Syria – 30 July 2016


"Despite several rebel attempts at re-opening their last Aleppo supply road and repelling government forces, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) was able to capture the entire Bani Zaid district after a string of recent advances near the Castello road.

Just hours later, the SAA also took control of the Ashrafiyah district, marking a total collapse of rebel groups in northern Aleppo.

Meanwhile, the YPG attacked insurgents at the Bani Zaid district from its western flank as well as taking control of the Youth Housing Project, a site formerly used by Islamist rebels to shell the Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsoud.

With the SAA and YPG teaming up on the jihadists in Aleppo, it now seems almost impossible for rebel forces to avoid a full-blown defeat in the battle for Syria’s largest city, often dubbed ‘the mother of all battles’.

Next, government troops will likely try to secure the Castello road and provide civilians a safe way to exit rebel-held districts in East Aleppo."  Al Masdar News


"Jaish al-Fatah is withdrawing much of its fighting force from the Latakia governorate in a last-ditch effort to turn the tables on the Syrian Arab Army in Aleppo, the Al-Masdar Al-‘Arabi information website reported on Friday. Al-Masdar Al-‘Arabi claim that these reports are ‘very credible’.

Islamist reinforcements were observed arriving in both western and southern Aleppo. Jaish al-Fatah is going to launch at least one major offensive on government positions in the province in the very near future, and hopes not only to relieve distressed and besieged rebels in Aleppo, but also to cut off the Syrian Arab Army’s supply lines to the governorate’s provincial capital.

On the other hand, the redeployment of the rebels significantly weakens their Latakia frontline, endangering Idlib from its western flank.

At the same time, if the Syrian Arab Army takes control of the city of Aleppo, the Idlib province will be its next target. The Jaish al-Fatah leadership is well aware of this threat of the existential survival of the Islamist coalition."  South Front


"At least 75 families have been transferred from the besieged neighborhoods of east Aleppo to the government controlled districts in the west, a local military source told Al-Masdar on Saturday.

The rescued families will be provided shelter and necessities by the government and Russian forces, while the latter continue to transfer people from east Aleppo.

Most of these civilians were living under the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) rule near the Bani Za’id District before the aforementioned area was captured by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) on Wednesday."  Al Masdar News


For those of you who are interested in such things I offer the following observations concerning today's Syrian situation.

The R+6 encirclement of East Aleppo grows ever more solid.  All counter-attacks intended to break the cordon have failed.   South Front thinks that the next SAA move will be to try to take Kafr Hamra just outside the encirclement to the NW.  Evidently the rebels have been using this place for firing positions for indirect harassing fire into the government and YPG south of Kafr Hamra.    It is easy to see why they would want to do that but they should expect this effort to be a focal point for more counter-attacks.  There will be other counter-attacks intended to break through to East Aleppo but Kafr Hamra is likely to be a main effort for the rebels.  In other reporting cited above it is noted that the rebels are pulling a lot of their men off the western Latakia front where they have been very engaged with R+6.  These are among the forces that will undoubtedly be thrown into counter-attacks at Aleppo City.  The decision on the part of the rebels to strip their western Latakia front is IMO indicative of rebel and/or Turkish belief that the outcome at Aleppo will be politically decisive in the outcome of the war especially in the context of the desperate internal situation now faced by Turkey. 

Surrenders of non-jihadi rebels now in the city are being facilitated by the government.  That is likely to remove many fighter from the contest.

The civilian population flow out of East Aleppo has begun and will probably grow larger and larger.  pl 

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56 Responses to Syria – 30 July 2016

  1. FB Ali says:

    It seems that the Gulfies have gotten angry with the US.
    Frequent reports (from Al Jazeera and the Syrian Observatory) are now appearing about Western airstrikes killing civilians.
    Previously it was only the Russians and Syrians who did that!

  2. Trey N says:

    Great news! And the sooner the battle for Aleppo is over the better.
    R+6 badly needs to free up major forces to clean out and reclaim eastern Syria before the Borg can sink a firm(er) foothold in that area. If Turkey really is pivoting from the Borg toward Russia — and that certainly appears to be what’s happening — then the liver-eaters’ supply lines should be/already are being cut by Turkey sealing its borders. Such a development would mean game, match and set for the R+6 and the end of the line for the Borg designs on Syria (and hopefully in Iraq, as well).
    There are signs that Erdogan is not only making peace with Russia, but that he may be returning all the way back to his former “zero problems with neighboring countries” foreign policy. Pray to God that’s true – it would be the best of all possible news for the beleaguered people of Syria and Iraq.

  3. Ghostship says:

    The Borg’s response:
    The Latest: US calls Syria safe passage in Aleppo ‘chilling’“>
    Behind paywall so go incognito in Chrome.
    American envoy Samantha Power tweeted @AmbassadorPower that the “chilling letter … warns Syrians to leave E Aleppo & entrust lives to gov that’s bombed & starved them.”
    What is the USG doing in Manbij? Dropping flowers on Syrians? Is that woman stupid?
    As for Kerry, he didn’t want to be left out:
    U.S. worries Russian humanitarian operation in Syria may be ‘ruse’
    The White House also voiced its doubts. “Given their record on this, we’re skeptical, to say the least,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said at a news briefing.

  4. Trey N says:

    Wonder what the Borgista media will do/say when the R+6 have completely eradicated the liver-eaters from Syria (and then Iraq, hopefully).
    I don’t they’ll even try to spin such an utter debacle for themselves. Get ready for the deafening din of — crickets chirping….
    (And what a sweet sound that will be!)

  5. Barish says:

    b named that kind of two-faced US-response rather nicely: “Concern Trolls”
    Ultimately, Power, Kerry or whoever won’t be able to stop people residing there from voting with their feet.

  6. BraveNewWorld says:

    There are reports of a large reconciliation meeting happening way down in Daraa down by the Israeli border. Combine that with some militant groups reconciling in Aleppo and it may be a sign that the opposition is starting to read the writing on the wall.

  7. Hank says:

    Hang on ISIS and other jihadis, Hillary has promised full support for your jihad and turning another country into a dysfunctional, land of horrors. And if this means shooting down Russian jets and attacking Russia militarily and otherwise, so be it. Can you imagine the Syrian Christian father who wakes up each morning in Damascus and looks at his beautiful young daughter and is scared to death about Hillary becoming U.S. President and the fate of his daughter? And the one angel in his life sits in Moscow and is called Hitler by this same woman who might become U.S. President.
    Hillary Clinton will reset Syria policy against ‘murderous’ Assad regime

  8. b says:

    We have talked here about lack of soldiers in the Syrian government alliance.
    But the movement of Jihadi forces from Latakia to relief Aleppo points to a severe lack of forces on their side.

    There is an *unconfirmed* rumor coming from the Russian Defense Ministry that ALL weapon supplies from outside Syria to the rebels have stopped. Obama/Kerry admitting defeat?

    Al-Qaeda in Syria tried a sham rebranding by allegedly cutting ties from Al Qaeda central. It didn’t cut ties and did not end its Bayah to AQ central.
    Instead a long term AQ central dude was shown in the video announcement next to AQ Syria chief. Elijah Magnier interprets the various AQ writings on this well orchestrate “cutting ties” sham very different than the usual MSM rags.
    “It’s not Nusra moving away from AQ central but AQ central moving into Nusra” (ar)
    I though about this all day and think he is right.

  9. turcopolier says:

    If Obama/Kerry are accepting defeat they will face resistance from within both the Democratic and Republican wings of the Borg. These creatures dishonor my country with their thinly disguised mindless jingoism and imperial dream. They will not give up easily. One of the worst is Joe Scarborough, a man whom Zbig Brzezinski told to his face on his morning travesty that he was “one of the shallowest men I have ever met.” It must be difficult for the old man to accept the idea that his beautiful but limited daughter has taken up with a person like Scarborough. pl

  10. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I have posted a link to a new study in Nature regarding temperature changes in Antarctic on the place-holder thread.

  11. Trey N says:

    “These creatures dishonor my country”
    They certainly do, Colonel, but it’s far worse than that — they threaten our very existence with their insane provocations of nuclear powers Russia and China. Having NATO play a game of chicken on Russia’s borders while having the USN do the same in the South China Sea is, in fact, beyond insane.
    What can these lunatics possibly be thinking? That if they can’t rule the world, they’d rather destroy it? Is this a stupid bluff a la the Nixon/Kissinger ploy to North Vietnam: “We’re just crazy enough to nuke you if we don’t get our way!”? Or what???

  12. Wonduk says:

    b, you and Mr. Magnier are likely right. AQ global had been moving into Syria since some time. Back to roots of some of their co-founders from al-Talia al-Muqatila formerly of the Syrian Brotherhood (Abu Musab al-Suri, Abu Firas). Zawahiri already in 2013 and ’14 was guiding AQAP into a more localised approach. And overall his loyalty goes to the Taliban Amir al-Muminin Mawlawi Haibatullah Akhundzada. Makes him maybe useful and harmless in the eyes of some…
    Some people had not gotten the memo in time. An Uzbek group (Katiba Imam Bukhari) in Syria recently ‘pledged’ to Haibatullah with a video. (

  13. Ex-PFC Chuck says:

    It’s an appropriate term, but it’s not original with b.

  14. JohnsonR says:

    Such a development would mean game, match and set for the R+6 and the end of the line for the Borg designs on Syria (and hopefully in Iraq, as well).
    It would be nice to think so, and Turkey giving up will certainly end the game as it has been played to date, but there are still significant players in the region who are not yet ready to give up on their determination to see Assad overthrown or damaged as much as possible – the Gulf sunni despots and Israel. With a potential Clinton regime coming in at the end of the year openly planning to re-stimulate the regime change effort, we could see some serious leaning on Jordan to replace Turkey and a refocusing of interference to the south and east.
    Presumably there will need to be endless caterwauling about “Assad regime atrocities” (we are already seeing that starting from the R2P types) and an attempt to get a “no fly zone” in the south. It doesn’t look possible now, but with a Clinton regime in place and a ton of money and propaganda pumped in, things might look very different. A heated up Israeli confrontation with Hezbollah might help to generate the right kind of hysteria.
    After all, as we know they aren’t limited by reality. They’re an empire, and they make their own reality.

  15. Bandolero says:

    I doubt that many civilians will “flow out of East Aleppo” because I don’t believe that there are many civilians left there. Have a look yourself. Vice reported in a documentation East Aleppo being a ghost town in fall 2014:
    Guardian journo Martin Chulov reported from East Aleppo in December 2014 “Estimate 50,000 civilians max still in opposition half” and added “50k is generous, by the way.”
    Now media are telling that 250k to 400k people/civilians are in East Aleppo. I am highly skeptical of that claim. If Chulov was right in 2014/2015 about 50 civs, where are the news about a huge wave of migration towards rebel-held Aleppo after that? There were none. It was always exodus reported.
    And what I have seen in “opposition” videos from East Aleppo during the last 2 years were a largely empty streets. When the army took control of the district Bani Zaid, I didn’t see civs there, just empty buildings. I won’t wonder if that is quite similar in other rebel-held districts. The people of East Aleppo voted with their feet against the rebels, ISIS and Al Qaeda. Those who are left there seem to be hardly more than “rebels” and friends and family. Rebels have looted all industry and business, so there is nothing to work and live from for civs not directly aligned with rebels in East Aleppo.
    But I understand very well why people would want to say that there are many more civs in East Aleppo. Reasons are plenty. Humanitarian aid is calculated per head, so more people menas more aid. That means those who receive the aid have an incentive to make numbers of people in need larger. I find it interesting that the “local council of (rebel-held districts in) Aleppo city” estimates the number of people there at 400k and he head of the council, Brita Hagi Hasan, said 10 days ago:
    “… We stored food supplies, flour and fuel as per our capacities. We have a stock of food supplies to last us for a certain period that I cannot disclose, but it is reassuring. …”
    Also, other parties may have political interests in spreading numbers of civs in East Aleppo bigger than they really are. Just imagine the common estimated number of civs in East Aleppo would be just 10k. In that case there would be no reason to even discuss the Aleppo situation at length in Geneva or the Security Council anymore. Aleppo would be all but done.
    If I’m right and the real numbers of people in East Aleppo are much smaller than the numbers currently circulating we may soon witness a sudden collapse of all rebel-held East Aleppo, just as surprising as sudden collapse of rebels in Bani Zaid.

  16. Sam Peralta says:

    I found this fascinating. The foreign jihadis in Syria are fighting primarily to achieve personal objectives, while the Syrian ones apparently have some political/social objectives.
    These wars in that sense are not the traditional liberation movements and guerilla movements that we have seen in the past. What are the implications of this kind of nihilism? How do we prevent these people from inflicting harm on our societies?

  17. Ghostship says:

    “Obama/Kerry admitting defeat?”
    Maybe not. Just a guess but maybe they have finally confronted what will come after them and have decided to end the conflict before HRC and her team can come to power. They can’t be too obvious about how they do it as that would be seen as being disloyal to HRC, but turning off the weapons flow to the rebels/terrorists would probably be the least problematic way since most of it is clandestine. Additionally, if Syria is off the table, voters who are terrified enough by HRC’s foreign policy madness to vote Trump might return to the Democratic fold, although there’s always a worry that she might restart this Syrian mischief after she’s elected.

  18. robt willmann says:

    There is a report/rumor that Turkey has blocked off the roads in and out of the Incirlik airbase there with its U.S. personnel. I do not know if it is true, as of now (Saturday, 30 July).

  19. Amir says:

    1,000s Turkish forces surround NATO’s Incirlik air base for ‘inspection’ amid rumors of coup attempt:
    Anti-US rally staged at NATO Incirlik air base in Turkey (VIDEO, PHOTOS):
    Thousands protest outside U.S. base in Turkey:

  20. Trey N says:

    Israel has had a rapprochement with Turkey lately, as well as playing footsie with Russia. The King of Jordan is no fool. Remember how he closed his borders to obviously open aid to the Saudi stooges when the Russians swooped into Syria last fall — he recognized the changed reality immediately.
    Even if the evil Borg Queen manages to steal the election, it will be 6 months from now before she takes office.
    There is no way in hell the liver-eaters will last 6 months if their supply lines thru Turkey are cut today.
    Hitlery and her neocons may be insane enough to try and invade Syria with US military forces next year, but their usual preferred option of using jihadists as their cats paw will be off the table by then. So will the US boots option, in all likelihood — if Obama couldn’t do it in 2013, there is almost no way Hitlery can pull it off in 1017.
    Short of a game-changing miracle for the liver eaters, the end is mighty close at hand for them if Erdogan is indeed desperate enough to meet Russia’s demands for reconciliation and closes Turkey’s borders to the jihadists.

  21. FNG Frank says:

    Yeah, a clusterf*ck is developing in Turkey. Looks like more world events conspiring to elect Trump. But hey, this perfumed prince has an alibi. He was drinking with Geraldo:
    Geraldo Vouches for US General Accused of Plotting Failed Turkish Coup
    I’m sold on Trump, but at this point I’ll settle for #Make America Half-Way Respectable Again.

  22. elaine says:

    Yahoo news is reporting that Military Times is reporting thousands of Turks
    burning U.S. flags & protesting outside of Incirlik base. I don’t subscribe
    to Military Times & had a difficult time posting a link.

  23. Picking up on what Ghostship said, Prof Stephen Cohen said his sources had told him Obama was very concerned about his ‘legacy’ and hence wanted to resolve Syria peacefully.
    No doubt he’s being opposed by various vested interests.
    The end result is a sort of splintered US foreign policy which the sitting president attempts to present as an internally consistent whole.
    In reality, the whole may or may not be unified behind the overtures of the part.
    So when the Russia led coalition considers the possible spectre of a hawkish Clinton presidency, and the inscrutability of US diplomatic assurances, the imperative is to irreversibly align the facts on the ground in Assad’s favour before November.

  24. Poul says:

    Population map of Aleppo based on OCHA(Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)data. It’s pretty clear that the government control part has most of the civilian population remaining.

  25. Ingolf says:

    Some months ago, Russia’s program working with local communities in Syria was briefly mentioned here as a good example of how they were willing to get down into the nitty-gritty.
    I’ve been following their progress (at the MFA’s twitter feed) and things really seem to be accelerating. Three months ago, truce agreements had been signed with representatives of 83 inhabited areas. Two months ago, 128. End of last month 170 and, as of yesterday, 310, with nine signed on the day (five in al-Suwayda, three in Latakia and one in Homs).
    Some here will no doubt have a far better sense of what this means in detail but it does seem like very good news.

  26. turcopolier says:

    Looks like the perhaps climactic jihadi counter-attacks have begun at Aleppo up around the Castello Roadblock and in the SW perimeter of the government forces defending west Aleppo City. If these fail with a great loss of personnel, this may well be the last big effort the non-IS rebels can mount against the encirclement. In re the actual population in rebel east Aleppo. I don’t know but am sure interested to the answer as to how many there are. One of my “wonderments” about the situation is the apparent absence of IS pressure against the east side of the government encirclement at Aleppo City. At present this can be attributed in part to the commitment of IS forces at Manbij, but does that explain the whole phenomenon? Lastly, if there are a lot of prisoners taken at Aleppo, what to do with them? One thought would be to seek to spread the non-jihadis around in SAA and allied units where they can be supervised closely. At the same time the non-IS jihadis might be formed into auxiliary units with small arms and committed against IS (their enemies) in appropriately difficult situations. IMO if you do that the presence of a lot of government firepower on the start line of the attack would be good idea. pl

  27. Haralambos says:

    IMHO, this might relevant in regard to Turkey at present:

  28. FB Ali says:

    I think what the Turks are alleging against Gen Campbell is that he plotted with Turkish military officers in Afghanistan to prepare the coup.
    Whatever the truth of that may be, in view of the fairly large-scale intelligence presence inside Turkey, that foreign deployment would have been a good place in which to plot a military coup.
    If there is an American hand in such preparations, Afghanistan would be one of the likely places in which to suspect its presence.

  29. Rebels reporting they have mobilized over 5,000 dismemberment enthusiasts for East Aleppo assault. Boasting govt perimeter will crack presently. They’re burning tyres everywhere to try and block visibility for warplanes. Nonetheless, I expect we shall see a spike in SAAF and RuAF sortie generation.
    I get the impression of desperation from the rebel side, but I also recall loyalists units in the eastern part of Aleppo lost ground when they came under pressure before the renewed tiger force backed offensive to the north.

  30. FB Ali says:

    Yes, the Russians are doing more than just bombing jihadis and providing arms and training to the Syrian government.
    As with so much else of their intervention, they are displaying wisdom in keeping in mind the longer-term results of military action, and consolidating these as they go along.

  31. Chris Chuba says:

    Unfortunately, by now it is well established that the U.S. print can cable news is 100% unreliable on these matters. That the U.S. cable and print will just echo what the State Dept. and the BORG collective says.
    This has been documented by Stephen Kinzer of the Boston Globe, Obama’s Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, and others. The U.S. western MSM have been stripped of their foreign correspondents. We might as well be reading Pravda circa 1957.

  32. Thomas says:

    “What can these lunatics possibly be thinking? That if they can’t rule the world, they’d rather destroy it?”

  33. BraveNewWorld says:

    As almost every Islamist group in Northern Syria from Latakia to Deir Ezzor is involved in the new battle to break the siege of Aleppo I have to agree that this is a defining moment.
    Even if the Islamists aren’t completely broken their narrative is going to be unsustainable. If they lose this battle how do they claim that the next one will be even bigger and more effective? They already have every one they can possibly bring there. It is going to look like they are just throwing meat in the grinder ala WWI. And if they sent this many, it is a clear indication of how important the battle is.
    For sure there are hard core believers who are looking at the after life as a good deal tthat will keep going till they are dead. But the not so committed who may have been going along to get along or just aren’t so sure they want to die just yet will surely have a moment of pause if they can’t break the siege.

  34. different clue says:

    Trey N,
    That means the R + 6 have 6 months to get the rebellion so irreversibly destroyed all over Syria that Clinton will have no stub left to build back out from if she gets the Presidency. Do the R + 6 understand themselves to be racing the 6-month clock? If so, can they focus on the most important dominoes ( whichever those are) and satisfice between “hurrying up” to get the job done and going slow enough to get the job done right the first time because there will be no time left to redo the job a second time?
    As William S. Burroughs once said: ” Take your time, kid. ( How fast can you take your time, kid?” )

  35. different clue says:

    Sam Peralta,
    We can prevent these nihilists from inflicting harm on our societies by killing each and every last one of them in Syria so they are not alive to return to our societies. One wonders if the RussiaGov and the ChinaGov see it that way?
    Ideally for the people of Syria, the rebellion would be crushed and erased as fast as possible, at the price of permitting some jihadis to survive. In that scenario , it would be “second best ideal” to at least catch and kill every single foreign jihadi in Syria and let precisely zero of them survive , if possible. A way to do that might be to seal the borders against anyone leaving, and once the border was sealed, and total government control achieved within the country, then the Syrians still in-country might well be willing to finger every foreign jihadi trying to hide and evade detection among the Syrians. Perhaps if the government were to give aid and house-rebuilding priority to those Syrians who deliver-up provable foreigners among them to the government.
    The most perfect ideal outcome would be if a small part of the most worthless desert of Syria and Iraq could be cordon-sanitaired off and hermetically sealed, and ISIS allowed to fight on strictly within that area, and every foreign jihadi-wannabe who wants to fight for ISIS would be allowed to get into the ISIS reservation so that they were all concentrated inside it. And once it was very clear that no more foreign volunteers were going to keep arriving and entering the ISIS reservation . . . at that point kill every foreigner within the ISIS reservation by whatever means convenient. But the risk of permitting an ISIS reservation to exist is that it might attempt breakouts or atrocities withIN liberated Syria, and the SyriaGov might not want to take any trace of that kind of risk. And that would be understandable.

  36. different clue says:

    robt willmann,
    How big an Ultra-Violence force would America have to bring in there by plane and helicopter gunship and etc. to intimidate the Turkish forces from responding, if such a thing is possible?
    If it is possible, would it make sense for America to do that and keep the base safe from Turkish attack just long enough to get all the A and H bombs out, and then dismantle and remove every single American-owned thing of value, and then destroy every single American-owned thing of value which can’t be removed, and then remove all Americans while departing? ( Of course, doing that would assure that Turkey would probably drop out of NATO. With any luck, such a dropping out would lead to NATO breaking up out of existence. The European powers who wanted some kind of natoid alliance to stay in existence could then form their own NEATO . . . stands for North East Atlantic Treaty Organization).

  37. michael brenner says:

    I, too, heard Cohen on the Batchelor show this Wednesday. The Addendum was that the Kerry initiative re. Syria, portrayed as an earnest of Obama’s desire to do some fence-mending with Putin, has been undercut by Carter et al by downscaling it to an invitation to Russian to join the American-led coalition. As usual, Obama can’t make up his mind – or, is of two minds each of which is feeble.
    There are some signs that Obama has given a flickering green light on the aggressive strategy toward Putin/Russia/Ukraine all along. They include: 1) the leader of the ‘war party’ actually is Joe Biden who speaks on a regular basis with our Ambassador in Kiev, to Poroshenko, and gave a pep talk to their Parliament a few months ago; 2) Obama’s own public remarks about Putin have been consistently disparaging to the point of insult; 3)the actions taken by NATO were under American initiative and of a kind that necessarily involve the White House. It is true that he permitted Kerry to approach Putin personally with the outline of a plan for some measure of cooperation in Syria, and he clearly doesn’t want a confrontation between now and January 22. But within days it was shot down publicly by Carter and others, and now is a dead letter.
    One hears that Putin has given up making sense of Obama whom he does not regard as a serious statesman. He treats him like an overgrown but immature adolescent who must be treated gingerly lest he do something self-destructive while tentatively encouraging any indications of adult thinking/behavior.

  38. Trey N says:

    Totally agree, the clock is ticking — very loudly.
    Looking back at how efficiently and effectively the Russian military intervened in Syria last fall, and how quickly they reversed the dire situation there, I’m pretty confident that they *can* accomplish all they need to do in the next six months.
    Whether they *will* or not is another question. One more inexplicable “truce” like this spring, and the whole situation in Syria will be completely FUBAR…..

  39. Trey N says:

    The old Soviet Pravda was a beacon of shining truth and veracity compared to the lamestream media in the West today.

  40. Trey N says:

    I like your ideas, especially having the locals finger the foreign mercenaries The only good mercenary is a dead mercenary, no matter who, what or where the bastard comes from — Chechnya, Libya, or the US, civilian or ex-military. Kill’em all without trial or mercy, wherever and whenever caught. There will never be peace in this world as long as despicable creatures who kill humans for money are allowed to live.

  41. turcopolier says:

    Trey N
    “The only good mercenary is a dead mercenary.” Does that extend to all the enlisted men of the FFL, or Steuben, Lafayette or the many foreign volunteers on both sides in the WBS? They were paid. pl

  42. Trey N says:

    Once you start splitting hairs about “freedom fighters” this and exceptions for that, you inevitably end up with “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.” Foreigners who kill for money are simply pirates who deserve the traditional fate of pirates when caught.
    Being a Texan whose family has been here since the Republic, this view might seem to put me in a conflicted situation re the “heroes of the Alamo.”
    It doesn’t.
    The New Orleans Grays and other mercenary groups recruited in the US had no legal standing when they entered the Mexican province of Coahuila y Tejas, and Santa Anna had every right under international law to execute them as mere pirates — which, of course, he did. The execution of Fannin’s men was a diplomatic blunder of epic proportions, but it was perfectly legal.
    The same situation applies to the jihadis in Syria today (their black flag is so ironically appropriate). As Santa Anna warned: “Citizens of foreign nations caught in arms fighting against the legally constituted government of Mexico will be shown no mercy.”
    (As an interesting aside, he was scrupulous about the clause of “caught in arms.” One group of US mercenaries came ashore on the Texas coast and, luckily for them, were captured before they had unloaded their equipment from the ship. They were given white armbands to distinguish them from Fannin’s men captured at the Battle of Coleto, and were not executed on Palm Sunday but were allowed to return home.)

  43. turcopolier says:

    Trey N
    IMO you are remarkably naïve about foreign soldiers who are paid. Men’s motives are often mixed. Have you ever been a soldier? pl

  44. LeCashier says:

    Im wondering what the coup attempt means for Turkish support for the jihadis? I assume a lot of material and personnel pass through Turkey to Syria . Does the coup attempt make it easier or harder to facillitate that support? If harder is the Incirlik situation a signal to the jihadis from Erdogan that he still has their back whatever might happen short term? Im thinking that Erdogan can’t just say “Sorry boys Im pulling the plug on you”, because he’ll have all those pissed off jihadis coming back through Turkey. But he’d probably just let them pass through to Europe anyway. Sorry for so many questions. Thanks

  45. Trey N says:

    No. I caught a fishhook in my eyeball when I was 4 years old; that disability kept me from passing my army physical exam.
    Many members of my immediate and near family have served in the military over the years, as well as ancestors since 1775. They did their duty when called upon and then returned to civilian life; none were professional soldiers that I know of.
    Men’s motives might be laudable or not, but they are irrelevant as far as the law is concerned. Robbing a bank to feed the poor will still land you in prison.
    With certain rare exceptions, such as your FFL example, mercenaries have been executed when caught throughout history: Alexander killed every Greek mercenary he captured who was fighting in the Persian army. When English kings captured the castles of rebellious subjects in the Middle Ages, they released the local levies but executed any and all mercenaries in a garrison. Such men have generally been reviled throughout the ages, and for damn good reason.

  46. Article here with a gloomier take on the Russian intervention as it currently stands:
    Unsure whether the claims about the military potential of Russia’s Syria contingent are accurate. Encircling Aleppo was a big deal. Also, how is it that Iran is short of manpower? Does he mean capacity for a long range deployment?
    Anyway, the author’s essential point is that faced with a hostile West/GCC and numerically insufficient SAA, Russia will have to enter ground combat itself or pull the plug on the military operation. However, this may be a false dichotomy. The status quo can be maintained, or gradually amended in Assad’s favour by a grinding down of the terrorists. If Turkey continues curving away from the neo-ottoman policy, the latter is a distinct possibility.
    I recall the Col. mentioned at one juncture the advisability of a Russian ground deployment too.

  47. Barish says:

    And are getting countered as of today, both at the 1070 complex and further south…so the battle’s on.
    Meanwhile, they are boasting having shot down a Russian MI-8 with 5 people on board. Ugly pictures around of that, but it won’t help them.

  48. turcopolier says:

    Trey N
    Was your vision impaired in the eye? I am not impressed that “many” people in your family served in the military. You did not. To suggest that some virtue transfers from them to you is absurd. This is equivalent to Gingrich citing his step-father’s career as evidence of his own virtue. As to your point about “mercenaries,” I take it that would apply to anyone serving in the armed forces of a country not his/her own. In fact, it is quite legal to serve in another country’s armed forces. We did not execute captured German soldiers of the British king in the War of Independence. The Brunswickers were his subjects as a German noble but the Hessians certainly were not. Many, many foreign soldiers have served in the US Army over the centuries. Immigrants are often not citizens when they join the Army. The Army of the Indian Wars was full of such people (Irish, German and British) Such people still serve. Legal resident aliens are allowed to enlist and can even hold a commission as a reserve officer. The people who you see being sworn as citizens when in uniform were obviously aliens serving before they were given citizenship. Were they mercenaries before being given citizenship? My sainted uncle John served in both the Canadian and British armies in WW1. He was not ever a citizen of either of those countries. Many Americans served in the RAF in WW2 or in the Lafayette Escadrille (French Army) in WW1. Would the Germans have been justified in executing these people when captured? BTW I suspect that execution of captured military personnel on the basis that you favor is illegal in both US and international military law. pl

  49. turcopolier says:

    Barish et al
    Yes. Our forecast of the rebels likely actions are occurring on the battlefield. I would expect that rebels inside the encirclement would now try to link up with their friends in the 1070 complex. We will also see what R+6 has in applicable reserves of troops and fire with which to re-take the ground. As we have said the rebels know that the fall of East Aleppo would probably be decisive in the war and are making a maximum effort and burning up men and equipment in the process.

  50. Bandolero says:

    I know these estimates, and also, that everyone agrees that much more people are living in government-held Aleppo than in rebel-held Aleppo.
    But my point is different: I suspect population in rebel-held Aleppo to be in reality much lower than OCHA, media etc say, perhaps even as low as a few tens of thousands.

  51. different clue says:

    michael brenner,
    ” A monkey playing with a live hand grenade” . . . as Lavrov put it some time ago.

  52. different clue says:

    Trey N,
    If such an operation is conducted, I hope the R + 6 does not forget to focus on the foreign fanatics who do it for free, and for fun.

  53. turcopolier says:

    The cretin Scarborough is pushing “defensive weapons” for Ukraine. Problem there are no defensive weapons as opposed to offensive weapons. The distinction is false. There are only “weapons.” All else is a matter of intent. pl

  54. Reports of SAA counter attack in Aleppo.
    “Russian Defence Ministry claims that 800 rebels were killed and that 14 tanks, 10 armoured vehicles and 60 cars/pickups equipped with heavy guns were destroyed during these past two days in Aleppo.”
    Those losses sound unsustainable to me.

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