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01 February 2018


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The Twisted Genius


The thought occurred to me this morning that the various jihadis are distracted and overextended by the Turkish effort to take Afrin and their participation in that effort. Perhaps, as you say, a bold move may prove profitable.



I think the idea may look tempting but as drawn on that map it's misleading.

From what I remember as having seen from the area it would mean the Syrian army tries to advance through the low ground while the jihadis have the high ground on the sideline.

As I see it to advance much further the Syrian army needs to take the high grounds first. And that is first and foremost Al Eis - where the infamous Turkish military convoi tried heading to a couple of days ago. As I remember videos from about a year ago when the Syrian army had that territory for a short time, the view from that hill is phantastic, one can look straight to Saraqib and almost to Idlib city.

I also suspect the view from the hills east of and close to Saraqib is almost as good though I haven't seen any videos showing that view on camera.

So I think taking at least one of these high grounds is a must before going forward much further on the low ground in the middle, but better it would be to cover the flanks with high ground from both sides.



IMO the SAA can run up the low ground between the higher ground on the right and the M5 and turn the jihadis out of their positions. pl

Peter in Toronto


Seems the campaign in Idlib is going too well for Israel/America's liking. The WH is said to be "considering all the options" once more in response to another manufactured event.


As for the Turks, this opportunity for the SAA may well be a result of the deals between Ankara and Moscow that gave the Turks the green light to go into Afrin after the Russians departed. As long as the Russians have abandoned the Kurds, it is likely that Turkey has agreed to cede Idlib and its jihadis that don't go over to join the fight in Afrin to the regime.

Meanwhile, in the bidding war between Russia and the US over Turkish affections, it remains to be seen whether the US really intends to stay in Manbij and whether, however unlikely, the Turks would try to fire at US forces. Now, it is also the "lady or the tiger" moment. Does the US continue its plans for control in eastern Syria with the YPD in the lead or give up and give in to the Turks. Half measures likely won't please anyone.

One analyst described the confusion and battling announcements from the White House and the Pentagon as a war between the neocons and traditional imperialists for control of US Mid East policy. The former are sympathetic to the Israeli desire to see a pro-Western, pro-Israeli independent Kurdistan in some or all of states where they live, to include Turkey.

Others claim that Israel is debating another "preemptive" war against Hezbollah in Lebanon [and perhaps in Syria] on the grounds that all the Shia forces surrounding them now are a threat they simply cannot allow. And who is to stop them if they go forward? Seems the Russians are not willing to get into it with Israel militarily and might even see it as a way to get the Iranians and their proteges out of the area. There are serious costs for that, given the Eurasian orientation of both countries for the future.


Reporting from the ground says that the Takfiri defense lines in east Idleb are thin. The folks usually manning them are busy cutting off the breasts of female YPG fighter in Afrin (video link available on request).

The lack of Takfiri ground forces was the reason why the Turks tried to establish a blocking position at Al Eis. That as prevented by (a) the Syrian army and (b) by an IED attack from some Takfiris who dislike the Turkish control of their fate.

If I were the Tigers I would immediately go for Al Eis and maybe even to Saraqib while the weather is good for air support and the enemy lines still thin. The weather is predicted to change in a week or so and will then hamper any movement.



We are agreed on the scheme of maneuver. IMO the drive north up the valley to al-Eis and beyond should have priority of forces and fires. As for the jihadis, they should not be treated as prisoners of war. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Those of them that were captured in Mosul, were tortured and executed. But I surmised that more than half of the ISIS fighters in Mosul, out of estimated 40,000 souls, are at large.

Babak Makkinejad

US with Turkey, US with Pakistan, US with Saudi Arabia are like a Muslim man with 3 unruly wives; he cannot afford to pay the Mahr to them, and they are loath to become divorced and breft of his protection and prestige. In the meantime, the comely Bethsheba , his true love, keeps on stringing him along and milking him for all his worth.


Like playing the gas card?


'b' in #7 above is correct. Much of the residue of al-Nusra and ISIS are now part of Turkish 2nd Corps attacking Afrin. There are Yezidi villages in Afrin, so the Daeshi slave auctions may well be re-established soon.



I think taking the hill of Al Eis head on could prove costly for the SAA. It's an extremely good position for a defender and likely very heavily fortified.

Instead I'ld expect a different move from the Tigers: just move the front of Abu Dhuhur in a broad campaign further to west just to the east of Saraqib. It would mean taking an area like this next:


It would mean going a bit uphill, but the reward would be getting high ground. And the area is hardly, if at all fortified, because the jihadis never thought to see the Syrian army there again.

I think the result of taking that unfortified high ground would be devastating for the jihadis. They would be left with a lot of low ground while the SAA has the high ground above them. And the Syrian army would have various options to move further forward.

After taking that high ground I'ld expect the army not to take Saraqib, but move into Idlib plain and encircle Al Eis a bit from different axes before taking it. In a third move then I'ld expect the army to unblock Fuah and Kafriya and integrate these villages into the new frontline.

Jony Kanuck

I'm with b: Why get bombed by the sukhois & run over by SAA tanks when you can "alahu akbar, lets go and kill us some kurdish non-believers". The Kurds have few heavy weapons but uncle Erdo has F16s, Leapord 2s & 155 & 204mm artillery! Did I mention the gunships; seems all the breakthroughs come from them. If the Kurds attack, it's at night now. Uncle Erdo has probably also promised the 'FSA' a house and wife for each. Erdos been saying that he is going to restore 'Syrians' to Afrin. So, yeah, Takifiri lines have to be very thin in Idlib.
Taking this further: The SAA needs to get some units ready to go into Afrin. Erdo wants to take the place over but I've seen stuff that indicates his military would be happy with SAA on the border. The Israelis are getting very antsy, Lieberman was ranting yesterday that the IDF will come charging up into Lebanon if the balloon goes up. If Hizbollah rockets Tel Aviv seriously, it will probably be mostly over for Israel. Everyone who can get out, will. The IDF has told the cabinet that and at first they were just met with stunned silence. Also Bibi may have beat the first two corruption charges but the big German subs bribery case is yet to come. Meanwhile there are demonstrations in Tel Aviv every day against his corruption.


jody kanuck

I guess like a lot of people here you cannot or will not read a map. The subject of my piece was the R+6 offensive against Idlib Province. The Turkish/FSA attack on Afrin is completely separate. pl



Evidently, you too are allergic to maps. pl


I just don't like maps where white (fields/open) areas are larger than 2x2km.. any map that is half white is showing terrain to be avoided from my infantry POW...

Kidding aside, a video is out showing Erdogans jihadists standing around a dead female kurdish fighter they have just cut the breasts off... one is saying "let's get another one".
By his company you know the man ...

Clueless Joe

Honestly, I see only a few scenarios where SAA could be defeated here.
Direct intervention against SAA by a foreign military (meaning Turkey, USA or Israel), which of course would stop the current advances in its tracks while SAA repositions, or is blasted to pieces by enemy bombs depending on the situation. New allegations of chemical weapons use could be used, but I'm not sure the new ones could be enough to convince anyone.
Other than that, the only highly risky way for SAA to be beaten back by Idlib rebels would be, imho, to push another thin salient towards Saraqeb and then straight to Shia enclaves or Idlib. SAA used to do this and got beaten up quite often, but it looks like it's learned its lessons, and the Abu Duhur push has shown it using variations on pincer moves and pocket-making. As long as SAA relies on pocket-making, flanking and advancing wider fronts, and avoid relying on salients thin enough to be cut off, leaving the spearhead isolated for good, I'd expect them to withstand anything the rebels can throw at them at this point. As proposed, creating a pocket between Abu Duhur and Al-Eis would fit very well.
But then, I'm not a military and my military non-expertise relies mostly on reading Caesar and Thucydides...


Gas attacks are Trumps red line.

He won't be fooled again or will he?


Leith Fadel of Al Masdar made a couple of interesting remarks a couple of days ago, regarding the Turkish column that was escorted by HTS towards al-Eis :

"Sounds like a deal is in the works. This could end the SAA’s operations to lift the siege on Fouaa and Kafraya"

"Also, no truth to the report claiming the Syrian Army attacked the Turkish military in southern Aleppo"

The one thing that has been established by Op. Olive Branch is that when the Turks whistle, the non-daesh jihadis, including HTS in large part, come trotting like well-trained dogs. But does anyone know what Erdogan's bottom line is in Syria (apart from no large PKK quasi state)?


Yes, the Syrian Army and their allies are making significant military gains in Idlib Governorate.

Is this due in part because the Turkish backed "Syrian rebels" are being used to attack Afrin, Syria?

As to the 'character' of these fighters, @jenanmoussa posted two tweets:

@jenanmoussa What a video this....Turkish backed Syrian rebels outside #Afrin, singing a jihadi song about "how we were steadfast in Grozny & Dagestan. And we took Tora Bora. And now Afrin is calling for us." https://twitter.com/jenanmoussa/status/959090266056679424 pic.twitter.com/gmFb1gKvFO

@jenanmoussa There's also another video going viral which is too graphic to share. But I'll try to describe it.

Basically Syrian rebels near Afrin killed a Kurdish female fighter, took off her clothes, chopped off her breasts, stepped on her body &discussed whether she was beautiful or not.

In the meantime, due to the ongoing fighting in Syria, are we about to witness another humanitarian crisis?

UN's Jan Egeland: The last time humanitarian relief was permitted to enter a besieged area in Syria was on Nov. 28. Since then, Assad's government has banned every single aid delivery to besieged areas that we have tried to organize. Full press conference: http://webtv.un.org/meetings-events/conferencessummits/un-alliance-of-civilizations-5th-global-forum-27-28-february-2013-vienna/watch/jan-egeland-special-advisor-to-special-envoy-for-syria-media-stakeout-geneva-1-febuary-2018/5721314930001/?term=&lan=english


John Frank

My impression is that the FSA jihadis fighting alongside the Turks in Afrin are not from Idlib. They were brought into Afrin with the Turkish Army from southern Turkey. No? pl


There is an uncanny correlation between SAA military successes and sudden and unverified media reports of chemical weapons use by the Assad government.

Babak Makkinejad

I have seen reports of atrocities against pregnant women in Persian papers; in obscure places - by Iranians who were present at the scene.



IMO we should expect a poorly staged "chemical attack." Mattis is an obsessive old man who has forgotten much. pl


SouthFront is claiming Idlib defenses have collapsed.

Syrian War Report – February 2, 2018: Militants’ Defense Collapsed In Eastern Idlib

Apparently some of the resistance are claiming Syria used chlorine bombs on them, so, yes, the chemical attacks claims are being raised.

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