Published On: Thu, Feb 8th, 2018

US death throes in Syria: supporting ISIS with attack helicopters

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The data from Deir Ez Zor province that begins to form the big picture suggests there may be a big readjustment happening, with the Arabs coming to terms with a few realities about the prospect of Kurdish overlordship on behalf of the United States military, and with the Kurds realising that they are desperately overstreched. The Turkish operation in Afrin has had to have been a factor in the latter. In the first FBEL article on the subject, the author wrote:

Syrian Government forces are allowing the YPG to move through their areas – and, from a strategic point of view, it would be rather remiss of them if they did deny the Kurds the opportunity to empty out areas east of the Euphrates to suffer attrition through combat where the Turk had decided to fight (don’t forget, the SDF is not necessarily staffed by Syrians, despite what corporate-media might say). But then, the author understands that the Afrin canton is the place in Syria with the highest number of Kurds inhabiting it – and so it is crucial in terms of the prospective state of Rojava having a feasible population. It’s a trap that the YPG must walk into, and there is no help from the American friends who just don’t seem to be that interested in realising Kurdish frills on the Pentagon plan.

There is no surprise in these parts that the Turks have been so steady (which generally gets understood as a lack of momentum or skill). They have chosen the absolute weak point of the US occupation of Syria, and will no doubt keep scratching the surface to keep it bleeding out. FBEL previously cast doubt over the substance of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and the USA can’t really afford to have its commanding YPG element soak into the hills of Afrin. The Turks say that they have neutralised just over a thousand – in nearly three weeks. The Turks are barely lifting a finger, what with the manpower at their disposal, but for the YPG, the attrition will count. Thus, one cannot help but feel that there is going to be a necessary correction in US/Kurdish occupied Arabian-Syria, and what happened on Wednesday night/Thursday morning was very likely a US tantrum in reaction as it surely begins.

Thursday 8th February, the morning of; Syria-watchers were presented with corporate-media articles about US airstrikes that killed 100 pro-Government Syrian troops. Neither was necessarily true. The short statement released by the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (as shown at SouthFront) doesn’t mention anything about air strikes. And the Russians put the number of pro-Government wounded at 25 – with no information about any dead, interestingly (see the link to the statement by Russian Defence Ministry, below).

The Americans are quoted in some corporate-media as claiming that US support for its SDF allies was triggered “after 20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters of the SDF headquarters location”. That’s half a kilometre, or a third of a mile in real money. This is a big clue that tells us that the Syrians weren’t really interested in the SDF’s HQ – mark it well.

The following is from the BBC, and it gives all the important details according to the Americans; again mark it all well:

Unnamed US military officials subsequently told reporters that about 500 pro-government fighters, backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars, were involved in the assault.

One SDF fighter was reportedly wounded in the incident. There were no American casualties.

“We suspect Syrian pro-regime forces were attempting to seize terrain SDF had liberated from [IS] in September 2017,” one official told Reuters news agency.

The forces were “likely seeking to seize oilfields in Khusham that had been a major source of revenue for [IS] from 2014 to 2017, the official added.

The Syrians had a very different story. This from SANA:

SANA’s reporter said… popular forces that were fighting Daesh terrorist organization and Qasad groups between the villages of Khsham and al-Tabyia in Deir Ezzor northeastern countryside,… [were attacked] leaving scores of persons killed and others injured

The reporter added that the US-led coalition targeted the popular forces’ positions with ten strikes causing heavy material damage.

This would certainly offer a better explanation for the very unbalanced casualty figures. The attack was, then, a blatant act of aggression in support of ISIS (notwithstanding that the entire US presence in Syria was already highly illegal). The Russian’s gave more detail in a statement by the Russian Defence Ministry (again, via SouthFront). Significantly, this report gave details of the return of the civilian population to the area, and we should connect the dots: that activity must have attracted shelling from an “ISIS sleeper cell that had activated in the area.” When the local militia went looking for it, the Americans responded with attack helicopters.

It should be noted that these ISIS fighters would have to have had been sleepers – because the location of the incident happens to be at the one place where the Syrians had previously crossed over the Euphrates to then be restricted by the SDF on its mad dash to capture Syrian oil fields – ably abetted by the deployment of ISIS to detain the Syrian Government forces. The US-choreographed battlefield where ISIS and the SDF operate as puppets on the Pentagon’s left and right hands has been written of much at FBEL. The best evidence for the collaboration was surely the Russian maps and images of US special ops bases in ISIS territory, and accounts of SDF free passage through it. Other evidence appears in front of anyone’s eyes who cares to look at a map. There is an ISIS pocket that lies against the border of Iraq that the SDF just has no interest in clearing†. Likewise, ISIS isn’t interested in attacking the SDF out of this area.

Naturally, suspicion for where responsibility lies for the presence of a popping-up ISIS sleeper cell in an area where they have supposedly been made extinct must fall on the US – not just in terms of facilitation by allowing free range through SDF territory, but also in actually orchestrating the harassment of the villages named in the Russian Defence Ministry report which baited the Syrians into the killing fields: Mazloum, At-Tabiyyah and Khsham. But there may be much more to this.

The BBC article (linked to above) contained a very important detail and another instance of a recurring theme:

An Al-Ikhbariyah TV correspondent said the bombing left “dozens of dead and wounded” and identified the pro-government fighters as “local people”.

The fact of the “native” contingent of the Syrian forces is an aspect of this incident that cannot be overstated, and the reason for it should soon become clear to the reader. Consider the following extract from the Financial Times:

…with… [ISIS’] territorial control all but over, and the resources they once controlled falling into the hands of competing forces, the risk of these two sides turning on each other has grown. Fighters on both sides have warned emerging tension has already given room for Isis to start regrouping in parts of Syria.

[The Financial Times apparently has a copyright policy and would like applications to it to reuse its content. Thus it must be pointed out that using content to analyse propaganda or messaging in support of the criminal activity of the British Government does not infringe intellectual property law].

There are two things to digest from this extract. The first is the suggestion of the re-emergence of ISIS – mark that well, reader. The second thing is the idea of tension over liberated resources. What this is really talking about is not rivalry at national level between the US and Syrian Governments. The adversaries are the Arabs in Deir Ez Zor province, and their Kurdish overlords.

Let’s take a small diversion to the village of al-Shahil, which is further south down the Euphrates from al-Tabiyyah and Khsham and in the vicinity of al-Busayrah. An incident that happened at this place in the last few days is so important that the short Fars article about it is reproduced in its entirety below:

Local sources reported on Wednesday that severe tensions erupted between the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and tribal people in Eastern Deir Ezzur, local sources reported on Wednesday.

The sources said that people in the village of al-Shahil stormed the SDF centers and captured nine of the Kurdish fighters after one of the villagers was reportedly killed by the SDF.

The villagers have called for the handover of the murderer. The SDF has put its forces on alert following the unrest. Local sources in Deir Ezzur confirmed last month that the SDF released 400 ISIL members, among them tens of senior terrorist commanders in Deir Ezzur as well as their security, economic, military and religious leaders. Meantime, over 120 ISIL terrorists joined the SDF in Deir Ezzur.

The sources said that the SDF measure will possibly lead to heavy clashes with the people and tribes of Deir Ezzur and Hasaka as the ISIL terrorists have committed many crimes against them during the terrorist group’s control over the region.

Here is the open secret once again out in the open in a completely unabashed way: the collaboration between the SDF and ISIS. Previous ISIS-FSA turncoating was probably never so overt as to get the goat of locals as this measure has by the SDF to shore up its occupational capacity in Deir Ez Zor to compensate for its haemorrhaging in Afrin. In this particular location – and the murder of a kinsman didn’t help either – the notion that ISIS is SDF officer material is obviously exacerbating the tensions felt by the Arabs about the occupying Kurds; and why would anyone expect any different reaction in any other area of the province?  One wonders if there are concerns amongst Kurds about their occupation of Arab Syria as to its not being tenable, and therefore it needing some strategic management – which would involve some concessions.

This might explain the idea expressed in a Moon Of Alabama article. It appears that there may have been a deal to hand over the “Conoco” oil and gas field operation near the town of Khsham to the Syrian Government via the local Arabs who guarded it – this would no doubt be the al-Bakara tribe, of whom it was “announced in an official statement that dozens of its sons were killed”. According to the theory, the oil and gas facility was in the process of being transferred into Government control when the attack happened; and further evidence for this is the claim that Russian mercenaries were amongst the dead – perhaps personnel working for Wagner, the Russian private military contractor that is said to have a deal with the Syrian Government to protect recovered oil facilities. If this was the case, with ISIS providing the bait for the cover story, then the attack wasn’t a US trap, as the Moon Of Alabama suggests; it was a US fit of pique.

Remember how SANA reported that the American attack involved “causing heavy material damage”? Was this injury to materiale (equipment), or to infrastructure? Should we suspect a deliberate attempt to spoil the resource for the Syrian Government? Is it a case of “if we can’t have it, no one else will?” It wouldn’t be the first time that the US has purposely destroyed infrastructure in Syria.

The question must be asked: what will the ramifications be, given the tensions described above, if the US military killed Arabs that were on the point of defecting to the Syrian Government? Would it be seen as a punishment killing to prevent further evaporation of the SDF’s Arab contingent, or would it provoke bitter recrimination? The author’s feeling is that if any of this is true, the US military has demonstrated its rampant stupidity yet again; the disintegration of the SDF is only going to gather steam, not lose it. And this is why we might see the resurgence of ISIS, as “predicted” in the Financial Times, as a means to deny the Syrian Government of its resources.

To end, a comment goaded into print by an extract from the British Government propaganda mouthpiece, the Telegraph:

The Syrian regime said the fighters were from a local militia fighting against Isil and accused the US of “aggression” and a “new massacre.”

Damascus regularly protests against the US-led intervention in Syria, calling it a violation of Syria’s sovereignty, but has been largely powerless to stop it.

The US maintains a “deconfliction channel” with Russia, which is allied with the Syrian regime, and the two militaries use the channel to coordinate their movements to avoid to any accidental conflicts.

The US said it had been in contact with the Russians throughout the attack on Wednesday and had been reassured that Russian aircraft would not launch strikes against the coalition in support of Syrian regime troops.

The assertion that the US was in touch with Russia is probably one of the biggest lies that has been told in the whole course of the Syrian conflict, but the thing that actually irked the author most is the attitude to the illegal occupation: the sovereign government is supposedly powerless to stop it. Arrogant, naturally, but in the end still wishful thinking. The truth is that the Syrian Army and Air Force – of course with the assistance of the Russians – have achieved a situation, from a position of near capitulation, whereby the US occupation of their country becomes less viable by the day. The certainty of new developments, and any surprises they bring, will make a clear sight of how it will happen hard to see, but nevertheless the author predicts that in the end, US helicopters will be doing the job that they were really built for: evacuating US soldiers, and in a hurry.

 

† Once again, the timing is too impeccable for it be anything else but the playing out of a script based on nothing in reality. To reinforce the myth of the SDF anti-ISIS purpose, the US has announced the capture of a couple of “Jihadi Beatle” – remember Jihadi John, the propaganda movie star?

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