Syrian woman about being tortured by fundamentalists

This 19 January 2019 Dutch NOS public broadcasting TV video, recorded in Syria, says about itself (translated):

Humiliated in a cage: “I will never forgive the terrorists”

Reefa is an engineer at an energy utility in Damascus. When she was at home, jihadists grabbed her and locked her up with dozens of others in a mobile cage. The goal: to use them as a human shield against the bombing by their enemy, the Syrian government.

This is a report by Roozbeh Kaboly and cameraman Rachid El Mourif.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Humiliated in a cage: ‘I will never forgive the Syrian terrorists

It is slowly becoming quieter in Syria, the war seems almost to be decided. Also in Douma, a suburb of Damascus and one of the first strongholds of the uprising against the Syrian government, there is now no longer fighting. But that has been different.

At the beginning of the war the neighborhood was conquered by moderate rebels, after which jihadist groups took over. Including Jaysh al-Islam, ‘the army of Islam’. They kidnapped a large group of minorities people who supposedly supported the Syrian regime. There was murder, torture, and women and children served as human shields against bombing by the army. The Syrian army intervened violently and surrounded the neighborhood. The population was being starved.

Reefa (59) was also detained in Douma for three years. “I am Ismaili [a Muslim tendency led by the Aga Khan], a minority about which the rebels say that they support the government. Which is why I got flogged and for ten days I was locked up in the cold and without food on my own, and the rebels have driven us around in cages to humiliate us.”

Reefa can not forgive the groups that imprisoned her. “We did not wrong them in any way. I’m just an engineer, I’ve never hurt anyone in my life. I’ve lost my whole life, my job, everything. I’ve lost my nephews, two young boys, how can I forget that??” Forgiveness is needed for a new future for the country, but Reefa can not imagine how. “I am against reconciliation, they have betrayed their country. I am not a politician and do not speak a political language.” …

Can Syrians ever live together in peace? “That will be very difficult”, says Nieuwsuur news show journalist Roozbeh Kaboly, who was in Syria for this series. …

“At the same time Syrians are tough and strong people, they always tell me about the long history of Syria: the country has experienced many wars and it has been destroyed several times, but has been rebuilt over and over again. So, there is always hope. I myself am very optimistic.”

‘Stop United States military intervention in Syria’

This 18 January 2019 video from the USA:

Rep. Ro Khanna: U.S. Troops Are a “Sitting Target” in Syria; It’s Time to Bring Them Home

In Syria, a suicide bomber struck a restaurant in the northern city of Manbij Wednesday, killing 19 people including four Americans. Two of them were U.S. soldiers. The bombing was claimed by ISIS and came just weeks after President Trump declared victory over the group and ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from Syria, prompting the resignation of Pentagon chief Jim Mattis. Just hours after the attack, Vice President Mike Pence reiterated that ISIS has been defeated. Wednesday’s attack drew renewed calls from congressional hawks—both Republicans and Democrats—to reverse Trump’s Syria withdrawal. The U.S. has an estimated 2,000 troops stationed in Syria, even though Congress has never declared war on the country. We speak with Ro Khanna, Democratic congressmember from California. He is a leading critic of U.S. military interventions abroad.

American ISIS missiles injure British soldiers in Syria

This 10 June 2015 video from the USA says about itself:

ISIS video shows jihadists using American-made TOW anti-tank missiles in Palmyra – TomoNews

PALMYRA, SYRIA — The Islamic State [ISIS] released a new video on Monday that shows militants in the Syrian city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries, using American-made anti-tank missiles.

The BGM-71 TOW anti-tank guided missiles [made by Raytheon corporation] were most likely provided by the United States to the Free Syrian Army and either captured by the jihadists or [sold to them].

By Steve Sweeney in Britain:

Monday, January 7, 2019

Did US build Isis missiles that hit British soldiers in Syria?

Former British ambassador to Syria alleges the only weapons of this type the jihadists have are those supplied by the US to ‘moderate’ rebels

MISSILES used in an Isis attack in which two British soldiers were seriously injured in Syria yesterday may have been sold to the jihadists after being supplied by the United States to opposition groups.

The pair were hit in a missile attack launched on a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) base in Deir Ezzor, northern Syria. A fighter from the largely Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) was killed in the blast.

The role of British soldiers in Syria remains a secret, with the Ministry of Defence refusing to comment on the operations of special forces. …

It appears that the missile used to attack the SDF compound may have found its way into the hands of Isis thanks to a covert US programme that saw weapons supplied to opposition groups in Syria.

Former British ambassador to Syria Peter Ford alleged that the only weapon of this type that the jihadist terror group has in its arsenal are those that were supplied by the US to so-called moderate rebels in 2015.

Mr Ford claimed that the weapons were sold by the groups to Isis soon afterwards. Other similar weapons may have been captured by the death cult after defeating moderates in battle while some are believed to have defected to Isis bringing their weapons cache with them.

The supply of weapons to Syrian forces on the ground was part of a covert CIA operation started by former US President Barack Obama in 2013 after it was proposed by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former CIA head David Petraeus.

Its aim was to turn the tide against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and foment regime change in the region, where the use of ground troops would have been unpopular following the US invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan which saw thousands of US soldiers die.

However, the supply chain was complicated with the arms bought by the US and Saudi Arabia from Eastern European EU member-state manufacturers through private companies that hold government contracts.

They were then secretly sent to opposition groups in Syria, although according to a report by the Conflict Armament Research organisation, which tracks arms shipments, the arms may have been supplied in breach of contracts stipulating the weapons should not be transferred after purchase.

The 2017 EU and German-funded study found that the anti-tank weapons sent to the rebels had found their way to Isis less than two months after leaving the warehouse.

The programme included the shipment of arms to the rebels through Turkey and Jordan with supplies being sent to the jihadist-backed Free Syrian Army which was fighting government forces in a bid to bring down the government.

However, Turkey has itself been accused of support for jihadist groups in Syria as part of its war on the country’s Kurdish population. In 2016 the then liberal Cumhuriyet newspaper published footage which allegedly showed Turkish intelligence services sending trucks loaded with weapons bound for Syrian Islamists.

Operation Olive Branch was launched in January 2017 as Turkish forces allied with jihadist groups to invade and occupy the largely Kurdish city of Afrin. More recently President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened an “imminent” ground invasion of Manbij after the US announced it was withdrawing troops, claiming 15,000 FSA fighters would support the Turkish operation.

Video footage circulating on social media on Sunday alleged to show the Turkish army allowing a convoy of 250 Tahrir al-Sham (al Qaida) fighters crossing the border into Atarib town in Aleppo.

Turkey has previously dismissed claims that it facilitated jihadists crossing into Syria as “black propaganda.” However reports from the border town of Akcakale suggested that in 2014 Isis fighters were crossing into Tal Abyad in Raqqa province, often after using Turkish hospitals to patch up war wounds.

US President Donald Trump announced that the clandestine plan was being scrapped in July 2017 after it became apparent that efforts to overthrow Mr Assad’s government had failed.

Mr Ford said: “The only ‘smart missiles’ in the hands of Isis are the US TOW anti-tank missiles which in 2015 the US supplied moderate rebels, who promptly sold them to Isis.

“The lethality of these weapons had Assad on the ropes, forcing Russia to intervene. And now we see the results. What geniuses these American strategists are…”

“Don’t wait for the mainstream media to point up the awkward facts that our commandos are being killed with US weapons carrying out missions for the US-led coalition with no legal authority and when Syrian forces are just a few miles away being prevented by the US and the UK from going in hot pursuit of Isis.”

Stop the War convenor Lindsey German said that forces seeking regime change, including Britain, had been intervening in Syria for years “supplying arms to rebels, bombing and using special forces for covert operations.”

“Most people in Britain are unaware of all this, and are loathe to support such interventions, which have helped fuel the bloody war in Syria. All British troops should be withdrawn now.”

Bring troops home from Syria, Democrat Elizabeth Warren says

This 4 January 2019 video from the USA is called Elizabeth Warren Supports Trump’s Syria Withdrawal.

It looks like Ms Warren, a left-winger among Democratic party politicians, has better ideas on Syria than warmongering politicians in the right wing of her party and in the Republican party. They prefer United States soldiers coming home in coffins to soldiers coming home alive and prefer continued killing of Syrian civilians. Apparently, Senator Warren does not.

Unfortunately, it looks like warmongering ‘broken clock‘ President Donald Trump may be already backtracking on his original plan of bringing the soldiers home from Syria.

Update, 6 January 2019: Trump’s advisor Bolton now says US soldiers will stay in Syria indefinetely, ‘to prevent Kurds from allying with the Syrian government or Russia’.

US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have embarked on what could be described as a “walk back” tour of the Middle East. Its purpose is to assure US regional allies that Washington is not about to implement the decision announced by President Donald Trump last month to carry out a speedy and total withdrawal of US troops from Syria: here.

Syria, Afghanistan and the United States peace movement

This 28 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Bring the Troops Home & Stop the Bombing: Medea Benjamin on U.S. Withdrawal from Syria & Afghanistan

As President Donald Trump makes a surprise visit to Iraq this week and defends his plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria and about half the nearly 7,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, we get response from leading antiwar activist Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CodePink. “We want to challenge Donald Trump … by pointing out that he continues to support the war in Yemen and the repressive Saudi regime”, Benjamin says. Her recent piece for is titled “Bring the troops home—but stop the bombing too.”

This 28 December 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Documentary on Impact of Vietnam War Recalls Responsibility to Stand Up & Say No to War

The War at Home”, a landmark documentary about antiwar protests in the 1960s and ’70s in Madison, Wisconsin, has just been re-released nationwide. We speak with co-director Glenn Silber, two-time Academy Award nominee, about the making of the film and why he argues now is an important time to revisit the responsibility to stand up and say no to war.

Afghanistan peace talks and the debacle of the war on terror. 29 January 2019. Whether Washington withdraws US troops remains to be seen; what is certain is that Afghanistan is viewed through the prism of preparations for far wider wars: here.

Warmonger Trump withdraws soldiers from Syria, other warmongers upset

This 19 December 2018 video from the USA is called Trump Orders US Withdrawal From Syria In 30 Days.

United States President Trump is a broken clock. Wrong nearly all of the time, but right two small moments a day. Like his sometimes rival, sometimes friend, Turkish President Erdogan, a dictator and a warmonger, is right at some small moments.

Trump is a dangerous warmonger. Look at his recent nuclear escalation. Look at his bombing of Syria (profitable for Trump himself as a Raytheon missiles share owner). Look at his escalating conflict with North Korea, threatening nuclear war. However, the international peace movement and the new South Korean government managed to de-escalate the Korean situation. Trump went along with that, to a certain extent, in a rare moment. Some neoconservative ‘hawks’ in the USA who had hoped that Trump would start a real nuclear war objected to that.

And now warmonger Trump is getting objections from fellow warmongers again. For doing one of the few things of when Trump’s clock so rarely indicates the right time at last: withdrawing United States troops from Syria.

At last. It does not solve everything. Let us not cheer prematurely. Eg, the soldiers of Trump’s NATO ally Erdogan are still present in Syria in a bloody way.

It does not have to be unqualified good news. Maybe Trump announces this only as he realizes that starting wars in Cuba and/or in Venezuela will not work while soldiers needed for those wars are in Syria. But the hawkish corporate media pundits and politicians are now not attacking Trump on Syria because of any objection to invading Latin American countries.

When will Trump’s political establishment critics ever learn to criticize him for the many horrible things he does, from jailing refugee children to deporting ‘Dreamers’ to environmental destruction to racism to homophobia to tax cuts for himself and other billionaires, instead of criticizing him for very rare good things?

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Trump’s Syrian withdrawal order sparks political firestorm in Washington

20 December 2018

An apparent order by US President Donald Trump for the withdrawal of all 2,000 US troops deployed in Syria over the next 60 to 100 days has sparked consternation and sharp opposition from the Pentagon, top Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill as well as Washington’s NATO allies.

The withdrawal order, which was leaked to the media by senior officials within the administration and the military, was given what apparently constituted a confirmation by a brief tweet from Trump Wednesday declaring, “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

This was followed later in the day by a statement from White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, declaring “We have started returning United States troops home as we transition to the next phase of this campaign”, adding, “The United States and our allies stand ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests whenever necessary.”

The White House announcement was followed by yet another statement from the Pentagon, whose spokeswoman Dana White flatly contradicted the US president, declaring that “the coalition has liberated ISIS-held territory, but the campaign against ISIS is not over.” ISIS is an acronym for the Islamic State terror group.

“We will continue working with our partners and allies to defeat ISIS wherever it operates,” she said, giving no details as to a timeline, noting “force protection and operational security reasons.”

Meanwhile, Reuters quoted an unnamed US official as stating Wednesday that all US State Department personnel operating inside Syria were being evacuated from the country within 24 hours.

The official also said that the withdrawal plans flowed directly from an agreement reached between Trump and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan during a telephone conversation last Friday. “Everything that has followed is implementing the agreement that was made in that call,” the official said.

The call was reportedly made to discuss Turkey’s concerns over the presence of the Syrian Kurdish separatist YPG militia near the Syrian-Turkish border. The YPG is the main element of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the proxy ground force that the US has backed in northeastern Syria. Erdogan, whose government views the YPG as an extension of the Turkish Kurdish separatist PKK, against which Ankara has waged a decades-long counterinsurgency campaign, has repeatedly threatened that a Turkish intervention against the YPG is imminent. Turkish forces, including armor, have reportedly been deployed to the border.

While Washington is no doubt anxious to avoid a potential military confrontation with Turkey, a member of the NATO alliance, the Trump White House has taken other measures aimed at restoring US-Turkish relations, which have been strained …

Just hours before the withdrawal announcement, the State Department informed Congress of a proposed $3.5 billion dollar deal to sell Turkey Patriot anti-ballistic missile systems, manufactured by Raytheon. Ankara had previously signaled its intention to buy S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia. Such a purchase would have precluded Turkey’s purchase of US F-35 warplanes, and would have brought the country’s relations with NATO to a breaking point.

The announced withdrawal of US troops may signal a green light to the Erdogan government to launch its threatened invasion of eastern Syria and drive Kurdish forces from the border. In the absence of US troops, the YPG may seek to reach an accommodation with Damascus, restoring control of the region to the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The illegal US occupation of Syria, begun under the Obama administration in October 2015 without authorization from either the United Nations or the Syrian government, was expanded under Trump, with at least 2,000 US troops deployed in northeastern Syria as well as special forces near the borders with Iraq and Jordan in the south.

The launching of the so-called war on ISIS in Syria signaled a shift from the failed US strategy of “regime change” based upon CIA support for Al Qaeda-linked militias in a bloody war to bring down the Assad government. US troops on the ground in Syria coordinated a savage campaign of airstrikes and bombardments that reduced the city of Raqqa and other towns controlled by ISIS to rubble.

While during the presidential campaign of 2016 Trump had vowed to withdraw US troops from Syria, Pentagon, intelligence and other national security officials had dissuaded him against acting on the promise.

Figures like Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis, National Security Advisor John Bolton and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford have reiterated—including just weeks ago—a strategy based on an open-ended US military presence in Syria aimed at rolling back both Iranian and Russian influence and ultimately securing Washington’s original aim of overthrowing Assad and imposing a more pliant puppet regime in Damascus.

For his part, Dunford stated earlier this month that the US military was only one-fifth of the way towards its goal of training and arming a force of 35,000 to 40,000 proxy troops in northeastern Syria to provide “security” over what would effectively be a US protectorate carved out of the Middle Eastern country.

In occupying northeastern Syria, the US military and its proxies have seized control over roughly a third of the country, including, most crucially, Syria’s oil and natural gas fields as well as its eastern border with Iraq. By maintaining this domination, Washington’s aim was to preclude any reunification and reconstruction of the war-ravaged country and continue the murderous conflict until the US achieved its strategic aims.

The announcement of the planned withdrawal drew sharp criticism from leading Republicans in Congress, who appeared to have been blindsided by the shift in policy.

Senator Lindsey Graham described the withdrawal as “a huge Obama-like mistake,” invoking previous Republican criticisms of Obama for withdrawing US troops from Iraq in 2011.

“The decision to pull out of Syria was made despite overwhelming military advice against it,” Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted. “It is a major blunder. It [sic] it isn’t reversed it will haunt this administration & America for years to come.”

Also apparently caught unawares by the apparent shift in US policy in Syria was Washington’s closest NATO ally. British Defense Minister Tobias Ellwood issued a statement declaring that he “strongly disagreed” with Trump’s decision. “It [ISIS] has morphed into other forms of extremism and the threat is very much alive,” he said in a tweet.

Among those who did receive an advance warning was Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “The US administration has told me that it was the president’s intention to pull out their troops from Syria. They clarified that they have other ways to wield their influence in that arena,” he told the Israeli daily Haaretz.

The main instrument of US “influence” has been devastating US airstrikes, which have been launched from bases in Qatar and elsewhere in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the US maintains a force of at least 5,000 troops across the border in Iraq, capable of delivering artillery fire into eastern Syria.

The announced withdrawal of US troops from Syria will undoubtedly intensify the internecine conflicts within the US ruling establishment and state, while at the same time increasing tensions within the Middle East. It is not a harbinger of any de-escalation of the armed conflicts in the region. With or without “boots on the ground” in Syria, Washington’s military aggression against Iran and Russia will only intensify.

Trump’s announcements on Syria and Afghanistan have been followed by an ominous new ad from the former Blackwater, the militarized security company responsible for the Nisour Square massacre of 2007. The former Blackwater, which now goes by Academi, took out a full-page ad in the January/February 2019 issue of Recoil Magazine. The ad doesn’t say much: only the words “We are coming” in all capital letters, with the militarized security company’s familiar bear paw logo at the bottom of the page. And one cannot help but wonder if the “We are coming” message is meant for Syria and/or Afghanistan: here.

In a meandering and at times incoherent White House cabinet meeting held in front of the media, US President Donald Trump defended his surprise December 19 announcement of his decision to withdraw all US troops from Syria, while indicating that there is no set timetable for doing so: here.