By Elijah J Magnier
July 04, 2018 “Information Clearing House” – After only two weeks since the beginning of the military operation, jihadists and militants in most of eastern rural Daraa in south Syria have either surrendered or were overwhelmed, the over 70 villages they occupied were liberated by the Syrian Army. Meanwhile, Israel has reduced its requests or conditions pronounced in the last two weeks: from launching threats against the approach of the Syrian Army towards the South, to menaces if Damascus pushes forces beyond the 1974 demarcation line and the disengagement agreement between Syria and Israel. This clearly means all players (the US, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia) have dropped the jihadists and militants they were training and are turning their back on them: they are now on their own.
For over seven years, Israel has invested intelligence, finance, military and medical supplies in these jihadists and their allies. On many occasions, Israel has said it prefers the “Islamic State” to Iranian forces on the borders. Many times, Israel showed images of jihadists – including those fighting under the flag of al-Qaeda – in Israeli hospitals, recovering from wounds inflicted during their clashes with the forces of Damascus. Today, it is clear that Israel’s intentions have been defeated when it can announce that for the Syrian army to cross the 1974 disengagement line it means crossing red lines. Israel is crying in the wilderness because the Syrian army has the intention and means to defeat all jihadists and militants who received supplies from foreign countries. It has never crossed Syria’s mind to start a new war with Israel before the Syrian territory (in the north) is liberated.
The Syrian allies are participating in the battle of the south of Syria as advisors and with backup (small) units to fill gaps only if the battle becomes critical on this or that front. So far, jihadists and militants are easily defeated and represent little resistance. There is little doubt how ISIS (the “Islamic State”, aka Jaish Khaled Bin al-Waleed), deployed on the 1975 disengagement line, will react because neither the Syrian Army nor Russia are offering a relocation to the terrorist group. Therefore, the only choice ISIS have in south Syria is to fight, surrender or be allowed to cross into Israel, since for years the Israeli Army has been cohabiting with ISIS beautifully. The number of terrorists is estimated at between 1500 and 2000, a relatively small number when we consider that the Syrian Army faced tens of thousands in al-Yarmouk, rural Homs, al-Badiya, Deir-ezzour and Albukamal in the north and north east- and they wiped them out completely.
The Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has disregarded any Israeli threat related to the participation of Iranian advisors and Hezbollah Special forces in the battle of south of Syria. Actually, Russia understands the necessity of the presence of Damascus’ allies on the ground, so the operation is fully supported and success is guaranteed. Moreover, Moscow has seen Hezbollah and Iranian advisors pulling out from every single battle when the Syrian army prevails and whenever Damascus considered the area safe enough to take over completely. Therefore, President Putin can guarantee to his US counterpart Donald Trump (and he already did guarantee this to his Israeli visitors last month in Moscow) that no Iranian or Hezbollah advisors shall remain behind on Israeli borders (the wish of the Syrian central government). That was sufficient for Trump to inform Israel that the US has no reasons to believe it is facing any dangerfrom the Syrian Army on its borders.
For almost 45 years, Damascus didn’t engage in any serious attack against Israel starting from the 1974 disengagement line bordering the occupied Golan heights. There can be no comparison between the presence of the Syrian regular forces and the presence of the terrorist group, ISIS, on the Israeli occupied Golan heights. In fact, it will be impossible for President Trump to defend Israel’s case to protect ISIS regardless how close the terrorist group and Israel are following years of being “good neighbours” – and attack the Syrian army wishing to recover its own territory and totally eliminate the presence of ISIS from the south of Syria.
What is remaining in the south of Syria is only a tactical battle. It will intensify on one front and will be smooth on the other. The battle is reaching its first objective to clear eastern Daraa, in the coming days, and to secure the Naseeb border crossing between Jordan and Syria that helps both countries to recover some hundreds of millions of dollars yearly from their trade and commerce.
In the second phase, the west of Daraa and Quneitra, the Syrian army will push its forces towards south-west Daraa to clear jihadists standing on the way between the Syrian army and where ISIS is located. There is no specific time allocated for the ending of the battle. Nevertheless, the result of the battle is easily predictable: the Syrian army will regain control of Syrian territory, particularly the city of Daraa where all countries involved in “regime change” (Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the US, the UK, Qatar) initiated their flow of weapons and finance for the south. They have managed to achieve only the destruction of the Levant ($300 billions are needed to rebuild Syria), the death of around 400,000 persons, and millions of displaced persons and refugees.
Is the US-Kurdish Alliance Over? New Agreement Between Kurds and Assad Could Spell End for U.S. Role in Syria
The agreement came as a result of recent negotiations between Kurdish and Syrian government officials in both Damascus and Qamishli.
AMASCUS, SYRIA — For over a year, much of northeastern Syria has found itself under de facto occupation by the United States and its military proxy, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The occupied territory, accounting for nearly a third of Syria’s total landmass and including large portions of the al-Hasakah, al-Raqqa and Deir Ez-Zor regions, has largely been overseen by the SDF, an umbrella group of militias dominated by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which allied with the U.S. early in the conflict.
While the SDF has seemingly had complete control of the occupied territory — which boasts most of Syria’s oil, gas, freshwater and agricultural resources — it seems that increased local resistance to the SDF’s control of the region, as well as the U.S.’ failure to protect its allies elsewhere in Syria, has now pushed the YPG to reconsider its alliance with the United States and instead consider allying with the Syrian government, led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The clearest indication yet that the YPG’s relationship with the Syrian government is set to change dramatically came on Monday, when Al Masdar News reported that the YPG and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) had reached a preliminary agreement in the al-Hasakah region that is set to lead to increased SAA influence in areas under YPG control. Per the agreement, the YPG has announced that it will remove all posters of Abdullah Ocalan — one of the founding members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is associated with the YPG — from areas under its control and will also allow the SAA to reopen recruitment offices throughout the region. The agreement came as a result of recent negotiations between Kurdish and Syrian government officials in both Damascus and Qamishli.
However, this agreement is hardly the end of future YPG and SAA cooperation in the area, as negotiations continue. As Al Masdar noted, new talks between the two groups are currently underway with the aim of establishing joint YPG/SAA checkpoints throughout the al-Hasakah region.
The agreements are part of a wider effort by the Syrian government to convince Kurdish factions in Syria’s northeast to abandon their alliance with the United States. Those negotiations are aimed at convincing the Kurds to join forces with the SAA throughout Syria and to give control of key border crossings into Iraq and Turkey to the SAA.
In exchange, the Syrian government has offered to include the Kurdish language in the Syrian educational system, consider military service in the YPG as analogous to service in the SAA, and create a permanent post for a Kurdish official in the Syrian state oil ministry.
The unprecedented negotiations between the YPG and Syrian government come less than a month after local tribes of the al-Hasakah, Aleppo and al-Raqqa regions met in the Syrian government-controlled city of Deir Hafer. During that meeting, over 70 tribes — whose territory is either partially or entirely under occupation by the United States and the SDF — expressed their commitment to rejoining the Syrian state, re-establishing Syrian territorial integrity, and creating a joint military force with the SAA that would seek to expel foreign troops and militants from Syria. During that meeting, it was announced that this joint military force would directly target SDF and U.S. forces in Syria’s occupied northeast.
The formation of this military force followed smaller-scale efforts launched earlier this year by guerilla-style resistance groups in occupied Syria, particularly in the city of Raqqa, where local fighters targeted U.S. military installments in and around the city earlier this year.
However, growing local resistance to Kurdish and U.S. rule is only part of what motivated the YPG to consider an alliance with the Syrian government. Another major reason is the fact that Assad recently asserted that the Syrian government would soon turn its attention towards “liberating” northeastern Syria from the SDF and the U.S. by force if efforts to negotiate with the Kurdish-majority SDF failed.
In an interview with RT, Assad stated:
We’re going to use two methods to deal with the SDF: The first one, we started opening doors for negotiations – because the majority of them are Syrians. And supposedly they like their country, they don’t like being puppets to any foreigners – that’s what we suppose. […] We all don’t trust the Americans, [so] the one option is to live with each other as Syrians.”
If negotiations with the SDF fail, Assad warned that the Syrian army would have no choice but to “liberate” areas occupied by the SDF, “with the Americans, or without the Americans.” Assad emphasized this point, stating:
This is our land, it’s our right, it’s our duty to liberate [these areas], and the Americans should leave. Somehow, they’re going to leave.”
The reality of allying with the U.S.
In addition to Assad’s vow to “liberate” northeastern Syria from the SDF regardless of the U.S. presence in the region, the U.S.’ recent abandonment of its allies elsewhere in Syria bodes poorly for the future of the YPG-U.S. alliance that has made the occupation of northeastern Syria possible.
When the Syrian government’s offensive to retake the Dara’a region in southern Syria was announced last month, the U.S. government warned that it would respond “decisively” in order to protect the “rebel” groups in the area, some of which are funded and supported by the U.S. However, soon after the offensive began, the U.S. backed out of its promise to its allied groups in the region, warning them not to expect any assistance from the U.S. in repelling the Syrian government offensive. As a result, the offensive is expected to result in a major victory for the Syrian government.
For the U.S.-allied Kurds in the northeast of Syria, the Dara’a offensive is a strong indication that the U.S. is hardly a dependable ally. Particularly after the Kurds lost the city of Afrin after the U.S. failed to aid the YPG in repelling a Turkish offensive earlier this year, many Kurds felt “betrayed” by the U.S. and began to question the YPG-U.S. alliance outright. Now, with the U.S. failing to protect its allies elsewhere in Syria, the Kurds seem to have all the indications they need that the U.S. is unlikely to offer them military protection against the Turks or the Syrian government.
The new agreement between the Kurds and the Syrian government is a major indication that U.S. influence in Syria is quickly waning and that its control over Northeastern Syria could soon be lost. Though the Trump administration seems to have accepted that it is only a matter of time until it is ousted from Syria, rumored efforts by the U.S. to deepen its involvement in the country — such as by using a false-flag chemical weapons attack as pretext — could throw a wrench into the Syrian government’s efforts to restore Syria’s territorial integrity and prevent the long-standing, U.S.-backed goal of partitioning Syria.
Kurdish Forces Willing to Cooperate with Damascus to Expel Turkey from Northern Syria
Field sources referred to the Turkish army’s continued occupation of Northern Syria, and said that the Kurdish forces fully agree with the Syrian government’s position to drive them out of occupied lands.
Meantime, Sihanouk Dibo, a senior adviser to the Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim in Qamishli, told the Arabic website of RT news channel on Tuesday that Turkey continues its occupation of Afrin, Jarabulus, al-Bab and certain areas in Idlib in Northern Syria, stressing the need for cooperation between the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the Damascus government to retake sovereignty of Syrian territories.
Meantime, analysts said that the Turkish army’s occupation of Northern Syria means interfering in another country’s affairs, and meantime increases tensions in the region.
Earlier reports said that the Turkish army has declared the need for trading in Turkish lira in the towns of A’azaz and al-Bab in occupied Northern Aleppo, adding that Turkish ID cards have also been issued for the residents of Afrin region as refugees.
The Syrian government has several times announced that the presence of foreign forces in the Syrian territories without Damascus agreement was illegal and they are considered as occupying forces.
Local sources reported on Monday that Ankara has embarked on issuing mandatory Turkish identity cards for Syrian residents in the occupied Afrin region in Northwestern Aleppo as Turkey announced earlier that it will continue military presence in Northern Syria.
The sources said that the Ankara-backed forces are making industrious efforts to issue Turkish identity cards for the residents of the occupied town of Afrin.
The sources further said that residents of Afrin are referred as refugees in these identity cards, adding that but residents of Afrin are allowed to use their Syrian identity cards for now.
The sources went on to say that the Ankara forces have embarked on erecting checkpoint at the entrances of Afrin to register identity details of Arabs and Kurds to issue new Turkish identity cards for them.
The Ankara forces have threatened to burn the houses of all those who refuse to cooperate with them in this new ID plan.
In the meantime, Spokesman for the Turkish Foreign Ministry Hami Aksoy claimed that the Turkish forces will continue their presence in Afrin on a temporary basis.
The Kurdish-language Hawar news reported in May that the Turkish army forced the terrorist groups affiliated to Ankara to put on military uniforms with Turkish flag patches to represent Turkey in their regions.
It added that the Turkish army also replaced all flags in the occupied territories with the Turkish flag, noting that the Ankara-backed terrorist groups take order from the Turkish army.