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Sat, 25 Feb 2017
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U.S.'s confused Syria strategy pushes Erdogan to flip-flog again

© www.globallookpress.com
There are two new developments on the Syrian front. The Islamic State suddenly changed its tactic and the Turkish President Erdogan again changed his policy course.

In the last 24 hours news announcements about victories against the Islamic state (ISIS) rapidly followed each other:
  • The Kurdish U.S. proxy forces in east Syria (SDF) announced that it had reached the northern bank of the Euphrates between Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. This cuts the ISIS communication line between the two cities.
  • Turkish forces and their "Syrian rebel" mercenaries have been attacking Al-Bab east of Aleppo for nearly four months. They made little progress and incurred huge losses. Late yesterday they suddenly broke into the city and today took control of it. Various sources claim that a deal was made between the Turkish forces and ISIS for the later to evacuate Al-Bab unharmed and with its personal weapons. It is not yet known what price Turkey paid in that deal.
  • South of Al-Bab the Syrian Army is moving further east towards the Euphrates and took several villages from ISIS. The Syrian move is largely designed to cut the roads between the Turkish forces around Al-Bab and the Islamic State forces in Raqqa.
  • Further south another Syrian Army group is moving east towards Palmyra.
  • In the eastern city of Deir Ezzor the Syrian army garrison is under siege by Islamic State forces. A few weeks ago the situation there looked very dire. But with reinforcements coming in by helicopter and massive Russian air force interdiction the position held out quite well. In recent days the defenders took several hills from a retreating ISIS.
  • In Iraq the army, police and the various government militia are pushing towards south Mosul. Today the airport south of the city fell into their hands with little fighting. Like everywhere else ISIS had stopped its resistance and pulled back. Only a few rearguards offered tepid resistance.
While ISIS was under pressure everywhere the sudden retreat on all fronts during the last 24 hours is astonishing and suggest some synchronicity. A central order must have been given to pull back to the buildup areas of Raqqa in Syria and south Mosul in Iraq.

Comment: Trump signed an executive order back on January 28 giving the Pentagon 30 days to come up with a plan to defeat ISIS. It has been 26 days. If the Pentagon has been merely carrying on as usual for that time, Erdogan may be in for another surprise if the new plan actually turns out to be new, and not just a rehash of Obama policy. On the other hand, if they don't come up with anything new, as MoA points out above, the incompatible objectives between all the main players will continue to cause nothing but trouble.


DPR says Ukraine has bombarded 14 Donbass towns 706 times in 24 hours

© RusVesna.su
Ukrainian Armed Forces
Over the past 24 hours, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have opened fire from heavy artillery, mortars, and anti-aircraft guns more than 700 times on the frontline territories of the Donetsk People's Republics. This has been reported by the deputy commander of the DPR's operative command, Eduard Basurin.

"The Ukrainian side has 'congratulated' our republic by shelling with the use of prohibited weapons. Over the past 24 hours, the armed forces of Ukraine have shelled the territory of the DPR 706 times," Basurin announced.

The DPR commander continued: "Six times they used heavy artillery of 152mm caliber, mortars of various calibers 185 times, infantry fighting vehicles 78 times, anti-aircraft guns, grenade launchers, and small arms 437 times."

Comment: See also:


UN uses tweets from Western propaganda outlet Bellingcat and White Helmets mercenaries as evidence of chemical weapon use in Syria

Twitter. The most trusted name in news
U.N. mediator Staffan de Mistura has already declared that no breakthroughs are expected in Geneva tomorrow, but that hasn't stopped western NGOs — and now the United Nations itself — from driving another nail into the coffin of a Syrian peace settlement. Oh well, we can always dream.

We have hit rock bottom, friends. The U.N.'s Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Mission in the Syrian Arab Republic recently released a report on allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Buckle in for something very, very sad:

Yes, that is Ole Solvang, deputy emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, parading around a U.N. report which cites a long list of twitter posts and wordpress blogs as evidence of Assad's mass atrocities. (And that is a rare Twitter hero below him, pointing out the BS.)


The chickens have come home to roost - US Deep State so powerful now it can manipulate the presidency

Last week, The Wall Street Journal revealed that members of the intelligence community — part of the deep state, the unseen government within the government that does not change with elections — now have acquired so much data on everyone in America that they can selectively reveal it to reward their friends and harm their foes. Their principal foe today is the president of the United States.

Liberty is rarely lost overnight. The wall of tyranny often begins with benign building blocks of safety — each one lying on top of a predecessor — eventually collectively constituting an impediment to the exercise of free choices by free people, often not even recognized until it is too late.


Arizona Senate passes bill to seize assets of protesters who participate in 'violent' protests, authorizes prosecution of organizers

© TheDustyRebel/Facebook
Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.

SB1142 expands the state's racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.

But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what's worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side.

Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, acknowledged that sometimes what's planned as a peaceful demonstration can go south.

"When people want to express themselves as a group during a time of turmoil, during a time of controversy, during a time of high emotions, that's exactly when people gather as a community,'' he said. "Sometimes they yell, sometimes they scream, sometimes they do go too far.''

Quezada said, though, that everything that constitutes rioting already is a crime, ranging from assault to criminal damage, and those responsible can be individually prosecuted. He said the purpose of this bill appears to be designed to chill the First Amendment rights of people to decide to demonstrate in the first place for fear something could wrong.

Comment: And yet, when officers are charged with police brutality or wrongful murder and families settle for millions, that money comes from the taxpayers instead of police pension funds or personal assets.

Eye 1

US troops assault on Mosul, some have been wounded - Pentagon

© @CJTFOIR / Twitter
While nominally operating as military advisers to the Iraqi forces, the US servicemen taking part in the assault on Mosul have been involved in front-line fighting and an undisclosed number have suffered battle injuries, according to military officials.

US soldiers "have come under fire at different times, they have returned fire at different times in and around Mosul," said Air Force Colonel John Dorrian, the Baghdad-based spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led coalition fighting against the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

"When someone is shooting at you, that is combat. Yes. That has happened," Dorrian said during a press briefing via video link on Tuesday, when asked by Washington-based journalists to clarify if that meant that US troops were actually fighting.

President Barack Obama returned a small contingent of US troops to Iraq in 2014, on the promise that they would avoid direct combat. There are currently 450 conventional soldiers and a classified number of special operators embedded with elite Iraqi forces around Mosul, calling in airstrikes, training troops, and helping with battle tactics.

Despite an announcement by a senior US Army official this week that US servicemen would be embedded closer to the theater of operations, Dorrian said that US troops were still staying out of danger.

Comment: See also: US-backed Iraqi forces advance on ISIS-held areas of Mosul as 750,000 civilians remain trapped

Eye 1

Just do it! Neo-Nazi leader vows to dissolve Rada and dethrone Poroshenko

Andriy Biletsky standing in front of his favorite Nazi runes.
If Biletsky and his Azov hordes actually managed to push Poroshenko out, the comical narrative of a progressive, democratic, forward-thinking Ukraine instantly implodes. Do it!

Andriy Biletsky is a third-rate Nazi.

Of course, he is a member of the Rada (Ukrainian Parliament), and he does have his own punitive battalion. But in general, he doesn't do much aside from issue strongly-worded Facebook updates about the dangers of interracial marriage. Meanwhile, his armed Azov goons continue to burn, rape and pillage. Who is doing the heavy lifting in this relationship?

Snakes in Suits

More, more sanctions! Poroshenko going mad asking for more pressure against Russia

© REUTERS/ Michael Dalder
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who recently returned from a disastrous trip to Germany for the Munich Security Conference, is now meeting with US and European officials, trying to get them to ramp up sanctions against Russia. Fortunately, Ukraine expert Rostislav Ishchenko says, Western leaders aren't buying the rhetoric coming out of Kiev.

Last week, the Ukrainian president made a speech at the Munich Security Conference, warning against "obsessive calls" by some Western leaders not to "appease" Russia. Unfortunately for Poroshenko, Russian observers monitoring the conference pointed out that his speech aside, most conference attendees only mentioned Russia in passing, if at all, and balanced any grievances with statements about readiness for dialogue.

Ignored in Munich, the president returned home, changing tack and deciding to try to pressure Kiev's Western partners on a one-on-one basis.


US-backed Iraqi forces advance on ISIS-held areas of Mosul as 750,000 civilians remain trapped

© Alaa Al-Marjani / Reuters
CTS troops advance towards Ghozlani military complex, south of Mosul, Iraq February 23, 2017.
US-backed Iraqi troops have retaken Mosul's airport from Islamic State and stormed a military base in a bid to enter the militant-held western part of the densely-populated city, where up 750,000 civilians are now trapped.

"The Rapid Response Forces and federal police are fully in control of the airport of Mosul," state television said in a flash on its screen on Thursday afternoon, Reuters reported.

Attacking from the south, Iraqi forces reached the Ghazlani base near the airport in southwestern Mosul on Thursday morning, two special forces officers told AP, adding that there was fierce fighting going on between the Iraqi military and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants near the besieged facility.

Eye 1

Draconian legislation in UK leaves whistleblowers unprotected

© Silas Stein / www.globallookpress.com
Protections for whistleblowers have become "ineffective" in the digital era thanks to stricter laws governing those attempting to leak national security information, a new study reveals.

According to research by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) at the University of London, journalists receiving information from whistleblowers find it increasingly difficult to maintain their sources' anonymity because of the major interception of phone and online activities.

The study follows a proposal earlier this month to significantly increase prison sentences for those found leaking official information.

"Legal protections [for whistleblowers] have become ineffective," the report Protecting Sources and Whistleblowers in a Digital Age said.

"If covert powers are used, a journalist and a source will not know this has occurred - intrusion may become apparent only if the material is used in legal proceedings."