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John McCain Makes Secret Trip to Syria in Midst of U.S. Assessment

February 24, 2017 1 comment

The senator traveled to Kurdish-controlled Kobani, U.S. officials say

Syrian Democratic Forces fighters gather earlier this month during an offensive against Islamic State militants in the northern Raqqa province.

WASHINGTON—Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) secretly traveled to northern Syria last weekend to speak with American military officials and Kurdish fighters at the forefront of the push to drive Islamic State out of their de facto capital of Raqqa, according to U.S. officials.

The unusual visit, which officials said was organized with the help of the U.S. military, came as the Trump administration is debating plans for an accelerated military campaign against Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.

Mr. McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, first traveled to rebel-controlled Syria in 2013, when he met with leaders of the Free Syrian Army, the umbrella group supported by America and its allies. This was believed to be his first visit to Syria since then.

U.S. officials familiar with Mr. McCain’s trip said that the senator traveled to Kobani, the Syrian town on the Turkey border controlled by Kurdish forces since 2012.

In a statement, Mr. McCain’s office confirmed that a trip took place, saying the senator “traveled to northern Syria last week to visit U.S. forces deployed there and to discuss the counter-ISIL campaign and ongoing operations to retake Raqqa.”

Mr. McCain is believed to be the first U.S. lawmaker to travel to the Kurdish-controlled area of northeastern Syria since it became a hub for American special-operations forces who are aiding local forces in the fight against Islamic State.

The short visit came in the middle of a regional trip that took Mr. McCain from Saudi Arabia to Turkey, where he discussed evolving plans to counter Islamic State in the Middle East.

After traveling to Syria, Mr. McCain met with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Turkish capital. Mr. Erdogan is pushing the Trump administration to sideline the Kurdish fighters that U.S. military leaders view as a vital ally in the fight against Islamic State.

It is rare for U.S. politicians to travel to Syria. Last month, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), secretly traveled to Damascus, where she held a controversial meeting with President Bashar al-Assad. Last year, Brett McGurk, America’s special envoy for the international coalition to defeat ISIS, traveled to Kobani and met with Kurdish fighters, creating an uproar in Turkey.

Ankara views the U.S.-backed Kurdish forces in Syria as terrorists aligned with Kurdish separatists in Turkey embroiled in a yearslong battle for more autonomy. Mr. Erdogan and other Turkish leaders criticized Mr. McGurk after he was photographed receiving a plaque from a leader of the Syrian Kurdish force.

Mr. McGurk, who was asked by the Trump administration to stay on in his job, is in the thick of a debate over when and how to launch an assault on Raqqa.

President Donald Trump has asked the U.S. military to present him with a new plan to destroy Islamic State, and the report is supposed to be finished by the end of the month.

Central to the debate is whether or not to rely on Kurdish forces to take Raqqa, a city with a Sunni majority that is likely to be wary of Kurdish control.

U.S. officials involved in the debate say that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to launch a successful assault on Raqqa in the coming months without working with Kurdish forces. Turkish leaders have been pushing the Trump administration to sideline the Kurdish fighters, but they have not presented a viable alternative plan, U.S. officials said.

The CIA’s Blueprint for Syrian Regime Collapse: New Declassified CIA Memo

February 17, 2017 Leave a comment

CIA

 

A newly declassified CIA document explored multiple scenarios of Syrian regime collapse at a time when Hafez al-Assad’s government was embroiled in a covert “dirty war” with Israel and the West, and in the midst of a diplomatic crisis which marked an unprecedented level of isolation for Syria.

The 24-page formerly classified memo entitled Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change was produced in July 1986, and had high level distribution within the Reagan administration and to agency directors, including presidential advisers, the National Security Council, and the US ambassador to Syria.

The memo appears in the CIA’s latest CREST release (CIA Records Search Tool) of over 900,000 recently declassified documents.

A “severely restricted” report

The memo’s cover letter, drafted by the CIA’s Director of Global Issues (the report itself was prepared by the division’s Foreign Subversion and Instability Center), introduces the purpose of presenting “a number of possible scenarios that could lead to the ouster of President Assad or other dramatic change in Syria.”

It further curiously warns that, “Because the analysis out of context is susceptible to misunderstanding, external distribution has been severely restricted.” The report’s narrowed distribution list (sent to specific named national security heads, not entire agencies) indicates that it was considered at the highest levels of the Reagan administration.

The coming sectarian war for Syria

The intelligence report’s contents contain some striking passages which seem remarkably consistent with events as they unfolded decades later at the start of the Syrian war in 2011:

Although we judge that fear of reprisals and organizational problems make a second Sunni challenge unlikely, an excessive government reaction to minor outbreaks of Sunni dissidence might trigger large-scale unrest. In most instances the regime would have the resources to crush a Sunni opposition movement, but we believe widespread violence among the populace could stimulate large numbers of Sunni officers and conscripts to desert or munity, setting the stage for civil war. [pg.2]

The “second Sunni challenge” is a reference to the Syrian government’s prior long running war against a Muslim Brotherhood insurgency which culminated in the 1982 Hama Massacre. While downplaying the nationalist and pluralistic composition of the ruling Ba’ath party, the report envisions a renewal and exploitation of sectarian fault lines pitting Syria’s Sunni population against its Alawite leadership:

Sunnis make up 60 percent of the Syrian officer corps but are concentrated in junior officer ranks; enlisted men are predominantly Sunni conscripts. We believe that a renewal of communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis could inspire Sunnis in the military to turn against the regime. [pg.12]

Regime change and the Muslim Brotherhood

The possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood spearheading another future armed insurgency leading to regime change is given extensive focus. While the document’s tone suggests this as a long term future scenario (especially considering the Brotherhood suffered overwhelming defeat and went completely underground in Syria by the mid-1980’s), it is considered one of the top three “most likely” drivers of regime change (the other scenarios include “Succession Power Struggle” and “Military Reverses Spark a Coup”).

The potential for revival of the Muslim Brotherhood’s “militant faction” is introduced in the following:

Although the Muslim Brotherhood’s suppression drastically reduced armed dissidence, we judge a significant potential still exists for another Sunni opposition movement. In part the Brotherhood’s role was to exploit and orchestrate opposition activity by other organized groups… These groups still exist, and under proper leadership they could coalesce into a large movement… …young professionals who formed the base of support for the militant faction of the Muslim Brotherhood; and remnants of the Brotherhood itself who could become leaders in a new Sunni opposition movement… [pp.13-14]

The Brotherhood’s role is seen as escalating the potential for initially small Sunni protest movements to morph into violent sectarian civil war:

Sunni dissidence has been minimal since Assad crushed the Muslim Brotherhood in the early 1980s, but deep-seated tensions remain–keeping alive the potential for minor incidents to grow into major flareups of communal violence… Excessive government force in quelling such disturbances might be seen by Sunnis as evidence of a government vendetta against all Sunnis, precipitating even larger protests by other Sunni groups…

Mistaking the new protests as a resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood, the government would step up its use of force and launch violent attacks on a broad spectrum of Sunni community leaders as well as on those engaged in protests. Regime efforts to restore order would founder if government violence against protestors inspired broad-based communal violence between Alawis and Sunnis. [pp.19-20]

The CIA report describes the final phase of an evolving sectarian war which witnesses the influx of fighters and weapons from neighboring countries. Consistent with a 1983 secret report that called for a US covert operation to utilize then US-allied Iraq as a base of attack on Syria, the 1986 analysis says, “Iraq might supply them with sufficient weapons to launch a civil war”:

A general campaign of Alawi violence against Sunnis might push even moderate Sunnis to join the opposition. Remnants of the Muslim Brotherhood–some returning from exile in Iraq–could provide a core of leadership for the movement. Although the regime has the resources to crush such a venture, we believe brutal attacks on Sunni civilians might prompt large numbers of Sunni officers and conscripts to desert or stage mutinies in support of dissidents, and Iraq might supply them with sufficient weapons to launch a civil war. [pp.20-21]

A Sunni regime serving Western economic interests

While the document is primarily a theoretical exploration projecting scenarios of Syrian regime weakening and collapse (its purpose is analysis and not necessarily policy), the authors admit of its “purposefully provocative” nature (see PREFACE) and closes with a list desired outcomes. One provocative outcome describes a pliant “Sunni regime” serving US economic interests:

In our view, US interests would be best served by a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates. Business moderates would see a strong need for Western aid and investment to build Syria’s private economy, thus opening the way for stronger ties to Western governments. [pg. 24]

Ironically, the Syrian government would accuse the United States and its allies of covert subversion within Syria after a string of domestic bombings created diplomatic tensions during the mid-1980’s.

Dirty tricks and diplomacy in the 1980’s

According to Patrick Seale’s landmark book, Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East, 1986 was a year that marked Syria’s greatest isolation among world powers as multiple diplomatic crises and terror events put Syria more and more out in the cold.

The year included “the Hindawi affair”a Syrian intelligence sponsored attempt to hijack and bomb an El Al flight to Tel Avivand may or may not have involved Nezar Hindawi working as a double agent on behalf of Israel. The foiled plot brought down international condemnation on Syria and lives on as one of the more famous and bizarre terror conspiracies in history. Not only were Syria and Israel once again generally on the brink of war in 1986, but a string of “dirty tricks” tactics were being utilized by Syria and its regional enemies to shape diplomatic outcomes primarily in Lebanon and Jordan.

In March and April of 1986 (months prior to the distribution of the CIA memo), a string of still largely unexplained car bombs rocked Damascus and at least 5 towns throughout Syria, leaving over 200 civilians dead in the most significant wave of attacks since the earlier ’79-’82 war with the Muslim Brotherhood (also see BBC News recount the attacks).

Patrick Seale’s book speculates of the bombings that, “It may not have been unconnected that in late 1985 the NSC’s Colonel Oliver North and Amiram Nir, Peres’s counter-terrorism expert, set up a dirty tricks outfit to strike back at the alleged sponsors of Middle East terrorism.”*

Consistency with future WikiLeaks files

The casual reader of Syria: Scenarios of Dramatic Political Change will immediately recognize a strategic thinking on Syria that looks much the same as what is revealed in national security memos produced decades later in the run up to the current war in Syria.

When US cables or intelligence papers talk regime change in Syria they usually strategize in terms of exploiting sectarian fault lines. In a sense, this is the US national security bureaucracy’s fall-back approach to Syria.

One well-known example is contained in a December 2006 State Dept. cable sent from the US embassy in Syria (subsequently released by WikiLeaks). The cable’s stated purpose is to explore Syrian regime vulnerabilities and weaknesses to exploit (in similar fashion to the 1986 CIA memo):

PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE: There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business.

Another section of the 2006 cable explains precisely the same scenario laid out in the 1986 memo in describing the increased “possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction” on the part of the regime.:

ENCOURAGE RUMORS AND SIGNALS OF EXTERNAL PLOTTING: The regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military. Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like [former Vice President Abdul Halim] Khaddam and [younger brother of Hafez] Rif’at Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards. This again touches on this insular regime’s paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction.

And ironically, Rif’at Asad and Khaddam are both mentioned extensively in the 1986 memo as key players during a speculative future “Succession Power Struggle.” [p.15]

An Islamic State in Damascus?

While the 1986 CIA report makes a case in its concluding paragraph for “a Sunni regime controlled by business-oriented moderates” in Syria, the authors acknowledge that the collapse of the Ba’ath state could actually usher in the worst of all possible outcomes for Washington and the region: “religious zealots” might seek to establish “an Islamic Republic”. The words take on a new and special importance now, after the rise of ISIS:

Although Syria’s secular traditions would make it extremely difficult for religious zealots to establish an Islamic Republic, should they succeed they would likely deepen hostilities with Israel and provide support and sanctuary to terrorists groups. [pg.24]

What continues to unfold in Syria has apparently surpassed even the worst case scenarios of intelligence planners in the 1980’s. Tinkering with regime change has proven itself to be the most dangerous of all games.

*Seale, Patrick. Asad of Syria : the struggle for the Middle East (Berkeley, CA : University of California Press, 1989)p.474.

Priest: ‘Media Coverage of Syria Biggest Lie of Our Time’

February 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Claims “popular uprising against Assad” complete media fabrication

Priest: 'Media Coverage of Syria Biggest Lie of Our Time'

Flemish Father Daniël Maes (78) lives in Syria in the sixth-century-old Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus.

Father Daniel has been a witness to the “civil war” and according to him, Western reports on the conflict in Syria are very misleading. In short: “the Americans and their allies want to completely ruin the country.”

Interviewer: You are very critical of the media coverage on Syria. What is bothering you?

Father Daniel: “The idea that a popular uprising took place against President Assad is completely false. I’ve been in Qara since 2010 and I have seen with my own eyes how agitators from outside Syria organized protests against the government and recruited young people. That was filmed and aired by Al Jazeera to give the impression that a rebellion was taking place. Murders were committed by foreign terrorists, against the Sunni and Christian communities, in an effort to sow religious and ethnic discord among the Syrian people. While in my experience, the Syrian people were actually very united.

Before the war, this was a harmonious country: a secular state in which different religious communities lived side by side peacefully. There was hardly any poverty, education was free, and health care was good. It was only not possible to freely express your political views. But most people did not care about that.”

Read full interview

The Media is Ignoring Leaked US-Government Documents on Syria

February 9, 2017 Leave a comment

kerry

The New Arab

Discussing western reporting of the Syrian war, veteran Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn recently noted ”fabricated news and one-sided reporting have taken over the news agenda to a degree probably not seen since the First World War”.

Professor Piers Robinson, Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism at the University of Sheffield, concurs, arguing

“We must now seriously entertain the possibility that the war in Syria has involved similar, if not greater, levels of manipulation and propaganda than that which occurred in the case of the 2003 Iraq War”.

An incredibly complex and confusing conflict with hundreds of opposition groups and multiple external actors often keen to hide many of their actions, how can journalists and the public get an accurate understanding of what is happening in Syria?

As governments routinely use their public statements to deceive the public, traditionally leaked government documents have been seen as the gold standard of journalistic sources – a unique opportunity to see what those in power are really thinking and doing behind closed doors.

“Policy-makers are usually frank about their real goals in the secret record”, notes British historian Mark Curtis in his book Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses.

When it comes to Syria there have been a number of US government documents leaked about US policy in the region. However, though these disclosures were reported by the media at the time, they have been quickly forgotten and have not contributed to the dominant narrative that has built up about the conflict.

As Professor Peter Kuznick noted about the American history he highlighted in The Untold History of the United States documentary series he co-wrote with director Oliver Stone, “the truth is that many of our ‘secrets’ have been hidden on the front page of The New York Times.”

For example, liberal journalists and commentators have repeatedly stated the US has, as Paul Mason wrote in the Guardian last year, “stood aloof from the Syrian conflict”. The leaked audio recording of a meeting between President Obama’s second Secretary of State John Kerry, and Syrian opposition figures last year shows the opposite to be true.

Challenged about the level of US support to the insurgency, Kerry turns to his aide and says: “I think we’ve been putting an extraordinary amount of arms in, haven’t we?” The aide agrees, noting “the armed groups in Syria get a lot of support”.

Amazingly, before noting the US had sent an “extraordinary amount of arms” to the rebels, Kerry tells the activists “we can always throw a lot of weapons in but I don’t think they are going to be good for you” because “everyone ups the ante” leading to “you all [getting] destroyed”.

This explanation of the logic of escalation is repeated later in the meeting by Kerry’s aide, who notes “when you pump more weapons into a situation like Syria it doesn’t end well for Syrians because there is always somebody else willing to pump more weapons in for the other side”.

A classified 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, published by the right-wing watchdog Judicial Watch, provides important context to Kerry’s remarks. In the heavily redacted document the DIA – the intelligence arm of the US Department of Defense – notes “the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI (al-Qaida in Iraq) are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” and “The West, Gulf countries and Turkey support the opposition”.

Speaking at a 2013 Jewish United Fund Advance & Major Gifts Dinner – the transcript of which was published by Wikileaks – former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that US ally Saudi Arabia “and others are shipping large amounts of weapons – and pretty indiscriminately – not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future”.

It gets worse. Discussing the crisis, the DIA report notes “There is the possibility of [the opposition] establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria… and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

This appalling revelation was seemingly confirmed by General Michael T Flynn, the Director of the DIA from 2012-14 (and now National Security Advisor to President Trump), in a 2015 interview with Al-Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan – and also, it seems, by Kerry when he told the Syrian activists:

“The reason Russia came in [to the conflict] is because ISIL [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] was getting stronger. Daesh [another name for ISIL] was threatening the possibility of going to Damascus and so forth… And we know that this was growing. We were watching. We saw that Daesh was growing in strength. And we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage – you know, that Assad might then negotiate, but instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him.”

In summary, the leaked information wholly contradicts the popular picture of western benevolent intentions let down by President Obama’s ineffective leadership and inaction.

Instead the evidence shows the US has been sending an “extraordinary amount” of weapons to the armed insurgents in Syria in the full knowledge that Salafists, the Muslim Brotherhood, and al-Qaeda in Iraq were the “major forces” driving the insurgency. They did this understanding that sending in weapons would escalate the fighting and not “end well for Syrians”.

Furthermore, the US has long known that its regional ally Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been supporting extremists in Syria. And, most shocking of all if true, both Kerry and the DIA report seem to show the US allowed forerunners to IS to expand and threaten the Syrian government as this corresponded with the US’s geo-strategic objectives.

More broadly, by highlighting how the US welcomed the growth of IS in Syria, the leaks fatally undermine the entire rationale of the “War on Terror” the West has supposedly been fighting since 2001. These are, in short, bombshells that should be front page news, with lengthy investigative follow ups and hundreds of op-eds outraged at the lies and hypocrisy of western governments.

Instead, the disclosures have disappeared down the memory hole, with the huge gap between the importance of the revelations and the lack of coverage indicating a frighteningly efficient propaganda system.

It is worth noting however, that as an observer and newsreader – rather than seasoned expert – there may well be important context or information of which I am unaware, which provides a different take on the leaked material. This would lessen its importance and, therefore, justify the media having largely ignored it.

Of course, the best way of confirming the accuracy and importance of the leaks is for the media to do its job and thoroughly investigate the disclosures, to devote significant resources and manpower to the story, and to ask awkward and searching questions of established power.

I’m not holding my breath.

Ian Sinclair is a freelance writer based in London and the author of The March that Shook Blair: An Oral History of 15 February 2003. He tweets @IanJSinclair

“The Media Coverage on Syria is the Biggest Media Lie of our Time”: Interview with Flemish Priest in Syria

January 30, 2017 Leave a comment

download_3_

Flemish Father Daniël Maes (78) lives in Syria in the sixth-century-old Mar Yakub monastery in the city of Qara, 90 kilometers north of the capital Damascus. Father Daniel has been a witness to the “civil war” and according to him, Western reports on the conflict in Syria are very misleading. In short: “the Americans and their allies want to completely ruin the country.”

Interviewer: You are very critical of the media coverage on Syria. What is bothering you?

Father Daniel: “The idea that a popular uprising took place against President Assad is completely false. I’ve been in Qara since 2010 and I have seen with my own eyes how agitators from outside Syria organized protests against the government and recruited young people. That was filmed and aired by Al Jazeera to give the impression that a rebellion was taking place. Murders were committed by foreign terrorists, against the Sunni and Christian communities, in an effort to sow religious and ethnic discord among the Syrian people. While in my experience, the Syrian people were actually very united.

Before the war, this was a harmonious country: a secular state in which different religious communities lived side by side peacefully. There was hardly any poverty, education was free, and health care was good. It was only not possible to freely express your political views. But most people did not care about that.”

Interviewer: Mother Agnès-Mariam, of your Mar Yakub (“Saint Jacob”) monastery, is accused of siding with the regime. She has friends at the highest level.

Father Daniel: “mother Agnès-Mariam helps the population: she has recently opened a soup kitchen in Aleppo, where 25,000 meals are prepared five times a week. Look, it is miraculous that we are still alive. We owe that to the army of Assad’s government and to Vladimir Putin, because he decided to intervene when the rebels threatened to take power.

When thousands of terrorists settled in Qara, we became afraid for our lives. They came from the Gulf States, Saudi Arabia, Europe, Turkey, Libya, there were many Chechens. They formed a foreign occupation force, all allied to al-Qaeda and other terrorists. Armed to the teeth by the West and their allies with the intention to act against us, they literally said: “This country belongs to us now.” Often, they were drugged, they fought each other, in the evening they fired randomly. We had to hide in the crypts of the monastery for a long time. When the Syrian army chased them away, everybody was happy: the Syrian citizens because they hate the foreign rebels, and we because peace had returned.”

Interviewer: You say that the Syrian Army protects civilians, yet there are all sorts of reports about war crimes committed by Assad’s forces, such as the bombardments with barrel bombs.

Father Daniel: “Do you not know that the media coverage on Syria is the biggest media lie of our time? They have sold pure nonsense about Assad: It was actually the rebels who plundered and killed. Do you think that the Syrian people are stupid?Do you think those people were forced to cheer for Assad and Putin? It is the Americans who have a hand in all of this, for pipelines and natural resources in this region and to thwart Putin.”

Saudi Arabia and Qatar want to establish a Sunni state in Syria, without religious freedom. Therefore, Assad must go. You know, when the Syrian army was preparing for the battle in Aleppo, Muslim soldiers came to me to be blessed. Between ordinary Muslims and Christians, there is no problem. It is those radical Islamic, Western-backed rebels who want to massacre us. They are all al Qaeda and IS. There are not any moderate fighters anymore.”

Interviewer: You once mentioned Hillary Clinton to be a ‘devil in holy water’, because as foreign minister, she deliberately worsened the conflict.

Father Daniel: “I am happy with Trump. He sees what every normal person understands: That the United States should stop undermining countries which possess natural resources. The Americans’ attempt to impose a unipolar world is the biggest problem. Trump understands that radical Islam is a bigger threat than Russia.

What do I care whether he occasionally takes off his pants? If Trump practices geopolitics the way he has promised to do so, then the future looks bright. Then it will become similar to Putin’s approach. And hopefully then, there will be a solution for Syria, and peace will return.”

Interviewer: You understand that your analysis is controversial and will encounter much criticism?

Father Daniel: “I speak from personal observation. And no one has to believe me, right? But I know one thing: The media can either contribute to the massacre of the Syrian people or help the Syrian people, with their media coverage. Unfortunately, there are too many followers and cowards among journalists.”

Anti-Assad Group Urge Israel To Intervene In Syria

January 19, 2017 Leave a comment

Anti-Assad Group Urge Israel To Intervene In Syria

A Syrian opposition group have called for Israeli intervention in Syria to help overthrow President Bashar al-Assad

The group comprised of certain foreign-based oppositionists have openly pleaded with Israel to directly confront Assad

Press TV reports:

The so-called National Salvation Front in Syria, which represents certain members of the anti-Damascus  opposition in diaspora, including some who are based in France and Belgium, also proposed a “roadmap” for closer relations with Tel Aviv, the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported on Monday.

Citing an Israeli radio station, SANA said the roadmap features the recognition of Israel by a post-Assad Syrian regime, arriving at a compromise over the issue of Syria’s Golan Heights, which have been occupied by Tel Aviv since 1967, and the setting up of friendly ties and strategic cooperation between the two sides.

The plan also obligates the dissolution of all Syria-based anti-Israeli Palestinian resistance groups.

The group’s spokesman Fahd al-Masri, meanwhile, released audio and video messages, demanding that Tel Aviv expand its support for anti-Damascus militants.

The Israeli regime has been a vociferous supporter of the Assad administration’s ouster. It has been arming the Takfiri militants fighting the government forces and providing treatment for those arriving in Golan Heights under the pretext that it would render such service to those in “its” territory.

Last year, Riad Hijab, the head of a Saudi-backed so-called opposition group, known as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), met with former Israeli Minister of Military Affairs Moshe Ya’alon on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

In the past, Kamal al-Labwani, a well-known anti-Assad activist with close ties with US and Israeli officials, hailed Tel Aviv for its support for the militants, and urged the regime to establish a safe zone for them on the border with the Golan Heights.

Syria Warns It Will Retaliate After Israeli Jets Strike Military Airport

January 14, 2017 Leave a comment

The Syrian Arab Army say that Israeli jets carried out airstrikes on the the Mezzeh military airport, west of Damascus on Friday.

According to several reports, the airport compound was reportedly hit by several rockets leaving an as-yet unknown number of people dead.

Following the attack, the Syrian state news agency SANA have accused Israel of supporting terrorism.

The airport and area surrounding it are used primarily as support for the elite Syrian Revolutionary Guard and has been the base of operations for targeting rebel positions in the suburbs of Damascus.

RT reports:

The Syrian Arab Army has warned that there will be repercussions for Israel for the “flagrant attack” on the military base, state TV said, citing a Syrian army command spokesman. It also linked the alleged strike to Israel’s “support of terrorist groups.”

The army said several missiles were fired at the Mezzeh airport’s compounds from the Lake Tiberias area in northern Israel at about 12am Friday. The strike reportedly damaged one of the compounds of the crucial military facility.

The Mezzeh airport is located west of Damascus, just 5 kilometers from the Presidential Palace, the official residence of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

There was no information on the death toll resulting from the airstrike immediately available. The base is reported to house Syria’s elite Republican Guards and Special Forces.

Footage from the scene with heavy fire and the sounds of explosions has surfaced on social media. Multiple reports from journalists and activists on the ground described the bombing, with the opposition also reporting there were rockets fired.

 

“Rockets strike at Mezzeh Military airport in Damascus minutes ago,” tweeted Hadi al-Bahra, former president of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces.

This is the second time in two months the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has being accused by the Syrian government of targeting Syrian positions from Israeli territory.

On December 7, SANA reported that “several surface-to-surface missiles” were launched by the IDF from the Golan Heights. At the time, the source in the Syrian armed forces slammed the attack as a “desperate attempt” by Israel to endorse terrorists.

On Thursday, at least nine people were killed and several others injured as result of a suicide attack in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood in Damascus. The terrorist had reportedly detonated an explosive belt near the al-Muhafaza sports club, SANA reported. RT’s Lizzie Phelan reported, citing a National Defense Forces (NDF) commander on the ground, that allegedly as many as five perpetrators took part in the attack, out of which three managed to escape and one was killed by a sniper.

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