Voices from Russia

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Russian Journalists Blow Lid Off Alleged US Terrorist Training Network in Syria

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Two Russian journalists in Syria put together a damning firsthand report on the true purpose of the secret US military mission at al-Tanf in southern Syria. Late last month, fresh allegations from the Russian General Staff that US instructors were providing training assistance for some 350 ex-Daesh (ISIS) militants at the US Army’s al-Tanf garrison in Homs Governorate in southern Syria forced the Pentagon to go into full public relations mode. Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov accused Washington of intending to use the militants to create a so-called “New Syrian Army”, a military formation aimed at further destabilising the war-torn country after the defeat of Daesh. A Pentagon spokesperson soon responded, telling Sputnik that Moscow’s allegations were “false and absurd”, and stressing that the USA and its allies engage in capturing and killing Daesh, not training them

  • Editor: If such is so, why do they have an illegal secret base that they refuse to remove even though the legitimate Syrian government demanded that they leave? Lying Anglo sacks o’ shit. They truly expect to get away with their chicanery and aggression.

In a special investigative report for Russia’s Federal News Agency, correspondents Igor Petrashevich and Roman Martynovich made their way south to try to figure out what was really going on in the US-occupied area with their own eyes. Al-Tanf, a settlement situated near Syria’s border with Iraq and Jordan, is one of three official border crossings between Syria and Iraq, and the main border checkpoint along the Damascus-Baghdad Highway. Intense fighting for the area took place in the spring and summer of 2017, as US-allied militants attempted to solidify their foothold in southern Syria. However, a Syrian Army counteroffensive backed by Russian air power stopped the militant advance, prompting them and their US-led coalition allies to secure a patch of territory running about 55 kilometres (34 miles) deep into Syria.

In late December, General Gerasimov pointed to al-Tanf as being one of two staging areas for the continuation of an armed struggle against the Syrian government by the jihadists, with the other at Shaddadi camp, under the control of Kurdish forces operating in northern Syria. Gerasimov stated that the US Special Forces had brought the al-Tanf militants, many former members of Daesh, into the area from Deir ez-Zor Governorate, where Daesh had suffered total defeat. According to Petrashevich and Martynovich, the presence of these former Daesh fighters made local residents wary of helping them to make their way into the US-occupied enclave, noting:

A young man named Marshod warned our correspondents about this and said that two of his own attempts to make his way to a nearby village beyond the line of demarcation led to threats against his life from militants guarding the enclave’s inner perimeter.

Undeterred, the journalists continued their investigation via interviews with eyewitnesses and Syrian troops stationed in the region.

There May Be Close to Four Times as Many Militants as Previously Estimated

Although Russian military sources conservatively estimate the presence of roughly 350 Daesh militants at al-Tanf, Syrian military sources speaking to Patrashevich and Martynovich explained that there, in fact, might be upwards of 1,200 fighters, some 200 of them Daesh jihadis brought to the area by US Special Forces, mostly from Deir ez-Zor Governorate. Other forces include the so-called “New Syrian Army”, the Forces of Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo (formally part of the Free Syrian Army), and the Martyrs of Islam Brigade (an Islamist group). According to the Syrian military, these forces have large-calibre mortars, ATGMs, tanks, and other heavy weaponry. Reportedly, the New Syrian Army, commanded by one Mekhenda Talla, has a strained relationship with the other formations, who cooperate with his forces only on a for-cash basis. Patrashevich and Martynovich wrote:

In general, the relationship between the militants from the individual groups is quite tense, as civilian testimony makes clear. One local, a man named Amjad Sahim, who managed to escape US-controlled territory to neighbouring Damascus Governate, told us that he and his brothers witnessed clashes between the NSA forces moving toward the border and former Daesh fighters attempting to leave the area into Jordanian territory. Because of the clashes, the US-backed militants completely wiped out the small group of Daesh terrorists.

Furthermore, the journalists’ Syrian Army source said that other members of the US-led coalition were in the area, with about 400 mercenaries, intelligence operatives, and Special Forces troops of the UK, France, Jordan, and possibly other countries, operating in the region. Their arsenal includes HIMARS MLRSs and anti-aircraft artillery tasked with defending the US base.

“Passive Reserve” of 5,000 More Jihadists

Local freelance journalists told Patrashevich and Martynovich that in addition to the so-called “active reserve of militants, the USA and its allies also have a passive backup reservee, saying:

Whilst the main jihadists are at the US base and receive a monthly allowance, another 5,000 Islamists reside at the Rukban refugee camp, some still armed and in contact with their field commanders. Last November, militants voiced their dissatisfaction with a noticeable decline in US funding. As a result, the al-Tanf base’s command, fearing military insurrection, decided to disburse a severance payment of several thousand dollars to each fighter and gave them the right to remain inside the enclave in the tent camp zone.

According to a Syrian Army source near the front line, the duties of the New Syrian Army includes guarding checkpoints along the makeshift border and defence of the al-Tanf base perimeter and the Rukban camp. Talla’s troops maintain discipline over the other units via payments for the performance of various duties.

Life in Region a Living Hell for Civilians

Locals told Patrashevich and Martynovich that the jihadists’ presence in the region had a severe impact on civilian life. In the town of Al-Qaryatayn, the correspondents met with Farah Alhamsih, a young woman who had lived outside al-Tanf before managing to escape the area once it fell under US and jihadist control. She said:

Whilst some militants engaged in building homes or engaged in shooting practice, most of them, left almost without means, robbed local houses or trucks passing along the Damascus-Baghdad highway.

Eyewitnesses said that US forces first tried to exert pressure on the radicals or even evict them from the Rukban camp, but they eventually gave up, closing their eyes to criminal activities.

Last fall, a group of some 300 Daesh militants launched an offensive toward al-Qaryatayn, avoiding Syrian Army outposts using intel that Moscow and Damascus said came from US aerial reconnaissance. Although the Syrian forces stopped the offensive, they fear that new attacks may be in the offing. Furthermore, US and jihadist occupation of the area put important roads, including the Homs-Deir ez-Zor and Damascus-Palmyra Highways, as well as strategically important oil and gas fields, under threat.

Russian officials also voiced concerns about the state of the Rukban refugee camp, the Russian Centre for Reconciliation describing the situation there as being close to “catastrophic”, with the US military closing access to the camp to the UN and other humanitarian organisations. Thus far, Patrashevich and Martynovich pointed up:

Airstrikes by the US coalition countered any attempts by Syrian government convoys or pro-Russian forces to come close to the enclave. This included incidents in May and June 2017.

Sahim, a local man now living in Damascus Governate, confirmed to the journalists that the humanitarian situation in the US-occupied territory is approaching desperation, with basic foodstuffs and other necessities unavailable, whilst militants have seized local wells, selling water to locals at marked up prices:

When I was very thirsty, I had to spend a fortune. The terrorists sold a bottle of water that earlier sold for 50 lira for 500 lira. People had to buy it. What else could they do? Many parents tried to save their children. I know several local families who gave away their girls for marriage just to get them out of the area. When locals tried to organise to get the attention of the US military command about arranging the supply of necessities, [the Americans] ignored their requests.

This, combined with the lack of any effort to rein in the militants, gave rise to anti-American sentiments, as well as hopes for aid from the Syrian government and the Russian military. The Russian Centre for Reconciliation offered to assist refugees from the Rukban camp. Last month, despite the absence of any security guarantees from the US side, and the presence of roaming jihadist militants in the region, Centre representatives aided the evacuation of a small group of refugees from the camp. The reporters captured the evacuation on video. For now, Patrashevich and Martynovich noted that the fate of the US-occupied Syrian enclave is in American hands. So long as the illegal US occupation of the border area continues, Damascus won’t be able to rest easy with regard to the security of its southern territories.

14 January 2018

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201801141060746468-us-occupation-cooperation-with-terrorists-southern-syria/

Editor:

The legitimate Syrian government denied the American forces permission to operate within their borders. Ergo, the present US operation is a war crime under the definitions used to prosecute Nazis after World War II… that means that Obama, Clinton, Carey, Trump, and Tillerson are major war criminals under those standards for having planned and waged aggressive war. That’s how depraved the USA has become… it’s an out-of-control rouge-state that fancies itself free of any normal restraint or consequence for its actions. America’s behaviour since 1991 can mean only one thing… the USSR was the innocent party in the Cold War. It also means that lacking the deterrence that the USSR gave to its aggressive and juvenile actions, the USA will always act in a brutal and vicious fashion. Today, China, Russia, and Iran huddle together in an alliance against American terrorism. As long as the American threat persists, this alliance will be solid. Sad to say, the USA shows no sign of abandoning its violent and hubristic course… this alliance will last. Terrorism? One of its main architects was Hillary Clinton… a person I’d name the evilest individual of the second-half of the 20th-century and the beginning of the 21st. None dare call her diabolic…

BMD

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