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Thread: Syria in 2017 (April-December)

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    Default U.S. Officials Say Sizable Arab Force Identified For Raqqa Campaign

    U.S. Officials Say Sizable Arab Force Identified For Raqqa Campaign

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    Default Pentagon Plan to Seize Raqqa Calls for Significant Increase in U.S. Participation

    Pentagon Plan to Seize Raqqa Calls for Significant Increase in U.S. Participation

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    Default Three-Way Contest for Raqqa to Shape Mideast

    Three-Way Contest for Raqqa to Shape Mideast

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    Default U.S. Marines Deploy to Syria as Agreement on Raqqa Assault Eludes Allies

    U.S. Marines Deploy to Syria as Agreement on Raqqa Assault Eludes Allies

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    Default CJTFOIR Spokesman: Counter-ISIS Forces Make Gains in Raqqa, Mosul

    CJTFOIR Spokesman: Counter-ISIS Forces Make Gains in Raqqa, Mosul

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Syria in 2017 (April-December)

    Time for a new thread starting tomorrow.

    The Syria in 2017 (January to March) had 2,105 posts and 86.8k views:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...ad.php?t=24850

    The previous thread from September-December 2016 had 2683 posts and 64.2k views.
    davidbfpo

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    Russian Syrian Express....


    Watch this RORO: From Novorossiysk, flag RORO Sparta III transits Bosphorus en route to #Tartus #Syria carrying military equipment 01:30Z
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    For a complete list of links to my coverage of Assadist and Russian aerial operations over Syria in period 15 March - 30 April 2017, please see here.

    In essence, and with exception of air strikes flown on 30 and 31 March, and 1 April 2017, all the figures are there. The link above also provides a number of links to related articles published at WarIsboring.com.

    A much bigger - indeed, a 'major' feature on the SyAAF, its current condition, ORBAT, capabilities and intentions - is planned for publishing in the June 2017 volume of the magazine Air Forces Monthly.

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    Russian Syrian Express......

    Ф #ЧФ BSF Tapir class LST Nikolai Filchenkov 152 transits Med-bound Bosphorus en route to #Tartus #Syria for its 5th deployment in 2017

    BUT she is riding a tad high for a resupply run....
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    Damascus: #Assad forces shelling #Irbeen in Eastern #Damascus with heavy artillery. Many civilians were killed or wounded.

    Damascus: 100 rebels wasted for nothing in Eastern #Ghouta in 3 days, while the #Assad regime bombs nonstop & tries to advance.

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    NEW - In a new report, @hrw says #Assad regime has conducted x4 nerve agent attacks in #Syria since December 2016:
    https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/fi...0517_web_1.pdf

    AND the next Trump TLAM Response for crossing his "redline" will occur when???????

    Videos of suspected chlorine IRAMs in Eastern Ghouta are here (1/31):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HXZjvHxdJE
    and here (2/21):
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNF8aHxsOHo
    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 05-01-2017 at 05:37 PM.

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    Azor....heads up.....

    This morning, #Russia’s military openly positioned itself with #YPG/#PKK forces in #Afrin, to deter any future #Turkey military action:

    Senior INGO official told me last week how #Russia & #Assad are giving #YPG access to S #Aleppo, to unite #Afrin-Kobane-Jazira cantons.

    So in one way, you’ve got to be impressed with #YPG’s political maneuvering; using #Russia *and* U.S. to protect its territorial gains.

    On the other hand, you’ve got to also see the irony - an organization that detests “imperialism” is now dependent on #Russia & the U.S.
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    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 05-01-2017 at 04:53 PM.

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    When questioned on why @CENTCOM officers were sharing company with senior PKK figures, @statedeptspox was not particularly supportive

    Seeing a U.S. SOF officer walking side-by-side with a well-known PKK Commander Sahin Cilo is just a little more THAN problematic especailly since PKK is a US named terrorist group....:
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    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 05-01-2017 at 05:38 PM.

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    On America’s intimate ties w. the #YPG/#PKK & ratcheting of tensions with #Turkey:

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/20...P=share_btn_tw

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    11 #FSA groups + Menagh Revolutionary Council of #Aleppo statement supporting Jaysh al-Islam vs. #HTS—advise Al Rahman Corps to side w/ JaI

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    Azor.....HIGHLY worth reading as it goes to heart of what CrowBat and myself have been posting here......

    Really read it.....
    https://kyleorton1991.wordpress.com/...nd-propaganda/

    PKK and Propaganda

    By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 29 April 2017

    The West’s Syria policy is beginning to unravel of its own contradictions.
    The Turkish government launched airstrikes against the positions of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in north-eastern Syria and the Sinjar area of north-western Iraq in the early hours of 25 April. There were international ramifications to this because the PKK in Syria, which operates politically under the name of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and militarily as the People’s Defence Units (YPG), is the main partner of the U.S.-led Coalition against the Islamic State (IS). Turkey has protested the U.S. engaging the YPG/PKK so deeply and exclusively as its anti-IS partner, being displeased at the U.S.’s uncritical (public) stance toward the YPG, even after the YPG violated U.S.-brokered agreements on its operational theatres and used Russian airstrikes to attack Turkey- and CIA-backed rebels.

    In response to Turkey’s anti-PKK operations this week, The Washington Post has hosted an op-ed by Ilham Ahmed, identified as “a co-president of the Democratic Council of Syria”.

    The Democratic Council of Syria (or Syrian Democratic Council (SDC)) is the political wing of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF is a front-group for the PKK, mostly designed to assist the United States in circumventing her terrorism laws since the PKK is blacklisted; the PKK is also registered as terrorist by Turkey, the European Union, and NATO. The SDF has some Arab units attached to it, but this multi-ethnic composition is not allowed to threaten the PKK’s political monopoly within the SDF. Ms. Ahmed is also formally the chairwoman of the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), the ruling authority in the areas under YPG control that they call “Rojava”. Though TEV-DEM is formally a coalition, most of the ostensibly-different organizations within it are either outright PYD fronts or individuals and parties that have so little support they cannot hinder the PYD.

    If these acronyms are beginning to get confusing, that is by design. As a paper for NATO’s Centre of Excellence Defence Against Terrorism noted in 2015, this is part of the “PKK’s continuous effort to escape its terrorist designation”. Ms. Ahmed’s political role, for example, makes much more sense once it is understood that she is a senior official in the PYD. That was only one of the things not mentioned in her op-ed, which was a skilled piece of propaganda that repays some study, since it helps underline some of the misconceptions currently at play over Syria.

    Ms. Ahmed’s op-ed was entitled, “We’re America’s best friend in Syria. Turkey bombed us anyway,” and the entire framing of the piece is that the SDC, SDF, and YPG are “democratic, egalitarian and progressive” forces whose main mission is combatting IS in alliance with the West. Nobody denies the YPG/PKK’s success in clearing IS from areas of northern Syria—nor the massive U.S. airpower that has enabled this. The framing is deceptive, however. The YPG’s key strategic aim is the carving out of a statelet; the anti-IS mission was complementary to that, both in terms of gaining territory as the YPG displaced IS and in gaining the political credit from the West of fighting IS.

    Rana Marcel recently wrote for Chatham House of the ways the PYD/YPG has tried to gain legitimacy, inside Syria and abroad. The legitimation strategy is significantly based on messaging, Marcel concluded, very carefully “tailored to different audiences”. The PYD/YPG “present[s] its fight against ISIS as a battle between universal liberal values and extremism,” and puts a particular emphasis on gender quality (its female fighters having been much sensationalized in the Western press), environmentalism, and collectivist economics. Inside its territories, the PYD/YPG plays on Kurdish nationalism. Keeping these messages separate is among the reasons the media is so heavily controlled in PYD/YPG-run areas, with independent reporting on either the party or its militia regarded as “an attempt to deliver information to terrorists”.

    The op-ed, of course, contains a considerable amount of messaging against Turkey. Ms. Ahmed detects a “stark contrast” between the progressive, democratic Rojava and Turkey, which President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is “turning … into a totalitarian state,” while “turning a blind eye to terrorism and supporting groups that overtly espouse jihadist ideals.” Allowances made for rhetorical excess, Ms. Ahmed has a point.

    There is no doubt, as Michael Koplow pointed out, that—even if there were not, as it seems there were, irregularities in the referendum itself—the recent vote to give Erdogan executive authority was grossly unfair, and the internal trend in Turkey is certainly toward a more authoritarian government. The only qualifier is that some perspective on the violence and repression of the governments overseen by secular military in the 1980s and 1990s, which the West found compatible with its interests, is helpful.

    The Turkish government’s Syria policy has proven disastrous, including to itself. There is plenty of blame to go around for this. Ankara had a right to expect greater support from its NATO allies for its interests in Syria—and that these allies would not actively work against her. At the same time, while Erdogan’s turn from the West has been accelerated by Turkey’s shabby treatment over Syria, it is not reactive in origin, and Turkey’s support for Islamist rebel groups in Syria, notably Ahrar al-Sham, even when powerful nationalists were available, has contributed to the diminishing options the West now has in Syria.

    The problem is that Ms. Ahmed casts these stones from a glass house. The PKK is in a weak position to be hurling accusations of terrorism and extremism. Nor does the PKK have much footing in governance terms. The PKK followed one of its own leaders through three states in Europe to assassinate him after he suggested democratic reforms within the organization, for example, and many other Kurds who joined the PKK have fallen to these purges, carried out on the most arbitrary basis. In Syria, the PYD/PKK has run a harshly authoritarian system, inherited almost wholesale from the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The deep economic and political integration between the Rojavan project and the Assad regime is among the things that did not make it into Ms. Ahmed’s op-ed, but it is one of the reasons that some Kurds compare the PYD’s rule to that of the Ba’ath Party.

    Last summer, Ibrahim Biro, the leader of the main Kurdish opposition group, the Kurdish National Council (KNC or ENKS), was expelled from Rojava by PYD security forces and threatened with murder if he returned. A wave of attacks on Kurdish opposition parties began after that: party headquarters burned down, anti-PYD operatives beaten up and even killed either by mobs or the police directed by PYD regime, and a large number of arrests. In recent weeks, this crackdown has intensified as the PYD moved to formally ban all parties but its own.

    Ms. Ahmed continues the effort to obfuscate the relationship between the PYD/YPG and the PKK. “[A]ny attempt to equate us with the PKK is disingenuous,” says Ms. Ahmed. She concedes that the PYD and YPG “share a founder and many intellectual values with the PKK,” though the PKK “run contrary to our core value of decentralization of power”. Even the smoothest media operation can have a bad day.

    The key claim from Ms. Ahmed is that “our political and military leadership is completely separate from that of the PKK.” This is simply a lie.

    In a fortuitously-timed release, the International Crisis Group also had a piece out yesterday, which noted:

    The YPG and [PYD] are the PKK’s Syrian affiliates, and there is little prospect for their organic link with the mother party to change in the foreseeable future. Qandil-trained and battle-hardened PKK cadres with years—in some cases decades—of experience in the organisation’s struggle against Turkey hold the most influential positions within the YPG and, by extension, within the SDF’s chain of command; within the PYD-run civil governing bodies that administer YPG-held areas; and within the security forces, such as the Asayesh (security police), which are the backbone of that governance. While most of these cadres are Syrian Kurds (though notable roles are also played by Kurds from Turkey and Iran), loyalty to the PKK’s internal hierarchy appears to override relations to local society. Many also operate largely behind the scenes, or with titles that understate their actual authority, while nominally responsible officials lacking direct ties to the organisation are reduced to placeholders. Though this gives the PKK presence in northern Syria a local face, the reality of who wields power is evident to those living there and should be to external observers as well.

    The PYD was founded in 2003 in the Qandil Mountains of northern Iraq, where the PKK has had a base since 1982 when it established a camp at Lolan from which it launched its war against Turkey in 1984, by Osman Ocalan, acting at the orders of his brother, Abdullah Ocalan (Apo), the PKK’s leader. Osman has since explained his role in this after he defected from the PKK in 2005.

    Continued.....

    The invisible holders of power in Rojava above the YPG commanders are longtime PKK operatives to a man.
    Continued......
    AMAZINGLY NATO knows about YPG and PKK being one and the same BUT US SOF and CENTCOM does not????
    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 05-01-2017 at 05:19 PM.

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    The @HRW report on the Khan Sheikhoun attack has previously unpublished images of the filling cap from the bomb used
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVGDcReFz9k

    HRW also find's government's use of helicopter-dropped chlorine bombs more systematic; (b) pro-Assad ground-forces also now using chlorine.
    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 05-01-2017 at 05:47 PM.

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    Suheil al Hassan with a Russian Major General, probably near Hama
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    Turkish military digging trenches&setting up new positions in #Akcakale along #Syria border.Some parts of border walls removed
    #TalAbyad

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    Iran’s Diplomatic Corps: Between a Rock and the Quds Force
    http://bit.ly/2oQ1uC4

    YPG shelled #Azaz with artillery this evening. Probably to provoke #FSA and #Turkey.
    YPG thinks they are under #US & #Russia|n protection and invulnerable now. Let's see what they try next.

    A FSA Levant Front source just let me know that houses of civilians r being shelled in Azaz, shelling from Mar'anaz

    Hama Battle: Central Division carried out an Inghimasi operation in area of Zalin checkpoint, killing 7 pro-Assad and seizing weapons.

    S. #Aleppo: #HTS destroyed an #ATGM launcher in Tulaylat near Al-Hader firing a guided missile.

    E. #Damascus: fierce clashes in #Barzeh and #Qabun where Regime made advances around Electric Station backed by shelling and airstrikes.

    N. #Hama: #Lataminah area still intensively bombed, incl. by #RuAF Su-25.
    http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35....621552&z=12&m

    Hama Battle: Jaish Al-Nasr shelling pro-Regime forces in #Helfaya with dozens of Grad rockets.
    http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35....609364&z=13&m

    Hama Battle: Central Division took out with a #TOW a fuel tanker near #Maan.
    http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=35....795616&z=13&m

    Main deployment areas of #Hazaras (Afghans) from pro-Assad #Fatemiyoun Brigade past months, via @historicoblog4. https://twitter.com/historicoblog4/s...76716240424961
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    Last edited by OUTLAW 09; 05-01-2017 at 07:02 PM.

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