Rifles

The Pronk Pops Show 923, July 5, 2017, Story 1: Chinese Communists Need To Replace North Korean Kim Jung Eng To Stop Nuclear Proliferation Or Face Embargo On All Chinese Goods Going To North America and European Union –Neither Diplomatic Nor Military Options Are Viable — Conventional and Nuclear War Are Not Viable Options — Videos — Story 2: Microsoft’s Founder Bill Gates Finally Gets A Clue — Open Borders Mass Migration Is Not In The Interest of Neither The American People Nor The People of Europe — Bad Ideas Have Negative Consequences — What Is Bill Gates Afraid of? — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 923,  July 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 922,  July 3, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 921,  June 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 920,  June 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 919,  June 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 918,  June 26, 2017 

Pronk Pops Show 917,  June 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 916,  June 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 915,  June 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 914,  June 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 913,  June 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 912,  June 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 911,  June 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 910,  June 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 909,  June 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 908,  June 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 907,  June 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 906,  June 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 905,  June 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 904,  June 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 903,  June 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 902,  May 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 901,  May 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 900,  May 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 899,  May 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 898,  May 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 897,  May 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 896,  May 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 895,  May 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 894,  May 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 893,  May 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 892,  May 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 891,  May 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 890,  May 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 889,  May 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 888,  May 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 887,  May 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 886,  May 4, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 885,  May 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 884,  May 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 883 April 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 882: April 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 881: April 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 880: April 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 879: April 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 878: April 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 877: April 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 876: April 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 874: April 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 873: April 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 872: April 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 871: April 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 869: April 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 868: April 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 867: April 5, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 866: April 3, 2017

Image result for cartoons communist china and north koreaImage result for cartoons communist china and north koreaImage result for cartoons open borders and mass migration into europeImage result for cartoons bill gates on mass migrationImage result for cartoons bill gates open borders

Image result for cartoons bill gates open borders

Image result for cartoons bill gates open borders

Image result for cartoons open borders

 Story 1: Chinese Communists Need To Replace North Korean Kim Jung Eng To Stop Nuclear Proliferation In Asia and Middle East Or Face Embargo On All Chinese Goods Going To North America and European Union –Neither Diplomatic Nor Military Options Are Viable — Conventional and Nuclear War Are Not Viable Options — Videos —

Image result for north korea icbmImage result for north korea icbm

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Image result for u.s. trade imbalance with china 2016

Image result for u.s. trade imbalance with china

Image result for u.s. trade imbalance with china

 

U.N. Security Council holds emergency meeting after North Korea missile test

How North Korea’s ICBM test has “changed the game”

John Bolton calls for ‘sweeping’ set of sanctions on China

Dr. Sebastian Gorka talks US response to North Korea

A military attack would need to be severe to stop North Korea: Rep. Rooney

US vows to use “military force” against North Korea if needed

Heavy move: US threatens China for trading with North Korea after missile test

THE DEBATE – North Korea Missile Threat: Old problems, new solutions?

U.S. and S. Korea respond to N. Korea’s ICBM test with missiles

North Korea tests ICBM

North Korea launches first successful intercontinental ballistic missile test

  • he current population of China is 1,388,284,755 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • China population is equivalent to 18.47% of the total world population.
  • China ranks number 1 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in China is 148 per Km2 (383 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 9,390,784 Km2 (3,625,800 sq. miles)
  • 59.1 % of the population is urban (819,767,019 people in 2017)
  • The median age in China is 37.3 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/china-population/

  • The current population of the Russian Federation is 143,374,281 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • Russia population is equivalent to 1.91% of the total world population.
  • Russia ranks number 9 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in Russia is 9 per Km2 (23 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 16,299,981 Km2 (6,293,455 sq. miles)
  • 73.2 % of the population is urban (104,883,814 people in 2017)
  • The median age in Russia is 38.9 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/russia-population/

 

  • The current population of North Korea is 25,406,349 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • North Korea population is equivalent to 0.34% of the total world population.
  • North Korea ranks number 52 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in North Korea is 211 per Km2 (546 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 120,387 Km2 (46,482 sq. miles)
  • 61.2 % of the population is urban (15,557,359 people in 2017)
  • The median age in North Korea is 34.1 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/north-korea-population/

  • The current population of the Republic of Korea is 50,706,772 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • South Korea population is equivalent to 0.67% of the total world population.
  • South Korea ranks number 27 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in South Korea is 522 per Km2 (1,351 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 97,235 Km2 (37,543 sq. miles)
  • 81.9 % of the population is urban (41,511,797 people in 2017)
  • The median age in South Korea is 41.1 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/south-korea-population/

  • The current population of Japan is 126,041,849 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • Japan population is equivalent to 1.68% of the total world population.
  • Japan ranks number 11 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in Japan is 346 per Km2 (896 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 364,571 Km2 (140,761 sq. miles)
  • 94.5 % of the population is urban (119,160,931 people in 2017)
  • The median age in Japan is 46.9 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/japan-population/

  • The current population of the United States of America is 326,491,238 as of Wednesday, July 5, 2017, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • The United States population is equivalent to 4.34% of the total world population.
  • The U.S.A. ranks number 3 in the list of countries (and dependencies) by population.
  • The population density in the United States is 36 per Km2 (92 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 9,155,898 Km2 (3,535,111 sq. miles)
  • 82.9 % of the population is urban (270,683,202 people in 2017)
  • The median age in the United States is 38.1 years.

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/us-population/

 

Countries in the world by population (2017)

This list includes both countries and dependent territories. Data based on the latest United Nations Population Division estimates.
Click on the name of the country or dependency for current estimates (live population clock), historical data, and projected figures.
See also: World Population 

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by-country/

 

The world’s 10 biggest economies in 2017

Kayakers take in the last of the day's light as they paddle past a ship anchored off Cape Town, May 1, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings (SOUTH AFRICA - Tags: IMAGES OF THE DAY SOCIETY) - RTR2LVIK

The US dominates, but other economies are catching up
Image: REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

The economy of the United States is the largest in the world. At $18 trillion, it represents a quarter share of the global economy (24.3%), according to the latest World Bank figures.

Image: World Bank

China follows, with $11 trillion, or 14.8% of the world economy. Japan is in third place with an economy of $4.4 trillion, which represents almost 6% of the world economy.

European countries take the next three places on the list: Germany in fourth position, with a $3.3 trillion economy; the United Kingdom in fifth with $2.9 trillion; and France in sixth with $2.4 trillion.

India is in seventh place with $2 trillion, and Italy in eighth with an economy of over $1.8 trillion.

Ninth place goes to Brazil, with an almost $1.8 trillion economy.

And in 10th is Canada, with an economy of over $1.5 trillion.

The economy of the United States is larger than the combined economies of numbers three to 10 on the list.

 The world's biggest economies

Fastest-growing economy

The US may not dominate for much longer, however.

Although China trails the US by $7 trillion, it’s catching up. China’s economy grew by 6.7% in 2016, compared with America’s 1.6%, according to the IMF.

China has also overtaken India as the fastest-growing large economy. The IMF’s World Economic Outlook estimated China’s economy grew at 6.7% in 2016, compared with India’s 6.6%.

Brazil’s economy has contracted in the last year by 3.5%, the only one in the top 10 to do so.

The chart above shows the world’s 40 biggest economies individually, but grouped by colour into continents.

The Asian bloc clearly has a larger share than anywhere else, representing just over a third (33.84%) of global GDP. That’s compared to North America, which represents just over a quarter, at 27.95%.

Europe comes third with just over one-fifth of global GDP (21.37%).

Together, these three blocs generate more than four-fifths (83.16%) of the world’s total output.

The biggest economies in 2050

new study by PricewaterhouseCooper says that China will be in first place by 2050, because emerging economies will continue to grow faster than advanced ones.

India will rank second, the US will be third, and fourth place is expected to go to Indonesia.

The UK could be down to 10th place by 2050, while France could be out of the top 10 and Italy out of the top 20 as they are overtaken by faster-growing emerging economies such as Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam.

The report also says that the world economy could more than double in size by 2050, far outstripping population growth, due to technology-driven productivity.

 

 

 

Image result for u.s. trade imbalance with china

Image result for u.s. trade imbalance with china

Image result for u.s. trade imbalance with china

 

Demographics

North Korea South Korea
Population 24,851,627 (July 2014 est.) 49,039,986 (July 2014 est.)
Age structure 0-14 years: 21.5% (male 2,709,580/female 2,628,456)
15-24 years: 16.3% (male 2,041,861/female 1,997,413)
25-54 years: 44% (male 5,465,889/female 5,456,850)
55-64 years: 8.6% (male 1,007,667/female 1,127,455)
65 years and over: 9.7% (male 826,175/female 1,590,281) (2014 est.)
0-14 years: 14.1% (male 3,603,943/female 3,328,634)
15-24 years: 13.5% (male 3,515,271/female 3,113,257)
25-54 years: 47.3% (male 11,814,872/female 11,360,962)
55-64 years: 12.4% (male 3,012,051/female 3,081,480)
65 years and over: 12.7% (male 2,570,433/female 3,639,083) (2014 est.)
Median age total: 33.4 years
male: 31.8 years
female: 35 years (2014 est.)
total: 40.2 years
male: 38.7 years
female: 41.6 years (2014 est.)
Population growth rate 0.53% (2014 est.) 0.16% (2014 est.)
Birth rate 14.51 births/1,000 population (2014 est.) 8.26 births/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Death rate 9.18 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.) 6.63 deaths/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Net migration rate -0.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.) 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2014 est.)
Sex ratio at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.94 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.51 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.08 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.69 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2014 est.)
Infant mortality rate total: 24.5 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 27.18 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 21.68 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
total: 3.93 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 4.13 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 3.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2014 est.)
Life expectancy at birth total population: 69.81 years
male: 65.96 years
female: 73.86 years (2014 est.)
total population: 79.8 years
male: 76.67 years
female: 83.13 years (2014 est.)
Total fertility rate 1.98 children born/woman (2014 est.) 1.25 children born/woman (2014 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate NA less than 0.1% (2009 est.)
Nationality noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese homogeneous (except for about 20,000 Chinese)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS NA 9,500 (2009 est.)
Religions traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom
Christian 31.6% (Protestant 24%, Roman Catholic 7.6%), Buddhist 24.2%, other or unknown 0.9%, none 43.3% (2010 survey)
HIV/AIDS – deaths NA fewer than 500 (2009 est.)
Languages Korean Korean, English (widely taught in junior high and high school)
Literacy definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2008 est.)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 97.9%
male: 99.2%
female: 96.6% (2002)
Education expenditures NA 5% of GDP (2009)
Urbanization urban population: 60.3% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 0.63% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
urban population: 83.2% of total population (2011)
rate of urbanization: 0.71% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Drinking water source improved:
urban: 98.9% of population
rural: 96.9% of population
total: 98.1% of population
unimproved:
urban: 1.1% of population
rural: 3.1% of population
total: 1.9% of population (2012 est.)
improved:
urban: 99.7% of population
rural: 87.9% of population
total: 97.8% of population
unimproved:
urban: 0.3% of population
rural: 12.1% of population
total: 2.2% of population (2012 est.)
Sanitation facility access improved:
urban: 87.9% of population
rural: 72.5% of population
total: 81.8% of population
unimproved:
urban: 12.1% of population
rural: 27.5% of population
total: 18.2% of population (2012 est.)
improved:
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population0% of population
0% of population
0% of population (2012 est.)
Major cities – population PYONGYANG (capital) 2.843 million (2011) SEOUL (capital) 9.736 million; Busan (Pusan) 3.372 million; Incheon (Inch’on) 2.622 million; Daegu (Taegu) 2.447 million; Daejon (Taejon) 1.538 million; Gwangju (Kwangju) 1.503 million (2011)
Maternal mortality rate 81 deaths/100,000 live births (2010) 16 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
Physicians density 3.29 physicians/1,000 population (2003) 2.02 physicians/1,000 population (2010)
Hospital bed density 13.2 beds/1,000 population (2002) 10.3 beds/1,000 population (2009)
Obesity – adult prevalence rate 3.9% (2008) 7.7% (2008)
Contraceptive prevalence rate 68.6% (2002) 80%
note: percent of women aged 15-44 (2009)
Dependency ratios total dependency ratio: 44.9 %
youth dependency ratio: 31.1 %
elderly dependency ratio: 13.8 %
potential support ratio: 7.2 (2014 est.)
total dependency ratio: 37.1 %
youth dependency ratio: 19.9 %
elderly dependency ratio: 17.2 %
potential support ratio: 5.8 (2014 est.)

Source: CIA Factbook

http://www.indexmundi.com/factbook/compare/north-korea.south-korea/demographics

 

 

Story 2: Microsoft’s Founder Bill Gates Finally Gets A Clue — Open Borders Mass Migration Is Not In The Interest of Neither The American People Nor The People of Europe — Bad Ideas Have Negative Consequences — What Is Bill Gates Afraid of? — Videos

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Bill Gates in HUGE borders U-turn: ‘Brussels must make it HARDER for migrants to reach EU’

BILL GATES has made a massive open-borders U-turn and urged Brussels to make it more “difficult” for migrants to reach Europe.

By JOEY MILLAR

He had previously called on countries to take in more migrants but now appears to have completely reversed his view.The Microsoft chief said instead of opening the  borders, Brussels should fix the push-factors at the source by sending more foreign aid.He said: “On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees, but the more generous you are, the more word gets around about this – which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa.
“[ cannot] take in the huge, massive number of people who are wanting to make their way to Europe.”He said instead the EU must make it “more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via the current transit routes” while also relieving “enormous pressure” by sending foreign aid.
The 61-year-old said it was “phenomenal” German Chancellor  is currently spending 0.7 per cent of the country’s GDP on foreign aid and urged others to follow its example.Last year Mr Gates, who is worth an estimated 60 billion pounds, called on America to open its doors to Syrian migrants.
And he said Germany and Sweden were “to be congratulated” for opening its doors during the migrant crisis.He said the USA “had the capacity” to follow suit, claiming: “The total number of refugees is not a world record.”

Bill Gates migrantsGETTY

Bill Gates called on Europe to open its borders to migrants last year

Bill Gates migrantsGETTY

Last year Bill Gates praised Germany and Sweden’s approach to the migrant crisis

Mr Gates’ warnings came days after Italian interior minister Marco Minniti held emergency talks with his French and German counterparts regarding the migrant crisis.More than 80,000 migrants have already arrived in Italy this year, a rise of nearly one-fifth on the same period last year.

 

 

Bill Gates warns that Germany’s open door policy to migrants will overwhelm Europe and urges leaders to ‘make it more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via current routes’

  • Bill Gates warned of ‘huge’ number of migrants waiting to come to Europe 
  • He said generosity of European leaders will only encourage more to come 
  • 61-year-old said Europe must make it more difficult for people to cross border
  • Instead he suggested spending more money on foreign aid to treat the problem

Bill Gates has warned that European leaders risk deepening the migrant crisis by being too generous to those arriving on the continent.

The Microsoft founder said countries such as Germany will not be able to handle the ‘huge’ numbers of migrants waiting to leave Africa and find a better life overseas.

Instead, the 61-year-old suggested spending more on foreign aid to treat the root causes of migration, while making it more difficult for people to reach the continent.

Bill Gates warned European leaders they will worsen the migrant crisis by being over-generous to those arriving on the continent, and suggested spending more on foreign aid instead

Bill Gates warned European leaders they will worsen the migrant crisis by being over-generous to those arriving on the continent, and suggested spending more on foreign aid instead

Mr Gates said countries such as Germany cannot handle the 'huge' numbers of people wanting to travel to Europe (pictured, migrants arrive in Munich)

Mr Gates said countries such as Germany cannot handle the ‘huge’ numbers of people wanting to travel to Europe (pictured, migrants arrive in Munich)

Speaking in an interview with the German Welt am Sonntag newspaper, with a translation published by Breitbart, he said: ‘On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees.

‘But the more generous you are, the more word gets around about this — which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa.

‘Germany cannot possibly take in the huge number of people who are wanting to make their way to Europe.’

Mr Gates praised Chancellor Merkel’s commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on foreign aid as ‘phenomenal’, and asked other European leaders to follow suit.

But he added: ‘Europe must make it more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via the current transit routes.’

His own foundation has spent years and invested hundreds of millions of dollars to fight poverty and disease in Africa.

Mail Online contacted the foundation for comment, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

Mrs Merkel has been heavily criticised for her previous policy of open-door migration which saw 1million people arrive in Germany in a single year.

Chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticised for her previous policy of open-door migration. Italian interior minister Marco Minniti raised the prospect of closing ports to private ships helping migrants ashore earlier this week

It is thought that 82,000 migrants, largely from North Africa, have arrived in Italy since the start of the year, with 2,000 drowning in their efforts to cross

It is thought that 82,000 migrants, largely from North Africa, have arrived in Italy since the start of the year, with 2,000 drowning in their efforts to cross

Video playing bottom right…

At the time conservative European politicians warned that providing migrants with an open door into Europe would make the problem worse.

Mr Gates’ comments came as Italian interior minister Marco Minniti held emergency talks with his French and German counterparts over the migrant crisis.

Mr Minniti has threatened to close Italian ports to privately-funded vessels helping to rescue migrants from ships in the Mediterranean.

He said that other European nations must agree to shoulder some of the burden, or Italy will cut funding to those refusing to help.

An estimated 82,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far this year, up 19 per cent on previous year, The Telegraph reports.

A German government report which leaked to the Bild newspaper suggests there could be up to 6.6million people trying to get into Europe, including 2.5million waiting to cross from North Africa.

It is thought that 2,000 people have lost their lives making the crossing since the start of the year.

Mr Gates’ comments also came after the G20 Africa Conference which took place in Berlin last month.

The summit aimed to discuss ways to improve economic growth, develop infrastructure, and strengthen private investment across the continent.

Austrian troops lock down border

Austria is sending 750 soldiers to its border with Italy in order to head off and expected influx of migrants.

The troops will join four armoured personnel carriers already stationed at the Alpine Brenner Pass to impose checks on those trying to cross.

The move comes after 82,000 migrants landed on Italian shores in the first six months of this year, and the country’s government demanded that other EU nations share the burden.

Austria is sending 750 troops to its southern border with Italy in order to head off an expected influx of migrants (pictured, riot police face off against protesters over the last time border checks were imposed)

Austria is sending 750 troops to its southern border with Italy in order to head off an expected influx of migrants (pictured, riot police face off against protesters over the last time border checks were imposed)

‘I expect border controls will be introduced very soon,’ Defence Minister Peter Doskozil said on Tuesday.

Both Italy and Austria are members of the European Union’s Schengen open-border zone, but free movement has been jeopardised by the reimposition of controls at many crossings across the bloc since the surge in migrants seen in 2015 and 2016.

There was no immediate comment from Italy or EU officials, but Doskozil’s spokesman said there was no concrete timetable for the new controls.

The spokesman added: ‘We’ll see how the situation in Italy is becoming more acute and we have to be prepared to avoid a situation comparable to summer 2015.’

Armoured vehicles were used by Austrian authorities during the migrant influx of 2015 to block roads and stem the flow, and would be used in a similar way this time around, authorities said.

Meanwhile the 750 troops would be able to descend on the region within 72 hours should the need arise.

The troops will join four armoured vehicles in the areas around Brenner Pass (pictured) and would be used to block roads and impose checks on arrivals

The troops will join four armoured vehicles in the areas around Brenner Pass (pictured) and would be used to block roads and impose checks on arrivals

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4665198/Bill-Gates-warns-open-door-migration-overwhelm-Europe.html#ixzz4lzmvTBwo

 

Bill Gates: Europe Will Be Overwhelmed Unless It Stems Flow of Migrants

Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned that Africa’s population explosion will overwhelm Europe unless the continent makes it more difficult for migrants to reach its shores.

The American billionaire’s comments come as European leaders discuss what to do about the surging number of Africans arriving in Italy each week, with Rome calling for other European Union (EU) nations to open their ports to docking migrants so as to ease pressure on the Mediterranean nation.

In an interview with the German Welt am Sonntag newspaper, Gates said massive population growth in Africa will result in “enormous [migratory] pressure” on Europe unless countries increase overseas development aid payments.

Praising Germany having achieved its commitment to devote 0.7 per cent of GDP to foreign aid as “phenomenal”, the 61-year-old called on “other European nations to follow its example”.

But Gates also spoke of a dilemma caused by ‘the German attitude to refugees’, referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open Europe’s borders to illegal migrants arriving from the third world.

“On the one hand you want to demonstrate generosity and take in refugees, but the more generous you are, the more word gets around about this  — which in turn motivates more people to leave Africa,” Gates told the Sunday newspaper.

“Germany cannot possibly take in the huge, massive number of people who are wanting to make their way to Europe.”

Because of this, Gates stressed that “Europe must make it more difficult for Africans to reach the continent via the current transit routes”.

Italy is demanding that other EU nations open their ports to migrants ferried from Libya as the country struggles to cope with having already received over 80,000 people this year.

Calling for African newcomers to be spread throughout Europe, the Mediterranean nation’s globalist centre-left government insisted that the EU migrant relocation programme  — which is largely limited to people from Eritrea and Syria  — should be expanded to include other nationalities, such as Nigerians.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, on Saturday decried an “unfolding tragedy” in Italy.

“Without a swift collective action, we can only expect more tragedies at sea,” he declared, noting that around 2,000 migrants have lost their lives on the sea route from Libya to Italy this year.

The Italian diplomat repeated calls for an “urgent distribution system” for incoming migrants and asylum seekers, and “additional legal pathways to admission”.

 

05 July 2017 – 05H40

Bye-bye locals: Europe’s city centres sound alarm

 © AFP / by Daniel Bosque and Michaela Cancela-Kieffer | Barcelona’s picturesque Gothic Quarter has gone from residential district to tourist magnet, as deserted buildings full of history make way for quaint hotels

BARCELONA (AFP) – Memories of the past come flooding back as Manuel Mourelo strolls through Barcelona’s picturesque Gothic Quarter: children playing, fun with the neighbours, traditional bars… But now, “all of that has disappeared.”

Hordes of tourists fill the narrow, winding alleys on guided tours, bike and Segway rides, while residents have deserted buildings full of history to make way for quaint hotels and tourist rentals — an issue that affects popular spots Europe-wide.

Last year, Mourelo himself joined the exodus out of a district he had lived in since 1962 when he came to the Spanish seaside city from Galicia in the northwest.

The flat he had been renting for 25 years was sold to an investor and he was evicted. Having paid 500 euros ($560) a month in rent, he was unable to find anything else affordable in the area.

“They were asking for 1,000, 1,200, 1,500 euros,” says the 76-year-old, his face framed by thick glasses and a bushy moustache.

“This was my village. I had it all here, my friends, my shops, I got married here, my children were born here, and I thought I would die here.

“I feel displaced,” he adds, his eyes welling up.

– ‘Emptying out’ –

According to the city hall, the fixed population in the Gothic district so loved by tourists has dropped from 27,470 residents in 2006 to just 15,624 at the end of 2015.

Now, 63 percent are “floating” residents — tourists or people in short-term lets.

At the same time, according to real-estate website Idealista, rental prices in Ciutat Vella, where the Gothic Quarter is located, have gone from 14.4 to 19 euros per square metre in just two years.

Rising rental prices, noise and crowds jostling for space in the streets and the disappearance of traditional, everyday stores have all contributed to forcing people out for economic reasons… or due to sheer frustration.

The arrival of Airbnb and other such home-renting platforms has only aggravated the problem, locals say.

“We’re not talking about gentrification, about substituting the original population by another more wealthy one,” says Gala Pin, a councillor in Ciutat Vella.

“We’re talking about the historic centre emptying out.”

For sociologist Daniel Sorando, co-author of “First We Take Manhattan,” an essay that analyses the phenomenon in various cities, the trend is towards “urban centres conceived as machines to make money while the working classes are displaced outside.”

– Paris, Amsterdam, London –

The problem also affects cities further afield.

In Paris, concerned residents of the 4th district, where Notre-Dame Cathedral is located, organised a symposium on the “invisible desertification” of city centres in March.

The city hall in the French capital said earlier this year that it had lost 20,000 housing units in five years, partly to tourist rentals.

This contributes to a “rise in prices” and a “drop in the population,” Ian Brossat, in charge of housing for Paris’ city hall, told AFP.

In Amsterdam, meanwhile, the ING bank found that owners could earn 350 euros more per month with seasonal rentals, pushing the prices up, Senne Janssen, author of the study, told AFP.

To try and remedy the situation, Paris, London and Amsterdam want to regulate the duration of rentals and register all flats and houses being used for short-term lets in order to better control them.

In Berlin, people are only allowed to rent out one room in their home since last year, and the whole flat or house if it is a secondary or occasional use pied-a-terre.

– ‘Too few to impact’ –

Barcelona, whose mayor Ada Colau is a former anti-eviction housing activist, has chosen to be even more strict.

The city hall last year imposed a 600,000-euro fine on home rental platforms Airbnb and HomeAway for marketing lodgings that lacked permits to host tourists.

But Airbnb Spain says housing problems existed before.

In Ciutat Vella, for instance, “there is three times more empty accommodation (that is not being rented out) than accommodation ads on Airbnb,” says Spain spokesman Andreu Castellano.

And research in cities like Berlin, Los Angeles, London and Barcelona into occupancy shows that “the amount of accommodation put online for purely professional use (rented out more than 120 days a year) is too low to have an impact,” Airbnb adds.

– ‘Tourism fast food’ –

Hard data on the impact of seasonal rentals on accommodation prices are few and far between, but all experts questioned by AFP said these could worsen the situation in already saturated areas.

Barcelona has been particularly hard hit by a rise in prices as investors are attracted by the profitability of a city that sees some 30 million visitors annually.

Sergi Leiva, of real-estate firm MK Premium, says half of his clients are foreigners, who are looking for a second home or a good investment.

And for those who hold on tight despite the prices, life is far from peaceful with the crowds, noise and lack of convenience stores.

“If the prices don’t throw you out, daily pressure does,” says Marti Cuso, a 27-year-old local activist in Barcelona.

Raised in the district, he is the only one among his friends to still live there.

For Socorro Perez, an expert in human geography, the outcome is “cities without residents, dead districts.”

“Cities transform into ‘clusters’ of entertainment and consumption, into tourism fast food.”

by Daniel Bosque and Michaela Cancela-Kieffer

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 875, April 18, 2017, Story 1: Amazing Grace and Forgiving Hearts of Robert Godwin Family — Breaking– Facebook Killer/Suicide of Steven Stephens — Amazing Grace — Rest In Peace — Videos — Story 2: Breaking — Racist Black Muslim Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, aka Black Jesus Kills Three Shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) — Pop, Bang, Boom — Camera Moves — Shot Spotter — Red Dot — Digital Justice — Videos —

Posted on April 18, 2017. Filed under: Applications, Assault, Blogroll, Breaking News, Cartoons, Communications, Computers, Corruption, Countries, Crime, Culture, Education, Homicide, Pistols, Rifles, Social Networking, Software, Terror, Terrorism, United States of America, Videos, Violence, Wealth, Weapons, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Pronk Pops Show 875: April 18, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 870: April 10, 2017

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Story 1: Amazing Grace and Forgiving Hearts of Robert Godwin Family —  Breaking– Facebook Killer/Suicide of Steven Stephens — Amazing Grace — Rest In Peace — Videos —Facebook killer Steve Stephens has committed suicide

Image result for black on black homicides

Image result for shot spotter

Image result for black on black homicidesImage result for black on black homicidesImage result for black on black homicidesImage result for black on black homicides

Amazing Grace: The children of Robert Godwin with Anderson Cooper

Cleveland Police Chief and Mayor react to news of Steve Stephens death

Family of Robert Godwin Sr. remembers their father

Emotions flow at vigil for Robert Godwin

Rumors circulate about Facebook killer, Tara Molina reports

Debunking the rumors about Facebook live shooting, News 5’s Tara Molina takes you into our newsroom

Users call for Facebook to address “safety risk”

FBI: Massive Police hunt for Cleveland live stream Facebook killer Steve Stephens – LoneWolf

Manhunt in Cleveland for alleged gunman Steve Stephens in Facebook Live shooting of elderly man

BREAKING NEWS: Crazed Suspect Loose in Cleveland: 5 Things You Need to Know about Steve Stephens

Timeline of Facebook killer’s posts

Air Tracker 5: Jon Rudder reports

JUDY COLLINS – “Amazing Grace” with Boys’ Choir Of Harlem 1993

Amazing Grace (without choir) by Judy Collins

Celtic Woman – Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace (original version)

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils, and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

The Lord has promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

Yes, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be for ever mine.

Amazing grace! (how sweet the sound)
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

(1779)

A Clip from Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace – full movie

Amazing Grace, Ending

‘We just want him to know that God loves him’: Children of Cleveland man who was gunned down on Facebook say they FORGIVE his killer

  • Robert Godwin’s family spoke out about their father’s shocking death on Sunday 
  • The 74-year-old father-of-ten was filmed as he was gunned down in Cleveland 
  • ‘Each of us forgives the killer, the murderer,’ his daughter, Tonya, said Monday 
  • Police said the killer, Steve Stephens, 37, shot himself on Tuesday

The children of the man who was shot dead in a Facebook video has incredibly forgiven his murder – just hours before it was announced the killer had been found dead.

Steve Stephens, 37, gunned down 74-year-old Robert Godwin – a father-of-ten and retired manufacturing worker – in Cleveland on Sunday. Police said on Tuesday morning the 37-year-old shot himself after a brief officer pursuit.

Godwin’s family spoke to WJW on Monday prior to Stephens’ death, saying they forgave him and called on him to turn himself in before hurting anyone else.

‘Each one of us forgives the killer, the murderer,’ his daughter, Tonya, said.

The family of 74-year-old Robert Godwin (pictured with his daughter, Tonya) has said they forgive the man who murdered their father in Cleveland on Sunday

The family of 74-year-old Robert Godwin (pictured with his daughter, Tonya) has said they forgive the man who murdered their father in Cleveland on Sunday

‘We want to wrap our arms around him.

‘We just want him to know that God loves him, we love him. Yes we’re hurt, but we have to forgive him because the Bible says if we don’t then the heavenly father won’t forgive us.’

Godwin’s son, Robert Jr,echoed the sentiment.

‘One thing I do want to say is I forgive him. Because we are all sinners,’ he told CNN.

‘Steve, I forgive you man. I’m not happy with what you did, but I forgive you.’

Police had been searching for Stephens since the video of the shooting emerged on Sunday afternoon.

Police presser on Facebook murder suspect who killed himself

Stephens (pictured) had been on the run since posting the video on Facebook on Sunday. Police said he shot himself on Tuesday morning

Stephens (pictured) had been on the run since posting the video on Facebook on Sunday. Police said he shot himself on Tuesday morning

Godwin's son, Robert Jr
Godwin's daughter, Tonya

Godwin’s son, Robert Jr (left), and his daughter, Tonya (right), both said they have forgiven their father’s killer

It showed him driving in his car, before getting out and walking up to a man – who was later identified as Godwin.

The two spoke briefly in the clip, before Stephens pulled the trigger and got back in his car to drive away.

In the video Stephens posted on social media, he was heard saying: ‘I snapped, I just snapped.’

He then addressed a woman, Joy Lane, by saying: ‘She’s the reason that this is about to happen.’

Robert Godwin's (pictured) son said he just wanted Stephens to turn himself in before hurting anyone else
Robert Godwin's (pictured) son said he just wanted Stephens to turn himself in before hurting anyone else

Robert Godwin’s (pictured) son said he just wanted Stephens to turn himself in before hurting anyone else

A still from the video shows the moment that Stephens walks up to the man and the two exchange a few words before he shoots him
A still from a Facebook video shows the moment Stephens shot and killed a man
 Stephens had been wanted on aggravated murder charges for killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin and then posting video of the shooting (above) to Facebook

Lane said in a text message to CBS News: ‘We had been in a relationship for several years. I am sorry that all of this has happened.’

Stephens filed for bankruptcy two years ago despite holding down a job as a counselor helping young people develop job skills and find employment.

The behavioral health agency where he worked said an extensive background check before he was hired turned up nothing worrisome.

In another video posted on Facebook, Stephens said he gambled away everything and that he and his girlfriend had planned to marry but did not, without saying why.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4422248/Family-man-shot-Facebook-killer-forgive-murderer.html#ixzz4edLVyl8K

McDonald’s workers tipped police about Facebook killer

 Tuesday

Shortly before he killed self, Steve Stephens ordered 20 nuggets and fries at drive-through window, workers said.


2:04 p.m.

Pennsylvania State Police say they will hold a news conference on the Steve Stephens case at 3:30 p.m. at Troop E barracks in Lawrence Park.

1:43 p.m.

Steve Stephens’ taste for McDonald’s helped the Pennsylvania State Police catch the accused Facebook killer in Erie.

Employees at the McDonald’s on Buffalo Road, in Harborcreek Township, said a drive-through attendant alerted state police when Stephens stopped at the restaurant’s drive-through window shortly after 11 a.m.

The McDonald’s is about five miles east of where state police stopped Stephens in Erie.

Thomas DuCharme Jr., owner and operator of the McDonald’s, said the attendant thought she recognized Stephens. DuCharme said the attendant then called state police.

DuCharme said Stephens ordered 20 chicken nuggets and a basket of fries, but that the workers held off on delivering the fries to delay Stephens. He said Stephens got the nuggets.

“We told him his fries were going to be a minute,” said Henry Sayers, the restaurant’s manager.

Said DuCharme: “I am pretty sure he figured out that we were on to him. He didn’t want to wait for his fries.”

He said Stephens then drove away without the fries.

1:23 p.m.

Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook pronounced Stephens dead at the scene at 11:35 a.m. Investigators are getting search warrants for the car and are waiting on the arrival of a state police accident reconstruction team later this afternoon.

Cook said his office would conduct an autopsy at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Three state police cruisers involved in the stop of Stephens’ car remained at the scene, along with Stephens’ car.

1:12 p.m.

Warren Harris, 64, of Erie, who is on the scene of the investigation, said he had lived near Steve Stephens and his family in Beachwood, Ohio.

Harris, who said he has lived in Erie for 12 years, said the family is “good, churchgoing family.” He said that today’s events did not surprise him because “incidents like this happen where I’m from.”

1:07 p.m.

A spokeswoman at Stephens’ employer told the Erie Times-News in a telephone interview on Tuesday afternoon that employees there learned quickly of Stephens’ death in Erie via news reports.

“It’s just been a tragic situation, on every front, with this story,” said Nancy Kortemeyer, senior director of marketing and public relations at Beech Brook, located in northeast Ohio.

Beech Brook is a behavioral health organization serving children, teenagers and families.

According to a statement Beech Brook officials posted on its website, Stephens worked there since 2008, most recently as a vocational specialist for youth and young adults. Prior to that, Stephens had been a youth mentor.

Stephens had no major disciplinary actions at Beech Brook, Kortemeyer said, and there was nothing in his work history “that would have been a red flag.”

The manhunt for Stephens has been “very much a strain and a worry” for the Beech Brook staff, Kortemeyer said.

“We’ve been worried about the safety of our staff and our clients,” Kortemeyer said. “We are just relieved the situation has been resolved without any further harm to anyone else.

Kortemeyer added, “It’s so sad that Steve Stephens took his own life. We don’t know what would have caused him to do this.”

Beech Brook issued a statement regarding Stephens’ death later Tuesday on its website:

“It was with a mixture of sadness and relief that Beech Brook learned of the suicide of Steve Stephens. Every suicide is a tragedy, but we also share a sense of relief with the rest of our community because we are no longer fearful that Mr. Stephens will take more lives.

“We are deeply grateful to the law enforcement officials who vigorously pursued this case. Our thoughts are with all of those impacted by these senseless acts of violence.”

1 p.m.

From Pennsylvania State Police, or PSP, in a news release:

” ‘Facebook Killer’ Steve Stephens was spotted just after 11 a.m. by an alert citizen near the intersection of Buffalo Road and Downing Avenue in Erie County, Pennsylvania, which is less than two miles from PSP Troop E headquarters.

“PSP troopers immediately began to canvas the area for Stephens and located him in his vehicle a short time later. Troopers in marked patrol units initiated a pursuit that lasted approximately two miles.

“The troopers attempted a PIT maneuver to disable Stephens’ vehicle, a white Ford Fusion. As the vehicle was spinning out of control from the PIT maneuver, Stephens pulled a pistol and shot himself in the head.”

12:58 p.m.

Agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have arrived on scene. The FBI arrived earlier and agents are still on scene.

12:55 p.m.

From a news conference in Cleveland at about 12:15 p.m.

Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams said he had no information on why Steven Stephens was in Erie.

“We are taking a cautious approach,” he said. “There may be connections we don’t know about. There is still a lot we don’t know.”

Chief acknowledged that their federal partners had spent time searching Erie and the surrounding area.

Anyone who knows that area, he said, knows “there are a lot of places to hide.”

The press conference was held less than an hour after Stephens took his own life. At that early point, “We have spoken with all the families involved. They had all been notified,” Williams said.

Williams said at the news conference that he had few details: “Our investigators are on their way now,” he said.

Another officer who spokes at the news conference, but whose name was not available, said: “We had hoped to bring Steve in peacefully and talk to him about what happened.”

The same police officials said: “Kudos to Pennsylvania State Police for doing an outstanding job.”

Asked if he was worried about potential copycats who might commit their own crimes and post them to social media, Chief Williams shook his head no.

“We’re not putting that energy out there,” he said. “We’ve talked about people not living their lives on social media. This is something that should never have been shared on social media, period.”

Chief Williams said police followed up on about 400 leads across the country, but it was one particular tip that led police to Stephens.

“We are grateful to the people who gave this tip to Pennsylvania State Police,” he said.

12:53 p.m.

State police commanders have left the scene. Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook had been examining the body of Steve Stephens inside the white Ford Fusion, where police said he fatally shot himself after state police pulled him over at around 11:10 a.m.

12:51 p.m.

Spectators at the scene of an investigation of Steve Stephens’ apparent suicide in Erie, many streaming video of the scene from their smartphones, were glad the manhunt for the accused Cleveland Facebook killer was over. They said they’d been worried about the safety of local children after first hearing Stephens might be in Erie.

Others were not afraid at all.
“Everyone was scared of this dude for no reason,” Melvon Heidelberg said.
Heidelberg, 21, of Erie, traveled to the scene from East Lake Road after his friend told him Stephens had been found.
“People get shot out here everyday,” he said. “In Erie, that’s how it is. It’s real out here. You gotta be careful.”
Another spectator, Lisa Jenkins, of Erie, said the city has enough problems already.
“We don’t need Cleveland’s,” said Jenkins, 47.

Erie police have confirmed the suicide in Erie on Tuesday of Steve Stephens, the Cleveland resident suspected of fatally shooting a Cleveland man on Sunday and posting video of the slaying on Facebook.

Stephens died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound while driving a white Ford Fusion near Buffalo Road and Downing Avenue around 11:10 a.m., police said.

State police were following the car as it headed west into Erie after leaving a nearby McDonald’s, police said.

The car, pointed west, is stopped in the westbound lane of Buffalo Road, across from the former Burton Elementary School, 1660 Buffalo Road. Police are blocking off the entire school grounds.

Erie police are also at the scene, with Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook and the FBI and Erie County District Attorney Jack Daneri.

Erie Mayor Joe Sinnott said early Tuesday afternoon that he did not have much information about the incident, but he expected to be briefed later in the day by Police Chief Don Dacus.

“Obviously when you’ve got a fugitive out there, you’re pleased to see it come to some quick resolution,” Sinnott said.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4422248/Family-man-shot-Facebook-killer-forgive-murderer.html

Latest Crime Statistics Released

Increase in Violent Crime, Decrease in Property Crime

Police Tape at Crime Scene (Stock Image)

Today, the FBI released its annual compilation of crimes reported to its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program by law enforcement agencies from around the nation. Crime in the United States, 2015 reveals a 3.9 percent increase in the estimated number of violent crimes and a 2.6 percent decrease in the estimated number of property crimes last year when compared to 2014 data.

According to the report, there were an estimated 1,197,704 violent crimes committed around the nation. While that was an increase from 2014 figures, the 2015 violent crime total was 0.7 percent lower than the 2011 level and 16.5 percent below the 2006 level.

Among some of the other statistics contained in Crime in the United States, 2015:

  • The estimated number of murders in the nation was 15,696.
  • During the year, there were an estimated 90,185 rapes. (This figure currently reflects UCR’s legacy definition. Learn more about the revised rape definition.)
  • There were an estimated 327,374 robberies nationwide, which accounted for an estimated $390 million in losses (average dollar value of stolen property per reported robbery was $1,190).
  • Firearms were used in 71.5 percent of the nation’s murders, 40.8 percent of robberies, and 24.2 percent of aggravated assaults.
  • Property crimes resulted in losses estimated at $14.3 billion. The total value of reported stolen property (i.e., currency, jewelry, motor vehicles, electronics, firearms) was $12,420,364,454.
Pie charts showing breakdown of violent crimes and property crimes from Crime in the United States, 2015 report.

In addition to national crime data, the publication also contains agency-level data, regional data, state totals, data from cities and counties grouped by populations, and statistics from certain metropolitan areas.

Crime in the United States, 2015 also features several smaller reports:

  • Federal Crime Data, the second report from UCR looking at crime reporting from federal agencies, includes 2015 data from FBI and ATF cases as well as traditional offense information from other federal agencies.
  • Human Trafficking, the third report from UCR’s Human Trafficking data collection, includes general content about human trafficking as well as data provided by agencies that reported human trafficking offenses in 2015.
  • Cargo Theft, the third report from UCR’s Cargo Theft data collection, contains general information about cargo theft and data provided by agencies that reported cargo theft violations during 2015.

Also included in Crime in the United States, 2015 is a message from Director James Comey on FBI efforts to improve the collection, analysis, and uses of crime statistics and data about law enforcement’s use of force, primarily through its ongoing shift to the more detailed National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) and a use-of-force database. Both, he said, will “give us a more complete, richer picture of crime in our communities, and a national and detailed picture of the ways we in law enforcement are using force.”

According to Comey, who cited the need for more transparency and accountability in law enforcement, “Information that is accurate, reliable, complete, and timely will help all of us learn where we have problems and how to get better.”

Resources:

Expanded Offense

Download Printable Document

Expanded offense data are the details of the various offenses that the Uniform Crime Reporting Program collects beyond the count of how many crimes law enforcement agencies report. These details may include the type of weapon used in a crime, type or value of items stolen, and so forth. For example, expanded homicide data provide supplemental details about murders, such as the age, sex, race, and ethnicity of both the victim and the offender, the weapon used in the homicide, the circumstances surrounding the offense, and the relationship of the victim to the offender. In addition to these types of details, expanded data include trends (for example, 2-year comparisons) and crime rates per 100,000 inhabitants.

Data collection

Expanded offense data, including expanded homicide data, are details collected in addition to the reports of the number of crimes known. As a result, law enforcement agencies can report an offense without providing the supplemental information about that offense.

Expanded data by offense

Murder

    • Trends (2-year): Tables 12, 13, and 14
    • Rates (per 100,000 inhabitants): Tables 16, 17, and 18
    • Weapons: Table 20

Expanded Homicide Data Tables 

    • Victim data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, and 13
    • Offender data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 3, 4, 5, and 6
    • Victim/offender relationship data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 4, 5, and 6
    • Circumstance data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 10, 11, 12, and 13
    • Weapons: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 7, 8, 9, 11, 14, 15, and Table 20
    • Justifiable Homicide data: Expanded Homicide Data Tables 14 and 15

Rape

    • Trends (2-year): Tables 12, 13, 14, and 15
    • Rates (per 100,000 inhabitants): Tables 16, 17, 18, and 19

Robbery

Aggravated assault

Burglary

    • Trends (2-year): Tables 12, 13, 14, and 15
    • Rates (per 100,000 inhabitants): Tables 16, 17, 18, and 19
    • Offense analysis (e.g., location type): Table 23

Larceny-theft

    • Trends (2-year): Tables 12, 13, and 14
    • Rates (per 100,000 inhabitants): Tables 16, 17, and 18
    • Offense analysis (e.g., type and value): Table 23
    • Larceny-theft type within region: Larceny-theft Table

Motor vehicle theft

Arson

Story 2: Breaking — Racist Black Muslim Kori Ali Muhammad,39, aka Black Jesus Kills Three Shouting “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) — Pop, Bang, Boom — Camera Moves — Shot Spotter — Red Dot — Digital Justice — Videos —

 Image result for fresno shooter koriImage result for shot spotterImage result for fresno shooter kori

Fresno shooting 4-18-17 Kori Ali Muhammad screaming Ali Akbar!

Fresno Shooting Suspect Identified – Kori Ali Muhammad AKA Black Jesus

[youtu be=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Zrcm-6-J1g]

Fresno shootings

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At Issue In Brief #140102 “Shot Spotter — How It Works”

SST – ShotSpotter Overview

Uploaded on Oct 27, 2011

ShotSpotter is a family of acoustic gunshot detection, alert and analysis solutions developed by SST Inc. Gunshot data has a trickle-down effect that can provide immense value. Watch the video to learn how our real-time data helps law enforcement respond more intelligently and make communities safer. It is our mission and honor to serve our communities and their respective law enforcement agencies.

Published on Apr 18, 2017

Three people were shot to death in less than a minute at separate locations Tuesday in Fresno, California, authorities said. A fugitive wanted in a previous homicide was arrested at the scene.
The man, identified as Kori Ali Muhammad, 39, who investigators said used the alias “Black Jesus,” was arrested and was being held awaiting at least four counts of murder, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer told reporters.In addition to the three people who were killed Tuesday, Muhammad had been wanted in connection with the shooting death of a security guard at a Motel 6 last Thursday, Dyer said.
At least 16 rounds were fired in less than a minute at four locations, including a Catholic Charities facility, where the gunman killed a man in the parking lot, Dyer said. None of the victims worked at the charity, he said.
While police said the gunman yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great” in Arabic) during the incident, it was too early to say whether terrorism was a factor, Dyer said.

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Hate crime is suspected after a gunman kills 3 white men in downtown Fresno

Veronica Rocha , Joseph Serna, Diana Marcum and Hailey Branson-PottsContact Reporters

Kori Ali Muhammad told his family there was a war going on between blacks and whites in America.

On social media, he referred to white people as “devils.” Earlier in the year, he posted a rap album on YouTube replete with violent, explicit, racially-charged lyrics, including referring to himself in one song as a “black soldier.”

On Tuesday morning, police say Muhammad stalked the streets of downtown Fresno, fatally shooting three white men with a .357 revolver. Before surrendering to police, he allegedly shouted “Allahu akbar” and expressed hatred toward white people and the government, according to Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Local authorities said they don’t believe the attack was an act of terrorism but are investigating it as a hate crime.

“If in fact he’s lashing out at white people — white males in this case — that would constitute a hate crime,” Dyer said. “We believe it is a hate crime, definitely a hate crime.”

The chief said investigators don’t believe Muhammad worked with anyone else in the attack, calling him “an individual that is filled with hate, filled with anger.”

The attack occurred over less than two minutes with Muhammad firing a total of 16 shots. Dyer said he surrendered to a responding officer without incident and later apologized to the chief.

In addition to Tuesday’s killings, police said Muhammad was suspected in the fatal shooting of a security guard, also a white male, last week.

Muhammad’s father, Vincent Taylor, told The Times on Tuesday that his son believed that he was part of an ongoing war between whites and blacks, and that “a battle was about to take place.”

The attack began at around 10:45 a.m. in the 300 block of North Van Ness Avenue. Within a few seconds, a second burst of gunfire was heard, then a third and a fourth. Sixteen rounds were fired in four locations, Dyer said.

After the shots were heard, Dyer said the driver of a PG&E truck arrived at the city’s police headquarters to report that a passenger had been shot by a gunman who had approached them on foot.

After firing at the truck passenger, Muhammad walked west on East Mildreda Avenue, where he came across a resident and opened fire, Dyer said, but missed his target.

Muhammad then continued walking on Mildreda and approached Fulton Street, where he fatally shot another man before reloading his weapon, Dyer said.

He then headed toward Catholic Charities in the 100 block of North Fulton Street and fired a second fatal volley of gunfire, killing a man in the parking lot.

An officer in the area spotted the gunman running south on Fulton. He then “dove onto the ground” and was taken into custody, the chief said.

“As he was taken into custody, he yelled out, ‘Allahu akbar,’ ” Dyer said.

“Allahu akbar” roughly translates to “God is great” in Arabic and is a common positive refrain uttered by Muslims in prayer or in celebration. But the phrase has also been linked to terrorist attacks. The gunman who killed 13 people in a terror attack at Fort Hood, Texas, screamed “Allahu akbar” as he opened fire in 2009, and the phrase is often tweeted by social media accounts sympathetic to Islamic State and other terror groups.

The victims in Tuesday’s attack were not immediately identified. In a statement released last week, Fresno police said Muhammad was believed to have shot and killed Carl Williams, an unarmed 25-year-old security guard, outside of a Motel 6 on North Blackstone Avenue on Thursday.

Muhammad did not make any references to race during last week’s attack, according to Dyer, who said investigators will need time to determine the exact motive in the shootings.

“There was no statement made on Thursday night when he shot the security guard and killed him,” Dyer said. “There was no comments or no statements made at that time, so I am not certain why he said what he said today.”

Muhammad legally changed his name from Kori Taylor when he was a teenager, according to his grandmother, Glenestene Taylor, who said Muhammad was acting strangely when he visited her Sunday. He was crying, but she believed he was simply going out of town.

“I thought that’s why he’s upset, because he thinks of me as a mother,” said Taylor, 81. “He’s always telling me, ‘I’ll take care of it. I’ll protect you. Don’t you worry about it.’ He really didn’t want to go but he was going.”

A Facebook profile page for a Kori Ali Muhammad from Fresno paid homage to black pride and black nationalism, with images of the red, green and black Pan-African flag and a raised fist.

The rambling profile includes militant and apocalyptic language and repeated demands to “let black people go.” He referenced “white devils” and praised melanoma skin cancer.

On Saturday afternoon, Muhammad posted a photo of himself in a colorful garment, with his head covered, and the words: “LET BLACK PEOPLE GO OR THE DOOM INCREASES REPARATIONS & SEPARATION NOW.”

On Monday he wrote: “MY KILL RATE INCRESASES TREMENDOUSLY ON THE OTHER SIDE ASÈ ALLAH U AKBAR.”

Brian Levin, director of Cal State San Bernardino’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, said many of Muhammad’s social media postings make reference to terms used by the Nation of Islam, which has been labeled a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Pointing to Muhammad’s repeated references to “white devils” and “Yakub” — the villainous figure responsible for creating white people, according to Nation of Islam lore — Levin said it is likely Muhammad thought he was taking part in a race war against whites.

“We’re living in an era of violent reciprocal prejudice, and there are references on his website to Fard Muhammad, the founder of Nation of Islam, and Nation of Islam uses the term white devils quite prolifically, as did this shooter,” Levin said.

Muhammad also repeatedly used the phrase “Black Dragon Lion Hawk” in his Facebook posts, and Levin said such nods to warrior culture are also common in black separatist circles.

But Glenestene Taylor said she didn’t remember her grandson showing a racial bias, toward whites or anyone else, in all his years staying with her or during countless visits to her predominately white Fresno neighborhood.

“He would say something derogatory about anybody, didn’t matter about the color,” she said. “If he didn’t like what they did, he didn’t like what they did no matter the color.”

Muhammad had run afoul of Fresno police before. He was indicted by a federal grand jury in February 2005 for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm for drug trafficking and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, after a Fresno police officer searched his car and found two large bags of cocaine, a loaded handgun and two rifles, court records show. A federal judge later declared Muhammad mentally incompetent to stand trial.

He was deemed competent in August 2006 and pleaded guilty to the charges of cocaine possession with intent to distribute and a weapons charge. He ultimately served 92 months in federal prison, records show.

Hours after the shootings Tuesday, two shaken workers at the Catholic charity said they had ducked under yellow police tape to get out.

They said they were told not to talk to the news media. But one, a Vietnam veteran, said a person never forgets the sound of guns. He said that the charity gives away food every day and that families are allowed to come only once a week.

“We feed a lot of children, so we have to make sure that the food gets spread around,” he said.

“This is a sad day for us all. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims,” Fresno Mayor Lee Brand said in a statement. “None of us can imagine what they must be going through.”

Vincent Taylor said he hopes his son’s capture headed off any future bloodshed.

“I’m happy he was arrested,” he said. “I would hope that whatever Kori tells [police,] they take him seriously and they start following up.”

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-fresno-shooting-20170418-story.html

Dr John Lott, “More Guns Less Crime” Northwest Business Club 6-12-2013

John Lott Presentation: Do Gun-Free Zones Make us Safer?

Three dead in central Fresno shooting spree; suspect caught, linked to Motel 6 slaying

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The Pronk Pops Show 874, April 16, 2017, Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government — Erdogan Expands Powers and Control — Moving Toward Dictatorship! — Videos — Story 2: Coalition Against Islamic State in Syria — What is Next: Wrath of Euphrates: The Battle for Raqqa: Isolate and Assault — Take No Prisoners — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 865: March 31, 2017

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Pronk Pops Show 863: March 29, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 862: March 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 861: March 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 860: March 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 859: March 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 858: March 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 857: March 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 856: March 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 855: March 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 854: March 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 853: March 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 852: March 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 851: March 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 850: March 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 849: March 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 848: February 28, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 847: February 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 846: February 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 845: February 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 844: February 22, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 843: February 21, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 842: February 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 841: February 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 840: February 16, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 839: February 15, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 838: February 14, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 837: February 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 836: February 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 835: February 9, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 834: February 8, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 833: February 7, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 832: February 6, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 831: February 3, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 830: February 2, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 829: February 1, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 828: January 31, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 827: January 30, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 826: January 27, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 825: January 26, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 824: January 25, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 823: January 24, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 822: January 23, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 821: January 20, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 820: January 19, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 819: January 18, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 818: January 17, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 817: January 13, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 816: January 12, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 815: January 11, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 814: January 10, 2017

Pronk Pops Show 813: January 9, 2017

Story 1: Turkey Votes To Change From Parliamentary to Presidential System of Government —  Videos —

Image result for turkey referendum 2017 result 51.4%Image result for cartoons erdogan

Where’s Turkey headed after its referendum? – Inside Story

Turkey Referendum: Erdogan’s new grip on power

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Is Turkey Becoming a Dictatorship?: Erdogan Claims Victory in Vote to Give President Sweeping Powers

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Lionel on the Alex Jones Show: Syria False Flags, North Korea Lies, French Elections & Media Lies

The Idiot’s Guide to Turkey, Erdogan and the Phony Coup

Turkish Referendum Erdogan Wins ! | The Millennial Revolt

Published on Apr 16, 2017

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has claimed victory in a referendum granting him sweeping new powers, hailing the result as an “historic decision”. The leader called on the international community to respect the result and discouraged his critics from “belittling” the outcome, saying they “shouldn’t try, it will be in vain”. The state-run Anadolu news agency claimed that 51 per cent per cent of voters had sided with the “Yes” campaign, ushering in the most radical change to the country’s political system in modern time.

But the main opposition the Republican People’s Party (CHP) said they would demand a recount of up to 40 per cent of the vote, saying that “illegal acts” occurred during the vote and that there were up to 2.5m “problematic ballots”. The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) also claimed they had information that voter fraud was implicated in up to four per cent of the ballots. Both parties said they would appeal the results. CLICK LINKS FOR SOURCES

Story 2: Coalition Against Islamic State in Syria — What is Next: Wrath of Euphrates: The Battle for Raqqa: Isolate and Assault  — Take No Prisoners — Videos 

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US eyes assault on ISIS stronghold

CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh talks to Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend near Mosul, Iraq, where coalition forces hope to make a push toward Raqqa, ISIS’ center of control in Syria.

U.S.-Led Coalition Has ‘Made Adjustments’ In Syria To Account For ‘Tensions’

Wrath of Euphrates Op: US troops spotted near Raqqa frontline (EXCLUSIVE)

400 US troops deployed outside ISIS capital Raqqa

Ministers of the Global Coalition on the Defeat of ISIS

Raqqa Battle Phase 3 outcome

Beginning of a new phase to free Raqqa

Battle for Raqqa. First phase of Wrath of Euphrates Initiative ends successfully.

Published on Nov 12, 2016

12 Nov 2016 Syria. Raqqa.
SDF, YPG, YPJ and International Brigade fighters had began to advance from Siluk and Eyn İsa southwards from two directions on November 5.

The Siluk branch has cleared an area of 30 kms and the Ayn İsa branch has cleared an area of 15 kms from ISIS gangs. Yesterday, the two branches united along the Beliz creek.

After the liberation of Xınıse and the unification of the two branches of fighters, the first phase of the initiative ended successfully.

Civilians flee Raqqa as Syrian forces advance

More U.S. Troops heading to Raqqa, Syria to fight ISIS

18 Allied Fighters Killed In US Led Syria Strike

100s killed following US-led airstrike in Syria

Assad: No one invited US to Manbij, all foreign troops in Syria without permission are ‘invaders’

U.S. military says misdirected airstrike in northern Syria killed 18 allied fighters

U.S.-led Coalition Accidentally Bomb Syrian Allies, Killing 18 | True News

Syria: Kurdish fighters make gains against IS behind enemy lines

Ross Kemp The Fight Against Isis

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US Joins Ground Forces with Kurds, Syrian, & Russian Fighters Against ISIS in Syria

Targeting the High Value Terrorists

On The Road To Raqqa – Heavy Clashes Between Kurdish Forces And ISIS During The Battle Of Raqqa

US soldiers help Iraqi troops secure Mosul

Satellite Imagery: The Cutting of Mosul’s Bridges

Satellite Imagery: The Islamic State’s Mosul Defenses

Satellite Images: The Islamic State’s Scorched Earth Tactics

Why Did the Iraq War Start? The Untold Story – Seymour Hersh – Reasons, Justification (2005)

The Breathtaking Incoherence of American Foreign Policy as to North Korea and Syria

‘Defeating ISIS No.1 US goal’: Tillerson at coalition summit coinciding with London attack

Trump Gives Generals More Freedom on ISIS Fight

Pentagon brass take lead on decisions that were made by White House under Obama; ‘I authorize my military,’ Trump says

U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq.
U.S. Army trainers watch as an Iraqi recruit fires at a military base in Iraq. PHOTO: JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

U.S. military commanders are stepping up their fight against Islamist extremism as President Donald Trump’s administration urges them to make more battlefield decisions on their own.

As the White House works on a broad strategy, America’s top military commanders are implementing the vision articulated by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis: Decimate Islamic State’s Middle East strongholds and ensure that the militants don’t establish new beachheads in places such as Afghanistan.

“There’s nothing formal, but it is beginning to take shape,” a senior U.S. defense official said Friday. “There is a sense among these commanders that they are able to do a bit more—and so they are.”

While military commanders complained about White House micromanagement under former President Barack Obama, they are now being told they have more freedom to make decisions without consulting Mr. Trump. Military commanders around the world are being encouraged to stretch the limits of their existing authorities when needed, but to think seriously about the consequences of their decisions.

The more muscular military approach is expanding as the Trump administration debates a comprehensive new strategy to defeat Islamic State. Mr. Mattis has sketched out such a global plan, but the administration has yet to agree on it. While the political debate continues, the military is being encouraged to take more aggressive steps against Islamic extremists around the world.

The firmer military stance has fueled growing concerns among State Department officials working on Middle East policy that the Trump administration is giving short shrift to the diplomatic tools the Obama administration favored. Removing the carrot from the traditional carrot-and-stick approach, some State Department officials warn, could hamper the pursuit of long-term strategies needed to prevent volatile conflicts from reigniting once the shooting stops.

The new approach was on display this week in Afghanistan, where Gen. John Nicholson, head of the U.S.-led coalition there, decided to use one of the military’s biggest nonnuclear bombs—a Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, or MOAB—to hit a remote Islamic State underground network of tunnels and caves.

Gen. Nicholson said Friday it was too early to say how many militants had been killed in the previous day’s bombing. The Afghan Defense Ministry retracted an earlier statement that the strike had killed 36 militants, saying it was unable to provide precise figures yet.

A military official for the coalition who viewed footage of the bombing said it was difficult to make out details of its effects beyond a “mushroom cloud” of smoke rising into the sky. He added that a second MOAB was available for use in the country, but no decision had been made on whether it should be deployed.

Islamic State’s Amaq news agency posted a statement on Friday saying none of its fighters were killed or wounded in the strike, which took place in Nangarhar province, along the country’s mountainous border with Pakistan.

Gen. Nicholson indicated that he—not the White House—decided to drop the bomb. “The ammunition we used last night is designed to destroy caves and tunnels. This was the right weapon against the right target,” he told reporters Friday. “I am fortunate that my chain of command allows me the latitude to make assessments on the ground.”

A senior administration official said Mr. Trump didn’t know about the weapon’s use until it had been dropped.

Mr. Mattis “is telling them, ‘It’s not the same as it was, you don’t have to ask us before you drop a MOAB,’” the senior defense official said. “Technically there’s no piece of paper that says you have to ask the president to drop a MOAB. But last year this time, the way [things were] meant, ‘I’m going to drop a MOAB, better let the White House know.’”

Indeed, on Thursday Mr. Trump himself emphasized the free rein he gives the Pentagon. “I authorize my military,” Mr. Trump said. “We have given them total authorization.”

On Friday, the U.S. military said it has sent dozens of soldiers to Somalia, where Mr. Trump recently gave the head of the U.S. Africa Command more leeway to carry out counterterrorism operations against al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda affiliate in the area.

The more aggressive military approach comes as the long slog against Islamic State is bearing fruit. The group is on the back foot in its Iraqi stronghold, Mosul, and is facing a hard battle to defend its de facto Syrian capital, Raqqa.

The U.S. has sent more forces into Iraq and Syria, stepped up support for Saudi Arabia’s fight against Houthi militants in Yemen, and dispatched an aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula amid growing evidence that North Korea is preparing for a new nuclear test.

Loren DeJonge Schulman, who served as senior adviser to Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said a more assertive military campaign is destined to fail unless it is part of a broader strategy against Islamic State, also known by the acronyms ISIS and ISIL.

“It’s crazy that the Trump administration thinks that ‘taking the gloves off’ is either a winning strategy against ISIL or a useful narrative for the White House or the military,” said Ms. Schulman, now a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security.

Derek Chollet, a former assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Obama administration, said giving the Pentagon more freedom is one of the most significant things Mr. Trump has done.

“It’s not clear to me that he’s making any tough decisions,” said Mr. Chollet, now executive vice president at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. “All that he’s essentially done is ceded decision authority down to protect himself from making tough calls.”

The flip side of the Trump administration’s emphasis on a more-free-wheeling military approach to Islamic State is an apparent reduction of the use of soft-power tools—economic development, diplomacy and democracy-building—favored by the Obama White House.

Some State Department officials describe being cut out from the White House’s counterterrorism strategy in the Mideast, with efforts to nurture democratic governments and push for more secular education systems carrying less weight in the White House’s evolving approach.

“State is being systematically sidelined,” said a State Department official who has worked on counterterrorism issues in Washington and abroad.

The official said the White House strategy of prioritizing military might over diplomacy makes it hard to persuade Mideast allies to relax their grip on power. Many of Washington’s closest Arab allies are autocratic regimes guilty of human-rights abuses that critics say fuel terrorism.

“The problem there is that in many of the places where you need carrots, those carrots are often seen as threats to local governments,” the official said, referring to democracy and society-building programs the State Department funds across the Mideast.

Egypt offers a prime example of the Trump administration’s leanings. When Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, a military strongman, visited the White House earlier this month, Mr. Trump gave him a warm welcome. Mr. Obama had refused to meet him because of his regime’s alleged human-rights abuses.

U.S. officials in the Mideast say a counterterror approach that focuses solely on military might without programs to fight the causes that feed extremism could backfire, leading groups like Islamic State to go underground and wait for future opportunities to re-emerge. They are particularly concerned about Raqqa, where a U.S.-led military coalition is closing in around the city but post-liberation stabilization plans aren’t finalized as State Department officials wait for White House guidance.

Write to Dion Nissenbaum at dion.nissenbaum@wsj.com and Maria Abi-Habib at maria.habib@wsj.com

Appeared in the Apr. 15, 2017, print edition as ‘Military Takes Lead on ISIS.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-gives-generals-free-rein-on-isis-fight-1492218994

Raqqa campaign (2016–present)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Raqqa offensive (2016–present))
Raqqa campaign (2016–present)
Part of the Syrian Civil War,
the Syrian Kurdish–Islamist conflict (2013–present), and
the American-led intervention in Syria
Northern Raqqa Offensive (November 2016).svgBattle of Raqqa2.svg
Top: Map showing the SDF advances; Bottom: A map of the situation in Raqqa itself
Date 6 November 2016 – present
(5 months, 1 week and 4 days)
Location Raqqa Governorate, Deir ez-Zor Governorate, Syria
35.9500°N 39.0167°ECoordinates: 35.9500°N 39.0167°E
Status Ongoing

  • The SDF captures more than 236 villages, hamlets and strategic hills, two water and power stations,[10][11] Al-Tabqa Airbase,[12][13]and reportedly Tabqa Dam[14][15][16]
  • The SDF, after latest advances, are now at a distance of 5 km from the ISIL capital city of Ar-Raqqah[17]
  • The SDF and allies cut off all main roads out of Raqqa (minus Baath Dam)[18]
Territorial
changes
The SDF capture more than 7,400 square kilometres (2,900 sq mi) of territory from ISIL during the first, second and third phases of the campaign[19][20]
Belligerents
Syrian Democratic Forces
Self Defence Forces (HXP)[1]
Leftist/Anarchist volunteers[a]
CJTF–OIR

 Iraqi Kurdistan[8]


 Russia[9] Islamic State of Iraq and the LevantCommanders and leadersRojda Felat[21]
(leading YPJ commander)[22][23]
Kino Gabriel[24]
(MFS commander)
Syrian opposition Fayad Ghanim[25]
(Raqqa Hawks Brigade commander)
Abu Issa
(Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa chief commander)
Syrian oppositionMuhedi Jayila[26]
(Elite Forces commander)
Bandar al-Humaydi[24]
(Al-Sanadid Forces military chief commander)
Siyamend Welat[27]
(HXP chief commander)
United States Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend
(CJTF–OIR chief commander)

For other anti-ISIL commanders, see order of battleIslamic State of Iraq and the LevantAbu Bakr al-Baghdadi(WIA)[28][29]
(Leader of ISIL)
Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti[30]
(leading ISIL commander for Raqqa defenses, c. 11–26 December)[31]
Abu Saraqeb al-Maghribi[32]
(Head of security in Al-Thawrah)
Abu Jandal al-Masri[32]
(Chief of Information in Raqqa)
Abu Muhammad al-Jazrawi[32]
(Chief of Al-Hisba secret police)
Mahmoud al-Isawi[33]
(ISIL proganganda chief)
Abd al-Basit al-Iraqi [34]
(ISIL commander of Middle Eastexternal networks)
Zainuri Kamaruddin[35]
(Katibah Nusantara commander)
Abu Luqman[36]
(ISIL governor of Raqqa)

For other ISIL commanders, see order of battleUnits involvedSee anti-ISIL forces order of battleSee ISIL order of battleStrength

30,000–40,000 SDF fighters[37][38][39](70% Arab acc. to the SDF)[40]

500 HXP soldiers[1]
United States 900 American special forces,[51][52][53] 1 artillery battery[54]


Russia Several Tupolev Tu-95 bombers[9]

10,000–20,000+ fighters[55][56][57][58][59](estimate by Western SDF volunteers & some experts)

Unknown number of UAVs (drones)[64]

Casualties and losses

235+ killed[65][66][67][c]

1 killed[71]
United States 1 killed[72]


232+ killed, 30+ wounded, 15 armored vehicles lost (ISIL claim)[73][74][31]

2,098+ killed and 20 captured (SDF and US claim)[75]95 civilians killed[76][77]
14,000+ displaced[78][79][80]

The Raqqa campaign[81] (codenamed Operation Wrath of Euphrates), is an ongoing military operation launched by the Syrian Democratic Forces against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Raqqa Governorate, with the goal of isolating and eventually capturing the Islamic State’s capital city, Raqqa. Another one of the main goals is to capture the Tabqa Dam, the nearby city of Al-Thawrah,[82] and the Baath Dam further downstream.[83] The offensive has also been dubbed the Battle to End All Battles in the War on ISIL.[84]

The offensive is concurrent with the Battle of al-Bab in the Aleppo governorate, the Battle of Mosul in Iraq, the Battle of Sirte (2016) in Libya, the Palmyra offensive (2017), and a reignition of fighting in Deir ez-Zor’s siege.

Background

In late October 2016, the United States Secretary of DefenseAsh Carter called for an offensive on Raqqa to take place concurrent with the Battle of Mosul in Iraq. He stated that the US was cooperating with its allies in order to launch an “isolation operation” around Raqqa. On 26 October, the President of TurkeyRecep Tayyip Erdoğan called the President of the United StatesBarack Obama and stated that he did not want the People’s Protection Units (YPG) to participate in the planned operation, and instead planned to involve the Turkish Armed Forces. The United Kingdom‘s Secretary of State for DefenceMichael Fallon rejected the idea of non-Arab forces taking part in the offensive and demanded a purely Arab force.[85]

On the same day, the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend stressed that the YPG-led Syrian Democratic Forces was the only armed group capable of capturing Raqqa in the near future. Fewer US-led coalition troops were to be involved than in the Battle of Mosul.[86] On 3 November, the commander of the Seljuk Brigade and SDF spokesman Col. Talal Silo rejected the participation of Turkey in the operation.[87]

After the start of the Battle of Mosul (2016–17) in Iraq, many of the 20,000 ISIL fighters estimated to be living in the city[88] fled to Raqqa, boosting the ISIL forces that were already present in their de facto capital city.[89]

Announcement

The SDF officially announced the start of the operation on 6 November in the village of Ayn Issa.[90] The intention was to proceed in two phases, first seizing areas around Raqqa and isolating the city, advancing from three fronts, then taking control of the city itself.[91] The SDF general command called for the international coalition against ISIL to support the operation.[92] In response, Ash Carter welcomed the announcement and emphasized the importance of capturing Raqqa and defeating ISIL, while cautioning that “there is hard work ahead”.[93]

The offensive

Phase One: Isolating Raqqa from its northern hinterland[edit]

Tal Saman, ISIL headquarters in the northern Raqqa countryside, after being captured by the SDF.

On 6 November, the SDF captured six small villages,[37] including the villages of Wahid, Umm Safa, Wasita, Haran, al-Adriyah and Jurah south and southeast of Ayn Issa.[94] The Islamic State detonated four car bombs on the first day of the offensive.[95]

On 8 November, the SDF reported that they had taken control of 11 villages near Ain Issa. The SDF also claimed that ISIL used several car bombs against their forces.[96] By 11 November, the SDF had captured over a dozen villages and the strategically significant town of Al-Hisbah, which had served as a local headquarters and command center for ISIL.[97] On the next day, the SDF continued to advance against ISIL in the area around Tal Saman and Khnez, bringing the number of captured farms and villages to 26.[98]

As of 14 November, the SDF reported the completion of the initial phase of the operations, stating that 500 km2has been captured: 34 villages, 31 hamlets and seven strategic hills, along with 167 Islamic State casualties.[24]The SDF had also begun to besiege Tal Saman, the largest village and ISIL headquarters north of Raqqa,[99] while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Salok in the eastern countryside of Raqqa Governorate in order to force the SDF to split its forces and open a new front.[100] On the next day, the SDF advanced into Tal Saman, resulting in a fierce battle with its ISIL defenders.[101] At the same time, the SDF also captured 10 more villages and farms.[102][103] By 19 November, the SDF had fully captured Tal Saman and had driven ISIL completely from the surrounding countryside.[104][105] With this, the first phase of the offensive was considered completed.[106]On 20 November 2016, 200 fighters completed training, joined the SDF, and were sent to participate in the offensive.[107]

Stalemate and preparation for the second phase

A United States Air Force airstrike on an ISIL position to the north of Raqqa

The second phase of the offensive aimed to enforce a full blockade of the city of Raqqa.[106] On 21 November, the SDF captured two more villages,[108] while ISIL launched a counter-attack near Tal Saman.[109] Over the next days, the SDF attempted to further advance, such as at al-Qalita,[110] but was unable to break through ISIL’s defense line south of Tal Saman.[111] On 24 November, a US serviceman died from wounds he suffered after stepping on an improvised explosive device near the town of Ayn Issa, to the north of Raqqa.[112]

On 25 November, ISIL received reinforcements from Iraq, among them explosive experts and defected Iraqi Army personnel.[113] On the next day, ISIL launched a counter-attack, retaking parts of Qaltah village and a nearby water pump station, while the SDF managed to advance in the village’s vicinity.[114][115] Boubaker Al-Hakim, an ISIL commander who was linked to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, was reported to have been killed in an American airstrike in Raqqa on 26 November.[116][117] Iraqi military however later stated in April 2017 that he might still be alive.[118]

On 27 November, the SDF announced the offensive’s second phase was due to start,[119] though this was then delayed. At least five SDF fighters were killed in renewed clashes north of Raqqa on 29 November.[120] Meanwhile, ISIL suffered from the defection of two senior commanders, who fled from Raqqa to join Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Idlib.[121] On 4 December, a coalition drone strike in Raqqa killed two ISIL leaders who had helped facilitate the November 2015 Paris attacks and another who was involved in a foiled suicide attack in Belgium in 2015.[116][122] Three days later, co-Chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim said that the first phase to surround Raqqa was almost over, while a new Arab brigade consisting of more than 1,000 men and women from the al-Raqqa area had joined the SDF as part of the second phase which was slated to be launched on 10 December.[123] More than 1,500 Arab fighters who were trained and equipped by the anti-ISIL coalition joined the SDF for the second phase on its launch day.[124]

Phase Two: Isolating Raqqa from its western countryside

Initial advances[edit]

SDF fighters advance northwest of Raqqa after the start of the offensive’s second phase.

The SDF launched the second phase on 10 December, with the aim of capturing the northwestern and western countrysides of al-Raqqa and ultimately reaching and securing the Tabqa Dam. The same day, it was announced that Arab SDF groups, consisting of the Elite Forces, Jabhat Thuwar al-Raqqa and the newly formed Deir Ezzor Military Council would be taking part. During the first day, the SDF began to advance south of the Tishrin Dam and captured al-Kiradi village.[125][126] The United States announced that it would send 200 more troops to assist the SDF.[51] The next day, the SDF captured seven more villages from ISIL.[127][128] On 12 December, the SDF captured four villages as well as many hamlets south of Tishrin Dam.[129][130][128] The SDF captured five villages during the next two days.[131][132][133] On 15 December, the SDF captured three villages, taking the total number of villages captured by them in the second phase to 20.[134]

Over the next four days, the SDF captured 20 more villages, while finally reaching Lake Assad‘s shore, thereby cutting off and besieging 54 ISIL-held villages to the west. In response to these territorial losses, ISIL began to carry out more suicide attacks against both the SDF as well as civilian targets within SDF-controlled areas in an attempt to hinder the offensive.[135][136][137][138][139] On 19 December, ISIL launched a counter-attack to regain four villages in the northwestern countryside,[140] but the attack was repelled after a few hours.[141] The following night, ISIL forces retreated largely unopposed from the besieged 54 villages, leaving them to be captured by the SDF.[142][143] The SDF declared that they had captured 97 villages overall during the second phase, and had begun to advance against Qal’at Ja’bar.[144]

Battle of Jabar

Killed ISIL fighters near Mahmudli.

On 21 December, the SDF seized five villages near Qal’at Ja’bar, including Jabar,[143] which served as the main weaponry storage and supply centre for ISIL in the northwestern countryside.[145] The coalition then began to move toward Suwaydiya Saghirah and Suwaydiya Kabir, the last villages before Tabqa Dam.[143][146][147] Even though an ISIL counter-attack managed to retake Jabar village soon after,[148] the SDF attacked again on 23 December, and once again took control of it, while also capturing another village.[149][150] This prompted ISIL to launch yet another counter-attack later that day, which was accompanied by several suicide car bombs.[151][152][153] As a result, heavy clashes took place between them and SDF fighters in several villages along the frontline that lasted until the early morning of 24 December. The ISIL forces were eventually forced to withdraw after the SDF first shelled and then stormed their positions, whereupon the latter took control of most of Jabar as well as two more villages,[154][155][156] though some ISIL holdouts persisted in Jabar.[145]

ISIL was pushed out of the neighboring, strategic village of Eastern Jabar on the next day, bringing SDF within 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) of Tabqa Dam,[157][158] and by 26 December, the SDF had finally fully secured the main Jabar village, with the last ISIL defenders being expelled after heavy fighting.[145] An ISIL counterattack on the village later that day failed,[31][159] with a US airstrike killing Abu Jandal al-Kuwaiti as he commanded the assault. Al-Kuwaiti, also known as Abdulmuhsin al-Zaghelan al-Tarish, was a high-ranking ISIL commander leading the defense of the whole Raqqa region against the SDF.[31][30] Meanwhile, the Amaq News Agency declared that Iman Na’im Tandil (nom de guerre: Abu ‘Umar Al-Hindi), one of the few Indian ISIL fighters active in Syria, had also been killed during the fighting near Jabar. The Islamic State’s official media wing later also officially paid tribute to Iman.[160]

Battle for Jabar’s surroundings

A YPGBMP, loaded on a truck, being transported to the frontline near Mahmudli on 4 January.

On 27 December, ISIL launched an attack on the village of Secol in the northern countryside, reportedly breaching the local SDF defences.[161] On the next day, the SDF reportedly captured Hadaj village after two days of heavy fighting, while another ISIL counter-attack against Jabar was repelled.[162] Mahmud al-Isawi, a senior ISIL facilitator who was a manager of instructions and finances for the group’s leaders as well as a provider of propaganda and intelligence support, was killed on 31 December in a US-led coalition airstrike on Raqqa.[163] After three days of heavy fighting, the SDF captured all or most of Mahmudli, the largest town of the Al-Jarniyah Subdistrict, on 1 January 2017. ISIL counterattacked later in an attempt to regain the town.[164][165] The SDF leadership said that in the clashes since the launch of the second phase they had captured 110 villages, killed 277 ISIL fighters, and captured 13.[166]

Also on January 1, the SDF resumed its offensive on the northern front, reportedly advancing 6 km south of Tell Saman against ISIL positions.[11][167] The SDF reportedly captured nine more villages in this area, within the next three days.[168][169][170][171][172] Meanwhile, with the SDF edging closer to Raqqa, ISIL further restricted Internet access and increased surveillance over Internet users in Raqqa. There were harsh punishments for accessing anti-ISIL websites, with a new special unit within the ISIL’s security office searching for offenders. Several online activists in Raqqa were captured and tortured or executed.[173] Another two villages and hamlets were captured by the SDF on 5 January.[174]

SDF fighters examine Qal’at Ja’bar. ISIL had built tunnels and weapons depots into the medieval castle.[175]

The SDF captured Qal’at Ja’bar (Ja’bar Castle) from ISIL on 6 January.[176][177] The same day, ISIL was reported to have moved its 150 prisoners from Tabqa city due to the offensive.[178] The SDF later captured eight villages and five hamlets at the Ayn Issa front.[179] On 7 January, the SDF captured five villages including the strategic Suwaydiya Gharbi[180][181] and Suwaydiya Saghirah, reaching the outskirts of Tabqa Dam.[182] ISIL reportedly recaptured Suwaydiya Saghirah by the next day after a counterattack, while a local leader of the group was killed in clashes.[183] Meanwhile, ISIL was reported to have withdrawn 150 of its fighters towards Raqqa city.[184]

On 8 January 2017, US special forces raided the village of Al-Kubar, between Ar-Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor, killing at least 25 ISIL militants in the two-hour operation.[185] It was believed that the goal of the US may have been to rescue hostages from an ISIL secret prison in the village. After the raid, ISIL forces cut off access to the village.[185]

On 9 January, the SDF captured another village, along with three hamlets.[186]

On 10 January, ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack at the Jabar frontline and reportedly recaptured several sites;[187] with pro-Free Syrian Army sources claiming Qal’at Ja’bar and the village of Jabar were among these.[188] ISIL consequently released photos of dead SDF fighters, while claiming that over 70 of them had been killed in the counter-attack.[189] However, the SDF was reported to still be in control of Jabar village and Qalat Jabar a few days later.[190][191]

An ISIL attack on Jib Shair village, trying to resist SDF advances from the north, was repelled on the next day, after which the SDF advanced and captured six hamlets around it.[192] The SDF later announced that their forces advancing from the Ayn Issa front and on the Qadiriya front linked up in Kurmanju village after capturing several villages over the past few days,[193] besieging a large pocket of about 45 villages and 20 hamlets.[194] All of them were captured by the next day, resulting in the alliance gaining about 460 square kilometres (180 sq mi) of land.[195] Another village was captured by the SDF on 13 January.[196][197] On 15 January, the SDF progressed to Suwaydiya Kabir village,[198] while ISIL launched a large-scale counter-attack against Mahmudli and a nearby village, resulting in clashes within these settlements.[199] The attack was repelled after several hours of fighting.[200] The SDF captured three villages during the day,[201] while Suwaydiya Saghirah was also reported to be under its control again.[202] On 17 January 2017, 28 Arab tribes from Raqqa announced their support for the offensive and encouraged locals to join the SDF.[203][204]

The SDF attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on the next day, leading to heavy clashes in the village.[205] Meanwhile, it was announced that about 2,500 local fighters had joined the offensive since it began.[206] On 19 January, ISIL launched a counter-attack against Suwaydiya Saghirah, supported by mortars and heavy machine guns, killing or wounding several YPG fighters.[207][208] Despite this, the SDF made further progress on the next day, capturing a village and advancing against many other ISIL-held villages.[209] The SDF again attacked Suwaydiya Kabir on 20 January, reaching the outskirts of the village, and captured it on 22 January after heavy clashes, with the support of U.S. special forces.[210][211]

Tabqa Dam raid and further SDF advances in the north

The Tabqa Dam in 2014.

In late January 2017, it was reported that a number of ISIL militants were hiding inside the structure of the Tabqa Dam, including senior militant leaders who used to be “very important prisoners” wanted by the US and several other countries, in order to deter a possible US-led coalition strike on them.[212]

On 23 January, the SDF began to advance on the Tabqa Dam, spurring ISIL to open its turbines to raise the Euphrates River’s water levels. This was seen as an attempt to hinder the progress of the Kurdish-led forces and a scare tactic,[213] and caused the water level of the Euphrates to rise to its highest level in 20 years, leading to record flooding downstream.[84] Coinciding with this, pro-SDF sources reported that US special forces and SDF units had launched a raid against Al-Thawrah across the river.[214] By 24 January, SDF forces had managed to capture parts of the town, and SDF forces on the dam began working towards the Tabqa Dam’s control rooms, at the southern part of the dam, in an attempt to stop the massive outflow of water released by ISIL. However, the entrance to the dam’s control rooms was too well defended, and with the continued threat of disastrous flooding downstream, SDF and the US forces withdrew from both the Tabqa Dam and the town of Al-Thawrah, after which ISIL closed the dam’s turbines again.[84]

Over the next three days, ISIL repeatedly launched fierce counter-attacks against SDF positions in the western and northern countryside.[215][216][217] ISIL managed to retake ground in the area around the dam,[218] but the attack was later repelled.[219]

Preparation for the third phase

An SDF IAG Guardian armoured personnel carrier in February 2017, one of several APCs that were supplied by the United States to the SDF.

On 31 January 2017, the SDF received a number of armoured personnel carriers supplied by the US. The SDF spokesman stated that preparations for a new phase of the operation were continuing and the operation would begin in “a few days”.[220] Meanwhile, the leader of the SDF-aligned Syria’s Tomorrow Movement and its paramilitary wing, Ahmad Jarba, announced that 3,000 Arab fighters under his command were training with US special forces to be deployed in the battle for Raqqa against ISIL.[45]

On the night of 2–3 February, intense CJTF–OIR airstrikes targeted several bridges in or near Raqqa city, destroying them as well as the local water pipelines, leaving the city without drinking water. Meanwhile, the SDF advanced against the village of Qaltah in the northern countryside,[221] which the coalition had already unsuccessfully attacked in November.[114] ISIL maintenance crews managed to fix the pipelines during 3 February, restoring Raqqa’s water supply.[222][223] On 3 February, 251 Arab fighters in Hasaka completed their training and joined the SDF.[224]

Phase Three: Isolating Raqqa from its eastern countryside

Pressing south[edit]

YPG and YPJ fighters in combat.

On 4 February, the SDF announced the offensive’s third phase, aiming at capturing Raqqa’s eastern countryside, and to separate Raqqa city from ISIL forces in Deir ez-Zor, though operations in the west and north would continue simultaneously.[225] The SDF captured a village and three hamlets to the northeast of Raqqa later that day, with clashes being reported at al-Qaltah and Bir Said, while 750 Arabs completed training and joined the SDF.[226][227] On the next day, the Kurdish-led forces captured another two villages along with a hamlet and two farms, and besieged Bir Said,[228][229] while especially intense airstrikes hit several ISIL targets in Al-Thawrah.[230] Bir Said, along with another village, was eventually captured by the SDF on 6 February.[231][232][233] In addition to these villages, the SDF also captured another five villages on two fronts.[234] The SDF made further progress, capturing three more villages on 7 February.[235] In early February 2017, US-led coalition airstrikes destroyed much of the Deir ez-Zor-Raqqa highway, reducing it to a single-file gravel road in some spots, with the SDF patrolling other areas with minefields, in order to prevent ISIL from reinforcing Raqqa city.[84] By this point, almost all of the five bridges leading to Raqqa had been destroyed either by the US-led coalition or by ISIL, with the only exceptions being the Tabqa Dam and the Baath Dam, both west of Raqqa city.[236]

As these advances continued, ISIL responded by launching several unsuccessful counter-attacks against Suwaydiya Kabir and other strategic territories captured by the SDF.[237][238] On 8 and 9 February, the SDF advanced at the northern and northeastern frontline, capturing several villages and besieging Mizella, a major strategic ISIL stronghold in the northern countryside. The advance put them within 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) of Raqqa.[239][240][241][242][243] The SDF captured Mizella the next day.[40][244] The two fronts of the alliance converged on 11 February as it also captured two villages and wheat silos to the north of Raqqa during the day;[245][246] the next day, the SDF attempted to cross the Balikh River northeast of Raqqa, leading to heavy fighting with local ISIL defenders.[247] On 12 February, a large-scale counter-attack by ISIL reportedly succeeded in retaking Suwaydiya Kabir and four other nearby villages.[248][249] However, pro-YPG sources denied these reports.[250] Another counterattack was carried out by ISIL to the northeast of Raqqa where the SDF had advanced to, leading to heavy clashes between both sides.[251] Clashes continued over the next few days.[252] On 16 February, 165 more SDF fighters completed training and joined the offensive.[253]

Capturing the eastern countryside

A destroyed bridge over the Euphrates in Deir ez-Zor Governorate. As result of the CJTF–OIR bombing campaign, as well as ISIL detonations, most bridges across the river were destroyed.

On 17 February 2017, the SDF announced the launch of the second stage of the third phase, aimed at capturing the eastern countryside of Raqqa near Deir ez-Zor, with the Deir Ezzor Military Council leading the operation.[254] On the same day the SDF captured two villages from ISIL to the north of Deir ez-Zor and came within 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) of the northeast of Raqqa,[255] while the Russian Air Force conducted airstrikes on ISIL forces in Raqqa city for the second time since its entry into the war.[9] The next day, the SDF captured another village to the southwest of the Makman front (north of Deir ez-Zor) as well as another near Raqqa.[256][257] On 18 February, the SDF stormed a prison a few kilometres northeast of Raqqa, freeing some of the inmates.[258] They later captured three villages in Deir ez-Zor’s northern countryside.[259] On the next day, the SDF captured five villages to the east of Raqqa.[260] On 20 February, they captured four villages on the Makmen front, including the strategic village of Sebah al-Xêr as well as a base station of Syriatel, thus cutting off the road between Makman and Raqqa and besieging three ISIL-held villages. Furthermore, the SDF took control of a significant bridge over the Balikh River on the western front.[261][262][263][264][265][266]

On 21 February, the SDF captured two villages on the Makman front and another one near Raqqa.[267][268][269] ISIL later again assaulted Suwaydiya Kabir, attacking it from three fronts, leading to heavy fighting around it.[270] The SDF continued advancing in the eastern countryside of Raqqa on 22 February, capturing three villages, and merging the two fronts at Makman and Bir Hebe. A YPJ commander declared that the SDF had cut the road to Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.[271][272][273] The SDF stated that it had entered Deir ez-Zor Governorate for the first time in the offensive.[274] On the next day, they captured six villages and sixteen hamlets.[275]

Opening of a new front

On 24 February, the SDF captured four villages in the Makman front and another three in a fourth front to the northeast of Deir ez-Zor.[276][277] They captured the strategic Abu Khashab village later that day.[278] On 25 February, they captured another three villages on the fourth front.[279][280]

On 26 February, a US airstrike near Tabqa Dam destroyed a former government facility which was being used as a headquarters by ISIL. The airstrike’s vicinity to the dam’s structure led to fears that the dam could potentially be destabilized or destroyed during the fighting.[280] Later that day, it was reported that the SDF had captured the village of Al-Kubar, on the northern bank of the Euphrates in the Deir ez-Zor countryside, further tightening the siege on Raqqa.[281] On 28 February, it was reported that the US-led coalition had completely destroyed the Tabqa Airbase in an airstrike.[282]

On 27 February, the plan that the Pentagon submitted to US President Trump to significantly speed up the fight against ISIL included a significant increase in US participation in the Raqqa campaign, with the possibility of the US increasing its ground presence on the Raqqa front to 4,000–5,000 troops.[283]

Advance to the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway

YPG/SDF fighters on the bank of the Euphrates east of Raqqa.

The offensive resumed on 5 March, with the SDF capturing at least seven villages and 15 hamlets to the northeast of the Euphrates River, east of Raqqa. The offensive had previously been paused due to bad weather, according to the SDF.[284][285][286] The area captured by SDF forces on that day was about 19 square kilometers, and about 32 ISIL militants were killed in the clashes.[287] After further advances on 6 March, the SDF cut the highway between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor, which was the last road out of the city,[288][18] and reached the Euphrates River.[289] The SDF captured six villages, the Al-Kubar Military Base (a former nuclear facility), and the Zalabiye Bridge, during the day.[290][291] On 8 March, the SDF took control of the strategic West Menxer hill in the eastern countryside,[292] while elements of the US 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit were deployed to northern Syria, bringing with them an artillery battery of M777 howitzers to support the attack on Raqqa.[54] Meanwhile, about 150 ISIL militants from Hama and Deir-ez Zor managed to reinforce Raqqa, by crossing the Euphrates, despite the partial siege that had been imposed by the SDF on the city.[293]

On 9 March, SDF captured the strategic East Menxer hill and captured three villages on two different fronts. Two villages, including Kubar, were captured on the front to the far east of Raqqa, and one near Raqqa.[294][295][296] 244 Arab fighters from the Raqqa countryside also joined the SDF during the day, for the protection of the people in the region.[297] On the next day, SDF forces advancing from the Abu Khashab front captured three villages, including two near Kubar.[298][299][299][300] On 12 March, the SDF captured Khas Ujayl village, to the southeast of Raqqa, on the Abu Khashab front,[301][302] while ISIL continued to launch repeated counterattacks in the area, in an attempt to check the SDF advances.[303] Meanwhile, 230 ISIL fighters entered Raqqa to reinforce the city.[303][304]

On 14 March, the SDF captured the Khass Hibal village, as well as the Al-Kulayb grain silos, along the Raqqa-Deir Ezzor highway.[305][306] An SDF spokeswoman stated that Raqqa had been isolated. The advance of the SDF put them in control of the land region used by ISIL to connect to their territories in the east, stretching from al-Kubar to the northern bank of the Euphrates and measuring 30 kilometres (19 mi).[307] The SDF captured the Hamad Asaf silos and the[308] Al Kulayb village the next day. Hamad Assaf was also reportedly captured.[309][310] On 17 March, a YPG commander stated that the SDF planned to storm Raqqa city in April 2017, and that the YPG would be participating in the attack, despite the fierce opposition from the Turkish government. However, Pentagon Spokesman Jeff Davis denied that any decision regarding when and how an assault on Raqqa city will be carried out.[311] Meanwhile, clashes continued to take place around Khas Ujayl.[312][313]

The town of al-Karama, after the SDF had captured it from ISIL.

Heavy clashes took place in the town of al-Karama, to the east of Raqqa, on 19 March.[314][315] On the next day, SDF captured al-Karama, along with Jarqa village as well as a train station and water pumping station nearby.[316][317][318][319][320] On 21 March, it was reported again that the SDF had captured Hamad Assaf in the eastern countryside from the Abu Khashab front.[321][322] Another village was captured on 22 March from the Abu Khashab front.[323][322] Meanwhile, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) and Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently (RIBSS) stated that coalition airstrikes hit a school being used as a shelter for displaced people in a village to the west of Raqqa on 20 March. SOHR stated that 33 civilians were killed in the airstrikes while RIBSS stated that it was unknown what happened to 50 families who were there.[324] The SDF continued advancing in the eastern Raqqa countryside on 23 March, capturing two more villages on the Abu Khashab front, allowing them to capture a small ISIL pocket.[325][326][327][328]On 24 March, the SDF took control of two more villages in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.[329][330][331]

Battle for al-Tabqa countryside and other advances

SDF fighters near Tabqa Dam on 27 March.

On 22 March, the SDF began an assault to capture the Tabqa Dam, al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, and its airbase. Five hundred SDF fighters and five hundred US Special Forces from CJTF–OIR were airlifted by helicopters of the United States military, across the Euphrates River and Lake Assad, and were dropped on the Shurfa Peninsula to the west of Al-Thawrah. The attack was supported by artillery support from United States Marines, as well as air support.[332][333][334][335] SDF and US forces also landed on the Jazirat al-‘Ayd Island (or Peninsula) to the west of Tabqa Dam, capturing it as well.[336] Four villages southwest of Tabqa were captured in the attack, including Abu Hurayrah, al-Mushayirafah, al-Krain, and al-Jameen. The SDF advanced towards the town of Al-Thawrah, where fliers were dropped, asking residents to stay indoors and avoid clashing against ISIL for now. These fliers were also dropped on Raqqa city.[337] An anti-ISIL coalition spokesman announced that the advance had cut off the highway linking the Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa Governorates. He added that around 75-80% of the attacking force consisted of Arab fighters, with the rest being Kurds. The SDF stated that the advance was also meant to block any advance on Raqqa by the Syrian Arab Army from the west.[338]

On the same day, SDF and US forces stormed the Tabqa Dam, triggering “intense” clashes with ISIL forces. US officials stated that it may take several weeks to capture Tabqa Dam, Al-Thawrah city, and the surrounding countryside from ISIL.[339][340] Airstrikes by the coalition on Tabqa city were reported to have killed about 25 civilians.[341] On 23 March, some early reports circulated that the SDF had captured Tabqa Dam from ISIL, after clashing with ISIL forces for a few hours.[342][343][8] However, these reports were unconfirmed by other sources, with neither the SDF or CENTCOM confirming the capture of Tabqa Dam, and Rudaw reported that the SDF was still preparing to capture it.[342][344][345] SDF spokesman Talal Silo stated during the day that they were still advancing on the dam and the city and expected to attack the dam soon.[346] Later on the same day, it was reported that ISIL was redeploying a large number of fighters from the Deir ez-Zor Province to Al-Thawrah and Raqqa city, in order to reinforce those fronts.[347] ISIL’s Amaq News Agency later denied later that the SDF had captured the dam.[348]

Refugees from al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, who have fled from the fighting between the SDF and ISIL.

On 24 March, SDF spokeswoman Jihan Sheikh Ahmed announced that they had reached the Tabqa Dam, and were fighting ISIL at its entrance.[349] The assault on the dam was spearheaded by SDF fighters who were backed by United States Special Operation Forces. According to early reports, the SDF and its allies had taken its outer perimeter, with the battle ongoing for its middle.[350] On the same day, it was also reported that the SDF had captured 8 villages to the southwest of Al-Thawrah.[351] On 25 March, pro-Kurdish news agency Kurdistan24 reported that the SDF had announced the capture of the Tabqa Dam.[352] On the same day, the SDF advanced on Al-Tabqa Airbase, setting off clashes in the vicinity.[353]Amaq meanwhile claimed SDF had withdrawn from the dam.[354]

On 26 March, the SDF captured 2 villages to the east of Al-Thawrah. It was also reported that ISIL was shelling the surroundings of Tabqa Dam with heavy weaponry.[355][356]On the same day, ISIL claimed that Tabqa Dam was on the verge of collapse and that all the floodgates were closed. The dam was reported to have become inoperable, which ISIL claimed was due to Coalition bombing and artillery strikes, though the SOHR stated that the actual reasons were unknown, adding that ISIL still held its main building and turbines.[357][358]SDF however denied that it had been hit, while RIBSS (Raqqa is Silently Being Slaughtered) stated that ISIL was informing fleeing civilians that the dam was safe.[359] Additionally, the US-led Coalition stated that the Tabqa Dam was structurally sound, and that the dam had not been targeted by any airstrikes. They also stated that the SDF controlled an emergency spillway at the northern part of the dam, which could be used in the event of an emergency.[360] On the same day, SDF spokesman Talal Silo announced that SDF had stormed the Tabqa military airport, and had taken sixty to seventy percent of it.[361] They later announced that they had completely captured the Al-Tabqa Airbase, following a 24-hour battle.[12][362][13]ISIL forces stationed at Al-Tabqa Airbase were reported to have withdrawn northward, to Al-Thawrah city. Additionally, SDF forces captured 2 villages near the airbase during the advance.[362][363]

SDF forces target ISIL positions near Tabqa Dam.

Late on 26 March, it was reported that the SDF had taken full control of Tabqa Dam, and that repairs on the dam by Coalition engineers had begun.[14][364] A day later however SDF announced they were temporarily pausing their offensive for the dam.[365][15][16] Later in the day, a spokeswoman of the SDF announced that engineers who had been permitted to check the dam and its operations did not find it was damaged or malfunctioning.[366] SDF also captured 2 villages to the west of Raqqa on the same day.[367][368][369] It resumed the offensive against ISIL at the Tabqa Dam on 28 March.[370] Syrian engineers worked on the dam during a pause in the fighting to open spillways and ease the pressure on the dam. Its southern reaches were reported to be under ISIL control. ISIL claimed that the maintenance team was killed in airstrikes by the anti-ISIL coalition while the SOHR stated that it had learned that the engineer administering the dam had been killed in airstrikes along with a technician. It also stated that the group had sent 900 fighters from Raqqa to fight against the SDF advance.[371]

On 29 March, the SDF cut the road between Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city and Raqqa. The SDF stated that ISIL had shelled the Tabqa Dam during the day, causing repair work to be temporarily paused.[372][373][374] On 31 March, SDF forces attacked the town of Al-Safsafah, to the east of Al-Thawrah, in an attempt to besiege the city.[375][376] On the same day, the Ajeel tribe of al-Raqqa announced its support for the SDF’s Raqqa campaign and sent 150 fighters. On 1 April 2017, 200 Arab youths completed training and joined the SDF, also for the Raqqa campaign.[377][378] The SDF announced during the day that over 220 new recruits had joined the offensive.[379] Meanwhile, leaflets were dropped on the city calling on ISIL to surrender.[380] Clashes continued in the countryside of Tabqa on next day as both sides attempted to advance.[381]

The SDF and some activists stated on 2 April that it had repelled a major ISIL counterattack to the northeast of Tabqa city, near the Tabqa Dam and near the Tabqa airbase. They also continued to advance in villages to the east of Tabqa city.[382] On the same day, it was reported that SDF had completely besieged Al-Thawrah (Tabqa) city, with Kurdish activists stating that 2 SDF units linked up to the east of the city.[383][384] SOHR, however, stated that they were still trying to besiege the city.[385] SDF fighters continued battling for Safsafah and Ibad, on the next day, to fully encircle Tabqa.[386][387] On 3 April, it was reported that ISIL was possibly in the process of moving its capital from Raqqa city to Mayadin, in the Deir ez-Zor Governorate. This followed months of gradual relocation of resources and senior ISIL leaders from Raqqa to Mayadin.[388] SDF entered and besieged Safsafah on 5 April, thus also besieging Tabqa city while claiming that it had also taken control of a major part of Safsafah.[389][390] The village was captured by the next day, resulting in SDF completely encircling Tabqa city.[391][392]

The SDF captured Ibad village, to the east of Safsafah, on 9 April, further expanding their control in eastern countryside of Tabqa, while more than 25 ISIL fighters were killed in the clashes.[393][394] ISIL also launched unsuccessful counterattacks on Safsafah,[395] while also attacking Al-Tabqa Airbase.[396] The SDF captured another village near Tabqa on the next day.[397][398]

On 11 April, the US-led Coalition reported that the SDF had captured 60% of Tabqa Dam, and that they were “very close” to liberating the dam.[399][400] On 13 April, the United States military stated that CJTF-OIR had bombed a SDF fighting position near Tabqa as it was misidentified as belonging to ISIL. It added that the airstrikes resulted in deaths of 18 SDF fighters.[401]

Phase Four: Offensive directly north of and around Raqqa city; Assault on Tabqa city

On 13 April, the SDF announced the launch of the fourth phase of the campaign.[402] The new phase will involve capturing the entire area directly north of Raqqa city, including the Jalab valley, as well as completing the siege of Raqqa city.[403] The advancements may involve capturing the southern countryside of Raqqa as well, since the SDF stated that they plan to fully isolate the city before launching an attack on it.[404][403] A plan to attack Raqqa city itself was also scheduled to for April 2017, but it was postponed due to the Battle of Tabqa.[405] SDF was reported to have captured a village in the northern countryside of Raqqa on the same day.[406]

SOHR stated early on 15 April that the SDF had advanced to the edge of Tabqa, and was within hundreds of meters of the city.[407] Later, SDF captured the village of Ayad al-Saghir village near Tabqa and stormed the city itself, capturing the Alexandria suburb and bringing about 15% of the city under their control.[408][409][410] They also cleared the Mushayrifah village near Tabqa, killing 27 ISIL fighters.[411][412]

On 17 April, the SDF captured 3 villages in the northern countryside of Raqqa along with four hamlets.[413][414][415]

Civil administration of captured territory

Samer Kharkhi, one of the Raqqa Civil Council’s leading members.

On 14 November, the SDF’s civilian sister institution, the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), started working on the establishment of a civilian administration to run the city of Raqqa after the expulsion of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. SDC co-chair Îlham Ehmed said “such an administration could provide a good example for democratic change in Raqqa, especially that the city has been for years a de facto capital for the ISIS terrorist group. This accomplishment would be a major change in the overall situation in Syria, and would help the country move towards stability, democratic change. Raqqa will be an example for the whole country.”[416]

On 8 December, Col. John Dorrian, the Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman, stated that “a governance structure representative of the local population” similar to that in Manbij is planned for Raqqa.[417] On 10 December, Cihan ShekhEhmed, the spokesman of the SDF-led operation, said that Raqqa would be run by a local elected civilian council after it was liberated.[124] On 27 March 2017, Salih Muslim Muhammad, co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said that as soon as the SDF had captured the city, “the people of Raqqa are the ones who [will] take the decision on everything”. If they wanted to do so, Muslim said, they could choose to join the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria.[418] On the same day, the Raqqa Civil Council announced that it had taken over the administration of the eastern countryside.[419]

Gallery

Notes

  1. Jump up^ Most Leftist Western volunteers fight as part of the YPG,[2] though some have also formed an independent unit, the Antifascist International Tabur,[3] or joined the International Freedom Battalion. The latter is a larger unit, mostly composed of Kurdish and Turkish communists.[4]
  2. Jump up^ 1,500 volunteers from villages captured by the SDF during phase one;[49] 1,000 volunteers from villages captured during phase two,[19] 750 volunteers from villages captured during phase three,[27] 200 more joined in April[50]
  3. Jump up^ According to SOHR, 8 SDF casualties were Western volunteers; among these were 4 Americans (one of which fought for the MFS), 1 British, 1 Canadian, and 1 German.[68] ARA News, on the other side, reported that only 5 Western volunteers had been killed.[69]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raqqa_campaign_(2016%E2%80%93present)

Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS Meeting

March 24, 2017

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with a delegate during the afternoon ministerial plenary for the Global Coalition working to Defeat ISIS at the State Department in Washington, March 22, 2017.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson speaks with a delegate during the afternoon ministerial plenary for the Global Coalition working to Defeat ISIS at the State Department in Washington, March 22, 2017.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.

On March 22, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presided over a meeting of the 68-member Global Coalition to defeat ISIS and emphasized that the Coalition is unified, remains committed to the military defeat of ISIS, and noted the significant progress that has been made.

On the battlefield, 23 coalition partners have over 9,000 troops in Iraq and Syria in support of the effort to defeat ISIS. The Coalition has made significant progress in denying ISIS safe haven and building the military capacity of those directly engaged in fighting ISIS.

Coalition operations have liberated 62 percent of the terrain ISIS once controlled in Iraq and 30 percent in Syria, including key cities in both countries. The number of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria is down by more than half since its peak in 2014.

Coalition aircraft have conducted more than 19,000 strikes on ISIS targets, removing tens of thousands of ISIS fighters from the battlefield and killing over 180 senior to mid-level ISIS leaders, including nearly all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s deputies, his so-called ministers of war, information, finance, oil and gas, and his chief of external operations.

The Coalition has supported its Iraqi partners to achieve significant progress in the fight to retake Mosul. Iraqi Security Forces officially liberated eastern Mosul on January 24, 2017, and now are making significant territorial gains in the western portion of the city.

To date, Coalition efforts have trained nearly 90,000 Iraqi Security Force members, including Iraqi Army soldiers, Counterterrorism Services soldiers, Kurdish Peshmerga, federal police and border security soldiers, and tribal volunteers.

With the support of the Coalition, Syrian partners have liberated over 14,000 square kilometers of terrain in Syria, including more than 7,400 square kilometers of territory since isolation operations around Raqqa began on November 5.

Coalition forces are now pressuring ISIS in Raqqa, its external operations headquarters, from where ISIS is plotting against Coalition member interests around the globe.

“Hard-fought victories in Iraq and Syria have swung the momentum in our coalition’s favor,” said Secretary Tillerson, “but we must increase the intensity of our efforts to solidify our gains in the next phase of the counter-ISIS fight. Degradation of ISIS is not the end goal, we must defeat ISIS.”

http://editorials.voa.gov/a/global-coalition-to-defeat-isis-meeting/3781086.html

The race for Raqqa: Major battle to liberate the ISIS stronghold looms after victory nears in Mosul and Palmyra… but who will lead the offensive?

  • Syrian soldiers, Turkish troops and US-backed Kurdish troops eyeing up Raqqa
  • Islamic State terrorists were driven out of Mosul and Palmyra in another victory
  • With liberation of the two cities drawing nearer, Raqqa will become top priority
  • The fall of the terror group’s de facto capital would be seen as ISIS’ biggest loss 

A major battle to liberate the Islamic State group’s stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria is looming after victories on the battlefields of Mosul and Palmyra.

The Pentagon has drawn up a secret plan which is likely to lean on local allies with stepped-up American support, but questions still remain as to who exactly will lead the operation to kick ISIS out of its de facto capital.

Syrian government forces, Turkish troops and their Syrian militia allies, and US-backed Kurdish forces all have their eye on Raqqa.

Each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the United States support the others, and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own.

The fall of Raqqa, the Islamic State group’s de facto capital and largest remaining stronghold, would be the biggest defeat for the militants in Syria since they captured the northern city on the banks of the Euphrates River in January 2014.

A major part of the proposal would be to increase the number of US Special Operations trainers and advisers, which currently number around 500. Pictured: An Iraqi Army officer watches as a rocket launched towards Islamic State militants during a battle in Mosul, Iraq

An Iraqi Army officer (right) uses his mobile phone to film a rocket launched towards Islamic State militants during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul,Iraq

The proposal does not call for putting Americans on the front lines but does call for greater American decision-making powers. Pictured: A displaced Iraqi family in Hamam Ali town, southern Mosul

Iraqi family displaced due to fighting between the Iraqi army and ISIS, waiting at a temporary shelter to be sent to a refugee camp in Hamam Ali town, southern Mosul

Plan comes as major battle to liberate Raqqa looms after victories on the battlefields of Mosul and Palmyra. Questions remain as to who exactly will lead the operation to kick ISIS out of its de facto capital. Pictured: Iraqi soldiers

Iraqi soldiers fire a rocket toward Islamic State militants on the outskirt of the Makhmour south of Mosul, Iraq

Syrian government forces, Turkish troops and their Syrian militia allies, and US-backed Kurdish forces all have their eye on Raqqa. Pictured: Smoke billows as Iraqi forces hold a position on a street in Mosul on March 1

Smoke billows as Iraqi forces hold a position on a street in Mosul on March 1, 2017, during an offensive by security forces to retake the western parts of the city from Islamic State

Since October, US-backed coalition forces have been advancing on Mosul in an attempt to re-capture it from the terror group’s control.

Civilians have been evacuated and ISIS have been driven out of the city one village and area at a time.

This morning, an Iraqi military commander says forces have taken control of another neighborhood in western Mosul.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman of the Joint Military Operations Command said despite bad weather, Iraqi special operations forces have completely retaken the Wadi Hajjar area from militants.

However, commanders on the ground say that clearing operations are still continuing.

Wadi Hajjar lies just northwest of the city’s international airport.

Iraqi forces, including special operations forces and federal police units, launched an attack on the western part of Mosul nearly two weeks ago to dislodge the extremists.

Since the offensive began, more than 28,000 people have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN.

Across the border in Syria, army units were clearing land mines and explosives left behind by ISIS in the historic town of Palmyra on Friday, a day after government troops and allied militiamen recaptured it from the extremists.

The military expects the process to be long and difficult due to the large number of mines planted by the terror group.

Syrian troops fully recaptured Palmyra on Thursday after a push that saw the militants’ defenses crumble and ISIS fighters flee in the face of artillery fire and intense Russia-backed airstrikes.

Each vehemently rejects letting the others capture the city and would likely react in anger should the United States support the others, and it is not clear that any has the resources to take the city on its own. Pictured: Parts of the ancient city of Palmyra being blown up

The Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in the ancient city of Palmyra is blown up in conflict

Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State, now called the Islamic State group, marching in Raqqa, Syria, where attention will now turn

Fighters from the al-Qaida linked Islamic State, now called the Islamic State group, marching in Raqqa, Syria, where attention will now turn

Now, all eyes turn to Raqqa.

Faysal Itani, an analyst at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, said: ‘Raqqa is more of an abstract goal: everyone wants it in principle, but no one is willing to commit the resources and bear the risks necessary.’

Turkey rules out a US compromise in Syria

Turkey is ruling out compromise with the United States over the involvement of Kurdish militia fighters in an assault in Syria, an obstacle for Washington’s plan to deploy its strongest allies on the ground in a decisive showdown with Islamic State.

Donald Trump has made defeating ISIS one of the key goals of his presidency, and his new administration received a draft Pentagon plan on Monday to accelerate the campaign.

Raqqa in Syria, one of Islamic State’s two de facto capitals along with Mosul in Iraq, is expected to be the scene of the final battle to crush the jihadists’ self-proclaimed Caliphate sometime this year, after a US-backed Iraqi government assault on Mosul already under way since October.

But putting together a united ground force to take Raqqa has so far proven a confounding task in Syria, where the United States, Turkey, Russia, Iran and Arab states have all backed local forces in a multi-sided civil war since 2011. All the foreign powers oppose Islamic State, but their Syrian proxies have mainly fought against one another.

Turkey, with the second largest army in NATO, is adamant that Washington should switch support for the planned Raqqa offensive from the Kurdish YPG militia to Syrian rebels Turkey has trained and led against Islamic State for the past year.

 President Donald Trump has vowed to ‘obliterate’ the group.

‘We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet,’ he told Congress on Tuesday.

The top US commander in the campaign against IS, Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, has said he believes Raqqa and Mosul will be taken within six months.

So far, the offensive on Mosul has been underway four months, with only half the city captured from the militants in ferocious street-to-street urban combat.

And that is using a relatively intensively trained and united military, backed by heavy U.S. firepower and commandos on the ground – a contrast to the comparatively undisciplined and fragmented forces the US has to choose from as allies in Syria.

Raqqa is a smaller city than Mosul, but the militants are believed to have dug in with powerful fortifications there.

In Syria, US-backed predominantly Kurdish fighters known as the Syria Democratic Forces, or SDF, remain Trump’s best bet.

Aided by US-led coalition airstrikes and some 500 US special forces troops deployed in an advisory role, the force has been marching toward Raqqa since November.

Closing in on the city from different directions, it is now stationed some eight kilometers (five miles) north of the city.

The US military recently provided a small number of armored vehicles to the US-backed force to give better protection from small arms fire and roadside bombs as they get closer to Raqqa.

Further aid to the rag-tag group, however, raises sensitive questions over how to deal with Turkey, a NATO ally with much at stake in Syria.

Turkey considers the main Kurdish militia in Syria – known as the YPG, and an affiliate of the US-backed SDF – a terrorist organization, and has vowed to work with Syrian opposition fighters known as the Free Syrian Army to liberate Raqqa.

In a dramatic reversal of years of the Obama administration’s calls for the ouster of President Bashar Assad, Trump has hinted he might be willing to work with Assad’s army and Russia, whose year-and-a-half military intervention has propped up Assad’s government.

Assad’s forces are preoccupied with other battles, however, and would likely need significant US military involvement to take on Raqqa.

On Wednesday, the Syrian military recaptured the central town of Palmyra, a city located in the desert south of Raqqa that has gone back and forth between control of the military and the extremists several times.

The government forces have also clashed with the Turkish-backed Syrian fighters, who block their path to Raqqa.

Iraqi security forces inspect a recently discovered tunnel that had been used by Islamic State militants as a training camp, in western Mosul, Iraq on Wednesday, March 1. 2017

Iraqi security forces inspect a recently discovered tunnel that had been used by Islamic State militants as a training camp, in western Mosul, Iraq on Wednesday, March 1. 2017

Syrians are sharply divided over who should enter Raqqa.

Many opposition supporters consider the SDF, which maintains a tacit non-aggression pact with Assad’s forces, to be a hostile group.

There are also fears of tensions if Raqqa, home to a nearly 200,000 mainly Arab population, is taken by the SDF, a coalition of Kurdish, Arab and Christian fighters.

‘Let us be frank that any force that will liberate Raqqa, other than the Free Syrian Army, is going to be a new occupation force with different flags and banners,’ said Mohammed Khodor of Sound and Picture Organization, which tracks atrocities by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim was even more blunt, warning that if the SDF enters Raqqa, it will hurt relations between Ankara and Washington.

Since the Mosul offensive began, more than 28,000 people like these have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN

Since the Mosul offensive began, more than 28,000 people like these have been displaced by the fighting, according to the UN

‘We have said that a terror organization cannot be used against another terror organization,’ the Turkish leader told the state-run Anadolu news agency.

The Kurds reject that notion and insist that only forces fighting under the SDF banner will liberate Raqqa.

‘Turkey is an occupation force and has no legitimate right to enter Raqqa,’ said SDF spokeswoman Cihan Sheikh Ehmed.

In a text message exchange from northern Syria, she said the SDF has the experience in fighting IS to finish the operation.

Battlefield victories by the SDF against the Islamic State group have brought growing Western support.

Asked if adding more US troops or better arming Syria’s Kurds were options, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he will ‘accommodate any request’ from his field commanders.

In Mosul, the US-led coalition is playing a greater role than ever before in the fight against IS and coalition forces have moved closer to front-line fighting.

U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian says the increased support is an effort to ‘accelerate the campaign’ against the Islamic State group, noting that launching simultaneous operations in both Mosul and Raqqa ‘puts further strain on the enemy’s command and control.’

‘It is a complicating factor when you don’t have a partner government to work with,’ conceded Dorrian, adding that whoever the coalition partners with in the fight for Raqqa is ‘a subject of ongoing discussions.’

Wladimir van Wilgenburg, a Middle East analyst at the Jamestown Foundation who closely follows Kurdish affairs, says the US-led coalition wants to have a quick end to IS in Raqqa, from which external operations against the West are planned.

That means it would prefer to work with the Kurdish-led SDF forces ‘since they are able to mobilize manpower unlike the Turks,’ he said.

An ISIS flag flies in the city of Palmyra - but not for long as victory nears in the city

An ISIS flag flies in the city of Palmyra – but not for long as victory nears in the city

Allied forces stand on the rubble of the Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in Palmyra

Allied forces stand on the rubble of the Tetrapylon and Roman Amphitheatre in Palmyra

An Iraqi soldier inspects a recently-discovered train tunnel, adorned with an Islamic State group flag

An Iraqi soldier inspects a recently-discovered train tunnel, adorned with an Islamic State group flag

In any case, the battle for Raqqa is sure to be a long and deadly one. It took the SDF nearly 10 weeks to capture the northern Syrian town of Manbij from IS last year.

It took Turkish forces and allied groups more than three months to retake the town of al-Bab, a costly battle that killed dozens of Turkish soldiers and many civilians.

Raqqa is much larger than either Manbij or al-Bab.

Some Syrian opposition activists say the extremists dug a trench around it to make it difficult for attackers to storm it.

‘It would be difficult for any troops,’ said Itani of the Atlantic Council.

‘Witness the slow and ugly progress in Mosul as well. Raqqa would be tough,’ he said.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4278252/The-race-Raqqa-Major-battle-liberate-ISIS-city.html#ixzz4eXuAmt6k

President Trump arriving at the White House on Sunday. CreditAl Drago/The New York Times

The Trump foreign policy team has been all over the map on what to do next in Syria — topple the regime, intensify aid to rebels, respond to any new attacks on innocent civilians. But when pressed, there is one idea everyone on the team seems to agree on: “The defeat of ISIS,” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson put it.

Well, let me add to their confusion by asking just one question: Why?

Why should our goal right now be to defeat the Islamic State in Syria? Of course, ISIS is detestable and needs to be eradicated. But is it really in our interest to be focusing solely on defeating ISIS in Syria right now?

Let’s go through the logic: There are actually two ISIS manifestations.

One is “virtual ISIS.” It is satanic, cruel and amorphous; it disseminates its ideology through the internet. It has adherents across Europe and the Muslim world. In my opinion, that ISIS is the primary threat to us, because it has found ways to deftly pump out Sunni jihadist ideology that inspires and gives permission to those Muslims on the fringes of society who feel humiliated — from London to Paris to Cairo — to recover their dignity via headline-grabbing murders of innocents.

The other incarnation is “territorial ISIS.” It still controls pockets in western Iraq and larger sectors of Syria. Its goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria — plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies — and to defeat the pro-Iranian Shiite regime in Iraq, replacing both with a caliphate.

Challenge No. 1: Not only will virtual ISIS, which has nodes all over the world, not go away even if territorial ISIS is defeated, I believe virtual ISIS will become yet more virulent to disguise the fact that it has lost the territorial caliphate to its archenemies: Shiite Iran, Hezbollah, pro-Shiite militias in Iraq, the pro-Shiite Assad regime in Damascus and Russia, not to mention America.

Challenge No. 2: America’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah so they will negotiate a power-sharing accord with moderate Sunni Muslims that would also ease Assad out of power. One way to do that would be for NATO to create a no-fly safe zone around Idlib Province, where many of the anti-Assad rebels have gathered and where Assad recently dropped his poison gas on civilians. But Congress and the U.S. public are clearly wary of that.

So what else could we do? We could dramatically increase our military aid to anti-Assad rebels, giving them sufficient anti-tank and antiaircraft missiles to threaten Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah and Syrian helicopters and fighter jets and make them bleed, maybe enough to want to open negotiations. Fine with me.

What else? We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad. After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war — the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other. If we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah and enable them to devote all their resources to crushing the last moderate rebels in Idlib, not sharing power with them.

I don’t get it. President Trump is offering to defeat ISIS in Syria for free — and then pivot to strengthening the moderate anti-Assad rebels. Why? When was the last time Trump did anything for free? When was the last real estate deal Trump did where he volunteered to clean up a toxic waste dump — for free — before he negotiated with the owner on the price of the golf course next door?

This is a time for Trump to be Trump — utterly cynical and unpredictable. ISIS right now is the biggest threat to Iran, Hezbollah, Russia and pro-Shiite Iranian militias — because ISIS is a Sunni terrorist group that plays as dirty as Iran and Russia.

Trump should want to defeat ISIS in Iraq. But in Syria? Not for free, not now. In Syria, Trump should let ISIS be Assad’s, Iran’s, Hezbollah’s and Russia’s headache — the same way we encouraged the mujahedeen fighters to bleed Russia in Afghanistan.

Yes, in the long run we want to crush ISIS everywhere, but the only way to crush ISIS and keep it crushed on the ground is if we have moderate Sunnis in Syria and Iraq able and willing to replace it. And those will only emerge if there are real power-sharing deals in Syria and Iraq — and that will only happen if Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah feel pressured to share power.

And while I am at it, where is Trump’s Twitter feed when we need it? He should be tweeting every day this message: “Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have become the protectors of a Syrian regime that uses poison gas on babies! Babies! Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, Assad — poison gas enablers. Sad.”

Do not let them off the hook! We need to make them own what they’ve become — enablers of a Syria that uses poison gas on children. Believe it or not, they won’t like being labeled that way. Trump needs to use his global Twitter feed strategically. Barack Obama never played this card. Trump needs to slam it down every day. It creates leverage.

Syria is not a knitting circle. Everyone there plays dirty, deviously and without mercy. Where’s that Trump when we need him?

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/12/opinion/why-is-trump-fighting-isis-in-syria.html?_r=0

Kurdistan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Kurdistan (disambiguation).
Kurdistan
Flag of Kurdistan.svg
Flag
Kurdish-inhabited area by CIA (1992) box inset removed.jpg
Kurdish-inhabited areas
Language Kurdish
Location Upper Mesopotamia, and the Zagros Mountains, including parts of Eastern Anatolia Region (Armenian Highlands) and southeastern Anatolia, northern Syria, northern Iraq, and the northwestern Iranian Plateau.[1]
Countries Iraq Republic of Iraq
 Islamic Republic of Iran
 Republic of Turkey
 Syrian Arab Republic
Population 28 million (2014 estimate)[2]
Internet TLD .krd

Kurdistan (/ˌkɜːrdɪˈstæn/ or /ˌkɜːrdɪˈstɑːn/) (Kurdish: [ˌkurdɪˈstan]; “Homeland of the Kurds” or “Land of the Kurds”;[3] also formerly spelled Curdistan;[4][5] ancient name: Corduene[6][7]) or Greater Kurdistan, is a roughly defined geo-cultural region wherein the Kurdish people form a prominent majority population,[8] and Kurdish culture, languages, and national identity have historically been based.[9] Kurdistan roughly encompasses the northwestern Zagros and the eastern Taurus mountain ranges.[10]

Contemporary use of the term refers to four parts of Kurdistan, which include southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), and northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan).[11][12] Some Kurdish nationalist organizations seek to create an independent nation state consisting of some or all of these areas with a Kurdish majority, while others campaign for greater autonomy within the existing national boundaries.[13][14]

Iraqi Kurdistan first gained autonomous status in a 1970 agreement with the Iraqi government, and its status was re-confirmed as an autonomous entity within the federal Iraqi republic in 2005.[15] There is a province by the name Kurdistan in Iran; it is not self-ruled. Kurds fighting in the Syrian Civil War were able to take control of large sections of northern Syria as government forces, loyal to Bashar al-Assad, withdrew to fight elsewhere. Having established their own government, they called for autonomy in a federal Syria after the war.[16]

History

Main article: History of the Kurds

Ancient history

Various groups, among them the Guti, Hurrians, Mannai (Mannaeans), and Armenians, lived in this region in antiquity.[17] The original Mannaean homeland was situated east and south of the Lake Urmia, roughly centered around modern-day Mahabad.[18] The region came under Persian rule during the reign of Cyrus the Great and Darius I.

The Kingdom of Corduene, which emerged from the declining Seleucid Empire, was located to the south and south-east of Lake Van between Persia and Mesopotamia and ruled northern Mesopotamia and southeastern Anatolia from 189 BC to AD 384 as vassals of the vying Parthian and Roman Empire. At its zenith, the Roman Empire ruled large Kurdish-inhabited areas, particularly the western and northern Kurdish areas in the Middle East. Corduene became a vassal state of the Roman Republic in 66 BC and remained allied with the Romans until AD 384. After 66 BC, it passed another 5 times between Rome and Persia. Corduene was situated to the east of Tigranocerta, that is, to the east and south of present-day Diyarbakır in south-eastern Turkey.

Ancient Kurdistan as Kard-uchi, during Alexander the Great‘s Empire, 4th century BC

Some historians have correlated a connection between Corduene with the modern names of Kurds and Kurdistan;[7][19][20] T. A. Sinclair dismissed this identification as false,[21] while a common association is asserted in the Columbia Encyclopedia.[22]

Some of the ancient districts of Kurdistan and their corresponding modern names:[23]

  1. Corduene or Gordyene (Siirt, Bitlis and Şırnak)
  2. Sophene (Diyarbakır)
  3. Zabdicene or Bezabde (Gozarto d’Qardu or Jazirat Ibn or Cizre)
  4. Basenia (Bayazid)
  5. Moxoene (Muş)
  6. Nephercerta (Miyafarkin)
  7. Artemita (Van)

19th-century map showing the location of the Kingdom of Corduene in 60 B.C

One of the earliest records of the phrase land of the Kurds is found in an Assyrian Christian document of late antiquity, describing the stories of Assyrian saints of the Middle East, such as Abdisho. When the Sasanian Marzban asked Mar Abdisho about his place of origin, he replied that according to his parents, they were originally from Hazza, a village in Assyria. However they were later driven out of Hazza by pagans, and settled in Tamanon, which according to Abdisho was in the land of the Kurds. Tamanon lies just north of the modern Iraq-Turkey border, while Hazza is 12 km southwest of modern Erbil. In another passage in the same document, the region of the Khabur River is also identified as land of the Kurds.[24] According to Al-Muqaddasi and Yaqut al-Hamawi, Tamanon was located on the south-western or southern slopes of Mount Judi and south of Cizre.[25]

Post-classical history

Map of Jibal (mountains of northeastern Mesopotamia), highlighting “Summer and winter resorts of the Kurds”, the Kurdish lands. Redrawn from Ibn Hawqal, 977 CE.

In the tenth and eleventh centuries, several Kurdish principalities emerged in the region: in the north the Shaddadids (951–1174) (in east Transcaucasia between the Kur and Araxes rivers) and the Rawadids (955–1221) (centered on Tabriz and which controlled all of Azarbaijan), in the east the Hasanwayhids (959–1015) (in Zagros between Shahrizor and Khuzistan) and the Annazids (990–1116) (centered in Hulwan) and in the west the Marwanids (990–1096) to the south of Diyarbakır and north of Jazira.[26][27]

Map by Mahmud al-Kashgari (1074), showing Arḍ al-Akrād Arabic for land of Kurds located between Arḍ al-Šām (Syria), and Arḍ al-ʿIrāqayn (Iraq Arabi and Iraq Ajami).

Kurdistan in the Middle Ages was a collection of semi-independent and independent states called emirates. It was nominally under indirect political or religious influence of Khalifs or Shahs. A comprehensive history of these states and their relationship with their neighbors is given in the text of Sharafnama, written by Prince Sharaf al-Din Bitlisi in 1597.[28][29] The emirates included Baban, Soran, Badinan and Garmiyan in the south; Bakran, Bohtan (or Botan) and Badlis in the north, and Mukriyan and Ardalan in the east.

The earliest medieval attestation of the toponym Kurdistan is found in a 12th-century Armenian historical text by Matteos Urhayeci. He described a battle near Amid and Siverek in 1062 as to have taken place in Kurdistan.[30][31] The second record occurs in the prayer from the colophon of an Armenian manuscript of the Gospels, written in 1200.[32][33]

A later use of the term Kurdistan is found in Empire of Trebizond documents in 1336[34] and in Nuzhat-al-Qulub, written by Hamdollah Mostowfi in 1340.[35]

Modern history

1803 Cedid Atlas showing Kurdistan in blue

Kurdish independent kingdoms and autonomous principalities circa 1835

According to Sharafkhan Bitlisi in his Sharafnama, the boundaries of the Kurdish land begin at the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf and stretch on an even line to the end of Malatya and Marash.[36] Evliya Çelebi, who traveled in Kurdistan between 1640 and 1655, mentioned different districts of Kurdistan including Erzurum, Van, Hakkari, Cizre, Imaddiya, Mosul, Shahrizor, Harir, Ardalan, Baghdad, Derne, Derteng, until Basra.[37]

In the 16th century, after prolonged wars, Kurdish-inhabited areas were split between the Safavid and Ottoman empires. A major division of Kurdistan occurred in the aftermath of the Battle of Chaldiran in 1514, and was formalized in the 1639 Treaty of Zuhab.[38] From then until the aftermath of World War I, Kurdish areas (including most of Mesopotamia, eastern Anatolia, and traditionally Kurdish northeastern Syria) were generally under Ottoman rule, apart from the century-long, intermittent Iranian occupation in the early modern to modern period, and the later reconquest and vast expansion by the Iranian military leader Nader Shah in the first half of the 18th century. After the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the Allies contrived to split Kurdistan (as detailed in the ultimately unratified Treaty of Sèvres) among several countries, including Kurdistan, Armenia and others. However, the reconquest of these areas by the forces of Kemal Atatürk (and other pressing issues) caused the Allies to accept the renegotiated Treaty of Lausanne and the borders of the modern Republic of Turkey, leaving the Kurds without a self-ruled region. Other Kurdish areas were assigned to the new British and French mandated states of Iraq and Syria.

Kurdistan (shaded area) as suggested by the Treaty of Sèvres

At the San Francisco Peace Conference of 1945, the Kurdish delegation proposed consideration of territory claimed by the Kurds, which encompassed an area extending from the Mediterranean shores near Adana to the shores of the Persian Gulf near Bushehr, and included the Lur inhabited areas of southern Zagros.[39][40]

At the end of the First Gulf War, the Allies established a safe haven in northern Iraq. Amid the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from three northern provinces, Iraqi Kurdistan emerged in 1992 as an autonomous entity inside Iraq with its own local government and parliament.

A 2010 US report, written before the instability in Syria and Iraq that exists as of 2014, attested that “Kurdistan may exist by 2030”.[41] The weakening of the Iraqi state following the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has also presented an opportunity for independence for Iraqi Kurdistan,[42] augmented by Turkey’s move towards acceptance of such a state although it opposes moves toward Kurdish autonomy in Turkey and Syria.[43]

Turkey

The incorporation into Turkey of the Kurdish-inhabited regions of eastern Anatolia was opposed by many Kurds, and has resulted in a long-running separatist conflict in which thousands of lives have been lost. The region saw several major Kurdish rebellions, including the Koçgiri rebellion of 1920 under the Ottomans, then successive insurrection under the Turkish state – including the 1924 Sheikh Said rebellion, the Republic of Ararat in 1927, and the 1937 Dersim rebellion. All were forcefully put down by the authorities. The region was declared a closed military area from which foreigners were banned between 1925 and 1965.[44][45][46]

In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as “Mountain Turks” until 1991.[47][48][49] The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan”, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government.[50] Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life.[51] Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned.[52] Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, political parties that represented Kurdish interests were banned.[50]

In 1983, the Kurdish provinces were placed under martial law in response to the activities of the militant separatist organization, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).[53][54] A guerrilla war took place through the 1980s and 1990s in which much of the countryside was evacuated, thousands of Kurdish-populated villages were destroyed, and numerous extrajudicial summary executions were carried out by both sides.[55] Many villages were reportedly set on fire or destroyed.[56][57] Food embargoes were placed on Kurdish populated villages and towns.[58][59] More than 20,000 Kurds were killed in the violence and hundreds of thousands more were forced to leave their homes.[60]

Turkey has historically feared that a Kurdish state in Northern Iraq would encourage and support Kurdish separatists in the adjacent Turkish provinces, and have therefore historically strongly opposed Kurdish independence in Iraq. However, following the chaos in Iraq after the US invasion, Turkey has increasingly worked with the de facto autonomous Kurds in Iraq.[61]

Syrian Civil War

Military situation on March 10, 2017:

  Controlled by Syrian Kurds
  Controlled by Iraqi Kurds
  Controlled by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIL, ISIS, IS)

The successful 2014 Northern Iraq offensive by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, with the resultant weakening of the ability of the Iraqi state to project power, also presented a “golden opportunity” for the Kurds to increase their independence and possibly declare an independent Kurdish state.[42] The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, who took more than 80 Turkish persons captive in Mosul during their offensive, is an enemy of Turkey, making Kurdistan useful for Turkey as a buffer state. On 28 June 2014 Hüseyin Çelik, a spokesman for the ruling AK party, made comments to the Financial Times indicating Turkey’s readiness to accept an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq.[43] Various sources have reported that Al-Nusra has issued a fatwā calling for Kurdish women and children in Syria to be killed,[62] and the fighting in Syria has led tens of thousands of refugees to flee to Iraq’s Kurdistan region.[63][64][65] As of 2015, Turkey is actively supporting the Al-Nusra.[66]

People

Main article: Kurds

The Kurds are a people of Indo-European origin. They speak an Iranian language known as Kurdish, and comprise the majority of the population of the region – however, included therein are Arab, Armenian, Assyrian/Aramean/Syriac,[67] Azerbaijani, Jewish, Ossetian, Persian, and Turkish communities. Most inhabitants are Muslim, but adherents to other religions are present as well – including Yarsanism, which is an ethnically Kurdish religion, Yazidis, Alevis, Christians,[68] and in the past, Jews most of whom immigrated to Israel.[69]

Geography

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, Kurdistan covers about 190,000 km², and its chief towns are Diyarbakır (Amed), Bitlis (Bedlîs) and Van (Wan) in Turkey, Erbil (Hewlêr) and Slemani in Iraq, and Kermanshah (Kirmanşan), Sanandaj (Sine), Ilam and Mahabad (Mehabad) in Iran.[70] According to the Encyclopaedia of Islam, Kurdistan covers around 190,000 km² in Turkey, 125,000 km² in Iran, 65,000 km² in Iraq, and 12,000 km² in Syria, with a total area of approximately 392,000 km².[71]

Historic map from 1721, showing borders of Curdistan provinces in Persia.

Iraqi Kurdistan is divided into six governorates, three of which (and parts of others) are under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Iranian Kurdistan encompasses Kurdistan Province and the greater parts of West Azerbaijan, Kermanshah, and Īlām provinces. Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdish: Rojavayê Kurdistanê) is located primarily in northern Syria, and covers the province of Al Hasakah and northern Raqqa Governorate, northern Aleppo Governorate and also Jabal al-Akrad (Mountain of the Kurds) region. The major cities in this region are Qamishli (Kurdish: Qamişlo) and Al Hasakah (Kurdish: Hasakah).

Turkish Kurdistan encompasses a large area of Eastern Anatolia Region and southeastern Anatolia of Turkey and it is home to an estimated 15 to 20 million Kurds.[72]

Subdivisions (Upper and Lower Kurdistan)

In A Dictionary of Scripture Geography (published 1846), John Miles describes Upper and Lower Kurdistan as following:

Modern Curdistan is of much greater extent than the ancient Assyria, and is composed of two parts the Upper and Lower. In the former is the province of Ardelan, the ancient Arropachatis, now nominally a part of Irak Ajami, and belonging to the north west division called Al Jobal. It contains five others namely, Betlis, the ancient Carduchia, lying to the south and south west of the lake Van. East and south east of Betlis is the principality of Julamerick, south west of it is the principality of Amadia. the fourth is Jeezera ul Omar, a city on an island in the Tigris, and corresponding to the ancient Bezabde. the fifth and largest is Kara Djiolan, with a capital of the same name. The pashalics of Kirkook and Solimania also comprise part of Upper Curdistan. Lower Curdistan comprises all the level tract to the east of the Tigris, and the minor ranges immediately bounding the plains and reaching thence to the foot of the great range, which may justly be denominated the Alps of western Asia.[73]

A typical Kurdish village in Hawraman, Kurdistan

The northern, northwestern and northeastern parts of Kurdistan are referred to as upper Kurdistan, and includes the areas from west of Amed to lake Urmia.

The lowlands of southern Kurdistan are called lower Kurdistan. The main cities in this area are Kirkuk and Arbil.

Climate

Much of the region is typified by an extreme continental climate – hot in the summer, bitterly cold in the winter. Despite this, much of the region is fertile and has historically exported grain and livestock. Precipitation varies between 200 and 400 mm a year in the plains, and between 700 and 3,000 mm a year on the high plateau between mountain chains.[71] The climate is dominated by mountains in the zone along the border with Iran and Turkey, with dry summers and cold, snowy winters or wet springs, while to the south, it progressively transitions towards semi-arid and desert zones. The northern mountainous regions along the border with Iran and Turkey receive heavy snowfall.

Forests

Kurdistan is one of the most mountainous regions in the world with a cold climate receiving annual precipitation adequate to sustain temperate forests and shrubs. Mountain chains harbor pastures and forested valleys, totaling approximately 16 million hectares (160,000 km²), including firs and countryside is mostly oaks, conifers, platanus, willow, poplar and olive.[71] Also the Mediterranean region known as west Kurdistan has olive trees. Kurdistan’s climatic conditions are due to the northern mountainous topography producing the steppe and forest vegetation in the area. The region north of the mountainous region on the border with Iran and Turkey features meadow grasses and such wild trees as poplar, willow and oak, hawthorn, Cherry plum, rose hips, mountain apple, pear, mountain ash, and olive. The desert in the south, by contrast, has such species as palm trees and date palm.

Mountains

Canyon in Rawanduz in northern Iraqi Kurdistan

Mountains are important geographical and symbolic features of Kurdish life, as evidenced by the saying “Kurds have no friends but the mountains.”[74] Mountains are regarded as sacred by the Kurds.[75] Included in the region are Mount Judi and Ararat (both prominent in Kurdish folklore), Zagros, Qandil, Shingal, Mount Abdulaziz, Kurd Mountains, Jabal al-Akrad, Shaho, Gabar, Hamrin, and Nisir.

Rivers

Zê river in Zebari region, Iraqi Kurdistan.

The plateaus and mountains of Kurdistan, which are characterized by heavy rain and snow fall, act as a water reservoir for the Near and Middle East, forming the source of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, as well as other numerous smaller rivers, such as the Little Khabur, Khabur, Tharthar, Ceyhan, Araxes, Kura, Sefidrud, Karkha, and Hezil. Among rivers of historical importance to Kurds are the Murat (Arasān) and Buhtān rivers in Turkey; the Peshkhābur, the Little Zab, the Great Zab, and the Diyala in Iraq; and the Jaghatu (Zarrinarud), the Tātā’u (Siminarud), the Zohāb (Zahāb), and the Gāmāsiyāb in Iran.

These rivers, which flow from heights of three to four thousand meters above sea level, are significant both as water sources and for the production of energy. Iraq and Syria dammed many of these rivers and their tributaries, and Turkey has an extensive dam system under construction as part of the GAP (Southeast Anatolia Project); though incomplete, the GAP already supplies a significant proportion of Turkey’s electrical energy needs. Due to the extraordinary archaeological richness of the region, almost any dam impacts historic sites.[76]

Lakes

The city of Piranshahr, center of Mokrian district, northwestern Iran

Kurdistan extends to Lake Urmia in Iran on the east. The region includes Lake Van, the largest body of water in Turkey; the only lake in the Middle East with a larger surface is Lake Urmia – though not nearly as deep as Lake Van, which has a much larger volume. Urmia, Van, as well as Zarivar Lake west of Marivan, and Lake Dukan near the city of Sulaymaniyah, are frequented by tourists.[76]

The city of Batman, eastern Turkey

Petroleum and mineral resources

KRG-controlled parts of Iraqi Kurdistan are estimated to contain around 45 billion barrels (7.2×109 m3) of oil, making it the sixth largest reserve in the world. Extraction of these reserves began in 2007.

Al-Hasakah province, also known as Jazira region, has geopolitical importance of oil and is suitable for agricultural lands.

In November 2011, Exxon challenged the Iraqi central government’s authority with the signing of oil and gas contracts for exploration rights to six parcels of land in Kurdistan, including one contract in the disputed territories, just east of the Kirkuk mega-field.[77] This act caused Baghdad to threaten to revoke Exxon’s contract in its southern fields, most notably the West-Qurna Phase 1 project.[78] Exxon responded by announcing its intention to leave the West-Qurna project.[79]

As of July 2007, the Kurdish government solicited foreign companies to invest in 40 new oil sites, with the hope of increasing regional oil production over the following 5 years by a factor of five, to about 1 million barrels per day (160,000 m3/d).[80] Gas and associated gas reserves are in excess of 2,800 km3 (100×1012 cu ft). Notable companies active in Kurdistan include Exxon, Total, Chevron, Talisman Energy, Genel Energy, Hunt Oil, Gulf Keystone Petroleum, and Marathon Oil.[81]

Other mineral resources that exist in significant quantities in the region include coal, copper, gold, iron, limestone (which is used to produce cement), marble, and zinc. The world’s largest deposit of rock sulfur is located just southwest of Erbil (Hewlêr).[82]

In July 2012, Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government signed an agreement by which Turkey will supply the KRG with refined petroleum products in exchange for crude oil. Crude deliveries are expected to occur on a regular basis.[83]

See also

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdistan

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The Pronk Pops Show 868, April 6, 2017, Story 1: Neoconservatives and Progressive Global Interventionists Elite Banging The War Drums For American Empire Warfare and Welfare State vs. We The People America First Non-interventionists For American Republic Peace and Prosperity Economy — American People Not Readily Accepting Big Lie Media Propaganda on Syria Chemical Gas Air Attack — Another False Flag — Sunni and Shia Have Being Killing Each Other For Hundreds of Years — Stop Being Imperial Umpire For A Religious Sectarian Civil War and Proxy War — National Interest — Oil and Gas — Videos

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Updated

Breaking News

Undeclared War!

President Trump Launches 59 Cruise Missile Attack From Two U.S. Destroyers Against Syrian Air Base 

President Trump Neoconned!

Trump Orders ATTACK on Syria – April 6, 2017 – FULL Press Conference

RAW USA launches cruise missile strike on Syria Regime Breaking News April 6 2017 

RAW USA launches cruise missiles strike on Syria RUSSIA IRAN backed ASSAD Regime after chemical Warfare weapons attack Breaking News April 6 2017

Neo-CONNED speech by Ron Paul

U.S. Launches Missiles at Syrian Base After Chemical Weapons Attack

The United States launched dozens of cruise missiles Thursday night at a Syrian airfield in response to what it believes was Syria’s use of banned chemical weapons that killed at least 100 people, U.S. military officials told NBC News.

Two U.S. warships in the Mediterranean Sea fired 59 Tomahawk missiles intended for a single target — Ash Sha’irat in Homs province in western Syria, the officials said. That’s the airfield from which the United States believes the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad fired the banned weapons.

There was no immediate word on casualties. U.S. officials told NBC News that people were not targeted and that aircraft and infrastructure at the site were hit, including the runway and gas fuel pumps.y

Trump Speaks on Missile Strike in Syria 2:48

“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” President Donald Trump said in remarks from Mar-a-Lago, his family compound in Palm Beach, Florida.

“It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” said Trump, who called on other countries to end the bloodshed in Syria.

Related: Trump: Why I Launched a Missile Attack on Syria

Trump is in Florida for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinpeng. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster traveled to Florida with him.

Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster traveled to Florida with Trump. In Washington, Vice President Mike Pence returned to the White House after having gone home for dinner Thursday evening.

Syrian television characterized the missile strike “as American aggression” Friday morning. But Ahrar Al Sham, the largest Syrian armed rebel group, told NBC News it “welcomes any U.S. intervention through surgical strikes that would deter the Assad regime capabilities to kill civilians and shorten the suffering of our people.”

Syria Crisis: Trump Given Military Options After Chemical Attack 2:25

Tillerson and Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, have bluntly blamed Syria for the chemical weapons attack, whose victims included at least 25 children.

Tillerson told reporters on Thursday that “there is no doubt in our minds” that the Syrian regime was responsible for the attack. And in a combative speech at the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday, Haley warned: “When the United Nations consistently fails in its duty to act collectively, there are times in the life of states that we are compelled to take our own action.”y

Tillerson on Assad Regime: He Has ‘No Role’ to Govern Syria0:58

NBC News reported Thursday that Defense Secretary James Mattis briefed President Donald Trump on U.S. military options, which included carrying out targeted strikes against those responsible for Tuesday’s attack.

There was no immediate reaction from Russia, which Tillerson and Haley have accused of turning a blind eye to Syria’s transgressions.

“Russia cannot escape responsibility for this,” Haley said at the United Nations. “They chose to close their eyes to the barbarity. They defied the conscience of the world.”

Thursday, Tillerson urged Russia to “consider carefully their continued support of the Assad regime.”

Story 1: Progressive Global Interventionists Elite Banging The War Drums For American Empire Warfare and Welfare State vs. We The People America First Non-interventionists For American Republic Peace and Prosperity Economy — American People Not Readily Accepting Big Lie Media Propaganda on Syria Chemical Gas Air Attack — Another False Flag — Sunni and Shia Have Being Killing Each Other For Hundreds of Years — Stop Being Imperial Umpire For A Religious Sectarian Civil War — National Interest — Oil and Gas — Videos

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President Trump may be considering military action in Syria

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Syria Gas Attack: Assad’s Doing…Or False Flag?

Streamed live on Apr 5, 2017

Just days after the US Administration changed course on Syrian President Assad, saying he could stay, an alleged chemical weapon attack that killed dozens of civilians has been blamed on the Syrian government. Did Assad sign his own death warrant with such an attack…or does some other entity benefit?

[youytube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LULzvg1gA5U]

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Syria Gas Attack: Assad’s Doing…Or False Flag?

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War in Syria: Russia and West clash over Idlib gas attack (part 1)

Published on Apr 5, 2017

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On Tuesday in Idlib, a province in the Northwest of Syria, at least seventy people were killed, 20 of them children, in what appears to have been a chemical weapon attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. Initial reports point to the nerve agent Sarin gas. Our panel of experts asks who was behind this attack. What explanations are being given, and do they stack up?
Click here for PART TWO.

Another suspected chemical weapons attack is latest chapter in brutal Syrian conflict

‘Assad Has Unleashed Horror in Syria’: World Reacts to Alleged Chemical Attack

Syria Gas Attack: Russia says chemical depot held by rebels bombed

Turkish President Erdogan calls chemical attack in Syria “inhuman and unacceptable”

“The Desperate BBC Propaganda Machine Blames Assad For Chemical Attack Before Any Investigation.”

Russia denies involvement in reported Syrian chemical attack

Children caught in Syria ‘chemical attack’- BBC News

Published on Apr 5, 2017

The UN Security Council has held an emergency session to discuss the suspected gas attack on a rebel-held town in Syria. The attack is believed to have killed more than 70 people, including children. The Syrian government has denied responsibility, while its ally Russia says the gas came from rebel weapons on the ground. But those claims have been widely rejected by western governments, as our Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet reports.

Syria conflict: ‘Chemical attack’ in Idlib kills 58 – BBC News

Published on Apr 4, 2017

At least 58 people have been killed and dozens wounded in a suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held town in north-western Syria, a monitoring group says. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that strikes on Khan Sheikhoun by Syrian government or Russian jets had caused many people to choke. Later, aircraft fired rockets at local clinics treating some of the survivors, medics and opposition activists said. The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons.

UN Ambassador Nikki Haley Condemns Russia, Iran After Chemical Attack In Syria | NBC News

UK: Chemical Attack Bears All Hallmarks of Assad

UNSC holds emergency meeting on Syria chemical attack

WATCH LIVE: U.N. Security Council Holds Emergency Meeting On Syria Chemical Attack | TIME

The TRUTH About the Syria Gas Attack

Hillary in Rat Line for Syria False Flag Sarin Gas Attack says Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist

Sy Hersh Reveals Potential Turkish Role in Syria Chemical Strike That Almost Sparked U.S. Bombing

Global Empire – The World According to Seymour Hersh [Part Two]

Published on Aug 10, 2016

Tariq Ali talks to investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, about his revelations concerning the chemical attack at Ghouta, Syria in August 2013.

Seymour Hersh Exposes Erdogan’s Chemical Adventure in Syria

Published on Apr 8, 2014

The US author reveals secret US reports warning that Al-Nusrah terrorist group affiliated with Qatar and Turkey, posses a chemical weapons cell. Worst threat since 9/11.

Global Empire – The World According to Seymour Hersh [Part One]

Published on Aug 10, 2016

Tariq Ali talks to investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, about the assassination of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011 and describes what the Americans and Pakistanis knew about his whereabouts.

Global Empire – Syria After Trump

Seymour Hersh: Obama “Cherry-Picked” Intelligence on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike

Published on Dec 9, 2013

Writing in the London Review of Books, Hersh argues that the Obama administration “cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.” The administration failed to disclose it knew Syrian rebels in the al-Nusra Front had the ability to produce chemical weapons. Evidence obtained in the days after the attack was also allegedly distorted to make it appear it was gathered in real time.

Whose sarin? Seymour M. Hersh
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded — without assessing responsibility — had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order — a planning document that precedes a ground invasion — citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

In his nationally televised speech about Syria on 10 September, Obama laid the blame for the nerve gas attack on the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta firmly on Assad’s government, and made it clear he was prepared to back up his earlier public warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line’: ‘Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people,’ he said. ‘We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.’ Obama was going to war to back up a public threat, but he was doing so without knowing for sure who did what in the early morning of 21 August.

He cited a list of what appeared to be hard-won evidence of Assad’s culpability: ‘In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighbourhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.’ Obama’s certainty was echoed at the time by Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, who told the New York Times: ‘No one with whom I’ve spoken doubts the intelligence’ directly linking Assad and his regime to the sarin attacks.

But in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information — in terms of its timing and sequence — to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analyzed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” — Obama — “when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”‘…()

Obama Was Lying!

President Obama’s Syria Address [FULL SPEECH]

Seymour Hersh’s Latest Bombshell: U.S. Military Undermined Obama on Syria with Tacit Help to Assad

Published on Dec 22, 2015

A new report by the Pulitzer-winning veteran journalist Seymour Hersh says the Joints Chiefs of Staff has indirectly supported Bashar al-Assad in an effort to help him defeat jihadist groups. Hersh reports the Joint Chiefs sent intelligence via Russia, Germany and Israel on the understanding it would be transmitted to help Assad push back Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State. Hersh also claims the military even undermined a U.S. effort to arm Syrian rebels in a bid to prove it was serious about helping Assad fight their common enemies. Hersh says the Joints Chiefs’ maneuvering was rooted in several concerns, including the U.S. arming of unvetted Syrian rebels with jihadist ties, a belief the administration was overly focused on confronting Assad’s ally in Moscow, and anger the White House was unwilling to challenge Turkey and Saudi Arabia over their support of extremist groups in Syria. Hersh joins us to detail his claims and respond to his critics.

US, Russia Announce Syria Chemical Weapons Deal

U.S. Ship Begins Neutralizing Syrian Chemical Weapons

MV Cape Ray Storage Area Tour

MV Cape Ray Disposal Practice

MV Cape Ray FDHS

Published on Jul 2, 2014

As part of the U.N. Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Joint Mission to eliminate chemical materials from the Syrian Arab Republic, the U.S. will destroy approximately 700 metric tons of chemicals aboard the MV Cape Ray. Danish and Norwegian vessels will transport the chemicals to a yet-unnamed Italian port for transfer to the MV Cape Ray. The MV Cape Ray, part of the U.S. Maritime Administration’s Ready Reserve Fleet, has been retrofitted with two field-deployable hydrolysis systems designed to neutralize the dangerous chemicals before disposal at a commercial facility.

MV Cape Ray’s Bridge

MV Cape Ray Command Post Tour

MV Cape Ray Laboratory Tour

False flag

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
“False colors” redirects here. For the imaging technique, see False-color.

This US Douglas A-26 C Invader was painted in fake Cuban Air Force colors for the military invasion of Cuba undertaken by the CIA-sponsored paramilitary group Brigade 2506 in April 1961.

The contemporary term false flag describes covert operations that are designed to deceive in such a way that activities appear as though they are being carried out by entities, groups, or nations other than those who actually planned and executed them.[1]

Historically, the term “false flag” has its origins in naval warfare where the use of a flag other than the belligerent’s true battle flag before (but not while) engaging the enemy has long been accepted as a permissible ruse de guerre; by contrast, flying a false flag while engaging the enemy constitutes perfidy.[1]

Operations carried out during peace-time by civilian organizations, as well as covert government agencies, can (by extension) also be called false flag operations if they seek to hide the real organization behind an operation.[citation needed]

Use in warfare

In land warfare such operations are generally deemed acceptable in certain circumstances, such as to deceive enemies providing that the deception is not perfidious and all such deceptions are discarded before opening fire upon the enemy. Similarly in naval warfare such a deception is considered permissible provided the false flag is lowered and the true flag raised before engaging in battle:[2]auxiliary cruisers operated in such a fashion in both World Wars, as did Q-ships, while merchant vessels were encouraged to use false flags for protection.

Such masquerades promoted confusion not just of the enemy but of historical accounts: in 1914 the Battle of Trindade was fought between the British auxiliary cruiser RMS Carmania and the German auxiliary cruiser SMS Cap Trafalgar which had been altered to look like Carmania. (Contrary to some possibly mendacious accounts, the RMS Carmania had not been altered to resemble the Cap Trafalgar.)

Another notable example was the World War II German commerce raider Kormoran which surprised and sank the Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney in 1941 while disguised as a Dutch merchant ship, causing the greatest recorded loss of life on an Australian warship. While Kormoran was fatally damaged in the engagement and its crew captured the outcome represented a considerable psychological victory for the Germans.[3]

Other examples from WWII included a Kriegsmarineensign in the St Nazaire Raid and captured a German code book: the old destroyer Campbeltown, which the British planned to sacrifice in the operation, was provided with cosmetic modifications that involved cutting the ship’s funnels and chamfering the edges to resemble a German Type 23torpedo boat.

By this ruse the British were able to get within two miles (3 km) of the harbour before the defences responded, where the explosive-rigged Campbeltown and commandos successfully disabled or destroyed the key dock structures of the port.[4][5]

Air warfare

In December 1922–February 1923, Rules concerning the Control of Wireless Telegraphy in Time of War and Air Warfare, drafted by a commission of jurists at the Hague regulates:[6]

Art. 3. A military aircraft must carry an exterior mark indicating its nationality and its military character.
Art. 19. The use of false exterior marks is forbidden.

This draft was never adopted as a legally binding treaty, but the ICRC states in its introduction on the draft that ‘To a great extent, [the draft rules] correspond to the customary rules and general principles underlying treaties on the law of war on land and at sea’,[7] and as such these two non–controversial articles were already part of customary law.[8]

Land warfare

In land warfare, the use of a false flag is similar to that of naval warfare: the trial of Otto Skorzeny, who planned and commanded Operation Greif, by a U.S. military tribunal at the Dachau Trials included a finding that Skorzeny was not guilty of a crime by ordering his men into action in American uniforms. He had relayed to his men the warning of German legal experts: that if they fought in American uniforms, they would be breaking the laws of war; however, they probably were not doing so simply by wearing the American uniforms. During the trial, a number of arguments were advanced to substantiate this position and the German and U.S. military seem to have been in agreement.

In the transcript of the trial,[9] it is mentioned that Paragraph 43 of the Field Manual published by the War Department, United States Army, on 1 October 1940, under the entry Rules of Land Warfare states “National flags, insignias and uniforms as a ruse – in practice it has been authorized to make use of these as a ruse. The foregoing rule (Article 23 of the Annex of the IVth Hague Convention), does not prohibit such use, but does prohibit their improper use. It is certainly forbidden to make use of them during a combat. Before opening fire upon the enemy, they must be discarded’.”

The American Soldiers’ Handbook was also quoted by Defense Counsel: “The use of the enemy flag, insignia, and uniform is permitted under some circumstances. They are not to be used during actual fighting, and if used in order to approach the enemy without drawing fire, should be thrown away or removed as soon as fighting begins.” Subsequently, the outcome of the trial has been codified in the 1977 Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (Protocol I):

Article 37. – Prohibition of perfidy

1. It is prohibited to kill, injure, or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy. The following acts are examples of perfidy:
(a) The feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender;
(b) The feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness;
(c) The feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and
(d) The feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.
2. Ruses of war are not prohibited. Such ruses are acts which are intended to mislead an adversary or to induce him to act recklessly but which infringe no rule of international law applicable in armed conflict and which are not perfidious because they do not invite the confidence of an adversary with respect to protection under that law. The following are examples of such ruses: the use of camouflage, decoys, mock operations and disinformation.

Article 38. – Recognized emblems

1. It is prohibited to make improper use of the distinctive emblem of the Red Cross, Red Crescent or Red Lion and Sun or of other emblems, signs or signals provided for by the Conventions or by this Protocol. It is also prohibited to misuse deliberately in an armed conflict other internationally recognized protective emblems, signs or signals, including the flag of truce, and the protective emblem of cultural property.
2. It is prohibited to make use of the distinctive emblem of the United Nations, except as authorized by that Organization.

Article 39. – Emblems of nationality

1. It is prohibited to make use in an armed conflict of the flags or military emblems, insignia or uniforms of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.
2. It is prohibited to make use of the flags or military emblems, insignia or uniforms of adverse Parties while engaging in attacks or in order to shield, favour, protect or impede military operations.
3. Nothing in this Article or in Article 37, paragraph 1 ( d ), shall affect the existing generally recognized rules of international law applicable to espionage or to the use of flags in the conduct of armed conflict at sea.

Cyber warfare

A false flag in the cyber domain is slightly different and easier to perpetrate than in other physical theaters of war. Cyber false flags refer to tactics used in covert cyber attacks by a perpetrator to deceive or misguide attribution attempts including the attacker’s origin, identity, movement, and/or code/exploitation. This misdirection tactic can cause misattribution (permitting response and/or counterattack as a condiciosine qua non under international law) or misperception which can lead to retaliation against the wrong adversary.

Cyber false flags can exist in the cyber domain when:

  1. Weaponized cyber exploits use recycled code/variants from previous attacks;
  2. Exploits are developed to mimic the scope and complexity of other malware;
  3. Exploits are procured rather than developed;
  4. Exploits are executed from new/unknown operator command servers;
  5. Malware calls out to or connects to known operator command servers;
  6. The action or attack is outsourced;
  7. The compromise is socially engineered to misguide investigations towards other operators;
  8. The audit trail or lack thereof conceals actual intent or actions with other exploits designed to mislead investigators.

As pretexts for war

Russo-Swedish War

In 1788, the head tailor at the Royal Swedish Opera received an order to sew a number of Russian military uniforms. These were then used by the Swedes to stage an attack on Puumala, a Swedish outpost on the Russo-Swedish border, on 27 June 1788. This caused an outrage in Stockholm and impressed the Riksdag of the Estates, the Swedish national assembly, who until then had refused to agree to an offensive war against Russia. The Puumala incident allowed King Gustav III of Sweden, who lacked the constitutional authority to initiate unprovoked hostilities without the Estates’ consent, to launch the Russo-Swedish War (1788–1790).[10]

Second Sino-Japanese War

Japanese experts inspect the scene of the ‘railway sabotage’ on South Manchurian Railway

In September 1931, Japanese officers fabricated a pretext for invading Manchuria by blowing up a section of railway. Though the explosion was too weak to disrupt operations on the rail line, the Japanese nevertheless used this Mukden incident to seize Manchuria and create a puppet government for what they termed the “independent” state of Manchukuo.[11]

World War II

Gleiwitz incident

Alfred Naujocks

The Gleiwitz incident in 1939 involved Reinhard Heydrich fabricating evidence of a Polish attack against Germany to mobilize German public opinion for war and to justify the war with Poland. Alfred Naujocks was a key organiser of the operation under orders from Heydrich. It led to the deaths of Nazi concentration camp victims who were dressed as German soldiers and then shot by the Gestapo to make it seem that they had been shot by Polish soldiers. This, along with other false flag operations in Operation Himmler, would be used to mobilize support from the German population for the start of World War II in Europe.[12]

The operation failed to convince international public opinion of the German claims, and both Britain and France—Poland’s allies—declared war two days after Germany invaded Poland.[13]

Winter War

On November 26, 1939, the Soviet armyshelled Mainila, a Russian village near the Finnish border. Soviet authorities blamed Finland for the attack and used the incident as a pretext to invade Finland, starting the Winter War, four days later.[14]

Cuban Revolution

Operation Northwoods

Operation Northwoods memorandum (13 March 1962)[15]

The proposed, but never executed, 1962 Operation Northwoods plot by the U.S. Department of Defense for a war with Cuba involved scenarios such as fabricating the hijacking or shooting down of passenger and military planes, sinking a U.S. ship in the vicinity of Cuba, burning crops, sinking a boat filled with Cuban refugees, attacks by alleged Cuban infiltrators inside the United States, and harassment of U.S. aircraft and shipping and the destruction of aerial drones by aircraft disguised as Cuban MiGs.[16] These actions would be blamed on Cuba, and would be a pretext for an invasion of Cuba and the overthrow of Fidel Castro‘s communist government. It was authored by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but then rejected by President John F. Kennedy. The surprise discovery of the documents relating to Operation Northwoods was a result of the comprehensive search for records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by the Assassination Records Review Board in the mid-1990s.[17] Information about Operation Northwoods was later publicized by James Bamford.[18]

As a tactic to undermine political opponents

Reichstag fire

Main article: Reichstag fire

The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The fire started in the Session Chamber,[19] and, by the time the police and firemen arrived, the main Chamber of Deputies was engulfed in flames. Police searched the building and found Marinus van der Lubbe, a young Dutchcouncil communist and unemployed bricklayer, who had recently arrived in Germany to carry out political activities.[citation needed]

The fire was used as evidence by the Nazis that the Communists were beginning a plot against the German government. Van der Lubbe and four Communist leaders were subsequently arrested. Adolf Hitler, who was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany four weeks before, on 30 January, urged President Paul von Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree to counter the “ruthless confrontation of the Communist Party of Germany“.[20] With civil liberties suspended, the government instituted mass arrests of Communists, including all of the Communist parliamentary delegates. With their bitter rival Communists gone and their seats empty, the National Socialist German Workers Party went from being a plurality party to the majority; subsequent elections confirmed this position and thus allowed Hitler to consolidate his power.[citation needed]

Historians disagree as to whether Van der Lubbe acted alone, as he said, to protest the condition of the German working class, or whether the arson was planned and ordered by the Nazis, then dominant in the government themselves, as a false flag operation.[21][22]

Project TP-Ajax

On 4 April 1953, the CIA was ordered to undermine the government of Iran over a four-month period, as a precursor to overthrowing Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh.[23] One tactic used to undermine Mosaddegh was to carry out false flag attacks “on mosques and key public figures”, to be blamed on Iranian communists loyal to the government.[23]

The CIA project was code-named TP-Ajax, and the tactic of a “directed campaign of bombings by Iranians posing as members of the Communist party”,[24] involved the bombing of “at least” one well known Muslim’s house by CIA agents posing as Communists.[24] The CIA determined that the tactic of false flag attacks added to the “positive outcome” of Project TPAJAX.[23]

However, as “the C.I.A. burned nearly all of its files on its role in the 1953 coup in Iran”, the true extent of the tactic has been difficult for historians to discern.[25]

Pseudo-operations

Pseudo-operations are those in which forces of one power disguise themselves as enemy forces. For example, a state power may disguise teams of operatives as insurgents and, with the aid of defectors, infiltrate insurgent areas.[26] The aim of such pseudo-operations may be to gather short or long-term intelligence or to engage in active operations, in particularassassinations of important enemies. However, they usually involve both, as the risks of exposure rapidly increase with time and intelligence gathering eventually leads to violent confrontation. Pseudo-operations may be directed by military or police forces, or both. Police forces are usually best suited to intelligence tasks; however, military provide the structure needed to back up such pseudo-ops with military response forces. According to US military expert Lawrence Cline (2005), “the teams typically have been controlled by police services, but this largely was due to the weaknesses in the respective military intelligence systems.”[citation needed]

Charlemagne Péralte of Haiti was assassinated in 1919, after checkpoints were passed by military disguised as guerrilla fighters.

The State Political Directorate (OGPU) of the Soviet Union set up such an operation from 1921 to 1926. During Operation Trust, they used loose networks of White Army supporters and extended them, creating the pseudo-“Monarchist Union of Central Russia” (MUCR) in order to help the OGPU identify real monarchists and anti-Bolsheviks.[citation needed]

An example of a successful assassination was United States MarineSergeantHerman H. Hanneken leading a patrol of his HaitianGendarmerie disguised as enemy guerrillas in 1919. The Patrol successfully passed several enemy checkpoints in order to assassinate the guerilla leader Charlemagne Péralte near Grande-Rivière-du-Nord. Hanneken was awarded the Medal of Honor and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant for his deed.[citation needed]

During the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s, captured Mau Mau members who switched sides and specially trained British troops initiated the pseudo-gang concept to successfully counter Mau Mau. In 1960 Frank Kitson, (who was later involved in the Northern Irish conflict and is now a retired British General), published Gangs and Counter-gangs, an account of his experiences with the technique in Kenya; information included how to counter gangs and measures of deception, including the use of defectors, which brought the issue a wider audience.[citation needed]

Another example of combined police and military oversight of pseudo-operations include the Selous Scouts in the former country Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), governed by white minority rule until 1980. The Selous Scouts were formed at the beginning of Operation Hurricane, in November 1973, by Major (later Lieutenant Colonel) Ronald Reid-Daly. As with all Special Forces in Rhodesia, by 1977 they were controlled by COMOPS (Commander, Combined Operations) Commander Lieutenant General Peter Walls. The Selous Scouts were originally composed of 120 members, with all officers being white and the highest rank initially available for black soldiers being colour sergeant. They succeeded in turning approximately 800 insurgents who were then paid by Special Branch, ultimately reaching the number of 1,500 members. Engaging mainly in long-range reconnaissance and surveillance missions, they increasingly turned to offensive actions, including the attempted assassination of Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army leader Joshua Nkomo in Zambia. This mission was finally aborted by the Selous Scouts, and attempted again, unsuccessfully, by the Rhodesian Special Air Service.[27]

Some offensive operations attracted international condemnation, in particular the Selous Scouts’ raid on a Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) camp at Nyadzonya Pungwe, Mozambique in August 1976. ZANLA was then led by Josiah Tongogara. Using Rhodesian trucks and armored cars disguised as Mozambique military vehicles, 84 scouts killed 1,284 people in the camp-the camp was registered as a refugee camp by the United Nations (UN). Even according to Reid-Daly, most of those killed were unarmed guerrillas standing in formation for a parade. The camp hospital was also set ablaze by the rounds fired by the Scouts, killing all patients.[28] According to David Martin and Phyllis Johnson, who visited the camp shortly before the raid, it was only a refugee camp that did not host any guerrillas. It was staged for UN approval.[29]

According to a 1978 study by the Directorate of Military Intelligence, 68% of all insurgent deaths inside Rhodesia could be attributed to the Selous Scouts, who were disbanded in 1980.[30]

If the action is a police action, then these tactics would fall within the laws of the state initiating the pseudo, but if such actions are taken in a civil war or during a belligerent military occupation then those who participate in such actions would not be privileged belligerents. The principle of plausible deniability is usually applied for pseudo-teams. (See the above section Laws of war). Some false flag operations have been described by Lawrence E. Cline, a retired US Army intelligence officer, as pseudo-operations, or “the use of organized teams which are disguised as guerrilla groups for long- or short-term penetration of insurgent-controlled areas.”[citation needed]

Pseudo Operations should be distinguished, notes Cline, from the more common police or intelligence infiltration of guerrilla or criminal organizations. In the latter case, infiltration is normally done by individuals. Pseudo teams, on the other hand, are formed as needed from organized units, usually military or paramilitary. The use of pseudo teams has been a hallmark of a number of foreign counterinsurgency campaigns.”[26]

Similar false flag tactics were also employed during the Algerian civil war, starting in the middle of 1994. Death squads composed of Département du Renseignement et de la Sécurité (DRS) security forces disguised themselves as Islamist terrorists and committed false flag terror attacks. Such groups included the Organisation of Young Free Algerians (OJAL) or the Secret Organisation for the Safeguard of the Algerian Republic (OSSRA)[31] According to Roger Faligot and Pascal Kropp (1999), the OJAL was reminiscent of “the Organization of the French Algerian Resistance (ORAF), a group of counter-terrorists created in December 1956 by the Direction de la surveillance du territoire (Territorial Surveillance Directorate, or DST) whose mission was to carry out terrorist attacks with the aim of quashing any hopes of political compromise”.[32]

Espionage

Main article: False flag penetrator

In espionage the term “false flag” describes the recruiting of agents by operatives posing as representatives of a cause the prospective agents are sympathetic to, or even the agents’ own government. For example, during the Cold War, several female West German civil servants were tricked into stealing classified documents by agents of the East GermanStasi intelligence service, pretending to be members of West German peace advocacy groups (the Stasi agents were also described as “Romeos,” indicating that they also used their sex appeal to manipulate their targets, making this operation a combination of the false flag and “honey trap” techniques).[33]

The technique can also be used to expose enemy agents in one’s own service, by having someone approach the suspect and pose as an agent of the enemy. Earl Edwin Pitts, a 13-year veteran of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and an attorney, was caught when he was approached by FBI agents posing as Russian agents.[citation needed]

British intelligence officials in World War II allowed double agents to fire-bomb a power station and a food dump in the UK to protect their cover, according to declassified documents. The documents stated the agents took precautions to ensure they did not cause serious damage. One of the documents released also stated: “It should be recognised that friends as well as enemies must be completely deceived.”[34]

Civilian usage

While false flag operations originate in warfare and government, they also can occur in civilian settings among certain factions, such as businesses, special interest groups, religions, political ideologies and campaigns for office.[citation needed]

Businesses

In business and marketing, similar operations are being employed in some public relations campaigns (see Astroturfing). Telemarketing firms practice false flag type behavior when they pretend to be a market research firm (referred to as “sugging“). In some rare cases, members of an unsuccessful business will destroy some of their own property to conceal an unrelated crime (e.g., safety violations, embezzlement) but make it appear as though the destruction was done by a rival company.[citation needed]

Political campaigning

Political campaigning has a long history of this tactic in various forms, including in person, print media and electronically in recent years. This can involve when supporters of one candidate pose as supporters of another, or act as “straw men” for their preferred candidate to debate against. This can happen with or without the candidate’s knowledge. The Canuck letter is an example of one candidate creating a false document and attributing it as coming from another candidate in order to discredit that candidate.[citation needed]

In the final days of Florida’s 1994 gubernatorial campaign, Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles ran a false flag operation that paid for tens of thousands of calls to elderly voters using false organization names. The calls purported to be from Republican groups and told voters that Jeb Bush was against Social Security and seniors. Chiles denied his campaign was behind the calls. After winning re-election and facing an investigation, Chiles admitted the truth in November 1995.[35]

In 2006, individuals practicing false flag behavior were discovered and “outed” in New Hampshire[36][37] and New Jersey[38] after blog comments claiming to be from supporters of a political candidate were traced to the IP address of paid staffers for that candidate’s opponent.

On 19 February 2011, Indiana Deputy Prosecutor Carlos Lam sent a private email to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker suggesting that he run a “‘false flag’ operation” to counter the protests against Walker’s proposed restrictions on public employees’ collective bargaining rights:

If you could employ an associate who pretends to be sympathetic to the unions’ cause to physically attack you (or even use a firearm against you), you could discredit the unions … Employing a false flag operation would assist in undercutting any support that the media may be creating in favor of the unions.[39][40]

The press had acquired a court order to access all of Walker’s emails and Lam’s email was exposed. At first, Lam vehemently denied it, but eventually admitted it and resigned.[40]

Ideological

A bomb threat forged by Scientology operatives.

Proponents of political or religious ideologies will sometimes use false flag tactics. This can be done to discredit or implicate rival groups, create the appearance of enemies when none exist, or create the illusion of organized and directed persecution. This can be used to gain attention and sympathy from outsiders, in particular the media, or to convince others within the group that their beliefs are under attack and in need of protection.

In retaliation for writing The Scandal of Scientology, some members of the Church of Scientology stole stationery from author Paulette Cooper‘s home and then used that stationery to forge bomb threats and have them mailed to a Scientology office. The Guardian’s Office also had a plan for further operations to discredit Cooper known as Operation Freakout, but several Scientology operatives were arrested in a separate investigation and the plan was exposed.[41]

See also

Concepts

Examples

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_flag

42 FALSE-FLAG ATTACKS OFFICIALY ADMITTED TO

Mirrored from Washington’s Blog (due to their server being swamped)

Presidents, Prime Ministers, Congressmen, Generals, Spooks, Soldiers and Police ADMIT to False Flag Terror

In the following instances, officials in the government which carried out the attack (or seriously proposed an attack) admit to it, either orally, in writing, or through photographs or videos:

(1) Japanese troops set off a small explosion on a train track in 1931, and falsely blamed it on China in order to justify an invasion of Manchuria. This is known as the “Mukden Incident” or the “Manchurian Incident”. The Tokyo International Military Tribunal found: “Several of the participators in the plan, including Hashimoto [a high-ranking Japanese army officer], have on various occasions admitted their part in the plot and have stated that the object of the ‘Incident’ was to afford an excuse for the occupation of Manchuria by the Kwantung Army ….” And see this.

(2) A major with the Nazi SS admitted at the Nuremberg trials that – under orders from the chief of the Gestapo – he and some other Nazi operatives faked attacks on their own people and resources which they blamed on the Poles, to justify the invasion of Poland.

(3) Nazi general Franz Halder also testified at the Nuremberg trials that Nazi leader Hermann Goering admitted to setting fire to the German parliament building in 1933, and then falsely blaming the communists for the arson.

(4) Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev admitted in writing that the Soviet Union’s Red Army shelled the Russian village of Mainila in 1939 – while blaming the attack on Finland – as a basis for launching the “Winter War” against Finland. Russian president Boris Yeltsin agreed that Russia had been the aggressor in the Winter War.

(5) The Russian Parliament, current Russian president Putin and former Soviet leader Gorbachev all admit that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin ordered his secret police to execute 22,000 Polish army officers and civilians in 1940, and then falsely blamed it on the Nazis.

(6) The British government admits that – between 1946 and 1948 – it bombed 5 ships carrying Jews attempting to flee the Holocaust to seek safety in Palestine, set up a fake group called “Defenders of Arab Palestine”, and then had the psuedo-group falsely claim responsibility for the bombings (and see this, this and this).

(7) Israel admits that in 1954, an Israeli terrorist cell operating in Egypt planted bombs in several buildings, including U.S. diplomatic facilities, then left behind “evidence” implicating the Arabs as the culprits (one of the bombs detonated prematurely, allowing the Egyptians to identify the bombers, and several of the Israelis later confessed) (and see this and this).

(8) The CIA admits that it hired Iranians in the 1950’s to pose as Communists and stage bombings in Iran in order to turn the country against its democratically-elected prime minister.

(9) The Turkish Prime Minister admitted that the Turkish government carried out the 1955 bombing on a Turkish consulate in Greece – also damaging the nearby birthplace of the founder of modern Turkey – and blamed it on Greece, for the purpose of inciting and justifying anti-Greek violence.

(10) The British Prime Minister admitted to his defense secretary that he and American president Dwight Eisenhower approved a plan in 1957 to carry out attacks in Syria and blame it on the Syrian government as a way to effect regime change.

(11) The former Italian Prime Minister, an Italian judge, and the former head of Italian counterintelligence admit that NATO, with the help of the Pentagon and CIA, carried out terror bombings in Italy and other European countries in the 1950s and blamed the communists, in order to rally people’s support for their governments in Europe in their fight against communism. As one participant in this formerly-secret program stated: “You had to attack civilians, people, women, children, innocent people, unknown people far removed from any political game. The reason was quite simple. They were supposed to force these people, the Italian public, to turn to the state to ask for greater security” (and see this) (Italy and other European countries subject to the terror campaign had joined NATO before the bombings occurred). And watch this BBC special. They also allegedly carried out terror attacks in France, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK, and other countries.

False flag attacks carried out pursuant to this program include – by way of example only:

(12) In 1960, American Senator George Smathers suggested that the U.S. launch “a false attack made on Guantanamo Bay which would give us the excuse of actually fomenting a fight which would then give us the excuse to go in and [overthrow Castro]”.

(13) Official State Department documents show that, in 1961, the head of the Joint Chiefs and other high-level officials discussed blowing up a consulate in the Dominican Republic in order to justify an invasion of that country. The plans were not carried out, but they were all discussed as serious proposals.

(14) As admitted by the U.S. government, recently declassified documents show that in 1962, the American Joint Chiefs of Staff signed off on a plan to blow up AMERICAN airplanes (using an elaborate plan involving the switching of airplanes), and also to commit terrorist acts on American soil, and then to blame it on the Cubans in order to justify an invasion of Cuba. See the following ABC news report; the official documents; and watch this interview with the former Washington Investigative Producer for ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.

(15) In 1963, the U.S. Department of Defense wrote a paper promoting attacks on nations within the Organization of American States – such as Trinidad-Tobago or Jamaica – and then falsely blaming them on Cuba.

(16) The U.S. Department of Defense even suggested covertly paying a person in the Castro government to attack the United States: “The only area remaining for consideration then would be to bribe one of Castro’s subordinate commanders to initiate an attack on Guantanamo.”

(17) The NSA admits that it lied about what really happened in the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 … manipulating data to make it look like North Vietnamese boats fired on a U.S. ship so as to create a false justification for the Vietnam war.

(18) A U.S. Congressional committee admitted that – as part of its “Cointelpro” campaign – the FBI had used many provocateurs in the 1950s through 1970s to carry out violent acts and falsely blame them on political activists.

(19) A top Turkish general admitted that Turkish forces burned down a mosque on Cyprus in the 1970s and blamed it on their enemy. He explained: “In Special War, certain acts of sabotage are staged and blamed on the enemy to increase public resistance. We did this on Cyprus; we even burnt down a mosque.” In response to the surprised correspondent’s incredulous look the general said, “I am giving an example”.

(20) A declassified 1973 CIA document reveals a program to train foreign police and troops on how to make booby traps, pretending that they were training them on how to investigate terrorist acts:

The Agency maintains liaison in varying degrees with foreign police/security organizations through its field stations ….

[CIA provides training sessions as follows:]

a. Providing trainees with basic knowledge in the uses of commercial and military demolitions and incendiaries as they may be applied in terrorism and industrial sabotage operations.

b. Introducing the trainees to commercially available materials and home laboratory techniques, likely to he used in the manufacture of explosives and incendiaries by terrorists or saboteurs.

c. Familiarizing the trainees with the concept of target analysis and operational planning that a saboteur or terrorist must employ.

d. Introducing the trainees to booby trapping devices and techniques giving practical experience with both manufactured and improvised devices through actual fabrication.

***

The program provides the trainees with ample opportunity to develop basic familiarity and use proficiently through handling, preparing and applying the various explosive charges, incendiary agents, terrorist devices and sabotage techniques.

(21) The German government admitted (and see this) that, in 1978, the German secret service detonated a bomb in the outer wall of a prison and planted “escape tools” on a prisoner – a member of the Red Army Faction – which the secret service wished to frame the bombing on.

(22) A Mossad agent admits that, in 1984, Mossad planted a radio transmitter in Gaddaffi’s compound in Tripoli, Libya which broadcast fake terrorist trasmissions recorded by Mossad, in order to frame Gaddaffi as a terrorist supporter. Ronald Reagan bombed Libya immediately thereafter.

(23) The South African Truth and Reconciliation Council found that, in 1989, the Civil Cooperation Bureau (a covert branch of the South African Defense Force) approached an explosives expert and asked him “to participate in an operation aimed at discrediting the ANC [the African National Congress] by bombing the police vehicle of the investigating officer into the murder incident”, thus framing the ANC for the bombing.

(24) An Algerian diplomat and several officers in the Algerian army admit that, in the 1990s, the Algerian army frequently massacred Algerian civilians and then blamed Islamic militants for the killings (and see this video; and Agence France-Presse, 9/27/2002, French Court Dismisses Algerian Defamation Suit Against Author).

(25) The United States Army’s 1994 publication Special Forces Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces – updated in 2004 – recommends employing terrorists and using false flag operations to destabilize leftist regimes in Latin America. False flag terrorist attacks were carried out in Latin America and other regions as part of the CIA’s “Dirty Wars“. And see this.

(26) Similarly, a CIA “psychological operations” manual prepared by a CIA contractor for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels noted the value of assassinating someone on your own side to create a “martyr” for the cause. The manual was authenticated by the U.S. government. The manual received so much publicity from Associated Press, Washington Post and other news coverage that – during the 1984 presidential debate – President Reagan was confronted with the following question on national television:

At this moment, we are confronted with the extraordinary story of a CIA guerrilla manual for the anti-Sandinista contras whom we are backing, which advocates not only assassinations of Sandinistas but the hiring of criminals to assassinate the guerrillas we are supporting in order to create martyrs.

(27) An Indonesian fact-finding team investigated violent riots which occurred in 1998, and determined that “elements of the military had been involved in the riots, some of which were deliberately provoked“.

(28) Senior Russian Senior military and intelligence officers admit that the KGB blew up Russian apartment buildings in 1999 and falsely blamed it on Chechens, in order to justify an invasion of Chechnya (and see this report and this discussion).

(29) As reported by BBC, the New York Times, and Associated Press, Macedonian officials admit that the government murdered 7 innocent immigrants in cold blood and pretended that they were Al Qaeda soldiers attempting to assassinate Macedonian police, in order to join the “war on terror”.

(30)  At the July 2001 G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, black-clad thugs were videotaped getting out of police cars, and were seen by an Italian MP carrying “iron bars inside the police station”.  Subsequently, senior police officials in Genoa subsequently  admitted that police planted two Molotov cocktails and faked the stabbing of a police officer at the G8 Summit, in order to justify a violent crackdown against protesters.

(31) The U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war. Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime, that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties. Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction. Despite previous “lone wolf” claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers. (Many U.S. officials have alleged that 9/11 was a false flag operation by rogue elements of the U.S. government; but such a claim is beyond the scope of this discussion. The key point is that the U.S. falsely blamed it on Iraq, when it knew Iraq had nothing to do with it.).

(32) Although the FBI now admits that the 2001 anthrax attacks were carried out by one or more U.S. government scientists, a senior FBI official says that the FBI was actually told to blame the Anthrax attacks on Al Qaeda by White House officials (remember what the anthrax letters looked like). Government officials also confirm that the white House tried to link the anthrax to Iraq as a justification for regime change in that country.

(33) According to the Washington Post, Indonesian police admit that the Indonesian military killed American teachers in Papua in 2002 and blamed the murders on a Papuan separatist group in order to get that group listed as a terrorist organization.

(34) The well-respected former Indonesian president also admits that the government probably had a role in the Bali bombings.

(35) Police outside of a 2003 European Union summit in Greece were filmed planting Molotov cocktails on a peaceful protester

(36) Former Department of Justice lawyer John Yoo suggested in 2005 that the US should go on the offensive against al-Qaeda, having “our intelligence agencies create a false terrorist organization. It could have its own websites, recruitment centers, training camps, and fundraising operations. It could launchfake terrorist operations and claim credit for real terrorist strikes, helping to sow confusion within al-Qaeda’s ranks, causing operatives to doubt others’ identities and to question the validity of communications.”

(37) Similarly, in 2005, Professor John Arquilla of the Naval Postgraduate School – a renowned US defense analyst credited with developing the concept of ‘netwar’ – called for western intelligence services to create new “pseudo gang” terrorist groups, as a way of undermining “real” terror networks. According to Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh, Arquilla’s ‘pseudo-gang’ strategy was, Hersh reported, already being implemented by the Pentagon:

“Under Rumsfeld’s new approach, I was told, US military operatives would be permitted to pose abroad as corrupt foreign businessmen seeking to buy contraband items that could be used in nuclear-weapons systems. In some cases, according to the Pentagon advisers, local citizens could be recruited and asked to join up with guerrillas or terrorists

The new rules will enable the Special Forces community to set up what it calls ‘action teams’ in the target countries overseas which can be used to find and eliminate terrorist organizations. ‘Do you remember the right-wing execution squads in El Salvador?’ the former high-level intelligence official asked me, referring to the military-led gangs that committed atrocities in the early nineteen-eighties. ‘We founded them and we financed them,’ he said. ‘The objective now is to recruit locals in any area we want. And we aren’t going to tell Congress about it.’ A former military officer, who has knowledge of the Pentagon’s commando capabilities, said, ‘We’re going to be riding with the bad boys.'”

(38) United Press International reported in June 2005:

U.S. intelligence officers are reporting that some of the insurgents in Iraq are using recent-model Beretta 92 pistols, but the pistols seem to have had their serial numbers erased. The numbers do not appear to have been physically removed; the pistols seem to have come off a production line without any serial numbers. Analysts suggest the lack of serial numbers indicates that the weapons were intended for intelligence operations or terrorist cells with substantial government backing. Analysts speculate that these guns are probably from either Mossad or the CIA. Analysts speculate that agent provocateurs may be using the untraceable weapons even as U.S. authorities use insurgent attacks against civilians as evidence of the illegitimacy of the resistance.

(39) Undercover Israeli soldiers admitted in 2005 to throwing stones at other Israeli soldiers so they could blame it on Palestinians, as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests by the Palestinians.

(40) Quebec police admitted that, in 2007, thugs carrying rocks to a peaceful protest were actually undercover Quebec police officers (and see this).

(41) A 2008 US Army special operations field manual recommends that the U.S. military use surrogate non-state groups such as “paramilitary forces, individuals, businesses, foreign political organizations, resistant or insurgent organizations, expatriates, transnational terrorism adversaries, disillusioned transnational terrorism members, black marketers, and other social or political ‘undesirables.'” The manual specifically acknowledged that U.S. special operations can involve both counterterrorism and “Terrorism” (as well as “transnational criminal activities, including narco-trafficking, illicit arms-dealing, and illegal financial transactions.”)

(42)  The former head of Secret Services and Head of State of Italy (Francesco Cossiga) advised the 2008 minister in charge of the police, on how to deal with protests from teachers and students:

He should do what I did when I was Minister of the Interior … infiltrate the movement with agents provocateurs inclined to do anything …. And after that, with the strength of the gained population consent,  … beat them for blood and beat for blood also those teachers that incite them. Especially the teachers. Not the elderly, of course, but the girl teachers yes.

(43) At the G20 protests in London in 2009, a British member of parliament saw plain clothes police officers attempting to incite the crowd to violence.

(44) Egyptian politicians admitted (and see this) that government employees looted priceless museum artifacts in 2011 to try to discredit the protesters.

(45) Rioters who discredited the peaceful protests against the swearing in of the Mexican president in 2012 admitted that they were paid 300 pesos each to destroy everything in their path. According to Wikipedia, photos also show the vandals waiting in groups behind police lines prior to the violence.

(46) A Colombian army colonel has admitted that his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms and claimed they were rebels killed in combat.

(47) On November 20, 2014, Mexican agent provocateurs were transported by army vehicles to participate in the 2014 Iguala mass kidnapping protests, as was shown by videos and pictures distributed via social networks.

(48) The highly-respected writer for the Telegraph Ambrose Evans-Pritchard says that the head of Saudi intelligence – Prince Bandar – recently admitted that the Saudi government controls “Chechen” terrorists.

(49) High-level American sources admitted that the Turkish government – a fellow NATO country – carried out the chemical weapons attacks blamed on the Syrian government; and high-ranking Turkish government admitted on tape plans to carry out attacks and blame it on the Syrian government.

(50) The Ukrainian security chief admits that the sniper attacks which started the Ukrainian coup were carried out in order to frame others. Ukrainian officials admit that the Ukrainian snipers fired on both sides, to create maximum chaos.

(51) Britain’s spy agency has admitted (and see this) that it carries out “digital false flag” attacks on targets, framing people by writing offensive or unlawful material … and blaming it on the target.

(52) U.S. soldiers have admitted that if they kill innocent Iraqis and Afghanis, they then “drop” automatic weapons near their body so they can pretend they were militants

(53) Similarly, police frame innocent people for crimes they didn’t commit. The practice is so well-known that the New York Times noted in 1981:

In police jargon, a throwdown is a weapon planted on a victim.

Newsweek reported in 1999:

Perez, himself a former [Los Angeles Police Department] cop, was caught stealing eight pounds of cocaine from police evidence lockers. After pleading guilty in September, he bargained for a lighter sentence by telling an appalling story of attempted murder and a “throwdown”-police slang for a weapon planted by cops to make a shooting legally justifiable. Perez said he and his partner, Officer Nino Durden, shot an unarmed 18th Street Gang member named Javier Ovando, then planted a semiautomatic rifle on the unconscious suspect and claimed that Ovando had tried to shoot them during a stakeout.

Wikipedia notes:

As part of his plea bargain, Perez implicated scores of officers from the Rampart Division’s anti-gang unit, describing routinely beating gang members, planting evidence on suspects, falsifying reports and covering up unprovoked shootings.

(As a side note – and while not technically false flag attacks – police have been busted framing innocent people in many other ways, as well.)

(54) A former U.S. intelligence officer recently alleged:

Most terrorists are false flag terrorists or are created by our own security services.

(55) The head and special agent in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles office said that most terror attacks are committed by the CIA and FBI as false flags.  Similarly, the director of the National Security Agency under Ronald Reagan – Lt. General William Odom said:

By any measure the US has long used terrorism. In ’78-79 the Senate was trying to pass a law against international terrorism – in every version they produced, the lawyers said the US would be in violation.

(audio here).

(56) Leaders throughout history have acknowledged the “benefits” of of false flags to justify their political agenda:

Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death”.
– Adolph Hitler

“Why of course the people don’t want war … But after all it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship … Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”
– Hermann Goering, Nazi leader.

“The easiest way to gain control of a population is to carry out acts of terror. [The public] will clamor for such laws if their personal security is threatened”.
– Josef Stalin

Postscript: Private parties – such as NBC News, as well as Muslims, Jews, Scientologists, African-Americans and Neo-Nazis – play this game as well.

www.whatreallyhappened.comhttp://www.whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/42falseflags.php#ixzz4dVI2Q7La

The Red Line and the Rat Line

Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons.Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’

The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. (According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: ‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’ (Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: ‘No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.’)

Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin. Five of those arrested were freed after a brief detention. The others, including the ringleader, Haytham Qassab, for whom the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 25 years, were released pending trial. In the meantime the Turkish press has been rife with speculation that the Erdoğan administration has been covering up the extent of its involvement with the rebels. In a news conference last summer, Aydin Sezgin, Turkey’s ambassador to Moscow, dismissed the arrests and claimed to reporters that the recovered ‘sarin’ was merely ‘anti-freeze’.

The DIA paper took the arrests as evidence that al-Nusra was expanding its access to chemical weapons. It said Qassab had ‘self-identified’ as a member of al-Nusra, and that he was directly connected to Abd-al-Ghani, the ‘ANF emir for military manufacturing’. Qassab and his associate Khalid Ousta worked with Halit Unalkaya, an employee of a Turkish firm called Zirve Export, who provided ‘price quotes for bulk quantities of sarin precursors’. Abd-al-Ghani’s plan was for two associates to ‘perfect a process for making sarin, then go to Syria to train others to begin large scale production at an unidentified lab in Syria’. The DIA paper said that one of his operatives had purchased a precursor on the ‘Baghdad chemical market’, which ‘has supported at least seven CW efforts since 2004’.

A series of chemical weapon attacks in March and April 2013 was investigated over the next few months by a special UN mission to Syria. A person with close knowledge of the UN’s activity in Syria told me that there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on 19 March in Khan Al-Assal, a village near Aleppo. In its final report in December, the mission said that at least 19 civilians and one Syrian soldier were among the fatalities, along with scores of injured. It had no mandate to assign responsibility for the attack, but the person with knowledge of the UN’s activities said: ‘Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.’

In the months before the attacks began, a former senior Defense Department official told me, the DIA was circulating a daily classified report known as SYRUP on all intelligence related to the Syrian conflict, including material on chemical weapons. But in the spring, distribution of the part of the report concerning chemical weapons was severely curtailed on the orders of Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff. ‘Something was in there that triggered a shit fit by McDonough,’ the former Defense Department official said. ‘One day it was a huge deal, and then, after the March and April sarin attacks’ – he snapped his fingers – ‘it’s no longer there.’ The decision to restrict distribution was made as the joint chiefs ordered intensive contingency planning for a possible ground invasion of Syria whose primary objective would be the elimination of chemical weapons.

In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.

Britain and France were both to play a part. On 29 August, the day Parliament voted against Cameron’s bid to join the intervention, the Guardian reported that he had already ordered six RAF Typhoon fighter jets to be deployed to Cyprus, and had volunteered a submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. The French air force – a crucial player in the 2011 strikes on Libya – was deeply committed, according to an account in Le Nouvel Observateur; François Hollande had ordered several Rafale fighter-bombers to join the American assault. Their targets were reported to be in western Syria.

By the last days of August the president had given the Joint Chiefs a fixed deadline for the launch. ‘H hour was to begin no later than Monday morning [2 September], a massive assault to neutralise Assad,’ the former intelligence official said. So it was a surprise to many when during a speech in the White House Rose Garden on 31 August Obama said that the attack would be put on hold, and he would turn to Congress and put it to a vote.

At this stage, Obama’s premise – that only the Syrian army was capable of deploying sarin – was unravelling. Within a few days of the 21 August attack, the former intelligence official told me, Russian military intelligence operatives had recovered samples of the chemical agent from Ghouta. They analysed it and passed it on to British military intelligence; this was the material sent to Porton Down. (A spokesperson for Porton Down said: ‘Many of the samples analysed in the UK tested positive for the nerve agent sarin.’ MI6 said that it doesn’t comment on intelligence matters.)

The former intelligence official said the Russian who delivered the sample to the UK was ‘a good source – someone with access, knowledge and a record of being trustworthy’. After the first reported uses of chemical weapons in Syria last year, American and allied intelligence agencies ‘made an effort to find the answer as to what if anything, was used – and its source’, the former intelligence official said. ‘We use data exchanged as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The DIA’s baseline consisted of knowing the composition of each batch of Soviet-manufactured chemical weapons. But we didn’t know which batches the Assad government currently had in its arsenal. Within days of the Damascus incident we asked a source in the Syrian government to give us a list of the batches the government currently had. This is why we could confirm the difference so quickly.’

The process hadn’t worked as smoothly in the spring, the former intelligence official said, because the studies done by Western intelligence ‘were inconclusive as to the type of gas it was. The word “sarin” didn’t come up. There was a great deal of discussion about this, but since no one could conclude what gas it was, you could not say that Assad had crossed the president’s red line.’ By 21 August, the former intelligence official went on, ‘the Syrian opposition clearly had learned from this and announced that “sarin” from the Syrian army had been used, before any analysis could be made, and the press and White House jumped at it. Since it now was sarin, “It had to be Assad.”’

The UK defence staff who relayed the Porton Down findings to the joint chiefs were sending the Americans a message, the former intelligence official said: ‘We’re being set up here.’ (This account made sense of a terse message a senior official in the CIA sent in late August: ‘It was not the result of the current regime. UK & US know this.’) By then the attack was a few days away and American, British and French planes, ships and submarines were at the ready.

The officer ultimately responsible for the planning and execution of the attack was General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs. From the beginning of the crisis, the former intelligence official said, the joint chiefs had been sceptical of the administration’s argument that it had the facts to back up its belief in Assad’s guilt. They pressed the DIA and other agencies for more substantial evidence. ‘There was no way they thought Syria would use nerve gas at that stage, because Assad was winning the war,’ the former intelligence official said. Dempsey had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. Last April, after an optimistic assessment of rebel progress by the secretary of state, John Kerry, in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that ‘there’s a risk that this conflict has become stalemated.’

Dempsey’s initial view after 21 August was that a US strike on Syria – under the assumption that the Assad government was responsible for the sarin attack – would be a military blunder, the former intelligence official said. The Porton Down report caused the joint chiefs to go to the president with a more serious worry: that the attack sought by the White House would be an unjustified act of aggression. It was the joint chiefs who led Obama to change course. The official White House explanation for the turnabout – the story the press corps told – was that the president, during a walk in the Rose Garden with Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, suddenly decided to seek approval for the strike from a bitterly divided Congress with which he’d been in conflict for years. The former Defense Department official told me that the White House provided a different explanation to members of the civilian leadership of the Pentagon: the bombing had been called off because there was intelligence ‘that the Middle East would go up in smoke’ if it was carried out.

The president’s decision to go to Congress was initially seen by senior aides in the White House, the former intelligence official said, as a replay of George W. Bush’s gambit in the autumn of 2002 before the invasion of Iraq: ‘When it became clear that there were no WMD in Iraq, Congress, which had endorsed the Iraqi war, and the White House both shared the blame and repeatedly cited faulty intelligence. If the current Congress were to vote to endorse the strike, the White House could again have it both ways – wallop Syria with a massive attack and validate the president’s red line commitment, while also being able to share the blame with Congress if it came out that the Syrian military wasn’t behind the attack.’ The turnabout came as a surprise even to the Democratic leadership in Congress. In September the Wall Street Journal reported that three days before his Rose Garden speech Obama had telephoned Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, ‘to talk through the options’. She later told colleagues, according to the Journal, that she hadn’t asked the president to put the bombing to a congressional vote.

bama’s move for congressional approval quickly became a dead end. ‘Congress was not going to let this go by,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Congress made it known that, unlike the authorisation for the Iraq war, there would be substantive hearings.’ At this point, there was a sense of desperation in the White House, the former intelligence official said. ‘And so out comes Plan B. Call off the bombing strike and Assad would agree to unilaterally sign the chemical warfare treaty and agree to the destruction of all of chemical weapons under UN supervision.’ At a press conference in London on 9 September, Kerry was still talking about intervention: ‘The risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting.’ But when a reporter asked if there was anything Assad could do to stop the bombing, Kerry said: ‘Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week … But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.’ As the New York Times reported the next day, the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards had first been discussed by Obama and Putin in the summer of 2012. Although the strike plans were shelved, the administration didn’t change its public assessment of the justification for going to war. ‘There is zero tolerance at that level for the existence of error,’ the former intelligence official said of the senior officials in the White House. ‘They could not afford to say: “We were wrong.”’ (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The Assad regime, and only the Assad regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack that took place on 21 August.’)

*The full extent of US co-operation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in assisting the rebel opposition in Syria has yet to come to light. The Obama administration has never publicly admitted to its role in creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line’, a back channel highway into Syria. The rat line, authorised in early 2012, was used to funnel weapons and ammunition from Libya via southern Turkey and across the Syrian border to the opposition. Many of those in Syria who ultimately received the weapons were jihadists, some of them affiliated with al-Qaida. (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The idea that the United States was providing weapons from Libya to anyone is false.’)

In January, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report on the assault by a local militia in September 2012 on the American consulate and a nearby undercover CIA facility in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three others. The report’s criticism of the State Department for not providing adequate security at the consulate, and of the intelligence community for not alerting the US military to the presence of a CIA outpost in the area, received front-page coverage and revived animosities in Washington, with Republicans accusing Obama and Hillary Clinton of a cover-up. A highly classified annex to the report, not made public, described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and Erdoğan administrations. It pertained to the rat line. By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer. (A spokesperson for Petraeus denied the operation ever took place.)

The operation had not been disclosed at the time it was set up to the congressional intelligence committees and the congressional leadership, as required by law since the 1970s. The involvement of MI6 enabled the CIA to evade the law by classifying the mission as a liaison operation. The former intelligence official explained that for years there has been a recognised exception in the law that permits the CIA not to report liaison activity to Congress, which would otherwise be owed a finding. (All proposed CIA covert operations must be described in a written document, known as a ‘finding’, submitted to the senior leadership of Congress for approval.) Distribution of the annex was limited to the staff aides who wrote the report and to the eight ranking members of Congress – the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate, and the Democratic and Republicans leaders on the House and Senate intelligence committees. This hardly constituted a genuine attempt at oversight: the eight leaders are not known to gather together to raise questions or discuss the secret information they receive.

The annex didn’t tell the whole story of what happened in Benghazi before the attack, nor did it explain why the American consulate was attacked. ‘The consulate’s only mission was to provide cover for the moving of arms,’ the former intelligence official, who has read the annex, said. ‘It had no real political role.’

Washington abruptly ended the CIA’s role in the transfer of arms from Libya after the attack on the consulate, but the rat line kept going. ‘The United States was no longer in control of what the Turks were relaying to the jihadists,’ the former intelligence official said. Within weeks, as many as forty portable surface-to-air missile launchers, commonly known as manpads, were in the hands of Syrian rebels. On 28 November 2012, Joby Warrick of the Washington Post reported that the previous day rebels near Aleppo had used what was almost certainly a manpad to shoot down a Syrian transport helicopter. ‘The Obama administration,’ Warrick wrote, ‘has steadfastly opposed arming Syrian opposition forces with such missiles, warning that the weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to shoot down commercial aircraft.’ Two Middle Eastern intelligence officials fingered Qatar as the source, and a former US intelligence analyst speculated that the manpads could have been obtained from Syrian military outposts overrun by the rebels. There was no indication that the rebels’ possession of manpads was likely the unintended consequence of a covert US programme that was no longer under US control.

By the end of 2012, it was believed throughout the American intelligence community that the rebels were losing the war. ‘Erdoğan was pissed,’ the former intelligence official said, ‘and felt he was left hanging on the vine. It was his money and the cut-off was seen as a betrayal.’ In spring 2013 US intelligence learned that the Turkish government – through elements of the MIT, its national intelligence agency, and the Gendarmerie, a militarised law-enforcement organisation – was working directly with al-Nusra and its allies to develop a chemical warfare capability. ‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training – including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there. Erdoğan knew that if he stopped his support of the jihadists it would be all over. The Saudis could not support the war because of logistics – the distances involved and the difficulty of moving weapons and supplies. Erdoğan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond in March and April.’

There was no public sign of discord when Erdoğan and Obama met on 16 May 2013 at the White House. At a later press conference Obama said that they had agreed that Assad ‘needs to go’. Asked whether he thought Syria had crossed the red line, Obama acknowledged that there was evidence such weapons had been used, but added, ‘it is important for us to make sure that we’re able to get more specific information about what exactly is happening there.’ The red line was still intact.

The foreign policy expert told me that the account he heard originated with Donilon. (It was later corroborated by a former US official, who learned of it from a senior Turkish diplomat.) According to the expert, Erdoğan had sought the meeting to demonstrate to Obama that the red line had been crossed, and had brought Fidan along to state the case. When Erdoğan tried to draw Fidan into the conversation, and Fidan began speaking, Obama cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ Erdoğan tried to bring Fidan in a second time, and Obama again cut him off and said: ‘We know.’ At that point, an exasperated Erdoğan said, ‘But your red line has been crossed!’ and, the expert told me, ‘Donilon said Erdoğan “fucking waved his finger at the president inside the White House”.’ Obama then pointed at Fidan and said: ‘We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria.’ (Donilon, who joined the Council on Foreign Relations last July, didn’t respond to questions about this story. The Turkish Foreign Ministry didn’t respond to questions about the dinner. A spokesperson for the National Security Council confirmed that the dinner took place and provided a photograph showing Obama, Kerry, Donilon, Erdoğan, Fidan and Davutoğlu sitting at a table. ‘Beyond that,’ she said, ‘I’m not going to read out the details of their discussions.’)

But Erdoğan did not leave empty handed. Obama was still permitting Turkey to continue to exploit a loophole in a presidential executive order prohibiting the export of gold to Iran, part of the US sanctions regime against the country. In March 2012, responding to sanctions of Iranian banks by the EU, the SWIFT electronic payment system, which facilitates cross-border payments, expelled dozens of Iranian financial institutions, severely restricting the country’s ability to conduct international trade. The US followed with the executive order in July, but left what came to be known as a ‘golden loophole’: gold shipments to private Iranian entities could continue. Turkey is a major purchaser of Iranian oil and gas, and it took advantage of the loophole by depositing its energy payments in Turkish lira in an Iranian account in Turkey; these funds were then used to purchase Turkish gold for export to confederates in Iran. Gold to the value of $13 billion reportedly entered Iran in this way between March 2012 and July 2013.

The programme quickly became a cash cow for corrupt politicians and traders in Turkey, Iran and the United Arab Emirates. ‘The middlemen did what they always do,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Take 15 per cent. The CIA had estimated that there was as much as two billion dollars in skim. Gold and Turkish lira were sticking to fingers.’ The illicit skimming flared into a public ‘gas for gold’ scandal in Turkey in December, and resulted in charges against two dozen people, including prominent businessmen and relatives of government officials, as well as the resignations of three ministers, one of whom called for Erdoğan to resign. The chief executive of a Turkish state-controlled bank that was in the middle of the scandal insisted that more than $4.5 million in cash found by police in shoeboxes during a search of his home was for charitable donations.

Late last year Jonathan Schanzer and Mark Dubowitz reported in Foreign Policy that the Obama administration closed the golden loophole in January 2013, but ‘lobbied to make sure the legislation … did not take effect for six months’. They speculated that the administration wanted to use the delay as an incentive to bring Iran to the bargaining table over its nuclear programme, or to placate its Turkish ally in the Syrian civil war. The delay permitted Iran to ‘accrue billions of dollars more in gold, further undermining the sanctions regime’.*

The American decision to end CIA support of the weapons shipments into Syria left Erdoğan exposed politically and militarily. ‘One of the issues at that May summit was the fact that Turkey is the only avenue to supply the rebels in Syria,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘It can’t come through Jordan because the terrain in the south is wide open and the Syrians are all over it. And it can’t come through the valleys and hills of Lebanon – you can’t be sure who you’d meet on the other side.’ Without US military support for the rebels, the former intelligence official said, ‘Erdoğan’s dream of having a client state in Syria is evaporating and he thinks we’re the reason why. When Syria wins the war, he knows the rebels are just as likely to turn on him – where else can they go? So now he will have thousands of radicals in his backyard.’

A US intelligence consultant told me that a few weeks before 21 August he saw a highly classified briefing prepared for Dempsey and the defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, which described ‘the acute anxiety’ of the Erdoğan administration about the rebels’ dwindling prospects. The analysis warned that the Turkish leadership had expressed ‘the need to do something that would precipitate a US military response’. By late summer, the Syrian army still had the advantage over the rebels, the former intelligence official said, and only American air power could turn the tide. In the autumn, the former intelligence official went on, the US intelligence analysts who kept working on the events of 21 August ‘sensed that Syria had not done the gas attack. But the 500 pound gorilla was, how did it happen? The immediate suspect was the Turks, because they had all the pieces to make it happen.’

As intercepts and other data related to the 21 August attacks were gathered, the intelligence community saw evidence to support its suspicions. ‘We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’ Much of the support for that assessment came from the Turks themselves, via intercepted conversations in the immediate aftermath of the attack. ‘Principal evidence came from the Turkish post-attack joy and back-slapping in numerous intercepts. Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards. There is no greater vulnerability than in the perpetrators claiming credit for success.’ Erdoğan’s problems in Syria would soon be over: ‘Off goes the gas and Obama will say red line and America is going to attack Syria, or at least that was the idea. But it did not work out that way.’

The post-attack intelligence on Turkey did not make its way to the White House. ‘Nobody wants to talk about all this,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘There is great reluctance to contradict the president, although no all-source intelligence community analysis supported his leap to convict. There has not been one single piece of additional evidence of Syrian involvement in the sarin attack produced by the White House since the bombing raid was called off. My government can’t say anything because we have acted so irresponsibly. And since we blamed Assad, we can’t go back and blame Erdoğan.’

Barring a major change in policy by Obama, Turkey’s meddling in the Syrian civil war is likely to go on. ‘I asked my colleagues if there was any way to stop Erdoğan’s continued support for the rebels, especially now that it’s going so wrong,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The answer was: “We’re screwed.” We could go public if it was somebody other than Erdoğan, but Turkey is a special case. They’re a Nato ally. The Turks don’t trust the West. They can’t live with us if we take any active role against Turkish interests. If we went public with what we know about Erdoğan’s role with the gas, it’d be disastrous. The Turks would say: “We hate you for telling us what we can and can’t do.”’

4 April

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

Ghouta chemical attack

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ghouta chemical attack
Part of the Syrian Civil War
Ghouta massacre1.JPG

Some of the victims of the Ghouta chemical attack
Location Ghouta, Syria
Coordinates Eastern Ghouta: within 750 meters (2,460 ft) from[1]
33.5238301°N 36.3566995°E
Western Ghouta: within 500 meters (1,600 ft) from[1]
33.4602966°N 36.1972287°E
Date 21 August 2013[2]
Attack type
Chemical attack
Deaths Various estimates:
at least 281 (French intelligence)[3]
at least 350 (UK intelligence)[4]
355 (MSF)[5]
494 (Damascus Media Office)[6]
502 (SOHR)[7]
635 (SRGC)[8]
923 (VDC)[9]
1,300 (SNC)[10]
1,338 (LCC)[11]
1,429 (United States)[12][13]
1,729 (FSA)[14]
Non-fatal injuries
3,600 patients displaying neurotoxic symptoms in 3 hospitals supported by MSF[5]
Perpetrators Unknown

The Ghouta chemical attack occurred in Ghouta, Syria, during the Syrian Civil War in the early hours of 21 August 2013. Two opposition-controlled areas in the suburbs around Damascus, Syria were struck by rockets containing the chemical agent sarin. Estimates of the death toll range from at least 281 people[3] to 1,729.[14] The attack was the deadliest use of chemical weapons since the Iran–Iraq War.[15][16][17]

Inspectors from the United Nations Mission already in Syria to investigate an earlier alleged chemical weapons attack,[18](p6)[19] requested access to sites in Ghouta the day after the attack,[20][21][22][22][23][24] and called for a ceasefire to allow inspectors to visit the Ghouta sites.[20] The Syrian government granted the UN’s request on 25 August,[25][26][27] and inspectors visited and investigated Moadamiyah in Western Ghouta the next day, and Zamalka and Ein Tarma in Eastern Ghouta on 28 and 29 August.[18](p6)[28][29]

The UN investigation team confirmed “clear and convincing evidence” of the use of sarin delivered by surface-to-surface rockets,[18][30] and a 2014 report by the UN Human Rights Council found that “significant quantities of sarin were used in a well-planned indiscriminate attack targeting civilian-inhabited areas, causing mass casualties. The evidence available concerning the nature, quality and quantity of the agents used on 21 August indicated that the perpetrators likely had access to the chemical weapons stockpile of the Syrian military, as well as the expertise and equipment necessary to manipulate safely large amount of chemical agents.”[31] It also stated that the chemical agents used in the Khan al-Assal chemical attack “bore the same unique hallmarks as those used in Al-Ghouta.”[32][31][33]

The Syrian opposition,[34] as well as many governments, the Arab League and the European Union[35][36][37] stated the attack was carried out by forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[38] The Syrian and Russian governments blamed the opposition for the attack,[34] the Russian government calling the attack a false flag operation by the opposition to draw foreign powers into the civil war on the rebels’ side.[39]Åke Sellström, the leader of the UN Mission, characterized government explanations of rebel chemical weapons acquisition as unconvincing, resting in part upon “poor theories.”[40]

Several countries including France, the United Kingdom, and the United States debated whether to intervene militarily against Syrian government forces.[41][42][43][44] On 6 September 2013, the United States Senate filed a resolution to authorize use of military force against the Syrian military in response to the Ghouta attack.[45] On 10 September 2013, the military intervention was averted when the Syrian government accepted a US–Russian negotiated deal to turn over “every single bit” of its chemical weapons stockpiles for destruction and declared its intention to join the Chemical Weapons Convention.[46][47]

Background

The Ghouta area is composed of densely populated suburbs to the east and south of Damascus, part of the province of Rif Dimashq.[48] Ghouta is a primarily conservative Sunni region.[49] Since early in the civil war, civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta have almost entirely sided with the opposition to Syria’s government.[50][51] The opposition has controlled much of Eastern Ghouta since 2012, partly cutting off Damascus from the countryside.[48]Muadamiyat al-Sham in Western Ghouta had been under government siege since April 2013.[52] Ghouta had been the scene of continuing clashes for more than a year before the chemical attack, with government forces launching repeated missile assaults trying to dislodge the rebels. The week of the attack, the Syrian government launched an offensive to capture opposition-held Damascus suburbs.[51]

The attack came one year and one day after US President Barack Obama‘s 20 August 2012 “red line” remarks, in which he warned: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”[53][54][55] Syria was one of five non-signatories to the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention at the time. After the “red line” remarks, and before the chemical attack in Ghouta, chemical weapons were suspected to have been used in four attacks in the country.[56]

Khan al-Assal chemical attack

The Khan al-Assal chemical attack occurred on 19 March 2013, when a government-controlled area of Khan al-Asal, a district of Aleppo in northern Syria, was struck by a rocket containing the nerve agent sarin. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights the attack resulted in at least 26 fatalities, including 16 government soldiers and 10 civilians.[57] The Syrian government later reported to the United Nations that one soldier and 19 civilians died and that 17 soldiers and 107 civilians were injured.[2](p32) A medic at the local civilian hospital said he personally had witnessed Syrian army soldiers helping the wounded and dealing with fatalities at the scene.[58]

The sarin used in the Khan al-Assal attack “bore the same unique hallmarks” as the sarin used in the Ghouta attack.[32][31](p19)

Independent International Commission of Inquiry

The United Nations Human Rights Council established the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic on 22 August 2011 to investigate human rights violations during the Syrian civil war. One of the topics the commission investigated was possible use of chemical weapons. In early June 2013, the Fifth Report of the Commission of Inquiry stated that there were reasonable grounds to believe that limited amounts of toxic chemicals were used in four attacks, but more evidence was needed “to determine the precise chemical agents used, their delivery systems or the perpetrator.”[59](p21)[60][61] On 22 June, the head of the Commission of Inquiry, Paulo Pinheiro, said the UN could not determine who used chemical weapons in Syria based on evidence sent by the United States, Britain and France.[62]

Assessments prior to the attack

US assessment

US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stated on 25 April that US intelligence showed the Assad government had likely used sarin on a small scale.[63] However, the White House announced that “much more” work had to be done to verify the intelligence assessments.[64]

On 13 June 2013, the United States government publicly announced it had concluded that the Assad government had used limited amounts of chemical weapons on multiple occasions against rebel forces, killing 100 to 150 people. US officials stated that sarin was the agent used.[65] Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes did not say whether this showed that Syria had crossed the “red line” established by President Obama in August 2012. Rhodes stated: “The president has said that the use of chemical weapons would change his calculus, and it has.”[66] The French government announced that its own tests confirmed US assertions.[67]

Russian assessment

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said “the accusations of Damascus using chemical weapons put forth by the USA are not backed by credible facts.”[68] Lavrov further stated that the Syrian government had no motive to use chemical weapons since the government already maintained a military advantage over the rebel fighters.[69]

Attacks

The attacks affected two separate opposition-controlled districts in the Damascus suburbs, located 16 kilometres apart.[1](p1)

Eastern Ghouta attack

The first attack took place around 2:30 a.m. on 21 August 2013[70][71] in Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held suburb to the east of Damascus.[72] The area was on a rebel weapons supply route from Jordan and had been under siege by the Syrian military and Hezbollah for months.[73][74]

At least 8, and possibly 12, rockets struck within a 1500 by 500 meter area in the Zamalka and nearby Ein Tarma neighborhoods.[note 1] The rockets were all of the same improvised type, each with an estimated capacity to carry 50–60 liters (11–13 imp gal; 13–16 U.S. gal) of sarin.[1](p9)[18](p24) The rocket engine was similar in type and parameters to a 122 mm GRAD unguided surface-to-surface rocket, while the chemical warhead and the stabilization fin was of an artisan-type.[1][75] One (or both) of the labs examining the environmental samples taken from Zamalka (and Ein Tarma[18](pp28–29)) found at least traces of sarin in 14 of the 17 cases.[2](pp45–49) One of the labs described the sarin level as a “high level concentration” in 4 of the 17 samples.[2](pp45–49)

Western Ghouta attack

The second attack took place in the Western Ghouta area around 5:00 in the morning on 21 August. On 22 August, a witness who works for Moadamiya media center said he had counted seven rockets that fell in two areas of Moadamiya during the early morning of 21 August. He said four rockets hit next to the Rawda Mosque and another three in the area between Qahweh Street and Zeytouneh Street, which he said was approximately 500 meters to the east of the Rawda Mosque. He said all the rockets were of the same type.[1]

While no chemical warhead was ever found in the Western Ghouta area, one rocket engine has been identified as a 140mm M-14 unguided surface-to-surface rocket. This type of rocket can be fitted with three types of warheads: high explosive-fragmentation, white phosphorus smoke, or a chemical warhead containing 2 liters (0.44 imp gal; 0.53 U.S. gal) of sarin.[1](p5) None of the 13 environmental samples taken from Western Ghouta tested positive for sarin, although three had “degradation and/or by-products.”[2](pp43–45)

Chemical weapons capability

At the time of the attack, Syria was not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention,[76] which prohibits the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons, although in 1968 it acceded to the 1925 Geneva Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating, Poisonous or Other Gases. In 2012 Syria publicly stated it possessed chemical and biological weapons and would use them if it faced a foreign attack.[77]

According to French intelligence, the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) is responsible for producing toxic agents for use in war. A group named “Branch 450” is allegedly responsible for filling munitions with chemicals and maintaining security of the chemical agent stockpiles.[78] As of September 2013, French intelligence estimated the Syrian stockpile at 1,000 tonnes, including Yperite, VX and “several hundred tonnes of sarin.”[78]

The UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee publicly dismissed the possibility of rebel responsibility for the attack in Ghouta, stating that rebels are incapable of an attack of its scale.[79] The Committee stated that “there is no credible intelligence or evidence to substantiate the claims or the possession of CW by the opposition.”[80]

Åke Sellström, a Swedish scientist who led the UN mission to investigate the attacks, said it was difficult to see how rebels could have weaponized the toxins,[81] but admitted that he didn’t know who the perpetrator was.[40]According to the Associated Press, “chemical and biological weapons experts have been relatively consistent in their analysis, saying only a military force with access to and knowledge of missile delivery systems and the sarin gas suspected in Ghouta could have carried out an attack capable of killing hundreds of people.”[82]

Initial claims

Both the opposition and the Syrian government said a chemical attack was carried out in the suburbs around Damascus on 21 August 2013. Anti-government activists said the Syrian government was to blame for the attack, while the Syrian government said foreign fighters and their international backers were to blame.[71][83]

Opposition claims<