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20 April 2016

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Peter

Deir Ezzor is so vital to the Syrian Government because it's their only hope for maintaining a presence in eastern Syria. I personally think this is so important because the Kurds are moving in from the north, and I think they plan on keeping most of the territory they hold with some sort of partition. Assad probably fears the possibility of losing Deir Ezzor and how that would ruin the chances of keeping Syria unified. And then there's the oil fields in the surrounding areas like the Thayyem facilities.

Lastly, I think clearing the road to Deir Ezzor is a more achievable goal at this stage than liberating Aleppo. With all of the talk about an Aleppo offensive recently I think the R+6 may have determined that it would be too costly right now.

NotTimothyGeithner

About your sixth point, is it possible the fighting is just busy work by local commanders spiraling out of control? The rebel fighters were supposed to be establishing a state or moving on to the next conflict depending depending on their particular agendas.

Vince

I have no staff experience of war but, now in my 70's, over the last ten years or so I've taken a keen interest in military history, especially WW1 and WW2. I guess that means (unlike many commentators on Patrick's blog) that I could be called an armchair general, so be it...

Anyway, I've just started reading Alan Clark's 1964 publication Barbarossa - The Russian German Conflict 1941-1945. Inevitably, he jumps in to the controversy around the German's decision to postpone the march on Moscow.

I won't go into the ins and outs of that particular topic but I was struck by the similarities between what the Colonel summarises in his post and what took place all those years ago on the Eastern Front.

Of course, the scales of formations and distances cannot be compared but the Germans, it seems to me, simply did not have the resources to (1) Obliterate Leningrad using Army Group North (2) March on Moscow and encircle it using Army Group Centre and (3) Destroy mass Russian formations in Ukraine using Army Group Centre.

The Germans were partially successful in (1) wildly successful in (3) but failed completely in (2). It seems that they simply took too much on and, as a consequence, were compelled to switch forces from Army Group Centre to accomplish (1) and (3) thereby delaying (2).

It seems to me that the R+6 forces (in particular, ground forces) cannot fulfill (A) the liberation of Deir-Azor/Raqqa and (B) complete the encirclement of Aleppo and (C) flush out the opposition in the Idlib and (D) close the Syrian/Turkish border all at once. They don't have the resources.

They are in the same bind as the Germans in July/August of 1941. In that last case, taking too much on and key decisions by Hitler and his commanders lost them (2) above. What we will not know until it has all been played out is what key decisions (rightly or wrongly) are being made by R+6 commanders: they seem to have a priority list but are they going to stick to it or will they, as the Germans did in 1941, try to do too much?

Having said that, I do believe that the R+6 will ultimately be defeated and that IS and the rest will eventually be 'toast' as the Americans say. It's down to the quality of the decision making by R+6 whether victory will be delayed at much greater cost due to trying to do too much with too few resources.

Serge

Leith Fadel was just reporting two days ago that the "Palmyra-Deir Ezzor offensive" was officially cancelled after the redeployment of Tiger Forces/other troops to the Ghab/Idlib area.
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-cancels-palmyra-deir-ezzor-offensive/
I am confused as to whether Suhail al Hassan was included with these troops, and as to whether his move back to Palmyra reflects a 3 day flip flopping?
Concerning the statement regarding IS-rebel cooperation in the face of their infighting, it is important to note that last week's fighting near the Turkish border involved battles between IS and groups not under the direct command of Al Qaeda(nusra). Simultaneous to the northern aleppo action seen last week was ISIS again probing on the Khanasser plain, with apparent coordinated attacks by Al Qaeda rebels on the Western front of khannasser as a distraction. So rather than the possibility of pro active collusion between ISIS and rebels of all type, it is pro active collusion between ISIS and rebels of some type. IMO given the position of Deir Ezzor I believe that its loss would be seen as disastrous for not only the Syrians, but the US as well given the city's position on IS artery. The last time that the city/airbase was seriously threatened(to my memory) as opposed to ISIS probing and advancing piecemeal in raids only to be quickly driven back was in the battles of December 2014, at which point the USA laid down a great number of airstrikes on ISIS positions surrounding the city and reinforcements coming from Iraq. Notable as one of the few instances of USA intervening directly in a one-on-one battle between the Syrians and IS. Regarding the priority of Aleppo v Deir Ezzor, I think there are many behind-the-scenes political goings on regarding this, and it also involves the move on Manbij.

William R. Cumming

Are there significant numbers of citizens of the KSA fighting on any side in Syria? Iran?

Any open source analysis of POW treatment by any of the forces fighting in Syria?

b

"Deir-al-Zor is in desperate straits"

I somewhat doubt this.

As I warned in my latest Syria piece:

/quote/
There will soon be reports about local retreats of the Syrian army from this or that town or hill. Do not give them too much weight. Since the Russian intervention last year the Syrian troops have orders to retreat when under hard pressure. This to preserve manpower. As soon has the enemy occupies a position the artillery and air force will take care of them. Then, when the enemy attack has been blunted, the Syrian army and their allies on the ground will reoccupy the position and if possible launch counterattacks.
/endquote/

The Al-Sina district of Deir Ezzor which IS had captured yesterday is now back in the hands of Syrian army
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-syrian-army-recaptures-key-district-deir-ezzor/

Also the last information I have is that troops from Palmyra were actually moved to the west to counter the current offensive of the "rebels". The march to Deir Ezzor is, for now, called off. My hunch is that this was the purpose of the "rebels" breaking the ceasefire. The U.S., Saudis and Kurds do not want the Syrian Army to take Deir Ezzor and Raqqa and to defeat IS. It would make the Syrian government "too legitimate".

An Aleppo city attack on the rebel held parts would not make military sense. Lots of casualties would result from it and the enemy first has to be weakened elsewhere and further cut off from resupplies before it makes sense to really move in the hard way. Unfortunately there are daily casualties (not reported in the WENA press) in the government held parts of Aleppo due to indiscriminate artillery fire from the "rebel" side.

Dave Schuler

Off-topic but in light of your reaction to President Obama's reception in Cuba I thought you might be interested: Saudis snub Obama in Riyadh

http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/20/politics/obama-saudi-arabia-tensions/

Kooshy

Colonel
FYI, after the Cuban reception, if you havent seen this news today.

"When Obama touched down in Riyadh shortly after 1 p.m. local time, there were no kisses with the kingdom's ruler as President George W. Bush once exchanged. The Saudi government dispatched the governor of Riyadh rather than a senior-level royal to shake Obama's hand, a departure from the scene at the airport earlier in the day when King Salman was shown on state television greeting the leaders of other Gulf nations on the tarmac."
http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/20/politics/obama-saudi-arabia-tensions/

turcopolier

Schuler

He has a talent for inappropriate humility. pl

turcopolier

WRC

A number of KSA people have been killed fighting for various rebel groups or ISA. Iran has actual troop units engaged in Syria on the R+6 side. IMO there have been any number of combatant prisoners killed by all and sundry. pl

turcopolier

vince

"they seem to have a priority list but are they going to stick to it or will they, as the Germans did in 1941, try to do too much? Having said that, I do believe that the R+6 will ultimately be defeated and that IS and the rest will eventually be 'toast' as the Americans say." This seems internally inconsistent. Missing word? pl

turcopolier

b

In the long ago I would have assembled in my conference room such greats as Linda Lau, Bill Porter, Rick Francona, Jeff White After posing the question it was my habit to listen and then form an opinion. I suppose that is what I am doing as a private citizen. I will not always agree with you but I hope that does not offend you. pl

Serge

KSA is supposedly the second largest contributor of foreign fighters to ISIS, way behind the Tunisians which hold the inauspicious first place. Iranians have a great number of IRGC as well as Hazara/Iraqi militias fighting near Aleppo in particular but all around Syria. Regarding the subject of Gulfie foreign fighters, a point of great interest in my view has been the extremely small number of UAE/Qatari/Kuwaiti fighters going over to the dark side even given the wide gulf in population differences when you compare to other Arab countries, with not only KSA and Europe dwarfing the contributions but countries such as Japan(!!!) having more confirmed fighters going to ISIS than these countries.

Fred

Kooshy,

"The Saudi government dispatched the governor of Riyadh rather than a senior-level royal to shake Obama's hand,..."

Sadly our President seems to prefer having our Republic insulted.

Matthew

A wonderful turn of phrase.

Vince

Colonel,

Apologies - should have checked more carefully, should read: "they seem to have a priority list but are they going to stick to it or will they, as the Germans did in 1941, try to do too much? Having said that, I do believe that the R+6 will ultimately be successful and that IS and the rest will eventually be 'toast' as the Americans say."

cynic

The Syrians seem to be doing quite nicely in Deir elzor now. It seems to have been a feigned retreat which led a lot of terrorists to their death in a trap.

http://syrianperspective.com/2016/04/isis-destroyed-in-dayr-el-z0r-syrian-army-kills-82-isis-rats-in-massive-ambush-saudi-arabia-humiliated-by-english-critic.html

There's a nice cartoon photograph at the end showing the new global policeman doing something useful.

One of the comments claims that Putin has ordered Russian troops to seal the border between Syria and Turkey.

pmr9

From the videos I've looked at, there is evidence of at least one explosion causing casualties in the Maarat al-Numan market on 19 April, but no evidence for an air attack beyond the word of selected "witnesses" including the notorious White Helmets who work closely with the Nusra Front in Idlib and have helped to propagate previous false-flag massacre stories including the alleged chlorine attack in Sarmin on 16 March 2015 (see my comment on SST last year).

There are several precedents for false-flag market attacks in opposition-held areas (http://libyancivilwar.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/douma-market-attack-precedents.html). One of these is the alleged market attack in Ariha, Idlib on 3 August 2015, where an uploaded photo shows obviously weathered jet wreckage next to some melons. The clearest evidence is for the Douma market attack on 16 August 2015, where the estimated timing (from shadows and geolocation) of a photo of wrapped bodies of about 40 men and older boys in a nearby schoolyard shows that the victims were dead before the attack, and the four impact sites in the market area form an arc consistent with rocket fire from a spot 800 metres to the south.

One possible motive for an attack on civilians in Maarat al-Numan on 19 April that (as the WP reports) is mentioned in the WP article. Apparently the local residents had been protesting against the "increasingly heavy-handed" Al-Nusra Front.

Mark Pyruz

Two OF-1 from elite NEZAJA 65th Airborne Special Forces Brigade (non-IRGC), reported 20APR16 by Iranian media source as KIA while engaged in ops at southern Aleppo.

LeaNder

I was puzzled, too. Contradiction or exactly meant this way:

"Having said that, I do believe that the R+6 will ultimately be defeated and that IS and the rest will eventually be 'toast' as the Americans say. It's down to the quality of the decision making by R+6 whether victory will be delayed at much greater cost due to trying to do too much with too few resources."

"too few resources" only serve to leave 'killing fields'* behind: "R+6 defeated", "Isis and the rest" toast. R+6 delays only make matters worse?

* If I may substitute the Nazis with a different image.

Or alternatively, the image of the mad leader pushing his servants ahead against all reason?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Clz27nghIg

different clue

Vince,

If the R + 6 are ultimately defeated and the IS and the rest will eventually be toast; then who or what will ultimately win, and what is it that they will have won?

BraveNewWorld

The true gem on that page is the Youtube link. The only problem with the video is the guy in it is to restrained.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoVXp3nqNfo&feature=youtu.be

The Twisted Genius

cynic,

That ambush operation in Deir ez-Zor as described by Syrian Perspective was very sophisticated. That big bull of a Druze commander at Deir ez-Zor is one crafty SOB. I read of a similar use of intelligence to blunt another rebel offensive south of Aleppo earlier in the week. Those kinds of intelligence-based operations re signs of a top notch military force. In a few years, I hope we will be studying these operations in our command & staff schools.

bth

It is interesting to see how artillery in combination with UAVs is evidently being used more and more. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable about trends like this might comment. A decade ago it seemed that artillery was largely ignored in Iraq and now artillery seemingly in combination with drones seems is setting battle lines in Ukraine (both Russians, rebels and Ukrainians), in Iraq with US marines south of Mosul, in Syria clearly with the Russians and with the Turks shooting across the Syrian border which sets the limits of Kurdish advances and probably a northern most limit on the Syrian governments advances.

Mark Pyruz

Somewhat related:

ISIL video uploaded 19APR16 depicting 9M133 “Kornet” ATGM hit on Turkish Land Forces M-60T (M60A1 modernized along Sabra Mk.II specs via Israel Military Industries). Location: west of Mosul.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CgaYMb5WsAAX4uf.jpg

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