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June 26, 2013

Syria: The Army Secures The Lebanese Border

This is interesting news from The Independent which I have not yet seen mentioned in U.S. media.
Once a rebel stronghold, the town of Tal Kalakh on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon changed sides at the week-end and is now controlled by the Syrian army.
After the Syrian Arab Army cleaned Al Qusayr of insurgents, the area at the eastern border of Lebanon was closed for insurgency logistics. Control of Tal Kalakh now closes the way through the northern Lebanese border and secures the M1 road from the port city of Tartus to Homs.

The insurgents in Homs city and Homs governorate are now cut off from resupplies. It is only a question of time until they will have to give up. There is more success in that area:

#SAA says it now controls Al-Sha'er oil field in #Homs governerate after days of fighting with Islamic rebels who took control of it #Syria
That the town of Al Kalakh fell through negotiations and without a fight is another positive sign for the Syrian government. The continuing radicalization of the insurgency as well as the rampant warlordism lets even people who somewhat dislike the government seek its protection.

Meanwhile a Saudi/Qatari attempt to widen the war into Lebanon largely failed.

There are two more interesting items in the Independent piece. The first is the - again - proven falsehood of insurgency propaganda:

The Syrian opposition denied that the town had fallen, saying that there was still fighting going on there. In a three-hour visit, I saw no sign of it. Soldiers and civilians looked relaxed and there were no indications of recent destruction, though there are plenty of buildings damaged by shellfire or pockmarked with bullet holes from fighting in 2011 or 2012. The pro-rebel Al-Jazeera Arabic satellite television channel claimed smoke was rising from the town. I did not see or smell any.
The second issue is the so far seldom mentioned facts that the insurgents are paid mercenaries:
Soldiers or guerrillas who have switched sides are often an unreliable source of information about their former colleagues because they denigrate them in a bid to impress their new masters. But Khalid al-Eid did say that his men were “paid $1,300 a month and we got an extra $1,000 if we carried out an operation”. He described how he would make Youtube films – “sometimes they show us firing when there was nothing to shoot at” – which would later be shown on al-Arabiya and al-Jazeera satellite television.
Payment for the insurgents will be the largest single cost in the insurgency's budget, collected in, as described here, or paid directly by the western Persian Gulf countries like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. That last link also includes this short sentence:
Qatar also provides instructions on battlefield techniques.
That line suggests that Qatari forces, who are mostly recruited from Pakistan (pdf), are on the ground in Syria or at least near its borders. The same folks that trained the Mujahedin and Taliban in Afghanistan are now training the insurgents in Syria. It is then no wonder that one sees the same brutal tactics, suicide bombing and beheading, employed in Syria as one can see in Afghanistan.

Posted by b on June 26, 2013 at 17:03 UTC | Permalink

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This from Fars News yesterday, making allegations I am sure Parviziyi will find utterly monstrous:

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jun 30 2013 18:34 utc | 101

This current headline is why I wouldn't give a penny to
Syrians Behead Christians as CIA Ships in Arms

Actually, of course, it was Jabhat al-Nusrah, not Syrians, that did the beheading, and was simply & dumbly a stenographer for the Washington Times propaganda machine.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jul 1 2013 0:59 utc | 102

Antiwar also managed to turn the Lebanese correlation of forces on its head:

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 1 2013 14:21 utc | 103

Unlike Turkey's Erdogan, who has been openly supporting Syrian insurgents in spite of wide-spread public opposition, or Lebanon's Saudi-supported Hariri, who has been facilitating the transit of arms to rebels and strengthened ties to Salafi clerics in Tripoli and Sidon who have been sending young men off to jihad in Syria in an attempt to improve his coalition's chances at the next ballot box, Jordan's Abdullah appears reluctant to assist Syria's insurgency. While the US and Israel may have pressured many compromises out of Jordan, perhaps the only "cover" they have left him is the plausible deniability that there are no Syrian troops in Jordan.

Jordan may claim that there are only Syrian refugees in Jordan, not troops. However, since there is a high level of sympathy for the insurgency among refugees in Jordan's camps, those refugees who are getting trained on American-vetted equipment are not separated out from the other refugees. Which could also account for the varying accounts about the increased numbers of Syrians returning to Southern Syria from Jordan -- some accounts bill them as repatriated refugees, others bill them as vetted, trained and equipped "moderate" rebels.

At least, that's my take on this blurb from Raw Story:

Jordan has repeatedly said it does not seek to interfere in Syria’s affairs.

Last week, Prime Minister Abdullah Nsur denied a Los Angeles Times report that the Central Intelligence Agency and US special forces have been training Syrian rebels at a new American desert base in southwest Jordan.

“There is no training in our country whatsoever of Syrian opposition forces… the only Syrians we are dealing with in our country are refugees,” he told journalists.

MP Khalil Atiyeh, deputy house speaker, says lawmakers reject the presence of foreign forces.

“As deputies representing Jordanian people, we do not accept US or any other foreign troops in Jordan. Jordanians do not think there are threats from Syria.”

“But we understand the nature and requirements of US-Jordanian relations and that Washington wants to protect its interests in the region as well as its allies.”

Jordan, a major beneficiary of US military and economic aid, could act as a conduit for military support Washington has said it will give rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Amman also shares Western concerns that Muslim extremists could establish a foothold in Syria.

“Jordanian people do not want to see American troops here because they fear the Syrian regime could retaliate,” political writer and columnist Labib Kamhawi told AFP.

“The US weapons and troops have been deployed to Jordan as a precautionary measure, but this could be seen by Syria as an act of aggression, which makes people here worried.”

King Abdullah II vowed this month to defend Jordan from the war in Syria, saying “we are capable at any time to take the necessary measures to protect our country and people’s interests”.

The opposition Islamists said the US military deployment “is not in Jordan’s interest”.

“We reject the presence of US invaders and I think other Jordanians are worried and agree with us,” said Zaki Bani Rsheid, deputy leader of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, the main political party.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Jul 1 2013 20:27 utc | 104

Israel behind explosions in Syria's Latakia: Israeli media

US officials have reportedly confirmed that Israeli fighter jets on July 5 bombarded a Syrian arsenal containing advanced Russian-made Yakhont anti-ship missiles, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported, citing the CNN.

If Putin had delivered the anti-aircraft missiles to Syria ... would this have happened ?

I guess his 'partnership' with the USSA contributed to his keeping things 'stable' in the Middle East : Isreali/US/NATO able to strike Syria with impunity whenever they just have the urge to aggress.

Has the USSA bought Putin ? Or did they just show him some of the stuff the NSA has vacuumed up on him ?

If I were Edward Snowden I'd count Vladimir Putin as Barack Obama's alter ego.

Posted by: john francis lee | Jul 13 2013 12:00 utc | 105

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Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jul 25 2013 12:25 utc | 108

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