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25 June 2016


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Pat, as you see it, does that mean the Russians committing a brigade sized force, with organic armor-artillery included (and perhaps direct controlled Frontal Aviation units) and, if so, do they fight as a coherent unit?


1. So far some 1400 Hezbollah were killed and about 8000 wounded. Nasrallah had estimated a total of 5,000 killed would be the price to pay in this war.

2. The Russian air force is hitting pretty hard north of Aleppo with some 40 sorties in the last 24 hours. If their intelligence folks did their job over the last weeks the planes will have a decent valuable target list and could make a real difference.



What you suggest sounds like a USMC operation. No. I think it would take a much larger force than that both Russian and Iranian. Coherent units? Yes. I am not suggesting more advisers. There are enough of those. pl

FB Ali

The importance that Hassan Nasrullah attaches to this battle for Aleppo can be gauged from the other reports that he is convinced that Israel is planning a major attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon (http://tinyurl.com/h2gnpma). In spite of that, he is prepared to send more fighters to join the battle for Aleppo.

In his most recent commentary, Alastair Crooke (another expert on the ME) also says that such an Israeli attack is likely being planned - in conjunction with the Saudis and other Sunni Arabs. He believes that a Hillary Clinton administration will back such an attack.

In an earlier piece (http://tinyurl.com/hy3876p) Crooke had linked such a US stance to the recent CNAS report, which he thinks is likely to form the basis for a Clinton foreign policy (a member of the group that authored the report was Michelle Flournoy, expected to be Clinton's Defence Secretary).


"SAA soldier [says] that Saturday 25/06/16 (today) was the deadline given by Russia for U.S to separate 'moderate opposition' from 'unmoderate opposition'. Making most likely today the day of a massive regime offensive on rebels in Northern Aleppo esp after heavy airstrikes heard throughout the night by RuAF."

"Pro-Gov Syrian Twitter user in Gov held Aleppo city Tweeted during the night Russian airstrikes on rebels: "I swear to god I havent heard anything like this in 5 years in Aleppo! GOD DAAAAAMN... bombs, clusterbombs, rockets, missiles, artillery, everythiiing"

It seems the Russians have given up on trying to get the US to play ball, and thus their view is shifting toward the Iranian view of the conflict. However, I cannot see Putin committing regular ground forces to combat. Beside the Afghanistan gremlin, how does Putin justify Russian Naval Infantry dying for Syria while (in the view of the Russian public) he allows America's new Ukie vassals to slaughter their orthodox brethren in East Ukraine? Syria is just one of many strategic pies cooking in the Bear's oven. Putin cannot afford to let Syria develop into a black hole of money, men, and equipment. For Iran, however, Syria is an existential issue and thus if there is to be a significant escalation, it must come from them.


So let's say Russia, Iran and Hezbollah decided to double down on Syria and try to retake Aleppo and then perhaps some territory north toward Turkey in a 6 month window.

What would that look like? Would someone venture a guess on the number of men needed; the incremental equipment that could realistically be deployed from Iran or Russia given logistical constraints on Syria's ports and air transit? Also financing as it won't be coming from the Syrian government but from Russia or Iran either of which could, if they really wanted, fund or man this war?

Wild Guess presented for critique: Three to six times 5-10,000 defenders around greater Aleppo? ~30,000 additional men minimum? Additional armor around what 500+? Capital what $2-5 billion to start over 6 months? Iran alone has 350,000 men under arms - its not like their population base of 78 million couldn't field 30K men. These are important numbers yet reliable information is noticeably absent from open sources about the actual Syrian need and how that will be filled by Russia and Iran if the Syrian government is going to reclaim its territory. All we know for certain is that there isn't enough presently committed.

I would suggest there is more than enough brainpower on this blog to begin to establish a range of magnitude and a reasonable estimate as to how that would have to come about (port expansion, airfields, trucking routes if any), public budget appropriation from Russia or Iran or some black budget, actual resource estimates at least in a range of magnitude?



I have an exact force structure in mind but prefer to have you work it out for yourselves. The additional troops would be there for offensive purposes at the operational level of war and could only be considered defensive at the strategic level for the purpose of defending the existence of the Syrian state or the larger interests of Russia and Iran. pl

Eric Newhill

I saw a news clip the other day wherein some US Congress critter was pitching a fit b/c Boeing was set to execute on a contract to supply Iran with some aircraft that, according to the gentleman, could/would be used to deliver troops and supplies to the fight in Syria. In another spot, within a half hour of the first, the Borg talking heads were insisting vehemently on the need to sever the "Shia crescent". That meme is still very much alive, as is "Assad must go".

If the Iranians insert some 30k - 45K troops into Syria and Hezbollah has already committed a significant proportion of its fighters, isn't there a serious risk of the US, particularly with a President Clinton (neocon and sock puppet of the Saudis), getting the green light for all out war with Israel playing a role by attacking Lebanon? Isn't the US holding that possibility over Iran's head?

Only the Russians, I would think, have the juice to defy Washington with troop levels necessary to defeat IS, but even they may be concerned about Armageddon resulting - or at least some US led backlash on their borders somewhere. At least that is this complete amateur's take on the situation.

Eric Newhill (formerly "no one")

Babak Makkinejad

A new front against Saudi Arabia is being opened in Bahrain, in my opinion.

different clue

One can only hope, in all sincerity, that the highest level RussiaGov and RussiaMilitary thinkers and planners have people reading this blog ( as well as any other relevant blogs) and calling their senders' attention to all possible value here.

The other "semi-deadline" that the R + 6 is facing is the possible election of Hillary Clinton (though her actual taking-of-office would fit within that same 6 month deadline). If the R + 6 don't have all the rebellions so nearly exterminated as to make assistance to the Global Axis of Jihad so obvious and apparent that even a President Clinton would accept such help as being hopeless, a President Clinton would send in as much help as fast and furious as possible in order to achieve a Jihadi Victory in Syria.

So the R + 6 would have to win a near-total and irreversible victory by Hillary-time if they wish to keep Hillary out of it. ( The other thing the RussiaGov or other Govs could do is to release all the emails in the most damaging way possible at the best very-soon time so as to get Hillary taken off the board and someone else nominated. If someone had ALL the names of ALL the laundered-through-Canada donors to the Clinton Foundation rackets, that could also be damaging if it were ALL released in the fast best way to do irrecoverable damage to the Clintonites).



How do you conclude the Russian "public" is opposed to preventing the replacement of the current Syrian Arab Republic with a jihadist state? I propose that it is the Western think-tankers and assorted pundits who are anchored to the Russian Afghan "gremlin". Russian casualties in Syria to date are what, 11 KIA and a handful wounded? One of the KIA was a RuAF pilot shot in while he was descending in his parachute from the plane shot down by NATO ally Turkey.

You do remember the unprovoked attack by Turkey don't you? I'm sure that is more important to the Russian Republic than what happened to the USSR in 1980 though they surely remember how the "West" screwed them after the collapse of the communist government. Which also brings us to Ukraine. What have they (Ukraine) ever done for the USA? But I digress.

I recommend perusing the Syria category that should be in the tool bar on the right side of your screen.
See "Jihadi Apocalypse" game turn three with the proposed force structure: three ground division equivalents; an airborne division, two motorized rifle divisions and ancillary units in Syria. Along with three RuAF regiments providing airbase security. That is probably what's needed and within the logistics capabilities of the Russian Federation. They've had months to pre-stage equipment and ammunition. Maybe there is something in Hilary's emails about that since it isn't making the American news. We have important things to be told about, like the Kardashians.



I'm highly skeptical that Russia and Iran have the will to destroy the Liver Eaters in Syria. In my layman opinion, its gonna take significant men, materiel and money to crush the jihadists supported in various ways by the Sauds, Gulfies, Erdogan, Izzies and the West. My guess is that Russia and Iran will not follow the Powell Doctrine of "massive, overwhelming force" which will be necessary to win decisively on the battlefield.


Saladin also knew the value of Aleppo. His first siege of Aleppo was broken. But when he returned he finessed it by defeating the Turks at Tel Sultan, Manbij and Azaz. Aleppo saw what was coming and surrendered without a battle.

Too bad that al Nusra won't do the same. But perhaps they will think it better to go elsewhere instead of dying in place?

Trey N

"enemies who use humans in bomb laden trucks"

I can see the difficulty of detecting and dealing with car bombers in the cities; dressed as civilians and driving nondescript automobiles, they blend unobtrusively into their surroundings until the moment they choose to detonate themselves. I have no idea how to effectively deal with that problem in typical third world countries, given their usual budget woes and ill-trained/undermanned security forces.

What utterly baffles me is how a suicide bomber driving an explosive-filled car or truck on a modern battlefield manages to survive for more than a few nanoseconds. The air is filled with stray bullets flying everywhere, let alone RPGs aimed by men desperate to stop such a vehicle from atomizing themselves -- and these mother truckers somehow manage to successfully carry out their missions in many cases??!

Can you explain how this phenomena works, Colonel?

Chris Chuba

Without question Aleppo needs to be the main focus of R+6. However, I would love to see an additional force of Russian land forces take on the recently aborted drive to Tabaqa military airport. Not only because it is strategically important to start the blockade of ISIS by cutting them off from Turkey but also to keep them occupied.

If ISIS is ignored completely, they have a knack for popping up and launching random attacks on the Syrian govt forcing to respond like chickens with their head cut off. ISIS did that a little while ago where they captured one of Syria's natural gas fields and came close to overrunning one of their military airports near Palmyra, the Tigers were called in and as I recall, it took them about a week to restore the situation. So a Russian drive on Tabaqa against ISIS would help the SAA concentrate on Aleppo, the more important concern.

The ceasefire / peace talks were doomed when Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) was allowed to be part of it and then even made the chief negotiator for the opposition while the Kurds were frozen out. The fact that the U.S. supported this move and blocked the Russian attempt to declare Army of Islam one of the terrorist groups in Syria should have signaled the Russians that they did not have a viable partner in the U.S.

Here is an account by South Front on how effective suicide trucks can be to thwart offensives in newly acquired territory
This is but one vignette in the SAA's futile attempt to capture Tabaqa military airport on their own which ended with the SAA withdrawing from all of the territory they captured over a two week period in a mere 48 hrs. At least they had the good sense not to throw good money after bad.

What will Putin do? Sanctions are not going to be lifted, I don't see any possible political gain by holding back now.


There may be wholly pure and entirely evil actors in the world, I think. I struggle to identify them in my mind.

From childhood in the UK (born 1957) my conception of the US has been as a beacon of good.

Are there nowadays really, truly, solid, honest to goodness rationales governing US actions in MENA?


No worries, thirty thousand additional Quds forces are already there and an extra thirty thousand will join them soonest... That's a starter.


Israel conducted a pretty sizeable drill about a year ago practising to go through the Golan into Lebanon.

But I have serious doubts they will go soon. First and fore most Netanyahu hasn't called an election. Every Netanyahu election is based around a war even if he has to start it himself. Which is how he keeps getting elected.

Second Israel didn't really win the last war with Hezbollah. It was more of a draw and Hezbollah has much better and more missiles this time including some anti-air. The Israeli generals aren't talking "walk in the park" when it comes to Hezbollah any more. Besides there may be fewer of them but what there is, is certainly battle hardened.

If Israel is going to make a move with out provocation it will likely wait until they have moved the massive ammonia tank in Haifa. If attacked there is no way Hezbollah doesn't target it early.

A year ago Bibi was drooling at the prospects of war with Hezbollah but all the talk recently between Bibi and the new defence minister are about an even bigger war with Hamas then last time.

And as strange as it is to say it, Hillary isn't the one every one needs to watch out for it is Trump. If his aid is correct and he is willing to allow Israel to annex the West Bank which would include Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque which belongs to Jordan then it's game on all over the Middle East.

The peace treaty with Jordan would be finished as would likely be Abdullah along with the peace treaty with Egypt and the just announced detante with Turkey. Not to mention being a slap in the face to almost every country on earth. This is very scary stuff.


Bill Herschel

The New York Times (Dept. of "You Can't Make This Stuff Up."):

"Apart from creating economic turmoil, Britain’s calamitous vote to leave the European Union could have no less profound foreign policy consequences, weakening the interlocking web of Western institutions and alliances that have helped guarantee international peace and stability for 70 years."

If the last 70 years have been marked by peace and stability, I'd hate to see war and instability.

Peter Reichard

Negotiations were a "Plan B" attempt by the US to salvage a partial victory in the form of a coalition government,minus Assad,after Russian intervention turned the tide. I was surprised Russia agreed as a cease fire always benefits the weaker side,now the liberation of Aleppo will be more costly. The battle,perhaps the critical battle of the war has been rejoined. ISIS can wait. It is imperative that in seven months the new US president be presented with a fait accompli that precludes further US military escalation.



"Modern battlefield?" Not sure what that is really. When the thing starts coming at you it is moving fast and you have to hit it with something effective in vulnerable spot. from experience I can tell you that hitting a moving target while your hands are shaking is not all that easy. pl


Thanks for the link, FB Ali.

I keep forgetting how I should correctly address you, so whoever stumbles across my response understands that you are judging based on your military experience.

But if you don't mind, brackets and other signs cause slight problems:

The Drums of war are beating: Hezbollah versus Israel


It always seemed to be a matter of time, not if, only when.


Seems to be the point, since in this case there is no problem

Neocons and Liberal Interventionists — Like Hillary — Are Converging on Foreign Policy


This isn't a surprise either, I watched one institutional angle in the GB to get there. No doubt with a larger intend to get the whole European left into the boat.


I'd expect a traditional response to manpower shortages - more fire power. They may or could use additional fire power to "clear" entire areas (using MRLs). The VIEDs, bomb makers, supplies and bad guys are in known areas. You shoot it up until you get no bad guy activity coming from there. This will in turn result in another round of humanitarian outrage from outsiders.


BNW: Thanks, your argument makes sense. Let's hope you are right. It feels a very, very bad choice in time. But then, I am relying on the idea that Israel may seize the day at the appropriate moment. Analogy the neocons. Not sure how history and events could prove me wrong in Israel's case, looked at closer.

Basically I have the same lingering line of thoughts on my mind.

During the last decades a phrase on The Weekly Standard caught my attention. It went proudly: we are feeding the rage. But yes, the context may have been close to ideal for a seize-the-day scenario. Is that now the case for Israel? I somewhat doubt.

ex-PFC Chuck

John Helmer, a native of Oz who's been all over the place and currently bills himself as the "longest serving foreign correspondent in Moscow," reported what could turn out to be a blockbuster story: namely that "senior ministry-level people" in Germany have bypassed Merkel to conduct negotiations with Russia toward what will in effect be a reprise of the Treaty of Rapello that was signed between their two predecessor states in 1922. Helmer states that piece it is based information that has "been leaked by sources close to the two sides in the secret talks," and that the Brexit vote was a factor in their release. I suspect this isn't going over very well in Washington.


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