29 June 2017


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Gene O.

aleksandar -

Regarding your preferred COA: "Tiger offensive from Rusafa to Al Ma'dan and At Tibni..."

Do you perceive Tiger Forces going cross country to Ma'adan? Or could they move up to route 4 at Ratiah and roll down that Highway to Ma'adan? That seems to me would require coordination with both the SDF and their Coalition backers. Is that possible? Especially after what happened at al-Tanf and Ja'din?



that may yet happen when the Khanassar Pocket is thought to be secured. pl


Colonel -

I never left. Since banishment I have been lurking.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your comments.

Where I differ with you is that I believe that there was a political settlement as well in Europe called the Peace of Yalta. That is now defunct and such a political as well as military equilibrium does not obtain in Europe.

Furthermore, the development of hyper-sonic weapons - pursued by the Russian Federation, the United States, the People's Republic of China, and very likely by France and the United Kingdom and India and Pakistan will leave precisely that which Gareev objected as the only viable option.

In regards to the Islamic Republic of Iran's strategies; her leaders are making those decisions and not I.

The future course of events will demonstrate the utility of those decisions made by the Islamic Republic's leaders; given the fact that Iran, a declared neutral country, was invaded in 1914 and again in 1941, was attacked with impunity with chemical weapons (an international instrument of disarmament) and NPT was shredded in her case by P5.

This is precisely an issue of Justice - putting things in proper order and place - which in this case, is reduced to "Should the Iranian people remain alive or not?"

Very many commentators on this site are protected by nuclear weapons under the MAD doctrine - and neither UK nor France are disarming.

Babak Makkinejad

By the way, many Russian Jews actually do leave Israel for Berlin, San Francisco and London. The reasons are varied but are un-related to security concerns - they leave for better opportunities, for wanting to resume the cosmopolitan life that they had in Moscow and Saint Petersburgh, and being out of the oppressive religious parochialism of Israeli Jews.


The route from T2 to Deir Ezzor bypasses Al Mayadin by about 4 km. It should be feasible to establish strong defensive positions against any attack against that route from Mayadin. The more ISIS wants to throw forces against such defenses rather than keeping them for defense of urban areas, the merrier. If besieged Deir Ezzor can hold off ISIS with helicopter supplies, so can positions west of Mayadin with all the heavy weaponry they need coming from T2. Yes, supply line security is an issue that would need to be addressed between T2 and Deir Ezzor. It was also an issue that needed to be addressed between Ithria and Aleppo, but that route was sufficient to support operations that liberated Aleppo and the eastern Aleppo province, in addition to providing for the needs of the civilian population.

The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced T2 is the key to Deir Ezzor.


It was something on a topic that has been of frequent interest to the SST readership in the not-too-distant past, and didn't fit perfectly into any of the threads which are active at the moment, although it is relevant to the unfolding present situation in Syria/Iraq.

Others seemed to appreciate the link. Sorry you didn't.

The Twisted Genius


I still like the idea of a drive from T2 to DeZ bypassing the Euphrates and Al Mayadin. It would call for a lighter, mobile force. If I was called to plan and lead such a foray, I would assemble a technical-heavy column with less MBTs than I've seen in action on this front. Dedicated fire support would come from mortars, ATGMs and accompanying rotary wing support. Throw in some of those 106 recoiless rifles I've seen in the videos for old times' sake. Resupply would rely on FARRPs established with Russian and Syrian Mi-17s much like the reinforcement of DeZ was accomplished at least twice before. The lift capacity is there.

Thirdeye and Gene O have noted the road from T2 to Al Mayadin. That's a good feature to guide this raid-like offensive. This force may be too light to actually break through to the DeZ pocket. In that case, the force could be beefed up with infantry by airmobile insertion outside the pocket. That's probably a good idea anyway. The immediate goal of this offensive would be to expand the DeZ pocket to its former size before US airstrikes led to the jihadis splitting the pocket in two. That should suffice until one of the more conventional offensive columns arrive from the west, south or north.

The offensive to capture Al Bukamal would continue. It's just too logical an idea to drop in favor of my hair brained "DeZ dash."I think even that offensive will require reinforcement prior to assaulting Al Bukamal and moving up the Euphrates.

Peter AU

In looking at the difficulties involved (terrain, logistic lines ect), first question that needs to be asked - Is there an urgent need to link up with Deir Ezzor?
Is Deir Ezzor in danger of being over run?
What are the casualty ratios of SAA to ISIS as compared to other fronts? At DE SAA are in defensive positions and ISIS are attacking. On all other fronts ISIS are in defensive positions and R+6 are attacking.
R+6 front lines have been getting longer as they have created pockets. A long thin logistics line to DE would stretch this even further an thin out manpower.

If DE is not thought to be in danger of being over run, and casualty ratios are good compared to other fronts, then it seems likely that all other fronts will move towards Deir Ezzor by creating pockets and then clearing them until finally a link up occurs. ???


Just as a broken clock is right twice a day sometimes DEBKAfile nails it and I think the meat of their June 30 report, "Kissinger, Mattis lay bridges for Trump-Putin talks," is one of those times. This is my understanding, based on DEBKA's analysis and those from other sources I've reviewed during the past month:

Mattis has wanted to beat "ISIS" in Syria so he can move on to other tasks. But he's been up against the kind of political players in Washington/NSC who turn warfare into silly putty. Now Mattis, backed by the Joint Chiefs and Kissinger (and I believe also Tillerson), has gained ground against the factions in the White House and Congress that got tangled up with Israeli/Saudi aims in Syria in particular regarding Iran.

(As to how Kissinger got involved in this -- Trump counted him as an adviser even before the presidential election, and he's on very good terms with Putin from way back. Now that Trump is seeing the prospect of his foreign policy goals in the Middle East in tatters, it looks from the DEBKA report that he's actually willing to act on Kissinger's advice, at least about Russia in Syria, and actually listen to Mattis about how to fight a war.)

From DEBKA's report:


This week, the defense secretary and military chiefs were very clear about American priorities in Syria, contending that US military action should be confined to the war on the Islamic State terrorists. The only part of the country of interest therefore should be the Euphrates River Valley in eastern Syria.


In his comments this week to reporters, Mattis said: “To avoid the seemingly inevitable collisions between US-backed fighters and pro-Syrian government forces, including their respective [Russian] air support… the Euphrates River Valley would be carved up into 'deconfliction' areas."

The defense secretary showed no interest in US troops engaging in battle to curtail the Russian-Iranian military presence in Syria, or hit back at the creeping takeover by Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah forces of the strategic Syrian-Iraqi border. Mattis was totally focused on the Euphrates Valley and the ISIS concentrations there.

The wording of the above paragraph suggests the IDF is not overjoyed with the turn of events. But DEBKA goes on to warn that opponents of a single-minded American focus on wiping out ISIS in Syria will do everything in their power to derail the Trump-Putin talk on the sidelines of the Hamburg G20 Summit (July 7-8).

DEBKA adds darkly, "The White House and the Kremlin may be confronted with disturbing facts in an effort to upend any inter-power equilibrium that this summit may offer."

I'm betting that Mattis, with backup from the Joint Chiefs, is prepared to go to the wall to counter such opponents. I think that would include going against McMaster if necessary. And would include quashing any more White House stunts to frame Assad for a chemical weapon attack.

By the way the Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Fallon was None Too Pleased with that latest chemical weapon stunt from the White House. When I relocate the quotes I'll post them here. They're a doozie.

None of the above assuages my worry that Kissinger still wants to see a de-facto balkanization of Syria. But the Russian success in Syria might have changed his mind since he first suggested such a plan, which was in mid-October 2015 ("A Path Out of the Middle East Collapse" -- WSJ) -- at the time when Russia was still preparing to launch its air campaign in Syria.

In any case Kissinger now has bigger fish to fry; from all accounts he wants to do everything he can to help defuse the threat of a hot war between the U.S. and Russia. If part of that is promoting cooperation between the two governments in their Syria campaigns -- from DEBKA's report today it looks like he's all-in.


SAA's logistics line to west Raqqa just got a whole lot shorter with the opening of the Ithriya - Resafa road. Their front has also been shortened with turning the Palmyra salient into a front extending to the border and shrinking the Khanassar pocket. One new feature of SAA seems to be capability for deep mobile operations, like we saw in southeastern Aleppo and south of Palmyra.

ISIS seems to use some of their more marginal forces, including child soldiers, in their Deir Ezzor attacks. The pressure against ISIS in places like east Hama, between Palmyra and Suknah, west Raqqa, and now T2, forces ISIS to commit their first-line forces, to the benefit of the defense of Deir Ezzor. My guess is that slowing the operational pace and allowing ISIS to regain balance could have bad consequences for Deir Ezzor.

Peter AU


Rather than slowing the operational pace, I am thinking that if Deir Ezzor pocket is solid, maximum pressure could be placed on the other fronts - creating and clearing pockets.
Diverting forces to create a logistics line to DE would reduce pressure on other fronts?
With the Saudi/Qatar spat, their proxies in west Syria will most likely be turning against each other, Qatar proxies perhaps siding with Turk proxies, so I don't see any major AQ offensive occurring there. This leaves all air power free for CAS if required at DE.


If I remenber well, in 1961, Irak has to abandon his sovereignty on some islands south BASSORAH to Iran. The aim was to sign a cessation of hostilities with Kurds and stop Iran help to them. Iraq Army was not able to crish Kurds rebellion.
A lot of Iraqis feel humiliated facing such weakness.
One of them was Saddam Hussein.


IMO Tiger Force is SAA most experienced and capable force.Sized for assault.Cleaning the Khanassar pocket can be done by Republican Guard.


Seems there is a technical trail along pipeline from rusafa toward east. Tiger can use it to bypass SDF and then join a road. But an alternative route is needed to push forward a significant force strenght.
Only a 35 km move with CAS. I have done such thing in Niger and chad through unsafe areas.


Hi James,

You're speaking for yourself when you write that it's hard to read DEBKA as anything more than propaganda. Of course you shouldn't pay attention to DEBKA if you don't have the knowledge to separate the chaff from the grain and don't think in terms of intelligence gathering.

As to your statement that you would "never bother going to a confirmed warmonger as way to find peace" -- that makes us two very different people because I'm not looking for peace; I'm looking for victory.

Those who look for victory have to take their information where they can find it, else no police detective would cultivate informants from within a criminal syndicate.

It's the same with intelligence gathering in war. And in the post-9/11 era it's the same with taking in news reports that touch on war. The news consumer is dead in the water if he doesn't learn to think of the news as 'intelligence' -- as data that must be fit into a larger picture to arrive at a determination about it.

If you told me the public shouldn't have to learn to think like an intelligence analyst just to keep up with the day's news, I'd agree. But that's the way things are in this era.


From a quick search I can't find video showing U.K. DefSec Michael Fallon's complete statement on Tuesday June 27 but the following passages from a June 27 RT report are good enough (emphasis mine)


Britain is “absolutely” ready to support retaliation by US President Donald Trump against Bashar Assad in Syria, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has said.

The US claimed on Monday that Assad was “potentially” preparing a deadly chemical weapons attack on rebel forces, and threatened to hit back with new bombing raids.

Fallon said action should be justified, legal, and proportionate, but said in those circumstances the UK’s support for US action by Trump would be unwavering. He added that the UK backed the US missile strikes in April, which Trump ordered after an alleged chemical attack by Assad.

“As always in war, the military action you use must be justified, it must be legal, it must be proportionate, it must be necessary. In the last case it was.

“If the Americans take similar action again, I want to be clear, we will support it.”

Fallon said the US was monitoring the situation in Syria, but had not shared any specific evidence with the British government.

He said he expects to discuss the situation with US Defense Secretary General James Mattis when they meet at a gathering of NATO defense ministers later this week [on Thursday June 29]

Those last two statements are a giveaway that the British government would not be led down the garden path again, and that Britain was giving the U.S. two days to present them with evidence of a planned chemical attack or close down the hoax.

As we know the US called off the hoax before the NATO summit.

But I would read even more into Fallon's last two remarks. I'd say he was as much stating in public -- in front of the entire world press -- that the US had no evidence whatsoever because if it had, it would have immediately shared it with Britain, its chief Coalition partner in Syria.

If my interpretation is correct, Fallon's very public message to the American government is a significant development -- and probably was repeated behind closed doors at the NATO meeting, and could be repeated in some form at the Hamburg Summit July 7-8 if the Brits think the Trump Admin. didn't hear the warning clearly the first time.


PeterAU -

Regarding Deir ez-Zor: General Zahreddine does seem to be doing a good job there holding off Daeshis. So far.

However, unless he is massively reinforced, there is the possibility that DeZ may fall. Yes, the Daesh caliphate is in disarray and on their last legs. But they are still strong enough in the Euphrates River valley to mount a last ditch attempt to take DeZ. The leadership has fled Raqqa to Mayadin, just 40 klicks from DeZ.

If I were Assad or his planning staff, I would not take the chance that Zahreddine can hold out once again. The risk is too large. So either mount a major airlift of additional troops - or send in a relief column. I tend to favor Aleksandar's push by the Tiger Forces if that pipeline road can sustain the logistics load. Or perhaps more than one relief column from multiple axes.


Pundita that is a fairly charitable interpretation of Fallon's comments. The less charitable - like me - might be inclined to see it as blanket endorsement of any future actions the US may want to take - or NATO on their behalf. The 'if it is legal' bit being pro forma, this would be more in line with our previous positions. An assurance that the US have convinced themselves of the righteousness of their case has always been enough previously and this Government does not seem likely to break with tradition.
(sorry it is not as a reply-to-comment but typepad does not seem to be giving me that option at present)


I think we're on the same page about drawing pressure off Deir Ezzor by maximizing it against ISIS elsewhere. IMO a push north of T2 towards Deir Ezzor would fit that. ISIS seems to be committing north of Humaymah, in open country that favors the offense and without the benefit of long preparation that they have south of Suknah. The more they commit in the east, the less they have to attack Deir Ezzor. A drive north of T2 would also expose ISIS' new capital at Mayadin and their entire position on the south bank of the Euphrates east of Deir Ezzor.


JJ Jackson -- Times have changed in the U.K., and they changed suddenly and radically just over the past weeks since the snap election. While it could be argued that underlying factors of the blowout had been forming for a long time, the argument could be made only with hindsight.

We'll know more from the Hamburg G20 Summit.


Iran could just be awaiting a more suitable time to develop nuclear weapons and instead concentrate on missiles.

Right now the West has a massive advantage in implementing economic sanctions for violations of NPT (real or not) but as populations age in Europe and their economies stagnate and/or decrease things will change.

If African and Asian countries copy China's path successfully sanctions from the West will not be effective unless there really is global support for them. But we are talking about the last quarter of the century for that to have happened.

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