Overview for "hudud hatay," "Borders of Hatay"
SST will now conduct another in the series of war games that have marked our progress toward enlightenment over the years. The goal in such games is to create conditions in which critical and creative thinking can occur with regard to possible or probable futures. The game will be played in three or four turns (TBD). The game will be played in Game Time, not real world time. The Game Time dates and times will be clearly stated and should not be confused with real world times or dates. At the beginning of each turn the control group (pl & TTG) will post a scenario situation for the following turn. The game time Christmas Day situation for the first turn is posted below. Based on that Situation and following Situations, comments are invited that provide the commenters' opinion as to how that Situation would develop over the period of Game Time stated for the turn. The Control Group will judge the worthiness of comments and make decisions as to whether or not they are contributory and should be posted. After a sufficient period of real world time has passed, a new turn scenario will be posted that to some degree reflects the quality of the comments that have been made.
A few cautions for commenters:
1. Do not fight the scenario of the game. The game creates a universe deliberately isolated in time and space from reality. It does that to focus deliberations on a fairly narrow set of possibilities. If you do fight the scenario your comment will not be posted.
2. Do not make comments that reflect real world time rather than game time.
3. Do not make frivolous or obscene comments. If you do, your comments will not be posted and you may be banned from SST.
4. This IS NOT a forecast. It is a probability driven study of one particular scenario. There could easily be others.
"Borders of Hatay" situation as of Christmas Day, 2016.
The Syrian Government stated on Christmas Day that 2017 will be sennat al-nasr, the Year of Victory. By Christmas Day R+6 has re-taken Palmyra with the US led air coalition having operated against IS north of the Palmyra road and R+6 air south of the road as well as in the CAS mode in the immediate area of Palmyra. By Christmas the Tiger Force armor that led the counter-offensive is in the process of being withdrawn from Palmyra for re-fit and rest in the Damascus area. MG Suhail, the Tiger Force commander was interviewed on Christmas Eve in Damascus by SANA and said his men deserved some rest. By Christmas Day the evacuation of east Aleppo is largely complete, a total of around 30,000 having left for jihadiland, and another 100,000 former east Aleppo residents living in government shelters. Relief supplies are beginning to arrive in large quantities. The besieged Shia villages of Kafraya and al-Fu'a a few kilometers north of Idlib City were finally able to send their sick and wounded to Aleppo under the terms of the Aleppo truce. Russia has begun air drops of supplies into these villages. UN observers are in place at Aleppo but the French government, MSM and Brits are still whining about massacres, etc. Turkey continues to provide logistical support to the Nusra connected jihadis through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing into Idlib Province, Syria. The Al-Bab confrontation among the Turks, FSA, the SAA and YPG remains stalemated as does the sadly inept effort of the Iraqi Security forces to re-capture Mosul. The SDF/YPG are still well north of Raqqa and Tabqa, but still capturing villages. Israel continues its more or less open support of IS on the Golan Front. R+6 air continues to strike all over Idlib Province, around Deir al-Zor and in the Palmyra area. There have been a number of assassinations and explosions throughout Idlib province. Speculation abounds as to whether this is the result of continued infighting triggered by the influx of Aleppo rebels in the area or suspected payback strikes by Russian Spetsnaz for the assassination of Ambassador Karlov.
First Turn Requirement.
State your opinion as to what has happened by 2 January, 2017 (Game Time). pl & TTG
The Golden Division of the ISF has reportedly lost 50% of its troops in the Mosul battle thus far. Field Marshal Ashton Carter was out there recently to buck up the "fellows." It must have been an interesting set of discussions. IMO the Iraqis lack the will to take Mosul and the Kurds see it as yet another Sunni Arab city full of people who, like those who are leaving east Aleppo in Syria, are really jihadi supporters. The IS are well dug in at Mosul and it will be necessary to destroy much of the city to re-capture it. I wonder what Mikey Flynn will say about that.
It is cold and wet and nasty out in the field in Syria. That slows everything down. When your clothes are freezing stiff you don't think about much but getting warm.
The dastardly propagandists of the Western media continue to suggest that parts of east Aleppo are still in the hands of the takfiri rats, but that is untrue. The government controls the whole city. The jihadis are just waiting for the bus. Part of the agreement for surrender was that the long besieged Shia villages of Kafraya and Fu'a, a few miles north of Idlib City, would be allowed to evacuate their wounded and sick to government lines. The takfiri rats stopped that evacuation and in retaliation Shia militias in Aleppo halted the outflow of jihadis and their dependents. That will be sorted out. I am curious to know how many people actually were in the jihadi enclave at the end.
I am saddened to learn that the UK government has sent a military mission consisting of 20 officers with ranks up to brigadier to re-establish the military capabilities of escaped and defeated "moderate" FSA unicorns. These unicorns are refugees from the debacle at Aleppo. Well, pilgrims, where are the Brits going to do this training, etc.? Perhaps the unicorn jihadis will be trucked around through Hatay to the area under Turkish Army control between Al-Bab and the Turkish border. There are some SAS types guarding the trainers and in that area they would be fairly secure. OTOH, if they try to do their job inside Idlib Province the UK government should prepare to receive some body bags with full ceremony. pl
"Turkey’s policy aimed at preventing Syrian Kurds from gaining a swath of territory along the Turkish-Syrian border has totally trumped its desire to see the end of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Developments show that Turkey at this point is even enabling Assad’s drive to regain control of Syria. The Turkish drive to capture the Islamic State (IS) stronghold of al-Bab, only 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the Turkish border, also aims at curbing Kurdish aspirations. Gaining control of this town has become a matter of prestige for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has been arguing for weeks that it is on the verge of being taken.
The problem for Turkey, however, is that it is not just Kurds attached to the People's Protection Units (YPG) — which Ankara views as a terrorist group linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) — who are racing to take al-Bab.
The Syrian regime also wants the town to consolidate its imminent victory in Aleppo. Al-Bab is a gateway to Aleppo, which also leaves Moscow concerned that it could provide a supply line for anti-regime fighters.
Reports have appeared in the Turkish media claiming that the Syrian army and the YPG are collaborating to enter the town before the Turkish-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA). But following assurances by Prime Minister Binali Yildirim regarding Turkey's intention in Syria, given during his visit to Moscow last week, there are indications that Ankara has obtained a conditional green light from Russia to move on al-Bab."
It does appear that Russia is copacetic with Turkish forces and their FSA allies taking al-Bab… at least for now. The Russians and the SAA clearly have other fish to fry. At least the Turks are occupying the attention of a sizable number of IS jihadis. The Turks have moved three hundred or so “commandos” to al-Bab along with a number of their Leopard 2 tanks. Within the last 48 hours, Turkish authorities report four F-16s have hit 28 IS targets in the area with another 157 targets hit by artillery.
The IS is not just rolling over in this fight. The Hurriyet Daily News said IS has fortified the city with nearly a thousand ditches including two meter wide anti-tank ditches supported by minefields and anti-tank weapons. Three Leopard 2s have been reported to be destroyed by IS TOW-2s and Konkurs missiles as of yesterday. The Turkish/FSA offensive is stalled on the outskirts of al-Bab. The U.S. is providing no air or ground support to this Turkish offensive.
The Turks will probably take al-Bab before too long, but what’s next? Erdogan has answered that question himself. Anadalou Agency quoted Erdogan as saying, "At this moment, we are focused on al-Bab, we have surrounded al-Bab on the west, and we will go from here to Manbij.” Well that should get interesting.
AIN ISSA, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) - The US-backed Syrian Kurdish-Arab alliance announced on Wednesday they liberated dozens of villages and approached a strategic town held by the Islamic State (IS) group west of the city of Raqqa. Kurdistan24 correspondent embedded with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) reported that about twenty villages were liberated from IS in the western countryside of Raqqa.
On the third day of the second phase of the offensive launched last month to liberate the Syrian de facto capital of IS, the SDF advanced about 15 km/9 miles towards the IS-held area of Tabqa, some 60 km (40 miles), to the west of Raqqa.
Several SDF fighters on the frontlines told Kurdistan24 that most of IS insurgents were leaving their positioning without any resistance. "[IS] insurgents don't fight, they just flee in front of our forces," said Hoger, a Syrian Kurdish SDF fighter. Additionally, the fighters said they were fighting IS and helping civilians return to their villages immediately. "After we liberate a village, we clean it and remove the mines, and then we help people return to their homes safely," said Hasan, a Syrian Arab SDF fighter.
SDF officers who talked to Kurdistan24 on conditions of anonymity said the target of SDF and their allies is controlling the Thawra Dam, near the town of Thawra, some 150 km (90 miles) southeast of Aleppo. By controlling the Tabqa dam, the SDF can control the western areas of Raqqa, and then separate those areas from the city, so that IS will be besieged from three sides.
Not long ago, the YPG was threatening to pull out of the Wrath of Euphrates offensive to take Raqqa to aid their brethren in the Manbij Military Council against the Turkish/FSA invasion. Now they are participating in phase two of the operation to take Raqqa. Perhaps the original threat and the YPG columns moving West were maskirovka to move forces into position to strike from the Tishreen Dam towards Tabqa. Looks like the plan worked. U.S. Special Forces and special operations forces are participating in this fight. I’ve also seen videos of Ospreys brings arms and ammunition to the SDF/YPG forces in Ayn Issa. Now we’ll see if IS reinforces this front in any meaningful way.
Both these moves against IS will serve to take pressure off other fronts including Palmyra. Seems the R+6 and the U.S. are okay with all this at the moment. I seriously doubt it will stay that way once Turkey moves agains Manbij in a meaningful way. At some point, this will look like Tolkien's battle of five armies.
I lifted this from an EO comment. That is why it has no paragraph breaks. pl
"Colonel – this is an email I sent in response to a reproach that in opposing Western policy in Syria I was supporting a mass murderer, as proved by Assad’s actions in recovering East Aleppo. It’s too long for insertion in your comments section but it occurs to me that if your committee of experts were able to put together an overview of the Syrian war with particular reference to East Aleppo it might give many of us something to fall back on when responding to such reproaches. “The Syrians had to get East Aleppo back or they’d have had little chance of successfully resisting Daesh in the longer term. But what occurred in East Aleppo might also be viewed as a hostage release operation. The Jihadis were fighting from a populated area. It was therefore difficult to defeat them without civilian casualties. For this reason the Russians kept on agreeing to cease fires or "pauses" in the fighting in order to get the civilians out. In the meantime the Jihadis were able to fire indiscriminately into Western Aleppo causing a number of civilian casualties. The pauses the Russians insisted on didn’t work that well because (1) the pauses were used by the Jihadis to regroup and where possible to re-supply, so to some extent the pauses just prolonged the agony. It’s possibly true therefore that more were killed as a result of some of these pauses than were saved. (2) The Jihadis shot at the civilians as they were attempting to leave. In spite of these drawbacks the Russians kept plugging away with the humanitarian pauses and ultimately it did work. By the end they were getting a lot of civilians out and also getting a lot of the Jihadis to lay down their arms. How many moderate rebels did the same we won’t know. The term “moderate rebel” or “rebel” might indeed have some meaning in the Syrian context but it’s a term so often used by the politicians as a euphemism for Al-Qaeda or similar groups that that meaning is never clear. Bear in mind also that many of those Jihadis couldn't really be called true Jihadis anyway. Aleppo was an industrial area before the war. When Daesh took over East Aleppo machinery and equipment was dismantled and taken to Turkey. In addition the sanctions had damaged the Syrian economy. Those two factors meant that many people lost their jobs. When Daesh came in they had a great amount of money behind them so the jobless who’d stayed often enlisted with Daesh in order to feed their families. One aim of the Syrian government was to get these people off the Daesh payroll and back into Syrian society. That seems to have worked, although you can't be sure some won't be shot in a quiet corner later. Some of the Aleppo population who joined Daesh were, however, true believers. Fanatics, just as the invaders were.
1. Having lost the Battle for Aleppo, the Assad must Go crew have now moved on to projecting memes involving false analogies to The Shoah and NAZI Germany as the aftermath of Jihadi defeat in the city. Wild and unsubstantiated rumor is being spread by the UN, SOHR (MI-6) and Western media to the effect that Syrian troops are butchering civilians including THE CHILDREN in the streets in a re-enactment of every sack of a city the propagandists can dimly remember. In fact the Syrians and Russians are evacuating civilians from the recently liberated combat areas, caring for them in makeshift shelters and preparing them for return to their homes. Does the SAA have a list of hard core jihadis who they are looking for and aiming to eliminate? SAA intelligence has had agents inside East Aleppo where they made appropriate lists. These lists would include some fervent civilian collaborators with the jihadi cause. This is war. Dead men don't bite.
2. It seems that the former Nusra front and its allies are moving men up to the Aleppo area from Hama in anticipation of a next phase operation into Idlib province probably oriented on Idlib City and Jisr al-Shugur.
3. ISW is pushing the propaganda theme that the capture of Palmyra by an "army" of Technicals and suicide bombers is a major setback for the R+6. It is not. IMO the attack was made on an opportunistic basis by IS seeking to take advantage of R+6 focus on the Aleppo battle.
4. Palmyra can wait. The ruins and the propaganda leverage that IS capture of them provide are not worth diverting scarce ground assets from the center of gravity of the fight. That center of gravity is in Idlib Province and the Turkish border crossing at Bab al-Hawa. pl
OK. This is a map reading test. Look at how small the remaining jihadi enclave in East Aleppo now is. Look at how far the pocket is from the international airport. When the present offensive started a few week ago the front line was at the end of the runways. This battle is going very well for the R+6. pl
Aleppo - "The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) continued their large-scale offensive in eastern Aleppo today after taking a brief hiatus in order to negotiate a possible exit for the jihadist rebels.
With no agreement put in place, the Syrian Arab Army launched a powerful assault inside the final districts under jihadist control; this would result in a series of intense firefights that would last for much of the day.
Led by the elite Tiger Forces, the Syrian Arab Army managed to capture most the Al-Sahleen and Bab Al-Maqam Neighborhoods after overpowering the jihadist rebels of Fatah Halab and Jaysh Al-Fateh on Sunday afternoon.
According to a military source in Aleppo, the Tiger Forces and Desert Hawks Brigade are on the verge of seizing the remaining areas under jihadist rebel control, including the Bustan Al-Qasir and Sukkari districts.
In the coming days, the Syrian Armed Forces will likely attempt to negotiate a deal with the jihadist rebels in order to surrender the east Aleppo pocket in exchange for safe passage to the Anadan Plains or Idlib." AMN
IMO the Aleppo operation is going extremely well in spite of fits and starts caused by Russian desires to see a jihadi surrender that will do no more damage to the city than can be avoided and the fewest numbers of civilian losses that can be managed. pl
Palmyra - "Earlier this week, a massive offensive was launched by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in the Palmyra countryside, the Al-Masdar news portal reported. Terrorists targeted several sites, located around the city, trying to return the territories, which they lost earlier.
On Saturday, another big offensive was launched by the terrorist group near eastern gates of Palmyra. IS terrorists committed a successful suicide attack on Syrian troops and captured the strategic Grain Silos. After that, terrorists launched an assault on Jabal Tar. It was the first time in the last several months, when the IS has had a presence in this mountain chain.
As a result of these actions, the terrorist group is quickly approaching to Palmyra, as its members surround the city from all defensive flanks.
According to a military source in Tartous, the High Command of the Syrian Army is currently considering redeployment of its elite Tiger Forces to the Palmyra front in order to help to drive out the terrorist group from the area. However, there still has not been any official confirmation of this information." SF
IMO there is a lot less to the IS attack on Aleppo than immediately meets the eye. 1. The IS has maintained substantial forces in the eastern Homs Province since the government re-capture of the Palmyra area. 2. Government garrisoning at Palmyra has been what we "Clausewitzian Grunts" call an Economy of Force operation. IOW the inadequate manning of the R+6 on the ground country-wide dictated too small a force of too low quality at Palmyra. This reminds of the inadequacy of the US Army's force in front of the Ardennes in late 1944. 3. The fantastical theories of "underground roads, US weather intelligence, etc., are IMO just bullshit.
The jihadi scum now hold Palmyra City. OK . IMO what R+6 should do is get on with the job at Aleppo, and then move enough force to Palmyra to process more jihadis into fertilizer. My earlier idea to use the new 5th Assault Corps in this effort no longer seems good. These are volunteers. They should not be too bloodied too early. pl
"The Syrian army has gained control of 93% of Aleppo’s territory, with 52 neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city liberated, Head of the Main Operations Department at Russia’s General Staff, Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi, said on Friday.
“The government forces and militia units continue the operation to liberate Aleppo’s eastern districts from terrorists,” he said. “After a successful offensive, 52 neighborhoods in east Aleppo have been recaptured from militants. In the past four days alone, the area held by gunmen has decreased by one-third. The Syrian army now controls 93% of the city’s territory,” he said.
These results have been achieved by the Syrian army’s ground forces. Russian and Syrian aircraft have not been used in the Aleppo area since October 18, Rudskoi stressed.
“Dozens of tonnes of humanitarian aid are delivered to liberated districts daily, the social infrastructure is being restored, and people get medical assistance,” he added.
More than 1,000 militants have voluntarily left Syria’s Aleppo and most of them have been amnestied, Rudskoy said.
“In total, 1,096 militants have left Aleppo voluntarily, 953 of them have been amnestied,” Rudskoy said.
“The Syrian government is fully meeting commitments on returning participants of illegal armed groups to peaceful life,” he added." SF
OK. Jihadi Aleppo is "done." The Syrians are not (for good or ill) butchering their enemies including those civilians who supported the jihadis.
Now the Palmyra attacks must be dealt with. If I were in charge I would send the new 5th Army Corps to deal with this.
The main campaign should move on to Idlib Province with emphasis on killing jihadis in place and closing the Bab al Hawa crossing into Turkey.
All Hamdu lillah!
"Few moments ago, the Syrian army, Hezbollah and Liwa al-Quds liberated the key Aleppo district of Sheikh Saeed.
The army and its allies are also advancing against Jaish al-Fatah and Fatah Haleb militants in the districts of Bustan al-Qaser and al-Ameria.
Government forces renewed military operations in the city of Aleppo today noon after yesterday’s success in the areas southeast of the Aleppo Citadel." SF
This pretty much completes the circle for the "concentric attack." The SF article also discusses Nusra requests to be evacuated via the Castillo Road. I would prefer to see them made into used creatures that had once been human.
There also seems to be a problem in getting NATO people attached to Nusra/AQ out of the city. pl
"The Syrian army’s Tiger Forces, Liwa al-Quds, the National Defense Forces, Hezbollah and other pro-government formations have been continuing advance against al-Qaeda linked militants (Jaish al-Fatah/Fatah Haleb) in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Government forces are developing the offensive in the areas of Zebdiyah and Bostan al Qasr.
There are also reports that Liwa al-Quds and Hezbollah have made significant gains in Sheikh Saeed. But they have to be confirmed.
All “ceasefire proposals” sent by militants yesterday were reportedly rejected." South Front
If you look at today's map you will see that this is the "concentric attack" that I forecast for the developing offensive once the citadel area had been reached and cleared. The jihadi controlled pocket is shrinking by the hour. The rebel position is quite hopeless and many of them have either fled or are trying to disappear into the civilian population of the pocket.
I am informed that the US and Turkish side in negotiations with the Russians and Syria over the details of some jihadi surrenders in Aleppo have now hardened their position and are effectively arguing for surrenders on "terms," i.e., evacuation to Idlib without disarming and without any screening of people surrendering. The import of these "terms" would be an ability to create a propaganda message that the rebels were not really defeated, and that they agreed to evacuation to save "the people" from further suffering. The Russians and the Syrian government have declined to grant such terms.
If this difficulty persists, there is every reason to think that in the words of the Russian MoD, the pocketed jihadis will be "eliminated."
IMO the Center of Gravity of the non-IS rebellion is now in Idlib Province with its open passageway to Turkey at Bab al-Hawa. IMO a major diversion of available R+6 forces to al-Bab or Deir al-Zor would be an "unforced error."
IMO Russia will press Turkey not to advance further into Syria and Erdogan's need for Russian sponsorship in a re-alignment of economic blocs will make that pressure effective. pl
"On December 6, government forces took control of the neighborhoods of Sheikh Lutfi and Marjeh. On December 7, the Syrian army and its allies liberated the Old Aleppo and entered the areas north and east of the Aleppo Citadel.
Member groups Jaish al-Fatah and Fatah Halab militant coalitions announced that they are ready to withdraw from the city under a deal with the government.
A large group of militants already surrendered to government forces. " SF
The MSM is trying to ignore the impending end of the jihadi occupied enclave in East Aleppo, but this battle is really over. The surrendered jihadis will be Green Bus transported out into Idlib Province and released as per the various surrender agreements with the multiplicity of groups. The negotiations that have reached this outcome were conducted in Aleppo itself and in Turkey under Erdogan's sponsorship.
After a re-fit period the R+6 campaign to liberate Idlib Province will begin. pl
This combat footage of Syrian armor and infantry fighting as a team in East Aleppo is impressive. I know what this is supposed to look like and this is the real deal.
The two groups are closely coordinated as one team and move forward using each other's capabilities as reinforcing combat power.
What has happened in the cauldron of the civil war is that a new force has appeared in the Levant. A new Syrian Arab Army now exists thanks to Russian training, equipment and advice. At the same time the old truism, "whatever does not kill you makes you stronger" applies.
The after action effects of combat stress toward the end of the film is in many ways the most impressive thing. I have seen brave men weep and tremble in exactly the same way coming out of a hard fight. pl
"On December 3, Syrian government forces broke the militant defense line in the northern part of eastern Aleppo pocket and secured significant areas west of the Aleppo International Airport. The Syrian army set a full control over Tareeq al-Bab and al-Myassar Jazmati neighborhoods and seized a number of points in Sheikh Lutfi. Government attacks in Seikh Saeed that the army and its allies had lost to militants few days ago. However, this operation didn’t result in gains.
On December 4, the army and its allies continued advances against Jaish al-Fatah militants in the northern and southern parts of eastern Aleppo pocket. At the same time, reports appeared that Syrian engineers are working to restore the Ramouseh-Sheikh Saeed road in order to ease troop movement and supply delivers for the advancing government forces in the area.
The Syrian military sees constant pressure on militant forces on multiple fronts in Aleppo city as an important task because this allows pro-government forces to exploit Jaish al-Fatah’s lack of manpower.
The army keeps two options to split the remaining Aleppo pocket into separate parts as it has been done previously:
Local sources report that the recent developments destroyed Jaish al-Fatah’s fighting spirit and motivated Syrian troops for offensive operations. Nonetheless, nobody in the Syrian and Russian command staff expect an easy win in the coming days." AMN
Well, pilgrims, the Rooshans and Suriyeen are saying the right things, but I think the Aleppo battle will end in the next couple of weeks.
From the map it would seem that R+6 agrees with SST tactical analysis.
The jihadis refuse to leave Aleppo? Well, shucks! Good. A lot more of the rats will die there. pl
Ain't technology grand?
Here we have a Google Earth image taken from space of the present field of battle in Aleppo.
In the upper left corner you see the citadel of Aleppo, a medieval structure standing on its hill above the old city. It is within government lines.
In the lower right corner you see one end of the runways at Aleppo International Airport. The airport is also within government lines.
The space between is about 1.5 miles at most.
There is a wide highway that connects the two map objects.
The space between these objects is jihadi held, as is a patch of remaining jihadi territory both north and south of the broad airport road. There is constant pressure now on this remaining jihadi enclave from various directions as THE PEOPLE flee toward and into government shelters
IMO the final blow to jihadi hopes and dreams will likely be in a drive astride the airport highway and using the open ground south of the road with the objective of reaching the citadel and cutting the jihadi zone in half yet again. pl
"CENTCOM chief, Gen. Joseph Votel warns against throwing Syria's "moderate" rebels under the bus, Stars and Stripes reports. "I can think of a number of groups…who we have been working with, who have been very, very good partners to us and done our bidding with our support, with our coalition support. So I think we should look to do that, and I hope we will find a way to continue to do that," he told a conference in Washington on Wednesday." Todays D Brief
"U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel on Wednesday urged the incoming Trump administration to reverse course and continue an Obama administration program to train and equip Syrian moderate rebel forces as the campaign to retake Raqqa gathers force.
That would amount to a major about-face for the president-elect. During the election campaign, Mr. Trump sharply criticized the program and the handling of the Syrian conflict, saying U.S. officials “have no idea who these people are.”
The four-star general, speaking at an event sponsored by the Foreign Policy Initiative in Washington, said the United States and its allies were reaping the benefits of a military training program in Syria."
The program is an integral part of President Obama’s overall strategy to eliminate the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, from Syria and the rest of the Middle East. Washtimes
"Nothing is so good for the morale of the troops as occasionally to see a dead general."
- Field Marshal Lord Slim
Slim was a truly great fighting soldier. He understood that the Grunts want to know that their commanders share the risks. A dead general makes that point.
General Votel is clearly a creature of the Obama Administration's confused policies in the Greater Middle East.
It would be one thing if Votel is speaking here of the YPG/SDF forces that US SOF has been training, equipping and advising in Kurdish Syria. IMO that should continue.
If, on the other hand Votel is talking about the Syrian and non Syrian medievalist scum fighting to destroy secular, multi confessional government in Syria, then he is deluded and should be removed pour encourager les autres. (Byng) Our "moderate" allies in East Aleppo as well as all over Syria have routinely murdered prisoners of war, beheaded children who said things they disliked, destroyed and violated ancient places of worship, refused to allow civilian evacuations in Aleppo. IMO they are not deserving of treatment as prisoners of war under international or, for that matter, US law. The Syrian government should dispose of them as they see fit.
The Admiral Byng principle of using dismissal or worse as a means of encouraging better performance should be applied to the politically minded military losers who now inhabit so many positions in the US armed forces. Trump was right in his campaign statements concerning general officers of the GWOT. Let the axe fall wherever needed. Flynn will have an opinion as to who should be retired. Let us hope that the pseudo institution of the general officers mutual protection club does not apply. pl
IMO the Battle of East Aleppo will be over soon. R+6 is carving up what is left of the pocket like a Christmas "Turkey" (Heh! Heh!). The Sheikh Sa'eed neighborhood at the south end of the kessel fell today, and a massive drive westward is underway from the area of Aleppo International Airport toward the citadel of Aleppo. At the same time the Tiger Forces and Palestinian militia are pressing south from the lines they held yesterday along the east-west highway at the "waist" of the former East Aleppo pocket. IMO the pocket will be gone in a few days.
At the same time civilians are fleeing to government lines en masse where they are transported to reception camps and provided food, water, shelter and medical care. The Russians have been moving mobile field hospitals into the Aleppo area to provide more capacity.
The lying US and European media are, of course, portraying the situation as something very different. In Mediaworld, the people of east Aleppo are fleeing from the government. I ask you, pilgrims, to what place would civilians be fleeing in trying to escape the government? The east Aleppo pocket is entirely surrounded by government allied force. Evidently a lot of media halfwits cannot read a map. The statement is also made in Mediaworld that there is a shortage of drinking water in east Aleppo. There is no mention in Mediaworld of the rebels' use of drinking water as an instrument for reward and punishment of civilians. There is also no mention of the SAA's capture of the city water works a couple of days ago and their ongoing efforts to turn the water back on.
Someone should explain to Madeleine Albright what the actual situation is in Syria. pl
1 - He has gutted much of the educated middle class of Turkey in his frantic persecution of all those he thinks might not be loyal to him.
2 - He has sent the Turkish Army into Syria in what was first described as border defense against IS (a group he has long supported) and is now revealed (by him) to be an effort to reach central Syria and depose Bashar Assad. It appears that Russia (and perhaps the US as well) have made it clear to him that this will not be permitted.
3. Through his relentless leadership purges he has so weakened the Turkish armed forces that the country is no longer a credible military partner in the NATO alliance.
4. He has so provoked the EU that its weakling leaders have suspended negotiations for Turkish membership. They did this after first having given Sultan Tayyip a 6.6 billion Euro bribe to stop sending refugees into the EU.
5. As a response to suspension of the process of Turkish accession to EU membership, Sultan Tayyip has now threatened to re-open the faucet of volkervanderung into the EU.
6. He has positioned Turkish forces in the Mosul area in such a way as to be seen by the Iraqi government as having irredentist claims in northern Iraq.
Anything else? pl
According to the Western Media the population of that part of East Aleppo that is still in rebel (read jihadi) hands is terrified at the thought that soon they will be in the clutches of the SAA and its Palestinian, Lebanese Shia and Iranian allies.
In fact they are flocking to the Syrian government to be evacuated to refugee centers where they are provided food, water, shelter and medical attention.
Fleets of buses are hauling them away from the combat area. Photographs are available of these civilians lining up to board the buses once they are able to escape from jihadi control. they tell reporters on the scene that they were used as human shields by the jihadis and fired on if they tried to leave the area of rebel control.
Does the Western MSM acknowledge that? It does not. Instead the media and most especially the mendacious and empty headed crews on shows like "Mornin' Joe" cleave to the memetic propaganda line of people like Susan Rice who yesterday insisted all over the Sunday Newsies that the great majority of rebels are secular and moderate and defenders of "our shared values."
Hey, Joe! I know your friends and neighbors in suburban Connecticut see Nazis and the Warsaw Ghetto everywhere but you should wise up. pl
By Patrick BAHZAD
As readers will probably be aware by now, huge developments have taken place in rebel held Eastern Aleppo over the weekend. In a matter of 48 hours, the rebels have lost some 40 % of the urban territory that was under their control. Adding insult to injury, several thousand residents of those areas started moving over to government or Kurdish held areas in the West of the City.
SST has always forecast such an outcome and stuck by its judgement despite the circumstantial developments that media outlets and expert groups with far larger means considered testimony to the "impossible military victory" in Aleppo.
Well, it turns out, they were wrong and probably out of their depth. The pipedream of the moderate opposition and the propaganda BS that was being sold 24/7 both online and on our TV networks do not necessarily make up for a solid military background and real-life experience ... What has just happened over the weekend is the classic example of a strategic breaking point being reaching in a case of attritional urban warfare.
1. President's Daily Book Briefings - The notion that a president or president elect is under ANY obligation to sit through a lengthy daily briefing from a team from the Director of National Intelligence office is just wrong. This system was constructed to meet the perceived needs of various presidents for information on the world. It is routinely reshaped to suit the desires of the president. The intelligence guys would dearly love to shape their briefings so as to make them prescriptive, in other words definitive for policy. They seldom get to do that but they do try. IMO Trump has policy opinions of his own and is unlikely to be "guided" by the expressed opinions of the DNI or anyone in the intelligence community. IMO that is a good thing. Do we want to be governed by someone who yields to the self-important and organizationally "invested" views of the intelligence barons? If Trump wants Flynn to inform him rather than listening himself to the artful blandishments of skillful briefers, more power to him! I say that as someone who has briefed the high and mighty many times over many years.
2. An emerging ME alliance - Egyptian Air Force fighter aircraft and helicopters have arrived on a Syrian Air Force base in Hama Province. The media speaks of an emerging axis of alliance among: Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Algeria to combat Sunni jihadism. I presume that Russia will be very supportive of such an alliance. At the same time Erdogan's Turkey continues to arrest thousands of opponents and speaks of joining the alignment sponsored by Russia and China even as he continues to support jihadis in Syria.
3. The Trump team - In spite of the plaintive bleating of the Democrats about the legally non-existent national popular vote and re-counts that will never happen or will prove nothing but the ability of Stein to raise money, Trump is moving steadily forward with formation of a national security side of his incoming administration. If I were asked I would advise him to carefully interview people like Mattis, Pompaio, Flynn, Halley and other prospects for nomination or appointment to make sure that these people will follow his foreign policy in both specific and general terms. Mattis lost his job as CENTCOM commander for crowding the Iranians by sending US warships inshore where they were evidently expected to provoke a fight. This was contrary to Obama's policy and Mattis was warned about this behavior before he was replaced. Mattis should be cautioned against exceeding his authorities before being made SECDEF. Flynn's childish foolishness in going to Moscow at Russian Government expense to attend a conference and allowing his picture to be taken at table with Putin was so indiscreet as to raise questions about his maturity and judgment. He should be privately cautioned against that kind of self-indulgence> Pompaio is a tea party congressman from a great plains state who was once in the US Army for a few years and left as soon as he could. He was first in his class at USMA? So what? He was an undergraduate and that was a long time ago. He appears to be filled with a great belligerence towards Russia, Syria and Iran. If President Trump orders him to stop all assistance to the "moderate" and jihadi groups CIA has been assisting in Syria, will he carry out his orders or seek to avoid them? If Romney is made SECSTATE will he follow a policy of detente with Russia, China, etc. or will he try to go his own way? There are yet more important nominations to be made; DNI, and Ambassador to Moscow among others. All of these nominees should be interrogated for the same assurances. If that is done a baseline for performance will be had. pl
"Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and Expatriates Minister Walid al-Moallem reaffirmed that it is the duty of the Syrian state to save the citizens from being taken hostages by terrorists in Aleppo city, stressing that the idea of “self-administration” in eastern Aleppo is categorically rejected because “it is a reward” for terrorists.
“We held talks Sunday morning with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and his delegation, and we expected to hear from him that a date was set for resuming the intra-Syrian dialogue, but we did not,” al-Moallem said in a press conference, adding that de Mistura focused on what he called “ideas” about eastern Aleppo.
“In fact, we told him that we are in agreement about the need to get terrorists out of the eastern part of Aleppo, regardless of our differences about their numbers, but it makes no sense at all to leave 275,000 of our fellow citizens remain hostages by five or six or seven thousand militants. No government in the world would allow that,” al-Moallem added.
Al-Moallem pointed out that de Mistura talked about “self-administration” in eastern Aleppo is which is categorically rejected.
“Is it possible that the United Nations has come to reward the terrorists who are still firing random shells at Western Aleppo which claimed the lives of thousands of people and wounded many others?” al-Moallem said." SANA
Just to be clear about what happened - Marquess Staffan de Mistura of the UN proposed yesterday to the Syrian government that R+6 halt their presently successful battle to capture jihadi held East Aleppo and grant jihadi held East Aleppo area autonomy as a rebel held enclave within the boundaries of Syria, a member state of the UN. Say what?
Why on earth would the Syrians do that? Why? Even the MI-6 run "Syrian Observatory for Human Rights" in London acknowledges that the jihadis in East Aleppo are running out of time, space, ammunition and food.
Ah, yes! Of course! The barrel bombing and hospital destruction memes are not having the desired effect and the "White Helmet" farce has been thoroughly debunked, so something else had to be tried.
"Nothing ventured, nothing gained." pl
“Moments ago, the Kurdish-led 'Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) established full control over Tall as-Saman after a 48-hour battle prompted ISIS fighters to withdraw to the neighbouring village of Qaryah Armaniyah.
The capture of Tall as-Saman is significant as it lies on one of two main roads leading directly southwards to the predominately Arab city of Raqqa. The advance puts Kurdish forces some 28 kilometers north of the Islamic State capital.
12 days into the US-backed Kurdish offensive, codenamed operation 'Euphrates Wrath', over 30 villages have been liberated from the Islamic State. However, Kurdish forces have suffered heavy casualties due to ISIS guerilla tactics and suicide bombers.” (Al Masdar News)
“All hell is loose in the northeastern countryside of Aleppo as ISIS, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Free Syrian Army (FSA) all battled one another on Wednesday. While ISIS mounted a counter-offensive on Qabasin, their forces completely withdrew from several nearby villages, leaving them easy prey for the US-backed SDF. Thus, the SDF was able to pinch out a largely abandoned ISIS bulge and took control over the villages of Al-Bughaz, Abu Hayj, Hutah, Jubb ad Dam (Qanlê Qoyê), Kur Huyuk, Ulashi, Kandarliyah, al-Qarah and Tall Bersaya - these villages are located northeast of al-Bab.
Meanwhile, Turkish-backed rebels fighting under the FSA banner seized the adjacent villages of Arab Wiran and Shuweiha.
Additionally, FSA fighters have once again captured Qabasin; ISIS was only able to maintain control of the town for three hours earlier today. Moments ago, rebel forces also captured the village of Agil (Aji), southeast of Qabasin.
While the FSA and SDF leadership are still firmly at odds with each other, both parties hope to liberate the Islamic State stronghold of al-Bab.” (Al Masdar News)
While all eyes are focused on the beginning of the “final” battle for Aleppo, The YPG/SDF forces are continuing to make offensive gains on both the al Bab and the Raqqa fronts. The seizure of several villages near al Bab was impressive in how quickly the SDF/YPG was able to take advantage of an IS thinning of the lines. That takes discipline and initiative.
I’m also impressed by the early success of “Euphrates Wrath,” the SDF offensive to take Raqqa. That the YPG is the major element in this offensive is surprising. This is not Kurdish land. Phase one of this offensive kicked off with a pincer move similar to the one used to take Hasakah earlier this year. Despite this early success, this is going to be a long term project.
Both the DOD and YPG spokespeople have been making the point that YPG forces are leaving Manbij to take part in “Euphrates Wrath,” but not before they complete the training of the Manbij Military Council. Turkey has long pressured the US to force the Kurds to withdraw east of the Euphrates. While Turkey is pleased about the withdrawal, they are crying like rats eating onions about the recent SDF seizure of IS controlled villages near al Bab. At the same time the DOD announced that the US does not sanction the Turkish/FSA effort to take al Bab and will not provide air support. US advisors have also been withdrawn.
There is also a large build up of SAA and Hezbollah forces in the al Safirah area just south of Aleppo and al Bab. Russia has redeployed seven batteries of S-300s to the same area. Clearly this is all to support the reduction of the Aleppo pocket, but these forces are also in a perfect position to thwart Turkish dreams of taking al Bab, Manbij and beyond.
As a final note, I hope that the DOD plans to do a thorough study of the YPG/YPJ. There are valuable lessons to be learned here. This a remarkably successful, self-trained and self-organized force. Although it possesses a small number of mortars, armored vehicles and other supporting arms, it is overwhelmingly a very lightly armed infantry force that can move rapidly on foot or in their fleet of light pickup trucks. The individual units enjoy tremendous freedom of action and display remarkable battlefield initiative down to the company equivalent sized force. The all female YPJ units seem to be far more than some new age publicity gimmick. Unencumbered by 100 pounds of equipment, they are effective against an enemy that is apparently terrified of dying at the hands of a woman. The YPJ fighters are also very effective in handling refugees and civilians in liberated villages. The Kurds may be on to something with their approach to the military art.
For your reading pleasure:
"There is no mystery about why the accusations took hold. It was in part because Trump had said early on that he thought he could do business with Putin, earning him the reputation of being soft on big bad Russia. Then the Democrats at their convention chose to divert blame for the hacking of their computer system on to Russian intelligence. This was never conclusively proved and all the supposedly corroborating statements from US officials contained get-out clauses. People with intelligence connections suggested that everyone tried to hack everyone’s computers, especially at election time, without any intention of actually interfering.
The truth of any Russian involvement will probably never be known. But certain myths that gained currency need to be dispelled. One was that Trump was receiving privileged information from Russia. In fact, anything he said was already openly available before he said it. Another was that Trump had complicated and suspect business dealings with Russia. No evidence was ever produced – despite what must have been exhaustive efforts by the Clinton campaign – beyond a campaign adviser official, Paul Manafort, who had once advised the ousted president of Ukraine. There also seems to have been some confusion between Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, which hardly reflects well on the accusers." The Guardian
Someone explain to me how Russia threatens the security interests of the United States, or even those of the NATO countries into which the US has pushed the alliance? Explain it to me. Is it by flying too close to our ships? Is it by legally fighting on the side of the Syrian government Is it Russia's refusal to abandon ethnic Russians in SE Ukraine to the tender ministrations of the fascists in Kiev? How is it?
Do they threaten our security interests by existing? Is that it? does their possession of land and armed force automatically make us see them as "enemies?" I have actually heard them referred to with that word in the boobocrat world of the MSM. Actually, Jake Tapper, the election night dancing man, called them that today.
Are we really so pathetically juvenile as a country that we must dominate the world? If so, to what end? The nice lady from Ft. Brooklyn lost the election. Making the world safe for "the children" was one of her major themes. Robbie Mook, her little friend, cried today at her concession speech. He should. He will be known forever as a loser after this disaster.
Trump wants to have better relations with Russia? How terrible! Why did the Deplorables vote for him? Perhaps something should be done abut these creatures who "live in the hills with Bibles and guns" (MSNBC anchor today) Perhaps they should not have the same voting rights as the Enlightened.
"Lebanon's lawmakers elected Michel Aoun, an lran-backed politician and former general, as president Monday, ending more than two years the country has gone without a leader.
Aoun, 81, is an ally of Hezbollah, the Shiite militia and political party backed by Iran that has helped Syrian President Bashar Assad survive a five-year civil war on Lebanon’s border.
The vote for Aoun, by 83 of parliament’s 127 members, shows Iran-backed political factions shouldered past those aligned with Saudi Arabia, replacing Syria as Lebanon’s chief foreign power broker.
Aoun’s “victory now is a victory for Hezbollah and that alliance, and certainly a kind of black eye for Saudi Arabia,” said Paul Salem, vice president for policy and research at the Middle East Institute, a think tank in Washington." USA Today
President Aoun has now stated that he will seek to align Lebanon with the policies of; Hizbullah, Iran, the Syrian government and Russia. This is a remarkable change of heart since he fought so long and so hard to keep the Shia in Lebanon and Iran from wielding a compelling power in Lebanon. I hold the US and its Israeli inspiration to be largely responsible for this change of heart.
IMO the US has consistently backed the Hariris (father and son) in Lebanon in the evident belief that they were our men. This has been a mistake. Both Hariris have always been much closer to Saudi Arabia than to the US and Aoun sees this as a profound interference in Lebanon's affairs and her prospect for survival on Syria's doorstep. This support dates back to the early 80s when Philip Habib, Richard Murphy and Rafik Hariri swanned around the ME together trying to arrange an end to the Lebanon civil war. Rafik was Lebanese born but; had moved to Saudi Arabia, had made vast a amount of money in Saudi royal family sponsored government construction contracts, had become a Saudi subject (citizen), and accepted the Wahhabi version of Islam. The airplane that the Three Amigos traveled together in from country to country was the product of Rafik's exceptionally good financial fortune in Saudi Arabia.
After the rump Lebanese parliament accepted an armistice agreed on at Taif in Saudi Arabia largely over the heads of the Lebanese, it was decided by the Three Amigos (and those behind them) that Rafik Hariri, a Saudi Arabian national would assume an unelected role as PM of Lebanon after being re-granted Lebanese citizenship.
Saad Hariri, Rafik's son, returned to Lebanon with his father, resumed Lebanese identity and succeeded to his father's role as instrument of Saudi and US power in Lebanese politics. He has fulfilled that role ever since.
Now, we see that Aoun, aligned with the adversaries of Hariri's sponsors, has appointed Saad Hariri as PM and head of government in Lebanon.
Does anyone think this is a stable arrangement? pl
"News on dispatching Egyptian military forces to Syria to combat terrorism
Iranian Tasnim News, 3 Nov 2016
Source: Mideastwire, copyright protected. Circulated with permission.
Media sources have been carrying news indicating that the Egyptian government has dispatched military forces to Syria in the context of fighting terrorism, and the military cooperation and coordination with the forces of President Bashar al-Assad’s government. “The sources said that Egypt is keen on offering military aid and dispatching forces to Syria in order to participate in the battles of the Syrian government against the terrorists now that major schisms emerged between [Egypt] and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The latter is offering support to the terrorists in Iraq and Syria in addition to the war it has launched against the unarmed innocent people of Yemen. The sources added that the Syrian and Egyptian governments will make an official announcement regarding this coordination, which will be based on combating terrorism, in the near future.
“A Syrian source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that spoke to Tasnim neither denied nor confirmed the piece of news carried by the media sources. He however indicated that, if this piece of news is confirmed, an official statement will be issued by the ministry of foreign affairs. “Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, the head of the Syrian National Security Office, had visited Egypt some two weeks ago. This was the first announced visit to be carried out by an important Syrian official. Meetings were held with prominent Egyptian officials and the two sides could have agreed on increasing the military cooperation between them. “The visit came at a time when the Egyptian-Saudi relations are seeing differences over the discrepancy between the two countries’ positions regarding the Syrian crisis. Cairo believes that a political settlement involving all the different parties is the way to conclude the Syrian crisis, which has been ongoing for around six years. Meanwhile, Al-Riyadh believes that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must leave power first. In addition, Egypt has recently voted in favor of a Russian draft resolution regarding Syria at the International Security Council. This step stirred the dismay of Saudi Arabia, the number one country in terms of aid provision to Cairo. “Egyptian President Abdul Fattah es-Sisi summarized, last August, the Egyptian position regarding the Syrian crisis. [The Egyptian position] is based on five principles: “Respecting the unity of the Syrian lands and the will of the Syrian people; coming up with a peaceful political settlement to the crisis; stripping the militias and radical groups from their weapons; re-building Syria; and enhancing the state’s institutions.””"
"According to Kapa, Russian veterans of the Ukraine fighting were recruited for ground combat in Syria when it became clear that Syrians would not be able to hold ground without help, despite Russian air support.
"The Arabs are not warriors by nature, but are thrown together and told to storm high ground. They don't know how to storm it let alone conquer their instincts and move towards the bullets. How can you make them do it? Only by setting yourself as an example," Kapa said. "That's why our guys reinforced their units."
Asked if fighters in the group coordinated with the Russian defence ministry, Kapa said: "Of course"." The Independent
@Mike Allen - Is it not obvious that the "volunteer" Russian Military contractors are a project sponsored by the Russian Government? They are transported to and from Syria in Russian government transport, are treated in Russian military medical facilities and are given Russian government decorations if KIA. IMO someone in Moscow agrees with my observation that the "R" in R+6 should be bigger. Don't get too bent out of shape over this. It is very reminiscent of the AVG in China before Pearl Harbor.
Egypt broke off relations with Syria while Mursi was president. He was, of course, an ally of the jihadis and the US State Department. I am not a big admirer of the Egyptian Army and would be pleasantly surprised if they showed up in Syria and showed some fight, but they could be useful in garrisoning quiet areas. pl
"Russia intends to escalate its military operations in Aleppo City and Damascus within the coming days in order to demonstrate its force projection capabilities and bolster flagging public appeal for its involvement in the conflict. Russia deployed its lone aircraft carrier - the Admiral Kuznetsov – to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea on or around October 17. The Kuznetsov is also carrying a contingent of Su-33 and MiG-29K/KUB fighter jets that Russian sources claim are equipped with precision-guided munitions, as well as Ka-52 attack helicopters armed with long-range anti-tank guided missiles.[i] The Kuznetsov is escorted by a battle group that includes as many as three submarines likely equipped with Kalibr long-range cruise missiles. The Kuznetsov reached the Mediterranean Sea on November 1 and is expected to arrive off the Syrian Coast in the coming days, where it will be joined by an additional frigate armed with Kalibr cruise missiles from the Black Sea Fleet.[ii] Once the battle group arrives, it will likely not remain idle. Russia will likely use these new assets to support pro-regime ground operations in Aleppo City or Damascus in an attempt to improve domestic support for its military intervention in the Syrian Civil War through a showcase of its naval and air capabilities. A recent poll by the Levada Center indicated that support for the intervention has begun to slip since 2015.[iii] Russians now doubt the Syrian Civil War as a route to improving Russia’s international image or finding common ground with the West.[iv] Russian President Vladimir Putin will likely attempt to reinvigorate these sentiments through a high-profile demonstration of military might and effectiveness." ISW
ISW is, of course, a Kaganesque neocon think tank, but some of their work is pretty good.
It is not at all clear to me that Russian public support for the expeditionary effort in Syria is flagging. Is it?
Russian air operations in Syria have been largely suspended the last couple of weeks. One explanatory theory is that Putin is being careful to not provide propaganda points to the Clinton campaign in the form of civilian casualties just before the US election.
Additional aerial firepower will be useful to the Russian command in Syria but I remain convinced that the R+6 ground troop strength is too small for achieving a decisive result in the western Syria region that is likely to become the de facto area of Syrian government control.
The evolving and emerging Russian Army does not have a lot of recent combat experience and little at all in expeditionary operation and logistics. I continue to think that a force of two MRD equivalents made up of volunteers would be advisable as reinforcements in Syria. pl
"In years past, the booms of artillery, mortars and rockets exchanged between the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad and the rebels arrayed against his rule provided an ominous backbeat to city life. (“That one is outgoing,” residents would confidently say to flinching visitors.)
In their stead, all that could be heard in the Christian quarter of Bab Touma on Saturday night was the chatter of an early Halloween celebration. It was another sign of a resurgent Damascus that appears to have shuffled off the war weariness prevalent before the country’s Russian-backed military began making gains against rebel groups over the last year.
Women in high heels teetered on the narrow, decrepit sidewalks.
They joined gaggles of young people congregating in front of a popular shawarma joint, strategically nestled among a newly opened strip of bars on Mustaqim Street.
Inside the smallest of them, a bar called Abu George, the decor features kitschy lamps, “antique” baubles and posters of bikini-clad women. The walls are covered with thousands of scribbles, lurching from the joyful (“I’m so happy to be here. Wish I could stay forever in Damascus!”) to the defiant (“Only the God [sic] can judge me.”)
The mustachioed bartender, Abu Issam, held court near a tiny counter." LA Times
IMO West Aleppo would be a lot like this if the jihadis and FSA unicorns would stop shelling residential neighborhoods there. Even the UN has now complained of the indifference to civilian suffering involved. At the same time the RuAF has abstained from bombing in East Aleppo for the last two weeks in the probably futile belief on the part of "the evil Putin" that something can still be made of efforts to separate the jihadis from the unicorns. This reduction in operational tempo occurs just as the rebels (almost all jihadis) are making a desperate attempt to break the government siege of East Aleppo.
Down south in the Damascus region, there are still a few pockets of rebel controlled territory but they are shrinking steadily. The resurgence of ordinary life as described in this piece is reflective of the distance now existing between central Damascus and the places where the shells still fall in the suburbs.
Nevertheless, the aura of the place comes through strongly in this article. Damascus before the civil war was always a fun place. The hotels and restaurants were good. There was no pressure to conform to Islamic standards of dress or behavior, The Grand Bazaar and the "Street Called Straight" were endlessly entertaining. The secret police were discreetly unobtrusive most of the time. The women were Western in style. I remember hanging out in places very like the little bars and cafes described in this piece.
This was all before Robert Ford's War. BTW, Ford now lives somewhere in northern new England where people still have some common sense. He is reported to me to be somewhat reflective and perhaps repentant of the role he played in triggering this evil war when he was US ambassador in Syria. He said recently at a Washington conference that he has discovered in retirement that the mass of the American people whom he lives among reject neoconism and the very thought of another war waged as a result of a policy of overseas aggression.
So, maybe there is hope, pilgrims, maybe. pl
The SAA is carving up rebel held neighborhoods in West and East Ghouta near Damascus. They have the upper hand and are going about their business in a workmanlike way while pushing rebels into surrender agreements that transport those who want to go to the killing ground in Idlib Province where they are conveniently grouped in targetable packages. I wonder if evidence will emerge in East Ghouta as to what actually happened there in the supposed government Sarin gas attack in 2011. No matter! No one in the media would believe anything contrary to the Borgian meme that "da guvmint done did it."
A couple of our brethren here are writing pieces on Mosul and Deir al-Zor. I will abstain from talking about those places so as to not "step on" their work.
At Aleppo the rebels (read jihadis) have staged yet another offensive to try to break the lines of circumvallation around East Aleppo. I agree with South Front that their effort will fail and only result in many more dead rebels. A basic fact of combat is that the side up and moving when contact is made, loses more people. The rebels are up and moving forward. More power to them! pl
"For Putin, his Syrian intervention has been an unambiguous win on the world stage. Its benefits exist on many levels, not least Russia’s reinforcing the potent message that Moscow, unlike Washington, stands by its friends. When his regime was collapsing in 2011, Hosni Mubarak, who had led Egypt for three decades as a loyal ally of America, was coldly abandoned by the White House. President Obama, against the advice of his own national security experts, cut Mubarak loose to the mob, refusing to take his panicked phone calls pleading for help.
That same year, when his regime was facing the abyss as civil war enveloped Syria, Bashar al-Assad got all the help he wanted from Moscow. Russia saved Assad and has not cared one whit about cries from the international community and NGOs about the brutal methods employed by the Syrian regime against rebels. This message has not been missed in the Middle East. It’s no wonder that even Israel has sought parley with Moscow, which has replaced Washington as the new regional kingmaker-cum-sheriff, while Egypt has renewed security ties with the Kremlin that Cairo abandoned more than four decades ago, in favor of the Americans. No more." Schindler in Observer
Trump's son in law is the publisher of Observer Media. Here we have a clear statement of what the change in tone would be like in a Trump Administration.
Well, pilgrims, decide. Do you want the Borg Queen and her neocon/R2P pals to run our relations with Russia? Do you want to gamble on the controllability of an escalatory ladder process if a Russia/US war breaks out in Syria, the Ukraine or the Baltic States?
General Buck Turgidson in "Doctor Strangelove" assures the president that US losses in a thermonuclear exchange with the USSR "will be 20 million, max!" Would that work for you if HC decides to discipline the naughty Russians? BTW, don't believe in any fairy tales concerning magic anti-missile defenses. People like me and my wife in the DC suburbs and Edward Amame on the Manhattan island would simply disappear, literally in a flash. The "rubes," as Amame calls them, or at least a lot of them would survive in misery.
If the Russians follow Soviet target planning they would put several warheads on each of their major aiming points.
Johnson and Weld are obviously not going to win.
The next president will probably be Hillary. That will be great for her. She can then order her AG to suppress the remaining ongoing investigation concerning her conduct and the Clintonworld Foundations. If the Democrats capture control of the Congress there will be no brake whatever on her power and plans for us all. pl
"The CIA’s own assessments of the program have been viewed with suspicion by some at the White House, officials said. “Does it make any sense that the people who are totally invested in this program . . . are the same people who are writing analyses of the Syrian opposition on which decisions are based on the future of that program?” the first U.S. official said.
Amid the setbacks in Syria in recent months, key figures in the administration have advocated prioritizing the fight against the Islamic State, rather than against the Assad government. But agency officials disagree with this rationale, saying that the Islamic State can’t be eradicated until a new government emerges capable of controlling the terrorist group’s territory in Raqqa and elsewhere."
Just to get things straight - the CIA is now by law the "National Clandestine Service." It pursues information using human agents (mostly by liaison) and it executes presidential policy in covert actions authorized by presidential "findings." All of this is accomplished by the Directorate of Operations (DO)
Since the US IC re-structuring during the Bush Administration, the CIA no longer has a significant internal analytic body independent of the Directorate of Operations (the spies and covert operators).
The independent analysts in the IC are in DIA and State-INR and the work products reflect that.
The analysts they do have at CIA all essentially work for the DO, the people who run covert action and presumably favor the programs.
Therefore, it can be seen that as the person quoted underlined above asserted, the CIA is essentially a "Self Licking Ice Cream Cone." (SLICC). pl
"Speaking during an opening ceremony for an educational institution in Bursa on Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared the way that Syrians and Iraqis have been driven away from homes because of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS; ISIS/ISIL), to how Turkish people were once forced out from the same cities.
Erdogan added that the cities of Mosul and Aleppo belong to the Turkish people." AMN
If you know anything about the history of the Ottoman Empire you should not be surprised by this. These two cosmopolitan ME cities were among the most important in the empire. Baghdad was another but there was always a large Arab majority there, Mosul and Aleppo were much more diverse. It was only in the Kemalist consolidation of the Turkish Republic in the 1920s that Turkish sovereignty over these places was surrendered officially.
This statement makes clear what Erdogan's ultimate ambition is and ensures that no Iraqi government will ever acquiesce in the participation of Turkish troops in the liberation of Mosul or Kirkuk.
Only an ignorant neocon fool like Ashton Carter would think differently.
Perhaps the Clinton Administration's foreign policy team, Wolfowitz, Bolan, Petraeus, Keane et al will be able to bully the Iraqis into accepting this. I think not. pl
Turkish air strikes pounded a group of Kurdish fighters allied to a U.S.-backed militia in northern Syria overnight, highlighting the conflicting agendas of NATO members Ankara and Washington in an increasingly complex battlefield. The jets targeted positions of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in three villages, northeast of the city of Aleppo, that the SDF had captured from Islamic State, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said late on Wednesday.
The Turkish military confirmed its warplanes had carried out 26 strikes on areas recently taken by the Kurdish YPG militia, the strongest force in the SDF, and that it had killed between 160 and 200 combatants.
The British-based Observatory monitoring group reported a much lower toll of at least 14 dead and dozens wounded. Officials of the Kurdish-led administration that controls much of northeastern Syria said dozens had been killed.
Complicating matters further, Syria's military called the strikes by Turkey an act of "blatant aggression" and said it would bring down any Turkish war planes entering Syrian air space. A senior U.S. defence official said the groups struck by Turkish jets were not themselves U.S.-backed but were "close to and friendly with" the fighters Washington is working with. (Reuters)
Looking deeper into this situation, we see the makings of a twisted telenovela plot. The Turks claimed they struck the Afrin YPG positions because Turkish positions were shelled from YPG held Afrin territory. Maybe this shelling happened. Maybe it didn’t. The more likely reason for the Turkish airstrikes is that the Afrin YPG was making headway towards al-Bab. The areas struck were recently taken from the IS by the Kurds.
Erdogan claims his goal is to seize al-Bab from IS to close off their supply lines. We all know that’s a crock. All that will do is move the IS crossing point into Turkey a few miles south. His real goal is to prevent the Kurds in Afrin from linking up with the Kurds from Kobane. That would truly close off the IS supply lines to Turkey and Erdogan cannot allow that to happen.
The U.S. made the distinction between the Afrin Kurdish YPG and the Kobane Kurdish YPG. How talmudic. They are all Rojava Kurds. An interesting assertion made by Jack Shahine, a long time reporter with the Rojava Kurds is that the ground operation on YPG positions around Tal-Rifaat on 21 Oct was run jointly by Turkish and American officers with the Liwa al-Moua'atasim fighters. These were the same fighters that jeered American advisors as infidels a short while ago. Shahine also reports that FSA ground attacks on YPG positions have largely failed. With heavy Turkish bombardment, only one farm has fallen to the FSA as of 21 Oct.
The Russians and the SAA have not intervened to help the YPG although they have warned Turkey that they will shoot down any attacking Turkish warplanes in the future. I’m sure they realize shooting down Turkish planes, especially with U.S. advisors in the area could open up a whole new can of worms. However I think they mean it. Their relationship with the Rojava Kurds continues to evolve. Again Shahine reports on this evolving relationship. He claims that in a meeting in mid-September between top Syrian officials and the Kurdish local administration under Russian supervision in Latakia's Himemim (perhaps he meant Qamislo-Himemim), there was an offer from the Russians to stop the fighting between the two sides in Northeast Syria, under terms of changing the official name of Syria to the Syrian Republic (rather than the Syrian Arab Republic). The terms called for the recognition of a federal system of Rojava and the recognition of national Kurdish people in Syria. They also called for recognition of the YPG as Syrian national forces. Although these terms were initially rejected by the Syrian Regime, the rejection was based on the need for these proposals to be discussed in Parliament. That’s a positive start. A start that is certainly anathema to Erdogan.
In addition to the ramifications of shooting down NATO warplanes and possibly killing NATO, including American, troops, the Russians and the SAA are in no position to divert their limited forces to assist the Kurds. The rebels are massing to launch a two pronged counteroffensive to lift the siege of East Aleppo. Jaysh Al-Fateh is preparing to strike towards both the al-Ramouseh district in the south and in the north they will attempt to reopen the al-Castillo Highway. The Russians and the SAA must be prepared to crush these offensives as they continue to reduce the East Aleppo pocket. That’s a tall order.
As complicated and as fraught with danger as this situation is, I have confidence that the R+6 will prevail. Once the Aleppo pocket is reduced, I don’t know if the R+6 will then seek to close the IS line to Turkey at al-Bab or further south at al-Tabqah or at any point in between. They may decide to first concentrate on the rebels in Idlib. I would prefer to see the IS lifeline to Turkey cut as soon as possible, but I think this decision will be very dependent on the timing of the liberation of Aleppo and the probable inauguration of Clinton.
"Jaish Al-Islam allegedly reached an agreement with the government and will surrender the strategic town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta. Reports appeared amid a series of setbacks by the militants in the region. The Syrian army is now deployed in a striking distance from the town. The situation with the alleged deal will become clear in coming days.
If the agreement is reached, some part of militants from the town will be transfered to the province of Idlib and another part (who wants) will receive a pardon from the Syrian government.
The fall of Douma into hands of the Syrian army will indicate the total collapse of the militants’ defenses in Damascus’ Eastern Ghouta region." South Front
John Kirby says that defeating the Nusra Front (by whatever name) is not a primary goal of the US. OK. In that context the R+6 is busy cleaning up pockets of resistance all over western Syria. The method seems to be to apply enough pressure on the surrounded forces to convince the defenders of the hopelessness of their position and then arrange a surrender and transport to Idlib Province west of Aleppo City for them and any civilians who want to go with them. There have been quite a few examples of this so far.
A major side benefit of this process is the re-commitment of these jihadi forces to combat in places like the western edge of the Aleppo encirclement and in northern Hama Province where the jihadis captured several villages last week.
These combats are a great opportunity to render these jihadis into martyrs. Why? It is because you know where they are when they are fighting you.
"A Jabhat Fatah al-Sham (Nusra) statement sent to the BBC pointed to similar initiatives in the central city of Homs in 2014 and the Damascus suburb of Darayya in August, where evacuations took place after years of siege and bombardment by President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
It was "clear", the statement said, that Russia wanted to "cleanse" areas of Sunni Muslims - who form the majority in Syria and dominate the opposition to Mr Assad, a member of the Shia Alawite sect - and to "differentiate" between rebel factions in order to weaken them.
"We choose not to give up our people," the statement said. "We will not betray their blood and we will continue our jihad until we remove the regime and any plan against that is rejected."
The UN, which has designated Jabhat Fateh al-Sham a terrorist organisation, says there are no more than 900 fighters from the group inside Aleppo, out of a maximum of 8,000 rebels in total.
In a separate development on Wednesday, officials in the besieged Damascus suburb of Muadhamiya said hundreds of people, many of them fighters, were being evacuated to the northern province of Idlib as part of a deal struck with the government last month that would see it retaking control." BBC
The charge that the Syrian Government wants to "ethnically cleanse" Syria of Sunni Arabs is demonstrably false. There are many, many Sunni Muslims fighting on the government side against the coalition of Sunni jihadis and illusory "moderate" resistors in Syria. There are many Sunni Arab civilians living in Damascus and other government held parts of Syria.
Yes, the Syrian government, Russia and the US all agreed that Nusra (Jabhat fatah al-Sham) is a terrorist organization and that the supposed "moderates" should separate themselves from Nusra as a pre-condition for a political settlement.
Nusra has refused to allow civilians to leave East Aleppo.
900? Good, this is a nice round number. They have been offered a free passage to rebel held Idlib Province like other surrendedered rebel groups (including jihadis). They have declined, All that is missing from their statements is the reply "nuts!" given by BG McAuliffe to the German demand for the surrender of the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne.
What should follow is a final battle of annhihilation in East Aleppo. pl
Let's see-- -
54,000 Iraqi government forces,
40,000 odd Pesh Merga,
Various US Army and USMC artillery units firing in support,
Coalition air pounding the bejayzus out of the environs and approaches to the city.
3 to 8 thousand IS madmen in the city.
A million or so civilian inhabitants give or take 100k.
IMO this is going to be a near run and protracted thing.
The ISF clearly like to win battles without fighting.
IMO IS's most likely CoA (course of action) is to seek to make a prolonged and suicidal defense of the city taking advantage of the ISF's great sensitivity to its own casualties. A thousand man stay behind force, indifferent to their casualties, fighting from ruined buildings and also indifferent to civilian losses can make a prolonged and expensive fight.
It is sadly amusing to see how favorably the Borgist media gaze benignly at the approaching spectacle while howling in rage at the impending defeat of their jihadi friends at Aleppo. pl
"Dabiq is considered a major ISIL stronghold with symbolic importance to the group, Dabiq, 10 kilometers from the Turkish border, is cited in apocalyptic Sunni prophecy as the site of an end-of-times battle between Christian forces and Muslims. Islamic State named its online magazine after the town in 2014. Every new edition of Dabiq opens with a quote by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the mentor of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, claiming, “The spark has been ignited in Iraq, and its flames will grow until they burn the Crusader armies in Dabiq.”
Graeme Wood wrote in March 2015 that "... much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.... The Islamic State differs from nearly every other current jihadist movement in believing that it is written into God’s script as a central character.... pretending that it isn’t actually a religious, millenarian group, with theology that must be understood to be combatted, has already led the United States to underestimate it and back foolish schemes to counter it."
William McCants wrote in February 2015 "Westerners are not used to encountering apocalyptic messages in Islamist propaganda. Al-Qaeda downplayed Islamic prophecies of the Day of Judgment, preferring more accessible political rhetoric and wary of stirring messianic fervor.... the Islamic State is different. While its tactics and strategies are practical, its goals and motivations are eschatological. The interplay has expanded the group’s territory and enlarged its ranks."" Global Security
What fun! The jihadi nuts are fighting each other for this mythologically significant little town on the plain of the Fertile Crescent.
What could be better! And to make this even sweeter the Sultan Tayyip's forces are going to help the non-IS jihadis fight Caliph Ibrahim's screwballs in this mayhem.
Just stand back and watch, folks. There are only so many jihadis available as potential semi-human wastage and this is a good opportunity to process as many of them as possible into used "humans."
A good side benefit of this is that while these characters are fighting each other they are effectively removed from the game board of the fight for Aleppo. pl
"Chief of the Directorate of Media service and Information of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, Major General Igor Konashenkov promised that no U.S. aircraft would be immune from the threat the S-300 and S-400 air defense batteries pose in case of military strikes on the government-controlled areas. Konashenkov pointed to the airstrikes against Syrian government forces in Der ez-Zor as one of the primary motivating factors in importing the potent weapon systems." southfront
This could not be more clear. If the US and its allies attack government forces in Syria the forces involved will be engaged by Russian forces. pl
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter has revealed himself to be the 21st century's answer to the original Dr. Strangelove. Last week, while touring US nuclear weapons facilities, Carter threatened that the US was prepared to use nuclear weapons to defend against the new emerging Russian threat in Europe. Carter held a press conference at Minot, North Dakota, with a B-52 in the background, pressing for a $1 trillion budget to modernize and expand the US nuclear arsenal to "catch up" with Russia. In the meantime, the US is already moving ahead with a modernization of the B61-12 theater nuclear weapon, for deployment in Europe, that will blur the line between conventional and nuclear warfare, by increasing the accuracy and range and decreasing the payload. No longer will the US nuclear arsenal in Europe be strictly a deterrent.
At the same time, the Obama Administration has walked away from the Geneva negotiations with Russia, aimed at ending the nearly six years of war in Syria, through a joint US-Russian effort against the main jihadist forces--Al Qaeda (Nusra Front) and ISIS. On October 5, the Principals Committee huddled at the White House to consider three options for Syria: Create a no-fly zone over all or most of the country; create safe zones along the Turkish and Jordanian borders inside Syrian territory; bomb the entire Syrian Air Force out of existence in a 24 hour display of "shock and awe;" or arm the Syrian rebels--ie. jihadists--with manpads and other anti-aircraft weapons as part of a prolonged insurgency directed against the Assad government, which will increasingly be dominated by the very terrorist forces that the US and Russia were jointly targeting up until this week.
As Col. Lang has been writing for months, the Russian President has finally concluded that the US is not sincere in proposing joint operations against the jihadists of ISIS and Al Qaeda, and so he has thrown his military support behind an assault on Aleppo, to wipe out the terrorist pocket and effectively defeat the insurgency militarily.
The first three options taken up by the Principals at the White House mean direct war against Russia, a war that would, in light of Strangelove Carter's recent remarks, likely lead to a nuclear exchange--and not at the tactical level. Option four means the US is aligned with the jihadists in a prolonged, ie. permanent war in the Near East--hardly a much better option.
" ... behind the lofty rhetoric about solidarity and the images of heroic rescuers rushing in to save lives is an agenda that aligns closely with the forces from Riyadh to Washington clamoring for regime change. Indeed, The Syria Campaign has been pushing for a no-fly zone in Syria that would require at least “70,000 American servicemen” to enforce, according to a Pentagon assessment, along with the destruction of government infrastructure and military installations. There is no record of a no-fly zone being imposed without regime change following —which seems to be exactly what The Syria Campaign and its partners want.
“For us to control all the airspace in Syria would require us to go to war against Syria and Russia. That’s a pretty fundamental decision that certainly I’m not going to make,” said Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee this month." Max Blumenthal
Dunford should be careful if he wants to keep his job until retirement. John McCain immediately and angrily denied that that a NFZ in Syria would inevitably mean war with Russia.
I agree with Dunford.
The wall to wall R2P and Ziocon campaign to destroy the Government of Syria is in high gear. Unfortunately for the R2Pers, Government of Israel and Ziocons the rebels are losing the war. The Borgist press talk endlessly of air strikes in Aleppo as part of the propaganda meme, and do their best to ignore the daily disintegration of the jihadi rebels in East Aleppo.
The SAA, Palestinian militias long resident in Syria, Hizbullah from both Lebanon and Iraq, Iranian troops and the Aleppo Kurds in the Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood are systematically disassembling the jihadi pocket in East Aleppo.
The more that progresses the more the IO war for American public acquiescence ramps up.
The "White Helmets" are reputed to be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize. pl
Washington has “suspended” bilateral contacts with Moscow over the Syrian crisis, the US State Department said. Russian Foreign Ministry said it was "disappointed" by the decision and accused the US of seeking to shift blame for its own failure in Syria.
US officials had threatened for a week to withdraw from the Syrian peace process, after the latest ceasefire negotiated by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry collapsed amid bloody fighting.
While contacts between US and Russian military to “deconflict” encounters between their aircraft in Syrian skies will continue, the US is withdrawing personnel that was dispatched for the purpose of setting up the Joint Implementation Center (JIC) for the ceasefire, agencies reported citing the State Department.
There is "nothing more for the US and Russia to talk about" in Syria, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday.
Russia has made efforts to preserve the September 9 ceasefire agreement, while repeatedly urging Washington to live up to its obligations, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Monday.
“It turns out that Washington has failed to fulfill the key condition of the agreement to ease humanitarian situation for the residents of Aleppo” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “And now, apparently, having failed to honor these agreements that they themselves worked out, [the US] is trying to shift the blame.” (RT.com)
On top of this, Gospodin Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin suspended Russia’s participation in the program for disposing of plutonium from excess nuclear weapons.
Well, if there’s nothing left to talk about, what’s next? I can hear the voice of my old friend, Master Sergeant Albert H. Rivers, “The shit’s on, good buddy.”
"MANPADS were developed in the 1940s to provide military ground forces with protection from enemy aircraft. They have received a great deal of attention, partly because armed groups have used them against commercial airliners. These missiles, affordable and widely available through a variety of sources, have been used successfully over the past three decades both in military conflicts, as well as by terrorist organizations.
Twenty-five countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Sweden and Russia produce man-portable air defense systems. Possession, export, and trafficking in such weapons is officially tightly controlled, due to the threat they pose to civil aviation, although such efforts have not always been successful.
The missiles are about 1.5 to 1.8 m (5 to 6 ft) in length and weigh about 17 to 18 kg (37 to 40 lb), depending on the model. Shoulder-fired SAMs generally have a target detection range of about 10 km (6 mi) and an engagement range of about 6 km (4 mi), so aircraft flying at 6,100 metres (20,000 ft) or higher are relatively safe. However, the FIM-92 Stinger (1996 version) has a range of 26,000 feet (7,900 m). " wiki on MANPADS
It appears that US +NATO frustration with Russian unwillingness to surrender Syria to the jihadis will express itself in US + NATO sponsored Gulf Arab purchase of MANPADS for the jihadis in Syria. 26 countries make some variation on the theme of these weapons systems. They vary widely in capability but are readily available through grey and black arms merchants or through white market purchases by states. They are not hard to buy one way or another.
A major disincentive for provision of these weapons in the past was the threat these weapons pose to airliners near destination airports. It should be expected that some of the MANPADS provided to jihadi groups in Syria will be re-exported to their comrades abroad. They would be a particular threat to Israeli airliners.
Would the introduction of such weapons to the Syria Civil War on the rebel side be a game changer? I doubt but do not know enough about the particular weapons available to have a valid opinion. pl
"Abu al-Ezz, commander, says about Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda): “We are one part of al-Qaeda. Our principles are: Fighting vice, pureness and security. Our affairs and our way have changed. Israel, for example, is now supporting us, because Israel is at war with Syria and with Hizbullah." Todenhofer
"Our aim is the downfall of the dictatorial regime, the tyrannical regime, the regime of the apostate. Our aim is the conduct of conquests, like [the great Arab general] Khaled ibn al-Walid made them. First in the Arab world and then in Europe." Todenhofer
"To whom did the U.S. hand those missiles before they were brought to you? Were those missiles first given to the Free Syrian Army by the U.S. and from there to you?
No, the missiles were give directly to us. They were delivered to a certain group. When the “road” was closed and we were besieged we had officers here from Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States." Todenhofer
"We do not recognize the ceasefire. We will reposition our groups. We will undertake in the next, in a few days an overwhelming attack against the regime. We have rearranged all our armed forces in all provinces, in Homs, Aleppo, Idlib and Hama." Todenhofer
"You do not want those 40 trucks with aid supplies to bring those into the eastern part of Aleppo?
We have demands. As longs as the regime is positioned along Castello road, in al-Malah and in the northern areas we will not let those trucks pass. The regime must retreat from all areas in order for us to let the trucks pass. If a truck come in despite that we will arrest the driver.
Why did a few of your groups pull back a kilometer or 500 meters from the Castello road?
The regime used highly developed weapons against us. We received a backlash. That is why we silently retreated, to recover and to attack the regime anew. But this attack must lead to the downfall of the regime.
So that was a trick, a military tactic?
Yes, it was a military tactic." Todenhofer
Jurgen Todenhofer is a German journalist. He traveled to Aleppo where he interviewed Abu al Ezz, a Nusra Front Commander. MoA, Barish and several others have written of this interview but there are several things about it that I find so interesting that I will comment as well.
1. al-Ezz states clearly that Israel considers the Nusra Front jihadis to be allies because Israel is at war with Syria and Hizbullah. I have often written that Israel is an inept and short sighted analyst of its own interests. The Nusra Front is presently fighting its other enemies in Syria, but do the Israelis believe that when that is done the basic jihadi impulse against Zionism will have disappeared in an aura of good feeling created by Israeli support for the jihadis?
2. al-Ezz states that deliveries of US weapons (presumably by CIA) is made directly to them and not to the Free Syrian Army "moderates. He also states that both Israel and the US have liaison people positioned with the Nusra Front in Syria generally and in East Aleppo specifically.
3. al-Ezz makes it clear that at the time of the interview the jihadis intended to use the ceasefire as cover for a re-positioning of forces and were preparing for a general offensive to be launched after forces were re-positioned under protection of the ceasefire. We have now seen part of that in Homs and Hama Provinces.
4. al-Ezz makes it clear that the jihadis in East Aleppo are indifferent to the suffering of whatever remaining civilian population are still trapped there with them. For the jihadis the movement of relief supplies into East Aleppo is just something to be used as "a military tactic." pl
By Patrick Armstrong
The Bellingcat site has a piece entitled "Confirmed : Russian Bomb Remains Recovered from Syrian Red Crescent Aid Convoy Attack" which includes this picture as well as several others. You may look at the others, but this one picture is apodictic proof 1) that the Russians (or Syrians) didn't do it and 2) that Bellingcat is a loyal servant of the Borg.
He spends a lot of efforts to establish that the metal piece is the tail piece of a Russian-made OFAB 250-270 Fragmentation High Explosive Bomb. No argument there, I'm sure it is. Said bomb has 92kg of explosive. Which is quite a lot.
If said bomb has exploded in this not very large room, all those cardboard boxes would be torn to pieces and burned. To say nothing of a lot more damage to the room itself. Therefore it did not explode in that room.
If said bomb was a dud and did not explode, where is the rest of it? Therefore the bomb is not a dud.
Therefore the bomb piece was put there to make it look as if the Russians had done it. (And not very competently either: note that it is supposed to have come through the ceiling and neatly placed itself underneath some undamaged cardboard boxes.)
If it is necessary to produce a fake picture, then the Russians didn't do it.
And, as a bonus, by perpetrating this fraud, Bellingcat has also proved that he is a stooge of the war party.
A lot to deduce from one photo, isn't it? It used to be that it took more effort to disprove Bellingcat's fakes. He's losing his touch.
I am at a loss to know what the US, the UK and France think they are going to accomplish at this special session of the Security Council.
Samantha Power seems deranged. Her desire to impose R2P solutions on the world are now expressed in speech and behavior outside the norms of international relations unless war is a desired outcome. Does she really think that the US should fight Russia? Or does she think like that strange man, McCain, that the Russians and Syrians would not fight to prevent the establishment of a NFZ that obviously would become a haven for the jihadis?
Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council. Russia will veto any resolution it sees as antithetical to its policy and interests.
What kind of charade are we seeing at the UN? pl
" ... the launch of the offensive called into question the entire premise of the agreement painstakingly negotiated by Kerry and Lavrov over the past eight months: that Russia shares the Obama administration’s view that there is no military solution to the conflict. On that basis, U.S. officials have explained, Moscow would be willing to pursue a negotiated settlement in return for a cease-fire and the prestige of eventually conducting joint military operations in Syria alongside the United States against terrorist groups.
At a news conference in New York, Lavrov offered a starkly different point of view. He said it is the United States that needs to come around to the idea that President Bashar al-Assad is the only viable partner in the fight against terrorism, calling his army “the single most efficient force fighting terror in Syria.”
“Little by little, life will make everyone understand that it’s only together that you can fight terrorism,” Lavrov said.
His comments, alongside the events of the past week, suggest that Russia and Syria still believe the war can be won outright, without recourse to negotiations that the United States has said offer the only way out of the Syrian tragedy." Liz Sl at the Washpost.
Well, pilgrims, this war was always winnable. We have said that at SST for a long time and continue to believe that this is the truth. IMO the Russians have also known it was the truth but have been willing to humor the Borgist foreign policy establishments to learn what possibilities there might be for a general improvement of Russian-US relations. Having now been screwed by the US/the jihadis/and Gulfie "friends" in; a couple of ceasefires designed to allow the jihadi/unicorns to re-group and re-supply, the evidently treacherous attack on SAA forces at Deir al-Zor and the IO flim-flam over the Red Crescent convoy the Russians and their pals seem to have decided to go for the "win the war" option.
As of today, forces have been massed at Aleppo for the purpose of eliminating the East Aleppo rebel pocket. This pocket has now been without re-supply for an extended period. This is true for both the jihadi rebels and the civilian population, many of whom are rebel supporters.
IMO the main effort by R+6 is taking place at the SE side of the East Aleppo pocket. That is now underway with massive CAS from Russian aerospace forces.
At the same time Palestinian militia allies with CAS have attacked the fortified Handarat refugee camp at the NE corner of the pocket. IMO this is a secondary attack intended to prevent the rebels moving forces south to oppose the main R+6 effort.
This is an excellent plan.
At the same time there is an unconfirmed report from SOHR in London (pro-rebel) that a Russian force with 3,000 men has been positioned at al-Safir about 12 km. SE of the main attacks on the Aleppo pocket. If this report is correct this force is well positioned to reinforce the main attack or be used in a defensive move against a rebel effort elsewhere. It would be in the Russian operational tradition to pass a reinforcing "wave" or echelon of forces through the initial assault forces when they become exhausted by combat.
At the same time the remarkably ineffective Turkish/FSA effort along the Turkish border NE of Aleppo ensures the distraction of IS forces which might interfere with R+6 efforts at Aleppo City.
The foreign policy establishment (Borg) in the West wants to believe that war is obsolete as a factor in the story of humanity. People created by poly sci/ IR programs across North America and Western Europe are convinced that they are smarter, and more "evolved" than mere soldiers. They believe that they have inherited the earth and that their cleverness will always prevail over mere force.
We will now have a demonstration that this is not true. pl
Apparently the dreaded "out of state agitators" are flocking to Charlotte, NC from all around. Charlotte is 35% Black. It seems that the embattled African-Americans there need reinforcements and they are on the way. Some appear to be veterans of the BLM urban IO warfare in such places as Ferguson, MO. The governor has moved National Guard troops into the city (890,000 inhabitants). A curfew is being discussed. Surrounding Mecklenburg County has twice as many residents and many fewer Blacks.
What to do? What to do? Ah, I know. The Unicorn Rider in Chief can send the Justice Department Civil Rights Division to investigate the Charlotte police and city government for evidence of a pattern of unprogressiveness. Then they can seek a consent decree from these dastards. Eventually the city may surrender and sign on the dotted line and the federal government will then run Charlotte. One city or town at a time works folks, one city at a time. HC will continue the program.
And up at the UN, the fantasy life of the BHO Borgists is being played out. Kerry has declaimed that an investigation of the convoy event is unnecessary because we already know who the culprits are. He then continued by exhorting the Russians to do the right thing and he clearly meant that they should gracefully accept the inevitable triumph of the jihadi unicorns favored by the US/Britain/France/Turkey/Saudi Arabi/Qatar and all that crew. The striking thing about this attitude is the spectacle of so many over-educated people indulging themselves in a group fantasy in which the Russians/Hizbullah(both kinds)/Iranians/Syrians/Palestinians etc. are suddenly going to understand that they have no choice but accept the will of the Borg. pl
"“I am confident that such coincidences require serious analysis and an investigation.”
On September 19, a humanitarian convoy consisting of 31 trucks was attacked while heading to Aleppo. According to the Red Cross, 20 civilians and one aid worker died as a result. Initial reports by the organization claimed the convoy had been targeted by an airstrike.
On Tuesday, the UN backtracked on its earlier claims that the convoy was hit by military planes.
"We are not in a position to determine whether these were in fact airstrikes. We are in a position to say that the convoy was attacked," UN humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke said.
Speaking on the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria, Lavrov said that the Russia and US-backed plan included the creation of a demilitarized zone around the Castello Road near Aleppo. The minister added that while the Syrian government forces have started their withdrawal, the militants have not followed suit." AMN
Pilgrims! I don't know what you see in this photo of the convoy attack site but I do not see evidence of an air attack unless the air weapon was something very precise like an armed UAV.
There is no blast damage on the roadway itself. There are no pieces of the exploded or unexploded ordnance itself. The overhead power lines are uncut. There does not seem to be damage to nearby structures.
What I see is a burned truck. pl
By JACK MURPHY 09.14.2016
“Nobody believes in it. You’re like, ‘Fuck this,’” a former Green Beret says of America’s covert and clandestine programs to train and arm Syrian militias. “Everyone on the ground knows they are jihadis. No one on the ground believes in this mission or this effort, and they know they are just training the next generation of jihadis, so they are sabotaging it by saying, ‘Fuck it, who cares?’”
“I don’t want to be responsible for Nusra guys saying they were trained by Americans,” the Green Beret added. A second Special Forces soldier commented that one Syrian militia they had trained recently crossed the border from Jordan on what had been pitched as a large-scale shaping operation that would change the course of the war. Watching the battle on a monitor while a drone flew overhead, “We literally watched them, with 30 guys in their force, run away from three or four ISIS guys.” (sofrep.com)
One of the major points of this article is that the CIA doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the Islamic State in Syria or Iraq. By the end of 2014 there were only twenty CIA targeting officers and analysts were dedicated to IS. By early 2016, it was not much better. Instead, the CIA neurotically focused on removing Assad from power by any means possible. This laser focus was established by Brennan. I surmise this focus is shared by most in the Obama Administration
In spite of this focus, the CIA’s efforts in Syria is plagued by bureaucratic infighting. The CIA has three elements jockeying for power. The Syria Task Force is similar to the Iraqi Task Force and Iranian Operations Group that preceded it. It is Brennan’s baby. Damascus X is the Syrian CIA station now operating in Amman. And then there is the CTC/SI (Counterterrorist Center/Syria-Iraq), which is tragically focused on the Assad government rather than the terrorists. I have seen this kind of food fight for resources and prestige in the CIA and even in the DIA during the fat money days of the GWOT. I’m sure this cat fight is even more intense in today’s leaner fiscal environment.
As many of you know, the CIA conducts a lot, perhaps most, of their operations through liaison with host nation services. While I’m comfortable with working with the Jordanian services, the thought of depending on the current Turkish intelligence service scares the bejeezus out of me. For several years now,the CIA has relied on Erdogan’s boys to determine which unicorns and jihadis were worthy of getting all the TOWs and other goodies doled out by Brennan under his Title 50 authorities(intelligence/covert ops).
The 5th Special Forces Group arrived in Turkey and Jordan by 2015 to begin training anti-IS rebels under Title 10 authorities (military). Although this appears to be a reasonable mission, it was tripped up by a terrible vetting process. Jack Murphy describes the reaction of one veteran SAS operator sent to work with the 5th Group training program. “He quickly recognized the sorry state of the train, advise, and assist programs in Jordan.” The situation in Turkey was/is much worse. Not only did the 5th Group trainers have to deal with the CIA’s ambivalence towards the anti-IS fight, but they had to work along side the Turks while they were enthusiastically supported IS and other assorted jihadis. The 5th Group soldiers were stuck training would-be terrorists while being commanded by a martinet MP officer more interested in making uniform corrections and chasing down speeders. Needless to say, morale was in the toilet. The charade in Turkey became more absurd when the Green Berets were embedded with the Kurds in Rojava.
When Obama authorized the direct support to the Kurds in Syria, the CIA wanted Delta to perform the mission. Delta turned to 5th Group. The fact that the new 5th Group Commander was a former Delta Commander was probably a major factor in that decision. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but politics and bureaucratic rivalries colored even this decision. Even here, with a mission that is dear to my heart, there are problems. The Kurds have their own combat training program. They resent the efforts of the U.S. to impose a Special Forces training program on them. However they dearly appreciate the weapons and air support. I noted something similar in 1983 Lebanon. We were providing basic combat training to many Lebanese who have been in combat for quite some time. There were times we thought it was a mutually embarrassing situation. That’s what happens when the training programs are planned in Bragg and D.C. rather than by the teams on the ground.
AS a final example of our hot, covert mess in Syria, Jack Murphy notes the plight of Delta which worked under CIA’s Title 50 in Syria. “Delta Force had also been stymied by red tape and bureaucracy as they tried to get into the fight and knock ISIS down a peg… With the CTC at war within itself, they were both trying to prevent their own people from collecting intelligence (lest they find something threatening) and stonewalling any and all Delta Force operations from going forward against ISIS.”
Jack Murphy published this article on his subscription website, SOFREP.com. It was also published on another website without his permission. I read the article on that site before I realized it was done without permission. Jack Murphy is a fellow Green Beannie. Out of courtesy to him, I will not provide a link to that site. Although I am not a joiner by nature, I may break down and subscribe to the SOFREP site. It seems to have some quality content not readily available elsewhere.