« HARPER: A BANKER FROM HSBC GOING TO JAIL | Main | Bad news in Beirut for Israel »

31 October 2017


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Outrage Beyond

Inadvertent truth-telling?

"A senior U.S. military commander said Monday that 4,000 American troops are on the ground in Syria, a figure far greater than the 503 personnel the Trump administration says are deployed there.

Army Maj. Gen. James B. Jarrard, who heads the U.S.-led special operations task force responsible for dismantling the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, offered the surprising figure while briefing Pentagon-based reporters via satellite from Baghdad.

When asked to confirm the 4,000 figure, Jarrard appeared to be caught off guard. A Pentagon spokesman facilitating the briefing then interjected, insisting the number is just 503."

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/10/31/a-top-u-s-general-just-said-4000-american-troops-are-in-syria-the-pentagon-says-there-are-only-500/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-world%3Ahomepage%2Fcard


Barzani KRG held the oil of Kirkuk and its infrastructure for a long time and lost it all in a twinkling of an eye. Likewise, ISIS held the oil fields and infrastructure east of the Euphrates for a number of years and has or is on the way of losing it to the SDF U.S. proxies?

Why would the SDF be able to hold on to its resources anymore than KRG or ISIS held on to theirs? It is landlocked. Hostile Turkey is to the North. The Syrian government forces are to the West and South. Pro-Syrian Iraq is to the East. Moreover, Faysh Khabour, the border crossing between the former Barzani Kurdistan Regional Government and Syria, is now under the control of the Iraqi Security forces. Iraq will soon have full control of its border with Syria except for the smuggling that will always be there.

So the questions are logistical. How would the Kurds (and their Arab allies), as well as their U.S. advisors be supplied? By air from Jordan across Syria, across the hostile airspaces of Turkey and Iraq.

As the airbase in Deir Ez Zor ramps up, who will defend the SDF from hostile air?


There is something new coming to the conflict that is not reflected in the above.

This has been rumored for a while but the Saudis now made it official:
Firebrand Saudi State Minister for Gulf Affairs Thamer al-Sabhan on Monday called for “toppling Hizbullah” and promised “astonishing” developments in “the coming days.”

“Those who believe that my tweets are a personal stance are delusional and they will see what will happen in the coming days,” al-Sabhan said in an interview with MTV.

Referring to his Sunday tweet about the Lebanese government, the minister said: “I addressed my tweet to the government because the Party of Satan (Hizbullah) is represented in it and it is a terrorist party. The issue is not about toppling the government but rather that Hizbullah should be toppled.”

“The coming developments will definitely be astonishing,” al-Sabhan added.

Thamer al-Sabhan had recently been invited to Raqqa by Brett McGurk. He met "tribal leaders" and the Kurdish U.S. proxies. He then went to Lebanon.

The U.S. continues to provide an unnecessary huge amount of vehicles and weapons to the SDF. There is also way more U.S. personal in Syria than the 500 officially admitted.

Something is up - a renewed offensive with Hizbullah being one of the dedicated targets and extended over Lebanon and Syria. It could involve Israel.


My best wishes are with General Zaid Saleh in liberating Idlib. And hopefully his next assignment will be to liberate the Jarabulus/alBab/Azaz triangle in northern Aleppo province from Turkish proxies.

In the east the SAA offensive has slowed down somewhat, but will probably restart shortly. Sandstorms? Major explosion at ammo depot in the DeZ stadium? Or perhaps they will wait to fully liberate DeZ city and al-Mayadin before pushing on to al-Bukamal?

The major border crossing at al-Bukamal & al-Qaim is south of the Euphrates. That is where the 'N-4 Latakia/Aleppo/Deir Ezzor/al-Bukamal highway connects with the al-Qaim/Ramadi highway in Iraq. It is doubtful that the SDF is going after that border crossing. There was a lone report yesterday that US backed partner forces at al-Tanf were given a greenlight to take al-Bukamal, but the source was Qasioun based in Turkey. Caveat emptor!



Gabbard is a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees. But she is still trying to build support for her signature piece of legislation, the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, which would prohibit federal funding for “Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and ISIL, or any individual or group that is affiliated with, associated with, cooperating with, or adherents to such groups.” Its main aim, as Gabbard describes it, is to force the C.I.A. to stop aiding militants in Syria. The current version of the bill has fourteen co-sponsors, eight Republicans and six Democrats, but it has not received a vote. Gabbard’s interest in foreign policy sets her apart from other ambitious Democrats, many of whom have difficulty articulating a clear position on Syria, and virtually all of whom would rather attach themselves to the kinds of domestic issues—stopping Trump, fighting poverty, combatting discrimination—that thrill the Democratic base. In this and other ways, Gabbard’s counterintuitive approach can make her seem unusually principled, or maybe just unusual. The United States has been prosecuting a war on terror for more than sixteen years; Gabbard is one of vanishingly few Democratic politicians who are eager to talk about it.


Outrage Beyond -

General Jarrad's briefing is here:


The briefing was Tuesday (today the 31st) not Monday. He corrected himself on the US troop figure. The 4000 # was probably in reference to US troops in Iraq or to total coalition numbers, US and non-US plus contractors, in Syria. A fairly good briefing considering that most or the press questions hurled at him should instead have been asked of the DoS, the WH, CENTCOM, DoJ or others.

MajGen Jarrad is Special Ops Commander for the anti-Daesh coalition in Iraq and Syria. I could not find a bio on him. Although in the past director of operations for Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg; director of the Pakistan and Afghanistan Coordination Cell, J-5, Joint Staff; and deputy commanding general for operations of the 7th Infantry Division.


I'm sure the Saudis and Israelis will attempt to hurt Syria and Hezbollah. I'm skeptical that effort will succeed. There is also a decent probability that these statements are a bluff. Didn't the Saudis threaten to invade Syria with some huge Sunni coalition Army? What became of that?

Outrage Beyond

There is also this fascinating tidbit from the Neocon Washington Post:

"Justice Department officials don’t believe they have enough evidence to charge an American citizen and suspected member of the Islamic State who was captured in Syria last month, but the United States will face immediate legal challenges if he is not released and is detained without trial.


While much about the man remains unknown, the officials said that he once had ties to the Pacific Northwest but that most of his family and roots are in the Middle East."

Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/case-of-suspected-american-isis-fighter-captured-in-syria-vexes-us/2017/10/29/349c18ce-bca7-11e7-8444-a0d4f04b89eb_story.html

Notice how they vaguely refer to his ties to "the Middle East" without specifying a country? One suspects that this person is very likely Israeli; or at the least a citizen of another regime firmly in the US orbit, such as KSA.



the Saudis lack the ability to do anything serious militarily. Look at Yemen. pl


b et al

"As is now well-known, the CIA was directly involved in leading regime change efforts in Syria with allied gulf partners, as leaked and declassified US intelligence memos confirm. The US government understood in real time that Gulf and West-supplied advanced weaponry was going to al-Qaeda and ISIS, despite official claims of arming so-called "moderate" rebels. For example, a leaked 2014 intelligence memo sent to Hillary Clinton acknowledged Qatari and Saudi support for ISIS."


If this man is not lying it is now clear that Obama and his various CIA directors were involved in supplying both IS and AQ from the beginning. The CIA as an institution would merely have been executing orders as they are now. Like Mr. Jefferson "I fear for my country when I think that God is just." pl


Pentagon has been backing al Qaeda in Syria and getting creative with receipts. Useful summary:



Thanks for the update. It is astonishing how corporate media ignores the jockeying for position in Syria and Iraq. The bottom line is will R+6 open the landline between Lebanon and Iran? If they do, this landlocks the Kurds and will be a strategic defeat for the Gulf Monarchies and Israel. Will NATO stand down and accept it? Or, will World War III commence?

You need not post this but I am worried that you will be labeled a “Russian Propagandist”.

The New Cold War could get hot. Also, elite factions are going after each other in DC. There will be collateral damage.

Outrage Beyond

re: "Obama and his various CIA directors were involved in supplying both IS and AQ from the beginning"

It's been the policy of both wings of the Borg. Going back somewhat closer to the beginning, a quote from an article that's surely familiar to many readers here:

"The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda."

Source: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2007/03/05/the-redirection


Meanwhile on the Afghanistan front




Yes, when ISIS is defeated, there are very good arguments for Trump to declare victory and withdraw from Syria. SDF area is a landlocked area surrounded Iran-friendly forces and Turkey. It's similar to the Iraqi Kurdish region. And there Turkey cooperates well so far with Iran and friends. Today's common Turkish-Iraqi "manoeuvre" at the Turkish-Iraqi Habur-Sinir-crossing proved that. Taking the nearby Iraqi-Syrian Faysh Khabour crossing from peshmerga was not done yet, but it is to be expected very soon.

I think therefore Trump will withdraw from Syria, but there is the possibility of playing games. In this case I could imagine that in the end, not only would US troops have to leave Syria and Iraq, but also Turkey, and perhaps Turkey would also leave NATO. I think that would be an even finer outcome than just withdrawing from Syria now.



I don't think Syria will attack the Idlib pocket from Latakia or anywhere in the southwest. At the last Astana meeting it was agreed that Turkey deals with the west of the pocket, Iran/Syria with the east and Russia gets the middle from circa M5 to circa the Aleppo railway. What I've seen in recent weeks is that Turkey goes into the pocket from northwest and Iran/Syria goes in from southeast, perfectly in line with what is known about the Astana agreement. It may be that the west/east/middle point is currently in secret negotiated in Astana. But I haven't heard anything like that so far, so I think the parties will continue to follow the last agreement.


I raise this in this thread because it is relevant to the role of the US military in Syria.

The report of the UN/OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) into the alleged chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017 has been sent to the Security Council. Copies have found their way online (http://www.moonofalabama.org/images5/OPCW-UN_JIM_7th_Report.pdf)

The report contains new information on the flight track of the Syrian jet. As first noted by Adam Larson (https://twitter.com/CL4Syr/status/880028343243915265) the flight track map shown at the Pentagon's press conference on 7 April showed (when a low-resolution image was magnified and superimposed) that the Syrian jet made a single east-west pass south of the town, passing no closer than 2 km to the alleged impact site. The JIM had access to this flight track map and to "a further aerial map" and reports that "the closest point that the aircraft was to KS was approximately 5 km away". The JIM reports that this was consistent with the interview given by the pilot, with the flight logs at the air base, and with statements by Syrian and Russian officials that there was no airstrike on KS before noon that day.

As far as I can tell, this flight track excludes the possibility that an aircraft could have dropped a bomb on KS at the time of the alleged attack (about 06.40). The JIM tries to get round this by getting an opinion that a jet at the right altitude, speed and direction could have tossed a bomb 5 km ahead, but this doesn't apply to an Su-22 with maximum bomb release altitude of 2000 m, or to hitting a target to the north when flying east-west.

This leaves a managed massacre of captives, with sarin used to lay a forensic trail, as the only tenable explanation. If the Pentagon had access to flight tracks showing that the jet did not pass within bombing range of KS, it's difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Pentagon at some level was complicit in this operation, and in allowing Trump to be misled.


They can't even invade Yemen next door. They are only good at spending money and higher terorist on CIA' orders and agitate more extremist sunni salafi terrorists like what happened in NY today. IMO if the elected western governments think, their policy of unlimited support for Saudi and Israeli' agenda in middle east to maintains their own colonialist hegemony on the region does not come with a cost to western states and citizens they are lying to us all. IMO in this day and age, there is no way that we can keep the war in there in their cities, and villages , and totally prevent it from coming to our streets and cities. This is totally mad, a mutual assured destruction by a mad and stupid group of people on both sides, regardless of how unbalanced it is.


It will indeed be interesting when the Syrian forces come upon the Turks as the latter have made no secret of having been welcomed into Idlib by HTS, which as noted, is NOT part of the de-escalation agreement. And then there are their ties to ISIS......

W. Patrick Lang


IMO the agreement is a ruse. pl



"Playing games" Yes, the JCS for some dammed reason routinely fiddles with the numbers in published reports and reports to Congress. pl



Yes, the JCS are hiding how badly we are doing in Afghanistan. pl



Why Lebanon? why not have the road terminate on the Syrian coast? pl



"financial and military industrial complex being an important part of it." Ah, the Hidden Hand of The Merchants of Death. It must be the oil, it must be ... Or maybe selling mire stuff... pl

Babak Makkinejad

The elected Western governments are willing to accept those costs; you saw what happened in France after she was attacked repeatedly.

And you saw what happened yesterday, another Sunni Muslim attack in NYC - this time an Uzbek - per usual form the outside of Seljuk Boundary - yet they go unfazed.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad