Russian mediation in Syria fails
Thai News Service, September 7, 2021
Syria/Russia: Syria Resumes Pounding Militants’ Positions in Dara’a After Russia-Mediated Deal Fails
Body The Syrian military renewed its attacks against the last militant enclave in the Southwestern city of Dara’a following the collapse of a Russian-mediated deal to restore government rule in the area and end the presence of militants there. The Syrian military stated on Sunday that it had prepared buses for the evacuation of militants opposed to the deal to a Northwestern part of Syria, which is under the control of Turkish-backed Takfiri militants. “We insist on full army control and no return back to the state of lawlnessness and chaos that prevailed,” an unnamed army spokesman told Reuters, accusing the militants of reneging on their pledges. According to local negotiators, several thousand former militants and their families insisted that they would only leave to Turkey and Jordan, countries seen as safe sanctuaries. Russia has been mediating a new deal to end the recent fighting in Dara’a, in which militants who reject the deal will have to leave the region. The negotiations started late on Tuesday to prevent bloody urban warfare, a day after the two sides exchanged tit-for-tat machine gunfire. However, the deal collapsed on Friday after disagreements over the extent of the Syrian military control over the Dara’a Al-Balad’s neighborhoods as well as disarming former militants. Adnan Al-Masalameh, spokesman for the Dara’a Al-Balad negotiation committee, told Reuters that the new demands presented by the Syrian government and the Russians are impossible, adding\xA1 “We reached a dead-end. On Monday, the Syrian military conducted retaliatory strikes on Dara’a, after the armed terrorists holed up in the area launched deadly attacks against army soldiers and civilians. The terrorists targeted residential neighborhoods and army checkpoints in Dara’a, killing four soldiers and injuring 15 others. The militants reportedly used rockets, mortar shells, machine guns and snipers in their raids. On the same day, Syrian army units deployed in the vicinity of the Dara’a Al-Balad district responded to the terrorist attacks. The retaliatory operation included artillery and rocket fire on the positions from where terrorists fired shells, according to SANA. In 2018, the Syrian Army, backed by Russia and Iran, wrested control of Dara’a province, which borders Jordan and is close to the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Under a Russian-mediated deal, thousands of Western-sponsored militants handed over their heavy weapons but maintained grip on Dara’a Al-Balad. Since late July, however, the militants have intensified their attacks targeting residential areas. In response, the government forces have imposed a siege on Dara’a Al-Balad, but opened a corridor for civilians to leave. Terror outfits are seeking to hinder the government’s efforts aimed at consolidating security and stability in Dara’a and terrorists keep using locals as human shields. The establishment of full government control over Dara’a is highly important because it borders the occupied Golan Heights which Israel has used to treat wounded terrorists fighting against the Syrian government since 2011. The territory’s return to Syrian government control could cut the much-reported collaboration between Israel and the militants and accordingly deal a blow to Tel Aviv’s plans to annex the Golan Heights. Syria has been gripped by foreign-sponsored militancy since March 2011. Damascus says the Western states and their regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups that are wreaking havoc in the Arab country. -FNA
Non-unique: Russian aggression in Syria now
Mehmet Ace, 9 -16 September 2021, Is Putin prepping the ground for another attack on Idlib after Assad’s visit?, https://www.yenisafak.com/en/columns/mehmetacet/is-putin-prepping-the-ground-for-another-attack-on-idlib-after-assads-visit-3580355
The crisis in Idlib has been at the bottom of the global agenda for quite some time now, the reason being that the once-prevailing atmosphere of conflict was followed by a relatively calm period thanks to the ceasefire that went into effect on March 5, 2020. However, in recent days, harbingers have begun to emerge indicating that this 1.5-year-old calm may be about to end. Last Saturday, three Turkish soldiers were martyred in an attack carried out during a reconnaissance operation in the Idlib de-escalation zone. A new splinter group that is said to be linked to Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack, but it is unclear whether they were actually behind it. Moreover, Russian airstrikes in the region have intensified. Another reason that makes it necessary to put the focus back on Idlib is that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s joined press statement with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad at the Kremlin took veiled jabs at Turkey. Assad’s visit to Moscow was not announced in advance, similar to his previous visits, probably because it proved far too risky security-wise. Everyone learned that Assad went to Moscow only after the statements made by the Kremlin and Damascus on Tuesday. In his press statement with Assad, Putin babbled on about “foreign armed forces,” and without mentioning names, also took jabs at Turkey’s presence in Syria: “The main problem, in my view, is that foreign armed forces remain in certain regions of the country without the approval of the United Nations and without your permission [addressing Bashar al-Assad], which clearly runs counter to international law. Hotbeds of resistance from terrorists who not only control part of the territory but also continue to terrorize civilians is another problem.” There is no point in dwelling too much on these statements. To counter threats from Syria in compliance with international law, Turkey carried out its cross-border operations, relying on the clear provisions of the United Nations agreement that stipulates the “right to self-defense.” The main reason for Ankara’s presence in Syria is “border security.” Let’s move on. Reading between the lines of Putin’s statements is much more consequential at this point. Before the ceasefire went into effect on March 5, 2020, more precisely in February 2020, Turkish Armed Forces in Idlib were targeted in a bombardment, in which 34 of our soldiers were martyred, and in response to this, a retaliatory swarm drone attack was launched, in the aftermath of which heavy losses were incurred by the Assad regime. What I want to draw your attention to is the fact that Putin had visited Damascus in January 2020, right before these clashes erupted. During that visit, which was made to exhibit that Damascus is now “a place you can go to,” it must have been decided that the Assad regime should take action to seize control over the remainder of the country, since those attacks aimed at breaking Turkey’s resistance in the Idlib region were launched just a month later. Taking this into account, we will be able to ascertain whether a similar decision was made at this last meeting in Moscow, through a number of new developments that may unfold in Idlib over the coming period. Is Putin’s aforementioned statement in which he took aim at Turkey simply a “reiteration of his position”? Or was the ground laid for another attack during the Moscow meeting? As I said, after this meeting, we’ll need to closely monitor the developments on the ground in Idlib for a while to discern whether such a plan has indeed been made. Circles I spoke to in Ankara who are familiar with these topics do not see such a scenario as “highly likely,” as Turkey’s harsh and effective operation with combat drone swarms in February 2020 is still fresh in their minds. It would be wrong to think that Ankara, which has just announced to the world that it “is no longer able to take in even a single refugee,” will abandon its determined stance against a new possible exodus from Idlib, where nearly four million people are currently concentrated. However, the stark contrast between the positions of both Ankara and Moscow regarding the “final scenario” in the Syrian is also no secret. A few years ago, when Idlib topped the world’s agenda, a senior Turkish official I spoke to stressed that “there is no common approach to the endgame” with Russia. This remains unchanged even today. Turkey’s and Russia’s approaches to Syria’s future and their visions for it stand in stark contrast to each other in several areas at the end of the day. This brings with it a volatile atmosphere that could snowball at any given moment.
Russia. Fighting the US in Syria now
Press TV, September 15, 2021, Russia: US seeking ‘de facto partition’ of Syria through occupation
A US IFV convoy patrols near the village of Tal Alo, in the Yarubiyah district of Syria’s northeastern Hasakah province near the M4 highway, on November 18, 2020. (Photo by AFP) Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov has denounced the illegal US military presence in Syria, warning that Washington is actually seeking to disintegrate the Arab country. In an interview with RT Arabic on Tuesday, Ryabkov stressed that Moscow is opposed to the American “scenario of a de facto partition of Syria.” “One of the main reasons for the instability and continuation of the conflict in Syria is the illegal presence of the United States in the country,” he said. “I think that in their arsenal there is a scenario of a de facto partition of Syria. We are against this and are acting in accordance with the existing resolutions of the UN Security Council, which has confirmed the territorial integrity of Syria.” Russia has been helping Syrian forces in the ongoing battles across the conflict-plagued state, mainly providing aerial support to ground operations against foreign-backed terrorists. Iran has also been offering advisory military assistance to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at its official request. However, the US has deployed forces and military equipment in Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. Washington has long been collaborating with anti-Damascus terrorists and stealing Syria’s crude resources, ignoring repeated calls by Damascus to end its occupation of the country. Currently, about 900 American troops remain stationed in an expanse of northeastern Syria that is controlled by Kurdish militants. Ryabkov’s remarks came one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin received Assad for the first time since 2018 and criticized illegal foreign forces operating in Syria – a rebuke of the United States and Turkey. Putin criticizes foreign forces in Syria at Kremlin meet with AssadPresident Assad meets Putin on a surprise visit to Russia, and is told that the unsanctioned presence of foreign forces hinders the consolidation of the Arab country “The main problem, in my view, is that foreign armed forces remain in certain regions of the country without the approval of the United Nations and without your permission,” a Kremlin statement quoted Putin as saying during the meeting. It “clearly runs counter to international law” and “undermines your ability to use your best efforts to consolidate the country and promote recovery at a pace that would have been possible if the legitimate government controlled the entire country,” he added. Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses: Putin increases pressure on US over Syria; Russia attacks American troop presence as obstacle to peace and a ‘violation of international law’
Russia opposed to US troops in Syria
Telegraph Media, 9-15, 21,
VLADIMIR PUTIN has said American troops are a barrier to peace in Syria, calling their presence there “a violation of international law” in what is seen as a challenge to the Joe Biden administration after its Afghan withdrawal. The Russian president hit out at the last US military deployment in a Middle East war zone in a rare meeting in Moscow with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad. Mr Putin was referring to roughly 900 US soldiers stationed in eastern Syria to support Kurdish-led forces, fighting the Islamic State group, as well as Turkish forces protecting a buffer zone on Syria’s northern border. Russian troops in Syria are there at the invitation of Assad’s regime but the American and Turkish forces have neither permission from Damascus to be there nor any mandate from the Security Council of the United Nations. “This clearly violates international law and doesn’t allow you to make maximum efforts to consolidate the country,” Mr Putin was quoted as telling Mr Assad in a Kremlin statement released after Monday’s meeting. “Only a consolidation of all forces in Syria will allow the country to get on its feet and start steady development,” he said. Russia’s intervention in Syria’s civil war in 2015 helped tip the balance in favour of President Assad at a time when his forces were close to defeat. Mr Assad has since emerged victorious from the decade-old war and has won a fourth presidential term after elections that were described as neither free nor fair by Western governments earlier this year. After the disastrous US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Mr Putin may now be looking to focus attention on the ambiguity of the US presence in Syria, said Neil Quilliam, an associate fellow in the Middle East and North Africa programme at the Chatham House think tank. “Putin will have taken heart at Biden’s message on serving only vital US interests and will likely calculate that Syria no longer, if ever, fitted that category,” he said. Mr Biden pulled US forces from Afghanistan as part of a plan to pivot to counter China’s growing influence and it has raised questions over the future of the US military in Iraq and Syria. The US justifies its presence in Syria as necessary for self-defence against Islamic State (IS), arguing that Damascus and its allies are unwilling or unable to counter the radical Islamist threat. Former US president Donald Trump had at times indicated that American forces would remain to prevent Iran or Damascus from taking over areas that had been retaken from IS, while at other times he claimed to be withdrawing from Syria entirely. Mr Putin may now go further in seeking to gauge the Biden administration’s ongoing interest in the region, Mr Quilliam said. The last of America’s 2,500 troops in Iraq are scheduled to leave by the end of the year. “Given Putin’s track record of testing US appetite for push back, notably in Crimea, we can expect him to test the resolve of Biden’s commitment to allies in Syria by fomenting clashes with American troops,” he predicted. Barack Obama’s former ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, has criticised the deployment. “I don’t think it’s worth it,” he told the Los Angeles Times. Islamic State “is largely contained and not in a position to threaten the US homeland or even send fighters to Europe”, he said. Monday’s meeting between the Russian and Syrian leaders was a rare trip abroad for Mr Assad and his first public visit to Moscow since 2015. The two allies held a summit in Damascus last January and also met in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in 2017. It later emerged that after the meeting in the Kremlin, several members of Mr Putin’s entourage tested positive for Covid-19 and the Russian leader went into self-isolation. Option of dividing Syria still on table in Washington, Russia opposes it – diplomat ITAR-TASS
Russia opposes current US efforts to divide Syria
TASS, September 15, 2021
Highlight: The United States still keeps on table the option of de-facto dividing Syria, Russia is opposing such plans, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said in an interview with RT Arabic.
Russia opposes the US in Syria now
Thai News Service, 9-16, 21, United States/Syria/Russia: Presence of US Troops in Eastern Syria Is ‘De Facto Partition’
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov warned Tuesday that the continued presence of American troops in Eastern Syria amounts to a de facto partition of the country. “One of the main reasons for the instability and continuation of the conflict in Syria is the illegal presence of the United States in the country,” Ryabkov told RT Arabic on Tuesday.
Multiple blows to US-Russian relations
Igor Istomin |Associate Professor at the Department of Applied International Political Analysis, 9-1, https://www.europeanleadershipnetwork.org/commentary/with-russian-american-detente-moving-forward-is-there-a-place-for-europe/ , With Russian-American entente moving forward, is there a place in Europe?
The Geneva summit between Putin and Biden did not bring a sudden transformation in Russian – American relations. In fact, the announcement of the new US sanctions only days later reaffirmed their confrontational character. Even the low-hanging fruit of restoring diplomatic presence failed to materialise as Moscow implemented its previously announced ban on local staff in the US mission. At the same time, Washington delayed the processing of visas for Russian diplomats, threatening to expel Embassy personnel whose authorisations were expiring.
Non-unique – US pressure on the Ukraine encircles Russia and triggers reaction
Joseph Choi, 9-2, 21, The Hill, Kremlin: US military assistance could ’cause unpredictable actions’ by Ukraine, https://thehill.com/policy/international/russia/570527-kremlin-us-military-assistance-could-cause-unpredictable-actions
A Kremlin spokesperson on Thursday raised concerns about the U.S. offering military assistance to Ukraine, saying such actions could make the Eastern European country behave unpredictably and “can only be a cause for regret.” “We believe this could potentially cause unpredictable actions by the Ukrainian side in terms of attempting to resolve the … Ukrainian conflict … by force. This is very dangerous,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters. Peskov added, “To put it simply, we’re talking about a Ukrainian-American friendship against Russia. That is to say, they’re friends not for themselves, but against Russia. This … can only be a cause for regret.” During a meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and President Biden reportedly focused much of their discussion on countering Russian aggression. Before their meeting, the Biden administration announced the U.S. was pledging $60 million in military aid to Ukraine. “Russia’s buildup along the Ukrainian border has highlighted capability shortfalls in the Ukrainian military’s ability to defend against a Russian incursion,” Biden said in a notification to Congress. “Ukraine’s significant capability gaps must be urgently addressed to reinforce deterrence in light of the current Russian threat.” Fighting between Moscow-backed separatists and Ukrainian soldiers resumed in March, ending a cease-fire that had been reached last year. The buildup of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border earlier this year elicited widespread condemnation from NATO partners. In April, the U.S. sent two warships into the Black Sea in apparent response to the heightening tensions at the border, though the Pentagon characterized this measure as a common action. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin similarly affirmed U.S. military support for Ukraine against Russian aggression this week. “You can count on our continued support in the face of Russian aggression to help Ukraine realize its Euro-Atlantic aspirations in support of a more secure, prosperous and democratic and free Ukraine,” Austin said to Zelensky during a meeting Tuesday.