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22 February 2017


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TTG, Sir

Is this the beginning of the end of ISIS in Syria? What is the end game for YPG/SDF?

I read that Marine Le Pen was in Lebanon recently and said that Assad was the best for Christians and Syria considering the alternatives.


"I also hope Mattis and McMaster can disabuse Trump of that cockamamie idea of Saudi-funded safe zones in Syria."

"Why he’s still pushing that idea is beyond me."

Maskirovka in info ops to lull the Gulfies, their paid media merchants and other assorted supporters of this policy into believing they are going to get their way would be a good guess.

Chris Chuba

TTG you are the military guy but is there a chance that ISIS is choosing where they want to make a stand based on terrain and their lack of resources? ISIS is very shrewd, given how much time they have had to prepare, I am expecting that they have some defensive scheme in mind. At Mosul, the outskirts also fell pretty easily before it became a meatgrinder.

I found their decision to defend Al Bab baffling given how exposed it is but they have successfully rebuffed the Turks there. I don't know if there is some other motive to defend Al Bab other than that they can, perhaps they think that they can still pick up some Jihadis in the North or at least are reluctant to lose contact with them.


Thanks TTG, good scoop.

I saw some unconfirmed reports two days ago that SDF announced a new phase to thrust towards Deir ez Zor. Didn't know at the time if that was true or possibly disinformation to befuddle Daesh. But the lower right arrow heading SE along the banks of the Euphrates on your last chart may confirm that plan.

I concur with your sentiments re Turkish anger. But they will probably sooth their hurt feelings by destroying a few more Kurdish cities within their own borders - which the media has been ignoring.

The Twisted Genius


I think it's still too early to call this the beginning of the end. The jihadis have clearly not had the initiative on this front for quite some time. My guess is that they will still put up a stiff defense of the Euphrates River valley and Raqqa. The battle of Deir ez-Zor is certainly draining the jihadis' ability to act against the YPG/SDF.

Whatever the endgame is for the YPG/SDF, I firmly believe it is our responsibility to see this through the demobilization and/or integration of those forces into the SAA. We and the Europeans really let the Libyans down by our failure to work as hard on this last phase of a U.S. sponsored resistance as we did in toppling Gaddafi. The Libyans ended up paying for that mistake.

The Twisted Genius

Chris Chuba,

It definitely looks like the jihadis are intent on conserving their forces rather than contesting the YPG/SDF every step of the way. However, I am confident the Kurds will not waltz into any meatgrinder. They did a pretty effective job with Manbij.

Sylvia D

What are your thoughts on whether the end result will be the partition of Syria?

The Twisted Genius

Sylvia D,

I don't foresee a partition of Syria. It would be bad for Syria, Turkey and especially the Kurds of Rojava. Rojava may end up with more cultural autonomy and some robust military force integrated into the SAA. I think that would be the best outcome for all.


I certainly agree with you about the Turks

Chris Chuba

Fair enough, I didn't mean to suggest that the Kurds would do anything foolish, just that the rate of their progress could easily grind to a halt.

Regarding Mosul, I bet the Golden Division really did take a pasting. I started sensing that something was wrong when they issued a big press releases about 'eastern Mosul' being liberated, as if the battle was over. It looks like this was to give them cover so that they could take a month off to refit and not let on that anything had gone wrong. Now I am reading that up to 500 U.S. troops and select PMU's are participating in the Western Mosul campaign. I understand that you have to make adjustments. There is no shame in that. Also, ISIS is absolutely, ferocious in defensive battles. I am just amused at how the are handling the PR, at the 'nothing to see here' tone. Our reporters, by and large, seem to buy into the narrative that everything is going along just fine.


I thought ISIS got its funding from Saudi Arabia. I hope the weapons sold to Saudi Arabia don't come back to haunt us.

Peter AU

So ISIS is on a suicidal offensive against Syrian/Russian Deir Ezzor, but collapsing in front of US backed forces?
Why have ISIS been pulling forces from the Raqqa/US front to push a suicidal attack against the Syrian government in DE?
Easier to hold ground than to take ground. It seems ISIS still has state support amongst states that are antagonistic to Syrian government.

Babak Makkinejad


When discussing the "Turks", I should like to bring your attention to the Republican People's Party. That is the party of Alevi Turks who have been opposed to the AKP's Syrian shenanigans. They are Kemalists out of fear of Muslim rule.

The religious and ethnology-linguistic divisions that plague Syria and Iraq also afflict Turkey. AKP, has been, in effect, living in a glass house and throwing stone.

No one has as yet, to my knowledge, tried to ignite a religious war between Alevis and Sunni Muslims, that does not mean that it cannot be done.


Good thing to note the terrain in this case, note how SDF gains skirt the greenery, rather than a collapse these flat depopulated areas are barely if at all defended by ISIS. The SDF made a "pocket" similar to this one to the north of raqqa in mid january, it was even bigger than this, and it turned out ISIS had left behind,get this, 2 fighters in the entire pocket.

The Twisted Genius


McCain is an elected U.S. Senator from Arizona. He is Chairman of Senate Committee on Armed Services. U.S. Senators and Congressmen often travel overseas especially if they're sitting on a committee dealing with foreign affairs, national security or trade matters. Tulsi Gabbard, the Congresswoman from Hawai'i, recently caught holy hell from her trip to Syria, even though she sits on the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. The difference between McCain and Gabbard is astounding.

The Twisted Genius


Fighting in this region seems to be done on the squad and platoon level. Sometimes it seems to be a sniper's war.

The Twisted Genius

Babak ,

Perhaps the Russians have pointed this out to Erdogan with a veiled warning. Something like, "Nice country you have here, gospodin. It'd be a shame if anything happened to it."


It must be nice encountering an ISIS guy every other village as they flee without firing a shot. As opposed to the way ISIS throws everything they have at the SAA around Palmyra and Deir Ezzor.

The Twisted Genius


It would be even nicer if the Kurds could cut the roads between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor largely unopposed and with few casualties. Those kinds of successes cause giddy exhilaration among combat commanders.



I am quite curious about the different ISIS capabilities (or strategy) comparing Palmyra and Deir ez Zor (where we have seen very strong/capable ISIS action) and the area being captured/cleared by the SDF?

It would seem that serious priority is being placed on Palmyra/DAZ and I wonder what this implies? One obvious difference would appear to be ISIS in offense vs. defense?

About two weeks ago, Cassad's blog reported on a press visit (Anna News) to DAZ. This report included two interesting items: effective drone use by ISIS to target the press team and causing a near fatal wound to the senior officer hosting the press team and SAA troops engaged in the tough fighting with the ISIS salient indicating that the ISIS fighters had much better thermal and night vision equipment, which was a considerable challenge at night.

I also wonder why key ISIS fighters have better technology access (at least in some important areas) than SAA, given the importance of holding DAZ??

The Twisted Genius


I'm just as curious as you are. My educated guess is that IS does not have unlimited resources and has chosen to concentrate their "good stuff" at Palmyra and Deir ez Zor. If the YPG/SDF offensive continues as planned, IS will be forced to reallocate their resources.

Where do the jihadis get all their "good stuff?" They got a treasure trove of up to date U.S. equipment when they overran the Iraqi Army in the early days. The Saudis and Qataris have been pumping everything they can through Turkey to their jihadi surrogates. The U.S. helped by pumping equipment to the unicorn army who, in turn, passed this equipment on to IS and AQ, willingly or not. The Gulfies need to have their fat wallets stolen.


Erdogan's AKP has surely tried but failed. The Alevi smelled the trap. The Sunni side is much more powerful and has no moral limits when hitting the "Kufar".

If someone wants to ignite something in Turkey they will arm the PKK.

Remember the video of a "PKK" guy taking down a Turkish helo in east with an SA-7+? Expertly filmed and published on Youtube?

That WAS a demonstration. Guess where that came from ...


The "demonstration" that you mention most likely came from a powerful nation state. UKUSA or Russia, depending on context.

Babak, CHP is broader than just Alevi, and with better leadership could provide a good alternative, though the AKP techniques of "electioneering" are very professional and dedicated, as well as better organised at grassroots level, using the Muslim Brotherhood playbook.

Don't count out a NO to Erdogan. The Turkish voters gave a 90+% yes to General Evren's post coup constitution but then dumped his preferred candidate for prime minister to third place, voting in Ozal, just a matter of months later. Ozal was the US favourite, though.


ISIS have redrawn from al-Bab today which is not surprising given the untenable position the SAA put them in by almost surrounding them. Without help from the SAA the Turks & Co would still have been stuck outside the town.



The French translation, (thank you) mentions tunneling on both sides of the Tabqa Dam. Which is 200 foot high earthen damn. Hopefully they don't get too much rain, this could be very serious problem.

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