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Old 03-07-2014   #521
jmm99
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Default Carl:

Yes, there are lots of subterfuges (deceits used in order to achieve one's goal) - both of us know the ways. We also know that proxies exist, etc.; and that we have ops covert and clandestine, etc. All are covered by Title 10 and/or Title 50 in one way or another; and all are one form of intervention or another - including money, weapons and training outside the borders. We did all of that with El Salvador (with minimal numbers, etc.); and have been doing it in any number of places since 9/11 via direct actions, drone strikes and targeted FID projects.

Anyway, I've spent more time on this collateral Syrian side alley tour than I spent on the Jack Goldsmith and Ashley Deeks IL articles, and checking their sources . So, if you two will excuse me, I'm going to get on to other things that I owe other people in other places.

Regards

Mike
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Old 03-07-2014   #522
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Bottom line: the West is blissfully ignorant of the IRGC insistence on ascertaining survival of the Assadist regime, and massively underestimating the Iranian preparedness to invest as much as needed to ascertain that survival. Because of this - and because of all of this empty and out-of-place babbling about AQ, ISIS, and JAN - no comparable aid is provided to insurgents.
The folks who need to know- and make policy from what they know--in the UK, US, and other parts of NATO are fully aware of what is going on with Iran's aspirations in the green crescent. What they choose to do about it may be a different story, but we are informed enough.
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Old 03-07-2014   #523
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Must be some interesting folks, then the ones from whom I get to hear are clueless.

Well, then I'll satisfy myself with hope that this time the info is better than at the times everybody was 'sure', that 'Iranian F-14s are non-operational'...

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

For the others, here an interesting review, The new face of the Syrian rebellion.

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Old 03-09-2014   #524
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Well no, I can't feel 'safe' after all.

Just back from quite an interesting meeting... Don't ask me about the 'source' of the following: you can be 1000% sure I'll never talk about it.

The point is this... By side the fact that Putin's reaction to events in the Ukraine resulted in another 'Pearl Harbour' for the US intel community, but sorry, NO: the people J seems to be talking about have got no clue at all about what's going on in Syria. Like Mike above, they're rather preoccuppied with iuridical issues of the ISIS being kicked out of AQ. (and, knowing about 'quality', 'awareness' and POVs of their advisers, I'm not the least surprised).

Actually, except for bitterly complaining about the NATO being a 'powerless joke', the last few days they were preoccuppied with outright science fiction. Between others, 'somebody there' came up with the idea of hoping that the Israelis would 'solve' the situation in Crimea - with help of their air force, of course, and in cooperation with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan....

I am - and this is dead serious - expecting one of them as next to suggest deployment of the United Stars Ship Enterprise (whether NX-1 or whichever of subsequent variants) to Syria or Ukraine. Hollywood would surely be delighted to provide help.

So, to paraphrase J: 'the folks who need to know - and make policy from what they know...' etc. etc., etc., should actually read 'the folks who need but do not know - and make policy from what they think to know but have no clue about...'

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Old 03-09-2014   #525
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That all pretty much speaks to the tail end of my post above.
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Old 03-09-2014   #526
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Here's the 'knowledge' of the people who know':
https://news.yahoo.com/latest-victor...111500116.html
Quote:
...Former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said as much at a March 1 speech at Tufts University.

“You have one Al Qaeda faction fighting another Al Qaeda faction. That’s how fractured this is. One sharp sliver fighting another sharp sliver. I bring no good news to you tonight about Syria. The Syrian opposition itself has done a miserable job distinguishing itself from the Al Qaeda elements. There are some really bad people in Syria right now, on the opposition side. Can the opposition show that it is willing to reach out and figure out a way security-wise and politics-wise to reunify across that sectarian divide?"
...
Namely, somebody like Ford should know MUCH better than this. But, he simply doesn't (hope, I need not explaining why? It would be at least 4th time I would tell the same story). And he doesn't, because people like him are insistent on insurgents accepting the SNC as some sort of top political leadership (which all of insurgents are stubbornly refusing since nearly two years), and conditions everything on that one factor. I.e. from their standpoint, 'either you're with SNC or you're al-Qaida', which is nonsense par excellence: that's making it clear that it's not only advisers of people like him who are simply clueless and getting involved in producing science fiction, but the policy-makers are actually living in a parallel universe.

To make it more ridiculous: even Francis is BS-itting with his declaration that Assad has 'won' the war. He 'won' yes - but a victory against US diplomacy (considering all of his failures so far, Obama's policy regarding Syria can only be described as an 'unmitigated disaster' - which in turn is 'absolutely no surprise', given all I'm explaining here).

Firstly, Yabroud is surrounded from three sides - not encircled - and still in insurgent hands. Actually, Suleimani had to withdraw one of Hezbollah brigades (due to attrition) and replace it by IRGC-operated elements of the RGD. I doubt he would have done so just for fun...

Secondly, the place that actually fell was az-Zara, a town nearly 100km north of the Qalamoun Range. Unless something happened the last 2-3 hours about which nobody else knows (like insurgents withdrawing from Yabroud), Francis is mixing az-Zara with Yabroud, because it was az-Zara where the regime is now claiming a 'strategic victory' (see the videos below).

Now, az-Zara is close to the Lebanese border, no doubt, but it's simply no Yabroud. Plus, the NDF refused to assault az-Zara even when situation was crystal clear, and this despite all the possible support from artillery and SyAAF (at least they refused to do so without Hezbollah leading the way). Eventually, Suleimani was forced to bring in one of SSNP units to launch the final attack... Of course, once inside, the NDF was fast to bring in journos so they can claim the victory for themselves:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CWB9RFP1cw

To me it rather seems that Francis is eagerly buying the PRBS sold by this multi-star broom, who's babbling about 'strategic victory' (though still related to az-Zara, and not to Yabroud):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvnta_Il7Pc

In total: sorry gents, you simply haven't got the picture.
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Old 03-10-2014   #527
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In total: sorry gents, you simply haven't got the picture.
Crowbat,

Let me start with this quote:

Quote:
If a man is offered a fact, which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something, which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way. – Bertrand Russell
Add to this the requirement to show 'loyalty' - no matter how misguided - to (in this case) the US system through a denial of incompetence.

All this is standard and - please - not to be allowed to distract you from posting the information flow as you are doing.
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932
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Old 03-10-2014   #528
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Crowbat,

You're not listening to what I'm saying, or maybe you are and just blowing it off.

We know Iran's aspirations in the crescent. When can pull in the threat stream information pretty easily.

What folks are doing at the level of ambassadors, policy-makers, and anyone who has a stump on which to try to frame the situation are going in a certain direction for a certain reason. Some of it is to manage public opinion. Some of it is to shape policy in other areas. It is rarely consistent, but the agendas are based on specific aims that may support a guess, belief system, what-have-you.

You'll find me commenting here in the past that folks use the AQ boogeyman dynamic way too easily. In Syria, it's probably because the media has gotten much wrong and pushed out the AQIS narrative and the US didn't counter the inaccuracies early on. That is unfortunately commonplace and you'll get no argument from me there.

The AQIS issue is not the IRGC issue, and what we know of the latter is pretty clear. Again, what folks choose to do with that information is always the area of debate, gnashing of teeth, and histories written in a few years.

JMA, I'm surprised you are still stooping so low as to visit the Council to share your immense span of knowledge and commentary with folks here. For a guy so frustrated with "loyalties", you spend an awful lot of time, mental energy, and posts, saying the same stuff over, and over, and over. Have a nice day sir, and a pint of STFU.
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Old 03-10-2014   #529
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Default Aleppo - viewed from afar by Caerus Associates

hat tip to War on the Rocks (WOTR) for an article 'What we know about Aleppo - and what we wish we knew' and in effect a RFI or simple help in improving understanding:http://warontherocks.com/2014/03/wha...-wish-we-knew/

The fuller report, with maps:https://www.firstmilegeo.com/case_studies/aleppo
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Old 03-12-2014   #530
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Thx, JMA. See below for more.

And J,
few days back I started writing quite a long reply to your post.

Frankly, sometimes my English is not enough to follow all of what you say, or I understand the context only. But, what I do understand (especially that about 'preoccuppied') sounds strangely similar to something I've heard already back in 2004 or so.

Eventually decided neither to complete nor to post what I started writing. Repeating myself for xth time with explaining at least the 'tip of iceberg' of problems caused by the lack of expertise (and purposed ignorance) in the USA is not only not making any sense to me any more, but distracting from the actual topic too.

Therefore, you'll get only my recommendation to read these two OPEDs:

- In the case of this one - Russia Experts See Thinning Ranks’ Effect on U.S. Policy - please replace 'Russia' with 'Syria' to understand what I mean, and

- in the case of this one - The Ukraine crisis: A Middle East perspective - try your luck by connecting dots on your own (especially if you might be able to connect the dots between that report, the one I linked above, and then recent reports about Abdullah sacking Bandar, the SNC/SMC sacking Idriss etc., etc., etc.).

***********

On the battlefields of Syria...

Maj Gen Suleimani's offensive against the northern side of insurgent-held Qalamoun Range (running parallel to the central part of Lebanese-Syrian border) is reaching its culmination. His forces have encircled the town of Yabroud from three sides, have secured most of Rima Farms and the Industrial Zone on the NE side of Yabroud, and are shelling the place to smitherness. Yabroud is under near constant artillery- and MLRS-barrage, and insurgent sources have counted five air strikes by SyAAF fighter bombers and ten by SyAAF helicopters two days ago.

There appear to be no new videos of insurgents deploying (Saudi supplied) ATGMs to knock out regime MBTs since a few days, which is probably indicating that the fighting is now joined at close quarters.

What is interesting in this battle is the - meanwhile 'characteristical' - composition of regime forces. There should be one Hezbollah brigade still involved (about 1,500-2,000 combatants; the other was withdrawn about a week ago, apparently due to exhaustion and losses); one armoured or mechanized brigade of the 8th 'Najaf' Armoured Division IRGC (driving T-72AVs and T-72 TURMS-T MBTs, and BMP-2s of the RGD), probably reinforced by one of Iraqi Shi'a militia brigades; then there should be three 'task forces' of the regime's NDF (each about battalion in size, each consisting of one armoured or mechanized company from the 4th AD, plus a company or two each from the former 3rd, 7th, and 10th Divisions); the 155th Artillery Brigade (equipped with BM-21s, Failaq-2 and similar MLRS'); plus one of four SSNP brigades (predominantly Christian 'Syrian Socialist National Party', with ideology similar to that of German Nazis from the 1930s-1940s). That's about 10,000-12,000 'regime combatants' in total.

They're facing about 2,000 insurgents (my assessment) that are still inside Yabroud, primarily consisting of groups alledging alliance with the FSyA, and the IF: the JAN has had its local 'Emir' injured in fighting, two days ago, and seems to be withdrawing from (what is left of) the town.
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Old 03-12-2014   #531
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JMA, I'm surprised you are still stooping so low as to visit the Council to share your immense span of knowledge and commentary with folks here. For a guy so frustrated with "loyalties", you spend an awful lot of time, mental energy, and posts, saying the same stuff over, and over, and over. Have a nice day sir, and a pint of STFU.
You are such a nice man.
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932
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Old 03-13-2014   #532
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Controlled by Iran, the deadly militia recruiting Iraq's men to die in Syria
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932
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Old 03-14-2014   #533
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^^Interesting to see that The Guardian (i.e. one of its editors) found there is a 'story' in reporting about Asaib Ahl al-Haq.

I do not understand though: why are they claiming them something like 'the' Iran proxy sent to fight in Syria?

After all, the Iranians (that is: al-Qods/IRGC) are operating a bunch of Iraqi Shi'a assets in Syria, including Kata'ib Sayyid ash-Shuhada, Liwa al-Youm al-Mawud (successor to Moqtada as-Sadr's Jaysh al-Mahdi), Failaq al-Badr, Liwa Ammar Ibn Yassir, Liwa al-Imam al-Hassan al-Mujtaba... etc., etc., etc.,... and the LAFA (Abu Fadl al-Abbas Brigade), and most of them are better financed (i.e. 'sponsored with more money from Tehran') than the Asaib Ahl al-Haq.

Furthermore, I am yet to hear from anybody there that the Asaib Ahl al-Haq is sending its troops to fight for the LAFA; the latter something like discredited itself already during its early presence in Syria, because of lack of discipline (including 'too much presence on the internet'), quarels and several cases of opening fire at other Iraqi Shi'a and even IRGC units deployed in Syria. That was the reason why it was kicked out of Sayida Zainab Shrine and split into two parts: the 'original' LAFA is ever since protecting Damascus IAP, while a newly created, 'moderate' part of the LAFA is now operatinal as the Liwa al-Zulfiqar and is responsible for the defence of the Sayida Zainab Shrine.

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

Anyway, the Hezbollah (the 'original' from Lebanon) was in the process of assaulting the 1st defence line of insurgents in Yabroud, two days ago - when snow fell and stopped all the fighting.

So, instead of more photos like this one, showing the Hezbollah taking away one of 76 JAN combatants they claimed to have captured while assaulting that 1st line of defence:
http://www.acig.info/forum/download/file.php?id=9165

...and more videos like this one (from al-Manar TV), showing Hezbollah infantry fighting somewhere in outskirts of Yabroud:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFcBcoyjyY0

...we're now getting to see photos like this one, showing Hezbollah artillery pieces (hell, the regime obviously lacks troops to man even these!) covered by snow:
http://www.acig.info/forum/download/file.php?id=9163

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Old 03-14-2014   #534
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Crowbat,

What do we know about this guy?

In Syria, rebel with a cause
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932
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Old 03-15-2014   #535
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I would describe him as a 'typical protege of Prince Bandar': a Syrian businessman, first and foremost, with good, business-style links to Saudis. Same style like Bashar Zoubi, the leader of the (Saudi Supported) Southern Front which is recently so successful in the Dera'a Province.

Both are classy examples of the genuine Syrian revolution: business- and money-oriented, not related to old ideologies (or religion), opposing the regime and desinterested in extremists of all sorts, but also all the possible politicians in diaspora (they grew up without any connections to all of these sorts, so why should they care about them?).

It's ironic that as such they found support from 'conservative' al-Sauds, and ended in clinch with (supposedly) 'progressive' Qatar (major financier of the ISIS and the JAN), but also the Brotherhood (and thus with Turkey and the USA). Even more so because the Saudis were - until Obama once again came in between (obviously following advice from his ah-so-clever Princeton-graduates) - organizing support for their groups in a very clever fashion: buying weapons from Croatia, ammo and spares for which are available from Croatia only too. (For those in rearmost rows, this means: should anything of that stuff end in wrong hands - like those of the ISIS or JAN - it can't be reloaded or replaced, and has got an expiry date...)

Anyway, since even the JAN (not only the ISIS) has both of them on its 'to do list', we should hope neither might fall to one of so many assassination attempts (like the one that recently nearly killed Col al-Assad, the originator of the FSyA).

More importantly (and since it's sure that - all provided they get enough money - Maarouf and Zoabi can make it), we should hope that Obama - and all of his Virginia rabbits - might stay preoccupied with the Ukraine issue for a while longer, and thus mix into Saudi deals with Maarouf and Zoubi in least imaginable fashion.

I know, sigh, chances are slim. But, if you don't mind an example: it's simply stupid - plain dumb, nothing less - to deny them the MANPADs and another load of ATGMs, just because they've got groups within their alliances that used to cooperate with the JAN. Nearly all of Syrian insurgent groups did so (many still do), more or less, for longer or shorter periods of time, and usually because the Syrians are Syrians, and because 'welcoming a guest' - including the most retarded Saudi Wahhabist one can imagine, the sort of which is actually despised by any decent Syrian Salafist (including founders of the JAN), not to talk about all the other Syrians - is an elementary part of being a Syrian.

So the only problem can be somebody in Amman - i.e. from DC, and with 'strong influence in Riyad' - thinking that because two out of some 70 different 'brigades' from Zoabi's Southern Front used to 'cooperate more closely' with the JAN than the others did, 'he' (people like Maarouf and Zoabi) isn't trustworthy enough...

(Even more so because the simple truth is that had anybody from Amman - i.e. DC & Riyad - paid the Syrians on time [for example back in summer 2012], nobody would ever come to the idea to cooperate with the JAN [or ISIS], and even the JAN would've probably never come to the idea to declare itself 'AQ'.)
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Old 03-15-2014   #536
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Seems that defences in Yabroud all but collapsed the last night.

Contrary to earlier reports, the JAN didn't withdraw, but others began withdrawing in direction of Rankus, so that the JAN was the last to fight inside the town. Latest reports (from around the midnight) indicated that the Hezbollah has reached the local Catholic Church, Police Station and the National Hospital, and is working itself through several underground tunnel systems.

There should be numerous groups of insurgents and civilians withdrawing via Rankus, Ras M'arah and Hawsh 'Arab in direction of Arsal in Lebanon. All of these places are already under artillery fire and there are reports about mines and ambushes. This is going to be ugglier than the withdrawal from Qusayr...

Insurgents (the few that are in a position to do so) are bitterly complaining about the lack of action from the SNC/SMC: while the Hezbollah and the IRGC were able to rotate their units in and out of battle, they were fighting for 30+ days without a break - and since the start of this battle they didn't receive a single bullet, not even a message of support from their supposed 'leaders'. Pro-regime side is yubilant of course, like if they won this one, not the Hezbollah and Iranians, and Hezbollah is already considering what to do about Arsal...
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Old 03-15-2014   #537
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... until Obama once again came in between (obviously following advice from his ah-so-clever Princeton-graduates)
I have raised this issue before of 'inspired amateurs' making grown-up decisions at a massive cost to the recipient country concerned in terms of blood and whatever treasure they may have had. There are no consequences for this incompetence.

Don't know about Princeton but Susan Rice from Stanford at 30 was in a position - in the Clinton administration - to contribute (through sheer incompetence) to the deaths of 800,000 people in the Rwandan genocide. No consequences... she is now the US National Security Advisor.

Now this same bunch of clowns are directing US policy in Afghanistan, Syria and the Ukraine.

Crowbat, you can't make this s**t up.
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932

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Old 03-15-2014   #538
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Seems that defences in Yabroud all but collapsed the last night.
Your figures were 10,000-12,000 against 2,000 so not surprising.

An aside, if I were Israel I would be getting concerned about the combat experience Hezbollah is picking up in Syria as this will be used against them in due course.
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But I think I have said enough to show that, as the Manual says, while the principles of war remain unchanged, “The tactics and characteristics of the inhabitants and the nature of the theater of operations may necessitate considerable modification in the method” of their application to warfare on the North-West Frontier of India. – Gen Sir Andrew Skeen 1932
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Old 03-16-2014   #539
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I have raised this issue before of 'inspired amateurs' making grown-up decisions at a massive cost to the recipient country concerned in terms of blood and whatever treasure they may have had. There are no consequences for this incompetence.

Don't know about Princeton but Susan Rice from Stanford at 30 was in a position - in the Clinton administration - to contribute (through sheer incompetence) to the deaths of 800,000 people in the Rwandan genocide. No consequences... she is now the US National Security Advisor.
You're too kind to Rice. Really. Nobody can be that incompetent.

Besides, at those times she was a noob, nobody in comparison with any of figures I mentioned here. Of course, I have no doubts that she did earn herself a handsome retirement from Scowcroft Group, Kissinger Associates or Roger Winter, some nice day - just like all of such conglomerates, think-tanks and other sorts of 'consulting and investment companies' have earned (and are still earning) from imposing RPF/RPA rule over all of Rwanda and Congo.

That's also why they're presently involved in running a combined PMC/SOCOM op against the rest of the FDLR in the Kivus, instead of doing something that would really make sense to such laymen like you or me - like destroying the M23 or hanging Kagame at the nearest lantern.

Ah, the niceties of geo-politics....

**********

But back to Syria...

My concerns about safety of people like Ma'arouf and Zoubi were 'right on the money'. Four days ago, Ahmad Meshe'el, one of Ma'arouf's top commanders (really a skillfull military tactician), was hijacked (either by ISIS or - more likely - by the JAN).

Sigh... today they've found his body... RIP.

This happened just about when the local ex-FSyA, ex-IF etc. insurgents began openly declaring themselves the SRF in delight over recent victories against the ISIS. What's worse: I know of no serious replacement in sight...

But, I was wrong with Yabroud: insurgents there are still holding out.

That is, the Hezzies have faked a major attack from the West, yesterday evening, but then attacked from the East, breaching defences there and reaching the centre of the town. When the insurgents turned to counterattack, the Hezzies swept in from West and North 'too'...

(This is like reading IDF reports about their battles against Hezzies, from back in the 1990s.)

The following is not confirmed, but it appears the insurgents have managed to re-establish something like a new frontline and are still holding out in the west and south of Yabroud. Supposedly this is where the frontlines are as of today (hope, the link's gonna function):
http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=33...search=Yabroud
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Old 03-16-2014   #540
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An aside, if I were Israel I would be getting concerned about the combat experience Hezbollah is picking up in Syria as this will be used against them in due course.
I'm actually surprised they (Israel) are as quiet.

They opened fire at two Hezzies that approached the cease-fire line in Qunaitra area but...there is an entire Quds Force/IRGC battlefield management system, including plenty of top Quds Force/Hezbollah commanders and a mass of hardware, running around Yabroud - all of that well inside the range of stand-off-PGMs in service on IASF's F-15s and F-16s (even if these would be circling over the Med Sea, i.e. outside the Lebanese airspace, although most of the time their pilots can't care less about 'sovereignty' of something called Lebanon) - and outside the air defence umbrella around Damascus... yet, the Israelis didn't attack even once.

Makes me wonder: how much longer do they want to wait - or do they seriously think the Hezzies and the IRGC are going to return all the T-72s, heavy artillery and MLRS of the RGD to Bashar...?

Bashar might consider himself happy if the IRGC keeps him as its marionette in Damascus for a while longer: makes me think there will be not many 'better opportunities in the future'.
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