Tony Greenstein | 09 June 2015 | Post Views:

Robert Fisk
is the best Middle East correspondent by far. 
He lives in Lebanon and writes for The Independent.  He was one of the few journalists not to be ‘embedded’
with US security forces in Iraq.
butchered by Isis
Here he is
reporting from a town near to Palymyra where the Saudi sponsored IS (or Daesh)
murdered 400 people with their butcher’s knives.  Until the people of Syria and Iraq are able
to remove this group in totality then there will be no liberation anywhere in
the Arab East.
Palmyra’s Roman ruins are a target for IS
It is not
surprising that as far as Israel is concerned IS are the good guys and the
focus should be on the ‘Shi’ite Crescent’.
The savagery of IS – but Israel is happy to deal with the group
Global Research reported that 
initially had maintained that it was treating only civilians. However, reports
claimed that earlier last month members of Israel’s Druze minority protested
the hospitalisation of wounded Syrian fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked
al-Nusra Front in Israel.
A statement issued by a group of Druze activists accused
the Israeli government of supporting radical Sunni factions such as the Islamic
State (ISIS).

Replying to a question by i24News on whether Israel has given medical assistance to
members of al-Nusra and Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (ISIS),
a Israeli military spokesman’s office said: “In the past two years the Israel
Defence Forces have been engaged in humanitarian, life-saving aid to wounded
Syrians, irrespective of their identity.”

The demolition of other priceless treasurers – the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia do likewise
The UN report also laid out instances where in Israeli
army was seen interacting with armed rebels. In one incident, the report
claimed that the IDF gave some boxes to the Syrian armed rebels.’
The Israeli Military themselves admit that they have
taken in and treated hundreds of wounded Syrians.  Given that 
most civilians have cleared out of the area they can only be IS or
al-Nusra fighters.

Israel claims this is a humanitarian endeavour.  One wonders whether Israel would offer the
same facilities to Hamas fighters, including repatriating them back to Gaza!

On October 31 2014 in Ha’aretz

West making big mistake in fighting ISIS, says senior Israeli officer

‘A senior Northern Command officer said Thursday that the
Western coalition is making a big mistake in fighting against ISIS.

Israel’s new found friends
coalition forces’ attacks against the Islamic State support the “radical Shi’ite
axis,” the unnamed officer said. “A strange situation has been
created in which the United States, Canada and France are on the same side as Hezbollah, Iran and
Assad. That doesn’t make sense,” he said.

In Hayan, an oil and gas town  (above) Robert Fisk hears from some of the few that escaped IS jihadis.
was easier to deal with terrorism in its early stages [ISIS] than to face
an Iranian threat and the Hezbollah, he said. “I believe the West
intervened too early and not necessarily in the right direction.’

From the evidence gathered
so far by the UN and Israeli Druze (one of whom was arrested) it is clear that
there is a de-facto alliance between IS and Israel.  See 

Israel Secretly Arrests Golani Druze, Accusing Him of Exposing Rebel-IDF Collaboration 

We’ve heard about the threat to the monuments – but what
about the human tragedy?
By Robert Fisk
June 07, 2015 
When the black-cowled gunmen of the
‘Islamic State’ infiltrated the suburbs of Palmyra on 20 May, half of Assad
Sulieman’s oil and gas processing plant crews – 50 men in all – were manning
their 12-hour shift at the Hayan oil field 28 miles away. They were the lucky
ones. Their 50 off-duty colleagues were sleeping at their homes next to the
ancient Roman city. Twenty-five of them would soon be dead, among up to 400
civilians – including women and children – who would die in the coming hours at
the hands of the Islamist militia which every Syrian now calls by its
self-styled acronym ‘Daesh’.
Oil engineer ‘Ahmed’ – he chose this name to protect his
family in Palmyra – was, by chance, completing a course at Damascus University
on the fatal day when Palmyra fell. “I was appalled,” he said. “I tried calling
my family. It was still possible to get through on the phone. They said ‘Daesh’
(also known as Isis) wasn’t allowing anyone to leave their home. My brother
later went onto the street. He took pictures of bodies. They had been
decapitated, all men.

Destruction of the Jezaa gas and oil processing plant
“He managed to send the photographs out to me from [the
Isis-controlled city of] Raqqa on the internet which is the only communications
working there.”
Some of the photographs are too terrible to publish.
They show heads lying several feet from torsos, blood running in streams across
a city street. In one, a body lies on a roadway while two men cycle past on a
bicycle. So soon after the capture of Palmyra were the men slaughtered that
shop-fronts can still be seen in the photographs, painted in the two stars and
colours of the red-white-and-black flag of the Syrian government.
“The Daesh forced the people to leave the bodies in the
streets for three days,” Ahmed continued. “They were not allowed to pick up the
bodies or bury them without permission. The corpses were all over the city. My
family said the Daesh came to our house, two foreign men – one appeared to be
an Afghan, the other from Tunisia or Morocco because he had a very heavy accent
– and then they left. They killed three female nurses. One was killed in her
home, another in her uncle’s house, a third on the street. Perhaps it was
because they helped the army [as nurses]. Some said they were beheaded but my
brother said they were shot in the head.”
In the panic to flee Palmyra, others perished when their
cars drove over explosives planted on the roads by the Islamist gunmen. One was
a retired Syrian general from the al-Daas family whose 40-year old pharmacist
wife and 12-year old son were killed with him when their car’s wheels touched
the explosives. Later reports spoke of executions in the old Roman theatre amid
the Palmyra ruins.
The director of the Hayan gas and oil processing plant,
Assad Sulieman, shook his head in near-disbelief as he recounted how word
reached him of the execution of his off-duty staff. Some were, he believes,
imprisoned in the gas fields which had fallen into the hands of the ‘Islamic
State’. Others were merely taken from their homes and murdered because they
were government employees. For months prior to the fall of Palmyra, he had
received a series of terrifying phone calls from the Islamists, one of them
when gunmen were besieging a neighbouring gas plant.
He said: “They came on my own phone, here in my office,
and said: ‘We are coming for you.’ I said to them: ‘I will be waiting’. The
army drove them off but my staff also received these phone calls here and they
were very frightened. The army protected three of our fields then and drove
them off.” Since the fall of Palmyra, the threatening phone calls have
continued, even though ‘Daesh’ have cut all mobile and landlines in their
newly-occupied city.
Another young engineer at Hayan was in Palmyra when the
‘Islamic State’ arrived. So fearful was he when he spoke that he even refused
to volunteer a name for himself. “I had gone back to Palmyra two days before
and everything seemed alright,” he said. “When my family told me they had
arrived, I stayed at home and so did my mother and brother and sisters and we
did not go out. Everyone knew that when these men come, things are not good.
The electricity stopped for two days and then the gunmen restored it.  We
had plenty of food – we were a well-off family. We stayed there a week, we had
to sort out our affairs and they never searched our home.”
The man’s evidence proved the almost haphazard nature of
Isis rule. A week after the occupation, the family made its way out of the
house – the women in full Islamic covering – and caught a bus to the occupied
city of Raqqa and from there to Damascus. “They looked at my ID but didn’t ask
my job,” the man said. “The bus trip was normal. No-one stopped us leaving.”
Like Ahmed, the young oil worker was a Sunni Muslim – the same religion as
‘Daesh’s’ followers – but he had no doubts about the nature of Palmyra’s
occupiers. “When they arrive anywhere”, he said, “there is no more life”.
Syria’s own oil and gas lifeline now stretches across a
hundred miles of desert from Homs in the midlands to the strategic oil fields
across the broiling desert outside Palmyra. It took two hours to reach a point
28 miles from Palmyra; the last Syrian troops are stationed eight miles closer
to the city.
To the west lies the great Syrian air base of Tiyas –
codenamed ‘T-4’ after the old fourth pumping station of the Iraqi-Palestine oil
pipeline – where I saw grey-painted twin-tailed Mig fighter bombers taking off
into the dusk and settling back onto the runways. A canopy of radar dishes and
concrete bunkers protect the base and Syrian troops can be seen inside a series
of earthen fortresses on each side of the main road to Palmyra, defending their
redoubts with heavy machine guns, long-range artillery and missiles.
Syrian troops patrol the highway every few minutes on
pick-up trucks – and make no secret of their precautions. They pointed out the
site of an improvised explosive device found a few hours earlier – more than 30
miles west of Palmyra. Further down the road was the wreckage of truck bombs
which had been hit by Syrian rocket-fire. Assad Sulieman, the gas plant
director, declares that his father named him after President Bashar al-Asasad’s
father Hafez. He described how Islamist rebels had totally destroyed one gas
plant close to Hayan last year, and how his crews had totally restored it to
production within months by using cannibalized equipment from other facilities.
His plant’s production capacity has been restored to three million cubic metres
of gas per day for the country’s power stations and six thousand barrels of oil
for the Homs refinery.
But the man who understands military risks is General
Fouad – like everyone else in the area of Palmyra, he prefers to use only his
first name – a professional officer whose greatest victory over the rebels on a
nearby mountain range came at the moment his soldier-son was killed in battle
in Homs. He makes no secret of “the big shock” he felt when Palmyra fell. He
thinks that the soldiers had been fighting for a long time in defence of the
city and did not expect the mass attack. Other military men – not the general –
say that the ‘Islamic State’ advanced on a 50-mile front, overwhelming the army
at the time.
“They will get no further,” General Fouad said. “We
fought them off when they attacked three fields last year. Our soldiers stormed
some of their local headquarters on the Shaer mountain. We found documents
about our production facilities, we found religious books of Takfiri ideas. And
we found lingerie.” 
What on earth, I asked, would the Islamic State be doing
with lingerie? The general was not smiling. “We think that maybe they kept
captured Yazidi women with them, the ones who were kidnapped in Iraq. When our
soldiers reached their headquarters, we saw some of their senior men running
away with some women.”
But the general, like almost every other Syrian officer
I met on this visit to the desert – and every other civilian – had a thought on
his mind. If the Americans were so keen to destroy Isis, did they not know from
satellites that thousands of gunmen were massing to strike at Palmyra.
Certainly they did not tell the Syrians of this? And they did not bomb them,
either – though there must have been targets aplenty for the US air force in
the days before the Palmyra attack, even if Washington does not like the Assad
regime. A question, then, that still has to be answered.

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Tony Greenstein

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