Intelligence official killed in bomb blast, Kafr Sousa, S.W. Damascus, Thursday, possibly on US sanctions list published the same day (12th).

Al Arabiya names the individual as “Colonel Haider” here. If the same man, the US Treasury calls him, on a new sanctions list, published on Thursday, 12th, Colonel Zuhayr Haydar, here. An easier-to-read list, containing his name, can be found here. (The term “NPWMD” means apparently “Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators”.) That list should be examined side by side with this list here, which is in Arabic, as can be seen. It was linked to in this Facebook post, dated 13th August 2012 (over four years ago). Some names, including maybe Haydar/Haider’s, in the Arabic list correlate with the Treasury list. My weak Arabic translation facility identified in fact four possible matches, after a quick look (number in Arabic list in bold, Treasury entry following), as follows:

No 7 on Arabic list: ABBAS, Ghassan; DOB 10 Mar 1960; Scientific Studies and Research Center Brigadier General (individual) [NPWMD] (Linked To: SCIENTIFIC STUDIES AND RESEARCH CENTER).

No 6 on Arabic list: BILAL, Muhammad Nafi (a.k.a. BILAL, Muhammad), Syria; DOB 25 May 1971; alt. DOB 1971; Gender Male; Syrian Air Force Intelligence Colonel (individual) [SYRIA] (Linked To: SYRIAN AIR FORCE INTELLIGENCE).

No 5 or 28 on Arabic list: HAYDAR, Zuhayr; DOB 18 Dec 1965; Scientific Studies and Research Center Colonel (individual) [NPWMD] (Linked To: SCIENTIFIC STUDIES AND RESEARCH CENTER).

No 15  on Arabic list: IBRAHIM, Muhammad; DOB 05 Aug 1964; Brigadier General (individual) [SYRIA] (Linked To: SYRIAN AIR FORCE).

There may of course be other matches. However, only an Arabic speaker, who also knows English, will find them in useful time. There is no question though that there is an element of correlation.

“Too late!” she cried, and waved her wooden leg.

The above is a well-known expression of the futility of approaching something in order to fix it after the thing has ceased to exist. These new sanctions look like another last-minute positive action in Syria by the Obama team, to dress up his exit from the stage as a man of action – except that someone else seems to be beating him to it, not similarly by sanctioning Assad’s bad guys but by simply bumping them off… I speak not disrespectfully of the dead, and so will not labour this point. But, it does look like that.

We’re in a news vacuum right now. We must wait and see.

NB: All dates local to the relevant website, depending on its settings.

Interesting article from Bilal Abdul Kareem concerning possible US airstrike on Sarmada, Idlib.

Chaos In Wake Of Syria Ceasefire

(Source unknown)

“Chaos continued to rein in war torn Syria yesterday.  As rebel groups issued a statement declaring a freeze in negotiations, a purported US airstrike devastated a Jabha Fath Sham headquarters in the north Syrian town of Sarmada yesterday.

“The groups have cited continued violations of the ceasefire as regime troops continue to try and advance on the strategic area of Wadi Barada.”

Full article

I added a comment which may be awaiting moderation for several days, so here it is:

Sarmada (سرمدا) is in the midst of a cluster of IDP camps, one of them Al-Kamoneh (الكمونة)* which lies on a hillside a couple of miles to the south-east of the town and was bombed or shelled in early May, the aggressor unclear. Turkey, according to several TRT World reports just before Christmas, has been busy in that camp and others erecting more accommodation, the charity IHH
heavily involved – IHH were greeting evacuees right up next to government positions in Aleppo West during the evacuation, so appear to be roaming freely in Idlib and western Aleppo governorates (doing good work, one should add). So, any bombing operations in or on the approaches to Sarmada will be close to IDP concentrations. Obama seems to be thrashing about somewhat during his last days in office: knifing Israel at the UN, trying to skewer Trump through hacking allegations, being examples. So, one simply doesn’t know what chaotic notions may be in his head about Syria, where his entire policy in that country – if policy is the word – is in the process of being rendered an empty sham by Russia and Turkey between them. Whoever bombed Sarmada would have needed pinpoint intelligence and accuracy to justify an attack in the midst of an area riddled with IDP camps and, since mid-December, Turkish charity workers and their equipment. If JFS are on the ground in that area, Turkey can talk to them, which means also that Russia can, through Turkey. They can be steered that way. The odd man out is the US. Unpredictable behaviour from that quarter seems to fit. Whatever Turkey’s and Russia’s plans are, it will suit Obama to try to scupper them, through his influence with Kurdish militants, through use of his air force or even through some dirty deal or other with Daesh or – the prime monster amongst all or any of them – Assad. Roll on January 20th.

*Name derives from cumin, though I am not certain the camp itself bears this name, even if it is generally referred to by it. I did a small study of that camp here:

Comment is based more on gut instinct than actual research as unfortunately I have had to pull away from close examination of Syrian affairs due to the time involved, partly, but also because the evolving dynamics there are beginning to speak for themselves.

Airstrikes, clashes persist on third day of Syrian truce

Syrian government warplanes carried out several airstrikes and low-level clashes persisted in some areas Sunday, but a Russian and Turkish-backed ceasefire largely held in other areas on its third day, activists and rebels said.
Jets bombed the villages of Kafr Kar, Mintar and around the town of Banan in the southern Aleppo countryside, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Government forces also advanced overnight against rebels in the Eastern Ghouta area near Damascus, seizing 10 farms close to the town of Douma, the activists added.
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