Jaish al-Islam and Jaish al-Fatah prepare for their Black Friday offensive, which killed 270 civilians last week.
Washington again asks Russia not to bomb al-Nusra, formerly known as al-Qaeda.

Al-Nusra shows its appreciation by playing a leading role in the slaughter of 270 civilians in 24 hours...

The deception of the ceasefire in Syria has become crystal clear. It has been used by opposition forces, faced with defeat, to halt advances by the Syrian Arab Army-led coalition in order to regroup, rearm and launch fresh attacks, which we are seeing now. Washington has again asked Moscow not to conduct airstrikes against al-Nusra, fearing that members of the "moderate opposition" could also be hit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reported.

On cue last Friday, illustrating how odious this proposal is, the forces opposed to Assad, al-Nusra prominent among them, killed 270 civilians in 24 hours of massive shelling across Syria.

The ceasefire has not been viewed by the opposition as a stepping stone to a full peace process. Rather, they have used it as a strategy for attempting to gain the upper hand over pro-government forces. There is no dedication to a peaceful solution to the war, just a cynical manipulation of a longed-for peace while re-arming with more powerful weapons and the supply of fighter reinforcements takes place in parallel. The government of Bashar al-Assad does not have a peace partner in Syria; they have adversaries who continue to be armed and supported by the US-led 'anti-ISIS' coalition.

When the ceasefire was brokered, attempts were made by the US to include al-Nusra. Russia and Syria quite rightly refused, correctly pointing out that al-Nusra is an internationally designated terrorist group, with UN Resolution 2254 mandating the continued fight to degrade and destroy this terrorist group.

Having failed in this endeavour, the US pinned its hopes on protecting al-Nusra by taking advantage of alliances it holds with other groups it unilaterally designates as "moderates" (in reality, terrorists with a different name). What the US calls "intermingling", or being "in close proximity" to, is an obscuration of the fact that al-Nusra works closely with "moderate" fighter groups.

Russia requested that the US use its influence on opposition groups to convince them to disassociate from al-Nusra. Russia held off air-strikes against al-Nusra targets, showing patience and exercising diplomacy to provide the US with an opportunity to work with their allies on securing a reality-based separation from al-Nusra.

In recent weeks, it has become clear this approach has not worked, with Sergey Lavrov summing it up correctly in an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda that the US is stalling for time while the terrorists rearm in order to launch fresh attacks.

Plans of the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to give the opposition bigger, more powerful weapons if the ceasefire does not work are well known. This is an open invitation for the opposition to ensure that the ceasefire is derailed, receive their new weapons and re-enter the fray, refreshed and replenished. Among their array of 'goodies' are anti-aircraft artillery, a potential game-changer the opposition will find hard to resist.

Throughout the ceasefire, fighters have been streaming over the border from Turkey, replacing the thousands killed in recent months by the Syrian-led coalition, providing the manpower necessary for multiple fresh offensives which could overstretch the Syrian-led forces and successfully accomplish the apparent aim of regaining lost territory. Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi, talking to Arabic media, reported the inflow of 6,000 terrorists across the Turkish border into the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo in late April.

However, despite fresh recruits from Turkey, the weapons build-up, and provocation in the form of constant ceasefire violations, the Syrian government remains committed to the peace process.

The ceasefire has managed to hold, albeit, at times, by a thread due to the weight of ceasefire violations. Interestingly, the opposition has accused Assad of attempting to derail the peace process by "besieging cities" and "bombing civilians." Lies and manipulation are easier to get away with when your chorus line is near-total support in Western mainstream media. And it's all reinforced by ludicrous statements from Western and Arab leaders who demonize Syria and Russia - the two parties most demonstratively committed to finding a political solution - by blaming them for jeopardising a ceasefire which they themselves are actually in the process of attempting to shatter.


May 12, 2016 - Members of Ahrar al-Sham above their handiwork in Zahraa. "Not terrorists". Protected by the U.S., UK and France.
Al-Nusra and their allies among the "moderates" such as Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam have carried out numerous attacks in the last few months, seeking to provoke retaliatory action, which for the most part has not worked. This has included Jaysh al-Fatah coalition offensives in Aleppo, which previously proved very successful in Idlib, and attacks on several hospitals in Aleppo. The suppression of these hospital bombings and elevation to headline status of another questionable bombing of al-Quds hospital, for which the Syrian Army was blamed, is symptomatic of the shameless misinformation of Western groupthinkistan MSM.

With this strategy largely failing, the time had come to raise the pressure up a notch, and for this only one thing would suffice: civilian massacres. Enter Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra in their massacre of civilians in the town of al-Zara on 12 May. At dawn the terrorist forces attacked the town, killing at least 19 civilians.

Survivors of the massacre recounted harrowing tales:
Speaking to the Syrian TV, one of the survivors said that the armed terrorist groups infiltrated into the town at dawn while its people were sleeping, raided homes and killed children, women and elderly in a brutal manner, adding that terrorists killed his mother and his aunt, kidnapped his uncle and killed his sons.
Two weeks before this massacre, Russia attempted to list Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam as terrorist organisations for their links to al-Nusra and ISIS. If successful, it would have had far-reaching consequences. For a start, it would have disqualified them from the peace negotiations they have worked to destroy. It would have made them a clear target for Russian airstrikes and ground-force attacks. Next it would delegitimise the arming and support from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, who would have no defence for arming listed terrorists. Finally, the problem of having to discern "moderates" from legitimate terrorist targets would have been eliminated to a large degree. The two groups and al-Nusra - the dominant forces in Aleppo and Idlib - would be fair game for extremely effective Russian bombing.

However, true to form, the sponsors of international salafism, hypocritical to the extreme in their laughable claims of waging a war on terrorism, blocked the proposal. As reported by Reuters:
Britain, the United States, France and Ukraine blocked a Russian proposal at the United Nations to blacklist Syrian rebel groups Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham for links to Islamic State and al Qaeda militants, diplomats said on Wednesday.
The justification for the blocking had a hollow ring to it: the US position enunciated by a spokesperson saying it would have damaging consequences for the cessation of hostilities. A Security Council diplomat expanded the position further, telling AFP it would be "seriously counterproductive, damaging both efforts to maintain the cessation of hostilities and resume peace negotiations in Geneva." He argued that isolating the groups from the mainstream opposition would result in a more hard-line stance and drive them away from the search for a political settlement of Syria's five-year civil war.

This was on May 10. Two days later, as if to celebrate, Ahrar al-Sham and al-Nusra carried out their grisly atrocity in al-Zara.

© Syrianfreepress.wordpress.com
One of the victims of the "moderates'" attacks in Aleppo on Friday.
Russia's position was quickly borne out by these subsequent events. Forces which ally with al-Nusra, even if we believe their claims that they only do so from time to time, can't be called moderate, despite what they and their backers say. Nor can we place credence on commonly heard claims that rebel groups have worked with al-Nusra in order to survive or out of wartime necessity. What necessity can there possibly be in the massacre of innocent villagers?

Now, with the latest news of the Black Friday attacks, which claimed the lives of 270 civilians in 24 hours, the ante has been upped well and truly: a full day of terrifying massive shelling with MLRS and mortars by groups including al-Nusra, Ahar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, a true axis of evil, perpetrators of war crimes, an indentical ideology separated only by their different names.

The Russian Ministry of Defence MOD reported the following attacks:
Jaysh al-Islam formations, which had claimed to belong to the opposition, have performed two shellings with mortars and multiple rocket launch systems against al-Asad, Meidan, Halidiya, and Old Aleppo sectors of Aleppo city.

After intensive artillery shelling, Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists and armed formations of Ahrar al-Sham have attacked positions of Kurdish militia and volunteers in Sheikh Maqsood (northern Aleppo). The shelling caused destruction of the police office and several bordering living buildings. More than 40 civilians, policemen and military servicemen were killed, about 100 people were injured.

In the south-west from Aleppo, armed formations (more than 1,000 men) launched offensive on positions of the Syrian Armed Forces near Buraij and military training town located in al-Nasr sector. The attack has been performed from Ansari, which had been controlled by forces of "moderate opposition".
Faced with such barbarity and blatant ceasefire violations, what are the Syrian-led forces to do? Continue to observe a ceasefire manipulated by rebel groups and their foreign sponsors? Is Russia to exercise interminable patience while al-Nusra actively rearms? The MOD reported in the same briefing:
Jabhat al-Nusra has regrouped its forces, replenished armament and ammunitions storages, and launched active warfare having exploited opportunities of the ceasefire regime and locations of "moderate opposition" formations, which had been located in the same regions.
This statement captures the key elements of how the ceasefire is being used as a tool of war by al-Nusra.
  1. Use it to regroup and resupply
  2. Occupy positions with "moderate" forces in order to be protected from attacks
  3. Engage in ceasefire violations in tandem with "moderate" forces
  4. Engage in fresh offensives once sufficiently well reinforced with fighters, weapons and ammunition
US Secretary of State John Kerry has talked of giving the terrorists bigger and better weapons if the ceasefire does not work and the political process is not progressing. He even gave a deadline of 1st August for Bashar al-Assad to start the political transition to an Assad-free government or the US will adopt a new approach to ending the war. This begs the question of who assesses whether or not the progress is sufficient. True to its arrogant nature, this task no doubt is the domain of the US. It also must be asked what right the US has to dictate to the Syrian government and its people.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, not shy in hiding his contempt for Assad, is enthusiastic about the prospect of supplying better weapons to the terrorists, including anti-aircraft missiles. What he is really saying is that Saudi Arabia and its allies are dedicated to this proxy war and have no qualms about supplying terrorists the means to shoot down Russian planes, dangerously escalating this war into apocalyptic territory.

Faced with the defeat of the plan to overrun Syria, remove Assad and install a puppet at the head of the newest US vassal state, the US has moved on to Plan B. The manipulation of the ceasefire as an instrument of war is a component of Plan B. Under this sub-plan the terrorists keep attacking, resulting in the death of 270 civilians, the Saudi-installed High Negotiations Committee delegates make demands they know won't be accepted, then use that as justification to walk out of talks. They do this comfortable in the knowledge this will be spun by mainstream media as the Syrian Army sieging cities and denying humanitarian aid and Russia continuing to bomb and kill civilians. All very neat and tidy. And a big lie.