Covert Afghan Defense Forces Use “False Flag”, a.k.a., “Gladio” Tactics To Falsely Implicate Taliban

Painting by Anthony Freda

 

“False flag terrorism” occurs when elements within a government stage a secret operation whereby government forces pretend to be a targeted enemy while attacking their own forces or people. The attack is then falsely blamed on the enemy in order to justify going to war against that enemy.

 

“Gladio was set up after WWII as a clandestine group of operatives that were to be activated in the event of a Soviet invasion of Europe. Their plan quickly evolved into a program of political repression and manipulation directed by NATO and the CIA. What could go wrong? For decades Gladio carried out widespread terrorist attacks, assassinations and electoral subversion in democratic states such as Italy, France and West Germany, but were portrayed to the public as Communist or Left Wing terror attacks. Thanks to corrupt media disinformation and lies, the facts of this operation have been kept hidden from the public.“– Operation Gladio And The False Flag Muslim Terror Hoax

 

[Pentagon/CIA Repackages Afghan Govt. Terrorist Force As “The Renouncers”–(updated) NYT Highlights Taliban Split and Afghan Govt Sponsorship of Mullah Rasoul Faction–(updated) ]


FILE: Members of the Afghan security forces take position during an operation against Taliban in Helmand province in April 2017.

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan — A white unmarked Toyota pickup truck carries 10 armed young fighters to a frontline. All are dressed like Taliban fighters, with most wearing black or dark green khet partug — a long loose tunic and baggy pants. All are wearing the distinctive black or white turbans preferred by the Taliban.

They, however, are not Taliban. As members of a secretive Afghan government militia, their mission on a cold February morning is to infiltrate groups of insurgent fighters along a tense frontline in the restive southern province of Helmand.

As they speed along a twisting rural road past fields, orchards, and clusters of mud houses, only one of them agrees to briefly talk.

He requests not to be identified by name because the Taliban are actively pursuing and targeting members of the force, which is locally called Sangorian.

“We are proud of what we are doing. We turn insurgent tactics against them and fight them in the same civilian dress they wear,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan. “My only regret is that we sometimes scare civilians because they mistake us for the insurgents.”

Sangorian, named after a Turkish television soap opera about undercover operatives, claims credit for defeating Taliban attempts to overrun Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah. The insurgents virtually besieged it for months in 2016.

Estimated to now number between 500 and 1,000 fighters, the militia was created alongside the Bost Unit by the Afghan secret service, the Directorate of National Security.

“We have always inflicted harm on the enemy. We have killed their fighters and captured their weapons and ammunition,” the Sangorian member said. “This is why the enemy is keen to retaliate. They often use heavy weapons to attack our units.”

The Taliban killed at least 16 Sangorian members in an attack on a check post in Helmand’s Gereshk town on February 10. “Three of our brothers turned their guns on militia members after infiltrating one of their important camps,” a Taliban statement said.

Communist-era former general turned lawmaker Abdul Jabbar Qahraman is all praise for Sangorian. As Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s operational commander for Afghan forces in Helmand two years ago, he reportedly oversaw the formation of Sangorian.

“They were so successful that our enemies began to fight among themselves,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan. “Their sabotage within the enemy ranks prompted many Taliban commanders to mistrust each other so much that they began to surround themselves with bodyguards to prevent possible attacks from rivals.”

After the drawdown of most international troops by the end of 2014, the Taliban scored major territorial gains in Helmand, Afghanistan’s largest province, strategically located near Iran and bordering Pakistan. By early 2016, the insurgents controlled or contested 12 of the region’s 14 districts and were threatening to overrun the entire province by besieging Lashkar Gah. The city of an estimated 300,000 residents is home to important government departments and major military encampments.

Qahraman says it was Sangorian’s operations behind insurgent lines in the strongholds of Sangin and Musa Qala districts that prevented the Taliban from overrunning the provincial capital.

“As a former army general, I can tell you confidently that they played a major role in preventing the fall of Lashkar Gah to the enemy,” he said.

Not everyone in Lashkar Gah, however, is happy about Sangorian’s success. Some residents whisper of alleged abuses by the militia — claims the authorities reject, saying they have received no formal complaints of misconduct.

During nearly 40 years of war, Helmand’s residents have repeatedly seen government militias turn into marauding thugs. Civilians and politicians are now worried Sangorian will follow the same path.

Lawmaker Attaullah Afghan leads Helmand’s provincial council. He says that after performing their main task of preventing the fall of Lashkar Gah, Sangorian members no longer need to to work undercover.

“The people of Helmand now want Sangorian and other similar groups to wear the uniform of forces commanded by the Directorate of National Security,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan.

Omar Zhwak, the spokesman for Helmand’s governor, says the government is already working on such a plan.

“We are working on building them up in terms of education, discipline, and equipment to bring them on par with other forces,” he told Radio Free Afghanistan. “They have proved very useful.”

Abubakar Siddique wrote this story based on Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Mohammad Ilyas Dayee’s reporting from Lashkar Gah, Helmand.


Helmand's security chief Abdul Jabar Qahraman (C) surrounded by police and army officers.

Helmand’s security chief Abdul Jabar Qahraman (C) surrounded by police and army officers.

Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency has initiated a secretive unit in southern Helmand Province with the aim of taking advantage of divisions within the Taliban movement.

According to government officials, the goal is to weaken the increasing threat posed by the insurgency by using the Taliban’s own tactics. The militants have boasted of placing agents among security forces to carry out so-called insider attacks.

The initiative comes at a time when fledgling Afghan forces are struggling to stop the Taliban from taking over large swathes of Helmand and other areas across the country.

Abdul Jabbar Qahraman, President Ashraf Ghani’s special envoy for security affairs in the southern province, gave confirmation of the existence of the unit, whose members wear no uniform, but he declined to elaborate.

“The idea for the creation of the new contingent, which dresses like local Helmandis, was mine,” said the official, a former commander who fought for the Soviet-backed government in southern Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Helmand police chief Abdul Rahman Sarjang said the 300-strong unit, created and equipped by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), had conducted several operations and has so far proved a success.

The NDS headquarters in Kabul did not respond to several requests for comment, although an official — who declined to be identified — at the agency in Helmand confirmed the unit’s existence and the broad outlines of how it operates.

The Taliban themselves have confirmed the unit’s existence but dismissed claims that it was successful in exploiting internal divisions, calling such suggestions “propaganda.”

“It is true that this contingent exists and operates mysteriously in some parts of Helmand,” said Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, the Taliban’s main spokesman in southern Afghanistan. “We have very strong intelligence and find those who want to infiltrate our ranks.”

The NDS unit further complicates the situation in Helmand, a traditional stronghold of the Taliban and the center of the opium trade. In addition the insurgency, Helmand is a web of tribal and factional conflicts.

Deceit and double-cross have become commonplace in Helmand, and government forces are often the victim. In January, four rogue policemen killed nine comrades and stole their weapons before deserting to join the insurgents.

Afghan and NATO officials have frequently spoken of the difficulties faced by the Afghan National Army — a largely Dari-speaking force relying heavily on recruits from northern Afghanistan — in operating in Pashto-speaking Helmand.

One provincial official said the unit operates in Musa Qala and Nawzad, two central districts that government forces abandoned in February, as well as Marjah and Nad Ali, where the government maintains only tenuous control.

“Now the Taliban do not believe each other. They believe their colleagues may be infiltrated by the Afghan intelligence agency,” he said.

Despite a relative lull in recent weeks allegedly due to the annual opium harvest, Helmand has witnessed months of heavy fighting. Government forces have been forced to abandon several districts and regroup around the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah.

But the unit’s reported successes have come at a price, according to local officials.

“It is a very good achievement by the Afghan government and has created splits within the Taliban,” said Attaullah Afghan, a member of Helmand’s provincial council. But, he said, officials have received dozens of complaints from residents in districts like Nawzad and Khanishin.

“The Taliban are abusing ordinary people and even arresting some of them as spies for the Afghan government,” he said.

According to local sources, a battle between rival Taliban fighters in the Nad Ali and Marjah districts that killed as many as 30 fighters on May 8 was set off by the special NDS unit.

They said members of the unit attacked a checkpoint manned by insurgents loyal to Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, creating the impression that they were on the side of Mansour’s main rival, Mullah Mohammad Rasul.

The Taliban denied the fighting was between rival factions but did cite “bandits newly armed by Jabbar Qahraman.”

“There is currently no fighting in the area, and the entire region has been cleansed of these newly formed bandits,” Ahmadi said in a statement.

With reporting by Mohammad Stanekzai for Reuters

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Syrian Militias Beat Erdogan To Afrin, Dealing Setback to Turkey

People waving Syria’s flag and portraits of its president, Bashar al-Assad, and the leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, Abdullah Ocalan, as a convoy of pro-Syrian government fighters arrives in Syria’s northern enclave of Afrin on Thursday. Credit Ahmad Shafie Bilal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

ISTANBUL — Militias loyal to the Syrian government swept into the northwestern enclave of Afrin on Thursday in support of Kurdish militias, reclaiming the territory and stealing a march on Turkish forces that have been battling toward the city for nearly a month.

Television broadcasts and social media postings showed crowds celebrating in the main square of the city of Afrin, waving flags and holding posters of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and the Kurdish militant leader Abdullah Ocalan, who is imprisoned in Turkey on terrorism charges.

The entry into Afrin of forces loyal to Mr. Assad — the result of a deal between the Syrian government and Kurdish militias, with the backing of Iran and Russia — has harmed Turkey’s ambitions in Syria. It is one of many setbacks that Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has experienced throughout the seven-year Syrian civil war.

“It’s not something Turkey is happy with at all,” said Michael Stephens, who studies the Middle East at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “It limits Turkish strategic options.” Turkey has made it clear that if attacked by pro-government forces, its forces will strike back, he said.

Turkey began its incursion into Afrin a month ago, saying it wanted to clear the enclave of Kurdish militias, which it says are affiliated with Mr. Ocalan’s Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., which has long waged a separatist insurgency in Turkey.

Turkey mobilized hundreds of C.I.A.-trained Syrian Arab fighters from the opposition Free Syrian Army to spearhead its attack, and bombarded the enclave with jets and artillery fire.

But Turkish forces have struggled to make headway against the well-prepared Kurdish fighters. In a month of fighting, Turkish forces have lost 32 soldiers. They have taken several dozen villages along the Turkish border, but have yet to reach the main cities.

The Syrian government has opposed the Turkish action from the start, accusing it of a breach of Syrian sovereignty, but Russia, which controls Syrian airspace, opened airspace to Turkish war planes.

Syrian and Kurdish officials suggested from the start that the Syrian government could move in to help the Kurdish forces.

Ibrahim Hamidi, a Syrian journalist for the London-based Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, reported on Wednesday that senior Russian and Syrian government officials met with Saban Hamo, the leader of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., in the city of Aleppo to work out a deal.

The head of the Syrian government forces’ security committee, Brig. Gen. Malek Alia, attended the meeting along with the head of the Russian Army Reconciliation Center in northern Syria, Mr. Hamidi reported.

In separate meetings on the opposing side, American and Turkish officials gathered to work out a solution for the town of Manbij, he added. Mr. Erdogan has demanded that Y.P.G. forces also be removed from Manbij, where United States forces have a base and work with the Y.P.G. in its fight against the Islamic State. Mr. Erdogan has threatened to expand the Afrin operation to attack the town, straining United States-Turkish relations.

The Kurdish militias have welcomed Syrian government support in their fight against Turkish forces but risk losing their autonomy. Brusk Haska, a military official in the Y.P.G., said in an electronic message earlier this week that they would accept any help for their forces in Afrin.

“We welcome any force that comes to protect Afrin and the civilians from the Turks NATO aggression,” he wrote. “We are part of Syria and not part of the regime, we still have our own administration but we welcome any party coming to protect us.”

Turkish officials insisted their operation would continue and expressed skepticism about the Syrian government’s intentions.

“If they enter to clean P.K.K./Y.P.G. out, there is no problem,” Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said, using the acronyms for the Turkish and Syrian Kurdish groups. “But if the regime enters to protect the Y.P.G. there, no one can stop us.”

Turkey’s defense minister, Nurettin Canikli, said on Thursday that he doubted that the pro-Syrian government militias advancing to Afrin were capable of subduing the Kurdish militias, which is Turkey’s goal.

“The armed units allegedly sent to Afrin by the Syrian regime have no capacity to change the result of the antiterror struggle we have been waging in that region, and they never will have,” the Anadolu news agency reported Mr. Canikli’s telling journalists during a military ceremony in the province of Kayseri. “Whoever sides with terror will become our target.”

Turkish analysts pointed out that Russia was manipulating the players from behind the scenes. “Russia is not outside the process, rather it is at the center of the deal,” said Kerim Has, a lecturer at Moscow State University. He said that Russia was using the Turkish assault on Afrin to force the Syrian government and the Kurds to work together. “The stick is Turkey and now the P.Y.D. will sit around the table on Moscow’s terms,” Mr. Has said, using the acronym for the political arm of the Y.P.G.

Mr. Erdogan has defended the Afrin incursion as necessary for Turkey’s national security, but he has also promised that it would allow some of the 3.5 million Syrian refugees in Turkey to return home. His aim has been to forge a buffer zone along Turkey’s border that would be cleared of Kurdish militants and that could be occupied by Syrian Sunni forces who have been in the forefront of the opposition to Mr. Assad.

Many Free Syrian Army fighters joined the operation, hoping to be able to return to their homes in villages in northern Syria. They have, however, suffered scores of casualties and are no closer to that aim.

Yet the proposal for the Syrian government to take control of Afrin could also offer Mr. Erdogan a way out, as the situation becomes increasingly complicated.

“He can claim victory or some kind of strategic gain if Assad works against P.Y.D. control in the area,” said Mr. Stephens, the analyst in London. “Then he can withdraw in respect for Syrian sovereignty whilst saying to his public that a critical border security issue has been dealt with.”

He added: “Turkey’s strategic position was always quite weak, and they are playing for tactical gain.”

UNIFIL Slams Israeli War Rhetoric, Affirms Strategic Partnership w/Lebanese Army

[SEE: SECURITY COUNCIL CALLS FOR END TO HOSTILITIES BETWEEN HIZBOLLAH, ISRAEL, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1701 (2006)]

UNIFIL Slams Israeli Blames, Affirms Strategic Partnership with Lebanese Army

W460

UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti slammed Israeli media reports accusing the peacekeeping forces of failing to carry out their duties, saying the reports are “inaccurate,” the National News Agency reported on Friday.

“UNIFIL is aware of these media reports which contains clear inaccuracies. UNIFIL is working around the clock and carrying out some 450 operational activities each day. We have close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces, almost 40% of our activities are carried out at night,” said Tenenti.

He stressed saying “the UNIFIL highly values its strategic partnership with the Lebanese army mainly in the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701. The Lebanese army is an integral part in preserving the calm and stability in the UNIFIL area of operations.”

Israeli media have accused the peacekeeping forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) of becoming an “excuse for Hizbullah and the Lebanese government to violate UN resolution 1701.”

Israel fought a month-long war against Hizbullah in 2006, killing more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Resolution 1701 was adopted to end the war, calling for full respect of the Blue Line.

The Lebanese/Israeli “Line In the Sand” Is Drawn In the Water

Gas fields: Enough reason for Israeli-Lebanese war?

While this gas field quarrel might not bring about the next Israeli war, the ever-increasing presence of Iran and its militias in the southern Syrian border with Israel does not bode well for Lebanon

Robert Frost, the famous American poet, concludes his poem “Mending Walls” with the assertion that “good fences make good neighbors”. While this might generally be the case, for both Lebanon and Israel, it seems that neither a fence nor border demarcation can keep these two nations from a recurrent conflict.

In the past, Israel has on many occasions attacked Lebanon due to the latter’s inability to prevent non-state actors, such as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and later Hezbollah, from launching attacks into its territories. The last such Israeli act was in July 2006, when the Israeli Army launched a 33-day attack against Lebanon and Hezbollah. However, the peace that has dominated the border between these two countries for over 12 years is at risk of collapsing again, but this time the confrontation has moved to the territorial waters.

Just recently, following an arduous and less-than-transparent process, the Lebanese government issued licenses to an oil and gas consortium (Total S.A, Eni International BV, and JSC Novatek) to commence exploration and production in blocks 4 and 9, the latter block being partly disputed by Israel, which claims that 860 sq km of the 1,742 sq km belongs to her. Instead of simply referring this maritime border dispute to international arbitration, Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman took to the offensive, describing Lebanon’s move as a “very challenging and provocative conduct”.

To many, Lieberman’s words could be a preamble to an all-out military confrontation that would involve Hezbollah and its regional patron Iran. Yet despite the potential of such an apocalyptic scenario unraveling, most of the signs and current circumstances seem to indicate otherwise. While Israel certainly has the military advantage in any potential showdown, a dispute over a gas field that could be considered somewhat normal is not sufficient reason for Israel to fully mobilize its forces and disrupt the resounding peace that has dominated its northern border with Lebanon for a long time now.

The Syrian crisis with the presence of an assortment of pro-Iranian forces in Syria operating under the direction and support of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRG) is the real threat to Israel, a threat that the Israeli army has until now tried to contain through its use of airstrikes. Yet if such tangible Iranian threats against Israel and the downing of its F-16 fighter jet by the Syrian air defense were not enough to go to war in Syria, would a measly gas field suffice?

For Iran’s vessels in Lebanon and the region, the gas war is imminent, with Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah assuring that his party and their cache of missiles will rain down on any Israeli attempt to steal Lebanon’s valuable resource. Nasrallah’s statements were naturally meant to leverage his party’s supposed role as the protector of Lebanon against the omnipresent Israeli aggression and to divert attention further from the fact that his forces are fully engaged in defending the Assad regime and thus have put their war with Israel on the backburner.

More importantly, no sooner had the gas dispute arisen between Israel and Lebanon than the United States took swift diplomatic measures to deescalate the situation. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had announced his intention to visit Lebanon, dispatched his acting Assistant for Middle East Affairs David Satterfield to both Lebanon and Israel. Satterfield delivered a clear message that such a maritime dispute need not develop into an open conflict.

Equally, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his warmongering cabinet waste no chance to hurl threats of using military force, the political reality currently unfolding within Israel is preventing such threats from becoming a reality. As it stands, Netanyahu is under investigation by the police, who have recommended to the Israeli attorney general to press charges against the head of the Likud party for bribery, fraud, and corruption. Consequently, if such a scenario does prove to be the case, Netanyahu will have to step down as prime minister, and the country will head for early parliamentary elections, during which no Israeli politician would be able to advocate going to war.

Nevertheless, while this gas field quarrel might not bring about the next Israeli war, the ever-increasing presence of Iran and its militias in the southern Syrian border with Israel does not bode well for Lebanon. While Hezbollah might prefer to use Syria as a battleground and avoid a showdown in Lebanon, which would afflict its Shiite constituency, ultimately a spillover is inevitable, one that will endanger Lebanon’s newly discovered natural resources as well as its people.

China, Saudi, Turkey Join Forces To Defend Pakistan From Trump’s Threatened Economic Sanctions

Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey blocked US move against Pakistan at Financial Action Task Force: Report

Highlights

  • The FATF is a global body that combats terrorist financing and money laundering.
  • The US says Pakistan is not taking action against terror groups like the Haqqani network and the Taliban.
  • The report said Saudi Arabia was acting on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

(File photo for representation)

WASHINGTON: China, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — the three close allies of Pakistan — have joined hands to block a move by the Trump administration to place Islamabad on an international terror-financing watch list, a US media report said.
While Pakistan has claimed a victory of sorts, the US was working behind the scenes during the ongoing Paris meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) so as to take action against the country which it believes has not acted against terrorist financing and the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions.

The Wall Street Journal which first reported about the development said this was one of the “rare disagreements” between Saudi Arabia and the administration of President Donald Trump.

Saudi Arabia, it said was acting on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The report said the US is still trying for the FATF to take a decision on this by today.

Pakistan yesterday claimed it had foiled US-led efforts to place it on a terror financing watch-list after the country was granted a three-month reprieve by the Paris-based international watchdog FATF.

The FATF, a global body that combats terrorist financing and money laundering, met in Paris amid reports that the US with support of some European allies was trying to place Pakistan on a list of countries that financially support terrorism.

“The officials said the US effort, which included pressure on the Saudis, raised the possibility of a fresh vote on action against Pakistan as soon as Thursday. The Pakistanis were scrambling to shore up support,” the WSJ report said.

Noting that the Trump administration is angry with Pakistan’s inadequate efforts to combat terror groups, the daily said the US has sought to ratchet up pressure on Islamabad.

Last month, it froze some $2 billion in security assistance to Pakistan.

The US says Pakistan is not taking action against terror groups like the Haqqani network and the Taliban. Islamabad has denied those allegations.

China, Pakistan’s all-weather ally, has repeatedly blocked efforts by India, the US and the UK to designate JeM chief Masood Azhar a terrorist under the Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee.

Pakistan being added to the “list of countries deemed ‘high risk’ for doing too little to curb terror financing,” would have a financial implication for the country.

As a result of this inclusion, banks, other lenders and international companies seeking to do business with Pakistan could rethink financial ties, putting a damper on its already struggling economy, the daily said.

The FATF meeting is expected to continue till tomorrow.

Yesterday, US state department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the FATF is expected to take a decision by today on adding Pakistan to the ‘grey list’ of countries not doing enough to comply with terrorist-funding regulations.

Turkey Opens Fire on Regime Forces In Afrin

[The arrival of popular forces to support the people of Afrin … The forces of the Turkish regime target them with artillery]

The arrival of popular forces to support the people of Afrin … The forces of the Turkish regime target them with artillery

“The forces of the Turkish regime aimed at artillery where the presence of the Popular Forces upon arrival in the area Afrin, as well as targeting media delegations that keep pace with the arrival of the Popular Forces.

He pointed out that the Popular Forces deployed immediately upon arrival in the Afrin area in the points and centers specified to contribute to support the people defending their villages and homes against the attacks of terrorists “Daash” and the aggression of the Turkish regime and its mercenaries of terrorist organizations Takfiri.”–SANA NEWS

Turkey Opens Fire on Regime Forces In Afrin

Wednesday, 21 February, 2018 – 07:00
A wounded man is treated at a medical post in the besieged town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday [Bassam Khabieh/Reuters]
Ankara, Beirut, Moscow – Saeed Abdel-Razek, Nazeer Rida, Raed Jaber
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that his country managed to thwart a possible deployment of Syrian regime forces into the northwestern Afrin region.

“There was a movement towards Afrin by Shiite militias which were interrupted after they were shelled,” Erdogan said at a joint news conference alongside his Macedonian counterpart Gjorge Ivanov in Ankara.

He added that the militias were forced to go back after artillery shooting. “This file is closed for now,” he confirmed.

The Turkish president also said that it was impossible to give any terrorist organization a chance in Afrin.

“They would pay a heavy price for it,” Erdogan warned.

The arrival of pro-Syrian regime forces to the Kurdish Afrin area constituted on Tuesday an important development that adds to the existing conflict in Syria.

Turkey’s Anadolu agency reported that the withdrawal of the pro- Assad terror groups came when they were about 10 km away from Afrin.

On Tuesday, Syrian state television showed a convoy of pro-government fighters entering Afrin to help Kurds confront a Turkish assault.

As Damascus and Turkey were on the verge of triggering off a military clash, Russia was speeding its steps to avoid any confrontation between both forces.
Russia called on Ankara to start a direct dialogue with Damascus to reach a deal concerning Afrin.

Moscow had earlier denied having participated in any negotiations related to previous agreements between the Syrian regime and the Kurdish forces in Afrin, saying it prefers a direct dialogue between Ankara and Damascus.

Separately, deadly air strikes and artillery fire launched by Syrian regime forces against Damascus’ eastern Ghouta since last Sunday killed more than 200 civilians and wounded tens others.

The UN said “the humanitarian situation of civilians in Syria’s east Ghouta is spiraling out of control,” and called for a permanent ceasefire.

“Six hospitals have been struck over two days in the Syrian rebel enclave, putting three out of service and killing several people,” the United Nations said.

The Syrian opposition condemned on Tuesday the aggression on Ghouta, threatening to withdraw from the UN-sponsored peace talks.

“It is clear that the Damascus regime has no interest to engage in any dialogue,” said Nasr Hariri, head of the Syria Negotiation Commission representing opposition groups.

Washington’s Islamist Assets Being Relocated Once Again, This Time To Southeast Asia

The Tuzla Airlift–Sometimes History Refuses to Be Silent

America’s “Islamists” Go Where Oilmen Fear to Tread

ISIS–Professional Military Force, Projecting Power Where US Troops Cannot Go
Manufacturing Justification for the NATO Takeover of Central Asia–Smashing Greater Central Asia – (Part One)

Smashing Greater Central Asia—Part II
Smashing Greater Central Asia—Part III, Phantom Threats
Smashing Greater Central Asia – (Part IV)–Smashing Systematically

MANILA (Reuters) – Foreign Islamic State fighters forced out of Syria and Iraq have been arriving in the Philippines with the intent of recruiting, and they have plans to attack two Philippine towns, the head of the country’s largest Muslim rebel group said on Tuesday.

More than 1,100 people were killed last year when pro-Islamic State militants attacked and held the Philippine city of Marawi for five months, leading to massive destruction across the scenic lakeside town.

That could happen in other cities if Congress fails to pass a law to allow Muslims in the southern Philippines to run their own affairs, according to Ebrahim Murad, leader of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a separatist group which signed a peace deal with the government in return for greater autonomy.

“Based on our own intelligence information, foreign fighters who were displaced from the Middle East continued to enter into our porous borders and may be planning to take two southern cities – Iligan and Cotabato,” Murad said.

The two cities are 38 km (24 miles) and 265 km (165 miles) respectively from Marawi.

Murad said fighters from Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Middle East were known to have entered the Philippines, including a Middle Eastern man holding a Canadian passport.

That man went to a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, notorious for kidnapping and piracy, Murad said.

Murad said militants had been recruiting fighters in remote Muslim communities, exploiting delays in the passage of legislation aimed at addressing long-standing Muslim grievances, the Bangsamoro Basic law (BBL).

“These extremists are going into madrasas, teaching young Muslims their own version of the Koran, and some enter local universities to influence students, planting the seeds of hatred and violence,” he said.

Such a scenario would be a major headache for the military, which is fighting on multiple fronts on the southern island of Mindanao to defeat home-grown Islamic State loyalists, bandits and communist insurgents.

Mindanao is under martial law.

The military has said remnants of the militant alliance that occupied Marawi were trying to regroup and were using cash and gold looted from Marawi to recruit.

Murad’s statement echoed those of President Rodrigo Duterte, who last month urged lawmakers to pass the BBL, or face re-igniting war with separatists after two decades of peace.

“We cannot decisively win the war against extremism if we cannot win the peace in the halls of Congress,” Murad said.

Editing by Martin Petty, Robert Birsel