An East Ghouta pocket is being encircled.


"Four days ago, government troops also captured Farzat hill, in an area near the site where the former leader of Jaish al-Islam, Zahran al-Alloush, was killed by a Syrian airstrike in December. Additionally, these advances help government soldiers to expand the corridor built from Marj as-Sultan Airbase towards central Damascus. Subsequently, Islamist rebels from Jaish al-Islam, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army are unable to retreat from the southern pocket of East Ghouta into more secure rebel-held areas further north. "  AMN


There is one road that runs north out what is not yet a completely closed encirclement and the gap between the jaws looks quite narrow.  Them as want to escape should "get a move on." (idiomatic expression)

One can only hope that the Nusra Front and the other assorted jihadis will choose to fight to the death (one death or another). 

The methodology and operational advice of the Russians is evident. 

BTW, I think Kerry/Obama and Lavrov/Putin are putting together some dort of grand bargain, but, we will see.   pl

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62 Responses to An East Ghouta pocket is being encircled.

  1. Haralambos says:

    Someone at the NYTimes must be reading this site. A kudos, Col. Lang.
    Syrian Troops Said to Recapture Historic Palmyra From ISIS
    The money quote: “The battle also provided further confirmation of how significantly Russia’s intervention on behalf of Mr. Assad had transformed his fortunes. Islamic State fighters had easily taken Palmyra in May from government troops, who had hardly mounted a fight. The recapture of the city on Sunday came after Russia carried out dozens of airstrikes in support of the government coalition.”

  2. cynic says:

    How much relevance might there be in previous reports that the terrorists dug vast networks of tunnels under the areas they control? Maybe they hope to escape easily or pop up again in other areas. Is there a war of mining and counter-mining going on?

  3. turcopolier says:

    Let’s play a mind game – You stay in tunnels as a jihadi inside the encirclement when it is complete and I as the Syrian military will comb through the area looking for you. Good game? pl

  4. @PL
    I read a number of disparate comments in various links, some referenced on this site.
    1. Many of the ISIL defenders are in fact re-cycled Iraq Army (Saddam) regulars.
    2. Approx. 500 ISIL defenders killed in Palmyra (seems a lot if true).
    3. Reports that many ISIL defenders are fleeing their position as defenders because “situation is hopeless” (supposed SIGINT).
    4. You yourself taklk of the possible immminent collapse of ISIL lines, structure etc.
    5, ISIL references Dabiq as point of Apocalyptic battle.
    Could you comment (global interpretation)?

  5. Trey N says:

    Do you think such a bargain would pertain only to Syria, or to the situation in Ukraine as well? What you do think the parameters of the bargain might entail? What signs have alerted you to this possibility — and why would the Borg be willing to make such a deal now?
    It seems to me that any such deal now would be a tacit admission by the Borg of their defeat at the hands of Russia — or at least a recognition that their nefarious plans of the last few years have been temporarily checkmated. Given their stupendous hubris, that would be quite a welcome development to behold.
    I wholeheartedly hope that your suspicions of a bargain prove to be true.

  6. VietnamVet says:

    The trillion-dollar question is will Russia, China and the USA make a grand deal and secure a controlled border between Christian, Han Chinese and Muslim lands? This could be Barrack Obama and John Kerry’s final farewell.
    With the media lying and studiously avoiding mention of the Russian turn around in Syria or reporting that the 2016 election is the first attempts of the people to regain control of their government; it is impossible to figure out what’s going on.
    However, a few things are clear. The global aristocracy is doing its damnedest to promote free movement of capital and people, destroy borders and fight endless wars. There is a faction in the US government led by Senator John McCain that is intent on destabilizing Russia and China. A secure and peaceful world is heresy to them.

  7. Cortes says:

    Islamic State fighters had easily taken Palmyra in May from government troops, who had hardly mounted a fight
    Not sure how to interpret that. You’re outnumbered, no back up readily available…do you
    Go all Imperial Japanese infantry circa WWII
    Or maybe make a rational decision to recognise when discretion is the better part of valour?

  8. annamaria says:

    It would be great if the State Department’s “broadly speaking” idiots were visiting this site as well:

  9. BraveNewWorld says:

    More to the point.
    “Why is David Cameron so silent on the recapture of Palmyra from the clutches of Isis?
    In the end, it was the Syrian army – and its Hizballah chums from Lebanon, and the Iranians, and the Russians – who drove the Isis murderers out of Palmyra”

  10. turcopolier says:

    Armies are organic human social structures. At times they become ill but can be cured, in this case by some first rate vodka. pl

  11. turcopolier says:

    Too many questions. Look in the archive of SST. pl

  12. Chris Chuba says:

    Because David Cameron is waiting for instructions from the U.S. State Dept on how to respond.
    I mean seriously, when was the last time the U.K. exercised an independent foreign policy from the U.S.?
    They might as well give us two votes on the UN Security council.
    When I read the Russian Insider, they proffer up that one of the reasons that Russia is hated so much is because they actually have independent national goals and the U.S. is simply not used to dealing with countries as peers. I thought about it and I think they are right. We want everyone to be like the U.K., France, and Germany who might utter a contrary word once in a while but pretty much toe the line.

  13. Chris Chuba says:

    The fall of the Palmyra wasn’t quite the cake walk that the NYT is making it out to be. It did last 13 days …
    The Syrian defense of Palmyra was compromised by the rebel offensive in the Idlib province. The Syrians had to choose between reinforcing their large population centers or their Western frontier. So you could say that the anti-Assad rebels were the ISIS storm troopers (Michael Weiss is still on the circuit getting yucks calling the Russian air strikes the ISIS air force because of alleged, actually fictitious gains made in the Aleppo area).

  14. ked says:

    I’d be satisfied with a few less-than-grand bargains that actually work. Maybe I’m just fatigued from over-promising and under-delivering in foreign affairs.

  15. aleksandar says:

    maybe a bargain is on the road but I always wonder : Does Russia need a bargain ? We will see.

  16. johnf says:

    Forgive the slight O/Tness but Moon of Alabama has done a nice post on the SAA retaking Palmyra at Easter. He says that the ancient Syrian fertility goddess Ishtar – whose shrine was destroyed by ISIS – had the egg as the central symbol of her spring rituals – a tradition which became Christian so that chocolate eggs are still distibuted at Easter.
    This Easter I attended Easter Sunday Mass at Burton on Trent Catholic Church, a town which makes the greatest beer on earth because of the quality of its spring water (“burtonizing” the water is the technical term all around the world forpreparing the water for beer making). The mass was led by a Chinese priest. The ordinary working class Burtonians sat in rows of neat families dressed in their Sunday best. Enormous Irish navvies who’d obviously spent the entire night in the pub and had only just got out took the collection (perhaps because people are more likely to pay up immediately tosuch individual. The church heaved with Malays, Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Africans, Poles, Syrian Maronites, Pakistanis, Portuguese and screaming children. The Chinese priest spoke awful English – all the names of the saints and the long latin-based words in the Easter Mass caused him particular difficulty – but he struggled through them and then, for his address, concentrating really hard, he managed to deliver complex and particularly beautiful thoughts on the ressurection. At the end there were sighs and grunts of agreement from the packed congregation – people from all over theworld standing packed all round the walls and in the porch. At the end hedistributed chocolate Easter eggs toall the children.
    There is another world – of grace, forgiveness and reconciliation – which we never read about in the newspapers.

  17. cynic says:

    It’s a better game if the tunnels extend under the front lines on the surface, and I can pop up behind you or simply move elsewhere.

  18. Bill Herschel says:

    The coverage of the success at Palmyra in the Times has sent the editorial/propaganda board into a fit of Bernaysian frenzy. The story has been re-edited at least 4 times, each time attempting to minimize the role of Russia, criticize Assad, and promote American triumphs.
    The current version, pushed down into the fine print of the front Internet page:
    “After a three-week push by the Syrian Army and its allies, including Russia, the majority of the Islamic State contingent in Palmyra had withdrawn or been driven out, with hundreds of its fighters killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the conflict.”
    “…including Russia…” Pure Bernays.
    “The capture of Palmyra, days after the deadly Belgium bombings for which the Islamic State claimed responsibility, added weight to Mr. Assad’s contention that his government is a bulwark against the transnational extremist group. It served as an argument, too, for his own relevance even as his foes and some allies argue that he must leave power as part of a political settlement to end the war in Syria.”
    “…his foes and some allies…” Bernays would jump for joy at that one.
    Further down, much further down:
    “It was recaptured with significant help from Russia’s military, which carried out dozens of airstrikes — highlighting the central role of President Vladimir V. Putin in solidifying Mr. Assad’s hold on power since Russia intervened in the war in September.”
    “…Mr. Assad’s hold on power…”
    And finally the official State Department position, that Assad is no better than ISIS:
    “For some Syrians, the city’s capture by government troops had come too late. The sister of a soldier who was publicly executed in Palmyra by the Islamic State accused Mr. Assad’s government of dispatching poorly equipped soldiers, including her brother, to defend the city after the militants had taken it, and sending them to certain death.
    And she cursed residents who she said had worked as spies for the Islamic State, in a worrying sign that there may be a bloody reckoning yet to come in Palmyra. The woman, who fled Syria for Europe after her brother was killed, questioned what she would get out of the city’s changing hands.”
    Perhaps she’ll stay in “Europe”.

  19. turcopolier says:

    I expected that response. Do you think that is the case? Perhaps the tunnels run all the way to Damascus. One thinks of the tunneling in VN. The NVA/VC built underground installations all over SVN. these included barracks, hospitals, communications rooms, storage. I was in the RVN when the armistice went into effect in 1973. The four power military observers came into town to supervise the ceasefire; Hungary, Poland, Canada and Indonesia I think they were. They spent most of their time “hanging out” at the USAF officer’s club at the Ton Son Nhut base. That was a lot safer than flying around the country with the helicopter unit we had kept there to transport them. The 20 year old warrant officer pilots frightened them, probably deliberately. Along with the 4 power Boy Scouts were several fairly senior enemy officers (VC and NVA). Afflicted with curiosity I took to socializing with them in the evening. The Boy Scouts were of little interest but the enemy was of great interest. They spoke French and they liked to play cards. I asked an NVA colonel who had commanded a regiment in the countryside how they had lived. He said mostly underground. I asked how they passed the time. He said they watched a lot of US armed forces television from the big facility in Saigon where there was a 150,000 watt transmitter and big production facilities. Johnny Carson was popular as was the series “Combat” with Vic Morrow. My men had liked the same programs. He said they were particularly fond of a blond USAF enlisted woman who read the news. I told him that a US general I knew was also fond of her and to greater effect. He laughed like hell. pl

  20. turcopolier says:

    IMO Russia would like a reduction in passive-aggressive hostility on the part of the US and a reduction in the sanctions. pl

  21. cynic says:

    Thank you Colonel, that’s a good story.
    There have been stories and pictures of extensive tunnels through the fairly soft rock, in this suburb of Damascus I think. Maybe that’s why it seems to take so long for the Syrian forces to definitely clear the area.
    On the other hand, there was a TV programme a couple of days ago which showed the use of ground penetrating radar to investigate Shakespeare’s grave without opening it. (The skull is missing, and according to legend, it was stolen and lost in the 18th c.) Perhaps counter-mining technology has advanced to the point that tunnels would be easier to detect.

  22. Matthew says:

    Col: please tell me a memoir is being written…..

  23. Tunde says:

    BoJo ( Boris Johnson), the dangerously bumbling tousle-haired suitor to replace “Dave” at no10 has come out in the Telegrapgh to praise Assad as acting as a vanguard for Western civilization as against the nihilism of IS. The contortions by the western transatlantic Borg re the moral weighing up of Assad fils is amusing to read. BoJo’s article can be found here….

  24. LeaNder says:

    Interesting aka link. Not sure if I understand intended implications beyond the various links, comments and site references you refer to. Notice you don’t need to add a web site url here. If you log into typepad, the link allows you to follow up responses to your comments though.
    Concerning 4. “he possible imminent collapse of ISIL lines, structure etc”. Since you start with former Iraqi Army soldiers, are you suggesting that Pat suggested the break down in both countries is “imminent”? … Our central focus here has been Syria not Iraq.
    What’s behind your question 5 and/or the desire to have a global interpretation? … One cannot fight an ideology? It’s all about religion, the Clash of Civilizations?
    Personal note: “The war on terrorism” (WoT) may without any doubt have surpassed the wildest desires of its creators/helpers/servants and supporters. It was always envisioned to last for decades to come. Remember? … Minus Russia maybe, entering the equation. Russia was to be taken care of another way.

  25. Babak Makkinejad says:

    If by a grand bargain is meant something like a strategic settlement of Peace of Yalta; I do not think that is in the cards.
    There might be an agreement on a Syrian settlement which would amount to a Strategic cease-fire.
    Likewise for Ukraine and the Minsk process.
    These cease-fires will join the existing cease-fires:
    – Japan-Russia Cease Fire since WWII
    – India-Pakistan Cease Fire over Kashmir since 1947
    – North Korea – UN Cease Fire since 1953
    – US-Cuba Cease Fire of 1961
    – Israel-Syria Golan Cease Fire since 1973
    – Cyprus Cease Fire since 1975
    – China-Vietnam Cease Fire of 1979
    – Azerbaijan-Armenia Cease Fire since 1991
    – Transdenistra Cease Fire of 1992
    – NATO-Serbia Kosovo Cease Fire of 1999
    – Israel-Lebanon Cease Fire of 2006
    – Georgia-Russia Cease Fire of 2008
    – Iran-NATO (JCOPA) Cease Fire of 2015
    – NATO-Russia Cease Fire of 2015 (Minsk Process)
    I likely have missed a few more cases but I think one can see an empirical pattern where signing a peace settlement is out of the question and war is too impractical. So one freezes the conflict and waits for a more opportune time to either make a settlement or resume the war.
    Likely, this is what we are witnessing here too.

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think of ISIS in an analogous manner to the Boxers in China.
    Just like the Boxers established the utter inability of Traditional Chinese Culture to successfully confront and to otherwise deal with Western Modernity; ISIS has demonstrated the utter bankruptcy of Traditional Sunni Islam in doing the same.
    In China, the failure of the Boxers, among many other factors, led to the collapse of belief among the educated and learned classes in the efficacy of Chinese Culture in dealing with the world and led to the substitution of the imported Marxism-Leninism to substitute for Higher Culture in China. That effect has continued to this day, in my opinion; e.g. there is no trace of Confucius Humanism in contemporary China as far as I know.
    I wonder what would happen in Sunni Muslim countries outside of the Old Seljuk boundary.

  27. turcopolier says:

    it is written. I thought I had given you access to it. I don’t remember if that story is in it. Will have to look. I remember that the F Troop, 10th Cavalry Regiment pilots said that the first time they flew some Boy Scouts out to an NVA Division headquarters was a little “hairy.” On Guard Frequency a voice asked them what recognition signal they wanted for the Landing Zone. As requested a red smoke grenade was popped in a clearing. They landed and were immediately surrounded by NVA with weapons. The Canadians got out and walked off with the NVA. the pilot shut down the engine, his crew chief and door gunner hopped down, and opened the pilots doors and slid back the plate armor that contained them in their seats. they then dismounted, took off their flight helmets and waved. The NVA approached, shook hands and asked if they had any American cigarettes. tea ad fresh pineapple appeared. the aviator told me that at that moment he first believed that we were no longer at war with these men. He had tears in his eyes. pl

  28. Tyler says:

    That is not as easy a move as you think, and not so fun when the ceiling caves in on you.
    It is easy to talk about hiding in tunnels on a blog. Doing it with the real risk of dying of suffocation in the dark with burns all over your body is another matter entirely.

  29. Croesus says:

    The drama at center stage is diverting attention from activity in the wings: Was AIPAC successful in sealing the deal for a new, ten-year MOU gifting $4.5billion/year? What additional give-me s has AIPAC secured? How is the relationship between Putin & Netanyahu figuring in all this?
    Stage left, the anti-Iran propaganda machine has been working overtime, with Loretta Lynch prosecuting 7 Iranians for cyber attacks on an already disabled small dam in NY, and the various Borg media dispatching its vultures to pick at any exposed flesh on the Iranian body politic.
    Moshe Ya’alon spent a week or more in Washington in advance of the AIPAC cauldron (if I may borrow a term learned from SST) declaring that Congressional support for a new MOU was a done deal but others remained to be persuaded, and that a unified Syria was an impossibility, the only option was to federalize Syria along confessional lines with a weak central state. Presumably Israel would retain Golan as if it had a right or even legitimate claim to do so.

  30. Emad says:

    This is way off topic, but curiosity got the better of me:
    The soldier who’s shot the man says he did so in accordance with IDF ROE.
    If he were a U.S. serviceman what would he be charged with? Is there be anything in the current U.S. ROE that would give this man a fighting chance in a U.S. court-martial?
    TTG, PB, CP and others who know NATO and RF ROEs are also welcome to chime in.

  31. turcopolier says:

    This was not a battlefield situation. The man was a prisoner. If you did this in the US Army in a setting like that, you would be vulnerable to a charge of murder under UCMJ. ROE would have nothing to do with it. A commander is not allowed in US forces to create ROE that violate US law and this would. Do things like this happen in active combat situations (i.e., during a battle?) Yes, they do but this was not in an active combat situation. pl

  32. @ PL & LeaNder & BK
    It seems I wasn’t very clear about what I was getting at–must be the cheap gin.
    What I am trying to get a handle on is some aspects of ISIL that seem very unclear. The first is composition. At one level–presumably the highest–ISIL is all about the new Caliph and a Salafi ideology that includes an apocalyptic battle at Dabiq. This seems to be real true-believer land. The sort of people who fight to the death.
    Yet there’s this other element, of the recycled Saddam regular forces (with a public claim somewhere that some were to be found defending Palmyra). There’s even supposed to be a Iraqi Sufi general who is important in ISIL. Since the Iraqi army under Saddam was Baathist and secular, the question arises how these two components get along. Have the Iraqi regulars converted to Salafism; is there an unspoken agreement to get along without agreeing because of the expertise of the former army guys?
    The same question would extend into the quasi-governmental administration of ISIL territories. On the one hand there are the severe Salafist Sharia courts; on the other hand there’s the bureaucracy which I would guess has been transplanted from Iraqi functionaries of the old Saddam gov’t. How do they get along?
    So the above is one element of the question I’m trying to pose.
    The next element is the ISIL defeat in Palmyra. I’m no military man–worked in MiniTru–but 500 dead seems a lot if true. We also have reports purportedly based on SIGINT that ISIL troops are completely demoralized and fleeing at the first sign of trouble. So what’s happened in the minds of the senior commanders and grunts of ISIL to the Dabiq scenario? Doesn’t sound like true believers, but maybe Ru CAS is a sobering experience.
    PL himself has posed the issue of a culminating point after which one can expect ISIL lines & structure to collapse rather rapidly.
    Just to add a new point, it seems that the program to get Assad to go is really a program to transfer hegemony in Syria from the Alawites to the Sunnis. In this respect, it is well to remember that in relatively recent history when the Sunnis were in charge in Syria they treated the Alawites like slaves–even keeping them as slaves.
    So what’s my question? My post was designed to elicit from the Colonel an aphoristic summary conclusion as to how the 5 points I listed fit together. What does it all mean?

  33. YT says:
    Yes, him & some queer from North Carolina who was promoted to col. in the Air Force despite having no battle experience.
    “Chickenhawks” sending American youths to die as cannon fodder in future wars.

  34. turcopolier says:

    Winston, etc.
    I have no idea what the present composition of IS combat forces may be. Iraqi regulars, mostly staff college graduate officers played an important role in standing up the Caliph’s forces but time has passed. How many of these men are left I know not. IMO at this point you have to judge the beast by its performance. I judge it to be coming apart from constant aggressive attacks upon it and financial attrition caused by attacks on its ability to sell oil through Turkey. The fact that IS finally gave up the fight in Tadmur doesn’t mean much. Almost any force will retire before enough difficulty and pressure. The Imperial Japanese Army withdrew after being mauled and starved in the Kohima Offensive and in places like the Philippines and Okinawa as well when there was enough space to do so. I expect IS forces to keep withdrawing in the face of Syrian aggressiveness and Russian/Syrian air. “Dabiq?” I’ll bet that lot of these guys are thinking about survival and the fleshpots of Istanbul. This, by the way has little to do with IS ability to mount terrorist attacks. you need only a few true believers for that, people who seek to escape this world. pl

  35. robt willmann says:

    Mr. Herschel,
    That is very good, careful reading of what I think is the New York Times in your comment above. The Times and Washington Post have been doing this type of opinion-shaping and propaganda for a long time, and when they do so, it is done in a sophisticated manner.

  36. Matthew says:

    robt: Or they could become real journalists like Mehdi Hassan. See
    Secretary Kerry should be asked exactly the same question–at every press conference.

  37. Tigermoth says:

    As CC replies, in was a long battle one aspect was that the US-coalition which was fighting ISIS didn’t bomb ISIS at all. They moved in the open desert and weren’t attacked.
    Here is a Moon of Alabama post with more information and links.
    Syria – How The Palmyra Victory Changes the Narrative
    “That depiction of the battle is pure nonsense. The Islamic State offensive that ended with its occupation of Palmyra took thirteen days from May 13 to May 26 2015. Heavy fighting and several Syrian army counter offensives took place during those days. After the Islamic State finally captured the city, the Syrian army immediately prepared for a larger operation to regain the city. This was launched successfully in July 2015 but for lack of air support the gains made were again lost a week later.
    Throughout the 2015 fighting around Palmyra the U.S. air force, which claimed to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, did not intervene at all. ISIS was free to resupply through the open east-Syrian desert.
    The sole reason that the Islamic State could successfully attack Palmyra was a very large ongoing attack by al-Qaeda Jihadists and CIA mercenary forces on the Syrian government forces in Idleb governate. The Syrian army moved troops from Palmyra to defend Idleb and Latakia and the forces left behind were no longer large enough to repel the Islamic State attack.”

  38. Tigermoth says:

    Cynic this might interest you re tunnels.
    Syrian Army unearths massive tunnel in Greater Damascus after repelling Nusra: video
    Following Jabhat Al-Nusra’s subsequent retreat, the Syrian Arab Army’s 105th Brigade of the Republican Guard unearthed a massive tunnel that was used by the rebel fighters to launch their assault. According to an Al-Masdar field correspondent in Damascus, the rebel tunnel was 200 meters long, 15 meters deep and 2 meters high; it was also reportedly used as an operations room for Jabhat Al-Nusra.
    I don’t think they are on the NVC scale though. The story I read was this tunneling technique is relatively new to these people, it was developed by Hezbollah who passed it on to Hamas in Gaza who passed it on to AQ and ISIS. If true I’m sure Hezbollah isn’t too pleased.

  39. Tigermoth says:

    Here is Ash Carter explaining the “non bombing” of ISIS oil trucks to J McCain. He says they now have a way of detecting ISIS from “non ISIS” oil trucks but “it’s secret” I have to admit it conjured up some funny images in my head of how this could be facilitated, but then I don’t have his understanding of the “machinery”.
    Also this is the Saudis trying to explain why democracy is good for Syrian but Saudi Arabia is just fine how it is.
    “This past week, Al Jazeera presenter Mehdi Hasan sat down with Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN. He asked him a very pointed question regarding why he supports democracy in Syria but not in Saudi Arabia.”

  40. toto says:

    Apparently, French ex-soldiers and officers are joining Syrian Kurdish groups to fight against ISIS. Only about twenty so far, but it’s growing.
    (In French)
    Not sure what happens if/when these guys meet a Turkish bomb.

  41. Given technology why does the establishment of a Caliphate require possession of a geographic base?

  42. Amir says:

    I have noticed that there is a complete silence about the Iranian role, in fighting the Wahabi Jihadis, in the mainstream media as well as to a lesser extent on the SST. Would the Colonel or others be able to quantify that role and elaborate on its significance.

  43. LeaNder says:

    Tigermoth, the oil trucks somewhat left a memory trail on my mind too after reading Pat’s comment above.
    Obviously that was the most ingenious information/propaganda (as you like it) masterstroke by Russia. Absolutely no doubt.
    Ash Carter obviously is in serious troubles, but I hesitate to join Russia Insider’s merriment about his troubles confronted by b-b-b-I-McCain’s own little political propaganda show.
    No matter if in Ukraine or Syria concerning support for regime-change the decorated war hero always seems to be among the first on the scene.
    The Effectiveness of EU Sanctions. An analysis of Iran, Belarus, Syria and Myanmar (Burma)
    EPC Issue Paper No. 76, November 2013.
    Syria 27-31
    The core coercive/”educative” measure in the rapidly unfolding sanction regime as a result of interestingly enough “alleged” atrocities by the regime against its citizen was starting in 2011 with the strongest tool in the box the “oil embargo”. (Iraq?)
    In 2013 at the request of France and Britain the policy was refined “towards more explicit support of the rebel forces” like lifting the arms embargo, without economic impact, they tell us.
    But see also on p 30
    “In order to limit the impact of the oil embargo and help the Syrian civilian population and the opposition to the regime, the EU allowed for exceptions to the Syrian oil embargo in April 2013, permitting the import of Syrian crude oil and petroleum products to the EU. This is allowed under certain conditions, which include the consultation of the Syrian National Coalition, the main (non-Islamist) opposition group, and in agreement with the EU Member States. But given that the regime controls the oil pipelines and the existing export terminals on the Mediterranean Sea, this change has had few consequences in terms of exports. At the same time, conflict for control of oil wells and pipelines in the oil-rich areas has increased warlordism, with various tribal leaders and organisations gaining control of the oil wells, further fragmenting the Syrian opposition. Among the organisations that have managed to assume control over several oil wells is Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist group fighting in Syria.”
    Good idea?
    The regime is restricted but how the hell to figure out which truck belongs to which group? Are they unicorns (in SST terminology)or are they possibly some allies’ benevolent Jihadis? Could this context be a piece of the puzzle concerning Carter’s intelligence?
    Russia does not have to make these distinction. Sanctions on the regime weren’t lifted, only sanctions for the benefit of the rebels were “refined” in 2013 on the demand of both France and Britain.
    Notice there is a short note on page 30 too, following oil and arms, concerning the problems as to how to sort out sanctioned versus non-sanctions financial transactions. To what extend is this connected to the unicorns/benevolent rebels versus people somehow profiting from their service to the sanctioned system, which apparently are sanctioned too. Apart from sanctioned and non-sanctioned products.
    “Here’s how ISIS still has access to the global financial system
    The Washington Institute For Near East Policy”, Matthew Levitt, The Washington Institute For Near East Policy Mar. 24, 2015, 1:50 PM
    The above story in a variation circulated over here more recently. The accounts of banks in Raqqa seem to be connected as of early March to the international SWIFT account system.
    The Regime meanwhile has, as the document tells us partly shifted some of his financial transactions to the Russian banking sector, and this may be another consequence of the “coercive masters of the world’s’ beloved sanction diplomacy. Long term:

  44. The Beaver says:

    Something is rotten and I wonder why and who is/are spilling the beans:
    1. “Abdullah tells US politicians that radicals are being ‘manufactured in Turkey… as part of Turkish policy'”
    2. “SAS forces have been deployed in Libya since the beginning of the year, according to a confidential briefing given to US congressional leaders by the king of Jordan.
    A leaked memo indicates the US lawmakers were personally briefed by King Abdullah in January about plans for Jordan’s special forces to operate in the country alongside the British.”
    Interesting pts:
    The memo indicates that Abdullah also told US lawmakers:
    • The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “believes in a radical Islamic solution to the problems in the region” and the “fact that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy, and Turkey keeps getting a slap on the hand, but they get off the hook”.
    • Intelligence agencies want to keep terrorist websites “open so they can use them to track extremists” and Google had told the Jordanian monarch “they have 500 people working on this”.
    • Israel “looks the other way” at the al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra on its border with Syria because “they regard them as an opposition to Hezbollah”.

  45. SmoothieX12 says:

    Russia does need THE bargain and this is precisely for the reason of Russia not willing to become global policeman or “superpower” in neocon sense.

  46. Joe100 says:

    The Russian special forces officer who died calling airstrikes on his position was Lieutenant Orenburg Sasha Prokhorenko. He will be awarded the title of hero of Russia by Vladimir Putin:

  47. turcopolier says:

    Chapeau! pl

  48. Tunde says:

    I read the same too, with eyebrow arched. The U.K. Is revisiting the Libya issue (foreign select committee meetings and the like) but I fail to see its strategic importance to the UK beyond the energy and business opportunities. UK involvement there has been ramping up since at least late 2014 early 2015. The cynic in me attributes this to a budget justification to “UK interests” because of George Osborne’s very deep cuts at the FCO.

  49. Tunde says:
    One of the commenters makes a point that the bat insignia indicates that the soldier belonged to a GRU Spetnaz unit

  50. Thomas says:

    “…the decorated war hero…”
    Courtesy of parental protection, the man was flying an aircraft that was capable of out maneuvering a surface to air missile if the proper inputs were applied. You see there are times in life when it is inappropriate to be a maverick. He was fortunate to survive such a critical error.

  51. Thomas says:

    For accuracy sakes, the sidekick is from South Carolina, and was promoted for his service in the JAG corps. Even a REMF deserves reward for work well done! Whether he earned it I do not know.

  52. The Beaver says:

    WRT Erdogan: He is miffed by this video and his henchmen are taking it on the German Embassy staff

  53. Joe100 says:

    Prokhorenko looks much more like SF to me than JSOC…
    And I should have said his family will be awarded his Hero of Russia award.
    Also in regard to STFU, his wife had no idea he was in Syria.

  54. The Beaver says:

    @ Tunde
    Bernard”b” has a good article today on MoA and near the end in the conclusion, the author Richard Galustian said this:
    “The UK also has a new obstacle. On March 16 the UK Foreign Affairs Select Committee, which is investigating UK policy in Libya, and indeed PM David Cameron himself, demanded the government seek permission for any Libya deployment from parliament. The UK, which had been expected to take a lead in air strikes, military training, logistics and security in Tripoli has had to put its plans on ice. The British government then promptly announced it had no plans for deployments, and promised parliament to announce such plans if they developed. A volte face.”

  55. SmoothieX12 says:

    He looks pretty standard young Russian junior officer fresh from academy. He graduated Air Defense Academy in Smolensk, which points out to his engineering background, but because he had also command VUS (Voenno-Uchetnaya Specialnost’–Military Registry Specialty) he went to the field. Among my naval academy’s class-mates several went to serve in GRU, including changing black naval uniform to green ones.

  56. bth says:

    Colonel is there anyway to predict when and how fast a military force just collapses in the field? It seems like we’re watching a balloon pop; its there, then it isn’t. Maybe the locals can time these things? I’m pretty sure the Pentagon can’t.

  57. Joe100,
    Prokhorenko will get his due from Russia and Putin. I salute his dedication. He was doing a direct action mission rather than UW. We called it SICTA (strategic intelligence collection/target acquisition). I am not surprised that his wife didn’t know he was in Syria. SWMBO still doesn’t know some of the places I’ve been and the things I’ve done. It was just the way we did things back then. We never carried any identifying data into combat zones. It was known as being sterile. We never had cell phones back then, but I can’t imagine modern SF or Spec Ops personnel carrying such identifying personal items with them. I know regular troops and intel personnel have personal cellphones with them all the time. It’s a different culture that I can’t buy into.

  58. turcopolier says:

    It is a matter of judgment based on experience. If you are in the field in the midst of all this you can “feel” the gathering momentum as the other side starts to go down. the metaphor I have used several times of a brick wall slowly leaning away from pressure and then suddenly gathering speed as it topples applies. pl

  59. bth says:

    Are there visible indicators that we could detect in open source news? I would imagine refugee flows, desertion rates and commodity pricing might reflect some measurable change we could track from afar. But then a retreat and a route are different but both would impact these measures the same? Still there must be some rules of thumb an experienced hand must see, as every battlefield commander that ever lived must have asked this question.

  60. cynic says:

    They keep on doing that sort of thing. It’s unlikely anything serious will be done about it. Years ago I saw an article by I think someone who had been an Israeli soldier, explaining that whatever the official rules say, their rabbis encourage it.
    Here’s a recent article pointing out that they can always claim to be acting under ‘wartime rules’ against the gentiles, in accordance with Deuteronomy.
    ‘ed note–in order to understand the ‘protocols’ being followed, here, people need to first understand how all of this is viewed according to Halachic, meaning Judaic religious law
    The teachings of the Torah are clear. The Jews have been commanded by their deity, Yahweh, to murder the non-Judaic elements of the holy land in ‘redeeming’ it and in making it pure. It does not matter if it is a man carrying a knife, a mother carrying a baby or a child carrying a toy. The ‘god’ of the Jews did not differentiate–kill them all, even their lifestock, to wit–
    “When the LORD your God brings you into the land you are to possess and casts out the many peoples living there, you shall then slaughter them all and utterly destroy them…You shall save nothing alive that breathes…You shall make no agreements with them nor show them any mercy. You shall destroy their altars, break down their images, cut down their groves and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people unto the LORD thy God and He has chosen you to be a special people above all others upon the face of the earth…”–Book of Deuteronomy
    It is for this reason then that in every single instance where a soldier or settler murders a Gentile, they can claim as their defense the very same excuse used in this case–they so-and-so was following ‘wartime protocols’.’

  61. YT says:

    Thank you for correcting me.

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