Good news from Syria


"The US and Russia rejected an Israeli request to prevent the presence of any Iranian forces or Iranian-backed militias near the Israeli border as a part of the ceasefire agreement in south Syria, the Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported on Thursday.

According to the report, Israel demanded to create a 60-80km wide buffer zone inside Syria against Iranian-backed forces. The supposed buffer zone would spread from the Golan Heights to the west of the Damascus-al-Suwayda highway in southwestern Syria.

Israel proposed its idea to Russia and the US during the talks that preceded the cease-fire agreement in southern Syria. According to the report, Russia refused the Israeli proposal, while the US didn’t back it for real mostly.

However, Russia promised Israel that the Iranians and their allies will not move any closer to Israel than five kilometers in the areas held by the Syrian government. The report noted that no Iranian presence was notified on the frontline with Syria for months now."  SF


"The US Coalition forces are not planning to enter Deir Ezzor City, the spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve, U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, told reporters on Thursday.

“I’ll just tell you that the plan is not to go into Deir Ezzor City, but there (are) plenty of ISIS fighters and resources and leaders that continue to have holdouts throughout the middle Euphrates River valley,” Dillon concluded.

It was initially believed the US Coalition would attempt to out-maneuver the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to the strategic city of Albukamal on the Iraqi border; however, this does not appear to be an option for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)."


 "You asked "Is there a SAG-SDF deal?" This morning's press briefing by Coalition Spokesman indicated that the SDF do have direct communications with the regime. It is through their own line of communication and NOT through the Russian/CJTF deconfliction hotline. Did not go into detail, did not indicate at what level either on the SDF side or on the regime side. So at least there are talks going on even if it is not a full fledged deal."  Comment from Mike


1.  The US/Russian refusal of Israel's wish for a 50 km. buffer zone free of Iranian/Hizbullah presence east of the Golan Heights occupation line suggests that there is substantial US/Russian coordination on Syria policy.

2.  Yesterday, the US coalition forces announced through its official spokesman, that SDF forces would not try to enter the city of Deir al-Zor.  This did not seem to be the case earlier given the SDF's rapid advance to the cross Euphrates suburbs of the city.  This suggests that the policy of coordination with Russia in Syria has percolated from the White House to the US field command or that the SDF has told their American minders that they are not willing try to "outmaneuver" the Syrian government east of the Euphrates.

3.  Mike's comment above indicates that a separate non/US-Russian link now exists between the SDF and the Syrian government.  This bodes well for a post civil war Syria and its territorial integrity.  pl

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21 Responses to Good news from Syria

  1. b says:

    The SAA has crossed the Euphrates near Deir Ezzor and is now established on the north-eastern side of the river. It will continue to follow the river up to the Iraqi border.
    The forces that constitute the SDF live in Syria and will continue to live in Syria. They were told to behave accordingly and seem to have, at least partially, understood the message.

  2. Leonardo says:

    On the other hand, today Southfront reported this new piece of news:
    So, the SDF are very close to Deir-Ez-Zor, even if they are keeping out of the city, as previously stated. I wonder what would happen in case the SAA were to try to cross the Euphrates in order to retake control of the oil and gas fields in Eastern Syria.

  3. aleksandar says:

    ” A separate non/US-Russian link now exists between the SDF and the Syrian government.”
    Good news indeed but who take the iniative to create such a communication link ? I guess this has been decided directly between Trump and Putin, or Tillerson and Lavrov.
    SDF can’t move a finger without US approval, on one side. On the other they must take into account Russian presence and SAA success.
    It’a a strong move from earlier statements envisionning creation of a Civil Council to run DeZ
    I can be wrong but seems to me that Trump is eager to declare ” victory ” asap against ISIS and take back the boys home.
    Miltarly it’s a bonus for SAA as SDF move has cut ISIS forces north DeZ from their LOC to the middle Euphrates River valley . A pocket to comb and clean on each side of the river.

  4. turcopolier says:

    I think we are in complete agreement on this. IMO the SAG told them to behave correctly and as you said they absorbed the message. The US sponsor (not commander) had no choice but to accept the SDF decision. And, the US command in the ME knows that DJT is uninterested in Syria. Vlad is taking care of that. Trump has NoKo, etc. on his mind. A minot point AlbuKamel is downstream from DZ, there fore one goes down the river to get there. pl

  5. LeaNder says:

    Trump has NoKo, etc. on his mind.
    It was interesting how Korea surfaced in Ben Caspit’s article:

  6. Fredw says:

    I think that it is important to keep in mind that SDF does not actually want much of anything in that part of Syria or believe that they could hold it if they took it. Their interests lie farther north. After defeating IS in the north, they showed little interest in assaulting Raqqa or the Arab-inhabited regions to their south. I see them as having been pushed into their present campaigns by the US, with arms and political support as the payment. So I think it is invalid to game out the situation as though SDF and SAA forces are in some some sort of competition. There may be such a competition in the minds of the US planners, but I have seen little evidence that SDF buys into that vision. In that light direct lines of communication make perfect sense.

  7. LeaNder says:

    Concerning the rest I agree. But I would love to slightly amend here:
    I see them as having been pushed into their present campaigns by the US, with arms and political support as the payment
    They weren’t lured via payment by the US only. They were fighting to defend themselves and their families their towns. No doubt they were pleased they got US help at that time. I may be misguided but it seemed to prevent a complete ISIS takeover of the Kurdish parts.
    Do I have too selective memories? I no doubt have. We all do. In any case when I stumbled across a huge Kurdish protest over here, in fact the biggest I ever witnessed, I distinctively remember being highly sympathetic to their cause.

  8. plantman says:

    I agree with Fredw…
    The SDF is way south of there desired homeland.
    They must have made some kind of deal with Washington to liberate Raqqa, but will likely retreat somewhere to the North.

  9. mike says:

    All –
    On the SDF/SAG line of communications: It could be that this idea was first floated via al-Shaitat tribesmen. Admittedly this is speculation on my part. But they have fighters with the SDF and also militias working with the SAA in Deir ez-Zor. They hate Daesh and would probably use any means to defeat them. They are seeking revenge for the mass beheading and crucifixions of a thousand of their tribe by Daesh in August 2014. They are one of the larger tribes in Deir ez-Zor with 70 to 90,000 members. Plus their forces make up a large contingent of the thrust down towards Deir ez-Zor. So the SDF or SDC leadership is likely to have gone along with their recommendation, and saw the benefit.
    The link could easily be set up. The SDF has stable relations with the SAG in Qamishli. Or it could have gone through regime representatives in al-Hasakah city.
    Guessing on my part. Another option is that the comm link could have been established a year ago when the YPG in the Sheikh Maqsoud neighborhood worked with the SAA to break the siege of Aleppo. Or it could have been a Russian or Russian/Coalition initiative to get the two sides talking together.

  10. turcopolier says:

    Perhaps there has been an exchange of liaison parties. They would have their own communications. pl

  11. mike says:

    FredW & Plantman –
    You are probably correct that the Kurdish YPG have few aspirations in Deir ez-Zor province. However the al-Shaitat and many of Shammar tribesmen that are also in the SDF were born and bred in Dei-ez-or province. They have no intention of retreating north. The same is true for Raqqa and the Arab tribes there that are working with the SDF.
    Leander is correct that US payment is not the only reason they are conducting the current campaign, and past ones. This is about defending themselves and liberating their homelands, whether Kurdish YPG or Arab and Syriac components of the SDF.

  12. mike says:

    Colonel –
    Yes. That makes sense. It would be too unwieldy to route all comms through Qamishli or elsewhere. That would be a recipe for blue on gray casualties.

  13. Patrick H says:

    Some Russians apparently perceive in eastern Syria a miniature-scale rerun of Germany 1945:

  14. mike says:

    TTG –
    Regarding the photo of that Syrian El Camino in Deir ez-Zor that you posted about two weeks ago:
    I am now wondering if that car-top-carrier in the photo was an element of the LEER-2 electronic warfare system? Sure looks alike to me. They could be using it to DF, intercept and/or jam Daeshi phone comms. Or listen in on Coalition/SDF comms.

  15. b says:

    In July Robert Fisk reported of a Syrian-Russian-Kurdish coordination center:
    I sat on the floor of an ill-painted villa with a Russian air force colonel in camouflage uniform, a young officer of the Kurdish militia – with a YPG (Kurdish People’s Militia) patch on his sleeve – and a group of Syrian officers and local Syrian tribal militiamen.

    No U.S. (at least directly) involved in that.

  16. mike says:

    b –
    Thanks for that link to the Fisk article. Looks like the SDF/SAG comms were set up sometime in June after the debacle in Ja Din near Resafa.
    As you say the US is not ‘directly’ involved. However there may have been Russian/Coalition feelers after Ja Din that started this ball rolling.

  17. JJackson says:

    There has also been a shift in power between the US and SDF due to events at the beginning of the the push for Raqqa. At that time the Turkish Army were pushing into Syria and the Russian realignment had not shown just how much control Moscow had. For the Kurds to push SE they needed reassurances from the US including boots on the ground in Turkey’s path. Now an SAA & Russian assurance is as good, if not better. SFA defections by non-kurds strengthens there position. If the Kurds opted to return home leaving the US+Tribal force on the East bank I would not want to be with them.

  18. Bandolero says:

    CJTFOIR just published the following statement:
    Russian forces struck a target east of the Euphrates River in #Syria near Dayr Az Zawr, causing injuries to Coalition partner forces.
    I think that may be a crucial event.

  19. Poul says:

    An anniversary of sorts?
    Was it not one year ago that the US & allies bombed a key Syrian position killing ca. 80 soldiers at Deir Ezzor and almost enabled IS to overrun the army defences.
    Also Reuters quotes Russian sources that the Syrian army has cross the river.
    “U.S.-backed Syrian militias will not let government forces cross the Euphrates River in their bid to recover eastern Syria, their commander said on Friday, but Russia said army units had already done so near the city of Deir al-Zor.
    An aide to President Bashar al-Assad meanwhile said the government would fight any force, including U.S.-backed militias, in efforts to recapture the rest of the country.”

  20. turcopolier says:

    IMO teh final story is yet to be told about the tragic bombing of SAA troops at DaZ. pl

  21. Jon Cloke says:

    Sounds like a creeping invasion of the juicy bits of Syria by the IDF, to me. Don’t Rupert Murdohc and Dick Cheney already have illegal oil exploration rights in the Golan granted them by the miltary government of occupation?
    All that lovely oil, just waiting to be hoovered up by the best-connected set of NeoCons…

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