View Full Version : Syria in 2018-2019

12-26-2017, 05:20 PM
A new thread prepared for 2018. The previous Syria thread was:Syria in 2017 (April-December) (http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/Syria in 2017 (April-December)) this had 554 posts and 70.6k views.

01-10-2018, 01:31 PM
Russian military forces at the Hmeymim air base and the Tartus logistics center in Syria came under attack by what appears to have been a swarm of drones. Some thirteen small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) made the attack, six of which were diverted by Russian electronic warfare systems while seven additional aircraft were dispatched by Pantsir-S1 air defense batteries.
"During the hours of darkness Russian air defense facilities made clear 13 remoted unknown small-sized air targets approaching the Russian military assets,” the Russian Defense Ministry told the TASS news agency. “Ten combat UAVs were approaching Russia’s Hmeymim air base and three more - the logistics center of Tartus."


01-12-2018, 09:11 AM
With Russia, Iran, and Assadists not respecting earlier agreements, seems Erdo felt free to re-start supplying insurgents in Idlib. Correspondingly, Sources - #Turkey has provided new supplies of: (https://twitter.com/Charles_Lister/status/951453257305591808)

- Turkish armored vehicles
- SALW ammo
- RPGs
- Mortars
- Grad rockets & launchers
- Tank shells
& more…

… To all major non-#HTS factions:

Major new offensive is underway today in S #Idlib & N #Hama, involving:

- Ahrar al-Sham
- Faylaq al-Sham
- Nour al-Din al-Zinki
- Free Idlib Army
- Jaish al-Nasr
- 2nd Army
- Jaish al-Izzeh

...for the express purpose of today’s new offensive vs. #Assad/#Iran/#Russia.

So far, 16+ villages have been recaptured by the #Turkey-backed offensive in S. #Idlib & N. #Hama.

Several of these villages were recently lost by #HTS, which has been excluded from the counter-offensive.


BTW, N. #Latakia: reports several rockets fired by Rebels were intercepted near #Russia|n Khmeimim Airbase. (https://twitter.com/QalaatAlMudiq/status/946003780046344193?s=07)

...Assadists have meanwhile withdrawn nearly all of their forces from northern Hama, and re-deployed them in Eastern Ghouta, where they are suffering massive casualties (again): 188 reported govt deaths since 11/14. 49 officers KIA. Total deaths likely reach 300 (https://twitter.com/GregoryPWaters/status/951594772778700806).

...ah yes: and here some more 'evidence' for 'increased use of PGMs by the Russians' (https://twitter.com/QalaatAlMudiq/status/951486858130796544), and, I guess, their effectivenes... :twisted:

01-12-2018, 09:15 AM
An Israeli think tank on the recent drone attacks on Russian military forces at the Hmeymim air base and the Tartus logistics center. With a few photos.

01-12-2018, 11:53 AM
Ah well: while there is a general tendence in the USA to buy everything the Israelis claim (then 'Israelis know everything better, they are our friends, and they never lie...' ...cough, cough...), I would say it's at least 'worth considering' that there are alternative ideas in regards of culprits for such attacks.

One of these is that it's the IRGC that's staging such attacks (http://nedaa-sy.com/en/news/3547).


Provoking Russians, spoiling negotiations etc.

If so, these attacks were highly successful: the VKS is meanwhile back to bombing the crap out of insurgent-controlled Idlib.

01-13-2018, 07:06 AM
Further to the topic Who Really Attacked Russia’s Air Base in Syria? (https://warisboring.com/who-really-attacked-russias-air-base-in-syria/):

...In 1989, Syrian helicopter gunships fired on a Soviet cruiser near the port city of Latakia, killing two sailors. The motive remains unclear to this day. David W. Lesch, an American historian of Syria who struck up a friendship with Bashar Al Assad, speculated in Foreign Policy magazine that Bashar’s father Hafez Al Assad may have approved the attack as a bloody message to Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev, who was warming up to the West and urging Assad to make peace with Israel.

Remember, this occurred when the Soviet Union and Syria were close, Cold War friends — or, perhaps, more like frenemies.

With Bashar unwilling to make any serious compromise in today’s Syria, following his series of Russian-backed battlefield victories across the country, this precedent may yet prove relevant — if not now, then in the months or years ahead as the interests between Moscow and Damascus diverge.

“Whatever the reason, that [1989] incident, now largely forgotten, revealed in dramatic fashion the complexity of the relationship between Syria and Russia over the decades,” Lesch wrote.

01-21-2018, 09:51 AM
From my armchair a good explanation of what is the situation in Afrin, NW Syria; an area controlled by the Kurdish YPG, but cut off from the main YPG enclave along the Turkish border.

The map is from the BBC's report:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42759944

01-24-2018, 11:31 AM
Another backgrounder on the Afrin pocket by a SME via the BBC and rather brutally ends with:
Whatever the future holds for Afrin, one side's dream is likely to be the other's nightmare.

01-24-2018, 03:09 PM
From my armchair a good explanation of what is the situation in Afrin, NW Syria; an area controlled by the Kurdish YPG, but cut off from the main YPG enclave along the Turkish border.It's the largest area clearly controlled by the PKK.

Of course, the latter is appearing under the 'PYD/YPG' banner...

The Turkish military operation against the Efrin enclave was a matter of time; really expected 'since years'. There was never any kind of a doubt that Turkey would attack: question was only when, and under what circumstances.

As a reminder: the PKK/PYD/YPG-conglomerate is dominated by the PKK, an organisation considered ‘terrorist’ by all of the NATO (http://en.people.cn/200512/20/eng20051220_229424.html), by the USA (https://web.archive.org/web/20080215104313/http:/www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/fs/2002/12535.htm), and at war with Turkey since more than 30 years. The PKK/PYD/YPG-conglomerate continues to consider Turkey as its primary enemy. Regardless of the nature and politics of its government, as a nation-state, Turkey has a vital-interest in neutralising the PKK’s control over any areas along its borders.

Secondary reason for this operation seems to be the Turkish conclusion that the latest Russian and Iranian operations against Turkey-supported Syrian insurgents in northern Hama, Idlib and southern Aleppo provinces are violating earlier agreements between Ankara, Moscow and Tehran.

Finally, Turkey has another national security interest – which is to prevent the intake of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Syria. Because the latest Iranian and Russian offensives have created a movement of thousands of refugees in direction of the Turkish border, Ankara was forced to search for alternatives. Wrestling the control of the Efrin enclave from the PKK/PYD/YPG conglomerate would enable Turks to harbour additional refugees in that zone instead inside Turkey.

BTW, the propaganda machinery of the PKK/PYD/YPG conglomerate is already in tears. For example: the WP published the article ‘We’re trying to build democracy in Syria. So why is Turkey attacking us (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2018/01/22/were-trying-to-build-democracy-in-syria-so-why-is-turkey-attacking-us/?utm_term=.4152b1ef1603)?’

While declared ‘pluralist’ and ‘tolerant’ by most of the Western media, the PKK/PYD/YPG-conglomerate not only never distanced from its violently authoritarian history, but is showing clear intentions to continue ruling parts of Syria under its control in the very same fashion. Contrary to the widespread practice of uncritical forwarding of the PKK/PYD propaganda by the international media, the group has shown no intention to establish anything like a pluralist, democratic system of rule in the areas it controls. On the contrary, it made itself responsible of widespread atrocities and violations of human rights (https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/syria0614_kurds_ForUpload.pdf), such war crimes like ethnic cleansing of the Arab population (https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-releases/2015/10/syria-us-allys-razing-of-villages-amounts-to-war-crimes/), intimidation and executions (http://en.etilaf.org/all-news/local-news/european-center-for-kurdish-studies-pyd-human-rights-violations-in-syria-reach-new-heights.html) of other Syrian Kurdish leaders and their political parties, forceful recruitment and similar.

Foremost its online fans insist on terming the Kurdish militants controlling the Efrin enclave as ‘SDF (https://twitter.com/Amercans4YPG/status/955595875274907648)’ – i.e. as a part of the US-run ‘Syrian Democratic Force’, acclaimed as ‘the most effective anti-IS force in Syria’. Even the Deutsche Welle (http://www.dw.com/en/opinion-turkey-attacking-the-most-effective-anti-is-force-in-syria/a-42264619) claims ‘Turkey (is) attacking the most effective anti-IS force in Syria’.

The PKK/PYD/YPG militants controlling the Efrin enclave are no ‘SDF’: they have never received any kind of support from the Pentagon, nor were ever a part of the CENTCOM-controlled command structure of the SDF. Unsurprisingly, when directly challenged about this issue, the Pentagon clearly stated (https://www.dailysabah.com/syrian-crisis/2018/01/16/us-doesnt-support-ypgpyd-elements-in-syrias-afrin-pentagon-says/amp?__twitter_impression=true):

‘We don’t consider them as part of our Defeat ISIS operations, which is what we are doing there. We do not support them, we are not involved with them at all.’

And finally: no matter what they babble, neither the PKK, nor PYD or YPG are anything like 'representatives of all the Kurds'. I.e. Turkey is not 'attacking Kurds' in the Efrin enclave, but a terrorist organisation.

01-26-2018, 11:40 AM
A bleak, short overview of the Syrian war by Professor Scott Lucas, Birmingham University; who ends with:
The agenda for 2018 looks like more of the same. Bombing and shelling, including of civilians. Sieges, starvation, and deaths from treatable medical conditions. A Russian-backed disinformation campaign to smear medics and rescuers as puppets of both al-Qaeda and the US. Political gatherings which yield little more than platitudes. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

01-27-2018, 06:04 AM
The Turkish-Insurgent offensive on the Efrin enclave is bogged down in mud...

...while the People lacking fresh air (the Pentagon) and the Keystone Cops in Moscow (Russian MOD) are now at verbal odds with each other. Newest episode in this soap opera is one from the first group thinking he could brag as cited here (http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/16470/b-52s-are-dropping-hundreds-of-dumb-bombs-in-afghanistan-to-literally-shape-the-terrain):

...“The Russian ministry of defense statements are about as accurate as their air campaign [in Syria],” U.S. Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, a spokesman for the American-led coalition fighting ISIS, said earlier in November 2017 after the Kremlin accused the United States of supporting the terrorists in Iraq and Syria. “I think that is a reason for them to start, you know, coming out with their latest barrage of lies.”

Problem is: the VKS' campaign in Syria might be incredibly inprecise (guess, it would be considered a total failure by the Pentagon), BUT: it is supported by more effective politics than the Pentagon could ever imagine.

02-05-2018, 04:00 PM
To recapitulate the last few days, or slightly more...

- On 11 November 2017, Putin announced a 'withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria'.

- Thus, and ever since, the VKS (Russian Air-Space Force) is 'not' flying up to 70 sorties a day in support of the IRGC-run offensive on eastern Idlib.

- This offensive 'did not' force up to 300,000 Syrian civilians to flee in direction of the Turkish border.

- The last few days, few of VKS Su-25s 'did not' become notorious for attacking refugee treks moving in direction from Sarqib towards Turkey, and massacring dozens.

No. These were 'anti-terror operations against IGIL-controlled Sarqib'.

(Of course, there's no 'IGIL' - aka IS, i.e. Daesh - anywhere around 50km from Sarqib: there is a big concentration of them in southern Aleppo, but they are, really, NOT bombed by the Russians.)

- And it so happened, that one of the Russian Su-25 pilots passed over what Sputnik declared a 'de-militarised zone', and didn't know he might be fired upon - and that only seconds after unleashing a load of S-8 unguided rockets from his B-8M pods at another civilian vehicle.

Sounds logical so far: unarmed civilians tend not to shoot back.

Alas... and so 'terribly tragically' (play the national anthem of the Soviet Union in the background while reading the following)... so really in best traditions of 'Russian-tragedy', the Su-25SM Bort 06 (RF-95486), flown by geroic Major Roman Filipov, then got blasted out of the skies by insurgents of Jaysh an-Nasir (FSyA).


Now: Filipov dully ejected and did so over the place named Ma'asaran, some 3-4km south of Sarqib. While Sarqib is HTS-controlled, Ma'asaran is held by the Jaysh an-Nasir.

Once on the ground, Filipov came down right next to the wreckage of his aircraft - and a bunch of women and children screaming after being attacked by him, only seconds before (one can hear their screams in the full version of the video posted above). Thus he (now switch the music to Lenin Funeral March, please) - geroically killed himself with a hand-grenade - 'in order to avoid being captured and beheaded', 'of course'.


The latter variant is not the least nifty. No, no. It so happens the Keystone Cops in Moscow, and thus their clowns at Hmemmem AB, cannot know that Ma'asaran is held by the Jaysh an-Nasir, and not by the HTS. I.e. who is in control of the place their Su-25s are rocketing since days - which in turn indicates they are either:

a) complete, and definitely confirmed idiots, indeed a worst sort of thugs with illusions of grandeur, entirely wrong in place and time, or

b) cynical arseholes who are all the time intentionally targeting everybody else - foremost Civilians, and Syrian insurgents fighting against Assadists and the IRGC - JUST NOT JIHADISTS.

Ah yes, and BTW: guess by what was Filipov shot down?

By a 9K38 Strela, aka SA-18 MANPAD. Exactly the kind of which the Russians provided to the PKK, so this shot down a Turkish AH-1W, last year in May, and which the Syrian insurgents fighting on the TSK's side against the PKK/PYD/YPG-conglomerate in the Efrin canton, reportedly captured a few days ago.

...and of course, in revenge for the downing of their pilot (then, you know: it's very, very, very unfair - indeed: a war crime - to shot down a Russian pilot that's massacring civilians since days, and that - imagine! - at war!), the Russians are bombing every single hospital in that part of the Idlib province...


Now isn't this an 'amazing series of coincidences'... :rolleyes:

EDIT: ...or not at all. Guess, Putin considers that Su-25 for 'trully withdrawn from Syria'. At least 'one less to fly all the way back'...

02-08-2018, 09:55 AM
Another brief summary of what's going on in Syria the last few days...

The Russians have negotiated that 'distribution of Idlib' with Turkey, but at the same time supported the IRGC assault on Idlib. The IRGC then attacked Turks, Turks returned fire. The entire nonsense caused 300,000 additional Syrians to flee in direction of the Turkish border....

Now, what did the Russians to expect: the Turks to simply accept what's going on?

...and as next, the Russians then 'let' Assadists and the IRGC assault the US-supported PKK/PYD/YPG/SDF-conglomerate...

...either because Keystone Cops 'suspect' the USA have provided 'Stingers' to HTS, or because it's actually so that the Russians have no control over the IRGC...

...man, alone typing this all hurts: this is such mindblowing, absurd nonsense I'm really lacking words...

Ah well, the titles about the outcome are speaking for themselves:

- US-led Coalition says Assad regime forces today attacked the SDF headquarters in Syria. Coalition service members, probably US special forces were present during the attack Coalition repelled the attack by conducting air strikes (https://twitter.com/ragipsoylu/status/961366428355002368)

- [Details] US Led Coalition kill an estimated 100 SAA troops (https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/07/syria-military-strikes-329658)

- According to a #SDF commander the US airforce has destroyed more than 20 #SAA vehicles, among them 9 tanks and killed more than 30 #SAA soldiers in northern #DeirEzzor today. (https://twitter.com/Ozkok_/status/961489649649807360?s=07)


Re. downed Su-25.... (once again, I've got to return to this topic, and ignore all the massacres of civilians committed by Assadists and Russians ever since)....

The shot down occurred around 15.00hrs local time (think it was 14.45 or something, actually).

The first video of the downing was published by Jaysh an-Nasr and showed the right engine on fire: https://video.twimg.com/ext_tw_video/959802786530693120/pu/vid/640x360/m2L9S4GMshSKJTM3.mp4

This claim was forwarded by some of mainstream-media (example: Businessinsider: http://www.businessinsider.de/syrian-rebels-reportedly-shoot-down-russian-su-25-pilot-unkown-2018-2?r=US&IR=T), and and even by such Assadist propaganda-platforms like 'al-Masdar News’ (https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/rebel-group-claims-shot-russian-aircraft-executed-pilot-video/).

About one hour later, the Keystone Cops in Moscow announced the loss, and credited the HTS with it. Immediately afterwards, the 'Eba'a News Agency' - the HTS' news agency - claimed the kill for the HTS.

...and then 'everybody jumped the train': all the mainstream-media claimed the kill for the HTS...

...and now nobody cares if it was the Jaysh an-Nasr that forwarded pilot's body to Turkey, which then returned it to Moscow...

That's all 'perfectly logical': after all, why should anybody trouble himself explaining Jaysh an-Nasr - especially in reports where there is rarely more space than 1-2 sentences to do so? It's much easier to claim 'HTS', then everybody knows what is the HTS. Besides, 'they are all terrorists there, alone because they yell Allah-u-Akbar'...

There's no more sophisticated way of finding out who's a terrorist and who is none... :roll:

02-08-2018, 10:34 AM
Wait, wait, wait, wait... this is getting ever better and better.

Now, the glorious, non-biased, absolutely neutral German media is getting involved in this affair. The MSM forwards the Deutsche-Welle-report originally titled The USA Attacked pro-Assad Combatants (https://www.msn.com/de-at/nachrichten/chronik/us-militr-attackiert-pro-syrische-kmpfer/ar-BBIQvwm?ocid=spartanntp) (title was meanwhile changed to 'pro-Syria combatants') :D

Guess, the journo writing this means that the US mind-controlled 'pro-Syrian combatants' into attacking the area controlled by the US-supported PKK/PYD/YPG/SDF-conglomerate, so the USA could then 'attack'... :D

Man, I'm surprised it was the Deutsche Welle that came out with such a title: this is rather worth Der Spiegel.

- Ah, you don't know what's meant with 'pro-Syrian combatants'? That's a description happily used foremost by the Pentagon (not only by clueless journos from the MSM) to describe IRGC-QF-controlled troops.

'But Tom, you see IRGC everywhere'.

Yeah, I'm obsessed with the IRGC, and that without a reason - as obvious when one reads further down that report, where several Afghans of the IRGC-QF's Liwa Fatimiyoun are cited as killed in the US strike. :D

Instead, NO: nobody there - no Pentagon, no Kreml, no MSM - comes to the idea to call them what they are: Iran-controlled, foreign troops in Syria.

Yes, some of them have meanwhile got the Syrian citizenship - and that on order from the IRGC, as reported several times. But no, no, no and NO: there are no Iranian troops in Syria. Just like there are no US troops in Syria, and like Russians have been withdrawn on order from Putin.

You have any doubts about this? Please go and ask Trump, ask Putin, ask Israelis, and ask Saudis. If nothing else, they'll all tell you that all the Iranian troops are in Yemen. :D

Everything is better than to accept few simple truths. Essence of every war is money. Money buys supplies: 'beans, bullets, and gas' necessary for fighting. Money buys combatants too. No money = no war. Period.

Assad regime is known to have gone bankrupt already back in November 2011. News reels were full of corresponding reports back then. But no: please have the memory of the fish, dear reader, and never ask yourself how comes this regime remains capable of continuing the war 6 1/2 years later...?

But nah: Assad is surviving thanks to 'pro-Syria combatants'. Guess that should mean something like 'little green Mars People that took the wrong turn after passing Venus'...

02-09-2018, 01:16 PM
Careful cross-examination of reports from the social media is leading to few very interesting conclusions regarding that 'Battle of the Conoco Oilfield': CENTCOM bushwacked an Iranian force near Dayr az-Zawr (https://medium.com/@x_TomCooper_x/centcom-bushwacked-an-iranian-force-near-dayr-az-zawr-4d1eb823140f).

02-10-2018, 11:49 AM
As usually, the MSM reporting is slow, superficial, and concentrating on sensations ('Israeli F-16 shot down'). Thus, here a summary of what's said to be going on over south-western Syria since early this morning (local time):

Reportedly, the brawl started with the IRGC sending one of its UAVs from T-4 AB (aka Tiyas/Tifor) in central Syria into the Israeli air space, early this morning. The IDF claimed this as shot down by one of its AH-64 Apache helicopters.

'In retaliation' for this 'aggression', the Israelis then started launching air strikes.

The 1st wave included activity of Israeli aircraft over northern Lebanon and...hm... actually over Jordan (or at least 'along the Syrian-Jordanian border). It reportedly hit some kind of an 'observation tower' at T-4. I guess that should mean the control tower there. It is possible that other objects at that air base have been hit, too: lately, there were rumours about the IRIADF (regular Islamic Republic of Iran Air Defence Force) deploying one of its MIM-23B I-HAWK/Shahin SAM-sites there (the IRGC has its own air defences, but these are only operating such Soviet/Russian-made systems like SA-6s, SA-15s and SA-17s).

Apparently on the way back from that attack, an F-16I was shot down - perhaps by an Assadist SA-5. One of crewmembers of the F-16I should've been seriously injured (apparently on ejection).

The 2nd wave, launched about one hour later, has hit multiple targets NW of Damascus and N of Qunaitra, foremost in the area around (FSyA-controlled) Bayt Jinn pocket. Also hit were unknown objects in the Qisba area (Damascene suburb) and around Dera'a.

As usually, slow and superficial reporting from the MSM...

The Israeli air strikes on Assad/IRGC-controlled parts of Syria are going on. Currently, the third wave is underway.

Along what the official IDF spokesperson says (https://twitter.com/IDFSpokesperson/status/962238134779023360), this is a large-scale SEAD/DEAD operation:

...12 targets, including 3 aerial defense batteries & 4 Iranian military targets, were attacked. Anti-aircraft missiles were fired towards Israel, triggering alarms in northern Israel'...

The 3rd wave was underway around 1 hour ago and resulted in reported 'explosions everywhere around Damascus'.

Intensive activity of 'Syrian' air defences was reported, too. Between others, and in total, social media indicated firings of 20-25 S-200s/SA-5s, S-125/SA-3s, and Pantsyr S1/SA-19s so far.

02-11-2018, 10:00 AM
Further to the 'Battle of Conoco oilfield', from 8 February: slowly, very slowly, pieces of the puzzle are coming together.

Inside the U.S. coalition attack on Syrian forces in Deir-ez-Zor (https://international-review.org/inside-u-s-coalition-attack-syrian-forces-deir-ez-zor/)

...Pro-government outlets have made various claims about their losses: that zero deaths occurred,5. that all deaths were among local tribesmen,6. or that only 25 National Defense Force (NDF) fighters died.7. However, loyalist martyrdom reports paint a very different picture.

Within 24 hours, 22 martyrs “of the American aggression in Deir Ez Zor” had been named and at least 30 bodies had been brought back to the hospital in Suqaylabiyah.8. Of these men, only two were Deir-ez-Zor locals of the Bagarra tribe: Laith and Ashraf al-Bashir, sons of the influential Sheikh Nawaf al-Bashir.9. Of the remaining 20 fighters, seven were from the coastal governorate of Tartous, five from the coastal governorate of Latakia, and eight from Hama.10. Two of the men from Tartous were high ranking officers: Brigadier General Yusuf Haider and Lieutenant Colonel Yasser Essa. Lieutenant Colonel Essa and eight other fighters were identified as members of the enigmatic “ISIS Hunters,” a small Russian-equipped, well-trained, and well-armed militia historically operating in Syria’s east.11. Brigadier General Haider was identified by a relative as a Russian linguist.12.

Furthermore, in June 2017 the St. Petersburg-based Fontanka organisation broke the news that the new gas and oil company Euro Polis and the state-owned General Petroleum Corporation had signed contracts granting them the rights to 25% of any oil and gas production at facilities captured by “its contractors” from ISIS.18. This was confirmed by the Associated Press in December 2017.19. The Fontanka report further identified “ISIS Hunters” as holding “contractual obligations” to Euro Polis for securing those oil and gas fields. Fontanka also published a video filmed by Russian fighters near Palmyra, Homs, identical to an earlier video published by the official ISIS Hunters Twitter page.20.

Shortly after the skirmish, a mid-level Syrian fighter posted his account of what happened on Facebook: “At around 10:45pm last night, the Syrian Arab Army and its friends began the battle for the liberation of the Conoco gas fields controlled by the Kurdish militias.”21. Two sources close to another Russian private military contractor operating in Syria, Wagner PMC, further claimed there were Russian casualties in the battle.22.23. The high concentration of ISIS Hunters among the attacking forces, the presence of a Russian linguist, and the intention of seizing the largest gas fields in Deir-ez-Zor implies that this attack was instigated either by Wagner PMC or by Russian leaders within the ISIS Hunters, potentially at the behest of General Petroleum Corporation.

Now, this is making things as complicated as it's explaining them.

Crucial is the notion that - according to this article - the push for Conoco oilfield was financially motivated. It's simply so that the contractor gets 25% of the oil revenue from captured facilities. This prompted multiple groups into getting involved in the race.

Mind: oilfields are private ownership of strategic importance. Nothing that belongs to whoever stumbles into one. Wars, uprisings, insurgencies, proxy wars, legitimate or illegitimate governments, mass murderers or whatever is in power - or not: there are contracts for oilfields, assigning the ownership to specific parties. In this case it's the Conoco. And Conoco gives 25% of the profit to anybody 'liberating' its facility there.

Along that line, no surprise that multiple parties got involved ... or that the US-supported PKK/PYD/YPG/SDF-conglomerate 'defended with all means on hand': i.e. the PKK rose the US flag like its underwear and the CENTCOM was promptly on the scene.

That's pure war profiteering - by all the involved parties. At least two of these paid a hefty price for losing that race.

02-11-2018, 10:04 PM
It looks like S-125 Missile,SAM-3


02-12-2018, 08:14 AM
More likely a S-200VM, aka SA-5 Gammon.

02-12-2018, 07:30 PM
it is S-125 missile.
look at size,shape and difference between tail fin&destabilizator

https://www.google.cz/search?rlz=1C1ASRM_enCZ569&biw=1280&bih=893&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=R-SBWvWNC5GasAeK8IDgBA&q=s+200+vega&oq=s+200+vega&gs_l=psy-ab.3..0i30k1.582706.585615.0.585903. 9.715.7j1.8.0....0...1c.1.64.psy-ab..0.8.710...0j0i10i30k1j0i19k1j0i30i19k1j0i8i30i 19k1.0.qHQDRr_3ZFE#imgdii=d4HbaQdHE5-5MM:&imgrc=ufnvn69ORYC9qM:

02-12-2018, 11:21 PM
Ah, the second stage. Isee.

Was that photo taken on the Golan Heights?

Namely, I doubt any V-601 could get all the way to Israel...

02-13-2018, 05:20 PM
Twelve hundred words in WaPo landed this plaudit by Charles Lister; judge for yourself.
Link:https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syrias-war-mutates-into-a-regional-conflict-risking-a-wider-conflagration/2018/02/12/87c783fc-0da2-11e8-998c-96deb18cca19_story.html? (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/syrias-war-mutates-into-a-regional-conflict-risking-a-wider-conflagration/2018/02/12/87c783fc-0da2-11e8-998c-96deb18cca19_story.html?utm_term=.ff11e5ad4011)

02-13-2018, 09:40 PM
Somewhere in northern Israel...
It is from:

02-13-2018, 11:49 PM
This just came in via the ACIG.info forum. I'm still trying to get the original link.

More from one of Russian volunteers, Mikhail Polynkov

Сходил я в госпиталь, проведал одного из выживших в той мясорубке под Хишимом.
Что я могу сказать, если вкратце. Цифры про 600 двухсотых это не миф. Было три штурмовых отряда в среднем по 300 человек из россиян и дончан. Плюс артдивизион и бронегруппа.
Я конечно делал запись на диктофон минут на сорок. Но чтобы не палить парня, дам все в расшифровке. Откровенно говоря, из-за такой активной пропаганде противоположного мнения, я уже и сам начал сомневаться в правдивости случившегося. И сейчас, я убедился в том, что вся первая появившаяся информация чистая правда. И откровенно говоря, мне без разницы поверят мне или нет. Те кто меня лично знают, знают так же и то, что я не способен на подлог. А остальные... если есть действительно желание знать правду, пусть навестит один из трёх госпиталей и пообщаются с ранеными. Их очень много. В вишневского, некоторые даже в коридоре лежат.
И дорогие мои сограждане, сейчас действительно наступил момент истины. Обращайте внимание на тех, кто говорит, что всё что произошло под Хишимом это ложь и провокация.



600 KIA... man, even if he cites three Russian groups 'only' - that simply can't be 'Wagner PMC' and 'ISIS Hunters' alone... Even all the three of Liwa al-Bakr's newly established 'battalions' don't number as many.

On the other side, if there were as many Russians KIA... well, Putin can't left this remain 'unanswered'.


And all of that 'just because of this': The epic failure of our age: how the west let down Syria (https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/feb/10/epic-failure-of-our-age-how-west-failed-syria)

...It was always a mistake to believe the Syrian conflict could be kept at arm’s length. Now, due to its complexity, longevity and transnational character, it is hitting home. Syria has permanently changed our world....

Meanwhile, I've got a feeling that this is running out of control. Now we can only hope the two idiots in charge aren't going to turn this into a nuclear war.

02-14-2018, 01:54 AM
MOSCOW — Four Russian nationals, and perhaps dozens more, were killed in fighting between pro-government forces in eastern Syria and members of the United States-led coalition fighting the Islamic State, according to Russian and Syrian officials.
A Syrian military officer said that about 100 Syrian soldiers had been killed in the fighting on Feb. 7 and 8, but news about Russian casualties has dribbled out only slowly, through Russian news organizations and social media.

Inconvenient truths?

And some individual Russians have begun speaking out. Aleksandr Ionov, a Russian businessman working in Syria offering security and other services, said he estimated after conversations with associates in several private military organizations that more than 200 Russians might have been killed.
Mr. Ionov said not all those killed were Russian: Some of the paid fighters came from other countries that were once part of the Soviet Union. “More than 200 is the current estimate, we cannot know the exact number yet, but most of them were Russian,” he said in a telephone interview.
Mr. Ionov said he was speaking out because he wanted any Russians who were killed to be officially recognized for their sacrifice.

Aleksandr Averin, a member of the Other Russia nationalist party, confirmed that Kirill Ananiev, a party member who left for Syria about a year ago, had been killed in the airstrike, noting that there were other “substantial losses.”
“I can confirm that Kirill died on Feb. 7 in Syria, near the Euphrates River, as a result of a strike by the American coalition,” Mr. Averin said in an interview, adding that he was aware of “substantial losses” suffered by “paramilitary structures with ties to Russia.” He refused to elaborate.
Another victim, Vladimir N. Loginov, 51, died “in an unequal fight on Feb. 7 in the area of Syria’s Deir al-Zour,” according to a statement published online by his paramilitary organization.

02-14-2018, 05:15 AM
This looks like Putler, but Washington too, are shocked by what happened, and actually lacking words: certainly having no clue how to react.

Putler announced practically 'the war is over' and ordered a 'withdrawal' of Russian troops out of Syria: then it turns out the war isn't over and they didn't withdraw. He announced a quick and de-facto easy victory: then they got killed in droves after he ordered that withdrawal - and that not while 'fighting IGIL', but while assaulting 'US allies' for war-profiteering purposes.

All of that short of elections in Russia.

Back in October-November 2015, and again in January 2016, he was de-facto threatening with deployment of nukes should anybody dare defeating Russian troops in Syria (back then there were deliberations that Turkey and Saudi Arabia might launch their own counter-intervention; some Saudis went as far as to talk about their country having nukes, too).

Right now, Putler simply can't openly admit this has happened nor that dozens/hundreds of Russians were killed (even though he certainly does find it opportune to get rid of characters in question: keep in mind that many of them have served in Ukraine too). He can't counter even those Russians reporting ever more about what has happened. If he does so, he has to explain what has happened.

...and he can't openly attack US troops in Syria either: he knows that would

a) end in another catastrophe, and

b) cause a war with the USA.

But, he can't left this unanswered, either. Thus, he's 'buying time with silence'.

And Washington, i.e. the people lacking fresh air (see: the Pentagon) seems to have concluded they've 'went too far', kind of. Thus, there is next to no commentary, and next to no releases of combat camera videos. Seems their first impression was the same like mine, and they've concluded they're attacking a pure IRGC-force - even more so since they've had the Russian military commanders on the telephone, all the time.

Who would have expected the latter to either not know what's going on, or to lie in such obvious fashion...?

02-15-2018, 05:53 PM
The RT just delivered the 'Pearl of the Day' (perhaps this week, too):
RT reporter in Afrin asks YPG fighter why he is wearing civilian clothes, he answered "to protect myself from Turkish shelling, Turkish army shells anyone wearing uniform even in civilian areas" (https://twitter.com/putintintin1/status/964160981545996289).

At least he's sincere - although with this: every military-aged civilian casualty in the Efrin enclave just became 'extremely questionable'.

And while they're still insisting on their 'non-involvement' in this part of Syria: guess, certain officers in diverse SOCOM and CENTCOM HQs - probably a few of the people in need of fresh air, too - have developed major stomach problems today. :D

02-16-2018, 07:56 AM
Eliot Higgins aka Bellingcat via Newsweek on chemical weapons use in Syria and the information war. He opens with:
Since the earliest reports of chemical weapon use in the Syrian conflict, a growing community of denialists has emerged, comprising online commentators, bloggers, pro–Bashar al-Assad activists and fringe websites.This in itself is not usual. From 9/11 to the Las Vegas mass shooting, online communities have coalesced around opinions and theories about what “really happened.”
What is unusual about this community is how their views are beginning to creep into mainstream discourse about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and how that is being used to undermine investigations that attempt to establish the facts surrounding these crimes.

02-19-2018, 01:28 AM
An assessment currently making the rounds on social media, but without source citations it's just well-written RUMINT.

Should anyone be able to connect the bullet points with sources, feel free to post those URLs.

Dair Ezor Turkey Shoot
by "John Ringo"

Further reporting, such as it is, on the Dair Ezzor Turkey Shoot.
1. Sov... err... Russians built a bridge over the Euphrates which was the designated 'deconfliction line'. Why? Reasons. 'Commite of Nations' or something.
2. 'Hybrid' force of mixed Russian contractors including multiple non-ethnic Russians (Serbs, Kossack, other non Slavics) as well as local Syrian Army 'commandos' attacked across temporary bridge. The 'Russian' side were 'Blackwater' equivalent mercenaries from a company generally called 'Wagner' which is the nom de plume of the boss. (Like if you called Blackwater 'Prince'.)
3. Unit was partially mechanized, battalion strength. (One thing everyone agrees upon is 'about 600-700 personnel.') Had some towed artillery as well as 't-55 and T-72 MBT as well as armored personnel carriers.' (Type unknown.) Full on 'we're taking that position and you're not stopping us' full court press.
4. Unit crossed bridge, arty deployed.
5. Arty opened fire while most of unit was still in approach column formation. (Normal) One portion moved to flanking positions.
5A. Minute the arty opened fire #### GOT REAL REAL QUICK.
6. Reapers took out artillery and most of armor with Hellfire. From the few videos, pretty much before they knew what hit them. There had to be quite a few Reaper drones up or they were feeding guidance to Hellfire from Apaches (see below.)
7. F-15E Eagles came in for clean-up and to check for anti-air defenses.
8. Warthogs showed up just to go BRRRRRRT!
9. AC-130 Spectre started ####ing up their day for the hell of it.
10. To add insult to injury, B-52s which, you know, just HAPPENED to be in the area, just minding our own business, just passing by from Diego Garcia which is a few thousand miles away, on our way to... somewhere... nothing to see here... decided to prove they could drop their entire load as precision guided weapons and just more or less DID A JDAM ARCLIGHT ON THEIR ASS. At that point, more or less because CENTCOM said 'Why not? ARCLIGHT is always pretty to watch...'
11. The whole thing being so over it was ridiculous, AH-64 Apaches basically did 'hostile Bomb Damage Assessment' and complained there were no targets left.
12. Oh, and then the Kurds, to just really #### with these guys, released water from a dam upstream and broke their bridge. So they had to ford back with their wounded.
13. Nobody knows how many dead and wounded. Russians are saying 'only 8 Russian citizens' but that doesn't quite cover the whole of who may have been involved. One repeated number is 200 dead (remember, mixed Syrians, Russians and other ethnics) as well as pretty much the rest of the force wounded. (Not to mention pretty thoroughly demoralized.) One Kurd wounded. Probably fell off a stool laughing to tell truth.
14. Military hospitals in Russia are reliably reported 'overflowing.'
This was much less a 'battle' than a message. Towards the end we had to just be pounding ground to make sure they got it.
Messages, really.
A. Don't ####ing cross that river.
B. Hey, North Korea! LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!
C. Hey, Putin, about Donbas... This is what we can do to your 'freedom fighters' (AKA: mercenaries) at any time.
D. To everyone in general: You need to remember who's boss.
Mattis is playing dumb. 'What Russians? There were Russians? Really? I'm seeing that in the media but I got no briefing on there being Russians in that column. Our bad. Sorry about that.'
Then there's the fact that the strike was NOT approved by the President.
Because he gave CENTOM the approval on things like that.
And CENTCOM handled it like a BOSS.
Oh, and when the forces crossed the river the Russians were informed and informed that we intended to take 'self-defense' actions.
So they can't even say they weren't warned.
I'm not sure we warned them we'd be using BUFF.
This is more the sort of thing I'd expect in late summer.
'####! We haven't expended our budget! Are there any Russians we can #### up very badly with all these unexpended munitions?'
Last thought: It had to be ####ty being on the receiving end of that.

02-19-2018, 01:32 AM
MOSCOW, Russia (AFP) — The death of Russian citizens in Syria from a US coalition strike last week, which has been played down by both Moscow and Washington, has exposed the role of Russian mercenaries in the multi-front conflict.


02-19-2018, 10:37 AM
U.S. forces killed scores of Russian mercenaries in Syria last week in what may be the deadliest clash between citizens of the former foes since the Cold War, according to one U.S. official and three Russians familiar with the matter.
More than 200 contract soldiers, mostly Russians fighting on behalf of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, died in a failed attack on a base held by U.S. and mainly Kurdish forces in the oil-rich Deir Ezzor region, two of the Russians said. The U.S. official put the death toll in the fighting at about 100, with 200 to 300 injured, but was unable to say how many were Russians.


There are a ton of googlehits for Maskirovka, but this is a decent starting point. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b050674y

See also http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?p=210551#post210551

See also http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?p=210550#post210550

02-19-2018, 01:50 PM
The title is taken from the sub-title of an article 'Miscalculation and vulnerability simmer beneath the surface of the Syrian conflict' and accurately sums the situation.

02-19-2018, 10:21 PM
People used to think, assess and talk in hyperboles, thinking, assessing and talking in hyperboles, little else...

IMHO, this is the most-sane assessment I've seen so far, and then from one of most authoritative sources in this regards:

U.S. Strikes and Russian PMC Casualties in Syria – Fact vs Fiction (https://russianmilitaryanalysis.wordpress.com/2018/02/14/u-s-strikes-and-russian-pmc-casualties-in-syria-fact-vs-fiction/)

Mind that the author - Michael Kofman - published a highly interesting 'dissection' of the Russian military strategy in Ukraine and Syria (https://warontherocks.com/2017/02/a-comparative-guide-to-russias-use-of-force-measure-twice-invade-once/), early the last year.

To make things even more interesting, that one is strikingly similar to conclusions from discussions on the Russian strategy and tactics in Syria we've had on the ACIG.info forum back in late 2015 (requires registration to read): VKS (Russian Air Force) - Doctrine and Tactics (http://www.acig.info/forum/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=7448).

02-22-2018, 09:34 PM
The Keystone Cops in Moscow are on the best way to deliver their next pearl in Syria.

First a photo, and then two videos appeared in the Assadist social media, showing two Sukhoi T.50s about to land at Hmemmem AB, in Syria, yesterday.

Meanwhile, it's official: Interfax was granted permission to publish an official confirmation (http://www.interfax.ru/russia/601103).

Now, please all quickly get yourself some popcorn and cola: this is going to be funny.

...erm, what do you mean with 'why'...?

Well, imagine trying to fly combat operations over an active combat zone in our days - and then in an aircraft that:

- has an inadequate and incomplete sensor suite;
- has an incomplete fire-control system;
- has an incomplete self-protection suite;
- has no integrated avionics suite that could be considered 'operational';
- that is powered by unreliable engines;
- that has got no air-to-air weaponry at all (the T.50 didn't undergo any kind of integration of live weapons trials with about 160 R-77s acquired by the VKS since early 2017, while R-74 is still not in series production);
- has underwent hardly any weapons separation testing (except for two types of dumb bombs),
- actually lacks any kind of operational armament bar its internal 30mm cannon; etc...

Ah yes: and then try doing your job as a pilot of such a 'stealth fighter' - in an air force with no doctrine for operations of stealth aircraft.


Wait: thinking of it... should one get shot down in Syria, the Keystone Cops in Moscow can for once speak truth and say, 'it was an unarmed aircraft on an observation mission'... (which is what they said after their Su-25 was shot down).


Tragically, the future target list for T.50s in Syria has already been determined. All provided one of them can find its way to Eastern Ghouta, of course:

- Mdecins Sans Frontires (MSF): The shelling of Gouta destroyed 13 hospitals and a WHO clinic in three days. (https://twitter.com/Press_Alaaahmad/status/966605025308041217)

Actual number is at around 22.


Of course, the Keystone Cops in Moscow have officially denied any kind of VKS' involvement in bombardment of Eastern Ghouta. Because of that denial, I'm now in position to present you a true sensation: an officially-confirmed Fatamorgana (a Su-34 about to strike some place in Eastern Ghouta, two days ago):


02-27-2018, 04:17 PM
Russia tries to pass video game off as footage of Syria, again. This time not the defense ministry but state TV.

02-27-2018, 06:33 PM
Professor Daniel Byman has a good overview and ends with:
Syria was not Iraq, Iraq was not Afghanistan, and the next conflict involving global terrorist groups will be a different one entirely. But if the United States can learn the above lessons, it might do better the next time around—or at least avoid doing far worse.

02-27-2018, 09:38 PM
The USA? Perhaps.

The Pentagon - not.

And the Pentagon is meanwhile running the US foreign politics in the Middle East.

Their newest achievement is something people were warning about already a year ago: a group called Popular Resistance of Raqqa was formed in #Raqqa, their goal is to defeat YPG/SDF. It's mainly made of Sunni Arab tribes. (https://twitter.com/ilyassafavi/status/968445530048290816)

Means: the Pentagon has finally provoked another war in the Middle East - and then another Sunni insurgency, too - and that while supporting a Marxist group considered a 'terrorist organisation' even by US laws.

02-28-2018, 03:30 AM
Exclusive satellite images from ImageSat International obtained by Fox News show what is believed to be the new Iranian base, eight miles northwest of Damascus, operated by the Quds Force — the special operations arm of Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The photos show two new white hangars, each roughly 30 yards by 20 yards, used to store short- and medium-range missiles.


02-28-2018, 06:35 AM
As if the Pentagon would care about IRGC's deployment in Syria: the Iranians meanwhile control at least 80,000 combatants - largely Shi'a jihadists and all other possible sectarian militias - there, but Trump and the Pentagon are still doing as if 15 Hezbollah advisors in Yemen are a bigger threat... :rolleyes:

Talking about the logics of the 'US foreign politics' as run by the People in Need of Fresh Air (the Pentagon) in Syria, here slightly more in regards of the absurdity they've created.

Few days ago, a surprisingly frank critique of Western behaviour in regards of the PKK/PYD/YPG-supported conglomerate in the Afrin enclave was published - double surprise - in German language: Der Westen hat die Kurden NICHT verraten (http://www.ipg-journal.de/regionen/naher-osten/artikel/detail/der-westen-hat-die-kurden-nicht-verraten-2598/) (or: The West didn't 'betray' the Kurds in Afrin).

By side that articles of this kind in German are more rare than snake's sweat: the author of that feature has nicelly illustrated how the PKK's (let's remain frank) alliance with the US and its ability conquer territory in NE Syria emboldened it into the break-down of negotiations with Erdogan.

Yes, sure, this is something not only the Pentagon but all the other talking-heads in the USA and elsewhere in the West are going to deny: after all, this is exactly the standpoint made by the Turkish media all the time - and since years already - but lost in idiotically simplistic publications about Erdogan unilaterally 'terminating peace talks'.

At least until now.

Namely, The Daily Beast (http://thebea.st/2EUEiea?source=email&via=desktop) now came out with a similar complaint - and indeed: a complement to the above-mentioned article in German.

Even more so: the article points out that such behaviour of the USA and the West have bolstered the Turkish paranoia against the West, and thus not only play directly into Erdogan's hands but is also helping bolster Erdogan's own aggrandizement.

Overall, the People in Need of Fresh air can really congratulate themselves: through their super-smart, visionary politics in Syria, they have literally, 'bought one, got three wars for free' in that country.

02-28-2018, 06:55 AM
Ah yes... and for those who might wonder: yes, I'm following developments in Eastern Ghouta, too - but, covering these on ACIG.info forum only. Sorry, but simply lacking time to do so on multiple platforms the last few days.

In an attempt to offer some compensation, here a summary of what was going on in Syria yesterday.

Some might recall there's something called the 'UN Security Council Resolution 2401', which stipulates a cease-fire for certain areas in Syria, including Idlib? Or even that this was supported by Moscow?

Well, not any more - and then for quite simple reasons. Namely, the Syrian insurgents there dared being as brazen as to turn against the al-Qaeda-affiliated HTS (ex-Nusra): a week ago, the Ahrar ash-Sham (AAS) and Harakat Noureddin az-Zenghi (HNAZ) joined into a new coalition - Jabhat Tahrir Souriyah (Syria's Liberation Front) - and then launched an all-out attack on the HTS. Surely, most of involved groups are Salafist by their ideology, and thus nearly all of Western observers prefer to make no difference between them and the HTS. But, sigh, there must be some - and then not only because the USA used to support the HNAZ until October 2015, and the Saudis are doing so ever since.

Anyway, the JTS' attack was soon joined by multiple other native insurgent groups, and caused a wholesale defection of Syrian insurgents that were a part of the HTS, too. The result is that the latter was meanwhile degraded to little else but the TIP and few Russians. As a consequence, and after more than one week of bitter fighting, it's lost most of its grip on southern and eastern Idlib.

...much to displeasure of the Keystone Cops in Moscow (guess: much to displeasure of the People in Need of Fresh Air, too).

Correspondingly, the Russians have 'silently' abandoned the case-fire and are since yesterday bombing Idlib again. That is: they are bombing those places now controlled by Free Syrian Army groups that sided with the JTS in its attack on the HTS. Of course, this cannot happen because Putin has ordered a withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria, back in November last year. Thus, it must be some kind of Swiss subs or something that's flying withdrawal and losing ordnance while doing that...

For example, this Swiss sub lost one bomb while underway over Khan Sheykhoun, only an hour after the place was liberated from the HTS by the FSyA's Jaysh al-Izza - and promptly killed several civilians (https://twitter.com/QalaatAlMudiq/status/968573790878871552).

Subsequently, and in clear violation of the UNSCR 2401 the Swiss subs extended their accidental ordnance release (guess: pilots of VKS' unarmed observation aircraft got scared by all the fighting against al-Qaida below them?) to several other places around Idlib:

How cynical such attacks are shows alone the fact that even Assadists acknowledge (https://twitter.com/Suriyakmaps/status/968589655531839490) the HTS being kicked out of places like Urum al-Kubra, Taftanaz AB, Khan Sheykhoun, Anadan etc...

Ah yes: the next area over which we can expect the Swiss subs to start losing their ordnance will be the western Aleppo.


Syrian insurgent groups there declared their defection from the HTS (https://twitter.com/archicivilians/status/968525310470819840).


Bombardment of Eastern Ghouta was continued immediately after the cease-fire ended, at 14.00hrs local time, yesterday - and despite the offer of FSyA-affiliated groups (https://twitter.com/oabozayd/status/968406738931138561) to evacuate the HTS out of this area. The Russians not only ignored this, but claimed that 'militants/terrorists' have 'opened fire at civilians that attempted to evacuate' - and skilfully supported this by videos from Aleppo, back in 2016. In their next lie, the Keystone Cops in Moscow announced that the 'militants started a new offensive against Syrian forces' (https://twitter.com/markito0171/status/968523484568739841).

Actually, it was the Assadists that attacked and claimed the capture (https://muraselon.com/en/2018/02/breaking-syrian-army-launches-massive-night-assault-e-ghouta-captures-strategic-areas-map-update/) of 'strategic areas', apparently including Hawsh Dawahirah and outskirts of Shufaniya (https://twitter.com/SyriaWar2/status/968598426417074177). Gauging by photos like this one (https://twitter.com/QalaatAlMudiq/status/968562489272209408), this effort ended in another major failure ('another', because two days ago the Quwwat Nimr/Tiger Force and the Republican Guards demonstrated their 'military effectiveness' by driving into a similar ambush further south). On the contrary, it's making one wonder how many more troops can the Assadists afford the Russians and the IRGC to spend as cannon fodder there.

Below another photo of an unarmed Swiss sub that lost its ordnance over Eastern Ghouta while withdrawing from Syria - all by accident, of course.

Mind: Russian Su-24s are easy to recognize from those still operated by the Assadsits alone by the position of their wings. Because they are bombing with support of that super-turbo-nav/attack system called SVP-24, the Russians fly very slow, and thus with their wings spread fully forwards (top photo). Assadist Su-24s have their wings always swept to middle position before bomb release (bottom photo). Furthermore, Russian Su-24s carry drop tanks: Assadist none.

02-28-2018, 11:04 AM
And, further in regards of this:

Their newest achievement is something people were warning about already a year ago: a group called Popular Resistance of Raqqa was formed in #Raqqa, their goal is to defeat YPG/SDF. It's mainly made of Sunni Arab tribes. (https://twitter.com/ilyassafavi/status/968445530048290816)

Means: the Pentagon has finally provoked another war in the Middle East - and then another Sunni insurgency, too - and that while supporting a Marxist group considered a 'terrorist organisation' even by US laws.

Sons of the city of Raqqa announce the formation of Syrian resistance against the American occupation (https://www.facebook.com/SyrianReporters/videos/1695062360539330/)

Now the Pentagon is getting an IRGC-supported (pay attention at the logo including an AK-47 held up by a hand), Assad-affiliated insurgency inside the area it put under the control of the PKK in Syria.

Isn't this simply fantastic...?

03-02-2018, 07:32 PM
What some describe as a 'mystery' and Der Spiegel journalists have been at work dissecting:
one of the most mysterious battles yet in this increasingly complex war.

Their report in English comes via a UK-based academic observer:http://eaworldview.com/2018/03/200-russians-killed-by-us-airstrikes-in-syria-maybe-not/

03-03-2018, 12:20 PM
Meet Caleb Stevens.
He joined the YPG.
He zigged when he should have stayed at West Point.
Don't be like Caleb.

A handful of Americans have joined People's Protection Units, also known as YPG, and other Syrian militia groups allied with the United States in recent years, according to experts and the federal government. Most of those who sign up are young adults, idealists and those with a military background who sympathize, and perhaps romanticize, the groups' stated fight against Islamic State and oppression in Syria, Turkey and Iraq.
Stevens had spent two years at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point when he started getting restless to join the conflict.


03-04-2018, 03:01 AM
Published by Polygraph.info — a fact-checking website produced by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, news organizations that receive funding from the US government — the audio recordings paint a picture of Russian mercenaries essentially sent to die in an ill-conceived advance on a US-held position in Syria. Polygraph says the audio recordings are from a source close to the Kremlin.

First clip:
"The reports that are on TV about ... well, you know, about Syria and the 25 people that are wounded there from the Syrian f--- army and — well ... to make it short, we've had our asses f--- kicked. So one squadron f--- lost 200 people ... right away, another one lost 10 people ... and I don't know about the third squadron, but it got torn up pretty badly, too ... So three squadrons took a beating ... The Yankees attacked ... first they blasted the f--- out of us by artillery, and then they took four helicopters up and pushed us in a f--- merry-go-round with heavy caliber machine guns ... They were all shelling the holy f--- out of it, and our guys didn't have anything besides the assault rifles ... nothing at all, not even mentioning shoulder-fired SAMs or anything like that ... So they tore us to pieces for sure, put us through hell, and the Yankees knew for sure that the Russians were coming, that it was us, f--- Russians ... Our guys were going to commandeer an oil refinery, and the Yankees were holding it ... We got our f--- asses beat rough, my men called me ... They're there drinking now ... many have gone missing ... it's a total f--- up, it sucks, another takedown ... Everybody, you know, treats us like pieces of s--- ... They beat our asses like we were little pieces of s--- ... but our f--- government will go in reverse now, and nobody will respond or anything, and nobody will punish anyone for this ... So these are our casualties."
Second clip:
"Out of all vehicles, only one tank survived and one BRDM [armored reconnaissance vehicle] after the attack, all other BRDMs and tanks were destroyed in the first minutes of the fight, right away."
Third clip:
"Just had a call with a guy — so they basically formed a convoy, but did not get to their f--- positions by some 300 meters. One unit moved forward, the convoy remained in place, about 300 meters from the others. The others raised the American f--- flag, and their artillery started f--- ours really hard. Then their f--- choppers flew in and started f--- everybody. Ours just running around. Just got a call from a pal, so there are about 215 f--- killed. They simply rolled ours out f--- hard. Made their point. What the f--- ours were hoping for in there?! That they will f--- run away themselves? Hoped to f--- scare them away? Lots of people f--- so bad [they] can't be f--- ID'd. There was no foot soldiers [on the American side]; they simply f--- our convoy with artillery."



03-04-2018, 01:44 PM
Mickey Mouse Air Force in action:

Two Sukhoi Su-57 stealth fighter jets have successfully completed a two-day program of tests in Syria
Shoigu said. "I can say that the trials were success and the planes returned home a week ago."


03-04-2018, 08:25 PM
UNITED NATIONS — North Korea has been shipping supplies to the Syrian government that could be used in the production of chemical weapons, United Nations experts contend.
The evidence of a North Korean connection comes as the United States and other countries have accused the Syrian government of using chemical weapons on civilians, including recent attacks on civilians in the Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta using what appears to have been chlorine gas.
The supplies from North Korea include acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers, according to a report by United Nations investigators. North Korean missile technicians have also been spotted working at known chemical weapons and missile facilities inside Syria, according to the report, which was written by a panel of experts who looked at North Korea’s compliance with United Nations sanctions.






04-09-2018, 01:40 AM

The US has denied involvement...

04-09-2018, 12:22 PM
WASHINGTON - The likelihood of a military strike against Syria after a suspected chemical weapons attack increased Sunday as President Donald Trump said there would be a "big price to pay" and officials in France vowed the country would "do its duty" in responding.

France called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday to discuss the weekend attack, and eight other nations joined in the request, including the United States and Britain.

04-09-2018, 08:29 PM
From the Jewish News Syndicate: https://www.jns.org/analysis-latest-israeli-airstrike-in-syria-likely-stopped-new-iranian-threat/

(April 9, 2018 / JNS) The recent missile strike on a military airbase deep in the central Syrian desert looks like the latest installment in a long-standing Israeli campaign to police its red lines against highly dangerous developments to its north.

Usually, such strikes are driven by incoming intelligence of threatening activity underway in Syria—activity that breaches Jerusalem’s ban on Iran from constructing military bases in Syria, from setting up weapons factories there and from using Syria as a transit zone for the trafficking of advanced arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Iran is keen to cash in on its heavy investment and bloody involvement on behalf of the survival of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. That means attempting to expand the Iranian military presence on Syrian soil. Israel is determined to stop this at all costs.

By chance or not, the strike also comes amid fallout from the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against rebel-held areas over the weekend, leading to warnings from President Donald Trump of likely military strikes in retaliation.

Nevertheless, the precise reason that triggered the latest strike remains unknown and can probably only be found in classified intelligence reports.

What is clear, however, is that over the past several years, Israel has reportedly carried out a series of strikes targeting the Iranian-led axis in Syria. If left unchecked, Iran would flood Syria with Shi’a militia groups and terrorist organizations, arm them with rockets and missiles, and set up terrorist cells. It would convert southern Syria into a new launch pad for attacks against Israel.

Iran’s Quds Force, the elite overseas unit, and Hezbollah use Syria to manufacture and smuggle precision-guided ballistic missiles, heavy rockets, advanced surface-to-air missiles and surface-to-sea missiles. Israel has reportedly disrupted these activities on a regular basis.

Lebanon is already a well-established Iranian rocket base, filled to the brim with 120,000 rockets embedded in 200 Shi’a Lebanese villages. All of these projectiles are pointed at Israel. Under Iran’s plans, Syria, too, would become a major threat.

The military base reportedly struck in the latest attack, known as “T4,” has a history. In early February, Israeli fighter jets destroyed an Iranian drone control cabin that was stationed there, after Iranian operators sitting in it flew a drone into Israeli airspace. It’s likely that the Iranian operators were killed in that attack.

According to reports that emerged on Monday, Iranian military personnel were killed in Monday’s strike as well. That would seem to indicate that whatever was going on at the T4 airbase—hundreds of kilometers from the Israeli border—constituted a serious security threat to Israel, and that Iran has again tested the waters, seeing how far it can go in building up its military presence before provoking an Israeli response.

This dangerous pattern looks set to continue. Each incident represents a potential escalation point that can spiral into a wider conflict between Israel and the radical Shi’a axis that is taking over much of the Middle East.

The Russian complication

What makes this situation more tense is the fact that Russia acts as the air force of the Shi’a axis in Syria. Russian airpower helped turn the tide of the war in Assad’s favor, a fact that has probably given the Syrian dictator the confidence to unleash the horrors of chemical warfare on Sunni areas and make a mockery of the international community in the process.

Russia has, through its waves of airstrikes in Syria, gained a warm-water port at Syria’s Tartus naval base, and it has an airbase at Hmeimim on the Syrian coastline. It has moved advanced air-defense batteries to Syria. Moscow has used its intervention to position itself as a superpower actor in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the United States has decreased its influence in Syria to a bare minimum.

Israel seeks no conflict with Russia, but is unwilling to ignore the activities of Moscow’s allies—something Israel has communicated to Russia repeatedly.

The Russians have so far been able to help de-escalate the situation by convincing their radical and dubious allies to tone down their responses to Israel’s self-defense actions. The Iranian axis may not have needed much convincing; it remains fundamentally deterred by Israel’s vast firepower and intelligence capabilities. Iran is keen on consolidating its control of Syria at this stage, rather than opening a new active front against Israel right now, which would risk its entire Syrian project. But if it succeeds in its goal of converting Syria into a new base of hostility towards Israel, there can be no doubt that sooner or later, it would activate this front.

These events put Russia’s project in Syria at risk, and this poses a complication. Any full-scale conflict that erupts would place the Assad regime in existential threat, and Russia could see its investment go down the drain.

Statements released by Moscow on Monday indicate Russian displeasure at Israel’s alleged actions.

Yet Israel has responded that it will not blink when it comes to defending its security.

It’s also hard to ignore the fact that the alleged Israeli strike came hours after a horrendous chemical massacre was carried out, once again, by the Assad regime against a rebel-held area. Scenes of men, women and children murdered through the use chemical-weapons agents have once again flooded the world, with an ally of Iran and Russia—the Assad regime—again committing a ghastly crime against humanity.

As a result, it cannot be ruled out that the latest attack also served as an Israeli signal of intolerance to the usage of chemical weapons in the region.

Whatever triggered the strike, one thing seems certain: Iran will continue to test Israel’s lines, and Israel will continue to enforce them.

04-10-2018, 10:34 AM
Or you can try this by a Forum member, published several days ago now and only just discovered.

04-10-2018, 02:29 PM
Some rather amusing political/security commentary here: https://twitter.com/NeilPHauer/status/983350969680396288

Fairly significant news: Israel did not warn Russia before it struck Syrian airbase yesterday. The airbase hit (T4) had previously served as a major Russian operating base, until just a few months ago.The first is 'nothing new', the second is 'nonsense'.

The Russians did make some use of T-4, but only back in 2015-2016. They aren't around that base already since it was nearly overrun by the Daesh, in December 2016.

Seems Tel Aviv does not trust Moscow.Since when does Israel trust anybody?

Israel has clearly not been pleased with Russia's inability or unwillingness to restrain Iranian ops in Syria. Russia's Sept 2017 assurance that it would not allow Iran/Hezbollah to threaten Israel has been followed instead by enhanced IRGC drone presence.This is also nonsense.

What should the Russians do to 'restrain' the IRGC, PLEASE?

They can barely keep Assad in power.

In February, the Israeli Air Force hit T4 airbase hard after Iran sent a drone from there into Israeli airspace. By some estimates (which :?: ), IAF destroyed 50% :?: Syria's air defences as it struck four Iranian and eight Syrian sites, with Russia inactive.If 4 SAM-sites are '50% of the Assad air defence', then yes (for details, see the link posted by David, above).

Israel's barely even talking to Russians at this point, who are losing control of situation.Nah... really? Russians are 'losing control of situation'...?

Oh, and BTW: since when are the Russians 'in control' of the 'situation' in Syria, actually...?

But, sigh, that's a 'serious commentator' in our days. Well, after reading this, all I can conclude is that there's absolutely nothing new on this planet. I'm back to my 'historical' research and lurking...

04-10-2018, 06:41 PM
What say you to the contention that 2 Israeli fighters fired 8 missiles (Popeyes or Delilahs?), of which 3-5 were shot down by Syrian air defenses?

04-11-2018, 12:16 AM
From Babak Taghvaee (https://twitter.com/BabakTaghvaee/status/983785568260804608):

Russia has asked Iran to provide the Russian Air Force with access to the IRIAF's 3rd Tactical Fighter Base in Hamedan to deploy heavy bombers and tankers, and to use it as a refueling base for fighter jets deployed over Syria
Earlier in August 2016, the RuAF was permitted to deploy 8 Su-34 fighters and 4 Tu-22M3 bombers Hamedan, but after the Russians deliberately leaked pictures of their bombers in the base, Iran forced them to leave
It is possible that Iran will refuse Russia access to Hamedan, but may offer the 5th Tactical Fighter Base at Omidiyeh again
The motivation behind Russia's request is concern that Russian aircraft may need to evacuate Hmeimim Air Base in the event of US-led airstrikes on Syria
This information comes from a "valid" source in the IRIAF, according to Taghvaee

04-11-2018, 12:22 AM
Also from Babak Taghvaee:

Israeli F-15Is used Delilah cruise missiles to target the maintenance hangars of the Syrian Arab AF's Tiyas Air Base
One was being used for the repair of Su-24MK2s of the SyAAF's 819th Fighter Squadron
The other hangar was being used by the IRCG's Aerospace Force (IRGCAF), which was probably the target of the Israeli strike

See links for images of the damage to Tiyas:


04-11-2018, 05:28 AM
What say you to the contention that 2 Israeli fighters fired 8 missiles (Popeyes or Delilahs?), of which 3-5 were shot down by Syrian air defenses?
Except 'for PR purposes', there are always at least two, more likely four times more Israeli aircraft involved in every such operation. That's that way already since the Battle of Saunu, in November 1966.

I've got no idea who launched this nonsense about 'two F-15Is', but at least eight were involved.

And re. Taghvaee: check any translation of the Iranian Constitution you can get. Basing of foreign military in Iran is strictly prohibited, so also (quote), 'in peace'. The IRGC did attempt to ignore that paragraph back in 2016, and still: when Majlis (Iranian Parliament) began to protest, the Russians had to be kicked out.

Now, Omidiyeh - former TFB.5 of the IRAF, near Agha Jari - was meanwhile taken over by the IRGC. That's contrary to TFB.3 (near Hamedan), which remains an IRIAF base, and where the Russians landed back in August 2016. Means: the IRGC might try it basing the Russians at one of its own bases in the future.

However, that's not changing anything about the Iranian constitution: such an action would be a gross violation of fundamental Iranian laws.

And re. his claims about 'maintenance hangars' at T-4: actually one of hangars was used to store one Su-24MK that was out of service since quite early during the war, and few helicopters. No 'maintenance' there was undertaken, while everything that was inside was destroyed. And, funny that he's mentioning 'SyAAF's 819th Fighter Squadron': when I published that designation in an article about the SyAAF, in AirForces Monthly Feb/2017, he wrote to the editor that no such unit exists. :D

04-12-2018, 06:55 PM
From CNBC (https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/12/trump-decision-on-syria-strikes-coming-fairly-soon.html):

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he would meet with Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – and that a decision on whether the U.S. military will respond to alleged Syrian chemical attacks will be made "fairly soon."

A source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told CNBC the U.S. was considering striking eight potential targets. Those targets include two Syrian airfields, a research center and a chemical weapons facility.

The source also noted that Syria's military has repositioned a significant amount of air assets to Russian-controlled airfields in hopes that Washington would be reluctant to strike there.

"We're looking very very seriously, very closely at that whole situation and we'll see what happens folks," Trump told reporters Thursday.

Over the past five days, Trump has sharpened his rhetoric against Syria and its most powerful ally Russia and issued a threat via Twitter of a potential U.S. strike against the war-torn country...

04-12-2018, 09:38 PM
Anthony Cordesman, from CSIS, a 'long read' entitled 'Syria: When and How Does This War End?'; which opens with:
In early 2003, when he was still commander of the 101st Airborne Division and still preparing for the invasion of Iraq, General David Petraeus asked a key question: “How does this war end?” Some fifteen years later, we are no closer to an answer than we were then in Iraq, and we seem to be no closer in Syria. The purpose of war is never to win military victories. The purpose is to shape a peace that serves the lasting strategic objectives of the nation that fights it. We have not been able to focus on this goal in any of our “wars”. Not only Iraq and Syria, but Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and the other much smaller fights against terrorism and extremism in west and east Africa

(Ends with) The full message of the previous quotes from the World Bank and CIA on the civil impact of the fighting in Syria should be all too clear. It is just as important to have a sound civil-military strategy in fighting terrorism – and to focus on stability and peace – as it is in counterinsurgency. As the Syrian example shows all too clearly, focusing on the fighting and terrorism alone can never be enough. Even if one wins some form of tactical victory, one still must live with the reality that follows, and purely military solutions will always account to the equivalent of cut and run.”.

From the News Statesman (a UK weekly magazine, usually on the Left) two Kings College War Studies academics have 'Syria’s world war; How Britain and the US are being dragged into the defining conflict of our times'. It closes with:
Once again, Syria has proven to be the problem that cannot be ignored, however much the West has tried. The ugly status quo engineered at great human cost by the Syrian regime – with the support of Russia and Iran – has been disturbed. Assad has brazenly continued to deploy chemical weapons on a regular basis with no great fear of any serious costs. For many years, the West has pursued diplomacy neutered by the absence of any willingness to deploy force; today, the danger is of a reflexive use of arms without any considered diplomatic strategy. These whimsical and fleeting fits of moral panic directed towards the defining crisis of our generation do little to defuse a febrile international climate.

04-13-2018, 09:48 PM
Military Movements after the April 2018 Chemical Weapons Attack: http://iswresearch.blogspot.ca/2018/04/military-movements-after-april-2018.html

2 Russian Su-24M aircraft harassed the USS Donald Cook and the French frigate Aquitaine on April 11. The Russian Navy also conducted a firing drill off the Syrian coast
Russia reportedly deployed four Tu-95MS and Tu-160M strategic bombers as well as Il-78M tanker aircraft from the Engels Air Base in Russia. Their final destination is unknown although they may be bound for Syria or the Hamedan Air Base in Iran; Russia previously targeted locations in Syria from the Engels Air Base
Pro-regime forces deployed SAMs, including six Russian Pantsir-S2s, to the Mezzeh Military Air Base and other sites in Damascus
Pro-regime officials also reportedly issued an alert to the Syrian Arab Army to evacuate personnel and assets from military bases across Syria.
Regime and Russian aircraft relocated closer to heavily-defended commercial airfields across Syria: from the Seen (Sayqal), Dumayr, Shayrat, and the T-4 (Tiyas) Air Bases, to the Bassel al Assad International Airport in Latakia, the Nayrab Air Base outside Aleppo City, and Damascus International Airport
Iranian proxies, including Lebanese Hezbollah, reportedly began exiting Syria into Lebanon and Iraq
Unspecified pro-regime elements reportedly evacuated a branch of the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center (SSRC) in Jamraya near Damascus

Coalition Strike Options: https://www.iiss.org/en/militarybalanceblog/blogsections/2018-f256/april-26b3/syria-assets-9a80

In terms of tactical aviation, only two squadrons remain active over Syria: the 336th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron with F-15E Strike Eagles based at Mowafaq al Salti in Jordan, and a half-strength F-22A Raptor squadron at Al Dhafra in the United Arab Emirates, believed currently to be the 94th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron
The US also still has two Expeditionary Attack Squadrons (46th and 361st) equipped with MQ-9A Reaper UAVs in theatre, based in Jordan and Kuwait, but the utility of these assets and their UK Royal Air Force (RAF) counterparts for the kind of missions being contemplated is limited by the contested nature of the airspace
The bomber detachment at Al Udeid in Qatar is also still in place: the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron’s B-1B Lancers began replacing the previous B-52H Stratofortress rotation at the beginning of April
Additional bombers, particularly the B-2A Spirit stealth bombers, either flying from their home bases in the continental United States, or staging from forward bases such as Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, are an obvious way of getting combat power into theatre for an initial strike
Both the UK and France also have squadron-sized tactical combat aircraft deployments in the region as part of the campaign against ISIS
The RAF has a mixed force of six Typhoon FGR4s and eight Tornado GR4s deployed to Akrotiri in Cyprus, and the French have six Rafales deployed to Al Dhafra in the UAE under Escadron de Chasse 1/7 Provence and a detachment of four additional Rafales stationed at Prince Hassan airbase in Jordan
The RAF Tornados and the French Rafales are capable of conducting stand-off attacks from outside Syrian airspace using Storm Shadow and Scalp EG cruise missiles, and additional long-range cruise missile missions could be flown direct from France or the UK, as they previously were during operations over Libya in 2011.
There is no aircraft-carrier group currently assigned to either the US Navy’s 5th or 6th Fleet
Of the four Arleigh Burke-class destroyers carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles, which are forward based with the 6th Fleet, only one, the USS Donald Cook, was in the Eastern Mediterranean on 7 April
Two of the others, USS Ross and USS Porter, were conducting port visits in the UK and France, and the fourth, USS Carney, had recently returned to its homeport of Rota in Spain
Currently deployed alongside the Donald Cook is the French Navy destroyer Aquitaine, equipped with the new Missile De Croisière Naval (MdCN) cruise missile but with a smaller number of total launch cells compared to her US counterparts
The UK Type-45 destroyer HMS Duncan is currently in the Eastern Mediterranean as the flagship of NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2: although she is not equipped for land-attack missions, she may still be diverted to the theatre in order to bolster the air-defence capability of any task group (and indeed RAF Akrotiri) against potential reprisals.
Below the waves the picture is somewhat better: the USS John Warner, a Virginia-class Block III submarine, left Gibraltar last week, and after a brief stop at Toulon on 9th April is now highly likely to be in the Eastern Mediterranean
The Ohio-class converted guided-missile submarine USS Florida (capable of accommodating up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles) was believed to be in the Indian Ocean in March, but may have subsequently returned through the Suez Canal and re-entered the Mediterranean, and it is possible that additional submarines from the 5th and 6th Fleets have been moved to join them
Although there is at present no official confirmation from the British government, several media reports have suggested that at least one of the Royal Navy’s submarines, able to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles, may also be en route

04-14-2018, 12:56 PM
Note: the map with missile ranges is worth socking away for later use.

The Russian military has claimed that the Syrian air defences, whose most modern weapon is a three-decades-old Russian-supplied anti-aircraft system, shot down 71 of 103 missiles fired by the US and its allies, the UK and France.

As further details began to emerge about the sites targeted by the US-led strikes, Col Gen Sergei Rudskoi of the Russian military said the strikes had not caused any casualties and that Syrian military facilities suffered only minor damage.

Although it was not possible to verify the claims, the most up-to-date system that Moscow has supplied to the Syrian regime is the short range Pantsir S-1, which has an anti-missile capability.

Source is the Guardian, so compensate for the usual spin rate.

04-14-2018, 04:14 PM
A public French 'national assessment' of the Douma CW strike; well-written IMHO and some horrible photos on the last page.

04-15-2018, 11:17 AM
I missed this article in May 2016, so yes it is historical. Just why the four were in Syrian custody in 2011, as the civil war began, is not 100% clear (possibly two were rendered there by the USA). What is clear is their release had an impact:
If President Assad’s Sednaya amnesty was indeed a considered plan to subvert the revolution, it worked.

04-15-2018, 12:45 PM
As images of sick or dying children flooded global media all week, the U.S. guided-missile destroyer USS Winston Churchill churned toward the Mediterranean to join a flotilla of allied warships, including another U.S. destroyer, the USS Donald Cook.

It was a ruse.

While both vessels carry as many as 90 Tomahawk missiles -- the main weapon used in the Friday evening strike on Syria -- neither ship in the end fired a shot. Instead, according to a person familiar with White House war planning, they were part of a plan to distract Russia and its Syrian ally from an assault Assad’s government could do little to defend itself against.

As the president addressed the nation at 9 p.m. Washington time, on Friday, a barrage of 105 U.S., U.K. and French missiles converged on Syria. They came from the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf and the Mediterranean, homing in from three directions to overwhelm whatever missile defenses Assad’s regime might deploy. Russia’s more advanced air defense system didn’t engage the allied weapons.

According to the Pentagon, the allied weaponry included 19 new “Extended-Range” stealthy Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Attack Munitions launched by two B-1B bombers based out of Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and six Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the Virginia-class USS John Warner submarine. The bomber-launched missiles, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., had never been used in combat.

The cruiser USS Monterey fired 30 Tomahawks and the destroyer USS Laboon fired seven Tomahawks from the Red Sea. The destroyer USS Higgins fired 23 Tomahawks from the North Arabian Gulf, according to McKenzie.

The weapons also included French SCALP-EG cruise missiles and British Storm Shadow standoff missiles launched by Tornado and Typhoon jets. Nine SCALP missiles were fired at what the Pentagon said was a chemical weapons storage complex at Hims-Shinshar, along with two SCALPS, nine Tomahawks and eight Storm Shadows.


04-19-2018, 03:54 AM
The strikes themselves: https://theaviationist.com/2018/04/14/everything-we-know-and-no-one-has-said-so-far-about-the-first-waves-of-air-strikes-on-syria/

Claims about successful strikes/missiles lost: https://theaviationist.com/2018/04/14/russia-claims-71-out-of-105-cruise-missiles-downed-in-yestedays-air-strikes-none-were-shot-down-according-to-the-us/

04-20-2018, 10:09 AM
A scholarly overview of Russia's place in Syria and nearby - presumably written before the latest allied air attack, as it is not mentioned.

04-27-2018, 10:29 AM
Professor Paul Rogers overview after the three allies action:
The 14 April missile strike by the United States, France and the UK on three Syrian chemical weapons facilities aimed to enforce a much-scuffed red line on use of chemical weapons. But it was achieved in breach of international law and accompanied by a coordinated political message that the Western allies had no wider intention to oppose the Assad regime or its Russian and Iranian allies in Syria. As such, Trump is already advocating new actors like Egypt take the place of US troops in northeast Syria. While little has changed for Assad, Russia, or Iran in Syria, Israel and Turkey are increasingly dissatisfied with the West’s lack of apparent post-Islamic State strategy there and will act accordingly,

Interesting comments on the French strike:
. In logistic terms the French component was far more complex and wide-ranging, even though it only involved eleven cruise missiles.

05-02-2018, 03:15 AM
IDF claims to have clobbered Iranian missiles on the ground.


05-03-2018, 07:56 AM
ISIS might be an Army of drooling 7th century Troglodytes, but you do have to hand it to them in the Creativity Department.

ISIS butchers have carried out one of the most chilling executions in the terror group's history - by turning a captive into an airborne bomb. Images released on its propaganda channels show a captured and bound Syrian soldier being dropped head-first from a height and exploding on impact with the ground. His body is bound tightly with cords and straightened with long, wooden planks - seemingly to keep him upright and aerodynamic. He was then fitted with a helmet filled with explosives, complete with an impact fuse on the top to trigger the device when his head hit the ground. The man was then thrown off a building in ISIS-controlled territory in the Yarmouk area of Syria, close to the capital Damascus.

Yes, there are photos.

05-09-2018, 11:48 AM
Reuters appears to have only this headline and no supporting text


BEIRUT — Syrian state-run media said Israel struck a military outpost near the capital Damascus on Tuesday, saying its air defenses intercepted and destroyed two of the incoming missiles. The reported attack came an hour after President Donald Trump announced he was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, calling Tehran a main exporter of terrorism in the region.
The official news agency SANA said without elaborating that the attack occurred in the countryside in Kisweh, just south of Damascus, an area known to have numerous Syrian army bases. Syrian TV earlier reported large explosions in the area.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the missiles targeted depots and rocket launchers that likely belonged to Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards in Kisweh, killing nine people. The group, which closely monitors the Syria war through a network of activists on the ground, said it was not clear whether those killed were Revolutionary Guard members or members of a pro-Iranian militia. The report could not be independently confirmed.


05-27-2018, 03:46 PM

06-05-2018, 10:49 AM
An article from Open Democracy that starts to explain why Assad used / uses chemical weapons and offers an explanation of a civil war where nothing is simple. For once the few comments and the author's response are worth reading too.

I'd not spotted this:
In reality, there have been hundreds (http://sn4hr.org/blog/2018/04/04/51795/) of chemical attacks in Syria reported since 2012 - including up to 85 merely in the past year since Trump’s ‘airfield strike’ of April 2017 (according to Human Rights Watch (https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/04/04/syria-year-chemical-weapons-attacks-persist)) - most of which only garner marginal media coverage (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/04/13/world/middleeast/syria-chemical-attacks-maps-history.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur&mtrref=www.facebook.com&mtrref=www.nytimes.com&gwh=0C90C7F729CD1B759CF4BE10CB832BAC&gwt=pay) and provoke little media and online commotion.

Or how territory changes "hands":
In reality, the military support provided by the US administration to the Assad regime, whether by allowing the influx of tens of thousands of fighters (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/assads-secret-ingredient-the-iraq-militarys-unknown_us_5972076be4b0f1feb89b42c2) from the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMUs) backed by the Coalition in Iraq, or by returning former ISIS territories exclusively either to factions collaborating with the regime (the SDF) or the regime itself, has been infinitely more valuable.
(Later) Indeed, one of the biggest ironies of the conflict is that in the fight against ISIS, there have been more recorded occasions of the US-led Coalition supporting pro-regime militias than there have been of active anti-Assad groups.
Link:https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/omar-sabbour/why-would-assad-do-it-debunking-abstract-theories-surrounding-sy? (https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-africa-west-asia/omar-sabbour/why-would-assad-do-it-debunking-abstract-theories-surrounding-sy?utm_source=Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=c38862aba3-DAILY_NEWSLETTER_MAILCHIMP&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_717bc5d86d-c38862aba3-407365113)

06-12-2018, 08:54 AM
Border defences, whether in an insurgency - Algeria and Rhodesia come to mind - or to control border crossing are often controversial:
In related news, Turkey has completed construction (https://www.baladi-news.com/en/news/details/31814/) of a 764-km (475 mile) concrete wall along its border with Syria. Ankara launched the construction project in 2015 for a barrier along 826 of the 911 kms of the border. The modular walls consisted of seven-ton mobile blocks, two meters wide and three meters high, topped with a one-meter height of razor wire. A furhter electronic layer has close-up surveillance systems, thermal cameras, land surveillance radar, remote-controlled weapons systems, command-and-control centers, line-length imaging systems and seismic and acoustic sensors. There is also laser destructive fiber-optic detection, surveillance radar for drone detection, jammers, and sensor-triggered short distance lighting systems.

07-16-2018, 03:55 AM
See here: https://twitter.com/intellipus/status/1018632108691087360

Syrian SAM bases in 2018. CrowBat - thoughts?

07-26-2018, 08:27 PM
From an Israeli think tank:
The Syrian army is completing its takeover of the Syrian Golan Heights while establishing its presence along the border with Israel. The only remaining area of resistance is the ISIS-controlled Yarmouk Basin, which is under attack by the Syrian army, including artillery shelling and airstrikes.....Most of the areas under the control of the rebel organizations fell into the hands of the Syrian army and the forces supporting it, without significant fighting but rather through surrender agreements (so-called reconciliation agreements) involving the Russians. The most prominent area where a surrender agreement was reached was the area of Quneitra. The agreement that was reached included a ceasefire, the return of the Syrian army to all the positions that had been under its control before the civil war, and the evacuation of rebel operatives who did not want to join the agreement to the Idlib region in northern Syria. As a result, Syrian soldiers entered the towns and villages in the area without any fighting, including the village of Al-Rafid, near the border with Israel.

There is more on the link on other developments.

There is a small thread on the Golan Heights, for reference:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/showthread.php?21162-The-Golan-Heights-a-flashpoint-coming

08-06-2018, 08:40 AM
Thanks to a "lurker" for the pointer to this. At times a painful read this piece in 'The Atlantic' offers an explanation why Assad appears today to have won. Being ruthless was one factor and with help from those who simply ignored the critics (akin to Sri Lanka may be).

The last two passages:
From the outside, Assad’s victory looks like no victory at all. He is king of the ashes, overlooking a distraught country from his presidential palace. He has yet to conquer vast swathes of territory and faces ongoing terrorist attacks from jihadist sleeper cells. He must rebuild a heavily indebted, struggling economy, with a shrunken population shorn of much of its technical and intellectual skill. He is reliant on two powerful foreign allies, Russia and Iran, who have infiltrated state institutions and the economy and wield huge influence. He must placate the millions of loyal Syrians who have sacrificed their blood and treasure to keep him on his throne.Yet to Assad and his inner circle, who have been playing a long game, it must seem these problems can still be surmounted, even if it takes decades. For them, the war was about survival, and in this sense they have won. Their own cynicism and ruthlessness at home combined with decisive assistance from abroad (whether intentional or not) has allowed them to remain in power. It was brutal and inhumane but, from their perspective, it worked. That is a chilling lesson for other dictators.

08-23-2018, 12:55 PM
Moscow (AFP) - Russia has sent over 63,000 troops to Syria over the course of its involvement in the conflict, the Russian defence ministry said Wednesday. A total of 63,012 Russian personnel have "received combat experience" in the war-torn country, the ministry said in a video about Russia's campaign to support the Syrian regime dating back to September 2015.

This number includes 25,738 ranking officers and 434 generals as well as 4,349 artillery and rocket specialists, it said. Previously Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in December 2017 that over 48,000 military personnel had taken part in the Syrian campaign.


09-18-2018, 05:32 PM
Moscow (CNN)Syria antiaircraft fire downed a Russian military plane after an Israeli attack on Syrian positions, killing 15 people on board, Moscow said.

Russian state media said Syrian missiles shot the maritime patrol aircraft down amid an attack by Israeli jets in the Latakia region of northwest Syria.
Moscow blamed Israel for putting its aircraft in the line of fire and said it had only a minute's notice of the strike.
"As a result of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military, 15 Russian servicemen were killed, which is absolutely not in keeping with the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership," said Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesperson for the Russian military, according to RIA-Novosti.
In a rare acknowledgment of its military activity in the region, Israel expressed "sorrow" for the loss of Russian life, but blamed the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad.


09-18-2018, 05:36 PM
ANKARA/AMMAN (Reuters) - Turkey will send more troops into Syria’s Idlib province after striking a deal with Russia that has averted a government offensive and delighted rebels who say it keeps the area out of President Bashar al-Assad’s hands.


10-01-2018, 05:48 PM
Iran's Revolutionary Guards said Monday that they had launched at least six ballistic missiles into eastern Syria, targeting those responsible for the recent attack on a military parade in Iran, in order to "convey a clear message to Saudi Arabia, the US and Israel," according to the Hezbollah-affiliated Al Mayadeen news channel.

12-21-2018, 01:00 PM
An article written after President Trump's policy statement via Twitter and the author concludes:
Walking away now is a remarkable gift for Isis, whose leaders can say they saw off the Americans and their allies. Even without the withdrawal, the group would likely have held out for many more months as an organised entity, able to defend what it still had. With its most formidable foe leaving the fray, Isis may well be reborn.

(https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/19/has-isis-been-defeated-in-syria-as-trump-claims)I do wonder if any of the USA's allies and partners had thought this new policy was a possibility? Not only an exit for those US forces on the ground, the likely end for air operations.

How will the Kurdish allies respond? Sadly I expect a few of them knew this would happen one day; after all their recent history shows allies suddenly exit. Will they release the reported thousands of ISIS prisoners, even kill them?

The FT reports:
The political wing of Kurdish-led militia groups backed by the US have held talks with the Syrian regime as part of efforts to protect their hold over a stretch of territory in the war-torn country. The negotiations underline the shifting dynamics in Syria’s seven-year civil war as President Bashar al-Assad reasserts control over much of the country. They also illustrate how the Kurdish militants in north-east Syria now view their future interests as being tied to the regime.

12-24-2018, 06:00 PM
An article by a lady academic / policy analyst (who is a Forum member too), which has had compliments on Twitter. So a couple of passages, near the start:
This has brought to the fore a confusing set of aligned and contradicting responses. It is almost as difficult to keep track of the politics of the comments and commentators as it has been to figure out where and how to stand on the war itself.

She ends with:
This analysis may feel unsatisfying, may seem to leave readers with few answers and more uncertainty regarding their correct apprehension of the current situation, and those challenges to come in the future. That is as intended. And as paradoxical as it may seem, such a state of enlightened confusion will serve the U.S. and the international community better to hedge against hubris, partisanship (https://theglobepost.com/2018/10/01/polarization-politics-study/), or propaganda in national security policies.

12-29-2018, 07:44 AM
An article by a lady academic / policy analyst (who is a Forum member too), which has had compliments on Twitter. So a couple of passages, near the start:

She ends with:
By all respect for the author, and while I know the way of thinking in that article is widespread, I find it nothing less than appalling. See here:

In late 2015, he chose to join the conflict in Syria in firm support of Assad and his regime. Whether this was against ISIS is entirely debatable, but also irrelevant at this point, as their defeat was not the necessary requirement to sustain the regime. Like it or not, irrespective of any opinions on the Syrian leader, this was a realistic strategy with the best chances for success. Assad had the political heft to be a reliable partner in the war. At that moment, the policy and strategy calculus had changed in the Syrian leader’s favor....the only thing missing here would be to declare the war in Syria for 'over'...

'Assad' - is no 'partner', but a 'representative figure'; a 'front' or 'corporate identity' without any capabilities, powers, or money to govern. It took the Russians three years of plentiful and costly 'learning by doing' to save him from a bunch of - supposedly - 'loyal' warlords, not to talk about saving him from insurgency. Even the much famed Republican Guards cannot be described as 'loyal to Assad' any more.

Instead, the result of the Russian intervention is - at most - a temporary stalemate between the Russia-supported Assad-Makhloufs axis, and the Iran-supported Maher-IRGC/Hezbollah axis.

So, the only 'realistic strategy' in all of this is that Putin can comfortably conclude that the West is more than happy to continue falling for his scam in Syria.

What remained to be decided was how and when ISIS’ state demise would be orchestrated and what a post-civil war Syria would look like. ISIS’ defeat in Iraq was on the march but would struggle so long as the former’s strength of position remained in Syria. In that moment, I would have recommended the difficult choice to side with Putin on Assad (and I did so at the time, on CNN International, with Hala Gorani)....typically short-sighted view of the situation. It makes me wonder what amount of illusions people prefer to simple acceptation of reality.

Firstly: all the Western powers have given up on Syria even before Putin launched his gamble. Everybody was only too happy to say, 'Syria's not our problem, leave it to the Russians (and Iran), we only fight Daesh there'.

Secondly: neither Putin, nor Assad have any kind of solutions for Syria, nor are they solutions for Syria. On the contrary: Assad is the core reason for all the problems there - including all the religious extremism.

The most they're going to manage is to run a para-state with official representative to the UN, buying plenty of time for the IRGC to complete its take-over of the country.

In whose accounting is that a 'solution' - and for what exactly, please? For creation of another failed state and a never-ending conflict - and then one certain to remain active and more destructive than those in Afghanistan and Lebanon (combined)...?

Instead, in early 2016 the U.S. led the middling position to fight ISIS in Syria (with airpower and aid to local forces) without full support to Assad. This has enabled the defeat of the ISIS territorial state but has left undetermined the thornier problem of the enduring civil war in Syria and the role ISIS can continue to play in it.Why is it so hard to call a spade a spade...? Once again, the USA decided to fight the effects of disease, instead of the disease itself.

Well, at least you can congratulate yourself for one thing: 100+ years since Sykes/Picot, and the US decision-makers learned absolutely nothing at all - especially not about the Middle East. Man, that's some stamina.

There is a military mission that plays an important role in the continuing fight against ISIS in support of critical allies like the Kurds, but which is difficult to explain or justify insofar as its broader policy objectives are concerned.Two questions here:

1.) Since when is PKK = Kurds?

2.) Since when is it 'broader policy' to let Pentagon circumvent US law prohibiting cooperation with the PKK through re-naming it into 'Syrian Democratic Forces'?

Indeed, what kind of 'policy' is that...?

This analysis may feel unsatisfying, may seem to leave readers with few answers and more uncertainty regarding their correct apprehension of the current situation, and those challenges to come in the future. That is as intended. And as paradoxical as it may seem, such a state of enlightened confusion will serve the U.S. and the international community better to hedge against hubris, partisanship, or propaganda in national security policies.
Oh, special thanks: this with 'enlightened confusion' reminds me of Rumsfeld's 'unknown unknowns'. Really, the perfect recipe for creation of never-ending conflict like those in Afghanistan or Lebanon, though 10x bigger by scale and intensity.

Best of all is that thanks to such viewpoints like those expressed in this article, all the Western politicians and other sorts of talking-heads are going to remain 'proud forever' for all of the 'solutions for Syria' they've 'found' - while sitting on millions of Syrian refugees, and convincing Turkey it's good for it to continue sitting on millions of Syrian refugees, too.

12-30-2018, 11:37 PM
In the night of December 25th, The Israeli Air Force (IAF) delivered its first clandestine strike on Syrian targets after President Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops. As assessed in our latest policy impact analysis and recently reinforced by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the U.S. withdrawal will force Israel to ramp up its counter-Iran operations in Syria. The “Christmas raid” is as much a political statement as it is a continuation of the over 100 Israeli covert airstrikes in Syria. The Syrian Air Defense Forces (SADF) showed a mixed performance, but managed to intercept the majority of Israel’s air-launched missiles.

https://t-intell.com/2018/12/30/israels-christmas-raid-in-syria-target-assessment-and-russian-reaction/?fbclid=IwAR1udL_-eqBwXmuRM9Ccbsqq09iFacusdB2rtP05isS_1DyA9BJSLEw6Nb o

01-11-2019, 02:44 PM
I rarely spot their products, this however looks good if you are Syria focused. It starts with:
In just a few days of fighting with Turkey-backed rebels, jihadist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) has raised its stake in the last opposition-held area in northern Syria. Within a week of launching attacks on a rival Islamist faction, HTS has expanded its control in the north, capturing most of western Aleppo Province, including the key towns of Darat Izza and Atarib.
The infighting in the north is not unprecedented - clashes between rebels and HTS have been intermittent over the past two years.
But the speed in which HTS has captured territory in the north, and the silence of key regional players – mainly Turkey - over these developments raises questions about what is happening behind the scenes. It also puts one of the last rebel areas in Syria at risk of a ground offensive by pro-government factions who may argue that they need to oust jihadists.

01-14-2019, 10:28 AM
Via: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-46859164

01-14-2019, 10:34 AM
Via The Soufan Group a brief on Idlib Province which starts with:
Over the last week, HTS, operating under cover of what is thought to be its administrative wing, referred to as ‘the Salvation Government,’ has routed or negotiated the surrender of the last remaining ‘moderate’ rebel coalition, the Turkish-backed National Liberation Front (NLF). The NLF receives significant support from Turkey, and its collapse suggests that either Turkey cannot help the NLF enough to prevent its demise, or that the Erdogan government chooses not to for reasons having to do more with the Kurds and Manbij.

Elsewhere the BBC reports on threats by President Trump to Turkey.

I am pretty sure there are no US forces in Idlib Province.


02-06-2019, 04:26 PM
Cross posting this. My 2nd interview with author Tom Cooper (http://musingsoniraq.blogspot.com/2019/02/iran-and-its-iraqi-allies-role-in.html). This time we discussed the role of the Iranian Rev Guard in the Iraq and Syrian wars.

02-26-2019, 10:39 AM
A BBC report on the spread of an Islamist group (HTS), which claims to have cut links to AQ. The map below is interesting, especially the location of Turkish outposts within HTS areas.


03-26-2019, 09:33 AM
Baghouz (Syria) (AFP) - Suicide bombers, snipers, rockets -- Islamic State group fighters did everything they could to defend their last scrap of territory in eastern Syria, but their diminished resources were not enough.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces on Saturday declared victory over the jihadists in the remote village of Baghouz, after reducing their once terrifying proto-state to a ghostly riverside camp.

After declaring a "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq in 2014, they ruled over millions in territory the size of the United Kingdom.

But in the previously unheard of village of Baghouz, the group's fighters have emerged from tunnels and caves in the rocky hillside to surrender.

On Sunday, AFP reporters saw dozens of people -- mostly bearded men in heavy woollen tunics, some with their faces concealed in a scarf -- trudge out of the battered camp.


07-27-2019, 05:20 PM
Recommended by a "lurker" this interesting NYRB article, it dissects what has happened to this loyal community, their losses and the apparently little gain for this.