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Syria Daily: With Russia & US Help, Regime Takes Palmyra from ISIS

Syria Daily: With Russia & US Help, Regime Takes Palmyra from ISIS
March 03
07:51 2017

US joins Russia and Iran in helping Assad regime regain Roman-era Palmyra from ISIS


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The Assad regime, with help from Russia and the US, has recaptured the historic city of Palmyra in central Syria from the Islamic State.

The Syrian Army’s Command announced victory on Thursday after ground operations supported by Russian and regime air forces and Iranian-led militias. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also announced the Syrian regime’s control of the city.

Neither the regime nor Moscow acknowledgeed American assistance for the first time, through other strikes on ISIS positions and fighters.

Palmyra, a prominent travellers’ stop in the Roman era, has changed hands four times in less than two years. ISIS first took it in May 2015. Pro-Assad forces reoccupied it in March 2016, but the Islamic State — taking advantage of the preoccupation of the regime with the capture of all of Aleppo city — returned in December.

Footage from Russian State outlet RT:

A regime soldier takes away an Islamic State flag in Palmyra, March 2016


Russia Turns Against Opposition at Geneva Talks

Pulling back from an apparent small advance in political talks in Geneva, Russia turned against Syria’s opposition on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the opposition-rebel High Negotiations Committee said an agenda might include their demand for a “transitional process”, following discussions with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov. The Assad regime’s delegation said battling “terrorism”, their reference to any armed opposition, could also be included.

But on Thursday, Moscow returned to pressure on the HNC, accusing it of not working with the Russian-preferred “Moscow” and “Cairo” groups of Syrian politicians, who are also in Geneva.

“The talks are once again raising questions about the ability of representatives of the Syrian opposition to do a deal,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in Moscow. “The so-called High Negotiations Committee is refusing to cooperate equally with the Moscow and Cairo platforms and is in fact sabotaging fully fledged dialogue.

The regime’s negotiator, UN Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari, accused some HNC members of “high treason” because of support from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel: “The Riyadh opposition will be held responsible for any failure of the Geneva talks.”

Ja’afari said he had discussed “substantive issues, particularly counter-terrorism” with UN Staffan de Mistura, and would continue on Friday.

The chief opposition negotiator Nasr al-Hariri said he had held “very positive” discussions with de Mistura, centered on the political transition — opposed by President Bashar al-Assad because it could involve his departure from power. He said he would also talk with the UN envoy on Friday.

But no progress was apparent, as al-Hariri accused Iran — an essential backer of the Assad regime through economic aid, troops, and Tehran-led foreign militias — of being a fundamental obstacle to a resolution: “”We reiterated [to Russia’s Gatilov] the devilish role that Iran is playing through hundreds of thousands of fighters on the Syrian soil,”

“The prospects are very dim,” HNC negotiator Basma Kodmani said.


Protests in Aleppo Province Against Jihadists

Local people talk to Syria Direct about protests in Atareb, in western Aleppo Province, against the jihadist bloc Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and its leading faction Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.

The demonstrations, now in their 7th week, have been spurred by HTS attacks on other factions, including Jaish al-Mujahideen, the headquarters and warehouses of the Free Syrian Army and the headquarters of Thuwar al-Sham.

Mohammad Shakurdi, a member of the Atareb council, says:

We took to the streets against HTS because they said they’d come to protect the revolution and the Syrian people. They said they’d fight the regime, but that’s not what we’ve seen. So far, they haven’t fought a single battle against the regime. All they’ve done is kidnap people, put up checkpoints and terrorize residents. They arrest members of the Free Syrian Army and attack FSA military headquarters….

Residents are frustrated, and they’re speaking out against what’s happening. They had a lot of hope that Hay’at Tahrir a-Sham would carry the banner of the revolution and its demands. One million Syrians have died and 300,000 people have been detained in this revolution started by the Syrian people. Hay’at Tahrir a-Sham has let down the people. They stand in the way of efforts to alleviate the suffering of the people.

Reports say HTS is currently attacking elements of the leading faction Ahrar al-Sham in neighboring Idlib Province, hoping to split off units and fighters.

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About Author

Scott Lucas

Scott Lucas

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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23 Comments

  1. Barbar
    Barbar March 03, 14:52

    1. Scott, who are “the Russian-preferred ‘Moscow’ and ‘Cairo’ groups of Syrian politicians, who are also in Geneva.“? Some names and party affiliations would be appreciated context.
    .
    .
    2. “We reiterated the devilish role that Iran is playing through hundreds of thousands of fighters on the Syrian soil” — I know these pious Salafi Brothers abhor the booze but this one sounds like he’s not averse to a fistful of Captagon now and again.
    .
    .
    3. Moderate Nusra killer of 36 Syrian civil servants maliciously persecuted for his belief [in warcrimes] by Kraut hypocrites:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/germany-refugees-arrested-terror-syria-jabhat-al-nusra-massacre-36-civilians-war-crime-isis-attacks-a7607226.html

    Reply to this comment
  2. Barbar
    Barbar March 03, 15:22

    SAA tripwire line with YPG established to keep Turk Stooge Army penned into Tayyip’s Nusra Nature Reserve:
    https://twitter.com/SY_newsagency/status/837259506639912960
    .
    Any further transgression now means having your photo taken by stern Mr. SU-34.
    Same thing should happen on Afrin front also, before these shaggies get any other bright ideas.

    Reply to this comment
    • caligola
      caligola March 03, 16:13

      Oh noooo……..

      Can’t wait for open war to break out on this front.
      Despite rumors of russian/regime and commies agreements. ES advanced today vs SDF and regime soldiers taken for a free visit around ES territory :)

      https://mobile.twitter.com/QalaatAlMudiq/status/837676341214470146

      Reply to this comment
      • Barbar
        Barbar March 03, 19:13

        I predict you will be severely underwhelmed.

        Reply to this comment
        • caligola
          caligola March 04, 08:12

          If i where you i would be carefull in launching such predictions. Plus this agreement your commies scum friends would like has still to be confirmed by everyone. Infact as i posted clashes are very well ongoing vs SDF. Keep up the hope babar !!

          Reply to this comment
      • Barbar
        Barbar March 03, 19:42

        SAA is expected to take control of Manbij city within the next 24 hours after an agreement between Damascus, SDF & Russia:
        https://twitter.com/EjmAlrai/status/837634582744809472
        .
        Tayyip’s loose jaw has just been slapped shut … 😀

        Reply to this comment
        • Barbar
          Barbar March 03, 19:56

          This move was probably quietly agreed with Der Trumpenführer régime in the background to chop down to size their dear Turkish ‘ally’ whose jaw famously runs at a faster clockspeed than his brain.

          Reply to this comment
        • Andre De Angelis
          Andre De Angelis March 03, 22:54

          Will be interesting to see what happens when the SAA and US forces meet in Manbij

          Reply to this comment
          • Barbar
            Barbar March 04, 00:13

            The Yanki illegal immigrants will skedaddle before that happens, unless they want to be arrested for carrying weapons without a permit from Damascus and crossing the border without the required visa.

            Reply to this comment
            • caligola
              caligola March 04, 08:18

              Its the same US presence that is saving the lives of your commies friends. If there was none it would be raining airstrikes and artillery on Manjib. SDF bitches posting everywhere pics of US sof around Manjib frontlines. As usual…switch your brain on sometimes instead of feeding us your usual comical satire “yanki, gi joes bs etc etc”. :)

              Reply to this comment
              • Barbar
                Barbar March 04, 12:48

                1. The copious crocodile tears of Ji-Ju at SAA’s pre-emptive capture of Manbij from Tayyip’s Stooge Army are sooo priceless yet salty they must be bottled for times of drought:
                https://twitter.com/JulianRoepcke/status/837642301618933760
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                .
                2. Growing increasingly paranoid instead of just hysterical, he also suspicions not only Yankistan but even Glorious Führer Taqiyya Tayyip himself helped set up this stunning victory for SAA:
                And if I get it right, Turkey agreed to this. They rather want Assad than SDF on their border. Would be total betrayal of Syrian rebels.
                https://twitter.com/JulianRoepcke/status/837244444822892544
                .
                LOL, for once I have to agree with him!

          • Bs As
            Bs As March 04, 00:13

            “Will be interesting to see what happens when the SAA and US forces meet in Manbij”

            Nothing will happen since SAA is not even entitled to lift a finger against US forces. Miserable SAA will be forced by its overlords to coexist with the same people they have claimed for years to be sponsoring the destruction of its government.

            Reply to this comment
            • Andre De Angelis
              Andre De Angelis March 04, 01:12

              Nothing will happen since SAA is not even entitled to lift a finger against US forces.

              My God, you know the world is upside down when Americans believe US forces have more tight to be in Syria than the SAA.

              Reply to this comment
  3. K9
    K9 March 03, 15:24

    Interesting article by theguardian – A giant landbridge to the Meditterenean Iran’s ultimate geopolitical aim for Syria:
    .
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/08/iran-iraq-syria-isis-land-corridor
    .
    The route follows – Mosul-Raqqa-Aleppo-Idlib-Latakia and here’s a prediction: Even if the YPG captures Raqqa I see the YPG handing Raqqa over to the Iranians (just like did in Manbij) to create an Iranian control border on the Euphrates in order to block the Turks. Mark my words, if the US hands Raqqa over to the YPG then Raqqa (an Arab city) will be handed over to the Iranians to undermine Turkish presence and their Arab proxies in northern Syria.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Mikey3d
    Mikey3d March 03, 16:11

    I’m not a fan of Erdogan, BUT, even the secular Turkish military professionals agree with him when it comes to the Kurds. That land route has almost no chance of happening. Things are very fluid on the ground in Syria at this moment. Everyone is wondering to see what the Americans will do, and are being very cautious.

    Reply to this comment
  5. Mikey3d
    Mikey3d March 03, 16:17

    I’ve stated before that the factions that are most likely to be on the wrong end are the Iranians, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda proxies, and last but not least ISIS. I now believe that the Baathists will survive and remain in control of the Syrian government. Also, I believe that a grand political settlement will be attempted by co-opting many Syrian rebel factions into a new government and military. This will be supported by most players in theater, including the Russians, Israelis, Turks, and most Sunni Arabs. The Mullahs in Tehran are very exposed here.

    Reply to this comment
    • Leeroyjenkins
      Leeroyjenkins March 03, 18:51

      Id doubt it
      Things dont look rosy for the iranains or hez long term and without their protection the baathists choices will eventualy boil down to hague or sword

      Reply to this comment
  6. K9
    K9 March 03, 21:47

    #International:1) “Pentagon says it is not aware of any agreement between SDF and Assad to overturn the west of Manbij to pro-Assad forces” – ragipsoylu
    .
    Either the US DoD is incredibly naive (plausible under the Trump administration) or they’re playing a double-game with the Turks. Cynic in me tells me there must have been some collusion between US and Russia in order to protect the YPG which if true shows the Erdogan has been tricked again.
    .
    2) “IS front-end loader demolishes berm, allowing 3 up-armored SVBIEDs (2 SUV/1 4×4) to pass through and strike targets. Jazirah province…This is a very good example of the important assault function heavy construction equipment can serve for IS in conjunction with SVBIEDs” – PurpleOlive2
    .
    #Aleppo: 1) Assadist troops get hit by ATGM ambush.
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4df2vheRi_4&feature=youtu.be
    .
    6 years of this war and these idiots still gather in large numbers in one location out in the open?
    .
    2) “Pentagon says they observed Russian humanitarian convoys moving into Manbij along with Russian armoured vehicles” – ragipsoylu
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    Humanitarian yeah right, more like fresh supply of ammos and ATGMs to hit at the Turkish military. Seriously why is the Turkish military even allowing this? And if the Turks are so scared of Russia just go after Afrin. I said this in December and I’ll say it again – After Jarablus fell instead of going after Bab the Turks should have invaded Afrin and Manbij immediately without waiting. Too late now except to go after Afrin and Tel Rifaat and hammer the YPG there.
    .
    #Homs: Surprising if true “Russian Major General Pyotr Milyukhin seriously wounded in Palmyra.” – fuadhud
    .
    #Observation: I’ll say this – as a anti-trench weapon using drones to drop recycled Russian white phospherous shells onto regime troops hiding in a trench would be incredibly effective? Why you ask? The Assadists are dug into the ground, the moment the drone drops that incendiary weapon on them where the Assadists going to run to besides moving to another part of the trench? They/regime-troops can’t climb out of their trench or a rebel sniper would just make them off.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Andre De Angelis
    Andre De Angelis March 04, 01:11

    The suggestion that the US worked with #Hezbollah to liberate Palmyra from ISIS is pretty laughable.

    Reply to this comment

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