"Lavrov emphasized that the United States' fulfillment of its obligations to differentiate the moderate opposition groups and terrorists [in Syria] was a priority, as well as a more active influence of regional sides on the the radical groups."It may be true, but it's entirely unrealistic, and that's the point.
Ideally, it would all work out: the U.S. would tell its jihadis to break their alliances with al-Nusra and physically separate themselves. Then, they could abide by the ceasefire, stop fighting, and stop being killed, while Nusra and Daesh are eliminated. On the slim chance that would happen, it would be a win for Syria and Russia, and the U.S. too (at least, for those that realize the current strategy isn't working).
But it hasn't happened, and chances are it never will, because the so-called moderates aren't moderate. They are al-Nusra allies - they hold the same goals and employ the same terror tactics. That's why they have refused to cease fighting, despite the U.S. (allegedly) commanding them to do so. But even then, it's still a win of sorts for Syria and Russia, for it exposes the fact that the so-called moderates are not moderate, and that the U.S. either cannot or will not exert any control over them.
Yesterday saw further proof of this. Four members of the U.S.-founded and -trained "New Syrian Army" surrendered themselves to Daesh and then publicly defected. This is the same group that lost their first big offensive against Daesh after the U.S. failed to provide air cover. Once again, this demonstrates the kind of "moderates" the U.S. supports and trains to destabilize Syria with the ultimate goal of ousting Assad. At worst, it shows possible direct complicity with Daesh, as the recent strike on the Syrian Army at Deir ez-Zor also demonstrated.
At the UN Security Council meeting today, Lavrov didn't go as far as that. But he did state:
It is high time to return to revision of the list of terrorist groups in Syria. ... The leadership of Ahrar al-Sham declared, following the announcement of US-Russia agreement coming into force on September 12, that it would not abide by the agreement since it listed Nusra Front as a terrorist organization, whereas Ahrar al-Sham did not see it as such and actively collaborated with it.The 300+ ceasefire violations from so-called moderates should make that pretty obvious. As for the Deir ez-Zor massacre, Lavrov said:
"The [US-led] coalition's airstrikes on the government forces in Deir ez-Zor on September 16 are a flagrant violation of the cessation of hostilities."Again, that's only the most obvious conclusion to draw, yet even that will fall mostly on deaf ears.
The death toll for the Deir ez-Zor airstrikes is now as high as 83 (reports still vary). Not only that, Turkish newspaper Milli Gazete reports (it's third-hand, via Sputnik, so keep that in mind) that:
"the death toll from the air strike allegedly included at least three Russian intelligence officers, who interrogated captured members of the Daesh terrorist group at a reconnaissance point."If true, that certainly adds a whole other dimension to the attack: both to the Americans' possible motives, and the Russian response.
Remember, the U.S.'s official response (parroted by the Australians, Danes, and Brits) was that they stopped the attack as soon as they heard from the Russians that they were bombing the wrong people. Yet even that part of their narrative was BS, covering up even more deliberate or unintentional incompetence. According to The Hill, when the Russians first tried to contact the Americans at their coordination center, the U.S. official who should've been available to receive the call wasn't available. They had to call back later before reaching anyone. As Jason Ditz writes for AntiWar.com:
The Pentagon dismissed concern about the lapse, saying the contact "wasn't expecting a call" and therefore didn't feel obliged to sit next to the phone. Yet as intense US airstrikes were ongoing, in the middle of a US-Russia negotiated ceasefire, it seems like it wasn't a total shock that a call ended up being made.Worse yet is the attack on the aid convoy on Aleppo. Washington has now publicly accused Russia or Syria of carrying out the "airstrike":
"All of our information indicates clearly that this was an airstrike," White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters. "That means there only could have been two entities responsible — the Syrian regime or the Russian government."What they don't say is that "all their information" is accounts from U.S.-backed jihadis. And, as usual, the U.S. just makes unsubstantiated allegations without providing any evidence. Even the UN is backtracking on the airstrike claims, with spokesman Jens Laerke saying yesterday:
Earlier on Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Ministry expressed outrage at the "flagrant attempts of some foreign backers of armed rebels and terrorists in Syria" to shift blame on the UN convoy to Moscow and Damascus. ... "We are stating with all responsibility that neither Russian or Syrian aircraft carried out airstrikes against the UN humanitarian aid convoy in the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo."
"We are not in a position to determine whether these were in fact airstrikes. We are in a position to say that the convoy was attacked."As quoted yesterday, Konashenkov went further:
"We have closely studied the video footage from where the incident took place and we did not find any signs of any ammunition having hit the convoy. There are no craters, while the vehicles have their chassis intact and they have not been severely damaged, which would have been the case from an airstrike. All of the video footage demonstrates that the convoy caught fire, which strangely happened almost at exactly at the same time as militants started a large-scale offensive on Aleppo."
There are two obvious other entities who could have attacked the convoy: 1) the rebels in whose area the convoy was located, and who were observed accompanying it with heavy weaponry, and 2) the U.S. itself. There's no confirmation as of yet that there even was an airstrike - only the testimony of U.S.-backed jihadis. According to the Russians, a U.S. coalition Predator drone was in the vicinity of the convoy when it was attacked:
"On the evening of September 19, in that specific region, a drone belonging to the international condition, which had taken off from the Incirlik air base in Turkey, was flying at a height of 3,600 meters and traveling at around 200 kilometers per hour," said Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov. "The object was in the area around the town of Urm Al-Kubra, where the convoy was a few minutes before it caught fire," Konashenkov added. "It left after about 30 minutes." ... "Only the owners know what exactly the drone was doing at this particular area at that exact time," he added.In other words, ordinarily they wouldn't release details such as this - data that was presumably collected via Russia's electronic warfare "net" over Syrian airspace. But the unfounded American accusations are compelling the Russians to say, "Not so fast..."
Moscow says it has provided all the data it possesses regarding the attack on the convoy, which was carrying aid to rebel-held areas in Aleppo, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday. "There was another unacceptable provocation on September 19 - the shelling of a humanitarian convoy near Aleppo," he said. "I am confident that such coincidences require serious analysis and an investigation."
"In a statement Konashenkov said Moscow was compelled to disclose the "sensitive details" in response to the accusations made by US deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, who has laid the blame for the attack on the aid convoy on Russia."
"This type of drone can not only monitor the situation, but also guide ground weapons to their targets and inflict surgical airstrikes at objects located on the ground by itself," the Russian spokesman explained.
"Our western colleages are putting their best efforts to hype up the situation and 'blur' the tragedy in Deir ez-Zor and to distract the international community from Al-Nusra's advance on Aleppo and thus cover the US incompetence in distinguishing between the 'moderate' opposition and terrorists in Syria."
In addition to that, today Lavrov pointed out that the Syrians couldn't have been responsible because they only have the capability of flying daytime flights:
"The Syrian aircraft could not have operated [there], because the attack against the convoy was conducted in the night time and the Syrian Air Force does not perform flights in this time; it has no such capabilities."As usual, Zero Hedge is pretty spot on:
The [Russian] ministry emphasized that the perpetrator of the fire, as well as his goal may be known by members of the "White Helmets" organization that has connection to al-Nusra Front terrorists who have "accidentally" been at the right time and in the right place with cameras.Fars News Agency quotes a Syrian military source as saying:
While it is unclear why Russia would bomb a convoy it was filming and which it knew the entire world would be focused on, at least it has provided some footage to validate its statement. We now eagerly await the US "intelligence services" to present their own evidence which confirms that Russia is lying. We doubt that will be provided, and instead this will devolve into yet another instance of fingerpointing and accusatory diplomacy which will achieve nothing but escalate already deadly tensions in the region.
As we concluded this morning, there were two possibilities: either Russia is lying, or it is telling the truth. And since Russia should be able to back up its claims with video footage, the question emerges: did US-coalition forces or US-backed "moderate rebels" belonging to the al-Nusra, stage the attack a UN convoy in the latest "false flag" attempt to shift attention to "Russian aggression", and seek justification to escalate the military campaign against Syria, and its proxy supporter, Russia?
"After the US-led warplanes attacked the Syrian army's military base in Deir Ezzur, the Syrian army has become more resolved not only to fight the terrorists, but also to directly confront the US. ... The Syrian military men have grown so infuriated after the US attack on Deir Ezzur that they plan to strike at the US as soon as they see the slightest aggression."The Syrians are continuing their anti-terrorist offensive in Homs and Hama. In Homs, the air force destroyed military bases and armored vehicles, and a large number of militants in various parts of the province. In Hama, they attacked numerous Nusra positions, with similar results.
Oddly, the UN and U.S. are still saying the ceasefire is "not dead". Really? Since the U.S. is doing nothing to implement it, we can only guess that they want the ceasefire to continue in order to be able to blame the Russians and Syrians for violating it.
Meanwhile, Daesh claims to have downed another Syrian jet near Damascus. This came after the SAA lost contact with a jet flying in the region. The fate of the MiG-23's pilot is presently unknown.
They also released a video of a man, "Yevgeniy Petrenko", claiming to be an FSB captain captured by Daesh, and appealing to Putin for help. In the video, Petrenko wears a badge with the Russian word for "kafir/non-Muslim". As far as we know, Russia doesn't confirm the identities of FSB agents, so it's impossible to know if it's legit - or a stunt pulled by a Russian jihadi in Daesh.
Clearer, perhaps, is the following news. Russia plans to send an aircraft carrier group with the Admiral Kuznetsov cruiser to the Mediterranean Sea (in addition to the six warships and three or four support vessels already there). One-man propaganda outlet "SOHR" reports that 3,000 Russian servicemen have arrived in Aleppo to fight alongside the Syrians, which is unlikely at best. Keep in mind that it comes from the same guy reporting the jihadi accounts of airstrikes on the aid convoy.
NY/NJ would-be bomber: "You continue your [unintelligible] slaught [sic]"
Ahmad Rahami has been charged by the U.S. Justice Department with using 'weapons of mass destruction', bombing, destruction of property, and use of a destructive device. These charges are on top of the 5 counts of attempted murder of police officers made by New Jersey prosecutors. A bag of explosive devices was discovered Sunday night by two homeless men at a train station in Elizabeth, New Jersey, but police are still gathering evidence and no link has been made yet between Rahami and those devices.
While the initial reports of Rahami's diary were sketchy at best - scant details from a source who insisted on anonymity - at least they're running with the story and fleshing it out a bit. Transcribed excerpts (which cannot be verified) were included in the federal court complaint. See the transcribed portions below:
complaint, Rahami's fingerprints were found "from materials contained in the backpack" which contained the IEDs found at the train station in Elizabeth, NJ, as well as on the bomb found on 27th Street in Manhattan. He is also identified as the man seen in surveillance of both bomb sites in Manhattan.
Rahami is said to have used an eBay account under his own name to buy materials used to make the bombs, including citric acid, circuit boards, electric igniters, and ball bearings. A vehicle associated with his address was seen traveling into and out of Manhattan, before and after the explosion. This is the same vehicle that was stopped by police on September 18; the five occupants included some of Rahami's relatives. The two telephones used were bought at a store located 500 meters away from Rahami's residence, and one of the phones was registered to a family member of Rahami.
The email account associated with the phone uses the same username (Yaafghankid786) as a social media account which had "favorited" two jihadi song videos (e.g., "best jihad nasheed"), and a video found on one of his family members' phones contained a video of Rahami igniting incendiary material in a cylindrical container via a fuse.
Rahami's wife has been located in the UAE and is reportedly cooperating with investigators.
The two New York men that found the unattended bag with the pressure cooker bomb inside are believed to have been merely opportunistic thieves and not part of the bomb plot, which prompted a police source to tell DNAinfo:
Who indeed. Police say they are still looking for them for questioning.
"Who in this world finds a pressure cooker with a phone and just takes the bag?"