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Syrian War Report – Dec. 21, 2018: US Evacuates Base In Al-Tanf, Prepares To Halt Aerial Operation

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While the White House has still provided no comprehensive details on the real form of the so-called US troops withdrawal from Syria, the move has already had impact on the development of the conflict.

Early on December 20, Turkish media released several reports several reports and a video claiming that about 150 US trucks with weapons and equipment had been moved from Syria to Iraq late on December 19.

Reports in the mainstream media citing various sources suggest that the US-led coalition is also going to evacuate its base in the area of al-Tanf and to halt an aerial campaign in the country. If these reports are confirmed, militant groups operating in the area could find themselves abandoned in face of superior forces of the Damascus government.

According to pro-government sources, the Syrian Arab Army and Iranian-backed militias are currently deploying reinforcements to eastern Syria. Earlier reports appeared that the Russian military had set up several positions near the al-Tanf zone.

The so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are now the main US proxy in northeastern Syria, condemned Trump’s decision to reduce the US military involvement in an official statement. The statement claimed that the decision would have “dangerous consequences” to international security and that it is “disappointing the hopes of the peoples of the region for security and stability.”

The SDF still hopes that if the US withdraws, France and the UK, two other countries that have special forces deployed in the war-torn country, would help it to keep the seized territories under control. However, its representatives have already initiated negotiations with Damascus.

According to the existing data, one of the suggestions is that the SDF would transfer control over oil and gas fields on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River to the Damascus government. In response, the Syrian Arab Army would have to set up a network of checkpoints on the border between Turkey and the SDF-held part of Syria.

Meanwhile, the security situation continues to remain complicated in the Idlib demilitarization zone where members of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other militant groups have carried out several attacks on SAA positions.

If the situation, by some reason, escalates in eastern Syria, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies will likely use it to increase military pressure on the SAA in northern Hama and northern Latakia.

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Gregory Casey

All to do with the Oil on the East Bank of Euphrates. The Kurds have been controlling it and using the revenues for themselves for the past 4 years & using TURKEY as their export & refining line: the Kurds grab for the wealth of Syria has now failed and it is time for YPG and the other Kurd warlords to make peace with Damascus and agree to live within a single unitary State of Syria. Given the fact that Kurds are present in NE Syria because their grand + great-grandparents were Refugees there from the Turks in the first place and that NE Syria, apart from a narrow sliver along the S side of Turkish Border has never formed a part of the Kurdish “homeland”, Kurdish betrayal of Damascus has represented nothing more than what should be expected throughout past 100 years. When the Kurds scream, remind them that they were the tip of the Ottoman Spear that massacred 1.5 Million Armenian Christians in 1915. What will be most interesting to discover is whether the Israeli Forces that have been embedded with Kurds throughout past 2 – 3 years will remain as Russian and SAA Personnel take up positions in NE Syria or whether those rats will slither away back to Israel via Jordan.


I personally am willing to cut the Kurds a fair amount of slack based on 2 factors.

Factor 1: They kicked the shit out of a lot of ISIS. If they hadn’t been there who knows how the war might have gone? Assad was in no position to do much in the north–he basically cut the Kurdish areas loose because he had no choice. If ISIS had consolidated the north with relatively little opposition, they would have had more forces to send against the Syrian army and the country could have gone down in flames for good before Putin got it together to help.

Factor 2: Sure, they’re not particularly loyal to Syria, or Turkey, or Iraq, or probably Iran . . . but then, Syria, Turkey and Iraq (and probably Iran, although I don’t know much about that) have all treated them like shit for ages so why should they be? Far as I know Syria hasn’t shafted Kurds as bad as Turkey or Iraq, but still fairly bad. I find it hard to be really upset that they’re in it for themselves, since nobody else is really in it for them.

At the moment, the Syrian government and the Kurds have a common enemy in Turkey. I hope they cut a decent deal to move forward.

Hisham Saber

You overestimate the SDF/Kurds by a wide margin. They have not been able to dislodge ISIS from a small slither of land east of the Euphrates, with U.S. air support for how long now? Yes, the same area bombarded by the Iranian IRGC Missile Corps. with SRBM not too long ago, with these strikes coming within 5 km of U.S./SDF positions.

The U.S. realized that the Kurds are pretty much worthless and a liability and the U.S. position in Syria and Iraq is precarious indeed. As they represent a bunch of bulls-eyes for Iranian moves against them.

You also have to figure that the Arab, Assyrian tribes of Deir Ezzor, Hasaka, and Al-Raqa are also preparing their own insurgency being that the Kurds made a lot of enemies by their actions in the north-east of Syria.

In this Syrian conflict, and with ISIS being destroyed, along with Nusra, the big losers are the Kurds, for their treachery, and Israel for sticking its nose where it wont be able to realize its nefarious plans and plots.


“have not been able to dislodge ISIS”–Oh, give me a break. They weren’t trying. The US didn’t want the last ISIS pocket gone if they could avoid it; they finally gave the green light to go after them for real because ISIS wouldn’t stick to the script and it got too embarrassing, or maybe because Trump (for whatever random reason) decided he really wanted out of Syria and insisted that it get done.

I’m seeing a lot of rationalization about the Kurds not actually doing anything by people who were, if they were even paying attention at the time, undoubtedly singing a different tune back when things hung in the balance. It is a bad mental habit to redefine reality around how you want it to be–you don’t like the Kurds now, so they never did anything and can’t fight. If you don’t like the Kurds, whatever, but they did do things and, within the limitations of their level of armament, they can fight. There’s no real discussion about that, there’s just people who decide it’s not true because they don’t want it to be.

David Pryce

ISIS kurds and the US regime spent alot of time within a few miles of each other in the East of Syria especially in South East Syria. We all remember the US dropping arms and supplies by Air to ISIS and AlQaeda changed to HTS on US branding issue. I remember a senior AlQaeda aka Al Nusra commander giving an interview with a German reporter who moaned US wasn’t doing enough Aerial bombing of SAA positions This was a Dirty War to remove Assad collapse Syria and shaft the so called SDF eventually A turn coat is a Traitor did they not see what happened in Libya and Iraq. The US regime has proxies groups it uses up and spits out. There best choice nów is to accommodate the SAA and Allies along the 500km border with Turkey. Of course Russia will have to persuade Turkey to forget the land grab as it owes Russia one for downing on off the su 25s.

Rüdiger Preiss

First of all you have to ask, how has ISIS become that powerful?? As soon as Russia appeared it 2015 their oil trade with Turkey got stopped and ISIS went downhill. Not much to do with the Kurds – look at the ISIS pocket north of Al-Bukamal, it has never been cleared. How comes?

Gregory Casey

Syria has provided shelter against the Turks since Ottoman Days but almost none of NE Syria represents any part of the traditional Kurdish Homeland.

Nigel Maund

100% on the money! Good commentary! Thanks!!

Natalia T.

Send some trained monkeys to fight in place of SAA. Trained monkey not only fight better but they look better too!

Nigel Maund

Your clearly a monkey yourself to make such a stupid comment! It’s racist, arrogant and extremely juvenile! I’ve decided to report it to SF.

Natalia T.

Speaking of stupid, you obviously meant “you’re” and not “your”. And since I did not mention race, I take it that your objection is in respect of my mentioning the monkeys. You’re right, that was offensive to them, therefore I apologize to all monkeys.

Nigel Maund

Yep! you’re an arsehole and that’s clear!

Gregory Casey

The Final Nail in the Coffin of the Syrian War as Erdogan Decides to Postpone Military Op against Kurds in NE Syria After Talk With Trump: https://sputniknews.com/world/201812211070899603-erdogan-syria-military-op/ via @SputnikInt


May be the final nail, hope you’ll be right.


Meh. It’s a gentleman’s agreement–Trump gets US forces out of the way so Turkey won’t have to be opposing the US in order to do a number on the Kurds (and incidentally grab a bit of Syria), in return Turkey waits a little while so the Americans can do their withdrawal and maybe the media can forget a bit just what exactly happened by the time the hammer comes down. Fine for the Americans because Syria is still destabilized with a foreign country occupying part of it, and it’s not obviously the Americans doing it.

The only thing is, it does give the Kurds and the Syrian government a window to do some fast negotiations. If Syria can credibly claim to have re-established control over the region by the time Erdogan wants to attack, that could make it much more politically difficult. Maybe militarily as well.

Rüdiger Preiss

You forget Russia is still there


They’re there all right, but I’m not sure just how much they care. Not that they don’t care at all, but they’re balancing their diplomatic options. They want the Syrian government not to fall, and to control as much of Syria as is feasible. But they don’t care nearly as much as the Syrian government does whether that’s actually all of Syria. And they don’t want to be in an actual war with Turkey if they can avoid it. They probably won’t in the end sit still for stacks of terrorists in Idlib. But they might well be willing to let Turkey grab the Kurdish north and then try to get them to withdraw eventually in negotiations. Unless the Syrian government were already there and more or less in control before the Turkish attack.

Bigaess Wangmane

According to the existing data, one of the suggestions is that the SDF would transfer control over oil and gas fields on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River to the Damascus government. In response, the Syrian Arab Army would have to set up a network of checkpoints on the border between Turkey and the SDF-held part of Syria.

So let me get this straight, in exchange for oil wells that they stole and illegally pumped millions of barrels of oil out of over the years to enrich themselves, they want the SAA to act as their personal bodyguard to protect the rest of their ill-gotten gains from the Turks whom they sold the oil to anyway?

How about this instead SDF, hand back the entirety of the East Euphrates to the sole, legitimate government of the country and maybe, just maybe, you wont be left to get annihilated by the Turks whom historically, like the kurds themselves, have no problems committing genocide against their adversaries [real or imagined].


I understand there is some “history” in the area, but the SDF did the lion’s share of the work clearing out Raqqa and their have seriously degraded ISIS. That deserves recognition by Assad and formal political recognition within the Syrian government.

Bigaess Wangmane

the SDF did the lion’s share of the work clearing out Raqqa

There wasn’t much left to clean out in Raqqa after the US levelled the entire city and left thousands of innocents that had nothing to do with ISIS (Whom the US & Israel created in the 1st place) buried under the rubble to which they remain to this very day.

The SDF is a kurd-dominated occupation force that sought to annex the East Euphrates to create a Kurdish state out of Syrian lands, disregarding the wishes of the Arab majority of the area. I have to disagree with you in regards to

… the SDF did the lion’s share of the work clearing out Raqqa and their have seriously degraded ISIS. That deserves recognition by Assad…

Assad doesn’t need to recognize the work of traitors to his country, period.


Riiiiight. And of course Syrian and Russian bombing and artillery campaigns had no collateral damage. Yeah, US bombing is probably somewhat more indiscriminate, but basically a ton of civilian casualties is the modern way of war and the non-bad guys are far from immune to that.

I don’t know what they’re supposed to have done–told the US “No thanks, we’d rather you didn’t bomb enemy positions before we attack them”? Reformed US bombing practices with their amazing psychic powers? Left ISIS in control? What?

Really, once they’d accepted US help in the first place, which was at the time the alternative to being wiped out, the politics acquired a certain . . . momentum. It’s unfortunate. But it would be better to fix things than to start yet another war.

As to treason, sure, whatever. They had little reason to feel loyal to Syria to start with, at the point when they went military the central government had abdicated responsibility for their region (through no fault of its own, but that was the reality), and if they had stayed what you would consider non-traitorous they would have ended up occupied and massacred by ISIS. If the Syrian state wants them not to be traitors in future, it had better give them reason to feel like they belong in it and stay strong enough that their continued survival depends on it rather than outsiders.


Your comments about the Kurds have some merit…but there are some important aspects that need to be brought into the discussion…number one is the fact that ISIS came about directly as a result of US arming ‘rebels’ like FSA…Kerry is on tape saying that FSA fighters and arms given to them by the west and GCC simply morphed into ISIS…so let’s keep in mind how it all started…this was in 2012, one year after the US put in place the project to topple Assad, by transporting radical jihadist mercenaries from around the world, including thousands of Uighurs from China…

Then, once ISIS sprang up as a natural [and even predictable] consequence of this evil project, the US basically used ISIS as an excuse to even be in Syria…both in the air, and eventually on the ground, partnering with the Kurds…the main problem was that a lot of the Sunni Arab tribes that actually rightfully live on most of the territory east of the Euphrates, were getting pulled into ISIS…not all of them, some were sworn enemies, but some of them were leaning towards the Caliphate, which actually dealt reasonably fairly with ordinary civilians…That was the big accomplishment of the SDF, to basically keep the tribal areas from being absorbed into ISIS…

It should be worth mentioning that this was good for Assad also, since a powerful caliphate on this territory could have been the deciding factor in the battle to keep the regime intact…the Russians and Iranians helping Damascus likewise benefited from the fact that somebody was fighting these fanatics…The Kurds did do a fair bit of dying in this fight, including their women fighters…so that must be recognized…

But here is where the situation is now…the Kurds cannot be allowed to carve up Syria, which became the US Plan B after Assad won the regime change war…It’s not workable for some very legit reasons…one is those same Arab tribes that actually own most of the land…and second is the fact that Turkey is not going to allow it…also the fact that it would be the end of Syria as a unitary country…

Right now the Kurds are making some bad noises…they want the French and British to declare a no fly zone there…and also to replace the US as a sponsor of their independent Rojava…at the same time, some more rational elements are in discussions with Damascus…but they have been there before…they lost the entire Afrin pocket because they failed to come to terms with Damascus…Turkey always said that they would not take Afrin if the Kurds there recognized Damascus rule and their fighters joined the SAA…they said ‘no’…so it was Putin actually that let Erdogan into Afrin, but let him use aviation only selectively…

Now the Kurds need to make up their minds…they can part of Syria like everybody else [Syria is a multiethnic and multiconfessional nation]…or they can continue to be a stick in the wheel, which will result in only more conflict…everybody is ready now for the final peace in Syria and the US leaving is a very big factor in letting the country repair itself and resume a normal life…

S Melanson

Well said


I’d agree that it is time for the Kurds to make up their minds. But up until now, it would have been difficult for them to do so even if they wanted to badly. I don’t recall saying anything that sounded like the US didn’t do any of the stuff you pointed out their doing. Absolutely they did; US actions and motives have been putrid throughout the Middle East ever since they took the mantle of putrid imperialism in the region from the Brits (who were putrid ever since they stole it from the Ottomans, who were kind of putrid themselves). But the Kurds did not wag the US dog in any of that. What the Kurds did was find the only port available in a very nasty storm–and once you’ve made that rather forced choice it’s hard to back out. I would actually say it’s potentially kind of lucky for the Kurds that the US are backstabbing them now rather than, say, a few years down the road when they might have had fewer options and attitudes on all sides might have hardened further. In fact, it may be better for them than if the US had stayed on side with them for a long time, because the Kurds did have a political project going which frankly is not compatible with being US stooges; if they haven’t lost the plot on it already it would certainly have died if they spent a couple decades working for the Americans.


Interesting take.

Rüdiger Preiss

“But up until now, it would have been difficult for them to do so even if they wanted to badly.” They could have asked for the SAA to take over Afrin.


Hello FB. Not bad.

The Kurds are a nothing, militarily. The SAA and Co. put the hurt into ISIS, which was US trained ( i.e. the IS units holding Palmyra were supposedly largely consisting of former Iraqi Army troops ) and supported. They were rolling right at Damascus and even Mossad has admitted this, before Russia entered the game. While The SAA was making progress later on in eastern Syria, the US let a whole bunch of IS flow out of Iraq and Raqqa, so it could fight the Syrian government and crew, as they secured Palmyra and the Iraqi border. Al-Tanf sprang up at the same time, what a coincidence.

Even recently, the Kurds were farting around near the Euphrates for about a month and were not making progress until massive Coalition airstrikes plowed things out of the way. They got their butts handed to them in Afrin, by a gutted TAF. The SDF would be wiped in a hurry without the US. They better knock it off and fly right or they could lose permanently. A lot of the locals in areas they control are plenty po’d with what they have been doing lately.

I am not a fan of the SDF and they are getting what they have earned. My take on it. Fare thee well FB.

Hisham Saber

Exactly. The Kurds were duped by the U.S. and Israel. Now they will have to pay the piper. Its no wonder they are literally on their knees asking Damascus for talks, and that perhaps the Syrian Arabs will let things go. Same as in Iraq, where Kurdish b treachery knows no bounds.


Hisham…the Kurds are not exactly on their knees…Damascus just rejected their demands for a ‘settlement’ and I think SF has more details on that elsewhere…basically the Kurds are offering to let the SAA control the border with Turkey, so as to shield them from invasion…but Kurds get to control everything else, the same ‘deal’ as they have always offered…that’s not acceptable to Damascus…the way the Kurds are going I don’t think they are going to come to their senses anytime soon…I think Assad and Putin will let Erdog soften them up and that may start fairly soon…

Bigaess Wangmane

The Syrian government, president and the people owe the Kurds nothing. One thing you chose to conveniently overlook is how those same western powers (The US/NATO/Israel) that Kurds readily flocked to, as well as Saudi Arabia, Qatar(initially), Turkey, the UAE & others contributed significant resources to every, single, terrorist organisation that was fighting Assad, even going as far as to create some themselves (ISIS). Now, lets address every single point you brought up:

Riiiiight. And of course Syrian and Russian bombing and artillery campaigns had no collateral damage.

The difference is that the Russians and the SAA went well out of their way to avoid collateral damage, going as far as giving the insurgents and their families the option of laying down their heavy weapons in exchange for either a reconciliation agreement or a free bus ride to their jihadi stronghold (Idlib) rather than risk even one more civilian life than necessary.

Yeah, US bombing is probably somewhat more indiscriminate

Very indiscriminate, indeed.

I don’t know what they’re supposed to have done

They could’ve started by not trying to create a Kurdistan on the bones of innocent civilians in Raqqa

Reformed US bombing practices with their amazing psychic powers? Left ISIS in control?

Remind me again who created, armed, funded, trained and ferried ISIS again?

Really, once they’d accepted US help in the first place, which was at the time the alternative to being wiped out

Wiped out by who? They sold oil to the Turks and gave free passage to ISIS from Mosul through their occupied territory to attack SAA positions. Seems like they had no problems cooperating with “enemies” who were “wiping them out”.

As to treason, sure, whatever.

A common western attitude to a serious crime in every country on this planet, but yeah, “whatever“.

They had little reason to feel loyal to Syria to start with

Which hasn’t changed even with the now very real threat of Erdogan cleansing northern syria of kurds

at the point when they went military the central government had abdicated responsibility for their region (through no fault of its own, but that was the reality)

Through every fault of western imperial powers and the jihadis they imported in the 10’s of thousand

and if they had stayed what you would consider non-traitorous they would have ended up occupied and massacred by ISIS

Remind me once again who created ISIS

If the Syrian state wants them not to be traitors in future, it had better give them reason to feel like they belong in it and stay strong enough that their continued survival depends on it rather than outsiders.

The Kurds have already let their feelings be known to the syrian arab citizens that have lived under their occupation for over 3 years now, they don’t consider themselves as Syrian but as Kurdistanis, so let them leave and face Erdogan in Turkey (where they came from) if they feel that the Syrian People, Government and their Democratically Elected President still owe them something after what they’ve done and tried to do. Nobody owes the Kurds anything, especially the Syrian People. No Autonomy, No special concessions, be a Citizen of Syria or fight for your Kurdistan in the Hills of Turkey, good day!


Sure, the US et al. were pretty awful villains in the whole thing. And your point is? Imagine for a moment you’re a Kurd. Your town is being attacked by ISIS, which is going to head-chop you and your father, rape your sister, mother and grandmother, destroy your people generally. The only people who have both the ability and the will to help you make that not happen is the Americans. Then some dude says to you, “Don’t accept their help! The Americans are terrible and this whole situation is their fault anyway!” What would you say to that dude? You would say bugger off, it doesn’t matter if what you tell me is true I have to save my life and my people.

OK, then after you start accepting the Americans’ help, and you’ve fought some battles, and there are American special forces wandering around, and American attaches trying to win your hearts and minds, and American planes bombing everything in sight, and you’re feeling uneasy about the whole thing, that dude comes back, and he says, “OK, you’re not all about to die any more. Ditch the Americans now. You know they’re bad news and they’ll probably betray you in the end.” What would you say to that dude? Well, it would require a bit more thinking but you’d probably still tell him no way. You’ve seen the Americans, you’ve seen their attitude. They would not like it if you asked them to leave. They would not say, “See you later, it’s been a slice!” If you tell them to take a hike, who’s going to then stand up for you when their bombs start falling as they declare you a terrorist organization, and the Turks start to pulverize you? Are the Russians going to stand up for you? Unlikely. Is the Syrian government going to? They never did before, why would they start now?

The Kurds are not a bunch of perfect knights in shining armour . . . any more than the SAA, or the Russians, or whoever. I’ve no doubt they’ve some sins on their ledger . . . just as most people in the region do, many of them sins against the Kurds. But everyone who’s totally mega-upset with them is in my opinion expecting the Kurds to hold to standards and selflessness that they would never expect from themselves. Or alternatively, they’re basing their position on the idea that the Kurds should be totally loyal to the Syrian state. But there are lots of reasons for the Kurds not to be totally loyal to the Syrian state, and few reasons for them to be so. They’re probably only in the Syrian state because of some lines drawn a hundred years ago by a couple of dudes named Sykes and Picot. In the end, if a group of people, especially a group of relatively poor people, is persistently not loyal to your government, the reason is that your government has not done what it takes to earn loyalty from that group.

I’m Canadian, I know what I’m talking about–when I was a kid, the francophone Quebecois were major upset and masses of them really wanted to leave the country. They were second-class citizens in their own province, the language of business and largely government in Montreal and Quebec City was English, there were a lot of problems. So the separatist government they elected brought in a lot of reforms, and the federal government to a fair extent did too. The francophones got protection for their language and culture and the economic elite in Quebec is now francophone. It took a while but now, 40 years later, nobody cares any more. Well, there are a few Quebecois hard leftists who care, but only because they think they can’t break with neoliberalism as long as the rest of Canada won’t. For the rest, Quebecois are basically fine with being Canadians; even the remaining separatist groups are pretty much just going through the motions. For a substantial minority, especially one with a regional majority, IMO there is in the end no middle ground between genocide and real equality; try to fuck them up but not that bad, and they will be pissed off and cause trouble for the rest of time.

Hisham Saber

Beautifully said. Thanks. Someone had to put this clown in his lace propagating Zionist non-sense. Kurdistan is a Kurdish/ Israeli scheme. And its now been blown to pieces. I say good.

Rüdiger Preiss

Excellent response.

Hisham Saber

Syria and Iraq both have been the victims of Kurdish treason. When the Turks have been massacring Kurds for the last 100 years, who do you think gave them refuge, as ordinary Syrian and Iraqi citizens, with full rights?

The Kurds have been duped by Israel, which had other plans, which are now in complete tatters.

Hisham Saber

Nicely put.

David Pryce

Raqqa was cleared of ISIS long before any campaign started and all the coalition of the killing did was destroy all infrastructure in Al Raqqa As many Arab tribes and ppl loyal to Damascus lived there. They will be licking there lips to take revenge


build the wall…..in USA


Your problem is that you don’t have many angloindians, like Tarantino and that guy that is or was married with Angelina, so your destiny is to be latinoindians. Clever the Castilians, no? They haven’t killed almost all the indians.


Build three walls. Two to surround California and NewYork.

Joao Alfaiate

Hey! Wait a minute! Don’t fence me in with all these lefties!


Its ok. Folks like you are needed to guard the walls and keep the Zio bastards inside. :)


Even traitors, Syrian Kurds, must be protected by their government from foreign aggression. The Syrian government has the solemn responsibility to protect its Kurdish citizens from Turkish aggression. The Syrian Kurds would be foolish not to seek protection from a pending Turkish slaughter.


In that case the Kurds of fighting age must enlist in the SAA and do their duty to Syria.


In that case the SAA one of this days must be SA or SRA (R of Republic).

Hisham Saber

When they start acting like Syrian citizens, not some mercenary force for the U.S./Israel to split Syria and Iraq into northern Kurdish provinces. The Arabs of Syria and Iraq are very, very upset, seething at the blatant treachery of these Kurds, who know no loyalties. The Kurds have been duped by the U.S./Israel, they bet on the wrong horse and lost, big time.


Might have had something to do with the truckloads of weapons uncle sam was constantly supplying them with but yes like you and others have said I have no sympathies whatsoever for the kurds they have shown themselves to be conniving and two faced traitors to their country and are now squealing when their yank “friends” have pulled the rug from under their feet.

Chuma Anierobi

All these rouges must leave the Syrian people alone. Their plans failed since Russia said NO more regime change after the bastard destruction of Libya by Obama.

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