Syraq SITREP 40: From Salisbury to Syria

Was the Novichok Poisoning of Sergey Skripal a Dirty Deep State Back Up Plan After Chemical False Flags Planned for Ghouta to Justify U.S. Strikes on Damascus Failed to Go Off?

As many in the new and alternative media rightly suspect, the driver of allegations Her Majesty's Government demands be taken seriously but refuses to offer compelling evidence for (including the presumably near death medical condition of a Russian citizen and resident of Moscow, Yulia Skripal) seems to be found far beyond Old Blighty. The desire to accuse Putin of something shortly before he easily wins what's expected to be a fourth and final term in office Sunday, or of somehow getting FIFA to cancel the World Cup to be hosted this summer in the Russian Federation -- both seem insufficient motives to explain the present hysterics. Something bigger and much more important to 'the cabal' seems to have been in the works that the Russians, and standing behind them the Chinese, are blocking.

Unless a planned economic shock to the rotten, tottering Western fiat currencies-led financial order is imminent, as London Paul suggested during his appearances on RogueMoney this week, the Russian Analyst's conclusion is that the Salisbury event (or non-event false flag blamed on Russia) is mostly about Syria. Namely, that the Salisbury event may have been a hastily arranged 'back up plan' after major chemical false flag attacks planned to justify direct U.S. bombing of Syrian government forces and their embedded Russian advisers failed.

The fact that Sergey Skripal's daughter was visiting him from Moscow and may have been willing to convey a message on behalf of her father to the Russian authorities concerning Sergey's involvement in generating fake kompromat about Trump for Christopher Steele and the 'ex' MI6 men at Orbis Business Intelligence could have hastened their poisoning. Regardless, likely due to superb Russian intelligence and Syrian government infiltration of the Saudi-funded jihadist organizations tasked with carrying out the chemical false flags, and with the Tiger Forces advancing rapidly to carve up militant controlled territory in Ghouta, the big false flag planned for the Damascus exurbs didn't happen. Instead, a handful of alleged chlorine poisoning incidents occurred that could not be substantiated amidst heavy conventional fighting in urban and semi-urban terrain.

Rapid Tiger Forces Advance, Russian/Syrian Intelligence Seemingly Foil Chemical False Flag

The Syrian Arab Army claim to have captured a jihadi chlorine chemical facility set up in an old factory warehouse, which may have been used to stage the attacks. As of Saturday the Associated Press reports the SAA has captured 70% of the formerly rebel (including Al-Qaeda and ISIS linked terrorists) pocket east of Damascus. Tens of thousand have fled the fighting, taking advantage of safe corridors established by the SAA and monitored by Russian drones (which presumably, are also loitering to watch the front lines for any jihadi planted chemical bombs). The only military success the jihadis could claim as some of their young men presumably ditched their trenches and fled among civilian refugees was the shoot down of a Syrian government helicopter by one of their few remaining 'Osa' SAM systems captured from the Syrian Army in 2012-13.

The Russian Defense Ministry's repeated warnings about an imminent collection of false flag chemical attacks to be blamed on Damascus and used as a pretext for American bombing of the Syrian capitol likely also played a role. The Skripal case of course overshadowed Moscow's warnings to the Americans in the U.S. and UK media, with only a few outlets reporting Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov's vow to defend Russian forces embedded with Syrian units if they came under attack with anti-air and possible anti-shipping strikes on US Air Force attackers and perhaps, Tomahawk-launching U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean.

Gerasimov's public warnings and his conversation with counterpart U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford came after Defense Secretary James Mattis and more explicitly, crazed neocon UN Ambassador Nikki Haley warned of American military action if the Syrian government continued to use chemical weapons or commit atrocities in bombing Ghouta. Not content merely to threaten a country backed by the Russia/China alliance, the deranged Haley also warned that the Russian chemical attack in the UK could be repeated on the streets of New York City.

In its briefing at the end of the week, the Russian Defense Ministry did not let up on warning the Americans against staging any chemical provocations. It claimed specifically that U.S. special forces or CIA were aiding jihadis with training on how to stage chemical attacks at the al-Tanf base in southeastern Syria, close to the Jordanian border.

Putin's March 1, 2018 Warning as a Deterrent Against Major American Aggression Against Damascus?

While we don't know the most decisive factor in deterring further American aggression (so far) against the Syrian government, it seems Vladimir Putin's speech of March 1 was used both to unveil weapons systems long in development and in response to Russian intelligence regarding an imminent false flag facilitated American strike on Damascus. Putin's emphasis on hypersonic weaponry that U.S. Navy AEGIS and land-based ballistic missile defense systems cannot hope to intercept-- especially the operational on Russia's Southern Military District MiG31 jets [and supposedly Iskander derived] Khinzal system -- was no accident. As London Paul says, timing is everything and Putin declared he does not bluff. Just in case anyone at the Pentagon doubted the operational status of the Mach 8 and 1,200 mile striking range capable missile, the Russian Defense Ministry prominently displayed a Khinzhal test from a MiG31 days after Putin's speech, and the test was also featured on the English language network RT.

For Moscow, creating uncertainty in the mind of the aggressor -- even if the BUK or Pantsir SAMs engaging US jets near Damascus would be flying Syrian and not Russian flags while manned by Russian crews [as happened frequently during the Vietnam War] -- is deterrence. It's one thing for members of the Trump Administration like Haley who have no concept of military realities to imagine further American impunity in striking Damascus. It's another thing for competent professionals like CJCS Dunford to tell the neocons in the Administration that they cannot expect to carry out serious strikes in populated portions of Syria closer to Russian bases on the Med without anticipating losses. Including not just downed pilots but, as the serious injury to an Israeli Air Force F16 pilot in February showed, casualties among US aviation personnel too. Which leads us to the subject of American casualties and the end of illusions regarding a riskless U.S. partition of Syria together with the Turks.

HH60 Blackhawk Down at the Syraq Border and the Risks of Further American Casualties

The crash of an HH60 Blackhawk helicopter last week, which claimed the lives of seven U.S. servicemen [several of them National Guardsmen with civilian jobs] was not due to ground fire along the Syria-Iraq border. Nonetheless, the risk that man portable surface to air missiles either in ISIS hands or deployed by Hezbollah aligned Shi'a militia infiltrators could take down American choppers in the mostly desert, U.S. maintained zone of occupation east of the Euphrates is real. As are the risks of planted IEDs or anti-tank missile ambushes of American soldiers operating alongside Kurdish SDF units near the agreed deconfliction line with pro-Damascus forces.

As we've noted previously here at RogueMoney, Iraqi Shi'a militiamen have not lost their memories of fighting American occupiers in Baghdad back in the mid-2000s Sadr City battles, nor would Hezbollah lack Iraqi volunteers [including a few Kurdish speakers] for such missions targeting American personnel in eastern Syria. Thus even if Washington resorted to the standby from April 2017 of warning Russian forces to get out of the way before striking Syrian government bases, Moscow could still greenlight its Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah allies hitting back via guerrilla warfare. And the last thing President Trump who campaigned against George W. Bush's invasion and occupation of Iraq wants is to have American soldiers dying in Syria in similar fashion to what was happening in Mesopotamia from 2003-2007.

Media Staging for False Flag Battles Between U.S. Troops and 'Russians' in Syria?

However, we still see a propaganda campaign advanced in the usual suspect outlets like NBC News and Business Insider claiming U.S. troops engaged in a 'massive battle' that slaughtered 300 Russian mercenaries of the company 'Wagner' on Feb. 7-8. As Der Spiegel reported on March 2, the actual number of dead Russian combatants was likely a dozen or less, and it isn't at all clear if the Russian private military contractors even knew American troops were present in the Kurdish SDF held oil field their Syrian client wanted seized:

US troops in Syria are digging in and preparing for future attacks after a massive battle played out in the country's east that ended with up to 300 Russian mercenaries killed by US artillery and airpower.

Reporting from the ground in Syria, NBC News' Richard Engel and Kennet Werner spoke to Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga, whose forces beat back the pro-Syrian government advance on a well known US position near valuable oilfields.

The Pentagon said the pro-Syrian forces, including many Russians hired by private military contractors, made an "unprovoked attack" on their positions with artillery fire. The US response included airstrikes and artillery shelling that sources say wiped out much of the advancing column in just minutes.

"Those artillery rounds could have landed and killed Americans, and that's why we continue to prepare our defenses," Braga, who directs the US-led operations against ISIS, told NBC News.

Braga also confirmed that it was largely Russian nationals that took part in the fighting, though the Kremlin denies this.

But despite the overwhelming victory that saw zero casualties on the US side, Braga said he's "absolutely concerned" about further clashes in the future.

After the massive battle, Russian job listing sites were seen as advertising security work in Syria, in what is likely a recruitment play for more mercenaries. A man claiming to recruit Russians to work as private military contractors said that the recruits he now met were joining up to take revenge on the US, after the battle shook their national pride.

If the above looks to you like media staging for the next 'battle' between 'Russian mercenaries or even regular forces' and American troops to dial the Russia fever up another notch, then it looks like that to us as well. In reality, U.S. troops ought to be more concerned about IEDs or MANPADs in pro-Damascus forces hands rather than the fantasy presented by NBC News, Bloomberg and Business Insider of Russians attacking them across open ground with zero SAM support or air cover. If such a 'battle' does take place, it will likely be staged with the casualties vastly inflated. The deconfliction hotline between Dunford and Gerasimov and Kheimmim and U.S. bases in Turkey, Jordan and Qatar still works, for now.

Is a Joint U.S.-Turkish Partition of Syria a Done Deal? Or Will Ankara and Washington Remain at Odds Over Manbij and the Kurdish Issue?

With the remnants of the Ghouta pocket caught between the anvil of Russian and Syrian firepower and the hammer of humanitarian evacuation on the green buses, it seems too late for Washington and London to stop the full liberation of the Ghouta region. What's left then to the regime changists turned partitioners of Syria is further mischief alongside the Turks in the north, specifically around northern Aleppo, jihadi dominated Idlib and in the Kurdish northeast. The Turkish Army and its 'Free Syrian Army' Janissaries have nearly cut off Afrin, a city of 200,000. After receiving a warm reception from Kurds and Arabs alike when joining its YPG defenders, pro-Damascus miltias are no longer reinforcing the Kurds' losing position in the city.

It appears the Russian Analyst underestimated the Turks after their Euphrates Shield setbacks against ISIS/USUS and that their Army has found a formula for minimizing Turkish casualties, relying on the FSA and former ISIS members to assault Kurdish villages. Without SAMs or air cover from Turkish bombing, YPG units appear increasingly demoralized and the Kurdish political party's mouthpieces continue to cry about Moscow as much as Washington betraying them. YPG fighters were reportedly fleeing Afrin this weekend as residents looted government food wares and offices in preparation for a full siege.

In fairness to the YPG's supporters in Western countries, Moscow and Ankara by all appearances have struck a deal over Afrin, while the Turks and Americans wrangle over joint patrols supposedly planned for Manbij. Damascus threat to shoot down Turkish F16s has, for the moment, failed to materialize as the SAA concentrates its forces on mopping up in Ghouta. The Russians continue to goad the Americans using the Turks, most recenty announcing this week that S400 SAMs will be delivered to Ankara in 2020. U.S. Senators have responded by demanding sanctions against any nation including NATO member Turkey that buys Russian S400s and other advanced arms. Presumably that category would include countries like India and Vietnam Washington is wooing as part of its China containment strategy in the Pacific. Nonetheless, the Turks extending their deconfliction aka occupation bases to the northern outskirts of Aleppo city may be pushing their irredentist land grab agenda too far.