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13 December 2016


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alba etie

It will be interesting to see if Erdogan refrains from actively intervening on behalf of the remaining Liver Eaters in Idlib province . IMO we are always just one or two bad decisions away from a major regional conflict in the Levant . Meanwhile it's being reported that the National Unity Government forces in Libya have expelled Daesh from Sirte.


I assumed that the ISIS attack on Palmyra was at least partly a U.S. supported operation intended to suck Syrian and Russian forces away from Aleppo. As such it failed.

Lavrov today claimed the same as a private opinion.

ISIS is seeking new grounds. It has to give al-Bab to the Turks, the Kurds will role in a bit more on Raqqa, Mosul will be gone. The Syrian-Iraqi desert, with Palmyra as one anchor looks like the next place to go. That will be a mess for Jordan too. Deir Ezzor is in danger as a second anchor.

Isis is thus useful for the U.S./Saudi/Israeli aim of disrupting the "Shia crescent" from Iran to Lebanon. It will be kept alive, in this or another form, unless the Syrian, Iraqi and Russian force eliminate it.



I am as yet unconvinced that the US military will have betrayed its Iraqi and Kurdish allies by cooperating with IS in this. The US military has certain standards of behavior and this would be way outside those standards. They do not work for CIA and I doubt that Carter would have had balls enough to order this, but I am open to persuasion in this matter. IMO the eastern Homs/Palmyra is not a workable re-location site for IS, too much desert, not enough population. The Syrian and Russian air forces will eat them alive out there when they are no longer distracted by the main effort. pl


Alba Etie

It will be entirely up to the Russians. pl


"As such it failed."
Has it. From what I can glean from Twitter, the T4 airbase is already be cut off from road reinforcement and it could be lost tonight. That would leave what remains of the 4,000 - 5,000 ISIS fighters that captured Palmyra only fifty miles from Homs city with no obvious defensive lines between T4 and Homs.
Latest map:

This is working too well to be just an ad hoc local effort as I first thought and I doubt the Qatari and Saudi armies are capable of coming up with anything that works, so I guess that means someone in the west drew up the plan and left it lying around for some ISIS messenger boy to pick up and deliver. I don't see any western militaries being involved and I also doubt MI6 would do it without a pre-signed pardon so that leaves the DGSE and CIA or someone who works closely with one or the other.
No real evidence for this so make of it what you will.


I can see that the populations of Fouaa and Kefraya call for the liberation of Idlib now but otherwise I would think the appeal of liberating the main road to Hama first is generally underestimated.



I would agree that the ISIS retaking of Palmyra sounds like opportunism. However the remark of the former British ambassador to Damascus, Peter Ford, that US satellite intelligence should have seen them coming is also true. It is several hours drive across open desert from Raqqa or Deir ez-Zor. It is typical desert warfare like the Brits in Libya in 1940-2. Nobody stops you driving across the desert; the battle takes place at the destination. However, today US satellite intelligence should have detected the movement, and didn't do anything. That doesn't necessarily mean US collaboration, rather US opportunistic exploitation of what they saw happening. Not US collaboration with ISIS, but a rather less than complete desire to eliminate ISIS. Which is what we always thought. ISIS is not the main enemy, Asad is.



IMO enough force will be committed to prevent an IS advance west of Tiyas. I hope that more than the minimum necessary is not committed until the main tasks are done. As for the CIA or MI-6 writing a plan and then an IS nutjob finding this in an Ah! Ha! Eureka! moment, that is laughable. For THE PLAN to work for this jinadi Cochise he would have to be able to shut off US and Russian ISR. No. Either Ash Carter ordered a cessation of interdiction on Obama's authority or NOTHING. pl


Twitter is flooded with tweets from "people" (likely bots) claiming to be in Aleppo and watching the slaughter "firsthand", with lots of "THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING" style agitprop as favored by leftist fabulists.



"should have seen them coming is also true." IMO, not necessarily, arguments from supposed capability always remind me of a civilian colleague in DIA who asked me why advertised capability seldom matched actual performance in technological systems. She was right, basically, whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Until a couple of years ago when I asked to be de-briefed as a consultant for several Executive Branch departments I had some idea of present capabilities, so I am not hopelessly out of date. Things have not changed all that much since I retired. I remember the days of the Polisario Front beduin guerrillas' seemingly endless war against Morocco over ownership of the former Spanish Sahara, their homeland. The Polisario lived in refugee camps in western Algeria. These were hundreds of miles from the bermed up sand wall with forts that Morocco had built along the eastern border of the former Spanish Sahara. The Polisario would sally forth (usually in sand storms) from their camps in a hundred or so little columns of a dozen or so "technicals," and also four wheel drive bigger truck, advancing on parallel routes toward an objective in the Moroccan wall. While moving forward they relied on very low wattage hand held radios to coordinate their movement. These radios could not be heard from outer space. We had SR-71, We had satellite photography. We never detected any of these movements. the Polisario would assemble for the attack within a few kilometers of the objective, attack, overrun and then withdraw unscathed toward their camps in Algeria. What were you saying about inevitable detection? pl

FB Ali

I would suggest it's entirely possible. There's the precedent of the air strike on Syrian troops in Deir Ezzor. The enquiry found a series of "errors" that led to it. AFAIK no one has been disciplined for any of them.

If people can get away with acts of commission, acts of omission become much easier to perform (eg, sitting on surveillance information). I doubt if a mouse can move in Eastern Syria without being picked up by the US drones, planes and satellites covering the area night and day.

There are very few officers with such a sense of right and wrong that they would need a direct order to not do their duty. The general anti-Russian attitude of their commanders would be enough for them to perform such actions without any explicit instructions.


Oh, and don't forget the cats! The cats are being killed by Hezbollah gas attacks on a local shelter. Yes, Sylvester and his cuddly friends are being systematically murdered by evil Hezb. There may have been people inside as well. Real event for what effect? A couple dead cats in a field, supposed to get a rise out of the free world and bomb Russia I suppose.



I hope they remember to eat the cats. That is what the Germans did at the end of WW2. Interestingly the Germans did not eat many dogs. Bless them. I had one of the survivors as a pet. pl


FB Ali

I await proof. pl


Palmyra is only symbolic, but I'm worried about Deir Ezzor. Especially, if IS is chased out of Mosul.


"The general anti-Russian attitude of their commanders would be enough for them to perform such actions without any explicit instructions." Correct. The road to mutual destruction has been paved by opportunists of Morell/Hayden kind - unprincipled, viciously opportunistic in their lust for comfort and prestige, and incompetent and cowardly at the same time. The US "deciders" (and their Israeli handlers) have been eager to let the genie out of a bottle and hen they are getting surprised that there is no place on the planet to hide from total annihilation of the human race.


"ISIS is not the main enemy, Asad is". Right. - For the Israelis.


Col. Lang: Notwithstanding your arguments in favour of benign motives and actions there are, as you surely must know, harrowing reports issuing daily, e.g. in the Guardian, of videos, tweets and email messages being sent by people trapped in Aleppo, describing in eye witness terms a murderous assault on a civilian population and pleading to be saved from an imminent wholesale slaughter.

Are these to be discounted as false or cynical? As mere anti-Assad and anti-Russian propaganda? Am I, reading about all this, to think of myself as deluded and sadly misinformed?

I set great store by your opinion and am keen to be enlightened.


My contention is that they didn't see them coming because they were already there. The attacks on the palmyra checkpoints as well as the outlying fields,notably shaer, have been unceasing since march. A far cry from the Russian claim of thousands of attackers(this would be unprecedented for IS-the only offensive they have ever launched with more than hundreds was kobane) this was a coordinated action by small groups totaling in the mid to high hundreds,with high hundreds being extremely generous. A few hundred of these would have been gradually brought in by batches of dozens from the DeEz front and others(just like they brought in the groups and armour that took ramadi,they brought in these under far more scrutinize US air cover and it took everyone by surprise-including the bulldozers dump trucks tanks et al),but again I fully believe they they were simply already there all along. I believe it is far too easy and dangerous in the long run to discount the extremely high battlefield competence of the enemy and reflexively blame the nebulous hand of the greater powers that be,whoever that is. Both sides reflexively do it when losing to IS.


Tiyas certainly isn't symbolic and things are looking grim.this opens up a whole new line of front starting with recently repopulated qaratayn if the Syrians don't get it under control soon



You are easily duped in the propaganda process long underway. pl


Sorry, I was being sarcastic about the Gulfies. By ISIS messenger boy, I meant someone in the Qatari or Saudi military who has links to ISIS.
How effective would Russian ISR be that far east with the current focus on Aleppo? There are reports that the Russians left a couple of hours before ISIS arrived and ISIS have put out a video which shows the Russian base in Aleppo. It looks like it wasn't easily defended and they left in a hurry, someone even left his Mastercard behind. So maybe they had some warning, but how long would it take ISIS to cover the 150km from the Euphrates Valley to Palmyra on roads. Three to four hours?
Would the US military in Iraq do anything directly if they saw a large number of ISIS trucks heading towards Palmyra? With the briefing against Iran after the Iraqi PMU blocked the exit west of Mosul, probably not. By the time it was reported back to the Pentagon, ISIS would have been engaged around Palmyra and be Russia and Syria's problem.

The Twisted Genius


I share your contention that the attackers were already there. They probably number in the hundreds at best and certainly not in the thousands. I'm surprised this front remained static for so long. One can look back to Rommel's experience in North Africa that became known as the Benghazi handicaps. Battles raged over long distances and usually favored whoever attacked first.

Ken Roberts

There's a good discussion of the cats at Moon of Alabama. But here, courtesy of a link in the comments of that discussion, is the original "dead cats" photo -- from Bozeman, Montana, 05-Nov-2005, a mountain lion and a house cat, dead in field, electrocuted from a utility pole -- with snow in the field. Good ... no cats were injured in the making of the latest "bad news from Aleppo" film.


On December 9, 2016, Eva Bartlett, a young independent Canadian journalist held a press conference at the United Nations. Bartlett has traveled extensively throughout the war zones in Syria, speaks Arabic, and appears as knowledgeable about the role of western "journalism" in that war as anyone.

This is an excellent video of her press conference. At 13:22 in response to a series of questions from an establishment journalist, she answers your questions about those reports of so-called mass atrocities in an absolutely devastating take-down of western reporting.


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