Friday, May 31, 2019

"The Idlib Escalation"

Following up on yesterday's info packed post:

Syria/ Idlib: No Fly Zone Negotiations,Turkey, Russia, PKK & Operation Claw....

Unsure who Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is? Other then the op/ed below is his. 

First time I've seen his work. That all said it's a solid article, in my opinion.  Though I don't agree with every bit of it. The author has numerous outbound links that should be read, of course. Some of them are linked here- the rest are accessible by visiting author's site

"The north-west of Syria, specifically the Idlib region, saw a large-scale military escalation in May 2019, with numerous air strikes by the Syrian government and Russia. In addition, the Syrian army and auxiliary forces launched ground assaults, taking over several localities, notably in north Hama. What is the reason for this escalation? Is this the final campaign to retake the last major insurgent stronghold in Syria?

The short answer is no. A correspondent for the Russian outlet ANNA News who has been on the frontlines and a member of a pro-government formation who is originally from Idlib province both made clear that the aim of the present operations is not to retake the entire north-west region. Rather, the aim is to retake specific areas.  As the second source put it: "They are pressure operations only to implement the clauses of the agreement of demilitarized zones."

The Russian correspondent offered more clarification: "The insurgents have not complied with the Sochi agreement and have fired mortars on safe areas and Hmeimim airbase. They have also launched various attacks on the points of the Syrian army from their areas in north Hama, the al-Ghab plain and north-east Latakia countryside. This operation aims to put pressure on the insurgents and implement the agreement by force, while opening the Aleppo-Latakia and Aleppo-Damascus highway."

In other words, the current escalation stems from the frustration of the Russian and Syrian governments with Turkey for its perceived failure to uphold its end of the bargain in the Sochi agreement. The agreement was signed in September 2018 between Turkey and Russia and called for the preservation of the original 'de-escalation' area that had been agreed for Idlib. Russia committed to ensuring that there would be no military operations against Idlib, but the agreement also stipulated the establishment of a 15-20km wide 'demilitarized zone' from which 'all radical terrorist groups' would be removed by 15 October 2018. Although Russia and Turkey were to conduct joint patrols to enforce the demilitarized zone, the M4 (Aleppo-Latakia) and M5 (Aleppo-Hama) highways would also be opened.

The agreement reflects Russia's desire to advance the interests of the Syrian government (especially with regards to economic recovery in opening the highways) while also taking into account Turkish concerns about a potential surge of refugees towards Turkey's borders in the event of a large-scale offensive on Idlib. Though it is difficult to determine how exactly things would have been worked out in the long run under the scenario of fully implementing the agreement, it is probable that Russia envisioned an eventual 'soft landing' and return of the Idlib area to Syrian government control.

I've talked highways and refugees too many times to count.


Earlier this year, Turkey began deploying patrols as part of the supposed enforcement of the Sochi agreement. However, most of the other terms of the agreement were not implemented. Although the agreement did not specify the 'radical terrorist groups' to be removed from the demilitarized zone, it is almost certain that from Russia's perspective at least the groups included Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), which poses a particular problem as it is the dominant actor in north-west Syria. HTS originated in Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra but broke ties with al-Qaeda.

HTS' own stance towards the Sochi agreement has been highly controversial in jihadist circles. In the view of more hardline jihadists, HTS has supposedly been complying with the agreement by permitting the Turkish patrols and freezing the military frontlines in the north-west. These jihadists view the supposed HTS stance as part of a broader pattern of the group's unacceptable compromising of principles to reach an agreement with Turkey, which is reluctant to confront HTS militarily. Even so, prior to the latest escalation, there were localized clashes between pro-government forces and insurgents and attacks on Hmeimim airbase in Latakia. A proper de-militarized zone cleared of HTS and other jihadists was not actually created.

For its part, Turkey is unlikely to engage in direct military intervention on behalf of the insurgency, but it can 'counter-escalate' indirectly in an attempt to convince Russia and the Syrian government that the cost of their current limited offensive will be too high. For example, some members of the 'National Army' of rebel forces based in the Turkish-occupied north Aleppo countryside have been participating in operations on the frontlines. Since the National Army forces cannot mobilize and engage in operations without Turkish consent, Turkey must have permitted their participation as part of a counter-escalation.

There have also been reports that Turkey has provided additional weaponry for rebel forces, including TOW missiles that the United States (US) has to approve for release from storage. ( I found these reports to be questionable, sourced anonymously)That the US would allow the insurgents to be bolstered in this way reflects its own opposition to a military campaign by the Syrian government and Russia, even though the US was excluded from the original de-escalation framework and Sochi agreement.

In turn, this counter-escalation may lead to greater Iranian support for its Syrian ally. Iranian-backed units of Syrian fighters can certainly be found in Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces in areas that are near the frontlines with the insurgent-held zones, but they have not been playing any leading roles in the current offensive. That could change if the situation continues to escalate.

In any case, while the fighting will prove difficult for both sides, the balance of power is ultimately tipped against the insurgency, short of a direct military intervention by an international actor on its behalf.

If the US intervenes with France and Britain alongside it. Aided by Israel, of course. Keeping in mind Israel's government has just dissolved- That's when all bets are off-

Israel to Hold 2nd Election of 2019- New Elections Complicate Peace Plans

Making this a dangerous time. 

The propaganda has been hot and heavy as of late so US intervention is a real possibility.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Syria/ Idlib: No Fly Zone Negotiations,Turkey, Russia, PKK & Operation Claw....

First up,  Idlib & Syria as a whole :

I've maintained that the Idlib operation is limited in scope. Time wise. Geographically. There is a specific goal. ( Securing highways- talked about this numerous times) Once attained the operation will stop. A whole pile of Idlib posts will be relinked at the bottom of this latest report.

1:   US Official: Russia Unlikely to Support Full-Scale Offensive on Syria's Idlib
 "Our conversations with the Russians have not indicated that the Russians are ready to support a full-scale offensive into Idlib," U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey told reporters. "They tell us that this is only a limited set of military operations against specific terrorists."
2:  US, Russia discuss peace plan that would end Syria's isolation
The United States and Russia are in talks on a "potential way forward" that would see Syria come out of international isolation if it agrees to a series of steps including a ceasefire in Idlib, the US envoy for Syria said Wednesday.
Jim Jeffrey told reporters following a closed-door UN Security Council meeting that Moscow and Washington were exploring a "step by step approach" to ending the eight-year war, but that this would require "hard decisions."
3:  Russia Calls for Lifting Sanctions on Syrian Regime

Once the highways are secured (that is the M4 and M5) sanctions being lifted would go a long way to kick starting Syria's economy, rebuilding and getting people back to work.

Russia has urged the international community to support the withdrawal of US troops from Syria and launch a massive campaign to end US and European sanctions against Damascus.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Wednesday described the US presence in Syria as a “direct support for illegal gangs," saying it “impedes the restoration of peaceful life in Syria.”

“We [Russia and Syria] urge the United States and the European Union to lift anti-Syrian economic sanctions. Such restrictive measures do not contribute to solving urgent humanitarian and socio-economic problems in Syria,” said the statement, which was signed by the Russian-Syrian joint coordination headquarters.
Read the rest of #3 link because it covers the numerous problems at the refugee camps including the one in Kurdish run Syrian territory-
"The Ministry noted that the situation is even worse in al-Hol camp in the territory controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces in al-Hasakah province."
“More than 73,000 people are living in terrifying conditions in al-Hol.”
That's been discussed here previously. The PKK kurds take UN money to run the camp- and don't use it to run the camp. At all. Situation worse at al- Hol then at Rukban? Unimaginable to me.  But not a shocker. Since it's well KNOWN that the Kurds are far from egalitarian do gooders. Despite the spin.

NO Fly Zone to Protect Annexed Syrian Territory? 

The annexed territory already contains at least 7 American bases. Including one that is more then 500 acres. Just one base. Making a no fly zone a real possibility.

2018 Flashback:  Is The US Pivoting the Fight In Syria Toward A War With Iran? YES!
 "The largest American military base in Syria covers more than five hundred acres, but it can’t be seen from the road"
"a vast encampment spread out before us. The perimeter was constructed of dirt berms, sod-filled gabions, and razor wire. The runway was more than a mile long, and sunk below grade, so that planes would seem to disappear as they landed"
1:  Telegraph- Germany and US in Talks for No Fly Zone
"Germany is reportedly in talks with the US to provide military aircraft to patrol a safe zone in northern Syria proposed by Donald Trump.

Angela Merkel’s government has been in secret talks the US over the plans for several months, according to Spiegel magazine.

The proposals could see German Tornado fighters patrolling Syrian air space to protect the country’s Kurds from attack by Isil or Turkey"
Or by the SAA as they attempt to take back stolen territory? 

2: From earlier this year- Occupying Kurds want Germany to Create No Fly Zone
"Murad told Kurdistan 24 that the Syrian Kurds are happy with Kiesewetter’s proposal, but added this should actually be carried out.

“The German government should act to establish this no-fly zone. Why Germany? Because it is big and has its influence in the EU and world,” he explained.

Murad said Germany could play a role in ending the civil war in Syria.

“The German government should take [the proposal] seriously and we hope that it will use its relationship with the US and others to achieve this,” he said."
 
This German involvement in a no fly zone is not a new development- A visiting German politician broached this subject with occupying PKK forces months ago

 
 Let's talk Turkey...

There's a whole lot of US/Israeli/Saudi/ Egyptian spin regarding Turkey's involvement in Syria.
An astute commenter here a while back noticed this push to associate Turkey with AQ/Muslim 
Brotherhood.  (comment and exchange available in comment section here) I'm not getting into this entire history- There are books and books on the subject- Except to say that MB is and has historically been associated with Egypt and Saudi Arabia. As well as various western intelligence organizations. MI6 and CIA. Same for AQ.
 Therefore when one reads claims made that Turkey is supporting the entire terror contingency in Idlib- one should think about which parties ( US, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia) would promote this ideology due to the fact they wish to see a weakened Turkey that cannot challenge their perceived regional authority AND keep in mind all four parties ( US, Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia) have been propping up the PKK in the stolen Syrian territory

Turkey does support some of the terrorists in Idlib- But not all of them
Yes, Turkey has their own factions in Syria. Like everyone else Turkey has interests in the settlement of the Syrian situation. Interests like not have a PKK terror state at the border.
 This is not a condoning of Turkey's role. It's just real politik in action. I'm adult enough to accept this. Not like it. Just accept it.  Realistically speaking, I've no influence in this great game.  Observing and informing through reading and discernment is the extent of my role in all this.

1:   Idlib Gov't Chief Urges Turkey to Step Up Efforts in Idlib
“We hope that the Turkish side will ... defend these positions they set up and the areas they entered and prevent Russian and Syrian jets from flying in the areas where they are present, and the shelling of surrounding areas,” Hilal said.
Hilal told Reuters, adding that Ankara should clarify “their role and what they want from these positions.”
If you believed the propagandists you'd already think Turkey was running the place- That's not the reality.  Hope and clarification about Anakara's role? That certainly DOES NOT read like unfettered support. I've, in fact, found Turkey to be quite quiet regarding Idlib. Yes they want the fighting to stop- They don't want to be flooded with more Syrian refugees. But, over all they've been pretty nonchalant. Which is the opposite of what I'd expect from them if they were so desirous of Idlib. Turkey has other operations, ongoing, that are more pressing for their territorial integrity
 Turkey's Operation Into Northern Iraq- Impeding US partnering with PKK terrorists-

 Operation Claw to pave way for Turkey’s military campaign against PKK in Syria

As Operation Claw in Northern Iraq gains speed, Turkey’s military campaign is set to deal a great blow to U.S. support for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), putting an end to the route used to send supplies to terrorists
A 2500-strong force consisting of Turkish commandos, which will later increase to 6,000, is currently detecting and destroying PKK shelters, hideouts, caves and munition depots.
By establishing security along the Hakurk-Duhok-Zap line, Turkey will sever the land connection of the U.S., which supplies the PKK with medicine, food, weapons and ammunition, to the terror group.
Northern Iraq’s Qandil Mountains have been a haven for PKK terrorists over the past few decades. Considered as the main base of the PKK, which control checkpoints and entrances to the mountains, the structuring in the area is used for cover and concealment by terrorists.
 The expectation, by extension, would be to cut the PKK off from their US/Iraqi supplies into Syria.

In closing the situation in the region is complex. With multiple interests at play. Black and white presentation of do gooders vs villains is misleading. By design.

Idlib Refresher (Recent Material)
*Russian Ceasefire Likely Affords Temporary Delay in Idlib
  1. Syria: Blow by Blow 4- Hama to Idlib

  2. US Backed Kurds Kill Protestors- Idlib/Hama Update

  3. "Russia and Turkey landgrab 'behind fresh Syria bombardment' "

  4. Syria: Blow by Blow 3- Idlib, Opening Highways/Taking Higher Ground?
  5. Syria: Blow by Blow Updated

  6. Syria: Blow by Blow


Last 24 hours:

Israel to Hold 2nd Election of 2019- New Elections Complicate Peace Plans

Reuters
Israeli lawmakers voted to dissolve parliament on Thursday, paving the way for a new election after veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government before a midnight deadline.

Netanyahu preferred a new ballot, set for Sept. 17, to the alternative, under which Israeli President Reuven Rivlin could have asked another politician to try and form a ruling coalition.

The election, Israel’s second this year after an April 9 poll in which Netanyahu claimed victory, means unprecedented upheaval even for a country used to political infighting.
ReutersTV


 Israel Plunged Into Another Snap Election.....

Israel has been plunged into another snap election campaign – the second this year – after prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition and instead dissolved parliament.

In what seemed an improbable scenario days ago, Israel’s newly elected Knesset dissolved itself in an early morning 74-45 vote and set a new election date for September 17.
 New Israeli Elections Complicate Peace Plan
Washington Post: “For the White House, the political breakdown presents a significant challenge to the rollout of President Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan. Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, was scheduled to touch down Wednesday night in the midst of Israel’s political maelstrom ahead of talks with Israeli officials about the economic component of the peace proposal.”
Conveniently,  for Israel that is, the "political breakdown" presents a challenge to the roll out (ahem) of Trump's long awaited "peace plan" ( Israel doesn't want peace)
 
Worth keeping an eye on Israeli moves against Syria in this time frame. .. Lots can occur between now and Sept.17/19 and there would, conveniently, be no ruling power to blame... 

Don't Miss:

 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Just Discovered Rock Structure Under the Ice of East and West Antarctica Affects Melting.

Clearly the "climate" is on my mind!
From earlier today:  It's Like A Heatwave..... NOT.

The latest

Daily Mail. Taken from Nature Geoscience: Ross Ice Shelf response to climate driven by the tectonic imprint on seafloor bathymetry

Do take note that the Daily Mail is spinning the Carbon Agenda.
"An ancient divide in the rocks beneath East and West Antarctica is controlling the flow of water under the Ross Ice Shelf and the rates at which parts of the ice melt."
 
That’s right..... Not carbon. A rock divide.


"The boundary was discovered using a new, plane-mounted detector which can gather magnetic and gravitational data on the ice shelf as it flies around.

In addition, the researchers also discovered that a patch of open waters in the Ross Sea that cools the ocean in the winter can also lead to significant warming and local ice melt in the summertime."
Not Co2
"Together, the findings highlight the importance of local ocean currents in the future retreat (or expansion)  of the Antarctic ice shelf.

The Ross Ice Shelf is a massive expanse of floating ice that slows the release of about 20 per cent of grounded Antarctic ice out in the ocean, making understanding its evolution vital to predicting future sea level rise. (Or fall)

To better determine how the Ross Ice Shelf interacts with the ocean, atmosphere and underlying geology, an international team led by researchers from Columbia University set about conducting a comprehensive survey of the shelf.
This is no mean feat, as the Ross Ice Shelf is the size of Spain, and contains many areas in which the ice is more than a thousand feet thick, preventing traditional, ship-based, surveys of the sea floor.

Their solution was to develop IcePod, a unique, cargo-plane-mounted system designed specifically to collect high resolution data from the polar regions.

IcePod can measure both the height, thickness and internal structure of the ice shelf, as well as the magnetic and gravity-based signals from the underlying rock.

As they flew back-and-forth across the ice shelf, researchers noticed that IcePod's magnetometer — which measures the strength of the Earth's magnetic field — kept recording unusual signals as they crossed the middle of the shelf.
These magnetic anomalies, researchers concluded, were a reflection of a transition across a previously-unmapped segment of the geological boundary between the rocks of East and West Antarctica.

On the west side lies young sedimentary rocks, volcanic materials and stretched-out continental blocks, whereas the east side is characterised by ancient continental material and the remains of former mountain ranges.

Next, the team modelled the shape of the sea floor beneath the ice shelf using measurements of the Earth's gravitational field.

'We could see that the geological boundary was making the seafloor on the East Antarctic side much deeper than the West,' said lead researcher Kirsty Tinto, a polar geophysicist at Columbia University's Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory.

'That affects the way the ocean water circulates under the ice shelf,' she added"

Not carbon- Rocks affecting the way the ocean circulates. The earth itself.

"To find out how, the researchers used their newly-made map of the seabird to model the circulation under the Ross Ice Shelf and determine its effect on the shelf itself.

They found that little warm water reaches it in comparison with the Amundsen Sea in the east, where warm flows cross the shallow waters resulting in rapid melting of the overlying ice shelves.

Warmer shallow waters result in melting of the overlying ice shelves-"
 Shallow water is always warmer then deeper water....


"Instead, any water flowing under the ice shelf from the warmer deep ocean is first cooled in the Ross Sea by the cold winter atmosphere when it passes through a region of open water known as the Ross Shelf Polynya.

This cold water may melt deeper portions of east Antarctic glaciers, the researchers' model revealed, but such flows are steered away from the west Antarctic side by the depth change encountered at the ancient tectonic boundary.

The team were surprised to see, however, that the polynya might also lead to intense melting of the ice shelf's leading edge in the summer, with the open patch of water allowing for heating of the upper ocean."

The rock formation leads to an intense melting of the ice shelf leading edge in the summer. Huh! How about that? The formation of the earth is managing/affecting the ice shelf. Well, well, well...
"Together, the findings indicate the importance of considering local-scale ocean currents near the ice front in models used to predict future Antarctic ice loss, (or gain) rather than just large-scale changes in the circulation of warm, deep water.

'We found out that it's these local processes we need to understand to make sound predictions,' said Dr Tinto. "

It's Like A Heatwave..... NOT.

Update on the local climate- that is weather over an extended period of time.
It's cold. Right now it's a damp and dreary 53F or 12C. At 11:20 am May 29/19.

I've made a nice pot of chicken soup for supper- Because that's what one does at the end of May. Facetious. Not usually.

Yesterday, I mistakenly wore shorts because Monday had been not too bad, but, I was freezing. Goosebumpy legs. And of course it was raining. While I rode my bike. The garden is still not planted.
It's had it's initial tilling, but, is entirely covered in tarps. We had one row covered previously. One has garlic. therefore it's not covered.  The other two were uncovered previously. Now they are all covered.

Geofish points out all the heat in the ocean has gone South:  Winter in June -- Sad news on ocean currents May 27, 2019

And Yaya asks1936 - WHERE'S THE CARBON?
 
Lake Erie has leveled off though it's at record water levels
Lake Ontario's water level has not peaked as of yet.
The global warming cult had assured me long ago that the lakes would be at vastly lower levels...

"In reading through the many reports on this subject, most climate models suggest that we may see declines in lake levels over the next 100 years; one suggests that we may see declines of up to 2.5 meters (8.2 feet).  Granted, this is hardly conclusive; another model that suggests a “wetter” future climate over the Great Lakes projects a small increase in lake levels.  The truth is likely somewhere in between, with water levels falling between 0.23 meters and 2.5 meters."

That was yet another AGW prognostication that failed.

Geofish with his typical sense of humour has put up a post titled:

Gardening in Canada for the next 300 years

 

Geofish is using tarp as well- I'm not surprised.- my tarps are green.
 "This is now our life.  The peas are fine, but beans and tomatoes need some extra love.

As a minimum buy lots of the row cover from Amazon.  Who knows if it is enough, but it raises soil temperature a few degrees if we ever get sun.  The next step is a poly tunnel or plastic frame.

Next year we may have to go to a full greenhouse with lights and a heater, and that's just for the summer!

But for now, you take all this stuff off in July.  Don't bother putting it back in August, no sun.

ps.  if you don't want this future, like Penny, clap your hands and say:  "I believe in warmies."

How, I do wish I could believe the warmies- If  they were believable I'd have tomatoes and peppers and eggplant already in my garden. Instead they are sitting in  peat pots/cellpacks southside of the house, on the porch, waiting to be planted.  Forgive me Geofish, I cannot believe.

PS: I also line dry clothes in the warmer weather. Always have. This year has so far been so cold and damp, I'm continuing to use my clothes dryer. The exceptions were on the very few seasonal days when I did get to enjoy that line fresh smell.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

The Kurds are Creating a State Of Their Own In Northern Syria

Economist

"THE KURDS have their own name for northern Syria: Rojava, which means where the sun sets. For decades that seemed fitting. Arab nationalists pushed them off their land and suppressed their language. Then came the jihadists of Islamic State (IS). War with them levelled cities. But with IS defeated those cities are rising again. One of the largest, Kobane, is bigger and taller than before. It sports a towering war memorial and is hosting its second art fair. “We’ve had enough of the pain,” says Brivan Hammoush, a landscape artist.

Over the course of Syria’s multi-sided civil war, which began in 2011, the Kurds captured a third of the country (see map). In 2016 they declared their own autonomous region in Rojava, which contains most of Syria’s oilfields, its highest dams and its bread basket. Trade routes as old as the Silk Road run through the territory. Such valuable land is a boon to Rojava’s Kurdish-led administration. But it also attracts enemies. As they rebuild their region, the Kurds face threats, at home and from abroad. And many fear their strongest ally, America, will abandon them at the drop of a tweet.
For now things are looking up. Fighting, sanctions and a lack of funds stymie reconstruction in most of Syria, but juggernauts loaded with diggers and cement queue for miles at Rojava’s border with Iraq. Convoys of petrol tankers ply the highways to Damascus. Western-funded aid agencies repair infrastructure, hospitals and schools in the region. The parliament, formed in September, still meets in a high school. But that also means that politicians are accessible. Your correspondent got a meeting with the two heads of government simply by knocking on their office door."
While the Western powers impede every aspect of normalcy being able to come to the rest of Syria.. They simultaneously fund infrastructure repair and rebuilding in the stolen Syrian territory.

"On social issues Rojava’s leaders are rather progressive (SPIN) compared with those in much of the Middle East. Polygamy is outlawed. A man and a woman co-lead every office in government. A woman runs Raqqa, which IS once declared its capital. Few, if any, senior female officials wear a veil. The Kurds, though Muslim, are distinctly relaxed about it—they openly drink and smoke during the Ramadan fast. Faith is considered a private matter. To the delight of America’s evangelicals, a new church has opened in Kobane for the growing number of Christian converts.
But Rojava’s new rulers owe their power to gun-toting revolutionary committees, not the ballot box. They emerged from the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), which is based in northern Iraq and considered a terrorist group by many countries. Rojava has the trappings of a repressive one-party state. Protests are censured and opposition parties harassed. Officials say they are better than the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s dictator, or the rebels who fought him—a miserably low bar. “It’s just another totalitarian regime,” says a Kurdish journalist who fled abroad.
Rojava’s demography makes ruling hard. There are thought to be between 500,000 and 1m Kurds in the region, compared with at least 1.5m Arabs. So Kurdish officials have tried to broaden their appeal. In September they replaced the name Rojava with the more inclusive, but wordy, “autonomous administration of north and east Syria” (NES). They also moved the administrative capital from Qamishli, a Kurdish city, to Ain Issa, a drab Arab town. Arabs have been appointed to many senior positions in government. “We’re seeking a geographic federation, not an ethnic federation,” says Polat Can, a commander in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the local army. Half of Mr Can’s soldiers are Arab.
Still, the Arabs in Rojava feel increasingly alienated. Kurdish forces known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, lead the SDF. “Kurd or Arab?” ask guards of visitors at a military base. Arab sheikhs claim the Kurds have seized their land and are imposing their own customs. “They want us to bring our wives to tribal gatherings,” fumes one who considers such mingling of the sexes improper. Some speak of the Kurdish “occupation”. Protesters near Deir al-Zour’s oil wells have blocked access with burning tyres. “The Kurds”, they chant, “have stolen our oil.”
Turkey in the north and Mr Assad’s government in the south prey on the differences. They have each held tribal gatherings in an attempt to win over the Arabs of Rojava. Turkey wants to carve out a buffer zone on its southern border, which might contain Kurdish cities. Rojava, it says, offers the PKK a rear base to continue its 40-year war against the Turkish government. West of Manbij, Turkish tanks train their turrets on Kurdish positions. The Kurds have no air force and little heavy weaponry. They are no match for the Turkish army.

Nor can they challenge the army of Mr Assad, who says he wants to reclaim all of Syria. He is currently focused on Idlib, the last rebel stronghold. At the height of the war Mr Assad pulled his troops from the north to defend Damascus; the Kurds did not fight them. But the regime still holds some sway in Rojava. It runs the mobile-phone network and oversees many courts and schools. In the region’s only civilian airport, controlled by the regime, portraits of the dictator are ubiquitous and travellers who work for the NES risk arrest. A proposal by Russia, which backs Mr Assad, would have the Syrian army return to Rojava and turn Kurdish forces into local police.
Meanwhile, the threat of IS lingers. The jihadists set up impromptu checkpoints on highways. A ban on motorbikes in war-shattered Raqqa has only partially succeeded in curbing attacks on infrastructure. Officials describe camps crammed with displaced and disgruntled Arabs as potential incubators of jihadism. Many women in the region, still fearful of IS, continue to wear niqabs.

The Kurds are reassured by the presence of America. Some 2,000 of its troops are spread across the territory. Its warplanes buzz overhead and its forces deter the Turks. President Donald Trump appears to have backtracked from his tweet in December ordering a pullout from Syria. But uncertainty over America’s intentions complicates life for the Kurds. The local administration has found it harder to recruit and retain Arabs. Even the Kurds are hedging their bets. Rojava’s leaders recently went to Damascus for talks with Mr Assad’s intelligence chief. The founder of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, has urged them to “take account of Turkish sensitivities”.
Kurdish leaders in Syria aspire to be America’s permanent ally, like the Kurds next door in Iraq. But Rojava, unlike the Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq, lacks UN recognition. “You don’t know how long it’s going to last,” says a teacher in Qamishli. “You feel it’s built on sand.”
The creation of Rojova. On Syria's stolen territory. Was not happenstance. It was the PLAN 
So very reminiscent of the creation of Israel. Yah, I said that many, many years ago. Because, it was so obvious.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Breaking News: Israel Strikes Syria IDF Admits Culpability -Casualties Reported

 Updated:

This is breaking so here are the earliest reports:

Israel Strikes Targets in Syria: Casualties Reported


An Israeli missile struck a target in the Syrian province of Quneitra on Monday; the attack caused a number of casualties, the SANA news agency reported.
"An Israeli missile targeted Tel al-Shaar in Quneitra," the Syrian news agency stated, noting further that a "military vehicle was targeted and there are wounded".
After reports about the attack emerged, the IDF confirmed that it was behind the air strike on Syria.

RT:

Israeli military has said it attacked Syrian anti-aircraft position after Israeli warplane came under fire. Syrian TV earlier stated that Israel has carried out a missile strike in Syria’s Quneitra province.

Haaretz:  

Israel Strikes Syrian Target After Anti-aircraft Fire at Fighter Jet; Syria Says One Officer Killed
Israeli army spokesperson calls incident 'abnormal' violation of Israeli sovereignty
Israel struck a Syrian military target in Quneitra on Monday after an anti-aircraft missile was launched earlier at an Israeli fighter jet, the Israeli army said.

According to Syrian state media, one officer was killed and two others were wounded in the strike. The report added that Syrian air defense attacked an unmanned aerial vehicle that entered Syrian airspace near the southern suburb.

Charlotte Observer

Syrian state media says an Israeli rocket attack has struck the country's south, killing one soldier and injuring another.
The Monday report was carried on the Syrian state TV al-Ikhbariya and said one military vehicle was also damaged. It said the rocket landed in Tal al-Shaar in Quneitra on the edge of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
Israel said it was responding after an anti-aircraft fire from Syria targeted one of its combat planes in Israeli airspace.
Syrian media had reported earlier this month two incidents in which Israeli strikes hit inside southern Syria.

Read more here: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/nation-world/world/article230879504.html#storylink=cpy
Earlier:

Syria: Calls Grow for Intervention because of Chemical Weapons Use

UPDATE: Based on my reading of this incident. It seems to me Israel targeted the anti aircraft position. Intentionally. It seems to me they were in Syrian airspace and fired upon the SAA position. 

TIME

Syria said an Israeli attack against a military post in the country’s south on Monday killed a soldier and injured another. 

Israel, in a rare statement acknowledging firing into Syria, said it was responding to an anti-aircraft fire from Syria against one of its combat planes.

Reports stated that the anti aircraft missile landed on Syrian territory? Which is highly suggestive to me that Israel had entered in Syrian airspace.

Syrian state TV al-Ikhbariya quoted a military official saying that the Israeli attack came shortly after 2100 local time (1800GMT) and targeted a military outpost east of Khan Arnabeh

A statement from the Israeli army said that earlier Monday a Syrian anti-aircraft system fired at one of its aircraft “as it was carrying out a routine flight in Israel. The projectile landed in Syrian territory.
The Israeli military “sees any threat against its aircraft with great severity and takes measures to defend them.”

Syria: Calls Grow for Intervention because of Chemical Weapons Use

Briefly: Fighting continues on in Syria, in what still looks to be a limited operation to gain unfettered access to important highways.  The M4 and M5.  Not going to rehash the reasons passage via these main routes are absolutely necessary for Syria.

Syria had taken some strategic areas prior to the Russian declared ceasefire. But they lost one strategic town to HTS. They’ve since taken this town back and are holding it.


Link

Link
“The bombardment helped Russian-backed government forces capture the small town of Kafr Nabouda in northern Hama province, the third time it has changed hands in the latest offensive, sources on both sides said.”

Confirmed by all sides in the matter.
I’m still of the mind this is a limited operation in Hama/Idlib.

More worrying is this call for immediate intervention: Syrian Network for Human Rights

Immediate Intervention Must Be Made Through an International Coalition to Protect Civilians in Syria Like the NATO Intervention in Kosovo

Syrian Network for Human Rights is a No Good Organization


The Syrian Network for Human Rights is a non-political organization that affirms its commitment towards international standards, declarations, and conventions of human rights of the United Nations.

Partnered with:



The INTERNATIONAL COALITION FOR THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT

In plain talk the  Syrian Network for Human Rights is the "humanitarian" face of the interventionist Usrael/Britain/France (5/6 eyes network)

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Friday, May 24, 2019

Why is Carbon the Key to Life? On Earth. Where Lives Live.

Because it is. 
It's everything. 
It is the key to life entirely on this planet.
Which is why, it's regularly stated here the anti-carbon cult is, indeed, an anti- life cult.

US deploys 1,500 troops to Middle East

 The  National
The United States announced on Friday the deployment of 1,500 troops to the Middle East, describing it as an effort to bolster defences against Iran as it accused the country's Revolutionary Guards of direct responsibility for this month's tanker attacks.
US President Donald Trump publicly announced the 1,500 figure and described it as a defensive measure. The troops include personnel manning missile defence systems, aerial surveillance to spot threats and engineers to fortify defences.
"We want to have protection in the Middle East. We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective," Mr Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan.
The deployment marks a reversal of sorts for Mr Trump, who only on Thursday said he thought more troops were unnecessary. Mr Trump has sought to untangle the US military from open-ended conflicts in places like Syria and Afghanistan.
The deployment is relatively small, compared with the approximately 70,000 American troops now stationed across the region. In addition, some 600 of the 1,500 troops are already in the Middle East manning Patriot missiles, and will see their deployments extended.
The Trump administration this month ordered the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group, bombers and additional Patriot missiles to the Middle East, citing intelligence about possible Iranian preparations to attack US forces or interests.
Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, on Friday described US intelligence portraying a new Iranian "campaign" that used old tactics, and stretched from Iraq to Yemen to the waters in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital maritime choke-point for the global oil trade.

Additional Reading: Here 

“Right now, I don’t think Iran wants to fight. And I certainly don’t think they want to fight with us,” Trump said.
“But they cannot have nuclear weapons,” he continued. “They can’t have nuclear weapons. And they understand that.”

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Who's Stoking War Tensions Between Turkey and Russia?

Think about how disturbed the US is with Turkey's purchase of the s-400. The pipeline deals. Banking/trade deals. All made between Turkey and Russia. The threat to NATO's stability... since Turkey and Russia have been working together. This subject was broached in today's earlier post:

The Day After the S-400: Turkish American Relations Worsen

Then consider what party/ies wants.... needs, Turkey and Russia to be at odds with one another...

"it appears that HTS is seeking to provoke the Syrian regime and Russia into a larger attack with the hopes that Russia and Turkey might end up in a conflict. This is a complex and dangerous game. Turkey has announced numerous times recently that it is acquiring the S-400 air defense system from Russia. Most recently, Turkish personnel were supposed to begin training. At the same time, the US is seeking to keep Turkey as an ally through various threats and rewards, but angry that Ankara is buying the S-400 from Russia. There are hints that US President Donald Trump will speak with Turkey’s president soon. Idlib rebel groups and extremists would like to spoil the Turkey-Russia deal. It’s not clear what they think of the Turkey-US relationship.
 
Russian media may also be playing this up to send a message to Turkey that it needs to rein in the rebels and stop the rockets. In that case, Russia is also making it clear that the Idlib tensions need to be reduced. It is incumbent on Turkey to do more to prevent the groups in Idlib from targeting Russian forces. However, Russia also has a key role to play to prevent the Syrian regime from its recent attacks on Idlib. The Syrian regime’s agenda is also to prevent Turkey from entrenching itself forever in northern Syria. With Russia-Turkey ties increasing over the S-400 deal and energy deals, both Ankara and Moscow do not want war in Syria.
Which begs the questions.. who does want war in Syria?
What party/ies have always wanted Syria balkanized?
Who wants Russia and Turkey at odds with one another?
Who stands to lose large if Russian and Turkish ties grow stronger and deeper?


The Day After the S-400: Turkish American Relations Worsen

The Day After S-400: The Turkish-American Relationship Will Get Worse



For the geo political minded. Excerpts from a large, but interesting article.
"For the 500 or so days since Turkey and Russia signed an agreement for the acquisition and eventual deployment of the Russian S-400 air and missile system, the United States has sought to convince Turkey to back out. The United States is concerned that the Russian-made S-400 will collect valuable electronic intelligence about F-35, the American-made fighter jet Turkey is slated to receive in November. Talks between Washington and Ankara have taken place at the presidential level, amongst different elements of the civilian bureaucracy, between the two militaries, and at the parliamentary level — with no success. At this point, the United States needs to start planning for the day after the first S-400 is delivered. This exercise should inform U.S. thinking about how to plan around an increasingly recalcitrant Turkey and prepare for a future in which Ankara remains a NATO member, but one that operates an advanced Russian system that could help Russia glean useful data about the alliance’s air operations. Turkey risks legacy and current U.S.-Turkish defense co-production and development programs if it continues to deepen defense cooperation with Russia. For the United States, the situation is less bleak — in fact, searching for alternatives to Turkish military assets provide some strategic opportunities in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Still, working around Turkey will be financially and politically costly for NATO. The deepest, most intractable problem is what the dustup reveals about Turkey’s lack of commitment to the core NATO tenets of interoperability, burden-sharing and collective defense — an outcome that weakens the entirety of the alliance, including the United States......
Deepening Turkish-Russian Defense Ties
Since the late 1970s, in procurement negotiations with Western aerospace firms, the Turkish government has prioritized co-producing and developing defense equipment in Turkey. In the case of S-400, Ankara departed from this historical norm and agreed to weaker co-production terms than it had previously demanded of firms in the United States and Europe. This is disconcerting, but could actually help shield legacy U.S.-Turkish defense cooperation from being negatively impacted by the deal with Russia. However, if Ankara were to actually reach agreement for the co-production of combat aircraft, like the Russian Su-57, as the foreign and defense ministers have hinted is being discussed, things could get worse. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has underscored a willingness to explore deeper ties with Russia. In an interview with Turkey’s NTV that “if the F-35s don’t work out, I will again have to procure the jets I need from elsewhere … There are [Russian] SU-34, SU-57 and others. I will absolutely meet my needs from somewhere until I can produce it myself.”

Sergei Chemezov, the CEO of Russia’s Rostec Corporation, has suggested that his firm would consider a request from Turkey “about the production localization or technology transfer” for the Su-57 jet. Chemezov also added that Moscow would consider working with Turkey on S-500, a surface to air missile still under development in Russia, and which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cited as missile Turkey intends to “co-produce with Russia.” Moscow has an incentive to hold key technology back, owing to Turkey’s membership in NATO and legitimate concerns that the United States could exploit Russian-origin technology in Turkey.....

 ....if the two sides were to reach an arrangement similar to the now-defunct Russian-Indian partnership for the production of an Su-57 variant that involves Turkish aerospace firms, the risk to U.S.-Turkish defense programs will grow more acute. Specifically, If Ankara were to reach agreement with Russia to co-produce components of either of these systems, the United States could decide that Russia could gain access to U.S. origin defense equipment, resulting in the revocation of licenses for U.S.-controlled technology.

All of this matters for the United States. Independent of the bilateral tensions, Washington has a very strong interest in each NATO member having a strong military, capable of working closely with the United States. But a weakened Turkey, faced with American sanctions, could choose to deepen its reliance on Russia. This outcome will benefit Russia, but at this point, Moscow is playing with house money because of Ankara’s initial decision to purchase the S-400.
America’s Options: NATO’s New Eastern Flank
Beyond the risk to legacy defense cooperation, the United States will soon have to contend with how to plan NATO training exercises if it can’t trust Turkey to protect the F-35. The first and most tangible outcome may require moving the F-35 engine maintenance facility from Eskisehir, Turkey, to the Netherlands. As part of Turkey’s participation in the F-35 consortium, it is currently slated to serve as Europe’s primary engine maintenance hub. This is certain to change, given the concerns about flying allied F-35s in and out of S-400-patrolled Turkish airspace. Second, in any future NATO air exercise in Turkey, NATO countries could simply choose not to send F-35 for joint training.

It would be imprudent not to expect Ankara to take some retaliatory measures, most likely aimed at aspects of the U.S.-Turkish defense relationship. Retaliating in this fashion is complicated because of Turkey’s NATO membership and the terms in the Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement (DECA). The agreement limits U.S. military activities in and from Turkish military bases to NATO-related missions, meaning the Turkish government must approve any so-called “out of area” missions. In theory, Turkey could retaliate against the withholding of F-35 by preventing the United States from using Turkish territory for combat operations in the Middle East. This reaction would ensure that Turkey’s role within NATO remains intact, but also that the United States feels some pain for the forthcoming sanctions.
This would mean Turkey would still host an American operated TPY/2 radar because it supports NATO’s effort to field ballistic missile defense to protect European populations from missile attack. The radar provides early warning and discrimination data for the two Aegis ashore missile defense sites at Romania’s Deveselu Air Force Base and Poland’s Redzikowo Air Force Base. These two bases also provide the United States with options to work around Turkey. Romania and Poland are two countries that would welcome an increased U.S. presence. The United States should consider increasing funding to support American and NATO air operations from the Polish and Romanian air bases."
NATO's eastern flank has been discussed here previously- It has the convenient aspect of working to keep Russia in check


Going back to 2014: US Paratroopers go to Poland & Poland Largest Nation on NATO Frontline

 "Both Poland and Turkey are frontier NATO states, with Poland being described as “the largest and most important NATO frontline state in terms of military, political and economic power.” These two geostrategic states also have an overwhelming population when compared to their neighbors, as well as national inferiority complexes stemming from their lost imperial legacies (the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Ottoman Empire). They share a significant land border with the states targeted for a ‘democratic transition’, as well as important cultural and political connections with those societies (as a result of the aforementioned imperial legacies)"
 2018: NATO Needs a Strategy for Countering Russia in the Arctic and the Black Sea
Eastern Flank con't:
"This move would increase U.S. basing options in Europe, while using the Russian entente with Turkey as an opportunity to increase NATO presence along the alliance’s eastern periphery. In essence, Washington could flip the script and use Russia’s outreach to Turkey to its advantage, deepening its presence in eastern Europe and reminding Moscow of American capabilities at the edges of Russian territory....."
Greece- An alternative to Turkey
Readers have certainly been informed of this possibility!

Recently: One and Two  reports on the topic
"Greece could emerge as another attractive candidate. One option is Andravida Air Force Base, which hosts the INIOHOS multinational exercise involving aircraft from Cyprus, Italy, Israel, and the United Arab Emirate, alongside the Hellenic and American Air Forces. A second option is increasing the U.S. footprint at Larissa Air Base. The Air Base currently hosts U.S. drones, as their permanent base in Africa undergoes repairs. Moreover, according to the local Greek Daily, Kathimerini, there are talks to base KC-135 tankers at Larissa. A U.S. presence at either Air Base would offer increased protection from long-range Russian missiles, while also increasing the U.S. footprint in the Mediterranean NATO member."

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

U.S. Says Signs Syria May Be Using Chemical Weapons- Response Will Be Quick

Reuters UK
The United States sees signs the Syrian government may be using chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack on Sunday in northwest Syria, the State Department said on Tuesday, warning that Washington and its allies would respond “quickly and appropriately” if this were proven.
“Unfortunately, we continue to see signs that the Assad regime may be renewing its use of chemical weapons, including an alleged chlorine attack in northwest Syria on the morning of May 19,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.
“We are still gathering information on this incident, but we repeat our warning that if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons, the United States and our allies will respond quickly and appropriately,” she said.
The State Department statement accused Russia and Assad’s forces of “a continuing disinformation campaign ... to create the false narrative that others are to blame for chemical weapons attacks.” 

This claim is certainly making the rounds:
  1. Daily Mail: Trump Admin Warns Assad Gov 
  2.  CNN
The US State Department issued a warning to the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria on Tuesday, saying the US is closely watching the regime's military operations against a rebel enclave in northwest Syria and is looking into allegations that Assad's troops have used chemical weapons in recent days.
"Watching the regime's military operations" that is an interesting claim. 
Since I noticed there was little to no western media coverage reporting on the fact that a ceasefire had been declared. Days ago.

 Sputnik

Terrorists in Syria are planning chemical attacks in the Idlib deescalation zone, as well as in the west of the Aleppo province, the head of the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation said on Tuesday.

"The militants plan to stage such provocations in the village of Jarjanaz, as well as in the town of Saraqib, where a group of children and adults — refugees from the southern provinces of Syria — have already been gathered.
Similar preparations are underway in the west of Aleppo province", Maj. Gen. Viktor Kupchishin said at a daily briefing.

Two shells are  reported to have landed in Aleppo

 Two shells fall in the centre of the Syrian city of Aleppo, Reuters reported citing Syria’s Ikhbariya television.

 Gotta say I'm getting that feeling the US and friends are looking for an excuse. Any excuse.
What will tomorrow bring?

Monday, May 20, 2019

Russian Ceasefire Likely Affords Temporary Delay in Idlib

   Agreed that this ceasefire is temporary- It looks, from where I'm sitting on the other side of the world, that SAA got done what it needed to do for now. Meanwhile Turkey and Russia negotiate..
See the earlier post from today.
 Janes

I'm underlining and have placed an * beside the points that seem valid:
 Janes-*The Russian Ministry of Defence unilaterally announced a ceasefire in the opposition-held Idlib pocket on 19 May.
Previously- Syria: Army Declares Unilateral Ceasefire- Israel attacks. Again
 Previously- Turkey and Russia Negotiate to Reach a Ceasefire: Idlib/Syria
Janes: *This followed a limited advance by government forces into northern Hama province in recent weeks, in which the government captured the town of Kafr Nabouda and neighbouring villages, reportedly displacing around 150,000 civilians.

   *The Syrian government's military objective in Idlib is most likely to recapture the M4 and M5 highways and the Sahl al-Ghab valley.
*The Syrian government does not have the military capacity to retake and hold all remaining opposition-held territories in northwestern Syria in a conventional operation.
It is instead likely to rely on the indiscriminate use of airstrikes, artillery, and potentially chlorine, to drive out the civilian population and stoke up a catastrophic humanitarian crisis that will make it increasingly difficult for the opposition to hold ground and ultimately force the opposition and its sponsor  (I do think that) Turkey (is) into negotiating a political settlement on the Syrian government's (and Russia's) terms. (Terms that all three parties will agree to and comply with)
*Offensive ground operations by the Syrian government will most likely focus on capturing areas of strategic value, such as the M4 and M5 highways, which connect Syria's economic capital of Aleppo to Latakia and Homs, and the fertile agricultural land of the Sahl al-Ghab valley.

   * The progress of military action in Idlib is partially dependent on ongoing negotiations between Turkey and Russia over other regional issues.
As critical military sponsors of the Syrian government and armed opposition, respectively, *Russia and Turkey are likely to use their influence over the conflict in Idlib to strengthen their respective negotiating positions on other regional issues, such as the fate of Kurdish-held northeastern Syria, and Turkey's acquisition of Russia's S-400 surface-to-air missile system.
*The success of any Syrian government offensive into Idlib relies on Russian approval and air support. Russia is likely to enable and, if necessary, halt the progress of the government's offensive in line with Turkey's willingness or ability to accede to Russian demands on other issues.
 There's been a whole lot of coverage here on Hama/Idlib, recently. Syria and all that it entails have been a core topic at this blog since 2011.

Related:

  1. Syria: Blow by Blow 4- Hama to Idlib

  2. US Backed Kurds Kill Protestors- Idlib/Hama Update

  3. "Russia and Turkey landgrab 'behind fresh Syria bombardment' "

  4. Syria: Blow by Blow 3- Idlib, Opening Highways/Taking Higher Ground?
  5. Syria: Blow by Blow Updated

  6. Syria: Blow by Blow

Assad: We Met With Hakan Fidan In Tehran & Ready to Meet With Erdogan

I've zero doubt that Syrian intelligence has met with Turkish intelligence. 
And continues to meet with them. It only makes sense that there is communication.

Link

President Bashar al-Assad has revealed that a Syrian delegation met with the head of Turkish intelligence, Hakan Fidan, in the Iranian capital Tehran, and held another meeting at the Kassab border crossing, and expressed his readiness to meet Erdogan.

Assad added that, “the Turkish officers are more understanding about what is happening in our country than Turkish politicians. There are major differences regarding Syria in Erdogan’s government.”

This came during statements Assad made to a Turkish journalist, Mehmet Yuva, from the Aydinlik newspaper, saying: “We are open to cooperating with Turkey … and if it is in Syria’s interests and does not encroach on its sovereignty, we can meet Erdogan.”

Assad held a closed meeting with representatives of official and private media on May 8, 2019, responding to journalists’ questions about all local and regional issues.
For his article, Yuva used the headline: “Paranoia… will a meeting be held between Assad and Erdogan?” He wrote that Assad said that “Turkey is an important country in the region and the Syrian government is ready to cooperate with them.”
In discussing the meeting between the two countries, Assad stressed that, “we are not just negotiating with Turkey through Russia and Iran. Turkish and Syrian officers have discussed a number of points.”
It's been suggested here on many an occasion that Syria negotiates with Turkey through Russia. And vice versa.
Assad revealed that, “The most important of these negotiations were at the Kassab border crossing between the Turkish province of Hatay and the Syrian province of Latakia.”

Assad and delegation were  in Tehran Feb. 25/2019 "Rare trip abroad"


 

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met Iranian officials in his first visit to the Islamic Republic since the start of the Syrian conflict, Syrian state media reported. 
Assad met Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani on his first trip to Iran since the war erupted nearly eight years ago. Assad has only ventured outside his war-ravaged nation twice since the conflict began, both times to Russia.


Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu spoke on Monday about reducing tensions in northern Syria's Idlib, the last major rebel enclave in the country.

"MoD Akar discussed over the phone with his Russian counterpart Shoigu regional security issues, especially the latest developments in Syria’s Idlib province and measures to be taken to reduce the tension in the area, within the scope of the Sochi agreement," the Turkish Ministry of Defence said in a tweet on Monday.

MoD Akar discussed over the phone with his Russian counterpart Shoigu regional security issues, especially the latest developments in Syria’s Idlib province and measures to be taken to reduce the tension in the area, within the scope of the Sochi agreement. pic.twitter.com/ngI9H8T7p2
    — T.C. Millî Savunma Bakanligi (@tcsavunma) 20 Mayis 2019
 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Syria: Army Declares Unilateral Ceasefire- Israel attacks. Again.

Continuing with coverage of Hama/Idlib. From yesterday: Turkey and Russia Negotiate to Reach a Ceasefire: Idlib/Syria

Link
Russia says Syrian government forces have unilaterally ceased fire in the northern Idlib province, the last major rebel stronghold.
Fighting erupted in Idlib late last month, effectively shattering a cease-fire negotiated by Russia and Turkey that had been in place since September. Russia has firmly backed President Bashar Assad's government in the eight-year civil war, while Turkey has supported the opposition.
In a brief statement on Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry's Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Sides in Syria said government forces had ceased fire as of midnight. It described the move as unilateral, but did not give details.
Link
The centre continued by saying that the Syrian Army unilaterally ceased fire in Idlib starting from May 18.
"Starting from midnight [21:00 GMT on Friday], the Armed Forces of the Syrian Arab Republic unilaterally ceased fire in the Idlib de-escalation zone. At the same time, the shelling of the government forces' positions and civilian population in the provinces of Hama, Latakia and Aleppo by militants continue", the center said in a statement.

Doesn't mean the situation won't heat up in Idlib again. It just means for now SAA has taken the strategic ground they've needed to take- with coordination from Turkey (removing their rebels) And they are going to hold that area. 

If you've not been following along?
"For Russia and the Syrian regime, Turkish advances have been characterized by land swaps. This process began with the Olive Branch operation, when Turkey’s takeover of Afrin was accompanied by a Syrian military advance toward the former Hijaz railway in Aleppo Governorate. These swaps have not introduced any procedure for withdrawals, so that each side has been left on its respective battlefield."
  1. Syria: Blow by Blow 4- Hama to Idlib

  2. US Backed Kurds Kill Protestors- Idlib/Hama Update

  3. "Russia and Turkey landgrab 'behind fresh Syria bombardment' "

  4.  May 07/2019: Syria: Blow by Blow 3- Idlib, Opening Highways/Taking Higher Ground?
Included personal observations/thoughts as to what was occurring:

Appears a very targeted operation is going on at this moment.

I'm thinking a limited operation to take back specific territory.  

5- Syria: Blow by Blow Updated

6- Syria: Blow by Blow



Lastly: Israel did attack Syria. Again. Twice in 24 hours:
Link

Syria claimed its air defenses on Saturday night shot down a number of missiles fired from Israel, for the second time in less than 24 hours.
The official SANA news agency said the military intercepted “hostile targets coming from direction of occupied territories.” Syrian state TV said the missiles were shot down over Quneitra and near Damascus.
Link 

The report comes less than 24 hours after the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said that Syrian air defence systems shot down a number of "luminous objects" launched from "occupied territories."
On Saturday, Syrian air defences fired at projectiles that were launched from Israeli-controlled areas into southern Syria, according to state media. The SANA correspondent reported from Quneitra Province that the "objects" were dealt with from the ground.
Meanwhile, videos of bright spots in the night, with the caption saying that Syrian air defences fired at targets coming from Israel, were published online. 
​This comes as on late Friday SANA reported that Syria repelled an attack by "luminous" objects launched from Israel and shot down a "number of them". The Ikhbariya broadcaster reported that the projectiles were fired from the "occupied territories," referring to Israel, but didn't specified the exact launch location.

Read more here: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/nation-world/world/article230585394.html#storylink=cpy