Syria Daily: France — Russia and Assad Regime Waging “Total War”

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, following the weekly cabinet meeting November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PHOTO: French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault — “We aren’t going to sit and do nothing” (Charles Platiau/Reuters)



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UPDATE 1615 GMT: Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said an attack by the Assad regime, killing three Turkish troops in northern Syria, will “not be left unanswered“.

Yıldırım also vowed that Ankara will continue to support the rebel offensive taking ISIS-held territory and seeking the capture of the town of al-Bab in Aleppo Province.

He said the Turkish army’s determination to “clear the area of terrorists is unaffected” by the regime bombing: “

It is obvious that there are some who are unhappy with Turkey’s fight against Daesh.. But we will retaliate against this attack and other such attacks.

These attacks, wherever they come from, will not weaken the determination of Turkey and the Turkish Armed Forces. [The Euphrates Shield operation] safeguards the stability of Syria and the life, property, and security of Turkey.

Ten Turkish troops were injured in the attack, the first by the Assad regime’s air force on the Turkish-rebel offensive that began on August 24.

UPDATE 1615 GMT: Bilal Abdul Kareem of On the Ground News counters Moscow’s denials that it has attacked eastern Aleppo city, showing off an unexploded Russian ballistic missile.

UPDATE 0830 GMT: Turkey says three of its soldiers have been killed and 10 wounded in what is believed to be a regime airstrike.

The attack was near the ISIS-held town of al-Bab in Aleppo Province. Turkish-supported rebels launched an offensive earlier this month to take the town, but could face competition from Kurdish militia and from regime forces.

A gag order has been imposed on Turkish media reporting any information beyond the military statement.

UPDATE 0825 GMT: Residents of eastern Aleppo city appeal to the world:

The speakers tell of 500,000 people killed across the country since March 2011, and at least 271,536 people trapped in eastern Aleppo city. In the last 23 days, there have been at least 2,300 documented strikes, including barrel bombs, artillery shells, cluster bombs, bunker-busting bombs, and chlorine attacks. Four hospitals, six schools, two bakeries, and the civil defense headquarters have been struck in the last week.

The residents say:

It has been almost six years and we are wondering what the world was doing. How many hospitals or schools does it take to see real actions against war crimes in Syria? It can’t get more gruesome than this.

Don’t look back years from now and wish that you can do something — you can still.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Seeking to rally countries opposed to the continued rule of Syria’s President Assad, France has accused the regime and its allies like Russia of launching “total war” against opposition areas.

Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told reporters after a Cabinet session on Wednesday that Paris would host a meeting of anti-Assad States soon: “Today one million people are besieged. Not just in Aleppo, but in Homs, Ghouta and Idlib, and that’s the reality of the situation in Syria.”

Ayrault said Russia and the Assad regime are exploiting the situation in the US, with President-elect Donald Trump expected to pull back from Syria’s 68-month conflict or even to join Russia in backing Assad: “France is taking the initiative to confront this strategy of total war by the regime and its allies, who are taking advantage of the current uncertainty in the United States.”

He did not give details of what a Paris meeting would consider. A diplomat said the talks will be in early December.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier supported the French position, telling Parliament:

Far too many people right now believe they can profit from the power vacuum after the U.S. elections and play the military card. We have to break through this logic. The talks on ceasefires and humanitarian aid must not stop during this period of transition in Washington.

Ayrault added:

It’s been proved that the regime and Islamic State have used chemical weapons so we now need sanctions and that’s the resolution we want at the U.N. The international community must stop turning a blind eye.

We aren’t going to sit and do nothing.

Since Russia and the Assad regime renewed a siege and bombing of opposition-held eastern Aleppo city this summer, France has led condemnation. Ayrault and Paris’s UN representatives have said that Moscow is “complicit” in the regime’s “war crimes”.

While US Ambassador Samantha Power also criticized Russian “barbarism”, Washington has continued discussions with Moscow and held back from a tough position against Assad.

Darayya Council Shuts Down After 4-Year Regime Siege and Attacks

The local council in Darayya, southwest of Damascus, has ended operations after capitulation to a four-year regime siege and attacks.

The council, founded in October 2102, thanked those involved in sustaining the town despite the “long and arduous…sacrifices, tragedies, and suffering”.

Rebels and their families left Darayya for Idlib Province in northwest Syria in late August. Pro-Assad forces had taken part of the town, including the vegetable plots providing some food amid the siege, and were threatening to overrun the rest.

Report: Egypt Sends Air Support Unit to Syria

Egypt has sent a military air support unit to Syria in preparation for a large deployment in early 2017, according to pro-Assad regime Lebanese daily As-Safir.

Earlier this week Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi publicly confirmed support for the regime military, following photographs of supplies and arms from Cairo to Assad forces.

“Well-informed Arab sources” told As-Safir on Thursday that the Egyptian army sent a unit of 18 helicopter pilots to Hama airbase on November; however, they said it was “unclear whether they have begun taking part in aerial operations”.

After 68 months of conflict, the Syrian military has only 50 Russian-made Mil Mi-8 helicopters still in operation — half of its original supply —- while Egypt has 60 of the aircraft, according to As-Safir.

An unnamed source told the newspaper that a large deployment of Egyptian troops will arrive in Syria in late January to take part in military operations “not limited to air support at Hama airbase”.

Report: Hezbollah Has 1st Direct Meeting With Russian Officers

Hezbollah military officials have directly met Russian officers for the first time, according to the pro-Hezbollah Lebanese outlet al-Akhbar.

“Less than a week ago, Aleppo witnessed the first direct meeting between Hezbollah field commanders and Russian army officers,” al-Akhbar reported Thursday.

The daily claimed that the gathering “came at the request of the Russians” who were impressed by Hezbollah’s military performance repelling a rebel offensive in western Aleppo city in late October: “The meeting was attended by high-ranking Russian officers, who paid tribute to [Hezbollah’s] capabilities.”

Previous contact between the Russians and Hezbollah came through representatives in joint operations rooms in Baghdad and Damascus that include Syrian, Iranian, and Iraqi military officials.

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.


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  2. Trump’s National Security Adviser pick raises serious questions about Putin’s influence over US policy
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    Flynn is either willfully ignorant of Russia’s outright hostility towards NATO, or he is simply opposed to defending American interests and allies in Europe. Neither option inspires confidence in his role as National Security Adviser.
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    Even more worrisome than Flynn’s reckless public support for Putin is his commitment to a foreign policy agenda that directly benefits Russia… On Ukraine, Flynn appears to be unconcerned about Putin’s invasion of a peaceful neighbor, and unmoved by the tens of thousands of dead or the millions of refugees Putin is responsible for. Indeed, Flynn’s paid dinner with Putin came after most Western politicians had agreed to shun Putin internationally as a result of his invasion of Ukraine.
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    • And here the probable turkish response. Many F16s took of direction Syria, to be confirmed. Anyways congrats once again to Assad and Putin for showing once more that they fight anybody but ISIS and actually prefer to concentrate on who actually fights ISIS. Clap clap lol

    • Yeah right Caligola, Assad, Russians and Iranians are sooo scared or psycho Erdogan. The Turks have no business being in Syria.

      They’ll get sent packing if they overstep the line. Oh and as for figting ISIS, everyone with a brain knows the only reason Turkey is in Syria is to fight the Kurds.

      • You might ask that question to the crew of that Mig which went down…..
        And regarding your last rant. Al bab were the this incident took place is ISIS hold. Not kurdistan. And again dont come here teaching us who’s Erdogan real target is, cuz everybody knows its the kurds. You haven’t discovered hot water, Turkey is fighting both. Assad and his stooges are fighting everybody but ISIS.

        • That Mig went down in what Turkey claimed was Turkish air space.

          And Deir Ezzor was an ISIS stronghold when the US attacked Syrian forces, which according to your logic, proves the US isn’t attacking ISIS.

      • Uh, you apparently have no idea about the history of the region. Northern Syria/Iraq were part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries. The Sykes–Picot Agreement is responsible for drawing the artificial borders in that part of the Middle East some 100 years ago. Few, if any, ethnic groups recognize those boundaries as legitimate. Erdogan is a Turkmen Nationalist, I’d wager he has a map of the Ottoman Empire on his office wall. Hell, I played in old Turkish forts near Jeddah as a kid.

        The Turkish Army can seize anything they are ordered to take, and do it enthusiastically if it is within their historical lands. The Russians are aware of this, and will be very careful here. Needless to say, this conflict is beginning to spin out of control.

        • Uh, you apparently have no idea about the history of the region. Northern Syria/Iraq were part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries

          So what? Are you now going to tell us that Russia’s annexation of Crimea is legitimate because Crimea was part of Russia for centuries or that Kuwait is really part of Iraq and that Saddam was justified invading in 1990?

          • Oh wow Andre. Your first part. So you are telling us you agree to the fact that russia unlawfully annexed crimea ! What a coming out lol

            • No Caligola, I am ponying out The hypocrisy of Mike’s argument. You can’t have it both ways.

              And FYI. Russia did no annex Crimea. Crimea bites to separate from the Ukraine and then elected to join Russia.

              Hope that helps 🙂

  3. Never heard of the expressions…”partial war…semi-war…mini-war ….limited war”..etc..
    Is a war suppose to be anything else except a full range of measures meant to destroy the ennemy?….thus total war..

    • Also, France should focus on its broken society (by imported Islamists) instead of preaching to the one and only force who is doing the right thing

    • Not when you have Beta leadership. They think of nation building, or believe if you break it you own it. On the other hand, Alpha leadership allows their forces to burn, rape, pillage,and takes the spoils. It impacts generations of the vanquished. However,West forces haven’t use “total war” since 1945. Hence, you get several generations of Japanese and Germans who are very passive. Something they are not naturally. A few more decades, and these countries will begin to re-assert themselves.

    • My favorite is “police action” which is a sneaky way to go to war without declaring war.
      Used extensively to describe those minor skirmishes in Korea and Viet Nam.

    • Euphrates Shield worked untill now only because of ISIS decision of constantly retreating. Let’s be sincere, these guys never faced real resistance and will start dropping like flies when serious fighting begins. They will never take Manbij or Al-bab if their enemies decide to make a stand, both ISIS and YPG are hard as nails. Euphrates Shield is on a dead end.

      • Never is a long time. I agree that ISIS has shown grit, can’t say the same for YPG forces. I would be surprised if Al Bab fell easily. FSA can envelope and slowly atrit ISIS in Al Bab. Much like Iranian tactics against rebels in Aleppo. If Turkey commits their leopard II’s and cobra gunships it’s check mate. Most ATGM’s in theater can’t penetrate their armor. It’s very fluid now.

    • There are so many, which ones are you referring to? There is ISIS/ISIL, there is Al Qaeda, there is the Assad regime, there are the Russians, there are the Iranians, there are the Hezbollites, there are the Palestinians, there are nusra, there are the kurds, there are the israelis. Which ones are you referring to?

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