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10 April 2016

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b

It is not clear to me that al-Qaeda held parts of Aleppo *city* are the target now. The troops positioning would also allow for an Aleppo governate campaign west of Aleppo city. I find this more likely.

As I wrote in earlier thread - the breaking of the ceasefire by U.S. supported "rebels" at Tal al-Eis led to a change of plans. The eastern campaign was put on hold to set the minds of those "rebels" straight so that they agree to the next ceasefire.

There is massive air and artillery preparation now ongoing to break out of the southern Aleppo countryside towards west and to chase those "rebels" their towards the border. One target would be to liberate the besieged Fu’ah and Kafarya in north-western Idleb governate.

Then again maskirovka is certainly something we have seen several times during this campaign.

Barish

Pronouncing different objectives than those actually pursued would be one plausible goal here, true.

On the other hand, the foreign sponsored foot-soldiers of regime change recently made quite a bit of noise that they consider the cessation done and over with around Aleppo city, particularly Sheikh Maqsoud-district to the north as well as the territories they lost to SAA and allies to the south and southwest of the city late last year. Several days ago, the lot claimed the capture of Tal al-Eis, their gains at Khalidiyah further north apparently were reversed in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, at the same source, this was reported lately:

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/rebels-reverse-syrian-army-gains-handarat-camp/

"The Syrian Armed Forces were able to accomplish their objective, which was to alleviate the pressure applied by the extremist rebels on the predominately Kurdish Sheikh Maqsoud District of Aleppo City."

A limited objective, achieved right at that narrow space that still leads the insurgents' supply line directly into the eastern parts of central Aleppo city. Might have been probing as well for locking shut said insurgent-held parts, just as you, Sir, suggested several weeks back.

The Tigers have been credited in recent months for getting things done that they are tasked with, from lifting the siege maintained by ISIL on Kuweires air-base to clearing out the ISIL-held territory in between that base and Aleppo city, as well as reestablishing full control of the Khanasser-route and participating in the successful liberation of Palmyra. Maybe cutting off the insurgents' LOC to Aleppo city centre is next now.

After all, as I mentioned, even if the unicorn-crews start screeching about "humanitarian disaster" etc. etc., the continued show of bad faith particularly on their part simply can't be ignored upon more thorough scrutiny. Which doesn't just entail them continuing to rub shoulders with Nusra, which remarkably enough even State Dept discouraged them to do, but also the renewed offensive actions they partook in which I mentioned.

Trey N

Could all this be tied in somehow with the rearming of the liver-eaters during the truce and Erdogan's recent snub in DC? Maybe new facts on the ground have caused a rethink of the planned strategy to continue the drive on Raqqa.

Liza

Col. Lang:

A number of internet sites Haverford reported the deployment of additional Iranian forces in anticipation of the operation in Aleppo. I am not familiar with any of these sites, and therefore cannot gauge their accuracy, but I've linked to one report from Al Masdar as an example.

My impression from the news reports that I've read had been that Iranian forces, Hezbollah and SAA units under the command of Gen. Suleimani were handling operations in Aleppo. The last media reports on Suleimani showed
him directing operations in Aleppo province.

I'd really appreciate it if you or one of the other analysts on SST could comment on what is known about IRG operations in Syria, albeit this might be more appropriately done in a separate post.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/iranian-special-forces-arrive-aleppo/

Haralambos

Off-topic on this thread but of possible interest to those thinking about the borg: http://tinyurl.com/jbojryo

Bill Herschel

Off topic. I believe Bugs Bunny pronounced that "stragedy": http://dai.ly/x2snj1s

cynic

Interior lines? Here's a report of lots of fried or roasted rats on the Syrian menu, with an amusing cartoon of Assad and 'Dave' at the bottom.

turcopolier

Bill Herschel

The GW Bush character on SNL said "strategery." pl

SmoothieX12

Favorite term in my household. Will Ferrel's way of saying this--what a comedic genius.

Seamus

The strategy seems to be to stop Turkey and the Saudis from interfering with a settlement once and for all. I'd expect all of Aleppo to be under Syrian Govt. control by the end if April if things go to plan.

Seamus

Off topic but intimately related.

Neocons Ukrainian darling "Yats" falls:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/ukraine-prime-minister-arseniy-yatsenyuk-resigns-a6977421.html

cynic

http://syrianperspective.com/2016/04/russia-back-in-action-over-aleppo-syrian-army-thwarts-alqaeda-in-north-hundreds-of-rat-killed-and-wounded-in-operation-fires-of-hell.htm

Sorry, I forgot the link.

Mark Logan

My WAG is a fully liberated Aleppo is viewed as potential source of new recruits. Chicken and the egg, I suppose, and it would require a judgement that an operation by IS to re-claim what they lost on the Palmyra front is at least not feared, and probably hoped for...They need men and every man not enlisted is a potential fighter for IS and the liver eaters.

Bandolero

Liza

To the best of what I know. As is to see in reports about martyrs a number of volunteers from the axis of resistance including soldiers and officers "on leave" and "pensioners" from IRGC and IRGC Qods force are fighting at Aleppo fronts. While the official IRGC banner is not - or very rarely - used in Syria I'ld expect them to be concentrated under the banners of Hezbollah and Quds brigade.

AFAIK Qasem Suleimani is not in Aleppo because he's deemed to be too valuable for Iran to be allowed to seek martyrdom in Syria. Pics I've seen showing him at Aleppo fronts were fake. Today Qasem Suleimani seems to have been seen simultaneously at the fronts in Aleppo and with Sayed Khamenei in Tehran.

Bill Herschel

Much as I like SNL, I'll take Mel Blanc.

Bill Herschel

And now we have this. The United States is Israel's proxy. It is that simple. It is neither good nor bad, simply true. Of course, the metric to judge it by is, Does it work? Time will tell. So far the results are mixed.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/12/opinion/international/israels-unsung-protector-obama.html

bth

I haven't seen a first hand report on Suleimani for weeks. I got the imporession recently that regular Iranian army forces were being rotated into Syria and the IRG might be being rotated out. Again very little first hand information.

Poul

Is the replacement of fixed-wing assault aircrafts with helicopters a sign of urban battle ahead? The high-precision weapons of helicopters replaces the 1,000 & 2,000 lb bombs. The results are the same but with less destruction.

http://russia-insider.com/en/su-25-attack-helicopters/ri13814

Ghost ship

From what I can make out most of the population of eastern Aleppo moved to western Aleppo when the jihadists moved in so there are unlikely to be many suitable recruits for the SAA n eastern Aleppo. Figres I have seen in various places suggest there are about 40,000 people in eastern Aleppo and about 2,000,000 in western Aleppo. The advantage to be gained of liquidating the jihadists in eastern Aleppo is probably to do with increased security with reduced manpower from shortening the front line and pushing potential infiltrators away from Aleppo.

Ghost ship

More problematic are the security guarantees it provides to Turkey - imagine the number of times "red line" would be mentioned if Syria or Russia started counter-battery fire against the Turkish deployments along the Syrian border. Whatever happened to the concept of "hot pursuit"?
Similarly for Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. In any balanced international order, the targets of their funding of terrorists, such as Syria or Iraq would be free to respond with acts of "self defence". But currently, the United States would not allow it.

Tigermoth

Why the B-52s now?

http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2016/04/09/b-52s-arrive-qatar-join-isis-bombing-campaign/82829600/

U.S. Air Force B-52 bombers arrived at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, on Saturday joining Operation Inherent Resolve, the American-led campaign against the Islamic State group.

The deployment marks the first time the Air Force will use the Cold War-era warplanes — from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana — in the counter-ISIS fight in Iraq and Syria. The service did not disclose the exact number of bombers it deployed.

"The B-52 will provide the coalition continued precision and deliver desired airpower effects,” Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command and Combined Forces Air Component, said in a release.

“As a multi-role platform, the B-52 offers diverse capabilities including delivery of precision weapons and the flexibility and endurance needed to support the combatant commander's priorities and strengthen the coalition team."

In comparison to the Russian Airforce the US Coalition was under utilised. Are B-52's going to make any difference if the are used in the same manner?

In an interview with a retired senior Russian officer from the Afgan era; he commented that an Army was like an orchestra in which individual instruments had a part to play but couldn't play the whole symphony. He also said that like a good conductor, can who can produce a beautiful symphony out of all the individual players, so the good general does the same in battle.

What other players are the B-52's going to play "beautiful music" with?

turcopolier

tigermoth

Think of fighters and these bombers as flying artillery. Unless you have seen the amount of devastation just one of these particular aircraft can deliver you can't really grasp the effect.. If we seriously are going to try to get the Iraqi (Shia)Army to go to Mosul it will have to be across what Bonaparte would have called a "bridge of fire." pl

kooshy

Liz, I think the news about Iranian Army' Special Forces (green beret) is correct , Fars News is reporting their first martyr in Syria. The news link is in Persian. It says he was martyred defending the holly shrine.
http://www.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=13950123000244

Barish

What's the read-out of the following kind of reporting on the ceasefire by AFP? That title in particular...

http://www.afp.com/en/news/russia-muscles-centre-peace-drive-ground-syria

"Russia muscles into centre of peace drive on ground in Syria

11 APR 2016

Two elderly men in chequered headdresses, a Syrian army officer and a Russian colonel sat at a plastic table by a desert road signing sheets of paper.

"In the name of Allah the most merciful" read a Russian translation of the agreement, with the title "Application form to join the cessation of hostilities" printed across the top.

The ceremony -- performed on Saturday in front of the cameras of journalists on a Russian army press tour -- appeared to see the village of Al-Nasriya, some 70 kilometres (45 miles) northeast of Damascus, become the latest location in Syria to have a local truce agreed between government and opposition groups.

In September, Russia launched a massive military campaign to support long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Since then, Moscow has mediated several local truces. Along with Washington, it also brokered a ceasefire for the whole country, which has largely held since coming into force on February 27.

[...]

- 'Russia's focus is peace' -
But the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, said separately that a truce deal was meant to be signed in the area where army positions are some three kilometres from civilian areas.

"I'd like very much to talk about the situation here but they won't let me," one local man said hurriedly in halting Russian, gesturing towards a Kalashnikov-wielding Syrian soldier who then escorted him away from journalists.

A rebel group in the area -- which the Russian military said attacked a Syrian army base nearby a few days earlier -- does not appear to have signed up to the ceasefire.

Some seven weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin hammered out the truce deal with US President Barack Obama and four weeks since he ordered a partial withdrawal from Syria, Moscow has positioned itself as the key peacemaker on the ground in the war-torn country."

The episode on the "local man" starting to talk up in "halting Russian" sounds particularly fictitious to me. Why speak up in "halting Russian" and not Arabic, as one would assume a local here to use first and foremost, and how come this "halting Russian" still comes out as clear and rather complex as suggested?

I am generally getting the impression that whoever AFP sent on this trip is trying their hardest to remain fully in denial of what they see in front of them: Russkies getting to work, on the ground, to continue promoting and advancing the ceasefire, one place at a time. The piece itself towards the end has this here to say about the American side of things:

"Working in coordination with a parallel American centre based 400 kilometres away in the Jordanian capital Amman, Russian forces at Moscow's Hmeimim air base say they receive calls and information tipping them off about new truce breaches.

Every day they release a tally of the violations -- one day four incidents, another five -- almost uniformly blamed on rebel groups and not government forces.

Over the past week their warnings have grown louder about rising violence around Aleppo where they say Al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra -- which like IS is not covered by the ceasefire -- has subsumed rebel groups in areas the US insists are off-limits to bombing."

So the "American centre" is staying put outside of the country in Amman rather than try and broker ceasefires in Syria as the Russians do. Did the Americans at least muster the excuse somewhere that Damascus wouldn't let them enter the country or some such?

Further, it's not particularly surprising that said "rebel groups", whose command structure is decentralized on purpose would be more prone to violate the ceasefire than the more centrally organized government troops. The piece itself even states before that, in one case, one "local group" hasn't even joined up the ceasefire.

aleksandar

- Syrian general staff has came to the conclusion that Deir az-Zor is not in danger, ISIS attacks have been repelled and numbers are steadily decreasing. The Mad Druze,Major General Issaam ZHAHREDDEEN had set up a multi- layered defence that has proven so far very effective.
-I respectfuly disagree about SAA lack of manpower. ISIS was evaluated to about 40 000 fighters.
I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they have already lost 1/4 or 1/3 of them due to Ruaf bombing.
The same about JAN.
IMO attrition has already change the syrian war. I have read somewhere that Russian advisers have explained Syrian officers how to retreat and when. No more losses of manpower and equipments. Keep your military assets afloat and prepare counter attacks.
- Back in the beginning of 2015, SAA has to split its forces on different fronts facing a highly mobile enemy. I guess today that ISIS, and in some way, JAN face the same problem, too much territories to control them properly.
- The part of Alepo city under control of rebels is quite empty. Clearing it will take time as urban warfare is something very difficult ,a waste of manpower and ammunitions.IMO it isn't worth it.Can be done later.
- R+6 troops are said to be deployed southwest of Aleppo, in this zone the main objective could be to retake Highway 5. Maybe
Stay tuned...

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