"A Syrian government official claimed that the army wrested a contested district of a key city from rebels on Monday after ten days of fierce fighting. But two activists based in the city denied the claim, saying rebels were under heavy fire but still holding on.
President Bashar Assad's forces have launched a major offensive to retake the strategic city of Homs, a transport hub that sits between the capital, Damascus, and costal areas overwhelmingly loyal to the regime. Rebels seeking his ouster have held on to parts of the city they took over a year ago, but have been under siege.
The official, from Homs province, said troops took the Khaldiyeh district but were still "cleaning" out rebel-held pockets. He gave no other details and requested anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media."
I have "graded" a lot of damage, here, there and pretty much everywhere and I would call what is shown in the picture above Heavy Damage, actually, Very Heavy Damage. This is in central Homs.
If there are rebels "still holding on" in scenes like the one in the picture then they are considerable people. This looks like the German cities that I saw as a child just after WW2.
It appears that the government is "disemboweling" those parts of Syria that most strongly support the rebels. Homs, Hama, Deraa; these are all traditional centers of Sunni concentration and Islamist enthusiasm. pl
Col is there a damage scoring system? If so in a future post could you outline what that is or a reference where I can research further? I was curious as to what you see in that photo that helps you categorize the scene. Not urgent, just curious as to how its done. Thanks.
This sounds like a trick question. The relentless activity of type A bureaucrats has undoubtedly led to the creation somewhere, in some manual of a matrixed system for determining damage. I hate that kind of thing. After the first few thousand instance of damage that I looked at I knew what I was seeing. In this case the amount of structural damage would lead to that description. pl
That is probably what auto cannons, tank guns, mortars, artillery, and air strikes do to a city. It appears that the Syrian government isn’t taking any chances, and brings superior fire power to bear at enemy held cities, in order to keep down their own losses and crush resistance.
Re: “If there are rebels “still holding on” in scenes like that which are reminiscent of Germany just after WW2, then they are considerable people.”
How do you grade their chances to get out of that beating alive? By the looks of the city, they must either be the a bunch of roadrunners dodging shells or have taken considerable losses.
Not sure what “auto cannons” might be. This is not really a question of personal survival. Many must have been done in by this plus the ground assault, but as Sherman said, “war is hell.” Many survived in German cities and under similar amounts of fire. The question really is whether or not this level of effectiveness on the part of Syrian forces/HB makes it a mere question of time before the rebellion is rendered ineffective. Still there but ineffective. pl
Thanks. Not a trick question.
With auto cannons I mean something like 20/23/30mm guns on armoured vehicle or AA guns used against ground targets.
Typically these are AA guns. The Soviets made many different kinds. These are usually very effective against personnel but no at this level of damage to masonry buildings. This looks like artillery, tanks, and fixed wing aircraft. pl
There is going to be a lot of money made in rebuilding Syria. None of it will be made by US, French or British companies. pl
Col: So it’s Iraq Redux, except we don’t have to lose 4500 Americans and $1 trillion to stimulate the Chinese economy?
So it would seem that people in Washington, and London, have totally miscalculated the relative strength of the Syrian ‘regime’ — as we like to call governments we dislike — and the rebels.
How people in Moscow and Bejing assimilate and respond to this fresh evidence that people in Washington – and London – are largely clueless seems to me an interesting question, to which the answer is not at all obvious.
Wonder which countries will benefit most from the rebuilding ? Who is KBR ‘s biggest competitors in Russia & the PRC ? Did the Indian government take sides in the Syrian Civil War ?
I think you might mean the Russian ZSU series anti aircraft self propelled stuff. Aircraft, people and soft skinned vehicles are their targets.
Is this Israel/AIPACS doing? Is there some sort of devils pact they have made with the Salafists against the Shia and forces of Arab secularism/modernism?
To my mind, the biggest threat to Israel is American/European investment in secular/modern nominally Islamic states, for investment breeds political power in my opinion.
And yes, I know “modern” is a swear word to salafists.
Last week on CCTV’s Dialogue program, the moderator and the Chinese academic guest were discussing how the US was making such blunders recently in international relations. The guest was saying whenever China did something that met disapproval by the US over the years, that instead of responding with respect for their position, they have been receiving rude tirades. When asked why this is happening with a country full of smart and intelligent people, he said it was either question of competency or sanity but it need to be addressed or eventually there would be irreparable damage in relations. I took the conversation as an attempt at a friendly though frank wake-up call to their counterparts here in the US.
The question of sanity coming from the Chinese is also significant warning since they have the fresh scars of governmental maladministration induced societal insanity.
China and Russia would rebuild Syria.
The Israelis whom I talk to do not want the rebels to win. AIPAC? They are neocon madmen. pl
You may be right about the quality of western leadership but on this topic I think the cognitive problems London and Washington are exhibiting stem more from being proven wrong. Moscow and Bejing can revise their assessments without losing face.
“Wonder which countries will benefit most from the rebuilding ?” Not to be a smart-alec but I’d start with Syria, minus those who opposed Assad’s regime. Now seems an opportune time for President Assad to make appropriate offers to those (if any are left) still on the fence or who can be split away from the opposition.
this is already happening:
“Once a rebel stronghold, the town of Tal Kalakh on the Syrian side of the border with Lebanon changed sides at the week-end and is now controlled by the Syrian army. The switch in allegiance is the latest advance by government forces into areas where they have had little or no authority since the start of the revolt in Syria two years ago.
The government is triumphant at the surrender of 39 local leaders of the rebel Free Syrian Army with their weapons, which were ceremoniously stacked against the outside wall of the town’s military headquarters. The exact terms of the deal are mysterious, but there is no doubt that the regular Syrian army now holds all parts of Tal Kalakh, which had a pre-war population of 55,000 and is an important smuggling route for arms and ammunition from Lebanon a couple of miles to the south. Syrian army commanders claimed the reason the rebels had given up in the town so easily was because of their defeat in the battle for the similarly strategically important town of Qusayr, 20 miles away, earlier in June.
… For instance in Homs many people have moved to the al-Waar district for safety, its population rising from 150,00 to 700,000. The Old City, which once had 400,000 people in it is almost empty aside from rebel fighters. He says that ceasefires or agreements for rebels to put down their weapons in return for an amnesty are much easier to arrange when all the rebels are Syrians. “When there are foreign Salafi or Jihadi fighters present, as there are in the Old City, an agreement is almost impossible.””
I.e. the Jihadis are willing to fight their cause to the last Syrian, which is lamentable for the Syrians, but very straightforward for the Jihadis: Wasn’t iirc Al Qaeda’s critique about Hamas that they are a group with local stakes interests, and don’t just have salvation on their mind?
At least the Judaic (folk) whom you’ve spoken to know [exactly] which side their bread is buttered (on)…
Or perhaps they are wise in realizing that further instability [in Syria] will not aid their Interests overall?
“When it is said to them ‘Do not make mischief in the land,’ they say ‘We are but peacemakers.’ Nay, of a surety they are the mischief makers, but they do not understand.”
The picture above and those holding on remind me of Antony Beevor’s book Stalingrad.
Assad might even build a 21 Century smart power grid . The Chinese seem to really be getting on with sustainable technology and are exporting it overseas.
AIPAC – repeating old behaviors expecting different results. Lather , rinse , repeat ….
That’s for sure. But even without this war we were not in the rebuilding game. We blew it with 20 years of poorly targeted sanctions. Not that I think sanctions should be undone now, just saying we’ve lost the chance to build business ties. Worst was not having a U.S. ambassador in Syria from 2005-2010. Less schmoozing by the pool and on the tennis courts DOES have consequences! Not good.
Using current technology is bound to happen, but I doubt the Syrian government is going to blow through millions on a ‘smart grid’ and more on solar and wind just to be green. His distributed generation is bound to be in facilities critical to the central government and not likely to give any future rebellion off grid or independent generation capabilities if they can avoid them.
I suspect he’ll also need a labor intesive effort to build out allot of this if for no other reason than to have a couple of years worth of jobs programs to put men into useful and paying work – and keep them off the streets while doing so. There’s not much that beats a real pay day at the end of the week to improve one’s attitude.
It sounds like the foreign Jihadis are in the process of being separated from their local allies, isolated, and eliminated. I’m strangely not broken up by the prospect.
Did not Assad the Younger attempt to reset Syria’s relationship with the West post 9-11 ? It seems I remember the Syrian Government was very helpful in exposing & stopping some AQ plots in Germany .