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Following US shoot down of Syrian fighter chess game in eastern Syria turns bloody

The US’s shoot down of a Syrian SU-22 fighter is the result of a complex though unannounced conflict between the US and the Syrian government backed by Russia for control of eastern Syria.

Alexander Mercouris

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The US has now confirmed that it was responsible for shooting down a Syrian SU-22 and the US led Coalition has now released the following statement explaining its move

At approximately Syria time, June 18th, pro-Syrian regime forces attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces-held town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqah, wounding a number of SDF fighters, and driving the SDF from the town.

Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force and stopped the initial pro-regime advance towards the SDF-controlled town,

Following the Pro-Syrian forces attack, the Coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established ‘de-confliction line’ to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing.

At 6:43 pm, a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Taqbah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet.

Ja’Din sits approximately two kilometers north of an established East-West SDF-Syrian Regime de-confliction area.

The Coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria.  The Coalition does not seek to fight the Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition or partner forces from any threat.

The Coalition presence in Syria addresses the imminent threat ISIS in Syria poses globally.  The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces towards Coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.

The Coalition calls on all parties to focus their efforts on the defeat of ISIS, which is our common enemy and the greatest threat to worldwide peace and security.

There is much about this statement that will doubtless cause anger in Moscow and Damascus.

Firstly, there is nothing ‘legitimate’ about US or Coalition operations in Syria, which have not been requested by the Syrian government or authorised by the UN Security Council.

There is no doubt also that this statement, even if it is correct in its account of the facts, is at best a half-truth.

Briefly, the real reason why the clash today took place is because a race is underway between the Syrian government and military backed by Russia, and the various proxy forces controlled by the US, to establish control of as much of eastern Syria as they can.

In the south the US has sent forces into south eastern Syria across the border from Jordan, and has deployed powerful ground missiles there.

The Syrian military for its part, with assistance from Russia and in close cooperation with Iraqi forces, has sought to contain this advance by advancing to the Iraqi border.

In north eastern Syria the US has been supporting the Kurdish militia – which forms the core of the group which somewhat misleadingly calls itself “the Syrian Democratic Forces” (SDF) – in its efforts to gain control of as much territory as it can whilst purportedly advancing on the ISIS capital of Raqqa.

The Syrian army for its part has fought a whirlwind campaign in recent weeks, driving ISIS out of Aleppo province and pressing into Raqqa province for the first time in years, bringing it into territories where the Kurdish militia backed by the US was until recently ISIS’s only rival.

In the meantime the Russians have been complaining that though Raqqa is supposed to be under siege, a route has been left open for ISIS to send troops from Raqqa towards Deir Ezzor.

ISIS for its part has been attempting to storm Deir Ezzor for months, apparently intending to relocate its capital there from Raqqa.

The Syrian army over the last few days has also been advancing towards Deir Ezzor from Palmyra in the west.  However there were reports yesterday of a Kurdish column being sent south to block its advance, presumably so as to make it possible for ISIS to storm Deir Ezzor, allowing the US led Coalition to ‘liberate’ Deir Ezzor later from ISIS.

What makes all this move and counter-move so complicated is that the fact that it is happening cannot be admitted publicly.  As today’s Coalition statement shows, in theory – even as the two sides manoeuvre against each other – each of them pretends to be doing nothing more than fighting ISIS.

Thus the Syrian aircraft which the US shot down today is claimed by the US to have been bombing the Kurds, whilst the Syrian military claims it was bombing ISIS.

The US military claims that it is only interested in fighting ISIS – “the common enemy” – but it has just shot down a Syrian aircraft.

The US backed Kurds are supposed to be preparing to storm ISIS’s capital Raqqa.  However they are simultaneously sending south a column apparently intended to prevent the Syrian army from stopping ISIS from storming Deir Ezzor.

In other words ISIS – a terrorist organisation which does indeed pose a global threat as the statement issued by the US led Coalition today says – also functions as the cover story each side uses as it manoeuvres against the other.

Given the complexity of this game there is always a risk that something will go wrong, which is what has happened today.  However with the US and the Russians anxious to avoid coming to blows with each other, both sides also look to contain the conflict by trying to keep it within its current curious rules.  Basically these are that neither side sets out to attack the other, and that whoever gains control of territory from ISIS first is allowed to keep it.

That explains why the manoeuvres the two sides carry out against each other are never spoken of in that way, and it also explains the conciliatory language (“the Coalition does not seek to fight the Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them”) in today’s statement.

No doubt over the course of the next few hours the telephone lines between the Russian command in Khmeimim air base in Syria and the US command in Amman in Jordan will be buzzing with discussions as the militaries of the two sides search for ways to limit the damage so as to keep the conflict confined with its present rules.

What this episode however also shows is something else: that in the US once the regime change caravan gets onto the road there is nothing that can be done to turn it back even if its original destination has become beyond its reach.

With President Assad’s government backed by Russian air power firmly in control of ‘useful Syria’ – the wealthy and populous regions in Syria’s west along Syria’s Mediterranean coast – there is no longer any realistic possibility that it can be overthrown or that regime change can happen in Syria.  The manoeuvres the US is engaging in in eastern Syria, even if they succeed (which is doubtful) can only provide it with stretches of empty desert and a few oil and gas fields.

In the meantime these same manoeuvres are risking a dangerous clash with the Syrians, who are backed by the Russians, and are sowing alarm amongst the US’s regional ‘allies’ Iraq (which is now de facto allied with Syria) and Turkey (which is horrified by US backing for the Kurds).  Meanwhile the US’s key allies in the regime change war in Syria – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – have fallen out with each other.

It is impossible to see what the US can usefully gain from all its manoeuvres, whilst the risks it runs, and the enemies it is making, are all too obvious.

Nonetheless it seems that in Syria – as everywhere else – the US has no reverse gear.

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

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Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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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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“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

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Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

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