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27 February 2017


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Saw this twitter link regarding a US convoy arriving in Manbij today. Looks like Votel is holding to his word to protect Manbij. The Turkish proxies are probably too busy looting civilian houses in al-Bab and surrounding villages to think too far ahead about going against the SDF. But I understand the Turks have been shelling villages west of Manbij.



Assad wants to retake every inch of Syria, and he believes he can crush the Idlib terrorists when the time is right. For now, he wants to turn his forces to the East where to confront the greatest immediate threats to the Syrian Arab Republic's territorial integrity - Turkey and the Kurds. Turkey been blocked, but if the SAA doesn't play a part in liberating Deir-ez-Zor and Raqqa, they'll have been shut out from half the country (geographically).


The most important result of the SAA move is the cut of the supply line between Turkey and ISIS. This is now the first time that ISIS has no friendly route to the outside. Some smuggling will still go on through Jordan and Saudi Arabia but those are unreliable routes and do not allow for unobserved mass movement of ammunition and people.

The Pentagon's think tank RAND is (again) peddling an idea in which the Raqqa and Deir Ezzor get conquered by the Syrian Kurds but then ask for "international administration" and in consequence for a "legal" U.S. takeover of the area. (While this would formerly not include the Syrian Kurdish areas it would practically include those.)
It is a variant of the "Sunnistan" idea with all its bad attributes. A real "legality" of such an entity would be not exist. The UNSC would never agree to it.

The Kurds (and the U.S.) would be dumb to support this. Their area as well as Raqqa and Deir Ezzor are landlocked. All of the surrounding states, all potentially hostile, would be against such an idea. How would the U.S. have access to it and support them when Turkey, Syria, Iraq and (the easily destabilized) Jordan all say "No"?
The Barzani mafia clan that runs the Iraqi Kurdish area (a Turkish and Israeli proxy) is pressing the U.S. to hand the Syrian Kurdish area over to him. For the second time he send a delegation to Washington to sell that idea.
The Syrian Kurdish YPG is of course against such a move.


"the cut of the supply line between Turkey and ISIS." What you say is logical but it assumes that Turkey has continued to allow re-supply of IS even while fighting them since the intervention in Syria. pl

William R. Cumming

P.L. a question? Do all parties fighting have a seize and hold strategy in Syria?


Like us, the Turks do not speak with one voice. Some are for fighting Daesh, others still want to use them against the Kurds and/or the Syrian regime.

And the Turkish proxies are just as bad. Did they defeat Daesh in al-Bab? Or did they work a deal with them to leave and go to reinforce Raqqa?


these news recently caught my attention.

another random choice:

The Twisted Genius


IS killed a lot of FSA jihadis and Turks, but they left the minefield maps for them when they withdrew from al-Bab. Talk about a love-hate relationship.



Similar to the US/Russian love-hate relationship. But at least we are not killing each other.

LeaNder -

That Turkish wall is encroaching on Syrian land. They bulldozed hundreds of acres of Syrian olive groves to build their wall. You have to wonder if they will also wall off their 900 square mile enclave in northern Aleppo Province?


At US behest Turkey reboots Syrian war http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2017/02/23/at-us-behest-turkey-reboots-syrian-war/
Conceivably, with an eye on the new US administration’s reported plan to create an anti-Iran alliance in the region, Turkey is repositioning itself. There are several developments pointing in this direction. The US and Turkey have been holding a series of top-level meetings through the past fortnight since President Donald Trump made his first phone call with Turkish President Recep Erdogan on February 7. The American visitors to Ankara since then included CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford and US senator who heads the Armed Services Committee John McCain.

Meanwhile, Erdogan has undertaken the tour of the GCC states, which aimed at harmonising Turkish stance on Syria with Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s. (During Erdogan’s tour, Turkey and Saudi Arabia signed a defence agreement.) Ankara has noted that in the past fortnight there have been important visitors from the US to the Gulf region –CIA chief Pompeo, Senator John McCain and Defence Secretary James Mattis. Pompeo conferred on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz the CIA’s George Tenet Medal for his exceptional contributions in the fight against terrorism. It doesn’t need much ingenuity to figure out that the US is promoting a Saudi-Israeli alliance against Iran.

Equally, Ankara and Washington are edging toward a mutually satisfactory resolution of a discord that had set them apart in the recent past – fate of Islamist preacher Fetullah Gulen who lives in exile in Pennsylvania. Trump administration may act to curb Gulen’s activities, while Erdogan may no longer press for his outright extradition to Turkey.

Wheverever McCain goes, US imperialism kicks into high gear. It's understandable that the new administration is reaching out to it's allies in the ME and meetings are being held about the various geopolitical situations. They are going to want to "fix" whatever they perceive to have been wrong about Obama's team's approach so the US can be a "winner" again. Trump himself has said numerous times that he does not believe in sharing military or intelligence strategies with the press (though I expect exceptions will be made when it's to his advantage).

Since the goal of Pax Americana is influence and status, and not peace, it is likely that displays of "strength" will be forthcoming.


IMO, so far there is no change in US policy toward Syria. US/ and usuals wants Russia to end supplying helicopters to SAA. Back to old chemical attack BS.

"Russia pledged to veto a Western-backed U.N. resolution Tuesday that would impose sanctions on 21 Syrian individuals, organizations and companies allegedly involved in chemical weapons attacks in the war-ravaged country.

The draft Security Council resolution would also ban all countries from supplying Syria's government with helicopters, which investigators have determined were used in chemical attacks.

The resolution, initially sponsored by Britain and France, was recently joined by the new United States administration of President Donald Trump.


TTG, fellow SST readers:

In case anyone missed this, I'm attaching what an extraordinary article (written by a columnist formerly in the Turkish Special Forces, who deployed to Afghanistan btw) on the scale and ongoing nature of the purges. That a pretty clean sweep had been made of brigade COs and above is known. However, less so that purges are extending down to huge numbers of junior officers and senior enlisted personnel. Numbers are Stalin-level, and thing done in small batches so that people are always getting canned, which I imagine makes for great unit integrity and command climate. If this description of what's happening inside the Turkish Armed Forces is even approximately true, the thing's going to be combat-ineffective for a while. (helps explain also why force sent to northern Syria was so relatively small, just two brigades and a gaggle of FSA formations, grand announced objectives of "clearing" the right bank of the Euphrates and possibly advancing to Raqqa)]

'Former military prosecutor Ahmet Zeki Ucok, who frequently says the Gulenists inside the TSK [armed forces] still have not been totally removed(...) “For example, indictments say 80% of cadets enrolled in military schools in the past 10 years were Gulenist-oriented. This means that of 5,000 cadets enrolled each year, at least 4,000 are working for the Gulen movement,” Ucok told Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper.

Ucok also says the percentage of Gulenists is higher among the TSK's lower ranks. He calculates that despite the discharges there are still about 20,000 active officers and about 50,000 NCOs who identify with the Gulenist movement.
according to a retired colonel who spoke with Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, during the coup attempt the only Gulenists exposed were officers with the rank of major and above working at the chief of staff headquarters, force commands and other critical commands, plus a small number of Gulenist officers in field units. This retired officer thinks officials must continue weeding out lower-ranking officers and senior master sergeants.
Military sources told Al-Monitor that because of continuing clashes in the country's southeast, the decision to redeploy major units and continue Operation Euphrates Shield in Syria was made to defer further expulsions from the army and the air force. Major purges can therefore be expected from the army in coming months.' http
Another development noted in recent discharges was the change in methodology. Until October, expulsions of TSK personnel were routinely announced in long government-approved lists published in the Official Gazette. Discharges after October are now done every few weeks in smaller batches announced by the Ministry of Defense. A source told Al-Monitor, “These discharges are conducted quietly without attracting media interest and the attention of the public.”
In other words, it is highly likely that the TSK will spread its discharges over perhaps two years to smaller packs of 20 to 30 names without attracting much attention.
At the beginning of November, advertisements were issued to recruit about 1,400 officers, 3,600 NCOs, 7,159 specialist sergeants and 11,907 specialist privates. Army, navy and air force officer training academies that had been declared closed were reopened for 3,500 students to transfer from civilian universities.
For the first time, 200 officers and 500 NCOs will be recruited from the civilian public for the Special Forces Command. As of today, 6,129 people have applied as officer candidates for the special forces, and 11,368 as NCOs.
Traditionally, special forces personnel were selected from among volunteering officers and NCOs with outstanding records. Opening their recruitment to civilians via newspaper ads instantly generated debates on the quality and experience of potential candidates.'

Now, one might say that sympathies of the writer lie with many of the canned officers, but he wasn't rabidly anti-Erdogan before or after the coup, and . In general, highly recommend readers check him out here, http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/contents/authors/metin-gurcan.html (he's also good on practical details of the COIN campaign against the PKK, another rarity in English). I'll as ever be very interested to hear what other readers make of this.


Sorry I missed the link to report.

and this beauty from the same report

"France's U.N. ambassador, Francois Delattre, said Monday that his government was "very pleased that the new American administration has confirmed it shares completely our view" on the need for sanctions. British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said U.S. support was a sign that the three countries are determined to oppose the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and "make sure that chemical weapons cannot be used with impunity."


Interesting. it feels last time I read an article by him must have been quite a few years ago. In any case before he published his thesis.

Thanks Gabriel.


If B is right, then it would appear that Erdogan is planning to double cross Putin AGAIN.

Colonel, do you think that is a likely scenario?


My mistake. I was referring to the article by M.K. Bhadrakumar.
Sorry about that.


There have been reports that some supplies that came still through with the help of the Turkish intelligence service. The Turkish army cover in the occupied area is only light. People can move through without much problems. In Jarabulus, the first city Turkey "took" after ISIS moved out (locals say a deal was made), some ISIS people just changed the uniform.

Recently PMU in Iraq observed and photographed supply drops via parachute for ISIS in Tal Afar on two different days. They suspect it was a Turkish operation.

Not saying that I have proof - the reports are from the field and some are murky, but there still seem to be collusion between parts of the Turkish state and ISIS. With an SAA area between the two entities future contacts will be more difficult.


SAA has a retreat, bomb, retake strategy. I think it is true of all parties, they all have a problem with having enough troops to man their armies.

The Twisted Genius


That has been the truest characteristic of this conflict. No side has enough troops to man their armies.



IMO b is right in thinking that the sultan has been keeping his options open. pl


Once again rightfully so this morning, both China and Russia vetoed the western initiated UNSC resolution supporting Syrian Takfiri terrorists. After wards the new US ambassador to UN cursed China and Russia for denying her to give some comfort to the Takfiri terrorists. I fail to see any change in US policy on Syria, Ukraine, Iran etc. IMO, we are back to 2011 all over again.

Peter AU

Rather than concentrating forces on Palmyra/Dier Ezzor or Idlib fronts, Syria/Russia seem to have anticipated Erdogan's move and concentrated on connecting to SDF held ground blocking Erdogan. That operation cxommenced some time ago. I doubt there was ever any trust involved. Erdogan was used to prevent a US backed or controlled Rojava.



One bright note is that the new US ambassador to the UN is no longer the Governor of South Carolina and her national profile is going to start declining. We can probably be certain she will not wind up in the Senate or be anyone's VP candidate.

Peter in Toronto

Comparing this fighting to that of WW2 Europe is a little insulting to those combatants. The fighting in Syria and Iraq resembles gang warfare more than any sort of mechanized, maneuver warfare. Even large offensives as they are called enthusiastically by the people commenting on them are usually no more than battalion sized. The scale of operations is extremely limited.


Peter in Toronto

Not a real war in Syria? Perhaps you belong with the war pedants. pl

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