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27 October 2014


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Sometimes dropping a barrel bomb is terror (Assad); others times, (as US Ambassador Sam Power would say) it's "what any nation would do." (Iraq).

See http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/for-iraqs-sunnis-sectarian-militias-pose-an-extra-threat/2014/10/24/ed53540e-5b75-11e4-b812-38518ae74c67_story.html

Money quote:

"Disturbingly, the imam made clear that the Iraqi air force is still using indiscriminate “barrel bombs” to “go after ISIS” in Fallujah, despite instructions from Baghdad to stop using them. Other governments, including that of the United States, have condemned the use of these horrendously destructive bombs across the border in Syria but have said nothing about them in Iraq. His phone contained a collection of grisly photos — including some from an attack that killed 14 in a family of 20, most of them children."



They are just bombs. Bombs made in factories would have exactly the same effect. pl


dear sir,
regarding Lebanon, this satire news story appeared some time back (which says ISIS postponed the invasion of Lebanon because ISIS couldn't understand Lebanon either ).



any nation that does not have a sufficient number of bomber air crafts would do it.

From what I have heard they are quite inaccurate. Not very effective against an experienced and well entrenched enemy.

The beaver


Before clinking on the link wrt Gen Allen, I was telling myself : "this guy must have had too much KoolAid ( sorry single malt) at the bar at the Dorchester in london" and then I saw that the interview is published out of London.

BTW : There is a book out about the blunder in the relations of France and Syria , especially Alain Juppé and his +100 Friends of Syria

"Finalement ? Comme le dit Moktar Lamani, émissaire onusien, « il n’y aura pas de solution à la guerre en Syrie sans l’Iran. Mais il peut très bien y en avoir une sans la France »."


The Russians managed to do just that for their own proxy force in Ukraine, but only by infusing it with massive Russian manpower and materiel - the very "boots on the ground" that the US insist they won't be providing.

Also, they faced an enemy that was not willing to go full-Grozny on them.

Of course, the real "negotiations" are not with Damascus, they are with Teheran. Presumably they would involve much more than "just" Syria.



So the FSA we have been funding to date has no political support? Oops. Perhaps General Allen has a new method to identify "moderal" rebels and thier actual political support amongst Syrians. Maybe he can become Governor General of the new "Protectorate" of Syria. I'm sure there is overwhelming US support - at least in think tanks and academia - for such a thing.


I have never understood why the US and anti-Assad people have made such a big fuss about them being 'barrel bombs'.

The talk about barrel bombs is an odd mix - some part contempt for Assad not being able to afford 'real bombs' (look how desperate he is!), and part accusation that he uses the bombs in civilian areas (look what a bastard he is!), which is probably inevitable in urban combat.

Or put this way: Barrel bombs are an topic because they have been chosen as a propaganda theme.

To me the barrel bombs demonstrate the Syrian army's capacity for improvisation with limited resources and a degree of ingenuity.


Colonel Lang,

"Is he another polished staffie like Perfect Peter Pace?

Do not know him personally.

A reading of his official bio, which
he presumeably approved of, would answer "yes", easily.

In fairness, he also appears to have been a most
excellent peacetime company grade officer, and something
of an intellectual throughout his career. Unfortunately,
not smart enough to escape some email involvement with
one of the girls in the Petraus affaire.

I admit to some cautious skepticism about "warriors" who
get their combat experience at the 0-7,0-8 level.

USMC 1965-1972
FBI 1972-1996


Please correct me if I am wrong, but I recall a discussion here several months ago by those who had experience in the effectiveness of flechette rounds in some circumstances. Am I correct in my belief that their effect is similar to so-called barrel bombs?


Col, the mentality of General Allen reaffirms my belief that the federal government is out of control and needs to be pared back significantly; I am politically liberal in many ways, but I agree with the conservative sentiment that our government is way too big, spends too much money. This guy needs to go get a job in the real economy in America providing goods/services to Americans rather than trying to micromanage the affairs of Syrians. Let Syrians work out their issues.



Weapons of war are intended to kill. A "barrel bomb" is like any other aerial bomb. It is a container packed with explosives dropped fro an aircraft. Sanctimonious civilians want to distinguish among weapons, not soldiers. Flechette rounds project a lot of little steel darts. All such battlefield weapons are designed to kill. pl


Col. Lang,

How about the A-10 Warthog? They say it could take a beating and still get home. And those Gatling guns...the sound of it would be enough to sow terror on anybody...

Too bad the DoD decided to ax the entire fleet of A-10s on 2015...


William Fitzgerald


"Liberate Damascus"? The euphemisms keep coming.


Babak Makkinejad

His screed reminded me of some sort of proto-Maoist strategic day-dream; with the roles for Mao, Chu The, Chou En Lai, Li Biao, and others up for grabs.

FSA has no political program or ideology, no structure, no cadres, no nothing.

Do you think people who listen to this man believe what he says?

Do you think he actually believes in what he says?

Piotr, Poland

Sadly, but you are right Colonel. Who among Syrian soldiers cares about not using barrel bombs?

It's Syrian civilians problem not Syrian soldiers. Here in Aleppo:





Barrel bombs, when pushed out of a stationary helicopter using GPS are quite accurate. Seen YouTube clip of SAAF doing that, bombing his own people and all that.



I presume you are joking about "bombing his own people." When you are fighting a civil war and it is necessary to retake population centers in which the rebels are deliberately mixed with the civilian population, yes, you are going to bomb your own people, bomb, them, shell them, whatever. Now the Iraqi air forces is doing the same thing and also with barrel bombs. The Union forces did the same things here in the WBS. they had no aircraft so they did it with artillery and the torch. Yes, the South burned Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. pl

The beaver

@ confusedponderer

Same treatment of Assad when supposedly he has used Chlorine in Damascus: Power and Rice were ready to get the UNHRC on his case (with the help of the one-man Syrian Observatory out of Coventry and Le Monde for the French Govt).

Last week , the Iraqis were complaining that IS has been using Chlorine to attack civilians and army personnel.



After almost a quarter century of fighting (hot and cold) in Iraq, it is quite clear that the whole aim of the USA is to prolong the Middle East Wars forever. Just never allow one tribe or the other to get strong enough to Close the Straits of Hormuz or collapse the House of Saud. The Long War will end when the oil is pumped dry, the American Empire implodes, or Israel exercises the Samson Option.

In the meantime, we are subjected to propaganda and nonsense as America falls apart.


Unless MANPADS have a GPS chip in them that confines their use to a specific region of the world for a specified time interval, then giving them to Jihadists or "freedom fighters" or whatever, is fraught with danger to civil aviation worldwide.



When I read the interview with General Allen I read it the same way and I actually thought this interview may hint to that the US government coming a bit closer to reality. When I read words like "we will ultimately" and "We have to create" I read them as "there does not exist."

Read in this way Then General Allen's comments would read like this:

- "There does not exist" the credible force that the Assad government ultimately has to acknowledge and recognize.
- "There does not exist" so much credibility within the moderate Syrian opposition at a political level . . . that they earn their spot at the table when the time comes for the political solution.

To me such statements seem like a bit of progress relative to statements like "Assad has lost all legitimacy and will fall soon", Before any negotiation can be hold, Assad has to step down" or "We recognize the SNC as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people."

I remember well that in 2012 the Syrian government was trying hard to identify or cobble together any kind of credible opposition truely representing the insurgency or at least sizeable chunks of the insurgency so the Syrian government could make a peace deal or peace deals with them. But the effort to find or make a credible Syrian opposition proved for the Syrian government to be as hard as for the US government. The Syrian opoosition proved just to be too devided and extremist.

What's left of these Syrian efforts is permanent outreach to all local insurgent communities in the hope to manage to get here or there a reconciliation agreement and end fighting thereby at that location. But even that turned out to be hard recently. Each week some 100 ppl give up the fight against the government and settle their files, but most of opposition seems just to be various takfiri outfits allied with Al Qaeda or led by the same school of thought as Al Qaeda.

Good luck to General Allen with his effort to build a credible Syrian opposition. I'm sure the Syrian government would be quite happy if he manages to cobble together a credible opposition, so that the Syrian government can make a peace deal with them. But I doubt he will manage to do it.


Dear Colonel and Nightsticker

Placing a retired XXXX at the head of an effort that has a high probability of being a disaster is an administration responsibility avoidance tactic, consistent with there still being no real strategy from the top - and the top knows and doesn't care. This has happened with this admin perviously (ironically, name remains the same), so XXXX means substitute in some title. His job is to spout positive sounding ideas with no grounding in reality, and so far he is doing his job well.

As to whether that serves national interests......

JM Gavin

Regarding GEN Allen, there are Kool Aid drinkers, Kool Aid dealers, Kool Aid distributors, and also the guy who owns the Kool Aid factory. GEN Allen owns several.



Because we like to lie to ourselves that a 500 pound bomb dropped on a house won't level the block because its "GPS guided".

The Children's Crusade in DC believe that if you stick enough tech on something it becomes magically friendly to anyone not on the wrong side of history.

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