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Index » Regional/Local » Africa/Middle East » Syria Page: 1, 2, 3 ... 23, 24, 25  Next
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R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 21, 2018 - 10:54pm

Pentagon acknowledges US contractor presence in Syria for first time (13/4)

The US military is using more than 5,500 contractors in the campaign to defeat the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq, the Pentagon revealed in a quarterly report this week that acknowledges the use of contractors in the Syrian war zone for the first time.

The latest figures from US Central Command indicate that 5,508 US and foreign contractors are working alongside US troops in the two combat zones. That’s an increase of 581, or 12%, over January’s numbers, which did not include Syria. About half of the contractors are US citizens, while the rest are local or third-country hires.

The disclosure comes as President Donald Trump has signaled his desire to pull US troops out of Syria “very soon” after the end of the counter-IS mission. The role of contractors in Syria is also under increasing scrutiny after hundreds of Russian contractors died in a battle with US troops and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the oil-rich Deir ez-Zor province, as CIA Director and Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo publicly confirmed in his Senate confirmation hearing April 12.

Unlike the Russians, however, the US contractors are mostly focused on supporting the 2,000 US troops in Syria by delivering hot meals, gasoline and other supplies. More than 30% of them support logistics and maintenance, according to the quarterly Pentagon report, and another 27% help with support and construction of US military outposts in the region.

“It’s not the Russian contractor role in Syria, which is … deploying tactical military units of squad company size,” said Peter Singer, a senior fellow and strategist at the New America think tank in Washington. “It’s the old stuff that Halliburton used to do.”

More than 400 “security” contractors are also involved in the fight in both countries, but “you’re not seeing the 163rd private US military group invading a city in Syria,” Singer said. Russian military contractors are also helping to protect oil fields across the country, protecting an industry that represented a quarter of Syria’s government revenue in 2010.

Though previous Defense Department personnel reports in the region hadn’t mentioned a Pentagon contractor presence in Syria, the US Department of Labor acknowledged in a report last year that two contractors were killed and six injured in fiscal year 2017. The Pentagon numbers don’t represent contractors working for other US agencies, such as the State Department, which assists with demining.

The Pentagon’s admission comes after an awkward back-and-forth between Trump and his top military and diplomatic advisers at a National Security Council meeting last week. While the president wants to declare victory on IS and pull out, the Pentagon has asked the commander-in-chief to leave US forces in Syria to prevent insurgent cells from regrouping along Syria’s border with Iraq.

Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of US Central Command, said at a public event last week, “The hard part is in front of us” in the war-torn country. Less than a mile away at the White House, Trump appeared to contradict US pledges to stay in the Syria fight at an open Cabinet meeting after long expressing his frustration over US military spending in the Middle East. The White House also recently announced a $200 million cut in funds earmarked for stabilizing Syria.

Despite their nonkinetic role, some experts say contractors face many of the same dangers as the US troops and Syrian forces who battled Russian mercenaries in February. With IS on the run and multiple US antagonists ready to push out the United States and its allies, civilian personnel risk getting caught in the crossfire.

“I would give America a six-month honeymoon here,” said Joshua Landis, the director of the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Middle East Studies. “Turkey, Syria and Iran are just sitting there, waiting to stick shivs in us.”


sirdroseph Avatar

Location: Yes
Gender: Male

Posted: Apr 20, 2018 - 12:05pm

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 18, 2018 - 8:29pm

Beware. Naughty language.

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 - 5:36pm

Saudi in talks with US over troop deployment in Syria
Foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir says Riyadh is willing to send soldiers amid reports Trump is looking to exit Syria.

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 - 4:50pm

 black321 wrote:
who is blocking the inspectors?  Assad?  doesnt make sense syria would block if it wasnt actually a gas attack?  Wouldnt Assad want to show evidence there was no attack? 
Not clear from the article. But wouldn't anyone want to actually see the evidence before (illegally) bombing a country? Esp. seeing how the OPCW was supposed to arrive the next day. Maybe the bombs were about to expire?


black321 Avatar

Location: A sunset in the desert
Gender: Male

Posted: Apr 17, 2018 - 8:47am

 R_P wrote: 
who is blocking the inspectors?  Assad?  doesnt make sense syria would block if it wasnt actually a gas attack?  Wouldnt Assad want to show evidence there was no attack?  

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 16, 2018 - 11:16pm

Fisk: The search for truth in the rubble of Douma – and one doctor’s doubts over the chemical attack

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 16, 2018 - 6:55pm

Nikki Haley Seems To Be Saying US Will Remain In Syria As Long As Iran Exists

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 14, 2018 - 12:47pm

 sirdroseph wrote:
I'm telling you man, The Walrus is behind all this. What I want to know is what birdie flew in Trump's ear to out of the blue put this guy in charge of foreign policy?  The Neo Cons have assumed control, this is tantamount to coup d' etat and not that I was not before, but I am profoundly concerned now.{#Eek}
As someone, somewhere commented recently in modern vernacular: the alt-right got cucked by the neocons.

Despite the rhetoric, media circus, kinetics and illegality, nothing much happened. According to Russian and Syrian sources, supposedly most rockets were shot down and very little actual damage was done.

sirdroseph Avatar

Location: Yes
Gender: Male

Posted: Apr 14, 2018 - 4:25am

 R_P wrote:

I'm telling you man, The Walrus is behind all this. What I want to know is what birdie flew in Trump's ear to out of the blue put this guy in charge of foreign policy?  The Neo Cons have assumed control, this is tantamount to coup d' etat and not that I was not before, but I am profoundly concerned now.{#Eek}

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 - 7:19pm

Said every US President ever...
Trump launches 'precision strikes' in Syria
U.S. does not seek 'indefinite presence in Syria,' president says
U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said that, although Washington has no hard proof, he believes the Assad government was responsible for Saturday's attack.


R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 - 4:48pm

Fisk: As Theresa May gears up for war in Syria, we should remember what hypocrites we are about chemical warfare in the Middle East
Not a soul today is mentioning the terrible war fought between 1980 and 1988, which was fought with our total acquiescence. It's almost an 'exclusive' to mention the conflict at all, so religiously have we forgotten it

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 13, 2018 - 4:00pm


sirdroseph Avatar

Location: Yes
Gender: Male

Posted: Apr 12, 2018 - 5:16am

I think Senator Paul sums this up nicely, these are tweets, I am unable to post images on this site at work for some reason, only text:

Donald J. Trump

"Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and smart!"

Senator Rand Paul

"Promising war by tweet, insults not only the Constitution, but every solider who puts their life on the line."


R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 - 4:57pm

Follow the money...
The US military budget shows just how deep Donald Trump is getting into Syria
Donald Trump warned Russia that US missiles to Syria “will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” in a tweet Wednesday morning.

The threat is a response to a reported chemical weapons attack on the Syrian town of Douma, which was held by the rebel forces. At least 40 people died during the bombing on Saturday (Apr. 7,) according to rescue workers and other observers who blame the Syrian government forces. The Syrian government has denied the accusations.

While initially reluctant to get entangled in the war in Syria, the US is prepared to be more involved than ever. In fiscal year 2019, the government assigned $15.3 billion’s worth of Department of Defense funds for US operations in the troubled Middle Eastern country. It set aside another billion in foreign aid and other help through the Department of State, according Costs of War, a research project at Brown University.

The US’s military commitment to Syria, however, remains tiny compared to the US’s involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At its highest point, in 2011, US officials appropriated nearly $120 billion to spend in that conflict. The size of US’s budget for those two countries remained more than twice as big as the one for Syria in fiscal 2018.
Pork and porkies

westslope Avatar

Location: BC sage brush steppe

Posted: Aug 11, 2017 - 10:55am

Thanks R_P for the news and analysis on the so-called chemical bombing in Syria.  Did not know but am not surprised.

The 'us and them' line of reasoning in the USA has gone so far over the top that regular folks simply believe that X did Y because "they are evil".  No matter how irrational.


R_P Avatar

Posted: Jun 26, 2017 - 11:56pm

Trump‘s Red Line
President Donald Trump ignored important intelligence reports when he decided to attack Syria after he saw pictures of dying children. Seymour M. Hersh investigated the case of the alleged Sarin gas attack.

R_P Avatar

Posted: Apr 13, 2017 - 3:34pm

New Revelations Belie Trump Claims on Syria Chemical Attack

meower Avatar

Location: i believe, i believe, it's silly, but I believe
Gender: Female

Posted: Apr 13, 2017 - 8:47am

misdirected airstrike..................................

kurtster Avatar

Location: drifting
Gender: Male

Posted: Apr 11, 2017 - 7:34pm

 miamizsun wrote:

Gabbard draws ire of top Democrats over Syria skepticism

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is getting heat from top Democrats for expressing skepticism over whether Syria was behind a recent chemical attack that killed scores and spurred the United States to launch a missile attack on Syrian military targets. 

Howard Dean, Democratic National Committee chairman, said Gabbard's comments were "a disgrace."

"Gabbard should not be in Congress," Dean said, on Twitter. In subsequent interviews, Dean called on Gabbard to resign.

Gabbard also drew the ire of Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden, who called on Hawaii residents to vote the Congresswoman out of office.

"People of Hawaii's 2nd district — was it not enough for you that your rep met with murderous dictator?" Tanden said, on Twitter.

The outrage came after Gabbard, who had previously become one of few Americans to meet with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, said the U.S. can't assume that Syria was behind a chemical attack that killed civilians in northern Syria.



some video addressing syria here 

Back in 2013 (?) when the last major gas attack happened in Syria, I strongly believe Assad was framed and said so then.  This time around, I don't know who did it and don't know who to believe on this one.

That said, Trump had a free shot and took it.  I guess so far though, its nothing more than a parent smacking their kid who keeps running out into traffic from between parked cars just to get their attention in an effort to try and stop them from being stupid and careless.  It doesn't stop the kid from doing what they do and preventing the usual outcome, the kid gets run over. 

This was never going to end well.  I will disagree with anyone who thinks that a happy ending in Syria was ever possible.  The best we can hope for now is that cool heads prevail and Syria does not become another Libya which is basically anarchy on steroids.

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