Published On: Wed, Apr 4th, 2018

Is the Skripal incident linked to the recent liberation of a town called Nashabiya?

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According to the Russians, when the “international community” (just above a score of countries – mostly in the EU) was expelling diplomats at the behest of the UK Government, many offered apologies out of the corner of their mouths. Said Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister:

When one or two diplomats are being expelled from this or that country, all the while whispering apologies in our ear, we know for sure that this is a result of colossal pressure, colossal blackmail, which unfortunately is Washington’s main tool now on the international area.

Perhaps the same phenomenon can account for what happened today (4th April) when 17 representatives abstained from a motion put to a meeting of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Proposed by Moscow, Beijing and Tehran, the objective was to establish a joint investigation into the “poisoning” of “Yulia and Sergei Skripal”. More countries abstained than voted against the proposal (15). But 15 to 6 won the day: Britain’s lying Foreign Office once again claimed global unanimity, this time in the face of Russian dirty tricks.

If it was the goal of the Russians to demonstrate that the OPCW would only make decisions that were favourable to the UK, then mission accomplished. The Russian permanent representative to the organisation, Aleksandr Shulgin, said this:

Following this vote, we can positively say that the masks have been thrown out… The UK and the US, who pretend to be guarantors of international law, in reality blatantly violate it themselves. Our China-Iran-Russia draft document has been based solely on the principles of international law. It turns out for the US and the UK [that] the Chemical Weapons Convention means nothing and they can use it in any way they want.

In other news regarding the Skripal incident, Gary Aitkenhead, the Chief Executive of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, created a great storm in the thick Twitter sea by appearing on Sky News to validate information that Craig Murray, former ambassador to Uzbekistan, had previously published regarding Porton Down’s ambivalence about the fact of Russian manufacture of Novichok. In an article entitled, Novichok… or fentanyl? No proof of a crime points to Skripal poisoning hoax, FBEL covered what was intended by the disclosure of this information when it was leaked into the public domain – and the appraisal given then still counts now that the information has been officially released. The squall about Novichok is a decoy to provide a disguise for the naked hoax; a misdirection to divert due scrutiny away from the central magic trick.

If, dear reader, you are a regular at FBEL, and thought for one moment that Sky News could host an interview with Gary Aitkenhead, and make a nuisance of itself in relation to Morlock (the British ruling class) policies ranged against Russia, without the go-ahead from Government, then just get yourself off back to the pre-911-attitude blogosphere. Nothing says managed news like one outlet – Sky in this case – providing a narrow mouthpiece, while the rest of the corporate-media remain stupefied on the issue. Also notice that, regardless of what the Cult of Corbyn are claiming for him, the Leader of the Opposition isn’t capitalising ruthlessly on the opportunity handed to him by Boris Johnson caught in a lie. Instead, the Foreign Secretary had “egg on his face for the statement he made on German television” (where he claimed that Porton Down had assured him of the Russian origin of Novichok). It’s exactly the sort of lip-serving punch-pulling stuff that you’d expect from a limited hang out.

The author suspects that Aitkenhead’s interview was necessary as part of an extensively managed effort (including Corbyn’s contribution) to reorganise the British Government’s position – probably to get over some technical obstacle that would otherwise have stymied support at the OPCW extraordinary meeting that was the subject of the first part of this article. The Russians initiated the event way back on the 29th March – so the British would have been reacting, and might have been faced with the prospect of having to evolve to survive, so to speak. Moreover, it was a closed meeting, thus the public has no ability to look at any case presented by the UK to see if and how the Aitkenhead development affected it. The information may become available to persuade the author otherwise, but until then he is of the opinion that the Russians may well have forced the British embarrassment.

And there may still be more to come. Russia wants an open session of the UN Security Council to be convened on Thursday, 5th March. The subject matter is said to be the “Skripal poisoning”, which, exciting as it has been, is humdrum compared with what persistent observers of the UK crime in Syria think that Russia could bring to the attention of the world at an international forum. But it would be too much to expect, for instance, that Russia is about to publically link the Skripal case with events in Syria. If such links existed, they would surely be for backroom dealing; for applying diplomatic pressure and exacting what would appear to be inexplicable policy reversals.

At this point the long-time FBEL reader may well be expecting to receive some news of a wild rumour from Syria – and he or she wouldn’t be disappointed. It’s from Eastern Ghouta, to be exact.

An Arab news site, shaamtimes.net, published a story on 28th March (following the link mounted in this tweet will take the reader to the original page). The following is a Google translation – and even so, what with the dislocation of words from each other so that understanding is at times strained, it still makes wonderful reading.

At the height of the American and other hostile threats to launch missile strikes against Syria, without the success of these threats to the success of any chemical “representation” through their mercenaries, as Moscow and Damascus lie to any such attempt as an argument for the hostile axis through which to translate his military plan, A sudden British “scream” about Moscow the whole scene, accusing the latter of involvement in the poisoning of the double agent Sergey Scrippal.

The timing of the concentrated lighting on this incident coincided with the acceleration of the Syrian and Russian military and political process, which succeeded in bringing thousands of militants and civilians from the eastern Ghouta out in record time. The reports of international news agencies confirmed that a qualitative military operation led the “Elitist” Syria to the closure of the British intelligence team integrated, likely to be in the town of Kvrbna, a few days after the capture of a British military advisers in the town of Nashabiya in the eastern Ghouta.

The reports pointed out that London mediated by Moscow, through the Sultanate of Oman, to release her captives, but the Russian response only confirmed that the order of these is exclusively to the Syrian military leadership. The reports did not overlook the confirmation of the capture of a US officer and two “Israelis” in the battles of the eastern Ghouta, pointing out that this could be one of the main motives that led US Secretary of Defense James Matisse to the Sultanate on the eleventh of this month.

There are a few nuggets in there, but the reader should focus on the bit about the “capture of a British military advisers in the town of Nashabiya in the eastern Ghouta”.

To check out if this constitutes a possibility, we need to proceed to the #Nashabiya thread on Twitter. Once there, you will see what effectively constitutes a report on the status of the town as the Syrian Arab Army strove to capture it in February 2018. The following tweets are from that thread:

Pamela Spenser‏ @PamSpenser Feb 24

#BREAKING| According to a source in the #Syria’s #MinistryOfDefense, #HayatTahrirAlSham #militants right now are trying to #break into #Damascus through #Nashabiya and #Khazram

Pamela Spenser‏ @PamSpenser Feb 24

#BREAKING| #Defense officials report: the attack of #terrorists in the area of #Nashabiya and #Hazram was repulsed. 38 militants and 7 pick-up trucks with #large-caliber machine #guns mounted on them were #destroyed. A large number of #ammunition is #captured

Ahmad Al-Issa‏ @ahmadalissa Feb 28

#Damascus: The Syrian warplanes launch intensive airstrikes at the terrorists fortifications in #Nashabiya of #EastGhouta #FromSyria

mcmounes‏ @mcmounes Feb 28

The Syrian army controls the towns of #Nashabiya and #Chifonia in the eastern #Guota .

The thread undoubtedly tells the tale of Nashabiya being some hotly contested territory. The following map is also to be found on the same thread, and it shows the situation as of 3rd March (click on it to enlarge). You will notice, on closer inspection, that Nashabiya was formerly in the Duma pocket – on the map it sits to the south east of this feature, with the name being partially obliterated by a flag icon. Other material suggests that the Syrians cut the town off from the main pocket by a manoeuvre through the settlement (name currently unknown) that is obscured by the second set of flag icons to the west of Khanun Nazik.

The Twitter reporting is confirmed by Southfront:

On March 3, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces backed up by the Russian Aerospace Forces captured the strategic towns of Utaya, Hazrama and al-Nashabiyah in the southern part of the East Ghouta pocket, according to the Hezbollah media wing in Syria.

The SAA captured the towns of Hazrama and al-Nashabiyah on February 25. However, a counter-attack by Jaysh al-Islam forced the SAA to withdraw from them back then.

It appears that Nashabiyah was fiercely fought over – which suggests a competent defence, and a high value target; indeed, it was the site of a counter attack. Moreover, because Nashabiyah was severed from the main pocket by a pincer, it is highly likely that some of the British (that we have reason to believe are organising al-qaeda in Duma) were caught out. So, the claim in the Arabic news site is that the Syrians have captured a number of British “military advisers” (intelligence agents or SAS?), but the Russians will not intervene to have them released. Furthermore, as far as it can be made out, this might be what has motivated the British to manufacture the Skripal hoax. In other words, the British are trying to create leverage against Russia by which to force an act of compliance – and we thought as much here at FBEL on March 23rd (from The Skripal phony fake show ploughs on – because it must):

What is behind the Skripal incident is an attempt to create leverage against Russia, by pressure through the perception of being isolated in the world, so that Putin and the Russian military will decide to stop supporting the Syrian Government.

There is further and tantalising evidence hidden in the long grass of our routine coverage. In the FBEL article, Ghouta: the Americans keep losing; UK Government’s al-Qaeda links to be exposed?, of the 27th February, the author wrote of a report about SAS officers running Jaysh al-Islam in Duma (or Douma). However, there was an update to the article late on in the day that caught the news that the Foreign Office had “summoned Russia’s ambassador to express its ‘deep concern’”. Look what was written:

It’s a very good bet that all the “deep concern” is about the British intelligence assets and special forces about to be killed or arrested.

The 27th February, of course, was the day before the Syrians captured Nashabiya.

So, maybe it’s all true – and why couldn’t it be, when every observer of the Syrian war absolutely expected something rotten and stinking to be dug up in Ghouta? But if it is true, would it ever get served up in public as humble pie for the ravenous British Government to choke upon? It’s probably too much like secret-diplomatic gold dust for that (and there is a peace that the Russians would undoubtedly like to have bargaining chips to barter for)… but we live in hope.

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