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23 March 2017


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FWIW I agree. Furthermore they have persuaded the U.S. to support Iraqi air attacks on ISIS in Syria and they seem to have got SDF/YPG and their American advisers moving on Raqqa with a bit more speed, it's always good to get potential attackers preoccupied elsewhere.
More generally, this is not WW2 and Al Nusrah are not the Wehrmacht/Waffen SS, although I don't doubt there are hardened, skilled, dedicated fighters in its ranks.
Letting the jihadists fight it out to decide who was top dog was a good idea, Al Nusrah (aka HTS) came out on top as expected so all jihadists in Idlb are now "associates" of Al Nusrah and so suitable targets, as Trump doesn't seem to be interested in using them for regime change.
Al Nusrah has very likely been heavily infiltrated by intelligence operatives, Syrian for domestic forces and GRU for foreign forces, so Syrian intelligence and the GRU know what is happening inside Al Nusrah with a high degree of confidence.
The strategy of Al Nusrah seems to be set by its paymaster among the Gulfies and particularly with the private paymasters, the favoured tactic seems to be to produce the best videos to keep the funds coming. There's one doing the rounds at the moment where the jihadists claimed to have destroyed two SAA tanks - it's one tank sat on a lone transporter filmed from two directions.
Russia's problem is firstly the 2,000 odd Russian fighters with the jihadists in Syria. These need to be annihilated and their families persuaded to settle somewhere in the Gulfie states so it's martyrdom for them. Additionally, the Russians need to kill as many western jihadists as possible so they, the Russians, don't get blamed for any terrorist outrages in Europe or America even though it was the Europeans and Americans who supported the jihadists.
I think we're in the final stage of the war against Al Husrah in Syria. Traditional Russian doctrine suggests that the R+6 will create a cauldron in Idlib province. To do that the R+6 need to draw Al Nusrah forces away from the north of Idlib so that the they can put a lid on the cauldron along the Turkish border, to contain the jihadists and cut them off from re-supply. Before doing this, they needed to try to drag in as many jihadists as possible and if the suggestion of a transfer from Al Bab to Idlib is true, then they have succeeded. It might even be that Putin ordered Erdogan to make that transfer. Might be that the LoJacked ACV-15 were a sweetener from Erdogan who now the Syrian War has effectively been won needs to have all those jihadists cleaned up.
Meanwhile, Russian soldiers have appeared in Afrin ostensibly to block any Turkish advances there but maybe it's to acclimate Al Nusrah to the presence of Russian forces in Afrin in preparation for a very rapid build up prior to a move on the Bab Al-Hawa border crossing, closing what appears to be the only all-weather road into Idlib from Turkey.
It seems that the SAA prepared for the Battle of Hama by building a defensive line just north of the city, that the SAA withdrew to when the Al Nusrah attack started which explains the initial rapid Al Nusrah advances. Now the killing begins in earnest with the area in front of the defensive line largely cleared of civilians.
This all depends on the SAA holding the line north of Hama but it looks like Al Nusrah haven't made any significant advances in the last 24 hours, but as usual Al Nusrah are trying to flog a dead horse back to life by sending more reinforcements south where the RuAF and SAAF are waiting for them.
BTW, it looks like Sheikh Abdullah al-Muhaysini, the victor of East Aleppo, has returned to the battlefront. I'm always discouraged when such a fine military mind is on hand to give such valuable advice to Al Nusrah.

Babak Makkinejad

The Iranian report states that the Syrian soldiers fled and that they were caught off guard and that reinforcements had to be rushed from the East to stabilize the front.

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