Syria Daily: Is Russia Setting “Chemical” Pretext for Attacks on Kurdish-Led SDF in Deir ez-Zor?

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Claimed photo of Russian troops in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria (File)

The Russian Defense Ministry has set up a possible pretext for a pro-Assad offensive against the US-supported, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria.

Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Monday that the Free Syrian Army, with the involvement of US special forces, is preparing a “false flag” chlorine attack to justify airstrikes by the US-led coalition on Assad regime facilities.

“According to the information confirmed through three independent channels in Syria, the command of the so-called ‘Free Syrian Army’ aided by the forces of the US special operation units are preparing a serious provocation involving chemical warfare agents in Deir ez-Zor Province,” Konshenkov said.

The Free Syrian Army does not have units in Deir ez-Zor Province, much of which is held by the SDF after operations since autumn 2015 against Islamic State. With pro-Assad forces carrying out their own advance against ISIS, the two sides have frontlines close to each other, including near Deir ez-Zor city and along the Euphrates River.

There were clashes and two Russian airstrikes on SDF positions last year after Deir ez-Zor city was taken from the Islamic State. In the most serious incident, in February 2018, about 200 Russian “private military contractors” and other pro-Assad fighters were killed by US airstrikes amid their failed attempt to take SDF positions near a gas complex.

Russia has used similar unsupported “false flag” declarations amid pro-Assad assaults on opposition territory, including to cover Assad regime chemical attacks in the offensives. The pretexts included claims about the opposition in east Aleppo city in 2016 and in East Ghouta near Damascus, fully captured by pro-Assad forces after two regime chemical attacks that killed about 50 people in April 2018.

Journalist Julia Ioffe:

Konashenkov proclaimed on Monday, “After being published in western media, a staged video is set to initiate a missile strike on Syria’s state facilities by the US-led coalition and justify an offensive operation by militants against Syrian governmental forces on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.”

The Syrian Democratic Forces, led by the Kurdish militia YPG, hold much of northern and eastern Syria in the Kobani and Cezire cantons. The Assad regime has insisted that it will retake “every inch” of Syrian territory.

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39 COMMENTS

  1. The Russian Defense Ministry has set up a possible pretext for a pro-Assad offensive against the US-supported, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in eastern Syria.

    Again it makes zero sense. Trump has demonstrated he has no fear of sending cruise missiles to attack government positions. The Assad regime knows that the US will bomb them while such chlorine attacks would achieve nothing.

    BTW. I thought the US hit all the CW facilities in April? I guess not

    • How many attacks has the US not responded to? In fact, it has never responded to a chlorine attack.

      And US retaliation has been symbolic, and they anyway aren’t out to topple the regime, which is all Assad cares about.

      The CW attacks are a part of the Assad’s “terror bombing” strategy. He can use them to terrorize recalcitrant civilian population, maybe the Americans slap him on the wrist, probably they don’t.

      It all makes eminent sense, and has done since Assad first used CW (and there were no consequences).

      • In fact, it has never responded to a chlorine attack.

        Huh? Who launched 105 Tommohawk missiles after the alleged chlorine attack in Douma?

        And US retaliation has been symbolic, and they anyway aren’t out to topple the regime, which is all Assad cares about.

        Yeah sure. Gassing a few civilians is strategically important enough to sacrifice a few military bases, government facilities and the lives of Syrian troops. Makes perfect sense.

        The CW attacks are a part of the Assad’s “terror bombing” strategy. He can use them to terrorize recalcitrant civilian population

        Nonsense. As we witnessed in East Aleppo and Douma, civilians in those areas are being held hostage by opposition groupsand have flooded back once the areas were liberated.

        In every case of a CW attack, Assad had nothing to gain and everything to lose. On the other hand, the consequences of the gas attacks benefited the opposition.

  2. The prior announcement of a chemical attack by the Russians followed by an actual chemical attack by Assad shows that the Russians are involved in the planning of the attack and are therefore accomplices in the regimes crime. Putin is as guilty of this war crime as Assad and both should be tried for it. The fact that a lying Russian troll appears here shows that Putin/Assad are about to commit another war crime and are attempting a cover up, that no intelligent and knowledgeable person would accept. The odds of Assad’s gang gassing more of his own people with chlorine are high. This will be an exercise to see if the pathetic world leaders will tolerate the use of chlorine.

    • The prior announcement of a chemical attack by the Russians followed by an actual chemical attack by Assad shows that the Russians are involved in the planning of the attack and are therefore accomplices in the regimes crime.

      One would have to believe the Russians were incredibly stupid and self defeating for this to hold any water.

      Putin is as guilty of this war crime as Assad and both should be tried for it.

      Every US president since WWII has been guilty of war crimes. You illustrated the utter blindness and hypocrisy of neoliberal western interventionists.

      The fact that a lying Russian troll appears here shows that Putin/Assad are about to commit another war crime and are attempting a cover up, that no intelligent and knowledgeable person would accept.

      The fact that you are too blind or lack the intellect to realize that a CW attack would bring Assad no benefit and only potential losses just goes to show how brainwashed you are.

      The odds of Assad’s gang gassing more of his own people with chlorine are high.

      The odds of Assad gaininh any benefit whatsoever from gassing his own people are nill.

  3. “xxx
    ‏ @markito0171
    17h17 hours ago

    #Russia claim #Syria’n Regime forces repelled assault of #US trained forces from Al Tanf Border crossing toward #Palmyra
    -very doubtful-”
    .
    Is Al Tanf the planned target area for the Assad/Putin chemical attack?

  4. The “Assad has no reason to gas his own people” crowd is being willfully obtuse. That position requires you to:

    1. Believe that terrorism serves no practical purpose. Utilizing it can only mean that someone does it for its own sake.
    2. Assad isn’t human. He’s an AI programmed to min/max his way to victory, or some sort of being incapable of acting outside the bounds of (their idea of) rationality.

    I doubt they themselves believe that. They just hope someone else is stupid enough to fall for it.

    • The “Assad has no reason to gas his own people” crowd is being willfully obtuse.

      The “Assad did” crowd is being willfully anti intellectual. Following the Douma incident, there were numerous military experts and retired generals who expressed that Assad had nothing to gain from carrying out such attacks.

      Were they being willfully obtuse?

      1. Believe that terrorism serves no practical purpose. Utilizing it can only mean that someone does it for its own sake.

      Terrorism is the tactic of the weak. The purpose being to use asymmetric tactics to inflict damage on a more powerful enemy. It is the strategy employed by those with no other option. This is not Assad’s position as he is clearly the more powerful party and is winning

      2. Assad isn’t human. He’s an AI programmed to min/max his way to victory, or some sort of being incapable of acting outside the bounds of (their idea of) rationality.

      Actually it is the “Assad did it” camp that prefer to characterize Assad and Putin and mustache twirling 2 dimensional villains from comic books. They can not explain what tactical or strategic benefit Assad gains from carrying out CW attacks so offer pathetic theories about Assad doing it to terrorize people to satisfy some sadistic urge.

      The bottom line is that humans typically respond to negative stimuli by avoiding the action that caused them pain and suffering in the first place. The “Assad did it” camp are asking us pretend Assad the risks of being bombed by the US is the cost Assad is prepared to pay for the option of gassing civilians who pose no threat to him.

      • Eh, no. You’re thinking of asymmetric warfare. Stating terrorism is “the domain of the weak” is historically illiterate. Usage of excessive force and violence to cow others into submission is a tale as old as civilization itself. The Roman Empire didn’t use flowers and concessions to put down the Jewish rebellions of the 1st and 2nd centuries. They used mass murder and enslavement. When the Greek city states provided assistance to the Ionian Revolt at the beginning of the 5th century BC, the Achaemenids responded by sacking city after city on the Aegean. And what do you call the slaughter of entire villages during WWII suspected of aiding partisan forces? Or the Allied firebombing of Dresden? What about the Blood court of Verden?

        “Actually it is the “Assad did it” camp that prefer to characterize Assad and Putin and mustache twirling 2 dimensional villains from comic books. They… …offer pathetic theories about Assad doing it to terrorize people to satisfy some sadistic urge.”

        And whoever says that is wrong! Assad is simply working hard to preserve his hold on power by ramping up the cost of defying him as much as possible. As you yourself said, “The bottom line is that humans typically respond to negative stimuli by avoiding the action that caused them pain and suffering in the first place” – No better way to get people not to do something than making sure that those negative stimuli manifest themselves in the form of immense pain and suffering. Or maybe there is, but it seems Assad is pretty content with the tried and tested method of dealing with rebellious subjects.

        • Stating terrorism is “the domain of the weak” is historically illiterate.
          No, it’s based on the agreed definition of terrorism.
          Usage of excessive force and violence to cow others into submission is a tale as old as civilization itself.
          Yes it is, and those with force get to write the rules, otherwise the US and Britain would be by your definition, the biggest proponents of terrorism in the world today. In fact, the US and much of the west aggrandise this fact by their gratuitous military budgets. After all, the US prides itself on the fact that not only can it defeat any enemy, but can do so with excessive force and violence to cow others into submission.
          Assad is simply working hard to preserve his hold on power by ramping up the cost of defying him as much as possible.

          But you are deliberately ignoring the fact that it’s not civilians who are defying him, You are also ignoring the fact that the use of CWs comes at the risk of an overwhelming response from the West that poses a far grater threat to his hold on power.

          • State terrorism is not a thing to you, Andre? We’re talking about deliberate targeting of civilians in order to suppress them. Whether it falls into some scholarly definition of the modern phenomenon is irrelevant, and making it so wasn’t my intent anyway. Put it under whatever definition suits you.

            “Yes it is, and those with force get to write the rules, otherwise the US and Britain would be by your definition, the biggest proponents of terrorism in the world today. In fact, the US and much of the west aggrandise this fact by their gratuitous military budgets. After all, the US prides itself on the fact that not only can it defeat any enemy, but can do so with excessive force and violence to cow others into submission.”

            US and Britain could be worse than Stalin, Hitler, and Mao combined. They would still be irrelevant here.

            You are also ignoring the fact that the use of CWs comes at the risk of an overwhelming response from the West that poses a far grater threat to his hold on power.

            What does this “grave response” look like?

            • State terrorism is not a thing to you, Andre?
              State terrorism, like most forms of terrorism, is generally motivated by an objective, which in turn is exists if there is a need. Assad has no need to suppress civilians as they are not fighting or resisting him. Indeed, the fact that so many civilians are returning to the cities and towns liberated by Assad attests to that.
              What does this “grave response” look like?

              What we have seen in April 2017 and March 2018, with the potential to be far worse. Are you still of the position that Assad’s calculus is that killing a few civilians with CWs is worth the cost of sacrificing army bases, Syrian troops and potentially weakening himself militarily?

              • ” Assad has no need to suppress civilians as they are not fighting or resisting him.”

                *As long as they are not fighting or resisting him. Or find themselves in enemy-held areas, for that matter.

                ” Indeed, the fact that so many civilians are returning to the cities and towns liberated by Assad attests to that.”

                Well, yes. Assadist Syria is in much better condition than the rebel-held one. No one disputes that. The fact that rebel-held urban areas look like something from a post-apocalyptic movie has been a long running complaint among those opposed to Assad, as it’s largely the work of the SyAAF.

                “Are you still of the position that Assad’s calculus is that killing a few civilians with CWs is worth the cost of sacrificing army bases, Syrian troops and potentially weakening himself militarily?”

                On one hand it humiliates his hated opponents abroad. On the other it tells the opposition they’re largely at his mercy. And apparently he achieves both with no dent to his war effort. I’d say yes.

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