In Multipolarity

News compilation on New Cold, Sept 18, 2016

Enclosed are four news articles from containing news and background to the air strike by U.S. warplanes in eastern Syria on Sept 17, 2016 that killed at least 62 soldiers of the Syrian army.

Western mainstream media is whitewashing the murderous provocation by quickly calling it, variously, an “apparently errant airstrike” (Associated Press), “accidental bombing” (New York Times), “errant strike” (Washington Post), and “mistakenly killed Syrian army troops” (Guardian), etc.

The precise terms of the U.S.-Russia agreement have been kept secret, though Russia now proposes that they be made public. On Sept 17 in New York, where the UN Security Council met to discuss the bombing, Russia’s ambassador to the UN spoke at length to journalists and read two clauses of the agreement.

U.S. strike on Syrian Army borders between negligence & assisting ISIS – Moscow, Sept 18,  2016

Image of U.S. warplanes

Image of U.S. warplanes

The U.S.-led coalition air strikes on the Syrian Army positions near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor on September 17 borders between “gross negligence” and “direct assistance” to ISIS militants, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“The coalition pilots’ actions – if they, as we hope, were not ordered by Washington – were on the edge between gross negligence and direct assistance to Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] terrorists,” the ministry’s statement said.

The air strike that killed 62 Syrian soldiers outside the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor on Saturday was “inevitable given the stubborn refusal by the U.S. to cooperate with Russia in combatting IS, Jabhat al-Nusra and other affiliated terrorist groups,” it states.

From a report on CNN on Sept 17, 2016: “The Russian military said 62 Syrian soldiers were killed near Deir ez-Zor Airport, according to state media. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 83 and said at least 120 soldiers were wounded.” And note in the same CNN report: “The strike occurred Saturday in an eastern part of Syria that is not a part of a delicate and nearly week-old ceasefire.”

The air strikes against the Syrian Army’s positions were conducted by two F-16 fighter jets and two A-10 ground attack aircraft, the Russian Defense Ministry said earlier on Saturday. Syrian SANA news agency reported than an Islamic State offensive started shortly after Syrian Army positions were attacked from the air.

Map of Syria showing Deir Ezzor

Map of Syria showing Deir Ezzor

Russia is gravely concerned by the fact that the air strikes took place amid multiple documented cases of the nationwide ceasefire being violated by the Syrian rebels, the Foreign Ministry added.

“Again, we call on Washington to put pressure on the U.S.-controlled militants to ensure that they respect the ceasefire conditions. Otherwise, the entire set of Russia-U.S. arrangements made in Geneva on September 9 might be endangered, which is contrary to the interests of the international community.”

‘Take a trip to Syria to see what “embarrassed” means’: Russia’s Zakharova to U.S.’ Samantha Power, Sunday, Sept 18, 2016

Maria Zakharova (L) and Samantha Power (photos by Sputnik and Reuters)

Maria Zakharova (L) and Samantha Power (photos by Sputnik and Reuters)

The spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, has invited the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations  to visit Syria and see firsthand what “embarrassed” means. This comes after Samantha Power, lashed out at Moscow for hinting the U.S. supports IS after coalition airstrikes hit the Syrian Army on Saturday.

During a speech on September 17 at an emergency UN Security Council meeting called by Russia to discuss the deadly airstrikes delivered by the U.S.-led coalition, Power said that Moscow’s representative should be “embarrassed” for her words suggesting that the strike indicated that Washington is defending Islamic State (IS, former ISIS, ISIL) terrorists.

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the strike near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor that killed 62 Syrian soldiers bordered between “gross negligence” and “direct assistance” to IS.

In response to Power’s accusations, Zakharova wrote on Facebook: “Dear Samantha Power, in order to know the meaning of the word “embarrassed,” I highly encourage you to travel to Syria and talk to the people there for yourself. And by that I do not mean the Al-Nusra Front militants, nor the moderate opposition, whose humanitarian situation Washington seems to be so worried about.

“I likewise am not referring to the Western warriors for justice for Syria. I’m referring to the actual people that continue to live there in spite of the bloody experiment that has been waged on their homeland for over six years, with active participation by Washington.”

The Moscow representative went on to say she herself is in constant communication with people on the ground, which includes both opposition forces dispersed across Syrian towns and orphaned children left in the wake of the fighting there.

“Let’s go there together,” she said, promising she would shoulder the expenses of Power’s Syria trip.

“Do say yes. Don’t be frightened. Nobody will lay a finger on you in my presence. Unless, of course, your guys don’t again ‘mistakenly’ strike the wrong target.  You’ll make lots of new memories. And find out what ‘embarrassed’ means in the process,” the Moscow representative added.

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said on Saturday that four air strikes had been carried out by the US-led anti-ISIS coalition near Deir ez-Zor, where Syrian units had been surrounded by IS terrorists.

Russia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin has questioned the “joint efforts” the two countries were to undertake to stabilize the violent situation and ensure delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged areas. [Story here.]

Accompanying the Joint Implementation Group (JIG) document signed by both parties to streamline cooperation on the ground, Churkin issued the following statement:

“The beginning of work of the Joint Implementation Group was supposed to be September 19. So if the U.S. wanted to conduct an effective strike on Al-Nusra or ISIS, in Deir ez-Zor or anywhere else, they could wait two more days and coordinate with our military and be sure that they are striking the right people.”

“Instead, they chose to conduct this reckless operation,” Churkin said. “So it may well be, one has to conclude, that the airstrike has been conducted in order to derail the operation of the Joint Implementation Group and actually prevent it from being set in motion,” Churkin said. “It may well be that the United States is trying to hide the fact that they are actually not in control of the situation, that they allowed the situation to get out of control.”

Putin: Terrorists use Syria ceasefire to try & regroup, Sept, 2016

Terrorists groups, which Russia expected to be separated from ‘moderate rebels’ with U.S. help, and be subject to joint U.S.-Russian attacks, are instead using the ongoing ceasefire to regroup, the Russian president said.

“We agreed that the Al-Nusra Front and the likes of it would be separated from the so-called healthy opposition factions, and we would be shown where the latter are located. But what we see today is not separation of the healthy part of the opposition and the terrorists. We see terrorist forces trying to regroup.” Vladimir Putin told journalists on Saturday.

Moscow and Washington agreed last week to use their influence on the Syrian government and the so-called moderate rebel forces respectively to establish a ceasefire in the war-torn country. While violence diminished, progress is undermined by violations.

Russia has repeatedly complained that the U.S. is failing to keep its part of the bargain and stop the mingling of armed groups, which genuinely want peace in Syria, and those which want the hostilities to continue.

The U.S. for its part accused Russia of not pressuring Damascus enough to facilitate humanitarian access to Syria. The Syrian government cited the danger posed by continued shelling by non-compliant rebel forces as the reason why humanitarian convoys were not allowed to pass through.

Putin said that despite the set-backs, Moscow is hopeful that this attempt at reconciliation in Syria would succeed.

“We are more positive than negative and expect that the promises, which the U.S. administration made to us, would be delivered,” he said.

The two nations are also at odds over another key issue. Moscow says it wants the terms of the U.S.-Russian deal to be made public and endorsed in a UN Security Council resolution. Washington insists that the terms should remain classified, saying that otherwise the truce could be derailed.

U.S. & U.S.-controlled forces haven’t fulfilled any Syria ceasefire deal obligations – Russian Army, Sept 17, 2016

The U.S. is still reluctant to take measures to force rebels under its control to implement the Syrian ceasefire, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, adding that if things do not change, Washington will be the sole side responsible for the failure of the truce.

“After five days of the ceasefire, it has to be noted that only the Russian and Syrian sides have been fully implementing their commitments. On its own initiative, Russia prolonged the cessation of hostilities for 48 hours, and yesterday it was extended for another 72 hours,” senior Russian General Staff official, Viktor Poznikhir, said at a briefing in Moscow.

But, according to Poznikhir, it is very different on the American side as “the U.S. and the so-called moderate groups under their control didn’t fulfill a single commitment undertaken in the framework of the Geneva arrangements.”

The Russian official pointed out that “the main priority of the Russian-American agreements of September was the division of territories controlled by IS (Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Jabhat al-Nusra, and the areas controlled by the ‘moderate opposition,’ as well the separation of the ‘moderate opposition’ from Jabhat al-Nusra.”

Such a division is essential for the implementation of the ceasefire in Syria because “without it, the hands of the government forces are tied. They can’t fight the terrorists without knowing which of them joined the truce and who didn’t,” he explained.

Numerous Russian appeals to the American side remain unanswered, which “raises doubts over the U.S.’s ability to influence opposition groups under their control and their willingness to further ensure the implementation of the Geneva agreements.

“Russia is making every possible effort to hold off government troops from the use of force in return [to opposition attacks]. If the U.S. does not implement the necessary measures to fulfill their obligations under the September 9 agreements, the responsibility for the failure of the ceasefire will be solely America’s,” Poznikhir said.

The inaction of the American side has already led to a worsening of the situation in Syria, the General Staff official stressed.

“Tensions are rising in Syria, especially in the provinces of Aleppo and Hama, where opposition groups are using the cessation of hostilities to regroup forces, refill their stocks of ammunition and weapons and are preparing an offensive in order to capture new territories,” he said.

“In the past 24 hours, the number of attacks has increased drastically. The positions of government troops, the people’s militia, and civilians were fired at on 55 occasions,” Poznikhir added.

Last week, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, agreed to influence the Syrian government and the so-called moderate rebel forces respectively in order to establish a ceasefire in the country.

Since then, Russia has repeatedly complained that the U.S. is failing to keep its part of the bargain. While the U.S., on its part, blamed Russia for not pressuring Damascus enough to facilitate humanitarian access to Syria.

Lavrov talked to Kerry on the phone Saturday, urging Washington to start influencing the opposition in Syria in order to expand humanitarian access in the country, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The FM also called on the American side to actively participate in monitoring the Syrian ceasefire instead of merely accusing Syrian government forces of violations.

“Due to Washington’s continuing claims of ceasefire violations by the Syrian government forces, the Russian Foreign Minister urged them to go beyond accusations and to ensure the U.S. military’s full-fledged participation in the ceasefire control mechanism created as far back as February and March and to take action against violations,” the ministry said in a statement.

Lavrov also stressed that “as result of Russia’s efforts, the issues of putting on track cooperation between the Syrian authorities and the United Nations in the area of broader humanitarian access are being solved, though not without difficulty.”

Related news:
U.S. strike on Syrian army suggest intentional provocation says Russian ambassador to UN,, Sept 18, 2016

As Syria ceasefire strains, Russia wants details of agreement released and UN Security Council will discuss next week, New Cold, Sept 15, 2016


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