The East Aleppo pocket has closed


" … Determined to complete the encirclement, the Tiger Forces launched a vital assault to capture the last village located between their positions along the Aleppo-Raqqa Highway and the Jibreen District of Aleppo City. The assault proved successful as the Syrian Armed Forces imposed full control over Umm Turaykiyah in the Al-Safira Plains. As a result, 800 ISIS terrorists that were fighting the Syrian Armed Forces at the strategic city of Al-Safira and its nearby village of Tal ‘Aran found themselves encircled for the first time in this war. The 800 ISIS terrorists have no outlet to retreat and they have no available supply lines; this means, they will either surrender to the Syrian Armed Forces or fight till the death. Given ISIS’ history; it is very likely that they choose the latter…"  Al Masdar News (AMN) | Al-Masdar News


 I suggest that "the latter" would be a good outcome.   The encircled  IS people should be easy meat out in that flat, open country.  The air forces will have a field day.   pl 

Yet another map, this one from "South Front."  pl


This entry was posted in Current Affairs, Middle East, Russia, Syria, The Military Art. Bookmark the permalink.

107 Responses to The East Aleppo pocket has closed

  1. b says:

    The east Aleppo pocket is not all open country but a mix of a few sub-urbian villas, villages, farms and fields. The IS folks will probably sit in the houses or give up and become “civilians”. It is a small area. Some 3 km to 2 km.
    I doubt the 800 number. How was that determined? My first guess would be between 8 and 80. Some local militia and police would probably be enough to go after them.

  2. turcopolier says:

    The number is obviously someone’s guestimate. The actual number will not be known until one can stack the bodies. surely the R+6 will search the villages and houses. Those not local will likely be stacked. “Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention protects captured military personnel, some guerrilla fighters, and certain civilians.” wiki on PWs. IMO IS, Nusra and other jihadis are not entitled to be treated as PWs in international law. I participated in the defense of a number of Gitmo detainees and in criminal cases involving Muslims accused of “material support to terrorism” but that was always on the basis of what I thougth was a false accusation (of which there were many). pl

  3. Jack says:

    Does it make military sense for R+6 to capture al-Bab and then meet up with the SDF forces west of Manbij and cut another IS line south?
    Or are there more important military priorities?

  4. turcopolier says:

    Yes, if forces available would not be over extended. IMO the Tabqa operation is more important. pl

  5. b says:

    @Jack @Pat – There are still supposed to be some 6,000 IRCG special forces not yet committed to battle. But they will probably be used for some bigger operation.
    If the Tiger Forces continue as well as they have done up to now they will be Al Bab in two or three weeks anyway. Eliminating the pocket gives some shorter lines to hold and should free enough soldiers to take that walk. It would close one of the two bigger traffic knots in the area for the Turkey-Raqqa logistic express network. Channeling the IS traffic makes it easier for the Russian air force to cut it off.
    I am not sure that the SDF currently has the manpower to go to Manbij. It may move on in the east towards Deir Ezzor. There is also the political question of Turkey’s intentions and the crazy U.S. policies.
    The U.S. asked Russia to include Al-Qaeda in the “cessation of hostilities” because Al-Qaeda is so intermingled with the CIA supported “moderates” who urgently need a pause as they are in danger of being overrun.
    UNSC resolution 2254 explicitly excludes Al-Qaeda and “entities associated” with it from a ceasefire. The U.S. committed to that as did Russia. I do not foresee Russia transgressing against that resolution.
    Meanwhile the Pentagon trained Jaish al-Thuwar and the U.S. ally YPG are fighting the CIA equipped “moderates” who recently all gave bayya to Ahrar al Sham (=al-Qaeda light). This while NATO ally Turkey shells the U.S. ally YPG.
    What is in the water in Washington DC that makes the people there create such situations?

  6. turcopolier says:

    I take it that you mean that Nusra would not be included in a putative cease fire. I hope that is so. Actually I am not in favor of any cease fire until the war is won and Syria re-united. Exceptions to that position would be for humanitarian relief and a pause while surrenders or transfers are negotiated. “Some 6,000 IRCG special forces” I take it these are really infantry. I have tried to explain that Washington is now ruled by a clique of Borgists who believe human history has ended and that we now are in a world in which BS is king, Er—, no, BHO is emperor at their head. If Hilly wins she will be empress of the same crew. pl

  7. turcopolier says:

    Seems to me that this will make it even easier to get electricity back into Aleppo. In accordance with our background I am obsessed with wooing the people. pl

  8. Laguerre says:

    ” Er—, no, BHO is emperor at their head. If Hilly wins she will be empress of the same crew.”
    I’m not quite sure why you present Obama as an emperor. I would have thought he was a Morsi sitting on a NeoCon volcano, unable to control it.
    I remember playing a war-game of your style thirty years ago on the Israeli situation, in which I played the US. I played an Obama style of hand, and was thoroughly outplayed.
    Obama had some nice ideas, but he was too weak to impose them.

  9. Ghost ship says:

    South Front have a map
    The area of the pocket is about 50 sq km

  10. Chris Chuba says:

    1. This has to rank among the worst defeats that ISIS has suffered since the start of their existence. If this is not reported in the MSM it will be yet another scandal.
    2. I am a bit confused about the geography. Is this actually part of Aleppo or is this a suburb? I am assuming that all of the frantic caterwauling about the impending ‘encirclement of Aleppo’ that we keep hearing about is west of here with the FSA / Al Nusra / Ahrar al-Sham brigades. If this pocket is actually part of Aleppo then it would be inexcusable for it to not get coverage in the MSM.
    In any case, this is a great victory for the SAA over an ISIS only opponent and it should secure Kuweires air base for some more serious operations once this pocket is eliminated.

  11. turcopolier says:

    Ghost Ship
    Thanks. Keep feeding us date please. pl

  12. turcopolier says:

    IMO like a lot of Europeans you have an unreasoning esteem for Obama. I see him differently as a willing pseudo-emperor riding the R2P/neocon beast in service of his vision of the future of humanity. pl

  13. Thirdeye says:

    Never underestimate the stupidity of bureaucracies, particularly where turf is concerned.

  14. oofda says:

    Perhaps the better analogy is that he is riding the R2P/neocon brahma bull in a rodeo- hanging on, but not really controlling where the bull goes.
    It will be interesting to see how the Western MSM handles the closure of the East Aleppo pocket; my feeling is that most of the press has no understanding at all of what this feat really means.

  15. turcopolier says:

    IMO the boss of the process in fact as well as title. Why run the man down? His true feelings show in his inability to bring himself to attend Scalia’s funeral. pl

  16. Thirdeye says:

    The pocket is east of Aleppo City. b described its geography pretty well in the first post.
    Reuters has some laughably weak coverage of SAA’s “advance against Islamic State in Eastern Aleppo,” giving no idea of its significance. They used SOHR as their source.

  17. jsn says:

    Unlike you and your correspondents here, BHO has never had any truck with physical reality. Applying Hanlon’s Razor, “”never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”. He’s people smart and reality blind.
    It seems to me BHO has no idea or interest in what happens in the real world and since becoming a Nobel Laureate/Emperor, the reality served up on his plate each day has been cooked in the biggest kitchen run by the most disingenuous chefs in the world. If he entered the White House with no sense of reality, he would have to be a genius of the first order to have developed one there! I’ll grant he’s preternaturally smarmy and clever, but also so loosely tethered to reality one can hardly expect him to have empathy for the affected or insights into the brutal catastrophe of the real.
    Someone with the moral creativity to imagine the consequences of his decisions would never have the narcissism necessary to win a US election.

  18. VietnamVet says:

    The United States is in an untenable position. Its three allies in the region want the regional holy war to continue not a cease fire. Israel to eliminate Hezbollah. Turkey to kill Kurds. Saudi Arabia to continue to sever the Shiite Crescent. Also, elements in the US government want to continue to use of proxy Islamist forces to destabilize Eurasia in order to loot it. Right now there are only two paths. Negotiate a cease fire; tell the Sunni alliance to stand down – don’t invade Syria and ally with Russia to eliminate the Islamic State and bring peace to the Middle East in order to return the refugees home. The alternative is the Middle East religious conflict escalating into a nuclear world war.

  19. jsn says:

    And I meant to add, thank you for one of the best news sites on the web!
    Thank you!

  20. turcopolier says:

    We are not a news site. We are an analysis site. pl

  21. turcopolier says:

    I woo the people, not for nation building but rather to advance a victory in what I see as a righteous fight against medieval

  22. Fred says:

    would it be correct to presume that the Syrian government is using its 2nd line troops and militias both to the clear captured areas and to bring in aid to the civilian population now liberated? It seems to me that would be a natural part of the strategy in ending this war against ISIS (and the unicorns of the FSA). Along with restoring the electricity they are turning the lights of civilization back on as it were.

  23. pl,
    Tau dat, brother. If I was king I would have publicly and unequivocally declared war on IS and its allies and would have aligned all our regional actions around that declaration. IS must be destroyed and the ground, figuratively speaking, salted.

  24. different clue says:

    Why support a cease fire? A cease fire is just a trick to buy time for the Global Axis of Jihad to re-support and re-supply its jihadis so they can keep fighting.
    The proper thing to support or at least wish for would be for a total R + 6 victory over the rebellion and a full restoration of legal Syrian government authority over all of Syria, using any means necessary and convenient to eliminate any seeds or spores of rebellion for the next few decades. That will give the SAR time to rebuild its internal strength and power so it can crush and destroy the jihadists when they try it again in 40 or 50 years.

  25. different clue says:

    The Twisted Genius,
    And all the other alphabet jihadis and rebels along with them. And their ground disinfected, irradiated and politically bio-remediated as well. The original “selfie-video liver eater” was not ISIS, after all. He was one of the Moderate Rebels.

  26. doug says:

    R2P seems completely entrenched in DC in both parties and more so in the FP “professional class.” I recall when Obama, after a walk in the garden, acceded to Putin’s agreement with Assad to remove the gas WMDs. It caught SoS and virtually everyone I followed by complete surprise and they were beside themselves having looked forward to intensive bombing and removal of Assad. I was shocked at how overwhelming the reaction was amongst the R2P crowd. And, of course, the neocon side was even more livid.
    Bush had the same opportunity in late 2002 and early 2003 but he was fully onboard with the painted vision of a new Middle East with Iraq being the shining light of Democracy.
    I credit Obama with a move that was certainly against perhaps almost all advisors outside of a few braver military people. Too me, Obama usually takes the easy road and that wasn’t easy. Now he’s facing nearly unanimous pressure to confront the Russians with a no fly zone to protect the so-called moderate islamists not to mention pressure from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and most of the domestic elites. They hope to draw the US in and so far they have failed.

  27. gemini33 says:

    Two big developments.
    1) Israel openly siding with Syrian rebels and is calling for renewed effort by the west with a new “third force” of “less extreme” Sunni rebels and Kurds against Assad. They’re also not happy that the Syrian govt is recapturing the border area of the Golan. Might this explain the sudden reversal by Obama/Kerry last weekend? Is there any relation between this and the reconciliation between Turkey and Israel? Are they referring to the YPG Kurds or some other Kurdish “militias”?
    2) Reports of Iranian air force flying in Syria. Wondering if that airbase near Palmyra that Elijah Magnier reported on in December is now operational (and was publicly denied by the Russians along with some insults toward Magnier)

  28. VietnamVet says:

    different clue
    The cease fire would not apply to the Islamic State, Al Qaeda or its affiliates. It would eliminate the possibility of a Turkish/Saudi invasion. This would allow negotiations for some sort of federation and a regional peace treaty. With every ethnic group armed and combat experienced, re-establishing strong man governments in Damascus or Baghdad is a pipe dream. The alternative, a Sunni alliance invasion of Syria or resurrecting the Shiite Crescent is a recipe for an escalating world war.

  29. Ghost ship says:

    Aleppo is both a city and the capital of the Aleppo Governorate.

  30. NotTimothyGeithner says:

    The complete lack of public support for military intervention factored into Obama’s decision making process. Courage had nothing to do with it. Obama should get down on his knees and give thanks to Putin every day for stopping Obama from stumbling into another quagmire.

  31. b says:

    Obama had no chance but to climb down and take Putin’s offer to remove Syria’s strategic weapon.
    – The UK parliament had voted against bombing Syria
    – The U.S. people demanded a vote by Congress
    – Congress and everyone else was dead set against another war
    – If Obama would have started bombing on his own he would have faced impeachment
    It wasn’t strategic thinking or magnanimity that let him take the offer, it was political necessity.

  32. Nuff Sed says:

    I was interested to observe that there is a hamlet right next to Dabiq (of the Daesh publication fame) in eastern Aleppo province called Sauron [the Necromancer]. Its coordinates? Directly North-West, of course. Nuff Sed.

  33. b says:

    Yes. You are more right than I was. The Google map distance indicator deceived me badly.
    Still – just a few towns and hamlets, two of which were liberated an hour ago.

    The ‘Nimr’ Tiger @Souria4Syrians
    Reports SAA captured *Tel Riman and *Tel Fa’uri in East Aleppo

  34. Mark Logan says:

    That “salts the ground” against IS, certainly. Getting those folks lives back to normal ASAP could be the best thing one could do.
    I also harbor suspicions of Obama riding the tiger of the Borg. He’s an old street-baller, it’s a game of deception, but how much he’s been fooled and how much he is fooling in this one is an open question. Nevertheless our actions in this theater of operations has not matched our rhetoric, and in this the Borg appear to hold him in the same abject contempt everybody else does. Either he’s the most incompetent leader they’ve ever had or he’s been punking them, at least occasionally.

  35. Nuff Sed says:

    Col. Lang et al,
    I have searched high and low for a decent map of Syria to which I can refer when news feeds talk about this-village and that-village having been liberated or taken, to no avail. If such a map exists, kindly point me to it; if not, is it not high time for the best analysis site on the web to put one out? From my perspective, it should have the following features:
    1. High definition
    2. Detailed to the smallest village
    3. It should show all roads and if possible some topographical information
    4. County (or province) demarcation lines
    5. Spheres of control
    6. Spheres of influence
    7. Population density (somehow incorporated, perhaps by color coding or sizing dots fro cities, towns, villages, hamlets).
    Thank you in advance, and thanks for your ongoing efforts at getting at the truth of what is going on in the world.

  36. Old Microbiologist says:

    In the Russian news yesterday the US has reneged on the UNSC agreement completely. Whether this gives Turkey the go ahead for an invasion is hard to determine. I believe the threat of theater nukes in defense of Russian forces is a valid one and not to be discounted. Erdogan today has demanded that the US declare the Kurds terrorists or else. So, it seems to me the Obama administration is in a serious quandary. Erdogan will force the US to leave Incirlik if Obama doesn’t drop all support to the Kurds. So, things are getting very interesting.

  37. Tel says:

    The 800 ISIS terrorists have no outlet to retreat and they have no available supply lines; this means, they will either surrender to the Syrian Armed Forces or fight till the death.
    I doubt they will see kindness should they choose to surrender, but fighting to the death is not their style. Stealth and slinking out of there in the shadows is a more likely strategy. Transformation from an overt fighting force into a covert Mafiosi style underground movement, based on threats and bribes.
    After the first wave of military victory must come the second wave of civilian police work: interviewing witnesses, following the evidence, arresting suspects, going to trial and finding the guilty. That’s hard and painstaking work, not so heroic.

  38. oofda says:

    Here is an interesting Piece on the town of Azaz,as well as Aleppo. The article casts doubt on the 900 rebel fighters that Turkey purportedly let cross the border into Syria. Also the Saudis sending fighter jets to southern Turkey is also questioned.

  39. b says:

    It looks like my guestimate of 8 to 80 IS still there was too high.
    The pocket collapsed and the al-Safira plain was now declared to be completely liberated.
    It is on to al-Bab to cut off IS from the border. The progress of the SDF in the east is also impressive. IS seems to have some motivation problems recently. Since they cut payment again those who fought for money seem to drop out. The true believers are too few to hold large areas.

  40. turcopolier says:

    “The true believers are too few to hold large areas.” If that is true the caliphate will fold up like an accordion. pl

  41. Prem says:

    FWIW on the PetoLucem twitter feed there is a report that the IS pocket has now been liquidated. It’s not clear whether the IS fighters were killed or escaped, but the numbers were much smaller than 800.

  42. turcopolier says:

    nuf sed
    I lack the resources to create such a map. Perhaps someone will find one. If so, I will make it a post. pl

  43. Barish says:

    Guess the Syrian govt. feline teams – Qawat al-Nimr, “Forces of the Tiger” and Cheetah Team – called ISIL agitprop’s bluff here that “hundreds of our finest will fight to the death against the godless Nusayris”*. Serves them right that the few dozens they in fact left behind as bait and shuhadah to satisfy their cult’s demands for blood didn’t make a stand all that tenacious.
    Meanwhile, sadly, reports are coming in of another suicide bombing in Homs city. Recent ones there were claimed by ISIL itself, but I am wondering: there is still the Nusra-pocket north of the city. Would it be too unlikely to assume that, between Nusra and their wayward ISIL-brothers, Nusra in fact carries these out and leaves it up to ISIL to take public credit?
    *I make it a point not to trawl through their propaganda-claptrap, but wouldn’t be entirely surprised if it’s along these lines on and on and on again.

  44. robt willmann says:

    Old Microbiologist,
    You mention above that Russian news, probably on 19 or 20 February, said that the U.S. has reneged completely on the UN Security Council agreement regarding Syria. Is there a citation and translation of the story or stories?

  45. D says:

    Congress became “dead set against another war” when their switchboards lit up 99-1 against intervention.

  46. annamaria says:

    “…the US and France refuse to allow a UN Resolution which would reaffirm the sovereignty of Syria…The US and France apparently think that the UN Charter (which affirms the sovereignty of all countries) does not apply to Syria.”
    Perhaps Turkey survival depends on her proximity to Israel, otherwise the DC deciders would have already initiated a full-blown war with Russia over Syria.
    Here is another jewel of the State Dept.: “Ukraine open to military cooperation with Turkey in Black Sea, Ukrainian FM says.”

  47. Also the House of Commons, which said “No way Jose” to Cameron and by extension to Obama and the neo con apparatus.

  48. Serge says:

    This one has everything you ask for except population density which is difficult to ascertain on a realtime basis in a war where 50% of the population is displaced. Rough estimates can be gotten from comparing to pre-war maps showing population density

  49. Nuff Sed says:


  50. mbrenner says:

    What an absurd article by a supposed expert, senior analyst in what is supposed to be a top quality world-class paper. It is all about YPG, the Kurds, Turkish sensibilities and the bloody Russians. The words al-Qaeda/al-Nusra do not even appear – much less any mention of the sustained support that Ankara has given it and ISIL. The Dupont Circle mentality now pervades Fleet Street

  51. alba etie says:

    Col Lang
    ” If Hillary wins she will be Empress of the same crew ”
    Early voting is started in Texas – pretty big turn out , I voted yesterday for Sen Sanders.

  52. mbrenner says:

    Obama never in his life played any form of street ball – much less absorbed its ethos. In Hawaii, he was a beach bum of the affluent type

  53. Martin Oline says:

    Thank you for the link to the Guardian article. It was a very good review of the conflict in Syria and the players.

  54. Chris Chuba says:

    Taking Al Bab has couple of advantages.
    1. Planting artillery assets there would make a Turkish invasion more expensive.
    2. It sets up the drive to Manbij to secure a link up with the Kurds to ISIS off from the Turkish supply lines. If the Kurds can take Manbij themselves then the SAA wouldn’t have to go all the way there.
    3. The more ISIS territory they seize in the north to control the Syrian border will give the Turks less room to maneuver.
    Regarding the number of ISIS casualties. I would think that they are on the low side given how quickly the pocket collapsed. However, this did take weeks to setup and ISIS did initially launch counter-attacks to try to prevent it so a an overall tally in the hundreds is not unreasonable for the entire campaign.
    The final pocket may have only been about 50 Km2 but the original area including the corridors that were carved out to create it looked to be about 12km by 12km which I believe is close to 50 square miles, isn’t it?

  55. alba etie says:

    I fundamentally disagree – all along President Obama has refused to have a large US Military presence in Syria . President Obama asked for the Syrian AUMF knowing full well Congress would not give it to him . And the Putin offer to ship out the CW was already under discussion with the UNSC . I believe that the Realist in the USG are pushing back hard against the neocon agenda . . . One other piece of evidence that BHO is defying the neocon dead enders is that BHO is going soon to Havana . Maybe in two or three years when we retire we will go scuba diving in Cuba !
    PS if Big Grandma get elected President all bets are off it will be R2P on steroids –

  56. Chris Chuba says:

    Thanks Thirdeye, I found the Reuter’s story and I am greatly troubled by it because of the fact that it is only sourced from the SOHR. The Col. posted a much more detailed and accurate story from which is an Arab news outlet, whether it is Syrian or not I don’t know. In any case, why isn’t Reuters using a native news source for their reporting, do they consider it tainted by bias? If so then that would be ridiculous, it would be like reporting on the Battle of Britain but not using any British sources for fear of bias. No wonder the reporting on Syria is so horrendously bad in the western MSM. It borders on criminal negligence at the very least.
    The Reuters story basically gave a terse reference to the Syrian army capturing several villages along a highway leading to Raqqa. No mention that this was an encirclement that took weeks worth of fighting in the Aleppo province or any mention of govt sources.

  57. jsn says:

    Apologies for my false consciousness!
    Your analysis tends to precede what passes for “news” elsewhere and arrives with more predictive power than what’s “fit to print”.
    I think I get your point.

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The English version of the 99% rebelled against the 1%.

  59. Old Microbiolgist says:

    Oops. I got the 2 UNSC resolutions mixed. Th one rejected by France and the US recognizes the sovereignty of Syria. It also has an implied impact on the crease fire resolution as well. Here is a good article about it:
    On the other hand, RT reports: “Lavrov, Kerry discuss conditions for Syria ceasefire
    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry have spoken on the phone about the Syrian crisis, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. They talked about ceasefire conditions that would exclude operations against groups “recognized as terrorist by the UN Security Council,” the ministry added. Kerry later was quoted by AFP as saying: “We have reached a provisional agreement, in principle, on the terms of the cessation of hostilities that could begin in the coming days.” He said that Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin “may well speak in the next days or so in order to try to complete this task.”
    So, apparently there are issues still to be addressed but it is not dead yet.
    However, the Erdogan threat to Obama is more solid:
    More on the give and take between Erdongan, Obama and the Kurds:
    Anyway, there is a lot going on between all the parties which makes it especially interesting. There is an enormous amount of disinformation and propaganda as well. Good time to get the popcorn ready.

  60. Nuff Sed says:

    Well, looks like the East Aleppo kettle is fully cooked. Chris Thompson of al-Masdar reports:
    Furthermore, hundreds of government troops are reportedly in the process of being redeployed to the eastern Aleppo frontline as the Syrian Arab Army is likely to attack either Deir Hafer or Al-Bab in the very near future. If the Islamic State loses these strongholds, they will be forced to flee towards their capital of ar-Raqqah further east.
    I am no martial tactician, but it would seem to me that if “hundreds of government troops” are being added, Deyr Hafir as a stepping stone to the crossroad town of al-Mahdhum, whose capture would be another major incision if not complete interruption of the Takfiris’ north-south LOC, would be a more enticing choice than Al-Bab.

  61. Nuff Sed says:

    Thanks to all who provided the links to the maps.

  62. Fred says:

    ISIS salts the ground of civilization wherever it spreads. It will take a generation for Syria to recover. They and their descendants will remember our actions or inactions just as this region remembers what was done by Hulagu. The conduct of our current government is disgraceful is light of this fact.

  63. Jackrabbit says:

    But that’s not the whole story.
    You neglect to mention that ISIS mysteriously arose soon afterwards, followed by the pretense of fighting them.
    To wit: Having come so close to bombing (on false evidence) Obama didn’t shut down the Syrian regime change effort, even after there were serious questions raised about who actually used the sarin.

  64. Serge says:
    At least 100 killed in Damascus+Aleppo IS blasts. How can the Syrian government prevent “liberated” areas from becoming sleeper bases for daily strikes against infrastructure à la Diyala in Iraq? This issue will only get worse and worse as more areas fall under government control. I am afraid that the real battle begins once the conventional war is won.

  65. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    SST is an analysis site, but many of us come here for news as well because many of the facts we find reported here can’t be found at MSM outlets because of a combination of cutbacks in overseas staffing and compliance with Borg talking points.

  66. Thirdeye says:

    That one requires interpreting Arabic names through Cyrillic, which is a little daunting for the uninitiated. But you can get by with a machine translator.

  67. Tel says:

    That seems a very likely scenario.
    Assad’s options would be [1] brutal government purges, which will make the Sunni tribes stick together all the more tightly; or [2] careful police work to grab the ringleaders, which is very difficult to do.
    Maintaining a strong active military and police presence is expensive, and might remain a huge cost for decades to come. Not easy ruling over a deeply divided nation.

  68. Thirdeye says:

    Going through Deyr Hafir and al-Mahdhum could also form a pincer with the move towards Tabqa Airport, trapping IS south of Lake Assad. I had initially guessed Deyr Hafir as the direction of the next move after the siege of Kuweires was lifted. I was wrong.

  69. Thirdeye says:

    It seems that there were about 150 defenders along Highway 4, with IEDs and suicide bombers to slow the advance once that line was breached. The rest of the contingent either fled or is in hiding. Sanitizing the pocket could take a while.

  70. VietnamVet says:

    I agree.
    There are three problems at play in Syria; the Great Game between the West and Russia, a holy war between Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and blood feuds between experienced armed ethnic militias. The first can be settled with magnanimity and trade. The second pacified by dialog between men of good will. The third requires strong borders, quarantines, and law and order. Security, education, peace and prosperity are the only antidotes that can prevent the Apocalypse.

  71. Tyler says:

    Mark Logan,
    If you grasp those straws any tighter you’re going to have a bale of hay on your hands.
    Obama is another Borg Globalist. You can BS yourself but stop trying to BS everyone else here.
    “Old streetballer” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

  72. Tyler says:

    It sounds like you’re wearing Iraq/Afghan war glasses in regards to this. Take them off. IS is not a liked group, or in many cases even a native group to the region. In other words these fish have no sea to swim in. They’ll be easy targets for liquidation.

  73. Mark Pyruz says:

    The most detailed open-source maps are from “Archicivilians” and “Peto Lucem.” The former, in particular, matches open-source imagery with points on a HD map.

  74. lally says:

    AIPAC issues bullet points briefly sketching out Hezbollah’s threats to the only democracy in the ME and the organization’s utility on the Syrian battlefields:
    “Hezbollah is challenging Israel’s air superiority and threatening it from underground. Hezbollah can threaten Israeli military and civilian aircraft deep within Israel. It reportedly possesses advanced surface-to-air missile systems, including Russian designed shoulder-mounted SA-7s and SA-17 mobile platforms. The SA-17 system can engage up to 24 targets simultaneously at high altitudes at a distance of up to 30 miles—far into northern Israel. Hezbollah also uses Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to collect intelligence; these drones can be weaponized to launch rockets or serve as directed bombs. It is also believed that Hezbollah is constructing offensive infiltration tunnels into Israel, similar to Hamas’ tunnels in Gaza.”
    Hezbollah fights for the Assad regime in Syria.
    “Hezbollah has gained significant battlefield experience and expertise from fighting alongside the Iranian Quds Force and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad’s army against the Syrian rebels and ISIS. Now entering its fourth year of heavy fighting, Hezbollah’s 6,000-8,000 troops deployed in Syria have become so crucial to Assad’s war effort that it often spearheads and organizes joint military attacks, and many Syrian units reportedly will not fight without Hezbollah forces in the lead.”
    (Considering the source(s), some skepticism re veracity is useful)

  75. Margaret Steinfels says:

    OT: How about Biden elbowed Obama out of going? And why should he have gone? Most of us didn’t!

  76. Margaret Steinfels says:

    He played basketball and came from nice middle-class family.

  77. Margaret Steinfels says:

    Great map….thanks!

  78. Ken Roberts says:

    VV … re: “Security, education, peace and prosperity are the only antidotes…”
    Amid all the chaos in Syria, I took some encouragement for the future from this news release:
    “Damascus, SANA [18-Jan-2016]- President Bashar al-Assad issued Monday Decree number 4 for the year 2016 which stipulates for granting University enrollment for high school winning-members of Syria Science Olympiad.”
    This merit-based university admissions for the brightest, is part of the rebuilding process. I was impressed that, despite all the pressures upon it, the Syrian government is doing “everyday work” with a social payback on a decade-scale.

  79. Mark Logan says:

    Tyler, mbrenner;
    He converted the tennis court to hoops and has NBA players come and hang out. His best friend was his brother in law, Love, who was a high level NCAA player. He’s a baller. Why deny it? There is a lot of hoops in his game, always has been.
    My point is his habit of laying in the weeds and then busting moves only at the point when it’s too late for the other guy to adjust, ie, during the HC debate, near the vote, 18 months in, in suddenly showing up to debate the Republican opposition, gathered en mass.
    Something similar seems to have happened on the verge of the Borg’s dream of bombing Syria, and somehow we seem to have dodged their efforts to have a war with Iran. Bibi has enormous influence in the Collective, so what happened?

  80. Chris Chuba says:

    Thirdeye, can you explain what you mean by that? Perhaps I haven’t noticed because I don’t know any of the Arab cities so I am learning it for the first time anyway. The notifications match the names so I can follow what’s happening well enough. I did select English but perhaps I am getting some Cyrillicized version of the Arab name in English and that’s what you are referring to?
    I’ll give a list of names that I see.
    Al Bab – common name.
    Tel Sherbiya – is this okay?
    Kveyris – Okay I can see that this should be Kuweires or maybe something else.
    Giro airbase near lake Assad, is this okay?
    Aleppo – common name.
    Still I love the format. It does give all of the little hamlets that I generally don’t see on regular google maps. I also like the frequent updates and links to the stories justifying the updates as well as the optional terrain map which was very useful in the Latakia / Idlib area.

  81. Chris Chuba says:

    Someone posted a link to an interview to a Russian officer who is now a war correspondent. He said that the Syrians were making use of local civilians being temporarily armed like deputies in the old west (he didn’t say old west, that’s the analogy I took out of it).
    He mentioned that even the former FSA members who defected back were actually good at this role because they weren’t really suitable to try to recycle into front line units but were okay for law and order. The bottom line is that if the civilians don’t want foreign Jihadists, there are ways to make it hard for them to stay. The locals don’t like trouble makers.
    I just knew I should have book marked that url. I did try the SST search facility but didn’t get a hit.

  82. James Loughton says:

    The Haaretz articles are behind a paywall nowadays, so those of us who are not subscribers are not able to read them. To get around this, the convention is for the original poster with a subscription to choose the print option on the Haaretz site. This will generate a separate printable page that can be linked to and read by all. Here is an example from another site.

  83. James Loughton says:

    Here is an article in which the Saudi Foreign Minister suggests that manpads should be supplied to Syrian jihadists.
    This strike me as a very dangerous escalation that might well result in manpads being supplied covertly to Taliban forces fighting the US in Afghanistan. My understanding is that our troops there are highly dependent on helicopters.

  84. turcopolier says:

    Margaret Steinfels
    Most of us are not president of the US. pl

  85. Henshaw says:

    One little-acknowledged feature of this conflict is the way that the Damascus government has maintained services where possible, even in rebel-held areas. Continued to pay teachers, water supply employees etc, even when rebels had closed/destroyed facilities.
    Government also entered into agreements with rebels, including IS, to maintain essential supplies, eg an agreement to share electricity from Aleppo power station (when it was held by IS) between Government and rebel held areas of Aleppo.

  86. Henshaw says:

    Further proof (if any was needed) that the Saudis are, as Kinky Freidman would say, ‘out where the buses don’t run’.
    Apart from the issue of which groups the Saudis consider to be moderate, the potential for leakage for such valuable items would be very high.
    The Saudis might consider the risk of these weapons re-appearing near a busy west European airport to be low, but Western governments may not share this assessment.
    Of course, if the Saudis were serious about this suggestion, they no doubt have manpads that they could supply to the rebels themselves. The fact that they haven’t, but keep suggesting that others do so, suggests that as usual, they would want someone else to take responsibility.

  87. doug says:

    I do agree Putin saved his butt. And the public was pretty negative about sending troops into Syria but bombing was strongly supported by the established DC elites. Red line and all that. Putin removed the rationale that it was to eliminate WMDs. There was a great deal of support across the political spectrum at the time for bombing and pressure to do so rather than accept Putin’s deal. Obama went against most of his R2P advisors. Maybe he read the broader political tea leaves but bombing was queued up and ready to go in spite of Putin/Assad’s offer. Canceled at the last minute. Zero change Obama would have been impeached for bombing. He would have been celebrated by McCain et al, and the democrats were not about to impeach.

  88. Fred says:

    How many American middle class families in the 60’s were mixed race couples who lived in Indonesia, sent their young children to public school and later sent their children to private prep schools in Hawaii (when they were ten years old)? That doesn’t strike me as the typical middle class American story.

  89. Margaret Steinfels says:

    Couldn’t say how many. But I’m betting that Hawaii had a greater “mixed”-race population than the mainland, that his grandparents mostly raised him, and if I recall his autobio correctly that prep school was a scholarship school.
    He didn’t grow up in an upper class family and he didn’t grow up in a poor family, do I’m going with middle class.

  90. Tel says:

    “… IS is not a liked group”
    Sure, so why is that so very different to Iraq? Saddam Hussein was not exactly a well liked leader either… and he didn’t rule Iraq single-handedly, he had deputies, and abduction squads, and secret police, and a whole quasi-military bureaucracy mostly made of Sunnis and keeping the Shiite majority under the thumb.
    All of this ruling and repression social infrastructure just disbanded when the Americans turned up, and dissolved underground. Yet they were able to pop up and cause trouble for a long time afterwards.
    Very likely Iran was also in there trying to assert their influence covertly (probably that helped turn the tide in favour of the Shiites) but you can easily imagine why Sunnis who lived a slightly elite lifestyle under Saddam probably felt pretty darn sore about losing all that.
    I mean, if Assad had been an all round great guy, why did so many people start banding together against him?

  91. turcopolier says:

    I spent a lot of time in both Iraq and Syria and your description of these countries doesn’t sound like the places I lived and worked in. Actually, your views are cartoon like. there is a vast amount of material here on SST under the categories “Iraq” and “Syria.” Read it. pl

  92. Barish says:

    There’s a difference between those “banding together” to participate in protests on the streets and those that worked towards violent overthrow and actively helped turning a protest movement into an armed uprising first and a civil war funded and supported by lavish foreign investments in money and arms second.
    It’s a question of whether what is needed here is terror-without-end with the glimpse at the end of that tunnel being the promise that once Dr Assad’s head is put on a spike everything will be fine. Or whether it shall be an end-with-“terror” – said “terror” meaning the realization that the unhinged uprising – which long since devolved into ethnic and sectarian talking-points that deliberately recall and manifest age-old animosities for which the only valid answer is ethnic cleansing and holy war – that this uprising simply has no future anymore. Both on the battlefield as well as the hearts and minds.
    Restating a status-quo-ante is something that was often invoked to settle military conflicts in the past. In the case of Syria and the enormous hardships the people endured and continue to endure as a result of the incited war, there is no question that we shall look upon a very different country that will pursue change once the war is done. Change through reconciliation and rebuilding, of course – but also change as far as institutions are concerned, “with Assad” or “without”. The talking-point still maintained by the exile opposition that “Assad must go” isn’t a fix towards a solution, it’s the continued rehearsal of a dogma that, as most people realize now, has been a lie. For the simple reason that said exile opposition which made pretty faces for the cameras never_was_able to present personnel and leadership that could entice the population and lay out demands that went beyond calls for “more weapons” for insurgents they got zero control over.

  93. aleksandar says:

    Yes but the main political objective can be also to prevent the Kurdish from creating a vast territory along the turkish fontiere…so…Al Bab and north of Al Bab.

  94. aleksandar says:

    I agree and from my experience in Lebanon, I believe that syrian people will find the path to live together.
    Somebody has said ” Some iron has entered in syrian soul ”
    Remenber that Assad tried to change Syria political landscape and was prevented to do so by the Baath Party oligarchs.
    He was only at this time ” son of”
    Things have changed.

  95. turcopolier says:

    Why is the south different? Does your grandmother live there? pl

  96. turcopolier says:

    To use Lebanon as an example of people getting along together is amusing. They can’t even collect the garbage together or form a government. Yes, the Syrians can find a way to live together, but only if the jihadis are exterminated. pl

  97. Thirdeye says:

    Bottom line, laziness. If they can write some words and it all pays the same, why spend the effort turning over extra rocks to really understand the situation? They’re less thorough than the average follower of this site and they get paid for it.

  98. Tyler says:

    Mark Logan,
    Because you “convert the tennis court to hoops” does not make you an old street baller. You could not sound more white here if you tried.
    Obama “has a habit of laying in the weeds”? What drugs are you on, moon man? Obama has a habit of bumbling from tragedy to tragedy, making a comment in which he tries to shoehorn the situation into his globalist liberal paradigm, and then heads on back to the golf course.
    Obama’s fecklessness has nothing to do with us not bombing Syria. It was the Congress actually threatening to use its authority combined with the actions of President Putin that saved him from kicking off another World War.
    But please, continue to worship President Gay Urkel, the Cocoa Messiah who died for our sins.

  99. Tyler says:

    Western agitation and the Saudi/Israeli axis. This has been discussed here in depth.
    Unless you’re a true believer in liberal democracy being the end of history.

  100. YT says:

    Assad fils has certainly not impugned the reputation of Assad père.
    What think you, M. Col.?

  101. Mark Logan says:

    He does have a habit of bumbling into tragedies. Seems to me the reason can be divined from his resume. We elect people to that position who have no experience whatsoever these days, so the question is the degree of control the Borg achieve, not the existence of it.
    Anderson: “And your wise men don’t know
    How it feels
    To be thick
    As a brick….”

Comments are closed.