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21 October 2015


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Babak Makkinejad


A discussion on Syria:


alba etie

I am wondering if the very recent ( yesterday , today ) unannounced trip to Moscow by President Assad might be the first signs of the coming political settlement in the Syrian Civil War ?

Willy B


Do you believe that the intensity of Russian air strikes, from 40-80 per day, could help cause the military collapse of the rebel groups?



What is described by PB in this SITREP is the "grinding" process I wrote of a few days back. The fact that TOW teams have to be moved back and forth between Hama and Aleppo is evidence of shortages. In addition to that these teams are vulnerable to air attack when moving. pl

Patrick Bahzad

Not in the immediate future IMO.

Before getting to the bargaining table, they want to achieve a large military victory, which hasn't materialized yet. They are probably discussing the next steps and are trying to formalize the Russian led international coalition and potentially try and bring in other players.

It's also a show, stating that Putin is the MAN and that Assad is someone with whom it is possible to negotiate, once his military goals have been achieved.

Patrick Bahzad

The RuAF strategy seems threefold and not aimed at achieving a direct breakdown of rebel defenses. However, the increase in the pace and number of strikes is likely to soften rebel positions and weigh in on morale, thus contributing to a possible collapse. See the libya campaign in 2011 as comparison. Took almost 6 months to break gaddafi's army. Don't expect the campaign to last that long though.

As mentioned in earlier posts, this "grinding down" of enemy's positions and resources also means that this is a battle aimed not just at retaking territory, but at destroying the opponents military means. A lot will depend of resupplies of rebels in men and weapons.



Do you think the Russians will bring more aircraft and crew into Syria to increase the volume of sorties? Or are there enough to achieve their short term military objectives?

Now that the US has a deconfliction agreement with Russia which I read as will not interfere with Russian activity, how do you think the Saudi/Turkey/Gulfie axis will ratchet up their support of the liver-eaters?



Have supply lines from Turkey been broken ?



Have supply lines from Turkey been broken ?

J Villain

Patrick from what I have read the "good terrorists" have been mostly routed from the high grounds around the Ghab plain. If that is true do you think that the Ghab plain will be one of the first areas that the rebels will abandon as indefensible if they need to start making A or B decisions?


PB et al.
If any of you know I wondered how hostile, to helicopters, the high ground to either side of the M4 heading NE to Bidama would be. This area was a triangle that PB highlighted earlier as one to watch and there was some discussion on how useful tanks would be. It seemed, to my non-military mind, that this would need to be controlled if the aim was to use the M4 for ground forces destined for the communication nexus at Jisr al-Shughur. Just viewing maps it seemed a candidate for bombing, gunships, transport helicopters for ground forces - in that order. I noted yesterday in SANA (I think) they were saying that fortified positions along the Eastern side of the M4 had been hit hard by jets. As a secondary, related, question what type of hardware are the R+5 most short of?
With thanks for the updates, and comments.



Some further take on what Russia's recent moves mean from Pepe Escobar:



alba etie

Allow me to add my 2 cents. I'ld see the visit of Assad in Moscow also partly as preparation for the 4-partite-meeting between Russia, the US, the Saudis and Turkey to be held on foreign minister level Friday in Vienna. Since Moscow is the party representing the view of the Syrian government there, it seems to me likely that Putin wanted Assad's direct input for this meeting. The meeting of Putin with Assad will also make Russian claims credible if they say there that they speak not only in the name of Russia at that bargaining table, but also in the name of the Syrian government, whose positions are this and that, and Russia knows these Syrian positions for sure because Putin just met with Assad.




Perhaps we should all be surprised at the rate of activity.
Lavrov, Kerry to hold Syria talks Friday with Saudi, Turkish counterparts: Moscow -


I found it interesting that the Russians are apparently getting a phenomenal volume of information, up to 800 targets per day. See Fisk in the Independent:

"Syrian commanders are now setting the coordinates for almost every Russian air strike. They were originally giving between 200 and 400 coordinates a night. Now the figure sometimes reaches 800."


It demonstrates the difference between US attempts to influence events on the ground in Iraq and Syria with no real partner, and the Russian approach. The US is reliant on what? SIGINT and whatever scraps they can get from their unicorns? While the Assad government can collect from all those Syrians who despise ISIS and Nusra and the rest of them. Basically those Syrians trust Assad more than they will ever trust the US and its coalition.

Will Smith

Here just realized video from
Syria, Aleppo - Syrian Army Kwieres Kweres Operation. Looks as they have to clean some IED's 1st.


Bill Herschel

Why the Saker is taking the extremely conservative position he is, I do not know. But this is positively pessimistic. Mr. Bahzad do you have any sort of response to these points? My own perspective is that Putin is the only rational actor in the theater. If that is an axe to grind, I grind it. Otherwise, I am not remotely expert.



In Syria they are in the grinding phase. This is always hard to report on because it just seems like endless battles and nothing seems to happen.

In the end it depends on the moral, manpower and resources of each side. If the Syrian Army (etc) can keep up the pressure and has sufficient reserves of troops and supplies plus the moral to continue it will win.
But it will take time for AN(etc) to run out of men and ammo(etc). At this stage, being the attackers, the SA will suffer larger losses and use up ammo faster.

This where air support, properly done, can make a huge difference with CAS and interdiction. AN(etc) may have large ammo dumps hidden away but if it cannot get to them or ship stuff from them to the front they are effectively useless.

Careful coordination of the attacks, where, when, what with are key elements. Finding the weak spots, stretching the enemy and so on are also critical. Managing logistics and reserves are also critical for the Syrian side, pointless having superior forces (etc) if you cannot get them to the right places on time.

These sorts of things tend to go on until either the defenders totally crack or the attackers give up.

On the strategic, tactical levels and the men and material side the SA has the advantages, but what about the moral side? Equally what about the moral side of the defenders who haven't, to date, been through this sort of coordinated meat grinder thing? Both those are unknowns.

The defenders have the disadvantage of being a 'hard crust', wth little (as far as I can see) defence in depth. Therefore if they crack, it will happen very quickly at some point, switching from a grinding to a chase. But this grinding could continue for weeks.

For examples of this sort of thing the Al Alamein and Normandy battles (not the US accounts of Normandy by the way they are all piffe) are useful guides.

A lot of, particularly western, people struggle to understand this sort of war. After years and years of COIN type stuff with lots of small, sharp, short engagements, this 'real war' stuff is not in their mindset.

The Twisted Genius

Bill Herschel,

The Saker seems impatient. Sure there's a little give and take on the battlefield, but the SAA ends up with the final take. They are moving with deliberation, thus avoiding the increased casualties of a headlong assault against prepared positions. That fighting style has allowed the SAA to remain a cohesive force for three plus years. The progress has been sufficient enough to allow Assad to travel to Moscow this week. As Colonel Lang pointed out, this grinding could take a while.

I read the Latakia civil airport will be turned over for military operations soon. That will allow more aircraft to operate in theater. I also suggest there is more going on in the border regions that we can see, like strenuous raid/ambush activity by Spetznaz and/or IRGC. As Patrick B pointed out, there is a several thousand strong Iranian force that we have lost sight of that may be in Latakia preparing for some kind of offensive action. Patience,my son, patience.

J Villain

Ever since the wars in Kuwait and the open stages of the Iraq war people think a couple of hundred miles a day is how wars are fought.

As for airports the SAA is getting close to liberating a couple of them. Kuweires being a prime example. It will be a while before the Russians will want to occupy them but the Syrians may want to stick some of their helicopters in there soonish. If they do they could help clean up the neighbourhood and make it safe for the Russians to bring in artillery and other weapons to do more clean up.

Bill Herschel

Thank you for your reply TTG. I agree that there must be Spetznaz on the ground in Syria. I don't think they have forgotten Chechnya. And I do forget how carefully this offensive must have been planned and the intelligence behind it.

Did you ever sail on Peconic Bay? It certainly is one of God's wonders, and I wish I had known about it a long time ago. Einstein sailed out of Southold when he spent a summer or summers here. Surely a sign of genius. My wife got a canoe because she insisted. What a waste. I ended up not getting a Sunfish which would have been more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Next summer. End off topic.

alba etie

Thanks for your reply -

Bill Herschel

Haven't read Krauthammer in probably three years. But out of idle (a problem of mine) curiosity, I read his latest on Syria.

Key passage: "Russian planes roam free over Syria attacking Assad’s opposition as we stand by helpless. Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of state beseeches the Russians to negotiate “de-conflict” arrangements — so that we and they can each bomb our own targets safely. It has come to this."

Planes roaming free seem to have truly captured the imagination of the inside-the-beltway crowd. In fact, aside from Bernie Sanders and the President, is there any person inside the Beltway who does not want the United States, repeat the United States, to create a no-fly zone over Syria?

Never mind that there has been absolutely no, bupkis, gornish authorization for the use of force in Syria. None. Democracy? That's for towel heads. We do things our way.

But Krauthammer, I am sure, has applauded sky roaming in the past. Applauded until his hands were sore. And the jets that he was applauding weren't American jets. So why can't Israel, with perhaps the most vaunted air force in the world, funded to the tune of billions of dollars by American taxpayers, impose a no-fly zone against those roaming Russians?

Of course, my answer is based on no, bupkis, gornish military knowledge, but I would put a lot of money on the answer that they can't. So the Russian air force becomes a stick to beat Obama with. Very good. But the duck is lame. The horse is dead. One wonders when Krauthammer will accuse Clinton letting Russian jets roam free. Tough to do, when Clinton is also calling for a no-fly zone.

Crying Obama this, Obama that, is getting very close to its use by date. Enjoy it while it lasts.


This report reminds me of similar PR newspeak offered to the press/public by the US Military during Vietnam, it is only missing the body count but that is inferred. Even the deadpan stoic appeal of given sufficient time the enemy will be worn down by superior power and resolve, victory is imminent.

The reality of the conflict may be quite different if other reports about this offensive are valid. They seem to show that the offensive is at best stalled and at worst a fiasco with rebel groups penetrating the Axis of Resistance lines and the Islamic State expanding their areas of control by taking advantage of the bombing of their rebel opponents.

Putin's summoning of Assad to the Kremlin and hosting new Transition Government deal talks seems to support the failure conclusion but the killing will continue.



Let's not kid ourselves - Obama is another globalist like the neocohens. He hasn't been keeping us out of anything - he just doesn't care.

Trump is the only candidate who doesn't want to start 7 wars in the MENA zone on January 22nd, 2017 and then import a gorillion hostile Muslim "refugees" to the US.

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