Syrian War Report – August 14, 2018: SDF Slams Reports On Negotiations With Damascus As Fake

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On August 13, Russian air defense forces intercepted and destroyed 5 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) near Khmeimim Air Base in the province of Latakia. According to the head of the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the opposing sides in Syria, Maj. Gen. Alexei Tsygankov, the UAVs were launched by militants from the Idlib de-escalation zone.

Over the past month, UAV attacks on Russia’s airbase have turned into an almost everyday occurrence. On August 12, Russian forces intercepted 2 UAVs and on August 11, one. UAV attacks on the airbase also took place on August 10, July 30 and July 21. All of them were repelled.

The UAV attacks from the Idlib de-escalation zone on Russian military facilities have increased as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) and other militant groups are seeing them as one of the very few options to deliver damage to Russian forces and to deliver a PR blow to the Russian military presence in the country.

On the other hand, these attacks show that the de-escalation agreement does not work. Terrorist groups operating in the area are not seeking to join a peace process or surrender. The only thing stopping them from a direct advance on government positions surrounding the militant-held part of the provinces of Latakia, Idlib and Aleppo is the open secret that they will be defeated in any face-to-face battle with the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).

The SAA and its allies have retaken Abu Ghanim Mount and secured the Ruhba area in the province of Rif Dimash in the framework of their security operation against ISIS cells. Additionally, government troops advanced on ISIS cells’ positions in the areas of Ardh Al-Banat, Durs, Shir Tur Al-Hawiyah and Rujm Mughrabah.

At least 17 airstrikes by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Air Force on ISIS targets in the Safa area were reported.

Considering the speed of the ongoing SAA advance in Safa, the ISIS presence in the area will be eliminated soon. However, this does not mean that ISIS will no longer pose a threat to the government-controlled area.

According to a UN report released on August 13, there are still from 20,000 to 30,000 ISIS members in Syria and Iraq.

The media wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) released an official statement commenting on rumors disseminated by the Turkish media that 1,300 members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) may participate in the expected SAA operation in Idlib.

The SDF media wing claimed  that these reports are untrue and further stated that there are no negotiations or coordination with “the Syrian regime”. While there is nothing new in the fact that the SDF will not be involved in the expected Idlib advance, there are two interesting moments in this statement:

  1. In the August 13 statement, the SDF directly described itself as an entity created as another brand for the YPG and the PKK in Syria. Turkish media had referred to these very groups in its rumors, but a response came from the SDF.
  2. The SDF’s claims about no coordination and negotiations with the Assad government are false. For example, in late July, a high profile delegation of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) – the political wing of the SDF – visited Damascus for negotiations with the Syrian government. After this, SDF-, SDC- and YPG-linked public figures have made a series of statements confirming the existing negotiations and coordination with Damascus in the political sphere and a possible cooperation in the military sphere.

This situation shows that there is at least a hidden rift within the US-backed group. On the official level, the Kurdish-dominated SDF seeks to maintain its image as a reliable “proxy” of the US in Syria and provides an official media policy based on the MSM text book. This approach, especially when it’s employed roughly, creates the situation that the SDF’s official statements contradict the actions of the SDF and the most influential groups within it, like the YPG, on the ground.

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  • S Melanson

    I think the rift within the ranks of the SDF has been out in the open for some time now. What I suspect is the Syrian strategy is to first deliver a crushing blow in Idlib. Assad wants to make a powerful impression on would be enemies of the SAA. This would explain the careful preparations and massive build up of military assets for the assault.

    I also want to point out that I am pretty certain that the busing of terrorists to Idlib was used to insert operatives loyal to Assad into Idlib province. Given the thousands bused coming from many factions over several months facilitates infiltration. These operatives can provide the SAA intel, ferment division and promote reconciliation. These operatives can also ensure provocations from the deescalation zone to give Assad justification to attack.

    Once Assad has rolled up Idlib and assuming Erdogan stays out of the fray, Assad could choose to target Eastern Syria first before Afrin. This is to exploit divisions in the SDF that I am sure will have become more acute if Assad rolls over Idlib as expected. If the SDF is offered a deal by Assad at the time of readiness to launch an offensive to retake Eastern Syria, this could throw the SDF into disarray and the US finds they no longer have any sizeable and effective fighting force. This may be why Assad is being coy with the Kurds, he is waiting for just the right moment to put an offer on the table and then his artillery will follow up so they know he means business.

    • frankly

      I was somewhat surprised to see the SAA tackle the border region with Jordan and Israel first. Really glad to see that finished. Well the more recent incursions any way. There seems to be fairly clear divisions among the elements holding the remaining parts of country, not held by the Syrian government.

      This ultimately is the main strength of the Syrian people. Where they may not love everything, what country does? They are united in hating the factions that would oppress them. They have experienced better than any of the alternatives presented. Bottom line if you have to point guns at the people you are governing you are not in power, but weakness.

      A police state like the US is a classic example. They have turned fighting crime into a for profit business. In order to justify it they have encouraged or even faked incidents to put fear into the people, oh we need police to protect us. It’s a lie.

      True safety evolves from fully employing your tax payers, not scaring the shit out of them with dishonest trickery. So instead of educated innovation, you get insolent capitulation. Begrudged complacency follows, with seething insurrection on the horizon. As JFK said, “A government that makes peaceful revolution impossible, makes violent revolution inevitable.” So training/arming your sons to destroy their fathers and mothers will inevitably flop. How ugly must this get? Stop growing opium in Afghanistan!

      The small enclaves of Syrian government forces within SDF territory, make cooperation de facto. Bringing disparate groups into mutual cooperation as opposed to holding power has brought Syria a long way. All along F.uk.us and evil minions could not cooperate, they fought over the pieces of the pie, now they face a bleak future. Join with Syria in mutual opposition to the Empire or one by one lose their seats at the table, ultimately to grovel for crumbs from F.uk.us. The Empire is notorious for kicking the dog, I hope the stragglers can settle for humble pie.

      • S Melanson

        When it comes to getting in bed with the USA, when the Kurds get shoved out, even the crumbs remain in the bed.

        Assad will likely be pragmatic with the Kurds – the Kurds cannot turn to Turkey so Assad can give them an alternative to serving the US masters which have already made the Kurds feel dispensable to be discarded at a moments notice. Getting the Kurds to defect or even split into Syrian and US factions will seriously undermine the US position in Syria.

        Before commenting on the potential for civil breakdown in the US, know that I have Gained a better understanding on the nature of the elites that are backing Trump and how they contrast with the old guard elites they are replacing. What I have found lends weight to the argument that Trump at least supported Saudi Arabia’s retaliation to Canada’s foreign minister and PM. So your drawing attention to the article on Trumps role was a good call. The details I can give in a later post.

        As for the situation in the US, which is moving towards a police state – practically there already, I could share with you a document I wrote in 2014 that speaks to what is happening today – unfortunately, my assessment of what is the most probable scenario to play the us in future is actually unfolding as we speak. However, although I predicted rising populism in the US elections and media reporting, I did not predict Trump.

        • Ivan Freely

          IMO, Trump’s support of SA is likely because of NAFTA. Speaking of police state, the Los Angeles public transit authority just rolled out body scanners in subway stations.

          • S Melanson

            I assume the scan is followed by a cavity search, just to be sure.

        • Trauma2000

          I’m very interested in reading your document. Could you post it please..? Maybe as a series of excepts so that the content doesn’t exceed the length of Disqus post length..?

          • S Melanson

            This is something I could do. There are two documents actually but they are intimately related – I am the author of both. I will give some brief background as a general overview.

            In 2014, the worst outbreak of Ebola took place in Africa. This outbreak infected and killed more people than all prior Ebola outbreaks combined. The outbreak nearly went pandemic and an epidemic in the US was narrowly averted.

            While It was very fortunate the epidemic was contained in November of 2014, it seemed odd to many how the epidemic, that seemed far from being brought under control, just suddenly went away. It was also odd how the WHO was predicting pretty scary numbers of infected and deaths before the epidemic could be contained, based on estimates of the resources needed and timeline for deployment and seeing results as follows:

            WHO Estimates: The resources to bring the epidemic under control would not be in place until late November or early December and that once in place, several weeks would be needed to contain and months after that to eradicate.

            So how was it possible to not only contain the epidemic in early November, but also make progress in eradication which was clearly evident by mid-November?

            The reason was that the Ebola strain involved was a weaponzed Ebola produced in US Department of Defence biowarfare research labs located in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Part of their genetic engineering was the inclusion of a ‘kill’ switch as a safety. It was the use of this switch that shut down the epidemic – if you have heard rumours the epidemic was a hoax, I can assure you it was not a hoax.

            One of the two documents provided a risk assessment warning of extinction

  • Jens Holm

    Pathetic reading S. Melanson as well as Frankly first kind of accept constructed propganda and then even concklude on them. Pathetic.

    Hard for me to see Assads reprresenting Syria at all. Who it ? 5-600.000 dead. 11 mio displaced in Syria or as refugees. Pension for the handicapped. A look of the map say same thing.

    Even if Assads by their feudalisme had taken back all in the artificial neo colonialistic area now named as Syria, there is not even a single sig, those can take over anything fir the people living there.

    Well military control might be possible. But is that what gives a country. Millions tell they will do everything never to come back.

    Its so manipulative to try to raise, whats mainly is totally false and made facts and conclude on them too.

    Frank even refer to (american) taxpayers. hahaha. They do elect people there themselves and vote about tax as well. They just have decided to not support the socalled Phalestinians with 60 bio of the budget by UN of 260. So they do chooooooose. They are not ordered to it.

    True there are different oppinions in the SDF zone, but here its like You 2 and others cant see the difference between the head and the behind of a person or an elephant.