Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Shock, Fear in Syrian Government Bastions After Bombings

BEIRUT — Convoys of coffins streamed through the streets and mourners fired guns in the air Tuesday as two Syrian coastal towns — government strongholds that had gone relatively untouched throughout the civil war — reeled from coordinated bombings that killed more than 160 people.
Residents of one of the towns, Jableh, described a day of horror as explosions went off in quick succession only a few meters apart, tearing through civilian crowds — then hitting the hospital emergency room where many of the wounded were taken.
"It is really incomprehensible why this happened," said Mohammed Mohammed, a 29-year-old media activist, speaking to The Associated Press by phone from Jableh, where more than 120 people were killed, according to residents and activists. "The number of those killed is unreal."
Altogether, nine bombings hit Jableh and the nearby city of Tartus on Monday, most of them by suicide attackers. The blasts shattered the sense of safety that residents have long enjoyed, living in the Mediterranean coastal enclave that is the strongest bastion of support for President Bashar Assad.
Isolated behind mountain ranges along the coast and under heavy military protection, the region has been spared the physical devastation wreaked on much of the rest of Syria, where entire districts in some cities have been destroyed in fighting. For the past five years, residents have felt the war mainly through loved ones who died in Assad's forces on frontlines elsewhere — or through the thousands who have fled here from fighting.
Monday's bombings, claimed by the Islamic State group, were the first major security breach, bringing the bloodshed to them directly with blasts hitting bus stations, a gas station and the hospital.
In Jableh, a sleepy town on the Mediterranean, funeral after funeral marched through streets emptied of shoppers and commuters, with schools and shops closed, said Mohammed, who runs a Facebook page called Jableh News Network.
"The town is shrouded in black," he said.
Among those killed in the blast at Jableh's bus station were four children from the Hammouda family, aged between four and 14. Mohammed had just returned from their funeral.
He said the children's mother, wounded in the blast, had just been declared dead at the hospital. The children's father, Mazen Hammouda, was a soldier in the Syrian army and died fighting only months ago.
Mohammed said his own father narrowly escaped death. He had been going to meet a friend at the bus station but was delayed by a flat tire. His father's friend, a retired army general who lost his son in the war a few years ago, was killed in the blast.
Mohammed described explosion after explosion starting at around 9:20 a.m. Monday.
The first explosion was at the bus station on the town's outskirts. When he heard the blast, he rushed to the scene to record what happened. As he arrived, another explosion went off at the electricity company nearby, killing at least 12 workers. Two more workers remain missing. Minutes later, an explosion rocked an intersection a few hundred meters from the electricity company, blowing up those standing there.
Mohammed said everyone was moving toward the hospital with the wounded when the last explosion hit inside the crowded emergency room, killing some of the wounded and many among the medical staff.
Tartus, which is home to a Russian naval base and is fiercely loyal to Assad, was particularly considered a sanctuary. Its beaches are dotted with swimmers in the summer and cafes filled with customers.
On Monday, a bomb tore through a packed bus station and a petrol station in Tartus, minutes apart. Many of those killed were ninth grade students who had just finished exams and were taking buses home. A teacher who had been proctoring exams was among the dead.
On Tuesday, Facebook pages were filled with photos of dad or missing students. As funerals got underway, gunfire reverberated across the city a traditional sign of mourning.
Security forces increased checkpoints in the city, stopping cars and pedestrians for searches, according to one resident who spoke on condition of anonymity for security concerns.
In Damascus, Ammar Ismail, a manager of an NGO called Syria my Home and a news website, said callers to a morning radio program he broadcasts on social media were immersed in fear and sadness.
Still, he said, he said his family is still sticking to their annual plans to spend summer vacation in the coastal areas.
Gabi Nakazi, a 60-year-old businessman, said he was concerned about a similar explosions targeting Damascus, seat of Assad's power.
"The message they want to send is that no place is safe," he said.
Associated Press writer Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria, contributed reporting.
Alleged peace-maker John Kerry threatened to wage war-without-end on Syria – if the Middle East country does accept the US demand for regime change.
That’s hardly the language of a supposed bona fide diplomat who presents an image to the world as a politician concerned to bring about an end to the five-year Syrian conflict.
The US Secretary of State repeatedly sounds anxious to alleviate the appalling suffering of the Syrian nation, where over the past five years some 400,000 people have been killed and millions displaced as refugees.
Anyone who has not been brainwashed by Western media propaganda knows full well that the suffering of Syria has been caused by Washington and its allies sponsoring a covert war for regime change in that country.
Kerry was speaking during another round of failed negotiations — this time in Vienna — along with other leaders from the 17-nation International Syria Support Group that includes Russia, as well as the United Nations.
The “support group” is a disgustingly erroneous name, given that certain members of this entity — primarily the US, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — have done everything in their power to sponsor a proxy terrorist war on Syria. If the truth were not so abject, it would be laughable.
In a Voice of America report headlined “US still has leverage in Syria,” Kerry is quoted thus: “He said the greatest leverage [on Syria] was the fact that [President] Assad and his backers would never be able to end the war in Syria if they declined to negotiate a political settlement.”

US Secretary of State John Kerry, right, speaks during his meeting with Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Adel al-Jubeir.

Consider the pernicious import of that for a moment. In other words, America’s top “diplomat” is laying down a criminal ultimatum to the sovereign state of Syria and its elected government of President Bashar al-Assad. Kerry is saying in no uncertain terms that unless the Syrian authorities do not accept Washington’s demand for regime change, then the country is facing never-ending war.
Of course, being a weasel-worded diplomat, Kerry does not use the illegal term “regime change”. He instead talks about “political transition”. And he has set a date in August for this “transition” to take place. But what Kerry’s euphemistic jargon boils down to is this: the Syrian president and his administration must vacate government — or else face more violence and destruction.
This is the political objective that Washington and its allies in NATO, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have wanted all along. They want what is an independent, anti-imperialist Syrian government to give way to some composite regime that would be a puppet for Washington’s geopolitical interests in the oil-rich, strategically vital Middle East region.
Any replacement regime would spurn its erstwhile allies of Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement to become an American vassal.
In reality, the supposed pro-democracy change that Washington allegedly wants to install in Syria would be dominated by a repressive, fundamentalist regime that would betray the interests of the Syrian people. We can count on this outcome because the proxies who are waging Washington’s covert war are dominated by extremists fully aligned with their despotic sponsors in Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Kerry’s apparent confidence in predicting that Syria faces a war of attrition if it does capitulate is a tacit admission by Washington that it controls the illegally armed factions in Syria.
The United States may officially proscribe terror groups like al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al Nusra and the so-called Islamic State (also known as Daesh). The US pays lip service to “defeating terrorism”.
But anyone with an informed understanding of what is really happening in Syria and other countries subjected to US-led regime change knows that Washington has orchestrated these same terror groups for its criminal political objectives.
This is corroborated by the fact that Washington refuses to coordinate its (ineffectual) bombing campaign with Russia to eliminate the terror groups. It is corroborated by the fact that Washington and its allies point-blank refuse Russia’s proposals at the UN Security Council to designate other known terror outfits — Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Shams — as terrorist.
Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Shams are every bit as vile and barbaric as the other al Qaeda-affiliated franchises. They all espouse the same twisted death-cult ideology; fight alongside each others (when they are not feuding, that is, over war spoils); and ultimately they all share the same sponsors and American-supplied weaponry.

Syrian government forces in Palmyra, central Syria.

It is openly admitted that America’s allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey, as well as Qatar, bankroll Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Shams and that this nexus serves as a conduit for American weapons from the Central Intelligence Agency.
Why else would John Kerry begin his week of “diplomacy” in Vienna by first making an urgent visit to Saudi King Salman last weekend. Kerry was reportedly appealing to the 9/11-sponsoring Saudi regime to support his diplomatic push in Vienna. The Western media “reported” Kerry’s Saudi visit as if it were a benign mission, as they usually do. Whenever it should be obvious that what he was really doing was trying to get the Saudis to ease off on the terror war in Syria.
Washington is currently trying to wrangle regime change in Syria through a political track. That is a world of difference from gullible Western media projections of Kerry’s pretensions of “negotiating peace”.
Yet all the while the US and the Saudis are reserving the right to use “Plan B” if the political track should not materialize in regime change.
That is what Kerry really means when he said in Vienna that “Assad and his backers would never be able to end the war in Syria if they declined to negotiate a political settlement.”
Washington’s “leverage” in Syria is due to the simple, diabolical fact that it and its despotic allies ultimately can turn on and off the violence when it is expedient for their interests. And that violence relies on the deployment of known terrorist organizations, including the ones that Washington’s double-think refuses to recognize as “terrorist”.
So let’s put this into stark perspective. Despite his Orwellian title of diplomat and peace-maker, US Secretary of State John Kerry is the public face of a terrorist enterprise.
What other world power gives itself the right to threaten nations with “regime change or war”? And yet this same nation considers itself a paragon of democracy, human rights and law-abiding probity.
The United States of America is a rogue regime on a criminal scale that exceeds the very worst in history.
As a parting footnote, John Kerry is a decorated American “war hero”. He served four months as a navy officer during the US genocidal war on Vietnam during the late 1960s. Kerry received a bunch of medals for his “actions”, which according to reliable accounts from veterans on his river-boat patrols, involved shooting fleeing Vietnamese peasants in the back.
This is the same Kerry who is now purporting to bring peace to Syria.
Like everything that Washington says, it is full of lies and deception. The abiding lesson: don’t turn your back on Washington and its terrorist-sponsoring, war-mongering “diplomats”.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do notnecessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.


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