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21 July 2017

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Ishmael Zechariah

re: "Here’s to more surprises."
TTG,
May God speedily grant your wish! I am waiting for the photo of Al-Hassan shaking hands with Zahreddine. Suitable for framing.
Ishmael Zechariah

Peter AU

Good to see them cut off any ISIS escape rout from Raqqa. AS SDF/US had to cut deals with ISIS to take Mabij and the dam at Tabqa, Raqqa will keep them tied up for some time. Might also take the shine off being US proxies. If the US intention is to built a separate Kurd state, they will also be want the oilfields west of the Euphrates to finance the Kurds.
I see also EU has sanctioned Zahreddine for chemical weapons...

Walter

I am so happy...

mike

I also wait for that photo of the Zahreddine and al-Hassan. It will come soon. Deir ez-Zor has been five years in darkness and they are still resisting.

However, this al-Masdar report has some believability issues. Another Assad friendly source is calling it false. Maybe so, maybe not. But the coalition and Russia have agreed to a 50km buffer. So if true, then it is with the blessing of the coalition as the villages cited are only two to three km from SDF positions.

http://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2017/21-july-reports-about-capture-aldahel-and-aleakershy-villages

Thirdeye

Information has been somewhat contradictory. The official information from the Tiger Force says only that there is "very good news" and that more details are to follow. At this point the rest is rumor. One source cited on syriancivilwarmap.com refutes the claim that there was a drive to the Euphrates and Dalha. But the common thread is that there has been a rout of ISIS and an advance of about 30km. Leith Fadel at Al Masdar (second link) puts the Tiger force at the western boundary of Deir Ezzor, which would put them in control of a major crossroad on the way to Deir Ezzor City. Whatever the details, it looks like a major crisis developing for ISIS in their western salient.

Balint Somkuti, PhD

Second to that.

Barish

They indeed went and added the Mad Druze to a sanctions-list, seen here:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.L_.2017.185.01.0056.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2017:185:TOC

General things to note regarding this: For one, it appears to just have carried over a '13 resolution that simply ignores the findings by the OPCW in the meantime that Syria's stocks had been terminated:

"COUNCIL IMPLEMENTING DECISION (CFSP) 2017/1341

of 17 July 2017

implementing Decision 2013/255/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria

THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty on European Union, and in particular Article 31(2) thereof,
Having regard to Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP of 31 May 2013 concerning restrictive measures against Syria (1) and in particular Article 30(1) thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy,
Whereas:
(1)
On 31 May 2013, the Council adopted Decision 2013/255/CFSP.
(2)
In view of the gravity of the situation in Syria, in particular the use by the Syrian regime of chemical weapons and its involvement in chemical weapons proliferation, 16 persons should be added to the list of natural and legal persons, entities or bodies subject to restrictive measures in Annex I to Decision 2013/255/CFSP.
(3)
Decision 2013/255/CFSP should therefore be amended accordingly,
HAS ADOPTED THIS DECISION:
Article 1

Annex I to Decision 2013/255/CFSP is amended as set out in the Annex to this Decision.
Article 2

This Decision shall enter into force on the day of its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.
Done at Brussels, 17 July 2017.
For the Council
The President
F. MOGHERINI"

Then again, the current OPCW board was all too eager to just renounce that finding, whether it puts into question their credibility appears of no concern there. On the other hand, the US administration, both current and former, were also rather too quick to voiding that particular achievement of having removed Syria's chemical arsenal by peaceful means. For reference, see His Excellency Obama's words from back in May this year:

http://www.politico.eu/article/barack-obama-not-bombing-syria-required-most-political-courage/

"Obama: Not bombing Syria ‘required the most political courage’
US military controversially didn’t intervene after Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people.
By NOLAN D. MCCASKILL 5/15/17, 5:26 PM CET Updated 5/15/17, 5:26 PM CET

[...]

Obama said his approach, in retrospect, “was an imperfect solution” because while “99 percent of huge chemical weapons stockpiled were removed without us having to fire a shot,” the U.S. knows that some weapons remained in the Syrian regime’s possession."

Which proves that he is just as spineless as the foreign policy "blob" he hectored while still in office, if he hasn't just been part of it all along.

Moving on to the listing of Zahreddine itself, written "Isam Zahr Al-Din" in the list. There, the "Reasons" entry for him being included reads thus:

"Holds the rank of Brigadier General, a senior officer in the Republican Guard, in post after May 2011. As a senior military officer he is responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population, including during the siege of Baba Amr in February 2012."

Unlike 13 other entries, there is no babble about him being "involved in chemical weapons proliferation" or being "responsible for for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria, including the use of chemical weapons attacks", which are found time and time again and, IMO, suggest these may well have been copied&pasted, by and large. As him and two of his peers, Sawan and Dahi, aren't even connected with either of these accusations of being "involved" in the proliferation of or "responsible" for the use of chemical weapons, one wonders why exactly they were listed here.

So, in sum, this appears to be nothing more than the EU being a good little poodle and staying in line with US pronouncements and bureaucratically putting the seal on the agitprop-meme of Syrian WMD still being around and in use.

mike

An unconfirmed report from an hour or two ago claims that government forces have captured Sabkhawi. If true(?) that is about 20km south of al-Aukarisha and Dalha, but still well within the 50km buffer zone. Not clear to me what roads they would take from there to DeZ. Perhaps Aleksandar was right last week when he predicted the Tiger Forces would follow a pipeline road to Ma'adan or al-Tibni and then motor down Highway 4 to DeZ.

Or perhaps the intent is a blocking force to keep the Daeshis from reinforcing DeZ when they get kicked out of Suknah? But the forces headed south on the Resafa/Suknah road could do that much easier.

Also there is speculation re the al Mansar claim that government forces took al-Aukarisha and Dalha are based on locals raising the two-star Syrian flag after the Daeshis fled from the SDF?

turcopolier

mike
What is the "50 km. buffer zone?" I continue to think that an advance down the river road to DeZ is likely to be a secondary attack. pl

mike

Colonel -

I agree about the river road.

I do not remember the specific reference for the 50km buffer - old age maybe. But there was some reporting of that in June after the SAA attacked the SDF in Jadin, SSW of Raqqa, and a Coalition F-18 shot down a Syrian SU-22. A buffer or 50km deconfliction zone was worked out between Russia and the Coalition. But perhaps it is only for aircraft and not ground troops? That would make a lot more sense.

BTW, looking at the map, there are three or four villages named Ja'din in that area where the SAA/SDF firefight was. I remember back fifty years ago Division G2 & G3 could not get it through their skulls that there were several villes and hamlets with the same name or close to the same name in I Corps.

The Twisted Genius

mike,

The only 50 km buffer I remember was down on the Syria-Jordan border that the Coalition unilaterally declared and claimed it was a mutual agreement. Lavrov said it was bullshit. The SAA and YPG/SDF are in close proximity all along the front line from Aleppo to Raqqa. As you said, it might be different for air ops.

aleksandar

Well Mike, it's was just a possible COA, as we lack the main asset : intelligence assessment about ISIS forces.
But I remain convinced that such a big stick like Tiger Force - 5 to 8000 fighters + arty + armored - must not be engaged in a whole through montainous roads to Al Sukhna.( even if I know Leclerc do it through the Vosges mountains )
For now TG control all roads to east and south.
To east there is one from Dubaysan to Wadi Ubayd and Euphrat.
South TF COA may be to reach Ash Shula and lift DeZ siege first and at the same time another part of TG can have fire control on M20 from Bisrhi mount.IS in Sukhna can be taken from the rear.
But as we say in operation room, without IA, I'm just sculpting the smoke.

mike

TTG -

You may well be right. You are certainly right that the Syrian government and the YPG/SDF are in close proximity:
- they share checkpoints within the Khan Sheikhoun neighborhood of Aleppo City
- they share a 30 mile line in SE Afrin district
- Syrian government has put border constabulary along Manbij/Turk Enclave to keep down conflict
- they share a 40 mile line between al-Arimah and Assad Lake
- they share a 50 mile line south of Tabqa
- they share checkpoints in and around Hasakah
- they share checkpoints in and around Qamislo

All has been fairly peaceful until the Ja'din screw-up. And seeing that there are four villes named Ja'din all in close proximity some on the SDF side, others on the SAA side, my ken is that firefight and bombing were not intentional but a matter of poor map reading or incorrect data plugged into a GPS.

mike

"sculpting smoke". Me too.

aleksandar

:) Mike
Latest news
Syrian MoD released info of the liberation of:
Bir Hayil Rumman
Wadi Sawh al-Qadir (35698967N - 39237528E)
Wadi Hawiyat Qayyar
Al Jabali under helico attacks
Main target : Ghanim al Ali crossroad 5 KM east Wadi Sawh al-Qadir

mike

Aleksandar -

Not bad in 43 degree heat.

mike

Not four. Just three and a wadi of the same name.

Thirdeye

The Tigers had a surprising dash through a very poorly roaded area west of Tabqa to the Ithriya-Resafa road too. For now their move looks like a block to make a pocket of the ISIS forces facing Resafa. And there's the political angle of having a force on the south bank east of Tabqa. My bias is that those two objectives explain the move and it doesn't necessarily portend a drive down the Euphrates to Deir Ezzor. Suknah still looks like the schwerpunkt because losing it would isolate the whole western ISIS salient. Or Suknah could get blocked from Deir Ezzor about 40 km to the east.

aleksandar

I think political and IO side is more important than that.
Political target :
- prevent SDF going south and maybe liberate DeZ.
- Crush ( in part ) any attempt to balkanise Syria.
Lifting DeZ siege is also a big victory for Assad himself as was Aleppo.
It's ME, where authority is always somewhat challenged.
IO target :
From a purely IO point of view, pic of Brigadier general Suheil Salman al-Hassan shaking hand with the Mad Druze is for Syria something as big as the Elbe one with US and Russians soldiers.
If I had to stage just an event I would surely prefer to have present Brigadier general Suheil Salman al-Hassan rather than an unknow syrian general.
More, I'm quite sure than Suheil Salman al-Hassan is well known among jihadists and feared.
Conquer Al Suknah and lifting DeZ siege cannot be compared, the latter will be seen has a huge defeat for Jihadists.
Moral among them will certainly hit the bottom, more reconciliation agreements will follow.

The Twisted Genius

All,

Al Masdar News reports this morning:

"However, one particular Tiger Forces military source has said, despite the fact that this is officially denied, that today the Tiger Forces managed to achieve a mammoth 22 kilometer advance down the western bank of the Euphrates reaching the town of Shayma – located 40 kilometers north of Deir Ezzor city."

General Suheil Al-Hassan said he expects to reach Deir Ezzor by the start of September.

mike

Shayma is just a few km NW of al-Tibni on route 4. Five weeks seems a bit long to reach DeZ? But the long pole in the tent will be resupply.

BTW, I stand corrected, although Syria War Map shows Eukarishi still under SDF control, they are showing Dalha within regime control.

Thirdeye

Spoke too soon in downplaying the prospect of a drive down the Euphrates. There is an unofficial claim that the Tiger Force is within 40 km of Deir Ezzor city, which would place them somewhere south of Ma'adan.

Prem

Al Masdar are reporting that the SAA have retaken the hills just west of Sukhnah and now have fire control over the town.


They also have an interesting story about the latest IS propaganda video. It's an hour long explanation of why they have failed to capture Deir Ezzor (blaming non-caliphate jihadi factions). The timing might suggest that IS are trying to reduce the shock effect of the coming defeat in Deir Ezzor.

Thirdeye

southeast of Suknah

mike

Looks like the Russians sponsored an agreement between the YPG and the regime to let regime-backed tribal militias take control of Eukarishi and other west bank towns all the way down to DeZ.

http://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2017/25-july-on-july-20-sdf--and--saa-and-tribal-forces-signed

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