« The Syria War is all about Saudi Arabia | Main | The Situation in Rojava - TTG »

30 October 2015


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


"they will go for a negotiated settlement if it suits their interests, but they will most definitely revert to decisive conventional military action, if they feel they need to push their agenda."

Who would have thought, do they still teach this in negotiation school of military-political strategy? Bullets on the ground, in perfect harmony with bullets on the power point presentation. Is this strategy ever utilized when there is a war on, from our side?


Two points:

The assault on the Aleppo Line of Communications was coordinated at a higher level than just Nusra and IS. Nusra and IS hate each other and someone with power over both must have told them what to do.

The assault "coincided" with a complete stop of U.S. air attacks in east Syria since the 22nd which allowed IS to move significant forces westward towards the LoC and to attack on the 24th.

Elijah Magnier wrote about it today with the view from the Damascus operations room
Google translate:

On the fall of the numbers of airstrikes see my site

The Russian air force used the attacks on the LoC to chew up a significant number of IS fighters who were, naturally, out in the open in rather flat and empty land.


On the recent attacks in the South.

These were, as far as I can tell, preemptive against a Saudi planned attack on Damascus. This according to Al Akhbar which is somewhat near to the resistance in Lebanon.


It was revealed two weeks ago that Saudi Arabia and Jordan had planned to conduct a blitz on the capital Damascus through the Southern provinces of Daraa and Quneitra after coordinating with the Saudi-backed terrorist Leader Zahran Aloush who is in Eastern Ghouta, the newspaper added.

The Russians who had been informed of Saudi Arabia's plan and after checking with the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement's field information, the Russian fighter jets changed their direction from the North to Southern Syria and pounded the terrorists' positions in Jobar and Eastern Ghouta of the Damascus countryside, specially the towns of Marj al-Sultan and Deir al-Asafir, it said.

Al-Akhbar wrote that the Russian airstrikes resulted in the destruction of terrorists' command centers and foiling the terrorists' attempt to capture Damascus.

Today's attack on east Ghouta was part of this preemptive move. A meeting of senior folks of Zahran Aloush's gang was hit presumably by a multiple rocket attack with the usual subjects claiming 50 civilians killed while pictures circulating on Twitter show only killed men in military fatigues.


Obama is putting more boots on the ground in east Syria who will be covered by A-10 and F-15 from Turkey.

One wonders how this invasion of a sovereign country is legally justifiable.

The supposed plan seems to be an attack on Raqqa but McClatchy reported just two days ago that neither the Kurds nor the few Sunni Arabs the U.S. wants to use as cannon fodder have any intent to attack that town.

"New allies in northern Syria don’t seem to share U.S. goals "
The stated U.S. aim is to oust the Islamic State from its de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. But if the Shammar tribal militia, the biggest in Hasaka province, is any example, many Arab forces on the ground have a different agenda. For that matter, so does the Kurdish People’s Protection Force, or YPG, which dominates this area and has worked closely with the United States since the siege last year of the border town of Kobani.

I see this move by Obama as a counter move to Russia's support for the Syrian government.

Whatever the real purpose may be I do not know. Will a U.S. defended "no-fly zone" over Kobane and surrounding cover a new Islamic State supply line to Turkey when the R5+1 cut IS other supply line?


Mr. Bahzad:
Many thanks for your work. The framing of the Vienna negotiations along the lines of the Minsk talks, I think, is exact. To be more precise, would you go further and say that -- to push the similarities -- the negotiations are a tactic to buy time, since the alliance opposed to R+5 is clearly on the defensive and itself divided?


Obama to Send Troops (and special forces) to Syria

I can hear that miserable little Napoleonic SecDef from here: "Screw international law! Screw WWIII! What could possibly go wrong?!"



What happened to the supposed agreement between Russia and Jordan? IMO the grinding process continues with significant losses continuing for the rebels, losses that will likely destroy them in the face of R+6's growing effectiveness and strength. pl

Patrick Bahzad


I don't believe that JaN and ISIS desert warfare operation around Aleppo needed any kind of coordination further up the food chain. You're suggesting a kind of conspiracy theory whereby there is a puppeteerer in the background orchestrating both groups' actions.

I think that is misguided. A stop in US airtrikes maybe, but do you know how many strikes the US have been flying on average recently ? When you go from almost zero to plain zero, there isn't much to read from.

JaN simply agreed to share the burden of the attack and agreed to a timeline. Big deal. No need for conspiracy theories to surface again.

The link you're providing for may be right, but you're pushing the envelope a little in suggesting this could have been an operation scheduled to take place recently and prevented in a last ditch effort by the RuAF. The alleged attack on Damascus was planned as early as June of this year, that is 6 months ago.

Therefore there is nothing preemptive about the current Russian airstrikes there. The whole Russian deployment into syria might have been preemptive, but the current strikes have nothing to do with it, at least not directly. It is more of a "clear and hold" that is going on.

Right about "Jaish al-Islam" being a main target. No surprise there. Seems there is a string of targeted killings among mid to senior management in rebel ranks. Same in NW Syria. interesting development, might be worth looking into ?

You're right about Raqqa. Seems highly unlikely anybody will move into that city, any time soon. I see this more as some kind of posturing by the administration. Trying to put a few actions behind their words. But even if they don't go into Raqqa, anything that will make NE Syria safe from ISIS is welcome.

On a more positive note, it could be the starting point to a shift from a mere "containment" to a "roll back" strategy, but i doubt it.

Trey N

"Will a U.S. defended "no-fly zone" over Kobane and surrounding cover a new Islamic State supply line to Turkey?"

Isn't Kobane held now by the YPG? Why would they allow a new ISIS LOC to open thru territory they control? Or are you saying that the Kurds' patron, the US, would order them to open such a lifeline to the liver-eaters, and they would have to obey ??

Since the Kurds hate Turkey and ISIS equally, why would they essentially throw in with them other than at the behest of the US?

Even more confusing than usual for this part of the world....

Patrick Bahzad

Bismarck used to say: "practising diplomacy without the power of your armies is like playing music without instruments"

He was German and kicked our ass in 1870 so can't say I'm fond of him, but he was a great statesman, got to admit.

Patrick Bahzad

I don't think that line in b's comment can't be taken too seriously.

First of all ISIS LOC is not cut off yet, and if it is they still have smaller roads further north for now, but it would seriously disrupt the flow of goods and cash. If ISIS is cut off all together from their main LOC, they gonna have to reconquer it or find another one, simple really.

If they got to find another one, the most likely is Qamishli in NE Syria, as ISIS is closest to that border post. Means entering YPG territory and with the current US reinforcements coming in, that doesn't sound too good a plan.

Other possibility, come to an agreement about goods' transit trough Iraqi Kurd territory, based on paying a "transit tax" I suppose. That is possible, ISIS used to make deals with some of the Iraqi Kurds. Might start again if it is in both their interest.

Realistically, I think those are the only options, assuming of course their current main LOC is lost and interdicted.



You imply that the US (WH, CENTCOM and CIA)deliberately reduced the sortie rate for a few days to enable IS to move west. So far as I know the sortie rate was low all over Iraq in that period. actually you imply that the US controls Nusra and IS. Is that what you think? Really? pl



Thanks for your insightful notes. They are very useful for laymen wanting to follow what's actually happening on the battlefield.

Do you see RuAF air attacks increasing in volume? Are there other airfields becoming operational?

There were many reports of Suleimani addressing large Iranian, Iraqi and Afghan militia. Have they been deployed yet or are they still massing for a big thrust somewhere?


"but do you know how many strikes the US have been flying on average recently "

Yes. The numbers from Military Times are on my site.

It went from 4+/day in September/October to 0+/day since Oct 22. That is a significant decrease and it came "just in time" for a coordinated LoC attack.

We know that the U.S. supported FSA was more or less just a weapon transport service between the CIA and Nusra. This for years. We know that the U.S. does not fully attack IS. The U.S. bombing is around its margins, not on core targets. There is nothing conspiratorial in assuming that some coordination, through the Saudis or Turks, takes place between the control rooms in Jordan and Turkey and Nusra and IS on the ground.

The CIA is still spending $1 billion/year on regime change in Syria. What is it currently doing if not coordinating the "effective forces" on the ground?


Now where did I see that before?......

Oh, right.


Patrick Bahzad


you are twisting the truth on the edges so it fits your narrative ... The US strike rate in recent days (that means prior to Oct. 22nd, not all over the month of September) was +/- 2 a day ... and it went down to 0 a day for three days, that is the REAL metrics of the airstrikes' ratio.

If you believe that this is a significant decrease in a military campaign such as this, you are much less clever than I thought.

Besides, do you really believe that 2 or 3 (or even 4) airstrikes less is what made the difference in allowing ISIS to shift manpower back into Syria to attack Khanaser ? that is utterly ridiculous !

As for coordinating some 500 guys attacking East and West of a desert road, you think this should go all the way up to KSA or Turkey ? It didn't even go all the way up to Golani and Baghdadi ! you live in a fantasy world if you believe that spin of yours.


I thnk b has a point, though it is more likely that the US saw what was going on and just decided to back off and let it happen. A 'sin of ommission' so to speak.

The alternative is to believe that the US didn't see all that movement of people and equipment, which assumes a supreme level of incompetence by them.

From their point of view not harming IS & AN doing this makes complete sense and all they had to do to help them is...sit back.


Military Times only published the sortie rates for Syria.


The went to zero "just in time".

I do not imply that the U.S. "controls" Nusra and IS. I do imply that the U.S. uses Nusra and IS for its own purposes. That purpose is still regime change in Syria and U.S. control over Iraq.

Obama admitted that much in his interview with Thomas Friedman. He said he let IS grow so he could do regime change against Maliki in Iraq.
The reason, the president added, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.

The U.S. knows at least since 2012 that the FSA is a joke and that the insurgents in Syria are radical Islamic terrorists. Still the CIA kept pumping in a billion/year in weapons and money. That did not went to Nusra or IS? That was not intended? Three years long?

More TOWs are still coming even though it is publicly known that these are solely used to support Nusra attacks. The U.S. (through Saudis and Turks) obviously has the "control" to tell Nusra do this or that and then more TOW will be coming or not.

That is certainly "control" enough to make Nusra take part in a coordinated attack on a vulnerable SAA position.


Jordan did stop the support for the FSA in the south.

But Aloush is a Saudi tool and might have enough ways to get around Jordanian controls.

I agree on the insurgents losses. The bombs will slowly eat them up.

Iran is willing to send more foot soldiers should need arise. There are lots of well trained and unemployed Iranian youth around who would probably go for some decent payment plus the adventure.


I'm fairly new to this site and appreciate the excellent discussions. This question may have been addressed before, but would someone please comment on the capacity of the Russian AF to interdict ISIS vehicle movement to the front? Moon of Alabama reported today that ISIS had used tanks and other heavy weapons in the attempt to close the Syrian army's LOC to Aleppo. Given the relatively open nature of the battlefield and the availability of a range of surveillance options, this seems like a very risky and desperate move. Thoughts?

Patrick Bahzad

in last three days or the RuAF are above 75 strikes/day. For today, they stated 118 strikes carried out (I'm not in a position to confirm or deny that number).

Big difference with Coalition strikes though is that the Russians got to fly only about 50 miles from Latakia to reach their target areas, that means that each plane there can strike several targets due to distances being much shorter than for Coalition aircraft.

Currently this is the main reason why they are able to increase the strike rate. If you take the sorties' rate however, they have hit a ceiling. If they ever want to reach 200 or 300/day, they gonna need the airbases that they have set their eyes on (Kuweires, and Qamishli + extending government perimeter around Deir ez-Zor).

Finally, they can build more airbases or extend current ones in areas under their control, but that takes time.

J Villain

Thanks for the update Patrick.

There is another major push towards Palmyra.


If they manage to take it would block the M20. The M5 is already useless to the horde. That would leave only the #2 into south Syria unless you are going across the desert. Is there a feasible option to capture the #2?

I see Palmyra has a small airport. It is in the desert so I would assume would be defensible. It is out in the middle of no where though. Would it be of value to the military?

If they do take Palmyra do they keep going to the Iraq border or does that become to long of a line to hold at this point?

Patrick Bahzad

I don't think he has a point.

As for "seeing all that movement of people and equipment", who says there was much to see ? This is a battalion moving around in pick-ups in a vast desert area, it's not the Red Army storming Berlin !

Think some people here need a crash-course in military matters, no offence ...

Patrick Bahzad

They are pushing towards Palmyra, for the reasons you mentioned, but it is still a long way to go. Not sure it qualifies as a major push though, but might be turned into one if they sense a weakness there.

However, going into Palmyra at this stage would mean (over-)extending their LOC into the place. So mostly symbolic value, but could be important to show they have taken an archeologic site back from the "barbarians" who wanted to destroy it. In an info-war, that could give them a better press.

Patrick Bahzad

They may have used tanks, they mostly used pick-up trucks though.

Any heavy weaponry might have been there in the desert for a while, a few kilometers away from the frontline, with ISIS fighters living with locals and never getting even close to those tanks unless they mean to use them.

At that point, if you got no aircraft in the air by the time you spot them moving, you not gonna get there in time to hit it.

Simple as that. ISIS has not moved an armoured corps into the desert.


Merely because things happen simultaneously does not mean they are connected. Also, that is an airstrike rate. Airstrikes and sorties are different things. Airstrikes are an inaccurate measure of intent as they require the aircraft to acquire an acceptable target, and our rules of engagement are extremely conservative. If you are at an already low rate, you can go to zero without causation.

In statistics, this is a variation of the "bear in the woods" problem. It goes like this. Let's say you live in a state where on average, one person is attacked by a bear per year. Suddenly, your bear population grows by 100%, but that year, zero people are attacked by bears. Newspapers write stories about how the increase in bears has probably made them more friendly, and less likely to attack. No, the reason is that zero bear attacks is well within the standard deviation. It doesn't require an explanation. Having more bears means you will have more attacks over time.

A drop of airstrikes from 2-0 really doesn't have to mean anything.

Patrick Bahzad

First of all, it is not a sorties rate they published, it is the strike rate. And it shows exactly what PL and I have been saying: it has been very low all over the month of October, as low as 1 or 2 a day on several instances ...
So down from 1-3 a day to 0, with bad weather conditions and Russian aircraft in the skies, that does not mean anything to me.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad