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02 June 2015


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different clue

Unless Suleimani hopes to demoralize the ISIStas ahead of whatever action by announcing a "surprise", hasn't he risked spoiling or at least reducing the level of the "surprise" by announcing its existence ahead of time?

Surely the surprisingest surprise is the surprise whose future existence no one has imagined and whose future occurrence no one has been warned to expect.

Suleimani is smarter than I am, so I am sure Suleimani knows this. So why has Suleimani warned about the upcoming delivery of a surprise?

FB Ali

What Assad's military command (and Soleimani) have to decide is: which is the greater immediate threat - Jaish al-Fata or IS?

If the former, they will not reinforce their troops in Aleppo, but instead let IS chew up the Jaish forces there. Even if IS is seen as the greater threat longer term, Assad is so weakened currently that he cannot fight them both. It is the immediate threat that he (and Soleimani) will concentrate on.

Also, since IS seeks to take over territory from both the rebels and the government, it makes sense to let them wear each other down. That is perhaps why Assad's air force has not seriously impeded the IS move against Aleppo.

Which brings up the question of what the US is doing with its air power. As has been pointed out by many observers, minimal effort was expended against IS when it was taking Ramadi. Nor was any used against IS's move to Aleppo. Compare this to the air effort expended in support of the Kurds, both when they were under IS attack and during their counter-offensive.

There is obviously a method to all this. Whether it is a good strategy remains an open question.


fb ali

My crystal ball is cloudy. pl


Beware the source!

The original piece is from Hariri/Saudi infested NOW Lebanon, certainly not know for straight reporting.

It is based on Al Quds al-Arabi, Al Jazeerah and AlArabia, all Saudi/Qatari outlets which are more known for unfounded rumors and propaganda about Syria than for news. There is also the usual "defector" who, while no longer in Syria, knows all the intimate details about the Syrian and Iranian government. Sure.

The story smells. Strongly. It is, in my view, a hoax.


Col. I think it is important to track where Soleimani actually is to see what he is doing on the theory that if you want to determine what Napoleon is going to attack next you follow where he goes. This report says that as of 1 June Soleimani was with militia in Anbar and meeting in Baghdad http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/06/qods-force-commander-soleimani-reportedly-spotted-in-anbar-province.php Also 28 May there was another senior Iranian commander killed in the area. http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2015/05/iranian-military-commander-killed-fighting-in-ramadi.php Also fyi ISIS is using control of a dam to lower the water level between Ramadi and Fallujah which could prelude an IS offensive. I could be wrong but his presence is a reasonable indicator of nearterm local activity.

Patrick Bahzad

There are so many possibilities, I wouldn't leave any sleep on it. Fact is, he's often been in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq when the need did arise, sot the only conclusion I would say is beyond doubt, is that something is up.
Actually, this is very surprising either, as the SAA, Hezbollah and other foreign fighters + IRGC advisers are not going to stand idly by as JaN and allied groups push closer to Alawi enclave in North-Western Syria.
Quite possibly he might also have announced something in the North-West of Syria, to justify for his trip to Syria, but might at the same time prepare for some operation against ISIS groups around Palmyra, Raqqa, Deir-el-Zor, as a way of draining ISIS troops from main theatre of operation in Iraq, using the same tactics as the "Islamic State" (starting an operation in one location and then almost simultaneously another one hundreds of miles away to stretch enemy forces and disrupt their coordination or command & control).
Just two possibilities.


"There is obviously a method to all this". It is not "obvious" to me. That is, if you are referring to US "methods"/plans. I am not sure I have seen a "method", other than political spin on the home-front, since 2002. And to the extent I can identify a "method" on the home-front, serendipitously, I see madness as well.


The mainstream media is recycling the message that "Assad is allied with ISIS". The Borg in action again.

Slate Magazine:

"In a series of tweets in English and Arabic on Monday, the official account of the U.S. Embassy in Syria accused the regime of aiding ISIS’s campaign"

Huffington Post:

"The fighting came a day after U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said authorities heard reports that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad launched airstrikes supporting the Islamic State group's advance.

"Beyond that, we have long seen that the regime avoids ISIL lines, in complete contradiction to the regime's claims publicly to be fighting ISIL," Harf said, using an alternate acronym for the group."

The Beaver

Brig Ali,

Did you see the UN Ambassador on CBC yesterday?


Thanks for the informative blog. I'd love to hear opinions as to where Russia might be positioning itself here. Recent murmurings from Lavrov seem to indicate Russia is content to stand on the sidelines talking smack about the coalition, rather than taking an active hand in helping their ally Syria. Or perhaps the help has been offered in a more covert way, in the form of the military equipment they're selling to Iraq?

Thanks for any & all opinions/info.


AFP is reporting that 7,000 Iranians and Iraqis have been deployed to Damascus.




So the Caliph just gained 50,000 new enemies who aren't anything like the new model Iraqi army. If nothing else they have one more problem to plan for without mal-deploying their force to badly. ISIS can't defend everywhere at the same time nor risk too much concentration of forces. Interesting times afoot. I wonder what the airpower IRGC has to bring with them?

Medicine Man

What is the quality of Iran's Qods troops?

FB Ali

By "method" I wasn't referring to any over-arching, top-down, US strategy. There hasn't been any for a long time.

What I meant was that a case can be made that what the US is doing in Iraq and Syria is not just reacting daily or blundering around. There may be a purpose behind their moves.

Take Iraq. I'm sure there are many Americans in senior operational positions who are very unhappy with the US having just walked away from Iraq after spending so much blood and treasure in the attempt to remake the country (and the region). They now have a chance to remedy some of that, especially the establishment of a mainly Shia (pro-Iran) government in Baghdad. They would like to dilute and weaken it, making the country more dependent on the US.

The obvious way would be by empowering the Sunnis, but the Abadi government is not letting the US deal directly with the Sunnis. Besides, there aren't many Sunnis left outside IS-controlled areas. So, another way of achieving that objective would be to let IS win a few and knock the Shia government and its forces around a bit. That would, they hope, force it to depend more on the US and comply with its wishes.

As for Syria, again there must be many Americans in senior positions who wanted the US to bomb Assad and his troops, and were sorely disappointed when Obama backed off. They know that the Free Syrians are just a PR exercise, and pose no threat to Assad in the foreseeable future. So they started using them as a fig leaf to channel arms and supplies to those actually fighting Assad - the jihadis of AQ etc. Now, when they see the IS moving into Syria in a big way, they are quite content to let them build up their strength so as to take on Assad.

The above are reasonable hypotheses. Whether they are actually happening, I don't know. What I do know is that, whether method or bungling is behind these actions, they seem a pretty crazy way to operate.

FB Ali

I'm afraid, after a couple of minutes, I couldn't take any more of Ms Samantha Power.

The Beaver

Hé Hé

I was expecting this reaction and that's why I did not comment in my post.


Alistair Crooke claims that the JAN will be reinforced by up to 10,000 jihadists:
“The talk now is all about whether Syria and Iraq will end up as divided states. The impetus for such speculation derives firstly from the latest Saudi, Qatari and Turkish joint resolve to mount huge numbers of jihadists on Syria's borders. According to two senior political figures I spoke to, up to 10,000+ Wahhabist/Salafists (predominantly An-Nusra/Al Qaeda) have been gathered by the intelligence services of these latter states, mostly non-Arabs from Chechnya, Turkmenistan, etc. Plainly, Washington is aware of this (massively expensive) Saudi maneuver and equally plainly it is turning a blind eye to it. “


Oryx Blog is an interesting site; has more detailed battle accounts of Syria than I've seen elsewhere. The most recent:

The Islamic State's spring offensive: Hulayhilah

The Islamic State's spring offensive: al-Sukhna

The battle for Tadmur-Palmyra

Babak Makkinejad

Middle East and the analogy with Europe before World War II




The Russian naval port is Tartous, south of the larger commercial port of Lattakia about 75km.
Russian official usage classifies the installation as a Material-Technical Support Point and not a "base".

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