Thursday, 3 March 2016

Report from Syria/Tukey - 02/02/2016

Exclusive: Rebels use refugee camps in Turkey to attack northern Latakia
On Wednesday, footage of Turkmen fighters operating a T-55 Tank inside an unknown refugee camp on the Turkish-Syrian border was posted by opposition activists, revealing the extensive use of humanitarian sites by rebel forces near the Latakia Governorate. 

However, the use of refugee camps by the opposition forces is not a new development, according to Aldin Abazovic (Twitter @Ald_Aba). 

Abazovic shared satellite images from 2013 with Al-Masdar News that revealed the construction and location of several camps along the Turkish-Latakia border. 

One of the first images shown to Al-Masdar News reveals a road constructed between 2011-2013 near a large camp on the Turkish border. 

Another satellite image shows a Turkish border post right next to a number of hidden supply trucks. 

As the satellite zooms out, 5 more camps are discovered along the Turkish-Latakia border. 

A closer look at one of these camps reveals more supply trucks and tents near the Turkish-Latakia border; in fact, this camp is only a few hundred meters from the border. 

Another camp is revealed with larger tents and a greater excavated area. 

One of Al-Masdar’s journalists Ian Grant was able to geo-locate a number of IDP refugee camps in northern Latakia: | Al-Masdar News

 The Al-Yamadi Camp was bombed by the Russian Air Force last month; it sparked outrage from the Syrian Opposition activists until it was revealed that Jabhat Al-Nusra (Syrian Al-Qaeda group) was operating inside of it. 

Grant was able to locate another questionable site in northern Latakia that is believed to be another camp used by the rebels: | Al-Masdar News

A tweet from a Twitter user with the name @BM21_grad shows more pictures of rebel fighters inside these camp: 

What this information illuminates is the reason behind the Turkish regime’s intentions to implement a no-fly-zone inside Syria. 

As long as the Russian and Syrian air forces bombard these border camps, the greater the rebel dependence on Turkey for protection.

HMEYMIN AIR BASE /Syria/, March 2 /TASS/. The Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria continues receiving reports on artillery shellings from the Turkish territory, the center’s head, Lieutenant General Sergey Kuralenko, told journalists on Wednesday.

"The Russian center continues receiving information from the Syrian General Staff and Kurdish units supporting the cessation of hostilities in Syria on the ongoing artillery shelling from the Turkish territory," Kuralenko said.

"We regard Turkey’s actions as openly provocative and aimed at disrupting the ceasefire regime and the reconciliation process in the Syrian Arab Republic," Kuralenko stressed.

He added that the Russian center had checked the information provided by the Geneva-based working group on incidents linked to the shelling of positions of opposition units.

The general clarified that the Russian warplanes were not delivering air strikes at the armed units that had supported the cessation of hostilities and had informed the Russian or US center of their locations.

Suspicious Weapon Shipment from Turkey to Lebanon SEIZED as Saudis Call Hezbollah ‘Terrorists’

Was a coup d’état just inadvertently avoided in Lebanon thanks to Greek port authorities?

Watch a video of this report here:

According to both Turkish and Greek sources, a cargo ship containing thousands of guns, ammunition, and explosives has been seized by Greek port authorities.

The ship, called “Kukui Boy”, flying the flag of Togo, a small African nation next to Ghana, had left a port in Izmir, Turkey, and was bound for Lebanon and then the south-eastern coast of Africa. It had an 11 man crew, including six people from Syria, four from India, and one from Lebanon.

The port authority of Chania, Greece seized the ship after it refused a warning to stop and officials determined that two of its six containers onboard were suspicious.

Upon further inspection, Greek authorities claimed that supporting documents were available for some, but not all of the weapons, however they could not be sure that they were authentic or that every weapons of the thousands on board had been properly accounted for.

Interestingly, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) today issued a formal declaration that decried Lebanon’s ruling political party and military group Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.

The GCC is a Sunni-dominated organisation, comprising Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, countries which have also placed their support firmly behind the jihadist terrorists throughout Syria trying to overthrow Assad’s government.

Hezbollah on the other hand, a Shia group supported by Iran, has supported the Syrian government in its war against terror, and the always colourful Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, openly attacked Saudi Arabia for its war of aggression against Yemen just yesterday:

The kingdom is trying to put pressure on the Lebanese to try to silent us but we will not be silent on the crimes the Saudis are committing in Yemen and elsewhere,”

Does Saudi Arabia have the right to punish Lebanon, its state and its army because a certain party has decided to raise its voice?”

If they have a problem with us, let them keep it with us, and let them spare Lebanon and the Lebanese.

Could it be possible that this rogue cargo ship, bound for Lebanon, was carrying the weapons meant to be used in an uprising or coup d’état against Hezbollah?

The timing is seemingly perfect, and Saudi Arabia would likely claim that the people of Lebanon were rising up to destroy what they claim is a ‘terrorist group’.

A calculation of shipping routes suggests that it would take a little over two days to reach Beirut from Chania, meaning any potential violence could have erupted tomorrow at the earliest, the very day after the GCC’s declaration.

Turkey’s involvement in supporting terrorism in Syria means one does not have to make any great leap of faith to see that they would likely be involved in such a plot.

Turkey is essentially, for all intents and purposes, allied with Saudi Arabia when it comes to trying to overthrow Assad, so they too would have motive for wanting Hezbollah out of the picture.

Was a coup d’état just inadvertently avoided in Lebanon thanks to Greek port authorities?



1 March, 2016

The rogue nation of Turkey is at it again, as usual NATO does nothing to stop them. Turkey’s “provocative” military development on the outskirt and shelling of the Syrian domain could defeat the ceasefire and disturb the peace process in the Bedouin Republic, said the leader of the Russian truce checking focus Lt. Gen. Sergey Kuralenko.

Turkey is reinforcing its military positions on the outskirt with Syria and is gathering protected vehicles in the zone, Lieutenant General Kuralenko said, censuring these moves as “clearly provocative steps that could prompt a breakdown of the truce and the peace process in Syria.”
The Russian military has analyzed footage taken by a Russian television team close to the Syrian city of Tel Abyad found not a long way from the Turkish outskirt, which exhibited Ankara’s military “sorting out terminating positions and thinking heavily clad vehicles close to the fringe,” Kuralenko said.
The leader of the Russian truce observing focus additionally examined the principal consequences of the détente with his US partner and they both communicated fulfillment with the joint endeavors. “We examined the principal aftereffects of the truce and meant fulfillment with the deliberate endeavors,” Kuralenko advised columnists alluding to a phone discussion with delegates of the US truce observing focus in Amman.
Meanwhile, Russian flying machine did a few air strikes against Al-Nusra front aggressors to “balance out the circumstance” in the areas north of the city of Aleppo, as indicated by the Russian Protection Service.
Al-Nusra radicals were shelling the Syrian armed force positions from the Narb-Nafsa town found north of Aleppo. Accordingly, Russian Air Space Powers “completed rocket and bomb assaults against… Al Nusra units in the locale and hit positions of terrorists close Narb-Nafsa… ” the announcement said.
In the meantime, the Russian truce observing focus by and by focused on that Russian airplane directed no strikes against the gatherings which joined the détente.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that Moscow and Washington have worked out a component to find every single reported infringement of the truce in Syria through uniquely set up groups in Geneva and Amman. Kerry indicated that he and Lavrov concurred that the instrument ought to guarantee that any strikes in Syria target just Islamic State and Al Nusra Front.
We are going to find each affirmed infringement and work much all the more now to put set up a develop which will help us to ensure that missions are in fact missions against Nusra or missions against Daesh [the Arabic name for IS],” Kerry said at a news gathering with German Remote Priest Plain Walter Steinmeier.

Kerry's 'Plan B' sends message to 'moderate rebels': Keep fighting

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry © Gary Cameron
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry © Gary Cameron / Reuters

2 March, 2016

Washington's waffling on a ceasefire agreement shows it is not only lowering expectations about the success of the plan, but preparing for a contingency in its place, says Brian Becker, of the anti-war ANSWER coalition.

RT: Several days ago, John Kerry announced the possibility of Plan B for Syria which involves its partition. Was he serious? What else could this Plan B involve?

Brian Becker: I think we can see that John Kerry’s statement about a so-called ‘Plan B’ and then President Obama’s speech where he almost completely dashes expectations that Plan A - which is the ceasefire agreement between the US and Russia - could possibly succeed shows that the US government is systematically not only lowering expectations about the success of the ceasefire plan, but obviously preparing for a contingency.

When you look at that fact, that can only be a sign of encouragement by the Obama administration to the so-called moderate armed groups to keep fighting because the ceasefire isn’t the last deal, it’s not the real deal. If anything, the Obama administration has turned its back in terms of its rhetoric and its formulations on a commitment to the ceasefire, a commitment the they say they made earlier with the Russians, a commitment that the Syrian people desperately want and right now the Obama administration and President Obama himself said: 

‘The Russian intervention in Syria has made the humanitarian catastrophe worse’. Certainly, that’s not the way you would talk if the US was actually partnering with Russia for a ceasefire. 
Commenting on the ceasefire, journalist and author David Swanson told RT: "I think the doubts and the suspicions of the other parties may be self-fulfilling and may lead to a failure here as in the past. And I think it is clear that many in the US and in the other nations involved want it to fail, and want to be able to say: 'We tried this and now we are going to try something else' which in the view of Secretary Kerry is to partition Syria which he has no ability to do. He’s partitioned his conscious, it appears to me."

RT: The ceasefire came into effect. Why did Kerry even discuss a Plan B before it had a chance to succeed?

BB: The inference of Plan B is twofold. One is the possible fragmentation - that is, the partition of Syria - meaning the actual destruction Syria, a 10,000 year old civilization into fragments along ethno-sectarian lines, a consequence of a foreign-funded civil war that began in 2011. And the second feature of Plan B would be what the unnamed US official say is a more confrontational approach, meaning the escalation of military intervention on the part of the US, perhaps with Turkey, perhaps trying to contemplate a ‘no fly zone’ which, of course, is a military escalation by the US - not against ISIS, not against the terrorists - but in fact against the sovereign government of Bashar Assad.

Aleppo, Syria, February 10, 2016. © Abdalrhman Ismail
Aleppo, Syria, February 10, 2016. © Abdalrhman Ismail / Reuters
Michael Maloof, former senior security policy analyst in the office of the US Secretary of Defense,said: "I think there are going to be some elements from outside that are going to try and ensure that it is going to be a failure. I am thinking particularly of Saudi Arabia; it’s really not in their interest for the Assad regime to survive. The whole idea of a ceasefire is to get all sides to sit down and come to the negotiating table and work out elections, but that assumes of course Assad is going to be involved and that doesn’t bode well for countries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which have vowed to do away with Assad. And now they are marching troops to the borders – to me it is a provocation."

RT: Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says any Plan B is not an option.  How big a sticking point could this become for Washington and Moscow?

BB: The Plan B is a complete non-starter for the Russians because it means the negation of the ceasefire plan that the US and Russia have been negotiating for several months, first in Vienna, then Vienna 2 and in Geneva…For the US officials to say ‘plan A is probably not going to work’, it means that they are doing everything possible to undermine its success. Why not say if they are honest, earnest and genuine about the ceasefire that they are fully committed to it? Why walk back and start talking about Plan B before Plan A even had a chance to go into effect? It shows a lack of the commitment, a lack of seriousness on part of the Obama administration.

NATO heightens threat of war with Russia by starting new operation in Aegean Sea

Johannes Stern

A NATO convoy under German leadership is to begin operations in the Aegean Sea in the next few days, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen said Thursday.,
29 February, 2016

World Socialist Web Site

The official goal of the mission is the complete closure of the Aegean to refugees, militarily strengthening "Fortress Europe" against refugees from the war zones in the Middle East. The dispatch of warships to the strategic Aegean Sea also heightens the risk of NATO intervention in the Syrian civil war and war with Russia.

Stoltenberg said in a press release that the goal of NATO was "the disruption of the routes used by smugglers and for illegal migration in the Aegean." He boasted that the ships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG 2) had already arrived in the mission area 48 hours after the decision of NATO defence ministers was taken two weeks ago. Now it was a matter of collectively finding "solutions" for the "crisis."

By "solutions" of the refugee crisis, Stoltenberg and NATO mean the military strengthening of the Greek and Turkish coast guard and the European border protection agency Frontex in order to detect and stop refugee boats, also possibly forcing them back.

Stoltenberg said, "Our ships will provide information for the Greek and Turkish coast guard and other national authorities, allowing them to act even more effectively against illegal trafficking networks. We will also establish direct connections to European Frontex ... so that it can do its 'job' more effectively."
In other words, Frontex, supported by NATO warships, should conduct its notorious "push-back" operations more intensively, i.e. a refugee boat being tracked should be "towed back where it came from—for example, to Turkey". German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière demanded this last December in an interview with Die Welt. Now it is official EU and NATO policy. Stoltenberg said, "If people are rescued who have come through Turkey, they will be returned to Turkey."

The operation comes from an initiative by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, agreed at a meeting of NATO defence ministers on 11 February.
Berlin is taking over the management of the NATO alliance. In a statement last Thursday, von der Leyen praised the NATO decision "under German leadership" as being "quick and clear". Last Friday, the German supply ship Bonn, which will lead the naval group, set off from the NATO base at Souda in Crete. On board was the German Commodore Jörg Klein, commander of SNMG 2.
With the military mission, the German government wants to "drastically and sustainably" reduce the number of refugees coming to Greece via Turkey, as de Maizière declared on the periphery of an EU meeting in Brussels. This should happen by March 7. Then a special EU summit would take place attended by Turkey.

The official goal of the Merkel government is to commit the Erdogan regime to a dirty deal on fully closing the borders for refugees and to detain refugee boats before they can even leave Turkey. As "compensation", the German government will provide financial support to Ankara. Last week in a government statement,
 Merkel reaffirmed her support for a no-fly zone in Syria, a central demand of the Erdogan government and an important condition for Ankara's military invasion of Syria.
The NATO mission in the Aegean not only entails increased support for Turkey's war drive against the Kurds and the Syrian government, but is a direct part of the NATO war preparations against Russia.

An official NATO report indicates that the SNMG 2 force had conducted "
intensive operations with the Turkish Navy" in early February. This included carrying out air defence operations, submarine war operations and live firing exercises (GUNEX). Turkish F-16 fighter jets were also involved in the exercise.

According to Klein, the aim was to develop the force's "own abilities" and "to consolidate a team" out of the units. As well as the German flagship, the "team" that he is currently leading in the Aegean includes two heavily armed frigates, the Canadian vessel HMCS Fredericton and the Greek ship Salamis (F-455), and a Turkish warship. The SNMG 2 group is part of the NATO Response Force (NRF), the NATO rapid reaction force, which was systematically upgraded last year against Russia.

The location and organisation of the exercise alone underscore what NATO is preparing. Russia is currently the only power that is active in the region with larger naval units and warplanes, and is considered as an enemy by NATO. The Russian Air Force is supporting Syria's Assad regime being combatted by the West, and 
warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet regularly transit the Aegean between their home ports in the Crimea and Tartus in Syria, where the only Russian naval base is located in the Mediterranean Sea.
The increasing NATO presence in the Aegean heightens the risk of a direct clash between NATO and Russia. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, there was a near-collision off the Greek island of Lemnos in December, between a Turkish fishing boat and the Russian destroyer Smetliwij. Russia regarded the incident as a deliberate provocation by the Turkish Navy, and summoned the Turkish military attaché in Moscow. Since the shooting down of a Russian fighter jet by Turkey on November 24, 2015, tensions between Turkey and Russia have steadily increased.

In its latest edition, news weekly 
Der Spiegel describes the consequences, including those unintended, of the NATO mission. It says of the growing "risk of war between Russia and Turkey": "It is the year in which the world stands as close to a nuclear war as never before in the history of the Cold War. Provocations, red lines, which are crossed, airspace violations, a shot-down aircraft. A missile fired in error or a submarine commander who loses his nerve can trigger a world war."

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