A number of things:
- R+6 is learning to fight together better and better. It is clear that the Russians attached to the SAA have made major contributions in assisting; campaign planning, coordinating all arms, arranging re-equipping (T-90 tanks, aircraft, field uniforms, etc.). Most of all their presence has brought new heart to the Syrians as such help always does to an army desperately locked in combat. Examples are numerous in history. For Americans, the beneficial psychological factor that came with the French "Expedition Particuliere" should come to mind.
- IMO the "siege" of Aleppo will not last long. Rebels are deserting the cause in what they hold of the city. They know that they are likely to be trapped in a pocket there and given their previous behavior in the war they may well receive Article 45 as a reward for that. The Russians would have little control over that. Local allies are never really under positive control by an intervening great power ally. IMO Aleppo proper has not yet been occupied by R+6 because its partial occupation by rebels serves to "fix" rebel forces more or less in place throughout the NW.
- IMO the refugee flight to the Bab al-Hawaa border crossing west of Aleppo City is not flight from bombardment. It is flight from the knowledge that a major engagement may occur in and around the city. There are always a lot of civilians casualties from such an engagement whether the combatants want that or not.
- These "fixed' forces make wonderful objectives for R+6. Committed to defending localities, they cannot move away from developing R+6 combat power and are being ground to bits as they try to do such things as protecting remaining border crossings into Turkey.
- IMO Turkey continues to debate its future actions. If Turkey crosses the border with major forces, the Russians may match their escalation either in Syria or closer to home. NATO must know that such a scenario could escalate to global war and IMO NATO is telling Turkey to be very careful or risk a refusal of support.
- IMO the policy of the US remains both belligerent and ignorant of actual conditions in the ME region. The notion that a pan-Sunni armed force can be created for the re-conquest of Iraq and IS controlled Syria is a fantasy. Why? Answer: There are no Sunni dominated countries who either have the forces needed or who are willing to deprive themselves of the homeland presence of what are in essence internal security forces. The idea that Saudi Arabia with its puny actual combat power could be the core of such a force is known to be ridiculous by all with a modicum of actual knowledge of the region. Any such force would inevitably be a screen for the employment of major US ground forces to do the real fighting. The US citizenry will not accept such a thing. The US government appears to be living in a world of its own dreams and group think.
- There has been some speculation recently on SST concerning the causes of the low quality and inaccuracy of MSM reporting in the US, Britain and other countries. IMO there are two basic causes of such journalistic malpractice. 1- Corporate leadership is integrated into the world-wide informal group think network of governments, media. academia, think-tanks and mega-capitalists that I have shorthanded as the Borg. Such corporate stakeholders are easily pushed in editorial directions desired by governments and special interest groups. The tools are always the same; money for sponsorship of programs and access to supposedly key people. 2- Media people at the operational level (especially in TV) are generally not well educated. They are typically products of schooling and experience in the communications arts (including journalism). Such people are often woefully ignorant of the Humanities (history, languages, area studies, etc.) and lack any context with which to understand events on the world scene. They are easy prey for the editorial policy given them by the corporate leaders. There are occasional moments of comedy created by the dissonance brought to the fore by confrontations with reality. Yesterday, CNN's Jake Tapper was distracted from the primary election circus long enough to show us all film done recently by a CNN reporter in government occupied Aleppo neighborhoods. Life looked quite normal. There was a lot of food in the markets. Children played in the streets. Women walked around without their faces covered. Taxis drove up and down picking up and discharging fares. Several older men were interviewed and they attributed their good conditions to the hard fighting and victories of the Syrian Army. Tapper did not know what to say and changed the subject. pl