Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 23, 2017

Syria Summary - The U.S. Move On Tabqa Will Complicate The Political Situation

Turkey is at a dead end in Syria. Erdogan's dream of going on to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor  or even Aleppo city has been blocked by an agreement between the U.S. and Russia. His proxy forces are stuck north-east of Aleppo city and have no way to go further south, east or west. They conquered a piece of rural land that gives Erdogan no negotiation leverage but potentially a lot of headaches. A small Russian contingent has moved into the Kurdish enclave in north-west Syria around Afrin blocking any serious Turkish move against that area.

Turkey and its paymasters in Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have lost the fight over Syria. Still tacitly backed by the U.S. they are currently trying a Hail-Mary pass to again achieve some negotiation power for the next round of Geneva talks. This is likely to again fail. Their proxy forces in the north west, including al-Qaeda, moved from the north towards the city of Hama (see map, red=Syrian government). Over the last days they captured 11 small villages which were only lightly defended. The Russian and Syrian airforce are now devastating them and a counter-attack by the Syrian army is prepared and will soon throw them back.


Source: Islamic World News - bigger

Coordinated with the Hama attack was an attempt to capture ground on the eastern periphery of Damascus and in the south around Deraa. The Damascus attack has run its cause. No ground was taken and held by the Takfiris and the counterattack against them is advancing. The attack in Deraa failed to break the Syrian army defense lines.

The head of the "White Helmet" propaganda gang in south Deraa was killed in an IED attack by al-Qaeda aligned forces. He was no Samaritan. He also commanded the 18 March Division, part of the foreign paid insurgency against the Syrian state.

The large Syrian army move on Idleb governate to liberate it from the Takfiris is still in preparation. No date has been set for its launch.

East of Aleppo city the Syrian army had blocked all Turkish proxy advances. It continued south to retake the country side from the Islamic State and is making good progress. The biggest city in the area, Deir Hafar, was nearly surrounded today by the Syrian army when the Islamic State fighters suddenly moved out. It is now back in government hands. [The sources were wrong on this. Deir Hafar is effectively surrounded but not yet in government hands. - Mar 23 1110 pm] The Syrian army in the area will continue to move south and south-east towards Raqqa and Deir Ezzor.

The U.S. proxy force in north-east Syria, the Kurdish anarcho-marxists of the PKK/YPK, have advanced on Raqqa. Raqqa lies slightly north of the Euphrates. The only way south and west from Raqqa that was left open was across the Tabqa dam that dams up the Euphrates and creates the Assad lake.


Source: Syrian Generation - bigger

Yesterday the U.S. and its proxy forces started a surprise attack to take the dam (map). Helicopters transported YPG fighters to the south of the Euphrates and improvised ferries (vid) carried their heavy equipment across the lake. Apache helicopters and heavy U.S. artillery covered the move. They blocked the road between Raqqa towards Aleppo in the west and they are now moving towards Tabqa city directly south of the dam. At the same time a YPG/PPK force is moving from the north towards the dam. There is some fear that Islamic State fighters could blow up the dam but the first to drown in the following flood would be all Isis fighters and their families in Raqqa and beyond.

In areas further south and east there is some fighting between the Syrian army and ISIS groups around Palmyra and in Deir Ezzor. The situations there seem mostly stable with slight advances by the Syrian government forces.

Israel recently made some splash by bombing Syrian government forces near Palmyra. This was against certain parameters the Russian and Israeli governments had agreed upon. While Russia will not hinder Israeli attacks on Hizbullah weapon transports going to Lebanon it will interdict should Israel (again) hit any forces in Syria fighting ISIS or other Jihadis. Israel was warned off by a Syrian anti-air missile launch. Loud noise was made thereafter by the Netanyahoo government in Tel Aviv. But that is mere domestic grandstanding. Netanyahoo is under criminal investigation and is fighting for his political life.

It is still unclear how the Trump administration plans to proceed on Syria. The move south of the Euphrates may block the Syrian government forces from moving further east towards the enclave in Deir Ezzor which is still under siege by ISIS. But the Euphrates crossing may also be a purely military move without a political intent to simply to enable the taking of the Tabqa dam. As a military move it makes completely sense. If this is a political move it will complicate the already confusing situation.

Posted by b on March 23, 2017 at 02:34 PM | Permalink

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A 19-year-old dual American Israeli living in Ashkelon has been arrested, suspected of being behind most of a series of bomb and other threats to Jewish communities in the US, Europe, Australia and New Zealand that date back around six months, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

As of Thursday, with a gag order on the probe being lifted by the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court at the same time it extended his detention to March 30, sources indicate that most of the threats against the Diaspora communities and organizations led investigators back to Israel.

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Dual-US-Israeli-citizen-behind-most-JCC-bomb-threat-calls-484990

Gosh, what timing to release this news during the outbreak of Allahu Akbar™ FF specials in London and Belgium. Why, it's uncanny!

Next thing you know, someone will be flying jets into skyscrapers and blaming the Muslim world for their crimes.

Posted by: Greg Bacon | Mar 23, 2017 2:44:36 PM | 1

Excellent summary b.

SecState Tillerson's recent statements are a worry re what may come politically and 'on the ground' after a reduction of Raqqa by Kurdish/US forces ? as well as the straddled Iraq/Syria border regions, line Mosul-Raqqa, ultimate actual intentions are still largely, opaque.

PS You have mail ;)

Posted by: Outraged | Mar 23, 2017 2:49:12 PM | 2

Blocking a move by the SAA toward Deir Azzor would allow a pipeline to go through Jordan and up to Turkey? That's the only reason why splitting the country in half could start WW3. Am I off base in this thinking?

Posted by: What the Dickens | Mar 23, 2017 3:10:02 PM | 3

Tabqa dam was already blocked as a crossing point as US held the country on the northern side of the dam wall. Baath dam about 10k's downstream is still open? Taking/securing the Tabqa dam before taking Raqqa possibly a reason for crossing the river. Otherwise the US is going for more territory while SAA are tied up in Hama/Damascus.
Another of those coincidences? AQ attacks in the west to pull Syrian forces away and tie them up for a week or two just as the US crosses the Euphrates.

Posted by: Peter AU | Mar 23, 2017 3:15:58 PM | 4

The US move is very good move, actually.

They simply want to block a possible Syrian army advance on Raqqa and possible Syrian Government say about what is going in that area and who will own the city.

The message is clear: Raqqa should be liberated by US backed forces and should not be under syrian government control. By this move, the US is ensuring that it will have a seat on the table in Syria, and permanent bases in Syrian Kurdistan. A seat independent of Turkey and Iran.

With Raqqa in SDF/US hands (and many more areas in eastern Syria too, kurds could also liberate Deir ez-Zor to further embarrass the Syrian government), Russia will be unable to exclude the US via the now obsolete format Russia - Turkey - Iran.

Russia should have been smarter than this, and learned for the cunning neocons and their tricks. They should have allowed a turkish attack on Manbij, this would have created a major trouble for the US and forced them to stop the offensive on Raqqa. With the Kurds and the Turks busy fighting each other, the Syrian Government would have the time and the space necessary to launch an offensive on Raqqa and capture the city, as later Deir ez-Zor as well.

Posted by: Observer | Mar 23, 2017 3:22:49 PM | 5

The fight for control of the former ISIS territory is on.

Now it's all about speed: Whose advance towards eastern Syria is faster? Who'll end up with what parts of the country, and will there be an axis from Syria to Iran or from Turkey to KSA?
The Kurds/ SDF probably aren't very keen on this, but they've fallen into the trap: Since their security, supply chains and autonomy depend entirely on US support, they can't say 'No' to Washington's demand to act as its ground force.

The al-Nusra offensives in Damascus and Hama province are just diversionary attacks, aimed at occupying the Syrian army for as long as possible to delay its advance towards Deir Ezzor. They aren't meant to achieve anything in their own right, other than win a little time.

@Peter AU:
If there ever was an agreed upon 'demarcation line' (the Euphrates?), that agreement has been broken. But just as likely (or more) I was wrong and there never was such a deal.

Posted by: smuks | Mar 23, 2017 3:27:10 PM | 6

@ Posted by: Peter AU | Mar 23, 2017 3:15:58 PM | 4

But, but, the US/coalition and AQ are enemies(?), with unaffiliated, independent, separate Commands/Commanders, and therefore a concurrent conveniently timed diversionary operation to split/dilute RU/SAA forces & materiel assets is purely co-incidental, shirley ?

Posted by: Outraged | Mar 23, 2017 3:30:35 PM | 7

Has anyone confirmed this?

"BEIRUT, LEBANON (2:00 P.M.) – The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) captured Tabqa Dam from ISIS after a spectacular attack that saw the fighters launch the multi-pronged attack behind ISIS frontlines."

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/sdf-captures-tabqa-dam-from-isis-in-spectacular-behind-enemy-lines-operation/

Posted by: Dean | Mar 23, 2017 3:33:46 PM | 8

@What the Dickens 3
The region will be far from stable for years to come - little chance to build a pipeline (to supply whom - just Turkey?) imo, BUT a good idea if the aim is to prevent construction of a pipeline from Iran to Syria.
Start WW3, not really - even if the winner will have a major strategic advantage, and even if WW1 was fought for similar reasons (to block an attempt at linking Mesopotamia to Central Europe).

@Peter AU 4
Thinking the same thing...;-) The crucial question is who gets to Deir Ezzor first - whoever does will end up with a corridor (west-east or north-south). A government-held enclave there would be of little use if there's no connection to Iraq.
Taking Taqba before Raqqa to prevent any possible flooding - very plausible.

Posted by: smuks | Mar 23, 2017 3:46:31 PM | 9

Both Assad and the Syrian people will not accept a divided state; indeed, they look forward to retaking the Golan.

An eventuality realized: Small, inexpensive weaponized drones being used as Kamakazis to attack radar arrays to clear the path for later missile volleys, https://translate.yandex.com/translate?url=http%3A%2F%2Fbmpd.livejournal.com%2F2505659.html&ui=en&dir=&lang=ru-en

Such a development effectively renders aircraft carriers to blue water, stand-off weapons carriers, with similar implications for all land-based air defence systems.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 23, 2017 3:58:24 PM | 10

CENTCOM says a bunch of U.S. Marines (?) and SDF jumped across Lake Assad and took over a peninsula to the west of Tabqa City. A few Middle East outlets started claiming that the SDF actually took over Tabqa Dam with the help of some U.S. SOF.

1) 500 MARSOC Marines? 'Regular' marines were suppose to be manning a Howitzer battery or two somewhere outside of Raqqa, not conducting air assaults to surround Tabqa City. Army Rangers were suppose to be conducting air assaults on ISIS (well, as 'advisers' anyway).

2) Trump will have to start regular shuttle flights to Dover to greet aluminum coffins if he's got U.S. 'boots-on-the-ground' mixing it up in Raqqa. Every ISIS car bomber in the city is going to be aiming for U.S. troops. CENTCOM never learns. Oh, and then there's the matter if the U.S. NOT being invited to Syria and the U.S. Congress NOT declaring war on Syria, making any U.S. presence illegal and unconstitutional. But when has that ever stopped us?

3) ISIS reportedly has an ammunition dump, headquarters and a prison full of high-value prisoners (Westerners) inside the Tabqa Dam structure/powerplant. They have repeatedly threatened to blow the dam if attacked. So the U.S. is flying marines and SDF in to attack Tabqa Dam? What could possibly go wrong? (Assuming CENTCOM doesn't use nerve gas - because that's illegal). It's almost like CENTCOM WANTS ISIS to blow the dam. What's up with that?

4) The U.S. needs an improved airport with a long runway for heavy lifts if they are to occupy eastern Syria and create Syrian Kurdistan/Sunnistan. U.S. occupation forces always bring tons and tons of junk with them. Tabqa Air Base fits the bill pretty good for an occupation force electronic surveillance post and heavy logistics hub - er, "Temporary ISIS-fightin' Fusion Superhero Center". I would call it CENTCOM East except the evil Qataris have dibs on that title. That air base is about five minutes drive from the invasion peninsula - who would have thought?

5) Where are the French and the Brits? They always seem to pop up during Syrian/Iraqi oilfield theft/occupation theatre. Don't tell me Total and BP are throwing in the towel to Exxon - of all oil gluttons - in eastern Syria? Will wonders never cease?

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 23, 2017 3:58:41 PM | 11

@ Greg Bacon #1

That what I told my friends a couple of weeks ago when that topic was on every network during evening news . I said it must be someone from the promised land trying to redirect the blame on the Muslims!

Posted by: Yul | Mar 23, 2017 3:59:13 PM | 12

@ Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 23, 2017 3:58:24 PM | 9

Well, that explains the reports of $3Million USD Patriot missiles being used to take out ~$200 USD drones, without ever identifying the operator (US/KSA/UAE). Hm, Iranian supplied ?

Obvious tactical evolutionary development, in retrospect, far simpler & cost-effective than expensive HARM missiles and launch platforms. Swarms of cheap drones to defeat the Detection/tracking/Engagement radars, wherever, and then launch the expensive ordnance ... and the economic burden is heavily born by the defender, temporarily, in the drone users favor, an added bonus.

Solution: Actual multi-tiered, integrated, mutually supporting/overlapping AD/ABM multi platform/range systems, not just Patriots, Iron Domes, Davids Sling etc,. Ie a localized LOW-Cost and effective Point-Defence System/s (PDS) for defending an AD/ABM or radar complex. Hm, only the Evil™ Russkies currently have anything like that, and do it well ;)

Posted by: Outraged | Mar 23, 2017 4:26:46 PM | 13

@ karlof1 | 9


Both Assad and the Syrian people will not accept a divided state; indeed, they look forward to retaking the Golan.

Unfortunately, nobody will ask them. Syria cant start war vs US, especially if Trump makes a deal with Russia (who will keep Syria in check, by strong-arming if needed).

Kurds will prefer to keep "liberated" land for themselves, in Iraq they already declared its theirs, will see how it goes in Syria. For some reason I'm not holding my breath US proxies will grow consciousness. Granted, Kurds have many factions, but US and co will make sure "the right people" have the power, and others will be marginalized. It happened in Iraq, and happening full steam in Syria.

Posted by: Harry | Mar 23, 2017 4:32:24 PM | 14

Very good sitrep b.

@4-5-6: Yup.

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 23, 2017 4:38:02 PM | 15

Most understand the war against Syria to be a microcosm of the much larger war between the Multilateralists and the Outlaw US Empire's Unipolarists. Several recent articles help explain this, the most recent being Whitney's, http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/23/will-washington-risk-ww3-to-block-an-emerging-eu-russia-superstate/ which builds atop McCoy's of almost 2 years ago, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176007/tomgram%3A_alfred_mccoy,_washington%27s_great_game_and_why_it%27s_failing_/

What's occurring at the Eastern edge of Eurasia and potential developments there are reviewed today by Pepe Escobar, whose last several articles link together into a greater whole, http://www.atimes.com/article/north-korea-really-serious-options-table/ and http://www.atimes.com/article/could-great-wall-of-iron-become-new-silk-roadblock/ andhttps://sputniknews.com/columnists/201703171051701194-birth-bangs-of-new-middle-east/ and http://www.atimes.com/article/wikileaks-trove-fails-shift-dial-trump-putin-narrative/

Perhaps Pepe's most important revelation from today's article is what he calls "The ‘invisible’ Tokyo-Beijing gamble" having the potential to delever the Empire's hold on East Asia--to unhinge its choke-hold. Which brings use back to Whitney's piece and PavewayIV's commentary: Just what is tRump's goal in Syria; surely it involves more than just Daesh's destruction. Or are we just going to be told it's destroyed, shown White Helmet type video while the terrorists are shipped out to Afghanistan where they can spring into Xinjiang to derail OBOR as was done from Libya to Syria? That's why having Tabqa airbase would be a requirement for the Empire--to exfiltrate not import.

IMO, too many hold to the Wolfowitz Doctrine, including many within tRump's own swamp.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 23, 2017 5:01:57 PM | 16

@10 The SAS are in there somewhere. Wearing their bedouin kit most likely. They never miss out on a scrap.

Posted by: dh | Mar 23, 2017 5:15:13 PM | 17

Let's not kid ourselves. Everything the empire does is political.

From the map it's obvious US and its proxies are trying to hem in the SAA from Raqqa, which will become part of Kurdistan. If memory serves me correctly, these are the same asshats who attacked Hasakah and triggered the "Euphrates Shield".

Syria needs to quickly wipe out the "moderates" in the west, and then get ready for a showdown with these perfidious Kurds.

Posted by: Cycloben | Mar 23, 2017 5:17:31 PM | 18

So do I have this correct so I may inform the foreign minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines? It is the

1. U.S. proxy force in north-east Syria, the Kurdish, [you conveniently forgot Assyrian, Yezidi, Chaldean, Armenian, Arab and pluri-ethnic] anarcho-marxists [I think you mean anarcho-communitarian] of the PKK/YPK
2. Russian/Iranian proxy force [democratic legitimate] fascist Syrian Arab Republic.
3. The Saudi/Kuwaiti/Qatari proxy force jihadi child-raping, BSM slave trading headchopping Daeshbags.
4. The Turkish proxy force white helmeted Al Qaedah terrorist baby-killing mercenary gangsters.

All fighting over an oil pipeline and whether or not women should wear black sacks over their head or polka dot bikinis?

Sounds like a Netanyahu/Erdogan lovefest to me.

Posted by: Old Pirate | Mar 23, 2017 5:25:43 PM | 19

@karlof1 15

Thanks for the interesting links.

I do assume that the US wants to keep as much as possible of eastern Syria under their control, for which they only need a relatively small own presence bc the Kurds depend on US backing. So Tabqa (or another airbase) would serve both purposes.

I've been wondering for a while where ISIS fighters will be shipped to and deployed next. Pakistan, Egypt and Algeria come to mind. There is another possibility though: How about just giving them new flags and uniforms and have them control the non-Kurdish parts of eastern Syria? If they could do it under an ISIS banner, why not an SDF one?

Posted by: smuks | Mar 23, 2017 5:52:14 PM | 20

@ 9

May not work for ships. I think most have close in protection? 50 cal gatling ect.

Posted by: Peter AU | Mar 23, 2017 5:54:07 PM | 21

@19 Are the US forces stupid enough to trust the Kurds? Yes they probably are. But the Kurds sure know better than to trust the US.

Posted by: dh | Mar 23, 2017 6:06:29 PM | 22

The Russia - Israel agreement to ignore Syrian sovereignty so that Israel can conduct an illegal and immoral war against Hezbollah is itself heinous. Russia is just one more government that grants Israel impunity and it is this impunity which allows Israel to continue to avoid making peace

Posted by: paul | Mar 23, 2017 6:12:23 PM | 23

The latest jihadi advance in Hama looks like a cauldron in a making, a military maneuver favored by the Russian military aiming at entrapping and encircling enemy forces. It was used multiple times by Donbas' rebels - with devastating effect again and again - against the hapless Ukrainian Army, as well as in the Battle of Aleppo. Russian fingerprints are clearly visible in the increasing sophistication of Syrian strategic planning.

Posted by: telescope | Mar 23, 2017 6:17:17 PM | 24

smuks 19

From what I have read lately, it looks like US may well clean them up rather than move them ... or perhaps just move them to Deir Ezzor if possible. From some of the reports on the US bombing, both Mosul and Raqqa, if it moves its ISIS. US took out a school building on the outskirts of Raqqa the other day that apparently housed 50 families. I guess they were ISIS supporters as they had moved in to Raqqa as the SDF advanced...

Posted by: Peter AU | Mar 23, 2017 6:19:02 PM | 25

@Peter AU 24
Or a combination of both, or the three. Those who stay behind to fight to the death are probably too crazy to deploy them elsewhere, the rest may be re-used or re-branded. Of course, it would be ideal if lots of jihadis could be herded towards Deir Ezzor and storm the city, just before the SDF reaches it and 'liberates' it...but then again, the city itself is maybe not that important.

@dh 21
It's not about 'trust', but dependency. The Kurds need US protection if they want autonomy, see my post 5.

Fun fact: 'Deir Hafer' in German means 'the oat'.
Another fun fact: Just days after the Syrian army claimed to have shot down an Israeli jet, Israel claimed that a jet crashed when returning from a mission to Gaza.

Posted by: smuks | Mar 23, 2017 7:04:45 PM | 26

Wow, quite a stunt that Kurdish/US forces have performed there. Seems like people at the Pentagon have really racked their brains for that fresh strategy on ISIS that their new Commander-in-Chief orderered. Wonder if this Kurdish beachhead will turn out to be tenable, though, since ISIS always means 'no-holds barred', right?
Anyway, I find the overall situation in Syria these days very, very odd. Having a look at the map (like this one) it seems like that costly battle for Eastern Aleppo never happened - loyalist Syria is still so much in a pickle, under attack in so many different places, and the future is still so uncertain.

Posted by: Scotch Bingeington | Mar 23, 2017 7:04:54 PM | 27

Maskanah isn't the most direct path to Deir Ezzor and having the YPG deployed on Raqqa - Maskanah supply line works to the advantage of the SAA should they decide to go for Maskanah. It also blocks ISIS from reinforcing Raqqa from Maskanah.

Posted by: Thirdeye | Mar 23, 2017 7:15:55 PM | 28


sorry, off-topic but seems newsworthy:

Ukrainian Grad rocket factory explodes

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiJe8irYfYE

Posted by: Perimetr | Mar 23, 2017 7:31:28 PM | 29

Peter AU @20--

Sure they do, but the ammo supply's finite. Go ahead and shoot up the massive mosquito cloud of drones--imagine several waves numbering in the hundreds--then, ammo spent, watch the incoming missiles as they slam into your ships. The strategy is very keen and very cheap, except for the defender as Outraged noted.

smuks @19--

Considering the amount of rebranding already done in this war, that's a distinct possibility. But given the larger stakes in play, and based on what was attempted in Mosul, I think they'll be rescued and removed to another theatre. Based on his actions, tRump's already violated most of his campaign pledges in the finest Obama tradition; so, his vow to destroy ISIS is now rendered doubtful.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 23, 2017 7:39:27 PM | 30

Wow - this is turning out to be one bizarre operation.

First of all, it turns out this was just SDF + US SOF getting a lift to the other side of the lake in the Marine version of the flying coffin: MV-22 tilt-rotor Ospreys. I'm not sure how you want to slice and dice the term 'air assault', but they really just got a ride over and secured the general area of the peninsula for the boats. Apparently no 'assault' and almost no fighting. Why? It turns out ISIS mysteriously evacuated the place of both military and civilians last month. There's nothing there but some light industry. Hmmm. Now why would ISIS care about this spot to evacuate it, CENTCOM?

So after a small insertion team makes sure the docks are secure, boats bring over most of the SDF troops and some light armor (HUMVEEs, technicals & light APCs). Again, under virtually no opposition and nobody to fight. They make their way out to the highway 'cutting' it - although virtually nobody is using it anymore. A few straggler refugees maybe, but they were not even allowed on the peninsula by ISIS. There was no ISIS coming or going on this road because it goes nowhere that ISIS controls anymore.

The obvious target (to me) is the Tabqa Air Base: another ISIS mystery that defies all logic. Since ISIS has no air force, they have no reason to keep the air base (a huge potential threat) intact. ISIS seems to have access to truckloads and truckloads of explosives, so cratering the runways to make them unusable shouldn't be a problem. Easy, as a matter of fact. Instead, aerial photos show some sand berms bulldozed across the runways and some vehicles and junk scattered about. Great for making the runway and taxiways TEMPORARILY unusable, but that would hardly have been the defensive intent of ISIS.

Then last month, some obviously (and very poorly) altered aerial photos of Tabqa Air Base come out on social media suggesting that all the hardened aircraft shelters were destroyed and the runway and taxiways thoroughly cratered. Who would want anyone to think the air base was rendered unusable if it really wasn't? CENTCOM and CJTF-OIR said nothing, but social media 'experts' determined the coalition had bombed it. I would think this was some kind of PSYOP to trick ISIS, but ISIS has apparently been 'preserving' the base for future use rather than destroying it.

Locals on social media claimed nothing had happened there bombing-wise, and ISIS wasn't even at the air base anymore. They looted it and abandon it a long time ago. So I guess we're going to hear any time now how this heroic SDF 'air assault' force battles their way in to seize the (abandoned) air base, pushes the sand piles off the runways/taxiways and is good to go for the U.S. occupation logistics hub 'to fight ISIS' even though ISIS preserved said base for them and allowed them to take it without opposition.

Anyone think that is all rather odd besides me?

And what about U.S. choppers and JSOC-types evacuating 'foreign-sounding' ISIS leaders from south of Raqqa at the former Syrian 'nuclear reactor' site?

The SAA, Hezbollah and Russians seem to struggle with ISIS in Palmyra and Deir EzZor, yet the U.S. and SDF are air lifting and boating in troops/armor to land a few miles from the ISIS capital of Raqqa? And ISIS has conveniently preserved Tabqa Air Base for the Americans an left it unguarded even though it's five miles outside of town?

Something tells me the Tabqa Dam will not be blown up by ISIS. Instead, it may very well be taken after a few hours of light fighting, defended by a token force of untrained ISIS recruits. Because that's how the vicious ISIS would defend a sructure that houses their military headquarters, ammo dump and high-value prisoners.

And well before the US starts bombing Raqqa, the ISIS leaders and their families will be lifting off in USAF transport aircraft from Tabqa Air Base back to their homes in Riyadh (if they're not back there already).

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 23, 2017 8:07:39 PM | 31

@25 "It's not about 'trust', but dependency. The Kurds need US protection if they want autonomy, see my post 5."

That depends which Kurds you are talking about. There are several Kurdish factions that don't trust each other.

Syrian Kurds can get autonomy within Syria by making a deal with the Syrian government. The US is trying to replace the Syrian government with some kind of jihadi mish mash.

Posted by: dh | Mar 23, 2017 8:08:46 PM | 32

smuks@25

"The Kurds need US protection if they want autonomy"

I have little to back this up, but I am wondering if this is really true. After all, the Kurds would be savvy to US of A's sorry record in protecting minorities in its own country. Russia has a far better one. And I am remembering that (admittedly some time ago) I did hear a Syrian Kurdish leader proclaim the Kurds' willingness to be a part of Assad's Syria - I would imagine in a similar fashion to what has happened with Chechnya within Russia. And I did also hear, I think on this blog, that Syrian Kurds are a different tribe from the Iraqi Kurds that were aligned with the US in Iraq (don't know if they still are, sorry.)

Thanks again, b. You give explanations that even I can understand. Very much appreciated.

Posted by: juliania | Mar 23, 2017 8:09:41 PM | 33

Even Stratfor inadvertently buys into the crazy by pointing out the obvious:

Syria: U.S.-Backed Forces Capture Key Position Near Raqqa

"...The landing cuts off Highway 4 at a significant distance from Raqqa, blocking the advance of Syrian loyalist forces that could interfere with the campaign. Loyalists had, in fact, been racing toward the city over the past few weeks, reaching the Euphrates northwest of the reservoir. Instead of allowing them to reach Tabqa, the town nearest the dam, which would enable them to block the Islamic State themselves, U.S. support helped ensure the SDF would capture these critical objectives.

The SDF's blocking position, coupled with a major rebel offensive in Hama that forced a shift in loyalist reinforcements, effectively ended the Syrian government's hopes of reaching the Raqqa battlefield..."

How dare those damn Syrians try to take back their own land! There should be a UN resolution condemning their aggression followed by more international sanctions. Those audacious Syrians think they can just go anywhere they want in Syria with impunity, almost like they are purposely interfering with important coalition operations.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 23, 2017 8:17:28 PM | 34

B, why do you say "the Kurdish anarcho-marxists of the PKK/YPK" ? I have been following them since Kobane and this interpretation baffles me.
Of course if you search the publications of Apo, it won't be a paradise for bankers 😄 But "anarcho" seems a bit far fetched.

As for Raqqa, the Kurds won't certainly keep it, the area is completely Arab. Source for trouble, or in the best case it will dilute them. But what a wonderful opportunity to swap later some land for a greater autonomy. They will never forget that they were forced to change even the name of their cities to arab names under penalty of losing all subsidies (their own taxes !) Should we also mention the forced displacements of population under Assas Sr.? The compulsory schools in Arabic, the only official language ?
I don't think it will be again like it was before - if we (US) don't drop them like a pair of old socks. I am not ready to bet.

Posted by: DemiJohn | Mar 23, 2017 8:32:34 PM | 35

thanks b.. excellent overview...

thanks to the many posters who contribute here as well.

Posted by: james | Mar 23, 2017 8:33:27 PM | 36

@30 PWIV Sadly, your tin foil hat seems to be of pretty good quality..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 23, 2017 8:37:01 PM | 37

@karlof1 29
Quite probably, yes. Just I like to consider all possible alternatives, and this one crossed my mind.

@dh 31, juliania 32
An autonomy granted by Damascus wouldn't be worth much - it would last just as long as it takes the central government to regain enough strength. If you want to be sure about your autonomy status, you need a major outside force backing you, see Abkhasia etc.
I'm sure there is no one unified Kurdish position on this, but it's an accomplished fact now since US troops are there to stay. They are allied now, for better or worse, for as long as they host US bases which guarantee that Damascus won't make any attempts to regain control. This will cause relations with the central govt to deteriorate, making them fully dependent on the US.

@DemiJohn 34
Swap land - with whom? Their US backers want as much as possible of Syria. 'Forced displacements, arabic names and schools' - this is what all multi-ethnic states do to some extent to weaken the risk of separatist uprisings. Look at 16th-18th century France, the Chinese Empire...

Posted by: smuks | Mar 23, 2017 9:06:25 PM | 38

34

A couple of demographics maps
Syria 1935
Syria 1976

Posted by: Peter AU | Mar 23, 2017 9:14:20 PM | 39

@37 You make some good points smuks. I'm not sure how independent Rojava wants to be or if they want to be a US/Israeli protectorate but time will tell.

Posted by: dh | Mar 23, 2017 9:16:27 PM | 40

Kurds in Turkey have taken a hammering over the last year or so. Few towns leveled ect. How many, if any, would have joined the SDF and US to find some new land in Syria?

Posted by: Peter AU | Mar 23, 2017 9:38:31 PM | 41

Trump scorecard
Scoring points here and there

http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2017/03/22/american-civil-war-is-good-for-world-peace/

"Trump has in fact prioritized the fight against terrorism. He is doing this quietly… The CIA has completely turned off the arms spigot to rebels in Syria and the US is bombing Al Qaeda and its allied groups now – something that Obama avoided (and tried to stop Russia/Syria/Iran from doing.) Equally, Trump is bombing the Al-Qaeda in Yemen too. And in Iraq, Trump is standing by while the Iran-trained Hashd ash-Shabi is annihilating ISIS in western Mosul and cutting off their route to Syria. Obama, on the contrary, had refused to let the Hashd fight in many of these battles. Trump now has not only given the go-ahead, but we have now seen the Iraqi Air Force participate in anti-ISIS bombing raids into Syria. Simply put, if the Obama administration’s policies only had led to the rise of the ISIS and Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, Trump is actually fighting them and, importantly, he is allowing US’ regional foes – Iran and Iran-supported militia groups, in particular – to fight them unimpeded."

Posted by: ThatDamnGood | Mar 23, 2017 10:33:41 PM | 42

@30
It's Kabuki theatre for sure in Syria.
The Rand map* https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-YmuprHyvH7g/WLLvEa7INEI/AAAAAAAADsA/bPZVj2nTrOAvxHqZypnidx29N2ZQWQRDACLcB/s640/Screen%2BShot%2B2017-02-26%2Bat%2B9.05.48%2BAM.png with its International Administration zone,
Rex Tillerson https://www.stripes.com/news/us/tillerson-calls-for-allies-aid-once-islamic-state-leaves-syria-iraq-1.459951
The narrative is close to Rand UN/occupation grab of Syria.

Pondering.....All those auto 23mm and ammo left in shipping containers at the Russian compound at Palmyra,
Tanks and other equipment left intact as Palmyra tumbled in hours.
4 months to recover. ...still fighting nearby,...epic Intelligence FUBAR,...or did we just witness
Putin darkside? .
Syria has Israel fire missiles into T4 Airbase where 100+ Russians are posted, ....Diplomat gets called in
That's all folks.
Jihadi breakout in multi direction Idlib, HAMA,Daraa and Damascus. ...perfect timing,...as US Waltzes
Into Syria.
Iran can fight Sunni Takfiri,...but if Israhell wants to end Hezbollah and IRGC,...Putin will hold the door open.

Putin's demonstrated some tech which will be foreign export,....test more new weapons systems on military duty cycle.
I'm not sure Assad gets anything now....not even go out on the balcony... with drones overhead.
Syria is truly ...The Shitty war,....it reeks of Vietnam.

Posted by: Brad | Mar 23, 2017 10:50:40 PM | 43

@19 smuks, @30 pwiv

i think you two have summed it up pretty well. a quick change and - voila - sunnis to run sunnistan in eastern syria. the gcc want a return on their bucks. the us will have to dust off their 'we're so sorry' speech to the kurds.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 23, 2017 10:57:04 PM | 44

In my post @40 I was wondering where the US are getting their numbers to go into Raqqa.
I see this sentence at the bottom of a south front article.. "The United States continues to transport military equipment and Kurdish fighters from its bases in Iraq to SDF areas in Syria."
https://southfront.org/us-backed-forecs-developing-advance-east-of-raqqah/

As the Iraqi Kurds are not allowed to participate in the taking of Sunni Mosul, they are now free to participate in taking Sunni Raqqa....?

Posted by: Peter AU | Mar 23, 2017 11:20:22 PM | 45

Erdogan started shifting his focus to Iraq last month, in my view. His meeting with Barzani must have been around some agreement to push against the Iraqi government and push against other regional Kurdish groups - typical divide and conquer Erdogan strategy - announced openly to the world by flying the Iraqi State flag and Iraqi Kurdistan flags together at ataturk airpotort - this was as clear a sign of territorial claim by Erdogan as a dog pissing up against a tree. And what happened next? On Barzanis return to Iraq events started falling into place.
Not sure what will come from it, or what Erdogans longer term goal is here, but without doubt he will be keeping control of oil transit and purchase co tratcs, he will use Barzani to weaken any possible regional Kurdish unity, and he will call upon Barzani and his long-standing Sunni supporters in Iraq to try to keep Shia influence in Iraq at bay (Mosul was one of the keys to Turkish - Sunni influence in Iraq - think back to the days when Mosul fell to ISIS for proof of this - so not sure how strong a hand he has now in this respect given that Erdogan has been kept out of the Mosul offensive.)
Watch for strong stance made by Erdogan after the referendum. He will want to mark his moment in history!

Posted by: AtaBrit | Mar 24, 2017 1:11:30 AM | 46

You forget in your discussion that Russia and the Syrian government are in Rojava, too.

Kurds let in "regime forces" plus Russia to regions that were attacked by Turkey.

"While the United States would never want to cooperate directly with the regime, any help it can get on Raqqa would clearly not be unwelcome. And as recent developments in Manbij have shown, with Russia pulling the strings, the SDF and the regime are capable of working together when need be. It may not be all that bad an outcome for Turkey, either, for the alternative, a deeper US footprint in alliance with the Kurds, is viewed by Ankara as the biggest threat of all.

If I understand Erdogan correctly he is threatening to leave NATO. They might let him.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 24, 2017 1:39:44 AM | 47

I think that
a) the Kurds cannot hold Raqqa and will not be able to focus on doing so as it is not their 'turf'. They are essentially a militia, not a well organized army and they will lose their cohesion of the leave the Kurdish region. Even with lots of maintenance, they will want to go home. The U.S. had problems like this in Iraq and Afghanistan. They really don't get true multiculturalism.
b) The Kurds used by the U.S. in Syria as a proxy force do not represent all of the Kurds in Syria but rather a stratum of Kurds who are rather recent immigrants to Syria from Turkey, and they certainly do not represent Assyrian, Yezidi, Chaldean, Armenian, Arab peoples of multi-ethnic northern Syria.
c) English is the required language in the schools in the United States. It is not oppression here or there. It is not oppression until they forbid secondary studies in Kurdish and close the Kurdish language tv and radio stations as the Turks have done but not the Syrians. The people of a country have to have a common language. Kurdish is, at present, a very limited language with regard to literature and science and textbooks of every kind. The result of making Kurdish the only language in the schools and getting rid of Arabic is that the students will then learn English instead if they want to continue their studies past grammar school. But this will result in a greater divide between people who succeed in the system and those who are shut out because no one in the region speaks English unless they can afford to go to a special school.
d) Masoud Barzani's ambitions have undermined much of the progress that Northern Iraq made under the joint governance of the Barzani clan and the Talibanis. The much touted 'Change' party broke apart the system even before Talibani became unable to lead. Talibani's partner was lured by western perks and his followers were feted and given 'democracy' tours throughout the EU. But they weren't prepared for the kind of political battle the Barzani's were ready to wage. And they weren't ready to govern in a truly different way. The groundwork for Democracy was incomplete and they were not prepared to bridge what they saw in Europe to their own social context. Without his old foe Jalal Talibani to keep the balance of power, Masoud Barzani made bad decisions that endanger the welfare of the people of Northern Iraq and put them at risk of once again being scapegoated for a war not of their making.
The Peshmerga are no longer 'peshmerga'. They have lost their cause and begun to emulate their attackers.
e) It is true that a United Kurdistan is now unlikely. However, the fates of the Syrian and Iraqi Kurds is not so terrible. When I was there a few years ago, the members of the new middle class that I met, and especially the young people, considered themselves Iraqis. I have been told by a number of Kurds in Syria that they consider themselves Syrian. The President of the University of Damascus is a Kurd. The YPG and the YPK are still fighting the war that drove them out of Turkey. It is a war against Turkey and if the US had not interfered, they would still be allied with the Syrian government in this war and defending the land where they actually live. Bribes are short term solutions and the US has controlled its proxies with bribes for a long time. But doesn't and can't pay up.
f) Meanwhile, this war destabilized Erdogan to the extent that he is now, once again, at war with the Kurds in Turkey, who seemed to be finally integrating with the political system there. This is very sad.

Posted by: Judith | Mar 24, 2017 2:52:15 AM | 48

I just read the Southfront report linked above. Here's the quote that interested me:

"The United States continues to transport military equipment and Kurdish fighters from its bases in Iraq to SDF areas in Syria."

I was thinking they were transporting Syrian YPG Kurds into the area. Iraqi Kurds in this context would be nothing more than mercenaries. This plan has no substance at all. This is a show fight and if they really take and hold Raqqa or even Deir Ezzor it will be with the support of ISIS fighters in new uniforms. There is no other way they could do it. Of course they will target and kill the leaders so that, for a short time, they may control their forces.

But this is a very short sighted plan. It will merely extend the suffering of the Syrian people with no lasting impact on the end game. If this is the plan, the Syria government will prevail sooner or later. But what a cost to them from the greed and stupidity of our leaders!

Posted by: Judith | Mar 24, 2017 3:14:48 AM | 49

Peter AU
Thanks for those maps
it shows that the Sunnites were certainly not a majority in 1936. Their area are those were the Beduin nomads whose territories stretched above borders were those Sunnites (and the Kurds were/are not all Sunnites). It changed with the influx of the Turkish bourgeoisie into Syrian urban elites progressively.

Posted by: Mina | Mar 24, 2017 5:16:52 AM | 50

sorry the sentence should be read: Their area is where the Beduin nomads, whose territories stretched above borders, lived, i.e. desert. They were those Sunnites on your map.

Maybe coffee would help.

Posted by: Mina | Mar 24, 2017 5:18:28 AM | 51

And the pressure on Turkey continues ...

Germany has banned the sale of the Rheinmetall's Defense System which will apparently affect its use of the Leopard tanks that it uses against Kurds.
Having said that, earlier this year Turkey started a tender process to upgrade its tanks, but of course that won't happen any time soon.


https://www.defence.pk/pdf/threads/german-govt-blocks-export-of-rheinmetalls-active-defense-system-ads-to-turkey.485199/

This week, Erdogan said in an interview that once he had won the referendum he would be making a very important policy statement regarding Europe. Will it at long last announce that it has no intention of joining the Union? Difficult to imagine anything stronger than that because Turkey is so heavily dependent on Germany and Europe. It might relate to the immigration agreement, but thats become a lame duck in my view, unless he is prepared to transport people from camps in the south.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Mar 24, 2017 5:25:28 AM | 52

PIV, you mean returned to "Riyad and Doha".
http://www.yenisafak.com/en/news/turkey-qatar-vow-to-educate-syrias-next-generation-2624587

Posted by: Mina | Mar 24, 2017 5:28:31 AM | 53

@somebody | 47

"Erdogan ... is threatening to leave NATO"
It is very tempting to believe this, but Turkey is far more valuable to Russia in NATO, is it not? Is Erdogan past caring what Russia thinks?

Russia's presence in Afrin is not going down well im Turkey, but it has been no secret that Russia supports the Kurds - HDP (PKK political wing) and PYD both have rep. offices in Moscow - maybe even the same office :-)

Is this why Erdogan left Moscow so peeved a couple of weeks ago?

Posted by: AtaBrit | Mar 24, 2017 5:37:55 AM | 54

@Judith | 48

"Turkey is once again, at war with the Kurds in Turkey, who seemed to be finally integrating with the political system there. This is very sad."

The hope that HDP brought with it was palpable. Not just among the Kurdish population but among young progressive Turks also. That Erdogans personal ambitions required trampling HDP and its supporters and then engagimg in such atrocities as we have seen in southern cities while the Country lives under a state of emergency is as you say very sad.
But, in the longer term it is not possible for Erdogan to continue this way. Sooner or later agreements between Kurdish and Syrian, and Kurdish and Iraqi governments will form (it is clear I think that Russia and the US want to see this) and these, I hope, will then empower the Turkish Kurds to demand the same, if not more. Having fought so hard in Syria and Iraq, Turkish Kurds will not give up on Turkey simply because Erdogan wants them to.

Just a quick.poimt about the Kurds and the language issur. Fully agrer with what you write. A very inteestjng phenomenon of the region is however that so many local residents are bi- if not trilingual! Its fascinating to hear them move so easily from Kurdish to Arabic to Persian or Turkish. Very interestimg.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Mar 24, 2017 6:00:55 AM | 55

My opinion is, as with the campaign over east Aleppo, the assaults made by jihadi groups in central and southwest Syria against SAA positions is mainly to relieve some of the pressure on their jihadi brothers in east Syria. When one is poised to suffer heavy losses on the battlefield, the other steps up to attract the attention of the SAA. I don't consider ISIS as this one big organization, with an actual hierarchy, running operations independent of what is happening elsewhere.

Like with Palmyra, no one expects that the jihadists will ever hold any newly gained territory for too long. Their goal and purpose is to keep the SAA preoccupied and overstretched, long enough for the US and its allies to achieve a solid foothold in central Syria and dismember the "shia crescent" from Iran to south Lebanon. Raqqa is the perfect base of operations for such a US "peacekeeping" taskforce. The US will never allow the complete eradication of "ISIS" in Syria, but merely pacify it, so as to further perpetuate US endless war on terror aka independent sovereign states and actors.

Posted by: never mind | Mar 24, 2017 6:16:44 AM | 56

Posted by: AtaBrit | Mar 24, 2017 5:37:55 AM | 54

I think Turkey is more dependent on Russia and Iran - energy wise.

Erdogan seems to have pissed on everybody now including Russia except Iran.

"Erdogan, for his part, said that Tehran-Ankara cooperation was essential to the settlement of regional woes and anti-terror fight. He also said that Turkey embraced the promotion of ties with Iran."

Latest quote that was reported re:Erdogan was that he would keep calling Europe fascist as long as Europe called him dictator. Erdogan is no fool he knows delegitimizing his rule is first for regime change. It is still not clear who was behind the coup but he cleansed the Turkish army from all western/NATO oriented officers.

I suspect the strategy to have a Saudi/Turkish/Israeli axis against Iran has to do without Turkey.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 24, 2017 8:37:29 AM | 57

#43

Russia's interests in Syria is to stop/delay both the Qatari and the Iranian pipeline. If Putin is looking out for Russia's interests, that isn't his dark side, that is his smarts.

Posted by: ThatDamnGood | Mar 24, 2017 9:14:52 AM | 58

Russian media attacks Assad for failing to defend Damascus:

http://syrianobserver.com/EN/Features/32518

Posted by: Louis Proyect | Mar 24, 2017 9:18:03 AM | 59

@49 "I was thinking they were transporting Syrian YPG Kurds into the area. Iraqi Kurds in this context would be nothing more than mercenaries."

It looks like Trump is serious about fighting ISIS but without taking US casualties. So the US is hiring help wherever they can get it and providing air/artillery support.

There may well be an autonomous entity in Rojava at some point but my sense is that Kurds aren't motivated to take Raqqah and they won't be welcome if they do.

Posted by: dh | Mar 24, 2017 9:30:41 AM | 60

@somebody | 57

You are absolutely right on the energy issue, and neither Iran nor Russia are budging much on the discounts that Turkey keeps requesting.
Iran and Turkey have always had an interesting relationship. Rouhani and Gul once said in a press conference that we will be like France and Germany - implying both rivalry and necessary cooperation, I guess. But Iran's presence in Syria and the Shia influence in Iraq can not sit easily with Erdogan or his bankers, the Saudis. If Erdogan has come to accept, reluctantly, the reality in Syria, there is still some way to go in Iraq where there is already talk of secrarian/ regional violence once ISIS has been defeated.
And the coup - man, some idiot AKP leader was suggesting that when the death penalty by hanging is returnes after the referendum thwre wikl be immediately tens of thousands of candidates for the rope! A direct threat to kill all those supposedly involved in the supposed coup unbelievable.
I am till convinced that it was at least part theatre!! :-)

Posted by: AtaBrit | Mar 24, 2017 10:22:18 AM | 61

Here's another nugget of information folks here may want to throw into the simmering stew.

Looks like the Trump folks will honor the Iran Nuclear deal after all - http://theiranproject.com/blog/2017/03/22/us-will-honor-iran-nuclear-deal-trumps-advisor/

And don't forget PM Al Abadi met with Trump for a bi-lateral meeting last week at the WH - https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/03/20/remarks-president-trump-bilateral-meeting-prime-minister-al-abadi-iraq

For what my opinion is worth, the rhetoric coming from Tillerson, Trump and even Pence does not support the idea of a Kurdistan or holding any area of Syria, and yes, I realize taking any politico at their word is naive, but neither Trump nor Tillerson fits the definition of a professional career politician.

I do agree with whomever said it above about leaving behind a "U.S. Peacekeeping" force, however b/c I don't believe Trump and Team trust the UN or anyone else to maintain stability in the area. The generals he has surrounded himself with were active military during the Iraq invasion AND were none to pleased with the U.S. troop pullout under Obama. Thus, I fully concur with some footprint of the U.S. military remaining for some time and if PW's observations regarding the Taqba air base pan out, this may very well serve as a likely area and become U.S. military base 701.

And yes, there is a very big difference b/w establishing a territory and taking it over versus building a 'peacekeeping' force. My money is on the latter. The generals don't want to send kids back to this area again and again and again. The American public nor our allies citizenry will support anymore bloodshed for the sake of the batshit crazy neo's, zio's, sunni's, wahabbi's whatever extreme war, war, war wet dreams they conjure up to rule the world (at least for the next four years, I pray).

Great post and comments btw.

Posted by: h | Mar 24, 2017 11:00:09 AM | 62

@62 Lol a peacekeeping force? You got to be kidding me, if anything it is to control the oil ressources in eastern Syria. Whether they achieve this with Rojave or some independent Sunni Syraq satetlet is besides the point for the US. Have you forgotten Trump's prophetic "You've got to get the oil"? And nominating Tillerson, this is in no small part why the US is pushing the SDF to advance on Raqqa so fast, the other being to block the creation of a Shia Crescent. For that to happen the territory 'grabbing' of Syria only just begun as the entire Euphrates valley will need to come under US and US proxy control.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 24, 2017 11:16:51 AM | 63

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-dam-idUSKBN16V1QW
Syrian militia reaches Tabqa dam: SDF official
U.S.-backed local forces fighting Islamic State in Syria on Friday reached one side of the Tabqa dam, one of the top prizes in their campaign to drive the jihadist group from Raqqa city, local campaign officials said.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias supported by a U.S.-led international coalition, is fighting Islamic State at the entrance to the dam, Jihan Sheikh Ahmed, the SDF spokeswoman for the Raqqa campaign, said.
The dam, the biggest on the Euphrates, stretches 4km across the river to the southern bank and provides one of the few land crossings remaining after the destruction of many bridges during the conflict.

Posted by: okie farmer | Mar 24, 2017 11:18:58 AM | 64

Pepe Escobar's been writing up a storm; his latest from today, https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201703241051928836-daesh-western-creature/

"In the end, Shea frankly admitted to the source that Gen David Petraeus, conductor of the much-lauded 2007 surge, had trained these Sunnis now part of Daesh in Anbar province in Iraq.

"Saudi intelligence still maintains that these Iraqi Sunnis were not US-trained – as Shea confirmed – because the Shiites in power in Baghdad didn’t allow it. Not true. The fact is the Daesh core – most of them former commanders and soldiers in Saddam Hussein’s army — is indeed a US-trained militia."

Now I doubt very much more than previously that Dr. Frankenstein will destroy his creation, which explains the sudden surge to wall off Raqqa from all other regional forces and capture Taqba airbase.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 24, 2017 11:21:17 AM | 65

@ Louis Proyect 59


I have searched RT and the alleged Russian Newspaper where said article is allegedly printed and
have failed to find it or anything resembling it. RT doesnt have anything like it either.

"a beau mentir qui vient de loin"

It is really doubtful that the Russian High Command would make such an assertion publicly.
If they think so, they would certainly say it directly to Assad, not via newspapers.

Belittling an ally publicly is certinly not Russia's MO.

Posted by: CarlD | Mar 24, 2017 11:21:25 AM | 66

The Kurds don't have the numbers to take a stalingrad-esque Raqqa, members of the YPG have stated publically that thereare only a few thousand of them, and we know how few Assyrians and Arabs are part of the force. It will take a never ending aerial campaign and SAA support to mobilize the number of men needed to actually control the city. For now it's just helping the Syrian and Iraqi governments by containing ISIS fighters

Posted by: Cresty | Mar 24, 2017 11:23:56 AM | 67

@ Posted by: Judith | Mar 24, 2017 2:52:15 AM | 48 & 49

Thank you kindly for the insights. Had a post runup that paralleled key points, but dumped that, feeble in comparison.

Mercenaries indeed.

Kurdish Iraqi mercenaries injected into Syria. Reminds me of late Rome being ever more dependent upon various tribes of 'Barbarians' to do the fighting and dying, not because there were few Romans available to do the fighting, they simply weren't prepared to sacrifice to do so (oversimplification ?). Were traded 'land' & limited privileges for service as 'cannon fodder' and were were regularly betrayed ... the Peshmerga will be betrayed too, IMHO, just as we betrayed the Iraqi Shia in southern Iraq during the ceasefire post the First Gulf War '90-91 ... we incited & misled them & then stood by as Saddam's Republican Guard slaughtered & butchered for six weeks ... cannot see this ending well ...

Which leads to Paveway IVs dark sarcastic humor which only crystallizes the many truths within ...

Having reviewed various veterans & associated forums, the old warhorses are pumped with testosterone, hearing 'Ride of the Valkyries' trumpeting in their heads or hollywood cavalry bugles sounding 'Charge!' ?, perhaps, thrilled at the decisive valiant efforts of our Elite proxies, our mercenaries, the SDF, Kurds, the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga ...

Lots of staged photos of these valiant mercs, etc, by Centcom Psyops staff. Press releases and briefing by spokesmen re the great and wonderful deeds ... yet no mention or acknowledgement of a country called Syria. No mention of the Government of the Syrian people, nor of their national defense force, the SAA. It is as if these 'Elite'(?) military acchievements against the demonic ISIS occurs in unpopulated 'Indian' country in some mythical empty wild west.

It would seem these over-hyped valiant deeds have occurred against an enemy(?), ISIS, which wasn't there, and didn't actually or even seriously fight, just as a strain of the 'moderate-headchoppers' (Turkish brand) melted away before the Turks advances previously ... up to the point they met another, strain/brand of proxies ... other than REAL ever so convenient multiple simultaneous co-ordinated attacks against SAA !

Which is distressing and nauseating all at once. For the US forces supporting this are at little risk, and realistically, a very minor expeditionary support force, only. So, even with $1Trillion USD in Defense budgets comprising US, NATO & Allies, we seize upon and trumpet these mythical Psyop deeds as if they were our own ?

With ~1.3 million active service under arms (US Only) along with its vast military materiel, our mighty Empire is so weak re it's concealed geopolitical goals, it is incapable of fielding it's own troops at risk of casualties, nor uniformed troops of our Allies/Vassals, nor even 'Private contractors' now, not even supposed 'moderate' Syrian Rebels against the faux fabricated foe ISIS. No, our mighty Empire injects Kurdish mercenaries from Iraq into Syria, with cash now & false promises re the future, which will inevitably, as they always have been, betrayed. Yet the conditioning & indoctrination is so strong, we cheer ?!

The Iraqi's and the Syrians, as well as their governments will not see it that way, and what of the Syrian Kurds themselves, who appear to have at least partially re-aligned with the Syrian government/RU, etc ?

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, subsequent re branded 'moderate head-choppers' and/or AQ/ISIS as SDF, nor ANY US ground forces will be tolerated in Syria without consequences, any BS faux 'peacekeeping'/'refugee zones' claims or not ... there is no 'Sea', for these 'fish', to swim in.

Late stage Empire decline comes to mind ... Trump/Mattis/Tillersons '30 day' decisive plan heh ? ... No, the Empires Hubris will not countenance a simple withdrawal and shutdown of US/CIA/GCC/Allies machinations, there must be a jingoist 'Win' ... distressing, nauseating & highly probably tragically futile, in the end. And for what ?

Peace. Salaam. Shalom.

Posted by: Outraged | Mar 24, 2017 11:25:51 AM | 68

@ Posted by: Judith | Mar 24, 2017 2:52:15 AM | 48 & 49

Thank you kindly for the insights. Had a post runup that paralleled key points, but dumped that, feeble in comparison.

Mercenaries indeed.

Kurdish Iraqi mercenaries injected into Syria. Reminds me of late Rome being ever more dependent upon various tribes of 'Barbarians' to do the fighting and dying, not because there were few Romans available to do the fighting, they simply weren't prepared to sacrifice to do so (oversimplification ?). Were traded 'land' & limited privileges for service as 'cannon fodder' and were were regularly betrayed ... the Peshmerga will be betrayed too, IMHO, just as we betrayed the Iraqi Shia in southern Iraq during the ceasefire post the First Gulf War '90-91 ... we incited & misled them & then stood by as Saddam's Republican Guard slaughtered & butchered for six weeks ... cannot see this ending well ...

Which leads to Paveway IVs dark sarcastic humor which only crystallizes the many truths within ...

Having reviewed various veterans & associated forums, the old warhorses are pumped with testosterone, hearing 'Ride of the Valkyries' trumpeting in their heads or hollywood cavalry bugles sounding 'Charge!' ?, perhaps, thrilled at the decisive valiant efforts of our Elite proxies, our mercenaries, the SDF, Kurds, the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga ...

Lots of staged photos of these valiant mercs, etc, by Centcom Psyops staff. Press releases and briefing by spokesmen re the great and wonderful deeds ... yet no mention or acknowledgement of a country called Syria. No mention of the Government of the Syrian people, nor of their national defense force, the SAA. It is as if these 'Elite'(?) military acchievements against the demonic ISIS occurs in unpopulated 'Indian' country in some mythical empty wild west.

It would seem these over-hyped valiant deeds have occurred against an enemy(?), ISIS, which wasn't there, and didn't actually or even seriously fight, just as a strain of the 'moderate-headchoppers' (Turkish brand) melted away before the Turks advances previously ... up to the point they met another, strain/brand of proxies ... other than REAL ever so convenient multiple simultaneous co-ordinated attacks against SAA !

Which is distressing and nauseating all at once. For the US forces supporting this are at little risk, and realistically, a very minor expeditionary support force, only. So, even with $1Trillion USD in Defense budgets comprising US, NATO & Allies, we seize upon and trumpet these mythical Psyop deeds as if they were our own ?

With ~1.3 million active service under arms (US Only) along with its vast military materiel, our mighty Empire is so weak re it's concealed geopolitical goals, it is incapable of fielding it's own troops at risk of casualties, nor uniformed troops of our Allies/Vassals, nor even 'Private contractors' now, not even supposed 'moderate' Syrian Rebels against the faux fabricated foe ISIS. No, our mighty Empire injects Kurdish mercenaries from Iraq into Syria, with cash now & false promises re the future, which will inevitably, as they always have been, betrayed. Yet the conditioning & indoctrination is so strong, we cheer ?!

The Iraqi's and the Syrians, as well as their governments will not see it that way, and what of the Syrian Kurds themselves, who appear to have at least partially re-aligned with the Syrian government/RU, etc ?

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, subsequent re branded 'moderate head-choppers' and/or AQ/ISIS as SDF, nor ANY US ground forces will be tolerated in Syria without consequences, any BS faux 'peacekeeping'/'refugee zones' claims or not ... there is no 'Sea', for these 'fish', to swim in.

Late stage Empire decline comes to mind ... Trump/Mattis/Tillersons '30 day' decisive plan heh ? ... No, the Empires Hubris will not countenance a simple withdrawal and shutdown of US/CIA/GCC/Allies machinations, there must be a jingoist 'Win' ... distressing, nauseating & highly probably tragically futile, in the end. And for what ?

Peace. Salaam. Shalom.

Posted by: Outraged | Mar 24, 2017 11:25:51 AM | 69

@ Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 24, 2017 11:21:17 AM | 65

It was the 'Anbar awakening' circa 2006, which transformed into the 'Sunni Awakening', etc, which ultimately morphed into ISIS, and that soulless rat bastard Petraeus was in it up to his eyeballs, first Centcom, then CIA, as always.

The actual english report re your earlier post re swarming drones by Houthi in Yemen against the KSA:

Iranian technology transfers to Yemen - Conflict Armament Research (CAR) - (PDF)

The Qasef-1 UAV. First, the Qasef-1 appears to be a type within the Ababil-II family of UAVs, produced by Iran's Aircraft Manufacturing Industrial Company...

Shows photographic details of the actual drones ... largely 'made in china' commercial off-the-shelf components.

Following shows a clear photo of the drone in question including Yemen/Houthi leadership viewing, being briefed, from a 'Janes' briefing note:

Yemeni rebels display UAVs

...The Qasef 1 has the same configuration as the Ababil 2, with a pusher propeller, high-mounted canards at the front, and larger wings at the rear, each fitted with a vertical stabilisation fin with a rudder. Versions of the Ababil 2 with a single tail fin have also been seen.

The Qasef 1 is presumably launched using a catapult and recovered with a parachute like the Ababil 2.

According to a poster displayed next to the Qasef 1, it has a wingspan of 250 cm, a length of 300 cm, an endurance of 120 minutes, and a range of 150 km. Iran's defence export catalogue does not provide dimensions for the Ababil 2 but says it has an operational radius of 100 km and an endurance of 75-120 minutes.

Although the poster stated that the Qasef-1 is used to carry out reconnaissance and surveillance missions, it also indicated that it could be used as a loitering munition when revealing it can carry a payload or warhead weighing up to 30 kg. A loitering munition variant of the Ababil 2 has been identified as the Ababil T...

Further to naval vessels defensive armaments/weaponry, such as missiles or even CIWS, what many overlook re warships, is a distinct finite quantity of ammunition/reloads, and the issue of sufficient quantities ready to use/fire, even then.

Posted by: Outraged | Mar 24, 2017 11:47:18 AM | 70

h @62 said:"Looks like the Trump folks will honor the Iran Nuclear deal after all."

Hope that's right. I'm not much of a Trump fan, but If that's true, I'll take it as a positive move.

Better relations with Iran is critical for any hope of peace in the region. Mr. Trump needs to change the U$A's policy with regards to the Palestinian issue. Not holding my breath on that issue.

Posted by: ben | Mar 24, 2017 12:01:00 PM | 71

@63 Trump says a lot of stupid things. So now he wants to take over the Euphrates Valley with 500 marines and a bunch of mercenaries? But Trump thinks big. He'll fix up Tabqa airbase and turn it into another Camp Bondsteel never mind Syria's little bit of oil won't pay for the milkshakes.

Posted by: dh | Mar 24, 2017 12:08:27 PM | 72

@63 Alex - my point, which I apparently did not make clear, is this - observers of the U.S. military activity in and around Raqqa are suggesting the creation of a 'Kurdistan' or as you suggest a 'statelet' or in other words, an occupied region versus a U.S. military base with U.S. forces stationed in the region for the long term. My point is there are huge differences in policy, budget, personnel etc concerning both observations. My money is on a base NOT on occupation.

I intentionally chose not to weigh in on what the mission may or may not be b/c I don't know what it may or may not be. We can surmise, connect what we believe to be meaningful dots and observe, but none of us know for certain what the long-term mission of the US military remaining in that region may or may not be, that is if they remain. Maybe you do know but I surely don't. Let me assure you, no one in officialdom has bothered to pick up the phone to chat with me about said long-term strategy.

Again, my money is on a base NOT on occupation. We'll learn soon enough what direction all of this is heading.

Posted by: h | Mar 24, 2017 12:08:42 PM | 73

Posted by: dh | Mar 24, 2017 9:30:41 AM | 60

It is not so much the "take" but the "keep" Raqqa. In all likelihood SDF will help take Raqqa but let Assad' forces run it.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 24, 2017 12:16:43 PM | 74

Mina@53 - Absolutely right about Qatar, simply left off from rant-fatigue.

Judith@48 & 49 - Sad part for the Kurds is that the Green Berets training them are sincere and generally good guys. The Kurds will start to think of them as representative of America's political will. The Kurds will be stabbed in the back and abandoned by U.S. leaders later on when convenient. I hope the Kurds have heard of the Montagnards of Viet Nam and Hmong of Laos. The handful that were not left there at the end of the war to be slaughtered now live in drug and gang-infested refugee slums in the U.S. That's how we treat our 'most reliable allies' - ask any old-timer Green Beret that hasn't drank himself to death about it yet. I somehow picture a future in which Kurd refugees show up - suitcase in hand - at their future slum home in the U.S. and are greeted by a Montagnard or Hmong with the utterance, "You too?"

Outraged@68 - Well said.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 24, 2017 12:17:35 PM | 75

Yes ben @70. I too hope this is a positive sign. I found Zarif's comment at the end of the article feisty and resolute -

"Meanwhile, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has warned that Tehran is ready to restore its nuclear activities to the level it was before the 2015 deal should Washington fail to keep its end of the nuclear bargain."

"Iran “is fully prepared to return to the pre-JCPOA situation or even [to conditions] more robust than that if the US reneges on its promises to the extent that the JCPOA’s continuation harms our national interests,” Zarif stated on Monday."

Posted by: h | Mar 24, 2017 12:17:42 PM | 76

Grover Furr calls out Louis Proyect for his BS

Posted by: ruralito | Mar 24, 2017 12:19:06 PM | 77

@63
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/381243-iran-mosul-iraq-us-trump/

Iran needs to get their @T together. ....no more "Roaring missiles mind @k".
Putin is doing what suits all the Jewish Oligarchs in his Russian Periphery,
Rumor is some % will go with End Rothschild Russian Central Bank.
It's a reminder that the Jooos are very much influencing Russia's direction.
No surprise Netanyahu Flys in to Moscow like he was a % owner in the Enterprise.
It's gotta suck to be Iran, Hezbollah and IRGC.
Your a paper bag. .....and there is trucks driving nearby constantly.
ISUS and every low life in Syria will swap uniforms,with Uncle Shlomo sending them
To drive over the paper bag.


Posted by: Brad | Mar 24, 2017 12:21:35 PM | 78

@73 "In all likelihood SDF will help take Raqqa but let Assad' forces run it."

What a novel idea! Let the Syrians run their own country! I can see the headlines now..."Trump Makes Deal With The Devil!!!"

Posted by: dh | Mar 24, 2017 12:25:11 PM | 79

@ Posted by: never mind | Mar 24, 2017 6:16:44 AM | 56

The US will never allow the complete eradication of "ISIS" in Syria, but merely pacify it, so as to further perpetuate US endless war on terror aka independent sovereign states and actors.

In fact, SecState Tillerson has effectively stated that explicitly to the Anti-Assad coalition:

Rex Tillerson says US will set up safe zones for refugees from Isis (Reuters via Guardian)
- Unclear where ‘interim zones of stability’ would be located
- US secretary of state gives few details of plan at 68-country coalition meeting

Rex Tillerson has said the United States would set up “interim zones of stability” to help refugees return home in the next phase of the fight against Islamic State and al-Qaida in Syria and Iraq.

The US secretary of state did not make clear where these zones were to be set up. He was addressing a meeting of 68 countries and organizations gathered in Washington to discuss accelerating the battle against Isis.

“The United States will increase our pressure on Isis and al-Qaida and will work to establish interim zones of stability, through ceasefires, to allow refugees to return home,” Tillerson told the gathering at the state department, where the former oil executive was hosting his first major diplomatic event...

More explicit, un-omitted, quotes:

Tillerson pledges long-term US military role in Iraq and Syria

The military power of the coalition will remain where this fraudulent caliphate has existed in order to set the conditions for a full recovery from the tyranny of ISIS,”... He gave no indication of when, if ever, US troops could be withdrawn from a war zone extending across Iraq and Syria, where there has been fighting of greater or lesser intensity throughout the 14 years since the US first invaded Iraq.

Tillerson also called for the establishment of “interim zones of stability” in Syria to which refugees from the US-instigated civil war that has raged throughout that country for the past six years could be forcibly returned. Areas will be deemed “safe” if they have been initially cleared of ISIS, an absurdly low standard given the deadly conflicts which continue to rage between different factions in the Syrian civil war.

He also stressed that these areas would come under the control of local governments installed by Washington, presumably drawn from the Kurds and Sunni Islamist opposition forces sponsored by the Pentagon and CIA as part of the US war for regime change against the Assad government in Damascus.

Trump’s secretary of state also demanded a greater commitment both militarily and financially from the 68 countries represented at the meeting. A State Department release prior to the meeting said a key goal would be to “accelerate international efforts to defeat ISIS.”

Tillerson emphasized that US troops would effectively be engaged in a permanent occupation of neighboring Iraq. Even after ISIS is defeated in Mosul, where hundreds of civilians have been killed by the US-backed offensive on the Iraq’s second-largest city, the US military would remain there, Tillerson insisted.

Local leaders and local governments will take on the process of restoring their communities in the wake of ISIS with our support,” he said. “The development of a rejuvenated civil society in these places will lead to a disenfranchisement of ISIS and the emergence of stability and peace where there was once chaos and suffering. But none of this will happen automatically. We all need to support this effort.”...


Posted by: Outraged | Mar 24, 2017 12:35:07 PM | 80

@ Posted by: never mind | Mar 24, 2017 6:16:44 AM | 56

The US will never allow the complete eradication of "ISIS" in Syria, but merely pacify it, so as to further perpetuate US endless war on terror aka independent sovereign states and actors.

In fact, SecState Tillerson has effectively stated that explicitly to the Anti-Assad coalition:

Rex Tillerson says US will set up safe zones for refugees from Isis (Reuters via Guardian)
- Unclear where ‘interim zones of stability’ would be located
- US secretary of state gives few details of plan at 68-country coalition meeting

Rex Tillerson has said the United States would set up “interim zones of stability” to help refugees return home in the next phase of the fight against Islamic State and al-Qaida in Syria and Iraq.

The US secretary of state did not make clear where these zones were to be set up. He was addressing a meeting of 68 countries and organizations gathered in Washington to discuss accelerating the battle against Isis.

“The United States will increase our pressure on Isis and al-Qaida and will work to establish interim zones of stability, through ceasefires, to allow refugees to return home,” Tillerson told the gathering at the state department, where the former oil executive was hosting his first major diplomatic event...

More explicit, un-omitted, quotes:

Tillerson pledges long-term US military role in Iraq and Syria

The military power of the coalition will remain where this fraudulent caliphate has existed in order to set the conditions for a full recovery from the tyranny of ISIS,”... He gave no indication of when, if ever, US troops could be withdrawn from a war zone extending across Iraq and Syria, where there has been fighting of greater or lesser intensity throughout the 14 years since the US first invaded Iraq.

Tillerson also called for the establishment of “interim zones of stability” in Syria to which refugees from the US-instigated civil war that has raged throughout that country for the past six years could be forcibly returned. Areas will be deemed “safe” if they have been initially cleared of ISIS, an absurdly low standard given the deadly conflicts which continue to rage between different factions in the Syrian civil war.

He also stressed that these areas would come under the control of local governments installed by Washington, presumably drawn from the Kurds and Sunni Islamist opposition forces sponsored by the Pentagon and CIA as part of the US war for regime change against the Assad government in Damascus.

Trump’s secretary of state also demanded a greater commitment both militarily and financially from the 68 countries represented at the meeting. A State Department release prior to the meeting said a key goal would be to “accelerate international efforts to defeat ISIS.”

Tillerson emphasized that US troops would effectively be engaged in a permanent occupation of neighboring Iraq. Even after ISIS is defeated in Mosul, where hundreds of civilians have been killed by the US-backed offensive on the Iraq’s second-largest city, the US military would remain there, Tillerson insisted.

Local leaders and local governments will take on the process of restoring their communities in the wake of ISIS with our support,” he said. “The development of a rejuvenated civil society in these places will lead to a disenfranchisement of ISIS and the emergence of stability and peace where there was once chaos and suffering. But none of this will happen automatically. We all need to support this effort.”...


Posted by: Outraged | Mar 24, 2017 12:35:07 PM | 81

Some tweets from Elijah (I agree)
Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai
- #USA close the road, preventing #Russia from taking part f the battle of #Raqqah, through #SAA & allies. Tabqa airport will serve US forces.
- The #EU will participate to the battle of #Raqqah along w/ #USA: another Syria Kurdistan is about to be established twitter.com/EjmAlrai/statu…
- #USA forces parachutes in Tabqa (to define the line) w/o clashing with #ISIS (militants vanished).
- Interesting coincidence: every time #SAA register serious advance in #ISIS land, #AQ starts new military campaign
- What is clear today: #ISIS is the only group in #Syria without any strategy left to fight for. It is "orphan".

Posted by: b | Mar 24, 2017 12:49:03 PM | 82

For what i ve gathered here and there the US plan illimited occupation of parts of Syria and of Iraq. Thank you Daesh. I start to think that Spiegel on the ex Iraqi Baathists running IS was just some CIA psyop. There was never any doubt for some ppl in Mosul that IS had been US trained because they had the special codes used for activating US made robots.

Posted by: Mina | Mar 24, 2017 12:51:29 PM | 83

@77 bashing Jews qua Jews plays into Zionist hands. They cherish the notion that Jews are a special race, entitled to special treatment.

Posted by: ruralito | Mar 24, 2017 12:57:36 PM | 84

#79 He seems to live in some type of Utopia

This here is the very detached take of Xinhus

Ahmad Ashqar, a political analyst and journalist, said the rebels who are fighting on both fronts are backed by Turkey, which aims to activate its allies on ground at this particular time to gain a political role for the rebels it's backing in the future of Syria.

The move came after the United States has apparently backed the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, and has clearly chosen the group to be the one representing the U.S. interests in Syria.

The United States has recently deployed new ground forces to help Kurdish groups in their push toward Syria's northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State (IS) group.

The attacks also coincided with the recent advance of the Syrian army in several areas. Analysts say these attacks aim to keep the Syrian forces preoccupied with defense in Hama and Damascus rather than offense against Turkey and Gulf-backed rebels elsewhere.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 24, 2017 12:58:33 PM | 85

One of my greatest pet peeves with the press, alt and main, is not providing links to first source material. Rather, these journalists/writers tell you, their reading audience, what occurred through their understanding.

I'm a first source material kinda person. After reading the two stories Outraged @79 linked to I thought it might be wise to hear or read exactly what Tillerson said. Here's a link to his speech before the 68 nations - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZHM3lUJoXg

I'll post the transcript if/when I can dig it out...

Posted by: h | Mar 24, 2017 1:08:04 PM | 86

Here's the transcript - https://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2017/03/269039.htm

Posted by: h | Mar 24, 2017 1:11:25 PM | 87

Posted by: b | Mar 24, 2017 12:49:03 PM | 80

true?
@abdullahawez 1 h ago
SDF spokesperson: we welcome SAA participation in Raqqa offensive because its a national army, but refuse Turkey because it supports terror.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 24, 2017 1:19:01 PM | 88

@ Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 24, 2017 12:17:35 PM | 74

Sad part for the Kurds is that the Green Berets training them are sincere and generally good guys. The Kurds will start to think of them as representative of America's political will. The Kurds will be stabbed in the back and abandoned by U.S. leaders later on when convenient...

Absolutely, unequivocally, true.

Merely exploited pawns, on both sides, deceived expendable 'Human Garbage' to the 0.01%'s servants. The remaining ethnic Montagnards in the Vietnamese Highlands are as a matter of government policy deliberately persecuted to this day as, traitors. Sins of the father ... there are endless other examples, WWII allied Polish Brigades, and so on ...

And it is the same for Case Officers/Agent Handlers (When not Psychopaths/Sociopaths), who must develop a deep trust & confidence, a personal bond with the agent/asset/source ... until eventually, the command comes down to ... cut 'em loose ... regardless of the individual or wider consequences nor promises made or assurances previously given ... and then setup elsewhere and do it all again ...

None of 'us', on any 'side', are of any consideration whatsoever, to the 0.01%, the bankers/financiers & war profiteers/corporations. It's all a 'Racket' ...

Posted by: Outraged | Mar 24, 2017 1:20:29 PM | 89

@ Posted by: h | Mar 24, 2017 1:08:04 PM | 84 & 85

I'm a first source material kinda person.

Wholeheartedly concur. Thanks for the link :)

However, it is also critically important to take note of what is NOT stated. And a transcript without analysis or comment, in isolation, is worth much less, no ? Hence, having read the primary source, the transcript, thoughts ?

Posted by: Outraged | Mar 24, 2017 2:00:40 PM | 90

Thanks for all the group input. The Sadrists will not allow the Empire to fulfill its plans; I keep waiting for them to gain control of Iraq's government. The Axis of Resistance, as Nasrallah calls it (he includes Houthis), will not stand for Tillerson's plan, which means something must be done to win back Erdogan to keep the Turks on board since the Saudis and GCC allies are, aside from their money, essentially useless.

Since Daesh is ultimately a weapon to be used to undermine the Eurasian projects of Russia and China, I'd be very curious to know what counter-measures will be employed--essentially how much risk will be taken to keep Daesh contained to Syraq. Would Putin go so far as to employ Russian Airborne forces to beat the Empire to Tabaq airbase?

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 24, 2017 2:57:14 PM | 91

Outraged @90 - I agree with your suggestion about what is NOT being said. I didn't see the "R" word even once...hhhhmmmm.

I'm still reading through the transcript but one item I still need to gain a better understanding around is the Mosul/Raqqa and then Turkey geopolitical lay of the land. The last several years I've spent the majority of my time learning Syria/Russia/Ukraine and all of those moving parts leaving little time to study the Mosul/Raqqa region.

But here's a cursory observation - the U.S. is replacing a monster with another monster, that is, the Islamic State footprint is being replaced with the U.S. military and her allies footprint, with the U.S. remaining long term as an occupying force. Tillerson didn't quite cross the 'occupying' line when it came to Syria/Raqqa, but he came damned close.

If any of the General's asked me about Syria, I'd say first, bother yourselves to talk with Assad and get permission to even go into Raqqa and if you're so hellbent then second, declare war. Otherwise, stay the hell out. But like I said up post, nobody's calling me.

My larger observation is this, after reading such policy statements, I'm always left asking myself if the leaders of these terrorist entities aren't covert CIA backed/trained warriors to begin with - the leadership NOT the mercenaries - whose job it is to be let loose on some key territory to crush the natives psychologically, outright steal their antiquities, defile the neighborhoods, destroy the institutions and more so that when the very real occupying force (always the U.S.) finally comes into save the day these abused, beaten, downtrodden souls welcome them.

Maybe I'm going to far afield here but I can't help but see these patterns again and again and again when it comes to this contrived U.S. policy called the war on terror.

Lastly, when I juxtapose the U.S. military operation in Mosul to Russia's operation in Aleppo I can clearly see the stark differences in policy, the use of might and tactics. Russia's military goals/policies are managed very, very differently from the U.S. They don't behave like an occupying force.

I hope I'm making sense...

Posted by: h | Mar 24, 2017 3:29:59 PM | 92

@h 62

Neither Trump nor Tillerson being career politicians I think make it very hard to pick where they are headed.

Posted by: Peter AU | Mar 24, 2017 4:19:45 PM | 93

Do we see signs of the captain of the Titanic waking up? The larger context includes massive residual impetus from the Wolfowitz 'The US will brook no rivals' and the Pentagonian Full Spectrum Dominance and the Warburg/Rockefeller and co. 'We will establish global government' 'by consent or conquest', and the CIA as global don. The subplot intention of overthrowing the Syrian government was as we recall publicly disclosed by Gen. Wesley Clark in 2007: He had been informed, and informed us, that “We're going to take out seven countries in five years....” And Syria was on the list.

Trump takes renegade-esque nationalism-emphasizing power, caught within the massive flow of events with the larger ambition of global empire still attached.

Who the “we” in Clark's statement fully stood for is one question. But in any case, it was the United States up front. 2011 was quite the year for initiating new catastrophe. The Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and the Libyan catastrophe were pretty well simultaneously initiated in March of 2011, and the attempt at Syria's destruction followed the same year. Both the wars of aggression on Syria and Libya are repeatedly disingenuously referred to as civil wars. All three catastrophes continue.

One interesting advent in recent months has been a so-far-'soft' civil war being initiated in the United States. Trump, whatever else he is or has done, is a lightning rod for attracting an extraordinary range of fervent opposition, as well as tens of millions of people who see Trump as the best or even last chance to restore some semblance of sanity to the lost deranged American republic.

The ability of Trump to lead the way to a less interventionist and less military-empire maintaining foreign policy will be constrained by the endless US 'civil struggle' manifestations. He's gonna be kept busy at home. Trump's campaign rhetoric re Iran China etc fades away. As distracting as the national mayhem must be, there are indications that the very new and inexperienced captain of the Titanic is making some foreign policy changes.

One of the key innovations that Trump has introduced into US politics is his dismissal of mass media as egregiously dishonest: thus he has helped foment growing greater public cynicism over mass media offerings re foreign policy. Whereas previously the public could be largely successfully manipulated and kept in the dark re US foreign depravities and stupidities, this is less, by some margin, the case now. This implies that US foreign policy will at least have some increased tendency towards greater basis in reality, and be less based on gross lies and magical thinking and censorship. If there's any truth to that, sounds like an improvement.

Posted by: canuck | Mar 24, 2017 4:45:00 PM | 94

@ Posted by: h | Mar 24, 2017 3:29:59 PM | 92

Bravo. Well said.

Pattern recognition indeed. Repeated norms of actual behavior, conduct, acts. UN charter, International Law, Sovereignty, Geneva Conventions, Laws of War ... no State parties are perfect, nor faultless, far from it, yet some are blatant serial offenders ;)

If you control the head of the snake ... you control the snake. Hence, to paraphrase Sun Tzu:

Ten men, ably led, will defeat a hundred, without a head.

So, when fighting 100 men with a 'Head' (leadership/command) why not just nullify the 'Head', ie Kill/neutralize it. Or better still, suborn/compromise, the 'Head'. In the latter case you won't even need the 'ten men' or even have to fight to defeat the 100 ... their yours now, even though they may well not likely realize it, for some time, if at all.

Re the transcript, so the 68 nation coalition (1 + 67 vassals) that enabled, funded, deceived & propagandized this entire endeavor, escalated six long bloody years now, will now turn a new leaf and become principled moral global citizens ?

This quote from the transcript is exceedingly disingenuous, and may I suggest, cuts to the crux re 'intent', or more accurately, likely genuine lack of:

Our Muslim partners, particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt, have important roles to play in combatting the message of ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorist groups.

LOL.

Coalition partners unite to defeat 'Radical Islamic Terrorism', heh ? What about the root of it all, re the convenient 'cannon-fodder' & almost always monitored & under surveillance, 'lone wolves' ? Wahhabism.

Nurtured, financed, supported, developed and entrenched over 120 years ago by 'Perfidious Albion', to become the House of Al-Saud & the Construct of KSA, and the enormous sums of money that flows from the GCC, not much else because other than signing checks they're pretty much useless, organized and co-ordinated by the US & 'Coalition' and has done so since at least 1979 (immediately prior to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 1979-1989) ...

Can find no mention of the actual entities that actually defeated OUR vetted 'moderate' head-choppers (FSA) AQ & ISIS, who did the dirty hard work most crucially over the last 15 months, the Syrian people, the Syrian Army & Air Force, the legitimate elected Syrian government, nor of those who also sacrificed blood & treasure, at enormous national risk & constant threat, Russia & Iran, as well as Hezbollah ?

Not one word ... ... Hm, and that was the entire transcript.

One other observation re primary sources, why does the western MSM not EVER provide transcripts of speeches by the likes of Demon-Head™ Putin, or Evil™ Iranian Presidents, at the UN, conferences, etc ? Would such create dissonance re the sustained one-sided 'narrative' ?

Posted by: Outraged | Mar 24, 2017 5:04:56 PM | 95

@88 somebody, interesting twist if true.. Mind you the SDF is many factions, perhaps the spox is part of the YPG-PYD compnent which is more Baath friendly then the so-called "Syrian Arab Coalition", a mish mash militia US creation? In any case, all are aware of the duplicitous promises emanating from DC..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 24, 2017 6:55:46 PM | 96

@ h
Yes we do not know for sure, all of us or most of us here are merely speculating and do not have access to inside information. But I guess in between your comment at 73 and now, Outraged already provided us with a nice collection of statements made by Tillerson.
“The military power of the coalition will remain where this fraudulent caliphate has existed"
This also coincides with assurances given to Saudi-Arabia much earlier in February by Trump about safe zones in Syria. Personally, I do not care much if this will be done via the Tabqa base or more ground troops, it is an occupation in either case and yet another breach of international law. I think the US will do what is necessary/needed to control the area and defend it, in case Assad and the Syrian people had the audacity to disagree and attack it.

Now the pieces are falling into place. We will see how much the SAA can still salvage from the US, even Deir-ez Zoor is not safe while it is not connected to the rest of the SAA controlled territory.

Posted by: Alex | Mar 24, 2017 7:04:05 PM | 97

Thete is no business like war business! This ia a great info:

https://www.sott.net/article/346236-Thierry-Meyssan-Revelations-Lafarge-Holcims-jihad-against-the-Syrian-government


On 2 March 2017, the company Lafarge-Holcim admitted that its Syrian subsidiary, in violation of UNO resolutions, had «paid sums of money to third parties, including certain third parties who are under sanction, in order to facilitate arrangements with a number of armed groups with a view to maintaining the company's activity and ensuring safe passage for its employees and supplies to and from the factory» [1].
The cement company has already been the object of two enquiries. The first was initiated by the associations Sherpa and ECCHR, on 15 November 2016, while the second was launched by the French Minister of the Economy. Both were reacting to the alleged revelations in Le Monde, according to which Lafarge paid money to Daesh, in violation of UNO resolutions.

It's important to note that the articles published on 2 March in Intelligence Online (a confidential site belonging to Le Monde) and in Le Monde itself on 22 June 2016, were written by a journalist who is not affiliated with these news outlets - Dorothée Myriam Kellou. This young woman studied at Georgtown University. Her statements were confirmed in a book by Jacob Waerness, Risikosjef i Syra, in which the ex-employee decribes the frightening security situation of Lafarge personnel in Syria. The author pursued his collaboration with the cement company after the publication of his book.

The pseudo-revelations of Le Monde were organised in coordination with Lafarge-Holcim in order to focus the attention of the public and the judges on a single point of detail - namely, should they have accepted being held to ransom by Daesh.

The truth is worse than that.

The preparation of the war against Syria

In June 2008, NATO organised the annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group [2] in Chantilly (United States) during which Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama presented themselves to the participants.

Among the 120 people present were Bassma Kodmani (future spokeswoman for the Syrian National Coalition) and Volker Perthes (future assistant of Jeffrey Feltman at the UNO, for Syria). During a debate on the permanence of US foreign policy, they spoke up to commend the importance of the Muslim Brotherhood and the role they could play in the «democratisation» of the Arab world.

Jean-Pierre Jouyet (future Secretary General for the Elysée), Manuel Valls (future Prime Minister of France) and Bertrand Collomb (head of Lafarge) were present alongside Henry R. Kravis (future financial coordinator of Daech).

Lafarge in Syria

Lafarge is the world's leading cement company. NATO entrusted it with the construction of the jihadists' bunkers in Syria and the reconstruction of the Sunni part of Iraq. In exchange, Lafarge allowed the Alliance to manage its installations in these two countries, notably the factory in Jalabiyeh (at the Turkish border, north of Aleppo). For two years, the multinational supplied the materials and equipment for the construction of the gigantic underground fortifications which enabled the jihadists to defy the Syrian Arab Army.

Lafarge is currently directed by US citizen Eric Olsen, who has integrated into his company the factories of the Sawiris brothers and Firas Tlass. The latter is the son of General Moustapha Tlass, President Hafez el-Assad's ex-Minister for Defence. He is the brother of General Manas Tlass, whom France had once considered making the next Syrian President. He is also the brother of Nahed Tlass-Ojjeh, the widow of Saudi arms dealer Akram Ojjeh - she works with the journalist Franz-Olivier Giesbert.

The links between Lafarge and the French Special Forces are facilitated by the friendship between Bertrand Collomb (who became the honorary President of the multinational) and General Benoît Puga (Chief of Staff for Presidents Sarkozy and Hollande).

The lies of Le Monde

First of all, the online news outlet of the anti-Syrian mercenaires, Zaman Al-Wasl, published e-mails showing that Lafarge was paying money to Daesh. Then Le Monde published its articles and took the documents from Zaman Al-Wasl off its Internet site (although you can find them here on our Internet site).

According to Le Monde, the multinational was buying oil to keep its factory running. However, this is untrue - the factory in question runs almost exclusively on coal, which was still being delivered from Turkey. Without realising the enormity of its confession, the daily admitted that Lafarge produced 2,6 million metric tonnes of cement per year, destined for the «rebel zones».

Yet throughout this terrible war, civilians could not obtain permission to build in these zones.

The construction of the jihadists' bunkers

2,6 million metric tonnes for two years adds up to at least six million metric tonnes produced for the «rebels». I'm putting the word «rebel» in quotes, because these combatants are not Syrians - they come from all over the Muslim world, including Europe.

This amount of concrete is comparable to that used by the German Reich, in 1916-17, to build the Siegfried Line. Since July 2012, NATO - including France - have organised a war of position in conformity with the strategy described by Abou Moussab «The Syrian» in his 2004 book, Management of Savagery.

We can imagine the number of military engineers from the NATO Engineering Corps - including the French - who were necessary to build these colossal structures.

Lafarge, the Clintons and the CIA

During the 1980's, Lafarge was defended in its Alabama pollution trial by a famous lawyer, a certain Hillary Rodham-Clinton. She managed to reduce the fine imposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency down to only 1,8 million dollars.

During the mandate of George Bush Sr, Lafarge helped out the CIA by illegally transporting to Iraq the weapons which would be used later on during the rebellion, when Iraq was planned to invade Kuwaït, and the international Coalition was planned to come to liberate it.

During the same period, Hillary Rodham-Clinton became an administrator for the multinational, a post she left when her husband was elected to the White House. President Bill Clinton then reduced to 600,000 dollars the fine that his wife had been unable to avoid for Lafarge. Good relations continued between them, since the cement company donated 100,000 dollars to the Clinton Fondation in 2015, and its new CEO, Eric Olsen, never hesitates to have his photo taken with Hillary Clinton.

The Russian military intervention

Entrenched in their bunkers, the jihadists were not afraid of the Syrian Arab Army, and had no difficulty in holding their positions. For two years, the country was cut in two, since the government chose to save the population and thus to abandon the area.

When Russia stepped in, answering the request by the Syrian government, its mission was to destroy the jihadists' bunkers with penetrating «bunker-buster» bombs. The operation was intended to last three months, from September 2015 until the Orthodox Christmas (6 January 2016). However, the extent of Lafarge-Holcim's constructions proved to be so massive that the Russian Army needed six months to finish the job.

Conclusion

When the transnational company Lafarge-Holcim finished its mission in service of the Military Engineering Corps of NATO, it closed its factory and lent it to the Alliance. So the factory in Jalabiyeh was transformed into a headquarters for the Special Forces of the United States, France, Norway and the United Kingdom, who were occupying the North of Syria illegally.

Contrary to the smoke-screen raised by Le Monde, this is not at all the sad story of a construction company which was forced to negotiate with jihadists in order to save its personnel. Lafarge-Holcim's responsibility is its central role in a vast military operation aimed at the destruction of Syria - a secret war which cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Posted by: ProPeace | Mar 24, 2017 8:40:04 PM | 98

ProPeace 98

Interesting article.
Perhaps part of the reason Idlib is just being used as a holding area for headchoppers at the moment. If there is underground defences built with that much cement and NATO help, then even after a bombing campaign, it would still be a very difficult area to attack.

Posted by: Peter AU | Mar 24, 2017 9:16:25 PM | 99

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 24, 2017 6:55:46 PM | 96

As I understand the US have run into a problem by backing all sides in the Syrian war except Assad.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 24, 2017 9:43:31 PM | 100

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