On the meme of the Western-backed “anti-imperialist” YPG volunteer fighters.

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A guide to how the US supported the Assad regime

Informational statements written for the Syria Solidarity Campaign UK

  1. America: Stop Supporting the Assad Regime!
    Since its entry into the Syrian war in September 2014, the US government has served to prop up the Assad regime, rehabilitate it internationally, undermine the mainstream Syrian resistance and increase the suffering and killing of the Syrian people.

    The US government has coordinated intelligence and airstrikes with the Syrian regime [1], whilst blockading the supply of heavy weaponry by pro-rebel regional states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, notably including the complete ban on the supply of anti-aircraft missiles [2]. The Syrian regime’s use of an airforce within its own borders between 2012-2016 (5 years) has been unprecedented in the Middle East history, with the regime airforce’s daily blitzkriegs eclipsing that of Spain’s infamous General Franco during the Spanish war. Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, has become the modern-day Guernica and now holds the “record” of being the most aerially bombarded city in the world since the Second World War.

    The United States is directly complicit in this “record-breaking”. The US government continues to blockade measures by regional countries to end this unprecedented reality. Not only this, in 2014 the US airforce entered Syrian airspace on the same side of the fascist genocidal Syrian regime, coordinating intelligence with it and even supporting its ground forces in certain offensives [3]. Syrian residents have routinely sardonically remarked that they were be bombed by the regime airforce during the day and the US airforce at night [4]. As a symbol of the extent of the US government’s complicity with Assad’s unparalleled blitzkriegs, the US has even refused to grant early radar warnings of incoming regime airstrikes to rescue workers of the Syrian Civil Defence (“White Helmets”), which would simply allow them to try and evacuate civilian areas before destruction hits [5]. Up to (and potentially more than) 1,500 civilians have been killed by the US-led “International Coalition” campaign in Syria and Iraq [6], to add to the thousands killed every month by the fascist regime and its allies.

    Furthermore, the US has repeatedly launched airstrikes on mainstream rebel factions [7], whilst simultaneously not only completely ignoring the forces of the “sovereign” Syrian government (zero airstrikes to date), but also various non-governmental foreign militias present illegally on Syrian territory. All of these militias have come to Syria through Western-backed allies, such as Iraq and Lebanon. The declaredly pro-Assad Iraqi government sponsors tens of thousands of sectarian militiamen travelling to Syria to fight for Assad, whilst the Lebanese government is effectively controlled by Hezbollah and could not or would not stop Hezbollah’s invasion of Syria launched from its “sovereign” territory, or even demand its withdrawal.

    Indeed, many sectarian Iraqi militias which have entered into Syria (not recently but since 2013) have been armed by the US [8]. The sectarian Iraqi militias (estimated to number 30,000 men distributed over 30+ militias) are estimated now to constitute the single biggest fighting component of Assadist loyalist forces, outnumbering Hezbollah and the remaining fighting elements of the so-called “Syrian Arab Army” [9].

    Yet despite the free entry of Iraqi and Lebanese militias into Syria, militias which have changed the balance of forces in the conflict (with the manpower depletion of the minority-based so-called “Syrian Arab Army”) and helped to reinstate the “stalemate equilibrium” which has been US policy of the Syrian war, the United States has not only refused to decrease (or sanction) aid for the Iraqi and Lebanese governments but has actually increased it [10]. It has, furthermore, concealed from public knowledge the reality of these pro-Assad militias which is barely reported in coverage of the conflict.

    The US, furthermore, also arms the Egyptian regime of Abdul Fatah al-Sisi which has also provided military support to the Assad regime [11]. The US also directly arms the pro-Assad tribal militia, the Jaish al-Sanadeed, as part of the “Syrian Democratic Forces” [12].

    Finally, US statements (not just actions) since 2012 have also served to rehabilitate the Syrian regime’s “legitimacy” on the international stage, far more than the Russian government. Since 2012 the US has consistently argued against the military defeat of the fascist Syrian regime forces [see our full statement for further details and references] and the preservation of regime apparatuses including state security forces, indeed even going further to state that Syrian rebels should cooperate with the Syrian Army even before any Assad resignation [13]. The US has also made it clear that is only seeking a negotiated “safe exit” for Assad [14] (the same attempted pacification of the Arab Spring as in Egypt and Yemen) and is against the revolution’s fundamental demand to “bring the downfall of the regime” in its entirety and and its accountability [15]. This is why the US has directly prevented the regime falling at various points and routinely sabotaged various rebel military campaigns throughout the conflict [see our full statement for further details and references].

    In “ruling out” (long before the rise of ISIS) rebels bringing down the regime with military force [16], US policy since 2012 has been effectively to “convince” Assad to resign out of his own good will (as precedented in Egypt and Yemen) whilst in the meantime ensuring a “level playing field” which sustains a weakened rebellion, a weakened regime and a “balance” of destruction [17]. The obvious failure of this and the obvious refusal of Assad to take the step of resigning, and yet the nonetheless continued adoption of this pretense policy by the US government has not enamoured it with or fooled the revolutionary Syrian people, who now know beyond doubt that both the US and Russia have prevented the collapse of the Assad regime. The US government has long proven through both word and deed that beyond its compulsory “Assad must resign” statements (as it did with Egypt’s Mubarak and Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh) it would rather the Syrian regime stay in power, even with Assad at its head, than stop interfering to prevent the downfall (or as it calls it, “collapse” [18]) of the regime in its entirety.

    Join us to say no to US duplicity in Syria, no to its policy of double-dealing with different sides of the conflict, and no to its policy of “mutual destruction”, genocide appeasement, regime preservation and endless war.

    ————–
    Our Demands:

    1. Regarding Proxy Support for the Assad regime:

    – The United States must stop arming sectarian Iraqi militias which fight in Syria for the Assad regime.
    – The United States must stop arming/sanction the Iraqi government if it does not force the withdrawal of Iraqi militias fighting for Assad. These are extremely crucial to the regime’s survival and are numbered in the tens of thousands.

    – The United States must stop arming/sanction the Egyptian regime if it does not stop its military provisions for the Assad regime.

    – The United States must stop arming/sanction the Lebanese state if it fails to enforce the withdrawal of Hezbollah from Syria, an invasion launched from its sovereign territory. The United States currently supports the Lebanese army which is effectively under the control of Hezbollah and whose abuses against Syrian refugees have been well-reported.

    – The United States must stop arming the tribal militia Jaish al-Sanadeed, the main Arab component of the so-called “Syrian Democratic Forces” and who are declared Assad loyalists.

    – The United States must investigate any complicity of their allied Afghani and Pakistani governments, both declaredly pro-Assad, in the recruitment of their citizens in pro-Assad militias (including Fatemeyoon and Zaynebeyoon) [19].

    2. Direct Military Involvement: The United States must withdraw its military forces from Syria, an involvement which has only served to prolong the Assad regime’s survival and repeatedly stave off its collapse at various points at its most vulnerable moments (see our statement for more details/references). To that end:

    – The United States must stop targeting any sides in the conflict, including the targeting of civilians.

    – The United States must stop the sharing of intelligence with the Syrian regime.

    – The United States must end its interference and “vetoeing”/blockade of serious military provisions to the Syrian rebels by Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, which could otherwise in short time tip the balance against the Assad regime. Notably the United States must end the blockade on the arming of local Syrian resistance forces with anti-aircraft missiles. Qatar and Saudi Arabia must be allowed to provide anti-aircraft and anti-tank weaponry to mainstream rebel brigades as necessary and without restriction.

    – The United States must withdraw all of its foreign ground forces present on Syrian land, including the so-called “special advisors” currently embedded with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) [20], which Barack Obama had stated would not be deployed [21]. Syrian revolutionaries are more than sufficient in fighting ISIS and fought ISIS long before the US coalition [22].

    – The United States must dismantle any military bases it is reported to be building and plans to occupy in Northern Syria [23].

    For more details and our full statement, please visit:
    – The US government must end support, both proxy and direct, for the genocidal Assad regime –

    We hope to see you there

    Omar Sabbor (2016)

    References:
    [1]
    Sharing of intelligence:
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/us-gives-intelligence-assad-targetting-isis-commanders-1462375
    http://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-1.615892
    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/syria-given-information-about-u-s-led-airstrikes-against-isis-n303381
    – “West cooperating secretly with Damascus against militants: Assad” –http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-assad-idUSKCN0ZG28G
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/west-poised-to-join-forces-with-president-assad-in-face-of-islamic-state-9686666.html
    http://www.rferl.org/content/islamic-state-russia-united-states-syria/26638582.html
    Launching of joint airstrikes:
    http://aranews.net/2015/05/u-s-and-syrian-warplanes-launch-simultaneous-strikes-against-isis-in-raqqa/
    http://aranews.net/2014/11/u-s-warplanes-pro-assad-forces-target-isis-locations-hasakah/?utm_source=twitter
    https://en.zamanalwsl.net/news/16357.html
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/10/here-s-how-obama-and-assad-team-up-against-isis.html
    http://uk.businessinsider.com/us-sharing-skies-with-syria-and-iran-2014-12
    http://leftfootforward.org/2014/12/raqqa-to-appease-iran-obama-gives-assads-air-force-a-free-pass-for-slaughter/
    https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/as-assad-and-us-play-two-step-bombing-raqqa-assad-demands-us-bomb-more-efficiently/
    Syrian regime statements welcoming US intervention:
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4576118,00.html
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-syria-crisis-minister-idUSKCN0HJ19S20140924
    http://syriadirect.org/news/syria-direct-news-update-9-24-14/ : “Meanwhile, the pro-government news network Damascus Now hailed the strikes on Wednesday as a historic moment, in which “happiness was etched on the faces of the majority of Syrians, because they found international support towards eradicating a cancer which has been rooted in the diseased Syrian body,” referring to the rebels.”
    http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/syria/28092014
    [2] – http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20160415/1038088490/us-syria-opposition-manpads.html
    http://uk.businessinsider.com/us-official-describes-nightmare-manpad-scenario-in-syria-2015-10
    http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/saudi-arabian-fm-says-syrian-rebels-should-be-provided-surface-air-missiles-1544958
    http://www.umayya.org/en/publications-en-en/policyanalysis-en/6327
    http://english.aawsat.com/2016/04/article55350042/u-s-veto-arming-syrian-opposition
    http://www.menewsline.com/article-27134-U-S-Jordan-Block-MANPADS-To-Reb.aspx
    http://eldorar.com/node/75179
    http://alasr.me/articles/view/17292
    [3]
    https://twitter.com/CENTCOMArabic/status/745624962506100736
    https://twitter.com/hxhassan/status/541138358106193920
    https://twitter.com/usembassysyria/status/540972704741220352
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10205119461334378&set=a.1574479010108.2070542.1479552245&type=3&theater
    https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/who-has-the-us-bombed-for-in-syria/
    http://syriadirect.org/news/syria-direct-news-update-9-24-14/
    http://www.almasdarnews.com/article/nowhere-retreat-isis-militants-deir-ezzor-syrian-army-intensifies-attacks-west
    https://yallasouriya.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/syria-homs-rif-intl-coalition-target-the-rif/
    https://twitter.com/HASAKH_NEWS/status/565828914472177664
    [4] – http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/09/syria-isis-bashar-al-assad-coalition-air-strikes :
    ‘…“Syrian warplanes used to shell us two or three times a week but now they target us every day thanks to the coalition forces,” Faris Samir, from Harm in the northern Idlib region, complained on Thursday. “We are losing martyrs and many get injured but no one pays any attention. Now the Syrian [regime] army is taking areas bombed by the coalition forces after the Islamic factions withdraw. I have to say that the coalition military campaign is in the interest of the Syrian regime and against the Syrian people.”’
    http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/sharing-skies-assad-america-s-predicament-syria-1105355734 : “The politics don’t matter to the people here, all we see is one type of death – it comes from the sky, whether the Americans are dropping the bombs or Assad, it makes no difference. They are both murdering us. What do you expect any sane person to think here? One day American airplanes and the next Bashar’s, how do they not crash or shoot each other? It is simple, they call each other and say today is my turn to kill the people of Raqqa, please don’t bother me, it will be yours tomorrow”
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/02/10/here-s-how-obama-and-assad-team-up-against-isis.html : “We are seeing coalition warplanes hit targets during the day in Raqqa province and then Syrian warplanes follow-up with more indiscriminate strikes at night,” a commander with the Free Syrian Army told The Daily Beast. “This is not a coincidence—to argue that it is stretches credulity””
    http://www.worldcrunch.com/54d9089fd29b53f0e879ecc81cd99d34/world-affairs/no-the-progressive-syrian-opposition-is-not-dead/protests-raed-fares-activism-assad/c1s17292/#.VEzWuxYxg1J ; “[The U.S.] bombed Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, parts of Homs and Aleppo. But [their] airplanes fly over our city along with the regime air force, which means that they and the regime are coordinating. They say they don’t want to coordinate with the Assad regime, but [U.S.] planes are flying with the regimes in the same air space”
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/03/why-does-the-free-syrian-army-hate-us.html : “The American and Syrian warplanes are flying in the same airspace,” he expounds incredulously. “There has to be some communication for them to avoid each other!”
    [5] – https://act.thesyriacampaign.org/sign/warn_civilians_of_attacks/
    https://news.vice.com/article/activists-want-the-us-to-warn-syrian-first-responders-about-incoming-barrel-bombs
    [6] – https://airwars.org/news/international-airstrikes-and-civilian-casualties-in-iraq-and-syria-december-2015-to-may-2016/
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/mikegiglio/the-us-led-coalition-bombing-syria-has-killed-more-civilians :
    “A witness to the attack in Bir Mahli, a 67-year-old man who goes by the nickname Abu Khaled, described family after family killed in a series of strikes, giving names that match reports from monitoring groups. “They killed whole families,” he said, speaking by phone from southern Turkey. “The Americans will never apologize, and they will keep killing civilians. They could have stopped Assad at the beginning if they cared about human rights.””
    [7] – http://eaworldview.com/2014/11/syria-daily-insurgent-leader-us-bombed-us-abort-revolution/
    http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2014/Nov-06/276728-syrias-ahrar-al-sham-says-coalition-strikes-on-it-killed-civilians-statement.ashx
    http://eaworldview.com/2015/08/syria-daily-why-did-us-led-coalition-bomb-rebels-near-turkish-border/
    http://eaworldview.com/2015/08/syria-feature-residents-grieve-as-us-finally-admits-airstrike-on-rebels-near-turkish-border/
    https://twitter.com/joshua_landis/status/516696525049573376
    http://www.aksalser.com/index.php?page=view_articles&id=0c9a0c60f2a055595be113ce9f70ec5e : “After the International Coalition’s bombing of the Justice Brigade, the Free Army’s Joint Staff request a clarification of the concept of “moderate opposition”!”
    https://www.zamanalwsl.net/en/news/6704.html
    http://permalink.gmane.org/gmane.politics.marxism.marxmail/190733
    https://mkaradjis.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/who-has-the-us-bombed-for-in-syria/
    http://sn4hr.org/wp-content/pdf/english/civilian_killed_by_the_international_coalition_forces_en.pdf
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/mikegiglio/us-goes-to-war-with-jabhat-al-nusra
    [8] – http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/iran-backed-militias-using-american-tanks-battle-809449820
    https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2015-01-08/iranbacked-militias-are-getting-us-weapons-in-iraq
    http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2016/03/iraqi-shia-militias-show-us-made-equipment-on-road-to-samarra.php
    http://sputniknews.com/military/20160215/1034757495/us-iraqi-shia-turn-assad.html
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/07/10/us-weapons-syria-shiites/2503953/
    [9] – http://russia-insider.com/en/syrias-army-now-almost-fiction/ri12624
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/09/where-are-the-syrians-in-assads-syrian-arab-army/
    https://warisboring.com/whats-left-of-the-syrian-arab-army-eec39485df43#.63k09ekqd
    http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/syrias-embattled-president-admits-manpower-shortage-n398651
    https://informnapalm.org/en/feb21-syria-general-rahal/
    http://uk.businessinsider.com/iran-backed-iraqi-militias-are-pouring-into-syria-2015-10?r=US&IR=T
    http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/shia-jihad-and-death-syria-s-army-1508759016
    http://www.mei.edu/content/at/return-iraqi-shi‘i-militias-syria
    http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/e1243662-2c67-11e5-acfb-cbd2e1c81cca.html#axzz3geTA9xPT
    http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/the-shiite-jihad-in-syria-and-its-regional-effects
    https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/uploads/Documents/pubs/PF138Appendices/PF138_Appendix_2.pdf
    [10] Iraq: – https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/19/iraq-crisis-us-urging-maliki-to-resign-live-updates
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-security-usa-idUSKBN0GF21V20140815
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/with-maliki-out-of-the-picture-u-s-prepares-to-boost-iraq-aid-1408143896
    Lebanon: – http://yalibnan.com/2015/10/02/u-s-doubles-its-military-assistance-to-lebanese-army-envoy-says/
    http://yalibnan.com/2016/02/05/us-pledges-an-additional-400-million-to-lebanon-army-in-military-aid/
    http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/patrick-goodenough/saudis-cut-military-aid-lebanon-over-iranhezbollah-support-us
    [11] – http://syrianobserver.com/EN/News/29728/Cairo_Strengthens_Ties_With_Assad_Regime_Through_Military_Support
    https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/NewsReports/565813-retired-general-egypt-arming-syria-regime
    http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Amid-Aleppo-bloodshed-former-Iranian-politician-praises-Egypts-support-for-Assad-452867
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-mideast-crisis-syria-egypt-idUKKCN0RX0VZ20151003
    https://eternispring.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/sisis-missiles-are-raining-over-aleppo/
    [12] – https://www.alaraby.co.uk/politics/2015/7/2/سورية-النظام-يسترضي-القوات-الكردية-في-الحسكة
    http://all4syria.info/Archive/248959
    http://www.aljazeera.net/news/reportsandinterviews/2015/10/17/المعارضة-السورية-تشكك-بمليشيات-تدعمها-واشنطن : ‘Syrian opposition suspicious about militias supported by Washington’. Article quotes FSA official who states “Based on its foundation statement, we cannot say that the SDF coalesces with the FSA and achieves the goals of the revolution”
    http://al-akhbar.com/node/209385 : Jaish al-Sanadeed leader, “Sheikh” Hameedi al-Jarba “does not see the Syrian Army as an enemy, and does not look to confront it”, also stating “The one who rules Damascus rules Hassakah, for it is an inseperable part of Syria, and the Syrian Government is strong and standing but it is not present in his area, and this difficult circumstance has forced upon us the taking of arms to fill the security vacuum and face dangers”
    http://anbaaonline.com/?p=381206 : ‘Al-Modon [Newspaper] reveals alliance between Washington-Moscow and Syrian Democratic Forces’
    http://syriadirect.org/news/ahead-of-battle-against-islamic-state-in-syria’s-northeast-one-faction-hesitates-to-join-sdf/
    http://www.newroz-syria.com/portal/node/3603 : Claims that Jaish al-Sanadeed trained as part of Syrian Army 154 Corps by Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards
    [13] http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/2015/12/04/Kerry-Syria-government-rebels-could-cooperate-vs-ISIS-before-Assad-goes.html
    [14] http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/255245-kerry-syrias-assad-needs-to-go-off-into-the-sunset
    [15] uk.businessinsider.com/john-kerry-regime-change-syria-bashar-assad-2015-12?r=US&IR=T

    – Source: Statement on a Syria Solidarity Campaign protest in front of the US Embassy – dated July 17th 2016
  2. Foreign militias out of Syria!


    As Russia burns Aleppo from the sky, 5,000 foreign invaders prepare to invade it on Assad’s behalf on the ground.

    BRIEF

    It is constantly proclaimed in Western policy circles that seeing that the Assad regime is armed mainly by Russia (as opposed to Western governments) there is not much Western countries can do to stop Assad, short of direct military intervention. In reality, this is not the case. Western policy since 2012 has helped maintain a lopsided playing field that has favoured the survival of the Assad regime and prevented its conclusive defeat – both in terms of weapons and manpower. In terms of weapons, Western policy – as ultimately determined by the Obama Administration in the United States – has ensured over five years that the Syrian opposition has received nothing near the military aid that the Assad regime has had (despite the presence of willing pro-opposition backers in the region) and it has more crucially and detrimentally ensured that the Assad regime’s daily bombings of civilians continued for 5 years in a row, a civil war record, via the US administration’s veto on the supply of anti-aircraft weaponry by regional allies to Syrian revolutionary forces. This unprecedented domestic use of an airforce is the overwhelming reason for the high civilian casualty count and refugee crisis.

    Simultaneously, since the first signs of the depletion of manpower in the Assad regime’s “Syrian Arab Army” (SAA) appeared in 2013, Western governments have turned a blind eye to the unrestricted entry of tens of thousands of foreign sectarian militiamen filling the manpower shortages within the Syrian Army. The active fighting core of the Syrian Army had always been heavily drawn from minority communities and with the death of tens of thousands of minority soldiers as the civil war lengthened, the strain was heavily felt within these communities (the Alawite community in particular lost a third of its male youth to defend the Assad regime). Serious manpower shortages ensued, notably through conscription dodging in regime-loyalist areas. The manpower shortages became apparent from 2014.

    Today foreign sectarian militiamen, coming from Iraq, Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, are no longer just a useful accessory to the “Syrian Army” – they have long surpassed it in importance and now constitute the overwhelming fighting force of pro-regime forces. The role of Iraqi militias – which are official substate actors under the Iraqi government – in particular is crucial. It has not escaped the attention of Syrians that the 2003 Iraq invasion which came to support democracy in the region put in place a sectarian regime which today is the largest provider of manpower to the Assad regime that is crushing the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people and levelling the cities where these aspirations were voiced. It should be noted that Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan are all strong allies of both the United Kingdom and the Assad regime, as is the effectively Hezbollah-controlled Lebanese state.

    TO THIS END – The UK government must place immediate and serious pressure for an end of the participation of foreign pro-Assad militias in the current regime ground offensive in Aleppo and the war in general, notably such as those from allied states, especially Iraq. Out of 6,000 fighters preparing to advance on Aleppo under Russian air-cover, 5,000 are estimated to be foreign militiamen, notably from Iraq.
    OUR DEMANDS

    – The UK government must immediately pressure the Iraqi government to withdraw its paramilitary groups from Syria – numbering between 20-30+ – most of which form the “Popular Mobilisation Units” (PMU) and all of which operate with official sanction from the central government in Baghdad. Prominent names include:

    – Liwa Abul Fadl al-Abbas
    – Asai’b Ahl al-Haq
    – Harakat al-Nujaba’
    – Kata’ib Hezbollah
    – Kata’ib al-Imam Ali
    – Kata’ib Sayid Al-Shuahada’
    – Badr Organisation – Military Wing

    Iraqi militias played a crucial role in the capture of Daraya in August and today are the core force of the Assad regime’s ground operation in Aleppo. One of the Iraqi militias currently on the Aleppo frontlines, Harakat Al-Nujaba’a, have called for a Sectarian Cleansing of rebel-held Aleppo’s population as has occurred elsewhere in areas recaptured by the Assad regime, such as Homs and Daraya.

    The UK government must stop all weapon supplies, military and economic aid and coordination with the Iraqi government until the withdrawal of all Iraqi militias from Syria is achieved.

    – The UK government must immediately pressure the Lebanese government to close its borders to the further entry of Hezbollah troops into Syria in aid of the Assad regime, and must stop all financial and military aid to Lebanon until Hezbollah fully withdraws to the boundaries of the Lebanese state.

    – The UK government must immediately pressure the Afghani and Pakistani government to stop turning a blind eye and take steps to stop the rendition of its citizens by Iran and their transfer to Syria to fight for the Assad regime.

    – The UK government must immediately pressure the Iranian government – with which it has now normalised diplomatic ties (including the reopening of embassies in London and Tehran) – to withdraw its forces stationed on Syrian territory, including Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and regular army troops, and to stop the sponsoring of Iraqi, Lebanese, Afghani and Pakistani militias fighting overseas in Syria. The UK government must immediately cease all trade contracts being agreed/negotiated between UK companies and firms with Iran until the full withdrawal of Iranian and Iranian-sponsored forces from Syria – in particular contracts pertaining to Iran’s military and aerospace industry.

    – Source: Statement for a Syria Solidarity Campaign protest – dated October 4th 2016

  3.  Save Wadi Barada!

    UK responsibility

    The UK has for years proclaimed that it stands against the Assad regime. Yet despite these proclamations we find that the UK continues to provide major military aid to regional states which have proven crucial in the survival of the Assad regime – prime amongst them the Iraqi state.

    It should be noted that no government in history has deployed as much aerial bombardment inside its own borders as the Assad regime (this has taken place on an almost daily basis since mid-2012 until today). Syria’s once largest city of Aleppo became the most bombarded city in the world since the Second World War. The US-led Coalition (in which the UK plays a key part) has not only stopped regional allies from providing the defensive weaponry needed for Syrians to have defended themselves during these World War levels of aerial bombardment, refused to allow civil defence forces on the ground to have radar warnings of incoming airstrikes, but have actually shared the same skies as this genocidal mass-murdering regime (intrinsically involving the sharing of intelligence with the regime) to jointly bombard Syrian territories continuously since 2014 (with joint US-regime bombardments continuing even after the 2015 intervention of Russia).

    The UK like the US has much leverage it could use to halt the current offensives. The bulk of the pro-regime forces which in the last year have taken Aleppo, Daraya and are now attempting to take Wadi Barada are overwhelmingly foreign paramilitary brigades arriving from states backed by Western governments, such as Iraq and Lebanon. Whilst these brigades are also backed by Iran, they are simultaneously backed by their respective national states. In Iraq, these sectarian paramilitary brigades are directly supported – both by airstrikes and arms – by the US-led “anti-ISIS” coalition and have recently been officially integrated into the Iraqi armed forces. Some of the brigades have even been documented fighting for Assad in Syria with US tanks obtained in Iraq. The members of the Iraqi brigades in Syria are part of the Iraqi government, paid salaries by the Western-backed Iraqi government and are legally subject to the Iraqi Prime Minister’s authority. Was the invasion of Iraq – presumably in the name of bringing democracy to the region – intended instead to help Assad later crush the genuine demands for democracy which broke out in Syria in 2011?

    Meanwhile whilst Hezbollah is not part of the Lebanese Army, the major support by the US-led Coalition to the Lebanese Army has reportedly allowed it to cover Hezbollah’s rear and flank against domestic rivals, allowing the latter to focus on supporting Assad in Syria.The Lebanese Army has been described as an effective “auxillary” of Hezbollah and part of a “joint LAF-Hezbollah counter-insurgency targeting the Syrian opposition”. The Lebanese Army has been “actively aiding Hezbollah in its war effort in Syria. This assistance has ranged from participation in shelling positions across the border in the Qalamoun region in Syria, to securing Hezbollah’s homefront. This includes patrolling and securing logistical routes and the transfer of Hezbollah materiel and personnel into Syria, monitoring and raiding Syrian refugee camps, and closing off Lebanese areas and towns on the border with Syria”.

    Over the past few years the Lebanese Army has been closing the border in only one direction – from and not into Syria – and not to totally close the border, allowing Hezbollah to continue its invasion of Syria. Western arms to Lebanon have thus been “deployed in a manner that relieves Hezbollah and assists its war effort”. It has coordinated major military operations with Hezbollah and allows it through its checkpoints to fight in Syria. It has also been accused of coordination with the Syrian Army itself, including abusing and unlawfully deporting back to the hands of the regime Syrian refugees for almost certain torture and/or death. Hezbollah itself has been part of the UK-recognised Lebanese government since 2014, forming more than third of its members, whilst the recently-elected Lebanese President Michel Auon is a declared Hezbollah supporter.

    – The UK must stop all military aid and support to the Iraqi army until the full withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Syria. The UK must stop all military aid and support to Lebanon until the full withdrawal of Hezbollah.

    – The UK must stop all military aid and support to the Egyptian regime until it ends its military support to the Assad regime.

    – The UK, along with the US, should withdraw from the Military Operations Centre (known as the “MOC”) in Amman, which controls the entry of supplies into South Syria and which has effectively enforced a freeze on anti-regime rebel operations in South Syria since 2015; leading to the fall of cities such as Daraya and allowing pro-regime forces to focus single-handedly on Aleppo. The UK and US must stop any interference and blockading of defensive weaponry – including anti-aircraft systems – by allies of the Free Syrian Army.

    Similarly the UK must also stop all support to Jordan until it lifts its blockade on the entry of weaponry needed for the people of Southern Syria to defend themselves. As well as blocking weaponry the Jordanian government has long been accused of stealing arms meant for the Free Syrian Army.

    – The UK must stop military support to the YPG-led “Syrian Democratic Forces”, which includes a pro-Assad tribal force (Jaish al-Sanadeed) and which has played a crucial role in the recent fall of Aleppo.

    – The UK must freeze all arms export licenses to Iran, including military electronic technology, reportedly valued at more than £800 million in 2013 and £316 million in 2015 (making it the fourth largest recipient in terms of value of contracts after Israel, Saudi Arabia and China). The UK government is currently encouraging investment in Iran, showing that political and economic rapprochement with Iran has come at the same time as its crucial role in supporting Assad’s genocide.

    – The UK must freeze any outstanding arms export licenses to Russia, which were reported to still exist in the last Committee on Arms Exports parliamentary report in 2015 (despite Ukraine-related sanctions), if any. These were valued at £86 million in 2013 and £168 million in 2015, including “components for military helicopters, cryptographic software, equipment employing cryptography, equipment for the use of military helicopters, small arms ammunition and software for equipment employing cryptography”.

    The UK is one of Russia’s biggest trade partners, relying on it for a large section of its energy requirements and exporting billions of pounds worth of exports. The UK government website extols the opportunities for investment in Russia, at the same time as it commits crimes in Syria.

    – The UK government should sanction trade with Russian government-linked firms.

    – The UK should sanction trade with Iranian government-linked firms, including a freeze on new contracts currently being negotiated.

    – The UK government must work to ensure that humanitarian aid and access are allowed in to the besieged towns of Wadi Barada.

    Anything less than taking these measures represents effectively siding with the Assad regime, no matter what the rhetoric of “condemnation” offered, rhetoric which we have long been accustomed to for six years whilst Assad’s genocidal policies and unprecedented aerial bombardments have continued unabated and international forces have occupied our country.

    – Source: Report on Wadi Barada (full can be found here) – January 2017