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Russian troops take up positions in Aleppo, Jihadis given ultimatum

Russian troops take positions along Castello road – the key road leading into Aleppo from the north – as Russian officials speak of Jihadi forces in eastern Aleppo evacuating the city.

Alexander Mercouris

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Russia’s official news agency TASS has confirmed that Russian troops are taking positions along the Castello road – the main road leading into Aleppo from the north, which was captured by the Syrian army in July.

At  the news conference in Geneva on Sunday US Secretary of State Kerry confirmed that part of the agreement between the US and Russia for a ceasefire in Syria involved the ‘demilitarisation’ of the Castello road, to allow for humanitarian access into Aleppo.  This is what Kerry said

“…..this arrangement (the US-Russian agreement – AM) also requires forces from both sides to pull back from Castello Road – and we have agreed on that pullback. Castello Road is a major artery into Aleppo, and what this pullback will do is create a demilitarised zone around it, permitting as quickly as possible the resumption of humanitarian and civilian traffic along that road. And that will be achieved over a period of time by some monitoring, which is essential to the compliance.”

Since the terms of the agreement are not being published, the precise nature of what was agreed was not clear from Kerry’s remarks.  It is now becoming clearer.

It appears from the TASS report that whilst Syrian troops are being withdrawn from the immediate area of the Castello road, their place is being taken by Russian troops – apparently naval infantry troops sent there from the Russian base at Khmeimim.

The TASS report also makes it clear that the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo are supposed to hand over their weapons and to evacuate eastern Aleppo by way of the Castello road.  Here is how TASS reports Sergey Kapitsyn, the senior Russian official on the spot, explained it

“This road is now the corridor for the exit of gunmen from the eastern part of Aleppo who decided to stop fighting and surrender their weapons. As part of the September 9 agreements between Russia and the US on reinstating the ceasefire a special focus will be on the Castello road.  It will become a key route for delivering humanitarian cargos in Aleppo. Now works are underway here to equip the checkpoint of the Syrian Red Crescent Society through which the humanitarian cargos will travel to the eastern and western parts of the city,”

(bold italics added)

This explains why, as reported previously, the Syrian air force dropped leaflets over Aleppo a few days ago giving the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo two days to lay down their arms or evacuate.  The Syrians were pre-empting the announcement of the US-Russian agreement, which it is now becoming clear requires the Jihadi fighters to evacuate eastern Aleppo, and which came into force on Monday i.e. two days after the leaflets were dropped.

In passing, the incident with the leaflets confirms that the Russians were keeping the Syrians informed of the progress of the negotiations with Kerry, just as they say.

Earlier reports which circulated a few weeks ago claimed that the Russians told Kerry that they wanted all Jihadi fighters out of eastern Aleppo by mid September.  It is increasingly looking as if the US-Russian agreement does indeed contain such a provision, though possibly with a more relaxed deadline.

The original US ceasefire proposal which the Russians rejected at the G20 summit in Hangzhou required the Syrian military to pull back from the Castello road at a time when the Jihadis led by Jabhat Al-Nusra were in control of the Ramousseh district and had therefore closed the Ramousseh road into Aleppo from the south. 

Though there are obviously more than two roads into Aleppo, the Castello road from the north and the Ramousseh road from the south are the two main roads into the city.

Had the US ceasefire plan as originally conceived come into effect the Syrian army would have given up control of both of the two main roads into Aleppo: the Castello road from the north and the Ramousseh road from the south.  That would have made the government’s position in Aleppo extremely precarious and vulnerable to any collapse of the ceasefire.

The recent government victories in south west Aleppo have radically changed the picture.  With the Syrian army back in control of the Ramousseh district its communications from the south are secure. 

If there ever was a plan by the hardliners in Washington to impose a ceasefire in Aleppo that would have made the city vulnerable to takeover by the Jihadis, then it has failed.  Instead it appears that the existing plan is for the Jihadi fighters to be evacuated from eastern Aleppo instead, securing the government’s control over the city.

Words of caution are in order.  The mere fact that the Russians are taking control of the Castello road in place of the Syrian army and that the US – Russian agreement apparently requires the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo to evacuate the city does not mean that the latter will happen. 

Already there are reports that various Jihadi groups are rejecting the agreement Kerry and Lavrov agreed in Geneva on Sunday.  It seems far more likely and far more in character that the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo will dig in rather than evacuate.

The US – Russian agreement does not therefore mean that the battle of Aleppo is over.  What it means is that a faction in Washington – which however does not mean the entire bureaucracy in Washington – has now rather grudgingly coming round to accepting the fact that the battle is lost.

 In order to save something from the wreckage it is therefore trying to save the lives of the Jihadi fighters in eastern Aleppo and to preserve them as a coherent force by agreeing face-saving terms for their withdrawal.  The fact the Jihadi fighters will not appreciate the effort and will almost certainly refuse to do what the US has agreed for them is another matter.

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Via RT


Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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