Russians press for US withdrawal from key base on Syria-Iraq border



The Forthcoming Partition of Syria

Continuing its pressure against US involvement in Syria, Russian officials have proclaimed an American “war crime” amid operations against the Islamic State.

The Russian “Center for Reconciliation” in Syria declared that the US refused to assist injured displaced persons on October 29 near the al-Rukban camp close to the Jordanian border.

The Russians said the “war crime” occurred as US advisors were assembling Free Syrian Army fighters for a “moderate opposition”. The Center said the clash occurred between two rival factions as the Americans were “negotiating the cost of enrolling every group”.

In the skirmish there, 13 Syrian refugees were killed, another 20, including children, were injured. The US did not offer any medical assistance to the injured refugees. Actually, all those injured are doomed.

Such actions of the US military and the so-called international coalition near al-Tanf constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and can be qualified as a war crime.

There have been no reports to support the Russian assertion. Instead, the Center’s statement pointed to the motive for making the claim — trying to curb the US operations or even force an American withdrawal from Tanf near the Iraqi and Jordanian borders, where US special forces have been working with the FSA to clear ISIS groups.

By having organized [at Tanf] its military base and prohibiting anyone from approaching it closer than 55km, the US bears responsibility for the situation, where dozens of Syrian internally displaced persons, staying at the al-Rukban camp nearby, are deprived of a chance to receive humanitarian assistance.

The Russian statement did not refer to the involvement of the Assad regime in creating the situation where about 50,000 refugees are gathered at the Rukban camp, nor did it mention the thousands of civilians killed by Russian operations since September 2015.

Turkey: Russia-Promoted “People’s Congress” Postponed

Turkey’s Presidency says Russia’s “People’s Congress” for a Syrian political resolution, announced last week at the talks in Kazakh capital Astana, have been postponed.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said Ankara was in the middle of deciding whether to accept or decline Russia’s invitation to the congress, set for November 18, when news came it had been postponed.

However, Kalin indicated that Turkey would not have attended: “We found out that the congress was announced as a fait accompli. We immediately objected. Afterwards, the Kremlin contacted us and stated that they had postponed this meeting.”

He said Ankara may send an observer at a later date.

Turkey was upset that the Russians invited Kurdish groups including the Syrian Kurdistan Democratic Party (PYD), whom the Government considers to part of the Turkish Kurdish insurgency PKK.

Kalin said that Russia now has confirmed that “the PYD would not be invited”.

CIA Refuses Comment on Report of US Official Meeting Assad’s Security Chief

The CIA has declined to comment on a report that a US official met the Assad regime’s Ali Mamlouk last week in Damascus to discuss security concerns, including American citizens detained in Syria.

Citing a “senior regional official close to Damascus”, Reuters reported on Thursday that a “senior US official” travelled from Lebanon to meet Mamlouk.

“Feel free to say we declined to comment,” a CIA press officer told Al-Monitor.

Czech diplomats, representing US interests in Syria, also would not comment.

A State Department official said it department had no information on the reported visit.

Previous reports have said that CIA Director Mike Pompeo started a back channel with Mamlouk shortly after taking office in January, hoping to release US journalist Austin Tice, abducted in Syria in August 2012.

Claims: General Strike in Manbij v. Forced Conscription by Kurds-Led SDF

Claims are circulating of a general strike and a demonstration in Manbij in eastern Aleppo Province, protesting against forced conscription of men between 18 and 35 by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Manbij was captured by the SDF in August 2016.

Photo: Top Iranian General Soleimani in Deir ez-Zor Province

General Qassam Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Forces, with pro-Assad fighters in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria:


Pro-Assad forces — including Iranian troops and Iranian-led foreign militias — completed the takeover of Deir ez-Zor city from the Islamic State last week.

Opposition: Israel Bombed Rebels Near Damascus

The Syrian opposition says Israeli warplanes attacks rebels who were threatening to break a regime siege in Damascus Province.

The Syrian National Coalition said Free Syrian Army units had broken through the regime cordon around the town of Beit Jinn in West Ghouta when the Israeli intervened. Activists said the Israeli targeted FSA reinforcements.

The Israeli attacks are the first reported against rebel forces in the Syrian conflict.

The FSA groups announced they will continue operations until the siege on the area, imposed early this year, is lifted and detainees are released.

The incident followed a reported suicide bombing on the regime-held village of Hader which killed nine people.

Israel’s National Security Adviser, Meir Ben-Shabbat, assured the head of Israel’s Druze community, Mowafaq Tarif, that Israel would not allow “jihadists” to take over the village.

Tarif also met with the head of the Israel Defense Forces Northern Command, Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick, about the army’s plans to protect Hader.

Israeli forces held back a group of Druze from crossing into Syria from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.