Syrian War Report – December 9-12, 2017

Syria – ISIS Is Defeated – The U.S. Is Next In Line

December 09, 2017

Moon of Alabama

The Islamic State in Syrian and Iraq is officially defeated. The UN resolution which allowed other countries to fight ISIS within Syria and Iraq no longer applies. But the U.S. military, despite the lack of any legal basis, wants to continue its occupation of Syria’s north-east. The attempt to do so will fail. Its Kurdish allies in the area are already moving away from it and now prefer Russian protection. Guerrilla forces to fight the U.S. “presence” are being formed. The U.S. plan is shortsighted and stupid. If the U.S. insists on staying there many of its soldiers will die.

Two days ago the Syrian Arab Army closed the last gaps on the west bank of the Euphrates. Having fought all the way from Aleppo along the river towards the east the Tiger Force reached the liberated Deir Ezzor from the west. All settlements on the way are now controlled by the Syrian government. The remaining Islamic State fighters were pushed into the desert where they will be hunted down and killed.

Two days ago the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, declared a “complete victory” in Syria:

“Two hours ago, the (Russian) defense minister reported to me that the operations on the eastern and western banks of the Euphrates have been completed with the total rout of the terrorists,” Putin said.

“Naturally, there could still be some pockets of resistance, but overall the military work at this stage and on this territory is completed with, I repeat, the total rout of the terrorists,” he said.

Today the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi declared victory and the ‘end of the war’ against ISIS on the Iraqi side:

Our forces are in complete control of the Iraqi-Syrian border and I therefore announce the end of the war against Daesh (IS),” Abadi told a conference in Baghdad.

North of the Euphrates the U.S. proxy force SDF had recently negotiated another agreement (42) with the remaining Islamic State fighters there. ISIS allegedly handed over a border crossing with Iraq to the SDF and in exchange was guaranteed free passage through SDF controlled areas. This agreement came after an earlier one in which the U.S. and SDF let 3,500 ISIS fighters flee from Raqqa to fight the Syrian Army in Deir Ezzor. That was a U.S. attempt to delay or prevent the victory of Syria and its allies. It failed.

Shortly after the claimed new ceasefire between the U.S. SDF proxies and ISIS, Russian officers met with officials of the Kurdish YPG, the central force of the SDF. The talks completely changed the situation. In a joint press conference the Kurds and the Russians committed to work together to fight ISIS east of the Euphrates. It seems that the YPG is no longer convinced that the U.S. is willing to do so. The Russians took command and the Russian air forces has since supported the YPG in its fight against ISIS in Deir Ezzor governate on the eastern bank of the river:

“A joint operative staff has been created in the town of Es-Salhiya to provide direct control and organize the cooperation with the popular militia units. Apart from Russian advisors, representatives of the eastern Euphrates tribes are taken part in it,” Poplavskiy said, noting that in the “coming days” the entire territory east of Euphrates River will be free from terrorists.

Mahmoud Nuri, a representative of the Kurdish YPG, stated that the militia “battled ISIS under Russian command very effectively. Kurdish forces have also expressed readiness to ensure the safety of the Russian military specialists operating on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

The U.S. is seriously miffed that the Russians are suddenly supporting the U.S. proxy in Syria’s north-east. The U.S. wants to claim the area for itself. (It probably also wants to protect the rest of ISIS there to reuse it when convenient.) The U.S. claims that the Russian air support for the Kurds is violating “coalition airspace”.

The U.S. is not invited to Syria but now claims airspace above the country? The Russians, allied with the Syrian government, are invited to fly there. It is obvious who has a sound legal justification to be in the area and who has not. But the U.S. military hates to confront its own malice, and a competent adversary who knows how to play chicken:

In one instance, two Air Force A-10 attack planes flying east of the Euphrates River nearly collided head-on with a Russian Su-24 Fencer just 300 feet away — a knife’s edge when all the planes were streaking at more than 350 miles per hour. The A-10s swerved to avoid the Russian aircraft, which was supposed to fly only west of the Euphrates.

Since American and Russian commanders agreed last month to fly on opposite sides of a 45-mile stretch of the Euphrates to prevent accidents in eastern Syria’s increasingly congested skies, Russian warplanes have violated that deal half a dozen times a day, according to American commanders. They say it is an effort by Moscow to test American resolve, bait Air Force pilots into reacting rashly, and help the Syrian Army solidify territorial gains ahead of diplomatic talks aimed at resolving the country’s nearly seven-year-old war.

ISIS is gone. There is no justification for any “coalition airspace”. Where please is the “deal” that allows the U.S. to indefinitely occupy north-east Syria as it now officially demands?

The Pentagon plans to keep some U.S. forces in Syria indefinitely, even after a war against the Islamic State extremist group formally ends, to take part in what it describes as ongoing counterterrorism operations, officials said.

There are approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, along with an unspecified number of contractors supporting them. Last month, the U.S. military withdrew 400 Marines from Syria, which U.S. forces first entered in the fall of 2016.

Officials earlier this week disclosed the plans for an open-ended commitment, known as a “conditions-based” presence.

The Pentagon has said the forces will target parts of Syria that aren’t fully governed by either regime or rebel forces. The military says it has the legal authority to remain there.

The U.S. military has lots of fantasies about “legal authority” and “deals”. We had already noted that such a “presence” in Syria is obviously illegal. The fig leaf of a UN resolution 2249 to fight ISIS no longer applies. Putin intentionally emphasized the “total rout of the terrorists” and the “complete” victory to point that out. There is absolutely no justification for the U.S. to stay. Moreover – the presence there is unsustainable.

The commander of the paramilitary forces which support the Syrian and Iraqi government sent a note to the U.S. to let it know that any remaining U.S. forces in Syria will be fought down:

[T]he commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp Brigadier General Haj Qassem Soleimani sent a verbal letter, via Russia, to the head of the US forces commander in Syria, advising him to pull out all US forces to the last soldier “or the doors of hell will open up”.

“My message to the US military command: when the battle against ISIS (the Islamic State group) will end, no American soldier will be tolerated in Syria. I advise you to leave by your own will or you will be forced to it”, said Soleimani to a Russian officer. Soleimani asked the Russian responsible to expose the Iranian intentions towards the US: that they will be considered as forces of occupation if these decide to stay in north-east Syria where Kurds and Arab tribes cohabit together.

In 1983 U.S. and French military barracks in Beirut were blown up after their forces had intervened on one side of the Lebanese civil war. Several hundred soldiers died. After the attack the U.S. pulled out of Lebanon. U.S. soldiers staying in north-east Syria can now expect a similar fate.

The U.S. claims that it has 2,000 soldiers in north-east Syria. This after it had claimed that the number was 500.  This new number was announced after it had already pulled out 400 marines and it is still way too low:

The updated figure does not reflect troops assigned to classified missions and some Special Operations personnel, Mr. Pahon said.

The U.S. had for months claimed that it only had 500 soldiers in the area. It did not even mention the contractors that follow its troops everywhere. The real number of U.S. personnal must have been ten times as high as the official one. The new official number is “2,000 and some”.  The real new number is likely still above 3,500 plus several thousand contractors. This revelation confirms again that the U.S. military lies whenever and wherever it can.

The now remaining “more than 2,000” will need tens of tons of supplies each day and the U.S. has no secured supply line into north-east Syria. It is arrogant idiocy to keep the troops there in place. A few roving guerillas can easily choke those supplies. Each of the camps those troops occupy will be a target of external and inside attacks.

The YPG Kurds are already skipping out of their coalition with the U.S.. They are now making friends with the Russians who provide them with air-support where the U.S. wants to keep ISIS alive. How much longer will the U.S. soldiers in the YPG controlled areas be able to trust their “allies”?

The Pentagon says that the presence in Syria is “conditions-based” but it does not name any condition that would have to be fulfilled for ending it. General Soleimani seems to believe that a few hundred body bags arriving at Andrews airbase near Washington, DC might be enough condition fulfillment to do the trick.

The situation in other parts of Syria is largely unchanged. The various Takifiri groups in Idelb governate continue to slaughter each other. The Syrian forces will likely hold back their planned attacks into the area as long as their enemies there are devouring each other. But a year from now Idelb, and north-east Syria, will likely be back in the Syrian government’s hand.

Posted by b on December 9, 2017 at 11:37 AM | Permalink

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/12/syria-isis-is-defeated-the-us-is-next-in-line.html

 update

Putin Orders Withdrawal Of Russian Forces From Syria

December 11, 2017

The Saker

On December 10, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Hezbollah launched a military operation in order to clear the desert area in eastern Syria from ISIS. According to pro-government sources, the SAA and Hezbollah liberated about 2,000 km in the area between the T2 pumping station and the city of al-Mayadin during the first day of the operation.

The US-led coalition believes that about 3,000 ISIS members remains in Iraq. If this is true, a notable part of them should hide in the Syrian desert. The liberation of this area will be an important part of the preparations for future anti-terrorist operations of the Iranian-Russian-Syrian alliance in Syria.

Recently, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) also resumed their efforts to take control over the border with Iraq sparking clashes with ISIS. According to the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq, members of ISIS captured three positions from the SDF around the village of Hawi Abu Hamam as well as killed 14 members of the SDF and destroyed a Humvee and another vehicle of the SDF. Amaq also claimed that a SDF member was killed by an IED and two others by ISIS snipers south of the Omar oil fields.

ISIS was forced to intensify its operations against the US-backed forces because its members had been locked in the Syrian border area as a result of an advance of the Iraqi Army and the Popular Mobilization Units on the Iraqi side of the border.

On December 10, the SAA and the National Defense Forces liberated the village of Zafaria, Tell Boulus, Umm Turaykiyah, Rujm al-Ahmar, Shutayb, Mushayrifah and al-Hawiyah from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in northeastern Hama. Thus, government troops deployed near the important village of Abu Dali, which is described as a mid-term goal of the SAA advance against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in the area.

According to pro-government sources, the Tiger Forces and their commander General Suheil al-Hassan will be the main striking force of the operation. Recently, Al-Hasan was spotted in the town of Khanassir.

Pro-HTS sources report multiple air and artillery strikes on positions of HTS across the entire area west of the Khanassir highway.

On December 8, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced said the situation in Idlib remains “complex” and Iran, Turkey, Russia and Syria are working to launch a de-escalation zone and added “there are no plans with the United States on this specific region” because they would be “counterproductive”. The statement indicates that nobody will take into account opinion of Washington about the so-called moderate rebels if the Syrian-Iranian-Rusian alliance launches a large-scale operation against HTS.

On December 11, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Russian military airbase of Khmeimim in the province of Latakia and ordered the start of the withdrawall of Russian troops from the country. The president added that if terrorists gain upper hand in the country, Russia will carry out strikes that “they’ve never seen.”

https://thesaker.is/syrian-war-report-december-11-2017-putin-orders-withdrawal-of-russian-forces-from-syria/

 

Trump Administration bows to reality, accepts Assad in power until 2021 – Media

December 12, 2017

South Front

 “Despite the deaths of as many as half a million people, dozens by chemical weapons, in the Syrian civil war, the Trump Administration is now prepared to accept President Bashar al-Assad’s continued rule until Syria’s next scheduled Presidential election, in 2021, according to U.S. and European officials. The decision reverses repeated U.S. statements that Assad must step down as part of a peace process,” the New Yorker wrote in the article entitled “Trump to Let Assad Stay Until 2021, as Putin Declares Victory in Syria” on December 11.

The New Yorker says that the US administration was forced to admit that it has limited options in Syria and the influence of the Damascus government backed by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia had grown significantly. In this situation, Washington “still wants a political process that holds the prospect of Assad’s departure. But it has concluded that it may take until 2021, when the next election is scheduled, to pull it off. Depending on the outcome of the 2020 U.S. election, Assad could still be in power after Trump leaves office. U.S. officials worry that Assad could win the 2021 Syrian election, one way or the other, and remain in power for years to come.”

As ISIS’s self-proclaimed Caliphate came to its end in Syria and Iraq even the mainstream media admits that something went wrong with the US plan to overthrow Assad in Syria, which had been originally supported by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and some other powers.

Now, when this plan is failed, Washington is in a dead end. On the one hand, it cannot officially accept Assad in power. On the other hand, he has no real options but accept Assad in power. Thus, the US will likely increase its efforts aimed at dividing of Syria through supporting the separatist intentions of the US-backed Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, which control a large part of eastern Syria. The goal of this strategy is to build a de-facto independent enclave within Syria. This enclave will be almost fully controlled by the US because without the American financial and military support it will be incapable of life.

https://southfront.org/trump-administration-bows-reality-accepts-assad-power-2021-media/

 

Trump justifies US strikes against Syrian Government Forces as ‘Lawful Measures’

December 12, 2017

South Front

US President Donald Trump has just justified US airstrikes on Syrian government forces as “lawful measures” to counter threats to US forces in the war-torn country.

The president wrote in a letter to the US Congress on December 11 that since the last periodic update report, the US Armed Forces participating in the anti ISIS campaign in Syria have undertaken “a limited number of strikes against Syrian government and pro-Syrian government forces.”

Trump added that the strikes “were lawful measures to counter immediate threats to the United States and partner forces engaged in that campaign.”

The US president just forgot to note that the US actions in Syria have never been authorized neither by the Syrian government nor by the UN. Furthermore, the Syrian government describes the US presence “illegal” and says that it’s “aggression.”

However, who cares when the democracy is in danger?

https://southfront.org/trump-justifies-us-strikes-against-syrian-government-forces-as-lawful-measures/

 

 

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