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26 February 2016

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turcopolier

Liza & aleksandr

IM judgement R+6 troops are thin on the ground and may be reaching a point of exhaustion that requires a reduction in operational tempo as a pause for rest. That may be the most basic reason that Russia has sought a temporary cease-fire truce. Doctrine post Afghanistan is one thing but reality is another. pl

turcopolier

tel

This not "blitzkrieg." It is a methodical application of all-arms methods. There is not enough force available for "blitzkrieg." If there were the Idlib Pocket would have been carved up by now. pl

turcopolier

All

And furthermore I will once again state my opinion that Saudi Arabia lacks the ground force to participate in an invasion of Syria. As for the Turks Erdogan knows that if he invades Syria without a UN resolution in support he risks de-stabilization of Turkey itself. pl

The Twisted Genius

Tel,

The R+6 strategy and tactics are as old as warfare itself. And it's not just the Russians. The latest YPG/SDF offensive to capture Shaddadi is a case in point. This was a double envelopment of the city surrounding the IS fighters in the city and the more defensible river settlements above Shadaddi. Once the road junctions were interdicted, the Kurds and their allies engaged the more or less surrounded IS forces. The result was a messy cauldron where the Kurds won and IS lost. No Russians were involved on the ground or in the air. US air power provided close support and I'd like to think my SF brethren had a hand in designing this operation. This operation should be studied in our service schools. It's a modern classic.

elaine

Babak & Kooshy, I watched Samantha Power delivering her remarks to the UNSC
prior to their unanimous vote in support of the 2 week ceasefire & near the
end of her reading she continued to call for the removal of Bashar al Assad.

Nuff Sed

Is there a map of Unicornistan Wildlife Preserve aka Ceasefirestan?

Kunuri

Right on the money, not just "de-stabilization", but hard military push back as well, combined with a popular Gezi type anti-war movement. It will be his end this time, and he knows it. Turkish Army is disciplined, and within that tradition there exist the clause not to obey illegal orders.

Babak Makkinejad

At least they are consistent.

Assad is Iranians' red line and they will stand by him - regardless of what US, or Russia, or EU, or Gulfies would want.

Babak Makkinejad

The migrant crisis and the Syrian war are complex but it is indeed revealing that 'the migrants', many of whom are political refugees of a conservative Muslim bent (with the head-scarves an all of that), are doing their utmost to reach Europe, and none are too keen to stay in Turkey (a Sunni Muslim country, run by an Muslim-oriented party), let alone go to any of the neighbouring Arab countries.

Those countries, apart from Lebanon and Jordan, where opportunities are limited anyway, have refused to allow them in anyway.

If you think about it, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait could easily build tent cities by the Persian Gulf, plant trees, set up desalination plants, and keep the refugees there for decades: they have the money.

But they don't want them, even though they have intervened in Syria... It's a bit like the Palestinians: the Arab-Sunni states pledge support but, when it comes down to it, they don't want them.

It's all rhetoric - as long as it is against Iran and Israel.

So, the refugees try to reach Europe; with all its pork, alcohol, scantily-clad women who are no better than whores, idols, moral decay, infidel Christians (whom they would have massacred in Syria & in Iraq, given the chance)!

They are not realising for a second what it truly entails in terms of identity, way of life, etc. All they know is that they get 500-Euro a month hand-out. They ruined Syria (however manipulated they had been by outside powers – itself an indicator of their immaturity).

I think Europe (including Britain) could do a lot more (Germany has tried, under A Merkel), but it is -- also -- a colossal failure of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf to act, once more.

This is seldom mentioned in press reports: as usual, Saudi Arabia and her regional allies are getting away with it. In fact, I was reading reports that they are not active in Syria any more, now that the US, British and French are bombing happily X Y and Z: instead, they are focusing their efforts on... Yemen.

Thomas

"... near the end of her reading she continued to call for the removal of Bashar al Assad."

That is merely mandatory bowing to Borg Brother's will.

cynic

Here's an assessment from South Front which gives a lot of credit to the Russians for repairing and maintaining Syrian equipment, not just giving them new stuff.
http://www.veteranstoday.com/2016/02/27/southfront-russian-military-advisers-in-syria/

' Unfortunately, the Syrian military was in a state of serious neglect when the rebellion broke out, and large-scale combat operations quickly revealed this sad state of affairs. Much of its equipment was sidelined for lack of maintenance, units were understrengthed and short of specialist personnel. At the time, the Syrian soldiers were poorly trained, even ones assigned to crew sophisticated weapon systems like tanks and self-propelled artillery weapons. Equipment maintenance systems were sufficient to cope with peacetime demands, but quickly broke down as soon as the Syrian military attempted large-scale operations. Syrian military’s large pool of equipment also created an attitude of neglect toward maintenance and evacuation of damaged machines.
To help, the Russian Ministry of Defense utilized the Syrian Express supply route to send a large number of T-72B tanks, BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, and rocket artillery weapons to Syria. Russian advisers then got to work training Syrian troops both on the use of the new vehicles and operating them as part of tactical combat teams. Even more equipment found its way into the Syrian units thanks to Russian specialists restoring Syria’s armored vehicle repair workshops, which quickly returned hundreds of broken-down or long-term storage armored vehicles to service. Syria’s air force returned to the skies thanks to Russian specialists and timely deliveries of spare parts.'

They're also working the training up to higher levels of organization.

' The January fighting in Salma was a demonstration of the Russian efforts to train complete battalion task forces of the Syrian army to conduct offensive operations. It was the first operation carried out by one of the new Russian-trained battalions. Since the training program was launched in October, it would appear that the training cycle lasts 3 months before the unit is sent into the front lines, and more such units have been joining the fray recently and turning the tide of the war.'

Barish

This article had one, showing zones the Russian defence ministry considers ceasefire-zones:

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/complete-battlefield-map-of-syria-and-implemented-ceasefire-zones/

The small gap in southern Idlib province that's not covered by the ceasefire wouldn't happen to be the M5-highway, now would it?

Was the US-side as forthcoming about the ceasefire-zones? I doubt it insofar that Mr Toner of the State Dept had this to say about groups that signed up for the ceasefire, supposedly 97 in total:

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2016/02/253722.htm

“QUESTION: So who – we’re now beyond the deadline by which groups were to have told the United States or Russia whether or not they would comply with the cessation of hostilities. Who has told you that they will comply?

MR TONER: So you – okay. You’re absolutely right; there was – I believe the deadline was noon Damascus time and we have gone past that. I can say that as many of you are aware, the full task force of the cessation of hostilities task force did meet today. I’m pretty sure that meeting is ongoing. And more broadly speaking, the cessation of hostilities is scheduled to take effect at midnight in Damascus, so about three hours from now or two and a half hours from now at 5 p.m., in Washington.

So just to very clearly state what’s at stake here, everybody knows this is an important moment. It’s an opportunity, to put it mildly, for all the parties to step up and to do what they must do to stop the violence and bloodshed in Syria and truly press for an end to this conflict, which has cost so many lives and so much suffering, via a political transition in accordance with the Geneva communique of 2012.

Now, speaking to your question which was about the specific —

QUESTION: Who said they will abide by the ceasefire?

MR TONER: Right.

QUESTION: The cessation of hostilities. Who told you, rather?

MR TONER: Right. So let me just see what I have on that. So we do continue to work with the HNC, and we’re aware that they have announced that they would participate in the cessation of hostilities. We’ve also seen the SDF say it would also take part in the cessation of hostilities. I would, without obviously giving a list or naming – going through a list of names, I would just say the vast majority of Syrian armed opposition groups have told the U.S. that they have accepted the terms of – for the cessation of hostilities. And as I said, many of these groups have made this confirmation either directly to us or through the HNC.

QUESTION: Why not release the names?

MR TONER: Well, it’s frankly – sure.

QUESTION: If they’re going to depart on the cessation of hostilities, why not make – let them – hold them to account if they don’t?

MR TONER: So – well, due to security considerations that they have, we’re not going to list their names. We obviously have the names. We’re aware of the groups on the ground, but they, for a number of reasons, don’t want their names public.

QUESTION: Are you confident – yeah, well —

QUESTION: And how does that – I mean, then how do you know if – who’s going to judge whether they’re in compliance or not then?

MR TONER: Well, the task force that’s been set up —

QUESTION: The task force knows the names?

MR TONER: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

QUESTION: Yeah, you’re sure about that?

QUESTION: So is this —

MR TONER: I’m fairly certain. I’m looking at this right here and it says that they have expressed – that – sorry.

QUESTION: But no one outside the task force knows the —

QUESTION: Let him finish.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

MR TONER: Yeah. No, that these groups have made it known to the U.S. or to – or via – either via the HNC or to us directly, and that there is this list, but we’re just not going to publicize it.

QUESTION: I just – I don’t understand how this is transparent or how you get any kind of an accountability. What – I mean, you – I mean, I – I don’t think either of us – well, maybe Arshad wants you to read the full list, but here —

QUESTION: Well, I would like that actually. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: But it would be – but it would be nice if you could provide one. More than nice, it would be – it would make – it would give the world some confidence that this is – that this —

MR TONER: Well, look, I mean –”

The reasoning - "security reasons" - seems more than a little...bizarre, to be had. Anyone got an idea as to what the (un-)intended readout of this is supposed to be? Maybe avoiding further embarrassment by having to list Ansar al-this, Jabhat ad-Din al-that etc.?
One further motive I was mulling over is that if some of those various jihadi nut-jobs just can't keep trigger-discipline, having signed up to the deal, the Russkies, Syrians and SDF are free to give them a free ticket to shuhada-status.

bth

I think the Saudis are organizing some three weeks of military maneuvers and operations called Operation Northern Thunder or equivalent to work out kinks of larger operation management. FWIW.

turcopolier

cynic

Once again logistics rules. Maintenance is part of logistics. It was quite noticeable in pre-war Syria that Syrian Army maintenance was terrible. You could tell that easily by the number of broken down pieces of mobile equipment that one saw alongside the roads. In contrast you hardly ever saw that in Iraq under Saddam. pl

JJackson

The unicorns have been abandoned, as they failed to achieve the the removal of Assad. They now face the option of joining JaN or returning to civilian life and giving up arms in the hope of electing someone more to their liking at some later date.

bth

One thing missing from the excellent ISW assessment is what might happen in Iraq during the coming months which is closely linked with Syria. Most specifically I would think the next quarter is the time to see a push by Iraq and US allied forces against IS. There has been much talk about a Mosul push in June or late 2016.

While that might seem fanciful given recent history, I would note a couple of points.

First, 101st Airborne is going over with mission and destination unknown other than Aston Carter's statement that retaking Mosul and Raqqa were specific objectives. What capabilities do they bring with them? Helicopter support? A new vision of air support of indigenous forces copying the Russian model of success?

Second, Kurds were specific that they would act if US funded to at least $1 billion. This is chump change relative to a meaningful advance against IS.

Third, Turks have more troops and armor proximate to Mosul than any government wants to discuss in public and it might provide a vent for Erdogan's obsessions and pride. Plus it opens a much needed southern trade route for trucking which Syria no longer affords and likely legitimate and more lucrative O&G arrangements important to Erdogan's friends & family program.

Fourth, Sunni Arab tribes have been discussing their need to reach a political and perhaps economic settlement with Iraqi government that does not involve Shia militias occupying Mosul. Iraqi PM has made recent statements that would lead one to believe he is trying to put some distance between Iran Quds and Iraqi government than existed prior to August 2015 as perhaps demonstrated in Ramadi which though painstaking we done without Iranian help.

Fifth, IS is stretched in personnel and financial resources. Their terror of locals has gone up, desertions are being openly reported, they are conscripting children, payrolls have been cut, mid-management is heading to to Yemen and Libya. IS can't reinforce all points simultaneously and if nothing else the recent Syrian campaign has stretched IS pretty thin.

Sixth, such action and timing would be consistent with a larger diplomatic agreement between Kerry and Lavrov involving Iraq, Syria, and diplomatic resolution of Ukraine and Russian economic sanctions relief before Russian elections.

My two cents FWIW.

Joe100

TTG -

So much for STFU re: SF and SDF

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/us-advisers-near-battle-in-key-town-syria-military/

turcopolier

joe100

"Colonel Christopher Garver, a spokesman for the US-led military coalition against ISIL, said on Friday

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/us-advisers-near-battle-in-key-town-syria-military/ | Al-Masdar News

Gerver is not SF. He is a PR talking dog, like Kirby the fruity admiral at State. pl

aleksandar

Sir,
I agree, I just wanted to emphasise the fact that Russian are extremly reluctant to send troop on the ground.

Joe100

Col Lang -

Got it.

I assumed this was inappropriate PR bragging by higher command and not SF leaking such details..

The Twisted Genius

Joe100,

That's always the way it works.

bth

meant to say 'was done without Iranian help." not 'we done without...'.

annamaria

The Saker's article contains a concise description of how Erdogan was used as a patsy by the US: http://thesaker.is/erdogan-genocide-and-isis-the-sultan-is-doomed/
"The moor has done his duty, the moor can go."

bth

This article provides a little more clarity on US role in Mosul which is to provide expanded logistical support and to build temporary bridges around Mosul. http://news.yahoo.com/us-expand-improve-support-iraqs-mosul-operation-163400151--politics.html

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