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06 January 2016

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gemini33

Supposedly some FSA gave SkyNews video of ISIS rehabbing old Stinger missiles.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-new-missiles-developed-passenger-jets-syria-raqqa-a6798161.html

Was just reading to refresh my memory about mujahideen and their Stingers in Afghanistan.
"According to Crile, who includes information from Alexander Prokhanov, the Stinger was a "turning point".[11] Milt Bearden saw it as a "force multiplier" and morale booster."
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIM-92_Stinger

On a search I noticed a recent Voice of America article with anonymous officials talking about how Stingers are likely to get into the mix whether the US supplies them or not.
http://www.voanews.com/content/advanced-weapons-may-reach-syrian-rebels-despite-us-concerns/3023843.html

And I also saw this, which I didn't know before. It's an oil painting titled "First Sting" in the CIA museum, a romantic painting with this at the end of the description: "First Sting depicts the turning point in the Afghan war with the first of many shoot-downs of Soviet helicopter gunships by Mujahedin fighters armed with CIA-supplied Stinger missiles."
https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/cia-museum/experience-the-collection/text-version/collection-by-subject/art.html

b

Of interest:

Russia is providing air support for YPG Kurds fighting IS north of Aleppo

The report is by ANNA News
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89OSXfTItGQ

Bandolero

PL

that self-contradictionary piece of fairy tales on the non-existent unicorn army came from Mona Alami, "a non-resident fellow at the Rafic Hariri Middle East center at the Atlantic Council," and was originally published at Al Monitor. Here's a link to the original:

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2015/12/free-syrian-army-morale-russia-strikes.html

I think, anyone able to do elementary school math can understand the nonsense of this paragraph, quote:

Its estimated 35,000 fighters are mostly defectors from the Syrian military, according to Syrian analyst Sinan Hatahet from the Istanbul-based think tank Omran Dirasat. In an interview with Al-Monitor, Hatahet explained that the organization consists of about 27 larger factions, each comprised of an average of 1,000 fighters as well as some smaller units or localized militias, some as small as a few dozen militants. There are thousands of brigades of various sizes.

So, "thousands of brigades of various sizes" "some as small as a few dozen militants" sum up to an "estimated 35,000 fighters," we are told by Mona Alami, who's also known as an author for the Saudi BS outlet Asharq Al-Awsat. LOL. She's not serious at all, and it's obvious.

My favorite paragraph of her "article" is this one, quote:

“The SDF are basically taking areas that are of vital interest to the FSA. This falls within a Russian, Assad regime and SDF strategy to disconnect FSA from the IS front line, which would make them irrelevant in the eyes of the West,” Hatahet said. This loss would deprive the FSA of bargaining power in the next negotiations on Syria.

So, Assad, whom the FSA regularly accuses of using ISIS to fight the FSA is now allegedly evil, because he separates the FSA from it's supposed enemy ISIS, says Mona Alami. It's comical. Usually one complains when one is seperated from an ally, not when one is getting rid of an alleged enemy. That nonsense just shows how desparately out of arguments the fanboys and fangirls of regime change in Syria are.

Btw, the original article at Al Monitor has - despite it's obvious BS narrative - some value as it gives sources as links for some disconnected events. So, for example, I knew from friends about the story that several hundred Nusra guys from Daraa province made a deal with the Syrian army to be transferred to Idlib, but I had no public source for it. Now Mona Alami has given me an article in "rebel" internet media as source for that claim in her Al Monitor article.

Liza

Col. Lang:

Have R+6 forces begun operations to retake the city of Aleppo ? This video of Quassem Suleimani addressing his forces, posted on December 30th, was reportedly filmed in the city of Aleppo. He reportedly told his forces:"Insha Allah, this is the beginning of our work towards saving the people, all the people in Syria ...". The Iranian media has reported that Suleimani was recently in Moscow for three days, meeting with Putin and top Russian military officials. Putin was reported to have addressed him as "my friend Qassem". This high-level meeting would seem to be indicative of preparation for a major operation.

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ep_C1dPA2fE

Fred

"FSA Col. Abdel Jabar Okaidy "

Where has this guy been hiding for the last four years? I'm sure his successes on the battlefield should have inspired many of those freedom loving men who were part of that 1,000,000 man march of refugees to Europe to stay and fight. Surely that fact that European welfare payments are much better than what the FSA has to offer isn't the reason those men won't fight for a "Free Syria".

turcopolier

Liza

Soleimani knows the plan. I do not but IMO the proper objective of R+6 in the area between the east Lattakia front and Aleppo itself should be the rebel forces themselves. Once they start to move away from contact under pressure a path to retreat should be left open so that they can be annihilated in the pursuit by both ground and air forces. NE of Aleppo the YPG Kurds are evidently receiving Russian air support. I am curious as to the mechanism of coordination. pl

cynic

Via The Saker's article of 2nd Jan.http://thesaker.is/week-thirteen-of-the-russian-intervention-in-syria-debunking-the-lies/

here's an evaluation of the Syrian situation by a Russian Colonel turned journalist, with remarks on effective anti-terrorist requirements.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1P0Vn4N8p6BQtV8J1suprnGrvMgSXxzPXd5KllQCNZk4/edit

Seamus Padraig

CIArt? What a concept!

Barish

Isn't one core problem with the Stinger "magic silver bullet" in the Syrian setting that the country simply is not anywhere near the average sea-level of Afghanistan and also features a drastically different lay of the land?

Russian aerospace forces also aren't just deploying helicopter gunships, but fighter jets. And, as I recall the maximum ceiling of Stingers was put at 10.000 feet, or 3 kilometers.

Looking at sites other than the wiki-entry on the things, I can also still find that number, for example here:

http://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/stinger.htm

Whereas the wiki-entry, interestingly enough, doesn't so much as feature the term 'ceiling' as regards the weapon's effective range against targets in the air:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FIM-92_Stinger

Did some stealthy editing go on there of late? I wouldn't be surprised...

Even if more advanced man-portable anti-air missiles of this type were in the deck to be pushed the insurgents' way, are advocates for this really sure about giving them these means given their proven fickleness in the past? "Fickleness" in the case of state-of-the-art anti-air weaponry meaning providing the means for this unsavory lot to point those weapons a civilian air-liner's way, say...
The other "magic silver bullet" that were supposed to be the TOWs did end up in jihadis' hands as well, after all, and the unicorn-variety of insurgents that got them directly have no qualms fighting alongside said jihadis anyway.

VietnamVet

Cynic

I agree with the retired Russian Colonel. Do pensioners think alike? These are the 10 steps required to fight the Islamic State.

The West is in an existential crisis that is all interrelated. The borders have cracked apart and refugees flooding in. The economic dislocation and inequality are unaddressed and getting worse. Religious radicalization gives meaning to the disadvantaged and displaced. A regional Sunni Shiite Jihad is underway that will escalate into a hot World War unless a peace settlement is forged soon; plus, the “unnerving” warmth and record flooding.

The frightening thing is that no current Western leader or presidential candidate addresses all these issues. Only Donald Trump wants strong borders and Bernie Sanders ending the financial corruption. None of the eight hawks have backed down from a no fly zone over Syria which is a declaration of war with Russia.

gemini33

I thought the various ways it was depicted was very interesting (and romanticized).

bth

I would think unity of command that the Assad regime has would give it an advantage over rebel forces that are often localized in orientation. Has this been discussed?

Also if that 4th Syrian Assault Group that was formed last month could get equipment and manpower, one might think that it could punch out and envelop.

Further mentioned last month is the critical importance of access to IS diesel and if the roads that connect IS and the other rebels can be cut, and it looked to me like that was being attempted, then the ability to just live as a family in rebel territory without fuel for a diesel generator would seem near impossible. For the most part Assad has kept the lights on, not so much in the rebel zones.

J

Wonder if Tel Aviv is paying Zuckerman a stipend to I/O for them?

The Twisted Genius

pl,

A while back someone here asked what would happen if the GBs working with the YPG/SDF met up with any Spetznaz in that area. I thought there would cautious, low-level deconfliction. Perhaps that is happening in the Tishrin Dam bridgehead. Alternatively, the GBs could be passing targeting data to the R+6 either directly or through the established coordination center.

This bridgehead is serving the purpose of forcing IS forces to maneuver and be clobbered by R+6 and OIR airstrikes. Is was forced to move forces from Raqqa to Manbij and have reportedly taken heavy losses in a counterattack on the bridgehead. A Jaish al Thuwar (part of the SDF) spokesman stated today that the push to Manbij is continuing. The OIR spokesman said the purpose of the present bridgehead is to prevent IS mortar strikes on the Dam. Maybe they're both right.

FkDahl

CIA were allegedly (ie I read it on the internet) involved in sponsoring abstract art such as Pollock: they was part of a program to showcase the West as innovative and cool vs the USSR.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/modern-art-was-cia-weapon-1578808.html

charly

Ceiling has to do with atmospheric pressure. Rockets don't care about it. They just fly max x feet up so on top of Mount Everest you can hit a plan at 12KM height

confusedponderer

No, they aren't. The beauty about (pro-)Israeli IO is that they are self financing.

Zuckerman is a billionaire. He doesn't need the Izzies to pay him for anything. He doesn't need them to tell him what to write either. He is with the choire, out of conviction. He does it all on his own volition.

http://pagesix.com/2015/03/23/billionaire-mort-zuckerman-injured-in-ski-accident/

Barish

Hence my saying that there isn't comparable elevated ground as in the Afghan theatre in Syria to make ground-side anti-air weaponry as valuable.

Thanks for clearing up the terminology, at any rate!

Meanwhile, the BS-front by yours truly, the "moderates", appears to be in full swing regarding a besieged hamlet called Madaya. In German state news a number of 40.000 people is variously reported to be holed up in there and how the "regime" and Hisbollah are starving them, all of them civilians of course. In one case, there's a particularly...interesting twist to this:

http://www.wdr2.de/nachrichten/wdrzweinamo169068.html

Roughly:

"Thousands of Syrians are threatened by starvation

In Syria, thousands of residents in the town of Madjana - sic! - are threatened by starvation. 40.000 people are living there, half of whom are civilians. According to the World Food Programme, the last provision of aid reached the people in October. In December 30 people starved to death, local media and doctors report. The inhabitants are said to eat grass and to have begun butchering cats and dogs. Madjana - sic! - in the west of Syria has been under siege by government forces and the Lebanese Hizbollah militia for half a year."

So what is said here is that a huge chunk of "moderates" are trapped in the town, as well? While this would of course be a positive development all things told - the suffering of actual civilians caught up in the mess not withstanding -, the number of 40.000 people within the town itself seems bizarre, to say the least. While wiki is anything but a reliable source, the article on the town of Madaya there sets the population of the town at less than 10.000, albeit that is as per a census dating from 2004. Anyone got any reliable information as to what the more recent total population was?

turcopolier

Barish

According to the news today the Syrian government and the UN have agreed on supply to the town. pl

David Habakkuk

Barish, gemini33, charly,

A recent report by 'the Saker' – aka Andrei Raevsky, as we now know – may or may not be relevant.

It claims that the Russians have developed a computer system which can be installed in an aircraft – rather than on a bomb – which gives sufficient information to enable ordnance dropped from over 5,000 metres to hit targets with a high degree of accuracy. If this is the case, and the Stinger's maximum range is 3,000 metres, the aircraft would be safe.

According to his account, this means that elderly aircraft – SU-24 and SU-25 – and old 'dumb bombs' can be used for precision bombing. So readily available equipment from Cold War arsenals can be used to great effect, without the need for much additional expense.

(See http://thesaker.is/technology-sitrep-how-russian-engineering-made-the-current-operation-in-syria-possible/ .)

I do not have sufficient technical competence to judge whether these claims are plausible.

However, quite clearly, this is the kind of solution for which the Russians – and the Chinese – are likely to be aiming: low cost means of of countering weaponry from NATO countries.

David Habakkuk

gemini33, Barish, charly,

The question of how far ground to air missiles could negate Russian bombing, on the Afghanistan model, a recent report by 'the Saker' – aka Andrei Raevsky, as we now know – may or may not be relevant. It claims that the Russians have developed a computer system which can be installed
in an aircraft – rather than on a bomb – which gives sufficient information to enable ordnance dropped from over 5,000 metres to hit targets with a high degree of accuracy.

If this is the case, and the Stinger's maximum range is 3,000 metres, the aircraft would be safe. And a great deal of bombing which might otherwise have to be done from within the range of possible missiles could be done from much higher.

According to 'the Saker', this means that elderly aircraft – SU-24 and SU-25 – and old 'dumb bombs' can be used for precision bombing. So readily available equipment from Cold War arsenals can be used to great effect, without the need for much additional expense.

(See http://thesaker.is/technology-sitrep-how-russian-engineering-made-the-current-operation-in-syria-possible/ .)

I do not have the technical competence to judge whether these claims are plausible. However, quite clearly, this is the kind of solution for which the Russians – and the Chinese – are likely to be aiming: low cost means of of countering weaponry from NATO countries.

shepherd

David H,.

Of the top of my head, the technology is entirely plausible. What he's saying is you have a model of where the bomb will fall if dropped when, etc. Then you have a system that automatically releases it according to what it thinks would be right given various data that you give it (air speed, temperature, windspeed, etc.)

The devil is in the details, however, and there are a lot of things I'd question in the Saker's account. Dropping a bomb from that height is by far not a simple matter. You're dealing with atmospheric drag, which varies according to a lot of factors that you simply wouldn't know. At best you're probably making a lot of educated guesses as to your data inputs, and your accuracy is far less than the Saker implies. The better solution is having a bomb that makes adjustments for unknown conditions in flight.

For what it's worth, in the US case, anyway, I'd imagine the dumb vs. smart bomb cost question actually falls on the side of the smart bomb. A JDAM may cost $25K, but the planes that drop it can cost twice that per hour to operate. So rather than run 4 sorties to hit the same target with inexpensive dumb bombs, it's far cheaper and safer, for the US anyway, to do it right once.


Barish

Noted, something that was even elaborated on in news reports where I live, something I did not really expect. Even al-Jazeera Int. went on air spreading that news - with the bias typical for them when it comes to the Syrian theatre of war tacked on for good measure, of course.

Barish

An update:

Some interested parties within the UN appear to try very hard to get their "humanitarian intervention":

http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=52964#.VpBPgvkrKUl

"Today was the second straight day that the UN has raised the alarm over Madaya, where almost 42,000 people are at risk of starvation.

“The situation in Madaya is ghastly,” Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson Rupert Colville told a news briefing in Geneva, noting that Government forces were preventing aid getting into Madaya while opposition forces prevented access to the two nearby villages, making both sides culpable.

Deliberate starvation of civilians amounts to war crimes under the international human rights law and international humanitarian law, he stressed.

[...]

Last month, the UN Security Council demanded that all parties, particularly the Government, immediately open routes across conflict lines and borders to let in vital aid.

It also authorized the UN to play an enhanced role in shepherding the opposing sides to talks for a political transition, endorsing a timetable for a ceasefire, a new constitution and elections, all under UN auspices, and demanded that all parties, particularly the Government, immediately open routes across conflict lines and borders to let in vital aid."

Several problems here:

One, Coleville's knowledge of geography appears to be rather lacklustre: the "two nearby villages" he refers to can only mean Al-Fu'ah and Kafriya in Idlib-province, some 360 km ride by car away from Madaya, which are besieged by yours truly, Jabhat al-Nusra and company. These two places are indeed direct neighbours to one another, so if one were so inclined one could assume Coleville made an honest mistake here.

Two, the number of 40.000 people assigned solely to Madaya, which I expressed slight disbelief in before. Looking at the admittedly not up-to-date wiki-entries on the populations of all three places - Madaya, Al-Fu'ah and Kafriya, that is - one arrives at a total population of ~24.000 as of the year 2004. The number 40.000 does not appear to be an unrealistic estimate of the total of all three for the beginning of the war in 2011, which may be the reference point here. The subterfuge here in reporting so far would then be rather clear: rather than take into account the total number of all three places each, the total number is flat-out assigned just to Madaya.

Three, and this is rather telling: the UN-piece only makes explicit mention of the "[Syrian] Government" being "particularly" responsible to provide clear passage of aid, the "opposition" maintaining their siege on Al'Fuah and Kafriya up in Idlib remains rather obscure - which very likely is relayed here thus by design.

What I am wondering about regarding all this is whether Mrs Power's soft power muscle is being flexed to carry such propaganda. Anyone got any information as to this Rupert Coleville-character, and where his loyalties lie?

Chris Chuba

"Supposedly some FSA gave SkyNews video of ISIS rehabbing old Stinger missiles." - gemini33

I wouldn't assume that old Stinger missiles would be as devastating today as they were in Afghanistan back in the 1980's.
1. The Su-25 flew 60,000 sorties during the Afghanistan war and a total of 12 were lost in the air.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhoi_Su-25#Soviet_war_in_Afghanistan

2. Today Russian aircraft have better counter measures and can use smart bombs which would allow them to fly at higher altitudes and still remain effective; certainly against Stinger era MANPADS.

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