[Marxism] Syrian rebel commander claims West, Jordan ordered FSA to abandon town to regime
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Mon May 12 09:08:17 MDT 2014
Syria Rebel Commander Confession Blames ‘Donor Countries’ for Rout
Insists Pullout Was at the Behest of Donors
by Jason Ditz, May 07, 2014
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Adding to the intrigue around the weekend capture of Free Syrian Army
commander Ahmed Nehmeh by al-Qaeda’s Jabhat al-Nusra, the commander has
offered a confession surrounding the details of a November rout, one of
the grievances Nusra is seeking to take him to court over.
Back in November, the rebels lost the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh, on the
outskirts of Daraa, in a military rout that was blamed on “rivalries”
and the pullout of Nehmeh’s troops from the town in the middle of a
Nehmeh’s confession claims he was ordered to withdraw from the town by
“donor countries” that are bankrolling the FSA’s military operations,
meaning the US and other Western nations. He also claimed the orders
were forwarded to him by Jordanian officials directly.
The commander says the Western nations told him they were concerned
Nusra had too much influence in Khirbet Ghazaleh, and that it was giving
the al-Qaeda faction too much influence in the southern front in
general, so they ordered him to withdraw his troops during the fight to
ensure the Syrian military would retake the town
Jordanian jets destroy Syrian non-regime vehicles crossing into Jordan
Jordanian warplanes destroyed “camouflaged” vehicles on Wednesday as
they tried to cross into the kingdom from war-ravaged Syria, in the
first such strikes since the conflict erupted three years ago.
A Syrian military source, cited by state television in Damascus, said
the vehicles struck *did not belong to Syria’s armed forces,* while
Amman said an initial probe showed they were being used by arms dealers.
Damascus has accused Amman of backing the uprising against Syrian
President Bashar al-Assad by training and arming rebels, a charge denied
by Jordan, which says it has tightened border controls and jailed dozens
trying to cross illegally.
Wednesday’s air strikes were the first time Jordan has used fighter jets
against such infiltrations.
“Royal air force jets fighters today at 10:30am [7:30am GMT] destroyed a
number of vehicles that attempted to cross into Jordan from Syria,” the
Jordanian Army said.
“The camouflaged vehicles tried to enter from an area with rugged
terrain,” it said in a statement. “The fighter jets fired warning shots,
but they were ignored, prompting them to destroy the vehicles. The army
will not tolerate such actions.”
A military official in Amman said that “three wheeled vehicles tried to
enter the kingdom” near Ruwaished in northern Jordan.
In Damascus, a military source said the vehicles did not belong to the
“No military or armored vehicles belonging to the Syrian army moved
towards the Jordanian border, and so what was targeted by the Jordanian
air force does not belong to the Syrian army,” it said
“By using the air force, Jordan wants to send a message to terrorists
and groups that seek to exploit the Syrian situation that it will
respond in a very tough way against any threat to national security,”
said analyst Oraib Rantawi, head of Amman’s Al-Quds Center for Political
Studies. “Jordan also wants to ... respond to accusations that Amman is
involved in facilitating the entry of jihadists into Syria who are
considered a threat to the kingdom itself.”
The country has struggled to cope with hosting more than 500,000 Syrian
refugees uprooted by the conflict.
It has repeatedly expressed fears that the bloodshed could spread and
concern over the regional impact of anti-al-Assad jihadist fighters.
The US also fears a possible spillover of violence to Syria’s southern
neighbor Jordan, a key US ally and one of only two Arab states to have
signed a peace treaty with Israel.
Jordan threatens to call in Israeli air strikes if rebels take arms
Siege of Syrian arms depot exposes chemical weapons fears
Phil Sands and Suha Maayeh
March 5, 2014 Updated: March 6, 2014 13:53:00
BEIRUT AND AMMAN // International military commanders based in Jordan
were on the brink of ordering air strikes against a “strategic weapons”
store in southern Syria, according to accounts of a dramatic incident
With rebels closing in on the fortified bunker at the Tal Al Jabiyeh
military complex in south-western Deraa, military and intelligence
officers from the US, Europe and Arab states who staff a clandestine
operations room in Amman, scrambled to make sure the weapons inside did
not fall into the hands of Al Qaeda-affiliated rebels.
The precise nature of the munitions in the facility remains unclear,
with officials in the Military Operations Command (MOC) in Jordan, said
to have consistently referred to them as “strategic weapons”.
A defector previously based on the compound informed officials that a
high security bunker on Tal Al Jabiyeh contained the nerve gas sarin.
Syria has one of the world’s largest chemical weapons programmes and
nerve agents have already been used in the three year civil war, with
hundreds of civilians killed in a complex attack on rebel-held suburbs
of Damascus last summer.
While a UN investigation strongly indicated regime forces were
responsible for that attack, the prospect of those weapons falling into
the hands of Islamists militants has been a persistent worry for the
international community, as the Syrian state crumbles.
In a tense four-hour period on Tuesday night last week, rebels involved
in the assault – including Jabhat Al Nusra – were warned by officials in
the command centre that Israeli jets were on standby to bomb a bunker on
which they were advancing, less than 8km from the border with Israel.
Accounts of the event were given by three different sources, familiar
with the situation around Tal Al Jabiyeh and with the workings of the
international command centre.
Jordan denies the existence of the international operations command
centre, which monitors the Syria conflict and oversees the distribution
of weapons and funding to allied rebel units fighting against forces
loyal to Mr Al Assad.
None of the Western or Arab states that have intelligence and military
staff working at the MOC has publicly acknowledged it, but the centre’s
existence has become an open secret.
The night of Tuesday, February 25, appears to have been one of the
command centre’s most fraught periods, as a sense of panic set in at the
prospect of an Al Qaeda faction getting its hands on the weapons
The command centre has not intervened in this way when other regime
storage facilities in Deraa province have been overrun, and has been
content to let the rebels share out any weapons they capture.
This time, however, as fighting around the Tal Al Jabiyeh facility raged
and the prospect of it falling into rebel hands came closer to reality,
the command centre bluntly demanded guarantees from rebel forces that
they hand over to it any weapons stored in a white, reinforced concrete
bunker with thick metal, electrically operated shutters blocking its
east facing entrance.
Rebels were told if they failed to give that guarantee, *an Israeli
airstrike would immediately be called in on the area to destroy the
entire compound and everything in it.*
This ultimatum was passed on, through an intermediary, to Jabhat Al
Nusra’s emir in Deraa province. The Nusra leader agreed to leave weapons
in the bunker alone, as did all of the other rebel units in the area.
In the early hours on Wednesday, February 26, four hours after the first
call, rebels were contacted again by the Amman command centre and told
to expect an “international operation” directed at the weapons bunker.
With the rebels pushing to take control of the Tal Al Jabiyeh, the
operations room immediately halted all weapons supplies to the
assaulting forces, apparently in a successful effort to delay their
advance on the bunker.
Without supplies, the rebels were forced to consolidate their positions
around the base and not seek to break in.
Over the following 48 hours, regime units were reinforced, shoring up
their defences and, by Saturday, they had pushed back against the
The immediate crisis involving a rebel-take over of the base was averted
as the assault ground to a halt.
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