Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

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Protesters hold protest signs denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin near the Russian permanent mission to the United Nations in New York in 2015. (Reuters)

The really interesting question in the recent poisoning case in the UK is not if the Russian Government is implicated – it looks highly likely (see below) – but why they would perform such an act now.

When trying to understand the context, two factors are key in our view.

Firstly, Russia is in an expansionist phase, constantly testing the resolve of the West to resist it.

Recent examples are many and varied. Russia is firmly in the camp of rogue state in terms of its murderous support of the Assad regime in Syria, as it seeks to expand its influence in the Middle East. It continues to agitate against the Ukraine, maintains a threatening posture against the newly independent Baltic states, and threatens the USA with a “new generation” of nuclear missiles.

Secondly, Putin is up for re-election. He is a populist “strongman”, and that’s why his rule is virtually unchallenged, although factions within the ruling elite in Russia do exist, and jockeying for power in the event of any departure by Putin is constant. In this, Russia has hardly evolved from the days of communist control, or frankly, the Tsars.

Viewed in this light, the murder of a minor spy who has been quietly living in the West for some time – which would be re-reported in Russia, of course – serves two purposes.

It tests the West’s resolve to resist brazen Russian aggression without risking an armed conflict.

Second, it makes Putin look tough. Again.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson thus faces a serious test. If the attempted murder (or it may turn out to be a triple murder, depending on the health of those most affected) turns out to be very obviously to be laid at the feet of the Russian State, what is an appropriate response?

Will the British worry overmuch about the unpleasant despatch of a spy – deaths in that arena happen constantly, of course – and the unfortunate collateral damage of a Wiltshire policeman? Or will they make a lot of huff and puff and do nothing much?

Our money is on nothing much. Perhaps a few diplomats expelled and a strongly worded note.

The British economy – especially the City of London – increasingly depends on the growing petro-dollar and gas-dollar influx of funds “washed” through banks and finance houses in London. And funds from less obvious sources inside the Russian kleptocracy. Putin knows Britain wouldn’t want anything to upset that, especially when complications from Brexit means those funds could easily get switched to other markets. So this event tests how brazen Russian behaviour can be before any real damage is done to the relationship.

Ordinarily, of course, the Brits would turn to their American colleagues for advice on how to handle this latest “Beast from the East” event. (The “Beast from the East” was the nickname given to the recent blast of cold air from Russia that dumped snow everywhere.) But given the inordinately close relationship between Putin and the Trump administration, we feel it is unlikely that Britain will turn there for help and advice. And relations between Britain and the EU aren’t exactly rosy just now either.

Putin is, unlike his American counterpart, a highly calculating man. We believe he may be testing the UK right now simply because it is increasingly isolated and left to its own resources. Simply to see what happens.

How Johnson responds will be fascinating to watch.

THE BBC’s latest reporting follows:

Sergei and Yulia Skripal were found unconscious in Salisbury on Sunday afternoon and remain critically ill.

A police officer who was the first to attend the scene is now in a serious condition in hospital, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said.

Nerve agents are highly toxic chemicals that stop the nervous system working and shut down bodily functions.

They normally enter the body through the mouth or nose, but can also be absorbed through the eyes or skin.

Mr Rowley, head of Counter Terrorism Policing, said government scientists had identified the agent used, but would not make that information public at this stage.

“This is being treated as a major incident involving attempted murder, by administration of a nerve agent,” he said.

“Having established that a nerve agent is the cause of the symptoms… I can also confirm that we believe that the two people who became unwell were targeted specifically.”

He said there was no evidence of a widespread health risk to the public.

Two other police officers who attended the scene were treated in hospital for minor symptoms, before they were given the all clear. It is understood their symptoms included itchy eyes and wheezing.


By Richard Galpin, BBC News correspondent – formerly based in Moscow

The announcement by the police that Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia are the victims of an attack in which a nerve agent was used makes the parallel with the poisoning of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006 even stronger.

Like the radioactive polonium used to kill Litvinenko, a nerve agent is not normally something criminal gangs or terrorist groups can make.

Instead, it is usually manufactured by specialist laboratories under the control of governments – and that inevitably means suspicion will now be very much focused on Russia.

Not only does it have a track record of using poisons to assassinate its enemies, there is also a motive in the case of Sergei Skripal.

As a military intelligence officer in Russia, he betrayed his country by providing information to MI6, reportedly revealing the identities of Russian agents in Europe. And Russian President Vladimir Putin has in the past indicated that traitors deserve to die.

Although the question remains, why would Mr Skripal be attacked now when he has been living in Britain for eight years and came here originally as part of a spy swap?

Mr Skripal, 66, and his 33-year-old daughter were found slumped on a bench outside the Maltings shopping centre.

Police want to speak to anyone who was in the city centre on Sunday afternoon.

They are particularly keen to hear from people who ate at Zizzi or drank in The Bishop’s Mill pub between 13:00 and 16:00 GMT.

Both of those locations remain closed to the public.

There is also a cordon in place outside Mr Skripal’s Salisbury home. A yellow forensic tent has been erected and police have been seen carrying equipment into the building.

Mr Rowley said hundreds of detectives, forensic specialists, analysts and intelligence officers were working round the clock on the case.

The investigation in Salisbury may take several more days, he added.

Prof Malcolm Sperrin, fellow of the Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine, said: “Symptoms of exposure to nerve agents may include respiratory arrest, heart failure, twitching or spasms – anything where the nerve control is degraded.

“Nerve agents can cause death, but not necessarily at low-level exposure or with a minor dose.”

Alastair Hay, emeritus professor of environmental toxicology at the University of Leeds, added: “These are very difficult and dangerous chemicals to make.”

Sergei Skripal and his daughter YuliaImage copyright EPA/ YULIA SKRIPAL/FACEBOOK
Mr Skripal, 66, and his daughter Yulia, 33, collapsed on a bench in Salisbury city centre

A public inquiry concluded the killing of the Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in 2006 was probably carried out with the approval of President Putin.

On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told MPs the UK would respond “robustly” to any evidence of Russian “state responsibility” in the Skripal case.

Russia has insisted it has “no information” about what could have led to the incident, but is open to co-operating with British police if requested.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said foreign media had used the incident as part of an anti-Russian campaign.

“It’s a traditional campaign. The tradition is to make things up. We can only see it as a provocation,” she said.

Who is Sergei Skripal?

Undated image taken from the internet of Sergei Skripal in uniform.
Col Skripal, 66, had been living in Salisbury after being released by Russia in 2010

Colonel Skripal, a retired Russian military intelligence officer, was jailed for 13 years by Russia in 2006.

He was convicted of passing the identities of Russian intelligence agents working undercover in Europe to the UK’s Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

In July 2010, he was one of four prisoners released by Moscow in exchange for 10 Russian spies arrested by the FBI.

After a Cold War-style spy swap at Austria’s Vienna airport, Col Skripal moved to Salisbury, where he kept a low profile for eight years.


On the day that Australia and Afghanistan struggle with the official confirmation that Aussie troops in Oruzgan province shot and killed two shepherds aged 8 and 7, mistaking them for insurgent who had been firing at them, this fascinating piece of reportage from William Salaetan at a few days ago argues that, far from the indiscriminate slaughterer of innocent civilians that they are often painted to be, controversial unmanned drones in fact kill fewer civilians than conventional weaponry such as bombs. We comment at the end of the article.

Article begins:

An American Predator drone fires a missile.

An American Predator drone fires a missile.

UN: Drones killed more Afghan civilians in 2012,” says the Associated Press headline. The article begins: “The number of U.S. drone strikes in Afghanistan jumped 72 percent in 2012, killing at least 16 civilians in a sharp increase from the previous year.”

The message seems clear: More Afghans are dying, because drones kill civilians.

Wrong. Drones kill fewer civilians, as a percentage of total fatalities, than any other military weapon. They’re the worst form of warfare in the history of the world, except for all the others.

Start with that U.N. report. Afghan civilian casualties caused by the United States and its allies didn’t go up last year. They fell 46 percent. Specifically, civilian casualties from “aerial attacks” fell 42 percent. Why? Look at the incident featured in the U.N. report (Page 31) as an example of sloppy targeting. “I heard the bombing at approximately 4:00 am,” says an eyewitness. “After we found the dead and injured girls, the jet planes attacked us with heavy machine guns and another woman was killed.”

Jet planes. Machine guns. Bombing. Drones aren’t the problem. Bombs are the problem.

Look at last year’s tally of air missions in Afghanistan. Drone strikes went way up. According to the U.N. report, drones released 212 more weapons over Afghanistan in 2012 than they did in 2011. Meanwhile, manned airstrikes went down. Result? Fifteen more civilians died in drone strikes, and 124 fewer died in manned aircraft operations. That’s a net saving of 109 lives.

On Monday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai banned his security forces from requesting NATO airstrikes in residential areas. Why? Because a week ago, an airstrike killed 10 civilians. What kind of airstrike? Bombs.

The My Lai massacre in Vietnam. As in most cases in that and other conflicts, bullets and bombs inflicted the majority of civilian casualties.

The My Lai massacre in Vietnam. As in most cases in that and other conflicts, bullets and bombs inflicted the majority of civilian casualties.

In war after war, it’s the same gruesome story: crude weapons, dead innocents.

In World War II, civilian deaths, as a percentage of total war fatalities, were estimated at 40 to 67 percent.

In Korea, they were reckoned at 70 percent.

In Vietnam, by some calculations, one civilian died for every two enemy combatants we exterminated.

In the Persian Gulf War, despite initial claims of a vast Iraqi death toll, we may have killed only one or two Iraqi soldiers for every dead Iraqi civilian.

In Kosovo, a postwar commission found that NATO’s bombing campaign killed about 500 Serbian civilians, almost matching the 600 enemy soldiers who died in action.

In Afghanistan, the civilian death toll from 2001 to 2011 has been ballparked at anywhere from 60 to 150 percent of the Taliban body count.

In Iraq, more than 120,000 civilians have been killed since the 2003 invasion. That’s more than five times the number of fatalities among insurgents and soldiers of Saddam Hussein’s regime. (Wellthisiswhatithink considers the likely figure to be nearer 500,00 civilian casualties due to all causes, as we revealed in our article “The Dead and Not So Dead In Iraq. However only a tiny percentage of those deaths could be attributed to drones.)

 Why so many noncombatant deaths? Study the record. In Vietnam, aerial bombing killed more than 50,000 North Vietnamese civilians by 1969. Each year of that war, the least discriminate weapons – bombs, shells, mines, mortars – caused more civilian injuries than guns and grenades.
We know all about the atomic attackjs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Far worse was the "firestorm" attack on Tokyo using incendiary bombs. The Strategic Bombing Survey estimated that 87,793 people died in the raid, 40,918 were injured, and 1,008,005 people lost their homes. Robert Rhodes, estimating the dead at more than 100,000 men, women and children, suggested that probably a million more were injured and another million were left homeless. American planners estimated the areas attacked to be 84.7 percent residential.

We know all about the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Far worse (and virtually forgotten) was the “firestorm” attack on Tokyo using incendiary bombs. The Strategic Bombing Survey estimated that 87,793 people died in the raid, 40,918 were injured, and 1,008,005 people lost their homes. Historian Robert Rhodes, estimating the dead at more than 100,000 men, women and children, suggested that probably a million more were injured and another million were left homeless. American planners estimated the areas attacked to be 84.7 percent residential.

In Kosovo, the munitions were more precise, and NATO tried to be careful.

But according to a postwar report by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, NATO’s insistence on flying its planes no lower than 15,000 feet—a rule adopted “to minimize the risk of casualties to itself”—“may have meant the target could not be verified with the naked eye.” In Afghanistan, a 2008 report by Human Rights Watch found that “civilian casualties rarely occur during planned airstrikes on suspected Taliban targets.”

Instead, “High civilian loss of life during airstrikes has almost always occurred during the fluid, rapid-response strikes, often carried out in support of ground troops after they came under insurgent attack.”

Drones can overcome these problems.

You can fly them low without fear of losing your life. You can study your target carefully instead of reacting in the heat of the moment. You can watch and guide the missiles all the way down.

Even the substitution of missiles for bombs saves lives. Look at the data from Iraq: in incidents that claimed civilian lives, the weapon with the highest body count per incident was suicide bombing. The second most deadly weapon was aerial bombing by coalition forces.

By comparison, missile strikes killed fewer than half as many civilians per error.

How do drones measure up? Three organizations have tracked their performance in Pakistan. Since 2006, Long War Journal says the drones have killed 150 civilians, compared to some 2,500 members of al-Qaida or the Taliban. That’s a civilian casualty rate of 6 percent. From 2010 to 2012, LWJ counts 48 civilian and about 1,500 Taliban/al-Qaida fatalities. That’s a rate of 3 percent.

The New America Foundation uses less charitable accounting methods. But even if you adopt NAF’s high-end estimate, the drones have killed 305 civilians, compared to some 1,500 to 2,700 militants, which puts the long-term civilian casualty rate at about 15 percent. NAF’s figures, like LWJ’s, imply that the rate has improved: From 2010 to 2012, NAF’s high-end civilian casualty tally is 90, and its midpoint estimate of dead militants is 1,410, yielding a civilian casualty rate of 6 percent.

The highest reckoning of noncombatant killings comes from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Since 2004, BIJ counts 473 to 893 civilian deaths, against a background of roughly 2,600 to 3,500 total killings. Using BIJ’s high-end estimates, if every fatality other than a civilian is a militant, the long-term civilian casualty rate is 35 percent. Using BIJ’s low-end estimates, the rate is 22 percent. But again, if you break down the data by year, they point to radical improvement. From 2010 to 2012, BIJ’s count of 172 civilian deaths, against a background of 1,616 total fatalities, yields a civilian casualty rate of 12 percent.

In Yemen, NAF says drones have killed 646 to 928 people, of which 623 to 860 were militants. If you assume that everyone not classified as a militant was a civilian, that’s a civilian casualty rate of 4 to 8 percent. LWJ’s Yemen numbers are less kind: it counts 35 civilian deaths and 274 enemy deaths in 2011 and 2012, yielding a rate of 13 percent. BIJ hasn’t tallied its Yemen data, but if you add up all the fatalities it counted as civilian in 2012, you get a civilian casualty rate of 10 to 11 percent. (For one strike last May, which several witnesses attributed to a plane, BIJ counts more noncombatant deaths than total deaths. If you don’t include those fatalities in the drone column, the civilian casualty rate for 2012 is just 7 percent.)

You can argue over which of these counting systems to believe. But the takeaway is obvious: Drones kill a lower ratio of civilians to combatants than we’ve seen in any recent war. Granted, many civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other such wars were killed by our enemies rather than by us. But that’s part of the equation. One reason to prefer drones is that when you send troops, fighting breaks out, and the longer the fighting goes on, the more innocent people die. Drones are like laparoscopic surgery: they minimize the entry wound and the risk of infection.

Over the years, I’ve shared many worries about the rise of drones: the illusion of withdrawal, the militarization of the CIA, the corruption of law, the evasion of congressional restraint, the risk of mission creep, and the proliferation of signature strikes. But civilian casualties? That’s not an argument against drones. It’s the best thing about them.

Wellthisiswhatithink believes we need to re-evaluate the drone programme. Its range, its usage, its timing, its command and control.

We are on record as saying it poisons civilians against what the West is trying to achieve, and is explicitly making the already fraught relationship between America and Pakistan, in particular, even worse than it already is. However debate on drone warfare should be based, as far as possible, on facts, not on emotion. If we are going to fight wars – a questionable decision in its own right – then we need to fight them with lowest possible impact on the civilian population, for all sorts of practical reasons, leave alone the moral ones. Recent history is, sadly, littered with examples of politicians deciding to deliberately target civilian populations, the direct opposite of their responsibility under the rules of war.

Coventry. Dresden. Nagasaki. Hiroshima. Tokyo. Hanoi. Sabra. Shatila. Srebrenica. Sarajevo. Aleppo.

It is a very sad list, is it not?

Man's deadliest killing machine, by far.

Man’s deadliest killing machine, by far.

Last but not least, in deciding how best – I will leave you to decide your own personal interpretation of “best” – to kill our fellow human beings, we should also constantly remind ourselves that bullets – fired by one person from one weapon – still kill more people in conflict zones than all other forms of ordnance put together.

Controlling the merchants of death who sell them indiscriminately to the highest bidder might be the most immediate and most “do-able” thing we can do to reduce casualties of all kinds. The first step is to make it clear to our political masters that we don’t want our countries involved in this bestial trade. Meanwhile, we would all do well to remember the simple arguments of Edwin Starr in his immortal “War”. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing.

Two prisoners await beheading by the Taliban. A brief foray into Google will soon find you pictures, or video, of a 12 year old boy being tutored in how to behead a prisoner. It is because of such savagery that we are still in Afghanistan.

KANDAHAR (AFP) – Taliban Islamist insurgents beheaded 17 party-goers, 10 Afghan soldiers were killed and two NATO troops shot dead in a new insider attack in a bloody day across Afghanistan, officials said Monday.

The party-goers, including two women, were holding a gathering with music in a southern Afghanistan village.

“I can confirm that this is the work of the Taliban,” the Helmand provincial governor’s spokesman Daud Ahmadi told AFP. “Two women and 15 men were beheaded. They were partying with music in an area under the control of the Taliban.”

The hardliners were notorious during their rule for public executions and the suppression of music and parties.

Nematullah Khan, the Musa Qala district chief, confirmed that the villagers had organised a party with music, and a local official said he suspected that the two women had been dancing.

Secret parties with dancing women from a gypsy-type tribe are common across southern Afghanistan.

During their 1996-2001 rule in Afghanistan the Taliban, now waging a fierce insurgency against the NATO-backed government of President Hamid Karzai, also tried to stop the mixing of men and women who were not related.

“This callous act clearly demonstrates the insurgents’ willingness to stop at nothing in terrorising civilians,” said General John Allen, commander of NATO’S International Security Assistance Force.

He pledged the assistance of NATO troops “to help bring these criminals to swift and sure justice”, while the US embassy in Kabul condemned the killings as “a shameful act”.

The UN mission in Afghanistan said: “This criminal act is unjustifiable and totally disregards the sanctity of human life.

“UNAMA has repeatedly stated that the killing of civilians is a clear violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws and has called for the perpetrators of such reprehensible acts to be brought to justice.”

Britain too joined in condemning the killings “in the strongest terms”.

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt said: “I am appalled at the cruel killing of 17 people at a party…. The facts are still being established but early indications are that the Taliban were responsible.”

The insurgents have in the past been blamed for beheading local villagers, mostly over charges of spying for Afghan and US-led NATO forces.

Haji Musa Khan, a tribal elder in Musa Qala district, said the region had seen a surge in such killings in recent months.

“We had three people beheaded during the month of Ramadan. Another person, the son of a tribal elder, was beheaded recently,” he said.

Khan said the killings followed major military operations by Afghan and NATO troops in the area.

Hours after the beheadings, Taliban insurgents overran an Afghan army post in the same province in a pre-dawn attack on Monday, killing 10 troops, authorities said.

Four soldiers were wounded and six others were missing following the attack in Helmand’s Washir district, senior regional police officer Colonel Mohammad Ismael Hotak told AFP.

Helmand spokesman Ahmadi confirmed the incident and said the attack was an “insider plot” in which some army soldiers helped the rebels attack the post.

If it is confirmed that the attack was facilitated by soldiers it will mark a new escalation in a string of insider attacks on Afghan and NATO security forces.

Two NATO soldiers were also killed Monday when an Afghan army soldier turned his weapon against them in a “green-on-blue” attack in eastern Laghman province, the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.

“ISAF soldiers returned fire and killed the attacker,” ISAF said.

The latest NATO deaths take the toll from insider attacks this month alone to 12 and to a total of 42 this year, making up around 13 percent of all NATO deaths in 2012.

NATO, which has about 130,000 troops in Afghanistan, has struggled to stem the attacks and they have become a major issue in the Afghan war, eroding trust between the two forces.

Taliban insurgents claim responsibility for many of the attacks, but NATO attributes most to cultural differences, stress and personal animosity between Afghan troops and their international allies.

ISAF spokesman Brigadier General Gunter Katz told reporters Monday that the attacks would not lead to less cooperation with Afghan troops as NATO prepares to pull out from the war in 2014.

“Let me clearly say, we are not going to reduce the close relationship with our Afghan partners. We assess that closer cooperation results in stronger bonds and increasing trust and friendship,” he said.

“These incidents will not affect our operation. The campaign is on track, we effectively fight the insurgency and most importantly we continue to fight alongside our partners from the Afghan security forces.”

I am never quite sure what to make of some of the articles on  They are full of stories of conspiracies, dirty doings and nefarious news behind the news. What is true, and what is the work of fevered imaginations, is almost impossible to divine without one’s own research facilities, and opposing viewpoints to consider.

But this latest article seems well researched, and certainly worthy of serious consideration. As we wait for the Assad regime to fall, we need to be careful what we wish for. As has been said many times, if we are seeing quasi-West-friendly anti-democratic regimes being toppled, but only to be replaced with rabid religious nutters like Al-Qaeda, then frankly, we may end up looking back reminiscently to the stability of the Assads, Gadaffis and Mubaraks, as horrible as that sounds.

Quoting Orwell’s 1984, and Infowars lead their article with the ironic cry: “Winston, we were never at war with Eurasia!” Indeed, indeed. It was ever thus. But that does not mean we should not be alarmed. Here’s the article, you make your own mind up. What do you think of the points it raises?

Paul Joseph Watson
Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Senior Council on Foreign Relations fellow Ed Husain has hailed the presence of Al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria, praising their fighting prowess in aid of FSA rebels while also lauding the increasing number of successful bombings carried out by Al-Qaeda fighters.

In case you didn’t get the memo – Al-Qaeda – the same group the United States accuses of carrying out the most devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil in history, is now our ally in Syria.

Terrorist attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda in Syria are inherently moral and good. Down is the new up.

Winston, we were never at war with Eurasia!

“The Syrian rebels would be immeasurably weaker today without al-Qaeda in their ranks. By and large, Free Syrian Army (FSA) battalions are tired, divided, chaotic, and ineffective. Feeling abandoned by the West, rebel forces are increasingly demoralized as they square off with the Assad regime’s superior weaponry and professional army,” writes Husain, a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies with the CFR.

“Al-Qaeda fighters, however, may help improve morale. The influx of jihadis brings discipline, religious fervor, battle experience from Iraq, funding from Sunni sympathizers in the Gulf, and most importantly, deadly results. In short, the FSA needs al-Qaeda now,” he adds.

The Council on Foreign Relations is considered to be America’s “most influential foreign-policy think tank” and has deep connections with the U.S. State Department. In 2009, Hillary Clinton welcomed the fact that the CFR had set up an outpost down the street from the State Department in Washington DC, because it meant “I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing.”

Husain goes on to celebrate the fact that Al-Qaeda’s role in carrying out terrorist bombings in cities like Damascus and Aleppo has intensified, writing that “The group’s strength and acceptance by the FSA are demonstrated by their increasing activity on the ground –from seven attacks in March to sixty-six “operations” in June.”

His fervor for Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks – which have included targets such as schools and TV stations – is matched by the Obama administration as well as Ambassador Susan Rice, who have applauded terror bombings as a useful tool in destabilizing Bashar Assad’s government.

However, by the end of his article Husain is using the presence of Al-Qaeda fighters in Syria – put there with the aid of NATO powers – as another reason for military intervention in Syria.

“The planning to minimize al-Qaeda’s likely hold over Syrian tribes and fighters must begin now as the Obama administration ramps up its support to rebel groups,” he writes.

Husain strikes a similar tone to a recent report published by the RAND Corporation which also cites the presence of Al-Qaeda fighters in Syria as justification to “Conduct a covert campaign against al Qaeda and other extremist groups gaining a presence in the country.”

As the London Guardian has documented (in glowing terms), far from there being a distinction between the FSA rebels and Al-Qaeda terrorists, the Al-Qaeda fighters, along with hordes of foreign fighters including many veterans of NATO’s previous act of regime change in Libya, are now commanding the rebels.

“We have clear instructions from our [al-Qaida] leadership that if the FSA need our help we should give it. We help them with IEDs and car bombs. Our main talent is in the bombing operations,” said former FSA rebel turned Al-Qaeda commander Abu Khuder, adding that Al-Qaeda fighters meet “every day” with Syrian rebels.

In addition, rebel fighters are routinely photographed wearing the Al-Qaeda motif. There are also innumerable You Tube videos that show opposition forces flying the Al-Qaeda flag.

It’s astounding to witness the mainstream media and the establishment now admitting what for months they denied – that Al-Qaeda is not only present in Syria but actually leading the uprising against the Syrian government.

It’s also jaw-dropping to witness the lashings of praise being heaped upon Al-Qaeda for their efforts in carrying out terrorist attacks to precipitate a NATO-backed regime change, while those very same people simultaneously cite Al-Qaeda’s presence as a justification for U.S. and NATO military involvement in Syria.