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Why Russians in Syria are Welcome

Far from seeing Russian soldiers as occupiers, the Syrian people see them as saviours and welcome their presence.

Afra'a Dagher

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It was a hard and breathtaking moment for the people of Syria when US President Obama announced in August 2013 that the US was preparing a military strike against Syria.  It seemed that the US was about to go to war against Syria on the false pretext of the Syrian government’s “alleged use of chemical weapons” against its own people.  Obama even called it “the worst chemical weapons attack of the 21st century”. 

The US plan however ran into a storm of opposition. 

Russia and China had consistently opposed US attempts to obtain a UN Security Council Resolution to attack Syria, repeatedly exercising their power of veto in the Security Council to block US proposed Resolutions making threats and calling for sanctions against Syria.  Both of these countries made absolutely clear that they adamantly opposed any repeat of the “Libyan scenario” – ie. the NATO war of aggression against Libya – in Syria.

Come August 2013 and these two countries – Russia and China – stood their ground.  Both made it crystal clear that they strongly opposed Obama’s plan for a strike against Syria. 

But back to Obama’s statement, what about the Syrians, did President Obama really care about them?

The truth is that by August 2013 the Syrian people had been suffering the ugly face of war for years.  It is an ugly face hiding behind a US mask of fake concern for freedom in Syria and in a myriad of other third world countries.  Throughout that war the US and its allies in Europe and the Arab Gulf states had backed those they call “Syrians rebels” but who are more properly called “NATO mercenaries” or even “Saudi Wahhabi butchers”.

In Syria Obama’s statement caused huge alarm.  Some people – mindful of what had happened in Libya – decided to leave Syria to escape the bombing.  Others decided to stay, trusting in the wisdom of their Government,  the bravery of the Syrian Arab Army, and the support of Syria’s allies: Russia, China, Iran, and the Lebanese resistance.

That trust was rewarded!  At the last moment, because of all the opposition, Obama’s planned attack had to be called off.

The Syrian street responded with huge marches, organised by the Syrian people, in which Syrians expressed their thanks to Russian President Putin for leading the opposition to the air strike by carrying placards and signboards filled with praise for him and for Russia.  However, the US did not abandon its dream of invading Syria and it was in pursuit of that dream that shortly after the US-led so-called “anti-ISIS” coalition was formed. 

ISIS or Daesh is of course simply the same armed gangs who have all along been behind the violence, destruction, suicide bombings, and assassinations in Syria.  When it suited the West it called them “rebels”.  Then, for propaganda purposes, they became “ISIS” or Daesh.  It was just a different name for the same people.

This US-led “anti-ISIS” coalition operates on Syrian territory with no authorisation from the elected government of Syria.  By doing so it grossly violates Syrian sovereignty.  That is not just the view of the Syrian government.  It is the view of Syrian people as well. 

Besides who would trust a coalition made up of those same countries who have been organising the aggression against Syria ever since 2011?  After all it is these countries who have been striving ever since 2011 to overthrow Syria’s secular elected government by relying on Wahhabi murderers and militants.  In fact, from the moment the US and its allies began their pretended war against ISIS or Daesh, the balance of advantage on the battlefield began to move in Daesh’s favour.   Thus during the period of the “anti-ISIS coalition’s” “war against Daesh”, Daesh actually expanded its territory, so that it extended all the way from Al- Ramadi in Iraq to Palmyra in Syria.  Meanwhile elsewhere, on the northern front and in northwest Syria, Turkey opened its borders to its own trained mercenaries, who launched their own offensives there.  The net result of all this fake “anti-ISIS” and “anti-terrorist” activity was a significant expansion of the territory controlled by Daesh and the terrorists and a significant loss of territory by the Syrian government. 

As just one example of the West’s hypocrisy, on many occasions the US-led coalition dropped weapons for the “rebels” which ended up in the hands of the “terrorists” – including Daesh.  This of course was said to be an “accident”.  The reality – as everyone in Syria knows – is that there was no accident because the “terrorists” become the “rebels” whenever it suits the West to call them that.  To get a true sense of the madness, consider that the US is giving arms and even money to “moderate” rebels in Syria.  However these same people – called “moderates” when they are in Syria – suddenly become “ISIS terrorists” when they cross the border into Iraq.

The “anti-ISIS coalition’s” actions in fact showed that its true target was not ISIS or Daesh or the terrorists but the government and people of Syria.  Thus its aircraft struck a thermal power plant in Aleppo – located in a residential neighbourhood – and bombed Syrian soldiers who were actually fighting Daesh, as happened for example in Deir Al-Zour.  On another occasion the Syrian air defence force shot down a US drone flying over the Presidential palace in Latakia – where of course no ISIS or Daesh fighters were present. This drone was not of course “fighting ISIS”.  It was spying on the Syrian government.

This was the situation that caused Russia to act decisively last summer to support Syria.

The Russia-Syrian relationship is not a new.  Russia is traditionally an ally of Syria.  In turn the Syrian people and its elected government trust Russia.

The Syrian government asked for Russia’s support and help as the balance on the battlefield tipped in favour of Daesh and the terrorists as a result of the actions of the US-led coalition.  Russia acted on this request.  In doing so it acted in accordance with the wishes of the people of Syria.

Here it is important to say that Syria has an elected government.  Syria is not an autocratic monarchy like Saudi Arabia.  The request the elected government of Syria made to Russia asking Russia for help was made by the government the Syrian people had elected.  It was a request made on behalf of the Syrian people by their democratically elected government and was overwhelmingly supported by them.

That the Syrian people supported their government’s decision to ask Russia for help – and Russia’s decision to respond positively to this request – was again confirmed by the response of the Syrian people, who made known their gratitude to Russia in large demonstrations during which they carried placards and shouted slogans thanking Russia.  The Russian action in fact was for the people of Syria a huge relief.  For far too long Syria has had to fight alone against foreign backed fighters and a superpower military coalition,  relying only on its own weapons and its small – though heroic – army.

Russia coordinated its actions with the Syrian and Iranian governments, providing air cover to support the ground operation of the brave Syrian Arab Army and its ally Hezbollah. The Russian pilots got accurate coordinates about terrorist sites from the Syrian army.  After all who knows better the location of these sites than the brave Syrian soldiers who have been fighting the terrorists since 2011?

In October, 2015, Russia started its air operation alongside the Syrian Arab Army, and in just four months the balance shifted again, with Syria recovering territory and the terrorists – including Daesh – losing it.  Contrast that with how the US-led “anti-ISIS” coalition was unable to stop the advance of Daesh in two years.

This shift of the situation on the battlefield upset the US and its allies.  Despite their flowery talk of “war against terrorism” it was absolutely not what they wanted.  So – having pursued war relentlessly for 5 years – they suddenly discovered an interest in a “political solution”.  All of a sudden the call went up for negotiations in Geneva, with the Saudi delegation now demanding a ceasefire!

None of this of course has any truth or sincerity behind it.  It was all merely a dodge to stop the Syrian army backed by the Russian air force from destroying the terrorists whilst buying time to resupply the terrorists with more weapons and more “rebels” smuggled into Syria from across the Turkish border.

During the period of the Russian operation most of the Turkish border – the main gateway for the terrorists into Syria and the main route the terrorists use for their supply lines – was in fact secured.  Russia paid a price for this when one of its aircraft was treacherously shot down by the Turkish air force, with one of its pilots brutally murdered as he bailed out as a result of ground fire from Turkish-backed forces in the area (all this according to Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti).

Russia also helped the Syrian army break the siege of Aleppo and liberate most of the countryside around the city.  The Syrian army – backed by the Russians – also achieved great advances in Latakia, eventually liberating its countryside, thereby securing the whole province.  There have also been important advances around Damascus, whilst the cities of Homs and Hama have been cleared of terrorists, and Palmyra has of course been liberated.

When people in Syria hear the sound of Russian jets, that for them is the sound of peace not war.  It gives Syrians a feeling of safety.  Even Syrian children say “Don’t worry, those are President Putin’s jets.”  Even the mere presence of a Russian air base in Tartous province reassures Syrians.  It tells them the Russians are there to defend them.  

The airbase of course is equally important to Russia.  It secures Russia’s presence in the region which might otherwise fall entirely under US control.

One would never of course know any of this from the Western media.  There the story is one of Russia bombing Syrian civilians non-stop.  This often comes touched up with fake pictures of old bombings dating from long before the Russians ever came to Syria.  What makes these claims particularly insulting – both to the Russians but also even more to the Syrian people – is that many of these pictures of old bombings actually show the results of crimes committed by the very same terrorists (or “rebels”) the West is backing. 

By contrast with all this false and noisy chatter about Russian bombing of Syrian civilians, actual air strikes by the US-led coalition against Syrians go either completely unreported or are simply lied about.

When Syrians meet Russians by chance, say in a pharmacy or on the street, as now happens very often, they welcome them as friends and as brothers in arms.  By contrast no-one in Syria would ever want to meet an American soldier.  There is no one in Syria who can forget their intervention in Iraq and Libya, their crimes against the Iraqi and Libyan people, and of course their bloody role in Syria.  Unlike Russians, Americans are absolutely not welcome.

Over the last 5 years Syrians have paid a heavy price for their refusal to be a tool in the hands of the US and Israel.  Despite all our suffering we remain committed to the Resistance Axis of which Syria is the key link.  We support our President Bashar Al-Assad who leads us in that struggle.

The author is a Syrian journalist from Latakia who writes under the name Syrian Afra’a.

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The mainstream media does not want you to think [Video]

It is difficult to tell if recent reports like this really represent a realization for the media, but this interview rings true nonetheless.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Several recent stories on Fox, Breitbart, and here on The Duran all address the increasingly obvious bias of the mainstream media with regard to news reporting. We discussed on The Duran how Chris Wallace of Fox News refused to hear details from White House Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller about why the recently declared National Emergency is in fact legitimate.

This piece revealed that the media is very actively trying to control and direct what information they want the public to hear, rather than truly reporting the news, or interviewing people to get their takes on things, and to perhaps fully interview all sides in a controversy and then let the American public decide for themselves what to think.

This used to exist in more gentlemanly debate programs in some fashion, such as with the TV debate program Point Counterpoint, but now, the bias of the reporter or of the network is the primary operator in determining the outcome of the interview, rather than the information that is available about the story.

This has helped create a news and information culture in the United States that is truly insane. As examples, consider these paraphrased headlines, all occurring within the last few years:

All of these are probably familiar to most readers. Many of them are still repeated and acted on as if they were real. But the articles we linked to behind most of these ledes are examples of the disproof, usually 100% disproof, of these. They are hoaxes, or reports built on circumstantial evidence without any proof, or in the worst cases, pure slander and propaganda.

One reporter for CBS news, 60 Minutes anchor Lara Logan, discussed this in an interview with retired Navy SEAL Mike Ritland, for his own podcast program, which was picked up by the MediaIte website. The video of her interview is quite lengthy but starting at about 02:14:00 there is a particular segment that the MediaIte writers called to attention. We include this segment in the video.

PARENTAL ADVISORY: The video is unrestricted in regards to language and there is some profanity. Parents, please listen first before letting your children watch this video.

A major point Mrs Logan makes here is that 85% of the employ of the mainstream media in the USA consist of registered Democrats. She also speaks forcefully against the use of stereotypes, and suggests the best place to start is actual facts. This means that most journalists are coming into this work with a bias, which is not set aside for the sake of the facts of the story.

Probably the most key point comes at 2:18:20 in the video is how Lara Logan is taught the way to discern whether or not someone in journalism is lying to you:

“Someone very smart told me a long time ago, that, ‘how do you know you are being lied to?’, ‘how do you know you are being manipulated?’, ‘how do you know there is something not right with the coverage?’, when they simplify it all, and there is no gray. There is no gray. It’s all one way.

“Well, life isn’t like that. If it doesn’t match real life, it is probably not. Something is wrong.”

Lara Logan then pointed out the comparison of the mainstream media’s constant negative coverage of President Trump against the reality of his work, that, regardless of one’s own personal bias, it does not match that everything the President does is bad. She also highlighted the point that one’s personal views should not come into how to report a news story.

Yet in our days, it not only comes into the story, it drives the narrative for which the story just becomes an example of “proof” that the narrative is “true.” 

Tucker Carlson talked vividly about the same characteristic on his program Monday night on Fox News.

He points out that the 3,000 yearly shooting in Chicago get very little news coverage, but that is because these are not as “useful” as the Jussie Smollett story is.

This is an example of using an event or a person’s actions to satisfy a politically biased propaganda narrative, rather than report the news.

This is not occasional, as the list of news headlines given above show. This is a constant practice across most of the mainstream media. Probably no one who gives interviews on the major networks is exempt, for even Mr. Carlson often resorts to cornering tactics when interviewing liberals in an apparent attempt to make the liberal look ridiculous and the point of view he espouses to look vindicated through that ridiculousness.

While this is emotionally invigorating for the Carlson fan who wants to see him “eviscerate” the liberal, it is very bad journalism. In fact, it is not journalism at all; it is sensationalism in a nasty sense.

It also insults the viewer, perhaps without them knowing it, because such reporting is the same as telling the viewer “WE ARE IN CONTROL!” and that the viewer must simply go along with the narrative given.

It is very bad when what should be information reporting, policy discussion, or debate becomes infected with this. Ideas, the product of (hopefully) rational and discursive reasoning, are pushed aside by pure emotion and mass sensationalism. Put metaphorically, it is the new look of bread and circuses, keeping the masses entertained while anything else might be happening.

Sometimes the motive for this is not so sinister. After all, we have a 24 hour news cycle now. In the 1970’s we didn’t. And in those times, the calibre of news reported was much higher. Reporting was far more careful. The Pulitzer Prize winners  Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein did their incredible exposé on the doings of President Richard Nixon under the directorship of the Washington Post editor, which demanded triple-checking of everything, making sure that all information was factual, accurate and genuine. While the story was indeed sensational, more importantly, it was true.

Now we have a lot of sensation, but very little to zero truth. As an example, every one of the ledes linked above is not proven to be true, in fact the truth in many of these stories is the opposite of what the headline says.

This would not be much of a problem if the media lies were not absorbed and reacted on by their readers, listeners and viewers. But the fact is that there are a significant number of consumers of mainstream media news that do react to it. The Covington High School incident showed this in perhaps the most frightening way, with open calls for violence against teenagers and high school students, requested by professionals, people that are supposed to be adults, such as Kathy Griffin, Reza Aslan, and GQ writer Nathaniel Friedman, who called for these kids to be “doxxed”, which as we reported, is an action that can be deadly.

We are in the times where the love of many has gone cold, and all is about expediency and selfishness. While there are a few outlets and a few journalists that still retain interest in recording and disseminating the truth, the reality is that most of what is out there is tainted by the drive for attention and sensationalism.

The media that engages in such behavior is actually hurting people, rather than informing and helping them.

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Russia and China Are Containing the US to Reshape the World Order

China and Russia are leading this historic transition while being careful to avoid direct war with the United States.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Fortunately the world today is very different from that of 2003, Washington’s decrees are less effective in determining the world order. But in spite of this new, more balanced division of power amongst several powers, Washington appears ever more aggressive towards allies and enemies alike, regardless of which US president is in office.

China and Russia are leading this historic transition while being careful to avoid direct war with the United States. To succeed in this endeavor, they use a hybrid strategy involving diplomacy, military support to allies, and economic guarantees to countries under Washington’s attack.

The United States considers the whole planet its playground. Its military and political doctrine is based on the concept of liberal hegemony, as explained by political scientist John Mearsheimer. This imperialistic attitude has, over time, created a coordinated and semi-official front of countries resisting this liberal hegemony. The recent events in Venezuela indicate why cooperation between these counter-hegemonic countries is essential to accelerating the transition from a unipolar to a multipolar reality, where the damage US imperialism is able to bring about is diminished.

Moscow and Beijing lead the world by hindering Washington

Moscow and Beijing, following a complex relationship from the period of the Cold War, have managed to achieve a confluence of interests in their grand objectives over the coming years. The understanding they have come to mainly revolves around stemming the chaos Washington has unleashed on the world.

The guiding principle of the US military-intelligence apparatus is that if a country cannot be controlled (such as Iraq following the 2003 invasion), then it has to be destroyed in order to save it from falling into Sino-Russian camp. This is what the United States has attempted to do with Syria, and what it intends to do with Venezuela.

The Middle East is an area that has drawn global attention for some time, with Washington clearly interested in supporting its Israeli and Saudi allies in the region. Israel pursues a foreign policy aimed at dismantling the Iranian and Syrian states. Saudi Arabia also pursues a similar strategy against Iran and Syria, in addition to fueling a rift within the Arab world stemming from its differences with Qatar.

The foreign-policy decisions of Israel and Saudi Arabia have been supported by Washington for decades, for two very specific reasons: the influence of the Israel lobby in the US, and the need to ensure that Saudi Arabia and the OPEC countries sell oil in US dollars, thereby preserving the role of the US dollar as the global reserve currency.

The US dollar remaining the global reserve currency is essential to Washington being able to maintain her role as superpower and is crucial to her hybrid strategy against her geopolitical rivals. Sanctions are a good example of how Washington uses the global financial and economic system, based on the US dollar, as a weapon against her enemies. In the case of the Middle East, Iran is the main target, with sanctions aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from trading on foreign banking systems. Washington has vetoed Syria’s ability to procure contracts to reconstruct the country, with European companies being threatened that they risk no longer being able to work in the US if they accept to work in Syria.

Beijing and Moscow have a clear diplomatic strategy, jointly rejecting countless motions advanced by the US, the UK and France at the United Nations Security Council condemning Iran and Syria. On the military front, Russia continues her presence in Syria. China’s economic efforts, although not yet fully visible in Syria and Iran, will be the essential part of reviving these countries destroyed by years of war inflicted by Washington and her allies.

China and Russia’s containment strategy in the Middle East aims to defend Syria and Iran diplomatically using international law, something that is continuously ridden roughshod over by the US and her regional allies. Russia’s military action has been crucial to curbing and defeating the inhuman aggression launched against Syria, and has also drawn a red line that Israel cannot cross in its efforts to attack Iran. The defeat of the United States in Syria has created an encouraging precedent for the rest of the world. Washington has been forced to abandon the original plans to getting rid of Assad.

Syria will be remembered in the future as the beginning of the multipolar revolution, whereby the United States was contained in military-conventional terms as a result of the coordinated actions of China and Russia.

China’s economic contribution provides for such urgent needs as the supply of food, government loans, and medicines to countries under Washington’s economic siege. So long as the global financial system remains anchored to the US dollar, Washington remains able to cause a lot of pain to countries refusing to obey her diktats.

The effectiveness of economic sanctions varies from country to country. The Russian Federation used sanctions imposed by the West as an impetus to obtain a complete, or almost autonomous, refinancing of its main foreign debt, as well as to producing at home what had previously been imported from abroad. Russia’s long-term strategy is to open up to China and other Asian countries as the main market for imports and exports, reducing contacts with the Europeans if countries like France and Germany continue in their hostility towards the Russian Federation.

Thanks to Chinese investments, together with planned projects like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the hegemony of the US dollar is under threat in the medium to long term. The Chinese initiatives in the fields of infrastructure, energy, rail, road and technology connections among dozens of countries, added to the continuing need for oil, will drive ever-increasing consumption of oil in Asia that is currently paid for in US dollars.

Moscow is in a privileged position, enjoying good relations with all the major producers of oil and LNG, from Qatar to Saudi Arabia, and including Iran, Venezuela and Nigeria. Moscow’s good relations with Riyadh are ultimately aimed at the creation of an OPEC+ arrangement that includes Russia.

Particular attention should be given to the situation in Venezuela, one of the most important countries in OPEC. Riyadh sent to Caracas in recent weeks a tanker carrying two million barrels of oil, and Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has taken a neutral stance regarding Venezuela, maintaining a predictable balance between Washington and Caracas.

These joint initiatives, led by Moscow and Beijing, are aimed at reducing the use of the US dollar by countries that are involved in the BRI and adhere to the OPEC+ format. This diversification away from the US dollar, to cover financial transactions between countries involving investment, oil and LNG, will see the progressive abandonment of the US dollar as a result of agreements that increasingly do away with the dollar.

For the moment, Riyadh does not seem intent on losing US military protection. But recent events to do with Khashoggi, as well as the failure to list Saudi Aramco on the New York or London stock exchanges, have severely undermined the confidence of the Saudi royal family in her American allies. The meeting between Putin and MBS at the G20 in Bueno Aires seemed to signal a clear message to Washington as well as the future of the US dollar.

Moscow and Beijing’s military, economic and diplomatic efforts see their culmination in the Astana process. Turkey is one of the principle countries behind the aggression against Syria; but Moscow and Tehran have incorporated it into the process of containing the regional chaos spawned by the United States. Thanks to timely agreements in Syria known as “deconfliction zones”, Damascus has advanced, city by city, to clear the country of the terrorists financed by Washington, Riyadh and Ankara.

Qatar, an economic guarantor of Turkey, which in return offers military protection to Doha, is also moving away from the Israeli-Saudi camp as a result of Sino-Russian efforts in the energy, diplomatic and military fields. Doha’s move has also been because of the fratricidal diplomatic-economic war launched by Riyadh against Doha, being yet another example of the contagious effect of the chaos created by Washington, especially on US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Washington loses military influence in the region thanks to the presence of Moscow, and this leads traditional US allies like Turkey and Qatar to gravitate towards a field composed essentially of the countries opposed to Washington.

Washington’s military and diplomatic defeat in the region will in the long run make it possible to change the economic structure of the Middle East. A multipolar reality will prevail, where regional powers like Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran will feel compelled to interact economically with the whole Eurasian continent as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The basic principle for Moscow and Beijing is the use of military, economic and diplomatic means to contain the United States in its unceasing drive to kill, steal and destroy.

From the Middle East to Asia

Beijing has focussed in Asia on the diplomatic field, facilitating talks between North and South Korea, accelerating the internal dialogue on the peninsula, thereby excluding external actors like the United States (who only have the intention of sabotaging the talks). Beijing’s military component has also played an important role, although never used directly as the Russian Federation did in Syria. Washington’s options vis-a-vis the Korean peninsular were strongly limited by the fact that bordering the DPRK were huge nuclear and conventional forces, that is to say, the deterrence offered by Russia and China. The combined military power of the DPRK, Russia and China made any hypothetical invasion and bombing of Pyongyang an impractical option for the United States.

As in the past, the economic lifeline extended to Pyongyang by Moscow and Beijing proved to be decisive in limiting the effects of the embargo and the complete financial war that Washington had declared on North Korea. Beijing and Moscow’s skilled diplomatic work with Seoul produced an effect similar to that of Turkey in the Middle East, with South Korea slowly seeming to drift towards the multipolar world offered by Russia and China, with important economic implications and prospects for unification of the peninsula.

Russia and China – through a combination of playing a clever game of diplomacy, military deterrence, and offering to the Korean peninsula the prospect of economic investment through the BRI – have managed to frustrate Washington’s efforts to unleash chaos on their borders via the Korean peninsula.

The United States seems to be losing its imperialistic mojo most significantly in Asia and the Middle East, not only militarily but also diplomatically and economically.

The situation is different in Europe and Venezuela, two geographical areas where Washington still enjoys greater geopolitical weight than in Asia and the Middle East. In both cases, the effectiveness of the two Sino-Russian resistance – in military, economic and diplomatic terms – is more limited, for different reasons. This situation, in line with the principle of America First and the return to the Monroe doctrine, will be the subject of the next article.

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Nearly assassinated by his own fighters, al-Baghdadi and his caliphate on its last legs (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 178.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how the Islamic State has been rapidly losing territory over the last two years in Syria and Iraq, due to efforts by Russian and Syrian forces, as well as the US and their Kurdish allies.

The jihadist caliphate has lost most of its forces and resources, leading it to go into hiding.

Al-Masdar News is reporting that Daesh* leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reportedly attacked in a village near Hajin by some of the terrorist organisation’s foreign fighters in an apparent coup attempt, The Guardian reported, citing anonymous intelligence sources. Baghdadi reportedly survived the alleged coup attempt, with his bodyguards taking him into hiding in the nearby desert.

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Meanwhile European leaders are shocked at US President Trump’s ISIS ultimatum. Via Zerohedge

After President Trump’s provocative tweets on Sunday wherein he urged European countries to “take back” and prosecute some 800 ISIS foreign fighters as US forces withdraw from Syria, or else “we will be forced to release them,” the message has been met with shock, confusion and indifference in Europe. Trump had warned the terrorists could subsequently “permeate Europe”.

Possibly the most pathetic and somewhat ironic response came from Denmark, where a spokesperson for Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen said Copenhagen won’t take back Danish Islamic State foreign fighters to stand trial in the country, according to the German Press Agency DPA“We are talking about the most dangerous people in the world. We should not take them back,” the spokesperson stressed, and added that the war in Syria is ongoing, making the US president’s statement premature.

Germany’s response was also interesting, given a government official framed ISIS fighters’ ability to return as a “right”.  A spokeswoman for Germany’s interior ministry said, “In principle, all German citizens and those suspected of having fought for so-called Islamic State have the right to return.” She even added that German ISIS fighters have “consular access” — as if the terrorists would walk right up to some embassy window in Turkey or Beirut!

Noting that the Iraqi government has also of late contacted Germany to transport foreign fighters to their home country for trial, she added, “But in Syria, the German government cannot guarantee legal and consular duties for jailed German citizens due to the armed conflict there.”

France, for its part, has already agreed to repatriate over 130 French Islamic State members as part of a deal reached in January with US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) who are holding them, after which they will go through the French legal system. However, French Secretary of State Laurent Nuñez still insisted that the west’s Kurdish allies would never merely let ISIS terrorists walk out their battlefield prisons free.

“It’s the Kurds who hold them and we have every confidence in their ability to keep them,” Nuñez told French broadcaster BFMTV on Sunday. “Anyway, if these individuals return to the national territory, they all have ongoing judicial proceedings, they will all be put on trial, and incarcerated,” he said, in comments which appeared to leave it up to others to make happen.

And representing the Belgian government, Justice Minister Koen Geens charged Trump with blindsiding his European allies with the demand, which included Trump underscoring that it is “time for others to step up and do the job” before it’s too late. “It would have been nice for friendly nations to have these kinds of questions raised through the usual diplomatic channels rather than a tweet in the middle of the night,” Geens said during a broadcast interview on Sunday, according to the AFP.

Meanwhile in the UK the issue has recently become politically explosive as debate over so-called British jihadist bride Shamima Begum continues. The now 19-year old joined Islamic State in 2015 after fleeing the UK when she was just 15. She’s now given birth in a Syrian refugee camp and is demanding safe return to Britain for fear that she and her child could die in the camp, so near the war zone.

Conservatives in Britain, such as Interior Minister Sajid Javid have argued that “dangerous individuals” coming back to the UK from battlefields in the Middle East should be stripped of their British citizenship. He said this option has already been “so far exercises more than 100 times,” otherwise he also advocates prosecution of apprehended returning suspects “regardless of their age and gender.”

Identified as French nationals fighting within ISIS’ ranks, via Khaama press news agency

The UN has estimated that in total up to 42,000 foreign fighters traveled to Iraq and Syria to join IS — which appears a very conservative estimate — and which includes about 900 from Germany and 850 from Britain.

SDF leaders have previously complained about the “lack the capacity” for mass incarceration of ISIS terrorists and the inability to have proper battlefield trials for them. Recent estimates have put the number of ISIS militants in US-SDF battlefield jails at over 1000, though Trump put the number at 800 in his tweet.

However, even once they do return to Europe it’s unclear the extent to which they’ll be properly prosecuted and locked in prison by European authorities.

For example, another fresh controversy that lately erupted in Britain involved a 29-year old UK woman who traveled to join ISIS, and was convicted for membership in a terrorist group upon her return to Britain. She was jailed on a six year sentence in 2016, but is now already walking free a mere less than three years after her conviction.

 

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