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Friday, May 6, 2016

Leaked docs reveal: Assad & ISIS played us on Palmyra

Daesh, which is called the Islamic State by its supporters, has been working in collaboration with the Syrian Regime of Bashar al-Assad for a very long time, documents released this week by Sky News revealed. These documents particularly focus on the collaboration of Daesh and the Assad Regime in the losing and retaking of the famous World Heritage Site, the ancient ruins of Palmyra.

al-Araby reported on Monday:
Islamic State is collaborating with Assad, leaked documents reveal

Leaked documents from the Islamic State, which are being examined by a British news outlet, have revealed that the group is closely collaborating with the Syrian regime, confirming long-held suspicions.
Karim Traboulsi

2 May 2016
The Islamic State group is closely collaborating with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, a new cache of leaked documents from the group has revealed, confirming long-held suspicions by opponents.

The Islamic State [IS] group and the Assad regime in Syria have been colluding with each other, says Sky News – who are examining the documents – anywhere from making "tactical withdrawal" deals on the battleground to trading oil and fertilisers.

It has consistently been argued that Assad played a crucial role in the rise of IS and other extremist groups like al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. But the new revelations confirm a much more direct role.

Most notably, the much-hyped regime victory in the ancient city of Palmyra against IS seems to have been at least partly the result of a prior arrangement with the extremist group that had been in control of the city.

But the cooperation has been going on for years, the documents handed to Sky News seem to show. More...
On Tuesday Sky News came out with:
IS Files Reveal Assad's Deals With Militants

Islamic State forces pulled out of Palmyra in co-operation that has been going on for years, documents handed to Sky News show.
3 May 2016
By Stuart Ramsay, Chief Correspondent

Islamic State and the Assad regime in Syria have been colluding with each other in deals on the battleground, Sky News can reveal.

Our exclusive investigation into leaked secret IS files suggests one piece of co-operation was over the ancient city of Palmyra.
IS defectors, meanwhile, have told Sky News that Palmyra was handed back to government forces by Islamic State as part of a series of cooperation agreements going back years.

New letters obtained by Sky News, in addition to the massive haul of 22,000 files handed over last month, appear to confirm this.
They show:
:: An agreement with the Syrian regime to withdraw IS weapons from Palmyra.
:: A deal between IS and Syria to trade oil for fertiliser and;
:: Arrangements to evacuate some areas by Islamic State forces BEFORE the Syrian army attacked.
All appear to be pre-agreed deals and suggest direct evidence of collusion between the Syrian regime and Islamic State chiefs. More...
In other words, Bashar al-Assad played us all on Palmyra and the
destruction of world heritage there by Daesh was his doing.

First came the "loss" of Palmyra

The Assad regime lost the city to Daesh a year ago in a much publicized regime defeat. At the same time it was losing Palmyra to Daesh, it was waging a cynical propaganda campaign to use the lost to condemn the West for not uniting with the Assad regime to save Palmyra. RT reported:
Moscow has condemned the massacre of civilians in the ancient city of Palmyra, urging the international community to denounce double standards in its approach to fighting terrorists, and unite against IS (Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL) aggression.

“We strongly condemn the atrocities committed by armed extremists in Palmyra,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

“Once again, we urge international and regional parties to abandon the vicious practice of using double standard approaches to fighting against terrorism, and launch efficient cooperation with the governments of Middle East countries, which are directly repelling the ISIS offensive,” the ministry said.
And the chorus responded. For example, Paul Mansfield opined in Global Research:
A disturbing element of ISIS takeover of Palmyra was the way it was able to move across expansive stretches of desert without being bombed by the US. To do so would have been assisting the Assad government and this is definitely not in the playbook of the US.
And Vijay Prashad said the same thing on Democracy Now:
you know, when ISIS seized Palmyra, the United States and other powers, other regional powers, refused to provide close air support to the Syrian troops that were amassed around Palmyra, for fear that if they got involved in providing close air support, they would be charged with backing the Assad government.
All of Moscow's minions were aligned. Even Robert Fisk repeated that charge in The Independent:
When Palmyra fell last year...We ignored, were silent on, the Syrian army's big question: why, if the Americans hated Isis so much, didn't they bomb the suicide convoys that broke through the Syrian army's front lines? Why didn't they attack Isis?
Of course the Syrian air force didn't bomb them either, which is one of the reasons some thought that Assad made it a little too easy. The New York Times wrote:
When the Islamic State captured the city in May [2015], the militants faced little resistance from Syrian troops. At the time, residents said officers and militiamen had fled into orchards outside the city, leaving conscripted soldiers and residents to face the militants alone.
While the Assad regime was losing Palmyra to Daesh in May 2015, it was also stepping up its barrel bomb attacks in Aleppo. Amnesty International reported Aleppo civilians suffering 'unthinkable atrocities' (5 May 2015) and this blog posted 50 earthquakes a day in Syria ignored by the "Left" (10 May 2015). Assad was slaughtering Syrian civilians in greater numbers but it was his lost of the ancient city of Palmyra that caught the attention of the West and along with their much publicized beheadings of westerners, went a long way toward elevating Daesh to the position of number one enemy of the world in Syria. Assad may have slaughtered a hundred thousand Arabs but Daesh beheaded westerners and blew up statues! Juan Cole wrote in Informed Comment, 28 March 2016:
Moreover, as the opposition pointed out, the fall of Palmyra was a propaganda windfall for Bashar al-Assad. All but 15,000 of Palmyra's 70,000 people promptly fled Daesh rule [Juan, didn't they flee the fighting first?], suggesting that the Baath regime was in fact preferable to that of the phony caliphate. And Daesh predictably damaged the spectacular archeological treasures of the ancient Roman outpost [not too much], drawing Western attention and implicitly again suggesting that even al-Assad rule was better than that of Daesh.
While Assad and his supporters continued to do 95% of the killing in the Syrian conflict. In Palmyra, Daesh was able to capture headlines by beheading Khaled Assad, the antiquities expert that had spent his life preserving Palmyra and destroying part of a key temple. Daesh quickly became the focus of Western attention, especially after the 13 November 2015 terror attack in Paris and the 22 March 2016 terror attack in Brussels that Daesh took credit for. Few in the West remembered that a representative of the Assad regime had promised just such terrorist attacks if the West bombed in Syria, as they were doing, or understood the connection of the Assad regime to Daesh. So he never became a suspect, as he should be. Instead Assad was rehabilitated as the lesser of two evils in Syria.

Then came the "liberation" of Palmyra.

Bashar al-Assad bragged to a French delegation in Damascus:
“The liberation of the historic city of Tadmur (Palmyra) today is an important achievement and is evidence of the efficacy of the strategy adopted by the Syrian army and its allies in the war on terrorism."
Seymour Hersh certainly didn't see any collusion between Daesh and the regime. He told Democracy Now:
The fighting in Palmyra that the Syrian army and the Russian special forces did was much bloodier. ISIS fought to the death. It was a terrible toll on everybody, but it was a victory for the Syrian army. We know all these things.
Writing for Reuters, 31 March 2016 Rasha Elass saw things a little differently:
And now, with all the pomp and glory of recapturing the ancient city of Palmyra, and the next round of peace talks scheduled to start on April 11, Assad will predictably try to present himself as the “secular regime” that protects World Heritage sites from the wonton destruction of Islamic extremists. Syrian TV is already monopolizing the airwaves with footage of the “victory,” and Russia Today keeps airing “exclusives” of the Syrian army’s defeat of Islamic State in Palmyra.

What is not mentioned is an explanation of why, exactly, did Assad lose Palmyra to Islamic State last May? His forces had all the advantages from the air, after all.

One regime insider told me that Assad badly wanted to convince the U.S.-led coalition to bomb the Islamic State fighters who were visible for miles in the desert on their march to Palmyra. It was intended to show that the regime was partnered with the West in the so-called “War on Terror.”

“After all, not only was ISIS marching toward a World Heritage Site, but it was also the gateway to Homs and the coast, where ISIS would have threatened Syria’s Christian and Alawite minorities,” he said, using an acronym for Islamic State.

But the coalition forces took no such step, and neither did the Syrian Air Force. Instead, top Syrian Army commanders and their Iranian advisers withdrew from Palmyra, leaving behind dozens of conscripts without provisions or support, according to locals and regime insiders. The conscripts were subsequently killed by Islamic State, and footage of these crimes was referenced by Syrian TV announcers as evidence of the state’s own war on terror.
Robert Fisk unwittingly seemed to confirm this last part even while promoting the Assad line when he wrote in The Independent:
“If the Americans wanted to destroy Isis, why didn't they bomb them when they saw them?” a Syrian army general asked me, after his soldiers' defeat....His men had been captured and head-chopped in the Roman ruins.
So his men got beheaded by Daesh, but the lucky general, he lived to talk another day. Thank you for that valuable admission Mr. Fisk, so rare to find anything honest in his writing these days. The rest was the kind of pure propaganda Fisk has been regurgitating lately, even raising the dead to throw us off the scent:
The biggest military defeat that Isis has suffered in more than two years. The recapture of Palmyra, the Roman city of the Empress Zenobia. And we are silent. Yes, folks, the bad guys won, didn't they? Otherwise, we would all be celebrating, wouldn't we?
As my long-dead colleague on the Sunday Express, John Gordon, used to say, makes you sit up a bit, doesn't it? Here are the Syrian army, backed, of course, by Vladimir Putin's Russkies, chucking the clowns of Isis out of town, and we daren't utter a single word to say well done.
What he was trying to feed back to us was the Russian line on the conflict. Alexey Pushkov, the head of the Russian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, complained that the US has not praised or thanked Russia for “liberating” the historic Syrian city of Palmyra, and the RT editorialized:
The recapture of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra was the single biggest defeat for ISIS since it declared its caliphate, but the West does not seem interested. Why? Because then they’d have to give some credit to Russia.
for a while we were treated to headlines about the Russians “helping” ISIS, or “giving ISIS and [sic] air force” [and btw the Russians didn't bomb Daesh on the way to Palmyra either] and other such nonsense which now looks rather embarrassing in hindsight. In this context, the recapture of Palmyra was not just a mortal blow to ISIS, it was also a mortal blow to the West’s entire rotten narrative on Syria.
Fortunately Palmyra was mostly "saved."

Considering the well founded fears that the Daesh occupation would lead to the wholesale destruction of the ancient ruins of Palmyra, the "liberators" were very surprised how little had been destroyed. While it is true that many small artifacts went missing, it is hard to know whether they were taken by Daesh or the Syrian army troops that occupied the site earlier. In 2012 amateur video was posted showing Syrian soldiers carrying away funeral stones and there were other reports of looting. Now it can all be blamed on Daesh. Could that have been another reason for allowing them to take and hold it for a while?

Still given that CNN ran the headline Palmyra: Will ISIS bulldoze ancient Syrian city?, 21 May 2015, we didn't see what we expected, the kind of destruction that Daesh had wrought in Assyrian city of Nimrud, or the museum in Mosul, Iraq. But then you wouldn't expect to see that in Palmyra, if Bashar al-Assad had anything to say about it. Before the uprising it bought 150,000 visitors a year to Syria. For the Assad regime it is a cash cow, rendered even more valuable now because the damage to the site was minimal while the value of the worldwide publicity the loss and re-capture has generated is enormous. Actually, the fact that Daesh apparently went against their beliefs and past practice to spare Palmyra is one of the best indicators that the fix was in and the world was being played. In any case the regime lost no time in organizing the first propaganda tour of Palmyra.

Bashar al-Assad has been getting over on the world and has many on the Left and in the government arguing that we should support Assad, as bad as he is, because the alternative is ISIS. The truth is that he is the man behind the curtain of Daesh and certainly can't be an alternative to it.

Supporters of the Revolution have been saying this for some time. Here are my posts on the subject:
09/09/2014Are ISIS and Assad enemies in Syria?
06/17/2014Bush, Barack & Bashar BFF to Islamic Extremists in Iraq & Syria
02/27/2014MEMO | ISIS & the Assad Regime: From Marriage of Convenience to Partnership
02/10/2014Man behind the Curtain for al-Qaeda in Syria is Assad
01/27/2014How Assad runs terrorist on "both sides" in Syria
01/20/2014Bashar al-Jihad: How Assad finances terrorists with oil
01/05/2014Bashar al-Jihad: Is ISIS a child of the regime?
12/22/2013Through the Looking-Glass: Viet Cong Terrorism and Syria
10/07/2012Syrian Defector: Assad behind "terrorist" bombs

Post Scripts: Both the Syrian and Russian air forces have been getting called out recently for their targeted attacks against hospitals and other health facilities. And now we have the claim that the rebels have also attacked a hospital. From EAWorldView we have this analysis of what looks to be another of Assad's false flag attacks:
Syria Special: How Regime May Have Staged “Rebel Attack” on Aleppo Hospital…and Fooled World’s Media

by Scott Lucas
4 May 2016
On Tuesday morning, Syria’s State media added an important story to its claims of rebel attacks on civilians in regime-held areas of Aleppo city.

For the first time, the outlets proclaimed that a medical facility had been hit, declaring that “terrorist rockets” had struck the al-Dhabeet Maternity Hospital in west Aleppo. Three women had been killed and 17 women and children wounded, said State news agency SANA. Photographs showed damage to the front of the hospital, with windows blown out, and destroyed cars in the street.

But the narrative immediately ran into trouble. Analysts quickly noted that the pictures did not point to a rocket attack but to a vehicle bomb, given that one of the cars had been blown into pieces and that the hospital showed the widespread effects of a bombing rather than the more direct impact of a rocket. Witnesses, including the hospital director, spoke of a “blast” rather than a strike from the air. More...

meanwhile Aleppo is still Burning!

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

1 comment:

  1. Amy Goodman's backed off from being spoon fed the Assad line by his willing executioners (e.g., Sy Hersh).