Saturday, 2 May 2015

At least save the Nepalese

Kafranbel Syrian Revolution
Syria Rebels Idlib

Here are all of the problems with the reeling Syrian army

A plunge in Syrian Army manpower

Declining support for the government

Government infighting 

The regime is almost broke

Security is failing in Damascus

The rebels have consolidated

REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi - An Islamic Ahrar al-Sham fighter picks flowers while resting on the frontline of Idlib city in northern Syria, where they announced a battle to liberate the city from forces loyal to Syria's president Bashar Al-Assad March 21, 2015. Picture taken March 21, 2015.

Are Syrian Islamists moving to

counterbalance Al-Qaeda? Will it last?
“We eagerly want to talk with the West and to show them what we stand for, but our total allegiance is to the revolution and toppling the regime. If the West doesn’t want to help us with this and receive our requests [for meetings], we’ll turn to others who do.”

A man buys courgette from a stall in Idlib, Syria (1 April 2015)

Syria: How a new rebel unity is

making headway against the regime
Lina Sinjab has done some of the better reporting for the BBC on Syria.

'There were fears that the rebels would seek to implement a strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, but instead they established civil councils to oversee law and order, and public services.
An audio message purportedly by al-Nusra's leader, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, declared that the Idlib would be governed according to Sharia, but Mr Hamidi believes its application will be limited.
"To my knowledge, Saudi Arabia and Qatar put pressure on Julani to ensure al-Nusra's approach would be a moderate one," he says.
Hadi al Abdalla, a citizen journalist who reported on the battle for Idlib from the frontline, says Western media coverage has mistakenly focused on the presence of al-Nusra.
"For the first time all the groups here are united and they insist that they want civil rule rather than Sharia rule," he explains.'

Inside Aleppo: Syrian activists reveal kidnap and torture at hands of al-Nusra extremists

Image result for Inside Aleppo: Syrian activists reveal kidnap and torture at hands of al-Nusra extremists

"The torture inflicted on him was not by the regime. It was by rebels supposedly on his side – another grim example of how Syria’s revolution is now consuming its own children."
What a load of nonsense. After last week's passing on of a Pentagon press release* about the "Khorosan" group the US has invented to justify bombing Islamist rebels against Assad, Kim Sengupta follows up with this crap. Never mind that the Assad has murdered tens of thousands of children to stop the revolution, far more important in denigrating that revolution is that an activist was arrested by Jabhat al-Nusra, tortured, released with a warning, and now plans to go back to Aleppo. And Sengupta uses his personal contact with James Foley to mix in executions by ISIS with all of this. A disgrace. It is obviously worrying when Jabhat al-Nusra does things like this, though there is no sign in this report that such incidents might become rarer now that Nusra is co-operating with other groups in Northern Syria; that's because the report is promoting a pro-Assad worldview - all the rebels are mad jihadis, there is no revolution - posing as concern.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Shared battlefield goals trump

"Islamists have signaled that they are no longer determined to fight against Western-backed groups.
“Maybe Nusra fought ... Hazzm at the start, because they said they were no good. Now they have a plan to fight only the regime,” Mazin Qusum, commander of the Siham Al-Haqq brigade, an Islamist unit fighting alongside the Army of Fatah, told Reuters in the Turkish border town of Reyhanli.

In a sign of cooperation, an arm of the Western-backed opposition government in exile, the Syrian National Coalition, has been given the responsibility for health and education in areas the rebels have recently captured.

Sitting in Istanbul with Division 13 and Fursan al Haq commanders, a representative of Ahrar al-Sham’s political office, Abu Mohammed, stressed unity.
Asked whether Ahrar al-Sham would impose Sharia law in areas it controls - usually the central mission of militants - he said: “We and the others, when we liberate all of Syria, we will meet and determine what kind of law there will be.”
Abu Hamoud, a commander from Division 13, said his group coordinated with Nusra Front, which the United States considers a terrorist organization, but this does not mean it is aligned to it.
“It is completely stable in Idlib province, there will be no fighting between the brigades,” said Abu Hamoud.
Hossam Abu Bakr, spokesman for Ahrar al-Sham, said the group would defend Division 13 if Nusra attacked it without the right to do so. He rejected any suggestion that the alliance was extremist.
“Our first goal is the fall of the criminal regime and then to build a country which... preserves our identity far from extremism,” he said via Skype."

U.S. allies in Middle East ramping

"Saudi Arabia and Turkey, with an assist from Qatar, recently ended a long estrangement to address their shared concern over the lagging fight against Assad.
Regional officials insist that the aid, including U.S.-made TOW missiles, is not going to the Islamists. Instead, they said, it is enabling moderates to enhance their stature among opposition fighters after years of being outgunned and out-financed by more militant groups.
The new approach could undermine three years of U.S. Syria policy focused on securing a negotiated settlement to the war by putting enough pressure on Assad that he feels compelled to make compromises, but not enough to score an outright opposition victory that might result in chaos and cause Syria to collapse even further.
Many now argue, however, that the United States needs to take more risks in arming the rebels if it wants to stay relevant.
“The Turks, the Saudis and the Qataris are trying to shake it up,” said Robert Ford, a former U.S. ambassador to Syria. “If you don’t want them to increase arms shipments, what is your solution? The answer can’t be ‘We’re going to bomb Daesh.’ ” "

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Michael Young

The beginning of the end in Syria

"What are the Iranians thinking? They have made Assad’s political survival a strategic priority, but the incompetence and brutality of his regime – to which Iran has amply contributed – have ensured the task is unachievable. Even with Iranian and Russian help Assad is losing ground rapidly. Partly that’s because the life is gone from his armed forces, which have been successful only in their campaign to slaughter tens of thousands of civilians.

Only fear of what might come after Assad has made countries reluctant to help accelerate the Syrian president’s exit. To quote the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, who was speaking last month to the Council on Foreign Relations, “The last thing we want to do is to allow [Islamic extremists] to march into Damascus.” That attitude has long prevailed in Washington, but only now are the Americans realizing that their hesitancy to see Assad pushed out in 2011 only created conditions that made a worse outcome probable.

Assad may hold out for a time. But he has nothing on which to rebuild his authority. His community is in disarray; his army and intelligence services are as well. Iran, Hezbollah and Russia are filling the void, but with increasingly limited effectiveness and no hope of amelioration. Bashar Assad’s regime is on life support. Someone needs to pull the plug, preferably Assad’s friends, while a negotiated transition in Syria is still vaguely possible."
Government forces on partrol in Homs. (AFP/Joseph Eid)

Regime fights own militia in Homs

"Unprecedented fighting erupted between regime troops and National Defense Force members in an Alawite quarter of central Homs, according to press reports and activist statements.
 member of the activist Homs Media Center, who claimed Wednesday that the strife followed increased insubordination among pro-regime supporters as the corpses of their colleagues deployed to fighting in Idlib have been returned to Homs.
He added that NDF members in Homs have not been paid their salaries in recent months, and have resorted to violence to extort money from local residents.
“As soon as the doors are blown off the shops are robbed, at the same moment as people are rushing [to the scene] to save the victims and pull out bodies.” "

Amnesty International UK and FREE-Syria invite you to:

With guest speaker, Rafif Jouejati - Director, Foundation to Restore Equality and Education in Syria (FREE-Syria).
A reception will follow from 8.30pm.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Syrian oppostion advance to central Aleppo

Syrian oppostion advance to central Aleppo
'The opposition forces are advancing towards central Aleppo and shelling regime forces, he added.
Abu Yasir said that the operation would continue until Aleppo was completely controlled by the opposition.
"Our spirits were raised after opposition forces seized control of Idlib and Jisr al-Shughur cities." ' 
Embedded image permalink

Assad's regime is in huge trouble
"The regime's eastern holdings are in danger of being totally cut off, a development that would give the rebels a foothold near the heart of Assad's remaining territory.

Western actors, including the US, will have to calculate how a regime defeat will affect the war against ISIS, and decide whether regime collapse is even desirable.
In any case, a break in a long and violent stalemate could be underway. “A military collapse on the regime side is not impossible,” one unnamed diplomat told The Post."
Dr. Zaher Sahloul

Oak Lawn doctor a voice for victims in Syria
"People forget that this all began in 2013 when the Syrian people launched a revolution to oust Assad on social media. The vast majority of the people there have the same values as the people here in America. They want the same things. They want to operate businesses, they want to feel safe in their homes, they want freedom.
What's going on there amounts to a genocide. It's important that people who can do something do what they can to stop it.
It's psychological warfare of a sort. After one such attack, which killed three people, 50 percent of the people who lived in the area moved. That's the goal.
We all need to help them. All of the people in the world. Humanitarian aid is no longer enough. That's the message we need people to hear."

After the attack of Assad death barrels on Aleppo, Syria

Answer loud and clear: Planet Syria calling

' “Should I spread my family out through the house so if a barrel bomb hits we won’t all die together or should we all stay together in the same room in order to die together? Should I sleep in the basement in case a barrel bomb hits, or on the top floor so I don’t suffocate if the barrel bomb turns out to contain poison gas?”
We all, inside and outside Syria, have a moral and ethical responsibility to put pressure on all parties to bring a halt to the use of barrel bombs and other indiscriminate weapons, to work to find a just political solution, and to ensure that those living out on Planet Syria sense that we can hear their cry and stand with them.'

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Image for the news result

Rebels fight IS-linked group near Israeli-occupied Golan

'Essam al-Rayes, spokesperson for the Southern Front coalition which is fighting Jaish al-Islam, said the IS-linked group had a presence in and around the town of Qahtaniya.
Speaking by phone from Jordan, Rayes said tensions among opposition fighters in the town rose after it was suspected that Jaish al-Jihad had pledged allegiance to IS.
The battles erupted on Monday after Jaish al-Jihad ambushed a Southern Front convoy and killed six rebels, Rayes added.
"Al-Nusra Front then joined the fight, because Daesh is our common enemy," Rayes said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.'
I just listened to an RT report that started off grouping al-Nusra and ISIS together, one of the underlying lies of their pro-Assad propaganda.

The "Left's" Crime Against Humanity

Also has details on the response of Patrick Cockburn, Robert Fisk, Tariq Ali and others.
"Noam Chomsky was on Democracy Now for 9/11 and he had his own way of obfuscating the very big gap between weapons use and weapons possession. He argued that if Syria was agreeing to give up its chemical weapons in the wake of 1400+ chemical deaths, then Israel should be made to give up its stockpiles of chemical weapons too, because they are in the same region, adding "Of course, chemical weapons should be eliminated everywhere, but certainly in that region."

He talked a lot about how the "United States is a rogue state" that "doesn’t pay any attention to international law," but he leveled no such charges against the Syrian government or its Russian backers. The carnage caused by Assad, both with and without chemical weapons didn't get discussed. The main point of this Syria segment was that Noam Chomsky thought that instead of making threats against Syria in response to the chemical murders, Obama should go after Israel's chemical weapons.

It's not that everyone on the Left supports Assad, far from it, but there is so little opposition from those that don't, that the the casual observer should be forgiven for thinking the mainstream "Left" is in Assad's corner. Perhaps the "Left's" greatest crime against humanity has been how it has shared in the media coverup, failed even to publicize the daily horror a people are being subjected to by its government because that government claims opposition to Israel. The Left is suppose to be the champions of the people internationally, and instead it denied the people's struggle,  participated in the cover up, and gave comfort to the oppressor. 
Not only is another Left possible, another Left is necessary!"
Container of Syrian chemical weapons

Only a no-fly zone can curb chemical attacks in Syria

"The UK parliament voted not to take military action after Ghouta and not to support Barack Obama’s plan for strategic strikes to take down Assad’s command and control capability and destroy key sites and chemical weapons facilities. The British vote unfortunately made Obama recalibrate. It is interesting to hear Ed Miliband, who wants to be the UK’s next prime minister, claim responsibility for this inaction as a demonstration of his gravitas and statesmanship. I, for one, believe it is the greatest strategic military mistake this century. It kept Assad in power – with the result that thousands more are dead and injured – and fuelled the rise of Islamic State. Had the attacks gone ahead as the US wanted, the ensuing situation would certainly not be worse than it is today, and at the other end of the scale the Assad regime could have fallen and IS stopped in its tracks."
I don't believe the US did want to take action, like Cameron, Obama wanted to be seen to be trying to do something without actually getting involved, and risking that Islamists would replace Assad in Syria. I think there is another way to stop the chemical attacks, give the Free Syrian Army the anti-aircraft weapons they have been asking for since 2012. If there were a No Fly Zone over Idlib only, it might well save some lives, even getting there seems hedged with so many qualifications that like the train-and-equip programme for a US proxy army to take on ISIS, it may take so long to get off the ground that it may be over-taken by events. I haven't actually seen any evidence that Syrian and Iranian jets have been attacking ISIS in Syria; they have attacked civilians in ISIS-controlled areas, so I don't see that a country-wide no fly zone stopping such attacks would be a bad thing. On previous evidence, even if a no fly zone were established in Idlib, previous experience would suggest the régime would up its barrel bomb attacks in all other areas. I'm mindful that one of the stupid arguments against arming the FSA was that the Russians would just up their weapons supplies to Assad; I'm not saying an Idlib no fly zone would make things worse, just that it may not be the answer.
Two comments so far, one pretends that Syria is Iraq, the other repeats Seymour Hersh's genocide denialist claim that the rebels used chemical weapons on themselves to provoke US intervention.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Withdrawing Syria troops 'executed' prisoners: activists

They did this in Idlib too. It must be heartbreaking to lose your life on the eve of liberation. There will be more before Assad is gone, the way to minimise it is to shorten the time until that happens. Until then, he's still using chlorine gas on rebel positions in Idlib & Hama.* On a brighter note, the Free Syrian Army doesn't need to wait for the US training programme to materialise any more, "Assad strongholds in Latakia are now in the range of our fire & we no longer need USA training program."**

Noam Chomsky: Media, NATO, ISIS

From 5m53s, Chomsky continues his complaint that the US is not backing Assad, and continues to praise Patrick Cockburn as well-informed, perhaps unaware of the latter's open adoption of the War on Terror.*
"Take a look at US policy towards ISIS. There are several forces in the region, that are really combatting ISIS. The main state is Iran, Iran is combatting ISIS. Is the US supporting Iran against ISIS? No, Iran is an enemy. We have to undermine it. On the ground, the main force opposing ISIS, say around Kobanê in Syria, is the PKK, the Turkish-based guerrilla group that's on the US terrorist list. The US is not supporting them. Of course it's not supporting the Assad régime that's also opposed to ISIS.
What's the policy for opposing ISIS? One of the main commentators on the region, one who's been most informed and accurate, Patrick Cockburn, calls it an 'Alice in Wonderland' policy. It's a policy that's meaningless, it's pieced together; somehow the Obama administration is trying to oppose ISIS, while opposing the forces that are opposed to ISIS. So who are the worthy and unworthy victims? You try and pick them out, it's whoever the US is opposing at the moment."
Basically he's repeating the same rubbish he came out with in an RT interview in December**, though with the US coming to a deal with Iran it is even more off-base. Clearly the hundreds of thousands of victims of the Assad régime are not worthy victims for Noam Chomsky.
Mideat Syria

U.S.-backed rebels team with Islamists
"Supporters of the moderate rebels sought, however, to discredit claims from the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors fighting in Syria, that Nusra had led the fighting and that it and Islamist groups were responsible for the city’s capture.
Muhammad al Faisal, a reporter with the opposition Orient TV network, who is now in Jisr al Shughur, told McClatchy that many moderate rebel groups had taken part in the assault on the city, something the Syrian Observatory report did not note.
Gen. Ahmad Berri, the deputy chief of staff of the pro-Western Free Syrian Army, said half the fighters in the attack were affiliated with the FSA. He said moderate rebels destroyed nine government tanks. He also acknowledged that Nusra had deployed one suicide bomber and one car bomb in the fighting."

If I was being picky, I might question how much any rebels in Syria are backed by the US. Certainly some of their TOW anti-tank missiles were used, though when Idlib was captured, the TOWs used were ones captured by Nusra from their original recipients.

Still, better than the rubbish you get from the BBC*, including stupid lines like, "Before the rise of Islamic State, the Nusra Front was seen as the strongest and most militant rebel force."
* "Islamists capture Jisr al-Shughur" []

Read more here:

Supporters of the moderate rebels sought, however, to discredit claims from the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors fighting in Syria, that Nusra had led the fighting and that it and Islamist groups were responsible for the city’s capture.
Muhammad al Faisal, a reporter with the opposition Orient TV network, who is now in Jisr al Shughur, told McClatchy that many moderate rebel groups had taken part in the assault on the city, something the Syrian Observatory report did not note.
Gen. Ahmad Berri, the deputy chief of staff of the pro-Western Free Syrian Army, said half the fighters in the attack were affiliated with the FSA. He said moderate rebels destroyed nine government tanks. He also acknowledged that Nusra had deployed one suicide bomber and one car bomb in the fighting.

Read more here:

Read more here: