Syria Daily: Raqqa — UN Warning About Civilians as Offensive Escalates

A woman, who fled with others from an Islamic State-controlled area, holds up a white flag upon their arrival to a Syrian Democratic Forces-controlled area near Raqqa city, Syria June 7, 2017. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Syrian Democratic Forces enter ISIS-held Raqqa from east and west


US Military: We Did Not Kill 56 Civilians in Mosque in March — We Might Have Killed 1

UPDATE 1630 GMT: The US has carried out its third airstrike against pro-Assad units in eastern Syria, maintaining a 55-km (34-mile) exclusion zone around a Free Syrian Army base where US special forces are present.

Two US officials confirmed the strike on three technical vehicles about 24 miles from the Tanf base near the Iraqi border.

The first American strike was last month against a pro-regime convoy, including Hezbollah fighters and Iraqi militia. The second was on Tuesday.

The US military also said today that it downed an Iranian drone, which was armed and firing on “coalition forces carrying out a patrol”.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: The UN has warned of a humanitarian crisis as the Kurds-led, US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces began a final offensive on Raqqa, the Islamic State’s central position in Syria.

The SDF entered the eastern part of the city earlier this week. Taking a ruined 1,000-year-old fortress on Wednesday, they also advanced into the western outskirts, clearing a nearby village.

UN aid official Linda Tom said from Damascus, “We are receiving reports of air strikes in several locations in Raqqa.” She said from 50,000 to 100,000 people are trapped inside the city.

The UN has said that more than 200,000 civilians have fled areas around Raqqa. The Kurdish militia YPG, which leads the SDF, says some have begun to return to their homes after ISIS’s defeat and withdrawal, but claims are circulating that Arab residents have been prevented from doing so.

Despite the UN’s warnings, Brett McGurk, the US envoy in the anti-ISIS campaign, said, “The Raqqa campaign from here will only accelerate”, with the SDF prepared for “a difficult and a long-term battle”.

TOP PHOTO: Fleeing an ISIS-controlled area in Raqqa, a woman holds up a white flag at a Syrian Democratic Forces position, June 7, 2017 (Rodi Said/Reuters)

US Military: We Did Not Kill 56 Civilians in Mosque in March — We Might Have Killed 1

The US military maintained on Wednesday that it did not kill more than 50 civilians in a March 16 airstrike on a mosque in western Aleppo Province, saying only a single casualty might have been a non-combatant.

Brigadier General Paul Bontrager, deputy director for operations for US Central Command, said he believed about two dozen fighters were slain and only one other person was wounded and possibly killed.

Residents put the death toll at 56, while a Human Rights Watch investigation said at least 38 perished when US warplanes dropped 10 bombs and fired two missiles as people attended evening prayers at the al-Khattab Mosque in the village of al-Jina. They said that no fighters were present in the building, a larger annex to the original mosque.

Among those killed were five children, the mosque’s imam, and his wife.

See Syria Daily, March 18: US Tries to Deny Deadly Attack on Mosque

For weeks, the US military insisted that the building was not part of the mosque, despite photographs clearly identifying it as such.

Brigadier General Bontrager said his investigation concluded that the strike hit a religious school under construction, leaving the mosque undamaged.

However, he did admit that the US military had committed a “preventable error” by not listing any of the buildings as religious facilities:

None of the buildings were annotated on our No Strike List as Category 1 facilities, which is a register of entities that must be carefully evaluated before an approval to strike….

This failure to identify the religious purpose of these buildings led the target engagement authority to make the final determination to strike without knowing all he should have known, and that is something we need to make sure does not happen in the future.

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  1. Tundra, as you may recall, upon the appearance of ISIS on the scene (and prior to that AQ in Iraq), the Left did not display outright hostility to such groups as long as they were fighting the Americans. Even Zarqawi tended to receive a pass because he confined himself to fighting Americans (and bombing Shias) in Iraq, and not in Europe. It has just been in the past two years that the gruesome images and videos of ISIS beheadings and atrocities, and their attacks in Europe and the US has convinced the Left that they should take a stand against ISIS, which they grudgingly due with the caveat that they were created by the Americans in the first place. This just points to their hypocrisy that their concern is not the ideology or even crimes of ISIS, but simply the optics of what they do.

    Nominally yes, the cultural Left does not support Salafis and Jihadies, even in the Middle East. But the cultural Left, many whom were formerly class-based do support Islamism, Sharia, Islamic government, and even conservative Muslims leaders such as mosque Imams and preachers. The Salafis and Jihadis do not operate in a vacuum. They cannot operate without the support of a vast army of Islamists, even though there could be many deep differences in their methods of operation, but less differences in their end goals. That is where the western Left comes to indirectly support terrorism and providing succor to radicalism that can evolve into terrorism. For example the fake narratives that the Left creates about Israel and Zionism are quite emotionally appealing to the Jihadis and often they are copied and repeated by the Jihadies in their own discourse to attract followers. Not to mention some more direct support and material assistance. Such as how the Quakers were accommodating Islamic hate preachers for many years and assisting them by renting congregation venues which others, including Muslim communities, denied to them.

    This phenomena, i.e. the alliance between the left and rightwing Islamism cannot be dismissed. It is growing in breadth and we see it in the attacks on so-called Islamophobes and on ex-Muslims and liberal Muslims. Muslim reformists have always been attacked by Islamics and mainstream Muslims. Now we see the Left joining in to de-platform and personally attack Islamic reformists. They are called Uncle Toms by the Left and abandoned to the ravages of Islamic activists.

    Tundra: “Progs/Marxists being buddies with Islamists isn’t uncommon, but with Salafi-jihadist groups is very much so. The above excerpt stands out because it fully acknowledges that their ideology inclines them to support the Islamic State. It doesn’t whitewash them or rationalize their decision. Those groups you mention tend to gloss over islamist practices of groups they support, rather than acknowledging them and justifying their accord. The most “hardline” groups (IS & AQ) are kept beyond the pale as they’re very much anathema to the overwhelming majority of people. Instead, they use US intervention in Libya, support of the anti-Soviet fighters in Afghanistan, and involvement in Syria to conjure up some fantasy jihadist-imperialist alliance so they can rid themselves of the quandary where they can either support the Great Imperialist Satan or a bunch of fiercely independent but deeply reactionary brown people that are detested by pretty much everyone in the West.”

  2. “The Kurdish militia YPG, which leads the SDF, says some have begun to return to their homes after ISIS’s defeat and withdrawal, but claims are circulating that Arab residents have been prevented from doing so.”

    Well of course. What is the probability that ISIS terrorist are among these returning Arabs and who will continue with terror operations not only against the Kurds but against the post-ISIS Arab authorities and security forces?

  3. Syrian regime forces attacked the positions of Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) south of the Maskana town west of Raqqa city last night. 6/8/2017

    SDF is an alliance of armed groups subordinate to locally-based democratic political structures known as “democratic self-administration”. These are federated into the Democratic Federation of North Syria, whose peak body is the Syrian Democratic Council (MSD). 5/13/2017

    Co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council (MSD) Elham Ahmad said that “Russia is forcing the Kurds to choose between the Baath regime” and Turkey. Ahmad also said that “Turkey’s [recent] attacks [on the Syrian Kurds] are a mistake of historic proportions.” The Kurdish leader criticized Russia’s role in Syria, specifically its attempts to pressure the Kurds to support the Assad regime. 6/6/2017

    • “SDF is an alliance of armed groups subordinate to locally-based democratic political structures known as “democratic self-administration”

      An then: “The Kurdish origins of the democratic self-administration are reflected in the predominantly Kurdish People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ) forming the backbone of the SDF.”

      Your hopes will be shattered Saliatus, Stalinists will never give you democracy.

    • Lol, your greenleft site you link to says “The West assisted Assad in attacking anti-Assad Syrians.” — More lies from lefties and commies. Why don’t you stop linking to fake news and fake narratives?

  4. “Ragıp Soylu‏Verified account @ragipsoylu 13m13 minutes ago

    US statement on the strikes against Assad regime and downing of the armed drone near At Tanf”
    That is the third strike! How long will it take for it to sink into Assad’s thick skull that he is on to a looser by attacking the Yanks (and the Brits)? Oh, I forgot, he is no longer in charge of his gang and the orders come from Tehran. Suppose it will just keep happening then!

  5. It will get interesting once their militia gets to the border from the Iraqi side. Until then, they are just going to probe and annoy

  6. Yankees showering Raqqa with white phosphorus in support of their communists bots, a long time has passed since the days when they were sprayed with napalm in Vietnam. To such a degradated state has modern leftism fallen.

      • Regime and russians risk seriously to loose all their eastern border. SDF/US anticipated the regime in Raqqa. All that north portion will be SDF/US influence. Regime is stuck further south on the border with Jordan against US backed FSA. Their only hope is Deir…if they reached it. The US is turning as a huge thorn for the regime.

        • “All that north portion will be SDF/US influence”

          A nightmare for turkey, also the US will add just another permanent client to its life support machine in the region.The day the yankee decide to pull the plug of their seemingly unlimited resources all will fall like a house of cards.

    • That does not make sense BsAs. Neither Trump or the US military are ‘leftwing’. Many people have questioned if those photographs in Raqqa are White Phosphorus. WP is not illegal under any convention, and is usually used to illuminate or flush out combatants from fortified quarters. It is not a toxic chemical. In any case the use of WP has not been outlawed. And the manner it is used is not this kind of aerial disbursement as seen in the pictures. There are very few civilians left in Raqqa as reported by the UN. So it is ISIS that is getting hit by these incendiary bombs.

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