Mon, 17 Oct 2016 00:58 UTC
RT: John Kerry has come out and put the blame squarely on just Russia. Do you think it's a fair comment?
Richard Black: No, I don't. The fact is when he gave that speech, he was sitting next to Saudi Foreign Minister al-Jubeir, and Saudi Arabia has funded ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and Al-Nusra - which is Al-Qaeda in Syria, a coordinating group within the Aleppo pocket in East Aleppo.
They have forbidden the civilians from leaving, using the civilians as a human shield, because they know that it forces Syria and Russia to be much more cautious with the bombing. You know, the hyperbolic language used by Secretary Kerry is really outrageous, because the United Nations Office of Human Affairs announced that in the two weeks between September 23 and October 8, there have been about 406 civilians killed.
No one wants any civilians killed, but I've got to tell you, if you compare that to the American casualty figures during our invasion of Iraq, during that first year period, we killed approximately 100,000 civilians. So you're talking about 406 versus 100,000. Frankly, I don't know whether they taught arithmetic at Yale University, but Secretary Kerry, his rhetoric is terribly overblown.
There's no doubt that the civilians are being killed in the east, there are significant numbers being killed in the west, and the civilians killed in the west are being deliberately killed and deliberately targeted as civilians. Whereas those in the east are simply being killed because they happen to be on the battlefield.
The combatants who are holding out in east Aleppo are financed and controlled by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and the United States. These powers have the ability to pressure the rebels to, say, get the civilians off the battlefield. Syria has allowed seven exit points, and made it very clear that they will care for, give medical attention, food, housing to all civilians who leave. It is what I call the axis power, the axis of evil - Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar. These are the people who are holding the civilians as human hostages, so that they can force Syria and Russia to take additional casualties as they conquer this final pocket of rebels within Aleppo.
RT: As you mentioned, Senator, it's civilian deaths on the both sides of Aleppo, which is kind of split into these two areas. Is John Kerry just being willfully ignorant, while putting all the blame on one side, or is he, let's say, just flat out lying about who's to blame there?
RB: Secretary Kerry does not have a strong reputation for truthfulness. So I think the things that he says should never be taken at face value. You really need to look at the facts on the ground. And the facts on the ground show that there is no deliberate targeting of civilians by either Russia or by Syria, that in fact they are taking extraordinary pains.
I would tell you, I was a forward air controller in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Regiment, dropped probably 100 tons of bombs easily, thousands of bombs. And I'm sure that I killed many civilians. I never intended to kill a single civilian.
But it is a fact of warfare. When the enemy chooses to fight in urban areas, there are going to be civilians killed - unless those forces tell the civilians to leave. And civilians can leave quite safely. In fact, a group of them tried earlier, after Syria announced free passage and the rebels murdered 26 of them because they will not allow any of them to leave. That's not Russia's fault, and that's not Syria's fault. It is the rebels' fault primarily.
But at the same time, you can't discard the paymasters for the rebels. Who pays ISIS, who pays Al-Qaeda in East Aleppo? They are paid for by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, by the United States, by NATO. These are the people that fund these terrorists, they have got a tremendous investment, and this is why you're hearing this panicking, hyperbolic language that compares, for goodness sake, Aleppo with the battle for Berlin, where there were, you know, 1.25 million people who died in the battle for Berlin. Give me a break. There's not anywhere even close to that number of civilians even who exist in east Aleppo.
I think the whole thing is a propaganda ploy, I think there's a sense of desperation that the rebels - the terrorists we have been supporting to try to topple the government - are on their last leg there. And I think diplomatically they are trying to give them every bit of assistance there.
RT: Why do you think the US is assisting Al-Nusra? Why does the US say thousands of terrorists are an "insignificant presence?"
RB: First of all, I think, the numbers that they give are not credible. The heart and soul of the Army of Conquest is Al-Nusra, which is Al-Qaeda in Syria. The Army of Conquest was set up by Saudi Arabia and Turkey, they have joint command headquarters in Idlib, Syria, and they command the whole operation in east Aleppo. If Saudi Arabai and Turkey gave order that the civilians were to leave, then the civilians would be allowed to leave, they would be welcomed by the Syrian government and be cared for.
In fact, President Assad has guaranteed two things. First, if there are rebel soldiers who want to lay down their arms, they will be processed and they will be treated very humanely and reintegrated into Syrian life. On the other hand, where you have the die-hard fanatics of Al-Nusra and ISIS, then those people will be allowed to leave with their weapons and they will be guaranteed safe passage, just as Syria has done previously with rebels who have been leaving the Damascus area.
This is a situation totally under the control of the United States, and particularly, more particularly, under Saudi Arabia and Turkey. They can remove the civilians from east Aleppo at will safely, without any of them being put to risk, but they want to use them as human shields, and that's why they have ordered the rebels and terrorists in east Aleppo to prevent any of them from leaving at the seven departure points that have been provided by the Syrian government for them to leave in safety.
RT: The latest comments by John Kerry, blaming Russia for the situation in Aleppo, follows threats of new sanctions against Russia. Russia has been invited into Syria by the elected government, and the US is intervening without any invitation or permission. Isn't it a strong case to argue that these sanctions should be against the US?
RB: First of all, when you look at the law of land warfare, any sovereign nation can invite another nation to come in and assist. So clearly what Russia's doing is on absolutely sound legal foundation. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the NATO states - especially the United States, France, Great Britain - have hired terrorists from across the globe, mercenaries to enter and to slaughter and to kill people throughout Syria. You cannot indirectly do what the laws of war prevent you from doing directly. You cannot directly intervene into another nation's internal affairs as they all have done, and you certainly cannot land troops there. The United States has boots on the ground in Syria, they do various things. And, God bless them, I love all of our troops, I've been there myself, but I think their leadership is utterly depraved and immoral in what they are doing in Syria. And I think their ultimate objective in Syria is to hand it over to a Wahhabi dominated caliphate, and it will be one of the greatest mass slaughters in all history if they'll be able to topple the Syrian government, which I don't think they'll be able to do.