More Ground Troops to Syria, Warships to Libya, Pentagon Denies Mission Creep
Next Cold War Roundup 4/26/16
Rebels and al Qaeda continue to use “hell bombs” on the government-held part of Aleppo where anger and frustration is building. Syrian coalition seems prepared for a major offensive on Aleppo but it has not begun yet. More US ground troop “advisors” will be sent to Syria, doubling their number in the race (against Syrian coalition forces) for Raqqa. The NATO naval operation in the Mediterranean plans for expansion to Libya and to include US warships. Saudis and Yemeni troops with allies are fighting to reclaim parts of southern Yemen.
_ AP reports Yemen troops and UAE allies with Saudi and US coalition air support are fighting al Qaeda in Mukalla, southern Yemen. They claim to have retaken Yemen’s “largest oil export terminal from Al Qaeda on Monday.” Some extraordinary claims by Saudi officials about 800 al Qaeda killed has been seriously questioned by experts.
_ Yemen expert Iona Craig:
AQAP negotiated with military for control of Mukalla on arrival last April. Now seems they've negotiated their departure. As per Abyan 2012.
— Iona Craig أيونا (@ionacraig) April 24, 2016
_ Something about an “agreement to agree on how to reach an agreement” issued by the UN Security Council.
_ “al-Qaeda and the U.S. proxies are heavily targeting the government held western parts of Aleppo city.” Al Rai’s correspondent reports that yesterday was the “most violent day” in the history of the Syrian war as al Nusra and rebels have bombed every single street in the government-held part of Aleppo and the violence continued today with rebels “Hell cannon bombing.”
_ Al Masdar reports that the people of Aleppo are infuriated by the recent attacks, that a large part of the Syrian army is from Aleppo, and that they do not intend to flee to other government-held areas but citizens of Aleppo are frustrated with the Syrian forces. “Each time the Syrian Armed Forces announce an offensive at Aleppo City; it is called off within days.” Al Masdar calls it a “do or die” situation for the Syrian coalition.
_ Moon of Alabama (MofA) describes proposals by John Kerry for partitioning Syria into “zones of interest” (which he interprets as safe zones for al Qaeda and US-backed rebel jihadis) that were strongly and publicly rejected by the Russian foreign ministry. Russia complains that the US did not fulfill its part of a deal two months ago (around the time of Russian partial withdrawal) to move the so called moderate rebels covered by the ceasefire agreement away from the al Qaeda rebels who are fair game. This is the so called rebels “intermingled” with al Qaeda.
_ MofA sees the deployment of more US ground troops in Syria as a stubborn continuation of the NATO long held plan to slice Syria into pieces, with the US, French and British special forces on the ground working with the Kurds and SDF to grab as must territory as possible in a race to Raqqa, perhaps to be used in negotiations. Retired military intelligence Col. Lang sees it a little differently but also says “there will soon be a serious SDF/YPG offensive towards Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.”
_ The Russian air force is doing airstrikes in southern and western Aleppo province, targeting al Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham.
More US Troops to Syria, Saudi & Turkish Involvement in Sarin Attack
_ Sy Hersh says former chairman of Joint Chiefs Gen. Dempsey was always against sending more special operations forces into the Middle East. Hersh wonders why the US seems to be ignoring Saudi Arabia and Turkey’s role in the 2013 sarin gas attack in Ghouta. Hersh said he’s horrified at Pres. Obama’s announcement that he’s sending more troops, including special forces, into Syria. When asked what we’re doing in Syria, Hersh said he really doesn’t know but assumes it has something to do with the anti-Putin obsession. “I do not understand why he’s decided to jump into a war that was being run by—it’s being won right now by the Syrian army and its allies, including Russia. I just—I can just speculate that our anti-Putin, anti-Russian instinct in America continues apace. ”
_ A Norwegian fighter jet (F-16) fired on its control tower by accident in an exercise. Similar mistakes have been made before involving control towers. “Two F-16s were taking part in a mock attack on the uninhabited island of Tarva off Norway’s west coast when one of them opened fire with its M61 Vulcan cannon, which is capable of firing up to 100 rounds a second.”
US Warships to Join Expanded Operation in Libya
_ At a G5 meeting in Hanover, an escalation of naval operations off the coast of Libya was proposed for this summer. “EU leaders, especially Italian ministers, are deeply concerned by a potential surge in the number of refugees reaching Europe from Africa” no doubt due to the UN appointed government being forced into power. At a NATO summit in early July will put up for approval. It is an expansion/escalation of the current mission in the Mediterranean. “At the Nato level, we have asked for Operation Active Endeavour to be recalibrated from an anti-terrorist operation in the eastern Mediterranean to one which oversees the Libyan coast,”
_ In another flip flop, Britain’s foreign secretary says ground combat troops may go to Libya but this time he said the “any question of a British combat role in any form – ground, sea or air” would be put to parliament.