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15 March 2017

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Dmcna

Do you not think that the US have said the right things in private? I get the feeling things are quietly coordinated at the moment. The appearance of difference is helpful to there being less hulabaloo while Mr Trump takes Raqqa which he knows is the right thing to do and will get him much credit.

turcopolier

Dmcna

I don't think anything has been said to the Syrian government. If that had occurred then Assad would not have said what he did to he Chinese interviewer. pl

Willybilly

Pat is right. The biggest problem I see is that the SAA will take significant forces from Aleppo and elsewhere to meet the US challenge in the east, while meantime Nusra&Co. Are readying large forces to re-Storm Aleppo on three fronts.... and Idleb & Deir ZOR are in the freezer for now.... and lots of suicide bombing in Homs and Damascus daily.... meantime MBS and Trump in the Oval with big large smiles and more entente cordiale....

Linda

I hope we don't do it considering the future complication it would cause.

Thirdeye

Southfront's scenario would seem to indicate a push northeast from Ithriyah as the most direct way to take the Tabqa sites from the south. That could also isolate Deir Hafer and Maskanah in a pocket to the west. Thus far ISIS seems to have some pretty stout defenses along their northern line of contact with SAA, which also has an obstacle in the Al Jar canal and maybe still some flooding. SAA might be better off bypassing that area and isolating it from the south.

Thirdeye

I recently read a description of the Palmyra campaign, in which Russians were heavily involved and brought in some unusual hardware including the new Crocodile attack helicopter and the BM-30 Smerch MLRS. Apparently there is an arrangement where Russia will agree to committing extra forces if another party in R+6 (usually Iran) agrees to kick in for the financing. For the Russians it is a bean-counters' war. That makes a certain amount of sense, since one of the aspects of hybrid war is to make it economically unsustainable for your opponent.

Mark Logan

Willybilly,

I imagine Assad can see the Kurdish forces are unlikely to harbor illusions of incorporating a great amount of non-Kurdish areas of Syria within the sphere of their semi (or not so semi) autonomous state, and that the Kurds have their hands full with the Turks, DAESH and like-such.
Assad should have channels of communication with them as well. I'm speculating he may not feel a great need for deploying significant forces to block these "US forces".

Richard from MA

For what it's worth, Elijah Magnier, a journalist for a Kuwaiti newspaper with access to the Russian command room for Syria, thinks somewhat otherwise:

https://elijahjm.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/the-roles-of-the-us-russia-turkey-iran-and-israel-in-syria-moving-towards-the-end-of-the-war/

"The question remains: which forces will storm the city of Raqqa?

Twenty thousand Arab and Kurdish militants may be able to reach the gates of Raqqa and participate in surrounding it. The Arab tribes in the area will reject the control by Kurds of an Arab city. Moreover, there is no reason for the Kurds to risk their lives and lose hundreds or thousands of militants (hundreds of Kurds lost their lives to liberate Manbij city) to deliver the city of Raqqa back to the Arab tribes once it is liberated from ISIS.

Therefore, Trump will be facing a real dilemma, and will be forced to collaborate with Russia and its allies on this front against ISIS. Air strike coordination between Russia and the US is not excluded for the Kurds to reach one side of Raqqa and for the Syrian Army to storm the other side of the city, similar to the tactics used at Mosul (Iraqi Kurds were responsible for reaching the northern front of Mosul, contributing to surrounding ISIS). In this case, Trump won’t be the only one to collect the victory, he will be forced to share it with Russia and work alongside the Syrian forces- unless of course he decides to put in his own US troops (several thousands) and accept the inevitable human losses! All difficult choices, but the collaboration of US, Russian and Syrian army forces in Syria is absolutely unavoidable."

mike

There are some reports, unconfirmed, that SDF forces are deploying south from Hasakah on route #7. This would lead them towards Deir ez-Zor. They have already taken Markadah and have moved to within 30 or so miles of Deir ez-Zor. Could this be true, or a feint, or disinformation? Or it could be an attempt to cut the road to the east of Deir ez-Zor between that city and the Iraqi border at Qaim? As TTG mentioned last week in a different thread, they have already cut the western road between Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor.

There are also unconfirmed reports that Iraqi PM Abadi will send more Shiite militias to fight in Syria. And Abadi authorized the Iraqi Air Force to conduct strikes against Daesh in Syria last month. There are already 1000 Iraqi Shiite fighters in Aleppo province from the Harakat al-Nujab group. They have been there since last year or longer.

kooshy

Colonel can one imagine in case of secret talks with Syria, what would happens if McCain and his office wife find out? today he said Rand Paul is working for Putin.I will LMAO.

Peter AU

Syria will have to move on Deir Ezzor province soon. To remain a viable state, they will need their natural resources. Omar oilfields. If these oilfeilds falls to what will most likely be a US protectorate west of the Euphrates, then the remaining Syria will have little else to export other than fruit.
A piece here in almasdar news. The Russian trained 5th legion seem to be doing well, but I guess retaking Deir Ezzor province in the near future is a bit much to ask.
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-restarts-deir-ezzor-liberation-campaign-push-east-palmyra-map-update/

LondonBob

Seen it suggested after Mosul a fair number of Iraqis will be transferred to Syria, I don't know if maybe the Iraqis couldn't launch something from their territory towards Deir Ezzor or Raqqa. Anyway interesting to see if the Palmyra push continues, and if so north or east?

Trump needs to be able to say no to the military, as much as he relies on them as part of his administration. Hope he doesn't feel boxed in on that front. I thought the piece Bacevich wrote on the militarisation of US foreign policy was very good.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-duty-of-general-mcmaster/

Outrage Beyond

The real purpose of US troops in eastern Syria?

"The Arabic language al-Hadath news website reported that several US military helicopters landed on kilometer 10 of Deir Ezzur-Hasaka road and evacuated a number of ISIL commanders from the region.

...

"It looked like a drill and our suspicions grew when we came to realize that they only took captive those ISIL members who were foreigners,” he added.

Other sources said that “the coalition forces that could speak Arabic with the accent of the Persian Gulf states took with them some of the non-Syrian members of the ISIL”.

Source: http://www.globalresearch.ca/protecting-the-terrorists-us-forces-evacuate-isis-daesh-commanders/5580014

Ken Roberts

OB ... The removal of ISIS commmanders is not necessarily negative. Assad outlined the rationale for relocation of fighters with their small arms to a new zone, in an interview he gave about a month ago -- Belgian interviewer, perhaps?? Relocation is more efficient than fighting them to death, it is faster and incurs less loss of scarce manpower. Particularly when one considers urban setting, civilian lives are at risk. Besides, think about the effect of this news (trusted commanders leave) on morale of those who are left behind.

Pundita

01:31 - 17.03.2017 - Sputnik reporting from Damascus
http://sptnkne.ws/dPKK

START REPORT
[...]

The Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper said on Thursday citing witnesses and informed sources that several days ago, Daesh terrorists started to construct fortifications around Raqqa and were now building anti-tank trenches and mining underground tunnels.

The terrorists have also forced residents of local villages into the city in order to use them as a "live shield," the newspaper said.

There are currently an estimated 3,000 – 4,000 thousand terrorists in Raqqa. The SDF forces are being supported by the US-led anti-Daesh coalition in their efforts to retake the city.

An SDF spokeswoman said on Thursday that SDF units had secured full control of areas surrounding Raqqa, liberating hundreds of villages. According to the spokeswoman, the battle to fully liberate Raqqa would take months.

END REPORT

b

The 5th corps is more of a guard unit than an operational crack force. Its purpose is to hold and defend (or delay attacks on) areas. Its personal is on average quite old (except for a few well-armed sub-units).

It can relief other forces or hold onto a track through the desert to Deir Ezzor. It likely can not take Raqqa or something similar.

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