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15 October 2015


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Patrick Bahzad

I agree about the attritional dimension of the current operations.

Given that this is the phase we're in, it is possible that R+5 won't register significant territorial gains initially (although it seems the Rastan enclave is about to be cut through its middle).

Once depletion of frontline units has reached a certain level, organised defense and resistance collapses. As a side note, this rule of thumb has even been put into a mathematical formula by Israeli defense analysts for their campaign against Hamas in Gaza. Such metrics apply in a slightly modified variation to open asymetric warfare as well. The unknown factor is the ability of the rebels to get resupplied in troops, equipment, food and ammunition from their logistics basis further North.

We can therefore expect the ongoing Russian airstrikes to intensify over the weeks to come and there may even be possible operations behind rebel lines, if R+5 wants to cut off SR coming through Turkish border.

These factors combined will determine the length of the current engagement. Of course, in attrition warfare, the sword cuts both ways, i.e. if R+5 loses more resources than can be replaced to follow through with their operation, that would be it. Doesn't look the most likely scenario to me though.

Finally, with regard to tank warfare, I think the point that was made was that urban environments are no "tank country". NW Syria on the other hand is an area where infantry focused combined arms + CAS would be definitely appropriate.

As a reminder of the way attrition warfare has been conducted in recent years, I would like to point to the Libya campaign of 2011, where no progress seemed to be achieved for months and then the Ghaddafi's army suddenly collapsed as a result of a sustained campaign of airstrikes combined with basic light infantry advances and SOF action behind enemy lines. Not the same, but just as an analogy ...

r whitman

I ask this question seriously since my military experience occurred 60 years ago in Louisiana and West Texas and is not valid here. PL, PB, b, TTG "When do you expect Eastern Syria to be cleared of rebel forces and fully in the hands of the present govt of Syria, given the build up of Russian, Iranian, Iraqi, and maybe Cuban forces"??


re "metrics": is the targets/sorties ratio this guy talks about a meaningful indicator of the shape of things?


r Whitman

IMO first the R+5 must win in the west and destroy as much of the jihadi movements as possible. pl



IMO a good analogy is an old brick wall against which you push and push until it begins to lean away from the pushing. At first it tilts slowly but as the pressure continues it leans farther and faster until it collapses quite suddenly. There are many examples in history. British 8th Army ground down Panzer Army Afrika for days at Alamein until it was thought the Germans were weakened enough and then the assault and subsequent pursuit began. The pursuit lasted for a thousand miles. Similarly Fat Norman Schwarzkopf attrited the Iraqis for months in Desert Storm until both his instinct and DIA told him that the Iraqis were at something like 50% capacity. Then he gave word and Operation Desert Saber began. This, of course, has nothing to do with the COIN fantasy. pl

The Twisted Genius

There is, of course, more to this grinding phase than just killing the jihadis. The R+5 forces have seized the initiative all along the "front" including around Damascus and near the Gaza border. This is surely stressing the jihadi logistics and command and control systems. I've read some Russian reporting that they've intercepted frantic jihadi communications about running low on ammo and vehicles. This is what may lead to a sudden deep collapse.

I still think cutting the jihadi MSRs into Turkey will be key to beating them. Air interdiction will help, but it's not a complete solution. I can see Spetznaz teams operating there soon if they're not there already. That northern group of forces building in Latakia that Pat Bazhad pointed out as where the next "big one" is gonna come from could be aimed at sealing the border first up the Afrin Kurds and then east to Jarabulus rather than aiming for Idlib and Aleppo. They they can reduce a logistics starved Aleppo at their liesure. That would also take Turkey out of the fight... unless they do something flat crazy.



There may be enough force available to have two axes of advance from the Latakia lodgment. pl


Col: Thank you, PB, and TTG for a whole string of great posts on Syria.

The Twisted Genius


Judging by the rate of Iranian reinforcements pouring into the area, you're probably right. I heard about 1,500 have already flown into Damascus and moved north to Latakia. I'm sure there will be many more in the coming weeks.


Patrick Bahzad talked about the use of this thermobaric weapon and now we know it'll be mounted on a tank chassis and used in the fight. The mobile multiple rocket launcher - TOS-1A - mobile rocket launcher "with thermobaric weapons which can destroy eight city blocks in one strike". Some of the video in the link below seems to be this weapon used in aerial strikes against ISIS camps. What a wicked weapon and perfect for this fight against ISIS.



@r whitman "When do you expect Eastern Syria to be cleared of rebel forces and fully in the hands of the present govt of Syria, given the build up of Russian, Iranian, Iraqi, and maybe Cuban forces"??

I have seen no confirmation for "Cuban forces".

My guestimate:
If it is possible to seal the Turkish border within three or four month as planned then the cleanup and securing of west Syria will be finished about a year from now. The campaign to take on the Islamic State core by SAA ground troops (i.e.Raqqa) would only then start. That campaign against IS will have to be coordinated with Baghdad's campaign. When the attack east starts IS will have been under precision bombing for about a year. Its heavy stuff will have mostly be gone and the firepower of artillery and tanks will overwhelm it pretty fast. The big cities under IS in Iraq are a more difficult problem.

@Pat, Patrick - I have heard that the Latakia group (which already has two parallel running axis, one in the plain one in the mountains) is supposed to bypass Idleb and to try to go further north to the border. But that depends on the other major thrust through the Ghaib plain along the M5. That will have to make it to Idleb and isolate it before the Latakia group can pass it. Otherwise the group going to the border would have significant enemy forces in its back.

But before all that we need a decent break through the defense line in Ghaib plane. The attack to achieve that has not even started.

Ishmael Zechariah


IMO "Turkey" will not do something crazy. "turkey" might try, but cannot. All depends on what the primary controllers of the Wahhabis decide to do. We think Turkey is a bit player in this game.

I would be happy to read your opinions about who is truly controlling the Wahhabis.
Ishmael Zechariah


Patrick Bahzad,

"The unknown factor is the ability of the rebels to get resupplied in troops, equipment, food and ammunition from their logistics basis further North.

We can therefore expect the ongoing Russian airstrikes to intensify over the weeks to come and there may even be possible operations behind rebel lines, if R+5 wants to cut off SR coming through Turkish border."

I agree with you completely, I have expressed this opinion in your previous post about the new Syrian offensive, that Syrian+Russian+Iranian primary objective should be the capture and closing of the border crossings into Turkey to starve out the Jihadis of all colors in the area of Hums, Hama, Idlib and Aleppo.

The amount of human, contraband and materiel traffic over these areas are not quantitively authenticated anywhere, but some free press, and a few dedicated journalists here in Turkey have been screaming about it for years.

Wounded ISIS fighters, and any of similar stripes have been getting free treatment within Turkey for years, according to a high up doctor friend of mine with a lot of connections. Taxi driver from Hatay I chatted with the other day, told me about even more that is going to and fro for years. Surely anecdotes, and say so, but not to be ignored completely. Unless the border into Turkey is completely sealed off, friends of ISIS and Nusra in Turkey will keep the lifeline operational, and will not choke it off under any circumstances and pressure.



"Fat Norman". Lmbo nice one.


Yes, b, makes sense. They have to attack along the Turkish border on their left flank and drive all the way to Azaz with all they can muster. Not waste any time and resources on Idlib, and Aleppo, the writing is on the wall, ISIS knows about it, they all do, like we all always did. No support from Turkey and the Turkish border, no oxygen for the liver eaters, plain and simple.



I had several notorious conflicts with him. One had to do with "effective warning time" as opposed to "warning time." I was the JCS intelligence "planner" for the contingency plan with which we eventually went to war in the Gulf. FN and his boys wanted 21 days effective warning time in the plan so that they could get their deterrent force in front of the Iraqis. We lowly DIA scum insisted that they would never get more than a week. At the urging of my people I said "f---k it." I won't sign off on the plan with more than a weeks warning as an assumption. He screamed and yelled, got red in the face and talked to my boss, the director of DIA who was FN's classmate at WP. We won. there was less than a week's warning in the event. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I agree.

Evidently the press in Turkey are now blaming Iran for the activities of PKK as well.


And similarly, in urban combat, the Russians in the last days of Battle of Berlin used huge Stalin tanks and heavy gauge indirect artillery pieces as battering rams, as well as the American forces in Aachen 155 mm Long Toms, and Germans in Budapest King Tigers to level off entire blocks before moving in with specialized Infantry/Engineer teams. And in the case of Syria, add in UAVs and all the satellite input, I don't see the Jihadis rushing into a quickening.


BM, there is a comprehensive news black out in Turkey right now, some opposition media outlets have declared that they will not obey it, since it is unlawful. People in Turkey in general have no idea what is going on. Not that they did much before, but hey, Fascism wears sneakers.

Margaret Steinfels

The Jihadi dream of another Afghanistan: http://bit.ly/1G80Tz0
From al-Monitor...a pr release it appears.



After considering the comments of the gang here, it seems to me that there should be three axes of advance in NW Syria with the following prioritization: 1 - North to the Turkish border and then NE along the border to the Kurdish area NW of Aleppo. Purpose being to cut LOCs in and out of Hatay Province, Turkey. A further advance will be necessary to seal the whole Turkish border north of Aleppo. 2 - On the line from Hama north in the Ghab Plain to help restore internal communications to Damascus and to chew up as much jihadi personnel and materiel as possible. 3 - NE through Jisr al-Sughur to fix as many jihadi/unicorn forces in place and prevent them moving towards the other R+5 axes of advance. pl


@Ishmael. What are Taycip Erdogan's options to fatten his vote on Nov 1? that is if he doesn't reschedule it.

The Twisted Genius


I wish I knew who was calling the shots. I guess there are quite a few Gulf sheiks and princess with deep pockets at the bottom of this. It would be nice to know who Erdogan is talking to and what level of influence those Wahhabis have on Erdogan.



I'm not sure what you're looking at, but the video I saw at the link looks like conventional bombs to me.

Patrick Bahzad


50 % is actually is ratio that I was taught resulted in total collapse of any organised military organisation.

I didnt't know that was the magic mark as well during DS. Guess it was way above my paygrade back then !

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