Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 12, 2016

Syria Roundup: Government Liberates Aleppo - In Revenge(?) ISIS Retakes Palmyra

The assault by Syrian government forces and its allies on Takfiri forces in east-Aleppo continues. Yesterday the heavily fortified Sheikh Saeed quarter was taken in addition to Karam Da`da`, Ferdous, Bab al Maqam and Jallum. The al-Qaeda led terrorists are down to some 5 square kilometer, five city quarters, roughly 2% of the area they held when the siege on them started. They may give up today or tomorrow. Huge amounts of foreign ammunition, food and medicines were found in the quarters the Takfiris retreated from.

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The U.S. has given up on any relief mission for them. U.S. Secretary of State Kerry is down to begging the Russians to let some of his friends escape: Kerry urges Russia to ‘show a little grace’ and allow Aleppo evacuation.

Winning back the economic capital of the country, a city which the Turkish wannabe-Sultan Erdogan wanted to capture and incorporate into his neo-Ottoman empire, is the biggest victory the Syrian government achieved in this war. The whole area retaken in and around Aleppo is some 18,000 square kilometers - that is a larger area than the whole countries of Qatar or Lebanon.

There were discussions between Syria and its allies from Russia, Iran and Lebanon on how to proceed from here. It was decided to set a priority in the west towards the al-Qaeda occupied Idleb instead of the mostly ISIS occupied east-Syria. A two front war in the west and east would be too risky and require additional forces that are not (yet) available. Two reasons for this decision are the economic importance of Idleb governate and the continuity of the government held western part of "useful Syria". There are other forces, Turkish, Kurdish and some Arab U.S. proxies, that have declared war on ISIS and shall bleed to eradicate it in the east.

Accordingly a tacit deal was found with Turkey. It would be allowed to take al-Bab, east of Aleppo and to march on towards Raqqa from there. In exchange it would refrain from supporting al-Qaeda and aligned forces in and around Idleb in the west. Those forces would still have clandestine support from the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar and others. It is somewhat questionable if the rather unreliable Erdogan will stick to the deal but that risk has been taken.

The general risk of setting the priority in the west is a festering of a U.S. occupation of Syria's east. The U.S. just deployed an additional 200 special forces there to bring the total up to acknowledged 500. There are also some French and other special forces in the area. They are building several small military airfields and hire anyone they can find in that area to, allegedly, fight ISIS. This looks much like the construction of a "Salafist principality" in east-Syria and west-Iraq without the ISIS label. Gulf countries' and Zionists' lobbyists have called for such an occupation strategy of Upper Mesopotamia. A U.S./Saudi controlled proxy entity that interrupts the "Shia crescent" from Iran over Iraq and Syria to Lebanon and holds the ground for a planned natural gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey and onto Europe.

The Russian and Syrian hope may be that a Trump administration will abandon such imperial nonsense.

Since December 5 probing attacks of ISIS around the larger area of east-Homs governate and Palmyra were registered. But the priority of the Syrian government was, rightly so, on east-Aleppo. Palmyra was held by a Syrian army contingent in large company size and by a few companies of little trained National Defense Forces - way too few to defend a rather large area against a sizable and determined attack.

Last Friday ISIS attacked Palmyra with several hundred fighters, heavy artillery and tanks. Multiple suicide Vehicle Based IEDs penetrated the NDF defense lines around Palmyra. A large ISIS attack on Saturday was repulsed by over 60 Russian air attacks. Major news agencies falsely reported that ISIS had taken the center of Palmyra based solely on "activists in Turkey" claims. Only a renewed ISIS attack on Sunday proved to be too much for the thin defense forces. At noon the decision was taken to avoid further losses and to retreat from the city towards the south and the west. Palmyra and the surrounding areas fell again to ISIS.

The attackers are thought to have come from Deir Ezzor, where a Syrian government force surrounded by ISIS recently had a few quiet days. Some may also have come from Raqqa where a recent halt in U.S. commanded attacks gave ISIS some relief. The fighters most likely did not recently come from Mosul in Iraq. Several military observers said the attackers were superbly organized, well led and had excellent intelligence.

Reinforcements for the Syrian army have arrived in the area and the Russian deputy foreign minister promised to retake the city from ISIS. The reinforcements may be enough to stop the current ISIS advance. But the priority is Aleppo and an immediate successful counterattack on Palmyra is not likely.

How does this ISIS attack fit into the bigger picture?

Map by Fabrice Balanche - Status November 2016 - Palmyra is below the lower center-left of the map frame - bigger

ISIS is under attack in Iraq in Mosul and the areas west of it. U.S. proxy forces, mostly Kurdish YPG fighters, attack the surroundings of the ISIS held city of Raqqa. Turkish proxy forces, including some units from the terrorist group Ahrar al-Sham, attack ISIS in al-Bab north-west of Raqqa and east of Aleppo. U.S. drones and attack planes are constantly flying over all ISIS held territory in east-Syria.

How come ISIS has the considerable resources available to now attack Palmyra, far away from the critical points further north where it is heavily attacked? Where did the necessary ammunition and money come from? Why attack now?

U.S. Central Command, the imperial headquarter in the Middle East, announced on December 9 that it had just bombed 168 ISIS tanker trucks near Palmyra. (CentCom is huge. There are 58,000 U.S. troops plus 42,000 U.S. military contractors under CentCom command in the Middle East.) That CentCom claim sounded very dubious to me and I was not the only one to disregard it as nonsense:

The Inside Source - @InsideSourceInt
> #Syria // #Palmyra // US claims of destroying 160 ISIS oil trucks in Syria are seemingly false from what we've heard.
3:46 AM - 10 Dec 2016

The video accompanying the CentCom claim showed bomb hits on only three tanker trucks and some four fixed targets. Nothing like the claimed large scale attack. It is questionable that so many tanker trucks, most were bombed over the last year, would assemble in one area. And why would they be near the then front line with Syrian forces in Palmyra? Why would the U.S. hit them there and not on their way coming or going to wherever? How come no one else, no opposition outlet and no agency, reported such a large attack?

This emphasis on "look we are hitting ISIS around Palmyra" by CentCom is suspicious. The U.S. did see tanker trucks but the hundreds of ISIS forces with heavy equipment, including tanks, preparing for their assault on the city were invisible? This under an airspace that is practically controlled by the U.S. and its allies?

This smells of a "revenge" attack ordered up by the U.S. or its Gulf allies for the Syrian and Russian taking of Aleppo. A demonstration that the early victory of Russia in Palmyra was ephemeral. A propaganda defeat of Russia covering the real defeat of U.S. supported Takfiris in east-Aleppo.

Posted by b on December 12, 2016 at 09:18 AM | Permalink

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I'd go along with Pat Lang of SST, to hold to the present strategy. ISIS can always be thrown out of Oalmyra again.

Actually, I think the western strategy of attacking Idlib next sounds right. The Yanks are not making much progress with the Syrian Kurds against Raqqa. Even if they did, the Rojavans can't hold on to Arab territory, or even occupy it in the first place, so that limits the territory that the US can occupy in the east.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 12, 2016 9:48:05 AM | 1

Today on French gov radio (France Culture), the correspondent in Aleppo reports from the area of Jdayde interviewing a French-speaker who sees his house for the first time in 5 years. The guy is sad to see his house is in a very bad shape, but no space is given for any description as to how it occured. She explains that the regime brutality, the aerial bombing etc and ask him "how old were the houses in this neighborhood, 14th? 15th century?" and that's it, adding that the regime planes are bombing the neighborhood next door. No mention of the fact the suqs and this area have been extremly damaged in 2012 during the inter faction fights + bombs placed in tunnels under army checkpoints etc. Then she explains that last time 10,000 ppl have been "obliged to leave their homes" because the regime crush the "opponents" who remain in East Aleppo.
The left policies in France are expensive, they just need as much Qatari money they can get, otherwise, no more gov radios!
The introduction even mentioned the 'danger to the world heritage' because of the actions of the regime in Aleppo and Palmyra. Disgusting.

Posted by: Mina | Dec 12, 2016 9:52:53 AM | 2

What is to be made of the claim that an agency with access to meteorology experts informed the terrorists of a perfect window of fog that would accommodate the attack on Palmyra? Last week, forecasters predicted fog early in the week here and got it spot on but I don't know if similar accuracy can be provided in the Middle East. If it is possible, maybe the extremists were being the more observant weather watchers, however the size of the attack would suggest prior knowledge of more than a day or so. There are also rumours that Russia removed it's assets beforehand. The weather aspect and the Russian withdrawal has aroused a suspicion of a US-Russia deal, am I right in thinking this is highly implausible? This really is the fog of war.

Posted by: duplicitousdemocracy | Dec 12, 2016 9:58:56 AM | 3

I'm sure the two are related, because of the timing (nothing happens by chance). I'm guessing the loss of Palmyra, however temporary, will be framed (by the West) as a reason to continue the push for regime change in Damascus, to further arm, feed and support the terrorists as the Syrians/Russians "clearly" cannot hold onto any reclaimed land for too long.

Posted by: never mind | Dec 12, 2016 9:59:28 AM | 4

The left policies in France are expensive, they just need as much Qatari money they can get,
French policy towards Syria wasn't very different under Sarkozy.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 12, 2016 10:05:52 AM | 5

"The U.S. did see tanker trucks but the hundreds of ISIS forces with heavy equipment, including tanks, preparing for their assault on the city were invisible"? Just like when Islamic State captured Mosul, thousands of head choppers in white Toyota trucks crossing the desert and throwing up hundreds of tons of dust, all unseen by the satellites, reconnaissance drones and aircraft. Not believable. The problem is Russia's "Partners", everything the US does in Syria is against the people fighting against terrorism, the Russians are on a fools errand if they think the US are fighting terrorism, [the enemy of my enemy is my friend is never more true than in this case]. The Russians have just been humiliated in Palmyra, that should serve as a useful lesson. Never trust the US.EVER.

Posted by: harrylaw | Dec 12, 2016 10:09:35 AM | 6

I like another poster's idea of a cauldron being set up in Palmyra... it seems to fit the narrative: SAA pushes back initial wave, then falls back on 2nd wave, moving residents out with them... let the nasties swarm & congregate, thinking they've won something... and then someone pulls the big lever & flushes the toilet... no muss, no fuss

Posted by: xLemming | Dec 12, 2016 10:18:41 AM | 7

B, you should admit that there were much more than 20'000 inhabitants in Kaida-hold Aleppo. By far not the claimed 250'000 tough, but more as you said. It may seem unimportant by now, but it's crucial that your highly appreciated work is not obfuscated by tendency.
I agree with your analyses about the IS and the u.s. I presume it's the especially rotten CIA branch of the u.s.-forces which is still using the nihilists from the IS to meet there imperialistic goals. The same people risking peace at home by making delegitimizing assertions about the presidential elections. Tronald may have the chance to straight this matter out, but I still doubt he will be able to, maybe encountering some 'insane loner' as the CIA seems very determined and has some influential lunatics such as McCain on his side.

Posted by: Pnyx | Dec 12, 2016 10:28:55 AM | 8

The Syrian Army doesn't have the manpower to protect all the areas it liberates. ISIS from the beginning of this war has attacked wherever it finds a weak spot. Definitely coordinated with Saudi Arabia as revenge for Aleppo. This war is going to go on for a very long time unless Iran or Russia sends in ground forces, not tribal militias. I don't think Russia will as they don't have the support at home for it. Saudi Arabia and the US have almost endless money to throw at their proxies. Airstrikes just aren't enough to keep the Syrian Army winning the war, they're going to run out of men to fight off the terrorists.

Posted by: Danny801 | Dec 12, 2016 10:33:31 AM | 9

Today Show NBC TV National News today Monday December 12, 2016 ran a piece on Rebel advances at Palmyra, Syria and attributed as the source Syrian Observatory for Human Rights a historically impeachable source. It is my experience that Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is a CIA/MI5/Mossad hand puppet.

Just my opinion

Posted by: ALberto | Dec 12, 2016 10:41:14 AM | 10

Attacking Idlib province after liberating Aleppo instead of concnetrating on taking Al Bab thereby blocking Turkey's path to Raqqah is a very bad strategy.

The US plan is to reconcile Turkey and the Kurds under one umbrella. Blocking Turkey's path to Raqqah through ISIS-held territory forces them to go through Kurdish occupied territory and puts a thorn in the US plans. Kurds and Turks would be fighting eachother and no advance on Raqqah could be made.

That "Turkish, Kurdish and Arab US proxies will bleed trying to eradicate ISIS in the east" is a very far fetched claim. More than likely it will be a rather painless change of guards. A change of guards that eventually will be very hard fro Syria and it's allies to get rid off when the time comes.

Posted by: redrooster | Dec 12, 2016 10:46:12 AM | 11

US Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is also a US Army Major. Apparently the 2nd US Civil War is ON! US Military vs CIA.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKV1sTw8zOc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fB7dWoMS0Mg

Posted by: ALberto | Dec 12, 2016 10:54:53 AM | 12

By evacuation Kerry means those NATO advisers still trapped with their terrorist forces in the Aleppo cauldron. Kerry's pleading is a bit rich considering the precision hit on the Russian mobile medical clinic that traces back to America providing the coordinates for that hit.

As to how IS is getting war material the small airfields mentioned here, and the larger ones in eastern Syria we know of are the answer. Also with the ability to now do Precision air drops from up to 25,000 feet and from up to 15 miles away adds to this ability to resupply and puts to rest any 'accidental' misplaced drops that have ended up in IS hands.

Posted by: BRF | Dec 12, 2016 11:04:12 AM | 13

HOW KERRY COLLUDED WITH ISIS TO CAPTURE PALMYRA:

It has been clear to all parties for several weeks that the rebels and their terrorist allies in the eastern Aleppo pocket must be evacuated to other terrorist-held areas. Green buses have been on waiting at the exit corridor for weeks. The United Stated has made every effort to prevent a deal from being reached. Kerry has been "backtracking" and "playing diplomatic games".

A deal between the US and Russia was suddenly reached yesterday, only a few hours after ISIS captured Palmyra. The fall of Palmyra is largely the result of the fact that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) troops defending Palmyra had been transferred to Aleppo to take part in the decisive battles, most notable the Desert Hawks Brigade who were the experts in desert warfare. Palmyra was defended by poorly trained National Defense Force (NDF) troops who were killed by the hundreds in ISIS' initial attacks.

It seems evident that Kerry and the Aleppo rebels had been told by their masters to hold on to Aleppo as long as it took ISIS to conquer Palmyra.

THE EVIDENCE:

1) It has been a long term US plan to establish an "Islamic State" in eastern Syria. This is revealed in the 2012 report by the DIA. See for example:

2012 Defense Intelligence Agency document: West will facilitate rise of Islamic State “in order to isolate the Syrian regime”

2) A US-Saudi plan called for the relocation of the Caliphate (ISIS) and its terrorist forces from Mosul to eastern Syria, specifically to Deir ez-Zor. The plan was first revealed by Russian sources on October 12, 2016 and later confirmed by Reuters on December 7th.

US, Saudis to grant 9,000 ISIS fighters free passage from Iraqi Mosul to Syria – source

How Iran closed the Mosul 'horseshoe' and changed Iraq war

3) The US and coalition air forces attacked the Syrian Army in Deir ez-Zor on September 17, 2016. The attack was synchronized with an ISIS ground attack that almost lead to the capture of Deir ez-Zor airport and made it permanently unusable to airplanes.

US airstrike on SAA in Deir ez-Zor

Syria claims that they have recordings of communications between ISIS and US forces during the attack.

4) ISIS is said to have moved 4000 terrorist troops and 200 vehicles to Palmyra, allegedly from Iraq, without the US seeing them or attacking them.

5) The ISIS attack was closely monitored by US drones.

Within Syria ‏@WithinSyriaBlog Dec 10
My source in T4 AB: many USAF UAVs are over the battlefield in #Palmyra just watching!

6) Syrian sources claim that prior to the ISIS attack the US Air Force had disrupted all SAA radio communications and radar around Palmyra.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Dec 12, 2016 11:30:47 AM | 14

The neutral money changers

Artifacts looted from Syria’s ancient Semitic city of Palmyra have been seized by Swiss authorities after they were discovered in Geneva’s secretive free ports — warehouses often used to store expensive objects with few questions asked.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/stolen-artifacts-palmyra-yemen-geneva-enesco-switzerland-a7454001.html

Posted by: ALberto | Dec 12, 2016 11:45:25 AM | 15

Laguerre,
Hasn't the economic crisis gone worse since then? Sarkozy anyway was also in need of cash (Libyan, Qatari...) to support our great model of gov radios, wonderful elite schools, fully obedient journalists...
Thanks for your answer on mosuleye. I still don't understand why he accuses the Yazidi militias of genocide in the same sentence where he blames the Kurds. By the way, weren't these villages Kurdish before the "Arabization" decided by Saddam Hussein?

Posted by: Mina | Dec 12, 2016 12:08:00 PM | 16

Renewed bombing of Sanaa today with 20 air raids according to RT. It is also world heritage !
What happened, the Saudis decided to show what they understand as manhood (via mercenaries) in Palmyra and Yemen?

Posted by: Mina | Dec 12, 2016 12:11:29 PM | 17

Where were the Chechen military police when they were needed?

Posted by: Shyaku | Dec 12, 2016 12:18:01 PM | 18

From last Friday:
Full press conference by Hands Off Syria group at UN. Including testimony by Canadian journalist who's visited Syria and views of general MENA situation:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebE3GJfGhfA (ca. 50mins)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IIrzJcEWAU (4 min. excerpt, 'Eva Bartlett schooling Norwegian journalist on why MSM lies about Syria')

Chinese representative at UNSC calls UK rep to order after complaints about the Chinese veto:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWQBM12A3dc

Syrian representative's response to the Aleppo ceasefire resolution proposed at the UNGA by Canada:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW6g-LmPIXU

Posted by: B2 | Dec 12, 2016 12:21:18 PM | 19

Agree with honey pot cauldron effect. Dispatch them once again in large numbers, the population is evacuated anyway. Palmyra is a side show again but irresistible due to PR effectiveness.

Posted by: Gravatomic | Dec 12, 2016 12:25:53 PM | 20

Mina@16 The Saudis are half men. The 'arc of resistance' need to apply the principle of 'people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones' to the Saudi perverts, all with plausible deniability of course. Arm the Yemenis to the teeth and hope they and others can destroy some Saudi oil installations and pipe lines. Until they feel some blow back, they will carry on feeding the head choppers.

Posted by: harrylaw | Dec 12, 2016 12:26:07 PM | 21

re Mina 15

I still don't understand why he accuses the Yazidi militias of genocide in the same sentence where he blames the Kurds.
Yazidis are Kurds. They're part of the Kurdish people. They probably are some of those who've decided not to allow the Arabs to return.

By the way, weren't these villages Kurdish before the "Arabization" decided by Saddam Hussein?
No, they were mixed villages before ISIS. Arabisation was east of the Tigris, round Kirkuk and in the mountains. I am not 100% certain, but they were definitely mixed villages in 2014, including the town of Sinjar. It was in the reports.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 12, 2016 12:26:56 PM | 22

Thank you b (and Petri) for an excellent roundup of US duplicity.

Pnyx, I don't think the CIA is quite as independent as you may assume; they have always worked directly for the big banks at the top of the pyramid.

Posted by: Penelope | Dec 12, 2016 12:43:03 PM | 23

There was a 'retired French general' on radio yesterday who said the attack on Palmyra came from Deir al Zor. Since our 'experts' usually take their script from Qatar, there might be some truth here.

Posted by: Mina | Dec 12, 2016 12:43:46 PM | 24

B2 ref Hands off Syria
Must see conference. Check 20' and 37'.

Posted by: Mina | Dec 12, 2016 12:45:03 PM | 25

It seems that the rebels lost three districts in Aleppo and they keep six. Wikimapia is probably a bit ahead of events, as they mark an entire district as "outside the pocket" when the SAA control is reported, but South Front swears that they did some checking.

By the end of the week, Aleppo will be busy restoring electricity and water in all neighborhood, making all highways usable etc. And no more shelling coming from adjacent districts.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 12, 2016 1:08:40 PM | 26

While the Syrian army is on the verge of winning a victory in Aleppo (the latest information is that only 1% of the city remains in the hands of the terrorists) the US Government never tires of supporting its partners by seeking a ceasefire Fire in Geneva. This is the true American political line from the beginning working with terrorists by creating training camps framed by elements of the US military by providing ammunition weapons and political support and sometimes direct military intervention and make believe to the American people that their army is defending freedom. What a horror !!

Posted by: Youcef | Dec 12, 2016 1:16:14 PM | 27

b: This looks much like the construction of a "Salafist principality" in east-Syria and west-Iraq without the ISIS label.

OK, here we go again with the salafist prinicpality.

Exactly 2 months ago today [Oct12] b’s prediction was that USG would allow Daesh to leave Mosul (as they did Jarbalus) and they would then flee across hundreds of miles of desert to Dier Ezzor where they would establish the salafist prinicpality. Two months later, Mosul has still not fallen, much less the head-choppers being escorted out with a free pass to Dier Ezzor.

So what’s up with that?

Also, the SAA/Russians are getting their butts kicked in Palmyra. They have lost territory, checkpoints, and a lot of gear, including Ru tanks, to 4000 Daesh from Dier Ezzor. How do 4000 head-choppers move 250 km across open desert w/out being seen, bombed, staffed, and generally pounded into the sand? Is Ru part of the “salafist principality” conspiracy, too?

Just wondering . . .

Posted by: IpsoFacto | Dec 12, 2016 1:18:43 PM | 28

The carve up of Syria unfolds. Putin seems pleased.

Posted by: paul | Dec 12, 2016 1:43:50 PM | 29

#29 @paul
"seems pleased"
what nonsense...
What Putin sees: the USA-devil and its allies and its proxies bombing/headchopping/destructing as much as it can, a horrible sight.
Russia fights this devil, this madness.
Stop this idiot talking about Putin amusing himself.

Posted by: From The Hague | Dec 12, 2016 2:30:13 PM | 30

@pnyx @8 "you should admit that there were much more than 20'000 inhabitants in Kaida-hold Aleppo"

So far 35,000 have been confirmed as evacuated. Some 10,000 more are likely out but not yet confirmed.
The end number will not be known for several days.

I did not say the number is 20,000. See my Oct 15 post on the issue http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/10/number-of-al-qaeda-fighters-in-east-aleppo-defined-down-to-three.html - quote: "Based on the Daraya numbers and those of other sieges in Syria there are probably no more than 4-5,000 fighters and some 3-5 civilians per fighter, i.e. their immediate families, in east-Aleppo. The real total could easily be as low as 20,000."

Notice the words "probably" and "could be as low as" ...

What do you believe I expressed when I used those words?

Posted by: b | Dec 12, 2016 3:07:53 PM | 31

ALEPPO HAS BEEN LIBERATED!!!

https://twitter.com/bbassem7/status/808393709985243136

"Celebrations have started in Aleppo"

Posted by: Dean | Dec 12, 2016 3:22:56 PM | 33

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/370017-us-syria-peace-isis-trump/
On US sabotage of peace efforts in Syria and other countries. There is a link to a 2012 article on sabotaging peace efforts back then, before the country was close to totally destroyed. Remember, Karma.
Do watch the UN press conference (@19) - by reporters actually on the ground.
Paul @20 is a troll - ignore.

Posted by: GoraDiva | Dec 12, 2016 3:24:15 PM | 34

Continued from What Are The Hearsay Leaks About "Russian Election Hacking" Attempting To Achieve?
Grieved | Dec 11, 2016 11:36:59 AM | 137
But SAA controls the battle.
NO. IT. FUCKING. DOESN'T!
ISIS is in the driving seat and they're not letting up.

ISIS launches massive offensive in Deir Ezzor

ISIS seizes important crossroad near Syrian Air Force base

Posted by: Ghostship | Dec 12, 2016 3:39:37 PM | 35

This is comment from former Syrian Ambassador Peter Ford is interesting since during his stint in Syria he was helping orchestrate the birth of this mess:

https://www.rt.com/news/370019-isis-palmyra-new-offensive/

""What is actually interesting is that the American-led coalition, which has very powerful surveillance tools, apparently failed to pick up 4,000 ISIS jihadists making their way to Palmyra with all their equipment, trucks and everything," former UK ambassador to Syria Peter Ford told RT, adding that Washington and its allies "didn't lift a finger to try to stop [the IS offensive] happening."

"I don't think you have to be a genius to work out that there are plans afoot to decamp the ISIS rebels from Mosul into eastern Syria, and this will play into the American narrative that Assad can't control the countryside in Syria and that he's not a good ally in the fight against ISIS," Ford said. He added that "the opposite is the case," as once thousands of the Syrian government forces currently engaged in Aleppo "are released from those duties," they can turn their attention to fighting Islamic State in Palmyra."

FM Lavrov's comment:

"The latest terrorist offensive in Palmyra may have been "orchestrated" to distract forces from militants in eastern Aleppo, who are entrenched there and are threatening civilians, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

Lavrov said the IS fighters appear to have come to Palmyra from Mosul, where the offensive against them has intensified, and that they have apparently moved through routes "patrolled" by the US-led coalition's aviation, which "makes one think that the whole [situation] has been orchestrated." "I hope I'm wrong," Lavrov added, however."

It seems he is no longer "best friends" with J Kerry.

It's the second time ISIS has been not been hassled by the US coalition on route to Palmyra. That section of the desert must just be some kind of "wormhole" in the fabric of the universe. How else could 4000 plus terrorists with tanks etc just pop up out of nowhere.

Posted by: Dean | Dec 12, 2016 3:43:32 PM | 36

Once Halab falls the SAA will retake Palmyra. This is a sideshow, we must keep our sangfroid and not give in to our passions. Keep sight of the larger goal and that the SAA despite being halved with regards to manpower still has enough of a fight to get the job done..

Posted by: Fernando Arauxo | Dec 12, 2016 4:05:49 PM | 37

Kerry's quotes in the WaPo are profoundly weaselish. I know he's a diplomat, but he's so slimy it makes me think he was picked to take a dive against GW Bush in 2004.

Posted by: NoOneYouKnow | Dec 12, 2016 4:31:56 PM | 38

@35 Ghostship. Point taken. I was premature and under-informed.

I would still describe the situation as saying that SAA controls when it will counterattack. I don't think it would have been soon, except the Russians have lost prestige here, and will want some action, although it's not clear yet what resources they will throw into the retaking of Palymyra.

Mercouris has a good story on the anger of the military in Russia over the delays of diplomacy in the liberation of Aleppo, and certainly the loss of Palymyra. I personally place enormous value on all the diplomacy of the Aleppo campaign - I tend to see global gains in favor of Russia and against the US that might be inspired by Russia's actions. But some generals in Russia do not.

One thing I don't get is quite how this happened, in terms of Russian intel on ISIS movements, and also why the Russians moved out of Palmyra just before the attack. I await better forensic analysis of all this. Aleppo has begun to celebrate, Palmyra may wait. I agree with b that this was an opportunistic spoiling action by the US. And in the end it will all come to nothing, except the further shame of the US in the eyes of the peace-loving world.

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 12, 2016 4:37:06 PM | 39

Da'esh exists because very powerful interests want them to exist. Are we to believe that these monsters came out of nowhere???

Their latest offensive in Palmyra stinks of support from sources whith highly accurate intelligence. The speed and accuracy of the assault makes me believe it was not planned by Da'esh themselves.

The SAA's victory in Aleppo is making some interest groups go mad!!!! They will all be defeated in the end!

Posted by: Zico | Dec 12, 2016 4:57:54 PM | 40

@16 Mina
"Laguerre,
Hasn't the economic crisis gone worse since then? Sarkozy anyway was also in need of cash (Libyan, Qatari...) to support our great model of gov radios, wonderful elite schools, fully obedient journalists..."

The policies are the exact same since they come directly from the GOPE Which are decided by the neo liberal Europeen commission.

« Grandes Orientations de Politique Économique » (GOPE) fixées par la Commission européenne aux 28 États membres de l’Union européenne pour 2014-2015 ont été publiées le 2 juin dernier [1].

IT can be summarized by:
-less public spending
-more privatization (la poste , highway ,edf , airport, sncf, france telecom etc...)
-less health reimbursement
-more decentralization (make the state less powerfull)
-lower minimum wage
-less worker right and more precarious job
-more deregulation

more details here:
https://www.upr.fr/actualite/europe/les-gope-grandes-orientations-politique-economique-feuille-route-economique-matignon

It has been a continuity since 1992 and the Maastricht treaty. Of course things are getting worse because the remedy they apply is just a stronger treatment of what is making us ill in the first place.
it doesn't matter for who you vote they don't decide the economic policy.

You have to be really blind if you think this government is left orientated (loi travail ,privatisation, deregularization , intervention etrangère imperialiste neo nazi en Ukraine , Al quaida en Syrie etc ...) it is the most extreme right government since 1945.

Posted by: Charlesg | Dec 12, 2016 5:05:41 PM | 41

The US blew up telecommunications towers between Raqqa and Tadmur at the start of the operation. This hindered SAA communications. The attack was also timed to coincide with a period of extended bad weather that stopped the Mi-28s being used. The Palmyra defenses were also partly manned by NDF as opposed to SAA forces. All in all, a carefully planned attack exploiting and creating weaknesses, in an attempt to strike a strong psychological blow against the SAA and to counter the news of the loss of Aleppo.

Once the weather clears, the Mi-28s will make short work of the extended takfiri supply lines.

Posted by: Yonatan | Dec 12, 2016 5:10:18 PM | 42

Bana is trying to get a life... Maytham has been chatting with the family today
https://twitter.com/maytham956

(the 'left' policies was a bit of joke, you realize that this is a mainly US-speakers forum so...anyway.. UPR was once close to Pasqua so that will be a no-go for many people who share your ideas)

Posted by: Mina | Dec 12, 2016 5:15:29 PM | 43

@28 ipsofacto

Why do you think the West arms these people in the first place? Why is there such a major proganda campaign supporting the 'rebels' if not to partition the country in some way? Or at least aim to? All the heated talk about the Shia cresent and knowing Syria's part in that, you'd have to be thinking in some radically different terms than I to see this as anything but a struggle for land and geopolitical influence.

Have you read the document where the intention to develop a 'salafist principality' is explicitly mentioned? It's pretty damming in my eyes. Even if it wasn't to you (assuming youve seen the leak in question), knowing what we know about America's role in Syria and their larger goals and plans in the MENA region, it's hard to label it a 'conspiracy theory' when there's mountains of non speculative, non circumstantial evidence supporting the idea. We're not talking about some silly nonsense like pizzagate. It's a heavy label to level in my eyes especially without discounting it in any way besides dismissal.

Especially when you read that document in context with other leaks, public statements and the larger foreign policy actions associated with Syria (and Iran) at the time it was written, I think it more sums up the USAs intentions as opposed to just being a key piece of evidence. That's why the phrase is tossed around so much I've always figured. There's (many) offical documents that say similar things in so many words, but that one is just very poignant.

HOWEVER with all that said, it's perfectly reasonable in my eyes to argue that the West's plans have changed to some degree. I believe they're possibly shifting gears to simply just destroying the country and what happens after is secondary...But only since their original plans have gone off the rails. I think they'd opt for the former if they were capable though. Hard to say though, I'm just doing all this from my armchair, but to label what you did a conspiracy theory is out of line tbh.

Posted by: FecklessLeft | Dec 12, 2016 5:24:13 PM | 44

From a Syrian twitter account: "Sources: What happened in Palmyra is an american blow to the Russians. 3 days ago the US air forces disrupted all VHS radios and radars via satellites over the roads between Raqqah and Palmyra and also provide a 6 hrs cover for ISIS's passage on the axis of Al Sekneh."

Posted by: Jean | Dec 12, 2016 5:38:47 PM | 45

Maytham has finally revealed the identity of 'bana'. The tweets are from the father, a Turkmen English teacher, and the pics are from another kid.
Shehabifares is getting death threats in all world language. Hard to see the positive sides of twitter, imo.

Posted by: Mina | Dec 12, 2016 5:52:36 PM | 46

thanks b, and a number of commentators too... i agree with @44 fecklessleft post for the most part. thanks.

Posted by: james | Dec 12, 2016 6:03:19 PM | 47

Assad should just save his own arse. With friends like Russia China and Iran...who needs enemies? They are as weak as piss and twice as salty.FFS...do they think as time drags on that it will get easier...Do they think Trump will stop the war mongers? All three clearly have their own interests at heart, understandable. But do they not seen what is in store for them once Syria falls. Something very fishy going on ..very fishy.

Posted by: Mithera | Dec 12, 2016 6:03:53 PM | 48

lol mithera... i suppose assad ought to trust turkey, saudi arabia, israel and that good sport the usa, not to mention the hangers on - britian, france and etc.. thanks for the laugh, even if you weren't trying to be funny..

Posted by: james | Dec 12, 2016 6:09:55 PM | 49

A russian general say US kind of helped ISIS get to Palmyra http://theduran.com/furious-russian-military-blame-us-humanitarian-pauses-fall-palmyra/

Posted by: Jean | Dec 12, 2016 6:14:27 PM | 50

Real heroes!! 3 French MPs tried to cross into Syria yesterday but were blocked by the Turks who explained there was a "dangerous cloud of chlore" ahead and that it was too dangerous. Before returning to France, they were happy that they managed to see a UN official "in charge of the Syrian crisis" with whom they agreed on the modalities to evacuate the 100,000 besieged civilians of Aleppo: they ask for a corridor and think it would take 24 hours to get everybody out.
And no, it's not from The Onion, it's real.
http://www.lemonde.fr/syrie/article/2016/12/12/syrie-trois-deputes-francais-tentent-de-rejoindre-alep_5047398_1618247.html

Posted by: Mina | Dec 12, 2016 6:14:36 PM | 51

@$45 - well that would explain it. I was wondering how this could have happened, given that Palmyra is in the middle of a dessert, where visibility ought not to have been a problem. Southfront also explains: http://thesaker.is/syrian-war-report-december-12-2016-mistakes-that-led-to-fall-of-palmyra/
US will not give up destroying Syria - that should be quite clear to all by now; even if one faction of the govt. makes a deal, another one will sabotage it.

Posted by: GoraDiva | Dec 12, 2016 6:48:43 PM | 52

OT - elijah j. m. has a good article up today as well, offering an overview on the syrian war at this point in time...

Posted by: james | Dec 12, 2016 6:52:58 PM | 53

Posted by: ALberto | Dec 12, 2016 10:54:53 AM | 12

"Apparently the 2nd US Civil War is ON! US Military vs CIA."

If that is the case then perhaps that is why Mr T is bringing in the generals.....

Posted by: notlurking | Dec 12, 2016 7:05:06 PM | 54

and from the usa state dept daily briefing for today..

"QUESTION: And then since you brought up the numbers about the tens of thousands who have been eliminated from the battlefield, I think – I don’t know when the last estimate was of ISIS fighters, but at one time for a while it was 25,000. And now we’ve got more dead than were alive back then – than ever existed. So how did that happen?

MR KIRBY: Because they’ve been able to – because they have – we’ve talked about this openly. Because we know that they have been able to continue to recruit. They have been able to replenish their manpower."

too bad no one asks kirby why they are able to 'recruit' and to the question of just who might be paying for it.. that would like right back to their coalition partners - qatar, saudi arabia, turkey and israel and they can't look or question any of that, can they? no, instead - label syria a 'terrorist state' for your good friends in israel, but ignore the 'terrorist states' you continue to support...

Posted by: james | Dec 12, 2016 7:07:01 PM | 55

I think Palmyra was one last, desperate attempt by the U.S. to draw the Tiger forces from Aleppo in an attempt to save the last pocket of "moderate" terrorists.

Posted by: rcentros | Dec 12, 2016 7:10:19 PM | 56

From what I can understand all the antiquities that were in the least portable were shifted from Palmera to Damascus a coupla months back, so IS/Daesh won't be making any money out of the kabuki this time around.
Maybe they'll blow up some more of the non-portable stuff but I doubt it since the real object of that last time was to provide cover for looting and the amerikans will be very sensitive of potential blowback from their involvement in the vandalisation of a world heritage site. Fucking up ancient works of art will create media interest about something they would rather stay low profile in the neoliberal parts of the planet.
Most importantly there were only about 1000 humans living in Palmyra before the weekend's outrage, & they pretty much all managed to exit stage left with the military.

In other words in the immediate future it may be smarter to simply blockade supply routes in and out of Palmyra, and concentrate on the real battles where Syrians are dying thanks to the oppressive activities of the al nusra mob.
But, if it were me, I would be about chasing the turk n amerikan invaders out first.
Unless there really is some overwhelming strategic reason for concentrating on the terrorists in the east, I'd be heading west and making sure that neither turk nor amerikan invader had sufficient time to plant the sort of roots in Western Syria that could take generations to completely grub out.

I can understand that manpower could be an issue but once news of the amerikan involvement in this senseless invasion of an historic site becomes known esp via the usual sources (eg the propornot list of objective newscasters), there will be a big mob of angry humans, including within amerika - does anyone else conclude that the bill rushed through in DC last week, y'know the one that made it A OK to give arms, equipment and training to terrorists in Syria, was rushed through in a faux attempt to legitimise this latest outrage?

I dunno how the fat assed fork tongues in Congress will manage to ooze outta the shitstorm of being made to look complicit in aiding ISIS. Yeah, yeah the Deir Ezzor bombing didn't provoke much reaction even though in many ways it was worse than the latest Palmyra communications blockade.

If you bother to look at the MSM 'reporting' at the time of Deir Ezzor, you will see that amerika squirmed away by claiming Daesh's takeover of the freshly bombed positions was merely 'serendipitous' - no such claim can work this time as the timing, duration and all encompassing nature of the communications blockade was so precisely timed there is no other conclusion to be drawn.

We may know that an attack such as Deir Ezzor takes weeks of preparation but that doesn't really counter the kneejerk average, thick as two short planks, amerikan potatohead belief that "our team wouldn't do that. ISIS prolly saw the bombing mistake and took advantage".
This is different because there is nothing to 'see' in a communications takedown, how did ISIS know it had happened much less be certain it would continue long enough for them to take full advantage unless they were party to the entire scenario?

The details of amerikan involvement in the Palmyra thuggery need to be published by every site which claims to oppose this despicable conflict.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Dec 12, 2016 7:14:21 PM | 57

Grieved | Dec 12, 2016 4:37:06 PM | 39
The problem for the SAA is that before they can counterattack they need to stabilise the front line to some degree to regain control by standing and fighting rather than retreating because if they do retreat they could find themselves in Homs (the city) before they know it.
Since it was obvious that the SAA didn't have the man power to defend Palmyra in their usual slapdash fashion, they should have created solid fixed defences to ensure that nothing like this could happen and they had several months to do that in. Once ISIS attacked the defenders should has stayed to fix the ISIS forces and allow air power to do its magic and kill them. By retreating, they allowed ISIS the opportunity to move on.
So far, this looks like Blitzkrieg but without the slower moving infantry to clean out any surrounded groups so the highly mobile forces have to do it.
The SAA should either have had enough drones to monitor the arc going north, east or south from Palmyra or have had pickets or reconnaissance flights out in that area watching for any activity.
>>>> Zico | Dec 12, 2016 4:57:54 PM | 40

Their latest offensive in Palmyra stinks of support from sources whith highly accurate intelligence. The speed and accuracy of the assault makes me believe it was not planned by Da'esh themselves.

Anyone in the US military involved would fear for their career once Trump is inaugurated so I doubt it was anyone from there (+see below). As for the other likely suspects, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia they're not competent enough to organise a piss-up in a brewery so this would be way beyond their capabilities.

>>>> Yonatan | Dec 12, 2016 5:10:18 PM | 42

The US blew up telecommunications towers between Raqqa and Tadmur at the start of the operation. This hindered SAA communications. The attack was also timed to coincide with a period of extended bad weather that stopped the Mi-28s being used. The Palmyra defenses were also partly manned by NDF as opposed to SAA forces. All in all, a carefully planned attack exploiting and creating weaknesses, in an attempt to strike a strong psychological blow against the SAA and to counter the news of the loss of Aleppo.

As for the weather, I doubt there are a lot of weather stations in eastern Syria so how could the fog be accurately predicted because there wouldn't be a substantial enough model to work reliably on. Far more likely that someone in ISIS woke up on Friday morning, saw the fog, realised the advantage it gave and sent a scratch force to attack Palmyra and in the meantime organised a larger force to exploit any gains.

As for the communication towers between Raqqa and Palmyra, it was more likely that ISIS blew them up themselves to maintain the secrecy around this operation.

As for whether the Americans organised this, I doubt it. With the way the United States monitors eastern Syria they probably knew what was happening fairly soon after it kicked off but decided not to intervene. American air power would have liquidated ISIS within the first few miles of their highly-exposed trip across the desert.
The fault with the Russians is not having enough air power in Syria. While they've made very efficient use of what they have committed, they seem to not have any real reserves for when the shit hits the fan, and withdrawing the SU-25s was a mistake while ISIS who have proved adept at using mobility were still around. Mobile columns moving through the desert are almost perfect fodder for the SU-25s which should have been forward-based at T4 to allow a "cab rank" CAS system to be established. Helicopters are too slow and vulnerable.

Posted by: Ghostship | Dec 12, 2016 7:50:51 PM | 58

@52 james - that's an excellent article by Magnier, thanks. A magisterial summary of all the interests at play in the fields of Syria.

Worth another linking: Is the partition of Syria still possible? Turkey and the US: biggest mistakes in this war

Within the perspective and history presented by Magnier of the plan to save the "useful Syria", i.e. the cities where most of the population could live, the temporary taking of Palmyra fades into its true significance. I don't call the article off-topic at all.

Posted by: Grieved | Dec 12, 2016 7:54:33 PM | 59

Response to FecklessLeft | Dec 12, 2016 5:24:13 PM | 44

My point of departure from b on his idea of all the Mosul head-choppers being given passage to Dier Ezzor so that they can set up a “salafist principality” is more on the operational level than the policy level or theoretical level, which seems to be where you are operating. It just seems to me that w/ all of the Russian eyes in the sky it would be next to impossible for 5,000 head-choppers to make it 200 miles across harsh desert from Mosul to the Syrian border, and then another 80 miles to DEz w/out getting good and thumped. This is not Lawrence of Arabia we’re talking about.

And, as I said, b’s prediction is two months old and Daesh is still holding onto Mosul. If this was going to be a staged exit like b predicted, why wait for so long and take so many casualties holding ground that’s going to be abandoned? What, is Abu Bakr al-Baghdaddy taking 2 months to find a burka he can fit his fat ass into?

And w/ SAA under so much pressure in DEz at the moment, it seems unlikely under the salafist principality theory that Daesh would send 4000 head-choppers away from DEz and send them over 100 mi. to retake Palmyra, which seems to have next to no tactical value at the moment. I think, basically, Daesh is just fucking stupid and they have been from the get-go. They’re made a splash only because they’re nasty and brutish and no one was prepared for them. Same way the iJews took Palestine.

You ask: “Have you read the document where the intention to develop a 'salafist principality' is explicitly mentioned?” I don’t see a link or any kind of citation in your comment so I have not the faintest idea what “document” you’ve got your panties in a twist over. If it’s the one being pushed by InfoWars, just keep it, the source alone tells you that it’s bullshit. If it’s the “Plan B” idea, that has been flushed down the toilet long ago. Putin has canceled those plans.

You ask: “Why do you think the West arms these people in the first place?” Well, it’s not to promote salafism or wahhabism, I will guarantee you that.

USG and Government of Yisrael are not going to all of this trouble just to set up a baby-Saudi on the east end of Syria. The reasons “these people” are being armed by the West is to take out al-Assad. The only ones arming anyone in order to set up a salafist principality is the House of Saud and their Sunni morons on the Gulf. It doesn’t take an advanced degree in international studies to figure that out.

Someone, b I believe, has said that a salafist principality in DEz would be a “thorn” in Assad’s side. Yeah, right. . . . that’s certainly true. But it would be a thorn in the whole world’s side – a thorn from which more head-chopping would flow for generations to come. USG and GoY are not so stupid as to promote such an enterprise. What would they possibly gain from it?

USG is in Syria for one reason only, and that’s because GoY wants control of Syria. al-Assad has to be eliminated so that the IAF has a clear shot at Iran through Syrian airspace. The ultimate game here is not salafist principalities, it is Ertz Yisrael. Always has been. We don’t know yet whether Bibi is going to be able to pull DTDuck’s strings, but I have my doubts. I think al-Assad won’t mean squat to DTDuck, and, consequently, the USG will start pulling out of this fight (meaning the fight to bring down al-Assad) beginning on January 21.

At least that's the way I see it. Would love to hear your ideas as to why the "West" would want to set up a "salafist principality" in DEz or anywhere.

Posted by: IpsoFacto | Dec 12, 2016 8:20:43 PM | 60

@59 The "salafist principality" wouldn't be permanent. It's the carrot dangled in front of ISIS. Once it has served its purpose...i.e. turning Syria into a failed state...it would be dispensed with.

Posted by: dh | Dec 12, 2016 9:03:09 PM | 61

while aleppo celebrates their liberation sunni converts Yvonne Ridley sourcing american Bila Kareem descend into apocalyptic gloom https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161211-as-death-rains-down-on-aleppo-why-are-western-countries-so-reluctant-to-act/#.WE8jDxuWsQ4.twitter

Posted by: brian | Dec 12, 2016 10:00:23 PM | 62

Why all the hand wringing as to how this (Palmyra) could have happened. Why didn't anyone notice the buildup, Russians made a deal, and similar whinging etc..
The writing has been on the wall since the failure of the head-choppers to break the seige that all of Aleppo will be taken by the SAA.
The terrorist supporting US and it's allies factored this and gamed the outcome to closely determine the timing of the collapse. They have been planning the Palmyra attack as another facet of the game playing scenario. You do that and we will do this.
Unfortunately, the quality of the strategy is very poor. Palmyra is/was supposed to be a distraction on many levels and a propaganda counter-stroke. I believe the Russians saw what was to come and largely left the bag empty.

Posted by: spinworthy | Dec 12, 2016 10:13:31 PM | 63

@61 dh

there's many a slip between cup and lip

Posted by: jfl | Dec 12, 2016 10:28:04 PM | 64

@52 james, @58 grieved 'At the end of the day, Syria has become a territory divided between Russian and American influence.'

so ends both b's and james' linked elijah j m articles. i cannot feel any sense of relief until the 'american influence' is removed from all of syria ... and iraq, at least. 1991 - 2017 ... 26 years of death, devastation, destruction and deceit dealt to the iraqis ... engulfing the syrians and yemenis ... that's a full quarter and then some of the new american century ... the pride of neo-con 'man' ... i don't see it ending until the mighty us is broken in the dust again.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 12, 2016 10:39:23 PM | 65

Aleppo Is Liberated By Govt Forces! (Photo Report, Videos, Map)


People are celebrating the victory:

Joy and excitement of the people in Aleppo tonight as they celebrate the Syrian Army victory after 4 long years of battle!


There are sure to ensue many such celebratory exclamations and youtubes from aleppo over the next several days and weeks ... sure to labeled fakenews in the nato-occupied countries in europe and north america.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 13, 2016 2:11:44 AM | 66

@all - some comments to the above

- It wasn't 4,000 ISIS that attacked Palmyra but several hundred - may be up to a thousand

- The "Salafist principality" is an official term of arts used by the Defense Intelligence Agency to describe U.S. and Gulf states' aim in Syria. It was linked here in dozens of post. I was too lazy to link it again in the above.

- All reports about U.S. interference in radio traffic around Palmyra are unconfirmed! I would ask why anyone would think such would be necessary. Keeping radio silence isn't difficult for ISIS nor for anyone else.

- Russian surveillance over Iraq and east Syria is thin. U.S. surveillance is MUCH more dense and effective. Russia simply does not have that many assets in space and air. It can't see everything the U.S. can see.

- ISIS could not leave Mosul in big numbers, as warned about two month ago, because the Iraqi Hashd blocked the way west of Mosul on order of the Iraqi prime minister (and against the wishes of the U.S.) This was reported here when it happened about 3-4 weeks ago.

- There is still some quarter in east-Aleppo that has not been taken. Negotiations are ongoing.

Posted by: b | Dec 13, 2016 5:30:42 AM | 68

@68 b

thanks for the update. can the quarters not yet taken be the ones in which the us/nato mercs are? can that be what the negotiaitons are about?

on palmyra ... i've seen remarks about the 'unusual expertise' shown by daesh in the assault and occupation ... can there have been western mercs involved there as well ... along the lines of those employed by qatar and the gccs mentioned by pavewayiv in posts here in other threads.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 13, 2016 6:19:08 AM | 69

so b, think this is bullshit?

Posted by: john | Dec 13, 2016 6:33:37 AM | 70

@53 james

An overall interesting article but i think it was Russia not Iran which pushed Assad to give up the east (for now).

Russia wants to secure west-Syria where it's bases are and therefore is interested in liberating the Idlib province first, while Iran is interested in preventing a "sunni state" between Syria and Iraq (breaking the so called "shia crescent").

The main problem with the ill-advised strategy to go for Idlib first is that northern Idlib which borders Turkey is a mountainous area. Liberating that part of the province alone could take years and time is of the essence here.

Posted by: redrooster | Dec 13, 2016 6:51:29 AM | 71

Yesterday the government took over all districts to the east of Aleppo river (a narrow trickle like Los Angeles river, before 1960 it was an actual river but Turkey diverted its water for irrigation), this morning, according to Hasan Ridha on Twitter, most of that was taken over, and what remains under rebel control is something like one square kilometer, or two, along the southern extremity of the former pocket. The "old urban boundary" of the pocket was fortified with bunkers, traps and tunnels for years, so SAA chose not to advance from that side but to leave it to less mobile units.

Tomorrow there will be no "free Aleppo". UN was informed about scores of civilians "killed on the spot" EVEN SO! The world is oblivious. :-( One how do I know that?

I checked the representative of potentially caring world, The Guardian. On the front page they put "Complete meltdown of humanity" on the top tier of the headlines. But on the opinion page, nothing! The top story is The Republicans are delivering America into Putin's hands. So do not hope for anything coming out of our momentary melancholy, we have deep problems on our side of the Atlantic.

I imagine making money with a self-help book" "How to build your personal prosperity by ingratiating yourself to Putin trolls who are taking over your country".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Dec 13, 2016 7:42:05 AM | 72

@72 piotr, 'How to build your personal prosperity by ingratiating yourself to Putin trolls who are taking over your country'

that might answer my question, somehow. my question is ... do you have any idea why the Brits have gone round the bend on this one?

what are they terrified of losing?

it does seem clear to me that Russia is more attractive to tee-rump than, say, the dreary isle, and that the UK does have a history of imperial competition with Russia ... back when UK was an empire, before they became a branch bank. it also does seem that Russia, at 17,075,200 km2 and a tad over 70x the size of the uk, at 242,495 km2 while just a bit over 2x the population has more of most everything that counts to entice the tee-rump than does the UK ... could that be it? has the UK been harboring 'secret' dreams of taking over a big piece of Russia itself, via NATO, as the ultimate solution of all its problems, and is the UK now terrified that tee-rump will succeed in doing so himself (both countries - and France and Germany ... Poland, too, of course - giving free reign to their covetous imaginations), and then - knowing the American appetite - terrified that there will be none left for the UK (Fr, De ... Po)?

or what do you think is the reason for the hysteria in the dreary isle?

Posted by: jfl | Dec 13, 2016 11:09:46 AM | 73

@73 It's a NATO thing most likely. The UK is firmly entrenched. Though they do seem to have a soft spot for Crimea (brutal Russia takeover etc. etc.) which may go back to the charge of the Light Brigade.

Posted by: dh | Dec 13, 2016 11:31:27 AM | 74

@73, dh, '... go back to the charge of the Light Brigade'

yeah. them were the halcyon days.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 13, 2016 11:41:52 AM | 75

Guardian floated the idea that Russian interference in the US election (which they take as a "fact") may cast doubt on the validity of the Brexit vote (because of alleged Putin/Russian influence) ... yes, quite a stretch but they actually went.there ....

The Brexit represents too.much.democracy cabal is using the DNC hack to cast doubt on Brexit ... The bipartisan warmongers (some of whom are likely non-state actors, as well as CIA employees) will ride whatever horse is most available

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Dec 13, 2016 11:46:02 AM | 76

@75....Not sure about these multicultural days but it used to be engraved on every British schoolboy's heart.

Posted by: dh | Dec 13, 2016 11:46:31 AM | 77

THIS IS HUGE:

Russia's Lavrov says Syria talks with US at dead end

During a visit to Belgrade, Lavrov said Russia was ready to quickly negotiate with the United States the opening of corridors for the pullout of rebels from Aleppo, but said these would have to be agreed before any cease-fire happened.

"Our American colleagues do, so to speak, agree with that, and from Dec. 3 when we met John Kerry in Rome they supported such a concept and even gave us their approval on paper," Lavrov told reporters at a news conference with his Serbian counterpart on Monday.

"But after three days they revoked that agreement and returned to their old, dead-end position which comprises this: Before the agreement on corridors there has to be a truce ... as I understand, this would just mean the rebels would get a break," he said.

...

Lavrov also said he believed that Islamic State's seizure of Palmyra might have been engineered by the U.S.-led coalition to divert attention from Aleppo.

"That leads us to a thought – and I am sincerely hoping I am wrong, that this is all orchestrated, coordinated to give a break to those bandits that are in eastern Aleppo," he said.

Posted by: b | Dec 13, 2016 12:45:12 PM | 78

@65 jfl.. i agree with you.. the usa is front and centre, but many other countries will also have to come down quite a few notches too..

@68 b.. thanks for the update and greater detail..

@ 71 redrooster... when you are over-extended, choices have to be made. i do believe syria is working together with russia and iran.. just what there plans are - i am not so sure.. however, i think manpower is an issue.. if the west under the leadership of the usa - continues to fund the headchopper cult with the aid of military gear and etc - this can go on for a long time.. i find it very disingenuous the usa talk about wanting a ceasefire, while pouring more military equipment into the area.. something doesn't add up between the actions and the pr..

Posted by: james | Dec 13, 2016 12:51:28 PM | 79

@78 b - key phrase " and I am sincerely hoping I am wrong," .. that is the question, isn't it? thanks.

Posted by: james | Dec 13, 2016 12:53:33 PM | 80

Some kind of deal has been made in Aleppo. The BBC is still going with the UN 'reports of summary killings'. Expect to see more atrocity stories in the coming days.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38308883

Posted by: dh | Dec 13, 2016 1:09:00 PM | 81

Ghostship | Dec 12, 2016 7:50:51 PM | 58

As for whether the Americans organised this, I doubt it. With the way the United States monitors eastern Syria they probably knew what was happening fairly soon after it kicked off but decided not to intervene. American air power would have liquidated ISIS within the first few miles of their highly-exposed trip across the desert.

Well I was wrong. This whole attack on Palmyra was nothing more than a propaganda exercise to provide some sound bites today for the scumbag Ukrainian representative at the UN Security Council, among others, to try and embarrass the Russians, Syrians and Iranians. I just caught him speaking on the live feed on RT and he seemed to be making the point that the Russians and Syrians were perfectly happy slaughtering civilians in East Aleppo while at the same time they weren't prepared to fight Daesh in eastern Homs. (I was cooking my supper at the time so I didn't catch it all but I think I caught the main points).

Posted by: Ghostship | Dec 13, 2016 1:23:41 PM | 82

>>>> ProPeace | Dec 13, 2016 4:21:33 AM | 67

NATO Believes Russian Carrier Killer Subs Are Stalking Its Flattops Off the Coast of Syria

At the time the Russian carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov was sailing down the English Channel to give the finger to the Royal Navy, there were reports that two Akula class nuclear attack submarines and a Kilo class diesel-electric submarine were making a lot of noise somewhere in the Irish Sea again giving the finger to the Royal Navy. So this is not new. There was talk in the media that they were accompanying the aircraft carrier so that they could be used to launch Kalibr cruise missiles at targets in Syria but I always thought they were there to make it clear to NATO that there would be consequences if anything happened to Admiral Kuznetsov so I suspect they are making more noise to deliver a reminder to NATO now that an American and a French aircraft carrier have turned up in the eastern Mediterranean that there will be consequences if either do anything stupid.

Posted by: Ghostship | Dec 13, 2016 1:37:15 PM | 83

>>>> b | Dec 13, 2016 5:30:42 AM | 68

It wasn't 4,000 ISIS that attacked Palmyra but several hundred - may be up to a thousand

The reports I read suggested that the first attack which was repelled involved several hundred ISIS fighters and that the second attack that succeeded, even after the RuAF/SAA claimed to have killed about 300 ISIS fighters, involved 4,000 - 5,000 ISIS fighters.

Meanwhile, back in Syria, it looks like T4 might fall soon. ISIS have captured two of the SAM bases around T4. Again, these bases seem woefully under fortified appearing to rely on nothing more than earthern berms and the defenders appear to have run off without making any attempt to destroy the equipment they were supposed to protect. Haven't the SAA heard of barbed or razor wire? Don't the SAA have grenades, duct tape and string? Haven't the Russian any cluster bombs or munition for the BM-30 in Syria?

Posted by: Ghostship | Dec 13, 2016 2:12:41 PM | 84

@ghostship - thanks for the links and pics.. hard to know what is happening, other then my suggestion that syrian forces are too small to deal with all the random insurrections, paid for by saudi arabia, qatar with tacit approval from the usa/israel/uk and coalition of mongrels..

Posted by: james | Dec 13, 2016 2:36:07 PM | 85

>>>> james | Dec 13, 2016 2:36:07 PM | 85
This is not a random insurrection. It's a careful planned assault that probably originated in the bowels of the CIA in Langley and then was forwarded to ISIS by their funders and supporters in Qatar, Saudi Arabia or even Jordan. But the SAA makes it far too easy for ISIS with their pathetic fixed defences.

Posted by: Ghostship | Dec 13, 2016 3:53:41 PM | 86

@ghostship... i didn't mean to imply the attack on palmyra was a random attack, as i don't see it that way either.. it is a combo but especially meant for propaganda purposes here..

Posted by: james | Dec 13, 2016 4:30:23 PM | 87

ot - relevant comments on this on pat langs latest post here..

Posted by: james | Dec 13, 2016 4:34:30 PM | 88

the French gov radio journalist was pissed off when she announced the ceasefire in Aleppo, moaning that it was the French who called for the UN meeting but that the Russian were one move ahead and announced directly they had reached an agreement via the Turks for the 'rebels' to leave
i read somewhere on twitter today about some leaving rebels storming Bab al Hawa (the border with Turkey) after merging what was initially 3 different groups. i.e. they are heading to Lesbos?
http://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2016/13-december-several-protesters-have-stormed-the-bab-alhawa

For Laguerre, ref pedophilia, i am amazed you feel the urge to defend the Brits. I read the BBC everyday and there is simply so many cases including the hundreds in football lately that frankly you can't say they are going after dead people because they would lack real cases!

Posted by: Mina | Dec 13, 2016 4:53:22 PM | 89

Mina 89. I'm not defending the Brits on pedophilia. I was explaining the rather complicated strategy of the Brits to defend the guilty by inculpating innocents, mainly dead, so that those innocents can be declared innocent, and the whole investigation discredited, leaving the real guilty free.

Posted by: Laguerre | Dec 13, 2016 5:31:34 PM | 90

>>>> james | Dec 13, 2016 4:30:23 PM | 87

it is a combo but especially meant for propaganda purposes here.

First I thought it was an opportunistic attack, then a propaganda effort, now I thinking this is too large an effort just for propaganda so are they going to isolate T4 and then move further west to Homs, Hama, or Arsal in Lebanon?

Posted by: Ghostship | Dec 13, 2016 6:24:28 PM | 91

@ 91 ghostship.. i don't know.. here is the al masdar news article on it..

as i mentioned and as pat lang mentions - the syrian forces are over stretched and this has always been an ongoing challenge.. it is hard to compete with so much money being thrown into isis, and (moderate-lol) headchopper mercenary forces trying to destroy syria.. unless russia was to commit to sending ground troops, it is a balancing act.. i don't see this ending quickly, although i do believe taking control of aleppo is significant..

Posted by: james | Dec 13, 2016 8:42:05 PM | 92

These were my thoughts on Palmyra posted on SouthFront, FWIW:

===========

The forces that attacked Palmyra are not necessarily ISIS - even though everyone automatically assumes so. The U.S. and GCC are sending mercs to command and fill in because ISIS is incompetent and falling apart. ISIS is useful for insane VBIED drivers, but that's about it. The UAE training bases in Eritria can supply all the mercs needed in south Syria. There are probably plenty of ISIS involved in this operation, but it is anything but an organic, 100% ISIS op.

Regardless of the actual troops being used, this was a significant military operation requiring a lot of planning and intelligence. The U.S. and GCC had drones over Palmyra gathering intelligence and relayed that real-time to their head-choppers on the ground. There is no way ISIS - by itself - could have possibly organized a well-coordinated operation of this scale using their own intelligence and their own command and control. This was a U.S./GCC operation, period. The bullet-stoppers and suicide bombers were ISIS. The rest? Who knows, but probably not ISIS.

Personally, I doubt it was a surprise at all to the troops holding Palmyra. This was probably a threat made good when Russia didn't cave to U.S. demands to let all their head-choppers trapped in Aleppo go. Rather than be diverted from the final crushing blow to Aleppo, the Russians and Syrians probably told the U.S. to piss off. So the Russians and Syrians concentrated on Aleppo (as they should have) and the U.S. and GCC cronies mounted the supposed 'ISIS' attack on Palmyra.

The goal of attacking Palmyra was not the city itself. The nearby gas fields still operating and gas pipeline infrastructure that converges at (near) Palmyra was the objective. This gas is the primary supply to the population centers of Syria's east, especially Homs and Damascus. Electricity for the east is generated from natural gas-fired power plants, so disruption of gas supplies threatens the power grid. Gas demand is also rising because of the cold winter weather in Syria. All this makes the Palmyra gas hub a desirable strategic target (if your target is to punish Syrian civilians for supporting Assad).

Map of Syrian gas infrastructure here.

For the Syrians and Russians, the loss of Palmyra's gas infrastructure was a risk they were willing to take. Note that this is a completely different problem than defending Palmyra city. Defending Palmyra's gas infrastructure (several hundreds of square kilometers and many, many points of vulnerability) would have taken thousands of troops, and all that for an attack that may have never come. The U.S./GCC objectives would have been 1) negotiating leverage in Aleppo, and 2) thinning out Syrian forces in Homs and possibly Aleppo to prolong those battles.

My guess for what happens next isn't the retaking of Palmyra and gas infrastructure/fields. That is a given. What I fear will happen is that the U.S./GCC are sabotaging/destroying as much of the pipelines, pumping stations and gas drying ('refining') equipment as possible right now to deny Syria's population centers of as much gas as possible this winter. Palmyra hub isn't the sole source of gas for east Syria, but it is a significant part of it. The equipment can be replaced or repaired, but at great cost and several months or more of time. I have no inside sources or special knowledge that they are doing this. I'm just projecting the continuous pattern of psychopathic behavior of my country (the U.S.) has when they are losing: they want as much Syrian infrastructure destroyed as possible to ensure more resource depletion and weakness in their 'enemy' (= the people of Syria and their government). Typical bully.

Syrian forces will retake Palmyra at some cost, but there will be no more natural gas flowing to the east when that happens. The fake ISIS will scatter back to Raqqa and Deir EzZor until the U.S./GCC cooks up more schemes to make their long-planned head-chopper Sunnistan a reality. An Israeli-backed attack on Damascus is probably next.

==========

Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 13, 2016 11:32:36 PM | 93

The above would not have been the doings of the military/Pentagon/CENTCOM. This would have been borg-inspired wet work from State Department neocons, their hired help and whatever shadowy intelligence agency lackies do their bidding in the Middle East nowadays. CENTCOM would have merely been passed a message [with appropriate hand gesture] to "...ignore the convoys of technicals heading to Palmyra. These are not the head-choppers you're looking for..."

Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 13, 2016 11:37:39 PM | 94

The pipeline graphic was sourced from the U.S. Energy Information Administration's country-specific analysis of Syria from June of 2015 found here.

Also:

    Syria imports most of its oil using credits from Iran (and maybe Russia?).

    The Arab gas pipeline from Jordan to Syria shown in the graphic is not in operation or supplying gas to Syria.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 13, 2016 11:47:01 PM | 95

And forgive the typos where I refer to gas flowing to the east. In Syria, all the gas flows from fields/drying stations in the east to population centers in the west of Syria. Palmyra (actually present-day Tadmur) itself is not part of the infrastructure - the facilities and pipelines all converge in that general area of Homs Governate before transiting further west.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 13, 2016 11:56:57 PM | 96

@94 pw4, 'The above would not have been the doings of the military/Pentagon/CENTCOM.'

somehow i feel sure that ash carter was on top of this whole situation, just as he was with the 'mistaken' stint of the usaf as the isaf in deir ezzor. the pentagon is in up to its neck in ddd&d. war criminals all.

Posted by: jfl | Dec 14, 2016 12:32:21 AM | 97

paveway... thanks for your insightful overview on all this... makes a lot of sense..

Posted by: james | Dec 14, 2016 1:09:46 AM | 98

ghostship... why don't you pass on paveways comments to the pat lang crowd, especially pat lang.. most folks seem convinced of a particular rationale and paveway has presented an alternative one that is quite good that is being overlooked by the 'isis done it' crowd..

Posted by: james | Dec 14, 2016 1:23:37 AM | 99

@99 james

aren't the sst boys all deniers of us/isis complicity? i don't look at isis and paveway's special forces group as independent units, distinct maybe, put under the same command. why are you sending ghostship over there? have they banned paveway already? is ghostship a regular, unbanned commenter at sst? if so why would he do your bidding?

as you can see i don't follow sst. i don't have the impression that they are big on alternatives, though. they are there to author the narrative, not to incorporate others' alternatives. and they are us armed forces, afterall, aren't they?

Posted by: jfl | Dec 14, 2016 5:09:27 AM | 100

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