[Marxism] Mike Whitney must be having an orgasm right now

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Oct 7 09:49:28 MDT 2015

NY Times, Oct. 7 2015
Escalating Syria Attack, Russia Fires Missiles From Warships

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Russian military, sharply escalating its military 
intervention in Syria, launched 26 medium-range cruise missiles on 
Wednesday from four warships in the Caspian Sea, while providing air 
support for a ground offensive by pro-government forces.

Russian officials said the missiles — which traveled more than 900 
miles, through Iranian and Iraqi airspace — struck 11 targets in Syria, 
but they did not specify which groups were hit.

It was not clear whether the missile strike was coordinated with the 
ground offensive, which was reported by antigovernment activists and 
insurgents around the central province of Hama, as well as by the 
television station of Hezbollah, an ally of Syria’s based in Lebanon.

The Kremlin would not confirm that a ground offensive had begun, though 
a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, Maria V. Zakharova, said that 
“coordination is taking place with the Syrian Army, that is unequivocal.”

The news of the missile attack came via a televised meeting between the 
Russian defense minister, Sergei K. Shoigu, and President Vladimir V. 
Putin. “That we fired from the territory of the Caspian Sea, at a range 
greater than 1,500 kilometers, and hit targets precisely, this shows 
high qualifications,” Mr. Putin said, referring to naval crew members. 
Mr. Shoigu said that no civilians had been injured in the assault.

The ground offensive in Syria is taking place in coordination with 
Russian warplanes operating from an airfield in western Syria, and the 
offensive will include the Syrian Army, Hezbollah forces on the ground 
and Russian air power, all in coordination with Iran, according to an 
official with that alliance.

Although the offensive remains in its early stages, it is significant 
because it is the beginning of a wider, coordinated assault that reveals 
close collaboration between Syria and its main allies — Hezbollah, Iran 
and Russia — the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity 
because the parties had not detailed the coordination of military strategy.

The assault aims to push back gains early this year by an insurgent 
coalition, the Army of Conquest, that threated the government-held 
coastal province of Latakia, crucial territory for the Syrian 
government, the official said, adding that it was the first time since 
those setbacks in the spring that government forces had moved “from 
defense to offense.”

The ground operation will eventually include new contingents of fighters 
from Hezbollah, a Shiite militia that has long played a crucial role on 
the front lines, as well as Syrian forces backed by Russians in the air, 
according to the official. In addition, Iranian military advisers have 
long been active on the ground in Syria and would most likely be 
involved in such a crucial operation.

Speaking in tones of new confidence and optimism, the official called 
the Russian intervention a game-changing development that put to rest 
any doubts about Russia’s commitment to Syria’s president, Bashar 
al-Assad, who has managed to cling to power despite a civil war that is 
now in its fifth year.

The ground offensive aims to push insurgents out of high ground that 
threatens the rear of Latakia, first in northern Hama Province, where 
Wednesday’s attacks took place, and later moving north into Idlib 
Province, according to the official and to diplomats and analysts in the 
region. Likely targets include Jabal al-Zawiya, a mountainous area that 
insurgents have held for years, and Jisr al-Shughour, a city in Idlib 
Province whose capture by insurgents in March was considered an ominous 
sign for the government.

Russian officials have said since the beginning of their air war that 
they were targeting Islamic State militants, even when bombs fell on 
territories held by other insurgent groups that oppose Mr. Assad, 
including in areas where witnesses reported seeing heavy bombardments on 

The strikes have hit the Army of Conquest, an Islamist faction that 
includes the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, as well as more 
secular groups that often fight alongside, including some that have 
received American aid. Russia has so far refused to make a distinction 
between the Army of Conquest and the Islamic State, labeling both groups 

It was not immediately clear which groups in Syria, if any, were struck 
by the Russian medium-range missiles.

Russian diplomats, Ms. Zakharova said, have asked the United States to 
identify armed groups other than units of the Syrian Army that are 
fighting the Islamic State and that should be avoided in airstrikes, but 
she said they had received no answer.

“If there are some forces that also have weapons in their hands and are 
on the ground fighting, as the coalition says, with the Islamic State, 
and they should not be touched, then wonderful,” Ms. Zakharova said. 
“Give the list, give the call signs of these people. Tell us where are 
they located, explain why they shouldn’t be touched. Indeed, this 
information is not provided.”

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, asked about the new Syrian ground 
offensive in coordination with Russian airstrikes, lamented “the Assad 
regime’s use of violence against its own people.”

Mr. Carter added that “to the extent that Russia enables that, that’s 
the fundamental reason we believe Russia is making a mistake in their 
actions in Syria.”

He took issue with what he said were suggestions in the news media that 
the United States was cooperating with Russia on Syria, and said that 
the only exchanges that the Pentagon and the Russian military could have 
on Syria at the moment were technical talks on how to steer clear of 
each other’s way in the skies above the country — so-called 
deconfliction talks.

“What we will do is continue basic technical discussions on safety 
procedures for our pilots over Syria,” Mr. Carter said, appearing at a 
news conference in Rome with Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti of Italy. 
“That’s it.”

NATO has repeatedly warned Russia — so far, to little effect — that its 
military intervention will only worsen the situation on the ground. 
Officials with the Atlantic alliance did not have an immediate response 
to the cruise missile deployment on Wednesday, but pointed to earlier 
remarks by its secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.

“I can confirm that we have seen a substantial buildup of Russian forces 
in Syria,” Mr. Stoltenberg said at a news conference on Monday. “Air 
forces, air defenses, but also then ground troops in connection with the 
air base they have.”

He continued: “We also see increased naval presence of Russian ships, 
naval capabilities outside Syria or the eastern part of the Mediterranean.”

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