The lawmakers were far less interested in the war against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) than about the future of the Syrian government, Iran’s“malign influence,” and “aggression” by China and Russia – all ranked far ahead of terrorism on Carter and Dunford’s list of security challenges.The Pentagon had “no intention” of sharing intelligence with Russia when it came to Syria, Dunford told the lawmakers unequivocally. Secretary Carter explained that the joint implementation councils envisioned by the ceasefire proposal negotiated in Geneva wouldn’t share intelligence, just coordinate efforts – but that they were a moot point anyway, since the ceasefire was effectively dead.“I don’t have the facts,” Dunford said, when asked about the convoy attack by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut). “It was either the Russians or the regime,” he added.“There is no doubt in my mind that the Russians are responsible,”whether directly or because they backed the government in Damascus, Dunford said, describing the attack as “an unacceptable atrocity.”Carter explained Dunford’s logic in a response to Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), saying that “the Russians are responsible for this strike whether they conducted it or not, because they took responsibility for the conduct of the Syrians by associating themselves with the Syrian regime.”The latest proposal by Secretary of State John Kerry involves grounding only Syrian and Russian airplanes, Carter told Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire).“There can be no question of grounding US aircraft” over Syria, he said, adding that US jets conduct their strikes “with exceptional precision… that no other country can match.”Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) asked about what it would take for the US to impose a no-fly zone over Syria, using the phrase “control the airspace.”“Right now… for us to control all of the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia,” Dunford replied, drawing a rebuke from committee chairman John McCain (R-Arizona), who argued a no-fly zone was possible without war.
NATO continues to expand its missile potential in Europe and Moscow is concerned over the deployment of NATO infrastructure near its borders, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov stated.“NATO members are continuing to expand their anti-missile capability in Europe in the framework of the so-called ‘phased adaptive approach.’ We have repeatedly expressed concern over the placement of elements of strategic infrastructure in the immediate vicinity of our borders, which directly affects our interests in the field of security,” he said at a session of the Russian Public Council on International Cooperation and Public Diplomacy in the Public Chamber.Ryabkov added that the US’ plans to place new nuclear bombs with increased accuracy in Europe cause serious concern.According to Ryabkov, “this might indicate an intention to use them against military targets, including populated areas during specific military scenarios.”In the deputy foreign minister’s words, the US’ creation of the European segment of its “missile defense system” is a factor for destabilization “insofar as, at once point, the so-called ‘European missile defense system’ could began to negatively effect the effectiveness of our strategic deterrence.”“If this line is crossed and the US and NATO continue to expand their missile shield, then we consider this a symptomatic, demonstrative reluctance on the part of Washington and Brussels to adjust their missile defense plans despite the agreements on settling the situation surrounding the Iranian nuclear program,” the deputy foreign minister asserted.He remarked that Moscow “will continue to closely monitor the situation and carry on solid work with the Europeans to demonstrate to them the inevitably undesirable consequences of this American project’s realization.”
By Matthew AllenHe’s done it: Sergei Lavrov just told the U.N. Security Council that U.S. coordination with terrorist groups in Syria warrants a full, impartial investigation.In a carefully-worded address given in New York on Wednesday, Russia’s Foreign Minister cited recent “coincidences” which have undermined the cease-fire agreement in Syria — and allowed ISIS and Al-Nusra to launch successful attacks:Coalition strikes on government troops positions at Deir ez-Zor on September 16 is a blatant violation of the cessation of hostilities regime. Furthermore, right after those strikes, ISIS forces attacked government troops. On September 19, there was another unacceptable provocation. I am referring to the bombing of a UN humanitarian convoy near Aleppo on a territory controlled by the armed opposition. Incidentally, it should be noted that on the same day, September 19, in the same area known as the Ramus road, Jabhat al-Nusra and allied detachments mounted a fierce attack on government forces. As a result, the jihadists advanced to Neighbourhood 1070.I am not trying to make any accusations. However, I am convinced that such coincidences call for serious analysis and investigation. We insist on the most thorough and impartial probe into the attack against the humanitarian convoy. There are many indications that it could have been a rocket or artillery attack. Initially that was how it was reported. Then they started mentioning helicopters and then aircraft. Therefore it is probably necessary to refrain from emotional responses and to not immediately grab the microphone and make comments, but conduct a thorough and professional investigation.It’s difficult to overstate what Lavrov’s statements will mean going forward: In the most diplomatic way possible, Lavrov just accused the United States of military coordination with ISIS and Al-Nusra. Or, at the very least, he is suggesting that the U.S. acted with full knowledge that these terrorists groups would immediately benefit.Lavrov’s comments about the changing narratives of the aid convoy attack is easily verified: As we reported yesterday, the attacks were described first as involving helicopters, then Russian air strikes were blamed, and now not even NATO’s Secretary General is brave enough to speculate. Even the U.N. quickly dropped the “air strike” language after it was clear that it could not be substantiated.The blatant bombing of Syrian army positions — coupled with the latest accusations against Moscow, without providing any evidence — makes it difficult to believe that a meaningful cease-fire agreement will ever be realized.And of course, an impartial investigation into the attack on the aid convoy will never materialize.We are now reaching a critical stage in Syria. When Lavrov and Kerry announced on September 9 that a deal had been reached, Lavrov began his remarks with a rather ominous warning: “I have to say, the – some mistrust remains and some – there are some people who would like our – today’s arrangement to be undermined.”Will the international community finally take a stand against Washington? If not, expect more “coincidences” — with disastrous consequences.
River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian