Update on the Russian airstrikes: Who Did They Hit and Why Did Neo-cons Take It So Personally?

As usual, the US press may have misled the unwary reader. The Wall Street Journal’s headline is exemplary: “Russia Hits Assad Foes, Angering US”. What is most communicated are the main complaints of warhawks like Defense Sect’y Ash Carter and Senator John McCain, who wants to arm our rebels with anti-aircraft weaponry . They argue that Russia’s attacks on the rebels, starting Wednesday, are not targeting ISIS, but rather supporting Assad. As if the two were mutually exclusive.

Though the US press buries or neglects to say who they hit, the targets are mainly Jubhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham. The US was technically correct to say the Russian targets mostly were not ISIS, but they have been takfiri Salafi terrorists from the start. Why the big stink? Of course, part of it was the obligatory tantrum that must accompany any retreat. So the “ambivalent coalition”  issued a proclamation within the day, urging Russia to cease doing what we are supposed to be doing.

More specifics emerged later in the week. These were enlightening as to the outrage expressed on Wednesday by US officials and dedicated allies from Riyadh and Ankara to Paris and Ottawa.But it also explained the surprise. The US press also is “shocked” . The NY Daily News says “America blindsided by the attacks”.

These reports seemed half-genuine, but how could that be when Putin had said all but “when” he was going to hit the terrorists? The genuine part of the American surprise was that they did not know the specific targets. Especially they did not know how close the targets would hit to home. By the end of the week it emerged that they are bombing our terrorists, those trained by the CIA, not those trained by the Pentagon, but those who were not even vetted as “moderates”.

We will let Wall Street Journal give the long and short of it — or the ‘short’, rather, but that’s already a lot to celebrate with this source.

“U.S. officials say the Russian military bombed one area primarily held by rebels backed by the Central Intelligence Agency and allied spy services. Contrary to claims by the Russian Ministry of Defense, none of the areas that were hit have a known Islamic State presence. At least two of the rebel factions attacked by the Russians—Tajamu Al-Ezzeh and the Central Division—have received weapons including advanced antitank missiles and funding from the U.S. and its allies, according to rebel leaders.”

It is likely they are amongst the 10,000 about which Adam Johnson wrote in his FAIR report last week. Reportedly the multi-billion dollar CIA program did not “vet” these rebel recruits like the Pentagon did their “4 or 5” that were in Syria at the time of General Austin’s humiliating report to the Senate two weeks ago. Subsequently, these 4 or 5 were supplemented by another 70, but those also are now down to a couple dozen because they too gave ISIS their guns for safe passage, were killed, or else have defected. Our terrorist babies are very jealous of each other, just like the national agencies and allied nations that gave rise to them and continue to support the proxies.

Perhaps skipping that “vetting” part is why the spy agency has done a better job at fielding terrorists, excuse me, rebels, than the Defense Department. They are also pretty good at keeping it off the front page. Erudite readers of the NYTimesPBS and NPR learn that our inept meddling in Syria amounted to a few sorry soldiers, and a few scattered and ineffective air raids. Just what readers of the NYPost and NYDailyNews learn. The State Department and Pentagon have always had a terrible time explaining the contradictions and ambivalences of their strategies in Syria. They seem to be the clown show to keep a complacent American public satisfied our government is just stupid, not evil. Even though their effective influence is far greater, the CIA never had to explain their contradictions, never had to explain why they support terrorism, because, well, they are the CIA.

The US mass media now are employing graphics designed to tell the story the way they were told to tell it. In most big US papers a map of Syria was reproduced on Thursday and Friday which reduced the bewildering fragmentation of Syria into four big groups in four big zones: Assad regime, Rebels, ISIS, Kurds. All Russian attacks came within the “rebel” zone (this was the day before Russia attacked Raqqa. By the weekend, the US press had to start admitting that the Russians were indeed bombing ISIS too.). In the accompanying articles, “rebels” were our good guys that Russia bombed. According to the map, this left ISIS out of the picture. One could almost think they were siding with ISIS (like we do) and just bombing our good guys.

The map failed to say who in fact was hit. The articles accompanying the map as well were “ambiguous”, never mentioning that these were al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, Salafist takfiri foreigners by and large. In the past, the US would have called them Free Syrian Army, but since the FSA fled to Turkey, or merged with al-Nusra and others and finally dissolved about a year ago, that’s about a month or two late to use the lie. Finally fessing up that they were CIA-trained and armed, and not FSA, pretty much means the label “moderate” is so ludicrous that not even the NYTimes or FoxNews dares use it except in buried contexts.

Russia says its bombing campaigns will continue for “3-4 months”. As for strategies, Russia has concentrated their attacks, which are many dozen by now, along a network of highways in the west, around Homs, Hama, and Idlib. This is a crucial crossroads supply centers and thoroughfares for the cities lined up in the west of Syria. In this respect, a grain of dissimulating truth lies in the US propaganda. In fact, ISIS is not concentrated in these areas. Weekend reports suggest the bombing campaign and the coordination with Syrian ground and air forces are expanding and, according to Syrian reports, have shown decided success.

Much is being done by Assad’s army now that the Russians have relieved them in areas. Syrian air and ground forces reportedly scored a great success in Aleppo province, resulting in hundreds of terrorist casualties, while a Syrian army unit stationed in the province ” thwarted an attack carried out by the ISIS on Deir Ezzor Military Airport, killing and injuring scores of terrorists, many of them of non-Syrian nationalities.”

How about the Russians? This is some of what happened on Sunday October 4, typical of every day since Wednesday, as reported by SANA, Syrian Arab News Agency.

“Russian jets, in cooperation with the Syrian air force, carried out a series of airstrikes against ISIS positions in Jisr al-Shughour, Maaret al-Nouman and al-Tabqa, destroying a number of warehouses storing weapons and command centers. Additionally they destroyed a training camp in Kaslajok. shelters and mini-factories used for making weapons and ammunition, as well as 4 command centers in Jisr al-Shughour. a training center and an ammunition depot … near al-Tabqa city in Raqqa province, … command centers and ammunition stores near Maaret al-Nouman in Idleb… “

And so on… All in a day’s work — or a year’s work, if you are among the ambivalent 60+ nation “anti-ISIS” coalition led by the US.

The same report specifies the groups hit, and in a few cases, the acknowledgement of leaders killed. As SANA reported:

“The Takfiri terrorist organizations acknowledged on their social media pages the death of two of their groups’ leaders during army operations in the southern Quneitra  province. The military leader of “Ahrar al-Sham” terrorist group, Ahmad Khalifa al-Muheimid, and leader of  “Jund al-Malahem” terrorist group, Abu Abdullah Nahteh, were killed in the northern countryside  of the province.”

The groups hit are numerous, but Jubhat al-Nusra dominates the roll call, and secondarily Ahrar al-Sham, especially in the areas first hit that caused such an outcry from John McCain and Defense Sect’y Ash Carter. But there are a half-dozen other groups, each one more Salafist and mercenary than the next. None are FSA.

These “good terrorists” bereaved by McCain, seem to have been mostly around Homs. Sunday, his grieving babies responded to the unlikelihood they are gonna get the anti-aircraft weaponry they asked Daddy for by blowing up a car bomb in a crowded intersection of Homs, killing one and injuring 33. CIA taught them well. That’s our tax dollars hard at work, oh fellow citizens of the ‘ambivalent alliance.’

About neithernoreithermore

i am an historian of the present and past
This entry was posted in ISIS, Russia, Syria, US Middle East Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Update on the Russian airstrikes: Who Did They Hit and Why Did Neo-cons Take It So Personally?

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