"Overnight on January 17, ISIS units attacked positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies south of the Abu al-Duhur airbase from the eastern direction aiming to reach the key village of Sinjar.
Initially, anti-government sources claimed that ISIS had been able to capture some points from the SAA, but these claims were not confirmed by any photo or video evidence yet. Later, the ISIS-linked news agency Amaq confirmed that the advance took place and said that ISIS had captured some positions in the area.
Right now, clashes are ongoing there. Thus, ISIS and “moderate opposition” groups attacking the SAA from the western direction de-facto cooperate against government forces in eastern Idlib." SF
Well, pilgrims, R+6 should think of this as an opportunity rather than a setback. Here we have IS (now largely ex FSA unicorns) and HTS cooperating against R+6 in counter-attacks against the nearly complete envelopment east of Sinjar.
A possible program seriatim:
1. Defeat the counter-attacks. Fight hard.
2. Don't close the mouth of the bag in the encirclement.
3. Push on the sides of the "bag" to get IS and HTS moving toward a hope of escape in Idlib.
4. Pound the "escapees" mercilessly with air and artillery.
5. Be happy in your work. pl
From the IS photo reports and videos released in the front over past couple days including today you can see lots of liwa al quds mixed with regular SAA. I admire ISIS vitality and combat ability here, compared to the embarrassing performance of their Saudi and Turk and Qatari funded brethren. I do think that it is true as the colonel has stated that a very large part of the members of this newly christened Wilayat Idlib are FSA defectors formed around the core of the uqayribat Hama pocket which jumped SAA lines in October. I believe that there is also the possibility that ISIS has been slowly funneling ISIS fighters from turkey (that made their way out of raqqa and wilayat Khayr)to this area for months, HTS has released photos in the past of capturing ISIS cells heading to the area.
I just think it’s a real waste of good Jihadist cannon fodder for all these lice covered drug riddled head chopping diseased goat rapers to die uselessly in Syria and Iraq instead of in the middle of Tehran (as, I suggest, where they were originally intended to die).
It is interesting that as Turkey continues to develop its current base in the Jarabullus area, working with its own favorite jihadi FSAs and Islamist NGOs, local and Turkish, it is creating a Islamist community in the image and likeness of AKP Turkey. One of the many disturbing aspects of this is that the schools that are being assembled there appear to all be “Imam Hatip” schools which teach ordinary subjects, but are geared more to preparing students with a religious education perhaps leading to a career in the field. Nevertheless, locals have been feeling the wrath of the ISIS/HTS sympathizers in the area who see the new society as a return to Sodom and Gomorrah! One of the most offensive things so far has been the Turkish-backed authorities’ rule that women cannot enter the schools in niqab. All this has required more security activity on the part of the “good” jihadis in Turkey’s pay.
I don’t have anything to say about this pocket, which will develop as it does. But I am very struck about how quickly the position of the rebels in Idlib has fallen. it should be resistance to the end, but it isn’t.
Well yes, a lot of things were intended for Tehran, but none of them seemed to have worked out that way.
I take it as a measure of the concern the SAA have over ISIS gains that the RuAF is happy in its work processing jihadis elsewhere at present.
What do you think of Tillerson’s statement today at Stanford University – Tillerson Calls For Indefinite US Military Presence In Syria To Remove Assad
With the Eastern front largely locked down, and the only other significant hostilities taking place in East Ghouta, the degree of force the pro-Assad coalition can concentrate on an offensive front has reached a new echelon.
If I were a Syrian general, I’ld likely head for a different tactic.
ISIS is said to be trying to move to the west of the Idlib pocket via Sinjar. Here is a map of what ISIS seems to be trying:
ISIS didn’t manage much progress there, so that map is wishful thinking of ISIS, but if I were a Syrian general, I would pull back troops a bit so ISIS will succeed to move from the east of the Idlib pocket to Maraat Al Numan in the west of the Idlib pocket. In the meantime close the northern mouth of the east Idlib pocket so the tigers south of Abu Duhour have an LOC coming from east, via Tal Dhaman to Aleppo. SANA today reported that the gap (the mouth) between the tigers and Tal Dhaman is currently less than 2km.
Maraat Al Numan is a stronghold of Al Qaeda and they and ISIS hate each other, so it would be expected that Al Qaeda and ISIS will start fighting each other in and around Maraat Al Numan. While Al Qaeda and ISIS fight each other in Maraat Al Numan the SAA should take all the eastern subpocket of the Idlib pocket without much of a fight, and than Abu Dhuhur and Sarakib. After that the SAA could go for Maraat Al Numan, taking it from the weakened remnants of the winner of the AQ vs ISIS fight, whoever that might be.
It looks to me like that such a strategy of playing the different terrorists in the Idlib pocket against each other may save the SAA a lot of hard work.
Free Syrian Army groups seek resumption of CIA funding
Here is how an ABC affiliate is “framing” things:
Pretty hilarious to watch the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing…
Tillerson’s exposition of US policy in Syria suffers from the same lack of understanding of Syria that we have always had. An American military presence in eastern Syria will not encourage revolt against SAG. It will instead consolidate support for the SAG against tje foreigners. With the elimination of the various jihadi groups as opposition forces the FSA will amount to exactly nothing. with reconstruction under way there will be no ground swell of resistance to the SAG. All fantasies of this kind are products of the sanctimoniuous woolgathering of the Borg in its horror of brutal men with guns and a pathetic belief in social “progress” in the ME. pl
Let’s hope that the Syrian generals paid close attention when the Russians taught the Cauldrons 101 course 😉
Colonel, TTG, PT,
Don’t know if you saw this one or not:
So the 64 dollar question, should POTUS Trump and the Congress cancel this Obama Administration ’35 year no-bid lease’?
Received a couple of notes from Patrick Bahzad. He has had a lot of family distractions this last year as well as a promotion that brought much travel. we hope he will be able to write for us again soon. pl
And should there not be a thorough National Security Assessment of any possible 38 U.S. ports acquisition by Ports America before anything is turned over the company calling themselves Ports America? Is Ports America a U.S. owned company or is it a store front?
Merci Colonel for the update on the whereabouts of Patrick.
This is brilliant, and reminds me of how the SAA strategically allowed the ISIS “Uqaraybat” pocket to escape to Idlib in the first place. ISIS immediately took a bunch of villages and executed some of the rebel commanders there.
I would expect the same thing to happen again if the SAA allowed them to “escape” through Sinjar into Idlib.
J, I think there could be two of us ! I am the J offering flu advice to Col. Lang on the other page. As I am a new arrival, I will henceforth be known as JW.
Well said Pat.
Reports that essentially the entire pocket has fallen to ISIS today,with continuing fighting between ISIS and SAA on the western side
Welcome aboard. You’ll find SST a good place
Yes, I think it can work.
The major problem I see is that the surprise element – as it was present at the Uqayribatbat break-through – would be largely missing for a break-through to western-Idlib now.
Al Qaeda is already crying that the SAA is teaming up with ISIS.
However, I think, even without the surprise element, a tactic of coaxing ISIS to western Idlib would have many benefits, far outweighing the problems associated with that tactic. Even if Al Qaeda takes such an ISIS threat fromthe west serious, AQ would still have to commit substantial resources to that threat, thereby weakening it’s lines at Abu Dhuhour.