Archive | July 31st, 2017

SYRIAN ARMY ENJOYS FIRE CONTROL OVER AL-SUKHNA

NOVANEWS

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SYRIAN ARMY ENJOYS FIRE CONTROL OVER AL-SUKHNA; EYELESS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, BULLY-BOY TRUMP FLAILS AGAINST IMAGINARY ENEMIES;

Donald Trump is obsessed with Iran and North Korea.  Because he doesn’t read anything historical, or even political, he relies on late night Fox programming and the National Enquirer.  This is the leader of the most powerful nation on earth who has access to daily intelligence summaries prepared by his “highly trained professionals”.  Leave aside the fact that all American intelligence agencies have been penetrated by Zionist sympathizers, it remains puzzling why the president chooses to rely on the “fake media” instead of his own American, ultra-professional lie factories.

I cannot tell you who has got Trump’s ear on Iran, but, it must be someone linked to the Zionist Apartheid State.  I write this because of Mileikowski’s (“Netanyahu’s) own personal crusade during Obama’s tenure in office to scotch the Iran Nuclear Deal.  No one party was as active and rabid as the Zionist Entity when it came to speaking before Congress about the dangers of letting Iran off the hook.  Luckily for everyone, Mileikowski did not succeed and the deal continues despite cryptic tweets from Trump about scuppering the whole protocol.

Trump is a 5-time deferred draftee.  He never served in the military and that makes him doubly dangerous.  Like other Republicans – think of G.W. – he envisions himself a warrior and war-time president although he never got to taste the glories of war – the screams of the injured or the pleasant aroma of burned human flesh – the sounds of babies under bricks or collapsed buildings or the uplifting sight of human limbs spread out around a bomb crater.  He missed all the good times.  But, he persists in flailing at enemies, most of whom are arming themselves to the teeth because they perceive there’s a bully on the block.

Who is the bully, you ask?  Well, aw shucks, you know, it’s that bully who runs around the globe invading other countries, destroying infrastructure – assassinating leaders – murdering hundreds of thousands of people. And who could that be?  It couldn’t be a country as democratic as the United States, could it?  Could it be a country that pretends to support democracy by enveloping other nations in a shroud of cordite, napalm and Agent Orange, a minor deficiency sufficient to keep that civilized country voluntarily off the list of nations who have signed on to the International Criminal Court?  I mean, why wouldn’t the bully be a part of the ICC?  Because, it’s just a bully?  That’s it?

From Vietnam, where the U.S. gleefully slaughtered over one million Vietnamese civilians to Iraq where the figures are somewhere between 400,000 to 800,000; to Panama where the U.S. extracted a whole government with whom it was not at war to a little island, called Grenada, whose only sin was having Cuban engineers building a runway for it; to Rwanda where Clinton could have done something (like lifting a finger) to prevent a genocide – but, didn’t because: who in the Hell cares about a bunch of black people? ……..all the way to Syria where a media blitzkrieg attempted to convince a war-weary American public that the U.S. should invade a member state of the United Nations even though Syria had never done anything to damage the U.S…..all the way to Syria where American support and training for cannibals, savages, jihadists and other forms of parasite were tasked with bringing down a secular government which protected all sectors of society and which was on the verge of departing the Third World.

And don’t forget Libya.  That’s where the Russians got snookered by the foul-smelling English and their French skunk cousins into supporting a U.N.S.C. resolution aimed clearly at protecting civilians from the rampaging Qaddafi forces, a fig leaf for “regime change” when it appeared that the Bad Boy of Benghazi wasn’t going out the easy way.  This one act of perfidy, so vile it makes the hair follicles on my otherwise bald head quiver, resulted in the death of Libya’s leader at the hands of a child, watched ostensibly by adult “revolutionaries”, who then shoved the leader’s own pistol between his haunches to fire one bullet that would insure the strongman’s death.  This monstrous act was filmed.  And so was Hillary Clinton’s reaction in front of a camera:  “We came. We saw. He died!”)  This was followed by the scag caterwauling with delight as onlookers rolled their eyeballs in disbelief.  So much for American diplomacy.  Class?

Libya is in ruins and irreversible decay.  Trump would like to bring the same to Iran and North Korea.  Obama wanted to bring this to Syria.  Bush did bring that to Iraq. Obama and Trump are bringing it to Venezuela, too.  Land of liberty and the home of the brave.

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DAYR EL-ZOR:  Syrian Army Republican Guard forces almost totally surrounded by ISIS vultures are about to see relief after 4 years of snuffing out every effort by the American/Zionist-created terrorists to penetrate their Air Base and the areas they control inside the city.  Their efforts were not for naught.  The resilience of their worshiped commander, Maj. Gen. ‘Issaam Zhahreddeen, his perfunctory reliance on the professionalism of his officers and the impavid obstinacy of his core fighters, turned every British plan to overrun the base into one disaster after another with hundreds, if not thousands, of putrefying terrorist carcasses oozing into the soil providing the rural countryside with more organic nutrients than any volcanic eruption before or after Krakatoa.

The SAAF has been running continuous patterns of sorties over the areas of Panorama, the Airbase and Base 137.  Yesterday, a major ISIS leader usually infesting Mu-Hassan, was turned into so much hamburger meat by a bomb that landed a few yards from his cringing carcass.  His name was “Mu’aawiya Al-Faraj”, a Jordanteezian pedophile and drug dealer.

Yesterday, the SAAF destroyed all fortifications at Panorama, Base 137, the Al-Raqqa Bridge, ‘Ayn Abu Jum’ah Police Station and at the Conoco Desert Oil Field.  This was in preparation for the arrival of the Tiger Forces who will play the most instrumental role in exterminating the rodents presence in the city.

In East rural D.Z., we can confirm the death of “Abu Ghosn Al-Albaani”, obviously some Albanian derelict who couldn’t get enough Slivovitza at home.

We are delighted to report the deaths of 2 corrupt ISIS degenerates at the hands of local women in Al-Saalihiyya who set a trap for the naive morons by offering fresh bread.  When the cannibals laid down their rifles in order to fill their pockets with the tasty muffins, the women clobbered the rodents with clubs and then, as the wretches were squirming, the women calmly clobbered them again until some young men came and beheaded the shivering swine.

In Al-Husayniyya Village, the leader of ISIS’s Security Bureau, Abu ‘Abdullah Al-Tunisi (Tunisian foot fetishist and committed child molester), Abu Haarith Shaqra and Abu Al-Mu’tassim Al-Dayri were all found dead at the Tourist Oasis Rest Stop snuggled around an Ottoman-style toilet.

With morale at an all time high, leaders of ISIS have been conspicuously preparing to abandon ship.  Just yesterday, one of ISIS’s main communications officers disappeared from sight in a red BMW sedan.  ‘Issa Al-Humaydi simply decided that the promise of 72 belly dancers was too remote a possibility and opted for parts unknown.  And so did a formerly fanatical field commander, Hishaam Ramadhaan perform a splendid disappearing act hauling his brood of scum out of north Al-Sukhna to the safety of Al-Mayaadeen.     

For more local events of importance, at Al-Hirri Village, members of the Shu’aytaat tribe halted a car carrying 4 rodents.  Before they could get off one shot, the young men exterminated them in a hail of lead. Boo hoo hoo.

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HOMS:  But, the big news is Al-Sukhna.  It is now under complete fire control because the SAA has taken over all ISIS positions at the hilltops of Tal Umm Khassm and Qulaylaat Mountain.

East of Al-Salamiyya in Hama Province, the SAAF is flying continuous sorties to principally block any attempt to resupply ISIS rodents anywhere near Al-Sukhna.  At ‘Uqayrabaat, Al-Sooha, Jurooh, North Qastal and Qulayb Al-Thawr, the SAAF has not only destroyed whole convoys of trucks carrying arms and ammo, it has also laid waste to supportive vehicles like flatbeds armed with 23mm cannons.

At Al-Zakiyya Village, two days ago, the SAA arrested scores of Nusra/Alqaeda and ISIS terrorists seizing all their equipment, armaments and ammunition.

 

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Burning Raqqa: The US War Against Civilians in Syria

Villagers walk to collect water after troops from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab forces, retook a town on November 11, 2015 near Hasaka, in the autonomous region of Rojava, Syria. (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

Villagers walk to collect water after troops from the Syrian Democratic Forces, a coalition of Kurdish and Arab forces, retook a town on November 11, 2015, near Hasaka, in the autonomous region of Rojava, Syria. (Photo: John Moore / Getty Images)

It was midday on Sunday, May 7th, when the US-led coalition warplanes again began bombing the neighborhood of Wassim Abdo’s family.

They lived in Tabqa, a small city on the banks of the Euphrates River in northern Syria. Then occupied by the Islamic State (ISIS, also known as Daesh), Tabqa was also under siege by US-backed troops and being hit by daily artillery fire from US Marines, as well as US-led coalition airstrikes. The city, the second largest in Raqqa Province, was home to an airfield and the coveted Tabqa Dam. It was also the last place in the region the US-backed forces needed to take before launching their much-anticipated offensive against the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed capital, Raqqa.

His parents, Muhammed and Salam, had already fled their home once when the building adjacent to their house was bombed, Wassim Abdo told me in a recent interview. ISIS had been arresting civilians from their neighborhood for trying to flee the city. So on that Sunday, the couple was taking shelter on the second floor of a four-story flat along with other family members when a US-led airstrike reportedly struck the front half of the building. Abdo’s sister-in-law Lama fled the structure with her two children and survived. But his parents and 12-year-old cousin were killed, along with dozens of their neighbors, as the concrete collapsed on them.

As an exiled human rights activist, Wassim Abdo only learned of his parents’ death three days later, after Lama called him from the Syrian border town of Kobane, where she and her two children had been transported for medical treatment. Her daughter had been wounded in the bombing and although the US-backed, Kurdish-led troops had by then seized control of Tabqa, it was impossible for her daughter to be treated in their hometown, because weeks of US-led coalition bombing had destroyed all the hospitals in the city. 

A War Against Civilians

Islamic State fighters have now essentially been defeated in Mosul after a nine-month, US-backed campaign that destroyed significant parts of Iraq’s second largest city, killing up to 40,000 civilians and forcing as many as one million more people from their homes. Now, the United States is focusing its energies — and warplanes — on ISIS-occupied areas of eastern Syria in an offensive dubbed “Wrath of the Euphrates.”

The Islamic State’s brutal treatment of civilians in Syria has been well reported and publicized. And according to Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the US-led war against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the battle to “liberate” these regions from ISIS is the “most precise campaign in the history of warfare.”

But reports and photographs from Syrian journalists and activists, as well as first-person accounts from those with family members living in areas under US bombardment, detail a strikingly different tale of the American offensive — one that looks a lot less like a battle against the Islamic State and a lot more like a war on civilians.

These human rights groups and local reporters say that, across Syria in recent months, the US-led coalition and US Marines have bombed or shelled at least 12 schools, including primary schools and a girls’ high school; a health clinic and an obstetrics hospital; Raqqa’s Science College; residential neighborhoodsbakeries; post offices; a car wash; at least 15 mosques; a cultural center; a gas station; cars carrying civilians to the hospital; a funeral; water tanks; at least 15 bridges; a makeshift refugee camp; the ancient Rafiqah Wall that dates back to the eighth century; and an Internet café in Raqqa, where a Syrian media activist was killed as he was trying to smuggle news out of the besieged city.

The United States is now one of the deadliest warring parties in Syria. In May and June combined, the US-led coalition killed more civilians than the Assad regime, the Russians, or ISIS, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, a nongovernmental organization that has been monitoring the death toll and human rights violations in Syria since 2011.

“This administration wants to achieve a quick victory,” Dr. Fadel Abdul Ghany, chairman of the Syrian Network for Human Rights recently told me, referring to the Trump White House. “What we are noticing is that the US is targeting and killing without taking into consideration the benefits for the military and the collateral damage for the civilians. This, of course, amounts to war crimes.”

And nowhere is this war against civilians more acute than in ISIS-occupied Raqqa, where trapped families are living under dozens of airstrikes every day.

Hotel of the Revolution 

Located at the confluence of the Euphrates and Balikh rivers in northern Syria, Raqqa was first settled more than 5,000 years agoBy the late eighth century, it had grown into an imperial city, filled with orchards, palaces, canals, reception halls, and a hippodrome for horse racing. Its industrial quarters were then known as “the burning Raqqa,” thanks to the flames and thick smoke produced by its glass and ceramic furnaces. The city even served briefly as the capital of the vast Abbasid Empire stretching from North Africa to Central Asia.

Toward the end of the thirteenth century, wars between the Mongol and Mamluk empires annihilated Raqqa and its surrounding countryside. Every single resident of the city was either killed or expelled. According to Hamburg University professor Stefan Heidemann, who has worked on a number of excavations in and around Raqqa, the scorched-earth warfare was so extreme that not a single tree was left standing in the region.

Only in the middle of the twentieth century when irrigation from the Euphrates River allowed Raqqa’s countryside to flourish amid a global cotton boom did the city fully reemerge. In the 1970s, the region’s population again began to swell after then-President Hafez al-Assad — the father of the present Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad — ordered the construction of a massive hydroelectric dam on the Euphrates about 30 miles upstream of Raqqa. Wassim Abdo’s father, Muhammed, was an employee at this dam. Like many of these workers and their families, he and Salam lived in Tabqa’s third neighborhood, which was filled with four-story apartment flats built in the 1970s not far from the dam and its power station.

Despite these agricultural and industrial developments, Raqqa remained a small provincial capital. Abdalaziz Alhamza, a cofounder of the watchdog group Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, which is made up of media activists from Raqqa living in the city as well as in exile, writes that the local news normally didn’t even mention the city in its weather forecasts.

In the mid-2000s, a drought began to wither the local cash crops: cotton, potatoes, rice, and tomatoes. As in other regions of Syria, farmers migrated from the countryside into the city, where overstretched and ill-functioning public services only exacerbated long-simmering dissatisfactions with the Assad regime.

As the 2011 rebellion broke out across Syria, Wassim Abdo and thousands of others in Raqqa, Tabqa, and nearby villages began agitating against the Syrian government, flooding the streets in protest and forming local coordinating councils. The regime slowly lost control of territory across the province. In March 2013, after only a few days of battle, anti-government rebels ousted government troops from the city and declared Raqqa the ​first ​liberated provincial capital​ in all of Syria. The city, then the sixth largest in Syria, became “the hotel of the revolution.”

Within less than a year, however, despite fierce protests and opposition from its residents, ISIS fighters had fully occupied the city and the surrounding countryside. They declared Raqqa the capital of the Islamic State.

Despite the occupation, Wassim’s parents never tried to flee Tabqa because they hoped to reunite with one of their sons, Azad, who had been kidnapped by ISIS fighters in September 2013. In retirement, Muhammed Abdo opened a small electronics store. Salam was a housewife. Like tens of thousands of other civilians, they were living under ISIS occupation in Tabqa when, in the spring of 2017, US Apache helicopters and warplanes first began appearing in the skies above the city. US Marines armed with howitzers were deployed to the region. In late March, American helicopters airlifted hundreds of US-backed troops from the Kurdish-led militias known as the Syrian Democratic Forces​ to the banks of the dammed river near the city. Additional forces approached from the east, transported on American speedboats. 

By the beginning of May, the Abdos’ neighborhood was under almost daily bombardment by the US-led coalition forces. On May 3rd, coalition warplanes reportedly launched up to 30 airstrikes across Tabqa’s first, second, and third neighborhoods, striking homes and a fruit market and reportedly killing at least sixcivilians. The following night, another round of coalition airstrikes battered the first and third neighborhoods, reportedly killing at least seven civilians, including women and children. Separate airstrikes that same night near the city’s center reportedly killed another six to 12 civilians. 

On May 7th, multiple bombs reportedly dropped by the US-led coalition struck the building where Muhammed and Salam had taken shelter, killing them and their 12-year-old grandson. Three days later, the Syrian Democratic Forces announced that they had fully seized control of Tabqa and the dam. The militia and its US advisers quickly set their sights east to the upcoming offensive in Raqqa.

But for the Abdo family, the tragedy continued. Muhammed and Salam’s bodies were buried beneath the collapsed apartment building. It took 15 days before Wassim’s brother Rashid could secure the heavy machinery required to extract them.

“Nobody could approach the corpses because of the disfigurement that had occurred and the smell emanating from them as a result of being left under the rubble for such a long period of time in the hot weather,” Wassim told me in a recent interview. 

That same day their bodies were finally recovered.  On May 23rd, his parents and nephew were buried in the Tabqa cemetery.

“In Raqqa There Are Many Causes of Death” 

A few days after the Abdos’ funeral, the US-led coalition began dropping leaflets over Raqqa instructing civilians to flee the city ahead of the upcoming offensive. According to photos of leaflets published by Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, the warnings read, in part, “This is your last chance… Failing to leave might lead to death.”

ISIS fighters, in turn, prohibited civilians from escaping the city and planted landmines in Raqqa’s outskirts. Nevertheless, on June 5th, dozens of civilians heeded the coalition’s warnings and gathered at a boat stand on the northern banks of the Euphrates, where they waited to be ferried out of the city. Before the war, families had picnicked along this riverbank. Teenagers jumped into the water from Raqqa’s Old Bridge, built in 1942 by British troops. A handful of river front cafés opened for the season.

“The river is the main monument of the city, and for many people there’s a romantic meaning to it,” Syrian journalist Marwan Hisham, currently co-writing Brothers of the Gun, a book about life in ISIS-occupied Raqqa, told me.

But on June 5th, as the families were waiting to cross the river to escape the impending US-backed offensive, coalition warplanes launched a barrage of airstrikes targeting the boats, reportedly massacring as many as 21 civilians. The coalition acknowledges launching 35 airstrikes that destroyed 68 boats between June 4th and June 6th, according to the journalistic outlet Airwars. Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend later boasted about the tactic, telling the New York Times: “We shoot every boat we find.”

The day after the attack on fleeing civilians at the boat stand, the long-awaited US-backed ground offensive officially began.

After three years of ISIS rule, Raqqa had become one of the most isolated cities in the world. The militants banned residents from having home internet, satellite dishes, or Wi-Fi hotspots. They arrested and killed local reporters and banned outside journalists. On the day US-backed troops launched their ground offensive against the city, ISIS further sought to restrict reporting on conditions there by ordering the imminent shutdown of all Internet cafés.

Despite these restrictions, dozens of Syrian journalists and activists have risked and still risk their lives to smuggle information out of besieged Raqqa — and their efforts are the only reason most Western reporters (including myself) have any information about the war our countries are currently waging there.

Every day, these media activists funnel news out of the city to exiled Syrians running media outlets and human rights organizations. The most famous among these groups has become Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, which won the 2015 International Press Freedom Award for its reporting on the ISIS occupation and now publishes hourly updates on the US-backed offensive. All this news is then compiled and cross-checked by international monitoring groups like Airwars, whose researchers have now found themselves tracking as many as a half-dozen coalition attacks resulting in civilian casualties every day.

It’s because of this work that we know the Raqqa offensive officially began on June 6th with a barrage of airstrikes and artillery shelling that reportedly hit a school, a train station, the immigration and passport building, a mosque, and multiple residential neighborhoods, killing between six and 13 civilians. Two days later, bombs, artillery shells, and white phosphorus were reportedly unleashed across Raqqa, hitting — among other places — the Al-Hason Net Internet café, killing a media activist and at least a dozen others. (That journalist was one of at least 26media activists to be killed in Syria this year alone.) Other bombs reportedly hit at least eight shops and a mosque. Photos also showed white phosphorus exploding over two residential neighborhoods.

White phosphorus is capable of burning human flesh to the bone. When exposed to oxygen, the chemical ignites reaching a temperature of 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s so flammable that its burns can reignite days later if the bandages are removed too soon.

US military officials have not denied using white phosphorus in the city. The Pentagon has, in fact, published photos of US Marines deployed to the Raqqa region transporting US-manufactured white phosphorus munitions. Its spokesmen claimthat the US military only uses this incendiary agent to mark targets for air strikes or to create smoke screens and therefore remains in accordance with international law. But in the days after the reported attack, Amnesty International warned: “The US-led coalition’s use of white phosphorus munitions on the outskirts of al-Raqqa, Syria, is unlawful and may amount to a war crime.” (Amnesty similarly accused the US of potentially committing war crimes during its campaign against ISIS in Mosul.)

Following the reported white phosphorus attacks on June 8th and 9th, Raqqa’s main commercial and social avenue — February 23rd Street — reportedly came under threestraight days of bombing. Syrian journalist Marwan Hisham, who grew up in that city, recalls how that street had once been lined with cafés, entertainment venues, and shops. Its western edge runs into Rashid Park, one of the city’s main public spaces. Its eastern edge stretches to the ancient Abbasid Wall.

Between June 9th and June 11th, as many as 10 civilians were killed in repeated bombings of February 23rd Street and its major intersections, according to reportscompiled by Airwars. (These sorts of air strikes, ostensibly aimed at limiting the mobility of ISIS fighters, were also employed in Mosul, parts of which are now in ruins.) On those same days, four adults and four children were reportedly killed in airstrikes on Raqqa’s industrial district, another 21 civilians were killed in the west of the city, and at least 11 more civilians, again including children, when airstrikes reportedly destroyed homes on al-Nour street, which is just around the corner from the al-Rayan Bakery, bombed less than two weeks later.

On that day, June 21st, a Raqqa resident named Abu Ahmad was returning from getting water at a nearby well when, he later told Reuters, he began hearing people screaming as houses crumbled. He said that as many as 30 people had died when the apartment flats around the bakery were leveled. “We couldn’t even do anything,” he added. “The rocket launchers, the warplanes. We left them to die under the rubble.” Only a few days earlier, coalition warplanes had destroyed another source of bread, the al-Nadeer bakery on al-Mansour Street, one of Raqqa’s oldest thoroughfares.

In July, the US-led coalition bombed the ancient Abbasid Wall, and US-backed troops breached Raqqa’s Old City. US advisers began to operate inside Raqqa, calling in more airstrikes from there.

More and more names, photographs, and stories of the coalition’s victims were smuggled out by local journalists. According to these reports, on July 2nd, Jamila Ali al-Abdullah, her three children, and up to 10 of her neighbors were killed in her neighborhood. On July 3rd, at least three families were killed, including Yasser al-Abdullah and his four children, A’ssaf, Zain, Jude, and Rimas. On July 5th, an elderlyman named Yasin died in an airstrike on al-Mansour Street. On July 6th, Anwar Hassan al-Hariri was killed along with her son Mohammed, her daughter Shatha, and her toddler Jana. Five members of the al-Sayyed family perished on July 7th. Sisters Hazar and Elhan Abdul Aader Shashan died in their home on July 12th, while seven members of the Ba’anat family were killed on July 13th, as was Marwan al-Salama and at least ten of his family members on July 17th.

Hundreds more were reportedly wounded, including Isma’il Ali al-Thlaji, a child who lost his eyesight and his right hand.  And these are, of course, only some of the reported names of those killed by the US-led coalition.   

“In Raqqa, there are many causes of death,” the journalists at Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently wrote. These include “indiscriminate airstrikes by international coalition warplanes, daily artillery shelling by Syrian Democratic Forces, and ISIS mines scattered throughout the surrounding landscape.”

For those who survive, conditions inside the city only continue to worsen. Coalition bombing reportedly destroyed the two main pipes carrying water into the city in the 100-degree July heat, forcing people to venture to the banks of the Euphrates, where at least 27 have been reportedly killed by US-led bombing while filling up jugs of water.

A Coalition in Name Only

The United States has launched nearly 95% of all coalition airstrikes in Syria in recent months, meaning the campaign is, in fact, almost exclusively an American affair. “The French and British are launching about half a dozen strikes a week now,” Chris Woods, director of Airwars, explained to me. “The Belgians maybe one or two a week.” In comparison, in Raqqa province last month the US launched about twenty air or artillery strikes every single day.

In June alone, the US-led coalition and US Marines fired or dropped approximately 4,400 munitions on Raqqa and its surrounding villages. According to Mark Hiznay, the associate director of Human Rights Watch’s arms division, these munitions included 250-pound precision-guided small diameter bombs, as well as MK-80 bombs, which weigh between 500 and 2,000 pounds and are equipped with precision-guided kits. The bombs are dropped by B-52 bombers and other warplanes, most taking off from the al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar, Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, or the USS George H.W. Bush, an aircraft carrier stationed off Syria’s coast in the eastern Mediterranean.

Hundreds of US Marines, most likely from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, are also positioned outside Raqqa and are firing high explosive artillery rounds into the city from M777 Howitzers. In late June, the Marines’ official Twitter feed boasted that they were conducting artillery fire in support of US-backed troops 24 hours a day.

The result of this type of warfare, says Airwars’ Chris Woods, is a staggering increase in civilian casualties. According to an analysis by the group, since President Trump took office six months ago, the US-led campaign has reportedly killed nearly as many civilians in Syria and Iraq as were killed in the previous two and a half years of the Obama administration.

And for surviving civilians, the conditions of war don’t end once the bombing stops, as life today in the city of Tabqa indicates.

As of mid-July, according to Wassim Abdo, Tabqa still has neither running water nor electricity, even though displaced families have begun returning to their homes. There’s a shortage of bread, and still no functioning schools or hospitals. The Tabqa Dam, which once generated up to 20% of Syria’s electricity, remains inoperable. (US-led coalition airstrikes reportedly damaged the structure repeatedly in February and March, when they the main control room, causing the United Nations to of a threat of catastrophic flooding downstream.) The US-backed troops in Tabqa have, according to Abdo, banned the Internet and US officials admit that children in the area are being infected by diseases carried by flies feeding off corpses still buried in the rubble.

Meanwhile, less than 30 miles to the east, the battle for control of Raqqa continues with tens of thousands of civilians still trapped inside the besieged city. Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend has indicated that the US-led coalition may soon increase the rate of airstrikes there yet again.

From Wassim Abdo’s perspective, that coalition campaign in Syria has so far killed his parents and nephew and ruined his hometown. None of this, understandably, looks anything like a war against ISIS.

“My opinion of the international coalition,” he told me recently, “is that it’s a performance by the international community to target civilians and infrastructure and to destroy the country.” And this type of warfare, he added, “is not part of eliminating Daesh.”

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Role of nuclear arms in Russia’s military strategy: Setting the record straight

NOVANEWS
Image result for nuclear arms in Russia’ CARTOON
By Dr Alexander Yakovenko 

We continue to see efforts to blame Russia for allegedly lowering the threshold for the use of nuclear weapons.

Against the backdrop of current anti-Russian hysterics and groundless accusations of “aggression,” “destabilization,” “interference,” etc., this adds to the false picture. Let’s set the record straight.

The Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, adopted in 2010 and revised in 2014, is a clear guidebook regarding our military strategy, including the role of nuclear force, in the event of aggression.

According to this document, “the Russian Federation shall reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and/or its allies, as well as in the event of aggression against the Russian Federation with the use of conventional weapons when the very existence of the state is in jeopardy.”

This should leave no doubt in the solely defensive nature of the Russian nuclear force. It has always been and will be in the interest of our country to strengthen the strategic stability that helped keep the peace since the end of the Second World War. Nuclear deterrence remains a fact we have to live with.

Russia has been a consistent advocate of further limitations and reductions of nuclear weapons stockpiles along with strengthening international regimes of arms control and non-proliferation.

One of the examples is the Russia-US new START Treaty, which came into force in 2011. Under this treaty, the sides committed to cutting their nuclear arsenals by a third compared to the previous agreements. One should remember the Bush Administration withdrew from the ABM Treaty, one of the pillars of strategic stability, and was prepared to let the START process go when the previous treaty was about to expire.

Russia is a responsible member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime and calls upon NATO to cease any activity that contradicts this treaty, including “joint nuclear missions.” By Articles I and II of the NPT the nuclear powers pledged not to transfer nuclear weapons, neither directly nor indirectly, to non-nuclear states.

Notwithstanding this obvious failure to comply with international law, the US continues to invite non-nuclear states to participate in nuclear training and exercises, and modernize its nuclear arsenals by creating a new generation of “more suitable to use” nuclear weapons. In addition to the escalation of its military presence in Europe under the pretext of the “Russian threat” (though NATO leadership recently recognized that there is no direct threat from Russia), the US makes an eventual dialogue on further nuclear weapons limitations all but impossible.

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