Syrian Update – TTG


Shortly after announcing their de-escalation zone plan, the R+6 began their wide offensive to the east. It’s time for a review of operations and possible plans for future operations. We’ll begin with the a cogent and concise comment made on 27 June by alexandar. 


Securing the Salamiyah-Resafa road is very important as it will reduce the Tiger Forces supply line from 225 km to 65 km. In case the Tiger Force goes on the offensive toward the Euphrates River, having a shorter supply line is necessary. That's IMO the only COA possible for the Tiger Force. All roads south of Rusafa are mountainous, with few to no possibility to bypass and take IS blocking forces by the rear. Akin of operations zones in Lebanon or Afghanistan where a single platoon can stop a brigade days after days and delay his move forward. It will be a long and deadly COA through these mountains.

A three axis move :

– North : Tiger Forces up to Euphrates River to cut Raqqa-Deir Ezzor road.

– Center : 5th Corps to fix as much as possible IS forces to defend Al Suknah.

– South : 5th Corps+Hezbollah + Hashd Al-Sha’abi + Liwaa Fatemiyoun conquer T2 and then Al Bukamal to cut the IS supply line from Iraq

IS will have to fight on three different fronts at the same time with no tactical priority, each of these three offensives being able to end the Deir Ezzor siege. 

Well, unless TRUMP begins WW3 following a new false chemical attack.


It’s hard to argue with alexandar’s logic and reading of the military situation. I especially appreciate his analysis of the terrain between Rusafa and Deir Ezzor. The Tiger Forces are currently clearing the Salamiyah-Resafa road. They are now 15 to 17 km from doing so. A question remains whether they will close the gap and encircle the IS forces north of the road or allow them to evacuate that area before becoming encircled. Once that is done, the Tiger Forces will turn back to the east with the goal of interdicting the IS forces that are bound to leave Raqqa enroute to Deir Ezzor. I believe that COA would be more effective in relieving pressure on the defenders of Deir Ezzor than attempting the difficult route south to Deir Ezzor. 

The IS salient south of the Salamiyah-Resafa road and east of Homs is now being addressed by another SAA offensive spearheaded by the newly reequipped and retrained Desert Hawks. A video of the Hawks arrival in the area just east of Salamiyah show a large number of T-90 main battle tanks and BMP-1s on tank transporters. There are also plenty of technicals including Toyota Land Cruisers and 6×6 trucks mounted with ZSU-23-2 guns. Accompanying the Hawks are the Military Shield Forces and National Defense Forces (NDF) in this developing offensive. This large offensive will force the IS to either remain/reinforce their positions in this area or pull back towards Deir Ezzor and cede close to a hundred IS-held villages that span across eastern Hama and eastern Homs. to the advancing SAA forces. Either option benefits the SAA more than IS.

On the Palmyra front, the 5th Legion and the 18th Tank Division continue their push towards Al Suknah. Progress is steady, but slow. IS forces have been fortifying positions along this most likely axis to Deir Ezzor for well over a year. The pressure will continue, but I, along with a few other armchair observers, no longer see this as the most likely axis for the eventual relief of Deir Ezzor. Nor do I see the drive to Al Bukamal and north along the Euphrates as the most likely axis. That run along the Syrian-Iraqi border to Al Bukamal will continue, but the populated area along the Euphrates is also strongly held by IS forces. It will not be an easy drive along the river.


I believe the most likely route for the relief of Deir Ezzor is northeast across the flat desert from the Humaymah-T3 area directly towards the hills overlooking the airport at Deir Ezzor. The R+6 seems to be reinforcing the success in this area with highly mobile mixed forces fully capable of taking advantage of the open terrain and lack of fortified IS positions. This video of the SAA taking of the Zenobia Desert Camp offers a superb glimpse of the make up of the SAA and allied forces engaged in battle in this area and the nature of the battle itself.


In addition to the broad offensive to the east, the R+6 is engaged with the jihadists formerly known as Al Qaeda at Quneitra near the Golan Heights. Here the jihadists launched a three pronged offensive to take Baath City a few days ago. HTS and the FSA established a new “operation room” and announced the start of operation “Road to Damascus” on 24 June. The jihadists in this area have received substantial logistical and medical support from the Israelis. Over the last few days, they have also also received Israeli tactical air support from IAF F-16s and armed drones. These air attacks were aimed largely against the SAA artillery positions in the area. I’m sure the IDF is also represented in the “operation room” established to support this jihadi offensive. After some initial success, the jihadists were beaten back by the SAA allied Golan Regiment and  Quneitra Hawks militias. Fighting is continuing at this front.

Throughout Syria, the forces allied with Damascus are doing well. The Russian program to reorganize and modernize the SAA and Air Force is bearing fruit. Iran and Hezbollah are playing a substantial role in this success. But the war is far from over. To the north, Turkey is still longing to establish a substantial presence in Aleppo and is making noises towards Afrin. I believe this threat is being addressed behind the scenes by Putin and Lavrov. They have substantial carrot and stick leverage against Erdogan. I don’t think they are hesitant to use either one. The Coalition will continue to use the Kurds in an attempt to partition Syria. I am also convinced that Putin and Lavrov are working behind the scenes to convince the Rojava Kurds to pursue a more reasonable road within a united Syria. What these two are saying to the Israelis and Saudis is also of great interest to me. All in all, I feel what’s going on behind the diplomatic scenes is as important as what’s happening on the battlefield to the future of Syria.      

Aleksandar, my apologies for taking the liberty of making minor changes to your original comment. I trust I have not changed any of the points you made. Your command of the English language is “not so bad.”


This entry was posted in Borg Wars, Middle East, Russia, Syria, TTG. Bookmark the permalink.

72 Responses to Syrian Update – TTG

  1. Bill Herschel says:

    Enormously informative. Thanks.
    I used to say when Bush invaded Iraq to look for WMD, that the U.S. had entered the Iran-Iraq war on the side of Iran. Is it true to any extent to say that ISIS is the Sunni Iraqi Army blowing back? Who are these guys? Lots of them I guess are either Chechian or crypto-Chechian who certainly have Russia in their sights. Whoever they are, they’re not pushovers it would appear.

  2. Fred says:

    “What these two are saying to the Israelis and Saudis is also of great interest to me.”
    What the Israelis and Saudis tell us the Russians are saying would be interesting to know too. Sadly the “cat’s out of the bag” as far as our ability to read Russian message traffic thanks to ant-Trump leakers and the press.

  3. Red Cloud says:

    What is the Israeli motive behind all of these recent airstrikes? They expose themselves a little more each time they reach out and help Al-Qaeda, so I presume they wouldn’t be doing this without some specific goal.
    Is taking Baath City really that significant? IMO it would only delay the inevitable. These airstikes are nowhere near enough to propel their head choppers all the way to Damascus. It seems like a rather minor distraction to the R+6, at great cost to the zionists.

  4. Babak Makkinejad says:

    When Saddam Hussein was executed, there were people distributing sweets on the streets of Iranian cities.

  5. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Russia’s Answer:
    The testing on 06/27/2017 from a submarine an ICBM with the capability to carry 10 nuclear warheads of 100 kilotons each; next followed by the statement of Vladimir Putin on 06/28/2017:
    “Only advanced powerful mobile armed forces are capable of securing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country and protecting us and our allies from any potential aggressor, as well as from pressure and intimidation by those who do not like the independent sovereign Russia.”
    David Habakkuk, are you paying attention?

  6. b says:

    Unofficial news says that U.S. is moving its proxy forces out of the al-Tanf area into north-east Syria. Al-Tanf will obviously be given up. It no longer serves any U.S. purpose. The plans to occupy south-east Syria are for now buried. Commercial traffic between Damascus and Baghdad can resume.

  7. b,
    I’ve seen that, too. Also seen mention of airlifting the al-Tanf jihadis to Shadaddi. Supposed to be part of some agreement between Washington and Damascus. That last part I have no faith in. I wonder how many of them the US is talking about taking or how many would be willing to go?

  8. sid_finster says:…/ex-weapons-inspec…/
    Scott Ritter…boy howdy did he ever catch holy hell for refusing to go along with the Establishment Narrative on WMD in Iraq. Every neocon, every establishment shill and apologist called him a traitor or worse, and he was essentially blacklisted for being right.
    Well, Scott Ritter is back, and he’s at it again!

  9. JerseyJeffersonian says:

    Something is amiss with the web address that you posted. Here’s the one that worked for me:
    And my God, does Mr. Ritter deliver on this one. I am going to spread this article around immediately.

  10. All,
    Appears the YPG/SDF have surrounded Raqqa from the south. If true, that’s good news for the R+6. The IS jihadis will have to DIP.

  11. Peter AU says:

    For months now, ISIS have been leaving positions they have had time to fortify to go and attack Deir Ezzor, which has been operating like a very efficient bug zapper.
    Any chance will be left to operate as such until much of the desert has been cleaned up?

  12. b says:

    I also have my doubts about an “agreement” – sounds like the invented “deconfliction zone”.
    I am not sure how many of those fighters are under some “tribal authority” – i.e. were delegated by their family for a certain local purpose. Those are unlikely to go. Those who are just mercenaries may do it for the money. I doubt though that the Kurds will be very welcoming to them but they probably can use them as cannon fodder in this or that fight.

  13. ISL says:

    TTG thanks for the analysis,
    There was a report that Russia shot down a number of US drones over the med (from Israelis news – uncertain quality), while radar painting of US airplanes has had the US back off attempting to fly air cover for ISIS. The timing could not be better for the R+6.
    It baffles me what the long term US strategy is to pick the Kurds over Turkey – it is painfully obvious its one or the other, and Russia has the carrots to ensure the US choice will be a major strategic mistake. Given the strategic US decisions since the Turkish coup – the coup against Erdogan seems consistent with US policy of using the Kurds to destabilize Syria.
    made a choice between Turkey and the Kurds agree the diplomatic pressure on Turkey is key, but of course if it was not for the changes on the battlefield the diplomatic dynamic would be very different.

  14. confusedponderer says:

    well, Saddam Hussein has not exactly shown himself as a friend of iran. The sweets thing could be explained by that. The losses of the iran-iraqi wars were severe and did hurt iran a lot. Stuff like that is hard to forget.
    Speaking of memory, I have a curious little story on this:
    I remember that, back in the day, my dad was in the university hospital in Aachen after a heart attack. I visited him a lot and when he was sleeping or being treated I roamed around in the huge hospital, a new world to me, rather than just sitting and waiting on a seat in the floor.
    Notably, there was a section in the hospital with SMG armed police standing at the entrance, leaving only staff through. That was curious. I was young then and quite curious so I straight asked the cops what the hell they were doing there and got a straight answer. They told me that they were guarding the treating of iranian casualties of the iran-iraq war and that I ought to go away.

  15. sid_finster says:

    Sorry about that.
    Oddly enough I am having the same problem when posting this link to FB.
    Go figure.

  16. sid_finster says:

    And yes, Mr. Ritter delivers.

  17. turcopolier says:

    I don’t think Scott Ritter has anything useful to contribute to the present discussion. pl

  18. Gene O says:


  19. turcopolier says:

    Great job. It really looks to me from a map look-see that the ground from the T-3 area is a lot more difficult than would be an advance to the finished road north of albukamal and thence to Deir al-Zor. pl

  20. turcopolier says:

    Red Cloud
    You have not been paying attention. The Izzies want to destroy the Syrian government. To that end they are backing various jihadi groups. they are now desperate because the “opposition” is losing its ass to the R+6. They can only rely on Bibi’s agent in the WH for so much. In my long experience of the Izzies as chisel of liaison with IDF intelligence I found that they are remarkably short sighted. Get it? pl

  21. Walker says:

    Could have been civilian casualties.

  22. Peter AU,
    I am reminded of the final line in a Jerry Clower story, “A Coon Hunting Story.” John was stuck up in a tree in a fight for his life with a cougar which Jerry described as a souped up bobcat. Both the cat and John were screaming bloody murder. John begged those on the ground to shoot. They responded that they were afraid they would hit John. John replied, “Just shoot in here amongst us, cause one of gots to have some relief.”
    I would not want to be the poor SOB who’s job it was to tell General Issam Zahreddine that we’re going to hold off on relieving Deir Ezzor so he can kill off some more jihadis.

  23. Gene O, yes. It was also generally assumed to be the mission of a common retrograde operation… DLIC (detachment left in contact).

  24. Gene O says:

    There are tertiary roads to Mayadin from T2, which is close to Humayma. From Mayadin they have good roads (route 4 and a parallel) to Deir ez-Zor city, which is 44 klicks NE.
    Mayadin lately has been speculated to be the new Daesh capital. From WaPo two days ago:
    “The Islamic State is believed to have moved most of its leadership to Mayadin in Syria’s Euphrates Valley southeast of Raqqa, the group’s besieged de facto capital, according to U.S. intelligence officials.”
    Or at least the place where senior Daeshis are fleeing to with their families. The Iranians probably believe it also as they targeted Mayadin on 18 June with reported surface-to-surface mid-range ballistic missiles (Zolfaghar?).
    Deir Ez-Zor seems to be in good hands with General Zahreddine. Why not focus on Mayadin and leave DeZ until later?

  25. sid_finster says:

    Turcopolier: why do you think so?

  26. pl,
    I’ll have to take a much closer look at a map to compare the open country to the roads up the Euphrates valley. I’m just apprehensive of any defenses built by the jihadis among the many villages in the valley.

  27. turcopolier says:

    Ritter? He got a lot of publicity by going to places that DIA and CIA sent him to and then writing a book about it. Ho Hum!. pl

  28. turcopolier says:

    Pretty sure there is a border road on the Syrian side of the Iraqi border. That would be a lot easier going than cross compartment in a hilly, stony desert. Resistance I villages? That is what CAS is for. pl

  29. Thirdeye says:

    Couple of things jumped out at me while considering the dash-through-the-desert scenario. One is how exposed ISIS’ LOC to Suknah would be to any move north from the Abar al Mawahib – Humaymah line. They have about 60 km of road to defend in front of that line if they want to keep the way open. SAA seizing that road and rolling into the rear of the defenses at Suknah could give ISIS in Suknah a real problem. Another is the possibility of an advance centered on the road from T2 to Al Mayadin, a tad under 40 km east of Deir Ezzor. And a dash-through-the-desert could be launched anywhere along that same road if if SAA wanted to go more directly to Deir Ezzor.
    Anybody have a comment on what appears to be an imminent Turkish offensive against the Kurds in Afrin?

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Chemical weapons casualties; without a doubt.

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Both civilian and soldiers.

  32. Bill Herschel says:

    This reminds me of the story, not particularly relevant, of the southern surgeon who, after having his resident fumble up pretty much everything he was trying to do in the operation, finally said, “Son, if you’re ever in the woods and you see me wrasslin’ a bear, help the bear.”

  33. Fred says:

    I believe the Russina ICBM capabilities have been forgotten only by the Borg. The current occupant of the WH probably thinks Hunt for Red October was a documentary.

  34. sid_finster says:

    I don’t see how that bears on the truth or falsity of what Ritter writes.

  35. Outrage Beyond says:

    re: Is it true to any extent to say that ISIS is the Sunni Iraqi Army blowing back?
    Of course. They didn’t acquire their military training from nowhere. Saddam’s military was fired by Paul Bremer. They became the brains of the insurgency, and then ISIS.

  36. mike says:

    Many of the civilian victims were Iraqi Kurds who fled Saddam’s attempted genocide across the border. But Chemical Ali reached them there also in Sardasht, Sarpol, Gharb, Shno, Marivan, et al.

  37. Peter AU says:

    Watching one of the Stone – Putin videos, Stone asked Putin if he is ever afraid. Putin answered “A hanged man cannot drown”. He seemed to have the attitude you do your best and whatever happens happens. Fate decided by god type of thing and at peace with that.
    Sometimes I gain the impression that some in Syria work on the same principle. Do your best and leave the rest to god. Would there be anything in that or do I have the wrong impression?

  38. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think that the commanding officers at Mosul had been bribed to be AWOL when ISIS struck. It is a toss up whether it was Saudi money or Qatari money.

  39. Peter AU,
    I think you have the right impression. I also think there are many roads to arrive at the same state of mind. My father is 86. He survived cancer, buried two wives and a young daughter. He has an unbelievably upbeat attitude, but I have never met anyone who holds the specter of impending death in such contempt. He is absolutely fearless of his own mortality. He still holds some of the ancestral pre-Christianity ways in his heart even though he was raised a Roman Catholic. Perhaps that has something to do with his attitude. Like I said, there are many roads to arrive at the same state of mind.

  40. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yup – one wonders where the bleeding hearts of US and EU where?
    Or the progressive vanguards of mankind in USSR and the People’s Republic of China?
    Or the Muslim Brothers & Sisters; you know, the Ummah?
    Last, but not least, those small countries such as Denmark or New Zealand (the perennial supplier of passports to Israeli assains)?

  41. Linda says:


  42. fasteddiez says:

    So the Infamous Syrian Government green buses to Idlib Province will now have a US/SAA Green Aircraft fleet to move Islamist rebels to figurative greener pastures and greater nowheres. Interestingly, the peaceful movement of rebels to new kessels is unknown to the great majority of people in the US.

  43. Bandit says:

    Can you please link to the article about the Winner-leaked NSA “assessment”? Thanks ahead.

  44. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yup, the Protestant countries.

  45. aleksandar says:

    TTG, thank you very much but having worked for NATO I’m truly ashamed of my current english.
    I agree about the fact that the drive to Al Bukamal and north along the Euphrates is not the most likely axis, too difficult with Al Mayadin half way, a big nut to crack.
    But I remain convinced that ISIS reinforcement road must be cut here, and so far PMU are months away to be able to do that.
    The northeast COA across the flat desert from the Humaymah-T3 area directly towards Deir Ezzor has IMO two weakness.
    First it extends supply line over 100 km in the desert.
    Even if SAA and co are somewhat « rustic » and with less needed supply that our armies this can put this offensive in danger without proper refuelling and rearming.
    Secondly, it will be difficult to protect the flanks north and south and this supply line can be cut everywhere and anytime.
    If Iran ( seems they are alredy in this move ) and Russia decide to get it over with ISIS as soon as possible and before a possible false chemical attack, I think scale of forces will be sufficient to lauch an offensive and protect the road.
    Ash Shula could be Phase 1 end point, Deir Ezzor airport phase 2.
    If I was always a G3 planning officier and as ISIS seems to be totally encircled in Raqqah I would propose as COA Tiger offensive from Rusafa to Al Ma’dan and At Tibni as their north east flank will be protected by SDF up to At Tibni (ph1) and then Ayash (north Dez). This COA allows Tiger to prevent ISIS reinforcement to DeZ from north east having the other bank of Euphrat under fire control.
    ” Keep you head low ” 🙂

  46. turcopolier says:

    IMO, you and TTG are gravely underestimating the difficulties involved in operating across that desert without a supply road. pl

  47. mike says:

    “Tiger Forces advancing from Rusafa axis and NDF in Ithriya axis have met up near Zakiah crossroad after capturing Masbah and Al-Alem hill.”
    Road linking Rusafa with Ithriya is now clear. This shortens Tiger Force LOCs (as TTG predicted) by well over a hundred miles or more. Regime sources claim Aleppo Province is now completely free of Daeshis, who reportedly withdrew south or southwest (or perhaps went into hiding in place).

  48. aleksandar says:

    Sir , that’s why I would have proposed the “Tiger” north COA.

  49. turcopolier says:

    Glad to see you back at SST. The stretch of road east of Ithria was deliberately left open for days to facilitate an IS withdrawal from the closing Khanassar pocket. People try to do that but it never works very well, as in the Falaise Pocket from which most German forces escaped because of the gap left open. Will not the Tiger forces task foce now be occupied for a while in mopping up the Khanassar pocket? pl

  50. Babak Makkinejad,
    As I have pointed out to you before, key Soviet-era military thinkers had more or less to be dragged kicking and screaming into acceptance of Western-style notions of ‘deterrence’.
    From a 1995 account by Jacob W. Kipp, who used to head the U.S. Army’s – invaluable – ‘Foreign Military Studies Office’, of a book by one of the most significant of them, Makmut Akhmetovich Gareev (note the name: he is an ‘Old Mohican’, who started out as a Tatar cavalryman from Chelyabinsk):
    ‘Gareev strongly disagrees with the new Russian military doctrine’s open proclamation of possible first-use of nuclear weapons and points out the serious political dangers associated with such a declaratory policy. Dismissing the need for such actions against a wide range of states and noting the terrible risks associated in the use of such weapons against another nuclear power, Gareev concludes that a defensive military doctrine and first use of nuclear weapons amount to a dangerous contradiction. It can lead to confusion in times of crisis that could result in dangerous miscalculations. The path to stable deterrence is to be found through “the rejection of the concept of global nuclear war and through planning only deterring nuclear strikes.” The impact of residual nuclear capabilities and the political deterrence associated with them is likely to make conventional war more limited in terms of objectives and even the use of conventional forces.’
    (See .)
    As I have also noted, the combination of the catastrophic collapse unleashed by Gorbachev’s ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’ and Western policy has created a situation where there is a broad consensus that reliance on ‘deterrence’ is the least worst option for Russia. My own view is that Western policies which were likely to encourage this perception were very profoundly foolish.
    But those of us who argued that were ‘frozen out’ a generation ago.
    However, precisely the situation we now face is one where we could have ‘confusion in times of crisis which leads to dangerous miscalculations.’
    As regards the Islamic Republic, my instinct – which is ignorant – has been that the current decisionmakers do not want to adopt Western-style ‘deterrence’ strategies.
    So long as there was reason to believe that Saddam’s Iraq had, or was likely to have, a serious nuclear programme, Iranian strategic planners had very good reason to have one.
    However, after your country’s intelligence services duped ‘useful idiots’ in Washington and London into getting rid of Saddam for them, this imperative disappeared.
    My guess has been that Iranian planners would have liked to achieve a state of ‘nuclear pregnancy’.
    However, it seems to me that the main focus has been on conventional ‘deterrence’ – the ability, without increasing the chances of the Israelis inveigling the United States into attacking Iran by giving good grounds for the belief that you were attempting a ‘nuclear breakout’, to make such an attack fraught with danger.
    It would seem possible that a part of this is the steady build-up of missiles of increasing range, accuracy, and lethality in hardened Hizbullah positions north of the Litani.
    It could be – and here I am venturing into speculation – that a hoped for side effect of this is that these will increase the pressures on members of the educated and technologically capable élites upon whom Israel depends to conclude that it makes better sense to bring up their families in San Francisco, or indeed Berlin. If they did so, they might trigger a degenerative ‘vicious circle’, and so collapse the whole Zionist project.
    The fear of this happening, I have long thought, is a central driving force behind the actions of Israel and its ‘amen corner’ in the United States and other Western countries. However, this has now backfired, in at least two critical ways.
    One is that, in addition to pushing Russia towards China, Western policy have created a situation where, although their perspectives and interests in regard to Syria are clearly very different, Russia and Iran have an overriding common interest in combatting Sunni jihadism. The other is that the old assumption – common among the morons whom MI6 appears to recruit – that one could use such jihadists against the (supposed) common enemies of the Saudis and ourselves has blown up in our faces.
    All this is rather good news for the Islamic Republic, and I would anticipate that with Rouhani as President, rather than Ahmadinejad, its planners are in a better position to understand and exploit trends moving in their favour than they were.
    Of course, I may simply be projecting my old-style ‘Perfidious Albionian’ deviousness onto innocent Iranians.

  51. Gene O. says:

    aleksandar –
    Regarding your preferred COA: “Tiger offensive from Rusafa to Al Ma’dan and At Tibni…”
    Do you perceive Tiger Forces going cross country to Ma’adan? Or could they move up to route 4 at Ratiah and roll down that Highway to Ma’adan? That seems to me would require coordination with both the SDF and their Coalition backers. Is that possible? Especially after what happened at al-Tanf and Ja’din?

  52. turcopolier says:

    that may yet happen when the Khanassar Pocket is thought to be secured. pl

  53. mike says:

    Colonel –
    I never left. Since banishment I have been lurking.

  54. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your comments.
    Where I differ with you is that I believe that there was a political settlement as well in Europe called the Peace of Yalta. That is now defunct and such a political as well as military equilibrium does not obtain in Europe.
    Furthermore, the development of hyper-sonic weapons – pursued by the Russian Federation, the United States, the People’s Republic of China, and very likely by France and the United Kingdom and India and Pakistan will leave precisely that which Gareev objected as the only viable option.
    In regards to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s strategies; her leaders are making those decisions and not I.
    The future course of events will demonstrate the utility of those decisions made by the Islamic Republic’s leaders; given the fact that Iran, a declared neutral country, was invaded in 1914 and again in 1941, was attacked with impunity with chemical weapons (an international instrument of disarmament) and NPT was shredded in her case by P5.
    This is precisely an issue of Justice – putting things in proper order and place – which in this case, is reduced to “Should the Iranian people remain alive or not?”
    Very many commentators on this site are protected by nuclear weapons under the MAD doctrine – and neither UK nor France are disarming.

  55. Babak Makkinejad says:

    By the way, many Russian Jews actually do leave Israel for Berlin, San Francisco and London. The reasons are varied but are un-related to security concerns – they leave for better opportunities, for wanting to resume the cosmopolitan life that they had in Moscow and Saint Petersburgh, and being out of the oppressive religious parochialism of Israeli Jews.

  56. Thirdeye says:

    The route from T2 to Deir Ezzor bypasses Al Mayadin by about 4 km. It should be feasible to establish strong defensive positions against any attack against that route from Mayadin. The more ISIS wants to throw forces against such defenses rather than keeping them for defense of urban areas, the merrier. If besieged Deir Ezzor can hold off ISIS with helicopter supplies, so can positions west of Mayadin with all the heavy weaponry they need coming from T2. Yes, supply line security is an issue that would need to be addressed between T2 and Deir Ezzor. It was also an issue that needed to be addressed between Ithria and Aleppo, but that route was sufficient to support operations that liberated Aleppo and the eastern Aleppo province, in addition to providing for the needs of the civilian population.
    The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced T2 is the key to Deir Ezzor.

  57. sid_finster says:

    It was something on a topic that has been of frequent interest to the SST readership in the not-too-distant past, and didn’t fit perfectly into any of the threads which are active at the moment, although it is relevant to the unfolding present situation in Syria/Iraq.
    Others seemed to appreciate the link. Sorry you didn’t.

  58. pl,
    I still like the idea of a drive from T2 to DeZ bypassing the Euphrates and Al Mayadin. It would call for a lighter, mobile force. If I was called to plan and lead such a foray, I would assemble a technical-heavy column with less MBTs than I’ve seen in action on this front. Dedicated fire support would come from mortars, ATGMs and accompanying rotary wing support. Throw in some of those 106 recoiless rifles I’ve seen in the videos for old times’ sake. Resupply would rely on FARRPs established with Russian and Syrian Mi-17s much like the reinforcement of DeZ was accomplished at least twice before. The lift capacity is there.
    Thirdeye and Gene O have noted the road from T2 to Al Mayadin. That’s a good feature to guide this raid-like offensive. This force may be too light to actually break through to the DeZ pocket. In that case, the force could be beefed up with infantry by airmobile insertion outside the pocket. That’s probably a good idea anyway. The immediate goal of this offensive would be to expand the DeZ pocket to its former size before US airstrikes led to the jihadis splitting the pocket in two. That should suffice until one of the more conventional offensive columns arrive from the west, south or north.
    The offensive to capture Al Bukamal would continue. It’s just too logical an idea to drop in favor of my hair brained “DeZ dash.”I think even that offensive will require reinforcement prior to assaulting Al Bukamal and moving up the Euphrates.

  59. Peter AU says:

    In looking at the difficulties involved (terrain, logistic lines ect), first question that needs to be asked – Is there an urgent need to link up with Deir Ezzor?
    Is Deir Ezzor in danger of being over run?
    What are the casualty ratios of SAA to ISIS as compared to other fronts? At DE SAA are in defensive positions and ISIS are attacking. On all other fronts ISIS are in defensive positions and R+6 are attacking.
    R+6 front lines have been getting longer as they have created pockets. A long thin logistics line to DE would stretch this even further an thin out manpower.
    If DE is not thought to be in danger of being over run, and casualty ratios are good compared to other fronts, then it seems likely that all other fronts will move towards Deir Ezzor by creating pockets and then clearing them until finally a link up occurs. ???

  60. Pundita says:

    Just as a broken clock is right twice a day sometimes DEBKAfile nails it and I think the meat of their June 30 report, “Kissinger, Mattis lay bridges for Trump-Putin talks,” is one of those times. This is my understanding, based on DEBKA’s analysis and those from other sources I’ve reviewed during the past month:
    Mattis has wanted to beat “ISIS” in Syria so he can move on to other tasks. But he’s been up against the kind of political players in Washington/NSC who turn warfare into silly putty. Now Mattis, backed by the Joint Chiefs and Kissinger (and I believe also Tillerson), has gained ground against the factions in the White House and Congress that got tangled up with Israeli/Saudi aims in Syria in particular regarding Iran.
    (As to how Kissinger got involved in this — Trump counted him as an adviser even before the presidential election, and he’s on very good terms with Putin from way back. Now that Trump is seeing the prospect of his foreign policy goals in the Middle East in tatters, it looks from the DEBKA report that he’s actually willing to act on Kissinger’s advice, at least about Russia in Syria, and actually listen to Mattis about how to fight a war.)
    From DEBKA’s report:
    This week, the defense secretary and military chiefs were very clear about American priorities in Syria, contending that US military action should be confined to the war on the Islamic State terrorists. The only part of the country of interest therefore should be the Euphrates River Valley in eastern Syria.
    In his comments this week to reporters, Mattis said: “To avoid the seemingly inevitable collisions between US-backed fighters and pro-Syrian government forces, including their respective [Russian] air support… the Euphrates River Valley would be carved up into ‘deconfliction’ areas.”
    The defense secretary showed no interest in US troops engaging in battle to curtail the Russian-Iranian military presence in Syria, or hit back at the creeping takeover by Iranian, Syrian and Hizballah forces of the strategic Syrian-Iraqi border. Mattis was totally focused on the Euphrates Valley and the ISIS concentrations there.
    The wording of the above paragraph suggests the IDF is not overjoyed with the turn of events. But DEBKA goes on to warn that opponents of a single-minded American focus on wiping out ISIS in Syria will do everything in their power to derail the Trump-Putin talk on the sidelines of the Hamburg G20 Summit (July 7-8).
    DEBKA adds darkly, “The White House and the Kremlin may be confronted with disturbing facts in an effort to upend any inter-power equilibrium that this summit may offer.”
    I’m betting that Mattis, with backup from the Joint Chiefs, is prepared to go to the wall to counter such opponents. I think that would include going against McMaster if necessary. And would include quashing any more White House stunts to frame Assad for a chemical weapon attack.
    By the way the Rt. Hon. Sir Michael Fallon was None Too Pleased with that latest chemical weapon stunt from the White House. When I relocate the quotes I’ll post them here. They’re a doozie.
    None of the above assuages my worry that Kissinger still wants to see a de-facto balkanization of Syria. But the Russian success in Syria might have changed his mind since he first suggested such a plan, which was in mid-October 2015 (“A Path Out of the Middle East Collapse” — WSJ) — at the time when Russia was still preparing to launch its air campaign in Syria.
    In any case Kissinger now has bigger fish to fry; from all accounts he wants to do everything he can to help defuse the threat of a hot war between the U.S. and Russia. If part of that is promoting cooperation between the two governments in their Syria campaigns — from DEBKA’s report today it looks like he’s all-in.

  61. Thirdeye says:

    SAA’s logistics line to west Raqqa just got a whole lot shorter with the opening of the Ithriya – Resafa road. Their front has also been shortened with turning the Palmyra salient into a front extending to the border and shrinking the Khanassar pocket. One new feature of SAA seems to be capability for deep mobile operations, like we saw in southeastern Aleppo and south of Palmyra.
    ISIS seems to use some of their more marginal forces, including child soldiers, in their Deir Ezzor attacks. The pressure against ISIS in places like east Hama, between Palmyra and Suknah, west Raqqa, and now T2, forces ISIS to commit their first-line forces, to the benefit of the defense of Deir Ezzor. My guess is that slowing the operational pace and allowing ISIS to regain balance could have bad consequences for Deir Ezzor.

  62. Peter AU says:

    Rather than slowing the operational pace, I am thinking that if Deir Ezzor pocket is solid, maximum pressure could be placed on the other fronts – creating and clearing pockets.
    Diverting forces to create a logistics line to DE would reduce pressure on other fronts?
    With the Saudi/Qatar spat, their proxies in west Syria will most likely be turning against each other, Qatar proxies perhaps siding with Turk proxies, so I don’t see any major AQ offensive occurring there. This leaves all air power free for CAS if required at DE.

  63. aleksandar says:

    If I remenber well, in 1961, Irak has to abandon his sovereignty on some islands south BASSORAH to Iran. The aim was to sign a cessation of hostilities with Kurds and stop Iran help to them. Iraq Army was not able to crish Kurds rebellion.
    A lot of Iraqis feel humiliated facing such weakness.
    One of them was Saddam Hussein.

  64. aleksandar says:

    IMO Tiger Force is SAA most experienced and capable force.Sized for assault.Cleaning the Khanassar pocket can be done by Republican Guard.

  65. aleksandar says:

    Seems there is a technical trail along pipeline from rusafa toward east. Tiger can use it to bypass SDF and then join a road. But an alternative route is needed to push forward a significant force strenght.
    Only a 35 km move with CAS. I have done such thing in Niger and chad through unsafe areas.

  66. Pundita says:

    Hi James,
    You’re speaking for yourself when you write that it’s hard to read DEBKA as anything more than propaganda. Of course you shouldn’t pay attention to DEBKA if you don’t have the knowledge to separate the chaff from the grain and don’t think in terms of intelligence gathering.
    As to your statement that you would “never bother going to a confirmed warmonger as way to find peace” — that makes us two very different people because I’m not looking for peace; I’m looking for victory.
    Those who look for victory have to take their information where they can find it, else no police detective would cultivate informants from within a criminal syndicate.
    It’s the same with intelligence gathering in war. And in the post-9/11 era it’s the same with taking in news reports that touch on war. The news consumer is dead in the water if he doesn’t learn to think of the news as ‘intelligence’ — as data that must be fit into a larger picture to arrive at a determination about it.
    If you told me the public shouldn’t have to learn to think like an intelligence analyst just to keep up with the day’s news, I’d agree. But that’s the way things are in this era.

  67. Pundita says:

    From a quick search I can’t find video showing U.K. DefSec Michael Fallon’s complete statement on Tuesday June 27 but the following passages from a June 27 RT report are good enough (emphasis mine)
    Britain is “absolutely” ready to support retaliation by US President Donald Trump against Bashar Assad in Syria, UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has said.
    The US claimed on Monday that Assad was “potentially” preparing a deadly chemical weapons attack on rebel forces, and threatened to hit back with new bombing raids.
    Fallon said action should be justified, legal, and proportionate, but said in those circumstances the UK’s support for US action by Trump would be unwavering. He added that the UK backed the US missile strikes in April, which Trump ordered after an alleged chemical attack by Assad.
    “As always in war, the military action you use must be justified, it must be legal, it must be proportionate, it must be necessary. In the last case it was.
    “If the Americans take similar action again, I want to be clear, we will support it.”
    Fallon said the US was monitoring the situation in Syria, but had not shared any specific evidence with the British government.
    He said he expects to discuss the situation with US Defense Secretary General James Mattis when they meet at a gathering of NATO defense ministers later this week [on Thursday June 29]
    Those last two statements are a giveaway that the British government would not be led down the garden path again, and that Britain was giving the U.S. two days to present them with evidence of a planned chemical attack or close down the hoax.
    As we know the US called off the hoax before the NATO summit.
    But I would read even more into Fallon’s last two remarks. I’d say he was as much stating in public — in front of the entire world press — that the US had no evidence whatsoever because if it had, it would have immediately shared it with Britain, its chief Coalition partner in Syria.
    If my interpretation is correct, Fallon’s very public message to the American government is a significant development — and probably was repeated behind closed doors at the NATO meeting, and could be repeated in some form at the Hamburg Summit July 7-8 if the Brits think the Trump Admin. didn’t hear the warning clearly the first time.

  68. mike says:

    PeterAU –
    Regarding Deir ez-Zor: General Zahreddine does seem to be doing a good job there holding off Daeshis. So far.
    However, unless he is massively reinforced, there is the possibility that DeZ may fall. Yes, the Daesh caliphate is in disarray and on their last legs. But they are still strong enough in the Euphrates River valley to mount a last ditch attempt to take DeZ. The leadership has fled Raqqa to Mayadin, just 40 klicks from DeZ.
    If I were Assad or his planning staff, I would not take the chance that Zahreddine can hold out once again. The risk is too large. So either mount a major airlift of additional troops – or send in a relief column. I tend to favor Aleksandar’s push by the Tiger Forces if that pipeline road can sustain the logistics load. Or perhaps more than one relief column from multiple axes.

  69. JJackson says:

    Pundita that is a fairly charitable interpretation of Fallon’s comments. The less charitable – like me – might be inclined to see it as blanket endorsement of any future actions the US may want to take – or NATO on their behalf. The ‘if it is legal’ bit being pro forma, this would be more in line with our previous positions. An assurance that the US have convinced themselves of the righteousness of their case has always been enough previously and this Government does not seem likely to break with tradition.
    (sorry it is not as a reply-to-comment but typepad does not seem to be giving me that option at present)

  70. Thirdeye says:

    I think we’re on the same page about drawing pressure off Deir Ezzor by maximizing it against ISIS elsewhere. IMO a push north of T2 towards Deir Ezzor would fit that. ISIS seems to be committing north of Humaymah, in open country that favors the offense and without the benefit of long preparation that they have south of Suknah. The more they commit in the east, the less they have to attack Deir Ezzor. A drive north of T2 would also expose ISIS’ new capital at Mayadin and their entire position on the south bank of the Euphrates east of Deir Ezzor.

  71. Pundita says:

    JJ Jackson — Times have changed in the U.K., and they changed suddenly and radically just over the past weeks since the snap election. While it could be argued that underlying factors of the blowout had been forming for a long time, the argument could be made only with hindsight.
    We’ll know more from the Hamburg G20 Summit.

  72. Poul says:

    Iran could just be awaiting a more suitable time to develop nuclear weapons and instead concentrate on missiles.
    Right now the West has a massive advantage in implementing economic sanctions for violations of NPT (real or not) but as populations age in Europe and their economies stagnate and/or decrease things will change.
    If African and Asian countries copy China’s path successfully sanctions from the West will not be effective unless there really is global support for them. But we are talking about the last quarter of the century for that to have happened.

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