Archive for the ‘Syria’ Category

ISIS Officially ‘Defeated’ but the US Will Stay in Syria

November 20, 2017 Leave a comment

Russia questions what the US goal in Syria has become.

(ANTIWAR.COM) — US military intentions in Syria have never been exactly transparent, but are becoming ever less so, as Pentagon officials loudly declare ISIS to have been “defeated” in the country, but insist that they intend to remain.

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This is a potential major legal issue, because Syria never authorized the US invasion in the first place. US officials always presented the authorization as being UN resolutions supporting the fight against ISIS, but that would no longer apply.

Moreover, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has pointed out that Secretary of State Tillerson has repeatedly assured him that the “only” US goal in Syria is to fight ISIS. This is adding to Russian concerns about what the US is actually planning on doing next.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis is trying to present this as keeping “ISIS 2.0” from coming into existence. While this is also the pretext for staying in Iraq, there is a major difference between a permanent deployment in Iraq that the US-backed government there supports, and trying to stay in Syria forever despite explicit opposition from the Syrian government.

Russia Accuses US Of Providing Air Cover For ISIS In Syria

November 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Russia says it has “conclusive evidence” that Washington provides air cover for ISIS in Syria and accuses the US of  only pretending to fight terrorism in the Middle East.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that the US air force tried to hinder Russian strikes on ISIS terrorists around the Syrian town of Albu Kamal.

Syrian regime forces captured Albu Kamal last week before ISIS launched a counter-attack and regained control of the majority of the town.

“These facts are conclusive evidence that the United States, while imitating an uncompromising fight against international terrorism for the global community, in fact provides cover for Islamic State units” according to the Russian MoD

Press TV reports: Moscow and Washington support opposing sides in the Syrian conflict. Russia assists the Syrian government and has been carrying out an aerial bombardment campaign against terrorist positions in Syria.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

In early October, the Russian Defense Ministry Russia accused the US forces of providing intelligence to the Daesh Takfiri terrorists in eastern Syria, saying Washington’s “flirtation” with the terrorists is the “main obstacle” to eradicate Daesh in Syria.

The accusations came after a group of Syrian forces came under a series of attacks by Daesh in the province of Dayr al-Zawr, where Syria is trying to push the terrorists out of their last strongholds in the region.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the attacks on the Syrian government forces had come from an area near the border with Jordan where the US maintains a military mission.

The ministry noted that Daesh had the precise coordinates of the Syrian forces before the attack and that such information could only have been obtained through aerial reconnaissance.

US Military Slaughter 45 Innocent Civilians In Syria

October 5, 2017 Leave a comment

The US military have slaughtered at least 45 innocent civilians in Syria after conducting airstrikes targeting the al-Touse’eiyah district in the city of Raqqah.

According to local news sources on Monday, the US jets deliberately targeted members of the public under the guise of attacking ISIS. reports: The incident comes just one day after the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more than 3,000 people, including nearly 1,000 civilians, have been killed during the past month.

The US-led coalition has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.

The Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, in two separate letters sent to UN Secretary General António Guterres and rotating President of the UN Security Council Amr Abdellatif Aboulatta on August 24, stated that the US-led coalition was perpetrating war crimes and crimes against humanity through aerial bombardment of residential neighborhoods.

US-Russian tensions flare in Syria

September 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Source: Bill Van Auken

The death of a senior Russian general advising Syrian government forces and claims by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia that it has been bombed by Russian warplanes have escalated tensions between Washington and Moscow, as the two sides wage rival offensives to seize control of the oil-rich Deir Ezzor province from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov charged Monday that the death of Lt. Gen. Valery Asapov in a mortar attack near the city of Deir Ezzor the day before was “the price, the bloody price, for the two-faced American policy in Syria.”

Deir Ezzor province is in eastern Syria, bordering Iraq, and is the center of the country’s oil and gas industry, which provided much of the power for the country’s cities before it was seized by Islamist militias as part of the US-backed war for regime-change against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Both because of its strategic energy resources and its geographical position, the province has become the focus of a scramble for control, with the US-backed SDF, a Kurdish-dominated militia supported by American Special Forces troops and air power, rushing from the north to counter the advances made by Syrian government forces.

Early this month, the Syrian army succeeded in breaking a two-year siege by ISIS against the government-held city of Deir Ezzor and its 200,000 residents. The Syrian government victory was answered by the US proxy forces of the SDF being diverted from the siege of Raqqa, the so-called ISIS capital to the north, and sent down the eastern side of the Euphrates River to contest control of the city and the province’s oil and gas fields.

US military spokesmen have issued repeated statements claiming that Washington is interested only in defeating ISIS and is not, as one put it, “in the land-grabbing business.” Facts on the ground, however, strongly indicate that this is precisely the “business” being pursued by the Pentagon.

The charge by the Russian Foreign Ministry official that Washington is engaged in a “two-faced policy” in Syria was preceded by the Russian Defense Ministry’s release of aerial photographs showing large numbers of US Humvees used by American Special Forces troops occupying what had been ISIS strongholds north of the city of Deir Ezzor.

The ministry noted that there was no sign of any battle having been waged in the area, which was free of craters from shelling and bombing, and that the American forces had not even bothered to set up a defensive perimeter in the ISIS-held area. “This shows that all the US servicemen who are currently there feel completely safe in the areas under the terrorists’ control,” the ministry said. A ministry spokesman said that Russian surveillance of the area had turned up no sign of combat between the SDF and ISIS.

The clear implication is that Washington and its proxy militia struck a deal in which ISIS ceded the territory without a struggle and directed its forces against the Syrian Army instead. Given the intimate ties between the CIA and the Islamist forces that created ISIS, there are no doubt lines of communication between US forces and the purported target of their intervention in Iraq and Syria.

The SDF militia and its US Special Forces “advisors,” on the one hand, and the Russian and Iranian-backed Syrian army, on the other, are pressing forward around Deir Ezzor, advancing, according to an SDF spokesman, to within barely two miles of each other. The SDF claims that its forces have seized control of a major gas field named Conoco, while Syrian troops and tanks have crossed the Euphrates River and taken towns on its eastern bank.

The US proxy forces and the Syrian government troops are effectively in a race to establish control over the oil and gas fields that are crucial to the economic recovery of Syria after nearly six years of devastation wrought by the CIA-orchestrated war for regime-change.

Each side has accused the other of carrying out attacks on their positions. On Thursday, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said that, after Russian-backed Syrian government troops had twice come under fire from SDF positions, Moscow had warned Washington that continued shelling would provoke a Russian response against the US proxy forces and American Special Forces troops operating with them.

“A representative of the US military command in Al Udeid (the US command center in Qatar) was told in no uncertain terms that any attempts to open fire from areas where Syrian Democratic Forces are located would be quickly shut down,” Major-General Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

For its part, the SDF claimed Monday that its forces in the Conoco gas field had been bombed by Russian aircraft, resulting in the wounding of six of its fighters. It marked the second time that the SDF has leveled such a charge in as many weeks, and the US proxy force declared in a statement: “We will not stand by with our arms crossed and we will use our legitimate right to self-defense.”

Russia has denied responsibility for attacking the SDF. A Pentagon spokesman confirmed Monday that shells had fallen near the militia’s position, but said he could not confirm that they were fired by Russia. For its part, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group opposed to the Assad government, said that no Russian rounds had hit SDF positions.

The increasing dangers of an open military confrontation in eastern Syria between the US and Russia, the world’s two major nuclear powers, is driven by Washington’s determination to seize control of the area, both to deny resources to the government in Damascus and to further the carve-up of Syria. Washington is also seeking to secure Syria’s eastern border in order to counter Iranian influence in the region and prevent the consolidation of a land route linking Iran through Iraq to Syria as well as Lebanon, where Iranian forces could link up with Hezbollah, the powerful Shia-based political movement and militia.

The threat of this scramble for eastern Syria erupting into a wider regional war is further fueled by the aggressively anti-Iranian stance of the Trump administration, which appears determined to blow up the 2015 nuclear accord reached between Tehran and the major powers and has embarked on an increasingly aggressive military and diplomatic posture toward Iran across the Middle East.


United Nations: Syrian Sarin Gas Attack Was ‘Staged’

September 21, 2017 1 comment

The United Nations have issued a bombshell report that confirms the sarin gas attack in Syria on April 4th was completely ‘staged.’

Upon close inspection of the report by the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, it is clear that the official narrative claiming that the Syrian air force dropped a bomb containing nerve gas sarin on the insurgent-controlled town of Khan Sheikhoun, is completely false.

AlterNet reports:  The reports by the two official international bodies appear to be aimed at closing the book on what happened at Khan Sheikhoun, where at least 83 deaths and 293 injuries occurred. But a months-long investigation by AlterNet into the questions around the attack raise serious questions about whether a sarin bomb was the source of the deaths. Relying on analysis from forensic and weapons experts, as well as a senior intelligence official with decades of experience in assessing bomb damage, the investigation suggests that a conventional weapon dropped by a Syrian plane struck barrels of a pesticide that created deadly phosphine gas that caused symptoms paralleling those of sarin and capable of causing mass casualties.

The evidence gathered in this investigation undercuts the credibility of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) laboratory test results that showed exposure to sarin, demonstrating how the organization violated its own protocols and opened the door for tampering. Further, the investigation raises questions about whether Russian and Syrian intelligence knew – or should have known – that the conventional strike on the target in Khan Sheikhoun carried a serious risk of mass casualties.

At the center of the U.N. Commission’s case is a crater in the middle of a road in Khan Sheikhoun in which two metal objects were found. The shoddy narrative of a sarin attack carried out by the Syrian government has flowed from this hole in the ground.

The Sarin Bomb Crater That Wasn’t 

The UN commission report refers to the crater as a “hole,” commenting that it was “too small to be a crater,” but pronounces it consistent with a chemical weapon. Without any reference to a source of evidence, it refers to the two pieces of metal as “two parts of the bomb.” Although it admits to being “unable to determine the exact type of chemical bomb used,” it declared the two pieces of metal to be “consistent with sarin bomb produced by the former Soviet Union in the 250kg-class of bombs.”

But for longtime analysts of weapons impacts, the scene provoked serious doubts. In interviews, two highly qualified former U.S. government specialists noted that a chemical weapon could not have made a crater as large and deep as the kind that appeared in a raft of reports about the attack on Khan Sheikhoun, especially in asphalt.

“I have never seen a crater like that from a 122 millimeter CW [chemical weapon) warhead,“ said a former senior intelligence official, with decades of experience in analyzing bomb damage, who did not wish to be identified because of his continuing work with U.S. national security officials.

That observation reflects a fundamental difference between chemical and conventional high explosives munitions. Chemical weapons have only very small amounts of explosives in the “burster mechanism” – enough to open up the bomb to disperse the chemical, but not enough to cause a crater in the pavement. If a chemical munition had contained enough high explosives to create a large hole in the pavement, it would have burned up the chemical to be dispensed and could not have caused the mass casualties seen in Khan Sheikhoun.

The former senior intelligence officer declared the metal detritus inside the crater was staged. “I am certain that it was placed there after the fact,” he said. “The entire set-up looked like a pothole with a pipe over it, not a military explosion or impact.”

Pierre Sprey, an aeronautical engineer who spent many years at the Department of Defense as a weapons analyst, also doubted that the scene at the crater was genuine. “I have viewed the images of many, many weapons impacts of all kinds, and the photos didn’t look like any impact crater I’ve ever seen,” he said. Sprey said the site “looked more like a pothole than anything else – much more that than a weapons impact.”

Further undermining the credibility of the sarin attack narrative is the absence of any weapon. The main pieces of any chemical weapon should have fallen, still intact, just a few meters away from the crater, according to John Gilbert, senior science fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Proliferation and formerly head of the Onsite Inspection Agency in the Defense Department. Gilbert conducted the inspections of the former Soviet chemical arsenal in conjunction with the U.S.-Soviet 1990 chemical weapons agreement.

Sprey agreed that intact pieces of the weapon should have been found. “Without a shadow of a doubt you would have found the tail fins and nose cone,” said Sprey.

Not a single recognizable fragment of a weapon that could have delivered sarin gas was ever displayed in videos or photographs taken by the White Helmets or Syrian rebel media activists in Khan Sheikhoun. Solvang, the main author of the Human Rights Watch report on Khan Sheikhoun published May 1, acknowledged in an interview that he had asked all the personnel of the White Helmets civil defense organization and other witnesses interviewed by his organization whether they had seen any other parts of a weapon. All responded in the negative. (The White Helmets is a Western and Gulf-funded arm of the Syrian insurgency that is primarily responsible for influencing foreign news media and opinion for al local al Nusra Front officials).

Chunks of asphalt would also have been strewn around the crater by an airstrike. “Debris would be blown several meters away from the crater,” Gilbert noted in an interview. But independent Berlin-based forensic researcher Michael Kobs discovered footage suggesting no debris was on the road near the crater after that morning.

Kobs noticed a brief scene in a video published by Orient News Service on April 4, less than two hours after the alleged explosion at the site, showing (at 1.12) the road near the crater completely clear of pieces of asphalt and other debris. Using standard forensic techniques for estimating the time an image was taken based on the length of a shadow in relation to a fixed object, Kobs calculated that the video was shot between 8:30 and 8:50am, on April 4. The airstrike took place around 6:40-6:45 am, according to most witnesses.

Kobs found another video published April 6 that shows all the chunks of asphalt had been moved by hand to an area roughly five meters wide and two meters deep by the side of the road. The White Helmets or other health authorities authorities had placed the same red sign with skull and crossbones over the asphalt pieces that had been put inside the crater itself.

If a chemical weapon had exploded at that spot, the chunks of asphalt dislodged from the crater would have been covered with sarin liquid, which would have taken far more than a couple of hours to dry in the cool morning air. So any contact or inhalation near them would have been highly lethal.

Furthermore those two hours were the period during which the White Helmets and the Idib Health Directorate were engaged in taking dead and wounded to the White Helmet facility east of the Khan Sheikhoun. Given the extreme dangers associated with the handling of objects contaminated with sarin, the idea that the local government ordered civil defense teams to cart chunks of asphalt drenched in sarin away from the road during that first hour and a half seems absurd.

The video evidence indicates that the road near the crater was already clear before April 4 and the crater was therefore not the result of an air attack that morning. It now appears that the hole was either the remains of a previous military event or simply a pothole that had been filled in with dirt but not repaved. A video shot several hours after the chemical incident shows (at 3:04-3:08) what appears to be two large potholes within a few yards of the crater, both of which had been filled in with dirt but left unpaved.

Further evidence that the toxic gas that killed and injured residents could not have come from that crater can be found in the June 29 report of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. Though the report concluded that sarin gas was used, and that it “likely” emanated from the crater, Figure 7 of the report contradicts these findings.

Figure 7 (seen above) provides an aerial view of Khan Sheikhoun, with the area where victims were stricken shaded in yellow. The image highlights the crater in red and labels it as “point 1,” and shows that the point lies only a few meters east of a residential neighborhood. Yet no part of that neighborhood is shaded yellow, meaning that no one in the immediate vicinity of the supposed blast site was exposed to a toxic gas. The OPCW did not explain how residents living just meters away from the scene of a chemical attack could have suffered no ill effects.

The U.N. Commission’s claim that the two pieces of metal found in the hole in the road were parts of the bomb dropped on the site relied on a report on Khan Sheikhoun issued by Human Rights Watch. HRW asserted that the large piece of metal and the small cap that had been shown in various positions in the crater could have been parts of a Soviet-era chemical weapon designated as KhAB-250. HRW argued that the KhAB-250 “has two green bands” supposedly used to indicate a chemical weapon, and that the piece of metal found in the crater had what appeared to be a green stripe on it. It also said the filler cap ”appears similar” to the cap covering the filling hole of that bomb.

That HRW claim was in turn apparently based on a tweet that itself relied on a Russian researcher who acknowledged that his assertion was just a hypothesis.


Syria’s President Exposed a Flaw in US Foreign Policy That No One Wants to Talk About

September 16, 2017 Leave a comment

(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed)  In an interview with RT in 2015, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uttered perhaps one of his most intriguing statements since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011. Assad stated:

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“Western propaganda has, from the very beginning, been about the cause of the problem being the president. Why? Because they want to portray the whole problem in Syria lies in one individual; and consequently the natural reaction for many people is that, if the problem lies in one individual, that individual should not be more important than the entire homeland. So let that individual go and things will be alright. That’s how they oversimplify things in the West.”  [emphasis added]

He continued:

Notice what happened in the Western media since the coup in Ukraine. What happened? President Putin was transformed from a friend of the West to a foe and, yet again, he was characterized as a tsar…This is Western propaganda. They say that if the president went things will get better. [emphasis added]

Putting aside Assad’s vast and extensive list of war crimes and crimes against humanity, Assad highlighted one of the major flaws in Western thinking regarding America’s hostile policies toward a number of independent states.

Just look at the current to-and-fro-ing between North Korea and the United States to gather an accurate picture of what is being referred to here. The problem of North Korea is consistently portrayed in the media as caused by one person (current leader Kim Jong-un), a narrative that ultimately ignores the role America and its allies have played in this current crisis. As Anti-Media previously highlighted:

“…the problem [North Korean crisis] is constantly framed as one caused by North Korea alone, not the United States. ‘How to Deal With North Korea,’ the Atlantic explains. ‘What Can Trump Do About North Korea?’ the New York Times asks. ‘What Can Possibly Be Done About North Korea,’ the Huffington Post queries. Time provides 6 experts discussing ‘How We Can Solve the Problem’ (of North Korea). ‘North Korea – what can the outside world do?’ asks the BBC.”

What the media is really advancing here — particularly when one talks about a military option as a response to dealing with North Korea’s rogue actions — is the notion that if the U.S. could only take out Kim Jong-un, the problem of North Korea would disappear.

Would the death of one man rid every single North Korean of the hostility and hatred they harbor toward the United States when many know full well that in the early 1950s the U.S. bombed North Korea so relentlessly they eventually ran out of targets to hit — that the U.S. military killed off at least 20 percent of the civilian population?

If Kim Jong-un is removed, will North Koreans suddenly forget that nearly every North Korean alive today has a family relative that was killed by the United States in the 1950s?

In the simple corporate media narrative, yes they will. Killing that one person and removing them from office will not only save the country they brutalize but will also provide security and stability for the rest of the world.

Never mind that prior to the U.S.-NATO onslaught of Libya in 2011, Libya had the highest standard of living in the African continent. The Times once admitted that its healthcare system was the “envy of the region.” Now, the country has completely collapsed, with well over two million children out of school, countless migrants drowning in its waters, extremism running unchecked and unchallenged, and traders openly selling slaves like a commodity.

Let’s suppose every single accusation against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was true (they weren’t); how can it be said that destroying a country’s infrastructure and assassinating its leader in flagrant disregard of international law is a realistic solution to any problem? If you oppose Donald Trump, would a Russian-led military intervention solve your problems with the country he rules over?

Forget what you think you know about Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Kim Jong-un, Bashar al-Assad, Vladimir Putin, and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro – the narrative Western governments and their media mouthpieces have promulgated for the last few decades remains completely nonsensical. You can’t solve Syria’s or Venezuela’s problems by removing their current leaders, especially if you attempt to do it by force. Anyone who claims this is possible is lying to you and is also too naïve and indolent to bother researching the current situations in Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Iraq – to name a few.

The fact that the U.S. evidently doesn’t want to solve any problems at all – that it merely seeks to overthrow leaders that don’t succumb to its wishes – is a topic for a separate article but is certainly worth mentioning here as well.

The same can ultimately be said of Donald Trump. Since his election victory, many celebrities, media pundits, and members of the intelligence community have sought to unseat and discredit him. Yet Donald Trump is merely a horrifying symptom of America’s problems; to think he alone caused them and that by removing him from office the U.S. would suddenly become a safe-haven of freedom and liberty is nothing short of idiotic.

If you agree with the latter sentiment, you must also concede that the problems facing North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, and elsewhere could never be solved by the U.S. forcibly removing their leaders.

If Assad was removed from Syria, would extremism disappear or would it thrive in the political vacuum as it did in Iraq? Could Syria’s internal issues — which are much more extensive than the corporate media would have us believe — be solved by something as simple as removing its current leader? Can anyone name a country where this has been tried and tested as a true model for solving a sovereign nation’s internal crises? Anyone who truly believes a country’s problems can be solved in this facile way needs to do a bit more reading.

If you can recognize this dilemma, you can agree that it’s time for the media to completely undo the simplicity in its coverage of these issues and start reporting on the genuine diplomatic options that could be pursued, instead.

Assad Complains to UN After Reported Israeli Airstrike Targeting Chemical Weapons Facility

September 11, 2017 Leave a comment

( – The Assad regime on Thursday complained to the United Nations after an Israeli airstrike reportedly targeted a facility linked to its chemical weapons program.

The foreign ministry’s letters to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the president of the Security Council said that the predawn missile strike had hit “Syrian military positions … killing two army personnel and causing material damage to the site.”

The letters were silent on allegations of chemical weapons work at the targeted facility. The regime denies possessing or using chemical weapons, claiming to have surrendered its stockpiles for destruction under a 2013 deal brokered by Russia.

Just a day earlier, a U.N. commission of inquiry report in effect called that a lie, blaming the regime for a deadly sarin gas attack in Idlib province last April 4, and for 20 other chemical attacks since 2013.

The targeted complex was a facility of the Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) near the town of Masyaf in Hama province. The U.S. government has designated SSRC (also known as CERS) for work on chemical and biological weapons and missile systems – most recently imposing sanctions on 271 SSRC employees in retaliation for the April 4 sarin attack.

A Western intelligence agency told the BBC earlier this year that the Assad regime was continuing to make chemical weapons in violation of the 2013 agreement, and that an SSRC facility in Masyaf specializes “in installing chemical weapons on long-range missiles and artillery.”

In its letters to the U.N. the Syrian foreign ministry charged that “Israeli attacks have become systematic behavior to protect the terrorists from al-Nusra Front and ISIS.”

The line is in keeping with the regime’s narrative that Israel (and the U.S.) are covertly supporting terror groups in Syria – even as the regime is leading the fight against the terrorists.

“It is inconceivable that the Security Council has so far taken no action to put an end to these blatant attacks,” the letters said.

“Those who attack the Syrian army provide direct support for terrorism because the Syrian army and its allies are those who fight terrorism on behalf of the entire world.”

Israel has not publicly confirmed responsibility for the airstrike, but statements by senior political and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) officials were interpreted as alluding to it.

Israel was dealing with threats “both near and far,” military intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi was quoted by the Times of Israel as telling an event in Tel Aviv, while IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkott said elsewhere that the military was “working to thwart with responsibility and determination any threat that seeks to harm our security and prosperity.”

Past Israeli military intervention in Syria has focused almost entirely on Iranian weapons shipments to Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shi’ite terrorist group which in alliance with Iran and Russia is fighting to keep President Bashar al-Assad in power.

Among Israel’s gravest publicly stated concerns about the civil war in Syria is that it will result in an armed Iranian presence on its border, cementing an arc of hostile Shi’ite influence stretching from Iran across Iraq and Syria to Lebanon.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told an Israeli radio station Thursday Israel has no wish to be drawn into a conflict but would “do whatever it takes to prevent a Shi’ite corridor from Iran to Damascus.”

A former head of Israel’s military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, said Thursday that if the airstrike was carried out by Israel, “it would be a commendable and moral action by Israel against the slaughter in Syria.”

“The factory that was targeted in Masyaf produces the chemical weapons and barrel bombs that have killed thousands of Syrian civilians,” Yadlin said on Twitter.

He said the targeted complex was also used for the manufacture of “precision missiles which will have a significant role in the next round of conflict.”

Yadlin also said the strike sent important messages about Israel’s determination to enforce its red lines, notwithstanding the presence in Syria of Russian air defenses.

“Now it’s important to keep the escalation in check and to prepare for a Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah response and even opposition from Russia.”

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held talks in Sochi last month with Russian President Vladimir Putin and said afterwards he had made clear that Israel would act in Syria when it deemed it necessary.

“Most of the discussion dealt with Iran’s attempt to establish a foothold in Syria in the places where ISIS was defeated and is leaving,” he said. “The victory over ISIS is welcome. Iran’s entry is unwelcome, endangering us, and in my opinion, endangering the region and the world.”

Netanyahu said he had spoken to Putin “very clearly about our positions on this matter and the fact that this is unacceptable to us.”

Neither State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert nor a spokesman for Guterres had any comment Thursday on the reported Israeli airstrike.

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