Thursday, July 19, 2012

Iran Quds Force Commander Killed in Damascus

Yesterday a bomb exploded at Syria's National Security headquarters not only killed 2 of Assad's top generals, but also got Iran's Quds Force Commander Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani.
Reports in the Arab-language press indicate the head of Iran's covert foreign operations Quds force was killed in Wednesday's bombing in Damascus.

Al-Quds Force's long-elusive commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, is reported to have made several trips to Damascua to meet with Assad and his top commanders since January of this year.

Iran has made no bones about having bolstered Assad's embattled regime with members of its own elite Revolutionary Guard, but the death of Suleimani would be a direct blow to Tehran.

Suleimani, who masterminded al-Quds Force operations in Iraq and covert activities throughout the Persian Gulf and Lebanon, is a key figure in Iranian policymaking, particularly in security matters.

A combat veteran of Iran's 1980-88 war with Iraq, Suleimani took command of the al-Quds Force in the late 1990s and has become a powerful figure in the upper echelons of the Tehran regime.

His death in Wednesday's bombing could indicate Syria's rebels have covert support from Western nations in their anti-Assad campaign.

The United States, along with its allies, would like to see regime change in Damascus and end Syria's alliance with Iran, forged in 1980 by Assad's late father, Hafez Assad.

Israel, the United States, and Saudi Arabia all have known scores to settle with Suleimani. Riyadh and Washington recently blamed the Quds Force for a failed attempt to assassinate Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States.

Jerusalem blames the Quds force for the deadly bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Ares eighteen years ago, as well as a recent spate of bombing attempts targeting Israeli diplomats abroad.

Suleimani's death may also explain the verbal aggression of Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah towards Israel in a speech he delivered following Wednesday's attack The Quds Force and Hizbullah terror organization in Lebanon have a long-established relationship, which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called out on Wednesday following a bus bombing in Bulgaria that left at least six Israelis dead and dozens more wounded.

Iran also openly helped Hizbullah target US interests and personnel in Lebanon in the 1980's, and is believed to have advised the terror group when it carried out its deadly attacks on the US Marine Corps baracks and Embassy in Beirut. Officially established thirty years ago, the Quds Force had as many as 2,500 members in Lebanon in 1982, and continues to provide military advisers to Hizbullah and other anti-Israel terror groups.

During Israel's 2006 war with Hizbullah, IDF personnel unconvered identification and documents for Quds Force members who actively fought against Israel.

Meanwhile, Syria's rebels -- of whom the Free Syrian Army of some 30,000 army defectors comprises the largest faction -- continue to accumulate successes: the long-loyal Division 61 defected in Damascus, while ammunition depots were looted by rebels.

Elsewhere, residents in Aleppo took to the streets to celebrate as rebels moved into the city, while the once impregnable Assad bastion of Damascus has become a fierce battleground as the rebels press their offensive deeper into the capital.

Meanwhile, Al-Arabiya TV reported that the Syrian security forces are shelling areas adjacent to the Golan Heights. Israel has placed its military on high alert and cancelled all weekend leaves out of concern the fighting could spill over into the Jewish state.

This death confirms the link between Iran and Syria.  It isn't that intelligence through out the world knew about this connection, there was never confirmed   Added to Assad's woes is the fact that the Palestinian "refugees" who have been kept in Refugee Camps since 1949 by the Syrian Regime have joined the fight along side of those rebelling against Assad.
A number of Palestinian refugees living in Damascus have joined the uprising in Syria, according to activists and rebels, with some taking up arms alongside rebel Free Syrian Army fighters.

The majority of at least 500,000 Palestinians in Syria have been living in the country since the 1948 creation of Israel, and the Syrian regime has systematically striven to control their political activity.

Most of the refugees joining the anti-regime revolt are not affiliated to traditional Palestinian factions or movements, according to activists.

"Many of us -- especially the youth -- are in sympathy with the revolution, and now that the fighting is in Damascus, we cannot stay put," a Palestinian from Yarmuk refugee camp, on the outskirts of the capital, told AFP.

A member of the Free Syrian Army looks on from a truck in Kafr Takharim, on the outskirts of Idlib July 17, 2012. Picture taken July 17, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

"Many Palestinian youth have joined the FSA, and they are fighting side by side with the Syrian revolutionaries in the Tadamon and Al-Hajar Al-Aswad districts," said the activist, who identified himself as Abu al-Sakan.

Abu al-Sakan said sympathy for the uprising has grown among Palestinians, especially as more and more Syrians displaced from Homs, Daraa and Hama in the provinces seek refuge in or around the refugee camps in Damascus.

With fighting raging in nearby Tadamon, Al-Midan and Al-Hajar Al-Aswad districts, hundreds of civilians have sought shelter since last week in Yarmuk camp, activists say, stoking fears the army might launch an attack on the area.

Though the camp was calm on Tuesday, it was difficult for people to leave and gunfire could be heard from neighbouring areas.

Demonstrations in the camp have become common, activists say. Last Friday, thousands of people -- Palestinians and Syrians -- took part in a protest that started off from mosques in the area, a witness said.

Colonel Kassem Saadeddine, spokesman for the FSA's Homs-based joint command, told AFP on Tuesday that "Palestinians are fighting alongside us, and they are well trained."

The regime has accused the West, Gulf states and Israel of conspiring against Syria, while boasting it hosts half a million Palestinian refugees and supports their people's struggle for statehood.

"The regime says it supports the Palestinians and gives us equal rights," said Abu al-Sakan.

"In fact this means we are treated in exactly the same brutal way as the Syrians. It is just as ready to kill us," he said, adding that "just like the Syrians are divided over the revolt, so are the Palestinians."

Activists say the most support for the uprising comes from young Palestinians disaffected with traditional party factions.

The mainstream Fatah has historic qualms with the regime. Its activists were heavily persecuted by the Syrian regime during the 1980s, but they have tried to remain neutral in the domestic conflict.

An ex-Fatah member and former political detainee in Syria's dreaded prisons, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, said Fatah loyalists in Damascus silently despise the regime but fear the consequences if Islamists take over.

"Palestinians have also paid the price of Arab countries' struggles for decades. So most Fatah supporters are trying to stay on the fence," explained the former detainee.

"But it is difficult because even if they do not go to the revolt, the revolt is coming to them."

The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas, the bulk of whose politburo was based in Damascus until February, may have distanced itself from the regime but without publicly supporting the revolt.

Another Damascus-based faction loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, argued on July 3 that the uprising was not a genuine local movement.

It was part of "a change in the foundations of this region in order to create a new Middle East."

Echoing the Assad regime, PFLP-GC spokesman Anwar Raja said the Palestinians were "convinced that the political regime in Syria is facing a war to divide the country and to dismantle its relations with the (Palestinian) resistance."

Raja said most of the demonstrators were Syrians from outside the camp and "there was only a limited number of Palestinians. We think the (Israeli spy agency) Mossad benefits from all the destructive actions in Syria."

In a statement issued on Monday night, the FSA's joint command warned that pro-regime Palestinian leaders on Syrian soil were "legitimate targets."

For his part, Abu al-Sakan slammed the PFLP-GC's stance. "As Palestinians we have two revolutions: one against the Palestinian factions which do nothing for us, and another against the Syrian regime," he said.

The $64,000 question now is: "Where are Assad's Chemical Weapons?"  Are they still in Syria?  Were they sent to Hizbullah in Lebanon?  To Iran?  If they are still in Syria, will Assad use them on his own people?  Has he already used them?

Many experts believe that Assad has only a few hours, a few days at most to be in office.  I have to disagree.  Knowing Assad I believe he will prolong the outcome by using every weapon at his disposal.  He is determined to stay in power.  And he knows what will happen to him if caught.  He will fight on as long as his army supports him.  And Russia still has his back.  Until Russia deserts Assad he is safe.

This is what I believe.  I might be wrong, but I don't think so.  He has been hurt, but not fatally.

1 comment:

SnoopyTheGoon said...

Well, re Suleimani: dead, shmead - the important thing is health, after all.