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08 February 2018

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Steve McIntyre

during Feb 8, it looks like most of the ISIS pocket was extinguished. Very rapid work.

Walker

There has been a crescendo of propaganda against Syria lately. Poorly supported claims from Nikki Haley about poison gas. (Haley has the gall to say "we cannot and should not forget the Syrian people", as though that was an American priority). Loud appeals about East Ghouta "drowning in blood". An announcement that the killing of an estimated 200 "pro-regime" troops on the Euphrates was "was taken in self-defense".

I'm writing my Congressmen and the President today. The US should not be in Syria.

Lincolnite

Erdogan has made an interesting speech duly reported in Hurreyet.
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-will-hand-manbij-to-arab-owners-after-expelling-ypg-erdogan-126863.
I took particular note of the following;
“He also claimed that Turkey has “wasted the last two centuries with sacrifices” and has “lost around 5 million square kilometers” of land once ruled by the Ottoman Empire, suggesting that the “same powers” today consider the current size of the Republic of Turkey to be “too much for Turks.”

“They have forced us so much that in the end they have awakened a sleeping giant. They should know this. The Turkish people are advancing to a new era. No state or international organization can question the power of Turkey any more,” Erdoğan said.“

Richardstevenhack

Today a number of events appear to be escalating the probability of conflict in and around Syria.

1) US 'Defensively' Bombs Syrian Army, Kills 100 of Its Soldiers
http://russia-insider.com/en/us-defensively-bombs-syrian-army-kills-100-its-soldiers/ri22470

Also reported here:

BREAKING: US bombs Syrian military east of Euphrates river
http://theduran.com/breaking-us-bombs-syrian-army-east-euphrates-river/

According to one report, the "attack" was merely some artillery shells falling within 500 meters of the SDF headquarters which the US then used as an excuse to attack the Syrian military. Possibly one SDF soldier was wounded. The claimed 100 SAA personnel killed has been modified to maybe 25. It's also unclear whether they were actually SAA or proxies.

Alexander Mercouris piece suggests the actual motivation was to continue to try to prevent the SAA from establishing a "land bridge" from Iran to Syria (although as the Colonel has previously pointed out, this has already been mostly accomplished.)

I am hopeless at Syrian maps, so perhaps someone could explain where and in what strategic context the attack location was.

2) It is reported from various sources - but not as far as I can tell confirmed by Russia - that Russia is seeking a comprehensive military agreement with Lebanon.

Russia’s new preemptive move in Lebanon
http://thesaker.is/russias-new-preemptive-move-in-lebanon/

Russian fleets control ports of Lebanon
https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180208-russian-fleets-control-ports-of-lebanon/

Apparently the draft of the agreement states that Russia wants naval access to Lebanese ports, plus military aircraft access to Lebanese airfields, and to allow Russian experts to train the Lebanese military as well as allowing Lebanese military personnel to access Russian military exercises.

While this is in no sense a mutual defense treaty, I can't help but feel that this is an attempt by Russia to warn off Israel from starting a new war with Lebanon, while at the same time attempting to not be seen as supporting Hizballah, which is regarded in some quarters as a "terrorist" organization.

Recently Israel's Lieberman warned Lebanon not to encroach on disputed maritime areas where gas deposits are located, threatening military action against any such. This provoked Hizballah to state that in the event of Israeli military action against Lebanese development efforts in these areas it would result in Hizballah targeting Israeli development efforts.

Another analysis in the Israeli press suggested that Russia would stand aside from involvement in the next Israeli-Hizballah war and allow "Israel and Iran to bleed each other." In my view this is somewhat wishful thinking on the analyst's part. I think that Russia understands the purpose of Israeli aggression against Lebanon - i.e., an eventual war with Iran - and would prefer it not happen.

The question remains how far Russia will go to mediate or involve itself in a future Israeli-Hizballah war, considering that such a war might be used as a vehicle for initiating a war between the US/NATO and Syria.

turcopolier

richardstevenhack

You can't read maps? why can't you? Is it some sort of genetic disability or have you not taken the trouble? IMO there were few SAA soldiers or IRGC killed in this infamous attack on SAG linked tribesmen. pl

Richardstevenhack

Maybe I'm just looking at the wrong maps but I can never tell where anything else in relation to the whole country. The maps I see always seem to show just a section of the area concerned in the report, but never in a strategic context. Or they show a map of the whole country, with the tiny area in question marked, but no other markers to indicate how this is related strategically to the positions of all the players.

So I've basically given up as I have other things to do with my time than map interpretation.

Thanks for clearing up that it looks like the personnel killed weren't actual SAA.

turcopolier

richardstevenhack

"I have other things to do with my time than map interpretation" Ah, I see, you are too good to do what I do for you ... You sound like Bill Clinton. pl

Peter in Toronto

Good point about the Turks punching well below their political weight class, and not being able to translate the bellicose noise generated by the Sultan at the top into actual military success. The Kurds continue to upload video after video of stationary Turkish armored vehicles being picked off with stand-off anti-tank missiles. The concept of a mechanized, maneuvering war seems to be beyond the organizational capabilities of the Turks.

At this point, they seem hardly more effective than the Arab and Kurdish militias opposing them, with the exception of access to F-16s.

different clue

Peter in Toronto,

( reply to comment 9)

Perhaps the anti-Kemalist purges against the Turkish Armed Forces went so broad and deep as to purge out whole sections of planning and organizational capability.

Richardstevenhack

Heh, now that's a real insult, comparing me to Bill Clinton. LOL At least you didn't compare me to Hillary. :-)

Richardstevenhack

Military.com has a longer article on the fight between Assad forces and the SDF.

US Scrambles Firepower to Defend SDF Against Pro-Assad Forces
https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/02/08/us-scrambles-firepower-defend-sdf-against-pro-assad-forces.html

Still talking about how they "there to fight ISIS", as if they mattered...

Quote:

"We're trying to de-escalate, "Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles Corcoran, commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, told Military.com on June 26.

Military.com sat down with the commander at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, as part of a reporting trip to observe air operations against the Islamic State.

During an interview in his office, Corcoran underscored, "We're here to fight ISIS," but he also pointed to a map of Syria and Iraq to outline areas as "red," or controlled by the Islamic State.

"It's pretty clear that at some point the 'red' is going to go away," he said, "and we're going to have state-on-state" forces fighting. "ISIS is a sideshow ... but what happens when the [other] two meet? Strategically, when ISIS goes away, that's the real issue."

End Quote

No kidding that's the real issue, dude. And he has a funny way of "de-escalating"...

kooshy

Colonel,
FYI, with regard to this latest US attack in DZ Tasnim ( has a reporter in field) News of Iran, is reporting 3 Hezbollah fighters, a few Russian contracting advisers and a number of Syrian Tribesman have been killed in this attack. So far they are not reporting any Iranian was killed.

Walker

Ah, I see, you are too good to do what I do for you ... You sound like Bill Clinton.

Zing!

Pvp

Try this site: https://syria.liveuamap.com

It shows recent events on a map which zooms in and out so you can easily see how it relates to the whole country. Amazing.

John_Frank

In other news, according to multiple reports, about midnight local time, the Turkish air force began launching air strikes on various positions in and around Afrin city.

Peter AU

A number of differing reports as to the number and who were the victims of the US attack. A number of reports saying ISIS hunters were included in the victims.
Who are the ISIS hunters? As far as I know, they are a Russian trained unit of the SAA. Volunteers that Russia trained up. From what I read just recently, they are from the Deir Ezzor region?

Peter AU

One from the ISIS Hunters unit killed in the US attack named here.
https://twitter.com/tarek_oo7/status/961690668421742592

blowback

Colonel
Somehow I think it unlikely the SAA will be heading north behind the HTS forces facing Aleppo. The R+6 have opened an corridor from the North Hama Pocket into the Idlib pocket and the SAA is now herding ISIS along the corridor towards Idlib with ISIS already fighting HTS in the Idlib pocket. I guess while ISIS is fixing HTS in place the SAA will consolidate their forward defences, take a couple of weeks R&R, and re-arm/re-equip before launching another encirclement of the ISIS pocket and all the HTS forces facing ISIS. A few more iterations and the Idlib Pocket will be liquidated.

LeaNder

dc, I don't have the slightest idea how both Kemalists and AKP members/supporters look at Middle Eastern matters from a long time perspective? ... In any case, seems they weren't that fond of Iraq war propaganda either? Who else besides, France, Russia and Germany?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq%E2%80%93Turkey_relations#Iran-Iraq_War_and_Turkey

********
US elites may have ignored Turkish interests for much longer. ...

I never looked too closely into Sibel Edmond's experience/story but she surely comes to mind in the larger context.

********

On a private note. We have Carnival over here. Was shopping yesterday loads of "Narren"/jesters around. Costumed people. A costume gives you a chance to encounters outside your usual (multiple?) everyday roles. Came to mind: The FBI costume gives you freedom to check people out. Meaning approach them in more humorous ways.

From the little I saw FBI costumes both male and female and male bears seemed to dominate the scene. ;)

turcopolier

blowback

you have had a good time twisting my words to fit your pre-conceptions. What I advocate after a period of re-fitting and re-supply is to roll up the flank of the jihadis south of Aleppo, not to maneuver into their rear. pl

Cube

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10156322165829172&set=a.10150099398044172.282489.573804171&type=3&theater

That's a link to a post by an activist that lives outside of Latakia somewhere, showing how one of her neighbors was killed in the US 'defensive' attack. Her numbers are a bit off, but I think that's understandable for someone in that position.

The man was in the Syrian Army, not part of a tribe east of the Euphrates.

Other Syrian pro-government activists are claiming there were other soldiers from Latakia killed in this attack.

Fred

LeaNder,

Seeing those in Refugee costume allows one to practice the art of self-deception while signaling one's superior virtue. Lots of things far worse than bears arrive on that most virtuous of paved road.

turcopolier

Cube

I didn't write that there were NO SAA soldiers present or killed in this action. You are twisting my words. pl

turcopolier

LeaNder

It was a bedrock feature of Kemalism that there would be NO interventions outside the Turkish Republic. pl

blowback

I assumed you meant that the SAA would head almost due north from Tell Touqan through Banes then towards Al-Eis. The front line according to Wikimapia skirts the Matkh Swamp and then crosses the Qinnasrin Plain which appears to be a former lakebed, At this time of year that means mud and although the Russians have a very good understanding of mud in warfare, I assumed they'd try to avoid it if launching an offensive. The first minor road to the west of the front line is never more than about 3 km. from the front line marked on the map below and it crosses flat ground that appears drier but with a few more villages for HTS to fortify.

http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35.851213&lon=36.987705&z=13&m=b

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