Sunday, May 10, 2015

Take Two

Assad is going on offense near Damascus. Again.

Assad and his Hezbollah shock troops are going after rebels near Lebanon:

The Syrian army, backed by Hezbollah fighters, has made advances in mountainous areas along Syria's border with Lebanon, a Hezbollah official said on Friday.

The push in the Qalamoun mountain range appeared to be preparation for a wider offensive in the border region previously announced by Hezbollah, the staunch Lebanese ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syrian state media said dozens of insurgents had been killed.

Assad had this objective last year.

I wasn't overly worried back then since rebels who can't hold territory can go guerrilla and survive until Assad has to send his few decent troops elsewhere to cope with another tough situation.

So now Assad is out to re-clear the mountains to the west of Damascus. Remember, it is clear and hold.

In related news, Assad has used chlorine gas since that Kerry deal deprived Assad of chemical weapons:

The American ambassador to The Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Robert Mikulak, cited a "steady stream" of accounts that the government is using chlorine as a chemical weapon, as recently as this month.

On the bright side for Assad, he doesn't need to rely on century-old chlorine gas to kill his enemies if he wants to:

International inspectors have found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared to the global chemical weapons watchdog, diplomatic sources said on Friday.

Samples taken by experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in December and January tested positive for chemical precursors needed to make the toxic agents, the sources told Reuters on the condition of anonymity because the information is confidential.

"This is a pretty strong indication they have been lying about what they did with sarin," one diplomatic source said. "They have so far been unable to give a satisfactory explanation about this finding."

Presidential chemical weapons use red line? Crossed and crossed again!

But we'll punish Assad since we are now training the first group of Syrian rebels, right?

"The principle is wrong — very wrong," said a rebel who goes by the alias Abu Qays, with the Levant Front faction, or Jabha al-Shamiya, which operates in and around the northern province of Aleppo.

He, like many other Syrian rebels, say they have been squeezed by Assad's army from one side and Islamic State group fighters from the other, and they are fighting both. "But to say that we are training you to fight Daesh and not Bashar is an insult," he told AP by phone, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Oh, we're training rebels to fight against terrorists who are fighting Assad.

Of course, that rebel doesn't know the half of it. Even if we were training rebels to fight Assad, we have said we only want rebels to fight and die to pressure Assad into negotiations rather than to defeat him.

Really, with the Obama administration, be satisfied that they are being asked to fight and die to defeat someone. We do want to defeat ISIL, right?