Deir Al-Zor thread – 16 January 2016


OK.  "Now's the time and now's the hour."  Somebody better get off their dead asses and save these people.  pl

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103 Responses to Deir Al-Zor thread – 16 January 2016

  1. Jack says:

    It seems only the Russians have the capability and the motivation to save these people. Will they act?
    I’m sure Brennan, Carter, et al are quite pleased with the developments on the ground. Taking out the SAA in their high ground “accidentally” has served its purpose.

  2. Ken Macaulay says:

    I don’t know the strategic situation well enough to really understand the layout of the territory, but I would be curious to know if is the kind of situation the Russians & Syrians can turn into their advantage…
    How exposed are ISIL in their new positions to air attacks?
    Is there any way for the R6 forces to create a pocket & trap the attackers to decimate at their leisure?
    Can the Russians turn this into a ‘shooting fish in a barrel’ situation – or is there too much cover in the area/civilians still in the area.
    Is there an airbase near enough that they can utilise SU-25’s & MI-28’s from?
    The Russians seem to be withdrawing SU-24’s & replacing them with SU-25’s:
    The Syrians seem confident & have begun the counterattack – according to Al-Masdar:

  3. Haralambos says:

    I wonder how paralyzed our US administration is at the moment with the transition in the works for Friday as I watch this from Greece. The current discussions/negotiations over the unification of Cyprus are at a delicate point, perhaps a deadlock. I recall following the Turkish invasion after the Greek attempt to move into Cyprus in Aug. 1974 as Nixon was on his way out. I followed that as best I could from the US. My take was that the US had no diplomatic clout to try to defuse that due to our domestic crisis at the time, although earlier flashpoints had been defused in the 50s and 60s. The Trump transition is not really comparable, but I wonder what impact that is having in attempts to integrate a response with Russia at the moment.

  4. SouthFront is reporting that Russia is bringing in more of their modernized SU-25 SM3 to replace some of the older models they pulled out earlier. These day-night capability planes are just what they need for CAS instead of cruise missiles and SU-24s. They’ll have to use the T4 airfield to support Deir az-Zor. They best bring in all they can to keep up a monsoon of rocket fire on those jihadis.

  5. mike says:

    Mehr news agency out of Tehran does not seem to be worried. Or are they just putting the best face on the situation?

  6. mike says:

    CJTF-OIR coalition aircraft engaged a Daesh unit and took out a Daesh checkpoint near Deir ez Zor yesterday. Had to be some heavy deconfliction going on as I understand the Russians conducted several airstrikes there yesterday also.

  7. Al Masdar News reports intensive airstrikes by Russian and Syrian aircraft yesterday and today with 85 strikes yesterday. A counterattack striking north from the airport began yesterday with some progress already. General Zahreddine was quoted as saying the morale was high in spite of recent setbacks. The military hospital reported 25 dead and 45 wounded rather than the exaggerated figures claimed by the jihadis. Al Masdar also has a short video.

  8. Joe100 says:

    Apparently the initial assault involved some very large vehicle suicide bombs as were key to breaking then SAA defense in Palmyra. It seems that defenders in these situations lack a good weapon that can take these VIED’s out before they reach the lines. I wonder if 106 recoilless rifles – using both HEAT and spalling rounds – might be an answer? These are inexpensive, probably easy to deploy and could have more stopping power than what has been available. They also could use flechette rounds against a large assault.
    Even better might be something like the old USMC “Ontos” with six 106’s that could fire rapidly (think even all six at once) at a single target.

  9. Eliot says:

    “Mehr news agency out of Tehran does not seem to be worried. Or are they just putting the best face on the situation?”
    Are they reporting from Tehran, or Deir Al-Zor?
    – Eliot

  10. mike says:

    Spam-in-a-Can is what the ONTO crew’s used to call themselves. Good riddance I say.
    Kurds early on were using 106’s. They have found the French/German MILAN light antitank guided missile much better at taking out VBIED suiciders.

  11. mike says:

    I don’t know. But SAA seems optimistic also.

  12. Matthew says:

    Eliot: That’s a good point. We know that all good reporting about Syria is done by Western journalists based in Beirut. (Sarcasm).

  13. mike says:

    ????Not following your sarcasm – Are you suggesting that Tehran bases their news reports on what western journos say???
    Or is there something deeper in your comment that I am missing?

  14. Ghostship says:

    I can’t help but wonder if this is a Hail Mary effort by ISIS to remove the SAA from Deir Ez-zor before Friday. While I really doubt that any part of the US miltary had anything to do with this, it wouldn’t surprise me if ISIS’ paymasters in Qatar and Saudi Arabia pushed for this with the preliminary strike against Palmyra and then the T4 airbase to make life difficult for the RuAF and SSAF, and the cutting off of Damascus’ water and gas supplies by Al Nusrah and ISIS respectively to distract attention, with the intention of disrupting next week’s peace talks in Astana which a number of armed groups have agreed to attend without any preconditions, a real nightmare for Doha and Riyadh.

  15. kooshy says:

    Tasnim News is reporting (from syrian military sources) SAA’ Republican Guards as well as Hezbollah forces have been deployed to reinforce DZ with heavy air support by Syrian and Russian air support, apparently most of fighting is around airport. Report is in persian with some detail of fighting in the DZ theater.

  16. b says:

    Bad situation. Since the U.S. bombed the SAA off the Tharda hills in September, ISIS has held that important position. It has thereby fire control over the Deir Ezzor airport. No re-supplies/reinforcement are possible.
    The electricity supply is down since the U.S. bombed the last working power station in the area in early January.
    Russia probably has a para brigade that could jump onto the hills, clean them and then reinforce the SAA on the ground. High losses would be guaranteed in such an operation. Decent anti-air support would also be required as the U.S. military can not be trusted at all (see September “mistake” attack). This would be a very high risk, all-in move by the Russian government and is unlikely to happen.
    A ground campaign by the SAA would need to pass through some 150 km of ISIS held desert to reach Deir Ezzor. The supply lines would be very vulnerable to ISIS or U.S. interdiction. The forces needed for such a ride are currently bound in the west to defend against constant “moderate rebel”, al-Qaeda and ISIS attacks.
    Both plans would still not solve the resupply problem for the 100,000+ civilians and the soldiers until the airport is fully repaired and safe.
    The situation is pretty much hopeless. It is just a question of time until supplies run out and the fight is lost.
    ISIS will then inevitably slaughter any SAA soldier it will find alive and any civilian that cooperated with them.
    A chance might be a phone-call away after Trump is inaugurated. A strict order by the President to the Pentagon to support the Syrian/Russian fight for Deir Ezzor by all means with a priority on shutting down the ongoing ISIS reinforcements coming from Iraq to Deir Ezzor. (Coordination over and in Deir Ezzor would have to stay in Russian/Syrian hands.)
    Some hard guarantee by Trump that the U.S. will stop all attempts to establish its “Salafist principality” or a Kurdish proxy entity in east-Syria or west-Iraq could probably induce the Russians to provide additional ground elements to Deir Ezzor. But could Trump be trusted? And would he have control over the Pentagon and especially the rogue Central Command?

  17. kooshy says:

    Most like chips for bargaining at Astaneh negotiations later this month or next.
    New that i just read, Zarif Iranian FM just announced we have not invited US and don’t want US at negotiation table in Astaneh. Other news is that US will be an observer at Astaneh.

  18. Ghostship says:

    I think he’s referring to the quality of western journalism about Syria because most of the western journalists report from Istanbul and Beirut and rely on social media and “activist journalists” or terrorist propagandists as they should more correctly be called for their information. Most of the real independent journalists in rebel-held areas have been scared off and all that are left are rebel supporters.

  19. Ghostship says:

    Just imagine the howls of indignation and cries of treason from the neo-cons and interventionist liberals such as Samantha Powers if Trump did that on day one.

  20. zak says:

    These “guided missiles” are pretty well armored, not easy to take them out while moving at high speed. A paintball type of gun might be more effective than an assault rifle.
    Though not sure why the defenders cannot put ditches, sand walls and mine fields around their strong points.

  21. turcopolier says:

    Yes, unless some strong reinforcement is put into the place by air it looks like capture by IS is inevitable. When that happens I predict a notable silence in the Western media over the bloodbath that will occur. pl

  22. mike says:

    Based on T-Rex’s testimony I do not believe a Trump administration will abandon the PYG. I hope so anyway.
    As for your US backed salafist principality, that is patently Assad agitprop.
    PS – American and coalition air are already bombing Daesh in and arounf Deir Ez Zor and have been for months. No need for Trump to change anything there.

  23. mike says:

    I get that. But what does that have to do with reporting out of Tehran????

  24. Peter AU says:

    With what has happened, it is doubtful the central command is rogue.
    The deal Kerry signed up to with Lavrov was for the purpose of causing the Russian air defences to hesitate for the crucial period of time required for the attack on DE.
    All working in lockstep. Obama, Kerry, Carter, Pentagon.

  25. mike says:

    Colonel –
    The Syrians, Russians and Iranians do not share the view that capture of Feir ez Zor by Daesh is inevitable. They seem fairly optimistic.

  26. turcopolier says:

    You have distorted what I wrote. I said that the place will fall UNLESS strongly reinforced by air. Since the airfield is under direct observed fire from the high ground that we bombed the SAA off of, that will be expensive but possible. pl

  27. b,
    I saw something earlier this morning about Syrian and Hezbollah special forces (really just damned good light infantry) along with some Russians (JTAC equivalents?) being brought into the Deir Ezzor fight. Have no idea where they would have been inserted. Hopefully this isn’t just fake news. The SAA counterattack aims to first take back the cemetery north of the airport so helicopters can come in. The airport at Al-Qamishli in NE Syria seems to be where a lot of the Russian air support is staging for attacks on Deir Ezzor. That’s a convenient place to Russia to stage whatever kind of support they want to bring into the fight.

  28. mike says:

    Colonel –
    I habe no intention of distorting your words. I simply observed that R+6 is optimistic about DEZ.
    My understanding is that Daesh has stopped their attacks because of strong resistance. That resistance is ground-based as well as from Russian AND coalition airstrikes.

  29. turcopolier says:

    When you have observed direct fire on an airfield that you need you are in trouble. pl

  30. b says:

    “patently Assad agitprop” from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency?
    You may want to discuss that with Pat …
    That aim is still consistent with the U.S. military action in the area.

    PS – American and coalition air are already bombing Daesh in and arounf Deir Ez Zor and have been for months. No need for Trump to change anything there.
    The have not and where they have it was pin-pricking. “A ISIS tactical unit and ISIS checkpoint” says Centcom. Translation: “Two dudes of military age smoking a joint at the side of some dirt road.”
    The only systematic, enduring U.S. attack in the area in and around Deir Ezzor was on the SAA on September 16 2016.

  31. Matthew says:

    mike: As someone who reads PressTV, I find the Iranians are just as likely as their Western counterparts to publish unreliable news reports–from afar.

  32. b says:

    Yes, there will be complete silence and no/few pictures published.
    Daily Telegraph was already lying today: “The US-led coalition, as well as the Russians, have been bombing the jihadists in Deir Ezzor for the last 18 months but have been unable to dislodge them.”
    That is of course total nonsense. There were no U.S. attacks on/near Deir Ezzor except for the one on the SAA.

  33. mike says:

    I concur. I believe the DEZ airfield lost a coupe of warplanes to that Daesh irect fire.
    However, I believe along with the Russians and Iranians that Daesh there has shot their wad. Time will tell.

  34. b says:

    Personal experience I assume …

  35. turcopolier says:

    Yes, and damned annoying until you push them back far enough. Historically the French experience at DBP is an example. As I recall the Germans at Meleme airfield on Crete tried to land on the airfield when the NZ held one side of it. A disaster for the 7th Airborne Division and the issue hung in the balance for a while until Student decided to airland a Mountain Division on the airfield in spite of casualties. pl

  36. turcopolier says:

    Well, we have discussed this DIA report before. It continues to appear to me to be a report received from a foreign liaison service and re-published by DIA. If this were an original DIA document commenting on US policy it would have been more highly classified than Secret/Noforn. This level of classification makes it look to me to be something received by a Defense Attaché office in an embassy somewhere and classified and transmitted to a standard address list. A DAO would not normally classify things higher than Secret/Noforn. original source? Probably Israel or India because of the reference to “the West.” pl

  37. Eliot says:

    “That’s a good point. We know that all good reporting about Syria is done by Western journalists based in Beirut. (Sarcasm).” – Matthew
    “????Not following your sarcasm – Are you suggesting that Tehran bases their news reports on what western journos say???
    Or is there something deeper in your comment that I am missing?” – Mike
    In general, I like to establish that the reporter is close to the event and in position to know what they say.
    As Matthew points out, many Western reporters aren’t actually on the ground – and all they’re doing is passing off opposition propaganda that they’re in no position to verify.
    – Eliot

  38. b,
    I concur with Colonel Lang on this. The format and style of this report reflects a field IIR. It is very common for DAOs to send in reports from foreign liaison services in this manner.

  39. Willybilly says:

    That has been the master plan all along as a fall back minimalist position, and it’s still the plan today…

  40. Frank says:

    But the US military absolutely did have something to do with it – whether it was accidental or not. It looks like ISIS used the positions in Tardeh mountains to launch the attack on Deir Ezzor, the same area struck by a US airstrike then taken by ISIS after.

  41. Frank says:

    I believe Iran and Russia are still able to airdrop supplies into Deir Ezzor are they not? I agree with your assessment otherwise, I’m just under the impression that they have been resupplying this way for quite some time.
    I think the SAA have more than a big enough area under their control west of the city which should allow enough room for airdrops. Of course I’m not an expert on these things – perhaps there are reasons why they can’t do this anymore?

  42. Will.2718 says:

    It seems like I drop in to to about four times a year to get a different take on things. The site is said to be a mouthpiece for Israeli intelligence/former intelligence, so I take everything with a grain of salt. This tidbit appears to be interesting. Forces were w/drawn from DeirEzZor for Palmyra. Joint SAA, RJAF, US operation on Palmyra in works. Maybe, that’s the path forward to the besieged city of DeirEzZor?

  43. turcopolier says:

    You have to drop low so that the bundles end up within the area of friendly control. You can do low air drops in covered air space but it will cost you. pl

  44. robt willmann says:

    Off topic again, but today president Obama issued a pardon for Marine Corps General James “Hoss” Cartwright. I thought something was up the other day when his sentencing hearing was reset from today (17 January) to 31 January in a federal district court in Washington D.C. Apparently today Obama issued 209 commutations (which do not cancel the conviction), and 64 pardons (which do)–
    From news reports, Obama also commuted the sentence of Army PFC Bradley Manning, regarding his leaking of information about activity in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    I have not yet found the entire list of 273 pardons and commutations from today, but from reports so far, Obama did nothing for the patriot and NSA whistleblower, Thomas Drake. If Obama indeed did nothing for Drake, then the reason he pardoned Gen. Cartwright was most likely to prevent Donald Trump from doing so. Gen. Cartwright was described as Obama’s favorite general, but Obama could easily have prevented his prosecution. After all, not one significant executive of any major bank or Wall Street financial firm was charged during Obama’s eight years with any of the massive financial crime that had occurred and did occur.

  45. mike says:

    Despite Assad’s agitprop to the contrary, the CJTF-OIR coalition has been striking Daesh targets near DEZ for many months. At least 15 months that I know of, perhaps the 18 that Telegraph article cites.
    B is correct if he meant that we never gave support to the Syrian troops at DEZ, as that was never a coalition goal. Admittedly most of those attacks since September have not been close in to the regime enclave. Probably a restriction was put in after the blue-on-gray incident at Jabal Thardeh. The majority of airstrikes since then have been primarily on Daesh-held oilfields, transport, and DIY backyard refineries.
    As for Daesh still holding Jabal Thardeh since that 17 September incident, that is not quite true. One day later, after heavy ground fighting and Russian/Syrian air-strikes, the SAA recaptured all of the positions they had lost there.
    Unfortunately they withdrew the next day and the peaks were re-occupied by Daesh. But then in early October the SAA and pro-government militia retook one of the positions there that they had lost and were advancing on the other. So what happened? Did they withdraw again? They know Jabal Thardeh is critical for the defense of the airfield.

  46. mike says:

    Will –
    Interesting Debka story you linked to. If true (I am not convinced, but time will tell) it could explain what happened at DEZ.
    I was also interested in one of the related stories: The article “Russian Elite Spetsnaz Trounced in Face-off with ISIS”. But it seems that is one of their premium articles that must be purchased. So I passed. Any thoughts?

  47. mike says:

    Frank –
    I do not know Russian capabilities.
    The US Air Mobility Command claims that GPS technology allows them to guide their payloads “within 10 or 15 meters of the mark.” But that was not true two years ago during the 2014 battle for Kobane, when some drops missed their intended marks and found their way into the hands of Daesh fighters.

  48. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    My SWMBO, who watches the NBC evening news so I don’t have to (not that I would even if she didn’t), said that Bradley/Chelsea Manning’s sentence was commuted to three years. IIRC that is close to the amount of time he has already been jailed. She did not hear whether or not he has been released.

  49. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    Also, Marcy Wheeler has some curious observations on why Julian Assange may have offered to turn himself in to US authorities if Manning received clemency. When he used the word “clemency” did he mean pardon? Or would commutation of the sentence pass muster?

  50. FkDahl says:

    I think the JPADS can be dropped from safe altitude. For your amusement I share this Guardian article on the suggestion to use these to assist the starving 250 000 civilians and moderates in Aleppo. The journalist should have had a talk with a quartermaster as to number of containers vs need.
    I interpret the article as a push for getting supplies to Western linked advisers inside the kettle.

  51. FkDahl says:

    Wow so the US have employed about 1% of their awesome air to ground capability? I know Obama is a muslim and all that, but I remain convinced that the USAF+Navy could dish out a lot more hurt if they wanted to. Flying back to base with full bomb racks seems to happen most of the time.

  52. mike says:

    James –
    I was never a fan of the Cheney-Bush war on Iraq. I never believed their bullshit. We should not have gone in. It cost us billions in treasure and hundreds of gallons of blood.
    As far as DEZ, believe what you want. There is no way I will ever believe that a deliberate attack could be kept quiet. Pilots from four different countries, plus drone operators and intel analysts during the blue-on-gray incident!!!
    Or are you doubting the rest of the story, the part where the coalition has been attacking near DEZ for well over a year? That would require even more people to be kept quiet, perhaps thousands.
    Or are you doubting the part where someone above claimed the SAA never recaptured their positions on Jabal Thardeh? The Syrian regime itself is the source that claimed they retook that area twice. It is not a US claim or a coalition claim.
    Please identify for me a Darth Cheney like person who is orchestrating this supposed cover-up.

  53. turcopolier says:

    I recognize that JPADS exists but it would not be available for air drops at DEZ and I doubt that this works well in the field. I would have to see statistics on large scale use under other than test conditions. pl

  54. FKDahl and pl,
    In the late 80s we used something similar to JPADS, but much simpler. The steerable chute either homed in on a beacon on the ground or the operator on the ground could steer the chute himself like a radio controlled model airplane. It worked well. I came within a meter of being caught under a big assed bundle. It would have been like the wicked witch of the east. I bet the Russians have something like this far cheaper than JPADS.

  55. turcopolier says:

    OK. When you see Russian JPADS clones used at Deir al-Zor let me know. pl

  56. Will.2718 says:

    i ain’t paying debka, haaretz, leb daily star, or any of those rags. if i were to have spare change, i’d donate it to the Col. haha

  57. Chris Chuba says:

    Mike, yes, the U.S. is striking ISIS. However, the U.S. is supporting Al Qaeda aligned rebels in Syria and downplaying the fact that the CIA vetted rebels are intermixed with Al Qaeda and other Jihadist groups. While you can find glitzy presentations by the Pentagon on the number of airstrikes against ISIS, try finding the equivalent for airstrikes against Al Qaeda in Syria.
    Al Qaeda loves our CIA supported rebels because they provide the window dressing needed to get some fancy weapons from the U.S. to fight Assad. Our rebels love Al Qaeda because they are good fighters and drive truck bombs into Assad’s barricades. Prior to Russian intervention they were intermixed, not fighting each other, and both fighting Assad and winning. After Russian intervention, some of the non-Al Qaeda groups started splitting off, they had a come to Jesus moment because Assad’s pardons suddenly started looking good after a few whippings.
    It is splitting hairs to say, we only support CIA vetted groups not terrorist when those vetted groups fight along side terrorists. It is the same as giving material support to terrorists.
    I have boatloads of documentation that I can share. Kerry, John Kirby, Mike Weiss the Neocon, ambassador Robert Ford, the ISW, recordings from opposition reps, and that DIA report all admit to this relationship between the Al Qaeda, Jihadist, and so-called moderate rebels.
    Our doing this insane act, drains resources and hinders Assad’s ability to fight ISIS.

  58. turcopolier says:

    WFP has halted airdrop operations at DEZ. Does anyone care to expound on their operation? Where are they flying from? What kind of equipment are they using? etc. pl

  59. mike says:

    Chris Chuba –
    Yes, there was CIA support for what they thought were moderate groups. But, just like the Bay of Pigs, they screwed the pooch big time. They sent those guys in half-arse trained with plenty of goodies that the jihadis took away from them, either with force or because the vetting was not done right.
    But if you say that we, the USA is directly supporting al Quaeda, then you are drinking Assad’s kool aid. There is zero American support of al Quaeda. We have bombed al Quaeda in Syria and other groups that support them. Not as much as we would like to. Mainly because they are in the west of Syria, and in urban settings.
    If you believe your so-called documentation, send it to the UN or to the ICC in the Hague. Or you can send it to me in paper copy as I am running out of tinder for my wood stove.

  60. Ghostship says:

    The World Food Programme have been dropping food into Deir Ez-zor since April 2016 from a high altitude. So far, they’ve made a 177 drops totalling 3,300 metric tons of food, medicine and water purification tablets. The food supplements what can be grown locally. Because of the increased violence, the flights have just been suspended.
    In this video, they even have a RuAF escort

  61. mike says:

    ex-PFC Chuck –
    That is the worst decision Obama has ever made. I can’t believe he is going to let that scumbag go, Manning should have been shot IMHO. I wonder if he consulted with the Chiefs of Staff on that or the Secretary of the Army? I see there is some speculation that he is trying to lure Assange back to the States. But I think that is horsepucky because if Assange ever did come here Trump would probably award him a medal of freedom.
    But in any case regarding Manning, won’t it be closer to seven years instead of three? Manning was in pre-court-martial detention since July 2010. And he is supposed to be released in May 2017. If Trump overrules that and keeps Manning in Leavenworth, I will take back every nasty thing I ever said about him, or almost everything.
    NBC, what’s wrong with them, wasn’t that Trump’s network when he had that show ‘Apprentice-something-or-other’? Plus during the election campaign they gave him about a half a billion dollars worth of free publicity.
    PS – Nice handle. I was a Pfc myself for awhile before I turned stupid and accepted promotion.

  62. mike says:

    FkDahl –
    Make that the US & UK & France & Australia & Canada & the Netherlands & Jordan & Denmark.
    In any case there are not too many airfields available there to station the 100% of air capability that you seem to want.
    If it is true what you say about flying back to base with full bomb racks, it seems to me that is a lot better than dropping them randomly if you do not have a verified target. Perhaps that is what happened last 17 September at Jabal Thardeh, maybe a few pilots did not want to go back to base without drooping them on something. So they mis-identified a target???

  63. mike says:

    Colonel –
    Reportedly WFP flies out of either Amman or Damascus, or at least that was the initial plan. They have one Ilyushin IL-76 transport rigged for high-altitude air drops. Not sure what drop system they use, I assume it is similar to JPADS.
    Funding in 2016 was $36.8M, all donated by western countries: $15.7M by the US, $11.2M by Germany, and smaller amounts by the UK, the Netherlands, Canada, and Italy.

  64. FkDahl says:

    Provoked an image of Wiley E Coyote steering a container onto himself …

  65. b says:

    The World Food Program made food drops for the civilians in the city (through a Russian contractor). That totally stopped last week. The SAA has NO control of any significant part west of the city. The airport is east and the more open space between airport and city is now in ISIS hands.
    The city is well build up. Difficult to find large enough spots to do drops from greater height (as is necessary because of ISIS air defenses.)

  66. b says:

    Flynn referred to that report in several interviews. I would have to go back through his exact wording but my impressions were that this was an analytical product of the DIA itself. Anyway – he backed that analysis.
    As for using “the west” in the report. That is now standard verbiage in all big western newspapers including in the U.S. – in no way restricted to foreigners.

  67. Willybilly says:

    Debka is trash, they invent stories on the go, their aim is simply eyeballs…. it’s two old jerks In Jerusalem trying to make money. All their stories are concocted junk.

  68. Paveway IV says:

    UN contracts out Syrian airdrops to a small Russian national carrier Abakan-Avia.
    Besides a few passenger 757s, Abakan operates two Il-76TDs contracted and painted as World Food Program transports.
    One of those Il-76s flies out of Amman, Jordan for the UN and is dedicated to air drops for Deir Ezzor. (The other is for South Soudan aid)
    An Il-76TD is roughly equivalent in cargo volume to an unstretched C-141 Starlifter, but has far less powerful engines. Soviets used these extensively for cargo transport to Afghanistan back in the day. Abakan had a NATO contract for Afghanistan at one time – not sure now.
    Airdropped cargo loads are typically 20 – 26 one metric tonne bundles arranged side-by-side in the cargo bay, 10 – 13 deep on a 1m x 1m wooden pallet. Each unit with a single round cargo chute. U.S. military 1t cargo airdrops from C-141As used nearly identical configuration. Cargo string on ground maybe 2km from first bundle to last if the full load is dropped at once. For reference, airstrip at Dier Ezzor is 3km long.
    World Food Program says they drop from 5000m to Deir Ezzor, so well out of MANPAD range. 177 drops since last April.
    They mention losing a few bundles in the video – it’s not unusual to have a chute malfunction rate of 1 of 50. They ‘lost’ four, but don’t explain if they just drifted away or malfunctioned.
    Abakan is not without controversy – has a history of bribing UN for business.

  69. Pundita says:

    Four reports, 2 of them about US coalition of bridge bombings in Deir ez-Zor — 13 bridges at last count; bombings started shortly after the bombing of Syrian troops on Sept 17.
    1. From FARS Syrian War sitrep during past 24 hours (posted 18 Jan 11:46am local time]:
    Deir Ezzur
    A military source disclosed that hundreds of Syrian Army soldiers and fighters of the Lebanese Hezbollah Movement have been dispatched to Deir Ezzur on Tuesday to reinvigorate government forces and confront advancing ISIL terrorists.
    The source said that while the Syrian and Russian fighter jets have intensified their anti-ISIL combat flights in Deir Ezzur, hundreds of army soldiers and Hezbollah combatants have arrived in the region to take part in an imminent operation to take back the lands lost to the ISIL in the last 24 hours.
    The source rejected reports about collapse of the Deir Ezzur airbase, and said, “The ISIL has suffered heavy casualties but due to the huge number of its forces, they are trying hard to approach the airbase.”
    Local sources said yesterday that a large number of ISIL’s injured members were transferred to terrorist-held Raqqa city.
    Another senior Syrian military official also in remarks earlier on Tuesday rejected media claims that Deir Ezzur airbase is on the verge of collapse due to ISIL’s repeated offensives, and said the army forces and their allies have resisted against the terrorists for over two years and will continue their counterattacks in future.
    “Despite ISIL’s penetration in 22 positions in Southern Deir Ezzur, the army operations to drive them out have prevented them from establishing their military presence,” the official told FNA on Tuesday.
    He underlined that the security ring of the Syrian army around Deir Ezzur airbase is highly strong, and said that they have been resisting against the ISIL for over two and a half years and didn’t allow its collapse and “the collapse of the airbase now will be impossible”.
    The official said that the Syrian troops’ aerial, artillery and missile attacks against the ISIL have blocked the terrorists’ advance in the region despite their massive offensive against the army in the past few days.
    [END Deir ez-Zor SECTION]
    2. From AMN 18 Jan:
    Deir Ezzor battle proves costly for ISIS amid reports of 200+ killed
    BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:45 A.M.) – The Islamic State’s (ISIS) large-scale offensive in Deir Ezzor may have brought them success near the military airport, but the overall attack has proven incredibly costly for the terrorist group.
    Over the course of 4 days, the Islamic State reportedly suffered more than 200 dead and several hundred wounded, a Syrian Arab Army official told Al-Masdar News on Wednesday.
    In addition to high loss of life, the Islamic State has also lost a large number of armored vehicles and military hardware while storming the outskirts of the provincial capital and airport.
    Meanwhile, the official confirmed that the Syrian Arab Army lost a total of 76 soldiers during the 4 day long Deir Ezzor battle, with the majority of the casualties accumulating on Sunday and Monday.
    The Deir Ezzor battle resumed this morning, when the Syrian Arab Army launched another powerful assault to recover the territory they lost to the Islamic State over the last 4 days.
    3. ***NOTE THE DATE***
    Sun Oct 02, 2016 12:45
    Source: US Bombing of Deir Ezzur Bridges Aimed at Stopping Syrian Army Advance
    TEHRAN (FNA)- The US pounded several strategic bridges in Deir Ezzur in the last few days to prevent the army and its allies’ further advances in the fight against the ISIL terrorists, a Syrian field source said.
    “The US aimed to extend the geographical area of its influence by bombing the strategic bridges in Deir Ezzur and stop the Syrian army’s advance in the war against the ISIL,” the source told FNA on Sunday.
    “Washington also sought to cut the supply routes between the provinces and separate Deir Ezzur’s countryside from the city of Deir Ezzur through the bombing,” the source added.
    “Destruction of Deir Ezzur bridges was also aimed at dividing the regions under the US and Russian influence in the Eastern and Western parts of the Euphrates,” the source said.
    The US-led coalition fighter jets once again conducted air raids over Deir Ezzur province on Friday, destroying two other key bridges over the Euphrates River, just three days after demolishing two other strategic bridges in similar airstrikes in the same region near the border with Iraq.
    According to reports, the Coalition’s airstrikes resulted in the destruction of al-Shihan Bridge near al-Salhin neighborhood in al-Bokamal countryside and Tarif Bridge in the Western countryside that extends between Deir Ezzur and Raqqa provinces.
    The US-led coalition warplanes had also destroyed al-Asharah Bridge that links the two banks of the river in the Eastern part of the Deir Ezzur province on Wednesday, only few hours after demolishing al-Mayadin Bridge.
    The bombers had also targeted the Syrian army troops near the city of Deir Ezzur on September 17, leaving over 90 military personnel dead and a hundred wounded.
    4. ***NOTE DATE***
    8 October 2016
    TEHRAN (FNA) Governor-General of Deir Ezzur Mohammad Qadour al-Aynia expressed regret that the US-led coalition is bombing Euphrates bridges to the benefit of the terrorists in his province.
    “The US-led coalition recently pounded 13 bridges over Euphrates river from al-Bu Kamal region to the borders of Raqqa under the pretext of cutting the ISIL’s supply routes but destruction of these bridges was aimed at annihilation of Syria’s infrastructures and the Deir Ezzur people would face more hardship for commuting between the villages on the two sides of the river,” al-Aynia told FNA on Saturday.
    He said that the ISIL now takes a lot of money from the Deir Ezzur villagers to transfer them with boats, adding that the US created a new source of revenue for the terrorists.
    The US-led coalition fighter jets once again conducted air raids over Deir Ezzur province on Friday, destroying another key bridge in the North of the provincial capital.
    The US-led Coalition aircraft targeted al-Syasia Bridge in the city of Deir Ezzur on Friday which resulted in the destruction of the largest bridge in the province.
    Last Monday, local sources in Deir Ezzur said the US airstrikes had destroyed more bridges and supply routes in the province, adding that 50 civilians were killed in the attacks.
    “50 civilians, including women and children, were killed in the US-led coalition airstrikes on Deir Ezzur,” the sources said.
    A number of bridges have been destroyed by the bombers of the US-led Coalition in Deir Ezzur province in recent weeks, which, according to prominent analysts and politicians, is the Washington strategy to prevent the Syrian Army and its allies’ further advances in the fight against the ISIL terrorists.
    Local sources in Deir Ezzur said last Sunday that the US planes pounded 7 bridges in the past four days.
    The bridges on the Euphrates in al-Mayadeen, al-Bu Kamal, al-Ashara, al-Basira, al-Tarif and al-Nowam in the Eastern and Western countryside of Deir Ezzur were attacked before the airstrike on al-Abbas bridge on Sunday.
    The US-led Coalition’s airstrikes had also destroyed al-Shihan Bridge near al-Salhin neighborhood in al-Bokamal countryside and Tarif Bridge in the Western countryside of Deir Ezzur that extends between Deir Ezzur and Raqqa provinces late September.
    The bombers had also destroyed al-Asharah Bridge that links the two banks of the Euphrates River in the Eastern part of the Deir Ezzur province, only few hours after demolishing al-Mayadin Bridge in the same month.
    The warplanes of US-led coalition targeted the Syrian army troops near the city of Deir Ezzur on September 17, leaving over 90 military personnel dead and a hundred wounded.

  70. Wonduk says:

    WFP flies out of Amman for this job. Airplanes are chartered from accredited contractors (frequently circular rotations ocur: South Sudan air drop contractors move to Syria, those who held the Syria contract go on and fulfill a contract in Afghanistan, etc.). Profile and pictures of airdrops from last August:!

  71. Pundita says:

    2 reports
    1. ISIS storms Deir Ezzor in new bid to capture military airport
    By Leith Fadel – 18/01/2017
    BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:55 P.M.) – On Wednesday morning, the Islamic State launched another powerful attack in the Deir Ezzor Governorate, targeting the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) defenses at the Panorama area and Harabish District of the provincial capital.
    Under heavy bombardment by the Russian Air Force, the Islamic State attempted to seize more territory north of the Deir Ezzor Military Airport in order to completely besiege this installation.
    Despite sending several waves of combatants towards the Syrian Arab Army’s defenses, the Islamic State was unable to make any important gains near the Panorama Roundabout or Harabish District thus far.
    According to a military source in Damascus, the Syrian Arab Army in Deir Ezzor has managed to push back all Islamic State militants in the Harabish District, but they are still under heavy assault in the Panorama area.
    The Syrian Arab Army attempted to reverse the Islamic State’s gains north of the military airport yesterday; however, they were ultimately repelled after a long battle at night.
    2. Jan 18, 2017 2:53
    People Revolt against ISIL Across Deir Ezzur Province
    TEHRAN (FNA)- People in Southeastern Deir Ezzur intensified protests against ISIL, and engaged in street battles with them in two towns along the Euphrates River.
    People in the towns of al-Mayadeen and al-Ashareh stormed several ISIL centers and set fire on them.
    The popular uprising broke out after the ISIL terrorists’ advanced against the Syrian Army troops in the Southern and Southwestern outskirts of Deir Ezzur and cut off the a key road connecting the city to a military airport.
    Residents of al-Mayadeen also set fire on several vehicles of ISIL’s so-called special police.
    Military sources revealed earlier today that the Syrian Army troops in the city of Deir Ezzur have launched a large-scale attack on ISIL’s positions in the Southern outskirts of the city to remove the newly-laid siege on the military airport.
    The sources said that the army soldiers engaged in intensive fight against ISIL North of al-Omal region to recapture al-Omal and then the city’s cemetery to reopen the road connecting the city to the airbase.
    The source added that Syrian and Russian fighter jets have been providing massive aerial back up for the ground troops of the army.
    In the meantime, the army men fended off ISIL’s attacks in Panorama and the university’s residential area in Southwestern outskirts of Deir Ezzur, killing tens of the militants.
    The Syrian and Russian fighter jets have continued to bomb ISIL’s movements and gatherings in al-Thardah region, near the 137th regiment and Deir Ezzur airbase.

  72. turcopolier says:

    I was twice US Defatt (Yemen and Saudi Arabia)and then head of the system world wide. TTG and I know what an attaché system field report looks like and this looks like one. pl

  73. turcopolier says:

    Thanks. Very useful. Given “b”‘s comments on the lack of secure DZ at this point I reiterate my opinion that further air drops of civilian supplies and military materiel will be large scale deliveries to IS unless the Russian charter airline has precision guidance equipment for the parachutes. I doubt that they do. pl

  74. turcopolier says:

    “I assume it is similar to JPADS.” An unwarranted assumption. you either know or you don’t know. pl

  75. turcopolier says:

    “if you say that we, the USA is directly supporting al Quaeda, then you are drinking Assad’s kool aid. There is zero American support of al Quaeda.” I guess the operative word is “directly.” pl

  76. jld says:

    Not sure that kind of humor improves your credibility.

  77. mike says:

    Not sure what humor you are talking about.
    I do admit to sometimes having to laugh away some of the tinfoil-hat conspiracies I have heard about American supporting the same jihadis that will slit our throats if given half a chance.
    The alternative choice would be to believe that the people pushing those conspiracies are paid hacks or trolls of Assad or the IRGC. I do not believe that.

  78. Valissa says:

    Not specifically about Deir Al-Zor, but of interest on Syria.
    Democratic Rep. Gabbard Makes Secret Trip to Syria
    Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii has just departed war-torn Damascus following what her aides described as a “fact-finding” mission to work toward ending the nearly six-year conflict in Syria.
    … For years, she has opposed a U.S. policy of regime change and says the country will become more unstable and dangerous if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is ousted.
    In describing the purpose of the trip, Gabbard spokeswoman Emily Latimer said she “felt it was important to meet with a number of individuals and groups, including religious leaders, humanitarian workers, refugees, and government and community leaders.”
    This month, she introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, which would prohibit the U.S. government from providing funding and weapons to Sunni militant groups working to overthrow the Assad regime, such as the Levant Front, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and al Qaeda. …
    When asked if Gabbard met with Assad, the strongman many blame for a conflict that has killed 400,000 and displaced millions, Latimer declined to comment, citing security and logistical concerns.
    The FP article was cited by the many other articles as the source on this topic. For those not subscribing to FP, here is a version not behind a pay wall. This version also added in relevant background info from November.
    Congresswoman Gabbard makes unannounced trip to Syria
    In her November meeting with Trump, Gabbard said the two discussed legislation she is pushing that would end what she described as “our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government.” Trump asked for the meeting, Gabbard said then, to discuss Syria, the fight to defeat the Islamic State group and al-Qaida, and other foreign policy issues.
    Gabbard, who backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary, said she accepted the meeting with Trump over concern that a wing of the Republican Party known as the neocons will grow in influence once Trump takes office in January. She said that could push the U.S. more deeply into Syria, where the war now in its sixth year has killed as many as a half-million people.
    Tulsi did not let congressional leaders know she was going on this trip 🙂
    Gabbard takes secret trip to Syria, shocking aides
    Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard went on a secret trip to Syria this week without telling congressional leaders beforehand, according to multiple sources. Aides confirmed that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) weren’t given any advance warning before the Hawaii Democrat visited the Middle East on a trip that was not government-sanctioned travel. Informing leaders of such travel is standard and expected practice.

  79. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I agree, it is common usage when Western Europeans are referring to essentially states West of the Diocletian Line; i.e. themselves.
    It carried within itself connotations of civilizational, political and military alliances.

  80. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I have read reports written by Israelis that use the phrase “Free World”, in lieu of “West”.

  81. Ken Macaulay says:

    Reports of helicopters now being able to land at the Deir Ezzur airport.
    If this is true then things are starting to look up for the Syrian troops & population there.
    Another good background of the situation from Southfront:

  82. Joe100 says:

    Cassad’s blog has been posting one or two detailed DAX updates per day. Not sure of his sources, but he seems to provide much more detail than available elsewhere, plus photos and videos form both sides. His comments also seem pretty straight – and he clearly shares the concern here that this could be pretty bad..
    From (machine translation)
    “Briefly on the situation in Deir ez-Zor by the evening of January 18.
    Despite intense bombardment and attempts at counterattacks of the CAA, the gap between the city and the air base is preserved. Holding the front against the main force of the SAA in the area of the University of al-Furat, hospital “Assad” and base “Panorama”, “black” trying to widen the gap between the fragmented parts of the enclave, attacking in an urban area to the North of Harabesi and at the same time trying to push back Syrian troops directly to the airbase. The main battles here are in the heart of the quarter, Macabi, Garii and a field hospital to the North of the airbase.The enemy, using superiority in numbers, suicide and active artillery fire, gradually pushing back the Syrian infantry to the air force base. The exchange of manpower (in the last days side lose daily dozens of people killed) best “black”, as they have more opportunities for the transfer of reinforcements and replenishment of worn out parts. The activity of the aviation of the Syrian air force and videoconferencing so far, only slowed down the advance of the militants, but did not stop it. Complicates the situation that started today sandstorm.
    Yet flights to the enclave remains possible – Syrian air force covers the enclave from the airport of Qamishli, from the same helicopters today, the enclave was transferred a few dozen people to reinforce the garrison with the subsequent evacuation of wounded soldiers. The Caliphate obviously tends to compress the encirclement around the base, to be able to system fire control at the base that will make it impossible for a helicopter service from Qamishli, after which the capture of the airbase would be only a matter of time.
    Simultaneously with the attack on an airbase near Jitai and a field hospital, “black” click on part of the enclave near the city. The fighting took place on the outskirts of the 137th army base and Baruch tal (North-Western part of the enclave).
    The strategy of “black” is quite obvious – using a superiority in strength, they hinder less the strength of the CAA in order to find new weaknesses in the defense of the enclave and not to concentrate troops for a strike in the direction of the airbase.
    Overall, the situation remains critical and the situation for the SAA in Deir ez-Zor continues to deteriorate.”

  83. turcopolier says:

    In my 3rd eye, I see the blasted scene, and hope for the best. pl

  84. b says:

    There were no strikes in Deir Ezzor or even nearby before the Sep 16 strike on the SAA. There were some strikes on ISIS in oil fields some 10 km and more away from Deir Ezzor which CentCom labeled “in the vicinity of” Deir Ezzor.
    You need to read Gareth Porter’s report on the strike investigation.
    The strike was intended to sabotage Kerry’s agreement with the Russians about a common U.S.-Russian fights against terrorists in Syria.
    The CentCom commander is on the record publicly protesting against Kerry’s agreement. A few days later CentCom engineers the strike on the SAA. The agreement then fails. That is not a “conspiracy theory” but the public record.
    The strikes, there were several over one hour in total attack lengths, were carried out by at least two U.S. A-10 and two F-16s from Denmark under U.S. (CentCom) command. (Additional F-16 from who-knows were probably also involved.) The planes came from Erbil. A British drone was the reconnaissance and observation asset.
    The Centcom desk of the contact officer for the “red telephone” with the Russian commander in Syria was empty. When the Russians called the desk officer was away taking a half hour long piss … Only some 40 minutes after he first tried could the Russian reach a CentCom contact. (a WSJ piece mentioned those items.)
    The investigation was carried out by a U.S. and a foreign officer (Danish, my sources say) on the order of the CentCom commander. It also reported to the CentCom commander (who likely was the guy who ordered to attack the SAA). The investigation report was delayed because the foreign officer would not agree with the results. A few days after the report was released the Danish government ordered all its “coalition” air assets to return to Denmark without sending replacements.

  85. Warpig says:

    The human body contains eight gallons of blood. Including US WIA and Iraqi civilians, et al. Bush/Cheney’s war cost hundreds of THOUSANDS of gallons of blood.

  86. b says:

    The U.S. did nothing against ISIS until a U.S. reporter got publicly killed by ISIS (in Iraq) and until the Russian president showed his colleagues at the G-20 satellite pictures of thousands of trucks picking up ISIS oil and hauling it to Turkey. (Two days later the U.S. suddenly started to bomb these trucks.)
    Seymour Hersh reported in 2007 that the U.S. was allying with Jihadis to stir trouble in the Middle East. He did not pick that from hot air. The U.S. supported the exiled Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (well known for extremism) including by financing its opposition TV station (Barada) in London. The first weapons and fighters to Syria came early 2011 from Libya where the U.S. had just used those fighters to kill Ghaddafi (and destroy the country).
    Obama is on the record that he let ISIS in Iraq grow to oust Maliki (Interview with NYT Friedman). Kerry is on the record that the administration let ISIS grow in Syria because it would put pressure on Assad (recorded talk with Syrian opposition).
    The CIA and the administration obviously knew that ISIS fighters and weapons were coming through turkey but did nothing. Weapons giving to “moderates” were sold off to ISIS. Some “moderate” FSA groups were nothing more than ISIS couriers and supply managers. The CIA of course knew this well.
    Israel has used al-Qaeda as well as ISIS as element against Syria. It supplied them in the Golan, cared for wounded fighters and gave (artillery) fire support against Syrian army positions. Israeli papers wrote about this. The UN observers, who then were still there, reported such.
    There were several instances where U.S. “allies” in Iraq were “accidentally” hit by U.S. planes while they were doing surprise moves against ISIS. These were not reported in western media. Most Iraqis do not believe the “accidentally” part of the story.
    While the U.S. may not have been directly supporting ISIS it did at least condone its growth and left it completely unhindered when it was storming Iraq and Syria.
    The U.S. (CIA) relation is way more intensive with al-Qaeda in Syria and its Ahrar al-Sham sidekick. These were directly supported. At one point the U.S. military special forces under CIA command even sabotaged training they were ordered to give to al-Qaeda dudes (see SOFREP reports).
    The CIA supplied “FSA” troops were no more than weapon carriers for al-Qaeda. Anything they were given landed up in al-Qaeda hands. Up to today these groups live next to al-Qaeda have the same headquarter and fight the same fights (with the AQ dudes leading). The U.S./UK supported White Helmets are nothing but an al-Qaeda propaganda group.
    When al-Qaeda and some attached CIA-FSA groups stormed Idleb NATO (Turkish and U.S.) electronic systems were active to shut down the Syrian army communication in the city. It fell because there were no reliable command circles left (but couriers untrained in that role). All Syrian army units in and around the city were cut off from their higher commands. That’s why the city fell so fast.
    But all the above, Mike, was of course just accidental. The U.S. knew and did nothing and all what happened was not intended at all.

  87. Using the BBC search facility on its web page, the last reference to Deir Ezzor was on the 9th. Reporting elsewhere seems sparse,though the Guardian has a report:-

  88. charly says:

    Free World includes Japan & South America (when democratic)

  89. Chris Chuba says:

    Correct Col,
    I was saying to Mike that our aid goes go to the CIA vetted groups. We are not sending weapons to Al Qaeda; I never said that. I said that since our CIA vetted groups fight along side Al Qaeda, it amounts to the same thing in the same way that helping the offensive tackle helps the Quarterback. It is silly to say, ‘gee, I am only helping the offensive tackle, I have no responsibility or association with that evil quarterback’.
    Mike, I do not have to go to the U.N. Helping CIA vetted groups is our stated policy. When I said that I have ‘boatloads of documentation’. I was referring to references on the fact that our CIA vetted groups are aligned with Al Qaeda. I was not claiming that they were Al Qaeda. 1. They are intermixed in the same areas, 2. They both fight Assad, and 3. they do not fight against each other.
    To me, this is an alliance, I don’t care if they break bread or pray together or not.
    Mike, by equipping CIA vetted rebels who then partner with Al Qaeda, we enhance Al Qaeda’s firepower, ability to defend territory (like Aleppo city), and potentially take over Syria. I don’t see this as a conspiracy theory or even as a controversial statement. Do you? It is just that it is not expressed this way because our politicians are engaged in cognitive dissonance and our press is too dim to force the issue on them.

  90. mike says:

    Eliot –
    I get that about western reporters. It is a no-brainer. I was quoting an Iranian article. I am sure the press in Tehran has to depend on local sources for the most part just as westerners do. They may have a source in DEZ, they did not say so. But whether in-country or not, both western journos and Iranian or others are susceptible to passing on false accounts.

  91. FkDahl says:

    There are several videos of FSA TOW teams in direct tactical collaboration with Nusra and other jihadists, in case you needed examples.

  92. FkDahl says:

    Wonder if McCain announced beforehand that he was going to sneak across the border and stand shoulder to shoulder with jihadists?

  93. mike says:

    Chris Chuba & James –
    Now that you explain it that way, I tend to agree. My apologies for previously thinking you were in the tinfoil hat category.
    I concur the vetting was sloppy and many of the FSA groups armed by us immediately allied themselves with Salafi groups. Others I think were gradually infiltrated by alQuaeda inspired recruits and eventually taken over. I also believe that some of those FSA units had their weapons taken away by force.

  94. Ghostship says:

    Things might be looking up. According to the SOHR, the airdrops have restarted.
    “Deir Ezzor Province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:
    Cargo planes dropped at least 8 containers of food and humanitarian aid over regime forces’ controlled areas in the city of Deir Ezzor.”
    Meanwhile the US-led coalition attacked a base under the joint control of Harakat Nur al-Din Al-Zanki and Fateh al-Sham Front (formerly Nusra Front) in western Aleppo Governorate.

  95. Joe100 says:

    1/20 update from Cassad – more not so good news..
    Briefly about the situation in Deir-ez-Zor by 20 January 2017
    After 18 January, the militants of the Caliphate have occupied the power station and field hospital to the North-West of the airbase, the main fighting took place on the line base “Panorama” – University of “al-Furat” hospital “Assad” and on the line Ditria – power – Arabes. Counterattack of the CAA are unable to restore communication between the city and the airbase. The gap is about 2-3 kilometers. On the other hand, “black” also are unable to develop the initiative and immediately overwhelm the defenses of the CAA at the airbase.An important role was played by strikes, which caused significant damage to the enemy manpower in the gap between the city and the airbase. On the other hand, the Syrians are unable to stop the effects of breakthrough of militants from 15 to 17 January.
    Syrian sources say that the enemy continues to throw reinforcements to Deir-ez-Zor, hoping to build on this success. Key reinforcements coming from Iraq, where they are removed from the front in Anbar province, where the intensity of the fighting in recent days has decreased. The gunmen apparently planning to renew the attack on the air base to take advantage of their successes that will surely follow, once suffered losses, the troops will be replenished. As we should expect attacks Shahid-mobiles that will have to clear the way for advancing militants.
    Military transport aviation of the Russian Federation resets the enclave ammunition, weapons and medical supplies. The Syrians obviously expect to wear out the bombing of militants in the area between the airbase and the city, and then due to forces deployed in the area of the city, to recover her message. The main problem is the numerical superiority of the enemy and the ability to use the ruins of urban neighborhoods near the route going to the base. The enemy does not leave hopes to expand the offensive against the SAA in the area of 137th base.
    Overall, the situation has somewhat stabilized, consistently poor for SAA condition. Immediate disaster has not occurred, but the current configuration of the front dramatically worsened the situation of the enclave. If CAA will be able to eventually repel the attack of militants, but will not be able to fully recover a message base, if it is impossible to make planes and helicopters, the possibility of resistance will steadily decline and will be only a matter of time when “black” will resume the offensive on the enclave exploded in the profitable operational configuration of the front.

  96. Thirdeye says:

    Been following this on the Twittersphere. There was a slowdown in news the past couple of days, with posts reporting continued aerial supply and a slowdown in ISIS attacks against government positions while they were under unrelenting bombardment, implying that they were losing their offensive capability. The optimistic interpretations reported preparation for a massive counterassault. The less optimistic interpretation would be that SAA was also depleted from the fighting while not holding the ground that would unify the pocket and secure the airport.
    AMN is reporting a new operation to unify the pocket. This looks like the moment of truth.

  97. Ghostship says:

    Off topic but it looks like the Turkish Army and its “militias” took a hammering before Al Bab.
    Now they’re handing off the liberation of Al Bab to the SAA.
    “Turkish forces to allow Syrian Army to liberate Al-Bab: report”
    “BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:45 P.M.) – The Turkish Army will pull back its forces attacking the Islamic State (ISIS) stronghold of Al-Bab in order to allow the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to liberate the city, Lebanese journalist Hussein Murtada reported on Friday.”
    “Turkish soldiers have not shared the same success as the Syrian Army in east Aleppo, despite launching several attacks against the Islamic State terrorists at Al-Bab’s eastern and western flanks of the city.”
    “On Friday, the Turkish Army suffered another setback eastern Al-Bab after failing to seize the key town of Al-Sulfaniyah from the Islamic State.”

  98. A.I.Schmelzer says:

    If I was Tulsi, I would have some pretty serious security concerns about telling McCain of all people of my travel itinerary.
    Glad she came out safe.

  99. Valissa says:

    After reading this piece by MK Bhadrakumar yesterday, I wonder if she was secretly involved in some aspect of the plans for the upcoming Syrian peace talks…
    Trump brings optimism to Syrian peace talks
    On Thursday, Moscow slipped in the formal invitation to Washington to attend the intra-Syria talks in Astana on coming Monday (January 23).
    … No doubt, it is a thoughtful Russian move to engage the incoming Donald Trump administration on its very first day in the White House. Trump will now take the call. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said:
    “We hope the new US administration will accept this invitation and will be represented at this meeting at any expert level it considers appropriate. This could be the first official contact during which we will be able to discuss a more effective way to fight terrorism in Syria… Russia and the United States created and are co-chairing the International Syria Support Group… It has two task forces – a Humanitarian Task Force and a Ceasefire Task Force. There is a good chance we can invigorate these mechanisms.”
    Lavrov’s optimism must be based on considered assessment regarding Trump’s disposition to work with President Vladimir Putin in the fight against terrorism in Syria and elsewhere.
    Perhaps Lavrov’s optimism has a it to do with Tulsi’s recent trip. Her aide would not reveal who she met with. I do not think the timing of her trip was mere coincidence.

  100. FB Ali says:

    Good point. The US’s reply to this invitation will tell us a lot about which way Trump is going, and how fast he is prepared to move.
    Personally, of course, I hope it is accepted.

  101. Joe100 says:

    Latest Cassad updates(1/21 & 22) – lots of maps, photos and videos with these. And more great photos of General Issam Zahreddine!
    Briefly about the situation in Deir-ez-Zor to the outcome of the January 21, 2017.
    The situation in the enclave we can say stabilized, SAA was able to stop the advance of “black”, but on the other hand attempts to connect the city with the air base ended in failure and they remain cut off from each other.
    Air strikes of the Syrian air force and videoconferencing (which was complemented with strikes aircraft and long-range bombers – 6 Tu-22M3 bombers once again bombed in the area of the enclave) inhibited the development of the initiative of the enemy and inflicted significant damage that affected the implementation of more ambitious plans of the Caliphate associated with immediate defeat of the troops of the CAA in the enclave. Early in the morning in the ruins of city blocks North of the airbase were street battles in which the Caliphate could not achieve any tangible progress.
    At the moment, the Caliphate cemented the achievements of 15-17 January and is preparing a more thorough attack on the garrison airbase, which is a priority. At the moment, the systematic supply of the enclave can be solved only partially due to the discharged air of the containers with ammunition and medical supplies.The road from town to the air base cannot be used while in the hands of the Caliphate remain in ruins adjacent neighborhoods of Deir ez-Zor, and forces on the full sweep of urban neighborhoods, the Syrians, there is not enough, and to shoot to attack troops from the desert, where they guarded the approaches to the 137th base is too risky, because the enemy has already shown intentions to break through to the base from the North and South. The loss of the 137th base for CAA unacceptable, as it will lead to the collapse of the entire defense to the West of the city.Therefore, the attack in the district of al-Furat hospital “Assad” taking a fairly limited forces.
    Overall, the defense of the Syrians has been kept, but the overall situation remains difficult. The enemy has considerable superiority in forces, which will try to soon implement it, even despite those obstacles placed systematic bombing from the air. The Syrians could wish for courage and fortitude in the battles of the last days they have once again proved that they will fight to the end and hope that successful offensive operations East of Aleppo and near Palmyra will force blacks to withdraw some troops from under the Deir ez-Zor.
    Briefly about the situation to Deir-ez-Zor to the outcome of the January 22, 2017.
    Today, tried to attack both sides. The Caliphate has taken a number of attacks in the direction of the 137th bases of the base to the West of Panorama. In the first stage, the militants managed to oust the Syrian infantry, but heavy fire and air strikes forced them to stop the attack and regroup.
    After lunch, the enemy resumed the offensive and was able to advance to the cross-road diverging to the 137-th base and base “Panorama”. But by the evening sources of the Caliphate, said that to keep the intersection of “black” could not and were forced to withdraw to positions South of the road. Claimed killed 16 soldiers of the SAA and destroyed 1 tank in the University area of “al-Furat”. On the Syrian data of “black” has lost up to 20 people were killed. It should also be noted that the Syrians today announced that total from the beginning of the offensive, the enemy lost 500 men killed At the moment, the fighting continues South of the road, “black” does not leave hopes to take control of the intersection.
    CAA, in turn, has made some progress in the area of the cemetery, reducing the distance to the advanced positions near the airbase. The enemy in these fights has lost 30 men killed and wounded. But here it is worth remembering that the occupation of the cemetery and adjacent vacant lots still will not allow you to install a full message base, as the road shoots from adjacent to the road the ruins of residential areas, which militants of the Caliphate to supplant rather problematic. Plus the garrison airbase should solve the issue squeezing the militants of the area Jiraiya.
    The problem at this stage, there is solved in the forehead, at the edge of the building, the area of the cemetery and the naruto vs. Sasuke due to applied airstrikes to push the militants into the city and to pave the way for Syrian infantry and militia. The slow pace of advancement of Syrians reflect the current difficulties (lack of quality assault infantry, a small number of armored vehicles, the stubborn resistance of the infantry “black”) faced by the Syrians against the resistance fighters.
    Overall, the situation remains severe for the Syrians, but not yet hopeless. Based on the University district and the hospital, the CAA still retains some hope of connecting the split parts of the enclave, what the enemy is actively hindered, not abandoning hope immediately to crush part of the enclave, until the situation on other fronts forced them to shoot away the troops. Yet, with this opposite picture is observed – from Raqqa to Deir ez-Zor were sent additional reinforcements (infantry and carts).In turn, Syrian sources reported that preparing for the transfer of reinforcements from the Republican guard in Deir ez-Zor on the route Damascus-Qamishli-Deir ez-Zor. Fresh infantry now there is clearly not hurt, especially people with skills in urban environments and in the composition of assault groups.
    The rumors of the death of General Issam Zahreddine, which is the main inspiration of the heroic defense of the city, as usual, proved to be greatly exaggerated. Of course his loss would be irreparable, because General personal example inspiring subordinates plays a very important role in a situation when the violent attacks of the militants could undermine the morale of the defenders of Deir ez-Zor. The fighting of recent days have shown that despite the setback from 15 to 17 January, the Syrians did not lose heart and continue active resistance.

  102. Paveway IV says:

    I would have seconded that comment about Abakan-Avia not having precision drop equipment. To my suprise, Jakob Kern of the World Food Program replied to a query saying that they had, indeed, used JPADS in Deir EzZor “…but only around 25, mostly for medical supplies”
    The FireFly JPADS unit is about the size of a small computer and comes with it’s own parachute. They are programmed with a small computer onboard the aircraft.
    As long as the cargo parachute riggers in Amman had some help configuring them on the load (not terribly complex), there’s no real additional ‘work’ to kick them out the back of the aircraft – they go out like any other bundle. There is a wind sensor thrown out on the first pass to collect wind data. An operator on the aircraft loads that in a laptop to compute a release point and then loads coordinates into the JPADS control unit for the actual drop.
    317th drop from C-130J at Dyess
    Abakan supposedly charges the WFP about a quarter-million USD per Deir EzZor airdrop, so roughly $10K per one tonne bundle. One-tonne JPADS units about $60K – reuseable. Accuracy claimed at about 150m for the FireFly with accurate wind data and experienced, i.e., military, aircrew.

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