SYRIA – MATERIAL EVIDENCE

SYRIA_CIVILWAR

Syria

The civil war in Syria is a conflict that the country cannot solve since 2011. A conflict that nearly caused a military intervention of the world community. Who “benefits” from this war? What is happening in Syria now? The events in Syria are another episode of the Arab Spring; but here it has turned the cities into ruins with a horrific number of victims and divided the society different, opposing groups. By visiting the exhibition, where each photo is a frozen reality of human misery, we can learn to understand and even experience the horror of the civil war in Syria.

MILITARY TIMES – Russia has big ambitions, growing capabilities

MilitaryTimes2

Russia has big ambitions,
growing capabilities
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Early on the morning of Sept. 30, a Russian three-star general approached the American embassy in Baghdad, walked past a wall of well-armed Marines, to deliver face-to-face a diplomatic demarche to the United States. His statement was blunt: The Russia military would begin air strikes in neighboring Syria within the hour — and the American military should clear the area immediately.

It was a bout of brinksmanship between two nuclear-armed giants that the world has not seen in decades, and it has revived Cold War levels of suspicion, antagonism and gamesmanship.

With the launch of airstrikes in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin instigated a proxy war with the U.S., putting those nation’s powerful militaries in support of opposing sides of the multipolar conflict. And it’s a huge gamble for Moscow, experts say. “This is really quite difficult for them. It’s logistically complex. The Russians don’t have much in the way of long-range power projection capability,” said Mark Galeotti, a Russian security expert at New York University.

Moscow’s military campaign in Syria is relying on supply lines that require air corridors through both Iranian and Iraqi air space. The only alternatives are naval supply lines running from Crimea, requiring a passage of up to 10 days round-trip. How long that can be sustained is unclear.

That and other questions about Russian military capabilities and objectives are taking center stage as Putin shows a relentless willingness to use military force in a heavy-handed foreign policy aimed at restoring his nation’s stature as a world power. In that quest, he has raised the specter of resurgent Russian military might — from Ukraine to the Baltics, from Syria to the broader Middle East.

Russia’s increasingly aggressive posture has sparked a sweeping review among U.S. defense strategists of America’s military policies and contingency plans in the event of a conflict with the former Soviet state. Indeed, the Pentagon’s senior leaders are asking questions that have been set aside for more than 20 years:

How much are the Russians truly capable of?
Where precisely might a conflict with Russia occur?
What would a war with Russia look like today?

Make no mistake: Experts agree that the U.S. military’s globe-spanning force would clobber the Russian military in any toe-to-toe conventional fight. But modern wars are not toe-to-toe conventional fights; geography, politics and terrain inevitably give one side an advantage.

Today, the U.S. spends nearly 10 times more than Russia on national defense. The U.S. operates 10 aircraft carriers; Russia has just one. And the U.S. military maintains a broad technological edge and a vastly superior ability to project power around the world.

Russia remains weak, according to many traditional criteria. But it is now developing some key technologies, new fighting tactics and a brazen geopolitical strategy that is aggressively undermining America’s 25-year claim to being the only truly global superpower. The result: Russia is unexpectedly re-emerging as America’s chief military rival.

As U.S. officials watch that unfold, they are “clearly motivated by concerns that at least locally, Russia has the potential to generate superior forces,” said David Ochmanek, a former Pentagon official who is now a defense analyst at the RAND Corp. And looming over the entire U.S.-Russian relationship are their nuclear arsenals. Russia has preserved, even modernized, its own “triad” with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, a large fleet of long-range strike aircraft and increasingly sophisticated nuclear-armed submarines.

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“The Russian defense industry is being rebuilt from ruins,” said Vadim Kozyulin, a military expert at the Moscow-based PIR Center, a think tank. “The military balance can only be ensured by Russia’s nuclear might, which isn’t as expensive to maintain as many people think.”

But while Russia’s conventional forces are less impressive than its nuclear forces, there are specific conventional areas where the Russians excel — among them aircraft, air defenses, submarines, and electronic warfare.

The Soviet-era weapons design bureaus remain prominent internationally. Russia’s aerospace industry, for example, has benefited greatly from international exports to non-Western nations, which go to Russia to buy effective fighter jets that are cheaper than their Western variants. China today spends more on defense annually than Russia, but still imports platforms and advanced weaponry from Russia.

Attempting a side-by-side comparisons of the U.S. and Russian militaries is a bit like comparing apples to oranges, many experts say; the Russians have distinctly different strategic goals, and their military structure reflects that. Russia views itself as a land-based power, exerting influence in a sphere expanding outward from its Eurasian heartland into Eastern Europe, Central Asia and possibly the Middle East and Pacific rim. It is well suited for relying on a particular set of capabilities known as “anti-access and area denial.”

“The United States and Russia are going for different things,” Galeotti said. “What the Russians are looking for is not to take on and compete on equal terms with us. It’s denial.” For example, he said, “one can look at the U.S. Navy as massively superior to the Russian navy. Most of them are legacy Soviet ships. But in a way, that doesn’t matter, because Russia does not plan to send its forces all across the world’s oceans.”

That’s reflected in the fact that Russia maintains a lone aircraft carrier while the U.S. Navy’s 10-carrier fleet operates on a continuing global deployment cycle. Instead of carriers designed for offensive power projection at sea, the Russians are investing in an expanding fleet of submarines that can supplement their nuclear force and, conventionally, threaten an enemy surface fleet in nearby waters such as the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea or the Mediterranean Sea.

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Its airspace also is heavily fortified. The quality of Russia’s stealth aircraft is far weaker than those of the U.S., but Russia has cutting-edge anti-stealth systems, and also has invested heavily in robust surface-to-air missile systems and arrayed its forces domestically to protect its border regions. “The static airpower picture would favor the Russians because they have a lot of capability in terms of air defense and a variety of tactical and cruise and ballistic missiles,” said Paul Schwartz, a Russian military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Russia’s electronic warfare capability is also daunting to Pentagon military planners; left unclear is the extent to which Russia could jam the radars and signals intelligence that forms the foundation of the U.S.’s advanced air power. Any attempt by the U.S. and its allies to infiltrate Russian air space “would not necessarily be easy,” Schwartz said. “It would be a contested environment. But over time I think we would be able to degrade it. The problem is, with a nuclear power, you try to avoid a full-scale fighting.”

Meanwhile, the Russian army, still predominantly a conscripted force, is being transitioned to an American-style professional force. In effect, Russia has two armies: About two thirds of the roughly 800,000-man force remains filled with unmotivated and poorly trained draftees, but about one third is not — and those are the units outfitted with top-notch gear, including the Armata T-14 Main Battle Tanks.

In sum, the Russian military is not the equal of the U.S. military. But the gap has narrowed in recent years.

Forward Operating Base Syria

Russia’s swift creation of a forward operating base in Syria has stunned many U.S. officials. In just a few weeks, its military erected a potentially permanent base at Latakia, on Syria’s Mediterranean coast. They’ve deployed dozens of combat aircraft, fortified the installation with tanks and assembled housing for hundreds of troops.

The Russians recently announced plans for a naval exercise in the eastern Mediterranean this fall, but did not specify exactly when ships would deploy to the region. The exercise will feature the Black Sea Fleet’s flagship, the guided missile cruiser Moskva, as well as several smaller escort vessels and large amphibious assault and landing ships, Russia’s TASS news agency reported. Some military officials question whether the exercise is a cover for shipping more troops and gear to the Syrian coast.
Smoke rises over Talbiseh, a city in western Syria’s

Smoke rises over Talbiseh, a city in western Syria’s Homs province, on Sept. 30, marking Russian first airstrikes in the region.
(Photo: Homs Media Centre via AP)

The new forward operating base will give Russia the capability to fly combat air sorties, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance missions and drones across the Middle East. That could include Iraq, the leadership of which has invited the Russians to assist in the fight against the Islamic State in that country.

The base will help secure Russia’s longtime naval support facility at the Syrian port of Tarus, a key to the Russian military’s ability to maintain and project power into the Mediterranean. Russia reportedly is expanding its footprint at the Tarus facility.

More broadly, Moscow is signaling a long-term interest in extending its umbrella of anti-access area denial capabilities into the Middle East. The Russians reportedly are shipping some of their most advanced surface-to-air missile systems into Latakia, raising concerns inside the Pentagon because that move runs counter to Russia’s claims of limiting the focus of its military activities to Syrian rebel groups like the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Russia has deployed a number of Su-30 fighters to Syria,

Russia has deployed a number of Su-30 fighters to Syria, aircraft that are capable of striking ground targets as well as those in the air.
(Photo: Pavel Golovkin/AP)

“We see some very sophisticated air defenses going into those airfields, we see some very sophisticated air-to-air aircraft going into these airfields,” Gen. Phillip Breedlove, chief of the U.S. European Command and also the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said Sept. 28. “I have not seen ISIL flying any airplanes that require SA-15s or SA-22s [Russian missiles]. I have not seen ISIL flying any airplanes that require sophisticated air-to-air capabilities. These very sophisticated air defense capabilities are not about ISIL … they’re about something else.”

In effect, the Russians could challenge the air superiority maintained — even taken for granted — by the U.S. over large swaths the Middle East for more than 20 years. A crucial factor in this equation is Russia’s alliance with Iran, another key Syrian ally. Russia depends on Iranian airspace for its flight corridors into Syria, and reportedly is prepared to support Iranian ground troops aligned with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Experts inside Russia believe the incursion into Syria, along with Putin’s aggressive speech at the United Nations on Sept. 28, signal his long-term interest in becoming a key player in the region.

“It became clear that Russia is going to exercise a more ambitious policy in the Middle East. The Russian President made it clear that the western model of democracy and its way of dealing with conflicts in the region is not working,” said Yury Barmin, a Moscow-based Russian expert on Mideast politics and Russian foreign policy. However, Barmin said, “it is doubtful that Russia has the capacity to emerge as a leading power in [the Middle East] in the near future because its presence in the region is limited if you compare it to that of the United States.”

Yet some see Putin’s maneuvers in Syria as some broader geopolitical gambit that aims to secure a deal on Ukraine. Russia currently occupies parts of Ukraine, but the U.S. still considers Moscow’s March 2014 invasion illegal and its control there illegitimate. “It’s much more about the U.S. than it is about Syria and Assad,” Galeotti said. “Let’s be honest, if Washington indicated that some deal could be struck where they tacitly accept the Russians’ position in Crimea and parts of Donbas, they are not going to fight a war for Assad.”

In Ukraine, a new brand of ‘hybrid warfare’

The conflict in Ukraine and the American training mission there is giving the Pentagon fresh insight on an enemy they might fight elsewhere in the not-too-distant future. But critics say America’s timid response to Russian aggression — both in Crimea and the the Donetsk and Luhansk regions — has done little to deter Moscow. In Ukraine Russia has revealed a new brand of “hybrid warfare,” one that mixes non-state proxy fighters, heavy armor and artillery, drones, electronic warfare and aggressive information operations to achieve battlefield victories.
Ukrainian servicemen patrol near the chemical plant

Ukrainian servicemen patrol near the chemical plant in Avdeevka, a town just north of the city of Donetsk, on June 20. Ukrainian troops face threats from insurgents and conventionally trained forces.
(Photo: Aleskey Chernyshev/AFP)

“It is good for us to be aware how they fight,” said Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, in an interview with Military Times on Sept. 10. “We have not fought wars the way they do in kind of an urban, mixed urban and nonurban setting with UAVs, with electronic jamming.”

Farkas is stepping down from her post at the end of October, after five years at the Defense Department. It’s unclear who will take her place as the Pentagon’s key policy maker for Russia-related issues.

For the small cadre of U.S. military professionals who’ve been working alongside Ukrainian government forces, the fight against Russian-backed rebels is a major change from their recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We’ve got a ton of experience in low-intensity warfare, counterinsurgency warfare, whereas a bulk of the Ukraine experience is facing a 21st-century, near-peer adversary,” said Army Lt. Col. Michael Kloepper, commander of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, which recently began its third rotation into Ukraine to train that nation’s military forces.

The Army deployments are part of a broader U.S. military effort to reassure NATO allies rattled by Russia’s actions. Yet the Obama administration has been reluctant to provide more robust support, determined, it seems, to avoid the potential for a proxy war with the Russians.
Since its annexation of Crimea in early 2014, Russia

Since its annexation of Crimea in early 2014, Russia has steadily expanded its military presence in the region. In response, the U.S. and its NATO allies are working to build, train and equip Ukrainian forces.
(Photo: John Bretschneider/Staff)

Russian has lined thousands of troops and large tank and artillery units along its Ukrainian border. Those Russian troops routinely shell the border towns and make incursions into Ukraine to fight alongside the rebels in the contested areas. So far, the administration has pledged only “nonlethal aid” for training and gear such as Humvees, small drones and radar.

Washington has placed economic sanctions on Russia, sent U.S. troops to help train Ukrainian forces and has ramped up military exercises across Eastern Europe. But it has not yet provided any offensive weaponry and ammunition, and it has not threatened military action against Russia. Since March 2014, when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in southern Ukraine, the U.S. has contributed $244 million in nonlethal security assistance and training. For comparison, that amount would pay for about three weeks of operations in Iraq and Syria.

Ukrainian officials in Kiev have made repeated pleas for more. “We need anti-tank Javelin systems, intelligence and combat drones, … fighter jets, helicopters, electronic and signal intelligence systems, radars and sound intelligence systems” to counter Russian military equipment used by Moscow-backed separatists on the eastern front, said Colonel General Victor Muzhenko, the Ukrainian military’s top officer. They’ve also asked for anti-aircraft guns and more equipment to neutralize enemy snipers, he told Military Times.
Ukrainian troops man an anti-aircraft weapon at a checkpoint

Ukrainian troops man an anti-aircraft weapon at a checkpoint outside the town of Amvrosiivka, close to the Russian border. Kiev says it’s desperate for more weaponry, but so far Washington has shown willingness to provide only nonlethal equipment.
(Photo: Vadim Ghirda/AP)

There are between 30,000 and 35,000 Russian-backed fighters in Eastern Ukraine, about 9,000 of whom are coming solely from the Russian front, Muzhenko estimates. They’re using sophisticated electronic warfare systems to jam the Ukrainians’ communications, radar, GPS and early warning-detection equipment, said Ihor Dolhov, Ukraine’s deputy defense minister for European integration.

It’s a unique battlespace, and the Americans who have provided training to Ukrainian forces are eager to collect intelligence about the Russians’ new mode of combat. “It has been interesting to hear what they have learned,” Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, told Defense News, a sister publication of Military Times. “No Americans have been under Russian artillery or rocket fire or been on the receiving end of significant Russian electronic warfare, the jamming and collecting, for example, not at tactical levels.”

The future of the Ukraine conflict is unclear. In late September, all sides agreed to withdraw tanks and heavy artillery from Ukraine’s eastern front. A ceasefire in eastern Ukraine also appears to be holding, although each side remains wary, and local parliamentary elections set to take place Oct. 25 may be upended by pro-Russian separatists, who aim to hold their own elections.

For now, Obama shows no signs of conceding to Russian control the regions Ukraine has controlled for decades. “We cannot stand by when the sovereignty and territorial integrity of a nation is flagrantly violated,” Obama told the U.N. General Assembly in a major speech on Sept. 28. “That’s the basis of the sanctions that the United States and our partners imposed on Russia. It’s not a desire to return to the Cold War.”

Predicting the next flashpoint

For more than a year, the U.S. and its European allies have been reassessing the military balance along NATO’s eastern border, which is lined with former Soviet satellite states. The result has been Operation Atlantic Resolve, an expanded rotational presence of U.S troops in NATO’s easternmost countries like Poland, the Baltics, Romania and Bulgaria.

Putin and his military have menaced the Baltic countries, who are among the newest and weakest NATO partners. Russia has repeatedly sent military aircraft into Baltic airspace, patrolled submarines in the Baltic Sea and allegedly mounted cyber-attacks. And Russian officials have voiced support for Russian-speaking minorities, raising the specter of future agitation.
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Muzzy, an observer-controller

Sgt. 1st Class Jason Muzzy, an observer-controller from Company A, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, works with an Estonian soldier during a training exercise in Germany. Some see NATO’s newest members, like Estonia, as particularly vulnerable to Russia aggression.
(Photo: Sgt. Christina Dion/Army)

The aggression in the Baltics, especially Estonia, which has a large Russian-speaking minority, has been more ambiguous than Moscow’s overt operations in Ukraine and Syria. The argument goes that Putin would employ a type of hybrid warfare perfected in Ukraine to rally ethnic Russian populations in the Baltic states to rise up in support with special operations forces — the so-called “little green men.”

That has sparked concern in the West that Putin’s ultimate goal is to break NATO with force, if intimidation fails. NATO is struggling to figure out how to respond, with member nations holding differing perspectives on when Russian behavior crosses a red line. It’s about “working out at what point a military response is the correct response,” said Nick de Larrinaga, a London-based analyst for IHS Jane’s Defense and Security Group. “Hybrid warfare casts doubts about when there should be a military response, or whether this is a civilian issue that should be taken care of by local law enforcement,” he said.
Russia claims to have some 750 tanks in its western

Russia claims to have some 750 tanks in its western military region, though its unclear how much of that equipment is legitimately combat-ready.
(Photo: Andrey Kronberg/AFP/Getty Images)

Another option for Russia, of course, is to shift to a conventional fight. A review of the military balance in the immediate Baltic theater would seem to give Russia an initial advantage in an aerial campaign against NATO, if Moscow’s political objective was to push NATO out of the Baltics.

According to a recent report by international think tank Chatham House, Russia’s military strength in its Western Military District stands at 65,000 ground troops, 850 pieces of artillery, 750 tanks, and 320 combat aircraft. Other estimates are much higher, but in general there is a high degree of uncertainty about how much of those forces exist only on paper, and how many are truly prepared for combat.

Another aspect of the Russian military that gets overhyped is its Baltic Fleet, the smallest of Russia’s main fleets and truly a shadow of its former self. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the coastal infrastructure that stretched from Kalingrad to Leningrad was lost to the newly independent Baltic states.

Today, the fleet is split between Kalingrad and St. Petersburg, making it difficult to support a larger fleet. The Baltic Fleet’s assets today include only two small Kilo-class diesel powered submarines, one of which is used mostly for training, along with a handful of Sovremenny-class destroyers, a frigate, four corvettes, and a smattering of support ships.

For a conventional operation, Russia also could bring assets from its Northern Fleet, which frequently patrols the North Atlantic, into the Baltic theater to support a larger action.

That threat could become a powerful one if Russia’s true goal in the Baltics is to force NATO into showing that it won’t honor Article V, the key element of the alliance treaty that holds an attack on one member nation will be met with a swift and unified response from all member nations.

Defense News’ Russia correspondent, Matthew Bodner, contributed to this report from Moscow.

© 2015 http://www.militarytimes.com. All rights reserved.

Unruly Hearts with WordPress thanks Military Times for this excellent article.

“Terrorist International” Takes Shape … Against Russia

Theme: US NATO War Agenda

russian-air-force-400x266On October 1, Turkey and six other countries of the US-led coalition published a joint declaration expressing concern over Russia Air Force strikes against the militants in Syria. The signatories include the United States of America (as expected), the monarchies of Persian Gulf (Saudi Arabia and Qatar that were also expected to join), as well as Great Britain, Germany and France.

The statement actually does not say anything extraordinary. Russia stole the initiative from the West. Instead of following the example of «anti-terrorist coalition» and delivering strikes against Syria’s government forces (which together with Kurds conduct combat actions against the militants of so-called Islamic State), Russia bombed the positions of the terrorists. It allowed the legitimate Syrian government to regroup forces, get a break and finally launch a ground offensive to clear the territory from the terrorist plague.

The expression of concern by the United States is logical and natural: Washington has spent great effort to train the «moderate» Syrian opposition (which mysteriously has turned into a source of weapons and manpower for «immoderate» groups). The start of the Russian operation may incur direct financial losses, let alone damage the image of the US.

There is nothing surprising in the fact that the monarchies of Persian Gulf – Saudi Arabia and Qatar – were eager to sign the statement. One may forget what country Osama bin Laden and the majority of terrorists, who seized the aircraft on September 11, 2001, came from. But it’s impossible to reject the fact that the Gulf monarchies (no matter all the real or imaginary contradictions and disagreements dividing them) are the main sponsors of major terrorist groups operating in the Greater Middle East – from Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and, especially, in Pakistan. In case of Saudi Arabia the overthrow of Bashar Assad is just the first step on the way to do away with Iran, its main opponent in the region.

It’s easy to explain why the declaration was initiated by Turkey. Ankara views the Islamic State as the only force able to nip in the bud the aspiration of Kurds, the divided people, for statehood. It makes pale such things of ‘little importance’ like cheap oil exported by militants from Iraq and Syria with Turkey being the main customer.

It’s worth to mention the position of Europe. The fact that London signed the declaration can be explained by the inability of the 51st US state to stop playing the role of American poodle on a leash. It obediently dances to the US tune. The participation of France and Germany seems to be a bit irrational.

So many things have happened in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Berlin and Paris could have realized that the events seemingly not interconnected meet the logic of US strategy aimed at creating an axis of instability. Its only goal is to preserve the unipolar world where West Europe plays the role of a passive satellite, not an independent actor.

The events in Ukraine occurred exactly when a Europe-Russia energy alliance started to loom and the US-led talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership got stalled. Just a coincidence, of course.

All these events let the United States to partially achieve the main goal – it has succeeded in driving a wedge between Europe and Russia, but the talks on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership did not make much progress. The United States had another ace up its sleeve. The civil war in Syria gave rise to the massive migrant flows threatening the very foundation of the European civilization and making European allies meekly ask the big brother overseas for help.

Russia’s resolute actions in Syria leave no chance for these plans. Supposedly, Europeans should breathe a sigh of relief. But it has not happened as yet.

What is the reason? Has the habit to snap to attention become so deeply enrooted? Have the Europeans left any thoughts about having a choice? Some analysts believe that the US National Security Agency has acquired serious compromising material to blackmail European leaders into agreement with Washington.

The hope is still looming that after some time Europe will realize where its real interests lie. The abovementioned declaration of the seven looks more like a creation of a new instrument of Washington. This time it has the form of an international alliance to support terrorists of the so-called Islamic State.

BREAKING: Over 1,000 ISIS and Al Nusra Militants Surrender To Syrian Army In Last 24 Hours

 

 

The development came after President Bashar al-Assad in a televised address in July pardoned all soldiers who have fled the army, saying that his words served as a general decree to relevant officials.

Hundreds of gunmen have been laying down their weapons and turning themselves in to authorities in areas across the country.

This number seems to be on the rise as the army has been making steady gains in the battlefield against the terrorist groups, recapturing an increasing number of regions, including strategic sites, which helped cut off many of the militants’ supply routes and forced them to surrender or run away.

Also in the past 24 hours, the Syrian air raids destroyed concentration centers of the ISIL, al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups in Hama and Idlib.

The Syrian warplanes conducted airstrikes against positions of ISIL and the so-called Jeish al-Fath terrorists in the countryside of Hama and Idlib.

The airstrikes hit positions of the ISIL terrorists in al-Rahjan village, 50 km to the Northeast of Hama City, destroying a number of terrorists’ vehicles with all arms, ammunition and equipment on board.

The airstrikes also hit positions of al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups in Aqrab village in the Southwestern countryside of Hama, killing scores of terrorists.

A number of vehicles belonging to Jeish al-Fath terrorists were also destroyed in airstrikes in Abdin village in the countryside of Ma’aret al-Nu’aman in Idlib countryside.

Meantime, the Syrian fighter jets pounded hideouts of the Takfiri militants in the countryside of Homs.

The Syrian air raids destroyed Takfiri terrorists’ hideouts and vehicles in al-Qaryatain, al-Sa’an, and in the vicinity of al-Sha’er field in Homs countryside.

The Russian air group in Syria is using Kh-29L air-to-surface missiles to conduct airstrikes against the ISIL militants, the Russian military said Sunday.

“A Kh-29L surface-to-air missile is equipped with a semi-active laser guidance system. When the launch is conducted, a pilot illuminates a target with a laser sight. At the same time an aircraft can continue the flight,” Aerospace Forces Spokesman Colonel Igor Klimov said.

Also, the Syrian army conducted military operations against the foreign-backed Takfiri militants in Aleppo province, leaving hundreds of them killed and injured.

Hundreds of terrorists were killed or wounded in Aleppo City and its countryside in the past 24 hours, a military source said.

Elsewhere, at least 28 militant fighters of the ISIL terrorist group were killed during clashes with the Kurdish forces in the Northeastern Syrian province of Hasaka.

“The YPG forces besieged the ISIL militants near Mount Abdulaziz and killed dozens of terrorists and destroyed several vehicles,” a spokesman for the YPG Media Center told ARA News.

Also, gunmen from the Jeish al-Fath coalition of extremist groups are pulling out their forces from Idlib and other towns in Northwestern Syria.

The radical group started moving towards the Turkish border on Saturday after having experienced “the efficiency of the Russian aerospace forces’ strikes,” the As-Safir Arabic-language daily reported.

The coalition is led by al-Nusra terrorist group, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda, which is sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar. The group seized the Idlib province this spring.

The report said field commanders fear at any moment the attack of Syrian forces supported by Russian warplanes on the key town of Jisr al-Shugour, on the Lattakia-Aleppo highway.

The Propaganda War against Syria Led by Avaaz and the White Helmets

October 02, 2015
Region: Middle East & North Africa, Russia and FSU
Theme: Media Disinformation, US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: SYRIA: NATO’S NEXT WAR?

1-52a0ad6527Propaganda is the spreading of information in support of a cause. It’s not so important whether the information is true or false or if the cause is just or not — it’s all propaganda.

The word propaganda is often used in a negative sense, especially for politicians who make false claims to get elected or spread rumours to instigate regime change [my edit]. In fact, any campaign that is used to persuade can be called propaganda.

Russia’s involvement in Syria has caused a flurry of “cold war”, Assad/ISIS co-dependency propaganda, all being produced by the usual suspects and all with the primary objective of invoking a No Fly Zone in Syria and stoking the “Russian Bear threat” fires that have been smouldering for some time.

I am going to attempt to dismantle this propaganda edifice one brick at a time.

Russia Attacks Moderate Rebels in Syria

In a Telegraph article dated 1st October 2015 with the headline British Troops Head to Saudi Arabia to train Syrian rebels it was stated:

The FSA is considered the most moderate of factions fighting Bashar al-Assad’s government, but has been increasingly side-lined on the battlefield by more extremist Islamist factions. It has also been riven by leadership disputes.

American-led attempts to train up moderates to hold ground against Isil are months behind track because of the difficulty of finding groups which were not linked to the extremists.

The term “moderate rebels” has become one of the most significant misnomers of this coming up to five year conflict. The hijacking of any semblance of a legitimate opposition to the Syrian Government by NATO, the US and regional allies including Israel in order to achieve their desired regime change has been well documented.

Who are these elusive “moderate rebels”?

You may well ask. Traditionally it is the FSA that has been marketed as the cuddly, viable alternative to the Assad government which incidentally is the internationally recognised government of Syria, supported by the majority of the Syrian people. However we don’t have to dig too deep to reveal the hard line Islamist, Salafi affiliations of this so-called moderate group of brigands.

Journalist Daniel Greenfield puts it most succinctly: “Few media outlets are willing to say that out loud, but it’s quite true. There is no Free Syrian Army. It’s an umbrella for providing Western aid to a front group run by the Muslim Brotherhood.” He deplores the shaky Pentagon math that Obama and Congress have used in an attempt to downplay the reality that even in 2013 Pentagon sources were reluctantly admitting that extremist groups constituted over 50% of Syrian “opposition” and that these numbers were steadily increasing.

This map clearly shows the weakness of this “moderate rebel” argument as it unequivocally demonstrates the minor FSA presence at the frontline of Syrian opposition. They compose of fragmented mercenary groups largely unable to operate without extremist logistical support.

syria-forces-map

So this rather dispels the “moderate” myth and leads to the conclusion that in reality Russia was targeting areas north of Homs that contained few civilians and is an area controlled by a number of combined Muslim Brotherhood, Jihadist opposition fighters supported by the US alliance. It must also be remembered that the majority of civilians will flee an area infested by such mercenaries and seek refuge in government held areas. This is another fact conveniently omitted from most mainstream media reports. 90% of IDPs are in Government held areas.

It also makes a mockery of Defence Secretary Ashton B Carter’s claims in the New York Times yesterday:

“By supporting Assad and seemingly taking on everybody fighting Assad,” Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Wednesday, Russia is “taking on the whole rest of the country that’s fighting Assad.” Some of those groups, he added, are supported by the United States and need to be part of a political resolution in Syria.

“That’s why the Russian position is doomed to fail,” Mr. Carter said.

Russia is effectively exposing US policy in Syria as naked hegemony and America is not happy. While the US has been supplying TOW missiles and a variety of arms/equipment to extremists and deliberately funding any group that will secure regime change, Russia is actively deploying its military to target the nests of terrorist mercenaries and opportunists waiting eagerly for the political vacuum that would be created by the “removal” of Assad, in order to inflict their extremism upon the Syrian people. They may not be technically called ISIS but they are cut from the same cloth of US/Israeli proxy terrorism and should be eliminated from any sovereign nation. Failure to do so has catastrophic results as seen in Libya and Iraq.

The Propaganda Trail

Now let’s examine the unsavoury marketing aspect of the propaganda campaign being waged by a frustrated and increasingly infuriated US alliance. Of course the usual triad has leapt into action. HRW, Avaaz and the White Helmets. Avaaz has produced one of its most poisonous and misleading petitions to date. The inevitable eyewitness statements claim that Russia targeted civilian areas utterly free of ISIS operatives. These statements are already rendered questionable by the evidence I have submitted above.

When we watch the videos, particularly the longer Liveleak version, it is hard to detect the women and children that are being described. The majority of protagonists appear to be male and of fighting age. There is no evidence of “civilian” life among the deserted buildings, the only movement is of males, some on foot, some on scooters and presumably some taking the time to film events even as the bombs are falling. Not the actions of terrified, innocent civilians.

Live Leak Video of Russian bombing of Homs:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=eb9_1443646193

There is one other video that does show about 2 seconds of a young boy crying and obviously injured. However this video must be questioned as to its authenticity as the claims are that the initial shot of planes overhead is not even of Russian planes. The quality of the video is poor and apart from the footage of the one child, again demonstrates that the majority of people involved are men of fighting age in a deserted built up area to the north of Homs.

In this disgusting display of blatant propaganda calling for the long sought after no fly zone, Emma Ruby-Sachs, deputy director of Avaaz makes the extraordinary statement “Russia says it’s bombing ISIS, but eyewitnesses say their brutal attacks targeted areas way outside of ISIS control. This will only sow instability and radicalisation and should be an urgent wake-up call to the US and its allies to enforce a targeted no-fly zone to save lives, counter ISIS and alleviate the refugee crisis. Syrians civilians need protection now, not further attacks from Russian bombs.”

Speaking to one Damascus resident this morning, I asked for their opinion on this statement. His reply was simple, “I am just relieved that the Russian Air Force is in action”. The hypocrisy of this statement from Ruby-Sachs perfectly mirrors the hypocrisy of Congress, Obama’s Teflon speech at the UNGA, Pentagon’s barefaced obscurantism over the US role in creating exactly this instability and radicalisation in Syria and bringing misery, terror and bloodshed to the people of Syria with the sole aim of securing their interests in the region [and those of their staunchest partner in crimes against Humanity, Israel]

If we wish to speak of civilian casualties perhaps we should turn the spotlight on the pre- existing Coalition bombing campaign. The civilian death rates from these strikes is rarely discussed and often concealed by the Pentagon and US/European associated analysts like the SOHR. Where for example was the Avaaz petition calling for a No Fly Zone when the coalition air strikes resulted in a multitude of non-combatant deaths including children? This report from Airwars reveals the disturbing numbers:

screenshot-305

Syria has also seen a number of troubling mass casualty events attributed to Coalition actions. On the first night of bombing on September 23rd 2014, US aircraft killed as many as 15 civilians in the village of Kafar Daryan. On December 28th at least 58 civilians reportedly died when the Coalition struck a temporary Daesh prison at al Bab (see report). And on April 30th 2015, 64 civilians died in a likely Coalition airstrike at Ber Mahli. In these three incidents alone, 106 non-combatant victims have so far been publicly named – 38 of them children. It remains unclear whether any of these events have been investigated by the Coalition.

Syria’s civilians need a spanner putting in the spokes of this crushing propaganda vehicle that rides roughshod over their genuine needs with devastating consequences. Those needs are simple: stop lying, stop fabricating and stop creating, funding, arming and incubating the terrorist cancer in Syria.

The White Helmet element.

Now we come to perhaps one of the most insidious and damaging elements of the propaganda machine. The White Helmets, created by Svengali of PR giants, Purpose.com. The White Helmets with the debonair, Sandhurst educated James Bond of humanitarianism at its helm, James Le Mesurier, whose CV reads like a NATO regime change itinerary and whose connections delve deep into the Empire’s underworld of media manipulation and strategy cultivation.

The first slick photo campaign was hot off the press almost immediately after the first Russian air strikes in the Homs region:

syria-campaign-russia

Unfortunately for them, perhaps White Helmets are exhausting their supply of heart string tugging images as their twitter campaign almost immediately came under attack by those who are waking up to this cynical propagandization of human misery.

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Quote from Sott.net ~

“The White Helmets in their haste to point the finger of blame at Moscow, managed to tweet about Russia’s air strikes several hours before the Russian Parliament actually authorized the use of the Air Force in Syria.”

This image was also picked up and run with by RT who accurately pinpointed the deep-rooted deceit that lies at the heart of the majority of White Helmet publicity campaigns. The flurry of activity on the White Helmet twitter page must have taken, even them, by surprise. For so long they have enjoyed the fruits of their marketing campaign depicting them as selfless heroes, saviours of humanity, impartial protectors of kittens and Syrians in equal measure. Unarmed, neutral, demi-saints climbing the “Mount Everest of war zones”. Unfortunately so many of their masks have slipped that they can no longer bask in their Purpose reflected glory.

Yesterday like HRW before them they were exposed to be the fabricators and deceivers they really are. Anyone can make a mistake I hear you say, yes sure, one mistake is acceptable, 2 is questionable but a consistent conveyer belt of misleading, perception altering, “nudging” images ceases to be innocent and enters the realm of manipulation on a terrifying scale with horrifying ramifications for the people of Syria who so far, have resisted their country being plunged into the same abyss as Libya or Iraq.

Just one other example of the White Helmet duplicitous image use:

aleppo-white-helmet

Another image was brought to my attention this morning that further shatters the high gloss White Helmet image. Whilst it is well known that far from being neutral, the White Helmets are in fact embedded with Al Nusra [the Syrian arm of Al Qaeda], it is perhaps not so well known that their southern Damascus depot is situated at the heart of ISIS held territory, to the south of the notorious Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp.

This image shows their insignia and emblem clearly on the wall and gates behind the selfie taking ISIS mercenary in the foreground. It is becoming harder and harder for White Helmets to maintain their veneer of impartiality, a fact that is borne out quite effectively by the fact that the majority of Syrians in government held areas have never heard of them, even unbiased civilians in Aleppo have not come across them. Their association is exclusively with the extremist elements of the Syrian opposition. Their purpose is to facilitate calls for a No Fly Zone, cue Avaaz, and destabilize the region in the manner demanded by their masters in the US, UK and Syrian National Council.

Conclusion

We can safely conclude that the US, Israel and their allies are furious that they have been out manoeuvred and outsmarted by Russia and Syria. Their No Fly Zone plans have been consistently thwarted and derailed. Russia has effectively demanded a US coalition No Fly Zone which is the ultimate insult to US hegemony and self-proclaimed world police status. Russia, unlike the US IS targeting ISIS in all its distorted guises and nomenclature. And yes Mr Defence Secretary, Russia is bombing US supported “rebels” in Syria for the very simple reason, the US has funded all extremist factions in Syria since they first started down the blood strewn road of regime change.

If we lived in a just world we would see Avaaz and their ilk clamouring for an end to interventionism and demanding diplomatic solutions to support internal, sovereign nation, peace processes [as in fact Russia has unwaveringly called for in Syria]. However we do not live in a world based upon a universal understanding of justice, we live in a world governed by the powerful and the greedy, devoid of compassion, intent only on their geopolitical prowess and humanity exempt colonialism. For the sake of the Syrian people and all other nations being crushed by this well used, well-oiled propaganda machine we must question, we must demand answers, and we must wake up to our responsibility to reject calls for the destruction of nations and peoples who ask only for their basic human right to determine their own futures.

Avaaz, HRW, White Helmets and their associates have no place in that brave new world.

How the Pentagon Plans to Defeat Eurasia and Roll out “Robotic Warfare”

 

 

127529Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work expounded upon the US’ military strategy in Eurasia during a speech at the Army War College Strategy Conference on 8 April, revealing critical insight into the Pentagon’s formal approach to forthcoming conflicts. Work’s words should be read in full by any strategist endeavoring to understand the imperatives that guide the world’s most armed forces. He elaborates on the theoretical foundations of American military might, including how the Pentagon plans to counter the three types of wars supposedly being waged by Iran, Russia, and China.

The main strategic innovation being presented is something called the “Third Offset Strategy”, which in practice amounts to electromagnetic anti-missile rail guns and seamless combat integration between man and machine. These two pronouncements mark startling military developments that will assuredly initiate a news arms race between the West and the Resistant & Defiant states most actively opposed to its domination, as the only realistic alternative is eventual submission or all-out pre-emptive war.

Part I analyzes the theory and nature of 21st-century wars, using Work’s speech as a guiding instrument, and then addresses the Pentagon’s overall plans against China. Part II continues off of this trajectory and details the Third Offset and all that it frighteningly entails, before ending with a brief conclusion that ties everything together.

Theoretical Foundations

There are three main ideas that Work references as underpinning the US military’s overall strategy, and they are as follows:

The Two Pillars:

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Highly skilled individuals and technological superiority constitute the two primary pillars from which the rest of America’s strategy is built. To quote the man himself:

Since World War II, American military strategy and our entire national defense strategy has been built upon an assumption of technological superiority, and the better-trained individual — individuals, men and women, organized to employ these technologies in an innovative way… I assume and I am confident in my assumption that we have an enduring advantage in our people…But I’m telling you right now our technological superiority is slipping.

While the striking rate of suicide in the US Armed Forces calls into question the endurance and quality of training that American servicemen receive, the main aspect to focus on in the abovementioned citation is Work’s belief that the US military’s technological superiority is in decline. His view is entirely subjective because there are no reliable quantitative measurements available to back it up, but it importantly conveys a sense of urgency and infers that some type of action must immediately be taken to halt and/or reverse this process. Surprisingly, he’s not asking for more money to stop the US’ relative decline in military spending (despite thinking that trend is “stupid”), instead pleading that:

It doesn’t matter how much money we have.  This problem requires thinking.  And we need to tackle it together, and not worry so much about the resources as the intellectual capital that we need to put in the bank to allow our joint force to be so successful in the future.

Work’s preference for brainpower over budgetary politics is logical when one considers the second motivator of US military strategy.

The Velocity of Instability:

Early on in his speech, Work references Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno’s definition of the “velocity of instability” as being the pace of strategic change, which becomes one of the most influential current imperatives of the US military when it combines with the pace of technological innovation. What this simply means is that non-Western actors are creating new technologies and crafting adaptive strategies that are creating complications for the US’ application of full-spectrum dominance, the former of which will be discussed in detail during the next main section. In response to such rapidly changing circumstances, the US feels entitled in bullying others by never picking on an equally matched adversary.

No Fair Fight:

A remotely piloted aircraft system (drone) getting launched from the aircraft carrier George H.W.

A remotely piloted aircraft system (drone) getting launched from the aircraft carrier George H.W.

According to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey, whom Work also cites during his speech, “we never, ever want to send our troops into a fair fight”, confirming what many had already suspected about militant bullying being an integral part of the US’ foreign policy toolkit. The US never picks a fight with anyone who can give it a legitimate run for its money, so to speak, choosing instead to conventionally attack smaller and weaker states like Iraq and Libya whose militaries represent a negligible challenge. When it comes to more evenly matched rivals such as Russia and China or those which can inflict unacceptable collateral damage like Iran, the US understands that it must keep its destabilization just short of the conventional threshold, opting instead for asymmetrical aggression in the form of economic subversion, Color Revolutions, and Unconventional Wars.

21st-Century Wars

Keeping the concept of “no fair fight” at the forefront of one’s thoughts, it’s now time to look at the three types of wars that Work accuses Iran, Russia, and China of waging, before describing the radical means he proposes for countering them and thus giving the US the first-strike capability in any conflict.

Hybrid War:

In his parade of prominent US military strategists, Work speaks about Frank Hoffman and his definition of hybrid warfare, which he defines as:

“Combat operations characterized by the simultaneous and adaptive employment of a complex combination of conventional weapons, irregular warfare, terrorism and criminal behavior to achieve political objectives.”

The above perfectly describes the US and its proxies’ onslaught on Syria, but Work instead attributes this strategy to Hezbollah (commonly believed in American military circles as being a de-facto extension of the Iranian military) in its legendary 2006 defense against Israel’s invasion of Southern Lebanon:

Hezbollah fighters were armed with advanced anti-tank missiles, thousands of long-range rockets, Chinese-made Silkworm anti-ship missiles, advanced man-portable anti-air missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).  They had very simplistic, but very effective battle networks to employ them.  They practiced irregular warfare, but at the same time maneuvered effectively against Israeli armored columns, proved proficient in indirect fire, and they used swarms of heavy anti-tank missiles to great effect.

Again, this sounds exactly like how the US is behaving in Syria, specifically with its anti-tank and anti-air armament supply to terrorist groups active in the country, but nonetheless, the Pentagon representative insists that “in the future, without question, hybrid adversaries will pose a qualitative and quantitative challenge” to the US. It’s not clear if he’s foreshadowing that US troops will soon be fighting against the same proxy agents they helped arm and train for hybrid war, but it’s unmistakable that he’s identifying this type of fighting with the Mideast theater, where thus far it’s been most popularly practiced.

Non-Linear Warfare:

Euromaidan is the classic example of a legitimate public protest turning violent through  the hybrid warfare technics.

Euromaidan is the classic example of a legitimate public protest turning violent through the hybrid warfare technics.

Work continues linking various novel warfighting innovations with certain geographic zones and actors through his description Russia’s application of non-linear warfare in Eastern Europe, which he reports as:

Evolve[ing] from covert actions by special operations forces, to sustained unconventional combat waged under an umbrella of denial.  And then ultimately escalating to high-end force-on-force proxy warfare with the state actively involved in combat operations .

One could be forgiven for mistaking this with Washington’s strategy of Color Revolution 2.0, otherwise known in practice as the “Arab Spring” or EuroMaidan, seeing as how both instances perfectly correlate with Work’s definition. He even manages to express the exasperation that the embittered Syrian and Ukrainian authorities felt when he says that:

“Non-linear adversaries make those avenues (of approach) harder to detect, using agents, paramilitaries, deception, infiltration, and persistent denial to make those avenues of approach very hard to detect, operating in what some people have called “the gray zone.”

One can now begin to see a pattern of ironic rhetoric emerge; the US is accusing its primary Eurasian rivals (Iran, Russia, and next to be seen, China) of engaging in the exact same type of warfare that Washington itself has perfected, and which has been used as its calling card in the victimized states that it recently attacked (be it directly or indirectly). The American ideology of Exceptionalism means that it would never openly recognize this fact and will instead always try to assign such strategies to its adversaries, but this doesn’t take away from the reality that the US has become the most apt practitioner of these concepts.

“Informationalized” Warfare:

The third military innovation that Work outlines as posing a challenge for the US is what he says the Chinese call “informationalized” warfare, which he considers being:

“The combination of cyber, electronic warfare, information ops, deception and denial to disrupt our command and control to give the enemy an advantage in the decision cycle.”

It’s curious why he attaches this strategy to China, since Beijing hasn’t fought a war since its 1979 one against Vietnam before the advent of cyber warfare, but be that as it may, once more, it’s the US that’s actually the prime practitioner of this misattributed art (or least came close to it). The reader should recall the 2011 NATO War on Libya when the US seriously considered that very same plan before deciding to more easily use Tomahawk missiles to destroy Gaddafi’s command and control centers. While it’s obvious that this so-called “informationalized” warfare can realistically be =exercised by any Great Power in the world today, so far US-controlled NATO appears to be the most capable actor in doing so due to its multi-national (UK/Poland/Italy/Baltic States) deployment of “strategic communication centers”, which will predictably augment its capability in carrying out the “information ops, deception and denial” components of this strategy.

Clashing With China

USS Fort Worth, based in Singapore, is closely monitoring Chinese activities near Spratly Islands

USS Fort Worth, based in Singapore, is closely monitoring Chinese activities near Spratly Islands

The Deputy Secretary of Defense not-so-subtly refers to China as a prospective target of the Pentagon’s warfighting machine when he speaks about the challenge posed by A2/AD (anti-area, area-denial) strategies, which Beijing has previously been highlighted by the US military for partaking in. Work lists three steps by which the US plans on countering this concept:

 

  1.  “Take the first salvo” (likely inferring a provocation or false-flag scenario) using raid-breaking technology (to be elaborated upon shortly)
  2.  “Break into (the) theater”
  3.  “Think about Air Land Battle 2.0”, predicted to be “against enemies which have lots of guided rockets, artillery, mortars and missiles, and are using informationalized warfare to completely disrupt our heavily netted force”, but which “the Army needs to figure…out” because it has yet to be witnessed in battle.

It’s anticipated that the “first salvo” will be when the enemy “throw[s] guided munition salvos as dense as our own and sometimes over long range” (essentially making it “AirLand Battle 2.0” before the US breaks through the theater and gets close enough to physically respond), meaning that “the competitor who can demonstrate the ability to defeat the guided munitions salvo competition is going to have a unique advantage at the operational level of war.” The US seeks to acquire this said advantage through its implementation of the Third Offset Strategy, which is also envisioned with providing it the ability to defeat both human and robotic military units during the theater break-in and subsequent Air Land Battle 2.0.

To be continued…

Andrew Korybko is the political analyst and journalist for Sputnik who currently lives and studies in Moscow, exclusively for Oriental Review.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). Unruly Hearts will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.