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11 August 2016


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Jordan MacTaggart, a Coloradan volunteer with the YPG, was KIA in Manbij just two days ago. He was the second from Colorado to die fighting with the within the last month in Syria.


The Twisted Genius


Quite a few foreign volunteers fighting with the YPG have been killed over the last few weeks. MacFarland said there were only 12 SDF fighters killed in the fighting for Manbij. What that indicates to me is that it is the YPG that is doing the bulk of the fighting. If that 12 figure is anything close to accurate, that means that there may be more foreign volunteers with the YPG than there are SDF fighters.


I was wondering about the unlikely casualty-rate of 12 SDF - which, formally, does include YPG - vs. the 2.000 ISIL-people supposedly taken out. Simply leaving YPG-losses out of the count would explain the figure mentioned.

Peter Reichard

The fall of Raqqa should be a final rather than an immediate goal. Taking territory may look good on the battle map but wars are won by destroying armies which depend on logistics. A link up with the SAA west of Al Bab will finally isolate all the rebels south of Manbij from their Turkish lifeline and create a new supply line to Afrin and Aleppo. I fear that the temptation of a political victory will prove to be too strong and they will move south instead of west just as the allure of liberating Paris and Rome may have led to lost opportunities for decisive victories in World War Two.


Turkey FM told NTV a transition in Syria with Assad is not possible. This comes *after* the pow-wow in Moscow (of which John Helmer was rather sceptical). So, in reference to the Russian-Turkey-Kurd-Assad square, it looks like the Sultan still wants to have his cake (Assad gone) and eat it too (no Kurdish state). The Russia Turkey rapprochement so far seems largely diplomatic and economic - a return to the status quo before the Su-24 was shot down.

I hope the Kurds do continue toward their Afrin canton to impress the choice between them and Assad in starker terms on Ankara. Rustle some jimmies.


I sure would like to see the map LTG MacFarland refers to.

GEN. MACFARLAND: Yeah. Well, first of all, Turkey is a NATO ally. They provide us with all sorts of important support for this campaign. And I would anticipate that that will continue.

As far as the Russians go, I'll give you an example of a challenge that they presented, and that was bombing a camp full of Arab resistance fighters that we were working with in southern Syria.

Is the "New Syrian Army" the group he is referring to?





So, the US plan is to direct the YPG/SDF to Raqqa to fulfill Obama's political dream of a legacy of victory. I, too,would "go native" and urge the Kurds to follow their own destiny. Neither of us would last long after doing that but, FIDO. pl

The Twisted Genius


Yes, that's the group. I think it can best be described as a lame old donkey with a paper horn taped to its forehead that the coalition is trying to pass off as a unicorn.

The Twisted Genius


FIDO indeed. I'd like to think our brothers with the YPG had something to do with the CJTF decision to support the Manbij offensive rather than pushing the drive to Raqqa weeks ago. I think I hear the faint sound of "The Rising of the Moon" with a Kurdish accent. Perhaps you hear it, too.


The IS supply line from Turkey has had at least covert support from AKP (not bothering to shut it down counts as support). Was/is this due to...

- using IS as tool against Assad/Baathist/Secular gov't of Syria?
- using IS tool against Kurds?
- actual support for IS' goal of reinstating the/a Caliphate?
- high-level bribery/extortion? (KSA funds to AKP?)
- plain old (low-level) corruption & incompetence?

AKP/Turkey can't be happy about YPG success; they are not fooled by the "dress" labeled "SDF" (made in USA!). Have we talked/bribed them into dropping support for IS, allowing it only for other anti-Assad groups (Sunni, non-Kurdish ones at least)? If so, why wouldn't the supply lines to IS have evaporated already?

If AKP isn't ready to give up on IS, they'll be pissed about the loss of Manbij.

What can/will they [try to] do about it?


Yet another upbeat no problems here assessment from a General Officer in the "sand box". Seems that as a group they have been saying that everything is going well for over a decade, yet no victory. They have a huge credibility problem.

The Kurds in the SDF are excellent. The Sunni fighters are typical for Arab forces. The only good news is that the ISIS Sunni fighters are no better than the Sunnis in the SDF. It seems like ISIS foreign fighters do most of the heavy fighting.

What ever the SDF does next it will be slow and preceded by overwhelming amounts of American fire power that destroys everything ahead of them. I'm not expecting much from them (except for the Kurds).

I'd rather see us support the Kurds in taking all the territory along the border with Turkey. This would cut ISIS/JN LOCs. It is also generally believed that one should avoid (if possible) attacking into enemy strength. Raqqa is strong, the border is not as strong.

We probably will not do that given Obama's sensitivity to Turkish wishes as well as election year considerations.




Yes, "a marching tune." pl

Ishmael Zechariah

Col. Lang and TTG,
I have yet to read and understand a coherent ME policy except PNAC, and that should really be re-named PNIC. In the absence of a policy, I find it hard to understand military actions of the USA. Thus my question:
Could you please speculate on the long-range plans of the USA for the kurds? Are SF being fielded to help kurdish aspirations from humanitarian concerns? Do you think the kurdish corridor so dear to the Borg will achieve peace in the region? Is there another plan? Also, do you think tayyiban Turkey is the only nation supporting and supplying "ISIS" at this point?
Your comments would be much appreciated.
Ishmael Zechariah

The Beaver


Surprisingly no one asked about the fiasco at Abdo Kamal when the op was aborted, some New Syrian Army soldiers were captured and their weapons were looted by ISIS. This happened because the air strikes they were promised were diverted to Iraq when news came that the Iraqi forces were pursuing ISIS fleeing the South of Mosul ( hence the destruction of Qayyarah AB by ISIS when they realised that they couldn't hang on to it).

More than two weeks after the fact at Abdo Kamal, here comes CBS news, last night, announcing to the world that there are moles within teh New Syrian Army and showing ( I would believe) the same video that ISIS has broadcasted two hours after they looted the weapons.


>At least a dozen SDF fighters have been killed in the battle

Well that's an understatement. IMO the fact that it is taking 2.5-3 months to clear out this town initially defended with 600 ISIS at the very most, totally surrounded facing both numerical/air superiority, shows the uphill battle the SDF faces in this theater. The entire offensive has been one big salient for 3 months now,with ISIS controlling very strategic high ground/forest surrounding it.As evinced by the major ISIS offensive to the north in the past 3 days the SDF will have no choice but to consolidate in some direction after Manbij is cleared. But I do not think that they are operationally up to the task. Certainly far more than a "dozen" SDF were killed in manbij, I do not think that they can operationally sustain losses for another Manbij-type battle in both Al-bab and jarablus, which they are sure to face; never mind Raqqa et al

The Twisted Genius

Ishmael Zechariah,

We use the Kurds in whatever way we can in order to further our goals in the region. We don't give a rat's ass about the aspirations of any of the Kurds. That's the way it's always been. My first experience with this policy occurred in 1988. I was tasked to convince a Barzani to provide support to our potential operations targeting Iran. His contention was that Iran was not the problem, Saddam Hussein was. At that time, we didn't see it that way and didn't care what the Barzanis thought. In that vein, the Borg don't give a damn about any Kurdish corridor. Their focus still is "anybody but Assad." My own opinion is that the Rojava Kurds should seek federation or some kind of semi-autonomy within a greater Syria. An independent Rojava between a hostile Turkey and Syria is not viable and a sure road to suicide.

OTOH, those who worked with the Kurds for any length of time generally grow to admire them. 10th SFGA has a long history with the Kurds extending back to our First Gulf War. The current SOFCENT commander was a 10th Grouper both as an A Team leader and a Group Commander. Perhaps he has developed a soft spot for them. However, SF is not working with the Rojava Kurds out of humanitarian concerns. They are there to defeat IS.

The Gulfies are working with the Turks to support IS. Why we continue to kiss any of their asses is beyond my comprehension. We should be sanctioning the Gulf sheiks and covertly draining their money until they can't support their Wahabbist adventurism. And then quietly tell Erdogan he could be next unless he drops his support for the jihadis in Syria.

Babak Makkinejad

There is a coherent strategy: "Israel above all else", "Keep Iran down", "Pump the oil".

Babak Makkinejad

I agree, Kurds are the geopolitical cannon fodder used by the states around them.

I told one of my colleagues back in 1985 that it would be a good idea for US to settle with Iran but he could not see the necessity of that - I imagine he was imbued by the hubris that often befalls the very powerful and the very rich.


We kiss ass
for cheap gas.

But we ARE draining them, too. KSA is bleeding $B in Yemen, Syria, etc. When they run out of gas, or we finally bother to invest in alternatives, they'll be SOL, PDQ.

My concern is the Madrassas they have built around the world. That will take time to fix; so far, nobody has a good fix for the contagious mind-disease they spread. Prosperity MIGHT help; maybe a well-targeted drug epidemic (like how cocaine helped kill 1960's leftism). What would give the people who jump/fall into terrorism a reason to live & love rather than kill & die?


For marching tunes, my candidates are : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaPk9yYWQcM

Both are originally Irish.


I'm highly suspicious of the entire Abo Kamal incident where ISIS supposedly captured a bunch of new weapons. I'm not completely convinced any battle even actually took place. Seems like a very convenient way of arming ISIS to me. Same situation near Azaz along the Turkish border how there were constantly skirmishes going on between the unicorns and ISIS, where ISIS would take back territory that had been lost just days prior and capture and bunch more weapons and supplies. It would all be one hell of a cover for arming ISIS and it works like a charm.

FB Ali

"We use the Kurds in whatever way we can in order to further our goals in the region......the Borg don't give a damn about any Kurdish corridor. Their focus still is "anybody but Assad".

I fully agree!

Of course, "anybody but Assad" would likely mean Jihadis. That would just add to the list of countries the US has 'opened' to them. It appears crazy from any rational angle, but the Borg's policy goals have never been rational.

Ishmael Zechariah

It appears that I did not formulate my question properly. You state "We use the Kurds in whatever way we can in order to further our goals in the region". What I was trying to ask was "What are those US goals in the next decade or so?" These goals are probably orthogonal to Russian interests-given statements such as those of Morell.

The Borg's quest to oust Assad might be based on the existential threats Iran and Hezbollah might pose for the masters of the earth. There has been speculation and some evidence that the izzies support IS, and some speculation that IS is a Borg construct. I am not sure that decisive destruction of IS by the Russian axis is an outcome desired by the Borg. I might be wrong.
Things are getting curiouser and curiouser.
Thanks for the response.
Ishmael Zechariah

Babak Makkinejad

In regards to the mosques & madrassas in the European Union, I should think that there are two steps that EU authorities could take:

1. Restrict their funding sources to EU sources and apply the same funding policies that are currently applied to the official Christian denominations; make them state-supported (since the time of Napoleon.)

2. Draw up an official syllabus of what Islam is - emulating the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China in their dealings with Islam.

The number two step, in effect, would mean that there would be no freedom of religion in EU when it comes to Islam.

Over the years, and in the light of repeated deadly attacks against the Shia, the Christians, and the Sunni Muslims from a variety of the 4-schools in Pakistan over decades, I have regrettably come to the conclusion that there are million, perhaps tens of millions, of souls who are mentally ill in that poor country.

We saw what happened when Wotan took over the German people - per the diagnosis of Carl Gustav Jung - and I fear for Pakistan as well as her neighbors.

I do not know what can be done about all these mentally deranged people in Pakistan, however.

Lastly, in my view, likely a minority of 2, the only alternative to Jihadists etc. is the Usuli Doctrines of Shia Islam.

I know that the sight of all those emotional Shia Muslims beating their chests in their multitudes during Ashura is an embarrassment and an affront to many Sunni Muslims all over the world; but it is only there that you will find any compassion, mercy, and delicacy of feeling in Islam.

Your best friend in that endeavor against Jihadists, Salfis, neo-Salafis, Wahhabis, Deobandis and assorted other benighted and lost fellow-travellers, again - being a minority of one, would be the Islamic Republic of Iran - in my opinion.

Babak Makkinejad

Iran and Hezbollah do not pose any existential threats against the United States or her formal alliance members of NATO.

Israelis do provide medical services to Jihadists; I have read such reports over the past few years.

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