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18 December 2016

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Tel

https://southfront.org/syrian-govt-forces-prepare-to-retake-eastern-ghouta/

ToivoS

Somehow I do not see the significance of offering Muslims a Christmas truce since they use a different calendar than the West does. Their holidays fall at different times of the year than ours do given they follow some kind of lunar calendar that is 11 days out of sync with ours.

Babak Makkinejad

And now this:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-38373867

I think they had a rally for Aleppo on the 13-th.

Sylvia Demarest

On January 2, 2017 the Tiger Force Armor and other divisions remain on rest, resupply and re-Fit.
Major combat objectives since Christmas have remained; protecting gains in Aleppo, closing pockets of opposition around Damascus, and reinforcing Palyma and Dier-al-Zor. Clean up and rebuilding efforts have begun in Aleppo. Many people in Aleppo do not have adequate housing at present.
Battle plans are under development for Idlib Province; major objectives being 1) protecting the Latika, Hamah , and Aleppo Provinces from infiltration and attack; 2) designing a pincer movement to cut off arms and resupply to Idlib and encircle and destroy pockets of Jihadists as forces advance on the city of Idlib.
The timing of any new offensive revolves around whether a change in policy can be anticipated after January 20, 2017. Lines of communication have been established between the R-6 and the Trump transition but policy after the 20th is still unknown and the Obama Administration remains hostile.
Similarly, discussions continue with Turkey in an effort to close off resupply through the Bab-al-Hawa border crossing. These talks appear more productive given the large number of terror attacks Turkey has experienced since the murder of the Russian Ambassador on 12/19.
Discussions re changes in European policy also appear to be more productive given the increase in terror attacks in Europe along with increased fears of more attacks from returning Jihadists.
A scandal has developed over the reporting of "fake news" in the major US and European press concealing the atrocities committed by the Jihadists against the people of East Aleppo. There is also criticism of over reliance on the reports from "activists", the Syrian Observatory For Human Rights, the White Helmets, and other social media sources which are now being derided as "fake". It is unknown whether US/British/EU intelligence will attempt to recreate the same kind of social media networks in Idlib Provence they created in Aleppo that are now being accused of misleading the public. The US public is slowly turning against any further involvement with opposition forces in Syria.
Before the Idlib offensive can begin the following must be achieved: 1) reinforcement of defenses in Palmya and Dier-al-Zor to protect the northern flank, and 2) completing the clean up of pockets in East Ghouta and Yarmouk.
An offensive begun by Hezbollah and Lebanese forces to remove the Takfari forces from the Lebanese border has also begun and must succeed if gains are to be protected from infiltration from Jordon. Jordon has also experienced terror attacks and seems to be losing it's appetite for continuing to be the locus of US Special Forces training of Jihadists for the Syrian proxy war.
The al Nusra forces near the Golan will be allowed to remain for now, rather than provide Israel with an excuse to attack the SAS. These forces will be dealt with once the reconquest of Idlib has been achieved.
Meanwhile, Jihadists continue to receive weapons from the CIA via Turkey. It is unknown whether this will cease after January 20th.

frijoles_jr

IS will mount attacks on Aleppo residents living in government shelters, to reinforce the idea that the government lacks the ability to provide safety and security.

Also, expect a serious effort to overrun Tiyas AFB, keep R+6 thinking about Homs area

Annem

This is also a war of narratives, between the Western MSM and the R+6. This was of ideas and information is as critical as the military engagements, as it influences what governments on either side of the conflict are able to do on the global stage. As the SAA work to clean out Yarmouk and East Ghouta, the regime will make use of a huge media blitz aimed at reminding those remaining in such pockets of resistance that there are easy of the mechanisms available for a safe surrender. These are the steps they have used with previous area surrenders. They include transfer to Idlib of fighters who wish to continue with the jihad along with their families. For locals who took up arms to defend their neighborhoods and any others who wish to call it quits, the regime would employ the “interview and release” methods for them to be reabsorbed into the community according to the terms set by the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria agreements. This would also apply to the civilian authorities in these areas who “governed” during the conflict. Assad would also begin a highly publicized initiative to follow through on his televised promise to absorb such basically patriotic Syrian fighters into the armed forces if they wish to do so. Syrian media will show the newly “opened” areas receiving emergency supplies and people freely circulating in and out and meeting with relatives from the government-controlled areas. All of this will be carried out “as promised,” without any incidents of “revenge.” This will encourage jihadis elsewhere to put down their weapons or at least go to Idlib.
As for eastern Aleppo, the UN monitors and any Western journalists who wish to visit should be free to go anywhere that has been declared safe by the explosives experts and talk to anyone they wish. Most importantly, they must be encouraged to investigate the claims that there was a massacre/genocide of civilians during and following the fighting. This would involve seeking the remains of the mass of people who were reportedly killed by R+6 forces. Whatever is found must be examined openly, especially the scale of the killings. Regular press briefings for the foreign and local media should be carried out by R+6 military and civilian figures, including those in the medical field. The recent reporting from Aleppo by seasoned journalist Rober Fisk, a Middle East specialist, is a good example of what can be accomplished with free media access.
Idlib and the North: The Turks should NOT be allowed to supply rebel-held areas with anything but food and other emergency humanitarian goods, no matter who screams or threatens military confrontation. The R+6 must refocus international media attention on just who the different jihadi groups are that have been evacuated to Idlib. What are the beliefs and goals of each of the groups and what incidents are they responsible for in different parts of the country, including in Idlib province where they forced the people of Druze villages to convert to [their version of] Sunni Islam. Their sacred places were destroyed and mosques built. This is particularly true in the case of the nameless “moderate” forces evoked in the MSM.

Degringolade

Well:

I had a pretty well planned out scenario this morning when I went off to work, but now with "tens of thousands" reservists being called up and a dead Russian ambassador across the border in Turkey, the game has changed.

My guess now is that little happens during this first phase of the game. Next week is logistics, planning, and quite a bit of arm twisting by all side.

I do predict an pretty serious uptick in civilian terror attacks away from Syria.

TTG: I am not at all for certain the the "shit's on", but as my mentor MSG York always told me "never, ever underestimate the other guys".

The Twisted Genius

alba etie,

I didn't recognize this as war game input until just now. I still don't see what it has to do with the scenario, but it's a very interesting thought. You ought to think about writing a novel.

mike allen

ToivoS -

Hmmm, maybe you are right? But I understood that Alawites, or at least some of them, observe Christmas. Perhaps someone in this thread could correct me if I am wrong about that. Assad and his core supporters in Syria are Alawites, and many of his other Syrian supporters are Christian. So why not offer an Amnesty in December? He could soften it by also linking it to Mawlid, the Birth of the Prophet, which was just last week.

And if the hardcore Salafis do not accept it, all the better for Assad. Just for making the offer Assad gets brownie points internationally and particularly from the West. The headchoppers who refuse it get censure from the same people praising Assad's offer.

ann

After the assassination of its Ambassador, Russia decides to quit playing nice with Turkey and closes the boarder, thus shutting down the supply route for the rebels.

The rebels try to move northeast to meet with its forces being driven west out of Mosul.

The Russians, Syrians and Iranians move against the force from the west, south and north, forcing the rebels to the east into the swamp land around the Al Jaboul Lake

turcopolier

All

TTG and I have decided to add the following para to the first turn scenario.

"There has been a number of assassinations and explosions throughout Idlib province. Speculation abounds as to whether this is the result of continued infighting triggered by the influx of Aleppo rebels in the area or suspected payback strikes by Russian Spetsnaz for the assassination of Ambassador Karlov." pl

William Fitzgerald

1. The Tiger Force move to Damascus for rest and refit was a ruse de guerre and, instead, moved back to Aleppo by Christmas. IS forces are distracted by the Palmyra operation and the Kurd, Turk, FSA operations around al Bab. Nusra and associated militias in Idlib are busy with the influx from Aleppo of fighters and non-combatants.

2. On Christmas night the SAA led by Tiger Force attack westward on an axis Aleppo Bab al Hawa and SDF/YPG support by attacking south toward Danaa.

3 On 02JAN the highway from Aleppo to Bab al Hawa is controlled by the SAA. A counterattack from the vicinity of Idlib was utterly defeated and the Idlib prvince appears ready to fall.

WPFIII

turcopolier

mike allen

Muslims venerate Jesus and his birth which is mentioned in the Qur'an. Non jihadis often observe Christmas complete with Christmas trees and the works. I have been sent tape of Christmas trees in restaurants in Aleppo today. pl

mike allen

Thank you.

Thirdeye

I'll play, although my success rate with prognostications is approximately zero.

Factional politics associated with the new arrivals in west Aleppo province, along with perceived opportunity of having SAA attention diverted by the Palmyra front, will build pressure for some sort of face-saving action against west Aleppo city and/or the Fouaa - Kafraya enclave. IMO R+6 initiative will be mainly in the air to neutralize offensive threats in those areas while gathering strength for their next move. The biggest threat move R+6 could make would be an advance in the direction of Khan Tuman. Depending on available strength, that would put them in a position to move against the M5 and 60 highways, which would isolate the Jihadist stronghold of al-Rashidin, then move into the rear of forces in the vicinity of Fouaa - Kafrya or even move towards Bab-al-Zawa. So the scenario unfolds something like this: 1. Jihadists start bombarding west Aleppo and trying to advance out of al-Rashidin in the next few days; the response is heavy counterfire and aerial attack; result is intense clashes without much movement. 2. R+6 moves to neutralize remaining heavy firepower directed at west Aleppo and plays the attrition game east of al-Rashidin as long as the Jihadists are willing to oblige. 3. R+6 gathers forces for an assault towards Khan Tuman.

b

The short period until Januar 2 will be a build and refit time for the Syrian army. The Jihadis will mostly be busy with themselves while under constant Russian air interdiction. The CIA is busy to resupply and refit its al-Qaeda aligned troops in Idleb with surface air missiles but is soon stopped by Pentagon protests against the scheme.

On Christmas eve Al Qaeda will lead a massive attack on Fua and Kafarya which will break the SAA defenses. Large massacres ensue with many of the inhabitants, women and children getting killed. Video and news of this will be suppressed in "western" media. A storyline promoted by the various Saudi paid "analysts" and launched on the front page of the NYT will claim that Shia Syrian paramilitary, Iranian and Hizbullah forces using Sarin gas are responsible for the large scale massacre.

Having no ability to immediately prevent the killing the SAA and Russians will abstain from any response but massive aerial bombing.

The Syrian army has called up reservists. At the start of the new year these will be outfitted and take of the guarding of all non-active areas under government control.

The thereby relieved regular army forces will join the Tigers for a short rest and refitting period.

The Syrian 5th corps, trained and outfitted by the Russians over the last 12 to 18 month is coming online. They will be the spear aimed at Idleb though they first will be used to clean up east-Ghouta and enclosed Takfiri areas to gain some combat experience.

Rumors evolves about a combined Russian-Egyptian campaign to liberate Deir Ezzor to then move on to Raqqa. After the common maneuver in October and November the forces have become somewhat familiar with each other weapon systems and tactics.

Large numbers of tanks and infantry carriers are observed in Egyptian ports as they are loaded on the two French-build Mistral class helicopter carriers/landing ships. Russian ships have joined the Egyptian fleet, probably to run cover for Mistral sorties from Egypt to Syria.

A strong regiment of Russian paratroopers lands in Syria to join the Egyptian brigade that is soon to arrive. Their aim will be a wide ranging attack on Deir Ezzor to be launched at the same time as the SAA attack on Idleb governate.

In Iraq the Golden Division is destroyed after futile attempts to recover more parts of Mosul. It will be impossible to rebuild it. Saudi money and arms is fueling a new Sunni insurgency in Anbar province that will attack the Iraqi army and PMG positions in the governate. The western exit for ISIS from Mosul to Syria is reopened. The Iraqi government accuse the U.S. of facilitating the Saudi/Sunni moves.

ann

Asians stock pile caches of supplies throughout their country. When the explosions begin Assad is not sure if this is due to inexperienced fighters moving old unstable ordnance or planned attacks. His greatest fear is that the rebels are moving a mass of explosive material towards the damn at Tabqah to destroy the damn on the Euphrates and drain Lake Assad. This would take out much of the food and water supply for Syria.

trinlae

R+6 will reposition to track and shape Isis/AN/AQ census by closely tracking Israeli, Saudi, Turk, and US/Brit/French actions and resource flow vectors, while simultaneously giving aid distribution tasks to Syrian army and police for hearts and minds Santa Claus PR w locals. SA will also enlist Kurds when possible, sharing good guy relief optics in reward for staving off/holding lines against support reaching AN on Iraqi, eastern & northeastern Syrian and Iranian fronts. Players like Jordan and Lebanon will backchannel with R6 to push and pull AQ/AN survivors into Saudi Kingdom domains where survivors are given option of surgical RFID tags and ankle bracelets as condition of domicile.

rjh

The unexpected success at Palmyra from the spoiling operation leads to rapid re-fortification as the offensive units are withdrawn for more R&R. Primary SAA goals are:
1) R&R for major offensive units. There will be a number of smaller offensive pushes, but only one major offensesive.
2) Tie-in with YPG. The continued success of YPG is joined by R+6 efforts reaching for al-Tabaqah. The seizure of al-Tabaqah provides eastern protection to the primary supply line to Aleppo, ensures the Turkey and ISIS cannot coordinate, and is part of an agreed subordinate alliance of R+6 with YPG.
3) Other protective operations around Aleppo. The residential areas of Aleppo remain in range of jihadi artillery. The front line is pushed back in some locations, reducing the problems of artillery and infiltration bombers. This is done using the usual strategy of an initial larger front attack, then selective modest penetrations of about a km where weakness is revealed.
4) Elimination of isolated jihadi pockets. R+6 have already closed down a couple hundred jihadi villages and pockets. These efforts continue at full force. The newly called up soldiers are used as garison/police force to release experienced forces.

The YPG connection and other frustrations lead to low level conflicts with western powers. The jihadis and ISIS mount a campaign of terror attacks around Europe. These include efforts to break the relationship between Turkey and Russia. The goal is to restore Turkish support for ISIS and Jihadis, but it is too soon to see an effect.

Within Syria the emptying isolated pockets are filling Idlib with jihadi refugees. R+6 continue an extensive campaign of air attacks and covert raids to keep them from getting organized. R+6 offensive units on R&R are located where they can respond rapidly to attacks out of Idlib.

Degringolade

TTG et al:

I have been noodling around with Markov chains with reference to this latest scenario

http://setosa.io/ev/markov-chains/

Not saying right or wrong but interesting and perhaps useful

DH

The Damascus respite being a ruse, and the SAA being recalled from Al-Bab and other places, along with Hezbollah and 'good' FSA, and with the aid of Russia and US (lame duck Obama), descend upon Idlib on Christmas Day in Operation Jingle Bells. Mission complete by 15 Jan.

Mosul will stall through January while Idlib is mopped up, and R+6 work out their strategy.

A special Chinese envoy will visit Israel and discuss how Israel could be advantaged by the New Silk Road and eventual membership in SCO.

Sam Peralta

R+6 will focus on consolidation and recovery of the Aleppo areas that they just won from the jihadists. The emphasis here will be on building better defensive lines around Aleppo and some reconstruction efforts to aid the civilian population.

Offensive actions will be limited to a) pushing ISIS forces further back in the western desert, b) mopping up AQ areas around Damascus & Homs and c) air attacks whenever good intelligence is received and a general degrading of jihadist forces.

The Russians will use this period to bring more ground forces and equipment to Syria.

The Syrian Army will use this period to induct the newly recalled reserves and provide rest and refit to its active combat forces.

Most of the activity will be behind the scenes diplomacy with an emphasis on getting Turkey to sign on to stopping infiltration of men and material into Syria to back the jihadi forces.

kooshy

I will borrow colonel' estimation that there are not enough boots to waste on Palmyra. IMO the most important geographic prizes in the Syrian theater are Damascus since its the capital and seat of the government, the Mediterranean cost and the city of Aleppo. R+6 will regroup, re supply and nib at corners of Idlib till it finds a way to penetrate Idlib province from west, east and south. IMO the operation will be similar to Aleppo operation forceful mow and go from every directions including air except north. IMO jahadies will get slaughtered at the Turkish border of Bab al Hawa which means the gate of air may be the western supported jahadies can use some air.

DH

Oops, that should read Idlib Province.

Lex Lutheran

Aware that the Russian Orthodox "Christmas" falls on January 7, 2017, ahead of this Coalition forces are encouraging jihadist forces to retreat from Mosul. On December 29, Syrian reconnaissance has picked up jihadi movement near Abu Kamal on the Syrian/Iraqi border and fear that the rebels will be using the town as a base for future operations. Coalition forces appear to be dropping supplies. The Syrians are, as yet, unsure of the object of this staging, Ar-Raqqah? Palmyra? Russia has received intelligence that squads of Jordanian regular forces have been patrolling very close to the Syrian border, but is stretched too thin to do anything about this. The Syrians are also stretched.
On New Year's Eve, the United States declares that Russia is in contravention of international law and forwards a UN declaration condemning Russia and Syria for war crimes. A complicit Brussels takes up the call and "independently" decides to convene a special sitting of the International Court of Justice, against strident Russian criticism that this is out of the ICJ's jurisdiction because it is backed by a state that is not a member of the ICJ. While this is happening, Saudi Arabia, current Chair of Human Rights at the UN also opens an independent enquiry on New Year's Day and demands that UN observers be allowed to examine any Syrian/Russian placements for alleged war crimes. This is seconded by Britain and France. While Syria and Russia object that this will severely curtail their operations and may cause grave security challenges to their soldiers, China declares that it's sending troops to help patrol the Euphrates region in Syria, They also earmark more money to bolster their military base in Somalia.

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