Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 01, 2016

Syria 'Negotiates' With New Attacks On Insurgency Supply Routes

The Syrian Arab Army launched a significant new offensive in north Aleppo today. It is another move in the battlefield negotiations that will decide this war.


Map by @PetoLucem - bigger - full HD

The likely objective of the offensive is the creation of a corridor from north-west Aleppo to the besieged towns of Nubol and AlZaraa. The towns are under siege from Jahat al Nusra (al-Qaeda in Syria) and Ahrar al-Sham and are regularly shelled. Such a corridor would also cut through the insurgents main supply route from south-west of Aleppo to Turkey.

The offense has been in preparation for some time and runs in parallel (vid) with other operations in Latakia near the Turkish border, east of Aleppo and in the south. To protect against any Turkish adventure Russia beefed up the available air power. Four brand new Russian Su-35S multi-role fighters arrived in Syria. Russia would like to demonstrate their capabilities. Nine Syrian Mig-29 fighters have been upgraded (recom. reading) with new active electronically scanned (AESA) radars and new missiles. They now fly protective cover for Russian and Syrian ground attack fighters and helicopters against Turkish air interdiction. Syrian T-72 tanks have been upgraded with new defense measures against U.S. anti-tank weapons.

Throughout the last weeks several thousand newly trained troops arrived in the government held north Aleppo industrial zone. These have now launched the fresh attack in the north western direction (red arrows on the map) and already captured several villages. The attack was prepared by massive ground attack airstrikes which hit the frontline positions of the foreign supported insurgents'  as well as their ammunition transports (vid). (Interestingly the destroyed convoy was on a narrow, small road. That proves that major supply roads are no longer available or safe for the insurgents.)

The attack today forestalled planned counterattacks by various insurgent groups and Jabhat al-Nusra. The attacked insurgent units issued urgent requests for reinforcements.

There have been significant skirmishes between Turkey and Syria/Russia in the last days. Turkey claimed that Russian jets intruded its airspace which the Russians denied. It is quite possible that small intrusion happen as the Russian and Syrian ground attack jets bombard insurgents near the Turkish border in Latakia. But the Turks now have to watch out for ready-to-shoot Russian and Syrian air superiority fighters who only wait for a chance to avenge the earlier Turkish ambush of a Russian plane.

Today Turkish artillery fired (vid) against Syrian army positions in Latakia. The 1998 Turkish-Syrian Adana agreement which provided for largely demilitarized Syrian side of the border up to a depth of fifteen kilometer is clearly no longer in effect. Syrian artillery is active against insurgent groups which hide in "refugee camps" near the border. The Turks claim that these are ethnic Turkmen civilians but the video showing the damage in such a camp was released (vid) with the insignia of Jabhat al-Nusra. Some other fighters in the area are Turks from the fascist MHP party.

When the Syrian army and its supporters have cleared the Latakia area near Turkey Russia will install a new far reaching radar and a listening post on one of its hilltops. Such a station will allow the observance of all air and sea movements for hundreds of kilometers into Turkey. It will be part of the price Turkey and NATO have to pay for the ambush of the Russian plane.

Some people think that Turkey would invade Syria if the Kurds move further into the supply corridor north east of Aleppo the Islamic State uses for its dealing with Turkey. I very much doubt such a move as any intrusion into Syria would risk open war with Russia. The Turkish army would only launch that war under a explicit, written order. NATO would not support such a move and Erdogan alone would carry the full responsibility. Most Turkish people are well aware of the economic losses that follow Erdogan's aggressive policies and would likely not support such a hopeless adventure.

Erdogan's grandstanding and interference is no longer effective. The current UN talks in Geneva between the Syrian government and a Saudi supported group of the radical insurgents are a side show. The real  negotiations are on the battlefield and there the Syrian government and its supporters continue to improve their already superior position.

Posted by b on February 1, 2016 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

Comments

Thank you, b. Terrific. Terrific news, too.

Posted by: Penelope | Feb 1, 2016 12:01:20 PM | 1

Window view U.S.A. Embassy Moscow, Russia ...

https://piotrbein.wordpress.com/2016/01/29/russians-pay-tribute-to-americas-favorite-nobel-peace-prize-winner/

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 1, 2016 12:10:41 PM | 2

from OT

Telegraph: 07/23/2013: Disillusioned-rebels-drift-back-to-take-Assad-amnesty

Hundreds of men who took up arms against President Bashar al-Assad are defecting back to the government side, The Telegraph has learnt.
snip
At the same time, the families of retreating fighters have begun quietly moving back to government-controlled territory, seen as a safer place to live as the regime continues its intense military push against rebel-held areas. The move is a sign of the growing confidence of the regime, which has established a so-called "ministry of reconciliation" with the task of easing the way for former opponents to return to the government side


We'll more of this as the SAA advances, the Turkmen are fleeing to Turkey as I type. Only the most hardened jihadis will stay, the one who are in for the pay will flee.

Posted by: okie farmer | Feb 1, 2016 1:04:29 PM | 3

A re-read of this article wrt American military strategy in Afghanistan might be in order: Nation: Scahill: Killing Reconciliation (September 2010) (and consideration of how that all turned out ... as younger-generation ISIS challenges the original-gangsters Taliban)

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Feb 1, 2016 1:31:03 PM | 4

#2
Thanks:-)

Posted by: jo6pac | Feb 1, 2016 1:39:51 PM | 5

The link to the HD version of the map doesn't work. Anyone know of an alternative link? Reading the small version is impossible. Thanks :)

Posted by: WG | Feb 1, 2016 2:30:56 PM | 6

According to NPR ISIS controls 33% of Syria and that Russia and Syria will eventually have to negotiate with ISIS just like the US was forced to negotiate with the Taliban.

I'm mentioning this so that people outside the US can understand what kind of propaganda or simply misinformation people in the US have to deal with. Many people who listen to NPR consider themselves well informed.

Posted by: AnEducatedFool | Feb 1, 2016 3:11:11 PM | 7

I assume you are talking about territory ... vast swaths of uninhabited territory ...
a report I found from January 2015 estimated 75+% of the population live in Government held territories (this was after considerable internal displacement and considerable depopulation) ... I recently saw the number cited a bit higher ... sorry I don't have a link.


brittanica 2002 map.

Wiki 1989 map.

year-end 2015 bbc maps.

NYT maps 12/2015.

I've seen better maps, more recently in some british magazine tracking depopulation, I thought spectator? or economist? statesman? but apparently didn't bookmark.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Feb 1, 2016 3:33:42 PM | 8

About 35 years ago, with the demise of the fairness doctrine and budget cuts, NPR began to be expropriated by warmongering Zionists and now it is completely under their control. Warmongering, craven nut jobs took over the board. They fired all the liberals and anyone who would not toe the line. It typically uses a soft-sell approach to warmongering not unlike Rachel Maddow's show. It is a particularly insidious and evil operation b/c many do consider it to be a viable news source.

Posted by: fast freddy | Feb 1, 2016 3:48:08 PM | 9

I hope you are right, b. Because that would bring an end to the war. I'd be reluctant, though. Both sides are very tired.

Posted by: Laguerre | Feb 1, 2016 4:08:36 PM | 10

Absolutely agree.. Contrary what the UN and defunct "friends of Syria" have been hammering all along, the solution of the Syria crisis WILL BE MILITARY.
The prima donna opposition rushed to Geneva as they were told that it was their last chance to get some crumbles from the negotiation table. Erdogan and his clique are debating how to correct their mistake of shooting the Russian plane that has opened a Pandora box they can't control. The opposition based in Turkey is under Saudi control now. By not inviting the Kurds, the UN have made Turkey's influence in the negotiations irrelevant.
I would bet that the shooting of the Russian plane was the work of some military affiliated to the persecuted Hizmet party (Gulen)who wanted to throw Erdogan in a conflict with Russia from which he would not be able to extirpate himself. If this is true it was a master move from Gulen's supporters as it has changed the whole game in the Syrian conflict.

Posted by: virgile | Feb 1, 2016 4:17:24 PM | 11

Posted by: AnEducatedFool | Feb 1, 2016 3:11:11 PM | 7

A feeble defense of the good folks at NPR is that "they will be forced to negotiate" sounds reasonable. However, a cursory knowledge of the recent history tells otherwise. (I guess that possession of such knowledge is a firing offense, on don't-ask-don't-tell basis.) For example, Pakistani Taliban took over Swat Valley and the government negotiated a truce. Sadly, Taliban was not satisfied with a reign of terror in Swat itself, but they also engaged in a sequence of murders outside the valley, so Pakistani military eventually took over Swat region, displacing a huge number of local folks in the process.

And there are more examples like Swat.

Posted by: virgile | Feb 1, 2016 4:17:24 PM | 11 : "I would bet that the shooting of the Russian plane was the work of some military affiliated to the persecuted Hizmet party (Gulen)who wanted to throw Erdogan in a conflict with Russia from which he would not be able to extirpate himself."

I do not find it particularly plausible. It starts from the premise that Erdogan would not be stupid enough to give such instructions to the military. However, Erdogan is a megalomaniac, additionally he has a keen sense of what can be good for his popularity, and he even does not try to go much beyond 50%. From that point of view, a conflict with Russia can work well, and who cares if it is easy to "extirpate" or not. Actually, in the fullness of time, Erdogan will say "oops, never mind" and Russia will play along -- they need the trade almost as badly as Turkey. If you doubt that he can do it, check the latest on Turkey-Israel front. Trump the Unsinkable could as well be a student of Erdogan.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 1, 2016 4:56:58 PM | 12

I really doubt that... Not that Gülen is not capable of such a move, but to me it looks much more like a dumb move by the dumbest of all Erdogan.

If what you're saying was true, the first thing RTE would've done would've been to call up Putin, apologize and blame Gülen for the attack. Then hang the "traitor" pilot. As far as I know the guy is not in jail...

Posted by: sysati | Feb 1, 2016 5:15:18 PM | 13

23rd times a charm -- here's the economists' slider chart on Syria's depopulation

Economist: Syria’s drained population

(night-lights comparisons is how they were able to demonstrate significant ethnic cleansing in Baghdad ... which helped convince people it was "real")

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Feb 1, 2016 5:46:23 PM | 14

@wg#6

Map updated to approximately 2200 UTC.

http://www.mediafire.com/convkey/9550/aw70qfpf74n461mzg.jpg?size_id=c

Interactive situation map updated regularly, with Russian text. The map is translatable with Chrome and detail cards translatable with Google Translate.

http://militarymaps.info/

Posted by: Thirdeye | Feb 1, 2016 5:58:52 PM | 15

Posted by: AnEducatedFool | Feb 1, 2016 3:11:11 PM | 7

Many people who listen to NPR consider themselves well informed.

And I was one of the misinformed fools. It was Ukraine that exposes the blatant lies and since stopped watching and listening NRP. PBS. I rather trust RT (Russia Today Live) than any MSM.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Feb 1, 2016 7:12:28 PM | 16

b: "When the Syrian army and its supporters have cleared the Latakia area near Turkey Russia will install a new far reaching radar and a listening post on one of its hilltops."

Theoretically, SAA is close enough to the Turkish border in Latakia to allow the Russians to use their small short range drones to fully cover that area (I think the range is 20-30 miles). Based on American experience, I think that the true intelligence bottleneck is to understand what you see and hear. A Taliban war party, a group of Canadian friends or a wedding? "PKK terrorists" or cigarette smugglers massacred with "precision weapons fired from F-16's". And the more feeds you have, the more people you need to check through them.

I though that that can be one reason for the learning curve of RFAir + SAA. They still have a way to go, but this year, their operations (including the volunteers organized by Iran) seem more consistent and more effective. However, we have yet to see something like closing ISIS salient to the west of Kuiweres Air Base or the closure of the rebel corridor north of Aleppo, or wiping out rebels from Latakia province. I was told that on the Eastern Front of WWII, the rule of thumb was that during an offensive, a division used a trainload of ammunition and other supplies (1000 tons), and was sustaining 1000 casualties (the latter varied widely, of course). It partially explains why actions near Aleppo are so halting, the logistic chain is very convoluted, and there are lots of flanks to protect during any offensive. I think that the next week or two can be very interesting.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 1, 2016 7:44:46 PM | 17

@Jack Smith | Feb 1, 2016 7:12:28 PM | 16

"I rather trust RT (Russia Today Live) than any MSM."

Funny you should mention it, Jack.

It fascinates me the way the MSM transmit complete garbage about Ru in Syria and nobody even blinks. Mostly the MSM say Ru is screwing up and/or getting shot down, but then there is no follow-up to the unsourced stories, and no evidence. And nobody calls out the reporters.

On Oct08|2015 CNN’s toxic anti-Russian reporter, Barbara Starr, reported that Ru Kalibur missiles launched from warships in the Caspian Sea hit buildings and killed people in Iran. Source: “two U.S. officials.” NYT and The Atlantic took the bait, and re-tweeted the BS. So far as I know, no one has ever verified with on the ground photos or satellite photos.

CNN

Two days later, Oct10|2015, the British press reported that the Turks shot down a Ru jet – almost precisely where one was actually shot down over a month later, on Nov24. Source: “social media.”

Daily Fail

On Oct24, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh and Joshua Berlinger started a landslide of stories about Ru bombing hospitals in Syria, which stories RT convincingly showed were bogus. In some cases no such hospitals even existed.

LogoPhere

Now via MoA commentators “Alberto” and “blues” we have more of the same. In the Elijah Magnier thread Alberto posted a note about Ru jet getting shot down on Jan29, and blues said one crashed on Feb01.

#17:
“Friday January 29, 2016 Turkey shoots down Russian SU-24 allegedly using a Raytheon surface to air missile system supplied by Ukraine/Turkey.” Source: Veterans Today

#71:
“At Least Two Turks Injured by Debris of Russian Jet Downed in Syria 05:35 GMT +3 hours01 February 201" Source: Sputnik News

There has not been a word of confirmation of either downed Ru jet as far as I can find. Where did VT and Sputnik get the stories?

I tend not to believe any "Russia-f*cks-up-again" story unless I see it on RT.

Posted by: Denis | Feb 1, 2016 7:57:12 PM | 18

b,

Southfront now has links to Peto Lucem's map of 2 February 2016, both large and small

Posted by: jfl | Feb 1, 2016 8:39:11 PM | 19

Eric Draitser of StopImperialism.org provides his commentary (Jan. 30, 2016) on the Syria peace talks just beginning in Geneva. Draitser explains that the negotiations cannot be taken seriously given both the demands of the Salafist ‘opposition’ as well as the reality on the battlefield where Syria’s armed forces are making gains. He notes that these talks are merely the precursor to later negotiations, and that the US will attempt to shape facts on the ground to prevent a united Syria from emerging from this war. All this and much more in this interview.

http://stopimperialism.org/the-real-meaning-of-the-syria-peace-talks/

Posted by: nmb | Feb 1, 2016 8:41:38 PM | 20

@18 Denis

I think you're right on the latest 'Russian jet shot down'. I took the sputnik article as confirmation ... they had at least two ... but they broadcast the 'Turkish invasion of Syria' a couple of weeks ago, too. I've got them down now as worthless at this point, have deleted my bookmark. Russia has its own bullshit artists as well. Russian Insider is notorious poster of bullshit as well. I'm still sticking with Southfront. Haven't seen such obvious bullshit - well it should have been to me, by now - from Southfront, yet.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 1, 2016 8:47:44 PM | 21

@nmb 20

Who the heck wants to listen to some long winded video about some guy's bathroom ruminations? If we're here to read B, we like our information dense and accessible. Next time please tell us straight out that your link is to YouTube videos and not written "commentary".

Posted by: Uncoy | Feb 1, 2016 9:12:09 PM | 22

I posted this in the open thread but it should be here

Here is a link to the Israeli Defense Minister saying that Turkey has bought IS oil

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35415956

The takeaway quote:
"It's up to Turkey, the Turkish government, the Turkish leadership, to decide whether they want to be part of any kind of cooperation to fight terrorism," Mr Yaalon told reporters after a meeting with his Greek counterpart.

"This is not the case so far. As you know, Daesh [Islamic State] enjoyed Turkish money for oil for a very, very long period of time. I hope that it will be ended."

An interesting source of corroboration for Putin's assertion. What turn will this take now?

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 1, 2016 9:17:30 PM | 23

b said"The real negotiations are on the battlefield and there the Syrian government and its supporters continue to improve their already superior position."

Yep, thanks b. The battle in Syria is crucial for a multi-polar world.

JS @ 16: I'm with ya' Jack, PBS, with the possible exception of Amy Goodman, is crap. RT's record of accuracy is much better.

Posted by: ben | Feb 1, 2016 9:22:00 PM | 24

Colenel Lang's praise for B's assessment is high praise, indeed.

Posted by: MRW | Feb 1, 2016 10:05:59 PM | 25

@Jack Smith #16

The lie-fest over Ukraine was the last straw for me too. NPR does presstitution just like the rest of them.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Feb 1, 2016 10:56:08 PM | 26

thanks b.. excellent overview.. thanks for that.. i agree about erdogan grandstanding as being now completely useless..

@7 aef... npr - what a sad joke that is.. anyone who believe they are educated listening to that are good brainwashing fodder... i am with ff @ 9..

@11 virgile.. interesting viewpoint.. you might be right.. hadn't thought of that.. mostly i think erdogan is really stupid..

@25 mrw... good to know.. i find pl annoying and pompous, but that's just me... hope things are well in pl little fiefdom..

Posted by: james | Feb 1, 2016 11:03:58 PM | 27

PH@23

This Israeli PR is just a diversion from the fact that Israeli oilmen have been buying illegal oil from the Kurds through the Turkey pipeline that had some IS oil mixed in. probably in Kurdistan. It's probably true that Turkish oilmen have bought oil that came from IS controlled fields but so have many other businessmen.

Putin has still failed to provide any valid evidence of this trade and especially of Erdogan's connection to any of it.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 1, 2016 11:21:57 PM | 28

I consider it a plus when I get WoW to respond to one of my comments.

I just came across the following link about the politics being played on the Kurds and the Rmailan airport expansion.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-02/02/c_135065695.htm

If what b said is true then the airport may end being a parking place for US aircraft unless they can overcome the Russian air defenses.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 1, 2016 11:31:56 PM | 29

@ 29 psychohistorian... if you are a dumb american, you don't need to provide proof of anything.. you just have to say it is so, for it to be so!! just like in the wizard of oz!!!

here is an example from today with kirby the us state dept spokesperson on the question of proof for turkeys claim that russia flew into turkeys airspace... if the usa says it is so - well it must be so - no proof needed!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd85hp352Rw

Posted by: james | Feb 1, 2016 11:42:11 PM | 30

Loving this. The western media beating the drums of war on behalf of the western guvna. Assad the enemy, became ISIS the enemy... Putin times the entry to this theatre of war to perfection. Now the bear is dug in next door to the Turks and the ZioScum, leaving Syria on the edge of self determination in just a few months. The irony is fantastic as I'm sure the original scripts for Syrian democracy were not as such.

Eat shit and die ZioCon warmongers. Syrians return and repopulate your lands. It is yours.

If only Libya could've held onto Gaddafi for some time longer. We will now see the Jihadi paymaster redirecting resources towards North Africa. I see US Special forces already there on facebook...ensuring the delivery of some Toyota hardware I take it...

Posted by: MadMax2 | Feb 1, 2016 11:48:54 PM | 31

Toyota, U.S. Treasury Department Promise to Investigate ISIS-Toyota Connection

A investigation has begun looking into how the Islamic State obtained a fleet of Toyota trucks.


http://truthinmedia.com/treasury-department-investigate-isis-toyota-connection/

Posted by: MadMax2 | Feb 1, 2016 11:59:19 PM | 32

It's probably true that Turkish oilmen have bought oil that came from IS controlled fields but so have many other businessmen.

Putin has still failed to provide any valid evidence of this trade and especially of Erdogan's connection to any of it.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 1, 2016 11:21:57 PM | 28

So Israel is buying IS oil from Turkey, but Erdogan has no connection to any of it, and neither his son in law. However, oil is not something that you can smuggle "surrepticiously". Moreover, Turkish police can be very efficient when they want. A caller in a Turkish TV program said that she is a teacher from Diyarbakir and she wishes that the killing of the children would stop. Police promptly made voice analysis of female teachers in Diyarbakir proving that the caller was an impostor. TV program that allowed that piece of terrorist propaganda was shut down.

Data collected by intelligence agencies cannot be considered "legal proof", except for American courts accepting testimony from Israeli secret services. But any type of legal proceedings, or even reporting, against the government is a criminal offense in Turkey.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 2, 2016 12:17:41 AM | 33

The most sublime description of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East uttered by none other than U.S. Army Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, the head of the U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Describing willingness to send helicopters and advisors to Iraq, but not having done so yet, as reported in Reuters:

"We can't inflict help on somebody, they have to ask for it, they have to want it, and we’re here to provide it as required," MacFarland said.

The U.S. Inflict help on somebody?? Bravo, general. If your eyes could have only seen what mine have seen...

Posted by: PavewayIV | Feb 2, 2016 12:33:12 AM | 34

From the Saker:

http://thesaker.is/international-military-review-syria-iraq-battlespace-feb-1-2016/

Posted by: ben | Feb 2, 2016 12:45:13 AM | 35

@WG @6 - the link to the HD map works for me
---
@virgil @11

Erdogana well as Davutoglu have publicly boosted that they personally gave the order to shoot down the Russian fighter. Gülen had nothing to do with that.

Posted by: b | Feb 2, 2016 1:16:12 AM | 36

Looks like the begining of the end of Erdogan's fanboys in Aleppo..The frontlines are falling like dominos..

In other news, just as Brazil prepared to host the olympics, a strange virus(Zika) pops up. The fear factor is now being hammered by all the usual suspect media hosues. Be afraid, be very afraid...

Posted by: Zico | Feb 2, 2016 2:19:12 AM | 37

psychohistorian@29 - If what b said is true then the airport may end being a parking place for US aircraft unless they can overcome the Russian air defenses.

There's an interesting thing about the airstrip's locaton. It is about seven miles from the Iraq border to the southeast. That's about a two minute flight from Iraqi territory across a relatively flat plain, meaning they can fly low. This would make them particularly challenging for Syrian air defenses (if they existed) at Qamishli.

They Syrian air defenses anywhere in the northeast and east are pretty much non-existent today. They never had much at Qamishli to begin with - maybe a few beat-up ZSU-23-4 Shilkas for point defense. I doubt they had any kind of modern tracking or acquisition radars, and nothing like search radars. Russia could 'solve' that problem easily with a Pansir and/or S-300, but there's just nothing to protect there besides Syrian 'airspace'. Nobody is going to attack the airport.

The U.S. is taking advantage of the lack of Syrian air defense and radars in the area now to bum-rush choppers across the Iraqi border (probably from Erbil) to the Rmailan Oilfield 'airport' with supplies. This would make it difficult for Syria to shoot down the choppers even if they wanted and had some basic capability. Qamishli is so far beyond Rmailan that by time you detected the incoming aircraft, tracked it, launched a missile and added the 30 miles of flight time, it would have landed.

That wouldn't be a problem for, say, an S-400 system. But Russia and Syria are probably reluctant to waste the money and manpower on much of anything just to threaten away U.S. aircraft. There's also the problem of putting enough troops around the antiaircraft installation to make sure the Kurds didn't cart it off and sell it to somebody. This is all quite unnecessary anyways. As far as anyone can tell, it's a violation of Syria's sovereignty.

If Syria and Russia are not complaining, then it's not a big deal to them (for now). McGurk and some other Coalition of Evil partners (Brit and French mil. guys, I think) supposedly choppered in to the uncompleted airstrip a couple of days ago during their 'pacify the Kurds' tour of northern Syria. That isn't going to happen without Syria's consent. If Syria or Russia decided the U.S. was no longer welcome at the Rmailan airstrip, then they would get 'uninvited' diplomatically or with a few shoulder-fired SAMs.

Aside from stealing Syrian oil resources, there is also another good reason for the U.S. to fortify that corner of the country. At the very eastern tip of that corner of Syria is a small Iraqi town of Faysh Khabur/Fishkhabur. It's actually on the Iraqi/Turkish border, but only a mile or so from the Syrian border. That is a chokepoint for (Kurdish) Iraqi oil exports. The current Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline has to pass through there, and the massive future gas pipeline from Iraqi Kurdistan will have to pass through there as well.

Here's the problem: remember ISIS as Raqqa's Rockefellers? Well, Silpo and Zakho, just up the road from Fishkhabour, use to be ISIS/Barzani/Turkey oil smuggling central. ISIS got their business shut down as of late and will soon have to vacate the premises. They could scurry back to Turkey in the Azaz - Jarabulus corridor, but they could also go the northwest Syria route. It's sparsely-populated agricultural land and oilfields with a few little villages.

If they avoided Qamishli, ISIS could have had a relatively free run through the Kurds into that little corner, yielding the productive Rmailan Oil Fields as well as the Fishkhabour pipeline crossing and oil smuggling central. Maybe charge a small fee for not blowing up the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline, and the ISIS refugees could probably live pretty well dug into the mountains around there. If they kept to themselves in the corner, they might work out a truce with the Kurds as well.

ll speculation, but CENTCOM has to see the possibility as well. The airstrip isn't going to stop anybody, but it fulfills the critical U.S. need to be able to resupply the SDF and protect that corner of Syria. Which is probably the reason Syria and Russia are allowing the activity - they don't have the time, desire or manpower to waste guarding that patch of land. If the U.S. and the SDF can do the job, then it works to everyone's advantage (for now).

ISIS is going to go somewhere and hole up when this is over. Turkey doesn't want them, and neither does Jordan. It's obvious they are not going to last in the east of Syria or West of Iraq very much longer. Even if Turkey invades Syria to create a ISIS-free zone (for ISIS to hide in), I don't think ISIS will be interested. No oil. No money. No jobs. No HiLuxes. No agriculture. No water. Russian jets not bombing you night and day has it's appeal and all, but for that you live in a large, open-air concentration camp? Nah... I don't think the head-choppers are going to buy that.

If I were ISIS, I would be heading to Fishkhabour so I could raise my little head-choppers and buy them better weapons than I had growing up.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Feb 2, 2016 2:34:14 AM | 38

@15 & @19

Many thanks for the links to alternate maps. Much appreciated :)

@36

b, perhaps it's only a problem when viewing on an iPad. I'm seeing "the image you are requesting does not exist or is no longer available."

Posted by: WG | Feb 2, 2016 9:34:02 AM | 39

PB@33

Israeli oilmen among many others are buying oil from the Kurds and the oil business in Turkey is owned and controlled by Turkish businessmen just as in the US. The millions of barrels of oil that flows through the pipeline from Iraqi Kurdistan through Turkey to world markets has some small fraction of IS oil mixed into it that once mixed can't be identified.

There are large profits to be made from both of these sources of oil because they are both heavily discounted and Iraq sues anyone who tries to buy the Kurd's oil directly so the shippers have to disguise its origin in a number of clever ways.

Erdogan said publicly that he would resign if Putin produced verifiable proof that he or his family was profiting from the IS oil trade and Putin produced nothing.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Feb 2, 2016 10:36:08 AM | 40

Zika virus;Anyone ever see "Freaks"?I guess those people in the movie must have been infected.Wild awesome movie about retribution.
I don't know guys,Obomba says heavy weapons to Europe;Are we in for living hell or what?And Cruz,the unable to be Constitutionally POTUS,wins Iowa.Sheesh,would the Evangelicals rapture already,and leave US alone,the complete idiots.
The Zionists are gloating over his loss,but I wouldn't count him out,NH hasn't the affliction of evangelical hypocrites.
Bernie does well.Good for him.

Posted by: dahoit | Feb 2, 2016 10:48:10 AM | 41

Faster then I expected.

https://twitter.com/EjmAlrai/status/694540198730940417

Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai #Damascus said:"All communication and supply line between #Turkey and norther reef #Aleppo is cut now. #Syria.

That leaves Bab al-Hawa as the only open crossing to Turkey. That will be closed next and then the big Kesselschlacht of Idleb will begin.

Posted by: b | Feb 2, 2016 10:55:12 AM | 42

@ b | 42

Its not that simple, Kurds in SDF are aligned with Al Qaeda groups (except ISIS) and likely will allow jihadis through their territory to attack SAA. This will complicate matters since Resistance tries to avoid attacking Kurds, even if they backstab. If Resistance opens another front vs SDF, it could get ugly, fast. Proxy war could get dangerously close to hot war vs NATO.

Posted by: Harry | Feb 2, 2016 11:28:36 AM | 43

@ 43. That's a surprise. Late last year, Putin and Assad were the only friends the Kurds had in the region.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 2, 2016 12:09:51 PM | 44

@Harry - 42

Nonsense.

Posted by: b | Feb 2, 2016 12:17:09 PM | 45

@ b | 45

Which part? There is no secret SDF are US-led Kurds + jihadis, including Al Qaeda linked groups. Currently they are busy grabbing oil fields and as much territory as they can from ISIS. What do you think happens next, considering SDF held territory is a safe haven for terrorists? US and their jihadis abandons an idea of causing havoc in Syria? Now THAT would be a naive assumption.

Posted by: Harry | Feb 2, 2016 12:40:49 PM | 46

Harry has a point. What will happen when the SAA has relieved Aleppo/Idlib and turns its eyes towards the North East? If the US keeps supporting nationalistic Kurdish aims (if only to further destabilise Syria-divide&conquer), how will Damascus reaffirm its control of Hasakah governorate?

Posted by: Lozion | Feb 2, 2016 2:21:19 PM | 47

Thanks to nmb@20 and psychohistorian@23

A point in the earlier video was embellished in the bbc article. (The video is not longwinded, by the way.)

Posted by: juliania | Feb 2, 2016 4:28:33 PM | 48

I think the Kurds of the 'SDF' need new 'leadership'. The Iraqis do as well. Easy for me to say.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 2, 2016 4:57:08 PM | 49

It would be relatively easy for Iraq to arrange new leadership, if the U.S. electorate would make some effort to stand up on its hind legs and change their own, into one that didn't interfere in the politics of other national contexts.

Posted by: David Crosswell | Feb 2, 2016 6:22:38 PM | 50

I'm not suprised to read b's take on the current situation 'cos when I switched on AJ this morning one of the tall tales at the top of the news was saudi sockpuppet Salem al-Meslet whining on about starving children in resistance held villages that have been recently put under siege.
Natch there was nary a mention of the Shi'ite communities that have been cut off for the past three years from the world by al-Nusra siege.
Salem al-Meslet is threatening to spit the dummy, take his bat & ball and head home. Yeah right walk out I'm sure your US and Saudi paymasters will back you on that - not. The only chance the coalition of the killing have is to ensure that the 'moderate terrorists' retain a patina of legitimacy so Kerry can continue to lean on Nato etc forcing them to keep backing these loony toons assholes.
The essential subtext of the AJ story is that the Syrian forces, assisted by Russian squadrons have been making big gains in the North and the saudi controlled baby killers are shitting themselves because they can see the end is nigh.

Even AJ is struggling to keep up the pretense although I suspect that has nothing to do with any particular aversion to spewing specious BS and more about protecting it's arab language market share.

As far back as 2013 AJ suffered a significant loss of audience for both its english language and arabic services, almost entirely because of it blatantly one sided reporting of the Syrian insurrection.
The recent news that the $500 million payoff back in 2012 to Al Gore's family for Current TV has gone down the gurgler now that AJ amerika will close April 2016 must be causing AJ execs to be having a massive rethink on the foolishness of being anyone's propaganda arm.

The emir of Qatar's money has long gone and AJ can only survive if it regains credibility in a market rife with cynicism following the reality of the so called arab spring revealed to be just another excuse for sociopathic foreign powers to plunder the ME.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Feb 2, 2016 7:03:11 PM | 51

@Harry #46

You have badly mis-characterized the relationship between YPG and non-ISIS Jihadis. They have made tactical alliances against ISIS and that's about it. YPG has expelled Jihadis and there have been skirmishes between Al Qaeda-linked Jihadis and YPG. Jihadis are as much a security risk for YPG as they are for SAA.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Feb 2, 2016 7:36:57 PM | 52

...
There is no secret SDF are US-led Kurds + jihadis...
...
Posted by: Harry | Feb 2, 2016 12:40:49 PM | 46

Isn't that a little oxymoron-ish?
The Yankee Masters of the Universe regard everyone on the planet as Useful Idiots including, but not limited to, 95% of the US population. US-led anything or anyone is a betrayal waiting to happen.

The last time the Kurds thought the US was their friend (Desert Storm/ liberation of Kuwait) the Yankees abandoned them to Saddam's tender mercies. There must be some Kurds who remember that if AmeriKKKa is promising its 'friends' a happy-ending, then the story story isn't finished yet...
(Angelina Jolie - Mr & Mrs Smith)

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 2, 2016 11:15:16 PM | 53

@42

b - don't the SAA have to cover a lot of ground from their current positions to close Bab al-Hawa?

Posted by: ab initio | Feb 3, 2016 4:04:33 AM | 54

@Harry #42

You're being answered by facts on the ground as I write this. YPG and SAA are in co-ordinated operations northeast of Mayer. The prospect is more robust supply lines west of Tel Jibbin for both the SAA and the YPG as a result.

http://militarymaps.info/

Posted by: Thirdeye | Feb 4, 2016 12:35:09 PM | 55

#46

Posted by: Thirdeye | Feb 4, 2016 12:36:16 PM | 56

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