The US and Russia Put out Identical Disinformation for Opposite Goals in Syria
The screaming headlines in the Western media accusing Russians of devastating Aleppo have some truth. The Syrians, Iranians and Hizballah are empowered to thrust into the rebel-held eastern districts thanks only to Russian and Syrian air bombardments which are ravaging, one by one, the buildings in which the rebels were still holding out and much of the embattled city as well
At the same time, Moscow proposes opening a corridor out of the embattled city for 100,000 Aleppans including armed rebel forces to retreat into the northern region now held by the Turkish army.
Washington, in contrast, is demanding “humanitarian corridors” opened to allow food, water and medicines to reach the tens of thousands of people pinned down by the offensive in atrocious conditions.
The two powers are playing conflicting end-games in the contest over Aleppo.
The Americans want to keep the Syrian rebels in situ in eastern Aleppo and so rob Syrian ruler Bashar Assad of total victory and his recovery of the town, whereas the Russians want them out of the way of Assad’s victory march into the city. And if they don’t remove themselves voluntarily, they face being driven out as the buildings in which they are barricaded are flattened and any survivors are starved to death.
The two powers are also accompanying this appalling contest over Aleppo’s body by campaigns of disinformation in which both astonishingly use the same fabricated tools.
According to DEBKA Weekly’s military and intelligence sources, both, out of different motives, are conniving to depict a fictitious scenario of large-scale Russian military force standing by to go in at a signal from Vladimir Putin.
On Sept. 30, both US and Russian sources alike reported a build-up of Russian air strength in Syria substantially ramped up by the deployment to Syria of Su-24 and Su-35 bombers. Russian media added that SU-25 ground attack fighters had also been put on standby at home bases ready to set out for Syria when ordered.
But this report skewed the real picture:
Instead of a buildup, the Russians, from early September, downsized their air fleet in Syria from a total of 120 planes to 50. Although Assad launched his battle for Aleppo on Sept. 12 with Russian air support, another 30 warplanes were sent back to Russia in the second half of last month, leaving only 25 SU-24 and SU-34 bombers for the air operations over Aleppo.
The next piece of information or misinformation came from American sources: US intelligence claimed to have detected advanced surface-to-air SA-23 Gladiator anti-ballistic missile batteries being shipped from Russia to the Syrian port of Tartus. This weapon (NATO-named SA-12b Giant) has never been deployed outside Russia.
But DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources report that there is no sign of those high-powered missiles turning up in Syria to date.
So what is the point of this trail of false information laid by the two rival powers? The Obama administration appears to be magnifying the Russian build-up to horrifying proportions to evade military steps for putting a stop to the human catastrophe playing out in Aleppo, while the Kremlin is clearly not averse to some artificial muscle-flexing and saber rattling for ratcheting up Moscow’s dominant role in Syria.