Syria
SUWAYDA

Assad regime faces Druze resistance in Syria’s south

The Assad regime is facing a challenge to its authority in southern Syria, with Druze groups in Suwayda province seizing control of the headquarters of a pro-regime militia. The Druze Men of Dignity overran the local headquarters of the Dawn Forces, affiliated with regime military intelligence, in the town of Ateel. At least 21 were reported killed n the clash—17 Dawn militiamen and four Druze, including a sheikh. Druze groups accuse the Dawn Forces of kidnappings and assassinations throughout the province. Tensions escalated in the days leading up to the Ateel clash, when Dawn militiamen abducted a local man, accusing him of involvement in attempts on the life of their leader Raji Falhout. The rival militias blocked roads to each others’ strongholds, and both sides took hostages. Four regime officers, including two colonels, were reportedly seized by the Men of Dignity. (Photo: EA Worldview)

North America
blackhammer

FBI raids Russian-backed Black Nationalists?

A federal indictment names three “US Political Groups” as cultivated for propaganda purposes by Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov of the Anti-Globalization Movement of Russia (AGMR), which is said to operate “in conjunction with” the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB, successor agency to the KGB). Ionov faces criminal charges, although he remains at large in Russia. The three groups are the Uhuru Movement, whose Florida offices were raided by the FBI, the Atlanta-based Black Hammer Party, and proponents of the “CalExit” plan for California secession. The first two are Black nationalist groups, and all three have adopted leftist rhetoric. However, AGMR has also cultivated overtly white supremacist and neo-Confederate groups—revealing an evident Moscow design to enflame social strife in the United States. (Photo of Black Hammer protest at Meta offices in San Francisco: YouTube via AJC)

Syria
drone

Turkey escalates drone strikes on Rojava

A Turkish drone strike targeted three members of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) who were driving in a vehicle near the northeast Syrian town of Qamishli. All three women were killed, and several passers-by injured by shrapnel. The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR) said that it was the second drone strike on territory of the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration in North & East Syria (AANES) in the past 48 hours. The YPJ is the women’s wing of the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the territorial defense force of the autonomous zone, in the region known to the Kurds as Rojava. Turkey has carried out repeated drone strikes within AANES territory this year, amid apparent preparations for a new military incursion into the autonomous zone. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Europe
CNT

Podcast: the Spanish Revolution revisited

In Episode 132 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg expounds on the legacy of anarchist heroism in the Spanish Civil War and Spanish Revolution, which both began on July 19, 1936. Interestingly, that same date also marks the victory of the Nicaraguan Revolution in 1979 and the Rojava Revolution in Syria in 2012. There was an anarchist element to all these revolutions—but it was strongest by far in Spain. The betrayal of the Spanish anarchists holds lessons for these later struggles, as a counter-revolutionary dictatorship is established in Nicaragua, and the Kurdish revolutionaries of Rojava face growing contradictions in the context of Syria’s ongoing civil war. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image: LibCom.org)

Syria
syria

Assad regime pulls out of Syria constitution talks

The Assad regime pulled out of UN-brokered talks on Syria’s constitution, with the ninth round scheduled to open in Geneva. The regime used the pretext that Switzerland is no longer neutral because it supported European Union sanctions against Russia over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. A UN spokesperson responded: “We reaffirm the neutrality of Switzerland as a venue…. Discussions on Syria need to be kept…separate and apart from discussions on other topics.” Simultaneously, Syria broke diplomatic ties with Ukraine, in response to Kyiv breaking ties with Damascus over the Assad regime’s recognition of the “independence and sovereignty” of the Russia-backed breakaway enclaves of Luhansk and Donetsk. (Photo: Giovanni Diffidenti/UNICEF via UN News)

Europe
Ukraine

North Korea recognizes Donetsk and Luhansk ‘republics’

North Korea’s government recognized two breakaway states claiming independence from internationally-recognized Ukrainian territory. North Korea is the third country to recognize the Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics,” after Russia and Syria. Two days before Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Moscow recognized the “republics,” and moved troops to the regions. Since Russia’s invasion, North Korea has defended Russia and has blamed the crisis on “the hegemonic policy of the US.” Ukraine cut diplomatic ties with North Korea immediately after the recognition. (Map: PCL)

Syria
syria refugees

Syria aid access resolution expires amid UN standoff

A Security Council resolution that allowed the UN to deliver humanitarian aid across Turkey’s border into northwest Syria without President Bashar al-Assad’s permission expired  as diplomats failed to come to a deal in the face of a Russian veto. Russia, which has long opposed the cross-border aid operation as an affront to Syrian sovereignty, used its veto to stop a one-year renewal. Its own proposal for turning aid deliveries over to the Assad regime after six months was voted down by the US, UK, and France. The Assad regime is accused of denying aid to besieged rebel-held enclaves. Aid workers in the region are warning of imminent “famine” in northern Syria in the wake of the resolution expiration, which coincided with the Eid al-Adha holiday. (Photo: UNICEF via UN News)

Syria
Aleppo ruins

UN: more than 300,000 civilians dead in Syria war

More than 306,000 civilian were killed in Syria between March 2011 and March 2021, according to new estimates released by the United Nations Human Rights Council. According to the latest findings, civilians represent an overwhelming majority of the estimated 350,209 total deaths identified since the start of the civil conflict. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet emphasized that this “does not include the many, many more civilians who died due to the loss of access to healthcare, to food, to clean water and other essential human rights, which remain to be assessed.” This is compounded by estimates from the World Bank that more than half the country’s pre-war population has been displaced. (Photo of Aleppo ruins from UNHCR)

Iraq
Rojava

Podcast: Rojava and Ezidikhan in the Great Game

In Episode 127 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that the Kurdish-controlled Syrian city of Kobani, which became a global icon of resistance to ISIS in 2014, is now under threat of Turkish aggression. The Syrian Kurds were betrayed in 2019, when their autonomous zone of Rojava was greatly reduced by Turkey’s first thrust into their territory. Erdogan is now threatening to extinguish it altogether, and incorporate all of Rojava into his “security zone.” There is growing speculation that the US could “green light” this aggression in exchange for Turkey dropping its objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. Meanwhile, the Yazidis of northern Iraq, who were subjected to genocide at the hands of ISIS in 2014, now face extermination of their hard-won autonomous zone of Ezidikhan at the hands of Baghdad’s military—acting under pressure from Turkey. Great Power meddling in Syrian and Iraqi Kurdistan alike is pitting the peoples of the region against each other, portending a disastrous Arab-Kurdish ethnic war. How can activists in the West help break this trajectory? Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Rojava Solidarity NYC)

Syria
Syria oil map

Erdogan preparing new Syria incursion?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip ErdoÄźan is ramping up threats to invade more areas of northern Syria, saying that he plans to “clean up [the Kurdish towns of] Tal Rifat and Manbij of terrorists,” and establish a greater “security zone” in Syrian territory along Turkey’s border. Much of this region is controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which Turkey considers to be a “terrorist organization” because of its ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)—a Turkey-based Kurdish separatist organization. It’s not clear if ErdoÄźan will go ahead with a new incursion now, but some wonder if the US, which has backed the SDF, may be willing to turn a blind eye to such an offensive if Turkey backs off its objections to Sweden and Finland joining NATO. (Map: Energy Consulting Group)

North Africa
libya

Russian mercenaries accused in Libya atrocities

A report to the Security Council by a panel of UN human rights experts finds that foreign fighters and private military companies are responsible for grave abuses in Libya—especially naming Russia’s Wagner Group. The report was classified “confidential,” but a copy was leaked to the Associated Press. It finds that both Turkish-backed militias loyal to the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNA) and the Wagner Group, apparently contracted by eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, have employed mercenaries who were veterans of the war in Syria. GNA-aligned militias are implicated in abuses of migrants, who have been “regularly subjected to acts of slavery, rape and torture.” The Wager Group is accused of planting unmarked anti-personnel mines on the southern periphery of Tripoli, when the city was besieged by Haftar’s forces from April 2019 to October 2020. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Syria
Kobane

Syria: Turkish drones target Kobani

Two drone strikes targeted the Kurdish city of Kobani in northern Syria, after weeks of intermittent shelling of villages in the surrounding countryside. The attacks are apparently being launched from the area of Jarabulus immediately to the west, which is held by Turkish occupation forces and allied militias. According to the Rojava Information Center (RIC), some 35 drone attacks on the Kobani area have already “killed at least 13 people & injured 34 in 2022 alone.” Kobani became iconic in 2014, when the city’s Kurdish defenders waged a heroic resistance against ISIS. But since the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish autonomous zone, known as Rojava, in late 2019, the city has been a precarious enclave of remnant Kurdish control, in an uneasy alliance with Assad regime forces. (Photo: Kurdistan24)