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Introduction by New Cold War.org, Feb 14, 2016

On February 12, 2016, world leaders meeting at the Munich Security Conference announced an agreement to seek a ceasefire in Syria as of March 1. Since the announcement, the U.S. government, its allied governments and Western mainstream media have engaged in an intense propaganda barrage directed at Russia, blaming it for massive human rights violations against the Syrian population and compromising the U.S. wished-for domination of Syria and continued dominance of the Middle East.

The propaganda barrage is part of an effort to recoup the political losses being suffered in Syria by the nexus of the United States, European powers, reactionary Arab regimes and Turkey. The Syrian government, allied with Russia, Iran, Hezbollah forces from Lebanon and Kurdish forces of northern Syria, is making significant gains to recoup territory lost to the reactionary Islamist forces dominating the regime change war against the Syrian government. So much so that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are now openly discussing plans for an invasion of Syrian territory. See weblink below to an AFP story.

The territorial gains of Damascus as well as the announcement of a possible ceasefire run counter to the regime change agenda for Syria of the U.S. and its allies. U.S. dominance in the Middle East is eroding. A latest example of the unceasing regime change agenda of imperialism is provided by UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. The Guardian reports his declaration on February 14 in which he blames Vladimir Putin for the ongoing war in Syria because, says Hammond, the Russian president does not support the ouster of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “Whether or not Assad goes or stays ultimately will depend on whether the Russians are prepared to use their influence to remove him.,” Hammond said. Western mainstream media is parroting such false and extreme presentations of events in Syria.

Enclosed are two articles and other, related reading examining the highly volatile situation in Syria as the nexus of the United States, European powers, reactionary Arab regimes and Turkey figure out their next steps.

The ‘gates of hell’ will open in the coming months in Syria

By Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai), English translation published on author’s website Middle East Politics , original in Arabic on Alrai Media, Feb 14, 2016

A high-ranking officer within the joint operations room in Damascus, which includes Russia, Iran and Syria and Hezbollah said, “There are three possible scenarios in Syria: The first is Arab  ground troops entering Syria from the Turkish borders, in the area under control of the so-called ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) on the long front from Jarablus to Al-Ra’ee. This can be possible and quickly achievable if a kind of an agreement is reached between Turkey and ISIS. After all, the Jihadist group has to face either the Turkish-Arab forces – that could allow a possible exit – or the Russian-Iranian-Hezbollah forces where there will be no exit.”

“The second scenario is through the Jordanian borders East of Syria up to Raqqa. A longer road but this would allow Saudi Arabia to bring its logistic and armoured support to push all the way to the ISIS-controlled land. In both scenarios, these troops, Arabs or Turkish-Arabs, would not clash or contact or even walk into the Russia-Damascus and allies military operational stage. The third scenario is that the Saudi are boosting the moral of the Jihadist so these don’t surrender easily and hold the ground for as long as possible”.

The source said: “Any scenario is linked to the will of the United States to be engaged in a war in Syria. This is exactly what the Saudi officials said. The U.S. is sending the AWACS aircraft because any U.S. direct intervention on the ground is totally excluded. This could be the U.S. contribution, along the diplomatic effort in Geneva. Nevertheless, we build our military reaction based on the strong possibility that the Arab ground troops are most likely to invade Syria. These forces, under the title of defeating ISIS, won’t reach Raqqa overnight. Logistic support and troops movement from Jordan into Syria require between three to four months to be completed. These forces, in this case, are expected to advance from Jordan, into al-Badiyah and continue up north toward Raqqa, the northern Syrian city, as a possible scenario. Any potential contact with the Syrian forces could lead to a larger war”.

“We do not exclude the fact that Saudi Special Forces could act behind ISIS lines to guide airstrikes or carry small scale attacks. Nonetheless, these forces cannot contribute to defeat ISIS but in directing specific targets. Any attack that could weaken ISIS is considered to our advantage. The U.S. led coalition can bomb ISIS any time but no ground troops would be welcome. Moreover, no jet is allowed to enter the Syrian space without prior coordination with Russia, otherwise it will be considered as a potential target. This is also another fact to consider. Therefore, no one is willing to see a large scale war, mainly President Obama who has avoided to be entangled in the Syrian war for the last two years”.

Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev [speaking to Munich Security Conference on Feb 13, 2016, link to full speech below] said, “all parties should sit down at the negotiating table instead of causing an outbreak of a new world war”, warning of the drum of war in Syria. The Russian warning came after the confirmation of a spokesman for the Saudi Defense minister Ahmad Asiri that “the Saudi Kingdom has announced the establishment of the new Islamist alliance to fight terrorism and is ready to carry out air and ground operations within the international coalition led by the United States in Syria.”

Map of Syria, showing Raqqa“The aim of the Arab forces is to divide Syria is two parts, western and eastern, similar to what happened in Berlin after World War II. In the first part, the Syrian army will continue fighting al-Qaeda and its allies with the support of Russia. While in the second part, the Arabs would establish their forces to impose a political change and could destabilise the regime. In the meantime, the regime forces are at 60km from Raqqa, while, Turkey is at 180 km from ISIS main city. Therefore, if the idea to defeat ISIS is genuine, the U.S led coalition doesn’t need to intervene and walk all this distance from Turkey or Jordan to Raqqa. However, The race to Raqqa is declared, with the possibility or without the possibility of an Arab-Turkish intervention”.

According to the source “the gates of hell will be open in the next 3 months in Syria against al-Qaeda and its allies and also against ISIS. As agreed in Geneva between Russia and the United States, any cease-fire shall not include Jihadists and their allies. If Syrian opposition do not disengage from al-Qaeda, they are legitimate targets because they become united as one group and dealt with accordingly”.

Al-qaeda in Syria, known as Jabhat al-Nusra, is part of Jaish al-fateh, a coalition of many Syrian groups operating in northern Syria. Al-Qaeda and Jihadist movements are sending reinforcement to northern Aleppo in the last 48 hours, but used to maintain a strong presence around Nubbl and Zahraa, the two cities where Russia and its allies broke the siege imposed for over three and a half years. Al-Qaeda fighters pulled back toward the north of Aleppo fighting in Tal-Rifaat and others toward the south of Zahraa where they are fighting in Andan and Hay’yan.

According to the source, human and signal intelligence confirmed that “Saudi Arabia has asked Syrian opposition associated and not-associated with al-Qaeda not to waive any proposition in the Geneva negotiations and not to hand over any city in Syria without fighting. Time is crucial and Saudi Arabia will continue its military support to the opposition, waiting for a new U.S. to be elected. The battle is expected to be more intense where everybody is holding the ground which indicates that the war is still far form being over”

Six thousand of the Al-Sabereen Unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in Aleppo

By Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai), English translation published on author’s website Middle East Politics, original in Arabic on Alrai Media, Feb 14, 2016

Iran is sending more special forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to Syria. Military planes are landing in Damascus and Aleppo airports respectively carrying 6,000 officers and soldiers of the Sabereen Unit to support the on-going ground offensive in Syria. The Lebanese Hezbollah is also injecting fresh forces to the same area where also the Syrian Kurds are advancing against Salafist Jihadist led by al-Qaeda in Syria, also known as Jabhat al-Nusra, and their allies. Russia, the leading force dominating the Syrian sky, wants to guarantee a seat to the Kurds where Turkey and Saudi Arabia rejected their presence around the negotiation table of Geneva peace talk, expected to regain meeting by the end of this month of February. Iran and Russia are determined to change the map of Syria to the advantage of Damascus before the end of this coming summer. Cities are surrendering without fight like Dayr Jamal, and others, like Tal-Refaat, are negotiating an exit to rebels to avoid the destruction of their city.

A high-ranking military officer operating in Syria said, “The Sabereen unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards operating in large numbers of Aleppo outskirts  was established more than ten years ago in Iran and selected as a Special Elite Forces. They are trained to participate to warfare combat, to penetrate deep into and behind enemy lines and above all to fight Jihadists. These are the spearhead against al-Qaeda in northern and western districts of Aleppo and in the eastern districts against the so-called ‘Islamic State’. Over 47 officers and soldiers are reported killed in the last Aleppo offensive.”

“An Iranian misinformation campaign in the last few months deceived mainstream media who believed its forces were withdrawing from Syria. Military transport aircraft were conveying fresh troops to Aleppo to plan the breakage of the blockade around Nubbl and Zahra, the two northern Shia cities besieged for over three years by al-Qaeda and its allies. Following the downing of the Russian SU-24 jet over the Turkish-Syrian borders by Turkey last year, Russia reshuffled its military plans to get much deeper involved in Syria and aim to cut all supply lines and link between the Jihadist and their safe heaven in Turkey. Therefore, plans were drawn to control the borders starting from Latakia, where the military offensive is advancing rapidly and from the north of Aleppo. An operational room was established in Aleppo to direct the northern and the southern fronts where Al-Sabereen unit is mainly engaged”.

According to the source, “When Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates expressed their will to send a military force to Syria, as agreed with the United States of America, the answer came from the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Major General Mohammad Ali Ja’fari. His forces are directly involved on the ground in the north against al-Qaeda (Nusra) and the northeast against ISIS. This means the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah will be face to face with any troops landing in their operational area without any coordination with Damascus. The Iranian military operational room is in charge of recovering the bordering area between Turkey and Syria and to fight against any enemy force with the exception of the Kurds and their allies, considered non-enemy forces”.

“The battle of Ratyan [village northwest of Aleppo, captured by Syrian gov’t on Feb 5, 2016] was a real turning point in the northern campaign. It was the most defended city and the heart of al-Qaeda and its allies, fortified since years above and under the ground. It was also the operational centre leading the siege around Nubbl and Zahraa and the northern front. The Russian Air Force destroyed these fortifications and killed hundreds of Jihadists, according to their own count. The fall of Ratyan set an example to other northern cities that are negotiating a surrender term without fighting.

“This is what happened in Deyr Jamal, Alqamiyah and Kfarnaya, at the outskirt of Tal-refaat, the last city before Azaz and through it to the Turkish borders. Tal Refaat is also negotiating surrender with the advancing forces. Forces are finding cities already abandoned but well fortified with several long tunnels and weapons left behind. With the breakage of the siege, thousands of fighters protecting the two cities were divided to the northern and to the southern fronts. It helped increasing the strength of the spear-head units and giving a unique opportunity to the advancing forces against al-Qaeda and its allies”.

“Russia, Iran and Hezbollah aim to change the military geographic map of Syria to their advantage before the end of this coming summer. The one billion dollars invested by Saudi Arabia to offer 13,000 TOW anti-Tank guided missiles helped only to increase the destruction of the Syrian cities. Instead of pushing ground-armoured troops, Russia is using its air force to destroy any resistance and Iran is sending more infantry, relying less on tanks. Hence the need to inject more specialised troops to fulfill important military objectives, planned in the next six months. These forces, from Iran and Hezbollah, are still coming in large numbers to respond to future military plans”.

“Russia is also aiming to impose a de facto situation on the Geneva peace talks by supporting the advance of the Kurdish forces in the northern front to the Turkish borders. Turkey and Saudi Arabia can no longer ignore the Kurds, mainly following their control in Aleppo region of Kiffin, Dayr Jamal and other cities, joining already controlled area. Rejecting their participation is against any logic. As the Kurds control now a large front – and are expected to control more land – the international community can no longer accept the Turkish-Saudi blackmail. The Kurds are an essential partner and will be part of a comprehensive solution to the Syrian war”, the source concluded.

Read also:
Turkey and Saudi Arabia consider ground campaign in Syria following border strikes, AFP, in The Guardian, Feb 14, 2016

Damascus confirms its army targeted by Turkish shelling, complains to UN, RT.com, Feb 13, 2016

Turkish shelling also struck Kurdish positions

Five reasons to believe why Turkey wants no peace in Syria, RT.com, Feb 14, 2016

At talks in Munich, world powers agree on ‘cessation of hostilities’ in Syria in one week, report on New Cold War.org, Feb 12, 2016

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