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Thread: Syria under Bashir Assad (closed end 2014)

  1. #601
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo
    Interesting end to the video, as the SRF leave to possibly fight for a Christian village, beyond which lies a regime-held village, their leader makes a clear statement on the place of Christians amongst them. Tolerance, respect and justice.

    I wonder how the Jihadist PR machine will cope with such videos.
    They can't cope with this; that's why the ISIS eventually left.

    But anyway, yes, that's the way even Syrian Salafists I happen to know see their future, not only 'moderate Sunnis' (and is also the reason why I say that it's dumb to consider them for 'Islamist extremists', or describe this war as one between AQ and a laicist regime).

    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    Crowbat,

    The sad thing is that the US really does have competent people (and plenty of them)...
    No doubt. But, they are too few and not influential enough (partially because they are considered 'not politically correct').

    That aside, keep in mind that 'power corrupts' - already anyone who only thinks about starting to exercise power.

    ***********

    After the fall of Yabroud, Suleimani appears to have rotated his forces (again): Hezbollah and the IRGC/RGD are either withdrawn or given rest, while the NDF - primarily elements of the former 3rd and 11th Armoured Divisions, plus the 156th Missile Brigade - and the SyAAF are sent into pursuit.

    There are more reports about the SyAAF bombign Arsal, though also about negotiations related to locals refusing to accept the influx of additional Syrian insurgents and the JAN. Seems they're affraid of even more attacks by the SyAAF - and then also by the Hezbollah. Though, if I'm to ask, the Hezbollah might attack Arsal only if they became keen to launch a new civil war in Lebanon.

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    For whatever it still matters (considering recent developments in regards of USA-Saudi Arabia-Moslem Brotherhood-Hamas-Qatar-Iran relations), here a very interesting story on The Northern Storm Brigade: It’s History, Current Status, and Why It Matters.

    If anybody wonders why:
    ...In many ways, the story of the NSB parallels the story of the revolution. Originally formed to combat the regime, internal funding interests impeded the group from actively coordinating with others, hurting the cohesiveness of the rebellion. The influx of foreign fighters and extremists would later weaken the NSB to the point where it ceased to be a factor on the ground. In the wake of the uprisings against ISIS, it now sees the opportunity to reestablish itself. But the road ahead will not be easy, and in a large part depends on securing foreign support.
    ...

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    Default Good for Israel

    Israel bombs Syrian posts over Golan attack on its troops

    Syria claims one dead and a handful wounded... interested in what the target was or the true casualty figures.

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    BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian troops captured a famous Crusades-era citadel Thursday near the border with Lebanon after days of intense clashes against opposition fighters, the latest victory by government forces in the border area, state media and officials said.

    Lebanese private broadcaster Al-Mayadeen TV aired live footage of Syrian troops raising the national flag on the towering hilltop perch of the Crac des Chevaliers. The structure appeared intact and cracks of celebratory gunfire could be heard as troops moved around the sprawling area.

    "Our efforts, those of the Syrian Arab Army and the National Defense Forces, were crowned today by raising the Syrian flag on the Crac des Chevaliers," an unnamed Syrian army colonel told Al-Mayadeen.

    Syrian state television said troops "wiped out terrorists who were entrenched in the castle." Syrian authorities refer to opposition fighters as terrorists.
    http://news.yahoo.com/syrian-troops-...html?__fssrc=1
    A scrimmage in a Border Station
    A canter down some dark defile
    Two thousand pounds of education
    Drops to a ten-rupee jezail


    http://i.imgur.com/IPT1uLH.jpg

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    The map is produced using information from the Syria Needs Analysis Project (SNAP) as well as other geographical information from humanitarian groups and Google maps. SNAP uses a wide variety of sources, including humanitarian organisations, the Syrian government, opposition groups, the media and key informants.

    Mapping territorial possession is made more difficult by the tactics employed by the various rebel groups. They operate as highly mobile guerrilla forces, and when threatened by government troops will not defend territory but rather tactically withdraw with the aim of preventing losses.


    Link:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22798391
    davidbfpo

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    Erdogan Says Turkey Shot Down Syrian Warplane Near Border

    “A Syrian plane violated our airspace,” Erdogan said during an election rally in Kocaeli province, east of Istanbul. “Turkish F-16s took off and shot it down.”

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    Default Hezbollah Winning in Syria: At What Price?

    An interesting backgrounder:
    Hezbollah’s open intervention in its neighbour’s civil war has from the outset posed many questions and provoked not a little anxiety. What exactly are Hezbollah’s aims in Syria? In light of the reprisals that have been conducted by its Syrian foes and their sympathizers in areas sympathetic to the group or under its control, doesn’t it have more to lose than to gain? Finally, and in particular, does Hezbollah risk losing its popular base and its pre-eminence on the national level in Lebanon?
    Link:http://www.lobelog.com/hezbollah-win...at-what-price/

    There is an odd passage - my emphasis, perhaps an exaggeration:
    ..the first units were members of local self-defense forces that formed spontaneously in the increasingly conflicted zone along the border. Having never been precisely demarcated, the border between northeast Lebanon and Syria constitutes a large area that is home to some 30 villages actually inhabited by Lebanese — mainly Shiite — citizens, all of whom, however, are subject to Syrian sovereignty. Given their sectarian character, these villages were targeted early on by Sunni jihadi groups linked to the opposition.
    davidbfpo

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    In Syria, the United States is learning the lessons of inaction

    He ends thus:

    There are limits to U.S. power, which must be factored into policy choices. But a predisposition to passivity has costs — to U.S. interests, to nervous friends and allies and to the victims of ongoing atrocities. And these should be factored in as well.

  9. #609
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    An interesting backgrounder:

    Link:http://www.lobelog.com/hezbollah-win...at-what-price/

    There is an odd passage - my emphasis, perhaps an exaggeration:
    The area is actually nicely demarcated already since the times of the French Mandate, 1920-1946. The French used to be very pedantic over such issues, so this rather sounds like first Hezbollah claims over specific parts of Syria.

    The rest depends on what does he mean with 'early on'?

    First Hezbollah units (few videos of them in action appeared on YouTube, back then) became involved in fighting insurgents already in early 2012, shortly after Zabadani (former HQ of the II Corps Syrian Army) became the first city in Syria liberated from Bashar's regime.

    Strictly speaking, 'Civil War' as such was only some 6 months old at that time.

    Problem is that around that time the JAN was still only in the process of being organized, and that this process was run inside southern suburbs of Damascus, about 40km away from the given area. And: that was 'only' some eight months before the ISIS entered Syria... which makes one wonder: what kind of 'Sunni jihadi groups' have they seen there...?

    ***********

    BTW, the SyAAF jet fighter shot down by Turks two days ago was a MiG-23. Sub-variant remains unclear. The pilot, Thabet Abdo Ismail, ejected safely. He said that he was seven kilometres inside Syria when shot down: certainly enough, a Turkish TV team that filmed his downing from about 1km away was about 2km inside Turkey...

    Anyway, 'air power enthusiasts' might find it interesting that this was already the second kill scored by the THK F-16s using AIM-9X Sidewinders (first was the Syrian Mi-17, shot down last year) - and the first AIM-9X-kill against a fighter jet, ever.

    The area over which this MiG was shot down is a scene of an excellently prepared, high-profile, PR-operation launched by units from the Islamic Front and the JAN, with the aim of distracting the regime (and especially Maj Gen Suleimani) from ops in Qalamoun area, but also from the insurgent offensive that has overrun parts of NW Aleppo and pushed NDF forces out of the Sheikh Najjar Industrial City, NE of Aleppo, in turn putting the regime garrison of ACP under siege again. More importantly, this operation reportedly caused another quarrel between Bashar and Suleimani: for fourth time in less than one year, Suleimani was kind of 'overruled' by Bashar and had to stop one of his offensives in order to protect politically important targets. Reason: Bashar - or better said: his Alawi brethren - is seemingly finding it 'unacceptable' to lose any parts of Lattakiya Province. Could cost him the rest of their support.

    Given he's meanwhile little else but an Iranian puppet, his countermanding of Suleimani's orders might soon cost him his head too (at least I hope so).

    Back to Kasab: after the capture of Kasab border crossing, two days ago, this offensive into Lattakiya culminated with insurgents - supported by IF-operated T-55s - assaulting the nearby Hill 44 (with an important 'observation post') and reaching the sea. Yesterday, after receiving reinforcements that arrived all the way from Damascus and with strong support from the SyAAF (seems, they do dare flying over Kasab again; guess, the SyAAF moved one of its SA-17 sites into the zone), the NDF launched an all-out counterattack and supposedly overrun the insurgents. Combined reported casualties are meanwhile reaching about 600.

    Suleimani is presently busy sorting out the mess created by the NDF and SSNP during their attacks into Moarek: this town is some 25km north of Hama, on the road to Ma'arat an-Numan, and some 10km south of Khan Sheikhoun. The latter town is held by the insurgents, but under siege by regime forces, which in turn are under siege by by insurgents... (typical Syrian story, I know), and it seems that Suleimani would like to either box the regime forces out of encirclement, or reinforce them and assault Khan Sheikhoun. But, because of Bashar's insistence on moving reinforcements to Lattakiya, and because of the lack of fuel... well, he could only deploy a part of forces necessary for this task (plus, he didn't manage to finish the insurgents in southern part of the Qalamoun range, where the 104th Brigade RGD is assaulting Rankus since 4 weeks, but didn't gain an inch of ground yet).

    The NDF and SSNP are investing Moarek since about 25 days, and have lost a similar number of MBTs and IFVs, plus about 200 KIA/WIA in the process. Suleimani apparently dispatched his combined IRGC/Hezbollahi (Iraqi Shi'a) unit operating T-72s and BMP-2s of the former 105th Brigade RGD there.

    Will be an interestin' battle...

  10. #610
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    Default Suspects into Collaborators: Assad's gamble that failed

    A short article in LRB by Prof. Peter Neumann, of Kings ICSR. It starts with:
    Three years ago, it was hard to find anything significant about Syria in books about al-Qaida. Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower, which many consider the definitive history of al-Qaida, contains only five references, while Fawaz Gerges’s The Rise and Fall of al-Qaida mentions Syria just once, as the home of Osama bin Laden’s mother. Today, by contrast, Syria is widely – and correctly – seen as the cradle of a resurgent al-Qaida: a magnet for jihadist recruits, which offers the networks, skills and motivation needed to produce a new generation of terrorists. How did this happen? And why did it happen so quickly.

    For Bashar al-Assad, the blame lies with outsiders – especially Turkey and the Gulf monarchies – who have used their money and influence to sponsor the uprising, arm the rebels and supply foreign recruits. This is certainly the case, but it’s only part of the story. In the years that preceded the uprising, Assad and his intelligence services took the view that jihad could be nurtured and manipulated to serve the Syrian government’s aims. It was then that foreign jihadists first entered the country and helped to build the structures and supply lines that are now being used to fight the government. To that extent Assad is fighting an enemy he helped to create.
    Link:http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n07/peter-n...-collaborators
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    To that extent Assad is fighting an enemy he helped to create.
    Halleluja. Blessed be Neumann.

    Can't believe that somebody is finally stating this in the public.

    *************

    Reports from battlefields in Syria were 'funny' today. Well, kind of: I guess they were not the least funny for involved commanders, primarily not those on the regime side. IMHO, if Suleimani's hair wouldn't already be grey, it would've get that colour today.

    Since two days YouTube is buzzing with videos showing spoils of insurgent offensive into NW and NE parts of the city (plus effects of another Saudi-supplied batch of ATGMs), such like these:

    - 1 MBT ko in Sheikh Najjar IC (the NDF was forced to withdraw from this place):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HDsLkKcC4cA

    - 2 MBTs and a BMP captured in Aziza:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3MdJJhy3uo
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3MdJJhy3uo

    - Another T-55 captured:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIwrQSolYF4

    If this goes on like this, and provided he might get enough fuel for such a manoeuvre, Suleimani might want to rush his IRGC/Hezbollahi force all the way north again. I'm surprised the NDF is doing that well in losing all that the Iranians gained for it in November and December: at earlier times, the Syrian Arab Army was kind of renowed for its staunch and relatively skillfull defence of well-fortified positions...

    Now they can't do even that properly, and this despite training and leadership by the IRGC. Perhaps all the losses the NDF suffered so far are 'biting' after all...?

    ***********

    Lattakiya
    Pro-regime sources are all in delirium. Despite mass panic that broke out in Lattakiya (City) ever since the insurgent BM-21 attack on the local NDF HQ (which marked the start of the insurgent offensive on Kasab, and - apparently - killed two of Bashar's cousins including one of leading Shabihas), they are full of claims for hundreds of 'terrorists' killed in counterattacks on the latter town. Correspondingly, Kasab is under heavy artillery bombardment since yesterday. Reportedly, the regime is attempting to prevent insurgents from digging in; others say it is already in the process of 'softening' their positions before going in. SyAAF should be involved too, but there are no reports about specific sorties: just that there is 'relentless bombardment' of the place.

    For their part, the insurgents are claiming to still be on advance: they should have captured Jabal Tshalma (highest point around Kasab), and Qasal Ma'af (supposedly killing 120 and capturing 25 regime troops in the process).

    The regime meanwhile confirmed that it has lost 50 KIA in fighting there so far, SOHR puts the casualties at around '100 fighters on each side'.

    ***********

    Hama
    Still no breakthrough for Suleimani in Moarek, only videos documenting additional regime's armour losses, including 2 here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0s_jEzksMQ8

    ...1 here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPE_TXOJR50

    ...plus 1 here (could be the same like one from a video showing four regime's T-55s knocked out two days ago):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNPTPEpdrsI

    Videos taken in Khan Sheikhoun area, some 20 clicks further north, indicate the insurgents are in the process of breaking the regime's siege of that place. They have definitely overrun at least a battery of M54 guns (130mm) and captured several MBTs, including at least one T-72:
    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=117_1395865808

    ***********

    Qalamoun
    Regime is reporting the death of CO Qalamoun Military Council and that of the CO Liwa Saif al-Haq (IF), in Rankus. It's hard to gauge, but it seems this was some sort of 'special forces operation' launched by either the Hezbollah or (more likely) the IRGC, few days ago (probably around 22 March) with the aim of crushing insurgent resistance in this area.

    Otherwise, the NDF has re-launched its attempts to capture the village of Falita, one of two last Syrian villages short of the Lebanese border. But, contrary to what was expected just a week ago, and despite all the delirious announcements by regime supporters, 'they' still didn't manage to push the withdrawing insurgents back to the Lebanese border...

    Meanwhile, the insurgents in Rankus area are learning to drive T-72M1s...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Gx7ciEvvzU

    ...and T-72AVs captured from the 104th Brigade RGD...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSi17FtVdj8

    ***********

    Dera'a
    After the fall of the so-called 'Silo Barrier', two days ago...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXrWkusgnVM
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye8nVzoXX2k

    ...it's a kind of 'roll over' there. See these two videos showing some 10 BMPs and 2 MBTs captured by insurgents:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xer5pPiUDQ0
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oUFv3TTjjdE

    Outside that city, it's very much the same:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fexIUZYqDI

    Gauging by the last known size of the regime's garrison in Dera'a (from about 2-3 months ago) - which was about 30 MBTs and BMP-1s in total, plus about 1,500 combatants - this means something like that the mechanized component of the force in question has been annihilated.

    ***********

    Overall, the media is full of news from Kasab, while entirely ignoring events elsewhere. Unsurprisingly, various talking heads are therefore concluding that the regime is about to win this war.

    In reality, my 'best guess', if you like, is that the situation is imposing a dilemma on Suleimani (and Bashar): let the NDF troops in Khan Sheikhoun get overrun or invest (and suffer even more) into a break-through at Moarek? Ignore all of this (accepting significant losses) and let Bashar cheer for achieving nothing in northern Lattakiya... or go and save Aleppo (again)? And how to finish off insurgents in Qalamoun, not to talk about what to do about Dera'a?

    We'll see what the coming days (if not weeks) are going to bring. But, somehow, I doubt he's got enough troops and fuel for all of this. And doing it one by one is going to take months.
    Last edited by CrowBat; 03-27-2014 at 09:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    We'll see what the coming days (if not weeks) are going to bring. But, somehow, I doubt he's got enough troops and fuel for all of this. And doing it one by one is going to take months.
    So right now an effective strike on Suleimani's HQ - taking him out - could tip the balance, yes?

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    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    Hard to say.

    On one side, he's not the only highly-experienced IRGC general in Syria. Maj Gen Hamadani (former C-in-C Basiji Corps) is in charge of the NDF, and Brig Gen (possibly advanced to Maj Gen, recently) Jamali (former CO Kerman Security Council with extensive experience in fighting against Afghan and Pakistani drug dealers and asymmetric warfare), is in charge of the entire Syrian intelligence network (including the National Security Bureau, the Air Force Intelligence, the Military Intelligence Directorate/Department of Military Intelligence, General Intelligence Directorate and Political Security Directorate, which in turn are operating their own militias too).

    Suleimani is actually under the command of Vahid Haganian, who is a link between Khamenei and the top of the IRGC (and thus the Failaq al-Quds/Quds Force): means, Suleimani has to do what Vahid tells him Khamenei said he should do (in systems of this kind, this is making Vahid more powerful than either, Suleimani or Khamenei).

    So, 'technically', I doubt his loss would make that big difference. Nobody, no matter in what function or where, is 'irreplacable'.

    But sure, Suleimani is in charge of the Quds force since 16 years and now has more than a year of experience from commanding the battlefield in Syria (and he, and his officers have really changed a lot, and are often making the difference). Except Bashar keeps on insisting on playing a biiiig general and continues countermanding Suleimani's orders through private calls to specific commanders in field Suleimani is generally accepted by Syrians (according to sources within regime forces, they have received the order that he is 'the second most important man in Syria and they should listen to every single of his orders, to the last dot and comma, no discussion, period'). Finally, no matter how important he might be in Tehran, he is simply _the_ power figure for plenty of people in the Middle East (especially so in Iraq, where everybody - including Maliki - is shuddering when Suleimani's name is mentioned).

    Finally, it's certain that the insurgents would remove him, if they only could find him. They are meanwhile excelling at sniping, IEDing - even BM-21-ing - regime commanders (mind the BM-21 attack on NDF HQ in Lattakiya City, few days ago, in which two of Bashar's cousins were killed, two injured etc., or the sniping of Brig Gen Ahmed Mansour in Aleppo, yesterday).

    I'm rather surprised the Israelis didn't target him yet, then they not only have the reasons and the means to find and track him: he should be their priority No.1 there (except it's in their interest for Suleimani to keep on resupplying Hezbollah and Palestinians in West Gaza with weapons 'made in Syria').

  14. #614
    Council Member CrowBat's Avatar
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    ...another indication of the IRGC's pride for its work in Syria:
    'Syrian NDF modeled on Basij' - IRGC (be patient: it's an Iranian website that might take time to download)
    ...Armed Forces General Staff HQ Deputy IRGC Maj. Gen. Gholam Ali Rashid gave a speech in Dezful this week to war veterans on the commemorative occasion of Operation Undeniable Victory (March 1982), delivering a candid talk on a range of important issues. The first part of this brief post will discuss his comments on Iran's involvement in the Syrian conflict. Farther down, other issues brought up by Rashid will be addressed, including nuclear negotiations and regional foreign affairs.

    In his speech, Maj. Gen. Gholam Ali Rashid stated that Syria's National Defense Front (NDF) has been modeled after Iran's Basij militia, confirming American intelligence assessments as far back as 2013. Rashid even went so far as to state NDF inception as an IRGC-QF recommendation that was accepted by Syria's leadership.

    The NDF is organized similar to the Basij as a light infantry force, comprised of part-time volunteer reservists. The more secular complexion of NDF might at first glance appear as something of a deviation from Iran's Basij. However, reflected in the inclusive spirit of Iran's Tribal Basij in enlisting diverse Iranian elements. the Syrian NDF is predominantly drawn from Alawites, Christians, Druzes and Armenians. Interestingly enough, like the Iranian Basij during the Iran-Iraq War in relation to their Artesh counterparts, the NDF is considered more motivated and loyal than the attrition-depleted and replacement-filled rank and file of SAA.

    The Syrian conflict has provided the IRGC with a lengthy, sustained period of tactical battlefield observation and experience not seen since the days of the Iran-Iraq and First Lebanon wars. In publicity photos from the recent Basij "Towards Jerusalem" exercises, a higher level of training is to be interpreted, particularly for the Tehran formation. Moreover, Iranian military thinkers must be reckoning their biggest land war threat is not an American GF invasion on a scale of or larger than OIF. Rather, the land war threat is more similar to examples found in Syria, Libya and Iraq (occupied and post OIF), where Basij-like rapid reaction formations would for Iran potentially play a critical role (as they are now in Syria).

    It has to be said the Syrian conflict has provided a current generation of Iranian military tacticians with adaptive lessons learned, particularly on offense, to be applied toward doctrine and training for their own IRGC and Basij forces. Evidence of such taking form in Syria at a command level is reflected in their application of armor/infantry tactics for the urban battlefield, SF night operations, heliborne operations, UAV missions, force rotation management, logistics and more.

    Maj. Gen. Rashid persisted with the official Iran position that there are no IRGC combat formations fighting in Syria, but that there are IRGC-QF advisors assisting Syrian military forces.
    ...

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    You answered the question as you went along... got to kill the snake with a blow to its head.


    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    Hard to say.

    On one side, he's not the only highly-experienced IRGC general in Syria. Maj Gen Hamadani (former C-in-C Basiji Corps) is in charge of the NDF, and Brig Gen (possibly advanced to Maj Gen, recently) Jamali (former CO Kerman Security Council with extensive experience in fighting against Afghan and Pakistani drug dealers and asymmetric warfare), is in charge of the entire Syrian intelligence network (including the National Security Bureau, the Air Force Intelligence, the Military Intelligence Directorate/Department of Military Intelligence, General Intelligence Directorate and Political Security Directorate, which in turn are operating their own militias too).

    Suleimani is actually under the command of Vahid Haganian, who is a link between Khamenei and the top of the IRGC (and thus the Failaq al-Quds/Quds Force): means, Suleimani has to do what Vahid tells him Khamenei said he should do (in systems of this kind, this is making Vahid more powerful than either, Suleimani or Khamenei).

    So, 'technically', I doubt his loss would make that big difference. Nobody, no matter in what function or where, is 'irreplacable'.

    But sure, Suleimani is in charge of the Quds force since 16 years and now has more than a year of experience from commanding the battlefield in Syria (and he, and his officers have really changed a lot, and are often making the difference). Except Bashar keeps on insisting on playing a biiiig general and continues countermanding Suleimani's orders through private calls to specific commanders in field Suleimani is generally accepted by Syrians (according to sources within regime forces, they have received the order that he is 'the second most important man in Syria and they should listen to every single of his orders, to the last dot and comma, no discussion, period'). Finally, no matter how important he might be in Tehran, he is simply _the_ power figure for plenty of people in the Middle East (especially so in Iraq, where everybody - including Maliki - is shuddering when Suleimani's name is mentioned).

    Finally, it's certain that the insurgents would remove him, if they only could find him. They are meanwhile excelling at sniping, IEDing - even BM-21-ing - regime commanders (mind the BM-21 attack on NDF HQ in Lattakiya City, few days ago, in which two of Bashar's cousins were killed, two injured etc., or the sniping of Brig Gen Ahmed Mansour in Aleppo, yesterday).

    I'm rather surprised the Israelis didn't target him yet, then they not only have the reasons and the means to find and track him: he should be their priority No.1 there (except it's in their interest for Suleimani to keep on resupplying Hezbollah and Palestinians in West Gaza with weapons 'made in Syria').

  16. #616
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Interesting and mostly scary stuff, CrowBat. Thanks for the updates.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

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    Ah sorry: I think I understood your question only now.

    All involved sides have commanders of the opposite side as priority No.1 on their targeting lists. But, the death of the same is not always changing situation on the battlefield. Or at best, it does, but only temporarily. Overall, it's changing next to nothing.

    For example: instructed by the IRGC-QF, the regime launched this campaign very early during protesting, back in 2011, aiming to kill leading activists. It sniped, arrested, detained, tortured and murdered thousands of them - with no effect. They were always rapidly replaced by - usually - more skilled, more cautios too, people.

    The insurgents hit back with a similar campaign, which reached its peak in July 2012 with the bombing of that HQ in Damascus, killing several of Bashar's top commanders. But, these were replaced by junior officers, and then by Iranians.

    When the ISIS began spreading in Syria, it went after insurgent commanders and did its best to execute dozens of these, in turn throwing much of the insurgency into chaos, and bringing it on the verge of collapse. What happened: new, much more skilled commanders appeared, better supported from abroad (especially by Saudis), and more capable of re-uniting the insurgents.

    Except for killing thousands of civilians (whether by targeting apartment buildings or bakeries), the SyAAF is running a campaign of targeting insurgent HQs at latest since summer 2012. At earlier times they were primarily deploying Mi-25s and L-39s for this purpose. For example, they have hit the same insurgent HQ in SE Aleppo four times within two days, killing a number of COs. Without effect, as can be seen.

    Since October last year, the SyAAF is deploying MiG-23MFs armed with Kh-23 (AS-7 Kerry) and MiG-29s armed with Kh-29s (AS-14 Kedge) to target insurgent HQs in Aleppo and Idlib Provinces. One of MiG-23s has hit the HQ of the Liwa al-Tawhid in N Aleppo, back in December, killing the CO and most of the command cadre (a MiG-29 did something similar in Dayr az-Zawr, practically 'killing' a major onslaught on remaining regime positions in that city, and buying the regime plenty of time to recover, in return). As a consquence, Liwa al-Tawhid lost much of its integrity, and then influence too. But, overall, this didn't disturb the recover of insurgency in this part of Syria: they forced the ISIS out, and are now back in force in that city.

    I guess that it shouldn't be too hard for the IASF to track down and kill Suleimani. It has already killed one of his deputies during bombardment of RGD bases in NW Damascus, back in February 2013. But, this changed absolutely nothing (or if, then it reinforced Suleimani's resolve).

    Indeed, let's expand this 'Israeli example' even further: the Israelis are liquidating all the possible Arab leaders and military commanders already since something like 50 years (at least since they attempted to assassinate Field Marshal Amer, by downing the Ilyushin Il-14 that was to return him to Cairo from a visit to Damascus, on the evening of 28 October 1958). They were trying to kill Arafat for 30 years (some say they've eventually got him with a dose of Polonium), and they are violating every single cease-fire with Hamas by attacks on its leaders until this very day.

    And they were never successful with this 'tactics'. It's rather amazing how insistent are Israelis at reinforcing an obvious failure: indeed, so amazing, that I really wonder why didn't they hit Suleimani long ago.

    But overall, all of this is why I say that it's 'hard to gauge'. No matter how many and what commanders in Syria are killed, this war is a stalemate already since one year.
    Last edited by CrowBat; 03-28-2014 at 02:33 PM.

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    Default Leadership removal: a short Israeli diversion

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    Quote Originally Posted by CrowBat View Post
    Indeed, let's expand this 'Israeli example' even further: the Israelis are liquidating all the possible Arab leaders and military commanders already since something like 50 years .....And they were never successful with this 'tactics'. It's rather amazing how insistent are Israelis at reinforcing an obvious failure....
    I cannot readily see if you commented when the 'The Gatekeepers' documentary was being debated here, but IIRC six Shin Beth Directors argued that the leadership removal approach was not helping Israeli security. The last comments on the Israeli COIN thread refer:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=4661
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Cited in part only:

    I cannot readily see if you commented when the 'The Gatekeepers' documentary was being debated here, but IIRC six Shin Beth Directors argued that the leadership removal approach was not helping Israeli security. The last comments on the Israeli COIN thread refer:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ead.php?t=4661
    Didn't see 'The Gatekeepers' but perhaps we are merging targeted assassinations/killings of terrorists in their home environments with the tactical targeting of military commanders in the field.

    With the former the problem was always the colateral damage - meaning his family, neighbours and other civilians in the area at the time. The Israelis have improved greatly in reducing the collateral damage - not because the Arabs are concerned (they have no concern about collateral damage when they dish it out) but rather Europeans and North Americans who wring their hands endlessly.

    On the other hand taking-out an operational field command post with commander and staff and all communications equipment can achieve more tactically than the killing of hundreds of 'grunts'. There should be no collateral damage in this regard - unless they start to use human shields (which they will if they know a missile has their name on it).

    Suleimani is an experienced field commander and should be taken out. Of course he will be replaced... but by junior less experienced commander. If you keep playing this game eventually the command competence level will drop to a level which will give the insurgents a fair chance in combat.
    Last edited by JMA; 03-29-2014 at 09:02 AM.

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    Haven't seen it before. And, well, Shin Beth bosses can complain as much as they like: all the governments since Ben Gurion are ordering such attacks, no matter how ineffective - or directly counterproductive - they turn to be (in total). That said, it's ironic that one of few failures in such attacks - the interception of that Il-14 in October 1956 - proved far more useful for Israelis than a success. The plane was shot down by an Israeli Meteor jet, but Amr was not on board. As should be well-known, Amr subsequently lost nerves, resulting in Egyptian military defeat of 1956. Nasser kept him in his position, but this only resulted in Amr turning the professional Egyptian military into such a quagmire during the early 1960s, that the catastrophic defeat of 1967 was simply unavoidable.

    So, I guess, sometimes 'doing less' might be a better idea. Still, my conclusion is that there is no chance that this might be the reason for the Israelis not attempting to hit Suleimani. There must be a reason they do not consider that their problem - or they simply consider his activity in Syria as in their interest.

    That said, this morning the insurgents are claiming to have ambushed the convoy carrying one of top regime generals ('Head of Military Security') in Idlib province, Ahmad al-Awad, and assassinated him. He was apparently travelling along the road from Ariha to Lattakiya. Three of his bodyguards were killed too.

    This is probably thruth, but there is still no reason to expect the regime positions in Idlib to collapse now.

    *************

    Meanwhile it seems all the imaginable al-Qaida-linked idiots of the JAN are rushing to Lattakiya province to earn themselves laurels. The Long War Journal is reporting the presence of Muslim ash-Shishani (Chechen Jihadist that defected with his Jund ash-Sham group from the ISIS to join the JAN), Abu Tarab ash-Shishani, etc., etc., etc., and 'Dr.' Abdullah Muhammad al-Muhysini, Saudi cleric linked to AQ. At least they were to be seen on a video showing them cheering the capture of Hill 45, uploaded on YouTube on 26 March.

    (Roggio is wrong though, in regards of declaring Chechens for 'some of the fiercest units in the Syrian Civil War', or explaining they re 'routinely in the forefront of the fighitng': nearly all of their 'operations' took place in the wake of insurgent attacks, and were 'limited' to actions like destroying local churches, slaughtering civilians; even their involvement in several attacks on the ACP always occurred as 'follow-up' attacks of other insurgent groups etc. In this case, they couldn't resist cheering the IF's success on Hill 45 as their own, before demolishing the Armenian church in Kasab, and slaughtering few captured regime troops - than 'fighting'.)

    Of course, the internet is buzzing with accusations that Turkey is harbouring and supporting Jihadists - as if it would be impossible for the JAN to reach Lattakiya from Idlib. Erdo's islamisation of Turkey by side, but it really makes me wonder how comes nobody saw or reported all the IF's T-55s passing through the Hatay Province, for example, if Turkey would really be 'supporting al-Qaida'...?

    Furthermore, somebody there - it's unclear whether insurgents or the regime (i.e. the IRGC-QF) - should have deployed a unit of about 100 Azeri combatants, two of whom - namaed Ibrahim Sumgayitle and Seyfullah - have been killed so far.

    Overall, I don't find this a 'bad' development. Surely, the population of Kasab area - primarily consisting of Armenians - was forced to flee their homes, whether out of fear from Jihadists or fighting as such (no surprise there: there is still plenty of panic in all of Lattakiya). But, I can imagine much worse things than the JAN and the Alawites now slugging it out and killing each other in what is actually a 'high profile side-show'. Tragic is only that the regime is unlikely to hit animals like ash-Shishani or al-Muhysini: they're simply never targeting them.

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