Hezbollah has 10,000 men facing Israel’s Golan, claims commander

MESOP NEWS FOCUS : HEZBOLLAH READY TO DESTROY ISRAEL

Officer tells MEE battle-hardened force has used US-Russia ‘de-escalation’ plan in Syria to bolster new front facing Israel –  Hezbollah has capitalised on Syrian war to gain combat experience and influence (AFP) –  Mona Alami – Wednesday 20 September 2017 15:00 UTC – MIDDLE EAST EYE

Hezbollah is using a “de-escalation” deal brokered by Russia and the US to pour thousands of battle-hardened soldiers into southern Syria and entrench its positions for a possible confrontation with Israel, a commander told Middle East Eye.The commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were 10,000 Hezbollah fighters in areas along the disputed Golan Heights frontier, and that missile bases and tunnel networks were being built.

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MESOP NEWS : UNBELIEVABLY “FOREIGN POLICY” REPORT – Syrians Are Ready to Accept Bashar al-Assad as President

The war-weary country isn’t enthusiastic about its president, but desperate for a return to normalcy.

By Anchal Vohra – September 19, 2017 – ALEPPO, Syria — Seedra, Zahra, and Faedele draw in the debris with a stick, seemingly oblivious to the destruction surrounding them. The girls are sitting amid chunks of fallen concrete, collapsed pillars, and a caved-in roof in what was once the Shado Medo school in Aleppo’s Sheikh Saeed district.  “Have you come to rebuild our school?” Seedra asks.

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MESOP NEWS : YOUR AMERICAN FRIEND ! / PKK/PYD LOST RUSSIA & AMERICA – US opposes elections in Syria’s Kurdish enclaves

RUDAW  20 Sept 2017 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The United States explained that it does not support Kurdish independence in the greater region, as the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria, also known as Rojava, has elections scheduled for Friday.
US Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs for the State Department spoke to reporters in New York, as thousands of diplomats and foreign officials gather for the annual United Nations General Assembly.
He was asked about the partitioning of Syria and “their aspirations for independence being suppressed in multiple parts of the region.”

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MESOP NEWS : TRUMP HANDS SYRIA OVER TO IRAN

U.S. military closes outpost in southeastern Syria, ceding territory to Iranian proxies

Thomas Gibbons-Neff, The Washington Post – 20 Sept 2017 – WASHINGTON POST

The U.S. military acknowledged it has closed an outpost in southern Syria in recent days amid reports that American forces and their contingent of Syrian proxies had pulled out from an important base in the area.

The decision to vacate the outpost, a small barrier-walled compound just miles from the Syria-Iraq border called Zakaf, appeared to represent a tacit acknowledgement that U.S.-backed forces will now be in an increasingly difficult position to recapture a series of strategically important border towns where the Islamic State’s most senior leaders have been sighted in recent months.

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RUSSIA CROSSES THE EUPHRATES: IMPLICATIONS – by Andrew J. Tabler – Policy Alert – September 18, 2017

MESOP NEWS TODAYS GENERAL COMMENTARY BY ANDREW J. TABLER

 By helping Assad’s forces bridge the river, Moscow is increasing the risk of direct confrontation while obstructing U.S. efforts to defeat IS, stabilize eastern Syria, and limit Iranian arms transfers.

The Russian Ministry of Defense announced today that “Syrian government troops” crossed to the east bank of the Euphrates River using a Russian pontoon bridge and amphibious vehicles. Although the situation remains fluid, the crossing by what appeared to be elements of Syria’s Iranian-trained and Russian-supported “5th Corps” has deep implications for U.S. policy on the Islamic State (IS), the Syria war, and Iran.

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MESOP NEWS SPECIAL : The Growing Power of Water in Syria Samuel Northrup – FIKRA FORUM

Samuel Northrup is a research assistant in the Military and Security Studies Program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.  Also available in العربية  – September 12, 2017

Syria’s economic and political stability have long been predicated on a grand bargain of water access. Since Hafez al-Assad seized power in 1970, the Syrian government has manipulated public access to water for political ends. The regime uses water to buy and maintain loyalty, intimidate opponents, and fracture insurgencies, all in an effort to suppress and control the populace. While water has always been politicized in Syria, access to drinking and irrigation water will become an ever more powerful tool of the Assad government as global climate change exacerbates water scarcity in the Mediterranean.

Water and Loyalty

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MESOP NEWS BACKGROUNDER SYRIA : Hezbollah publicizes commander’s role in defending Deir Ezzor city

After pro-Syrian regime forces broke the siege of Deir Ezzor city this month, Lebanese Hezbollah media outlet Al Mayadeen released a rare interview with Hezbollah field commander “al Haj Abu Mustafa,” crediting the gray-haired, southern Lebanese native with playing a key role in leading the defense against the Islamic State.

The revelation highlights the instrumental roles of both Hezbollah and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) – backed by Russian air power – in crucial military victories for Syrian President Bashar al Assad. It also reflects an attempt by Hezbollah and the IRGC to shape the media narrative after their images have suffered this past month following a controversial deal to evacuate Islamic State fighters from their enclave in Lebanon to eastern Syria by the Iraqi border.

Before last week, the Sunni jihadists had besieged Deir Ezzor and the 137th Mechanized Army Base since July 2014. “A prominent commander of the resistance” – likely Abu Mustafa – arrived in Deir Ezzor in June 2016 to evaluate the situation on the ground in preparation for a military operation to lift the siege, according to an IRGC-affiliated media outlet. At the time, “resistance leaders” pushed to delay that operation until after the full conquer of Aleppo city. The article states Abu Mustafa was helping plan the defense of Deir Ezzor in November 2016. The following month, the pro-regime alliance succeeded in fully subduing Aleppo after a months-long bloody battle. Then, in January, the Islamic State cut the regime-held area in Deir Ezzor city in half, separating the military airport and tightening the siege. Abu Mustafa had a “prominent role” in defending the airport. The besieged forces had to wait nine months before reinforcements would arrive.

Before committing forces to a large-scale assault to reach Deir Ezzor, pro-regime forces had to first freeze the fighting against insurgent pockets in western Syria. The jihadist-led offensives in Hama and Damascus that began in March highlighted the fact that the pro-regime forces lacked the manpower to fully commit to both fronts. An offensive deep into the so-called caliphate would surely require a full commitment of resources. Russia played a crucial role in negotiating safe zones in western Syria, thus securing that front.

For the past several months, pro-regime forces have launched offensives from both the north and central Syria to reach Deir Ezzor. Participating forces have included Russian air and ground forces, Iranian-led Shiite militias such as Lebanese Hezbollah, pro-Assad Syrian militias such as the elite Tiger Forces, and the Syrian Arab Army, a shadow of its former self (see FDD’s Long War Journal report, Analysis: The Syrian regime’s offensive towards Deir Ezzor).

This month, the alliance reached Deir Ezzor, a milestone for the regime. Hezbollah and its allies held parades and hoisted their flags (see FDD’s Long War Journal report, IRGC-led Afghan militiamen hoist flags in Deir Ezzor city).

Last week, Hezbollah unveiled Abu Mustafa, who has commanded its forces in the city, according to IRGC-affiliated media outlets. He says Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah signed off on the interview, underscoring the importance of going public.

Abu Mustafa credited the “unity” of “all forces in the city” for withstanding the months-long siege. He said the victory would not have been possible without the Iran-Russia-Syria alliance.

“Hezbollah is the inseparable part of an axis that stretches from Iran to Syria and occupied Palestine,” said Abu Mustafa. Hezbollah’s deputy Secretary General, Maim Qassim, later said in a televised interview, “We wanted to say with the message of brother Abu Mustafa that we are part of the equation in the region, and Hezbollah is like a main partner in Lebanon’s victory.”

IRGC-affiliated outlet Mashregh News has published a detailed analysis of why Hezbollah chose to break protocol and reveal the field commander’s identity.“Hezbollah’s media game has changed,” Mashregh News reported. “He [Abu Mustafa] may have been martyred in a far away area after several years, and it would have been at that time that limited material would have been written about Deir Ezzor in a biography. But today, he is talking about an immediate event. In the war for the future of the region, we want to make public awareness a fundamental part of that war.”

The article called the revelation part of a concerted media strategy by “the resistance” to counter an alleged information campaign waged by “the American axis” to “damage and destroy” the “role of the resistance.” The article cited the controversy over last month’s Hezbollah agreement with the Islamic State to evacuate the latter’s forces from eastern Lebanon to Abu Kamal in eastern Syria and by the Iraqi border. In exchange, the Islamic State was to release several captives and bodies of fighters including a beheaded Iranian officer who has become a poster boy for the IRGC. Washington and Baghdad condemned the deal, and the US launched air strikes to disrupt the convoy. Widespread segments of the Iraqi public decried Hezbollah and allies for dumping more jihadists on their doorstep. That damaged the public image of pro-Iranian Iraqi militias and figures. As usual, IRGC media try to cover for failures by blaming real and imagined US-led efforts.Mashregh’s article claimed the supposed campaign to discredit Hezbollah and allies “forces the party to show more sides of the reality and the nature of its widespread role in Syria and Iraq against terrorist and takfiri groups.” It cited the battle for public opinion as “one of the needs of the post-DAESH [Islamic State] stage.”

Amir Toumaj is a Research Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

www.mesop.de

Northern Syria’s Anti-Islamic State Coalition Has an Arab Problem

WEST KURDISTAN (SYRIA) – MESOP NEWS INSIGHT: THE PKK/PYD PROBLEM IN NORTHERN SYRIA – ROJAVA  /  A CASE OF SECTARIANISM

Daniel Wilkofsky and Khalid Fatah – September 18, 2017 – WAR ON THE ROCKS

What holds the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) together? This is an important question, as Washington has thrown its support behind this coalition of politically disparate factions in the fight against ISIL. Indeed, the SDF reportedly now controls 60 percent of Raqqa — the collapsing caliphate’s self-proclaimed capital — in addition to most of northeast Syria.

SDF promotional material tells the story of a multi-ethnic band that strives together towards decentralized, participatory government, which would protect the rights of all ethnic groups without emphasizing their distinct identities. While it does count large numbers of Arabs among its ranks, the SDF is dominated by Kurds affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), itself an offshoot of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Even more than a shared vision for governance, or hatred of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, it is obedience to PYD authority that sits at the core of the coalition.

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MESOP NEWS ALARM ! – AN ASSAD WAR AGAINST KURDISH SDF-FORCES ON IT’S WAY !?

Syria Daily: Russian Jets Bomb US-Backed, Kurdish-Led SDF in East

By Scott Lucas – September 17, 2017 – eaworldview – Russian attack comes day after senior Assad advisor says regime-Kurdish battle is imminent

Pro-Assad forces have bombed the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Deir ez-Zor Province in eastern Syria.The SDF said six of its fighters were wounded in the strike before dawn on Saturday.“Our forces east of the Euphrates were hit with an attack from the Russian aircraft and Syrian regime forces, targeting our units in the industrial zone,” east of Deir ez-Zor city, the SDF said in a statement.The SDF accused Damascus of trying to obstruct its fighters and said such attacks “waste energies that should be used against terrorism … and open the door to side conflicts”.

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MESOP SYRIEN : ALT-IMPERIALISTISCHE LÖSUNG : Russland, Iran und Türkei teilen Syrien auf / Das Dreiländerland in vier Zonen

SPIEGEL ONLINE

17 Sept 2017 – Treffen sich ein Iraner, ein Türke und ein Russe in Syrien – was wie der Anfang eines Witzes klingt, soll bald Realität werden. Die drei Länder haben …

Russland, Iran und Türkei etablieren Sicherheitszonen in Syrien – Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten

Gegen al-Kaida: Russland, Iran & Türkei einigen sich auf Deeskalationszone in Syriens Idlib-Provinz – RT Deutsch

https://news.google.com/news/story/http%3A%2F%2Fwww.spiegel.de%2Fpolitik%2Fausland%2Fsyrien-russland-iran-und-tuerkei-vereinbaren-beobachtermission-a-1167867.html?hl=de

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