Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 28, 2016

Syria - How The Palmyra Victory Changes the Narrative

The liberation of Palmyra is a decisive turning point in the war on Syria. While there were earlier military successes by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies, the publicity value of securing the valued Roman ruins of Palmyra is much higher than any earlier victory. It will change some of the false narratives of the conflict.

The Syrian government is no longer "the Assad regime" and the Syrian Arab Army no longer the "Assad forces". Ban Ki Moon, the head of the United Nations, congratulated the Syrian government to its success:

In a news conference in Jordan, Ban said he was "encouraged" that the UNESCO world heritage site is out of extremist hands and that the Syrian government "is now able to preserve and protect this human common cultural asset".

One important part of liberating Palmyra was the use of Russian electronic warfare equipment to interfere with electromagnetic signals around Palmyra. The Islamic State rigged the ruins with improvised explosive devices but was unable to remotely detonate them.

The myth that the Syrian and Russian government are in cahoots with the Islamic State, told by various propagandist as well as the British and U.S. government, has now proven to be false. But other false claims are still made:

Lost in the celebrations was a discussion of how Palmyra had fallen in the first place. When the Islamic State captured the city in May, the militants faced little resistance from Syrian troops. At the time, residents said officers and militiamen had fled into orchards outside the city, leaving conscripted soldiers and residents to face the militants alone.

That depiction of the battle is pure nonsense. The Islamic State offensive that ended with its occupation of Palmyra took thirteen days from May 13 to May 26 2015. Heavy fighting and several Syrian army counter offensives took place during those days. After the Islamic State finally captured the city, the Syrian army immediately prepared for a larger operation to regain the city. This was launched successfully in July 2015 but for lack of air support the gains made were again lost a week later.

Throughout the 2015 fighting around Palmyra the U.S. air force, which claimed to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, did not intervene at all. ISIS was free to resupply through the open east-Syrian desert.

The sole reason that the Islamic State could successfully attack Palmyra was a very large ongoing attack by al-Qaeda Jihadists and CIA mercenary forces on the Syrian government forces in Idleb governate. The Syrian army moved troops from Palmyra to defend Idleb and Latakia and the forces left behind were no longer large enough to repel the Islamic State attack.

The attack on Idleb, for which the CIA allowed its proxy forces to directly cooperated with al-Qaeda, was supported by electronic warfare from Turkey which disrupted the Syrian military communication. The attack and the obvious cooperation between the Jihadists and Turkish and U.S. secret services was the reason that Russia and Iran decided to intervene in the conflict with their own forces. It had crossed their red line.

What followed was the roll up of all "rebels" that posed an immediate danger to the Syrian government. After Turkey ambushed a Russian jet all "rebel" forces supported by Turkey became priority targets. When the success of large scale offensives in Latakia and around Aleppo was established, Russia imposed a cease fire on the U.S. supported forces and on the Syria government. This cease fire freed up the Syrian, Iranian and Russian forces needed to successfully take back Palmyra. From there on the attack will progress eastward to Deir Ezzor and later on to Raqqa.

The Palmyra victory was the biggest defeat yet of the Islamic State. It poses a problem for the Obama administration:

Washington has endeavored to portray the battle against Islamic State as a project of the United States and its allies, while accusing Moscow of attacking “moderate” rebels instead of the extremists. Palmyra seems to embody an alternative narrative.

Congratulations, though still with loads of obligatory anti-Assad rhetoric, are now coming from unexpected corners like the conservative mayor of London:

I cannot conceal my elation as the news comes in from Palmyra and it is reported that the Syrian army is genuinely back in control of the entire Unesco site.

There may be booby traps in the ruins, but the terrorists are at last on the run. Hooray, I say. Bravo – and keep going.

I concur.

Posted by b on March 28, 2016 at 9:50 UTC | Permalink


The recapture of Palmyra was possible only because it is completely isolated and all supply routes are easily interdicted.

There will be no similar victories in Aleppo.

Even Deir ez Sour and ar Raqqa may be too difficult to capture. In fact it's more likely that American supported Kurdish forces will capture the East Banks of both cities first.

Posted by: Charles Wood | Mar 28 2016 10:02 utc | 1

@Charles Wood

Dude. Ever heard of the Kuweires offensive? Was ISIS isolated there? Were its supply routes easy to interdict? Was that not a similar victory in Aleppo?

Posted by: b | Mar 28 2016 10:07 utc | 2

"the conservative mayor of London", Boris Johnson, wants British archaeologists to "rebuild" Palmyra. Typical politician's idiocy; sounds like Saddam Hussein rebuilding Babylon. UNESCO won't like that. Restoring monuments is a very delicate job, which Britain doesn't have many skills in, because there aren't many ancient monuments in Britain. The Italians and the French are quite good, having lots of monuments. The only American effort that I know about was a complete catastrophe.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 10:11 utc | 3

re 1. Not too impressed with that interpretation. The Kurds are nearly out of their comfort zone. They won't go and fight in non-Kurdish territory. They need their ethnic support, and going fighting among Sunni Arabs doesn't work, much as ISIS only survives among Sunni Arabs.

Anyway, the basic point is that there must be an economic problem in ISIS-land. If that is the case, are the jihadis going to stay and fight or not, if they're not paid?

As for why the economic problem, it must be diverse, though we don't know much in detail. Destruction of oil export convoys, but also the decline in the oil price. Lack of local revenues - the local taxable economy is virtually at a standstill, and archaeological pillaging doesn't produce much. They've spent the Mosul bank money. Lastly, I suspect, the private subscriptions from wealthy Gulfis have declined, as ISIS has become more unacceptable, but it's hard to know.

I would think the big factors are 1) the decline in the oil price. That factor is torturing both KRG in Erbil and the Iraqi government in Baghdad at the moment. There were big pro-Sadr demonstrations in Baghdad the last few days "against corruption". While that is very bad, it means that there is no money. and 2) decline in aid from the Gulf. ISIS is getting just too embarrassing.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 10:42 utc | 4

Re 3

The Kurds have already crossed the Euphrates in the North and incurred the huge wrath of Turkey in doing so.

Further East they are already patrolling in the desert within 100km of Deir ez-Zour. There's no-one there to oppose them. In fact I think they are within 100km of ar-Raqqa as well.

The Kurds have the big advantage that the US will actually support them with air-power - especially if their advances can Balkanise Syria and create a trans-Euphrates State in opposition to the central Syrian government.

Posted by: Charles Wood | Mar 28 2016 11:03 utc | 5

Looks like the al-CIAduh in Aleppo is fighting the US Army's SDF.

CIA-armed militias are shooting at Pentagon-armed ones in Syria

Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter 5-year-old civil war.

The fighting has intensified over the past two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other as they have maneuvered through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed.

In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.

"Any faction that attacks us, regardless from where it gets its support, we will fight it," said Maj. Fares Bayoush, a leader of Fursan al Haq.

Rebel fighters described similar clashes in the town of Azaz, a key transit point for fighters and supplies between Aleppo and the Turkish border, and March 3 in the Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud.

The gang who couldn't think straight? I think the CIA couldn't care less about anyone's plans but its own. They certainly don't care a fig for the lives of those they 'support'. Last in the line for carelessness are the victims of their schemes as carried out by their droogies, be they those in Syria, those in Turkey, or those in Brussels or Paris.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 28 2016 11:31 utc | 6

re 5

The Kurds have already crossed the Euphrates in the North and incurred the huge wrath of Turkey in doing so.
You're very optimistic for the Kurds, putting the most favourable interpretation on what they do. Yes, taken the dam, but not gone much further. We all heard about how they were going to open a land access to the enclave in Afrin, and close the Turkish border to ISIS, but it hasn't happened.

I've been wondering how the Rojava Kurds too are financing themselves. They have absolutely nothing in terms of resources - one oil well, I think. I can't see who is financing them - certainly the US won't be. KRG is an economic wreck.

With no cash, they won't be going far outside their borders. Defend themselves, keep ISIS out, but not going on foreign adventures for the Americans.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 11:32 utc | 7

The Palmyra victory was the biggest defeat yet of the Islamic State.

-Nope. Kobane, Tell Abyad, Muqdadiyah, Samarra, Baiji, Tikrit, Abu Ghraib, Sinjar, Ramadi, and maybe Shaddadi were all larger. But it was the biggest defeat yet of the Islamic State carried out by the SyAA.

Posted by: E. Harding | Mar 28 2016 12:13 utc | 8

ISIS takes biggest loss ever as Syrian army reclaims Palmyra

Syrian army deals ISIS 'its biggest defeat since founding of caliphate'

Posted by: hilmi hakim | Mar 28 2016 12:46 utc | 9

@ #3 Laguerre

Boris Johnson wants some very good pieces ( legally or illegally) to be brought to the British Museum - he wants more tourist traffic for his city :(

Posted by: Yul | Mar 28 2016 12:55 utc | 10


"the conservative mayor of London", Boris Johnson, wants British archaeologists to "rebuild" Palmyra."

Does he think that the SYRIANS want the English to rebuild their national heritage for them? As if they didn´t had archaeologists better suited for the task of their own? I mean, it´s a bit rich coming from them as they know full well what the SAS are up to in Syria (as they where in Iraq and got caught for it even) i.e bombing market places and historical sites, assisting their wahhabi mercenaries in whatever they do...

Posted by: wr | Mar 28 2016 13:07 utc | 11

The Brits did a great job on the Parthenon, didn't they? Rebuilt the 'Elgin marbles' in Britain. Still refuse to return them.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 28 2016 13:24 utc | 12


yeah, and how 'bout the magnificent Ishtar Gate reconstructed by the Germans in Berlin?

Posted by: john | Mar 28 2016 13:45 utc | 13

Nope there were bigger victories
Posted by: E. Harding | Mar 28, 2016 8:13:04 AM | 8

Well, there was SOMETHING big about Palmyra.
As b says it changed the narrative. In Oz it happened overnight - literally.
Friday News = Assad Regime.
Saturday News = President Assad's forces with Russian air support.
Same with BBC, French, Al Jaz News.
Maybe there's a huge Rinsing Machine in Palmyra...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 28 2016 13:55 utc | 14

@ b, "Hooray, I say. Bravo – and keep going."

"I concur."

Any victory, against the evil the Empire has fostered in Syria, is a victory for all peace loving people around the globe.

I too, can only "concur". May it continue.

Posted by: ben | Mar 28 2016 14:01 utc | 15

Re Brits rebuilding Palmyra...

They'd probably like to get Frank Gehry to build one of his recycled glass, aluminium and geometry nightmares ... and call it a chutzpah replica.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 28 2016 14:09 utc | 16

Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 28, 2016 10:09:47 AM | 16

LOL, not a chance: But then one can only hope, no?

Posted by: V. Arnold | Mar 28 2016 14:15 utc | 17

The Brits did a great job on the Parthenon, didn't they? Rebuilt the 'Elgin marbles' in Britain. Still refuse to return them.
Posted by: jfl | Mar 28, 2016 9:24:12 AM | 12

Yep, that's THE precedent. A five-finger discount for the British Museum...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 28 2016 14:20 utc | 18

3;Stonehenge is rather ancient.
Over at AA,he notes hysteria at Trump saying bring forces in ME home,what about Israel?The Israeli Foreign Legion must stay!
It looks like more bad news for the hell bitch re e-mails,Couldn't happen to a more deserving crud.

Posted by: dahoit | Mar 28 2016 14:32 utc | 19

I cannot conceal my elation as the news comes in from Palmyra and it is reported that the Syrian army is genuinely back in control of the entire Unesco site.

- Boris Johnson, Telegraph, quote from b.

Boris J. had one shot at rising, e.g. becoming PM, and that was to oppose Cameron on Brexit, which he finally did. Supporting Brexit = being under Cameron = Gvmt. stooge. He chose the other fork, risk for big gains against .. whatever. Therefore he must also ‘oppose’ on other matters, at least a tad, here he deftly relates Palmyra to a sort of humanitarian stance towards built artefacts (Unesco site etc.)

While bashing Assad: Assad is a monster, a dictator. He barrel-bombs his own people. His jails are full of tortured opponents. He and his father ruled for generations by the application of terror and violence.. which is prefaced with “I know: —-” The irony is so invisible as to escape notice.

Further we meet the choose-the least rabid blokes-argument: matter how repulsive the Assad regime may be – and it is – their opponents in Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) are far, far worse.

from telegraph 27 march

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 28 2016 15:14 utc | 20

re 19.

Stonehenge is rather ancient.
Sure, there are a lot of stones like that in UK. My point was that the techniques of restoration are different, and the techniques for restoring Roman-type monuments are not that well-known. It wasn't a point being made seriously.

I was more concerned about the political aspects. The simplistic vision of politicians towards monument restoration, much as Saddam did. You can read it for yourself. It was an offer supposed to be compensation to Syria for Britain's failure to help. I suppose he means failure to bomb Asad into the Stone Age! (I exaggerate there slightly, it's not really what he says).

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 15:16 utc | 21

Netanyahu is seething. It is now clear that Assad has slipped the noose. The iJews are writing the script on what their underling politicians in US/UK say and what the MSM says, so don’t expect Yankees and Poms to start cheering for Assad. Johnson obviously didn’t get the memo. The Telegraph didn’t get the memo. And Robt. Fisk, who takes Obama and Cameron to task big-time in today’s Independent, got the memo but wiped his *ss with it:

Obama f*cked up Yisrael’s false flag op in Ghouta. Then he f*cked up by letting Putin crash the party. Or an alternative theory is that after seeing that he was getting false intel from GoY in the days after Ghouta, Obama realized he was being played for a sucker by Bibi and turned to Putin for a way out. After the Ghouta pull-back, Obama’s and Kerry’s rhetoric suddenly changed from “Assad is a madman who gasses children” to “it is our position Assad must go,” and even that has now softened. There was no more of the “gassing his own people” meme after Putin stepped in and organized the CW disposal.

Maybe there has been some very serious covert choreography between Obama and Putin that the world doesn’t see and is not meant to see. So covert that it is beyond the criticism of the Yisrael-firsters in Congress, which is to say all of Congress. And beyond the reach of Mossad and the iJews’ news organizations.

This theory suggests that Kobani was not the turning point. Palmyra is not the turning point. Ghouta was the turning point even tho' the Ghouta Massacre has, in fact, never been resolved.

Posted by: Denis | Mar 28 2016 15:16 utc | 22

Robert Fisk gives a good reply to the question "Why is David Cameron so silent on the capture of Palmyra from the clutches of ISIS?"

Posted by: harrylaw | Mar 28 2016 15:16 utc | 23

You did a better precis than me, Noirette. I'm suppposed to be working, and not passing my time on MoA....

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 15:21 utc | 24

Sorry about the duplication Denis, your comment beat mine by 10 seconds because I had to furnish my email address etc, etc, again.

Posted by: harrylaw | Mar 28 2016 15:26 utc | 25

The Kurds will certainly condition their help in regaining Der El Zor or Al Raqqa to their participation in the Geneva negotiation and to the USA stopping Turkey from bombing the YPG.
The USA will have to decide if satisfying Turkey's objections is worth allowing ISIS to continue dominating a region close to Iraq.

Posted by: virgile | Mar 28 2016 15:30 utc | 26

@3 Mediterraneans, Arabs, Turks, Persians are the masters of working with lime plasters. Boris can just shut up now!

Posted by: aaaa | Mar 28 2016 15:39 utc | 27

@ Charles Wood 1; 5

b has already countered you; but my curiosity is aroused and since you “display” such authority where oh where have you been Mr. Wood?

Imo silence from the politicos over the liberation of Palmyra, a UNESCO heritage place, would have been too embarrassing.
~~ ~ ~
The narrative is indeed a – changing and not just over Syria. Cue Turkey and Mr. Erdogan. First we have Zarrab’s surrender to US prosecutors (at my post 48, 26 March -The Wahhabis’ War). Today, RT reports Obama declines Erdogan’s invite:

From the WSJ
Obama rejects private meeting with Turkey’s Erdogan – US media
American President Barack Obama has no plans for a personal meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is heading to the US on an official visit this week to take part in the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.

President Erdogan had invited Obama to join him at the inauguration of a Turkish-funded mosque in Maryland, but the proposal has been turned down, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Instead, President Erdogan is expected to hold a face-to-face meeting with US Vice President Joe Biden, a White House official told the WSJ.

No face-to-face, eh. But read the headline and see the source, the WSJ is a top tier US rag.

Posted by: likklemore | Mar 28 2016 15:46 utc | 28

Before a Brit asks the Brits to rebuild anything, maybe he could ask his own libraries and museums to give at least copies, if not the originals of all the artefacts and manuscripts they have accumulated. The Arab countries have no access to their own memory because all the ancient literature is sitting in the dust in libraries in Turkey (first occupiers) and then Europe, who took over (and from then on US etc)

Posted by: Mina | Mar 28 2016 15:55 utc | 29

An interesting analysis of the Syrian Army military perspective in relation with Der Ezzor and Al Raqqa
What comes after Palmyra?

Well, as long as ISIS controls southeastern Homs and its border with Al-Anbar, the Syrian Armed Forces will always find themselves in danger along this vast desert front. The only way for the Syrian Armed Forces to secure this part of Homs is to retake the strategic city of Quraytayn. Before the Syrian Armed Forces can even consider conducting their Deir Ezzor offensive, they must retake Quraytayn from ISIS.

Posted by: virgile | Mar 28 2016 15:58 utc | 30

Pretty sad that UNESCO aka global UN govt is more concern with antiquities versus caring about the innocent people being murdered in Syria by NATO, C I A proxies, mercs, Saudis, Turkey and the rest.

The NWO probably looted many of the relics already.

Posted by: Anon | Mar 28 2016 16:05 utc | 31

great post b! thanks..

it looks like a few cia moles are commenting now too! must piss them off how someone in the blogsphere is describing a different narrative then the one they tell the msm to recite..

@20 noirette... thanks... boris is now back to being a typical doofus like a the rest of the political clowns.. going along with cameron means going along with the barrel bomb bs and all the rest of the rot.. i thought britian only stole others archaeological treasures? this might be a new twist, l.o.l..

Posted by: james | Mar 28 2016 16:05 utc | 32

Palmyra is only double the size of Tel Rifaat, taken by the Kurds several weeks ago. There is little to support the thesis that 'only' Assad and the Russians have been making advances against ISIS. And great danger in creating one's own counter-bubble of counter-misinformation.

Posted by: falcone | Mar 28 2016 16:11 utc | 33

Tom Feeley at Information Clearinghouse has had a stroke and is currently recovering in a hospital in Mexico....
He has asked me to contact his readers, some of who read this website regularly.
I am unable to post on his site, because he is the only one who has direct access.
He can be contacted at

Sorry, for interrupting the conversation....

Posted by: mike whitney | Mar 28 2016 16:11 utc | 34

@33 falcone... do you agree or disagree with this quote from b in his post?

"Throughout the 2015 fighting around Palmyra the U.S. air force, which claimed to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, did not intervene at all. ISIS was free to resupply through the open east-Syrian desert."

personally my take is the usa and the west have been intent on regime change and have tried to use isis to get it..that is how sick the west is.. the doofus toner - usa state dept spokesperson wasn't sure whether it was a good thing syria has taken back palmyra, but he wasted no time in also mentioning what a monster assad was.. some folks are getting tired of the lying bullshite artists connected with the west..

Posted by: james | Mar 28 2016 16:16 utc | 35

Netanyahu is seething,
Posted by: Denis | Mar 28, 2016 11:16:40 AM | 22

You too can seethe. Look up 2016 PBS doco Netanyahu At War (2 x 55 mins).
Don't watch it with a full stomach and put a peg on your nose before you click Play.

110 minutes of possibly the most atrocious Neocon bullshit and drivel video EVER.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 28 2016 16:24 utc | 36

Before a Brit asks the Brits to rebuild anything, maybe he could ask his own libraries and museums to give at least copies, if not the originals of all the artefacts and manuscripts they have accumulated.
I couldn't agree more.

This will make you explode even more: did you know that the Heritage people in this last year (not only Brits, more Americans and Europeans)have been talking about creating a sort of "safe house" for antiquities, in Switzerland I think, in the case of future Syrias or Iraqs. The idea would be to export, in the case of conflict, the entirety of a country's antiquities, which would be kept safe and then returned afterwards. I don't know about you, but I can't imagine anything more catastrophic. Who's to say the material would ever be returned? Kept by an exile regime that happened to have the US seal of approval? Or subject to depredation by the US court system, like the Iranian stuff was, just because they judge in favour of some complainant who knows how to profit from the system. Fortunately I can't see the scheme taking off: at what point would anyone take the decision to take advantage of the scheme? But it was supported by an Iraqi architect colleague who's well known.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 16:26 utc | 37

Before a Brit asks the Brits to rebuild anything, maybe he could ask his own libraries and museums to give at least copies, if not the originals of all the artefacts and manuscripts they have accumulated.
I couldn't agree more.

This will make you explode even more: did you know that the Heritage people in this last year (not only Brits, more Americans and Europeans)have been talking about creating a sort of "safe house" for antiquities, in Switzerland I think, in the case of future Syrias or Iraqs. The idea would be to export, in the case of conflict, the entirety of a country's antiquities, which would be kept safe and then returned afterwards. I don't know about you, but I can't imagine anything more catastrophic. Who's to say the material would ever be returned? Kept by an exile regime that happened to have the US seal of approval? Or subject to depredation by the US court system, like the Iranian stuff was, just because they judge in favour of some complainant who knows how to profit from the system. Fortunately I can't see the scheme taking off: at what point would anyone take the decision to take advantage of the scheme? But it was supported by an Iraqi architect colleague who's well known.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 16:26 utc | 38

my 37 was addressed to Mina at 29.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 16:38 utc | 39

harrylaw | Mar 28, 2016 11:26:03 AM | 25
“your comment beat mine by 10 seconds “

I knew you must be hot on my heels. They way 100 comments go up on this blog in the wink of an eye, 10 seconds is a tie.

Posted by: Denis | Mar 28 2016 16:55 utc | 40

Nice post, b.

Posted by: MRW | Mar 28 2016 17:06 utc | 41

@Laguerre | Mar 28, 2016 12:26:42 PM | 37,

Saddam Hussein had the British Museum hustle the most valuable antiquities out of Iraq in August/September 2002. Not all by any means, but the oldest and most fragile, ones over 6,000 years old. The British Museum made copies and returned the copies to Iraq. Kept a copy and a link on some hard drive that I don’t have access to now, but I never ever forgot this.

Posted by: MRW | Mar 28 2016 17:11 utc | 42

Afghanistan new Parliament building subjected to rocket attack ...

"Three rockets were fired at the parliament but they did not hit the main building," said Safiullah Muslim, a lawmaker from Badakhshan province. "It happened when the session was ongoing."

Apparently Taliban has purchased Palestinian rockets of the type used by Hamas etc., against Israel that never ever hit a valuable target?

source -

Posted by: ALberto | Mar 28 2016 17:40 utc | 43

re 42

Saddam Hussein had the British Museum hustle the most valuable antiquities out of Iraq in August/September 2002.
That one is nonsense. We'd have heard about it. Saddam didn't care that much about antiquities, other than the cash they could bring in. There was an earlier story about Saddam trying to export an Assyrian human-headed bull, which got revealed or something. I forget now precisely what happened.

No, the gold was buried in the vaults of the Iraq Bank, which then got flooded, not a danger for gold. Other objects were hidden, but the rest were open to pillage in April 2003.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 18:22 utc | 44

Just goes to show how fakers who congratulate the SAA victory in Palmyra care more for historical buildings/ruins than they for the Syrian people.
This propaganda 'victory' won't last long and can easily be overturned, so no joy really at all in PR terms.

Posted by: tom | Mar 28 2016 19:15 utc | 45

@45 tom.. i have to agree with you.. no amount of good news will overcome the bias of the western msm - minions for all the wrong reasons - of the financial and military industrial complex.. it will be more propaganda 24/7 with a only a very temporary interruption in this instance..

Posted by: james | Mar 28 2016 19:26 utc | 46

re 45

Just goes to show how fakers who congratulate the SAA victory in Palmyra care more for historical buildings/ruins than they for the Syrian people.
We've had this argument so many times. It gets tiring. It's very simple: humans reproduce themselves, ancient monuments do not. Something ancient does not come back, it's lost, only a replica at best.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 20:05 utc | 47

It's exactly 26 years that I've been to Palmyra - it truly is spectacular and the most visible reminder of Syria's ancient roots (and diverse culture). It is not easily defended, though, and its loss was not surprising. Now, however, it has come back from the darkness - let's hope as a symbol of renewal in Syria. For Syrians it likely means elation. Perhaps it'll be Syria's Stalingrad.

Posted by: GoraDiva | Mar 28 2016 20:20 utc | 48

re 45 again Tom

I don't know what country you come from, but some of us do care about our past. Nobody's putting antiquities before politics, but wha

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 20:21 utc | 49

*I don't know what country you come from, but some of us do care about our past. Nobody's putting antiquities before human life, but what is the worth of an instant of politics, disappeared tomorrow, against something that cannot be reovered ever.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 28 2016 20:23 utc | 50

@laguerre.. when other countries creates chaos on others and kill a lot of innocent people, it bothers most.. to the point that all the monuments in the world will never take back the lost loved ones who had to suffer thru the wanton destruction of others cultures.. this is how i see the usa's approach in iraq, libya and syria.. the usa and it's western supporters have murdered, maimed, poisoned or killed by accident - drones and etc. etc. - more people then any country in the world by a long shot...

people can focus on the artifacts and cultural remains as much as they want.. i think this is what irks and disturbs many... same deal when a terrorist act in one country is such a big deal, while in another country it barely gets a footnote... we live in a sick world, and yet there are still a lot of beautiful loving people that ascend to something more.. i think that is kinda what tom is getting at - my own words..

Posted by: james | Mar 28 2016 21:17 utc | 51

Laguerre @ 3 and elsewhere:

Well of course Boris Johnson wants British archaeologists to "rebuild" Palmyra. When ISIS was not busy using the ruined buildings there for target practice, its fighters were stealing antiquities there to sell on the black market. How many of these pieces ended up in British museums, do you think?

Where or how Palmyra will be "rebuilt" is another question entirely. Perhaps there aren't enough Roman-era ruins in Britain that can be turned into venues to suck money out of gullible tourists.

Whether British archaeologists have the skills to "rebuild" Palmyra is probably neither here nor there: Palmyra represents an opportunity for the West to insinuate an NGO, purporting to "assist" in restoring Syria's heritage, into the country.

Posted by: Jen | Mar 28 2016 21:46 utc | 52

It is fitting to note that genocide of a people is not complete lest their culture, art, artifacts and history are also destroyed.

Moving off site (stealing/looting - "preserving") cultural antiquities is nearly as good as destruction and there's more profit in it. Some well-connected players have learned this and they are positioning themselves as "archivists".

Posted by: fast freddy | Mar 28 2016 22:14 utc | 53

@ Jen | Mar 28, 2016 5:46:20 PM | 52

A case of: Beware of Boris bidding builders (in Syria - and elsewhere).

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Mar 28 2016 22:17 utc | 54

@13 john

From your Gaurdian link of 2002 ...

German archaeologists worked at the site for 20 years, until the outbreak of the first world war. They took with them many treasures, including most of the friezes, each depicting a golden lion, which lined Babylon's Procession Street. There were 120 of them, 60 on each side. The Germans took 118.

The French took a share of Babylon's treasures to the Louvre and the British helped themselves between the wars, when Iraq was a British protectorate. Mr Ibrahim said the British adventurer and writer Gertrude Bell "filled two ships with goods she stole from here". He said they remained in the British Museum.

... and thanks for the pic of the German theft shamelessly on display, where the Germans have turned a silk purse into an out of context sow's ear. But it's 'theirs'! Same as the Brits with their stolen Greek pediment.

All us Europeans - cave dwellers at the time of the rise of civilization - play true to our barbarian souls, carrying off whatever we can, even when it is nailed down. The American nouveau riche with money to burn took their turn on the 'ancient' treasures of Europe. Ford Frick's mansion in New York is full of such loot, and there're the remains of not one but five 'European abbeys' reassembled into a complete medieval cloister in Northern Manhattan. The loot was assembled in the Golden Days of the Great Depression, when money and people were in their 'correct' relation world wide.

The Syrian victory at Palmyra is not about any of this, nor is it really about reclamation by the indigenous descendants after the fact. It is a change in the narrative, just as b says. After the crash of the "west", perhaps the Syrians and Greeks, and all the others will recover their heritage. I'm sure they have no interest in the cracked Liberty Bell, like our slave-holders' constitution with its zero day bug, or in whatever besides their victims' bones may lie hidden away in their Tower by the tyrants in London. See Posted by: Grieved | Mar 28, 2016 1:54:52 AM | 55 at 'Palmyra's Liberation, Ishtar's Resurrection And The Easter Walk' wherein he quotes Sharmine Narwani

The worst thing we can do is to waste our time rejecting foreign narratives. That just makes us the 'rejectionists' in their game. And it gives their game life. What we need to do is create our own game - a rich vocabulary of homegrown narratives - one that defines ourselves, our history and aspirations, based on our own political, economic and social realities. Let the 'Other' reject our version, let them become the 'rejectionists' in our game… and give it life.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 28 2016 23:23 utc | 55

Looks like the empire was mistaken and Russia and its Syrian ally are hard targets. Russia wins for now but the empire will be back.

In the meantime look for big action in Asia as the empire ramps on its war on China. Incredibly this will involve the empire becoming BFF with Russia in an attempt to Isolate China and ruin the Silk Road project.

Posted by: Secret Agent | Mar 29 2016 0:19 utc | 56

37 Possibly they want to learn how to make really good copies and be able to fill ebay with them so that they can make a few more bucks
have you seen this joke of so-called French open-source when old articles are "online" but without any pictures because of a copyright problem?

Posted by: Mina | Mar 29 2016 1:50 utc | 57

That op-ed by Boris is just frickin amazing.

He wants British archaeologists to restore Palmyra. He's building a goddamn "digitally reproduced" version of the arch from the Temple of Bel in the middle of Trafalgar Square to show how much the Brits deserve to get some of those juicy reconstruction contracts. After they helped wreck Syria!

Seriously, who is a bigger hypocritical wanker than Boris?

Posted by: Joanne Leon | Mar 29 2016 2:41 utc | 58

must read
(i know they ve been mentioned above)

Posted by: Mina | Mar 29 2016 3:17 utc | 59

US pulls air support from Iraq army in operation around Mosul

Perhaps they're giving IS time to evacuate. I recall a similar circumstance last year where the US refused to provide air strikes to help the Popular Mobilization Force enter one of the cities in Central Iraq.

US air strikes hit Iraq Army positions in Ninevah province

Posted by: Les | Mar 29 2016 3:57 utc | 60

must read (for Noirette: it'll change your perception of the Muslim youth! modern societies are the problem, nothing else)
(in French, sorry folks)

Posted by: Mina | Mar 29 2016 4:24 utc | 61

Looks like the empire was mistaken and Russia and its Syrian ally are hard targets. Russia wins for now but the empire will be back. In the meantime look for big action in Asia as the empire ramps on its war on China. Incredibly this will involve the empire becoming BFF with Russia in an attempt to Isolate China and ruin the Silk Road project.
Posted by: Secret Agent | Mar 28, 2016 8:19:03 PM | 56

In their (one lie too many) dreams...
The Christians have used up all their Good Will. Being cowardly liars, thieves and vandals (Christianity was invented by self-worshiping Jews (which explains what's wrong with it in 7 words)) they'll do what they always do - make Military gestures while wasting time think-tanking Gene Sharp's regime-change plots. Their habit of wussily seeking alternatives to open warfare has given Russia, and now China, time to catch up militarily, and form an alliance.
If they were as Mighty as they tell themselves, they would have rolled over Syria after Manufacturing Consent at Ghouta. But they didn't because they realised that, in a US/Russia conflict, even the "winner" will suffer incalculable losses.

It's all downhill for Christian Supremacist Daydreamers from here on.
It's Quit or Die time.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 29 2016 5:56 utc | 62

@ 62

Is there any support for that?

"(Christianity was invented by self-worshiping Jews (which explains what's wrong with it in 7 words))"

If so. That is hilarious and I've not heard it before.

Posted by: Forest | Mar 29 2016 8:57 utc | 63

"Empires wax and wane, kingdoms cleave and coalesce."

Russia wins for now but the empire will be back. Posted by: Secret Agent | Mar 28, 2016 8:19:03 PM | 56

If the empire in question is on the wane, then the choice it faces is to give up or to have a worse debacle later. And if it is waxing, it can pull it off, eventually. And there is a third, quite sobering pattern: two empires spending their last years in expensive inconclusive warfare, only to be swept aside by a new force (Byzantines and late Sassanids did it before coming of the Arab, but the earliest example I can recall ALSO takes place in Syria but nearly two thousands years earlier, with Egypt slugging it out with Hittites and then collapsing).

Of course, ISIS has the ambition to be exactly this third force (and so does Erdogan and few others).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 29 2016 10:41 utc | 64

jfl @ 55

yeah, in 2002 the Iraqis ask for the return of some stolen glazed tiles and ancient stone crumbs...

and in 2003 we send them this instead.

and then when the marines rolled into town they conspicuously left the National Museum unguarded whereupon it was vandalized and many of the most precious relics were stolen.

'spoils of war'

sounds almost quaint

Posted by: john | Mar 29 2016 10:52 utc | 65

Is there any support for that?
"(Christianity was invented by self-worshiping Jews (which explains what's wrong with it in 7 words))"
If so. That is hilarious and I've not heard it before.
Posted by: Forest | Mar 29, 2016 4:57:44 AM | 63

Look up the origin of the 10 Commandments. Start with Wikipedia and branch out from there. Moses was the intermediary.
Hilarious? Not quite; let's just say it's as much fun as you can have without laughing.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 29 2016 12:21 utc | 66

I tried to read Jim Kunstler's blog this morning and it has been blocked. It says if I want to know more to contact my isp. Anyone else ran into this or know anything of it?

Posted by: Charlie Beard | Mar 29 2016 12:24 utc | 67

@ 67

James account has been suspended; likely a payment dispute.
Just relax; it'll be resolved shortly.

Posted by: V. Arnold | Mar 29 2016 12:29 utc | 68

Pere Elgin pilfered the Greek heritage, but was bankrupted by his own thievery, according to Wiki. Karma, perhaps.
His son, James Bruce - 8th earl of Elgin - was kinda gentlemanly. Le fils Elgin wanted to punish the Manchu/Chinese defenders for perfidy in the illegal 2nd Opium War launched by the coalition of willing British and French.
So he merely ordered the burning and looting of the Summer Palace - Yuanmingyuan - in Beijing, which burnt for days while all its ancient treasures were carted off; that which couldn't, simply destroyed. It was this barbaric act that the French philosophy Victor Hugo lamented, in vain.
Mr Bruce thus cowed the Manchu court into submission (enriching himself in the process, no doubt) while kindly ``sparing the Chinese people''.
Though after the thumping victory, the British (and Americans) continued to push opium - unsparingly - on the Chinese people.

Posted by: polaris | Mar 29 2016 12:34 utc | 69

@56: Amerika cannot do kissy-face all-is-forgiven-darlink!! with Putin. It's going to make Washington stepchild Japan very unhappy because Moscow won't give back the Kuril islands. Russia is fortifying the territory and talking of naval base for the Pacific Fleet.
A century after its calamitous defeat in the Russo-Japan war, Moscow plans to have a major naval presence in the Pacific again - a riposte against the American pivot along with China's South China Sea pushback.
Shinzo Abe has practically invited himself to Moscow (so writes Bhadrakumar) but he will get nothing more than a bottle of finest vodka from Putin.
A cosy rosy Moscow-Washington relationship will make Tokyo more unhappy than Beijing. And we all know how unhappy changelings behave. Think Sissy Spacek in Carrie.

Posted by: polaris | Mar 29 2016 13:15 utc | 70

mina at 61. thx for the article. Much to discuss…

One side point though re. Syria. In Switzerland, very few ‘returning fighters’ have been prosecuted (and btw how, for what, are they brought before courts in France or Denmark?) The few were those who made their stances public - manifestoes, announcements, interviews, even tweets! etc. The number is so small it is hard to judge, but some went to support Assad.

The latest (court case coming up) is a ‘valiant’ Christian who is incorporated in the Swiss army, and went to defend Christians on the Assad side. (He may face stiff penalities bc. in army.) These ppl are absolutely never mentioned in W-MSM. Just as all those who went to the Donbass to support ‘liberation’ there. No pasaran!

Djihadist, radical islam, etc. is the sole drum-beat mantra.

France is not concerned about the laws re. citizens fighting in foreign wars and how to treat returning ‘vets’ but only with ignoring the cannon fodder for ISIL they ‘allowed.’ ~Or more dark.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 29 2016 16:10 utc | 71


James has suffered a stroke and is recovering in Mexico. More later as the story unfolds.

Putin will Make Syria Great Again and sell a hell of a lot of military hardware and weaponry in the process to try and make up for the huge shortfall in oil/gas sales due to the artificially low price.

Posted by: Par Lang | Mar 29 2016 16:23 utc | 72

The hidden truths of the beginnings of Syrias "revolution":

Posted by: KerKaraje | Mar 29 2016 19:22 utc | 73

The end of this Al Masdar article make me smile

"The British regime has not yet commented on the death of another one of their citizens in Syria." | Al-Masdar News

Posted by: jeanv | Mar 29 2016 21:53 utc | 74

@71 Noirette

I am waiting for the next one of these. With hopefully deeper embarrassment. And you're right, this is the exact type of story that doesn't make the msm enough.

Terror trial collapses after fears of deep embarrassment to security services

Posted by: MadMax2 | Mar 29 2016 23:48 utc | 75

@60 Les

The USAF is ISIS' Air Force. Always has been, as farsnews points out. b's guest columnist appears to be advocating for reactivating the ISIS Air Force in Libya. ISIS is there, ready and waiting for their air support. They hold off when ISIS is in danger, or actively take part, bombing ISIS' enemies - most often the Iraqis, the perennial targets of the USAF - when they might possibly prevail. Alternatively we might view ISIS as the US' boots on the ground. That article by the DailyBeast - how appropriately named, with its beastly reports, snarling and mocking us to our faces - is a travesty, ending in a call for just that: more US boots on the ground. And here come the troops from Syria, driven out by the SAA, whom Russia helped find their legs - and wings - once again. The Iraqis need to be more like the Syrians. But, ground down and ruled over by the Americans for the past quarter century, they are in much worse shape than the Syrians were, and now are apparently incapable of asking for Russian aid in driving ISIS - and the with it the US - out of their country.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 29 2016 23:59 utc | 76

@65 john

From your second link...

The Plundering of Iraq’s National Museum: What Really Happened?

The Baghdad Museum was founded in 1923 in King Faisal’s Palace at the urging of the English archaeologist Gertrude Bell [1].

[T]he well-known American orientalist Maguire Gibson of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Gibson said that he visited the Pentagon three times before the beginning of US military operations in Iraq and warned American military authorities about the value of the unique collections in the Baghdad museums. Similar meetings were held in the US Department of Defense by a delegation of museum workers, scholars and collectors who also called on the Pentagon to make every possible effort to save that world heritage. However, they were unable to prevent the Baghdad museum from being looted.

The reason why officials displayed so little willingness to stop the looting can be explained by the fact that they saw their mission as reducing Iraq’s significance as a nation, and the actions by the Iraqi looters only contributed to that.

According to Michigan University President Peter McPherson, who headed the Treasury Department’s Iraq team,

  “The privatization that occurs sort of naturally when somebody took over their state vehicle, or began to drive a truck that the state used to own, was just fine.”

John Agresto saw his job in Iraq as the remaking of Iraq’s system of higher education from scratch. In that context, the looting of local universities and the education ministry was, in his words, “the opportunity for a clean start.” However, it is unlikely that he knew Iraq had the best education system in the region before it was strangled by sanctions. Iraq had the highest level of literacy in the Arab world - 89% of Iraqis were literate in 1985. Unfortunately, according to local residents, many American soldiers did not even know that Iraq’s history stretches back more than seven thousand years.


Thanks to Google, cultural support by Italy and financial support from the US State Department, a virtual National Museum of In Iraq has been created on the Internet. It gives all Internet users access to the treasures of the Baghdad Museum, including the lost and missing exhibits.

[1] see the quote above, taken from you link of yesterday,

Those attributions of 'look at the bright side' of the destruction on Iraqi heritage by the plundering American barbarians is the portrait in cameo of the neo-con New American Centurians, isn't it? The spoilers of war.

Iraq's national museum to lure 'virtual visitors'

“Mesopotamia is the world's oldest civilization and there's no shortage of archaeological institutions in the United States and around the world, as well as curious individuals, as well as museum curators around the world who'd be interested in getting a chance to visit the museum,” explained U.S. State Department official Jared Cohen.

Cohen spoke Tuesday shortly before an announcement by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and other U.S. officials that the online museum will be up and running by early next year.

“Now most people, either because of time, money, visa, you know, concerns about coming here, ... won't have the chance to walk through the museum as we are now,” said Cohen, a member of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's policy planning staff.

“And one of the things we want to do is remove those barriers preventing individuals from coming to the museum by making it available through virtual means.”

The museum is a source of national pride, highlighting Iraq's role in history as the cradle of civilization. Some objects in the collection are thousands of years old.

The price tag for the project was not divulged, but the U.S. State Department and Google are sharing in the cost.

That was the first instance to my knowledge of Google and the USG teaming up for a publicity shot. And perhaps Jared Cohen's introduction to Google, he is now 'President of Jigsaw (previously Google Ideas) and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.' The spoils of war.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 30 2016 1:04 utc | 77

@75 mm2 @71 Noirette

And then people like Federica Mogherini cry their crocodile tears at the 'blowback' that they themselves have engendered. "Do You Realize What You Have Done?" Some knew full-well exactly what they were about.

Europeans need to wake up, smell the coffee, and kick the USA out of NATO and out of the EU!

Posted by: jfl | Mar 30 2016 1:21 utc | 78


It's already underway in Quryatayn.

We still have a deafening silence from Obama and Cameron over Palmyra.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Mar 30 2016 4:07 utc | 79

yep much darker
cf these days exchanges of news type "US informed Holland about Brussels bombers"; "Turkey informed Holland"; not sure if it is part of the Flemish/Wallon eternal fight or bigger

Posted by: Mina | Mar 30 2016 8:08 utc | 80

see the comments section here for ppl pointing at this darker side and the responsibility of the so called BHLized university elites we have in France (almost as old as our politicians)

Posted by: Mina | Mar 30 2016 8:09 utc | 81

We All Are Islamic State

How can we rise up in indignation over Islamic State’s destruction of cultural monuments such as Palmyra when we have left so many in ruins? As Frederick Taylor points out in his book “Dresden,” during the World War II bombing of Germany we destroyed countless “churches, palaces, historic buildings, libraries, museums,” including “Goethe’s house in Frankfurt” and “the bones of Charlemagne from Aechen cathedral” along with “the irreplaceable contents of the four-hundred-year-old State Library in Munich.”

Does anyone remember that in a single week of bombing during the Vietnam War we obliterated most of that country’s historic My Son temple complex? Have we forgotten that our invasion of Iraq led to the burning of the National Library, the looting of the National Museum and the construction of a military base on the site of the ancient city of Babylon?

Thousands of archeological sites have been destroyed because of the wars we spawned in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya.

And then there are the 67 Japanese cities firebombed by the US in WWII. And every village and city in North Korea after that. Hedges is speaking to me and my fellow Americans when he says 'we'. And of course he's right.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 30 2016 8:11 utc | 82

@78 @75 mm2 @71 Noirette has an assessment of the 'inexplicable inability' of the US/EU spooks to foil terrorist attacks by terrorists they all know all to well in Europe ...

Intelligence accounts raise more questions on origins of Brussels, Paris attacks

The main question that emerges from the Times ’ account, which it does not even bother to pose, is why intelligence agencies did not pay attention to the “deafening” signs that ISIS was preparing attacks in Europe. This also raises what role state agencies’ decision to downplay these reports played in ISIS’ ability to carry out the Paris and Brussels attacks — against Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, again in Paris in November, and now in Brussels — killing and wounding hundreds in Europe.

The central factor is that in the initial years of the war, there was broad support in the ruling classes of Europe and the United States for a proxy war for regime change against Assad relying on Islamist terror groups. In Europe, protocols were put in place so that thousands of Islamist fighters could travel to the Middle East, to train for war against Assad, with impunity.

War fever swept the New York Times, which published extensive, favorable portrayals of terror attacks in Syria by leading journalists. C.J. Chivers’ August 2012 video report “The Lions of Tawhid” [1] detailed his stay with an Islamist militia, the Lions of Tawhid, that carried out truck bombings and killings near the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Initial reports that NATO proxies were carrying out hundreds of terror bombings, like the report by the Arab League in early 2012 [2], were denounced in the Western media. In the ruling class and reactionary layers of the affluent middle class, there was broad support for an imperialist war against Syria waged via terrorist methods. Middle class pseudo-left groups such as the International Socialist Organization in the United States, the New Anti-capitalist Party in France and the Left Party in Germany enthusiastically promoted war with Syria

A number of questions remain, however, on how it was possible for the Charlie Hebdo, November 13, and Brussels attacks to proceed. In all cases, the attackers were high-ranking ISIS or Al Qaeda fighters well known to intelligence services: The Kouachi brothers were under state surveillance and spoke directly to Al Qaeda’s top leadership in the Arabian Peninsula. Abaaoud was known internationally and publicly as a leading ISIS official. And the El Bakraoui brothers in Brussels were violent felons known as terrorists to the intelligence services.

Given that the intelligence services were able to identify and stop more obscure figures such as Reda Hame, it remains inexplicable how such top Islamist fighters were allowed to travel freely across Europe to prepare mass terror attacks.

[1] Report of Arab League Observer Mission 24 Dec 2011 - 18 Jan 2012, 2012, e.g. p. 4 par. 27, p. 8 par. 75

How can they not realize exactly what they have done?

Posted by: jfl | Mar 30 2016 11:53 utc | 83

in re 82 --

Moments in Bad Moral Equivalence. Sites in cities targeted for military operations (like say, London, Coventry or Dresden) are not the moral equivalent of the gratuitous, premeditated destruction of historical sites for ideological reasons.

Posted by: rufus magister | Mar 30 2016 11:53 utc | 84

Thierry Meyssan, 28 march, writes: We don’t yet know who ordered the attacks in Paris and Brussels.

He goes on to develop the idea it was Turkey. Hinted at as well is that the ‘migration crisis’ was started by Turkey. (Therefore all the dealings, contortions, etc. w. Turkey.)

Amplification, in my own words. Erdogan counted on as he was promised (and I have posted about this matter before, not new) a Syria-Kurdistan to expel his ‘Kurds.’ That promise was reneged on. At the same time, he expected (I guess) support from NATO-EU for his anti-Russian actions, and more gratitude and leniency for his support of ISIL (Daesh.) Neither materialised. He was furious. So wanted to show the most traitorous and the weakest (France and the EU) that ‘terrorism is no joke, deal with it b••••”. (See Erdogan’s warning re. Brussels in the text.)

The upshot is that the most determined Assad must go and Syria divided camp - France (not the US or Israel) - finds itself attacked by its ‘secret’ ally, Turkey.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 30 2016 14:50 utc | 85

i also thought Erdogan but announcing it the day of the ankara bombing, little bit too much; fair enough that he had not correctly informed Belgium when expelling one of the guys who committed it

Posted by: Mina | Mar 30 2016 16:49 utc | 86


It did not. Raqqa was captured in March 2013 by Syrian rebels, i.e. "FSA" and their al-Nusra Front allies. Most likely the operation happened like the capture of Idlib in March 2015, under the command of a US operations room in Turkey and with full access to real time American satellite imagery.

The Wikipedia article on the battle has more details:

Battle of Raqqa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The battle, on the opposition side, was primarily led by the Islamist jihadist group Al-Nusra Front.

Ar-Raqqah was not initially a rebel stronghold. The city itself saw several small protests at the beginning of the uprising, but these soon subsided. The anti-Assad elements within the city also remained peaceful until the end of 2012. Furthermore, previous pro-government tribal coalitions and the presence of more than a half million displaced Syrians, mostly from Idlib, Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo, served to strengthen the Syrian government's opinion that Ar-Raqqah was relatively safe.

By early 2013, the Syrian opposition had secured much of the north of Syria, but had yet to seize control of a major city. The rebels planned an offensive to seize control of Ar-Raqqah where government forces were in control, effectively giving the opposition control over a much greater portion of northern Syria.

As of 2016 the Kurds control the north of Syria, after having driven out the Islamic State. Raqqa was never a rebel stronghold. Where then did all the FSA and Nusra fighters come from that captured Raqqa? It is evident that they mostly came across the border from Turkey, pushing their way through Kurdish controlled areas. An example is the assault on Ras Al-Ayn detailed in this long article on A Closer Look On Syria. The border town of Ras Al-Ayn, northeast of Raqqa was attacked in late 2012 and early 2103 by FSA and Nusra fighters coming from Turkey. A brief summary of the events is included in this February 1, 2013 letter from Syrian Kurds in the UK on behalf of the Kurdish National Council to British Foreign Minister William Hague.

Dear Mr William Hague,

We, the representatives of the People's Council of Western Kurdistan and the Kurdish National Council in the Uk, would like to draw your attention to the recent attack on civilians in Sere Kaniye (Ras al Ain). Armed Selafist groups entered the region from Turkey supported and facilitated by the Turkish military and regional powers with the aim of destabilising the relatively peaceful region and dragging it into a violent sectarian war. Since the second attack began on 16 January 2013 armed mercenaries have been using heavy weapons to shell the city killing civilians indiscriminately, many civilian Kurds have been taken as hostages and their houses and properties have been destroyed or looted. Thousands of vulnerable women and children have become displaced through fleeing from the horror.

Since July 2012 the Syrian Kurds have been managing and governing themselves and their region democratically and peacefully. They actively contribute in building a democratic, plural and united Syria where all Syrians can enjoy living together freely and thus regional stability, democracy and peaceful co-existence.

We earnestly call on the UK government and its Foreign Ministry to put pressure on the NATO allied Turkish government to end its foreign intervention by supporting those terrorist affiliated groups that are destabilising the Syrian Kurdish region.

We also ask that the UK's Foreign Minister to persuade the Syrian opposition to end supporting those armed groups and demand their withdrawal from the peaceful Kurdish region and so respect the legitimate Kurdish national rights.

Thank you for your kind attention and we look forward to your assessment.

Yours Sincerely,

Representatives of:
Kurdish National Council, People's Council of western Kurdistan in the UK.

Also, the Vatican News Agency Fides reports in November 2012:

A young Christian of the opposition: "Minorities crushed in the conflict"

In the middle of the night, at two on 8 November, residents of Ras al-Ain were awakened by the sound of explosions, of helicopters and machine guns. They were the fighters of the Free Army and Turkish helicopters reached Syrian territory and easily conquered the border crossing and the city. The military began to seize civilian homes to use them as fighting positions. My grandfather’s home was among those that were seized, where there were women, children and paralyzed grandmother. All Civilians were Expelled from their homes in pajamas, without being able to take documents, money or anything else. Military and combatants went further: with a 'black list', they went from one house to another looking for their enemies. [...] In Ras al-Ain, the victims were not only Christians, but Christians were the only ones who were immediately expelled from their homes, carrying babies in their arms, put to flight the streets strewn with corpses. [...] Kurds, Arabs and Christians, more than 70.000 people fled, mostly to Hassake. Within hours, the city became a ghost town. The Alawites had the worst destiny: killed because Alawites. [...] We have always accused the regime of these disasters. Now we talk about the crimes that we have seen with our eyes, perpetrated by the Free Syrian Army."

From Nusra to ISIL

In March al-Nusra Front's affiliation to al-Qaeda was not yet openly acknowledged, so they would still be counted as "Syrian rebels". In fact, there is some reason to believe that al-Nusra fighters were exactly the same rebels that the CIA was training in its training camps in Jordan, Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. The strongest suspicion comes from the fact that of all rebel groups al-Nusra Front was best known for the same terror tactics that the US was teaching at its training camps, namely "guerrilla attacks and assassinations", or more precisely, massive terror bombings and massacres.

But how did Raqqa change hands from FSA and Nusra to ISIL? This was the result of the split in al-Qaeda:

1) The Islamic State in Iraq (al-Qaeda in Iraq) announced that the al-Nusra Front was in fact part of ISI, and had been so in secret all along. The group would now be called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL.
2) Al-Nusra Front leader Al-Julani stated that he would not join ISIL
3) After a eight month argument ISIL announced that it would split from al-Qaeda.

From the Wikipedia article on ISIL:

As Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, 2013–14

On 8 April 2013, al-Baghdadi released an audio statement in which he announced that the al-Nusra Front had been established, financed, and supported by the Islamic State of Iraq, and that the two groups were merging under the name "Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham". Al-Julani issued a statement denying the merger, and complaining that neither he nor anyone else in al-Nusra's leadership had been consulted about it. In June 2013, Al Jazeera reported that it had obtained a letter written by al-Qaeda's leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, addressed to both leaders, in which he ruled against the merger, and appointed an emissary to oversee relations between them to put an end to tensions. That same month, al-Baghdadi released an audio message rejecting al-Zawahiri's ruling and declaring that the merger was going ahead.

Because of its position behind the front lines, ISIL could concentrate more on state building and less on fighting. Factually the FSA and al-Nusra Front served as the Islamic State's front line troops against the Syrian Army. It is partly true that 'Assad' was not fighting ISIL, but neither was ISIL fighting Assad. With the emergence of the state and later the Caliphate all FSA groups in ISIL controlled territory were merged with ISIL, disbanded or otherwise terminated. What remains of the fake revolution is a few Twitter accounts that are tweeting form Istanbul, Washington, D.C., or who knows where.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Mar 30 2016 18:38 utc | 87

Like 9/11, the terrorist plots are real, are planned, and are allowed to happen, and have a few optional extras tagged on to an event. gam

The nature of false flag in our current climate is absolutely fucking insidious. One of the darkest arts ever witnessed.

For state security to be so so poor when data privacy is known to be at an all time low, the people continue to oblige and give up their civil liberties when confronted with each engineered false flag event.

Posted by: MadMax2 | Mar 30 2016 18:45 utc | 88


Yes, the connections are difficult to ignore:

1) Hollywood-style terror conveniently kept/keeps most independent journalists away;

2) Meek/bungling anti-ISIS operations by US/West despite their calling ISIS the biggest security threat and that USA will attack anywhere in the world that they are found;

3) Virtually no efforts (for years) made to counter the madrassas, funding for extremism, or solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict;

4) Terror attacks justify ever increasing anti-civil rights measures and condition public to support the neocon/neolib establishment;

5) Crazyland facts like: training of less than 100 anti-ISIS fighters in a $500 million program (as per CBS report: most of the fighters training were said to have left the program early because they really wanted to fight Assad!!); a group of military intelligence analysts that became whistle-blowers who say that their reports were distorted; Russian intervention that highlighted the utter failure to effectively combat ISIS; the unbelievable fall of Mosul (a few thousand fighters take a major city!?!?!);

6) Seymour Hersh's prescient reporting of a conspiracy by Israel, USA, and Saudi Arabia to use extremists as a weapon ("The Redirection", 2007).

And this is just what comes to mind off the top of my head. Until Russia intervened, it looked like the Western neocon/neolib establishment in the West + Sunnis + Israel would get a big win by taking down Assad.

Terror attacks may be ISIS lashing out but conveniently keep the public's mind focused away from the REAL CAUSES for the Syria debacle.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 30 2016 19:40 utc | 89

Petri Krohn @87

I meant to point to Petri's comment in mine @89.

Great work Petri.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 30 2016 19:43 utc | 90

The most interesting part of Moon's article, at least for me, is the admission that electronic warfare from the Russians eliminated the ISIS attempt to reduce Palmyra to rubble AND that the U.S. through it's Turkish allies have used electronic signal jamming against Assad's forces.

What is not mentioned is that, apparently, the U.S. doesn't use signal jamming against ISIS. A single EMP device over Raqqua could disable ISIS's vaunted command over the Internet, disable their pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns (I think our war fighters in the Middle East refer to these as "technicals") and disrupt ground communications between ISIS fighting units and their command/control structure.

It is obvious we know how to do it, as do the Russians and apparently the Turks. The question is why aren't we doing it.

Posted by: William E Davis | Mar 31 2016 14:49 utc | 91

Because of its position behind the front lines, ISIL could concentrate more on state building and less on fighting. -- Snippet from Petri K’s informative post at 87.

One aspect: It takes a lot of ppl to keep a city, e.g. Mosul, more than 2 million ppl is the ex. I looked at, running, functioning, and submissive.

For ex. schools.

If there are no schools for the kids to go to you don’t have a new ‘revolutionary’ or other State. Schools must be kept up. Weeding out the recalcitrant or opposing teachers, with no probs is a must. Subsequent, impose a new curriculum, get new matériel and schoolbooks, reassure the population, etc. Under threat, ppl will bend. Nevertheless it takes many on the ground to effect such a change. 100 or 1000 or more goons with guns can’t possibly accomplish it.

Some teachers were executed. Sends an ultimatum. The curriculum was changed…takes a very concerted, planned, organised effort, with top-down organisation, many actors on the ground, etc. Stories untold for now.

Links poor, yet some aspects touched on.

The Daily Beast

The National


Posted by: Noirette | Mar 31 2016 17:36 utc | 92

Please Note that Boris Johnson is a zionist like cameron and is playing the mr. sensible....they are grooming him for prime minister....

Posted by: charlie | Mar 31 2016 19:18 utc | 93

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