24 February 2017


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Is it possible that McMaster and Mattis might want to use a different strategy altogether, like deploying more US ground troops to accompany the Kurds and stop supporting the jihadists altogether??

Maybe McMaster thinks the CIA plan is stupid and not worth additional support?

It seems to me, that after 6 years of failing to achieve their objective, it might be a good time to give the CIA the boot.

But I have no experience in these things, so I don't know the answer.

The Twisted Genius


I share your consternation about the Idlib rats nest. It is an accident waiting to happen. However, I'm consoled by the troubles that are plaguing the jihadis of all shades in the area. The FSA unicorns appear to be having their asses handed to them by the jihadis formerly known as Nusra. The CIA-led support has been suspended. Government spokesmen say it's just because of the uncertainty of the FSA's future viability. I'd like to think Trump has been smart enough to rescind the finding that authorized that CIA support in the first place. The Saudis and Qataris won't say squat about the suspension.


Colonel, I'd appreciate your insight on a few Syria issues. Apologies if these have been covered in another comment thread.

- Do you have any thoughts on why the SAA is focusing on pushing that salient into Eastern Aleppo? To cut off IS, to cut off the Turkish-backed rebels?
- Re your point on Idlib, agreed. What do you think will need to happen for the SAA to move on Idlib?
- With the announcement that the Turkish-backed rebels are going to move on Manbij, do you see their endgame as a Turkish-controlled buffer zone inside Syria or something more?

Finally, thanks for a must-read site, even for this leftie...


TTG et al

IMO eastern Syria; Deir Al-Zor and Raqqa are important to the fight against IS but not really essential to the survival of the Syrian state. If the Trumpists have caused him to cancel the "finding" that allowed support to the AQ connected jihadis in the west, so much the better, but actually I don't think the "mix" of forces on the anti-IS fight in the east matters very much so long as there are enough of them. Nevertheless, Aleppo city and no Idlib Province were and are core and vital centers of Syrian population and economy. Idlib Province can not be left in enemy hands. pl


I think Assad is reluctant to touch idilib just yet. If CIA has stopped supporting idilib groups, he might wait more.

I think SAA will try to link up with kurds in East Aleppo. So that Kurds will have unofficial land route to their conclave in the west without fighting the Turks.

I also think that kurds and SAA is going to Deir Al-Zor. I think it would aid Assad in appearance sake.

I think someone has made a deal on above two (east aleppo and Deir Al-Zor) between Assad and kurds.


*kurdish enclave. not conclave.


John McCain took a quiet visit to Syria. How might this affect things?


Idleb will be taken care of when it is time for that. It is necessary to clean it but not now.

Two big powers are actively invading Syria's east and threaten to occupy it for many decades. There are very significant oil and mineral resources in the east which are needed to rebuild Syria. A hostile "Sunnistan" in the east would be a never ending dagger at the heart of Syria. The Qataris and Turks (with the U.S. behind them) still want their south to north pipeline through eastern Syria which is considered a serious competition for the natural gas imports from Russia into Europe.

The east IS important to Syria, to Russia and to Iran. Two priorities: 1. To block further Turkish movement to the south. 2. To secure Deir Ezzor from a U.S. takeover and to establish a secure route towards it (possibly with the help of Iraq.)

Meanwhile several hundred Jihaids in Idleb have killed each other. Why interrupt them?

The U.S. military, instead of the CIA, is now running the show from the White House. It has not shown any more strategic foresight than the spooks. (One hopes that Tillerson prepares for a more active role.)



I am weary of your endless bigotry against the US. Go away. pl


A serious question, not just making trouble. What bigotry?
b's comment seems innocuous enough and not particularly about the US. What part of it do you thing wrong or biased?



You have not been paying attention. b consistently depicts the US as the "evil empire" striving to subjugate the world so that US capitalism can loot the economies of everyone. If you have not noticed that you share his opinion. Ah! I forgot. you do. pl

The Beaver

KSA Chihuahua FM made a "landmark" visit to Iraq. That visit was supposed to happen 3 months ago but was continuously postponed by the Saudis.
This, a day after Iraqi PM Abadi ordered the IrAF to bomb ISIS positions inside Syria (approved by Damascus), especially the Husaybah-Albu Kamal region on the Iraq-Syria border to prevent the flow of ISIS suicide bombers to Baghdad.

Jubeir told Abadi that KSA wants to "cooperate" more in the fight vs. terrorism and also wants to help stabilise liberated areas. He also told Iraqi FM Ja'afari that the Saudis want to open a border crossing with Iraq as well as run direct flights.


Colonel -

Agree with the importance of Idlib. The geography also seems to give the Salafis a flanking position on Latakia. And although there is no way they could take over there, it does give them an avenue to send in suicide bombers and terror teams to the Alawite heartland. But Assad seems to have a different strategy for now.

What is your opinion on the Turkish backed jihadi enclave in northern Aleppo Province? That is a huge chunk of Syria occupied by the Turkish Army and their surrogates. Will Erdogan give that up peacefully at some point in the future? And does Erdo now want even more Syrian land? Hopefully the SAA can block him from doing that:




Why is the U.S. trying to tear the secular Syrian state down? It has tried several times since 1948 to the detriment of the Syrian people. Why?

The NYT Editorial board recently served up this cool aid:

At least in recent decades, American presidents who took military action have been driven by the desire to promote freedom and democracy, ...

Do you believe that?


"KSA Chihuahua FM made a "landmark" visit to Iraq. That visit was supposed to happen 3 months ago but was continuously postponed by the Saudis."

The Beaver,

It is their symbolic acknowledgement that they recognize the true lay of the land, and it is time for coffee and conversation about the future.



The US animosity towards the present government of Syria is entirely driven by the Zionists who are following Israeli policy. I suspect the earlier hostility was much the same thing. pl


I somewhat agree with Pat. Never mind I sometimes agreed with b. Too much self-referential lines of thought for my taste.

The Beaver

But it would be interesting to know WHO is parachuting aid to ISIS in Tal-Afar.

This is the second drop today - first one was on February 21st.


Col Lang,

My estimate of the Idlib situation based
on FARS News, Al Masdar, South Front and
even the MSM, all parsed carefully.
1. The R+6 have a strategy for Idlib. It is working.
The situation there is the result of some thoughtful
"battlefield shaping" and a little bit of fortunes of war,
long overdue for the good guys. It is not the American
way of War.
2. I note that when R+6 engages in combat, the enemy OOB is
reduced by 10-50 combatants, the infrastructure is wrecked,
the R+6 suffer casualties.
2. When the R+6 bring about a "reconciliation" the enemy OOB
is reduced by 500-2500 combatants, the infrastructure is not
wrecked, and there are no friendly casualties.The Syrian nation
recovers land and population.
3. Reconciliations, to my surprise, appear to be permanent; I
have not read of any backslidings or major treachery. Amnesty
is real.
4. Idlib is an essential part of the reconciliation strategy.
It is where they put the the people who do not wish to reconcile.
There has to be such a place or the "die with their boots on"
types would remain in place and queer the many local reconciliations.
5. Interestingly, while safe passage to Idlib for the hard corps is
guaranteed,they appear to be fair game for all once they get there.
R+6 forces bomb them. US forces bomb them. R+6 Special units
assasinate them. Even harder corps rebels capture them, disarm them,
imprison and kill them. The public health infrastructure is limited
and death and disease result in their camps. Idlib is a death trap
more than it is a safe zone.
6. Idlib's time is coming. When it does the hard corps element
remaining will not have the benefit of the information warfare
campaign waged on their behalf in the Aleppo battle. R+6 forces will
have a very target rich environment.
7. I look for the start of R+6 operations on the southern border
of Idlib to begin in about 6 months. Again heavy reliance on
negotiations, "surrender or die",amnesty, airpower.

USMC 65-72
FBI 72-96


So nothing wrong with this particular post, just a general swipe at b. I don't think the US evil but some parts of its FP probably deserve the epithet.



IMO US policy is not and has not been "evil," just deluded. pl



I agree with all that but the problem is that the R+6 may miss the boat as the diplomatic situation evolves. pl



"Too much self-referential lines of thought for my taste." Curious thing to say. pl

different clue

The Twisted Genius,

Is it possible that the Assad government and the R + 6 fully understand the danger of a contaminated Idlib Province but are taking a high-risk high-reward gamble on letting the CLEJs have Idlib for now and draining more and more ( perhaps all) of the CLEJs in the rest of the country into the Idlib Sump? And when all the Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis are all the way drained into Idlib and concentrated there, that then the R + 6 will make a very focused effort to perform a "radical jihadectomy" against the "clejjers" in Idlib Province?

different clue


As a merely civilian layman observer, I might guess that saying the military people have not shown any more strategic foresight than the spooks . . . in the teeth of visible evidence that high placed military people worked very hard to prevent the attempt to declare "no fly zones" and try working with the Kurds ( as against the CIA working with the Alphabet Jihadis) is at-the-very-least evidence of bigotry against the American military and its leader-thinkers.

. . . for example . . .

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