Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 08, 2018

Syria - U.S. May Have Arranged "Self Defense" Attack On Syrian Government Forces

Last night the illegal U.S. occupation force in north-east Syria attacked a group of Syrian government aligned troops and their Russian support. The incident happened north-east of Deir Ezzor city on the east side of the Euphrates. The U.S. claims that it killed some 100 Syrian soldiers that were allegedly attacking its proxy forces in an attempt to recover oil fields.

There is a factual separation of areas south-west of the Euphrates under Syrian government control and north-east of the Euphrates under U.S. occupation. But several locations around Manbij, Raqqa and Deir Ezzor contradict that and are under control of the respective other side. The U.S. claims that a "de-confliction line" along the Euphrates is agreed upon. The Syrian government says that no such agreement exists.

A small area across the Euphrates north-east of Deir Ezzor had been taken by Syrian government forces months ago. It is near some oilfields which the U.S. wants to keep away from the Syrian government.


"The U.S. wants to keep Syria weak and poor," says Prof. Joshua Landis. According to Landis the U.S. is keeping the north-east of Syria under occupation to deny Syria access to its oil and its best agricultural land. It wants to turn Syria into a swamp for Russia and Iran to the benefit of mostly Israel.

The valuable oil and gas fields are currently in the hands of local Arab tribes who earlier worked with the Islamic State and are now, the U.S. claims, allied with the YPG/PKK Kurds under the name Syrian Democratic Forces. The SDF is the U.S. local proxy force for its occupation.

On the Syrian government side in Deir Ezzor are a few Syrian troops, local militia from the area, as well as members of Russian private military contractor named Wagner Group. Wagner allegedly has a contract with the Syrian government that will give it some 25% of all revenues from oil-fields it recovers and protects.

Last night the U.S. military announced that it had "self defended" against an attack by Syrian government troops on Syrian ground:

Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters Feb. 7.

Coalition service members in an advise, assist, and accompany capacity were co-located with SDF partners during the attack eight kilometers east of the agreed-upon Euphrates River de-confliction line.

In defense of Coalition and partner forces, the Coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression against partners engaged in the Global Coalition's defeat-Daesh mission.

Reuters reports:

More than 100 fighters aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were killed overnight when U.S. coalition and coalition-backed local forces repelled their attack in eastern Syria, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

The heavy death toll underscored the large size of the attack, which the U.S. official said included about 500 opposing forces, backed by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars. The official spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
No American troops were killed or wounded in the incident, officials said.

Some U.S. troops had been embedded at the time with Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose headquarters in Syria’s Deir al-Zor province had been a target of the attack.

One SDF fighter was wounded, the official said.

The U.S.also claims that it had seen preparations for the Syrian move and had warned the Russian command in Syria in advance:

The U.S.-led coalition had alerted Russian officials about the presence of SDF forces in the area far in advance of the thwarted attack, the U.S. official said.

Other sources say that there have been talks between Wagner and locals Arabs guarding the currently unproductive "Conoco" oil and gas field operation near the town of Khisham.

Hassan Hassan @hxhassan - 12:17 AM - 8 Feb 2018
5. Interesting, about a week ago, local reports also suggested an imminent deal to hand over the plant to the regime through an Arab faction within the SDF.

A translation of an earlier report from the opposition Al-Etihad media seems to confirm that some deal had been made:

Activists said Assad forces and Shiite militias have gathered near the villages of Bakkara Akidat, Dahla and Sabah in the eastern suburbs of Deir-ez-Zor (east of the Euphrates) near the Conoco gas field, which is controlled by Kurdish forces.

The sources added that the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces informed the U.S.-led coalition forces of these developments. The coalition urged SDF fighters not to resist the regime forces and surrender the area.

The activists added that the SDF has already withdrawn heavy weapons from their areas held by Arab and Turkmen factions.

Might this whole operation have been a trap? The U.S. military clearly knew that something was going to happen in the area. Local deals were made between the Syrian government side and locals Arabs holding the oil fields. The U.S. told the SDF to move out of the way. When the government aligned groups started to take over the field, as presumably agreed upon, the U.S. bombed them.

The "attack on coalition forces" the U.S. claimed as justification for its bombing seems not to have taken place at all. How else does one explain that sole casualty of the claimed battalion size attack with strong artillery support is "one wounded SDF" fighter? A later U.S. military statement to a journalist seems to be vague about the reality of an attack:

After 20 to 30 artillery and tank rounds landed within 500 meters of the SDF headquarters location, Syrian Democratic Forces supported by the Coalition targeted the aggressors with a combination of air and artillery strikes.

Is the U.S. military emphasizing the "SDF headquarters location" because the headquarter was no longer there as the SDF had already withdrawn from it? And why is a tank round landing some 500 meters away seen as a direct attack? Tanks rounds may deviate from the targeted point by a meter or two. There is no chance that rounds landing some 500 meters away were intended to hit the headquarter location. Whatever the Syrian forces have been hitting at, if they hit at all, was not the SDF headquarter location.

The story the U.S. military is trying to sell here stinks.

The incident seems comparable to the unprovoked U.S. attack on Syrian troops in September 2016. That air attack killed 100 Syrian troops who were then encircled and holding out against Islamic State forces. At that time it nearly enabled the Takfiris to eliminate that last Syrian government position in the east.

There has recently been a chain of provocations against Russian and Syrian forces in Syria. Two massive drone swarm attacks were directed  against the Russian air-port in Hememim and its naval base in Tartus. This week well targeted mortar rounds from east-Ghouta have hit the Russian trade mission in Damascus and severely damaged it. A Russian aid-distribution point in Damascus was similarly attacked just while leaders of some Russian non-government organizations were visiting it. Over Idleb a Russian jet was shot down with a rare MANPADS. All three were beyond the material and intelligence capabilities of the "rebel" forces.

The ludicrous "chlorine gas attack" propaganda against Syria is back in full force. Despite a Russian-Turkish-Iranian de-escalation agreement with Turkey, al-Qaeda and other "rebel" forces in Idleb governorate still seem to receive unlimited supplies through Turkish borders. Israel is attacking targets in Syria and tries to extend its occupation of the Golan heights.

The U.S. war against Syria and its allies continues with full force even while the U.S. pretends that no such war is happening at all. The intend to create the swamp Prof. Landis talks about is hidden behind clandestine operations, "self defense" action and "humanitarian" blubber.

The U.S. should be careful. More than one side can play dirty games. Its troops in north-east Syria have thin supply lines and are not well protected. They, as well as U.S. forces in Iraq, are vulnerable to clandestine activities of the other side. I would not be surprised at all should they suddenly receive some unwanted and very bloody attention.

Posted by b on February 8, 2018 at 08:34 AM | Permalink

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of course the usa has an excuse for continuing to be in afganistan for the past 17 years, and in iraq for the past 15 years, and in all the different places in the world for however many zillion years... the usa is one bullshit country and that is plain for anyone to see, and i mean anyone - including any person living in the usa.. there is no excuse for ignorance here... the excuses the usa offers are all bullshit..

Posted by: james | Feb 8, 2018 11:29:54 PM | 101

"military keynsianism" and "rapine" -- aren't they the everlasting dual faces of the shekel? you know, that coin required for tribute at the Temple, marked "befriend" on one side and "betray" on the other.

Great report, great comments. Intellectual Mount Olympus here.

Posted by: mireille | Feb 8, 2018 11:35:16 PM | 102

James. Great observations (once again).

And BTW: Congratulations to Bernhard for getting a shout out from Eric Zuesse!

Back to James. For years now, I’ve been making excuses for USAmericans since we are victims of an awesome 24/7 scientifically-created propaganda apparatus, and many are so overworked as to have little time to process it. But I, too am pretty much fed up.

Just as we must remain willfully ignorant of what must be going on for us to be able to buy such cheap products, at this point ignorance of US war policy must be willful for most.

And former Faux Newz Blonde, Heather Nauert must have missed her boss’s repositioning of US interests, in that defeating “terrorism” is no longer a priority. It’s all Russia and China now. As far as Syria is concerned, “Assad must go” is the refrain (again).

Posted by: Daniel | Feb 8, 2018 11:58:54 PM | 103

@99 James, that answer from Nauert is priceless: ....."The United States is there to defeat ISIS, for no other purpose. We are there also to stabilize the country"....

Err, so that would be TWO purposes then, Ms Nauert?

Or does the word "also" mean something different in State-Speak than its commonly-accepted plain-English definition?

That sort of double-speak takes me way, way back to my youth.

To here -

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Feb 9, 2018 12:08:45 AM | 104

Partisan@80 -

"...I yet to see video which will make me to Believe that Su-25 is downed by Igla-S..."

Agree. The one video of the supposed head-chopper launch (who knows) shows an initially low/flat trajectory followed by a rapid climb - more characteristic of certain FIM-92 Stinger flight paths vs. Igla or FN-6. But that's a horribly low-confidence observation and assumes the vid has anything to do with the incident that day (despite intermingled shots of Su-25s far, far away).

"...What I saw I interpret as a warplane malfunction, probably the Compressor Stall - and the pilot's inability to recover power..."

1) Su-25M engines have no noted propensity to stall/surge except when ingesting smoke from firing rockets, 2) a compressor stall is even less likely during recovery/rollout after a shallow rocket attack dive, 3) the Su-25M (like the A-10) is designed to fly on one engine. Flameout and a failed restart would not bring a Frogfoot down - it would only generate a long string of expletives from the angry Russian pilot strapped inside it.

"...One of the reasons for downing, we are told, is that Su-25 do not have flares, which is not true, if one goes to wikipedia Su-25 is clearly stated that warplane has that..."

I had not seen that claim in any articles, but they do have a multi-cartridge flare/chaff dispenser as you noted. Fifty-some flares IIRC, so it may have ran out if it was doing multiple rocket runs that day (3-5 per run). If it was dropping gravity bombs above SAM range, then the pilot may just not have armed the dispenser to drop for the rocket run.

In any case, flares may not have made any difference. Recent MANPADS models use dual-band IR/UV seekers (Chinese FN-6, US FIM-92 Stinger, Russian Igla-S) or tri-band seekers (Russian Verba) to distinguish between flares and engine exhaust. Flares are old-school and have become fairly useless as a counter-measure except for the older IR-seeking missiles. The Su-25 (like the A-10) has no active IR jammer (DIRCM), and they are unlikely to be effective against 3rd and 4th gen MANPADS anyway.

Su-25s have forward- and rear-looking UV sensors to detect approaching missiles, but only while their engine is burning (not during post-burn coast). Not sure how good they are against MANPADS, and without anything but flares and a warning buzzer, fairly useless.

"...Nowhere I had seen fumes from the missile and moment when it hits target..."

The sustainer motor on the rocket does not burn continuously. 6 seconds for a FIM-92 Stinger, not sure about the others. Even before the end of burn, the missile is near supersonic speeds and the smoke trail is nearly invisible. Many online videos are of training shots at nearby decoys, so it appears that a distinct, continuous smoke trail extends from the ground to the target. This is not the case in real-world use. In testing and development shots, the fuel is formulated to enhance the smoke trail. Videos of these shots show an exaggerated, dense white trail. The real versions have a faint brown smoke trail.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Feb 9, 2018 12:29:38 AM | 105

The AQ video I saw of the shoot down was an explosion at the rear of one engine then the engine on fire. I had initially thought the pilot had bailed too early but as the second engine also went out, rods or whatever was used as projectiles may well have cut fuel or electrical lines to the second engine.

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Feb 9, 2018 12:50:21 AM | 106

@78 Red Ryder
I agree
The sooner Russia upgrades Syria's air defenses the better. Self defense is always much more difficult to propagandize as aggression and a large part of this war is the mainstream western media's lack of integrity in characterizing Assad as the villain and the USA as the hero

Posted by: Ike | Feb 9, 2018 2:08:02 AM | 107

Yep, the frogs are great mates with AQ in Idlib
Idlib24 is an independent local news platform that works under the umbrella of @24CRgroup Idlib, Syria

@24Idlib = Le Monde

Posted by: Peter AU 1 | Feb 9, 2018 3:09:09 AM | 108

Very good article. I love this site and the comments. I will donate in a week's time, couldn't do it just after Christmas. I make sure it will be double.

Posted by: Peter | Feb 9, 2018 3:21:31 AM | 109

Sounds that Kim has a bigger button after all

Posted by: Mina | Feb 9, 2018 5:55:01 AM | 110

Christian Chuba says:

I wonder what the morale is like for the U.S. military abroad

US forces invaded Afghanistan about three weeks after 9/11, so it had obviously been planned months before that.

the WMD lies were pretty much exposed and confirmed within months of the bombardment of Baghdad.

every US soldier in Syria knows that his presence there is completely illegal.


Traditionally, the suicide rate in the Army has been considerably lower than that in the general population, and the current rate is more than triple that which existed in the Army prior to 2001(link)

Posted by: john | Feb 9, 2018 5:55:49 AM | 111

Americunts need to start dying in Syria. Only then the moronish followers of president clown Trump might realize, that they didn't vote for a peaceful alternative.

Posted by: Tageslicht | Feb 9, 2018 5:57:18 AM | 112

Report of ISIS attack on SDF in Deir Ez-zor Governorate but no massive American response:

Multiple #PKK killed and a vehicle destroyed by guided missile and 9 killed in IED attack in Al-Bahra- #DeirEzzor, #Syria

Who is to say the attackers weren't from SDF/DEMC or from the tribes that used to be allied with ISIS. Is the United States using these jihadist forces to control SDF/YPG? Looks increasingly like it. Why does USG retain pockets of ISIS opposite Abu Kamal and on Iraqi border? So it can cause trouble for SDF/YPG and SAA whenever it wants to.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Feb 9, 2018 6:20:36 AM | 113

>>>> Mina | Feb 9, 2018 5:55:01 AM | 109

The US vice-president left the venue after five minutes, Yonhap said.

Does the man have any dignity? Does he even have cojones? Running back to mamma. Pathetic. He's just ruined any chance he had of embarrassing North Korea during the Olympics, so we should approve of his behaviour, I suppose. Will Trump now fire him?

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Feb 9, 2018 6:33:01 AM | 114

Dear Paul:
so "syria will kiss the ass of the hegemon as you say. Will be dismembered. Russia take the back seat!"
This paulish view is deeply moving to any zio or imperial heart.
Tell me, my faithful and pious indispensablist and exceptionalist paul, what the hell is the Syrian/russian 49 year treaty for the military bases of Tartus and Kmeiny for?
Where is precisely located inside syria 75% at least of syrian population? What is the actual Hesbullah position within Lebanon entity e what does does the Moscow/hesbullah aliance mean for the whole mediterranean east coast?
AND given that the zioanglo empire will be a toothless lion in at most 15 years (just see my good will, paulick!)
what U see as vastly more PROBABLE to happen in the future: one or two kurdish/american desertic country 'state' in east Euphrates
or a steady and non sectarian Syrian state in whole of syria?

Posted by: augusto | Feb 9, 2018 6:53:02 AM | 115

Wow! The Americans really don't stand a chance against the Russians and Syrians. It would appear that the SAA is now herding ISIS from the North Hama Pocket into the Idlib Pocket. Like a herd of scorpions, ISIS is lashing out at both the SAA and started fighting HTS as soon as the entered the Idlib Pocket. My guess is that the SAA will use ISIS to fix HTS and then launch another attack to surround HTS fighting ISIS and create another pocket to wipe more of HTS. Repeat this several times and the Idlib pocket will be gone It looks like the Syrians, etc. are giving the United States a masterclass in how to use enemies to stick it to other enemies.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Feb 9, 2018 7:07:17 AM | 116

A little theory: Turkey is one of the targets of the "demonstrative power" of the attack on SAA allies. USA gave up on putting an umbrella over Afrin . Not too smart, but it is hard to smartly implement moronic strategy, nevertheless Afrin is a major reason YPG is forced to have a polite relationship with Damascus government, so a project to create an anti-Damascus state from the territories controlled by SDF may require a little amputation: bye-bye Afrin and Sheik Massud (Aleppo enclave). But for Erdogan, the only importance of Afrin is its vulnerability to Turkey, while the specter of PKK getting modern weapons, anti-tank, anti-aircraft, from south of the border threatens from the lands under American umbrella.

Thus Erdogan threatened to invade those lands and already made some perfunctory attempts near Manjib. So we have Turkish overt threats and discrete American threats.

The other reason is the threat that the putative statelet will erode as various groups prefer to be in Syria in the long term. Once Damascus government has more extensive presence to NE of Euphratus this process can pick up, so "the rot had to be stopped".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 9, 2018 7:40:11 AM | 117

Oil is likely the reason that we're in Syria at all. Protecting Israel and their zionista goals? Hell no, they can take care of themselves.

Oil is the reason that we're doing anything, anywhere remotely close to the middle east and central asia.

It was the real reason behind the lie of Sept 11th that we went into Afghanistan at all. It's the real reason that we're still in Afghanistan today. The Taliban didn't want to play ball with the US and build a pipeline for us. So we went in.

The US was more than happy to set up the Taliban as revenue partners and they had no issues at all in their terrorism, and of course, they had nothing to do at all with Sept 11th.

So Syria is likely an oil play as well. It's what we do.

Posted by: John | Feb 9, 2018 9:45:22 AM | 118

The country that plans to spend 300 billion euros in its army for the coming 7 years can't face a bit of snow.

Posted by: Mina | Feb 9, 2018 10:12:32 AM | 119

Re: Posted by: Ian | Feb 8, 2018 1:34:39 PM | 51

It's too bad that China chickened out by delaying (again) the roll out of the oil-in-yuan future contract. IMO, I don't believe Seoul will ever switch camps. They're firmly part of the AAZ Empire. I might be convinced IF they take back control of their military leadership, as I believe the US dominates it.

I bet the Russians asked the Chinese to hold off on the yuan for oil contract until after the World Cup.

Why rock the fragile global geopolitical economic boat just before Russia is about to enjoy a month in the sun??

Maybe sometime after that would be better. Or maybe not before the US Mid-Terms. Does Russia want Trump impeached or not? I'd say they'd prefer Trump to any possible alternatives so they'd like to see Trump at least hold the line in the Mid-Terms.

So maybe we're looking at 2019 then....

Posted by: Julian | Feb 9, 2018 10:20:28 AM | 120

Re: Posted by: rcentros | Feb 8, 2018 2:20:47 PM | 55

Talk, talk, talk. Meanwhile the U.S. and Israel whatever the hell they want and the Syrian government doesn't have the weapon systems to protect themselves. Talk is cheap.

That is such rubbish. Russia is Syria's firm and steadfast ally and has provided Syria with all the weapons systems and support it requires to defend itself.

There is no shortage of Russian support for Syrian sovereignty and that means unquestioned support for the legitimate government of Syria.

Posted by: Julian | Feb 9, 2018 10:27:16 AM | 121

When it comes to military Alliance with Moslims, US has never achieved its goals, ever. Look in the past 60 years, what happened to alliance with Turkey, Pakistan, KSA, Iraq, Egypt etc... Can you mention any military succes ? At least US, alone, managed a succesfull invasion of Panama ! (here you stop reading, stand-up and salute).

Posted by: murgen23 | Feb 9, 2018 10:54:38 AM | 122

@ murgen23 | Feb 9, 2018 10:54:38 AM | 121
What if such an alliance does not have the primary goal to be militarily successful? If it has other aims, like keeping such a country enhedged, place it against a neighboroughing country, etc?

Posted by: Hausmeister | Feb 9, 2018 11:34:52 AM | 123

@103 daniel... thanks.. it is hard to accept passive people accepting everything they are told... either people are interested in what there country is doing in faraway lands - murdering others with drones and etc, or they need to remain asleep.. and, they don't get a pass on this as i see it..

@104 yeah, right.. heather nauert will never be a dudley moore!

@116 ghostship.. interesting.. thanks.

Posted by: james | Feb 9, 2018 12:45:52 PM | 124

John @118:

Oil is part of the picture. There's also hegemony be it cultural and or territorial.

Posted by: Ian | Feb 9, 2018 1:57:57 PM | 125

In other news, it looks like Israel will think twice before violating Syrian airspace, although the incident is likely to aggravate the wannabe bully even more.

Posted by: ninel | Feb 10, 2018 1:59:21 AM | 126

Israeli F-16 fighter jet shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire amid IDF cross-border raid

This state is friggin nuts - keep bombing their neighbours years after years, but we will keep hearing that antisemitism is rising.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 10, 2018 2:52:16 AM | 127

@Paul #9.....comic relief appreciated.

Posted by: Pete | Feb 10, 2018 5:00:58 AM | 128

In typical muddle, the NYT reports {pick from values in square brackets} [4/dozens] of [Russian/ex-Soviet Union] [soldiers/contract soldiers/Wagner mercenaries/other] killed in the Al Tabiyeh attack. Go figure, with this type of reporting, but regardless this has got to register for payback is even partly true.

Posted by: fx | Feb 13, 2018 1:22:07 PM | 129

Link to the NYT piece:

Posted by: fx | Feb 13, 2018 1:22:45 PM | 130

And now from AMN, footage of the Americans bombing:

AMN, incidentally, probably has better information than the NYT and refers to Russian "contractors".

Posted by: fx | Feb 13, 2018 1:53:57 PM | 131

No doubt USA has established, armed and trained ISIS. Dividing Syria has been the true cause behind the chaos and bloodshed in Syria. Syria geographical situation is extremely important, especially when the USA is also trying to hold the Middle East by neck due to oil wealth.
By dominating Syria (Middle East) and oil, USA can suffocate China and Europe.
The extreme Islamists proved to be very loyal and useful for the USA to reach this end.

Posted by: munzer | Feb 16, 2018 11:41:52 AM | 132

Dear Mina | Feb 16, 2018 11:48:47 AM | 133

It is not possible to mend ties easily.

Manbij #1 Turks were tricked (Biden's promise wasn't honored by the new govt)
Manbij #2 Turks were given a calendar meaning they are being tricked again.

Calendar is a gift.
'Beware of Americans bearing gifts' as the new international saying goes

Tillerson's current tour

US-Turkey Alliance (dream on)
US-Jordan Strategic Partnership (you want a pipeline nearby?)
US-Lebanon Strategic Partnership (Tillerson wasn't even given a glass of water)

USA is not well these days. Pride is a deadly sin.

'Turkish blockade of ship off Cyprus'

That is to do with Erdogan's pre-Tillerson remarks "The giant has awoken" The 'Giant'?
Is it 'The Ottoman Empire'? Does he mean, if you take the petrol and the land, I will no longer keep my silence?

Every link up there is about oil+gas and Israel (Ro-Ro brothers, rockefeller and rothshield)


Posted by: ConfusedPundit | Feb 16, 2018 3:15:39 PM | 134

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