As expected, the #Assad regime - supported by #Russia & yes, #Iran-backed militias - is well into a pre-planned offensive vs. opposition-held areas in S/SW #Syria.

= Violating de-escalation zone agreement & with little/no word/response from the opposition’s foreign backers.
#pt: At least one pro-#Assad Shia militia group overtly backed by #Iran/#IRGC -- Liwa Zulfiqar -- has publicly proclaimed its ongoing role in the offensive in south #Syria.

No word or response from #Israel, as yet.

[via @hadialbahra]
@hadialbahra #pt: The U.S’s impotent role in #Syria has again been revealed for all to see & exploit…

June 21: @StateDept threatens “serious repercussions” for any offensive in the south.

June 23: @USEmbassyJordan tells FSA 'we don’t have your back' [via @AbuJamajem]

June 25-27: Silence.
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem #pt: Meanwhile, pro-#Assad offensives continue to be indiscriminate affairs, with civilians the biggest likely victims.

This pilot flying over #Deraa says: “Here, the crisis began & here we’ll bury it.” [via @ZouhirAlShimale]

~ 50,000 civilians have been displaced thus far.
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale #pt: Amidst the #Assad regime’s new bombing campaign in #Deraa, I can’t help but hear senior U.S. officials’ recent words to me ring in my ear:

- ‘The south is the *one* area where we have real, meaningful influence… where we can actually help determine the shape of events…’
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale In the lead-up to this latest offensive, @CrisisGroup suggested the U.S. (& others) negotiate an #Assad regime return to ruling south #Syria.

Though they didn’t say it, that'd mean direct [U.S] complicity in further mass civilian displacement, presumably north to #Idlib/#Aleppo.
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup #pt: Yet again, the scope is minimalist & focused on achieving short-term wins (or preventing immediate ills), but advocating such policies only serves to exacerbate long-term challenges that threaten sustained instability.

Not just *in* #Syria, but vis-a-vis #Jordan & #Israel.
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup Precisely - it has been clear for some time that #Iran would take a minimal role in directing any operation in the south, though some of its affiliated forces would likely remain in smaller numbers. Very similar to East Ghouta.
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup 50+ people have been killed in #Russia & #Assad regime airstrikes in #Deraa in the last 24hrs - many women & children.

Dreadful images, as Deraa, Nawa, Jassem, Bosra al-Sham, Al-Musayfira & more are targeted relentlessly.

Graphic.
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup #pt: #Assad, the so-called “protector of minorities,” even made sure to bomb a Church in Sama’a yesterday, as well as the Christian community in Kharaba’a earlier today.

#Syria #Deraa
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup A note to observers of southern #Syria:

Neither #HTS nor Al-Qaeda have serious, strategic military capabilities in the south, having chosen to de-prioritize their presence there years ago.

The #ISIS-linked Jaish Khaled, meanwhile, is being left untouched by #Assad’s offensive.
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup#Putin’s Confliction Zone -
How #Russia conned #Trump in southwestern #Syria

- Excellent editorial by @WSJopinion, highlighting the pitiful U.S. response to events in #Deraa… "Begging is embarrassing.”

wsj.com/articles/putin…
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup @WSJopinion According to @IgnatiusPost, a #Trump-#Putin deal on #Syria - in which the U.S. would effectively withdraw *all* political demands - would see #Moscow try to secure x5 things…

- x4 already exist/underway
- x1 is a fantasy long-term

#TheArtofTheDeal

washingtonpost.com/opinions/globa…
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup @WSJopinion @IgnatiusPost "Despite clear and present interests… the U.S. government remains silent—effectively abandoning Syrian, #Jordan-ian & #Israel-i allies to deal w. the consequences alone.”

My latest comments on #Assad’s offensive in southern #Syria, for @MiddleEastInst

mei.edu/content/flash/…
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup @WSJopinion @IgnatiusPost @MiddleEastInst Many people focus on U.S. weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups like #ISIS.

So - it’s worth also mentioning that due to the #Trump admin’s decision to abandon its allies in southern #Syria, U.S. weapons have now fallen to a major State Sponsor of Terrorism: #Assad.
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup @WSJopinion @IgnatiusPost @MiddleEastInst 7yrs of miserably bad decision-making on #Syria has left policymakers in the U.S, #Europe, #Israel, #Saudi etc., with no choice but to cling on to the pipe dream that #Russia can/will remove #Iran from the country.

It’s a complete fantasy & it *guarantees* long-term instability.
@hadialbahra @StateDept @USEmbassyJordan @AbuJamajem @ZouhirAlShimale @CrisisGroup @WSJopinion @IgnatiusPost @MiddleEastInst The @UN now says 270,000-330,000 people have been displaced by the #Assad regime’s offensive in southern #Syria.

= Roughly 33-40% of the region’s entire population.

These IDPs have nowhere to go - neither #Jordan nor #Israel will open their borders.

It’s ~95°F daily in #Deraa.
#Iran & its militias are not leaving southern #Syria anytime soon - however hard some might try to say otherwise.

- Excellent map of #IRGC/militia network, via @ETANA_Syria
@ETANA_Syria After the breakdown of “reconciliation” talks, the #Assad regime & #Russia have massively ramped up aerial & ground-to-ground bombardment of remaining opposition-held areas of #Deraa.

Jets, helicopters, barrel bombs, rocket artillery/MRLs & ground assaults all ongoing. #Syria
@ETANA_Syria Pro-#Assad sources: #Hezbollah is helping command/coordinate the southern #Syria offensive - ridiculing the entire U.S/#Jordan/#Israel position on shifting dynamics in the south.

They're a “fundamental participant” working “under the cover” of the #SAA.

haaretz.com/middle-east-ne…
@ETANA_Syria Pro-#Assad sources are reporting that #Israel just launched strikes (unclear if air-ground or ground-ground) on regime troops near al-Baath in #Quneitra, #Syria - possibly in response to “errant” mortar fire that crossed the #Golan line.
@ETANA_Syria NEW - Multiple sources say the opposition has reached an agreement with #Russia in SW #Syria:

- Full ceasefire
- Heavy weapons surrendered
- #SAA withdraws from 4 villages
- #Nassib crossing ceded to regime/Russian military police
- Optional FSA/#Ahrar/#HTS transfer to #Idlib
#Israel just shot down a drone flying towards/into its airspace alongside #Syria/#Golan.

That’s the second Patriot SAM shoot-down of a [likely] #Assad regime/#Iran UAV in 72hrs.

And yet, I thought #Assad’s conquest of #Deraa was meant to stabilize #Syria’s south? Huh…

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More from @Charles_Lister

Sep 21, 2018
My goodness: here's a prime example of policy advocacy on #Syria based either on ignorance, or [hopefully not] malign intent.

This is *riddled* with inaccuracy & misinformation.

@steelejourno says the West should force an opposition surrender in #Syria:

theguardian.com/commentisfree/…
@steelejourno #pt: @steelejourno says the US, UK & #France are “less honorable” in seeking to delay #Syria & #Russia’s “success” in regaining territory.

- They seek to enable a meaningful political process, in which there’s an opposition entity to sit at the table. I’d say that is honorable.
@steelejourno #pt: Here, @steelejourno says UK, US, France & "Gulf Arab monarchies” want ceasefires to protect rebels, not civilians.

In #Idlib, nothing could be further from the truth. None of those countries have *any* ties to rebel groups in #Idlib, who only equal ~0.5% of the population.
Read 10 tweets
Sep 20, 2018
Absolutely extraordinary.

#Syria’s air defense systems have no way to determine “friend” from “foe.” #Russia doesn’t export that tech.

Within a complex & unpredictable environment, that raises the risk to civilian aircraft
significantly.
#Israel says #Syria’s air defense fired “dozens” of anti-aircraft missiles from several batteries across the country over the space of 40-mins… *after* #IAF planes had returned to #Israel.

One took down #Russia’s IL-20.

timesofisrael.com/syria-fired-mi…
To me, this looks like messaging more than a truly dramatic change in reality/dynamics:

- S-300s already deployed in #Syria.

- #Israel (& US) uses encrypted radar/GPS; less vulnerable to counter-measures

- #Russia has been “jamming” for 2+ yrs.

- #Israel fires most from Med.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 17, 2018
BREAKING - Likely #Israel airstrikes just hit a scientific research center - reportedly linked to the SSRC - in #Latakia.

#Assad regime air defenses were allegedly activated in multiple provinces: #Latakia, #Tartus, #Homs & #Hama.
Mabrouk #Assad - your invincible air defenses shot down an aircraft!

... a #Russia IL-20 reconnaissance plane was shot down over #Syria tonight - amid #Israel airstrikes in #Latakia.

#OwnGoal

Tonight’s developments vis-a-vis #Israel & Russia are a pretty big deal.

It would seem #Israel may have acted without giving #Moscow prior warning = big challenge to their prior arrangement.

Or, #Russia did know, but got attacked by their errant ally in #Damascus = humiliating.
Read 7 tweets
Aug 22, 2018
Fascinating work by @HaidHaid22 - looking at initiatives (or a lack, thereof) by the #SDF & the #FSA to reconcile/rehabilitate/reintegrate #ISIS detainees in northern #Syria.

Really important backgrounder:

icsr.info/2018/08/20/rei…
@HaidHaid22 #pt: According to @HaidHaid22’s work for @ICSR_Centre, one’s decision to join #ISIS in #Syria was driven primarily by x4 factors:

1. Financial benefits
2. Protection
3. Military capacity
4. Ideology

Less than 20% of recruits joined for ideological reasons.
@HaidHaid22 @ICSR_Centre #pt: @HaidHaid22 raises a number of important questions for @CJTFOIR & its #SDF partner:

- Surging strains on the #SDF's makeshift prison network holding 1,000s of #ISIS prisoners, raises risks of eventual #ISIS attacks, aimed at replicating #Iraq’s 2012-3 “Breaking the Walls.”
Read 4 tweets
Aug 20, 2018
Here, a @UKLabour MP praises a notorious conspiracist who says meeting Bashar al-#Assad was her "proudest" moment.

She's justified incendiary weapons & barrel bombs on civilian targets; suggested 9/11 was a false flag; Zionists rule #France & the #CharlieHebdo attack was fake.
@UKLabour Extraordinary.

@UU_University invited notorious conspiracist Vanessa Beeley to lecture on “War Reporting.”

Her claims were so outlandish, the students walked out & boycotted the course, calling it “a propaganda camp.”

news.postimees.ee/4511277/top-un…

(PS - Look at the pictured slide)
@UKLabour @UU_University #pt: Among Beeley’s claims at @UU_University:

- @hrw is run by a secret “Jewish organization called the #Washington elite.”

- #Russia only promotes international peace

- #Syria’s opposition "tear pregnant women in half, betw'n cats”

- All media (e.g. @guardian) are govt tools
Read 4 tweets
Aug 17, 2018
Images of White Helmets weeding and cleaning the exterior of a Church in #Idlib appear to have terrified the pro-#Assad community.

Nothing short of hysteria coming from the regime loyalist crowd over the last 12hrs. #Syria
This “veteran correspondent” is losing it.

#Syria #Idlib
St. Joseph’s Church in the village al-Quneya - the one cleaned by White Helmets - in west #Idlib suffered substantial damage when it was bombed by #Assad regime forces in April 2013.

So much for being the protector of Christians & #Syria’s minorities.

Read 5 tweets

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