CIA Terrorists Fighting Pentagon Terrorists Near Aleppo

President Barack Obama recently authorized a new Pentagon plan to train and arm Syrian rebel fighters, relaunching a program that was suspended in the fall after a string of embarrassing setbacks, which included recruits being ambushed and handing over much of their U.S.-issued ammunition and trucks to an al-Qaida affiliate.

Syria

Syrian rebels aim during a weapons training exercise outside Idlib, Syria. (AP Photo)

Syrian militias armed by different parts of the U.S. war machine have begun to fight each other on the plains between the besieged city of Aleppo and the Turkish border, highlighting how little control U.S. intelligence officers and military planners have over the groups they have financed and trained in the bitter 5-year-old civil war.

The fighting has intensified over the past two months, as CIA-armed units and Pentagon-armed ones have repeatedly shot at each other as they have maneuvered through contested territory on the northern outskirts of Aleppo, U.S. officials and rebel leaders have confirmed.

In mid-February, a CIA-armed militia called Fursan al Haq, or Knights of Righteousness, was run out of the town of Marea, about 20 miles north of Aleppo, by Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces moving in from Kurdish-controlled areas to the east.

“Any faction that attacks us, regardless from where it gets its support, we will fight it,” said Maj. Fares Bayoush, a leader of Fursan al Haq.

Rebel fighters described similar clashes in the town of Azaz, a key transit point for fighters and supplies between Aleppo and the Turkish border, and March 3 in the Aleppo neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsud.

 

https://i2.wp.com/www.mintpressnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/map-of-rebels-2.jpgThe attacks come amid continued heavy fighting in Syria and illustrate the difficulty facing U.S. efforts to coordinate among dozens of armed groups that are trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad, fight the Islamic State militant group and battle one another all at the same time.

“It is an enormous challenge,” said Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who described the clashes between U.S.-supported groups as “a fairly new phenomenon.”

“It is part of the three-dimensional chess that is the Syrian battlefield,” he said.

The area in northern Syria around Aleppo, the country’s second-largest city, features not only a war between the Assad government and its opponents, but also periodic battles against Islamic State militants, who control much of eastern Syria and also some territory to the northwest of the city, and long-standing tensions among the ethnic groups that inhabit the area, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.

“Once they cross the border into Syria, you lose a substantial amount of control or ability to control their actions.” — Jeffrey White, former Defense Intelligence Agency official.

“This is a complicated, multisided war where our options are severely limited,” said a U.S. official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “We know we need a partner on the ground. We can’t defeat ISIL without that part of the equation, so we keep trying to forge those relationships.” ISIL is an acronym for the Islamic State.

President Barack Obama recently authorized a new Pentagon plan to train and arm Syrian rebel fighters, relaunching a program that was suspended in the fall after a string of embarrassing setbacks, which included recruits being ambushed and handing over much of their U.S.-issued ammunition and trucks to an al-Qaida affiliate.

Amid the setbacks, the Pentagon late last year deployed about 50 special operations forces to Kurdish-held areas in northeastern Syria to better coordinate with local militias and help ensure U.S.-backed rebel groups aren’t fighting one another.

But such skirmishes have become routine.

Last year, the Pentagon helped create a new military coalition, the Syrian Democratic Forces. The goal was to arm the group and prepare it to take territory away from Islamic State in eastern Syria and to provide information for U.S. airstrikes.

The group is dominated by Kurdish outfits known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. A few Arab units have joined the force in order to prevent it from looking like an invading Kurdish army, and it has received airdrops of weapons and supplies and assistance from U.S. Special Forces.

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Richard Jones (right), stands with YPG official (left) near Syria/Turkish border in Ras al Ayn, Syria.

Gen. Joseph Votel, now commander of U.S. Special Operations Command and the incoming head of Central Command, said this month that about 80 percent of the fighters in the Syrian Democratic Forces were Kurdish.

The U.S. backing for a heavily Kurdish armed force has been a point of tension with the Turkish government, which has a long history of crushing Kurdish rebellions and doesn’t want to see Kurdish units control more of its southern border.

The CIA, meanwhile, has its own operations center inside Turkey from which it has been directing aid to rebel groups in Syria, providing them with TOW antitank missiles from Saudi Arabian weapons stockpiles.

While the Pentagon’s actions are part of an overt effort by the U.S. and its allies against the Islamic State, the CIA’s backing of militias is part of a separate covert U.S. effort aimed at keeping pressure on the Assad government in hopes of prodding the Syrian leader to the negotiating table.

At first, the two different sets of fighters were primarily operating in widely separated areas of Syria — the Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the northeastern part of the country and the CIA-backed groups further west.

But, over the past several months, Russian airstrikes against anti-Assad fighters in northwestern Syria have weakened them.

That created an opening that allowed the Kurdish-led groups to expand their zone of control to the outskirts of Aleppo, bringing them into more frequent conflict with the CIA-backed outfits.

“We’ll fight all who aim to divide Syria or harm its people. ” — Suqour Al-Jabal Brigade fighter.

“Fighting over territory in Aleppo demonstrates how difficult it is for the U.S. to manage these really localized and, in some cases, entrenched conflicts,” said Nicholas Heras, an expert on the Syrian civil war at the Center for a New American Security, a think tank in Washington. “Preventing clashes is one of the constant topics in the joint operations room with Turkey.”

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This picture taken on Jan. 31, 2014, and released by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), shows residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk, queuing to receive food supplies, in Damascus, Syria. A Norwegian humanitarian group report says a record 38 million people have been internally displaced in their countries worldwide, with 2.2 million Iraqis alone fleeing in 2014 after ISIS seized their areas. (UNRWA via AP)

Over the course of the Syrian civil war, the town of Marea has been on the front line of the Islamic State’s attempts to advance across Aleppo province toward the rest of northern Syria.

On Feb. 18, the Syrian Democratic Forces attacked the town.

A fighter with the Suqour Al-Jabal Brigade, a group with links to the CIA, said intelligence officers of the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State know their group has clashed with the Pentagon-trained militias.

“The MOM knows we fight them,” he said, referring to the joint operations center in southern Turkey, which is known as MOM from the acronym of its name in Turkish, Musterek Operasyon Merkezi.

“We’ll fight all who aim to divide Syria or harm its people,” said the fighter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Marea is home to many of the original Islamist fighters who took up arms against Assad during the Arab Spring in 2011. It has long been a critical way station for supplies and fighters coming from Turkey into Aleppo.

“Attempts by Syrian Democratic Forces to take Marea was a great betrayal and was viewed as a further example of a Kurdish conspiracy to force them from Arab and Turkmen lands,” Heras said.

The clashes brought the U.S. and Turkish officials to “loggerheads,” he added.

After diplomatic pressure from the U.S., the militia withdrew to the outskirts of the town as a sign of good faith, he said.

But continued fighting among different U.S.-backed groups may be inevitable, experts on the region said.

“Once they cross the border into Syria, you lose a substantial amount of control or ability to control their actions,” said Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency official. “You certainly have the potential for it becoming a larger problem as people fight for territory and control of the northern border area in Aleppo.”

W.J. Hennigan and Brian Bennett reported from Washington and special correspondent Nabih Bulos from Amman.

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Brahmin Family Has “Untouchable” Dalit Son-In-Law Hacked To Death

Dalit murder case: Youth’s mother-in-law surrenders

hindustan

  • PTI
Shankar, a Dalit, who married Kausalya, a high-caste Hindu, was hacked to death by hired killers in Tirupur, Tamil Nadu, on Sunday March 13, 2016 in a case of suspected honour killing. (Special arrangement)

Mother of Kausalya, the 19-year-old widow of the Dalit youth who was hacked to death in full public view at a bus stand in Tirupur in a suspected honour killing, surrendered before a local court in Theni.

Judicial Magistrate Sundari remanded Annalakshmi to judicial custody and ordered to produce her before the Udumalpet court on Thursday.

So far five persons have been arrested in connection with the case.

Kausalya’s father Chinnasamy had already surrendered before the police.

Shankar (22) and Kausalya, married eight months ago despite opposition from their families. While waiting at the Udumalpet bus stand,

sicklesthey were attacked by a gang with sickles in full public view on March 13 in nearby Tirupur district, resulting in Shankar’s death.

Kausalya who had been under treatment at the Government hospital in Coimbatore was discharged on Monday.

Later, she was taken to Komaralingam in Tirupur District to her in-laws’ house, as she had expressed her wish to stay with them.

The girl had earlier demanded that her parents be punished for murdering her husband.

Taliban No Talks

Taliban talks

dawn
Moeed Yusuf

THERE has been no fresh movement on the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. This should worry the Pakistani establishment. For once, Pakistan stuck its neck out by acknowledging the Afghan Taliban presence on its territory and promised to pressure them to come to the negotiating table.

While Pakistan has reiterated that it doesn’t control the Taliban, the spiel has always acknowledged that even if we can’t make the horse drink water, we can lead it to the pond. This had to be said, for it was the very basis of Pakistan’s argument that it must be kept central to all reconciliation efforts.

By all accounts, the Taliban’s recent refusal to talk has shocked Pakistani interlocutors. Over the years, it had become clear to the establishment that the Taliban would never want to be seen playing to the agencies’ tune.

But even more overbearing was the reality that their leadership’s presence in Pakistan and their inability to operate wholly from Afghanistan gave Pakistan leverage. Even if no one felt it would be easy, there was a firm belief that Pakistan could do enough to get the Taliban talking.
Nations are seeing an antidote to IS in the Afghan Taliban.

The problem all along was that Pakistan had never really tested this proposition, not until President Ashraf Ghani came to power and Pakistan organised the first round of Taliban talks in Murree last July. This should have been a wakeup call: while Pakistan did manage to bring Mullah Mansour to the table, the Taliban were literally forced to show up, courtesy of a promise that Murree wouldn’t be anything more than an icebreaker and threats of undefined consequences if the Taliban didn’t oblige.

It seems the establishment ended up drawing the wrong lesson: that Murree confirmed they could create opportunities for talks. They probably were further reassured when the head of the Taliban’s political commission, Tayyab Agha, resigned after the Murree round. Agha was against the idea of Pakistan-brokered talks.

Pakistani efforts as part of the quadrilateral have drawn blanks despite hints that Pakistan has somewhat uncharacteristically flexed its muscle to coerce them.

None other than the army chief himself has been involved in trying to get things going. He even made a not-so-secret trip to Qatar, presumably to use Qatari influence over the Taliban’s political commission. There have been arrests of Taliban in Pakistan and life has been made uncomfortable for a number of Taliban families. At least one respected expert confirmed that this is the farthest Pakistan has ever gone in putting a squeeze on the Taliban.

And yet, the ultimate tool up Pakistan’s sleeve remains missing: Pakistan is showing no inclination of going all-out after the Taliban as the world hopes it will if all else fails.

Here, its position remains unchanged. In fact, a rethink is less likely now given the growing belief that other regional players are offering to play patron to the Taliban. Countries like Iran and Russia are reportedly beginning to see a potential antidote to the militant Islamic State group in the Taliban. Media reports suggest that Taliban battlefield gains give them more space to hide within Afghanistan than they have had since 9/11. Some symbolic relocation from Pakistan into Afghanistan has also taken place.

Hence, the Taliban defy. And why wouldn’t they. Here is an insurgency operating in an environment where the Afghan state’s inability to defeat them is considered a foregone conclusion; Afghans recognise this, but are tired of the violence and want peace soon; the US attention is diverted towards IS in the Middle East; the insurgency seems to have better regional realignment options than before precisely because of IS’s rise; and there is no threat of complete obliteration in Pakistan. This is a dream scenario for any insurgent, one that is clearly egging them to fight on to see if they can bring the counterinsurgent to its knees.

If so, Pakistan’s stance is all but upended. For if its efforts are drawing blanks and it isn’t going to go much further in terms of its coercive tactics, Pakistan loses the most potent argument in support of Pakistan-brokered talks. The even bigger problem is that minus talks, the risk of Afghanistan’s descent into outright chaos is a real possibility, with the worst possible outcome for Pakistan.

The establishment knows its quandary. But that isn’t enough. Someone must be asking: is it time to think of radical options, whether in terms of acting against the Taliban in whatever way may get them to talk, and talk sincerely, or to stop insisting on Pakistan-brokered talks and let others see if they can engage the Taliban directly? The world will expect Pakistan to answer this question soon. Pakistan needs to, most of all for its own sake.

The writer is a foreign policy expert based in Washington, DC.

 

Why Peace Talks With the Taliban Are Designed to Fail

Neil Krishan Aggarwal is a cultural psychiatrist and the author of two books: Mental Health in the War on Terror (2015) and The Taliban’s Virtual Emirate (2016).

For the second time in nine months, the Afghan peace talks have stumbled because of differing expectations between the Taliban and the Quadrilateral Coordination Group formed by Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the United States. On March 5, the Taliban released a statement spurning the talks; it complained that its authorities had “not been kept informed about negotiations” and that “unless the occupation of Afghanistan is ended, blacklists eliminated and innocent prisoners freed, such futile, misleading negotiations will not bear any results.” The same day, The New York Times reported that an Afghan official close to President Ashraf Ghani dismissed this statement as “just public bargaining.” After all, the official said, Taliban representatives initially opposed the first round of talks, in May 2015, but showed up anyway.

Unfortunately, the Taliban’s “public bargaining” is not empty rhetoric, and to discredit its statements demonstrates either willful ignorance or brazen callousness toward the Afghan war’s human toll. Its participation in the first round of talks did not herald good faith efforts toward peace. Afterward, the Taliban seized Kunduz, the first city to fall after the 2001 U.S.-led NATO invasion. And the United Nations reported more than 11,000 Taliban-related civilian casualties in 2015, more than the previous record, set in 2014.

Instead, all of us should understand the Taliban’s worldview on its own terms, and for this, there is plenty of fodder: Since 1998, the Taliban has used the Internet to disseminate messages in Arabic, Dari, English, Pashto and Urdu. There is no mystery about the Taliban’s goal to implement Islamic law throughout Afghanistan. After the first round of talks, representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government supposedly agreed to negotiate the status of the constitution and the role of women’s education. However, the Taliban followed up with a statement suggesting such negotiations could lead to “un-Islamic and illegitimate agreements” that would tangle up the peace process. It alleged that Afghanistan’s Constitution was coerced, “drafted under the shadow of B-52 bombers of the foreign invaders.” And regarding women’s education, the Taliban wrote that it was committed to women’s rights, in so far as those rights are “bestowed upon them in the sacred religion of Islam.”

For two decades the Taliban has fought relentlessly to implement its interpretation of Islamic law throughout Afghanistan. We saw what that looked like between 1996 and 2001, when the Taliban ruled more than 90 percent of Afghanistan: Islamic law, to the Taliban, means subjugating women and minorities. There is no reason to believe its interpretation has changed.

We should not let our desire to end this war of attrition lead the Quadrilateral Coordination Group to negotiate away the very rights and liberties that have been hard won in the first place. Each QCG member knows the high stakes involved. Afghanistan’s government must demonstrate its ability to govern beyond the capital, Kabul. China remains suspicious about the Uighur Muslims training with the Taliban. Pakistan no longer controls the Taliban officials who splintered into competing factions after the reported demise of Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s founder and supreme leader. And the U.S. needs an exit. Already, the Afghan conflict is the longest war in U.S. history, and has cost more than $700 billion and 2,300 lives.

Member nations of the QCG are tired. But we need to understand whether the Taliban is acting as a good faith negotiating partner or just biding its time until the war-weary QCG members accept defeat. Rather than initiate talks without preconditions — as the QCG has done — we should do the opposite: Before talks begin, we must demand that the Taliban explain its positions in writing — which shouldn’t be difficult, given its propensity for issuing statements. Does the Taliban consider the peace process illegitimate, and any potential agreement as “un-Islamic”? What rights — whether based on Islamic law or secular republican traditions — would women, religious minorities, Shia Muslims and non-Pashtun Sunnis have in any future with the Taliban? If the Taliban were included in any power-sharing agreement, would it respect international laws and treaties? How will the Taliban faction negotiating with the QCG enforce peace upon other factions?

We should also question the QCG’s concessions. Why have QCG members dismissed Taliban statements as public bargaining? Why have QCG members equivocated in taking the Taliban’s worldview seriously? Two rounds of unsuccessful talks have exposed the bitter truth that QCG members may only be acting in their own best interests — not those of Afghan civilians or the international community.

Pak Radical Islamists Continue Islamabad Rally Defending Murder of Blasphemists

[SEE:  The Blasphemy of Pakistani Blasphemy Law]


Protesters violate government deadline as sit-in enters fourth day
ISLAMABAD/KARACHI: The sit-in at Islamabad entered its fourth day on Wednesday as protesters violated a deadline given by the government to vacate the Red Zone by midnight.

A delegation representing the government negotiated with the protesters all night long.  At four in the morning, a satisfied Professor Ashraf Jilani, who represented the protesters, told media that many of their demands were being considered by the government.

Sources said the next round of talks was expected to take place at 12 noon today, and that a breakthrough is expected by this evening.

Several rounds of talks between the government and protesters have taken place since yesterday. In the first round of talks the administration and cleric Ovais Noorani met Ijaz Qadri and Professor Ashraf at Punjab House.

A second round of talks was held at federal minister Khwaja Saad Rafique’s residence.

The government wants protesters to disperse without it having to use violence.

Meanwhile in Karachi, supporters in solidarity with the Islamabad protest have staged a sit-in at Numaish Chowrangi, blocking the flow of traffic through MA Jinnah Road for three days now.

On Tuesday, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that if protesters at D-Chowk in front of the Parliament building did not disperse by midnight then the sensitive Red-Zone area of the federal capital would be evacuated ‘peacefully’ by Wednesday.

Speaking at a press conference here, he said some people were found involved in damaging government installations and inflicting injuries to the security officials. “We want to evacuate D-Chowk area in presence of the media peacefully [on Wednesday].”

Meanwhile, mobile phone services remained blocked for a fourth day in Islamabad today as hundreds of activists belonging to various religious groups continued to protest the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, who killed former Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

The government had on Monday registered an FIR against Sarwat Qadri, Khadim Hussain, Afzal Qadri and Dr Ashraf.

The cases have been registered at the I-9, Secretariat and Kohsar police stations. Charges against them include violating the Loud Speaker Act, vandalizing public property, instigating hate against the government and violating section 144 at the Red Zone.

 

Full transcript: What the ‘Indian spy’ says in the video released by Pakistan

Full transcript: What the ‘Indian spy’ says in the video released by Pakistan

IBN LIVE

India and Pakistan continue to spar over the alleged admissions of former naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav who has claimed that he was acting at the behest of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and working in Balochistan region. While Pakistan claims that Jadhav is an Indian spy who was trying to stir trouble in Balochistan, India has rubbished the reports.

In a video released by Pakistan, Jadhav is seen and heard purportedly “confessing” to his “involvement” in terror activities in Balochistan at RAW’s behest. The head of Pakistan Army’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lieutenant General Asim Bajwa and Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid held a press conference in Islamabad to release the video, saying Kulbhushan Jadhav “confessed” to working for Indian intelligence agency RAW to “foment trouble” in the restive province of Balochistan.

Calling the tape doctored and baseless, India has sought mandatory consular access to him. India has claimed that his presence in Pakistan raises questions, including the possibility of his abduction from Iran.

Here is the full transcript of the admission of the ex-naval officer as recorded in the video:

I am Commander Kulbhushan Jadav number 41558Z. I’m a serving officer of the Indian Navy. I am from the cadre of engineering department in the Indian Navy and my cover name was Husasain Mubarik Patel which I had taken for doing some intelligence gathering for the Indian agencies.

I joined National Defence Academy in 1987 and I subsequently joined the Indian Navy in 1991 and was commissioned into the Indian Navy and subsequently served in the Indian Navy till around 2001 December when Parliament attacks occurred. That is when I started contributing my services towards the gathering of information and intelligence within India. I live in the city of Mumbai in India.

I’m still a serving officer in the Indian Navy and will be due for retirement by 2022 as a commissioned officer in the Indian Navy. After having completed 14 years of service by 2002, I commenced intelligence operations in 2003 and established a small business in Chabahar in Iran. As I was unable to achieve undetected existence and visits to Karachi in 2003 and 2004 and having done some basic assignments within India for RAW, I was picked up by RAW in 2013 end. Ever since I have been directing various activities in Baluchistan and Karachi at the behest of RAW and deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi. I was basically the man for Mr Anil Kumar Gupta who is the joint secretary RAW and his contacts in Pakistan especially in the Baloch student organisation.

My purpose was to hold meetings with Baloch insurgents and carry out activities with their collaboration. These activities have been of criminal nature. This have been of anti-national, terrorist leading into the killing of or maiming the Pakistani citizen also. I realise during this process that RAW is involved in some activities related to the Baloch liberation movement within Pakistan and the region around it. There are finances which are led into Baloch movement through various contacts or various ways and means into the Baloch liberation and the various activities of these Baloch liberation and the RAW handlers go towards activities which are criminal, which are anti-national which can lead to maiming or killing of people within Pakistan and mostly these activities were centred around what I have knowledge is of ports of Gawadar, Pasni, Jeevani and various other installations which are around the coast damaging to the various other installations which are in Balochistan. So the activity seemed to be revolving around trying to create a criminal sort of a mindset within the Baloch liberation and lead to instability within Pakistan.

In my pursuit towards achieving the set targets by my handler in RAW, I was trying to cross over into Pakistan from the Saravan border in Iran on 3rd March 2016 and was apprehended by the Pakistani authorities on the Pakistani side and the main aim of this crossing over into Pakistan was to hold meeting with the BSN personnel in Balochistan for carrying out various activities which they were supposed to undertake and carrying backwards the messages which they had to deliver, backwards to the Indian agencies. The main issues regarding this were that they were planning to conduct some operations within the next immediate future, near future. So that was to be discussed mainly and that was the main aim to coming into Pakistan.

So the moment I realised that my intelligence operations have been compromised on my being detained in Pakistan, I revealed that I’m an Indian Naval officer and it is on mentioning that I’m an Indian Naval officer the total perception of the establishment of Pakistan changed and they treated me very honourably and with utmost respect and due regards, and have handled me subsequently on a more professional and proper courteous way. And they have handled me in a way that befits that of an officer and once I realised that I have been compromised in my process of intelligence operations I decided to just end the mess I have landed myself in and just wanted to subsequently move on and cooperate with the authorities in removing the complications which I have landed myself and my family members into. And whatever I’m stating just now, it is the truth and is not under any duress or pressure. I’m doing it, it is totally out of my own desire to mention and come clean out of this entire process which I have gone through for the last 14 years.