"The initial assault on Thursday involved commandos from a unit that reports directly to Maliki. They were airlifted aboard three helicopters to Tikrit University’s stadium, where they were met with heavy fire from ISIS. At least one of the helicopters was shot down.
The commandos managed in all-night fighting to take control of tall buildings near the stadium, according to witnesses and local residents. On Friday, they were reinforced by militiamen believed to be members of the Shiite group Asiab al Haq, an Iranian-trained militia with extensive experience fighting in Iraq against the U.S.-led occupation and in Syria in support of the regime of Bashar Assad, which faces its own Sunni rebel uprising. Reports indicated the commandos and militia members were battling to expand their perimeter late Friday, with uncertain results." sacbee.com
This is it folks, the beginning of the once and probably final BIG PUSH. Something like the Somme in 1916? No. "aboard three helicopters?" "A unit that reports directly to Maliki?" Really? That's what they've got? Three helicopters of some kind of internal security police troops, Really? asphalt soldiers? Really?
How many ground troops? We don't know as yet.
"Defeat would be disaster?" Well brace for it. As Farrell would say, "feet and knees together, eyes on the horizon." pl
"“These planes are over 20 years old,” said a senior military officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss the negotiations. He voiced concerns that using the outdated technology could mean large numbers of civilian casualties. “Even when you get them, you still need training for pilots. They aren’t just taxis that one can just jump into and drive,” he added, pointing out that many of the Iraqis who were trained to fly them are now too old.
Iran impounded about 130 planes after fleeing Iraqi pilots sought sanctuary in the country during the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi officials say. The aircraft include 24 Soviet-made Su-24s, 24 French Mirage F1s and 12 MiG-23s." washpost
"Feet and knees together..." These relics and wrecks have been sitting in the sun somewhere baking for 23 years. No further comment is necessary. The airpersons here will comment.
"The Syrian rebels that the U.S. now wants to support are in poor shape, on the retreat from the radical al-Qaida breakaway group that has swept over large parts of Iraq and Syria, with some rebels giving up the fight. It is not clear whether the new U.S. promise to arm them will make a difference.
Some, more hard-line Syrian fighters are bending to the winds and joining the radicals.
The Obama administration is seeking $500 million to train and arm what it calls "moderate" factions among the rebels, a far larger project than a quiet CIA-led effort in Jordan that has been training a few hundreds fighters a month. But U.S. officials say it will take a year to get the new program fully underway. The U.S. also faces the difficult task of what constitutes a "moderate" rebel in a movement dominated by Islamist ideologies." abcnews
Yes, by all means let's continue to treat the Syrian government as a pariah state. pl