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27 March 2016

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Haralambos

Someone at the NYTimes must be reading this site. A kudos, Col. Lang.

Syrian Troops Said to Recapture Historic Palmyra From ISIS
http://tinyurl.com/zvkesq4

The money quote: "The battle also provided further confirmation of how significantly Russia’s intervention on behalf of Mr. Assad had transformed his fortunes. Islamic State fighters had easily taken Palmyra in May from government troops, who had hardly mounted a fight. The recapture of the city on Sunday came after Russia carried out dozens of airstrikes in support of the government coalition."

cynic

How much relevance might there be in previous reports that the terrorists dug vast networks of tunnels under the areas they control? Maybe they hope to escape easily or pop up again in other areas. Is there a war of mining and counter-mining going on?

turcopolier

cynic

Let's play a mind game - You stay in tunnels as a jihadi inside the encirclement when it is complete and I as the Syrian military will comb through the area looking for you. Good game? pl

Wintston at the Spreading Chestnut Tree

@PL

I read a number of disparate comments in various links, some referenced on this site.

1. Many of the ISIL defenders are in fact re-cycled Iraq Army (Saddam) regulars.

2. Approx. 500 ISIL defenders killed in Palmyra (seems a lot if true).

3. Reports that many ISIL defenders are fleeing their position as defenders because "situation is hopeless" (supposed SIGINT).

4. You yourself taklk of the possible immminent collapse of ISIL lines, structure etc.

5, ISIL references Dabiq as point of Apocalyptic battle.

Could you comment (global interpretation)?

Thanks

Trey N

Colonel,

Do you think such a bargain would pertain only to Syria, or to the situation in Ukraine as well? What you do think the parameters of the bargain might entail? What signs have alerted you to this possibility -- and why would the Borg be willing to make such a deal now?

It seems to me that any such deal now would be a tacit admission by the Borg of their defeat at the hands of Russia -- or at least a recognition that their nefarious plans of the last few years have been temporarily checkmated. Given their stupendous hubris, that would be quite a welcome development to behold.

I wholeheartedly hope that your suspicions of a bargain prove to be true.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

The trillion-dollar question is will Russia, China and the USA make a grand deal and secure a controlled border between Christian, Han Chinese and Muslim lands? This could be Barrack Obama and John Kerry’s final farewell.

With the media lying and studiously avoiding mention of the Russian turn around in Syria or reporting that the 2016 election is the first attempts of the people to regain control of their government; it is impossible to figure out what’s going on.

However, a few things are clear. The global aristocracy is doing its damnedest to promote free movement of capital and people, destroy borders and fight endless wars. There is a faction in the US government led by Senator John McCain that is intent on destabilizing Russia and China. A secure and peaceful world is heresy to them.

Cortes

Islamic State fighters had easily taken Palmyra in May from government troops, who had hardly mounted a fight

Not sure how to interpret that. You're outnumbered, no back up readily available...do you

Go all Imperial Japanese infantry circa WWII

Or maybe make a rational decision to recognise when discretion is the better part of valour?

annamaria

It would be great if the State Department's "broadly speaking" idiots were visiting this site as well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxs7yog_CjM

BraveNewWorld

More to the point.

"Why is David Cameron so silent on the recapture of Palmyra from the clutches of Isis?
In the end, it was the Syrian army - and its Hizballah chums from Lebanon, and the Iranians, and the Russians - who drove the Isis murderers out of Palmyra"


http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/why-is-david-cameron-so-silent-on-the-recapture-of-palmyra-from-the-clutches-of-isis-a6955406.html

turcopolier

Cortes

Armies are organic human social structures. At times they become ill but can be cured, in this case by some first rate vodka. pl

turcopolier

wint....

Too many questions. Look in the archive of SST. pl

Chris Chuba

Because David Cameron is waiting for instructions from the U.S. State Dept on how to respond.
I mean seriously, when was the last time the U.K. exercised an independent foreign policy from the U.S.?
They might as well give us two votes on the UN Security council.

When I read the Russian Insider, they proffer up that one of the reasons that Russia is hated so much is because they actually have independent national goals and the U.S. is simply not used to dealing with countries as peers. I thought about it and I think they are right. We want everyone to be like the U.K., France, and Germany who might utter a contrary word once in a while but pretty much toe the line.

Chris Chuba

The fall of the Palmyra wasn't quite the cake walk that the NYT is making it out to be. It did last 13 days ...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palmyra_offensive_(May_2015)

The Syrian defense of Palmyra was compromised by the rebel offensive in the Idlib province. The Syrians had to choose between reinforcing their large population centers or their Western frontier. So you could say that the anti-Assad rebels were the ISIS storm troopers (Michael Weiss is still on the circuit getting yucks calling the Russian air strikes the ISIS air force because of alleged, actually fictitious gains made in the Aleppo area).

ked

I'd be satisfied with a few less-than-grand bargains that actually work. Maybe I'm just fatigued from over-promising and under-delivering in foreign affairs.

aleksandar

Sir,
maybe a bargain is on the road but I always wonder : Does Russia need a bargain ? We will see.

johnf

Forgive the slight O/Tness but Moon of Alabama has done a nice post on the SAA retaking Palmyra at Easter. He says that the ancient Syrian fertility goddess Ishtar - whose shrine was destroyed by ISIS - had the egg as the central symbol of her spring rituals - a tradition which became Christian so that chocolate eggs are still distibuted at Easter.

This Easter I attended Easter Sunday Mass at Burton on Trent Catholic Church, a town which makes the greatest beer on earth because of the quality of its spring water ("burtonizing" the water is the technical term all around the world forpreparing the water for beer making). The mass was led by a Chinese priest. The ordinary working class Burtonians sat in rows of neat families dressed in their Sunday best. Enormous Irish navvies who'd obviously spent the entire night in the pub and had only just got out took the collection (perhaps because people are more likely to pay up immediately tosuch individual. The church heaved with Malays, Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Africans, Poles, Syrian Maronites, Pakistanis, Portuguese and screaming children. The Chinese priest spoke awful English - all the names of the saints and the long latin-based words in the Easter Mass caused him particular difficulty - but he struggled through them and then, for his address, concentrating really hard, he managed to deliver complex and particularly beautiful thoughts on the ressurection. At the end there were sighs and grunts of agreement from the packed congregation - people from all over theworld standing packed all round the walls and in the porch. At the end hedistributed chocolate Easter eggs toall the children.

There is another world - of grace, forgiveness and reconciliation - which we never read about in the newspapers.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/03/ishtars-resurrection-palmyra-and-the-easter-walk.html#comments

cynic

It's a better game if the tunnels extend under the front lines on the surface, and I can pop up behind you or simply move elsewhere.

Bill Herschel

The coverage of the success at Palmyra in the Times has sent the editorial/propaganda board into a fit of Bernaysian frenzy. The story has been re-edited at least 4 times, each time attempting to minimize the role of Russia, criticize Assad, and promote American triumphs.

The current version, pushed down into the fine print of the front Internet page:

"After a three-week push by the Syrian Army and its allies, including Russia, the majority of the Islamic State contingent in Palmyra had withdrawn or been driven out, with hundreds of its fighters killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the conflict."

"...including Russia..." Pure Bernays.

"The capture of Palmyra, days after the deadly Belgium bombings for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, added weight to Mr. Assad’s contention that his government is a bulwark against the transnational extremist group. It served as an argument, too, for his own relevance even as his foes and some allies argue that he must leave power as part of a political settlement to end the war in Syria."

"...his foes and some allies..." Bernays would jump for joy at that one.

Further down, much further down:

"It was recaptured with significant help from Russia’s military, which carried out dozens of airstrikes — highlighting the central role of President Vladimir V. Putin in solidifying Mr. Assad’s hold on power since Russia intervened in the war in September."

"...Mr. Assad's hold on power..."

And finally the official State Department position, that Assad is no better than ISIS:

"For some Syrians, the city’s capture by government troops had come too late. The sister of a soldier who was publicly executed in Palmyra by the Islamic State accused Mr. Assad’s government of dispatching poorly equipped soldiers, including her brother, to defend the city after the militants had taken it, and sending them to certain death.

And she cursed residents who she said had worked as spies for the Islamic State, in a worrying sign that there may be a bloody reckoning yet to come in Palmyra. The woman, who fled Syria for Europe after her brother was killed, questioned what she would get out of the city’s changing hands."

Perhaps she'll stay in "Europe".

turcopolier

cynic

I expected that response. Do you think that is the case? Perhaps the tunnels run all the way to Damascus. One thinks of the tunneling in VN. The NVA/VC built underground installations all over SVN. these included barracks, hospitals, communications rooms, storage. I was in the RVN when the armistice went into effect in 1973. The four power military observers came into town to supervise the ceasefire; Hungary, Poland, Canada and Indonesia I think they were. They spent most of their time "hanging out" at the USAF officer's club at the Ton Son Nhut base. That was a lot safer than flying around the country with the helicopter unit we had kept there to transport them. The 20 year old warrant officer pilots frightened them, probably deliberately. Along with the 4 power Boy Scouts were several fairly senior enemy officers (VC and NVA). Afflicted with curiosity I took to socializing with them in the evening. The Boy Scouts were of little interest but the enemy was of great interest. They spoke French and they liked to play cards. I asked an NVA colonel who had commanded a regiment in the countryside how they had lived. He said mostly underground. I asked how they passed the time. He said they watched a lot of US armed forces television from the big facility in Saigon where there was a 150,000 watt transmitter and big production facilities. Johnny Carson was popular as was the series "Combat" with Vic Morrow. My men had liked the same programs. He said they were particularly fond of a blond USAF enlisted woman who read the news. I told him that a US general I knew was also fond of her and to greater effect. He laughed like hell. pl

turcopolier

aleksandr

IMO Russia would like a reduction in passive-aggressive hostility on the part of the US and a reduction in the sanctions. pl

cynic

Thank you Colonel, that's a good story.

There have been stories and pictures of extensive tunnels through the fairly soft rock, in this suburb of Damascus I think. Maybe that's why it seems to take so long for the Syrian forces to definitely clear the area.

On the other hand, there was a TV programme a couple of days ago which showed the use of ground penetrating radar to investigate Shakespeare's grave without opening it. (The skull is missing, and according to legend, it was stolen and lost in the 18th c.) Perhaps counter-mining technology has advanced to the point that tunnels would be easier to detect.

Matthew

Col: please tell me a memoir is being written.....

Tunde

BoJo ( Boris Johnson), the dangerously bumbling tousle-haired suitor to replace "Dave" at no10 has come out in the Telegrapgh to praise Assad as acting as a vanguard for Western civilization as against the nihilism of IS. The contortions by the western transatlantic Borg re the moral weighing up of Assad fils is amusing to read. BoJo's article can be found here....
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/12205262/Bravo-for-Assad-he-is-a-vile-tyrant-but-he-has-saved-Palmyra-from-Isil.html

LeaNder

Interesting aka link. Not sure if I understand intended implications beyond the various links, comments and site references you refer to. Notice you don't need to add a web site url here. If you log into typepad, the link allows you to follow up responses to your comments though.

******

Concerning 4. "he possible imminent collapse of ISIL lines, structure etc". Since you start with former Iraqi Army soldiers, are you suggesting that Pat suggested the break down in both countries is "imminent"? ... Our central focus here has been Syria not Iraq.

What's behind your question 5 and/or the desire to have a global interpretation? ... One cannot fight an ideology? It's all about religion, the Clash of Civilizations?

*******
Personal note: "The war on terrorism" (WoT) may without any doubt have surpassed the wildest desires of its creators/helpers/servants and supporters. It was always envisioned to last for decades to come. Remember? ... Minus Russia maybe, entering the equation. Russia was to be taken care of another way.

Babak Makkinejad

If by a grand bargain is meant something like a strategic settlement of Peace of Yalta; I do not think that is in the cards.

There might be an agreement on a Syrian settlement which would amount to a Strategic cease-fire.

Likewise for Ukraine and the Minsk process.

These cease-fires will join the existing cease-fires:

- Japan-Russia Cease Fire since WWII
- India-Pakistan Cease Fire over Kashmir since 1947
- North Korea - UN Cease Fire since 1953
- US-Cuba Cease Fire of 1961
- Israel-Syria Golan Cease Fire since 1973
- Cyprus Cease Fire since 1975
- China-Vietnam Cease Fire of 1979
- Azerbaijan-Armenia Cease Fire since 1991
- Transdenistra Cease Fire of 1992
- NATO-Serbia Kosovo Cease Fire of 1999
- Israel-Lebanon Cease Fire of 2006
- Georgia-Russia Cease Fire of 2008
- Iran-NATO (JCOPA) Cease Fire of 2015
- NATO-Russia Cease Fire of 2015 (Minsk Process)

I likely have missed a few more cases but I think one can see an empirical pattern where signing a peace settlement is out of the question and war is too impractical. So one freezes the conflict and waits for a more opportune time to either make a settlement or resume the war.

Likely, this is what we are witnessing here too.


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