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Syria Today – Iran Warns U.S.; UK Bill Threatens Refugees

Your daily brief of the English-speaking press on Syria.
Syria Today – Iran Warns U.S.; UK Bill Threatens Refugees

The Syrian government has condemned the “heinous attack launched by the U.S. occupation forces on some areas in Deir-ez-Zor province and affirmed its adherence to ending the U.S. occupation and extending the authority of the Syrian State over all of its territories,” SANA reported.

“Syria condemns the brutal attack launched by US forces against some areas in the Deir-ez-Zor Governorate, which caused several fatalities, injuries and property damage,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates said in a statement.

The Ministry added that the U.S. lies about the targeted sites as a failed attempt to justify this act of aggression, constituting a flagrant violation of Syria’s sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.

According to the Foreign Ministry, these aggressions constitute a continuation of the attacks committed by the Israeli occupation and Daesh terrorists against the residents and cover up the U.S. occupation forces’ continued looting of Syrian oil.

Syria reaffirms its pledge to end the American occupation, extending the authority of the Syrian State over all of its territories and stopping the American sponsorship and support for separatist terrorist militias, The Ministry said.

Iran Warns

In a statement, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said the “terrorist” attacks by the U.S. hit civilian targets and constituted a violation of international law and Syrian sovereignty, according to Al-Jazeera.

“The U.S. claims that it is present in Syria to fight Daesh [ISIS] that itself had a major role in creating is just an excuse to continue its occupation and loot Syria’s national wealth, including its energy resources and wheat,” he said.

Kanani also said Iran only has military advisers on the ground in Syria at the request of its government, rejecting U.S. and Israeli claims that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has a sizeable military presence in Syria.

The U.S. said its raids against what it claimed were facilities affiliated with the IRGC came as a response to a drone attack that killed an American contractor in Syria earlier in the week. A war monitor said 19 people were killed in the U.S. attacks.

After the attacks, U.S. President Joe Biden said the U.S. “does not seek conflict with Iran, but is prepared to act forcefully to protect our people.”

Earlier on Saturday, Keyvan Khosravi, the spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, had threatened an Iranian response if its positions were targeted.

“Any excuses to attack bases that have been established on Syrian soil at the request of the Syrian government to combat terrorism and Daesh agents will be met with a reciprocal response without hesitation,” he was quoted as saying by state-run media.

Iranian-backed Syrian militia claims responsibility

Liwa al-Ghaliboun, a pro-government militia, claimed responsibility for Thursday’s drone attack on a U.S. base near Rmelan, which killed an American contractor and injured at least six others.

The statement, disseminated on Telegram and shared by North Press, claims the operation was conducted for the “brutal and terrorist crimes committed by the American occupation forces.” “Other operations will follow,” it added. The group furthermore called on the US to leave the region, saying, “Americans will not enjoy security in Iraq and outside of it until a complete exit of the American occupation forces from our country.”

Little is known about the group. Aymenn Jawad al-Tamini, a researcher tracking Syrian militias, says Liwa al-Ghaliboun started between 2011 and 2013 but has only had an online presence since 2015. It comprises Syrian Shia or Shia converts from the country’s Alawite community. Many of its members hail from Syria’s coastal area or the Shia stronghold Sayyidah Zaynab, south of Damascus. Recently, it has dropped its entry requirements stipulating that members be part of the Shia religion.

President Biden

President Joe Biden on Saturday notified Congress of his decision to authorize an airstrike in Syria this week against what the U.S. said were Iranian-affiliated facilities.

The strikes, Biden said in his letter to Congress, were made “to protect and defend the safety of our personnel, to degrade and disrupt the ongoing series of attacks against the United States and our partners, and to deter the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iran backed militia groups from conducting or supporting further attacks on United States personnel and facilities.”

The president added that the US strikes “were conducted in a manner intended to establish deterrence, limit the risk of escalation, and avoid civilian casualties.”

House Democrats

Democratic Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi  said on Sunday that the U.S. military will not leave Syria after a string of attacks from  Iran-backed militias on American bases in the country last week left one U.S. contractor dead and five service members wounded, saying, “we’re not going anywhere.”

“We’re not going anywhere; we have to stay in northern Syria and work with our partners in Iraq as well in fighting ISIS,” Krishnamoorthi said in an interview with ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

More than 900 U.S. troops are in Syria, tasked with fighting back any emerging remnants of ISIS. The U.S. said last week that an Iranian-backed group struck an American base in northeast Syria with a drone last Thursday, leaving one contractor dead. The U.S. responded with precision airstrikes on Iranian-backed groups on the same day, at the direction of President Biden.

A rocket attack hit a second U.S. base on Friday, with no casualties reported.

“I think the Biden administration did exactly what it had to do in responding to these Iranian militias,” Krishnamoorthi said.


South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (REP) had a better assessment when he said, “The weak, uncertain response to the initial attack obviously did not work. I fear additional weak and uncertain responses will lead to more American deaths and embolden our enemies.” It’s a reasonable fear.

The wall street Journal criticized the US response to the Iranian aggression.

The discrete reprisal didn’t seem to deter the militias. Hours later, they fired ten rockets at a second U.S. base in eastern Syria. The U.S. says the rockets missed their target, but the lesson is that the militias don’t fear a U.S. response, WSJ reported.

The Pentagon and White House boasted about the U.S. retaliation with the usual pledge to stand ready to do it again “at a time and place of our choosing.” It also offered “thoughts and prayers” for the dead and wounded. But wounded Americans—and those still in harm’s way—deserve better than sympathies and a tit-for-tat exchange that won’t impress anyone.

The big picture here is that Iran and other adversaries are concluding that the U.S. wants out of the Middle East and are willing to spur the exit by inflicting casualties. The U.S. has 900 men and women in Syria and another 2,500 in Iraq. They’re vital in preventing Islamic State rebels from reviving their caliphate in Syria.

Iran wants to run Syria as a protectorate and would love to push the U.S. out of both countries. Its militias would then challenge the Iraqi army for domination in Iraq, and its client government in Damascus would consolidate control and threaten Israel.

If President Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin believe in the U.S. mission in those countries, their first obligation is to protect America’s soldiers and citizens. That means putting fear in the minds of our enemies that if they attack Americans, they will be met with a withering and deadly response.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps soldiers participate in a military drill in the northwestern region of Aras along the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Oct. 18, 2022.

What happened

The United States launched airstrikes against Iranian-linked targets in Syria on Thursday after a U.S. contractor was killed and five U.S. service members and another contractor were wounded when a suicide drone hit a coalition base near Hasakah in the country’s northeast.

The intelligence community believes the drone to have been of Iranian origin, the Defense Department said in a statement.

The U.S. retaliated with airstrikes on Iranian-linked targets in Syria, which hit buildings that housed drone/aviation assets and vehicles used by groups affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). One activist group said the U.S. strikes killed fighters on the ground.

On Friday, rockets targeted the Conoco gas field in northeastern Syria, according to a U.S. official, injuring one American service member, who is in stable condition. Less than an hour later, said the officials, three suicide drones attacked the Green Village, a U.S. installation in the area. Two were shot down and one damaged a building. There were no injuries. Earlier Friday, a 10-rocket attack on Green Village had yielded no casualties or damage, according to U.S. officials.

During a press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Friday, President Joe Biden said, “Make no mistake, the United States does not, does not emphasize, seek conflict with Iran, but be prepared for us to act forcefully to protect our people, that’s exactly what happened last night.”

He extended condolences on the death of the U.S. contractor and wished a “speedy recovery for those who were wounded.”

UNHCR: Illegal Migration Bill ‘extinguishes’ most refugees’ right to seek asylum

The United Nations refugee agency’s representative to the UK has warned that the Government’s Illegal Migration Bill “effectively extinguishes the right to seek asylum in the UK for all but a very few refugees”.

The controversial Bill, aimed at tackling Channel crossings, returns to the House of Commons on Monday for its committee stage, and MPs will scrutinize it over two days.

Vicky Tennant of the UNHCR told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme that the proposed legislation is “in breach of international law” and “the UK’s obligations under the International Refugee Convention.”

But the Home Office said it is “satisfied that this legislation is within the bounds of international law and is compatible with the Refugee Convention.”

Ms. Tennant said: “Well, we’re very concerned that this sets a global precedent. It effectively extinguishes the right, as you’ve said, to seek asylum in the UK for all but a very few refugees.

“We know that those coming across the Channel broadly reflect the nationalities of countries affected by the crisis, by persecution globally.

“So we’re talking about countries like Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Albania, several of these, as I’ve said, countries that are producing high numbers of refugees.”

She added: “We think the focus of attention really needs to be on the asylum system, on asylum processing, getting that working properly, so people can present their claims.

“If they’re not refugees, decisions can be made quickly, they can be returned to their own countries, and if they are refugees, they can embark on that integration journey.

“We think that’s in everyone’s interests, not just the refugees’ interest, but also the interests of the British public.”

The Bill aims to stop people claiming asylum in the UK if they arrive through unauthorized means, but the UNHCR has called it an effective “asylum ban.”

Pressed on what action the UNHCR might take if a country is found to be in breach of international law, she said “there is no sanction as such” but claimed violations have “an impact globally”.

Ms. Tennant added: “You know, we have to remember that the vast majority of refugees are hosted in countries neighbouring their own.

“So more than 69/70% are in countries neighbouring their own.

“Now, if you’re a country like Turkey, hosting more than three million refugees or Bangladesh hosting, you know, just short of a million refugees with all the impact that has on your economy, on your infrastructure on your services.

“And then you look at a country like the UK much further away, much less impacted, many fewer refugees, that sends a really unfortunate signal.

“So we believe that if this goes ahead, if other countries were to follow suit, it really would have a very significant impact on refugee protection globally.”

Quartet meeting of Agriculture Ministers of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria starts in Damascus

Activities of the 4th meeting of Agriculture Ministers of Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria kicked off Sunday at Dama Rose Hotel in Damascus.

The two-day meeting, according to SANA, will discuss outcomes realized during the 4-way meetings held in the past year in Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan, in addition to means of enhancing trade exchange and food security, mechanisms to support regional projects, confronting climate challenges and land degradation, and improve agricultural production in the four countries.

The meetings will also include dialogue sessions, a presentation of the strategies of the agricultural sector and the agricultural calendar of the four countries, and the signing of a memorandum of understanding in the agricultural field, followed by a day visit to research and scientific centers specialized in the agricultural sector.

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