Jilted Kurds ignore Western hand-wringing over Syria gas attack


Amberin Zaman (Turkey Pulse) April 12, 2018 – AL MONITOR


Article Summary  – The Syrian Kurds have been notably silent on US President Donald Trump’s threat to punish Damascus over a suspected chemical attack on Douma, likely disillusioned and choosing to focus on condemning Turkey’s ongoing offensive in Afrin. As stakeholders in Syria’s seven-year conflict remain glued to US President Donald Trump’s tweets, one group has remained noticeably silent: Turkey’s biggest bugbear and the United States’ top ally, the Kurds. Ever since the American leader vowed via Twitter to punish Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over a suspected chemical attack on Douma, the dominant Kurdish political group in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its armed affiliate the People’s Protection Units (YPG) have refrained from airing views on whether or how the United States should respond.

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The Chemical Attacks Near Damascus — An Open Source Review / THE EVIDENCE

 By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – April 12, 2018 –  Evidence indicates victims “killed as a result of a gas cylinder filled with what is most likely chlorine gas”, dropped by regime helicopter

The Bellingcat Investigation Team has published a detailed open source review of one of the chemical attacks last Saturday in Douma, near Syria’s capital Damascus.

Based on the available evidence, it is highly likely the 34+ victims killed in the 1930 [7:30 pm] attack on the apartment building near al-Shuhada Square were killed as a result of a gas cylinder filled with what is most likely chlorine gas being dropped from a Hip helicopter originating from Dumayr Airbase.

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Trump’s “Red Line” Moment in Syria?

12 April 2018 – President Donald Trump threatened yesterday to rain missiles down on forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, one week after the regime allegedly conducted a chemical weapons attack on civilians in the rebel-held town on Douma, near the capital Damascus. • While a potential strike may signal to Assad that the U.S. will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons, it may also lead to military escalation—and possibly a direct confrontation with Russia, which supports the Assad regime and has troops based throughout the country.

  • Throughout Syria’s seven-year civil war, the Assad regime has targeted civilians with chemical weapons, evoking international condemnation. The Trump administration previously took action after the April 4, 2017, attack on the town of Khan Shaykun, which killed more than 80 people.
  • The U.S. and international community have found no way to dissuade Assad from using chemical weapons, in large part because Russia is protecting the regime militarily and when necessary, at the UN Security Council. Unless Russia pressures Assad to disarm, he will likely continue chemical weapons use with impunity

Read the full brief, with expert commentary by:

– Andy Weber, former assistant secretary of defense for nuclear, chemical and biological defense

– Rob Richer, former CIA chief of the Near East and South Asia division

– Adm. (ret.) Sandy Winnefeld, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

– Amb. Laura S. H. Holgate, former special assistant to the president for weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and threat reduction

Read all https://www.thecipherbrief.com/article/middle-east/trumps-red-line-moment-syria?utm_source=Join+the+Community+Subscribers&utm_campaign=0b3ba1f017-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_04_12&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_02cbee778d-0b3ba1f017-122492169&mc_cid=0b3ba1f017&mc_eid=7382055310



 No other U.S. officials have let slip any clues about imminent military action in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack on Douma, Syria, on Saturday, Reuters reports. “White House officials did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for more detail about Trump’s remarks. The U.S. Defense Department said it ‘does not comment on potential future military actions.'” (That’s the approach that Trump once espoused — e.g., this 2013 tweet slamming his predecessor for mooting a strike on Syria: “In war, the elememt [sic] of surprise is sooooo important.What the hell is Obama doing.”)

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/18/world/middleeast/us-airstrike-syrian-troops-isis-russia.html
  2. https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/374361164547100672
  3. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria/trump-signals-strikes-against-syria-lays-into-assad-ally-russia-idUSKBN1HI1BY


Get ready Russia, because [missiles] will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” President Trump tweeted this morning while the world awaits what would seem to be an imminent U.S.-involved strike on Syria regime positions. Trump’s warning-by-tweet then turned to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. “You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!”


Russia Blocks Full Investigation of Chemical Attacks on Douma


By Scott Lucas  – eaworldview – April 11, 2018 –  Russia blocks inquiry which can assign responsibility for attacks that killed 85+ on Saturday – UPDATE 1215 GMT: Continuing his abrupt shift against Russia and Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump threatens Moscow with a military attack on the Assad regime’s facilities:

UPDATE 1055 GMT: The World Health Organization says about 500 people were treated in Douma’s health facilities with “signs and symptoms consistent with exposure to toxic chemicals” after the Assad regime’s attacks on Saturday.“WHO demands immediate unhindered access to the area to provide care to those affected, to assess the health impacts and to deliver a comprehensive public health response,” Peter Salama, the Deputy Director General for emergency preparedness and response, said in Geneva.

UPDATE 1045 GMT: Showing concern over possible military action against the Assad regime — and rewriting Russia’s veto of a full inquiry into the chemical attacks on Douma — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said:  The situation around Syria is rather tense. You know about the disagreements on the topic of the alleged use of chemical weapons there. Russia absolutely disagrees with this and calls for an unbiased investigation before delivering verdicts.Hopefully, all countries will refrain from steps that, on the one hand, would be totally unwarranted and on the other hand, may exacerbate the already fragile situation in the region.

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If Trump Won’t Lead in Syria, Someone Else Will – By Kevin Baron Executive Editor – April 10, 2018 – DEFENSE ONE

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS OPINION SYRIA : “WHO IS IN CHARGE !?” – “Where is the international community?”

Unless the president can articulate and lead a plan, Syria’s future will be determined by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Once again, the world is waiting for the American president to punish Syria’s Bashar al-Assad for, once again, using chemical weapons on his civilians. And, once again, a chorus of Syria-war watchers is crying out: Where is the international community?

A quieter chorus of Americans are simply asking: Why are we there?

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MESOP NEWS : The Implications of the Syrian T-4 Air Base Bombing

Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira – JERUSALEM CENTER FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS

The aerial bombing of the Syrian air force base in the Palmyra region (T-4) struck an Iranian drone section of the base under exclusive Iranian command. At least seven Iranian army personnel were killed, one of whom held the rank of colonel and was responsible for the unit operating the drones.

Iranian Obituary

Iranian Obituary for Iranian Air Force colonel of the drone department.

It should be noted that this unit was also bombed at the beginning of February 2018, after it was determined that it had dispatched the Iranian drone that infiltrated Israeli airspace and was shot down.

In an unusual statement, the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman in Tehran announced four Iranians died in the aerial bombing, which it attributed to Israel. Details of seven dead servicemen were published on social media channels in Iran.

 Iranian soldiers killed in the bombing

Three of the Iranian soldiers killed in the bombing of the Syrian UAV base, T-4.

Initially, immediately after the attack, a Syrian military spokesman blamed the United States and claimed that it apparently acted in response to a chemical weapons bombardment of the civilian population in Douma. However, immediately afterward, the Syrian announcement was changed to accuse Israel of attacking the Syrian air force base.

On April 10, 2018, Ali Akbar Velayati, the top advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khameini, called the bombing raid on T-4 “Israel’s crime” and warned it “will not remain without response.” He made these remarks while visiting Damascus, underlining their importance. It is not clear, at this stage, whether he arrived immediately in the aftermath of the operation at T-4 or his visit was planned earlier. In any case, his visit will focus on Iranian-Syrian consultations about how they should respond and, as noted, Velayati stressed that what happened at T-4 will not remain without response.

In an unusual Russian announcement and in the absence of anyone taking responsibility for the aerial action, Moscow blamed Israel for carrying it out. The Russian Defense Ministry charged that two Israeli F-15 aircraft fired missiles from over Lebanese airspace.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov labeled the air strike “a dangerous development.”

Map of Syria

Map showing the T-4 airbase near Palmyra and Douma near Damascus.

The allegations from Tehran and Moscow that Israel carried out the aerial bombing and caused serious damage to the Iranian target raises the likelihood of a deterioration in the military situation between Iran and Israel. Iran may increase its attempts to strike at Israel via the Golan Heights using Hizbullah and Shiite proxies from the “Foreign Legion” that it established in Syria.

Eventually, this deterioration may spill over beyond Syria and lead to Iranian and Hizbullah attempts to strike at Israeli and Jewish targets outside the region.

About Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira

Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira is a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He served as Military Secretary to the Prime Minister and as Israel Foreign Ministry chief of staff. He edited the Jerusalem Center eBook Iran: From Regional Challenge to Global Threat.



Two options for strikes: “Dumayr air base, which is home to Syrian Mi-8 helicopters and has been linked in social media to the strike in Douma,” or “Humaymim Airfield in northwest Syria, which was singled out by the White House in a March 4 statement that identified it as the starting point for bombing missions by Russian military aircraft in Damascus and Eastern Ghouta.” No U.S. officials told Reuters even the vaguest of plans under discussion, only acknowledging Monday evening that “military options were being developed.”

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US, France, UK prepare air, navy units for sustained assault in Syria / DEBKA FILES ISRAEL INTEL

10 Apr 2018 – US President Donald Trump’s “major decision” on Syria is contingent on the rallying of sufficient air and naval strength and allied participation. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the only US warship immediately available for the promised US military response to Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons in Douma is the guided missile destroyer USS Donald Cook, which sailed from Larnaca Monday, April 9, on its way to the eastern Mediterranean. The USS Iwo Jima strike group, which visited Haifa last month, is now cruising in the Arabian Sea, days away from the scene, whereas the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group only departs the US port for the Middle East on Wednesday, April 11, and is not due in the Mediterranean before next week.

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Moscow turns against Israel, suspects its air strike in Syria was a feeler for a US offensive


9 April 2018 – DEBKA FILES ISRAELI INTEL  – Moscow’s tone towards Israel turned hostile on Monday, April 9, after its claim that the IDF conducted an air strike on the Syrian T-4 airbase that morning. This claim was in itself a departure from the Kremlin’s longstanding line of letting Israel’s military operations pass without comment. Stepping away from this custom, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that two Israeli F-15 fighter jets carried out a guided missile air strike on the T-4 air base in Homs from Lebanese air space. Syria was said to have shot down 5 out of the 8 missiles fired, while three landed in the western part of the base. The Moscow statement stressed: “There were no Russian advisers among those injured” – 14 in all, according to some sources.

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