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Russian and Turkish ministers meet for Syria talks

A place to talk about domestic politics in Middle East (Iran, Iraq , Turkey, Syria) Also includes topics about Assyrian, Armenian, Chaldean .

Russian and Turkish ministers meet for Syria talks

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Dec 20, 2018 12:58 am

ISIS RETURN: Islamic State kill 700 in terror horror

At least 5000 hard-line ISIS jihadists holed up in Syria and possibly countless supporters

ISIS is still causing terror and heartbreak in Syria as it desperately attempts to regain a foothold in the country.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday that Islamic State militants had executed nearly 700 prisoners in nearly two months in eastern Syria. The UK-based war monitoring group said the prisoners were among 1,350 civilians and fighters that Islamic State had been holding in territory near the Iraqi border.

The jihadists control a shrinking strip of land east of the Syria's Euphrates River around the town of Hajin, which U.S.-backed forces entered this month.

The Syrian Demoratic Forces (SDF), led by the Kurdish YPG militia, has battled Islamic State there for several months with the help of U.S. air power and special forces.

SDF commander-in-chief Mazloum Kobani said last week that at least 5,000 IS fighters remain holed up in the enclave, including many foreigners who appear ready to fight to the death.

Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate has crumbled after different offensives across Iraq and Syria, though its fighters still operate in the desert border region and mount attacks.

It comes as more than 200 mass graves containing the remains of thousands of people have been discovered in Iraq in areas formerly under the control of Islamic State (ISIS) militants according to the United Nations.

The UN firmly condemned the extremist group’s indiscriminate and widespread campaign of violence, which it says may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

The bodies found inside the graves are believed to be the victims of the radical Sunni group, who between June and December 2014 seized large swathes of northern Iraq and declared it part of their so-called “caliphate”.

The victims include women, children, the elderly and disabled, as well as members of Iraq’s armed forces and police, a UN report said.

Today the United States said it is considering a total withdrawal of U.S. forces from Syria as it nears the end of its campaign to retake all of the territory once held by Islamic State, U.S. officials said.

Such a decision, if confirmed, would upend assumptions about a longer-term U.S. military presence in Syria, which U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other senior U.S. officials had advocated to help ensure Islamic State cannot reemerge.

Still, President Donald Trump has previously expressed a strong desire to bring troops home from Syria when possible.

The timing of the withdrawal was not immediately clear and U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity did not disclose details about the deliberations, including who was involved. It was unclear how soon a decision could be announced.

The Pentagon and White House declined to comment.

The United States still has about 2,000 troops in Syria, many of them special operations forces working closely with an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, or SDF.

The partnership with the SDF over the past several years has led to the defeat of Islamic State in Syria but outraged NATO ally Turkey, which views Kurdish YPG forces in the alliance as an extension of a militant group fighting inside Turkey.

The deliberations on U.S. troops come as Ankara threatens a new offensive in Syria. To date, U.S. forces in Syria have been seen as a stabilizing factor in the country and have somewhat restrained Turkey's actions against the SDF.

A complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria would still leave a sizeable U.S. military presence in the region, including about 5,200 troops across the border in Iraq.

Much of the U.S. campaign in Syria has been waged by warplanes flying out of Qatar and other locations in the Middle East.

Still, Mattis and U.S. State Department officials have long fretted about leaving Syria before a peace agreement can be reached to end that country's brutal civil war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and displaced around half of Syria's pre-war population of about 22 million.

In April, Mattis said: "We do not want to simply pull out before the diplomats have won the peace. You win the fight - and then you win the peace."

Islamic State is also widely expected to revert to guerilla tactics once it no longer holds territory.

A U.S. withdrawal could open Trump up to criticism if Islamic State reemerged.

Trump has previously lambasted his predecessor, Barack Obama, for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq that preceded an unraveling of the Iraqi armed forces. Iraqi forces collapsed in the face of Islamic State's advance into the country in 2014.

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/10 ... irculation
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Russian and Turkish ministers meet for Syria talks

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Re: ISIS RETURN: Islamic State kill 700 in 2 month terror ho

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Dec 20, 2018 11:08 am

Only time will tell if Trump is right or wrong

Personally speaking, I believe the US has killed more than enough defenceless innocent people with it's bombs and missiles.

The US may refer to such losses as collateral damages and acceptable losses, I call it


    MURDER
The slaughter of innocent civilians must never be acceptable.

We all know the US, along with several other countries, supplied support to the militants and have done NOTHING to prevent arms reaching ISIS or remove Turkey's army of invasion

The biggest threat to Syrian stability now is Turkey's support of ISIS and were the US to remain in Syria, it would inevitability find itself involved in an armed conflict with Turkey


Why Trump's Syria withdrawal is the right move

President Trump’s order Wednesday to remove all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria should be seen and celebrated for what it is: a great victory over the ISIS terrorist group and the fulfillment of his pledge not to do nation-building

Trump campaigned for the White House on an unambiguous pledge to crush ISIS. Just one week into his presidency he ordered the Pentagon to develop a plan to “demolish and destroy” the group. Then U.S. and allied forces did just that.

Our militaries obliterated a jihadist force that sprung out of the vacuum of the Syrian civil war and once grew so large as to approach the outskirts of Baghdad in neighboring Iraq.

President Trump’s choice of retired Marine Gen. James Mattis as secretary of defense was pivotal. Mattis freed U.S. forces who had been fighting with one arm tied behind their backs, and contributed to major battlefield gains without a massive invasion.

Of course, ISIS stragglers still exist. Remember that Japanese holdouts were still coming out of the jungle to surrender long after World War II ended? But ISIS is kaput as an organized military and governing force in Syria and Iraq.

Now it is time to bring our military home. President Trump correctly tweeted: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

Of course, hawks will be upset. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the Senate’s leading interventionist, tweeted: “Withdrawal of this small American force in Syria would be a huge Obama-like mistake.”

    Now it is time to bring our military home. President Trump correctly tweeted: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

Trump’s top military adviser, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman and Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, tried to move the goal posts on the president earlier this month remarking: “With regard to stabilization, we have a long way to go.” He then claimed that only 20 percent of needed local forces in Syria had been trained.

But “stabilization” was never Trump’s goal, nor should it have been. Syria remains gripped in civil war, with government forces directed by Syrian President Bashar Assad consolidating steady gains.

Yes, it is lamentable that Assad is in cahoots with Iran and Russia. Certainly, President Trump was right to strike Syria with two major cruise missile attacks after the regime used chemical weapons.

However, replacing Assad would require a major Iraq-style war and inflict deep suffering on a people who have already been devastated by eight years of bloody conflict. Furthermore, anti-Assad forces have proved incapable of achieving lasting military victory and some are worse than Assad, including Al Qaeda elements.

Former President Obama famously said that “Assad must go,” but that was never our choice to make. And Assad has proved canny and resilient.

We should now engage with the villainous Assad, using statecraft to minimize his misconduct. We should strike him again if he crosses red lines over the use of chemical weapons or threatening our Middle East allies politically or militarily, but also create an avenue for postwar reconstruction for him that does not necessarily run through Moscow or Tehran.

As for President Trump, he has now placed in the history books a clear alternative to the neoconservatives’ incompetent never-ending war, as demonstrated in Afghanistan and Iraq. He knows that when we deploy our military we should accomplish a clear goal with strong force and then get out.

Perhaps the most important achievement in President’s Trump’s withdrawal will be the least heralded. By slowly moving away from fighting in backwaters stretching from Afghanistan to Libya, he can refocus more of our military power on America’s chief threat in the world: China.

While the massive national security complex in Washington longs for confrontation against familiar Middle Eastern foes and Russia, Trump, like the public, knows instinctively that our biggest challenge lies across the Pacific.
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Re: ISIS RETURN: Islamic State kill 700 in 2 month terror ho

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Dec 20, 2018 12:58 pm

The U.S. decision to withdraw from Syria will allow Islamic State to regroup at a critical stage in the conflict, Washington’s Kurdish partners said on Thursday, after Western allies expressed alarm at the sudden move.

In actual fact this is not a sudden move but a long expected one, that has been under discussion for some time

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of all U.S. troops would also leave Syrians stuck between “the claws of hostile parties” fighting for territory in the seven-year-old war.

Trump’s announcement on Wednesday upended a central pillar of American policy in the Middle East and stunned U.S. lawmakers and allies, who challenged the president’s claim of victory.
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Re: ISIS RETURN: Islamic State kill 700 in 2 month terror ho

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Dec 20, 2018 1:01 pm

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday defended his decision to declare victory over Islamic State and completely withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, saying he was fulfilling a promise from his presidential campaign.

    “Getting out of Syria was no surprise. I’ve been campaigning on it for years, and six months ago, when I very publicly wanted to do it, I agreed to stay longer. Russia, Iran, Syria & others are the local enemy of ISIS. We were doing their work. Time to come home,” he wrote on Twitter
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Re: ISIS RETURN: Islamic State kill 700 in 2 month terror ho

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Dec 20, 2018 1:07 pm

The U.S. president defended his decision on Thursday. In a series of tweets, Trump said he was fulfilling a promise from his 2016 presidential campaign to leave the Middle Eastern nation. The United States was doing the work of other countries, including Russia and Iran, with little in return and it was “time for others to finally fight,” he wrote.

The SDF, supported by roughly 2,000 U.S. troops, are in the final stages of a campaign to recapture areas seized by Islamic State militants.

But they face the threat of a military incursion by Turkey, which considers the Kurdish YPG fighters who spearhead the force to be a terrorist group, and possible advances by Syrian forces - backed by Russia and Iran - committed to restoring President Bashar al-Assad’s control over the whole country.

After three years of fighting alongside U.S. forces, the SDF said the battle against Islamic State had reached a decisive phase that required more support, not a precipitate U.S. withdrawal.

Western allies including France, Britain and Germany also described Trump’s assertion of victory as premature.

Officials said France will keep its troops in northern Syria for now because Islamic State militants have not been wiped out and pose a threat to French interests.

“For now, of course we are staying in Syria because the fight against Islamic State is essential,” Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau said.

France has about 1,100 troops in Iraq and Syria providing logistics, training and heavy artillery support as well as fighter jets. In Syria it has dozens of special forces, military advisers and some foreign office personnel.

A British junior defence minister said on Wednesday he strongly disagreed with Trump. “(Islamic State) has morphed into other forms of extremism and the threat is very much alive,” Tobias Ellwood said in a tweet.

PUTIN SEES NO PULLOUT YET

Islamic State declared a caliphate in 2014 after seizing large swathes of Syria and Iraq. The hardline group established its de facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqqa, using it as a base to plot attacks in Europe.

According to U.S. estimates, the group oversaw about 100,000 square kms (39,000 square miles) of territory, with about 8 million people under Islamic State control. It had estimated revenues of nearly $1 billion a year.

A senior U.S. official last week said the group was down to its last 1 percent of the territory it once held. It has no remaining territory in Iraq, although militants have resumed insurgent attacks since the group’s defeat there last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he largely agreed with Trump that Islamic State had been defeated in Syria, but added there was a risk it could regroup.

He also questioned what Trump’s announcement would mean in practical terms, saying there was no sign yet of a withdrawal of U.S. forces whose presence in Syria Moscow says is illegitimate.

Israel will continue to act “very aggressively against Iran’s efforts to entrench in Syria,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

Neighbouring Turkey, which has threatened an imminent military incursion targeting the U.S.-allied Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria, has not commented directly on Trump’s decision, although an end to the U.S.-Kurdish partnership will be welcomed in Ankara.

Kurdish militants east of the Euphrates in Syria “will be buried in their ditches when the time comes”, state-owned Anadolu news agency reported Defence Minister Hulusi Akar as saying.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Turkey has intervened to sweep YPG and Islamic State fighters from parts of northern Syria that lie west of the Euphrates over the past two years. It has not gone east of the river, partly to avoid direct confrontation with U.S. forces.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-midea ... OJ0TT?il=0
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Re: Syria: we must prevent militant groups receiving weapons

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Dec 20, 2018 1:31 pm

France says Islamic State not wiped from map, troops to remain

PARIS (Reuters) - France will keep its troops in northern Syria for now because Islamic State militants have not been wiped out and continue to pose a threat to French interests, officials said

France is a leading member of the U.S.-led coalition fighting militants in Syria and Iraq and has around 1,000 troops including special forces based in the north of the country, deployed alongside local Kurdish and Arab forces.

French diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw all its 2,000 troops from the region had taken Paris by surprise. U.S. officials justified the decision by saying Islamic State had been entirely defeated.

“It shows that we can have different priorities and that we must count on ourselves first,” Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau told C-News television. “For now, of course we are staying in Syria because the fight against Islamic State is essential.”

France is especially sensitive to the Islamic State threat after several major attacks on its soil in recent years. Hundreds of French nationals have joined the group in Syria.

Defence Minister Florence Parly acknowledged on Twitter that the militant group had been weakened and lost some 90 percent of its territory, but said the battle was not over.

“Islamic State has not been wiped from the map nor have its roots. The last pockets of this terrorist organisation must be defeated militarily once and for all,” she said.

President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Trump on Wednesday, diplomats said. In April, when Trump previously announced a U.S. withdrawal, Macron persuaded the U.S. leader that Washington should stay engaged by citing the threat of Iran in the region.

French officials are scrambling to find out from U.S. agencies exactly what Trump’s announcement means. The United States has been unclear on when the troops will be withdrawn.

“We’re used to it now with the Trump administration. The devil is in the detail,” said one French diplomat.

Republicans blast Trump's Syria troop pullout

France has about 1,100 troops operating in Iraq and Syria providing logistics, training and heavy artillery support as well as fighter jets to strike targets.

Its presence in Syria also includes dozens of special forces, military advisers and some foreign office personnel.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-midea ... OJ0TT?il=0
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Re: Syria: how many militant groups are still fighting there

PostAuthor: Piling » Thu Dec 20, 2018 6:26 pm

This sudden withdrawal is betraying Kurds AND French as Brits. USA army has all the logistic part so now UK and France are naked on the ground beside Kurds.

Former president Sarkozy made enter France in NATO. Time to a military FREXIT X(
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Re: Syria: how many militant groups are still fighting there

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Dec 20, 2018 7:24 pm

Much of the problem stems from the fact that Turkey, part of NATO, has invaded Syria

Turkey is a supporter of ISIS and other militant groups

The USA also supported some militant groups

France and UK are part of NATO

Nobody knows exactly how many groups and splinter groups are fighting in Syria

Or which groups/countries all the various groups are allied to
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Re: Syria: how many militant groups are still fighting there

PostAuthor: Piling » Fri Dec 21, 2018 7:32 pm

Kurdish representatives of Syria meet French officials today. Let's see what France will answer.

France and UK are direct targets of ISIS, not USA. So Kurds could hope they stay.
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Re: Syria: how many militant groups are still fighting there

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Dec 22, 2018 3:00 am

Mattis resignation triggered by phone
call between Trump and Erdoğan


The resignation of US defence secretary James Mattis was triggered by a phone conversation between Donald Trump and the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, in which Trump abruptly decided to upend previous US policy and withdraw troops from Syria, according to new accounts of the call

Mattis went to see the president on Thursday afternoon in a last-ditch attempt to change the president’s mind, and argue for standing by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which have take the lead role in ejecting the Islamic State from its Syrian strongholds.

Mattis had already composed a resignation letter that did not mention the SDF or Syria but repeatedly referred to the importance to US national security of respecting allies, and confronting strategic adversaries.

Trump rebuffed Mattis’s arguments over the course of a 45-minute meeting. Trump had already recorded a video in the White House garden, announcing he was bringing the troops home, and it had been shown to Mattis.

At the end of the meeting Mattis took Trump by surprise by presenting his resignation letter. According to the New York Times, Mattis ordered 50 copies to be made and circulated around the Pentagon on his return to his office.

Accounts in the US and Turkish press of the Friday call between Trump and Erdoğan show the volatile US president complying with the Turkish leader’s demands and taking his own advisers by surprise.

It is the latest example of a pattern in which Trump tends to side with authoritarian foreign leaders, over the advice of US officials.

Trump has also ordered the withdrawal of half the 14,000 US military presence in Afghanistan, but it is the decision over Syria which appears to have precipitated Mattis’s decision to leave office.

“As soon as the US folds its tent and leaves, Turkey will immediately begin an air bombardment followed by a ground attack by the [Ankara-backed] Free Syrian army. Thousands will die, thousands will be displaced and will be given no haven within Syria. They will be turned away at the Turkish border,” said David Phillips, a former senior state department official, and the author of the new book: The Great Betrayal: How America Abandoned the Kurds and Lost the Middle East.

“For more than three and a half years, they have been our boots on the ground and were the point of the spear in retaking [the Isis stronghold] Raqqa,” Phillips, now at Columbia University, said. “Who is going to fight for us in the future when we throw our allies under the bus?”

Mattis’s colleagues had previously said he was determined to stay on despite multiple differences with Trump to safeguard the interests of the armed services, and in the words of one former Pentagon employee “serve the constitution”.

According to a version of events in the Associated Press, the US position going into the call was to demand that Turkey stall a planned offensive into Syria aimed at US-backed Kurdish elements of the SDF, which Ankara sees as indistinguishable from the Kurdish insurgency inside Turkey.

“The talking points were very firm,” one of the officials quoted by the Associated Press said. “Everybody said push back and try to offer [Turkey] something that’s a small win, possibly holding territory on the border, something like that.”

Erdoğan responded by saying that Isis had been 99% defeated.

“Why are you still there?” Erdoğan demanded, according to the account.

With the Turkish leader still on the line, Trump asked the same question of his national security adviser, John Bolton, who repeated US policy until then, that the defeat of Isis had to be “enduring”, preventing the possibility of a resurgence.

To the surprise of Bolton and Erdoğan, Trump instantly sided with the Turkish president.

According to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, whose account is similar to the Associated Press’s, Trump declared: “OK – do it.” Not hearing an instant response from Bolton, Trump demanded to know whether his national security adviser was still on the line. When Bolton said he was, Trump ordered: “Start the work.”

Bolton and his Turkish counterpart, Ibrahim Kalin, were left to sort out the details.

The Hurriyet report said the initial timetable for US withdrawal was between 30 and 60 days, which was later extended to up to 100 days.

Such an abrupt withdrawal would leave the SDF vulnerable to Turkish attack. Observers said it gave the SDF little choice but to try to reach deal with the Assad regime, in an effort to safeguard some Kurdish autonomy.

Mattis and other US national security officials sought to change Trump’s mind over the weekend, without success. US allies such as the UK and France, who have small special forces contingents in northern Syria engaged in the fight against Isis, were not consulted, and only found out about the policy change on Monday through informal contacts with US officials.

Mattis had begun his tenure at the Pentagon with good relations with Trump, who admired his martial bearing and one of his nicknames, “Mad Dog”.

However, the relationship soured and Mattis resisted several of Trump’s defence policies including the ban on transgender troops, the creation of a space force and the staging of an extravagant military parade in Washington, based on French Bastille Day parades.

Mattis had also restrained Trump from his initial impulse of threatening to leave the Nato alliance if US allies did not spend more on defence. His resignation letter focuses on the US reliance on its alliances for its security.

“My views on treating allies with respect and also being clear-eyed about both malign actors and strategic competitors are strongly held and informed by over four decades of immersion in these issues,” Mattis said, before making it clear he no longer believed the president shared those convictions.

“Because you have the right to have a secretary of defence whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” he said. The letter offers no words of praise for the president.

Mattis’s departure shocked some of Trump’s most loyal backers in Congress. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, warned the chamber would only confirm a replacement who held the same views as Mattis on the importance of alliances.

Mac Thornberry, the Republican chair of the House armed services committee, expressed regret at Mattis’s departure and said: “Reducing the American presence in Afghanistan and removing our presence in Syria will reverse that progress, encourage our adversaries, and make America less safe.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/201 ... phone-call
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Re: Syria: Did Trump pull out due to conversation with Erdoğ

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Dec 23, 2018 4:38 am

6,000 civilians trapped by ISIS in Hajin, UN warns

The United Nations is concerned about an estimated 6,000 civilians trapped by ISIS in Hajin.

“We are of course aware of continuing reports of intense fighting in and around Hajin enclave, with estimated 6,000 civilians trapped by Da’esh in desperate conditions,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, told Rudaw’s Majeed Gly on Friday.

“Sustained access to civilians displaced by ongoing hostilities in the immediate vicinity of the Hajin area has remained very challenging,” he added.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) broke the back of ISIS defences in Hajin last week, after weeks of stalemate, but are fully in control of only 35 percent the town, estimated SDF spokesperson Mustafa Bali on Friday.

And ISIS is fighting to regain territory. The SDF forces came under an intense attack by militants in Hajin’s Abu Khatr village, said Bali. The Kurdish-led forces were defending themselves against ISIS car bombs and heavy weapon fire, with the aid of coalition air support.

The civilians are caught in the middle. Conflict monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the deaths of 200 civilians in the last month of fighting in eastern Deir ez-Zor province.

Some 1,700 civilians were able to flee the town as the SDF advanced, but the militants also executed more than 700 of its prisoners when it was under military pressure.

Civilians who do escape are sheltering in makeshift circumstances and Dujarric said they have difficulty accessing the IDPs as “the area remains largely inaccessible due to current instability.”

The UN's warning and ongoing intense clashes firmly contradict US President Donald Trump’s recent claim that he “defeated ISIS in Syria.”

The International Crisis Group (ICG) said that Trump’s announcement and order to pull American troops out of Syria “may have given it [ISIS] a new lease on life.”

A “military free-for-all” if ISIS has the space to regroup and Turkey has the freedom to attack the SDF, will “have devastating humanitarian consequences,” ICG warned

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/211220182
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Re: Syria: 6,000 civilians trapped by ISIS in Hajin, warns U

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Dec 24, 2018 3:00 pm

Turkey masses troops near Kurdish-held town in northern Syria

Buildup comes despite Ankara saying it would delay offensive after US pullout announced

Turkey is massing troops near a town in northern Syria held by a Kurdish-led force backed by the US, a war monitor and Turkish media have said.

The buildup comes despite Ankara saying it would delay a promised offensive in eastern Syria in the wake of Donald Trump’s surprise announcement on Wednesday to withdraw US troops from the country, which it welcomed.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has vowed to dislodge the Kurdish militia, which Ankara sees as an extension of the insurgency within its borders. The US has worked with the militia to drive Islamic State out of Syria since 2014, and the alliance had soured relations between Ankara and Washington.

A deal reached in June according to which US and Turkish troops would patrol the area around the Syrian town of Manbij allayed some of Turkey’s fears, but Ankara says the US and the Kurdish militia failed to live up to their end of the deal and that it will launch an offensive against it. Turkey already has troops in north-western Syria and has backed Syrian fighters there clearing towns and villages of Isis militants and Kurdish fighters.

The Turkish IHA news agency reported on Sunday that a Turkish commando unit had been sent into Syria overnight.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the reinforcements were sent to the Manbij frontline, where US troops have been based. It said 50 vehicles had crossed into Syria carrying troops and equipment.

The spokesman for the Kurdish-led Manbij Military Council, Sharfan Darwish, said Turkish reinforcements had arrived in the area. “We are taking necessary measures to defend ourselves if we are attacked,” he said.

A spokesman for the Turkey-backed Syrian opposition group said the continued buildup of Turkish and allied forces was to prevent Syrian government troops from taking advantage of the tension in the area to seize territory.

Youssef Hammoud accused the Kurdish militia of reaching out to the Syrian government to replace US troops if they withdraw.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/ ... hern-syria
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Re: Turkey masses troops near Kurdish town in northern Syria

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Dec 24, 2018 9:34 pm

KCK: US withdrawal from Syria
will not weaken the struggle


Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council Co-presidency released a statement on US President Trump’s decision to withdraw troops from Syria as the fight against ISIS continues

The statement evaluates the plans behind the decision and possible consequences, calling for the raising of fight against the occupiers relying on self-strength.

Full text of the KCK statement reads as follows:

"The fact that the Turkish state's threats against West Kurdistan and northern Syria are part of a plot is evident in the US withdrawal decision from Syria. The Syrian policy of the Turkish state reveals the political, economic and social decline of the Turkish state in the face of the struggle of the Kurdish freedom movement.

A rescue operation for the Turkish state

While the Turkish state has entered a process of collapse against the freedom struggle of the Kurdish people, a plot against the Rojava revolution has been set up as a rescue operation for the Turkish state. Germany and the US have made every effort to prevent the economic collapse of Turkey. In order to support Turkey politically, the US has offered a bounty on three leading cadres of the Liberation Movement. All these acts are operations to rescue the AKP-MHP fascist government from the economic and political crisis caused on Turkey by the struggle given by the Kurdish people and democratic powers.

On the other hand, the democratic system that has been established in northern Syria by the Kurdish, Arab, Syriac and all the peoples of the region has hindered the success of Turkey's Syrian and Middle East policies. The Turkish state has suffered such a profound defeat with its jihadist militias in Syria that it now tends towards occupying Northern Syria as a way out, but into an even deeper swamp.

The plans for the east of the Euphrates

TEV-DEM has evaluated the US decision to withdraw from Syria to be a call for Turkish occupation, and exposed some plans being planned.

It is understood that in addition to the effort to build up some collaborative Arab groups east of the Euphrates, there is also a plan to activate in a few cities some collaborative Kurdish structures that have also taken part in the occupation of Afrin. Evaluations of Rojava democratic society structure expose the US withdrawal to be in line with such a dirty plan.

However, such plans and plots have been in effect for years, but could never manage to derail the democratic-revolutionary path in northern Syria. On the contrary, the Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian, Syriac, Circassian, Turkmen, Druze and Armenian peoples have, in accordance with the principles of a democratic nation, created a democratic unity and further strengthened the revolution.

Withdrawal and invasion will strengthen the revolution

The occupation attacks of the Turkish state and the US withdrawal will further increase the people's resolve to resist and strengthen the revolution. The interventions of external powers have made it harder for the democratic forces to fight on the basis of internal dynamics. In this sense, the US withdrawal will result in all democratic forces achieving and strengthening their true resilience dynamics. The democratic revolution of northern Syria will reach a new potential.

The democratic revolution in Syria was caused to misguide

The democratic revolution in Syria was distorted by the struggle of external forces in its character. In this way, all external forces and inhuman gangs such as ISIS have prevented the struggle of the peoples of Syria from taking its original direction. The democratic revolutionary forces, misguided within Arab society, will return to the true course of the democratic-revolutionary struggle in Syria. In particular, the democratic-revolutionary dynamics within Arab society that were misguided together with the intervention of the Turkish state, will play an active role in the impending phase of the democratic revolution and the building of Syria's unity.

The new balances will make the occupation fail

The revolution of Rojava and the democratic revolutionary forces in Syria have entered the stage of history without the help of external forces. They have developed a democratic revolution and struggle for freedom. In this sense, the US withdrawal will not weaken the democratic-revolutionary struggle in Syria. On the contrary, it will cause the policy of the Turkish state, which seeks to establish a political rule over Syria through the US presence and is built on external forces, to collapse.

The militia designated today as FSA came under the control of Turkey with the support of the US. The US has prevented the attack of Russia and Syria on Idlib, where jihadists have merged. In this sense, despite the fact that the US has opened the way to Turkish state’s occupation of northern Syria by withdrawing its troops, the new emerging balances will lead to a failure of the Turkish invasion.

Iran is clear that Turkey has joined forces with the United States

Although Turkey is still manifesting fraudulent approaches towards Iran, Iran has the political experience of knowing that Turkey has joined forces with the US against its policies. It is clear to Russia, Iran and Syria what the militias, which Turkey wants to station east of the Euphrates, mean to themselves. Turkey’s use of some collaborative forces, such as in the occupation of Afrin, will bring Syria's instability to a new level.

The retreat will make the democratic dynamics even more visible

The US withdrawal has made it even clearer that the system built by the democratic-revolutionary forces in northern Syria is the most important factor for stability and peace in Syria. In this sense, US withdrawal of troops has enabled the democratic dynamics in Syria to be seen with their true dimension.

The emergence of this reality will make the revolution of Rojava, which emerged without the support of external powers, and the democratic forces of Syria even more effective.

The Turkish desire for destruction of the revolution will not be fulfilled in the dream

Turkey's plan to influence the Arabs in northern Syria with the support of the US and some other forces and to destroy the Rojava revolution with a few collaborating Kurds will not be fulfilled in a dream.

If the PDK gets involved in Turkey's game, it will lose

If the PDK gets involved in the game of the hostile Turkish state and acts hostile to the Rojava revolution, it will lose itself. The PDK should fulfill its role in creating a Kurdish unity and strengthen the democratic system in northern Syria. It should not get involved in the machinations of Turkey and should not be involved in the occupation plans. The US should also not participate in this plan hostile to the Kurds and other peoples of northern Syria.

The US should give up its complicity role

The US wants to pull itself out of Syria in order not to fall into a similar hopeless situation as Turkey, however, they should not bring themselves with their anti-Kurdish policy in a much more difficult situation. The US should neither be accomplices in the invasion of the Turkish state nor participate in machinations against the free and democratic Kurdish forces.

The democratic system of peoples must be respected

The revolution implemented by the peoples of northern Syria and Rojava is based on a strong yearning for freedom and democracy, as well as a great social force. Because it builds on Abdullah Öcalan's model of a democratic nation, so it cannot be destroyed by external pressure, conspiracy or occupation. No one should even dream of reversing or destroying the Rojava revolution. If you want stability, peace and democracy in Syria, you have to respect the democratic and liberal system that the peoples have built up. The revolution in Rojava and northern Syria not only laid the foundation for Syria's democratic unity, it also gave hope to the Middle East and the entire Arab people to build a self-confident democratic society and end the nightmare of oppression and cruelty.

The population of northern Syria has more than ten thousand killed and at least twice as many injured in the fight against ISIS, and has become the conscience of entire humanity today, which means becoming the most powerful society in the world. It is not possible to defeat a popular power that became the conscience and honor of the world.

Not only the US, but all forces must withdraw from Syria

Not only the US, but all forces, above all Turkey, must withdraw from Syria. The essential force that sabotages the stability, peace and brotherhood of peoples in Syria today and aggravates the problems is the Turkish occupation state. Thus, the peoples of the Middle East and Syria, as well as all humanity, should take a stand against the fascist Turkish state and fight for an end to the occupation of Syria, including Afrin.

The greatest threat to democratic unity is the fascist AKP MHP government

At the moment, the fascist AKP/MHP regime poses the greatest threat to the democratic unity of Syria. Without the intervention of the Turkish state, the peoples of Syria, based on the principles of a democratic nation, would both maintain their unity and ensure the democratization of Syria. Democratization is the only way to achieve the unity of Syria.

The Turkish state opposes democratization to prevent the unity of Syria and to continue its pressure and intervention on Syria by taking advantage of the resulting weakness.

All those who want a unity of Syria must therefore fight together against the Turkish state on the basis of democratization and create an independent, democratic Syria. We urge that all democratic dynamics of Syria and the Syrian government to come to terms on the democratization of Syria and to build a free democratic Syria in which all peoples have self-government.

We will provide any support against attacks

At the moment, the unity of the Kurdish, Arab, Syriac and other identities according to the principles of a democratic nation is the greatest achievement of the democratic revolution in Syria. We call for the expansion of the unity of peoples originated in northern Syria throughout Syria to strengthen not only the unity of Syria, but the whole of the Middle East. As the Kurdish Freedom Movement, we emphasize again that we support this unity and state that we are ready for any support and intervention in the event of an attack against it.

We call on the Kurds and all other peoples of Northern Syria to increase the resistance against invaders with the awareness that peoples’ conscience and honor is the biggest power, and to build Democratic Syria on the basis of democratic and free Syria. We reiterate that we always stand by our people in all parts of Kurdistan.”
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Re: US withdrawal from Syria will not weaken the struggle

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Dec 24, 2018 10:06 pm

Turkey-backed rebels 'move forces' near Kurdish-held areas

Syrian rebels deploy fighters and armoured vehicles ahead of expected Turkish operation, a pro-Turkish commander says

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters have sent reinforcements to the front line along the northern Syrian areas controlled by Kurdish fighters, Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency reported on Monday, days after Washington took an unexpected decision to withdraw troops from the war-torn country.

The Hamza Division, a part of the Syrian rebels supported by Turkey, dispatched fighters and armoured vehicles to the border between the areas controlled by the Kurdish People's Protection Forces (YPG) and the Syrian regime, Abu Yazan, a commanding officer, told the agency.

He said the troops will take up important tasks during an expected Turkish military operation in the northern Syrian border city of Manbij.

"Our units headed out to contact regions" controlled by the YPG, Abu Yazan said.

A Turkish operation in Syria is expected to target some of the areas under the control of YPG fighters, who Ankara considers to be terrorists.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his threats to target Kurdish fighters as he sent more troops to the border with Syria ahead of an imminent US withdrawal.

The US has an estimated 2,000 US troops in Syria.

Turkey was in Syria "to return the freedom of our Arab brothers and sisters, to return the freedom of our Kurdish brothers and sisters", Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara.

A Turkish military convoy arrived overnight on Monday at the border with Syria, with local media reporting that some vehicles had entered Syria, AFP news agency reported.

In the past two years, Turkey has conducted two offensives into northern Syria, dubbed "Euphrates Shield" and "Olive Branch".

Surprising decision

US President Donald Trump's surprise decision to withdraw forces from Syria on Wednesday has created shock among members of the US Congress, including Republicans, as well as among Washington's Western allies.

Erdogan's spokesman said on Monday that US military officials will come to Turkey this week to discuss coordination on Syria.

Washington has for years supported the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in Syria.

A senior Syrian Kurdish official said they were reaching out for help to protect the Kurdish-administered areas against a possible Turkish offensive following the US withdrawal.

"We will deal with whoever can protect the good and stability of this country," the Associated Press news agency quoted Ilham Ahmed as saying on Monday.

Ahmed reportedly said they were in talks with Russia, the Syrian government and European countries to discuss ways to deal with the US withdrawal - without elaborating further.

SDF delegation in Moscow

Meanwhile, a delegation of the SDF arrived in Moscow on Monday for talks.

Pavel Felgenhauer, a military analyst, said that Syrian Kurds are likely to turn to Moscow and Damascus after US forces leave the region.

"[Syrian] Kurds have a longtime relationship with Russia. They have an unofficial embassy in Moscow. They are likely to turn to Russia and possibly the Syrian regime for protection," he told Al Jazeera from Moscow.

When the US forces leave, Russia, Turkey, the regime and Iran will try to carve a solution that determines who gets to control the oil-rich Deir Az Zor region, the border and other areas.

Ankara claims the YPG is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged attacks on Turkish soil since the 1980s as they sought autonomy.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/ ... 31699.html
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Re: US withdrawal from Syria will not weaken the struggle

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Dec 24, 2018 11:22 pm

Syrians React To US Winding Down ISIS Mission In Syria
By Ruth Sherlock

President Trump says it's time to pull U.S. ground troops out of the fight against ISIS there. The announcement surprised a lot of people, including his military advisers. How do people in Syria feel?

NOEL KING, HOST:

Last week, President Trump announced his decision to withdraw U.S. ground troops from Syria. He said ISIS has been defeated. NPR's Ruth Sherlock is in northeastern Syria, where U.S. troops have been operating. She's been talking to people on the ground who will be directly affected by this decision. Hi, Ruth.

RUTH SHERLOCK, BYLINE: Hi.

KING: So you arrived there just as word hit about President Trump's decision to withdraw about 2,200 troops. What have people been telling you in these towns that you're visiting?

SHERLOCK: There's a deep sense of betrayal here. So we've been driving around these towns. And in these places, you can clearly see the U.S. military bases that are dotted across this landscape. There are these sprawling complexes with mud banks to fences and watchtowers.

In one town near a base, we met Haji Haider (ph). He's a blacksmith by trade. This area used to be controlled by ISIS, and he's lived through all of the offensive to push them out. It was these local Kurdish troops working with the U.S. military that pushed ISIS out. And people here feel angry that the U.S. is leaving now.

HAJI HAIDER: (Through interpreter) Because all this job - all the war that they did together, and now they are leaving this quickly. You don't understand it. And people are afraid. He said that, like, it seems like people - they just - they sell this country.

SHERLOCK
: So the U.S. allies here - this Kurdish militia - basically formed the ground force that fought ISIS, and they lost thousands of men and women on these front lines. In another town, we met a man who said he lost seven people - all of them young, in their 20s - fighting ISIS.

KING: So is it fair to say that the Kurds, our allies, are very upset about this decision?

SHERLOCK: Yeah. They're really trying to get a handle on the news. We've spoken to senior Kurdish military officials and spokesmen, and they say that they first learned of the troop withdrawal on television in the news.

So they're angry, but they're also saying that there are serious implications to this. Kino Gabriel is a spokesman for the U.S.-backed militia, the SDF. And he's worried that this decision will actually allow ISIS to expand again.

KINO GABRIEL: I think a lot of people gave their lives in this fight. And I think it would be a big lose to throw everything they have sacrificed for. And everything - I think it's going to be - to go in vain if we allowed ISIS to re-emerge.

SHERLOCK: He believes that the U.S. withdrawing essentially leaves the Kurdish authorities who control this part of Syria exposed to new threats. And they're going to have to redirect troops against those instead of fighting the remaining pockets of ISIS.

KING: Let's talk about the new threats to the Kurds because Turkey is threatening to attack the Kurds there. What are Kurds telling you about that?

SHERLOCK: Yeah. Well, this is their main concern, even more so than ISIS. Turkey sees the Kurds in this area as being aligned with terrorists, and they've been moving troops to the border. So the Kurds are trying to look at options for stopping this offensive.

KING: Do the Kurds have any options or backup plans to make up for the loss of U.S. support? Anyone else they can call on?

SHERLOCK: They said that all options are on the table. At the moment, they're trying to reach out to all sides. They've been talking to their Western allies, France in particular. And then also, on the other side of the civil war in Syria, reaching out to the Syrian regime.

You know, this is an oil-rich part of the country, and the regime wants to take back control. The Kurds say they might be open to striking some kind of deal.

And one Kurdish military official we spoke to said they would even be willing to coordinate with Syrian troops in an offensive against Turkey, should Turkey try to invade.

https://www.npr.org/2018/12/24/67976487 ... n-in-syria
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