Breaking: Russia halts cooperation with U.S. in Syria over Syrian jet downing, will track coalition aircraft as targets; Pentagon says it will retaliate if “threatened”

From RT:

Russian military halts Syria sky incident prevention interactions with US as of June 19 – Moscow

June 19, 2017

The Russian Defense Ministry announced it is halting cooperation with its US counterparts in the framework of the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria following the coalition’s downing of a Syrian warplane.

The ministry has demanded a thorough investigation by the US military command into the incident with the Syrian government military jet, with the results to be shared with the Russian side.

“In the areas of combat missions of Russian air fleet in Syrian skies, any airborne objects, including aircraft and unmanned vehicles of the [US-led] international coalition, located to the west of the Euphrates River, will be tracked by Russian ground and air defense forces as air targets,” the Russian Ministry of Defense stated.

Downing the military jet within Syrian airspace “cynically” violates the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic, Russian military said.

The actions of the US Air Force are in fact “military aggression” against Syria, the statement adds.

The ministry emphasized that Russian warplanes were on a mission in Syrian airspace during the US-led coalition’s attack on the Syrian Su-22, while the coalition failed to use the communication line to prevent an incident.

“The command of the coalition forces did not use the existing communication channel between the air commands of Al Udeid Airbase (in Qatar) and the Khmeimim Airbase to prevent incidents in Syrian airspace.”

The ministry considers the move “a conscious failure to comply with the obligations under the Memorandum on the Prevention of Incidents and Ensuring Air Safety in Syria,” and is thus halting cooperation with the US within the memorandum framework as of June 19, the statement concluded.

READ MORE: US-led coalition downs Syrian army plane in southern Raqqa

Earlier Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov condemned the attack, branding it an act of aggression which actually helped the terrorists the US is fighting against.

The US-led coalition downed the Syrian government warplane on Sunday. At the moment of the attack the jet was carrying out operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) some 40km from Raqqa, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The pilot ejected from the plane above IS-controlled territory and is still missing.

https://www.rt.com/news/393028-syria-russia-us-plane/

———————————-

From the Washington Examiner

June 19, 2017

US pilots will defend themselves as Russia threatens aircraft over Syria, Pentagon says

by Jamie McIntyre | Jun 19, 2017

U.S. pilots over Syria will defend themselves if attacked by Russians, a Pentagon spokesman said Monday, following a report that Russia will treat U.S. or coalition aircraft as targets if they fly over areas in western Syria controlled by Russia.

The Russian Defense Ministry made the threat Monday after a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet shot down a Syrian Su-22 after that plane bombed U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces that are working with the U.S. to defeat the Islamic State on Sunday.

“Any aircraft, including planes and drones of the international coalition, detected in the operation areas west of the Euphrates River by the Russian air forces will be followed by Russian ground-based air defense and air defense aircraft as air targets,” the Defense Ministry said.

“We are aware of the Russian statements,” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Monday morning. “We do not seek conflict with any party in Syria other than ISIS, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves or our partners if threatened,” Davis said.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said the Russian statement has had no effect on the operations in support of U.S.-backed Syrian fighters moving against ISIS in Raqqa in western Syria.

“Coalition aircraft continue to conduct operations throughout Syria, targeting ISIS forces and providing air support for coalition partner forces on the ground,” said Col. Ryan Dillon, chief U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

He also appeared to indicate the U.S. is avoiding the parts of Syria where Russia said U.S. planes would be tracked as potential targets or providing additional airpower to counter threats.

“As a result of recent encounters involving pro-Syrian regime and Russian forces, we have taken prudent measures to reposition aircraft over Syria so as to continue targeting ISIS forces while ensuring the safety of our aircrews given known threats in the battlespace,” Dillon said.

The statement was meant as a warning, said Viktor Ozerov, a member of the Russian parliament, described the Defense Ministry’s statement as a warning.

“I’m sure that because of this neither the U.S. nor anyone else will take any actions to threaten our aircraft,” he said, according to state-owned RIA Novosti news agency. “That’s why there’s no threat of direct confrontation between Russia and American aircraft.”…

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/us-pilots-will-defend-themselves-as-russia-threatens-aircraft-over-syria-pentagon-says/article/2626381

Israel worried over Russian reconnaissance plane in Syria [Video]

May 8th, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– Al Mayadeen – – translated by Samer Hussein –
Israeli newspaper Maariv revealed that Israel recently managed to obtain some footage from one of its spying satellites that was monitoring Russian military activities in Syria.
The images are reportedly showing a sophisticated Russian reconnaissance plane. Information has also been provided on the alleged “sophisticated boost” of Damascus’ air force capabilities by Russia. It is now estimated that Damascus and Moscow have a rather extended control over the whole region.
Some sources claim, latest discovery might affect the relations between Russia and Israel.
The sophisticated Russian reconnaissance plane is being dubbed as “A-50” and is capable to control and provide details of at least 10 other planes in the vicinity, in addition to being able to hit the ground targets in the distance of 300 kilometers or set the goals of hitting them in the distance of 650 kilometers. The plane can last a flight of about 1000 kilometers distance.
According to the researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the base in Lattakia is located about 700 kilometers north of the Israeli Air Force Hatzor Airbase, meaning the aforementioned Russian plane can identity any Israeli plane that takes off from Hatzor.
At least 26 A-50 reconnaissance planes are said to be operated by the Russian Air Force.

Iranian Foreign Minister responds to the amassing of U.S. and British troops at the Syrian-Jordanian border

May 9th, 2017 – Fort Russ News –
– Al Mayadeen – – translated by Samer Hussein –
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded to the news about amassing of the British, American and Jordanian troops at the Syrian-Jordanian border, noting that any military act of aggression against Syria, will result in an absolute failure.
“Any of such actions, now or in the future, are doomed to fail”, Zarif was heard saying.
Yesterday, reports came about the huge gathering of the British, American and Jordanian troops at the Syrian-Jordanian border, suggesting the approaching zero hour of confrontation.
According to the reports, hundreds of American, British and Jordanian troops are being gathered in the area at the Syrian-Jordania border and parallel with Khirbet Awad, located in the southern Syrian province of As Suwayda, Tell Shihab in Syria’s Daraa province and the Ramtha border crossing. Dozens of troops, British tanks of the Challenger brand and a number of Cobra and Black Hawk helicopters were spotted, in addition to about 2300 jihadists whom the US and UK forces trained in Jordan. 
About 4000 more jihadists are reportedly being trained in Al Tanf area at the Syrian-Jordanian border.
It is also being rumoured that the British and US forces are allegedly trying to take control over the southern Syrian-Iraqi border so that the two countries would no longer be able to coordinate each other directly in their fight against terrorism.

Is North Korea a diversion for a US-Jordan invasion of Syria?

Interesting idea.
However, it is difficult to believe that U.S. Pacific Command (or any of the other Pentagon world regional commands) would allow one command to see action and receive the “glory”, especially with all the preparation, war exercises, and rhetoric against North Korea, The competition for funds, programs, and accolades must be intense, which requires self-justification and proven benefit. And now President Trump is allowing Pentagon commanders to make more of their own decisions. 
Education, outreach, and real peace-making projects are urgently needed.
Global Research, May 04, 2017
Counter Punch 3 May 2017
“Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad said that his country has information that Jordan is planning to send its troops into southern Syria in cooperation with the United States….’Jordan is not an independent country. Whatever the United States wants, it will happen,’ said Assad.” — Middle East Monitor

“In the event of a de-facto partition of Syria, the US and its allies will get a strategically important region. It is through Deir Ezzor that the proposed gas pipeline from Qatar is supposed to run….The Deir Ezzor province is also home to Syria’s largest oil deposit, the Al-Omar. …the city and the province are of particular value since the deposits there contain the highly valuable light sweet crude usable in the production of gasoline and diesel fuel.” — South Front, “The Stronghold of Deir Ezzor; What You Need to Know”

The United States is not going to launch a preemptive attack on North Korea. The risks far outweigh the rewards and, besides, the US has no intention of getting bogged down in a conflict that doesn’t advance its geopolitical objectives. The saber-rattling is just an attempt to divert attention from the Syria-Jordan border where the US and Jordan are massing troops and equipment for an invasion of Syria. That’s what’s really going on. The Korean fiasco is a smokescreen.

True, the Trump administration is milking the situation for all its worth, but that doesn’t mean that they want a war with the North. That’s not it at all.  Washington wants to deploy its controversial THAAD anti-missile system to South Korea, but it needs a pretext to do so. Hence, the ominous threat of an “unstable, nuclear-armed North Korea”, that’s all the justification Washington needed to get its new weapons system deployed. Mission Accomplished.

But the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) isn’t aimed at North Korea, it’s aimed at China, and China knows it which is why it has protested its deployment repeatedly. The US wants to surround China and Russia with military bases and missile systems that are integrated into its broader nuclear weapons system. These lethal systems are a crucial part of Washington’s plan to pivot to Asia and rule the world into the next century. Here’s the rundown from Tass:

“Anti-missile elements that are being deployed around the world are part of a very dangerous global project aimed at securing US’ overall overwhelming superiority to the prejudice of security interests of other states….The US missile defense architecture is tilting the strategic balance of forces in the area of offensive weapons and creates more and more serious risks of global instability.” (“US anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe violate INF Treaty”)

And here’s how Russian President Vladimir Putin summed it up:

“The US is developing an anti-missile defense system which”….when it is operational… “there will be a moment in time when our entire nuclear capability will be neutralized, which means that the entire global balance of power will be overturned.. This means one of the powers will have absolute security and be able to do whatever it likes in regional conflicts. We’re talking about unrivaled power in global conflicts. ..This system forces us to create weapons that can nullify the system asymmetrically.” (Tass)

Is missile defense something the American people should want?

Heck no. Just think of the number of people that Uncle Sam has slaughtered in the last 16 years. Now try to imagine if all the constraints on Washington’s rampaging were removed allowing the US to conduct its bloody war on the world with complete impunity?

No one in their right mind would ever give the Washington crazies that kind of power. It’s a prescription for global annihilation. Besides, absolute security for one country means no security for everyone else.

But deploying the THAAD anti-missile system is just one part of Washington’s North Korea swindle. The fear-mongering is also being used to grease the wheels of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). Here’s the scoop from The Hill:

Sen. John McCain

Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) push for a $7.5 billion fund to bulk up the U.S. military’s capabilities in the Asia-Pacific is gaining momentum as tensions with North Korea mount. The commander of U.S. forces in the region threw his support behind the idea this week, “This kind of money can help us bring together our allies and partners,” said Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. …The … proposal has gained more visibility amid the intensifying concerns over North Korea and its nuclear program.” (“McCain plan gains momentum amid North Korea threats”, The Hill)

So the MIC lackeys in Congress had already been pushing this latest boondoggle, but they needed a trumped up crisis in North Korea to put them over the finish line. Typically, the process is called “creative advertising”, which means scaring the shit out of the public so you can rip them off. Here’s more from the same article:

“I’d like to thank Chairman McCain and this committee for proposing and supporting the Asia-Pacific Stability Initiative,” Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said at Thursday’s hearing. “This effort will reassure our regional partners and send a strong signal to potential adversaries of our persistent commitment to the region.”

The weapons manufacturers love sugar-daddy McCain who’s always on-hand with gobs of moolah.

Here’s more:

“We can thank North Korea for one thing in this,” said Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest”. “They’re amplifying the imbalance in the Asia-Pacific.” (The Hill)

Good idea, let’s thank North Korea for this latest windfall for the weapons makers. Why not? Let’s send Kim a nice big valentine from the American taxpayer with John McCain’s name writ large at the bottom.

In any event, Washington’s policy towards North Korea hasn’t changed. All the chest thumping and fireworks are just part of a circus sideshow designed to justify additional defense splurging and missile deployment. At the same time, the media is trying to divert attention from critical developments in the Middle East, particularly the Syria-Jordan border where Washington has rallied its proxy-fighters into a makeshift army that will (likely) invade southern Syria, charge northward to Deir Ezzor,  establish a no-fly zone over the occupied territory, and partition the area east of the Euphrates preventing loyalist forces from reestablishing Syria’s sovereign borders. That appears to be the basic game-plan. Check this out from the Middle East Monitor:

“The Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad said that his country has information that Jordan is planning to send its troops into southern Syria in cooperation with the United States…

“We have this information, not only from mass media, but from different sources”…
Speaking to The Washington Post, King Abdullah of Jordan reiterated that a planned joint operation could take place against terrorists. “It is a challenge, but we are ready to face it in cooperation with the US and Britain.” (“Assad accuses Jordan of planning Syria invasion”,  Middle East Monitor)

The pretext for the invasion will be to fight ISIS, but the real goal is to seize the eastern part of the country consistent with a plan that was concocted by the Brookings Institute two years ago. After 6 years of covert support for CIA-backed militants on the ground, the Trump administration appears to be leaning towards a more traditional military approach. Here’s more from the LA Times:

“Reports have also emerged of Jordanian and U.S. troops on the section of the Jordanian border opposite southwest Syria, a possible prelude to a campaign in which rebels, supported by Jordanian and coalition forces on the ground, would overrun Islamic State’s pocket in the Yarmouk basin, near southwestern Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan.” (“How long can Jordan keep walking the Middle East tightrope?”, LA Times)

Naturally, Moscow is concerned about the developments on the Jordanian border. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued a statement saying,

“We will pay special attention to the issues most important for us which concern the situation on the Jordan-Syria border.”

Also worrisome, is the fact that US Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis has been traveling across the Middle East rallying Washington’s allies in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. Mattis sees the fighting in Syria as a proxy-war between the US and Iran for influence in the region. This same erroneous view is shared by all of the main powerbrokers in the Trump administration.

“Everywhere there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Mr. Mattis said on a stop in Riyadh, adding that nations in the region are working to “checkmate Iran and the amount of disruption, the amount of instability they cause.”

These latest developments take place just days before the resumption of negotiations in Astana, Kazakhstan (May 3 and 4). Russia, Turkey, Iran and a number of the leaders from the rebel groups will gather to see if they can agree on the terms of a ceasefire and an eventual settlement to the 6 year-long war. The Trump administration’s cruise missile attack on a Syrian airbase in early April has boosted the morale of many of the jihadists militias and is keeping them away from the bargaining table. In other words,  Trump’s unexpected escalation has sabotaged Putin’s efforts to resolve the crisis and end the hostilities. The last thing Washington wants in Syria is peace.

A number of reports have confirmed that Trump has handed control of his foreign policy to his Generals, Mattis and McMaster. And while Mattis has shown little interest in getting more deeply involved in the Syrian conflict, McMaster sees Russia as a “hostile revisionist power” that “intimidates our allies, develops nuclear weapons, and uses proxies under the cover of modernized conventional militaries.”

McMaster is a hard-boiled militarist with a driving animus towards Russia.  In a speech he delivered at The Center for Strategic and International Studies, McMaster offered this remedy for so called ‘Russian aggression’. He said:

“what is required to deter a strong nation that is waging limited war for limited objectives… is forward deterrence,  …(is) convincing your enemy that (he) is unable to accomplish his objectives at a reasonable cost.”

McMaster can be expected to use his  “forward deterrence” theory in Syria by trying to lure Putin into a confrontation with US forces east of the Euphrates. But there’s no reason to think that Putin will fall into the trap, in fact, it seems highly unlikely given the potential for a catastrophic face-off between the two nuclear-armed superpowers. Instead, Putin will probably take the high-road, present his case to the UN Security Council, and denounce  the US intervention as another example of Washington’s destabilizing and expansionistic foreign policy.

Putin’s worst mistake would be to base his strategy entirely on the situation on the battlefield. He doesn’t need to liberate every inch of Syrian soil to win the war. Let the US and its proxies seize the territory, establish their military bases and no-fly zones, throw up a DMZ along the Euphrates, and wade deeper into the Syrian morass. Putin has other fish to fry. He needs to focus on winning hearts and minds, strengthening alliances and building a broader coalition. He needs to look like the only adult in the room, the rational leader whose sole ambition is to end the dispute and restore security. He needs to establish a contrast between his behavior and that of his recklessly-violent and mentally-unstable rival, Washington, whose flagrant  disregard for international law and civilian lives has plunged the Middle East and Central Asia into chaos and carnage.

If Putin’s ultimate goal is to rebuild the system of global security based on the bedrock principles of national sovereignty and greater representation for all the countries in the world, he must lead by example. Restraint and maturity in Syria will move him closer to that goal.

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.

CIA’s eternal military occupation and crimes

From Space4Peace, Organizing Notes

By Bruce Gagnon
May 1, 2017

I recently bought this book and immediately began to read it.  Douglas Valentine has been writing about the CIA’s role in counterinsurgency for many years.  That word, to be properly understood though, needs much more definition.

Valentine undertook a detailed study and analysis of the CIA’s ‘Phoenix‘ program of counterinsurgency in Vietnam.  He interviewed many of the key players who created and directed Phoenix.  Then Valentine took what he learned from the Vietnam program and shows how it has been refined and implemented in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and more recently in Ukraine.  He illustrates how the mainstream media plays its role in furthering CIA lies and ensuring a docile American public.

Here are a few illustrative bits from the book:

This [American] ruling class within the National Security Establishment, represented most perfectly by Hillary Clinton, knows that its enemies, foreign and domestic, must be suppressed ideologically as well as militarily.  Thus they have embraced the Phoenix concept of employing implicit and explicit terror to control, organize and pacify societies.

The success of the Phoenix doctrine is most evident in the ability of its advocates in the ruling class to corrupt Congress and force it to divert massive amounts of public money into the militarization of foreign and domestic policy.

Now that the corrupt and corrupting Phoenix institutional structure is firmly in place in America, it is only a matter of time until we enter the next Phoenix phase of explicit terror here at home.

The CIA and the media are part of the same criminal conspiracy.

The CIA was protecting the major opium producers in the Golden Triangle [during the Vietnam War], just like they’ve been protecting the major drug dealers in Afghanistan for the last fifteen years. They were funneling heroin and opium to their warlords in South Vietnam as a payoff for advancing the US policies that were detrimental to their own country.

The truth about US wars is less about combating Islamic terrorism or ‘protecting the homeland’ than it is about the dark side of the American psyche, rooted in slavery and the genocidal conquest of a continent.  For American businessmen, the global War on Terror with its relentless bombing campaigns and extra-legal methods shrouded in official secrecy, translates into big profits.

The Afghan people hate the Americans more and more, year after year.  And that makes the CIA happy, in so far as it spells protracted war and increased profits for its sponsors in the arms industry.

Afghan anger means more resistance.  And more resistance provides a neat pretext for the eternal military occupation of a disposable nation strategically located near Russia, [Iran] and China.

But it also means spiritual defeat for America, as it descends ever further into the black hole of self-deception, militarism and covert operations.

Valentine names the names of those who developed this global counterinsurgency operation.  He also names some of the ‘progressive’ activists and alternative media that play ball with the ruling oligarchy here at home by taking money to run their operations.

The book is endorsed by highly respected figures like NSA whistleblower John Kiriakou, academic Peter Dale Scott who came up with the tag ‘deep state’ and the truth-telling Robert Parry at Consortium News (which happens to be one of my favorite sources for news and analysis).

If you want to see the big picture of US empire, understand how it works, understand who many of the insiders are (or have been), and get a glimpse into what is coming to America in the near future – then I highly recommend this book.

http://space4peace.blogspot.com/2017/05/cias-eternal-military-occupation-and.html

Pentagon once again hides the real number of civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq

Global Research, May 03, 2017
Inside Syria Media Center

he Combined Joint Task Force, in its monthly assessment of civilian casualties from the U.S. coalition’s operations against ISIS acknowledged at least 352 civilians had been killed in U.S.-led strikes in Iraq and Syria since the operation began in 2014.

According to The Guardian, however, the Pentagon put civilian deaths in strikes on ISIS way lower than outside groups. Such a conclusion was made due to the latest data published by Airwars monitoring group. Airwars estimated that 3,164 civilians had been killed by the US-led coalition’s indiscriminate air strikes since the beginning of the ‘counter-terrorism’ operation in Syria and Iraq. Earlier, Airwars reported that only in March this year, as a result of the numerous coalition’s attacks, the number of civilian casualties increased to 1,782.

According to Amnesty International, the likely civilian death toll in Syria from air strikes by Coalition forces between 23 September 2014 and August 2016 was in the range of 804 to 1,213. It was also reported that such an impressive number of victims was caused by inaccurate air strikes, erroneously carried out mainly not at the positions of terrorists, but at residential areas and civil infrastructure.

In this regard, it becomes clear why the command of the international coalition deliberately hides the real number of victims in Iraq and Syria. Having officially acknowledged the deaths of such an impressive number of civilians, Washington will be forced to acknowledge the low level of training of the U.S. Armed Forces in fighting terrorism.

The White House can’t allow this. Now all its efforts are directed to a show of force such as the previous strikes at the Syrian Shayrat airfield. Moreover, in order to maintain the image of a superpower, Washington is ready to neglect even the lives of helpless civilians.

There is no doubt that it is difficult for Washington to hide the real number of casualties among civilians during its military operation in Syria and Iraq. To try and mitigate the reaction of the world community, the Combined Joint Task Force can only dose the ‘new information’ about the victims and demonstratively express its deepest sympathies to the families and others affected by the coalition’s air strikes.

Anna Jaunger is a freelance journalist from Inside Syria Media Center.

Breaking. Russia setting up military installations in northeastern Syria, in YPG-held area

Global Research, May 03, 2017
South Front 2 May 2017
Video on South Front website

A number of Russian troops and vehicles have entered the area of the Afrin Canton controlled by fighters of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), according to photos and videos appearing online.

Pro-Kurdish media activists speculate that the Russian military is going to set up a military base or even a “joint military base” in the YPG-held area near the border with Turkey.

According to more neutral sources, Russian military servicemen are setting up two posts near the border in order to monitor possible clashes between Kurdish militias and the Turkish military.

This comes amid increasing US military activity along the Syrian-Turkish border. According to Kurdish sources in northeastern Syria, US troops have been patrolling the Kurdish-held areas bordering Turkey. Thus, US troops are a buffer force that should prevent Ankara from combating Kurdish militias in Syria.

The YPG which is a branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and a core of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), is described by Turkey as a terrorist group.

In the province of Raqqah, the SDF is very close to capturing the whole area of the town of Tabqah from ISIS. When Tabqah is secured, the SDF, supported by the US-led coalition’s air power, artillery, and military advisors, will focus on securing the Tabqa dam and will continue attempts to further isolate Raqqah.

Earlier this week, western backed militant groups captured Al-Humaymah southwest of Deir Ezzor. This operation was part of the broader effort aimed at expanding control along the Syrian-Iraqi border.

With the collapsing of ISIS defenses in central Syria and in the area of the Iraqi city of Mosul, various factions involved in the Syrian conflict have increased efforts aimed at gaining control of as many important areas as possible.

While there is little doubt that the SDF, with significant US military assistance, will be able to seize Raqqah one day, the Deir Ezzor countryside and areas along the Syrian-Iraqi border will remain contested between US-backed forces and the Syrian government.

Fighting between government troops and ISIS terrorists continued near the Talilah crossroad east of Palmyra. ISIS has been conducting harassment operations against the Syrian Arab Army in the area in order to prevent a possible government advance along the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor road.

Government forces, led by the Republican Guard, continued military operations against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies in the district of Qaboun in eastern Damascus. Government troops there are seeking to divide the pocket into two separated parts. This will be a major move, if accomplished, on the way to a full liberation of the area from militants.

If you’re able, and if you like our content and approach, please support the project. Our work wouldn’t be possible without your help: PayPal: southfront@list.ru or via: http://southfront.org/donate/ or via: https://www.patreon.com/southfront