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As Jihadi resistance crumbles in Aleppo, Western powers play diplomatic games

Western powers demand ceasefire in Aleppo to save Jihadis even as Jihadi resistance crumbles.

Alexander Mercouris

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As is commonly the case in attrition war, the end in Aleppo is coming quickly. 

Throughout the last 12 hours reports have been pouring in of more and more formerly Al-Qaeda held districts of eastern Aleppo falling to the Syrian army.

“The Syrian army troops and Hezbollah resistance fighters managed to take control of al-Jadideh district and immediately moved in several directions to beat terrorists back from their positions in al-Kelaseh, Bab al-Maqam, al-Fardos and Karm al-Deada districts after fortifying their positions in vast areas of al-Salehin district.

The terrorists have so far lost over 40 districts and neighbourhoods in Eastern Aleppo and are now in control of only very few districts stretching over an area 7 sq/km or less than 10 percent of what was once their territory for 5 years until this last Summer.

If the Syrian government forces manage to seize back Karm al-Deada, al-Fardos and al-Kelaseh districts, the terrorists who are in Sheikh Saeed district will come under the Syrian army’s full siege from the Northern and Eastern directions and this region will fall as well,” a battlefield source explained on Wednesday evening.

The source went on to say that the Syrian government troops are likely to be faced with some tough resistance in Sheikh Saeed district which is considered the Southern gate of Aleppo city in the South-East.

The clashes are still underway at the Regional Power Company of Sheikh Saeed in the Eastern part of this vital district.

The army units also started a new front in the region after winning back Bab an-Nayrab and advanced towards al-Asliyeh district from Western Bab an-Nayrab and advanced towards Bab al-Maqam district from al-Salehin square.

The latest reports coming from Northwestern Syria said on Wednesday evening that terrorists are still on the run and surrender districts in Southeastern Aleppo without serious resistance as the army’s swift advances have gathered even more pace.

Army units seized back Ma’adi district and its surrounding areas South of Aleppo’s historical citadel after they recaptured Bab an-Nayrab region.

The army also won back al-Qasiliah and Jbb al-Quebeh districts Southeast of the citadel.

War is now underway further in the South near the rims of the city in al-Salehin district, where the army has already captured the Eastern neighbourhoods. The terrorists have reportedly taken shelter in the Western parts of the vast district after they escaped from the Old Aleppo quarter that has the Citadel of Aleppo at its centre.

An army colonel said estimates show that al-Salehin district will fall to the government troops in the next few hours.

The Syrian forces also took control of Bab al-Nasr, al-Khandaq road, al-Hamidiyeh, Nour Eddin al-Zanki Street and al-Mashatiyeh in Southeastern Aleppo.

Earlier today, field sources disclosed that the Syrian Army troops and popular forces were in control of at least 85 percent of Eastern Aleppo districts, hitting hard the positions of Jeish al-Fatah terrorists in the few remaining districts still under their control.”

The pace of events is so fast that even the Russian military is having difficulty keeping up.  The Russian military’s Reconciliation Centre at Russia’s Khmeimim air base in Syria issued a few hours ago the following statement

“In the past 24 hours, on December 7, the Syrian army liberated 15 districts of eastern Aleppo from militants.  Hence, 50 districts of the city’s eastern part are now under control of the Syrian authorities, which makes about 70% of the territory earlier controlled by militants.”

At the time this statement was issued (roughly 20:00 hours UTC on 7th December 2016) it was already out of date.  By that time the Syrian army was in reality in control of at least 85% of the former Al-Qaeda controlled pocket of eastern Aleppo (see the Fars report above) – not 70% – with many Jihadi fighters surrendering (many more than the 66 separately claimed by the Russian military) and with the remaining Jihadi fighters still resisting being driven ever deeper into what is left of their pocket.   

The Syrian army’s objective according to Fars is to bottle the remaining Jihadis up into a single district where it will be easier to round them up.

These dramatic events would not however be complete were they not accompanied by an element of farce.

Over the course of the day the Al-Qaeda led command of the remaining Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo has asked the Syrian military for a 5 day ceasefire to evacuate civilians and wounded fighters and to allow humanitarian aid to get through.  The request has been accompanied by a request that the wounded fighters be sent to Turkey rather than Idlib. Importantly it makes no reference to the remaining Jihadi fighters leaving eastern Aleppo – the consistent Russian demand since the summer – with the implication being that they will be left to stay where they are.

This request unsurprisingly has been backed by the Western powers and by the UN Secretariat.  Indeed it purports to be a Jihadi response to a four point plan for a ceasefire put forward by the humanitarian agencies of the UN Secretariat. 

In reality there is no doubt the UN Secretariat, Western governments, and the Idlib based Al-Qaeda command of the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo, have been coordinating their moves with each throughout the day.

Recent events on the ground in Aleppo have however rendered this all meaningless.  The statement the Western governments published a few hours ago is in fact one of the most preposterous documents anyone has published over the course of the whole Syrian war.

In order to get a proper feel of this statement, and since the text of this statement is not easy to find on the Internet, I reproduce it here in full:

“A humanitarian disaster is taking place before our very eyes. Some 200,000 civilians, including many children, in eastern Aleppo are cut off from food and medicine supplies. Aleppo is being subjected to daily bombings and artillery attacks by the Syrian regime, supported by Russia and Iran. Hospitals and schools have not been spared. Rather, they appear to be the targets of attack in an attempt to wear people down. The images of dying children are heart breaking. We condemn the actions of the Syrian regime and its foreign backers, especially Russia, for their obstruction of humanitarian aid, and strongly condemn the Syrian regime’s attacks that have devastated civilians and medical facilities and use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons.

The urgent need now is for an immediate ceasefire to allow the United Nations to get humanitarian assistance to people in eastern Aleppo and to provide humanitarian relief to those who have fled eastern Aleppo. The opposition have agreed the UN’s four point plan for Aleppo. The regime needs to agree to the plan too. We call on the Syrian regime to do this urgently to alleviate the dire situation in Aleppo; and call on Russia and Iran to use their influence to help make this happen.

We urge all parties in Syria to adhere to international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions. UN SG Ban Ki-moon has spoken about war crimes being committed in Syria. There must not be impunity for those responsible. We call on the UN to investigate respective reports and gather evidence to hold the perpetrators of war crimes to account. We are ready to consider additional restrictive measures against individuals and entities that act for or on behalf of the Syrian regime.

At the same time, Russia is blocking the UN Security Council, which is therefore unable to do its work and put an end to the atrocities. The regime’s refusal to engage in a serious political process also highlights the unwillingness of both Russia and Iran to work for a political solution despite their assurances to the contrary. We support the efforts of the UN Special Envoy de Mistura to resume the political process through negotiations. Only a political settlement can bring peace for people in Syria.”

This bizarre statement – signed by six leaders of whom three (Obama, Hollande and Renzi) are about to leave office and are therefore in no position to act on the threats they make in it – was presumably largely drafted some days ago, before the collapse of Jihadi resistance in eastern Aleppo rendered it meaningless. 

It therefore assumes a situation which no longer exists.  It talks about a humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo as if the siege of the Jihadi held districts were still ongoing.  In reality the siege of most of these districts has ended because they are back in the hands of the Syrian army, and soon all of them will be.  As the Syrians and the Russians are pointing out, that means that it is now possible to achieve humanitarian access to these districts without needing the Jihadis to agree to a ceasefire in order to do it.

The Jihadi and UN proposal for a 5 day ceasefire would undoubtedly have been accepted by the Syrian government and by the Russians had it been made a week ago. 

Today with Jihadi resistance probably no more than hours away from total collapse, it is too obviously intended to break the momentum of the Syrian army’s advance and to staunch the flow of surrenders and desertions from the Jihadis’ ranks to be acceptable either to the Syrian government or to the Russians.  Not surprisingly therefore both have rejected it. 

Reports confirm that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told US Secretary of State Kerry as much when they met a few hours ago in Hamburg.  In what must have been for Kerry a particularly cruel and humiliating moment, TASS reports Lavrov threw Kerry’s 2nd December 2016 proposal – that all Jihadi fighters leave eastern Aleppo – back into Kerry’s face, telling him that Russia is still prepared to accept it, hours after the US backtracked on it.  Of course with Jihadi resistance in Aleppo collapsing even this proposal is all but meaningless now.

What these latest diplomatic moves in fact show is the delusional world in which Western governments now live in in relation to anything that touches on the Syrian conflict. 

If Western governments were really concerned to end the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo they would not be calling for a ceasefire.  They would be calling on the remaining Jihadis still fighting in Aleppo – whose continued resistance is now useless – to surrender and immediately leave the city so that humanitarian aid can be sent there without further hindrance.

That however is something Western governments – still obsessed by fantasies of regime change, and still trapped by the false propaganda narrative they have woven together over the last few months – cannot bring themselves to do.

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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

RT

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Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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