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Sun Dec 10, 2017, 09:01 PM

 

The pundits were wrong about Assad and the Islamic State. As usual, they're not willing to admit it

By Max Abrahms and John Glaser

The Islamic State is a shadow of its former self. In 2014, the extremist group seemed to make substantial inroads in achieving its stated goal of a caliphate. It boasted tens of thousands of fighters and territorial control over an area roughly the size of South Korea. By almost every metric, Islamic State has collapsed in its Syria stronghold, as well as in Iraq. As a former foreign fighter recently admitted, “It’s over: there is no more Daesh left,” using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

The rollback of Islamic State must come as a shock to the chorus of journalists and analysts who spent years insisting that such progress would never happen without toppling the regime of Bashar Assad — which is, of course, still standing. A cavalcade of opinion makers long averred that Islamic State would thrive in Syria so long as Assad ruled because the Syrian Arab Army was part of the same disease.

John Bolton, former United Nations ambassador under George W. Bush, insisted in the New York Times that “defeating the Islamic State” is “neither feasible nor desirable” if Assad remains in power. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham asserted that “defeating Islamic State also requires defeating Bashar Assad.” Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution prescribed a policy of “building a new Syrian opposition army capable of defeating both President Bashar al-Assad and the more militant Islamists.” Similarly, Max Boot, a contributing writer to this newspaper, argued that vanquishing Islamic State was futile unless the U.S. also moved to depose the “Alawite regime in Damascus.” Like other regime-change salesmen, he pitched a no-fly zone across the country to facilitate airstrikes against the Assad government, while boosting aid to the so-called moderate rebels.

Prominent Syria analysts also claimed that Assad supported, even sponsored Islamic State. CNN’s Michael Weiss pushed the line that Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin would not fight Islamic State and that Syria and Russia were the group’s “unacknowledged air force.” His co-author, Hassan Hassan, contended that the Syrian regime must go because “Assad has never fought [Islamic State] before.”

For a while, everywhere one looked, the media was peddling the same narrative. The Daily Beast described Islamic State fighters as “Assad’s henchmen.” The New York Times promoted the idea that “Assad’s forces” have been “aiding” Islamic State by “not only avoiding” the group “but actively seeking to bolster their position.” Time parroted the pro-regime-change line that “Bashar Assad won't fight” Islamic State.

But these popular arguments were, to put it mildly, empirically challenged.

snip.......

The notion that Assad “won’t fight” Islamic State was always wrong. The notion that “defeating Islamic State also requires defeating Bashar Assad” was, likewise, always wrong. By now it should be obvious that the Syrian Arab Army has played a role in degrading Islamic State in Syria — not alone, of course, but with Russian and Iranian partners, not to mention the impressive U.S.-led coalition. In marked contrast to pundit expectations, the group’s demise was inversely related to Assad’s power. Islamic State’s fortunes decreased as his influence in the country increased.

Equally contrary to analyst predictions, the group imploded right after external support for the “moderate” rebels dried up. The weakening of the rebels was a major setback for Islamic State because Assad could finally focus his firepower on the group. Fewer weapon shipments into the theater, moreover, meant fewer arms fell into the hands of Salafi jihadists.

Continue reading at http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-abrahms-glaser-isis-assad-20171210-story,amp.html

Fantastic article that I could bold just about every single word in it. The only problem I have with the article is that it failed to make a connection and/or comparison with the disaster that is Libya and also the fact that it believes that the US led coalition ever fought ISIS in Syria. ISIS grew its territory while the US were dominating the skies in Syria and this only reversed once the Russians joined the fight. They took Raqqa, most of eastern Syria while the US sponsored mercenaries were busy distracting the Syrian Arab army(SAA). They only "fought" ISIS in Syria even if you can call it that when it dawned on them that the Syrian army were going to defeat ISIS so they decided to just swapped the oil rich region from ISIS to their new merc force aka Syrian democratic forces. And did I mention the fact that that US coalition let the Raqqa ISIS contingent escape into the desert? yea those guys whose goals were the same as ISIS were fighting ISIS in Syria :rollseyes:

The sad part is that 99% of the so called anti war and otherwise progressive politicians in the democratic party supported the stupid notion of "Assad must go". Even Bernie freaking Sanders mouthed this insane neocon line.

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Reply The pundits were wrong about Assad and the Islamic State. As usual, they're not willing to admit it (Original post)
jamzrockz Dec 2017 OP
dlwickham Dec 2017 #1
jamzrockz Dec 2017 #2
rusty fender Dec 2017 #23
marylandblue Dec 2017 #3
Name removed Dec 2017 #10
Kaleva Dec 2017 #4
jamzrockz Dec 2017 #8
nocalflea Dec 2017 #5
jamzrockz Dec 2017 #7
nocalflea Dec 2017 #13
jamzrockz Dec 2017 #14
David__77 Dec 2017 #21
Post removed Dec 2017 #9
David__77 Dec 2017 #19
oberliner Dec 2017 #6
dlwickham Dec 2017 #11
Igel Dec 2017 #12
Blue_Tires Dec 2017 #15
snooper2 Dec 2017 #16
jamzrockz Dec 2017 #17
David__77 Dec 2017 #20
David__77 Dec 2017 #18
Dart_Thrower Dec 2017 #22
muriel_volestrangler Dec 2017 #24
jamzrockz Dec 2017 #25
muriel_volestrangler Dec 2017 #26
jamzrockz Dec 2017 #27
muriel_volestrangler Dec 2017 #28
jamzrockz Dec 2017 #29
muriel_volestrangler Dec 2017 #30

Response to jamzrockz (Original post)

Sun Dec 10, 2017, 09:03 PM

1. any other murdering dictators you'd like to express support for

or is it just Assad that you like

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Response to dlwickham (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 10, 2017, 09:10 PM

2. Hehe

 

Isn't this on the same level as "when did u stop beating your wife?" type question?

I can assure you one thing, if my goal was to defeat murdering dictators, I will never ever join a coalition called "Friends" of Syria with other murdering dictators to remove Assad. That is just silly in my book, but what do I know?

Can we please get a rolls eyes emoji in this website.

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Response to jamzrockz (Reply #2)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 03:15 PM

23. Hahaha

We already have one

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Response to dlwickham (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 10, 2017, 09:11 PM

3. It's not that Assad is so wonderful

It's that, as we've seen since we toppled Hussein, there are much worse people in the Middle East than Assad and his kind.

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Response to dlwickham (Reply #1)


Response to jamzrockz (Original post)

Sun Dec 10, 2017, 09:14 PM

4. Good article but your summary is way off IMO

It was Western air power that prevented ISIS from overturning Kobani and allowed the Syrian Kurds to go on the counter offensive. It was Western airpower that stopped the ISIS advance in Iraq and gave Iraq time to regroup and go on the counter offensive. It was Western airpower that accounted for the great majority of ISIS leaders killed in airstrikes.

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Response to Kaleva (Reply #4)

Sun Dec 10, 2017, 09:46 PM

8. There are some small holes in my theory

 

But just like how the story of the CIA backed rebels getting out of line and fighting Pentagon sponsored rebels contradicted the US story line in Syria of fighting ISIS and Assad. I can imagine ISIS getting out of line and fighting US sponsored Kurds. I don't get it but this happens when you have many actors getting in the mix.

Heck we have Turkey which for the longest time was part of the US created "friends" of Syria fighting the US backed kurds.

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Response to jamzrockz (Original post)

Sun Dec 10, 2017, 09:16 PM

5. Assad released terrorists from prison to fight anti-Assad rebels many of whom joined ISIS.

Assad is a sponsor of terrorism along with Iran and Russia. Assad and Iran loosened chemical weapons on civilian populations. Putin used chemical agents during a hostage crisis killing hostages.



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Response to nocalflea (Reply #5)

Sun Dec 10, 2017, 09:40 PM

7. And the US trained and armed

 

rebels who many of whom joined ISIS. The question is this, why would Assad support terrorists who stole valuable gas and oil producing land from him and then used the funds to attack him and his people? it makes no sense whatsoever that he would do any of that.

On the other hand, it makes sense albeit cynical one that the US would see some gain in stoking the flames of civil war in Syria by strengthening ISIS. Because for one, they both had the same goal of regime change in Syria and it kept Iran and Russia busy fighting ISIS. Just saying.

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Response to jamzrockz (Reply #7)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 01:48 AM

13. The Assad regime let Isis rain terror down on and subdue the Syrian population not under the regimes control.

After the rebellion was quelled the regime would then supposedly go after ISIS.

There are a large number of Chechens fighting for ISIS. The number of Americans is minuscule in comparison.

Think about what Russia is doing in Afghanistan with ISIS.

Say a prayer for the Americans who were beheaded by ISIS and ask forgiveness from them for buying into propagandist, conspiratorial bullshit.

Then say a prayer for the Kurds who have been abandoned by Trump and are being targeted by Turkey, Iran and Syria with Russian help and blessings. The Iraqi's want the oil fields controlled by the Kurds. So do the Russians.

Just saying.

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Response to nocalflea (Reply #13)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 08:32 AM

14. This is just some crazy

 

neocon conspiracy theory I have ever seen. The story by the war wonders was that the Syrian govt was oppressing the Syrian people and the way I understood it, they did not need some convoluted plan to arm ISIS in order to continue doing that, ISIS constantly took over territory from Syrian govt and not rebels and then oppress those people they just conquered from the Syrian govt. I have been watching videos from the war for 6 years now on the web and there is one constant in the war. The rebels and/or ISIS come into an area and the locals leave, the Syrian govt retakes an area and locals return. Contrary to what the western media and/or govt would like you to believe, the non wahabhi people of Syria prefer the govt over the rebels.

I would be more inclined to believe your conspiracy theory if ISIS taking majority of their territory from rebels and wasn't attacking and taking most of their territory directly from the Syrian govt.

I pray for the Syrian people as a whole, not the Kurds, Druz, Sunni, Christians or Shia. I pray that the war which has harmed just about every group to end and the whole country comes together again. The Kurds seems to be using this war opportunity to steal valuable oil land which the whole country needs to rebuild and I am not cool with that.

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Response to nocalflea (Reply #13)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 01:38 PM

21. The "rebellion" led by al Qaeda's affilitate, the one led by Islamic State, or some other one?

The anti-Islamic State insurgents holding Idlib province are not some sort of democratic movement. They include the successors of Nusra, the al Qaeda affiliate in Syria. I think it is notable that religious minorities have fled areas controlled by these forces - not just to leave the country, also to flee to areas controlled by the Syrian state. Things are not so black and white.

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Response to nocalflea (Reply #5)


Response to nocalflea (Reply #5)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 01:25 PM

19. Islamic State and the "rebels" were largely allies at first.

This may refer to the prisoner release you're referring to: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syrias-assad-moves-to-allay-fury-after-security-forces-fire-on-protesters/2011/03/26/AFFoZDdB_story.html?utm_term=.90fca6548bb7

The armed forces of the Syrian state and allied groups lost many lives at the hands of Islamic State.

The non-Nusra, non-Islamist State insurgents made their bed by tactically aligning themselves with the radicals.

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Response to jamzrockz (Original post)

Sun Dec 10, 2017, 09:17 PM

6. The authors of this article are regulars on Russia Today

 

No surprise they are Assad apologists.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #6)

Sun Dec 10, 2017, 10:54 PM

11. no surprise there

these people make my skin crawl

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Response to jamzrockz (Original post)

Sun Dec 10, 2017, 10:58 PM

12. The belief there was no military solution didn't extend just to pundits.

It took a bit of a jolt to stop and reverse ISIS.

However, it wasn't because it looked like Assad/Russia was going to defeat them. It was because they were becoming a big-ass problem that needed help. Without pushing ISIS back in Iraq, it would be hard for Assad to defeat ISIS. Iraq by itself was fairly impotent. It took the US/Kurds to do the trick in Iraq, and once pretty much demolished in Iraq it was necessary to continue in Syria.

Sadly, as before, the help turned out mostly to be for Iran, emboldened by all sorts of victories. So Lebanon is more of a problem now than before, Yemen is a disaster waiting to happen.

It's unclear who, exactly, was dominating the skies before the pushback against ISIS in Syria. It wasn't like the US was conducting a lot of bombing raids against Syria. Mostly they were against some Islamist groups in Syria. The "there's no military solution" dweebs continued their chorus until it was clear that there was no non-military solution. Until then, the risk of hitting a Russia soldier kept the US terrified.

I don't know who, exactly, let the ISIS fighters escape. The only "witness" was with a local group who said it was their deal, but that the US knew/was behind it. However, this was also a defector from that group to the Turks, who have no interest in either defending those who let ISIS escape nor loyalty to NATO since, well, it's not in their current interests to do so. In any event, I doubt that the loyalty to the US on the ground extended to weeks of prolonged fighting. There's a long tradition in the area of letting your enemies escape, provided that they go and harass your other enemies. The bombing runs on Raqqa to defeat the ISIS fighters had scant adherents here--hard to not hit civilians. Or the next best thing, young militant men who become civilians when their guns are taken from their dead bodies because weapons are in short supply.


Assad must go. However, since he's not going to, all that the "liberal neo-cons" like Obama and Sanders just stirred up the cesspool (in collaboration with many, many others). The whole "leading from behind" was a disaster in Libya. So while I think Assad should go, and have since the dentist took over from his bastard father, I don't think I really ever thought encouraging the weak uprising against him was the means to this end. And, as with Tito's death, when you have a dictator that exacerbates ethnic tensions, their departure would lead to a lot of bloodshed eventually, when the order maintaining terror and obeisance weakened.

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Response to jamzrockz (Original post)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 11:38 AM

15. Cool... Now DU is back to cheerleading for Assad again!

Last edited Mon Dec 11, 2017, 02:07 PM - Edit history (1)

Assad DID need to go...

And for the record, I never said Assad wasn't going to fight ISIS, I said he would first use the existence of ISIS as a cudgel to scare his own people (you know, his own citizens that he was actively bombing/starving/poisoning) back in line -- If anything, he carried them a few rounds... I mean, he only killed a half-million of his own people at the minimum but who gives a shit, right??

Too bad there's nothing in your screed about Russia intentionally targeting civilian populations in airstrikes, but luckily DU has a search function...

Fun Fact: ISIS wasn't the only group fighting against Assad, but the U.S. news media (and it's general viewership) doesn't do complex narratives well, do they?

I could go much farther, but I have other things on my mind I'm short on time and patience, got a busy day at the office, and I'm not entirely sure this OP was in good faith -- So I'll just implore you to do your own research on Syria before I cut to the chase and put you on ignore...

Adieu

Well, let me leave you this parting gift:



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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #15)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 11:43 AM

16. Just one poster with what looks like two backers, I wouldn't be too concerned

 

LOL

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #15)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 12:41 PM

17. Oh the irony

 

of a poster claiming that I do not understand the complexity of the fighting group in Syria making the simplistic case that I must be pro Assad for pointing out the dishonesty of the Assad must go crowd. Btw, I am pro Syria and if the Syrian people want Assad in power, it is not for me or anyone in the White house to make that decision for them. I mean the civil war the west fueled using the support of other murderous autocracies only killed 500k and destroyed billions of dollars in capital.

You know, I have always wondered how good people stayed silent while slavery and all sort humanitarian crimes against the Native Americans and other oppressed groups were allowed to happen. Then I read posts like this and it all makes sense. All you have to do is convince the people that the "savages" need the west's protection and no matter how damaging your actions are, your good intention is the only thing that counts. That or maybe some politician offered then affordable healthcare to buy their silence. :rollseyes:

Btw, I think Hillary would have easily won had she not been so pro war. That or had the smarts to lie about it like Drumpf did. Bush lied about being anti interventionist, he won. Kerry did a half assed job of it, he lost and Obama played up his "I am the only one who did not vote for the Iraq war"he didn't have a chance to vote) and he won. Trump did the same by saying the "US would be so much better if they had stayed out in the middle east fights" he lied and he won.

See a pattern?


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Response to jamzrockz (Reply #17)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 01:29 PM

20. Obama didn't go all in for regime change.

He opposed those who advocated for no fly zone and bombing Syria. While I think it was a terrible mistake for the US to support the armed opposition in Syria, I am so glad that Obama stood firm against further intervention.

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Response to jamzrockz (Original post)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 01:19 PM

18. Plenty of people in both parties opposed the "regime change" abetting of terrorism.

I am so glad that Obama prevented this line of regime change from being fully implemented. It's too bad that it took so long for the US to pull back from supporting the Islamist insurgency. I also think it's important to distinguish between the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Islamists that the US was previously supporting.

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Response to jamzrockz (Original post)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 01:50 PM

22. I agree with OP

 

Assad is the one force in Syria capable of holding off ISIS. The US backed freedom fighters are few in number and weak in spirit and they surely would melt under an ISIS attack like snow.

Qaddafi was the only power capable of keeping ISIS at bay in Libya. Once he was removed all Hades broke loose and ISIS and other extremists quickly seized control of the majority of that country.

We do have to realize in some Islamic States dictators are the only force that will keep extremists like ISIS and al-Qæda down. In Jordan and Saudi Arabia it is a royalist dictatorship.

A certain degree of civilization is necessary for democracy to have any chance. A population liberally educated will survive there against extremism. But some Islamic States still have very uneducated and primitive populations, and it takes lots and lots of time to change that.

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Response to jamzrockz (Original post)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 04:20 PM

24. You are accusing Obama of supporting ISIS

which is a vile right wing slur.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #24)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 04:53 PM

25. Please know your right wing slur

 

The right wingers slur on Obama about Syria is that he led from behind, he retreated from the red line he drew, he let the Russians push him around in Syria etc etc etc. My problem with him is the opposite of that, I think he did way too much which made life hell for the people of Syria.

On Obama and ISIS, I just think that ISIS territory was growing while the Western coalition and their rebels were busy harassing the Syrian Army and the TOW rockets which was devastating to the Syrian army somehow landed in the hands of ISIS. Btw, the TOW was so devastating to the Syrian army that they were on the verge of defeat because of it. And not until the Russians, yes the evil Russians arrived that this string of victories by the rebels and the ISIS territorial gains were reversed. Until the Russians arrived, the ISIS the richest terrorist group in the world, making $5m a day from selling oil to another NATO member Turkey. The US air force which had the capability to destroy this oil running infrastructure did nothing to them. I mean, u cannot make this up

So take those facts however you like but the objective truth is that the presence of the US sponsored rebels, the continuous sanctions and harassment on the Syrian govt ended up benefiting ISIS.

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Response to jamzrockz (Reply #25)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 05:01 PM

26. Ah, screw it - you're the one who cheered when the Russians bombed an MSF hospital

https://www.democraticunderground.com/10141349439#post6

And attacks Amnesty International.

And posts RW conspiracy theories that the White Helmets are embedded in ISIS: https://www.democraticunderground.com/10027794453

It's pretty clear whose line you always take on Syria. And Ukraine for that matter. Yes, Putin is right wing too.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #26)

Mon Dec 11, 2017, 05:25 PM

27. Did u ever see the videos of the "hospitals"

 

in Aleppo after it was liberated? how the basements were used as a bomb making factory? these were not just hospitals, they were also legitimate military targets. The point I was trying to make in the 1st link was that hospitals are not 100% immune to attack especially when said facility was used to attack the army, give comfort and support to terrorists invading a nation.

I am a healthcare worker(RN) and if I am ever kidnapped and forced(or voluntarily offer my services) to care for ISIS fighters or some other terrorizing army trying to kill your family, I would understand if the army trying to protect your family dropped a 1000 lb bomb on me. I wouldn't call for it but I would understand if it happened especially if that led to a quicker ending of the war. I also believe an army should try their very best to prevent civilian death and should only attack a civilian area when not attacking would lead to an even greater number of civilian death. In that case, even a hospital used as a staging ground by terrorists can be a legitimate target hence my rationale of how even hospitals can be attacked(same goes for religious facilities)

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Response to jamzrockz (Reply #27)

Mon Dec 18, 2017, 02:09 PM

28. How Syria's White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine

The Syrian volunteer rescue workers known as the White Helmets have become the target of an extraordinary disinformation campaign that positions them as an al-Qaida-linked terrorist organisation.

The Guardian has uncovered how this counter-narrative is propagated online by a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government (which provides military support to the Syrian regime).
...
In spite of this positive international recognition, there’s a counter-narrative pushed by a vocal network of individuals who write for alternative news sites countering the “MSM agenda”. Their views align with the positions of Syria and Russia and attract an enormous online audience, amplified by high-profile alt-right personalities, appearances on Russian state TV and an army of Twitter bots.

The way the Russian propaganda machine has targeted the White Helmets is a neat case study in the prevailing information wars. It exposes just how rumours, conspiracy theories and half-truths bubble to the top of YouTube, Google and Twitter search algorithms.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/18/syria-white-helmets-conspiracy-theories

So now we have a better explanation for that White Helmets thread of yours linked to above.

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Response to muriel_volestrangler (Reply #28)

Tue Dec 19, 2017, 11:40 AM

29. I think

 

the thread was black bagged by the censors before we could have any debates about it. I have way more evidence that shows the white helmet in a really really bad light but I wouldn't dare post it on this forum

Btw, don't believe everything you read or see on the internet. The people who sold you the baby in incubator, the Iraqi WMD would like to lie you into destroying another country. I follow the same rules for mainstream and alternative news sources.

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Response to jamzrockz (Reply #29)

Tue Dec 19, 2017, 12:12 PM

30. You wanted a hospital bombed. Case closed.

No, the thread is not "black bagged"; it had not been updated since last Wednesday, and so is not in the first 30 pages of the GD forum, so more updates don't kick it back up to the top. The point is just to record that you were passing on Russian propaganda, which you are always uncritical of. I don't doubt that you have more anti-white helmet stuff from the dubious sources you love.

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