Syria Feature: Residents Grieve as US Finally Admits Airstrike on Rebels Near Turkish Border


More details have emerged on Tuesday night’s US airstrike on a rebel faction in northwest Syria, as the American military finally admitted it might have carried out the operation.

Through most of Wednesday, the US-led Joint Task Force denied the reports of the attack on Atmeh in Idlib Province — including at least 25 deaths — but it finally said, in reply to a query by a Turkish journalist, that it “had conducted a deliberate airstrike”. The initial denial was because of a confusion over spelling of Atmeh, the military said.

US Central Command followed with a statement pushing back the claims of civilians among the dead: “We take all reports of non-combatant casualties seriously and look into each one received or reported.”

See Syria Daily, August 12: Why Did US-Led Coalition Bomb Rebels Near Turkish Border?

Meanwhile, residents of Atmeh spoke to journalist Hadi al-Abdallah about the attacks and the deaths. A man showed the graves of five of his grandchildren, girls aged 4 to 10: “Are these girls terrorists? Are they carrying machine guns? May God take revenge!”

The man said he gave the independent rebel faction Jaysh al-Sunnah — a brigade, originally from the city of Homs, which was the target of the airstrike — a plot of land in 2012 to build a workshop for mortar shells.

The mother of the girls, wounded by the attack, told al-Abdallah: “My kids were playing on the front porch, and I was going to milk the cow when suddenly bombs started falling. The house just fell apart on our heads! I’m sorry, I cannot speak.”

The father of the girls concluded, “May God take revenge on everyone in the coalition. They are worse than Bashar and they do not want Bashar to go.”

A spokesman for Jaish al-Sunnah said to al-Abdallah:

Jaish al-Sunna is a purely Homsi group that arose spontaneously. We are not ideologues. Most of us came north to escape the regime bombing of Homs. We thought the regime would not bomb here because it was too close to Turkey. We never expected the coalition to strike.

He suggested that the US deliberately hit Jaish al-Sunnah to halt the progress of Jaish al-Fateh, the rebel coalition which has taken almost all of Idlib Province and moved south into Hama Province since March.

(h/t to The Daily Beast for translations)

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    • Magpie: I see magpie, so if Korans are left on the floor and let Bashar Assad pass on power to his sons like his father did with him then those civilians would be safe but if the Koran is picked up those civilians and say they oppose Bashar Assad pass on power to his sons like his father did with him and are willing to use arms to do so because Assad intends to hold onto through the force of his arms then that Syrian is someone deserving to be bombed? Who taught you this logic Ziad Fadel?

      • Ziad Fadel is not so intolerant, this sounds more like the fanatical logic of Kazemi ‘The Eliminator’, who believes in murdering large sections of Syrian society due to their potential for future thought-crimes against the new Yanki dictatorship he is so anxious to see installed.

        • Where did I advocate murdering Syrians for their belief in Islam?

          “Yanki dictatorship”? Lol you must have developed your political consciousness at the height of the cold war in the 50s and 60s and failed to get an update. Care to provide an example of a contemporary Yanki dictatorship? And what are the resources of Syria that the Yankis covet?

          Wake up and smell the coffee. Your dialectics is out of fashion and bunk.

          Everything about you wreaks of failure. Your cynicism, postcolonialism, negativism, and conspiracism. At your old age, it must be quite a suffering. Stop blaming society for your own failures.

        • Barbar, it must rile you to no end to see a revolution in progress that is targeting not the Yankis (there goes your theory out the window), but is targeting a virulent terrorist anti-US and anti-imperialist regime with some socialist and national socialism credentials, propped up by three anti-US actors (Russia, Hezb, Iran). The same regime that was a client of your beloved Soviet Union for a couple of decades, and now a client of its anti-imperialist successor. And you still seem not to grasp this inversion of sociopolitical forces, sticking to your worn out tropes. And to add insult to injury, it is the Yankis who are backing the revolution.

      • K9 – that is not what magpie said. They are not being bombed for their beliefs but for their actions to promote Islamic terrorism/fascism. This said, I do not believe it to be right to bomb, even in the case of JaN, as they have not committed crimes against humanity like ISIS or Assad have. However there is no doubt that JaS, JaN and parts of AaS will revert to terrorism once they don’t get their way after the demise of the regime.

  1. Interesting take on a potential US alliance with HASI:

    An initial analysis of Mr Robert Ford’s positive view of the Ahrar al-Sham faction, and of the necessity of opening relations with it, points to the existence of a significant school of thought inside the White House that pushes for working with the movement.

    However, I believe that this is an attempt to widen the gulf between the two differing schools of thought that exists within Ahrar al-Sham, in order to destroy it from within.

    The first of these schools is striving to be more open towards the West and to restore the Umma Project to the National Project, as expressed by the late Abu Yazen.

    The second school of thought remains committed to the Umma Project, which transcends Syria’s borders, and it views the Free Syrian Army as a Western project that they must refrain from trusting or working with.

    Of course, it is possible that I am wrong in my analysis! But what could it be that has encouraged the American government to move towards working with a faction that is so forcefully supported by parties whose goals completely contradict its own? In particular, we must consider that taking this route would complicate relations with these other parties even more than today. In addition, the chances for success of this new relationship are very slim, for two reasons.

    The first reason is that Ahrar al-Sham is incapable of taking a decision to open up new relations that could harm the interests of a fundamental ally of the movement.

    The second reason is the strength and control that the school of thought opposed to relations with the USA exercises within the movement. In addition, a not-insignificant proportion of the movement’s components lean towards the ideology of Jabhat al-Nusra, a fact that stands between the leadership of the movement and this (adventurous) step in the direction of the Americans.

    Therefore, we find that, for the most part, Ahrar al-Sham’s foreign policy takes the path of hidden relations, in so far as these relations concern the West generally or the United States in particular.

  2. Such tragedy — only can happen under the tenure of a leftist in the White House.

    “Ankara has sent around 2 planes to bomb empty lots near IS-held buildings in Syria and arrested some 137 IS suspects, most of whom will probably be released shortly. In contrast, around 200 air sorties against some 400 PKK targets have been launched, and more than 847 PKK suspects were arrested. PYD positions near Kobane were also apparently shelled by Turkish forces across the border. Meanwhile IS spokesmen have not said a single word criticizing Turkey for its new “war” against them, but the ceasefire between Ankara and the PKK that held since March 2013 does appear dead. We will probably not see Turkish forces take on IS fighters in any significant way, and the Americans’ permission to use the Incirlik air base will save them a bit of jet fuel but not have much impact on the campaign against IS.

    President Erdogan is also now suddenly demanding that the 80 Leftist and Kurdish MPs of the HDP party have their parliamentary immunity stripped because of their “ties to the PKK.” It is these MPs whose electoral success on June 7 denied him a majority government and the ability to invest himself formally with Putin-like powers. Although he clearly condemned the assassination of the two Turkish policemen, the charismatic co-chair of the HDP, Selahattin Demirtas, is no doubt Mr. Erdogan’s main target in this whole shadow puppet game. With a new war raging against the Kurds, Erdogan will do what he can to prevent the formation of a coalition government, preferring new elections with the troublesome pro-Kurdish party banned or its leading MPs in prison. He may hope for a “rally around the flag” effect from voters–at the price of renewed war with the PKK and many dead.

    In short, the deal some American officials just cut with Erdogan seems to involve a black betrayal of what have been the Americans’ most stalwart allies in the fight against IS, the condoning of a witch hunt against democratically elected opposition MPs in Turkey, and a serious setback in the campaign against IS. This is all in return for the use of a redundant air base and a shadow puppet Turkish war against IS. At least European NATO leaders had the decency to call for “restraint” and “proportionality” in Turkey’s attacks against the PKK, while Washington only speaks of “Turkey’s right to defend itself.””

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