February 5, 2016
The chess pieces are continuing to be set by the world’s two superpowers in Syria in steps that are slowly leading to the possibility of a direct military confrontation between them. That is, if the United States and NATO do not abandon their pipe dreams of world hegemony and the destruction of the secular government of Bashar al-Assad.
The latest chess pieces being moved around on the board come in the form of air bases now being set up and expanded by both the United States and Russia inside Syrian territory.
According to reports from a number of media outlets, most notably Al Jazeera and Foreign Policy, the United States has now taken control over the Rmeilan Airbase in Northeastern Syria, in the Hasakah Province.
The information was first reported after a Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesperson told Al Jazeerathat U.S. troops have taken control of the airbase in order to “assist” the SDF in their “fight against ISIS.”
The SDF is made up of a number of participants – mostly Kurdish, but also members of the Free Syrian Army, and other “moderate cannibal” groups fighting Assad and, allegedly, ISIS. The SDF has been supported by the United States in the past.
Hasakah, and the Rmeilan Airbase specifically, are located in the Northeastern tip of Syria, close to both the Iraqi and Turkish borders thus making the base a strategic location.
Taj Kordish, the SDF spokesman told Al Jazeera:
Under a deal with the YPG, the US was given control of the airport. The purpose of this deal is to back up the SDF, by providing weapons and an airbase for US warplanes. This airport was previously controlled by the YPG for over two years now. This strategic airport is close to several oil bases – one of the biggest in this area. Rmeilan airport was previously used for agricultural purposes by the Syrian government.
The notoriously discredited “human rights watchdog” the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights (SOHR), stated that the airfield is still in the process of being prepared by U.S. forces.
While, at the time of the initial reports, U.S. CENTCOM refused to either confirm or deny the information, a recent BBC article seems to suggest that the U.S. military has admitted to taking over the base and expanding the facilities. The article, “Syria Conflict: ‘US Expanding Air Strip’ In Kurdish North,” states,
Satellite imagery appearing to show the US expanding a formerly disused air strip in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria has been seen by the BBC.
The images, from the security analysts Stratfor, show a runway near the town of Rmeilan being extended from 700m (half a mile) to 1.3km.
That would make it more suitable for a larger aircraft such as a Hercules.
A spokesman for the US Department of Defence said its small team in Syria needed "occasional logistical support".
Only about 50 miles west of the newly US-seized Rmeilan air base, the Russians are in preparations to develop their response in the form of a corresponding airbase in Qamlishi, located right along the Turkey-Syria border. Some reports have claimed that Russia has deployed about 100 troops and advisors to the Qamlishi base.
While it appears that American base is further along in terms of development than its Russian counterpart, it is nevertheless a clear strategic response to the illegal insertion of American bases into Syrian territory and an attempt to checkmate the American aggression.
As the International Business Times reported in the article US Forces Setting Up Base In Northern Syria Near Russian Forces In Qamishli Airfield: Report that:
...Russian experts had “arrived to explore” the Qamishli airport’s “readiness and to check what is needed to develop and use it” near the Turkish border. The [SOHR] report added that Russian warplanes were expected to use the airport in the “coming days and weeks.” Qamishli is located south of the Turkish border town of Nusaybin.
Ulson Gunnar of New Eastern Outlook commented on the “base wars” in his own article where he wrote:
Russian forces, if they are indeed setting up in Qamishli, will establish a permanent bastion in Syria’s northeast. When inevitably Syrian forces cut off terrorists from their foreign supply routes and reestablish control over Syria’s largest cities back west, they will be able to reenter the northeast of their nation in force with Russian backing up to and including onto the doorstep of any illegal US occupation. There would be little the US could do to stop this, and no strategic or tactical means of “holding” territory already under the control of Syrian-Russian forces.
The US in this scenario is reduced to a trespasser coming up to an occupied house, unable to do anything else but leer through the window. While the US would surely be trampling the flowerbed outside the home, it would be unable to access anything of value within it.
Syria and Russia are displacing US ambitions to occupy Syria with physical forces that once in place will be difficult to remove. The US will come to the bargaining table with its "Syrian Democratic Forces" operating at the fringe of Syrian territory, with a Russian airbase standing between it and Syria's interior. Meanwhile, the lion's share of military victories against both Al Qaeda forces masquerading as the West's "moderate fighters" and the "Islamic State" (IS) itself goes to Russia and Syria, not the US.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for the US and its allies to explain just what they are actually even doing in Syria besides perpetuating the war for as long as possible. It is clear that the only progress being made in Syria against the forces of extremism is being made by the long-chastised Syrian government and their Russian, Iranian, and Lebanese allies. It is also clear that remaining hurdles preventing the final restoration of peace and order in Syria is the US and its regional allies who insist on propping up armed groups opposed to the Syrian government, and direct threats and undermining by the US itself aimed at Damascus.
Yet, in addition to the “base wars” between the United States and Russia in Syria, there is a new possible spark for World War 3 emerging on the Turkish side of the border. Evidence has been mounting for some time that the Turks were massing troops and equipment on the border with Syria in what appears to be preparations for some type of invasion. Indeed, Russia recently addressed the Turkish preparations publicly when Russia’s Defense Ministry stated that Turkey is trying to conceal “illegal military activity” on its side of the border.
Russian officials made this accusation after Turkey canceled plans for a Russian observation flight over Turkish territory.
Major General Igor Konashenkov, Defense Ministry Spokesman, stated that “Such steps carried out by a country, which is a NATO member state, in no way contribute to the strengthening of trust and security in Europe.”
Konashenkov stated that the decision to cancel the flights was “a dangerous precedent and an attempt to conceal illegal military activity near the border with Syria."
Konashenkov also pointed out that Russia is boosting its intelligence and surveillance capabilities in the region so the cancellation of observation flights will fail to hide Turkey’s military activity on the border.
For his part, Erdogan has also been abrasive in his tone toward the Russians. In regards to reports surrounding the Qamlishi base development, Erdogan immediately stated, "We have said this from the beginning: we won't tolerate such formations (in northern Syria) along the area stretching from the Iraqi border up to the Mediterranean.” Erdogan was not specific in terms of what the Turkish response could or would be but, if the Russians are telling the truth, it appears that Turkey is at least preparing for the possibility of invading Syria from its southern border.
Konashenkov also pointed out that Russia recently provided the international community with “irrefutable video evidence of Turkish artillery firing on Syrian populated areas in the north of Latakia Province.”
As RT reports,
Turkey is also supplying manpower and weaponry to terrorists in the Syrian cities of Idlib and Aleppo, Konashenkov said.
The spokesman showed the media a photo of the Reyhanli checkpoint, saying that "through this very border crossing – mainly at nighttime – the militants, who seized the city of Aleppo and Idlib in northwestern Syria, are being supplied with arms and fighters from the Turkish territory.”
The terrorists in northern Syria are suffering losses and retreating to the Turkish border, the Defense Ministry spokesman said.
The fact that Turkey has been supporting, facilitating, arming, and guiding ISIS and other related terror groups since the beginning of the Syrian crisis is not in question. However, risking a direct military confrontation – especially in open war – with the Russians would be a stunning new escalation to the Turk position.
While such a prospect would likely be immensely destructive to the Turks, it is not outside the realm of possibility since Turkey downed a Russian jet it claims was flying over its territory only months ago, risking a wider confrontation with Russia. All evidence, however, showed that the jet did not violate Turkish airspace.
Still, the Turks, even as unstable as Erdogan might be, are not likely to attack Russian forces or even Syrian military positions without the blessing of the United States and NATO and the assurance that they would back Turkey up in the event of a military clash with Russia. Thus, any large scale confrontation between Turkey and Russia threatens to encompass many more nations than the two originally involved.
The Turks would be wise to protect their borders and immediately end any and all support for terrorist “rebels” fighting in Syria as well as closing any corridors being used by these foreign-backed invaders. Not one Turkish or Russian citizen – or any average citizen anywhere in the world - will stand to gain from a world war and those powers who stand to gain from the continued destabilization of Syria do not deserve to do so.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 andv olume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria,and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 650 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST atUCYTV. His website isBrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.