By Peter Clifford © (www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-iraq-news-5/)
SYRIA – IRAQ – NEWS
4 jet aircraft launched 9 missiles yesterday, Sunday, evening against one of the Assad regime’s army bases at Saequa near the town of Ayyash in Deir Ez-Zour province.
3 of Assad’s soldiers are reported killed and 13 wounded. In addition 3 armoured vehicles, 4 other military vehicles, two heavy machine guns and a weapon and ammunition depot were also destroyed.
Coalition Aircraft Prepares for Bombing Raid in Syria
The Syrian Government immediately claimed it was an attack by the US-led Coalition and lodged a complaint with the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon.
However, Colonel Steve Warren, the Coalition spokesman has denied that it was anything to do with them and said, “We’ve seen those Syrian reports but we did not conduct any strikes in that part of Deir Ez-Zour yesterday. So we see no evidence.”
The nearest Coalition strikes on Sunday were 55 kilometres (34 miles) to the east where they hit well-heads in the Omar Oil Field.
“There were no human beings in the area that we struck yesterday,” Warren added.
The co-ordinates of all Coalition airstrikes would be carefully logged – so it should be obvious where their planes struck.
The UK made its second run of bombing in Syria on Friday, this time using Typhoons.
President Assad just before last Wednesday’s vote in the UK Parliament to allow the RAF to operate in Syria, said in an interview with the Sunday Times about the proposition, “It will be harmful and illegal and it will support terrorism as happened after the coalition started its operation a year or so [ago].”
“You cannot defeat ISIS through airstrikes alone,” Assad said. “You cannot defeat them without cooperation with forces on the ground. You cannot defeat them if you do not have buy-in from the general public and the [Syrian] government.”
EDITOR: This is feeling very much like a “set-up” or an attempt to cover-up another Russian mistake. At least twice already Russian aircrew have been accused of bombing pro-Assad Hezbollah and Shiite militias and Assad’s troops. But the Syrian Government says nothing about that.
And it may all be part of a clever Assad strategy to get the Coaltion to co-ordinate their attacks with the Assad Government, so it would then appear as if the 2 sides are working in “partnership”.
Already, Assad and the Russians have got the West to change the narrative from ” Assad must go” to “let him stay in place during a transition to elections”. And lately, John Kerry, the US Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, has even been heard to state that Syrian Opposition fighters should be persuaded to work with the Assad regime to defeat the Islamic State first.
All of this smacks of an attempt to legitimise President Assad – the biggest killer of civilians in Syria bar none, and the murderer of more people than all the other groups put together.
Meanwhile, Erbil Airport, the main base for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has been closed again for 2 days until Tuesday night on orders of the Iraqi Government, to allow the overflight of Russian missiles from ships in the Caspian Sea.
There is also an unconfirmed report that a Russian cruise missile has hit one of Assad’s defence factories at Al-Safira near Aleppo.
Russia additionally continues to get up Turkey’s nose after the downing of a Russian jet by the Turkish Air Force. On Thursday in a “state of the nation” address in Russia, Putin said, “Allah only knows, I suppose, why they did it. And probably, Allah has decided to punish the ruling clique in Turkey by taking their mind and reason.
“But, if they expected a nervous or hysterical reaction from us, if they wanted to see us become a danger to ourselves as much as to the world, they won’t get it. … We are not going to rattle the sabre. But, if someone thinks they can commit a heinous war crime, kill our people and get away with it, suffering nothing but a ban on tomato imports, or a few restrictions in construction or other industries, they’re delusional. We’ll remind them of what they did, more than once. They’ll regret it. We know what to do.”
Immediately after the broadcast Russia cancelled a major gas pipeline project to Turkey, leaving millions of dollars worth of specialised pipes designed to go under the Black Sea sitting uselessly on the dockside.
Soldier With Missile Launcher Stands on Deck of Russian Ship Off Turkish Coast
Turkey also reacted on Sunday, summoning the Russian ambassador to Ankara to complain of “provocation” after pictures appeared of a Russian landing ship, the Caesar Kunikov, passing through the Bosphorus near Istanbul on Friday with a soldier apparently standing on deck holding a shoulder held ManPad type missile launcher.
Why he would need to do this, other than to provoke a reaction, is unclear.
(EDITOR: When I first saw these pictures they looked staged and Photoshopped to me, but my Turkish correspondents, some of whom took the pictures, assure me they are real.
As I said at he time, perhaps they had orders to look out for Erdogan!)
In Homs province, reports say that Russia has launched its first airstrikes from its new airbase at Shayrat not far from Palmyra (EDITOR: Perhaps they are the ones that got lost and bombed Assad’s base at Deir Ez-Zour by mistake?), while from Damascus it is reported that a new contingent of Iranian Shiite militia has been flown in from Basra in southern Iraq.
From Hama province comes this video of the terrifying moment Assad’s troops launch a barrage of rockets against Opposition fighters on Al-Ghab Plain, here:
In Aleppo province various battles are still underway, though the ceasefire between the Syrian Democratic Forces and other Free Syrian Army units appears to be holding with just occasional outbreaks of gunfire.
This has allowed the northern Aleppo Opposition to concentrate more on fighting back the Islamic State (IS), even on Friday night taking back 3 villages around Yarn and a strip of territory along the border with Turkey running towards the east.
However, the Opposition fighters now say that many of their attacks are at night to avoid the added hazard of bombs dropped by the Russian jets on behalf of Assad.
South of Aleppo city, pro-Assad Shiite militia have seized Qal’ajiyah but lost 3 tanks in battles with Opposition fighters this morning, Monday. This footage shows one of the tanks destroyed recently with a TOW missile – watch out for the man on the roof trying to put out the potential fire, HERE:
In Daraa province, where things have slowed down after an unsuccessful attempt to capture Daraa city, a coalition of 12 Opposition forces in the Southern Front announced a new campaign to capture Sanamayn where the Assad regime bases its 7th and 9th Divisions.
Their campaign has been strengthened this time by another coalition of a dozen local tribes who are being backed, financed and armed by Jordan under the name of The Army of Free Tribes.
The current thrust is to take over the artillery base at Jidyah, from where the regime regularly shells the Opposition forces in the surrounding area. Sanamayn is a major defensive front for the regime on the road between Daraa province and Damascus.
Fighting around the Jidyah base has so far not gone terribly well with a number of Opposition casualties reported on Friday, but further more positive news is awaited. You can read more, HERE:
And from the good people of Kanfranbel in Idlib province comes their comment on John Kerry’s recent proposals, here:
Message to John Kerry About “Working with Assad and Russians”
ROJAVA UPDATE 165 – YPG CONDUCTS OPERATION ACROSS EUPHRATES TO JARABLOUS TO SILENCE ISLAMIC STATE MORTARS:
The YPG reported on Sunday that last Friday evening a combined force of the YPG/YPJ conducted an operation across the Euphrates River to the west bank to an area south of IS-held Jarablous.
Picture of the Year 2015 in Germany – The Liberation of Kobane
The operation was to try and put a stop to the regular barrage of IS mortar shells that has been falling on an almost daily basis on towns and villages in Kobane Canton for the last month.
An IS vehicle used to transport ammunition was targeted and destroyed along with its occupants and 2 other vehicles were damaged. IS casualties at this point are unknown.
At around midday on Saturday IS tried once again to attack the southern part of Kobane Canton near Ain Issa. Further details of the battle still awaited.
Also on Saturday, the Al-Nusra Front (ANF) attacked YPG positions in the Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqmoud with mortars once again, this time injuring 4 civilians.
The YPG retaliated driving back ANF, injuring or killing 2 of their men.
A video of YPG operations in Rojava can be seen, HERE:
Currently the YPG and the Syrian Democratic Front are between 30 and 40 kilometres from Raqqah where Coalition airstrikes killed at least 35 x IS Jihadists and wounded many more according to medical sources in the city.
15 civilians are also reported killed in the strikes as IS is now establishing its operational buildings in among residential districts.
This video from CNN compliments an earlier written report about the all-female units now fighting IS.
KOBANE CHRISTMAS APPEAL: Kobane city this last week saw the start of the first polio vaccination campaign since the liberation from IS and an appeal is underway to raise Euros 25,000 to buy a school bus to transport the smallest children to school.
Currently there is only one pre-school in Kobane and many children have to walk an hour each way to attend. A bus would mean that the number of young children attending would go up from 150 to 500.
The appeal aims to raise the Euros 25,000 in 25 days. Euros 21,500 so far, 20 days to go and if you would like to contribute this Christmas (EDITOR: I have!), (both USD, Euros and other currencies accepted by credit, debit card via PayPal at genuine site) go HERE:
Lastly, tomorrow, Tuesday, Saudi Arabia is hosting a 3 day meeting of Syrian Opposition groups in Riyadh to hopefully come up with a joint approach to any future negotiations with the Assad Government or the UN in finding a solution to the war in Syria.
Sadly though, it appears to be a gathering of Sunni groups only and no invitation has been extended to the YPG or its political arm the PYD despite indicating that they “would love to attend”. You can read more, HERE: