Some 150 Syrian rebels supported by Turkey arrived in the Idlib Province on Thursday to back up Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham in its ongoing battle with the official Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, rebel sources told Reuters. Tension gave way to open clashes between the two jihadist factions in late June after the al-Qaeda affiliate stormed into rival territory and began arresting militants and non-combatants, accusing them of collaborating with the Turkish Euphrates Shield operation, which sought to use Syrian rebels to secure parts of the Turko-Syrian border. While Euphrates Shield was officially concluded in May, the Turks and their proxy fighters still have a military presence in Northern Syria, even skirmishing with American-backed Kurds as recently as this week. The al-Qaeda affiliate’s current form, now known as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), was established less than a year ago out of several different rebel groups and has quickly become one of the largest, most powerful rebel factions operating in Syria (see the author’s translation of an Arabic language State Department memo on HTS published in March).
Authored by Nauman Sadiq vioa OrientalReview.org, According to a recent report by CBC Canada, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, which was formerly known as al-Nusra Front and then Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (JFS) since July 2016, has been removed from the terror watch-lists of the US and Canada after it merged with fighters from Zenki Brigade and hardline jihadists from Ahrar al-Sham and rebranded itself as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in January this year. The US State Department is hesitant to label Tahrir al-Sham a terror group, despite the group’s link to al-Qaeda, as the US government has directly funded and armed the Zenki Brigade, one of the constituents of Tahrir al-Sham, with sophisticated weaponry including the US-made antitank TOW missiles. The overall military commander of Tahrir al-Sham continues to be Abu Mohammad al-Julani, whom the US has branded a Specially Designated Global Terrorist with a $10 million bounty. But for the US to designate Tahrir al-Sham as a terrorist organization now would mean acknowledging that it supplied sophisticated weapons to terrorists, and draw attention to the fact that the US continues to arm Islamic jihadists in Syria. In order to understand the bloody history of al-Nusra Front during the Syrian civil war, bear in mind that since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in August 2011 to April 2013, the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front were a single organization that chose the banner of ‘Jabhat al-Nusra.’ Although al-Nusra Front has been led by Abu Mohammad al-Julani but he was appointed as the emir of al-Nusra Front by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, in January 2012.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 20, 2017.
Karl Marx famously said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. The only difference between the Afghan jihad back in the ’80s that spawned Islamic jihadists like the Taliban and al Qaeda for the first time in history and the Libyan and Syrian civil wars, 2011-onward, is that the Afghan jihad was an overt jihad: back then, the Western political establishments and their mouthpiece, the mainstream media, used to openly brag that the CIA provides all those AK-47s, RPGs and stingers to the Afghan so-called ‘freedom fighters’ to combat the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. After the 9/11 tragedy, however, the Western political establishments and corporate media have become a lot more circumspect, therefore this time around, they have waged covert jihads against the Arab-nationalist Gaddafi regime in Libya and the anti-Zionist Assad regime in Syria, in which Islamic jihadists (aka terrorists) have been sold as ‘moderate rebels’ with secular and nationalist ambitions to the Western audience. Since the regime change objective in those hapless countries went against the mainstream narrative of ostensibly fighting a war against terrorism, therefore the Western political establishments and the corporate media are now trying to muddle the reality by offering color-coded schemes to identify myriads of militant and terrorist outfits that are operating in Syria: such as the red militants of the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front, which the Western powers want to eliminate; the yellow Islamic jihadists, like Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, with whom the Western powers can collaborate under desperate circumstances; and the green militants of the Free Syria Army (FSA) and a few other inconsequential outfits, which together comprise the so-called ‘moderate’ Syrian opposition. If we were to draw parallels between the Soviet-Afghan jihad of the ’80s and the Syrian civil war of today, the Western powers used the training camps located in the Af-Pak border regions to train and arm Afghan ‘Mujahideen’ against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 18, 2017.
With Rex Tillerson on his way to Russia, moments ago Russian president Vladimir Putin shocked reporters when he said that Russia has received intelligence from “trusted sources” that more attacks using chemical weapons are being prepared on the Damascus region, meant to pin the blame on the Assad government. ‘We have reports from multiple sources that false flags like this one – and I cannot call it otherwise – are being prepared in other parts of Syria, including the southern suburbs of Damascus. They plan to plant some chemical there and accuse the Syrian government of an attack,’ he said at a joint press conference with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Moscow The Russian President announced that Russia will officially turn to the UN in the Hague for an investigation of the chemical weapons’ use in Idlib. Moscow has dismissed suggestions that the Syrian government that it backs could be behind the attack in Idlib province. “All incidents reminiscent of the ‘chemical attacks’ that took place in Idlib must be thoroughly investigated,” Putin said. Damascus denied the allegations, noting that the targeted area may have been hosting chemical weapons stockpiles belonging to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) or Al-Nusra Front jihadists.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 11, 2017.
With global sentiment turning against Syria again, and even president Trump yesterday saying his opinion on Syrian policy has changed (it was not immediately clear just how), on Thursday Syria’s foreign minister dismissed allegations that the Syrian Army deployed chemical weapons in the city of Idlib, saying the military will never use such weapons against its own people or even terrorists. As reported by AP, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem denied claims that the military used chemical weapons in the western city of Idlib. Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, Muallem said an airstrike by Syrian military had targeted an arms depot where chemical weapons stockpiles were stored by Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front militants. He said it’s impossible that the army – which has been making significant gains in almost all theaters of the Syrian war – would use banned chemical weapons against its ‘own people’ and even terrorists. Asked if Damascus would allow a fact-finding mission into the Idlib incident, Muallem said past experience of similar investigations was ‘not encouraging.’ He also said that he could not predict ‘the reality of US intentions’ in Syria. Muallem added that such a mission must not be politicized and must start its operations ‘from Damascus, not Turkey,’ apparently referring to the latest statements by Ankara condemning the incident, as well as the fact that some victims were taken to Turkey for autopsy.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Apr 6, 2017.
The Jabhat Fatah al-Sham organization (formerly the al-Nusra Front) claimed to be responsible for Monday’s murder of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov’s in Ankara. The terrorist group claimed responsibility via a letter which appeared on the Internet. The letter was written in Arabic. *** In its statement, the group said ‘one of the heroes of the Jaish al-Fatah, Mert Alt?ntas carried out the execution of Russian Ambassador Andrey Karlov in Ankara,’ because the world remains silent to what is taking place in Aleppo, no support comes to the Muslims in the Levant and for the victory of the Syrian people.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 21, 2016.
While the UN condemns Syrian and Russian “atrocities” in the battle over East Aleppo, which as noted previously was a key victory for the Assad regime in the past week, one which will end the stalemate and sway the balance of power in the ongoing war between regime forces and US-coalition armed rebels, little attention had been paid to the subversive tactics employed by such “moderate rebels” as the al Qaeda linked al-Nusra front. That may change after five buses en route to evacuate the sick and injured from two government-held villages in Syria’s Idlib province were attacked and burned by rebels. PHOTOS: Reports coming in that an "unknown rebel group" has attacked buses going to evacuate civilians from Kafraya and Fuah – @Ald_Aba pic.twitter.com/7xMPhumeu5 — Conflict News (@Conflicts) December 18, 2016
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 18, 2016.
Among the NATO allies decrying ‘war crimes’ in Syria, France is taking a lead role in the chorus denouncing Russia. The latest outburst comes from French President Francois Hollande who says he wants Russia charged with war crimes at the International Criminal Court. Just to rub it in and pretend to be all superior, Hollande is also demurring on cancelling a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin who is due in Paris next week. The US, Britain and France have all been banging on the rhetorical drums accusing Russia and its Syrian ally of gross violations. The alleged violations stem from the renewed military offensive to fully capture the city of Aleppo. But let’s be clear: the offensive is aimed at retaking the second most important city in Syria back from Western-backed terrorist proxies who have been holding the civilian population as hostages since 2012. The Syrian-Russian operation resumed after a ceasefire failed due to the Western-backed militants refusing to halt their attacks on the Syrian army, civilians and UN humanitarian aid convoys. The criminal nature of these militants – dominated by the al-Qaeda terror group al-Nusra Front – and their covert connections to Western governments have been well documented by informed media sources – albeit obfuscated by Western news outlets, so there is no need to delay here on qualifying that assessment.
In an exclusive interview with the BBC, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says his country believes the United States may be tacitly supporting jihadist rebels in Syria. He said the U.S. had broken a promise to help separate the the powerful Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra Front) and other extremist groups from more moderate rebels. He was speaking to Stephen Sackur on BBC World News TV on the first anniversary of the beginning of the Russian air campaign in Syria.
The text of the agreement was published on the site of the Russian Foreign Ministry. According to the Russia-U.S. deal on Syria, force can be used for self-defense during the ceasefire, while airstrikes use of mortars and rockets, as well as the capture of territory is prohibited. The main priority in Syria, according to the document, is the demarcation of territory controlled by Daesh and al-Nusra Front terrorist groups and territories controlled by Syrian rebels. Russia and the U.S. can exit the deal on Syria if it is not implemented, according to the text of the agreement. Commenting on the release of the document, the foreign ministry said that it had proposed to make the document public, however, Washington refused to do so. The move caused “some questions about whether the U.S. is sincere or not.” “The unwillingness to publicly confirm their commitment to separate opposition from al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, and jointly conduct strikes against terrorists and their partners in crime who did not cease hostilities called for special attention.”
It’s been nearly a year since one of Russia’s Su-24 fighter jets was shot down over Syria, sparking diplomatic tensions between Russia and Turkey. Now another Russian aircraft has been shot down by an unnamed rebel group. Though it doesn’t appear that Turkey was involved this time, the attack may turn into an international incident if it’s discovered that the rebels were backed and supplied by the US. The Mi-8 transport helicopter was shot down over the Idlib province on Monday, killing all five passengers, which included two officers and three crew members. According to General Sergey Rudskoy ‘The helicopter was hit from the ground in an area under control of the armed units of Al-Nusra Front terrorist group and the troops of the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ who joined them.’
Submitted by Nauman Sadiq is an Islamabad-based attorney, columnist and geopolitical analyst focused on the politics of Af-Pak and MENA regions, energy politics and Petroimperialism. Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, in August 2011, to April 2013, Islamic State and al-Nusra Front were a single organization that chose the banner of ‘Jabhat al Nusra.’ Although, the current al-Nusra Front is led by Abu Mohammad al Jolani but he was appointed as the Emir of al-Nusra Front by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, in January 2012. The current Al-Nusra Front is only a splinter group of Islamic State which split away from its parent organization in April 2013 over a dispute between the leaders of two organizations.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 29, 2016.
July 2016 – SYRIA – U. S.-backed rebels on Sunday accused fighters from al-Nusra Front of storming their headquarters in northwestern Syria and kidnapping their commander, along with dozens of other combatants. In a statement published online on Sunday, Jaish al-Tahrir (Army of Liberation) said its commander, Mohammad al-Ghabi, had been abducted from his father’s home in the town of Kafranbel by al-Nusra Front militants on Saturday evening. It said the group’s fighters had also ‘kidnapped more than 40 members of Jaish al-Tahrir’ and stolen weapons from other bases and checkpoints set up in northwestern Syria. ‘We call on al-Nusra Front to immediately release our commander and all the others who were kidnapped,’ the statement said, urging other Islamist groups to put pressure on the militants. The US is known to have directly supported Jaish al-Tahrir in the past with weapons and even salaries for individual fighters. Al-Nusra has attacked several US-backed groups in northwestern Idlib province, most recently raiding the warehouses of Division 13 in the town of Maarat al-Numan in March. In the summer of 2015, it kidnapped several members of US-trained rebel group Division 30 and requisitioned their weapons shortly after they entered Syria. Although they have faced fierce opposition from other groups within Syria, US-backed rebels have managed to achieve some success, this week seizing a huge cache of IS documents. Idlib province is controlled by the Army of Conquest, an alliance of Islamist and rebel fighters led by al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. Residents of towns like Maarat al-Numan and Kafranbel have demonstrated against al-Nusra’s hardline ideology.
In the wake of the horrible bombings in Brussels, Barack Obama is insisting that there is no need to change our approach in the fight against ISIS. He believes that Islamic terror is not a fundamental threat to our way of life, and he wants all of us to be convinced that the way that he is handling ISIS right now is just fine. Well, in this article you are going to learn some very shocking things about Obama and ISIS that are likely to make you very angry. It turns out that our allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey have been arming, funding and aiding ISIS and other radical jihadist groups such as the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in Syria), and Obama has known about it all along. The goal was to take down the Assad regime in Syria, and the American people were never supposed to find out the truth. Earlier today, Barack Obama told reporters that ISIS is not ‘an existential threat to us’ during a news conference down in Argentina. You can see video of him making these remarks right here. But at the same time, he is promising ‘to continue to go after’ ISIS until they are ‘finally destroyed’… The United States will ‘continue to go after ISIL aggressively until it’s removed from Syria and from Iraq and finally destroyed,’ Obama said, using another name for ISIS. ‘The world has to be united against terrorism,’ Obama said, adding that ‘that’s a top priority of ours.’ He added that ‘we can and we will’ defeat terrorism. So what precisely is Obama actually doing to pursue this ‘top priority’?
Naw, they’d never deceive us, right? They’d never take our weapons and turn them over to…… al-Queda… would they? Oh wait… It said one rebel unit had surrendered six pick-up trucks and ammunition to the al-Nusra Front this week – apparently to gain safe passage. Congress has approved $500m (323m) to train and equip about 5,000 rebels to fight against Islamic State militants.
Embattled Syrian president Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to RT yesterday, blasting covert American support for terrorism in Syria and throughout the middle east region. ‘For us, ISIS, al-Nusra, and all similar organizations which carry weapons and kill civilians are extremist organizations.’ Assad argued that Turkey is pouring Western-sponsored terrorism across the Syrian border and prolonging the violence, by delivering weapons, money and training. This synthetic terrorism is what is directly enabling both ISIS itself, and dubious organizations linked with violence on the al-Nusra front and inside the so-called ‘rebel’ groups fighting Assad in a Cold War 2.0 proxy war.
This post was published at shtfplan on September 16th, 2015.