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14 February 2020


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Arwa Damon of CNN reported on children freezing to death in refugee
camps in Idlib. Apparently the temp has fallen below freezing &
some of the kids didn't have shoes or coats.

So many factions fighting in an area sounds like hell on earth for

CNN also showed a small U.S. contingent in the midst of the chaos
however I didn't understand where they were or their mission.

Barbara Ann

Another great update, thanks TTG.

I really get the feeling we are watching history in the making as the SAA & friends carve a swathe through what remains of occupied Idlib. I am sure the outcome will prove to be a great turning point in the balance of power in the ME. This makes it all the more fascinating, from the safe spectator's standpoint.

I wonder if we should see it as encouraging that the TSK has not directly engaged the SAA again, since the exchange of fire a few days ago that you describe. Perhaps this is the calm before the storm. I'd like to think Erdogan has carefully weighed the risks of going to war over the bones of his ancestors. However, I'm not at all sure that the rational actor model can accurately forecast the actions of a neo-Ottoman fantasist. We shall soon see I guess.


It remains to be seen of Pompeo and the other Ziocons can push turkey into war against Syria.

Barbara Ann

On the subject of Pompeo's efforts to goad Turkey into war, has the State Dept. scrubbed the designation of HTS from its website?

Here is an archive of the designation of HTS as an alias of al-Nusrah Front - note the date.


And here is the list of press releases by the Office of the Spokesperson covering the same period.

The link was live a few weeks ago, as I saw it myself. Nusrah is still on the FTO list, but if I’m not mistaken, this looks like an attempt to whitewash HTS.


The moves by the SAA in our last diagram are, as you say, not in tank country. It is rugged mountains currently in the middle of winter. The SAAs best chance is that the militants are on the run with few supplies pre-positioned in the area as they would probably not have been expecting to have to defend it yet. Whilst they think that the best thing to do is to keep on moving west, before they get slaughtered. A problem might be that I read somewhere that there are a lot of Uygurs there who will martyr themselves.

A long and costly operation doesn't seem to be in the SAA plans currently.


Gank 'em all, SAA!

No doubt Pompeo and his merry band of neocons are whispering something like "you can't let this Assad guy do that to you! You know what you gotta do? You gotta stand up for yourself, you gotta go on the attack! What are you, chicken?" in Erdogan's ear.



IMO there is at least a 50% chance that jihadi resistance will collapse in Idlib Province if the pursuit is pressed hard enough.


The way the SAA is killing jihadists, a hundred here etc, perhaps they'll rid the Turks of all of them. Maybe Erdogan is smart like a fox.


Thanks TTG - Looks like your scenario of an SDF/YPG push south from their Shahba district on a Bashmara axis along with an SAA push north may have started. The SAA has already taken al Mansoura just west of the Ring Road and the Wadi al-Gharbi. And there is plenty of bombing preparation in between the two points.

Although Atarib may or may not be involved in this operation as there are reports (unconfirmed?) that the Turkey has put a large TKK unit in Atarib to defend it.

The Turks have also sent a large TKK unit to block the M4 highway between Saraqib and Jisr al-Shigour. Probably to protect their Turkestani jihadi kinsmen there and the Syrian Turkmen that support them?

What do you suspect will happen when the SAA gets close to the Idlib/Hatay border? Will Erdogan go ballistic and start an all out war, or will Lavrov calm him down.


I agree with you and there are signs that it is starting to happen as sites previously hard fought over west of Aleppo are now falling quickly.

Also there are reports that the push south from the other side of the mountains towards Aleppo has stopped. It seems to me that this could be intentional to reduce SAA casualties. Perhaps its main function was to scare the shit out of all the terrorists east of it, encouraging them to flee west before it was too late.

Do you have any comment on the potential effects of the Yemenis shooting down a Saudi Tornado? Commentators on the Russian site I follow seem to think that a Russian air to air missile fired from the ground probably did the job.


The only threat to continued SAA success in my view is Erdogan deciding to take decisive action. I have been reassured by the article in the Jerusalem Post that Erdogan's threats are just his attempt to get a better deal from Russia:

That is good to hear.

The Twisted Genius


Heading to the border and the Bab al Hawa crossing is a big step. I don't think the SAA will try that without a clear assurance from Moscow. I say that because taking Bab al Hawa would make the jihadi presence in most of Idlib untenable. Erdogan made strong efforts to block the SAA advance on the Bab al Hawa-Idlib highway as soon as the 25th made their thrust towards Kafr Aleppo. Those blocking efforts have only increased. I don't know if Erdogan will go all in to resist an SAA strike towards the border. I also don't know if the SAA is willing to chance it at this time without that assurance from Moscow.

It looks like the jihadis are going to lose all their positions in west Aleppo fairly soon. In response, Turkey is shelling the hell out of SAA and YPG positions north of Aleppo. We'll have to see if Erdogan is willing to go any further.

The Twisted Genius


I don't think the shoot down of that Tornado will affect anyone except other Saudi pilots. They will now be scared shitless flying those skies. It was bound to happen whether it was a ground launched AA missile or a MANPAD. I have to admit, the idea of a ground launched air to air missile is pretty damned ingenious.


Indeed Colonel, the Yemenis are clearly lateral thinkers. The YeminiAF quickly lost all their aircraft to Saudi bombing but retained their stocks of munitions including AAM. They have used them since both as SAM and SSM, once they worked out how to launch them. This attack was a SAM not MANPAD as due to the height achieved. It may have been either old Russian stock or new Iranian copies, those AAM are a pretty good base to work from.


TTG, Colonel,

Why o why does a spanner have to be thrown into something that's working and achieving positive results.

There was a spanner thrown in yesterday.

Saturday President Trump held a phone call with Erdogan over Idlib. The two condemned the SA advance into Idlib, calling the military offensive with Russian support "unacceptable". Last week the U.S. sent special envoy for the region James Jeffrey to Ankara, where he spouted support for "our NATO ally Turkey".

Damascus and Moscow have charged Turkey with protecting the terrorists operating in Idlib. They expressed their desire for an immediate halt to the fighting. 

Appears that Turkey and D.C. aren't happy with their approach.

First Trump says we don't have a bone in the fight, next CENTCOM CC countermands POTUS, this particular happened in the recent past. Now seems that POTUS now countermands himself.

I'm sorry but this latest by Trump is causing whiplash.


Wow its looks as if the SAA have achieved another objective. A huge chunk of the area to the west and north west of Aleppo is now in their hands. Total collapse. Much celebration in the local population to have got rid of the plague of terrorists. No more artillery threat to Aleppo for the first time since 2012.

Will they stop now or just keep going?


Thanks TTG

Looks like that scenario you predicted has started to work. Finally pushed back the jihadi threat away from the Aleppo Ring Road in the city's NW.



I believe you are referring to the US patrol that came under fire near Qamishli, by a Sunni pro-Government tribe.

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