russia no longer such a pal

Kremlin says ‘no time limit’ on Syrian intervention
Roland Oliphant, Telegraph, Sep 30 2016

Russian forces may remain in Syria indefinitely, the Kremlin indicated yesterday, as it hit out at claims that its military campaign has killed almost 4000 civilians since it began a year ago. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 3,800 civilians had died in Russian airstrikes since Putin ordered his air force into action on Sep 30 last year. The civilian toll makes up more than a third of the 9,300 people killed by Russian bombs in the past year, the group said. The figure also includes 2,700 fighters from Daesh and about 2,800 from various rebel factions. The Russian government brushed aside those claims on Friday. Commenting on the achievements of the first year of operations in Syria, Dmitry Peskov, Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, said:

Neither Daesh nor AQ nor Nusra are now sitting in Damascus. We do not consider as reliable the information on the situation in Syria coming from this organisation, which is based in the United Kingdom.

Mr Peskov said there was no time frame for the Russian campaign, saying Mr Putin would not put a limit on the intervention. He said:

The commander in chief, President Putin, never gave any deadlines or estimates about time limits.

Russia’s public entrance into the war decisively altered the course of the five-year conflict and wrong-footed the West. A year of bombing has established Moscow as a key player in the Middle East for the first time since the end of the Cold War, but has brought ferocious condemnation from rights groups and plunged diplomatic ties with western governments into crisis. Jackass Kerry said on Thursday that there was no point in renewing diplomatic talks with Russia following the collapse of a ceasefire brokered by the two countries last week. British diplomats said Russia’s year-long intervention had only “increased violence and prolonged the suffering” in the country and condemned Moscow for an intensive bombing campaign in the city of Aleppo. Gareth Bayley, the UK’s special representative on Syria, said in a statement:

Today, the reality in Syria is a nightmare. Russia has proved to be either unwilling or unable to influence Assad and must bear its responsibility for the Assad regime’s atrocities.

MSF accused Syria and Russia of provoking a “bloodbath” in Aleppo, saying the eastern rebel-held portion had become “a giant kill box.” Sergei Lavrov rejected accusations that Russia was using banned munitions, including cluster bombs and bunker-busters, in its raids on Aleppo. In an interview with the BBC, he blamed Pindo attempts to protect Nusra for the failure of diplomatic efforts to end the violence. Peskov’s refusal to put a time limit on the mission in Syria will stoke concerns about an open-ended entanglement in the war there. Mr Putin ordered a partial pull out of troops shortly before pro-government troops supported by Russian jets and special forces recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from Daesh in March. However, the tempo of operations does not appear to have altered and troop numbers may have actually increased. Russia recently expanded its contingent with several bombers and is considering committing extra ground attack aircraft, Izvestia reported on Friday. While the Kremlin initially ruled out sending ground troops, a large body of evidence suggests special forces, artillery, and tank units have also been deployed and taken part in action there.

Russia has not publicised the number of troops it has deployed to Syria. The Ministry of Defence says it has lost 20 men, four helicopters, and one fast jet (the last shot down by the Turkish air force) during the campaign. That does not include any casualties incurred by unacknowledged private military contractors who are believed to have bolstered pro-government infantry forces. Mikhail Bogdanov, Russia’s top Middle East diplomat, told a parliamentary committee this week that intervention had run on much longer than expected. Speaking to the foreign affairs committee of the Federation Council, Russia’s upper house, Mr Bogdanov said operations had dragged on partly because of the failure to build a wide alliance. RIA Novosti reported:

When our active measures began and our air force was committed to the fight with terrorism, we thought the operation would last a few months. Now we are marking one year, and the end of our work is not in sight. Not everyone understood the task of consolidated war on terror, we could not create a broad front and unite our efforts.

Russia sending more warplanes to Syria as world anger grows
Dmitry Solovyov, Ellen Francis, Tom Perry, Angus McDowall, Lisa Barrington, Eric Beech, Reuters, Sep 30 2016

MOSCOW/ BEIRUT/ FASCHINGSTEIN – Russia is sending more warplanes to Syria to further ramp up its campaign of air strikes, a Russian newspaper reported on Friday, as Moscow defied global censure over an escalation that Western countries say has torpedoed diplomacy. In a statement issued by the White House after the two leaders spoke by telephone, Obama and Merkel described the Russian and Syrian bombing of Aleppo as “barbarous.” Fighting intensified a week into a new Russian-backed government offensive to capture all of Syria’s largest city and crush the last remaining urban stronghold of the rebellion. Hundreds of people have been killed in the bombing and many hundreds more wounded, with little access to treatment in hospitals that lack basic supplies. Residents say the air strikes are unprecedented in their ferocity, deploying heavier bombs that flatten buildings on top of the people huddled inside. The Kremlin said on Friday there was no time frame for Russia’s military operation in Syria. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters:

The main result of Russian air strikes over the past year is neither Daesh nor AQ nor Nusra are now sitting in Damascus.

Britain’s Special Representative to Syria, Gareth Bayley, said:

From Russia’s first air strikes in Syria, it has hit civilian areas and increasingly used indiscriminate weapons, including cluster and incendiary munitions. Today, the reality in Syria is a nightmare. Aleppo is besieged again, with vital necessities such as water, fuel, and medicine running out for hundreds of thousands. Civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, are being attacked.

Izvestia reported that a group of Su-24 and Su-34 warplanes had arrived at Syria’s Hmeymim base. It quoted a military official as saying:

If need be, the air force group will be built up within two to three days. Su-25 ground attack fighters designated to be sent to Hmeymim have already been selected in their units and their crews are on stand-by, awaiting orders from their commanders.

Jackass Kerry said on Thursday there was no point pursuing further negotiations with Russia over Syria. That leaves Faschingstein with no backup plan for a policy that hinged on talks co-sponsored with Moscow. Syrian government forces and rebels fought battles on Friday in the city center and north of Aleppo, where government troops had recaptured a camp for Palestinian refugees on Thursday that had already changed hands once since the start of the attack. The sides gave conflicting accounts of the outcome of Friday’s fighting. North of the city, the military said it had captured territory around the Kindi hospital near the refugee camp. Rebel sources denied the army had advanced there. In the city center, the military said it had advanced in the Suleiman al-Halabi district. A Syrian military source said government forces captured several buildings in the area and were “continuing to chase the remnants of the terrorists fleeing them.” Rebel officials said troops had moved forward but had subsequently been forced to withdraw. One of the rebel officials said government forces had “advanced and then retreated” losing “a number of dead.”

Russia says Syria statement shows Washington supports terrorism
Maria Kiselyova, Reuters, Sep 30 2016

Russia is outraged by the threatening tone of the latest Pindo statement on Syria, viewing it as tantamount to supporting terrorism, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Thursday, according to Russian news agencies. Ryabkov was referring to a statement made by Adm (retd) Kirby, who said on Wednesday that Russia had an interest in stopping the violence in Syria because extremists could exploit the vacuum there and launch attacks “against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.” Ryabkov was quoted as saying:

We cannot interpret this as anything else apart from the current Pindo administration’s de facto support for terrorism. These thinly-disguised invitations to use terrorism as a weapon against Russia show the political depths the current Pindo administration has stooped to in its approach to the Middle East and specifically to Syria.

Pindo boxtops said on Wednesday that Obama administration officials had begun considering tougher responses to the Russian-backed Syrian government assault on Aleppo, including military options. Ryabkov was quoted as saying that Moscow saw no alternative to an original Pindo-Russia plan to try to get a ceasefire in Syria and that Washington should focus on implementing it. He said a seven-day ceasefire plan proposed by Pindostan was unacceptable and that Moscow was proposing a 48-hour “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo instead.

Kremlin slams Pindostan & says will press on with Syria operation
Dmitry Solovyov, Maria Kiselyova, Reuters, Sep 30 2016

The Kremlin said on Thursday that Russia’s air force would press ahead with its operations in Syria and dismissed a Pindosi statement on the conflict there as unhelpful and clumsy. Jackass Kerry has called on Moscow to ground its planes over Syrian battle zones, including over Aleppo. But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters on Thursday that the Russian air force would continue to support Syrian government troops and that what he called the “war on terror” would continue. Peskov urged Washington to deliver on a pledge to separate moderate Syrian opposition fighters from “terrorists” and called the latest Pindo statement on Syria clumsy and unhelpful. He was referring to a statement by Adm (retd) Kirby, who said on Wednesday that Russia had an interest in stopping the violence in Syria because extremists could exploit the vacuum there and launch attacks “against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities.” Despite growing Pindo-Russia tensions, Peskov said Russia remained interested in cooperating with the United States to try to resolve the Syria crisis.

Pindostan calls Russian, Syrian bombing of Aleppo ‘gift’ to Daesh
Michelle Nichols, Reuters, Sep 340 2016

UN – Pindostan called the assault on Aleppo by Syria and Russia “a gift” to Daesh on Thursday, saying it was sowing doom and would generate more recruits for them. Moscow vowed to press on with its offensive in Syria, while Pindo boxtops searched for a tougher response to Russia’s decision to ignore the peace process (sic – RB) and seek a military victory on behalf of Assad. The recent focus of the fighting is a Syrian and Russian bid to recapture rebel-held eastern Aleppo. UN aid chief British Tory politician Stephen O’Brien urged the 15-member UNSC:

East Aleppo this minute is not at the edge of the precipice, it is well into its terrible descent into the pitiless and merciless abyss of a humanitarian catastrophe unlike any we have witnessed in Syria. The only remaining deterrent it seems is that there will be real accountability in the court of world opinion and disgust. Goodness knows, nothing else seems to be working to stop this deliberate, gratuitous carnage of lives lost … (to stop) tolerating the utter disregard for the most basic provisions of international humanitarian law.

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari told reporters after the UNSC meeting on Thursday:

The Syrian government is not bombing civilians. These people are our own people. We don’t bomb civilians. We don’t kill civilians. We don’t bomb humanitarian convoys. We don’t do that. Those who did it are the terrorists.

French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said he had started discussions with some council members on a draft resolution to try and impose a ceasefire in Aleppo. New Zealand UN Ambassador Gerard van Bohemen said after the council meeting that members expressed a “great deal of interest” in seeing the French text and a willingness to work on it. Samantha Power said:

What Assad and Russia are doing in Aleppo is soul-shattering. What they are doing is sowing not only the doom of this country … but it is going to generate more refugee flow, more radicalization. What they are doing is a gift to Daesh and Nusra, the groups that they claim that they want to stop.

Russia has also accused Pindostan of “de facto support for terrorism.” As Washington threatens to walk away from talks with Russia on Syria unless the fighting stops, Britain’s UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told reporters it was time “to move to a different form of diplomacy.” The Russian proposal is designed to sound good, but to allow them to carry on their deadly bombing campaign. He dismissed the Russian proposal for a 48-hour humanitarian pause in fighting in Aleppo, saying:

The Russian proposal is designed to sound good, but to allow them to carry on their deadly bombing campaign.

Since July, the UN has been calling for a weekly 48-hour truce to allow the delivery of aid to besieged areas.

Syria’s UN envoy says: ‘We don’t bomb civilians’
Maggie Nichols, Reuters, Sep 30 2016

Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari rejected accusations on Thursday that the Syrian government was killing civilians. Ja’afari told reporters after a UNSC meeting:

The Syrian government is not bombing civilians. These people are our own people. We don’t bomb civilians. We don’t kill civilians. We don’t bomb humanitarian convoys. We don’t do that. Those who did it are the terrorists.

Ban Ki-moon last week accused the Syrian government of killing the most civilians during the country’s five year conflict. More than 400,000 people have died and half the 22 million population have been uprooted in the war.

Pro-Syrian government forces control Aleppo’s Handarat camp
Angus McDowall, Reuters, Sep 30 20176

Pro-Syrian government forces gained control over the Handarat camp north of Aleppo on Thursday, a rebel official and a war monitor said, the second time they have captured it since a government offensive began last week. Zakaria Malahifji, an official with the Fastaqim rebel group, confirmed that the camp had fallen to government forces that had previously captured it on Saturday only to lose it again in an insurgent counter attack later that day. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said the Syrian army and its allies had gained control over the camp, but that clashes continued in the area around it.

Aleppo humanitarian catastrophe ‘unlike any’ in Syria: UN
AFP, Sep 29 2016

UN – Under-Sec Gen for humanitarian affairs British Tory politician Stephen O’Brien warned the UNSC on Thursday that Aleppo faces a humanitarian catastrophe “unlike any” witnessed so far in Syria’s brutal five-year war. O’Brien warned that evidence was being collected of the atrocities happening in Aleppo so that “one day there will be no hiding place” for those perpetrating war crimes. He said:

Let me be clear. East Aleppo this minute is not at the edge of the precipice. It is well into its terrible descent into the pitiless and merciless abyss of a humanitarian catastrophe unlike any we have witnessed in Syria. This revolting situation in Aleppo must – please – be the SOS, the Mayday call to the international community! Syria is bleeding! Its citizens are dying! We all hear their cry for help!

The council was meeting to discuss the crisis in Syria as France said it would push for a UNSCR imposing a ceasefire in Aleppo, which has been under fierce bombardment by Syrian and Russian warplanes for a week. Samantha Power described the escalation as “the most savage week we’ve seen in an incredibly savage five-plus-year war,” with more than 1,000 people killed by 1,700 air strikes on east Aleppo alone. Power described the latest offensive as “soul-shattering” and accused Russia and Assad of “unleashing a savagery” against civilians. “We’re at a turning point,” she said. French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters that France would “spare no effort” to try to impose a ceasefire in Aleppo through a UNSCR. Russia however would likely use its veto power at the council to block such a resolution.

Up to 600 wounded in Syria’s east Aleppo, evacuations needed, says UN
Tom Miles, Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, Srep 29 2016

Hundreds of wounded need evacuation from besieged eastern Aleppo, where medical supplies are running low and there are only rations for a quarter of the population, the UN deputy Syria envoy Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy said on Thursday. Ramzy, speaking to reporters in Geneva after the weekly meeting of the humanitarian task force, he said:

Russia and Pindostan must resurrect their cessation of hostilities agreement of Sep 19 and make it a reality once again. I think this is the best way out of this very difficult humanitarian and military situation in which the Syrians find themselves in today. The dramatic situation in rebel-held eastern Aleppo and “extremely heavy aerial bombardment” had “overshadowed” the meeting. It is estimated that as many as 600 wounded cannot be provided with adequate treatment. The rebel-held sector of some 275,000 has just 35 doctors and scant medical supplies. Hundreds of medical evacuations are the utmost priority at this point. There are also severe shortages of water and electricity and many bakeries remain closed.

NYT brands Russia an “outlaw state”
Bill Van Auken, WSWS, Sep 30 2016

Amid mounting public threats that Pindostan is preparing an escalation of its military intervention in Syria, the NYT Thursday published a lead editorial branding Russia as an “outlaw state.” This ratcheting up of rhetoric that has grown increasingly hysterical in regard to Russia is a response to the debacle suffered by Pindo imperialism in its over five-year-long proxy war for regime change in Syria. Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air power, appear to be on the brink of retaking all of the eastern portion of Aleppo, the last major bastion of the Pindo-backed “rebels,” composed principally of AQ-affiliated Islamist militias. Jackass Kerry issued an ultimatum to his Sergei Lavrov Wednesday: either Russia grounds both its own and Syria’s warplanes, or Washington will break off all negotiations with Moscow on Syria. The significance of this threat was further spelled out in a press briefing by Adm (retd) Kirby, who told reporters that as a consequence of Russia failing to bow to Pindosi demands, quote:

Extremists and extremist groups will continue to … expand their operations, which will include – no question – attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities, and Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags, and they will continue to lose resources; even, perhaps, more aircraft.

The provocative and utterly reckless character of Kirby’s remarks was no accident. That Washington intended to communicate a threat to unleash CIA-sponsored terrorism against Russia was underscored by a WaPo column by Philip Gordon, who until last year was the White House coordinator for the MENA and the Gulf. The piece, which warned in its headline that “Russia will pay the price,” used almost identical language, stating that continued Russian action in Syria “could very well result in terrorist attacks against Russia.” Gordon went on to warn that the Obama administration could take actions to “increase costs on Russia,” adding:

Arming the opposition with shoulder-fired missiles capable of hitting Russian and Syrian planes over Aleppo is among the options. (If) Hillary Clinton becomes the next POTUS, Putin could be facing a Pindo leader who has long supported a no-fly zone in Syria and robust support for the opposition, has expressed skepticism about Russia’s intentions in Syria, and will be looking to more clearly reassert Pindosi leadership in the Middle East.

It is evident, however, that the question of whether an escalation of the Pindo intervention in Syria can wait until after the election of Nov 8 has become the subject of heated debate within the ruling establishment. Reuters cited unnamed senior boxtops as saying that the Obama administration is considering “tougher responses to the Russian-backed Syrian government assault, including military options,” including the provision of heavier weaponry to the AQ-linked “rebels” and air strikes on Syrian government positions. This second option was already put into practice with the Sep 17 Pindo bombing that killed and wounded close to 200 Syrian troops near Deir Ezzor, which Washington claimed was an accident. With its editorial denunciation of Russia as an “outlaw state,” the NYT is effectively weighing in on the debate within Pindo ruling circles over their intervention in Syria. It wants a military escalation and it wants it now, against Russia. The NYT writes:

Pres Obama has long refused to approve direct military intervention in Syria. And Mr Putin may be assuming that Mr Obama is unlikely to confront Russia in his final months and with a Pindo election season in full swing. But with the rebel stronghold in Aleppo under threat of falling to the government, administration officials said that such a response is again under consideration.

To bolster its case, the NYT throws in unsubstantiated charges made in an investigation driven entirely by “evidence” supplied by the Ukrainian secret police that Russia was responsible for the Jul 2014 shootdown of MH17 over the Donbass. The newspaper declares that Putin is guilty of, quote:

butchering civilians in Syria and Ukraine, annexing Crimea, computer-hacking Pindosi government agencies (and) crushing dissent at home.

Putin’s government represents Russia’s ruling oligarchy, that enriched itself through the theft of state property during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the restoration of capitalism. Its intervention in Syria, though of a defensive character in response to Pindo attempts to encircle and isolate Russia, represents the interests of this oligarchy and poses offers no progressive solution to the catastrophe unleashed by imperialism on Syria and the broader Middle East. That being said, the crimes of Putin pale in the face of those carried out by successive Pindo administrations, all of them with the complicity and propaganda support of the NYT. The Pindo government is responsible for over a million deaths in Iraq and hundreds of thousands more from Afghanistan to Libya and Yemen. It instigated the regime-change operations in both Ukraine and Syria that gave rise to the “butchery” in those countries, much of it inflicted with weapons supplied by the CIA. Moreover, even as the NYT attacked the Russians’ “butchery” in Syria, the Pentagon announced that it is sending another 600 Pindo troops to Iraq to prepare for a siege of Mosul which, like the previous assaults on Fallujah and Ramadi, will entail massive crimes against the civilian population. As for Russian computer hacking, the NYT speaks on behalf of the Pindo government which, through the NSA, engages in the most massive spying operations the world has ever seen. And as for “crushing dissent at home,” it should be recalled, Pindostan is a country where the police murder over 1,000 people every year, a country which keeps some 2 million people behind bars. In brief, the NYT editorial is a piece of war propaganda.

The term “outlaw state” was first put into official use by Ronald Reagan. It was later rendered as “rogue state” under Bill Clinton and then under Bush 43 became the “axis of evil.” Invariably, these terms were used to described oppressed semi-colonial states targeted by Pindo imperialism for war and conquest: Nicaragua, Grenada, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, North Korea, Iran, etc. Now, in the pages of the NYT it is used to describe Russia, a country of 146 million people armed with nuclear weapons. The implications could not be more ominous. While the motivations of the NYT editors may include short-term political considerations, such as the possibility of an “October surprise” in Syria boosting the prospects for Hillary Clinton, the anti-Russian propaganda campaign that the newspaper is leading has far deeper roots in the crisis of Pindosi capitalism and the protracted bid by Pindo imperialism to overcome its historic decline through the instrument of militarism. If words have any meaning, then the NYT editorial is a warning: behind the backs of the Pindostani sheeple and the entire planet, the preparations for WW3 are advancing rapidly.

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