Executive Intelligence Review


A Major Turn of Events in Syria’s South

June 24, 2018 (EIRNS)—UN Ambassador Nikki Haley is not making American policy in Syria. After her statement of June 22 that Russia is to be held responsible for violating the southern de-escalation zone, Russian warplanes joined the Syrian Arab Army’s battle last night. At the same time, the U.S. government notified the southern rebel groups, via a letter seen by Reuters, to expect no military intervention on their behalf. This apparently motivated more units of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to turn to the side of the Syrian army against al-Qaeda and Hayt Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). As previously reported, even by Israeli officials, Iranian-supported militias are not acting in the area.

Were the Russian and U.S. actions coordinated? It would appear that, despite Haley’s threats, the Trump Administration is actually in support of the Syrian strategy to pressure any jihadi elements that don’t change sides to surrender and evacuate.

Al Masdar News first broke the news this morning that Russian aircraft had joined the campaign Saturday. A military source said that Russian aircraft had launched some 20 air strikes across northeastern Dara’a starting at about 23:00 Saturday local time (20:00 UTC) but that the majority of them hit the town of Busra Al-Harir, which practically divides the jihadi-held area in half. Within 40 minutes the number of air strikes was up to 30. Reuters reported that while Syrian government forces had so far made heavy use of artillery and rockets in the current assault, Russian warplanes had not been deployed until now.

The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement at midday Moscow time Sunday (UTC+3) reporting that FSA formations in 11 settlements had joined with the Syrian army to fight against ISIS and Jabhat al Nusra. “By the end of June 23 these settlements were fully under control of the legitimate Syrian authorities,” the Center for Reconciliation said. The statement comes just a day after the Syrian army and the FSA jointly repelled an attack by over 1,000 al-Nusra Front terrorists in the Syrian southern de-escalation zone, Sputnik reports.

It is possible that the developments in Eastern Ghouta, Aleppo and other areas will soon be seen here: Where some so-called rebel fighters will lay down their arms and settle their status with the government; others are evacuated to Idlib; and those that refuse, most likely ISIS, will be destroyed.

Iran’s Fars News Agency June 23 cited local sources reporting that the army’s rapid advances in Dara’a province caused jihadi groups to lay down their arms in the villages and towns of al-Lajah region (which Al Masdar called a major objective of the Syrian assault), and call for implementation of the reconciliation plan.