Has the CIA’s plot to “covertly” kill Russians in Syria come to pass?

Global Research, August 09, 2016
The New Atlas 9 August 2016
Former acting director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Michael Morell during a televised interview with American talk show host Charlie Rose, openly conspired to commit a raft of war crimes in Syria, suggesting that the US should take measures to ”covertly” kill Russians and Iranians through armed proxies on the ground.

He also suggested targeting Syria’s senior leadership through a series of terrorist attacks in and around Damascus, according to CBS News.

During the interview, Morell would state:

I’d give them the things that they need to both go after the Assad government but also to have the Iranians and the Russians pay a little price. When we were in Iraq, the Iranians were giving weapons to the Shia’a militia who were killing American soldiers. The Iranians were making us pay a price. We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. We need to make the Russians pay a price.

Charlie Rose would then interrupt Morell to clarify by stating:

You make them pay the price by killing Russians? And killing Iranians?

To which Morell replied emphatically:

Yes. Yes. Covertly. You don’t tell the world about it, right? You don’t stand up at the Pentagon and say we did this. Right? But you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran

Morell’s plans echo those laid out by other US policymakers, including those at the Brookings Institution.

And indeed, this appears to be precisely what the US has already been doing. At least two Russian helicopters have been shot down over Syria. The first near the Syrian city of Palmyra by terrorists from the self-proclaimed Islamic State using what Russian sources claimed was a US-made TOW anti-tank missile system, which is also capable of shooting down slow, low-flying aircraft.

The second more recently was over territory in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province controlled by US State Department-designated foreign terrorist organisation, Jabhat Al Nusra. The helicopter was engaged in humanitarian operations relieving a town besieged by Western-backed militant groups.

Nursa forces are now leading a US-backed offensive on the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Both incidents appear to be the precise manifestation of Morell’s admitted conspiracy to kill Russians covertly, with Moscow apparently having gotten the message, and subsequently relaying it to the rest of the world by linking the incidents to US-armed terrorist organisations.

“Morell’s Plan” Could Never Work 

Morell’s plan to kill Russians and Iranians, has not deterred Moscow or Tehran. Unlike the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, predicated on a premeditated lie as clearly exposed by the recent UK government-published Iraq Inquiry, Russia and Iran are engaged in Syria at the behest of the Syrian government.

Furthermore, their objective is not simply to project Russian and Iranian power beyond their borders, but to prevent the collapse of Syria into a NATO-induced Libya-style failed state that will serve as a staging ground for the spread of war back over their own borders. In other words, unlike the US’ intervention in Iraq seeking extraterritorial geopolitical gain, Russia and Iran’s intervention is based on very real and immediate existential concerns.

Thus, Morell’s plan to kill Russians and Iranians was an ill-conceived attempt to convince both nations to capitulate to US designs in Syria today, so that an even greater loss of Russian and Iranian lives could be embarked upon by wider proxy war in the near future.

In the process of organising this ill-conceived plan, the US has now further implicated itself as a state-sponsor of terrorism, further undermining its own pretext for intervention in Syria to allegedly “fight terrorism.”

With US-made TOW missiles conveniently, or very likely, covertly falling into the hands of designated terrorist organisations and being turned against Russian and Iranian forces, the US has also further undermined its own narrative revolving around its primacy as a stabilising force both within the region and globally.

Russian woman in Aleppo shields children against explosion, loses leg & hand

From RT

August 4, 2014

A Russian woman was seriously injured when a huge explosion rocked her relatives’ house in Aleppo, Syria. Irina Barakyat heard a terrible roar outside and rushed to cover her daughter and son from the bomb. Saving their lives cost her a leg and a hand.

Barakyat is married to a Syrian man and has been living in Aleppo for the past 13 years. She was asked by her mother-in-law to come by to give an injection to her husband, who recently had a stroke. Barakyat agreed, taking her three children with her with a plan to stay overnight.

“When we woke up in the morning, I heard a terrible roar. I’ve never heard anything like that before. I realized I had to act without losing any time. My elder son and daughter stood nearby. I jumped on them, stretching my arm and leg, covering my kids. I heard a rumble, then saw my father-in-law lying on the floor. He was not breathing. My mother-in-law was injured. My children stayed alive because I had covered them. My son only broke a limb, and my daughter didn’t sustain any injuries. My middle son had been sleeping in his room when the bomb went off.”

Read more

US-backed Syrian rebels responsible for toxic gas attack in Aleppo – Russian military

Barakyat had her right leg amputated below the knee. Her left leg also sustained serious injuries, but will heal, her doctor says. She also had to part with her hand.

The injured woman says she doesn’t want her five-year-old daughter and two sons, aged 13 and 10, to visit her in hospital.

“I don’t want them to see me in this state,” she says, looking exhausted and frail. “My daughter is at my friend’s place. My sons are staying with their uncle.” Barakyat’s friends want to send her to Russia to get better treatment at a hospital in Moscow.

Last week, Russia and Syria launched a large-scale humanitarian operation for Aleppo residents, opening three humanitarian corridors for civilians and one for the passage of fighters.

Opposition fighters willing to “lay down arms” were promised amnesty by Syrian government forces. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu noted that the fourth corridor was set up only because the US failed to provide Russia with data on Al-Nusra Front terrorist group, which has recently been attempting to merge with other armed opposition groups in Syria.

At least seven civilians died and 25 more were injured on Tuesday as terrorists fired shells, some containing toxic gas, at Aleppo, local health officials said as cited by Syria’s official SANA news agency. The shelling occurred amid an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the city. The violence comes amid a dire humanitarian crisis in Aleppo which “is on the verge of running out of food and other essential supplies,” a recent statement by Amnesty International said.

Despite the increasing number of settlements adhering to the Russia-US brokered ceasefire regime, which came into force on February 27 this year, not all the groups claiming to belong to the “moderate” opposition are observing the truce. In June, militants from an Al-Qaeda-linked group, Jaysh Al-Islam, shelled a UN humanitarian convoy near Damascus, according to reports from the Russian Defense Ministry.

https://www.rt.com/news/354627-woman-shields-children-syria/

 

Former U.S. diplomat: ‘These are radical Islamic jihadi terror groups’; U.S. supporting Syrian groups that use chemical weapons, but media won’t report it

From the article comment section:

  • Can someone change the title of the article to: “US ordering Syrian groups to use chemical weapons, but media won’t report it.”
  • Headline correction: ‘US posing as Syrian groups which use illegal chemical weapons against civilians”…
  • of course their media will not report that. they want to give the impression that us moderate head choppers are nice people who are fighting for a jeffersonian democracy and temporarily launching suicide attacks and behead people
  • …is American people aware of this insanity of its Government??? …are they just as evil as their Government?

From RT
August 4, 2016
Video on website

© Stringer
© Stringer / Reuters

We keep hearing about a ‘moderate opposition’ instead of calling them what they are. These are radical Islamic jihadi terror groups, Jim Jatras, former U.S. diplomat and GOP Senate policy adviser, told RT.

RT: Given the complex situation on the ground it is always difficult to determine who has done what, but with the repeated allegations, why does the U.S. continue to support groups which are being accused of committing war crimes?

Jim Jatras: I wish I knew the answer to that question. They’ve been doing it for five years, and of course you know that the American media don’t make it real clear the nature of the groups we’re supporting in Syria. We keep hearing about a moderate opposition instead of calling them what they are. These are radical Islamic jihadi terror groups – the same ones we keep saying we’re worried about launching attacks here in the United States. And here we are supporting groups in Syria that have this jihadist ideology, cut off heads of little kids, use chemical weapons and I don’t think the American people really make the connection because the media does not report it.

RT: What is the red line, that if the group crosses, the U.S. might stop backing it? Isn’t the beheading of a child or the use of prohibited weapons enough to put an end to supporting a particular group?

JJ: I think what it likely to resolve it in another sense is by what’s happening on the battlefield. The reason these two chemical attacks were launched, clearly is a false flag in the case of the one that landed in opposition-controlled territory, is to try to pull a rabbit out of the hat to stop the Syrian Army’s offensive in Aleppo, supported by the Russian Air Force. If Aleppo is liberated this was is going to be effectively over. It will take some time, but there won’t be any question any more which way things are going militarily. Maybe that’s got to be the solution because I don’t see the open-mindedness here in Washington. Quite the contrary. Remember the letter from the 51 diplomats at the State Department. And Hillary Clinton has indicated through her puppet Michele Flournoy, her designated secretary of defense, that if things are still going like this in January… they want to launch airstrikes against Assad. I don’t see an open mind here in Washington.

RT: Such a chemical attack against civilians is a deplorable method. What would the Syrian Army have to gain from such tactics?

JJ: Sure it is. But it begs credibility to suggest that this came from the [Syrian] government. Why would they do that? They are advancing on Aleppo. These are not – as far as anybody can tell – weapons-grade gas attacks, at least from what I’ve heard on the news reports. It seems to be more of what is known as ‘kitchen gas’ variety that is certainly within the capabilities of these terrorist groups. It makes perfect sense that’s where it would come from. And frankly, I don’t think it’s going to wash with anybody here.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/354621-us-media-washington-syria/

Stash of US-made heavy weapons found in terrorist-held Aleppo district

From RT

August 4, 2016

© Ruptly

Footage has emerged online allegedly showing mortars, anti-tank missiles and grenades being uncovered along with a quantity of western (mostly US)-made weapons and ammunition in territories abandoned by terrorists in Syrian Aleppo.

The video appeared online on Thursday and purported to show the discovery of a large cache of western arms and ammunition in a house in Aleppo’s eastern Bani Zaid district. The majority of the weapons appear to be of US origin and include US-made anti-tank missiles system (TOW 2A), American UN0181 missiles, as well as US-made 81mm mortars and ammunition. Some of the boxes containing weapons are labeled with the letters ‘USA’.

Among other weapons that can be seen in the video are a 57mm infantry mortar of a type produced in Germany as well as a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) made by the Czech Republic.

The territory in which the weapons were found was recently abandoned by fighters from the Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra). It is considered a terrorist group by the UN and is not part of the cessation of hostilities in Syria. The group recently rebranded itself while breaking its ties with the global terror network Al-Qaeda.

A former army officer and Scotland Yard detective Charles Shoebridge told RT that the video appears to be “genuine”.

“The United States has openly announced in the last year or so, that it is supplying anti-tank missiles, and anti-tank missiles of a type I should say that do appear to be in this video, the TOW as they are known,” to ‘moderate opposition’ in Syria, the expert said. Shoebdrige added that “as predicted from the start” the video would be yet another confirmation that such weapons end up “in the hands of extreme rebel groups”.

In October last year a Pentagon-trained group of Syrian rebels known as Division 30, handed over their US delivered weapons to al-Sham terrorists, the western media widely reported citing US military sources.

Shoebdrige pointed out that Washington does not resort to any “proper scrutiny” while delivering weapons to the ‘moderate’ rebel factions in Syria. That’s despite “almost certainly knowing that they will end up in the hands of the groups such as al-Nusra.” The expert however did not predict any change in America’s stance noting that such groups are one of the most “effective fighters” against the Syrian government.


In November 2015 a video of Syrian rebels allegedly firing a TOW missile at a Russian-made helicopter on the ground was posted on YouTube. The social media channel responsible for the release of the video was associated with the Free Syrian Army’s 1st Coastal Brigade, a US-backed rebel group. The helicopter is said to have been on a search mission for the pilots of the Su-24 jet downed by Turkey in Syria on November 24. The FSA has received US Tow missiles among other weaponry.

Also that month a US-made anti-tank missile system was apparently used in an assault on an RT crew in Syria. A baldly titled video – ‘Jihadists Launch TOW at Journalists’ – was posted online and showed a group of Syrian rebels firing a US-made anti-tank missile launcher. Upon reviewing the footage, RT’s Roman Kosarev, who was among the journalists who survived an attack by a similar weapon earlier, recognized the area and the chain of events which subsequently unfolded. “The landscape is very reminiscent of the one when we came under fire from militants,” Kosarev said.

https://www.rt.com/news/354653-syria-rebels-weapons-us/

Thousands of foreign workers stranded in Saudi Arabia without food or water

From RT

August 3, 2016

Foreign construction laborers in Riyadh © Fahad Shadeed

Almost 16,000 Indian and Pakistani workers are stuck in Saudi Arabian camps without food and water, or visas to leave the country, after construction companies were forced to cut jobs as oil prices plummeted.

There are 7,700 Indians and 8,000 Pakistanis stranded, according to Bloomberg citing the foreign ministries in New Delhi and Islamabad.

More than 4,000 former workers for Riyadh-based construction and management company Saudi Oger have been abandoned in camps, said the Indian Foreign Ministry. It added that India’s Embassy is providing food to workers in 20 camps in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

READ MORE: Oil crash forces S. Arabia to cut ‘unnecessary’ budget expenses

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said his government will help the stranded workers “in all possible ways.” It’s estimated 1.8 million Pakistanis are employed in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi government has cut spending as sliding oil prices hit the kingdom’s economy. Payment delays increased lately as the government cut spending on contracts to preserve cash. The construction sector is the hardest hit as companies depend heavily on government business for cash.

The Saudi Ministry of Labor said construction workers have complained about not being paid for months.

According to the country’s National Commercial Bank, construction contracts dropped by about 50 percent in the first quarter of 2016. No contracts have been awarded by the government since the end of last year, the bank said.

Saudi Arabia is facing a huge budget deficit which is expected to reach $87 billion this year. It comes on the back of a falling crude price with oil sales accounting for almost 80 percent of the country’s revenue. The kingdom’s economic growth is forecast to slow to 1.5 percent this year, the lowest level in seven years.

https://www.rt.com/business/354484-saudi-construction-workers-stranded/

Milosevic exonerated as the NATO war machine moves on

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see a pattern here.

Before a US-led war or ‘humanitarian intervention’ against a targeted state, a number of lurid claims are made about the country‘s leader and its government. These claims receive maximum media coverage and are repeated ad nauseam on the basis that people will bound to think they’re true.

Later it transpires that the claims were either entirely false (like the Iraq WMD ones), unproven, or greatly exaggerated. But the news cycle has moved on focusing not on the exposure of the fraudulent claims made earlier but on the next aggressive/genocidal ‘New Hitler’ who needs to be dealt with

From RT,
by Neil Clark
August 2, 2016

Supporters of Slobodan Milosevic wait in line to pay their respect at the former president's grave in Pozarevac March 10, 2007. © Marko Djurica
Supporters of Slobodan Milosevic wait in line to pay their respect at the former president’s grave in Pozarevac March 10, 2007. © Marko Djurica / Reuters

The ICTY’s exoneration of the late Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Yugoslavia, for war crimes committed in the Bosnia war, proves again we should take NATO claims regarding its ’official enemies’ not with a pinch of salt, but a huge lorry load.

For the past twenty odd years, neocon commentators and ‘liberal interventionist’ pundits have been telling us at every possible opportunity, that Milosevic (a democratically elected leader in a country where over 20 political parties freely operated)  was an evil genocidal dictator who was to blame for ALL the deaths in the Balkans in the 1990s. Repeat after me in a robotic voice (while making robotic arm movements): ‘Milosevic’s genocidal aggression’ ‘Milosevic’s genocidal aggression’.

But the official narrative, just like the one that told us that in 2003, Iraq had WMDs which could be launched within 45 minutes, was a deceitful one, designed to justify a regime change-op which the Western elites had long desired.

The ICTY’s conclusion, that one of the most demonized figures of the modern era was innocent of the most heinous crimes he was accused of, really should have made headlines across the world. But it hasn‘t. Even the ICTY buried it, deep in its 2,590 page verdict in the trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic who was convicted in March of genocide (at Srebrenica), war crimes and crimes against humanity.

There was no official announcement or press conference regarding Milosevic‘s exoneration. We’ve got journalist and researcher Andy Wilcoxson to thank for flagging it up for us.

How very different it all was when the trial of the so-called ‘Butcher of the Balkans’, began in February 2002! Then, you‘d have to have been locked in a wardrobe not to be aware of what was going on.

CNN provided blanket coverage of what was described as “the most important trial since Nuremberg.” Of course, Milosevic’s guilt was taken as a given. “When the sentence comes and he disappears into that cell, no one is going to hear from him again,” declared US lawyer Judith Armatta from the Coalition for International Justice, an organization which had the former US Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmerman, as an advisory board member.

Anyone who dared to challenge the NATO line was labeled a “Milosevic apologist”, or worse still, a “genocide denier”, by ‘Imperial Truth Enforcers’.

But amid all the blather and the hype surrounding the ’trial of the century’ it soon became apparent the prosecution was in deep, deep trouble. The Sunday Times quoted a legal expert who claimed that “Eighty percent of the prosecution’s opening statements would have been dismissed by a British court as hearsay.” That, I believe, was a generous assessment.

 

The problem was that this was a show trial, one in which geopolitics came before hard evidence. It’s important to remember that the original indictment against Milosevic in relation to alleged Kosovo war crimes/genocide was issued in May 1999, at the height of the NATO bombing campaign against Yugoslavia and at a time when war was not going to plan for the US and its allies.

The indictment was clearly designed to exert pressure on Milosevic to cave into NATO’s demands.

The trouble for NATO was that by the time Milosevic’s trial was due to start, the Kosovo narrative had already unraveled. The lurid claims made by the US and its allies about genocide and hundreds of thousands being killed, catalogued by the great John Pilger here, had been shown to be false. In September 2001, a UN court officially held that there had been no genocide in Kosovo.

So in an attempt to beef up their weakening case against Milosevic the prosecutors at The Hague had to bring in new charges relating to the war in  Bosnia, accusing ‘Slobo’ of being part of a ‘joint criminal conspiracy’ to kill/ethnically cleanse Bosnian Croats and Bosnian Muslims in pursuance of a ’Greater Serbia’ project.

In normal criminal prosecutions evidence is collected and then, if it’s deemed sufficient, charges are brought. But the opposite happened in the case of Milosevic: he was charged for political reasons and the hunt for evidence then followed.

The irony is that the former Yugoslav President had already been praised by President Clinton for his role in brokering a peace deal in Bosnia in 1995, which was signed in Dayton, Ohio.

The truth is that Milosevic was no hardcore Serb nationalist but a lifelong socialist, whose commitment was always to a multi-racial, multi-ethnic Yugoslavia.

His aim throughout his time in power was not to build a ’Greater Serbia‘, but to try and keep Federal Yugoslavia together, as the ICTY now belatedly acknowledges.

Not only was Milosevic not responsible for ethnic cleansing which took place in Bosnia, he actually spoke out against it. The ICTY noted Milosevic’s “repeated criticism and disapproval of the policies made by the Accused (Karadzic) and the Bosnian Serb leadership.” Milosevic, a man for whom all forms of racism were anathema, insisted that all ethnicities must be protected.

But in order to punish Milosevic and to warn others of the consequences if they dared to oppose US power, history had to be re-written. The pro-Yugoslavia socialist who had opposed the policies of the Bosnian Serb leadership had to be turned, retrospectively, into the villain of the Bosnian War and indeed blamed for all the bloodshed which took place in the Balkans. Meanwhile, the aforementioned US Ambassador Warren Zimmerman, whose malign intervention to scupper a diplomatic solution helped trigger the Bosnian conflict got off scot-free.

Read more

Donald Rumsfeld (L), George W. Bush (C) and Dick Cheney © Larry Downing
Radovan Karadzic deserves punishment – but what about the Neocons?

The ‘Blame it All on Slobo’ campaign saw facts simply thrown out of the window. One article, written, I kid ye not, by an Oxford University Professor of European Studies even had Milosevic as leader of Yugoslavia in 1991 (the year that Slovenia broke away). In fact the Bosnian Croat, Ante Markovic, was the leader of the country at the time.

Inevitably, Milosevic was likened to Hitler. “It was just like watching the evil strutting Adolf Hitler in action,” wrote the News of the World’s political editor, when Milosevic had the temerity to defend himself in court. “There were chilling flashes of the World War Two Nazi monster as the deposed Serb tyrant harangued the court.”

To make sure readers did get the Milosevic=Hitler point, the News of the World illustrated their diatribe with a picture of Hitler ‘The Butcher of Berlin’, in front of a concentration camp, with a picture of Milosevic ‘The Butcher of Belgrade’ superimposed on a picture of a Bosnian concentration camp. Which in fact, he had nothing to do with.

Very conveniently for the prosecution, Milosevic died suddenly in his cell in March 2006.

Going by what we had seen at the trial up to that point, it’s inconceivable that a guilty sentence could have been passed. A whole succession of ’smoking gun’ witnesses had turned out to be dampest of damp squibs.

As I noted in an earlier piece:

Star witness Ratomir Tanic was exposed as being in the pay of Western security forces, whilst ex-Yugoslav secret police chief Rade Markovic, the man who was finally going to spill the beans on Milosevic and reveal how his former master had ordered the expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, in fact did the opposite and testified that he had been tortured to tell lies and that his written statement had been falsified by the prosecution.

Read more

Het Plein (The Square) in The Hague, Netherlands. © Rene Mensen
Murder at The Hague? The strange case of sick & suicidal Serbs

In addition, as I noted here, the former head of security in the Yugoslav army, General Geza Farkas (an ethnic Hungarian), testified that all Yugoslav soldiers in Kosovo had been handed a document explaining international humanitarian law, and that they were ordered to disobey any orders which violated it. Farkas also said that Milosevic ordered no paramilitary groups should be permitted to operate anywhere in Kosovo.

When Milosevic died, his accusers claimed he had “cheated justice”. But in fact, as the ICTY has now confirmed, the injustice was done to Milosevic.

While he had to defend himself against politically-motivated charges at The Hague, the US and its allies launched their brutal, illegal assault on Iraq, a war which has led to the death of up to one million people. Last year a report from Body Count revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives as a result of the US-led ‘war on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Those sorts of figures help us get Kosovo into some kind of perspective. Even if we do hold Milosevic and the Yugoslav government responsible for some of the deaths there in 1999, (in a war which the West had clearly desired and provoked) far, far, greater death and destruction has been caused by the countries who were the keenest to see the President of Yugoslavia in the dock. As John Pilger noted in 2008, the bombing of Yugoslavia was the “perfect precursor to the bloodbaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Since then we’ve also had the NATO destruction of Libya, the country which had the highest living standards in the whole of Africa and the backing of violent ‘rebels’ to try and achieve ‘regime change’ in Syria.

You don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to see a pattern here.

Before a US-led war or ‘humanitarian intervention’ against a targeted state, a number of lurid claims are made about the country‘s leader and its government. These claims receive maximum media coverage and are repeated ad nauseam on the basis that people will bound to think they’re true.

Later it transpires that the claims were either entirely false (like the Iraq WMD ones), unproven, or greatly exaggerated. But the news cycle has moved on focusing not on the exposure of the fraudulent claims made earlier but on the next aggressive/genocidal ‘New Hitler’ who needs to be dealt with.  In 1999 it was Milosevic; now it’s Assad and Putin.

And guess what, dear reader? It’s the same people who defend the Iraq war and other blood-stained Western military interventions based on lies, unproven claims or great exaggerations, who are the ones doing the accusing.

As that very wise old saying goes: When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you.

Follow Neil Clark on Twitter @NeilClark66

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/354362-slobodan-milosevic-exonerated-us-nato/

US-supported ‘moderate’ group responsible for deadly chlorine gas attack in Aleppo; 7 dead, 23 injured

Where is President Obama’s red line now?

From RT
August 3, 2016

Syrian fighters from a rebel group considered ‘moderate’ by Washington are responsible for using toxic gas shells that killed seven and injured 23 in Aleppo on Tuesday, according to a statement from the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Read more

A general view shows rising smoke from burning tyres, which activists said are used to create smoke cover from warplanes, in Aleppo, Syria August 1, 2016 Abdalrhman Ismail

“On August 2, 2016 at 19 hours 05 minutes militants from the Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki group, considered by Washington as ‘moderate opposition’, launched poisonous materials from the Sukkari district towards the eastern part of Aleppo,” the ministry said.

It added that the territory is under rebel control and that shells were fired towards “the residential area” of the Salah-Eddin district.

Moscow informed Washington of the use of toxic shells on Monday, Lieutenant-General Sergey Chvarkov, head of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria, said.

On Tuesday evening, Syria’s state-run SANA news agency reported that Syrian officials said an attack using poisonous gas had occurred in Aleppo. A “terrorist attack” on the Old City of Aleppo with “shells containing toxic gas” led to the deaths of five and suffocation of eight more civilians, the outlet quoted the city’s health director, Mohamad Hazouri, as saying.

A local police source told SANA that terrorist groups fired rocket shells at the al-Hamadaniyeh neighborhood, injuring six. They also targeted the Salah-Eddin neighborhood, killing two and injuring 11 more.

Meanwhile a chilling video purporting to show the aftermath of the deadly toxic shelling in Aleppo emerged online on Wednesday.

The footage captures the moment victims were rushed to hospital. Most of them appear unable to walk on their own and on the verge of fainting.

We’ve taken 12 injured people, six other patients have already died from suffocation. Our doctors were prepared to treat people showing symptoms of gas poisoning. We’ve been expecting terrorists to use weapons of this kind,” a doctor at the Aleppo hospital told RT.

The gas in question was reportedly chlorine – a highly toxic substance that leads to breathing problems, a loss of consciousness, and illnesses among those exposed to it.

The al-Zenki rebel group was in the spotlight in July after two videos appeared online showing its alleged fighters taunting and then cutting off the head of a Palestinian boy. Washington promised to look into the case and warned of ‘possible’ consequences for the rebels.

The US is still “looking into that incident,” State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told an RT reporter during a press briefing on Wednesday. However, no further details of the inquiry were provided.

“I know that the group itself said they had also made some arrests and set up a commission, an inquiry into the incident,” Toner added, again without providing further information.

“One indeed can ask the United States why it still continues to support this group,” Willy Van Damme, a Belgian journalist, told RT. He added that despite promises from Washington to look into the case, there has been “no reply” ever since.

In a separate incident, Tuesday media reports suggested that toxic gas had been dispersed in an area in which a Russian helicopter had been shot down, in Syria’s Idlib province.

The Kremlin said that it has no information on the issue adding that it’s not always clear what such claims are based on. The UN also said that it can’t confirm these reports, while Washington said that it is investigating the claims.

The Russian military official said that terrorists in the area are hampering the efforts of locals trying to flee the embattled eastern parts of the city.

“Terrorists are trying to prevent the population from fleeing the eastern part of the city of Aleppo the best they can, threatening to shoot civilians or publicly execute them. There are reports that children and women are being turned into suicide bombers to carry out terrorist acts,” Chvarkov stated.

According to the Russian Reconciliation Center, the situation in Aleppo “remains difficult.”

The shelling of the city’s districts from the side of militants continues. Insurgents fired rocket launchers and homemade mortars at the ‘Castello’ shopping mall, the areas of Ansar and al-Hadher as well as the Leramon district,” it said.

According to the latest figures from the Russian military “372 civilians, including 76 children” were able to flee the areas controlled by illegal armed groups in Aleppo via safe routes. Humanitarian corridors were established last week through cooperation between Syrian forces and the Russian Center for Reconciliation in the country. Some 94 gunmen also laid down their arms, figures revealed.

Basic essentials and medical supplies are meanwhile being delivered by Russian convoys to residents of Aleppo, which is plagued by a dire humanitarian situation.

https://www.rt.com/news/354511-toxic-gas-syrian-rebels/

Siberia anthrax outbreak: 12yo boy killed, 8 infected, over 2000 reindeer dead

From RT

August 1

A 12-year-old boy evacuated from an anthrax epidemic zone in Russia has died in hospital while eight other people have been diagnosed with the disease. The infection has resurfaced in western Siberia 75 years after the previous outbreak.

The child died in hospital in the city of Salekhard, the capital of the Yamalo-Nenetsk Autonomous Area, where quarantine over the anthrax outbreak was declared last week. The boy was among several dozen indigenous people evacuated from the contaminated area.

“We are 90 percent sure that he died from anthrax. He had the intestinal form of the disease, which is harder to diagnose,” the office of Yamal Governor Dmitry Kobylkin told TASS.

The governor said he had no words to express his grief over the boy’s death.

“From day one we’ve been walking the extra mile and doing everything possible to save every life. But the infection has proven to be insidious,” he said. “It returned after 75 years and claimed a child’s life.”

This epidemic is a rare case, scientists say, but the cause goes a long way back.

“In Siberia, it is an uncommon event, and the issue is that a reindeer likely defrosted from the permafrost because of the heat wave that occurred, and that animal had the spores in it [which] got into the environment around it.  Other reindeer, who were nibbling on the grass, acquired the anthrax infection themselves,” professor of preventive medicine Doctor William Schaffner told RT.

More than two thousand of those deer have already died, all of them in the Yamalo-Nenetsky area. This territory is located above the Arctic Circle, and is generally known for a very long winter that lasts up to 8 months, and extremely low temperatures, reaching -70 degrees Celsius.

A total of 90 people, half of them children, were taken to hospital after being evacuated from the remote area where the infection spread. Most of them tested negative for the disease.

Yamal residents are collecting donations for the evacuees, who had to leave most of their possessions behind. Considering their nomadic lifestyle, many of them are now left with nothing except the clothes they are wearing.

The ongoing anthrax outbreak is the first reported in Yamal in over seven decades.

So, how does the illness get into the human body?

“Anthrax bacteria can survive for long periods of time in spores, and when that spore gets into the human body, it opens up, and the active bacteria that can cause illness occurs. It can, if you inhale it, cause pneumonia, it can get into your bloodstream, it can get into cuts in the skin, and cause local infections also. It’s a very serious infection, once it gets into the human body, and can have the capacity to kill the individual,” professor of preventive medicine Doctor William Schaffner told RT.

Humans can be exposed to anthrax by eating contaminated meat, breathing in spores or getting the bacteria on broken skin while handling animal products or carcasses.

READ MORE: Anthrax infection found in Wiltshire cow

Biological warfare troops and civilian emergencies specialists were deployed to the epidemic area to dispose of dead animals and eradicate pests such as rats, which can spread anthrax. A mass vaccination of the population was conducted over the last week. Livestock vaccination is currently underway with a total of 41,000 animals expected to be given anthrax vaccine doses.

The large area of the potential infection zone is hampering efforts, with veterinarians having to cover big distances to reach every reindeer herd.

https://www.rt.com/news/354139-anthrax-siberia-boy-dead/

Russian helicopter on Aleppo aid mission shot down, all 5 aboard dead

From RT

August 1, 2016

A Russian Mi-8 helicopter has been shot down by ground fire in Syria following delivery of humanitarian supplies to Aleppo, the Defense Ministry said. Three crew and two officers from Russia’s Reconciliation Center died, according to a Kremlin statement.

The Russian military transport Mi-8 helicopter was shot down in Syria on Monday over an area controlled by Al-Nusra Front, Russia’s General Staff said.

“The helicopter was hit from the ground in an area under control of the armed units of Al-Nusra Front terrorist group and the troops of the so-called ‘moderate opposition’ who joined them,” General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the main operations department of the Russian General Staff, said.

On August 1, an Mi-8 transport helicopter has been shot down by ground fire in Idlib province after a delivery of humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo. Three crew members and two officers from the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria were on board,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement earlier on Monday.

The helicopter was returning to the Russian air base at Khmeimim, the statement added. The ministry has not yet revealed identities of those on board.

The Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria has operated at Khmeimim air base since February. It contributes to peace talks between Syrian government and moderate opposition factions not aligned with IS, Al-Nusra Front or other terrorist groups.

The center also oversees ceasefire agreements between belligerent parties and delivery of humanitarian supplies to various parts of Syria.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed in a statement later in the day that all those on board are dead.

“Those on board the helicopter were killed, as we learned from the Defense Ministry’s report. They died heroically as [the crew] tried to divert the helicopter to minimize casualties on the ground,” Peskov said, adding the Mi-8 had been on a humanitarian mission.

“The Kremlin conveys its deep condolences to the families of those killed in action,” he added.

Shortly after the crash, a number of on-the-spot videos have emerged online, allegedly showing helicopter debris, including a tail rotor and parts of the fuselage. At the moment, RT cannot verify authenticity of those videos.

Last week the Syrian government and Russia launched an effort to evacuate civilians wishing to leave Aleppo, establishing safe corridors and providing food, medical assistance and transport for those who chose to use them. Scores of people, mostly women and children, rushed to abandon the battered city, which has been contested by several armed forces.

The Syrian opposition decried the move, claiming it was an attempt to depopulate the city, a part of which remains one of its strongholds.

Terrorists in the eastern part of Aleppo have executed four people over an attempt to flee the city via humanitarian corridors, said Rudskoy.

“Considerable losses don’t bother the militant leaders, who are pulling up reserves from other directions and are intimidating the government troops. They are preventing the local population from leaving the area of hostilities and continue using civilians as ‘human shields’,” he said.

The Syrian Army has lost several aircraft over the last two months, indicating that militants may have received new anti-aircraft weapons lately, freelance journalist Alaa Ibrahim told RT.

“I’ve heard some local sources where the [Russian] helicopter was downed speaking of the possibility of MANPADs – shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles – being used in that context,” he said.

Portable surface-to-air missiles would be a game changer in the hands of the rebel forces, as they counter the Syrian Army’s air superiority. Providing such weapons would be a risky move for a foreign nation, considering the previous record of unintended weapons transfers.

It is the third Russian helicopter lost in action in Syria this year. In July, an Mi-25 attack chopper was shot down near Palmyra, killing two Russian pilots. The aircraft had been engaging the advancing Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants at the Syrian Army’s request when it was taken down, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

In April, an Mi-28N attack helicopter crashed while performing a flight near the city of Homs, with the Defense Ministry stressing it was not shot down. The crash left both pilots dead, with technical failure cited by Moscow as the likely cause of the accident.

Last October, another Mi-8 helicopter was badly damaged and then destroyed by IS fighters after an emergency landing in the middle of search and rescue operation to extract a surviving co-pilot of a Su-24M bomber jet shot which was down by a Turkish Air Force F-16.

The number of Russian servicemen who lost their lives since the start of the country’s anti-terror operation in Syria on September 30 last year stands at 19 people after the downing of the helicopter.

Commenting on the alleged videos from the crash site that surfaced online, political analyst Taleb Ibrahim condemned the people in the footage for the “brutal way,” in which treated the bodies of the crew.

“It was same as Al-Qaeda, the [Al-] Nusra Front deal with the bodies of the Syrian Army soldiers and others,” he told RT.

https://www.rt.com/news/354128-russian-helicopter-syria-down/

Civilians killed as terrorists shell Aleppo, use toxic gas – Syrian officials

From RT

August 2, 2016

At least seven civilians died and 25 more were injured as terrorists fired shells, some containing toxic gas, at Aleppo, local health officials said as cited by Syria’s official SANA news agency. The shelling occurred amid an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the city.

A terrorist attack on the Old City of Aleppo on Tuesday with “shells containing toxic gas” led to the death of five and suffocation of eight more civilians, the outlet quoted the city’s health director, Mohamad Hazouri, as saying.

A local police source told SANA that terrorist groups fired rocket shells on the al-Hamadaniyeh neighborhood, injuring six. They also targeted the Salah-Eddin neighborhood, killing two and injuring 11 more.

The Russian Reconciliation Centre in Syria said on Tuesday evening in a statement that Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra Front terrorists were continuing to shell residential areas in Aleppo and Damascus.

“During the day in the province of Aleppo, terrorists fired mortars at the town of Ansar and two heights in the surrounding area, [and the] neighborhoods [of] Hai al-Ansari, Leramon, al- Khalidia and a shopping center “Castello” in the city of Aleppo were also targeted,” the statement reads.

The violence comes amid a dire humanitarian crisis in Aleppo which “is on the verge of running out of food and other essential supplies,” a recent statement by Amnesty International said.

Last week the Russian defense minister announced that “safe passages” would be created to let civilians flee the battle zone. Opposition fighters willing to “lay down arms” were also promised amnesty by Syrian government forces.

On Tuesday the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria dispatched a convoy containing 18 tons of aid to Aleppo from the Russian Khmeimim air base.

“Servicemen of the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation sent food and essentials in a humanitarian convoy to temporary storage warehouses in Aleppo,” the statement said. The goods included personal hygiene equipment and medicine to be utilized by the ill or wounded.

On Monday a Russian Mi-8 transport helicopter was downed while coming back from a humanitarian aid mission to Aleppo. The incident happened as the chopper was flying over the neighboring Idlib province. Three crew members and two officers onboard died.

General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the main operations department of the Russian General Staff said that terrorists from Al-Nusra Front but also forces seen as “moderate opposition” by Washington operate in the area.

https://www.rt.com/news/354405-aleppo-shelling-gas-attack/