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A deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa (bbc.co.uk)
108 points by throwaway8184 on Nov 14, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 96 comments

People are still in denial of the double game US government is playing in Syria. The same way one couldn't deny that US government trained and supplied Talibans with stinger rockets. The very same people that now US condemn as terrorist and fight with. The Talibans were the good freedom fighters when they fought with Russia now they are the bad once what is this?

"It also seems like you're willfully ignoring the history about the US allying with the Taliban during the Soviet invasion." Nope you are ignoring the fact that US is applying military force to keep the pro-western government in Afghanistan otherwise it will be long time gone. Isn't that an invasion?

The US strategy seems pretty simple. A free, democratic or perhaps autocratic pro-western government. It also seems like you're willfully ignoring the history about the US allying with the Taliban during the Soviet invasion.

No Iranian and no Russian influence. ISIS and others may seem as a temporary thing that will go away after a few bombings but keeping Russia out of ME and Iran contained is very important. Israel wants the same, coincidentally ;)

What they really want is having no semblance of a state that might have interests conflicting with those of a few friends, namely Israel and Saudi Arabia. Anything else, including pure chaos, terrorism, misery and starvation seems to be a perfectly acceptable alternative.

> The same way one couldn't deny

Taliban were formed after Soviets pulled out so maybe one could deny that. But why research your history when one could repeat contrarian narratives.

Basically, either you let ISIS escape, or you completely flatten the city to get rid of them. I mean considering the way Raqqa looks now, I'm not sure it was effective in preventing much destruction, but if you have an opportunity to save a large city, you try to.

So intercept the convoy and fight them honorably, or whatever you believe is the better alternative. I hope you are not suggesting that they should just be getting a free pass because they brought their wives and kids in tow. At the very least track them and pick them out whenever the opportunity arises. It's not like the U.S. does not have any intelligence capabilities in the region.

I'll tell you what I believe: The U.S. has been in collusion with Saudi Arabia and their ISIS henchmen from the beginning, trying to use them as a tool to force a regime change in Syria and Iraq. This is why ISIS has been treated with kids gloves for the duration of the campaign, first in Iraq and later in Syria. It was shown that the supposedly intense bombing campaigns were mysteriously ineffective for years, both the British and the American ones, ISIS again and again happened upon stashes of cash and weapons, etc. etc. Too many weird coincidences to mention.

This will not be a difficult theory to consider for anyone with knowledge of history and the American modus operandi in foreign policy. But somehow you're a crackpot to challenge the official story. The mainstream media has been shown to selectively present news to support the official line, and occasionally lie, but people reel at the thought that there is another very different side to the story they get told. Government sponsored covert propaganda campaigns are exposed every other week, but people still buy the 'grassroots' reports from Twitter et al. It's sad but unforunately it may just be human nature to tend towards believing authority.

1) I'd rather lean towards Hanlon's razor 2) Obama was actually quite mindful of int'l law and seriously restricted aerial strikes 3) Once Trump came to power, the military has been allowed carte blanche, and they basically wiped Mosul and Raqqa to take ISIS.

As for your first paragraph, the point is that if you double-cross the enemy on a deal on made with them, then they won't make any more deals with you, and the U.S. needs leverage in Syria more than anyone else. So it's likely that the U.S. said, "you get out of Raqqa, we'll let you get to Albukamal or [whatever other place], and after that you're fair game again." Otherwise why would these jihadists have taken the bargain? They knew they would be a sitting target without assurances of safety until a destination.

Conspiracies are an easy, lazy and usually wrong way to explain a lot of things but that doesn't mean conspiracies don't exist, in fact most foreign policy is hidden and clouded by disinformation, not least in the Middle East.

Obama actually stated that the United States refrained from fighting ISIS because it would have helped (then) Iraqi prime minister al-Maliki (who no longer served U.S. interests and hence was pushed out).

While I agree with you on the real motives and goal of the US (even if I believe they're mixed and confused, and not as clear cut as you present them), I still find unacceptable the talk of total annihilation, not to mention the actual killing of thousands of people, women and children included. Yes, even if they're armed, the aim should be victory, not massacre.

Seconded. This sounds like a reasonable deal that probably prevented a lot of civilian deaths of people who could have been caught in the crossfire.

But the potential price is more suicide attacks in the streets of Paris or London. Not a concern of the SDF of course (and who could blame them?), but what outcome is more desirable from a western point of view is less obvious to me.

You really think murdering women and children will lead to less suicide attacks in the future?

That kind of short-sighted inhumane idiocy is exactly what keeps fueling the whole mess!

Come on, that's a strawman - you know that. It's not like there was a briefing with two options: mass murder, or let the bad guys retreat: pick one. Nor are the causes of "the whole mess" that trivially pinpointable.

Continued fighting would have killed thousands of more civilians, while France and Great Britain have had under a thousand terrorism related deaths since 1970. How isn't this obvious?

Because we value our own citizens higher than the lives of terrorists?

The vast majority of people killed in Syria were not terrorists.

Civilians aren't terrorists, though your own citizens might be.

There will always be a potential price to pay as long a single person lives that we define as enemy or define us as enemy. This is the classical reason why nations create final solutions to a conflict. Its a choice between a bad outcome and a really bad outcome, and I doubt neither is currently desired by a western point of view.

Then maybe the west should actually check who crosses their borders instead of just waving anyone through if they come from a boat

And increase their intelligence resources and not be afraid to act on radical preachers

What makes you think the West doesn't check who crosses the borders? What do you think the dozens of thousands of people stuck in detaining centers all over Greece and Italy are waiting for?

You do realize that e.g. the US spends approximately as much on the DHS (which is primarily borders+immigration stuff) as on the FBI, CIA, NSA, DEA and FBP (federal prisons) combined? And that's the US, which through history and geography has had the luck of relatively trivial borders?

Border control is a huge focus! It's also an almost impossible task, which is not something people want to hear.

It'd be easier to claim western countries spend too much on controlling their borders simply because all that cash doesn't seem to have had the desired effect, judging by popular opinion.

How is that even remotely reasonable. You got a convoy full of terrorists leaving for safety and/or Europe. It could have been easily bombed to destruction without touching anything else. Easiest and most valuable target of the whole war. And don`t even try to answer with something like "but it was a deal, we had to stand by it". They are a bunch of psychopath terrorists, period. You don`t make deals with them unless it is temporary to screw them later.

Perhaps you're forgetting.. there were coalition war planes guiding them to safety. Which means SDF won't be able to tinker with the arrangements even if they wanted to.

Those coalition planes should be bombing them and not guiding them to safety lol

I don`t get this thread. Majority of people think that this was totally ok. I guess until next 9/11, or London, or Paris or whatever happen (hope not) and then it is again ok to bomb the country half randomly and drone strike wherever the current administration wants.

The question is whether it's acceptable to kill a bunch of innocents now (certainly the children, probably many of the women and possibly even some men) to avoid an hypothetical attack in the future. If this was just about ISIS fighters, I'd agree with you, but that's not what the report described.

Considering women innocents (I'm assuming you mean non-combatants) is pretty absurd, IMHO. As in: they're certainly aware of what they're involved in; and their participation contributes significantly to the problem, and to the degree that they're forced to stay: that probably goes for most of those present: desertion isn't something any army takes lightly.

And although the children cannot be at fault, I doubt they'll be either innocent or harmless after that childhood. To be clear, I'm not suggesting mass execution is therefore justified - but this bad situation is going to cause more bad situations in the future.

Joining an army and then being prevented from deserting is one thing, but how many of these women have had no choice in the matter since the start? Hell, how many have been outright kidnapped? Seems absurd to assume every adult there is necessarily an accomplice.

I don't get this thread either. Why the bloodlust?

Isn't it better for 100 guilty people to walk free than for 1 innocent person to be harmed? If not, when did that stop being the case?

I agree in general. But if NATO is already there and dropping bombs, this would be the least of their crimes. You can`t go to war and expect to be all butterflies and fairies.

And btw, I am against NATO interventions all around the world. My own country was bombed by NATO (Yugoslavia), I know how it is having bombs drop on your city for months where they killed thousands of civilians in the middle of Europe. But if you pretend that you want to destroy ISIS, this was the clearest target of the whole war in Syria.

And I don`t buy it that women are by default innocent. Especially this kind of woman with this background. Yes, probably some were, but more probably many also did crimes. There were armed women who were doing bad things mentioned in the same article.

I mean, I am all against any war. Against foreign interventions all over the world where they politics see fit. But I am also sick of seeing the same interventionists killing civilians time and time again and then letting this convoy pass by the excuse that there were some innocent people there maybe. They don`t stand by their logic, that's all. Anyhow, they could have organized any other type of attack using heavy ground machinery and air support when they located (by the mentioned drones) parts of the group (after the convoy split) that is 100% (or let`s say 99%) terrorist that would mitigate civilian casualties. But whatever. Not that I have high hopes for NATO doing the right thing.

I think people are more concerned about future harm these guys will cause than punishing past behavior. If out of this 100 guys 5 end up doing some suicide attacks, killing 10 people each, yeah it does rationally makes sense to go for the preventing strikes (all made up numbers).

It's the old debate between utilitarianism vs deontology.

On the flip side if these people had been murdered in cold blood and that act was used as the casus belli for 5 suicide bombers killing 10 people each it would make rational sense to let them go.

Only if those 5 suicide bombers would not have otherwise committed a similar act - it's not clear to me how the stated aim or allegiance behind such acts is related. Is that a cause? An effect? Something more complicated?

But yeah: nitpicking aside: your point is valid, as is the implied suggestion that if you follow that line of reasoning you can bend the outcome to whatever you want.

This would largely depend on whether any of the guilty are likely to harm others again when freed, wouldn't it?

History would suggest the human race says "no, it isn't"

very true, civilian loss hasn't really stopped the bombs failing since forever

Granted some of them are but attacking as you suggest would be a war crime.

And if your allies make a deal you have to stick by it even if you don't like it

I imagine that they don’t all leave at the same time? So if you blow up the first convoy, the second convoy isn’t going to leave, they will stay and fight, and then you’re back to square one.

How about arrest and question them?

You'll have to fight and most likely kill them in the process. Not to mention they are using human shields

I cannot fathom the depth of your idiocy to even consider this as a feasible possibility.

This was an agreement between local tribes and the Syrian Democratic Forces to limit the already immense destruction of Raqqa and protect civilians that were held as human shields.

If the Syrian Democratic Forces and the US to just say "No survivors!" and release the MOAB they would likely have a very hard time gaining the trust of the local tribes and communities in the future.

"This was a local solution to local issue. Coalition did not fully agree, but respected our partners decision." - https://twitter.com/OIRSpox/status/930166228727066626

Is it a local issue if those who were let go (with weapons and ammunition) immediately take up their weapons in a different part of the region?

I cannot find any specific date on this article.

I wonder if it is the same convoy. http://www.bestgore.com/murder/video-isis-convoy-safe-evacua...

I would say no since the article says:

    No flags or banners would be allowed to be flown from the convoy as it left the city, the deal stipulated
Otherwise, this kind of escape date from june 13, 2017.

Edit: The article says "But when he and his fellow drivers assembled their convoy early on 12 October"

This is an old video from Deir Al-Zoor and it says in Arabic 'Caliphate army mobilizing to assist Deir Al-zoor'. Not from Raqqa. Citing Al-Masdar propaganda website should be enough to know how credible is this.

I'm not very knowledgeable about all of this.

But looking at the map, it seems like Deir Al-zoor is more or less where they said the convoy went. (Sections of convoy later spotted here)

Saying "mobilizing to assist Deir Al-zoor" sounds better (on a IS point of view) than "evacuating Raqqah".

Did anyone even read that article? You have to scroll a lot to get a tiny fragment of text, so I gave up.

It must be depressing to be a BBC writer and then see your hard work shredded into tiny chunks.

I was listening to this on NPR and saw that they also allowed them to take 10 trucks of weapons with them...I mean...couldn't they have just targeted those trucks once the convoy left? I don't get it.

It was so nice of United States to make sure none of ISIS fighters were harmed. It is just unbelievable. They make deals with terrorists.

The only people who don't make deals with terrorists are in the movies. All the world's governments make deals with terrorists.

Is it totally fine for lets say Mexican government to make a deal with terrorists on american territory and let them go?

I never understood how any armed muslim automatically becomes a "terrorist" in the eyes of the world. Most ISIS fighters aren't terrorists.

I never understood how some people consider "terror" to only be acts of terrorism in Western countries, thus reaching the conclusion that local fighters are somehow not terrorists.

If you want to use a narrow definition of terrorism, such as "participating in purposeful killing of civilians to cause terror and further your political goals", 100% of ISIS fighters are guilty. Dozens die or are hurt daily by a huge number of mines, booby traps, suicide bombs and attacks explicitly targeting civilians in Syria, Iraq, and across the world. This happens inside and outside of ISIS controlled territory.

Civilians are in no way collateral damage for ISIS, they are direct targets of genocide, sexual slavery and simply random mass murders.

Using that "narrow" definition most countries around the world, including the US, have engaged or are engaging in terrorism, thus making the lot of them terrorist groups?

Bombings of cities during war time, indiscriminately killing civilians, sometimes as a show of power to pressure the opposing side to surrender, wouldn't make the whole military a terrorist group.

North Korea's treatment of their citizens doesn't make the whole country, or their military, or their police, a terrorist group.

At times countries like the US have killed more civilians in a single day than ISIS killed in the past 6 years[1][2]. Do I consider them terrorist? No.

In the war in Syria, the Assad regime killed more civilians than ISIS by an order of magnitude[2]. Do I consider them terrorist? No.

All three countries would be considered terrorist by your definition.

I don't buy it. Just because of terrorist acts by a few, the whole group doesn't become a group of terrorists.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_bombings_of_Hiroshima_a...

[2]: http://vdc-sy.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/June-report-Eng...

>most countries around the world, including the US, have engaged or are engaging in terrorism

1. You are saying that at least 98 counties in the world are killing civilians to pursuit its political aims. That's bold assertion. Can you elaborate?

2. Hillary Clinton, a former United States presidential candidate, asked to send a drone to kill Julian Assange [0]. Do you consider this terrorism? I do.

3. The use of nuclear weapon in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a war crime and i hope some day the guilty will be punished. Otherwise, expect North Korea to land a nuke on US territories without any consequences(for North Korea).

[0] https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/782906224937410562?lang...

Edit: actually i just found what it is, it is called State Terrorism https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_terrorism and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_and_state_terror...

I agree it can be considered terrorism, what I explicitly disagree with is then claiming that for this reason the US and other countries should be considered a terrorist group, rather than a country.

Same reason ISIS shouldn't be regarded as a terrorist group, since their actual modus operandi is better described as a militant group and proto-state.

Also to reply to your nitpicking on 1: I didn't specify a timeframe, so yes. If I had to I could go back in history for a few thousand years for most countries until I found something that fit my parent comment's definition of terrorism. There will be scant few who will come away clean under such scrutiny, which is also why I rejected that definition for being useless.

But since only tens of countries are currently completely at peace, I may not even have to go very far back.

> Most ISIS fighters aren't terrorists.

What are they then, freedom fighters?

They're a militant group, and they claim to be a state, though they are unrecognized.

I don't even understand how the label "terrorist" applies to the lot of them.

It's like everyone has forgotten what the term terrorist means. We might as well change the dictionary definition to "armed muslim" now.

Burning people alive, attacking civilian targets to cause fear and panic and lack of trust in the civilian authorities - that's exactly what classic terrorism is.

What's wrong with 'militants'?


I haven't heard this claim before but here's more solid stuff:

- How the US disbanding the Iraqi Army created the environment for ISIS to form. http://time.com/3900753/isis-iraq-syria-army-united-states-m...

- The US is always giving arms and training to "moderate" groups throughout the middle east. It's so frequent that without a doubt, I can predict that some of those groups were later acquired by ISIS or had members trained by the US desert for ISIS. This kind of thing happens so frequently that the main conclusion you can draw, along with the rest of the contextual evidence that is too lengthy to go into detail here relating to drone strikes, the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, etc is that the US just does not give a fuck about supporting or creating more terror groups in the name of dominating strategic geopolitical territories.

For such a "well-known fact", I haven't heard of it. (I suppose it could be true in the sense that some nonzero number of ISIS members were formerly part of local militaries.)

Where did you hear it, Mr. Throwaway-account created just 9 minutes ago?

>Where did you hear it, Mr. Throwaway-account created just 9 minutes ago?

Seeing so many downvotes for an honest opinion seems like it was wise desicion.

Those were not just opinions, those were also unsupported factual claims.

Only sources on this I can find is that in a way the US created ISIS by bombing a whole lot of civilians in the region and thus fueling an uprising. Nothing concrete regarding the SAS or Special Forces training them.

Obama "created" ISIS http://www.nationalreview.com/article/386354/how-obama-cause... (first link I found by googling, there are more)

to be fair to him every administration funds extremist rebels to get rid of dictators they don't like, a stable enemy is worse for the usa than an unstable one.

the fundamentalist interpretation of the quran is abused by the west, they know they can get better motivated rebels by funding the crazies, when the next dictator has stopped singing from the hymn sheet the situation has calmed enough for that regime to no longer be the crazies and they can find more in some backwater.

Not exactly, but instead along these lines: The US civil administrator of Iraq fired 400 000 Army men, majority sunni. Now, you have 400 000 families with no food on the table.


Cue 15 years of chaos and strife, and the ISIS has fertile ground to sow their seeds of hatred in. A significant fraction of these disgruntled 400 000 army men apparently decided to lend their services to ISIS.


to voiceless down voters - of course your standpoint is that doing the above was of no consequence, or maybe even helped delay the creation of ISIS? So absurd...


Se child comment.

When I was in Iraq we tried to give them jobs doing construction, food preparation, auto repair, ECT. But they all proved to be untrustworthy, taking the money and not doing their jobs or worse sabotage due to extreme idealization. It reminded me of the people of Detroit. That is why we disbanded them they could not be trusted to be organized holding guns at a moments notice they would switch sides and shoot at you.

I think the downvotes come from the perceived motte-and-bailey argument. Your point that disbanding the US army is likely to have decisively contributed to the creation of ISIS is good, but it's a far cry from the claim that the US literally airlifted ISIS commanders, so in this context it's not appropriate.

Point taken

Making the IS took more than US just disbanding the Iraqi army.

Their first issue came with US instating the government that was incompetent, arrogant, and corrupt at the same time.

Even if the original Iraqi militants had no recruits from the army, the would have still a source of credibility to latch on - the hated new Iraqi government

If USA did bother to do just a dime more work on Iraqi welfare than was needed to prevent food riots, and spent more money on Iraq than the initial reconstruction funds, no militant group would simply be there.

I see people will write something like "but US gave N gazillions to Iraqi government for reconstruction." Yes, they gave their N gazillions that were mostly spent by Iraqi officials on buying Cognac and property in UAE

I always wanted to know who made the idiotic decision to disband the ENTIRE Iraqi army. Was it from the white house or someone in Iraq like P. Beemer?

A lot of the ills of Iraq after Saddam fell was due to disbanding of the army. Imho.

”On May 23, 2003, Bremer issued Order Number 2, in effect dissolving the entire former Iraqi army[40] and putting 400,000 former Iraqi soldiers out of work.”

As for who made him do it, I don’t know. But as you said, it was idiotic. And that’s worse than evil. Dietrich Bonhoeffer would agree with me.

I'm not sure it was a bad move.

Leaving the army and power structures in place would have created conditions for a civil war that could have spilled over the entire region. Leaving the defeated minority population to continue ruling over the south and kurds would have been a blood bath.

Disbanding created isis but not disbanding would have been worse. We'll never know how worse things could have gotten.

> a civil war that could have spilled over the entire region.

How would you describe what actually happened?

So, worst case, pay the soldiers to do nothing while vacuuming the market for guns and destroy them.

Can you please give sources, how do you know that they are instructed by SAS ? This is very common theory with no backing that I know.

this video can give you few hints. i have struggled to find it, seems like rt videos are penalized.


here is text version


Seems just lazy propaganda. There are multiple videos of ISIS forces using Humvees captured from the Iraqi army[1], so the idea that Humvees = US is silly.

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/syriancivilwar/comments/27vlvw/comp...

Obviously you didn't watch the video, since when ISIL fighters use Caugar Armored Vehicles? Even Iraqi army didnt have these.

since when ISIL fighters use Caugar Armored Vehicles? Even Iraqi army didnt have these.

No, but he Iraqi army has plenty of Badger Armored Vehicles which is based on the Cougar and visually quite similar.

ISIL fighters are using Badger Armored Vehicles that is new, any source for your theory?

I didn't say that. I said the Iraqi Army has plenty of Badgers and it's easy to mistake a Badger for Cougar.

Let's not pretend that RT is any more trustworthy than infowars.

The source of news was Russian department of defence. So it's official.

If you weren't the person who posted the link to RT in the first place I would have laughed at your witty sarcasm.

Even if you didn't put this comment i would laugh so much at your sarcasm

If ever I thought a reply came from a paid Russian troll, this was it.

(your retort does not make sense and does not seem like it was made by a fluent English speaker)

So CNN is more trustworthy news channel?

[citation needed]

No government is your friend, don't be outraged, consider them as lowest of the scum that rule by power and fear, that is it. Life makes more sense then.

Sources please

I'm tired of reading this crap again and again.

First, IS is always recruiting and trying to turn people to their sides.

Secondly, it's impossible to know the ideology of every armed group, as there are many nuances, and that's what makes this war complex, you don't know who to root for.

Third, when a secular group like the FSA is losing battles, IS is getting hands on weapons and military gear, so stop saying that the west is arming terrorists. They captured those guns who were given to good enough guys.

Fourth, this conflict is ongoing, is very messy and disorganized (involved: russia, the US, european countries, irak, IS, the kurds, assad, the FSA, other groups financed by who knows, Iran? saudi arabia?), and it's not a secret that intel agencies will do whatever they can to calm things down, but it's not easy because they use secrecy as they should.

So you don't bring proof, and you don't bring any solution to the problem either. You just sow distrust and confusion which makes everything worse. Stop with those conspiracy theories.

Not sure how much of a secret this really was. One of these convoys got stuck in the Syrian desert on its way to Iraq and was widely reported on.

That's a different convoy, from Lebanon and it's in southern Syria.

> US jet flew very low and deployed flares to light up the area. IS fighters shat their pants.


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