Syria Daily, August 1: US War with Jabhat al-Nusra Escalates

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PHOTO: Smoke rises from a US airstrike near Azaz in northwest Syria on Friday


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The US war with the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra escalated inside Syria on Friday, with the Americans bombing the group and al-Nusra attacking the rebel division hosting US-trained rebels.

The US air force bombed al-Nusra positions near Azaz, in northern Aleppo Province close to the Turkish border, on Friday morning. Activists said 12 people were killed.

The American airstrike came as al-Nusra attacked the headquarters of the 30th Division of the Free Syrian Army, which hosts the 54 rebels trained by the US in a $500 million program to fight the Islamic State. The Division said five members were killed, 18 wounded, and 20 captured.

See Syria Daily, July 31: Did the US Abandon Its 54 Trained Rebels?
Syria Daily, July 30: A US War With Jabhat al-Nusra?

On Wednesday, al-Nusra abducted 18 fighters from the 30th Division near Azaz, only days after the US-trained fighters moved into Syria from Turkey. US officials, who initially denied the kidnappings, later said that none of those abducted were among the 54 trainees; however, the commander of the unit and his deputy were among those seized.

In a statement on Friday, al-Nusra said it had planned to ambush the 30th Division. A Dutch al-Nusra fighter wrote that “the filthy US-backed group” was working with a “US command center” to call in airstrikes.

Al-Nusra’s statement said that the US had never intended to topple the Assad regime, accusing the Americans of false slogans in their claims to support the Syrian people.

The Islamist group criticized the US failure to establish safe havens in northern Syria, and Washington’s listing of al-Nusra as a terrorist organization “while ignoring the regime’s crimes”. Discussing the entry of the 54 US-trained rebels into Syria, al-Nusra noted US aerial attacks with “more than a dozen rockets which left a number of dead and wounded in our ranks”.

The US has bombed Jabhat al-Nusra since the first day of its intervention, publicly targeting the Islamic State, last September. Scores of fighters and civilians have been killed in the attacks on positions in Aleppo and Idlib Provinces.

The commander of the US-trained rebels, Colonel Nadim Hassan, said two days earlier that the Americans had not given his force assurances of protection, despite entry into areas where Jabhat al-Nusra operated and the possibility of retaliation for the American airstrikes.

US officials, who initially denied reports of the kidnapping, said on Friday that “they expected the Nusra Front to welcome Division 30 as an ally in its fight against the Islamic State”.

One “former senior American official”, who worked on Syria until recently, said, “This wasn’t supposed to happen like this.”

A “senior Defense Department official” admitted that the US had misjudged the threat and said officials were trying to understand why al-Nusra had attacked the rebels. He claimed the “silver linings” of effectively fighting by the trainees and quick intervention by US warplanes.

However, witnesses and rebel leaders said most opposition units did not help the 30th Division. An exception was Jaysh Al-Thuwar, a coalition of Arab and Kurdish factions, which came under attack when Division fighters fell back to areas under its control.

The US war with Jabhat al-Nusra has quickly overtaken the question of safe zones along the Turkish border in Aleppo Province. Only last week, Turkish officials were pointing to American acceptance of the proposal, although US counterparts in Washington later denied that their agreement was only to clear the Islamic State from the area, and not to safe havens or no-fly zones.


Video: Rebels Fighting Off Regime Attack on Jobar in Damascus

Rebels fend off a regime attack on Jobar in northeast Damascus:

The opposition holds about 80% of Jobar, which it took over in February 2013. The regime has made repeated attempts, supported by aerial bombardment, to move farther into the district.

See Syria Daily, July 28: Regime Fails to Advance in Northeast Damascus, Collapses in Idlib Province


Video: The Turkish Bakery, Serving 170,000 Syrian Refugees, Destroyed by Fire

Video of the Turkish bakery in Reyhanli, destroyed by fire on Friday, which served 170,000 Syrian refugees:

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30 COMMENTS

  1. Continuing a Discussion: WOULD PLURALITY ELECTORAL SYSTEMS DETER SECTARIAN CONFLICT IN NEW DEMOCRACIES?

    Most new democracies adopt the proportional rep system as if no alternative existed. If such a country has an explosive combo of sectarian cleavages and extreme recent violence, extremist parties will form and find success easy. Afterwards, as in Iraq, people blame democracy (“We tried it but it failed”). Maybe they should ask whether It was foredoomed because they chose an electoral system that invites animosity in such circumstances. The choice of electoral system tends to be irreversible. Having tasted success, why would extremist parties legislate themselves out of existence.

    Kazemi writes: “first past the post does not work well in places where sectarianism is absent.”

    Untrue. In what country did a plurality system fail? If any country should have splintered quickly in a crisis that brought down so many others, it should be the one that was more ethnic, raciallly and religiously diverse (the USA). So why was it the most stable instead? Proportionately it had as many potential fascists and Stalin-mesmerized intellectuals as those that fell. Yet a fascist only succeed in taking over one small and untypical state (Huey Long in Louisiana). Communists couldn’t even win a single seat in the House. In a proportional rep system requiring the common 5% minimum to acquire seats, they’d have gotten in the door easily and expanded afterwards. I don’t think we missed much because they didn’t.

    Almost every proportional rep government outside of England either fell to fascism or authoritarianism (Germany, Italy, Japan, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Poland) or wound up with weak and unwieldy popular front (leftist) coalitions (socialists to Stalinists) far too divided to agree on anything or govern effectively. Today a similar economic crisis (not as deep) is created similar trends. See how Putin spots the vulnerabilities of the system and moves to destabilize Europe by financing (and eventually arming if necessary) extremist parties. He knows he has little chance of that where a plurality system offers little chance of such tactics succeeding.

    The proportional system was a product of historical evolution and struggle in once homogenous countries. The plurality system devised by America’s “Founding Fathers” was a product of conscious design drawing on ideas from the Enlightenment incorporated to avoid trouble and divisions. The proof of success is in the pudding.

    • DEBUNKING POPULAR ALTERNATIVE EXPLANATIONS FOR AMERICA’S STABILTY

      #1: Our English background explains our success.

      It helped. English colonies have been more successful than others. However, some have failed or become highly corrupt (Kenya) or divided (Pakistan, India).

      #2: The USA had no strong enemies on its border to contribute to destabilization.

      Externally, that helped but it doesn’t explain fully why internal differences in race, religion and ethnicity didn’t tear us apart.

      #3: The USA has a “special culture” that immunizes it against stability.

      Special pleading! Cultures take time to develop yet we somehow avoided internal conflict from day one despite having incredibly more ethnic, racial and religious diversity than any country in Europe. Nor are we any more resistant to bigotry than anyone else. When I grew up in the fifties, you often heard terms like “wops,” “kikes, “fags,” “niggers,” bohunks,” “greasers,” etc. The divisions were there IF someone chose to exploit them (see George Wallace, Karl Rove and Donald Trump) and IF (here comes the missing ingredient) it was easy to do. We also had as many would be fascists and Stalin worshipers as any European country in the thirties but they got nowhere. If all these needed was five percent of the vote, there’s no doubt they’d have won lots of seats as in Europe.

      #4: The Civil War proves the plurality system doesn’t prevent dissolution.

      It proves that even a plurality system cannot work miracles. Without the plurality system the conflict might well have come much earlier, before we had time to develop the the sense of national identify to which Abraham Lincoln could appeal.
      Re: “In stable democracies of the west, first past the post often brings either very long term entrenched one-party rule, or brings abrupt shift in power from from one party to another party.

      • I DISAGREE WITH SOME OTHER CLAIMS

        Any system, proportion rep or plurality, has a good chance of working fine so long as sectarianism is out of the picture and there is no major crisis, especially an economic one. However, as Europe becomes less homogenous right wing hate parties are taking advantage of the issue in a system that makes them viable. As in the Great Depression, proportional representation is putting fascist parties in power–at least in two countries so far. More will follow if the economy gets worse. In the US crackpots and hairbrains can run and are very common in republican primaries, but have a tough enough time getting the GOP nomination. If they do, winning a general election is enormously difficult. They tend to get killed in a landslide.

        re: first past the post often brings either very long term entrenched one-party rule or about abrupt shifts in power from one party to another.

        I don’t understand the latter complains since that’s what democracies are supposed to do when voters get displeased with one party and finds the alternative attractive.

        As for “causing” one party rule over long periods, it has only happened a few times in US history and was caused by unusual circumstances unrelated to the electoral system

        –After 1812 the Federalist Party had collapsed and a new major party (the Whigs) took time to form and failed to win the presidency because it failed to expand its appeal. Voters get last say.

        –After the Civil War the GOP first took advantage by keeping white southerners from returning to Congress until all the long desired pro-business laws had passed. In 1876 they agreed to recognize white dominated regimes in the south and ignore any black grievances in return to southern support for Hayes, the GOP candidate in a disputed election. After that the GOP kept power by “raising the bloody shirt,” i.e., appealing to voters, especially union vets, by painting the democrats as “the party of succession.”

        –the Great Depression ousted the GOP and put FDR and Truman in power from 1933 to 1952. Again, the reasons for that are self-evident and had zero to do with a plurality system and a lot to do with Democrats’ response to the recession and war support for FDR and Truman–both great presidents.

    • From a practical point of view, you make a good case for the plurality system. Theoretically, however, it tends to disenfranchise the opposition and the “3rd way”. In the plurality system, differences are settled at the polling booth, and that may be without the necessary debates. People following the herd mentality. Demagoguery is much simpler and easier. In particular if public debate is controlled. While in the proportional system, the debate and coalition building and compromise carries over to parliament itself, and an opposition party has some official voice which the electorate may hear. In the plurality system, elections are local, where the electorate votes for individuals and not parties. That individual has the power of patronage backed by the government, and can get entrenched for a long time. Personality as opposed to ideas become the issue. On the other hand, in the proportional system, generally individuals do not have the power to shape the politics in a locality. The ruling party will attempt to create patronage (as Erdogan has so crassly done by using state money to finance party and ideology), but arguably that is subject to scrutiny by the media. We have seen fringe parties join coalitions in Austria and the Netherlands in recent years. This has not resulted in extremism taking over. It is important that such fringe parties actually enter the legislature or government so the citizenry can see how they behave. In the plurality system, the extremists and the fringe always lose and their voters become further radicalized as there is no official outlet for their views. This can easily go on for scores of decades, creating mass alienation. The dominant party with only 40% of the population voting in its favor gets to own disproportionately 80% of the seats in parliament, and can do naughty things like shut down debate and change the constitution in its own favor.

  2. ALEPPO:

    Rebel bombardment started another big fire and related explosions at Assad’s artillery base in Al-Zahraa.

    https://twitter.com/search?src=typd&q=aleppo

    THE ATLANTIC: Is the United States (ie., Obama) Selling Out Ukraine?

    U.S. officials are turning to Russia for help with Iran and Syria, even as the Ukrainian conflict persists. Over the past two weeks, speculation has intensified that some kind of quid pro quo has in fact been reached with Putin.

    Having long since sold out the Syrian people and enabled genocide to please Khamenei, why would Obama hesitate at selling out the Ukraine to Russia?

    This president was dealt a winning hand and managed to lose with it anyway. He’s an incredible failure. He never asks Americans if we approve of such sell-outs.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/07/ukraine-crisis-russia-united-states/399785/

  3. “US officials, who initially denied reports of the kidnapping, said on Friday that “they expected the Nusra Front to welcome Division 30 as an ally in its fight against the Islamic State”.”
    A” “senior Defense Department official” admitted that the US had misjudged the threat and said officials were trying to understand why al-Nusra had attacked the rebels.”

    Jesus. I’m not sure if they’re that clueless or just playing dumb.

    • Playing dumb, that said if I were Nusra I be extremly paranoid about some of the factions in northern syria: assassination attempts by Daeesh through sleeper cells in Jund Al-Aqsa, drone assassination attempts by the US through Division 30: you would think some one some where is trying to trigger a round of internal blood letting amongst the northern rebels? That something Assad would attempt as well as Baghdadi but now Obama/CIA too? Hmm…something very fishy (ie slimey machiavellian machinations) going on in which the liberation of Assad rule seems to be the least of concerns to some in the State Department/White House.

      • JaN’s biggest existential threat is that of someone or something isolating it from the rest of the rebellion. Anyone who wants to see it gone would start from there (e.g. the US). Internal blood letting would be one of the ways to achieve that. That would have also the benefit of greatly alleviating pressure off Assad.
        Baghdadi, Obama, Assad and the Ayatollahs would all jump in glee at something like that occurring.

    • Would anyone like to list how many stupid,. stupid and incredibly stupid assumptions have been at the heart of Barak “JV” Obama’s mideast policies since 2011. Latest are two insane beliefs:

      1. That Iran won’t make trouble if Assad is still around when billions flow into Iran.
      2. That the absolute best way to assure peace. tranquilty and love in the Middle East is by keeping Iran’s Empire afloat instead of undermining it and by making sure Assad’s now Iran-controlled security organs (those instruments of torture and mass murder) are preserved so they can continue to do their thing.

      Meanwhile as Atlantic reported in an article I also mentioned here today, the Second Coming of Neville Chamberlain times 1,000 is preparing the sell out the Ukrainians to Putin as he sold out the Syrian people and Sunnis everywhere to the Iranian Empire and Khamenei’s puppet ruler in Syria.

      You could almost believe that Obama himself and his chief national security guy and ear bender were Iran’s puppets and plants!

  4. What happened to the 1,000+ Daesh fighters supposedly trapped in Hasakah: surrendered? escaped?, killed? Never existed except in some reporter’s overactive imagination?

  5. A GENERAL TREND CONTINUES

    The Regime continues losing more territory: Islamists incl. Nusra Front inch toward #Latakia & Kurds take over Hasakah city

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/syrian-rebels-make-fresh-gains-1438116530

    The regime’s offensives and counter-offensives continue to fail, inflicting endless attrition. Yesterdat it launched another failed offensive in Jobar. Was it the 20th or the 40th? It resembles Darayaa.

    How are the recovery campaign going in Al-Ghab, in Palmyra, in northern Daraa Province and in Zabadani? WIll a regime offensive ever succeed again and if so can it hold on to any gains?

    The regime doesn’t even try any longer in Aleppo? And how are its boys doing in Deir Ezzor?

    Meanwhile the regime’s media continues to spin tales of endless victories and hundreds of dead rebels.

  6. Who were the 60 man,500 million dollar men allied to?That should have been their backup in a 1500 group alliance.It should have been like,Dude we roll with Ahrar al sham and the US homie.Or whatever group they were with.Nusra obviously think the 60 man group and allies were,at the risk of being controversial.Gay.

  7. TWO THINGS SERIOUSLY HELP THE REBELS IN LATAKA

    1. The terrain provides endless cover which protects against air and artillery attacks. Finding targets for Assad’s aircraft must be like finding a needle in a haystack. Men and tanks moving along these roads can vanish instantly when they need to do so.

    2. Rebels are highly mobile while the regime is forced to defend fixed positions. Regime forces will lose if they play it safe by sitting all day in towns and playing defense but rebels will then take the surrounding hills and pound such positions. If they move out into the countryside, they will be liable to endless ambushes.

    The following JAN video demonstrates exactly the sort of problem I’ve described. It is a JAN video showing the latest battles that have taken place in Jabal al-Turkman, Latakia. Caution: It gets a bit graphic around 3:30.

    http://sendvid.com/xe3bqx40

    AL-GHAB

    The regime managed to take Zeyzoun a day or so ago and, predictably, was unable to hold it. Now doezens of irstrikes hit #Zeyzoun village & its Thermal Power Plant. The electrical Grid Station is burning, as Markito0171 reports.

    Ibn Nabih points out two facts to show how ISIS and the regime continue to collaborate except where the regime looks vulnerable in which case ISIS takes advantage:

    “Rebels took the thermal plant in Sahl al-Ghab = Quickly destroyed by Assad. ISIS took Aleppo’s thermal plant = Left alone by Assad.” Sami writes, “Let’s not forget that Assad & ISIS are also jointly running the thermal plant in Aleppo.”

    CHILLING HAMA VIDEO

    The Assad regime, desperate for manpower, has copied ISIS strategy of massively recruiting children to fill in lost bodies. This video is from Suqaylabiyah. Note the three priests giving their blessings and approval to the Genocide Regime’s efforts and crimes.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Iz1gYoIb3M&feature=youtu.be

    RAQAA

    Reports #ISIS has withdrawn from checkpoints at the S & SE entrances of #Raqqa in addition to increased coalition jet activity over the city–Sami.

    ALEPPO:

    Sixty regime militia mercenaries, shabiha killed in New Aleppo clashes–Orient News

    https://www.facebook.com/RadioFreeSyria/posts/879959168755958

    CHARLES LISTER SPEAKS OUT FOR THE US-TRAINED TROOPS CAPTURED BY JAN

    “Remember, these are US-invested military assets sent to a predictable ambush. If they were American, people would lose their jobs fast.” The first heads to roll should be Obama, Ben Rhodes and most of Obama’s General Keitel Advisory Staff.

      • The Turkish airforce needs to shoot ’em down, expand an NFZ and ignore Obama, who acts like a mole for Iran and its puppet ruler in Sryia.

        • Never gonna happen (turkey).And for the lack of barrell bombings in aleppo last 2 days you have to thank IS, which leveled part of Safira complex were those barrell bombs are made.

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