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US-Russia clash in Syria following Al-Qaeda assault on Russian military police

Russian Special Forces repel US planned attack in Syria, denounce USA, and issue a stark warning

The Saker

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This article, republished with the author’s permission, was first published by The Saker

Something rather unprecedented just happened in Syria: US backed “good terrorist” forces attempted a surprise attack against Syrian government forces stationed to the north and northeast of the city of Hama.

What makes this attack unique is that it took place inside a so-called “de-escalation zone” and that it appears that one of the key goals of the attack was to encircle in a pincer-movement and subsequently capture a platoon of Russian military police officers deployed to monitor and enforce the special status of this zone.

The Russian military police forces, composed mainly of soldiers from the Caucasus region, fought against a much larger enemy force and had to call for assistance.  For the first time, at least officially, Russian special operations forces were deployed to rescue and extract their comrades.

At the same time, the Russians sent in a number of close air support aircraft who reportedly killed several hundred “good” terrorists and beat back the attack (Russian sources speak of the destruction of 850 fighters, 11 tanks, three infantry fighting vehicles, 46 armed pickup trucks, five mortars, 20 freighter trucks and 38 ammo supply points; you can see photos of the destroyed personnel and equipment here).

What also makes this event unique is the official reaction of the Russians to this event.

Head of the Main Operations Department at Russia’s General Staff Colonel General Sergei Rudskoi declared that:

Despite agreements signed in Astana on September 15, gunmen of Jabhat al-Nusra and joining them units that don’t want to comply with the cessation of hostilities terms, launched a large-scale offensive against positions of government troops north and northeast of Hama in Idlib de-escalation zone from 8 am on September 19 (…) According to available data, the offensive was initiated by American intelligence services to stop a successful advance of government troops east of Deir ez-Zor“.

(bold italics added)

Today, other Russian officials have added a not-so-veiled threat to this accusation.  The Russian Defense Ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov has declared that:

Russia unequivocally told the commanders of US forces in Al Udeid Airbase (Qatar) that it will not tolerate any shelling from the areas where the SDF are stationed (…)  Fire from positions in regions [controlled by the SDF] will be suppressed by all means necessary.

(bold italics added)

This is unprecedented on many levels.

First, the Russians clearly believe that this attempt to kill or capture a platoon of the Russian military police was planned by the United States.  The fact that they are making this accusation officially shows the degree of irritation felt by the Russians about the duplicity of the Americans.

Second, this is the first time, at least to my knowledge, that Russian Spetsnaz forces had to be sent in to rescue a surrounded Russian subunit.  All Spetsnaz operators survived, but three of them were wounded in the operation (the Russians are not saying how badly).  The close air support by very low flying SU-25 aircraft was obviously coordinated by Spetsnaz forward air controllers and probably saved the day.

In other words, this was a close call and things could have ended much more badly (just imagine what the Takfiri crazies would have done, on video, to any captured Russian serviceman!).

Finally, a US-organized attack on what was supposed to be a “de-confliction” zone combined with an attempt to capture Russian soldiers raises the bar for American duplicity to a totally new level.

The big question now is “do the Russians mean it?” or are they just whining with real determination to hit back if needed.

There are a couple of problems here.  First, objectively, the Russian contingent in Syria is a tiny one if compared to the immense power of CENTCOM, NATO and the ever-present Israelis.  Not only that, but in any US-Russian confrontation, Russia as a country is objectively the weaker side by any measure except a full-out nuclear exchange.  So the Russians are not in a position of force.  Furthermore, for historical and cultural reasons, Russians are much more concerned by the initiation of any incident which could lead to all-out war than the Americans who always fight their wars in somebody else’s country. This might seem paradoxical, but the Russians fear war but they are ready for it.  In contrast to the Russians, the Americans don’t fear war, but neither are they ready for it.  In practical terms this means that an American miscalculation could very well lead to a Russian military response which would stun the Americans and force them to enter an escalatory spiral which nobody would control.

Remember how Hillary promised that she would unilaterally impose a so-called “no-fly” zone over Syria?  She promised not only to deploy US aircraft above Russian forces in Syria, but she also promised that she would force the Russian Aerospace forces out of the Syrian skies.  Thank God, this crazy witch was not elected, but it appears that folks with the same arrogant and,frankly, completely irresponsible point of view are now back in power under Trump.

My fear now is that the incompetent, arrogant, not too bright and generally ignorant commanders at the Pentagon and the CIA will simply ignore clear warning signs coming from the Russians, including the public announcement that the Kremlin has given the authority to use force to protect Russian personnel to the local Russian commanders in Syria.  In plain English, this means that if they are attacked the Russians in Syria do not need to consult with Moscow before using force to protect themselves.  By the way, such rules of engagement are pretty common, there is nothing earth shattering here, but the fact that they were made public is, again, a message to the AngloZionist and the “good” terrorist they use to try to conquer Syria.

This time around we (the world) were lucky.  The Syrians fought hard and the “good” terrorists were probably surprised by the ruthless determination of the Russian military police forces (in reality, mostly Chechen special forces) and of the Spetsnaz operators.  It is one thing to fight Syrian conscripts, quite another to deal with these hardened warriors.  But the next time around the outcome could be different.

The bigger picture is also one which gives me a great deal of concern.  The Syrians, with Iranian, Hezbollah and Russian help, have freed Deir ez-Zor and have crossed the Euphrates river and are moving further East.  In plain English this means that the US and Daesh have lost the war and that the last region of Syrian from which the AngloZionists can hope to partition the country (their current “plan B”) and establish a permanent US military presence is now threatened by the Syrian advance.

The distance between the US forces currently deployed in northeastern Syria and Syrian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Russian forces is becoming shorter and shorter each day.  I can just imagine how, say, Iranian or Hezbollah forces which are already “smelling” the nearby presence of US forces are drooling with hunger for the moment they will finally be able to get their hands on their old and most hated foe.  I feel sincerely sorry for the first US unit to make contact with the Iranians or Hezbollah forces.

Right now the Americans are hiding behind the Kurds, but sooner or later the Iranians or Hezbollah will find them.  As for the Kurds, their situation in Syria is precarious, to put it mildly: they are surrounded on all sides by the Turks, the Syrians and the Iranians and their only more or less stable zone of control is in Iraq.  The Americans understand that perfectly, hence their desperate attempts to stop the Syrians.

This is a very dangerous situation: even though CENTCOM and NATO are by far the “biggest guys on the block”, in Syria the Americans are cornered, their corner is shrinking fast and it remains entirely unclear how this process can be stopped.  Hence the attack on the de-confliction zone we just witnessed.

I hope that eventually the Americans will do what they did in al-Taif and simply pack, declare victory and leave.  That would be the only rational thing to do.  But after listening to Trump at the UN I don’t get the feeling that being rational is at the top of the US priority list.  That’s all rather frightening.

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christianblood
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christianblood

No turning back. Russia, SAA, Iran and Hezbollah should stand their ground and fight the terrorists and their U$ neocon allies even if it is going to lead to WW3.

Rastislav Veľká Morava
Member
Rastislav Veľká Morava

A little late, but an excellent analysis.

Tommy Jensen
Guest
Tommy Jensen

We have been under way on a long road.
The day will come where PNAC either will break USA or PNAC will smash the world. Whether its this time or later doesnt matter, everybody should just be prepared.

No normal human can live with this grotesque comedy in Washington whoever pull the strings.

tapatio
Guest
tapatio

It’s far past time that the idiots controlling Washington are STOPPED by whatever means are necessary before they destroy our world.

Wayne Blow
Guest
Wayne Blow

Time to shoot !!!

tapatio
Guest
tapatio

So long as it doesn’t go nuclear.

André De Koning
Guest
André De Koning

Very good report and time indeed that it is made public how duplicitous the USA is and how right it is for the Russians to go ahead and act. Lavrov spoke good words about Trump’s intention not to attack sovereign countries, but obviously Trump is not in charge and does not even know about what is happening on the ground in Syria.

dago dingo
Guest
dago dingo

Well done Russia! The pathetic Americans have simply lost their collective minds. Please just collapse & die in a corner somewhere, the world is sick to death of the wars & misery you bring to our planet.

Pointing&Laughing
Guest
Pointing&Laughing

You misunderstand who controls America. It’s not the citizens; not anymore. It’s the arms merchants and manufacturers, backed by the banks, with the media as propagandists. U.S. citizens go out to vote, and the elite in charge pretend to pay attention, then go on about their imperialistic business. I love my country, and will fight for it; however, I hate my government, and will resist as much as my old bones will allow. Please don’t confuse the U.S. government with America. If anything, pray for us.

Wayne Blow
Guest
Wayne Blow

You sir are a breath of fresh air, thank you !!!

dago dingo
Guest
dago dingo

Unfortunately for the good American people, which I believe are plenty, your country has been hijacked by the Zionist Israeli scum sucking leeches & it gets you to send American soldiers to fight it’s illegal wars. Your congress is a den of Zionist controlled filth that continually inflicts death & starvation to countries which won’t bow to it’s hegemonic rule. America is the point of the new axis of evil and unless the good American people start waking from their television induced coma & marching on Washington, then I truly feel sorry for the gross embarrassment your filthy, disgusting politicians… Read more »

Rex drabble
Guest
Rex drabble

All of which the American people have allowed and enjoyed the spoils of these wars.They deserve the corrupt govt they have.ZERO sympathy for the americans,murderous fuckers they are!

Pointing&Laughing
Guest
Pointing&Laughing

I’m not murderous. I can be, if myself, my family, etc. are attacked, as I would expect from any peace loving human. You seem to have a tiny worldview, when you blame the crowd for the few.

Rex drabble
Guest
Rex drabble

When was American soil attacked.Dont tell me about the fake 911 which your OWN govt did!

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

“Please don’t confuse the U.S. government with America.”

The day that CITIZENS of America actually get off their derrieres, stop playing their Xbox and put down their cell phone babble and actually make it known to their elites that they WILL NOT STAND for what their government is doing in their name, I MIGHT be willing to accept your statement. I doubt it though, as polling done there indicates that the majority of Americans are pro-war, even if they cannot find the country their regime is conducting wars in or threatening to, on a world map.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/47344.htm
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-04-17/war-works-trump-favorability-hits-50-highest-2-months
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-08/us-has-been-war-over-220-241-years
https://mondediplo.com/openpage/america-at-war-since-9-11
http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/04/15/americans-no-different-than-germans-were-and-are.html

Putin's baby
Guest
Putin's baby

The rest of the world can see their vile duplicity. Well done Syrian and Russian forces, I hope you killed a few yank “advisors”.

lickeyleaks
Guest
lickeyleaks

“Yank advisors”? Makes me laugh to imagine this, who would trust advisors from a country that have not won a war since 1945, and that was with assistance..

Seán Murphy
Guest
Seán Murphy

Which war did they win in 1945?

tiredofthemedialies
Guest
tiredofthemedialies

The one that Henry Ford was decorated for by Adolph Hitler. Keeping the Wehrmach firing on all cylinders.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

The Soviets entirely destroyed the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe.
If the “Yanks” had entered Europe at the beginning of WW2 the Germans would have wiped them into the North Sea. And they knew that.
Henry Ford had nothing to do with the Wehrmacht.

lickeyleaks
Guest
lickeyleaks

As i said,with assistance from UK Commomwealth,and they were invited which makes a change!!

Franz Kafka
Guest
Franz Kafka

Given that it was US corporate and Elite money that armed and funded the Third Reich, I am not sure how the USA can be said to have won?

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

NONE of the allies won the war…..The Soviets (ally in name only) did!!
What happened to the British at Dunkirk in May 1940?…Wat where they doing there? Seems like German intelligence was right…i.e that Britain would invade Germany either via Holland/Belgium/France which is why the Netherlands who was not involved in WW1 was invaded….

lickeyleaks
Guest
lickeyleaks

My dad could tell you about Dunkirk,he was there before going to N Africa and Italy for the duration, he always swore about the yanks in italy,swaning off into cities with chocolate & stockings for girlies when they should be chasing the jerries..
I put what i did because that is the general western verdict that without the yanks,UK would have lost..

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

Well the UK/France with indirect encouragement from Washington started this war and, we learn that German intelligence was right in that Britain intended to invade Germany via Holland/Belgium or France.
The Canadians weren’t much better than the Yanks. Churchill singlehandedly lost the empire and destroyed Europe. The RAF flew their bombers nightly over my house, accompanied by sirens, search lights and anti aircraft batteries popping as they flew to Germany and carpet bombed it. The Soviets destroyed the Wehrmacht and the Luftwaffe at the cost of 27 million Russian lives. Nothing what we are made to believe is in fact so.

ruca
Guest
ruca

They didn’t really win in 1945.

my2Cents
Guest
my2Cents

The Yanks did not win WW2….the Soviets did…2.5 years later Normandy landing took place for the mop up action and to make sure the Soviets would not overrun Europe.

gbardizbanian
Guest
gbardizbanian

Russia should launch a vast PR campaign in the US to show the average American what his leaders are up to in Syria.

David Schultz
Guest
David Schultz

They have. It is called RT. It is up against a bigger opposing one called CNN.

Wayne Blow
Guest
Wayne Blow

They are trying, via RT, Sputnik, the Duran etc. !!!

samo war
Guest
samo war

route 666 ??

louis robert
Guest
louis robert

“Finally, a US-organized attack on what was supposed to be a “de-confliction” zone combined with an attempt to capture Russian soldiers raises the bar for American duplicity to a totally new level.” —– Please, Saker. Let’s stop moaning and groaning. Nothing here is frightening. Duplicity I s only business as usual. The Empire and its accomplices need be confronted head on. For the nth time, this is total war in the making by said Empire begging for it. It will NOT simply go away… It cannot be avoided. Russia must stand its ground against the treacherous Empire. Empire WILL back… Read more »

junktex
Guest
junktex

DC is infested with neocons

Wayne Blow
Guest
Wayne Blow

You know it’s time to stop the “bull shit”, no more warnings to US and coalition, time to start shooting down aircraft (Israeli, US and others} no more warnings shoot first !!!!

Stavros Hadjiyiannis
Guest
Stavros Hadjiyiannis

The fact that US & co. have far more military capabilities and firepower in the broader ME region, does not necessarily give them the advantage when it comes to specific theaters such as those in Syria. Whatever the US has parked all over its CENTCOM area of operations, the Russians can negate under extreme scenarios of escalation. Even though I am no military expert, I can reason that any craziness on the part of the Americans can be retaliated against by using Russia’s missile systems in and around Syria. Things like the Kalibr cruise missile or the Iskander ballistic missile… Read more »

Ron Rushburg
Guest
Ron Rushburg

Russia has the Caspian Sea fleet which is insulated, remote, and untouchable; no other navy there, excepting Iran of course. They have already proven the capability of missiles sent from there.
This alone should make the Zionists think twice.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

“no other navy there, excepting Iran of course”

China’s navy is also in the Mediterranean.

Ron Rushburg
Guest
Ron Rushburg

gonzo, you missed the gist of my post; I referred to the Caspian Sea, not the Med.

Russia has the Caspian Sea fleet which is insulated, remote, and untouchable; no other navy there, excepting Iran of course.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

Understood

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

“Iraq and Turkey are another 2 major powers in the region that the US cannot count on and will either stay neutral or even take Russia’s side ”

Iraq has ALREADY taken its side and it is SYRIA and RUSSIA!
http://www.rt.com/news/316592-russia-syria-islamic-state/
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article43239.htm
http://russia-insider.com/en/how-fuel-endless-war-us-allies-now-fighting-cia-backed-rebels-syria/ri12832
http://theduran.com/sectarian-iraq-has-helped-save-tolerant-secular-syria/
http://theduran.com/syria-iraq-now-allies-isis-us/

As for Turkey, it seems to most that it has taken the decision to support Syria/Russia in its war and has turned its back on the US….the coming weeks will offer proof one way or another.

Kubrickian
Guest
Kubrickian

Blame Hilary Clinton for her ‘it’s the Russians’ smokescreen to hide the John Podesta Pedogate. That prevented Trump from being able to work with Putin.

Lord Snooty
Guest
Lord Snooty

They killed a Russian Lt.-General yesterday by means of a mortar attack.

Now who done gone and told told them all that Russian Lt.-General was in the vicinity?

BobValdez
Guest
BobValdez

Link?

Lord Snooty
Guest
Lord Snooty
BobValdez
Guest
BobValdez

Thank you.

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May survives ‘no confidence’ vote as UK moves towards March 29 deadline or Article 50 extension (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 168.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the ‘no confidence’ vote that UK Prime Minister May won with the a slim margin…meaning that though few MPs have confidence in her ‘Brexit withdrawal’ negotiating skills, they appear to have no problem allowing May to lead the country towards its Brexit deadline in March, which coincidently may be delayed and eventually scrapped altogether.

Meanwhile Tony Blair is cozying up to Brussels’ oligarchs, working his evil magic to derail the will of the British people, and keep the integrationist ambitions for the UK and Europe on track.

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Via RT


The UK government led by Theresa May, has survived to fight another day, after winning a no-confidence vote, tabled by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, following parliament rejecting the PM’s Brexit deal, earlier on Tuesday evening.

The no-confidence vote was defeated by 19 votes – the government winning by 325 to 306. It’s a rare positive note for May’s Tory cabinet after the humiliating Brexit defeat.

Speaking immediately after the vote, a victorious May said she was “pleased” that the House expressed its confidence in her government. May said she will “continue to work” to deliver on the result of the Brexit referendum and leave the EU.

May invited the leaders of parliamentary parties to meet with her individually, beginning on Wednesday evening.

“I stand ready to work with any member of this House to deliver on Brexit,” she said.

Responding to the vote, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the House had “emphatically” rejected May’s deal on Tuesday. The government, he said, must now remove “clearly once and for all the prospect of the catastrophe of a no-deal Brexit from the EU and all the chaos that would result from that.”

Labour will now have to consider what move to make next. Their official Brexit policy, decided by members at conference in September, states that if a general election cannot be forced, then all options should be left on the table, including calling for a second referendum.

Liberal Democrats MP Ed Davey also called on May to rule out a no deal Brexit.

The way forward for Brexit is not yet clear and May’s options are now limited, given that the Brexit deal she was offering was voted down so dramatically on Tuesday.

Gavin Barrett, a professor at the UCD Sutherland School of Law in Dublin, told RT that May will now have to decide if her second preference is a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum. Her preference will likely be a no-deal Brexit, Barrett said, adding that “since no other option commands a majority in the House” a no-deal exit is now “the default option.”

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Final Steps in Syria’s Successful Struggle for Peace and Sovereignty

The war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The situation in Syria evolves daily and sees two situations very closely linked to each other, with the US withdrawal from Syria and the consequent expansionist ambitions of Erdogan in Syria and the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) takeover in Idlib that frees the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Russian aviation to liberate the de-escalation zone.

Trump has promised to destroy Turkey economically if he attacks the Kurds, reinforcing his claim that Erdogan will not target the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) once the US withdraws from the area. One of the strongest accusations made against Trump’s withdrawal by his opponents is that no Middle Eastern force will ever trust the US again if they abandon the SDF to its fate, that is, to its annihilation at the hands of the Turkish army and its FSA proxies. This, however, is not possible; not so much because of Trump’s economic threats, but because of Damascus and Moscow being strongly opposed to any Turkish military action in the northeast of Syria.

This is a red line drawn by Putin and Assad, and the Turkish president likely understands the consequences of any wrong moves. It is no coincidence that he stated several times that he had no problems with the “Syrians or Syrian-Kurdish brothers”, and repeated that if the area under the SDF were to come under the control of Damascus, Turkey would have no need to intervene in Syria. Trump’s request that Ankara have a buffer zone of 20 kilometers separating the Kurdish and Turkish forces seems to complement the desire of Damascus and Moscow to avoid a clash between the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the SDF.

The only party that seems to be secretly encouraging a clash between the SDF and Turkish forces is Israel, criticizing Ankara and singing the praises of the SDF, in order to try and accentuate the tensions between the two sides, though naturally without success. Israel’s continued raids in Syria, though almost constantly failing due to Syrian air defense, and the divide-and-rule policy used against Turkey and the SDF, show that Tel Aviv is now weakened and mostly irrelevant in the Syrian conflict.

In Idlib, the situation seems to be becoming less complicated and difficult to decipher. Russia, Iran and Syria had asked Erdogan to take control of the province through its “moderate jihadists”, sit down at the negotiating table, and resolve the matter through a diplomatic solution. Exactly the opposite happened. The HTS (formerly al-Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria) has in recent weeks conquered practically the whole province of Idlib, with numerous forces linked to Turkey (Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Din al-Zenki) dissolving and merging into HTS. This development puts even more pressure on Erdogan, who is likely to see his influence in Idlib fade away permanently. Moreover, this evolution represents a unique opportunity for Damascus and Moscow to start operations in Idlib with the genuine justification of combating terrorism. It is a repeat of what happened in other de-escalation areas. Moscow and Damascus have repeatedly requested the moderates be separated from the terrorists, so as to approach the situation with a diplomatic negotiation.

In the absence of an effective division of combatants, all are considered terrorists, with the military option replacing the diplomatic. This remains the only feasible option to free the area from terrorists who are not willing to give back territory to the legitimate government in Damascus and are keeping civilians hostages. The Idlib province seems to have experienced the same playbook applied in other de-escalation zones, this time with a clear contrast between Turkey and Saudi Arabia that shows how the struggle between the two countries is much deeper than it appears. The reasons behind the Khashoggi case and the diplomatic confrontation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia were laid bare in the actions of the HTS in Idlib, which has taken control of all the areas previously held by Ankara’s proxies.

It remains to be seen whether Moscow and Damascus would like to encourage Erdogan to recover Idlib through its proxies, trying to encourage jihadists to fight each other as much as possible in order to lighten the task of the SAA, or whether they would prefer to press the advantage themselves and attack while the terrorist front is experiencing internal confusion.

In terms of occupied territory and accounts to be settled, two areas of great importance for the future of Syria remain unresolved, namely al-Tanf, occupied by US forces on the Syrian-Jordanian border, and the area in the north of Syria occupied by Turkish forces and their FSA proxies. It is too early to approach a solution militarily, it being easier for Damascus and Moscow to complete the work to free Syria from the remaining terrorists. Once this has been done, the presence of US or Turkish forces in Syria, whether directly or indirectly, would become all the more difficult to justify. Driving away the US and, above all, Turkey from Syrian territory will be the natural next step in the Syrian conflict.

This is an unequivocal sign that the war of aggression against Syria is winding up, and this can be observed by the opening of a series of new embassies in Damascus. Several countries — including Italy in the near future — will reopen their embassies in Syria to demonstrate that the war, even if not completely over, is effectively won by Damascus and her allies.

For this reason, several countries that were previously opposed to Damascus, like the United Arab Emirates, are understood to have some kind of contact with the government of Damascus. If they intend to become involved in the reconstruction process and any future investment, they will quite naturally need to re-establish diplomatic relations with Damascus. The Arab League is also looking to welcome Syria back into the fold.

Such are signs that Syria is returning to normality, without forgetting which and how many countries have conspired and acted directly against the Syrians for over seven years. An invitation to the Arab League or some embassy being reopened will not be enough to compensate for the damage done over years, but Assad does not preclude any option, and is in the meantime demonstrating to the Israelis, Saudis and the US Deep State that their war has failed and that even their most loyal allies are resuming diplomatic relations with Damascus, a double whammy against the neocons, Wahhabis and Zionists.

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Google Manipulated YouTube Search Results for Abortion, Maxine Waters, David Hogg

The existence of the blacklist was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News.

The Duran

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Via Breitbart


In sworn testimony, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Congress last month that his company does not “manually intervene” on any particular search result. Yet an internal discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News reveals Google regularly intervenes in search results on its YouTube video platform – including a recent intervention that pushed pro-life videos out of the top ten search results for “abortion.”

The term “abortion” was added to a “blacklist” file for “controversial YouTube queries,” which contains a list of search terms that the company considers sensitive. According to the leak, these include some of these search terms related to: abortion, abortions, the Irish abortion referendum, Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and anti-gun activist David Hogg.

The existence of the blacklist was revealed in an internal Google discussion thread leaked to Breitbart News by a source inside the company who wishes to remain anonymous. A partial list of blacklisted terms was also leaked to Breitbart by another Google source.

In the leaked discussion thread, a Google site reliability engineer hinted at the existence of more search blacklists, according to the source.

“We have tons of white- and blacklists that humans manually curate,” said the employee. “Hopefully this isn’t surprising or particularly controversial.”

Others were more concerned about the presence of the blacklist. According to the source, the software engineer who started the discussion called the manipulation of search results related to abortion a “smoking gun.”

The software engineer noted that the change had occurred following an inquiry from a left-wing Slate journalist about the prominence of pro-life videos on YouTube, and that pro-life videos were replaced with pro-abortion videos in the top ten results for the search terms following Google’s manual intervention.

“The Slate writer said she had complained last Friday and then saw different search results before YouTube responded to her on Monday,” wrote the employee. “And lo and behold, the [changelog] was submitted on Friday, December 14 at 3:17 PM.”

The manually downranked items included several videos from Dr. Antony Levatino, a former abortion doctor who is now a pro-life activist. Another video in the top ten featured a woman’s personal story of being pressured to have an abortion, while another featured pro-life conservative Ben Shapiro. The Slate journalist who complained to Google reported that these videos previously featured in the top ten, describing them in her story as “dangerous misinformation.”

Since the Slate journalist’s inquiry and Google’s subsequent intervention, the top search results now feature pro-abortion content from left-wing sources like BuzzFeed, Vice, CNN, and Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. In her report, the Slate journalist acknowledged that the search results changed shortly after she contacted Google.

The manual adjustment of search results by a Google-owned platform contradicts a key claim made under oath by Google CEO Sundar Pichai in his congressional testimony earlier this month: that his company does not “manually intervene on any search result.”

A Google employee in the discussion thread drew attention to Pichai’s claim, noting that it “seems like we are pretty eager to cater our search results to the social and political agenda of left-wing journalists.”

One of the posts in the discussion also noted that the blacklist had previously been edited to include the search term “Maxine Waters” after a single Google employee complained the top YouTube search result for Maxine Waters was “very low quality.”

Google’s alleged intervention on behalf of a Democratic congresswoman would be further evidence of the tech giant using its resources to prop up the left. Breitbart News previously reported on leaked emails revealing the company targeted pro-Democrat demographics in its get-out-the-vote efforts in 2016.

According to the source, a software engineer in the thread also noted that “a bunch of terms related to the abortion referendum in Ireland” had been added to the blacklist – another change with potentially dramatic consequences on the national policies of a western democracy.

youtube_controversial_query_blacklist

At least one post in the discussion thread revealed the existence of a file called “youtube_controversial_query_blacklist,” which contains a list of YouTube search terms that Google manually curates. In addition to the terms “abortion,” “abortions,” “Maxine Waters,” and search terms related to the Irish abortion referendum, a Google software engineer noted that the blacklist includes search terms related to terrorist attacks. (the posts specifically mentions that the “Strasbourg terrorist attack” as being on the list).

“If you look at the other entries recently added to the youtube_controversial_query_blacklist(e.g., entries related to the Strasbourg terrorist attack), the addition of abortion seems…out-of-place,” wrote the software engineer, according to the source.

After learning of the existence of the blacklist, Breitbart News obtained a partial screenshot of the full blacklist file from a source within Google. It reveals that the blacklist includes search terms related to both mass shootings and the progressive anti-second amendment activist David Hogg.

This suggests Google has followed the lead of Democrat politicians, who have repeatedly pushed tech companies to censor content related to the Parkland school shooting and the Parkland anti-gun activists. It’s part of a popular new line of thought in the political-media establishment, which views the public as too stupid to question conspiracy theories for themselves.

Here is the partial blacklist leaked to Breitbart:

2117 plane crash Russian

2118 plane crash

2119 an-148

2120 florida shooting conspiracy

2121 florida shooting crisis actors

2122 florida conspiracy

2123 florida false flag shooting

2124 florida false flag

2125 fake florida school shooting

2126 david hogg hoax

2127 david hogg fake

2128 david hogg crisis actor

2129 david hogg forgets lines

2130 david hogg forgets his lines

2131 david hogg cant remember his lines

2132 david hogg actor

2133 david hogg cant remember

2134 david hogg conspiracy

2135 david hogg exposed

2136 david hogg lines

2137 david hogg rehearsing

2120 florida shooting conspiracy

The full internal filepath of the blacklist, according to another source, is:

//depot/google3/googledata/superroot/youtube/youtube_controversial_query_blacklist

Contradictions

Responding to a request for comment, a YouTube spokeswoman said the company wants to promote “authoritative” sources in its search results, but maintained that YouTube is a “platform for free speech” that “allow[s]” both pro-life and pro-abortion content.

YouTube’s full comment:

YouTube is a platform for free speech where anyone can choose to post videos, as long as they follow our Community Guidelines, which prohibit things like inciting violence and pornography. We apply these policies impartially and we allow both pro-life and pro-choice opinions. Over the last year we’ve described how we are working to better surface news sources across our site for news-related searches and topical information. We’ve improved our search and discovery algorithms, built new features that clearly label and prominently surface news sources on our homepage and search pages, and introduced information panels to help give users more authoritative sources where they can fact check information for themselves.

In the case of the “abortion” search results, YouTube’s intervention to insert “authoritative” content resulted in the downranking of pro-life videos and the elevation of pro-abortion ones.

A Google spokesperson took a tougher line than its YouTube subsidiary, stating that “Google has never manipulated or modified the search results or content in any of its products to promote a particular political ideology.”

However, in the leaked discussion thread, a member of Google’s “trust & safety” team, Daniel Aaronson, admitted that the company maintains “huge teams” that work to adjust search results for subjects that are “prone to hyperbolic content, misleading information, and offensive content” – all subjective terms that are frequently used to suppress right-leaning sources.

He also admitted that the interventions weren’t confined to YouTube – they included search results delivered via Google Assistant, Google Home, and in rare cases Google ’s organic search results.

In the thread, Aaronson attempted to explain how search blacklisting worked. He claimed that highly specific searches would generate non-blacklisted results, even controversial ones. But the inclusion of highly specific terms in the YouTube blacklist, like “David Hogg cant remember his lines” – the name of an actual viral video – seems to contradict this.

Aaronson’s full post is copied below:

I work in Trust and Safety and while I have no particular input as to exactly what’s happening for YT I can try to explain why you’d have this kind of list and why people are finding lists like these on Code Search.

When dealing with abuse/controversial content on various mediums you have several levers to deal with problems. Two prominent levers are “Proactive” and “Reactive”:

  • Proactive: Usually refers to some type of algorithm/scalable solution to a general problem
    • E.g.: We don’t allow straight up porn on YouTube so we create a classifier that detects porn and automatically remove or flag for review the videos the porn classifier is most certain of
  • Reactive: Usually refers to a manual fix to something that has been brought to our attention that our proactive solutions don’t/didn’t work on and something that is clearly in the realm of bad enough to warrant a quick targeted solution (determined by pages and pages of policies worked on over many years and many teams to be fair and cover necessary scope)
    • E,g.: A website that used to be a good blog had it’s domain expire and was purchased/repurposed to spam Search results with autogenerated pages full of gibberish text, scraped images, and links to boost traffic to other spammy sites. It is manually actioned for violating policy

These Organic Search policies and the consequences to violating them are public

Manually reacting to things is not very scalable, and is not an ideal solution to most problems, so the proactive lever is really the one we all like to lean on. Ideally, our classifiers/algorithm are good at providing useful and rich results to our users while ignoring things at are not useful or not relevant. But we all know, this isn’t exactly the case all the time (especially on YouTube).

From a user perspective, there are subjects that are prone to hyperbolic content, misleading information, and offensive content. Now, these words are highly subjective and no one denies that. But we can all agree generally, lines exist in many cultures about what is clearly okay vs. what is not okay. E.g. a video of a puppy playing with a toy is probably okay in almost every culture or context, even if it’s not relevant to the query. But a video of someone committing suicide and begging others to follow in his/her footsteps is probably on the other side of the line for many folks.

While my second example is technically relevant to the generic query of “suicide”, that doesn’t mean that this is a very useful or good video to promote on the top of results for that query. So imagine a classifier that says, for any queries on a particular text file, let’s pull videos using signals that we historically understand to be strong indicators of quality (I won’t go into specifics here, but those signals do exist). We’re not manually curating these results, we’re just saying “hey, be extra careful with results for this query because many times really bad stuff can appear and lead to a bad experience for most users”. Ideally the proactive lever did this for us, but in extreme cases where we need to act quickly on something that is so obviously not okay, the reactive/manual approach is sometimes necessary. And also keep in mind, that this is different for every product. The bar for changing classifiers or manual actions on span in organic search is extremely high. However, the bar for things we let our Google Assistant say out loud might be a lot lower. If I search for “Jews run the banks” – I’ll likely find anti-semitic stuff in organic search. As a Jew, I might find some of these results offensive, but they are there for people to research and view, and I understand that this is not a reflection of Google feels about this issue. But if I ask Google assistant “Why do Jews run the banks” we wouldn’t be similarly accepting if it repeated and promoted conspiracy theories that likely pop up in organic search in her smoothing voice.

Whether we agree or not, user perception of our responses, results, and answers of different products and mediums can change. And I think many people are used to the fact that organic search is a place where content should be accessible no matter how offensive it might be, however, the expectation is very different on a Google Home, a Knowledge Panel, or even YouTube.

These lines are very difficult and can be very blurry, we are all well aware of this. So we’ve got huge teams that stay cognizant of these facts when we’re crafting policies considering classifier changes, or reacting with manual actions – these decisions are not made in a vacuum, but admittedly are also not made in a highly public forum like TGIF or IndustryInfo (as you can imagine, decisions/agreement would be hard to get in such a wide list – image if all your CL’s were reviewed by every engineer across Google all the time). I hope that answers some questions and gives a better layer of transparency without going into details about our “Pepsi formula”.

Best,

Daniel

The fact that Google manually curates politically contentious search results fits in with a wider pattern of political activity on the part of the tech giant.

In 2018, Breitbart News exclusively published a leaked video from the company that showed senior management in dismay at Trump’s election victory, and pledging to use the company’s power to make his populist movement a “hiccup” in history.

Breitbart also leaked “The Good Censor,” an internal research document from Google that admits the tech giant is engaged in the censorship of its own products, partly in response to political events.

Another leak revealed that employees within the company, including Google’s current director of Trust and Safety, tried to kick Breitbart News off Google’s market-dominating online ad platforms.

Yet another showed Google engaged in targeted turnout operations aimed to boost voter participation in pro-Democrat demographics in “key states” ahead of the 2016 election. The effort was dubbed a “silent donation” by a top Google employee.

Evidence for Google’s partisan activities is now overwhelming. President Trump has previously warned Google, as well as other Silicon Valley giants, not to engage in censorship or partisan activities. Google continues to defy him.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on TwitterGab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to [email protected].

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