Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Thursday, November 16, 2017

The BBC has uncovered details of a secret deal that let hundreds of IS fighters and their families escape from Raqqa, under the gaze of the US and British-led coalition and Kurdish-led forces who control the city. A convoy included some of IS's most notorious members and – despite reassurances – dozens of foreign fighters. Some of those have spread out across Syria, even making it as far as Turkey. The deal to let IS fighters escape from Raqqa – de facto capital of their self-declared caliphate – had been arranged by local officials. It came after four months of fighting that left the city obliterated and almost devoid of people. It would spare lives and bring fighting to an end. The lives of the Arab, Kurdish and other fighters opposing IS would be spared. But it also enabled many hundreds of IS fighters to escape from the city. At the time, neither the US and British-led coalition, nor the SDF, which it backs, wanted to admit their part.

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Has the pact, which stood as Raqqa's dirty secret, unleashed a threat to the outside world - one that has enabled militants to spread far and wide across Syria and beyond? Great pains were taken to hide it from the world. But the BBC has spoken to dozens of people who were either on the convoy, or observed it, and to the men who negotiated the deal.

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Even though this deal was reportedly instigated by local Raqqa officials trying to save what little was left of their city after 4 months of intense fighting between the sides, it's entirely otherworldly that Trump hasn't spoken about this decision which allowed IS soldiers and weapons to spread across Syria and perhaps out of Syria to be used again to attack and kill.

Not only that, the coalition forces actually hired and coordinated this strategic withdrawal by providing the vehicles and drivers who actuated this retreat. If Obama's release of individuals from Guantanamo who returned to the ME to fight against anti-terrorism forces was so vehemently scorned, what should be the response of this President who only yesterday claimed that IS forces were being pursued and destroyed without quarter by the US military?

#1 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 06:46 AM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

The report raises many questions. Why the shift of policy on the part of the U.S. government, particularly after all the blood and thunder about wiping out ISIS from Trump and his underlings? Was this truce agreement approved at the highest level, meaning by President Trump himself? What was his rationale, and doesn't he owe the country an explanation? If not, were local U.S. commanders empowered to make such an important decision, and in that case, did they seek input from our intelligence and security services about the implications of 250-plus heavily-armed ISIS fighters running loose in the Middle East? Was the congressional leadership informed in a timely manner?

The agreement allegedly did not permit foreign-born fighters to evacuate Raqqa in the convoy. Yet the truck drivers who ferried them out stated that "there was a huge number of foreigners. France, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi, China, Tunisia, Egypt ... " Were local U.S. commanders aware of that, and, if so, why did they acquiescence? And why were ISIS fighters allowed to evacuate with so much ammunition that, as one driver complained, it broke the axle of his truck?

There was also a suspiciously high ratio of purported "family members" evacuated; were they all voluntary departures, or might some of them have been hostages? Was this the only way to end the fight without the further leveling of Raqqa? Possibly so, but it would be good for administration officials to state this before a congressional committee while under oath.

It is common knowledge that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has funded and logistically supported ISIS. It is plausible that the Saudis, particularly under the energetic new Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the virtual power behind the throne in the Kingdom, would be involved in any decision involving ISIS, a number of whose fighters were Saudi nationals. Since the crown prince gained power, Saudi Arabia has orchestrated the blockade of Qatar, held the Lebanese prime minister as a near-prisoner, used famine as a weapon against Yemen, and replaced Benjamin Netanyahu as the most active force trying to instigate war between America and Iran. Was there a diplomatic exchange between the Saudis and the United States over the Raqqa deal to preserve a Saudi "asset?"

washingtonmonthly.com

Great questions worthy of real congressional investigation, right? Then "bring it on" so we can find out what happened behind this strategic policy decision with such wide-ranging potential ramifications.

#2 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 07:34 AM | Reply

It's not a mystery. Remember the last convoy? It was in September. It made news feeds of people paying attention. We blew the roads up it was using to escape, and we obliterated any men that tried to leave to convoy. We ended up letting it go free. The generals didn't want to butcher hundreds of women and children.

#3 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 08:23 AM | Reply

Remember the last convoy? It was in September. It made news feeds of people paying attention. We blew the roads up it was using to escape, and we obliterated any men that tried to leave to convoy.

Didn't bother to read the details, did you?

But when he and his fellow drivers assembled their convoy early on 12 October, they realised they had been lied to.

Instead, it would take three days of hard driving, carrying a deadly cargo - hundreds of IS fighters, their families and tonnes of weapons and ammunition.

Do you have any integrity whatsoever to always comment in ignorance of the factual information being placed in front of you?

#4 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 08:32 AM | Reply

Integrity? You want a congressional investigation because we didn't blow up a bunch of children.

#5 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 08:34 AM | Reply

No, I want the strategic decision to be publicized and critiqued because it was done in complete opposition to everything the President has said about his obsession to destroy IS and how Obama's "weakness" was holding our military back. Maybe the POTUS should publicly state that one-sided rhetoric often doesn't translate to realpolitik decisions every single time.

I guess you don't think rationally enough to understand that the "people" could have been allowed passage without the weapons accompanying them because everyone should understand how they will be used in the future against our interests and personnel. That is why Congress should be looking into this decision and perhaps the reasons and the identity of the actors who brought about this stark policy reversal.

If the goal was to save the lives of children, the siege shouldn't have been started and maintained for 4 months. Your point is nonsensical based upon the fighting and devastation that had already occurred. You act as though the families weren't there during all the fighting up until that point, which isn't the case at all, so why did they receive special consideration in October they didn't receive during the summer?

#6 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 08:47 AM | Reply

You want an investigation because we didn't obliterate a convoy with human shields because of campaign rhetoric... your rationality has gone out the window. How about we simply investigate the applicable laws before we start investigating rhetoric? LOAC directly prohibits attacking 100+ human shields as a direct consequence. Your investigation is to find out why we didn't commit a war crime. The siege is indirect. Bombing a convoy with human shields is a direct attack. Different rules under the LOAC. They aren't legally comparable, and electing Trump didn't change global treaties.

They received the same consideration in the summer. This wasn't the first convoy. We didn't bomb the September convoy, it reached Deir-A-Zior (butchered the spelling) in accordance with the deal reached with the Syrian government, after we stranded it for awhile and picked off those that fled. We held it up for awhile. We allowed humanitarian supplies to reach the convoy. How do we know nothing was smuggled in that? We don't. We eventually let it go.

#7 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 09:30 AM | Reply

If we want to rewind a to a little over a year ago, we saw 2 very similar but distinctly different situations under the Obama admin. June saw ISIS convoys fleeing Mosul bombed by US aircraft. Special forces on the ground counted militants with small arms, and they were shooting. Valid targets, bombs away. Two months later, when ISIS militants fled a Syrian town in civilian buses packed with family, they didn't get bombed. Republican media tarred Obama as weak for not bombing them. They were fools and exploiting ignorance for propaganda, when the reality is that Obama was constrained by the same legal reality we have now.

#8 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 09:58 AM | Reply

You want an investigation because we didn't obliterate a convoy with human shields because of campaign rhetoric... your rationality has gone out the window.

No one has said anything that ludicrous but for you> Again, go back and reread what I wrote and stop creating strawmen out of your own delusions.

The evacuation of active fighters and their weapons was not a humanitarian decision, it was a strategic military decision directly opposed to the objectives we are seeking. Why is this so hard for you to understand? You keep conflating what happened in September - that is not at issue - with the decision of the coalition to employ, coordinate and disperse vehicles full of IS soldiers, weapons, and personnel, the very remnants of which we spent the previous 4 months fighting against.

As I stated above, why couldn't we have let the PEOPLE leave Raqqa but demand that they leave unarmed if they truly wanted safe passage? Hasn't the US always demanded unconditional surrender of enemies we are at war with? When did this change and who exactly decided to alter decades of previous US policy in this instance? Let those involved explain it because you are obviously doing an extremely poor job obfuscating that which is in plain sight.

#9 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 10:02 AM | Reply

"No, I want the strategic decision to be publicized and critiqued because it was done in complete opposition to everything the President has said about his obsession to destroy IS and how Obama's "weakness" was holding our military back."

#6 | POSTED BY TONYROMA AT 2017-11-16 08:47 AM | FLAG:

It's exactly what you're saying. That's an investigation into a decision about why we DID NOT commit a war crime, directly bombing a large number of human shields to kill some fighters is a war crime. Obama made the exact same political calculus in the exact same situations.

You are also wrong, again, we have and do take conditional surrenders. We take them from combatants and criminals and nation states. Sometimes we do, sometimes we don't. It's not black & white.

#10 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 10:22 AM | Reply

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The evacuation of active fighters and their weapons was not a humanitarian decision, it was a strategic military decision directly opposed to the objectives we are seeking.

#9 | POSTED BY TONYROMA AT 2017-11-16 10:02 AM | FLAG:

This is where you are having a disconnect. It's neither. It's a legal decision.

#11 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 10:26 AM | Reply

That's an investigation into a decision about why we DID NOT commit a war crime, directly bombing a large number of human shields to kill some fighters is a war crime.

Why do you keep asserting this foolishness as a point of debate? Is that the ONLY OTHER STRATEGIC option available to the coalition forces at that time? Of course it wasn't. Stop assigning your false assertion to the point I'm trying to make because it's not germane at all!

I'm not debating your strawman, you deal with it. There were many other options outside of bombing these people. You just don't want to consider those options, and my question to you is why?

#12 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 03:18 PM | Reply

All part of Trump's plan to defeat ISIS in 30 days.

#13 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-11-16 03:20 PM | Reply | Funny: 1

If your assertion is there were no other options between committing war crimes and actively providing a coordinated escape for the enemy IS group - we just spent the previous four months fighting against - with vehicles that WE PROVIDED for them, you really have lost whatever mind you claim to possess.

I've never seen anything so incredibly stupid before in my life.

#14 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 03:22 PM | Reply

There were many other options outside of bombing these people.

#12 | POSTED BY TONYROMA AT 2017-11-16 03:18 PM | REPLY

Oooh, do tell. Lets hear the tactical acumen of Tonyroma.

#15 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 05:56 PM | Reply

Read the story and get back to me. I must be an idiot to discuss information you obviously haven't even considered. The tangent you've been stuck on isn't remotely relevant to the details of IS' removal from Raqqa.

#16 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 06:44 PM | Reply

If you would have read the article, IS wired all the vehicles they used to escape and many of those traveling with them wore suicide vests so just how would the Coalition be complicit in war crimes for a mass suicide event?

You really are dense.

#17 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 06:49 PM | Reply

Oh don't dodge this. I'm genuinely curious. I've followed this conflict from the beginning. Obama let armed ISIS fighters flee in a convoy in an arranged deal last year. Trump did it this year. I understand who funds them, our relationship with them, and even the game of thrones internal political war going on there. I see how they got to the exact same conclusion based on lawful warfare and reality on the ground. I want to know what you think you would have done in their place. Maybe you're smarter than the entire general staff across two administrations. Lay it out there.

#18 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 06:50 PM | Reply

Found your war crimes:

But in Raqqa, it behaved no differently from any other losing side. Cornered, exhausted and fearful for their families, IS fighters were bombed to the negotiating table on 10 October.

"Air strikes put pressure on us for almost 10 hours. They killed about 500 or 600 people, fighters and families," says Abu Musab Huthaifa.

Footage of the coalition air strike that hit one neighbourhood of Raqqa on 11 October shows a human catastrophe behind enemy lines. Amid the screams of the women and children, there is chaos among the IS fighters. The bombs appear especially powerful, especially effective. Activists claim that a building housing 35 women and children was destroyed. It was enough to break their resistance.

Where are the charges in the Hague Sitz? Why don't you get right on that, okay?

#19 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 06:53 PM | Reply

You obviously didn't follow what happened in October, did you? If you had we could have spared ourselves a day's worth of useless argument that have nothing to do with the actual gist of the article. Locals negotiated an escape for IS in which they violated the terms, misstated how many would be traveling, and abused and threatened those hired to carry them safely to friendly territory.

The question is how in the US made the decision to allow this deal to happen, and why was it done in complete secrecy when it contravened every single strategic goal articulated by the President and his Defense Secretary?

Back in May, US Defence Secretary James Mattis described the fight against IS as a war of "annihilation". "Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to north Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia, to Africa. We are not going to allow them to do so," he said on US television.

But foreign fighters – those not from Syria and Iraq - were also able to join the convoy, according to the drivers.

Whoops, looks like somebody lied, THAT'S the issue. Who's responsible?

#20 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 06:59 PM | Reply

#19 | POSTED BY TONYROMA AT 2017-11-16 06:53 PM | REPLY

Again, rules of war. You can hit neighborhoods in certain instances, and kill civilians, without it being a war crime.

Completely dodged what you would do.

#21 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 08:48 PM | Reply

"You can hit neighborhoods in certain instances, and kill civilians, without it being a war crime."

Stay classy, America!

#22 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-11-16 08:51 PM | Reply

Back in May, US Defence Secretary James Mattis described the fight against IS as a war of "annihilation".

#20 | POSTED BY TONYROMA AT 2017-11-16 06:59 PM | FLAG:

This is also one of your issues. You're stuck on propaganda. It doesn't matter what they say, it's not legally binding. Trump said he was going to commit war crimes, on purpose, while on campaign. Hasn't really happened.

#23 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 08:51 PM | Reply

Stay classy, America!

#22 | POSTED BY SNOOFY AT 2017-11-16 08:51 PM | FLAG:

Good thing war is terrible, lest we grow too fond of it.

#24 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 08:51 PM | Reply

Too fond?

Maybe you missed the people who are so fond of war they get mad at the NFL because the players don't love war enough.

#25 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-11-16 08:53 PM | Reply

Completely dodged what you would do.

100% irrelevant. It's not about what I would do, it's about who's taking responsibility for what actually happened. READ THE ARTICLE! The coalition DID NOT NEGOTIATE the withdrawal agreement. Why? Who gave local Syrians the right to do this without input from the coalition and why? Who inside the US let Congress know we were willfully letting thousands of IS personnel safe passage from Raqqa, and did the White House sign off on these orders? Who in the US government is taking responsibility for going along with this decision and why has it remained a public secret, totally divorced from our announced goals for any and all military action against IS?

Capiche?

#26 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 08:59 PM | Reply

It doesn't matter what they say, it's not legally binding.

You need to wake the **** up if you believe anything short of publicly lining up unarmed IS members against a wall and executing them would ever be prosecuted at the Hague. Our President threatens to preemptively use nuclear weapons against a foreign country that has violated no international law whatsoever and you think bombing 4000 IS fighters and their gaggle will bring war crimes charges?

I was studying just war doctrine before you were born. You're right on the law but crazy if you ever think anyone today will enforce them against the US. If Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and extraordinary rendition didn't teach you that then nothing will.

#27 | Posted by tonyroma at 2017-11-16 09:10 PM | Reply

You're right on the law

#27 | POSTED BY TONYROMA AT 2017-11-16 09:10 PM | FLAG:

Since you've been studying it, you know modern war is run by lawyers, and you're still balls deep in propaganda. Let it go.

Also, Syrian locals don't need coalition permission to do a damn thing. I'd imagine everybody on the security council that doesn't sleep through a briefing. Given that everybody knows about it, it's not a secret.

and no, it's not irrelvant. You said their is many things they can do. What would you do? You have an opinion enough to ask for an investigation, what would you do different merits an answer.

#28 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-16 09:33 PM | Reply

Did we get back any of the weapons Hillary shipped them?

#29 | Posted by SheepleSchism at 2017-11-16 09:52 PM | Reply

Uranium weapons?

#30 | Posted by snoofy at 2017-11-16 09:53 PM | Reply

Milan AT missiles. They came from Libya during the great weapons proliferation that followed us executing a "No Fly Zone" by directly bombing the Syrian military ground forces which didn't even have anti-aircraft weapons... or wings. That era ended years ago, the missiles are all used up and Russia replaced the armor.

The Kurds have a huge vested interest in relocating rear guard ISIS forces out of Raqqa and into Syrian National Army fronts, which dovetails with Israeli concerns about Hezbollah/Iran/Syria gaining credibility by defeating ISIS since they've done the vast majority of the heavy lifting. GeoPoliticalMonitor had an article on this over a month ago, and I'm fairly certain Stratfor covered it to but you need a subscription.

#31 | Posted by sitzkrieg at 2017-11-17 07:44 AM | Reply

So Trump is soft on terror like Obama. Sad!

#32 | Posted by bored at 2017-11-17 12:41 PM | Reply

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