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Pentagon Falsifying Paperwork For Weapons Transfers To Syrian Rebels
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Sep 13 2017

A new bombshell joint report issued by two international weapons monitoring groups Tuesday confirms that the Pentagon continues to ship record breaking amounts of weaponry into Syria and that the DoD is scrubbing its own paper trail. On Tuesday the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) produced conclusive evidence that not only is the Pentagon currently involved in shipping up to $2.2b worth of weapons from a shady network of private dealers to allied partners in Syria, mostly old Soviet weaponry, but is actually manipulating paperwork such as end-user certificates, presumably in order to hide pindo involvement. The OCCRP and BIRN published internal defense procurement files after an extensive investigation which found that the Pentagon is running a massive weapons trafficking pipeline which originates in the Balkans and Caucuses, and ends in Syria and Iraq. The program is ostensibly part of the pindo train, equip, and assist campaign for the YPG/SDF. The arms transfers are massive and the program looks to continue for years. But perhaps more shocking is the following admission that Pentagon suppliers have links with known criminal networks. According to ForeignPolicy.com’s coverage of the report:

The DoD has budgeted $584m specifically for this Syrian operation for FY2017/8, and has earmarked another $900m of spending on Soviet-style munitions between now and 2022. The total, $2.2b, likely understates the flow of weapons to Syrian rebels in the coming years. According to the report, many of the weapons suppliers, primarily in Eastern Europe but also in the former Soviet republics including Kazakhstan, Georgia and Ukraine have both links to organized crime throughout Eastern Europe and spotty business records. The sheer amount of material necessary for the Pentagon program has reportedly stretched suppliers to the limit, forcing the DoD to relax standards on the materials it’s willing to accept. One ammunition factory announced it planned to hire 1,000 new employees in 2016 to help cope with the demand.

It is likely that the organized crime association is the reason why the Pentagon has sought to alter its records. In addition, the sheer volume of weaponry continuing to ship to the Syrian battlefield and other parts of the Middle East means inevitable proliferation among unsavory terror groups, a phenomenon which has already been exhaustively documented in connection with the now reportedly closed CIA program to topple the Syrian government. The associations and alliances among some of the Arab former FSA groups the DoD continues to support in the north and east remains fluid, which means means pindo-supplied weapons will continue to pass among groups with no accountability for where they end up. One of the authors of the OCCRP/BIRN report, Ivan Angelovski, told ForeignPolicy.com:

The Pentagon is removing any evidence in their procurement records that weapons are actually going to the Syrian opposition.

The report is based on internal government memos which reveal that weapons shipment destination locations have been scrubbed from original documents.

penta 1Falsified and altered Pentagon procurement documents

 

Is an End User Certificate still an EUC if it doesn’t include an end user?

DJmqWGXX0AArFBP.jpg-large 

Balkan Insight, which is hosting the original investigative report, writes:

Seven procurement documents were whitewashed to remove reference to ‘Syria’ after reporters contacted the Pentagon to enquire about whether the exporting countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine and Georgia) had been informed of the destination.

The fact that FP would admit that the Pentagon’s Syria weapons procurement program is tied to East European organized crime is itself hugely significant. At this point the evidence is simply so overwhelming that even establishment sources like FP, which itself has generally been pro-interventionist on Syria, can’t deny it. FP further reports that:

The Pentagon appears to be turbocharging a shadowy world of Eastern European arms dealers. The Pentagon is reportedly removing documentary evidence about just who will ultimately be using the weapons, potentially weakening one of the bulwarks of international protocols against illicit arms dealing.

Map/ from the OCCRP/BIRN report, confirmed by Foreign Policy magazine.penta 2

Notice the map denotes that prior CIA weapons went directly to Idlib province (northwest, section in green) and the Golan border region (south). Both of these areas were and continue to be occupied by AQ. In Idlib, there is AQ’s “proxy” or “franchise” Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham. In Idlib specifically, analysts have confirmed genocidal cleansing of religious minorities conducted by AQ “rebels” directly assisted by CIA weapons. Late last month we featured the story of Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, who was fired from her job after being interrogated by national intelligence officials for exposing the same Pentagon arms network which is the subject of the latest OCCRP/BIRN investigation. At the time, al-Jazeera was the only major international outlet which covered the story, which confirmed that Bulgarian agents interrogated Gaytandzhieva and “tried to find out her sources.” An anonymous source had leaked a large trove of internal government files connected to the arms trafficking to the East European-based Trud Newspaper journalist, which was the basis of her reporting. The newest investigation released Tuesday appears to include some of the same documents, also confirmed by Gayandzhieva. Read the full OCCRP/BIRN investigation here. Read Zero Hedge’s original coverage of the Pentagon’s Balkan arms pipeline here.

Russia Hypes Syria’s Gains Against Daesh
Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, Sep 12 2017

syria-map-sept

With some important gains made against Daesh in Deir Ezzor in the past couple of weeks, Syria’s allies are presenting the war as nearing absolute victory. Hezbollah declared victory in the war already, while Russia said Syria was well on its way to defeating Daesh outright. The claims of progress may be getting ahead of themselves, however, with Russia claiming Syria had cleared 85% of the country of rebels. This claim appears demonstrably false, as all credible maps of territory show the Syrian government well short of that. It’s not clear where the 85% reckoning came from in the first place, though the YPG holds well over 15% of the country by themselves, and if not “rebels” certainly are not on good terms with the government. At the same time, its undeniable that Daesh has lost a lot of territory in recent months, and a lot of that territory has fallen to the government’s forces. Still, territory lost has more Daesh defenses building around certain areas of its remaining territory, making further pushes more difficult.

Hezbollah declares Syria victory, Russia says much of country won back
Tom Perry, Katya Golubkova, Reuters, Sep 12 2017

BEIRUT/MOSCOW – Hezbollah has declared victory in the Syrian war while Russia said government forces had driven militants from much of the country where Pres Assad’s rule seemed in danger two years ago. The comments mark the most confident assessments yet of Assad’s position in the war, though significant parts of the country remain outside the government’s control. Russia’s assertion that the army had won back 85% of Syria was dismissed by the SOHR, which said the government held 48% of Syria. On Tuesday, Russia’s defense minister met with Assad in Damascus to discuss joint military efforts and the fight against Daesh. The government’s most recent advances have recovered swathes of territory in eastern Syria from Daesh, which is being targeted in the same region by YPG. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah dismissed the fighting left to be done in Syria as “scattered battles.” He said in comments reported by the Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar:

We have won in the war. The path of the other project has failed and wants to negotiate for some gains.

The comments, made at a religious gathering, were confirmed to Reuters by a source familiar with the speech. Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu visited Assad on Tuesday on the orders of Pres Putin, the ministry said. The meeting focused on plans to recapture Deir ez-Zor city and to “strengthen efforts to combat terrorism in all Syrian territory until its utter annihilation,” Assad’s office said. Shoigu and Assad discussed the de-escalation deals in parts of Syria that have “sped up the victories of the Syrian army and its allies in fighting terrorism in other areas.” RIA cited Alexander Lapin, chief of staff of the Russian military contingent in Syria, as saying:

To date, 85% of Syria’s territory has been cleared of the militants of illegal armed groups.

Lapin made no reference to a swathe of territory held in northern Syria by the YPG/SDF, which is not at war with Assad. The SOHR said YPG/SDF-held territory amounts to 23% of Syria. Lapin said:

The liberation of (Deir al-Zor) city is proceeding. Syrian troops are finalizing the defeat of the Daesh group blocking the northern and southern districts of Deir al-Zor. The assault is being led by General Suheil al-Hassan. Daesh are still in control of around 27,000 sq km of Syria’s territory.

Referring to the Russian figure of 85%, a Western diplomat said:

Other numbers tell a darker story: over 400,000 killed; half the population displaced; millions of refugees. The harder question for Russia to answer is whether any of its vaunted 85% is stable. The Assad state is a thin veneer stretched over a patchwork of fiefdoms.

The SOHR said air strikes likely to have been carried out by Russian warplanes killed 69 people since Sunday near the Euphrates River in Deir ez-Zor. The SOHR, which identified the victims as civilians, said the air strikes had hit encampments on the western bank of the river and vessels crossing to the eastern side. Syrian state television separately reported the army was conducting artillery and machine gun attacks on rafts carrying Daesh militants to the eastern side of the river from their last positions in Deir ez-Zor city. A commander said in a televised interview:

Their only escape route out of the city is through rafts on the river, and god willing, we will target them in the water before they get away.

Aside from the territory held by the YPG/SDF and Daesh, rebels still control a corner of the northwest, a corner of the southwest, an area near Damascus, and an area north of the city of Homs. Syrian government attacks in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus suggest Assad may yet try to recapture the remaining rebel-held areas of the west, including enclaves at the borders with Turkey, Jordan and Israel. A major general in the Syrian Republican Guard interviewed by a state-run TV station from Deir ez-Zor on Monday warned Syrians who had “run away or escaped from Syria to any other country” not to return. Maj-Gen Issam Zahreddine, head of the 104 Brigade which was under Daesh siege for three years in Deir ez-Zor, later issued a clarification on his Facebook page, saying his warning had been directed only at people who had taken up arms.

Syria reclaims 85% of territory from Daesh, says top Russian general
Deutsche Welle, Sep 12 2017

The SAA has made significant advances since breaking the siege of Deir el-Zour, said a top Russian general in Syria. Lt-Gen Alexander Lapin, who heads Russia’s military headquarters in Syria, said on Tuesday that 85% of Syria had been cleared of militants and rebels. Speaking from the Hmeimim air base in Latakia province, Lapin said the SAA made significant advances over the past month, bringing them closer to ending the Daesh presence in the country. Last week, the SAA broke a nearly three-year siege by Daesh on the government enclave of Deir ez-Zur, with Pres Assad describing it as one of the “hardest battles” fought by the country’s armed forces. Lapin said:

At the moment the operation to liberate the city continues. The Syrian troops are completing the defeat of the Daesh group, which blocked Deir el-Zour’s northern and southern neighborhoods. (Russian cruise missiles) have destroyed militant command posts and communication hubs, which made it possible to disrupt the management of Daesh units in this area. Daesh fighters still control roughly 27,000 sq km of Syria, mostly in Deir ez-Zour province.

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