The BBC have reported today that the British Museum is presently ‘guarding’ a precious artefact stolen from Syria, ‘in the hope of returning it when the country is stable’. I suppose it must be assumed that ‘stable’, is code for ‘when Assad is overthrown’. Director Neil MacGregor told The Times:
“We are playing a significant part in holding objects that have been illegally exported. We did that in Afghanistan and are now returning them. We are holding an object we know was illegally removed from Syria and one day it will go back.
The question of whether we should help with the conservation and preservation of another country’s heritage is serious. There is a significant international agreement, the Hague Convention about the protection of cultural property in war zones. Only one country in the security council hasn’t ratified it, the UK..”
The British Museum would not reveal which artefact they have in their possession, or how it came to be in its possession. Was it smuggled into the UK? Did the museum purchase it? It would be interesting to know what the item is, as this would give away what location it was taken from and who controls that territory. Clearly they do not want that information to be made public.
There are stolen items up for sale in Turkey, and I know that al Nusra and its affiliates looted churches in Maaloula which then turned up in Lebanon. Citizens in Maaloula have so far managed to recover more than 100 artefacts from Lebanon, following fifteen months of work and negotiations. Many of the items came back sabotaged, and were all together in poor condition compared with before they were taken. Maaloula is holding an event to showcase the recovered pieces on June 13th, with the artefacts to be displayed at the historical yard of the old church. The group will then release a short film clip documenting the event.
Items taken from churches in Maaloula, Syria by JAN & its affiliates
(found in Lebanon)
To return to the British Museum, one must ask whether they have contacted Syrian authorities to discuss their ‘find’, and why they can’t just return the object now? I might try inquiring about some of these issues, although I doubt they will feel inclined to reply.
With the recent news of the fall of Ramadi in Iraq and now Sirte in Libya, things are not looking good for these countries. The MSM is today claiming that the daeshbags have now captured the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, but as usual, this info is coming from the London-based, one-man Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. While the Syrian Arab Army had did retreat – thinking the city had been saved – the claim that ISIS are now in full control is false. From the Syrian Perspective:
The mistake was to assume that the ISIS threat was gone and to withdraw many troops from the city in order to protect other sites, especially the newly recovered gas and oil stations. This left the town largely unprotected. In addition to this, our military sources state that the bulk of the ISIS rodents were remnants of defeated units at the Al-Shaa’er Mountain area where many gas fields are located.
Friendly sites kept repeating that Palmyra was “strategically” important. Every site in Syria is reported as “strategically important” and its becoming nauseating. Palmyra is not important militarily unless you are a terrorism supporter, in which case, every hamlet becomes a major site for blocking this or that. It happens to be important strictly from the standpoint that it contains a tourism-rich Roman city considered a gem of architectural splendor in the desert.
All inhabitants of the town have been evacuated, just like Idlib. The rats won’t have anyone to behead here unless they can capture a soldier or militiaman.
The SAA has redeployed forces to all entrances to the town. All, I repeat “all”, corridors into the city are under the control of the SAA. SAA artillery and SAAF sorties are destroying whole nests of ISIS rats – a process made even easier by the evacuation of citizens. The SAA has already retaken the two checkpoints at the Museum and the Khattaab Quarter. There is an on-going pitched battle now around the National Security Building. The SAA has recovered control over the Military Security Headquarters and all Western Hills including the Desert Falcons Branch HQ and the Citadel.
As I write, I am informing NSNBC, that there is a very violent battle going on at the city center. The Palmyra ruins remain in the hands of the Syrian Army.
Read more at http://www.syrianperspective.com/2015/05/the-battle-for-palmyra-what-really-happened-according-to-our-military-sources.html#5MshfermpPu7YEjY.99
The mainstream media are basically acting as ISIS propagandists, claiming that the ‘fall’ of Palmyra suggests huge disarray within the Syrian army and its allied forces. In reality they are as united as ever, their setbacks are due to the so-called ’60 country anti-ISIS coalition’ being far more heavily invested in seeing Assad and Putin fall, not to mention the partition of Iraq, than defeating ISIS.
The US only carried out 7 air strikes over the course of the 24 hours in which Ramadi fell, and have threatened to suspend these token gestures altogether as the Shias are moving in – despite doing so at the request of Sunni tribesmen. A couple of days previously, the US violated Syria’s sovereignty to take out one guy. It is quite clear what is going on.
There was also an attempt to blow up the Russian embassy in Damascus today, with one Syrian security guard being killed. The same thing happened in Yemen – while Russia sent dozens of planes to rescue civilians of all nationalities, including many Americans – while the Yank planks wouldn’t life a finger to save their own citizens.
On a happier note, much progress has made by Hezbollah and the SAA in the Qalamoun. Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Nasrallah gave a speech on May 16 declaring victory is near (video below). Here’s a clip of the allied forces celebrating their recent victories with a dakbe – a much-needed moment of respite in a war that may finally result in global suicide.
Syrian rebels have been celebrating, having a few days ago captured the city of Idlib after days of intense fighting – causing the government’s forces to withdraw completely in the face of collapse.
The operation was undertaken by the “Fattah Army” coalition of rebel groups, which included al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front. Other factions within the Fattah Army umbrella included Ajnad al-Sham, Jund al-Aqsa, Jaish al-Sunna, Liwa al-Haqq, and Faynad al-Sham. I can’t say I know much about any of these groups apart from al-Nusra, but having just Googled them, I see they’re all Islamist groups.
A source from within the Syrian military alleges that both Turkey and Jordan helped the militants capture the city, accusing both of planning the operation and supplying the insurgents with advanced communication apparatus. This information is likely to be accurate, as it was recently reported in some Arab media that Turkey was now directly helping the rebels. In February, the Turkish military violated Syrian sovereignty by leading an army convoy into northern Syria to evacuate a historic tomb, and the soldiers who were guarding it. However despite the media stating in their reporting of this incident that ISIS had earlier threatened to destroy the tomb, there had actually been no negative interactions between the two groups, and ISIS and Turkish soldiers had lived side-by-side peacefully for months. In fact Turkey has also allowed ISIS to use its territory to stage attacks, including on Kobane, and there is currently a black flag flying atop a Turkish village along the Turkish-Syrian border. Thus it is most likely that at least Turkey helped with the taking of Idlib.
The al-Nusra Front declared their conquest by tweeting: “Thanks be to God, the city of Idlib has been liberated,” in response to their new victory.
The head of the Free Syrian Army – General Salim Idriss – also seemed to endorse the outcome of Fattah Army’s campaign, as can be seen below.
In a later tweet he then stated that the Nusra Front are only “al-Qaeda affiliated”, and must “defect,” in order to become good little moderates like himself.
Due to the source of amusement and ridicule these comments were to Syria supporters – with Idriss having previously aligned himself and the FSA with the goals of a liberal democracy – the Western-backed opposition, the Syrian National Coalition, ended up releasing a statement announcing that the Twitter account was a hoax, and that Idriss does not use social media in an official capacity. The Idriss account now states that it’s a parody profile.
However it is interesting that the SNC or the “Secretary of Defense in the interim Syrian government” felt the need to distance Idriss from al-Nusra and “extremism and terrorism,” when they themselves hailed the taking of the city, saying that it was an “important victory on the road to the full liberation of Syrian soil from the Assad regime and its allies.” They also made fresh pleas for more assistance from the West.
The statement is also a bit odd because many high-figures within the FSA have openly collaborated with ISIS and al-Nusra, and have been filmed doing so and talking about it. The SNC and their US, British, French and Gulf backers don’t really care about who’s “moderate,” they’re happy for anyone – no matter how ideologically insane – to get the job of removing the Assad government done. All this stuff about moderates is just PR for the domestic audiences.
As for these supposed 5000 “moderates” that the US are going to be sending into Syria each year…anyone who is willing to take up arms against both ISIS and the Syrian Arab Army five years into a civil war has to be a complete nut-job. I’m also pretty sure that whoever’s doing the vetting process isn’t being too strict. Currently it seems like they (the US army) is having trouble finding recruits, having a total of 300 men at last count. However let’s face it, these guys probably aren’t going to fight ISIS at all. Just as the FSA told Theo Padnos – the American journalist who was kidnapped and handed over to al-Nusra by the FSA – they lied to the Americans about working and sharing weapons with al-Nusra, there’s nothing to stop this new group doing the same.
What does need to be said about these fresh recruits is that they could be a Trojan horse for the West to directly wage war on the Syrian government. The Obama administration is currently thinking up legislation that will protect these forces should they come under attack from the SAA, and this may include some US forces working alongside the ‘rebels’. It could also possibly include even more US soldiers being sent in as a result of such an attack. This all seems like laying a trap for Assad, as it essentially means America’s mercenaries are free to attack the Syrian army, but if they attack in retaliation, this will allow the US and its allies to intervene. And obviously, if these guys are causing bloody havoc in their country, the SAA will need to do something about it.
To return to Idlib…
It seems that some ‘revolutionaries’ are no longer satisfied with the way things are now being run there. For example:
Isn’t this to be expected from a city taken over by Islamists? In the government half of Aleppo, nightclubs have started to reopen every night, and there are always people to be found there at 3am. On the rebel-held half of the city, restaurants and cafes are split into male only and family sections – just like in Saudi Arabia. I suspect things are about to get a lot worse in Idlib.
The video below was posted on May 30th:
(It shows Islamists engaging in Takbeers before being interrupted by SAA warplanes overhead, and is quite amusing – in fact it couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of guys!)
I assume the barrel bombs have just begun to fall on Idlib.