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Monday, May 21

So much for speculation that MbS was killed or wounded in an alleged coup attempt

[...]
Meanwhile, a Russian media report released by Sputnik International discounted the rumours, stating that a week after the coup speculations, the Crown Prince, along with Saudi King Salman, was seen at the opening ceremony of a huge entertainment resort Qiddiya – an ambitious multi-billion dollar project that is expected to include a Six Flags theme park, water parks, motorsports, cultural events and vacation homes.
The May 18 report, from Pakistan Today, includes a pix of the prince at the ceremony.

********* 




From Iran a film drama about fighting ISIS in Syria. "This is not New York and there are no Twin Towers here"

The above quote is from an 'action' film, the first full-length film drama on the war in Syria against Islamic State and other Islamist terrorist forces. The film is from Iran and told from the Iranian view of the war; it's called Damascus Time. Here's a note at YouTube about the plot:
The city of Palmyra in eastern Syria has fallen to ISIS and they have surrounded the airport in a nearby city where many of the wounded people and also the last defenders of the airport await their emergency evacuation. A young pilot has to risk his life and reach the airport in order to help evacuate these people while they are under direct ISIS fire. A close confrontation with ISIS fighters determines their fate in a dramatic turn of events.
Here are two trailers for the film posted at YouTube; I like the first one a little better than the 'official' one.



Looks like a good film but be warned there is graphic footage of Islamic State carrying out atrocities interspersed with the fictional parts although it's not shown in the trailers.
    
Thanks to Rick Sterling, writing on May 17 at Consortium News, for alerting Westerners to the film, which is currently being shown in Iran, and for providing some background. Here are some of Sterling's notes:
The movie comes from Iranian screenwriter and film director Ebrahim Hatamikia. Two award-winning Iranian actors, Hadi Hejazifar and Babak Hamidian, play father and son pilots trying to rescue civilians besieged and attacked by ISIS forces in eastern Syria. The pilots have come to help the townspeople escape in an aging Ilyushin cargo plane.
Syrian and Iraqi actors play Syrian civilians and ISIS terrorists hell bent on blowing up the plane or using it on a suicide mission against Damascus.
Will Damascus Time make it into Western movie theaters?  Given the vast gulf between the Iranian account of the war against ISIS and the Western ones, we'll be lucky if it's shown for two days in an 'art house' theater with 15 seats in Los Angeles and Amsterdam. But eventually, after English subtitles are provided, surely it'll be available to Westerners someplace through the internet.  

Anyhow, you don't need subtitles to understand the trailers. You would need subtitles to follow NATO/GCC propaganda about the war against Islamic State.   

********

Sunday, May 20

"BREAKING NEWS: ISIS to begin leaving southern Damascus"

By Leith Aboufadel
May 20, 2018
Al-Masdar News

BEIRUT, LEBANON (3:20 A.M.) – An agreement was put in place in southern Damascus, tonight [early morning on the 20th?], after the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) agreed to surrender their last positions in the Yarmouk Camp and Hajar Al-Aswad.

According to a military source in Damascus, dozens of buses started entering the Yarmouk Camp and Hajar Al-Aswad to transport the Islamic State terrorists to the Badiya region in eastern Syria.

ISIS was forced to surrender these districts in southern Damascus after losing a large chunk of their territory to the Syrian Army this month.

With the Islamic State’s future pending departure, the city of Damascus will be free of any militant groups for the first time in seven years.

[END REPORT]

That turned out to be a long 48 hours, didn't it? But with the tunnels cut off to them for the past two weeks, the last pocket of ISIS holdouts in Yarmouk camp have finally run out of supplies. Time for a nice bus ride courtesy of the Syrian army. Sure with free box lunches thrown in. 

[dusting her hands] Next.

********

Saturday, May 19

Putin greets Assad with a joke, Merkel with flowers



As to what Putin said that made Assad laugh so hard, I wish I knew. 

DW's take on the Putin-Merkel meeting in Sochi; Reuters and RFERL on the Putin-Assad meeting, also in Sochi. 

A big thanks to RFERL for providing Americans with a link to the Kremlin's summary of what was said at the Putin-Assad meet. It's in Russian. Such a help. Yes yes but I just don't feel like fooling with Google Translate at the moment. 

But for me the most illuminating summary is that Putin waited outside for Assad's car to arrive so he could immediately greet Assad -- a gesture of great respect for a national leader to accord another --  and that he obviously wanted the video record of this to be seen by the public. 

SANA has posted the video, also available at YouTube.

******** 

Thursday, May 17

It so happens MbS hasn't been seen in public since a ruckus at the palace last month

Where's Mohammed? Media Speculate About Possible Death of Saudi Crown Prince
15:59 17.05.2018

Sputnik

The apparent disappearance of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from the public eye has led several Iranian media outlets to wonder if one of the most powerful men in the kingdom might’ve been killed during an attempted coup last month.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was allegedly hit by two bullets during the April 21 attack on the royal palace in Riyadh and may actually be dead as he has not appeared in public since the incident, Kayhan newspaper reports citing "a secret service report sent to the senior officials of an unnamed Arab state."

As [Iran's] Press TV points out, no new photo or video of bin Salman has been released by Saudi authorities since that day, and the prince "was not even seen on camera when new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made his maiden visit to Riyadh in late April."

"Bin Salman was a man who almost often appeared before the media but his 27-day absence since the gunfire in Riyadh has raised questions about his health," the Fars news agency remarks.

The Saudi authorities however are yet to comment on this matter.

On April 21 several media agencies reported heavy gunfire emanating from the Saudi royal palace in Riyadh, prompting speculations about a possible coup attempt taking place.

Saudi authorities claimed that the incident merely involved palace security guards firing upon a drone which allegedly was flying too close to the premises.

A number of local media outlets, however, reported that King Salman himself was evacuated to a nearby military installation during the shooting, with Saudi analyst Ali al-Ahmed naming the [U.S.-protected] King Khaled base as the monarch’s destination.

[END REPORT]

There was a report of a second assault on the palace on the night after the first attack but professional analysts in the West only discussed reports of the first attack -- at least in their public utterances  See Pundita posts for April 22 and April 23

What I didn't mention in the posts was a rumor from a few months earlier that King Salman was going to step down and MbS would be crowned king on June 4, if I recall the date correctly. It might have been the anonymous Saudi 'whistleblower' that FARS loves to quote who passed along the rumor. 

I remember thinking that if the rumor had credence MbS needed to triple his security detail, even though he'd already gone to extreme lengths to neutralize his opponents in the kingdom. 

We'll see.

********


If Judy could live in the moment, we can at least try

John Batchelor has rebroadcast his 2015 discussion with Robert Weintraub, which I wrote about at the time. So below I've republished my post, which has a link to the 2015 podcast of the discussion. 

Only God knows when the train will pull into the station. Yet we stand on the platform and look at the schedule and say, 'The train is late' or 'The train isn't coming.'     

So it's not a matter of never giving up; it's learning to refrain from trying to play God with one's life. I think one of the best lessons to this effect is the life of Judy, who by human reckoning was supposed to die so many times it's not possible to make an accurate count.     

No Better Friend      

At one point in the telling the suspense got so awful that John Batchelor reassured the audience before a station break, "Don't worry; she survives."

"She" was Judy: shipwreck survivor, dowser, jungle guide, prisoner of war, savior, enemy of pirates and Japanese troops, decorated World War II veteran and barker at sharks. 

That's not the half of it. She inspired many human prisoners to find the will to survive horrific conditions in Japanese internment camps because they saw Judy toughing it out. 

They said, "If a dog can do it, so can I."

Judy, or "Gunboat Judy," as the British press dubbed her, was likely the most amazing purebred Pointer who couldn't point who ever lived.

As to how a dog became a POW -- an official POW -- instead of being shot by her captors, thereby hangs one of the tales of her exploits and those of the soldier she befriended.

It's all been told in a book, No Better Friend: One Man, One Dog, and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage and Survival in WWII and last night John Batchelor and the author, Robert Weintraub, sat around the campfire and told stories from the book.

John finished by suggesting, "Read this book to your dog."

Yes, and rent a hall and read it to everyone lucky enough to wander in. Read it to banish the doldrums cast by the day's news. Read it to be reminded of the incredible mettle that man and dog can muster.

And if you can't wait to read the book there's the podcast about some of Judy's adventures, well told by Batchelor and Weintraub. Many thanks to both raconteurs. 

Pundita
August 14, 2015

Judy and Frank after the war


********

Monday, May 14

Ain't democracy grand! Mookie coalition with Communists takes big lead in Iraq election

Remember the famous purple finger showing Iraqis had voted in their first election after Saddam's toppling?
Remember bloodthirsty jihadi thug Moqtada al-Sadar?
Remember what Muslims think of Communists? 


Your eyes do not deceive you 
That's a hijab-wearing member of Iraq's Communist Party



Where to begin? Start with Jason Ditz's overview for Anti-war.com of the earth-shaking turn of political events in Iraq. Then to an in-depth analysis at Moon of Alabama. 

Now I must take a sip of sherry or maybe something stronger to recover from the amazing news. 

******** 


Oh no! Copyright police are after Lemzo Diamono's "Simb aar momim" music video! UPDATED 3:05 AM EDT

We've been blocked at YouTube?! 



O woe is me! I was going to post it here last year! Now just see the wages of procrastination! Wait -- it's still posted at

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x2zd3v3

Whew! All right, go there now. Yes of course you can watch it on full screen -- that's a 'must.' (You'll have to watch a short ad first.)

If you don't understand what you're seeing nevermind I'll explain in an update. Just watch it before it's blocked.

I'll be back after fanning myself and sniffing smelling salts. 

UPDATE

They really should get the copyright issue fixed because "Simb" is not just a pop song; it's also part of Senegalese modern music history, as you can see by reading this page (page 135) at Google Books from "Choreographies of African Identities: Négritude, Dance, and the National Ballet of Senegal" by Francesca Castaldi.

But I would argue the "Simb" video is also part of Senegal's modern social history given the controversy about males performing the Sabar dance. The controversy is now more-or-less settled in favor of the males but at the time "Simb" was made, in the early 1990s, it was still raging.

The controversy, in brief: 

The traditional Senegalese Sabar dance was exclusively performed by women. But with the advent of portable video cameras the Sabar had become a money-maker for performers. And with the rise of the wildly popular music genre called Mbalax, which brought in Sabar dancers, men were losing out. 

And so men started performing the Sabar, which led to the claim in Senegal that any man who did the Sabar became a woman. 

You can see the hilarious male retort in the "Simb" video.  

The Sabar dance controversy is just one aspect of the hit "Simb" song and video performed by Lamine Faye's Lemzo Diamono Mbalax group. The "Simb" video combines three types of dance: 

> The traditional simb (lion) or gaynde (lion in Senegal's Wolof language) dance. You won't have any trouble identifying the gaynde dance in the video.

> The Sabar, which is on display with the guys (who are actually wrestlers, according to Castaldi) dressed up as women and cavorting like them in the dance.

> A dance called mu ley ce gin, which the "Simb" video popularized. The dance is also done by the wrestlers, this time dressed in military camouflage.

Castaldi notes that this mixing of the old (lion dance) with the new is part of the video's appeal.

As to the man acting like a big cat on the prowl in the video -- from Castaldi's explanation, there's a belief in Africa that hunters who kill a lion (or other big cat), or survive an attack by one, take on the qualities of the lion. There was a popular game in the low-income quarters of Senegal's capital city based on this belief; one of these lion-men (or someone dressed up like one) would chase the children -- a version of hide-and-seek, which Lemzo Diamono worked into the video.

So. There's a lot packed into the video. Maybe now you can see why I was upset at the thought it had disappeared from the Internet. 

I've mentioned the Sabar controversy in at least one earlier post, a year or so back. That's why I'd  procrastinated about posting the "Simb" video; I'd wanted to write an explanation about the video's contribution to the controversy, which didn't get a mention in Castaldi's discussion about the video, at least not on the page the Google Books preview made available.

********

TERROR BOMBINGS AT POLICE HQ, CHURCHES INDONESIA'S 2ND LARGEST CITY

One of the church bombings on Sunday


"On Sunday, alleged Daesh-linked family of suicide bombers, including two young daughters, staged deadly attacks at three churches in Surabaya during Sunday services.

See also: 
Serial Explosions Occur in Indonesia's Surabaya City - Reports (VIDEO) - Sunday May 13 - for reports on church bombings. 
Police HQ bombings today:

05:50 14.05.2018 (updated 07:15) - Sputnik
According to media reports, a severe blast ripped through a police headquarters on Monday in the second biggest city of Indonesia Surabaya. The attack was carried out by suspects driving "vehicles", AFP cited East Java Police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera. At least seven police officers were killed, local media reported.
According to Frans Barung Mangera, the explosion had occurred at 8:50 am local time (01:50 GMT Monday - 9:50 PM ET Sunday) at the main police office.
We can't be open up all details yet because we are still identifying victims at the scene and the crime scene is being handled," East Java Police spokesman was quoted as saying by Reuters. Meanwhile, the police have already found the links with the Sunday attacks on churches in Surabaya.

“Similar types of explosives were used,” Frans Barung Mangera said. “Our personnel are identifying the victims. So far, we have accounted for seven victims. We are still collecting data,” East Java Police spokesman told reporters.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has reportedly vowed to push through a new anti-terrorism legislation to combat raging networks of Islamist militants in the country. Moreover, Widodo has claimed the Sunday's bombing attacks on three churches in Surabaya as well as a recent one outside police office as "the act of cowards, indignified and barbaric," Indonesian President was quoted as saying by Reuters.

On Sunday, alleged Daesh-linked family of suicide bombers, including two young daughters, staged deadly attacks at three churches in Surabaya during Sunday services. At least 14 have reportedly died as a result of the attack with more than 40 injured, local media reported.
[END REPORT]

*******

Saturday, May 12

Not Pukka Sahib

How did Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, come up with his published tally of intercepted American, British, and French missile strikes in Syria on April 14, and do it so very quickly -- on the morning of the strikes, and two days before the Russian tally was published?

The answer might be pretty darn strange, so let me begin before I lose my nerve:  

All quotes below are excerpted from Wikipedia's article 2018 missile strikes against Syria

From the "Forces involved" section:
According to US military's Joint Staff, the allocation of missiles to targets was:[62]
So the U.S. claimed that only three Syrian sites were targeted, with an incredibly large number of cruise missiles aimed at just one of the sites, which was not fortified.

From the "Strikes" section 
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the attack sites included two scientific research centers in Damascus and another in the Homs area, as well as military bases in Damascus.[8]
The US armed forces said all missiles hit their intended targets without interference,[65] and according to Lieutenant General Kenneth McKenzie, the Syrian air defences fired 40 intercepting surface-to-air missiles but failed to hit any of the targets. He said most were fired after the last incoming missile had struck its target.[72]
Similarly, France said none of the twelve missiles it fired appear to have been intercepted,[73] although there were reports that between three and seven French missiles were not fired due to malfunctions.[74] 
The Syrian army said it "intercepted most of the missiles",[65] while the Syrian state media reported its air defenses shot down 13 incoming missiles near Al-Kiswa, south of Damascus.[46]
The Russian military reported Syria's air defences shot down 71 of 103 cruise missiles,[64][65] and listed various airports and airbases, not mentioned by US military sources, as having been targeted partly or completely unsuccessfully.[75]
The SOHR, which is cited by many western media organisations, reported no known casualties, but stated there was considerable material damage while also saying that the Syrian Air Defense Force intercepted and downed at least 65 missiles.[76][77]
From the "Aftermath" section:
According to Jane's IHS, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 25 April 2018 "appeared to contradict" the MoD's earlier 16 April account, and was now stating that 22 (rather than 32) missiles hit their targets, that 66 (rather than 71) were intercepted, and that other incoming missiles had suffered technical malfunctions.
****
In other words if the Syrian air defense indeed intercepted and downed several missiles then, astonishingly, the SOHR count may have proved more accurate than the Russian military's.

But how? How could a one-man operation in Coventry, England with a few hundred scattered contacts among Syria's opposition fighters and anti-government activists come up with an accurate number -- and do so on the very morning of  the missile strikes? (1)

And why, for that matter, would SOHR -- famously anti-Assad -- publish an account that flagrantly contradicts the official American one and credits Syria's military for disabling several missiles?   

To come up with even a guess as to the answers we'd have to learn more about the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. One could start with the brief Wikipedia article. Next I'd study Land Destroyer's unsigned April 2013 article, EXPOSED: Syrian Human Rights Front is EU-Funded Fraud: New York Times admits fraudulent Syrian human rights group is UK-based "one-man band" funded by EU and one other "European country."

For reasons he explains in his LD report, Tony Cartalucci (he's surely the author) is certain that the "other European country" is actually the United Kingdom.

Of course the British military was one of the three that participated in the April 14 missile strikes in Syria. So that would be one way for SOHR to quickly ascertain whether any, and how many, missiles were intercepted: If someone in the British ministry of defense called the SOHR one-man band's handler and told the handler to tell Rami Abdul Rahman how many missiles were intercepted and where.

But this guess poses a sticky wicket. Why would someone high up in the British government -- or maybe the British Labour Party -- want BBC readers to know straightaway that the Trump regime was lying about a perfect strike score and about the number of targeted Syrian sites?
  
Not very pukka sahib, that scenario. On the other hand some in the British military might not consider Donald Trump pukka sahib.

And while I'm on the topic of character, bombing to rubble a site that the OPCW had inspected and cleared of chemical weapons, a site that was of vital importance to the health of all Syrians and the country's economic recovery, is most certainly not pukka sahib.

Of course there could be other guesses about how SOHR came up with their count. And what if the Joint Staff told the truth and SOHR -- and the Russians -- were full of hot air? 

The problem is that the Barzah site -- the one that took, by the U.S. count, 76 cruise missile hits in total, doesn't look as if it was hit by that many missiles, even though it sustained considerable damage. 

See for yourself; SANA (Syria's state news agency) published 21 photos of the Barzah site the day after it was bombed (click on the photos to enlarge them). 

But to quote from Defense Zone's Tyler Rogoway during his eight minute May 7 discussion with John Batchelor about the strikes:
[About] 104 standoff attack munitions -- these were cruise missiles -- were fired at three targets ... and every target was obliterated.
Here's one of the SANA photos. Does that look like obliteration to you? 



The U.S. would have an explanation, I think, for the apparent discrepancy. Here is a graphic provided by the U.S. military, published in Wikipedia's article on Barzah:



The graphic shows that the purported 76 cruise missile strikes were aimed at very specific places in the Barzah compound. However, if you study all the photos at SANA, you might ask why, then, the pinpoint strikes made such a mess elsewhere in the compound. 

And there is the problem of veteran reporter Robert Fisk's eyewitness account for the (U.K.) Independent newspaper. He clambered around in a part of the Barzah compound three days after the missile strikes; specifically, he examined the ruin of the Department of Pharmaceutical and Civilian Chemical Research – "the bit of the complex hit by at least 13 missiles."

So somebody had taken a count; whether this added up to 76 missiles is not discussed in Fisk's report but 13 missiles are a long way from 76. 

He did note that damage to the compound was greater than photographs showed, although he didn't mention which photos. In any case -- again, there was considerable damage but in many parts there was not the wipeout one might expect from the near-simultaneous impact of scores of Tomahawk missiles.

There is also Tyler's remark. He noted that the strike using that many missiles didn't make sense; I think he might have used the term "logic" -- that there was no logic to the use of that many missiles fired at such paltry structures, unfortified ones, and of such questionable use for work on chemical weapons. 

The only conclusion he could take from that much display of illogic was "dog and pony show" -- a show of firepower simply to impress. 

But the strikes would be more logical if far fewer missiles were actually fired at the site than the U.S. claimed. Yet if 100+ missiles were indeed fired, then the question would be where were they aimed? 

That would open up to the question of why the U.S. would go so far as to construct a gigantic, silly lie to hide the identity of certain targets from the public.       

And, if the tallies from SOHR and the Russians are near the mark, it's likely it was those targets that were for the most part successfully defended by Syria's air defenses. 

But this would return us to where we started.

So I am left with the question of just how Abdul Rahman came up with his tally of intercepted/downed missiles. I doubt I'll ever get a definitive answer.

And yet I'd find it poetic justice if the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which did so much for so long to misinform the British and all Western publics about what was happening in Syria, ratted out the American regime with correct information provided by the British one.

That much poetic justice couldn't happen to more deserving people, none of whom, in my opinion, pukka sahib.    

*********

Of course you can't understand SouthFront's battle maps. You don't have a decoder ring.



Yes I can make it larger. There. That's a help, isn't it?  

  

You see that blotch that looks like a little explosion and a bent arrow near Suwaghiyah? That means something's happening there. That's all we need to know.

Oh all right; let's see exactly what the battle is about in glorious downtown Suwaghiyah -- if it has a downtown. For this I turn to the SouthFront report accompanying the above map:
On May 11, fighters of the Syrian National Defense Forces (NDF) in the besieged towns of al-Fu’ah and Kafriya in the eastern Idlib countryside repelled an attack by radical militants on their positions from the eastern direction, according to the Hezbollah media wing. Local sources said that the NDF had lost one of its fighters while repelling the attack.
No group has claimed responsibility for the failed attack yet. However, Syrian pro-government sources said that the attack had been carried out by fighters of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and Jaysh al-Ahrar.
In response to the attack, warplanes of the Russian Aerospace Forces carried out a series of airstrikes on positions of HTS and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in the villages of al-Sawaghiya, Taftanaz and Ram Hamdan east of al-Fu’ah and Kafriya, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
[...]
Ah! Sawaghiyah doesn't have a downtown because it's a village. That clears up everything. Not another word, Pundita, before SouthFront sends someone after you.  

*******

Friday, May 11

I'll believe Western Europe will "resist" the U.S. if they leave NATO


From Der Spiegel's signed editorial, dated May 11, 2018, Time for Europe to join the Resistance: "U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal marks the temporary suspension of the trans-Atlantic alliance. What now?"
[...]
The most shocking realization, however, is one that affects us directly: The West as we once knew it no longer exists. Our relationship to the United States cannot currently be called a friendship and can hardly be referred to as a partnership.

President Trump has adopted a tone that ignores 70 years of trust. He wants punitive tariffs and demands obedience. It is no longer a question as to whether Germany and Europe will take part in foreign military interventions in Afghanistan or Iraq. It is now about whether trans-Atlantic cooperation on economic, foreign and security policy even exists anymore. The answer: No.
It is impossible to overstate what Trump has dismantled in the last 16 months. Europe has lost its protective power. It has lost its guarantor of joint values. And it has lost the global political influence that it was only able to exert because the U.S. stood by its side.
[...]
At least the last sentence I quoted is honest but I'm not hearing honesty in the general complaint. I am hearing pique that President Trump took the USA out of the JCPOA over objections from Western Europe and the U.K.  

The day Western European leaders really want to resist the United States is the day we'll hear serious talk about leaving NATO. Until then America is just too useful for the Europeans to make efforts to be their own guarantors.

******* 


Netanyahu regime is aiding not only Saudi Arabia but also al Qaeda

The Israeli defense establishment under Netanyahu isn't the only one to make that kind of deal. But there you have it -- Israel formed a close alliance with the agent of its doom, that being the Wahhabist Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

What to say about such a tragedy? [shrugging] "The moving finger writes and having writ moves on ..."

Of more pressing concern for me is cooperation between the IDF and al Qaeda in Syria. Is it possible that the incident Israel used as justification to bomb Syria the other night was staged by al Qaeda? If it was a false flag and not an outright lie, al Qaeda would be the prime suspect. 

From Moon of Alabama, June 24, 2017: Israel's Fire Support For Its Al-Qaeda Mercenaries Started Three Years Ago

[...]

Al-Qaeda attacked a Syrian Arab Army position in Madinat al-Baath (map) next to the Israel occupied Golan heights. Al-Qaeda requested Israeli fire-support by launching some mortars towards empty space in the Israel occupied area. The Israeli Defense Force accepted the request and destroyed two Syrian Arab Army tanks. Two Syrian soldiers were killed. The SAA held steady and the al-Qaeda attack on its position failed.

This was very easy to predict. Israel has supported al-Qaeda in the area since at least 2014. The al-Qaeda fire-request-by-mortar scheme has been in place for at least three years. In October 2014 the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), which back then still covered the area, reported to the UN Security Council:
On 23 June [2014], Israel targeted nine Syrian army positions with tank fire and air strikes after mortar fire from the Syrian side the previous day killed an Israeli civilian. Israel’s assessment is that most of these incidents are due to errant fire resulting from fighting in Syria. Israel said that armed opposition groups were probably responsible but that its forces fired on Syrian military positions to stress that Syria was responsible for security on its side of the ceasefire line.
The UN observers mentioned the "black flags" the "rebels" were using. The "rebels" in that area are al-Qaeda forces. This "fire support request by mortar" scheme has been repeated again and again

The Israeli argument is an insult to logic: The Syrian army is responsible for keeping al-Qaeda out of the area so we respond to "errant" al-Qaeda fire by [attacking] the Syrian army.

But 'western' and Israeli media have not reported or analyzed the obvious scheme. This even as the theater act gets repeated over and over again. They lie and simply report the "errant fire" nonsense even when it is clear that this is coordinated military support for al-Qaeda. For years they have hidden Israeli support for al-Qaeda and deep involvement in the Syrian war. 

Consider Israel's Haaretz, which only today(!) headlines: Analysis - Israel’s Slow Creep Into the Syrian Civil War. That "slow creep" Haaretz analyzes as a new phenomenon started at least three years ago and was neither slow nor a creep. It is full-fledged support for terrorism and has been since the beginning.

The Wall Street Journal, also three years late, reported last week that Israel had set up a special IDF unit to advise, train, support and control al-Qaeda in the Golan area: Israel Gives Secret Aid to Syrian Rebels

Israel even pays al-Qaeda's salaries:
The person familiar with Israel’s assistance confirmed that cash moves across the border but said it goes for humanitarian purposes. However, rebels interviewed said they use the cash to pay fighters’ salaries and to buy weapons and ammunition—something the Israeli military wouldn’t comment on.
[...]

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