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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

US targets Syria infrastructure rather than militants: Sabrosky

Video here

Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:12PM GMT

The United States’ airstrikes in Syria often target militants with “no military value” and actually aim at the country’s infrastructure, says a US Marine Corps veteran.

Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan) made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Tuesday while commenting on Washington-led coalition airstrikes in Syria that began last week.

“What I can see happening is that the targets they’re selecting are those that have, in many cases, no military value at all to ISIS or any other rebel group but really are intended to break whatever infrastructure the Syrian government will have when the fighting is over,” Sabrosky said.

Washington intends to inflict “such damage to the economic and industrial infrastructure within Syria that any Syrian government after the fighting will be so weakened that it will be vulnerable to further attacks.”

Sabrosky, a US Army War College graduate, also noted that it is important for the international community to understand that war has become “a normal part of the political, public, and social environment” in the US as the country is “now entering its 14th year of continuous warfare.”

“That is extremely dangerous for a lot of other countries,” he stated.

The US started conducting airstrikes on the ISIL terrorists only after US interests were threatened by the militants.

The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, control large parts of Syria's northern territory. ISIL sent its fighters into Iraq in June, quickly seizing vast expanse of land straddling the border between the two countries.

Syria has been gripped by deadly violence since 2011 with ISIL Takfiri terrorists currently controlling parts of it mostly in the east.

The Western powers and their regional allies -- especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- are reportedly supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

More than 191,000 people have been killed in over three years of fighting in the war-ravaged country, says the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), calling the figure a probable “underestimate of the real total number of people killed.

NT/GJH
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Obama's Phony War on Islamic State Militants

Notice to Mr. Lendman's readers


Hospitalized at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago Monday evening for a skin infection. Hopefully for 2 or 3 days only to clear it up.



ED: As one of Mr. Lendman's readers I am awaiting his return and his great contribution in revealing Truth. 
--------  
Obama's Phony War on Islamic State Militants

Obama murders civilian men, women and children he calls militants. Terrorists. Eyewitnesses explain otherwise. More on this below.

He lied claiming he'll degrade and destroy IS's fighting capability. He supports it instead. Previous articles explained.

They're US proxies. Shock troops. Foot soldiers. Boots on the ground. US special forces and CIA operatives train them in Jordan and Turkey.

They're taught effective ways to kill. Dirty ways. Using chemical weapons. Committing atrocities. Including beheadings and other barbarian acts.

Syrian targets struck aren't Islamic State ones. They include vital infrastructure, oil facilities, grain silos with food, empty buildings, residential homes and noncombatant men, women and children.

Exact numbers killed and injured aren't clear. Various estimates differ. The toll rises daily.

On September 23, the Los Angeles Times headlined "Syrians say civilians killed in US airstrikes," explaining:

Video evidence from Northwestern Syria "shows Idlib province residents going through motions that have become all too familiar in three years of civil war between antigovernment rebels and the forces of President Bashar Assad…"

They're "surveying the remnants of flattened homes and picking through the debris."

"This time" Washington bears full responsibility. One Syrian perhaps spoke for others, saying:

"Mass destruction (was inflicted on) civilian homes as a result of the strikes of the Western alliance on the civilians in the western Idlib suburbs. Look, it is all civilian homes."

So-called Pentagon photographic evidence is fake. Claiming IL targets were struck is false.

Scores of so-called attacks against it in Iraq haven't scratched its capability. Nor have they in Syria. Nor will they. Nor are they intended to. Obama lied claiming otherwise.

According to the Times:

Syrians say "as many as two dozen civilians were killed…" As of six days ago. Likely dozens more perished in daily strikes since then.

Washington considers civilians legitimate targets in all its wars. Millions perished in Afghanistan. Millions more in Iraq Wars I, II plus years of sanctions.

Libya claimed well over 100,000 lives. Perhaps double or triple that number. No one knows for sure.

Obama's Iraq and Syrian wars may claim millions before they end.
Washington doesn't keep body counts. Independent sources estimate best they can.

Syrians fear US bombings for good reason. They're in harm's way. They're afraid they'll be struck.

One Syrian resident said IS fighters dispersed. So did other militants. They left areas likely to be targeted. Civilians suffered most casualties.

Lt. General William Mayville heads US Joint Chiefs of Staff operations. He lied claiming no knowledge "of any civilian casualties."

He's fully briefed on daily operations. "If any reports of civilian casualties emerge, we will fully investigate," he said.

So-called Pentagon investigations cover up, deny and obfuscate. It's longstanding operational procedure. 
It suppresses crimes of war and against humanity. It conceals dirty war. Its atrocities. Without mercy. Without restraint. Without regard for rule of law principles, standards and norms.

On September 28, Human Rights Watch (HRW) headlined "US/Syria: Investigate Possible Unlawful US Strikes," saying:

Idlib airstrikes killed at least eight civilians. They "should be investigated for possible violations of the laws of war."

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby lied, claiming "no credible reporting from operational sources" of civilian deaths. Syrians able to observe dead men, women and children explained otherwise.

"Three local residents told Human Rights Watch that missiles killed at least two men, two women, and five children, in the early morning hours on September 23 in the village of Kafr Deryan in northern Idlib," said HRW.

US wars normalize the unthinkable. Civilian lives don't matter. Crimes of war and against humanity are considered collateral damage.

Residents said missiles struck two homes in Kafr Deryan. They killed at least five children, two women and two men…"

According to HRW: "The reported killing of at least seven civilians in strikes in which there may have been no legitimate military target nearby raises concerns that the strikes were unlawful under the laws of war and should be investigated."

Expect whitewash instead. It's standard US practice. Hegemons don't admit culpability. Or say they're sorry. They blame victims for their crimes.

Residents said "there there were no Jabhat al-Nusra buildings, checkpoints, or vehicles in the vicinity of the strike in the village," said HRW,

Pentagon officials knew it. They spent weeks gathering intelligence. Choosing targets.

Striking homes with civilians shows contempt for human lives. It shows America wages dirty wars. It kills indiscriminately.

Its sanctimonious objectives are false. Hypocritical. Big Lies. War crimes and then some. Expect lots more ahead.

HRW listed victims by names. They weren't terrorists. They were innocent victims in harm's way.

"Video footage posted on YouTube on September 23 by a local activist who spoke to Human Rights Watch shows some of the civilians injured in the strikes and the aftermath of the attacks," said HRW.

"Another video posted by the Shaam News Network showed three children, two who appear to have been killed, and one who appears to have been injured in the missile strikes."

"An additional video, posted on YouTube by the local activist who spoke to Human Rights Watch, shows two children being rushed to receive medical treatment in the aftermath of the attack, and another shows an adult victim being pulled out of the rubble."

A Kafr Deryan resident said "six additional civilians - three children and three women - were also killed in the strikes on the villages but Human Rights Watch was unable to verify this claim," according to HRW.

"He said that approximately 15 others, including women and children, were injured."

Three Kafr Deryan residents said "civilians were all killed when missiles struck their homes directly, and two of the residents said they had seen weapons remnants at the site of the destroyed homes, suggesting that the strikes directly caused the fatalities," according to HRW.

Another said "he was at the scene of the attack on the two residences about 10 minutes after the strikes and that he and other activists collected the remnants from the weapons used in the strikes and videotaped them and posted some of the footage of the aftermath of the strikes on YouTube."

HRW said it "reviewed his footage and has identified the remnants as debris of a turbofan engine from a Tomahawk cruise missile, a weapon that only the US and British governments have."

"Witness accounts suggest that the attack on the village harmed civilians but did not strike a military target, violating the laws of war by failing to discriminate between combatants and civilians, or that it unlawfully caused civilian loss disproportionate to the expected military advantage," it added.

"The US government should investigate credible allegations of violations of the laws of war, such the strikes on Kafr Deryan, and publish its findings…"

"In the event of wrongdoing, the United States should ensure accountability and provide appropriate redress."

"Further, the United States should take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians in future attacks."

Obama ordered Iraqi and Syrian airstrikes lawlessly. He did so preemptively. With no legal authority.

No Security Council approval. No congressional declaration of war. No adversary threatening America. Doing so constitutes high criminality against peace.

Indiscriminately killing noncombatant men, women and children adds more high crimes to his rap sheet. He's guilty as charged.

He remains unaccountable. He operates this way. He gives rogue leadership new meaning. He's unapologetic. He blames victims for his crimes.

Expect lots more mass slaughter and destruction before his Iraqi and Syrian wars end. High crimes against peace. The supreme crime. Genocide. It's the American way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 
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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Nearly $1 Billion Already Spent on US Military Campaign Against ISIS

By RT
Global Research, September 30, 2014
estimate-cost-isis-war.si_-400x224A pair of U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles fly over northern Iraq after conducting airstrikes in Syria, in this U.S. Air Force handout photo taken early in the morning of September 23, 2014. (Reuters/U.S. Air Force/Senior Airman Matthew)

The US-led military operation against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) militants has likely so far cost between $780 and $930 million, according to an estimate by Washington-based think tank specializing in defense issues.
The estimate is part of a report attempting to forecast how much the operation might cost in the future. It was published on Monday by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), that’s influential with the US Department of Defense.

The think tank’s defense experts, many of whom are military veterans, have used a figure given by the Pentagon itself, which said that the military operations against the Islamic State cost $530 million through August 26.
The group’s own estimate covers the period from August 27 through September 24 and is based on “what is publicly known about the number of targets struck, the types of aircraft and munitions used, the basing options available to US forces in the region, and the number US ground forces in the region.”

The various costs associated with the military actions against the IS have been reflected in a graphic, issued by the CSBA.

View image on Twitter
How much will operations against  cost? CSBA’s estimate:

http://www.csbaonline.org/publications/2014/09/estimating-the-cost-of-operations-against-isil/ 
The total cost to date from mid-June through September 24 is likely between $780 and $930 million,” the report says.

It further comes up with possible estimates of three scenarios of the way the military operation will develop in the region.

Assuming a moderate level of air operations and 2,000 deployed ground forces, the costs would likely run between $200 and $320 million per month,” the study says.

If the airstrikes moderately intensify and 5,000 ground forces are deployed, the cost would be driven to $350 and $570 million per month.

Finally, if the military campaign “expands significantly” and 25,000 US troops are deployed, the monthly cost of the operation might grow to $1.1 to $1.8 billion.

Annually the first scenario would cost the American budget $2.4 to $3.8 billion per year, while the third, highest-intensity, one would require the US to spend $22 billion.

The US started the military operation against the Islamic State in June 2014 by increasing support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces fighting the extremist group.

The US airstrikes against the Islamic State targets in Iraq were launched August 8 and in Syria September 23. President Obama made a decision on the airstrikes without the authorization of the US Congress. Lawmakers might not vote on the move until next year, congressional aides told Reuters on Monday.

Members of Congress left Washington in mid-September to campaign for upcoming elections. They will return in mid-November and will likely be reluctant to vote on authorization for the use of military force in Iraq and Syria in the last weeks of the current Congress.

President Obama announced crackdown on the Islamic State group in a landmark September 10 speech. He specified that American ground troops would not be involved in the fight against the militants.

Senior US military officials have, however, not excluded the ‘boots on the ground’ option. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said in mid-September that should Obama’s current strategy not yield the desired results, he would recommend deploying American troops on the ground.

Estimates on the possible cost of the military campaign have varied. Last week, a defense spending expert, Gordon Adams, a professor of US foreign policy at American University, told Huffington Post he estimated the United States’ war on the militant group could be costing taxpayers up to $1.5 billion a month.


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CAIR And The Clowns Of Muslim American Organziations


[Ikhras Note: The following post first appeared on The Angry Arab Blog on September 27, 2014 (photo added by ikhras). CAIR is the highest-profile House Muslim organization in the US and a recipient of the ikhras shoe-of-the-month award. To learn more about this corrosive, establishment organizationvisit ikhras.]

You know the story: all Muslim and Arab American organizations in DC have fallen under the direct influence of Gulf regimes, as have most Arabs journalists in the capital. This happened right after 1990 when the Saudi regime sent various princes to close the deal to control all Arab media and organizations in the West (as many were under the influence of Saddam or Qadhdhafi). 

Saudi Arabia did not want dissent from Arabs in the West lest they disturb their lobbying and propaganda efforts in the West. I read that CAIR and other Muslim American organizations held a press conference to issue statements against ISIS: as if any Muslims in the US or elsewhere listen to them and adhere to their standards. And why is it their business to issue exclusive denunciations?

Were Jewish organizations expected during the savage war on Gaza to issue statements of denunciations against Israeli terrorism? And don’t they with their theatrics not reinforce the association between Islam and the terrorism and kooky ideology of ISIS (shared by the same patrons of Arab and Muslim organizations in DC)?

They should if they want condemn terrorism in all its form and not focus on “Islamic terrorism” and they should even categorically reject the notion that there is a religious label to terrorism.  But then again: it is a job and they have to do it and those are willing to abandon two of the five pillars of Islam in return for a photo op at the White House.  Instead, they should say that ISIS should be blamed on the foreign policies of the US and its allies who have in the last several decades produced the monsters of Al-Qa`idah and ISIS, among other terrorists roaming the Middle East region.

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Obama: We can’t stabilise Syria under Assad, so we will destabilise instead

Posted on  by michaellee2009

Embedded image permalink 
As a US-led coalition continues to strike ISIL strongholds inside Syria, President Barack Obama says “we are not going to stabilize” the country under President Bashar al-Assad. In an interview aired Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes” program, Obama acknowledged the contradictory nature of his Syria strategy."I recognize the contradiction in a contradictory land and a contradictory circumstance."

The US president explained that the military campaign against the ISIL terror network and al-Qaeda-affiliated groups was also helping the Syrian government. Many militants who were initially trained and armed by the US and some of its Arab allies to fight the government of President Assad later joined the ISIL terrorist organization.

 Obama has authorized airstrikes against ISIL militants in Iraq and Syria, but has repeatedly ruled out American boots on the ground in a combat role, a promise many experts say might soon be broken. The administration hopes that local forces, comprised of “moderate” militants in Syria and military forces and Kurdish fighters in Iraq, would lead the ground offensive against ISIL, and recapture the lost territory.

 As part of that strategy, the US Congress approved a plan earlier this month for the Pentagon to begin arming and equipping 5,000 so-called moderate insurgents in Syria.

 Pentagon leaders have said a force of up to 15,000 trained militants was required in Syria to take on both ISIL and the Assad government. In Iraq, the US has deployed about 1,600 troops to bolster security for American diplomats and facilities there and “advise” Iraqi government forces fighting the ISIL militants. Earlier on Sunday, House Speaker John Boehner said the United States may have "no choice" but to send American troops to combat if the current strategy failed. Obama said Sunday that the coalition’s military campaign had “a strong chance for success in Iraq" but added that Syria was “a more challenging situation.” The president also admitted that the US intelligence had "underestimated what had been taking place in Syria."
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Why Syrians support Bashar al Assad


Sep 30, 2014, Tim Anderson, Pravda
The sudden reversion of Washington to a ‘war on terror’ pretext for intervention in Syria has confused western audiences. For three years they watched ‘humanitarian intervention’ stories, which poured contempt on the Syrian President’s assertion that he was fighting foreign backed terrorists. Now the US claims to be leading the fight against those same terrorists.
But what do Syrians think, and why do they continue to support a man the western powers have claimed is constantly attacking and terrorising ‘his own people’? To understand this we must consider the huge gap between the western caricature of Bashar al Assad the ‘brutal dictator’ and the popular and urbane figure within Syria.
If we believed most western media reports we would think President Assad has launched repeated and indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas, including the gassing of children. We might also think he heads an ‘Alawi regime’, where a 12% minority represses a Sunni Muslim majority, crushing a popular ‘revolution’ which, only recently, has been ‘hijacked’ by extremists.
The central problem with these portrayals is Bashar’s great popularity at home. The fact that there is popular dissatisfaction with corruption and cronyism, and that an authoritarian state maintains a type of personality cult, does not negate the man’s genuine popularity. His strong win in Syria’s first multi-candidate elections in June dismayed his regional enemies, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey; but it did not stop their aggression.
Syrians saw things differently.  Bashar was thought to maintain his father’s pluralist and nationalist tradition, while modernising and holding out the promise of political reform. Opinion polls in Syria had shown major dissatisfaction with corruption and political cronyism, mixed views on the economy but strong satisfaction with stability, women’s rights and the country’s independent foreign policy. The political reform rallies of 2011 – countered by pro-government rallies and quickly overshadowed by violent insurrection – were not necessarily anti Bashar.
The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and other sectarian Islamist groups did hate him, along with the secular state. Yet even these enemies, in their better moments, recognized he man’s popularity. In late 2011 a Doha Debates poll (created by the Qatari monarchy, a major backer of the Muslim Brotherhood) showed 55% of Syrians wanted Assad to stay.
Armed Islamists went further. In 2012 Reuters, the UK Guardian and Time magazine reported three ‘Free Syrian Army’ (FSA) leaders in Aleppo saying the Syrian President had about ’70 percent’ support; or that the local people, ‘all of them, are loyal to the criminal Bashar, they inform on us’; or that they are ‘all informers … they hate us. They blame us for the destruction’.  Unpopularity, of course, is fatal to a revolution; to a religious fanatic it is merely inconvenient. All three FSA groups were Islamists on good terms with al Qaeda.
None of these revelations changed the western media reliance on Muslim Brotherhood-aligned sources, ‘activists’ or ‘moderate rebels’. They relied, in particular, on the UK-based Rami Abdul Rahman, who calls himself the ‘Syrian Observatory of Human Rights’. Such sources kept ‘Bashar the Monster’ alive, outside Syria.
Central to the Bashar myth are two closely related stories: that of the ‘moderate rebel’ and the story that conjures ‘Assad loyalists’ or ‘regime forces’ in place of a large, dedicated national army, with broad popular support.  To understand the Bashar myth we have to consider the Syrian Arab Army.
At over half a million, the Army is so large that most Syrian communities have strong family links, including with those fallen in the war. There are regular ceremonies for families of these ‘martyrs’, with thousands proudly displaying photos of their loved ones. Further, most of the several million Syrians, displaced by the conflict, have not left the country but rather have moved to other parts under Army protection. This is not really explicable if the Army were indeed engaged in ‘indiscriminate’ attacks on civilians. A repressive army invokes fear and loathing in a population, yet in Damascus one can see that people do not cower as they pass through the many army road blocks, set up to protect against ‘rebel’ car bombs.
من مجازر الاخوان المسلمين سوريةSyrians know there were abuses against demonstrators in early 2011; they also know that the President dismissed the Governor of Dara for this. They know that the armed insurrection was not a consequence of the protests but rather a sectarian insurrection that took cover under those rallies. Saudi official Anwar el-Eshki admitted to the BBC that his country had provided weapons to Islamists in Dara, and their rooftop sniping closely resembled the Muslim Brotherhood’s failed insurrection in Hama, back in 1982. Hafez al Assad crushed that revolt in a few weeks. Of the incident US intelligence said total casualties were probably ‘about 2,000′ including ’300 to 400′ members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s elite militia. The Brotherhood and many western sources have since inflated those numbers, calling it a ‘massacre’. Armed Islamists posing as civilian victims have a long history in Syria.
Quite a number of Syrians have criticized President Assad to me, but not in the manner of the western media. They say they wanted him to be as firm as his father. Many in Syria regard him as too soft, leading to the name ‘Mr Soft Heart’. Soldiers in Damascus told me there is an Army order to make special efforts to capture alive any Syrian combatant. This is controversial, as many regard them as traitors, no less guilty than foreign terrorists.
What of the ‘moderate rebels’? Before the rise of ISIS, back in late 2011, the largest FSA brigade, Farouk, the original ‘poster boys’ of the ‘Syrian Revolution’, took over parts of Homs city. One US report called them ‘legitimate nationalists … pious rather than Islamists and not motivated by sectarianism’. The International Crisis Group suggested that Farouk might be ‘pious’ rather than Islamist. The Wall Street Journal also called them ‘pious Sunnis’ rather than Islamists. The BBC called them ‘moderately Islamist’.
All this was quite false. Syrians in Homs said Farouk went into the city with the genocidal slogan: ‘Alawis to the grave, Christians to Beirut’. Shouting ‘God is Great’ they blew up Homs hospital, because it had been treating soldiers. The churches blamed Farouk for the ethnic cleansing of more than 50,000 Christians from the city, and for the imposition of an Islamist tax. Journalist Radwan Mortada says most Farouk members were sectarian Salafis, armed and funded by Saudi Arabia. They later happily worked with the various al Qaeda groups, and were first to blame their own atrocities on the Army.
Let’s consider some key accusations against the Syrian Arab Army. In May 2012, days before a UN Security Council meeting set to debate possible intervention in Syria, there was a terrible massacre of over 100 villagers at Houla. Western governments immediately blamed the Syrian Government, which in turn accused the foreign-backed terrorists. Western officials at first blamed Army shelling, changing their story when it was found most had died from close quarter injuries. One UN report (UNSMIS) was shelved while another (CoI), co-chaired by US diplomat Karen Koning AbuZayd, blamed un-named pro-government ‘thugs’. No motive was given.
Although the Houla massacre did not result in a Libyan-styled intervention, because of opposition at the UN from Russia and China, controversy raged over the authors of this atrocity. German and Russian journalists, along with the Mother Superior of a Monastery, managed to interview survivors who said that a large Farouk battalion, led by Abdul Razzaq Tlass, had overwhelmed five small army posts and slaughtered the villagers. The gang had sought out pro-government and Alawi families, along with some Sunni families who had taken part in recent elections.
One year later a detailed, independent report (by Correggia, Embid, Hauben and Larson) documented how the second UN Houla investigation (the CoI) was tainted. Rather than visiting Syria they had relied on Farouk leaders and associates to link them to witnesses. They ignored another dozen direct witnesses who contradicted the ‘rebel’ story. In short, they tried to bury a real crime with identified perpetrators and a clear motive. As Adam Larson later wrote, the ‘official’ Houla massacre story was shown to be ‘extremely ambiguous at best and at worst a fairly obvious crime of the US-supported Contras’.
Houla set the tone for a series of similar ‘false flag’ massacre claims. When 245 people were murdered in Daraya (August 2012), media reports citing ‘opposition’ activists’ said that ‘Assad’s army has committed a massacre’. This was contradicted by British journalist Robert Fisk, who wrote that the FSA had slaughtered kidnapped civilian and off-duty soldier hostages, after a failed attempt to swap them for prisoners held by the army. Similarly, when 120 villagers were slaughtered at Aqrab (December 2013) the New York Times headline read ‘Members of Assad’s Sect Blamed in Syria Killings’. In fact, as British journalist Alex Thompson discovered, it was the victims who were from the President’s Alawi community. Five hundred Alawis had been held by FSA groups for nine days before the fleeing gangs murdered a quarter of them. Yet, without close examination, each accusation seemed to add to the crimes of the Syrian Army, at least to those outside Syria.
Another line of attack was that there had been ‘indiscriminate’ bombing of rebel held areas, resulting in civilian casualties. The relevant question was, how did they dislodge armed groups from urban centres? Those interested can see some detail of this in the liberation of Qusayr, a town near the Lebanese border which had been occupied by Farouk and other salafi groups, including foreigners. The Army carried out ‘surgical attacks’ but, in May 2013, after the failure of negotiations, decided on all-out assault. They dropped leaflets from planes, calling on civilians to evacuate. Anti-government groups were said to have stopped many from leaving, while an ‘activist’ spokesman claimed there was ‘no safe exit for civilians’. In opportunistic criticism, the US State Department expressed ‘deep concern’ over the leafleting, claiming that ‘ordering the displacement of the civilian population’ showed ‘the regime’s ongoing brutality’.
As it happened, on June 5 the Army backed by Hezbollah, liberated Qusayr, driving the remnants of Farouk FSA and their al Qaeda partners into Lebanon. This operation, in principle at least, was what one would have expected of any army facing terrorist groups embedded in civilian areas. At this point the war began turning decisively in Syria’s favour.
Accusations of ‘indiscriminate bombing’ recur. In opportunist questioning, more than a year later, British journalist John Snow demanded of Syrian Presidential adviser Dr Bouthaina Shaaban why the Syrian Army had not driven ISIS from Aleppo? A few questions later he attacked the Army for its ‘indiscriminate’ bombing of that same city. The fact is, most urban fighting in Syria is by troops on the ground.
The most highly politicised atrocity was the chemical attack of August 2013, in the Eastern Ghouta region, just outside Damascus. The Syrian Government had for months been complaining about terrorist gas attacks and had invited UN inspectors to Damascus. As these inspectors arrived ‘rebel’ groups, posted videos on dead children online, blaming the Syrian Government for a new massacre. The US government and the Washington based Human Rights Watch group were quick to agree. The UN investigation of Islamist chemical attacks was shelved and attention moved to the gassed children. The western media demanded military intervention. A major escalation of the war was only defused by Russian intervention and a proposal that Syria hand over its chemical weapons stockpile; a stockpile it maintained had never been used.
Saturation reporting of the East Ghouta incident led many western journalists to believe that the charges against the Syrian Government were proven. To the contrary, those claims were systematically demolished by a series of independent reports. Very soon after, a Jordan-based journalist reported that residents in the East Ghouta area blamed ‘Saudi Prince Bandar … of providing chemical weapons to an al-Qaeda linked rebel group’. Next, a Syrian group, led by Mother Agnes Mariam, provided a detailed examination of the video evidence, saying the massacre videos preceded the attack and used ‘staged’ and ‘fake’ images. Detailed reports also came from outside Syria. Veteran US journalist Seymour Hersh wrote that US intelligence evidence had been fabricated and ‘cherry picked … to justify a strike against Assad’. A Turkish lawyers and writers group said ‘most of the crimes’ against Syrian civilians, including the East Ghouta attack, were committed by ‘armed rebel forces in Syria’. The Saudi backed FSA group Liwa al Islam was most likely responsible for the chemical attack on Ghouta. A subsequent UN report did not allocate blame but confirmed that chemical weapons had been used on at least five occasions in Syria. On three occasions they were used ‘against soldiers and civilians’. The clear implication was that these were anti-government attacks by rebels. MIT investigators Lloyd and Postol concluded that the Sarin gas ‘could not possibly have been fired … from Syrian Government controlled area’.
Despite the definitive nature of these reports, combined, neither the US Government nor Human Rights Watch have retracted or apologised for their false accusations. Indeed, western government and media reports repeat the claims as though they were fact, even falsely enlisting UN reports, at times, as corroboration.
——————-
When I met President Assad, with a group of Australians, his manner was entirely consistent with the pre-2011 image of the mild-mannered eye doctor. He expressed deep concern with the impact on children of witnessing terrorist atrocities while fanatics shout ‘God is Great’. The man is certainly no brute, in the manner of Saddam Hussein or George W. Bush.
The key factor in Syria’s survival has been the cohesion, dedication and popular support for the Army. Syrians know that their Army represents pluralist Syria and has been fighting sectarian, foreign backed terrorism. This Army did not fracture on sectarian lines, as the Takfiris had hoped, and defections have been small, certainly less than 2%.
Has the Army committed abuses? Probably, but mainly against the armed groups. There is some evidence of execution of foreign terrorists. That is certainly a crime, but probably has a fair degree of popular support in Syria, at the moment. The main constraint on such abuses seems to be the army order from ‘Mr Soft Heart’, to save the lives of Syrian rebels.
However, despite the repeated claims by sectarian Islamists and their western backers, there is no convincing evidence that the Syrian Army has deliberately bombed and gassed civilians. Nor would there be a motive for it.  Nor does the behaviour of people on the streets support it. Most Syrians do not blame their army for the horrendous violence of this war, but rather the foreign backed terrorists.
These are the same terrorists backed by the governments of the USA, Britain and France, hiding behind the fig-leaf of the mythical ‘moderate rebel’ while reciting their catalogue of fabricated accusations.
The high participation rate (73%) in June’s presidential elections, despite the war, was at least as significant as the strong vote (88%) Bashar received. Even the BBC could not hide the large crowds that came out to vote, especially those that mobbed the Syrian Embassy in Beirut.
Participation rates are nowhere as near in the US; indeed no western leader can claim such a strong democratic mandate as this ‘dictator’. The size of Bashar’s win underlines a stark reality: there never was a popular uprising against this man; and his popularity has grown.
———————–
About the Author
Tim Anderson is a Senior Lecturer in Political Economy at the University of Sydney. He has researched the Syrian conflict since 2011 and visited Syria in December 2013.
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Nasrallah: US and Israel are leading terrorist states