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Al-Qaeda in retreat, Turkey calls it quits: Syria is winning the war

Turkish announcement of end of Operation Euphrates Shield and Tillerson comment about Assad’s fate being decided by Syrian people, coming after Jihadi defeats in Damascus and northern Hama, may be a sign of US and Turkish acceptance that the ‘regime change’ war in Syria has finally failed.

Alexander Mercouris

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An offensive launched two weeks ago by Al-Qaeda in the northern areas of Syria’s Hama province appears to be unravelling, with Jihadi forces in the area coming under heavy bombing by the Russian air force and forced onto the retreat by a counter-attack launched by the Syrian army.

My opinion, together with that of many other observers, is that the green light for this offensive and for the simultaneous offensive Al-Qaeda launched in eastern Damascus, came from Turkish President Erdogan, who has been struggling to achieve some gains for Turkey in Syria to justify his intervention in that country.

The fact that Turkish backed Jihadi groups were involved in both the Damascus and the Hama offensives to my mind all but confirms this fact, though in fairness to Erdogan these groups are difficult to control.  However the fact that Erdogan and the Turkish authorities failed to call on these Turkish backed Jihadi groups to observe the ceasefire and desist from joining these offensives to my mind all but confirms that at the very least he gave the green light to them.

In the event the failure of these offensives has – as I discussed previously – left the Jihadis and Erdogan in an even weaker position than they were before.

The fact that Erdogan has now formally announced the end of Operation Euphrates Shield, and that US Secretary of Tillerson has announced during a visit to Turkey that Syrian President Assad’s fate will be decided by the Syrian people and not by the US and its allies, both look as if they might be the result of this.

If so then the Jihadi offensives in Damascus and Hama may have been the last desperate throw of the ‘regime change’ coalition which has been driving the Syrian war since the conflict in Syria began in 2011.

In that case the fact the demand for ‘regime change’ is being dropped following these defeats would mark the first occasion since the USSR’s collapse in 1991 when a NATO backed ‘regime change’ war – albeit one which in this case has been fought covertly – has been defeated, both diplomatically and on the battlefield.

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New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

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Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

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Despite Pledge Not to, Germany Approves Sale of Arms to Saudi Arabia

Germany is the latest to renege on promises to ban weapons sales for use in the Yemen War.

The Duran

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Authored by Jason Ditz via AntiWar.com:


With Saudi Arabia forever escalating their war in Yemen, the growing calls by human rights groups to stop selling them arms with which to commit war crimes are struggling to compete with the vast sums of money the Saudis are offering for those arms.

Germany is the latest to renege on promises to ban weapons sales for use in the Yemen War, announcing Wednesday that the Economy Minister has greenlit a new round of artillery systems for sale to the Saudis.

The systems are designed for precise counterattack, and are clearly being bought explicitly to use in Yemen. Yet the Merkel government, as part of its coalition deal, announced a full export ban to “any sides fighting in Yemen,” including the Saudis.

While this was at the time supposed to be a condition of the Social Democrats joining the government. So far, Merkel has not explained why the sale was approved over the putative ban, and the Social Democrats have not complained either.

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FBI Had “Two Sets Of Records” On Trump Investigation; Comey, McCabe Implicated: Carter

Sara Carter: FBI/DOJ had ‘two sets of books’ in the Russia investigation.

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Via Zerohedge


Journalist Sara Carter told Sean Hannity during his Wednesday radio show that the FBI has two sets of records in the Russia investigation, and that “certain people above Peter Strzok and above Lisa Page” were aware of it – implicating former FBI Director James Comey and his #2, Andrew McCabe.

Hannity: Sara, I’m hearing it gets worse than this–that there is potentially out there–if you will, two sets of record among the upper echelon of the FBI–one that was real one that was made for appearances. Is there any truth to this?

CarterAbsolutely, Sean. With the number of sources that I have been speaking with as well as some others that there is evidence indicating that the FBI had separate sets of books.

I will not name names until all of the evidence is out there, but there were certain people above Peter Strzok and above Lisa Page that were aware of this. I also believe that there are people within the FBI that have actually turned on their former employers and are possibly even testifying and reporting what happened inside the FBI to both the Inspector General and possibly even a Grand Jury.

Listen:

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