This is a report from Jennifer Griffin, national security correspondent for Fox News, after a phone conversation with an SF soldier in Syria. She filed the report by Twitter within the last two hours.

I just spoke to a distraught US Special Forces soldier who is among the 1000 or so US troops in Syria tonight who is serving alongside the SDF Kurdish forces. It was one of the hardest phone calls I have ever taken.

"I am ashamed for the first time in my career."

This veteran US Special forces soldier has trained indigenous forces on multiple continents. He is on the frontlines tonight and said they are witnessing Turkish atrocities.

"Turkey is not doing what it agreed to. It's horrible," this military source on the ground told me. "We met every single security agreement. The Kurds met every single agreement. There was NO threat to the Turks – NONE – from this side of the border." "This is insanity," the concerned US service member told me. ""I don't know what they call atrocities but they are happening."

This American soldier told me the Kurds have not left their positions guarding the ISIS prisoners. In fact "they prevented a prison break last night without us." 

"They are not abandoning our side (yet)."

The Kurds are "pleading for our support." We are doing "nothing."

Troops on the ground in Syria and their commanders were "surprised" by the decision Sunday night. Of the President's decision: "He doesn't understand the problem. He doesn't understand the repercussions of this. Erdogan is an Islamist, not a level headed actor."

This US Special Forces soldier wanted me to know: "The Kurds are sticking by us. No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."

Disappointed in the decisions coming from their senior leaders.


So what is happening on this opening day of Erdogan's Operation PeaceSpring? Turkey has launched air strikes and artillery barrages on Kurdish military and civilian targets along the entire border east of the Euphrates. The Rojava Information Center reported earlier today:

  • 7 serious injuries (two of them female) to adults
  • 4 children injured (between 2-6 years old), at least 2 dead 
  • Hospital in Sere Kaniye is bombed out of service 
  • Largest Christian neighborhood (Bisheriya) in NE Syria was bombarded, 2 civilians died

Erdogan's jihadi auxiliaries have crossed the border and IS sleeper cells have attacked in Raqqa. The YPG repelled at least one assault on Tal Abyad and destroyed a small Turkish outpost west of Kobani. The YPG has ceased all anti IS operations to deal with this new invasion. This is just the beginning of what will be a long, sad story.

Turkey has coordinated its strikes with Russia. We have no idea what was agreed to by these two. Qatar had voiced support for Erdogan's move. Saudi Arabia, surprisingly, has condemned it. Damascus, obviously, has also condemned it, but puts at least some of the blame on the intransigence of the Kurds. My guess is that SAA and Russian forces will cross the Euphrates to prevent Turkish and jihadi forces from retaking any oilfields. Seems the next phase of Operation Idlib Dawn will have to wait. Whether the SAA will end up fighting side by side with the YPG against Erdogan's jihadis or even Erdogan's troops is anybody's guess at this point. Stay tuned.


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86 Responses to BOHICA Update – TTG

  1. Raven says:

    “Trump betrays Kurds!” Ho Hum

  2. Stephanie says:

    This is all on one man.

  3. But Trump had good reason. The Kurds didn’t help us with WWII or at Normandy. They didn’t help us with Viet Nam, either. But neither did cadet bone spurs. 😉

  4. Fred says:

    If only Obama had crossed that red line and overthrown Assad in favor of what’s his name, the leader of Free Syria, none of this would be happening. The other Syrians, well I’m sure Free Syrian President what’s his name would treat them all the way they deserve; especially the Christians and other non Muslim peoples.

  5. Fred, the Free Syria jihadis would have tried to kill off the Kurds on behalf of their Turkish benefactors long ago if Obama’s arm/aid the rebels efforts didn’t fail miserably.

  6. plantman says:

    You say “Turkey has coordinated its strikes with Russia.”
    I doubt that this is true, in fact, Putin and Lavrov have both expressed their reservations about the operation. I would guess that Putin has set definite parameters on how far Erdogan can go, certainly not ant any farther than the 25 mile limit.
    The media would like us to believe that Erdogan has a bone to pick with the Kurds, but that’s not true either. Turkey hosts more Kurds than any of the neighboring countries. But the SDF is linked to the PKK, a marxist leninist cadres that has waged war on Turkey for 30 years killing over 30,000 people.
    . Erdogan might be a obnoxious autocrat, but he has legitimate security concerns regarding the YPG on his southern border. If he doesn’t clean the mess up, then there’s bound to be trouble in the future.

  7. Jackrabbit says:

    It all makes sense now.
    Looks like Trump will HAVE TO accede to the Kurds request for a No-Fly Zone (NFZ) that extends across all of Northeastern Syria. The political pressure to not abandon the Kurds is just too great.
    Then SAA will back down from any attempt to take back the oil fields because they’ll have to face ISIS (supplemented by “escaped” prisoners, of course) without the benefit of Russian air support.
    IMO such an outcome (if it does indeed come to pass) was all pre-arranged.

  8. MG says:

    Yes, it’s all on Obama, who authorized the John Brennan CIA’s Operation Timber Sycamore, which gave billions to terrorists aka “moderate rebels” in Syria. Part of the US dirty war on Syria.
    The US has been trying to destablize Syria and topple its leader since 1950.
    Syria’s government offered the Kurds peace and protection. It’s up to the Kurds.
    Turkey is our “NATO ally” that has supported ISIS for years.

  9. Stephanie says:

    “Turkey has coordinated its strikes with Russia. We have no idea what was agreed to by these two.”
    Hard to believe. Russia is peeling off part of the sovereign territory of Syria to Erdogan for… for what?
    Russia entered the Syrian conflict because it did not want another Chechnya. The Kurds have been guarding compounds filled with ISIS fighters. It is precisely those people that Russia is in Syria to defeat/exterminate.
    I don’t understand this.

  10. “I would guess that Putin has set definite parameters on how far Erdogan can go”
    I’m sure that’s true, but we have no idea what those parameters are. This may be all part of a plan to get the US out of Syria. I doubt the fact that Kurds will get killed in the process is of any concern to Moscow.

  11. Leith says:

    Actually Kurds helped the Soviet Army in WW2 against the Nazis.
    Designated a Hero of the Soviet Union. He was awarded the Orders of Lenin, Red Banner (twice), Red Star, Badge of Honour (twice), Order of the Patriotic War (three times), and the Medal for Courage. And he was not the only Kurd living in Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia who fought with the Red Army.
    Normandy? A small number of Turkish Kurds immigrated to America during the Turkish War of Independence, 1919 to 1923. I like to think there was a Kurdish-American GI at Normandy. Probably a Nashville Tennessee Boy. And there sure as hell were more Kurdish-American boys fighting in Viet-Nam than there were Trumps.

  12. Stephanie, as I said we don’t know the Russian plan. There is no guarantee Turkey will get any new Syrian territory out of this. I think this may be a plan to get the US out of Syria. It won’t solve all the problems in the region, but it’s one step in the process. You, I and everyone else will have to see how this all plays out before we understand it.

  13. Leith says:

    Turkey has had a Kurdish problem for 40 years and it will continue for another 100 years. Unless Erdogan reinstates the ceasefire that he broke in 2015. He broke that two years of peace by arming his ISIS proxies who were attacking the mostly Kurdish city of Kobani on Syria.

  14. JP Billen says:

    Hafez Assad, Bashar’s father, offered the Kurds sanctuary, but it was conditional. He gave them arms and training. He encouraged their insurgency attacks in Turkey. And he sent them to Lebanon in 82 to fight with the Palestinians against the Israeli invasion.
    Then he gave them up in 1998 after the Adana Agreement. Bashar has followed his father’s line regarding the Kurds.
    By the way, the Kurds have always been at peace with the Syria and the Syrian Army. They cooperated with the Syrian Army in Aleppo City and Manbij. They lived peacefully side-by-side with Syrian Army detachments in Hasakah and Qamishli cities in the NE.

  15. Christopher Sims says:

    What Free Syrian President?! He would have likely been a jihadist puppet. If Assad had been overthrown Syria would be a thousand times worse than now…think Libya but even more chaotic. Much of Syria would have become a Jihadi hellhole, possibly Lebanon as well. I also have no doubt that a Turkish incursion would have happened much sooner on a much bigger scale…

  16. Lyttennburgh says:

    Tell you what? Tell you what? I, actually, admire this clűsterfûck. I mean, just a few days ago there was this much waunted “bipartisan” report by the Syria Study Group ( with its evaluations, concerns and recommendations on “how to further vital American national interests” and then – BLAM! The Donald wipes his ass (will WaPo and NYT call this act “presidential”?) with it and all megabytes worth in volume of all other ditherings and hitherings courtesy of sell-out egg-heads working not for the sake of the truth, but for a paycheck. This militant anti-intellectualism which shows that pathetic little think-tankers are powerless and useless – ain’t it a beautiful sight? 😉

  17. turcopolier says:

    And the motive was, what? the small Syrian oil fields?

  18. rho says:

    At that rate, the Kurds will seriously consider making a deal with Assad once they have lost all their remaining territory in Syria. You really have to admire the wisdom of their Marxist leadership.

  19. turcopolier says:

    People are over thinking this. IMO the Turkish (Erdo) motive is twofold 1- kill as many “enemy” Kurds as possible and 2-Gain control of as much Syrian territory as can be managed in a complex political situation. Someone said that Turkey “hosts” a lot of Kurds. Not so, the Kurdish population of SE Turkey is one of the major indigenous ethnic groups of the Turkish Republic. It used to be a sad joke that the Turkish government referred to them as “mountain Turks.”

  20. rho says:

    Talks about a NFZ are wishful thinking from the SDF leadership at that point. SDF is begging for one right now “to stop the attacks on innocent people”, but the US has nothing meaningful to gain from imposing one, while risking an open confrontation with Russia in doing so.

  21. Gabriel says:

    What would a Turkish offensive against the YPG/J look like? Last week an Interesting analysis of Turkish military performance during Operation Euphrates Shield (northern Aleppo) and Olive Branch (Afrin) came out (link at bottom). Adding to its finding what I’ve myself observed of the TSK since 2015, I attempt below a very quick sketch of the “model” or “style” the Turkish military has evolved.
    * Carefully planned, firepower-intensive advances, with generally limited objectives [edit: this apparently has to be stressed: this will almost certainly not be a ground offensive along the entirety of Rojava bordering Turkey: it’s not just a bad idea, but they don’t have that kind of strength. They’ll do artillery and air-strikes everywhere, but their ground operations will be much more focused] . US/UK audiences tend to underestimate power of modern artillery because air power has a higher profile in their interventions. During Euphrates Shield its effectiveness was limited because of poor planning, convoluted command lines, chaotic liaison with FSA, and a very “shock and awe” idea of winning the war with Special Forces and F-16s. This was corrected in Afrin. I may modestly add that I was warning in real-time that this was likely to negate a lot of the advantage some commentators posited the YPG would have from all that mountainous terrain plus tunnels, simply because I’d seen how, in late 2015, Russian artillery had shot some *extremely* mediocre SAA formations across northern Latakiah, which has even worse terrain than Afrin for an offensive.
    * -Very- heavy use of drones, both for spotting and for direct action. Turkey’s “drone-industrial sector” has to be admitted to be a clear success of a local industrial military policy: in this way it could be seen as similar to Iran, in that both countries have a very strong incentive to develop a capability that is not as expensive and fragile as manned aircraft. They have also used Unmanned Ground Vehicles with some effect, primarily a sort of armored bulldozer to clear obstacles.
    * A core of Turkish ground forces built around their “commando” units –staffed with professionals, essentially light infantry specialized to fight against PKK guerrillas–, armor battalions used for direct infantry support, SF and MIT (Turkish CIA) liaison teams, and, again, masses of artillery and drone units. As with many armies, only a fraction even of “high-readiness” formations is actually ready to deploy at short notice, so, in practice, individual battalions are levied from different commands and combined ad hoc in the theater of operations, under direct command of an Army-level HQ.  As long as fancy maneuvers not required, this does not seem to cause problems. [EDIT: See my first comment above for why Turkish Army not as large as it can seem: overrunning entirety of Syrian Kurdistan simply not in the cards]
    * Use of the jihadi bashi-bashouks of the “Free Syrian Army” to do the infantry dirty work. However, not much of this dirty-work required, so these units don’t have to be of spectacular quality: the bulk of the killing (as ever) is done by artillery, drones, and manned airstrikes. FSA just soaks up the casualties involved in actually occupying enemy positions, detonating IEDs, etc.. Turkish casualties have run at a steady 10% of the overall number: only difference with Olive Branch is that total casualties considerably lower. As long as the tempo of ground operations is not too fast, and the Turkish elements have a streamlined and unified links between each other and their FSA auxilliaries, this appears to be a perfectly workable model.
    (piece here, Author a former Turkish SF officer turned military analyst: has the bias you’d expect but, used with caution, I’ve found him generally reliable and have profited much from having followed his columns since 2015) ‘
    ‘ Possible weaknesses?
    * The command team that did an efficient managing of Olive Branch (in 2nd Army HQ, for fellow TSK obsessives) has been entirely removed. Both the titular head (Metin Temel–who might have been acquiring too public a profile), and an important chunk of the field grade staff (for reasons still very unclear). Thus, the people managing an operation now might show all the weaknesses on display after the coup purges: men new to their commands and to the people they have to work with.
    * There are signs that Erdogan didn’t quite expect the level of success he achieved with Trump over the weekend, so forces (both Turkish and FSA) are only now being moved into what one assumes are their jump-off positions at the border. Thus, the careful planning and deployment that characterized the Afrin operation can no longer be expected, and Turkish leaders and units might be required to show a flair for improvisation that they have so far lacked. There are doubtless rooms full of Turkish Army plans to occupy the East bank of the Euphrates, but there is only so much preparation that can be done beforehand without knowing the exact time frame and the units that will be taking part in the operation. That FSA units also being rushed to the area makes the problem even worse: at the best of times these are mess of different organizations and commanders, require the strictest and simplest top-down command: mixing-and-matching them on the spot could lead to 2016-like trouble. OTOH, Erdogan could conclude that higher casualties and some initial messiness better than letting this political “moment” slip by, and he probably wouldn’t be wrong.
    * The “deployable” element of the Turkish military is smaller than it seems. Even within the Turkish commando formations there have been reports of increasing problems with recruitment, which, as usual with these, compound themselves as shortages of numbers impact the length of active deployments and retention. Thus, there may be hard limits to the level of ground forces (and thus casualties) Turkey can use for this operation.
    And that is about as much as I can think of at the moment and at short notice. My guess would still be that the TSK will take whatever it wants in northern Syria if it is only going against the YPG/J (especially if it keeps its actions limited and does not rush the tempo), but I have very little knowledge of what the Kurdish side of all this looks like. Hopefully other fans can help fill this in.
    PS. One possibly significant difference between Olive Branch and now is that in Afrin YPG/J made a deliberate decision not to contest Afrin city, choosing instead to withdraw its fighters and some of the civilian population. They also did not commit as many of their ATGMs as they might have. However, it really depends on the Turkish command whether this makes a difference: if they try to rush this, try fancy armored maneuvers, try to seize towns by “coup de main”, then they might just suffer enough casualties for there to be localized stalemates and political problems for Erdogan. Even this is a stretch: it would have to be Grozny 1995 bad, and I don’t think the TSK is likely to make this kind of mistake, even if it turns out that, because rushed, this operation will go less smoothly than Olive Branch. Even within Turkey their strategy for enemy controlled cities is the brutal but effective one of encircling it and shoot the shit out of it with tank and artillery fire. No reason they wouldn’t do this now.
    Put another way, the only way I could see the YPG/J pulling a *military* victory out of this is if there’s some time-limit for Erdogan’s freedom to conduct this operation. If this has to be done within a week (or even a month), then ***maybe*** some miracle of Kurdish defense and TSK/FSA clumsiness could produce a stalemate that would make possible some sort of international-community ceasefire. I, to say the fucking least, don’t see the least indication that this is possible at all, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t welcome and be willing to consider an argument that the TSK is actually on a timer here. ‘

  22. Jackrabbit says:

    Before the war caused a decrease in production, those “small Syrian oil fields” allowed Syria to be energy independent and export oil:
    Syria produced about 400,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of crude and other petroleum liquids in 2010.
    Syria had 2.5 billion barrels of petroleum reserves as of January 1, 2011, according to The Oil and Gas Journal.
    In 2009, Syria produced an estimated 219 billion cubic feet per year (Bcf/y) of dry natural gas.
    <> <> <> <> <>
    Would another Iranian tanker be allowed to deliver oil to Syria after Grace 1?

  23. turcopolier says:

    I used to know some scurrilous Syrian exiles who lived in southern France and London in great luxury from the distribution rights from those oil fields. For them these were major oilfields but on the world scene they are not very important. Syria was oil independent? Good!

  24. oldman22 says:

    My view:
    Kurds must reconcile with Syria to gain Russian support to resist invasion by Turkey.
    Russia’s interest is security of its borders and profitable trade with its neighbors. That means peaceful relations with all these parties at war with each other, including Turkey, Syria, Israel, Iran, Iraq, Saudi and USA.
    I am not aware of any debt which Russia owes to Kurds or to Rojava. The Kurds helped USA, they did NOT help Russia. It is USA which is betraying the Kurds, not Russia.
    Russia has never guaranteed that Syria will recover all of its former territory. That is Assad’s policy, not Russia’s.
    The fact that Turkey “coordinated” its actions with Russia does NOT mean that Russia supports those actions. Russia and USA coordinate their actions all the time.

  25. confusedponderer says:

    Ah, these bone spours. They’re nasty I read. How good it is to know helpful doctors.
    Anyway, I had my 4th or so ankle torn ligament when I did my military service, but then, I did communications and phone things there. Our regiment did the long range communication to troops deployed to Somalia then, with HF radio and some of the first (then rented) satellite communications in the Bundeswehr.

  26. TS says:

    The grand bargain is about Eretz Israel. The Yom Kippur invasion is another step in the eventual partition of Syria. Turkey tries to halt the ceding of Syrian turf to Kurds for their eventual state. (No Fly Zone in Iraq after Persian Gulf War was the model, to be attempted in N.E Syria; “Rojava”.) Erdogan thinks he can preempt that move & absorb that turf into Turkey. But redrawing those borders will backfire on him. This is not annexable Hatay or northern Cyprus. Greater Kurdistan has long been planned as “Little Israel” or Israel East, to be a faux rump state of Israel once its final borders of Nile to Efrat are achieved. I was in Irbil for the 2017 referendum vote of independence and this long term ‘plan’ was spoken of by many average Kurds on the streets whom I spoke to. “One step, one border, one country at a time…” Just passing on what I heard

  27. Paul Merrell says:

    @ “The political pressure to not abandon the Kurds is just too great.”
    I’m not so sure the pressure is all that great. We’re heading into election season and voting to continue a foreign war could pose an electability problem for some candidates.

  28. Serge says:

    And when did he arm them? If my memory serves me right Erdogan facilitated the movement of Peshmerga through Turkey to Kobane, these reinforcements being the true gamebreaker in the siege of Kobane. For IMO the best references on “who armed” the IS:
    This Dispatch is the result of field investigations during the initial phases of the assault on IS forces in eastern Mosul. It provides clear evidence of IS ability to manufacture weapons on an industrial scale, with output running into the tens of thousands.
    This report is the result of more than three years of field investigation into Islamic State supply chains. It presents an analysis of more than 40,000 items recovered from the group between 2014 and 2017. These items encompass weapons, ammunition, and the traceable components and chemical precursors used by the group to manufacture improvised explosive devices.

  29. Barbara Ann says:

    “My guess is that SAA and Russian forces will cross the Euphrates to prevent Turkish and jihadi forces from retaking any oilfields”

    I agree that getting the US out of Syria is probably the primary objective for all concerned – including DJT. Russia, Turkey, Iran and the SAG all want to achieve this and must realize that the Kurds reconciling with Damascus is the only realistic way they can force the US out completely – i.e. with the “SDF” inviting the SAA across the river. I’d expect any premature move ahead of that to be met with force, as before. The neocons will surely fight tooth and nail to prevent this and it remains to be seen whether the delusional Kurdish leadership (the real betrayers here) will actually do more than “consider” this course of action. So far they seem perfectly willing to lead their people to oblivion.

  30. Christian J Chuba says:

    I have a different cynical take on the Syrian oil field issue.
    Once the SAA finally secures Idlib (can’t happen soon enough), the SAR will return look to the east to win back the stolen oil fields. They will first attempt reconciliation but resort to force if necessary.
    In Washington, something primal will kick in, the idea of the Syrian ‘regime’ ousting the SDF to reclaim their own oil fields will boil our blood. It’s one thing to allow Turkey to attack the SDF but Damascus, never. I’m not saying that we will fight for the Kurds then, just saying that there will be more outrage, definitely more sanctions and maybe even another cruise missile attack. This will be a sign of our insanity that we are now conditioned to detest the idea of a sovereign country reclaiming their own territory.
    This is speculation on my part but if past is prologue, the Turkish invasion of Afrin, eh, but the SAA liberation of Aleppo was the crushing of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising (and Al Qaeda was there).

  31. Fred says:

    NATO ally Turkey is attacking the Kurds. Perhaps Trump should call for kicking them out of NATO. Maybe Sciff can add this, along with to the uncovering Biden’s bribes, to the reasons he should be impeached.

  32. Fred says:

    Don’t you remember Obama and his officials trotting out the great freedom fighter to rally all those refugees to fight for freedom? She was a regular George Washington.

  33. Diana C says:

    Having watched as many of my high School classmates went off to Vietnam and then followed all the news after Desert Storm, I am just hoping that somehow all these angry people will figure out a way to live in peace before my precious little grandsons grow old enough to be considered as possible soldiers.
    I just wonder what this current time in the ME would have looked like if the secular government set up by Kamal Ataturk had not been overthrown by Erdogan. Was it that the Turkish people just could not figure out how to be “non-religous,” (as my daughter-in-law used to describe her family) and live and prosper in a society without control by a religious leader?

  34. JohnH says:

    What is an SF soldier doing talking to the media? Since when is that permitted?
    This smells fishy … DOD propaganda?

  35. j says:

    Biden and the pickle heads in the Congress who are now crying foul, weren’t’ saying a peep back in the late 70, through the 80s, and into the 90s before and after Desert Storm and Ops Iraq Freedom, when the Turks were slaughtering Kurd villages and murdering innocent Kurd women and children. We as U.S. Military were prohibited at that time from the Top all the way down the chain, from any intervention on our part on behalf of the Kurds because Turkey was our ‘NATO Ally’, and we ‘mustn’t piss our NATO Ally off’ by stopping their Turk carnage against the Kurds.
    I was pissed then, and I’m still pissed now. I understand TTG and your SF buddy’s feelings, I feel ya. Couldn’t do a damn thing then, can’t do a damn thing now unless one is pissed off enough to create an international incident and deal with the Chain’s repercussions that would surly follow.
    Turmp said the truth when he said their Hatfield-McCoy’s fude has been a centuries running one.

  36. turcopolier says:

    J & TTG
    Hey! This is what we do! Screw your buddies ought to be a new national motto.

  37. Barbara Ann says:

    Erdogan is convinced the US tried to regime change him on July 15th 2016 and a third motive does seem to be to prevent the US creating the State of Rojava. Given the supposed admission by an NSC official in Newsweek’s article that “ would be better for the United States to support a Kurdish nation across Turkey, Syria and Iraq” the threat seems real enough. Which of the 3 is the real driving force is known only in the Sultan’s mind I guess.

  38. Fred says:

    One guy at Normandy? We had more Germans in our army then. Got any more century old axes to grind to prove Trump is to blame and don’t mention it is the Turkish government doing the invading this time.

  39. ted richard says:

    her bio
    this report is a light version of greta thunebergs over the top all emotion, all the time UN address meant to appeal to your primitive brain not its higher rational faculties. jennifer whether she is or not makes the perfect noc in service to inflame readers to choose a side which is mostly none of their business to begin with.
    be skeptical!

  40. Steve G says:

    Are we not following Lord Palmerston’s maxim
    “Nations have no permanent friends or allies
    They only have permanent interests” ?
    The basis for Henry Kissinger’s Realpolitik.

  41. A.I.S. says:

    My couple of speculative cents:
    I work as a completely commercial data analyst. We have a thing where, when we make predictions, how much of our salaries we would be willing to bet on these being true. So I am just going to include this here.
    -Russias current abeyance is probably a classical “sell erdogan enough rope and he will hang himself” exercise. It would be fairly expensive for Russia to prevent it anyway. (confidence, quite high. quite higher meaning I am willing to bet one of my monthly salaries on it).
    – Russia probably managed to get something promised in return for it, wether the turks will deliver on “it” is a completely different question. (confidence, reasonably high, willing to bet a weekly salary).
    -Iran prefers turkey in northern syria over the US in northern syria (confidence, quite high, monthly salary bet).
    -Screwing the Kurds is like a rite of passage for everyone in this area and surprised essentially noone other then the usual morons (confidence so high that its irrelevant, noone with more then 2 braincells would take a bet against it).

  42. turcopolier says:

    There is a natural tendency for case officers to “fall in love” with their agents and for Green Berets to “fall in love with” the locals that that they are training or whatever. This tendency must be resisted, because, in the end you represent the US government and you ain’t really there to help the locals. You are there to carry out the foreign policy of the US whatever that might be. Does that hurt? You bet it does and the better you are at your job, the more it hurts. David Crist in his book “The Twilight War” wrote that some people thought I was too hard and cynical to ever be a TRUE Arabist. I am glad they thought that.

  43. prawnik says:

    I am sick of dopey conspiracy theories that the war in Syria is really about “oilfields” or a chimerical pipeline.
    The oilfields in Syria are of no consequence. Besides, it’s not like Syria would not gladly sell oil for dollars or the United States does not buy oil from far more odious regimes.
    Turning a country into a war zone like Libya or Iraq means that country would be a lousy place to park big, expensive, vulnerable, immobile infrastructure such as a pipeline, where you have to constantly pay off every local warlord and malcontent not to attack it. Besides, Syria would gladly allow a pipeline to pass through its territory in exchange for transit fees.
    The war in Syria is about our ostensible client states, Saudi Arabia and the other Gulfie tyrannies, and Israel.
    Saudi Arabia wants to turn Syria into a wahabbi dependency, a poorer mini-me.
    Israel objects to the fact that Syria exists.

  44. prawnik says:

    I believe that the British were careful not to let their agents “go native”, that is to start identifying too strongly with the people they were supposed to work with or govern.
    That is why.

  45. Barbara Ann says:

    Only people who lack humanity find the urge to fall in love easy to resist. Hurt it should. You (and TTG) very obviously do not fall into this category and it is all the more impressive that you are thought of as hard and cynical in some circles – a mark of professionalism.

  46. Jackrabbit says:

    Funny that you initially object to my “dopey conspiracy theory” then reinforce it in your last sentences.
    YES! It’s not a lot of oil by world standards, but it is more than sufficient for Syria and thus very important given that they are under sanctions and have a decimated economy.
    In case you haven’t noticed, the ‘Assad must go!’ Coalition (which includes USA client states and assorted lackeys and sympathizers) is engaged in an effort to starve Syria of resources – including oil and reconstruction funds.

  47. Jackrabbit says:

    Trump has announced a pull-back (from the Syrian-Turk border) NOT a “pull-out”.
    MSM is (deliberately) confusing/conflating Trump’s rhetoric and reality.

  48. JamesT says:

    I agree with TTG 100%. I think he is perceptive in saying this may be part of a plan to get the US out of Syria, and I think he is dead on is saying that we will have to see how it plays out before we can understand it.

  49. Leith says:

    Thanks for those links. Both of them show IS had access to Turkish weapons and ammo or Turkish components for their manufacture of weapons. It may or may not have been an overt policy of Turkey to arm ISIS. But at the least the MIT, and some Gray Wolves in the TKK encouraged it. And Erdogan looked the other way.
    Erdogan did allow a small Iraqi Peshmerga unit to travel through Turkish territory to help relieve the siege of Kobane. He did it at the insistence of both the US and the Barzanis in Iraqi Kurdistan, who had long been cooperating with him against PKK bases in the northern Iraqi mountains. I would not call those 150 Pesh the gamebreaker. What was much more important was the truckloads of ammunition they provided to the YPG that they secretly smuggled through Turkey a week or so after they first arrived.

  50. Leith says:

    At least that one (or more?) Kurdish-American boy at Normandy didn’t claim five draft deferments.

  51. Xenophon says:


  52. Fred says:

    How many votes will that cost this election? How many will your fictional Kurdish hero gain you?

  53. turcopolier says:

    Means what?

  54. JP Billen says:

    Thanks for that link to Gurcan’s notes on Operations Euphrates Shield and Olive Branch.
    I ma wondering if the Turks are over-extended? They have troops in Idlib, Afrin, ES area, and Iraq plus all along those sections of border. Plus they are engaged with the PKK in eastern Turkey. Have they moved armour and artillery from those areas to the current scrap along the NE Syrian border? There are also rumors they are reinforcing northern Cyprus and have TAF commitments to protect their oil drilling in that area.

  55. different clue says:

    Since the Kurds are divided into several minority populations in several countries by several borders, could this saying ” One step, one border, one country at a time . . . ” be referring to the vain-in-retrospect hope that “Iraqi” Kurds had that a ” Free IraKurdistan” would be the nucleus around which would crystallize all the other “little Kurdistans” into One Greatest Ever Kurdish Republic?

  56. JP Billen says:

    That Israeli connection is bogus agitprop. It was Israel that provided Turkey with support against the PKK within Turkey.
    By the way, Kurds fought with the Palestinians in Lebanon against the Israeli invasion.

  57. Barbara Ann says:

    I thank you for that link to Alan Farrell’s quiet cri de coeur. I would encourage everyone here to read it.

  58. Gabriel Uriarte says:

    Re over-extension, very unlikely. I do think this *can be* a factor, in that, even with myriads of bashi-bazouks, the Turkish military can probably only manage one limited advance at a time, but I don’t see how this would stop anything they have a mind to do know.
    Think about it this way: how many tanks or artillery barrels do you think the TSK really needs in Afrin, Iraq, or even the Turkish SE (incidentally, for a fantastic real-time tracker and mapper of where the actual “PKK” activity is happening at the moment, so look up this, ). News about Cyprus I’d dismiss entirely: who is going to “move” on Turkey not having forces there. Remember that the fact that only a small minority of Turkish forces combat capable doesn’t mean that very large 90-percent rump is useless: if you’re afraid about Cyprus or islets involving that gas thing, just send some of those undeployable conscripts units there (think of them like the Berlin Brigade for the US).
    Back to strategies, what the Turks have already done is massively destabilizing and does not require occupation by their auxilliaries of “key” positions on east-east highways. (BTW, they’ve pretty bad at media management, but they’re getting better: purely from looking at the recent footage, I think they grasped that all those images of their bashi-bazouks looting Afrin not great PR, so they’re try to suppress those, perhaps even by not giving the b-b’s even the chance to occupy any important place.) Most of the major towns (and all of the border villages) are now empty of civilians. Tons of people have moved . . . somewhere which will necessarily be makeshift, piss people off, require extraordinary relief efforts many actors will be in a position to rat-fuck, etc. . Huge chunks of the urban and local communities of “Rojava”, to put this another way, have been made unlivable and all it took was for Turkey to express its opinion with indiscriminate artillery fire and the suggestion they and their jihadi friends might move in.
    In a way, the Turkish master-stroke would be not to invade at all: just demonstrate that, whenever they want, they can make a huge percentage of the Turkish population self-relocate into becoming IDPs. That will certainly be “sobering” to people who think that having a traffic-police academy in Kobani is a sign of unalterable local autonomy. ‘
    This of course not the end of it (Erdogan has too much political capital running on this), but I wanted to highlight that, imho, an important objective of the Turkish offensive has already been achieved.

  59. prawnik says:

    The oilfields may be useful to Syria, but they are not why the United States is working so hard to destabilize the country.
    That is the dopey conspiracy theory that I was referring to.

  60. CK says:

    One might think that the Kurds having “put their faith” in the honeyed words of US politicians and CIA agents since the 60’s would have wised up a wee bit. Three generations and they still think the USA is going to carve up Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria to give them a homeland. Either terminally stupid or running a sweet con on the gullible in the US media.
    Or it just might be part of the Kurd character. None of their neighbours like them.

  61. Serge says:

    Pakistan announces support for Turkey. Shift in Pakistan from Saudi axis to Qatar? Or am I looking too much into it.

  62. Barbara Ann says:

    In case you haven’t seen it, this article (written at the end of last year) looks very useful in helping to understand why Turkey is focusing on Tal Abyad. It describes the Arab and Turkmen tribal composition in the area, right down to clan loyalties. The author finishes with this rather prescient looking forecast:

    Currently, Arab refugees from Tal Abyad are keen to return to the district by force with Turkey’s help. Many of them have trained in Turkish military camps in Sanliurfa and Akcakale, the border town nearest Tal Abyad. These young trainees may be used as the vanguard to “liberate” the district, similar to how the Turkish army used proxies when invading the Kurdish district of Afrin in northwest Syria. This strategy has an even better chance of succeeding (and avoiding international outcry) in Tal Abyad because the majority of the population is Arab, unlike in Afrin where Kurds are more numerous.

    I note news of some tribe/clan defections from the SDF already. Might the Turks head for Ayn Issa to split the Kobane & Jazira cantons (which the SDF linked up back in 2015)? I’d have thought Kobane should be easier to swallow up once the M4 is cut.

  63. JP Billen says:

    Actually, many Armenian & Assyrian Christian neighbours of the Kurds in both Iraq and Syria do like them. And a few Arab tribes also, for instance the Shammar who have been allied with them for generations.
    In Erdogan’s Turkey they are not liked. And have been jailed, tortured, or murdered for speaking the Kurdish language, or singing Kurdish songs, or belonging to the peaceful HDP political party.

  64. JP Billen says:

    ISIS claims responsibility for VBIED car bomb in Qamishli City earlier today. Killed three civilians and injured nine. This time a restaurant.
    In July they bombed the Syrian Orthodox Church of the Virgin Mary in Qamishli. Injuring 12. A local said that ISIS had mistimed the explosion as it would have killed sores of worshipers if it had gone off at the end of vespers a few minutes later.

  65. elaine says:

    When looking on the chess board pay a bit of attention to the 1000 U.S. troops
    relocating to Saudi Arabia.

  66. JP Billen says:

    Special Forces till there at 4:16 eastern time, and fired on by Turkish artillery (
    today. Maybe mistakenly? Or maybe a message.

  67. JP Billen says:

    No direct hit. But rounds landed within 225 yards from US observation post, outside the buffer zone. That US outpost had been declared U.S. And as confirmed by SECDEF and CJCS, the Turks knows all of our locations down to the precise grid coordinate.

  68. Le Renard Subtil says:

    Try 3000

  69. confusedponderer says:

    JP Billen,
    re the no direct hit. I have that a three line rule of thumb for instances like this:
    Once is perhaps coincidence.
    Twice is probably negligent.
    Three times is certainly enemy action.

    Erdo is once again demanding that he must not ever be criticised, demands a lot of EU money and threatens to let loose another flood of refugees on Europe (especially Greece) if he doesn’t get that money yesterday. What a … frenemy.

  70. The Beaver says:

    There was not only an observation post for the US SF on Mishtenur hill in Kobani.
    The French SF – Operation Chamal were also nearby . Two of them got injured .

  71. The Beaver says:

    @ TTG ( please publish ONLY if you think it is OK)
    What TFSA are doing ?

  72. JP Billen says:

    Confused Ponderer, a half mile error in targeting seems unlikely if they were using the new T55 Firtinas that IZ claimed. Ditto for the recently overhauled M52T. So the question is: was this a message direct from Erdodog or Hulusi, or from a battery commander with connections to the Gray Wolves?
    Beaver, a spokesman from the Ministère des Armées has said no French troops were wounded in the incident.

  73. The Beaver, it’s not only OK, but speaks to the heart of what’s going on. Turkey has been supporting jihadis for years no matter what they call themselves. Once again, the US is complicit in this support to terrorism. We deliberately used jihadis in an attempt to overthrow Assad and now we are deliberately allowing Turkey to use them to eradicate the Rojava Kurds.

  74. JP Billen says:

    Thanks Gabriel. I see your point on over-extension or lack of it, and also on Erdo’s objectives.
    Re the master stroke of not invading at all. It may be too late for that. Although the invasion is mostly bash-bazouks, there are also TKK tanks, BMP types, an AAA vehicles in the zone. Would Hulusi give those to the TSO or TFSA? Plus I don’t see the TKK staying north of the border since the SDF has conducted mortar attacks into Turkey itself in the last day or two.
    What is your opinion on the Mashtenour Hill incident – incompetence or a message?

  75. JP Billen says:

    I had neglected to mention that there is already a large TKK contingent in northern Cyprus. Wiki mentions somewhere between 17.500 and slightly less than 30.000. Their equipment is older though, i.e. M48 tanks and M113 APCs. So you are right that these may be the 10% not ready for duty elsewhere.
    Although several of wiki’s links to outside sources appear to be dead links.

  76. The Beaver says:

    @JP Billen
    Surprised to see that the Ministère des Armées spoke up. LeDrian ( currently FM but Minister of Def under Hollande) refused to say whether France has soldiers in NE Syria when he was interviewed on France 2 on Thursday evening.

  77. Gabriel Uriarte says:

    *Brilliant* find (not that you need a random commenter’s praise). Fabrice Balanche always worth reading.

  78. elaine says:

    JP Billen & Le Renard Subtil, My bad for grossly under estimating U.S.troops deployed to Saudi Arabia & I’m guessing your numbers don’t include the sailors in the area of conflict.
    TTG, Some Pentagon spokesman was on tv standing next to an Army General (whose rack
    covered 1/2 of his chest) basically apologizing & telling the viewers the military
    did everything legally possible to resist Trump’s command. I found this very unusual &

  79. Elaine, I don’t know exactly what that general said, but he was wrong to say anything like what you said. He should have had the discipline to keep his opinions to himself. I would expect him to face a reprimand at the very least.

  80. JP Billen says:

    Elaine, I did not mean to argue against your numbers. Although it seems the Subtle Fox is correct based on news stories. I only intended to point out that as far as we know 1000 US troops are still in Syria, and some were under attack by Turkey whether accident or intended. Best I think if they did leave. That would maybe give the Kurds some support by Assad to fight off the Turkish invasion. Although Putin might hold Assad back from attacking Turkish troops in the NE. He still wants Turkey out of NATO.
    TTG, the general in question I believe was CJCS General Milley. But I think it was the civilian spokesman next to him that did the apologies.

  81. elaine says:

    Yep, the civilian spokesman did all the talking. The General just stood
    there silent & stoic looking straight into the camera.

  82. Gabriel Uriarte says:

    Very late but, re Mashtenour Hill, my guess would be a partly an accidentally-on-purpose warning, partly a handy way to draw attention away from what appears to be their point of main effort further east between Tel Abyad and Ras el-Ain. There is plenty of evidence that both American SF teams on the ground and a good portion of their chain of command were dismayed by Trump’s decision, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that they were “slow-walking” an order to withdraw.
    To be a bit more useful, Al-Monitor had a nice piece yesterday about the domestic political context within which Erdogan has launched this offensive.

    Ankara is greatly concerned over the prospect of a new refugee influx from Idlib that would further entangle Turkey’s Syrian refugee problem. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had warned in September that Turkey cannot tolerate another refugee wave atop the 3.6 million Syrians it is already hosting.
    Besides putting strains on Turkey’s financial resources and social stamina, the Syrian refugee problem has proved increasingly costly for the AKP in terms of domestic politics. It is no coincidence that since the party’s rout in the June 23 rerun in Istanbul, government spokesmen have constantly touted the safe zone plan inside Syria as a way to expedite the return of Syrian refugees. Across Turkey and in big cities in particular, most of the Syrian refugees live in close proximity to AKP voters, either in the same neighborhoods or adjoining ones. Under the impact of the economic crisis, tensions between locals and refugees have grown, contributing to a gradual disenchantment with the government among AKP voters.
    In Istanbul — the heartbeat, the spirit and the mirror of the country — 73% of some 479,000 registered Syrians live in districts where local administrations are controlled by the AKP. Out of the 10 districts with the largest refugee numbers, seven are held by the AKP. Similarly, eight of the 10 districts with the biggest refugee populations in proportion to the locals are run by the AKP.
    . . .
    For Erdogan, Operation Peace Spring offers also an opportunity to stop or contain the unraveling within his party. Ali Babacan, the AKP’s former economy czar who has already quit the party, is expected to create a new party and join the opposition ranks by the end of the year. Ahmet Davutoglu — the former premier and foreign minister who, together with Erdogan, designed and implemented the failed policies that spawned the grave “Syria crisis” that Turkey is experiencing today, both domestically and in its foreign policy — is gearing up to get ahead of Babacan and announce his own party in November. These political dynamics have already triggered a spate of resignations from the AKP, and the formal establishment of the new parties could further accelerate the unraveling. Hence, the government will seek to capitalize on Operation Peace Spring to curb the centrifugal forces pressuring the AKP since its defeats in the local polls. The intensive employment of a nationalist narrative, in which the operation is depicted as a struggle of “national survival” against terrorism and quitting the AKP is equated to treason, would not be a surprise.

  83. JP Billen says:

    TTG – I’m hoping you’ll post another update soon considering the SDF deal with Assad.
    They released a statement announcing that an an agreement has been reached for protecting the country’s borders and preserve Syrian sovereignty.
    “The self-administration of northern and eastern Syria, through its military forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces formed out of all the components of the Syrian self-management areas, fought terrorism starting from Kobani in 2014 and then continued the battles of liberation against this terrorist group in northern and eastern Syria, as it managed to liberate Manbij west of the Euphrates, Tal Abyad, Tabqa until it reached the alleged capital of ISIS “al-Raqqa” and then to Deir ez-Zor and declared victory over this group after five years of fighting on March 23, 2019.
    This liberated geographical area is equivalent to one third of the total territories of ​​Syria. The SDF lost 11 thousand martyrs and 24 thousand wounded, including permanent disabilities during these battles.
    This was a high price to liberate the Syrians and all the components from the oppression and brutality of these terrorist organizations and to preserve the territorial integrity of Syria.
    Our political project in northern and eastern Syria did not call for secession, but we have been calling for dialogue and resolving the Syrian crisis peacefully. We did not attack any country, especially Turkey, though it persists to call us terrorists while it played an important role in supporting terrorism in Syria. Today, Turkey is invading the Syrian territory liberated by the SDF with the blood and sacrifices of its children.
    During the past five days, the most heinous crimes against unarmed civilians have been committed. The SDF has responded with dignity and courage resulting in the death and injury of its fighters, in order to save the Syrian integrity, however Turkey is continuing its assault. As a result, we had to deal with the Syrian government that has the duty of protecting the country’s borders and preserve Syrian sovereignty, so that the Syrian army can enter and deploy along the Syrian-Turkish border to support the SDF to repel this aggression and liberate the areas entered by the Turkish army and its hired mercenaries. This agreement offers an opportunity to liberate the rest of the Syrian territories and cities occupied by the Turkish army as Afrin and other Syrian cities and towns.
    Therefore, we call on all our people and all components in northern and eastern Syria, especially the border areas, that this deployment came through coordination and compatibility with the self-administration of the North and East Syria and the Syrian Democratic Forces.”

  84. Barbara Ann says:

    So it seems an invading horde combined with “you’re fired!” has finally got the Kurds to make the smart decision and reconcile with Damascus. Big map changes coming up very shortly by all accounts. By the time Congress gets its act together to try and reverse the withdrawal, the SAA & Russia will be protecting the Kurds – game over. The Borg must be losing their minds.

  85. Xenophon says:

    …..extended quotes to a journalist from an un-named, deployed SF soldier…. Reporter says “It is one of the hardest phone calls I have ever taken.” clearly implying that the soldier called her…….Is that not unusual?…….someone wants that quote to make the press….. and to form part of the dialogue of betrayal

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