2,000 fewer rebels in Idlib Province


" Syrian rebels have brought at least 2,000 reinforcements through Turkey in the past week to bolster the fight against Kurdish-led militias north of Aleppo, rebel sources said on Thursday.

Turkish forces facilitated the transfer from one front to another over several nights, covertly escorting rebels as they exited Syria's Idlib governorate, traveled four hours across Turkey, and re-entered Syria to support the embattled rebel stronghold of Azaz, the sources said.

"We have been allowed to move everything from light weapons to heavy equipment, mortars and missiles and our tanks," Abu Issa, a commander in the Levant Front, the rebel group that runs the border crossing of Bab al-Salama, told Reuters, giving his alias and talking on condition of anonymity."  NY Times


Before this transfer of rebels to Azaz, there were only a limited number of rebels (unicorns and jihadis) in Idlib province between the R+6 forces at Aleppo, as well as farther south astride the Damascus highway (the M5) and the R+6 forces in east Lattakia Province.

The Turks have  now cooperated with the Idlib rebels in moving 2,000 fighters from Idlib Province to the Azaz pocket north of the R+6  force that obstructs movement of rebel supplies and forces from Turkey south into Aleppo Province.

The 2,000 moved into Turkey's Hatay Province through a normal border crossing post and then their convoys were escorted north and then east so that they could re-enter Syria in the Azaz Pocket. 

Good!  The Turks' role is fully transparent and there are many fewer rebels (mostly jihadis) in what will be seen in history as the Idlb Pocket as the situation progresses.  The effectiveness seen thus far in the over all campaign planning demonstrates the effect of the high quality schooling that Russian officers have been receiving in their service schools as well as experience of the kind gained in the 2nd Chechen War.

I would think that for the present support to the YPG Kurds fighting around Azaz will be limited to the continuation of the Russian air defense umbrella to keep the Turkish air force out of the fight and provision of as much materiel support as can be mustered.  The Azaz Pocket can await elimination until other phases of the over all plan are finished.

For the moment the action farther east of the R+6 forces in moving to take Tabqa air base and in so doing to cut IS off from re-supply, reinforcement and oil sales in Turkey is a critical, possibly decisive move against IS in Syria.  The YPG Kurds have already closed the route to Turkey east of Lake Assad.  Closure of the two routes to the northwest would probably force IS back into Iraq because of a lack of communications and re-supply routes.   A good deal of care will be taken I would think to guard against IS counter-attacks to try to break the interruption in their LOCs, but R+6 total air supremacy over desert country should be able to deal with that problem. 

The present fighting in the city of Aleppo itself is, IMO, more of a distraction than anything else.  The city will fall of its own weight if it is completely isolated for an extended period.   If the government is wise it will allow humanitarian relief of the rebel occupied parts of the city while encouraging defections and evacuation of remaining rebel forces.  pl  


This entry was posted in As The Borg Turns, Current Affairs, Middle East, Syria, Turkey. Bookmark the permalink.

105 Responses to 2,000 fewer rebels in Idlib Province

  1. Grounds for kicking Turkey out of NATO?

  2. A.I.Schmelzer says:

    I would not discount the possibility that the Turks were/are aware that they will lose Idlib province either with or without the troops defending it, while defending Azaz vs. the YPG (with the border to turkey being in turkish hands) can be held much easier.

  3. turcopolier says:

    A.I Schmeltzer
    Ye, but I would bet that if the Syrians run the board, they will then deal with the Azaz Pocket. pl

  4. b says:

    A caveat – Reuters spoke with one rebel who seems to exaggerate. SOHR said that 350 crossed Monday night to AZAZ and 500 last night. Also “tanks”?
    if there were any (I doubt) they certainly did not roll on their own through Turkey. There must have been flatbeds and with some transport security. That sounds a bit too eyecatching to me. There are also no reports from the border (the Kurds have eyes on it) that any tanks crossed. Only buses with Jihadis and a few trucks.

    The Syrian army took Kinsaaba today, the last bigger Jihadi town in Latakia governate. There will still be some mop up and maybe some fighting in Bdama but then the troops there can look down from the mountains into Jisr al-Shughour. The Latakia path out of the Idleb pocket will be closed.

  5. FkDahl says:

    Relevant videos:
    Turkish bus driver:
    Tourist bus from hell (I swear I will never ever be mad to see a busload of Chinese emerge at my favourite historical monument)
    Rebel TOW operators being rushed

  6. A.I.Schmelzer says:

    I would expect that Azaz area, which iirc adjoins the Turkish border very closely, is within range of Turkish artillery and air defense systems and is quite mountainous on top of that (iirc) presents a more complex and difficult objective then cleaning the rebels out of comparably flat Idlib.
    I mean, just trying to wargame from a rational Turk perspective that is dead set on achieving Erdogans aims in Syria:
    1: Holding Idlib is pretty unlikely to work.
    2: To gain opportunities later, as much of the Turkish controlled rebel manpower has to be preserved.
    3: To claim that the fight is not over, these Turkish controlled rebels have to hold territory inside Syria.
    Moving selected rebels (I am betting that the Turks took specifically their proxies to Azaz, while abandoning other rebels to the R+6) out of Idlib into Azaz fullfills this objectives.
    An SAA operation on the ground against Azaz risks friction with the Kurds (since the SAA would probably have to pass through YPG controlled territory, and that could create incidents), an aerial operation is risky due to the very close proximity to the Turkish border, and effectively the R+6 have to hope that the Kurds ideally manage it on their own.
    The YPG may also ask questions why the R+6 allowed an apparently largish scale transfer of equipment in what appears to be daylight. This may sow distrust.
    Speaking from a strictly machiavellian pov., moving out of Idlib into Azaz seems like a prudent thing to do.

  7. fjdixon says:

    Of marginal interest: Al Jazera reports that Turkey is blaming YPG for yesterdays bombing in Ankara.
    “It has been revealed that a YPG member who infiltrated from Syria with members of the separatist terror organization conducted this attack,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said, identifying the YPG member as Syrian-born Saleh Najar.
    It is reported that several suspects have been arrested and are under interrogation … Uh Huh.

  8. cynic says:

    This relocation may not help them much. A day or so ago there was a report that the Russian air force had crisped a convoy of over three hundred terrorists and their vehicles as they moved from Turkey towards Azaz.

  9. annamaria says:

    The not-so-distant past: “Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, the chief elements of the Saudi-created “Army of Conquest,” deployed U.S. TOW missiles to devastating effect against the Syrian army in the jihadists’ victory last year in Idlib province…” https://consortiumnews.com/2016/02/18/risking-nuclear-war-for-al-qaeda/

  10. turcopolier says:

    Yup. Crispy Critters. If this is true the Russians are not worried about the Turks’ reaction. pl

  11. turcopolier says:

    b et al
    It looks as though it is all downhill from Kinsabba to Jisr as-Shugur. Is that right? pl

  12. kao_hsien_chih says:

    The rebels openly (presumably) moved tanks(!) through Turkish territory. Not very subtle, are they?

  13. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Muslim states, in part or in whole, are so far behind the Caravan of Human Progress & Development that the “Rational Course” for them would have been for every single one of them to cooperate with one another to move forward.
    That was not to be – the Bedu once again wants to subjugate the City, and the Ottoman the Persian.

  14. Dubhaltach says:

    Colone, All,
    Via Rhik Samadder what has to be one of the ultimate News Headline Corrections of all time. (Is safe for work)

  15. David says:


  16. aleksandar says:

    Yes it is, especially if you stay on M4

  17. Kunuri says:

    Too hasty and shortsighted a solution Sir, if you can tell me why, you may have to kick US out of NATO as well.

  18. Kunuri says:

    This latest bombing smells very bad of a false flag operation, considering the timing, place and the targets. I mean, what security force in the world rounds up the perpetrators within hours of such a horrendous bombing. And fixes the blame, it take days to put together fragments of a bomb even to know what king is it and to trace it to its sources, not to mention who put it in there. And where he or she is at? It stinks big time.

  19. aleksandar says:

    Tabqha airstrip is 2.5 km long.Not easy to protect in middle of the desert unless you have many boots on the ground. I wonder is a “air assault ” is possible , it was said long time ago to be Red Army favorite asset.
    (Yes , maybe i’m dreaming, but I have spent so much time during boring exercices waiting for such an air assault in the rear of my regiment or division!)

  20. Kunuri says:

    Listen all, I still can not believe Turkey, as a nation and government supports the “liver eaters” and sharia lovers, Turkish people are not like that-Erdogan is not a brave man, nor a true leader, he is more like a producer of films who likes to gamble with other people’s money, if he wins he wins for himself, if he loses its not his money to begin with. Just switch money with blood and tears to understand what I mean. Just don’t expect any grand gestures based on principle however wrong it may be from him, like just going into northern Syria and ending all that mayhem there whatever the cost. But expect a lot of dirty tricks, round about ways, manipulation and bellicose speeches. And how do you deal with someone like him? Show him the big stick, and call his bluff. He will fold every time.

  21. Laguerre says:

    “the Bedu once again wants to subjugate the City, and the Ottoman the Persian.”
    That’s a classic Iranian aristocratic reponse. The Iranian is superior to the Arab and the Turk. But only amongst the elite. The poor in Iran prefer Islam, that is why the current regime. And frankly why Islam has succeeded in Iran. The poor had had enough of paying for aristocrats who paid no taxes.

  22. Jack says:

    Prior to the Russian involvement it looked like the Syrian army and the Assad government were on the verge of failure.
    Less than a hundred aircraft and maybe less than a thousand Russians have completely changed the tides. The Syrian army is not the same one from six months ago. They are notching win after win.
    What in your opinion has contributed to this sea change on the battlefield in such a short period of time?

  23. Thirdeye says:

    There’s some question as to whether they were relocated from Idlib or if they’re a new infusion of foreign fighters and Turkish nationalists. Turkey has to maintain some pretense that they’re only supporting Syrian unicorns.
    The reality might be dawning on Erdogan that after the disaster in Latakia Idlib is next and it’s time to salvage what he can in the far north. But politically that’s much more complicated for Turkey than Latakia or Idlib.

  24. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I recall a Twafiq magazine caricature from more than 40 years ago in Tehran which showed a Bedu sitting inside a tank turret while waving his scimitar.
    The caption quoted some official: “Arabs do not know how to use modern weapons.”
    Something evidently never change and Life imitates Art.

  25. Thirdeye says:

    The bigger news is how coldly that claim has been received in the West. Whatever political gain Turkey had hoped to achieve with it is nonexistent.

  26. Thirdeye says:

    The rebels seem to love their TOWs a little too much for their own good. They seem oblivious to the fact that sometimes rate of fire and mobility count for more than midair steering. But maybe they figure the end is coming and it’s time to “smoke ’em if you got ’em.”

  27. Thirdeye says:

    Here’s on perspective on Kinsabba – Jisr as-Shugour with a large amount of input from the Tell Us How You *Really* Feel Department.

  28. Thirdeye says:

    Azaz is pretty flat.

  29. edding says:

    Mr. Lang-
    This is unrelated to the current article, unless one references the connection between Benghazi, Turkey and Syria.
    Stratfor has just advertised that it will be hosting a live webcast with Fred Burton to discuss his book, “Under Fire: the Untold Story of the Attack on Benghazi”. I haven’t read the book but have read several in depth posts by Larry Johnson on his blog, noquarterusa.net.
    Thought you (and Larry) might be interested, and willing to join in for your input, to keep it honest.
    See: http://app.webinarjam.net/register/24467/540ab4c459?utm_medium=email&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_qXnlfdyqm4JDEg9GXR4JLVafhvem7GfLJBU-F8rw9NhBaMAmtzE4xPUL-izRMo9UXjr6IhbubCiboEnyH3rIBjnPxWw&_hsmi=26416121&utm_content=26416121&utm_source=hs_email&hsCtaTracking=c6deb7e3-8359-4db6-ad52-2c62f91939e7%7C9ea8b7ad-0a94-4428-81d1-0b89399a1ff2
    Per the Stratfor notice:
    WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 25 at noon ET (11 a.m. CT)
    Join Stratfor for a live webcast with Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton about his book, Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi.
    We’ll discuss what we know and don’t know about the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, which continues to draw close scrutiny in Washington, D.C.
    Register Now!

  30. Abu Sinan says:

    On this same subject, there is a guy on twitter who has a lot of very timely combat photos and information from Syria. He concentrates on weaponry being used by both sides. I thought it might interest some and be useful:

  31. bth says:

    Why is the bus driver speaker handcuffed? About 27 seconds in.

  32. bth says:

    Aleppo or Azaz?

  33. turcopolier says:

    I sense the possibility of a brother in arms. Is that so? pl

  34. elaine says:

    Reports “Russian Defense Minister says Moscow will increase
    military cooperation with Iran” The U.S. is not pleased
    This morning alJazzera America tv reported U.S. will be storing
    more tanks in caves in Finland near the Russian border

  35. Amir says:

    Upperclass Westernized Perdjans think and act as Laguerre and Babak describe. The Iranian Revolutionaries called them “Westoxicated” but as Laguerre said average Iranian does not feel he/she is a “Fars” nor more antagonist to Arabs/Turks, than they would usually be against the next door village or city or province. The country folk looks more towards Islam as do Midwest looks towards Christianity (IMHO).

  36. Amir says:

    As much as I would have liked this to be true, I think we should ask Col. PL, as he was in Iraq in the 80’s. He might not agree with you. But then again, as they are on the correct side of Diocletian Line, maybe Iraqis are actually Iranians but they just don’t know it

  37. robt willmann says:

    Appearing on the Charlie Rose show yesterday (today?) was Antony Blinken, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State. He has been around since the Bill Clinton administration–
    Rose has become, or always was, a neocon/Borg type person, and he goes into Syria in this interview. I am not sure what Mr. Blinken has been drinkin’, but it has allowed him to say some strange things about Syria with a straight face–
    I do not know long the above link will work, because the interview is the highlight video on the homepage. It may move to another place in Mr. Rose’s website soon. Here are a few excerpts–

  38. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Iran is the core state of Muslim Civilization.
    Walk into any museum anywhere in the world that has any collection of Muslim artifacts and you will see it.
    In a similar situation, in Europe, NAZI Germany instructed their soldiers to behave well in France; they knew who or what France was to their own culture and to the Western Civilization.
    Iran is surrounded by the ignorant, some of whom seem to have decamped to France of late.

  39. BB says:

    22 Turkish Air Force pilots killed in the Ankara bombing. Wow.

  40. b says:

    Don’t know about “all” downhill but the topographic map says mostly downhill. Quite rapidly near the city, from 750-1000m above sea level in north Latakia to some 250m in Jisr as Sgugur.
    Jisr as-Shugur is in a flat north-south strip of land, a river valley, with the Latakia mountain range only some 2 or 3 kilometers to the west of it. Who every owns the mountain tops can literally spit down on it.

  41. Amir says:

    A few months ago, you mentioned that the capabilities of the Saddam’s army, towards the end of his invasion of Iran, was impressive AND for a large part indigenous. That they were able to stage their own offensive plans, although they would obtain some intelligence from Eastern and Western block countries as well as some of their neighbors, in confronting Khomeini. I was referring to that statement about their indigenous capabilities and that maybe Iranians are underestimating the Baathists and their brethren and/or descendants.

  42. Kinsibba was the rebels’ last key defensive position in Lattakia province. Basically the next real stop is Jisr al-Shugour, and then Idlib pocket will be formed.
    For now, Eastern parts of Jabbal Turkmen (next to turkish border) and of Jabbal Akrad (east of Kinsibba) still need to be cleared, but it’s pretty much downhill now indeed !

  43. Kunuri says:

    This seems to be wrong, I just scanned the morning news, the dead are NCOs, enlisted men and some civilian contract workers. Official statement. However, the first 9 funerals were held closed to the public yesterday, only top politicians and brass attending. Very unusual, but if the story you site above is correct, I don’t think RTE gang will be able to cover it up.

  44. Kunuri says:

    If that is correct, could it be a Russian eye for an eye p(i)lot?

  45. Kunuri says:

    I re-scanned the news, no pilots. One TAF NCO so among the dead military personnel.

  46. Marow says:

    “Iran is the core state of Muslim Civilization”
    Iran/Persia didn’t contribute any thing to the human legacy until the Arab ‘Bedu’ came and changed them to Muslims. The Umide and the Andalusians were pure Arab states. not a single drop of Persian blood in their veins and yet their achievements in science and architecture changed Europe and seeds the western civilization. You my continue editing Wikipedia to add the word ‘Persian’ to every Arab scientist and achievements but in the end they were speaking Arabic, Muslims and lived in Baghdad.

  47. bth says:

    It looks like Iran has announced plans to buy $8 billion in arms from Russia including various aircraft and S-400 air defense systems. This deal and its timing before the end of March would be consistent with the Russian need to bootstrap the cost of intervention and the Iranian need for arms but also the use of embargoed fund which were likely part of a collateral arrangement with Russia made last August. Iran did not come through with the expected oil and trade concessions last November for Russia, but it now looks like the Iranians are moving to meet the March schedule of Russia.

  48. BB says:

    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.O-O Nf6 5.Re1 O-O 6.c3 Qe7 7.d4 exd4 8.e5 Ng4 9.cxd4 Nxd4 10.Nxd4 Qh4 11.Nf3 Qxf2+ 12.Kh1 Qg1+…
    Davutoğlu: “It only looks bad, Tayyip. We will win.”
    Erdogan: “A mere flesh wound.”

  49. robt willmann says:

    Here is a brief article from 13 February 2016 by Peter Oborne, of the British Daily Mail and Spectator publications, who says he was recently in Aleppo, Syria, and that the “opposition” is indeed starting to be besieged itself–

  50. Barish says:

    I think the story was that he, as a trafficker of illegal arms, was picked up by border control. In the video, he is describing, which way the teröristler – terrorists – went, also gesticulating.
    Of course, even though border control did their duty, they were later charged in court. Tells you something about the goings-on in Padişah Erdoğan’s Türkiye, don’t it.

  51. bth says:

    It looks like major things are happening in eastern Syria around Ash-Shaddadi. SDF with coalition air support have cut the main supply line between Raqqa and Mosul. IS is also evacuating its families in the area and reports vary but it seems about 15 villages. Its seems pretty clear that SDF and coalition support caused this but I would not Sputnik is claiming the Russians provided the air support which from what I can tell is a substantial exaggeration.

  52. SmoothieX12 says:

    Well, if to discount Al Khwaresmi (who was Persian) or people of the scale of Omar Khayyam, who, accidentally also was Persian, sure, no Persians at all. Now, Sir, your statements on Arabs and their “contribution” evidently discount also the fact that most scientific, especially mathematical knowledge, came to Arabs through a lot of purely Oriental sources, part of which was translated into Arabic by Nestorian monks. In general, only first four Caliphs were predisposed to exchange with Christianity and then came Al Ghazali and the game was over. Very little scientific or any other knowledge was procured by Arabs and, certainly, they didn’t change Europe and seeds of Western Civilization. But that is purely academic discussion. While we may agree here that social experiment in Western Civilization failed miserably, there is NO comparison between what European Civilization contributed to the world and what did Islam in general. Simply different universes and there is a reason for that. Read Dr. Mahatir’s statement on Islam, He knows a thing or two about it. I will, however, tell you other thing, until you saw Turkmen village, and I mean real Turkmens, not of Turkish variety….

  53. Barish says:

    “Iran/Persia didn’t contribute any thing to the human legacy ”
    Bold statement. Even during dread “Jahiliyah”, the Iranian plateau was host to a succession of civilizations that made their cultural contributions, not least of which were the Achaemenids, the “fusion of West and East” during Alexander’s – Iskander’s – and his successors’ time, the Parthians, the Sassanids, etc.
    I pointed out elsewhere that it is acknowledged that the Islamic Revolution of Iran safe-guarded its heritage of the “Jahiliyah”-era. And for that, it is owed respect.
    Before you ask: I am speaking as someone neither Turk nor Arab, but as an outside observer, if you will.

  54. SmoothieX12 says:

    “This deal and its timing before the end of March would be consistent with the Russian need to bootstrap the cost of intervention”
    No relation between the two. Just bargaining issues, which was expected in the case of Iran.

  55. Bill Herschel says:

    This will be completely off-topic. And I pose it as a question. The opinion leaders in the U.S. have never had anything good to say about Donald Trump. But now they are turning on Bernie Sanders. Why? Well, Bernie looks like he can take down Hillary, and the opinion leaders are in a frenzy about that. Why?
    Well, if you go to this site, you see that Trump can very, very easily, very easily, win the nomination. He might not, but unless some of the other Republicans drop out fast, he will (the thing that is probably preventing them from dropping out is the belief that soon Trump will disappear).
    So where does that leave the opinion leaders? They fear a Trump Presidency above all things and believe Hillary can beat him and Bernie can’t. That’s easy enough.
    But why do they fear a Trump Presidency above all things? That’s by far the most interesting question.
    And, by the way, from my perspective, Trump is already running against Hillary. Everyone says so much negative stuff about him. At some point somebody’s going to admit he’s a very intelligent guy. Probably after he defeats Clinton and becomes President.

  56. SmoothieX12 says:

    Very broadly, if I may to put in my two pennies, C4ISR. Albeit, it was Plutarch who said that 50 years must pass since the end of the war, for historian to get the grasp of it.

  57. bth says:

    There has been a tight choreograph between Russian intervention and economic and defense deals between Russia and Iran which is bankrolling Assad. Iranians, Chinese and Russians have been pretty open about this for some months especially with Fars News Agency. Looks like Qassem Suleimani has been weaving the deals together in timed 3 month phases. Primary negotiations were in July/August, which triggered Russian intervention, then major concessions were expected by Russia in Iran in November regarding O&G in Iran which did not materialize, then strong Iranian push to release collateral from nuke deal as fast as possible which has happened in Jan and now Iranian equipment buys in Feb before March window Russians had made clear. If March window closes successfully with ceasefire strongly in favor of Assad then major infrastructure reconstruction in Syria with Russian firms winning the bids and funded by ‘international community’ largely US/EU will follow. We will see.

  58. Babak Makkinejad says:

    “”Westoxicated”” –
    Oh yes.
    Next time, when some of those people are experiencing chest pains and their LAD is 99% occluded, they should pray to God that there is “Westoxicated” cardiologist around, together with a “Westoxicated” catheter lab & staff, who can then use “Westoxicated” stents to remove the blockage.

  59. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I know it is tough, the idea of Iran being the core state of Muslim Civilization, but get used to it.

  60. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The amount of ignorance among Muslim populations – even the relatively educated – about their own civilization is rather appalling.

  61. Mishkilji says:

    Geographically, yes.

  62. Babak Makkinejad says:

    You are not paying attention – I have organized and synthesized a vast amount of observations in the Diocletian Line and Seljuk Transcendence (a.k.a. The Makkinejad Thesis).
    All that has to be done is to find a single country East of Diocletian Line that matches – in all levels of civilization achievement – either France, or Italy or England.
    Likewise, tell me where, outside of Iran, is Philosophy (Muslim or non-Muslim) alive within the Muslim World?
    In regards to Iraq: Eastern Iraq had been within ol Seljuk Empire boundaries – not Western Iraq nor Eastern Syria – where Jihadists thrive. Baghdad was a Persian/Jewish city before the Arab Nationalists – regurgitating the political doctrines of Europeans – set about destroying it.

  63. kooshy says:

    Historically and academically That’s not factual, just as example the Spanish architecture that through Spaniards conquest came to the new world here in California is in fact Persian, Sassanid mud brick adobe architecture of Iranian desert, which after muslim conquest of Iran traveled by the new Muslim BEDU Arabs through north Africa to Andalusia.
    IMO Iranian mentality and culture is not only Persian, is made of 2 historic elements, that is Iranian pre Islamic plus Islamic Shia culture, or in simpler way is made of Cyrus and Imam Hossain, both were revolutionaries rising up against the system. Iranian Shia mentality any way of life is very different then rest of the ME but not arrogant as street Arabs have been told for various political reasons throughout the history.

  64. Paul Escobar says:

    Mr. Lang,
    Is there anything wrong with the U.S. informing Russia of the location of US Special Operations forces?
    Article here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/02/18/pentagon-russia-knows-where-u-s-special-forces-are-in-syria/
    Some are making hay of this online, but I can’t figure out why.

  65. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Putin could be channeling Richard Nixon; strengthening Iran as a bulwark for the security of the Russian Federation against Jihadists and other threats.

  66. turcopolier says:

    Paul Escobar
    IMO we should inform Russia of the locations of our men. The last thing we should want is an incident in which Russia bombs our men in ignorance of their locations. pl

  67. turcopolier says:

    Mishkilji, PB, Aleksandr, b
    My comment about it being “downhill all the way to Jisr as-Shugur” was meant in a geographical and topographical sense. IMO it will be psychologically and physically easier to fight your way forward going generally downhill, and the opposite will be true for the jihadi forces now facing the R+6 advance. At the same time the advance is likely to gain momentum as the jihadis retreat from the mountains and in that sense the advance will be rolling downhill. pl

  68. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The Bedu came out of the mountains of North Africa and conquered the Muslim Arab cities. They massacred so many of the Muslim peasants that there were not enough people left to keep the irrigation works functioning – itself a legacy of Romans and Phoenicians.
    To this day, North African agriculture has not recovered from the damage inflicted by the Bedu.

  69. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Is it true that Omar Khayyam is the most popular poet in Russia after Pushkin?

  70. rjj says:

    Not sure if all are aware of the handy topo feature of google maps. https://goo.gl/Ov3X8p You have to go to the menu trigram at the left top corner and select terrain from the drop down menu. Zoom in 1 or 2 clicks o see elevation.

  71. bth says:

    I want to clarify the difference between economics as a constrain v a motivator.
    Russia is not in Syria for the money. Economics is not the motivator. But it is a constraint for countries like Russia that cannot print cash out of thin air like the US and also face severe economic sanctions for their adventures. And it is necessary to win consensus among oligarchs – perhaps the most jaded people on the planet. And it is in Iran’s thinking process that something must be bargained to maintain influence over the Russians. Suleimani is indeed brilliant in his overall approach to Russia, Assad and Iraq.
    Now someone is going to post that the sanctions are about Ukraine, which is true in a strict sense, but they won’t realistically be removed against Russia without some comprehensive reset which would include Syria. Lavrov was pretty clear about his priorities; a solution in Syria, a negotiated resolution as his three objectives (not necessarily in that order).

  72. Jack says:

    What type of surveillance and intelligence played such a pivotal role?
    What about battlefield tactics? Or weaponry?
    I am curious why such a dramatic change in performance in such a short period of time by the same Syrian army.

  73. Nuff Sed says:

    Just to put an end to the speculation about the formation of an independent Kurdish state: All you have to do is consider that landlocked states depend on their neighbors for transit of goods, including, say, gasoline to run their cars. None of the 4 would-be neighbors would allow secure access to such strategic commodities.
    The situation in the “autonomous” Kurdish region of Iraq is so bad that the Zionist mafia that control the place (the Barzani clan) have reportedly gone back to Baghdad with their tails between their legs agreeing to cut oil exports to the Sultan T.urdogan clan if only Baghdad will resume paying the salaries of their government employees.
    Nuff Sed.

  74. Bill Herschel says:

    Colonel Lang,
    Am I correct in saying that the entire foundation of United States “Foreign Policy” has been fundamentally altered since the Russian Aerospace (their term) intervention in Syria? I only ask the question, because I think it’s a question worth thinking about.
    And of course if it is completely off topic, please ignore it.

  75. The Beaver says:

    To all
    From the Boston Globe, an opinion piece:
    “Washington-based reporters tell us that one potent force in Syria, al-Nusra, is made up of “rebels” or “moderates,” not that it is the local al-Qaeda franchise. Saudi Arabia is portrayed as aiding freedom fighters when in fact it is a prime sponsor of ISIS. Turkey has for years been running a “rat line” for foreign fighters wanting to join terror groups in Syria, but because the United States wants to stay on Turkey’s good side, we hear little about it. Nor are we often reminded that although we want to support the secular and battle-hardened Kurds, Turkey wants to kill them. Everything Russia and Iran do in Syria is described as negative and destabilizing, simply because it is they who are doing it — and because that is the official line in Washington.”
    Fortunately, we have a good community on SST where actual facts are written and then debated. My BP goes up whenever I watch Holly Williams speaks about the dictator or regime (!!!) with her disclamer that the videos she is showing can’t be verified. Experiencing the same thing on the CBC.

  76. turcopolier says:

    Bill Herschel
    That’s a fair question. IMO the foundation should be changed in the presence of a demonstration of the continuing efficacy of military force as more than the symbolic concept that the R2Pers want to think it. They think that diplomacy and scheming can be used to pressure people into surrender to “The New World Order.” They are wrong in that belief but they cling to it. pl

  77. Laguerre says:

    Amir’s “Westoxicated” is the Persian “gharbzadeh”, is it not? It used to be translated “West-struck”, perhaps better “dazzled by the West”, into abandoning everything Persian. They used to accuse the Shah and his circles of being that. Your explanation rather mushes the meaning.

  78. turcopolier says:

    IMO you are thinking of Berbers rather than Bedu. Bedu are tribal Arabs who are generally at least semi-nomadic. They exist everywhere in the Arab World.

  79. turcopolier says:

    That is very helpful although I don’t see the elevations. I see the landforms but not the numbers. pl

  80. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The problematic was ill-defined and ill-understood. Millennia of living within a profoundly religious culture cannot be and will not be altered without an equally rigorous assessment of one’s own place in the scheme of things.
    Put another way, even if one is from Hell, the first order of business is to accept and acknowledge who one is and what one’s heritage and culture are – before a rational attempt at adaptation of alien ideas could be attempted.
    The fairly mundane and – I would hope – non-controversial subject of Aesthetics, to my knowledge, has never been explored within Islamic Thought to the present day.
    The single useful text on the subject, in my opinion, “Islamic Art and Spirituality” was written by Dr. Seyyed Hussein Nasr – a Shia Iranian (father of Dr. Seyyed Vali Nasr) who himself received his post-graduate education abroad and now lives in US.

  81. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for correcting me; I was wrong.
    I should have used “Nomad” in lieu of “Bedu”.

  82. SmoothieX12 says:

    ISR–Intelligence, Surveillance, Recon are crucial factors of any operation, they are also critical for targeting. Russia brought to the table here the same what it did in Donbas–a complete situational (I know where my enemy is) and tactical (I know what my enemy is going to do) awareness. There are only two nations in the world, USA and Russia, who possess full spectrum intel capabilities (from the ground, including human intel, up into space) which can provide for the most effective planning and decision making, both on tactical and operational levels. I can not emphasize enough the importance of that. Embedding military advisers from Russia also helped to optimize the internalization and use of C4ISR through massive tactical and operational experience those advisers brought to the table. By no means trying to diminish those abilities of the Syrian Army, but Russia here is a totally different weight category. Much, and I mean much-much, heavier.
    As per weapons. Stand off capability, no doubt, is important and so is advantage in Precision Guided Munitions which Russia realizes in Syria through both Air Force, primarily, and other branches, in secondary fashion, including supply of such weapons as T-90 MBTs, which are largely immune to ATGMs. The improvement of performance is, in a large part, due to the factors I briefly listed but also due to undeniably improved fighting spirit of Assad’s army, which now, is being much more ably led. It is never one thing, it is a complex combination of those which may, very often, produce a synergistic effect.

  83. Bob says:

    Bill Hershel:
    Yes, I believe that you and COL Lang are correct, and the Russian intervention should have completely changed US strategy/policy towards Syria, even for those R2Pers and Neocons who remained in denial that the Iranians were always “All In” for both Syria and Iraq, and there was never any possibility that they would allow the Asad regime to fall or for the sectarian Shia religious parties under Iranian influence to lose control in Iraq.

  84. Bill Herschel,
    The military question of building/assisting foreign military forces is also worth thinking about. The R+6 success over the last few months cannot be chalked up to just Russian airpower. The effectiveness of the R+6 ground forces stands in stark contrast to the multiyear US effort to rebuild the Iraqi army. The effectiveness of the ragtag SDF/YPG also should be examined. I think a lessons learned series of books is called for. The series the US Army did after WW II are magnificent.

  85. SmoothieX12 says:

    “And it is necessary to win consensus among oligarchs – perhaps the most jaded people on the planet”
    While there is no doubt that Putin and “siloviki” consider “oligarchy”, they, oligarchs, are by far not the most important factor in Kremlin’s decisions. The stakes are too high and any failure in geopolitical game can, and, most likely will, bring, Putin’s downfall with oligarchs mostly occupying the lamp posts along some of the main Moscow arteries. Putin understands that. In Russia historically geopolitics and internal politics are tightly interconnected. Oligarchs also have an understanding that the only factor which keeps them from hanging by the neck from lamp posts is said Putin.

  86. bth says:

    Should read Lavrov was pretty clear about his priorities; a solution in Syria, a negotiated resolution in the Ukraine and prompt removal of sanctions.

  87. SmoothieX12 says:

    True, but only to a degree. I am always very cautious with historical analogies.

  88. Kooshy says:

    I was referring To Arab desert folks Bedouin

  89. Kooshy says:

    Bob early on in Syrian uprising back in 2011 I remember then president ahamdinijad in an interview was saying that we (Iran) do not believe the Syrian goverment and her Presiden will fall.

  90. Thirdeye says:

    Click on the menu (three horizontal bars) next to the search box and select “terrain.” It needs to be zoomed in for the contours and numbers to be visible. I don’t know why Google doesn’t include the contours in the version that toggles on from the lower left.
    Or you can use this version with some extra gizmos and goodies. It’s a little slower.

  91. SmoothieX12 says:

    Zoroastrians are well represented in academia and culture in Iran.

  92. johnf says:

    I think it started with the Iran deal, but events in Syria continue this process.
    Whether its down to the new pope, El Nino, or the millions of victims of the Borg in all its forms at last deciding they’ve had enough, things are certainly changing at lightning speed on the ground.
    In Syria events are happening so fast in the collapse of the Borg House of Cards that one can only watch open-mouthed.
    And the beauty of it is at the exact same time, in a classic pincer movement, the Borg is also being surrounded and destroyed in their own capital – Washington. Trump to the right of them, Sanders to the left, and all the unicorn candidates in between shivering into non-existence.
    I never thought I’d witness the Plains of Zama.

  93. Poul says:

    The Kurdistan Freedom Hawks (TAK) take responsibility for the attack.

  94. JJackson says:

    Also the tools menu has a flight simulator which I find very useful to get a feel for the terrain. Flying around Latika gave a real sense of the difficulty of the terrain. and usefulness of the high ground.

  95. JJackson says:

    after thought.
    Also if you have a google account and select ‘my maps’ you get a few additional tools inc. the ability to easily change between views and a tape measure which is hand for measuring runway lengths etc.
    I used all these features heavily while planning my moves in the recent SST war game.

  96. johnf says:

    The East Aleppo pocket is closed. 800 ISIS members to presumably decided to stay and die. Its been a bad week for ISIS.

  97. Poul says:

    IS could also be on the way to loss quite a few warriors. The pocket north-east of Aleppo may have been closed.

  98. JohnsonR says:

    The Russian intervention seemingly changed everything – air support obviously, but also new equipment, weapons resupply and refurbishment, maintenance, training, recon assets (drones etc) and intel…..
    But probably the biggest immediate impact after the direct CAS was turning morale around, which is usually underestimated in its impact, but it makes all the difference if you want people to risk their lives for you.
    No hope of victory = why risk anything for a lost cause. The Russians gave the Syrian army back hope of victory, which was all but gone by last September.

  99. rjj says:

    click the “+” 2 times to zoom in, then look around. In order to minimize screen clutter the numbers are pale gray and there are not a lot of them. There is one right below the top of the curve.
    Thirdeye and JJackson have already provided, for which THANK YOU.
    By way of 3rdI’s Russian site linked below: in the 00s pages/sites that realized the potential of the web were still rare. Every time I found one that was feature-rich, functional AND ALSO beautiful, the designers were Russian. I thought they might be from a single or connected source(s), so I wrote and asked – they were not. For a while wondered why Russians seemed to be so damn good at so many things – {{ but then went back to reading up on self-esteem.}}

  100. Serge says:

    Babak was referring to the depredations of the Benu Hilal during the Fatimid period. You were referring to the original promulgators of Islam

  101. Marow says:

    Name one achievement of Persia pre-Islam ?.
    Alexander the Great choose to settle in Babylon (IRAQ) and not in any Persian cities which tells you, there were no civilized cities in Persia comparatively.

  102. Chris Chuba says:

    I don’t know who was the first to post the link to http://militarymaps.info/ but whoever it was I want to thank them. I go to it every day. It’s elegant and beautiful. For all of the talk about how the Russians are allegedly these mind numbed robots who tow the party line, it is a great example of a collaborative effort. You can tell they make a great effort to keep the map up to date and to correct things that are wrong ASAP.
    To cut down on the Col’s moderating overhead I’d like to comment on the Boston Globe article that others have posted about, http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/02/18/the-media-are-misleading-public-syria/8YB75otYirPzUCnlwaVtcK/story.html
    The author, Stephen Kinzer, is an old school foreign correspondent who actually visited the areas he wrote about and this is the excerpt that I’d like to pull from that great article …
    “Reporters who cover Syria check with the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and think tank “experts.” After a spin on that soiled carousel, they feel they have covered all sides of the story. This form of stenography produces the pabulum that passes for news about Syria.
    Astonishingly brave correspondents in the war zone, including Americans, seek to counteract Washington-based reporting. At great risk to their own safety, these reporters are pushing to find the truth about the Syrian war. Their reporting often illuminates the darkness of groupthink. Yet for many consumers of news, their voices are lost in the cacophony. Reporting from the ground is often overwhelmed by the Washington consensus.”
    Sadly, the responses by the readers of the Boston Globe are followers of the Borg and seem to have no interest in thoughts that question the favored narrative.

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