Look to the East – TTG


Many of us expected the R+6 to finally focus on the jihadi cauldron in Idlib once Deir Ezzor and Abu Kamal were secure and the forward line of troops facing the YPG/SDF becomes static along the Euphrates. This doesn't appear to be the case.

Yes, Abu Kamal is the immediate prize. The RuAF have hit that area with TU-22M3 bombers and the Russian Navy launched Kalibr cruise missiles towards Abu Kamal from the super-stealthy diesel-electric sub Kolpino. SAA forces along with IRGC-led militias have pushed beyond T2 to the Iraqi-Syrian border and have linked up with the Iraqi PMU forces that have taken Al Qaim. This Iraqi-Syrian coalition has advanced on Abu Kamal from the south and are now fighting IS units in the city. They are expected to take the city soon and hand it over to the SAA.

Just to the north, the Tiger Force sits just south of Al Mayadin along with other elite SAA units like the 800th Battalion poised to push down the Euphrates to Abu Kamal. This concentration of forces may have additional objectives beyond Abu Kamal. Bashar al-Assad laid out these additional objectives in comments he made after meeting with Iran's Ali Akbar Velayati yesterday in Damascus. Assad said he may take the war to the US-backed SDF by saying the war "targeted those who seek to divide and weaken states." Assad also appointed a new commander-in-chief for his forces across the Deir Ezzor Governorate, Major General Muhammad Khaddour. MG Khaddour led the successful defense and counter-offensive against last month's IS attacks on the Palmyra-Deir Ezzor M7 highway. Khaddour has the assistance of both MG Suheil Al-Hassan of the Tiger Force and MG Qasem Soleimani of the IRGC for whatever is planned for Deir Ezzor.

The YPG/SDF have to look at the forces arrayed in front of them, the leaders of those forces and the words of Syria's President and contemplate their future. They also have to look at the situation to their rear. The Iraqi Army and PMU will soon control the entire border with Syria up to the Turkish border. Their wisest decision would be to seek reconciliation with Damascus ASAP and tell the CJTF-OIR to pack up and go. I hope my Green Beret brethren embedded with the Kurds and Arab militias are advising their counterparts about the demobilization phase of a US-sponsored resistance. IMO this is the most critical phase of a successful resistance… reintegration into the nation's military forces and society. Do it right, boys. Do it right.






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34 Responses to Look to the East – TTG

  1. Pacifica Advocate says:

    Thank you. This is a fascinating revelation about how some military leaders deeply grasp the international political situation, and then apply that to the greater benefit of the nation they serve.
    Sadly, I think it is also an exercise in reflection, w/r/t the U.S.
    I wish your brethren power and prestige, TTG. Good luck to you all.
    I remain, however, pessimistic.

  2. blowback says:

    I think the YPG section of the SDF is reconciled with the government in Damascus because they know that without the Syrian government and their allies there is nothing to stop the Turkish Army occupying Afrin Canton. The issue for the SAA is with the Free/New Syrian Army and Deir Ez-zor Military Council sections of the SDF who are openly hostile to the Syrian Government in Damascus and are likely with minimal encouragement from Washington to attack across the Euphrates to capture Deir Ez-zor, Al Mayadin and Abu Kamal if the SAA withdraws forces for the attack on Idlib. The solution, the SAA goes east or Washington pulls out of Syria.

  3. turcopolier says:

    TTG We discussed this today. I think it is unclear and probably undecided whether the US will defend SDF if they are attacked by R+6. pl

  4. blowback says:

    Looks like the battle of Abu Kamal is over.
    Perhaps someone should tell CENTCOMM to take Abu Kamal off there to-do list.

  5. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    I admire your optimism. I am not so sanguine about the issue, given that this theater is part and parcel of the Great Game being played by israel and its vassals (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-41923007
    Ishmael Zechariah

  6. Ishmael Zechariah,
    I presented the stand down of the SDF and/or the YPG as an option, not a prediction. It is a pragmatic option that may or may not be chosen. I fully expect the Israelis to do something. They’ve threatened to move deeper into Syria from the occupied Golan Heights to “protect the Druze” from the very jihadis they continue to support, including providing fire support for jihadi attacks.

  7. MGS says:

    Bottomline is and they realize it, the SDF lacks the manpower to hold all the territory under it’s control. Always best to realize ones limitations and strike the best deal possible, then having one imposed upon you. winning the peace will be more difficult for the SDF then the SAA.

  8. Prem says:

    It’s interesting that the “Arab street”, that was once much referred to, has not noticed, or doesn’t care, about Israeli collusion with AQ/HTS.
    I guess sectarianism trumps nationalism.

  9. Castellio says:

    What an odd comment.
    Sectarianism is not trumping nationalism in Syria, nor is it doing so in Iraq. Frankly, right now, even the officially sectarian divisions in Lebanon are all feeling an anti-Saudi Arabian unity.
    You must prefer Israeli analysis to actual on the ground actions.
    Not to mention that your first statement (the silence of the Arab Street) has nothing to do with your conclusion.

  10. Peter AU says:

    I don’t see SAA attacking Kurds east of the Euphrates. Possibly they may attack the US held areas where the US is using formally ISIS tribes as proxies.
    Political manouvering and positioning is more likely to be used to bring the Kurds around.
    Perhaps Idlib next? Every few days there seems to be an article in AMN on another Turk armoured convoy moving into Idlib. I am starting to think the Turks will be allowed to remain in Syria until the US has been pushed out. The same block that defeated the Iraqi Kurd project can then be used to defeat any possible Syrian Kurd project.

  11. Prem says:

    I suppose I was thinking of Egypt and other places where the Muslim Brotherhood has support. I should have said “Islamist street” rather than “Arab steet”.
    One would have thought that collusion with Israel was cancer for those types. But apparently not.

  12. aleksandar says:

    There was 2 weeks ago a meeting in Hasaka between leader of YPG Karayilan, Ali Memluk boss of the Syrian security and Russian Mikhail Bogdanov assistant Secretary for foreign affairs.
    The Syrian proposed a bigger autonomy for Kurdish in exchange of withdrawal of Arabic lands which they occupy. Kurdish refused.
    Next stage, war or Iraqi scenario.

  13. blowback says:

    How many western journalists can speak Arabic? Liz Sly and Anne Barnard allegedly can’t so they rely on the people they’ve become acquainted with to supply them with information rather than go out and be reporters, so they’re heavily dependent on their sources and fixers. For both of the “reporters” above the source is largely the March 14th Movement which is pro-Saudi Arabia, includes Bin Ladenites and salafists, and let’s Sly and Barnard Skype “activists” in Gaziantep.
    There are two western journalists in Lebanon and Syria who actually go out and report. They are Robert Fisk (who apparently relies a bit to much on his driver’s opinions) and Patrick Cockburn.

  14. Castellio – You must be right. I do hope you are. And this – “The silence of the Arab Street”?
    I’m seeing figures of 50,000 + Jihadis dead so far. I’ve seen no reliable figures for overall casualties – would it even be possible to compile such figures? – but I believe they are large. As I have said before, not up to Holocaust numbers but does the overall count matter when it’s your town or your village or your family that gets snuffed out.
    Little of this could have occurred had the West not been at the centre of the operation to send in Jihadis and arms and to support this or that “rebel” faction. Most of these “rebel” factions are merely Al Qaeda or similar renamed for PR purposes and although the PR works well for us in the West it’s difficult to believe it works for those closer to the action. Perhaps the “Arab Street” is not so much “silent” as thoughtful.
    The impression I’ve been getting is that in the ME generally they are wising up to the fact that we’ve been sharpening and using their discords for our own ends and to their loss. Perhaps similar to the feeling in parts of the Ukraine that they have been similarly used. Is this impression just wishful thinking on my part or is the “Arab Street” waking up?
    It’s a question I’ve been wanting to put to the experts on this site for some time. Never mind that the PR works over here. The ME is fringe for most of us anyway. But the Arabs themselves? They can’t be that dumb, can they?

  15. b says:

    The YPG/SDF is moving forces from Manbij towards Deir Ezzor province.
    The Syrian army is expected to cross the Euphrates and to finally go for the oil fields.

  16. Annem says:

    The Russians have influence over the Turks and the Syrian regime and have relations with the YPG/PYG and the ability to protect Afrin from the Turks. They are the most likely to work out a deal that will satisfy both the Kurds and regime enough to agree. The Kurds, under such circumstances, will likely retreat from areas they do not traditionally control, leaving them for the SAA, including the oil fields. Left to their own devices, it may not be feasible for these new “military councils” to battle the SAA. As for the US, the decision of the PYG not focus on their own turf does not mean that they would not try to establish a base there, like it or not.

  17. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Any public report of this meeting?
    Of course you know that Karayilan is a PKK functionary (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murat_Karayilan ). And, of course you knew that he would refuse. BTW, his name translates as black snake.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  18. Anna says:

    Since you have mentioned Ukraine, its is truly puzzling that the composition of current Kievan government has produced no outcry from either veterans’ groups or from Jewish organizations mindful of anti-semitism. The presence and active participation of neo-Nazi at all stages of the last Ukrainian revolution was met with the peculiar “Jewish Street Silence” and veterans’ groups’ silence. https://www.infowars.com/us-backed-neo-nazi-party-given-key-roles-in-ukrainian-government/

  19. Peter AU says:

    I see the Hezbollah interactive map does not recognise the major part of the Omar oilfields as being held by the SDF. Still marked as ISIS territory.

  20. kooshy says:

    TTG, do you think, the reason Tiger forces did not move as fast down to Abu Kamal was because to slow down SDF move south, in other words, making SDF fear thin LOC which provided enough time for R+6 to move from T2 to capture the city from south ? If that was the plan it worked brilliantly with no possible casualties on competing forces.

  21. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has spoken up many times. I seem to remember that some Jewish organisations in the States also objected. Then there was the Senate vote on assisting the Azov battalion. As against that ties between Israel and the Ukraine exist –
    So it’s a bit of this and a bit of that. I believe the Progs call it being “conflicted”. Happens a lot, being conflicted:-

  22. kooshy,
    The Tiger Force were busy mopping up the IS remnants in DeZ until a few days ago. There is still the area along the Euphrates between al Mayaden and Abu Kamal to take as well as the empty area south of the Palmyra-DeZ highway. There are probably still some IS fighters in that area capable of dangerous hit and run attacks. They must be dealt with. Plus there was no telling whether the IS in Abu Kamal would put up more of a fight than they did. I don’t know what the future holds for the Tiger Force, but I’m sure the SDF will have sleepless nights as long as the Tigers are in DeZ Governorate. What the Iraqi Army and PMU do next also contributes to the SDF’s sleeplessness.

  23. kooshy says:

    Thank You

  24. johnf says:

    Talking of Patrick Cockburn, with the final city occupied by ISIS falling, he gives a magisterial description of the concurrent Shia Arbaeen religious pilgrimage, the largest annual gathering of people on earth.
    “Millions of black-clad Shia pilgrims are converging on the holy city of Kerbala… Walking in long columns stretching back unbroken for as much as 50 miles, sleeping and eating in tents erected by supporters beside the road, the event has become an overwhelmingly powerful display of Shia belief and solidarity…
    Arbaeen is the living symbol of the rise of the Iraqi Shia, a highly significant development in the Middle East, but it has happened only recently. Karim, 48, a tribal leader from Najaf, who provides free food for the pilgrims, recalls that when he first took part in an illegal Arbaeen walk under Saddam Hussein, “we had to take a roundabout route by the river [Euphrates] and try to keep hidden because, if we were caught, we would put in prison or executed”.”

  25. aleksandar says:

    My thought, but as usual I may be wrong is that the situation was more or less akin to DeZ liberation. TF going south from Rusafa to DeZ have had good intel about ISIS lines of defence from Ma’adan to Dez. North of Dez was also heavily fortified as was west DeZ entrance. Some General Staff planner should have set up a time/effect chart and decided that going on along Euphrat or attacking from As Sukhnah was « time consuming ».
    The conclusion was to conquer mount Bishri and rush to DeZ from north west.
    A brilliant decison.
    The same time/effect chart ( aside the moppping in DeZ by The Tiger Force as pointed out by TTG ) could have led to the same decision.
    – Stop south of Mayaden,
    – Bypass south through the desert ISIS line of defense on the axis T2- Al Bukamal and reach Al Qaim
    – Help Iraqi army conquer Al Qaim,
    – Oblige ISIS to regroup in Al Bukamal and free axis T2- Al Bukamal
    If I add the will to control asap Al Bukamal Euphrat bridge, it make sense.
    SAA can now use 3 bridges – DeZ,Al mayadin, Al Bukamal to cross in force Euphrat.
    Hope this will help

  26. aleksandar says:

    Something big in the offing but SAA should let HTS and Zinki kill each other a little bit more !
    ” Noor_alDinZenkey’s Ali Saaido in his “speech statement”, declared “war” against HTS in West Aleppo and he accuses the Mujahedeen of “fighting” FSA groups, with “intention” to hand over the “liberated” areas to Assad Regime “.
    ” Heavy fire exchange with clashes ongoing between HTS and Noor_alDinZenkey in the outskirts of Alabeezmo town..”
    There is a saying here:
    ” When there is not enought lay in stables, horses fight each others ”

  27. Al Masdar News reports elements of the Tiger Force are now redeploying to northern Hama for the coming Idlib offensive. Elements of the Tiger Force have operated independently of the whole before, but this is surely an indicator that the R+6 will now focus on Idlib.

  28. GeneO says:

    Unconfirmed news that wanna-bee-Caliph al-Baghdadi is in Abu Kamal. Heavy resistance encountered near his supposed hidey-hole. Russian special forces working with Hez to root him out.
    I have no clue as to whether this is truth or fiction. Source (brasco-aad) is Assad friendly. But in the past has tweeted some wild conspiracy theories. o take it with a grain of salt.

  29. turcopolier says:

    I think we ave decided that the TF are deployable in what we would call mixed company sized combat arms task teams or battalion sized task forces. I wonder how they do the re-supply for that. the main axis of advance into Idlib appears to be from Hama City to abu dahour air base. that is why the acquiescence of that rebel pocket north of Hama City is important. pl

  30. pl,
    The organization of the SAA’s mixed combat arms teams and the logistical support of those forces will be a fertile field of study. The integration of the many militias and allies into this system is also a marvel. That knowledge is only fragmentary to us at this time, but I’m sure it is of great interest to many of us. All those light pickups seem to follow the old Soviet concept of planned attrition. They are cheap enough to be used up and replaced rather than repaired and refurbished.

  31. Philippe T. says:

    “Les amateurs parlent de tactique, les professionnels parlent de logistique” (attr. to Dwight D. Eisenhower). Could you tell us more about the logistics of SAA and other protagonists of this war? I am amazed with the speed of moving of SAA.

  32. Poul says:

    It seems that the Coalition was willing to let hardcore IS fighters leave Raqqa. That could be construed as that the political focus was no longer in crushing IS but looking at breaking a Kurdish controlled part of Syria away from the rest. A deal which freed up SDF troops for the race to Abukamal.

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