From the day when the jaws of the Kurdish YPG stronghold at Sheikh Maqsood on the south and the Syrian Army Tiger Forces coming down from the north closed on the Castello Road at the north of the East Aleppo Pocket the lines of circumvalation have been complete and uninterrupted at Aleppo.
Some have have thought that the jihadi/unicorn effort at the SW of Aleppo city had broken the siege, but it did not. Many do not understand that for a route/road/path to be effective as an interruption of a siege it must be useful as a means of transportation for men/supplies/weapons. The penetration of the R+6 lines at SW Aleppo City was never anything like that. The breach was always heavily covered by fire and therefore never useful except for small groups like patrols. By "fire" I mean tank guns, artillery, recoilless rifles, mortars, machine guns and anything else that can shoot at the gap day and night. So far as I know, no supplies went into East Aleppo through the breach. Now, as is shown in the map above, the breach is completely closed and the lines of circumvallation made even stronger. IMO from a military POV rebel East Aleppo is doomed and the Rebel/US/Turkish attempt to relieve the besieged has utterly failed. The attempt to lift the siege of east Aleppo was IMO a maximum effort with assets that have largely been lost and which will be hard, if not impossible, to replace any time soon. the current rebel effort in north Hama Province is a kind of consolation prize for the rebels that will soon be eliminated as a threat.
John Kerry threatened "new measures" after 1 September while at the same time luring the Russians into accepting a "humanitarian" ceasefire. This temporary cessation of hostilities was IMO clearly a ruse de guerre which enabled the pro-rebel sponsoring powers to reinforce massively a rebel force designed to permanently break the government's siege of East Aleppo. It was expected that victory at Aleppo would be provided by Erdogan's enabling actions, but that effort failed and now Obama/Kerry are faced with a need to confront reality in Syria.
IMO Turkey has made a bargain with Russia and Iran in which support for all the rebels (both jihadi and FSA unicorns) who seek the destruction of the Syrian government will largely cease while the Turks are free to destroy Kurdish ambitions east of Aleppo City. The progress of the Russo-Turkish relationship is easily seen in Erdogan's surly nastiness as displayed toward Amtrak Joe Biden in Ankara and toward Obama in China.
With regard to IS, the US/Russian agreement will enable a campaign of extermination against them in eastern Syria and northern Iraq. The Turks will participate in that because Erdogan has come to see them as rivals in Islamism and a threat.
IMO, as a result of these basic changes in circumstances the Obamanites are in search of a face-saving compromise with the Russians over an end to the war in Syria. IMO this is reflected in the the soothing, friendly sounds from both Russia and the United States over the possibility of a ceasefire. Obama does not want to leave the mess in Syria as a stain on his legacy. Since belligerence has failed, he now looks for a prestige restoring alternative.
Can a thinly veiled defeat be disguised as a wonderfully skilled diplomatic success? Yes. The public outcome will promise things like; a new constitution, eventual exile for Bashar Assad, UN supervision of interim elections, etc., etc., ad nauseam.
The underlying truth will be that Syria will remain a multi-confessional state with Bashar Assad as president for a long time. If HC becomes president she will have to face the prospect of a new, and bigger war if she wishes to reverse the situation.
R+6 is going to win. pl
A most sobering, impartial assessment of the current situation. Thank you.
Once the jihadi rebels and ISIS are subtracted from the picture, what will the terms of settlement look like for Kurdish and Turkish held areas? Some sort of partition in Syria is the Empire’s plan B after all…
The empire has failed IMO and will not dictate the terms of peace. My crystal ball is a bit cloudy as to ultimate status. pl
Thanks you for this excellent, straightforward summary. If only the media was this succinct.
Col: I just want to say that the series of post from you, PB, and TGG over the last year on Syria have been fantastic.
I hope that a face-saving “exit” is possible for the West in this ghastly war. Otherwise, the futile mischief making will continue. For example, this morning we had the inevitable, inexplicable “chlorine” attack in Aleppo. See https://twitter.com/Souria4Syrians/status/773143315260829696
I put the “chlorine” in quotes because the SAA always seems to commit an atrocity right at the moment of the rebels’ maximum humiliation. Coincidence?
IMHO, Secretary Kerry’s actual face-saving strategy will probably involve a pitching a UN-backed International Commission on Syria to use lawyers to win from Assad what TOW missiles could not. Like the Commission on Lebanon, it will totally politicized and subject to constant manipulation. Given that, wouldn’t the Russians blunt any such initiative?
I totally agree with what you said, the reality is that R+6 will take Aleppo unless they snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
I am having difficulty seeing how the U.S. can be given the illusion of a diplomatic victory, perhaps it is there, just having trouble seeing it. To me it looks like the Turkish zone is being setup as the safe haven for the moderates (it hurts having to use that word) and the rebel areas outside of that zone will be excluded from any ceasefire. The rebel areas from Aleppo city, to Idlib, and what’s left of Latakia are going to be the rebels who refuse to leave and declared Jihadist, diehard terrorists.
If this ends up being the case then it will be an embarrassment to the U.S. to concede that such a large number of bad guys existed all along. The State Dept has been telling the press and us that most of these guys were moderates. The press might have to go to a seminar for a few weeks to understand what happened, where all of these extremists came from, and learn the new talking points.
If the Turks actually concede this much territory to R+6, the Russians will probably let Turkey’s air force operate in designated areas. I read on Southfront that there was an airstrike on the PYD.
If the Russians accepted anything less than this, it would be foolish and would likely create a new rift with the Iranians.
Diplomacy is BS and illusion. Anything can be constructed out of the “ether.” the Turkish occupation zone will be a “moderate” indoian reservation. they will be exterminated elsewhere. pl
Someone points out to me that on one occasion a few small trucks of fruit and vegetables made it through the SW breach. Well, my hat’s off to them. pl
Putin and Lavrov always defeat Obama and Kerry, but always let the latter have some kind of face saving pseudo-deal in negotiations in order to sell the deal to the Borg or US public. Over the next 2 months, the R6 will try to seal the deal in Aleppo, create other military realities around Idlib and Hama, let the Turks nail the coffin of Kurdish ambitions, and then make a ‘deal’ with Obama and Kerry that lets the latter look they achieved something. The R6 approach will be remembered as the real substance of any ‘diplomacy’ that winds down the war…unless HRC wins and engages in very reckless behavior.
There was one photo shot from an overpass of three small trucks with fruits “showing them driving into east-Aleppo”. I am 98% sure that the picture was NOT shot in Aleppo. Way too good quality, light and scene setting to be real.
About the three trucks, that makes sense. pl
I’m sure you’re right that nothing much made it into East Aleppo. The question that I had is the balance of forces. Could the jihadis open the road again? b has told us that bombing has destroyed much of the rebel support base, and many jihadis have been killed. Do you agree? The Syrians are obviously limited in the number of offensively capable forces they have. What happens if they’re called away to another battle?
“b has told us that bombing has destroyed much of the rebel support base, and many jihadis have been killed. Do you agree?” I do. IMO the rebels have lost so much in this effort that the correlation of forces now favors R+6. pl
I’m very concerned that the disrespect Obama experienced in China and the humiliation Joe Biden suffered in Turkey are a sign of things to come. I see this insulting behavior as a direct result of our failed, interventionist foreign policy which, as you point out, is backfiring spectacularly.
Do you think a noninterventionist candidate like Trump, can help us change directions and get back on track or are we doomed to make the same mistakes for the foreseeable future?
Obama’s “legacy?” What a joke!
If you were to take a poll of Americans outside the Capital Beltway and ask them how many care at all whether Assad is removed from power, my guess is that the number of affirmatives would be within the +/- margin of error of ZERO.
It is truly amazing how much butchery and slaughter America either engages in or supports around the world while the vast majority of its citizens exist if a haze of technodouchebaggery, mindlessly playing Pokemon GO and the aptly named fantasy football.
If by “their base” you mean their base in Turkey, I would agree with b. If you mean their various logistical forward bases in syria I would also agree with b. pl
Most Americans IMO do not really know where England is. pl
I think that a non-interventionist president who conducts himself or herself with dignity and who does not insist on having foreign enemies could do much for our status among the nations of the world. That does not mean I am in favor of allowing the North Koreans or anyone else to spit on us. pl
Just wondering which wholesale market they went to buy the pristine foods? The story doesn’t add up
Hopefully, the biggest losers in this entire affair are the Western MSM. They have been entirely discredited in their reporting of Syria and the Ukraine. That in itself would make it harder for the next idiot in the White House or the State Department to unleash the dogs of war.
CC: The rebels in the South are collapsing, so, of course, this: https://twitter.com/DovLieber/status/772505410242838528.
In my experience, they have a rough idea of where it is, but they do not care about it geographically, politically, economically or in any other dimension. The same can be said even more so in regard to other countries and regions. I base this anecdotal response on our American families’ and friends’ ignorance of the ongoing events of where we live, Greece, or events in the region and this part of the world let alone further afield in Asia and Africa.
Col: Since even the jihadis seem to have drones now, I do not understand why the SAA doesn’t send drones out in front of armor to locate ATGM before the armor gets in range.
There is a plausible political strategy for a President Hillary to fudge an American failure in Syria:herald the success in bringing down ISIL as it gradually comes apart while ignoring all matters Syrian. ISIL is recognizable to Americans; nothing in Syria is. Of course, we will have to do it pretty much on our own. Erdogan may cut most support but cannot be expected to attack them given the threat of a terrorist response.
Russia will limit itself to the few areas where ISIL is an impediment to consolidation of the Assad regime. The Kurds have no reason to be our mercenaries for payment in political Bitcoin. Therefore, a long drawn out process – but success nonetheless. As for Syria,it will get in the papers only infrequently: an annual Christmas Day editorial in the NYT,”Have we forgotten Syria?” and a graphic NGO report played up by Kristoff on the tribulations of Aleppo’s transgender community.
Colonel FYI latest election polls Show the presidential race is dead even, with DT gaining new voters, sounds like the Borg Queen is “coughing” her chance away.
The kind of small truck that gets stuck everywhere and needs a IFV to pull loose. Nope… faked. A couple of BMPs driving full tile might have made it, with fruit puree in the back!
I want to see an America that leads the world by example, a country that values personal freedom and the rule of law, rather than a Borg using it’s might for missions Wormtongue lobbyists convinces it to.
Israel has been treating our President(s) and diplomats with enormous disrespect for some time. Certainly other countries have noticed.
Even if the Syria mess resolves, Iran is still the blind spot for Trump and his adviser Michael Flynn. Maybe they’ll come around. Flynn was repeatedly asked in an interview whether the world was better off with less Pewrsian centrifuges than the hitherto existing more centrifuges. When finally pinned down, he made an affirmative admission.
about the 28 minute mark
there a lot of hate toward the MuQwamma (Hezb’allah) left over from the Beirut airport bombing of almost thirty years ago. Talked to a Marine friend that makes a lot of anti-Iran fb posts why he thought they did it. He said that’s what the Intelligence people told them on that occasion. The US Navy started bombing the Chouf mountain to help Gen Aoun. The other parties characterized that as “taking sides.” Cui bono?
Always thought the Druze had the most to gain from that, b/c they were the ones getting bombed. Who knows? Talking about Druze, watch what the weather vane Walid Jumblatt, the Lebanese Druze leader, does. When he turns friendly toward Syria again, then we’ll know there has been a turnaround in perception as to who is winning. Maybe not- he would have to give up the Saudi and Gulf money. The Syrian Druze know that the takfiri jihadists are not their friends. At some point the Israeli Druze will take a stand that Israel should not be backing jihadists that threaten their Syrian kinfolk.
(disclosure- i authored the initial article)
Thankfully, we made it through the tenth anniversary of the Lebanon war, without Israel starting another one. It would have probably been an effective gambit to draw Hezbollah out of Syria to help the “moderate” rebels and even “immoderate” ISIS/Daesh/IS. Maybe the retaliatory threat to rain down missiles on the Ammonia plant in Haifa was taken seriously?
Has anyone noticed the Houthis chant in Yemen. Mawt (Death) to America, Mawt to the Yehud. What is going on there?
Although time and complete victory is on the R+6 side, boxing in a future President Clinton is incentive enough for Putin to accelerate the process and come to an agreement which is superficially face-saving for Obama. It would be good for Putin, good for Assad, good for Erdogan and good for Obama.
But that only creates the opportunity, there is no guarantee it can get worked out.
Well, one can’t really hold it against Americans for not knowing where England is, when the English themselves can’t make up their mind.
This would all be fine if a President Clinton wanted to take the “plausible pollitcal strategy” way out. But if she chooses to see Assad-still-standing as an affront to her honor, requiring violent and visible public correction; then she will not be interested in your face-saving way out.
A President Trump might be very interested in it. He could say: “Syria is not MY mess. I inherited it from the Clintobama Administration. We will just stroll away with dignity as we mend fences with some very big important countries.” After all, Trump has already indicated that his honor is not affronted by Assad-still-standing.
A great thanks for the Syrian updates.
I assume that Turkey’s safe zone will be a R&R site for the Jihadists. Turkey will have a real war of occupation on its hands if it takes on the Syrian Kurds. I doubt that the head choppers will look kindly to having Ottoman overlords. The West keeps doing contortions to keep the Russians and Iranians fighting the Sunni Islamists.
The only way to eliminate the Islamists threat and return the refugees home is for the West to ally with Russia and China and agree to a Middle East peace settlement that eliminates the Caliphate. The tribal wars will continue as long as the globalists promote a world war for profit and for Israel and Saudi Arabia’s interests. The destruction of sovereign states continues. The rule of law and democracy are fading away.
>”I am having difficulty seeing how the U.S. can be given the illusion of a diplomatic victory, perhaps it is there, just having trouble seeing it.”
Maybe they move an aircraft carrier off the coast of Syria, few things say victory like a carrier task force. Hang a big banner to make it look good say “Mission Accomplished” thats catchy. Fly the prez in on a fighter jet to declare victory. Tada the US has won the war in Syria.
I know you don’t like links to social media but perhaps you’ll make an exception here. Because this one is so on the money.
Thank you, Colonel Lang. Everything I note about the Syrian conflict supports your conclusion. But then the pessimist in me whispers, Never underestimate a cornered rat. A very large faction here and abroad has made this about Russia. For now, though, I will take your words as inspiration to keep slogging on through the nightmare called the long war.
I don’t think the story of three trucks getting into Aleppo is incorrect but you don’t feed 200,000 people using pickups. Proper trucks can’t use the short cuts/roads available to smaller vehicles.
Also it was right after the rebels had taken the Artillery College and the Ramouseh residential quarter. The government troops were reeling and disorganized.
No, I don’t think the MSM or anyone else have been “discredited” by junk news.
Beside small fringe populations like SST readership nobody gives a hoot, its’ all about gossip and the show.
“If HC becomes president she will have to face the prospect of a new, and bigger war if she wishes to reverse the situation.”
Given her record is that not a cause for concern?
Well, sir, I would gladly subscribe to your rambles and musings, but the subscription button on your page only produces HTML script/gobbledygook, which scares me … (and a Twitter retweet button would help your ramblings gain purchase immensely.)
Assuming a robot doesn’t read this, I look forward to improvements every day … a lonely task, thus far.
Loyalist forces now pushing out toward Tell Nusaybin in the Northern Aleppo and toward Khan Touman in the South.
You can see on the map here:
Looks like we might see major gains in the next few weeks as Russia continues to pound rear bases and supply routes in Idlib, and the SAA capitalize on the loss of forces in the Aleppo battle the Col. enumerated. Hopefully the head choppers will be forced to pull forces from Hama too in order to defend the Aleppo front.
btw Col., Russia Insider is publishing your Syria posts now. Getting the word out.
I think the latest national polls indicate the typically Republican states will vote Trump (contra dem agitprop), so I guess it all comes down as usual swing states. These could also include traditionally blue strongholds like Oregon.
The largest question remaining is, who will fight for a united Syria? Even with Aleppo under control, there remains the fullity of Idlb, and the Israeli and Jordanian borders. How long will it take for the Syrian army to be rebuilt, will Russia deploy ground forces, will Russia increase its commitment without equivalent from Iran, can ISIS be defeated in Iraq quickly enough for the use of PMUs coming en masse from the east?
The ceasefire was a ruse, but the Syrian army needed time to become somewhat less shattered. It will take endless labor, negotiations and threats to bring back some degree of professionalism to Syrian loyalist forces, for lack of a better term.
Turkey can easily renege on its promises, and I see no desire from the US or the Gulf to end the war, they’d love to see a fragmented state and a mass exodus of Alawites.
But it is nice to see borg gambit after gambit fail. The cost in human suffering is always high, not that it bothers them.
If HC becomes president she will have to face the prospect of a new, and bigger war if she wishes to reverse the situation”. I only hope someone, or something, really can pin her down on precisely, repeat, precisely, who will be fighting this possible ‘new’ and ‘bigger’ war. And that is, the same, weary, over deployed, over micro managed, group of mostly American males. Who loath, and are loathed, by the very types–endless lip service aside, by the very class that will be sending them off.
I am not so optimistic this harsh and painful truth can or will be, sold.
You make a number of statements that are unsupported by present reality. Who will fight for a united Syria? A lot of people are presently fighting for a united Syria. At Aleppo the SAA and Hizbullah have closed the breach and once again isolated East Aleppo. They have also broken into the rebel position at Khan Touman. Do you think that ghosts accomplished these things? Do you not see that these things were done by force of arms? Idlib? Rebel positions across the province are being pounded unmercifully from the air and Turkey has evidently cut off rebel supply lines into Hatay Province as part of their bargain with Moscow. According to today’s press Syrian and Turkish officers are to meet to discuss future relations. Does that sound promising to you concerning the prospects of the rebels? The southern battlefields? The SAA has been steadily advancing in East Ghouta while IS and the other jihadis are busy fighting each other over next to the Golan Heights. The SAA is shattered? I don’t think so. Clausewitz wrote that the best training for war is war. Put another way – whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. IMO today’s SAA is a smaller, more compact organization that is smaller than what is needed but which has a lot of combat experienced and very effective Hizbullah, NDF, Iranians, Palestinians and Russian allies. You don’t seem to notice how well they have been fighting since the Russian intervention. BY PMU you mean Iraqi Shia militia? IMO they are irrelevant to the core Syrian situation and should continue working on the IS problem. pl
You may have read this but Col. Lang has made the argument for universal service for just this reason: the average American is too far removed from the realities of our (the U.S.’s) interventions. I agree with him 100%.
Thanks for the support but it is not “universal” service that I favor. I want to see a draft run without any deferments or loopholes provided to the children of the rich and privileged so that the people who send others to war also have “skin in the game.” The armed forces have no need for drafted privates in the numbers that a universal draft would produce but the risk of combat service must be extended to all. pl
I just gave myself money using the donation button so I don’t know what you are talking about. I have no idea what a Twitter retweet button is. Is that a feature of my twitter account? pl
“the short cuts/roads available to smaller vehicles.” Yes, but the main issue is the barrier of fire that would be impossible run through. pl
Turkey wants to have a go at Raqqa:
Is this a way Turkey can counter the Kurd problem (by showing the US they are the more effective power against ISIS) while maintaining significant influence in the final resolution of the conflict?
Col: In light of this new Turkish/FSA zone separating the two Kurdish cantons, won’t the FSA use this zone to attack Aleppo from the East?
I have been concerned about that for some time. The Russian/Turkish agreement may preclude that. pl
Col: In a prior post, you mentioned the different philosophies of the US Army and USMC on fortifications/outposts.
Could you recommend some good reading on that subject? Thank you.
The marines here will have something to say but It has always been clear to me that the army is inclined to fight battles in which materiel plays a larger role. IMO USMC has always seemed averse to digging in enough in defensive situations. I don’t have any references to give you. pl
I disagree on a small point about Turkey and their buffer zone. So far the Jarabalus “corridor” along the border with Turkey has served as THE supply line for ISIS. Weapons and supplies flow freely to the south, while oil shipments flow to the north. Why are we supposed to believe that because Turkey is moving their border further south to Bab that all of a sudden this will end? I see it as quite the opposite. By moving their border further south to Bab, Turkey is actually ensuring that ISIS will continue to have a dependable supply line from Turkey (this time it will go through the “moderate” zone they are creating). I understand that Erdogan and Putin may have agreed on Aleppo, but I see no indication that Erdogan has completely abandoned ISIS. I hope I’m wrong
My hat is off to you, Col. Thanks very much! Now the only thing that could go wrong with your expectations is Erdogan. He holds a lot of cards.
A lot of cards? Yes, but excessive cleverness and trickery could end up with them amounting to a dead man’s hand. pl
A US-Iran strategic settlement as well as US-Russia strategic settlement will pulverize many of those cards.
I saw that picture at the time. I can’t say for certain that it was taken in Aleppo, but I am certain it was for show because, as someone else points out, here, you can’t feed 200,000 people (if there really are that many people in east Aleppo) with a few pickup truck loads of melons and bananas.
Perhaps, but that’s not way Obama was humiliated in China. He was humiliated in China because he has nothing to offer the rest of the world other than geopolitical confrontation and trade war. With the exception of certain interests in Europe, nobody wants that stuff anymore. What they want is the Silk Road to the future and its the Chinese who are offering that.
“… I see no indication that Erdogan has completely abandoned ISIS.”
He did the day three Islamic Staters blew themselves up in Ataturk Airport. Any jihadi group wanting Turkish assistance will have to receive the Brotherhood seal of approval and with it follow the instructions of Big Brother Tayyip, which is this war is coming to a close.
“Yes, but excessive cleverness and trickery could end up with them amounting to a dead man’s hand.”
Considering the Sultan’s neck was heading down the line to the spinal cranial slicer I would not see him trying anything with players that matter now that he has been given a reprieve. A turn against the Wahhabis so he can solidify the Brotherhood as the legitimate leaders of Sunni Islam would be the one card to play.
It was interesting watching Erdogan doing an interview for CCTV at the G-20 because he was very relaxed and carefree unlike the interview he gave them the previous year when he was somber and intensely focused. A little humility by apologizing to Russia over the SU-24 shootdown gained him so much that in the future he will want to maintain the straight and narrow path because he won’t be given another chance if he does deviate.
Do you see either of those strategic settlements happening?
“small fringe populations like SST” If you wish to denigrate this forum you don’t belong here. pl
With respect, the U.S. doesn’t really have a dog in this fight and, therefore, how can we said to have sustained a defeat? We do have a commitment to the Kurds and given the history with this embattled people, it will be interesting to see how far we will oppose a fellow NATO member to protect them.
However hideous the Assad regime is, nerve gas, barrel bombs, hospitals targeted, etc. does anyone really think a rebel victory wouldn’t be worse..Alawite genocide, revenge slaughter, the end of Christianity in Syria.
The rebellion has failed and the sooner the rebels see that, the less blood will be shed.
Are you professor Elliot Cohen? The US has been a major actor in the fight in Syria from the beginning and actually from before the rebellion began. Today Senator Bob Corker stated that the US has a major responsibility in Syria because our sitting ambassador in Syria BEFORE the rebellion traveled around the country encouraging the revolt. Do you think that the ambassador did this on his own authority? Corker is the Chairman of the senate Foreign Relations committee. pl
Robert Ford was a loose cannon who went native. He purposefully embarrassed the administration and no longer is with the State Department. Major allies like Saudi Arabia and Turkey had and have far deeper interests in Syria than that of the US.
See Jeffrey Goldberg’s interview in the Atlantic a couple of months ago with the President. He refers to the think tanks concerned with the Middle East as “enemy occupied territory”…all in the pay of the Saudis.
The only strategy the rebels have come up with is to have US intervention…and we’d wind up doing it alone.
I’m not Eliot A. Cohen
Sorry, I just meant that SST readership isn’t representative of any “majority” of people (alas…), do you think it is and some members could have something like “electoral success”?
What does R+6 stand for?
The Ramouseh neighbourhood is recaptured. West Aleppo has once again an open supply line.
The fire barrier was not 100%. No doubt for large vehicles but smaller ones could move in and out of Aleppo. Until the government forces regained some high ground around Qabliyah.
The East Aleppo rebels controlled parts of the Ramouseh neighbourhood prior to the offensive and launched a VBIED to spearhead the capture of Ramouseh. My guess would be that they used the same method to cross the road from the As Sukkar neighbourhood as the government forces do around the 1070 neighbourhood. Throwing up large earth walls to create a safe corridor.
One can actually see the earth walls on Google map between rebel controlled Ramouseh and Ar Sukkari
Ever heard of indirect fire? pl
Russia, SAA, Iranian forces, Hizbullah, Palestinian militia and the NDF. pl
Any country is responsible for the actions of its ambassador. are you suggesting that the state Department and WH did not know what Ford was doing? pl
The Washington Post reveals Washington’s terms for the ceasefire around Aleppo:
In a letter sent last weekend, Michael Ratney, the State Department’s liaison to the opposition, spelled out the proposed cease-fire steps. The proposal calls initially for a “complete cessation of military operations by the regime and its affiliated forces and opposition forces on the Ramusa road” in southwest Aleppo, and entry by U.N. aid convoys.
Second, checkpoints are to be set up on Castello Road, the main northern entryway to the city that government forces seized from the rebels last month. The government is then to withdraw all of its vehicles and heavy weapons to more than a mile away from Castello Road, which will be declared a “demilitarized zone.” Similar withdrawals and checkpoints are then to be established in the south.
How long will the “ceasefire last on the Castello Road? Until about one hour after the SAAs vehicles and heavy weapons are moved more than a mile away.
What will happen then?
Jabhat al-Nusra (or whatever they’re called by then) will launch an assault and “liberate” the Castello Road.
What will the Washington do?
Wring its hand, demand that the Russians don’t bomb Jabhat al-Nusra and that’ll be it.
When this letter was sent, SAA control of the Ramusa Road was tenuous at best so the intention of this Washington “ceasefire” was to leave western Aleppo besieged by Jabhat al-Nusra.
Article behind paywall (so open link in incognito window) at:
The one in western Aleppo? Being a city, the border between east and west Aleppo is probably slightly porous when money is offered. BTW, the fruit didn’t look like it had been strapped down, so that suggests a wild dash along the Ramusa Road wasn’t involved particularly as they hadn’t weighted down the backs.
As Karl Marx said “Pokemon Go is the opium of the masses”.
I think you are underestimating the significance of what has happened: people from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan have learnt to cooperate with one another and to fight together against the Jihadists and assorted Sunni Muslim rebels.
This is a qualitative change and will persist into the coming years as all these variegated armed forces have learnt how to fight a mini-world war.
The interesting thing for me is if this Syrian Civil War, just like the Spanish Civil War, is a harbinger of a much wider and longer war to come – across the Middle East as well as across the World.
I think US policy aim is to prevent the crushing of anti-Assad forces in Aleppo. On the other hand, I think their destruction has to be the only aim of the R+6 at this time period.
I’ve not heard “death to Jews”. Every time I’ve heard it, it’s been “Al mawt li Amerika, al mawt li Israel”. The Yemenis seem to understand that without American and Israeli support, Saudi Arabia wouldn’t be attacking them, the USG wouldn’t be collect billions in commission, Al Qaeda would be gone from Yemen and the US military-industrial complex would have one less source of revenue.
“nerve gas, barrel bombs, hospitals targeted”
Most of the evidence suggests that it was the rebels who used the nerve gas.
I don’t understand why everyone feels that there is something terribly wrong about barrel bombs when really they’re nothing more than crude dumb bombs, and their design is really no different to that of the warheads from the “hell cannons” used by the terrorists.
Most of the claims of attacks on hospitals come from activists associated with the rebels and funded as propagandists by the USG and HMG. And since the locations of these hospitals have not been revealed to the Syrians and Russians, they could readily be confused with rebel bases with vehicles with armed men frequently pulling up outside.
I’m not saying that Assad is an angel, but a lot of misinformation and BS is spread by the MSM to demonise him and justify American intervention( typical MO for the USG).
The main failure of American policy in Syria is based on the underlying belief that ONLY a diplomatic/political settlement can end the war. This is an assumption, not a fact or even an assessment. If I had to guess I’d say that Kerry and the State Department advanced this belief.
It is hard to believe after so many dismal failures of American military efforts in the middle east in recent history; but military means CAN BE decisive. Too many times the American military was misused to bring about political ends (like installing a popular democratic government).
Military force is used to destroy the enemy’s military, which allows the winner to impose his will on the loser (by using coercion). It does not win hearts and minds, it is not nation building, and it sure does not install popular democratic governments.
In Syria there are now a large number of political actors who must all agree on any political settlement. Getting this agreement is a practical impossibility. On the other hand, the war is only a two sided affair; Syrian government side versus the opposition. Resolution of the Syrian conflict is more likely to occur by force of arms rather than by political means.
It is simple. If our goal is to defeat ISIS/JN, we support the side if the war that will destroy ISIS/JN. Other nice to do things like implement democracy can be worked on afterwards.
Yes, but it should not be a large problem for the government as the government forces have regained the same positions which they held before the rebel offensive (less the areas west of the Artillery College). If they could feed West Aleppo before the offensive, they should be able to feed the government controlled part of the city again.
The main failure was starting that war to wound Iran.
To impose your will, as you state it, requires the level of destruction visited upon Germany and Japan in World War II – in my opinion.
Is the control of Syria worth that much to US? or EU?
Scapegoating Ford does not fit the material facts of the case.
Senator Richard Black (who has actually been to Syria):
“Let me just run you through this, because the timeline is extremely important: In 2001, Gen. Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander Europe has told us, that the Pentagon was ordered by the Secretary of Defense to make plans to topple seven different countries, neutral, non-belligerent countries, in what was an act of aggression under the law of war, which is a war crime. And so, the Pentagon began war-planning 2001.
Now, President Bashar al-Assad did not take office until I think it was 2000; so he was brand new. He’d come in as a reformer. But reform, good or bad, didn’t matter; we were going to topple seven countries, all of them also enemies of the Saudi Arabians. The United States is pulled around by the nose by Saudi Arabia, and for our senior leaders in this country, they all have a meeting with Mr. Green. And Mr. Green persuades them to do whatever the Saudis tell them.
So, OK, you start with 2001, the Pentagon starts planning. In 2006, WikiLeaks has released a document that came from the Chargé d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy; at the time, we didn’t not have an ambassador, so the Chargé d’affaires was the senior person. That document outlined, in detail, plans to overthrow the government of Syria. And the two things that stand out in my mind is, we have a problem because President Assad came in as a reformer, he’s doing a lot of positive things, and so it is drawing an enormous amount of foreign direct investment and we’ve got to smear the image of Syria so that it will begin cutting off this flow of funds, and will adversely impact the Syrian economy. This is the United States, your country and my country, saying “we’re going to destroy another country by smearing their reputation.
The other thing which I think was equally sinister, is in this country that has this beautiful religious harmony, we said have got to create religious division, religious frictions and hatred among religions, so that we can disassemble this country.
But there were six very specific things outlined. And keep in mind, in 2006, there were no demonstrations, there was no political opposition, there were no uprisings, people were prosperous, they were happy.
So here you go from 2005, we start planning the war; 2006, we come up with explicit plans. You go to 2011 and the CIA works to gain the release of the most deadly al-Qaeda operatives in Libyan prisons and uses those people to spark an uprising in Benghazi, the purpose of which — and I wish, you know, Congress, while they’re always talking about Benghazi, they never talk about before Benghazi. What was the reason we were there in the first place! Why did we attack our
ally, Colonel Qaddafi — now we have had problems with Qaddafi but we had resolved them … [he goes on to explain the CIA funneling men and materials from Libya to Syria]…”
“Yes, and you know, that brings us to a good point: You then come to the point of the uprising itself, how was this carried out? Just prior to the uprisings, Ambassador Ford was sent to Damascus; we had not had an ambassador there for some time. He was put in place by Hillary Clinton. Around that time, of course, you have all of these covert agencies; Western agencies, plus the Saudis and the Turks. And their mechanism was the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood had created a violent uprising under the father, Hafez Assad, and it’s often portrayed some put-down of these poor people. It was not at all that: It was a violent uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood.”
You can read the transcript here:
Only thing Black omits to mention is the the desire to take out Syria is an aspiration of Israel, and given the level Zionist infiltration of US state structures, Israel’s interests are by default those of the United States. The whole sordid tale of these American machinations instigated by Israel are related here with documentation from wikileaks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-n8lHZGYc5Y
I didn’t mean to make it sound like they were useless or weak, I meant shattered as in fragmented. The Tiger forces always seem to win, and so does Hezbollah, the problem comes when they leave, and some other force is there holding territory.
I was speaking only of necessary bulk to take and hold the rest of the country, to end the war without having to create any autonomous sunnistans or anything of that nature.
I agree that Tiger forces, Hezbollah, and even the Iranian-Afghani paramilitary refugee forces seem to have improved as the war has gone on.
Is there any information regarding the composition of the FSA currently leading the Turkish incursion? After all, they must have been acceptable to the Russians and deemed politically reliable when required to fight Daesh.
Are they the remnants of the original secular opposition that were ousted by the Salafists? We know that such organizations existed in Turkey and that the Russians were trying to woo them months ago.
Russia has repeatedly stated that the only solution was a negotiated political settlement, which at first sight appeared either disingenuous or naive considering the uncompromising nature of the Wahhabists. Perhaps Russia’s position is genuine and it is exactly this secular faction of the FSA that are being addressed here.
Are these the fabled unicorns?
I don’t think the Turks are really free to abandon ISIS just like that. It’s all part and parcel of their relations with Saudi and the Gulf, which are complex.
And anyway, who is to say whether those events were really ISIS or not?
“I don’t think the Turks are really free to abandon ISIS just like that. It’s all part and parcel of their relations with Saudi and the Gulf, which are complex.”
On this we agree, it will be a subtle change as they allow R+6 and Iraq to deal with them head on. Erdogan’s long term future requires stability for domestic prosperity and the Islamic State is one neighbor in the hood that could prevent it. Now that the game has changed it is player to be removed from the table.
“And anyway, who is to say whether those events were really ISIS or not?”
I would say that IS did it to warn off Erdogan about unfavorable policy changes, though if you have another view or theory I am always willing to hear it.
Food for thought:
“The following is a translation of a scathing article on the state of the Syrian Arab Army that appeared in an online outlet Gazeta.ru, which is Kremlin-controlled but sometimes critical of the Russian authorities online. The author is a retired Russian officer with 8 years of experience working in the General Staff and 5 years as an editor of an established military magazine. The article, originally titled “It would be easier to disband the Syrian army and recruit a new one”, mirrors the emerging Syria fatigue sentiments in the Russian military circles and reportedly was confirmed by a serving Russian colonel, who added “Everything is like it’s written but worse”.
That’s a good comparison. Will it be Mozambique or will it be Spain?