By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 25.11.2017, www.thecommunists.net
Once again, the counterrevolutionary ISIS/Daesh forces have launched an attack against the liberated areas in northeast Hama. (1) Once more, they do so in undisguised collaboration with the army of the murderous Assad regime. (2)
This surprise attack allowed ISIS/Daesh to conquer more than 15 villages (incl. Talhan, Ateeq, Tahtouh, Abu Al-Kassor, Abu Hareq, Maasran, Alia). Furthermore, while the pocket controlled by Daesh is located in-between the territories controlled by the rebel forces and the Assadist forces, it is characteristic that while there are heavy clashed between Daesh and the rebel forces, no clashes between Daesh and the regime’s forces in this area have been reported until now! (See Map 1 below)
Once again, the ISIS/Daesh forces, who had no stronghold in this region in the weeks before, emerged out of the blue. The only explanation for this is that ISIS/Daesh forces advanced unscathed through areas controlled by Assadist forces, i.e. they obviously did so in consultation with the regime. Rebel forces already accused the regime that it made a deal to evacuate ISIS fighters from Deir Ezzor in eastern Syria to eastern Hama in order to fight the liberation forces there. (3) (See Map 2 below)
The Deal between the Assad Regime and Daesh/ISIS
As we reported in the past, this is not the first time that such a collaboration of Assad and Daesh takes place in order to smash the remaining liberated areas. It is noteworthy that meanwhile even the most hardened supporters of Assad and Putin have to admit that the regime has made such deals with ISIS/Daesh. For example, the fanatical pro-Assad/Putin intelligence website South Front had to confess that the Syrian regime made a deal with ISIS/Daesh in late September to move their fighters through its territory to the liberated areas in Idlib.
“On Thursday, an agreement was reached between the Syrian government and ISIS fighters besieged in the eastern Hama pocket. The agreement will allow ISIS members to withdraw to Idlib governorate according to the Syrian Radio station Sham FM. On Wednesday, the Syrian government allowed 1,500 civilians and ISIS family members to withdraw to an area controlled by Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) in Idlib governorate.” (4)
The Assadist supporters justified such collaboration with the following shallow claim: “ISIS fighters could choose Idlib because they had excellent relationships with HTS fighters there as they both worked in weapons and oil trafficking, according to opposition sources.”
This, of course, was a cynical and brazen lie as everyone could see: when the ISIS/Daesh fighters entered Idlib with the help of Assad’s army, they immediately encountered heavy resistance from the liberation forces – in particular from Hayyat Tahir al-Sham (HTS). After bloody battles for weeks, the liberation forces finally succeeded to defeat the counterrevolutionary ISIS/Daesh forces.
Furthermore, why did the Assadists, who always claim to be the most fanatical enemies of Daesh/ISIS not finish them off? Tellingly, the regime did not even claim that it got something from Daesh/ISIS in exchange for their evacuation – in opposite for example to the deal between Hezbollah and Daesh in late August. The later deal “stipulated the withdrawal of 300 Daesh fighters from Lebanon’s eastern barrens to the Iraqi-Syrian border, in exchange for the release of Hezbollah prisoners, and revealing the fate of Lebanese soldiers taken hostage by the terrorist group.” (5)
But the deal between the regime and Daesh in late September did not involve such an exchange. The Daesh forces were trapped and exhausted in a small pocket encircled by Assad’s army. It would have been no problem for them to finish them off. But the regime and their Russian backers have different interests. This deal was purely driven by the Assad regime’s calculation to use these terrorists against the remaining forces defending the Syrian Revolution.
Let us draw attention, en passant, to the fact that the US/YPG coalition recently made a similar cynical deal with Daesh/ISIS in mid-October. When they had encircled the last pockets of Daesh fighters in Raqqa (in the local stadium and the central hospital) where they could have easily finished them off, they “suddenly” allowed 4,000 Daesh fighters and their families to evacuate out of the city! (6)
Resistance of the Liberation Forces
This time again the liberation forces – mostly the petty-bourgeois nationalist Islamist HTS as well as various petty-bourgeois nationalist FSA factions – are fighting hard to stop the advance of Daesh. According to some reports they have managed, for now, to repel an ISIS attempt to capture Mustariah as well as the Al-Shiha village. (7)
At the same time, the Syrian regime with massive support of foreign militias and the Russian Air Force, is seeking to advance towards the strategic Abu Duhour military airport in the southern countryside of Aleppo. Added to this is the threat of the Turkish army and their FSA mercenaries which started invading Idlib in the North. (8)
In short, the Syrian Revolution continues to be under heavy attack by the reactionary regime as well as the counterrevolutionary ISIS/Daesh forces. This demonstrates once more how ridiculous the claims by Assad and Putin and their numerous supporters amongst the Stalinist and liberal “left” are that they would fight the “jihadist terrorists”. In fact, they join hands with the “jihadist terrorists” of Daesh in order to defeat the Syrian liberation forces which they bizarrely denounce as “jihadist terrorists”!
As the RCIT has already pointed out in past reports, the collaboration of Daesh and Assad in northeast Hama is not surprising at all. (9) While they certainly are opponents, they have a joint interest in defeating the Syrian Revolution.
The Syrian Revolution Continues despite many Setbacks and Traps
The popular uprising in Syria which started in March 2011 is still continuing despite many setbacks and despite the fact that it is endangered by the treacherous policy of various leadership factions among the rebels. These factions are ready to join the reactionary negotiations charades in Astana, Sochi and Geneva which are all dominated by the imperialist Great Powers as well as regional powers (e.g. Russia, Iran, Turkey, US, Saudi Arabia). As we have repeatedly warned, these negotiations are a trap by the imperialists in order to disarm and liquidate the Syrian Revolution. (10)
The only way forward is to reject all imperialist traps of such fake negotiations and to continue and deepen the revolution by basing it on popular committees and militias. Most importantly, the most advanced workers and youth in Syria need to unite into a revolutionary party based on a program for socialist liberation. (11)
The RCIT continues its support for the liberation struggle of the Syrian workers and peasants despite the extremely difficult situation it faces today. When the Revolution is under attack from all sides – the Assad dictatorship, Russian as well as US imperialism, Daesh/ISIS, the Turkish Erdoğan regime, and finally various FSA mercenaries – it is all the more important to maintain international solidarity with those who have not given up the struggle.
(1) See e.g. Qasioun News: Syrian Regime and ISIS Cooperate East Hama and Control Many Areas from The Syrian Opposition, 24 November 2017, http://qasioun-news.com/en/news/show/112163; Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Renewed clashes northeast of Hama after an advancement attempt by the “Islamic State” organization, 24/11/2017, http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=79344; South Front: ISIS Captures More Villages From Hayat Tahrir al-Sham In Northeastern (Maps), 24.11.2017, https://southfront.org/isis-captures-more-villages-from-hayat-tahrir-al-sham-in-northeastern-maps/
(2) On the RCIT’s assessment of Daesh see e.g. The Revolutionary Struggle against Daesh and the Imperialist Aggression in the Middle East, 28.02.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/resolution-daesh/
(4) South Front: ISIS Fighters To Withdrew From Eastern Hama Pocket Under Deal With Syrian Government Forces, 21.9.2017, https://southfront.org/isis-fighters-withdrew-eastern-hama-pocket-deal-syrian-government-forces/
(5) Diana Moukalled: The deal between Hezbollah and Daesh, 31 August 2017, http://www.arabnews.com/node/1153786
(6) There exist a number of reports about this cynical deal. The most detailed one in English language is a report by BBC journalists: Quentin Sommerville and Riam Dalati: Raqqa’s dirty secret, 13.11.2017, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/raqqas_dirty_secret
(7) See https://disqus.com/home/discussion/freedomfalconofsyriablogspot/freedom_for_syria_page_29_07_june_2017_to_current/#comment-3631436124 and https://disqus.com/home/discussion/freedomfalconofsyriablogspot/freedom_for_syria_page_29_07_june_2017_to_current/#comment-3631437142
(8) See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Syria: The Turkish-Russian Invasion against Idlib has begun! All out to defend the Syrian Revolution against the Astana Conspirators! For an anti-Assad, anti-imperialist and anti-capitulationist united front, 07.10.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/the-turkish-russian-invasion-against-idlib-has-begun/.
(9) See e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Russia’s Air Force supports Daesh against Syrian Liberation Fighters. Another instructive episode how Russian imperialism helps Daesh/ISIS to attack the Liberation Forces in the North of Syria, 23.10.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/russia-s-air-force-supports-daesh-against-syrian-liberation-fighters/; Syria: A Very Instructive Episode. Counterrevolutionary ISIS/Daesh collaborates with Assad’s Army (as well as Erdoğan and Putin) in Attacking the Syrian Liberation Fighters in Idlib, 10.10.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/a-very-instructive-episode-in-syria/
(10) On the RCIT’s assessment of the Astana deal see: Michael Pröbsting: Syrian Revolution: The Moment of Truth is Approaching! Rally to defend the Syrian Revolution against the Imperialist conspiracy called the "Astana Deal"! 20.09.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syria-moment-of-truth-approaching/; RCIT: Syria: Defend Idlib against the Great Powers! Down with the reactionary Astana Deal! Defend the Revolution against the butcher Assad, against Russian and US Imperialism and the local Allies! Victory to the Struggle of the Workers and Oppressed! 04.08.2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/defend-idlib-against-great-powers/; Michael Pröbsting: Syria: The Astana-Deal Struggle Intensifies. Some Notes on Recent Developments in the Syrian Civil War and the Dangers for the Liberation Struggle, 28 July 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/syrian-revolution-28-7-2017/; RCIT: Syria: Condemn the Reactionary Astana Deal! The so-called "De-Escalation Zones" are a First Step towards the Partition of Syria and a Conspiracy by the Great Powers to Defeat the Revolution, 7 May 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/astana-deal/
(11) See on this e.g. Michael Pröbsting: Is the Syrian Revolution at its End? Is Third Camp Abstentionism Justified? An essay on the organs of popular power in the liberated area of Syria, on the character of the different sectors of the Syrian rebels, and on the failure of those leftists who deserted the Syrian Revolution, 5 April 2017, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/syrian-revolution-not-dead/
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For the RCIT’s analysis of the Syrian Revolution, we refer readers to our numerous articles and documents which can be accessed at a special section on our website: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/africa-and-middle-east/collection-of-articles-on-the-syrian-revolution/
Map 1: Advance
of ISIS/Daesh forces in Northeast Hama (as of 24.11.2017)
Green: Liberated Areas under Control of the Rebel Forces
Red: Areas under Control of Assadist Forces
Black: Areas under Control of the ISIS/Daesh
Map 2: Transfer of ISIS/Daesh forces by the Assad Regime from East Syria to Northeast Hama (as of