Moscow condemns coalition airstrikes in Raqqa leading to civilian casualties

From Sputnik News

December 8, 2016

The Russian Foreign Ministry expressed concern over recent reports of civilian casualties in US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria saying that such actions were ‘unacceptable.’

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry citing reports, at least 18 civilians were killed and dozens injured in a US-led coalition airstrike on a settlement in Syria’s Raqqa province on December 7.

“These reports cause deep concern. Air and missile strikes that result in deaths and suffering of peaceful Syrians are unacceptable and deserve decisive condemnation. The suffering of civilian population must be stopped,” the ministry said in a statement.

The Russian Foreign Ministry added that it is hard to understand statements about “errors” and “negligence” from those whose military operation in Syria had not been requested by the country’s legitimate authorities.

Last week, the Pentagon stated that the US-led coalitions airstrikes on the Syrian army positions were an “unintentional, regrettable error.”

Coalition’s Strike on Syrian Army in Deir ez-Zor Result of ‘Unintentional, Regrettable Error’ – Pentagon

On September 17, US-led coalition aircraft carried out four strikes against the Syrian army near the Deir ez-Zor airport, leaving 62 soldiers killed and some 100 wounded. The Pentagon said that the airstrike was a mistake and was intended to target Daesh militants, while a number of Syrian officials stated that the attack was intentional.

Earlier, the Russian Defense Ministry slammed the US-led coalition for striking civilians instead of terrorists.

“Weddings, funerals, hospitals, police departments, humanitarian convoys and even Syrian troops, fighting against Daesh terrorists near Deir ez-Zor, become targets for coalition airstrikes,” spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, commenting on an alleged US-led coalition’s member’s strike on a Syrian village in north Aleppo that claimed at least six lives.

Related:

Four Civilians Killed, 8 Wounded in Coalition Strike in Syria’s Raqqa – Reports Human Rights Commissioner: US-Led Coalition Endangers Civilians in Iraq’s Mosul
Coalition Jets Strike Raqqa Village, Kill at Least Ten Civilians – Reports

https://sputniknews.com/politics/201612081048329039-raqqa-coalition-airstikes/

Putin’s progress in Syria sends Kerry scampering to the UN… Washington’s unspoken agenda is to protect ISIS

From Global Research

Global Research, December 24, 2015
Counterpunch 23 December 2015
kerryputin-510x286“It is remarkable that western leaders only remember the term ceasefire when their rebels on the ground are losing. Why didn’t they see the need for peace in Syria before the Russian operation started?” — Iyad Khuder, Damascus-based political analyst

Imagine if the American people elected a president who was much worse than George W. Bush or Barack Obama. A real tyrant. Would that be sufficient justification for someone like Vladimir Putin to arm and train Mexican and Canadian mercenaries to invade America, kill US civilians, destroy cities and critical infrastructure, seize vital oil refineries and pipeline corridors, behead government officials and prisoners they’d captured, declare their own independent state, and do everything in their power to overthrow the elected-government in Washington?

Of course not. The question is ridiculous. It wouldn’t matter if the US president was a tyrant or not, that doesn’t justify an invasion by armed proxies from another country.  And yet, this is precisely the policy that US Secretary of State John Kerry defended at the United Nations on Friday.  Behind all the political blabber about a “roadmap to peace”, Kerry was tacitly defending a policy which has led to the deaths of 250,000 Syrians and the destruction of the country.

And, keep in mind, Kerry didn’t drag his case before the UN Security Council because he’s serious about a negotiated settlement or peace. That’s baloney. What Kerry wants is a resolution that will protect the groups of US-backed jihadis on the ground from the Russian-led offensive. That’s what’s really going on. The Obama administration sees the handwriting on the wall. They know that Russia is going to win the war, so they’ve settled on a plan for protecting their agents in the field. That’s why the emphasis is on a ceasefire; it’s because Kerry wants a  “Timeout” so his Sunni militants can either regroup or retreat.  Just take a look at this short excerpt from the UN’s summary of last Friday’s confab and you’ll see Kerry’s really up-to:

“In its first resolution to focus on the politics of ending Syria’s five-year-long war, the Security Council today gave the United Nations an enhanced role in shepherding the opposing sides to talks for a political transition, with a timetable for a ceasefire, a new constitution and elections, all under UN auspices….

(The Security Council) acknowledged the close linkage between a ceasefire and a parallel political process, with the former to come into effect as soon as the sides have begun initial steps towards a political transition under UN auspices….

The resolution asked Mr. Ban through the offices of his Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura to determine the modalities of a ceasefire and plan to support its implementation, while urging Member States, in particular members of the ISSG, to accelerate all efforts to achieve a ceasefire, including through pressing all relevant parties to adhere to one.

Emphasizing the need for a ceasefire monitoring and verification mechanism, the Council asked Mr. Ban to report back to it on options with a month, and called on Member States to provide “expertise and in-kind contributions” to support such a mechanism…”

(“In first political resolution on war-torn Syria, Security Council gives UN major role in seeking peace”, UN News Centre)

See what I mean: Ceasefire, ceasefire, ceasefire. It’s all about a ceasefire. Kerry wants a ceasefire. Obama wants a ceasefire. A big part of the ruling US establishment want a ceasefire. No, not the neocons, not the liberal interventionists, and not the diehard hawks like Ash Carter at the Pentagon, but a good portion of the ruling elites who’ve been following events on the ground and who know how this thing is going to end. The smart money has already moved on to Plan B, which is why they’re now focused on cutting their losses and saving as many of “their guys” as possible.  Naturally, the people who funded, armed, trained and deployed these various Sunni fighters feel responsible for their safety, so they’re going to do whatever they can to get them out. That’s where Kerry comes in. Kerry’s job was to fly to Moscow, tell Putin that Obama had changed his mind about regime change, and get the Kremlin to back Kerry’s UN resolution. The primary objective of this farce is to garner international support for designating terrorist groups as “moderates” and to move in the direction of UN-mandated ceasefire that will stop the Russian-led offensive in its tracks.

But isn’t that what everyone wants, an end to the hostilities?

Not exactly. A war against terrorists is different than a war between nation-states or a civil war. A group like Jabhat al-Nusra, for example, can’t be treated the same way as armed members of the political opposition. These are religious fanatics determined to use any means possible to achieve their goal of a fascist Islamic Caliphate. Reasoned discourse doesn’t work with people like this,  they have to be killed or captured. And this is exactly what the Russian-led coalition is doing, they’re progressively mopping up the terrorist threat in Syria at great risk to themselves and their fellow-collation members Iran, Hezbollah, and the Syrian Arab Army.  Kerry’s job is to throw a wrench in the anti-terror campaign to impede the coalition’s progress. And he’s willing to lie to do it.  Case in point: Here’s a quote from Kerry in Moscow just last Tuesday:

“As I emphasized today, the United States and our partners are not seeking so-called “regime change,” as it is known in Syria.

Later in the day, Kerry underscored the administration’s dramatic about-face saying: “We are not trying to do a regime change. We are not engaged in a color revolution.  We’re not engaged in trying to interfere in another country … We’re trying to make peace.”

Okay, so the US has given up on regime change?

Not at all. Kerry was just lying through his teeth as usual.  Here’s what he said less than 24 hours later:

“Russia can’t stop the war with Assad there because Assad attracts the foreign fighters. Assad is a magnet for terrorists, because they’re coming to fight Assad.  So if you want to stop the war in Syria, and we do, if you want to fight Daesh and stop the growth of terrorism, you have to deal with the problem of Assad. Now, that doesn’t mean we want to change every aspect of the government; we don’t.”

(‘US not after regime change in Syria, but Assad must go’ – Kerry to Russian TV”, RT)

Got that? So the US doesn’t support regime change, but Assad’s still got to go.

How’s that for hypocrisy? The truth is the Obama administration is just as committed to toppling Assad as ever. Kerry was just misleading Putin to get his approval for his ridiculous resolution at the UN.  As a result, Assad’s name was never mentioned in the resolution which,  Kerry seems to think, is a big victory for the US. But it’s not a victory, in fact, all of Russia’s demands were met in full through the passing of UN Resolution  2254 (three resolutions were passed on Friday) which reiterates all Putin’s demands dating back to the Geneva Communique’ of 2012.  Assad was never mentioned in 2254 either, because naming the president wasn’t necessary to establish the conditions for 1–a transitional government, 2–outlining the terms for a new constitution and  a non-Islamist Syrian state, and 3—free and fair elections to ensure the Syrian people control their own future. In 2012, the US rejected these three provisions saying that the would not agree unless Assad was excluded from participating in the transitional government. Now the US has reversed its position on Assad which means that 100 percent of Moscow’s demands have been met.  UN Resolution  2254 is complete capitulation on the part of the US. It is a humiliating diplomatic defeat which no one in the media is even willing to acknowledge.

So what did Kerry gain by all his globe-trekking and backroom maneuvering?

Nothing. In fact, he gave away the farm by making a number of concessions to gain Russia’s support.

What “concessions” are we talking about?

Here’s a short list:  Kerry met with Putin in Moscow on December 15. On December 16, the IMF ruled in favor of Russia in its $3 billion claim against Ukraine. Here’s the story:

“The executive board of the International Monetary Fund has recognized Ukraine’s $3 billion debt to Russia as official and sovereign – a status Kiev has been attempting to contest.

“In the case of the Eurobond, the Russian authorities have represented that this claim is official. The information available regarding the history of the claim supports this representation,” the IMF said in a statement.” (“IMF recognizes Ukraine’s contested $3bn debt to Russia as sovereign “, RT)

How many strings do you think Washington had to pull to seal that deal?

Also on December 16,  the US announced that it would remove its F-15 fighters stationed in Turkey immediately. Here’s the story:

Twelve U.S. Air Force F-15 fighters sent to Incirlik airbase only last month to guard Turkish airspace and hit ISIS targets in Syria were suddenly flown back Wednesday to their home base in Britain, U.S. European Command announced….

The redeployment of the fighters came amid a flurry of diplomatic and military-to-military activity in the region and with Russia …

A day before the planes left, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of United Nations Security Council meetings in New York Friday on Syria and U.S. efforts to ease out President Bashar al-Assad.

(“US Air Force Begins Withdrawing F-15 Fighter Jets From Turkey“, Military.com)

Another coincidence?

Not likely.

Then there’s this:  On December 17, Obama allowed a Russian-backed resolution to pass the UNSC unanimously that that will help uncover secret  financing for ISIS and “strengthen legal measures against those doing business with terrorist groups.” According to RT:

“The resolution is the result of a joint effort by Russia and the US, which are both leading anti-IS campaigns in Syria….The key objective of the new resolution is the “enforcement of a framework to reveal and disrupt illegal financing of IS and groups related to it by means of trade in oil, artifacts, and other illegal sources.”…

The document, which is based on UN Charter Article VII and takes effect immediately, calls for members to “move vigorously and decisively to cut the flow of funds” to IS.”

UN Security Council unanimously adopts resolution targeting ISIS finances

Is that what Obama really wants, to expose the revenue streams for these extremist organizations that are clearly getting support from Washington’s main allies in the Gulf?

Probably not, but Kerry caved-in anyway hoping that his support would help him to nab the elusive ceasefire.

Finally,  on December 18, Obama told Turkish President Erdogan that he wanted him to  remove his troops and tanks from Iraq. Here’s the story:

“US President Barack Obama has called on his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to withdraw his country’s troops out of Iraq and respect its integrity. In a telephone call on Friday, Obama “urged President Erdogan to take additional steps to deescalate tensions with Iraq, including by continuing to withdraw Turkish military forces.”

He also “reinforced the need for Turkey to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq,” the White House said.

A 300-strong contingent of Turkish forces backed by 20 to 25 tanks was stationed on the outskirts of the city of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh Province, on December 4.” (“Obama to Erdogan: Withdraw Turkish troops from Iraq“, Press TV)

(Turkey has since promised to remove more troops following Obama’s call.)

In other words, the Turkish occupation began on December 4, but Obama never responded until two days after Kerry talked with Putin in Moscow. Another coincidence?

Maybe or maybe not. In any event the US had to do some serious horse-trading to persuade Putin to take Kerry’s issue to the Security Council. (By the way, Obama knew beforehand that Turkey planned to invade Iraq, in fact, “an important Turkish official  confirmed this claim by saying “all relevant countries” were informed about the deployment of the troops. See here for details.

Like we said earlier: Kerry gave away the farm to slam a deal that isn’t going to have the slightest impact on the outcome of the war.  And that’s what’s so tragic about all this diplomatic tap-dancing, is that it doesn’t really change anything. Syria’s future is going to be decided on the battlefield not at the United Nations and not at the bargaining table. Washington decided that long ago when it elected to use force of arms to try to achieve its geopolitical ambitions.  Now an organized opposition has emerged that is openly challenging US-backed proxies leaving Washington with just two options, fight or retreat.

It had to come to this, didn’t it?   After all, if you push people hard enough, eventually they push back.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Kiev ready to support US-led coalition in Syria, as VP Biden promises $190 million to Kiev

From RT, 12-8-15

Ukraine is ready to support the US-led forces fighting Islamic State militants (former ISIS, ISIL) in Syria, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told media in Kiev on Monday. “I have already confirmed to [US Vice President Joe] Biden that Ukraine is ready to show maximum support to coalition forces in Syria,” he said. On Monday, Biden arrived in Kiev for a two-day visit and talks with Poroshenko. Following their meeting in Kiev, Biden urged Ukraine to work on reforms and announced new financial aid of $190 million.

https://www.rt.com/news/line/

G20 press conference of Vladimir Putin: ISIS oil convoys “stretching for dozens of kilometers”, ISIS funding from 40 countries including G20

Vladimir Putin answered journalists’ questions after the G20 summit.

Vladimir Putin answered journalists’ questions after the G20 summit.
Vladimir Putin answered journalists’ questions after the G20 summit.

On ISIS funding:

We have established that financing is coming from 40 countries, including G20 countries. We discussed this issue.

On ISIS oil trade and how easy it is to strike ISIS:

I also showed our colleagues satellite images and aerial photographs that show very clearly the scale of this illegal trade in oil and petroleum products. You see columns of refuelling vehicles stretching for dozens of kilometres in lines so long that from a height of 4,000–5,000 metres they vanish over the horizon. It really looks more like an oil pipeline system.

On Ukraine’s $3 billion debt to Russia:

Our partners from the IMF have been convincing us that we could accept to restructure Ukraine’s debt of $3 billion, which was to have been paid by the end of next month, the end of this year… We were asked to defer this payment of $3 billion to next year. I said that we are ready to accept a deeper restructuring with no payment this year, a payment of $1 billion next year, $1 billion in 2017, and $1 billion in 2018. But our partners are sure that Ukraine’s solvency will grow and that we can be sure of receiving $3 billion next year. If this is the case, they see no risk in providing guarantees for this credit.

We have asked for such guarantees either from the United States government, the European Union, or one of the big international financial institutions. We hope that this matter will be settled by the start of December this year, given the International Monetary Fund’s work timetable.

If our partners are that certain that Ukraine’s solvency will improve, persuade us that this is so, and believe this themselves, let them provide guarantees. If they cannot provide guarantees, this means that they do not believe in the Ukrainian economy’s future. I think this would not be good for them if this is so, and if they are trying to convince us of something that is not in fact the case, this would not be good for our Ukrainian partners either.

We think that this proposal is a realistic possibility and we see no problems in sharing the risks with our partners.

On fighting ISIS, US-led coalition, and Syrian opposition groups:

Question: Mr President, we frequently hear your western partners accuse Russia’s Aerospace Forces of hitting targets in Syria that are not ISIS, but are so-called moderate opposition groups. Did their opinion change over the course of the summit? What were you feeling during the discussions?

And the second part of the question. The US-led anti-ISIS operation did not succeed in degrading ISIS. What difference do you see between Russia’s actions in Syria and those of the US-led coalition, from a military standpoint?

Vladimir Putin: In general, this criticism was practically not voiced. It’s hard to even criticise us. They tell us, “You’re hitting the wrong targets!” Then we say, “Tell us where we should strike, give us the targets!” But they don’t give them to us. “Then tell us where we shouldn’t hit.” And they don’t tell us that, either. How, then, can we be criticised?

You know, I don’t want to sneer at this. Strangely enough, they have their own reasons for it. And one of them, I will tell you point blank, is that they are afraid to give us a list of territories not to strike, because they fear that this is exactly where we will strike, that we will deceive them. It seems they judge us based on their own notions of decency.

But I can confirm that right now (on the battlefield, so to speak), we have established contacts with some (not all, of course) of the uncompromising, even armed Syrian opposition groups; they themselves asked us not to strike the territories they control. We have reached these agreements and are fulfilling them.

Moreover, this part of the armed opposition believes that it is possible to begin active operations against terrorist organisations – against ISIS first of all – with our support from the air. And we are prepared to provide that support. If this happens, it will mean that President al-Assad’s army on one side and the armed opposition on the other are fighting their common enemy. It seems to me that this can become a good foundation for subsequent work and a platform for political settlement.

…now is not the time to assess who is better or worse, or look for reasons why the previous steps have been more or less effective. Right now, we need to look forward and join forces in the fight against this common threat.

The full press conference on November 16 from Kremlin.ru:

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good evening, friends, ladies and gentlemen,

Before we start these questions and answers, I want to thank the President of Turkey, Mr Erdogan, and all of our Turkish colleagues for the very professional organisation of the G20 summit. They created a very good, trusting and open atmosphere in which to work and discuss the issues that were the whole point of our getting together.

I want to thank Turkey’s people for their welcoming attitude to our work and the help that we received at practically every step.

Question: It would seem that fighting terrorism was one of the summit’s main subjects of discussion. We know that there will be no resolving this problem unless we take more effective steps to prevent the financing of terrorism. Were any concrete measures discussed at the summit? What was the line of discussion on these measures, and did you reach any agreements?

Continue reading

US-led bombing raids target Syrian civilians in an area which has “never been in the hands of ISIS”; on Oct. 11, coalition destroys Syrian power plant

Global Research, October 17, 2015
Tass 16 October 2015

This territory has never been in the hands of the Islamic State, deputy chief of the Russian General Staff Andrey Kartapolov points out

Traces of airstrikes against household buildings have been found at the Syria-Jordan border, where Russian warplanes have performed no missions, deputy chief of the Russian General Staff Andrey Kartapolov said on Friday.

“We have spotted ruins of household buildings destroyed by bombing near the settlement of Kherbet Ghazala at the Syrian-Jordan border,” he told a briefing for foreign military attaches and journalists.

“Russian warplanes have never performed any missions there and, as far as we know, the Syrian aviation has not been used there either,” he stressed. “This territory has never been in the hands of the Islamic State. Moreover, this area has been controlled by the Free Syrian Army since 2013.”

He demonstrated photos of the area featuring bomb-destroyed buildings. “You can see on these photos that there are no signs of military activity around these cottages, there are no military hardware, not even signs of military hardware. These are regular gardens and fields with buildings to keep farming tools,” he said.

“Why destroy these buildings? It looks like somebody’s pilots were just training their skills or dropped bombs to report to their command about completed mission,” Kartapolov said.

Airstrikes by US-led coalition in Syria increase refugee flow to Europe

Airstrikes of US-led coalition on civilian facilities o the Syrian territory lead to increasing refugee flows to the European Union, Kartapolov went on to say.

“Over the last two weeks, we have provided enough video materials confirming the precision of [Russian] airstrikes. Our jets deliver airstrikes at facilities located outside of settlements,” Kartapolov said.

“It is not in our rules to advise colleagues on where to deliver their airstrikes. However, on October 11, near the settlement of Tel-Alam, the coalition’s jets destroyed by airstrikes a thermal power plant and transformer substation,” he added. As a result, hospitals and schools in Aleppo were left without electricity. Water pumping stations and sewage also stopped working which can be very harmful in the conditions of high temperatures.

“I think that it is unlikely that our partners did not know that the thermal power plant worked only eight hours per day. Airstrikes were delivered for several days, and on October 11, the power station was completely destroyed. One might het an impression that someone is deliberately destroying infrastructure in settlements, thus making the life of local population impossible. Because of that, civilians leave these settlements after losing living conditions and increase the refugee flow to Europe,” Kartapolov noted.

Putin vs the Neocons – 1:0

 September 30, 2015
Mikhail Delyagin
Translated by Kristina Rus

Russia created the first since the collapse of the Warsaw Pact international coalition and will legally defend itself from Islamic terror on its frontiers

The Federation Council for the second time in a year and a half gave President Vladimir Putin the right to use the army outside of Russia. Sources reported that this pertains only to Syria. The head of the administration, former defense minister, Sergei Ivanov said we are talking only about airstrikes.

Mikhail Delyagin said: “It was ridiculous to wait until the U.S. fed Islamic fundamentalists will eat up Assad and come for us. It was ridiculous to wait until the destruction of Syria would open a land route for Qatari gas to Europe.

The fight against ISIS in Syria – is defense of Russia on its far frontiers: it is easier and cheaper, however the US providing the Islamists with advanced air defense weapons poses a serious danger.

Obama knowingly fled from journalists after a meeting with Vladimir Putin: looks like he was just put before the fact of creation of Russia’s first post Warsaw Treaty international military coalition. The harbinger was the creation of a unified information center in Baghdad, uniting Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia – the countries that actually fight terrorism. Hope, actually it is a complete command center; I hope there are representatives of China, who do not want the pro-American terrorists to blow up the Xinjiang-Uigur region. And it is important that the United States could not record the transfer of our aircraft to Syria: it indicates the scale of our technical superiority over them in this area.

Obama’s statement that the departure of Assad is no longer his priority, establishing a direct link between the Pentagon, the Defense Ministry and the expulsion of the head of the “Russian Department” of the Pentagon, are encouraging news.

It seems that Obama became a “lame duck”, for the sake of Biden’s victory and deterrence of the neocons (including Hillary Clinton) have abandoned the policy of supporting Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism, from which he began his rule. The promises of Saudi Arabia to take down Assad militarily give impression of a random administrative fluctuation or a last desperate attempt to reverse the decision already made by the master.

It is important that on the eve of the UNGA session, the leadership of Saudi Arabia has ordered to completely stop funding Islamic militants in three months.

Vladimir Putin, having completed in recent months a genuine diplomatic blitzkrieg and, it seems, reaching agreement with Israel and Saudi Arabia, achieved a victory over the neocons, which went unnoticed in Russia’s and, consequently, over the forces of global destabilization.

This victory is not complete and cannot be so, however, it wins us at least a year and makes Russia the geopolitical leader of reasonable Islam.

If this person [Putin] refuses to go for a fourth term, he will have to be forced to do it”.

Lavrov: US knows ISIS positions, refuses to bomb

From Fort Russ

September 13th, 2015 –
Pnp.ru – translated for Fort Russ by Joaquin Flores –

“Lavrov: Russia has information that the US knows the position of the IS, but does not bomb them”
Russia has information that the US know the specific location points of the “Islamic State” (extremist organization banned in Russia), but did not give an order to strike on the positions “of the IS,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
In the program “Sunday times” on “Channel 1” Lavrov said that the US government “was not originally very careful in creating a coalition, or conspired towards goals that were not the declared ones.”
According to the foreign minister, the coalition was created spontaneously, “within just a few days it was announced that it includes a number of countries and then begun strikes.”
Lavrov said that the analysis of aviation operations in countries included in the coalition, “creates a strange impression,” – as if in addition to fighting “the IS” “there is something else which is a concern of the coalition.”
The minister said: “I hope not to disappoint anyone in saying that some of our colleagues from the incoming coalition of countries have information on where exactly and on what positions are “IS” or other subdivisions, and the commander of the coalition (the United States ) does not give consent to striking them. “