Syria Daily, Dec 17: Russia Challenges Claims About Its Bombing of Civilians

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PHOTO: A dust-covered man sits in opposition-held Aleppo city after Russian airstrikes earlier this week


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UPDATE 1230 GMT: Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that “it is hard to imagine a better exercise” than Moscow’s operations in Syria.

At a press conference, Putin defiantly said that Russia “will never agree to someone from the outside imposing something” over the fate of President Assad.

The President said that, despite mounting economic problems for Russia, the intervention will not be a strain: “We can keep exercising there for a long time without much spending.” He added that the operations and bombing would be financed through the redistribution of the budget for military exercises.

Putin took a firm line against Turkey, following the downing of a Russia warplane by Turkish jets on November 24: “If someone in Turkey decided to kiss Americans on a certain body part, I don’t know whether it was right or not.”

Saying the shootdown as “an act of enmity”, he explained:

It is hard for us to reach agreement with the current Turkish leadership, if at all possible….

“What have they achieved? Maybe, they thought that we would run away from there [Syria]? But Russia is not such a country.

He dismissed
the possibility that Russian bombing in northwest Syria of the Turkmen community, which has ethnic and cultural links to Turkey, might have prompted Ankara’s action: “I had never heard about the Turkomans before. No one said anything.”

Putin was not as hostile about the 34-nation Islamic coalition announced by Saudi Arabia last week, saying he did not think it would have an “anti-Russian character”: “For the war on terror, we have to unite all our forces, the alliance created by Saudi Arabia must act in the common interest.”

And the President was positive about Washington: “Russia’s plan for a resolution to the situation in Syria coincides in its main points with that of the United States.”


ORIGINAL ENTRY: Russia has tried to counter the criticism of the damage and civilian deaths from its bombing in Syria, asserting that it is hitting “selective” targets in the campaign that began September 30.

Russian warplanes have struck infrastructure and civilian sites among the more than 4,000 sorties, and the attacks have escalated since late November, particularly on opposition-held areas of northwest Syria. Hundreds of people have died in the assaults by bombers, jet fighters, and helicopters.

Among the sites damaged area a grain warehouse, a water treatment plant serving 1.4 million people, bakeries providing food for hundreds of thousands, schools, mosques, and markets. The UN and aid agencies say 80% of assistance to northwest Syria has been cut and about 260,000 people have been displaced by the airstrikes and the regime ground offensives that they support.

However, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov defended the campaign on Wednesday:

We regularly hear criticism of our air strikes against terrorist infrastructure targets in Syria, and there is even a pattern — the more accurately we strike the terrorists, the more noise there is in the foreign press with references to some anonymous sources about Russian air strikes allegedly being non-selective.

Today, we are the only army in the world which has shown in detail, how and with what Russian high precision weapons on planes and ships we are hitting terrorist targets.

See also Syria Feature: Russia Kills Scores in Latest Attacks on Markets
Syria Feature: Russia Kills Scores in Latest Attacks on Markets

Konashenkov then implied that it was the US-led coalition that had to answer for any possible effect on civilians from aerial operations: “At the same time, at best we only know of the results of the anti-IS coalition operations from the words of a few officials.”

The spokesman put out a barrage of claims to prop up his defense. He said “more than 320 militants and 34 armored vehicles and cars” had been destroyed by 59 sorties on 212 targets in 24 hours. Among the targets hit were “15 petrol tankers and about a hundred tanker trucks” used by the Islamic State.

There was no independent evidence to support Konashenkov’s numbers.

The Russians say they have destroyed more than 1,000 ISIS oil “tankers”. However, the militants do not have tankers to distribute their oil in Syria — most is carried by local truck drivers looking to make money from transport to both regime-controlled and opposition-held areas of Syria.

Moscow has also said over the past week — even as most of its attacks have been on opposition-controlled territory — that 30-40 airstrikes each day are supporting Free Syrian Army operations.


Opposition Journalist Assassinated in Idlib Province

Opposition journalist Ahmad Mohamed al-Mousa was killed in Idlib Province on Wednesday by masked assailants.

Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, the media activist group to which Mousa belongs, reported the assassination without giving details.

Another member of the group, Ibrahim Abdelqader, and his friend were killed in Turkey on October 29.


Video: Rebels Try to Retake Military Bases East of Damascus

Rebels pursue a counter-attack on the Marj al-Sultan military bases east of Damascus:

Regime forces captured the bases, including a complex for helicopters, and the nearby village on Monday. Rebels said the following day that they had established an operations room, with five factions including the leading group Jaish al-Islam, to reclaim the area.

See Syria Daily, Dec 15: Regime Breaks Through East of Damascus


Clashes Between Kurds and pro-Assad Fighters in Northeast

Clashes broke out in Qamishli city in northeastern Syria between Kurdish security forces and pro-Assad fighters on Wednesday, according to ARA News.

Citing “security sources and eyewitnesses”, the site said the two sides exchanged fire from their checkpoints in central Qamishli. Two regime fighters and one Kurdish policeman were injured.

On Tuesday, Kurdish security forces arrested nine regime fighters after one of them reportedly opened fire on traffic police. Regime forces responded by arresting three Kurdish personnel on Wednesday afternoon.

ARA says the regime’s National Defence Force militia have arrested dozens of young men as part of forced military service, angering Kurdish authorities.


Top Judicial Official in Daraa Province Assassinated

The top judicial official in opposition-controlled parts of Daraa Province has been assassinated.

Sheikh Osama al-Yatim was head of the Court of Justice (Dar al-Adl fi Houran), which adjudicates on civil and military disputes between civilians and rebel brigades.

Yatim was traveling by car with two of his brothers and two other companions in western Daraa Province on Tuesday when they were attacked. All were shot to death.

The men were killed between a Jabhat al-Nusra checkpoint and one controlled by the Harakat al-Muthanna al-Islamiyya faction, according to a local journalist.

Yatim’s deputy was assassinated by an unknown party in September, and the sheikh escaped an assassination attempt in July, discovering explosives attached to his car.

The Court of Justice was established in December 2014, setting up its headquarters at the Daraa Central Prison.

In April, Jabhat al-Nusra and Harakat a-Muthanna al-Islamiyya pulled out of the Court of Justice after the rebel bloc Southern Front disavowed military cooperation with Nusra and other “extremist” groups. .


Islamic State Mediates Tribal Dispute Over Oilfield in Eastern Syria

The Islamic State is mediating a dispute between two tribes over rights to an oilfield in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria.

ISIS organized a formal reconciliation meeting between the Hammar and Saawa tribes, bringing in a mediator from the larger clan which includes both tribes.

Two years ago, fighting between members of the two tribes left 11 dead. ISIS is paying SP25 million (about $113,000) to the families of tribesmen killed in that fighting.

The Islamic State has called on both tribes to pledge attention to it after the reconciliation.

Activist Zaid al-Thabit explains:

The Islamic State is trying to show itself as the custodian of the tribes and that it is able to solve their problems in order to bring them into its ranks. The biggest motivation for IS is to prevent armed confrontations between its fighters. There are IS fighters from both tribes, so they are afraid that this problem will spread internally within the Islamic State.

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34 COMMENTS

  1. Can this war criminal Konashenkov explain what is their precision missile doing in the middle of a crowded market? What does he have to say about the videos and images showing shattered concrete buildings and pulverized marketplaces? It is never because of an errant missile or an error in targetting. It is always “we never shot a missile there, and either the US did it or they blew themselves up to slag us, or this video is fabricated and you press are agents of imperialism and in on this”.

    And Russian citizens uncritically believe these mendacity.

    Does he understand that the reason he does not hear from the press that the US is killing civilians is because the US is not killing civilians? Or in his culture, the press is to be bought and sold and only mandated to publish lies and propaganda? We have had the press report on several incidents where civilians were inadvertently bombed by the US. Including friendly fire. It was all over the news, with investigations ensuing and details getting published, and US taking corrective actions. But this filthy Soviet apparatchik thinks that there is a conspiracy to hide US civilian casualties. In his culture, it is unheard of that you don’t kill everything that moves. That is sure sign of weakness and lack of resolve.

    These people come from a different civilization and have no intention of humanizing themselves.

  2. “… In his culture”. Russian is indeed a culture. You have to look at Grozni, and the way Russia acted during the Beslan school siege, in order to understand the Russian culture.

    There are times and places where the Russian culture is needed, and is more effective in bringing peace, stability and security. Our liberal progressive fixated approach isn’t always working well.

  3. Three-quarters of Russians want their country to improve ties with the U.S. and other western nations, according to a Levada poll published in early December. Just 41 percent trust television news, down from 79 percent in 2009, a Levada survey published on Wednesday found.
    Putin “understands the danger” facing the economy, Makarkin said. “But he has very limited tools at his disposal right now and oil prices are a factor beyond his control.”

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-16/putin-to-reassure-russians-amid-rising-economic-concerns

    Well, the dikes are starting to spill. They have seen nothing yet. They will be back in the streets selling their wives to foreign tourists for a good time so they can have borsht and methanol laced vodka for dinner.

    What exactly does Russia produce, except for crude oil and gas? A bit of copper here and chromium there. Everything else is either imported or they get an inferior version at the same price, or more likely they cant buy it at all. Prices just doubled since summer and wages are down 10%.

    • UNFAVORABLE PROSPECTS WORKING AGAINST RUSSIA IN THE LONG RUN.

      Russia’s distant second source of income (arm sales, especially to India, Iran. China) has been picking up. The downside in this case is that long-run prospects are poor because all three of the above are working to produce their own knock-offs and no doubt sell them. Turkey also may get into arm sales down the road.

      Thanks to a more diverse economy, a much smaller brain drain, greater trade with the West and less methanol-laced vodka, China is likely to undersell Russia at the low end and possibly compete at the high end down the road, leaving Russia with limited arms to sell at the same time as shale and alternates to oil continue to keep oil price low.

      Meanwhile Mafia-like corruption of the kind visible in the film Leviathan, not only hinders Russia’s domestic economy but, like Russia’s loose cannon aggressive foreign policy, drives off both foreign and domestic investors. This works hand in hand with a brain drain and lack of divesification to assure that Russia will continue to get poorer in relation to everyone else.

      • Vietnam builds military muscle to face China

        Its appears Vietnam will buy weapons from anyone–Russia, India, the USA, Europe.

        Of special interest to China are Russia’s sale of six subs to Vietnam to threaten Chinese ships–a perfect example of why Putin can’t count on Russia as a reliable ally or vice versa. The Chinese are no fools and won’t sacrifice themselves to play Putin’s double game.

        For Putin, China is not an economic or military offset to the West. Isn’t that clear to everyone by now? Isn’t it also clear that China needs the West more than it needs Russia?

        http://news.yahoo.com/vietnam-builds-military-muscle-face-china-013623732.html

  4. CAUGHT BETWEEN TWO POLICY CHOICES, ERDOGAN MUST MAKE THE SMARTEST DECICION

    Which is more important for Turkey if it can’t do both? Countering threats from Russia or Iran or copying Putin-like authoritarian rule inside Turkey. .

    The smartest way to counter Putin’s anti-Turkish moves would be to join the European Union, joining the future and leaving Russia outside that door as it continues to float in the direction of a Third World economy. If allowed in to the EU or NATO, everyone now knows that Russia would immediately work to take over both or otherwise de-stabilize both. That’s the incurable Russian psych as recent events have made clear to the West. By comparison, Turkey, if admitted to the EU, shows no such desire to dominate and destabilize. As a long time member of NATO it has never showed a Russian-style desire to take over.

    Three things currently work against Turkish admission to the EU: 1) his willingness to allow jihadis to move into Syria to join ISIS and 2) his own Putin-like authoritarian behavior (no press freedom, persecution of political opponents, elimination of an independent judiciary) and 3) Islamophobia along with legitimate fears of infiltration by extremists. If Erdogan were to move toward full democracy and autonomy for Kurds, he must still address the problem of an influx of Sunni jihadis created by the juxtaposition of Turkey’s geographical position and a radicalizing Global War for Genocide and Domination over Sunnis being carried out by Russia, Iran and proxies in numerous locations.

    What we must insist on is that Syria take strong action to prevent enraged Sunnis from using Turkey as a vehicle for joining ISIS in Syria. On the other hand, it’s both unreasonable and risky to demand that Turkey keep them bottled up inside its borders, creating an Obama-Kerry-like perception of aiding and abetting Russia-Iranian genocide policies.

    There must be a way to “let off steam.” Russia and Iran, as the Prime Creators of Radicalization make perfect destinations. Turkey need not assist the jihadis from moving into toward the Caucasus or Iran. So long as Jihadis head in that direction, Turkey should neither aid nor block such movements. What a Putin-like way of resolving a problem his support for genocide helped create.

  5. PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA READY TO IMPROVE TIES WITH US

    http://news.yahoo.com/putin-russias-syria-operation-continue-112721645.html

    Bombing Sunni civilians and anti-ISIS, anti-Assad rebels, Putin courts 21st century versions of Neville Chamberlain–nen willing to sell out the Sunnis as Chamberlain sold out the Czechs to Hitler. To fall for it would be to become Allies in Genocide. That’s how Sunnis, who make up 90 percent of the world’s muslims, would accurately see us.

    BAD GUYS: Among those who seem willing to become Allies of Putin and Khamenei in Sunni Genocide are both Democrats (Barak Obama, John Kerry, Ben Rhodes, Bernie Sanders) and Republicans (Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ron Paul, etc. Putin especially adores Trump, which suggests one of the best reasons not to vote for the guy.

    GOOD GUYS: Among those willing to stand up against Modern Fascism as Churchill and FDR once did are Democrats Clinton and Melendez and Republicans McCain, Graham, and Rubio.

    • @RT

      Not sure if this has been posted.

      http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/17/politics/russia-putin-trump/index.html

      For a bit of comedy this is a good read.

      My favorite bit of analysis from Donald Trump.

      “”Russia wants to get rid of ISIS. We want to get rid of ISIS. Maybe let Russia do it. Let them get rid of ISIS. What the hell do we care?” Trump said, despite U.S. wariness of Russia’s presence in Syria, which is mainly aimed at bolstering the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, who the Obama administration has called for to leave.”

      • Trump Is as well informed re: world affairs as Sarah Palin and Ben Carson. Meanwhile, Putin has endorsed him as Russia’s favorite choice for next US president. Iran no doubt would agree.

      • Not that I would vote for Trump but a Republican, no matter which, would never let Russia walk into Ukraine or Syria just like that and kill people.

        However I am quite suspicious of Hillary, even though I would take her anytime over Obama.

    • The Republican nomination will come down to Rubio and Cruz. I am not sure if Cruz is pro-Putin. Cruz riles against political correctness which means he has got a brain. McCain or Menendez should be running.

      By Clinton I assume you mean Hillary. Bill would have never taken this nonsense from Assad, and Syria would have been pacified a long time ago.

      What makes you think Hillary will stand up for a free Syria? Isn’t she quiet about this?

  6. Liar, liar pants on fire.

    Putin denies ‘regular’ Russian troops are in Ukraine

    http://news.yahoo.com/putin-denies-regular-russian-troops-ukraine-170221107.html

    This one reminds me of others:

    –“We didn’t down the Dutch air liner,” “We aren’t targeting Sunnis civilians, schools and hospitals in Syria,”

    –“The Syrian rebels–not Assad–targeted their own people with chemical weapons firing missiles they didn’t possess from Republican Guard positions above Damascus,”

    — “We are providing support for the Free Syrian Army and spend most of our bombs on ISIS.”

    • Putin is like a rabbit ……

      Putin Says Those Aren’t Russian Forces In Crimea. March 4, 2014
      ——-
      Vladimir Putin admits for first time Russian troops took over Crimea, refuses to rule out intervention in Donetsk, April 17, 2014
      ——-
      “Among us are fighting serving [Russian] soldiers, who would rather take their vacation not on a beach but with us, among brothers, who are fighting for their freedom,” Alexander Zakharchenko (leader of the socalled separatists) said in a reported interview with a Russian state television station.
      ——-

      • People seem to have the attention span of fleas.

        Was there even a week between them denying they were deploying S-400’s and announcing they were deployed and operational?

  7. Important Development in Iran Could Impact Region

    Khomeini grandson gets cautious election blessing from the top

    Hassan Khomeini’s expected candidacy in February’s vote is already causing a heated row between hardliners and moderates, since membership of the assembly would place him at the top of Iran’s political establishment. Some say he has his eyes eventually on the top job.

    Khamenei is 76, so the new assembly is expected to play a significant role in choosing his successor since its members are only elected every 10 years

    Rouhani and his powerful ally, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, are hoping to cash in on that popularity to help like-minded politicians win a majority in the assembly and in a parliamentary election that will be held on the same day.

    “Hassan Khomeini is a progressive theologian, especially when it comes to music, women’s rights and social freedom,” one of his close friends told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

    “He closely follows trends on social media and reads the papers. He is interested in Western philosophy as much as Islamic thoughts,” he added.

    The friend said Khomeini had spent time in Malaysia in order to improve his English. At home, he used to sit in the ordinary seats at football matches rather than the VIP section

    “The Khomeini family has close ties with the reformists through several marriages. Hassan Khomeini and Khatami have been hangout buddies for a long time, hiking and swimming together,” a political activist close to both told Reuters.

    “What you see is a clear rivalry between Hassan Khomeini and Mojtaba Khamenei, the son of the current Supreme Leader,” a politician said on condition of anonymity.

    “They both want to succeed Ayatollah Khamenei, so they have both started teaching Kharej in Qom, the advanced courses of Islamic jurisprudence that is necessary to become an Ayatollah,” he explains.

    Mojtaba Khamenei, also in his 40s, is close to the conservatives and the Revolutionary Guards. He is widely believed to have been behind the sudden rise of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to presidency in 2005 and his contested re-election in 2009.

    http://news.yahoo.com/khomeini-grandson-gets-cautious-election-blessing-top-140154951.html

    • Good news. If the opposition organizes, a lot of things will start happening. Unfortunately parts of the opposition are not seeking liberation but are seeking power. These people should be openly discredited and criticized.

  8. News from today: Seyed Ali Mousavi leader of the “Ahl al-Haq Asaeb” militia in Iraq
    killed by Syrian Rebels in Aleppo.

    —————————————————————————————————-

    The Middle East’s most potent new political force, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, controlled by Iranis is stepping up its support for the al-Assad regime. (At the beginning of 2014)

    “”Since the US military left Iraq in December 2011, and within two months of the first national election since then, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq has quietly emerged as one of the most powerful players in the country’s political and public life. Through a mix of strategic diplomacy, aggressive military operations and intimidation – signature methods of its main patron,

    the Iranian general Qassem Suleimani –

    the group is increasingly calling the shots in two countries.””

    “”Little more than seven years ago, they were just another Iranian proxy used to attack the Americans,” said a minister. “Now they have political legitimacy and their tentacles in all the security apparatus. Some of us didn’t notice until it was too late.””

    “”Estimates of the numbers of Shia fighters in Syria range between 8,000 and 15,000. (March 2014) Whatever the true figure, the involvement of large numbers of Iraqis is not the secret it was in the early months of Syria’s civil war, which is now being fought along a sectarian faultline.””

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/12/iraq-battle-dead-valley-peace-syria

  9. Aras Xani, Rojava police forces (Asayîs) is fighting the Syrian regime backed militants In Qamislo. Many were killed in the clashes today.

    Who are this regime backed militants at Qamislo?

    • As I understand it, there’s been a truce between the SAA and YPG is Qamishlo for a couple of years. The SAA holds the airport, government building downtown and a couple of mostly Arab suburbs.

    • The SAA has no legitimacy. They should be treated like any militia or mafia gang. The US should bomb their armor and airport, and turn that into a US base.

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