Category Archives: Raqqa

US Using “ethnic cleansing” to Set up Compliant State in Syria

The US is trying to ethnically cleanse Syria in order to kill off Syrian nationalism and create an obedient state, journalist Vanessa Beeley told RT following a damning report on the US coalition’s military activities in Raqqa.

“They bombed trapped civilians”.  Amnesty’s damning report on US,UK, and France destruction in Raqqa

Beeley, an independent journalist who has covered the war in Syria extensively, told RT that the US, UK and French coalition is using proxy forces to cleanse certain areas of land in the war-torn country in an effort “to replace them with a proxy that will essentially create a US controlled state.”

She was responding to a new Amnesty International report that strongly criticizes the actions of the US-led coalition in its campaign to liberate the previously Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL)-controlled city of Raqqa.

A woman stands on rubble of damaged buildings in Raqqa © Aboud Hamam / Reuters

The Amnesty report accused the coalition and its Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) proxies of creating “a level of destruction comparable to anything we’ve seen in decades of covering the impact of wars,” and it says that the coalition’s claims that the bombings were “precise” and caused few civilian casualties do not stand up to scrutiny.

Beeley said that the Amnesty report put “meat on the bones” of previous analysis from on-the-ground journalists and some Russian analysts and commentators. She said that despite the US-led campaign ostensibly being about ridding the area of IS terrorists, it was the terrorists “who were evacuated as priority over the civilians.”

“Civilian property and infrastructure, essential infrastructure like water taps, like water supply units that were keeping civilians alive during the campaign were also being targeted,” she said, adding that it was the SDF forces designating the targets for the US coalition.

“So there’s a degree of collusion here between the US coalition and its proxies forces on the ground,” she said.

Beeley also criticized the reluctance of the British government, in particular, to admit to causing civilian deaths during its military campaign. The UK Ministry of Defense, she said, “did not even admit one civilian death as a result of their “precision” bombing — and then they only reluctantly admitted that they believe one civilian was killed by one of their drone strikes.”

Comparing the American-led military campaign in Raqqa to the Russian and Syrian-led military campaign to liberate east Aleppo, Beeley said that there were different standards set and attempts were made to protect Aleppo civilians.

“What we saw there were the provision of humanitarian corridors for civilians to be able to leave under the cover of the Syrian Arab Army and with the help of the Russian reconciliation teams negotiating with the terrorist and militant extremist factions to allow civilians to leave,” Beeley said. “What we’ve seen in Raqqa is civilians paying smugglers to try and leave during the military campaign, having to cross minefields, being unable to afford the cost of those smuggling groups.”

Beeley also said that Syrian civilians were being forced to return to buildings and areas of Raqqa that had not yet been cleared of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), booby traps and mines left by IS militants.

In contrast, the journalist said that Russian forces “cleared thousands of hectares of those IEDs and booby traps” following their campaigns to liberate Aleppo and Ghouta from IS.

“What we’re seeing here is a disgusting despicable disregard for human life both during the military campaign and even more importantly after the military campaign by the US coalition,” Beeley said.

Watch Vanessa Beeley’s full interview with RT below:

What did the US-led Coalition Decide to Defeat: Islamic State or Raqqa?

PART ONE

The ancient mud brick walls circling Raqqa’s deserted old city are almost the only structure still intact. Inside, shops and homes spill crumbling concrete onto either side of the narrow roads, block after block.

Fighting between U.S.-backed militias and Islamic State in the jihadist group’s former Syria stronghold has peppered mosques and minarets with machine-gun fire while air strikes flattened houses. No building is untouched. Senior council member Omar Alloush estimated at least half the city has been already completely destroyed.

“The old clock tower could be heard from outside the walls once. It’s damaged now. It’s silent,” Mohammed Hawi, a Raqqa-citizen, said at a nearby home occupied by the Syrian Democratic Forces alliance (SDF). Driving militants out has caused destruction that officials say will take years and cost millions of dollars to repair. A major bridge leading into eastern Raqqa lies collapsed after a latest coalition air strike. Beyond it, damaged water towers and the skeletons of teetering residential blocks dot the skyline. “We’re waiting for help to repair the east bridge,” co-president Leila Mustafa, a civil engineer, said. “If it doesn’t arrive soon, we’ll begin ourselves, using any means we have, though we have practically nothing.”

Smoke rises at the positions of the Islamic State militants after an air strike by the coalition forces near the stadium in Raqqa, Syria, October 4, 2017. (Reuters/Erik De Castro)

The nascent Raqqa Civil Council, set up to rebuild and govern Raqqa, faces a huge task. It says aid from countries in the U.S.-led coalition bombing and burning all around while fighting IS is ridiculous. The failure to quickly return services to the city that was once home to more than 200,000 people, mostly now displaced, risks unrest, Council warns.

“Infrastructure is completely destroyed by the airstrikes and mortar shelling. Water, electricity networks, bridges – all of the facilities are practically ruined or in very poor condition. There’s not a single service functioning,” said Ibrahim Hassan, who oversees reconstruction for the Raqqa council at its headquarters in nearby Ain Issa.

The other problem is civilians of Raqqa dying every day as a result of assaults. “There are also bodies under rubble, of civilians and terrorists. These need reburying to avoid disease outbreaks,” Omar Alloush said. Amnesty International has said the U.S.-led campaign, including air strikes, has killed hundreds of civilians trapped in Raqqa. Residents have reported civilian deaths, but it is difficult to establish how many people have died.

The coalition says it allegedly does all it can to avoid civilian casualties. But the city is densely built up and militants firing from homes are often targeted by air raids. Corridors for locals don’t work. People bear the brunt of the humanitarian catastrophe now taking place in Raqqa. There’s a gap in humanitarian assistance at a glance. The council said coalition countries were reluctant to aid the Raqqa council, made up of local engineers, teachers, and doctors.

“It seems that we gave our city as a sacrifice for the sake of defeating terrorism. Now it’s the world’s duty to help us,” say people of Raqqa. The questioned people also say that they have no support of the US-led coalition and of Western countries in restoring and reconstruction. The US-led coalition is fighting terrorism for months without considerable success but with significant damage to all. So it seems the coalition is trying to defeat Raqqa instead of ISIS. The only question is who will rebuild the city after horrible airstrikes of the coalition? People of Raqqa are asking themselves about it. They also seek help and justice and are crying out for care. Many locals described themselves as overwhelmed by fear about the future and feelings of hopelessness.

• Logical deductions of John Davison from Reuters were used in the piece.

PART TWO

Restoration of Syria: Who will Gain What?

Now that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has successfully defeated or neutralized much of the insurgency in his country, domestic and international attention has begun to turn toward stabilization and reconstruction. It is now possible to envision a postwar Syria, at least in parts of the country.

Yet large sections of the international community—including, critically, key donor countries—continue to reject the legitimacy of President al-Assad and his regime. The United States and its allies have given up on their proxy war in Syria, with which they had pushed for al-Assad’s negotiated removal from power. But now restoration seems like the next battle to shape Syria’s political order. For backers of the so-called moderate Syrian opposition, restoration funds are their last remaining tools to pressure the Government. Experts are now proposing convoluted schemes for how the West can rebuild Syria in spite of al-Assad or how it can condition its restoration money on political concessions from the regime.

There is a less complicated solution: Do not fund the restoration of al-Assad’s Syria.

In a high-profile speech in August, President al-Assad warned his adversaries that they would not negotiate their way to victory. “We won’t let enemies, adversaries, and terrorists, through any means, accomplish through politics what they failed to accomplish on the battlefield and through terrorism,” he said.

The West should take al-Assad at his word. Syria’s restoration cannot be dictated or meaningfully shaped by Western donors—at least not to any satisfactory political ends. There are limited humanitarian arguments for investing in reconstruction. But in political terms, the West does not have a role to play.

It seems that the West won’t put a dime in the restoration of Syria without any profit whether it would be political, economic or some other gains. President al-Assad may be faced with the problem onto one. The only thought that springs to mind is the help of al-Assad-backers. Hope a United Nations committee will help. Syrian Government allies have been already lending a helping hand despite the absence of visible plausible futures. Where are others?

Sam Heller ‘s logical deductions were used in the piece.

The Terror Next Time: The Daesh Story Is Not Ending

Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, has been reduced to rubble. It has been finally conquered, snatched back from the notorious group, Daesh, after months of merciless bombardment by the US-led war coalition, and a massive ground war.

But ‘victory’ can hardly be the term assigned to this moment.  Mosul, once Iraq’s cultural jewel and model of co-existence, is now a ‘city of corpses’, as described by a foreign journalist who walked through the ruins, while shielding his nose from a foul smell.

“You’ve probably heard of thousands killed, the civilian suffering,” Murad Gazdiev said. “What you likely haven’t heard of is the smell. It’s nauseating, repulsive, and it’s everywhere – the smell of rotting bodies.”

Actually, the “smell of rotting bodies” can be found everywhere that Daesh has been defeated. The group that once declared a Caliphate – an Islamic state – in Iraq and Syria in 2014, and was left to freely expand in all directions, is now being hurriedly vanquished.

Such a fact leaves one wondering how a small group, itself a spawn of other equally notorious groups, could have declared, expanded and sustained a ‘state’ for years, in a region rife with foreign armies, militias and the world’s most powerful intelligences?

But should not such a question be rendered irrelevant now, considering that Daesh is finally being routed, in most violent and decisive methods?

Well, this is what almost everyone seems to agree on; even political and military rivals are openly united over this very objective.

Aside from the city of Mosul in Iraq, Daesh has also been defeated in its stronghold in the city of Raqqa, in the east of Syria.

Those who astonishingly survived the battles of Mosul and Raqqa are now holed in Deir ez-Zor, which promises to be their last major battle.

In fact, the war on Daesh is already moving to areas outside large population centers where the militant group had sought safe haven. Yet, Daesh militants are being flushed out of these regions as well, for example, in the western Qalamoun region on the Syria-Lebanon border.

Even the open desert is no longer safe. The Badiya Desert, extending from central Syria to the borders of Iraq and Jordan, is now witnessing heavy fighting, centered in the town of Sukhnah.

Brett McGurk, US special envoy for the ‘Global Coalition to Counter ISIS’, recently returned to the US after spending a few days the region. He talked to CBS television network with palpable confidence.

Daesh forces are “fighting for their life, block-by-block,” he said, reporting that the militant group had lost roughly 78 percent of areas it formerly controlled in Iraq since its peak in 2014, and about 58 percent of its territories in Syria.

Expectedly, US officials and media are mostly emphasizing military gains they attribute to US-led forces and ignore all others, while Russian-led allies are doing just the opposite.

Aside from the numerous humanitarian tragedies associated with these victories, none of the parties involved have taken any responsibility for the rise of Daesh, in the first place.

They have to, and not only as a matter of moral accountability. Without understanding and confronting the reasons behind the rise of Daesh, one is certain that the fall of Daesh will spawn yet another group with an equally nefarious, despairing and violent vision.

Those in mainstream media, who have attempted to deconstruct the roots of Daesh, unwisely confront its ideological influences without paying the slightest heed to the political reality from which the group was incepted.

Whether Daesh, Al-Qaeda or any other, such groups are typically born and reborn in places suffering from the same, chronic ailment: a weak central government, foreign invasion, military occupation and state terror.

Terrorism is the by-product of brutality and humiliation, regardless of the source, but is most pronounced when that source is a foreign one.

If these factors are not genuinely addressed, there can be no ending to terrorism.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that Daesh was molded, and thrived, in countries like Iraq, Syria, Libya and regions like the Sinai Desert. Moreover, many of those who answered Daesh’s call also emerged from communities that suffered the cruelty of merciless Arab regimes, or neglect, hate and alienation in western societies.

The reason that many refuse to acknowledge such a fact – and would fight tooth and nail to discredit such an argument – is that an admission of guilt would make many responsible for the very creation of the terrorism they claim to fight.

Those who are content in blaming Islam, a religion that was one of the main contributing factors to the European cultural renaissance, are not simply ignorant; many of them are guided by sinister agendas. But their mindless notion of blaming religion is as stupid as George W. Bush’s ill-defined ‘war on terror.’

Wholesale, uninformed judgments can only prolong conflict.

Moreover, generalized notions prevent us from a narrowed-down attempt at confronting specific, and clearly obvious links, for example, between Al-Qaeda’s advent in Iraq and the US invasion of that country; between the rise of the sectarian-brand of al-Qaeda under Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the sectarian division of that country under US administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, and his allies in the Shia-led government in Baghdad.

It should have been clear from the start that Daesh, as notoriously violent as it is, was one of the symptoms, not the cause. After all, Daesh is only 3-years-old. Foreign occupation and war in the region predates its inception by many years.

Although we were told – by Daesh itself, but also media pundits – that Daesh is here to stay, it turned out that the group is but a passing phase in a long, ugly montage, rife with violence and bereft of both morality and the intellectual courage to examine the true roots of violence.

It is likely that the victory over Daesh is short-lived. The group will surely develop a new warfare strategy or will further mutate. History has taught us that much.

It is also likely that those who are proudly taking credit for systematically and efficiently annihilating the group – along with whole cities – will not pause for a moment to think of what they must do differently to prevent a new Daesh from taking form.

Strangely, the ‘US-led Global Coalition to Counter ISIS’ seems to have access to the firepower needed to turn cities into rubble, but not the wisdom to understand that unchecked violence inspires nothing but violence; and that state terror, foreign interventions and collective humiliation of entire nations are all the necessary ingredients to restart the bloodbath all over again.