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03 July 2017

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Peter in Toronto

I think there is serious competition among jihadists to lay claim to the next chemical weapons attack. There's already reports from two different groups in one of the kettles around Damascus about the use of chlorine. They will have to apply their most skilled actors and video editing talent because temporary USAF air support is at stake.

aleksandar

TTG
Seems SDF has also DeZ in sight.
"This weekend, the Kurdish-led ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) advanced considerably along the southern bank of the Euphrates River, thereby wrestling control over three villages on the M4-highway leading to Deir Ezzor."

turcopolier

aleksander

You may not be aware that TTG and I are two different people. pl

Tigermoth

I'm of the opinion that once the Ithriya / Rasafa road is more or less safe for logistics supply, the Tiger forces will move along the southern bank of the Euphrates towards deir-al-zor just to prevent further SDF advances into Syria. From the start of their campaign it has been one to first block the Turkish backed forces then the SDF. The supply line became too long then and after taking Rasafa it needed to be shortened. This is done so we will see.

As b of Moon of Alabama stated was about to happen; FSA from al Tanf has been air dropped to Al Shaddadi were the US is putting up a new base. This is for a push to deir-al-zor. More of a land grap is my guess. Al Shaddadi seems to be as far south as the YPG was willing to advance. It will be hard to block this move.

https://southfront.org/us-led-coalition-airdrop-militants-tanf-al-shaddadi-aims-seize-border-area-media/

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/us-set-new-military-base-northeastern-syria/

Peter AU

An article in AMN a few days ago. Desert Hawks brought back into play to clear the ISIS held population centers in eastern Homs/Hama
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/isiss-hold-syrian-desert-threat-desert-hawks-unleash-new-offensive-video/

From memory, at the time Russia entered the fight in Syria, only Tiger forces and Desert hawks were cable of taking ground wherever they were placed. Apparently DH are now part of the SAA rather than a mercenary unit, retrained by Russia and supplied with T-72 and T-90 tanks.
Once the east Hama/Homs pocked has been cleared, Tiger forces, Desert Hawks, and 5th corps would be on a very short frontline.

With Brett McGurk's visit to Tabqa, US seems to be placing a lot of importance on the town? Ensuring US retains control of the dam, a major Syrian asset?
Another major Syrian asset is the Omar and associated oilfields east of the Euphrates in Deir Ezzor province.
From this recent article in AMN, US may well be trying to set up a force to take the oilfields area before R+6 reaches the Euphrates. https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/us-set-new-military-base-northeastern-syria/

fanto

Colonel Lang,
Sir, I remember one of our posts shortly after the Syria color revolution started. In it you predicted very accurately that overthrow of the Syrian government will not be quick, that is will last several years, if I recall you mentioned 4 or more years. Would you please give me a link to it? Thanks

blowback

So does the FSA:
"The US-led coalition will establish a new military base for the FSA-affiliated Maghawir al-Thawra group in al-Shaddadi town, northeastern Syria, the political advisor of FSA, Abu Yacoub, said.

According to the advisor, the aim of this new garrison is to deploy the US-backed fighters who will eventually attempt to capture the ISIS-held Deir Ezzor city."
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/us-set-new-military-base-northeastern-syria/
As for the SDF, they probably don't want to upset the Russians who are providing them with training and "muscle" up north in Afrin which the Turkish are threatening to invade. Part of the reason the SAA pushed to Resafa was most likely to persuade the SDF to close off access to Raqqa from the south but until Raqqa is fully liberated would the Kurds really want to push further south to Deir Ez-zor and upset the Russians and Syrians?
https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/russian-troops-deployed-afrin-turkey-prepares-massive-assault/

turcopolier

blowback

"the US-backed fighters who will eventually attempt to capture the ISIS-held Deir Ezzor city." IS does not hold deir al-zor City and probably will not. [;

turcopolier

fanto

It is in the archives. That is why we have the archives. pl

turcopolier

Peter AU

To call associated militia and irregular units in the ME "mercenaries" is just ignorant of how these societies work. pl

Peter AU

pl

I believe i believe the desert hawks were original set up by a retired general to protect a private oil field.
After the oil field they were protecting was over run by ISIS, they then fought where required for the Syrian government.

This may be wrong, but on reading up about them sometime ago, that is the information I found.

Peter AU

Thinking on it some more, private security force may be a better term?

turcopolier

Peter AU

No. These societies easily fracture and re-organize themselves behind individual "heroes" and the official government is often just one of the players and rarely has a monopoly on violence. As internal wars continue these militia groups are attracted to one side or another in the struggle and become official government assets. pl

blowback

That was a quote of what the FSA-Borg advisor said but quite a telling one given the Washington Borg's narrative that the R+6 aren't fighting ISIS but the "moderate" jihadists (actually local Al Qaeda - don't ordinary Americans remember them from 9/11) and that Deir Ez-zor is an ISIS town even though a large if not the major chunk of it is held by the SAA which is fighting and killing a lot of ISIS to prevent it falling into ISIS's hands. I suppose the FSA has learnt that to succeed with the Washington Borg you just need to spew out their fake narrative at all times.

Peter AU

An article here on Desert Hawks/Suqur al-Sahara that covers their beginnings.
https://www.therussophile.org/video-syrias-desert-hawks-brigade-private-security-force-to-protect-oil-and-gas-wells-against-isis-and-al-qaeda.html/

aleksandar

I'm , just didn't pay enough attention.
Will not happen again.

plantman

What does the US want at this point?
It's clear that taking all the territory east of the Euphrates will be difficult if not impossible, so what's the backup plan?

Many people have speculated that the US will not give up the territory the SDF has captured during the war, but no one has speculated about what this means geographically.

I would expect that if the SDF takes Raqqa and US special forces are involved, then Putin and the SAA will stay away. But that's just a guess.

In any event, it doesn't seem likely that Syria will be capable of consolidating all the territory it controlled prior to the war. The country is going to be a checkerboard with the Turks, the Kurds and maybe even the Sunnis ending up occupying some of the land that used to comprise the sovereign country.

Bottom line: I don't see Putin waging war on the US to liberate Syrian terrirtory.

But I'd like to hear from people who think I am wrong. (because I'm no expert, that's for sure. I'm just interested.)

mike

Colonel -

I suspect you are right. The Daeshis may be in bad shape. But a cornered rat will bite, and they are still somewhat strong in the Euphrates valley. They badly need a propaganda victory.

Per the Saturday David Ignatius article in the WP the Russians quietly agreed to an 80-mile “deconfliction” boundary that stretches from a few miles west of Tabqa to a village on the Euphrates called Karama. He says "That line appears to be holding, and it’s a promising sign that broader U.S.-Russian cooperation in Syria may be possible." Karama is approx 10 to 15 miles east of Raqqah. I am assuming the Tiger forces will head east just south of that line until they can swing up to route 4. Although I have not seen that boundary line on a map anywhere.

The menace from Idlib is real also. There is a bottleneck on the SAA controlled Salamiyah/Ithriya road at As-Sa'an. SAA is thin there controlling only one mile on each side of the road, with al-Qaeda in Idlib to the north and the Daesh to the south. I realize the do not 'normally' cooperate, but they could easily. And even if they do not openly cooperate, if one starts an offensive there, the other one may take advantage of the situation. The Syrian War Map showed yesterday that the Desert Hawks that Peter AU speaks of is in that area trying to close off the Daesh pocket to the south.

The Twisted Genius

The Tiger Forces, or a good part of them, have returned to their hometown of Qamhana, north of Homs. They're probably having a little rest and refit. I'm sure they'll be in action again soon. In the meantime, the Republican Guards 124th Brigade and supporting forces are reducing the Khanasser pocket. The Desert Hawks are advancing from the west against the IS bulge south of Ithriya. That should "prepare the battlefield" quite well for a renewed offensive towards DeZ by the Tiger Forces.

The Twisted Genius

aleksandar,

I'm not too concerned by YPG/SDF moves towards DeZ on the eastern bank of the Euphrates. All that will do is lessen IS pressure on the city's defenders. After a few minor flareups between the SAA and the YPG/SDF along their line of contact, things have been pretty quiet.

I do have a strong suspicion that the YPG Kurds may soon shift their attention to Afrin. Turkey and their FSA allies are making some threatening noises and moves in that direction. Whether they truly mean any of it is not clear to me, but I'm pretty sure the Kurds would rather take care of this threat than help the Coalition establish their safe are in eastern Syria.

turcopolier

TTG

IMO the "hinge" for the main maneuver will be from Ithriya SE to link up with forces moving east toward al-suknah. With luck that will take a number of IS in reverse. IMO an advance down the western bank of the Euphrates exposes the advancing SSA to attack from the SDF/YPG. There will be secondary attacks north and south of the main axis of advance from suknah to deir al-zor. In my opinion deir al-zor will be relived in the next 90 days. [;

The Twisted Genius

pl,

I agree that is the best and most likely axis for an advance spearheaded by the Tiger Forces. Those forces are too important to let rest longer than they must.

mike

Colonel -

They cannot wait longer than 90 days. Too much honor at stake to let the coaltion and the SDF break the siege at DeZ, or to liberate al-Bukamal and Mayadin.

Regarding the Euphrates west bank axis towards DeZ. There may be some Arab elements of the SDF that would love to take a shot at the SAA. But I do not believe the YPG will attack any Syrian regime forces.

The YPG and SAA have worked together in the Sheikh Maqsoud and al-Ashrafiah neighborhoods of Aleppo City. They tolerate each other in close proximity in both Qamislo and Hasakah in the NE. The Syrian regime has posted border constabulary in the west of Manbij to protect YPG and Kurdish civilians from Turkish proxies in the so-called Euphrates Shield enclave. They have had a peaceful boundary south of Manbij from al-Arimah SW down to Lake Assad. They had peaceful relations west and southwest of Tabqa.

The only trouble between them has been at Ja'din where the Syrian regime attacked (mistakenly I believe) SDF forces - and there is reason to believe that there were no YPG involved in that, only Arab elements of the SDF. If the YPG started a conflict with the SAA they would lose Russian support in Afrin. They would lose Lavrov's diplomatic efforts with Turkey. They would lose the support of their Assyrian, Circassian, and Armenian allies - and some of their Arab allies, the Shammar tribe for sure, and perhaps others.

On the other hand, if a firefight did start whether deliberately or in blunder, the coalition would certainly step in and attack any Syrian regime forces they thought were endangering the SDF. So yes, the SAA would probably NOT advance down the western bank of the Euphrates too closely, at least until Ma'adan or even better al-Tibni.

IMHO anyway.

Thirdeye

First with Latakia and now eastern Hama the Desert Hawks seem to get tasked with the terrain battles.

Trish S

Just a bit on Sy Hersh's excellent work over the years challenging the media's fake WMD attacks in Syria (which has largely been a reprise of media's Iraq fake WMD campaign in 2002-3.) The silencing of his crucial information is ominous indeed, and part of a concerted censorship of the truth.
On Feb 1, 2013 I was interviewed by a small UN progam called "Heat in the Middle East" at icastnews. I spoke about the Libyan weapons coming into Incirlik from Benghazi and filtered into Syria against Assad. More importantly, we discussed the coming recipients of this hardware, the US -NATO operation which was globally training Mujahedin (based on the 1980s Afghan guerillas used against USSR.) Year later called "ISIS".
I told the interviewer the fake WMD casus belli would start on 10th Anniversary of Iraq War. Sarin was set off in Khan Al Assal 6 weeks later on Mar 19, 2013 opening the current false PR schtik of "Assad gassing his own people" and it hasnt stopped since. Most interesting is that Syria immediately requested UN investigate the attack- which UN found repeated excuses not to do. It was one of the few times in this Syria WMD mess when the chemical attack blame could have been pretty reliably and unequivocably attributed to Turkey and its Qaeda jihadis on the border.
Any mention of that first Khan Al Assal attack has since been all but disappeared from the news when the "Syria gassing its own people" meme is recycled. And I believe for that reason.
The owner of this little UN TV program quickly pulled the interview off air claiming "the UN would rescind his press credentials if he ran it" and toss him out of the press corps there. OUTRAGEOUS. Seeing Sy Hersh, probably the best reporters of the last half+ century, face the same kind of exile is far more disturbing, outrageous and even dangerous to our country. His article is accurate. But publishable only in Germany?? Incredible.
As former co-founder of Military Families Support Network in Gulf War, I urge more military servicemen to take a stand and speak out and blow the whistle on what we are doing illegally in Syria before it is too late. If enough expose the truth, the media cant silence everyone. America is at stake, and the rest of the world too if this spins out of control.
Special THANK YOU Col Lang for showing leadership and for being a rare voice of courage on these issues.

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