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28 May 2016

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hemeantwell

I'm not competent to comment on their military strategy. I would like to ask other site participants to consider to what extent, if any, the Russians are taking into account the election in the US. There are a range of possibilities, but foremost for me is that they might feel that a stronger offensive effort would, all other things be equal, benefit HRC and her warmongering advisors. That assumes they see Trump as less belligerent, which I'd like to think is realistic but am unsure. I also assume they see Sanders as having lost in his bid. ?

JJackson

IS also seem to have opened a front towards Azaz, although I am not very clear on exactly whom they are fighting.

AEL

What is it that prevents the SAA from getting and training more recruits? It has been clear that they lack sufficient force for a long time. Yet, they seem chronically undermanned and dependent on their external allies to keep them in the game.

And yet, if you look at the distribution of the population, the existing Syrian government ought to be able to obtain and train sufficient recruits to re-establish power. What is holding them back?

If Syria is going to be run by a secular government, they are going to have to crack that problem.

David Lentini

FWIW, I've been wondering at what point the total pressure from the US and its stooges allies would end up with some sort of deal being struck with Putin. Perhaps some lessening of the economic sanctions or pressure in some other part of the globe in return for reduced pressure in Syria and allowing the US to step up its role?

johnf

Calls are coming from within Russia to step up Russia's military forces:

Duma States the Need to Expand the Military Operation of Russia in Syria

" The State Duma spoke about the need to expand the military operation of Russia in Syria: The airforce needs in the near future to make unilateral airstrikes on militants from "al-Nusra (terrorist group forbidden in Russia). This was stated by the head of the Duma Committee on Defense, former Black Sea fleet commander Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov.

According to Komoyedov, while Russia was waiting for US' response to the joint action plan, Jabhat al-Nusra managed to regroup forces. "During this period, "al-Nusra" has increased, regained strength, and is mostly active... we should not just run, and it's time to end this," he said in an interview to"Interfax".

According to the head of the Duma Committee on Defense, if active operations against Jabhat al-Nusra" in Syria do not begin, "it is possible to lose something positive that has been achieved""

http://www.fort-russ.com/2016/05/duma-states-need-to-expand-military.html

Perhaps Putin, ever cautious, is waiting for "popular pressure" to drive him into re-engaging.

Bill Herschel

Also from SouthFront:

"On Fridan, the Russian General Staff reported that Russian had intensified air strikes against oil sites controlled by an al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Al Nusra Front.

Sergei Rudskoy, head of the General Staff’s main operations command said Al Nusra was taking advantage of a previously announced cessation of hostilities in many locations, and of the fact that its units are often deployed in the same areas as the armed groups involved in the political process.

“Unfortunately, our American partners are not taking any decisive steps apart from persistent requests not to strike the groups of the Nusra Front, because ‘moderate opposition’ units may be located nearby,” Rudskoy noted.
According to the general, Russian warplanes intensified strikes against Al Nusra’s oil production sites and smuggling routes to Turkey. But the key question remains unsolved, he said.

“Further delays by our American partners in resolving the issue of differentiating the opposition units it controls from terrorists … leads to the disruption of the peace process and resumption of military actions in Syria.”"

I am not giving up hope that Russia can act decisively against the Jihadists in Syria. In terms of the U.S. election, it is foreordained that the "establishment" will continue a 110% attack at all times against Russia. Trump is a conundrum wrapped in an enigma. He clearly perceives his campaign as a business deal, one in which he does not want to lose money but rather make money. He may, at present, be terrified that if he loses the general election, he will fatally damage his brand. That would explain his thrashing around trying to stimulate the Republican base. He is fortunate in being pitted against someone with, politely, sky-high negatives, well-deserved negatives.


SmoothieX12

Both HRC and The Donald, despite Donald having massive support among Russians (not that it matters for Donald), are considered serious risks there. In case of HRC it is, indeed, the risk of a major war. With Donald--it is his flamboyance which may, unintentionally, lead to a...major war. Unlike Donald, however, HRC is deplored in Russia.

Earthrise

I agree it seems like the SAA are trying to do everything and accomplishing nothing. I always found it strange to hear about looming offensives in the media; I assume surprise is still a tactical advantage. At least this time they are saying they are assaulting on every front (I just read about a new attack on Daara).

I am not naive enough to put my trust anywhere, but either the Russians know what they are doing or it is over anyway. America doesn't win on the battlefield, they win in the propaganda/disinfo space. I believe this is the battle the Russians are fighting atm; good luck comrades, the powerless are holding our breath

Babak Makkinejad

Al Nusra does not contain any "moderates" since the population of that part of Syria is not moderate and it is that population that to a certain extent - if reports are to be believed - supports Al Nusra.

Perhaps NATO states & Gulfies are thinking of leaving Al Nusra Front alone so that it time it may grow to be a mini-state to be used as leverage against SAR, Iraq, Iran etc.


turcopolier

Earthrise

If you have the preponderance of force, tactical surprise is much over-rated as a necessity. pl

Imagine

Apologies for OT:

213 Israeli intelligence agents/retired generals, from Maj.Gen.(Ret.) Amnon Reshef's "Commanders for Israel Security", have issued a policy statement criticizing Israel's calcification and calling for peace with Palestine through actual bargaining in good faith.

English version of statement: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0KLv8RGcUIFajBjeHVIYjB5dFhnaXBWMUIybGJhU0ZqUDhR/view?pref=2&pli=1

List of 209 generals etc. comprising initiative: http://en.cis.org.il/members/

Hebrew page: http://securityfirst.co.il/

Earthrise

Agreed, but telegraphing your punches is not a winning strategy, unless it is disinfo. And the balance of force locally always seems fairly even (minus airpower). I believe Russia is countering US propaganda discourses, and once the world is begging for Russian intervention, this will be over fairly quickly.

Emad

Not being pedantic, but it's The Donald, not Donald. Without the "The", he's a NYC millionaire of little to no consequence; with the "The", he's a statesman in a tight race.

Give the man his due.

Barish

Motley bunch of "moderate" jihadis, among them Faylaq al-Sham, Sultan al-Murad, Jaish al-Mujahideen and a smattering of personnel from groups of the Fatah Halap ("Conquest Aleppo") Operations Room (no. 1-2-3-"FSA" outfits e.g.) as well as some Nusra-operatives, all transferred via the Idlib-border through Turkey to Azaz.

Even considering SAA's manpower-problems, one does need to establish just how much of an issue this is for both ISIL as well as the unicorn outfits. Judging by this video here by an outfit called Liwa al-Mutasim from a month ago, the personnel the unicorns are throwing at ISIL in the Azaz-strip are either their omega tier-ranks, or they simply have not got any better troops left:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-tKX3cqW6Q

Either way, currently the unicorn-forces assembled in the Azaz-strip are in what can rightly be called a rout:

http://www.edmaps.com/html/azaz_may_28_3_pm.html

With the SDF/YPG in Afrin left to pick up the pieces, the way things look like.

BraveNewWorld

There are a few things working against the SAA curently. The first is that when they clear an area they need to leave people behind to protect those areas. That drives up the man power needed.

More importantly though is that so much of the population is tied up in survival mode. Many have left for Europe as going back to your home town means going back to rubble and unemployment where as going to Europe means going to a modern country with far better prospects. Syrians are fairly well educated compared to many in the region and so have better prospects in Europe and other countries.

The males have to go to the camps to protect their families as it can be pretty rough in refugee camps. That means they aren't available to enlist. A good chunk of the population is tied up trying to produce things locally and inefficiently as there is an embargo against Syria and large parts of the infrastructure are destroyed.

But one of the biggest problems is the enemy. In a normal military vs military fight at some point one side eventually realizes that it is going to lose and surrenders. That isn't the case here. If you are with the SAA and you lose a battle you are, if you are lucky, dead instantly. Other wise you are looking at a pretty grim death. Not exactly some thing you can put on a recruiting poster. Modern well educated populations don't want to fight they want to get on with their lives. Some thing the US learned with Vietnam but has apparently forgotten as it tries to start two wars with near peers in Russia and China at the same time.

No matter how you slice it Syria is going to be a powerless broken waste land not fit to live in for another half century so in that regard the the big three of NATO have already won.

Doug Colwell

But sir, that is the problem isn't it? The SAA doesn't seem to have the preponderance of force, so surprise could be more important. Or have I missed something.

turcopolier

Doug Colwell

Tactical surprise is often unattainable but it is necessary to go on. pl

bth

Well the US election brings a certainty to the time clock for Obama and Kerry - perhaps not loved by the Russians but known commodities - to get anything done. Beyond that I suspect the US election represents an unwelcome uncertainty for both the Russians and the US electorate at large.

turcopolier

BNW

Oh, nonsense, the country will be re-built and those who do not have the balls to participate in that deserve nothing. pl

turcopolier

IMO

No, the Russians would prefer Trump. pl

bth

What is it that Azaz offers IS? Access to Turkey? A trucking route to sell oil for food? Could someone clarify? IS is pressed on numerous fronts. One has to conclude that they are focusing their efforts in areas that have strategic importance to them.

turcopolier

Imagine

I buy that but if I were an Israeli I would want to explore how real the Palestinian willingness to accept two states really is. pl

Barish

One of the goals for ISIL here may be loot, in the form of war materiel, ripe for the picking given the prowess (or lack thereof) of the "moderates" assembled there:

https://twitter.com/jenanmoussa/status/736308559315603456

That aside, with the Azaz-strip wiped, they got one less party to the war, the northern Syrian bloc of unicorns that is, to contend with in this theatre up north. Turkey makes it a point to keep Kurdish Afrin isolated on its side of the border, so while the (SDF/)YPG-troops there may have better morale, they don't have little in the way of lines of supply, and hence may be considered a manageable threat by ISIL - or even the next target come the fall of Azaz.

The "moderates" in the Azaz-strip also advertised their taking in ISIL deserters into their ranks, which points to their compatible ideology. It is possible that some of the various crews assembled there may, as of this campaign in Azaz, "see the light" and join ISIL. It did occur in the past that other jihadi outfits in Syria joined them.

Laguerre

If R+6 lack troops, then what is the reason? The argument I gave you that it is now only Alawites who are fighting could well be the case. Not my idea; I'm only reporting what my Alawite student told me.

Earthrise

It seems to me the SAA should be putting all their available offensive power in a drive to Deir ez-Zor. As much as we would love to see Aleppo liberated, she's a tough nut which also risks bringing in Turkey. In the South the enemy has strategic depth through the Jordanian and Israeli borders. It seems with the Iraqis pushing from the East, and the American's *cough* SDF from the North, the race to Raqqa makes the most sense. Regain the oilfields, break siege of Deir ez-Zor and prevent the US from carving out an Eastern anti-Syria. The fact this is not happening tells me we don't know something, an agreement between America and Russia? Time will tell, but not too much please; Syria is bleeding.

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