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16 February 2016

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Patrick Bahzad

Thx, did you mean COS / US style or COS / French style ?

Seamus

Pat, do you give this any credence?

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/02/are-green-berets-leading-the-ypg-in-taking-the-azaz-pocket.html

Kooshy

PB
Thank you for this great summery of what went on since last Friday' supposedly cessation of hostilities/cease fire announcement. But what about the humanitarian aid part is that still on, and is going to happen or that wouldn't happen as well?

Trey N

And the difference is...???

turcopolier

Seamus

Like TTG I think it very unlikely. Obama os allowing the GBs to help the YPG at the east because that fits his fantastical opinions about IS, but at Azaz that would seem to him to be contrary to his desire to destroy the Syrian Government/YPG cooperation. pl

mike

Concur with PB. The Turkish Army is not happy with the thought of going into Syria regardless of Erdogan's ideas. I may have to eat my hat if they move in against the PYD Kurds in the Jazira or Kobani cantons. But even there I suspect they will beef up and send in mpre Turkmen militias that they can disavow and not regular Army.

Patrick Bahzad

Google "COS" & "acronym" and find out for yourself !

Patrick Bahzad

Humanitarian aid is going to happen, already is being implemented.

The Twisted Genius

Seamus,

Colonel Lang answered you, but I'd like to add my two cents. Too many people sell indigenous armies short. The YPG has proved to be a competent and effective light fighting force long before the arrival of the Green Berets. Obviously foreign resupply and air support helps. I've seen a video of an interview with a captured IS fighter who told of the prowess of the YPG fighters he faced.

Fred

VV,

"Donald Trump would let Russia do the fighting" You mean he's not going to set up a no fly zone either. Seems a good idea since they are defeating our common enemy.

Fred

Patrick,

"Symbolically, also, the Caliphate would be cut off from one of its most cherished places: the small city of Dabiq, home to the "End of days" prophecy that features prominently in ISIS' online magazine."

Shouldn't this be a strategic goal in the ongoing effort in defeating ISIS and turning Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi into just another jihadist?

annamaria

Yes: https://www.rt.com/op-edge/330485-syria-humanitarian-aid-russia/

Trey N

I know what COS means, Patrick. What isn't clear is your implied difference between the US and French "styles." If there are such differences, I'm genuinely curious what they are -- and which you prefer.

David

The drive towards Tabqa/Raqqa is significant on several counts.
It gives the Government a propaganda win, as indisputable evidence to reject accusations that it isn't serious about attacking Daesh, as well as removing a potential excuse for outside intervention.
It is likely to disrupt Daesh's operation of several oil wells in the region, depriving them of fuel and revenue.
Life inside the caliphate is no longer fun- see http://www.smh.com.au/world/islamic-state-faces-budget-crunch-cuts-salaries-energy-drinks-and-snickers-20160216-gmw3w0.html. Once it reaches Tabqa, the drive will add to the erosion of Daesh morale, knowing that their northern LOC is broken, and that the enemy is at the gates of their capital (or at least across the river).

Nuff Sed

Here's a recap from the most informed poster at Ziad Fadel's Syrian Perspective:

Canthama February 16th, 2016 at 5:53 PM [Level 10 - Cesar]
teevee, you are right about Raqqa. Some thoughts on the allied forces on the ground in Syria, the way I see it visa vis the troops re assignment.

1) Any major attempt in Damascus and south has cooled down, with troops being sent to the offensive to Tabqa/Raqqa. Golan regiment etc...
Actions in Damascus and south will be skirmishes and opportunistic, except Darayya.

2) The offensive planned in northern Homs and southern Hama was frozen, in part due to the Russia-Gevena strategy. Skirmishes and small battles will happen though.

3) Forces in eastern Homs on Qaryatayn and Palmyra are mostly for defense and small offensive, though they may find a breakthrough in Qaryatayn in the near future since the strategy is that instead of heads on to the city the allied forces are conquering hills and roads around it, a surrounding type of strategy for a checkmate with minimum losses and not concerned about time.

4) Der Ez Zor is a fight to the death but no extra manpower there, air support is active but the Mad Druze has to deal with what he has.

5) Qamishli and Hasaka were basically emptied of SAA soldiers and left with local militia and NDF, very reduced threat and forces.

6) Aleppo. Here several fronts, but the southern front was frozen two months ago, with forces sent to east and north. East is doing a awesome job and is about to close a cauldron at the Thermal Power plant and after killing all ISIS inside is they will not advance further to Al Bab. They will let SDF/YPG go. The same for northern Aleppo, after the link with Nbul and Al Zahraa, the allied forces have cooled down, they handed over Kafr Naya to SDF/YPG and let the line at Misqan and Ahras, and it may be that the SAA deliver more cities to SDF/YPG, there are talks on Kiffin for instance.
The point in Aleppo is a) to close the border with Turkey, and clearly SDF/YPG were armed and directed to do it, several reports 1-2 months ago of several SAAF/RuAF Helis delivering weapons to YPG in Afrin, we are seeing now them in use. b) link Nbul and Al Zahraa and cut the corridor, this is done.c) Pacify Aleppo city, this is a tough job and may require further fight in the NW and west of Aleppo, this will happen.
Excess troop may be redirected to Raqqa front, it may be happening now through Khanaser, mind the last two days of relative calm in West/NW Aleppo after the allied forces have took control of the high ground on Tamurah, only active RuAF bombings all over.

7) Lattakia, the whole deal here is to protect the Province, seal this very difficult border and get the high ground to control Idlib and NW Hama. This is basically done. But the forces will continue to seal the border with Turkey and may only stop at Bab al Hawa. Do not see these forces going into Raqqa as of now.

8) Here comes the last piece, the offensive toward Tabqa/Raqqa. The forces on it right now are not large, though well equipped, but CAS is so far minimum. The advance has been "ok" since it is on the road, in the desert, no village to fight, only hills and some check points. By the time it gets to villages, oil and gas facilities and definitively close to Tabqa airbase, the forces must be 3-4x the current size if not more, the fight will be much more intense and inside villages, airbase and sites well defended. I can only see here some extra forces from northern Aleppo, some from eastern Aleppo but most likely thousands of new fighters from Hizballah, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Hearing Nasrallah today, it was clear to me Hizballah will go to Raqqa, so we should definitively expect these forces to be beefed up in the next few days or weeks.

Cutting ISIS in Tabqa will be a death sentence to all ISIS in northern Aleppo, no more roads for them, and SDF/YPG/RuAF will cut them all in pieces. Taking Tabqa airbase and strengthening the presence of the allied forces there will create a pressure at Raqqa never seen in the past 4 years, with bombings and active ground forces. I believe the 4+1 C&C is timing the NE Aleppo campaign to close the border with the Tabqa/Raqqa, it makes all the sense for both to be coordinated. So forces are being deployed to respect this coordination and timing, things will happen in the next few days or weeks toward Tabqa and NE Aleppo border.

FkDahl

Say what? Any true Borgist primarily relies on twitter feeds from 'activists'... you are a dangerous traditionalist monsieur Bahzad!

Joking aside: continued fantastic coverage here.

aleksandar

Smile....NATO format..

Cortes

If posted elsewhere already, apologies.

http://thesaker.is/russian-mod-press-briefing-for-february-16th-2016

Comment by Anonymous at 17 February 10.07 may be of interest to military minds - if rubbish, please delete.

Akira

Questions for the experts:

#1-It seems like the Russian aircraft have been maintaining amazingly high sortie rates. How does the Russian performance compare to what you would expect from NATO in the same situation?

#2-The SAA 4th Mechanized Division was announced as a sort of new model army designed with Hezbollah/IRGC and Russian input. It has been fighting heavily in the offensive for some time now. What is the SST view of the results of this new organization?

#3-We now are seeing a whole lot of T-90s on the battlefield. Even Hezbollah is apparently getting them. How do they match up against Turkish and Israeli armor?

Laguerre

"I've seen a video of an interview with a captured IS fighter who told of the prowess of the YPG fighters he faced."

Wasn't that the one where the Da'ish fighter was facing imminent execution? He would have said anything to get out of being executed.

Though in general I would agree with you. The Syrian Kurds have done a good job, much more coherent than most other participants in the war. Pity that it's for an unrealisable aim. They will have to hand over most of that conquered territory when they make a deal with Asad, their thin band of agricultural land on the Turkish border not being the basis for an independent state.

Poul

Iranian news source claims that Kinsibba has been liberated.

http://en.abna24.com/service/middle-east-west-asia/archive/2016/02/18/735569/story.html

Quote:
"The Syrian army says it has recaptured the strategic town of Kansaba in the northern countryside of Latakia Province after heavy clashes with militants.

The retaking of the town allows the army to move on to regain the militant-held town of Jisr al-Shughour, northeast of Kansaba in Idlib Province, as well as other areas held by extremist groups in Idlib. "

Babak Makkinejad

I think the important thing is to note that people across 4 countries (Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq) - and now joined by a fifth one - have been fighting for 5 years on the same war theatre. They have learnt to work together and to work effectively. I expect that makes a qualitative difference in their performance in any future wars.

Martin Oline

Looks like Turkey is blaming the car bombing on anyone who backs the Kurds. I wonder if that includes the United States? From CBS news this morning:

"Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters that a Syrian national with links to Syrian Kurdish militia carried out the attack in collaboration with Turkey's own outlawed Kurdish rebel group, the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK. Davutoglu also accused Syria's government of responsibility for allegedly backing the Syrian Kurdish militia."

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