“Russian choppers transport Syrian paratroopers to besieged Deir Ezzor” – TTG


"BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:50 P.M.) – On the night of January 23rd, the Russian Air Force reportedly transported dozens of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) soldiers to the Deir Ezzor Governate after the road to the military airport was close by the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS).

According to the Russian news outlet "Izvestia", Ilyushin-76 transport carriers and Mi-17 choppers made their way across the vast Syrian Desert to the Deir Ezzor Governate in order to transport a large number reinforcements from the Syrian Arab Army's 104th Airborne Brigade of the Republican Guard and 1st Armored Division.

It was necessary for the Russian Air Force to complete this transport of reinforcements because most aircraft were unable to land in the province due to the Islamic State's proximity to their landing zones.

The Syrian military's high command reportedly thanked the Russians yesterday for allowing them to use their technology in the fierce fight against the Islamic State." (Al Masdar News)



The situation is still pretty damned hairy at Deir ez-Zor, but this successful air insertion of a sizable force means things are much improved from a week ago. The original Izvestia article gives more detail of the operation. Elements of the 104th Republican Guard Airborne Brigade were first transported to the Qamishli Military Airport in northeast Syria by Russian Il-76 transports and trans-loaded onto Russian Mi-17 (Mi-8?) helicopters before the surprise night insertion into the airport at Deir ez-Zor. The size of the force was estimated to be a reinforced battalion task force.


The 104th did a similar airmobile insertion not that long ago to reinforce the defenses of the T4 after the fall of Palmyra. Another element of the 104th has been defending Deir ez-Zor since 2013. This was General Issam Zahreddine’s unit since the beginning of the war in Syria. The unit is heavily Druze, as is Zahreddine, known as the Lion of the Republican Guard. 

A night insertion into a contested LZ is obviously a difficult operation. I’m sure this is why it was done with Russian Aerospace Forces helicopters. Most of the Russian air support for the defenders of Deir ez-Zor seems to be based at Qamishli, some 180 miles away from Deir ez-Zor. The situation at Qamishli must be much improved since last year when Syrian warplanes were withdrawn due to Kurdish and American threats.

For some reason, Al Masdar News chose a photo of soldiers rappelling from a UH-1 "Huey" helicopter to accompany its article. I don't think anybody does that anymore. Now it's all fast roping from UH-60 Black Hawks. The Russian Mi-17 or Mi-8 helicopters are much larger than either of these U.S. helicopters.

This is a two year old article about Deir ez-Zor, the 104th and General Zahreddine. Despite its age, it contains a lot of good information.


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57 Responses to “Russian choppers transport Syrian paratroopers to besieged Deir Ezzor” – TTG

  1. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Good news indeed. Russian strategic air has been hammering this area for the past several days. (http://colonelcassad.livejournal.com/3205209.html#cutid1 ).
    Ishmael Zechariah

  2. James F says:

    Thanks much for returning SST. I need the analysis.

  3. Frank says:

    It seems the circumstances have changed enough that now might be a good time to go after ISIS hard. Jabhat Fatah al Sham and the moderate head choppers are destroying each other in Idlib right now. Is this infighting between American backed groups vs Turkish backed groups? Perhaps someone can provide some insight into the dynamics in Idlib right now.
    If I were Assad I would take this opportunity to capture some strategic points from ISIS. They have plenty of options: Keep pushing east of Aleppo towards Al Bab, push east from Khanasser, push towards Palmyra. It seems like right now they are doing a little of all three.

  4. mike says:

    Upgraded MI-8s if Russian, the MI-17s are export only.
    Didn’t Assad command the 104th long ago pre-2000? Or am I thinking of his father or brother?

  5. mike,
    That’s what I thought. The Mi-17 is the export version. I get the feeling Qamishli is becoming a major Russian airbase, a perfect waypoint from Russia to Syria through Iranian and Iraqi airspace.
    Both the father and the brother commanded the 104th at one time. The current Assad aspired to be an ophthalmologist rather than joining the family business.

  6. Frank,
    The R+6 is attempting to a lot given the minimal size of the forces available to them. Right now, it’s probably best to let the jihadis shoot each other for as long as they care to. Attacking them now, would reunite them.

  7. VietnamVet says:

    TTG and Colonel Lang;
    Thanks for reopening and the latest posts. You and all the contributors to SST are continuing your service to our country. You are voices of sanity in an insane battle for the truth. We need you online. To show what we are up against, the Washington Post posted the following today:
    “Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii met with President Bashar al-Assad during her secret trip to Syria last week and, now that she’s returned, is downplaying his responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. “Whatever you think about President Assad, the fact is that he is the president of Syria,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper last night. “In order for any possibility of a viable peace agreement to occur, there has to be a conversation with him.” She added that the Syrians she met with told her there are “no moderate rebels” in the country.”
    “– Journalists following the Syria story closely are stunned by what they see as her breathtaking naiveté:….”
    “Neera Tanden….
    I tweeted out that David Duke was supporting @TulsiGabbard’s pro-Assad statements, and now I have Russians tweeting similar nonsense at me.”
    She is familiar from her e-mails to John Podesta.
    Syria is also a battlefield in the war between globalists and nationalists.

  8. Ghostship says:

    Either the Russians have become world leaders in land force projection or the Battle of Deir Ez-zor is a deception operation.
    How quickly could any army establish a major FOB. The speed with which Qamishli was up and running as one with attack and transport aircraft operating out of it suggests that the R+6 knew what was going to happen and planned for it. So that makes me wonder whether it’s another trap for ISIS with the bait being the incursion that split the government-controlled area west of Deir Ez-zor. If the initial attack hadn’t achieved that breakthrough would ISIS have thrown the number of men they have into the meat grinder? Perhaps there was a reason that the Russians, Syrians and Iranians were quite calm about the assault on Deir Ez-zor.

  9. mike says:

    TTG –
    I know Bashar originally wanted to go into medicine. But after his brother died he returned to the family business a la Michael Corleone. I am sure you are correct that Bashar never commanded the 104th. But looking him up on wiki, I note he did for a time in the late 90s command the entire Republican Guard, which was the senior command to the 104th, 105th, and 106th. He was undoubtedly just a figurehead, a move designed to give him creds & authenticity with the SAA.

  10. aleksandar says:

    Hum, so far, result of this so-called infighting is …….2 deads.
    Surprising isn’it ?.

  11. aleksandar says:

    He was indeed and even a good ophthalmic surgeon in London.
    He only came back in Syria due to the dead of his brother, Bassel in 1994.

  12. aleksandar says:

    Resistance of the ” Mad Druze ” and his soldiers will, maybe , be teached in Infantry school. A lot to understand about urban warfare, especialyy about land use and manpower management.

  13. Ghostship,
    To establish this kind of FOB and working airbase can be done overnight, especially with an existing major airfield like the one at Qamishli. We can do it, Russia can do it and I’m sure many others can also do it.

  14. mike says:

    TTG & Ghostship –
    The Russians had surveyors in Qamishlo in January 2016. Presumably they have been building it up ever since.
    There are also reports out there that the US has a small airbase in Rimelan, 40+ miles east of Qamishlo, primarily for helo and UAV ops.

  15. BraveNewWorld says:

    Putting some man power into Deir Ezzor right now makes sense due to the cease fire. If they can get them in push back the trash and then pull them back out before the cease fire collapses again that will be optimal.

  16. Ghostship says:

    VietnamVet – I know you’re only quoting the Washington Post but I feel this is important.
    “is downplaying his responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians”
    When will the mainstream media stop spewing this garbage particularly the Washington “Fake News” Post? There have not been hundreds of thousands of dead civilians in Syria. According to the SOHR’s latest figures, there have’t even been a hundred thousand dead civilians.
    On December 13, 2016, the SOHR (funded by MI6 and the Qatar government) was reporting that the total civilian dead numbered 90,506 of which 15948 were children and 10540 were females over the age of 18. The SOHR figures have been criticized for reporting dead rebels as civilians and experience elsewhere in Syria suggests that figure for dead male civilians really runs at about twice the figure for dead females so the SOHR figures suggest that in addition to the dead children and females over 18, about there are about 21,000 dead males over 18. This gives a figure of less than 50,000 dead civilians.
    The vast majority of the dead are fighters of one side or another.
    As for Tulsi Gabbard, she is not the one afflicted with “breathtaking naiveté”, it is the so-called journalists like Anne Barnard (NYT) and Liz Sly (WaPo) who just repeat the propaganda from the terrorists’ media operations. That is the real fake news.

  17. FourthAndLong says:

    Agree 200%.
    The head-choppers are so preternaturally insane and vicious that it is useless to consider them to be “Turkish controlled”, or “American controlled” or controlled by anyone or anything. Searching for or applying such labels is to miss the central issue of what they are — an incestuous breed of incurably evil raving mad dogs.
    As in “… to be shot down in the street, like mad dogs.” I don’t mean to judge them, there are situations which turn nearly anyone to such extremes of nihilistic violence. But they have become what they are and need to be recognized as such, not as something else.

  18. robt willmann says:

    The latest twist, made as an affirmative statement, is that “safe zones” are to be established in Syria: ” `I’ll absolutely do safe zones in Syria,’ Trump told ABC’s David Muir Wednesday.”
    This resulted in a qualified statement: ” `I will tell you right now, what you’re asking about is based on things that are draft and pre-decisional and we’re just not going to be able to comment on pre-decisional things that may or not reflect what ultimately comes out,’ spokesman Jeff Davis said in today’s (26 January) Pentagon briefing.”–

  19. robt willmann,
    I am sure we all agree that “safe zones” in Syria is a stupid, stupid idea that only an R2P Neocon bitter ender could embrace. I suggest we all wait until after the Friday meeting at the Pentagon to hyperventilate about this. The DoD has always hated the idea of no fly zones or safe zones and has never been shy about voicing those concerns. SecDef Mattis is sure to present a strong case on the stupidity of safe zones. This may be just another one of those pronouncements that fall by the wayside.

  20. Peter in Toronto says:

    Spot on. That is my assessment as well.
    Half a million civilian deaths is not even remotely plausible. Someone in the alternative press or blogosphere needs to jump on this piece of propaganda, like that barrel bomb catchphrase contrived for the Western audiences, to imply some sort of deviant way of murdering people, rather than a crude, improvised explosive device used by a developing nation with an economy crippled by a proxy war…
    Absolutely vile.
    The quality of reporting on Syria by the mainstream has been nothing short of appalling. And quite frankly, “fake news” is a concise and simple way of describing.

  21. FB Ali says:

    “Perhaps someone can provide some insight into the dynamics in Idlib right now”.
    Moon of Alabama does at http://tinyurl.com/jboxasr

  22. mike says:

    Definitely a stupid idea. Bad when HRC brought it up and bad now. But I guess some people think IOKIYAT.
    The Russians don’t like it. The Turks used to be for it but not now, guess Erdogan had his head shaped.
    We cannot even protect our allies the Syrian Kurds from attacks and bombings by our other allies the Turks. How do we propose to protect refugees? Besides, aren’t most of those refugees already in UN camps in Turkey, Iraq, and southeastern Europe?

  23. Peter AU says:

    Safe zones for Syrians, or safe zones for Jihadists/Islamists?
    Previous talk of safe zones have been for the latter.
    Trump does not specify who the safe zones are for. Ambiguous.

  24. ToivoS says:

    The western press is always exaggerating the death figures if it fits their propaganda purposes. They reported numbers for the conflict in Darfur and the Bosnian civil war 3 to 5 times higher than the accepted post war estimates.

  25. Lyttenburgh says:

    Parts of the Tyrant look like shameless propaganda. I’ve stopped watching mid 3rd season.
    P.S. Three guesses in what ME country did the FOX film the series.

  26. ” So that makes me wonder whether it’s another trap for ISIS with the bait being the incursion that split the government-controlled area west of Deir Ez-zor.”
    Yes, I had been wondering too whether it was similar to what happened several times in the Ukraine and have been scanning the Syrian reports in SST to see whether the experts had picked up any indication of that. Seems not, and the circumstances in the Ukraine were in any case so very different. Except that in both cases, one would imagine, the defendants would just as soon not have had to cope with such incursions could they have avoided them.
    The striking parallel between the two cases lies, I think, in the treatment of enemy combatants who had found themselves somehow drawn in to the conflict. The Ukrainian rebels made a big thing of treating such combatants with kid gloves, distinguishing between them and the ideologically driven Right Sector and similar combatants. I don’t think this was just PR, or not all PR, and certainly in the Syrian case generally the non-Jihadi enemy combatants also seem to be getting the hearts and minds treatment. There seem to be a large number of local negotiations going on with the Russians beavering away at damping down the conflict rather than just winning it. Assad has also consistently followed this soft line in his public statements, though it has appeared sometimes that his Air Force Intelligence Directorate isn’t that committed to it. Perhaps the soft approach is paying off here, if the reports of local tribes around Deir Ezzor taking independent action against the Jihadis are true.
    Not a deliberate cauldron anyway, though I don’t suppose there’d be many objections if it turned into one.
    Sorry about all the “seems” in this reply to you. The fact is that as an outside observer I’m feeling uncertain of my facts at present. The most reliable official source has departed the scene. I never really used to believe anything I read about what was going on in Syria, not for certain, until I had heard Mr Kirby attempting to explain it away.

  27. Matthew says:

    TTG: Might Trump not also consider a “safe zone” something to discuss with the Russians? Aleppo is now a “safe zone” after the Jihadis were ejected.

  28. turcopolier says:

    The jihadis/unicorns want the us to establish “safe zones” so that they can be protected by the US within them so that they can recover their strength and continue their struggle to eliminate multi-confessional secular government in Syria. pl

  29. Matthew and Peter AU,
    Trump spoke of safe zones for Syrian refugees in Syria and surrounding countries protected by American force. The only ones cheering for this are the jihadists. It is pure R2P talk. Don’t try to sugarcoat it. My hope is that SecDef Mattis and Putin both convince Trump that this is a stupid idea when they speak with him in the next day or two.

  30. Wunduk says:

    Safe Zones:
    Syrians decided themselves where safe zones are. December evacuation showed that from the 116,000 civilians in East Aleppo, only 36,000 wanted to go to Idlib. 80,000 stayed in Aleppo. Only 14,000 of the 36,000 applied for assistance at the UN-coordinated aid distribution centers in rural Aleppo and Idlib. The 35,000 was an estimate – there was no name list. The UN had a 24 hr presence at the last Gvt-held checkpoint, but counted mainly vehicles and took down reported figures of the number of travellers. When calculating for myself the numbers of people per vehicle, I arrive also at less than 20,000, but that’s just my assumptions of six people per private vehicle (1262), ten per ambulance (61) and 40 per bus (294). No types were given by the counters of the buses.
    Some Idlib/Rif Halab-bound evacuees seem to have gone on to Turkey, but this can only have been small numbers as I did not see anything of an arrival of 20,000 Syrians in Turkey. Turkey refugee figures communicated to UNHCR and WFP remained flat. Maybe some readers on this forum can correct me. So in my mind there is still an unsettled discrepancy between those 36,000 who reportedly went out of East Aleppo, the capacity of the counted vehicles, and the later aid distribution figures. Therefore I think that the figure of 36,000 might be on the high end, and we might be dealing with maybe only half of that figure.
    For the 80,000 who went to the Government area, there are name lists (beneficiary list run by Syrian Arab Red Crescent), it’s actually slightly higher than 80,000. Maybe some people snug back and joined in the queues in Government-held areas.
    From this sample of East Aleppo Syrians, which cannot be said to have been too fond of the Government, one can conclude that when given the choice, still the vote by foot is more than 70% in favour of the Government-provided safe zones – if we do not let in my doubts over the total number of those headed for the Idlib/Rif Halab area. Then it might have been an 80% choice.
    Mike: Most refugees are not in camps. See: http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php

  31. Annem says:

    Tyrant: First season was filmed in Israel, second and third in Turkey and Morocco.

  32. Annem says:

    Turkey: Syrians crossing into Hatay, Turkey from Idlib province without adding to refugee numbers at UNHCR isn’t really a mystery. Erdogan had a plan that fighters who left Aleppo to Idlib and some of those who were there already could potentially be bused across the border with their families and then the fighters, at least, would be reinserted into Syria through the Kilis area to fight along side the troops Turkey already supports over there. What remains uncertain: How many, if any, jihadis now in Idlib would be interested in the offer and how this would be received within the Russian agreement and Astana process. The Turks may or may not have abandoned this scheme.

  33. Peter AU says:

    Trump has seemed fairly consistent in the past about destroying ISIS, no regime change and better relations with Russia. Until he proves different, this needs to be reconciled to the safe zones. Trump is an unknown quantity so I guess I will stay optimistic until I see his actions rather than become pessimistic because of MSM opinion/reports.

  34. Sylvia Demarest says:

    I want to direct everyone’s attention to a disturbing article on DEBKA–supposedly the “voice of Israeli intelligence”. It proposes carving up Syria in to “safe zones”–1 along the Israeli/Lebanese border, one along the Iraqi border–controlled by the US—one along the coast controlled by Russia–and one along the Turkish border controlled by Turkey. If any of this proves to be true it answers the question of how much influence Israel will have in a Trump Administration—maximum influence. So much for ending the US as an “occupying power” or putting the interests of the US first. This is very “Yinon Plan” creating “weak statelets”, very damaging to the territorial integrity of Syria, a continuation of the plan to end the so called “Shia crescent” as a way to weaken Iran. This would mean US boots on the ground in Syria, lots of boots, and putting the US front and center in an effort to exclude Iran and Hezbollah from Syria. http://www.debka.com/article/25900/Trump-Putin-safe-zones-deal-ousts-Iran-from-Syria Trump hasn’t issued his executive order yet–does anyone believe this is remotely possible???

  35. aleksandar says:

    I agree, the way ” caciques ” from the Baath party sabotaged all from Bashar’s reforms at the begining tells volume.

  36. Sylvia Demarest says:

    I didn’t explain the DEBKA article very well. It claims to be an exclusive report of a deal struck between the US and Russia to establish “safe zones” in Syria.
    “This scheme will transfer military control of the country to those three powers. Each of them will be responsible for a zone whose borders will be defined and agreed upon by Washington, Moscow and Ankara.”
    “As part of this arrangement, all forces from the Iranian military, the pro-Iranian Shiite militias and Hizballah will be required to leave Syria.”

  37. Peter AU,
    I get the feeling Trump’s son-in-law put this idiot “safe zone” idea into Trump’s head. The only people pushing this besides the Neocon R2Pers are the Likkudniks. Who else would push this along with continued animosity against Iran and kid-glove treatment of the Saudis and Qataris? I have faith in Mattis to slap that idea down.

  38. Sylvia Demarest,
    I’d take anything pushed by DEBKA with a grain of salt, maybe even a whole salt lick block. This sounds more like a Israeli government dream than a real story.

  39. turcopolier says:

    Sylvia Demarest
    DEBKA is Israeli BS. You think the SAA, Hizbullah and Iran will submit to this? Why would they? pl

  40. mike says:

    Wunduk –
    Thanks for the link.
    As far as refugee camps go, that link fails to mention that many of the 4.8 million were in camps at one time but have now moved on. There are reports that in Turkey, Erdogan has moved Syrian Turkmen out of the camps and into Kurdish areas in southeast Turkey. Sometimes into housing where the Kurdish inhabitants have been chased out by the Turkish Army or by the Gray Wolves.
    Also, regarding the 4.8 million figure cited on that link it appears only to be for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt and Libya. What is missing are the many Syrian refugees in Greece, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslavia; plus the hundreds of thousands that made it up to western Europe. It also does not count the displaced refugees still in Syria. So it seems that yes, Syrians are voting with their feet.
    In any case, safe zones are a terrible idea in the current situation. They cannot be enforced with airpower alone. Boots on the ground would be needed. Not gonna happen with American boots is my bet. And I do not believe anyone else is interested.

  41. mike says:

    Sylvia Demarest –
    I concur with TTG and our host. This is a marijuana dream.
    The worst part mentioned is the: “one along the Turkish border controlled by Turkey”. That would be just the opposite of a safe zone. Erdogan would turn it into a kill zone for the Kurds in that area.

  42. Willybilly says:

    DEBKA is pure bunk. It’s two guys sitting in Jerusalem inventing stories everyday in order to get eyeballs and make some money…

  43. mike says:

    TTG –
    Looks like DEZ is getting resupplied:
    I’ve seen similar reports on Sputnik where they are dropping in food as well as fuel and ammo,

  44. mike says:

    James –
    Sputnik? or DEZ24?

  45. Peter AU says:

    mike, james
    I believe there was only one or two days when no supplies whatsoever got in. First re-supplies after ISIS drove the wedge between airport and city, I believe where to the military areas out of the city rather than the airport. Both pro ISIS and pro gov sides have been confirming.
    (I have noticed DeirEzzor24 always report civilian deaths from Syrian and Russian bombing, and SAA casualties, but not ISIS casualties so much)

  46. Wunduk says:

    On your question regarding those Syrians in Europe, the site gives 884,000 asylum applications as a good ballpark figure for those in Europe (this includes Serbia and other former Yugoslav states).
    The question in my mind – and also touched upon by Annem in the answer above – is whether as many Syrian refugees as claimed ever were in the camps in Turkey. Turkey never allowed the UN to run the camps, insisting from 2011 onwards on themselves being in control. Remember that Turkey did sign the refugee convention only with caveats defining refgee according to national legislation (only Europeans can be refugees). From 2012 onwards a significant discrepancy started to develop between figures gathered during spot visits / distributions and the claimed camp population. In 2013 this was already a 50% gap.
    Annem above states that this might be due to the fact that fighters left back for Syria and left families in the camps. I think this is possible to explain the long-term discrepancies.
    However, the majority (92% in 2015) of the refugees arriving in Greece 2015 and 2016 claimed never to have been in any camp. While this might be an attempt to obfuscate their identity and not be sent back to Turkey, I wonder whether new arrivals, such as those coming out of Aleppo now, would even be allowed into the camps at this point.
    What areas are you referring to as cleared “ready to move in” by the Army and/or Grey Wolves in SE Turkey? Many of the cities like Diyarbakir are pretty much reduced to rubble only.

  47. Ghostship says:

    Wunduk, Matthew et al.
    I believe the majority of the internally displaced persons in Syria have moved into government-controlled areas. Perhaps the Pentagon should declare the government-controlled areas of Syria as safe zones and plan to act accordingly.

  48. Barish says:

    Semi-related: there appears to be a new ingredient to the alphabet-soup that is brigades, movements and op-rooms of the “revolution” in Syria:
    “Hayat Tahrir Ash-Sham”, “Body of Liberation of the Levant”, made up of – shown at the bottom, from upper right to lower left – Jabhat Fatah ash-Sham(/Nusra), Harakat Nur ad-Din az-Zinki, Liwa al-Haq, Jabhat Ansar ad-Din and Jaish as-Sunna. Also happens to be led by one Abo Jaber al-Shaykh, former head of Ahrar ash-Sham.
    What to make of this? Mere re-labelling exercise as was seen a myriad of times before, or banding together for Fitnah in Idlib getting serious?

  49. mike says:

    Wunduk –
    I did not say “ready to move in”. But from what I have read, Syrian Turkmen are being moved into Kurdish areas throughout the southeast and including into the rubble of Diyarbakar, Cizre, Silopi, & Nusaybin.
    Admittedly that is from Kurdish websites and twitter accounts which may be biased. But then what information on the web is free of bias. I take everything on the internet with a grain of salt. And what are the alternatives as Erdogan has shut down the Turkish press and has been arresting journalists.

  50. Donald says:

    I just skimmed the thread and don’t think anyone has linked this yet. It is a very interesting piece by Patrick Cockburn on the misreporting of Aleppo and comparing Aleppo and Mosul.

  51. mike says:

    Donald –
    An even better article by Cockburn is the one he put out yesterday re: Erdogan and Theresa May.
    But even here he fails to mention that any British arms sold to Erdogan will be used to murder Kurds.
    Cockburn should write an article comparing the misreporting of Aleppo to the total non-reporting of the Kurdish cities of southeast Turkey that have been destroyed by the Turkish Army.

  52. charly says:

    Around 50% of people are women so a difference of 50% is to much for that explanation.

  53. Croesus says:

    Not so much “inventing” as elaborating on what appears to have been in the wind in Israel.
    Israel Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, with Aaron David Miller,
    March 2016, Wilson Center
    @ 41 min:
    “If I have to think about any kind of [inaudible] situation in Syria as well as in Iraq, we have the two Kurdish sectors in Iraq and Syria.
    The only way that we can live is to have a kind of federation. There is no other way to unify Syria.
    Also, I’m talking about strategy to unify Syria through Bashar Al Assad or someone else, leading Syria. No chance! Wishful thinking!
    And to talk about a kind of federation, we have already constrained [inaudible] Bashar Al Assad — he controls today only 30% of his former territory. That’s it.
    We have seen a Kurdistan already: we know the turks are not happy with it but in the end, there is a Kurdish autonomy in Syria, there is a Kurdish autonomy in Iraq. We might think about a Kurdistan in Syria; they might cooperate with the regime as they do now. The problem is when it comes to the Sunnis, we have DAESH, Jabat al Nusra, Al Qaeda followers, Muslim Brotherhood elements. [inaudible]
    So first of all, let’s find a way to have a kind of federation or whatever, let’s also agree to have this kind of federation and then fighting the other or whatever. The problem is that there are so many contradictory interests regarding the situation in Syria.
    As an example, there are those who support Bashar Al Assad’s regime, like Iran, Hezbollah, Russia — today, with its intervention in Syria. And even western parties first of all believing Iran should be a central part of the settlement or the solution as I mentioned earlier.
    So —the Kurds demonstrated their capabilities to fight DAESH, when they were supported. Why not support other moderates in Syria, like Sunni moderates, to fight for their cause?
    Most of them were ignored. Western parties decided to sit on the fence and the Kurds in Syria were defeated by DAESH [inaudible] to the point that it started to get support. And then you have to settle this contradictory interest with Turkey. Saudi Arabia its own interest.
    Yet there is a need for different grand strategy regarding Syria.
    But the idea to unify Syria back, to become as it was in the past is wishful thinking.”

  54. Thirdeye says:

    It’s been that way since the Soviet famine of the 1930s.

  55. Thirdeye says:

    Deir Ezzor is looking more and more like a monkey trap for ISIS, tied down trying to hold onto their gains at the cemetary while their supplies and reinforcements are getting the bejeebus bombed out of them. Everything they’re throwing at the Deir Ezzzor grinder is unavailable to stop the SAA advancing in the Al Bab – Deir Hafer area, the T4-Palmyra front, and now the Qalamoun Mountains.

  56. Thomas says:

    Thought you might appreciate this write up on the reinforcement operation at Dier Ezzor published today.
    “…The situation became critical for the defenders of Deir ez-Zor and Russian aircraft operating from the Hmeymim base executed 80–100 missions a day to stop the Islamic State attacks.Even so, the Syrian army headquarters decided it was necessary to supplement the military contingent fighting in the Deir ez-Zor encirclement. It was not possible to land Syrian transport planes at the Deir ez-Zor airport, as they would be vulnerable to MANPADS (Man-portable air-defense system)and to machine-gun fire from the terrorists, especially during take-off and landing, and while taxiing.Therefore it was decided to send only soldiers, without arms and munitions, by transport helicopters.
    The first group of Syrian soldiers was delivered on January 23 to Qamishli in Hasakeh governorate (in northeastern Syria), using four Il-76 military aircraft. Qamishli Airport, with its runway of 3,615 x 46m and its aerial navigation protection systems, is guarded by members of Regiment 154 of the Syrian army. One risk factor was the fact that Hasakeh governorate is controlled almost entirely by the armed wing of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (YPG), supervised by US military instructors. Qamishli Airport is 50 km northwest of Rmelan, where three security platoons (100 men) of the US 101st Airborne were deployed on January 19, 2016. The US military has set up a 700m-long runway and a platform that is occasionally used by several MH-60 helicopters and MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft. These US aircraft are used in the fight against IS in Syria’s Raqaa governorate and in the siege against Mosul in Iraq.
    On the night of 23/24 January, at Qamishli Airport, the Syrian military group was transferred aboard 20 Russian-made Syrian Mi-8/17 helicopters.TwootherMi-8/17 helicopters were held in reserve and took off after the first 20 to execute search and rescue missions, if necessary.Many of the helicopters had experienced Russian crews. The helicopters took off four or five at a time, in formation, and maintained a distance of 4 km between formations.Flying over territory occupied by the Islamic State, their flight path bypassed all locations under terrorist control. The 250km flight path included several changes of direction to avoid giving away what was the final destination. En route Qamishli–Deir ez-Zor, none of the helicopters used its position lights and they did not descend below the altitude of 2,500 m.The formations of Mi-8/17 helicopters were tracked by Russian military air traffic controllers and were displayed on the Syrian army’s radar screens.It is assumed that an Il-20M1 ELINT may also have been flying in the airspace over eastern Syria, monitoring these formations and other aircraft in the area. TheIlyushin-20M1 is equipped with Kvalat-2 radar, which can spot aircraft and land vehicles up to a distance of 300 km.Since the Mi-8/17 helicopters’ flight path was intersected by the bombing routes used by the anti-Islamic State terrorist coalition led by the US, twoRussianSu-35 fighters gave them air cover.
    One of defensive measures used to secure the landing area was, again, the Russian Su-25 close air support jet. Located in the service area above Deir ez-Zor, their primary mission was to strike Islamic State terrorists approaching the landing zone.In the event that one of theMi-8 transport helicopters was shot down or damaged,the mission of the Russian bombers was to provide air cover to the two reserve helicopters that would conduct the search and rescue operation.Other support missions over the Deir ez-Zor air base were executed by Russian reconnaissance drones.They monitored the landing procedure of all the helicopters from a high altitude.Through images transmitted in real time, the mission coordinator at the headquarters of the Hmeymim air base had a complete picture, and so was ready to intervene in case of any special situation.
    The Mi-8/17 helicopters made a steep descent from 2,500 m, flying in close circles above Deir ez-Zor airbase, covered by Syrian soldiers. The helicopter crews had night vision equipment and the Deir ez-Zor air base had Russian laser equipment.They marked rectangles to indicate the landing sites for the Russian helicopters.The laser beam was invisible to the IS terrorists but was visible from the air, using the crews’ night vision equipment on the Mi-8/17 helicopters.The helicopters were on the ground for 30–50 seconds to land the ground troops.
    The detachment that was thus transported by the Mi-8/17 helicopters was made up of about 500 Syrian soldiers, in other words a tank battalion from Brigade153 / Division 1 Tanks (minus their tanks) and two companies of special ops forces (minus weapons and ammunition). The defense formation at Deir ez-Zor comprises 4,000 to 5,000 soldiers.They belong to the T137 Mechanized Brigade (BMP-1 IFV, T-72, T-55 tanks, and the ZSU-23-4 Shilka — a lightly armored self-propelled weapons system), the 104 Airborne Brigade, 121 Artillery Regiment (M-46 Field Gun, D-30 howitzers, BM-21 Grad MRLS-multiple rocket launchers) and reservists from the national defense forces.
    Those defending Deir ez-Zor had the advantage of large stocks of arms and ammunition. Deir ez-Zor was the headquarters of the 17 Mechanized Division that was just formed for this war and was meant to defend northeastern Syria. The 93 Tank Brigade (100 T-55 tanks and 40 BMP-1 IFV) and Special Operations Forces Brigade 154 had battle equipment stored in depots in Deir ez-Zor but not the men to use it.”

  57. mike says:

    UN resumes aid deliveries to Deir ez-Zor after two-week pause:

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