Syria Daily, April 1: Ceasefire? Regime Bombing Kills 33+ Near Damascus

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PHOTO: Demolished civil defense center from Thursday’s airstrikes on Deir as-Safir


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FRIDAY FEATURES

Russia Upset Over Report of 1,450 Civilian Casualties in 3 Months of Airstrikes
Assad — Russia Can Have Permanent Airbase


Regime warplanes killed at least 33 people and wounded 60 in an opposition-held town near Syria’s capital Damascus on Thursday, violating the February 27 “cessation of hostilities”.

The 14 raids on Deir as-Safir, 12 km (7.5 miles) southeast of Damascus, reportedly includes strikes on a school, a mosque, and two civil defense buildings. Videos showed dead and injured children and victims being treated in a makeshift hospital, and a boy rescued from the rubble.

The deaths brought the toll to at least 37, with scores injured, in two days. On Wednesday, jet fighters and helicopters attacked in the al-Marj area, including the village of Bala, and the town of Bala. Among the dead was a White Helmets worker, killed minutes after the group filmed airstrikes and their rescue efforts.

See Syria Feature: Defying Ceasefire, Regime Bombs Near Damascus

The Syrian military has been trying to seize territory in al-Marj despite the ceasefire. Deir as-Safir and Douma are not on the frontline, although regime troops reportedly tried to infiltrate the latter on Wednesday.

The attacked areas also do not have any presence of Jabhat al-Nusra or Islamic State, groups excluded from the cessation of hostilities.

EAST GHOUTA MAP

(Map: Syria Direct)

Violence has decreased across much of Syria since February 27; however, the Syrian military and its allies have continued aerial and ground attacks in several provinces. The Syrian Network for Human Rights reported at least 512 military operations up to March 25, 468 of them by pro-Assad forces.

Men remove a body from a damaged house:

Frightened children after the school attack:


Rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra Attack Pro-Assad Forces South of Aleppo

Rebels and the jihadists of Jabhat al-Nusra have attacked foreign militia, Iranian units, and Syrian troops south of Aleppo city.

Pro-opposition correspondents report that the assault has already taken control of several hills near al-Eis and Khan Touman, surprising the pro-Assad forces. The regime lines were weakened because of the movement of troops to the offensive against the Islamic State in Palmyra in central Syria, according to the reports.

Claimed footage of a Jabhat al-Nusra vehicle-borne bomb:

Regime warplanes have responded with 14 airstrikes, according to the Eldorar website.

The rebels say the attack is a “counter-offensive” because the ceasefire was broken by regime airstrikes on civilian areas in Aleppo Province.

Enabled by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian military and foreign allies launched offensives in October, making limited gains in the areas near al-Eis and Khan Touman.


Pictures: Mass Protests Across Syria

For the fifth week in a row, there have been mass protests, with the slogan “The Revolution Continues” and “No to Federalism”, across Syria:

Idlib Province:

IDLIB PROTEST 01-04-16

Aleppo city:

DEMO ALEPPO PROVINCE 01-04-16

With the partial cessation of hostilities across Syria offering some security from aerial attacks, the demonstrations — offering echoes of the start of the uprising in 2011 — have been renewed in many areas of the country.

See Syria Video Feature: Opposition Rallies Across the Country

Opposition activists reported more than 20 demonstrations today in the Damascus suburbs and Homs, Idlib, and Aleppo Provinces.

There were even rallies in East Ghouta near Damascus, defying aerial attacks that killed at least 33 people on Thursday:

DEMO EAST GHOUTA 01-04-16


Kafranbel: “No Assad = No Terrorism”

Countering the Assad regime’s narrative about a fight against terrorism, the protesters of Kafranbel in northwest Syria claim the President’s departure is necessary for victory:

KAFRANBEL 01-04-16


Signs of Withdrawal of Saudi Finance from Lebanon

There are further signs on Friday that Saudi Arabia, upset with Lebanon’s position on regional issues, is putting financial pressure on Beirut.

Last month, Riyadh suspended a $4 billion grant for purchases of military equipment. Officially, the Saudis expressed dissatisfaction with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil’s refusal to vote on an Arab League resolution condemning Iran, after the Saudi Embassy in Tehran was attacked by a crowd in January. However, analysts also saw the move as a challenge to Hezbollah and its involvement in the Syrian conflict.

A banker in Beirut said on Thursday that all money transfers from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon have been halted. Journalist Carol Malouf reports that the Saudi outlet Al Arabiya TV has suddenly closed its Beirut office, laying off 30 staff.

The Saudi steps come as former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is visiting Russia, including a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.


Video: “Nothing to Eat Except Herbs” in Besieged Rastan

Residents of Rastan in northern Homs Province speak about the Syrian military’s siege that has cut off food and medicine to the opposition-held town:

Regime forces have completely encircled Rastan and nearby towns. Since January of this year, no aid has entered the city.

Earlier this week, UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien expressed “great concern” about the situation in Rastan.

A woman surrounded by children says in the video, “We can’t live like this. If help doesn’t come, that’s it…We’re finished.”


Amnesty: Turkey Forces 1000s of Syrians to Return

Amnesty International says Turkey has forced thousands of Syrians to return in the last two months.

Citing testimonies from Turkey’s southern border provinces, Amnesty said authorities have been rounding up and expelling groups of around 100 Syrian men, women and children almost daily since the middle of January.

Most appear to be unregistered refugees, though the rights group said it also documented cases of registered Syrians being returned when stopped while not carrying their papers.

In one case, three young children were forced back into Syria without their parents; another was the return of an eight-month pregnant woman.

Amnesty also said authorities have scaled back the registration of Syrian refugees, leaving them with no access to basic services.

Turkey hosts more than 2.7 million Syrian refugees, more than half of the total who have fled the country since 2011. Ankara agreed with the European Union this month to take back all refugees who cross to Greece in exchange for financial aid, faster visa-free travel for Turks, and the promise of accelerated talks on EU membership.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry denied Syrians were being sent back against their will: “None of the Syrians that have demanded protection from our country are being sent back to their country by force, in line with international and national law.”

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74 COMMENTS

  1. Superb Article: WHY DO WE STILL BELIEVE IN PUTIN’S STRATEGY?
    .
    The article begins by looking at how Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine has cost Russia enormously with no real offsetting gains. In Syria, behind the hype only fragments of the initial objectives were reached and the only prospect is endless war so long as Assad and his inner circle rule.
    .
    “… the Russian economy has been in decline since 2013 when “Putinomics” exhausted its potential for growth. Now with low oil prices, sanctions, and structural deficiencies, Moscow’s only hope is a full scale reforms program that requires a considerable shift in both foreign policy and domestic political constitution. Despite being in the most dangerous economic crisis of the past 25 years, the Russian government shows no sign of the desire to either change its foreign agenda, or implement any sound economic measures at home…Russia is bound to a slow, but painful decline which may stretch to at least 2024.
    .
    “Since annexing Crimea, Russia has embarked on a downhill journey, both domestically and internationally which is clearly threatening its sustainability, capacity for economic growth, and peaceful development.”
    .
    Contradicting other analysts, the author says Putin has no coherent strategy. He examines four of the most common claims to the contrary.
    .
    http://intersectionproject.eu/article/politics/why-do-we-still-believe-putins-strategy

    • From author Vladislav Inozemtsev
      .
      Economy of disillusionment vs. economy of hope
      .
      The author writes that even the most pessimistic assessments regarding Russia’s economic prospects may not go far enough, thanks to destruction of the pool of trust built in the early 2000s. Inozemtsev sees “the years 2014 and 2015 as a prelude to a large and lengthy fall caused by blatant disillusionment and the complete destruction of hope.
      .
      “…When people stop spending money and stop borrowing, when entrepreneurs are ready to close their businesses, when partners leave projects without looking back, when investors ‘cash out of’ the stock market, it may serve as evidence that while Russia might not have been written off altogether but no one is willing to wager high stakes on it either.” People are losing belief in Russia’s prospects for a better future, as evidenced by the actions of the business community and ordinary citizens alike.
      .
      “The economy of hope has been supplanted by the economy of disillusionment. This is not short-term trend…EVEN IF THE WARS CEASE AND SANCTIONS ARE LIFTED, INVESTORS WILL NOT RETURN TO RUSSIA. This is because Russia has given precedence to politics over the economy, geopolitical ambitions over sustainable development, the wealth of the state and convenience of officials over the well-being of the population, and their economic freedoms. This was a conscious decision made by the authorities which could not have been possible had it not been supported by the majority of society that favors the search for an enemy over the establishment of partnerships. The prospect of a win-win game is a thing of science fiction.”
      .
      Inozemtsev says Russians shouldn’t count on a return to stuggish growth, let alone a quick rebound even if sanctions were to end and oil prices to climb. “History abounds with examples of protracted economic downturns triggered by political reasons: recall Argentina of the 1930’s-1970’s or Venezuela of the 2000’s-2010’s. It seems to me that nothing will prevent today’s Russia from following a path to protracted decline of 3-5% a year in the nearest future, while GDP per capita as well as real income of the population in the country by the early 2020s will be far lower than those of 2008…”
      .
      http://intersectionproject.eu/article/economy/economy-disillusionment-vs-economy-hope

      • The author writes that even the most pessimistic assessments regarding Russia’s economic prospects may not go far enough

        Again the fact you refuse to discuss the topic and are obsessing about something as irrelevant as Russia’s economy is further evidence of Russia’s success in Syria in thwarting your delusions of regime change. :)

    • HUMAN SHIELDS PREPARATIONS
      .
      ISIS moving prisoners to Syria border town: monitor
      .

      The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that prisoners were set to work digging trenches around Jarabulus. Ah, what inflexible Obama enabled with his missed opportunities early on, his “reset” illusions and his dogmatic insistence that a “Stitch in Time never saved nine..” The other characteristic of Obama’s approach is borrowed from the legend of Robert Bruce: “If a square peg refuses to fit in a round hole, try, try again.”
      .
      Sometimes early action can prevent a much bigger catastrophe as when FDR ignored Obama-Sanders style American Firsters and insisted on lend lease help to the Brits and Russia in 1939-1941 even though we were not at war. The naïve, shortsighted souls screamed but FDR did the right thing or the Axis might have won.
      .
      Where Obama was raised on Noam Chomsky, Juan Cole and the Nation, Bernie was raised to concentrate exclusively on economic matters (where he tends to be sharp) but seems disinterested in other issues, be it women’s rights (“a distraction”), minority concerns or foreign policy. In the latter area, he seems downright naïve.
      .

      https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/NewsReports/566808-isis-moving-prisoners-to-syria-border-monitor
      .

    • The article begins by looking at how Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine

      There was no invasion, which the OSCE has verified. The costs have been negligible and the security gains have been enormous.

      Contradicting other analysts, the author says Putin has no coherent strategy. He examines four of the most common claims to the contrary.##

      An extraordinary claim considering that Putin has outsmarted the West in every avenue.

    • I think it’s safe to say that IF the rebels win this civil war the Turks will be involved in the economic re-construction of the country BIG time. Syrians on their own won’t be able to re-build the city, that said compare Erdogan treatment of the rebels with the MOC and you’ll notice how benign Turks have been towards the rebels.

      • That’s obvious. After the failed Darʿā offensive their role appears to have been reduced to a buffer for Jordan. Their size is, what, 20 000 – 30 000 troops? If I had only their activity to go by I’d say it was 10 times less.

  2. The full agreement of ceasefire (translated I cease ,you fire), implied in a big picture:
    -a)end of hostile actions (except ISIS and J.N.)
    -b)aid to critical affected opposition zone
    -c)Assad’s political prisoners to be released
    -d)political transition
    ———–
    Regime breaks daily a) .
    About b) there are some reports of progress with many denials from orgs that announce the regime denying access or civilians accusing the theft of aid.
    c) it is probably solved 0.1 %
    d) discussions again delayed : here are two problems
    -fate of Assad(as president) and what kind of new governments : national unity or transitional?
    In THIS d) related to government , it stays the fate of Syria.
    ————
    Maybe once I will explain the huge difference between Geneva( 1 +2) and Wien when talking about new Syrian government.

    • National unity or transitional government in Syria? (Al-Hayat,London,Originally in Arabic after Wien)
      —————————————
      Iran is trying to implement a new agenda in Syria by pushing for a four-point plan: an immediate ceasefire, the establishment of a national unity government, the anchoring of minority rights in the constitution, and internationally supervised presidential elections in Syria.

      At first, these all seem like reasonable solutions. However, a closer look at the politics behind the plan reveals Teheran’s hidden motives in pursuing this agenda.
      In 2012, the United Nations and the Arab League adopted the six-point peace plan for Syria, which was then ratified in the 2014 Geneva II Conference. The Plan called for the resignation of Bashar al-Assad; to which Teheran and Moscow were opposed from the very beginning.
      By promoting a plan of its own – supported by Russia – Teheran is now staging a coup against the Geneva framework. It is trying to use a ceasefire in order to give an official status to the militias it has built in Syria. It is ignoring the need for a transitional government by calling for large and dysfunctional unity government.
      It is seeking to anchor sectarian tensions in the constitution, similarly to the Taif Agreement in Lebanon, which pledged to abolish political sectarianism but, in reality, made it thrive.
      Above all, Iran seeks to position itself as a key player in Syria, and is not willing to decline its power to the United Nations and the Arab League. It is playing a dangerous game, because it successfully cons the West.
      The leaders in Tehran talk about a diplomatic solution in Syria, while deploying more and more Revolutionary Guard militias, supported by Hezbollah, to fight alongside Assad. It uses noble rhetoric to deceive the international community, and hides behind a cloak of diplomacy to increase its military involvement in the region.
      ———————————–
      and the regime rejected the transitional government 2 days ago.

  3. Interesting: JaI uses drones to drop leaflets over Damascus
    .
    https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/NewsReports/566810-rebels-drop-leaflets-over-syrian-capital-from-drones
    .
    As far I’m concern the rebels should be doing this in every province (e.g. Aleppo/Latakia/Hama/Deraa – in fact they should do it in Afrin province to highlight to the Kurds there how treacherous the YPG are) just to show the remaining pro-Assad Sunnis that they/rebels are there and still contesting Assad vigorously.

  4. Following K9 and Tundra’s post i would really like to bring up for one last time the Southern Front issue. I really never understood its role (well in theory its easy). As we see in the north, Turkey has defacto created the first safe zone in the north, weapons are beeing smuggled in huge quantites and the area is protected by turkish artillery and US planes (with a big hello to the russians and Assad). The southern front on the other hand is armed 5 times more has huge manpower and direct support from the US and Jordan. Despite all of this, militarily it has been one of the biggest jokes ever, even when supported and not held back by its allies, its progress was slow or insignificant. I continue to point out the Southern front because many don’t understand or know the firepower they can dispose of. Its big, very big. My conclusion follows Tundra’s one but i wouldent say after the Dara’s offensive they became a buffer force. I think the Southern front has had that role from the very start, just to act as a buffer to Jordan and protect it mostly from ISIS then Assad. Jordan is one of the closes US allies but at the same time has a very dangerous islamic radicalism hidden in it and ISIS infiltrations could pose huge problems in the kingdom. So i think its correct in calling them a passive group acting merely to defend Jordan’s border.

    • From what I’ve read during the offensive on Darʿā ammo and weaponry was provided in abundance. The MOC told them to choke off the regime’s supply line leading into the city, but when they ignored them and went for the city itself the MOC played along. It’s evident they had every intention of letting them seize the city and establish a power base in the South.
      .
      I have no doubt that even if they took the city their handlers would keep a tight leash. Significantly tighter than Turkey has, anyway. But had they at least established themselves a good position in the South, they might have possessed greater degree of independence and potentially confidence from foreign powers, like JaI. Threatening Assad’s Damascene core would be out of the question, however.
      .
      The present day Southern Front is pitiable. They can barely hold off IS-aligned groups with the added assistance of Nuṣra, Ahrār, and others. Historically serving as a buffer for foreign powers is often mutually beneficial, like the Ghassanids and the privileges bestowed by the Eastern Roman Emperor. SF on the other hand is being blackmailed with critical life support.

      • The Southern Front were also seen as a counter to the more Islamic groups in the North and Ghouta. They could boast of only a minimal extremist element with Nusra have about 10% of the fighting force. The west were hoping that the Southern Front could pose a challenge to Damascus as they are seen as a more favorable force that the west could get behind.

        When JaF really took off and took Idlib province, reality set in that the idea of a secular overthrow was not possible. To the west major support of the Southern Front may have turned Syria into a warlord like zone with all the various group commanders acting as warlords after the fall of Assad.

        Just putting my best guess at it as I don’t really know either. I do agree that a buffer against the extremist Islamic elements was a major reason for Israel and Jordan having the Southern Front in place.

        My last note is that the West may be hoping to wait it out for a while with the Southern Front. The regime are still too strong for the Southern Front to make significant gains against it. Letting the Southern Front wait it out as supplies continue to reach them may be what the west have in mind. If the regime could be weakened elsewhere then a well trained rebel army in the South could have a significant effect. I don’t think we’ve seen the end of the Southern Front though.

        • I think one of the important questions we need to ask is why the MOC keeps the Southern Front rebels on such a tight leash, incompetence is one factor but I think the bigger issue is trust or more pertinently put Jordanian mistrust of the Syrian revolutionaries in general. I think the Jordanians are only willing to allow the Southern Front rebels to be nothing more then border guards and not as an organisation that can evolve enough that it could become independent of Jordanian control. This approach has the potential of bringing its own problem (e.g. note the farcical ease Daeesh captured areas of Deraa) that can easily get out of hand. For the life of me I can’t see why the Jordanians aren’t providing the same level of support to the Southern Front rebels like the Turks are doing in the north. Surely if the Jordanian don’t trust the Southern Front rebels enough then maybe they should imitate the Turks (e.g. Turkmen factions amongst the rebels) and create their own FSA led by someone from Tlass family for instance?

    • s we see in the north, Turkey has defacto created the first safe zone in the north, weapons are beeing smuggled in huge quantites and the area is protected by turkish artillery and US planes (with a big hello to the russians and Assad)

      That would only be taking place as a consequence of an agreement between Putin and Kerry, so a big hello tight back at you. It will be a temporary arrangement at best. Russia has stated that Syria will remain undivided and as we have seen, Putin has a habit of getting pretty much everything he wants. :)

  5. ITEM: Trump says he’d allow ‘rich Muslims’ to enter U.S.
    .
    http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-says-hed-allow-rich-muslims-to-enter-us/ar-BBrbWpG?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=ASUDHP
    .
    EXCERPT:
    .
    During Donald Trump’s Wisconsin town hall Wednesday — where he said women should face ‘punishment’ for illegal abortions — the Republican front-runner revealed another interesting tidbit: His proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the country, the cause of much controversy, would not apply to Trump’s wealthy Muslim friends.
    .
    “I have a lot of friends that are Muslim and they call me,” Trump told MSNBC during the event. “.
    In most cases, they’re very rich Muslims, OK?”
    .
    OK, Donald. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews then asked Trump whether his very rich Muslim friends would be allowed to enter the U.S. during President Trump’s Muslim ban.
    .
    “They’ll come in,” Trump said. “And you’ll have exceptions.”
    .
    So a rich guy, should he become president, would make exceptions to the law for other rich folks who are his friends. All right, then.
    .
    CHRIS MATTHEWS EXPOSED TRUMP’S IGNORANCE JUST AS AS KATIE COURIC UNMASKED SARAH PALIN

    Starting with the insane “Whose got a better trophy wife?” issue, Trump has had a really bad week. Chris Matthews exposed the guy on three issues: punishing women, nukes to Japan and the Arabs, and special exceptions to immigration.

    Showing remarkable ignorance in foreign affairs, Trump seems unaware that Bin Laden himself came from one of the richest families on the Gulf and that much financing of Al Queda came privately from rich Gulf sheiks. In the same vein he swallows every Moscow Times denial of so many Putin crimes. Apparently Bellingcat’s evidence was all feigned. According to Trump, there is no proof that Russian-backed forces invaded the Ukraine and shot down a Dutch airliner. or that Putin killed an ex-KBG man in London using exotic means. The murder of 55 journalists critical of Putin was merely “a coincidence.” Should Hillary win the Democratic nomination, she needs to draw strong attention to the Trump-Putin Mutual Admiration Society. If she does you can add Ukrainian-Americans, Polish Americans, Croatian-Americans, etc. to the list of those Trump has offended. That could be helpful in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Michigan.
    .
    If the GOP nominates Trump his pro-Putin leanings will likely alarm a substantial number of GOP voters and independents who view Putin as “a threat not to be taken lightly” rather than “a reasonable gentlemen with whom we can work.” Those who favor Reagan/Truman-like firmness as the way to go will have three choices in November:
    .
    1. Vote for Trump anyway.
    2. Vote for Hillary (the only major candidate known to be wary of Putin).
    3. Boycott the polls and stay home.

    Along those lines, I recommend the outstanding film “Game Change” (great cast and script) in which we see how John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate gradually undid his campaign as the extent of her ignorance became apparent to GOP insiders even before Couric exposed Palin publicly.
    .

    .

  6. Obama’s Nuke Deal Left a Massive, Scary and Dangerous Hole
    .
    The deal should have blocked development of a missile system capable of delivering nuclear bombs to Europe and the USA. Current Iranian plans call for testing such missiles by launching satellites into space.
    .
    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/04/01/real-meaning-iranian-supreme-leader-khameneis-missile-warning.html
    .
    The Second Coming of Neville Chamberlain Proposes a New, Irreversible Financial Giveaway to Iran. It has members of both parties in Congress upset and would make imposing effective sanctions near impossible should Iran misbehavior further down the road. Since the nuke treaty was signed, Khamenei’s rhetoric and Iran’s actions have become more aggressive than ever–the opposite of what the White House ASSURED us would happen.
    .
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/04/01/backlash-over-iran-concessions-has-congress-had-enough/

  7. It is looking like the truce is pretty much officially over. Rebels launch a large offensive in Southern Aleppo and have already taken over Army Fueling Station in Al-Eis. This offensive appears too large to be Nusra alone. Multiple sources confirmed all rebel factions in area are involved.

    Mark ‏@markito0171

    #Syria #Aleppo JN & allied took Army Fuelling Base in al Eis
    http://wikimapia.org/#lang=de&lat=36.001323&lon=36.983521&z=16&m=b

    Abu Ruwal, al-Khaldiya, al-Mahrooqat, & outskirts of #TelEis are liberated:

    • Some reports are saying the Tel Eis has fallen. This has to be about the most important position the regime took in the South Aleppo offensive.

      • Yes al nusra fully engaged against the regime in tel Eis. From the videos you can see all the fire power al nusra has. In the past the tried to regain it and failed mainly because of russian air support. No russian planes in the air this time and it falls. But i would wait for more confirmations to declare the fall of it.

  8. South Aleppo offensive is not fixed on Tal Eis only. Tal Eis is almost encircled.It`s a wide offensive attack. Zaytan, Barnah, Khan Tuman are all under attack. Abu Ruwayl has been captured. (South East of Al-Hader) Jabhat Ansar Al-Islam and Liwa Al-Haq are bombing Barnah constantly. The village is on fire. Ahrar Al-Sham – Tal Arba’een, Abu Ruwayl,– Nusra – Al-Eis, Zaytan, –Ajnad Al-Sham – Zaytan,–
    Liwa Al-Haq & Jabhat Ansar – Barnah.–
    https://twitter.com/AbuKhaledSham

  9. I don’t consider J.N. in Syria as being A.Q. Even the infighting between Div13 and J.N. it looks a provocation to trigger a general reaction against J.N. Is Turkey policy?!
    ———-
    But I don’t understand the purpose of the attack in the general picture. Because the car bombs were of J.N. , but in the fight against the Iranian militias are more rebel forces …..
    Is J.N. wanting to show that they really fight against Assad? If J.N. does not have external command ,,, how about the others? Did J.N. alone get so many fighters and weapons (munition) to begin offensive?
    The regime will say that its campaign against ISIS is perturbed by the opening of new other fronts.
    It is a message of Turkey (green light) to other rebels because of Assad’s regime behavior at discussions?

    Ideas? Because attacking the Iranian militias it looks as a mistake for me …… except if you say it that not doing it now …. it will let the rebels alone against a full regime + militias later….
    Is it so?

  10. Russian FM Lawrov dismissed as “dirty leaks” reports on an alleged agreement between Russia and the US about the transition of Assad. “And in these dirty leaks which distort reality we obviously see Washington’s inability to force some of its allies in the region and in Europe …” he said.

    http://www.dailystar.com.lb//News/Middle-East/2016/Apr-01/345174-russia-says-reports-on-us-russian-deal-on-assads-fate-are-dirty-leaks.ashx#.Vv6YMDTv4qk.twitter

    The only one who distorts reality including dirty talks is Lawrov. Hundred thousands of killed Syrians and Millions of fled Syrians have already voted against Assad. The United Nations, Europe and USA have understood that matter of fact claiming a transition.No dirty talks of Lawrov necessary to distort from the matter of facts established by the United Nations.

    • The full text of the UN resolution 2254 (2015) reads as follows: (agreed by russia) “Reiterating that the only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people, with a view to full implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 as endorsed by resolution 2118 (2013), including through the establishment
      of an inclusive transitional governing body with full executive powers, which shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent while ensuring continuity of governmental institutions.
      =======================================================
      Mr. Lawrov – your dirty talks nobody needs but action – where is your work to support a transition?

      • Somewhat contradictory. Transitional government while maintaining continuity of government institutions? Russia will interpret that as maintaining SAA and Shabiha and NDF, and the state media, them being controlled by Assad, while a transitional government is formed that has little authority, and out of exasperation conducts hasty elections. So Assad can rig the elections in his territory and Nusra will rig it in their territory, and nothing is essentially achieved. The war will continue and each side will claim legitimacy, with the transitional government becoming a lame duck like the Lybian transitional government.

        They should stop jerking around, and just partition the damned country, like big boys. Europe was often composed of dozens of small states who would combine or recombine as necessary. Syria will always remain a poor, overpopulated, resourceless, and backward country. Nothing better can be expected from Arabs and their religion. At least with small states they have a better chance to have good government and social and economic stability.

        • They should stop jerking around, and just partition the damned country, like big boys

          An idiotic idea pushed by those with no clue about Syria. Both the Assad regime and opposition have roundly rejected this proposal and for very good reason. Partition would end up being along sectarian lines, which will lead to some sectarian groups benefitting from oil wealth and food abundance while others will go without and become impoverished.

          Syria will always remain a poor, overpopulated, resourceless, and backward country.

          Syria had the fasted growing economy until this mess began and was certainly not poor and overpopulated.

          • derAngedis, you are living in a parallel universe. The reason Syria blew up was because of very high unemployment and a recession and droughts, etc. “Highest GDP growth”? You are smoking something strong. Syria exports almost nothing. And has very few resources. Its oil industry had declined from 500,000 barrels a day to 375,000 a day, and exports dropped from 350,000 a day to about 100,000, over the years. It had no comparative advantages, maybe just in olives.

            So what partitioning is along sectarian lines. That is the whole idea, doh. Already half of Syria’s oil wells are in Roĵava, and the Kurds are keeping that. And gas is so cheap internationally that it is probably cheaper to import it than to try to mine it.

            Obviously your understanding of how a country and an economy is built is no better than the average street.

            Russia just needs a base, and Iran just needs access to Hezbollah. Neither need eastern Syria with all the “terrorists” there (your words).

            If you think Syria has any significant oil or gas, then obviously you are going to the wrong conspiracy websites. Nobody has said that.

            In any case, Assad is history. He had his chance to take Aleppo and Idlib when the Russians had not run out of money. Time for you to jump ship. Do you like the SSNP? Or how about the TKHP (sp? the Turkish Alawites)?

  11. [And beyond]
    .
    Ash-Shabāb offers Somalis security, stability in exchange for Shari’a law.
    .
    A very common trope with jihadist groups.
    .
    Unlike other parts of war-torn Somalia, peace reigns here, albeit precariously, under the al Qaeda-allied militants’ fundamentalist interpretation — and enforcement — of Islamic law.
    .
    Armed rebels in camouflage patrol and deliver sermons on thoroughfares full of businesses and shoppers. Chants of “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) fill the air. Open-air markets are booming. Trading stops only for daily prayers conducted by al-Shabab leaders.
    .
    As a result, many people in Barawe support the militants.
    .
    “We feel peace when we are under al-Shabab,” said Munira Mohammed, a mother of five who owns a butcher shop in Barawe. “They do patrols to ensure we are safe. They respect our businesses and our lives. So we are feeling good, and we want to tell foreign soldiers to let us keep this kind of life.”

    • Except that the level of corruption is phenomenal. The small shopkeepers (an essential constituent of Islam) are secure and safe. But any government that would encompass farmers and tradesmen, nomads, resource industries, etc. will be mired up to the eyeballs in corruption, thus injecting instability into the social fabric. What the shopkeeper is saying is that relative to the anarchistic past, there seems to be some modicum of stability and centrality to the new order. But nothing to crow home about.

      • Exactly. In choosing between basic order and basic liberty, people will always opt for the former. Jihadist governance can and does have appeal in an otherwise chaotic environment. A major reason why instability is important for them, other than providing breathing space.

        • well put! ,nice. basic order and basic rights …. liberty . very correct to chose the second!
          It is why the people from Palmyra do not return

      • “Tel Eis is taken – except the hill.”
        “Tal” in Arabic means hill. The village of Al ‘Eiss (العيس ) is taken, but its hill Tal ‘Eiss (تل عيس) is not.

      • Except this time it’s not just Nusra. Lot’s of rebel factions involved. Questionable on whether the rebel offensive can be considered successful. Need more information as it appears the territorial gains are limited. But the regime had to expect that Southern Aleppo was the most probable site for the rebels to attack.

        • It’s a tough life having an American flag on your back while having Al-Qa’ida as your neighbor.
          Their rhetoric about coming back in a week to “rid Idlib of Al-Qa’ida’s” dogs certainly isn’t helping their case either.

          • I agree 100% but the fact they are lamenting to not be able to contribute more what does it mean? They would like but they can’t cuz someone told them not to (remember its not a Nusra only operation) or they don’t want to help Nusra directly?

            • Isn’t their leadership still in some Turkish hotel? I figured that until the issue is settled in a Shari’a court, equipment returned, et cetera, the 13th division will remain out of order. I don’t think anyone forbade them from participating or that they themselves refused due to JaN’s presence. The latter would exclude them from most operations.

          • I am not sure Tundra. I remember they were for sure kicked out from idlib area but were even present in fatah halab joint operation room in aleppo (starting 2015). I think units are still in action around aleppo area. But i understood your point too. Could be they are incapitated to act due to the events you pointed out.

            • The exclusion would have a precedent – JaI was excluded from Jaysh al-Fatah’s Idlib offensive by JaN and JaA on the pretext that they didn’t offer enough manpower and equipment. Whether this is the case here I can’t say, but incapacity seems more plausible..

  12. “With the partial cessation of hostilities across Syria offering some security from aerial attacks, the demonstrations — offering echoes of the start of the uprising in 2011 — have been renewed in many areas of the country.”

    Do not be surprised if Assad/Putin bomb people demonstrating against Nusra and other jihadists. Nusra and the jihadists exist for the benefit of Assad. As long as Nusra goes on imposing terror on Syrians, and ISIS combats moderate Syrians, then Assad will be safe. If Assad could assist Nusra and ISIS, he would do that. Nusra has not been able to take one inch of Assad territory in the past 6 months. In fact it has given up a lot of territory to Assad in the Aleppo areas, and northern Latakia.

  13. Update:
    .
    #Observation: “The regime was planning to launch attack on the front,but JN and others pre-empted it” – VivaRevolt
    .
    Rebels finally smartening up strategy wise, it was inevitable that regime would attack rebels soon after Palmyra fell but rebels were wise enough to attack regime/SAA before it could be prepared to do so. Here’s to hope that rebels do something similar in Hama province also.
    .
    #Aleppo: Haha! “A number of regime army members, including a brigadier-general, have reportedly been captured near Khan Touman.” – Abduhark
    .
    :) No doubt lots of fighters can be freed from the dungeons of Assad because of this.

    • Yep, this is the explanation to my rhetorical question of “why opposition’s attacks of today in Aleppo?”. Answer is “preemptive attacks ” to regime’s interest to cut the only supply line alive from Turkey (via Idlib).
      With such menace, all the discussions about how bad is J.N. in Syria ended and the rebels “ALL” attacked the regime in Aleppo.

      ZamanAlwslEng
      ‏@ZamanEnglish

      Regime forces prepare for major offensive in Hama and Idlib: source SYRIA NEWS | ZAMAN ALWSL –

      • Something as : you want to cut Idlib line, ok, we open the old one from Aleppo to Nabel and Zahra.
        The Kurds knew well about the next offensive ,because it was a full discussion today about how Turkey keeps open ISIS supply line in Jarablus.
        And from the same source , Furiouskurd ‏@Furiouskurd 9h, an interesting photo with a Turkish soldier
        and a Peshmerga fighter in Kobane??!!
        a) I suppose it is a photo from Iraq b) if it is real , Peshmerga arrived to make some order there….

      • About, Signs of Withdrawal of Saudi Finance from Lebanon !! Extremely correct!
        The gulf money regarding “media” clearly are withdrawing right now.
        Yesterday the office of me. newspaper from Beirut,Al Sioufi area was stormed by unknown mercenaries.
        General opinion ,the men of Hezbollah, the newspaper being KSA funded too.

  14. And a lot of interesting “comedy” news for today 2.04.
    Trailer1 :Sergei Lavrov dismisses reports of alleged agreement between Russia &US on Assad’s future as ‘dirty leaks’……. but the source of leaks looks to be Syrian’s regime delegation …lol
    Trailer2:Exclusive: U.S. weighs ramping up deployment of special forces to Syria…. lol again.
    ———
    About Assad departure ,some news did not appear on twitter or blogs …
    At the beginning of the week ,France F.M. visited Algeria (2 days). Here in Morocco,we look carefully at what is doing Algeria in Arab League,at what kind of tanks and planes buys from Russia (we have other providers) or what Polisario Front is doing (in the same Algeria,near our border)…. And suddenly Whalid Moualem appeared suddenly in Algier. He forced a meeting with France FM. Algeria had nice words about the latest regime win in Tadmur.
    The result : French F.M. said that regime’s and Assad’s victory against ISIS in Syria does not absolve him about what he has done from 2011 till now. And the French F.M. refused the meeting with Moualem. Assad’s fate is clear. Who comes after him? Maher?

    • The result : French F.M. said that regime’s and Assad’s victory against ISIS in Syria does not absolve him about what he has done from 2011 till now. And the French F.M. refused the meeting with Moualem. Assad’s fate is clear. Who comes after him? Maher?

      Oh please, who apart from a handful here, listen to what the French have to say? They’re about as relevant as a sried up pot plant in the corner of the room that everyone keeps forgetting to water.

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