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30 August 2019

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Unhinged Citizen

I was waiting for this update!

Footage by ANNA News of the fighting culminating in the capture of KS doesn't really indicate any major resistance by the jihadists groups. It's my suspicion that they were either permitted to slip out of the cauldron or simply did so using seeing the greater operational situation and given several days that the M5 highway remained open to them.

And let's hope the integration of the Tigers gets them into some sort of regular uniform and equipment, because they look like a raggedy-ass militia with their worn down vehicles and technicals.

The Syrian army around Kabani has showed poor, un-inspired leadership and their elements near Kabani have spent months with no progress. Very frustrating.

Johnb

I would guess the ceasefires are to do with the politics of the operation, at some point an awful lot of Jihadi’s are logically going to be rounded up, what’s to be done with them ? Turkey appears to have closed its borders to any retreat into Turkey. I understand that a significant number of those left are foreign fighters, are they to be sent back whence they came, will the home state be willing to accept them, China might for the ~18k Uigher, or will they. Hard choices, difficult politics.

Ghost Ship

As Clausewitz said "war is the mere continuation of politics by other means", now the Russians and Syrians (no Iranians, Hezbollah, Iraqi PMU or Yemeni Houthis) will go back to doing the "politics". Yesterday's protests at the al-Bab Crossing are the start of that. Erdogan has shown he'll cast all the jihadists aside except perhaps for TIP, so they can stay in Idlib and face certain death, they can try going underground in Turkey, or they can establish ratlines and escape back to the whence they came -provided that's not Russia, do the Russians care?
As for the encirclement south of Khan Sheikyhun, leaving the door open for a few days allowed all the jihadists to escape - I seem to recall looking at a map of the conflict before going to work one day and finding that the encirclement had ceased to exist except for the Turkish outpost when I got home that evening. HTS had quite obviously failed to make their promised stand. They have lost in Syria and they know it. Like East Aleppo and Douma, there will be no last minute "miracles" but they'll most likely remember who failed them in the end.
BTW, I bet Erdogan regrets that he allowed that Russian jet to be shot down. The subliminal message, "don't fuck with the Russians".

turcopolier

Ghost Ship

It was actually WEST Aleppo that the R+6 re=took from the jihadis. The government never lost control of EAST Aleppo. I remain convinced that the basic motivating factor for Erdo and co. is neo-Ottoman irredentism in Syria and he will settle for what he can get there. If Idlib is not possible, then something less, all the while talking about terrorists. The recent retirement of several Turkish generals who did nt wish to serve in Syria says a lot.

The Twisted Genius

Unhinged, the last thing I want to see is the Tiger Force soldiers saddled with 50 lbs of body armor and battery operated gizmos. That raggedy-ass light infantry working with the thermal sight equipped T-90 tanks and field modified technicals is a deadly combination. I'd be proud to serve with them as they are.

turcopolier

johnB

Jihadis captured in Syria? I suggest drum-head courts martial in the field. These creatures wish to face God and abjure the rights of Man. They should be sent to what they imagine will be their reward.

turcopolier

TTG

The campaign to re-capture the whole province should continue apace. "A beaten enemy must be pursued." IMO an effort in the Ghaab Plain should be a secondary line of advance with the main effort along the axis of the M5. The government has a lot of militia forces that can be used to clean up behind the spearheads.

Ghost Ship

Aleppo offensive

As for Erdogan, I agree he's suffering a severe case of neo-Ottoman irredentism. I think Putin is supplying suitable medication.

JohninMK

More helmets would seem a prudent move.

JohninMK

The reports I saw at the time said that the terrorists were streaming south out of Khan Sheikyhun as the town was cut off, so your assumption that they went to ground could be a good one.

ISL

TTG, moon of alabama (b) suggests Turkey has cut off weapons to the idlib jihadi's and is clearly attempting to prevent entry into Turkey (being invited to purchase Su-57s after the US blocked Turkey from joining the F-35 boondoggle seems to have swung the current Turkish allegiance).

Good point of many militia's for cleanup allowing pursuit. Do you think the situation is such that hard pursuit would create a culmination point?

----
Separately, I wonder if the wooing of Turkey was a strategic Russian goal (and thus Syria's by default) that drove the decision to very slowly and cautiously liberate Idlib while busing jihadi's from around the country there as Reconciliation ceasefires - I recall Colonel Lang had recommended speedy liberation of Idlib to block the Turkish land grab.

OTH, the US has certainly done its best to push Turkey away in its (Israeli favored) policy of supporting the Kurds (and ineffectively harassing Assad from the east - ineffective as the US seldom now conducts aerial operations worth braggin' about these months - too much Russian EW.

IMO US strategic mistakes have been to Israel's (short-term) advantage.

JP Billen

I'm betting the jihadis will not abide by the ceasefire so it will not last long. Time to roll them up.

Several sites are reporting that an airstrike today hit a hi-level meeting at a jihadi guest house near Idlib City. Suggestions are it was by the international coalition and not by R+6? Speculation is that it was done either by Turkey, or by CENTCOM with Turkish intel support, or by Russia with Turkish intel support. In any case, even if by Turkey or CENTCOM, the strike had to be coordinated with the Russians.

turcopolier

ISL

The de-confliction regime between CENTCOM and the Russians still functions. If this strike on the jihadis near Idlib was CENTCOM that must be a blow to the neocon element in the WH.

JP Billen

CENTCOM is taking responsibility for the strike on the jihadi meeting near Idlib City.

http://news.trust.org/item/20190831151301-fh0kr/

Makes sense to me. Haras al-Din whose building it was, is known to have sworn allegiance to AQ an Zawahiri.

It would be interesting to trace the trail of intel bread crumbs that led them that meet. Turkish MIT possibly, and did the Turks get it from HTS who were not at the meeting and have been hostile to Haras al-Din in the past.

English Outsider

Thank you for the update.

Yesterday on the news (BBC Radio 4, the World Tonight) -

(Headlines at start, news report at 7 min)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0007yn8


Russian air attack. ("Double tap" air attack on a street market). Claims that the Russian aircraft had been monitored in to the site of the attack by observers on the ground. Conversations between Russian aircrews monitored. Eye witness accounts of the two air attacks. Denials from the Russians.

This then moved on to a long State Department interview. Listening to that interview, and reading the account of the position above, one is simply living in two different worlds.

Unfortunate that it is the BBC/State Department tinkered up version of events that will be the only one most of us will hear.

A shortened version on the BBC website -

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-middle-east-49528495/idlib-double-tap-air-strike-russia-says-never-was
.

Jack

TTG

What do you make of the US cruise missile attack on a meeting of jihadi leaders in Idlib?

Is this just a one-off or a change by Trump? How’s Bibi gonna react as he believes more fighting in Syria, Lebanon and Iran is best for his maximalist plan.

The Twisted Genius

I get the impression that Damascus has every intention to regain the whole of Idlib in this operation after the success of the last two weeks. The SAA is also massing in East Aleppo with the intent of finally driving the HTS jihadis out of that province as well. The original goal of Idlib Dawn was limited probably due to not knowing just how formidable the jihadi defenses were going to be. They were pretty tough in the first month or so of the operation. Now that they're broken, the R+6 should continue north on the M5 and west from Aleppo.

The Twisted Genius

Jack, I don't know for sure if it was US or Russian cruise missiles. If it was the US, perhaps they were aiming for particular jihadis who know too much about the level of support we've given them. Of course, that's just a WAG on my part. I'm now waiting to see what Bibi does about that Iranian tanker heading to a Lebanese port.

Fred

English,

Oh the horror of an aircraft using a missle followed by a second missle.
"when an initial airstrike is followed by a second attack by the same plane,.." Which didn't kill the rescurers shown in the BBC photo. Not to worry though, now that Syria is out of "barrel bombs" they are having to resort to missles which cost money and we know just how great the Syrian economy is doing right now, and their ally, Russia, well I'm told every day Russia is broke. So these things will soon be over. Good thing the US economy is doing well, the White Helmets will have no trouble finding a new job. Just in time for the 2020 election cycle too.

Walter

Maybe CENTCOM bombing Idlib is a punishment of Israel for bombing Iraq , Lebanon, Syria recently... USA probably does not want Middle East escalation? Just a guess.

walrus

The Australian media are full of white helmet crap yet again. You know - dropping barrel bombs on children’s hospitals etc. The attempt to rush the Turkish border was said to be by desperate refugees, not desperate jihadis. I keep wondering whose side we are on.

JP Billen

Jack, this is neither a one-off nor a change by Trump. CENTCOM has been hitting Al-Qaeda in Syria (AQ-S) since September 2014 over two years before Trump entered the WH. And Trump continued it after he was in office. He authorized a previous one on 30 June. There have been others in between. Not as often as the strikes against ISIS by international coalition air. My guess is that they had very few intel assets on the ground in Idlib and western Aleppo province, unlike what they had in northeasern Syria.

The next to last paragraph of this presser mentions the eight strikes on AQ camps in western Aleppo province back in 2014: https://www.centcom.mil/MEDIA/NEWS-ARTICLES/News-Article-View/Article/884858/sept-23-us-military-partner-nations-conduct-airstrikes-against-isil-in-syria/

https://www.centcom.mil/MEDIA/STATEMENTS/Statements-View/Article/1891697/statement-from-us-central-command-on-strike-against-al-qaida-in-syria/

JP Billen

CENTCOM has claimed responsibility. Not a precedent. The US has never given support to Haras al-Din, who was the primary target.

Unhinged Citizen

"I understand that a significant number of those left are foreign fighters, are they to be sent back whence they came, will the home state be willing to accept them, China might for the ~18k Uigher, or will they. Hard choices, difficult politics."

They came from elsewhere to terrorize the people of Syria and plunder their lands. Sadly, most of them will slip away and likely end up on social assistance in Sweden or Germany, and carry their mind rot over to their brood.

turcopolier

TTG

SAA holds all of Aleppo except for the far western suburbs. agree with an axis pushing west from Aleppo once the jihadis start running from their present positions north of Khan Sheikoon.

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