Syria Daily: France to Push for UN Resolution for Aleppo Ceasefire and Aid

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PHOTO: White Helmets rescuers search for victims of Russian-regime bombing of opposition area of Aleppo city (Thaer Mohammed/AFP)


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UPDATE 1745 GMT: UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has warned against Russian-regime devastation of Aleppo, while calling on jihadists to leave opposition areas.

De Mistura said history would judge the Assad regime and Russia if they used the presence of rebels as an “easy alibi” to level the area: “The bottom line is in a maximum of two months, two and a half months, the city of eastern Aleppo at this rate may be totally destroyed.”

At the same time, the envoy implicitly supported the Russian-regime line focusing on jihadists in the districts, referring to “about 900 former Nusra Front fighters” among 275,000 residents, 100,000 of them children.

Both Damascus and Moscow portray the situation in east Aleppo as one where the jihadists of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, control the neighborhoods. Russia has long demanded the “separation” of rebels from JFS?Nusra as a precondition for advance towards political resolution.

De Mistura addressed the former JFS/Nusra personnel: “If you did decide to leave, in dignity with your weapons, to Idlib or anywhere you wanted to go, I personally am ready, physically ready, to accompany you. I can’t guarantee more than my own personality and body.”

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov quickly seized on De Mistura’s statement: “It’s high time.”


ORIGINAL ENTRY: France is launching a new initiative for a UN resolution mandating aid into Syria’s largest city Aleppo, amid intense Russian-regime bombing that has killed at least 500 civilians in the past two weeks.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will travel to Russia and the US on Thursday and Friday to try to persuade both sides to adopt the resolution.

Ayrault said last week of any state which does not accept such a resolution: “If you’re complicit in war crimes then one day you will be held accountable, including legally. I think with the Russians you have to speak the truth and not try to please them.”

The former Prime Minister said he would also ask Washington to be “more efficient and engaged” and not step back just because of November’s Presidential elections.

Despite Washington’s declaration earlier this week that it is limiting co-operation with Russia because of the bombing, US Secretary John Kerry spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday about topics which included Syria.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, “It would be irresponsible for us, given what’s happening in Aleppo, not to touch base with Foreign Minister Lavrov periodically.”

“Russians Have Opposed Every Single Dot of Resolution”

Despite the ongoing contacts, It appears doubtful that the French effort will have any success overcoming Russian opposition.

The Security Council began negotiations on Monday on the draft, prepared by France and Spain, which also includes a demand “put an end to all military flights over the city”.

Russia and the Assad regime rejected Kerry’s call for a suspension two weeks ago — days after they attacked a UN aid convoy and renewed attacks on Aleppo city.

The draft also asks UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to propose options for U.N.-supervised monitoring of a truce and threatens to “take further measures” in the event of non-compliance by “any party to the Syrian domestic conflict”.

Moscow’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Monday that he was engaged in discussions about the draft text even if he was not especially enthusiastic about its language. However, a “senior Security Council diplomat” said: “In the experts’ negotiations they (Russia) have opposed every single dot and comma of the resolution.”

French officials said that they will table the draft resolution even if Russia opposes it, forcing a Russian veto which would demonstrate its complicity with the Assad regime.

“It’s all that’s left,” said a French diplomatic source. “We’re not fools. The Russians aren’t going to begin respecting human rights from one day to the next, but it’s all we have to put pressure on them.”

Syrian Military: Leave East Aleppo or Face “Inevitable Fate”

The regime military appeared to make a concession early Wednesday with a statement that it was reducing airstrikes and shelling of opposition areas of Aleppo to ease the humanitarian situation and allow people to leave.

However, later in the day, the Syrian army toughened the line with the assurance that anyone who remained would face an “inevitable fate”.

The army said it had cut off supply lines and had accurate information about the location of rebel positions and arms stores.


Regime Helicopters Knock Out Another Hospital, Kill Doctor and Nurse

Regime helicopters have knocked another hospital out of service, this time in southern Syria.

A doctor and a nurse were killed in al-Hameh, west of Damascus, when the hospital was barrel-bombed.

Pro-Assad forces have been stepping up attacks on the towns of al-Hameh and Qudsaya in an attempt to force surrenders by residents.


Islamic State Kills At Least 25 in Bombing on Turkish Border

The Islamic State has killed at least 25 people and wounded dozens at a crossing on the Turkish border and west of ALeppo.

Most of the casualties at the Atmeh crossing were Syrian rebels, primarily from the Faylaq al-Sham faction.

Faylaq al-Sham’s security officials said a suicide bomber posed as a civilian wanting to use the crossing.

ISIS took responsibility in an online statement.

Claimed image of the casualties:

atmeh-casualties-10-16

Video has also been posted of the dead.


Violations Documentation Center Reports 1,161 Deaths of Civilians in September

The Violations Documentation Center, a leading organization in the documentation of deaths in Syria’s conflict, reports that it confirmed 1,559 fatalities in September, of which 1,161 were civilians.

Of the deaths, almost half — 732 — were in Aleppo Province. There were 257 casualties in Idlib Province and 141 in Daraa Province in southern Syria.

Among the dead were 266 children and 125 women.

The VDC also tracked 111 breaches of the ceasefire, arranged by the US and Russia, from 12 to 19 September. All but two were by pro-Assad forces — 96 by the Syrian and Russia militaries and 13 by Hezbollah.

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93 COMMENTS

  1. I foresee this French ‘initiative’ being about as successful as the previous one trumpeted to resolve the Israel/Palestine conflict … i.e. after lumbering three steps down the runway like a self-important dodo, Hollande will crash on his beak again.
    .
    Meanwhile, Le Pen is sharpening her axe to chop and roast this turkey:
    https://www.rt.com/news/361716-eu-responsible-chaos-syria/
    .
    Well basted with some onions, lemons and garlic stuffed in his arse, he will be vastly improved and France relieved of a ghastly burden …

    • i want to ask you a question, seriously. And i am curious in two ways. Since nobody managed to answer me before and i wanna know a pro regime opinion. Turk backed rebels force, the one going for al bab. Once its done with daesh. It goes east or west?

      • Going for does not necessarily mean they will ever reach it, however, assuming they do, their natural instinct would be to strike West into East Aleppo. Whether they would be permitted to do so by their Turkish wranglers cannot be excluded but I think it improbable unless Tayyip decides he can afford to explode his understanding with Putin. In any case it looks to me like a strategic mistake by SAA to leave Al Bab out there up for grabs — they should have already taken it [and still should] both to scotch Kurdish ambitions and finally seal off the Turkish ability to resupply IS.

        • I think, like i said yesterday, that it will be West. I would love to see the opposite but i think Manbij is a more realistic target. Anyways this force will have a huge importance for what will be next in N Syria, regardless of the direction it will take.

          • I think you mean East, towards the more realistic target of Manbij, no?
            .
            Still, I wouldn’t presume they will ever capture Al Bab … Yankis have already started bombing Tayyip’s Pets “by mistake” and Russia et al may also have a contrary opinion on the matter if he tries to snatch more than his share of the quid pro quo, whatever that may be.
            .
            Certainly they will make a hugely important target for the Kurds to exercise on in any case.

          • Russian airstrike reported in Majbal, north of Aleppo city, as pro-regime forces attempted to storm the area. Its going to be interesting when Erdogan & rebels will reach the terrotory south of Al Bab.

    • That’s a given. It’s like seeing a forest fire and deciding the best course of action is to take a glass of water and pour it over a burning bush. Of course, that’s exactly why they’re doing it.

      • Yeah but at least they can console themselves that they tried to put out the fire.
        .
        At this point the only relevant question is whether anyone is willing to provide fire extinguishers; by which I mean anti-air weapons. So far, the US has vetoed that. I don’t think that policy will change under Obama, but if Clinton wants to put manners on the Russians, it will be the first proposal across her foreign policy desk.

        • I always had major doubt about the assumption – seen on both sides – that Clinton would see Assad thrown off his throne. Sure, she’s a hawk, and that would be a nice way to take it out on the Russians, but it’s Iran that’s the problem, and the ~100 000 Iraqi militiamen under its influence that it more-or-less promised to sic on US forces in Iraq in case the US went down the road of regime change. Not to mention the Iran deal.
          ­
          If MANPADs are provided, I expect it to be a scant provision designed as a warning to Assad and his backers than anything that might change the situation drastically. I could be wrong, of course, but I don’t think rebels should look to foreign powers to hand them a victory.

        • The rebels already have manpads (AA weapons). There have been a ton of videos and posts on the web. What they don’t have are the large systems that can affect the russians who fly thier plans at an altitude greater than what Manpads can handle.

          • I know, but I figured they were prohibited from using them. We saw IIRC 3 air-craft downed with them in the span of a month earlier this year and *poof*. Gone. Not one used since.

            • agreed, there were a series of shoot downs in a short period of time, then gone. If the US isnt going to do shit, it should at least be arming the rebels so that they can defend themselves. To be clear, more than what has been given already.

    • The problem of western resolutions is that they are only propose peace plan when the syrian governement wins:

      When rebels appear to have the upper hand they do nothing and wait to see if they can win.But when can the governement is clearly winning, the situation right now, they rush like mad men and cry.

      • But when can the governement is clearly winning, the situation right now, they rush like mad men and cry.

        And wail about civilian casualties and talk endlessly about barrel bombs etc etc. And when they get caught lying, or stabbing the Russians in the back, they throw their toys out of the pram and throw a tantrum.

  2. I was declaimed in the past for being an incendiary when I suggested this but now what with the horrific siege of eastern Aleppo I seriously do think now is the time for rebels to seriously consider create small tactical groups to carry out operations in Bekkaa valley, rebels don’t even have to carry out a successful offensive against rather they should infiltrate it and start snuffing out senior Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon like they do with SAA officers in Damascus. Furthermore the Israelis would probably even help them with the intell gathering side. The rebels can also perhaps start doing the same in Baghdad also against the Hashd militia leaders there. And if the rebels don’t want to consider carrying such operations then they should consider recruiting and training Lebanese and Iraqi Sunnis so they can do it themselves. Now is the time to give Hezbollah and the Hashd militias a taste of their own medicine. The longer and more horrific this conflict becomes the more sympathetic I’m beginning to feel towards RedT’s position.Finally those living in the west should now be actively lobbying their elected officials to put even more onerous sanctions on Russia and the first on the list should be the complete surveillance (of their monetary transactions and customers) and blacklisting of Russia’s Sberbank, as far as I’m concerned that bank should be treated and designated as terrorism financing organisation as the IRGC is.

    • With all due respects K9, you sound like you’re becoming radicalized. If you were so concerned with death and destruction, you would be calling for an end to the fighting, for rebels to surrender, as Assad has called on them to do.

      Instead, you want to set the whole region on fire and expand the war into Lebanon and wreak more hell on Baghdad, where this whole mess started, thanks to the US attack and invasion.

      How is this strategy going to put and end to the war, along with the death and destruction? You simply regard this as some board game that you want to win at all costs, and if you can’t win, then destroy everything so that no one can.

  3. Remember that Scott Lucas claimed that there was no evidence that the opposition had used chemical weapons? Amnesty thinks otherwise and that the “Fatah Halab” (Victory Aleppo) coalition used chlorine gas.
    https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/syria-armed-opposition-group-committing-war-crimes-aleppo-new-evidence
    “A toxicologist consulted by Amnesty, who viewed video clips of the apparent attack (by Fatah Halab) and reviewed the doctor’s testimony, said the patients’ symptoms could be the effects of a chlorine attack.”

    • You’ll notice that word “could”. As in “possible”.

      And I am sure you’ll notice that no other evidence ever surfaced of the supposed chlorine attack.

      • You said there was no “evidence” at all. There is a difference between evidence and proof. Clearly there is evidence that the rebels have used sarin and chlorine and that ISIS have used mustard gas. Of course, much of these claims about CW usage are made by witnesses who may have their own agendas. There is also the issue that many conventional explosives are made from chlorine compounds.

          • It seems Scott sets the bar and different heights for the rebels vs the regime when it comes to allegations. For example, with respect to the August 2013 Sarin attack, it was proposed that the rockets did not have the range to have originated from regime held territory, therefore Scott came up with an elaborate theory as to how the regime “could” have made their way to areas where they “might” have been within range where they “could” have fired the sarin carrying rockets.

            Scott refers to this as proof and evidence.

            • Exactly. He still also resolutely maintains the State Department’s figure of 1400 killed which is 4 times higher than what was initially reported by doctors on the ground as well as British intelligence. We now know from Seymour Hersh’s investigations, the MIT study, and the admissions of Turkish politicians, that the Ghouta attacks were part of a false flag operation to invite the West to go to war against Assad. Thankfully, the American people rose up and the U.S Congress blocked Obama’s aggression. Only the jihadist rebels and ISIS have the motivation to use chemical weapons in this conflict.

              • The 1,400+ figure is the documented tally from the LCC and VDC, who have carried out the most extensive documentation.

                The 350 figure to which you refer was initially put out by Medecins Sans Frontieres and referred only to the casualties treated at hospitals which they sponsor.

                The rest of your post is the same grab-bag of inaccurate, distorting, and discredited outlets.

            • The salient point is that there is no evidence that this attack — or any attack by rebels — included chlorine.

              • Yes, that figure was drawn from the MSF report, on which the UK and France relied immediately after August 21 — the VDC and LCC reports were compiled through documentation that took weeks (and, indeed, months as deaths were verified).

                Since you are using this report as your reliable source, I trust you are also accepting this finding from it:

                “There is no credible intelligence or other evidence to substantiate the claims or the possession of CW [chemical weapons] by the opposition. The JIC [Joint Intelligence Committee] has therefore concluded that there are no plausible alternative scenarios to regime responsibility.”

  4. Another day of advance for the syrian army in the city of Aleppo.

    At this rate the battle will be over in 3-4 months and Aleppo will be rebuilt and find back its place in the world.

    You know rebels are in deep trouble when rebels supporters are becoming hysterical and calling for terrorist attacks on neighbouring countries like Lebanon.

    • Lol The syrian army? Is it 2012? Doesnt exist
      u mean the largely foriegn pro regime militas have made some gains using massive russian airpower ? Thats fun maybe theyl take it before hilary gets in
      or winter grounds the jets more often
      Or before hama falls to the rebels
      Or before the turks and fsa finish off isis in aleppo countryside and swing towards the city…taking it back in say a week tops
      Or before the quatari decision to reverse their freeeze on weaponry kicks in.
      Or before ur paymasters in russia run outta cash esp with new sanctions incomming.

      • Lol The FSA? Is it 2012? Doesnt exist
        u mean Al Nusra have made some gains using foreign fighters and weapons in Hama? There are no rebels and if Hama were to fall the weakened head choppers would lose it a few weeks later.
        The turks are not going into Aleppo.
        The SAA will go after ISIS in the East provided the US does not bomb them to protect ISIS.

        There’s no freeze on weaponry, the head choppers are simply running out of suicide bombing volunteers.

        There aren’t any news sanctions on any he cards. Funnily enough, the ones running out of cash are the Saudis.

        • Odd lavrov seemed to think they existed when they were cooking up scumbags in tanks back at the start of russias intervention.
          The now almost foriegn to a man regime militas still need the out of date russian airforce to commit waves of bombings to advance vs actual syrians ( the people assad cant seem to willingly fight for him) …..its hilarious to see you try and defend war crimes for such paltry and unsustainable gains , like it or not ur masters are losing that base in tartous eventualy.

          • Odd lavrov seemed to think they existed when they were cooking up scumbags in tanks back at the start of russias intervention.

            Not really. He said if they, they should prove it by identifying themselves.

            The now almost foriegn to a man regime militas still need the out of date russian airforce to commit waves of bombings to advance vs actual syrians

            The now almost foreign to a man head chopped still need foreign weapons and foreign fighters and foreign suicide bombers to advance vs actual syrians.

            …..its hilarious to see you try and defend war crimes for such paltry and unsustainable gains

            ROFLA. its hilarious to see you try and defend war crimes just to hang on to to small parcels of territory the moderate head choppers will lose anyway.

            • Lol he knows exactly where they are as the only thing they bomb more than hospitals is non isis anti regime forces

              Foriegn head choppers ….like the ones that make up the bulk of the regime axis in aleppo? Holy war their leader said

              War crimes are russia and the regimes speciality…no amount of russian trollbots will alter how this conflict is viewed in history , like when the ruskies bombed that aid convoy…to be fair given how poor the russians pilots are and how out of date their tech was they prob thought it was anothrr hospital

      • Hama will not fall to the rebels, I don’t know why you keep hoping that, it’s not going to happen.

        Winter, Hilary Clinton? Is that your last hopes? Your are in for a big disappointment tough. The axis of victory, Syria-Russia-Iran-Lebanon-Irak will continue to destroy the islamists you support.

    • Lol, you should resupply yourself – but I don`t think that it would help. Turks & Rebels (Euphrat shield) are on the way to Al Bab after heavy fighting against Daesh during the last days.

      Russia is fighting civilans and hospitals but Erdogan is fighting Daesh..
      Russians are the real assholes in that game.

  5. FSA Second Central Battalion led by Ahmad al-Qasom leaves Suqur al-Jabal and joins Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. According to the statement, the split is a result of Suqur al-Jabal forming the “Free Idlib Army” alongside 13th Division.

  6. Kurdistan Defence Units YRK said that a group of their fighters have lost their lives in an ambush by Iranian soldiers in Kirmanshan/Iran (ANF)
    =====
    That`s the prove that Putin, Assad & Khamenei have no interest to back the Kurds in North Aleppo.
    The incident shows that the fighting of kurds have overstepped to Iran.

    • That`s the prove that Putin, Assad & Khamenei have no interest to back the Kurds in North Aleppo.

      The Kurds shot themselves in the foot too many times. The US has thrown them under the bus repeatedly.

  7. Charles Lister ‏
    UN figures on besieged East Aleppo:
    ============================
    – 275,000 people
    – 8,000 opposition fighters
    – 900 JFS militants
    ——–
    = 0.33% Nusra
    ———
    ============================
    Logic of the russian massmurderers: to kill all as usual.

    • 8900 people are taking 250 000 people in hostage.

      1 million of people live in governement controlled Aleppo. Looks like they made their choice.

      • Yes, an 600,000 of those escaped from East Aleppo to live in government controlled areas.

        An accordinf to the Pentagon, East Aleppo is controlled entirely by Al Nusra, which means that

        opposition fighters = JFS militants
        275,000 people are being held hostage as human shields.

    • Also, Charles Lister is becoming more and more hysterical. That’s a sure sign of how the things are going military.

      Most of the usual rebels supporters like Lister, Ropcke or other are borderline suicidal.

      • Also, Charles Lister is becoming more and more hysterical.

        Yes, anyone who read his solution to the conflict piece would know that, and come to the conclusion he is also suffering from a substance abuse problem.

  8. Russian massmurderers on action:
    ==
    Syria conflict: Eastern Aleppo faces ‘total ruin’ in two months
    ==
    Rebel-held eastern parts of the Syrian city of Aleppo may face “total destruction” in two months, with thousands killed, the UN’s envoy says.

    Staffan de Mistura told reporters that he was prepared to personally accompany al-Qaeda-linked jihadists out of the city if it would stop the fighting.

    He also appealed to Russia and Syria’s government not to destroy the city for the sake of eliminating militants.

    Troops have been besieging the east, where 275,000 people live, for a month.

    “The bottom line is, in a maximum of two months, two and a half months the city of eastern Aleppo at this rate may be totally destroyed,” Mr de Mistura told a news conference in Geneva.

    “Thousands of Syrian civilians, not terrorists, will be killed and many of them wounded.”

    He added: “This is what you, we, the world will be seeing when we will be trying to celebrate Christmas, or the end of the year, if this continues at this rate, unimpeded. Homs [Syrian city] multiplied by 50.”

    He said the UN was not willing to “be passive, resign ourselves” to genocides such as those in Srebrenica and Rwanda.

    ‘Leave in dignity’

    Russia and Syria say their forces are attacking the powerful jihadist group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which was known as al-Nusra Front until it it formally broke off ties with al-Qaeda in July.

    Mr de Mistura said about 900 of the 8,000 fighters in eastern Aleppo were members of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and that he would willingly accompany them out of the city if they decided to leave.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-37576204

      • Andrex! It is common sense.
        First you have to learn to spell it.
        Then you have to understand it.
        Then you have to get it.
        Good luck on your adventure into the unknown.

        • You have never understood Nusra. You even don`t know what it is.

          Al Qaeda in Syria and listed by everyone as a terrorist group. Funny thing is one minute you are claiming they are misunderstood, the next you are claiming they are working with Assad, yet your own link sayd they are allied with the so called “rebels”

          So which is it Gunny?

            • Where is your answer about the partly cooperation between Nusra and the Assad regime?

              Prisoner swaps and temporary ceasefires are not cooperation, unless you want to explain that to Israel who have done the same with Hamas and Hezbollah. Cooperation is where you fight alongside one another to achieve the same aims, like the rebels do with Al Nusra.

  9. Assad is works with Nusra
    =============================
    “”Like all of the different factions, Jabhat al-Nusra has established channels of communication with the regime and its allies, which notably allow it to negotiate exchanges of prisoners and bodies of dead combatants.

    These channels seem particularly solid in the case of Jabhat al-Nusra / Fath al-Sham. The operations that are negotiated via these channels could not take place without the certainty of the parties’ intention to respect the agreements.

    On several occasions, Jabhat al-Nusra has negotiated with the regime regarding the transfer of al-Qaeda leaders from the south to the north of the country, which involved crossing several hundred kilometres of territory controlled by the regime.

    In exchange for releasing prisoners, truces lasting one night have allowed
    ============================================================================
    Jabhat al-Nusra’s top leaders to cross the country in total security, escorted by Hezbollah fighters.
    ============================================================================
    This was notably the case for Abu Maria al-Qahtani and his security detail, as well as for Sami al-Oreidi, the qadi ‘am (supreme judge), considered to be the organisation’s number two.””

    http://www.noria-research.com/strategy-regarding-truces-in-syria/

    • Assad is works with Nusra

      What a load of rubbish.

      ““”Like all of the different factions, Jabhat al-Nusra has established channels of communication with the regime and its allies, which notably allow it to negotiate exchanges of prisoners and bodies of dead combatants.”

      Hezbollah and Hamas have had this same arrangement with Israel, so by your logic, Israel works with Hamas and Hezbollah.

      Oh an you left this part out Gunny:

      “Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, lead by Abu Mohamed al-Jolani, has established itself as a key actor in the Syrian rebellion. Capitalising on its military successes against the regime, the jihadist group has become an indispensable ally of the rebels, in spite of the profound ideological gulf that separates them.”

      So according to your bat$hit theory, Assad works with Al Nusra, who works with the rebels, which means they are all working together.

  10. Assad regime set free extremists from prison to fire up trouble during peaceful uprising

    ===================

    ISTANBUL / AMMAN // Syrian intelligence agencies released Islamist militants from prison to deliberately subvert a peaceful uprising and ignite a violent rebellion, according to a former regime security official.

    The claim comes ahead of peace talks in Switzerland on Wednesday, which President Bashar Al Assad’s government said should “fight terrorism”, a term he uses to describe all armed opposition groups.

    But according to the former security officer it was the regime that intentionally exacerbated radicalism shortly after the uprising began in March 2011 in order to make itself the least bad choice for the international community and Syrians alike.

    “The regime did not just open the door to the prisons and let these extremists out, it facilitated them in their work, in their creation of armed brigades,” said the former member of Syria’s Military Intelligence Directorate, one of more than a dozen of Syria’s secretive intelligence agencies.

    The former officer said most of the releases happened over a period of four months up until October 2011 and that the project was overseen by the General Security Directorate, another of Syria’s widely feared security organisations and one of the most important.

    Under pressure from opposition groups and the international community, the regime set free hundreds of detainees from jail in the first few months of the uprising as part of an amnesty.

    But many political prisoners and protesters backing the peaceful uprising were kept in prison, while others, including known Islamist radicals and violent offenders, were quietly released.

    Some former inmates of Saidnaya prison, a facility 50 km north of Damascus, went on to become prominent members of insurgent groups.

    Zahran Aloush, commander of the Jaish Al Islam; Abdul Rahman Suweis of the Liwa al Haq; Hassan Aboud of Ahrar Al Sham; and Ahmad Aisa Al Sheikh, commander of Suqour Al Sham, were all held in regime jails prior to the uprising.

    The commander of the powerful Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat Al Nusra, Abu Mohammad Al Jolani, is also rumoured to have been among those set free, although little is known about his true identity.

    “Most of the important people in these extremist groups were in Saidnaya prison, not just Zahran Aloush. There were many of them and the regime let them go very deliberately,” the former intelligence officer said.

    From the start of the uprising, the regime insisted it was facing an Islamist insurgency as a way of justifying its murderous response to overwhelmingly peaceful demands for political reforms.

    To give that narrative credence and bolster support among the fearful religious minorities it depends on for support, as well as Syria’s moderate mainstream population, the regime sought to create instability inside Syria, including acts of violence by Sunni extremists, said the former intelligence officer. He spoke on condition of anonymity.

    He is one of a small number of Alawite security officers who defected from the regime in protest at its tactics to break the uprising.

    Although he left his position as head of a military intelligence unit in northern Syria in the summer of 2011, he remains in contact with some former colleagues and has not joined the opposition.

    In fact, he believes Mr Al Assad should remain in power as a preferable alternative to radical Islamist factions that have come to dominate the armed rebellion.

    Groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) and Jabhat Al Nusra have been infiltrated by Syria’s security forces, the former intelligence officer said, with regime personnel helping them wage war against other Islamic groups and, in some cases, even against Syrian regime forces.

    “This regime is clever, no one on the outside will ever understand what goes on inside,” he said, describing a shadowy system of intelligence branches spying on each other, betraying one another, sometimes promoting attacks by armed rebels on other security branches – all in the name of serving the president.

    • Assad regime set free extremists from prison to fire up trouble during peaceful uprising

      Are you really going to regurgitate that BS? He released prisoners according to the demands of the so called peaceful opposition.

      BTW. The US released 12 of the founding members of ISIS from Camp Bukka and Abu Graib.

  11. Assad is works with Nusra
    ======================
    Some of the important radical leaders [of armed groups] were in there including Jolani [the head of Jabhat Al Nusra], he said. “The Islamists were held in a separate wing of the prison but some of them like Aloush were famous. I didn’t see Jolani but people said he was in there,” the former detainee said.

    Major General Fayez Dwairi, a former Jordanian military officer involved in Amman’s response to the growing crisis in Syria, said the Assad regime was directly involved in the growth of Islamic extremism.

    “Many of the people who established Jabhat Al Nusra were captured by the regime in 2008 and were in prison. When the revolution started they were released on the advice of Syrian intelligence officers, who told Assad ‘they will do a good job for us. There are many disadvantages to letting them out, but there are more advantages because we will convince the world that we are facing Islamic terrorism’,” he said.

    Maj Gen Dwairi said 46 leading members of Jabhat Al Nusra had been in Syrian regime custody, including its leader.

    He also said Islamic groups had been infiltrated by Syrian intelligence agents.

    ======================
    That was nearly the beginning of the clandestine connection between Assad & Nusra

  12. Russias fight with local warlords, terrorist organisations & Jihadis
    ====================================================
    The Syrian war, and the intense new ground battle in the divided city of Aleppo, is often seen as a contest between a array of rebel groups and the Russian-backed government of al-Assad. But the reality is thatAssad’s side is increasingly just as fragmented as its opponents, a panoply of forces aligned partly along sectarian lines but with often-competing approaches and interests.

    There are Iraqi Shiite militiamen cheering for clerics who liken the enemy to foes from seventh-century battles. There are Iranian Revolutionary Guards fighting on behalf of a Shiite theocracy. There are Afghan refugees hoping to gain citizenship in Iran, and Hezbollah militants whose leaders have long vowed to fight “wherever needed.”

    The Syrians themselves are in a few elite units from an army steeped in a nominally socialist, Arab nationalist ideology, exhausted after five years of war, as well as pro-government militias that pay better salaries. And, yes, overhead there are the Russian pilots who have relentlessly bombed the rebel-held eastern side of Aleppo — trained to see the battle as supporting a secular government against Islamist extremist terrorists.

    “The government’s fighting force today consists of a dizzying array of hyper-local militias aligned with various factions, domestic and foreign sponsors, and local warlords,” said one analyst, Tobias Schneider, in recently summing up the situation.

    The battle for eastern Aleppo, where the United Nations says some 275,000 people are besieged, has raised tensions between the United States and Russia to their highest levels in years, but the Cold War rivals do not wield clear control over their nominal proxies. The competing interests on both sides and lack of clear leadership on either one is part of why the fighting has proved so hard to stop: Mr. Assad is desperate to retain power, Moscow is seeking to increase its clout at the global geopolitical table, and Iran is exercising its regional muscle.

    While Washington and Moscow say preservation of Syrian state institutions is a priority, a look at the fight for Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, shows that those structures are already atrophying.

    At least one elite Syrian Army unit has been filmed seizing positions in Aleppo, but the bulk of the pro-government force is made up militiamen trained and financed by Iran, the Shiite theocracy that is the Syrian government’s closest ally, according to experts, diplomats, regional officials and fighters battling for and against the government.

    “Aleppo is Shiite, and she wants her people,” goes a song overlaid onto a video posted online of an Iraqi cleric visiting Iraqi Shiite militia fighters on the front lines south of Aleppo. The message ignores the fact that the mainstream Shiite sect that accounts for the bulk of the Iraqi militias makes up less than 1 percent of Syria’s population.

    The government’s Aleppo offensive has moved aggressively in the past week, worsening an epic humanitarian crisis. Syrian or Russian airstrikes have hit seven hospitals and killed hundreds of civilians, in what Moscow and Damascus describe as preparation for a final battle for the city.

    The Syrian military has dropped leaflets urging rebels to surrender and civilians to leave, but the United Nations says that pro-government forces have not allowed access to the escape routes, and that residents are afraid of arrest if they head to the government side.

    Pro-government ground forces have taken bites out of rebel territory from several directions, but have faced tough resistance in street fighting from insurgents who in many cases are defending their own neighborhoods.

    To the north, the Quds Brigade, made up mostly of Palestinians living in Aleppo, seized the Handarat Palestinian refugee camp, lost it to rebels, and seized it again. To the south, Iraqi militias and other fighters have battled rebels for crucial territory close to a water pumping center. Syrian Army forces, meanwhile, seized a neighborhood in central Aleppo near the ancient citadel.

    As rebel groups called for a general mobilization, residents on their side have stockpiled equipment for digging wells, fuel for generators and seeds to grow food, in preparation for a lengthy siege.

    There is no precedent in the Syrian war for ground forces’ quickly rolling into an area that rebels have held for years. The disjointed forces, many with no local connections, are not strong enough to take fortified urban rebel positions in a frontal assault.

    Rather, airstrikes, artillery and starvation sieges have typically been used to force rebels to surrender in exchange for safe passage — a process that has taken months or years in places far smaller and less strategically vital than Aleppo. But it could go quicker if pro-government forces managed to take control of the water distribution plant and shut off water to the rebel side, or if thousands of Russian soldiers and veterans now working for private security contractors joined the ground battle.
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    The Russian opposition-leaning newspaper RBK, citing a security service source, said that private Russian military companies had 1,000 to 2,500 employees in Aleppo and in one other Syrian city, Latakia, under the de facto command of Russian military intelligence officers. Russian special forces are also on the ground in Syria.
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    The messy mosaic of ground fighters on both sides has challenged Washington’s tangled allegiances. The United States is effectively allied with Iraqi Shiite militias to thwart the Islamic State in Iraq, but in Syria, some of those same militias are fighting on the side of the Assad government, which the United States opposes, and against a mix of rebel groups, some of them backed by the Obama administration.

    The front lines around Aleppo, as seen on video and described by witnesses, in some ways resemble those around Tikrit and Falluja in Iraq: In both countries, Shiite militia flags fly alongside, or sometimes instead of, those of a shaky national army and government.

    In Iraq, militias have often acted as the tip of the spear, the first ground forces to enter after Iraqi government — and sometimes American — airstrikes. Similar scenes unfolded in northern Aleppo Province in February: After heavy Russian and Syrian airstrikes drove most people from villages, fighters from the Iraqi militia Harakat al-Nujabaa — the Noble Ones — Hezbollah and others fought rebel holdouts. Afterward, Syrian troops planted flags.

    The pro-government forces now mobilized around Aleppo include several thousand fighters from Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias known as the Popular Mobilization committees, which formed to fight the Islamic State in Iraq after it swept into large parts of that country in 2014.

    South of Aleppo, Iraqi clerics have given rousing speeches to militiamen in fatigues urging them to fight in the name of faith and Islamic law. The Nujabaa fighters and their supporters have circulated an Arabic hashtag on social media, #AleppoOurNextVictoryInSyria.

    Also fighting are Iranian troops and recruits from Iran’s sizable Afghan refugee population. The Iranian government has been increasingly open about the fact that these are not only advisers, as they were long portrayed.

    At least 400 Iranians and Afghans from Iran have died “defending the shrines” in Iraq and Syria, as the government describes it. In June, at least a dozen members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — some of them high-ranking — died in battles near Aleppo, and around that time some regular Iranian Army troops headed for Syria.

    Around Aleppo, sectarian battle cries can be heard on both sides. Some Sunni insurgents use slurs against the Shiites who lead their archenemy — Iran — and against the Alawites, the sect. Assad belongs to. And some foreign Shiite militiamen call their enemies by the names of foes from the seventh-century battle of Karbala that split Sunnis from Shiites.

    There is more cultural affinity between Russia and senior Syrian Army officers — steeped in secular Baathist ideology and often trained in the Soviet Union — than between Syria’s formal military and Iran and Hezbollah. But militarily, they are all interdependent.

    Assad needs the ground forces provided by Iran and Hezbollah, which in turn need Russian air power. At the same time, Iranian and Hezbollah officials have said that their fighters provide intelligence from the ground for targeting airstrikes.

    Before the war began in 2011, Syria had one of the largest and most professional armies in the region. But it has been eroded by tens of thousands of casualties, by untold numbers of men fleeing the country to avoid conscription, and by the practice of keeping many soldiers from the nation’s Sunni majority away from the front lines amid questions about loyalty.

    Some Syrian officers and government officials grumble about Iran and Hezbollah impinging on their sovereignty, complaining that their fighters earn more than the Syrians and blow past road checkpoints with the flash of a badge. Damascus residents complain about the foreign fighters with semiautomatic rifles making stands in neighborhoods once visited by tourists from all over the world, like the shrine of Sayeda Zeinab, and the Christian quarters of the Old City.

    In turn, both Russians and the foreign Shiite fighters have complained about a lack of discipline among Syrian conscripts. But while many Syrian soldiers are weary after years of war, the foreign militia ranks seem to have buoyant morale.

    The leader of the Iraqi Harakat al-Nujabaa, for example, can be seen in a video the group posted on Facebook telling his men to keep up the battle against extremists backed by the United States, the “Zionist entity” and “arrogant, colonial forces,” then offering “the secret of our victory.”

  13. Since you are using this report as your reliable source, I trust you are also accepting this finding from it:“There is no credible intelligence or other evidence to substantiate the claims or the possession of CW [chemical weapons] by the opposition.”

    No, of course I am not claiming UK intelligence is a reliable source. MI6 lied about Iraqi WMDs. We know the Brits are/were in the business of framing Assad. But the fact is that their own estimate (based on MSF reports) is markedly lower than that of the State Department’s as is the SOHR figure of about 500.

    • I see, so we can disregard your previous post since you do not consider your own stated source to be reliable.

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