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09 December 2016

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RogerSpenser

Trump may talk about 'draining the swamp' but the Syrian army and its allies are really draining a swamp.

Their work is almost done in Aleppo then the Syrian army will commence to drive the foreign supported terrorists out of Idlib.

Armenians and other Orthodox Christians are in the Syrian army along with Sunni and Shia Muslims that are determined to eject all foreign entities from Syria.

Barish

"Now the Palmyra attacks must be dealt with. If I were in charge I would send the new 4th Army Corps to deal with this."

Minor correction, my understanding is that the newly formed assault group is in fact called the "5th Corps":

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-officially-forms-5th-corps/

ISIL shenanigans in Tadmur's surroundings look more like a raid to grab a depot or two more than anything else. Earlier in the year ISIL did the same thing further west of Tiyas base and aways east of Damascus towards as-Sin -air-base, and once SAA got going with a major force they made a run for it. Don't think this'll be different.

Stumpy

FBI review of hacking... hm, ironically what are the odds that Comey's FBI would find nothing a reasonable prosecutor would bring before a judge.

According to reports from PBS, http://wvpublic.org/post/aleppo-residents-under-siege-risky-journey-relative-safety, mixed results for liberated Allepians, all taken with a grain of salt, naturally.

mike allen

Regarding Palmyra, Coalition air reported that they destroyed 168 Daesh oil tankers near Palmyra. No mention on the BDA source.

http://www.inherentresolve.mil/Portals/1/20161209%20Strike%20Release%20Final.pdf?ver=2016-12-09-095104-813

elaine

1096 militants surrender, 953 are granted amnesty, wonder what's up with the 143?
Frankly I'm shocked that fighters can do all the killing & damage these fighters have
done & just walk. Shocked.

LeaNder

Last paragraph of Palmyra link or the last issue of the video if you like.

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama ordered a waiver for restrictions on military aid for militant forces in Syria, deeming it “essential to the national security interests” of the US to allow exceptions from provisions in the Arms Export Control Act. The order includes responsibility to the US secretary of state to work with and report to Congress on weapons deliver proposals, requiring 15 days’ notice before they are authorized.

I am getting slightly confused once again. Tell me why. I thought that issue was recently already somewhat 'enshrined into law' by senate/congress? or did it need an additional presidential waver?

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/12/08/presidential-determination-and-waiver-pursuant-section-2249a-title-10

The Beaver

Elaine

The 143 must either be foreigners or known to be anti-government. Quite a few of the local militants are from the rural areas and join the fighters for whatever reasons.

Serge

Palmyra silos just fell, confirmed by both sides. A bad situation just got very bad

The Beaver

So Sec Def is sending another 200 troops to Syria to take Raqqa from ISIS:
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38274191

The cheek: Mr Carter added that Russia, Syria's main ally, had "only inflamed the civil war and prolonged suffering".

The Beaver

Trudeau is so keen to play amongst the big boys at the UNSC ( yep Israel need another backer) that we have this:

Joe Biden: World needs Canada 'very badly'

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38268887

and then at Turtle Bay:

UN envoy Churkin: Russia to vote VS Canada-sponsored GA resolution on Syria ceasefire, it says nothing on fighting terrorists.

https://twitter.com/Amb_Yakovenko/status/807560718816051200

Annem

When will the US and other "Western" allies figure out that if these jihadis have a place in the future of Syria, Christians and the other diverse groups that make up the Syrian people won't have a place? OR, perhaps, they simply don't care. It is Turkey and Saudi Arabia we seem bent on satisfying.

elaine

Columbia recently announced they're giving amnesty to FARC & allowing
FARC to run in elections, hence Columbia's President receiving the
Nobel Peace prize. Amnesty seems to be a new trend globally.

Luis

Elaine.
It's Colombia. And there is no amnesty. Peace process with FARC will have its own transitional justice system. Political participation is key in most peace process. Btw Santos deserved more the Nobel Peace prize than Al-Qaeda movie makers aka White Helmets.
Luis.

Thirdeye

They don't care.

Thirdeye

Update: SAA counterattacked at the silos and in the Jabal Tar mountains to the northwest.

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-counterattacks-palmyra-outskirts-order-secure-city/

Pundita

"ISIS militants capture most of Palmyra city" BREAKING NEWS
By Ivan Yakovlev -11/12/2016
AMN

The so-called "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) have captured the ancient city of Palmyra (Tadmor) in the eastern part of Homs province after main contingent of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) withdrew from the city. The aforementioned terror group claimed this through its media affiliate, 'Amaq agency'. A bit late, military sources speaking to Al-Masdar News confirmed this information.

The militants consequently captured Al-Amariyah district and a hilltop of the same name, Officers Housing complex, and the Citadel of Palmyra, which made any further attempts to hold positions inside the city completely senseless.

According to several reports, some SAA units still remain in the city providing cover to their comrades that retreat westwards. After retreat is complete these units will withdraw as well.

DETAILS TO FOLLOW

[END REPORT]
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/breaking-isis-militants-capture-palmyra-city/

Serge

Huge amount of incompetence from the syrian side, but equally huge amount of competence from ISIS. Coordinated pincer movement along the very long kms of front starting thursday was impressive, I would have never thought they still had it in them

Serge

Tiyas is already under attack. Notable that ISIS started this offensive on thursday by attacking all the mountains/gas and oil fields that SAA retained control of after the loss of palmyra in may 2015.

Annem

The 143 may well be guys known to have committed specific egregious crimes. The government forces also reportedly pulled out of the lines of fleeing civilians men of military age who were pointed out by the others in line to have been fighters trying to sneak out pretending to be non-combatants.

My sense is that we should be taking these jihadi. My guess is that once the ISIS "state" "caliphate" loses its capitals, it will cease to be anything as grandiose as a state, just a bunch of losers fighting for their lives. That is when AQ will step in and say, "WE TOLD YOU SO, YOU PRETENTIOUS EGOMANIACS!"

Those still wishing to fight somewhere will repent and go back to the mother organization. The advantage is that without counting territory as their measure of success, there is no downside to any tactic that allows you to hide for a while to fight another day. This will be an ego booster for those always skeptical of ISIS, like the main body of fighters in Sinai.

This is NOT good news for anti-jihadi fighters, especially in Syria where individual jihadis have long been moving back and forth among organizations. When they try to separate out, if they even try, the AQ-Nusra folks from the supposedly..ha ha moderate jihadis, they will likely find almost no "Nusra" until they are set free.

AQ has networks around the world, including in the West, every bit as extensive, or even more so, than ISIS, and so there will be no peace dividend for all this effort fighting terrorists, just a lot of blow-back.

Chris Chuba

ISIS is competent. This looks like an opportunistic strike. The SAA's best units are in Aleppo, they waited for their two adversaries to fight it out and when the Al Qaeda coalition was on the verge of defeat, they pounced. Since Deir Ezzor is now a fortress, Palmyra was the best target.

I read some account, probably from Southfront, that said ISIS moved in new forces from Deir Ezzor for the offensive. I actually like that the Syrians aren't panicking and rushing in the Tigers. I just hope that they can beat back ISIS with some other units. I hope they can encircle some ISIS forces rather than just push them back or just establish a holding position, but any demonstration that they can hold back ISIS while conducting an offensive against Al Qaeda north would be a huge leap in capability.

I don't know the SAA's status, we'll have to wait to see what R+6 will do next.

Pundita

Maybe they still don't have it in them. I've been following this Battle of Palymyra since the wee hours today and it got stranger in the telling with each passing hour.

And from Sputnik a Russian military intelligence report was that 5,000 IS fighters had moved from Mosul to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. And another report that about 4,000 among those fighters had then moved to Palmyra.

So what is the reader supposed to believe? That IS built a two-lane highway underground from Mosul to Raqqa? And then from Raqqa to Palmyra?
Or that Russian drone operators surveilling the above-ground routes were all out to lunch or sleeping on the job?

Even so, how did the Iraqi military and the US drones and satellites also miss the convoys out of Mosul? Lines of Toyota pickup trucks going across the desert with machine gun nests sticking out of the truck beds. How could they be overlooked in the thousands?"

Now somebody commenting at Moon of Alabama actually had an answer. Here is part of what he wrote. I swear I am not making this up. His name is Harry and he's #13 in the comment thread
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/12/open-thread-2016-41.html#comments
:

"US has advanced weather forecast prediction, which ISIS obviously dont possess. Then US made Iraq to stop attacks on Mosul to give IS a break, and then by exploiting a heavy mist in desert and Palmyra, moved around 4000 (estimation from different sources are 3800-5000 terrorists) fighters from Mosul, Deir Ezzor and Raqqa to attack Palmyra."

So, under cover of fog, an army was spirited out of Mosul, then to Raqqa, then into Palmyra with help from a US weather satellite.

Another reader at MOA guessed that the IS fighters who descended on Palmyra are actually ones who'd fled Aleppo.

What I think is that everybody, from the military commands to the commenters, is now suffering from Syrian War Dementia. This was brought on by months of lack of sleep, and growing fear that this war could turn into a replay of the war between the Romans and Persians, I think it was, which lasted something like 100 years and led to the rise of the Caliphate because the Romans and Persians finally exhausted themselves and their coffers fighting each other. They both went broke.

It was something like that, and if it wasn't 100 years it was still the longest war in history.

Anyhow, all is not lost for the good guys in the Battle of Palmyra. I think AMN's source in the Syrian military walked back in a later statement some of the worst news in the AMN report that I featured here.

I can just hear the information officer: 'Hey, when you put what I said in writing it seemed a lot worse in Palmyra than it actually is.'

[banging her head on the keyboard]

Don't mind me; I'm just suffering from a bout of Syrian War Dementia. I'll be all right when I get some sleep.

Serge

I wouldn't doubt that they moved some forces from Deir Ezzor as well as the Homs front. I'm highly skeptical of some claims I've seen of them moving troops from Iraq, these claims trying to tie all of this to Mosul(and link it to the US in some conspiratorial fashion). Regardless, ISIS clearly remained in force around Palmyra for the past 9 months, I would be very surprised if this current offensive involved more than 400-600 militants(RT I believe was claiming 4000 earlier today, which has no basis in reality IMO), what percentage of those coming from other fronts I would have no idea. ISIS seems to successfully maintain a very decentralized frontline structure with very few militants shifting in between apart from specialized "stormer" units.

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