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Crisis in Idlib is mainly due to US regime which supports “Al Qaeda safe haven” there. “Humanitarian” aid to Idlib is de facto terrorist aid, crosses Turkish border and is easily diverted by US-backed Islamic jihadists, many of whom aren’t Syrian-Helena Cobban, lobelog.com

June 6, 2019

Idlib is an Al Qaeda safe haven.” “Most of Idlib is controlled by [Salafist Islamic terror group] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham [HTS], a group dominated by former members of Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate which is on the UN terrorism list.…”Turkey expressly agreed [in Sept. 2018] to intervene in Idlib to pull HTS [Islamic terror group] and its allies back from the front line and eventually from the whole of the enclave….Turkey has not done what it promised. In early May [2019], Turkey’s non-performance of the agreement prompted Syria and Russia to resume their attempts to reassert Syrian government control over Syria’s national territory....Because of their distance from the scene [Idlib], these [NY Times] reporters were unable to independently verify the accounts of events inside Idlib their informants provided.“...US openly backs Islamic terrorists, diverts billions of US taxpayer dollars to fund starvation and genocide.

6/5/19, “The Real Plight of Idlib’s Civilians, Helena Cobban, Lobelog.com

“Idlib is now the beleaguered last redoubt within Syria of the armed rebellion that arose in the country in summer 2011.

That much everyone who reads the U.S. corporate media is probably aware of. But what most of the corporate media have notably not reported is that the [Islamic terrorist] rebel forces that control Idlib are strongly dominated by the al-Qaeda affiliate known as Hai’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies. This fact explains the political impasse over Idlib and the searing dilemma that genuine (as opposed to al-Qaeda-linked) humanitarian groups face in responding to the mounting crisis there. Also, a high proportion of the HTS forces are the last remnants of the massive wave of foreign fighters who flocked to northern Syria after 2011.

One example of the corporate media’s flawed reporting was this May 30 piece in The New York Times in which Carlotta Gall and Huweida Saad wrote at length about the humanitarian crisis in Idlib. But they made zero mention of the domination that HTS and its allies exert over the situation there—including over the activities of all the aid groups in the area.

This article on Idlib was reported from Ankara, Turkey (by Gall) and Beirut, Lebanon (by Saad.) But it does not explain that the reason why no Western reporters are able to go to Idlib is because of the many killings and other attacks Western reporters have suffered at the hands of HTS and its allies in different parts of Syria. Nor does it explain that, because of their distance from the scene, these reporters were unable to independently verify the accounts of events inside Idlib their informants provided.

The overall thrust of Gall and Saad’s at-distance reporting—as with so many similar pieces in the corporate media in recent weeks—was that the Syrian government and its Russian allies were just wantonly attacking civilian facilities in Idlib. It made no mention of Syrian or Russian forces attacking military targets in Idlib or of the casualties the HTS-dominated fighters inside the enclave had inflicted on civilians in neighboring government-held areas.

The Gall/Saad article does make a short reference, low down in the piece, to the key agreement the Russian and Turkish presidents reached last September [2018] to allow for de-escalation in the Idlib region. (Turkey has considerable control over all the rebels in Idlib because it commands all the routes through which they can receive aid—or weapons—from the outside world. For its part, Russia is a key military-political ally of the Syrian government.)

Gall and Saad fail to spell out, however, that under the September agreement Turkey expressly agreed to intervene in Idlib to pull HTS and its allies back from the frontline and eventually from the whole of the enclave. Russia agreed, in return, to hold its Syrian allies back from attacking the rebel positions in Idlib. Turkey has not done what it promised. In early May, Turkey’s non-performance of the agreement prompted Syria and Russia to resume their attempts to reassert Syrian government control over Syria’s national territory in Idlib through military means.

Turkey is understandably reluctant, Gall and Saad report, to countenance a collapse of the [Islamic terrorist] rebel position in Idlib that could send tens of thousands of the province’s current residents fleeing as refugees into Turkish territory. But they don’t spell out that many of those fleeing would almost certainly be HTS fighters—including that large proportion of HTS fighters who aren’t Syrians at all, but foreign takfiri (extremist-jihadi) fighters from a variety of countries, most of whose governments do not want them to return.

Turkey does, however, bear considerable responsibility for the presence in Syria of the foreign fighters (and in many cases, also their families). From 2011 through late 2014, it actively facilitated the transfer of those takfiris and their weapons and money into Syria, in pursuit of the military campaign that it, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States, and others launched to topple Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Since 2011, Turkey has suffered considerable blowback from that regime-change campaign against Syria. Much of this blowback came from the Kurdish forces—Washington’s recent allies—who are centered in the northeast of Syria. They are closely tied to the anti-Ankara insurgents of the Turkish-Kurdish “PKK” who have long been active across eastern Turkey. But Turkey has also suffered blowback from several of the border-straddling pro-al-Qaeda networks whose anti-Assad activities in Syria Turkish security services have often very actively aided.

The Problem of Resettlement

The Turkish government doubtless views the prospect of thousands of homeless, disgruntled, but well-armed foreign jihadis pouring into Turkey from Syria with some dread. This complex question of how to handle foreign takfiris whose forces have been defeated in Syria already came up in the context of Islamic State fighters (and their families) after the collapse, earlier this year, of that force’s last outposts in northeastern Syria. The HTS/Qaeda takfiris [foreign terrorists] who dominate Idlib have not yet been defeated. But already, their domination of the situation on the ground in Idlib is causing grave headaches for everyone concerned about the future—or indeed, the present situation—of all the province’s people.

The Washington Post’s Editorial Board at least recognizes that there is a problem. In a May 17 editorial, it described the terms of last year’s Russia-Turkey agreement and noted that Turkey “has failed to disarm or expel the militants” of HTS. But the conclusion it drew was vague and unrealistic: “While the menace posed by the jihadists must be addressed, a military solution led by Assad and Russian forces is unthinkable… No durable peace in Syria is likely until the bonds linking Russia, Iran and the Assad [government] regime are broken.[It’s the exact opposite. The US regime alone–the one on the other side of the world from Syria–prevents peace which could begin tomorrow if US ended its criminal intervention and genocide].

Meanwhile, the HTS/Qaeda rebels’ continued domination of most of Idlib poses heartrending challenges for all the genuine humanitarian-aid organizations that seek to provide aid to the province’s three million residents. Tragically, the aid flows across the border from Turkey into Idlib are always, once they cross the international border, subject to diversion by the [Islamic terrorist] rebel fighters, who then use their control over these vital goods to increase their control over the province’s population.

After 2011, a number of big Western aid NGOs became very involved in running aid projects in rebel-held areas in Syriaoften under contracts from USAID [US taxpayers]. More recently, USAID has sanctioned many of these NGOs for allowing diversions of their aid or their finances either to rebel-connected networks inside Idlib or to corrupt Turkey-based individuals (perhaps linked to the HTS/Qaeda networks.) These NGOs include International Rescue Committee and International Medical Corps, along with Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children in the UK, and GOAL in Ireland.

The aid flowing across Turkey’s border with Idlib has amounted to hundreds of millions and ultimately billions of U.S. dollars. The difficulty of monitoring the work of staff members in distant parts of Turkey and Idlib made the whole field ripe for numerous forms of corruption, including the diversion of aid by the takfiris.

This is by no means a new development. The excellent Swedish reporter Aron Lund was reporting in depth on it in mid-2017—but only in the UN-linked newsletter The New Humanitarian. Meanwhile, the big Western media have preferred to turn a blind eye to the story of this diversion of aid flows by the takfiris—most likely because it challenges the preferred narrative of the “innocent civilians” and “heroic rebels” of Idlib being at the mercy only of the “evil” Syrian and Russian governments.

Inside Idlib

Idlib’s present population includes, of course, a strong majority of innocent civilians. But it also includes an estimated 10,000-plus well-armed takfiri fighters, a large portion of whom are not Syrians. Idlib’s civilians do undoubtedly, along with the fighters, suffer from the military activities of the Syrian government and its allies. But the takfiri fighters, who worry that if they lose in Idlib they’ll have nowhere else to go, also ruthlessly use civilians as hostages….

In Idlib, under the agreement Turkey and Russia concluded last September, Turkey is supposed to go into the troubled province and end the takfiris’ control of the area. Until that control ends one way or another, the noncombatants of Idlib will continue to suffer. But it is completely impossible to understand the plight of Idlib’s noncombatants or the broader geopolitics of what is happening in Syria unless journalists and others clearly describe the power dynamics within the rebel-held territory.”

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Added: US regime sends “political” aid to Syria but not “humanitarian aid:”

US regime refuses to send any of its billions in “humanitarian aid” to areas held by the Syrian government, only allows aid to areas held by Islamic terrorists. US government spent at least $12 billion on Syria regime change from 2014-2017 alone  in military and civilian expenditures, per former Obama ambassador to Syria Robert Ford in a Feb. 2018 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. This doesn’t include monies spent prior to 2014, nor the estimated $1 billion a year the CIA spends in Syria.

2/9/2018, “US Ambassador Confirms Billions Spent on Regime Change in Syria, Debunking ‘Obama Did Nothing’ Myth,” The Gray Zone, Ben Norton

The U.S. State Department, USAID, and other government agencies have refused to provide humanitarian aid to government-held areas in Syria and have instead expressly used the funding to bankroll the political, civil, and health infrastructure of [Islamic terrorist] rebel-held territory, including areas that are governed by Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. The Guardian exposed how similar aid initiatives by the British government financed the activities of al-Nusra and other extremist Salafi-jihadist militias.

Ford acknowledged in his [2018] testimony that U.S. humanitarian aid to Syria was heavily politicized, explaining:

“The U.S. also has deployed a small civilian team into Syria charged with initial reconstruction and building new local governance or improving on existing local governance. If it sounds like nation-building, it is but on a smaller scale. USAID and other civilian agencies have provided $875 million in non-lethal and stabilization aid to [Al Qaeda groups] opposition-controlled areas in Syria since FY 2012. Last year [2017] alone the US provided about $200 million.”

This politicized humanitarian funding has been part of a concerted effort to undermine the Syrian government’s control over Syrian territory by creating independent political administrations, civil society organizations, health institutions, and infrastructure that are outside of its control, effectively establishing de facto autonomous governments that survive on U.S. [taxpayer] funding.”…

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Added:

Image: Abu Mohammad al-Jolai, leader of Salafist jihadist militant group HTS in Syria, US “boots on the ground” in Syria in US continuing unprovoked aggression against Syria. As of 2019 jihadist group HTS is in control of Syria’s Idlib province.

Trump champions jihadist group’s evidence-free complaints geared to incite more US taxpayer funded bombing:

5/23/19, Washington echoes allegations of al-Qaeda against Syria, VoltaireNet.org

In fact, the US [Trump administration] communiqué endorses an accusation initially made by the group Hayat Tahrir al-Cham, [HTS] which is the current denomination of al-Qaeda in the Syrian region of Idlib.”…

“The US State Department again accuses the government of the Syrian Arab Republic – calling it ” the Assad regime – of repressing its people with chemical weapons.

In a statement, the State Department now affirms that a [alleged] chemical attack was registered on May 19, 2019 in the Syrian region of Idlib [ 1 ].

In fact, the US [Trump administration] communiqué endorses an accusation initially made by the group Hayat Tahrir al-Cham, [HTS] which is the current denomination of al-Qaeda in the Syrian region of Idlib.

The very name of Hayat Tahrir al-Cham – which means “Liberation Organization of the Levant” – indicates that its objective is not only to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic but to put an end to the governments of all the countries of the Levant, which covers the region of Anatolia (in Turkey), Israel, Jordan and Mesopotamia (in Iraq), in addition to Syria. This jihadist group is the direct heir of the old “Front al-Nusra” (“Front for the Victory of the People of the Levant”) that had sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda.

In the same statement, the State Department responds to the denials from Russia and Syria, which point out that the chemical attacks in Syria were never the work of the Syrian government but of the jihadists, who perpetrated them with the help of the supposedly known humanitarian group as ” White Helmets ” or “White Helmets”. According to the Department of State, these denials from Russia and Syria are only misinformation.”…

[Ed. note: US takes Al Qaeda at its word in Syria, and if you don’t do the same you’re a Putin stooge falling for “misinformation.“]

(continuing): “The State Department states in its statement that for the UN almost all verified chemical attacks were committed by the Syrian government.

However, that US assertion is false since the State Department refers to the Joint Investigative Mechanism created by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the UN, Mechanism whose reports were rejected by the Council Security Council because they were the result of a dubious methodology, which led to the dissolution of that Mechanism by the Security Council itself.”

Added:

Per Wall St. Journal, 9/9/2018, Trump openly advocates for Islamic terrorists and their alleged complaints for all the world to see, threatens President of Syria with “massive” US taxpayer funded attack if Assad dares to clear 70,000 Islamic terrorists out of Idlib, Syria: “In a recent discussion about Syria, people familiar with the exchange said, President Trump threatened to conduct a massive attack against Mr. Assad if he carries out a massacre in Idlib, the northwestern province that has become the last refuge for more than three million people and as many as 70,000 [Islamic terrorists] opposition fighters that the [everyone in the world including the government of the sovereign nation of Syria] regime [knows to be] considers to be terrorists.“…”U.S. Says Syria Plans Gas Attack in Rebel Stronghold,” Wall St. Journal, Dion Nissenbaum…

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Added: US elites and their European “allies” love Islamic terrorists and funnel taxpayer cash to them:

“When the Europeans speak today of the aid they are offering to the Syrian refugees, we should understand that they mean their support for the members of Al-Qaïda, who are generally neither civilians nor Syrians.” …4/30/19, Daesh’s new territories,” Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Net

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Added: The American people are being told the opposite of what is actually happening in Syria:.

“Fight Assad, Russia, and Iran!Much of the American press is reporting the opposite of what is actually happening.” The US public is being misinformed on Syria. American ignorance is more dangerous than ignorance of other people because: “The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. In Syria, it is: “Fight Assad, Russia, and Iran! Join with our Turkish, Saudi, and Kurdish friends to support peace!” This is appallingly distant from reality. It is also likely to prolong the war and condemn more Syrians to suffering and death.” 

Feb. 18, 2016, The media are misleading the public on Syria,“ Boston Globe, Stephen Kinzer, opinion

For three years, violent [Islamic] militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents:

“Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.

This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants [Islamic terrorists] out of the city. Last week they reclaimed the main power plant. Regular electricity may soon be restored. The militants’ hold on the city could be ending.

Militants, true to form, are wreaking havoc as they are pushed out of the city by Russian and Syrian Army forces. “Turkish-Saudi backed ‘moderate rebels’ showered the residential neighborhoods of Aleppo with unguided rockets and gas jars,” one Aleppo resident wrote on social media. The Beirut-based analyst Marwa Osma asked, “The Syrian Arab Army, which is led by President Bashar Assad, is the only force on the ground, along with their allies, who are fighting ISIS— so you want to weaken the only system that is fighting ISIS?”

This does not fit with Washington’s narrative. As a result, much of the American press is reporting the opposite of what is actually happening. Many news reports suggest that Aleppo has been a “liberated zone” for three years but is now being pulled back into misery.

Americans are being told that the virtuous course in Syria is to fight the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian partners. We are supposed to hope that a righteous coalition of Americans, Turks, Saudis, Kurds, and the “moderate opposition” will win. 

This is convoluted nonsense, but Americans cannot be blamed for believing it. We have almost no real information about the combatants, their goals, or their tactics. Much blame for this lies with our media. 

Under intense financial pressure, most American newspapers, magazines, and broadcast networks have drastically reduced their corps of foreign correspondents. 

Much important news about the world now comes from reporters based in Washington. In that environment, access and credibility depend on acceptance of official paradigms. Reporters who cover Syria check with the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and think tank “experts.” After a spin on that soiled carousel, they feel they have covered all sides of the story. This form of stenography produces the pabulum that passes for news about Syria.

Inevitably, this kind of disinformation has bled into the [2016] American presidential campaign. At the recent debate in Milwaukee, Hillary Clinton claimed that United Nations peace efforts in Syria were based on “an agreement I negotiated in June of 2012 in Geneva.”

The precise opposite is true. In 2012 Secretary of State Clinton joined Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel in a successful effort to kill Kofi Annan’s UN peace plan because it would have accommodated Iran and kept Assad in power, at least temporarily. No one on the Milwaukee stage knew enough to challenge her.

Politicians may be forgiven for distorting their past actions. Governments may also be excused for promoting whatever narrative they believe best suits them. Journalism, however, is supposed to remain apart from the power elite and its inbred mendacity. In this crisis it has failed miserably.

Americans are said to be ignorant of the world. We are, but so are people in other countries. If people in Bhutan or Bolivia misunderstand Syria, however, that has no real effect. Our ignorance is more dangerous, because we act on it. The United States has the power to decree the death of nations. In Syria, it is: “Fight Assad, Russia, and Iran! Join with our Turkish, Saudi, and Kurdish friends to support peace!” This is appallingly distant from reality. It is also likely to prolong the war and condemn more Syrians to suffering and death.” 

“Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Follow him on Twitter @stephenkinzer.”

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Added: US elites have long partnered with Islamic terrorists:

Jan. 2016, “A Special Relationship: The United States is teaming up with Al Qaeda, again,” Harpers.org, Andrew Cockburn

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Added: 3/14/2013, “Why We Shouldn’t Be Arming Syria’s Rebels,” Huffington Post UK, Charles Shoebridge

Those advocating arming [Islamist terrorists in Syria] also assume that, because rebels are fighting a dictator, the [Islamist] rebels must themselves support democracy. While opposition leaders outside Syria speak of inclusive democracy, gender equality and human rights, such concepts are largely alien to the Islamist fighters dominating Syria’s [so-called] rebels, the most influential of whom are groups such as the al Qaeda linked al Nusra Front. Rather, they aim to replace Syria Shia with Sunni power….Many have good reason to detest the Assad government. But this is no reason to provide weapons to those with little regard for democracy and human rightswhich for the true interests of Syria’s people and the West may make matters very much worse.”
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Added: The US wasn’t invited into Syria. In 2011, US said Syrian Pres. Assad “had to go.” Since at least 2012 US taxpayers have been forced to pay for weapons to arm Islamic terrorists, the so-called Syrian “opposition,” to carry out bloody regime change in Syria:

June 21, 2012, “C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition [Islamic terrorists],” NY Times, Eric Schmitt:

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Added: US flag flies in Syria as of 12/28/18, in territory it has seized from sovereign nation of Syria. How would US feel if Syria bombed the US and planted its flag on US soil?

Image, 12/30/2018, “US flag flies in Syria’s Manbij despite pullout notice,” AFP, Delil Souleiman

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