Syrian President Basher al Assad with
Russian President Vladimir Putin
By Les Blough
Axis of Logic
Russia’s decision to enter the war against the Islamic State and other terrorists in Syria on October 1 was the culmination of the growing threat against its integrity and independence. Really, this has been building ever since NATO violated its commitment not to expand East during negotiations for the reunification of Germany. Russia’s decision to defend Syria from Western aggression has also been an extremely well-planned response to the tearing apart of Syria on Russia’s border over the last 5-7 years by foreign terrorists.
First, let’s place the current war on Syria in it’s historical context:
Syria: From Colonization to a Democratic Secular State
Stepping away from the canvas for a broader look we see that Syria has been targeted by the West since the end of WWI, beginning with the British-Arab assault in October, 1918, followed by the San Remo conference in 1920 when Syria and Palestine were placed under French and British control respectively. In 1920, the French assaulted and occupied Damascus, possibly the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. In 1922, the French broke Syria up into 3 parts which remained until World War II when Germany defeated France. But its troops returned to occupy Syria again with the British military in 1941. It wasn’t until 1946 that the last French troops left Syria and for the next 25 years the country was subjected to internal struggles under Arab rulers as a member of the United Arab Republic.
In 1971, when Hafez al-Assad was elected president for a 7 year term, Assad dropped the constitutional requirement that Syria’s president must be a Muslim, creating the secular state that we see today. In 2000, Assad died and Syrians elected his son, Bashar Hafez al-Assad as their president to two successive 7 year terms in 2000 and 2007. In 2014, among a field of other presidential candidates, Syrians elected Assad president again for his third term in office. The EU and US then began in earnest their war-by-proxy in Syria, leading up to the country being ripped apart for the last 5 years by the Islamic State and other foreign terrorists who have been supported by the US, Israel, Turkey and their Arab clients, Saudi Arabia among others. Five years of the west’s demands for “regime change” failed and Russian President Vladimir Putin initiated aerial attacks on the terrorists, supporting the Syrian army upon President Assad’s request for help.
- US current policy for today’s Syria began in January 2002, when US President George W. Bush listed Syria as a member of “The Axis of Evil”, along with Iran, Iraq and North Korea. Undersecretary for State John Bolton declared that Damascus was acquiring weapons of mass destruction, the same claim, proven false, that was made to justify the war on Iraq.
- In October 2003, Israel bombed a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus, a military aggression in Syria as stated by President Assad.
- In May, 2004 the US imposed economic sanctions on the country, claiming that it supported terrorism.
- In September 2007, Israel again attacked Syria, this time claiming without evidence that it destroyed a nuclear site.
- In September, 2008, President Assad hosted a four way meeting with France, Turkey and Qatar to build peace in the Middle East. At the time, there was an explosion on the outskirts of Damascus and President Putin identified the bombers as Islamist militants.
- In May 2010, the US renewed its sanctions against Syria, making new claims of government oppression.
- In March 2011, violent attacks on military and police intensified in the southern city of Deraa and security forces responded, killing some of the assailants. But the western media claimed they killed peaceful protestors. President Assad responded by lifting the state of emergency, announcing conciliatory measures with genuine Syrian protestors and released dozens of prisoners.
- In May 2011, the government sent Army tanks into 3 cities and suburbs of Damascus to stop violence and announced amnesty for the Syrian protesters who had committed crimes against the state. The US and EU responded by increasing economic sanctions.
- In June 2011, 120 members of government security forces were killed in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughour and the government responded with force against the terrorists and pledged to start a national dialogue on reform, but only with Syrians.
- In July 2011, President Assad removed the governor of the northern province of Hama, who instigated mass riots. He then sent in troops to restore order in the province.
- In October 2011, the self-proclaimed Syrian National Transitional Council, based in Turkey, declared that it represented the “Syrian opposition”. The Western media called them “activists.”
- In December 2011, two suicide bombers attacked security buildings in Damascus killing 44, the first of a series of attacks that continued into the following summer. The US and the Western Media began to claim that the Assad government was killing civilians.
- In July, 2012 the newly invented “Free Syria Army” assassinated three military chiefs in Damascus and seized the city of Aleppo in the north.
- In November 2012, Israel attacked Syrian artillery units near the Golan Heights.
- In December, 2012, US, Britain, France, Turkey and Gulf states officially declared that the “opposition” was the “legitimate representative” of the Syrian people, that President Assad must resign and the government be dissolved.
- In January 2013, Israeli jets attacked a military research center near Damascus, targeting an Iranian commander for assassination.
- In March 2013, the Syrian Air Force carried out missile attacks on terrorists who had gained control of the northern city of Raqqa.
- In June 2013, the Syrian government recaptured the town of Qusair and the terrorists complained that they were not receiving enough arms from their foreign sponsors.
- In October 2013, President Assad invited international inspectors to begin destruction of old stores of chemical weapons following earlier accusations that the government had been using them on their own people. Removal of these weapons was completed in June 2014.
- In August and September 2014, the Islamic State gained more control while the US and its Arab allies began bombing some of them.
- From September 2014 forward, the US continued bombing some of the terrorists, while arming and training others they claimed were “moderate rebels.”
- On September 16, US Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of US Centcom, publicly admitted that their $500 million program to train and equip 5,400 terrorists to overthrow the Syrian government was “a total failure” and that “all but 4 or 5” of the terrorists under their command had defected and turned over their US-supplied weapons and equipment to the Islamic State.
- On October 1, 2015, Russia launched it’s aerial attacks in support of Syrian ground forces Assad to eradicate the Islamic State and all allied terrorists from Syria.
Defining Terms and the Weapon of Confusion
For years we have held that the imperialists have responded to the dangers of the internet by flooding it with terminology and conflicting stories, even within their own news and opinion reports. Intentional confusion is a tactical weapon used in the media war, persuading the public that nothing can be believed. The terms Islamic State (IS), ISIS, ISIL, Al Nusra, Al Queda, rebels, ‘moderate’ rebels, Islamic extremists, mercenaries and terrorists are mixed and matched by the western media to suit their latest fabrications. The names for them in the western media are enough to make our heads spin and the average person who lacks the time or interest quickly loses track of who’s who in the West’s view of the world of terrorism. In this report, we consider all those who carry out violent attacks on the Syrian government as terrorists but we’ll adopt the commonly used names, “Terrorist” and “Islamic State” which the latter in fact, is a subterfuge that falsely links the terrorists to Muslims and the Religion of Islam.
President Bashar al-Assad
“Western countries are using terrorism as an instrument of control”
“From the beginning it was clear to us that there were foreign hands behind terrorism in Syria.”
President Assad thinks that the US-led coalition against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is ineffective because the West does not want to defeat terrorist groups. In fact, it wants to preserve the balance between the warring sides to “perpetuate the process of erosion in Syria and Iraq and, later, other countries of the region, so that we all remain weak for decades and maybe generations.”
“From the beginning it was clear to us that there were foreign hands behind terrorism in Syria. How can the United States and its allies fight terrorism or ISIS in Syria and Iraq while their closest allies in the government of Erdogan and Davutoglu are supporting terrorists and enabling them to cross the borders and bring weapons, money and volunteers through Turkey? Since the US-led coalition was formed, terrorism expanded geographically and its recruits multiplied. God willing it [Syria, Iran and Hezbollah] will be able to defeat terrorism which is a new instrument for subjugating the region.”
“It must succeed. Otherwise, the whole region, not only one or two countries, will be destroyed. [Russia nor the Soviet Union in the past] “ever tried to impose anything on Syria, especially in this crisis,” stressing that unlike the US, Russia is against interference, hegemony, and violations of the UN Charter.
President Assad also said, as he has many times in the past, that he’s ready for political dialogue with all Syrians but not with foreign powers,
“Any talk about the political system or the officials in this county is an internal Syrian affair. When the Syrian people decide that a certain individual should stay, he will stay; and when the Syrian people decide that he should go, he will go immediately. If my departure is the solution, I will never hesitate to do that. From the beginning it was clear to us that there were foreign hands behind terrorism in Syria.”
In this interview, President Assad said he thinks that the US-led coalition against the terrorists in Syria has been ineffective because the West doesn’t really want to defeat terrorist groups; rather it wants to preserve the balance between the warring sides to “perpetuate the process of erosion in Syria and Iraq and later other countries of the region, so that we all remain weak for decades and maybe generations.”
-excerpts from Habar TV Interview, Iran
Prelude to a Military Campaign
During the West’s most recent aggression against Russia’s neighbors, Putin patiently waited, studied their movements, and prepared a systematic response that included sequential steps which led to Russia’s military action during the last 5 days and continuing. Here we take a look at President Putin’s diplomatic process leading up to the current military campaign.
8 Sequential Actions to an Effective Battle
1. Right Action
The first thing the trained eye sees in Vladimir Putin’s strategy is the influence of Eastern philosophy. One important quality that sets it apart from western strategies and tactics is his patience – his ability to wait and observe – before arriving at the right time to take concrete action. From Eastern Philosophy we learn that sometimes the most effective action is “no action,” or “action in mindfulness” also known as “right action.” During times of “right action” the need for overt action sometimes evaporates and other times leads to timely praxis. In the case of Ukraine and Syria, patience and waiting paid off for Putin as the bizarre schemes of arming & funding terrorists in Syria finally ground down to an embarrassing and bloody failure with the CIA losing control of it’s mercenaries as they defected to the groups that Washington was pretending to fight. Putin is also master of martial arts and has learned the related philosophy of Jujitsu, the skill of manipulating the opponent’s force against himself rather than confronting it with his own. The US and their allies fighting against Syria fell under their own weight.
President Putin Paves the Way with Foreign Countries: In New York on September 4, President Putin spoke to the UN General Assembly of the need for an international coalition to fight terrorism:
“We really want to create some kind of an international coalition to fight terrorism and extremism … To this end, we hold consultations with our American partners — I have personally spoken on the issue with U.S. President Obama.”
Putin’s Travels: During the last 8 months, Putin has laid groundwork to build that “international coalition” by extending his diplomacy in visits to at least 20 foreign officials and heads of state in Egypt, Ukraine, France, Germany, Hungary, Armenia, Italy (Milan, Rome, and Vatican City), Azerbaijan, Belarus, Turkey, China, Tajikistan, and the United States. In November, he plans to visit Turkey for the G-20 Leader’s Meeting and to the Philippines for the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting. In 2014, Putin visited more than 60 foreign officials and heads of state in their countries. During the last 20 months of travel, he repaired relationships, cemented trade deals, and prepared foreign leaders for Russia’s military action in Syria that began 7 days ago.
Putin’s Visitors: During the same period of time, foreign officials and Heads of State beat a path to Putin’s door from more than 30 countries, many US allies or client states, among them Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Abu Dhabi (AEU), Japan, Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, France, Israel, Palestine, United States, and China.
It’s commonly known that President Putin has opposed the US policy of “regime change” and in principle he has consistently stood by Bashar al-Assad as the legitimate president of Syria while the West vilified Assad and demanded his removal. Putin consistently declared that foreign intervention in any sovereign state violates international law according to the Geneva Convention and UN Charter. While his Syrian friends bled, he stated that Russia would only intervene if invited to do so by the legitimate Syrian government, sending a signal to Syria. President Assad secretly responded by asking Russia for support in its war against the terrorists. John Laughland, Director of Studies, Institute of Democracy and Cooperation (IDC) in Paris indicated that the key difference between the Russian and Western campaigns in Syria is that Moscow officially has been askedfor help by Damascus, unlike the US who “neither waited for the Syrian government to ask for help, nor had a mandate from the UN.”
Below we shall see how public confirmation of Assad’s secret letter of invitation to Putin triggered action that moved forward at warp speed.
4. President Putin’s Address at the United Nations
70th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
In his speech before the UN General Assembly, President Putin spoke of international law, state sovereignty, instigated coups, anarchy, terrorism, restoring statehood where it’s been destroyed, the Cold War mentality, economic cooperation; unilaterally imposed sanctions circumventing the UN Charter, used to eliminate market competition; the rise of economic selfishness, the imposition of “new game rules, deliberately tailored to accommodate the interests of a privileged few,” the task of creating an equal and indivisible security environment that would not serve a privileged few, but everyone.” We encourage everyone to read Putin’s entire speech and watch the video of his address. But here we provide excerpts that pertain to our topic, Russia’s military action during the last 7 days.
President Vladimir Putin delivering his historic address
at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly
Russian President Vladimir Putin:
“We all know that after the end of the Cold War the world was left with one center of dominance, and those who found themselves at the top of the pyramid were tempted to think that, since they are so powerful and exceptional, they know best what needs to be done and thus they don’t need to reckon with the UN, which, instead of rubber-stamping the decisions they need, often stands in their way.
“Of course, the world changes, and the UN should also undergo natural transformation. Russia is ready to work together with its partners to develop the UN further on the basis of a broad consensus, but we consider any attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the United Nations as extremely dangerous. They may result in the collapse of the entire architecture of international relations, and then indeed there will be no rules left except for the rule of force. The world will be dominated by selfishness rather than collective effort, by dictate rather than equality and liberty, and instead of truly independent states we will have protectorates controlled from outside.
Learning from Past Mistakes
“We should all remember the lessons of the past. For example, we remember examples from our Soviet past, when the Soviet Union exported social experiments, pushing for changes in other countries for ideological reasons, and this often led to tragic consequences and caused degradation instead of progress.
“It seems, however, that instead of learning from other people’s mistakes, some prefer to repeat them and continue to export revolutions, only now these are “democratic” revolutions. Just look at the situation in the Middle East and Northern Africa already mentioned by the previous speaker. Of course, political and social problems have been piling up for a long time in this region, and people there wanted change. But what was the actual outcome? Instead of bringing about reforms, aggressive intervention rashly destroyed government institutions and the local way of life. Instead of democracy and progress, there is now violence, poverty, social disasters and total disregard for human rights, including even the right to life.
“I’m urged to ask those who created this situation: do you at least realize now what you’ve done? But I’m afraid that this question will remain unanswered, because they have never abandoned their policy, which is based on arrogance, exceptionalism and impunity.”
Flirting with Terrorists
“In fact, the Islamic State itself did not come out of nowhere. It was initially developed as a weapon against undesirable secular regimes. Having established control over parts of Syria and Iraq, Islamic State now aggressively expands into other regions. It seeks dominance in the Muslim world and beyond. Their plans go further.
“The situation is extremely dangerous. In these circumstances, it is hypocritical and irresponsible to make declarations about the threat of terrorism and at the same time turn a blind eye to the channels used to finance and support terrorists, including revenues from drug trafficking, the illegal oil trade and the arms trade.
“It is equally irresponsible to manipulate extremist groups and use them to achieve your political goals, hoping that later you’ll find a way to get rid of them or somehow eliminate them.
“I’d like to tell those who engage in this: Gentlemen, the people you are dealing with are cruel but they are not dumb. They are as smart as you are. So, it’s a big question: who’s playing who here? The recent incident where the most “moderate” opposition group handed over their weapons to terrorists is a vivid example of that.
“We consider that any attempts to flirt with terrorists, let alone arm them, are short-sighted and extremely dangerous. This may make the global terrorist threat much worse, spreading it to new regions around the globe, especially since there are fighters from many different countries, including European ones, gaining combat experience with Islamic State. Unfortunately, Russia is no exception.
“Now that those thugs have tasted blood, we can’t allow them to return home and continue with their criminal activities. Nobody wants that, right?”
Working with Assad: “Russia has consistently opposed terrorism in all its forms. Today, we provide military-technical assistance to Iraq, Syria and other regional countries fighting terrorist groups. We think it’s a big mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian authorities and government forces who valiantly fight terrorists on the ground.
“We should finally admit that President Assad’s government forces and the Kurdish militia are the only forces really fighting terrorists in Syria. Yes, we are aware of all the problems and conflicts in the region, but we definitely have to consider the actual situation on the ground.”
Russia’s Motives: “Dear colleagues, I must note that such an honest and frank approach on Russia’s part has been recently used as a pretext for accusing it of its growing ambitions — as if those who say that have no ambitions at all. However, it is not about Russia’s ambitions, dear colleagues, but about the recognition of the fact that we can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world.”
International Coalition and Role of Muslims: “What we actually propose is to be guided by common values and common interests rather than by ambitions. Relying on international law, we must join efforts to address the problems that all of us are facing, and create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism. Similar to the anti-Hitler coalition, it could unite a broad range of parties willing to stand firm against those who, just like the Nazis, sow evil and hatred of humankind. And of course, Muslim nations should play a key role in such a coalition, since Islamic State not only poses a direct threat to them, but also tarnishes one of the greatest world religions with its atrocities. The ideologues of these extremists make a mockery of Islam and subvert its true humanist values.
“I would also like to address Muslim spiritual leaders: Your authority and your guidance are of great importance right now. It is essential to prevent people targeted for recruitment by extremists from making hasty decisions, and those who have already been deceived and, due to various circumstances, found themselves among terrorists, must be assisted in finding a way back to normal life, laying down arms and putting an end to fratricide.
Coordinating anti-terrorism within the UN: “In the days to come, Russia, as the current President of the UN Security Council, will convene a ministerial meeting to carry out a comprehensive analysis of the threats in the Middle East. First of all, we propose exploring opportunities for adopting a resolution that would serve to coordinate the efforts of all parties that oppose Islamic State and other terrorist groups. Once again, such coordination should be based upon the principles of the UN Charter.”
5. Putin Meets Obama
Russia and the United States agreed on Monday to look for a diplomatic end to the Syrian civil war. But Obama continues the demand of his masters that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad be “removed” as part of any international effort to destroy the terrorists. President Putin has adamantly rejected this in his calls for sovereignty and democracy, arguing that only the Syrian people have a right to remove their president if they desire.
During a 90-minute meeting with the US president, Obama bent the knee and agreed that US and Russian military commanders should hold talks to avoid coming into direct conflict in Syria. But the two maintained their positions regarding President Assad: the US demanding that Assad step down after reviling and demonizing him over the last several years; and Russia’s logic in defense of national sovereignty that only the Syrian people have the right to depose their president.
6. Assad makes his invitation public
Last Wednesday night, Syria confirmed that its government had previously sent a letter to President Putin, asking for military assistance in fighting the terrorists. In Damascus, a military source welcomed the development as “positive”, saying Russia’s support is,
“the culmination of long-standing coordination between Syria and Russia. [It] is something positive and natural between allied states and a supportive friend. The coordination (with Russia) will now take on other dimensions, beyond what was already the case. The areas of coordination will be expanded to include areas like reconnaissance, information gathering and target guidance, based on the needs on the ground.”
From the moment that Assad confirmed his request to President Putin, things moved ahead at warp speed.
7. The Upper House of Russian Parliament votes
Within an hour or so of Assad’s confirmation of the letter, Russia’s upper house of parliament voted unanimously to approve Russian air support to the Syrian military fighting the terrorists.
8. Russia Attacks IS
Immediately following the parliamentary vote, at 2 a.m. GMT. October 1, two Russian airstrikes hit a training camp run by Syrian rebels who had received US military training. The US has been calling them “the moderate opposition,” trying to link them to the original Syrian protests who were co-opted by the US. It’s the same strategy the US used to exploit the original Maiden protesters in November 2013 to overthrow the elected government in Ukraine. In Syria, by hitting the US-backed terrorists first, Putin threw down the gauntlet, sending a message to the US and Europe that Russia makes no such distinction among the terrorists in Syria.
On Thursday, the Russian Air Force went on to attack 8 terrorist encampments, weapons depots, and infrastructure. Prior to the attacks, Russia had not revealed details of its forces in Syria but now the world knows. RT News reports that the Russian Air Force in Syria includes over 50 warplanes, helicopter gunships, Russia’s Su-24M armed with laser guided missiles and bombs and Su-25 ground attack planes. Russia has long range striking ability with its Su-24M2 Fencer jets which it sent to its newly opened base at Latakia, Syria. They are armed “with guided weapons, including 500 and 1,500kg laser-guided bombs and TV-guided bombs, and laser/TV-guided missiles Kh-25 and Kh-29L/T, anti-radar missiles Kh-58 and Kh-14 (AS-12 ‘Kegler’) and Kh-59 (AS-13 ‘Kingbolt’)/Kh-59M TV-target seeker guided missiles”. Websites also list upgrades to these systems.
The First 6 Days
Thursday, October 1: On Thursday, Igor Konashenkov, a spokesperson for the Russian Defense Ministry, explained how Russia was able to launch its planes so quickly after President Assad’s request to Vladimir Putin and the vote in the Russian parliament last night:
“The air group was deployed on very short notice. It was possible because we had most of the materiel and ammunition ready at our depot in Tartus. We only had to move our aircraft and deliver some extra equipment.”
Konashenkov described the first attacks on some of the terrorist facilities:
“A terrorist HQ and an ammunition depot were destroyed near Idlib, as were a fortified three-level command center near Hama. A direct bomb hit also completely destroyed a workshop north of Homs that produced explosives and ammunition. … Over the past 24 hours, Sukhoi Su-34 and Su-24M fighter jets have performed 20 sorties and hit nine Islamic State installations.”
According to RT News, Russia selects and coordinates the targets for its airstrikes with the Syrian military. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for President Putin told the media. “We have a list of terrorist organizations. We know them.” He added that it was too early for a complete assessment but that the aerial campaign against terrorism will continue in Syria until “the end of the offensive operation of the Syrian army.” So it appears that Russia is in this fight for the long haul.
Following the initial attacks on Thursday, a Syrian presidential aide praised Russian air support against the terrorists and blasted the West’s “ineffective” airstrikes which resulted in strengthening rather than degrading multiple terrorist organizations in Syria.
Thursday – Saturday, Sept 30 – Oct 3: In the first 4 days, Wednesday night/Thursday morning – Saturday, the Russian Air force conducted more than 60 flights and bombed over 50 terrorist targets. On Saturday, Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov, head of the Main Operation Directorate of the General Staff of Russia’s armed forces, told reporters:
“The airstrikes were being conducted night and day from the Khmeimim airbase and throughout the whole of Syria. In three days we managed to undermine the terrorists’ material-technical base and significantly reduce their combat potential on Saturday.”
Kartapolov added, that the terrorists are fleeing the areas they had controlled, “There is panic and defection among them. About 600 mercenaries have left their positions and are trying to reach Europe.” A more recent report from the Defense Ministry indicated that an estimated 3,000 terrorists were seen fleeing Syria, fighting with the Islamic State who was treating them as deserters.
Sunday, Oct 4: On Sunday, RT reported the attack from information received from the Russian Defense Ministry:
“Fighter jets attacked 10 Islamic State targets in Syria in their latest airstrikes, destroying arms depots, training centers and infrastructure. In the last 24 hours, Russian military aircraft have performed 20 sorties. Armored Sukhoi Su-25 ground-support fighter jets have attacked a jihadist training center in Idlib province, also destroying a workshop producing suicide belts … Three depots with munitions, arms and material assets have been eliminated with pinpoint strikes. As a result of direct hits from KAB-500 air bombs, installations and munitions have been taken out. Sukhoi Su-24M and Su-34 bombers inflicted airstrikes on eight terrorist installations near Jisr al-Shughur in Idlib province.”
Monday, Oct 5: Defense Ministry Spokesman reported that the Russian Air Force conducted 15 sorties on IS installations in the last 24 hours, eliminating “disguised terrorist bases, some equipped with T-55 Tanks, artillery, a field munitions depot, a Command Center and Communications Hub.” Sukhoi jets struck 10 IS targets in various regions. 20 tanks and 3 multiple rocket launchers in Homs province near embattled Palmyra were destroyed. The Defense Ministry released a video released which showed a strike against an IS ammunition depot in Homs: “Bright flashes confirm detonation of munitions caused by direct hits of air bombs. Thick smoke provides evidence of fire in the depot.” Also, some 30 IS military vehicles including tanks were destroyed in the forested area near the city of Idlib in northwest Syria, according to the ministry: “We have irrefutable intelligence, including [intercepted] communications between the militants in the area, [proving] the destruction and damage of the terrorists’ armored vehicles.”
Tuesday, Oct 6: Russian jets hit 12 Islamic State targets in the course of nearly 20 combat flights carried out in Syria on Tuesday, according to teh Defense Ministry. Command centers and training camps were destroyed in the attacks which threw the extremists into panic.
Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov stated that at the time of this Axis of Logic report, “Su-34, Su-24M and Su-25 have launched air strikes on 12 objects of logistic infrastructure, command posts, training camps and facilities of militants belonging to terrorist groups allied with Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL],” The Defense Ministry reported the Russian jets destroyed an Islamic State army munitions plant outside Damascus as well as two command centers in Deir ez-Zor, according to the ministry’s statement. In the Idlib Governorate, a training camp for IS militants was eliminated, while several IS strongholds came under attack where ammunition depots were blown up. The Ministry also published a fresh video said to show extremists positioning their hardware near a mosque. Konashenkov reported that Russia’s targeted airstrikes have caused “panic” among the militants, Konashenkov said, also stressing that the attacks are not conducted in residential areas or places containing landmarks. RT News reported that Hmeymim airbase has been used by the Russian Air Force since Moscow launched its anti-IS operation last Wednesday, following a request from Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The Russian combat unit is comprised of over 50 aircraft and helicopters, as well as space surveillance equipment and drones.
UPDATE: Today, October 7, Russia took it’s offensive against the terrorists in Syria to a new level. They launched guided missile strikes from their warships in the Caspian Sea, about 1,500km (930 miles) distant from its targets. Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said four warships fired 26 sea-based cruise missiles on 11 targets, destroying them and causing no civilian casualties.
The BBC reports that Russia’s Caspian Flotilla – together with the Black Sea Fleet – is the maritime part of Russia’s Southern Military District, stationed in the port city of Astrakhan. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the flotilla consists of several brigades and divisions of surface ships and coastal troop units, carrying out anti-terror activities and protecting trade and oil interests.
The Russian Defense Ministry published the following video on YouTube and Twitter showing the first images of today’s naval attack.
One of the terrorist positions destroyed by the Russian Air Force in Latamneh and Kafr Zaita in central Syria.
Media Reports Civilian Casualties
Allegations of civilian casualties quickly became the centerpiece in the media war and the US media machine was well prepared – too well prepared. President Putin pointed out that media reports of civilian casualties began even before Russian warplanes were first launched for their first combat mission and Putin described them as ‘information attacks’:
“As for media reports claiming the civilian population is suffering, we are prepared for such information attacks. The first reports about civilian casualties emerged even before our planes were in the air.”
RT News reports on how social media is used to spread anti-Russian propaganda:
“Virtually simultaneously, reports started surfacing on social media saying Russia is not targeting terrorists. Instead, they claimed Russian warplanes hit residential areas, killing dozens of civilians. Others said there was no IS (terrorist) presence in the attacked areas and these positions were actually held by ‘moderate rebels’.” (The term invented by the US for their extremists charged with the overthrow of the Syrian government.)
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov asked news organizations and the public to carefully confirm all information related to Syria, “because there was plenty of biased, distorted or patently false information coming from the region.”
The targets bombed and attacked this week were distant from civilian populations. This is confirmed by testimony on location and aerial videos we have read and watched. Footage, for example, released by the Russian Ministry of Defense shows airstrikes on the terrorist infrastructures with no local civilian populations. Russia’s Lieutenant General Andrey Kartapolov reported that Washington notified the Russian Defense Ministry that there were “only militants” in the areas where Russian forces were operating. “The Americans informed us during contacts that there was no one except terrorists in this region.”
John Laughland, (IDC in Paris) explained US “tacit support” for the Russian operation is a major change to its previous stance, and the reason is that:
“the Western bombing of Islamic State has been a complete failure. We know that Washington and Moscow are cooperating and that Washington is giving tacit support. It’s precisely the result of the meeting that occurred in the UN building between presidents Putin and Obama. Moscow would inform Washington about its airstrikes in order to prevent any kind of accidents, any kind of conflict breaking out.”
The difference between the Western deployment of troops and the Russian is that Moscow’s decision is being “conducted in cooperation with the Syrian army.” Laughland added,
“US’ “tacit support” for the Russian operation is a major change to its previous stance, and the reason is that “the Western bombing of Islamic State has been a complete failure. The Russian approach is diametrically the opposite of the Western approach. I don’t believe in a political solution any more in Syria. I think the priority precisely has to be given to a military solution. And the politics can come later. It is time now to clear this threat and to deal with it militarily. And I really don’t see other option to that.”
The Human Toll:The Migration Policy Centre, based at the European University Institute, carried out a study of Syrian refugees through local researchers in 2012, updated in 2014. Here, the MPC reports the most recent findings on the “worst refugee crisis in years:
“An estimated 9 million Syrians have fled their homes since the outbreak of civil war in March 2011, taking refuge in neighbouring countries or within Syria itself. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 3 million have fled to Syria’s immediate neighbours Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. 6.5 million are internally displaced within Syria.”
As of August, 2015, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported nearly a quarter million deaths have been documented (240,381). Among 71,781 civilian deaths are 11,964 children. The group also reported the deaths of 50,570 Syrian government soldiers. In addition, 77,759 terrorists have been killed including what they call 43,384 “rebels” and 34,375 foreign fighters.
The number of injuries is unknown and the degree of suffering by the Syrian people of course cannot be measured. The destruction that has been wrought is massive. The human toll is truly immeasurable and broken families of the victims will require generations to grieve losses of children, husbands and wives, grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and loved ones and eventually find stability and inner peace in their lives again.
The deaths or flight of some of Syria’s many educated people – professionals in education, medicine, law, engineering and social work – will create a void that will take time to fill. The repatriation of the refugees who decide to return will also involve an enormous effort on the part of the government, with the help of Syria’s allies. Reparations by the invaders and those who have backed them would certainly be in order but western countries have never been known to apologize for any of their war crimes and pay debts to the people they’ve victimized.
The infrastructure: It will take time after the war is over to assess the destruction of homes, schools, farmlands, water supplies and food distribution systems, roads, bridges, health care facilities, government buildings, manufacturing and the oil industry not to speak of the years and enormous funding, work, and organization to rebuild Syria. Here are a few examples of the damage done:
- Economy, Industry, Human Capital: Rabie Nasser, a Syrian economic analyst who works with the Syrian Center for Policy Research reported:“Basically, the economy has been systematically destroyed. First, Syria’s capital stock is lost. There has been direct destruction as a result of the armed conflict, and there is currently a great deal of idle capital in Syria due to the security conditions. The second point is the loss of human capital, either because of displacement, migration, or because of death and injury. We have lost a lot of skilled workers. And we have lost a huge amount of human capital in Syria. Third, there has been a loss of infrastructure: there was a huge infrastructure for health, education, telecommunications, industry — we have lost it, and we have lost the networks between some Syrian markets and other markets both inside and outside Syria.”Health Care: The US military’s attack last week in Kunduz, Afghanistan on the medical center run by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) shows their capacity for heartless maiming and slaughter, even of patients in their hospital beds, not to mention their disregard for international law. Their warplanes repeatedly hit those facilities for an extended period, wounding at least 37 staff and patients and killing at least 22 (10 patients, including 3 children, and 12 members of the MSF staff). A doctor reported how unbearable it was to see intensive care patients burning to death in their beds. The bombing continued in spite of doctors calling Washington and NATO, begging them to stop. There’s good reason to believe that the attacks were intentional. The “new rules of engagement” released by the Pentagon this year authorize US commanders to attack civilian infrastructure and populations based on their own calculations of “military necessity.” Some analysts see the attack as a warning to health care workers not to accept wounded enemy soldiers who may have been in the Kunduz facility. Obama ruled out an independent investigation leaving it to the military to investigate itself, calling the civilian deaths “collateral damage.” Obama sent his “condolences” to the victims.
The latest assessment we could find on Syria’s health care system reported that half of Syria’s hospitals had already been destroyed by 2013. At that time, Lancet (the British medical journal) reported an open letter submitted by international aid agencies stating: “Systematic assaults on medical professionals, facilities and patients are breaking Syria’s health-care system and making it nearly impossible for civilians to receive essential medical services.”
Oil Pipelines and Refineries: September, 2014 the LA times reported: “Making the first major push to choke off financing for Islamic State, U.S. and allied Arab warplanes bombed a dozen small oil refineries in eastern Syria on Wednesday that U.S. officials said were part of a $2 million-a-day revenue stream for the Sunni Muslim extremist group.”
Maram Susli, known in the media as “Syrian Girl,” responded:
“The trouble with this justification for destroying Syria’s oil pipelines, is that ISIS does not have the capability to use the pipelines to transfer oil. ISIS transports the stolen oil on the back of trucks, and sells it on the black market in Turkey.
“If the US truly intended to stop ISIS oil profits, they would bomb these oil convoys, which are easily spotted via conventional surveillance flights already allegedly taking place as part of ongoing Western operations. The US agenda behind destroying Syria’s pipelines has very little to do with ISIS oil profits, and far more to do with destroying Syria’s oil infrastructure.”
Illusions of World Dominance
The fourth reason that the future of Syria cannot be predicted at this time is the willful, and I think morally bankrupt and ignorant (add your own adjectives), hell-bent mentality in Washington that lives in the cloud of illusion that they can eventually gain “full spectrum dominance” of the entire world – by force. Do you really believe that eyeball-to-eyeball with Putin and the prospect of full scale nuclear war, the chicken-hawks, cowards with big mouths, in Washington are going to go for it? They haven’t in the last 14 hours now have they? Speaking as a psychologist (my profession) they’re clearly psychotic. But most psychotics are not suicidal.
The 5 year US/European “globalization” war in Syria, has been carried out through a cunning, deceptive scheme, creating religious sectarianism through false flag operations and sowing hatred, arming and funding thousands of terrorists and mercenaries moving into Syria from around the world.
It’s important to remember that President Putin is not a rogue dictator, acting with his own private army as the media often tries to portray him. First and foremost, he enjoys the overwhelming support of the Russian people, his political party, and Parliament. He is also backed by members of the Russian Federation, China, Iran, Venezuela and other Latin American countries. Russia has membership in BRICS, important current or pending trade agreements with India, and some European countries dependent on Russian gas and oil. The current sanctions have been a two-edged sword for those who’ve imposed them.
Putin has orchestrated his response to the US/EU spawned coup in Ukraine and now to the aggression in Syria with extreme care and within the constraints of international law. His response is being measured against the folly and failure of US interventions and wars over the last 15 years. His timing of these first attacks on terrorist strongholds has been near perfect, immediately following his speech at the UN, the vote of the Russian Parliament, Assad’s request for assistance and following the US admission that their militarism in Syria has failed.
It’s difficult to imagine that the US or NATO would dare to engage Russia militarily inside Syria, directly or otherwise. Washington been boxed in by its own folly and has at least tacitly conceded their embarrassing defeat in Syria. The US and Israel won’t be so easily persuaded and will use all the economic muscle and military power they have to bend their client states, from Australia to Germany, into compliance with their policies for world domination. So it’s barely conceivable to think that Obama will agree in good faith to Putin’s request to join in an international coalition against terrorism.
However, it appears that European countries are beginning to see the intelligence in Putin’s proposal for an international coalition to fight terrorism. Considering the trade and economic benefits Russia has to offer some European countries, there may be some with enough sense to break from US foreign policy enough to cooperate at some level. It’s only been 6 days since Russia has taken this historic step; but President Putin is a man not known to back down after he’s placed his ducks in a row and followed through with his commitments as he has with Syria and President Assad.
Sputnik, CNN, Fox, RT News, Xinhua, Asia Times, Reuters, Al Monitor, Business Insider, Daily Mail, CNBC, Russia Behind The Headlines (RBTH), Jacobin Mag, The Guardian, The Independent, BBC, Al Monitor, Daily Mail, Der Spiegle.
A special thanks to my accomplished co-editor, Paul Richard Harris who did his magic with a final edit of this report. – lmb
Biography, Essays and Poetry by Les Blough
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