The YPG/SDF crosses the Euphrates… again – TTG


Several sources have reported an SDF attack across Lake Assad just west of the Tabqa Airbase and Tabqa dam. Some of the reports are a little wild saying U.S. Marines are part of the assault force. Some are showing photos of airborne assaults. I think these can be dismissed as bogus exaggerations. What is happening is a well planned and well executed surprise offensive that has become characteristic of YPG/SDF operations. It was a river crossing supported by an air mobile insertion. The Military Times had this to say:

"U.S. aircraft have transported more than 500 Syrian Arab Coalition fighters and provided them with close air support in an operation to take the Taqba dam. The operation launched yesterday is intended to “reclaim the last route in and out of Raqqa,” said Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon." 

This series of tweets from @24Raqqa made over a four hour period sums up this operation as of an hour ago. 


– Five Helicopters started the Airdrop operation backed by fighter jets. US and SDF fighters controlled the peninsula area and Shurfa town.

– Daesh evacuated civilians from that area a while ago for unknown reasons and prevented any refugees from East Aleppo to enter. 

– SDF fighters are crossing the lake to the newly controlled area after securing it.

– About five fighter jets are flying in the area to prevent any Daesh unit to arrive.

– It is not true about controlling Aleppo-Raqqa road at that area. US and SDF fighters trying to secure their captured area.

– Aleppo-Raqqa road is still open and used by civilians.

– SDF fighters keep crossing the lake with special military boats to the new controlled areas.

– Raids bombed locations in Tabqa city west of Raqqa. 

– More fighters arrived in the last two hours and many heavy vehicles were transported to the new controlled area.

– SDF backed by US forces and heavy vehicles started before one hour moving south and controlled the Aleppo-Raqqa road. 

– SDF backed by US forces are moving to Euphrates dam.


The DOD spokesman said 500 SDF fighters were inserted by U.S. aircraft. I doubt all 500 fighters were brought in that way. It is much more likely that a smaller force was brought in with their Special Forces advisors to seize and secure the landing area so that the bulk of the SDF forces could land by boat along with their vehicles. The talk about Marines being involved probably came from Marine Ospreys used for the air landing. This is a YPG/SDF operation with Special Forces advisors and significant Coalition air support. This was always part of the Wrath of Euphrates plan to encircle Raqqa. We knew it was coming. Yet they still appeared to achieve tactical surprise. I attribute much of this to the lightness of the YPG/SDF forces. There is little logistical build up beyond pulling up your socks, tying your boot laces, filling your magazines and stepping forth. (Yeah, I know I'm exaggerating, but you get my point.) They and their Special Forces advisors clearly favor maneuver over firepower.

I have found photos which may or may not be related to this assault. Although a unit patch can be clearly seen as well as a watermark, I cannot determine what unit this is. Any information on this would be greatly appreciated.


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71 Responses to The YPG/SDF crosses the Euphrates… again – TTG

  1. turcopolier says:

    I hear from confidential sources that there has been no parachute people drops and that as TTG says the airland is by Osprey. There is a great romance to actual paratroop drops but they are to be avoided if possible because there always quite a lot of injuries in the drop. pl

  2. John Minnerath says:

    My memory is getting dim, it’s been over 50 years and I suppose things have changed, but I seem to remember 50% as the planned casualty rate on an airborne drop.

  3. turcopolier says:

    John Minnerath
    I think that was a planning factor for big airborne operations like Overlord or Varsity. I was just talking about drop injuries. pl

  4. Anna Komnene says:

    There’s been some disquieting rumors that the SDF/YPG have turned northern Syria into the largest defacto black site in the world for the enhanced interrogation of prisoners. Battlefield combatants caught in either Iraq or Syria are then given to SDF/YPG who then turn them over to the US.

  5. Seacoaster says:

    10% for drop injuries is the planning factor I’ve heard, via a buddy who served as a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne.

  6. HDL says:

    My memory is also dim but I remember Ft Benning teaching one malfunction (of any type) in any five jumps. Of course that was the basic T-10, back when chutes were white and round.

  7. John Minnerath says:

    I only had the displeasure of jumping in a couple mass drops, there were always a lot of injuries and broken equipment in those things.
    When it was just an A team or maybe a few more we would get a sprained ankle once in a while.
    I do remember on Okinawa we were breaking so many M-14s the armorers couldn’t keep up and we were finally told to quit jumping with them.

  8. Heros says:

    A few threads back (
    I asked you if ” a military officer fulfilling orders that violate the constitution or international law were guilty of war crimes and were legally obligated at a minimum to not fulfil those orders. “
    You replied:
    “I spoke of orders consistent with international and US law. Their opinion of what is legal may be different than yours.”
    We now have what appears to be undebatably an invasion of Syrian territory by US forces. Assad has clearly stated that as the UN recognized and democratically elected president of Syria that this invasion is illegal. The UN Security Council has not made any resolutions allowing this invasion nor the general assembly. It would appear to be an act of aggressive war which to my understanding was determined to be more serious that war crimes in the Nuremburg trials in about 1948. The US has not declared war on Syria, and to my knowledge has no US Constitutional right to be in Syria.
    As I said in the other thread, I am a civilian. This action by the US appears to be illegal from both International and US law. As I asked in that thread, are not US officers and even soldiers legally obligated and even sworn to countermand such orders?
    Could you or anyone else explain what is incorrect in my description of events above?
    PS: I chose Heros because my Grandmother was from Carmille Illonois (Little Egypt) and she once told me her uncle was murdered by a Yankee during the conflicts there in the civil war. My mothers family had a very German name, and she and her brother basically spent the second world war paranoid about what might happen to them, even though he served in Pacific on a destroyer with the Navy. Heros von Borcke seemed to cover a lot of bases concerning my family history. Plus I consider myself to be a secessionist.

  9. raven says:

    My dad was part of the landing on Corregidor the day after the parachute assault. The 1st Bn 503rd was held in reserve and, because the parachute drop was so costly, they landed by boat. My dad always takes about paratroopers being blown into the sea and being rescued by the naval craft in the are. When I asked about that on the “Heritage Battalion” website I was met with a resounding “THAT NEVER HAPPENED”. I was in no way going to engage with vets of that action and I let it go but it’s always interested me. The paratroopers jumped at 500 feet and as windy as it was it’s hard to imagine someone didn’t go in the drink.
    Here’s footage of the Retaking of the Rock.

  10. raven says:

    “The perfectly coordinated triphibious American assault to recapture Corregidor left the 503rd PRCT with 169 dead and 531 wounded. The 34th Infantry Regiment suffered 38 killed and 153 wounded. Of the 2,065 men of both lifts by the 503rd PRCT, about 280 were killed or severely injured. Three men suffered parachute malfunctions, and two men who collided with buildings died. Eight men were killed either in the air or before they were able to get free of their chutes, a further 50 were wounded in the air or upon landing. Several men were missing in action at the drop. The total injuries (not by wounding) on the drop were 210.
    Japanese sources have estimated that there were about 6,700 Japanese on the island when the 503rd PRCT and 34th Infantry landed, of whi which only 50 survived. Another 19 were taken prisoner, and 20 Japanese holdouts surfaced after the war on 1 January 1946.”

  11. turcopolier says:

    Yr account matches exactly with what I heard as a cadet sitting next to a veteran of The Rock’s assault on the island at of all things a Jose Greco concert in the tiny episcopal church hall in Lexington, Virginia. We went to his house afterward so that his wife could feed me her excellent apple pie while he filled in the details. Oddly, me da had been stationed at Ft. Mills on the rock in the 20s. My interlocutor on this said that after he gathered himself up between a couple of buildings and shot a few Japs he ran into buddies who asked, not about th eJaps but about his jump. Geronimo! pl

  12. turcopolier says:

    Your point is just chicken shit and you know it. pl

  13. turcopolier says:

    IMO, and probably that of your father, there were not enough dead Japs. These little Jap bastards killed by beheading at Camp O’Odonnell the US Army chaplain who baptized me because he insisted on ministering to the POWs and 100,00 Filipino civilian in Manila. Fuck’em pl

  14. Heros says:

    You write: “Your point is just chicken shit and you know it.”
    No, I don’t know it. As I stated I am a civilian, and I have never served in the military.
    As far as I can tell what is going on here is something very primordial, basically that might makes right, to the victor goes the spoils, the victor writes the history, and the victor decides who broke the law.
    In the end this means that any laws of war are completely pointless and the only thing that matters is don’t lose the war. This of course ends in tragic events like the Shenandoa, Indian Wars, Dresden and Nagasaki.
    I have long considered military professionals to be honorable people, at least far more honorable than politicians, lawyers and used car salesmen. If what I wrote above is true, then I and the vast majority of Americans have been sold a bill of goods by the military that has no relation to reality.

  15. turcopolier says:

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Abstract civilian bullshit divorced from reality. Get lost . You are wasting my time reading this crap. pl

  16. Peter AU says:

    Thanks for the clarification TTG, pl.
    I read about the operation as soon as it hit the news, checked wikimapia for the location, and found that the frontlines had already been updated.
    Have noticed this before. By the time something hits the news – al Masdar news ect – or is reported on twitter, wikimapia seems to have been updated.

  17. HDL,
    That sounds about right. Out of my first five jumps with the OD green T-10s, my first was a perfect Mae West. I heard the black hats on the DZ shouting “Jumper with the malfunction, pull your reserve.” on their bull horns. I pulled the reserve as the Mae West righted itself by ripping in two. I still have the reserve handle and pieces of OD parachute nylon.
    The steerable chute actually have more malfunctions. In Group we went back to the T-10 for low level jumps since it was more reliable, especially with anti-inversion nets. It was also bigger so we didn’t hit the ground quite as hard.

  18. John Minnerath says:

    We were using T-10s, by ’62-’63 they were all OD, the reserves were white.
    I don’t know when the T-10 went out of service.

  19. John Minnerath,
    I went through jump school as an Army ROTC cadet in the summer of ’73. There were no women and we did PT bare chested. We were told stories of a steerable chute being in development. Our T-10s did not have anti-inversion nets. We were also instructed to make our own brain pads out of foam and tape. They weren’t issued at that time.

  20. John Minnerath says:

    Damn TTG, I didn’t know you were such a young’n.
    I went to Jump school summer of 62. Oddly enough Pat Lang and I were in the same Training platoon.
    I’ve never heard of an anti=inversion net, things got tangled up we just climbed up and started shaking things loose.
    I never pulled a reserve, but got a big time ass chewing once when I had 2 or 3 panels blow out and didn’t pop it. Point of honor ya know.

  21. raven says:

    It was an odd thing. Dad was the only one of three brothers who were on the Crosby to go the war. My uncle, who stayed at Navy Pier the whole way, hated “Japs”. Dad had no illusions about their barbarity but, somehow, there was a level of respect for their tenacity. He was a high school football coach in California in the later 50’s-early 60’s and he said he’d watch the Japanese kids and when they began to wear down he knew he’d pushed them enough.
    In terms of Corregidor. He was on an LCPR that got beached and took a great deal of fire from the caves above the beach. One of the paratroopers on his craft got hit and, while administering first aid, he put his folding stock carbine and field glasses over his head,. When they finally had to make a run for the LCM’s on the beach he thought he was being hit but it turned out that it was the gear hitting his chest. I have the field glasses on the wall. My final story about that is about when I took him to the opening of the Pacific Wing of theD-Day Museum (he wouldn’t go until they changed it because “God damit ‘ I was in 30 D-days!). Anyway, I had a nice movie camera and I got him on a truck of swabbies and set out on foot to film the parade. At one point I noticed he briefly broke into tears and then recovered (I always think of that when you mention that you have seen men cry). When I processed the video i saw that he looked into the crowd and saw a poster being held up that had “Rock Force” and a likeness of the island. He never forgot.

  22. kooshy says:

    Colonel, and TTG, if you guys don’t mind, here is President’s message on Nowruz
    “Statement by President Donald J. Trump on Nowruz”

  23. Hugo Grotius says:

    “When you you have neither the law nor the facts on your side, pound the table…”
    Obviously Heros is right — we hanged the Nazis after WW II for EXACTLY what we have been doing in the ME for the last 30 years — and you have no answer for it.
    YOU are the one being chickenshit here, Lang.

  24. fanto says:

    I am puzzled by your seemingly irritated answers in exchange with Heros.
    I understand his point about Syrian Government protest the USA putting troops in Syria without its invitation or permission. Syria did invite Russia, so that Russian involvement is “covered” by international law. This Syrian protest IMHO avoids the grave error of omission committed by the Polish government in September 1939 – when Stalin invaded Poland. The polish government did not protest on or after September 17, 1939 when Stalin’s armies invaded Poland from the East. The Polish government did not declare that it found itself is in state of war with the Soviet Union. If not for that fatal omission, all the propaganda of “coming to the help of ethnic minorities” would be unmasked and Stalin’s crimes (Katyn for example) perhaps would not have occurred, because Stalin was always shrewd enough to have some kind of international law “cover” for his illegal moves. Syrian government has done the right thing, it clarifies the situation.
    I do not understand your irritation really, please – call me names as you did to Heros, and I will stop frequenting your otherwise very good publication, this time for good.

  25. LeaNder says:

    Heros, did the UN Security Council Resolution 1441 make the Iraq war legal? There seems to be a debate.
    Did the UN Security Council authorize the use of force against the Taliban? Lets leave Libya out…
    In Syria matters are no doubt even more ambiguous. But I assume you know. If you have been watching this site longer, you will have noticed an acronym that stand for Humanitarian Intervention cum Regime Change. That was, as Pat writes, as you know the standard argument. Assad must go, he is killing his own people. Genocide? Does Kosovo ring a bell?
    Supporting proxies to get rid of a dictator, isn’t a problem, is it? Arming them for self-defense only. No? We do not include the Kurds in this, because it makes no sense to include them. Their enemies isn’t the regime, their enemies are the Islamists.
    Now interestingly, you may recall “Old Europe” (France, Germany) that weren’t officially among the willing to support the Iraq war. There was this France-Russia-Germany dissent axis. Remember? I later found out Germany was nevertheless involved in minor support missions.
    Thus this legal curiosity:
    page 26-45
    B. The Facts of the Matter and the Outcome of the Case
    The respondent, an army officer in the rank of a major, was subjected to disciplinary proceedings in a military court, inter alia, for refusing to obey an order to participate in the development of a software programme for a military weapons system. This IT-project is aimed at enhancing the efficiency of the German Federal Armed Forces. The respondent did not follow the order of his superiors, arguing that the software could also be used in combat operations in Iraq. The respondent invoked his basic right to freedom of conscience provided by Art. 4, para. 1 of the Grundgesetz (GG – Basic Law).3 The military court found him guilty of malfeasance and demoted him to a captain. He appealed the decision of the military court before the BVerwG,4 which acquitted him.

    I am not particularly fond of your earlier allusions to the Nürnberg trials in this context. Maybe you look up Nürnberg Laws. Complicated issue. But no doubt one that somewhat inspires Humanitarian Intervention.

  26. Yes, John, the wetness behind my ears has only just dried. I wish my body felt that way. I got into that class at jump school because the SGM at my ROTC unit was good friends with the Airborne School SGM. I decided to join ROTC in the Spring of ’73, applied for a 3 year scholarship, started attending a few classes and saw the brochure for jump school in the ROTC office. A SGM to SGM phone call was made and a few weeks later, I had orders, a plane ticket, 4 sets of fatigues and a set of khakis from the local Army surplis store. I didn’t sign any enlistment papers until the following Fall, so I technically wasn’t yet in the Army. I endured all that sweat, sawdust and pushups as a civilian. Went home with my wings, in my khakis and first set of Corcorans.
    I remember when you and Pat discovered you were in the same training platoon. That was just a few years ago wasn’t it? That was an interesting exchange.

  27. Thirdeye says:

    A very quick push to the outskirts of Deir Hafir simultaneously from the northwest and southeast. Hope the Tiger Force can make short work of it so they can go where they’re needed most.

  28. All,
    Those photos I posted have nothing to do with this YPG/SDF operation. They are photos of Peshmerga Special Forces, a commando outfit called the Lexoman Parastin. At least those photos were closer than those photos of mass drops from C-130s.
    Brett McGurk stated that U.S. support consisted of “air movement & strikes, Apache close air support, Marine artillery, & special ops advice and assistance.” It was the YPG/SDF agitating the gravel and closing with the enemy.

  29. Bandolero says:

    Peter AU
    I follow frontline markers on Wikimapia closely, too. I find them very useful. And so I appreciate very much the person or persons who pushed it through against various admins to have Syria frontlines displayed on Wikimapia. And while I often see Wikimapia frontlines being quicker than Al Masdar News, South Front or SANA, the people I follow on Twitter sources are usually quicker. However, sometimes quick means too quick, and some successes reported on Twitter and Al Masdar News proved to be inaccurate and too optimistic later. Take front lines east of Raqqa as an example, which moved slower in some parts than put on Wikimapia.
    Another source of collective internet efforts on Syria frontlines I can recommend is this Syria war map of Wikipedia:
    It’s usually quite up to date regarding hot front lines, and though some quiet front line reversals are “forgotten” for months and years, I found the map to be mostly quick and accurate. And what I find very good is that changes need sources there, so one may look up the given news source for any colour status change.
    But anybody shall be warned to read too much into those maps and colours. For example, I think a lot of places marked “Light Green” there are actually controlled by Al Qaeda, but since there is few – if any – reporting on this, the map doesn’t use the grey colour of Al Qaeda there. And, of course, those maps and its’ colours cannot reflect control by some state’s special forces which deliberately use false flags to mask their true identity.

  30. Stumpy says:

    T-1s were replaced by/alternated with MC1-1s at some point, thus enabling greater chances of mid-air collisions due to higher forward speed, iirc. Mishandling the little steering handles would get you oscillating so bad that you invariably hit the dirt on a downswing. Good times. Best landing, Panama in elephant grass, back when jotc was a thing.
    Yep, I read the reports of air drops with a lot of skepticism. Even at 500′ a planeload of jumpers makes a juicy target. Air drops, indeed.

  31. John Minnerath says:

    Heh, yes it was.
    One of the reasons Pat gets so many visits to this blog must be people wanting to read about some of the antics us crazy old coots did.

  32. turcopolier says:

    Hopeless discussion. goodbye. pl

  33. Jim MacMillan says:

    Dzha Tiror, a counter terror group from the PUK area of Iraqi Kurdistan. But they have been seen in Syria working with the YPG, Manbij in particular.
    Lexoman Parastin is their motto. May translate roughly to ‘Defending Ourselves’ or ‘Self Protection’?

  34. Green Zone Café says:

    The preservation of the parachute course and airborne units is 90% screening for volunteers willing to take risks, get in better physical shape, and adhere to ethos of an elite force, 10% thinking the capability of mass airborne assault is going to be used. Seizing an airfield like Point Salines, maybe. Market Garden II, no.

  35. Pvp says:

    Wondering if the Taqba crossing a pre-emotive block to SAA moving down to DE once cleared Deir Heifa?

  36. Thirdeye says:

    Your knowledge of the situation on September 17, 1939 is wanting. The remnants of the Polish government and army were fleeing to Romania, leaving a power vacuum that was going to be filled by either Germany or the Soviets. The Red Army was under orders not to interfere with the flight to Romania. It would have been a much worse situation for the Polish government and the remnants of their army had they declared war on the Soviets.

  37. Serge says:

    IMO things looking very bad in Hama, even comparing to the 2014 offensive(the last time things got this bad). New fronts being opened up by the hour. Overwhelmingly pre war Christian(pop ~30K) Mahardah not under total HTS siege. Doesn’t bode well

  38. Serge says:

    Sorry for the double post, IMO the SAA was too quick to take the Al Bab bait and move out into the pretty much totally inhabited Aleppo CS to the euphrates. We see now that because of SDF actions this advance has been moot(not to mention that both ISIS and SAA recieved ~a dozen give or take another dozen,casualties in this whole siezure of aleppo CS, an obvious tactical withdrawal on the part of ISIS).and I can’t help but thinking that things like what are happening in Hama wouldn’t be happening with the SAA being overstretched BOTH in aleppo CS and palmyra like this. Palmyra in particular is completely foolish, ISIS is back to its old tricks again, slowly bleeding them dry around the city. Reports of T72s being TOW’d around the city every single day, mass-casualty raids, just yesterday a Syrian Major General was killed along with many troops,and much equipment captured, in an ISIS raid on the eastern outskirts(silos)

  39. Wunduk says:

    I first did not want to dignify Fanto and Heros should do their homework on international law. It is quite insulting to even begin to compare the horrors of Katyn or the Nazi crimes with member states’ legitimate right to self-defense and the UN-mandated fight against ISIL/Daesh and Al-Qaida.
    On the other hand, I have repeatedly seen the silly points on the lacking authorisation by the United Nations Security Council of the Coalition against the Islamic State (ISIL/Daesh in UNese), I appeal to the Colonel to allow the post below, in order to lay this to rest.
    Coalition members active in Syria against Islamic State or the Nusrah Front who are not invited by the host country regularly communicated this to the UN Security Council, in accordance with the right to self-defense pursuant to Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.
    For example, the UK did this starting on 25 November 2014 (S/2014/851), again on 7 September 2015 (S/2015/688), and yet again on 3 December 2015 (S/2015/928).
    In addition to states exerting their right to self-defense, these actions are a response to the call by the Security Council in resolutions 2249 (2015) and 2253 (2015) for “necessary and proportionate measures against ISIL/Daesh in Syria”.
    Other states participating in fighting ISIL did report the exercise of their right to self-defense in accordance with the Charter and relevant resolutions like the UK.
    The Syrian response to the Council on several occasions stressed that this was not a welcome intervention, as it for example destroyed oil facilities beyond reach but that belonged to the SAR, which then resulted in someone (unnamed) cutting the electricity to Deir ez-Zor (e.g. S/2015/949 in early December 2015). Similarly the Syrians also complained about the bombing of some oil facilities in Raqqa (S/2015/1043) at the end of the month. The key sentence in these protest is the stress put to the right to demand “compensation” for damages to SAR property.
    However, the Security Council has not taken a negative view of these interventions, and has not responded directly to the Syrian letters (and they were numerous and claimed very high figures of damages incurred).
    On the contrary, on 18 December 2015 with the passage of resolution 2253 the Security Council designated ISIL/Daesh as a threat to global peace and security, and with the passage of resolution 2254, the Security Council exempted ISIL and the Nusrah Front and other listed terrorist organizations from any cease-fires, and called again as in resolution 2249 for the eradication of safe havens erected on parts of the Syrian territory and stopping the flow of foreign terrorist fighters pursuant to resolution 2178. Resolution 2178 was passed unanimously, with President Obama chairing the SC meeting, and most countries represented at the same level.
    This call went out to all member states, and included from 2015 onwards reminders that decisions by the Security Council are binding to all member states. This was again reaffirmed with resolution 2332 on 21 December 2016.
    In addition, resolution 2332 (2016) notes that in the course of 2016, some territory has been retaken from ISIL/Daesh and assorted Al-Qaida affiliates, including the Al-Nusrah Front. Despite it’s name change in June 2016, the name still appears in the official document of the Council, as the organisation and its members are still listed under that name by the 1267 Cttee. It still states the Council’s determination to jointly address “all aspects of the threat”.
    There was a notification to the Council by the Syrian Democratic Forces (or probably closer: Forces for Democratic Syria) concerning their control over 14% of Syria’s territory in January 2016 (S/2016/3). Their letter was forwarded by the Russian Federation. Again in the course of 2016 the Council did not respond specifically to the letter and did not take up the matter in a decision, as the Council for Democratic Syria is not the member state concerned. But it can be argued that the language used to note the conquest of territory held previously by ISIL/Daesh and assorted groups notes but does not judge on whoever was responsible for this.
    While there is therefore no formal mandate by the United Nations to the activities carried out by several coalition members’ air and ground forces in and over Syria, the exercise of the right of self-defense, reported to the Council is in accordance with the Charter, and the above (exchanges of letters and resolutions) covers what the Coalition and the the Council for a Democratic Syria currently do with almost a “nihil obstat”.

  40. turcopolier says:

    “It is quite insulting to even begin to compare the horrors of Katyn or the Nazi crimes with member states’ legitimate right to self-defense and the UN-mandated fight against ISIL/Daesh and Al-Qaida.” For the benefit of those not familiar with the massacre in the Katyn Forest. The Soviets killed around twenty thousand captured Polish Army officers there and then claimed the Germans had done it. My father had a horror of what the Soviets had done and spoke of it often. I am not interested in sponsoring attacks on what many in the US (including me) see as efforts for “legitimate self defense” in the ME against ALL the jihadi movements. These movements are a threat to us in the West. Yesterday in London should demonstrate that adequately. I was opposed to the US misadventure in Iraq as unnecessary and unrelated to the jihadi menace. Farther than that I will not go in opposing US anti-jihadi efforts and policy. pl

  41. kooshy says:

    Frankly at first I didn’t expect one this year. But I am glad he did it, is a step forward.

  42. LeaNder says:

    Thanks Pat for letting us see comments like the one below. Hugo Grotius? Chickenshit? Or Heros comments above.
    Concerning the German law case or the ruling of the highest court in administrative law over here I referred to above, they sided with the officer, but left many questions unanswered, necessarily. Thus leaving soldiers pretty much alone: Ultimately focusing on, I assume following his lawyer, the question of conscience. Not very helpful for other German soldiers, who risk their job. The verdict seems to have discussed “Preemptive War” … not surprising. And the right to self-defense.
    Page 39, pdf file, link above:
    II. Seven Grounds for Insubordination
    The grounds for the careful reasoning of the BVerwG may lie, apart from a possible general exercise of judicial self-restraint, in the severe consequences that are at stake. According to the German constitution, partaking in an illegal war in terms of international law may not only have to face the verdict of unconstitutionality, but
    could also trigger criminal liability for the members of government and other actors involved. The BVerwG indeed identified this problem when it addressed whether the respondent was entitled to refuse to obey orders of a superior. The Court developed seven grounds which could, under German law, justify or even render mandatory such conduct:
    (i) The military order violates the right to human dignity as provided for in Art. 1, para. 1 GG,
    (ii) The order is given for purposes outside the ambit of the military service a soldier is obliged to render,51
    (iii) Following the order would result in the commitment of a crime,
    (iv) The order is not binding for other reasons, such as following it is objectively impossible, is contradicting in terms or has become moot for a change of facts,
    (v) Giving the order or obeying it had to be qualified as an act which is “tending to and undertaken with intent to disturb the peaceful relations between nations, especially to prepare for a war of aggression” 52 and, hence, being unconstitutional,
    (vi) The order is in variance of the general rules of public international law pursuant to Art. 25 GG,53 or
    (vii) The order is unreasonable upon balancing all relevant facts and
    The BVerwG failed to answer the question whether any of the above mentioned grounds for insubordination were present.55

    It also refers to an earlier case against chancler Schröder and the government:
    On 21 March 2003, one day after the war in Iraq began, the German Attorney-General at the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH – Federal Court of Justice (“Generalbundesanwalt beim Bundesgerichtshof”), issued a press release.56 The Attorney-General, upon a complaint received, stated that there were no sufficient grounds for prosecuting the German Chancellor, other members of the German government or third parties, for committing the crime of preparing for a war of aggression in terms of Section 80 of the Strafgesetzbuch (StGB – German Criminal Code).57 The BVerwG referred to this decision of the Attorney-General, but did not further elaborate on it.58 However, the judgement of the BVerwG and the decision by the Attorney-General not to prosecute are not contradictory. The Attorney- General denied that the decision of the German Federal Government to undertake AWACS surveillance flights resulted in a crime in terms of Section 80 StGB for two reasons: first, the Attorney-General qualified such flights as mere failure to prevent an armed attack from occurring on the part of the German Federal Government. As the Attorney-General argues, this act of omission as such makes the members of the German Federal Government not liable for prosecution.
    Closer to home:

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    He is too late.
    And then how is he squaring this with his designation of Iranian people as potential terrorists in his executive orders?

  44. kooshy says:

    Yet, better late than never, one thing for sure, in this country, with all political forces united against Iran’ revolution and her independent posture, if you are not designated or act as an anti Iran politician, you will not be able to govern and or survive. In my estimation, this and the coming US administrations will not be able to change this policy on Iran for this and next coming decade.

  45. Colonel – I think this correspondence is now closed but nevertheless I hope you will allow me to comment – I’ve been on a slow burn ever since I first saw this issue raised.
    What is the issue raised? That the resources of many Western countries have been put to wrong use and this has resulted in much death and destruction. Who is responsible and how can they be held to account? That is the question Mr “Heros” and others are attempting to answer.
    First of all we can in practice forget about seeking to apply international law. However good the intentions of the lawyers, those good intentions result in travesties like the Nurnberg trials or slow witch hunts such as those conducted in The Hague. And although law applied unequally is still law, we can’t hope for much from a system of international law that, to take only one case at random – let’s take Mr Blair as a good one – allows a person who has clearly behaved recklessly, and whose reckless behaviour has contributed to so much wrong, to escape scot free. We could maybe attempt to propound a system of international law that would dispense justice in such cases but we clearly haven’t got one today so there’s no remedy there.
    The law failing us we could attempt to work from first principles. We the People tell the politicians what to do, they tell the military apparatus. We the people are all of us therefore responsible, together with the politicians who carry out our instructions.
    But then you get bogged down in a multiplicity of qualifications. What is the case when the people don’t know what the politicians are doing? When the people don’t control the politicians? When the politicians are incompetent but well meaning? Or some are but others are incompetent but reckless?
    Sort that lot out. You can’t. We’re untouchable, and Mr Blair and his like must go free because the law can’t deal with him and there’s no safe and indisputable line of reasoning that allows us to say “Make him pay anyway.” The responsibility cannot be fixed accurately on any one person or group of persons and there is therefore no day of reckoning possible.
    For many of us that’s deeply unsatisfactory. Entire countries have been wrecked and there’s not so much as a slap on the wrist for anyone. The temptation is to search around for somebody, anybody, we can blame, and at least have some feeling that these great tragedies have not gone unmarked and unpunished. Let’s find someone to fix the responsibility on.
    Failing we the people or the politicians, there is therefore a temptation to hold the military responsible. They should have know that what they were doing was wrong. They should have refused to do it.
    I have never heard such utter nonsense. How far down is this supposed responsibility supposed to go? Senior officers? Platoon level? Or is each individual soldier supposed to undertake an intensive course in international politics and ethics before he so much as picks up his weapon? Is he supposed not only to fight for us, but to decide for us where and how? This is vicious nonsense and merely serves to allow us to shove the responsibility away from us and our dysfunctional political system and on to the easiest scapegoat we can find.
    But the fact that there is no clear straight line of responsibility to be found anywhere, and no way of acting on it if we could find it, does not mean that there is no responsibility. In an unformulated and scarcely traceable way we do have to come back to each individual of we the people. The law can’t touch us and nor can logic but, at the very least, all of us were around when the tragedies were being played out. Where was I when neo-nazis were being egged on in the Ukraine? Too busy looking after my own affairs so don’t blame me. Where were so many bien pensant Americans when the Jihadis were being fed through Turkey? Too busy fussing about transgender bathrooms so don’t blame them. Before we attempt to fix responsibility on the nearest scapegoat we should take a harder look at ourselves.

  46. fanto says:

    you are correct that polish government fled and was in disarray – but this is my point, that it should have at least declare what was obvious, whether they had done it from Warsaw or from Romania. My point is that Stalin was stickler to words – he did not even declare war on Poland on 09/17/1939 – he merely declared to polish ambassador that ‘Polish state ceased to exist’, so there was no state of war.światowa
    (the Wikipedia in English, French, German, and Russian does not mention that in chapters on WW2)
    It is impossible to know what would have happened to those polish officers in Stalins hands, in case there was officially state of war, but it could not have been any worse. The basis for the executions in Katyn and other sites was explained by their alleged ‘counterrevolutionary’ activies. (letter from Beria to Stalin March 5, 1940 – cited from p.476 in “Special Tasks” by Pavel Sudoplatov, Little Brown and Company,1994).
    I am not equivocating the USA to Stalin’s USSR in my taking sides with Heros, I must make it clear.
    As Colonel notices below that any further discussion is unnecessary, I will leave it at that.

  47. fanto says:

    As I have said in my reply to Thirdeye, I am not equivocating USA to USSR. I am a stickler to words, like Stalin. So, compare me to Stalin.
    You mentioned ‘compensation’ – (“The key sentence in these protest is the stress put to the right to demand “compensation” for damages to SAR property.”)
    This is exactly an example a propos the situation which occurred after the polish government missed to state that it found itself in state of war with the USSR. Poland forfeited any right to compensations, in my understanding. I am not a scholar of international law, so please educate me. LeaNder seems to know a lot about it also. The loss of Poland’s eastern territories and the compensation of that loss with the Germany’s eastern territories (at a net loss for Poland, the only ‘victorious’ party in that war which lost territory!) also could have been made much more difficult for Stalin to accomplish, if Poland was officially in state of war with USSR.

  48. Thomas says:

    “Before we attempt to fix responsibility on the nearest scapegoat we should take a harder look at ourselves.”
    How about going after the actual culprits? You know, the civilians that authorized the actions? Start with MH-Seventeen, why did the Ukrainian civil authority allow an airliner carrying passengers cross their territory while conducting active air operations during the conflict? With your fellow citizens being among the victims, demand the proof that the accused are guilty and have the current civilians in charge of your government display the radar and communication logs with no excuse for State Secrecy.
    “Where was I when neo-nazis were being egged on in the Ukraine?”
    Some of us were paying attention and have agreed that they aren’t Neo- Nazis, they are the originals’ descendants.

  49. Jim MacMillan says:

    The quote attributed to Cyrus is fictionalized. It comes from a historical novel/self help book written by Larry Hedrick a former Air Force Officer. Hedrick’s book is an imaginary study of Cyrus as a Corporate CEO.
    The achievements of Cyrus, who was indeed a great king, do not need to be faked and fabricated. And the President needs to hire a speechwriter who knows the difference between truth and fiction.

  50. turcopolier says:

    Jim MacMillan
    IMO, as I have said, his problem is that he instinctively thinks he I BSing a business deal and is not well educated enough to tell the difference. pl

  51. Thirdeye says:

    The PGIE declared war on the Soviet Union while they were based in Paris in December 1939. With a stroke of a pen they changed the status of the Polish officers caught in the east from internees, which the Soviet Union was obligated to detain under neutrality with Germany, to prisoners of war. That bonehead move may have contributed to what happened an Katyn in the following months and it certainly made the PGIE a long shot for participating in any postwar settlement that the Soviet Union would be a party to.
    When Stalin said that the Polish state ceased to exist, it was not a decree but a statement of fact. The Polish state had disintegrated and the remnants of their central government were fleeing.

  52. I agree fully – I think it very likely that sending aircraft over a known danger zone was a criminal act. Likely enough for at the least a case to be brought. So where’s the trial?
    There isn’t going to be one. Realpolitik as we in the West have been practising it is incompatible with any genuinely effective system of international law.
    If we did have such a system, the most scrupulous judge would have great difficulty in apportioning blame for the various Western interventionist adventures.
    Who’s more to blame, the man who thoughtlessly chucks a brick over a hedge or the man who advises him to do it knowing that the brick might land on someone’s head? Mr Blair, who helped set in motion a disaster but who I would guess wasn’t capable of envisioning the consequences, or some adviser in the background who knew full well what the consequences might be? Mrs Clinton, who from what I’ve seen seems to be little more than an unwitting dummy? Or those officials who pointed the dummy where they wanted it to go? Pity the judge asked to sort that lot out; and we know full well in any case that no judge is going to get asked.
    My point is simple enough. There’s no sheriff to ride into town and put all to rights; we shouldn’t blame the military for what we send them to do; and we should at least to some extent blame ourselves for what we let the politicians do.
    On your point – “Some of us were paying attention and have agreed that they aren’t Neo-Nazis, they are the originals’ descendants.” – my own impression is that speaking of continental Europe generally populations of cradle Nazis are mainly to be found in Galicia and Croatia, while neo-Nazis in other areas are converts or mixed. I’d welcome further information. If one Russian site I’ve seen recently is anything to go by, whatever they are they’re now being imported into Belarus and perhaps you will know if that’s just a scare or whether something is brewing there.

  53. All,
    I’ve seen reports that the YPG/SDF have taken the Tabqa dam and that Tabqa city is also in their hands. The YPG Press Office has put out photos of Kurds with SDF arm patches standing on the dam so I’d take that as confirmation of that part of the claim.
    There are also claims that the YPG commando outfit was involved in the initial assault. Photos of these commandos show standard special operator kit with YPG arm patches. Sounds plausible to me.
    When this is all over, we better study the hell out these bastards. They’re certainly doing something right. Erdogan is right to be scared shitless of these guys and gals.

  54. Thirdeye says:

    The territories Poland lost were portions of the Ukraine and Belarus seized in the 1918-21 wars against the West Ukrainian and Ukrainian republics and the Soviet Union. The territories they gained were lower Silesia and a chunk of East Prussia, which were of much more economic benefit to the Polish nation than the territories they lost. The territorial settlements under the Yalta framework were not cause for Poland to complain.

  55. Thirdeye says:

    The Deir Hafir – Maskanah route is not the most direct way to get to Deir Ezzor. The SDF move at Taqba actually cuts a major route between Raqqa and Maskanah, putting ISIS in Maskanah in a very bad position against the SAA.

  56. fanto says:

    yes, yes
    Third eye,
    Poland was very happy about that, because this is now a subject of german jaundiced eye that Germany lost their lebensraum (irony alert) – and this will be a problem between Germany and Poland for generations to come. If you go to 1918-19 and the fact that Poland did not exist on the map since 1795, you need to agree that one has to get started somewhere with new borders – look at Israel, after thousands of years they got their country and they are still negotiating about their borders with their neighbors.

  57. Kooshy says:

    Thank you for your reply, about the Cyrus quote, and hiring better educated speechwriters, yes you are correct. But nevertheless, IMO, the importance of making an statement on this ocassion was it’s symbolic nature of greeting Iranian Americans, as well as Iranian and other people who celebrate Nouroz. No Iranian will care, or expect, the president of US to be an scholar of Iranian history,symbolically this may give the a small hope he doesn’t start or threaten them with more wars.

  58. fanto says:

    English Outsider,
    I agree totally with yours “Realpolitik as we in the West have been practicing it is incompatible with any genuinely effective system of international law.”. This is what ‘stickler’ to the word such as Heros and myself do not understand and get called names.
    This discussion is interesting , but I do not want to abuse the hospitality of our host – and will shut up.

  59. Peter AU says:

    ISIS also left Deir Hafer without a fight. Also read some of the ISIS fighters are heading from Deir Ezzor to Raqqa which if true will ease the situation there somewhat.
    All going for their Armageddon at Raqqa?

  60. Peter AU says:

    The US have not wanted the Iraqi Kurds taking part in the assault on Mosul as it is a Sunni Arab city.
    I see in the last sentence in this article at southfront, the US is trucking in the Iraqi Kurds for the assault on the Sunni Arab city of Raqqa?

  61. Jim MacMillan says:

    The PUK in Iraq and the PYD in Syria have long been allies. Those PUK associated Counter Terror Group commandos, Dzha Tiror, have been in Syria fighting with their YPG SOF counterparts for a while now. Probably since Kobani? They don’t need American transport.

  62. Serge says:

    Situation of Deir Hafer extremely murkey. Apparently SAA has not entered it yet due to fear of mines/IEDs and has only assumed that ISIS has fled without a fight.

  63. Paveway IV says:

    The earth-fill dam is three miles wide, TG. The Kurds are on the extreme north end – nothing but flood gates and a spillway. They moved in after the US leveled everything potentially threatening on the north bank and the little piece of dry land to the west.,38.567185,8570m/data=!3m1!1e3
    No way they could have continued moving south along the top of the dam without getting a few holes in them. Zero evidence so far that SDF is any further along the dam than that. Yeah, it’s a start, but they hardly have ‘seized the dam’ at this point.
    The hydro plant and structures inside the dam (still?) housing ISIS are on the south end of the dam and further defended by hills on that bank. It will be most interesting to see how JSOC plans on taking the dam itself even if they get all the way through al Tabqa to The First Quarter (next to the dam) or the electric switch yards up in the hills. The U.S. has been careful to avoid bombing that end of the dam – everything has been happening on the north end (disclaimer: ‘as reported on social media’).
    Nobody knows for certain, but ISIS has long claimed that they have the dam wired to blow if they think they will lose it. I have no doubt they will eventually be defeated militarily and lose Tabqa, but I can’t see how the US/SDF can possibly keep them from destroying the dam. There are a maze of tunnels inside and most of the hydro plant is underground. Plenty of places inside to retreat to even if the admin buildings on the top of the dam are taken.
    ISIS has been reportedly (in that social media sort of way) moving people in Raqqa out of the low lying areas. ISIS knows the dam and Raqqa are finished, so it’s hard to believe they would simply hand it over to the US/SDF (or even Assad for that matter). ISIS has also claimed ‘high value’ prisoners (westerners) are jailed in the dam – yet another reason for a scorched-earth withdrawal, as they are hardly going to bus them somewhere else.
    Depending on what part and how the dam could be blown, it may not be the worst-case 100′ wall of water scenario. They could just wreck the gates or turbines and cause a lot of water to flow out, but more like a large, sustained flood than a tsunami. It took something like four years to fill the reservoir, so even a big slow leak could last until next year. Turkey currently has stopped all flow to the Syrian Euphrates and the reservoir is low right now, but that’s still six million or so acre-feet of water.
    Aleppo would lose their water if reservoir levels dropped a few more meters. Tishrin could produce some electricity, but not nearly enough to make up for Tabqa. There’s nothing else close on the Syrian grid, so no power for a year or so in Hasaka and Raqqa if the dam is gone. All irrigated land on either side of Lake Assad and all the Euphrates flood plain farmlands to Dier EzZor would be lost for the summer.
    The dam will have to be taken. I just hope those guys are really, really careful about taking it from the Captagon-fueled head-choppers. Let’s just say there’s pleny of opportunity for this to go south real quick for the Syrians regardless of how well the military ops. part goes.

  64. Paveway IV,
    Thanks for that clarification and detailed explanation. It will be quite interesting to see what the jihadis will do in the next few days on that dam. It certainly won’t be as easy as the seizure of Tishrin Dam appeared to be.

  65. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Bismarck did Realpolitik, FDR could do that. But what I see in the Western Fortress is not Realpolitik, it is something akin to King Lear level of politics.
    In what manner can one attribute or otherwise Justify as Realpolitik what transpired in Kosovo or in Libya – leaving Iraq out for the moment?
    Or Ukraine?

  66. Shad says:

    The second images the KRG counter terrorist units it is from the iraqi Kurdistan

  67. Thomas says:

    “My point is simple enough. There’s no sheriff to ride into town and put all to rights; we shouldn’t blame the military for what we send them to do; and we should at least to some extent blame ourselves for what we let the politicians do.”
    BS. There is a chain of command for a reason, both civil and military.
    The Ukrainian Government shot down that plane and it was covered up by oh so poor “Real Politik” can’t be held accountable western leaders. But it is easy to prove me wrong by having NATO provide the public the radar and communication logs to bolster the perception managed narrative that rebels shot it down. Notice how the Malaysians are quiet on this? I wonder why? Could it be that the Russians have already proved it to them in private? It would explain a certain State Dept official’s performance art quality meltdown in Kaliningrad.
    Got keep that truth in the dark, don’t want despicable deplorable masses to know what their masters are doing.

  68. Jim MacMillan says:

    Tabqa Airbase reportedly liberated:
    Also gives SDF control of over 20 klicks of M4 highway blocking Daesh in Maskanah from reinforcing Raqqa. And it puts those Daeshis in a vise between SAA forces pushing east on M4 and the SDF block at Tabqa.

  69. Jim MacMillan says:

    Daesh propaganda outlet, Amaq News Agency, suggests Tabqa Dam failing. Seems they might blow it up in a false flag op and blame it on the coalition?

  70. Pundita says:

    Re Jim MacMillan’s comment 12:52 PM 3/26:
    Looks like Al Mayadeen also reporting on trouble at the dam:
    Sputnik (19:44 – 26.03.2017 updated 20:05):
    “Syria’s Biggest Dam Partially Collapses Due to SDF-Daesh Fight Near Raqqa”
    DAMASCUS (Sputnik) — Tabqa Dam, which functions primarily as a hydropower plant, suspended service after its control center was damaged by what could have been an airstrike or shelling, a source told Lebanese broadcaster Al Mayadeen, adding that technical experts could not reach the site due to continuing fighting in the area.
    However, Sputnik report also features tweets from RT reporter Lizzie Phelan (RT itself isn’t covering the story):
    Lizzie Phelan @LizziePhelan
    1. SDF spox Tilal Silo: International coalition didn’t strike #Tabqa dam, no damage to it. Air drops of fighters were made to avoid this…
    2. Now only fighting on the ground, no airstrikes. Liberation of dam is slow because we want to avoid damaging it. #Raqqa #Syria
    12:38 PM – 26 Mar 2017
    Sputnik doesn’t mention Al Mayadeen’s source.

  71. The Beaver says:
    It’s believed there are closer to 6,000 Americans in Iraq, not including this new deployment. Nearly 1,000 more are on the ground inside Syria, where several hundred additional personnel arrived in recent weeks to bolster allied forces targeting the city of Raqqa, which ISIS considers its capital. The Pentagon is reportedly weighing plans to send upwards of another 1,000 troops there.
    If those plans bear out, the U.S. would have closer to 10,000 military personnel on the ground for a mission officials continue to call advisory.

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