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Jason Ditz

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Syrian Rebels Fret Over Trump’s Planned Syria Overhaul

President-elect Donald Trump is planning a major overhaul to US policy in Syria, and that’s got the putative “moderate” rebels that have been getting US funds and weapons fretting, as the CIA program responsible for smuggling that gear in is set to be cancelled.

The CIA has been eager to regularly increase the amount of weapons provided to the rebels, and has sought to shift the focus of US policy in Syria toward imposing regime change, and to dial down efforts to go after ISIS. Trump campaigned on the oppose, moving away from the regime change efforts and focusing on fighting ISIS.
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Pentagon Seeks Another $6 Billion for Overseas Troop Deployments

The Pentagon has announced it will file a “budget amendment” seeking another $6 billion in funding for the current fiscal year to pay for additional overseas troop deployments above and beyond what was already in the budget for this year.

The $6 billion request comes as an “urgent” request from the Pentagon, and would pay for additional ground troops in Iraq, the additional troops left in Afghanistan by stalling the drawdown, and to pay for escalated airstrikes around the world.
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Turkey Air Raid Kills 200 Kurdish Fighters in Syria

Turkey has long insisted they view the Kurdish YPG and ISIS as basically the same thing. Overnight incidents around the city of Afrin, however, show that when the two forces are in close proximity, the Turkish military is definitely going after the Kurds.

The Kurdish YPG forces were launching an offensive near Afrin against the ISIS fighters when a flurry of Turkish airstrikes were launched against them, described as the single biggest attack Turkey has launched against Kurds since their invasion back in August. Turkish officials estimated 200 Kurds killed.
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Israeli Intel Chief: We Don’t Want ISIS Defeated in Syria

In a speech at the Herzliya Conference, Israel’s military intelligence chief, Major General Herzi Halevy, took Israel’s long-standing position that it “prefers ISIS” over the Syrian government to a whole ‘nother level, declaring openly that Israel does not want to see ISIS defeated in the war.

Quoted in the Hebrew-language NRG site, linked to Maariv, Maj. Gen. Halevy expressed concern about the recent offensives against ISIS territory, saying that in the last three months the Islamist group was facing the “most difficult” situation since its inception and declaration of a caliphate.
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Susan Rice Assures Israel of ‘Largest Military Aid Package in American History’

While her speech today at the American Jewish Committee Global Forum included some vague criticism of ongoing Israeli settlement expansion, as usual that will have no impact on US policy, as National Security Adviser Susan Rice centered the speech on pledges of a record military aid package being agreed to soon.

The aid package, which Rice reiterated would be the “single largest military assistance package – with any country – in American history,” is expected to be between $37.5 and $40 billion over the next decade, which Rice said proved increasing aid to Israel isn’t a partisan issue in the US, but “an enduring American interest.”
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White House ‘Concerned’ as Russia Moves Equipment to North Syria

White House officials are complaining of being “concerned” by recent media reports of Russia shifting its artillery further north in Syria, with suggestions they were moving to back the Syrian military in renewed offensives against al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

Even though al-Qaeda was deliberately not included in the Syrian ceasefire, the rebels have presented Syrian strikes on them as “violations” of the truce, and the US seems to be siding with them, suggesting the latest moves are “aggression” on the part of the Russians.
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