US Pretends Arms Cutoff to anti-Assad Syrian Rebels to Placate Moscow

For the sake of cooperation with Moscow in Syria, the Trump administration went through the motions of ordering the US military in Jordan and southern Syria to start holding back the arms supplied to the moderate Syrian rebel groups, which Washington had armed and trained for four years. This followed the cutoff of CIA funding.
The keystone of the US-Russian partnership in Syria is the establishment of jointly-sponsored ceasefire, or de-escalation, zones, for winding down the Syrian war.
The fourth zone and a ceasefire were announced Thursday, Aug. 3. Russia's Defense Ministry and Syria's opposition have agreed to create a new "de-escalation" zone north of the city of Homs, the ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said. It would affect more than 147,000 people.
Three zones are already in operation on Syria’s Jordanian, Israeli and Iraqi borders. However, Washington secretly accompanied the cutoff of arms to Syrian rebels by opening a back door to quietly keep them partially equipped.
The groups most affected are ranged against the Syrian Army and Hizballah in the Daraa and Qunetra sectors opposite the Jordanian and Israeli borders. Their chiefs complained that the US-Russian ceasefire in those two sectors was declared all of a sudden without prior warning. They only discovered what was happening when American and Jordanian officers turned up at their command centers and demanded their signature on commitments to give up their war on Bashar Assad’s army and turn their guns instead against the Islamic State.
The rebel chiefs were also required to submit plans of operations against the jihadists, together with lists of their requirements in weapons and ammunition.
DEBKA Weekly’s military sources name two: One is the Al-Umari Brigade, named for the Omar Mosque of Daraa. This group had been receiving TOW anti-Tank rockets from the Americans and Jordanians to fight both the Syrian army and the ISIS branch known as the Khalid bin al-Walid, which was entrenched in the Syrian-Israeli-Jordanian border triangle opposite the Israeli Golan.
That militia refused to lay down arms against the Assad regime.
Another refusal came from the Al Quraytayn Martyrs Brigade, the biggest rebel militia in southern Syria, which had fought alongside US special forces when they established the Al-Tanf garrison in the Syrian-Iraqi-Jordanian triangle.
This group published a notice declaring they would no longer obey the Americans and would continue to fight the Syrian army and its allies. By allies, they meant the pro-Iranian Shiite militias from Afghanistan and Hizballah which have swarmed into southern Syria, before and since the de-escalation arrangement..
As yet unknown is the fate of the Syrian rebel groups still in training at American special training bases in Jordan.
But these and other pro-American militias were not completely starved of arms supplies. Washington has meanwhile bypassed its own decree by opening up a secret source of arms for its Syrian allies from CENTCOM.
Moscow does not share all its plans for Syria any more than Washington. (A separate article outlines those plans.)
At the same time, both the US and Russia strive to keep their military give-and-take in the Syrian arena afloat The de-escalation zones in the south are going full steam ahead, irrespective of the friction spreading between Washington and Moscow in other areas – namely, a new round of US sanctions against Russia, US Vice President Mike Pence’s tour of Baltic capitals to assure these NATO allies of US backing against Russian expansion, and Vladimir Putin’s expulsion of 755 American diplomats.
They also continue regardless of Israel’s objections.
On Sunday, July 30, Israel’s security cabinet held a special session on the situation evolving in southern Syria. The ministers were called upon to decide whether Israel should continue backing the Syrian rebel groups it sponsors on the Syrian side of its Golan border, or follow Washington’s example and cut off support for the groups refusing to halt combat against the Syrian army and its helpers.
DEBKA Weekly’s sources say that this dilemma boils down to the tricky question of whether Israel should stick to its opposition to the de-escalation zones marked out by Washington and Moscow. If so, then the government in Jerusalem may have to show muscle by establishing a security zone under its control in southern Syria, even at the price of challenging the Americans and Russians and their joint plans.
Jumping ahead of Israel, Moscow on Monday, July 31, pushed 400 Russian special ops troops into Quneitra planting them directly in front of the Golan defense line.

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