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Wednesday, October 7

One night in 2012 the Devil came calling in Syria. Islamic State's mastermind designed it to be a police state, not an Islamic one.

When the men later learned who they had killed, they searched the house, gathering up computers, passports, mobile phone SIM cards, a GPS device and, most importantly, papers. They didn't find a Koran anywhere.
Haji Bakr's state continued to work even without its creator. Just how precisely his plans were implemented -- point by point -- is confirmed by the discovery of another file. When IS was forced to rapidly abandon its headquarters in Aleppo in January 2014, they tried to burn their archive, but they ran into a problem similar to that confronted by the East German secret police 25 years earlier: They had too many files.

On February 24, 2015 The Atlantic, an American magazine that had been in existence for more than 150 years, published in its March issue an investigative report by a man named Graeme Wood on the 'real' Islamic State. His investigation was based on conversations with IS members. The report was titled What ISIS really wants: "The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse."

The report created a sensation and immediately became the subject of scholarly debates in the USA and around the world about Islam; trouble was, it was nonsense, although Wood and the Atlantic editors had no way of knowing this until April 18. 

That was when the German news magazine SPIEGEL, having finished lengthy and probably very expensive negotiations to obtain a cache of papers that showed how Islamic State was conceived, set up, and administered, published Secret Files Reveal the Structure of Islamic State. Beautifully written by Christoph Reuter in almost novelistic fashion, the report tells a campfire tale for our era.  

The cache reveals how it's theoretically possible to subjugate all of humanity using low-tech tactics that are the basis of every police state. Yet if the papers had been obtained by say, an American or British publication, it's unlikely the editors would have been able to tell the story the way it needed to be told -- from the viewpoint of people with memories of what life under a totalitarian police state is really like.
True to Haji Bakr's plan, the phase of infiltration was followed by the elimination of every person who might have been a potential leader or opponent. The first person hit was the head of the city council, who was kidnapped in mid-May 2013 by masked men.
The next person to disappear was the brother of a prominent novelist. Two days later, the man who had led the group that painted a revolutionary flag on the city walls vanished.
"We had an idea who kidnapped him," one of his friends explains, "but no one dared any longer to do anything." The system of fear began to take hold. Starting in July, first dozens and then hundreds of people disappeared.

Sometimes their bodies were found, but they usually disappeared without a trace. In August, the IS military leadership dispatched several cars driven by suicide bombers to the headquarters of the FSA brigade, the "Grandsons of the Prophet," killing dozens of fighters and leading the rest to flee. The other rebels merely looked on.

IS leadership had spun a web of secret deals with the brigades so that each thought it was only the others who might be the targets of IS attacks.

Reuter doesn't specify whether Haji Bakr first arrived in Syria in the daytime or at night, but I figure someone also known as "The Lord of the Shadows" would have arrived by night.


Tuesday, October 6

3,000 terrorists flee Syria for Jordan; 20 Islamic State tanks near Palmyra destroyed

The Russians also took out about 10 other military vehicles and 3 rocket launchers in the air strike near the ancient city of Palmyra. Meanwhile, the Syrian army destroyed two IS convoys near Palmyra.

Two reports from RT:

3,000 terrorists leave Syria following Russian airstrikes – military source
Published time: 5 Oct, 2015 22:13

Edited time: 6 Oct, 2015 09:31

An estimated 3,000 Islamic State fighters as well as militants from other extremist groups have fled Syria for Jordan fearing a renewed offensive by the Syrian army in addition to Russian airstrikes, a military official has told RIA news agency.

“At least 3,000 militants from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), al-Nusra and Jaish al-Yarmouk have fled to Jordan. They are afraid of the Syrian army having stepped up activities on all fronts and of Russian airstrikes,” the RIA source said.

The official added that on Sunday the Syrian army had carried out a number of attacks on Islamic State and al-Nusra fighters on the outskirts of Damascus as well as in the provinces of Deir ez-Zor and Homs.

In Deir ez-Zor, 160 militants were killed in an army assault that aimed at driving extremists away from several settlements.

In the province of Homs, the army destroyed two IS convoys near the city of Palmyra and 17 terrorists were reported killed in an artillery barrage.

Syrian artillery also attacked several extremist groups, including al-Nusra, in the province of Homs where, according to the military source, a conflict between Syrian and foreign fighters erupted. Syrian militants insisted on retreating from a number of settlements fearing a large-scale offensive by the Syrian army and Russian airstrikes, while the foreigners refused to withdraw.


Russian Air Force destroys 20 ISIS tanks near Palmyra – Defense Ministry (VIDEOS)
Published time: 5 Oct, 2015 21:23
Edited time: 6 Oct, 2015 09:26

Russia’s Sukhoi jets flew 15 sorties over Syria on Monday striking 10 Islamic State targets in various regions, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry. 20 tanks and 3 rocket launchers in Homs province near embattled Palmyra were destroyed,

“During the day, Sukhoi-34, Sukhoi-24M and Sukhoi-25 warplanes flew a total of 15 sorties from the Khmeimim airbase. Air strikes were delivered at ten targets of the Islamic State [IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL] group in Syria,” Igor Konashenkov, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman said in a statement on Monday.

A pair of Su-25Ms (NATO reporting name: Frogfoot) together with an Su-24 (NATO reporting name: Fencer) carried out strikes on two IS targets in the eastern part of Homs province near the city of Tadmur, he said.

“About 20 units of medium T-55 tanks, which were earlier seized by the militants from the Syrian army, have been destroyed [in the strikes],” as well as three multiple rocket launchers, he noted.

A video released by the ministry also showed a strike against an IS ammunition depot in Homs. The ministry explained: “Bright flashes confirm detonation of munitions caused by direct hits of air bombs. Thick smoke provides evidence of fire in the depot.”

The city Tadmur is located in an oasis in the middle of the Syrian Desert and stands about half a kilometer northeast of the ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra. The UNESCO protected cultural site was captured by IS in May. They have been gradually destroying archeological artifacts and structures since seizing the ancient city. On Sunday they blew up the Arch of Triumph, a centerpiece of the ancient ruins.

READ MORE: ISIS terrorists blow up iconic 2,000yo Arch of Triumph in Palmyra

US Central Command reported on Monday that the US-led coalition had conducted airstrikes near Palmyra with “inconclusive results.”

Russian Su-34 bombers destroyed IS headquarters and a command post in the Aleppo province, Konashenkov said on Monday, adding that there had been “direct hits” on structures housing field commanders in Dayr Hafir and al-Bab.

Some 30 IS military vehicles including tanks were destroyed in the forested area near the city of Idlib in northwest Syria, according to the ministry.

“We have irrefutable intelligence, including [intercepted] communications between the militants in the area, [proving] the destruction and damage of the terrorists’ armored vehicles,” Konashenkov said.


Two more RT reports:

RT fact checks 4 media fails on Russia’s anti-ISIS op in Syria

Turkey says ‘no tension’ after Russian airspace violation mistake, NATO cries foul


Iraq paramilitary chief: Baghdad asked for Russian help because US coalition not serious about fighting Islamic State

The chief's remarks were met with a sharp retort from an American spokesman, who cited the amount of money the US had spent to train and arm Iraq forces to fight Islamic State during the past year. This ignored the chief's key argument. From the AFP report that cited the remarks:
They [IS - Daesh] are currently recruiting fighters from 108 countries in the world and all of them are going through Turkey, with the [US] coalition's knowledge.  
We told America, "If you are serious about fighting Daesh, you have to stop those arrivals, which are wreaking carnage and destruction on Syria and Iraq."
Yes. What use is it to spend billions to train and equip fighters when one of your allies leaves the door wide open for the enemy?  This is expecting the Iraqis to empty the ocean with a sieve.

It's as nutty as the U.S. asking Russian help to fight Islamic State in Iraq but telling them not to fight Islamic State in Syria.

The problem for the United States: people in that part of the world don't interpret the contradictory actions as nuts. They peg them as a deliberate strategy to destroy their countries and give victory to Islamic State mercenaries and their backers -- Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. Who just so happen to be part of the very ill-defined U.S. coalition to fight Islamic State.

To give an analogy for the American readers at Yahoo News, which carried the AFP report: imagine waves of troops from the Axis Powers in World War II constantly coming across the U.S. southern border -- troops endlessly equipped through a rat line that ran from say, Brazil up to Texas.

It's only a rough analogy because the USA wasn't a weak state facing very powerful states when it went into the second world war. But in essence that's what Syria is going through. That's what Iraq is going through. That's also what Afghanistan is going through.   

And it's all being done through proxy -- the hiring and equipping of mercenary armies -- so the predatory states don't have to answer to the United Nations or anyone else about staging invasions to conquer countries.    

In the face of this kind of onslaught, "train and equip" doesn't work out to a viable defense.

Also, for the benefit of those Americans whose reaction to the chief's criticism was to call Iraqi troops cowards for running from Islamic State:  the chief, Hadi al-Ameri, is one of the top leaders of Iraq's Popular Mobilisation paramilitary organization.
Ameri is a key MP in the Badr movement, a Tehran-backed Shiite party which also has a powerful military wing.
So they're not part of the Iraqi military, and I doubt they run from Islamic State or anyone else.

For readers who are just learning that both Baghdad's government and the American one asked Russia for help in fighting Islamic State in Iraq, much information about the Syria-Iraqi conflicts with Islamic State has been suppressed for many months -- even years, in the case of Russia's assistance to Syria. But during the past couple weeks, some people have become downright chatterboxes.

Just yesterday the White House leaked that it had been using the CIA to support various "moderate rebel" groups to fight in Syria. While this had been an open secret for many months, it was the first time the U.S. acknowledged the covert CIA help and named specific groups it was supporting.

And Yossef Bodansky's exhaustively detailed September 25 report, Memo to the West: Moscow’s increasing role in Syria and against the jihadist threat since 2012, reveals the true history of Russia's involvement in Syria's war against the terror armies and in related situations. Usually his analyses are behind a paywall but he shared the report with the public.   

Much in the history would be a complete surprise to the vast majority of Americans. For example, Seffy mentioned almost in passing that Russia intervention, which the Obama Administration requested, helped prevent the fall of Baghdad to Islamic State.

(I would bet that by now everybody who is anybody in the global 'intelligence community' has read the report from this highly respected intelligence analyst.)

So it's 9/11 all over again: Americans are again having to learn the hard way what's actually going on in the world that's of life-or-death importance to them. And it's going to keep being 9/11 all over again, until our government changes its ways and its choice of allies.

I will close with more grim observations from al-Ameri:
"There are some who try to contain Daesh but not really eliminate them and prevent those fighters from returning to Europe, which is where they came from. This lack of seriousness of the international coalition made us change tack. Russia is moving in a very serious way against Daesh."

... Ameri said IS's ability to recruit internationally was unprecedented in the history of terrorism
That, from a man who looks battle-hardened to me. 

Hadi al-Ameri

Monday, October 5

Obama regime finally admits CIA is backing some "rebel" groups in Syria

This is such a surprising development that I'm not sure the acknowledgment, published this evening in the Wall Street Journal, came directly from the White House. The report only quotes those pesky "unnamed officials" and "senior unnamed officials" whose utterances litter news reports that leak information on behalf of a U.S. Administration, which, finally, can be termed a "regime" on account it's a big no-no for a government to admit to the public it's sponsoring terrorists or terrorist-affiliated groups that it insists on calling "moderate rebels."

The really interesting part of the report, as Long War Journal pointed out during its Monday night report for the John Batchelor Show, is that it actually names groups being sponsored by the CIA -- although maybe not all the groups. 

If the Obama regime's sudden forthrightness is perplexing, I already explained earlier today that U.S. defense policy is overseen by a small group of women in the White House -- one of which I think is Obama's mother-in-law -- whose knowledge of war strategy is solely derived from lessons learned in a Bingo parlor in Maryland. 

Now what strategy can be discerned from coming right out and saying you're sponsoring terrorists you insist on calling moderate rebels?  

Well perhaps it's to shore up Assad's oft-repeated claims that the United States is sponsoring terrorist groups in Syria. Sort of a way to rehabilitate his image, so Obama can back away from insisting that Assad has to go in order to bring peace to Syria. 

All right, Pundita, that's enough beating up on Obama for one day.   

The podcast of LWJ's report tonight is here.  Plenty about Afghanistan in the report as well. By the way they mentioned that Islamic State had captured TOWs in Iraq, so not all of the ones that fell into IS hands in Iraq were from the Saudis with the Obama regime's tacit encouragement. Pundita. Enough.

Wait, just one comment on the WSJ report before I turn over the podium, from a WSJ reader named Jerome Ogden:
If I read the word “moderate” attached to any Syrian terrorist group one more time in the WSJ, I am going to write a strongly worded letter to the editor.
Al Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, is what prison gangs call the “shot-caller” with command over all the militias facing Assad. Our handful of CIA-funded terrorists follow Nusra’s orders or are killed. WSJ dances around this with carefully evasive phrases like “a parallel campaign by larger radical groups” and “units backed by the CIA and its spy-service allies,” both meaning Nusra, backed by Saudi and Qatari intelligence.
It’s obvious why these circumlocutions must be used. If the American people knew that the Russians were bombing Al-Qaeda, who killed 3,000 of their countrymen on 9/11, they would be cheering on the Russians with unbounded enthusiasm, as I am right now.
My sentiments exactly. All right, Pundita, enough!  Enough!  See this is the problem with having your alter ego write for the public. Pretty soon you're the one wearing the toebells and holding the cue cards.    
U.S. Sees Russian Drive Against CIA-backed Rebels
By Adam Entous
Oct. 5, 2015 - 7:38 p.m. EDT
The Wall Street Journal

White House noncommittal about coming to aid of its allies

Russia has targeted Syrian rebel groups backed by the Central Intelligence Agency in a string of airstrikes running for days, leading the U.S. to conclude that it is an intentional effort by Moscow, American officials said.

The assessment, which is shared by commanders on the ground, has deepened U.S. anger at Moscow and sparked a debate within the administration over how the U.S. can come to the aid of its proxy forces without getting sucked deeper into a proxy war that President Barack Obama says he doesn’t want. The White House has so far been noncommittal about coming to the aid of CIA-backed rebels, wary of taking steps that could trigger a broader conflict.

U.S. officials said Russia’s targeting of its allies on the ground was a direct challenge to Mr. Obama’s Syria policy. Underlining the distrust, the Pentagon decided against sharing any information with Moscow about the areas where U.S. allies were located because it suspected Russia would use that information to target them more directly or provide the information to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“On day one, you can say it was a one-time mistake,” a senior U.S. official said of Russia’s strike on one of the allied rebel group’s headquarters. “But on day three and day four, there’s no question it’s intentional. They know what they’re hitting.”

U.S. officials say they now believe the Russians have been directly targeting CIA-backed rebel groups that pose the most direct threat to Mr. Assad since the campaign began on Wednesday, both to firm up regime positions and to send a message to Mr. Obama’s administration.

Russian officials said last week that they had launched the air campaign in Syria to fight the extremist group Islamic State and other terrorists—adopting the language that the Syrian regime uses to refer to all its opponents. U.S. intelligence officials said the primary mission of the operation appeared to be shoring up the Assad regime and preventing rebels gaining any additional ground on government-controlled areas, rather than fighting Islamic State.

A spokesman for Russia’s Embassy in Washington said: “Foreign MinisterSergei Lavrov has made it clear on multiple occasions that the airstrikes are targeted at ISIL [Islamic State], Nusra, and other terrorist groups.”

Top Russian officials, including Mr. Putin, have described the current campaign as limited to airstrikes. But Adm. Vladimir Komoyedov, the head of the defense committee of Russia’s lower house of parliament, said he couldn’t rule out that Russian “volunteers” might surface in Syria, much as they did in Ukraine on the side of separatists, according to state news agency Interfax.

After one group backed by a CIA-led coalition was hit, U.S. officials couldn’t agree on whether Russia was targeting U.S.-trained fighters intentionally or whether it was making no distinction between the many anti-Assad rebel groups. By the second day of strikes, however, U.S. officials said they concluded that Russia was zeroing in on CIA-backed groups across a wide swath of the country’s west.

One of Russia’s first targets was a CIA-backed group known as Tajamu al-Ezzeh or the Ezzeh Gathering in Hama province in central Syria, U.S. and rebel officials said.

The first strike on the group came at 9 a.m. on Sept. 30, catching its fighters off guard. Seventeen more strikes were launched against the group over the first three days of the Russian campaign, injuring 25 of Ezzeh’s fighters. Some of the injured had received CIA training, according to their commander, Maj. Jameel al-Salih. Four strikes on the first day targeted Ezzeh’s headquarters.

American officials and the allied commanders said several other rebel groups covertly backed by the U.S. and its coalition allies have also been targeted by the Russians. They include the First Coastal Division, whose base in northern Latakia province near the Turkish border was struck twice on Oct. 2 starting at 9:45 p.m., according to the group’s commander, Capt. Muhammad Haj Ali.

The Obama administration briefly considered asking the Russians to avoid certain areas inside Syria held by moderate opposition rebels, officials said. But they set aside the idea when it became evident the Russians could use the information to more directly target America’s allies.

There have long been skeptics within the Obama administration and the Congress about the CIA’s arm-and-train program in Syria, reflecting doubts in both branches of government about the ability and the wisdom of trying to build an anti-Assad army from scratch.

Mr. Obama initially balked at proposals in 2012 to provide arms to rebels in Syria fighting the Assad regime. Aides said Mr. Obama was wary of a slippery slope that could draw the U.S. into another Middle East war.

In early 2013, under pressure from Gulf allies, the president authorized a covert CIA program to gradually build a moderate force strong enough to put military pressure on Mr. Assad and those around him. That pressure would, in theory, force the regime to accept a diplomatic solution, the administration told Congress. Even some senior CIA officials, however, didn’t sound confident it would work soon, lawmakers recalled.

Initially, CIA-backed rebels made little headway. Last year, the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, attacked some of the units in northern Syria and seized their weapons, prompting the CIA to scale back that part of the program.

CIA-backed rebels in southern Syria and near the capital Damascus fared better. CIA-backed rebel groups gradually regained footholds in northern Syria and, combined with a parallel campaign by larger radical groups, began to increase pressure on Mr. Assad, U.S. officials said.

U.S. officials said this pressure shook the Assad regime’s confidence in its ability to protect its coastal strongholds including Latakia province, and spurred Russia’s muscular military intervention on Mr. Assad’s behalf.

U.S. officials say they believe the Syrian regime has been handing targeting information to Russia, and considers units backed by the CIA and its spy-service allies to be high-priority targets. One reason is their possession of advanced TOW antitank weapons supplied under the CIA program.

Members of the brigades said in interviews they believed they were being targeted by the Russians to weaken the moderates, without whom the West would have to accept Mr. Assad’s continued rule. The other rebel groups on the battlefield are too radical for the West to work with, they said.

U.S. officials and rebel leaders said the White House thus far has taken no tangible steps to offer the groups support.

Capt. Haj Ali said coalition officials, with whom he spoke after the Oct. 2 strike, offered condolences but little in the way of concrete support. Maj. Salih, asked whether he received any promises of support after his group was repeatedly attacked, said: “There is nothing specific.”

Administration officials said they are looking at options to continue to support the moderate opposition. But the officials added that Mr. Obama neither wants a proxy war with Russia nor to let Moscow distract the U.S. from its fight against Islamic State.

The Pentagon, which is trying to stand up a parallel training program to the CIA’s operation, has pledged to defend its rebels should they come under attack from the Assad regime. The Pentagon program is designed to go after Islamic State exclusively. The same level of protection hasn’t been extended to groups supported covertly by the CIA, officials said.

Absent U.S. support, rebel leaders say they would need heavier weapons, including Man-portable air-defense systems, or Manpads, to shoot down Russian aircraft.

The White House has succeeded at keeping Manpads out of Syria since the start of the war because of concerns they could fall into the wrong hands and be used against commercial aircraft in the region and beyond. Some U.S. allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia, have proposed introducing them in the past in a limited way, but the U.S. objected, according to U.S. and Gulf officials.

U.S. officials said Russian attacks could make it harder for the White House to keep antiaircraft weapons out of Syria in the future because rebel groups, left to struggle on their own, may reach outside of approved U.S.-backed channels for supplies.

“These groups are talking about the possibility of introducing Manpads in an uncontrolled way into areas where al Qaeda operates to respond to the Russians since we won’t respond,” said a senior U.S. official. “That’s the nightmare right now.”

Long War Journal's new interactive map fills in the blanks left by governments

From Taliban controls or contests scores of districts in Afghanistan, October 5, Long War Journal:
The Afghan government and the US military have not been transparent concerning the status of the country’s districts. In June 2015, the government claimed that only 4 of the 398 districts in Afghanistan’s 34 provinces were administered by the Taliban. The US military does not comment on the status of Afghanistan’s districts, even when conducting military operations there, and refers all inquiries to the Afghan government.
A team at Long War Journal has created the remedy in the form of an interactive map showing districts that the Taliban control or contest; it will be updated as situations change in Afghanistan. Impressive achievement. One can see at a glance Taliban activity.


The Daily Beast, your trustworthy guide to the Syrian War

October 2, The Daily Beast, Russia is using Old, Dumb Bombs, Making Syria Air War Even More Brutal
Instead of dropping precision-guided munitions like the U.S.-led coalition does, the Russians are joining the Syrian air force in deploying unguided “dumb” bombs, apparently including deadly cluster munitions, which are much more likely to kill bystanders.
October 5, RT,  RT EXCLUSIVE: First-hand look at Russian 'smart bombs' used in Syria against ISIS See website for photos and video.
Russia has been taking out Islamic State facilities across Syria with high precision weapons, making it possible to avoid civilian casualties. RT's Murad Gazdiev, embedded at the Russian military airbase in Latakia, takes a look at the modern guided missiles used by Russian pilots. 
On the advice of Moscow, Damascus focused anew on the consolidation of hold over the western parts of Syria. The Syrian military would advance from these safe zones eastwards in order to contain the jihadist and Turkey-sponsored forces in north-western Syria and beyond.
To enable the Syrian offensives, the Russians expanded their sealift (mainly by Black Sea Fleet assets) and airlift (mainly by Ministry of Emergencies transport aircraft) of both military supplies and humanitarian aid continues unabated. Russian transports used the airports in Damascus, Latakia, and Aleppo (fighting permitting), while the Fleet used the ports of Tartous and Latakia.
The Russians provided through this “lifeline” large quantities of ammunition, and spare parts for T-72 tanks, BMP, and BTR armored vehicles, Mi-24 attack helicopters and other weapon systems.
In February 2014, the Syrians received and started to use long-range Smerch and Uragan rockets.
In early March 2014, the Syrian Air Force increased the use of MiG-29 fighters converted to ground-attack modes with a new generation of guided munitions.
Between early March and late May 2014, there was a marked improvement in the performance and effectiveness of the Syrian Air Force as a whole. This was attributed to greater serviceability of aircraft and helicopters, improved accuracy of bombing, and larger number of sorties.
By mid-2014, the Russians supplied and started to operate for the Syrian military Yakovlev Pchela-1T tactical UAVs. These Russian UAVs have since markedly improved the tactical intelligence and targeting of the Syrian Armed Forces. All of these developments were the result of on-site Russian training, as well as on-site technical and maintenance support.
Got all that, Daily Beast?  Want more?
In mid-June 2014, the Kremlin consented to requests from Iraq and Iran, as well as the Obama White House, to provide major military support for Iraq in order to prevent the fall of Baghdad to the rapidly advancing forces of ISIL. The Russians were asked to help address Iraq’s endemic shortages of trained manpower, as well as help training of a new generation. The Russians established forward facilities, mainly in the Iraqi Air Force base al-Muthanna where there was a large U.S. military and contractor presence.
In late-June 2014, the Russians delivered by heavy transport aircraft the first five Su-25 attack aircraft (out of a squadron of 12, the delivery of which would be completed within three to four months) and large quantities of sophisticated guided munitions. With the Su-25s also came a group of Russian technicians who worked around the clock to get all the aircraft operational within three to four days.
Officially, Russia sent “trainers” to help the Iraqi pilots learn to use the new aircraft and munitions. “Their objective is to, first of all, assemble the supplied equipment and, secondly, to ensure that the aircraft flies properly. Our pilots will not be flying and taking part in military operations. This is forbidden,” Ilya Morgunov, the Russian Ambassador to Iraq, explained.
In reality, Russian combat pilots flew the majority of the combat sorties which stopped the jihadist advance. The rest of the sorties were flown by Iranian Pasdaran pilots who deployed five Su-25s of Pasdaran Combat Aviation. No Iraqi pilots took part for lack of proper training.
In the first week of July 2014, the Russians started the delivery by air of eight Mi-35M and the first six (out of a total of 32) Mi-28 attack helicopters, as well as large quantities of munitions. Again, the Russians deployed technicians and experts who assembled the helicopters and made them operational within days.
Again, Russian “trainers” — both pilots and system operators — who were in Iraq only to check the operability of the helicopters before their handover and to train Iraqi pilots ended up flying combat sorties in support of both the Iraqi military (including U.S.-trained and -mentored units) and Iran-controlled Shi’ite militias.
As fighting evolved in late Summer and into Autumn 2014, the U.S. military advisers developed a system of indirect communications via the Iraqi High Command so that they could in effect call upon Russian and Iranian pilots to provide close air support to Iraqi units in duress.
If you'd like to learn a little more about the Syrian War -- the real war, the one that's actually been happening -- just have your editors start at the beginning of Yossef Bodansky's report and read through to the end. They should be sure not to skip over this part:
The appearance of U.S.-made weapons — especially TOW ATGMs — in the hands of jihadist forces, including those formally affiliated with Al Qaida, was used by Moscow as a proof of Washington’s commitment to escalating jihadist violence. Indeed, these weapons, including the TOWs, were provided to the jihadists by Saudi Arabian Intelligence with U.S. foreknowledge and tacit approval.
You remember the TOWs, right? The American public was told Islamic State stole them from the Iraqi military. IS liked them so much they gave them an Arabic nickname -- al-towi.

Now why would the Obama Administration encourage the transfer of TOWs to Islamic State in Iraq and ask the Russians for help in fighting IS in Iraq? That's what the Russians wanted to know, too.     

I know the answer. American defense policy came to be overseen by a small group of women at the White House whose knowledge of war strategy and tactics was derived solely from their time playing Bingo at a large Bingo parlor in Maryland.  

Hillary Clinton's proxy war on Narendra Modi, a window on the abuse of NGOs

NGO or ngo -- acronym for a nonprofit, ostensibly nongovernmental organization, although many NGOs in this era are actually GONGOs -- a NGO controlled by a government or created entirely for that purpose; i.e., a phony NGO.

Obama quietly reverses Hillary’s ‘get Modi’ policy
April 19, 2014
The Sunday Guardian (India)
(NEW DELHI) US President Barack Obama has quietly reversed a policy initiated by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to "get Narendra Modi" — ostensibly for the 2002 Gujarat riots, but in actuality "for taking stands that may be different from that favoured by the US administration" — in the words of a senior analyst in New York.
"Hillary Clinton likes to operate through NGOs, which are given funding through indirect channels, and which target individuals and countries seen as less than respectful to her views on foreign and domestic policy in the target countries," a retired US official now based in Atlanta said.

He claimed that "rather than US NGOs, (the former) Secretary of State Clinton favoured operating through organisations based in the Netherlands, Denmark and the Scandinavian countries, especially Norway" as these were outside the radar of big power politics.

These present and retired officials claimed that "during the tenure in office of Secretary Clinton, several expert teams in the guise of NGOs were sent to Gujarat to try and find mass graves". The purpose was to then take the matter to the Office of the UN Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva as an example of genocide.
"In 2011, some bones were discovered in a Gujarat field by one of the search teams and there was much excitement, but these were later found to be buffalo bones", an official said.

The official added that "no evidence whatsoever of mass graves was uncovered in Gujarat despite six years of clandestine searching for them" by undercover experts posing as representatives of NGOs. He added that "five politicians, three from the state and two in Delhi, assisted the search teams, but the information given by them proved unproductive".
Finally, "now that Secretary Clinton had stepped down from office, by end-2012 orders were given to stop wasting time on the search for mass graves in Gujarat, much to the dismay of those NGOs who were getting significant funding as a consequence of the search operations".

Coming back to the BJP's PM candidate Narendra Modi, these sources say that the Obama administration has dialled back on the hectic efforts by Hillary Clinton to paint the Gujarat CM as guilty of mass murder and even genocide.
"This is clear from the latest report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has sharply scaled back its criticism of the Modi government as compared to earlier reports".

According to a senior official, "President Obama does not share Hillary Clinton's confrontational approach and her preference for Sonia Gandhi, and is looking to establish a pragmatic partnership with India should Modi become the Prime Minister".

Hence the search "for a US envoy who would be different from (former ambassador) Nancy Powell's Clinton-style hostile approach to Modi, and to find an individual who could be expected to bond with the new PM and his team". According to these sources, President Obama "is alarmed at the steep downslide in India-US ties caused by Hillary-style crusades, and wants the relationship to be even better than what it was under the Bush presidency".
I've omitted juicy passages about some other abuses of NGOs related to various government scandals in India, but I can't resist adding this detail:   
Interestingly, the senior official claimed that because of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's inability to water down the Nuclear Liability Act, and Defence Minister A.K. Antony's decision to prefer the French Rafale fighter to its US rival, "orders were given to activate the Khalistan file so as to create embarrassment for Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh".
So after all that scheming and plotting, Sonia had to be thrown under the bus anyhow.  

From a long distance it's funny, but there's nothing funny about the weaponization of winning ideas related to promoting a healthy democracy. Whether it's civic organizations, NGOs, massed nonviolent demonstrations -- you name it, there are creeps who will find a way to corrupt it for their own purposes. When the creeps are in government or have strong ties with government, the situation can be very dangerous, and always strikes a blow against democratic society.   

The methods of corruption have become ever more devious and sophisticated, as the Clinton caper illustrates. Yet Nalapat's report, which couldn't have been published even a decade ago, shows that the creeps are finding it ever harder to operate in the darkness of public inattention.


Sunday, October 4

Hey, Russia, just to show how tough we are, we've blown up another Syrian ruin

After days of taking a pounding, they're really going to start acting out. Run, you perverts, and be sure to check in your suicide belts at the boarding gates at Atatürk International Airport.

Islamic State 'blows up Palmyra arch'


South Carolina's historic flood a strong warning about double-whammy events UPDATED 10:35 PM EDT)

The headline for an Associated Press report (no timestamp at the AOL site carrying the report) conveys how dangerous the flooding is: Historic South Carolina floods: Heavy rains, hundreds rescued:
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Hundreds were rescued from fast-moving floodwaters Sunday in South Carolina as days of driving rain hit a dangerous crescendo that buckled buildings and roads, closed a major East Coast interstate route and threatened the drinking water supply for the capital city.

The powerful rainstorm dumped more than a foot of rain overnight on Columbia, swamping hundreds of businesses and homes. Emergency workers waded into waist-deep water to help people trapped in cars, dozens of boats fanned out to rescue others in flooded neighborhoods and some were plucked from rooftops by helicopters.

With so much water, officials said it could take weeks or even months to assess every road and bridge that's been closed around the state. Several interstates around Columbia were closed, and so was a 75-mile stretch of Interstate 95 that is a key route connecting Miami to Washington, D.C. and New York.

SEE ALSO: Flash floods on French Riviera kill at least 16

"This is different than a hurricane because it is water, it is slow moving and it is sitting. We can't just move the water out," Gov. Nikki Haley said at a news conference.

One death was reported in the area on Sunday, bringing weather-related deaths to seven since the storm began days earlier. 

The system drenching South Carolina was part of an unusual combination of weather conditions involving a slow-crawling low pressure system meteorologists called unusually deep for this time of year.


Wow. For those who look for Signs and Portents, God has gotten very talkative these days. It's not the disaster you're expecting, it's the one that comes in on your blind side and strikes at the same time as the other disaster that's the greatest danger.  I could be talking about the refugee crisis hitting Europe or the flood in South Carolina.  

But Carolinians are very fortunate -- we're all fortunate here on the East Coast. Hurricane Joaquin didn't make landfall.  If that had happened at the same time as the 'weird' weather system hitting the Carolinas, I don't want to think about it. 

Yet just as it is, South Carolina is going through a flood that is a "1 in a 1,000 year" statistical event for rainfall levels, as the weatherman in the CNN video explained it.    

The good news is that Governor Niki Haley and her crew and all the relevant responders have rallied brilliantly, and Carolinians have showed common sense in avoiding the dangers of flooding; all this has kept the death toll to 3, so far. [The Associated Press reported this afternoon that the toll stands at 7]

But Nature isn't finished partying in that part of the USA and already rivers in the state are at historic highs. 

Well, one perk is that the deluge should wipe out the drought that settled into parts of North Carolina.  
By Ashley Fantz, Ben Brumfield and Nick Valencia, CNN
Updated 6:24 PM ET, Sun October 4, 2015 | Video Source: CNN

Charleston, South Carolina (CNN)South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley didn't mince any words Sunday about just how dangerous a situation the weather had become in her state.
"We haven't seen this level of rain in the Lowcountry in 1,000 years," Haley said at an afternoon press conference. "That's how big this is."
It wasn't hyperbole.
Certain areas of South Carolina had never before been deluged with such eye-popping rainfall tallies: more than 24 inches in Mount Pleasant, nearly 20 inches in areas around Charleston and more than 18 inches in the Gills Creek area of Columbia, according to CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward.

Haley: keep off the roads

Steven Pfaff of the National Weather Service said the "phenomenal amount of rainfall" was "a very dangerous situation."
"Flash flood warnings have been issued and many areas that received a large amount of rainfall 24 hours ago are being hit hard again," said Plaff. "This is an extremely dangerous situation in those areas."
The biggest danger seemed to be on the state's roadways; the historic rainfall and flooding had been responsible for three deaths and more than 750 roadway rescues in one 12-hour stretch, according to Haley.
The weather service issued a public service announcement video reminding people not to drive through rushing waters, no matter how shallow the water appears to be. "Do not attempt to drive into flooded roadways ... it takes just 12 inches of flowing water to carry off a small car. Turn around, don't drown," it said.
"Regardless of where you are in the state, stay home," said the governor. "Stay off the roadways."
But she didn't just urge South Carolinians to stay off the roads. In some places she made sure of it by closing all interstate highways in and around the capital city of Columbia.
"This is an incident we've never dealt with before," she said.

National Guard deployed

Haley announced Sunday that in addition to the eight swift water rescue teams and 11 aircraft, 600 National Guardsmen had been deployed to assist in rescues and evacuations, and that hundreds more were on standby.
The day before, President Barack Obama signed a statewide emergency declaration retroactive to Thursday, authorizing federal aid in anticipation of more rain.
Haley also said several fellow states, including North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida had lent resources as well.

Not over yet

The weather service forecast "catastrophic flash flooding" overnight into Monday in Berkeley County in South Carolina, where more than 18 inches of rain had fallen in 24 hours, according to the CNN Weather Center.
"It's not over," warned Haley. "We are in the middle of it...we have another 24 hours of this."

Northeast on deck

The wet misery isn't just limited to South Carolina; as of Sunday evening, both Carolinas, New Jersey and Virginia were under states of emergency, and the weather service has issued flood watches stretching from Georgia to Delaware.
But Hurricane Joaquin, downgraded to Category 3 strength earlier in the day Sunday and only expected to continue to weaken, isn't necessarily the culprit -- it's coming from two sources.
The low pressure area associated with the rain soaking the Carolinas is funneling heavy tropical moisture into the region, creating the torrential rainfall, the CNN Weather Center said.
The moisture the storm is pulling in is also associated with Hurricane Joaquin, but the two systems shouldn't be confused.
Joaquin inched northward in the Atlantic on Sunday, but luckily away from U.S. shores. However, the storm is expected to push in a storm surge in the Northeast as it passes, resulting in a one-two water punch.
"Life-threatening rip currents, high surf and coastal flooding, mainly at high tides, will stretch nearly the entire eastern U.S. coast," CNN meteorologist Michael Guy said.


Day 4: Russian strikes severely damage Islamic State in Syria and Iraq

Follow LIVE UPDATES on Russian anti-terror op in Syria

According to the estimates of Russia’s General Staff of Armed Forces, the airstrikes inflicted on Islamic State installations in Syria have disrupted the command system, inventory and logistics of the terrorist organization. The infrastructure used to stage terror attacks in Syria and Iraq has also been severely damaged.

Russian Air Force hit 10 ISIS targets in Syria in last 24 hours – Defense Ministry
Published time: 4 Oct, 2015 10:11
Edited time: 4 Oct, 2015 11:17

[see website for videos of air strikes]

Russian fighter jets have attacked 10 Islamic State targets in Syria in their latest airstrikes, destroying arms depots, training centers and infrastructure, Defense Ministry says. In the last 24 hours, Russian military aircraft have performed 20 sorties.

Armored Sukhoi Su-25 ground-support fighter jets have attacked a jihadist training center in Idlib province, also destroying a workshop producing suicide belts, according to the newly-released Defense Ministry report.

The ministry has also released several videos, which it says show Russian Air Force strikes on terrorist facilities.

Three depots with munitions, arms and material assets have been eliminated with pinpoint strikes. As a result of direct hits from KAB-500 air bombs, installations and munitions have been taken out.

Four command centers of Islamic State have been attacked with BETAB-500 bunker-busting air bombs, the ministry says. All four installations have been completely destroyed.

Su-25 jets struck a jihadist training camp in Kelajak, Idlib.

Sukhoi Su-24 bombers and Su-25 ground-support fighters have performed three consecutive airstrikes on terrorist installations near Maaret En Nuuman. All targets have been eliminated.

In the vicinity of Al-Tabqa in Raqqa Province, Su-34 bombers attacked an Islamic State training camp and an arms depot on its territory with KAB-500 bombs. The airstrike resulted in multiple explosions of munitions completely destroying the target.

An assault on a jihadist camp caused the total destruction of buildings used by terrorists: a warehouse with arms and material assets has been knocked out along with five armored vehicles.

Sukhoi Su-24 bombers and Su-25 ground-support fighters have staged three consecutive airstrikes on terrorist installations near Maaret En Nuuman. All targets have been eliminated.

In the vicinity of Al-Tabqa in Raqqa Province, Su-34 bombers attacked an Islamic State training camp and an arms depot on its territory with KAB-500 bombs. The airstrike resulted in multiple explosions of munitions, completely destroying the target.

According to the estimates of Russia’s General Staff of Armed Forces, the airstrikes inflicted on Islamic State installations in Syria have disrupted the command system, inventory and logistics of the terrorist organization. The infrastructure used to stage terror attacks in Syria and Iraq has also been severely damaged.



Is Doctors Without Borders treating Taliban without notifying the Afghan military?

"The Associated Press reported that video footage of the burned out [MSF hospital] compound in the east of Kunduz city showed automatic weapons, including rifles and at least one machine gun, on windowsills."

From the Washington Post report by Tim Craig, filed yesterday at 9:10 PM EDT,
Doctors Without Borders [Médecins Sans Frontières - MSF] says U.S. airstrike hit hospital in Afghanistan; at least 19 dead:
It was unclear how close Taliban fighters may have been to the hospital [in Kunduz] Saturday or whether the U.S. military didn’t realize the building was a hospital.
Afghan security officials said Taliban fighters had been pouring into the facility in recent days seeking treatment for gunshot wounds and other injuries.
Mirza Laghmani, a local resident, said Afghan soldiers were battling militants near the hospital when Saturday’s airstrike took place.
“The Taliban are taking and evacuating their wounded fighters to the hospital for treatment,” said Laghmani, who said the militant group still controls most of the city. “It was the only advanced hospital” in the area.
Abdul Qahar Aram, spokesman for the Afghan army’s 209th Corps in northern Afghanistan, on Saturday said Taliban fighters are now hiding in “people’s houses, mosques and hospitals using civilians as human shields.”
Sultan Arab, a local police commander in Kunduz, said the hospital came under an airstrike “because the Taliban had shifted their command center inside the hospital.”
Reuters reported at 5:39 AM EDT today, MSF denies Taliban was firing from Afghan hospital hit by air strike: 
The U.S. military said it conducted an air strike "in the vicinity" of the hospital, as it targeted Taliban insurgents who were directly firing on U.S. military personnel.
The U.S. government promised a full investigation into the incident as the U.N. human rights chief said the bombing could amount to a war crime.
In Kabul, the Afghan Ministry of Defense said Taliban fighters had attacked the hospital and were using the building "as a human shield". But the medical aid group denied this.
But no matter which version of events is correct, the question is whether MSF has been treating wounded Taliban without turning them over the Afghan military or police. If this is the case, MSF has been very actively aiding war crimes. 
Tim Craig's report goes on to note:
Doctors Without Borders, which operates in 20 countries and was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999, prides itself on treating any patient in need of assistance.
MSF, and its donors around the world, need to understand the ethics of the situation.  If the doctors want to treat anyone in need of trauma care, that's one thing.  But they have an ethical obligation to make sure that Taliban fighters they treat are not allowed to go free; the siege of Kunduz City illustrates why:

From Tamim Hamid's report for TOLOnews, October 3, A Brutal Taliban Shows Its True Colors This Past Week:
At one stage people had hoped that the Taliban had taken a more moderate direction politically but their action this past week following the siege of Kunduz has proven otherwise.
This comes after officials condemned the Taliban's actions in the embattled northern city this week saying mass murders, gang rapes and house-to-house searches by Taliban death squads are just some of the harrowing civilian testimonies emerging from Kunduz city.
According to Amnesty International, women human rights defenders from Kunduz spoke of a "hit list" being used by the Taliban to track down activists and others, and described how fighters had raped and killed numerous civilians.
"The harrowing accounts we've received paint a picture of a reign of terror during the Taliban's brutal capture of Kunduz this week.
The multiple credible reports of killings, rapes and other horrors meted out against the city's residents must prompt the Afghan authorities to do more now to protect civilians, in particular in areas where more fighting appears imminent," said Horia Mosadiq, Afghanistan Researcher at Amnesty International.
Kunduz city fell to the Taliban on Monday and despite concerted military action to regain control of the city fighting continues.
The Taliban atrocities have been documented by other news organizations as well. From Hashim Safi's October 2 report for AFP:
Amnesty International condemned the Taliban's "reign of terror" in Kunduz, citing civilian testimonies of mass murder, gang rapes and house-to-house searches by militant death squads.
The report, which cited rights activists, claimed militants had a hit list and were using young boys to help conduct searches to track down their targets, especially women.
The report also notes:
Food was running short and there was no electricity, while some people wounded during the fighting were too afraid of Taliban snipers to leave their homes and go to hospital, [a Kunduz resident] added.
So it seems Taliban wounded received good care from MSF while the victims couldn't even make it to the hospital.  

It's possible that MSF doctors in Kunduz treat Taliban because they're afraid the Taliban will attack the trauma center if they don't. If so, they had an ethical obligation to inform their donors of this -- and Afghan authorities, although this specific situation is now mooted. To return to the Reuters report:
The medical charity that was a lifeline for thousands in the city said it was pulling most of its staff out of the area because the hospital was no longer functioning. Some staff had gone to help treat the wounded at other hospitals, it added.
Yet the point still holds, not only for MSF but for all volunteer medical organizations working in Afghanistan's very hot war zone. The Taliban attack on Kunduz was a smash and grab resupply operation that netted them lots of money (they robbed every bank in the city) and tons of equipment, including vehicles.  They're going to use the spoils to expand their attacks in the north of the country.  

From Thomas Joscelyn's October 3 report for Long War Journal, Islamic Jihad Union participated in siege of Kunduz:
In an earlier statement, published on Sept. 29, the IJU said its fighters wouldn’t stop at Kunduz. The IJU claimed the “mujahideen” are preparing to launch operations against other areas in northern Afghanistan, including Mazar-e-Sharif in the Balkh province.
In light of progress the mercenaries have made this year in the north, the statement can't be taken as an idle boast. It's time for the U.S.-led coalition force to field treatment centers for wounded civilians and Afghan security forces, so volunteer medical personnel and their patients aren't caught in the crossfire.


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