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29 March 2016


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The Russian Colonel-General estimated that there had been 60,000 terrorists and that the Russians had killed at least 2,000. Presumably there have also been other casualties, and some of the terrorists might have taken vacations in Turkey. Doesn't it still seem a rather low proportion to have had such a large effect in reducing their effectiveness? Is it perhaps that their failure to hold anywhere that has been seriously attacked, and the failure of their disjointed counter-attacks has led most of the survivors to be contemplating a change of career?

Has the Borg really given up in Syria and started to switch it's attention and its forces to Libya?

By the way, is that picture a detail from something by Bosch? Some sort of reference to the Biblical Witch of Endor?



Armies lose heart when defeated repeatedly. IMO there are many who wish to leave, get a transfer to Libya, or whatever. OTOH what I call the R+6 now has the habit of victory. Bonaparte said that in was the "moral) factors are as two to one against the material. This of course does not apply to possible exchanges of nuclear weapons. There is a chapter in Vom Kriege on this phenomenon. pl



Ah, the Borg! No, IMO they are incapable of learning from experience because they live in a bubble in which they deny evidence that should be derived from reality and they tell each other that only their shared reality is possible. pl

Trey N

Early in the interview,Colonel General Aleksandr Dvornikov states:

"The terrorists, who numbered more than 60,000, occupied around 70% of the territory of Syria."

Several paragraphs later, he states"

"Around two thousand terrorists, originally coming from the Russian Federation, were destroyed on Syrian territory."

The 2,000 killed only refers to the Chechens and other Russian citizens fighting in the Daesh forces. The total number of terrorists killed in the last six months of Russian intervention is far higher than that.


I read of a contest between IS and JaN at Qalamoun which seemed an odd AO for them to be disputing considering the events easterly of that area. Any thoughts on why they would be dicing so close to ground zero for Hizbuallah forces (ie so close to the Lebanese border) ?
For those with a visual inclination ANNA News on YouTube has an extensive archive and fairly recent sitrep of field ops in Syria. What struck me from looking at their archives from 2014-2015-2016 is the changing nature of the environment to which the SAA and allies have fought. From principally an urban battlescape arm wrestle with the opfor, the SAA units are now wiping the floor with them in open country, impressively coordinating with the RuAF. SAA morale and personal equipment seems good. I don't understand Arabic so cannot tell Iranians from Lebanese from Syrians but the SAA forces are now one battle-hardened entity.


PL, unicorns exist ! Or they did.......they were Siberian no less. Then became extinct. Your analogy was, dare I say, very apt.


Trey N

Napoleon actually claimed that morale is even more important than that: "The moral is to the physical as three is to one."

Daesh does indeed appear to be crumbling, as the wargame you ran last year predicted. What would be today's equivalent of unleashing Murat's cavalry in the pursuit phase of a battle won, to complete the destruction of an enemy defeated on the field of battle??

Trey N

Yep, the highly destructive "echo chamber" effect, where all the parakeets chirp in unison from the same songsheet.

It's going to be interesting to see how the Borg members react when it becomes plain to everyone in the galaxy, even the deluded wretches themselves, that their bubble world has finally popped. I imagine that having to adjust to reality from that fantasy universe is going to be rather traumatic (and hasten the day, O Lord...).

Ishmael Zechariah

Many in the Turkish military are following the campaign in Syria carefully.When Daesh collapses there may be very serious problems in Turkey if the liver eaters decide that they have been betrayed. I am sure some of them think so. tayyip is trying to switch horses in mid-stream and the European Borg is helping him.


Ishmael Zechariah

Bill Herschel

Saul and the Witch of Endor by Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, a detail. Saul throws himself on his sword having learned from the witch that he will lose in battle. As in the past, I believe this is a suggestion for the jihadists on the part of the kindly Colonel.

I believe that the figure 2,000 used by the Russian General referred to the number of Chechen jihadist veterans that his (Russian) forces had identified in Syria, sought out and killed, thus making it less likely that they would return to Russian and cause trouble there. I believe the number of jihadists who have achieved Nirvana in Syria since September is much, much higher. He freely admitted that there were Russian special forces on the ground in Syria.


The 2000 killed probably contained a high proportion of the most eager militants.

Bill Herschel

Upon reflection, it is possible that Colonel Lang is also implying that the jihadists (Saul) have made a big mistake by paying attention to the witches (Hillary Clinton) in the first place.

Perhaps. But who knew? How could the average jihadist, flush with money from Turkey and Saudi Arabia, having beheaded a couple of Christians on TV, have any idea that the Russian military could do in five months what the Americans have not been able to do for several decades, assuming that part of the money had not come directly from the Americans in the first place?

Crimea without a shot being fired (practically). Syria, and by strong implication the entire Middle East, with less than 10 casualties,in 5 months. The lights must be burning late in Langley.

Putin wants peace, and he will get it. It's about time.

Chris Chuba

I have read some speculate that a drive from Palmyra to Deir Ezzor could be hindered because that is Sunni area where ISIS and ISIS sympathizers could blend into the population and harass the SAA as they advance. However, I have noticed that the intervening cities or towns are rather small and sparsely populated, so I think these fears are overblown.

Did ISIS really evacuate the entire population of Palmyra/Tadmur before it was captured by the SAA? I read that in some of the news releases. I don't know what to make of that.

I'd really like to see Qaryatayn liberated soon, especially if there are any Christians left. Perhaps a deep drive to Deir Ezzor will isolate the ISIS held western area around Qaryatayn enough to make it easier to take. In any case, I'm certain that decisions are being made based on experience and availability of appropriate resources.

That cease fire was Manna from heaven. It shows what can happen once the SAA was able to focus just a little more on ISIS instead of pushing the Nusra/FSA knife away from their throat.


According to this the "moderate rebels" are getting lots of new arms by the CIA and other services. They expect a breakdown of the ceasefire and a new round of fighting.


The Russian defene ministry said that three large trucks with weapons/ammo and some 50 Nusra fighters crossed from Turkey into the Azaz area.


The infighting between various groups in probably under-reported. The YPG in the west is again fighting "moderates" in Azaz. In Idleb several fights broke out between JAN and other "moderates". In the south next to the Israeli border an Islamic State group is fighting various "moderates" (btw - who is supplying the isolated IS cell there?). All this infighting costs lots of energy, personnel and resources. The Russian and SAA generals must have a good laugh at these.

Peter Reichard

On to Deir Az Zor, Raqqa can wait for three reasons.One:Relief of the long suffering garrison would be a tremendous morale booster for the SAA, a shock to ISIS and could create a psychological tipping point. (If my memory from long ago serves me well the old Corsican said "morale is to materiel as three is to one.") Two:Wars are won by destroying armies not by taking territory, but diplomatic negotiations ARE won that way as possession is ninety percent of the law.Events are moving quickly and Syria needs to control as much land in the east as possible to kill any proposals for partition.Three:It would prevent a retreat to the east, trap many ISIS troops in Syria and help close the noose around a giant pocket to set up the final battle of annihilation at Raqqa.


« No money, no Swiss guards » as it was said to one French King long time ago.
In Afghanistan, we took prisoner a Taliban leader who was the «cash officer» for the province.
He had in his pocket a pad with the Taliban "price list" :
Monthly salary 70 $
Observe ISAF's soldiers + 20 $
Fire at them + 30 $
Set up an IED + 40 $
Wound an ISAF's soldier + 60 $
and so on, and so on.
(figures are just to explain, I do not remember exactly except number 1).
Talibans in great majority are part-time soldiers, the poorest of poor people.
That give us the reason that so much phone calls were intercepted after ambushes or IED explosions.
They weren't military reports, they were financial reports !
There is certainly within ISIS die heart jihadists but IMO also typical mercenaries Taliban style, especially ex iraqi soldiers.
But I can be wrong.


To my amateur eyes and ears, it sounds like the R+6 are sound practitioners of General Thomas J. Jackson's dictum of 'get them running and stay right on top of them.


I notice that he also mentioned that the Russians had for months been practicing moving their forces long distances by air, so that everyone was proficient when it was necessary.

Perhaps the original intention was to be able to intervene in Ukraine, but that didn't prove necessary.

I had thought that a Colonel-General would be a Brigadier, but it seems he is a three star general or corps commander. I wondered why such a senior officer was send to command only a few hundred Russian troops, but perhaps there is competition for an active command, and they wanted to send someone whom they knew to be good. Then I recalled that it had been reported that 'senior' Russian officers were working to persuade the various terrorist groups to stop fighting, and so I wondered whether there is an element of 'face' involved. It may also be easier for the Syrian forces and government to accept unpalatable advice from a more senior source.


Azaz and the corridor west of Lake Assad would seem to be the only avenues left open for sending in weapons and ammunition from Turkey unless they start doing air deliveries. pl



The senior Russian on the ground has a major military diplomatic function vis a vis the Syrians, Hizbullah and Iranians. He has to be a very senior man. he probably has a subordinate who commands the Russian forces directly. pl


The Sultan isn't all that keen on 'freedom of the press', or any of that 'democracy' stuff actually. If his own creation turned on him, few would mourn his demise. He's probably passing them on to Europe as fast as he can.



The SAA is not an Alawite army. It is a national army. It has many, many Sunnis in it as well as Christians and Shia. Their arrival in Deir az-zor will be greeted with a profound gratitude.


The smarter ones may be recruiting the next tranche of disposable idiots amongst the Muslims that have already poured into Europe or been brought up there. Not necessarily for use in Syria, or even Libya, but to take the jihad in Europe from immigration to fighting.


As I recall, the jihadis tried to get into Lebanon through the Qalamoun area. This was in more prosperous days for them when they had greater freedom of movement. pl


That probably also applies beyond the actual army to the background of believers and propagandists and fundraisers that support them. If their morale and effectiveness could be diminished the problem might diminish from a military to a police level.


You may want to read War And Peace.

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