The Al Qaeda branch in Syria, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), formerly known as Jibhat al Nusra, posted a video on its Telegram channel on Friday showing a rocket hitting the bus. HTS is in control of Idlib, which is the last terrorist controlled area in Syria.
In 2017, President Trump shut down the CIA program which was funding and providing weapons to the Radical Islamic terrorists fighting to over throw the Syrian government to establish an Islamic State in Syria. President Obama had devised the war on Syria for regime change while utilizing Radical Islamic terrorists from Syria and around the world, including the US, UK, France, Belgium, and Australia.
Hours after the deadliest attack against Syrian government forces so far this year, Russian warplanes carried out air strikes on terrorist areas in the northwest.
The Syrian people have suffered under attack since March 2011 by a US-NATO backed war for regime change. The Muslim Brotherhood was utilized in Turkey to establish the political arm of the terrorists, as the US and EU recognized the Syrian opposition Coalition in Istanbul as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The Muslim Brotherhood is recognized as a terrorist group by Egypt, UAE, Russia and Syria. US Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has tried repeatedly to get the US Congress to recognize the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, but has not been successful due to the strong support for the terrorist group by members of Congress, both Democrat and Republican. The Muslim Brotherhood is an ally of Israel, who is a close ally of the US.
Since the 2018 invasion of Syria by Turkey, the northwest of Syria along the Turkish border has become a safe-haven for Radical Islamic terrorist groups who receive full support from the administration of President Erdogan, who heads the AKP party in Turkey, which is a Muslim Brotherhood allied party.
The Syrian war is long over, but Idlib remains a hot-spot due to the protection and occupation of Turkey. Russia and Turkey reached agreement in Sochi, that Turkey should remove the Al Qaeda linked groups from the civilians in Idlib, and to allow the M4 highway linking Latakia to Aleppo to be used safely by trucks and civilian cars. However, Turkey never fulfilled their side of the agreement, and the highway remains unsafe for use due to the occupation of the Radical Islamic terrorists supported by Turkish outposts.
Russian and Syrian air force targeted several positions of the ‘Sultan Shah’ terrorists in retaliation for the deadly bus attack.
Mohammad al-Jassim, also called Abu Amsha, is the leader of the Turkish-backed ‘Sultan Shah’ terrorist group, which is known among the people as al-Amshat faction. In 2019 he chanted, “Thank you Turkey, Thank you Recep Tayyip Erdogan.”
Abu Amsha is detested among the people because his faction members practice war crimes and steal from the citizens in Afrin, and other Turkish occupied locations. They kidnapped a citizen in Alkana village, and demanded his relatives to pay $20,000 USD in order to be released. They have extorted money from citizens while promising protection.
Since the2018 Turkish invasion, which they called Olive Branch Operation, the security situation in Syria has deteriorated in those areas Turkey occupies and allows their Radical Islamic terrorist groups, such as ‘Sultan Shah’ to operate freely. Turkey is carrying out an ethnic cleansing campaign, removing Syrians at gun-point using the terrorist groups to hand over Syrian lands, homes and businesses to Syrian refugees returning from Turkey and to the terrorists and their families who were brought to the northwest under negotiations brokered by Russia to liberate areas under terrorist control.
Syrian refugees in Turkey were deported and resettled in Afrin and areas of Turkish occupation. Afrin is an agricultural area between Idlib and Aleppo which is famous for its olive trees and the production of olive oil. Turkey has allowed the terrorists, including the ‘Sultan Shah’ group to steal the olive oil and send it to Turkey which is then bottled and sold both inside Turkey and abroad as a Turkish product. Customers in Los Angeles saw bottles of olive oil labeled as made in Kessab and Afrin and sold in the US by Turkish companies.
Turkey’s occupation of Syria should be called operation Olive Oil not operation Olive Branch. Turkey is in a domestic economic crisis, Erdogan needed a way to support financially the terrorists he was using in Syria, so the sales from the stolen olive oil are the method he is using. But, the theft of olive oil is just one source.
Syrian antiquities, using Turkish bulldozers and excavators manned by terrorists of the ‘Sultan Shah’ group and others, have been unearthed, with the valuable artifacts then taken to Turkey and sold to antiquities dealers in the US and Europe. This illegal revenue brings in much more than the stolen olive oil.
The ‘Sultan Shah’ group extorts taxes on owners of farm tractors and agricultural machinery. The group also extorts money from relatives of those they have kidnapped in the form of ransom, sometimes up to $200,000 USD. The group devised a tiered tax on all agricultural lands: 15%, 25%, and 35% of the crop production to be paid to the terrorists.
In August 2021, the head of the Syrian opposition Coalition, Salem Abdel Aziz al-Muslat, honored Abu Amsha, the head of ‘Sultan Shah’, and gave him a Medal of Honor. This is the US supported opposition Coalition, regarded by President Biden and the US Congress as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people. The ‘Sultan Shah’ group is well documented by human rights groups and international activist groups as having carried out murders, kidnapping, extortion and ethnic-cleansing.
When Americans pay their taxes, do they ever consider where their tax dollars are going to? The White House and the US Congress belong to the American people, and it is the American people who are responsible for war crimes and atrocities committed abroad by US supported groups. President Biden, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and others have chanted a mantra for 11 years, “The only solution for Syria is a political solution.” Yet, the group that the US recognizes as the only legitimate representative of the Syrian people is handing out a medal of honor to a documented war criminal, murderer, kidnapper and extortionist. American values are touted as freedom, democracy and justice. American values have become a hollow phrase, and a source of ridicule by people throughout Syria.
Steven Sahiounie is a two-time award-winning journalist