Less than three months after the US launched 49 cruise missiles at a Syrian airbase in early April, allegedly in retaliation for a chemical attack conducted by Assad forces, in an ominous statement issued with no supporting evidence or further explanation, on Monday night the White House warned that the U. S. has ‘identified potential preparations for another chemical weapons attack by the Assad regime’ in Syria and warned that Assad would ‘pay a heavy price’ if one took place. Such an attack ‘would likely result in the mass murder of civilians, including innocent children,’ White House (outgoing) spokesman Sean Spicer added, noting the activity is ‘similar to preparations the regime made before its April 4, 2017 chemical weapons attack.’ ‘As we have previously stated, the United States is in Syria to eliminate the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. If, however, Mr. Assad conducts another mass murder attack using chemical weapons, he and his military will pay a heavy price,’ the White House added on Monday night. According to AP, a non-governmental source with close ties to the White House said the administration had received intelligence that the Syrians were mixing precursor chemicals for a possible sarin gas attack in either the east of south of the country, where government troops and their proxies have faced recent setbacks. Further quoted by AP, several State Department officials typically involved in coordinating such announcements said they were caught completely off guard by the warning, which didn’t appear to be discussed in advance with other national security agencies, perhaps an indication of just how powerful the Deep State has become under Trump. Typically, the State Department, the Pentagon and U. S. intelligence agencies would all be consulted before the White House issued a declaration sure to ricochet across foreign capitals.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 27, 2017.
If ISIS is retreating in Mosul, it is rapidly advancing in Manchester. The Caliphate is winning its war in Europe. Six months ago in Britain, the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, the ultra-pacifist Labour party leader who blamed the “war on terror” for the recent attacks in Manchester and London, would have been unthinkable. As the Caliphate razed to the ground everything in its path, Europe reacted as if that were just the result of regrettable manners that should not concern her. The Islamists, however, had other plans. “Why, in August 2015, did ISIS need to blow up and destroy that temple of Baalshamin? Because it was a temple where pagans before Islam came to adore mendacious idols? No, it was because that monument was venerated by contemporary Westerners, whose culture includes an educated love for ‘historical monuments’ and a great curiosity for the beliefs of other people and other times. And Islamists want to show that Muslims have a culture that is different from ours, a culture that is unique to them”. – Paul Veyne, archeologist. The Islamic State is crumbling — if too slowly. More than two years have passed since French President Franois Hollande promised, “We will bomb Raqqa“. Sooner or later, ISIS will probably be reduced to a small enclave with no territorial continuity, and its chief, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, will be eliminated. It would, nevertheless, be most dangerous to dismiss these three years as a short parenthesis: Nazism did not last as long: “just” 12 years in power and five at war with the rest of Europe. The physical and cultural consequences of the Nazi tyranny are, unfortunately, still visible in Europe. The same will be said of the Islamic State. Three years of terror and conquests are not bad in for a war between the Caliphate vs. everyone else.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 21, 2017.
A short video claims to have captured the daring rescue of a little girl in Mosul Iraq who was caught in the line of fire. During a hail of gunfire, David Eubank, a former US Special Forces operator-turned aid worker, was captured on video making the daring rescue. According to Bizpac Review, the incident took place in the embattled northern Iraq city of Mosul, which is on the verge of being freed from ISIS control. Of course, it’s also an area in which US-led coalition forces admitted to using white phosphorus to achieve this imminent ‘defeat.’ Eubank, who formed the Free Burma Rangers, an aid group that delivers medicine, supplies and humanitarian support where other organizations cannot go, is seen spotting a little girl among the bodies of dozens of civilians who were allegedly cut down by Islamic State snipers as they tried to flee the fighting. *There are images of dead bodies and sounds of gunfire in this video; it may be disturbing to some viewers. The video is only 30 seconds long.
The shooting down of a Syrian fighter jet by US forces this week comes on the back of several aggressive actions by American military on the ground. Taken together the US actions mark an alarming escalation of intervention in the Syrian war – to the point where the Americans can be said to be now openly at war against Syria. The American military actions also come despite repeated warnings from Russia against such unilateral deployment of force. Following the shoot-down of the Syrian SU-22 fighter bomber this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced the American violence as an act of flagrant aggression against a sovereign state. Some Russian lawmakers such as Duma foreign affairs chief Alexei Pushkov went further and condemned it as an act of war by the Americans. Of course, Washington’s logic is riddled with absurdity. To claim that its forces are acting in self-defense overlooks the glaring reality that the US-led military coalition has no legal mandate whatsoever to be in Syria in the first place. Its forces are in breach of international law by operating on Syrian territory without the consent of the government in Damascus and without a mandate from the UN Security Council. Another absurdity is the claim that the US forces are protecting militants whom they are supposedly training to fight the Islamic State terror group (ISIS). On at least three occasions over the past month, American military have carried out air strikes on Syrian government forces and their allies near a strategically important border crossing between Syria and Iraq. The Americans claim that the Syrian government forces were posing a threat to a military base at Al Tanf on the Syrian side of the border where they are training militants belonging to a group called Maghawir al Thawra.
Incident on the #ChampsElysees. Heavy police presence and witnesses say they saw a car catch fire. One man on the ground pic.twitter.com/b5mQ9nYeQa — Melissa Bell (@MelissaBellCNN) June 19, 2017
Update: FRENCH INTERIOR MINISTER GERARD COLLOMB SAYS CHAMPS-ELYSEE CAR CONTAINED EXPLOSIVES, DRIVER DEAD Additionally, according to AFP, a Kalashnikov, handguns and gas bottles were found in the Champs-Elysees car. More from AP: France’s interior minister says that a driver who rammed a car carrying explosives into a police convoy on the Champs-Elysees avenue has died after the ‘attempted attack’ on security forces. Gerard Collomb told reporters near the scene Monday that the man’s motives weren’t immediately clear. Bomb squad officers are the scene on the city’s most famous avenue, which is popular with tourists. It was the second major incident on the avenue this year. An attacker defending the Islamic State group shot and killed a police officer on the Champs-Elysees in April, days before a presidential election, prompting an extensive security operation.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 19, 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.
You American bastards just shot down my cousin's aircraft (Ali) while taking out the scumbags of ISIS in the area. Ali hope you are OK bro pic.twitter.com/z6IKFgbtqJ — Majd Fahd (@Syria_Protector) June 18, 2017
Update: U. S. Central Command issued a statement saying the plane was downed “in collective self-defense of Coalition-partnered forces,” identified as fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces near Tabqah. It is unclear if these particular “forces” were getting their funding from Saudi Arabia or Qatar. And a quick situational take from Worldview: A U. S. Navy fighter jet shot down a Syrian government Su-22 fighter jet on June 18 that had dropped bombs on Syrian rebel forces fighting the Islamic State in Syria, ABC News reported. The U. S.-led coalition said in a statement that its focus is on fighting the militant group, and not fighting the Syrian government or Russian forces, but it will defend coalition forces coming under attack. The incident occurred in a town south of Tabqa, Syria, which had been retaken from the Islamic State by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish and Arab rebel forces, in preparation for the offensive on the stronghold of Raqqa.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 18, 2017.
Two days after Trump ceded unilateral authority on Afghan troop deployments to the Department of Defense, the Pentagon wasted on time and according to AP, the Pentagon will send 4,000 additional American forces to Afghanistan to support existing forces and in hopes of breaking a stalemate in a war that has now been passed on to a third U. S. President. The deployment will be the largest of American manpower under Donald Trump’s young presidency. According to AP, the decision by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis could be announced as early as next week, and was prompted by “the rising threat posed by Islamic State extremists, evidenced in a rash of deadly attacks in the capital city of Kabul, has only fueled calls for a stronger U. S. presence, as have several recent American combat deaths.” Asked for comment, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said, ‘No decisions have been made.’ Trump’s decision Tuesday to give Mattis authority to set force levels in Afghanistan mirrored similar powers he handed over earlier this year for U. S. fights in Iraq and Syria. The change was made public hours after Sen. John McCain, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Republican chairman, blasted Mattis for the administration’s failure to present an overarching strategy for Afghanistan. McCain said the U. S. is ‘not winning’ in Afghanistan, and Mattis agreed.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 16, 2017.
There have been allegations that US-led coalition forces in Raqqa, Syria were using white phosphorous in civilian populated areas. Although is was denied, the United States is now admitting to using white phosphorous in Mosul, Iraq. Witnesses claimed to have seen the white phosphorous, which has a distinct look to it. Images and reports from witnesses in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa suggest that the United States-led coalition battling the Islamic State there has used munitions loaded with white phosphorus, the use of which in populated areas is prohibited under international law. Photographs and video clips posted online showed blinding spots of light spreading outward on Thursday night over what residents said was eastern Raqqa. By day, the images showed low white puffs trailing tentacles of white smoke. Both are typical visual signatures of white phosphorus, which can be loaded into artillery shells. -The Daily Sheeple
Civilians still living in Raqqa have endured appalling barbarism under renegade control by the Islamic State caliphate for years, only to be duly punished by the U. S.-led coalition’s bombing campaign against the militants – the latter apparently so indiscriminate, U. N. war crimes investigators now say it has caused ‘staggering loss of life.’ Coalition bombing of the Islamic State (Daesh) has support of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – an alliance of Kurdish, Arab, and other fighters aligning with the secondary U. S. mission of ousting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad – which has seized territorial control around the embattled city from every direction but the south. But intensive fighting and rapid succession of bombs have precipitated treacherous conditions for civilians in Raqqa – forcing no less than 160,000 to hastily evacuate homes in self-preservation. According to the BBC, ‘Up to 4,000 militants are believed to be holed up inside Raqqa, including foreign fighters and various senior figures. ‘It is unclear how many civilians are trapped there with them, but UN officials estimated that there are between 50,000 and 100,000.’
President Donald Trump has has given the Pentagon unilateral authority to set troop levels in Afghanistan, the WSJ and Reuters reported overnight, clearing the way for the military to intensify its fight against the Taliban and opening the door for future troop increases requested by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. While no immediate decision had been made about the troop levels, which are now set at about 8,400, the Pentagon is currently weighing plans to send between 3,000 and 5,000 additional troops. The news comes after Mattis said in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee that “We are not winning in Afghanistan right now. And we will correct this as soon as possible.” Mattis said the Taliban were “surging” at the moment, something he said he intended to address. The decision is similar to one announced in April that applied to U. S. troop levels in Iraq and Syria, and came as Mattis warned Congress the U. S.-backed Afghan forces were not beating the Taliban despite more than 15 years of war. After the official announcement control over troop decisions to the Pentagon, expected to be announced on Wednesday, sets the stage for U. S. commanders to decide to reverse course in Afghanistan and begin sending more forces to the country after years of reductions in the hope that Kabul could handle internal threats on its own, the WSJ notes. According to the WSJ, the White House decision to cede authority to Mr. Mattis is another reflection of Mr. Trump’s push to give the military wide latitude around the world. The White House has already given the Pentagon more power to carry out strikes in Yemen and Somalia. Mr. Trump removed a cap on troop levels in Iraq. And he approved Pentagon plans to send more U. S. troops and firepower into Syria to fight Islamic State.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 14, 2017.
New reports are now showing that United States-led forces used white phosphorous around the city of Raqqa in Syria. As entire nations creep toward a third world war, the continued uptick in tensions between countries is hardly comforting. Images and reports from witnesses in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa suggest that the United States-led coalition battling the Islamic State there has used munitions loaded with white phosphorus, the use of which in populated areas is prohibited under international law. Photographs and video clips posted online showed blinding spots of light spreading outward on Thursday night over what residents said was eastern Raqqa. By day, the images showed low white puffs trailing tentacles of white smoke. Both are typical visual signatures of white phosphorus, which can be loaded into artillery shells. White phosphorous is also said to ‘burn to the bone.’ Similar to Napalm, the chemical substance is used in shells and grenades. It ignites spontaneously at around 30 degrees Celcius to produce an intense heat and thick pillars of smoke. Weapons experts warn that when used as an incendiary, it can result in painful chemical burns. These injuries can often prove fatal. Further problems are then escalated because the substance can stick to clothing or on the skin and continues to burn unchecked as particles are exposed to air.
In what the Syrian Army General Command called a ‘turning point’ in the conflict, the Syrian army and allied forces reached the border with Iraq on Friday, where for the last several weeks they have attempted to link up with allied fighters in the neighboring country. ‘This achievement constitutes a strategic turning point in the war on terror and a base for expanding the military operation in the desert and across the borders with Iraq and to tighten the noose on what’s left of the IS terror groups,’ the General Command said in a statement. The statement also spoke of the risks of continued attacks by the U. S. and U. S.-trained rebels on Syrian military positions, warning they hinder advances against the Islamic State. On three separate occasions in the last 30 days, American warplanes struck Syrian-allied militias maneuvering near the border crossing in the town of al-Tanf. This time, the fighters avoided the U. S.-held area near the town and successfully reached the border with Iraq.
Iran vowed to take revenge for Islamic State attacks in its capital on Wednesday and hinted that it may hold Saudi Arabia responsible, risking an escalation of the feud that’s divided the oil-rich Gulf region into increasingly hostile camps. Islamic State said it carried out the suicide-bomb and gun attacks that killed at least 12 people at Iran’s parliament and the shrine of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, a site of political and religious importance for Iran’s Shiite Muslim population. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps promised retribution for the ‘innocent blood spilled’ in the first such strike by the jihadists in Iran. And, the Guards said, Iranians won’t fail to note that the violence came soon after U.S. President Donald Trump met with ‘leaders of a reactionary government in the region which supports terrorists’ — an apparent reference to the Saudis. The contest between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the region’s main Sunni power, has helped fuel wars in Syria and Yemen. It spread to the heart of the Gulf this week as the Saudis led a drive to isolate Qatar, blaming their neighbor for ties with Iran and militant groups, and closing its land border. Trump, who endorsed the Saudi pressure while other U.S. officials appealed for calm, visited the kingdom last month and joined King Salman in calling for a united front against Iran and jihadism. ‘Today’s attack adds to cross-Gulf tensions that already had been elevated by the Trump trip — in which anti-Iranism was a principal theme — and by the Iran angle in the actions taken against Qatar,’ said Paul Pillar, a professor at Georgetown University in Washington and former CIA officer. Saudi and Iranian leaders blame each other for sponsoring militant groups. The Saudis point to Iranian support for Hezbollah and Hamas, while Iran says Saudi preachers and financial support aided the rise of al-Qaeda and Islamic State.
One day after a pro-Assad military alliance threatened to strike US forces in Syria in retaliation for a US bombing of an Iran-backed militia operating in an allegedly “no-go zone” near a US garrison in southern Syria, near the town of At Tanf, the Syrians allegedly followed through on their promise, and according to Reuters, a pro-Syrian regime armed drone attacked U. S.-led coalition forces in Syria, for which it was promptly shot down in what the Pentagon dubbed “a major escalation of tensions between Washington and troops supporting Damascus.” The armed drone “hit dirt” and there were no injuries or damage done to the coalition patrol in southern Syria, but U. S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the U. S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State, told reporters the drone meant to attack them and dismissed the possibility it had fired a warning shot. “This clearly showed a threat even if it were a warning shot; it was something that showed a hostile intent, a hostile action and posed a threat to our forces because this drone still had munitions that were still on it,” Dillon said and added that “it was the first known time that pro-Syrian government forces had fired at coalition forces in that region.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 8, 2017.
Iran’s infamous Revolutionary Guards accused Saudi Arabia of being behind the twin terrorist attacks in Tehran, which killed 12 and left at least 39 injured, and have vowed “revenge.” Earlier in the day, a group of four people in women’s clothes opened fire in the building of the Iranian Parliament, with a subsequent explosion. Another attack involving an explosion took place near the Imam Khomeini shrine. One of the perpetrators of the attack was detained and the rest were executed. “This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the U. S. president (Donald Trump) and the (Saudi) backward leaders who support terrorists. The fact that Islamic State has claimed responsibility proves that they were involved in the brutal attack,” said the statement, published by Iranian media.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 7, 2017.
U.S. and Russian officials have quietly stepped up contacts in recent weeks to try to advance a deal on the creation of a safe zone in southern Syria, Al-Monitor has learned. The talks included a meeting in Jordan in late May, a former diplomat from the region said on condition of anonymity. Russia, Iran and Turkey negotiated the creation of four zones aimed at de-escalating tensions between Bashar al-Assad’s forces and the armed Syrian opposition in early May, and the Donald Trump administration is now trying to see what role the United States can play. ‘Last week, the Americans and Russia met in Jordan with the Jordanians to discuss these zones in the south,’ the former diplomat said. ‘The meeting in Jordan was one part where the U.S. and Russia, Israel and Jordan can work together to have de-escalation zone in the south of Syria.’ The United States is particularly concerned that any deal over the future of Syria preserves the stability of its close allies Israel and Jordan. Israel for its part has said it would not tolerate an Iranian presence on its border with Syria. The source said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is “in charge of dealing with Russia” amid allegations that the Trump presidential campaign conspired with Moscow. The former diplomat said Brett McGurk, the U.S. special presidential envoy to the global coalition against the Islamic State, and U.S. Syria envoy Michael Ratney participated in the Jordan talks. Neither official responded to queries.
Virtually nobody saw it coming. Late on Sunday night, the Saudi-led alliance of Gulf Arab states including Egypt, shocked the world when they announced they had severed ties and closed borders with one of the Gulf’s wealthiest, if smallest, neighbors Qatar, a (now former) member of the Gulf Cooperation Council in what we called a “geopolitical earthquake” and what Bloomberg dubbed “an unprecedented move designed to punish one of the region’s financial superpowers for its ties with Iran and Islamist groups in the region.” *** As we noted first last night, just days after president Trump left the region, a “geopolitical earthquake” took place in the Middle East as the rift between Qatar and other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council exploded with Bahrain, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt cutting all diplomatic ties with Qatar accusing it of “spreading chaos,” by funding terrorism and supporting Iran. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt all said they will suspend air and sea travel to and from the Gulf emirate. Saudi Arabia will also shut land crossings with its neighbor, potentially depriving the emirate of imports through its only land border. Saudi Arabia cited Qatar’s support of ‘terrorist groups aiming to destabilize the region,’ including the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic State and al-Qaeda. It accused Qatar of supporting ‘Iranian-backed terrorist groups’ operating in the kingdom’s eastern province as well as Bahrain. Saudi Arabia, along with Bahrain and the U. A. E., gave Qatari diplomats 48 hours to leave.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 5, 2017.
As an ISIS-inspired insurgency rages in the country’s south, Philippines’ authorities are assuring the public that an attack on a luxury resort in Manila that left more than three dozen dead wasn’t an act of terrorism, but was, in fact, a robbery. A gunman armed with a “baby armalite” rifle burst into the Resorts World Manila casino on Friday and started firing off shots and setting gaming tables alight on Friday, authorities said, before making his way to the back of the casino where he stole several million dollars’ worth of gambling chips. Most of the dead suffocated on the thick smoke, according to Reuters. However, despite authorities assurances, the high death toll and brazen nature of the attack suggest that terrorism may have been the underlying motivation. US terrorism monitor the Site Intelligence Group said an Islamic State-linked Filipino operative claimed ‘lone wolf soldiers’ of ISIS were responsible for the attack, according to the Guardian. “All indications point to a criminal act by an apparently emotionally disturbed individual,” Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for Duterte, told a news conference. “Although the perpetrator gave warning shots, there apparently was no indication that he wanted to do harm or shoot anyone.” The gunman killed himself in his hotel room after being shot and wounded by resort security, police and Resorts World management said. A second “person of interest” who was in the casino at the time was cooperating with the investigation, Reuters reported.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 2, 2017.
As an ISIS-inspired insurgency rages in the country’s south, Philippines’ authorities are assuring the public that an attack on a luxury resort in Manila that left more than three dozen dead wasn’t an act of terrorism, but was, in fact, a robbery. A gunman armed with a “baby armalite” rifle burst into the Resorts World Manila casino on Friday and started firing off shots and setting gaming tables alight on Friday, authorities said, before making his way to the back of the casino where he stole several million dollars’ worth of gambling chips. Most of the dead suffocated on the thick smoke, according to Reuters. However, despite authorities assurances, the high death toll and brazen nature of the attack suggest that terrorism may have been the underlying motivation. US terrorism monitor the Site Intelligence Group said an Islamic State-linked Filipino operative claimed ‘lone wolf soldiers’ of ISIS were responsible for the attack, according to the Guardian. “All indications point to a criminal act by an apparently emotionally disturbed individual,” Ernesto Abella, a spokesman for Duterte, told a news conference. “Although the perpetrator gave warning shots, there apparently was no indication that he wanted to do harm or shoot anyone.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 2, 2017.