Syrian War Report – March 19, 2018: Eastern Ghouta Battle Enters Final Phase, Afrin Falls

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On March 18, the Turkish Armed Forces (TAF) and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) established full control over the city of Afrin.

The city had been the main stronghold of the YPG in northeastern Syria. However, the YPG had withdrawn from it almost without fighting. A notable part of civilians had also fled to the government-held area in the province of Aleppo.

According to Turkish sources, the TAF and the FSA captured a large number of weapons and ammunition, including US-made TOW and Russian-made Konkurs anti-tank guided missiles, in Afrin.

Turkish President Recept Erdogan announced that Ankara “will have to take necessary steps to rebuild Afrin, raise infrastructure and wipe out traces of terrorists.”

“We are not there to occupy but to wipe out terror groups and to achieve peace in Afrin,” he added. However, experts doubt that Turkish forces will leave Afrin voluntarily any time soon.

Following the success in Afrin, the TAF and the FSA advanced north and northwest of the city capturing 29 more villages, which had been mostly abandoned by YPG members also. The YPG and its political wing, the PYD, sacrificed Afrin for its political ambitions rejecting all opportunities to reconcile with the Damascus government and to receive a help from the Syrian-Iranian-Russian alliance.

In Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have liberated the areas of Saqba and Kafr Batna from Faylaq al-Rahman and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda). By March 19, the SAA had prepared to storm Ain Terma, Zamalka and Ebreen.

Reports also circulate that members of Faylaq al-Rahman are now negotiating a withdrawal agreement with Damascus. However, any wide-scale agreement will likely be not possible while Hayat Tahrir al-Sham keeps notable presence in the area.

Negotiations are also ongoing in the areas of Harasta and Douma.

In eastern Qalamoun militants attacked SAA positions near the al-Sin airbase capturing a T-72 battle tank and shooting down a Su-24, or MiG-23 – it is complicated to identify from the released video, warplane of the Syrian Air Force.

US-backed militant groups operating in the at-Tanf area are preparing to attack the SAA in eastern Syria, the Syrian pro-opposition news outlet Enab Baladi reported citing Mohanad al-Talaa, a commander of the so-called Revolutionary Commando Army.

Meanwhile, reports appeared that US-backed forces had been massing troops on the eastern bank of the Euphrates.

Syrian analysts consider a possibility that the US and its proxies may use some provocation, a shelling or a staged chemical attack, to attack government forces in eastern Syria. Such scenario becomes more likely as tensions between Russia and the US are growing.

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  • Mr. Alwaysbanned

    YPG should hand over Minagh and Tal Rifaat to SAA as soon as possible.
    If FSA will be able to capture these areas, then Aleppo city will be under a serious threat.

    • Hulusi Akar

      Turkey doesnt care about minagh and the airbase, but they will definitely get tel rifat as revenge against ypg terrorists that showed dead bodies of fsa rebels on a truck. Tel rifat is more important than afrin for the rebels.

      • Mr. Alwaysbanned

        It’s syrian business, not turkish.

        • Hulusi Akar

          It is Turkish business when PKK threatens Turkey. Everywhere where PKK is active the country should act against it or Turkey will.

          • velociraptor

            philosophy of rogue countries and it is against international low. turkey will pay.

          • Hulusi Akar

            Sorry I dont discuss with PKK terrorists.

          • velociraptor

            nice words from turkish terrorist. btw., i am not kurd, only enemy of turkey.

          • Hulusi Akar

            Thanks for confirming that you’re a terrorist. You are blocked.

          • Estorilista (Sargakekek)

            Clap, clap, clap.

          • Boris Kazlov

            And friend of Kurds because they raised the Israeli flag.

          • velociraptor

            Also not. kurd = turk

          • Mr. Alwaysbanned

            Defend your borders then.
            If I’m not mistaken Turkey had build a concrete wall along the Syrian border.

          • Hulusi Akar

            Walls are a temporary solution, if Syrian gov. cant remove terrorists from their soil then Turkey will. They launch attacks from Syria and Iraq.

          • Turbofan

            Remember Turkey was an active participant in destabilizing Syria (regime change). The problems Turkey is fighting in Syria, it helped create..PKK gained control of Manbij and Afrin only after Syria became destabilized….Again something which Turkey created

          • Hulusi Akar

            Dude its doesnt matter what the reason are that PKK is in Syria. PKK was always in Syria btw hafez assad harbored PKK in north of Syria and faciliated and trained them. Right now they are bordering Turkey and its a threat. So Turkey will conduct operations and remove them. Also Turkey should have gone in Syria in 2012. Our gov. were fooled by americans dozens of times.

          • 888mladen .

            It must be that Assad have trained Armenians also so Turkey needed to protect its borders and use Turkmen and other Salafi terrorist to wipe out their population in North West Syria just like Hitler who in order to protect German minority invaded Sudetenland in 1938 and started genocide over its population. The world can still remember brutality of the Ottoman Empire’s rule which lasted for 500 years.

            https://s14-eu5.ixquick.com/wikioimage/7cb14ffd29562e9d8844b501371e668a.jpg
            References to impalement in Babylonia and the Neo-Assyrian Empire are found as early as the 18th century BC. Within the Ottoman Empire, this form of execution continued into the 20th century.

          • Mr. Alwaysbanned

            They hardly can remove because the Turkish and US governments sent thousands of tons of modern weapons to the so called rebels

    • psychodrill

      Unfortunately, if NATO or at least the US at At-Tanf and Turkey based from Manbj to Afrin will capture Aleppo if they really want that. The question is can they keep it; especially in a general war. And what does Russia do. Remember the thinly veiled partition plan for Syria in 2011 was to allow a Turkish puppet state ruled from Aleppo. The ottoman province of Aleppo included modern areas of Turkey into the center of the country and was to be under French direct control (Treaty of Sevres 1919).

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    • AlexanderAmproz

      Russia, China, Turkey, Iran,

      main worries and Business is the US/Zionist/Nato,
      and avoid a WW3

  • jerry hamilton

    I think America will make sure this is not the final phase.

  • Smith Ricky

    SAA for the win 💪

  • Jim Prendergast

    It would be wise to make sure that the U.S. knows that it is up against defence in depth. Local tribal groups, Militias, S.A.A. Hezb. P.M.U. from Iraq, Turkish, Iranian, and Russian government forces, possible Chinese involvement. The U.S. is in a strategically inferior position. Their allies (Saudi, Israel) are useless as tits on a bull when it comes to a fight. This would be a walkover.

    • Redadmiral

      You can forget about Turkey the Yanki ally

  • Redadmiral

    As the Yanki/Izzi Scum drag together ISIL/ISIS/JaI/HTS and other assorted throat-cutting and head-chopping terror gangs in preparation for an attack on the SAA and its allies it has been confirmed that they are air-lifting some terror commanders out of Iraq for this operation. Surely, the time has come for Iraq to ally itself with Syria in order that both can tackle their common enemy with greater effectiveness. http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13961228001080

    • Attrition47

      Shoot the bastards out of the sky.

  • gustavo

    The war is not over until terrorists be eliminated all over Syria land, and USA-ISRAEÑ-NATO(Turkey) hands and feet be out of Syria. Syria government must fight several fronts at the same time.

    • 888mladen .

      It’s not over until it’s over. How many times we have been told it’s over and it’s still going on. As long as US exists it will not be over.

  • Dissident X

    Turkey should continue rolling to Manbij, if not the entire eastern bank of the Euphrates.
    At the same time, they should voluntarily absorb the FSA into the TAF, and make an iron-clad agreement to withdraw from Syrian territory at specific strategic milestones, and/or timeframes, which would be governed by Russian/Iranian mediation.
    Erdogan is a slippery snake and needs to have public withdrawl parameters, otherwise, he’s just like any other faction in Syrian ultimately to break up the territory of the country.

  • Nigel Maund

    The Russians and Syrians need to be well prepared for the next CIA inspired Deep State attack on the SAA almost certainly following an engineered “False Flag” attack designed to be used by the Western MSM to portray Syria as the protagonist and in a very bad light justifying US – Proxy attacks. This is their standard devious modus operandi! So predictable!………..and yet so Evil.

  • Vitex

    It seems to me that more and more of the “refugees” coming out of E Gouta are men of military age. I guess the US isn’t paying them enough to be snackbars.

  • sagbotgamot

    if the americans can occupy syrian land without permission, why not turkey? any country with strong army and undermines syrian sovereignty are welcome in Syria. Israel already have Syria’s Golan heights. Who’s next?

    • AlexanderAmproz

      Toilet paper is more useful than UN…

      It’s Tragic for the Planet Future !

  • AK 47

    Long life Assad and S.A,A.

  • 888mladen .

    A perspective of Syrian leadership on Tweeter
    https://twitter.com/IvanSidorenko1/status/974729918448795649

  • alejoeisabel

    Israel wants greater US involvement in Syria so that Syria continues to be weak. Syria needs Iranian and Russian protection from Israeli threats.

  • Red Pilled ThoughtCrimes

    once terrorists gone they can give syria lnd back

  • AlexanderAmproz

    http://www.voltairenet.org/article200232.html

    Four days to declare a Cold War

    by Thierry Meyssan

    The week that has just ended was exceptionally rich in events. But no media were able to report it, because they had all deliberately masked certain of their number in order to protect the story that was being woven by their government. London had attempted to provoke a major conflict, but lost to Russia, President Trump and Syria.

    VOLTAIRE NETWORK | DAMASCUS (SYRIA) | 20 MARCH 2018

    Although it has the fourth largest army in the world, the United Kindom is unable to defy Russia without the support of allies. It therefore has to invent a casus belli to make its partners react and lead them to stand beside it.

    The British government and certain of its allies, including US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have attempted to launch a Cold War against Russia.

    Their plan was to fabricate an attack against an ex-double agent in Salisbury and at the same time a chemical attack against the « moderate rebels » in the Ghouta. The conspirators’ intention was to profit from the efforts of Syria to liberate the suburbs of its capital city and the disorganisation of Russia on the occasion of its Presidential election. Had these manipulations worked, the United Kingdom would have pushed the USA to bomb Damascus, including the Presidential palace, and demand that the United Nations General Assembly exclude Russia from the Security Council.

    However, the Syrian and Russian Intelligence Services got wind of what was being plotted. They realised that the US agents in the Ghouta who were preparing an attack against the Ghouta were not working for the Pentagon, but for another US agency.

    In Damascus, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fayçal Miqdad, set up an emergency Press conference for 10 March, in order to alert his fellow citizens. From its own side, Moscow had first of all tried to contact Washington via the diplomatic channels. But aware that the US ambassador, Jon Huntsman Jr, is the director of Caterpillar, the company which had supplied tunneling materials to the jihadists so that they could build their fortifications, Moscow decided to bypass the usual diplomatic channels.

    Here’s how things played out:

    12 March 2018

    The Syrian army seized two chemical weapons laboratories, the first on 12 March in Aftris, and the second on the following day in Chifonya. Meanwhile, Russian diplomats pushed the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to get involved in the criminal investigation in Salisbury.

    In the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Theresa May violently accused Russia of having ordered the attack in Salisbury. According to her, the ex-double agent Sergueï Skripal and his daughter were poisoned by a military nerve gas of a type « developed by Russia » under the name of « Novitchok ». Since the Kremlin considers Russian citizens who have defected as legitimate targets, it is therefore highly likely that they ordered the crime.

    « Novitchok » is known by what has been revealed by two Soviet personalities, Lev Fyodorov and Vil Mirzayanov. The scientist Fyodorov published an article in the Russian weekly Top Secret (Совершенно секретно) in July 1992, warning about the extremely dangerous nature of this product, and warning against the use of old Soviet weaponry by the Western powers to destroy the environment in Russia and make it unlivable. In October 1992, he published a second article in the News of Moscow (Московские новости) with a counter-espionage executive, Mirzayanov, denouncing the corruption of certain generals and the traffic of « Novitchok » in which they were involved. However, they did not know to whom they may have sold the product. Mirzayanov was first of all arrested for high treason, then released. Fyodorov died in Russia last August, but Mirzayanov is living in exile in the United States, where he collaborates with the Department of Defense.

    JPEG – 35.4 kb

    Russian ex-counter intelligence officer Vil Mirzayanov defected to the United States. Now 83 years old, he comments on the Skripal affair from Boston.

    « Novitchok » was fabricated in a Soviet laboratory in Nurus, in what is now Uzbekistan. During the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it was destroyed by a US team of specialists. Uzbekistan and the United States, by necessity, have therefore possessed and studied samples of this substance. They are both capable of producing it.

    British Minister for Foreign Affairs Boris Johnson summoned the Russian ambassador in London, Alexandre Iakovenko. He gave him an ultimatum of 36 hours to check if any « Novitchok » was missing from their stocks. The ambassador replied that none was missing, because Russia had destroyed all of the chemical weapons it had inherited from the Soviet Union, as witnessed by the OPCW, which had drawn up a certified report.

    After a telephone discussion with Boris Johnson, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in turn condemned Russia for the attack in Salisbury.

    Meanwhile, a debate was under way at the UN Security Council concerning the situation in the Ghouta. The permanent representative for the US, Nikki Haley, declared – « About one year ago, after the sarin gas attack perpetrated in Khan Cheïkhoun by the Syrian régime, the United States warned the Council. We said that faced with the systematic inaction of the international community, states are sometimes obliged to act on their own. The Security Council did not react, and the United States bombed the air base from which al Assad had launched his chemical attack. We are reiterating the same warning today ».

    The Russian Intelligence Services handed out documents from the US staff. They showed that the Pentagon was ready to bomb the Presidential palace and the Syrian Ministries, on the model of what it had done during the taking of Baghdad (3 to 12 April 2003).

    Commenting the declaration by Nikki Haley, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, who had always called the attack in Khan Cheïkhoun a « Western manipulation », revealed that the false information which had led the White House into error and triggered the bombing of the Al-Chaayrate air base, had in fact come from a British laboratory which had never revealed how it came to possess its samples.

    13 March 2018

    The Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs published a Press release condemning a possible US military intervention, and announcing that if Russian citizens were harmed in Damascus, Moscow would riposte proportionally, since the Russian President is constitutionally responsible for the security of his fellow citizens.

    Bypassing the official diplomatic channels, Russian Chief of Staff General Valeri Guerassimov contacted his US counterpart General Joseph Dunford to inform him of his fear of a false flag chemical attack in Ghouta. Dunford took this information vey seriously, and alerted US Defense Secretary General Jim Mattis, who referred the matter to President Donald Trump. In view of the Russian insistence that this piece of foul play was being prepared without the knowledge of the Pentagon, the White House asked the Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo, to identify those responsible for the conspiracy.

    We do not know the result of this internal enquiry, but President Trump acquired the conviction that his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was implicated. The Secretary of State was immediately asked to interrupt his official journey in Africa and return to Washington.

    Theresa May wrote to the General Secretary of the United Nations accusing Russia of having ordered the attack in Salisbury, and convened an emergency meeting of the Security Council. Without waiting, she expelled 23 Russian diplomats.

    JPEG – 23.2 kb

    Published one month and a half before the attack in Salisbury, Amy Knight’s book presents what was to become MI5’s thesis. The author herself maintains that she has not the slightest proof of what she is claiming.

    At the request of President of the House of Commons Interior Committee Yvette Cooper, British Secretary for the Interior Amber Rudd announced that MI5 (Military Interior Secret Services ) is going to re-open 14 enquiries into deaths which, according to US sources, were ordered by the Kremlin.

    By doing do, the British government adopted the theories of Professor Amy Knight. On 22 January 2018, this US Sovietologist published a very strange book – Orders to Kill – the Putin régime and political murder. The author, who is « the » specialist on the ex-KGB, attempts to demonstrate that Vladimir Putin is a serial killer responsible for dozens of political assassinations, from the terrorist attacks in Moscow in 1999 to the attack on the Boston Marathon in 2013, by way of the execution of Alexandre Litvinenko in London in 2006 or that of Boris Nemtsov in Moscow in 2015. However, she admits herself that there is absolutely no proof of her accusations.

    The European Liberals then joined the fray. Ex-Prime Minister of Belgium Guy Verhofstadt, who presides their group in the European Parliament, called on the European Union to adopt sanctions against Russia. His counterpart at the head of their British party, Sir Vince Cable, proposed a European boycott of the World Football Cup. And already, Buckingham Palace announced that the royal family has canceled their trip to Russia.

    The UK communications regulator, Ofcom, announced that it might ban the channel Russia Today as a retaliatory measure, even though RT has on no occasion violated British law.

    The Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs summoned the British ambassador in Moscow to inform him that reciprocal measures would soon be indicated in retaliation for the expulsion of Russian diplomats from London.

    President Trump announced on Twitter that he had fired his Secretary of State, with whom he had not yet been in contact. He was replaced by Mike Pompeo, ex-Director of the CIA, who, the night before, had confirmed the authenticity of the Russian information transmitted by General Dunford. On his arrival in Washington, Tillerson obtained confirmation of his dismissal from White House General Secretary General John Kelly.

    JPEG – 26.8 kb

    The ex-CEO of the largest multinational in the world, ExxonMobil, thought he was untouchable. But to his great surprise, Rex Tillerson was brutally dismissed by Donald Trump. The former believed he was serving the Anglo-Saxon world, while the latter considers him to be a traitor to his country.

    Ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is a product of the Texan middle class. He and his family worked for the US Scouts, of whom he became the National President (2010-12). Culturally close to England, he did not hesitate, when he became President of the mega-multinational Exxon-Mobil (2006-16), not only to wage a politically correct campaign favouring the acceptance of young gays into the Scouts, but also to recruit mercenaries in British Guiana. He is said to be a member of the Pilgrims Society, the most prestigious of Anglo-US clubs, presided by Queen Elizabeth II, a number of whose members were part of the Obama administration.

    During his functions as Secretary of State, the quality of his education provided a bond for Donald Trump, considered by US high society to be a buffoon. He was in disagreement with his President on three major subjects which allow us to define the ideology of the conspirators –

    – Like London and the US deep state, he thought it would be useful to diabolise Russia in order to consolidate the power of the Anglo-Saxons in the Western camp ;

    – Like London, he thought that in order to maintain Western colonialism in the Middle East, it was necessary to favour Iranian President Cheikh Rohani against the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei. He therefore supported the 5+1 agreement.

    – Like the US deep state, he considered that the swing of North Korea towards the United States should remain secret, and be used to justify a military deployment which would be directed in reality against the People’s Repubic of China. He was therefore in favour of official talks with Pyongyang, but opposed to a meeting between the two heads of state.

    14 March 2018

    While Washington was still in shock, Theresa May spoke once again before the House of Commons to develop her accusation, while all around the world, British diplomats spoke to numerous inter-governmental organisations in order to broadcast the message. Responding to the Prime Minister, Blairist deputy Chris Leslie qualified Russia as a rogue state and demanded its suspension from the UN Security Council. Theresa May agreed to examine the question, but stressed that the outcome could only be decided by the General Assembly in order to avoid the Russian veto.

    The North Atlantic Council (NATO) met in Brussels at the request of the United Kingdom. The 29 member states drew a link between the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the attack in Salisbury. They then decided that Russia was « probably » responsible for these two events.

    JPEG – 78 kb

    Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary General of NATO, and permanent representative for the United Kingdom to the North Atlantic Council Sarah MacIntosh. She is the ex-Director of Defence and Intelligence questions to the British Minister for Foreign Affairs, a post that she handed on to Jonathan Allen, current chargé d’affaires at the UNO.

    In New York, the permanent representative of Russia, Vasily Nebenzya, proposed to the members of the Security Council that they adopt a declaration attesting to their common will to shed light on the attack in Salisbury and handing over the enquiry to the OPCW in the respect of international procedures. But the United Kingdom refused any text which did not contain the expression that Russia was « probably responsible » for the attack.

    During the public debate which followed, UK chargé d’affaire Jonathan Allen represented his country. He is an agent of MI6 who created the British War Propaganda Service and gives active support to the jihadists in Syria. He declared – « Russia has already interfered in the affairs of other countries, Russia has already violated international law in Ukraine, Russia has comtempt for civilian life, as witnessed by the attack on a commercial aircraft over Ukraine by Russian mercenaries, Russia protects the use of chemical weapons by Assad (…) The Russian state is responsible for this attempted murder ». The permanent representative for France, François Delattre, who, by virtue of a derogation by President Sarkozy, was trained at the US State Department, noted that his country had launched an initiative to end the impunity of those who use chemical weapons. He implied that the initiative, originally directed at Syria, could also be turned against Russia.

    Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya pointed out that the session had been convened at London’s request, but that it is public at Moscow’s request. He observed that the United Kingdom is violating international law by treating this subject at the Security Council while keeping the OPCW out of its enquiry. He noted that if London had been able to identify the « Novotchik », it’s because it has the formula and can therefore make its own. He noted Russia’s desire to collaborate with the OPCW in the respect for international procedures.

    15 March 2018

    The United Kingdom published a common declaration which had been cosigned the night before by France and Germany, as well as Rex Tillerson, who at that moment was still US Secretary of State. The text reiterated British suspicions. It denounced the use of « a neurotoxic agent of military quality, and of a type developed by Russia », and affirmed that it was « highly probable that Russia is responsible for the attack ».

    The Washington Post published an op-ed piece by Boris Johnson, while the US Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, established new sanctions against Russia. These are not connected to the current affair, but to allegations of interference in US public life. The decree nonetheless mentions the attack in Salisbury as proof of the underhand methods of Russia.

    British Secretary for Defence, the young Gavin Williamson, declared that after the expulsion of its diplomats, Russia should « shut up and go away » (sic). This is the first time since the end of the Second World War that a representative of a permanent member state of the Security Council has employed such a vocabulary in the face of another member of the Council. Sergueï Lavrov commented – « He’s a charming young man. He must want to ensure his place in History, by making shock declarations […] Perhaps he lacks education ».

    JPEG – 23.2 kb

    Throughout its long history, England has never hesitated to lie and betray its oath in order to defend its interests. This is how it earned its French nickname of « perfide Albion » (after the Latin name for England)

    Conclusion

    In the space of four days, the United Kingdom and its allies have laid the premises of a new division of the world, a Cold War.

    However, Syria is not Iraq and the UNO is not the G8 (from which Russia has been excluded because of its adhesion to Crimea and its support of Syria). The United States are not going to destroy Damascus, and Russia will not be excluded from the Security Council. After having resigned from the European Union, then having refused to sign the Chinese declaration about the Silk Road, the United Kingdom thought to improve its stature by eliminating a competitor. By this piece of dirty work, it imagined that it would acquire a new dimension and become the « Global Britain » announced by Madame May. But it is destroying its own credibility.

    Thierry Meyssan