In Multipolarity, Sept 18, 2016  (with video of Vitaly Churkin speaking in English to media following Sept 17 UN Security Council meeting)

Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the United Nations, speaking to media on Sept 17, 2016 (RT screenshot)

Vitaly Churkin, Russian ambassador to the United Nations, speaking to media on Sept 17, 2016 (RT screenshot)

The U.S.’ sudden attempt to “help” the Syrian army fighting ISIS in the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, which resulted in a strike that killed and injured dozens of soldiers, does not look like an honest mistake, Russia’s UN envoy told journalists at the UNSC meeting.

“It is highly suspicious that the United States chose to conduct this particular air strike at this time,” Russia’s ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.

Churkin questioned why the U.S. suddenly chose to “help” the Syrian army defend Deir ez-Zor after all these years, recalling how American forces just observed terrorists’ movements and did “nothing when ISIS advanced on Palmyra.”

“It was quite significant and not accidental that it happened just two days before the Russian-American arrangements were supposed to come into full force,” Churkin added.

Churkin also questioned why the U.S. decided to classify and not share with the public or even members of the Security Council the text of the U.S.-Russia deal reached in Geneva, before reading out two passages from the document.

The preamble of the document signed by both nations on September 9 read that the U.S. and Russia are prepared to undertake “joint efforts” to stabilize the situation in Syria with special emphasis on the Aleppo region,and would separate moderate opposition forces from those of Al-Nusra. The second passage, presented by Churkin, read that the purpose of the Joint Implementation Group (JIG) is to “enable expanded coordination” between the U.S. and Russia to work together to defeat Jabhat Al-Nusra and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and support the political transition process.

“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.

He also noted that the U.S. has been voicing its concern over the humanitarian situation in Syria, claiming that because of it, “there are no conditions to start implementing the arrangements of the Joint Implementation Group.” But the Syrian government cleared all obstacles for the humanitarian aid it be delivered, leaving the U.S. with “no serious ground” to halt or postpone the start date of the JIG’s work.

“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.”

‘Unbelievable’ that U.S. strike on Syrian army was mistake – former MI5 agent, Sept 17, 2016

The U.S. must cooperate with Russia on intelligence matters in Syria, former MI5 agent Annie Machon told RT, expressing doubt over Washington’s explanation for the “unintentional” raid which killed over 60 Syrian soldiers on ISIS’ frontline.

“Russia has better human intelligence on the ground because it is cooperating, it is working with the Syrian authorities. So they have access to proper human intelligence, which is much better than the Americans tend to use, which is satellite surveillance and electronic surveillance,” Machon said.

Cooperation with Russians is “vital” in Syria because of the ever-changing battlefield situation on the ground, which US forces cannot grasp from the air, as they are not working with the government in Damascus. Without this cooperation, Machon fears, the ceasefire achieved by both sides on Monday could falter without securing its main objective.

Commenting on the actual U.S. strikes which killed at least 62 Syrian soldiers and wounded around 100 others near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, on the front line of the struggle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Machon hinted that Washington’s decision to attack Syrian forces was likely premeditated.

“I find it slightly unbelievable that the Americans could hit this target thinking this was ISIS when in fact ISIS is laying siege to the city. And the Syrian forces for years now have been known to be holed up in that city. So it seems just strange that the Americans are just saying it was a bit of a mistake,” Machon told RT.

The former MI5 agent pointed out that Russian role in Syria is clear while the U.S. policymakers are “divided” over their objectives in Syria.

“We have some of the military that say they really need to go after ISIS, that that is the threat to the whole West. They want to work with Russia. Yet there is still this hawkish, neocon political approach which really just still wants to get rid of Assad for other strategic reasons, like supporting the regional American allies like Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East.”

Machon recalled a PBS interview last month during which former CIA deputy director Michael Morell who told host Charlie Rose that Damascus – as well as Iran and Russia – should “pay a big price” in term of casualties in Syria. [Report here.] Ahead of the US presidential election, Machon wondered if Saturday’s strikes stemmed from Morell’s views, who is a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton.

“He [Morell] was advocating the bombing of Assad, not to kill him, to scare him. So I’m wondering if there are elements within the U.S. power structure that are actually going ahead … [with] this sort of plan and bombing Assad’s military forces to scare him, to scare the Russians, to just try to make the point. And they are actually carrying this out already, rather than it just being a wish list from the former acting [deputy] director of the CIA.”

Another interpretation of the reasons behind the U.S. strikes on Syrian army positions, Machon believes, could be to “reassure the so-called moderates,” who are funded and trained by the U.S., that Washington still supports them.

“So if indeed this was a planned air strike and it was indeed there to reassure the so-called moderate groups, that would make sense,” she explained.

If that is the case, Machon says that “Americans are dealing with fire” because the so-called moderate rebels often defect to Jihadist groups along with the military hardware provided by the U.S. to fight against American forces and interests on the ground.

Annie Machon is a former intel­li­gence officer for MI5, the UK Secur­ity Ser­vice, who resigned in the late 1990s to blow the whistle on the spies’ incom­pet­ence and crimes with her ex-partner, David Shayler.


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