Damascus Steel nears its conclusion. What’s next? – TTG


The fighting in the East Ghouta is quickly winding down. Much of the success is due to the SAA’s employment of overwhelming forces in the area, aggressive fire and maneuver of combined arms teams and a judicious use of air and artillery fire support. All this guided by a heavy use of UAVs. However, much of the success of this operation is due to the work of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria. Rather than having to fight for every street corner and apartment block, thousands of the jihadis were induced to being bussed to Idlib with only their small arms and no ammunition. Heavy weapons were handed over to the SAA. Thousands of Syrian civilians and prisoners held by the jihadists were freed. In my opinion, this was a far better outcome than the devastation that occurred in Raqqa and Mosul.

What’s next? I would think that the Daesh jihadis holding Yarmouk and Qadam would be the next focus after the last district of East Ghouta is secured. Longer term, it appears the SAA is setting its sights on the Dara’a region. Al Masdar News reports today that the SAA and Russians “have sent an official military delegation to the rebel-held areas of Dara’a to begin reconciliation talks”


“According to the military source, the delegation has offered terms of reconciliation to the rebels in Dara’a, which include the surrender of all heavy arms to the government. In addition to surrendering their heavy arms, the rebels will also have to agree to reopen roads in order to promote commerce and trade between all towns in the Dara’a Governorate.

In exchange for reconciliation, the rebels will be allowed to control the towns they are already present in, while also receiving aid from the government. The rebels will also be offered the opportunity to settle their cases with the Syrian government.

The delegation has warned the rebels in Dara’a that the failure of these reconciliation talks will result in a Syrian military operation.”


This is getting very close to the Israeli occupied Golan Heights. We can expect a dramatic rise in the anti-Damascus and anti-Iranian propaganda as well as a rise in Israeli military support to their jihadist allies in the region. That’s a given. The real question is how Trump and his new NSA and SecState will react. ’Tis a puzzlement.



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36 Responses to Damascus Steel nears its conclusion. What’s next? – TTG

  1. Bill Herschel says:

    Thanks very much for this analysis.
    What I am now very worried about is the possibility of our unilaterally attacking North Korea. Bolton wants to do that and believes that there is absolutely no justifiable reason not to do it. Trump sits down with Kim–without SK present–gets up and says, “We’re attacking.”
    What happens next is open to conjecture. But the least that will happen is that a lot of people in SK will be killed, Americans and South Koreans, and the U.S. will not be able to “win” the war. In other words, it will be, at the very, very best Afghanistan II with about 50,000 dead Americans and many more dead Koreans.
    But there’s a huge problem with that best case. Does North Korea have missiles pointed toward Japan? if it does, the extraordinary economic dislocation resulting from industry in the South being disrupted will be magnified a hundred-fold by what happens in Japan. Please recall that NK has no love for Japan.
    About the only thing that Trump can get out of all this is the suspension of civil rights in the U.S., the introduction of martial law, and the canceling of the next Presidential election, and can he even get that?
    Finally, though China and Russia may “sit on their hands”, they will sure as hell do nothing to promote an American military presence on their borders (recall that Russia has a land border with NK). Arms, material, etc will flow freely into NK.
    Of course, Bolton disagrees with all this. Bolton, Bush… maybe it would be best to bomb Yale and throw in Harvard to be on the safe side.

  2. janes says:

    thanks ttg.. good overview… i agree with your concerns in the last paragraph..

  3. b says:

    @TTG – there are quite heavy rumors about a new “rebel” attack in Daraa planned by the U.S. and the usual suspects. (There is also a build up of sorts in Tanf.)
    The Saudis just bought another 6,600 TOW. These are for their defense against the 1st and 2nd Yemeni armored corps which threaten to invade their country (not).
    When the Saudis bought their last batch of 13,000 TOWs the CIA distributed them to its “moderate” Takfiris in Syria.
    Washington does not like that it “lost” in Syria. It will try again and again.

  4. Anna says:

    It will.
    Meanwhile in the UK, an investigative journalist suggests the hypothesis about Skripal affair as related to the highest echelons of the UK government and judiciary and their involvement in money laundering and pedophilia: https://www.sgtreport.com/2018/03/did-elite-pedophiles-fake-nerve-gas-attack-in-salisbury/
    “The Conservative Party has received something close to £850,000 in donations from the Russian oligarchs.
    Just as the Russian bribery scandal is exposed, as if by magic, a Russian inteligence officer, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter are alleged to be poisoned by a mysterious substance… ”

  5. JohnsonR says:

    Bearing in mind the evident personal obsessions that many of the US military and regime seniors have that mandate war with Iran, if they can swing it, in the interests of Israel, one major question is how do these people think that a war with North Korea will impact their chances of getting the war they really want, with Iran.
    Does Bolton really believe that a war with North Korea can be a clean “targeted/massive strike followed by government surrender or collapse” that will then boost American enthusiasm for wars elsewhere? Do any of the military men around the regime believe that?
    War with North Korea seems to be at most a practical issue for most of these men, war with Iran more of an emotional and/or ideological goal.

  6. In 1961, China and the DPRK signed the Sino-North Korean Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty.
    It obliges both parties to offer immediate military and other assistance to the other in the case of an outside attack.
    This treaty has been prolonged twice, and is valid until 2021.
    Since the first signing, China has developed the capability to destroy any ship, plane or army that comes closer than 1000 km to her borders.
    An attack seems unlikely.

  7. jdledell says:

    TTG – From the perspective of my contacts in the IDF and IAF, with the supposed support of Israel’s political organization, they very much want to degrade Assad’s forces and the supporting Hezballah fighters.Israel is not afraid of the ISIS headchoppers since they don’t think they are capable of strategic military operations. However, Israel is VERY concerned about Hezballah’s capabilities especially with Iran’s continued support and would very much like to get rid of Assad as the facilitator of Iran’s support and not have to face a growing Hezballah force across their entire northern border with Lebanon and Syria.
    Laughably, I’ve even heard Miri Regev say that “Israel has been assured by Saudia Arabia that they will keep ISIS in check so Israel doesn’t have to worry about them”.

  8. catherine says:

    ”We can expect a dramatic rise in the anti-Damascus and anti-Iranian propaganda as well as a rise in Israeli military support to their jihadist allies in the region. That’s a given. The real question is how Trump and his new NSA and SecState will react. ’Tis a puzzlement.”
    The Isr hawks know how to play Trump. They tell Trump that all the people who caution him about US warring on Iran are really “Anti Trumpers” who don’t want him to be Great. It worked on Bush Jr.

  9. Dmcna says:

    The people of many towns protested for SAA as they approached, 100,000 were removed under ceasefire to safety and then peace was negotiated for what was left. Favourable comparisons are really by the by, though this was better than Aleppo. This was perfection.

  10. JW says:

    ‘What’s next’ or.. what will be the continuing theme(s) ? I would suggest that even punitive strikes against Iran, unless directed IAF-style at ‘nuclear’ facilities, will be unlikely even under Bolton-Tzu’s tutelage. However, both the US and Israel’s objectives, if actually separate, in neutralising Iranian influence can be achieved by cutting the developing Shia Salient between Tehran and the Mediterranean by closing the gap between Jordan and Rojava. Erdogan has stolen most of the (now freshly shaven) jihadists to use against the Kurds, but that doesn’t mean that subject to a US=Turk deal, green busloads of them could not later appear at the Rojava southern corner and head south west, razors humming, along the Syria-Iraq border.
    Neither Assad nor Putin would disagree; Assad does not want former-Syria used as a Iranian staging area and space for a IDF-IRGC war, and Putin doesn’t want Iranian competition for Assad cuddle-time or wharf space.

  11. JamesT says:

    jdledell –
    It appears to me that Israel (with its allies) intentionally launched an operation in Syria to overthrow Assad and install a Saudi controlled or Saudi allied salafist dictatorship. So what I am wondering is – does anybody in the Israeli establishment think “wow, we really messed up (ie overreached) this time”?
    My understanding is that before the war Assad was aiding Hezbollah to some degree, but now Assad has every reason to take the gloves off and jump into an alliance with Iran and Hezbollah with both feet. I spent a few weeks in Syria and I found the Syrians to “really have their act together” (by Arab standards, frankly) … and to be very, very tough. I would think that the Syrians are in nothing close to a concilliatory state of mind. The Syrians and the Assad leadership are also smart enough to retaliate against Israel in a calm, methodical, long term way – for example by helping Iran build Long Range Precision Strike capabilities in Syria and Lebanon.

  12. Bill Herschel says:

    Devil’s advocate: We can’t let NK have nuclear weapons because that is a precedent for Iran having nuclear weapons, and, what is more, NK will ship nukes to Iran.
    The problem with that is whether the American voter will participate in the panic this kind of thinking produces in the diseased minds of Bolton, Netanyahu, etc.
    The treaties mentioned by Godfree(sp?) below make my best case above impossible. China would do anything at all to avoid a shooting war on the Korean peninsula, but they have their limits. So it is not even clear than anything resembling a “victory” for the U.S. could follow an attack of choice.
    I wonder if Bolton or Netanyahu’s minds actually are sufficiently diseased to want a nuclear war? It’s an interesting question.
    My dollar is on Trump teaming up with Lavrov and Putin to discover a “peaceful solution” to NK. Eliminate the impossible… Trump emerges with a wreath of laurel on his head soon to be doubled with a “peaceful solution” to Iranian influence, once again teaming up with Lavrov and Putin. He gets reelected and everybody lives happily ever after. Well, not everybody, but most people on earth.

  13. Iran has no interest in nuclear weapons and wouldn’t develop them regardless of what happens to North Korea. Iran knows they have no “use case” and have said so repeatedly.
    And North Korea won’t be sending them any because nuclear powers don’t share their nukes unless they have far more than they need – and North Korea won’t have that until they at least match China’s arsenal.

  14. aleksandar says:

    Iran has been very clear about nuclear weapons.
    You don’t need nuclear weapons when you can:
    – close strait of Ormuz
    – destroy all desanilization plant in all ME
    – destroy all electric power plant also
    – create the worst economic crisis than ever.
    Try to imagine SA,UAE,Oman, Kuwait without electricity and clean water.

  15. Bill Herschel says:

    I am not the Devil. What happens on the Korean peninsula should be left to the Koreans and their bordering neighbors China and Russia. The 25,000 American troops in Korea should be removed immediately. if a tripwire is needed it can be fulfilled with United Nations troops stationed on the border, perhaps 500.
    Why hasn’t NK invaded the South already? The same reason they won’t in the future. Recall that China is a signatory to the armistice. The world has moved on.

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    As well as the oil installation and infrastructures across multiple countries.

  17. J says:

    I would love to see the expression on CENTCOM’s faces when one mentions all the Russian EW stuff that has been moved into Syria, since D.C. is playing paddy-cake with the Liver eaters. Some of that EW ‘stuff’ can really ruin CENTCOM’s day.

  18. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg says:

    I’d like to see Yale levelled by a fleet of Zeppelins. The Skull and Bones “Temple” building first. Strike a blow at their Satanic Majeties. These anglo-american aristocrats have had things all their own way since the days of William Cecil. Trump voters had hoped to make them eat a little humnle pie in Foundation land, but they’re back on top as usual, it seems.

  19. Fred says:

    Who and why?

  20. J says:

    True, but I would love to see their expressions especially in light of the Russians laying down the gauntlet and drawing a line in the sand.
    Many of our Command and Control systems could really be screwed with, and throw CENTCOM’s AOB’s out of whack.
    How many ‘losses’ on our side has CENTCOM factored into their equations.
    Especially since the Russian AF head Colonel Gen. Сергей Суровикин has turned the tide in Syria, and recent comments (tossing the gauntlet and drawing a line in the sand) by Начальник Генерального штаба – Вале́рий Гера́симов.
    Гера́симов’s dead serious in his comments, Гера́симов as the expression goes ‘ain’t playin games’. I hope that CENTCOM understands.

  21. mikee says:

    From Wikipedia:
    “Israeli nuclear weapons: Current estimates put the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal at between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, and the country is believed to possess the ability to deliver them in a variety of methods including: aircraft; submarine-launched cruise missiles; and the Jericho series of intermediate to intercontinental range ballistic missiles.”
    In my opinion it is naive’ to believe that the Iranians would not seek to counter this threat.

  22. Ante says:

    That’s the question. Netanyahu has been able to quash opposition, and probably relishes a phony war to bolster his credibility as he’s indicated on various corruption charges.
    What’s the gap between Israeli public opinion, opposition to hawkish policy, and capability to change the course of the Likud government?

  23. J says:

    Here’s a picture of Gen. Dumford, Turk General, and the Russian General (who recently drew the line in the sand) discussing Syria in March of last year.

  24. Iran can not counter the Israeli nuclear threat and has said so. Israel has more nukes than Iran could ever make before being attacked by both Israel and the US. Since the US has some 5-6,000 nukes and will support Israel, Iran is also incapable of deterring the US.
    Israel very likely has a second strike capability via the submarine cruise missiles, and Iran will never have that capability as well before being attacked.
    Iran is under threat for NOT having a nuclear weapons program. They know full well what would happen if they actually developed a nuke.
    They rely on the probability that neither Israel nor the US would unilaterally conduct a nuclear first strike on Iran due to the geopolitical fallout from the rest of the world. Iran believes it could defeat both countries in a conventional war, however damaging that might become. They’re almost certainly correct.
    Plus there is the fact that the Iranian leadership has made it clear that they believe weapons of mass destruction are forbidden under Islam. This is not a ploy – it was stated under Khomeini and restated under Khamenei. Khomeini took this stance when Iran was under threat by Saddam’s chemical weapons and he refused to do the same.
    There may be hardliners in Iran who disagree and would like to develop nukes but it isn’t going to happen.

  25. jdledell says:

    JamesT – I have not heard any Israeli in either the political or military sectors admit any mistakes about their Syrian activities. Israelis RARELY ever admit mistakes and then only when there are a significant number of Jewish deaths like they had in Lebanon.
    As for Assad, I have heard he would like Hezballah to stay in Syria and continue to help build the kind of reserve/supplemental military force they represent in Lebanon. The Druze are good sources of information since they seem to have their ear to the ground in Syria, Israel and Lebanon. As far as I know, Syria has no long term offensive military objectives. While they would like to have the Golan back they realize that it would be almost impossible to take against the IDF and even more unlikely to be able to hold it.

  26. Croesus says:

    Federal Court for Southern New York unsealed indictments of 9 Iranians and an Iranian corporation, “working for IRGC, therefore working for Iran’s government” who are accused of having hacked 136 US universities and sundry corporations as well as US government institutions. They stole XX terabytes of intellectual property, research, etc., that had cost the hacked institutions $3.4 billion to create.
    The 9 +1 will not be able to leave Iran for fear of being detained in a destination nation and extradited to USA. Their finances and ability to transact will be limited by US Treasury Dept. “guerrillas in grey suits” anti-terror finance section.
    In announcing the indictment, either Rosenstein or his FBI counterpart said the scheme was exposed by FBI’s “extremely smart” crypto analysts — the best in the world.”
    And yet the Iranians made of with a million?? or a billion? pages of data.

  27. Fred says:

    They have countered that threat; just not in the way everyone keeps saying they are going to counter that threat.

  28. jdledell says:

    Ante – I’ll try to answer your question. There is NO appetite in Israel among the politicians, military or civilians for a new war adventure. The economy is crusing along nicely, people have work and money and are happy with the way things are right now. In fact the latest polls suggest if elections were to be held now, Likud would gain seats in the Knesset. The election of Trump makes most Israelis happy because it almost eliminates the pressure do do something with respect to the two state solution and/or Palestinians.

  29. JamesT says:

    jdledell – Thank you for your response.
    I think that the importance of Iran’s precision project is rightly of concern to the IDF leadership (I often observe Debka knashing their teeth on the subject). Precision strikes against electricity generating plants, potable water supplies, and sewage treatment plants would quickly make life considerably less comfortage for Israeli’s used to first world infrastructure and comfort.

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    That number was contradicted by Bruce Riedel, around 10 is what he stated.

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    They vote for Netanyahu for his economic performance. Labor has been a failure, politically and economically.

  32. mikee says:

    #33: Babak: In 2011 he wrote, at Brookings: “Estimates of the size of the Israeli arsenal by international think tanks generally concur that Israel has about 100 nuclear weapons, possibly 200.”

  33. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I trust Riedel’s numbers.
    UK has about 120, I cannot belive Israel, without the financial and technical wherewithal of UK could have as many.

  34. Sid Finster says:

    As long as the Saudis sit safely in Riyadh and the neocons in Washington face no consequences, they will continue to make war on Syria.

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