Roll them up like a window shade …

Terrain in Idlib

"Amid ongoing offensive operations by the Syrian Arab Army and allied paramilitary groups against Islamist militias in the southern countryside of Aleppo province, elite troops have taken control of yet another town as they eye-out a possible advance towards the rebel stronghold of Al-Eis.

Military-affiliated sources report that forces of the Syrian Army’s Republican Guard have seized from armed rebel groups the town of Tal Mamu in the last hour after kicking-off another day off offensive operations in southern Idlib."  AMN


 IMO the correct move by the Syrians just now is to turn right with their main forces and roll up the jihadis who are now facing east south of Aleppo City.  This should collapse the whole jihadi force west of Khanassar and south of Aleppo City and lead to a rapid liberation of the province.  Screening forces should be left to "cover" Saraqib and the left flank SE of Saraqib.  I have looked at the hill at Al-Eis just north of the town of the same name and it does not seem to be a great obstacle.  It can be heavily bombarded with preparatory aerial fires and then attacked from several directions by mobile forces.

The Turks are there?  This would be a good opportunity to force them to back away.  pl



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34 Responses to Roll them up like a window shade …

  1. robt willmann says:

    A Russian Su-25 airplane was shot down over Idlib province today (3 February). The stories say that the pilot successfully ejected but was killed by opposition forces on the ground. The plane may have been hit by a Manpad weapon–

  2. Frank says:

    Anybody with any thoughts on whether this successful use of Manpads by the jihadis will have any influence on Russian targeting and rules of engagement?

  3. turcopolier says:

    I guess I am “anybody.” MANPADS are intended to stop low level attacks on infantry. They have some effect but: the warheads are small, there are many countermeasures and they generally do not stop air attacks on infantry. pl

  4. The problem with this attack is that it is alleged that it came from US-supported Free Syrian Army forces. Or at least that they filmed the shootdown. Where the plane came down was allegedly in Al Nusra territory.
    When the US began supplying insurgents with MANPADs, Russia complained that it would be a threat to Russian Aerospace forces.
    Well, looks like the Russians were right. Although allegedly the plane was also hit by antiaircraft cannon fire.
    I can’t predict what Putin will do about this. A single incident might not be enough for him to make any serious adjustments to his plans, as was the Turkish shootdown earlier. He might well right it off as part of the consequences of war.
    Or he might well order the heavy aerial bombardment of that insurgent group. The Russians have made efforts to “avenge” their forces when attacked before. Sending a warning to the US by such a move might also be a motivation.
    All of which depends on whether the reports are accurate and how much the Russians know for sure.

  5. JohnB says:

    The Jihadi’s got lucky but it looks like they’re no longer with us now.

  6. Christian Chuba says:

    According to Southfront, it was a U.S. backed group, Jaysh al-Nasir, that shot down the Russian jet.
    It was sickening seeing how this was reported on FOX, after the host noted that the Jet crashed in a town held by an Al Qaeda affiliate and was killed by the group on the ground (he gave the rebel version of the account), he sarcastically noted that according to the Russians, anyone who opposes Assad is a terrorist. This is just another example of how the MSM refuses to acknowledge the relationship between the groups our CIA support(-s)(-ed) and the head choppers we officially label terrorists.
    FOX is willing to acknowledge that a secret FISA program can be abused by govt agencies but secret programs overseas? Never.

  7. EEngineer says:

    “FOX is willing to acknowledge that a secret FISA program can be abused by govt agencies but secret programs overseas? Never.”
    This is the essence of the problem. There is no MSM outlet in the US that even close to straight across the board. Lies, truths, and omissions are chosen buffet style by each to suit their particular narrative. In the case of news about overseas doings, all you get are different lies, distortions, or outright propaganda. If one has never lived overseas, one has little chance to pick up on that fact unless one is curious. A rare trait.
    I operate on the premise that a fair fraction of the ruling class see Orwell’s “1984” as an instruction manual rather than a warning. Voltaire had it right: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities”. I worry that we are approaching an event horizon where the generation coming into power no longer even realize that much of what they believe is absurd. Idiocracy awaits…

  8. Henshaw says:

    The group that launched the recent attack on Russia’s Hmeimim Air Base received very specific treatment- they were monitored, pursued and eliminated. Probably a guide to what these MANPAD-wielders can expect.

  9. Anna says:

    The deaths are the inevitable consequence of Oded Yinon plan — exactly as the plan predicts. By the way, who is the maker of the Manpads and how the US-supported “moderate” jihadists have got them? Who are those idiots that armed the radical jihadists in Syria? Someone just cannot wait to see a major conflagration in the Middle East and beyond. The comment section on Truthdig presents several celebratory posts. Guess that the Lobby/Knesset and the obedient MSM are satisfied with the pilot’s death.

  10. turcopolier says:

    Anna et al
    I don’t know why you all are so obsessed with MANPADS. They are in no sense a game changer. More of a nuisance than anything else. As to their availability, all kinds of equipment is available on the grey and black arms markets. pl

  11. RT America is reporting that Russia has responded with precision airstrikes in the area and claims 30 terrorists killed.
    At least 30 terrorists killed as Russia responds to downing of Su-25 fighter jet
    Includes footage of the plane’s downing.

  12. kooshy says:

    Colonel, sir what about security of passenger planes, that is worrisome.

  13. Peter in Toronto says:

    Pilot was flying low and slow, and these are areas of “moderate” forces, so they are well stocked on covertly supplied Bulgarian clones of Soviet weapons. The Russians seem to have gotten operationally sloppy with their strike missions, or their primitive weapons force them to lower altitudes.
    Tangentially related, it seems the Turks have just officially announced victory and a conclusion to their operation whose objective, was apparently, securing 2-3 hamlets on the peripheries of the Afrin and losing some armored vehicles in spectacular fireballs… In any case, the rate of collapse of the moderate Jihadists in Idlib probably compelled them to relocate the armed bandits.
    This make’s the Colonels suggestion to swing right and north more urgent than ever. The roving Jihadist bandits will surely be re-deployed to Idlib.

  14. GeneO says:

    Al-Eis should be the next target IMO. If the Turks get in the way then ‘Xin Loi’.
    However there are some indications it may wait until the NE Hama pocket of ISIS is taken. Al Alam news is opining that Idlib province will wait “Until the surrounded pocket which contains ISIS gangs is liberated & until the body of the Russian pilot is delivered to Russia. Then the battle of Idlib will start”.
    It could be true or it could be maskirovka to disguise the point of attack.
    Kooshy’s comment about passenger plane takedown by MANPADS is on point. Not many airlines still have service in and out of Damascus International, and they shut down there intermittently due to security threats. Both HTS (formerly Nusra Front) and Jaysh al-Nasr probably have access to Russian-made SA-24 Needle (Igla-S) MANPADS that were looted from the Air Defence Base at Bala al-Kadim village in east Ghouta circa 2012. Or SA-24s looted from Libyan warehouses in 2011. The SA-24 has a better range than the US made Stinger (6 kilometers max vs 4.5) and reportedly a more versatile fuze, a more sensitive seeker, and improved resistance to the latest countermeasures.

  15. Bandolero says:

    I agree that MANPADS became quite a buzzword. Whether they are available on the black market or not, I don’t know.
    But I know, that the group claiming repsonsibility for this SU-25 downing, Jaish Al Nasr, was reported about two years ago to have received ATGMs from the US-led “operations room” in Turkey. I found that especially disturbing because Jaish Al Nasr (JaN) seemed to be a close copy of Jabhat Al Nusra (JaN), if not being really identical, with the only difference that Jaish Al Nasr was sporting FSA flags. From what I saw, Jaish Al Nasr did not only fight together with Jabhat Al Nusra in battles in th e same trenches, but they even spread the very same video propaganda material of these battles, with the sole difference being that Jaish Al Nasr branded it with an FSA flag logo while Nusra branded it with their Al Qaeda style HTS logo.
    RT reported today that – based on a Russian MoD statement – the SU-25 “was probably shot down by MANPAD.” But I think the SU-25 may also as well have been hit by an ATGM. From what I earlier heard of combat in Syria ATGM can be used to shoot down low and slow flying planes. Such close air support missions are typical for the SU-25.
    That brings me to Turkey. Turkey reported today to have lost eight soldiers in it’s Afrin operation, and apparently five of them due to a hit of a Turkish tank or other armored vehicle with an ATGM.
    So the real military problem in Syria I suspect is not MANPADS, but that various kind of militants got quite a lot of ATGMs. I don’t think that’s big news, as we have seen ATGMs in recent years a lot of times in Syria. The military losses today likely just underscore what an effective (and dangerous) type of weapon modern (fire and forget) ATGMs can be. Regarding landing and starting of civilian planes I also would be surprised if the threat of ATGMs and MANPADS would be much different.

  16. aleksandar says:

    Seems that a truce has began this night.
    As they have done previously TF will ( or should )
    1 – Stop offensive
    2 – Set up defence lines
    3 – Prepare mobile defense COA
    4 – Wait for djihadist counter-offensive ( they will not respect the truce )
    5 – Monitor and destruct all djihadist convoys heading to Saraqib
    6 – Kill as much as possible djihadists during counter-offensive.
    7 – Divert some amount of forces to clean ISIS north Hama pocket with Isis Hunters and NDF
    Some intels show that HTS has left some villages around shiite cities of Foua and Kafarya. Liberation of these two cities seems less urgent.
    According to russian MoD,overall djihadist manpower in Idleb is about 15 000.
    Not enough to control a 400 km front line.
    There are probably many place where djihadist defence lines are weak.
    SAA General Staff has two options
    a – Strike the head :Saraqib – Idleb.Risky and costly
    b – Open a new front elsewhere.So oblige HTS to move reinforcement in the open, go on attrition war with air strikes.And liberate more km² of syrian soil.( Jisr ash Shogur ? Qalaat al Madiq + Kafr Nabudah ? )
    Inputs welcomed.

  17. Eliot says:

    What does that say about the state of the Turkish Army?
    – Eliot

  18. turcopolier says:

    “Whether they are available on the black market or not, I don’t know.” I know. Among the various activities that I supervised was the purchase of foreign military materiel for various DoD purposes. pl

  19. turcopolier says:

    “Al-Eis should be the next target IMO. If the Turks get in the way then ‘Xin Loi’. There are some indications it may wait until the NE Hama pocket of ISIS is taken.” It seems that an operation to eliminate the surrounded eastern pocket north of Judaydah and the main operation to hopefully take Al-Eis and roll up the flank of the jihadis on the way there will be attempted simultaneously. The SAA must believe they are strong enough to do this. BTW for the young folks here “Xin Loi” means something like “Sorry about that” in Vietnamese. pl

  20. John_Frank says:

    Tangentially related, it seems the Turks have just officially announced victory and a conclusion to their operation whose objective, was apparently, securing 2-3 hamlets on the peripheries of the Afrin and losing some armored vehicles in spectacular fireballs…
    While the people in Afrin wish that were true, with respect there is no evidence that the Turkish military has ended Operation Olive Branch.
    About three hours ago Kurdistan 24 English posted the following tweet:
    #HappeningNow: #Turkey transports additional Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters to #Afrin in northeastern Syria through Turkey’s southern Kilis border town. #Syria #TwitterKurds
    The posted video shows buses filled with fighters, as well as flat bed trucks carrying the vehicles the fighters will use, going to the front.

  21. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Eliot, Peter;
    Try and read multiple sources.
    Only fools would enter battle assuming a “cakewalk”, and the distribution of fools within media and government worldwide seems to be quite uniform. Few folks who have seen an elephant of some sort up close are guilty of such rhetoric.
    The only way to stop TSK is to work through Russia and SAA using negotiations. Losing a tank here and there is a pain for us, but will not change much. Try and buy tayyip; a much simpler solution.
    Given some of the “civilians” we catch, the number of civilian casualties might increase dramatically.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  22. John_Frank says:

    Fyi while the Syrian Arab Army and allied paramilitary militias may have pivoted, after leaving a screening force to cover their flank, according to a tweet posted about an hour ago by @CivilWarMap:
    Jihadist forces started a counteroffensive against the Syrian Arab Army in #Idlib governorate
    A number of other sources have also been reporting the start of a counteroffensive by a number of jihadist militias within the last two hours or so.
    The militias include forces aligned with the Turkistan Islamic Party, as well as Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (which is affiliated with al Qaeda), with the command center or operation room for the Turkish backed militias involved in the counteroffensive called “Repel the Invaders” in English.
    The name of the new counter offensive, as translated into English is “They will not be harmed by those who betrayed them.” Reports of early successes are being posted.
    The start of the counter-offensive follows news that broke about a day ago of a new
    In addition to sources like @CivilWarMap, @StrategicNews1 and @EasternMediafax, a number of people are tracking this counter-offensive on twitter, including @IvanSidorenko1, @MrKyruer, @GeromanAT and @QalaatAlMudiq.
    Also, search the hashtags #TIP standing for Turkistan Islamic Party, #HTS standing for Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, #FSA standing for Free Syrian Army, #Idlib #Saraqib and #AbuDuhur for posts with additional information, including maps.
    To monitor the advances by the Syria Arab Army and aligned militias use the hash tags #SAA, #Hama #ISIS as well as #Hezbollah #Tigerforce #NDF #Fatmiyoun #IRGC and #QF
    A short time ago Al-Masdar News @TheArabSource also reported on the counter-offensive in this tweet
    Breaking: Islamist militias launch big counter-offensive against Syrian Army in east #Idlib, claim several gains #SAA #Syria

  23. John_Frank says:

    The start of the counter-offensive follows news that broke about a day ago of a new operation room being formed:
    #Breaking #Syria #Idlib
    Meanwhile, many #FSA factions in #Aleppo, Idlib and #Hama form a common operation room to repel #SAA soldiers.
    This new group includes most #Turkey-backed rebels.
    According to this tweet the FSA factions are:
    #Breaking #Syria #Idlib
    #FSA factions are:
    – Ahrar as Sham
    – Free Idlib Army
    – Nourredin Zenki
    – Elite Army
    – Faylaq al Sham
    – al Izza Army
    – Brigade 40
    – 1st Infantry Division
    – Jaish al Ahrar
    – Jaish Nasr
    – 2nd Army

  24. Grazhdanochka says:

    People are often mistaken by Myths of Afghanistan and ‘Charlie Wilsons’, The US Aid in MANPAD was not instrumental in affecting Soviet War in Afghanistan as suggested, indeed Automatic Cannons/Heavy Machine Guns inflicted more Damages overall….
    Stinger forced changes in Tactics and Operational Approach but it was soon counted and again, limited effectiveness… That said – Right Time, Place and against unsuspecting Target it may prove very unpleasant surprise (Few Aircraft indeed lost in Chechnya in 90s/00s to such, including at least couple Examples – ‘Stingers’ not ex Soviet Stock…)
    But your Post is absolutely correct…

  25. Reggie says:

    More info on the SU-25 downing:
    The Tiger Forces, of the Syrian Army have released a message, stating that they will avenge his killing.
    Russian pilot yells “This is for our guys!” as he blows himself up – VIDEO
    “The terrorists surrounded the pilot when he blew himself up with a grenade, trying to take as many enemies with him as possible.”
    I tip my cap to the brave man, RIP.

  26. SAC Brat says:

    Below is a link to an example of a larger airliner being hit by a small surface-to-air missile. It was a DHL Airbus A300B4-200F cargo plane. Note that the missile did not damage the engine. An A300 is an older design compared to newer aircraft with fly-by-wire flight controls.

  27. Barbara Ann says:

    Oh good, a counter offensive. That should save Roman Filipov’s comrades some flight time.

  28. turcopolier says:

    Barbara Ann
    He should get whatever the Russian equivalent is of the MoH. pl

  29. Grazhdanochka says:

    Hero of Russia award is given out like Iron Cross of Germany I guess….
    These are very different Distinctions from MoH in USA…..
    I personally prefer these to regard – Brass can be awarded and decorated in regard that is equal to Personal Valor by merit of Achivement….
    The same award can be given by personal Glory, achievement…. This Pilot deserves an award – I do not know if Hero of Russia – But certainly some….
    Seeing this cut at my Heart severely… Still it is different to someone who either way is deciding Tide of Battle…. (If he were shot down defending an Aircrash, or lost Syrian Unit it would be maybe different matter)
    Still…. The man did his Duties and is and will be loved for it…. Most the Boys of my Generation will understand it and the due respect will be given by those most Important….

  30. John_Frank says:

    Updates: According to brief reports posted by a number of people and organizations
    Posts by @WaelAlHussaini:
    About 5 hours ago – #HTS stopped their attack near Abu Duhur, and they are blaming #RuAF of bombing them heavily.
    About 2 hours ago – #HTS are claiming that the #RuAF #SyAAF targeted Saraqib with a chemical ammunitions
    Jihadists are seeking after Ivanka Trump attention.
    Khan Shaykhun Vol.2
    In turn, that tweet links to a post by @RiamDalati
    Aftermath of chlorine barrel bombs dropped over #Saraqeb tonight
    #Idlib (H/T Mo Karkas)
    (Do not shoot the messenger.)
    According to a post by Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC) @VDC_Syria:
    Al Ma’ra Central Hospital, in #Idlib, is now out of service, after being targeted by six air strikes. Al Ma’ra Hospital is one of the largest hospitals in the southern countryside of #Idlib and the norhern countryside of #Hama. #Syria #EndIndiscrminateAttacks
    Also, there are reports of very heavy bombing of Idlib and in particular the areas under the control of the Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, who claimed responsibility for shooting down the Russian jet bomber. It is being reported the Russian pilot killed himself to avoid being captured by the jihadists.
    @abdellatif_adel #Russian jets intensified their raids on rebel-held towns and cities in #Syria’s northern #Idlib province on Sunday night, a day after rebels shot down a Russian warplane and killed its pilot.
    Presumably in response to the earlier counter-offensive:
    Breaking: Syrian Army launches night assault to capture two towns in Idlib
    “The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched a surprise assault in the Idlib Governorate, tonight, targeting two towns near the western axis of Abu Dhuhour city.
    Led by the Republicans Guard and some units of the Tiger Forces, the Syrian Army attacked Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham’s positions at the towns of Tal Sultan and Al-Mushayrifah.
    According to a military source in Hama, the Syrian Army took control of Tal Sultan and Al-Mushayrifah after a short battle with Hay’at Tahrir Al-Sham and the Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP).
    The source added that more than 50 jihadists were killed in both towns, as Russian airstrikes and Syrian Army missiles hammered the militants.”
    Also, despite claims that Erdogan made to Macron earlier today about Operation Olive Branch not being an invasion of Afrin canton, in addition to the video posted earlier, open source confirmation is emerging that Turkey is relying on jihadists aligned with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (Al Qaeda) as part of the attack.

  31. John_Frank says:

    As to the alleged chemical weapons attack, the video which is now circulating, was initially posted by the White Helmets
    #Saraqeb @SyriaCivilDef teams respond to an attack with chlorine gas. 9 injured including 3 White Helmet volunteers. Attacks like this, in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, happen with impunity. @BBCWorld @cnnbrk
    Also, there are some very gruesome videos circulating which purport to show the destruction after the air strikes which put Al Ma’ra Central Hospital out of commission.
    While reports by the Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC) are reliable, no independent verification of the videos. A photo has been posted by Syrian Network for Human Rights:
    Image of premature babies during evacuation from Ma’aret al Nu’man Central Hospital in #MaaretAlNuman city in #Idlib due to #RussianForces shelling, Feb 4 #Syria …

  32. turcopolier says:

    In re the White Helmets propaganda production, we will now see if Trump is as gullible and other the thumb of Ivanka and Mattis as we have thought likely. pl

  33. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    The Borg seems to be losing, and losing big, in Syria; the latest propaganda attempts in shaping the public discourse signals desperation. Do you expect a Hail Mary pass, and if so what might it be? I am getting really worried that a major flare-up is in the offing.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  34. Reports today that Russia has ordered its airforce to fly higher in areas where there might be MANPADS. Russias has already counterstruck the area with cruise missiles allegedly.
    So that’s probably the end of that except Russia is also bitching to the US about supplying MANPADS to terrorists.
    There may be many sources on the black market for such weapons – but the question should always be: who paid for them and supported the logistics movement to deliver them? The CIA doesn’t have to deliver them directly from a US warehouse to be responsible.

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