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30 July 2016


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Some months ago, Russia's program working with local communities in Syria was briefly mentioned here as a good example of how they were willing to get down into the nitty-gritty.

I've been following their progress (at the MFA's twitter feed) and things really seem to be accelerating. Three months ago, truce agreements had been signed with representatives of 83 inhabited areas. Two months ago, 128. End of last month 170 and, as of yesterday, 310, with nine signed on the day (five in al-Suwayda, three in Latakia and one in Homs).


Some here will no doubt have a far better sense of what this means in detail but it does seem like very good news.



Looks like the perhaps climactic jihadi counter-attacks have begun at Aleppo up around the Castello Roadblock and in the SW perimeter of the government forces defending west Aleppo City. If these fail with a great loss of personnel, this may well be the last big effort the non-IS rebels can mount against the encirclement. In re the actual population in rebel east Aleppo. I don't know but am sure interested to the answer as to how many there are. One of my "wonderments" about the situation is the apparent absence of IS pressure against the east side of the government encirclement at Aleppo City. At present this can be attributed in part to the commitment of IS forces at Manbij, but does that explain the whole phenomenon? Lastly, if there are a lot of prisoners taken at Aleppo, what to do with them? One thought would be to seek to spread the non-jihadis around in SAA and allied units where they can be supervised closely. At the same time the non-IS jihadis might be formed into auxiliary units with small arms and committed against IS (their enemies) in appropriately difficult situations. IMO if you do that the presence of a lot of government firepower on the start line of the attack would be good idea. pl


IMHO, this might relevant in regard to Turkey at present: http://johnhelmer.net/?p=16140


FB Ali

I think what the Turks are alleging against Gen Campbell is that he plotted with Turkish military officers in Afghanistan to prepare the coup.

Whatever the truth of that may be, in view of the fairly large-scale intelligence presence inside Turkey, that foreign deployment would have been a good place in which to plot a military coup.

If there is an American hand in such preparations, Afghanistan would be one of the likely places in which to suspect its presence.


Rebels reporting they have mobilized over 5,000 dismemberment enthusiasts for East Aleppo assault. Boasting govt perimeter will crack presently. They're burning tyres everywhere to try and block visibility for warplanes. Nonetheless, I expect we shall see a spike in SAAF and RuAF sortie generation.

I get the impression of desperation from the rebel side, but I also recall loyalists units in the eastern part of Aleppo lost ground when they came under pressure before the renewed tiger force backed offensive to the north.

FB Ali

Yes, the Russians are doing more than just bombing jihadis and providing arms and training to the Syrian government.

As with so much else of their intervention, they are displaying wisdom in keeping in mind the longer-term results of military action, and consolidating these as they go along.

Chris Chuba

Unfortunately, by now it is well established that the U.S. print can cable news is 100% unreliable on these matters. That the U.S. cable and print will just echo what the State Dept. and the BORG collective says.

This has been documented by Stephen Kinzer of the Boston Globe, Obama's Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, and others. The U.S. western MSM have been stripped of their foreign correspondents. We might as well be reading Pravda circa 1957.


"What can these lunatics possibly be thinking? That if they can't rule the world, they'd rather destroy it?"



As almost every Islamist group in Northern Syria from Latakia to Deir Ezzor is involved in the new battle to break the siege of Aleppo I have to agree that this is a defining moment.

Even if the Islamists aren't completely broken their narrative is going to be unsustainable. If they lose this battle how do they claim that the next one will be even bigger and more effective? They already have every one they can possibly bring there. It is going to look like they are just throwing meat in the grinder ala WWI. And if they sent this many, it is a clear indication of how important the battle is.

For sure there are hard core believers who are looking at the after life as a good deal tthat will keep going till they are dead. But the not so committed who may have been going along to get along or just aren't so sure they want to die just yet will surely have a moment of pause if they can't break the siege.

different clue

Trey N,

That means the R + 6 have 6 months to get the rebellion so irreversibly destroyed all over Syria that Clinton will have no stub left to build back out from if she gets the Presidency. Do the R + 6 understand themselves to be racing the 6-month clock? If so, can they focus on the most important dominoes ( whichever those are) and satisfice between "hurrying up" to get the job done and going slow enough to get the job done right the first time because there will be no time left to redo the job a second time?

As William S. Burroughs once said: " Take your time, kid. ( How fast can you take your time, kid?" )

different clue

Sam Peralta,

We can prevent these nihilists from inflicting harm on our societies by killing each and every last one of them in Syria so they are not alive to return to our societies. One wonders if the RussiaGov and the ChinaGov see it that way?

Ideally for the people of Syria, the rebellion would be crushed and erased as fast as possible, at the price of permitting some jihadis to survive. In that scenario , it would be "second best ideal" to at least catch and kill every single foreign jihadi in Syria and let precisely zero of them survive , if possible. A way to do that might be to seal the borders against anyone leaving, and once the border was sealed, and total government control achieved within the country, then the Syrians still in-country might well be willing to finger every foreign jihadi trying to hide and evade detection among the Syrians. Perhaps if the government were to give aid and house-rebuilding priority to those Syrians who deliver-up provable foreigners among them to the government.

The most perfect ideal outcome would be if a small part of the most worthless desert of Syria and Iraq could be cordon-sanitaired off and hermetically sealed, and ISIS allowed to fight on strictly within that area, and every foreign jihadi-wannabe who wants to fight for ISIS would be allowed to get into the ISIS reservation so that they were all concentrated inside it. And once it was very clear that no more foreign volunteers were going to keep arriving and entering the ISIS reservation . . . at that point kill every foreigner within the ISIS reservation by whatever means convenient. But the risk of permitting an ISIS reservation to exist is that it might attempt breakouts or atrocities withIN liberated Syria, and the SyriaGov might not want to take any trace of that kind of risk. And that would be understandable.

different clue

robt willmann,

How big an Ultra-Violence force would America have to bring in there by plane and helicopter gunship and etc. to intimidate the Turkish forces from responding, if such a thing is possible?

If it is possible, would it make sense for America to do that and keep the base safe from Turkish attack just long enough to get all the A and H bombs out, and then dismantle and remove every single American-owned thing of value, and then destroy every single American-owned thing of value which can't be removed, and then remove all Americans while departing? ( Of course, doing that would assure that Turkey would probably drop out of NATO. With any luck, such a dropping out would lead to NATO breaking up out of existence. The European powers who wanted some kind of natoid alliance to stay in existence could then form their own NEATO . . . stands for North East Atlantic Treaty Organization).

michael brenner

I, too, heard Cohen on the Batchelor show this Wednesday. The Addendum was that the Kerry initiative re. Syria, portrayed as an earnest of Obama's desire to do some fence-mending with Putin, has been undercut by Carter et al by downscaling it to an invitation to Russian to join the American-led coalition. As usual, Obama can't make up his mind - or, is of two minds each of which is feeble.

There are some signs that Obama has given a flickering green light on the aggressive strategy toward Putin/Russia/Ukraine all along. They include: 1) the leader of the 'war party' actually is Joe Biden who speaks on a regular basis with our Ambassador in Kiev, to Poroshenko, and gave a pep talk to their Parliament a few months ago; 2) Obama's own public remarks about Putin have been consistently disparaging to the point of insult; 3)the actions taken by NATO were under American initiative and of a kind that necessarily involve the White House. It is true that he permitted Kerry to approach Putin personally with the outline of a plan for some measure of cooperation in Syria, and he clearly doesn't want a confrontation between now and January 22. But within days it was shot down publicly by Carter and others, and now is a dead letter.

One hears that Putin has given up making sense of Obama whom he does not regard as a serious statesman. He treats him like an overgrown but immature adolescent who must be treated gingerly lest he do something self-destructive while tentatively encouraging any indications of adult thinking/behavior.

Trey N

Totally agree, the clock is ticking -- very loudly.

Looking back at how efficiently and effectively the Russian military intervened in Syria last fall, and how quickly they reversed the dire situation there, I'm pretty confident that they *can* accomplish all they need to do in the next six months.

Whether they *will* or not is another question. One more inexplicable "truce" like this spring, and the whole situation in Syria will be completely FUBAR.....

Trey N

The old Soviet Pravda was a beacon of shining truth and veracity compared to the lamestream media in the West today.

Trey N

I like your ideas, especially having the locals finger the foreign mercenaries The only good mercenary is a dead mercenary, no matter who, what or where the bastard comes from -- Chechnya, Libya, or the US, civilian or ex-military. Kill'em all without trial or mercy, wherever and whenever caught. There will never be peace in this world as long as despicable creatures who kill humans for money are allowed to live.


Trey N

"The only good mercenary is a dead mercenary." Does that extend to all the enlisted men of the FFL, or Steuben, Lafayette or the many foreign volunteers on both sides in the WBS? They were paid. pl

Trey N


Once you start splitting hairs about "freedom fighters" this and exceptions for that, you inevitably end up with "how many angels can dance on the head of a pin." Foreigners who kill for money are simply pirates who deserve the traditional fate of pirates when caught.

Being a Texan whose family has been here since the Republic, this view might seem to put me in a conflicted situation re the "heroes of the Alamo."

It doesn't.

The New Orleans Grays and other mercenary groups recruited in the US had no legal standing when they entered the Mexican province of Coahuila y Tejas, and Santa Anna had every right under international law to execute them as mere pirates -- which, of course, he did. The execution of Fannin's men was a diplomatic blunder of epic proportions, but it was perfectly legal.

The same situation applies to the jihadis in Syria today (their black flag is so ironically appropriate). As Santa Anna warned: "Citizens of foreign nations caught in arms fighting against the legally constituted government of Mexico will be shown no mercy."

(As an interesting aside, he was scrupulous about the clause of "caught in arms." One group of US mercenaries came ashore on the Texas coast and, luckily for them, were captured before they had unloaded their equipment from the ship. They were given white armbands to distinguish them from Fannin's men captured at the Battle of Coleto, and were not executed on Palm Sunday but were allowed to return home.)


Trey N

IMO you are remarkably naïve about foreign soldiers who are paid. Men's motives are often mixed. Have you ever been a soldier? pl


Im wondering what the coup attempt means for Turkish support for the jihadis? I assume a lot of material and personnel pass through Turkey to Syria . Does the coup attempt make it easier or harder to facillitate that support? If harder is the Incirlik situation a signal to the jihadis from Erdogan that he still has their back whatever might happen short term? Im thinking that Erdogan can't just say "Sorry boys Im pulling the plug on you", because he'll have all those pissed off jihadis coming back through Turkey. But he'd probably just let them pass through to Europe anyway. Sorry for so many questions. Thanks


The rebels strike south of Aleppo.


Trey N

No. I caught a fishhook in my eyeball when I was 4 years old; that disability kept me from passing my army physical exam.

Many members of my immediate and near family have served in the military over the years, as well as ancestors since 1775. They did their duty when called upon and then returned to civilian life; none were professional soldiers that I know of.

Men's motives might be laudable or not, but they are irrelevant as far as the law is concerned. Robbing a bank to feed the poor will still land you in prison.

With certain rare exceptions, such as your FFL example, mercenaries have been executed when caught throughout history: Alexander killed every Greek mercenary he captured who was fighting in the Persian army. When English kings captured the castles of rebellious subjects in the Middle Ages, they released the local levies but executed any and all mercenaries in a garrison. Such men have generally been reviled throughout the ages, and for damn good reason.


Article here with a gloomier take on the Russian intervention as it currently stands:


Unsure whether the claims about the military potential of Russia's Syria contingent are accurate. Encircling Aleppo was a big deal. Also, how is it that Iran is short of manpower? Does he mean capacity for a long range deployment?

Anyway, the author's essential point is that faced with a hostile West/GCC and numerically insufficient SAA, Russia will have to enter ground combat itself or pull the plug on the military operation. However, this may be a false dichotomy. The status quo can be maintained, or gradually amended in Assad's favour by a grinding down of the terrorists. If Turkey continues curving away from the neo-ottoman policy, the latter is a distinct possibility.

I recall the Col. mentioned at one juncture the advisability of a Russian ground deployment too.


And are getting countered as of today, both at the 1070 complex and further south...so the battle's on.

Meanwhile, they are boasting having shot down a Russian MI-8 with 5 people on board. Ugly pictures around of that, but it won't help them.


Trey N

Was your vision impaired in the eye? I am not impressed that "many" people in your family served in the military. You did not. To suggest that some virtue transfers from them to you is absurd. This is equivalent to Gingrich citing his step-father's career as evidence of his own virtue. As to your point about "mercenaries," I take it that would apply to anyone serving in the armed forces of a country not his/her own. In fact, it is quite legal to serve in another country's armed forces. We did not execute captured German soldiers of the British king in the War of Independence. The Brunswickers were his subjects as a German noble but the Hessians certainly were not. Many, many foreign soldiers have served in the US Army over the centuries. Immigrants are often not citizens when they join the Army. The Army of the Indian Wars was full of such people (Irish, German and British) Such people still serve. Legal resident aliens are allowed to enlist and can even hold a commission as a reserve officer. The people who you see being sworn as citizens when in uniform were obviously aliens serving before they were given citizenship. Were they mercenaries before being given citizenship? My sainted uncle John served in both the Canadian and British armies in WW1. He was not ever a citizen of either of those countries. Many Americans served in the RAF in WW2 or in the Lafayette Escadrille (French Army) in WW1. Would the Germans have been justified in executing these people when captured? BTW I suspect that execution of captured military personnel on the basis that you favor is illegal in both US and international military law. pl

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