Douma, Syria falls to the R+6


"Pro-government forces have opened up a new front against militant groups in Hama Governorate’s northern countryside, rapidly liberating a key town.

According to military-affiliated sources, the Syrian Arab Army and local fighters from the National Defence Forces attacked rebel positions around the town of Douma early this morning under cover of airstrikes and artillery bombardment."  AMN


It is clear now that while cleaning up the messy situation around the Abu Kamal/al Qa'im border crossing remains important to the R+6, the main action has moved to a major effort to re-take Idlib Province and force the Turks to go back cross the border into their own country.

What we are seeing is a concentric attack with axes of advance all around the southern borders of Idib Province from north of Hama City, then out along Route 42 then north to up near Khanassar. 

IMO the HTS do not have enough men and materiel to cover that many avenues of advance.  After a period of grinding down HTS, the R+6 will break through somewhere and then a general collapse is likely to take place as the R+6 forces surge forward in exploitation across the fertile plains of Idlib Province.

I just heard General (Ret.) Keane make the claim on Fox Business News that the Russians and the Syrian Armed Forces have done little to defeat IS.  How absurd!  This man, a former Vice Chief of Staff  of the US Army, is representative of the mindset of so many military people who struggled long against the Soviet threat and are so rigid that they cannot grasp the possibility that today's Russia is not necessarily an enemy.  He reminds me of a number of very senior officers who wnnted to fight me and intimidate me to accept their view of reality even as I and my people were briefing them.  This was true when I was an SES and the equivalent of a lieutenant general.  Keane is chairman of the board of the neocon run Institute for the Study of War.  pl

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23 Responses to Douma, Syria falls to the R+6

  1. Imagine says:

    OT: Nikki Haley & Air Force are going with Saudi claims that Houthi’s airport missile was an Iranian Qiam, not a native SCUD. Any evidence for or against?
    If nations are now being held responsible for how their munitions are used, would America have any liability for the genocide the Saudis are accomplishing in Yemen? Or only the user?

  2. Annem says:


  3. b says:

    The U.S. moved ISIS fighters from Raqqa to Abu Kamal. No wonder there is such trouble there.
    The BBC now covers a story (with more details) I had posted on my site on October 14.
    Raqqa’s dirty secret
    Free Passage Deal For ISIS In Raqqa – U.S. Denies Involvement – Video
    Proves It Lies

  4. jld says:

    Please use caps sparingly (makes it harder to read anyway, so…)

  5. Fred says:

    The oil fields won’t be going anywhere. The HTS fighters can’t flee anywhere if they are dead.

  6. “b” – I’m sticking my neck out here but hasn’t this been done regularly by all sides in the Syrian war? An agreement is made with the Jihadis that they should leave an urban fortified area and get bussed elsewhere. This saves civilian lives, also saves the lives of the soldiers attacking them, and preserves what buildings are left.
    TTG has pointed out recently that Jihadis behind prepared fortifications are difficult to deal with. An agreement that gets them out of their fortifications is sensible, even though the agreement can look like collusion to outside observers.
    These agreements seem to be made regularly by the Syrian side and have saved a lot of casualties. I fully agree that the tragedy in Syria is of Western making, but that does not alter the fact that here the Americans followed established practice. The taking of Raqqa looks as if it was something of a shambles because the proxy forces weren’t that good or that experienced. It looks almost as if a form of carpet bombing was used to make up for the deficiencies of those attacking forces. As I say, I am sticking my neck out here but in those circumstances, if a decision was made to allow the Jihadis to leave in order to bring it all to an end, that must have been the correct decision.

  7. Will2.71828 says:

    but it was the naked hypocrisy:
    “Brett McGurk‏Verified account
    Aug 30
    Coalition military forces conducted airstrikes in #Syria to prevent the transport of #ISIS terrorists to the borders of our Iraqi partners.”
    Brett McGurk‏Verified account
    Aug 30
    Irreconcilable #ISIS terrorists should be killed on the battlefield, not bused across #Syria to the Iraqi border without #Iraq’s consent 1/2
    2) but 4k ISIS were bused to abu kamal next to IRAQ border by the coalition.
    just a total lack of truthfulness and integrity. these people serve His Satanic Majesty, not the American people or their ideals.

  8. Lemur says:

    Let’s say in about a month ISIS is mopped up in Deir-Ez-Zor, and in a similar time frame (maybe less) the all of that broad eastern salient of Idlib is captured, furthering shortening front lines.
    Once that happens, the SAA will be able to concentrate overwhelming force on a single front.
    So this campaign may progress faster than we would initially expect.

  9. Yes, of course you’re right. Wretched business.
    As I said, I was sticking my neck out – it’s a BBC report. And it’s obviously nothing like the full report that could have been done. BBC “investigation” my foot. Too much of a colour piece, too few facts, and those slung in here there and everywhere with little regard for precision. And it leaves open the question of what the BBC’s up to, reporting anything like the truth from Syria. Are their reporters finally going straight? Seems unlikely.
    I’ve previously been permitted to put forward on SST the case for believing that we’re now seeing what we saw after our previous interventions in the ME. First the propaganda and the killing. Then the facts start to come out. Various public figures start to say they knew it was a mistake all along. Then we get to realise that we’ve killed another crowd of people in the ME by mistake. Then we forget all about it until the next time. I think we’re starting to move to the second stage about now and the BBC’s preparing us for the transition. I could be wrong. It’s a bit early, judging by the previous sequences. But here’s what the BBC says about how we cleared Raqqa of the Jihadis we helped put there a while back:-
    “In light of the BBC investigation, the coalition now admits the part it played in the deal. Some 250 IS fighters were allowed to leave Raqqa, with 3,500 of their family members.”
    Big families. Were some them family members of dead Jihadis? Need more detail. The second part of the report confirms that many Jihadis were fleeing Raqqa earlier. No indication of numbers given. So how many Jihadis got out? Bus loads, is about as precise as we’ll get. That’s what we’ve seen elsewhere. I didn’t pay much heed to the amount of weapons and ammunition they’re stated to have taken with them. If they run short we can always get more through to them.
    Here’s an account of the final stages –
    “Air strikes put pressure on us for almost 10 hours. They killed about 500 or 600 people, fighters and families,” says Abu Musab Huthaifa.
    Footage of the coalition air strike that hit one neighbourhood of Raqqa on 11 October shows a human catastrophe behind enemy lines. Amid the screams of the women and children, there is chaos among the IS fighters. The bombs appear especially powerful, especially effective. Activists claim that a building housing 35 women and children was destroyed. It was enough to break their resistance.”
    That’s probably true. There have been other indications that the taking of Raqqa was a murderous business. I’ve put forward my belief that it was botched. I’ve also put forward my belief that the officer commanding or overseeing the operation was right to call it a day. Jihadi women and children count as civilians in my book, and we don’t know whether the Jihadis had also followed their practice elsewhere of taking locals hostage for use as human shields. Women and children trapped within a shrinking perimeter and therefore closer to the bombing and fighting – that’s not the sort of soldiering anyone’s going to want to do too much of.
    Here’s the BBC conclusion –
    “The deal to save Raqqa may have been worth it.
    But it has also meant battle-hardened militants have spread across Syria and further afield – and many of them aren’t done fighting yet.”
    That’s the disadvantage of making this sort of agreement. The Jihadis are let loose to fight somewhere else. But the Syrians reckon it’s the best deal that can be made in such circumstances. We can scarcely blame the American commander or adviser in Raqqa for coming to the same conclusion.

  10. Will2.71828 says:

    When things appear to start going well for the SAA, then it will be time for another Sarin attack and the entrance of thespians in white helmets, not so?

  11. walrus says:

    I wonder if, after neutralising ISIS, Assad might decide to use his battle hardened military forces to restore the Golan to Syrian rule? Seriously, what happens after ISIS is defeated? Does everyone get a medal and goes home?
    I know i’m being flippant, but the SAA is now a formidable asset that, I imagine Syria would like to maintain. The Russians might have some ideas. Clearly Syria needs a good air defence system and some deterrent capacity to maintain Putinesque (westphalian) sovereignty.

  12. Chris Chuba says:

    I’m piling on the ‘everybody does it’ bandwagon BUT …
    1. It’s a great article and makes me cry because it reminds me that we don’t have any journalists in the U.S. anymore.
    2. I love the part about how the ISIS head choppers tell the infidel shopkeeper, that his blood is worse than pig’s blood (embellishing a little), they will come back and rebuild the Caliphate but make sure that they pay him every nickel he is owed, and in fact, leave extra money on the counter if they have to leave in a hurry. They kill people on site but they won’t steal.
    3. I’ve bookmarked this article just in case I read someone in the U.S. talk about how Assad ‘collaborates’ with ISIS but we annihilate them. Everyone who goes nose to nose with the Takfiri ends up making deals. Feel sorry for the bus drivers, pay them already, just like ISIS would.

  13. Lemur says:

    I don’t think Russia is looking for a showdown with Israel if that can be avoided, so that would mean Syria would need a first rate air force of its own before launching such an assault.
    Hezbollah stopped Israel in Lebanon, but that was a defensive war fought from prepared positions. An attack on Golon would be an offensive war against Israeli prepared positions. And unlike the rebels, Israel has plenty of armour and air-support.
    When the Russians deliver to the Syrian military the next generation of armour, the Su-57, the S-400, and the Ratnik combat kit; then they might be ready.

  14. JamesT says:

    That IDF mouthpiece has been having a non-stop hissy fit for months about Hezbollah setting up shop on the Golan border. I can see why. When the IDF next invades Lebanon to “destroy Hezbollah once and for all” (and we all know this will happen sooner or later), Hezbollah could attack the IDF across the Golan border. This (i) would force the IDF to fight a two front war rather than a one front war, (ii) would make life difficult for the Israeli PR guys – since Israel is illegally occupying Golan.

  15. Patrick D says:

    Like English Outsider, I was reminded of R+6 cutting deals to evacuate jihadis and their families when reading b’s links.
    However, what struck me as the difference was that the R+6 deals had a specific destination that would be dealt with at a later date with high confidence. For example, Idlib which will be attacked in the near future by R+6 or areas around the Iraqi border where they will be pinched between R+6, SDF, and Iraqi forces.
    In contrast, these U.S./SDF coalition deals seem like scattering embers on the wind with jihadis escaping current and likely future battlefields into Turkey for example.
    Am I overestimating how much control either force has over the movement of these jihadis once these deals are set in motion?

  16. b says:

    – The BBC calls the report “exclusive” which is nonsense. I wasn’t even the only one who reported the deal a whole month earlier.
    I am not against such deals. They may be necessary at times.
    – They let the dudes take arms and ammo – and not just AK-47s but bigger stuff.
    – The U.S. denied it was involved but, as I had shown, was part of the negotiations.
    – The U.S. lambasted Syria and Russia when they made similar deals.
    – The U.S. held up the ISIS convoy from the deal Syria made and boosted about it.
    It is such childish behavior that pisses me off. Why can’t the BBC and U.S. military not act like grown ups?

  17. I see no chance that Assad is willing to take on Israel by himself, regardless of any hardening of the SAA over the past five years. It would be foolish in the extreme and merely play into Israel’s hands.
    What would be interesting is to see Israel’s current assessment of the capability of the SAA, in case Israel intends to take on Syria during an invasion of Lebanon.
    The purpose of the Syria crisis was to get the US and NATO to do a Libya on Syria, degrading its military so that it could not be an effective actor against Israel in a war with Iran nor prevent Israel from crossing Syrian territory to attack Hizballah in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Russia’s intervention put paid to that plan.
    However, Israel still needs to deal with Hizballah to get that Iran war going. So Israel is going to be interested in how strong the SAA is now, as well as to what degree Russia would be prepared to defend Syria against Israeli attack. Russia has no interest in going to war against Israel, but if Israel pushes the issue…it’s not clear what Russia will do.
    What we do know is that Israel does not want a repeat of 2006 by only attacking Hizballah via southern Lebanon, nor does Israel want Hizballah forces in the Golan area being given a free hand. Israel needs a flanking maneuver on Hizballah if they are to have any real chance of forcing Hizballah further north into Lebanon to neuter the range of Hizballah’s missile arsenal (if that is even possible.)

  18. “However, what struck me as the difference was that the R+6 deals had a specific destination that would be dealt with at a later date with high confidence.”
    The BBC article details how the Jihadis use smugglers to get them where they want to be. Other reports refer to smugglers as a matter of course; it must be one of the few trades doing well. Presumably the Jihadis released by Syrian or allied forces also use smugglers. If that’s the case then both sides would be “scattering embers on the wind” with such deals.
    What would be different is if the Coalition subsequently transported Jihadis for use on other fronts. That’s taking the deal a step further and there are frequent accusations that that’s being done. Would the Saudis themselves do that? I’ve seen no reports substantiating such accusations.
    In practice I don’t suppose it makes much odds whether the Jihadis get to where they want to go under their own steam or whether they’re helped. What is perhaps more important is whether the weapons and ammunition that are still in the pipeline, and that are already paid for by the Saudis or the other sources of funds, are still getting through to them.
    Munitions supply for the Jihadis is one of the least considered questions arising from the Syrian war. It’s not just the Toyotas, though someone must have paid for those to be bought and adapted. Sometimes you’d think they were still fighting with scimitars, so little has the question of weapons, equipment and ammunition supply been discussed in the media. The Jihadis seized a lot but that would not have done for the entire war. Had that BBC “investigation” been for real they’d have been ferreting around the ammunition supplies left behind by the Jihadis in Raqqa to see where those supplies came from. As it is we are reliant on information from videos and photographs of abandoned Jihadi munitions made by the other side.
    We hear of the Russians sending in shipload after shipload for the Syrians through the Dardanelles. Where did the Jihadis get their supplies from? I believe I’m correct in saying that we were arranging for old Soviet stocks from Eastern Europe + modern weapons and ammunition to be supplied, mainly through Turkey, and mostly paid for by the Saudis et al. I’ve seen nothing to indicate that this weapons supply has been stopped but if it has, the question arises of where and how the Jihadis have been getting their supplies recently.

  19. “b” – Thank you for your reply. It allows me to clear up a point that troubled me just now when I came back here. My comment does look as if I were objecting to your view, either in your comment or in the valuable work you are doing on MOA. I was not. I object to the slant the BBC gave to its report.
    We should not have men over in Syria fighting or directing the fighting. But we do, and for them it’s a job they’re sent to do and wish to do well. It seemed unfair for the BBC to criticise whoever was directing the taking of Raqqa for letting Jihadis go free when in fact it does to me look like the right thing to have done and when it is standard practice in such circumstances.
    The rest, the double dealing and the murderous foolishness of our actions in Syria, you will, like so many on this site, be better qualified than me to comment on; but you could not be more uneasy than I am about what we are sending our people to do over there.

  20. Colonel – might I correct an error? ” As it is we are reliant on information from videos and photographs of abandoned Jihadi munitions made by the other side.”
    I meant the videos and photographs made by the other side. Not the munitions. One sees the photographs showing all sorts of markings on abandoned Jihadi munitions – Cyrillic, Hebrew, English – but that can’t mean much until one knows how they got there.

  21. aleksandar says:

    Each mini-offensive has another aim,I think. Every time HTS has to move reinforcement and ammo to the front.I wouldn’t be surprised if all these movements were carefully monitored by R+6. When the big push will begin, a large amount of strike will be done in depth by R+6 on every HTS logistic line.

  22. outthere says:

    The head of Iraqi PMU’s held a press conference in Baghdad, explaining the legitimacy of PMU’s which were created in response to appeal by Sistani.
    Mohandes is clear that Iran was the only nation supporting Iraq’s fight against Daesh. Iraq reciprocated by helping Syria, “facilitating over flights by Iranian planes.” With no Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Washington and Baghdad, “the Americans withdrew companies that maintain Abrams tanks.” In 2014 “we didn’t even have AK-47s. Iran gave them to us. The US embassy had 12 Apache helicopters ready to transport diplomats if Baghdad fell to Daesh”.
    One year later, “Baghdad would have been occupied” were not for the PMUs; “It’s like you’re in a hospital and you need blood. The Americans would show up with the transfusion when it was too late.” He is adamant “the US did not provide a single bullet” in the overall fight against Daesh. And yet, Mohandes clarifies that the “US may stay in Iraq should the Iraqi government decide it. My personal opinion is well known.”
    Mohandes considers the [Western] “media war waged against Hashd al-Shaabi” as “normal from the beginning”; “Countries that supported terrorism would not perceive that a popular force would emerge, and did not recognize the new political system in Iraq.” On that note, he added ruefully, “you can smell petrol”.
    . . .
    I asked the Foreign Minister if Baghdad did not fear being caught in a lethal crossfire between Washington and Tehran. His response was carefully measured. He said he had enough experience of dealing with “radical” neocons in D.C. And at the same time he was fully aware of the role of the PMUs as well as Iran in Iraq’s reassertion of sovereignty. His warm smile highlighted the conviction that out of the ashes of a cultish black death, the Iraqi renaissance was fully in effect.
    end quote
    read whole story by Pepe Escobar:

  23. outthere says:

    Patrick Armstrong:
    But trying to work out Washington’s policy is, to quote an alleged Churchillism about the USSR, like watching bulldogs fighting under a rug. You see that something is happening, you hear growls, but you don’t know who is doing what to whom or why. For example, last year then US Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov spent days negotiating a truce in Syria; within a few days the US military attacked the Syrian Army at Deir ez Zor. Who was in charge then? And what was the purpose of either of these actions? No wonder the Russians have concluded that Washington is недоговороспособны: no agreement is possible either because it can’t make one or it won’t keep it.
    more here

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