held a number of security positions, including Chief of the military police in Aleppo and was the Director of Sednaya prison. He was commander of the military police prior to being appointed Minister of the Interior.

Other senior officials meeting inside at the time are said to be critically hurt.

He is believed to be an Orthodox Christian – a rarity in the Alawite-dominated Syrian military and government.

[July 4]

Parking Lot

Parking Lot

al-Marjeh

al-Marjeh

Two magnetic bombs exploded in two judges’ cars in the open-air car park, while a third was in the process of being defused in car park of the Palace of Justice in the al-Marjeh district of Damascus on June 28,.

[June 27]

 attack on Ikhbariya TV south of Damascus

attack on Ikhbariya TV south of Damascus

Gunmen have attacked a Syrian pro-government TV channel, killing seven people, state media say.

Journalists and security guards died in the attack on Ikhbariya TV south of Damascus.

[May 10]

In background: Al-Qazzaz Intelligence Compound

In background: Al-Qazzaz Intelligence Compound

The district targeted is said to house a military intelligence complex, including the headquarters, 10 floors high, of the counter-terrorism operation for the military security in Syria, involved in President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on the ongoing pro-democracy protests.

Next to it was another military security intelligence building which was also destroyed in the attack.

The building is part of a broader military compound the Palestine Branch, one of the most feared among the more than 20 secret police organisations in the country, correspondents say.

It was originally set up in the 1950s to interrogate suspected Israeli spies, and then to deal with the 500,000 Palestinian refugees in the country, which it still does. But over the past decade, it has evolved into the country’s counter-terrorism unit, and is infamous for interrogations and torture,

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Pakistan not Russia…Pakistan not an ally?

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Naveed Mukhtar appointed as DG ISI: possesses a vast experience in the field of intelligence. He had also headed the counterterrorism wing of the ISI in Islamabad.

 

The Trump administration may withhold at least some assistance to Pakistan.The potential U.S. pivot to a more assertive approach would be sharply different than the approach taken at the start of the Obama administration, when U.S. officials sought to court Pakistani leaders, including Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani, U.S. officials said.   Lisa Curtis, senior director for South and Central Asia at the National Security Council, co-authored a report with Husain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to Washington, in which they recommended the Trump administration warn Pakistan the status could be revoked in six months.   “Thinking of Pakistan as an ally will continue to create problems for the next administration as it did for the last one,” said the February report.   Pakistan fiercely denies allowing any militants safe haven on its territory. It bristles at U.S. claims that Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, has ties to Haqqani network militants blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan.   Without more pressure on militants within Pakistan who target Afghanistan, experts say additional U.S. troop deployments will fail to meet their ultimate objective: to pressure the Taliban to eventually negotiate peace.

Another option under review is broadening a drone campaign to penetrate deeper into Pakistan to target Haqqani fighters and other militants blamed for attacks in Afghanistan, U.S. officials and a Pakistan expert said.   “Now the Americans (will be) saying, you aren’t taking out our enemies, so therefore we are taking them out ourselves,” the Pakistan expert, who declined to be identified, said.   Blaming enemies for unpredictable bad things  restores sense of personal control.  A situational threat to control over an external hazard strengthens the belief in the conspiratorial power of a political enemy.   Basically, turning enemies into scapegoats makes them feel more in control.   Political Existentialism. Some remarks on Schmitt’s enemy reflections in the light of Heidegger .

 

In its latest Afghan report, the first under the Trump administration, the Defence Department states:

“India is providing significant training opportunities for Afghan officers and enlisted personnel. Approximately 130 Afghans travel to India each year to attend various military academy and commissioning programs,” it said in the six- monthly report to the US Congress.
“India is Afghanistan’s most reliable regional partner and the largest contributor of development assistance in the region, including civil development projects such as the Afghanistan-India Friendship Dam and the Afghan parliament building,” the Pentagon added.

https://www.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/Enhancing-Security-and-Stability-in-Afghanistan-June-2017.pdf

[February 2 2012 The Taliban are not Islam. The Taliban are Islamabad: Nato report leaked ]


Pakistan’s foreign minister said February 2 that the country would be willing to push the Taliban and their allies to make peace if asked to do so by the Afghan government, an action seen as key to the reconciliation process.

Pakistan’s role is vital because it has strong historical ties with the militant group, which many believe continue to this day, and insurgent leaders are thought to be based in the country. But there are also limits to what Islamabad can accomplish since the Taliban have been notoriously difficult to control and are wary of Pakistani influence.
[February 1]The semi-comforting belief that only “rogue elements” in the ISI have close connections to the Taliban never had much basis in fact and it has less so now. A senior al-Qaeda commander in Kunar province (in the wild north-east of the country) says: “Pakistan knows everything. They control everything. I can’t [expletive] on a tree in Kunar without them watching. The Taliban are not Islam. The Taliban are Islamabad.” BBC

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Next Year, in Mosul

 

161022-a-mf745-019

Q-West airbase

Additional forces from the 82nd Airborne Division will head to the Qayyarah Airfield West, or “Q-West” as the soldiers call it, the official said. U.S. forces have occupied the former Iraqi military base since the summer. Currently, Apache gunships and GPS-guided rocket systems called HIMARS are based there roughly 40 miles south of Mosul to support the ongoing battle for Iraq’s second largest city.

In Hamam al-Alil, 15 miles south of Mosul, a U.S. Army artillery battery has also been supporting the Iraqi-led operation into West Mosul in recent months.

[August 24 2016 Next Year, in Mosul ]

image

Lt. Gen. Townsend

August 22, 2016 @ 12:14 pm WASHINGTON (AP) — The top U.S. commander for the fight against the Islamic State group said August 21 that he is skeptical of any additional military cooperation with Russia in Syria. And he said he believes he can get the mission done without it, outlining new plans to accelerate the pace and scope of the U.S.-led coalition operations to retake the key Islamic State-held cities of Raqqa and Mosul within the next year.

Iraqi officials have suggested they plan to begin the effort to retake Mosul later this fall, and the fight for Raqqa could also start within that timeline. Now they’re just a couple of kilometers away from the town center and about 60 kilometers from Mosul. By the end of the year, they say, they will liberate Iraq’s second-largest metropolitan area seized by ISIS two years ago. Townsend’s vow to have both retaken in the next year only underscores how difficult U.S. commanders believe it will be to drive Islamic State insurgents from those larger, heavily populated strongholds. Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina,

[April 12 Nothing more from U.S. for Mosul, no,no,no
sunni-shia-kurd_state_crop

United States will not send additional troops and equipment to help the Iraqi Security Forces retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State without Iraq first addressing sectarian divisions that could threaten to divide the country into Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite territories. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, speaking to press April 11 during a visit to the Goa state in India. Lt. Gen. Sean MacFarland, the commander of the international operation against Islamic State, has said that Iraqi generals do not think they will be able to recapture Mosul until the end of 2016 or early 2017 at the earliest.

Too dum hot

 

[March 16 Equipment moving from Camp Taji in Baghdad towards Mosul ]

taji20camp_zpsqbfiuidz

Iraqi security forces ride in vehicles travelling to Mosul to fight against militants of Islamic State at an Iraqi army base in Camp Taji in Baghdad, February 21, 2016.

 

[March 6 Northern Iraq is littered with U.S. special operation units ]

March 5
An advanced U.S. Army reconnaissance aircraft crash-landed in a field outside of Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan on morning of March 4.

. Pictures posted to social media show the downed aircraft surrounded by what appears to be well-armed special operations forces. It is outfitted with the Enhanced Medium Altitude Reconnaissance and Surveillance System, or EMARSS.

The Army flies a small fleet of fixed-wing aircraft that is broken down into three categories: Special Electronic Mission Aircraft, or SEMA, transport aircraft and mission support aircraft. EMARSS-equipped aircraft fall under SEMA.

The EMARSS system consists of a King Air 350ER aircraft equipped with an electro-optic/infra-red (EO/IR) sensor, communications intelligence collection system, an aerial precision geolocation system, line-of-site tactical and beyond line-of-site communications suites, two Distributed Common Ground System-Army (DCGS-A) workstations and a self-protection suite.

It is unclear what the EMARSS-equipped aircraft was doing before the crash. However, northern Iraq is littered with U.S. special operation units, including the Expeditionary Targeting Force, an elite commando unit dispatched to the region to capture and kill Islamic State fighters. While unable to stay in the air as long as drones, manned surveillance aircraft like the MC-12 are integral for missions, such as special operations raids, that require rapid intelligence gathering.

March 1 IS in Iraq “drawing to a close”? ]

 

 U.S.-led coalition instructors monitor as they train Iraqi soldiers from the army's 72nd infantry brigade while participating in a joint live ammunition exercise at Besmaya military base in south of Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 27, 2016.


U.S.-led coalition instructors monitor as they train Iraqi soldiers from the army’s 72nd infantry brigade while participating in a joint live ammunition exercise at Besmaya military base in south of Baghdad, Iraq, Jan. 27, 2016.

 

The Islamic State group’s existence in Iraq looks to be drawing to a close as Pentagon officials confirmed February 29 that U.S.-led coalition forces had commenced operations aimed at driving the terror organization out of its last remaining stronghold in Mosul.
CHRISTOPHER HARRESS @CHARRESS ON 03/01/16

Around 200 U.S. Delta Force troops, in coordination with the Iraqi military, are said to be conducting raids, seizing territory and plotting to rescue hostages and prisoners.
The CIA and other intelligence agencies still use contractors like the former Blackwater or $2.2 billion firm DynCorp and other for paramilitary services. That number of military contractors represents just a fraction of the contractors employed by the U.S. in Iraq. In addition to the 2,028 Pentagon contractors, another 5,800 are employed by other agencies, including the State Department. Many of the contractors in Iraq and neighboring countries are from well known warzone companies like KBR and Fluor Corporation,

Even though Mosul is the final stronghold, the Islamic terror group continues to have small pockets of its fighters dotted across the country, but will no longer have a main base of operations if U.S Special Forces are successful in their current operations. IS currently occupies the city of Fallujah in Anbar province, only 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Baghdad. However, the group is under siege by local Sunni tribesmen who enlisted to help push the group out of the city. United States Defense Department statistics released earlier this month indicate that the number of IS militants in Iraq and Syria had fallen to between 19,000 and 25,000, down from earlier estimates of up to more than 30,000 fighters. It is suspected that IS, commanders especially, are seeking safety in Libya.

[June 10 2015 Extreme summer heat makes retaking Mosul before the fall unlikely ]

[April 16]


IRAQ AND SYRIA: ISIL’S REDUCED OPERATING AREAS AS OF APRIL 2015

Hot in Mosul

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Near Bayji, nine airstrikes struck two large and six smaller tactical units, destroyed two ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL heavy machine gun. A U.S. military official said recently the extreme summer heat after Ramadan made any effort to retake Mosul before the fall unlikely.

[April 4 Assault on Tikrit without U.S. planning participation, officials admit]

A vehicle belonging to Shi’ite militia fighters pulls the body of an Islamic State fighter, who was killed during clashes with Iraqi forces, in Tikrit April 1, 2015.

A vehicle belonging to Shi’ite militia fighters pulls the body of an Islamic State fighter, who was killed during clashes with Iraqi forces, in Tikrit April 1, 2015.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi ordered the arrest of looters and for the Shi’ite paramilitaries to withdraw to positions outside of Tikrit Saturday after meeting with officials from Salahuddin province. Government officials have reportedly blamed the looting and violence on local Sunni tribal fighters.
The U.S. military has publicly earmarked Mosul as the next target of the offensive against Islamic State in Iraq. Pentagon officials in February predicted the assault would begin by April or May – a disclosure that should not have been made, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter later said.
Sunni lawmakers who visited Tikrit complained that events have spun out of control since the security forces and militias retook the city. Parliamentarian Mutashar al-Samarrai credited the government with orchestrating a smooth entrance into Tikrit. But he said that some Shi’ite paramilitary factions had exploited the situation. “I believe this happened on purpose to disrupt the government’s achievement in Tikrit,” Samarrai said. “This is a struggle between the (paramilitaries) and the government for control.” The assault on Tikrit was launched without any planning participation by Washington, U.S. officials have admitted.

[March 30 Tikrit: U.S. denies airstrikes March 22-24]

US soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, ride on a military vehicle as they leave their base on a mission in Tikrit, 180 Kilometers north of Iraqi capital Baghdad, 30 December 2003.

US soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 22nd Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division, ride on a military vehicle as they leave their base on a mission in Tikrit, 180 Kilometers north of Iraqi capital Baghdad, 30 December 2003.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says a U.S. drone strike killed two of its advisers near the Iraqi city of Tikrit, where a major offensive is underway against the Islamic State group, but the U.S. said March 30 its coalition conducted no airstrikes in the area during the time of the incident.

[March 27 Washington demanded the withdrawal of Shi’ite militias]
Iraqi special forces advanced on central Tikrit on March 26 as U.S.-led coalition planes joined the largest offensive yet against Islamic State militants holding out in Saddam Hussein’s home city. Coalition jets launched their first air strikes against Islamic State targets in Tikrit on March 25, coming off the sidelines to aid Iraqi forces against the Sunni Islamist militants.
Underlying the complex web of loyalties behind the conflict, a senior U.S. general said Washington had demanded the withdrawal of Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias fighting alongside Iraq’s government before agreeing to take part.

List of former U.S bases near Tikrit 2093 -2006
Camp Buffalo (Tikrit)
Camp Cougar (Tikrit)
Camp Ironhorse / FOB Danger (Tikrit)
Camp Raider / FOB Dagger (Tikrit)
FOB Omaha Tikrit
FOB Packhorse Tikrit
OB Remagen Tikrit Tikrit South Air Base
COB Speicher, located near Tikrit, Iraq

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F-15E downs Shaheed-129 UAV

b47e435f-76e4-4cca-95c5-74d6824b7714_w1023_r1_s

Iranian-made drone shot down

 

The Shaheed-129 drone was armed and displayed hostile intent when it was intercepted by an F-15E Strike Eagle around 12:30 a.m. local time near the Syrian city of Tanf, according to U.S. Central Command. It was observed heading toward coalition forces, who were outside the outpost, officials said.   Squadrons of F-15E Strike Eagles are routinely deployed to al Udeid Base in Qatar.

 

[June 30 2016 Al Bukimal drive withdraws with Western special forces ]

thalab

Thalab patrol vehicle near al-Tanf

 

The U.S.-backed New Syrian Army said it was forced to withdraw its forces to its base at Tanf near the Jordanian border after launching what appears to have been a poorly conceived offensive aimed at capturing the strategically important eastern Syrian town of Abu Kamal on the Syrian-Iraqi border.

 

[June 29 2016]

An operation aiming to capture the eastern Syrian town of Al-Bukamal, has began on June 28, adding to the pressure facing Islamic State as it faces a separate, U.S.-backed offensive in northern Syria aimed at driving it away from the Turkish border.

Syrian rebel sources say the rebel force has received military training in U.S.-run camps in Jordan, but most of their training was now being conducted in a main base at al-Tanf, a Syrian town southwest of Al-Bukamal at the border with Iraq.

The New Syria Army’s base in al-Tanf was hit twice earlier this month by Russian air strikes, even after the U.S. military used emergency channels to ask Moscow to stop after the first strike, U.S. officials say.

The rebel commander and the Observatory said the rebels had also captured an air base from Islamic State militants near Al-Bukamal. Heavy clashes were underway, with militants dug in at the Hamadan air base, 5 km (3 miles) northwest of Al-Bukamal.

“The clashes are inside the (town) and matters are not yet settled,” said the rebel commander of the Asala wa-al-Tanmiya Front, one of the Marin elements of the New Syria Army. The rebel forces entered the town at dawn, he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the offensive was being mounted with backing of Western special forces and U.S.-led air strikes. A DIFFERENT THALAB PATROL VEHICLE NEAR AL-TANF BORDER CROSSING, SYRIA IN EARLY MARCH. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT THE VEHICLE IS OPERATED BY FOREIGN SPECIAL FORCES.

Tthe Jordanian Thalab Long Range Patrol Vehicle has been spotted with the New Syrian Army on two separate occasions. The Thalab LRPV is used by Jordanian Special Forces and is designed for long multi-day patrols in harsh terrain. A Thalab is rather expensive compared to the cheap Toyota Hilux pick-ups supplied to the New Syrian Army by the US. It’s possible that foreign special forces are operating this vehicle, the lack of footage of the Thalab in official New Syrian Army videos further supports this theory.

[January 16 2014 U.S. Special Forces to select moderate Syrian recruits for six-to-eight week training.
American military forces, particularly Special Forces, have decades of experience screening foreign military forces for training, Pentagon officials said.But identifying rebel fighters who don’t have ties to Jabhat al-Nusra, the main al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, is extremely difficult for a Pentagon with limited resources on the ground. “We also know the Syrian opposition better now than we did two years ago through the programs we’ve had providing non-lethal assistance,” said Cmdr. Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokesperson. The Pentagon, the State Department and other nations are using a number of sources to screen moderate Syrian recruits, and it will be an ongoing process,
A training program could begin as early as March in the three countries that have agreed to host the training: Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. At least four training sites in those countries are being identified and the plan is to split the approximately 400 U.S. trainers and their accompanying support forces evenly across those sites for what is expected to be a six- to eight-week training cycle

8 March 2013 : The planning cell, which was housed at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre in the north of the capital, Amman is now in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region, and has since been expanded to co-ordinate a more ambitious training programme, with recent US reports saying it was being led by the CIA. A Jordanian source familiar with the training operations said: “It’s the Americans, Brits and French with some of the Syrian generals who defected. But we’re not talking about a huge operation.”

06/17/2014: Syrian rebels who would later join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.

[June 23 2012 No excuse to do nothing about Syria]

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari

Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari

No country is immune from this spillover because of the composition of the societies, the extensions, the connections, the sectarian, ethnic dimensions,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari said June 23 in Baghdad. “This is not an excuse to do nothing about Syria, no. But there will be an impact.”

Hoshyar Zebari is the current Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq. A Kurd originally from Aqrah, a city in Iraqi Kurdistan, Zebari holds a masters degree in sociology from the University of Essex, England and studied political science in Jordan.

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Warning after Bush F/A-18E shoots down Syrian SU-22 near Raqqa

tabqa-dam

 

Russia announces it will target any plane from the US-led coalition flying west of the Euphrates river in Syria after the US military shot down a Syrian air force SU-22.   The U.S.-led coalition conducts missions in areas west of the Euphrates River near Manbij and Al Bab, two towns retaken from ISIS by U.S.-backed rebel forces.   

 

 

[June 18

575968-bigthumbnail

SU-22

US Central Command said the SU-22 dropped bombs near the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who are being supported by the US-led coalition as they advance on the terrorist stronghold of Raqqa.  “In accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defence of Coalition partnered forces, it was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet,” a statement said.

 

[March 17 1000 more U.S. to Syria

usrangers2014 Rangers training

The Pentagon has considered increasing the U.S. military presence in Syria by up to 1,000 troops as the international battle to oust the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, from their de facto capital of Raqqa heats up.

The U.S. has already deployed about 500 U.S. Special Operations forces, 250 Rangers and 200 Marines to Syria.

.[March 15 U.S. Rangers near Raqqa]

The U.S. is looking for options to ease the tensions with Turkey over the plan to use U.S.-backed Syrian Kurds in the fight to oust Islamic State fighters from Raqqa but has offered no details on what those options could be.

The U.S. is considering arming the Syrian Kurdish forces, which the Pentagon considers the most effective fighters against IS militants in northern and eastern Syria. But Turkey, a key NATO ally, considers the Syrian force, known as the YPG, a terrorist organization. Turkey wants to work with other Syrian opposition fighters known as the Free Syrian Army to liberate Raqqa.

Paentagon leaders sent a new plan to defeat IS to the White House late last month that included a variety of options for the ongoing fight in Iraq and Syria.

95060669_syria_turkey_kurds_v15_624map_9_3_2017

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters walk with their weapons during an offensive against Islamic State militants in northern Raqqa province

SDF Forces in Rakkah February 2017

1-us-troops-in-syria

3rd Ranger Battalion March 8

MARCH 6, a separate force of elite US army Rangers was deployed near a town north-west of Raqqa in heavily armoured vehicles, in an attempt to end clashes between SDF fighters and a Turkish-backed rebel force.   http://bigstory.ap.org/article/former-trump-security-adviser-flynn-admits-turkey-lobbying

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-09/turkey-kurd-tension-in-syria-war-a-train-wreck-mccain-warns

“Just days ago, fighting broke out between the Manbij Military Council (SDF), who had Green Berets embedded within their ranks, and Turkish-backed forces in the Manbij area. The movement of more US troops in the area will signify to our allies that they have our support, and show the Turkish forces and pro-Assad fighters that they’re messing with the wrong dudes.”

]February 16 Trump not insisting on Kurds in Raqqah Assault]

U. S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance dominated by the Kurdish YPG, has caused tensions with NATO ally Turkey, which views the Kurdish militia as an extension of militants fighting on its own soil.

“If we want the Raqqa operation to be successful, then it should be carried out with Arab forces in the region and not the YPG,” Turkish Defense Minister Fikri Isik told reporters in Brussels.

“The new U.S. administration has a different approach to the issue. They are not insisting anymore that the operation should definitely be carried out with the YPG. They haven’t yet made up their minds,” he said in comments broadcast live.

The SDF alliance, which includes Arab and other groups in Syria’s north as well as the YPG, has taken territory along the Syria-Turkey border as they push back Islamic State.

With air strikes and special ground forces from the U.S.-led coalition, the SDF is in the middle of a multi-phased operation to encircle Raqqa, Islamic State’s base of operations in Syria.

A key decision for the Trump administration will be whether to provide weapons to the YPG despite Turkish objections. The U.S. says weapons provided to the SDF are so far limited to its Arab elements.

“We are working with the U.S. on the withdrawal of the YPG from Manbij by the time the al-Bab operation is completed,” Isik said, referring to a town currently under SDF control.

hqdefault

Mahmud al-Isawi, a Syrian-based ISIL leader and facilitator, was struck and killed by a Coalition precision airstrike Dec. 31, 2016, in Raqqah, Syria.   CJTF-OIR does not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.  Coalition nations which have conducted strikes in Syria include Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Denmark, France, Jordan, the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

[July 3 2015 U.S. kills IS leader in airstrike in  al-Hasakah area of Syria]

Tariq Bin al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-Awni al-Harzi, a senior Islamic State leader, in Syria was killed June 16 in Shaddadi, Syria. He was the subject of a $3 million reward offered by the U.S. State Department.
The military reported conducting two airstrikes in the al-Hasakah area of Syria, which includes the town of al-Shaddadi, on June 16. It said at the time that those strikes hit an Islamic State tactical unit, two antenna arrays and a vehicle, but made no mention of enemy casualties.
Al-Harzi’s death came one day after that of his brother, Ali Awni al-Harzi, a key suspect in the 2012 Benghazi U.S. Consulate attack and also a member of IS. He was killed June 15 in a U.S. drone strike in Mosul, Iraq.

June 11 2011 Syria: Rifaat Assad Redux?]

Rifaat Assad

Assad Dynasty

Rifaat Assad

Rifaat Assad

In 1983, Hafez’ younger brother Rifaat, who drew a significant amount of support from the military, attempted a coup against Hafez Assad
In 1992 he returned to Syria following the death of his mother. However, in 1998, as Bashar Assad was being groomed for the presidency, Rifaat was denied the title of vice-president and left the country one again.

For years he has been deemed a potential threat to Bashar’s inheritance of his father’s regime, but when Hafez Assad died in June 2000, Rifaat refrained from taking any major steps to prevent Bashar from assuming power.
Rifaat is considered close, by some observers, to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Abdullah is married to a sister of Rifaat’s wife, and Rifaat has on occasions—even after his public estrangement from the rulers in Syria—been invited to Saudi Arabia, with pictures of him and the royal family displayed in the state-controlled press.
After the Iraq war, there were press reports that he had started talks with US government representatives on helping to form a coalition with other anti-Assad groups to provide an alternative Syrian leadership, on the model of the Iraqi National Congress. Rifaat has held a meeting with the former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Yossef Bodansky, the director of the US Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, has stated that Rifaat enjoys support from both America and Saudi Arabia; he has been featured in the Saudi press as visiting the royal family in 2007. The Bashar regime remains wary of his intentions and carefully monitors his activities.

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Zintan frees Saif al-Islam

14062017-seif-al-islam-afp-m_0

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi during an interrogation procedure on 22 June, 2014.   Saif, whose whereabouts are not known, was last seen by an independent international observer in June 2014.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said:

“I call on Libya and all other States, if in a position to do so, to immediately arrest and surrender Mr Gaddafi to the ICC.”

 

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/saif-al-islam-gaddafi-freed-prison-zintan-170610190700610.html

[June 11]

The Abu Bakr al-Sadiq Brigade, a militia of former rebels that controls the town of Zintan in western Libya, said Saif al-Islam was freed on June 9 “the 14th day of the month of Ramadan”, under an amnesty law promulgated by the parliament based in the east.   “We understand that a couple of days ago, a deputy justice minister of the government affiliated to the Tobruk-based parliament visited Saif al-Islam Gaddafi in the jail in Zintan and demanded his immediate release,” said Abdelwahed.   HoR, which does not recognise the other two governments’ leadership, is backed by renegade General Khalifa Haftar.

[ May 24  Manchester bomber connected to Saif al-Islam? ]

saif-now

Saif al-Islam

Salman Abedi, 22. The Manchester bomber’s parents were Libyan refugees who returned in 2011 following Gaddafi’s overthrow, leaving only Salman and his older brother Ismail behind.   “He went to Libya three weeks ago and came back recently, like days ago.”   A group of Gaddafi dissidents, who were members of the outlawed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), lived within close proximity to Abedi in Whalley Range.  The LIFG was effectively defeated on its home turf , Eastern Libya, by 1998. Its cadres fled first to Sudan and Afghanistan and Iraq where hundreds joined al-Qaida. It was officially disbanded in 2010.   At its peak the group had 1,000 active members, training camps in Afghanistan and a network of supporters and fundraisers in Libya, the Middle East and Europe.   In 2007, imprisoned LIFG leaders began a series of two-year talks with Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the son of Muammar Qaddafi. These discussions were a result of an initiative led by Saif al-Islam Qaddafi.

In July 2016, one of Saif’s lawyers Karim Khan claimed that his client had been freed on 12 April of that year and transferred to a secret location after the government quashed his sentence, and that he would now petition the ICC to drop all charges against him. The claim hasn’t been independently verified. A Zintan military source denied that he had been released.

[April 30 2016 Gaddafi family in Oman]

Aisha Gaddafi moved to South Africa?

Aisha Gaddafi moved to South Africa?

Aisha Gaddafi on Google +
https://plus.google.com/110066569556948954439

[March 28 2013]
Oman has granted asylum to some members of Muammar Gaddafi’s family, two of whom are wanted by Interpol, an Omani official said on Monday, but Libya said it was too early to talk about any possible extradition requests.

“Gaddafi’s wife, two sons and a daughter, as well as their children have been in Oman since October last year.”

“We have already accepted their request for asylum provided they don’t engage in political activities,” the official added.

The Omani official said that apart from Gaddafi’s widow Safia, his daughter Aisha and sons Mohammed and Hannibal were among those granted asylum.

Aisha and Hannibal are wanted by Interpol following a request from the Libyan authorities, but there is no international warrant for Mohammed or Safia.

Libyan foreign minister Mohamed Abdelaziz confirmed in Qatar that some members of Gaddafi’s family have moved from Algeria to Oman, saying an official announcement by the three countries was due to be issued later.

[March 22]
Algerians say Aisha and the other Gaddafi children living there have left. In view of the U.S. base for drones abuilding,it is unlikely they are in Niger as sometimes thought. Maybe South Africa?

Family members of the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed on October 20 near his hometown of Sirte, soon intend to move to South Africa, Algeria’s Al-Shuruk newspaper reported last year, including his daughter Aisha and sons Muhammad and Hannibal who fled to Algeria, plan to travel to South Africa. Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, and Namibia would be the usual suspects. Air over water distance to Namibia is something over 3622 nautical miles, within the range of private jets.

A heavily guarded ‘gilded cage’ had been made available to house Aisha, her brothers, their wives and children and some servants just outside Algiers.

[December 11, 2012]
Aisha Gaddafi, the lawyer and most prominent member of the clan, had moved with her brother Hannibal and half-brother Mohammad to an African country after Mourad Medelci, the Algerian foreign minister, visited Tripoli earlier this year and promised to exercise tight control over the family.
Because of the UN flight ban on the Gaddafi inner circle, the siblings could most readily gain access to Niger, the impoverished Saharan state where a third brother, Saadi, lives on the presidential compound.
The family recently hired Tunisian lawyer Bashir al-Said to represent their campaign for an International Criminal Court investigation into Col Gaddafi’s death.
But the Algerians disrupted Miss Gaddafi’s discussions with her legal team, fearing she is engaged in political activities, something they have banned.
A deal between the Algerians and Libyan officials allowed Gaddafi’s widow to return to Libya as a free woman.
Safia, the former nurse who became Gaddafi’s second wife and mother of all but one of this children, was not a central player in the regime. The new Libyan government had no objection to her return to her hometown of Baida.
A family fixer with access to its financial funds visited Niger to arrange a reunion of the Gaddafi children in recent weeks.

[October 21]

Abdel Fattah Younes, Mohammed Khamis and Nasser Mahroum

Abdel Fattah Younes, Mohammed Khamis and Nasser Mahroum

Khamis Gaddafi’s body was found after a day of fighting between a pro-Gaddafi garrison and militias allied to the Libyan government.

Khamis never married, and was regarded as on the side of his older brother Moatasen, forming the “muscle” of the Gaddafi family, in contrast to Saif Al Islam, now in jail in Libya on war crimes charges, who until last year’s revolution portrayed himself as a political reformer.

There were conflicting reports about Khamis’ whereabouts, reportedly that he fled to Niger. Unlike his older brother Seif Al-Islam, Khamis is not wanted for crimes against humanity by the International Constitutional Court based in The Hague, Netherlands.

The presence of two such senior figures from the old order appears to confirm assertions by Libyan officials that Bani Walid had become a safe haven for former Gaddafi officials. “A lot of people who supported Gaddafi are hiding now in Bani Walid, we have a list of names,” said Libyan army spokesman Mohammed El Gandus.

The rest of Muammar Gaddafi’s clan is scattered. Wife Safiya is in Algeria, with eldest son Muhammad, fifth son Hannibal and their only daughter by birth, Aisha. Saadi Gaddafi has sought refuge in Niger, which refused bids to extradite him, while Saif is in custody. The whereabouts of the Colonel’s adopted daughter, Hana, is unknown.

[July 30 2011]”He [Younes]was a senior figure, and they’ve lost both his military expertise and his leadership, and again, it’s very unclear who was at fault here. We’ve seen reports that this was an internal matter,” said State Department’s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner.” voa

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