Information operations · Information Warfare · Iran · Russia · Syria

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (145)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

I learned a new word today. Tosser. The perfect description for the two GRU agents who attempted to assassinate the Skripals, failed, were identified by British intelligence, and clumsily tried to explain they were looking for nutritional supplements and were in Salisbury to tour Stonehenge (and failed) and to tour the cathedral (and failed). Putin was pleased with the interview, it is written, but the Russian public did not agree. 

In yet another Russian propaganda failure, Russia and Syria’s attempted fake CW raid on Idlib has resulted in the US issuing an ultimatum that any attack on Idlib would be punished by the United States. This raises the pucker factor for both Putin and Assad. 

Russia failed by posing the NKVD coverup as archaeological digs. 

Former SECSTATE Kerry chastised for playing politics in diplomacy.

Russia and Iran are now toxic cesspools of lies, fake news, and trash talk.

</end editorial>

By any Western measures of success, this week has been a catastrophic fail for the Russian propaganda machine. The Salisbury stunt has exploded  – appears the targeting of the zombified Russian domestic media audience produced unexpected outcomes on the global stage. Gen Zolotov’s challenge to Navalniy did even more poorly, producing a viral ridicule in Russian social media, and amusement in the West. The “pre-emptive fake news” effort on the Idlib CW strike appears to have mainly produced aggravation across the West and a hardening of positions on Syria. Flying fighter escorted BEAR ALCM carriers into the Alaskan ADIZ has produced a sharp response from the US. Vostok 2018 has produced as much critical analysis as media awe.

Notably the Ukrainians report that Vostok 2018 movements were used as cover for movements of BM-27 MLRS to the Ukrainian border regions. In Holland, two Russian covert operators detained.  Also, a very good essay by Dr Pry – the obvious seems to be so frequently forgotten. More on the Karelian mass grave digs, suspected to involve the destruction of Gulag remains to hide evidence of NKVD mass murders of Balts, Ukrainians and other minorities.

HM Govt states the blunt realities of Russia’s latest propaganda stunt. UK media have deconstructed it completely – COCW applies. NYT report the Agency is moving to protect US resident defectors.

Syria? The US and UK positions have clearly hardened. Fox interview Amb Haley. OSD comments on Russian V-MF deployment in Med. Rep Kinzinger calls for a better Syria strategy. Germany opposes Syrian offensive and may join the Coalition force, pro-Russian SDP collusion regardless. Erdoğan to meet the Vozhd over Idlib, while Turkish forces continue buildup in Idlib region. Lin argues China’s support for Assad reflects fears of many thousands of highly combat experienced Uighur jihadis returning to China. State chastises former SECSTATE over Iran dealings.

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Russian diplomat derides London’s response to Skripal suspects’ interview

In an interview with Russia’s RT TV channel, Petrov and Boshirov said they had visited Great Britain as tourists

TASS: World – Skripal suspects expressed their opinion, but this does not put lid on case — diplomat

Zakharova also criticized the British authorities «who came up with a series of identical evaluations an hour after the interview»

Skripal case suspects tell RT editor-in-chief what they do for living & why they travel to Europe — RT World News

The two Russian men London blames for carrying out the Skripal poisoning have told RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan what they do for living and what led them to Europe.

‘Stupid for men to carry women’s perfume’ – Skripal poisoning suspects on Nina Ricci bottle — RT World News

Arguably the most awkward moments in the interview, which the two men named by Britain as suspects in the Skripal affair gave to RT’s editor-in-chief, came when their straightness came into question.

RT Editor-in-Chief Reveals Salisbury’s ‘Suspects’ Preconditions for Interview – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of the RT broadcaster and Sputnik news agency, said on Thursday that Russian citizens Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, suspected by London in the Salisbury poisoning incident, had set preconditions before giving her an interview.

‘Salisbury Cathedral beautiful this time of year’: Russian travel firm pounces on Skripal hype — RT World News

There is no such thing as bad publicity, the saying goes. A Russian firm selling airline tickets is now advertising trips to Salisbury, saying the town’s cathedral is a sight worth traveling all the way from Moscow to see.

Novichok suspects Petrov and Bashirov want ‘apology’ from UK over allegations – YouTube

Daily Mail Published on Sep 13, 2018 The men, who allegedly used the aliases Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov to smuggle nerve agent into the UK in a James Bond-inspired perfume bottle, told state-funded TV station RT the theory is ‘complete bulls***’. They claim they were only in Salisbury for an hour because of gaps in the Sunday train service to London and said if they stumbled upon Sergei Skripal’s house it was only by accident. Scotland Yard and MI5 say they are GRU spies sent to murder Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia after carrying enough novichok to wipe out 4,000 civilians into Britain on a plane from Russia. During their extraordinary and brazen cover story the men claimed they now fear for their lives and demanded an apology from Britain if they find the true assassins. But within minutes of their stage-managed TV appearance today it was branded ‘Kremlin managed propaganda’ a and the PM’s spokesman called their account ‘obfuscation and lies’. Salisbury MP John Glen tweeted: ‘Delighted that Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Borishov were able to see the world-class attractions that Salisbury has to offer. But very strange to come all this way for just two days while carrying Novichok in their luggage’. Critics also pointed out the men said they failed to cope with ‘slush’ despite reportedly living in Siberia, where there is often snow on the ground for half the year.

Kremlin Says it Would Consider British Request Over Skripal Poisoning Suspects

The Kremlin says it will study any British request to question the two men London suspects of trying to murder a former spy, in strict accordance with Russian law.

Two Russian spies detained in Netherlands –

Russians were heading to Switzerland to get data of lab in Spitz, which, also helps to investigate chemical attacks in Syria and poisoning of Skripals in British Salisbury.

US Ambassador Haley Seethes at Syria and Russia Over Contrived Chemical Threat – Sputnik International

Late last month, the Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation reported that representatives of the White Helmets group had delivered a large shipment of toxic substances to a warehouse used by Ahrar al-Sham militants in Idlib province.

‘Don’t test us’: Haley threatens US strikes over any attack on Syria’s Idlib — RT US News

Any attack on Syria’s Idlib province is going to be “dealt with,” US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley warned, as Washington seeks to stop the Russian-backed Syrian army from retaking the last remaining jihadist stronghold.

Nikki Haley Confirms US Will Now Attack Syria for “Any Attack” on Idlib

Nikki Haley confirmed on Fox News that the US may attack Syria in response to any type of military operation in Idlib.

US aims to ‘artificially prolong’ bloodshed in Syria by saving terrorists – Russian Foreign Ministry — RT World News

Washington is seeking to obstruct moves towards peace to “artificially prolong” the conflict in Syria by saving Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists from imminent defeat, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has said.

US Attempting to Artificially Prolong Syrian Conflict by Saving Terrorists – Sputnik International

The Russian Foreign Ministry’s statement comes amid reports that the militants in Syria’s Idlib province were preparing for the long-term defence of Idlib and an offensive on Aleppo.

Turkey Amasses Forces in Idlib Ahead of Damascus Offensive – Sputnik International

Turkey has sent convoys of troops to the province, despite its defense minister having said a military operation would drag the enclave toward disaster.

France Suspects Damascus of Possessing Clandestine Chemical Weapons Facilities – Sputnik International

PARIS (Sputnik) – The French Foreign Ministry has doubts about whether Syria has indeed completely destroyed the country’s chemical weapons arsenal, the ministry’s representative said at a briefing on Thursday.

Pentagon Protests After U.S. Jets Intercept Russian Bombers Near Alaska

The Pentagon has issued a protest after U.S. Air Force fighter jets intercepted two Russian bombers in international airspace west of the U.S. state of Alaska.

The Aviationist » NORAD Released A Photo Of A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor Shadowing A Russian Tu-95MS Bear Bomber During Intercept Off Alaska

By David Cenciotti | This time the Bear bombers were escorted by Su-35 jets. On Sept. 11, at approximately 10 PM EDT, two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jets “positively identified and intercepted two Russian Tu-95MS A“Bear-H” bombers west of Alaska. Nothing special then, considered that a similar intercept had occurred on Sept. 1. However, this time the Russian bombers, flying in international airspace but inside the Alaskan ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone) – a special zone, that can extend well beyond a country’s territory where aircraft without authorization may be identified as a threat and treated as an enemy aircraft, leading to an interception and VID (Visual Identification) by fighter aircraft – were accompanied by two Russian Su-35 “Flanker” fighter jets. F-22s are among the aircraft in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) scrambled by NORAD in support of Operation Noble Eagle, launched in the aftermath of 9/11 to prevent a recurrence of Sept. 11, 2001-style air attacks in U.S. and Canada. This is not the first time some Flanker jets operate alongside the Russian bombers on their long range sorties. Indeed, this is what this Author wrote commenting the previous intercept earlier this month: Such close encounters are quite frequent and may also involve fighters, as happened in 2017, when the Bears were escorted by two Su-35S Flanker-E jets, and an A-50 AEW (Airborne Early Warning) aircraft. Anyway, this is the second time that Russian Bears pay a visit to the Alaskan ADIZ: on May 12, 2018, two F-22s were launched to perform a VID and escort two Tu-95 on a similar mission in the Northern Pacific. In fact, in May 2017, a “mini-package” of two Russian nuclear-capable Tu-95MS Bear bombers escorted by two Su-35S Flanker-E jets and supported by an A-50 Mainstay flew inside the Alaskan ADIZ (Air Defense Identification Zone), and was intercepted by two U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors some 50 NM to the south of Chariot, Alaska.

Satellite images: A different view of Russia’s Vostok 2018

You might have been hearing about Vostok 2018 these past few days, and you might have even seen one or two ground-level photos, but have you seen Vostok from space? Take a look.

Russia prepares for new regional conflict? – Defence Blog

There is widespread agreement among defense experts that Russia has begun preparing for the new regional conflict. These days Russia holds the largest military exercise since 1981 on the soil and in the waters of Russia’s Far East and in the neighboring waters of the Pacific Ocean. President Vladimir Putin said that Russia will continue to strengthen its armed forces so that they are able to defend the sovereignty of the country and support allies. He said this while inspecting the troops at the Tsugol firing range, where the Vostok 2018 exercise was held. The head of the military department also noted that Vostok 2018 maneuvers are the largest event of the Russian Armed Forces combat training. It involves about 300,000 servicemen, over 1,000 aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles, 80 ships, and 36,000 tanks and other vehicles. According to General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, at the event troops will enhance field, naval and air training, practice operations in eastern direction and marine and ocean regions of operational importance. “Therefore, we will continue to strengthen our armed forces, equip them with latest weapons and technologies, to develop international military cooperation,” Putin said. Putin called Russia a peace-loving state, which does not and cannot have aggressive plans. “Russia is a peace-loving state. We do not and cannot have aggressive plans,” the head of state said. “Our foreign policy is aimed at constructive cooperation with all countries that are interested in it,” he added. “That’s why 87 observers from 59 countries attend these maneuvers and I welcome all of them,” the president said.

Ukraine’s intel: Russia uses Vostok war games to deploy Uragans [MLRS] closer to Ukrainian border | UNIAN

The Russian Federation uses its largest Vostok 2018 war games to bring Uragan multiple rocket launcher systems closer to the border with Ukraine. They are also transporting new weapons and equipment closer to the border with Ukraine for further transfer to the occupation forces in Donbas. The Russian Federation uses its largest Vostok 2018 war games to bring Uragan multiple rocket launcher systems closer to the border with Ukraine. “Russia’s top brass is increasing the number of troops of the Russian Armed Forces stationed close to the border with Ukraine. In particular, certain military units equipped with military hardware, including artillery units with Uragan multiple rocket launcher systems, have been relocated under the guise of Vostok 2018 maneuvers from the eastern regions of Russia to areas of deployment along the Ukrainian border,” Spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry Dmytro Hutsuliak said. The information was provided by the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, according to an UNIAN correspondent. Russian military field camps have been deployed in the said areas, they are used as the basis to form special detachments to provide covert rotation and strengthen the advanced positions of terrorist units. “Certain detachments of the so-called ‘recruits’ are formed solely from residents of Dagestan and Chechnya. Simultaneously, the so-called [Russian] ‘Cossack detachments’ are being created, some of them have already arrived to join the 1st Army Corps of the occupation forces,” he said. Ukrainian intelligence reports also inform that Russians use the war games to bring new weapons, engineering equipment and other assets closer to the border with Ukraine for further transfer to the units and subdivisions of Russia’s hybrid military forces in occupied Donbas, eastern Ukraine.

Russia’s Vostok War Games Aren’t as Large as Putin Says – The Atlantic

The week-long exercises, which kicked off yesterday, are intended as a show of might. But the country is in no position to wage a real conflict.

Russia may be telling ‘true lies’ about its ‘unprecedented’ war games with China — and it wouldn’t be the first time | Business Insider

This week, Russia kicked off its Vostok-18 military exercises, drills that defence officials claim involve some 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks, 1,000 aircraft, and scores of warships and have touted as “unprecedented in scale.”

Russia may be telling ‘true lies’ about its ‘unprecedented’ war games with China – media | UNIAN

This week, Russia kicked off its Vostok-18 military exercises, drills that defense officials claim involve some 300,000 troops, 36,000 tanks, 1,000 aircraft, and scores of warships and have touted as “unprecedented in scale.” Vostok is a no doubt a major undertaking for Russia’s armed forces – and a major geopolitical development, given the inclusion of Chinese forces for the first time – but there are a number of reasons to believe Moscow is overstating the forces it has mustered.

Russia Holds Massive Military Drill To ‘Project Power In Asia-Pacific Region’

Russia is holding a massive military exercise in the eastern part of the country. Moscow claims as many as 300,000 troops are taking part in military maneuvers known as Vostok-2018.

World news: Putin’s huge war games ramp up tensions | World | News |

Major drills are currently being staged in eastern Siberia close to the border with China and 300,000 Russian troops have been involved in the week-long exercise together with joint exercises alongside Chinese military counterparts. More than a thousand military aircraft, along with 36,000 tanks, have been involve…

Putin attends Russia-China war games | Fox News

President Vladimir Putin on Thursday attended Russia’s biggest-ever war games, which involved some 300,000 troops as well as a significant contingent of Chinese forces.

Russian and Chinese defense ministers inspects command posts at Vostok 2018 – Defence Blog

Russian Defence Minister General of the Army Sergei Shoigu held a meeting with his Chinese counterpart General Wei Fenghe during his visit to the Vostok 2018 maneuvers at the Tsugol training ground. Having held the closed meeting, the defense ministers inspected an auxiliary command post of the Eastern Military District, command post of the 29th Army and command post of the PLA combined formation. Minister of National Defence of China General Wei Fenghe highly appreciated the operation of the Russian command post at the Vostok 2018 maneuvers. Besides, the Russian Defence Minister informed his counterpart about capabilities of the National Centre for State Defence Control of the Russian Federation. According to Sergei Shoigu, the National Centre enables to take decision 24-hours a clock. “We had some operations when Chief of the General Staff and I supervised and control troops from workplaces in the Centre in real time. And this is not a one-time event. Today it is a comprehensive system in the Russian Armed Forces”, he said. General of the Army Sergei Shoigu noted that with the establishment of the National Centre for State Defence Control new command and control capabilities were created.

UAWire – Russia: Joint exercises with China will be held regularly

Beijing sent 3,000 troops to take part in Vostok-2018 (East-2018) military exercises. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu said that Moscow …

Russia warns that massive war games with China are going to be a regular thing as both countries confront the US | Business Insider

Russian Defence Minister Gen. Sergei Shoigu said Wednesday that Russia and China will hold major war games similar to the ongoing Vostok 2018 exercises on a “regular basis.” The Department of Defence said Monday that it is closely watching the ongoing drills – the largest Russian war games in decades.

UAWire – US disallows Russia to use new Tu-214 for Open Skies observation flights

The US government has decided not to allow Russia’s new Tu-214ON reconnaissance aircraft to make observation flights in accordance with the …

HRW Slams Russia’s ‘Strong-Arm Response’ To Peaceful Protesters

Russian police arbitrarily detained hundreds of protesters, including “older people and children,” taking part in September 9 peaceful demonstrations against the government’s plan to raise the re…

Russian Activist Verzilov Hospitalized; Friends Say They Fear Poisoning

Pyotr Verzilov, a member of the Russian dissident art troupe Voina and an unofficial spokesman for the Pussy Riot protest group, is said to be in the hospital in serious condition, and friends say they fear he has been poisoned.

Cockroaches And Mock Executions: Hospitalized Russian Activist Has Long Record Of Audacious Stunts

Dissident activist Pyotr Verzilov, whose friends suspect may have been poisoned, has been involved with a string of high-profile performance-art pieces and protests critical of Russian authorities.

#ZolotovChallenge: Russians Throw Down Gauntlet After National Guard Head’s ‘Duel’ Threat

After Russian National Guard commander Viktor Zolotov challenged opposition politician Aleksei Navalny to a duel in which he pledged to turn the lawyer into “mincemeat,” Russians on social media to…

A Putin crony loses his social media duel with Alexei Navalny

Russian activist Alexei Navalny might be spending a few weeks in prison for holding an unauthorized protest, but he can at least take comfort in the lacking social media acumen of his political opponents.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: In Challenging Navalny to a Duel, Zolotov is ‘a Mirror of Russian Degradation,’ Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, September 12 – Russia has had many kinds of people at the top of its political pyramid, Vladimir Pastukhov says; but rarely has it had some who have risen to the top without a revolution who are “so uncouth” as now in the case of Viktor Zolotov, the commander of Russia’s National Guard who has challenged opposition leader Aleksey Navalny to a duel. “When a powerful favorite, the first gendarme of the Empire, threatens his opponent,” the London-based Russian historian and commentator says, “this is dangerous” because no one has any doubts that he has “unlimited possibilities in a state where law does not operate” ( “But when [this man] proposes to fight his opponent in public so as to reduce him with his own hands to mush, this is already not dangerous but rather funny and sad,” Pastukhov continues. Everyone needs to remember that “what is permitted a military officer is not permitted to a gendarme.” Zolotov, the historian says, is not General Rokhlin. Because there has been much talk of dueling in Russia lately, however, some around Zolotov apparently became convinced that he should issue this challenge. But they didn’t think it through and couldn’t imagine how Russians and Navalny would react to such a challenge and such a threat – and how it would affect their views of the powers that be. When Usmanov made his dismissive comments about Navalny, that was one thing. “Here however is something else – a fatal inadequacy, a lack of correspondence with the times, a falling out of the cultural space. Zolotov’s declaration broke through not so much a political or legal bottom as a cultural one.” Indeed, Pastukhov continues, “it has become an indicator of the completion of the process of the de-civilization of Russia, and therefore it must be considered in the first instance precisely as a cultural and not as a political or legal phenomenon.” Zolotov, the historian says, “is among the group of leaders who are the first to successfully complete this process themselves, at the very least with regard to themselves. He isn’t capable of sensing the border between wildness and culture.” His appeal to the officer’s code of honor only highlights this fact. “In reality,” Pastukhov continues, Zolotov “is guided by an entirely different code, the law of the pack. His reaction is the reaction of a caveman, direct and primitive … It is thus strange that he didn’t propose eating the heart of his enemy at the end of the fight.” That would have been consistent. In Zolotov’s mental world, “physically dealing with opponents directly is normal,” and all the work of humankind to move beyond that over the centuries is something he is not familiar with. In his caveman-like naivete, he is not frightening but funny” – and that carries with it problems for him and for his fellow members of the pack. Frightening are the people who killed Nemtsov, Politkovskaya and Estemirova without any publicity. Frightening too are those who torture defenseless people in jails And frightening are Zolotov’s subordinates who “have ceased to distinguish men from women, children from adults” and suppress everyone at protests. Here we are speaking about something else, Pastukhov says, “about complete cultural disorientation, about the loss of criteria which allow people to make distinctions between between what can be said aloud and what can be remarked about only after the microphone is turned off.” “Zolotov,” Pastukhov argues, “is a distorted mirror of the state of Russian culture today,” a reflection of the fact that “the cult of the fist flourishes and that he who has the biggest fist in the land becomes its chief shaman.” But Zolotov’s actions do have a political meaning: On the one hand, they are causing the Russian people to laugh at their leaders, a development that is always corrosive of the power leaders have. And on the other, they are making Navalny more popular, something Zolotov certainly wouldn’t have wanted to do but now cannot fail to do anything else.

Dr Peter Pry | On wealth, war and peace | TheHill

Remember, always, Tacitus: “Woe to the vanquished.”

Russian digs accused of covering up Stalinist crimes – Channel NewsAsia

SAINT PETERSBURG: In wooded northern Russia, near the Finnish border, archaeological digs by a patriotic historical group are unearthing controversy.

Sandarmokh – Wikipedia


Gulags were ‘compassionate’, ‘educational’ institutions, say trans rights campaigners

Students at a leading London university have been condemned as blind to reality after defending the system of Soviet Gulag labour camps where thousands perished as &ldquo;compassionate&rdquo; places of rehabilitation.

Theresa May rebukes ‘blatant fabrication’ of novichok suspects | News | The Times

The two suspects accused by Britain of carrying out the Salisbury nerve agent attack have appeared on Russian state television claiming that they travelled to Wiltshire to see Stonehenge.The men, who identified themselves as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, denied any involvement in the attack

Russia’s ‘tourists’ denial over Salisbury insults our intelligence, says Theresa May

Theresa May has accused Moscow of &quot;insulting the public’s intelligence&quot; after the two Russian agents suspected carrying out of the Salisbury poisonings claimed they were merely tourists.

No 10 calls Salisbury suspects’ interview ‘blatant lies’ | UK news | The Guardian

Downing Street says pair’s claims they were tourists are ‘insult to public’s intelligence’

The Latest: UK repeats assertion that Russia is lying

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on the nerve agent poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in Britain (all times local):

Russians in UK spy case say they wanted to see cathedral; Britain calls it ‘lies’ | Reuters

Two Russians resembling men Britain accuses of jetting to England to try to murder a former spy said on Thursday that they were innocent tourists who had flown to London for fun and visited the city of Salisbury to see its cathedral.

Jeremy Hunt on Twitter: “The last time Russian military claimed to be on holiday was when they invaded Ukraine in 2014. Time to stop the fake TV shows – the world has found Russia out on this…”

UK foreign secretary compares Salisbury suspects’ interview with tales of Russian “holidaymakers” in Ukraine | UNIAN

UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has compared a recent interview by Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two Russian nationals who were designated as suspects in the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, with tales of Russian “holidaymakers” amid the invasion of Donbas in 2014. The two Russian nationals explained their visit to the United Kingdom on Russian television, saying it was a holiday rather than business trip.

Novichok attack: Not even the Kremlin believes this tale of Salisbury tourists | News | The Times

The two suspected Russian hitmen were at once nervous and cocky, well-rehearsed and comically unbelievable. The same could be said of the Russian state which orchestrated the RT television interview with Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov as part of an attempt to muddy the waters of the Salisbury

Novichok poisonings: I have no reason to believe Salisbury ‘tourists’, admits Russian interviewer | News | The Times

The bizarre account by two suspected Russian hitman of an innocent tourist trip to Salisbury may have been met with predictable derision in Britain but Russian reaction has shown that even Moscow is struggling to find the story credible.Questioned by journalists Maria Zakharova, the Russian foreign

Salisbury pair’s unlikely story only makes UK’s case stronger | UK news | The Guardian

That Russia has responded to UK claims rather than shut up shop shows some nervousness

Body language expert says Russian novichok assassins looked anxious and stressed in interview | Daily Mail Online

Two Russian assassins accused of trying to kill Russian double agent Sergei Skripal by putting deadly nerve agent Novichok on his door-handle were today interviewed on TV. Two Russian assassins accused of trying to kill Russian double agent Sergei Skripal by putting deadly nerve agent Novichok on his door-handle were today interviewed on Russian State TV and said they were only tourists not killers. The two suspected agents, believed to be from Siberia, told Russia Today they were stuck in Salisbury twice in two days after failing to get to Stonehenge because of snow. In the ‘absurd’ interview the men even admitted they may have ended up at Sergei Skripal’s suburban home ‘by accident’ while looking for the cathedral, which has a 400ft spire and is 25 minutes in the other direction. The Russian assassins appeared to be regurgitating a script and intent on fixing their ‘poker faces’, a body language expert told MailOnline today. Petrov was the most controlled and calm while Boshirov shows symptoms stress or anxiety, Judy James said. The expert has watched the RT interview back and this is what she saw:

Ten GLARING flaws that cast huge doubts over poisoning suspects’ claims on Russia TV | Daily Mail Online

Two suspected Kremlin assassins (pictured) were ridiculed yesterday after claiming to have been ordinary tourists desperate to see the Salisbury Cathedral’s magnificent ‘123-metre spire’.

From no snow to Novichok in their hotel room… these are the 9 holes in the Salisbury hitmen’s story that don’t stack up with British intelligence

THE alleged Russian spies wanted over the Novichok attack in Salisbury have given outlandish explanations as to why they visited the UK in March.

Novichok suspects claimed they were visiting Salisbury cathedral – but went TWO miles in wrong direction – Mirror Online

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov have claimed it was a “fantastical coincidence” that they were in the Wiltshire city on the day the Skripals were poisoned

Skripal suspects’ account of Salisbury trip does not add up | UK news | The Guardian

Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov’s tale of their attempt to visit the cathedral and Old Sarum prompts many questions

U.K. Poison Suspects’ Gothic Tale Tests Belief on Russian TV – Bloomberg

Looking anxious and sweaty, the two Russians accused of carrying out the first chemical-weapon attack in Europe since World War II insisted they were just simple tourists eager to see an ancient English cathedral.

The Salisbury suspects’ interview with Russian state television only raises more questions — Meduza

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov — the two Russian men accused by British authorities of releasing a nerve agent in the town of Salisbury — have finally come forward and spoken on camera to the media, granting their first interview to Margarita Simonyan, the chief editor of the Russian state television network RT. In their interview, Petrov and Boshirov claim their visit to Great Britain was a tourist trip, and they say they turned to RT “for protection.” The televised appearance offered the perfect opportunity for the two men to challenge London’s allegations that they work for Russian military intelligence, giving them a global platform to explain their travels as openly and in as much detail as possible. Instead, Petrov and Boshirov presented a version of events so incoherent and ridiculous that there are more questions now than before — both about their role in the Salisbury attack and about RT’s reporting.

Skripal suspects display impressive command of Wikipedia | John Crace | UK news | The Guardian

They were just two ordinary guys who had wanted to see Salisbury cathedral’s 123-metre spire

‘It’s all just an incredible coincidence’: The men identified by Britain as Sergey Skripal’s Novichok-attackers tell Russian state television that they’re innocent. In a nutshell, here’s what they said. — Meduza

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov are our real names. We planned a vacation in London, and went to Salisbury to see the cathedral, Old Sarum, and Stonehenge, but on March 3 there was heavy snowfall, so we couldn’t get around town easily. The next day, we went back to London so we could at least do some sightseeing. Before all this, we had no idea who Sergey Skripal is. We weren’t carrying any Nina Ricci perfume. Why would two decent guys be walking around with women’s perfume? We have a right to privacy. We came to RT for protection, but what we got was an interrogation. We don’t work for military intelligence. We’re ordinary businessmen trying to make it in the fitness industry. The British have been making a lot of claims. At the airport, we always go down one corridor. You’ll have to ask the English why the photos at Gatwick show us with the same timestamp. We don’t know who actually poisoned the Skripals. When they find the people responsible, we would like the English to apologize to us. This whole situation is an incredible coincidence, and we just want to be left in peace.

The Skripals were victims of Russia – but not necessarily of Putin | Alexey Kovalev | Opinion | The Guardian

The Salisbury poisoning suspects’ interview may look funny. But it points to frightening inter-agency power struggles, says Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev

Salisbury poisoning suspects’ ridiculous interview points to frightening developments in Moscow | UNIAN

The Salisbury poisoning case gets stranger by the minute. The two men whom the Crown Prosecution Service fingered as prime suspects in the attempted assassination of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March this year have finally gone public. If it’s indeed Vladimir Putin who authorized the Skripal hit, then he let personal animus take precedence over Russia’s immediate and long-term interests. If Putin didn’t order the operation, this makes the matters even worse, both for Russia and for the world.

World News: We just wanted to visit Britain says Russian poisoners | World | News |

The pair also demanded Britain apologises to them. Their remarks, after the Novichok attack that left one dead and four people fighting for their lives, elicited a furious response from the Prime Minister. Her spokesman said: “The lies and blatant fabrications in this interview given to a Russian states…

Russian Poisoning Suspects Say They’re Sports Nutrition Businessmen, Hope The ‘Real Perpetrators’ Are Caught | Gizmodo Australia

Two Russian men identified by British police as the perpetrators of a nerve agent attack on British soil insist that they’re innocent. They’ve been accused of acting as Russian intelligence agents and attacking a former double agent in Salisbury, but the two men say that they’re just regular businessmen who work…

Novichok attack: We were sports nutritionists on a tourist trip, Salisbury attack suspects tell Russian TV | News | The Times

Claims by two suspected Russian hitmen that they were in Salisbury as tourists were dismissed as “ludicrous” by a Whitehall source yesterday. The men, who identified themselves as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, appeared on Russian state television yesterday to deny involvement in the nerve

RT airs interview with Russians accused in UK poisoning | TheHill

RT, a Russian state-funded television station, on Thursday aired an interview with two men it claimed to be those accused of poisoning an ex-spy and his daughter in England earlier this year,

Suspected Russian assassins say they were just tourists and not in the U.K. to kill anyone – VICE News

“Of course we went there to see Stonehenge, Old Sarum, but we couldn’t do it because there was muddy slush everywhere.”

Salisbury poisoning suspects insists they were tourists [Video]

Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov said they visited the city in Wiltshire to see Stonehenge and Old Sarum.

Watch Russia’s bizarre RT interview to deflect blame for UK spy poisoning – Vox

RT ran an interview with two suspected assassins in the Novichok attack on the Skripals in Salisbury, UK. It was bizarre.

Suspect Indeed: Odd Moments From RT’s Interview With The Novichok ‘Lads’

Two Russians suspected of carrying out poisonings on English soil said they traveled to Salisbury to see its “world famous” cathedral.

Russian Suspects in Poisoning: We Were in UK as Tourists

The two Russian men spun an unlikely tale of hapless tourists defeated by grim British weather.

Accused Russian Hit Men: We Were Just Sightseeing

Two Russian nationals, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, said in an interview they had nothing to do with the Sergei Skripal poisoning.

Suspects In Novichok Poisoning Case Say They Were In Salisbury “As Tourists”

Two Russian men named by Britain as top suspects in the poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter, and two others have appeared on state-sponsored TV to defend themselves. They acknowledged that they visited the town of Salisbury at the time of the nerve agent attack on the Skripals, but said they were there to enjoy the Gothic architecture.

We Were Tourists, Not Assassins, Novichok Attack Suspects Say – The New York Times

Two men accused by Britain in the nerve agent poisoning of a former spy said they were sports nutritionists with a yen for travel, not Russian intelligence officers.

Men claiming to be Salisbury novichok attack suspects speak to Russian state TV – YouTube

Guardian News Published on Sep 13, 2018 Russia’s state-funded television station RT has spoken to men identifying themselves as Ruslan Boshirov and Alexander Petrov, the suspects in the Salisbury nerve agent attack. The pair said they were in Salisbury at the time of the attack as their friends had been, ‘suggesting for a long time that we visit this wonderful town’

Less carrot, more stick: Aggressive policies will have consequences for Russia | UNIAN

Had Vladimir Putin been able to predict the consequences of his hybrid war strategy both against Ukraine and the entire West, he would have thought twice. After all, indeed, he could have foreseen sanctions, economic decline and people’s impoverishment, which led to the need to promote the “revival of the empire” to calm everyone down. But it was really hard to even imagine that his subordinates from his beloved intelligence service would engage in trading off top sensitive secrets about schemes and assets built up over decades. I should recall, it was a Russian intelligence operative who worked under cover at the Russian Embassy in Rome who helped British investigators find out the names of potential suspects in the Skripal poisoning case. The Russian spy, who claims to have been disenchanted by Putin’s policies, provided intel to the Brits in exchange for protection guarantees. This evidences the fact that even such a powerful machine as the FSB, SVR or GRU can also fail. Besides, this results in Russia’s policy facing more and more resistance. The Skripals case is not only about an attempt to poison the two people – it also affects other people who could become random victims of the deadly Novichok The UK seems to be a pioneer in this matter. Of course, a question arises, why is it exactly now that Britain resorts to abolishing the so-called “investment visas” for solid Russian investors? There are several answers to this one. First, Britain finally realized that Russian money could become an instrument that would control the most sensitive sectors of the country’s economy. In addition to real estate, Russians had been acquiring media outlets which allowed them shaping up public opinion. Secondly, the Skripals case is not only about an attempt to poison the two people – it also affects other people who could become random victims of the deadly Novichok. This was precisely the red line that it was no longer possible to shift toward tolerance, understanding or a “business as usual” paradigm. It will be difficult for the UK to prosecute two GRU operatives for poisoning the Skripals because the Russian Constitution does not allow extradition of its nationals to other countries. However, London has in its arsenal financial leverages that could be applied against the so-called Russian investors. Moreover, if British law enforcers manage to detect any tax evasion attempts, such investments could be instantly confiscated, and it does not matter which country they stem from. Unfortunately, this will not stop aggressive Russian policies in various EU countries. The thing is that not all countries are able and/or willing to provide a tough response to the Russian bear. Sometimes, the greater the level of resistance certain Western countries show to Russia’s actions, the greater the rapprochement with the Kremlin in other Western powers. For example, Russians made several brazen steps in Greece (which has long been considered Russia’s satellite) when they funded protest groups opposing an agreement that would have put an end to the country’s long-standing dispute with Macedonia. As a result, the dispute was resolved and Macedonia was invited to NATO, while two Russian diplomats were expelled from Greece. At the same time, for example, Hungary, Italy, and the Czech Republic are countries whose governments are openly voicing their will to seek reconciliation with Russia under any conditions possible. France’s position is also interesting. After all, on the one hand, President Macron criticizes Russia for its aggression and calls for more sanctions. But on the other hand, he speaks of the impossibility of peace in the EU “without Russia.” Germany sets a striking example of economic pragmatics. For Berlin, Nord Stream-2 bears political risks (since Europe is once again becoming dependent on Russian gas, which has long been a tool of political influence), but from an economic perspective, it is a viable project for them. Thus, the EU may talk a lot about mobilization in the fight against Russian aggression, about diversification of gas supplies, or the need to unite and protect themselves against cyberattacks… However, the discord among European elites is obvious. And the split can become even clearer next year when the elections to the European Parliament are set to be held and EU institutions are to be formed. Taras Semeniuk is an analyst with KyivStratPro

U.S. Spies Rush to Protect Defectors After Skripal Poisoning – The New York Times

When a Russian intelligence officer believed to be a hit man entered the United States, he tracked down a fellow Russian who had worked as a C.I.A. informant. F.B.I. agents grew alarmed.

Skripal Novichok poising: RT editor hangs up on Newsnight – BBC News

The journalist who interviewed the suspects in the Novichok attack took offence at Kirsty Wark’s question.

Salisbury poisoning: RT’s interview with suspects raises stakes in UK

Will airing an interview with the Skripal poisoning suspects in the UK cost Russia’s RT its broadcasting license?

Russia is better at propaganda than we are – CNN

At first glance, RT’s interview with the two men accused of poisoning former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, his daughter and two other British citizens almost looks like a joke.

Nikki Haley: Iran Is Absolutely The Spoiler In Syria, They Are Trying To Be A Threat To Israel | Video | RealClearPolitics

Bret Baier’s interview with UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on FOX News Channelâ��s Special Report. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warns against use of chemical weapons in Syria. BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS: Earlier today, I talked global hot spots with Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. I started by asking the Ambassador what’s next with President Trump’s Iran policy, and specifically about allegations that former secretary of state John Kerry and perhaps others are trying to undermine that policy. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Iran is absolutely the spoiler in Syria. We see that they are trying to be a threat to Israel. They are creating proxy wars all over the Middle East. And it’s all the reason why we got out of the Iran deal is because we were funneling a lot of money to let them continue these bad aspects and now we’re saying we cut them off. I think it was August 7th, we put sanctions back on them November 5th. We’re going to hit their oil. We’re going to hit their foreign banks. And so they’re really going to start to feel it. But I think at the end of the day what you’re seeing is nothing is going to fix Iran until Iran fixes itself. BAIER: Have you heard whether John Kerry or others are saying wait this president out on policy? HALEY: They can wait this president out but this president is what saved us with this policy because otherwise, within just a few years they would’ve gotten all this money and it would’ve been lifted anyway. At least President Trump is saying we can’t wait until then. We have to do something about it now. Iran is feeling the pain. They feel weak. And we are suffocating them to the point that they have to address ballistic missiles. They have to address their support on terrorism. BAIER: Is there any chance that if it’s too constrictive that Iran somehow becomes a failed state and that becomes another problem for you all? HALEY: And our focus right now is on the Iranian people. I mean they have protested. They have spoken out. They have said they want a better life. And I think our main focus is obviously on the Iranian regime as well as the IRGC specifically. And I think that they have to make a decision. But at the end of the day, we can’t allow them to have any nuclear programs. BAIER: At the same time in Syria this seems like it’s coming to a head in Idlib. And what is the latest? I mean is there a fear that chemical weapons are going to be used? I mean do you really believe that that’s heading down that road? HALEY: Well, we’ve had three meetings in the Security Council on Syria alone. And one was by all the members of the Security Council trying to ask about what’s going to happen in Idlib because we all heard the rumors of chemical weapons. We saw the actions that have happened before where they claim it’s the White Helmets or they claim that it’s other volunteers that are getting ready to stage some attacks when they actually do it. So the sternest warnings came down from most members of the Security Council telling them that not just chemical weapons would be addressed by the United States and our allies but any offenses on the civilian people in Idlib was going to be dealt with. BAIER: We’ve seen the President take military action before. If another red line is crossed, is that expected. HALEY: Well, what we told — you know, the Syrians, the Russians and the Iranians was, twice we have warned you not to use chemical weapons, twice you have used it, and twice President Trump has acted. Don’t test us again because I think the odds are very much against them. BAIER: Next week is the United Nations General Assembly. The President will deliver a speech. What’s the main message in not only his speech but in the meetings that you’ll have on the side? HALEY: You know, I think he’s actually done a lot on foreign policy but in different ways. If you look at what he’s done with North Korea, I mean it’s really led the international community to isolate North Korea to where they decide — you know, they realize they have a decision to make. He led on the fact that he pulled out of the Iran deal. He’s forcing the entire world to admit the fact that Iran was not behaving properly. He’s led in Syria to make sure that chemical weapons are not being used and he is warned against them being used again. I think if you look in t the western hemisphere which we’ve spent the last two weeks focused on and whether it’s Venezuela or Nicaragua, the messages are being sent that we’re not going to support dictators. We are no longer going to give money to people who are against the U.S. or say “Death to America”, or do anything that would be anti-U.S. We are now going to strategically start to work with our friends and we are no longer going be handouts for those that go against us. Haley trashes the writer of the anonymous NYT op-ed: BAIER: Last thing. You were one of the people who put out statements saying you were not the anonymous op-ed writer, you even wrote an op-ed about that. Do you think that person will be found and if so what happens to him or her? HALEY: I don’t know if we’ll ever know who the anonymous writer is. The reason I felt compelled to respond is I was a governor. I had a cabinet. I had senior officials around me. We were a team and we had to work together. And if one undermines the team, they hurt everybody. And what I can tell you is everything that the anonymous writer wrote, that hasn’t been my experience. I have — I could speak with the President whenever I want. I meet with him. If I have an issue I disagree, we discuss it. He listens; sometimes he changes his mind, sometimes he doesn’t. But I’ll tell you this, my experiences have been respectful. They’ve been good. And this is a president on a mission.

Pentagon questions presence of Russian warships off Syrian coast – CNNPolitics

The Pentagon is monitoring and questioning the presence of over a dozen Russian Navy warships that are currently deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean, within striking distance of Syria.

Russian ships hang around in Syria for possible cruise missile strikes – Business Insider

US defense officials suspect that the Russian navy is hanging around in Syria to launch cruise missile strikes should senior leadership order a strike as…

Russian Navy Probably Lurking Near Syria In Case Putin Orders Missile Strikes

Many ships in the Russian navy are equipped with KALIBR cruise missiles. Meanwhile, the Syrian regime is preparing an offensive against Idlib province.

US warns Moscow over looming attack in Syrian city of Idlib

The Pentagon says Russia will bear responsibility for the resulting humanitarian crisis in Syria if the Moscow-backed Syrian military attacks the northern city of Idlib.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger | We Need a Strategy in Syria – Defense One

‘It’s time to act.’

Jeremy Hunt on Twitter: “If the regime in Syria repeats its horrible use of chemical weapons then our response will be strong and united. Discussed with @SecPompeo this afternoon how we uphold the global ban and avoid an entirely manmade disaster #EyesonIdlib”

Idlib assault: UK ready to bomb Syria if Assad uses chemical weapons | World | The Times

Britain is preparing to join the United States and France in launching waves of airstrikes against Syria if the Assad regime uses chemical weapons in Idlib, where three million civilians are trapped by a looming offensive.The use of chemical weapons on the last remaining rebel stronghold would be

German FM To Warn Lavrov Of Possible ‘Humanitarian Catastrophe’ In Syria

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas says he will warn Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later on September 14 that a major military offensive on the last Syrian rebel stronghold of Idlib Provin…

UAWire – Berlin calls on Moscow to stop attacks on Idlib

Berlin called on Moscow and Tehran to stop the planned attack on the Syrian government troops in the province of Idlib. “Russia and Iran have a …

UAWire – Merkel does not rule out Germany’s participation in the strikes on Syria

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized the statement of her government coalition partner in the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) …

Opinion | A Looming Disaster in Syria – The New York Times

Turkey’s minister of foreign affairs asks the United States to reconsider its alliances in the region.

Turkey works with Russia on Idlib amid lull in air strikes | Reuters

Turkey has said it is working with Russia and Iran to stabilize Syria’s rebel-held Idlib region, indicating continued efforts to avoid a Syrian government offensive in the area, where Ankara failed to secure a ceasefire last week.

Erdoğan to meet Putin in Russia to discuss the situation in Syria’s Idlib – Daily Sabah

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi on Monday to discuss the situation in Syria’s Idlib amid…

Turkey, Russia, Germany, France to meet over Idlib

Officials from Turkey, Russia, France and Germany will meet in Istanbul on Sept. 14 over Syria in a bid to seek political settlement in the war-torn country as an imminent offensive into the last rebel-held enclave of Idlib looms.

Only Turkey-EU together can face Syria crisis: Envoy

It is clear that only together can Turkey and the European Union face very difficult crisis situations stemming from Syria, a senior European diplomat has said, announcing Brussels’ readiness to provide additional financial assistance to Turkey in the case of a massive refugee influx from the Idlib province of the war-torn country.

US should reconsider its alliances in Syria, FM Çavuşoğlu says – Daily Sabah

Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said early Friday that Washington should reconsider its alliances in Syria as the Assad regime prepares to launch a…

Turkey’s FM: US should reconsider its alliances in Syria

Turkey’s Foreign Minister said early Sept. 14 that Washington should reconsider its alliances in Syria as the Assad regime prepares to launch a bloody offensive on northwestern Idlib province.

Any military operation in Idlib will be disastrous – Turkish MoD

Any possible military operation in Syria’s Idlib would be disastrous, Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said as quoted by the Anadolu news agency,

Turkey ramping up forces in Syria’s Idlib as Assad offensive looms – Syria –

Despite the Turkish defense minister saying that a military operation would drag the already problematic region toward disaster, Turkey has sent convoys of troops to the densely populated rebel enclave

Syria war: Turkey ‘reinforces military posts in Idlib’ – BBC News

Syrian activists see military convoys moving towards observation points inside the rebel stronghold.

Turkey deploys reinforcements to Syrian border | Syria News | Al Jazeera

Troops and tanks amassing along the border with Syria in anticipation of a major offensive and ensuing refugee crisis.

Activists: Turkey beefing up its troops in Syria’s Idlib | Fox News

Turkey sent in military reinforcements Thursday to beef up its positions inside Syria’s last rebel bastion Idlib, activists reported, even as the Turkish defense minister said Ankara is still trying with Russia and Iran to prevent a humanitarian tragedy in the case of a threatened Syrian government offensive.

Exclusive: Turkey boosts arms to Syrian rebels as Idlib attack looms – rebel sources | Reuters

Turkey has stepped up arms supplies to Syrian rebels to help them stave off an expected offensive by the Syrian army and its Russian and Iran-backed allies in the northwest near the Turkish frontier, rebel sources told Reuters.

How Turkey is trying to obstruct Russia and Assad in Idlib

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan can’t stop an imminent Russian-Syrian-Iranian axis offensive against Idlib province, but he is complicating that endeavor in a number of ways.

Any operation in Idlib to lead to ‘disaster’

Turkey’s national defense minister says Syria’s northwestern province ’on brink of new crisis’ – Anadolu Agency

Turkey’s Eastern Allies and Deadlock in Idlib | Ahval

Last week’s Tehran summit meeting between the presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey was the last chance to find a diplomatic solution to stave off a likely Syrian government offensive on the rebel-held province of Idlib, where three million civilians trapped . But instead, it highlighted the complexity of regional power politics after the end of a bi-polar world order. In the Middle East in particular, the Cold War balance of power has been replaced with multi-polar chaos. The region has suffered civil wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, leading to massive civilian displacement, and subsequent degrees of anarchy, where neither a regional power, nor an external actor is in full control. The Tehran summit was symbolic of the search for alternatives to the U.S.-led disorder in Middle East politics since 9/11. As a member of the NATO, Turkey’s position has until recently been predominantly pro-Western. The summit demonstrated Ankara’s shift eastwards towards Russia and Iran.

38,500 flee hostilities in Syria’s Idlib in two weeks: UN

Violence in northwest Syria has displaced more than 38,500 people in less than two weeks amid increasing hostilities and a looming regime assault on the opposition-held Idlib province, the United Nations said on Sept. 13.

U.N. shares locations of Idlib hospitals and schools, hoping to protect them | Reuters

U.N. officials have notified Russia, Turkey and the United States of the GPS coordinates of 235 schools, hospitals and other civilian sites in the Syrian province of Idlib, in the hope the move will help protect them from being attacked.

UN: Syria faces ‘unprecedented’ levels of internal displacement | Syria News | Al Jazeera

Aid workers warn camps in northwestern Syria are unable to take in more displaced people as offensive looms.

Christina Lin | After Syria’s partition, will Xinjiang be destabilized? | Asia Times

The US policy of permanently balkanizing Syria appears to be a foregone conclusion, even as the Syrian Arab Army and Russian forces proceed with their last major counter-terrorism operation in Idlib. According to Wolfgang Mühlberger, senior fellow for EU-Mideast relations at the Finnish Institute for International Affairs, “Idlib is the very Arab Kandahar with potentially more than 100,000 experienced, battle-hardened Sunni jihadi fighters hiding between the civilians.”

Spotlight: Rebels in Syria’s Idlib may have one more chance to surrender ahead of military operation – Xinhua |

DAMASCUS, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) — As the Syrian army and allied forces have been preparing for one last battle against the rebels in Idlib province in northwestern Syria, the ultra-radical rebels seem to have one more chance to surrender. Over the past couple of months, the Syrian government forces have urged the rebels in Idlib province to lay down their weapons and agree to a reconciliation deal with the government. Some rebel groups seem to have been okay with the offer, but not the ultra-radical ones of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front and like-minded groups. The government officials in Syria have repeatedly said that the reconciliation is a priority in Idlib, or else there will be a wide-scale offensive to retake Idlib, which is the last major rebel stronghold in Syria.

Here’s How to Save the U.S.-Turkey Alliance | The National Interest

It is worth the effort.

The Kremlin has weaponised doubt in Syria – and Labour is helping

Labour is parroting Putin and Assad’s propaganda over war crimes in Syria.

State Department warns John Kerry against undermining Trump’s Iran policy

Former Secretary of State John Kerry should not try to undermine President Trump’s Iran strategy through his own outreach to the regime, a senior State Department official warned Thursday.

John Kerry slammed for ‘shameful’ shadow diplomacy after admitting to meetings with Iran | Fox News

Former Secretary of State John Kerry is being slammed for conducting shadow diplomacy with Iran after admitting to multiple meetings with Iranian officials behind the backs of the Trump administration — including over the scrapped nuclear deal.

Oil production at risk as violent protests rock Iraq’s Basra province 

Thousands of Iraqis have been taking to the streets over the last week, torching government buildings and political party offices in a show of anger against abject living conditions, government corruption and foreign influence. As home to most of the oil production facilities for OPEC’s second-largest producer, Basra in crisis could have a material impact on oil output and prices.

Oil Production Is at Record Levels. So Why Are Oil Prices Heading Higher? – Foreign Policy

The short answer: Looming shortfalls from Venezuela and Iran.