south front

Northern Syria’s Exchanges Continue Despite Turkey’s Operation Running Late
South Front, Nov 25 2021

Turkey is preoccupied with what is going on within its borders, but the general stat of chaos in northern and central Syria refuses to subside. The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continuing to target militants violating the ceasefire in the northwestern region of Greater Idlib. On Nov 24, at least 40 rockets and artillery shells were targeted at militant positions around the towns of Kafr Taal and Tadil in the western Aleppo countryside. The attacks killed a member of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the ruler of Greater Idlib. On the same day, SAA targeted a position of the al-Qaeda-linked Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in the town of Ain La Rose in the southern countryside of Idlib. Two militants of the TIP were killed in the pinpoint strike. In the southern province of Daraa, where the reconciliation agreement was concluded between the Damascus government and the former rebels, still the situation is not calm. On Nov 24, a special operation was carried out by a commando unit from the SAA’s 5th Division. The operation targeted three wanted militants who were taking shelter in a farm located between the towns of Nahtah and Mlaiha al-Sharqiyah. All three militants were killed during the operation.

A few days earlier, the Syrian Military Intelligence Directorate (MID) carried out a similar special operation near the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh in the countryside of Daraa. A wanted man was killed and two others were apprehended. While the SAA was focused elsewhere, Israel reminded of itself by targeting the Homs countryside in the north. In the early hours of Nov 24, a new wave of Israeli airstrikes hit several targets in the central region of Syria. Most of the Israeli missiles were successfully intercepted by Syrian air defenses. One of the anti-aircraft missiles fired by a Syrian S-200 long-range air-defense system fell off the shores of the northern Israeli city of Haifa. Initially, the SANA reported that two civilians were killed in the airstrike, while two others and six Syrian soldiers were wounded. Later however, official Syrian sources confirmed that at least three soldiers were also killed. The conflict is simmering currently, with all sides still expecting Turkey to start moving against the Kurdish groups in the north. The large-scale military operation seems to be on hiatus, as Ankara deals with its internal issues, but it is likely just a matter of time. Meanwhile, the militants in Greater Idlib continue their ceasefire violations, challenging the SAA and its allies, namely Russia, to a more assertive stance and begin a ground operation against HTS and the other al-Qaeda affiliated groups.

Heavily Armed US MQ-9 Reaper Drone Photographed Over Syria’s Greater Idlib
South Front, Nov 25 2021

On Nov 24, a US General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper combat drone was spotted over the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib. The drone was conducting an armed reconnaissance mission over the town of Ma’arrat Misrin in the eastern Idlib countryside. The MQ-9 was armed with what appears to be four GBU-58 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. The drone was also carrying an unidentified pod under its right wing, likely used for communication or intelligence gathering, and an external fuel tank under its left wing. The external fuel tank indicates that the drone is of the more advanced MQ-9 Extended Range variant, which has an endurance of up to 34 hours. US drones have been conducting patrols over Greater Idlib for the last few months. Under the rule of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, the region became in the recent years the largest safe haven for terrorist groups and wanted terrorists in the Middle East. The drone spotted over Ma’arrat Misrin was likely looking for a wanted terrorist. In September, a US drone strike targeted Horas al-Din senior leader Salim Abu-Ahmad near the town.

Syrian Buk-2ME, Pantsir-S Systems Intercepted Ten Missiles During Israeli Attack On Homs: Russian MoD
South Front, Nov 25 2021

Syrian air defenses intercepted 12 out of ten missiles launched by Israeli fighter jets during the recent attack on the central governorate of Homs, Vadim Kulit, deputy chief of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria, revealed on Nov 24, according to the TASS news agency. The officer said:

On Nov 24, between 02:28 and 02:38, six F-16 tactical fighter jets of Israel’s Air Force launched a strike with twelve guided missiles from Lebanese airspace against targets in Syria’s Homs Province.

According to Kulit, the Syrian military used Russian-made Buk-M2E and Pantsir-S air-defense systems to intercept the Israeli missiles. Syrian news sources revealed that the Israeli attack had claimed the lives of three Syrian service members and two civilians. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said that the Israeli attack targeted several positions in Homs. The exact nature and location of these positions have not been revealed, yet. This was the fourth Israeli attack on Syria in November. The first attack, which took place on the 3rd of the month, targeted a military logistic support facility in the southern outskirts of the capital, Damascus. The second attack, which took place on the 8th of the month, targeted a military logistic support facility to the south of the coastal city of Tartus as well as an air defense base to the south of the central city of Homs. The third attack, which took place on the 17th of the month, targeted an empty building in the southern outskirts of Damascus.

Russian Warplanes Hammer Militant Positions Along M4 Highway In Greater Idlib
South Front, Nov 25 2021

On Nov 25, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out a series of airstrikes on the northwestern Syrian region of Greater Idlib where a number of terrorist groups are present and active. The airstrikes targeted militants’ positions in the outskirts of the towns of Qmenas and Sarmin in the southeastern Idlib countryside as well as near the towns of Mjdlya and Maarbalit in the southern countryside of the governorate. All four towns are located near the M4 highway which links the port city of Lattakia with Aleppo city, the industrial hub of Syria. The Russian airstrikes were likely a response to recent violations of the ceasefire in Greater Idlib which was brokered by Russia and Turkey on Mar 5 2020. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies were behind these violations. Under the Mar 5 agreement, the M4 highway was supposed to be reopened. However, HTS and its allies are still present on a long section of the highway in Greater Idlib. Turkey, who maintains a large force in the region, has been doing nothing to implement the agreement. Earlier this year, several reports talked about a near operation by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies to reinforce the ceasefire and reopen the M4 highway. Nevertheless, non of these reports materialized. An operation in Greater Idlib seems unlikely, at least currently, as it may lead to a dangerous confrontation with Turkish forces in the region.

US Spreads Fake News Of Russian Plans To Invade Ukraine As Kiev Shows Off Javelin Missile System
Paul Antonopoulos, South Front, Nov 25 2021

Kiev’s aggressive rhetoric about using the American-made Javelin anti-tank missile systems in Donbass, as well as accusations of Russia’s invasion plans, creates an explosive situation and encourages the escalation of conflict. Kyrylo Budanov, the head of the Ukrainian military intelligence service, also claimed that Kiev’s forces used the American Javelin system in Donbass for the first time. This is further evidence that the Minsk agreements, which are extremely important for regulating the crisis and ceasefire in Donbass, is being violated. Budanov claimed that the Javelin systems were also used against Russian forces. This of course does not correspondent with reality, and rather the allegation was made because Kiev falsely claims that the defense forces of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics are part of the Russian army. According to the head of the Intelligence Service, the American anti-tank missile system, together with the Turkish-assembled Bayraktar drones, will become a significant factor in curbing the Donbass defense forces. At the same time, he believes that Ukraine will need American support and urged Washington to provide assistance as soon as possible. This is an open provocation by Ukraine. The very fact that the Ukrainian military is armed with Javelin systems creates the conditions for provocations against the Donbass defense forces to be carried out. The use of anti-tank weapons enables the destruction of not only mobile armored targets, but also other military equipment. In fact, by having such a missile system, it might embolden Ukraine to use even more powerful weapons against the republics of Donbass.

The announcement by Ukrainian officials on the use of the American system in Donbass is an attempt by Kiev to show its strength, to demonstrate Western support and at the same time attempt to provoke a reaction and retaliation. Kiev, together with its Western partners, is actually creating a hostile atmosphere in anticipation of a potential conflict, thus creating an explosive situation. Javelin missile systems are expensive and not every country can buy them. Nonetheless, their use shows the extent of American direct military assistance to Ukraine. It is recalled that in mid-November, it was announced that Ukraine received 80 tons of ammunition from the US. According to the US Embassy in Kiev, it was the fourth delivery of $60m in additional aid that Biden sent to Ukraine in August. Earlier, Austin stated that Washington had set aside more than $2.5b since 2014 to support the Ukrainian military. Despite the statements about the use of the Javelin system in Donbass, it does not actually give the Ukrainian military any special advantage. However, in combination with statements about the use of Bayraktar drones and allegations that Russia will attack Ukraine soon, a general atmosphere of hostility and tension is created. This atmosphere could lead to mistakes or misunderstandings that have the potential to escalate into a military confrontation.

Rather than alleviating the situation, American media further fuels tensions by spreading the false claim that, according to American intelligence services, Russia could invade Ukraine at the beginning of next year from Crimea, Belarus and the east. According to Bloomberg, the US gave intelligence to its European allies last week about the alleged accumulation of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. This obvious lie is being spread by Western media in order to force European governments to apply additional pressure against Russia, demonstrating once again that Ukraine will continue to be a serious cause of tension between Moscow and Brussels. Organized information leaks are dangerous because they encourage Kiev to continue a policy of misinformation and confrontation. By encouraging such behavior, Ukraine could feel emboldened enough to begin new provocations in Donbass, just like it had done in 2014. This stimulates the current regime in Kiev to take more active actions, and thus destabilize the region in a seriously intensifying manner. Kiev’s tension raising comes despite Moscow repeatedly stressing that it has no intention of attacking any country or violating another country’s sovereign territory. The new accusations against Moscow serve as a screen for Kiev’s aggressive aspirations to solve the Donbass problem through militarily means rather than through the implementation of the Minsk agreement and negotiations.

From ‘Saddam Has WMDs’ To ‘Russia Is Preparing To Invade Ukraine’: Familiar Regime-Change Propaganda Now Targets Moscow
Gavin O’Reilly, South Front, Nov 25 2021

Following Saturday’s news report by corporate-owned US media outlet CBS, which outlined alleged plans by Russia to invade Ukraine in the coming weeks as the Winter sets in, based on unverified information given to the media network by unnamed US Intelligence officials, anti-Russian hysteria in the Western mainstream media has again stepped up a notch, with Moscow already being accused of playing a key role in the ongoing migrant crisis at the Belarus-Poland border, where thousands of immigrants, many of whom are fleeing the wars and colour revolutions imposed on their countries by the US-NATO hegemony, are attempting to enter the European Union. According to the CBS article, the key factor in preventing these alleged invasion plans from coming to fruition is an intervention from the West – or in other words, the war drums of Washington’s Neocons and regime-change lobby are now beating towards Moscow; and one only has to look at the results of previous regime-change lies to grasp the consequences that they entail. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks of Sep 11 2001, and the subsequent US-led invasion of Afghanistan one month later in October of that year, the wars drums against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq would soon begin to beat in Washington, despite the fact that 20 years on, little to no evidence has been produced linking either Iraq or Afghanistan to the attacks, in stark contrast to the evidence found linking US-allies Israel and Saudi Arabia to the atrocities. In a similar vein to their accusations of Afghanistan harbouring Osama Bin Laden, thus justifying a US-led invasion, the Western mainstream media, alongside Neoconservative think tanks such as PNAC and AIPAC, using Benjamin Netanyahu as its spokesman, would all, in lockstep, promote the narrative that Saddam Hussein’s leadership had acquired weapons of mass destruction, and had also harboured members of Bin Laden’s CIA-created Al-Qaeda network, thus enabling another US military intervention.

In Mar 2003, these propaganda efforts would come to fruition with the US-led war on Iraq, leading to more than half a million deaths, the modern-day refugee crisis, and as a result of the power vacuum following the removal of Hussein’s leadership, the takeover of vast swathes of the previously secular nation by Al-Qaeda’s Iraq branch, a precursor to the wider ISIS network which would be established a decade later. Despite the disastrous impact of these regime-change lies becoming globally apparent to onlookers, the US and its allies would again play out the same script less than eight years later, this time in Libya, who’s then-leader Muammar Gaddafi, a long-time thorn in the side of the White House and its allies, was planning a Gold Dinar currency, one which would have ended any reliance by Tripoli on the US Dollar, and which would also seal his fate in the eyes of the US-NATO hegemony. In Feb 2011, FUKUS would authorise a regime-change operation against the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya which saw the arming, funding and training of the same Salafist terrorists that the coalition had supposedly went into Iraq to combat in the first place, with the intentions of halting the planned Gold Dinar currency and removing Gaddafi’s secular leadership via a colour revolution.

In response to alleged ‘human rights abuses’ by Tripoli against said colour revolution and the terrorists implementing it, a no-fly zone would subsequently be launched over the North African country by NATO in March 2011, with the military alliance effectively acting as an air force for their terrorist proxies; by October 2011, Gaddafi was dead, his once-thriving nation laying in ruins, and the flow of migrants trying to escape from what was once the most prosperous nation in Africa substantially exacerbating the refugee crisis. At the same as this regime-change disaster was playing out in Libya, a similar colour revolution, which again saw the arming and support of Salafi groups, would also be launched against the Syrian Arab Republic, which with a similar history to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya of also refusing to kowtow to the demands of Washington and its allies, had drawn the ire of the regime-change lobby following Assad’s 2009 refusal to allow US-ally Qatar to build a pipeline through his country, one which would have undermined his key relationship with Russia. In stark contrast to the fate which befell Libya however, Damascus has successfully been able to withstand the terrorist onslaught over the past decade, with an Iranian intervention at the request of the Syrian government in 2013 playing a key role in the defence of the Arab Republic, and a further Russian intervention in 2015, again at the request of Damascus, perhaps playing the most decisive factor in the conflict so far.

True to form however, Washington’s hawks would step up their propaganda efforts in a bid to counter this successful countering of their regime change attempts, in 2017 and 2018, two separate false-flag chemical attacks were launched in the terrorist-held town of Khan Shaykhun and the city of Douma, the blame being attributed to the Syrian government in both situations, and both incidents resulting in the US launching cruise missile and air strikes against Syrian government targets, just stopping short of a Libya-style no-fly zone which could have easily triggered a wider conflict between NATO and Russia. This is where similarities to the current situation involving Ukraine come into play, with Kiev having come under the control of the pro-Western leaderships of Petro Poroshenko and Volodymyr Zelensky since the 2014 Euromaidan colour revolution was launched against the Eastern European country in response to then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s 2013 decision to suspend an EU trade deal in favour of pursuing closer ties with neighbouring Russia. With the noticeable anti-Russian sentiment of the new Western-friendly government becoming dangerously high, the mainly ethnic Russian Donbass region in eastern Ukraine broke away to form the independent Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in Apr 2014, following Crimea’s successful reunification with Russia the previous month – and sparking a now seven-year long conflict against both Republics by Kiev, which now, perhaps with a Syria-style false-flag attack in the region intended to implicate Moscow, threatens to expand into a wider conflict between Ukraine and Russia, one that could have grave consequences for the entire continent of Europe and indeed, the world.

Chinese Large WZ-7 Soar Dragon HALE Drone Enters Into Service
South Front, Nov 24 2021

China’s largest High-Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) drone, the WZ-7 Soar Dragon was deployed for the first time by the Chinese armed forces to conduct live combat training. The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is considered to be one of the largest ones around the globe. During a recent exercise involving multi-type aircraft, by giving full play to its advantages of high-altitude and long-endurance capability, the WZ-7 HALE drone quickly captured target traces based on battlefield situation and uploaded the acquired information to the command post, thus providing strong support for the airborne fighter groups to carry out penetration and assault operations. The WZ-7 features a tandem/diamond-wing design, a single jet engine, AI-enabled networking and sensor fusion, highly encrypted jamming resistant data links to share battlefield information with fighting forces and ISR links with Chinese satellites. Experts believe that assets like the WZ-7 and the J-16D – a new type of electronic warfare aircraft, will be used in tandem, where surveillance information gathered by the WZ-7, will be shared with the J-16D. The J-16D, which has large electronic warfare (EW) pods on both its wingtips, would accompany other aircraft in their missions and provide EW support like jamming, deception, and even signals intelligence (SIGINT) or intelligence-gathering by interception of signals. The WZ-7 will be used by the Chinese armed forces to conduct reconnaissance missions but according to Chinese military sources, it could be equipped with sensors suitable for designating naval vessels for targeting by anti-ship ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. The drone can provide data for ballistic missile launcher units such as the DF-21D. The WZ-7 is powered by a Guizhou WP-13 turbojet engine mounted at the rear of the drone while the air intake for the engine is mounted on the upper part of the fuselage. The drone will be able to reach a cruise speed of 750 km/h with a maximum range of 7,000 km. It has a length of 14.33 m, a wingspan of 24.86 m, and a height of 5.41m. The WZ-7 has a flight endurance of 10 hours and a payload capacity of 650 kg. The drone was showcased at the Zhuhai Airshow in Sep 2021. Another aircraft showcased was the WZ-8 supersonic drone. Little official information exists about the WZ-8, which was first shown at a military parade in Beijing in 2019. The WZ-8 is powered by a pair of rocket engines, and is described as being able to operate at “near-space” altitudes. It is used to conduct reconnaissance of strategic, high-value targets, to aid in providing pre-strike targeting information for long-range missile attacks, or carrying out post-strike assessments. Both of these show that China is steadily improving its capability in every possible direction of warfare, be it ground, air, naval and cyber, manned or unmanned.

Turkey’s Lira Plunge Leads To Rare Anti-Government Protests
South Front, Nov 24 2021

Turkey is evidently slipping into a crisis, as the lira hit record lows on Nov 24. The currency dawned on exactly 13 lira against the US dollar, after Erdogan defended recent sharp rate cuts. Turkish currency crashed by eight percent on Nov 23 alone. Lower rates will help spur economic growth and create jobs, Erdogan said, as people took to the streets to protest the dire situation. Hundreds of people took to the streets in Turkey, calling on Erdogan’s government to resign. Videos on social media showed police forces intervening and blocking the path of protesters gathered in Istanbul and the capital Ankara. Erdogan has applied pressure on the central bank to pivot to an aggressive easing cycle that aims, he says, to boost exports, investment and jobs. This happens against a backdrop of inflation soaring to near 20% and the currency depreciation accelerating, eating deeply into Turks’ earnings. Many economists called the rate cuts reckless while opposition politicians appealed for immediate elections. After a meeting between Erdogan and central bank Governor Şahap Kavcıoğlu, the bank issued a statement saying the selloff was “unrealistic and completely detached” from economic fundamentals. It doesn’t help the situation that Erdogan has replaced three central bank governors in the past two years, undermining investor confidence. The current protests and calls for resignation could have potentially been avoided if Ankara hadn’t missed its window to focus people’s attention on a military operation in northeastern Syria. Forces were deployed, positions were reinforced, attempts to escalate the situation were carried out. It all led to nothing, as both the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies, and primarily Russia carried out the necessary steps to largely deter any large-scale hostilities. As a result, Turkey’s population is now focused on what is happening internally, and it is expected to blindly follow Erdogan’s plans that seem to make no sense, as a massive share of people’s savings are being eaten through. It is expected that protests will continue in the following days, and it is likely that clashes with police will increase in severity as well as in frequency. Few were detained in the first two days, but protests were quite small-scale. The lira continues to plunge, and promises to lead to an even the harsher crisis. The signals for the catastrophe were detectable for months, but little was done to avoid the crash.

New Wave Of Saudi-Led Coalition Airstrikes Hits Houthi Missile & Drone Workshops In Sanaa
South Front, Nov 24 2021

Late on Nov 24, Saudi warplanes carried out a series of airstrikes on the so-called Presidential Camps to the south of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, which is held by the Houthis (Ansar Allah). In a statement, the coalition said that the airstrikes targeted missile and drone workshops as well as ammunition depots of the Houthis. The coalition warned in the statement:

Those involved in hostilities and terrorist leaders are legitimate military targets.

Yemeni sources confirmed that at least three airstrikes had hit the southern outskirts of Sanaa. However, no casualties were reported. In the early morning hours, several airstrikes hit a construction site near a hospital in the western part of Sanaa. The Saudis claimed that the site was a “secret drone factory” of the Houthis. Nevertheless, two civilians were killed and two others were wounded in the airstrikes. Meanwhile, 15 Saudi airstrikes hit the central Yemeni province of Ma’rib, where the Houthis have been advancing for the last nine months. According to the Saudi claims, 95 Houthi fighters were killed and 11 vehicles of the group were destroyed. The Houthis will likely respond to the Saudi-led coalition airstrikes very soon. The coalition’s attempts to deter the group have been a failure.

Saudi-led Coalition Strikes ‘Secret Houthi Drone Factory’ In Sanaa, Kills Two Civilians
South Front, Nov 24 2021

Early on Nov 24, the Saudi-led coalition announced that its warplanes had attacked a number of targets of the Houthis (Ansar Allah) in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa. In a statement shared by the Saudi Press Agency, the coalition said that the targets included a “secret drone factory” located in a building under construction of the Yemeni group. The statement reads:

We have taken precautionary measures to protect civilians and civilian objects from collateral damage.

From its side, the Yemeni al-Masirah TV said that the uncompleted building struck by the Saudi-led coalition was a part of al-Yatim Hospital, which is located in the western part of Sanaa city. According to the pro-Houthis channel, two civilians were killed and two others were wounded as a result of the coalition’s airstrikes. Last week, the Houthis carried out several drone attacks on Saudi Arabia. The largest attack, which took place on Nov 20, saw 14 suicide drones targeting positions in the Kingdom’s western, central and southern regions. The Houthis will likely response to the Saudi-led coalition’s deadly airstrikes on Sanaa in the upcoming few days. The group has already warned Saudi Arabia of “serious consequences” for its intense airstrikes on Yemen.

Greater Idlib: Syrian Army Strikes Kill Three Militants Of HTS, TIP
South Front, Nov 24 2021

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continues to target militants violating the ceasefire in the northwestern region of Greater Idlib. On Nov 24 morning, the army fired more than 40 rockets and artillery rounds at militants’ positions around the towns of Kafr Taal and Tadil in the western Aleppo countryside. The intense strikes claimed the life of a fighter of al-Qaeda-affiliated Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The terrorist group is the de-facto ruler of Greater Idlib. In the afternoon, the army targeted a position of the al-Qaeda-linked Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in the town of Ain La Rose in the southern countryside of Idlib with Russian-made 2K25 Krasnopol laser-guided artillery rounds. According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, two militants of the TIP were killed in the pinpoint strike. The ceasefire in Greater Idlib, which was brokered by Russia and Turkey last year, is being violated on a daily basis by the militants. With Turkish forces in Greater Idlib doing nothing to stop these violations, the SAA and its allies are taking matters into their own hands. The situation in the region will not likely stabilize until terrorist groups like HTS and the TIP are neutralized.

Rocket Attack Hit Large US Airfield In Northeastern Syria
South Front, Nov 24 2021

On Nov 23, a rocket attack targeted a large airfield of the US-led coalition located near the town of Khrab al-Jeer in the northeastern countryside of Syria’s al-Hasakah, according to SANA, which said that five rockets struck the military airfield. The attack didn’t result in any casualties. US-led coalition fighter jets and helicopters were spotted flying over the airfield and nearby areas after the attack. The US-led coalition first established Khrab al-Jeer airfield in 2016. Between 2019 and 2020, the airfield was drastically expanded. The airfield has seven helipads and a 1,350m runway that is prepared to allow C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to take off and land with a fairly heavy load. Usually, two UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters and two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters are deployed at the airfield. The US-led coalition and its main proxy in northeastern Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces, have not commented on the alleged attack, so far. A series of attacks targeted US military bases in Syria this year. The most recent attack hit al-Tanf garrison in the southeastern part of the country. Iran and its affiliates in Iraq and Syria were officially and unofficially blamed for many of these attacks.

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