Thursday, June 8, 2017

NATO On Collision Course With Russia And Iran In Syria, One Missile Takes Out ISIS Command On Golan Edge

It’s been noted that NATO has officially joined the so-called anti-ISIS coalition, vowing to fight the terror group with resolve in both Iraq and Syria. This move has immediately been labeled by a number of Western media sources as symbolic. 

Indeed, the move is somewhat redundant, as all 28 NATO allies are already members of the anti-Daesh coalition. Nevertheless, we are being told that NATO’s AWACS planes are going to provide air control support to all of anti-ISIS operations, except for bombing missions. However, as it’s been announced in Brussels, the North Atlantic Treaty warplanes are not going to directly engage the enemy in the foreseeable future, therefore one can describe this decision as a purely diplomatic move. 

However, it must pointed out that al-Qaeda under its various disguises, Ahar al-Sham and even ISIS are mostly done. It’s been reported that the latter especially is no longer a capable military force but is reverting to guerilla levels of operation. Its final defeat will take a long time but it must and will be achieved by local forces.

Regardless of this fact, Washington pressed on NATO members to force them into allowing NATO to join its “fight against ISIS”. 

What this means is that now those states have brought large scale command and control capabilities as well as additional resources under Washington’s control in the Middle East. 

No wonder analysts have raised the alarm, noting that this addition could lead to a confrontation with Russia in Syria, as the organization has historically shown great hostility toward Moscow.

As it’s been noted by MintPressNews, as a formal part of the anti-ISIS coalition, NATO – as France and Germany once feared – will become more than capable of waging a covert war against the Syrian government and Russians within Syria, all in the name of “fighting terrorism.” 

As former British Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen warned last year, if NATO becomes “embroiled as an alliance in fighting on the ground in Syria, there is a real danger of a military spillover” into a much larger war, sure to involve Russia. Now that NATO has formally announced its involvement, a wider war seems much more likely – a war that NATO is all too eager to fight.

There’s a long list of facts all pointing to the high probability of such a scenario. NATO’s troop movements in recent years make this clear, as they reveal a tendency on the part of the Western-dominated military organization to pounce on any excuse for further militarizing the border between Europe and Russia.

The prominent alternative source Moon of Alabama urges us to make no mistake in our judgment, as the fight against ISIS is not the real purpose of the move. It would note that the US wants NATO support to invade Syria from the north in Idleb as well as from the south near Deraa and from the south-east starting at the al-Tanf border station to Iraq. Syria and its allies will now be fought under the disguise of “fighting ISIS” which factually can no longer be the purpose.

Thus, NATO together with Wahhabi Gulf forces, will now be engaged in an expanded war not only against the Syria government but especially against its Russian and Iranian allies. Trump’s endorsement of anti-Iranian rhetoric on his visit in Saudi Arabia served the same exact purpose.

Syria’s Cauldron: One Step Away from Major Showdown

It should be noted that the United States has bombed Syrian government-allied forces three times in just eight months. Does the U.S. have the right to tell Syria where its forces can go in its own country and strike them at will? Can it be done without benefitting IS terrorists? Still, that’s what the American military does while US officials condemn other actors involved in Syria’s conflict.

Meanwhile, US Special Forces have set up a forward base at Al-Zukf in the Syrian Desert, 70km northwest of the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian border triangle and the Al Tanf crossing, which is controlled by US, Western allied and Jordanian special forces, together with the Revolutionary Commando - a US-trained Syrian rebel unit. The mission is to keep the SAA and Hezbollah units away from the Al-Tanf crossing and prepare a springboard to attack Abu Kamal, located at a distance of 200km northwest of Al-Tanf. The overriding goal is to prevent Syrian and pro-Syrian forces from gaining control of the Syrian-Iraqi border, leaving Syria with no direct land route to connect it with Iran through Iraq.

US officials have spoken so often about the need to do away with the Islamic State but they have failed to convert the words into deeds. Freeing Raqqa and Mosul while providing the opportunity for the IS to capture Deir-ez-Zor and seize new territory is like robbing Peter to pay Paul.
While the world’s attention is focused on the Arab rift with Qatar isolated by a number of Saudi-led states, the situation in Syria is nearing conflict to nullify the achievements of the Astana and Geneva peace efforts. The ingathering of major forces in this part of Syria is ominous. It augurs the approach of a major showdown for control of southeastern Syria and its strategic multiple border assets. The situation calls for urgent contacts between US and Russian officials to dissipate tensions and make arrangements to prevent the worst. 

A single mystery missile, which could have been fired from the ground or the air early Wednesday morning, June 7, wiped out the entire top Islamic State command on the Syrian Golan

All 16 officers of the 2,000-strong Khaled Ibn al Waleed army, the ISIS operations arm on the Syrian Golan, were present in the targeted building in the town of al-Shagara, located in the triangle where the Israeli, Syrian and Jordanian borders meet opposite the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.

The unidentified missile blew up in the middle of a hall where the top command echelon were gathered to break their daily fast during the month of Ramadan and draw up plans. None of them survived.

Among them were the group’s chief, Gen. Abu Mohammed al-Makdessi; commander of operations, Gen. Abu Udai al-Homsi; and the group’s explosives expert who doubled as its religious leader, Abu Ali Shabat.

On Tuesday, June 6, the day before the mysterious missile decapitated the Islamic State’s Golan force, US warplanes acted on another front to bomb a convoy of Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah forces that were traveling eastward from the southern town of Derra in the direction of the Al-Tanf border crossing.

 Al Tanf, where US and Jordanian special forces units have established a garrison, is located in the triangle where the Syrian, Jordanian and Iraqi borders converge. The US planes destroyed several tanks, troop carriers, artillery pieces and antiaircraft systems, causing also fatalities and injuries, and so halted the convoy’s advance on the strategic crossing.

US commanders are also under pressure on another score: the Iranians and Syrians have sent secret messages to Moscow complaining bitterly about the US air strike. They both made it clear that they command sufficient air and artillery fire power to overwhelm and wipe the ground with the American force in Syria.  Both Damascus and Tehran appear to be spoiling for a major showdown between their armies, using Hizballah and other Shiite proxies, and the US-led contingent.

In what has quickly become a trend, American bombers yet again struckpro-Assad militia forces stationed in Southern Syria on Thursday, this time hitting two armed pickup trucks, and later downing at least one unmanned aerial vehicle.

“U.S. conducted strikes against two technical vehicles that we were assessed to be posing a threat to Coalition forces at At-Tanf garrison,” tweeted Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve.

“Today was the third set of kinetic strikes the U.S. conducted in response to threats posed to Coalition forces operating out of At Tanf,” Dillon said in another tweet, referring to prior strikes carried out on May 18 and June 6. “The Coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime or pro-regime forces. However, we remain ready to defend ourselves against any threat.”

The U.S. military has warned Syrian fighters to stay away from its garrison, but the Syrian government does not recognize the deconfliction zones established by the U.S., which currently occupies Syria illegally, against the will of the country’s sovereign government. American officials previously said Russia approved the zone near al-Tanf, however after three separate instances of American hostility, Moscow’s attitude is souring.

Russia said on Wednesday that “unilaterally declared” ceasefire zones are now seen as “illegitimate.”

While Col. Dillon lamented the fact that the incidents take “focus away from fighting ISIS,” it appears that only the Americans are making that happen. The pro-Assad militias stationed near the U.S. garrison in al-Tanf are currently trying to link up with allied militia fighters in Iraq in order to secure a vital supply route. If secured, the route would give a boost to Assad in his fight against ISIS, but the U.S. appears ready to stop that from happening.

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