Syria now ‘at war’

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

SYRIAN terror gangs stepped up their attacks to exploit the heightening tension following the downing of a Turkish warplane by Syrian air defence units. Gunmen stormed a Syrian TV station on Wednesday killing three members of staff and attacking other military and civilian targets on the outskirts of Damascus.

President Bashar Assad now says his country is in a state of war but Turkey has backed down from direct confrontation, following the loss of one its F4 Phantom jets over Syrian air-space last week.

The Turks, who openly provide arms, funds and a safe-haven for the rebel “Free Syrian Army”, claim their jet had innocently strayed into Syrian air space while on a training mission. Some believe it was probing Syria’s air defences; others that it was attempting to spy on the Russian shipping off Latakia when it was hit. But whatever the motive the robust response showed Nato that Syria is capable of defence in the air.

Though Turkey’s Nato allies predictably backed the Turkish version of events they’ve drawn back from escalation, possibly because they didn’t want to jeopardise renewed imperialist efforts to isolate Iran or embarrass the Israeli government, which held summit talks with Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Tel Aviv this week.

The Israeli media claimed that US President Barack Obama personally turned down a Turkish appeal to use the incident as a pretext to launch a Nato offensive against Syria and establish “no-fly zones” and “safe havens” for the rebels on Syrian territory. Obama allegedly told the Turks that the time had not yet come for direct US military intervention in Syria but covert operations to bring down the Assad government would continue.

That is certainly true.

“We live in a real state of war from all angles,” Assad told the first session of the new Syrian cabinet this week. “And when we are in a war, all of our politics must be concentrated on winning this war.”

One front is the Nato media campaign to portray the Muslim Brotherhood rebels as saints and demonise the Assad government. The rebel’s latest trick has been to torch cars and burn tyres in parts of Damascus, to give the imperialist machine images of mortar attacks and general chaos in the Syrian capital while feeding the “human rights” gang with tales of atrocities to justify their own sectarian campaign of bombings, kidnappings and killings.

Another has been the deployment of Nato special forces to help the rebels inside Syria. Turkish and French commandos have already been detained by Syrian security. Now it seems that British special forces have entered the arena.

According to, a right-wing Israeli intelligence news agency, British special forces are operating across the Turkish border in northern Syria helping the “Free Syrian Army” and giving them badly-needed hi-tech communications equipment. claims that a British unit made it possible for the first Syrian rebel leader, Burham Ghalioun of the “Syrian National Council” (SNC), to set foot in Syria. Under their heavy guard, Ghailioun toured rebel-controlled local villages in Idlib for a few hours before crossing into Lebanon.

Ghalioun boasted about his trip on his return to Beirut this week though he made no mention of British or other Nato assistance. Ghalioun, an exiled professor of sociology at the Sorbonne in Paris, was forced to resign as head of the “SNC” in May after others accused him of trying to monopolise the leadership of the rebel movement.