Russian missiles rain down on IS

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

RUSSIAN cruise missiles rained down on Raqqa, the terror “capital” in eastern Syria, this week as loyalist forces continue to advance on all fronts in the war against the “Islamic State” (IS) and the other terrorist gunmen who have spread death and destruction across Syria over the past four years. Imperialist war-planes have strafed a Syrian Arab Army position and the Iraqi government has given Turkey an ultimatum to withdraw all Turkish troops from the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region.

On Tuesday the Rostov-on-Don, a Russian submarine operating in the eastern Mediterranean, fired cruise missiles against IS positions near the terrorists’ stronghold in Raqqa. Russian president Vladimir Putin praised the efforts of his navy and said he hoped these weapons would never have to be armed with nuclear warheads in the war against terror.

Meanwhile the Syrian army continues to push the terror gangs back, while other rebels have evacuated the last area held in the city of Homs under a truce negotiated with the Syrian government.

Some 800 rebel militiamen and civilian supporters left Homs and 35 rebel prisoners were freed following a ceasefire deal reached with the Syrian government this week. Homs is the third largest city in the country with a population of 1.5 million. The city, once dubbed the “capital of the revolution” by the imperialist media, is now in total government control. Under a UN-backed ceasefire food aid was delivered to the formerly rebel-held neighbourhood for the first time in nearly a year.

Back in Damascus the Syrian government has condemned deadly US raids on Syrian villages and a Syrian army camp as “blatant aggression”. Last Sunday US led coalition forces bombed a Syrian army camp in Deir ez Zor, killing three soldiers, wounding 13 others, and destroying a number of military vehicles and an arms depot. The next day American warplanes hit the village of Al Khan, killing at least 26 civilians and wounding many more. Most of the victims were women and children. No Syrian troops were operating in the area. Soon afterwards the village was overrun by IS gunmen who were later driven out by militiamen loyal to one of their Islamist rivals.

The Americans deny bombing the Syrian camp and say that they’re “investigating” the attack on Al Khan while spreading rumours that the attack on the Syrian military post was “friendly fire” from Russian aircraft. But the Russian Defence Ministry says that four US coalition warplanes were spotted over the Deir ez Zor area on 6th December when the Syrian army camp came under attack and that no Russian warplanes were in the region.

The Syrians have complained to the UN Security Council, which may soon have to intervene on an even bigger crisis brewing up over Turkey’s latest incursion into Iraq.

Some 600 Turkish troops supported by 25 tanks are now operating inside the Kurdish autonomous region of Iraq, with the blessing of the feudal Kurdish leaders but without any approval from the national government of Iraq. The Turks are based in an area under Kurdish control near Mosul, which has been held by IS since June 2014, and they are allegedly there to train Kurdish Peshmarga militiamen in the fight against IS. But this has enraged the central government in Bagdad, which was not involved in the negotiations between the Turks and the Kurdish Regional Government.

Last Sunday the Iraqis gave the Turks an ultimatum to withdraw from their soil or face the consequences. This would begin with a formal complaint to the UN Security Council, which met in closed session on Tuesday at Russia’s request to discuss Turkey’s reckless military actions in Iraq and Syria.