Syria

Fake gas attack in 5,4,3,2,1
 
Re. prisoners, from what I see online, IS fighters seem not to be surrendering, and Assad's lads/tribal supporters are not taking prisoners.
I think most went to places like Idlib and IS controlled areas.
I suppose, linking that to your point about Idlib, that might be a case where the main players hold a threat over the West as, put bluntly, a great many Idlibis are what we would regard as extremists (though, in fairness, many are there by an accident of war, bad luck, etc).
700k internally displaced, 2M population. When (not if) Assad’s forces attack they’ll be going through the so called ‘humanitarian corridors’ heading away from Assad govt controlled Syria.

I was thinking more on those currently held by the SDF personally. I’d much rather we had evidence of their crimes. Enough to revoke citizenship. Enough for a SDF Court.

There’s plenty of people in the West who will make enough noise to get them back. Irrespective of our feelings. Having the evidence to prove against such returns is frankly a no brainer for me.
 
I think most went to places like Idlib and IS controlled areas.

700k internally displaced, 2M population. When (not if) Assad’s forces attack they’ll be going through the so called ‘humanitarian corridors’ heading away from Assad govt controlled Syria.

I was thinking more on those currently held by the SDF personally. I’d much rather we had evidence of their crimes. Enough to revoke citizenship. Enough for a SDF Court.

There’s plenty of people in the West who will make enough noise to get them back. Irrespective of our feelings. Having the evidence to prove against such returns is frankly a no brainer for me.
The evidence question likely to be a very difficult one. The issue poses the old question of what's more important - public safety or the rights of someone who has likely done some very unpleasant things, and indeed went to Syria to build the sort of state they could not achieve here.
In all honesty, I am in the 'look away while the IS chaps meet a deserved sticky end' camp. We are struggling to cover the potential threats to the UK now, never mind dealing with x dozen experienced fighters returning from Syria.
 
You make a very good point about the IS prisoners. Quite handy for Assad/Kurds to sort that out.
Have a look at the westerners already caught in Syria or Iraq, or trying to get out. They all have excuses about being there for humanitarian reasons or to study religion. Our own chances of ever getting evidence against a large proportion of them that would stand up in a western court are pretty much nil. The area is simply too turbulent, the IS government records are non-existent or unreliable, finding reliable witnesses there and being able to get them into western courts without them immediately claiming asylum upon arrival is too difficult.

Western standards of justice require western standards of investigation and evidence, and those require a society functioning to western standards, which simply isn't reality. We have enough problems with a handful of western returnees from Afghanistan. Now multiply that by an order of magnitude and you begin to see the tip of the iceberg.

If these people returned home, realistically most of them would walk free and there would be nothing we could do about it without removing the sorts of freedoms from our society that we like to claim differentiates us from the "bad guys".

By the way, what then of Idlib? A Turkish protectorate, for ever? It's short term status seems settled but it's not an easy thing to solve. The irreconcilables are there and have nothing/little to gain from leaving, or a deal with Assad.
If Turkey gets a free hand in Syria, I suspect their intended end game would be to put themselves into a bargaining position with respect to Damascus which would give them influence over Syria as a whole. They want the refugees they are currently hosting to go home (note the UN says the return of refugees has already started and expects large numbers to start returning over the next year), and they want to make sure that someone is in a position to contain the Syrian Kurds. On a lesser level, they would also want to ensure the Turkmen minority in Syria get a good deal.

Beyond that, they would likely jockey for influence in Syria with Russia, and to a lesser extent, Iran. I suspect that they will from now on take a more active interest in Syria to try to prevent a re-run of the past decade. It's their border region, and there's no reason that I can see to try to stop them.
 
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The evidence question likely to be a very difficult one. The issue poses the old question of what's more important - public safety or the rights of someone who has likely done some very unpleasant things, and indeed went to Syria to build the sort of state they could not achieve here.
I don’t disagree. There’s plenty who would put the ‘rights’ of the individual above those of the general public though. Which is why I believe we will end up with a lot of undesirables.
In all honesty, I am in the 'look away while the IS chaps meet a deserved sticky end' camp.
#metoo. However, anyone who thinks Assad’s govt and allies will do our dirty work for us is somewhat misled to say the least imo.
We are struggling to cover the potential threats to the UK now, never mind dealing with x dozen experienced fighters returning from Syria.
I know. I very much know. However, the point being we’re supposed to think Assad’s govt and allies will take care of our problem which I find fanciful. As they who are captured are likely to attempt to come back, I’d rather we had the evidence to say why they shouldn’t come back.

I do know about what is being done unlike the speculation of others. I would rather have the evidence to revoke their citizenship or enough evidence to say they shouldn’t be allowed back or if they do come back (or are already here [hint hint]), to have enough evidence to say why they should be on certain watch lists.

That evidence finding is what can stop them returning. That evidence finding can make sure they’re high on a ‘watch list’. That evidence finding could even lead to prosecutions.

The fact that we could lose that line of enquiry is (one of) the things that concerns me.
 
I don’t disagree. There’s plenty who would put the ‘rights’ of the individual above those of the general public though. Which is why I believe we will end up with a lot of undesirables.

#metoo. However, anyone who thinks Assad’s govt and allies will do our dirty work for us is somewhat misled to say the least imo.

I know. I very much know. However, the point being we’re supposed to think Assad’s govt and allies will take care of our problem which I find fanciful. As they who are captured are likely to attempt to come back, I’d rather we had the evidence to say why they shouldn’t come back.

I do know about what is being done unlike the speculation of others. I would rather have the evidence to revoke their citizenship or enough evidence to say they shouldn’t be allowed back or if they do come back (or are already here [hint hint]), to have enough evidence to say why they should be on certain watch lists.

That evidence finding is what can stop them returning. That evidence finding can make sure they’re high on a ‘watch list’. That evidence finding could even lead to prosecutions.

The fact that we could lose that line of enquiry is (one of) the things that concerns me.
Hands up in terms of confessing that I don't know how many returnees there have been. I also don't know how many IS are held by Assad, the SDF, Kurds, etc.
I am surprised at the idea that Assad, the militias, SDF have taken, and kept alive, many IS. I defer to you if that is the case.
In terms of evidence, I don't see we can get any reliable evidence. That is, for prosecutions. Evidence will likely rely upon turned fighters whose evidence will be compromised by their past acts. I take your points but can't see how we achieve anything other than creating an ill-defined sense of who may be a real threat to us.
I don't envy the job of the Security Service. Conceding to one of your points, once the returnees are here, we have to treat them lawfully.
 
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Hands up in terms of confessing that I don't know how many returnees there have been. I also don't know how many IS are held by Assad, the SDF, Kurds, etc.
I am surprised at the idea that Assad, the militias, SDF have taken, and kept alive, many IS. I defer to you if that is the case.
The SDF have quite a few. These are the ones being mentioned as wanting to return or in some cases have had their citizenship revoked based on evidence, not supposition etc. To revoke citizenship means it can be challenged in law, which means the evidence needs to be there to be able to make a case.

It's the same on surveillance warrants. You need evidence to convince the issuer that there is a reason to put them under surveillance. It's not 'willy nilly': Police surveillance

Most 'surrendees' in Assad's and allies fighting after their 'deal' went north to Idlib with personal weapons, or like IS and their deals, went east to link up with other IS forces.

In terms of evidence, I don't see we can get any reliable evidence. That is, for prosecutions. Evidence will likely rely upon turned fighters whose evidence will be compromised by their past acts.
That never happened in Northern Ireland? The 'grasses' and 'super grasses'? If we have enough evidence to put people under surveillance ie with warrants or enough evidence to revoke citizenship, that is worthwhile imo.
I take your points but can't see how we achieve anything other than creating an ill-defined sense of who may be a real threat to us.
That's why they create Int gathering systems and match people and phone numbers and locations and video etc. Otherwise, you might as well say nobody is worth watching or everybody is a potential risk and no way of balancing out who is a higher or lower threat.
I don't envy the job of the Security Service.
A mate who was ex 2 Para, 14 Int and then MI5 has just retired. He's enjoying it :)
 
Turkey says Syrian Kurdish militants will be buried in ditches - Anadolu | Reuters
Turkey ramping up the rhetoric:
“Now we have Manbij and the east of the Euphrates in front of us. We are working intensively on this subject,” state-owned Anadolu news agency on Thursday reported Defence Minister Hulusi Akar as saying during a visit to a Qatari-Turkish joint military base in Doha.

“Right now it is being said that some ditches, tunnels were dug in Manbij and to the east of the Euphrates. They can dig tunnels or ditches if they want, they can go underground if they want, when the time and place comes they will buried in the ditches they dug. No one should doubt this.”
France seem to believe IS 'haven't been wiped from the map':
Defence Minister Florence Parly acknowledged on Twitter that the militant group had been weakened and lost some 90 percent of its territory, but said the battle was not over.

“Islamic State has not been wiped from the map nor have its roots. The last pockets of this terrorist organisation must be defeated militarily once and for all,” she said.
They feel the ongoing fight (for obvious reasons over the past couple of years), is essential:
“It shows that we can have different priorities and that we must count on ourselves first,” Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau told C-News television. “For now, of course we are staying in Syria because the fight against Islamic State is essential.”
They have 1100 troops, aircraft artillery and trainers in the region

SDF - U.S. withdrawal from Syria will spark Islamic State revival | Reuters
SDF clearly want the US to stay for many reasons, not least the defeat of IS:
The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces said on Thursday a White House decision to withdraw from Syria will allow an Islamic State revival and threaten the battle in eastern Syria.

The Kurdish-led force said pulling U.S. troops and officials out of its region would have “dangerous implications” on international stability.

This would also “create a political and military vacuum in the area, leaving its people between the claws of hostile parties,” the statement said.
 
It gives Turkey a freer hand to do whatever it was they intend to do anyway.
A lot freer hand given that US forces were embedded with the Kurdish troops. I can't help feeling this is the motive behind the timing of the announcement. Rather like the Saudi's we think we need to keep them onside so a few dead bodies are just collateral damage.
 
A lot freer hand given that US forces were embedded with the Kurdish troops. I can't help feeling this is the motive behind the timing of the announcement. Rather like the Saudi's we think we need to keep them onside so a few dead bodies are just collateral damage.
Personally, I wouldn't start counting chickens yet. Trump said he would pull out of Syria previously and still the operations against IS continued (once the Kurds got back from fighting Tr sponsored FSA). I'll wait and see what the Pentagon say. Meanwhile, France say's they've been here before:
France says Islamic State not wiped from map, troops to remain in Syria | Reuters
President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Trump on Wednesday, diplomats said. In April, when Trump previously announced a U.S. withdrawal, Macron persuaded the U.S. leader that Washington should stay engaged by citing the threat of Iran in the region.

French officials are scrambling to find out from U.S. agencies exactly what Trump’s announcement means. The United States has been unclear on when the troops will be withdrawn.

“We’re used to it now with the Trump administration. The devil is in the detail,” said one French diplomat.
Interestingly, they told Israel, but not France and I have no idea if we were told.
 
Personally, I wouldn't start counting chickens yet. Trump said he would pull out of Syria previously and still the operations against IS continued (once the Kurds got back from fighting Tr sponsored FSA). I'll wait and see what the Pentagon say.
While I agree we'll wait and see what the Pentagon does, my worry is that the Kurds won't get to come back this time. Turkey has a history of this sort of thing, ask the Armenians.
 
While I agree we'll wait and see what the Pentagon does, my worry is that the Kurds won't get to come back this time. Turkey has a history of this sort of thing, ask the Armenians.
The two previous operations, Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch were both fairly ,limited in scope. I believe Turkey is looking for a buffer across their entire border with Syria and Iraq plus of course they support their Turkomen FSA in their fight against Assad in Idlib and the areas surrounding Afrin.

It also depends if the US does pull out and the coalition follows suit, how far Assad is prepared to let his country be occupied by Turkey. He's said repeatedly he wants it all back. Turkey (Erdogan) are talking a good talk, but they're useful for Russia and Iran at the moment. Possibly not so much in the future.
 
A lot freer hand given that US forces were embedded with the Kurdish troops. I can't help feeling this is the motive behind the timing of the announcement. Rather like the Saudi's we think we need to keep them onside so a few dead bodies are just collateral damage.
As noted in the CBC report on this story, just hours before the pull out was made public the US announced a sale of US Patriot missiles to Turkey for $3.5 billion. These are the missiles the US has been so insistent that Turkey buy instead of S300s from Russia. That is truly an amazing coincidence.
U.S. begins pulling troops out of Syria as Trump claims victory over ISIS | CBC News
Just hours before the withdrawal decision became public, the State Department announced late Tuesday that it had approved the sale of a $3.5-billion US Patriot missile defence system to Turkey.
The Turks had complained that the U.S. was slow walking requests for air defences. They had signed a deal with Russia to buy a sophisticated system. Washington and Ankara's other NATO partners were strongly opposed to the Russia deal.
 
It gives Turkey a freer hand to do whatever it was they intend to do anyway. Whether or not they make good use of it is another question. When looking at the bigger picture however it probably doesn't make sense to stand in their way. Given a choice of keeping Turkey as an ally or of having control of a proxy force in the middle of worthless Syrian desert, the former may be the more rational choice.


You could argue either way so far as Russia's interests are concerned. A semi-permanent American occupation of eastern Syria would keep Damascus firmly in the arms of Moscow regardless of who was in power in Damascus. The removal of foreign occupiers from Syria means that the long term politics of Syria are more fluid.

More broadly, a permanent American occupation of eastern Syria, whether directly or by proxy forces in a way legitimises Russia doing the same with their neighbours, including Ukraine. "Little grey men" aren't somehow magically on a higher moral plane than "little green men".

Up to now the American involvement in eastern Syria has avoided that pitfall by acting on behalf of Iraq who were fighting a direct and major threat from an IS partially based in eastern Syria while Damascus was unable to effectively control their territory due to the ongoing civil war. With that threat having receded into the background and the Syrian government now apparently being willing and able to take control of the eastern part of their sovereign country, that justification has evaporated. Aiding Iraq is one thing, trying to use that justification to continue a Syrian civil war by other means is something else altogether.

There is another aspect to this whole problem as well, which we might want to take special note of. If the US and other western forces were to maintain a presence in Syrian territory, at some point there is a very high likelihood of western governments finding themselves saddled with responsibility for large numbers of surrendered foreign IS fighters. Leaving quickly before that can happen means leaving that problem behind to the tender mercies of the Kurds and the Syrian government. The last thing that I want to see is Trump twisting my own country's arm to take in masses of foreign terrorists that the US doesn't know what to do with and doesn't want for themselves. The Syrian and Iraqi governments are more likely to resort to measures which resolve that issue quickly and with finality.
A slightly different take from the Times of Israel, but the expected impact for the Kurds is the same.

'The departure of US forces foreshadows the construction of a “highway” that will offer a direct route for Iranians and Shiite militias between Tehran and Beirut. As a senior Arab diplomat explained to The Times of Israel, the development will allow Iranian Revolutionary Guards al-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani to drive straight from Tehran to the offices of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in Dahiya, Beirut.

'Trump, who apparently “understands the Middle East,” is abandoning them and betraying them, paving the way not only for an Iranian presence in the region but also for an unprecedented massacre of the Kurds.'

In Syrian withdrawal, Trump abandons Israel and the Kurds
 

Slime

LE
I'm going to add a very rambly post. :)
I've been having a look at various posts on a selection of forums today.

It's very clear that many UK based posters are massively upset at the goings on with Brexit and are outraged that their kids may need to spend 30 minutes getting their travel arrangements sorted to visit Europe in the future, or are worried that the lack of free travel will mean that their is no migrant from Europe on minimum wage to serve them their coffee in Starbucks.
I don't see even one post from these people even mentioning the Kurds, a group of people who have had promises broken to them for decades by the West/NATO and may be about to suffer yet another betrayal. It seems a cheap coffee counts for more than a Kurdish life!

Next ramble.
Avoiding being accused of invoking Godwin's law, I can't help seeing that more and more that President Trump is acting like he is a 'clever chap' with the answers to make his country strong, while not only annoying his neighbours but making some incredibly dumb strategic choices for his military or allies.
I know that is nothing new, but perhaps he is stepping up to a new level of stupid.

Ramble/rant over :)
 
UK had been talking with U.S. for days on Trump Syria withdrawal - May's spokesman | Reuters
Further to my point above, it seems we have known about the US intentions for days:
Britain had been in discussion with U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration for several days regarding his decision to withdraw troops from Syria, Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman said on Thursday.

Asked whether Britain had been given advance notice of the decision, he said: “We have been in discussion with our U.S. partners on this for a number of days.”
 
(...) It's very clear that many UK based posters are massively upset at the goings on with Brexit and are outraged that their kids may need to spend 30 minutes getting their travel arrangements sorted to visit Europe in the future, or are worried that the lack of free travel will mean that their is no migrant from Europe on minimum wage to serve them their coffee in Starbucks.
I don't see even one post from these people even mentioning the Kurds, a group of people who have had promises broken to them for decades by the West/NATO and may be about to suffer yet another betrayal. It seems a cheap coffee counts for more than a Kurdish life! (...)
The problem with the idea of an independent Kurdistan is that they would have no access to the sea while being surrounded by countries who were opposed to the existence of such a state (Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria). Nobody has come up with an answer to that one, otherwise I suspect we would have seen an independent Kurdistan by now.
 

Slime

LE
The problem with the idea of an independent Kurdistan is that they would have no access to the sea while being surrounded by countries who were opposed to the existence of such a state (Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Syria). Nobody has come up with an answer to that one, otherwise I suspect we would have seen an independent Kurdistan by now.
I don't disagree with any of that, and wasn't saying there will be any state for them, but merely commenting that the West/NATO have made quite a few pledges in the past which they then broke.
 
U.S. to end air war against Islamic State in Syria | Reuters
It's pretty much a done deal now. The US is pulling out of Syria, stopping air ops against IS in accordance with UNSC Resolution 2249. Trump says it is to fulfil his 2016 campaign pledge. Whether France, Germany and the UK can step up somewhat (they don't have the forces to do it entirely) or whether they too will withdraw, remains to be seen:
Trump defended his decision on Thursday, tweeting that he was fulfilling a promise from his 2016 presidential campaign to leave Syria. The United States was doing the work of other countries, including Russia and Iran, with little in return and it was “time for others to finally fight,” he wrote.

U.S. officials said Trump’s order to withdraw troops also signifies an end to the U.S. air campaign against Islamic State in Syria, which has been critical to rolling back the militants there and in neighbouring Iraq, with more than 100,000 bombs and missiles fired at targets in the two countries since 2015.

The SDF, supported by about 2,000 U.S. troops, are in the final stages of a campaign to recapture areas seized by the militants.
France obviously has reasons to stay, not least beause UNSC Resolution 2249 was theirs:
France’s Europe Minister Nathalie Loiseau said: “For now, of course we are staying in Syria because the fight against Islamic State is essential.”
the rest of the article goes on about previous points already raised.

Russia's Putin agrees with Trump that Islamic State defeated in Syria | Reuters
Vlad agrees IS are defeated (much like Assad said they were in November 2017). So far they've seen no signs of a US withdrawal:
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that he largely agreed with U.S. President Donald Trump that Islamic State had been defeated, but added that he was sceptical whether the United States would withdraw fully from Syria.

-----------------

Putin said Moscow had not noted any signs of a U.S. withdrawal, and that the United States had many times said it was leaving Afghanistan, but still retained a presence there.
U.S. representative for Syria cancels U.N. meetings - U.S. officials | Reuters
The US special representative for Syria has also cancelled his meeting at the UN:
The United States’ special representative for Syria has cancelled his planned meetings at the United Nations on Thursday to discuss the Syria peace process, U.S. officials said.

It was not clear who Jim Jeffrey had been scheduled to meet. The U.N.’s envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, was set to brief the U.N. Security Council on Syria’s peace process later on Thursday.
 
the Kurds, a group of people who have had promises broken to them for decades by the West/NATO and may be about to suffer yet another betrayal. It seems a cheap coffee counts for more than a Kurdish life!
To be 'fair' it appears they're being betrayed for a multi-million dollar Patriot missile contract, but essentially yes the Kurds are people who pretty collectively we don't think count,
 

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