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A Year After Calling Idlib “Al Qaeda's Largest Safe Haven Since 9/11,” the US Govt is Trying to Save it

Published: September 5, 2018
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Source: Mint Press

WASHINGTON – As the Syrian government and its allies prepare to begin a military offensive against the last rebel-held province in the country, top U.S. government officials and even U.S. President Donald Trump have recently urged Syria to refrain from “recklessly” attacking the Idlib province, warning that it could result in a high civilian death toll. These recent statements of U.S. government officials have sought to portray Idlib as chiefly populated by civilians and benign opposition “rebels.”

Yet, just last year, one of the U.S. government’s top counterterrorism officials involved in the country’s Syria and Iraq policy stated on video that, in contrast to current government statements, Idlib is dominated by none other than the Al Qaeda terrorist group and that the province should be a major focus of U.S. counterterrorism policy given the threat that Idlib represents to global efforts to fight terrorism.

Speaking last July at a conference organized by the Middle East Institute, Brett McGurk – the U.S. government’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Daesh, ISIS) –called Syria’s Idlib province “the largest Al Qaeda safe haven since 9/11 tied directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri [current leader of Al Qaeda].” He then immediately added that the Al Qaeda presence in Idlib was a “huge problem” and had been so “for some time.”

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On Friday Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement ahead of the imminent Syrian government and Russian campaign to liberate Idlib from jihadist control. Pompeo said via Twitter: "The 3 million Syrians, who have already been forced out of their homes and are now in Idlib, will suffer from this aggression. Not good. The world is watching."

The now formulaic methodology for preparing the ground ahead of a false flag attack in Syria is actually not that old, and not that well-used, and yet it is perceived as being enormously hackneyed by an increasing number of people in the English-speaking world – and more pertinently, by the Syrians and Russians who have to deal with the consequences of these provocations.  So, we would be daft to believe that those in UK and US Government who would engage in it think that they have the wool pulled over everyone’s eyes. A general rule that applies is this: as long as some of the people are being fooled some of the time, then efforts will proceed along their well-worn Modus Operandi travel tracks. This explains the persistence.

Here we go again. Did Bolton just give jihadists facing imminent final defeat under Assad and Russian bombs an open door invitation to initiate a chemical provocation? As CNN and others warned this week that Syrian and Russian forces are closing in on the "last rebel stronghold" in Syria in the country's northwest pocket of Idlib province, US National Security Advisor put Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on notice, saying the United States would respond "very strongly" if pro-government forces use chemical weapons in their campaign to retake Idlib.

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