The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS or ISIL), a Sunni jihadist group, on Sunday declared the establishment of a “Caliphate” or Islamic state, spanning parts of both Iraq and Syria with the group’s leader as the ruling “Caliph”.
The group, known for its ruthless tactics and systemic abuses during its involvement in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria where it has captured vast swathes of territory, also announced it was renaming itself the “Islamic State” and called on jihadi factions worldwide to pledge allegiance to it.
The Caliphate would be imposed on areas the group controls in Iraq and Syria with its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the Caliph, or head of state, and “leader for Muslims everywhere”, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in an audio recording distributed online. Continue reading
What we’re seeing is another wedge being placed between the Assad regime and the public with the aim of hastening the collapse of the leadership.
The Turkish government recently cut off the flow of the Euphrates River, threatening primarily Syria but also Iraq with a major water crisis. Al-Akhbar found out that the water level in Lake Assad has dropped by about six meters, leaving millions of Syrians without drinking water.
Two weeks ago, the Turkish government once again intervened in the Syrian crisis. This time was different from anything it had attempted before and the repercussions of which may bring unprecedented catastrophes onto both Iraq and Syria.
Violating international norms, the Turkish government recently cut off the water supply of the Euphrates River completely. In fact, Ankara began to gradually reduce pumping Euphrates water about a month and half ago, then cut if off completely two weeks ago, according to information received by Al-Akhbar. Continue reading
This means there’s a high chance that the Obama administration will react in a way that tilts the balance of the proxy war versus Russia and Iran back in their favor — which ultimately and very likely will lead to an all-out regional war.
Three months after winning the strategic town of Al Qusayr, the combined Syrian and Hizballah armies have captured the historic Muslim Brotherhood city of Homs, 162 kilometers northeast of the capital Damascus. debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that Sunday, July 28, jeeps with recoilless guns, pick-up trucks with anti air guns – all loaded with defeated rebel Farouq Brigades fighters were to be seen fleeing the city. As they fled, Syrian and Hizballah army tanks facing no resistance rolled into the center of Homs, the old city and the Khladiyeh district and hoisted images of President Bashar Assad.
The fall of Homs, which the rebels designated from the start of the uprising “capital of the revolution,” opens the way for Syrian-Hizballah forces to move north on Aleppo, Syria’s largest city. Continue reading
It looks as if we’ve moved from “years away from war” to months away, or even weeks. As mentioned in previous submissions, the Assad regime is not going to give up easy and is going to bring down the entire Middle East with him should he realize he has only moments left of being in power. The entire region is at a critical boiling point.
President Barack Obama’s decision to send some light weapons to Syrian rebels may be too little and too late to thwart a regime offensive to retake Aleppo, the nation’s largest city and commercial capital.
Regime forces supported by fighters from the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah have moved north after defeating rebels in al-Qusair, a setback that triggered concern in Washington that Iran and its Lebanese ally are tipping the balance in favor of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
“Arming the Syrian rebels is unlikely to tip the balance in their favor,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. “It might have made a difference a year ago, but, today, the Assad regime — particularly after re-taking Qusair — has the advantage.” Continue reading
It’s been said that chemical weapons being used by Syria is the ‘red line’ and there’s no question now that they have been used. The next issue is to find out who used them. Should it be Syria in this case, we know where that road leads as it has been discussed here for some time before the media picked up on the possibility of usage. Such is the scenario when Assad realizes his last grip on power is about to be lost.
Israeli security officials believe chemical agents were in fact used near Aleppo by rebels or Assad forces. Young girl: My chest closed up. I couldn’t talk. I couldn’t breathe
Syria’s state television said rebels fired a rocket carrying chemical agents that killed 25 people and wounded dozens. The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said 16 soldiers were among the dead.
Israeli security officials believe chemical agents were used near Aleppo, but on a relatively small scale. However, the officials could not say who was behind the chemical attack – the rebels or Assad’s regime. Continue reading
The Syrian rebels’ hyped up “Great Confrontation” to capture Damascus the capital has ended in a draw with Bashar Assad’s army like all their previous offensives in recent months. They failed to break through to the heart of the capital past the powerful Syrian army’s 4th Division standing in their path under the command of Gen. Maher Assad, the president’s brother. The rebels also lost their position on the Damascus-Aleppo highway. But amid heavy battles with the division’s troops, the rebels are still clinging to the southern suburbs of Damascus.
Since the Israeli air strike on the Syrian military complex of Jamraya on Jan. 30, Syria’s warring sides have been looking over their shoulders to assess Israel’s moves before embarking on the next stage of their contest because of two considerations: Continue reading
Major-General Adnan Sillu, who was reportedly participating in “top-level” talks about the use of chemical weapons on civilians and insurgents, told Al Arabiya that the Syrian government had stashed chemical weapons in various cities, specifically in Homs and Aleppo.
“Syria’s chemical arsenal has reached similar levels to Israel’s nuclear weapons,” he said in an interview to the Saudi-owned website. Continue reading
Russia is printing bank notes and sending them by the plane load to Syria to help the besieged regime pay its soldiers and civil servants, a new report suggests.
Flight records obtained by the investigative website ProPublica showed that at least 120 and up to 240 tons of bank notes were delivered during a ten-week period between July and September.
On eight round-trip trips between Moscow’s Vnukovo airport and Damascus international airport, the “Type of Cargo” is listed as “Bank – Notes (30 Ton)”. Neither their denomination nor value was specified however.
Seven of the eight Syria Air flights were confirmed through international plane-tracking services, photographs from amateur plane-spotters and official air traffic control records.
Each manifest detailed a circuitous route over Iran and Iraq, countries that are friendly to the Syrian regime, rather than the most direct route over Turkey, which has become a foe of President Bashar al-Assad. Continue reading
Knowing that the Western powers will continue the ousting of the Assad regime, the last highlighted portion is what makes this great game so dangerous. In addition, knowing that special teams have been assembled for securing Syrian chemical weapons and are ready at any moment’s notice in nearby countries, a full-blown war is a foregone conclusion decided long ago. The situation will likely escalate to highly dangerous situations and should Damascus use its WMDs, it will be razed and never hold power again. Isaiah 17:1 has foretold this although never described how.
Tuesday, Nov. 27, the Middle East military spotlight swung around from Gaza to the Syrian war with steps for the start of US and NATO intervention in that conflict. Without spelling this out, a game changer began unfolding when a joint Turkish-NATO team began making a site survey for the deployment of Patriot Air and Missile Defense Systems, manned by American military teams. The team, said the statement from Ankara, will assess where to station the missiles and how many would be needed. It reiterated that the system is “for defensive purposes” and not for a “no-fly zone or offensive operations,” but just for use “against an air or missile threat from Syria.”
However, the Patriots in combination with already installed elements of the missile shield, will command an area beyond the Turkish-Syrian border – all of northern Syria up to and including the embattled towns of Aleppo and Homs, debkafile’s military sources report. Continue reading
Already tested… and if soon to be used, Damascus shall be no more — as foretold in Isaiah 17:1. That little book called the Bible which has been the most sold and distributed in world history since it was written, yet the least opened and read, is correct 100% of the time.
The Syrian amy is believed to have tested firing systems for chemical weapons in the desert at the end of August, according to witness reports. The tests apparently took place near the country’s largest chemical weapons facility at Safira.
The tests took place near a chemical weapons research center at Safira east of Aleppo, witnesses told SPIEGEL. A total of five or six empty shells devised for delivering chemical agents were fired by tanks and aircraft, at a site called Diraiham in the desert near the village of Khanasir.
Iranian officers believed to be members of the Revolutionary Guards were flown in by helicopter for the testing, according to the statements.
The Safira research center is regarded as Syria’s largest testing site for chemical weapons. It is officially referred to as a “scientific research center.”
Full article: Syria Tested Chemical Weapons Systems, Witnesses Say (Spiegel Online)
Turkish army officers have assumed direct command of the first two Syrian rebel brigades fighting Bashar Assad’s government forces, according to debkafile’s exclusive sources. This step has sent military tensions rocketing on Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon in case of a backlash.
The rebel North Liberators Brigade in the Idlib region of northern Syria and the Tawhid Brigade fighting in the Al-Bab area northeast of Aleppo are now taking their operational orders from Turkish officers, who exercise their authority from headquarters outside Syria in the southeastern Turkish city of Gaziantep. Nonetheless, Turkey is considered to have stepped directly into the Syrian conflict marking the onset of foreign intervention.
Western and Arab military circles in the Middle East expect Turkey to extend its command to additional rebel units – not all of them part of the Free Syrian Army.
This first step has already caused waves.
4. Later that day, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan commented: “The regime in Syria has now become a terrorist state.”
Only a few of Erdogan’s listeners understood he was laying international legal grounding for expanding Turkish military intervention in Syria.
Full article: Turkish officers take command of Syrian rebel brigades. N. Israel on alert (DEBKAfile)
US C130 transports stand ready at Middle East air bases to fly into Syria US elite units especially trained in combat against chemical and biological weapons and tactics for securing their arsenals. Western intelligence sources reported Thursday, Aug. 23 that those units are on standby at bases in Israel and Jordan. Their assignments are to engage Syrian troops attempting to move those unconventional weapons systems to battle fronts or Hizballah and to prevent them falling into the hands of radical Islamic rebel fighters, especially Al Qaeda.
Those elite units have been issued with special equipment for chemical and biological warfare including anti-contamination suits. The transports are also fitted with purification equipment for operating in polluted terrain.
Also on standby for stealthy raids into Syria are British special operations forces in Cyprus and French units trained in unconventional warfare in Jordan. Thursday morning, President Obama talked by phone to British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande to wrap up the details of their combined operation in Syria, effectively the onset of direct Western intervention in the Syrian conflict.
Some – though not all – of the targeted stockpiles of shells and missile warheads are located around centers of the fiercest fighting in Syria’s civil war such as Aleppo in the north. They may be inadequately guarded since the Syrian ruler may have been forced to throw the units securing them into battle against rebel forces.
Important stress was laid by Obama in his comments Monday on the fact that he had not ordered US military engagement in Syria “at this point.” In other words, beyond that point, he was free to change that order. debkafile’s military sources report that direct American military involvement in the Syrian conflict has to all intents and purposes begun and looks like expanding in the coming days.
This is a sharp reversal of the military situation in the Middle East. It could lead to all-out warfare exploding in Syria possibly involving Hizballah ahead of a strike against Iran’s nuclear weapons, although this strike could unfold from the Syrian campaign – during its course or at its conclusion.
Washington is hoping that its direct action in Syria, aside from grappling with the unconventional warfare menace looming over the region, may persuade Tehran to cave into American demands for halting uranium enrichment and turn it aside from its race for a nuclear weapon in order to save itself from attack.
Full article: US, UK, French elite units on standby for seizing Syrian chemical weapons (DEBKAfile)
Whether by following Global Geopolitics postings for a while or informing yourselves through various other news sources, readers have seen the developments in Syria unfold from demonstrations to violence. This violence has caused the international community’s involvement and from there has increased the threat level of Syrian retaliation toward its neighbors. We’re now at the tipping point to where all sides are ‘braced for impact’.
The next question is: What will cause the spark that leads to all-out war? One could look towards the use of chemical and/or biological weapons used on their own people or the Jewish state of Israel as one such indicator. Another possibility is the tension with Turkey spiriling out of control via military confrontation as we’ve seen in the past with the downing of two Turkish military aircraft.
Either way, the prospects of war is a question when and not if.
The US and its allies are discussing a worst-case scenario that could require up to 60,000 ground troops to go into Syria to secure chemical and biological weapons sites following the fall of the Assad government, an unnamed American source said Thursday night, Aug.16.
This scenario postulates the disintegration of his security forces, he said, leaving chemical and biological weapons sites vulnerable to pillaging. It assumes the sites could not be destroyed by aerial bombings in view of health and environmental hazards.
The American special forces deployed on the Jordanian-Syrian border and in bases in Israel and Turkey clearly perceive a chemical-biological weapon threat. Military and medical preparations are being quietly put in place. Reconnaissance teams from potentially targeted countries have infiltrated Syria. They are on the lookout for any chemical missiles being moved into firing positions, although it is taken into account that Assad may be shifting decoys and that not all the real launchings can be stopped.
The Syrian ruler may also decide to transfer chemical explosives to Hizballah in Lebanon. Israel is on record as warning it would prevent this.
Wednesday, August 15, Bashar Assad’s violence again broke new ground:
Syrian air force bombers struck Azaz not far from the Turkish border – for the first time with the aim of razing a complete Syrian town. More than 80 people were killed and 150 wounded. He was telling the Free Syrian Army rebels who had been using Azaz as their command post and logistical hub for the Aleppo battle that the gloves were off and the same punishment would be meted out to any urban areas hosting them.
The Syrian ruler also warned Ankara through back channels that if any more Turkish FIM-92 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles were supplied to the FSA, he would arm the 2,500 Turkish rebel PKK Kurdish fighters allowed to deploy on the Syrian-Turkish border with Russian SA-8 anti-air missiles for use against Turkey.
Ankara shot back: That will be war.
Full article: Syria’s neighbors braced for chemical threat. Assad warns Turkey on Stingers (DEBKAfile)
NICOSIA — Iran was said to have poured thousands of elite troops
The Syrian opposition said thousands of members of Iran’s Islamic
Revolutionary Guard Corps have arrived in Syria. Opposition sources said the Iranian troops came from special operations units, with many of them skilled in sniper and explosives.
Al Oqueidi, chairman of the rebel military council in Aleppo, said the
Iranians were meant to replace the tens of thousands of Sunni who deserted the Syrian Army. He said at least 3,000 of the IRGC troops were trained in sniper missions.
The Iranians were said to have been participating in Assad military
campaigns in both Aleppo and Damascus. In Aleppo, an estimated 20,000 Syrian Army troops were awaiting orders to invade the nation’s business capital and largest city.
The military has reported that it regained control over the Damascus
area. In an unusual move, the Army led a tour for journalists of former
rebel positions on Aug. 3.
“We have cleansed all the districts of Damascus, from Al Midan to Mazeh,
from Al Hajar Al Aswad to Qadam to Tadamun,” a Syrian Army officer said.
The Free Syrian Army said many of the IRGC personnel in Syria were in
civilian clothes. FSA said it captured 48 IRGC officers outside Damascus
International Airport disguised as pilgrims and part of a 150-man
“During the investigation, we found that some of them were officers of
IRGC,” an FSA officer said in a video statement. “They were on a
reconnaissance mission in Damascus.”
Full article: Iran to the rescue: Thousands of special ops troops said arriving in Syria (World Tribune)
As was discussed in a previous post, the plan was to whittle away at Iran, one country after another until it is isolated.
BERLIN/WASHINGTON/DAMASCUS (Own report) – German-US-American plans for Syria’s transformation along the lines of the Western model are already meeting resistance, even before the possible overthrow of the Assad regime. For months, German government advisors from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) have been working on measures to be immediately implemented following an overthrow of the government in Damascus. These plans are being forged in the German capital in collaboration with the state financed United States Institute for Peace (USIP) and about 45 Syrian opponents, with the objective of installing a pro-western regime in Damascus as soon as possible. Inside Syria, however, it is becoming more and more apparent that influential insurgent militias will not submit to the West and will insist on their independence, according to a study, focused on the example of one military rebel unit near Aleppo. The Islamist oriented forces among the militias would have to be given more influence in Syria’s transformation. An enhanced role of Islamist forces in Syria is also among the plans developed by SWP and USIP in Berlin, which, if successful, could end Syria’s alliance with Iran for the foreseeable future, further isolating Teheran.
Serious consequences loom on the horizon, given the fact that Islamist forces are playing a prominent role, both locally and in German-US-American concepts, in spite of the obvious unwillingness of influential militias to accept having a western agenda imposed on their post-Assad Syria. Syria’s Islamists will shift the equilibrium in the Arab world – further away from secular milieus, toward a religious conservative order that can get along well with the current leading political role played by the Gulf dictatorships in the Arab League. In addition, under Sunnite Islamist influence, Syria will abandon its alliance with Shiite-Islamist Iran, thereby, leaving Iran without any governmental allies in the Arab world. This exposes the background of the West’s policy toward Syria, which is dependent upon the support of Islamist forces, to achieve its primary objective of a total isolation of Teheran, to block its geopolitical development at the Persian Gulf for a long time to come.
Full article: The Day After (German Foreign Policy)