I distrust the source but NOTHING would surprise me any more.
Obama Green Lights Turkey to Kill Former U.S. Soldiers Fighting ISIS
28 July, 2015
According to sources, over 40-50 U.S. soldiers are among the ranks of Kurds fighting the Islamic State. However, Turkey has long viewed Kurdish autonomy as a threat and have included Kurdish groups in their latest bombing attacks inside Syria.
And now, they have the White House’s blessing.
The Kurdish peshmerga, which has long been an ally of the United States, issued a statement about the White House’s move on their official Twitter account.
“Msg. to the American people and the US gov. : Is this a penalty because we fought against ISIS instead of the world?” one tweet read. “After the nuclear deal between Iran and US … Kurds= terrorists … Shiite militias (#PMF)= Forces to protect human rights.”
Read more: Conservative Tribune
Turkish jets struck camps belonging to Kurdish militants in northern Iraq this weekend. This was Turkey’s first strike on the Kurds since a 2013 peace deal.
Americans and British soldiers are fighting with Kurds against ISIS.
Msg. to the American people and the US gov. : Is this a penalty because we fought against ISIS instead of the world ? pic.twitter.com/YQYJmY2tls
— Peshmerga (@KURDISTAN_ARMY) July 26, 2015
After the nuclear deal between Iran and US Kurds= terrorists Shiite militias (#PMF) = Forces to protect human rights. pic.twitter.com/oBdnBiivly
— Peshmerga (@KURDISTAN_ARMY) July 26, 2015
No Friends but the Mountains: The Fate of the Kurds White House calls Kurdish force a terrorist group. #PKK#Turkey https://t.co/6rBobQrWLo
— Peshmerga (@KURDISTAN_ARMY) July 26, 2015
US Set to Deploy More Troops, Combat Aircraft to Turkey
The United States is looking to broaden its military presence in Turkey with more personnel and combat aircraft, in its effort to intensify fight against ISIL alongside Turkish armed forces, a Pentagon official announced Monday.
29 July, 2015
US Set to Deploy More Troops, Combat Aircraft to Turkey © Flickr/ US Air Force
According to an emerging cooperation program between Ankara and Washington, more troops and US warplanes and troops are set to deploy into Turkey, with the aim of battling more effectively ISIL militants’ strongholds along the Syrian border.
"We're talking about logistics… berthing and force protection and things like that," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesperson, said Monday.
The official declined to comment on the number of additional troops to be sent to Incirlik and — potentially — three other air bases in Turkey, but added that "you would need to have more people to do more operations."
According to the Pentagon, there are approximately 1,700 US personnel — mostly Air Force — based at Incirlik, near the border with Syria.
The US Department of Defense confirmed that talks with Turkey’s military to determine what forces and capabilities should be used in the joint operation are still ongoing.
"The purpose of the operation is to clear the border and close the border to Daesh (ISIL)," a senior Obama administration official earlier told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Ankara allowed Washington to use its air bases for airstrikes against ISIL, the foreign ministry said.
He also underscored that the US does not intend to create a specific "no-fly" zone in Syria along the Turkish border, which Ankara has long lobbied for, stressing instead that the agreement with Turkey will involve establishing an "ISIL-free zone," but that the US is "not committed to a specific zone per se."
Davis was similarly noncommittal when it came to the Pentagon’s current position on Syrian President Bashar Assad:
"We're not cooperating with the Assad regime nor are we waging war with the Assad regime," the spokesperson said.
Last week, the Turkish government announced it would permit US air strike operations against ISIL to fly out of Incirlik Air Base. While Ankara had previously tried to remain unengaged in the fight against the terrorist group, the death of 32 students in a suspected ISIL suicide bombing forced Ankara’s hand into reversing that policy.
On Friday, Turkey launched a two-front military campaign against ISIL militants in Syria and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) in northern Iraq and southeastern Turkey. The campaign involves airstrikes by F-16 fighter jets and shelling from within Turkish territory.
While the Turkish Air Force has been attacking Kurdish positions in Iraq and Turkey, the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia has proved a major military asset for US strikes against ISIL in Syria. This could become a serious obstacle for a full-scale joint military operation, as Turkey may deliberately veto any US activity perceived to be in favor of the Kurds, Middle East experts Neil Quilliam and Jonathan Friedman wrote for Reuters.
Kurdish Forces Seize North Syrian Town From ISIS
Town of Sarrin Was Key to Previous Kobani Offensives
27 July, 2015
Kurdish YPG forces are claiming a major victory today over ISIS in the Aleppo Province of northern Syria, saying they have taken the town of Sarrin, along the Euphrates River, from the Islamist forces, and are holding a key hill in the town.
Sarrin is comparatively small, only a few thousand people, but has been a staging point for ISIS in previous offensives against the Kurdish city of Kobani, and its capture seemingly makes the city more defensible than it had previously been.
What happens next remains to be seen, but concerns of another violent purge of locals must be growing tonight, as Kurdish fighters said the attack on the town was to avenge the ISIS bombing in the Turkish town of Suruc, and that they will “avenge our martyrs” in Sarrin.
As with most YPG gains in the area around Kobani, the Kurdish forces were backed by US airstrikes. The Turkish government has repeatedly complained about this, noting they classify the YPG as a terrorist organization and don’t want the US propping them up as a huge force in northern Syria.
End Draws Near For Syria's Assad As Putin's Patience "Wears
27 July, 2015
Early last month in, "The Noose Around Syria’s Assad Tightens" we outlined the latest developments in the country’s prolonged civil war. Here’s what we said then:
The US-led alliance realizes very well that as long as Assad has to fight three fronts: i.e., the Nusra Front in the northwestern province of Idlib and ever closer proximity to Syria's main infrastructure hub of Latakia, ISIS in the central part of the nation where militants recently took over the historic town of Palmyra, and the official "rebel" force in close proximity to Damascus, Assad's army will either eventually be obliterated or, more likely, mutiny and overthrow the president, putting the Ukraine scenario in play.
In short, the US and its Middle Eastern allies are simply playing the waiting game; watching for the opportune time to charge in and "liberate" Syria from whatever army manages to take Damascus first, at which point a puppet government will be promptly installed.
And make no mistake, the new, U.S.-backed regime will present itself as fiercely anti-militant and will be trotted out as Washington’s newest "partner" in the global war on terror. Of course behind the scenes the situation will likely resemble what happened in Yemen (Obama’s "model of success") where, according to one account, Abdullah Saleh and his lieutenants not only turned a blind eye to AQAP operations, but in fact played a direct role in facilitating al-Qaeda attacks even as the government accepted anti-terrorism financing from the US government.
Of course no one in Washington will care to know the details, as long as the new regime in Syria is receptive to things like piping Qatari natural gas to Europe via a long-stalled pipeline, a project which will do wonders for breaking Gazprom’s energy stranglehold and robbing Vladimir Putin of quite a bit of leverage in what is becoming an increasingly tense standoff with the EU over Ukraine.
On Sunday, Assad gave a speech in which he attempted to address concerns about the recent setbacks his army has suffered at the hands of the various groups fighting for control of the country. Here’s more from the LA Times’ Special correspondent Nabih Bulos reporting from Beirut:
Syrian President Bashar Assad delivered a sober assessment of the state of his forces on Sunday, acknowledging a manpower shortage and conceding troop withdrawals from some areas, but asserting that the military was not facing collapse.
"Are we giving up areas?" Assad asked as he posed a series of questions about the government's strategy. "Why do we lose other areas? ... And where is the army in some of the areas?"
The Syrian president endeavored to provide answers. But it was an open question whether his responses would reassure loyalists worried that the government could be losing its hold on the embattled country.
The president also thanked his allies — notably Iran — while taking the West to task for supporting “terrorists," the Syrian government's standard term for the armed opposition fighting to wrest control of the country.
The core areas under government control include the capital, Damascus, and the strategic corridor north to the cities of Homs and Hama and west to the Mediterranean coast, a pro-government stronghold.
Syrian authorities have been actively seeking to increase military recruitment in recent months, a sign of the shortage of fighters across a sprawling battlefield that stretches from the country’s northern fringes to its southern tip, and from its western borders to its eastern frontier.
In Damascus and other cities, prominent recruiting billboards depict stern-looking young men and women in full military gear exhorting others to enlist.
"Our army means all of us," declares one billboard.
Other signs posted prominently depict soldiers providing vital security for children and families.
Another billboard takes a more confrontational approach, asking a man who is watching a computer screen: "Sitting there and looking? What are you waiting for?"
The presidential speech comes as the thinly stretched Syrian army has suffered a string of setbacks in the last few months, squeezing government forces into defensive positions in Syria’s northwest and in the south.
Assad blamed the retreats on a lack of manpower, asserting that steps would need to be taken "to raise the [capacity] of the armed forces... primarily through calling the reserves in addition to recruits and volunteers."
One such step, Assad said, was the granting of an amnesty on Saturday to soldiers who had defected, so long as they had not joined armed opposition groups. The amnesty was also extended to draft dodgers, many of whom have left Syria to escape military service.
Despite conceding setbacks, Assad maintained a confident tone, insisting that Army recruitment numbers had increased in the last few months and that "there is no collapse... and we will be steadfast and will achieve the missions."
"Defeat ... does not exist in the dictionaries of the Syrian Arab army," he insisted.
Maybe not yet, but that could change quickly, especially if Assad were to lose the support of his most important ally, Vladimir Putin.
As we noted last month, the key outstanding question is this: what is the maximum pain level for Russia, which has the greatest vested interest in preserving the Assad regime?
We could have an answer to that very soon, as slumping commodities prices, falling demand from China (which was recently cited as the reason for "indefinite" delays to the Altai pipeline joint venture which would have delivered 30 bcm/y of Siberian gas to China), and economic sanctions from the West are squeezing Moscow and may ultimately prompt Putin to "consider the acceptability of other candidates" for the Syrian Presidency. Here’s WSJ with more:
And with Russia’s economy battered by a plunge in oil prices and Western sanctions, the government may be considering both the strategic and economic benefits of changing its stance on Mr. Assad.
But Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of a Kremlin foreign-policy advisory council, said Russian policy makers are likely considering possible alternatives to the Syrian president.
"They are looking at the acceptability of other candidates at this point," he said, adding that he had not heard any names.
If Moscow does provide an opening to broker a negotiated exit for Mr. Assad, it would be a dramatic turn in the conflict.
Mr. Assad’s other major international backer, Iran, shows no signs of wavering in its crucial military and financial support for the Syrian regime. But the long-sought nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers reached earlier this month has also opened up the possibility of broader political cooperation between Tehran and the West on other regional issues such as the war in Syria.
Hadi al-Bahra, a senior member of the Turkey-based opposition umbrella group the Syrian National Coalition, said his alliance discussed Mr. Assad’s political fate with Russian officials for the first time in a meeting last month led by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov. Ahmed Ramadan, another senior coalition member, also attended that meeting in the Turkish capital Ankara.
“We have been speaking with the Russians from the very beginning and we have not heard one word of criticism of Assad," Mr. Ramadan said. "But now, the Russians are discussing the alternatives with us."
In addition to the Syrian opposition, Mr. Assad’s regional adversaries such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey have argued his ouster is essential to resolve the Syrian conflict and halt the spread of Islamic State militants.
The Obama administration recently has pursued Russian cooperation on its goal of ousting the Assad regime based on intelligence assessments that the Syrian president is weakening. President Barack Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 25 and July 15 on an array of issues including Syria.
An exchange in a meeting last month between Mr. Putin and Syrian Foreign MinisterWalid al-Moallem suggested Moscow’s patience with Damascus might be running thin.
According to an official Russian transcript carried on the Kremlin’s website, Mr. Putin pointed out the regime’s recent military setbacks and suggested Mr. Assad join forces with regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Mr. Moallem said the idea was farfetched.
Russia has financial and political incentives to change course on backing Mr. Assad. The country has been politically isolated by Western sanctions. Lower oil prices and sanctions have taken a toll on the economy.
So, as the Assad regime weakens in the face of dwindling manpower and is forced to resort to a military recrutiment drive complete with billboards designed to shame men into taking up arms against the various armies competing to conquer Damascus, Russia has not only seen the writing on the wall, but may be prepared to finally cut Assad loose. As for what happens next, see here.
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Full Assad speech from Sunday
CrossTalk: Neocon Retreat?
As the Iran deal becomes a reality, Washington’s neoconservatives and their allies are bristling. A sanctioned and isolated Iran had long been one of their policy pillars. This is no longer the case. The neocon agenda has experienced a major setback. Is this a temporary reversal or a stunning defeat? CrossTalking with Fred Fleitz, David Swanson, and Brian Becker.
Western official confirms Turkey-ISIL secret oil business
The Guardian has quoted an un-named senior Western official as saying that the undeniable evidence was gathered following a US commando raid on an ISIL compound in Syria in May. He said hundreds of flash drives and documents were seized during the raid which led to the killing of ISIL operative Abu Sayyaf. The Tunisian national was responsible for smuggling oil from oil fields in eastern Syria. The oil then found its way into markets through Turkey's soil, with Turkish clients as its main buyers. The terror group used the estimated daily revenue of one-to-four million dollars to finance its activities and recruit foreign militants and mercenaries.