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28 January 2016


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Attended a CFR panel discussion on the Syria Peacetalks. Cited below, an interesting watch with Amb James Dobbins, Philip Gordon and Kimberly Kagan. Let each make his own opinion, but I thought it was more pragmatic that I would have expected. Surprised by Kagan's comment that events on the ground will shape the future more than peace talks in Geneva. Perhaps she has been reading this blog



TTG, Sir

Would you know why the Syrian army have kept this surrounded pocket deep in IS territory and so far east from their main areas? It seems their previous strategy was to fall back and defend their western territory.

Of course now with the Russian intervention they have moved back to offense. It seems that tactical change took place under the direction of the Russians through the R+6 command center.



I followed your recommendation and took a look at the video. Reactions: 1)Knowledge of Syrian situation in all its dimensions was thin. Actually, Kagan is the best informed. 2) US-centric (and great power-centric) to a degree reminiscent of the Cold War take on the Congo as if Lumumba were the next Mao. 3) These four people (Kagan aside) are reputed to be among the best we have. It's akin to choosing the MVP of the Philadelphia 76ers.


Chris Chuba

BTW the TU-22M3 is one of the aircraft that is known to be fitted with the GLONASS controlled SVP-24 guidance system which means that with ground spotters it's at least as accurate as artillery. I read a story in the MSM that made it sound like the Russians were carpet bombing the city with B17's which is absurd since most of it is held by Syrian troops. In a pocket that is roughly 5 miles wide and long and packed with your own troops you cannot afford to have wildly inaccurate carpet bombing. I wish the MSM would use a little common sense; hope springs eternal.

If the ISIS has to abandon their attacks it will be a great victory for the Syrian troops and the remaining civilians who don't want to be subject to their horrors. Such an outcome would cause far more harm to ISIS than the shallow victory at Ramadi but will be ignored by the U.S. and E.U. MSM. It's likely that ISIS already has suffered more harm at Deir az-Zour than at Ramadi.

The Twisted Genius


Think of this as a Syrian Bastogne. It serves the same purpose. Holding Deir az-Zour impedes IS freedom of action and saps its resources. Additionally, I would imagine Assad is not willing to give up another provincial capital without a damned good fight.



That makes sense. IS sure are using up resources to attack this pocket. It must be a tough tour for those in the Syrian army who get assigned that front. What type of surveillance would work best in that area? It would seem that if there are drones providing aerial videos and photos that the SAA would have the ability to more effectively counter these attacks.



Deir az-Zour. This reminds me of Jubal Early's decision to fight at Cedar Creek in late 1864. He decided to attack at odds of 1 to 3 because he could not bring himself to a decision to subject his people to further Yankee depredations south of there in the Shenandoah Valley. pl



IDK man. I see that and think "those lucky sons a bitches". There's something to be said for getting the chance to maul your bitter foe and see him break against you like the waves do the rocks.


I neglected to mention one further lapse in the foursome's grasp of the Syrian situation. They all agreed that Putin sees Russia's primary interest there as sea and air bases. Again, a 1970s perspective - Latakia to support a Soviet strike at NATO's soft underbelly. In fact, Putin's overriding interest by far is to forestall Syria, or part of it, becoming a permanent base for Islamic terrorist attacks in Russia. Have we forgotten the Chechens and the thousands killed in Russia proper? Chechen units, and others from Muslim enclaves in Russia, are prominent in the AQ/al-Nusra coalition. Unless they are eliminated, and the establishment of a safe zone prevented, their intervention will be considered a failure. The CFR policy paper that served as a reference point for the discussion, calls for a ceasefire in place with a northern zone encompassing al-Nusra etc. to be "protected" by Saudi Arabia and Turkey who are supposed to guarantee al-Nusra and Ahrar al- Sham's good behavior in a prolonged process of political reconciliation.

Strobe Talbott, the moderator, began his career as a high powered Moscow correspondent. It seems well past time that he polished his shuffleboard stick and headed south.


There are some 200,000 pro government people in the city. Many associated with the army or state. It's not just a small village. It would have been catastrophic for morale if the city had been given up.



IMO you have it right. pl


MBrenner- correct- I was going to further comment on the Russian situation. Having been posted in Moscow in the 90's, I can attest to the fear and loathing of the Chechens by Russians.
The Chechen mafiya was prevalent in Moscow then- and hated and feared. Then came Chechnya. Further, recent incidents in the Russian south- such as in Dagestan- demonstrate the threat to Russia. Their reason for being in Syria is not just for naval and air bases, important as they may be- it is to stop the Islamic jihadist movement before it moves further into Russia. One of the problems of many of the elites, is that they have absolutely no clue as to what the concerns of the other sides are. The concerns of Russians about ISIS are real.


Talking about Bastogne... go to 1:53.. (from Latakia)


TTG, Sir

I'm not sure if you saw this Reuters report that the YPG is getting ready to attack IS close to the Turkish border.




You may like these recent videos from the Latakia front.



William R. Cumming

Am I correct that in the aggregate the Russian buildup in Syria continues?


It is not deep in ISIS territory. Everything west of it is deep desert and completely uninhabited and the only good road through that desert goes from Deir-az-zour to Damascus


Jack: At least the Syrian opposition is taking a principled stand. They will boycott the peace conference until the Russians and Assad stop bombing civilians. And by "civilians" they include civilians driving tanks or carrying automatic weapons or beheading the local Alawite/Shia apostate.


TTG you might want to read this:


As their military situation gets worse the propaganda ramps up. There's probably an equation to express it somewhere.

Hmmm let D = imminent defeat and D² = desperation.

PS: The comments make for much more worthwhile reading than the article.

P(ropaganda) = D.D²/1

Or something.

Surrender or our unicorns will gore you!

One hell of a battle cry no?


PS: Oops sorry, I meant to add that Asaad Hanna the author of the Guardian CIF article I linked to is a journalist living in Istanbul. Does anyone know what the Turkish for "What's all this 'we' business paleface?" is?


In reply to Matthew 29 January 2016 at 09:54 AM

You forgot to mention the civilians riding explosive laden unicorns that detonate themselves whenever the come close to unarmed civilians.


Would a link to something like this help lighten the mood over at the Graun as well?


"Bir Gizli Yalan Söyle" - "Tell a hidden lie"

But yep, indeed. The propaganda-line is getting leaps and bounds more laughable, on AJE-TV too. I'll concede that AJE's Michael Bays had the good grace to let opposition that is not Riyadh's clown-show have their say in Geneva a couple days back. A PYD-rep included, interestingly enough, who is present despite there officially being no invitation, supposedly.

Tony Papert

Many thanks for that excellent report, TTG.

Jag Pop

Off topic, but an item that is not found on US MSM (goes without saying that readers here want to be informed)


The US gov was caught red-handed shipping terrorist bombs to be distributed thru Tunisia.

Everready with a contingency plan some spokes person knew just what to say:
"training exercise"

Recall a similar incident in Tel Aviv. Mossad was caught planting a bomb under a car. Official explanation: "training exercise"


Wasn't there a training exercise happening on 9/11 ?

Have heard it suggested a zillion times that the training exercise was there to create "fog" and foul up our defenses. It just occurred to me now that perhaps there was a fall back plan if the terrorist attacks were aborted and some visible residue/evidence had to be explained away: "training exercise".


"On Jan. 26, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov held an important year-in-review press conference before an audience of about 150 journalists, including the BBC correspondent Steve Rosenberg and many other well-known representatives of mainstream Western media:

"...not a single report of the event has yet appeared on major online American, French, British and German newspaper portals or television channels... Regarding a similar news blackout that followed another major Russian press briefing, the sharp-tongued Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova commented, what are all these accredited Western reporters doing in Moscow if nothing gets published abroad? Do they have some other occupation?"

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