1.5 km. to the Castello Road …


"Frankly, I doubt that Suheil has enough men and tanks in hand to accomplish the closure of the Aleppo pocket from the north."  Quoting myself in my post "The Greatest Battle."


"After the liberation of the Mallah Farms, the Syrian Army troops are now deployed in only 1,5 km from the militants’ last supply line to Aleppo City – the Castello road.

This poses a significant threat to Al Nusra and its allies in Aleppo. If pro-government forces are able to cut off the Castello road, the militants will be besieged in the northeastern part of the city without any supplies."  South Front


If the map is accurate the R+6 has now come close to the presumptive objective of Suheil's operation.  IMO this is the isolation of the rebel zone in Aleppo City and we will learn a couple of things:

  1. Will the rebels commit all available force to hold the Castello Road open?
  2. Will the Suheil Task Force have sufficient mass and fire support to seize control of a section of Castello Road?
  3. If the R+6 force does seize a piece of the road will this force be strong enough to defend that position against an inevitable massed rebel counter-offensive?  pl 


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74 Responses to 1.5 km. to the Castello Road …

  1. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    re: “massed rebel counter-offensive”
    What would be your recommendations to the Russian air assets in such a case?
    Ishmael Zechariah
    P.s: Things are getting warmish in TR. Mayhap tayyip should remember Hosea 8:7.

  2. turcopolier says:

    IMO you want to have them pile up against your defensive positions and the butcher them working your way from back to front. Too bad they do not have AC-130 and A-10 true equivalents. When they crack and start to run then you should pursue them on the ground and make sure as few as possible get away. Think Murat or JEB Stuart. pl

  3. Joe100 says:

    How susceptible are AC-130 gunships to manpads and other AA weapons that Al Nusra is likely armed with?

  4. turcopolier says:

    I’m just a simple grunt but it seems to me that AC-130s can shoot from way high. Ask MSF about that and there is a question of counter-measures on the big bird. BTW, MANPAD warheads are small. firing one at a Spookie would probably be your last act. pl

  5. Exordium_Antipodean says:

    It seems a heavy regiment of airstrikes and artillery are compensating for the chronic manpower shortage. For now at least.

  6. Booby says:

    Colonel & IZ
    One of the Marine arty officers at Khe Sahn was a major born in Pakistan. His favorite tactic when the NVA massed to attack the lines was to box the NVA with arty & close the back of the box with rolling barrages. Supposedly he got a bit excited during one attack & called for “death to the infidels” & his fellow Marines reminded him that they were the infidels.

  7. BabelFish says:

    Not an expert but the latest model Stinger has an approximate 5 mile range. A lot of the Russian derived Manpads, older models, are rated as having a little less than half that range. We lost an AC during desert storm to a Strela Manpad. The normal operating altitude for an AC is quoted as 12,000 feet, which looks to be in the engagement envelope for the older Russian stuff.

  8. LeaNder says:

    Ahmet C. Celebiler
    3 Terrorists, marine gun fire, two suicide bombs and possibly grenades at Istanbul Ataturk airport Int’l departures entrance and car park.

  9. kooshy says:

    Seems like Mr. Edro and Turkey’ elites, like their european and American allies are heavily harvesting fruits of their Syrian and Greater new Mideast, north african policie, the rest of the world is watching in silence laughter. It’s a shame.

  10. Lord Curzon says:

    A toast to a fellow Gunner, and funny as f**k!

  11. Brunswick says:

    During the day, below 10,000 metres, very. That limits accuracy and what weapons systems can be used.
    At night however, well, the Night Belongs to Them.

  12. Brunswick says:

    MANPAD’s go for the “hot spot”, ie. the engines.
    One “hit” and if “Spookie” is still flying, it’s flying home.
    Other than the A-10, Hinds and Su-25’s, most birds are pretty fragile.
    But at night, with it’s sensor suite turning day into night for the crew, while the sky is still black on the ground, and that glowing rain of death showering down, AC-130’s can come in lower, into MANPAD range.

  13. Akira says:

    Unicorns will soon be dropping on DAESH from the SKY!!!!

  14. Chris Chuba says:

    I’m not saying that it is as good as an A10 but it looks like the closest thing that the Russians have are their attack helicopters. Here are two of the more impressive ones that I read about in Syria; the Ka-50 and the Mi-28.
    They mention electronic counter-measures for the Ka-52 specifically, I recall reading that elsewhere that it was for MANPAD’s. No Russian attack helicopters were shot down in Syria.
    For that Ka-50, it has one main canon with 460 rounds, and any combination of either 100 rockets, or 12 missiles, or up to 4 bombs, or more gun pods (the entry didn’t say how many) that can be attached on hard points. It’s not an A10 but I wouldn’t try to get the pilot’s attention if I was on the ground.
    Maybe R+6 has a better chance to succeed at Aleppo now that they have given up on the Raqqa project. It doesn’t seem like the Jihadis at Aleppo are as into VBIEDs as ISIS. I recall hearing about Al Nusra doing that but ISIS does that twice before breakfast.

  15. alba etie says:

    Ishmael Zechariah
    Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of the Ataturk Airport . Early reports suggest it could have been much worse – it looks like at least one police officer perhaps more gave their lives so that the bombers could not get all the way into the main terminal -( God Bless all of our Law Enforcement Officers everywhere .) Our MSM is reporting that it is probable this was the ISIS/Daesh . From your vantage point is that the only likely terrorist group that could have perpetrated this attack ?
    Our MSM is also stating that Daesh did this because Erdogan has become more aggressive towards ISIS/Daesh — in your opinion is this true ? Does the supposed recent Erdogan reset with Netanyahu also have any bearing on whether ISIS/ Daesh is becoming more aggressive in Turkey ? It is so hard to understand what is ground truth in our Global Village these days – its why many of us come here.
    Again condolences to all of the innocent victims in today’s attack . And to try to get back on topic here- I am hopeful & confident that the Russian Air Force can do what Col Lang recommends ‘from front to back ‘ of all the jihadist ranks .. with or without Warthogs in the CAS mix ..

  16. JiuJitsuMMA says:

    Joe, Colonel Lang,
    Interesting article on AC-130 during Iraq War & Fallujah battle from
    Defense News http://www.dnipogo.org/grossman/troops_in_fallujah.htm
    with interview with Lt. General Smith, Deputy Commander of CENTCOM -Summary according to him: AC-130 is great close air support but is limited to mostly night missions because while it can safely fly above 20,000 feet to reach the area,
    targeting & weapons systems have an effective range of around 7000-10,000 feet altitude which puts it within range of shoulder-launched MANPADs & AAA, which caused at least 7 AC-130s to be shot down
    Previous Iraq War, an AC-130 was shot down from 1 shoulder-launched MANPAD during daylight
    6+ other AC-130s were shot down from one shoulder-fired MANPAD or 37mm anti-aircraft fire during the Vietnam War detailed here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_AC-130
    from DefenseNews link:
    “Longtime rules on how the gunship can be used in combat limit the AC-130 to nighttime operations, ground and air officials say. The aircraft’s electro-optical and infrared sensors are optimized for use at night. Human targets on the ground stand out distinctly on screens inside the specially fitted cargo aircraft, with the shadows and clutter of daytime eliminated, according to air officers.
    At the same time, the gunship has a large profile, flies in predictable orbits and can only lumber out of harm’s way, according to air officers. While cargo versions of the C-130 routinely fly daytime missions, their pilots try to avoid threat areas rather than linger right over them, these officials say.
    In some critical instances, AC-130s actually may be used in Iraq during the day, according to a top CENTCOM official.
    “If the situation absolutely required the AC-130 to operate during daylight hours, then it would be used that way,” Air Force Lt. Gen. Lance Smith,
    CENTCOM’s deputy commander, told Inside the Pentagon this week.
    “Both the commanders and crews will do whatever is necessary to best support the troops on the ground, given the total complex of systems available.”
    Others with AC-130 operational experience agree.
    “Obviously they’ve surged aircraft in support of current operations,” says one air officer, who would not offer specific quantities. “There’s … twice as many [in Iraq] as four months ago.”
    But the potential threat to the gunships is far graver in the daytime than is commonly discussed, air officials say. In fact, special operators have generally avoided calling attention to AC-130 vulnerabilities in a bid to make the aircraft appear somewhat invincible to adversaries, officials say.
    “To effectively employ its weapons … the AC-130 has to fly within the envelope of a number of enemy” man-portable air defense systems (MANPADs) and anti-aircraft artillery, “which this enemy has,” says Smith, who participated in one of the first search-and-rescue missions for a downed AC-130 crew during the Vietnam war in 1972. “Contrary to what some on the ground may think, it is very vulnerable during the daytime as it is easy to see and lacks maneuverability.”
    Even if it could survive — “a big ‘if,’” Smith says — the gunship “would either constantly be moving out of its orbit to avoid threats, or [it would] incur combat damage resulting in the system being unavailable for long periods of time due to repairs,” according to the deputy commander.
    How the gunship is used in Iraq is determined by U.S. Special Operations Command’s air component, in conjunction with U.S. Central Command’s air chief, officials say. The first priority for AC-130s is to support special operators on the ground, who lack the firepower of conventional troops. Excess gunship sorties, when available, can be directed to support conventional Army or Marine Corps troops, officials say.

  17. Jimmy_W says:

    I was looking at this recently, and you can fit a ZPU-4 through the passenger door of an Mi-24. Or some recoilless rifles / rockets. The 30-mm gunpods would stick out the door too much, but are feasible, too. It’s not exactly an AC-130, but close enough. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZPU

  18. BraveNewWorld says:

    The two big differences between Raqqa and Aleppo are that the Tigers are running driving the show in Allepo and the Russian are serious about air support for this operation. Those two together will make a huge difference but how far it takes them is still to be seen. Get raedy for a constant stream of “Russian are bombing nurseries and kindergartens” stories from the MSM to try and get Russia to back off. I don’t think it is going to work this time.

  19. Brunswick says:

    The “manuals” help:
    So does understanding the difference between an RPG “rich” environment, ( Afghanistan), and a MANPAD “rich” environment, ( Iraq, 2003)
    And your “bullshit” call, while succinct, followed by a generic AC-130 gunship web page, is vague.
    Are you calling Bullshit on my claim that when Operating during the day, AC- 123 gunships operate at higher altitudes?
    Or are you calling Bullshit on my claim that higher altitudes limit the use of some of the weapon systems onboard the AC-130 gunships?

  20. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Alba Etie, SST;
    There is some “news filtering” going on over here,and the “government” is mouthing standard platitudes. However most sources with some credibility are reporting that the attack is due to ISIS/Daash. An old saying about not making pets of scorpions comes to mind. The attackers were stopped from getting into the terminal proper. This could have been far, far worse.
    Somehow the decent folks of this world need to drain the daash swamp, and convince those who support these vermin to cease and desist. IMO taking apart their structure in Syria is an important part of of this endeavor. Hopefully at some point the truth will prevail.
    Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  21. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to Booby 28 June 2016 at 06:12 PM
    That is hilarious – thank you, I’m going to be chuckling about that one for a long time.

  22. turcopolier says:

    OK you use the AC-130 at night. Happy now? pl

  23. Kunuri says:

    As most of you know here, I work and live in Istanbul, and I am safe and unharmed, but this was close. I use Ataturk Airport very frequently and am very familiar with the area that the attack has occurred. I was at the exact spot just past Sunday to pick up my girlfriend coming in from Germany. Few months back, a similar attack took place at Beyoglu district couple of blocks from where myself and our little community of expats meet at our favorite watering hole Irish Pub.
    Turkey is a huge mess, it is well beyond now that it is led unchallenged by a corrupt religionist oligarchy, there was a time one could be disturbed by it, but ignoring them was an option. Now it is not, the schizophrenic character of this country is no longer amusing, a bridge between east and west mantra is as hollow as I always thought that it was. I honestly don’t know what is holding total madness to set it.

  24. Kunuri says:

    Some are watching in silent agony undoing of Ataturk’s grand vision and legacy, and shame on those who have a part in it knowingly or otherwise.

  25. kooshy says:

    Today the MSM is blaming the terrorist Istanbul airport bombing on Mr. Erdogan. They tell us he is to be blamed since his desired policy of toppling Mr. Assad allowed the terrorist entering in and out of turkey with ease. One wonders if they want us all “need” to believe he is the only one to be blamed, since no one else ever said Mr. “Assad Must GO”.

  26. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Erdogan and AKP have done great service for Israel by helping ruin Syria and Iraq.
    I must admit that the Kemalists, at the international level, were not harmful to their neighbors.

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    One Iranian killed, 4 injured.
    23 – Turkish
    5 – Saudi
    2 – Iraqi
    1 – Chinese; Jordanian; Tunisian; Uzbek; Iranian; Ukrainian; (Palestinian ambassador to Turkey says one Palestinian woman killed)

  28. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The instigators of war in Syria against Assad to contain Iran had the very expectation of quick victory.
    When that failed, there was nothing else for them but to hunker down for a prolonged war of attrition; hoping that Iran would blink and Assad would flee.
    Now they are reaping the whirlwind but their objective remains the containment of Iran – in my opinion.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, it is truly deplorable. And the sad part of is that as all these countries fight among themselves, the farther behind the fall and have fallen.
    Consider: there is no rail-link between Iran and anywhere in the Arab world yet there is a rail link between Iran and China.
    There is no rail link between Iran and Pakistan either.

  30. The Beaver says:

    Total fiasco for the New Syrian Army (trained for 5 months) and dropped into Syria from Jordan.
    After > 10 hours of intense fighting and killing some fled and some were captured
    From this tweet:

  31. Gabriel says:

    To address the latter two of your questions, based on nothing more than having studied past fighting in the area fairly closely for a visualization project, I’d very tentatively make the following points:
    * On point 2, the SAA’s 4th Mechanized Division is occasionally reported as supporting the offensive (https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/tiger-forces-advance-northern-aleppo/). Now, if units of this formation were there in force, this would make it significantly more likely that the pocket could be closed (especially since Russian air support once more seems plentiful), but there are some oob details that make me wonder how strong of a presence this might be.
    During the fighting south and later north of Aleppo from October to February, the 4th Mechanized formations used in the area were the 154th (with a good proportion of sunni recruits and long experience of working in combined arms with Hezbollah, https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-iraqi-paramilitary-reinforcements-arrive-aleppo/) and the 43rd (transferred from garrison duties in Latakia, by all accounts as effective as the 154th). Both are have been reequipped with T-90 for some time now, as well. (There’s a third, rather shadowy “555th Brigade”, but this usually seems to stick around As-Safira and vicinity of Lake Jaboul).
    As far as I can tell, however, the 43rd now operating near Lebanonn frontier in Damascus (https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/hezbollah-syrian-army-ambush-jabhat-al-nusra-lebanese-border/) and 154th last reported in April backstopping that dog’s breakfast of militias south of Aleppo (https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/syrian-army-iraqi-paramilitary-reinforcements-arrive-aleppo/). So unclear to me whether any significant combat units of the 4th Mech are actually engaged in current battle.
    * 3. Going from past form, my guess in that case would be that rebel strategy would probably consist less of head-on attempts to remove Tiger Forces directly, but rather to launch attacks against nearby ground-holding paramilitary/militia units, forcing a redeployment of the first-line force and a contraction of the front that would wipe out the gains (this happened a couple of times south of Aleppo last year, and is, come to think of it, similar to mid-late-war Soviet operational counters to German offensives). This is what makes me a least intensely curious about what other SAA units are in the vicinity. If there are adequate counter-attack forces of the 4th Mech or other conditionally effective units (Desert Hawks, etc.), then gains from the Tiger Forces can probably hold on to their gains. But if it’s the usual potluck of militias…
    (Incidentally, this is what makes the SAA command’s decision to throw reasonable effective units like Desert Hawks and Syrian Marines into that Tabqah/Raqqah thrust so difficult to understand, if this offensive in Aleppo was in the cards.)
    There are of course many other factors in play, and I am in no way suggesting that the above necessarily decisive, or even important, but, to repeat, identity of non-militia units supporting Tiger Forces offensive one variable I really wish I knew in the present circumstances.

  32. Barish says:

    Small world. Been to ‘stanbul last week to meet up with friends again for first time in years, left on Sunday back home via Atatürk Hava Limanı.
    Şehitlerie ve onların ailelere huzur, yaralılara geçmiş olsun.

  33. alba etie says:

    Ishmael Zechariah ,
    From the videos presented on our MSM the Turkish Airport police officers at the outer Ataturk airport perimeter saved the day-yes it surely could have been much much worse. . These Turkish airport officers died defending all of us ‘decent folks’ of the World , in the same way several months ago that Russian Special Forces forward air controller called in an airstrike on his position that was about to be overrun by the Liver Eaters- he was defending all of us too.( I think that was when the R + 6 forces were taking back Palmyra.) Yes hopefully at some point the truth will prevail , Daash is a threat to all of us –

  34. alba etie says:

    Good to hear from you here . Stay safe – we value& look forward to your postings here at SST .

  35. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    And while you are in this “admitting mood”, how about also admitting the fact that the domestic policies of the tayyiban, their economic world view, their “religious beliefs”, in fact their whole existence, can be summarized aptly by that lexical jewel of a term, “clusterfxxk”?
    Ishmael Zechariah

  36. Joe100 says:

    Col Lang –
    Taking your advice as I should have – to do my homework first before asking my AC-130 manpad vulnerability question, it appears from several sources that AC-130’s are vulnerable during daytime to manpads and other AA equipment floating around in Syria. Nighttime operations in the Middle East appear safe and have apparently been very effective. A few relevant quotes and citations below:
    “Longtime rules on how the gunship can be used in combat limit the AC-130 to nighttime operations, ground and air officials say”
    “But the mere threat of these missiles [manpads] has forced coalition and Iraqi aircraft to adopt special landing and takeoff procedures that make flying rather more uncomfortable. The missiles have also had an impact on combat operations. The U.S. Air Force, which controls the use the AC-130 gunships, refuses to allow them to be used during daylight. The main reason for this prohibition, which decreases enemy losses, and gets Americans killed, is the possible presence of MANPADS.”
    “The first gunship to enter the Battle of Khafji helped stop a southbound Iraqi armored column on 29 January 1991. One day later, three more gunships provided further aid to Marines participating in the operation. The gunships attacked Iraqi positions and columns moving south to reinforce their positions north of the city.
    Despite the threat of surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and increasing visibility during the early morning hours of 31 January 1991, one AC-130H, AF Serial No. 69-6567, call-sign Spirit 03, opted to stay to continue to protect the Marines. A lone Iraqi with a Strela-2 MANPADS shot Spirit 03 down, and all 14 crew members died.”

  37. Babak Makkinejad says:

    How many times was Aziz Nasin sent to jail because he was exercising his right to Free Speech granted in the Kemalist Constitution?
    How many women in scarves were denied access to government buildings and services under the Kemalists?
    Did Kemalist, during their 80 60 years in power, succeed in reducing Turkey’s dependence on European Banks – itself a legacy of the Ottomans?
    And how many times did the Kemalists overthrew the legal government because they did not like it? I suppose hanging Mendres was the epitome of the ideals of Mustapha Kemal?
    Why are you only 50% of the population and not 90%; after 60 years of being in power?
    Mind you, I am deeply disappointed in AKP.

  38. Gabriel says:

    I was, unsurprisingly, quite wrong. Direct Nusra+ counterattack supported by VBIEDs forced Tiger Forces withdrawal from Al Mallah today (6/29).
    See-saw fighting obviously to be expected in this kind of fighting, so perhaps not too much should be read into it, but strengthens point many SST readers have made that Tiger Forces simply not large enough to carry out this offensive unsupported by other first line units.

  39. turcopolier says:

    IMO the inability of the R+6 to come up with enough forces to provide a follow on echelon for Suheil’s offensive is a very bad sign. I will write a piece about this and its implications when the situation becomes a bit clearer to me. pl

  40. Barish says:

    Or not. Granted, it’s Twitter, but according to this here an-Nimr’s men are holding the line:
    Usually one of the more reliable users there.

  41. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    You did not answer my question, but answered one of your own. Let me ask again: Is there a single area where the tayyiban, these religious-appearing thieves, have succeeded to make life better for Turkey and the world?
    Re: your “straw-man” above:
    First, can you show me a SINGLE country (including your beloved Iran) where there is ideal governance, and the issues you list above do not occur? Please be specific.
    Second, integrated over time the secular governments were good for Turkey/ME in both external and internal areas. Care to dispute this?
    Finally, re: “how many times did the Kemalists overthrew the legal government”? First define this “legal government”? Do you mean one “elected” by snout counting? Second, do you know how many times the “legal” government needed to be overthrown? The AKP is not being overthrown since most decided that we should leave these cretins drown in their own excrement. They are certainly doing a great job of it. A wonderful example of islamic governance. Problem is, quite a few innocents will drown in the effluent when the dam breaks.
    I am glad you are “disappointed”. It is a relief.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    AKP, domestically, empowered those Muslims whom the Kemalist were suppressing for the better part of 60 years in Anatolia; both in economic and in cultural arena – thus helping to ameliorate one of the schisms inside Turkey.
    I would agree that AKP has failed the test of Islamic Charity and Comity; it has been accomplice in ruining the lives of Muslims in another country.
    In my reading, it is the other 50 % of the Turkish electorate that bear responsibility as well; I guess as long as their womenfolk can wear hejab, their attitude is “Damn the Syrians.”
    On the theoretical level, since I believe that Muslim societies cannot be secular in the sense of Western Europeans, the rule of AKP, in my opinion, was a step in the right direction.
    I was not raising a straw man; Nasin went to prison multiple because there was no freedom of speech in Turkey under Kemalists. But everything that they did or claim to do was under the rubric of “Modernization” and “Progress”. There was neither freedom of Thought, nor Consciences, nor Assembly – but men were wearing European Clothes and women were out of hejab – progress indeed.
    In Iran, at least the Supreme Jurisprudent has explicitly stated that there is no “Freedom” in Islam – such ideas have to be explored within Islam and grafted onto it. That is the beginning.
    But Kemalists had their chance and blew it.

  43. Kunuri says:

    “Why are you only 50% of the population and not 90%; after 60 years of being in power?”
    A little point of clarity here BM, and you please draw your own conclusions. Tabulate AKP support around Turkey, 49%, against the education level of its voters and supporters, worldliness, travel around the world, internet use, perhaps a second language-and attitudes towards religion. You will be hard pressed to reach 5%, rest will be dead weight, A4 blank brains waiting to be written on by a world class populist and rhetorician. Try not to blame the Kemalists for a population resisting to enter even the 18th century.

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In a discussion with other Iranians years ago, an idea emerged that without the Shah there would be no Khomeini.
    While I would be the first to agree that some of Atatürk’s frontal assaults on traditional Turkish institutions and culture were a necessity to get Turkey out of the rut and rot of so many centuries of being wrong, I cannot agree to the continuation of such policies after his death.
    [I can never condone expulsion of the Pontics – that was a crime against humanity or a crime against Islam, depending on your point of view.]
    I think Kemalists succeeded in entrenching the idea of representative government and voting in Turkey. I think that is a great achievement and it is owed to Kemalists.
    However, they failed, or did not even try, in developing a Liberal dispensation in Turkey over a 60-period. It was a police state then and it is a police state now. They put Nazin Hikmat – the greatest poet in Turkish language – in jail because he was a communist while jailing the likes of Aziz Nasin for pointing out the venality & stupidity of the government.
    Had they succeeded in that task, every Muslim country would have followed Turkey and copied her. In that respect, Kemalists not only failed Turkey but they also failed the wider Muslim World – in my opinion.

  45. jld says:

    On the theoretical level, since I believe that Muslim societies cannot be secular in the sense of Western Europeans, the rule of AKP, in my opinion, was a step in the right direction.

    And… WHERE the Kemalists were supposed to go in a “non secular Muslim society”?

  46. Babak Makkinejad says:

    And your point being what?

  47. Fred says:

    wised up,
    The latest news headline is that the terrorist were all from the former USSR. You know, Russians.
    “Yeni Safak newspaper said the Russian bomber was from Dagestan, which borders Chechnya.”
    Chechnya was were the Boston marathon bombers were from. That connection will not be mentioned because they were good “refugees/immigrants”.

  48. Gabriel says:

    Saw this a little later. “We shall find out,” as Larkin said, but wanted to take chance to completely agree that Sidorenko very much worth following, and recommend the guy to any SST user interested in Syria at the level of detail being discussed here.

  49. mike says:

    Barish – Sidorenko is NOT so reliable. He typically calls American, Brit or French airstrikes on Daesh in Fallujah (and previously in Ramadi) as being done by the Iraqi air force. The guy is at best a dupe of his own sources, or worse a propagandist.
    All – Don’t know about the new AC-130’s. But in Nam I only saw them at night. They lit up the sky with the tracers of their gatling guns streaming down like fire breathing dragons. Which was why we called them ‘Puff’ like the Peter Paul and Mary song. Same for their predecessor the AC-47, the original Spooky.

  50. Gabriel says:

    Looking forward to it. May I add one further observation, purely because it’s one that I think might not be obvious unless one’s been looking at the same sector of the front over the course of a few months?
    The issue for the SAA is very often presented as one of “force generation” and individual unit quality, but I think something that’s at least as damaging is a question of command structure, namely:
    1) Parallel or “siloed” formations
    2) Unit churn (to call it something).
    On (1) I can do no better than to refer to this **excellent** blog post on the failed Tabqa offensive, which, in spite of its title, could actually stand as the best (if in some small ways a shade over-hostile) single summary of the state of the SAA as it exists today, http://spioenkop.blogspot.com/2016/06/no-end-in-sight-failed-tabqa-offensive.html

    But perhaps the most serious problem with the different forces fighting for the regime is that some units have become so powerful that these are now essentially private armies. Many of these elite units consist mainly of Alawites originating from Syria’s coastal region or minorities (mostly Druzes) and are extremely sectarian as a result. These units make up much of the regime’s offensive capabilities, and received the largest share of Russian-supplied weaponry in the past year, including T-90s. The now infamous Tiger Forces, led by Suheil ‘The Tiger’ al-Hassan and Suqour al-Sahraa’ (The Desert Falcons) are the best-known examples of these private armies, and appear to be neither under SyAA or NDF command, but rather taking orders straight from the Syrian High Command or President Bashar al-Assad. This means that if one of these two units operate alongside SyAA or NDF units, different commanders from different branches of the regime’s military are issuing different orders while both pursuing the exact same objective. It does occasionally happen that either of the two units take command and issues orders to forces of other branches, but this creates a whole host of other problems as many of the (semi-)independent militias are anything but keen to receive orders from a different branch (which was indeed a common complaint heard during the offensive on Tabqa). This proved to be less of a problem at Tadmur, where the Russian Armed Forces had considerable influence upon the whole operation.

    The force tasked with capturing Tabqa airbase and the town of Tabqa itself consisted of no less than eleven different branches and factions out of three (technically four) different countries, comprising Suqour al-Sahraa’, the Syrian Arab Army (further divided into at least two regiments, at least believed to have been part of the 4th Armoured Division), the Syrian Arab Air Force, the National Defence Force (further divided into the Golan Regiment and several smaller regiments), the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), the Ba’ath Brigades, the Arab Nationalist Guard, the Republican Guard, Hizbullah [I think oryx might be wrong about these last two, G.], the Russian Army and the Russian Air Force, each operating its own tanks and equipment. In addition, the Syrian Navy Seals also took part in the operation, although it remains unknown under what branch this unit serves. No Shiite militias are believed to have taken part in the fighting, likely due to their preoccupation with holding the front in Southern Aleppo.

    (2) is a little more difficult to show from a single source, but you can an idea of it the reports of the forces accompanying the Tiger forces in their latest push. Now, everyone knows about variable combat effectiveness of militia units (NDF, al Bath battalions, etc.), but Tiger Forces worked successfully with some of them in breaking siege of Kuweires airbase, then advance northwest. However, instead of keeping these units and their commanders (who’ve gained some experience of working together in spite of their units institutional affiliations) together, SAA command then sent the Tiger Forces to Palmyra, etc., and they seemed only recently to have assembled to launch the al-Malah offensives. Militia and paramilitary units unavoidable in this kind of war, but it remains something of a mystery to me why the regime does not at least “marry” them to different first-line units, so that they become used to working together.
    Only historical parallels to this wild indifference about command stability (?–afraid I don’t know the correct military term) I can think of at the moment are the Union Army (very esp. AoP) and the French of the Second Empire.
    As in above parallels, I suppose a good deal of the answer about why the regime insists on doing this is political–any cohesive unit above weak-brigade potentially dangerous, but even with that in mind I find this constant mixing-and-matching of units across fronts baffling. Coup-proofing, OK fine, but I’d have thought these the silo’d force structure oryxblog discussed in (1) would’ve taken care of that, at least well enough until a key campaign of the war has actually been won. To repeat, this is an aspect of SAA (and/or Iranian and Russian) current strategy I simply wished I understood better.
    (As usual, however, all this from someone who’s about as far from being a professional as it’s possible to get, so I present it purely as someone who’s been following the day-to-day Syria fighting for purposes that involved trying to get a sense of the oob of the actors in play.)

  51. turcopolier says:

    In the light of Syria’s pre-existing sectarian/political mosaic taken and also in the light of a weakened central government such a “structure” is inevitable. The whole drive of the post colonial government was to unify these factions no matter what it took. That was always one of the main complaints the factions had against the central government. pl

  52. jld says:

    Again you play dumb when faced with an annoying question.
    The “point” is that non secular muslims (but not “Radical” either Eh?) WOULD NOT TOLERATE that the Kemalists live a secular life, so my question:
    Where are they supposed to go?

  53. jld says:

    every Muslim country would have followed Turkey and copied her
    Weasel words, you are contradicting yourself from one comment to the next, you stated precisely that muslims would not abide by secular values, I know, I know, Taqiya oblige…

  54. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I do not understand what you mean by secular values; it must be a Diocletian thing – these “Secular Values”, no?
    Do not presume to debate with me on Taqqiyah – the aim of which is not the preservation of the individual but the preservation of Islam.
    The task that Kemalists failed in accomplishing was the creation of Conceptual, Institutional, and Legal structures for Freedom in a Muslim milieu – a milieus in which the Call of Mua’zan, 5 times a day, indicates the privileged Speech of God in a there.
    They failed to amalgamate the Principle of Freedom with the Principles of Islam which is, in my opinion, the only conceivable way to safeguard Freedom within a Muslim society.

  55. Babak Makkinejad says:

    There is no such thing as a secular Muslim either; but I did not take it to task because I do not wish to belabor all these things.
    They do not refer to themselves as such either; the best analogy in Christendom for them are them are the members of the Anglican Communion: “Where are all Christians and we are all saved. Now let us move on to other more pressing issues.” The other analogy for them are the so-called “Secular Jews” – they oppose fundies and not Judaism.

  56. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “Where are they supposed to go?”
    Don’t you see, that is the problematic of Muslim societies – it is “Either/Or” with not one whiff of accommodation.
    I think, recently, in Iran, at a personal level, the less religious and the more religious are making adjustments to one another.
    To be concrete: in some weddings, the men’s and women’s parties are separated to accommodate the bride or the grooms side of the family.
    But this is a long process and in Iran, specifically, the initial attitude of the victorious revolutionaries had been a very explicit invitation for the more Europeanized Iranians to decamp to the West. Which many proceeded to do at great capital costs to the Iranian society.
    Regrettably, today, also many people find it more congenial to live outside of Iran because of its imposed religiosity.

  57. Barish says:

    My impression was that he’s preoccupied with the Syrian theatre (as well as fooling around). Some footage and messages from Iraq are relayed in his feed, true, but it’s clearly not a focus.
    And, as I said: Twitter’s not exactly the most detailed nor thorough of platforms. Regarding the matter at hand, though, reports have come in throughout the day that Nusra and colleagues were driven off the positions held by SAA in Mallah farms. So the word of mouth he received about SAA holding on may have had some truth in it.

  58. jld says:

    I didn’t presume that Taqqiyah was for preservation of the individual.
    Yes, the Kemalists’ “error” was not to submit to an unacceptable dictum.
    You are now expanding a lot of words to defend the indefensible: the pretense to rule over non muslim people lives.
    I see why you think the Chinese are the “worst”, Islam may destroy Western Civilization but it will not destroy the Chinese.

  59. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Would you care to guess what your precious AKP, or Iraniam Mullahs would have done to Aziz Nesin? Please try to be terse.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  60. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The fact remains that for over 60 years, the Kemalist, the self-proclaimed modernizers, failed in adopting the indubitably Western practices of individual autonomy and liberty in the new Turkish state. They did not supply a credible and functioning example of how Liberty could be practiced in a Muslim society nor created the space for it.
    Kemalists and the AKP crowd have one thing in common: “My Way or Highway.”

  61. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Iranian equivalent of Aziz Nasin would have been dead under the Shah and likely in jail under the Islamic Republic. Tolerance for dissenting views in Iran is even less than in Turkey. That is not in dispute here.
    The dispute, or disagreement really, is the assignation of responsibility to Kemalists that for more than 60 years practiced “garrison secularism”.
    Where was Liberty during their rule?
    For Kemalists – indeed many of their counterparts in other parts of Muslim world – “secularism” meant drinking alcohol and having their womenfolk outside of hejab. It was the obverse program of the more religious-minded Muslims (no alcohol, women in hejab).
    But when it came to tolerance of dissenting views, freedom of speech and assembly etc. – they were uniformly AWOL.
    I repeat again my views in regards to Iran:
    The significance of the Islamic Revolution in Iran is that it brought forth a social revolution of the Iranian society – akin to that of the French Revolution – under the motto of “Freedom, Independence, Islamic Republic”.
    It further ushered in a new state that was based on the amalgamation of the Principles of Islam and that of Republicanism and remains the longest existing constitutional order among Muslim polities.
    Lastly, this Platonic republic established a Jurisprudential Authority on the rulings of Islam and removed them from public domain – disabling the anarchic autonomy of individual Muslims.

  62. jld says:

    How cute!
    Remind me how Liberty practised in western countries (Belgium, UK, Germany, Nordic countrie, etc, etc…) does so well with the fringe Muslims (not Radicals, not Radicals…) in their middle?
    The Kemalists, not being idiots KNEW VERY WELL what to do and not to with these “fringe cases” like Assad, Saddam, Gaddafi, El Sisi, BTW.
    You are blatantly disingenuous, good Taqqiyah, good Taqqiyah…

  63. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You are entitled to your ignorance, of both the Western Diocletian and Muslim states.
    But it behooves the ignoramus to take notice when someone with deep insight addresses himself to their ignorance.

  64. jld says:

    LOL, the self-proclaimed world expert on Diocletian and Islam resorting to low key ad hominem.
    What I was refering to were CURRENT EVENTS known to everybody not crackpot theories about history.

  65. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Not at all, I shared with you my estimation of your level of understanding so that you may seek to remedy it – if you so chose. It is an old habit, from the days I was an instructor.
    As for my “crackpot theories of history” – you do not need and are not required to read my comments and responses; you can continue to live in your fantasy world, or the world that was bequeathed to you by other fantasists.

  66. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    What has been under discussion is the mess your dear AKP made of Turkey in all spheres, foreign and domestic. They have been an unmitigated disaster-and the only “good” you have been able to claim is to “AKP, domestically, empowered those Muslims whom the Kemalist were suppressing for the better part of 60 years in Anatolia; both in economic and in cultural arena – thus helping to ameliorate one of the schisms inside Turkey.” Do you realize how wrong this is? Do you know the unemployment rate, the trade imbalance, the lost industrial production, the nepotism and placement of religious morons in positions they are ill equipped for-leading to all the disasters so far, and truly polarizing society? Do you know of the sharp increase in clashes between seculars and islamist vermin? Some amelioration! These same vermin hate and target the Alawaties and the Shia. If they get you, I am sure they will ameliorate you. Care to dispute it?
    You then make nonsensical claims: “For Kemalists – indeed many of their counterparts in other parts of Muslim world – “secularism” meant drinking alcohol and having their womenfolk outside of hejab. It was the obverse program of the more religious-minded Muslims (no alcohol, women in hejab).
    Arrant nonsense, betraying complete ignorance of what Ataturk’s Republic was all about. Can you show me a credible reference for this twaddle? Perhaps you could point us to a list of books which you base your conclusions on, with sections and pages? Do you think the successful foreign policy of the secular republics were due to “women and drink”?
    Then kindly discuss the actions of your “Morality Police” in light of “disabling the anarchic autonomy of individual Muslims.“. Do not forget those filth who throw acid on women they deem immodestly dressed. Some Platonic republic! Yet another islamic hellhole run by zealots purporting to represent God. And you find it regrettable that “ many people find it more congenial to live outside of Iran because of its imposed religiosity.“.
    Your propaganda is reprehensible.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  67. jld says:

    Yup, when cornered declare victory, that’s the cheapest solution!
    As Ishmael Zechariah said your fellow muslims will “ameliorate you”, but if you are unjustly beheaded that counts as martyrdom and you can claim your 72 virgins, right?
    Good luck “instructor”. 😀

  68. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I have answered your questions.
    I have also stated my opinions; regarding Kemalists, AKP, Islamic Iran, etc.
    You have not stated anything so far that would cause me to revise my opinion of the Kemalists failure in cultivating Freedom and Liberty during their long reign in power.
    And I will not repeat my other criticisms of Kemalists.
    I understand that you consider Islamic Republic a Hell-Hole. That is fine. That Hell-Hole still remains, in my opinion, the only positive path forward for Muslim people; Shia or Sunni.
    I also think a common political, religious program between Islamic Iran, together with Turkey, against Jihadists is the only path forward to fight scourge of terrorism among Muslims.
    You and the Kemalists think you can do better, let us hear your program.

  69. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You have implied and insinuated that I am a liar and charlatan. Unless and until you publicly apologize to me on this forum I will never respond to you.

  70. jld says:

    LOL, new heights in pretentiousness and ego inflation world records.

  71. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    You have answered nothing. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion but, sadly, you refuse to discuss facts. Forget what could be, talk about what “is”. Your dear AKP and Iran are supporting the same groups in the Syrian war, right? The Shia and Sunni love each other, right? They cannot be played against each other, right? AKP politicians are decent people, right? KSA is the “pinnacle” of Islam, right, or is that tayyip? Sigh…
    Ishmael Zechariah

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