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Furious Russian military blames U.S. ‘humanitarian pause’ for fall of Palmyra

Russian military blames US failure to press home attack on Raqqa for ISIS capture of Palmyra, but also implicitly criticises Russian government’s ‘humanitarian pauses’ in Aleppo for prolonging siege and preventing Syrian troops from being redeployed to Palmyra to defend the city.

Alexander Mercouris

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The fall of Palmyra is causing angry recriminations in Russia.

Officially the Russian military is blaming the US.  

In comments today General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian military’s chief spokesman, blamed the fall of Palmyra on the US failure to apply pressure on ISIS in Raqqa, which enabled ISIS to send its fighters from Raqqa to attack Palmyra.

“Over the past two days militants of the terrorist organization Islamic State (outlawed in Russia) launched several attacks on the positions of Syrian troops in the area of Palmyra. The terrorists were pushing ahead from the North, the East and the South. The attackers numbered more than 5,000.  Apparently, the IS militants had gathered around Palmyra, being very certain that combat operations in Raqqa would not resume.”

I made the identical point yesterday

“There is in fact no sign of a serious US led offensive against Raqqa, whilst the offensive against Mosul has stalled.  I said this some weeks ago on 19th November 2016, and recent reports in the Western media have confirmed it.

Obviously if ISIS really were under serious pressure in Raqqa it would not be able to send fighters from there to attack Palmyra.  ISIS’s latest offensive against Palmyra is therefore proof that the US led offensive against Raqqa is a fiction, whilst the fact ISIS has sent fighters from Iraq to Palmyra shows it is still a formidable force in Iraq as well.”

Whilst this is no doubt true, the Russian and Syrian militaries could hardly have been unaware before ISIS attacked Palmyra that the US led offensive against Raqqa was a fiction.  Saying that the US led offensive against Raqqa is a fiction does not therefore explain why the Russians and the Syrians failed to take adequate precautions to ensure Palmyra’s defence.

The Russian military has in fact made perfectly clear that it places the major blame for the fall of Palmyra on something quite different: the prolongation of the siege of Aleppo as a result of the repeated ‘humanitarian pauses’, which left the Syrian army defending Palmyra dangerously short of troops, and with those who were there of lesser quality.

Since the ‘humanitarian pauses’ in Aleppo were imposed on the Syrian and Russian militaries as a result of Russia’s diplomatic strategy, blaming them for the fall of Palmyra is an implicit criticism by the Russian military of the political strategy of Russia’s political leadership.

General Konashenkov all but said as much, though as a serving officer he chose his words very carefully when he did so

“This attack has once again demonstrated that terrorists should not have the smallest chance to take a break, for they always take advantage of such respites to regroup and then carry out a sudden attack.”

(bold italics added)

Konashenkov of course knows that ISIS has never been given a “break’, whether by the Russians or by the Syrians or indeed by the US.  His words about “terrorists not being given the smallest chance to take a break” – though supposedly referring to the failure of the US to press home its offensive against Raqqa – therefore look to be intended to refer to the repeated ‘humanitarian pauses’ in the fighting in Aleppo.

Where Konashenkov as a serving soldier has been forced to be diplomatic, General Yury Baluyevsky, a former Chief of Staff who is now retired, and who is by all accounts someone who is very much a soldiers’ soldier, was a great deal more forthright

“I understand it is necessary to ensure the safety of the population… But when these pauses last three weeks, and these militants – who are up to their elbows in blood – can restore their strength and are allowed to keep their personal weapons – well, that I don’t understand.”

(bold italics added)

This obviously refers to the ‘humanitarian pauses’ which have repeatedly taken place in Aleppo, and specifically the very prolonged one that took place in October and November.

This is not the first time that the Russian military has made know its disagreement with the political and diplomatic strategy President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov have been following in Aleppo.  Back at the end of October there was a curious public spat between the Russian military and Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, during which it emerged that President Putin had refused the Russian military’s public request to resume bombing in Aleppo, which he had put on hold in order to allow for a ‘humanitarian pause’.

Here is what I wrote about it then

“….this episode clearly shows one thing: the persistent Western claim that Putin is a dictator and an autocrat and that he is Russia’s hardliner is a myth.

On the contrary it is clear that Putin is now coming under intense pressure from the Russian military to call off the bombing halt in Aleppo, and that the military feel sufficiently strongly about this to go public, to the point where they made public a “request” to Putin to allow them to resume bombing in a way that clearly showed that this is what they want to do. 

The fact that Putin is resisting the military’s public request is a clear sign that he did not prompt it, and that the request was not welcome to him, and was made to him by the military as a form of pressure.

What that of course shows is that the military is becoming increasingly impatient with Putin’s Aleppo strategy, which they obviously interpret as foot-dragging, and that they are no longer bothering to conceal the fact.”

(bold italics added)

Baluyevsky’s reference to “pauses lasting three weeks” clearly refers to this episode, and shows how angry about this pause the military were.

To my knowledge The Duran was the only news site to report this episode in October correctly as a “furious row”, in which the military by going public sought to pressure Putin to end the ‘humanitarian pause’ to allow the bombing to resume.  

Every other media and news site I know of claimed instead that it was all a public relations show intended to make Putin seem reasonable and moderate.  

The reality is that no government – and certainly not the Russian government – publicises its disagreements for such a purpose.  

The Western media’s inability to report this incident properly shows again its poor understanding of Russia based on its complete misconception that President Putin is Russia’s absolute ruler, and that whatever happens in Russia is determined solely by him.  

The reality on the contrary is that though the Russian government is indeed in most respects highly disciplined, angry disagreements do take place, and sometimes as on this occasion they spill over and become public.

Putting all this aside, is it really true that it was the prolongation of the siege of Aleppo which resulted in the fall of Palmyra?

Undoubtedly if eastern Aleppo had fallen sooner, the Syrian military would have had more and better troops available to defend Palmyra.  However it is not certain it would have sent them there. 

The Syrian army’s priority is not to save Palmyra.  It is to win the war.  The war is not being won in Palmyra, which is far from the core areas of western Syria where most of the Syrian population lives. 

In view of this it is more likely that if the Syrian army had been able to end the siege of Aleppo more quickly, it would have redeployed its troops to retake Idlib or possibly Al-Bab in north western Syria,  or to consolidate the Syrian army’s recent gains in the countryside near Damascus.  It is far less likely that the Syrian army would have sent many of its best troops to garrison Palmyra, where they would have been idle with nothing obviously useful to do.

This episode in fact highlights the different approaches to the war between the Russians and the Syrians.

For the Russians retaining Palmyra, which is a critically important cultural monument, is a fundamental objective, so that its loss to ISIS was – as General Baluyevsky has said – a blow to their “prestige”. 

For the Syrians, the very existence of whose state is at stake, Palmyra is a sideshow, and a distraction from the real war, in which they are fighting for their lives and for their country in western Syria.

This is why the Syrians left only 1,000 second line troops to guard Palmyra, who quickly withdrew from the city apparently in a state of some confusion as shown by the large amount of expensive equipment they left behind when they were attacked by an ISIS force which outnumbered them five to one.

Notwithstanding these differences, it is undoubtedly the Russian view about Palmyra which is now going to prevail.  Though the very latest reports confirm that ISIS is still gaining ground near Palmyra, and though the number of reinforcements which the Syrian army has so far sent to Palmyra is small, there is no doubt that a major counter-offensive to recapture the city will be organised in the next few weeks.

Though the Russians continue to rule out sending ground troops to Syria, they have pointedly made known that they do not consider their Special Forces (“Spetsnaz”) to be ground troops.  Undoubtedly some of them are heading to Palmyra now.

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World War I Homage – A Triumph of Lies and Platitudes

The unilateral, lawless imperialism that engendered World War I and 20 years later World War II is still alive and dangerously vigorous.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via Strategic Culture:


World leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday under the Arc de Triomphe to mark the centennial anniversary ending World War I. In an absurd way, the Napoleon-era arc was a fitting venue – because the ceremony and the rhetoric from President Emmanuel Macron was a “triumph” of lies and platitudes.

Among the estimated 70 international leaders were US President Trump and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, each sitting on either side of Macron and his wife. German Chancellor Angela Merkel was also given pride of place beside the French president.

Macron’s address to the dignitaries was supposed to be a call for international multilateralism. He urged a “brotherhood” for the cause of world peace. He also made a pointed rebuke of “nationalism” as posing a danger to peace – a remark which seemed aimed at Donald Trump who recently boasted of his politics with that very word.

But, ironically, everything about the ceremony and Macron’s speech resonated with jingoistic French nationalism, not his avowed multinationalism. As the politicians sat under the Arc de Triomphe, Macron walked around its circular esplanade in a salute to assembled French military forces bearing assault rifles and bayonets. The French anthem – The Marseillaise – was played twice, once by an army brass band, the second time sung by an army choir. There was also a military plane flyover displaying the blue, red and white tricolor of the French national flag.

In his speech, Macron talked about soldiers coming from all over the world to “die for France” during the 1914-18 Great War. He even said at one point that the war was fought for “the vision of France” and its “universal values”.

This was fluent drivel, French-style. No wonder Russia’s Putin momentarily gave a look of boredom as Macron waxed lyrical.

The speechifying and commemoration was completely detached from current realities of conflict and international tensions.

Among the “brotherhood” whom Macron was appealing to were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whose military forces continue to bomb and slaughter Palestinian civilians in illegally occupied territory. Also present was Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko whose armed militias continue to terrorize the people of eastern Ukraine with the blatant objective of instigating a war between the US-led NATO alliance and Russia.

Listening to Macron one would think that World War I erupted mysteriously from no specific cause and that an estimated 10 million soldiers were all killed in heroic battles for noble principles.

There was, of course, no mention by Macron of imperialist warmongering and the barbaric sacrifice of humans as slaves in the service of national capitalist power interests.

Grotesquely, as the world leaders donned solemn faces and mouthed pious platitudes for peace, the whole occasion was a triumph in burying reality and the ongoing causes of wars, as well as whitewashing the very culprits responsible for wars. Among the war criminals wearing a mournful black suit was former French President Nicolas Sarkozy who launched the NATO blitzkrieg on Libya in 2011.

While the empty, self-indulgent rhetoric was ringing out, one couldn’t help but recall some of the most glaring contemporary contradictions that were blocked out with awesome Orwellian efficiency.

Just this week, reports emerged of the horrific civilian death toll from the American air force bombing the Syrian city of Raqqa. The city was razed to the ground by US air strikes last year – supposedly to defeat the ISIS terror group. Some 8,000 bodies of civilians, mainly women and children, have now been recovered by Syrian government forces. And that’s only from clearing away a tiny area of rubble for the whole city.

What the Americans did in Raqqa was a monumental war crime, all the more criminal because US forces, along with their NATO partners Britain and France, are illegally present in and assaulting sovereign Syrian territory.

As Macron was telling world leaders about “the vision of France”, hundreds were being killed in Yemen in a battle to strangle the entire population by taking the port city of Hodeida. The genocidal war on that country – which is putting up to 16 million people at risk from starvation – has been fully backed by France, the US and Britain, from their supply of warplanes and bombs to the Saudi and Emirati aggressive forces.

We could mention other specific conflicts where the culprits are clearly identified. For example, the multi-million-dollar support from Washington for the Azov Battalion and other Neo-Nazi militias in Ukraine, which openly emulate the genocidal conduct of Hitler’s Third Reich to exterminate ethnic Russians.

We could mention how US-led NATO forces continue to expand towards Russian territory with outrageous provocation. The mounting earlier this month of the biggest-ever NATO war drills since the Cold War in the Arctic region adjacent to Russia’s northern border was a brazen threat of rehearsing invasion. The announced tearing up of yet another nuclear arms control treaty unilaterally by Washington is a reckless undermining of global security.

Washington threatens China with naval forces marauding near Beijing’s maritime territory in the South China Sea. Washington blockades Iran with illegal economic warfare and openly agitates for regime change. Washington declares Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba a “troika of tyranny” and reserves the right to threaten each of these countries with military invasion at any time.

Meanwhile, this weekend, Russia hosted peace talks in Moscow between the warring parties of Afghanistan. It was seen as a major breakthrough in trying to bring peace to the Central Asia country which has been wracked by 17 years of violence since US forces began their ongoing military occupation – allegedly to defeat terrorism.

Elsewhere, Russia has engaged with Turkey, Germany and France to convene a summit for peaceful reconstruction of Syria. The latest summit held in Ankara at the end of last month follows several other such meetings in Astana and Sochi, largely at the behest of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, to find a political settlement to the nearly eight-year war in Syria – a war that was fomented covertly by Washington and its allies for regime change.

France’s Macron talks about “multilateralism” for world peace, yet the two countries which have arguably supported and implemented multilateralism in practice are Russia and China in their calls and policies for global partnership and economic development.

And yet it is Russia and China that are being harassed with American and European sanctions, and US military provocations.

The unilateral, lawless imperialism that engendered World War I and 20 years later World War II is still alive and dangerously vigorous. We only have to look around the present world to realize that. But when the culprits indulge in a triumph of bullshit then we also know that the world is once again in very grave danger.

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Creepy Porn Lawyers’ disgusting assault on Tucker Carlson and his 19 year old daughter (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 14.

Alex Christoforou

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Days after ANTIFA targeted Fox News’ Tucker Carlson’s home, trying to intimidate and scare the TV host into curbing his free speech against totalitarian mob rule propagated by ANTIFA and their paymasters, it appears that the SJW establishment swamp is going after Tucker with everything they got…sending in the expendable, and always eager to get publicity, Creepy Porn Lawyer, Michael Avenatti, to try and ensnare Carlson in some sort of racist assault scandal.

The entire event appears to be a staged, purposefully hitting upon all the right identity politics buttons…so as to maximize full SJW pressure on Tucker and Fox News.

The Gateway Pundit reports that Tucker Carlson has denied Michael Avenatti’s charges of assault, and explains that his actions were prompted by an unhinged gay man calling his daughter a wh*re and a c**t…

Creepy porn star Michael Avenatti made headlines again this weekend with trumped up charges of assault against FOX News host Tucker Carlson.

On Saturday Avenatti released video of Tucker Carlson in an argument with a crowd of people at a country club in Virginia.

Avenatti claims Tucker assaulted a gay Latino immigrant for no reason.

Avenatti posted this video made the allegations on Saturday.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at the SJW swamps’ latest attempt to smear Tucker Carlson, by going after his 19-year old daughter, in a disgusting display of misogyny and hate towards the very women that establishment liberal claims to defend.

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Here’s Carlson’s full statement about the incident:

“On October 13, I had dinner with two of my children and some family friends at the Farmington Country Club in Charlottesville, Virginia. Toward the end of the meal, my 19-year-old daughter went to the bathroom with a friend. On their way back through the bar, a middle aged man stopped my daughter and asked if she was sitting with Tucker Carlson. My daughter had never seen the man before. She answered: ‘That’s my dad,’ and pointed to me. The man responded, ‘Are you Tucker’s whore?’ He then called her a ‘f—— c—.’

“My daughter returned to the table in tears. She soon left the table and the club. My son, who is also a student, went into the bar to confront the man. I followed. My son asked the man if he’d called his sister a ‘whore’ and a ‘cunt.’ The man admitted he had, and again become profane. My son threw a glass of red wine in the man’s face and told him to leave the bar, which he soon did.

“Immediately after the incident, I described these events to the management of the Farmington Country Club. The club spent more than three weeks investigating the incident. Last week, they revoked the man’s membership and threw him out of the club.

“I love my children. It took enormous self-control not to beat the man with a chair, which is what I wanted to do. I think any father can understand the overwhelming rage and shock that I felt seeing my teenage daughter attacked by a stranger. But I restrained myself. I did not assault this man, and neither did my son. That is a lie. Nor did I know the man was gay or Latino, not that it would have mattered. What happened on October 13 has nothing to do with identity politics. It was a grotesque violation of decency. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”

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Former Hillary Clinton Advisor: She’s Running Again in 2020

Clinton admitted that while she doesn’t want to run again — she would “like to be president.”

The Duran

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Via The Gateway Pundit…


Hillary Clinton’s former adviser Mark Penn is warning the public that we should brace ourselves for another run from the power hungry sore loser in 2020.

Penn co-wrote in a Sunday op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that she “won’t let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.”

“True to her name, Mrs. Clinton will fight this out until the last dog dies,” the op-ed that Penn authored with Andrew Stein claims. “She won’t let a little thing like two stunning defeats stand in the way of her claim to the White House.”

Like a cockroach that just won’t die, or the final boss in a video game that keeps obnoxiously coming back after each defeat — Clinton just won’t go away.

Penn said that by “reinventing herself as a liberal firebrand, Mrs. Clinton will easily capture the 2020 nomination.”

“You can expect her to run for president once again,” he said. “Maybe not at first, when the legions of Senate Democrats make their announcements, but definitely by the time the primaries are in full swing.”

Last month, Clinton admitted that while she doesn’t want to run again — she would “like to be president.”

Even some of her closest allies want her to give it a rest though.

“She’s more likely to win Powerball,” Philippe Reines, Clinton’s longtime adviser, told The Hill.

While nobody really wants to hear that woman’s voice ever again — at least the right can recycle all their best memes from 2016.

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