Syraq SITREP 39: Decisive Ghouta and Afrin Battles, Mattis Warning a Greenlight for Jihadi Chemical False Flag?

Turkey's Erdogan Slams U.S and NATO as Faithless in Fight Against 'YPG Terrorists'

The steady slide of Turkey from the U.S./NATO camp into a more Eurasian friendly or at least frenemy posture toward Russia and Iran is an ongoing story. But one punctuated by the neo-Ottoman Sultan Erdogan's words at a public rally in the city of Mersin, "Hey NATO, where are you?” Erdogan vowed to "clear Manbij, Ayn al-Arab, Tal Abyad, Resulayn and Kamisli of terrorists" and also claimed in his speech that the Turks would bring humanitarian aid and infrastructure repairs to the rebel held towns they 'liberated' from the YPG.

With Turkish troops entering Afrin and/or cutting it off from Syrian government supply lines soon, it remains to be seen how far the Turkish spearheaded and American abetted partition of northern Syria will go, but Turkey's media is full of optimistic accounts (from Ankara's point of view) regarding American concessions in order to keep Incirlik Air Base open to Washington. At the same time, experienced Mideast correspondent Elijah J. Magnier says the Americans are drawing down forces at Incirlik, possibly relocating some units to their increasingly permanent-looking bases inside Syrian territory, which are illegal under international law.

Writing at his Moon of Alabama blog, blogger 'b' concurs with Elijah J. Magnier's estimation that the Kurds are coming out as major losers in Syria, once again abandoned by their American partners and finding the Russians unwilling to directly clash with the Turks on their behalf:

This is the direct result of gigantic miscalculations by the YPG Kurds who controlled the Afrin area. They had a clear offer from the Syrian and Russian government: Hand over the administration to the legitimate Syrian government and the Syrian army will come and defend your land.

They rejected that offer multiple times. They thought they could withstand an attack by a numerical superior enemy which has abundant air and artillery support. Hizbullah can do that but the Kurds are not Hizbullah. Their defense network was mediocre with bunkers easily visible (vid) from the air and ground and without any water supply and other necessities. These medieval fortifications were built over years but fell within hours. There was apparently no second line to fall back to. The tactical military abilities the YPG Kurds have shown were rather amateurish. The announced reinforcements from east Syria made no difference. Now their 'canton' is lost to a very hostile forces. Can it ever be regained?

Meanwhile the U.S. is on the verge of giving away the Kurdish held Manbij to the Turks.

In 2016 the Kurdish PKK attempted to hold onto 'autonomous' city-centers in eastern Turkey. The Turkish army simply shelled those areas into rubble. There insurrection ended with a catastrophic loss of Kurdish fighters. The Kurdish attempts to expand their lands in Iraq by stealing the oil fields of Kirkuk were thoroughly defeated. Now Afrin is lost too.

Race Against the Chemical False Flag Clock: Can SAA Backed by Russian Airpower Win in East Ghouta Before a Pretext is Created for Another American Strike on Syrian Government Forces?

According to Southfront news and analysis, half the East Ghouta pocket held by jihadists since 2012 had been liberated by the SAA as of March 9. The SAA offensive has reportedly split the pocket into at least three parts, backed by powerful Russian air strikes Washington has condemned as indiscriminately targeting civilians. Russian President Vladimir Putin's acerbic response to such claims of Russian indifference to civilian deaths has been to ask the Americans to go dig bodies out of the rubble of Raqqa, the one time capitol of the pseudo-caliphate ISIS fiercely defended before much of it was reduced to rubble by American bombs and artillery. The Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries have also pointed out where the jihadists have opened fire using snipers and machine guns at civilians trying to flee to government held checkpoints.

Predictably, with the last jihadist pocket in Syria not under partial Turkish occupation about to be liberated, the Americans are ramping up the rhetoric about chemical weapons use by the Assad government. Why Assad would need to use chemical arms when the jihadis are being carved up with conventional bombs, artillery and tank fire is never explained, but advocates of the theory invariably claim the SAA is a weak force that uses chemicals to terrify civilian relatives of rebel militants into submission. Meanwhile, members of Jaysh al Islam, a Saudi backed militant gang, are being permitted to evacuate with family members on the green buses to Idlib. The will of the jihadis to die in the rubble of Ghouta has apparently been exceeded by their desire to live another day on the Turkish payroll, like their 'Free Syrian Army' brothers to the north exacting vengeance on the Kurds, who lack Russian fighter jets or Damascus' SAMs to defend them from Turkish bombing.

With the Sunni Gulf states (principally Saudi) funded jihadis on the ropes in Ghouta, it's not altogether surprising that Washington is ramping up the 'use chemical weapons Assad and we'll bomb you before any investigation can be done' rhetoric. But 'Mad Dog' Mattis threats appear to be up against pincers of hard and 'soft' power designed to squeeze out the Ghouta pocket before it can be used to stage another 2013 East Ghouta or Khan Sheikhoun-style CW false flag operation. 

The Assad government has activated loyalists or just locals tired of the fighting in areas where the militants grip is weaker, demonstrating for the jihadists in their neighborhoods to lay down arms. These are likely the exact neighborhoods where Damascus and Moscow's intelligence believes the jihadis would attempt to release chemical bombs on the ground, at a time when Syrian Air Force jets are overhead. If the Syrians and Russians can successfully use such tactics as well as infiltrators and spies on the ground to thwart chemical false flag attacks, then the model could be replicated in Idlib -- provided the Turkish government is amenable to 'trading' the last jihadi pocket for the territory it's seizing around Afrin. That of course, is where the rubber will meet the road, once the last jihadists lay down their arms and board the green buses departing the rubble in Ghouta.