Syria meeting sees progress, agrees to turn truce into real ceasefire/ Military Source: Most Salafis Fighting in Syria Come from Afghanistan/ S. Arabia, Qatar, UAE to Supply Advanced Western Missiles to Terrorists in Syria/ Iraqi Plants Producing Chemical Arms for Rebels/ SouthFront: Syria battlespace, May 17, 2016
… from Russia Today, Moscow
[ Veterans Today Editor’s Note: We have some important news today coming from the statements of the main players, particularly Kerry. He has clearly responded to the continued pleas from Lavrov as to the failure to reign in the loose cannons among the terrorist opposition group.
Kerry acknowledges below that “bad actors” are involved in the process that signed up to seek a solution but are have been undermining the process to the best of their abilities. Add to that his insistence that the opposition stop working from IS and al-Nusra.
This is a public admission from the highest US official that they have been doing that, and something that the Saudis and Turks will not notice. But the $64,000 question is what is the US coalition leader going to do to bring its wayward members into line? So far we have seen nothing done.
We are way past time to be naming names, especially Turkey, as the fighter, ammo and advance weapons that have flowed across the border while Russia has reduced its air attack capacity has stalemated much more progress having been made against the jihadis.
One has to ask if this was not exactly what the US wanted as part of twisting Syria in the wind with Assad refusing to step down…with the US tit for tat the it would continue making sure the terrorists hold a good chunk of Syrian territory.
The threat to NE Syria has tied down Syrian forces that could have done more in Deir-Ezzur and Raqqa.
This makes me wonder that the US wanted those western advances slowed down to give it time to strengthen the opposition forces, of that more of the territory taken from IS and al-Nusra still remains under US opposition control during the negotiation process for leverage.
That in effect has put the US in the position of undermining the peace process itself, which I have no hesitation in saying. By not calling out Saudi Arabia and Turkey to stop supporting the designated terrorist groups has effectively put the US stamp of approval on their actions, making the US a “bad actor” as Kerry was referring to. You just can’t make this stuff up… Jim W. Dean ]
– First published … May 17, 2016 –
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have stated that there is progress in Syria peace talks after a meeting in Vienna, also saying that the powers there agreed to turn the Syria truce into a real ceasefire.
“I see the confirmation of the entire basis that our work is based on as the main result of today’s International Syria Support Group (ISSG) meeting. That is the joint statement of the ISSG and the resolutions of the UN Security Council numbers 2218, 2254 and 2268,” Lavrov said.
“I’d like to stress that we’ve made progress in all directions of our work, namely the cessation of hostilities, the expansion of the humanitarian assistance and the political process,” he added.
John Kerry also announced that the ISSG sees progress in the situation, stating, however, that specific actions should be taken to make real changes.
“We moved the ball forward. [But] to make all of this more than words on a page, some determined actions will have to be taken to make it happen. No one can be remotely satisfied with the situation in Syria,” Kerry said.
Lavrov said that the level of violence on the ground in Syria has gone down significantly, while humanitarian access has improved in many parts of the country.
As for the political process, Lavrov noted that there had been another round of talks concerning the political transition, giving the grounds for another meeting.
Kerry outlined the areas that the group will focus its actions in the near future, particularly intensifying efforts to make warring parties stop all violence and to ensure that the opposition disassociate themselves from Islamic State and Al Nusra extremists. The agenda also includes expanding the delivery of humanitarian aid and facilitating agreements between various sides in Syria for the mutual release of detainees.
The secretary of state also noted that the peace process was endangered by “bad actors,” or parties who pledge support for the cessation of hostilities and at the same time ally themselves with violent factions when they choose to.
“The peace is endangered by irresponsible actions of those who seek a different outcome [to the peace process]. They’re actors on both sides,” Kerry said.
“The stakes are too high and the conflict is too long [to succumb to] bad actors or avoid consequences for sides who have an agenda different from that of reaching an agreement and trying to make peace.”
He said the members of the ISSG agreed that if a party to the cessation of hostilities does not comply, it can be reported to the monitoring group and be excluded from the peace process.
“In order to bring an end to the conflict in Syria, those involved in the conflict, with conflicting agendas, will have to prioritize peace,” Kerry added.
The powers in Vienna, however, failed to agree on a new date for peace talks between the warring sides in Syria, Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy to the country, said in a joint press conference with Kerry and Lavrov.
“Intra-Syria talks are still in progress,” De Mistura said. “The issue is still waiting for some type of concrete outcome of this meeting, but we cannot wait too long, we want to keep the momentum.” He added that peace talks “will become credible when there is credible cessation of hostilities and credible humanitarian aid” delivery.
Tuesday’s talks authorized air drops to improve the humanitarian situation and outlined the locations where aid deliveries are to be made.
The meeting of the ISSG group lasted for over five hours. Previously, ISSG members met in Munich, Germany, in February. At that time, the various sides agreed to work for a reduction of violence in the region, which is supposed to turn into a full ceasefire within a week’s time. The truce, however, does not include organizations which are considered terrorists by the UN Security Council.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Most Salafi rebels fighting in Syria are Afghan nationals infiltrating Syria via the borders with Iraq, a senior Syrian military source revealed on Saturday.
“Afghans affiliated to the al-Qaeda constitute over 65% of the Jihadi Salafi groups in (the Syrian province of) Deir Ezzor and they have come to Syria from Iraq,” the military source told FNA on the condition of anonymity.
“The Syrian army’s intelligence displays that these Jihadi Salafis have been trained by the terrorist al-Qaeda organization and have infiltrated into Syria through Iraq after passing some necessary training courses,” the source added.
Reports had also earlier revealed that Turkey’s national air carrier, Turkish Air, has been transiting Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants from North Waziristan in Pakistan to the Turkish borders with Syria.
“The Turkish intelligence agency sent 93 Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorists from Waziristan to Hatay province near the border with Syria on a Turkish Air Airbus flight No. 709 on September 10, 2012 and via the Karachi-Istanbul flight route,” the source told FNA in September, adding that the flight had a short stop in Istanbul.
The 93 terrorists transited to the Turkish border with Syria included Al-Qaeda militants from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and a group of Arabs residing in Waziristan, he added.
FNA dispatches from Pakistan said new al-Qaeda members were trained in North Waziristan until a few days ago and then sent to Syria, but now they are transferring their command center to the borders between Turkey and Syria as a first step to be followed by a last move directly into the restive parts of Syria on the other side of the border.
The al-Qaeda, backed by Turkey, the US and its regional Arab allies, had set up a new camp in Northern Waziristan in Pakistan to train Salafi and Jihadi terrorists and dispatched them to Syria via Turkish borders.
“A new Al-Qaeda has been created in the region through the financial and logistical backup of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and a number of western states, specially the US,” a source told FNA in September.
Ali Mahdian told FNA that the US and the British governments have been playing with the al-Qaeda through their Arab proxy regimes in the region in a bid to materialize their goals, specially in Syria.
He said the Saudi and Qatari regimes serve as interlocutors to facilitate the CIA and MI6 plans in Syria through instigating terrorist operations by Salafi and Arab Jihadi groups, adding that the terrorists do not know that they actually exercise the US plans.
“Turkey has also been misusing extremist Salafis and Al-Qaeda terrorists to intensify the crisis in Syria and it has recently augmented its efforts in this regard by helping the new Al-Qaeda branch set up a camp in Northern Waziristan in Pakistan to train Al-Qaeda and Taliban members as well as Turkish Salafis and Arab Jihadis who are later sent to Syria for terrorist operations,” said the source.
He said the camp in Waziristan is not just a training center, but a command center for terrorist operations against Syria.
Yet, the source said the US and Britain are looking at the new Al-Qaeda force as an instrument to attain their goals and do not intend to support them to ascend to power, “because if Salafi elements in Syria ascend to power, they will create many problems for the US, the Western states and Turkey in future”.
“Thus, the US, Britain and Turkey are looking at the Al-Qaeda as a tactical instrument,” he said, and warned of the regional and global repercussions of the US and Turkish aid to the Al-Qaeda and Salafi groups.
“Unfortunately, these group of countries have just focused on the short-term benefits that the Salafis and the Al-Qaeda can provide for them and ignore the perils of this support in the long run,” he said.
“At present, the western countries, specially Britain which hosts and controls the Jihadi Salafi groups throughout the world are paving the ground for these extremists to leave their homes – mostly in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Untied Arab Emirates (UAE) as well as those who live in Europe and the US – for Waziristan,” the source added.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011 with organized attacks by well-armed gangs against Syrian police forces and border guards being reported across the country.
In October 2011, calm was eventually restored in the Arab state after President Assad started a reform initiative in the country, but Israel, the US and its Arab allies are seeking hard to bring the country into chaos through any possible means. Tel Aviv, Washington and some Arab capitals have been staging various plots in the hope of stirring unrests in Syria once again.
The US and its western and regional allies have long sought to topple Bashar al-Assad and his ruling system. Media reports said that the Syrian rebels and terrorist groups have received significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, a crime paid for by the Persian Gulf Arab states and coordinated by the United States.
The US daily, Washington Post, reported in May 2012 that the Syrian rebels and terrorist groups battling the President Bashar al-Assad’s government have received significantly more and better weapons in recent weeks, a crime paid for by the Persian Gulf Arab states and coordinated by the United States.
The newspaper, quoting opposition activists and US and foreign officials, reported that Obama administration officials emphasized the administration has expanded contacts with opposition military forces to provide the Persian Gulf nations with assessments of rebel credibility and command-and-control infrastructure.
Opposition activists who several months ago said the rebels were running out of ammunition said in May 2012 that the flow of weapons – most bought on the black market in neighboring countries or from elements of the Syrian military in the past – has significantly increased after a decision by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Persian Gulf states to provide millions of dollars in funding each month.
This latest development is nothing new, advanced Western weapons systems such as TOW ATGMs have been finding their way into the hands of Islamic State and various other ‘opposition’ groups right from the start of the conflict over 5 years ago.
Of course, we have been reporting that the Saudis and their fellow Arab oil states have been financing and supplying the ‘terrorists’ for years now; after all, who can tell the difference between the Islamic State and Saudi Wahhabism in the first place? Both are ultra-strict absolutist regimes that frequently chop the heads off anyone and everyone who steps out of line.
The Saudis and their Arab allies would not be able to supply these advanced weapons without the consent of the US and other western governments; therefore it seems clear that regardless of any noises about peace and lasting ceasefire settlements we might hear coming from the Kerry-Lavrov talks, the Western regimes will continue to enable the continuation of this awful, pointless conflict and most likely, will simply proffer the worn-out, discredited excuse that the arms were intended for ‘moderate opposition’ groups rather than the head-chopping terrorist groups.
Recent events in the Syrian conflict have shown us that the main effect of the Western rhetoric about moderate opposition has been for the decidedly non-moderate and very much bloodthirsty terrorist groups have simply blended themselves into the groups the West deems to be ‘moderate’ to avoid the attentions of the Syrian and Russian airforces – the bad guys are using the moderates as human shields, effectively.
This cynical move by the bad guys has largely counter-acted the destruction wrought on them by Russian airstrikes and as we can see by this latest development, re-arm and re-equip themselves under cover of the ‘moderate’ tag the US is so fond of using.
The outcome of all this is the tragic continuation of the war, a war that a few short months ago appeared to be well on the way to it’s final stages as the Russian-backed Syrian Army and it’s Iranian and Lebanese allies was winning victory after victory in a successful counter-offensive that liberated many cities and towns.
The Russians clearly see that the Syrian conflict is far from over and that further intervention is going to be needed; the sending of the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetzov to the Mediterranean is a clear indicator of this – it’s air group will no doubt fulfil the air support function that the Sukhois and Migs of the Russian air force did previously.
In conclusion, I feel it is safe to say that the Syrian conflict is far from over, that we will see an escalation of that conflict in the near future and furthermore, it is highly likely that the European nations will find themselves having to deal with even more ‘migrants’ on top of the millions that have already invaded at the behest of Mr. Erdogan.
The presence of former ISIS fighters within the ranks of ‘migrants’ is perhaps my greatest concern as we know that Erdogan is behind their presence in Europe and will continue to use these men as a knife to the throat of the European leaders . Therefore don’t expect any European interventions in Syria to defeat the bad guys, that would lead to Erdogan unleashing his terrorists in Europe and a terrible escalation of the conflict into Europe.
Informed sources revealed that certain Persian Gulf Arab states which are customers of the western arms plan to supply the militants in Syria with state-of-the-art missiles.
“The Arab countries have purchased advanced weapons from the West for the terrorist groups in Syria to be used in the Northern and Southern parts of the country,” sources told the Palestinian al-Manar news website on Monday.
Following the terrorist groups’ painful failures in Syria, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are attempting to smuggle these weapons to Syria, the sources added.
In relevant remarks in October, a Saudi official announced that his country had supplied the militants in Syria with a new batch of TOW antitank missiles as the Syrian army forces backed by Russian warplanes continue to gain ground in the Arab country.
BBC correspondent Frank Gardner tweeted that a Saudi official confirmed the delivery of 500 TOW antitank missiles to the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA).
Syria has been grappling with a deadly crisis since March 2011. The violence fueled by Takfiri groups which are supported by Saudi Arabia and its regional allies has so far claimed the lives of over 240,000 people.
TEHRAN (FNA)- Vice-Chairman of the Syrian Journalists’ Union Mostafa Meqdad said that chemical plants in Iraq are producing chemical weapons for the terrorists in Syria, confirming the remarks by Russian President Vladimir Putin who had revealed the involvement of certain groups in Iraq in the production of such weapons.
“Russia is also aware that a plant which produces chemical weapons exists in Iraq and belongs to the terrorist groups,” Meqdad told FNA in Damascus on Saturday.
“Russia has announced that the Syrian government has not used such (chemical) weapons and stressed that the terrorists have used them in Syria, specially in Aleppo and Idlib,” he added.
His remarks alluded to Putin’s comments earlier this week that laboratories in Iraq are producing chemical weapons for the terrorists in Syria.
“We know that Opposition Fighters were detained on Turkish territory with chemical weapons,” Mr. Putin told a press conference in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland after meeting the leaders of the industrialized nations in a G8 Summit.
“We have information out of Iraq that a laboratory was discovered there for the production of chemical weapons by the opposition. All this evidence needs to be studied most seriously,” he continued.
Putin questioned the credibility of allegations by the US, UK and France that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces had used chemical weapons, and attributed equivalent horrors to the forces supported by the West.
Putin’s remarks confirmed a detailed report by the FNA in May which said former Ba’ath regime officials are involved in the production and procurement of such weapons to the Syrian terrorists.
Early last month, informed sources told FNA that the innocent people killed in the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo in Northwestern Syria were the victims of the chemical weapons supplied to the terrorists by a Saddam-era General working under head of the now outlawed Ba’ath party Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.
“The chemical weapons used in the attack on Khan al-Assal area had been prepared by former Iraqi Military Industries Brigadier General Adnan al-Dulaimi and supplied to Ba’ath-affiliated terrorists of the Nusra Front in Aleppo through Turkey’s cooperation and via the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province,” an informed source, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of his life, told FNA on May 6.
The source who has been an aide to Izzat Ibrahim – the most senior member of Saddam Hussein’s inner circle who is still on the run and heads the outlawed Ba’ath party after the apprehension and execution of Iraq’s former Dictator Saddam Hussein – defected from the group a few months ago, but holds substantiating documents on Izzat Ibrahim’s plans.
Gen. Adnan al-Dulaimi was a key man in Saddam’s chemical weapons production projects. After the fall of the dictator and when the Ba’ath party was divided into the two branches of Yunes al-Ahmad and Izzat Ibrahim, he joined the latter group and was deployed in Northwestern Iraq, which is a bastion of Ba’ath terrorists, to produce chemical substances.
“The 80mm mortar shells which landed in Khan al-Assal and killed dozens of people were armed with the latest product of Dulaimi’s hidden laboratories sent to the Nusra members for testing,” the source added.
“Also at his order, several former Iraqi military industries engineers trained the Syrian terrorists on how to use these chemical weapons,” the source said, adding that all plans in this connection were prepared by Adnan al-Dulaimi and staged after the approval of Izzat Ibrahim.
The chemical mortar shells, which the source said were fired at Khan al-Assal from the Nusra-ruled Kafr Dael in Northwestern Aleppo, contained a chemical substance very familiar to the Iraqi Ba’ath party leaders, Sarin nerve gas. Adnan Dulaimi and his Ba’athist colleagues in Iraq’s military industries mass-produced the same lethal gas and used it in vast areas against the Iranian troops in the 1980-1988 war and eventually killed thousands of people in the Kurdish town of Halabcheh with the same chemical agent.
UN human rights investigators announced just a few hours ago that they have testimony indicating Syrian rebels have used Sarin gas. Interviews with victims and doctors have provided “strong, concrete suspicions” that rebels used the deadly nerve agent, according to a lead investigator, who also stressed that there’s no evidence yet that the Syrian military used Sarin.
“Our investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of Sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated,” member of the UN independent commission of inquiry on Syria Carla Del Ponte said in an interview with Swiss-Italian television.
“This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” she added, speaking in Italian.
The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has not yet seen evidence of government forces having used chemical weapons, which are banned under international law, Del Ponte said.
The chemical attack on Khan al-Assal came after a video footage posted on the internet late in January showed that the armed militants in Syria possessed canisters containing chemical substances.
The foreign-sponsored militants had earlier released footage in which rabbits were killed by inhaling poisonous gas.
On May 16, ISIS carried out massive bomb attacks against the Shaer gas field in the Homs province, setting off a minor earthquake in the city of Palmyra and blowing up several of Shaer’s pumping stations. The gas field – one of the biggest in the province – has been the scene of heavy clashes between militants and pro-government forces. ISIS captured the gas field on May 5.
Pro-government sources argued on Monday the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) was successfully advancing in the area. It’s possible that this fact pushed ISIS to blow up the gas field.
On May 17, Al-Nusra and Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham militants launched a military operation in Northern Homs, reportedly capturing the train station near Harbanifseh. Clashes are ongoing in the area. Last week, the militants seized the nearby village of Al-Zarah.
The situation remains tense in the city of Deir Ezzor where the SAA is repelling ISIS’ attacks. On May 15, the loyalists seized back the Panorama Roundabout in the Deir Ezzor city that they had lost to ISIS earlier. However, ISIS militants control al-Sinaah, Industrial Centre and part of Tahtuh that they captured on May 14. Different pro-government source argue that from 60 to 200 Jihadists have been killed in the clashes. But this information can’t be confirmed.
In Eastern Ghouta, the SAA reportedly seized the important road that connects Hosh al-Khatib and Harasta al-Qantara region, destroying militant checkpoint along it. SAA engineering units are defusing roadside bombs and mines planted by the militants.